Hariyali Tofu Salad – Marinated Tofu in green Chutney with Salad

Someone told me the other day that, we should always remain positive and look at the bright side of things. So when I made terrible Rava Idlis on the weekend, the bright side became the delicious coriander chutney that I made with it, which thankfully was not that terrible.

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Not the one to give up, I wanted to put the chutney to good use. Luckily I had some Tofu in the fridge, and that meant I could combine them both and come up with some really tasty and healthy as well. As a rule, the Punjabi in me hates anything that pretends to be Paneer (Cottage Cheese) and Tofu in my books is an impostor trying hard to look like my favorite Paneer. But having said that it is a healthy option and one that is easily available in the markets of Sydney.

 

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Also lately I have been very inspired by BeerBiceps and his take on health and fitness. I love his straightforward and scientific approach to fitness and Indian food and find the information he shares easy to incorporate into my daily life (who thought I would be inspired by a health food blogger right). Hence this Hariyali Tofu salad came about. It was super easy to make and gave me the satisfaction of putting something good in my tummy. You can substitute the Tofu with Paneer or Chicken breast, and it is a great addition to be used in wraps, sandwiches, salads, Kababs and even to eat on its own.

 

Recipe: Cooking time 10 minutes

 

For the chutney

2 cups of Coriander leaves, washed and clean

1 tbsp desiccated Coconut

1 tbsp Curd (You can skip this for a dairy free version)

1 tbsp of peanuts (without skin) – You can skip Peanuts for a nut-free version

Salt to taste

4 – 5 Green chilies

Juice of a Lemon

Add all the ingredients in a grinder and blitz to a smooth paste. Refrigerate for up to 3 days.

 

For the Salad:

250 Gms Tofu  (You can substitute Tofu with Paneer/Chicken breasts. The cooking time for the Chicken will be longer)

Salad leaves

Juice of half a lemon

1 tsp Olive oil

1 diced Tomato or Beetroot

Marinate the Tofu in the chutney for atleast 30 minutes or preferably overnight

Heat 1 tsp Olive oil in a pan and grill the Tofu on all sides till golden, drain on an absorbent kitchen towel

Mix the Olive Oil & Lemon juice together and drizzle on the Salad leaves with the Tomato or Beetroot

Add the Tofu

Serve it any way you like and enjoy, I served it with some Moong dal with a small teaspoon of Ghee and brown rice. It made for a very balanced lunch.

The He- Man Dal – Punj Rattani Dal (5 Gems Lentil Soup/Dal)

My younger brother was a terribly fussy eater when we were growing up. He hardly ate anything. My mom had to cajole, cuddle, force and sometimes even threaten him to eat his lunch and dinner.

Everyday my mom would try and make something really delicious for his meal in school and he would come back with the lunch box untouched. My poor mother used to get sleepless nights, worrying about the fact that her boy may not grow as healthy as the other boys of his age.

So she would make funny names of Dals and vegetables that she cooked to tempt him to eat. One of his favorite cartoon character was “He-Man”. So my mom invented a “He Man Dal” which according to her version was a Dal that “He-Man” ate everyday to be strong and fight the evil “Skeletor”. Ofcourse sucker that my brother was he believed it and he would sit in front of the TV and drink a bowl full of this dal in which my mom would mix pieces of Chapatis laden with Ghee, so her “He-Man” would grow up to be a tall and strong boy.

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This “He – Man dal”  is really a ” Punj Rattani Dal or a 5 Gems Dal”. It is a delicious concoction of 5 tasty and super healthy Dals which my brother slurped up with joy. The gems or rattan in this case are – Moong, Urad, Chana, Masoor and Toor dal.

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This Dal can be eaten with Chapatis, Rice, as a soup with some crusty Bread and the left over Dal can be used to knead flour to make healthy chapatis. The Yogurt in this Dal gives it a tangy flavor and makes it super tasty.

Even though the fussy eater is now 6.2 in height and can eat enough for 3 people everytime he comes home on holiday my doting mom makes it for him. Here is the recipe for you to try.

