Moong Dal Payasa (Moong ki kheer- Split Mung pudding in coconut milk)

Moong Dal Payasa (Moong ki kheer- Split Mung pudding in coconut milk)

Another favorite from the family Mangalorean recipe box-the moong dal payasa is made for special occasions and festival feasts. Since I’ve been on a mission to try out (and publish on this blog) traditional Mangalorean recipes, this was undoubtedly the first thing that came to my mind as the sweet dish for this years Ganesh Chaturthi feast at home.
This is a protein- packed dessert and definitely a better sweet option for festivals than high- carb sweets like jelabis. Portion sizes should still be controlled.
Ingredients for Moong Dal Payasa:
  • Moong Dal: 1 cup
  • Jaggery: 1 1/2 cups (you could substitute with sugar,but jaggery gives the actual traditional taste)
  • Milk: 1 cup
  • Water:1 cup
  • Coconut milk: 1 cup
  • Salt:1/4th tsp
  • Saffron/Cardamom powder: a pinch (soak saffron in a little warm milk)
  • Cashews, raisins: a few(fried in a little ghee)
  • Ghee: 3tsp
Method:
  1. Roast the moong dal in a teaspoon of ghee till you get a pleasant aroma (do not let it brown).
  2. Add the milk and the water and bring it to a boil. Then simmer till the moong dal is well cooked, stirring occasionally.
  3. Once the dal is cooked add the jaggery, the saffron milk/ cardamom powder.
  4. Add the coconut milk and stir for a minute. Switch off.
  5. Serve moong dal payasa/kheer hot or a little warm garnished with the fried cahews, raisins and the remaining ghee.

NOTE: Do not add the jaggery/sugar at the beginning or else the dal will not cook (I learnt this the hard way the first time I made this!)


Chicken and Vegtable Biryani ( a one pot meal)

In my quest to cook ‘healthy food’ comes this version of Chicken biryani which is also loaded with vegetables! Biryani is something every Indian is familiar with and is usually something made on festivals,special occasions or when you have guests/friends over. Whether it’s a ‘Vegetable Biryani’,Chicken Biryani or Mutton Biryani, most families have their own secret recipes.
Usually, a chicken/mutton biryani is made without vegetables, but here is my attempt at combining the vegetable biryani with the chicken biryani to ensure my family gets it’s daily dose of vegetables even on special occasions !
Ingredients: (Serves 4)

  • Basmati rice: 1 1/2 cups (rinse and soak in water for at least half an hour)
  • Chicken: 250gms (use chicken with the bones)
  • Onions: 2-3 big red onions/5 medium onions (sliced fine)
  • Tomatoes: 2 big (chopped)
  • Ginger paste: 2 tsp
  • Garlic paste: 2 tsp
  • Mixed Vegetables: 1 cup (peas, carrots, beans, capsicum/bell pepper and such)
  • Yogurt/curd: 1 cup
  • Cilantro/coriander leaves: 5 tbsp(finely chopped)
  • Mint leaves: 3 tbsp(finely chopped)
  • Green chillies: 5-6 slit(use less/more according to your taste)
  • Red chilli powder: 3-4 tsp(add less/more according to your taste)
  • Coriander powder: 2tsp
  • Cumin/Jeera powder: 1tsp
  • Turmeric powder: 1/2 tsp
  • Salt: 3-4 tsp (adjust according to taste)
  • Oil: 2 tbsp

Whole Spices:

  •  Bay leaves: 1-2nos.
  • Cumin seeds: 2 tsp
  • Cloves: 3-4 nos.
  • Cardamom/Elaichi: 2-3nos.
  • Peppercorns: 4-5nos.
  • Cinnamon stick: 1″
  • Star anise: 1-2

Method:

