Celebrating Its Diversity – Food Fix- Appam


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Radha Prathi, July 11, 2015:

Image for representation

The appam is perhaps one of the oldest dishes of South India, where it is prepared in various forms, especially in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. When prepared in the sweet form, it is considered to be an ideal offering to the gods. It has a long shelf life and when cooked in pure ghee, it can last for months together without any refrigeration. Ideal for your travel sojourns as it doesn’t cause spill-overs and needs no elaborate packing, appam is also easy to make in its special mould. These moulds can be found in any kitchenware shop and nowadays, leading companies have also introduced non-stick appam moulds for the health-conscious people. Though appams can be cooked with oil, ghee is a better option for it not only enhances the taste, but also acts as a preservative, besides providing healthy nourishment.

Check out some appam recipes:

appamappam
Sweet something
Ingredients: 250 gm rice, 50 gm chana dal (split bengal gram), 100 gm grated coconut, 2 ripe bananas, 250 gm jaggery, 10 gm powdered cardamom, 1 tsp ghee, cooking oil

Method: Soak the rice and the dals for two hours and grind them to a fine paste along with the grated coconut and the peeled bananas. Add the jaggery to the batter along with powdered cardamom and mix it well. Heat the appam mould and grease the mould generously with ghee. Ladle out the batter in the mould and cook till it turns golden brown. Serve hot or cold.

If you want to prepare instant appam with a different taste, you could supplement the rice and dal with an equivalent amount of maida flour. You could grind the grated coconut and bananas separately and cook the appams in a similar way. Baked sweet potato can also be used to substitute the banana.

Potato punch
Ingredients: 2 cups maida, 2 big potatoes, 2 sprigs curry leaves, 1 tsp jeera, 5 green chillies, 1 tsp grated ginger, 2 tsp salt, cooking oil

Method: Grind the jeera, grated coconut, boiled potatoes, green chillies, grated ginger, curry leaves and salt into a fine paste and mix it with the maida flour. Heat the
appam mould and grease the mould generously with oil. Ladle out the batter in the appam mould and cook till it turns a golden brown. Serve hot with chutney or sauce of your choice.

Salt ‘n’ spice
Ingredients: 250 gm rice, 50 gm chana dal, 50 gm urad dal, 100 gm grated coconut, 2 sprigs curry leaves, 1 tsp jeera, 5 green chillies, 1 tsp grated ginger, 2 tsp salt, cooking oil

Method: Soak the rice, dals, and jeera for two hours and grind them to a fine paste along with the grated coconut, green chillies, grated ginger, curry leaves and salt. Heat the mould and grease it generously with oil. Ladle out the batter in the mould and cook till it turns a golden brown. Serve hot with chutney or sauce of your choice.

Green Gold in your Kitchen – Methi


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Here’s one way to combine nutrition and flavour. Enjoy a great meal with a few lip-smacking methi recipes by Radha Prathi .

Fenugreek leaves, popularly known as methi, are easily available in all parts of the country and is a widely popular cooking ingredient not because it is economical but mainly because it has been proven as a “coolant” food.

There are hundreds of recipes that have evolved on this green gold. It is proven to be a powerful panacea in the treatment of diabetes and high blood pressure. Fenugreek also holds the promise to cure certain types of arthritis. As if these weren’t enough, a hair cleanser made from soaked and ground seeds of fenugreek, can prevent premature hair loss.

Women who suffer pain during their menstrual cycle can overcome cramps forever if they consume a teaspoon of fenugreek seeds soaked overnight in curd with a pinch of salt for 45 days  continuously on an empty stomach.

Methi seems to have magical curative properties especially for problems related to the stomach. Simple ailments like indigestion, stomach ache, constipation and piles can be overcome by the consumption of these leaves. It is no wonder that it is an important ingredient in most varieties of pickles and spicy, tangy chutneys.

Methi rice

Ingredients: Washed and cut methi — 2 cups, grated coconut — 1 cup, tomato puree — 1 cup, soaked moong dal — 1 cup, Fresh peas/bean seeds — 100 grams, coriander seeds — 3 teaspoons, cumin seeds — 2 teaspoons, channa dal — 2 teaspoons, lime juice — 2 tablespoons, turmeric powder — 1 teaspoon, red chilli — 6, mustard seeds — 1 teaspoon, asafoetida — half a teaspoon, cooking oil — 2 teaspoons, fresh coriander leaves — a few, curry leaves — a few, salt — 2 teaspoons

Method: Roast the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, channa dal 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 asafoetida till they splatter. Add the washed and cut coriander sprig, curry leaves to the seasoning. Add some more oil and then add the cut methi leaves, grated coconut, tomato puree, soaked moong dal, green peas, 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 with pre-cooked rice. You could add a dollop of ghee to improve flavour. Methi rice can be served with pacchadi and pappad.