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Recipe – (Cooking time 40 – 45 minutes, serves 4-6 )

7 tsp (30 grams) Toor dal (Pigeon Peas)

7 tsp (30 grams) Yellow Moong Dal (Moong Beans)

7 tsp (30 grams) Masoor Dal (Red Lentils)

7 tsp (30 grams) Chana Dal (Yellow Gram)

7 tsp (30 grams) Urad Dal (White Lentil)

1 large Onion finely Chopped

2 tsp Ghee

Salt to taste

1 tsp Cumin seeds

1 1/2 tsp Red Chili powder

1 tsp Coriander powder

1 tsp Turmeric powder

For the Tempering

1 large Tomato finely chopped

1 tsp Fennel seeds

1 tsp Garam masala powder

1 tsp Cumin powder

1/4 cup Yogurt  whisked (at room temperature)

1 tbsp Butter

Freshly chopped Coriander and 2 – 3 Green chilies (slit) to garnish.

1) Clean and wash all the Dals together and let them soak in water for atleast 15 minutes. Heat a deep bottomed pan or a pressure cooker add Ghee and the Cumin seeds.

2) Once they start to splutter add the chopped Onions and saute till translucent.

3) Drain all the water from the Dal and add it to the pan, sauteing for 5 minutes. Add Salt to taste and 3 -4 cups Water and let it cook. If using Pressure cooker let it cook for 6 whistles. Turn the heat off and let the steam off before opening the lid of the cooker.

4) Put the Dal back on a low heat (without the pressure cookers lid) and remove the scum from the top. Add the Red Chili powder, Turmeric, Coriander powder and mix well.

5)For the tempering in another pan heat the Butter and add the Fennel seeds. Once they start to splutter add the chopped Tomatoes and let them cook till the Butter starts to separate. Add the Cumin, Garam masala and the yogurt, cooking for 1 -2 minutes before adding the tempering the Dal.

6) Cook the Dal on a low flame for 7 – 10 minutes before removing it from the heat.

7) Check for seasoning and serve hot with chopped Coriander and slit Green chilies.

“Recipe source  – Prashad, cooking with Indian masters by JKalra”.

The fake omelette tales – Besan ka chila (Gram flour Pancake with vegetables)

We all have seen or some of us have been in doomed relationships that we know are never going to succeed. One where you hurt each other and cause pain  but you also know that living without one another is not an option.

Eggs and I are in that relationship. We love to hate each other but cooking without Eggs is almost impossible, especially Baking. I have an allergy to Eggs which cannot be explained. I cannot eat them when they are scrambled, poached, boiled, baked in a quiche, Mayonnaise or custard. Strangely I can eat Eggs baked in a Cake or a Pudding.

Obviously a lot of times people think that I am just making excuses not to eat Eggs or I dislike them and I have tortured myself several times by trying to eat Eggs cooked in different ways and have suffered from the worst form of pain that can be imagined.

But no matter how much pain they cause me, I love Eggs. Everytime I see someone happily tucking into this versatile beauty I feel a tad bit jealous that I cannot enjoy them. To compensate for this loss in my life I make a fake egg omelette for myself, which is actually a “Gram flour Pancake with lots of vegetables” or “Besan ka Chila” as it is popularly know. So when I make an omelette for “D”, I make a fake omelette for me.

Mind you it does not taste like Eggs but albeit looks like an Egg omelette which is somehow comforting for my silly heart that refuses to stop loving Eggs. Just like the Protein packed Eggs this pancake is filled with goodness of lots of vegetables and is an extremely good breakfast option.

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The yogurt gives the batter a lovely tangy flavor and the Semolina gives a crunch to the otherwise soft flour. It also ensures that the pancakes hold their shape when you are cooking them.

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I love to use various vegetables in it like Carrots, Zucchini, Sprouted Moong Beans along with Onions and Tomatoes to make it more filling.

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Using the masalas ensures that the taste of the pancakes are lifted to another level. I also cook the pancakes on a non stick pan so I use less Oil and don’t feel guilty.

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You can serve the pan cakes with some  Bread (home made in my case) and Tomato sauce. Alternatively they can be used in Wraps or Chapatis.

