Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Basic Muesli (Simple Overnight No-Cook Oatmeal)

Whenever I make this muesli, everyone loves it and it disppears quickly without a trace! Recently this muesli got a very high compliment from a Swiss friend; she said this was the best meusli she ever had. Coming from a native daughter from the land of the original Bircher Muesli, that was high praise indeed!

Soaking grains, seeds, and nuts makes them easier to chew and digest; besides, the bonus of soaking is that they are ready to eat right away! Simply top it up with more milk/yogurt if needed and extra berries or nuts in the morning or whenever you like. With all the prep out of the way the evening before, you are good to go in the morning!

As I was familiar with oat meal from a very young age, the introduction of Bircher Muesli and the subsequent addition of it to our breakfast repertoire was a shoo-in! Over the years, I have tweaked the recipe. Another general blueprint recipe that can be adjusted to the ingredients on hand or your preference. Any fruit, berries, various nuts, etc may be added or substituted and quantities altered to suit individual tastes.

Although it is usually served cold or at room temperature, the great thing is that you can eat it hot also; especially as some of our family members who like to heat up everything! If serving the muesli, hot or warm, I often reserve the berries as toppings.

Muesli may be made ahead and reserved in the fridge for 3-4 days.

2 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup Rolled Oats
2 Tbsp sliced or chopped Almonds, raw or toasted (unsalted)
2 Tbsp Raisins
4 Dates, finely chopped
1- 2 Apples, finely diced or grated
1 medium Banana, diced
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1 Pinch of Salt
1 - 2 cups Non-Dairy Milk, Almond, Soy, or Rice
1/2 cup Non-Dairy Yogurt, Plain

Extra Milk for serving if needed
Fruit, Berries, and extra nuts/seeds for topping
1 tsp Brown Sugar (optional)

2 pint-sized Mason Jars (optional)

METHOD:

Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix well. Pour into individual containers like the mason jars if you wish, cover with lids, and put in the fridge for several hours, preferably overnight.

Serve with more milk if desired and top each serving with half the yogurt, more fruit, berries, nuts, etc if you wish.

Enjoy!!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Cracked Wheat Pudding/Porridge (Gothumai Payasam/Kanji)

Cracked Wheat Payasam is a quick and simple but delicious dessert pudding prepared Kerala style! Other types of milks such as almond, rice, or soy may be used instead of the coconut milk.

Made with a little more water, half the jaggery, and minus the spices, nuts, and raisins, it does double duty as a lovely kanji for breakfast or snack. We often had this for breakfast growing up. Regular or Irish style steel-cut oats may be used instead of the cracked wheat.

Bulgar or cracked wheat is a wonderful staple to have on hand for making Tabbouleh, Upma, and Pongal as well as a simple porridge like oatmeal. I use the finely cracked (#1 grade) for porridge, upma and tabouleh; the coarsely cracked bulgar (#3) is great for pongal and pilaf.

Dessert: 4 Servings
Porridge: 2 Servings

Ingredients:

1/4 cup finely Cracked Wheat (Bulgar) #1 grade
1 cup Coconut Milk
1/2 cup Jaggery or Brown Sugar
2 Cardamom Pods OR 1/2 tsp Dried ground Ginger (chukku)
1 tsp Coconut Oil
1 Tbsp Cashew pieces
1 Tbsp Raisins
1 Tbsp grated Coconut

Method:

Combine the cracked wheat with one cup of  water in a saucepan; bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and simmer until cooked and very soft.

Stir in the jaggery or brown sugar and cook until dissolved; simmer for about 5 minutes until the raw jaggery flavor is gone.

Stir in the coconut milk and simmer until hot; turn off heat.

If using cardamoms, crush slightly and gather the seeds; discard the shells. Grind the seeds to a fine powder using mortar and pestle.

Cook the cashews  until golden in the oil; add coconut along with the raisins and keep stirring until the coconut is toasted and pale gold.

Add the toasted nut mixture to the pudding/kanji along with the spices; cover and let sit for a few minutes.

Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Enjoy!!


