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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Beetroot Raita/Koshimbir (Dip)

This is a very easy side dish and a wonderful use of beetroot. The ingredients are simple but very nutritious and the taste absolutely delicious. Maharashtrians make many "koshimbirs/raitas" or dips. All of these are side salads which include include chopped vegetables and are generally dressed with yogurt sauce or even some tempered oil. Groundnut features as a prominent ingredient in many of these sides. Beetroot is a beautiful vegetable. It is rich in iron and has a bright red color. It is used as an ingredient in many natural dyes as well. And when it is mixed with yogurt, the dish gets a beautiful pink color and is as appealing to the eye as to the stomach.

1 beetroot
2 tsp groundnut/peanut powder  (take peanuts and grind them to a coarse powder)
salt to taste
chilli powder  to taste (optional)
1/2 tsp sugar
1 cup yogurt
water, as needed

For the tempering (optional)
1 tbsp oil
a pinch of mustard seeds
a pinch of cumin seeds
pinch of asafoetida powder/hing
1 green chilli, slit through the center (optional)

Cook the beetroot. I usually pressure cook it in my cooker and then peel it.  If you don't have a pressure cooker, you can also steam cook it till it is softened. The beetroot should be cooked through but not mushy, so take care not to over cook it. Let it cool, then peel it and cut it into bite sized pieces. Then mix in the groundnut powder, yogurt, sugar and salt. Mix well. If the yogurt is thick, then add a  little water to thin it out a bit. It should be sauce like in consistency. At this stage you can add some chilli powder if you want and can serve it without the tempering. The tempering adds a little spice to it. So, if you wish to add tempered oil, then heat the oil and add the cumin and mustard seeds. Once you hear them crackle, add the asafoetida powder and the green chilli and turn off the heat. Let the chilli cook in the remnant heat and then pour this over the beetroot and yogurt mixture. Mix well. Serve as a side.

It is much easier to peel a cooked beetroot.  You can easily convert this to a dip by grating the beetroot instead of using diced pieces. You can also use ghee for the tempering instead of oil. To make the peanut powder, take about a cup of shelled peanuts and then pulse it in your blender, till you get a coarse powder. Stop at the stage while it is still in a powder form. If you process it more, you will end up with peanut butter. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Eggplant Salad in Yogurt- "Bharit in Dahi"

This is an absolutely delicious dish. While my mom made the 'baba ghanoush' style eggplant salad quite often, the version with yogurt was a rare occurence. I really liked it but I must not have mentioned it because she was under the impression that I didn't really care for it, for the longest time. So, this recipe is definitely a reminder to appreciate good food when I eat it. All of us make dishes we perceive are well received by our family and friends. So, next time you eat something that you really appreciate, let the cook know. That is the best way to make sure that you get to eat what you like more frequently.

1 large eggplant
1 red onion, finely diced (about a cup)
cilantro, finely chopped (about 1/2 a cup)
1 tsp corriander powder
1/2 tsp sugar
salt to taste
1 tbsp oil
1/8 tsp mustard seeds
1/8 tsp jeera/cumin seeds
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1-2 green chillies, slit (to taste)
1/8 tsp turmeric
1 cup yogurt

Roast the eggplant till the skin is charred. Then peel the skin off the eggplant. Finely dice the roasted eggplant. To this add the onions, cilantro and corriander powder and mix well. In a small pan, heat the oil. To this add the cumin and mustard seeds. Once they crackle, add the garlic and cook for a minute. Do not let it burn. Then add the green chillies and turmeric. Pour this over the eggplant and mix well. When the eggplant reaches room temperature, add yogurt and mix well. Then add the sugar and salt. Enjoy at room temperature or cold.

If you have run out of garlic, use a pinch of asafoetida/hing instead. If you use both the ingredients together, the two ingredients tend to cancel out each others fragrance.  If you do not like to eat garlic, then you can just add garlic cloves to the oil, let them cook through and then remove them at the stage when they start browning. The oil will have a nice garlic flavor. If you do not have a "gas" lit stove and use a coil stove, then broil the eggplant. It is much faster than baking and you can get a nice charred outside.

Serve is as a side salad with your meal. It can also be eaten with chapati/roti or use as a dip to eat with pita chips.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Daal Baati (Dal Bati) - Recipe for the dal

For information related to Dal Baati and the recipe to make Baati, see my previous post. The dal for the dal baati recipe is unique because it is made using urad dal. While I know that urad dal is a key component of idli and dosa batters, I haven't really seen it used as a main ingredient in too many dal recipe. The freshly baked, ghee dipped baati, is broken down into small pieces in a bowl and then piping hot dal is poured over it. The result is absolutely lip smacking. If you make this dish often, it is best to cut back on the amount of ghee that is used after the baking process to prevent those calories from adding up. But it is absolutely okay to indulge once in a while!

1 cup urad dal
4 tbsp split mung (yellow mung) dal
3 tbsp chana dal (yellow split pea)
3 cups water
a pinch of asafoetida powder
2 tbsp ghee or oil
1/8 tsp cumin (jeera) seeds
2 black cardamom (badi elaichi)
2 bay leaves (tej patta)
1 inch cinnamon
2 cloves garlic, crushed or finely minced
1 inch ginger, finely grated or ground
1/2 cup red onion diced
2 tomatoes diced
1-2 green chillies
red chilli powder to taste
salt to taste
1 tsp dhania (corriander) powder
1 tsp garam masala (optional)
1/8 tsp turmeric
additional water to thin out the dal
cilantro/corriander leaves, chopped for garnishing

Mix the three dals together and add water to it. Add asafoetida and cook. See tips on alternatives of cooking dals. The dal mixture should be cooked through and soft. In a large, deep pan, heat the oil or ghee. To this add jeera, black cardamom, cinnamon and bay leaves. Cook these till you can smell the spices. Take care to prevent them from burning. Then add the green chilli, onion, ginger and garlic. Cook these till you do not get the raw garlic smell. The onion should be at the slightly browning phase. Then add the tomato and cook till the tomatoes are cooked through. Then add the turmeric, dhania powder and garam masala. If you want the dal to be spicy, you can add red chilli powder at this stage. Cook the spices for a couple of minutes and then add the cooked dal mixture. Add some water to thin it out a bit. The consistency should not be too watery. It should be like a thick soup. Turn off the heat when the dal boils. Garnish with chopped cilantro/corriander leaves.

The fastest method to cook dals is using a pressure cooker.  If using a stove top cooker, cook it for 5 or 6 whistles and if using the Instant Pot, 12 mins on manual mode, at high pressure. Let the pressure release naturally. However, if you do not have a pressure cooker, pre-soak the dal in warm water for a couple of hours. Then add water to the soaked dal and cook till soft. If spices being friend initially burn, it is best to start again with fresh oil. Burnt spices add a bitter taste and can potentially alter the taste of the entire dish. The list of ingredients may look daunting, but most of these should be easily available in your Indian grocery store.