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Recipe (Preparation time 10 – 15 minutes, cooking time 5 – 7 minute per pancake, makes 8)

2 cups Gram flour (Besan)

1/2 cup Semolina (Rava/sooji)

3/4 cup Yogurt

1 medium sized Onion finely chopped

1 1/2 Tomatoes finely chopped

1 – 2 Green chilies finely chopped

Salt to taste

1 tsp Red chili powder

1 tsp Tumeric powder

1 tsp Amchur powder (Dry mango powder)

Salt to taste

Vegetable Oil to drizzle on the pan

1/2 cup of any vegetables you would like to add (Grated Carrots, Grated Zucchini, boiled Green moong beans ) – These are optional but the taste of the pan cakes will get better with the vegetables.

Freshly chopped Green coriander

Steps 

1) Mix the Gram flour, Semolina and Yogurt vigorously together to ensure there are no lumps at all.

2) Now add little water to ensure it forms a smooth runny paste that is not too thin or too thick.

3) Add the masalas and the chopped vegetables and mix well.

4) Heat a non stick pan on a medium flame and using a ladle make  medium sized pancakes with the batter. Keep in mind that the batter is not too thin or it will burn quickly and crumble when you turn it. Neither should the batter be too thick or it will not cook.

5) You will know that the pancake is cooking when you will see bubbles appear on top and the batter smoothness out on the top.

6) Drizzle a little oil on all sides and then flip the pancake around cooking for a few more minutes. One side of the pancake would  be darker and crisper then the other.

7) Serve hot and enjoy.

I love my Dals – Chatpati Moong Dal (Green Gram cooked in a tangy gravy)

It is a myth that Indian food is fatty and not very healthy. Most Indians grow up eating a very healthy and satisfying diet of Legumes, Pulses and Vegetables  laden with Proteins, Vitamins and essential Minerals which are so important for a healthy body.

I don’t remember eating any Multi-vitamin capsules when we were growing up. The food we ate provided us with sufficient nourishment.

When I first moved to Australia my diet changed and I fell terribly sick. The doctor I saw explained how the changes in my diet had affected my body and the loss of Fiber from my diet was making me sick. So when I set up my home and settled down I ensured that our diet consisted of the food that we ate regularly back home and my health improved considerably.

Dal (Pulses) and vegetables are a part of our daily food routine and a dal that is often cooked in my house is the “Green Moong dal (Green Gram)”. It is cooked in different ways depending on the region and culture. This amazing dal is full of Protein and helps in losing weight. It also has Vitamin A, B, C, E and minerals, such as calcium, iron and potassium. So I make it often to ensure we are eating right.

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Green Gram is cooked in its whole form (Sabut Moong) or the unshelled ones which is what  I cooked this time. Like everything I cook, it is ready under 30 minutes with minimal fuss and has a delicious soft and silky texture when done. The dry Mango powder gives it a nice kick and the Ghee just elevates the taste.

The best thing about this dal is that you can use any left overs to knead your Chapatti/Roti dough and make delicious Chapattis/Rotis that can be served with a dry Potato sabzi. This dal will be a good vegetarian option for your dinner/lunch parties as well, just serve it with a dollop of Butter and you will have your guests making all the right noises.

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Recipe (Cooking time 30 minutes, Serves 6 – 8)

1 cup Moong Dal (I used the unshelled variety and used a Coffee Cup for measurement)

2 medium sized Tomatoes finely chopped

5- 6 Garlic cloves finely chopped

1 tsp Cumin Seeds

1 ½ tsp Turmeric powder

1 tsp Red Chilli powder

1 ½ tsp Dry Mango powder (Aamchur)

1 Tbsp Ghee or Butter

1 tsp Asafoetida (Heeng powder)

4 – 5 Green Chilies Slit

Freshly chopped Coriander.

Salt to taste

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Wash the dal under running water, now add 3 Coffee cups of water to the dal, Salt, Turmeric powder and chopped Tomatoes in a pressure cooker and cook for 9 – 10 whistles around 20 minutes.

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Once the dal is cooked and you open the pressure cooker you will notice the Tomatoes have almost melted away and there is a slushy mixture in the cooker.

