28 July 2007

Black eyes bean / Rongi Cutlets

It's evening. I stretch my legs on the couch, reach for the remote and flick the TV on. The phone rings, hubby tells me he'll be home sooner than usual. Now that's great news and the perfect setting to have a snack and tea – not something we do usually. Checking the fridge, I find some leftover rongi staring at me. Now, I'm not in a mood to have the same thing again for dinner, and being the way I am, I cannot throw it away either! I wondered if the leftover rongi would turn into a chubby, charming cutlet. With a light salad on the side, it seemed perfect for an instant evening snack. Here we go, ready, steady, cook!

I had around 2 cups leftover rongi to make around 12 cutlets. The rongi should not be runny at all, it should be thick. As the rongi already contains spices, it didn't require any more. Run a potato under water, stick the wet potato in the microwave, cover and cook it for 3 minutes and leave it in the microwave itself for another minute. Remove, peel and mash it. I tore 2 slices of bread, ran it in the chopper for a few seconds. Add it with the mashed potato to the rongi to bind it and shape into cutlets. Heat oil in a pan, shallow fry the cutlets 5-6 at a time, about 2-3 minutes each side on a medium flame. As all the ingredients are already cooked, you don't have to fry it too long.

While the cutlets are frying, grate a carrot, chop some coriander leaves finely and slice an onion and mix them. Squeeze half a lime over it, add some salt and pepper and toss.

I served the cutlets with bread, the salad, tomato ketchup, mango-chilli sauce and tea. The whole process took about 20 minutes. It was a complete meal with a bit of all nutrients -carbohydrates (bread, potatoes, breadcrumbs); proteins (rongi/black eyed beans); vitamins(salad); minerals (spices); fat (oil). This idea should work with left over rajma or kale channe or chhole too.

I'm sending this over to Mallugirl for her Summer Express Cooking Event.

22 July 2007

Rongi / Lobhia / Black Eyed Beans Curry

Black eyed beans curry ( or rongi or lobhia or ravaan as it is called) is again a simple, protein packed dish suited for everyday cooking. This is my second entry to RCI Punjab, initiated by Lakshmi and hosted by Richa.

3 cups of black eyed beans/ rongi / lobhia / ravaan
3 onions
5 tomatoes
2 green chillies
1 ½ tbsp ginger-garlic paste
a pinch of asafoetida
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
Salt as per taste
Coriander for garnish

Wash the black eyed beans well and soak for 2 hours. Drain the soaked water and pressure cook the beans with salt and slices of ginger till they are soft. While the beans are cooking, chop the onions and puree the tomatoes. Heat oil in a pan, add the asafoetida and sauté the onions till brownish red in colour. Add the ginger-garlic paste and slit green chillies and fry. Then pour the tomato puree, add the red chilli powder, turmeric powder and coriander powder. Cook the puree well till the raw smell disappears and the oil separates. Then add the cooked beans, mashing it slightly with the spoon. Add the garam masala and stir through well. Garnish with coriander leaves. Serve with rotis or parathas.

Here are some more Punjabi specialities – take a sneak peak!

Makki di roti and Sarson da saag

Amritsari Fish Fry

Mushroom Mattar Paneer


18 July 2007

Watermelon Icecream and Melon Surprise

Bee, here's a watermelon postcard coming your way....! :)

We love watermelons. For us, watermelons and summers are synonymous. No fruit quenches thirst like the crunchy watermelon. True to its name, watermelons have very high water content about 92%. They are also an excellent of vitamins A, B and C, magnesium and potassium. Pink watermelons contain beta carotene and lycopene, a cancer-fighting anti oxidant.

Once cut, watermelons must be refridgerated to preserve their freshness. They should be used up as soon as possible as cutting degrades the fruit rapidly. Watermelon puree or juice should also be freshly prepared and consumed as preserving it causes indigestion.

We happened to pick the best watermelon of this summer - deep red, juicy and crunchy. Cutting it up and picking out the seeds is the messiest part – something the better half does when the sun rises from the west. Now to finish off a huge watermelon between the two of us was a huge task in itself! This is how we finished it off!!

The best way to have watermelon – cut into chunks and gobble it up!

The second best way to have watermelon – blend the chunks into juice. You can strain it if you like, I don't. Freeze left over juice.

Melon Surprise

Blend together 2 cups of watermelon chunks and 1 cup of pineapple chunks. Add 2 spoons of amla/gooseberry juice, a dash of lime and a hint of ginger and blitz. Decorate with a pineapple slice.

I also had to come up with something for AFAM, created by Maheswari, and hosted this month at Jugalbandi. So I came up with the idea of watermelon icecream. A "lite" icecream with a beautiful pink colour - we loved it!

You need :
One recipe basic icecream
1 cup watermelon puree
1/2 cup cream
2 tbsp sugar ( I used just 1 tbsp)
1 tsp cornflour
a drop of rose essence (optional). I didn't use it as my watermelon "smelt" good.

Prepare basic icecream as given here.
Cut the basic icecream into chunks. Churn it till it's fluffy adding the cream. Cook the watermelon puree with sugar for 2-3 minutes and add cornflour mixed in a little water to thicken the puree slightly. Cool the puree. Add it to the basic icecream and churn for a minute. Pour into a container and freeze till set.

12 July 2007

Safety Moment #3 : Kitchen Appliances and Tools

Kitchen appliances have enhanced our lives with comfort and convenience. Proper care and regular checks are necessary to correct or avoid hazards and ensure safety.

