Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Purple Pasta

Today I want to show you a wonderful tasty pasta recipe from my favorite book 'Vegetarian pasta cookbook'. There are lots of nice recipes in this book along with pretty pictures. Good thing about this book is- the recipes are grouped by Main Ingredient. Most of the pasta I cook are influenced by this book.
I made this Red Cabbage Pasta after I saw a recipe for Braised Pasta with Red cabbage Bake in this book. This is one of our favorite pasta for dinner. You can omit the cheese. Original recipe has Pine nuts (Chilgooza). I add it when it is in my pantry, and sometimes replace it with pecans or walnuts. 

Total time-45 mins
Appliance- Rice Cooker or Non-stick pan

Butter/Olive oil- 2 tbsp
Garlic 2 cloves (crushed) / 1/2 tsp paste/ 1/4 tsp powder
Onion (sliced)- 1 1/2 cup
Red cabbage (sliced)- 2 cup
Oregano/Thyme- 1/2 tsp dried or 2 tsp fresh
Black pepper and salt  1/2 tsp each
Pasta (I mixed penne and fusilli as they have same cooking time)- 1 cup
Cheddar cheese- 3-4 tbsp (optional)
Pine nuts/ Pecans/ Walnuts- 2 tbsp
Sultanas/ Raisins- 2 tbsp

You can add garlic crushed/ paste/ powder, black pepper and fresh herbs (if using).

Add 1/2 tsp salt. Salt is added in less quantity as boiled pasta and cheese have salt too.

I did not wash the pan before filling it with water. You must have noticed tiny cabbage pieces floating.

You can cover the lid when boiling and also do not forget to keep stirring the pasta time to time during the first 5 mins of cooking to prevent them sticking to each other.

You can save this water to make soup, can freeze it and use later.

If you are adding pasta with different cooking time add the bigger ones first and add the easily cooking(smaller or thinner) pasta lafter a few mins.

Also add the dried oregano /thyme (if using) and 1/4 tsp black pepper (powdered).

If you are vegan then omit cheese.

Remove the pan from the rice cooker when done or the pasta might dry out and become tough. You can add 2 tbsp of water (in which it was boiled) and keep the rice cooker in warm mode too.

It tastes nice even when eaten at room temperature. Enjoy with a little chilli flakes or pepper powder sprinkled on top.

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Saturday, 21 September 2013

Instant Bisi Bele Bhath

Bisi Bele Bhath is a medley of Rice, Dal and Masala with or without vegetables.

It is a popular one dish meal in Bangalore and Mysore. I am a great fan of this and can eat it for all the 3 meals.You can make it with rice or beaten rice. If you are regularly visiting this blog you must have seen the Instant Beaten Rice Mix and 4 types of Instant Dal Mix. I have used these to prepare Bisi Bele Bhath.

Though this requires a special masala called Bisibele bhath masala I am using Vangibhath Masala Powder as it is more versatile. You can use it to make stir-fry and other flavored rice too.
Too many types of masala just clutter your pantry, and they loose freshness after few months.
If you don't want to use this Masala you can use garam masala and chilli pd.

Serves- 1 hungry person
Cooking time- 20 mins
To make this you will need-
  • 1 tbsp Instant dal mix -2 (you can use Instant dal mix-1)
  • 1/4 cup (3 tbsp) Instant Beaten Rice Mix (Basic tempering/ South Indian tempering/ yellow or white  or 1 cup steamed rice (great way to use leftover rice)
  • 1/2 -3/4 cup frozen or fresh mixed vegetables(such as carrot, french beans, cauliflower, green peas)
  • 1 tsp MTR Vangibhath Powder /1/2 tsp each garam masala powder and chilli pd
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder (optional, I don't use it)
  • 1 tsp jaggery powder or brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp tamarind or 1/2 cup finely chopped tomato (deseeded) or 2 tsp tomato puree
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Let's start cooking-
1. If you are using frozen vegetables-thaw them for 10 mins outside the refrigerator. Otherwise
    the cooking time will increase.
2. Soak the Instant Poha Mix, in 3/4 cup (150 ml) water and keep aside.
3. Mix Instant dal Mix, masala powder, jaggery /brown sugar, tamarind in 3/4 cup (150 ml)
    water into this. Stir well and keep ready.
4. Boil the frozen veggies in 1 cup water in a thick bottomed vessel or rice cooker till french
    beans are tender. (about 10 mins). Always boil these vegetables without any sour ingredients
    (tomato, tamarind etc. Sour ingredients don't help some vegetables and beans to cook.
5. Add the dal paste and tomato (if using). Stir well so that dal and the vegetables have mixed
    well. Let this boil for 7 mins. Do not forget to stir after every 2 minutes.
6. Now add the soaked beaten rice flakes or rice into this and cook further. Check whether it
    requires salt (about 1/2 tsp).
7. Cook for 3 mins and when the mixture starts bubbling remove from heat.