Methi kootu

Ingredients: Washed and cut methi — 2 cups, grated coconut — 1 cup, moong dal — 1 cup, cumin seeds — 2 teaspoons, urad dal — 2 teaspoon, black pepper — 1 teaspoon, mustard — 1 teaspoon, cooking oil — 1 teaspoon, curry leaves —  a few, salt — 2 teaspoons.

Method: Fry the urad dal and black pepper using very little oil and grind them into a fine powder. Grind the grated coconut and curry leaves into a fine paste. Pressure cook the cut greens and moong dal separately using minimum water. Don’t  drain the excess water as it contains all the essential vitamins. Mix the cooked greens, dal, freshly prepared spice and coconut gravy and let the mixture cook on a slow fire.
Heat a little oil in a small pan and add the mustard seeds till they splatter. Add fresh cumin seeds to the cooked product. Serve with hot rice or rotis.

Methi vadakarai

Ingredients: Channa dal — 250 grams, washed and cut methi leaves — 3 cups, turmeric powder — 1 teaspoon, red chillies — 10, mustard — 1 teaspoon, asafoetida — half a teaspoon, cooking oil — 3 tablespoons, curry leaves — a few.

Method: Soak the dal for two hours and grind it to a fine thick paste along with red chillies, turmeric powder and salt and mix the cut methi leaves into the batter.

Steam the batter in a pressure cooker for at least fifteen minutes. Once the steamed dough cools, use a clean spoon or your fingers to disintegrate the mass in such a way so that there are no lumps.

Heat oil in a large pan and add the mustard and asafoetida till they splatter. Add the disintegrated mass to the pan and attend to the ingredients by stirring them in the pan for 10 minutes, adding half a spoon of oil every now and then to prevent it from burning at the bottom before putting off the heat. Your methi vadakari is ready. It can be served with hot rice.

Don’t Let The Rain Be A Pain


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MONSOON MENU

Radha Prathi helps you fortify your diet and lifestyle to suit the muggy weather

WELCOME THE RAINS A hot home-cooked meal, and seasonal fruits and  vegetables can see you through the monsoons. The often heard saying, “Hope for the best and prepare for the worst” seems to best suit the rainy season in India. The rains do spell a sense of romance and charm to the Indian mind. All art and literary forms have celebrated the rains in no mean terms. Yet, the rains can imply quite the contrary when it comes to daily existence. The flooded streets, overflowing sewers, falling trees and power cuts can prove to be agonising to residents of cities, towns and villages alike.

The medical faculty will vouch that most people are susceptible to fall sick during the rainy months as germs tend to thrive in a damp environment. The change in seasons also have an impact on the human body, due to the fluctuation in temperature, humidity and atmospheric pressure. Ailments could range from simple colds, coughs and fevers to epidemics which can wipe out life. But a little caution and preparation can help one breeze through the rains happily and healthily.

It is not necessary to look far or bend backwards to combat rain-related problems. Make it a point to boil the water you drink even after filtering it. When the water reaches boiling point, flavour the water with a few grains of cardamom, anise seeds and clove or cumin seeds.

Take these spices in equal proportion, dry fry and powder them and add a pinch of it to boiling water. This will not only encourage you to drink more from time-to-time, but will also take care of simple colds and sore throats.

A generous dash of powdered spices or dry ginger can also be used to spice up your milk, tea, soups and salads and help you clear blocked nasal passages and soothe sore throats. Indulge your taste buds with fried foods like bhajjis, samosas, cutlets and kachodis, but make sure you soothe your throat by drinking a glass of this flavoured hot water. Cultivating the habit of drinking flavoured hot water with a spoonful of lemon juice and honey mixed into it, on an empty stomach, first thing in the morning, can do you a world of good. This helps relieve any discomfort in the throat, acidity, and helps maintain body weight.  Similarly, if one drinks a glass of hot milk sprinkled with spices and a pinch of turmeric, one can overcome insomnia and look forward to an energetic day.