Thursday, November 2, 2017

White Chili (White Bean Stew)

White Chili is a delicious change of pace from the regular Chili! White Chili is made with white beans of course and succulent veggies and flavorful herbs and spices. It goes together very quickly especially if you have cooked beans, home-cooked or canned. If using canned beans, use 2 cans (15.5 ounces) of Cannellini beans, rinsed and drained. Hominy adds a down-home country taste.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups Great Northern beans, cooked
2  tbsp Oil
1 large White onion, chopped
3-4 ribs celery, chopped
1 large Parsnip, diced
2 medium White Carrots, diced
2 Garlic cloves, minced and mashed
2 to 4 Serrano chiles,  finely minced
3-4 tsp fresh Rosemary leaves, finely chopped 
1 1/2 tsp ground Cumin
1 tsp dried Oregano 
1/4 - 1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper
Coarse salt & freshly ground Black Pepper
1 can (15 ounces) white hominy, rinsed and drained (optional)
2-3 fresh Tomatillos, finely diced
3 tbsp cornmeal + 1 cup water
1 White Carrots, grated
1 Yellow squash, diced

Toppings:
Tortilla Chips
Avocado, diced
Radishes, thinly sliced
Scallions (green onions), thinly sliced
Cashew cream

Directions

Sort, soak, and cook the great northern beans in water to cover until soft; set aside until needed. Check this post on how to cook beans. The beans maybe made a couple of days ahead. If made very far ahead, freeze them and defrost before adding to chili.

In a large Dutch oven or other large heavy pot, heat oil over medium-high. Stir in the onion, celery and carrots with a generous pinch of salt and cook until softened, about 7-8 minutes. 

Add garlic, chiles, rosemary, cumin, oregano, and cayenne and cook until fragrant, about 2 or 3 minutes stirring well and often so the veggies and herbs do not burn. 

Decant the cooking broth from the beans and add enough water to make a total of 3 cups; stir this into the veggies. 

Tip in the beans, hominy if using, the tomatillos and a teaspoon of salt; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low, partially cover, and simmer until chili is thickened slightly, about 5 minutes. Stir every minute or so to prevent burning.

Stir in cornmeal + water mixture and the grated carrots into the beans and simmer partially covered for about 10 more minutes stirring frequently. 

Turn off heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper if needed.

Serve hot with some or all of the suggested toppings. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Kollu/Muthira Puzhukku (Horse Gram/Bean Stew With Cumin & Coconut)

Kollu or Muthirai Puzhukku is a delicious thick stew that we often had with kanji (simple rice porridge) on restricted fasting days and looked forward to having it! I love Muthirai Puzhukku with oats Kanji (porridge) as well for a healthy and sustaining breakfast or for that matter any time at all!

Note: Save excess cooking broth from the kollu for making awesome Kollu Rasam - a delicious treat that we adore and is often recommended to help one get over colds and coughs!

Kollu is not usually Sprouted for making this puzhukku; but you may if you wish.

4 Servings

INGREDIENTS:

Puzhukku:
1 cup dry Horse Gram
2 dry Red Chiles, broken into two
1 stem fresh Curry Leaves, finely sliced
1 Tbsp Coconut Oil
Salt to taste
1 Green unripe Banana/Plantain (Optional)

Masala:
1 tsp Cumin Seeds
1/4 - 1/2 cup Coconut, fresh or frozen (Or 2-3 Tbsp Dried)
1-2 dried Red Chiles

METHOD:

Soak & cook the Horse gram:

Pick over, wash, and soak the gram in plenty of water to cover for a few hours or overnight.

Drain the kollu, wash well, and cook in enough fresh water (2-3 cups) to cover until soft - about 40 to 50 minutes, checking often to make sure it doesn't dry out or burn. Alternately use your pressure cooker to speed up cooking. This can be done a day ahead. If made ahead, cool and refrigerate. Cooked kollu may be frozen also for longer storage.

If using banana/plantain, lightly peel the outer green layer; cut into quarters lengthwise, then slice into 1/2" chunks. Place the banana/plantain into a 2-3 quart/liter pot and add about a cup of water along with turmeric and the broken red chiles. Bring to a boil, lower heat and cook on low heat until tender.

While bananas are cooking, grind the coconut, cumin seeds and red chiles into a coarse paste; set aside.