Basic safety steps:
· Always purchase appliances and equipments that are tested and passed by the regulatory authority of your country of residence.
· Always follow the appliance manufacturer's instructions for installing and plugging into electrical power.
· Follow the manufacturer's instructions for use and cleaning the appliance.
· Keep all electrically powered appliances and equipments away from sinks and areas where water is used.
· Check that all cords are in good condition and not knotted or coiled. Never use worn, frayed or otherwise damaged cords or appliances.
· Always ensure that appliances are not carrying more than the recommended load. Do not overload circuits by using multiple plugs, extension cords or the like.
· Do not allow appliance cords to dangle over the edge of counter tops or tables.
· Unplug appliances when not in use. If an appliance smells funny or doesn't function correctly, have it repaired or replaced.
· Before leaving the house and especially leaving for holidays ensure that appliances not in use are switched off and plugs are disconnected.

Food processors/Mixers/Choppers:
· Always use push sticks or tamps to feed or remove food from these types of machines.
· Do not use your hands to feed smaller pieces of meat through slicers.
· Do not open up or put your hands into an operating machine to stir contents or guide food while the food is processing.
· Make sure the processor is off before opening the lid or adding items.
· Do not wear loose clothing or jewellery that could become caught in machinery.
· Turn off and unplug the machine before disassembling and cleaning or removing a blockage.

Coffee Makers:
· Do not place hot coffee makers close to the edge of counters where people passing by may come in contact with them.
· Check to make sure the coffee filter is in place before making any coffee.
· Do not remove the filter before the coffee has stopped dripping.
· Never stick your fingers into the chamber of a coffee grinder to get beans to drop into the grinder; tapping on the outside of the container will encourage beans to drop into grinder.

· Do not open the door while the steamer is on, shut off the steam, and then wait a couple of minutes before releasing the pressure and opening.
· Clear the area around the steamer before opening.
· Open the steamer door by standing to the side, keeping the door between you and the open steamer.
· Use oven mitts to remove hot trays from the steamer.
· Place hot, dripping steamer trays on a cart to transport. If trays are carried by hand, they will drip on floors and create a slip hazard.
· If a steamer is stacked, remove the tray from the top steamer first, then the lower one, to prevent burns from rising steam.

Pressure Cookers
· Shut off the steam supply and wait for the pressure to equalize before opening the lid of the pressure cooker.
· Stand to the side and open the pressure cooker away from yourself, keeping the open lid between you and the pressure cooker.

Kitchen Knives:
Asha has written a comprehensive article on Safety tips about Kitchen Knives at Aroma. Read it here.

To be continued...
Disclaimer: All information is taken from various sources on the internet.

5 July 2007

Makki di roti and sarson da saag

Lush yellow mustard fields, girls dressed in brightly coloured salwar kameezes singing "Ghar aaja pardesi tera des bulaye….." a scene straight from Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. The very mention of Punjab can conjure up the rich flavours of its renowned cuisine and the first thing that springs to your mind is makki di roti and sarson da saag. Typically prepared in winter when mustard leaves are abundantly available sarson da saag is a gravy prepared out of mustard leaves. Makki di roti is an Indian bread made from maize flour. I was quite newly married when I was introduced to this seasonal speciality. My inlaws and husband's grandma, who is affectionately called Pabiji were visiting us here. Apart from the gifts, pickles and sweets, they brought with them huge white radishes, spinach, mustard leaves, maize flour etc. "We thought you don't get any Indian things here," they said when we jokingly remarked that they had carried a grocer's shop with them! I was totally bowled over by Pabiji's zeal and affection, (she's way past 80) as she sat cross legged on the floor grating the radishes and kneading the dough as my mother in law prepared the saag. Needless to say the lunch was divine!

For Sarson ka saag you need:
3 bunches sarson/mustard leaves
1 bunch palak/spinach
1 bunch bathua/ Chenopodium album, (a small leafed winter green supposed to have medicinal properties, usually used in making parathas in North India)
4 onions chopped
2 tomatoes chopped
3 green chillies minced
1 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp wheat flour
2 tbsp pure ghee
Salt and red chilli powder to taste

Remove stems and wash the mustard leaves, spinach and bathua well. Chop finely and pressure cook them on slow flame for half an hour. Cool and grind coarsely.

Heat oil in a pan and sauté the onion till golden brown. Add garlic, green chillies and stir fry. Add the tomato and cook till tender. Add the coarse sarson mixture, salt and cook for about 20 minutes. Add wheat flour diluted in 2 tbsp water and for for a minute or two. Temper with red chilli powder and ghee and serve hot.
Here I do not get mustard leaves or bathua, so I use spinach and follow the same method to cook the saag. Tastes great!

For makki di roti you need :
2 ½ cups maize flour
1 cup grated radish
1 cup methi/fenugreek leaves
3 tbsp coriander leaves
2 green chillies
salt to taste

Chop the fenugreek leaves, coriander leaves and green chillies finely. In a bowl add all the ingredients and mix well. Knead into a dough adding just sufficient water. Now take a small lump of the dough, roll into a ball and flatten between the palms to make thick small rotis. Roast on both sides on a hot tava, applying ghee on both sides. This takes time to cook, so keep the flame medium/slow. Serve hot, smearing white butter/makhan on the roti with sarson da saag, dahi/curds and pickle.

This is my entry to RCI – Punjabi guest hosted by Richa of As Dear As Salt. RCI is the brainchild of LakshmiK of Veggie Cuisine.

Updates :

1. You may also add suva/dill to the saag - it imparts a great flavour.

2. Ready to eat, canned sarson ka saag ( I forget the brand) is also available in the market. For those who have never tasted sarson ka saag, this is a good option.

3. Other ways to make rotis: press the ball on a flat surface and flatten to make a roti OR roll the ball between two plastic sheets to form a roti.

4. If any of you know what bathua is called in any other language, please let me know too. :)