  1. Marinate the chicken in a paste made with 1/2 cup yogurt, turmeric, red chilli powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, half of the ginger+garlic paste, half of the chopped cilantro and mint leaves and set aside for at least an hour in the fridge.
  2. Heat the oil in a kadai or thick bottomed pan, add the whole spices and let it fry for a minute.
  3. Add the sliced onions and fry till it turns golden brown (add a little salt to let the onions cook in it’s own water)
  4. Add the remaining ginger+garlic paste, the slit green chillies and the chopped cilantro and mint leaves and fry for another minute.
  5. Drain out the water from the basmati rice and add it along with the mixed vegetables and stir for 5-6 minutes.
  6. Add the chopped tomatoes,salt and the remaining yogurt and stir till the tomatoes are cooked.
  7. Add the marinated chicken and stir for a 5 minutes.
  8. Then add about 4 cups of water, cover and cook (with occasional stirring) till the rice is cooked.
  9. Serve hot with a mixed vegetable raita.

Healthy tip:

  • Since I use less oil while cooking(which also drastically reduces the calories in the cooked recipe), I add salt while frying the onions to let it sweat and prevent it from burning.

Fish Molee with vegetables (Kerala Style Fish Curry)

A traditional Kerala Fish curry with a nutritional twist- vegetables! This twist is the result of my lack of time (or some may say laziness) in making a separate vegetable dish to go along with this. But I must say it tasted great and got everyone eating the extra vegetables! It’s winter, so I added some frozen winter vegetables to it.

The original Meen (Fish) Molee doesn’t have extra vegetables added to it-so you could omit it if you want the authentic dish. For those looking for  one dish with protein+veg, this is ideal.

Ingredients for Fish molee with vegetables:

  • Fish fillets- 500gms (cut and marinate in 1 tsp pepper powder, lemon juice, 1/2 tsp turmeric, salt)
  • Carrot, Green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach- 1 cup frozen/fresh (omit if you want to make authentic molee)
  • Onion – 3 medium (sliced)
  • Ginger:  1 tbsp crushed/grated
  • Garlic: 1 tbsp crushed
  • Green Chilies: 2-3 slit (or as per heat tolerance)
  • Cloves – 4
  • Cinnamon – 1 medium stick
  • Tomato – 3-4 medium (chopped)
  • Coconut milk – 1 can
  • Water- 2 cups
  • Salt- to taste
  • Oil – 3 tsp
  • Curry leaves- 10-20 numbers

Method:

  1. Heat oil in a kadai, add the cloves, cinnamon stick, grated ginger and garlic and sliced onions.
  2. In the meanwhile, shallow fry the fish in a little oil. Keep aside.
  3. When the onions have turned translucent add the coconut milk and a cup of water.
  4. Stir for 2-3 minutes, then add the tomatoes and another cup of water.
  5. When the tomatoes are cooked, add the curry leaves, fried fish pieces, salt and let it come to a boil (add more water if it’s too thick)
  6. Do not stir too much or the fish will break.
  7. Serve with appam, rice, neer dosa or plain dosa

Palak Paneer- Creamy, Healthy version (Cottage cheese in Spinach gravy)

Here’s a healthy version of Creamy Palak Paneer:
Ingredients for Palak Paneer (low calorie version):

  • Palak: 4 big cups or 250 gms
  • Tomatoes: 2 big
  • Garlic: 4nos.
  • Ginger: 1″piece
  • Green chilies: 2-3 (or according to taste)
  • Paneer: 250gms (cut into cubes)
  • Skim milk: 1 1/2 cups
  • Cumin seeds: 1tsp
  • Hing(asafoetida): a pinch
  • Bay leaf: 1
  • Turmeric powder: 1/2tsp (or 1 tsp curry powder)
  • Coriander powder: 2tsp
  • Red chili powder: 1-2 tsp
  • Garam masala: 1/2 tsp
  • Salt: to taste
  • Oil: 3tsp
Method:
  1. Puree the tomato along with the garlic and ginger.
  2. Bring some water to boil and then blanch the palak leaves for 3-5 minutes. Take out the leaves and puree when cool.
  3. Heat the oil in a saucepan, add the bay leaf and cumin seeds, when they start to brown add the hing.
  4. Then add the tomato puree, garam masala, coriander powder, red chili powder, turmeric/curry powder and stir fry till you see the oil separating out.
  5. Then add the palak puree and mix well.
  6. Cover and cook for 10 minutes stirring in between.Add salt to taste.
  7. Lower the flame and add in the milk . Mix well and then cover and cook for about 5mins.
  8. Add the paneer pieces and mix. Cover and cook for another 5-6 minutes while stirring gently in between.
Serve the creamy palak paneer with phulkas or plain rice and dal.

