Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Fried moong salad

Hello there Peeps!! I have been away from my virtual kitchen for a bit and I have missed it sorely. These past few days have been busy. I have to say that I have spent it well doing stuff around the house. I also managed to catch up on some old friends and I also managed to do nothing for a couple of days. It was only yesterday, that I sat down to complete the post that has been lying incomplete in my drafts folder.

This salad is one of the easiest and quickest dishes that you will put together. It is one of those two minute recipes that is also healthy and finger licking good. It uses some minimal ingredients and does not include any cooking time. It can be eaten as a light evening snack or as a starter with some drinks.

This recipe will fall under those "No Fire" recipes. The crunch from the deep fried moong, spice from the chilies, tang from the lemon and the freshness from the coriander. This salad is full of simple yet bold flavors and textures. A perfect "less is more" salad that is sure to leave you craving for more!!

Fried moong Starter salad recipe:
Preparation time: 5min
Cooking time- Nil
Serves- 4

Deep fried moong- 200gms (I used Haldirams)
Onion- 1small, finely chopped
Green chili- 2, finely chopped
Salt- a pinch
Lime juice- 1/2 tsp
Coriander leaves- 1-1/2 tbsp

  • Assemble the fried moong, chopped onion, green chili and salt in a large bowl and mix well.
  • Add the lime juice and coriander leaves, toss and serve immediately.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Badami Rocks!!! - A travelogue

"If you want to understand today, you have to search yesterday"
-Pearl. S. Buck

I am not sure about the exact time since I started getting these pangs to visit the fabled cave temples of Badami. It could be during my childhood years, when I stood staring at the framed painting of the famous eighteen-armed Nataraja that my Grand Uncle had recreated on canvas. Or it could have been during those times when I was studying the rise and fall of the Chalukyan Empire in school. Or did that desire arise when I brought this book called Badami, Aihole and Pattadakal- By George Michell? Even though I am not sure about the exact moment, I am sure that my imagination was kindled and created an incipient urge to see the fabled cave temples of Badami. However, my trip to the temple town could only materialize in 2016.

My sister and I began to plan for this trip during May, 2016. We decided to visit Badami, Aihole and Pattadakal during the month of July. My baby sister made the hotel reservations and the other necessary arrangements. It was an all Girl’s trip and we spent five glorious days exploring Badami, Aihole, Pattadakal, Bijapur and a few other places around this region. Since I have a lot of memories and photographs to share with you, I decided to break this post into a five-part travelogue. I hope you enjoy these posts, As much as I enjoyed writing them.

Since we planned the trip during the monsoons, we were a little apprehensive about visiting badami. “What if there is a storm and we get stranded in the middle of nowhere??” we thought. However, we couldn’t have visited the place during a better time. The sand stone mountains seemed to come alive during the monsoons. I somehow felt that the rainwater extracted all the hidden beauty of the temple town. The small town magically turns greener and offers breathtakingly beautiful views that can be savored by nature lovers.

Badami, which is now a small town, was once a thriving capital of the Chalukya dynasty. Who are the Chalukyas? I hear you ask. According to the legends, The Chalukyas belonged to northern Kshatriya Race, who migrated from Rajasthan during the 5th century. The founder of the Chalukya dynasty is said to be one Jaya Simha. He was followed by his son Rana Raja who was in turn Succeeded by his sun Pulakesin the first. Pulakesin the first ascended the throne and established Vatapi or Badami as his Capital.

The credit for the incredible architecture goes to Pulakesin’s sons, Kirtivarman and Mangalesha. It feels like every nook and corner of Badami tells the tale of the Borthers incredible contribution to art and architecture. These Cave temples are both mind blowing and captivating at the same time. I couldn’t help but wonder how one could transform something as dismal as sand stone into architectural marvels, way back in 6th century. The stones are carved to surgical precision and it seems like each wall in the cave has a story to tell.

The cave temples of Badami are segregated into four sections. The first three caves are dedicated to Hindu deities and the Fourth and topmost cave is dedicated to the Jain Tirthankaras. This shows that the Chalukyans were tolerant to Shaivism, Vaishnavism, Buddhism and Jainism.