Add the cooked kollu to the bananas along with the ground coconut mixture; add a few spoonfuls of water to the blender to gather up all of the coconut mixture and add this to the puzhukku.  Bring to a boil. Simmer for about 10 minutes on low heat.

Turn off the heat. Crush the curry leaves in your fist and place it on top of the puzhukku; drizzle the coconut oil on top of the curry leaves and cover. Let rest for 10 minutes; stir well before serving.

Serve hot with kanji/rice/roti, curries, pickles and papdams.

Enjoy!!



Monday, October 16, 2017

Summery Corn Chowder (Light Lemongrass-Scented Corn Soup With Red Bell Pepper)

Lovely, luscious, yet a light soup, Summery Corn Chowder has a lemon grass scented broth enriched with a touch of coconut milk! This is perfect for late summer or early autumn when there is an abundance of tender sweet corn and succulent red bell peppers. Sunny yellow corn, bright red bell pepper, and green herbs makes the chowder beautiful to behold.

Notes:
It is very easy to make Vegetable Stock or broth. When prepping veggies and herbs, reserve all the clean scraps, keep them in a bag or container until you have enough. They can also be kept frozen adding more as you prep until you have a good amount. Any extra broth also may be frozen for longer storage.

If you fresh corn is not an option, use 14 - 16 oz frozen corn kernels. The lemongrass broth can be prepared without the corncobs; rest of the recipe is still the same.

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:

3 ears fresh corn
1 quart Vegetable Stock or Water
1/4 tsp Turmeric
1 stalk fresh Lemongrass, crushed & coarsely chopped
1 bunch Stems from fresh Parsley and/or Coriander/Cilantro 
1 medium Potato, any type, scrubbed well
1 large Red Bell Pepper, seeded & diced small
1 small Onion, finely chopped    
Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup Coconut Milk
2 Scallions (Green Onions), both white and green parts thinly sliced
2 Tbsp Italian parsley OR Fresh Coriander/Cilantro, chopped
2 Tbsp Cashew OR Coconut cream for garnish
Extra Parsley or Cilantro for garnishing

METHOD:

Cut off the lower portion of the stems from the coriander/cilantro; if using parsley, pull off tender stems and leaves. Reserve the leafy parts of both parsley and coriander for other uses. Wash the stems, and pinch into small pieces and put in a stock pot.

Cut kernels from cobs, then scrape the cobs with the edge of a knife to extract all the milky fluid from the base of the kernels. Reserve the corn kernels and the cobs separately.

Combine lemongrass, coriander/cilantro stems, the corn cobs, whole potato, turmeric, and stock/broth/water in the stock pot, bring to a good boil, reduce the heat and simmer 20 minutes. Cool and strain the stock and reserve the stock and potato, discarding the lemongrass and corn cobs.

Peel the potato if you wish (peeling is quick and easy while potato is still hot or warm), and cut into small dice; reserve.

Saute the onion in a little of the broth (or use a tiny bit of oil) until translucent in a soup pan for about 2 or 3 minutes.

Tip the the rest of the broth into the pan. Add salt and peppper to taste, the corn (and liquid from the cobs), and red pepper to stock, simmer until vegetables are tender - about 15 minutes.

Stir in coconut milk and the diced potato along with the scallions and simmer for another five minutes. Remove from heat.

Add parsley/cilantro, and salt or pepper to adjust seasoning.

Serve garnished with the cashew or coconut cream and a sprig of  parsley or cilantro. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Homemade Tandoori Masala (Indian Barbque Spice Mix)

I like to make homemade masalas so as to have them as fresh as possible as well as the proportions of spices best suited for our personal taste; also, some of the masalas have undesirable ingredients like food colors, flavor enhancers, and preservatives. The amount of ingredients may be adjusted to your preference.  Use this masala in any of the recipes that call for Tandoori Masala.

Note: Smoked paprika gives a nice smoky aroma to your dishes; if it is not available, no worries, the masala still is fabulous. Add a tablespoon or two of Kasoori Methi (dried fenugreek leaves) for incomparable taste; crush into a fine powder in the palm of your hands before addiding to marinade or at the end of cooking to finish the dish!

