Thursday, January 18, 2018

Varagu Arisi Inippu Pongal - Millet Sweet Pongal

My favorite festival even more so than Deepavali is Pongal, the harvest festival. It is perhaps true for most farming families. Here in the US, the harvest is long been over and we are in the throes of winter so making Suriya pongal is out of the question but we have the trusty pressure cooker to help us out.

Sarakarai(sugar) Pongal is a popular breakfast item in our house. The kids love it and I cook it every now and then. So of course I made it on Pongal day. But this time instead of rice wanted to use millet and ended using varagu arisi or kodo millet for making the pongal.

Pongal has to be kind of mushy and moist not dry. This also means the grains should not be separate and hanging out on their own. Yes! very different from what we would want for biryani or pulav. Millet takes slightly longer to cook than rice. So for the texture you would like for Pongal add 4 1/2 cups of water to one cup of millet. No additional water is needed for the lentils that are to be added.

The recipe in pictures.
Cook the millet and lentils in the required amount of water. Break up the jaggery.
Melt and filter the jaggery and mix it to the rice.
Roast the nuts and raisins, mix in the cardamom powder and roasted nuts to the rice, mix and turn of the heat.

A tasty and delicious dish is ready in no time.

Varagu Arisi Inippu Pongal
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
  1. 1 cup Varagu Arisi - Kodo Millet (1 cup of millet - 4 1/2 cups of water)
  2. 1 cup split yellow moong dal - paasi paruppu
  3. 1/2 cup jaggery
  4. 1/2 tsp cardamom powder
  5. 1/4 cup nuts (I used cashews and charoli)
  6. 1/4 cups raisins
  7. 1/2 cup milk
  8. 2 tbsp ghee

  1. Wash the millet and lentils in several changes of water and add the millet along with the water required in a pressure cooker. Cook for 6-8 whistles and wait for the pressure to subside.
  2. Take the jaggery in a sauce pan along with one cup of water, heat till the jaggery dissolves completely. Filter the impurities out.
  3. Heat the ghee in a pan, add the nuts first roast till they start to brown, add the raisin and roast for a minute more. Turn off the heat.
  4. Open the cooker and give a good mix. Add in the jaggery syrup and mix it well. Turn the heat to a low and gently add the milk while mixing.
  5. Now add in the cardamom powder and the fried nuts. Mix and quickly turn off the heat and remove from the stove.
  6. Note:To powder cardamom add with it a tsp of sugar and powder in a spice grinder.
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Saturday, January 13, 2018

Coop to Plate - Quiche on a stovetop

The farm welcomed some chicks in the summer and the young chicks have become old enough now to give us fresh eggs everyday. Chickens are a pretty self sufficient bunch. The toughest part about having chickens is to keep them from being eaten by predators. Once they are protected and kept warm they are generous with their eggs. The roosters are interesting and pretty protective of their flock. The flock as it gets comfortable follows people around. DD2 is their most favorite person as she is their caretaker supplying them with water and food daily!

We are eating a lot more eggs and also trying to find new and exciting ways to eat them. DD2 loves taking eggs to school and quiche is one of her favorites but to cook quiche is the morning is a time consuming affair so I had to devise a quick and easy way to cook them. If you have about 20 - 25 minutes to spare in the morning that is. Don't laugh I know 25 minutes in the morning is a stretch but food is more important than anything else right? If you can find the time you would be more than satisfied. This quiche can become a quite filling and scrumptious breakfast or a fantastic lunch with some pita pockets or ciabatta bread or to keep it gluten free just by itself.

Normally I spend about 20-30 minutes getting lunch ready for school for the past 15 years, it used be for both DD and DD2 but now with DD in college it is just for DD2. But the good thing is in the process I get my breakfast ready as well. While a lot of people skip breakfast, it is one my important meals. The days I eat a good breakfast I am not looking for filler foods to get me through to lunch.

Saute the onions and bell peppers.
Saute the mushrooms and add in the pepper and salt. Cool completely.
Break the eggs into a whisking bowl and add more pepper if required.
Add in the cooked vegetables and cheese and mix together.
Spray the oil and add in the egg mixture, cook on side, flip and cook on the other side.

I used bell pepper, mushrooms and onions. You can add spinach zucchini or if you have access to drumstick leaves that would be a fantastic addition. If you have some spicy chicken sausage by all means add that as well ;)

Quiche in a Pan
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
  1. 5-6 eggs
  2. 6-8 mushrooms chopped fine (I used white button mushrooms)
  3. 1/2 bell pepper chopped fine
  4. 1/2 cup red onion (or shallots) chopped fine
  5. 1 tbsp shredded Parmigiano - Reggiano cheese (any shredded cheese of your liking)
  6. 2-3 tsp of oil
  7. 1/2 tsp red pepper or black pepper
  8. salt to taste
  1. In a small cast iron or wide mouthed pan add oil and when hot add the onions and saute till the onion becomes translucent.
  2. Add the bell pepper and saute till they start to get some color, followed by the mushrooms along with the salt and pepper.
  3. Cook for a couple of minutes more and turn off the heat and let it cool for a couple of minutes.
  4. Break the eggs into a whisking bowl and add in the cheese, more pepper if needed and the cooked vegetables. Whisk it so they are mixed in nicely. No need to over whisk.
  5. Now heat the small size cast iron pan if you want for individual pieces of quiche or a bigger pan one big size quiche.
  6. Spray the pan and when hot add in the egg mixture. Let it cook one side for about 2 minutes or so, I like it to be browned a little bit. If you prefer it lighter flip when the bottom is cooked.
  7. Flip and cook on the other side for a couple minutes more.

Paired with a glass of banana - peach smoothie a happy breakfast is ready where nobody complains.

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Sunday, January 7, 2018

Bottle Gourd Stir Fry - Sorakkai Poriyal

Wish everyone a Happy New Year! 2017 turned out to be busier than I thought bringing a lot of changes to our lives. Having to deal with the changes brought stress, some unexpected hardships - nothing that cannot be managed but kept me away from this blog. 2018 started off in India on our short visit there. The pleasant warm weather was perfect and coming back to this bitter cold made it that much

The tomatoes, eggplants, okra, bitter gourd, ridge gourd, chilies frozen during the height of summer are all being put to good use now. What is the point of talking about fresh vegetables in the middle of winter you ask? Just a thought of what awaits when spring comes around ;)

I am not a big fan of bottle gourd but there is something special about farm fresh vegetables and this one was no different. A simple stir fry with onions, fresh green chilies and some coconut to finish it off was just what was needed. These simple stir fries preserve the freshness of the vegetables without overcooking them. Cook them just enough so they don't get mushy and still retain the crunch of the vegetable.

Saute the onions and green chilies in seasoned oil and then add the bottle gourd pieces to cook. Once cooked add grated coconut, mix and turn off the heat.

Bottle Gourd Stir Fry - Sorakkai Poriyal
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
  1. 1 medium sized bottle gourd
  2. 1/2 red onion chopped
  3. 4-5 green chilies slit
  4. 2-3 tbsp grated fresh or frozen coconut
  5. seasonings - mustard seeds, cumin seeds, curry leaves
  6. salt to taste
  7. 1 tsp oil
  1. Peel and remove the white soft insides. Now chop them into small cubes.
  2. Heat oil in a wide mouthed pan, add the cumin seeds followed by the mustard seeds and curry leaves.
  3. Add in the onion and green chilies and saute till the onions become translucent.
  4. Now add the bottle gourd pieces and cook for 10-15 minutes till the pieces are cooked. Add salt.
  5. Add the coconut mix and mix and turn off the heat.

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