The first cave is dedicated to Lord Shiva. You will find a Dwarapalaka or a Guard on the left side and on the opposite wall you will find the five feet tall, Eighteen armed Shiva, dancing the Tandava, welcoming you. This Nataraja is carved in such a way that each combination of a pair of hands represents a Mudra in Bharatanatyam. It is said that a total of eighty-one Mudras are depicted in this amazing Sculptre.

Inside the first cave, you will find Harihara with four hands and Snakes on hair and waist and on the other side there is Ardhanarishwara, attended by the bull and the skeleton Bhiringi. The ceiling of the cave is decorated with a very realistic Adi sesha or the serpant king.

The Second cave is dedicated lord Vishnu. Vishnu is depicted as the Trivikrama or Vaamana with one leg on the earth and the other pointing towards the sky. He is also depicted as the Varaha Avatar rescuing mother earth from the clutches of demon, hiranyaksha. Another Dwarpalaka or guard can  be found at the entrance holding a flower.

The third cave is perhaps the grandest and the biggest of them all. This cave has six pillars and each one is exquisitely carved with festoon like chains. There is a glorious eleven feet high Statue of Narasimha on the west wall and a statue of Harihara on the southern wall. There are also depictions of Trivikrama (vamana) and Varaha avatars in this cave. But the most beautiful sculpture in this cave temple has to be of the one where Vishnu is seated on the coiled Adi Sesha. It is a rare pose and one doesn’t get to see this often. These sculptures left me humbled, dwarfed and in a state of awe!!

The fourth cave is a jain temple and is dedicated to Jain tirthankaras. Unfortunately I could not photograph in this cave because of the fading light and the lingering monkey menace. All I could manage was a couple photographs on my cell phone.

 One word of Caution!!! These caves are full of monkeys. They have the reputation of snatching handbags, food, water, etc. One monkey almost snatched my mother’s handbag. It would have disappeared with it too had my mother not put up a brave fight.

As we left the pinkish-brown sandstone mountains of Badami, turning golden in the setting rays of the sun, I felt humbled and content. It truly melted my heart and made me wish that I return to this amazing place again. I hope that my travelogue entices you to pay a visit to this magnificent place called Badami.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Lima beans in Tomato Gravy- A no onion, no garlic recipe

Butter beans or Lima beans is one legume that I never grew up eating. It was never cooked in my mother's or my Grandmother's place and neither was it made in my In-law's place. So I never knew what to make out of these white colored legumes. It was only a few days back that I got to taste Lima beans in the form of this curry. I was instantly smitten by this dish and I had to ask for the recipe.

Rich and spicy tomato gravy, Soft and chewy beans, slightly bitter undertones of Dried fenugreek leaves and lots of coriander leaves on top. This pretty much describes this unassuming curry. Similar to the rajma masala, this curry can be made for those quick weeknight meals. This Gujarati Style, Lima beans curry is quick to prepare and quite comforting. All of you who love beans or legumes for sides, would know how addictive it can get.

Lima beans in tomato gravy is wholesome yet it does not require too much of effort. The use of some varied spices, Jaggery and yogurt, imparts a sweet and sour tang to this dish. The only down side of this recipe is that, the beans require long hours of soaking. So it has to be planned well in advance.

Since this is recipe does not include any onion or Garlic, this can be made during Auspicious occasions and Vrats. Try giving this healthy and nutritious recipe a try. I assure you it will leave you incredibly satisfied to the tee.

