Thursday, August 20, 2015

Nuchinunde- Steamed Lentil Dumplings

For those of you how don't know what nuchinunde is, it is nothing but steamed lentil dumplings. These dumplings are loaded with protein and rich in fiber. This dish is perfect if you are watching your waistline. When I say that this dish is healthy and steamed, it doesn't mean that nuchinunde lacks in flavor. The liberal use of green chilies and herbs and coconut is sure to leave your taste buds tingling. 

Since it is customary to make steam baked dishes on the occasion of Naga Panchami, you are sure to find nuchinunde on the festival menu. These dumplings can be made either using only pigeon peas or with two to three kinds of lentil combinations. It can also be flavored with herbs like dill, coriander, mint, and vegetables like carrot, french beans and Cabbage. This is one versatile dish that can be experimented with various flavors. 

Ironically, this wholesome snack is not something that you will find in restaurants. I feel that it's appearance at home cooked meals is also becoming rare. To me, nuchinunde is one of those dishes that almost always transports me back to my mother's and my grandmother's kitchen. The scene of piping hot nuchinunde served in a small plate with a big dollop of ghee is still vivid in my mind. 

Nuchinunde can be served with coconut chutney or with ghee. But I like it best when it is served with hasi majjige. Hasi majjige is nothing but a yogurt based gravy, in which all the ingredients are raw. This gravy is delicious and it takes about five minutes to whip it up. Try having nuchinunde with this spicy tangy sauce. I am sure you will not be able to stop at one.

Nuchinunde recipe:
Preparation time: 20min+soaking time
Cooking time- 15-20min
Makes- 12-14 pieces

Toor dal or Pigeon peas- 1 cup or 120ml
Moog dal or yellow lentils- 1/2 cup
Ginger- 1" piece, grated
Turmeric- a pinch
Green chilies- 3-4, finely chopped
Freshly grated coconut- 1 cup
Curry leaves- 1 sprig, finely chopped
Coriander leaves- 3tbsp, finely chopped
Salt to taste
Oil or Ghee to grease the pan

  • Wash the toor dal and the moong dal and soak in enough water for atleast 5hrs or overnight.
  • Drain the soaked lentils and transfer to a blender jar. Add the grated ginger, green chilies and turmeric to the drained lentils and pulse in a blender for five to six times. The lentils should not be ground to a fine paste. It is ok if some portion of the lentil is left whole.
  • Transfer the ground lentils to a large bowl and add the grated coconut, curry leaves, coriander leaves and salt and mix well.
  • Divide the lentil mixture into 12-14 portions and shape them into oval shaped dumplings. 
  • Grease a pan or steaming plate with oil or ghee and place the dumplings in it. Steam the dumplings in a pressure cooker or steamer for 10-12mins. 
  • Serve hot with coconut chutney or Hasi Majjige.

Hasi Majjige Recipe:
Preparation time: 10min
Cooking time: nil
Makes- 2cups

Coconut- 4tbsp
Mustard seeds- 1/2tsp
Roasted gram or Dalia- 1tbsp
Green chlies- 2
Ginger- 1/2"piece, chopped
Salt to taste
Coriander leaves- 1tbsp
Yogurt- 1 cup, whisked

For the seasoning:
Oil- 2tspn
Mustard seeds- 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves- 5-6
Asafetida- a pinch.

  • Combine the coconut, mustard seeds, ginger, green chilies, roasted gram, coriander leaves and salt in a blender jar and blend till the mixture is coarsely ground. Add quarter cup of yogurt to the mixture and blend till smooth.
  • Transfer the ground mixture to a bowl. Mix the remaining yogurt and mix well and set aside
  • For the seasoning, heat oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds. Once they crackle, add the curry leaves and asafetida and fry till the curry leaves turn crisp. Take off the heat and add the seasoning to the hash majjige and serve immediately.

  • You can substitute the moong dal with equal quantity of toor dal or chana dal.
  • The coriander leaves can be substituted with baby dill and an onion.
  • If you want to serve nuchinunde as a side dish, then simply dunk the steamed nuchinunde in majjige huli gravy. The majjige huli should be made without any vegetables though.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Restaurant style Methi Matar malai

Methi Matar Malai...For some reason I find the name quite stylish and interesting. Maybe because of the alliterative nature of the name, this dish, simply seems to stand out. To me, this recipe is an all time favorite. I just love the way the bitter fenugreek leaves compliments the sweet green peas.  If you are looking for a dish that is rich, creamy and an indulgent dish that makes you feel pampered then this dish is the one.

There are many recipes for the Methi Matar Malai on the web. But I just love the methi matar malai that is served in a restaurant near our house. In this restaurant's version, the fenugreek leaves and the peas are cooked in rich cashew nut and poppy seed gravy and then topped with cream. As if this wasn't enough there is also bits of paneer floating in the gravy. This version, is as rich as it can get!!

I normally make Methi Matar Malai during weekends or when I am entertaining. It's almost always a hit. Just the thought of flaky Parathas with Methi matar malai can lead to culinary nirvana. Apart from Naan or Parathas, this creamy dish tastes great with Ghee rice or Jeera rice as well. The combo of the fragrant rice with this creamy curry is just heavenly. 

This version of Methi Matar Malai may seem tedious and time consuming. But I assure you, once you try this version, you will not have it any other way. It is that good!!!

Methi matar malai Recipe:
Preparation time: 30min
Cooking time- 20mins
Serves- 4-6

For the ginger-garlic-green chili paste
Ginger- 1"piece
Garlic- 2cloves
Green chili- 2
For the cashew poppy seed paste
Chopped cashew nuts- 3tbsp, soaked for 15-30min
Poppy seeds- 1-1/2tsp, lightly toasted.
Other ingredients:
Oil- 2tbsp
Fresh fenugreek leaves-1 cup or 120ml, tightly packed
Fresh or frozen green peas- 1-1/2 cup
One large onion- Blanched and Pureed
Salt- to taste
Sugar- 1/2tsp
Cumin seed powder- 1/2tsp
Coriander seed powder- 1/2tsp
Kasuri methi- 1tsp
Milk- 240ml
Garam masala- 1/4tsp
Grated or crumbled paneer- 1 cup
Fresh cream- 2-3tbsp


  • Make a paste of ginger, garlic and green chili and keep aside.
  • Blend the soaked cashew nuts along with the roasted poppy seed to a fine paste in a blender and set aside.
  • Heat oil in a thick bottomed pan and add the ginger-garlic- green chili paste and fry till the raw smell goes.
  • Add the chopped fenugreek leaves and the green peas and fry for 5mins. Stir in the onion puree and fry for two mins more.
  • Add the salt, sugar, cumin-coriander seed powder, kasuri methi and mix well. Add the 1/4 cup of water to the mixture and cook covered for 4-5mins.
  • After the peas are completely cooked add the cashew-poppy seed paste and mix well. Add milk and allow the mixture to simmer on low heat for 5mins.
  • Add the garam masala and the crumbled paneer and allow it to simmer for a two more mins
  • Stir in the cream and mix gently and take off the heat. Serve hot with parathas or rotis.

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