Hing _ The Adopted Child of Spices


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know your ingredient

 

The asafetida or the Hing as it is known in most of India happens to be a happy by product of the silk route. Long, long ago when Arab merchants traded with our continent, they enslaved our olfactory senses and taste buds to the gummy resin. Ever since we adopted this alien spice as our own and incorporated it into our choicest dishes to make them more eclectic.

Given its numerous therapeutic and curative powers, this spice is also referred to as the ‘Food of the Gods’.  Or it is known as  devil’s dung avoided by people who adhere to satvik food.

You can buy this resin these days off the shelf in three different forms. Though it is essentially the same ingredient and is used in more or less the same way for the same purposes, if you pay attention to the way it should be used, it can give optimal results.

The solid form is the best for it retains the flavour intact. There are two ways to use it. You can soak it in hot water and use the syrup to knead it into the dough.

One of the ground rules of using Hing is to strictly avoid using the ingredient if the dish uses onion or garlic mandatorily.

The granulated form of Hing can bestow its best  on liquid foods like buttermilk, rasams etc or semi solid foods like Sambhar, gravy, vegetable kootu etc taste best when granulated Hing is added to the seasoning of the recipe at the very end.

The powdered form of Hing can give optimal results when added as additional flavoring in salads, kosambari , raitha, pachadi etc. Heat a little oil or ghee and toss powdered hing into it before adding it to the dish.

Of Mint Condition


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Our very own Pudina or Mint probably has the distinction of being the ubiquitous herb in Afro Asian, European and Australian cuisine alike. The gaily green leaves which lend a sense of freshness, besides lending its unique smell and taste have made it a universal favourite.

If you follow certain thumb rules while using mint leaves, you can extract the best out of it. Did you know that cutting the leaves is a complete no-no for it can destroy its intrinsic goodness? You can crush the leaves with your fingers while garnishing juices, smoothies, salads and raithas to get the best effect. If you are planning to use the greens to flavour chutneys, gravies or curries make sure that you sauté the whole leaves before adding it to the main dish. If your recipe expects you to grind mint leaves along, remember that fresh leaves can alter the taste just heat the leaves on a tawa or in a pan so that it loses its moisture content and then grind the same.

Though many people add mint leaves to fried snacks like pakodas or sundried Pappads and Khakras, your discerning taste buds must have realized that the Pudina neither smells nor tastes as you expect it to. That is because; the herb loses its flavour when exposed to extreme heat. If you really care for mint then avoid using the leaves to flavour the mentioned dishes, instead you can eat them with Pudina chutney.

Sometimes we may end up buying more mint than we need. One of the best ways to preserve Pudina is to wrap the leaves in a newspaper and leave it in the refrigerator. Make sure that you discard the yellowed or blackened leaves for they can play spoilsport to your star dish.

Pudina leaves added to flavour your tea, lime water, rasams and even your water can not only tickle your tastebuds but can comfort your tummy too!

Munch on the Jack of all Seeds


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Jackfruit seeds are potent with proteins and micro nutrients and can be an antidote to a host of conditions like anemia, skin problems, varicose veins and poor eyesight when ingested on a regular basis. One of the easiest ways to consume them would be to roast or boil them like peanuts and eat them as a snack.  Or you could add them to your Sambhar like other vegetables. The more elaborate way would be to turn them into some delectable dishes.

NOTE: When using jackfruit seeds for cooking ensure that you wash the seeds and dry them in the shade for a couple of days. The outer skin will start flaking making it easier to peel them and also to get rid of the fruity smell that has gone bad. Soak the peeled seeds in hot ater for ten to fifteen minutes before cooking it.

