Thursday, May 18, 2017

Menthya Hittu

I am really not sure why this spice mix is called Menthya hittu. That's because only one to two tea spoons of Menthya aka fenugreek seeds go into this powder. Given it's inherent bitter taste, Fenugreek seeds may not be a favorite with everybody. However, the addition of small quantities of fenugreek to condiments and curries only enhances the flavor and aroma of the dish without making it bitter. So if you are not a huge fan of Fenugreek seeds, I assure you this condiment is sure to convert you.

The menthya hittu or the methkoot is basically a healthy amalgamation of Lentils, grains, seeds and spices. This is one condiment that is loaded with proteins and nutrients. Just add a teaspoon of this powder over hot rice, top it with ghee and a dash of lime juice and you will have an instant, delicious rice dish in front of you.

As I am writing this post, I am involuntarily transported back to my childhood days. Since I was a fussy eater, I would refuse most of the vegetables. But I would never refuse the menthya hittu. The gojju made out of menthya hittu was, and still is my favorite way of eating this condiment. Just give me some rice or rotis with the menthya hittu gojju on the side and I am good to go. 

This condiment, is very fine in texture when compared to other chutney pudi's. This is why this condiment is referred as hittu (flour) and not as Pudi (powder)

The menthya hittu is a handy thing to have around. Since it is so versatile, it can be used to make at least four different dishes. Each, tasting different than the other. 

This condiment is very easy to prepare. All it needs is a little care when roasting. The ingredients should be slow roasted on low heat to avoid burning. The list of ingredients might seem a little too long and intimidating. However, these ingredients are pantry staples in every Indian kitchen. 

Making this spice mix at home has been a happy trip down the lanes of both, memory as well satisfaction. After making this, I realized that nothing can be compared to the punch of a freshly ground home made spice mix.  

Menthya Hittu recipe:
Preparation time: 10min
Cooking time: 20
Makes- about 500gms

Channa dal- 1/2 cup
Urad dal- 1/2 cup
Moong dal- 1/2 cup
Toor dal- 1/2 cup
Rice- 1/4 cup
Whole wheat grains- 1/4 cup
Jeera- 1-1/2 tbsp
Coriander seeds- 1 tbsp
Black pepper- 1tspn
Fenugreek seeds- 1-1/2 tsp
Turmeric or haldi- 1/2tspn (optional)
Mustard seeds- 1/2 tsp
Oil- 1/2tspn
Dry red chilies- 3-4
Asafetida- 1/4tspn

  • Heat a thick bottomed pan and dry roast each dal separately. Make sure to keep stirring to avoid burning. Transfer the ingredients to another plate or platter to cool.
  • Dry roast the rice and wheat till brown and fragrant and keep aside.
  • Dry roast the seeds one after another and transfer it to the platter containing the other ingredients.
  • Add the oil at this stage and allow it to heat up. Add the red chilies and fry for a few seconds. Add the asafetida and turmeric and fry till the raw smell is gone.
  • Take off the heat and combine it with all the other roasted ingredients and allow it to cool completely. 
  • Grind the roasted and cooled mixture in a blender to a fine powder and store in air tight containers.
  • The whole wheat grain can be substituted with equal quantities of Lapsi or semolina.
  • The turmeric is an optional ingredient. You can skip it if you want to.
  • The quantity of the red chilies can be increased if you want this spice mix to be slightly spicy.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Rice and coconut pudding with Mango

Sometimes, I wonder if I'm cut out for writing. I say this because, there are times when I can't think of a single thing to write. I do not have any issues with photographing or developing recipes. I always seem to have at least three recipes with photographs in my drafts, waiting to be published. However, I just cannot post them because I really can't come up with a proper write up. I am not sure if it is just me, but I seem to take forever just to put a few sentences together. Do any of you face similar problems? If yes how do you tackle it? I would love some inputs from you.

Now let's move on from my rants about Writer's block and come to the food part shall we?

Today, I have a luscious, creamy and tropical dessert for you. This recipe has been there in my drafts for at least a month now. This creamy dessert has all my favorite ingredients. There is the fragrant long grained rice, full fat milk, coconut milk and mangoes. Yes, Mangoes!!

I think mangoes are a favorite with most people. I don't think anybody can resist this tropical fruit.  Typically, the summers in Kenya lasts from October to February. However, thanks to the extended summer, this year, we were lucky to enjoy mangoes even after the fruit season came to a close. Although short-lived, the Kenyan Mango season is rich in it's produce. There are many varieties of mangoes that are produced in Kenya. Among all the varieties of mangoes, the Apple mango is our favorite. The apple mango is the exotic variety mango that is grown in Kenya. This variety is large and round with a deep yellow-orange to red in color. They come with sweet, fiberless flesh and is known to have  long shelf life.

Although Puri and Aamras is my favorite way of eating mangoes, I decided to try something new this time. I had heard and read so much about the combination of rice and coconut pudding with Mangoes that I just had to try it. And I must say that it was a hit around the house. I just adored the flavors of Mango and toasted coconut in this pudding. It was like tasting and embracing all the tropical flavors.

Even though this dish is easy to make, it does involve a relatively long cooking time. This is not one of those recipes that can be put together in 20mins. It does take some love and a good lot of patience. I have realized that the secret to a good pudding is to cook it on a low heat until the pudding gets creamier and creamier. Just stir it from time to time and by the end of it, you will be rewarded with a luscious, creamy and comforting dessert!!

Rice and coconut pudding with Mango Recipe:
Preparation time: 15min
Cooking time: 40min
Serves- 4-6

Long grained Basmati Rice- 150gms
Thick coconut milk- 400ml
Full fat Milk- 625ml
Sugar- 200gms
Salt- A pinch
Cardamom powder- 1/2tsp
Grated dry coconut- 2tbsp, toasted
Mango- 2, cut into pieces
Few Mint leaves to Garnish (optional)

  • Wash the rice in running water and set aside for 10-15mins
  • In a thick bottomed pan, bring the milk and the coconut milk to a gentle boil. Add the rice and cook covered over low heat for 25-30mins, Stirring frequently or until the rice is completely cooked and tender.
  • Add the salt, sugar and the cardamom powder. Mix well and set aside.
  • Serve the pudding warm or refrigerate until completely chilled.
  • Divide the pudding into six equal portions. Top it with a tea spoon of toasted coconut and some chopped mangoes. Garnish with some mint leaves and serve immediately.
  • The full fat milk can be replaced with Almond or soy milk for a vegan and dairy free recipe.
  • The cardamom powder can be replaced with 1/2 a teaspoon of vanilla extract.
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