During the monsoon, a hot, tasty, home-cooked meal with seasonal fruits and vegetables can see you through the season. If you consciously consume citrus fruits filled with vitamin C, you can avoid being caught sniffing into a handkerchief and avoid having to nurse cuts and wounds, as they  will heal faster too. Traditional foods like rasam, idli, pongal, khichdi can offer perfect comfort and protection, if you were to fall sick during the season.

While a balanced diet can keep illnesses at bay, one cannot discount health issues that can arise in the coming months.

This time around, you will tend to lose a little more hair than usual; a massage with warm coconut oil can save your locks. If the rains prove to be hindering your daily walk, use the tread mill, brush up your dancing skills or just jog around in your home listening to your favourite music to stay fit.

It is not enough if you take care of yourself, the environment in which you live should also be conducive to keeping you in the pink of health. So, your residence should be well-ventilated and should let in sunlight, lest it starts molding with fungus and become a breeding ground for insects. If you take some time off your busy schedule and sun your provisions, bedding, clothing that you do not use often and shoes, you can rest assured that weevils, silverfish and other such insects will not infest your cupboards or pantry.
Place pieces of camphor in bookshelves to prevent books from absorbing moisture. Place tissue papers within shoes after you use them to protect them from mugginess and prevent them from accommodating creepy-crawlies. Spray insecticides down all the drains in your home. Pour salt water down the drain after a day. If you repeat this exercise every fortnight, your home will be rid of cockroaches and mosquitoes forever. Move your potted plants and clean the area, as the rainy season is the time when insects breed prolifically.

Ensure rain gear, like umbrellas, raincoats, caps and shoes are usable. Make sure to get the umbrella mended or the raincoat aired before you start using them.
Enjoy the rains!

Food Fix- Go Gooseberry -Food Fix


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Gooseberry Avakkai Ingredients: Gooseberry — 250 gm; Salt —50 gm; Red chilli powder — 50 gm; Mustard (powdered) — 25 gm; Turmeric — 25 gm; Fenugreek (powdered) — 25 gm; Gingelly oil — 250 gm.

Method: Wash the gooseberries thoroughly and dry them. Take a large vessel and add a few teaspoons of oil. Pour the ingredients, except the gooseberries, into the oil and stir well. If you like garlic, you could add 10 freshly-peeled pods to the mixture. Add the gooseberries to the thick gravy and transfer the contents into an air-tight bottle or a porcelain jar. It can be consumed in a week’s time.

Gooseberry Chitranna
Ingredients: Gooseberry — 250 gm; Coconut (grated) — 100 gm; Cooking oil — 2 tbsp; Salt — to taste; Green chillies — 25 gm, Channa dal — 1 tbsp; Groundnuts (roasted) — 50 gm; Fenugreek (roasted and powdered) — 25 gm; Turmeric — ½ tsp; Mustard —½ tsp; Asafoetida — a pinch; Curry leaves — a few.
Method: Chop the gooseberries and remove the seeds. Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a pan and add the mustard and asafoetida till they splutter. Add  turmeric, green chillies, channa dal,  and groundnuts to the oil. Add the gooseberries last. Cook well. Add grated coconut and curry leaves. Transfer the mixture into an air-tight container. You can add the mixture to pre-cooked rice.

Gooseberry Rasam
Ingredients: Gooseberry — 100 gm; Moong dal — 2 tbsp; Ginger and green chilli paste — 2 tsp; Tomatoes (medium-sized) — 2; Turmeric — ½ tsp; Mustard — ½ tsp; Cooking oil — ½ tsp; Asafoetida — a pinch; Curry leaves — a few; Salt — to taste.
Method: Add half litre of water to a bowl containing turmeric, ginger and chilli paste, salt and tomatoes and bring the mixture to a boil on a low flame. Pressure cook the gooseberries and the moong dal in 2 cups of water. Mash the cooked gooseberries and moong dal. Add to the simmering rasam. Once it comes to a boil, season it with mustard and curry leaves.

Snacks and Crispies (Puffed Rice)


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HEALTHY INDULGENCE

Snacks and crisps

Salted puffed rice can turn out to be a healthy snack during the rainy season and cold winters when they are flavoured in different tastes. Puffed rice is usually measured out in litres because they happen to be negligible in weight. The following recipes have been written out for two litres of puffed rice.

