Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Season to keep old memories alive

Time: 5:30am. I woke up. It was cool outside and the breeze came through with a whoosh as I flung open the windows. It was raining.

Standing by the window and looking at the rain made me think of my childhood - spent in Bombay………the rains came down in sheets. Everything around me took on this wonderful silver hue at daybreak. The fragrance of fresh rain and earth made for a heady perfume.

I like the rains.

Overwhelmed, I ran out the door. Standing in the rain, drenched to my bones in utter silence…….what an incredible feeling it was.

I wanted, no needed a bowl of hari moong ki dal. During the monsoons, my mother often made a Mung bean dal that really warmed our cold bones and souls too…..thanks, mom!

Now that I’m back in India and experiencing a monsoon after two decades I just had to make this moong dal from my childhood memories, of course it does not taste half as nice as the one my mom makes, but maybe she will come visit me next monsoon…..wink wink, mom are you listening?

Whole green mung beans are fairly easy to find at most grocers and let’s face it, beans mean lean, so you can have a big bowlful and not feel guilty. I’ve found this dal tastes better when eaten with a hearty bread that sops up the liquid gravy and still holds its texture.

Monsoon Moong Dal

100 gms/ ¼ lb Whole green mung beans, washed and soaked for an hour (if you have the time)
1 large red onion, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, finely chopped (Roma, if available)
3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
½ inch piece of ginger, chopped
1 green chilli, chopped
4-8 curry leaves (optional)
2 tsp coriander leaves, chopped
½ tsp cumin seeds
¼ tsp turmeric powder
¼ tsp red chili powder
½ tsp cumin seed powder
½ tsp coriander powder
2-3 tsp oil
Salt to taste

Boil the soaked Mung beans and cook until al-dente. Heat oil in a heavy bottom pan and add the cumin seeds, allow it to sputter, then add the garlic, green chilli, ginger and cook on a medium flame until the onions turn pink. Add to chopped tomatoes and spice powders. Cook until the tomatoes are pulpy. Add the cooked mung beans and cook on a low flame for 10-15 minutes, or until the beans have softened but still retain their shape. Sprinkle chopped coriander leaves before serving.
This recipe has been submitted for the event, My Legume Love Affair (MLLA-24), created by Susan of the The Well-Seasoned Cook and hosted by Diana of A little bit of Spain in Iowa

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A slippery situation

Mention Okra and you will find many people who love to hate it - the reason that this crisp vegetable gets a bad rap is because: (a) Ooze - if the vegetable is damp from rinsing it will ooze while cooking; (b) if it is overcooked it will turn gelatinous.

Be good to yourself and indulge in this vegetable, or more like: Indulge as much as you can.
The reason is simple. Okra or ladies fingers (british english name), you're doing yourself a favor. Okra has lots of vitamin C and plenty of B vitamins and minerals, especially magnesium, potassium and calcium. It also is high in fiber.

Once treasured as a delicacy in Moorish Spain, this vegetable had its origin in Ethiopia. From that ancient land, it traveled north to the Mediterranean shores and east to India.

As children our grandmother encouraged us to eat our okra as it said to increase brain power! Research now shows that okra contains a fair amount of folic acid which helps prevent neural tube defects in developing fetuses….not an old wife’s tale after all.

I make okra quite regularly as my husband enjoys it and here is one version of the vegetable side dish I make. I am often asked what is the magic to making this delicious dish? It is quite straightforward and that is the honest truth! I hope you can enjoy the simplicity of this dish.

Kale Aloo Bhindi


1 lbs okra / ladiesfinger, rinsed and completely dry (not a spot of moisture) and cut into 1 inch pieces
½ lbs potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp whole coriander seeds
1 + ½ tsp whole cumin seeds
1 tsp red chili powder (optional)
2 tsp Amchur powder (dry mango powder) or 2 tsp lime juice
2 - 4 tsp oil
Salt to taste

Heat a pan and broil the coriander seeds and 1 tsp of the cumin seeds. Cool and powder. Heat oil in a pan and add ½ tsp cumin seeds and allow to sputter. Add the turmeric powder and chopped potatoes. Cook on a low flame until the potatoes are ¾ cooked. Add the okra, cumin/coriander powder, chili powder (optional), lime juice and salt. Cover and cook until the okra is tender but still firm. Serve warm on ciabatta bread with garlic aioli or with roti’s and dal.
This recipe has been submitted for the event Green Gourmet, created and hosted by Preeti of Write Food

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Jack be nimble………put to the test

Let me give you a little background.

Vasantha mami, a person whom I TOTALLY adore lives with her daughter in the neighborhood. In their huge urban backyard amongst many delightful plants is a jackfruit tree that has several fruits ripening on it. On a recent visit with them, I was the recipient of ¼ of a fruit (each fruit can weigh up to 30-60kgs when fully ripe) since this was a “smaller” one, the piece weighed maybe 2-3 kgs. After the fruit was cut open we realized that it was not completely ripe!

Here is my 10 year old son holding on to a fruit on the tree

Once cut we had to either consume it or throw it away……(not an option for me) so in this semi ripe stage I decided to make a dish with it and decided to blog about it anyway (I’m not sure how many people in the virtual world have access to this strictly tropical fruit found only in parts of south east Asia) it was an experiment with a happy ending. The dish tasted delightful and had an interesting texture to - not crisp or soft, but pleasingly mealy, so here goes.

Jackfruit Subzi
1 kg peeled jackfruit (about 12-15 individual segments)
3 medium sized potato, peeled and cubed into 2 inch pieces
2 – 3 medium sized onions, finely chopped
3 – 4 medium tomatoes, chopped
3 – 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
Small knob of ginger, chopped
2 green chilies, slit down the center
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
½ tsp red chili powder
¼ tsp turmeric powder
Handful of coriander leaves, chopped
Juice of one lime
2-4 tsp oil
1 – 2 cups water
Salt to taste

Peel the jackfruit and separate the individual sections. Remove the small seed in the center of the fruit, wash, chop into cubes and set aside. Heat oil, add the garlic, onion, ginger, salt and cook until the onion turns deep pink/red. Add tomatoes and all the dry powders and cook until pulpy. Add the jackfruit, potato water, cover and cook on a low flame until both the jackfruit and potatoes are softened. Add lime juice and coriander leaves, serve warm.


This recipe has been submitted for the event Green Gourmet, created and hosted by Preeti of Write Food