Kumaoni Raita/ Pahari Raita

Raita, the unique ways in which yogurt is used in India. Most often than not, fresh raw  vegetables such as tomato, onion, cucumber, cilantro are chopped and added to whisked yogurt, which is then gently spiced up with salt , pepper etc. Raitas are served as an accompaniment with main meals to cool and refresh the palatte. The varieties of Raitas in Indian cuisine are endless, some like it sweet with fruits like pineapples added to yougurt , or some like it with Boondi( fried gramflour droplets ) in it.
Todays recipe THE KUMAONI RAITA comes from the hilly region of north India, UTTARKHAND. And uses cucumber and mustard seeds as the main ingredient.


When you talk about Uttarkhand, immediately you think of beautiful scenic mountains , high up in the clouds, where the  ice caped mountain  kiss the fluffy clouds which seem like Gossamer., and beautiful valleys and Rivers.
Also Known for  the famous pilgramage places such as Rishikesh, Mukteshwar, Haridwar and pretty hill stations like Nainital and Mussorie.
Uttarkhand has an awesome variety of food, which is simple and easy to put together.
One day I would love to visit this beautiful province, whose panaromic views have attracted me so much. Sigh!

Growung up in Pune, Yogurt in our home was served plain ,or sometimes it was made into a  potato or Boondi raita with a tadka of Rai and jeera,or if mummy was in a good mood,soft sweet dahiwaras were made , mostly on leisurely sunday afternoons . Those were the days when sunday was an important part of the week . That day was a movie date day for mummy and daddy, after which they took us to the local parks in Pune. Either Sambhaji park, or Peshwa park and sometimes to Bund garden . Childhood pleasures were simple but the memories left behind were priceless.
Koi lauta de mere  beete hue din..nostalgia.

On to the recipe, try to use cucumbers with less seeds.. My suggestion is to make the Raita in the night, to let the awesome flavours  of fresh mustard seeds merge into the yogurt. Or at least make it 6 hours before serving. This is a very simple no fuss recipe which comes together in no time. The tartness of mustard seeds, reminds one of wasabi flavours. Do try it.

Ingredients
300 gms fresh yogurt
300 gms cucumbers/ kheera
1.5 tsps mustard seeds
2 tsps cumin seeds
1 green chillies
1/2  tsp turmeric powder
Salt to taste
1/4 tsp asofoedita /hing
1 tbsp mustard oil
2 dry red chillies..broken into smaller pieces
Red chillie powder and chopped cilantro for garnish

Method.
1. Whisk the yogurt in a bowl
2. Grate the cucumbers,DO NOT squeeze the water from cucumbers.
3. Grind together green chillies, cumin seeds, mustard seeds , turmeric powder.( I have used the mortar and pestle, to grind manually) you could use a mixer grinder.
4. Add the mustard paste to the whisked yogurt and mix well. Season with salt.
5. Add grated cucumbers. Mix well, cover bowl and refrigerate for minimum 6 hours.
6. Heat mustard oil in a small pan and add hing , dry red chillies.
7. Pour this tadka over the yogurt, garnish with red chillie powder and chopped corriander. Serve chilled.
Kheere ka raita is ready to be served.

I love having this kumaoni raita with Aloo pitika and luchis and sooji ka seera.

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Ras kalaan

A vegetarian dish which is simple to cook and delicious to eat, describes Ras kalaan, which originates from the southern state of Kerala, inspite of not containing any onions, garlic or ginger, is yet so pleasing to the palette.
In today’s recipe I have added drumsticks, sweet potato, broccoli and green peas. Normally it is made using tubers like yam or potatoes. I like adding different vegetables to this, and at times, have even used mushroons, babycorn etc . Do try this recipe which comes together very quickly.
KALAAN, A name which was so unfamiliar to me years ago, until I stumbled upon it by chance when south Indian food was a big mood with me, it was that particular year when I was cooking a lot of south Indian food. Having been born and brought up In India, I love the regional food which our great country has to offer.
Back to the KAALAN, which is basically a keralite preparation, made with fresh coconut and yogurt. Its fresh and tangy taste is so refreshing , making you want to make it it often. The ideal pairing for this vegetable is rice, though I prefer having it with a roti adai(rice flour roti)or paratha.
Many of us have a image about south Indian food which probably consists of Dosa, Idli, Uttapams etc. Reality is that its a vast platter of numerous dishes which delight the palette. So, on to the recipe. Feel free to replace any vegetables with your favourites.😊

