Monday, November 26, 2012

Mung dal and badam laddu (Split yellow lentils and almond balls)

This is my version of mung dal halwa, a popular Indian dessert.Yellow split mung dal (lentils) are known for their nutritional value. They are easy to digest and cook much faster than other lentils, often used to make khichdi or soups when someone is sick and needs to eat light, but a healthy meal. But this description does not hold true when you make these sweet laddus with it! The traditional halwa recipe is laden with sugar and fat but is delicious. This is the first time I tried to make it but reduced the amount of fat by cooking in a non stick pan. I think it was still delicious. I really liked the end result and would be making it more often now. This can be a good alternative to other sweets for kids. It is also rich in protein. I added ground almond powder to it and made it with jaggery instead of sugar.


1 cup yellow mung dal
1/2 cup powdered almonds 
(I used store bought almond meal)
1/4 cup ghee
One and a half cup jaggery 
1/4 cup very thinly sliced pistachios and almonds
1 teaspoon cardamom powder
a few strands of saffron
3 cups water


Wash and soak the mung dal for about 3-4 hours. Drain all the water and grind the dal, adding just a little water if needed. Take a heavy non stick pan and add the ghee and ground dal in it. Keep the heat to low or medium and let the dal and ghee roast. This is the hard part as it requires time and patience. Keep stirring the mixture till the dal gets deep golden in color and roasted. It should not smell raw. This might take about 15-20 minutes. If you need add more ghee to the dal.Meanwhile boil 3 cups water with jaggery and saffron strands. Keep it covered. Once the dal is well roasted slowly add the water. It will start bubbling and spluttering so be careful. Stir everything and then add the ground almond meal. Taste for sweetness and add more jaggery if required. Stir and cook till the water evaporates and the texture is grainy. Add the cardamom powder and mixed nuts. 
Once it cools a little shape into balls or serve it in bowls just as it is. This dessert usually tastes good slightly warm.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Mushroom pilaf with toasted nuts and cranberries

 I love rice based dishes and therefore the mushrooms that I had bought to make a soup ended up in this pilaf. Mushrooms and rice go together very well but I did not want to cook the mushrooms along with the rice as it makes the mushrooms soggy and the rice mushy. So I cooked the rice seperately and then mixed it with the rest of the ingredients.
Caramelized onions, toasted pistachios, cashews, dried cranberries and mushrooms make this rice extremely flavorful and delicious. I decided to serve the rice by filling them in poblano peppers and then grilled it in the oven for about 15 minutes.



1 cup long grained rice like basmati
1 red onion thinly sliced
about 4 cups sliced baby portabella mushrooms
1/4 cup mixed nuts (raw cashews and pistachios)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 bay leaf
2-3 black cardamom
1 teaspoon black garam masala (I like to use shan's zafrani masala)
salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil to cook
1 teaspoon ghee or butter for flavor (optional)
Cilantro for garnishing
1/4 cup feta cheese
2 poblano peppers


Wash and soak the rice for about half and hour. Then boil it with about two and a half cups of salted water until done. Each type of rice cooks differently so cook in a way so that the rice gets cooked but the grains do not stick to one another.
Heat some olive oil and cook the onion on low or medium heat till they are caramelized. Keep aside. Now in the same pan add the sliced mushrooms bay leaf and cardamom. Let them cook for about 10 minutes till the mushrooms get slightly brown. Add the nuts and more oil if needed or a teaspoon of ghee/butter. That gives it a very nice fragrance and flavor. Once the mushrooms have browned add the salt, pepper,  garam masala and dried cranberries.
Now fluff the rice and mix it with the cooked mushrooms and nuts. Add the caramelized onion and chopped cilantro. It can be served just like this or would be great with a cup of tomato soup. I filled the rice in poblano peppers and baked it in the oven at 450 degrees for about 10 minutes, then topped it with feta and baked again for 5 minutes.


I later thought that a drizzle of balsamic vinegar would be wonderful over the rice and peppers. I did not have that at home but next time I would definitely try it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Diwali recipes: Poori sabzi and kalakand (milk fudge) made with condensed milk


Happy Diwali to all!
Diwali is a fun time except, the noise and pollution in India seems to be getting worse every year. The fun part for me is the food, lighting diyas (lamps) and making rangoli. I usually make snacks at home. This time I made two types of mithai (sweets) and a simple diwali meal, consisting of masoor dal, urad and peas poori and to go along with that potato and peas vegetable.  Today I am sharing the recipes of kalakand and poori sabzi. Kalakand is a milk cake or fudge and this is an easy way to make it using ricotta cheese and condensed milk. It takes about 15 minutes to make it in the microwave which also makes for a quick cleanup. The poori and sabzi are my nani's (grandmother) recipe. She would make these on special occassions and I learned to make it form her. I  love the slightly crunchy poori with urad dal and the simple and spicy potato sabzi.

Coconut laddu and kalakand barfi

 Kalakand recipe
1 can condensed milk
1cup ricotta cheese (I think it can be substituted with fresh homemade paneer, but I have not yet tried it)
3/4 cup dry milk powder
1 cup mixed dry fruits (cashews, roasted almonds, pistachios) roughly chopped
1 teaspoon cardamon powder

Take a deep microwave proof dish and pour the condensed milk, ricotta cheese, and dry milk powder. Mix everything well.  Heat for 3- 4 minutes. Stir and heat again. Keep repeating this till the mixture starts getting thick and grainy. Let it sit for a few minute in between. It will start solidifying soon . Once the mixture gets thick add the dry fruits and cardamom. Heat again till you get the desired consistency. Once it cools cut it into sqaures.



Urad dal and peas poori

3 cups whole wheat flour (aata)
1 cup frozen peas (thawed and coarsely ground)
1 cup urad dal soaked in water for at least 2-3 hours (coarsely ground)
1 heaped tablespoon fennel seeds
1 heaped tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon dry ginger powder (saunth)
1 teaspoon asafoetida (hing)
1 teaspoon black pepper
salt to taste.
oil and water to bind the dough.


 Grind the fennel and coriander seeds coarsely. Mix all the above ingredients, including the fennel and coriander seeds powder. Add water and make a stiff dough. Add some oil and knead it well again. Cover with a wet paper towel or cloth. Let it sit for about half and hour. Now heat oil in a kadhai.  Roll the dough to make pooris and deep fry the. Serve with potato sabzi.

Potato sabzi recipe
3-4  boiled and crushed potatoes
1 cup frozen peas
2 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon methi seeds
1 tablespoon dry mango powder (amchoor)
1-2 teaspoons dry ginger powder (saunth
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon asafoetida (hing)
1 teaspoon turmeric
2-3 crushed green chilies
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon black salt
salt to tast
2 cups water (or as needed)
chopped cilantro
1 -2 tablespoons oil


Heat oil, add cumin seeds and asafoetida. After a few seconds add the ground coriander, fenugreek and fennel seeds. Quickly add the green chilies and turmeric. Add the crushed potatoes and peas. Now add the dry ginger powder, mango powder, black pepper and salt. Mix everything well. Pour about 2 cups of water. Cover and let it simmer for a few minutes. Finally add the chopped cilantro and serve with the dal pooris.