Spicy Curry Leaf Chicken (Kerala Style)

This is a dry chicken dish which requires LOTS of CURRY LEAVES!! You can even make it with drumettes / chicken wings.
Ingredients: 

  • Chicken- 500 gms (cut into small pieces)
  • Red chilli powder- 3-4tsp
  • Coriander powder-4 tsp
  • Turmeric-1/2 tsp
  • Salt-to taste

Curry Leaf Chicken

Boil the chicken in the above ingredients adding a little water. Let the water evaporate. Keep the pieces aside.

Ingredients for the Stir-fry:
  • Mustard seeds- 1/2 tsp
  • Onion- 1 medium (mince)
  • Garlic-4-5 cloves (finely chopped)
  • Green chillies-3-4nos. slit
  • Red chilli powder: 2-3 tsp (depending on your spice level)
  • Coriander Powder: 3tsp
  • Pepper powder: 1/2 tsp
  • Cumin Powder: 1/2 tsp
  • Lemon juice-1 tbsp
  • Curry leaves-20-25 nos.
  • Oil- 1 tbsp
  • Salt to taste

Curry Leaf Chicken

Method:

  1. Heat the  oil ,add mustard seeds.
  2. When it pops and half the curry leaves, then add the onion,garlic and chillies and fry till translucent.
  3. Add all the powders and salt. Mix well.
  4. Add the chicken and mix till the masala coats all the pieces. Switch off.
  5. Check the salt.
  6. Add the rest of the curry leaves on top (lots), mix.
  7. Add lemon juice/tamarind water. Mix, cover and keep.
Serve the Spicy Curry Leaf Chicken hot as an appetizer or with plain rice and dal.
Curry Leaf Chicken
Spicy Curry Leaf Chicken (Kerala Style)

Mango Peda

Mangoes are one of the most loved fruits. It is rich in the antioxidant zeaxanthin and beta carotene, which is known to filter out harmful blue light rays and is thought to play a role in protecting the eyes and preventing cancer.

Sweets are an integral part of any festival and should be enjoyed occasionally and in moderation. When making/buying sweets for festivals, choose those are not fried and have protein and not just calories.

A peda is traditionally made by reducing milk in an open pan and then adding the required amount of sugar and flavoring. A lot of people use “khoa” which saves a lot of time. I decided to try it with ricotta cheese instead,and it actually turned out quite well!!
Ingredients for Mango Peda: (Makes about 4-6 nos.)

  • Ricotta cheese(fat free): 2 cups
  • Mango puree: 1 cup
  • Sugar: 6 teaspoons (or according to taste)
  • Cardamom powder: 1/4 teaspoon
  • Pistachio slivers/ Canned cherries/strawberries: for decoration

Method:

  1. Heat a non-stick pan and pour the mango puree along with the sugar and cardamom powder and saute till it the puree appears to be cooked.
  2. Add the ricotta cheese and stir continuously on medium flame till it becomes a thick mouldable mass.
  3. Allow to cool,then shape into desired shapes and garnish.

Egg and Vegetable Muffins/ Frittatas

A protein-packed breakfast (can also be packed for lunch or eaten as a snack) with egg and mixed vegetable. You can make a big batch and freeze them. In the morning just defrost them in the microwave and eat.

I added some spices like cumin powder, turmeric and a pinch of red chili powder. You can play around with different vegetables/spices that you (or your family) like. You can even add some cheese if you like.

