Tag Archives: savoury

Millet, Rice and lentil Khichdi and what comfort means to me

6 Jun

Simple things in life are the ones that give us comfort. Its the simple stuff that really makes life extraordinary.

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To me comfort means several things: ( in no particular order)

1. My favourite Rosemunde Pilcher book  – The Shell seekers that I can read over and over again;

2. Snuggling into my little  one, early in the morning after I put my alarm on snooze;

3. Sleeping in my tattered t shirt that I refuse to throw out even though it is beyond repair;

4. A breakfast of  fried egg and toast

5. My parents’ presence around me that calms me down and gives me strength to focus

6. Flipping through my latest issue of the BBC GoodFood Magazine

7. My husband relating his day’s events to me in the evening over his cup of tea

8. Spotting my friend’s “good morning” message on my phone the first thing in the morning

9. Nibbling on a piece of dark chocolate after lunch

10. Digging into some hot and steaming vegetable khichdi

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Every day there is a  time that I take to zone out and do stuff that puts me in my comfort zone. I cherish that space. I value the reassurance it gives me.

The recipe I share today is of this humble vegetable Khichdi ( savory porridge) in this rushed post. It is more for me to record this recipe for future use.  For long I had been thinking of ways to use some organic millet and Khichdi seemed to be the only plausible way to use it.  I made this one-pot meal which can double up as lunch and dinner. The next day the leftovers can be combined with whole wheat flour to roll out parathas for breakfast. That’s versatile Khichdi for you.

Ingredients

3/4 cup basmati rice

3/4 cup yellow lentils ( yellow moong split)

1 cup millet

Salt as per taste

1 tsp tumeric

1/2 tsp red chilli powder (optional)

2 onions, chopped

1 carrot, medium-sized, chopped

6-7 string beans, chopped

few florets of broccoli

1/4 cup corn

Tempering

2 table spoons of clarified butter

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 inch cinnamon stick, broken into pieces,

3 pieces of cardamom

2 bay leaves

Preparation

1. Soak rice, lentil and millet in water for an hour

2. Heat the ghee in a pressure cooker or a large pan. Splutter the cumin seeds and fry all the tempering ingredients.

3. Add the chopped onions and fry until translucent. To this add all the vegetables and give it a quick stir.

4. To this add the soaked rice, lentil and millet and mix well.

5. Add enough water to cover this rice-vegetable mixture to submerge it completely and a bit more ( 3 cms or so)

6. Pressure cook this until 3 whistles and let it be on the low heat for 7 -8 minutes. If you are cooking this in a pan, let the mixture come to a boil and then let it cook slow and nice for as long as it takes to cook the grains and lentils.

7. Once the pressure is fizzled,  give the khichi a good mix and add water to make it more runny, if you like. Serve it hot with a dollop of ghee on top with pickles and raita.

These days, I desperately seek my comfort pockets. I sit there and try to be thoughtless. With my parents visiting us these days, these comfort pockets are easy to come by. These deeply nourish me like the Khichdi recipe I shared today. Do try it and savour the comfort it will give you.

What does comfort mean to you?

Do you know of other ways to use millet?

A detox diet tale and a very healthy oats uttapam recipe

17 May

I have had many weddings to attend in the past four months. Indian wedding food and the late night extravaganza can wreck the metabolism for a long, long time. By the time, I came back home reeling from the heady glitz of my best friend’s wedding, I could feel my body protesting. A detox was in order. On a separate note, I have been on a good gym schedule with a trainer for more than 6-8 months now and needless to say, I have been feeling fit end very strong. But even such a robust exercise schedule’s effects are nullified by the sullied food and sleep cycle on vacations. To start afresh, I jumped into a 5 -day juice detox plan with the help of my Bahraini friend and colleague. Eva is an expert when it comes to diet, detox, fitness and holistic health. She prepared a stringent 5 -day juice diet with her own ingenious juice recipes.

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Her plan consisted of Green, Red, Purple, Orange juices for five days with varied ingredient combinations under each colour group. On the fourth and the fifth day, she added a meal each rich in proteins and complex carbohydrates for lunch. Since I wasn’t used to anything this intense, I was very apprehensive. But with Eva’s gentle encouragement, I embarked on the diet. Each day I made a mental note of how I was feeling and this post is about these observations and a very healthy oats egg white uttapam that finds it way on my breakfast plate more often than not.

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The funny thing about starting a diet is that, the first thing you do is  to mentally prepare for the ‘deprivation’ from your favourite foods. The previous night, I filled myself with a dinner and ate till I felt my stomach could take no more. Post that I felt extremely guilty which was immediately replaced by a sense of ‘compensation” that for the next five days, I will have little or no solid food.

Day 1 : The morning wasn’t eventful as I was used to only juices and negligible breakfast certain days of the week. But then the realization struck that there would be no lunch – not the one where I would chew and spend time over. It would only be a glass of banana- strawberry smoothie with lemon! I had my smoothie lunch and  it was satisfying to say the least. But the mind is a tricky being and I can go ahead  and say at the risk of sounding silly that- the mind has a mind of its own! By mid – afternoon, I was feeling low – not on energy – but on feelings. Like all my restlessness was put to rest. All my nervous twitching settled down on my face and I felt peaceful. I wanted to be left alone and didn’t feel like talking to anyone. It was one of the best feelings ever. The day passed without any incidents and at night I slept peacefully.