Taste enhancer-
Heat 2 tsp oil and fry 1-2 tsp cashew pieces, when they turn golden add 1/2 cup green capsicum (bell pepper) fry for 2 mins. (If you are making this in the rice cooker -fry this first and transfer it into a bowl.)
Garnish this over the Bisi Bele Bhath.

Different ways of relishing this-
  1. Transfer this Bisi bele bhath into a bowl and top it with Crisp Potato Chips (This is known as Wafers in Mumbai) or Savoury boondi (Khaara Boondi in Karnataka)  and eat when it is still warm.
  2. You can eat with little pure ghee.
  3. I like to eat this with a bowl of yoghurt or Onion-Tomato-Cucumber raita.

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Monday, 16 September 2013

Instant Dal Fry and Dal Hariyali (Dal & leafy vegetables)


Most of the Indian dal look same but taste different. So today we have 3 different Instant dals all equally delicious. I tasted all these dal only after I shifted to Mumbai. 

Whenever we went out to eat in the restaurants, Dal fry never missed its appearance on our tables. It is one of the most popular dal because it is quick to make and very tasty.You can make this with the Instant Dal Mix-4 in 20 mins without a pressure cooker. It is faster than a home delivery.

First you should fry an onion and then a tomato in oil or butter till they are soft. You can do this in a rice cooker (See this post on Frying in electric cooker) or a microwave too. Next make a paste of Instant dal mix-4 with water and add in the fried mixture. Boil till thick.

You can use the same Instant Dal Mix-4 for making 
  • Dal Haryali (Dal with any green leafy vegetable)   
  • Dal Methi (Fenugreek leaves with dal) &
  • Dal Palak (Spinach with dal)

If you plan to eat with roti or bread make these dal little thick. If you prefer to eat with plain rice or any spiced rice (Pulav), then make it slightly thin (not watery). You can add some fresh cream or milk to make it richer as you get to eat in the restaurants.

Servings: 2-3
Appliance requiredRice cooker /microwave / stove
Cooking time:      20 mins
All you need is:               
                           2 tbsp butter or oil or each 1 tbsp
                           1 onion (chop into pieces)
                           1 tomato (deseeded and chopped into pieces)/ 1.5 tbsp tomato puree
                           1 cup frozen chopped spinach/ 1tbsp frozen chopped fenugreek leaves
                                                                              / 2 tsp Kasuri Methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
                           2 tbsp Instant dal mix -4 
                           3-4cups water
                           1 tbsp fresh cream/1/4 cup milk/1tbsp skimmed milk pd (optional)
                           1 tsp coriander leaves or cilantro (optional)
Let's prepare:

  1. Heat oil in a microwave safe glass bowl / rice cooker pan / saucepan.
  2. Add  onion and fry 2 mins till nearly golden.
  3. Next put in tomato and fry 3 mins if you are adding tomato puree stir fry only for 30 secs.
  4. If you are making it with leafy vegetables add frozen methi (fenugreek) or Kasuri Methi (dried fenugreek) or frozen spinach (palak) and fry for 2 mins.
  5. Take 2 tbsp Instant dal mix -4 (don't takeout dry red chilli from it now)  into a bowl and add 1/4-1/2 cup water stir well to form a paste.
  6. Add 2 cups water to this  and stir well .
  7. Add this dal into this  onion-tomato-leafy vegetable mixture. Also take out one dry red chilli from the instant mix and add into this dal. Boil for another 10 min on slow heat . (Takes less time in microwave). Keep stirring in between and also check whether you need to add salt (about 1/4-1/2 tsp).
  8. You might need to add another 1/2-1 cup water if it is too thick. During the last 2 mins add beaten fresh cream/milk.
  9. You can put 1/2 tsp ghee or 1 tsp butter. Garnish with coriander (cilantro) on top for dal fry if you like.
  10. Eat with steamed white rice, cumin rice( jeera rice) and papad or with any bread.

