Procrastination – How To Cook Rice and a Simple Dhal

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Happy New Year everyone! Its better late than never…procrastination seems to be my most favourite word for this year if not with everything at least with respect to blog. I’m not hoping nor promising that it will get better, lets leave it for the days to decide. Anyhow, coming to this post, which has been sitting as draft for nearly two months gets finally a way out. The one question people most commonly ask is “how do you cook rice”…I mean in the beginning I used wonder this is crazy simple why are they are asking me in the first place?

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Funda – Steamed Egg Korma

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“The eggs are the backbone of cooking, the cement that holds the castle of cuisine together.”

From the book mastering the art of southern cooking!

As you all know the main components of egg is albumen and yolk, which is mostly composed of protein.  Apart from proteins egg white contains water, small amounts of minerals and sugars whereas the yolk contains fat, vitamins A, D and minerals such as calcium, thiamine, and riboflavin. Depending on the feed of the bird the yolk colour ranges from yellow to deep orange (when the birds are fed with good feed).

The proteins are made up of long chains of amino acids.  In the raw eggs proteins are in their native state, i.e. they are in globular form, which means amino acids are twisted, folded and/or curled up in a very specific way giving the protein its shape and properties. Any induced alteration (mechanical or heat) to these proteins will in turn significantly alter the entire structure of the egg.

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Happy Diwali

Though this space has been sleeping for a while, due to some technical difficulties but we are here to wish you all a very happy Diwali with most famous motichoor ladoo (store brought) from Coimbatore and water rangoli. May the twinkling lamps illuminate your lives with endless joy, eat loads of sweet, delicious food and if possible say no to crackers.

Present – Tamarind rice / Puli sadam / Pulihora

“I don’t live in either my past or my future. I’m interested only in the present. If you can concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man. Life will be a party for you, a grand festival, because life is the moment we’re living now.” Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist 
That’s exactly how i see life now. Flooded with all love, attention, care from loved ones. Living to fullest in the present is the most beautiful thing. All I do is reach dear ones, talk endlessly over cup of tea, food and cakes. Past few weeks has been so much full of food, specially when most treasured friends cook everything special, it can’t get any better. One of the best experience from last week was when i went with my God mother to meet her friends (most of them were senior citizens) and did henna tattoo for them all (just for fun) their motherly affection, warm hugs, i came back home teared eye feeling human connection is the best in world.  

My study days used to start with things to do and end with seeing how far i reached. Now i wake up seeing glowing snow, tad bit of sunshine, decent hours of work, loads of giggle and end with yoga lessons. No wish list, no to do list, feed people, spread happiness and be merry. I’m very often asked so whats next? i say “let future be a surprise, i’m enjoying the present”. Though i know, what needs and have to be done for which i’m giving my efforts. I wouldn’t take it seriously but rather leave life to unfold itself. Efforts would never go vain. This attitude brings rays of thoughts then i see myself in the mirror and say not sure what is tomorrow, live now you deserve it! I know this a transition phase, i’m sure there are some challenges and reality check waiting for me, till they arrive i’m brave enough to live the way i want. 

Yet again this post is from winter 2010, mum cooked this rice. It is my most fav since childhood. Sometime i can’t believe how picky eater i have been since kid, this used to be one of those food (among very few) when i ate without any drama. This tamarind mix can be made well in advance and preserved. It stays for few months (say two months). You could also freeze it so it stay even more longer. It used to be one of goodies things that mum packed for me every time i flew from India or when she was here. On a busy/lazy days this mix can be mixed with warm fresh rice. It goes every well with potato chips, papads or scrambled eggs. For those who are wondering what those colored little things are? it is called vathal (Indian rice fryums, experts correct me if i’m wrong, which has to be fried before it is served) i adore them only to eat and not to fry. So people another recipe from mum. Do enjoy and live happily since you deserve the best “ting” :) 

Ingredients 
200 gram Tamarind
1 1/2 glass of water
1 tspn Fenugreek  seeds 
4 tbspn Sesame seeds 
100 ml oil

1/2 tspn Mustered seeds
1/2 tspn Cumin seeds
2 Spring of curry leaves
1 tbspn Split yellow chickpeas 6 tbspn un-roasted ground nut 
6 Green chilies slit
6 Red chilies
1/4 tspn Turmeric powder
Good pinch of Asafoetida powder
salt to taste

Method
Soak tamarind in water for about 20 – 30 minutes. Pulp tamarind to thick juice, if required add more water to extract tamarind juice and set them aside.