Ras Kalaan
Ingredients
4 drumsticks..scraped,cut into 4 to 5 pieces , and boiled.
1 small sweet potatoe, boiled and cubed
1/2 cup green peas( I used frozen)
1 cup broccoli flowerlets, par boiled.
(Roughly about 200 gms mixed vegetables)
1 cup fresh grated coconut
4 dry red chillies
2 cups fresh yogurt
1 tsp methi seeds (fenugreek)
1 tsp raw rice(washed)
2 tbsps palm sugar( gur) jaggery
1 or 2 green chillies
FOR TEMPERING
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 dry red chillies, broken into pcs
1 tbsp chana dal
1 tbsp urad dal
Few curry leaves
Salt
1/2 tsp Turmeric powder

Method
1. Heat 1 tsp coconut oil in a pan and add 1 tsp methi seeds and 2 dry red chillies(broken). Saute for 2 mins.
2. Grind 1 cup grated coconut, 2 cups yogurt, 2 green chillies, 1 tsp raw rice, the sauted methi seeds and dry red chillies. Grind to a smooth paste. Keep aside.
3. Heat 2 tbsps coconut oil in a pan, add 1 tsp mustard seeds, 1 tbsp chana dal and 1 tbsp udad dal, curry leaves. Saute for a while till fragrant.
4. Add the vegetables and coconut paste along with turmeric powder, salt, 2 tbsps palm sugar and half cup of water.
5. Cook for 5 to 10 mins. Untill oil seperates.
Serve hot with steamed rice, or parathas.

Watermelon and cottage cheese salad

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Watermelon , one of the most loved fruits all over the world,this wonderful fruit, quenches our thirst and hunger at the same time and has very  few calories.. a boon for anyone on a diet. This fruit which is more than 91 percent water, is a god sent on a hot humid day, as it keeps us hydrated. Watermelon has been used in cocktails or mocktail with amazing results as it blends well with almost all flavours as well as lending its pretty red colour . Using it as a ingredient in salads also produces amazing results, the use of feta cheese in an  chilled italian watermelon salad is awesome specially if its sprinkled with chopped mint leaves… hmmmmm.

Today, the recipe i will share with you is a fusion of the east and west cultures, it is a simple salad using just few ingredients but it makes for a good centerpiece at any party, and a good appetizer before any meal. For me, watermelon brings back those lovely memories of the hot and dry Pune summers.  The vendors at the market  and roadside with their carts full of this luscious emerald green skinned fruit heralded the beginning of summer for us, which in turn meant half days at school.  Walking home at 1 pm in the hot heat,  we could hardly wait to reach home, where my mom would have drawn the curtains, making our home oh so cool, the fan whirring at full speed and the best site, my mom cutting cold watermelon and giving us heaped platefuls of cold cut watermelon sprinkled with salt. A good way of keeping our electrolytes in balance. Miss those good old carefree days.. brings to my mind a beautiful song sung by late kishore kumar, koi lauta de mere beete hue din, of course i always have an appropriate hindi song for any situation..:) because of my love for old hindi songs, but will keep that topic for another post. Do try this recipe and don’t forget to serve it chilled. and do give this post a like and share it with your friends.

Ingredients..

Half a seedless watermelon

1 bowl of hung curd

1 tbs of whole caraway seeds ( shah jeeri) gently roasted

few strands of saffron, soaked in a tbsp of hot water and  ground to a paste

half cup of grated cottage cheese(paneer)

juice of half a lemon

1 tsp of finely grated lemon rind

finely chopped cilantro, and few mint leaves

salt and pepper to taste

1 tbsp of honey.

method..

Take a melon baller spoon and scoop out small balls from the watermelon

Put the balls in a strainer for 15 mins till excess water drains out

Meantime , in a bowl, mix together the hung curd, saffron, honey, salt pepper, lemon rind and lemon juice  to get a amazing sunny dressing.

Now arrange the watermelon balls in a pretty dish, sprinkle the grated cottage cheese (paneer) and half of the chopped  cilantro and mint leaves and gently mix.

Finally pour the yogurt sauce over the balls, and sprinkle generously with the roasted caraway seeds and remaining chopped cilantro and mint leaves…enjoy.