Ingredients for Egg and Vegetable muffins: (Makes approx. 12 muffins)

  • Eggs: 6 (beaten)
  • Spinach: 1/2 cup fresh(chopped fine) or frozen
  • Carrots: 1 medium (diced)
  • Mushrooms: 1/2 cup (diced)
  • Tomatoes: 1 small (diced)
  • Onion: 1 small (finely chopped)
  • Turmeric: 1/2tsp
  • Garlic powder: 1/4 tsp (optional)
  • Cumin powder: a pinch (optional)
  • Red chili powder: 1/4 tsp (optional)
  • Salt: to taste
  • Oil: 1tsp
  • Butter: 1tsp

Method:

  1. Heat oil in a pan, fry the onions, then add the diced carrots (or whatever vegetable you choose), then the spinach, tomatoes and finally the mushrooms.
  2. Add the spices-turmeric, cumin, red chili powder and garlic powder along with the salt and mix well. Saute till the water from the mushrooms evaporate.
  3. Switch off and let it cool.
  4. Preheat the oven to 175C (350F).
  5. Once it’s cooled-add the beaten eggs and mix well.
  6. Grease a muffin tray with the butter and pour the mixture evenly into them.
  7. Bake for 15-20 mins.

You can add some cheese if you like.

Let them cool and then freeze them in ziplock bags. My kids love to take these for lunch.

Calories/muffin: 32kcal

Protein/muffin: 7gms

 


Sweet and Spicy Chilli Paneer

This is an ‘quickie’ dish.Takes just about 10-15 minutes.
Ingredients for Sweet and Spicy Chilli Paneer:

  • Paneer/ Tofu-200gms (cut into 1″ cubes)
  • Garlic- 6-7 flakes (chopped fine)
  • Green chilies-2 nos.(chopped fine)
  • Tomato sauce- 3 tbsp
  • Chilly sauce-1-2 tsp
  • Soy sauce- 2 tsp
  • Coriander/Cilantro -2 tbsp(chopped fine)
  • Oil-1 tsp
  • Salt: to taste
  • Pepper: 1/4th tsp
  • Sugar:1/4th tsp

Method:

  1. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan.Add the chopped garlic and chilies.
  2. Fry for a minute or two(take care not to burn it),reduce heat and add the salt,pepper and sugar.
  3. Add the tomato sauce,soy sauce and the chilly sauce,mix well.Add about 2tbsp water.
  4. Add the Paneer/ tofu cubes and the chopped coriander/cilantro leaves.
  5. Cook for another 3-4 minutes on reduced heat.
  6. Serve hot.

Stuffed Green Bell Pepper/ Capsicum with Chilli Paneer/ tofu (Microwave recipe)

I had first seen the recipe of Stuffed Green Bell Pepper (or “Capsicum” and “Shimla Mirchi”as it is popularly known as in India) when I was a kid and was skimming through one of my mother’s magazines (I think it was either “Femina” or “Savvy”) and came across this awesome looking photo of a stuffed capsicum(I wasn’t into cooking then,so I can hardly remember what it was stuffed with, but I’m guessing it had potatoes).

Stuffed Bell Pepper recipe
I was so enamored with that photo that I bugged and begged my mom to make it and she finally relented and agreed to make it.So,the next day, off we went,my mom and little me in tow to the bazaar/market and bought a couple of the freshest,greenest and biggest looking capsicums for the recipe(the rest of the stuff which we bought has been deleted from my memory-I happen to have a limited memory space and I tend to save only the most important stuff). Anyway,we got home and my mom got busy in the kitchen with me doing the most important part-opening the magazine to the page where the recipe was and keeping it where my mother could refer to it.That done,I left my mom to do the cooking(she was the expert after all)and I guess I must have whiled away the time till dinner.
When it was ready,we were called to the dinner table and I ran excitedly(again please note that I was never a good eater as a child and nothing other than chocolates got me excited) to take my place at the dinner table. That was when I saw what my mom had made and I burst into tears,and no-it was not tears of joy,but that of bitter disappointment!