These dals tend to thicken when it cools down. Add some water (hot or room temp) and reheat.
 Freezing Fenugreek leaves-
I always buy a big bunch of fenugreek and freeze them. First we have to discard the thick stems retaining the thin ones. Next  wash it thrice to remove any sand and allowed to drain in a colander.When all the water has drained, put these in the food processor and chop finely using pulse motion. Freeze these chopped greens in small portions in plastic bags or containers.
 Drying Fenugreek leaves-
You can make your own dried methi in the microwave.

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Thursday, 12 September 2013

Savory semolina cakes (Rava Idly) in Rice cooker or Microwave

This Semolina Idly is a very filling breakfast and it takes about 10mins to prepare. Make things easier by preparing and storing this Instant Semolina cake(Idly) Mix in your free time. If you do not have time to prepare the instant mix just buy the Rava Idly Instant Mix from the store and use. You can steam these in an idly mould or small flat bottomed cups. Adding coriander leaves or grated carrot makes it colorful and increases its nutritive value. The curd or buttermilk that you are using should be slightly sour. If you are new to making these idlis try adding fruit salt to get soft idly.

New! Click here to print the Instant Semolina Idly recipe label and stick it on your INSTANT IDLI MIX JAR.

Preparation time- 5mins
Cooking time-       5-7mins

Appliance and utensils-
  • Rice cooker or Microwave
  • 1 Mixing bowl of 500ml capacity
  • 1 mixing spoon
  • 4 small flat based cup (7cm diameter) steel or aluminium for rice cooker (microwave plastic cups)
Things required-
  • 100ml -Instant Semolina Idly Mix
  • 100ml -Butter milk or (100ml yoghurt+50ml water)
  • 2 tbsp -grated carrot or 1/4 cup frozen mix veggies (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda or 1 tsp eno fruit salt
  • Little oil to grease the moulds/ paper cups to line the microwave bowls

Steaming idlis in the rice cooker- 
Grease small muffin moulds or small flat based cups with little oil or ghee.
Pour 200ml water in the rice cooker pan and place the steamer on it. 
Cover the pan with its lid and push the 'Cook' button. 
Let the water boil. It will take about 3-5 mins.

Take Instant Semolina Idly mix in a bowl add buttermilk or (yoghurt+ water). 
You can mix in grated carrot / steamed n cooled- mixed vegetables. 
Stir this mixture with a spoon (in one direction). 
The batter becomes slightly foamy. Do not stir after it foams up. 
You can rest this mixture for 3-5 mins while waiting for the water to boil in the rice cooker.

If your mix does not contain soda or eno
If you have not added soda or eno in the instant mix the batter won't foam. 
You can rest this mixture for 30 mins. Soaking helps the rava to swell before cooking and the idlis become soft and spongy.
The idly batter may become thick after soaking, add 1/4-1/2 cup buttermilk/yoghurt to make it thin.
After soaking for 1/2 hr add 1/2 tsp soda or 1 tsp fruit salt (eno) and stir it in one direction.

Divide this batter equally into the greased cups (about 2 tbsp in each). 
Batter should be neither runny  nor  very thick. 
If it is very thick try adding 2 tsp yoghurt.

If you find the batter surface uneven (like you see in the picture below) don't push it with a spoon. Instead place the cup on a folded napkin or pot holder and bang it gently so that the batter settles down with even surface.

Arrange the cups in the steaming pan. 

Cover with a lid and steam for 5-7 mins. 
You can switch off the rice cooker during the last 2 mins, the idly continues to steam due to the heat in the cooker.

Idly will raise while cooking. 
You may touch its surface or insert a knife or a spoon handle to test whether it is done.
It should not stick on your fingers or the spoon.

Remove and rest it for 2 mins and gently move a knife or a spoon handle around the idly to loosen them from the cup. Invert them on to a plate.

Making idly in the microwave-

Flatten the paper cups and place them in the microwave proof cups.

Fill it with the batter as above and cook on high for 2 mins. Every cup needs 2 mins, and if you have 4 cups it will be 8 mins. Arrange them in the outer circle, leaving the centre of the turn table empty. You may find that the idlis are uncooked in the centre. 

You can cook it 20 secs more. Then take them out of the microwave.Keep them covered with a lid for 5 mins, it will continue cooking outside the microwave.

These idlis made in microwave without steamer are soft when eaten hot but become little hard later. Invert the bowl on a eating plate and peel the paper cup.

If you have a microwave steamer or idli maker use it for better results. The idlis turn out softer in this due to the steam.

How to eat these-
Some love to dab a little ghee over them and eat along with Chutney powder (Lentil and spices powdered together).

