Spiced Mixed Pulses Soup

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I don’t really experiment with dried beans or lentils much, but I saw a little bag of mixed pulses in the store and it was just so colorful and pretty that I bought it. Thus, I had this bag of dried pulses and had to do something. So, I made some soup! Perfect for the lovely 97 degree November days we’ve been having!

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Spiced Mixed Pulses Soup

Adapted from Lisa’s Kitchen

1 small bag of mixed pulses (see original recipe for exact amounts; the types and amounts don’t matter toooo much). I had channa (chickpeas), some different beans, and some different daals (lentils).

Mix together in a bowl:

1 small red onion, chopped very finely

1 tablespoon garlic/ginger paste

3/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon ground cumin

Cayenne if you want some kick (I didn’t… I’m boring)

Remaining ingredients:

2 tablespoons ghee, butter or oil

1 small tomato, seeded and finely chopped

handful of dried curry leaves

1/4 teaspoon asafoetida (hing)

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup coconut milk

Fresh cilantro.

Soak the pulses overnight (this is why I don’t deal with dried legume stuff). Drain, and bring to a boil in enough water to cover the pulses with about 2 inches of water to spare. Simmer for about 1 hour.

Mix together what I told you to mix together above.

Heat your fat of choice in a pan and add the mixture in the bowl to it; saute for 5 minutes. Add the tomato, curry leaves, hing, and salt to taste. Cook and stir often for 8-10 minutes. Add this to the beans. Pour in the coconut milk and simmer for 20 minutes.

Garnish with the cilantro and serve hot. Additional garnish: some extra coconut milk!

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Enjoy. Love me some fiber, protein… coconut… yum. This was pretty tasty and went very well with sweet potato parathas. Other accompaniments would be some dahi (yogurt), or rice, or both, and a sweet lime pickle.

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So many dishes, though… I can make such a mess in the kitchen. It’s kind of unavoidable especially with Indian food… or so I’ve found thus far.

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So that’s my kitchen, here in our little ground floor flat. Hope you like the soup. I recommend it.

Sweet Potato Masala Parathas

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Mmm, parathas. Delicious breads fried in ghee and stuffed with stuff, be it aloo (potato), gobi (cauliflower), paneer (cheese), palak (spinach)… Or in my case, leftover sweet potato masala (sweet aloo masala?).

First, the masala I used. This is a rather unorthodox method of making parathas but don’t you worry, it’ll be yummy.

Sweet Potato Masala

Adapted from VahChef

Sweet potatoes: I used 4 and they were all varying in size and length. About 500 grams, peeled and cubed.

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 tablespoon garlic/ginger paste

1/2 tablespoon large black mustard seeds

2 tablespoons urad daal

1 small red onion, chopped

1 tablespoon turmeric

1 handful curry leaves

Salt to taste

Boil the sweet potatoes until fork tender. I accidentally overcooked them, making them mushy, which didn’t bode well for this masala on its own. But as parathas… it’s perfect.

Heat oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds. When they sizzle, add the cumin. When that fries, add the urad daal and turmeric. Add the rest of the ingredients and saute until the onion is browned and tender.

Add the sweet potatoes and let it fry for 3 minutes ish, or until the sweet potatoes caramelize a bit.

Serve!

Parathas

I used the techniques used in this recipe from vegrecipesofindia.com

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 tablespoon oil

pinch of salt

water (< 1/2 cup ish)

Dough: Combine 1 cup of whole wheat flour with a pinch of salt and 1 tablespoon of oil, and add enough water until a dough forms. Knead this dough and then let it ferment for 25 minutes under a dishcloth.

After 25 minutes, divide the dough into balls and roll out into small rounds.

Heap a few tablespoons of the sweet potato mixture into the center, and then take the sides of the round and bring them together on top of the stuffing, to make a little twisted dumpling.

Roll this out again, and make a bigger round.

Spread some ghee over the surface of this and, on a hot tawa, fry until it gets golden brown in places. Spread some ghee on the uncooked side and flip and cook the other side. Ta da!

Bear with me. This was my first attempt and it was a lot of fun. I don’t usually do step-by-step photos but the process was pretty cool (and messy).

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So after you make your dough, roll out a thick round about 3-4 inches in diameter. Spoon some of the prepared filling into the center.

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Do THIS! Make a little dumpling out of it. Take the sides and pinch them together.

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Then, you’re supposed to squish this and roll them out again, bigger, without actually tearing them. I didn’t really succeed at the no tearing thing.

But: browned sweet potato innards = YUM.

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This was my best paratha. Soooo good.

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Probably one of my favorite cooking adventures so far. And, a plus, because the sweet potato masala I thought I messed up got a second life as paratha stuffing!

Oats and Coconut Payasam

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Payasam is very similar to kheer. It’s called “kheer” in North India, while usually referred to as “payasam” or some variant thereof in South India. A lot of dishes are kind of like that: similar dishes, different names. Just to make things nice and confusing for the foreigner. But you get the hang of it pretty quickly!

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Anyway,  a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet. And sweet, this is. Sweet and spicy and crunchy and smooth and creamy. Payasam (according to wikipedia) comes from a “peeyusham” meaning nectar or ambrosia… An accurate description.

You’re probably wondering, ‘okay, what is this, whatever the name is!?’ Well if you haven’t read my banana kheer post (shame on you), kheer/payasam is basically pudding/porridge made with various ingredients: usually some grain (or banana!), nuts, ghee, sugar, spices and milk.