Stuffed Capsicum Indian Recipe
It didn’t resemble the dish in the book at all,in fact it didn’t even look like she had made the same dish.I ran into the kitchen and got the book and pointed it out to her(just in case she had made another recipe by mistake)-the photo was of a nice green bell pepper,with a perfectly green skin,no blemishes,filled with the yummiest looking stuff with a little firm cap on it.What actually sat on the table was a soggy, greenish brown mass barely able to hold the stuffing!! My mother and the rest of the family tried to explain that in the photo the bell pepper was not subjected to any cooking and was just to get(what I now understand is called) an “awesome shot”.
The recipe called for the pepper to be fried,which made it change in colour and texture and hence the soggy mass sitting on our dining table. Whatever she made must have probably tasted great because she did make it a couple of times after that and even experimented with different stuffing’s,but I really couldn’t care. It was NOT what was in the book!!!

I’ve always loved the stuffed capsicum served at restaurants, but have found it way too oily to make on a regular basis. Looking for a healthier version I got the idea of “Microwave Stuffed Capsicum”.  I had some tofu that I had bought to make “Chilly Tofu”(the recipe for which I have posted earlier). Since it was for a stuffing, the only change I made was to crumble the tofu instead of cutting them into cubes,and yes,I took a snap of the dish before and after cooking the bell pepper!!
Check out the recipe and ingredients for the “Quick Chilli Paneer”

Ingredients for Stuffed Capsicum with Chilli Paneer/tofu:

  • 4 bell peppers (you can choose whatever colour you fancy).
  • Stuffing-Chilli paneer or Tofu bhurji or egg bhurji or paneer bhurji or mushroom masala

Method:

  1. Cut the bell peppers carefully at the top,and remove the seeds.
  2. Apply a little oil to the outer side of the capsicum and microwave on high for 3-8 minutes (depending on the microwave)
  3. Once they are ready,stuff it carefully with the ‘Sweet and Spicy Chili Paneer‘  and serve.
  4. You can even stuff it with paneer/ tofu burji/ egg burji (scrambled eggs).

P.S:

  • Since I’ve microwaved the peppers, it doesn’t look anything like the fried version that is imprinted in my memory.
  • You could even bake the capsicum instead of microwaving them.

Online Dietitian India

Sweta Uchil-Purohit


Quinoa Upma with vegetables (Spicy Quinoa with vegetables-Indian Style)

I had heard so much about “Quinoa” (pronounced keen-wah) a high protein ‘pseudo cereal’ (foods that are cooked and eaten like grains and have a similar nutrient profile). Quinoa is actually a seed and is rich in complete protein, fibre, the B vitamins and healthy monounsaturated fats. It is believed that substituting quinoa for grains like polished rice and wheat could improve the blood glucose levels in diabetics and the cholesterol levels . Also, since it has a high fibre content it is a good choice for those looking to lose weight.
After researching a bit with the different recipes ,I realized that I could try it out in my regular ‘mixed veg upma’ recipe. Here’s how to make quinoa upma:

Quinoa Upma (Indian Style)

Ingredients for Quinoa Upma:

  • Quinoa: 1 cup
  • Mixed vegetables: 2 cups(green beans, peas, carrots)
  • Onion-1/2 medium(finely chopped)
  • Green chillies-1 or 2(finely chopped)
  • Ginger: 1/2″ thinly sliced
  • Tomatoes: 1(chopped fine)
  • Mustard seeds-1/2 teaspoon
  • Urad dal(black matpe bean dehusked and split)-1 teaspoon
  • Sambar powder-1 teaspoon(optional)
  • Water: 2 cups
  • Salt: to taste
  • Oil: 1 teaspoon

Method:

  1. Wash the quinoa 2-3 times,drain and keep aside.
  2. Heat oil in a non-stick pan,add the mustard seeds and the urad dal. When the mustard seeds start to sputter,add the sliced onions, ginger, salt and saute till the onions turn translucent.
  3. Add the mixed vegetables,green chillies and stir for 5-6 minutes. Then,add the tomatoes and sambar powder(optional) and stir till the tomatoes are completely cooked.
  4. Add the quinoa and mix well.Stir for about a minute or two,then add two cups of water,cover and cook on medium heat for about 15-20 mins.
  5. Serve hot as such or with some chutney or even a raita.