Dry roast fenugreek, sesame seeds separately till you get good flavors and grind them together into fine powder then set ground powder aside

In heavy bottom pan, add 100 ml of oil, once oil warms up, tip in mustered seed. Be careful since mustered will start to splutter. Once they stop to splutter add in cumin seeds.

Then add in split chickpeas and un-roasted ground nut. Fry for three minutes till raw flavors vanishes. Next added in curry leaves, green chilies and red chilies ( again green chilies can splutter).

Tip in turmeric powder and pour tamarind pulp. Add salt.
Now let them boil on medium heat till oil comes out, almost to a paste consistency.
Next add ground powder and pinch of asafoetida powder, give it a good mix.

Tamarind mix is now ready.

Slowly add in tamarind mix to warm rice till it reaches desired taste, if required add more salt. After it is mixed let them sit for about three hours for flavors to set in. Goes well with papads or simple potato chips!

Wish list – Kashmiri pulao

Hola gente! I had tank list of dreams to chase soon after PhD, like very student have, to do this to do that, my list is still growing. One on the priority is to travel to Spain, Iceland, Athens and once again to Rome to eat all over again and again! let me see how far i can go. When mum was here we planned but couldn’t get them working, winter was too rough on her. But we had gala time with heavy baking and shopping. She flew to India and i’m back to work as post doctorate researcher for short term, not doing much of research work i seriously mean it! You know dissertation hang over, i need full solid holiday to get out of it, which i hardly see any near! There are more than 15 recipes, many trip photos to edit and post, which should be one among the  wish list….so better get active and stop ranting (note to self).   
Lets go to Kashmiri pulao which mum made last year, for my Finnish God parents they thoroughly enjoyed it. Since combination of fruits, nuts and salty rice is something special. Not many may like and i can’t handle pineapple there. The very tiny tinky pineapple in photo was used just for the photoshoot. The use of fruit can be according to ones own choice, make sure to mix the fruit with lukewarm rice just before you serve, to prevent cooking of fruit, if done well in advance pulao may become slushy.

Ingredients 

150 gram basmathi rice
1 tbspn ghee
1 tbspn oil
1 large onion sliced
2-3 green chilies slit 
3 bay leaves 
1 star anies 
2 mace of nutmeg
good pinch of black cumin seeds/shajeera
5 cloves
2 inch cinnamon 
1/4 tspn ginger garlic paste
Salt to taste
Water required according to rice variety ( I used 1 and half glass of water)
Cut fruits 100 gram or more depending on your taste (we used apple, orange, grapes, mango, pomegranate and pear)
Almonds 10 numbers  skinned and fried to golden brown  (to skin soak almonds in water and peal the skin)
Cashews 10 numbers  fried to golden brown 
1 tbspn of finely chopped coriander 
Method
Soak basmathi rice for 30 minutes. In a big pot (heat medium high), add oil and ghee. When oil warms up, add in cinnamon, cloves, star anies wait for 30 seconds for them to warm, then quickly add in bay leaves, mace of nutmeg, green chilies. Next onion goes in soon after the spices starts to splutter, fry the onions till they turn transparent or pale pink, don’t fry for too long or colour of rice will change (manage heat accordingly). Followed by quick frying of  ginger garlic paste till raw flavor subsides. Drain the rice and and add in and fry for about 2 minutes. Add required amount of water, salt and cook for 2 minutes on high heat, then turn it to medium heat for about 12 – 15 minutes. Check after 10 minutes if the rice is 75 % cooked and turn the heat to low. (If you are using hot plate turn off the heat) and let them rest for another 10 minutes. After which give it a very gentle stir. Mix cut fruit, chopped coriander and fried nuts with lukwarm rice and serve immediately!

To prevent oxidation of fruits squeeze few drops of lemon juice.