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I got this recipe from VahChef at http://www.vahrehvah.com. His Indian cooking YouTube videos are hilaaarious and I highly recommend.

Oats and Coconut Payasam

Adapted from VahChef

1-2 tablespoons ghee

15-20 cashews, chopped roughly

1 tablespoon golden raisins

2-3 tablespoons of oats (I ended up using a bit more)

1/2 cup freshly grated coconut (You could probably use unsweetened desiccated coconut, or go ahead and test your coconut cracking skills)

2 cups or 500 mL milk

1 cup water

Sugar: I used 1 cube of jaggery and a sprinkle of granulated sugar. Original recipe says 1/2 cup sugar. Add to taste.

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

Sliced almonds for garnishing

Heat ghee in a pot, add cashews and raisins and fry until the raisins puff up and cashews are golden brown.

Add the oats and coconut and stir until you can smell some coconutty fragrance/you see a slight color change. (2-3 minutes)

Add the milk and water and cook on low heat for a while until the milk reduces and the mixture thickens. You can add more water to dilute if it gets too thick.

Add sugar and let it melt; add the cardamom and take off the heat.

Sprinkle almonds on top and serve, warm or cold. Or room temperature. It will basically taste yummy in any form.

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This was so good. I wouldn’t really mind eating this for breakfast every day. I gave some of this to my neighbors and landlords in return for goodies that they gave to me! I got good reviews from them, so let that be your guide and just go ahead and make this. MmmmMMm.

Banana Kheer

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I’ve come full circle to why I started cooking in the first place, which was mainly to use up the bazillion bananas bestowed on us by my grandma who didn’t seem to accurately anticipate just how many bananas a family of four could eat in a week.

I have made so many banana breads in my life, I almost don’t even want to look at one anymore. Almost.

But, I’ve found a new, easy, delicious use for using up ripe bananas.

Enter: Kheer, a sort of pudding-like dessert flavored with jaggery/sugar, dry fruits (aka raisins, etc), nuts (usually kaju, or cashews but also badam(almonds) and pista(pistachios), and a yummy mix of spices. Yet another indian dessert that is malleable to many different versions (like halwa). Usually it’s made with rice; I replaced the rice with banana!

Banana Kheer

Adapted from what I watched my postdoc do:

3 large, overripe bananas, peeled and mashed/chopped

0.5 – 1 L milk (i’ve had success with both)

1-1.5 cubes jaggery (how sweet do you like it?)

1 tablespoon ghee (butter could work)

a handful of cashews, raisins

2 whole cardamom pods

Milk masala mix, which includes cardamom powder, mace, saffron, and nutmeg

Heat the ghee in a pan and toast the cashews/raisins, stirring quickly, until golden brown. Set aside.

Bring milk to a boil (watch that pot!!) and then add bananas; cook and continuously stir until the milk reduces a bit.

Add the jaggery and let it melt. Taste-test.

Continue to stir for a while until the milk reduces a lot and the mixture becomes super thick.

Add the spices (watch out, the milk may curdle. It’ll still taste good).

Finally, stir in the cashews and raisins, with the ghee.

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Enjoy banana kheer for breakfast, dessert, snack, lunch, dinner… if you’re like me and don’t mind having dessert for dinner sometimes.

Update:

Chocolate banana kheer!

Because… how could this not happen?

And it’s so easy!

Basically, towards the end of cooking, add 2-3 heaping tablespoons of cocoa powder.

Use a fork to stir it in so you don’t get cocoa powder everywhere. This also smooths banana clumps.

Let it continue to cook until desired thickness.

Bam. Chocolate kheer.

I didn’t have any, but I’d totally top this with whipped cream.

Now where’s the peanut butter? Because I’m getting more ideas…

Beetroot Halwa

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Tonight I finally used the six beets I purchased a while ago, then sort of forgot about.

I painstakingly peeled them and grated each one manually, making for very pink fingers.

Then, I ran out to the shop next door and bought some fresh Amul milk — 500 mL, in a little plastic pouch (TetraPak).

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Halwa is an Indian dessert that’s often prepared during festivals, like Navratri or Diwali (so I am told by Wikipedia). Indian desserts can be simple or super complicated — luckily, halwa is pretty easy! It’s basically beetroot pudding with cashews (kaju) and golden raisins, flavored with cardamom.

I’ve had lots of halwas in my day now, including carrot halwa, moong daal (a type of lentil/pulse) halwa, and suji ka halwa (semolina flour). This is my first attempt. Feast your eyes.

Beetroot Halwa

Adapted from Veg Recipes of India

3 cups beetroot, peeled and finely grated (about 6 small beets)

500 mL milk

2 tablespoons ghee

1 cube of jaggery (or 4-6 tablespoons of sugar)

1/3 teaspoon cardamom powder

15-20 whole cashews* (maybe extra if you’re prone to nibbling on cashews)

1 tablespoon golden raisins*

Combine the milk and beetroot in a pot and bring to a boil. Stir and boil/simmer until most of the milk is evaporated.

Stir in the sugar and ghee and cook a bit more until the milk is almost completely evaporated.

Add the cashews, cardamom, and raisins and cook until no more milk is left and it is cooked.

Ta da!

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Tender beetroot made into a delicious, and actually rather healthy dessert. This was so good. Going easy on the ghee and sugar (beets are sweet by themselves so not much sugar is necessary) makes for a very tempting dessert/snack.

*Next time, I would toast these in ghee before adding for extra flavor.