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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Inheritance – Chicken Dum Biryani

There are many thing that we inherit from our parents and grandparents. Dum biryani is one such…it runs in our family. Starting from my late grandfather who was a pro in making them. Usually at home mutton dum biryani is made. Be it family get together, wedding and or Diwali it has always been biryani, grandpa has led the kitchen during those times. Let me tell you, almost a decade before these biryani were always made in bronze cooking pot on wooden fire. The whole process of making this is no less than a festival at home, with whole big bunch of family around. Usually the briyani is accompanied with chicken masala, raita and double ka meeta (bread halwa) is must! We kids we were aw struck with the whole making process, all mom’s in the kitchen taking care of pre-preparation step, men at backyard cutting the woods, setting the fire and getting the heating right.By the time we get to eat biryani is late after noon, we end by eating a sweet pan made by grandma. But elders always looking forward to eat biryani the next day. I have admit, now I realise that biryani taste best after its one day old…..With time cooking of biryani move to gas top, the taste did diminish a bit but the essence still remains….so this Diwali I’m here to give you chicken biryani from our family recipe. Here’s wishing you a very happy Diwali, may this Diwali brighten all your lives, do have a safe one …also try to say NO to crackers!

Spring time! Aviyal – Mixed Vegetable in Creamy Coconut Sauce

“People are like stained windows, they sparkle and shine when sun is out” – Elisabeth Kubler-Rose

Happy, spirited up are the day when vitamin D is activated. Yes much awaited Sun is finally here in my part of the world. Warmth, colourful blossoms and green “the” colour is just wonderful.  And all of sudden there was big shift, slipping to few 10’s of degree, rain and grey sky….I was said welcome to Belgium! But flowers are still smiling, dancing along with rain and green is getting intense!  The weather and nature are like artist and poems quite unpredictable yet beautiful! 

Spring time reminds me about fresh vegetable in India and this recipe is loaded with many vegetables in coconut sauce. This is very popular recipe from south India Kerala – God’s own country, which is usually is made with coconut paste, mum makes them with fresh thick coconut milk, more rich and creamy. When mum visited me in Finland in 2011, she smuggled brought all veggies and our home grown coconut and we prepared this recipe, yes two years back…I did tell you my hard drive cries most of the time for some fresh air! 

Till I enjoy the sun, rain and weekend…..you enjoy the aviyal (Mom’s version, not an authentic version) and glimpse of spring from my part of my world!! 

                 Airy light papads …or call it as flying breads

                 My mint plant is growing very happily at home!

Ingredients

Vegetables (All together you need 300 grams)
White pumpkin
Beans
Carrot
Yam
Raw Banana
Potato
Brinjal / Eggplant
Drumstick

100 ml Yoghurt
200 ml Thick Coconut milk (or coconut cream)
1/4 tspn Turmeric powder
1 spring of Curry leaves
4 to 5 Green chillies (ground to paste)
Salt according to taste

For Tempering 
2 tbspn Coconut oil
3/4 tspn Mustered seeds
A pinch Asafoetida
2 spring of Curry leaves

Method
Steam all vegetable along with some water, till it is half cooked, along with green chilli paste, turmeric, salt and one spring of curry leaves.
(You can steam all the vegetable in pressure cooker without weight, or pot boil till it is half cooked.)

After vegetable is half cooked, add coconut milk along with water from vegetables and slowly bring it a boil till it thickens, then add yoghurt and give it a boil for just two minutes. (Don’t over boil them, else the yoghurt will curdle)

Next do the tempering. Warm coconut oil, add muster seeds, let it splutter then add Asafoetida and curry leaves let it splutter. Then add to the vegetable mixture

Rich, flavourful aviyal is ready to serve with rice and crispy papad! 

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!