 

Jackfruit Seeds Baath

Ingredients

Jackfruit seeds 20

Washed and cut methi 2 cups,

Grated coconut 1 cup,

Tomato puree 1 cup

Soaked moong dhal 1 cup

Coriander seeds 3 teaspoons

Cumin seeds 2 teaspoons

Channa dhal 2 teaspoons

Lime juice 2 tablespoons

Turmeric powder 1 teaspoon

Red Chilli 6

Mustard 1 teaspoon

Hing 1/2 teaspoon

Cooking oil 2 teaspoons

Fresh coriander 2 sprays

Curry leaves

Salt 2 teaspoons

Method

  • Pressure cook the jackfruit seeds using very little water allow them to cool, skin them and dice them.
  • Roast the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, channa dhal and red chillies using very little oil and grind them into a fine powder.
  • Heat two tablespoons of oil in a pan and add the mustard and hing till they spatter.
  • Add the washed and cut coriander spray, curry leaves to the seasoning.
  • Add some more oil and then add the cooked and diced seeds, cut methi leaves, grated coconut, tomato puree, soaked moong dhal, turmeric and salt to the pan and cook well.
  • Remove the pan from the fire and add the lime juice to the same.
  • You can mix this mixture with pre-cooked rice. You could add a dollop of ghee to improve the flavour.
  • Jackfruit seeds baath can be served with pacchadi and pappad.

 

 

 Jackfruit seeds Podimas

Ingredients

Raw Jackfruit seeds 12

Turmeric powder 1 teaspoon

Salt 2 Teaspoons

Hing– ½ teaspoon

Red chillies  4

Curry Leaves 1 Spray

Channa Dal 1 teaspoon

Toor Dal 1teaspoon

Urad dal 1 Teaspoon

Cooking Oil 1 Tablespoon

 

Method

 

  • Pressure cook the Jackfruit seeds with minimal water, wait for it to cool and peel off the skin.
  • Heat the oil and roast the Hing channa dal, urad dal , toor dal and red chilies.
  • Grind the roasted ingredients very coarsely, toss in the cooked Jackfruit seeds and the rest of the ingredients and run it for a minute in the food processor.
  • Remove the contents and help it to disintegrate with a blunt ladle.
  • Serve Podimas with hot rice and a raitha of your choice.

 

Jackfruit seeds Curry

Ingredients

Raw Jackfruit seeds 12

Grated Coconut 1 cup

Tamarind extract 1 table spoon

Turmeric powder 1 teaspoon

Salt 2 Teaspoons

Hing– ½ teaspoon

Red chillies 4

Garlic 4 (optional)

Curry Leaves 1 Spray

Channa Dal 1 teaspoon

Urad dal 1 Teaspoon

Coriander seeds 1 tablespoon

Cumin seeds 1 teaspoon

Mustard 1 teaspoon

Cooking Oil 2 Tablespoons

Method

  • Skin the Jackfruit seeds pressure cook using very little water and slice them.
  • Marinate the cooked Jackfruit seeds in tamarind extract mixed with salt, turmeric powder and Hing for ten minutes.
  • Fry the channa dal, urad dal, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, red chillies, garlic and curry leaves with very little oil and grind the

ingredients finely.

  • Take a heavy weight pan, add a tablespoon of oil and heat the same and spatter the mustard in it.
  • Add the marinated Jackfruit seeds to the pan and sauté it for a while.
  • Add the ground ingredients and sauté the same with the rest of the oil.

 

  • When the curry appears golden brown, add the grated coconut and mix it well before turning off the fire.
  • This curry can be served as a side dish with rice or roti.