Butter beans in Tomato Gravy recipe:
Preparation time: 20min
Cooking time- 30min
Serves- 4

Butter beans- 170 gms, Soaked for 6-8hrs or overnight
Oil- 2tbsp
Cumin seeds- 1/2tspn
Asafetida- A large pinch
Ginger paste- A tsp
Tomatoes- 3med, blanched and pureed
Salt- to taste
Jaggery- 1/2 tsp
Kashmiri Red chili powder- 1 tsp
Cumin seed powder- 1/2 tsp
Coriander seed powder- 1/2tsp
Kasuri methi- 1tsp
Garam masala- 1/4tspn
Besan or gram flour- 2tspn
Thick Yogurt- 3tbspn
Coriander leaves to Garnish

  • Drain the soaked butter beans. Pressure cook the beans along with two cups of water and half a tsp of salt for five to six whistles and turn off the heat. Allow the steam to dissipate itself before  opening the cooker. Set aside.
  • Heat oil in a thick bottomed pan. Add the cumin seeds and allow them to crackle. Add the Asafetida and the ginger paste and fry for a few seconds.
  • Add the blanched tomatoes, salt, Jaggery, red chili powder and fry for 3-4 mins.
  • Stir in the coriander seed powder, cumin seed powder, Kasuri methi and the garam masala and fry for a few more mins or till the oil separates. 
  • Add the cooked butter beans along with the water and mix well. Allow the mixture to simmer for a few seconds.
  • Mix the gram flour along with the yogurt to make a thick paste. Add this mixture to the simmering gravy and mix well.
  • Allow the mixture to cook on a low flame for 3-4mins more before taking off the heat. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with rice or rotis.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Khara bhat or Rava bhat

Let me start this post by wishing all my friends and Readers a very Happy New year!!! I hope you all had a fun filled holiday season!!

Allow me to begin 2017 with a light, comforting and hearty breakfast recipe. I have to confess that we over indulged on food during the last few weeks. Right now, I am not just left with extra pounds but also a bad throat. So a light meal is exactly what I need right now.

As far as my holidays are concerned, I spent them well with my little family. S, Purvi and I spent a lot of time shopping, and doing those short touristy things. We did eat out a lot. So I took a break from cooking. We spent a quite New Years Eve at home watching movies. And before I knew it 2016 was behind us.

Coming to the recipe, for those of you who are wondering what Khara bhat is. It is nothing but Umma which is loaded with vegetables and spices. Like upma, Khara bhat is light, moist and is studded with crunchy bites of nuts and lentils. 

The char bhat is a healthy whole grain dish with porridge like consistency with flavorings of Vangi that or bhat of visible bhat. In short, the Khara that or the Rava bhat is wholesome dish that can be had for breakfast or as light meal on a hot sommer's day!!

Khara bhat recipe:
Preparation time: 15min
Cooking time: 10mins
Serves- 4

Thick Semolina or upma rawa- 1cup or 150gms
Tamarind- a small lime sized, Soaked in 2tbsps of water
Oil or ghee- 3tbsps
Mustard seeds- 1tsp
Channa dal- 1/2 tsp
Urad dal- 1/2tspn
Curry leaves- 2 sprigs
Asafetida- a large pinch
Diced Vegetables- 1 cup (I used 1small carrot, 3-4 french beans, 2tbspns of peas and a tbsp of chopped green bell pepper)
Tomato- 1small, finely chopped (optional)
Turmeric- 1/4tspn
Salt- to taste
Jaggery- 1tspn
Freshly grated coconut- 2tbspn
Vangi that powder or visible that powder- 1-1/2 tbsp
Coriander leaves to garnish
Lemon wedges to serve

  • Dry roast the semolina in a thick bottomed pan till brown and fragrant and set aside.
  • Extract the juice from the soaked tamarind and set aside.
  • Heat oil in a thick bottomed pan and add the mustard seeds. Once they sputter, add the channa dal and Urad dal and fry till they turn brown.
  • Stir in the Curry leaves and fry for a few seconds. Add the asafetida and the diced vegetables and fry for a minute.
  • Add the chopped tomato, turmeric, salt and jaggery and continue frying for a two minutes.
  • Add the tamarind pulp and quarter cup of water and cook covered for 4-5minutes or till the vegetables soften.
  • Add two and a half cups of water to the vegetable mixture and allow the mixture to boil. Reduce the heat and add the roasted semolina while stirring continuously.
  • Add the coconut and the Bisibele bhat/ Vangi bhat powder and cook covered on low heat till the water is absorbed completely and the semolina is completely cooked.
  • Take off the heat, Garnish with coriander leaves and serve immediately with lemon wedges on the side.

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