Avakkai flavour

Ingredients: 1tbsp cooking oil, 1tsp turmeric powder, 1tsp mustard powder, ½ tsp red chilli powder, 1tsp aamchur powder

Method: Heat a pan, pour oil, add mustard powder, red chilly powder, turmeric powder, aamchur powder and sauté the ingredients. Put off the fire before pouring in the puffed rice. Mix the contents well before serving.

Sweet and sour flavour

Ingredients: 1tbsp cooking oil, 1tsp turmeric powder, 1tsp mustard powder, 1tsp powdered sugar, 1tsp aamchur powder
Method: Heat a pan, pour oil, add mustard powder, powdered sugar, turmeric powder, aamchur powder and sauté the ingredients. Put off the fire before pouring in the puffed rice and mix the contents well before serving.

Regular flavour

Ingredients: 1tbsp cooking oil, 1tsp turmeric powder, ½ tsp mustard, ½ tsp red chilli powder, ½ tsp asafoetida
Method: Heat a pan, and pour oil. Add mustard, turmeric powder, red chilly powder and asafoetida and allow the ingredients to splutter. Put off the fire before pouring in the puffed rice. Mix the contents well before serving.

Onion flavour

Ingredients: 1tbsp cooking oil, 1tsp turmeric powder, ½ tsp mustard, ½ tsp red chilli powder, ½ cup finely cut onions
Method: Heat a pan and pour oil. Add mustard, red chilly powder, turmeric powder, onion and sauté the ingredients. Put off the fire before pouring in the puffed rice. Mix the contents well before serving.

Ginger-garlic flavour

Ingredients: 1tbsp cooking oil, 1tsp turmeric powder, ½ tsp mustard, ½ tsp red chilli powder, 1tbsp garlic ginger paste
Method: Heat a pan, pour oil, add mustard, red chilly powder, turmeric powder, garlic ginger paste and sauté the ingredients. Put off the fire before pouring in the puffed rice. Mix the contents well before serving.

That Spicy Tangy Syrupy Nourishing Drink


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Radha Prathi

LIVING IN THE KITCHEN

Grandma’s favourite recipe for a bad cold, a spicy soup, and an accompaniment to go with rice — good old rasam is all these and more

The Sanskrit word rasa is probably one of the few words which has retained the various shades of colour and evokes a hoary tradition in Indian art. Rasa which means emotions, theme, taste, contents and colours in just about every Indian language has gained an enviable place in the world of fine dining.

No South Indian cuisine worth its salt can ever be complete without the quintessential rasam. Be it a wedding, festival, balanced baby food or a bout of illness, the rasam in one of its many avatars can prove to be a blessing. Today the rasam, has metamorphosed into the universal soup .

Though the world of art lays claim to nava rasams, the culinary world begs to differ by offering hundreds of creative variations. Some classical versions of the rasam concoctions can ease colds, coughs and simple fevers.

Traditional rasam drunk as soup or taken with hot rice can keep the body hydrated, nourished. Selected spices and the liberal lime juice which lace the magical liquid with plenty of medicinal properties and Vitamin C can raise immunity levels and cajole an ailing person to bounce back to good health.

Ginger rasam

Ingredients: ¼ cup ginger, 2 green chillies, 2 tomatoes — quartered, half a spoon of rasam powder, half a cup of moong dal, half a teaspoon of turmeric, 2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice, 2 teaspoons of salt, half a teaspoon of mustard, 1 teaspoon of cooking oil, 1 sprig of curry leaves, 1 sprig of coriander leaves.
Method: Peel the ginger, cut it and grind them with green chillies. Pressure cook moong dal with a pinch of turmeric. Add salt, rasam powder, tomatoes to a litre of water and allow it to boil to half its quantity on a low flame. Add chilli-ginger paste to the boiled contents and bring it to a boil. Add the cooked dal to the contents and add another half a litre of water and put off the flame when the rasam comes to a boil. Pour the lime juice to the contents. Add oil to a pan and throw in mustard seeds and season the rasam. Add freshly -washed and cut coriander and curry leaves to the rasam and serve it hot as it is or with some hot rice.

Buttermilk rasam

Ingredients:  2 tomatoes — quartered, half a teaspoon of rasam powder, half a  teaspoon of turmeric, half a litre of sour churned buttermilk, 2 teaspoons of salt, half a teaspoon of ajwain, 1 teaspoon of cooking oil, 1 sprig of curry leaves, 1 sprig of coriander leaves.
Method: Add salt, turmeric, rasam powder, tomatoes to a litre of water and allow it to boil to half its quantity on a low flame. Pour churned buttermilk to the contents and bring it to a boil. Add oil to a pan and throw in the ajwain seeds and season the rasam. Add freshly-washed and cut coriander and curry leaves to the rasam and serve it hot as it is or with some hot rice.