 

Jackfruit Seeds Gravy

Ingredients

Jackfruit seeds 12

Washed and cut green chillies 100 grams

Peeled and cut ginger 100 grams

Tamarind 50 grams

Channa dal 50 grams

Sesame seeds 25  grams

Methi seeds 25  grams

Black pepper 1 teaspoon

Mustard 1 teaspoon

Hing 1 teaspoon

Turmeric powder ½ teaspoon

Cooking oil 3 tablespoons

 

Salt 2 teaspoons

 

Method

  • Pressure cook the jackfruit seeds using very little water allow them to cool, skin them and dice them.
  • Soak the tamarind in warm water for an hour and extract a thick juice.
  • Roast the sesame seeds and the methi seeds separately till they become golden brown without adding any oil. Then grind them into a fine powder.
  • Heat oil in a large pan and add the mustard, channa dal, turmeric powder and Hing.
  • Add the cut chillies and ginger in the pan and fry them for a minute or so on slow fire.
  • Add some more oil and sauté the cooked and diced seeds
  • Pour the tamarind extract into the contents of the pan and add salt.
  • Allow the mixture to simmer and then pour the sesame powder and the methi powder into the gravy.
  • Attend to the ingredients in the pan from time to time, to prevent it from burning at the bottom.
  • Once the ingredients are cooked well, allow the gravy to cool and store it in an air-tight container.
  • This gravy can be served as a side dish like any other pickle.

 

 

 

 

Goodness of Neem Flowers


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Neem flower pachchadiNeem flower pachchadi

The neem flower is a tiny ingredient with stupendous curative powers. From protecting your gut, relieving painful migraines to keeping skin ailments at bay, these flowers are replete with blood-purifying properties.

The neem tree ideally flowers during spring. The best way to harvest these flowers is by collecting them on a clean cloth or a mat from under the flowering tree. You can then rinse the flowers in a large sieve, sundry and store them in a dry air-tight container. Radha Prathi suggests a few recipes using this bitter condiment.

Neem Flower Rasam

Ingredients: A tbsp of neem flowers; 1 tbsp of cumin seeds; 1 tbsp of tur dal; 1 tbsp of peppercorns; 2 red chillies; 1 tbsp of tamarind extract; ½ tsp of mustard seeds; 1 tsp of ghee; a sprig of curry leaves and salt to taste.

Method: Grind the cumin seeds, pepper, chillies, tur dal and curry leaves to a fine powder. Add tamarind extract, the powder, and salt to a litre of water and allow it to boil to half its quantity on a low flame. Add another half a litre of water and bring the contents to a boil. For the tempering, add ghee to a pan and toss in the mustard seeds before turning off the heat. Then add neem flowers to the pan and sauté them lightly. Add the tempering to the rasam along with some curry leaves. Serve the rasam hot as it is or with some hot rice and ghee.

Neem Flower Rice

Ingredients: A tbsp of neem flower; a pinch of asafoetida; ½ tsp of pepper powder; 1 tbsp of ghee; 1 tbsp of lemon juice and salt to taste.

Method: Heat the ghee in a pan and toss in the asafoetida and the neem flowers before turning off the heat. Add pepper powder, lemon juice, and salt and allow the mixture to stand for 10 minutes. Add the mixture to a tablespoon of freshly cooked rice. Serve immediately.

Neem Flower Podi

Ingredients: A small cup of neem flower; a pinch of asafoetida; ½ tsp of turmeric powder; 1 tbsp of peppercorns; 2 sprigs of curry leaves; a tbsp of ghee and salt to taste.

Method: Heat the ghee in a pan and toss in the turmeric powder, asafoetida, peppercorns and curry leaves and turn off the heat. Add the neem flowers to the pan and sauté them. Grind all the roasted ingredients together with salt. Store the mixture in an airtight container. You can mix the powder with rice for a healthy meal.

Neem Flower Pachchadi

Ingredients: Two tbsps of neem flower; 2 tbsps of jaggery; 2 red chillies; ½ tsp of mustard seeds; 2 tbsps of tamarind juice; a pinch of asafoetida; 1 tbsp of oil and ½ tsp of salt.

Method: Grind the chillies, jaggery, salt, together and mix it with the tamarind paste. Heat a pan, add oil, toss in the mustard seeds and asafoetida and turn off the heat. Then add the neem flowers and saute them well. Add the previously prepared spice mixture. Stir well and the pachchadi is ready to be served.