Ingredients:

½ cup dried Kashmiri chillies, break into 2-3 pieces
¼ cup whole Coriander seeds
1 tbsp whole Cumin seeds
½ tbsp whole Black Pepper
½ tbsp whole Cloves
½ tbsp whole green Cardamom pods
1 black Cardamom
1 tsp whole Fenugreek seeds Or 1 Tbsp Kasoori Methi
3 pieces, 2 inch sticks of Cinnamon or Cassia bark, coarsely broken up
2 tsp dried ground Ginger
1 tsp Garlic Powder
½ tsp grated Nutmeg
½ tsp Mace
½ tsp ground turmeric
1 Tbsp Smoked Paprika
3 - 4 Tbsp Paprika 

Method:

Toast all the whole spices one by one, in a medium hot, heavy skillet or pan, for about 30-60 seconds or so until fragrant. Pour into a wide plate or baking dish and let cool completely.

Transfer to a powerful blender or spice grinder, process into a fine powder. You can use a sieve to remove any large pieces that are not ground well and process again. Add the remaining ground spices; add enough of the paprika to get the color just the you would like.

Processs to combine well. Transfer to a clean, airtight spice jar, seal and store in a cool dark place.

This recipe makes around 1 cup of tandoori masala.

Checca - Indian-style OR Italian-style (Chopped Tomato Salad)

Checca

Fresh Tomato Salad is irresistible whether they are prepared the Indian or Italian way; the basics are the same - only the choice of oil and some herbs are slightly different. Which way to go? - a tough choice since both are delicious!

Indian Tomato Salaad is a delicious chopped salad redolent with lemony cilantro and perky hot green chiles. It is often served with pulavs and biriyanis (fragrant rice dishes) or with everyday meals of rice/roti, parathas, and curries. Coconut oil is optional; but great when there are lots of green chiles, especially hot ones!

Italian Checca ("Kekka"), a wonderful chopped salad/sauce full of fragrant basil is delicious served in so many ways: over pasta, crostini (toasts), or as a side salad .... in short, any way you like!

Whichever type you make, refreshing and delicious Checca should be prepared with flavorful fresh ripe tomatoes; sweet flavorful cherry tomatoes are particularly suited for making checca.Optional ingredients listed under the Indian or Italian style salads may be added as desired. The salad may be spicy or mild.
Indian Style Checca With Dal Paratha
I love using homegrown tomatoes, particularly the pear-shaped yellow ones; other types of cherry as well as regular tomatoes are good too.  

Note: Whether you choose Inidian or Italian style, do not refrigerate if possible and serve at room temperature for best flavor. Checca may be chopped finely to use as a sauce for pasta.

Ingredients:

Basic Checca:
1 Pint ripe tomatoes (about 12 oz), diced
1 or 2 large Shallots, finely chopped
1 large clove Garlic, minced (optional)
2 Tbsp Flatleaf Parsley, finely chopped
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
Freshly ground Black Pepper, to taste

Indian-style:
2-3 mild/hot Green Chiles, minced
1 Stem Curry Leaves, minced
1 small Lime/Lemon, juice
1/3 - 1/2 cup fresh Cilantro, chopped + extra for garnish
2-3 tsp melted cool Coconut Oil (optional)
1-2 small slices, Lemon from  Lemon Pickles, very finely chopped (optional)
1 Handful, Brown or Tan Chana (optional)

Italian-style:
1/3 - 1/2 cup fresh Basil, chopped + extra for garnish
2-3 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 tsp hot Red Pepper flakes (optional)
1 Handful Olives, sliced (optional)
1-3 Pepperoncini, chopped (optional)
2 oz Vegan Mozzarella (optional)

Method:

Combine the tomatoes, shallots, and herbs in a bowl.

Decide whether to make Indian or Italian style; have your choice of ingredients ready. Add the other ingredients based on Indian or Italian, including any optional ones to the tomato bowl. One or more of the optional ingredients may be added.

Sprinkle with the salt and pepper, oil.

Mix well and let rest at room temperature for a few minutes to develop flavors.

Stir well and serve.  Enjoy!!

Indian Style Checca With Dal Paratha