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Heat Ghee in a pan add the cumin seeds, Garlic, Green chilies  and Asafoetida and cook on a medium flame till the Garlic starts turning Brown (you can actually smell it). Add the Red chill powder and cook for a few seconds. Add this tempering to the dal. Bring the dal to a boil and turn off the heat. Add the Dry Mango powder and the Coriander before you serve.Image

Serve the Dal with some hot steamed Rice or Rotis.

Tackling the Brown Rice Phobia with the Brown Rice and Methi (Fenugreek) Pulao

Honestly speaking Brown Rice scares me a lot. I have eaten it a few times and enjoyed it but then when it comes to cooking it, I am just lost.

Not that I am not adventurous for I have tried tackling this demon a few times now. But every time I have been really disappointed. Sometimes I got a Brown Rice slush and the other times some undercooked mess. “D” refuses to touch it because according to him it is not rice.

I am desperate to get on a healthy diet and I had to rope him in too else I would be spending my entire life cooking White rice for him and Brown rice for me. So I had to convert him that Brown rice was the way to go ahead.

It is a healthier version of Rice without the guilt. The reason brown rice has many more nutrients than regular white rice is due to the fact that brown rice has only the outer layer, called the hull, removed while white rice has been refined for convenience with several layers—therefore nutrients, removed.

The fiber in brown rice produces the best health benefit of all; fat burning. In addition to requiring more of your body to break it down, the fiber in brown rice helps satisfy your appetite and therefore decreasing your chances of overeating. That is the equation for fat loss; eat less and burn more.

Then a few days ago my blogger friend “Anshie” from Spice Roots, did an amazing post on How to cook Brown rice .That offered some encouragement for me to try it. Another friend “Gauri” from http://runnergirlinthekitchen.blogspot.com.au/ did a post on making Brown Rice Pulao. Now if this was not a sign not sure what was. So I decided to give it a try.

I started cooking plain Brown rice almost every week and got good results. So I thought it was time to use it to make a Pulao. And I decided to use Fenugreek leaves (Methi) which is another power house to make my Pulao nutritious  and healthy.

The resulting dish was healthy and delicious and I did not feel guilty taking a second helping after a long time. One thing to keep in mind here is that Fenugreek has a bitter taste. Adding Lemon juice to the Pulao takes away the Bitterness however if you do not like Fenugreek you can use other Vegetables like Celery, Zucchini and even add Chicken breasts or Prawns to make it into a non vegetarian Pulao.

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Recipe (Cooking time 40 minutes, serves 4)

1 Cup Brown Rice (I used Dawaat brand as they did not require soaking for a long time)

1 1/2 Onion finely chopped

2 Tomatoes finely chopped

1 tbsp Tomato Paste

1 1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder

1 1/2 tsp Chilli powder

Salt to taste

1 tsp Cumin seeds

1 tsp Coriander powder

300 gms Methi (I used dried and frozen methi. If you are using fresh please remove the stalks, clean and wash before you use)

1 tbsp Oil

1 tsp Ginger paste

Juice of 1 Lemon

2 cups Water

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1) Wash and Soak the Rice in 2 cups water and leave it while we get everything else ready which should take around 20 – 25 minutes.

2) Heat oil in the pan and add the Cumin seeds, once they start to splutter add the Ginger paste and chopped Onions and Saute till the Onions are almost translucent.

3) Add the Chopped Tomatoes and saute till the Oil starts to separate.

4) Now add the Fenugreek and mix well. Cover the the pan and let the fenugreek cook on a low flame for around 10 minutes.

5) Add the Salt, Turmeric, Chili and Coriander powder and mix well.

6) Throw away the water in which we soaked the rice and add the rice to the pan coating it with the mixture really well. Let it saute for atleast 5 minutes on a low flame. Keep stirring the pan to ensure the rice does not stick.

7) Now add 2 cups water and let it boil. After the first boil turn the heat down, cover the pan and let it cook till all the water has evaporated.

8) Once the rice is cooked turn off the heat and wait for 10 minutes with the pan covered before you add the Lemon Juice and fluff the rice up.

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9) Serve the rice with some Yogurt raita.

Source : Brown rice nutrition source information