Pepper rasam

Ingredients: 2 tomatoes — quartered, 1 tablespoon of granulated pepper, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 2 tablespoons salt -half a teaspoon of mustard, half a teaspoon of ghee, 1 sprig of curry leaves.
Method: Add salt, granulated pepper, tomatoes to a litre of water and allow it to boil to half its quantity on a low flame. Add another half litre of water and bring it to a boil. Pour the lime juice to the contents. Add ghee to a pan and throw in mustard seeds and season the rasam. Add freshly-washed and cut curry leaves to the rasam and serve it hot with some hot rice.

Jeera rasam

Ingredients: 1 tablespoon of jeera, 1 teaspoon toor dal, 1 teaspoon of rasam powder, 1 tablespoon of tamarind extract, 2 teaspoons salt, half a teaspoon of mustard, half a  teaspoon of cooking oil, 1 sprig of curry leaves.
Method: Grind jeera, toor dal and curry leaves to a fine powder. Add tamarind extract, salt and rasam powder 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 add the jeera powder to the contents and bring it to a boil. Add oil to a pan and add mustard seeds and season the rasam. Add freshly-washed and cut curry leaves to the rasam and serve it hot with some hot rice.

Note: If you have neem flowers or dried solanum available in condiment shops, they can also be added to the seasoning of the pepper and jeera rasam to make it more medicinal and effective

Wonder of the Plantain Flower


Radha Prathi writes about the rare plaintain flower and the flavour it adds to special dishes.
 

Consuming the plantain flower can do a world of good to women. The flower contains the much needed home remedy for most problems related to the menstrual tribulations of women. These florets when cooked with dhal supplement the protein requirement quite adequately. There are certain ground rules for using the plantain flower as they can be a very sticky and tiresome process. For those of you, who are not familiar with the plantain flower, please note that each petal of the flower conceals more than a dozen florets. The first few petals which are deep crimson could be discarded and only the florets are to be used in the given method. Once the petals appear to be cream in colour, the flower can be cut up as you would use any other vegetable.

Open the florets of the plantain flower and pick out the stamen with a black or dark tip.[each floret will have only one such stamen] Cut the florets and soak them in sour buttermilk.[This will reduce the stickiness of the florets] The cut florets may be stored in the refrigerator soaked in butter milk. Re-wash the cut florets in fresh water before cooking.

Plantain flower usili

Ingredients

Channa dhal 250 grams; Cut Plantain flower 1; Turmeric powder 1 teaspoon; Red Chillies 10; Mustard 1 teaspoon; Asafoetida 1/2 teaspoon; Cooking oil 3 tablespoons; Curry leaves 3 sprays.

Method

Soak the dhal for two hours and grind them to a fine thick paste along with red chillies, turmeric powder and salt. Steam the ground ingredients and the cut plantain florets in a pressure cooker separately till it cooks well.[Note: don’t add water to the florets] Once the steamed dough cools disintegrate the mass with a dry spoon. Heat oil in a large pan and add the mustard and asafoetida till they spatter.Add the cooked dhal to the pan, slow the fire and allow the mass of dhal to disintegrate till it reaches a rough powdery state. Check the ingredients in the pan at regular intervals, adding half a spoon of oil every now and then to prevent it from burning at the bottom. Once the dhal turns into a golden brown add the cooked plantain florets and curry leaves and stir well.

This usili can be served with hot rice or used as a side dish with sambhar or rasam.

Plantain flower Dosa

Ingredients

Boiled rice 250 grams; Channa dhal 50 grams; Toor dhal 50 grams; Moong dhal 50 grams; Grated coconut 50 grams; 1 large onion finely chopped; Cut Plantain flower 1; Turmeric powder 1 teaspoon; Red Chillies 4; Black pepper 1 teaspoon; Mustard 1 teaspoon; Asafoetida 1/2 teaspoon; Cooking oil; Curry leaves 3 sprays

Method

Soak the three dhals for two hours and grind them to a coarse paste along with red chillies, black pepprs, grated coconut, curry leaves, turmeric powder and salt. Add the finely chopped onion and the freshly cut plantain florets after washing them with plain water to the batter. You could make dosas with the batter in the usual way. Serve hot with either chutney or tomato sauce.