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.

 

 

 

 

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.

Curious about Carom?


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Carom seeds

Carom seeds

The carom seeds, popularly known as ajwain, have been a part of Indian cuisine from times immemorial. Southeast Asian countries have consciously included these aromatic seeds in some of their common and exclusive dishes. The spice lends a tinge of heat and freshness to any dish to which it is added.

Since ajwain has its own distinct flavour, it is best not to combine it with other spices. It is particularly useful in curing digestive disorders. The spice has a magical way of lending diverse genres of flavours when employed differently.

If you are planning to use ajwain as a seasoning, then heat some ghee or any cooking oil of your choice and toss the spice when the fat is hot. When the spice inflates, turn off the heat and toss it into your dish. You can give your dosas, salads and buttermilk a twist by adding a dash of ajwain.

While baking some breads and buns or Indian snacks using besan flour as base, make sure that you add raw ajwain to the dough. If you don’t like biting into the spice unexpectedly, then consider adding a pinch of coarse or fine ajwain powder to the dough.

If you want an uniform and all encompassing flavour then make sure that you use a decoction of the spice. Toss a teaspoonful of the seeds into quarter litre of water and allow it to boil down to about 200 ml, add a pinch of table salt and crystal sugar to the decoction before taking it off the heat. Use this decoction while preparing dough for breads, chapatis or paranthas. This decoction can be cooled and stored in the refrigerator and administered a spoonful or two after every meal to overcome flatulence or indigestion.

The Daily Grind


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Change is the only constant, so I realised all over again, when I had to scout for a flour mill. The one near my home had shut down. In fact, I was not even aware of its closure though it was only half a kilometre away because I court its assistance once in two months to stock our kitchen with unadulterated flour and spices.

I assumed that the services had closed down temporarily till I was informed otherwise. Then the wild goose chase of finding an alternate began with a number of phone calls to friends and acquaintances in the nearby localities. Almost everyone pleaded innocence and revealed that they had switched over to readymade ingredients almost two decades ago! Finally, an old school home maker told me about an old hand in her locale who threw open his inherited mill to the public for two specific hours each day in the mornings and evenings.

I took the grist to the mill in an auto rickshaw and duly got them ground at an exorbitant price. Even as I paid up with a raised eyebrow, the miller passed the buck to the twin monsters — mushrooming mall culture and inflation which have devoured the policy of live and let live.

Task accomplished, I mulled over the elaborate exhausting exercise and wondered if it was time for me to join the tribe which shopped for processed ingredients off the shelves and compromise on quality. The incident set me thinking. I recollected instances from history and literature which celebrated the coming of simple machines like flour mills, threshers, husking equipments, pulleys, sewing machines et al. They relieved people from putting their nose to the grinding stone literally and figuratively. Life became easier and pleasurable with subsequent innovations. Electronic communication and supersonic transport has made globalisation a reality.

We have learned to overcome the difficulties in the daily grind of life, but in bargain we have earned several axes to grind. War, terrorism, materialism and discrimination of every sort have steadily crushed the healthy human spirit and have pulverised our values. We have lost touch with Mother Nature and even ourselves. An agonised Wordsworth summed up the deteriorating situation when he said, “The world is too much with us; late and soon,getting and spending, we lay waste our powers; Little we see in Nature that is ours; We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!” It is time to ponder over, “How much is too much?” and draw a line before we bring quality life to a grinding halt on our planet!