Get More of Methi


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Radha Prathi Feb 23 2018, 22:19 IST

Fenugreek or methi, as we know it, possibly originated in the Mediterranean region. It is interesting to note that the ubiquitous seeds in most Indian cuisine were actually used for embalming by the Egyptians, while the Greeks and Romans used it for cattle fodder.

The tiny bitter seeds can add a rich aroma, colour and flavour when used in various recipes. However, it is best not to use the seeds as they are. Roast them over a slow fire before adding them to any dish. If you want to use it in the powdered form, follow the same procedure. If you want to grind the seeds into the dish, soak it overnight, preferably with a pinch of salt to get a smooth paste. If you want to use methi seeds for seasoning, add them to the oil when it is at maximum heat and take it off immediately. When you grind batter for dosa, make sure that you soak a teaspoon of methi seeds along with urad dal.

For those of you who are hard pressed for time, here are a few tips to keep your methi masala ready:

Roast methi, jeera and dhaniya seeds in one is to two is to four ratio and powder the spices with a half a teaspoon of turmeric powder. Toss a teaspoonful of the spice mix in your curries or rice preparations just before you turn off the flame and mix it well. This will lend a tasty and healthy twist to your cooking.

If you have lots of curry leaves at home, wash and dry them. Add a teaspoon of roasted methi seeds to the dried leaves, powder them and use this to season your sambhar or chutneys.

A Tangy Treat -Lemon


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Lemon, which originated in the Himalayan valleys, has now travelled across the world. Today, it takes the most coveted spot in the shopping lists of conscientious cooks across the globe. Itssour taste and distinct smell can infuse a freshflavour toany dish.

Though every part of the lemon can be used for cooking, it is the juice of the fruit that makes it so special. There are severaldelectable delicacies that demand a dash of fresh lime juice.

However, lime juice can turn bitter and spoil adish when boiled or cooked. Hence, it is always best to add the juice right at the end, after the dish is completely cooked and taken off the heat. Avoid reheating food thatcontains lime juice.

You can makepaneeror cottage cheese by adding a few drops of lime juice to boiling milk for it tocurdle evenly. You can lace salads, pies, soufflés and ice creams with a hint of lemonif you enjoy itstangy taste.

Apart frommaking aclassic lemon pickle with raw green lime, you can preserve lemon too. Marinate deseeded and quartered lemons in salt, and leave them in an airtight container for a couple of days. You can then dry them in sunlight. Once the rinds dry completely, they can be used as a side dish or you can pickle themin a conventional way.

You can even make home-made lozenges bymarinatinglemons in a combination of salt and sugar, and drying them in the sun.

Lemon seeds have medicinal properties and can be used for stomach ailments.

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Colour me Yellow


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Image for representation.Image for representation.

It is interesting to note that every household in our country uses haldi or turmeric powder in their food. This wonder rhizome has been used in vegetarian, non-vegetarian and vegan cooking in the powdered form for centuries now.

The condiment is an integral part of our culture, a mandatory ingredient in our cuisine, an effective curative, and is also used as a cosmetic. Its subtle spiciness can add a zing to just about any curry, pulses, rice, and even baked goodies like buns and breads. The secret of getting the colour and flavour of turmeric right is simple. The haldi powder should be tossed in just before the oil or ghee, which is used for seasoning, starts smoking. If you add it too soon, the turmeric will leave its raw smell behind, and later than the precise moment will lend shades of brown instead of the desired yellow, and will give out a burnt smell.

Turmeric is usually avoided in sweets. The exception to the rule being that a pinch of haldi added to boiling milk, while making milk sweets to lend it a pale creamy colour. If you are planning to add the herb in milk for therapeutic purposes, it is best that you put it right at the end, just before serving.

It is advisable to add sundried rhizomes instead of the powdered form while making masalas for rasam, sambhar, bisibele bath or vangibath at home. It will make a tangible difference to the taste, colour and potency of homemade masalas.

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