I enjoy eating them with Spicy Indian mashed potato with little gravy -(also called Batatyache Pathal Bhaji, Aloo gadde Saagu, Alu Masial, Tamatarwale Alu in different parts of India). 
This can be easily prepared in the rice cooker. I will post it after few days.

You can use the tiny cups which comes inside the Spice box (Masala Dabba) to steam these idly.
Steam the frozen mix veggies and cool before adding.

Chutney powder recipe links

I have come across many tasty chutney powder recipes on various food blogs lately, so I decided to round up a few to share with you here. All look yummy and easy to prepare. 

1. Lentil chutney powder

2. Curry leaf chutney powder

3. Flax seed chutney powder

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Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Instant Semolina Idly Mix

Fermented rice cake called Idly is a popular breakfast food in Southern India.
Traditional Rice and Lentil Idly require soaking, wet grinding and fermentation. Even though Ready-made  fermented Rice Idly batter is available in some cities, storing them is quite difficult.
This Instant Semolina Idly mix is convenient  to make Semolina Idly during traveling or for dorm cooking. They are time savers. When you need Idly just for a single person then this mix is a blessing. All you have to do is mix this with yoghurt, transfer them into cup cake (muffin) tins and steam them in rice cooker. You can eat this out of the same bowl in which it was steamed. Add grated carrot or frozen spinach or steamed mix veggies to increase its nutritive value.
Interestingly my computer recognises the word Idly but not Idli.

Yield per 100 ml Instant Idly mix =  4 Idly =1 serving

Semolina idly with chutney powder

Ingredients  required for  Instant semolina idly mix-

400ml semolina (medium variety also called Upma Rava)
2 tbsp ghee or oil or 1tbsp of both
1 tsp salt (if you add more, idly will become salty)
1tsp baking soda or 2 tsp Eno fruit salt

For Spiced Rava idly  mix

If you want Masala Idly add the following tempering to the ghee or oil. You can omit any thing if it is unavailable.

½ tsp mustard
1 tsp chick pea split (chana dal) (optional, I don't use it)
1 tsp black gram split (urad dal)
2 tsp green chillies pieces ( semi dry in microwave)
2 tbsp coriander (cilantro) leaves (optional)
10 curry leaves (wash, pat dry and chop finely)
2 tsp cashew pieces
¼ tsp asafoetida (optional)
¼ tsp ginger pd (optional)

Plain Rava idly mix-

Heat oil or ghee in a pan.
Add the and roast over a low heat for 3-5 minutes till you get a nice aroma. Give it a stir from time to time to avoid the semolina (rava) from browning.
Cool completely. Mix in salt and soda (fruit salt) and store this in an airtight container.

Masala (Spiced ) idly mix-

If you are adding coriander (cilantro) to the mix, remove the tough stems, wash, pat dry with a towel and semi-dry them in microwave for 60-80 secs).

Heat oil or ghee in the pan. When you add ghee + oil it will foam as you see in this picture.

Put in mustard and when it starts to jump around add chana dal and fry till slightly golden next add in black gram dal. I did not add chana dal (split chick pea).

When this dal becomes golden add semi-dried green chillies, chopped curry leaves and cashew pieces. Roast till cashew pieces turn golden (less than a minute).

Add semolina and semi-dried coriander leaves. Roast this for 3-5 mins over low heat. The coriander leaves should be crisp by now.

Remove from heat and add salt, ginger pd and asafoetida. Mix well.
Leave it in the pan till it is completely cool. Add baking soda (crumble it with finger if any lumps are present) or fruit salt and mix thoroughly for even mixing.

Instant mix without coriander leaves

Store this in an air tight container for 15 days (with cilantro) or for a month (without cilantro). You can store this in refrigerator for few more months.

  • To increase its shelf life store this in small batches ( ½ or 1 cup each) in plastic bags because constant opening of the container might make the baking soda inert.
  • You can add soda at the time of making Idly. For every cup of instant mix add ½ tsp soda or 1 tsp fruit salt and stir well to blend it evenly.
  • I know some of you may think of semi-drying grated carrot and adding it into this mix. YES, you can do it but you will have to refrigerate the instant mix.
  • You can completely dry the coriander leaves in the microwave if you are staying in a humid region.
 I have posted 2 recipes using this Instant Semolina Mix

1. Semolina Idly(savory cakes)  in microwave/rice-cooker/steamer
New! Click here to print the Instant Semolina Idly recipe label and stick this on your INSTANT IDLI MIX JAR.


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