Day 2: The next day, I woke up feeling refreshed and lighter.  I followed the juice diet strictly for the day and I was full of energy. I struggled in a very minor way with not feeling full enough but quickly learnt the tricks of the trade. I felt full when I sipped on my juice slowly and in a relaxed way, rather than gulping it all down in a single shot. Constantly talking to myself that this is not going to my last meal and that I will be providing  my body more nourishing juices the entire day helped a lot. I continued with my regular gym sessions with my trainer during the diet as well to rev-up my metabolism. I found it easier to run as I was breathing better.

Day 3; If you think that all the bodily functions would shut down because you haven’t been eating solid food, then you are in for a surprise! Well I won’t go too much into the details here but definitely say that I hadn’t felt this bloating-free in ages. The third day was a clean sweep and I did not even realize how it passed. Mentally, I was feeling lighter and happier and my cravings had diminished and I was breathing more easily. My trainer noticed I had more energy during my intense circuit training sessions.

Day 4: I had never thought I would look forward to a day so much. I was sleeping so well after a long time. Couple of times I did weigh myself but my weight hadn’t budged. It was a bit demoralizing for a second or two but the happiness of the lightness I was feeling clouded any feelings of sadness or depression. Also, I reminded myself why I was doing this. I was doing this diet to get a boost, free my body of the toxins it had collected over time and extract maximum from my work-out. Once you have certain fundamentals set straight, it becomes quite easy to stay focused. The fourth day had a lunch- meal in it which was a small bowl of mushroom -quinoa and grilled sweet potato. Post my lunch, I felt extremely uncomfortable. The solid food felt like an intruder in my system but soon by evening and after my work out the solid meal intrusion was vanquished.

Day 5: I woke up with a feeling of sadness inside me for I had grown attached to this way of having juices as meals. I wasn’t ready to give up this feeling of being so happy and light. It does drive  home a point that we are what we eat. What we eat /drink creates a deep impact not only on our physical being but also on our mental health. It is a science in itself but at a basic level, it taught  me to be extra careful about how I nourish my body. Like they say, each meal time is an opportunity to nourish your body and post this detox, I have been quite careful about it. The fifth day also included one meal which was lunch. The solid meal felt much at home and I enjoyed every bite of it.

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Notes: This was a detox diet for 5 days which included very specific juice recipes meant for the purpose. 

It was NOT a weight loss diet plan at all.

It is safe to do this diet plan atleast once in six months to boost your sluggish metabolism

My initial thoughts about the diet being very difficult were  unfounded. It is moderately easy to follow this juice plan. 

The difficult part of this diet is the juicing bit. Chopping of vegetables and fruits and then juicing them fresh is advisable. Juicing is tedious and on a work day it seems a bit of a task. 

There are only advantages in exercising while doing this diet. In my personal opinion, I did not feel there was any calorie deficit at all and that is perhaps why I didn’t find it difficult to stick to gym schedule.

I did lose in inches after the diet but nothing on the weighing scale (which wasn’t my concern anyways)

Post the diet, I still juice atleast 3 times in a week.

I have only Eva to thank because she inducted me into this juicing habit which has really altered my way of thinking. I also have to thank my husband who took over the task of juicing every morning.

To end this post, I have a wonderful oats egg-white uttapam recipe to share that I found on Bulbul’s blog. The original recipe does not have egg whites but I added it for a protein boost. Bulbul has some very yummy, tried and tasted healthy recipes to try. Do hop over to her blog to find out more.

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It is very simple to whip up and makes for a very satisfying meal  and guilt -free too. I had this with the green cilantro and mint chutney. But I bet it will taste good with coconut chutney too.

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The recipe is as follows;

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Hope everybody is having a great weekend! Thanks for stopping by.

The Breakfast Post – Poached eggs in baked beans

26 Oct

A few days back I tweeted about my love for breakfasts.

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It indeed is the most important meal for me and that love has been sown and nurtured by my mother who made sure we had amazing home-made breakfast on our table every day. I looked back to my archives and found what little love I have actually shown through my blog posts – very few breakfast recipes that showcase not even an ounce of what this meal of the day means to me.

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So to bring that a balance back I thought I really need to put out some breakfast dishes that are not only easy to put together but also sumptuous. Most of the times, you will notice that eggs feature prominently. That is because I LOVE EGGS. I find that they are filling, tasty and oh-so versatile to use.

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This egg recipe is the easiest of them all and can be whipped up in no time. I didn’t bother with making the baked beans from the scratch. Breakfast preparation is a hurried affair and there’s only time to flip open a can and pour the contents out on certain days. Not the method I usually prefer but at times I do pick convenience over ideology [ about eating healthy, less sugar, less salt, less processed food and all that]
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It also struck me that I want as many breakfast recipes I can lay my hands on. Especially the tried and the tested ones. So I call out to all the foodies and breakfast lovers to share their recipes either as  a guest post on my blog or on your own  blog with a link back or simply a recipe or even a photograph depicting why they love breakfast and what breakfast means to them.

Come join the BREAKFAST BANTER AT SLICE OF MY LYFE

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Grab a badge and tell me all your breakfast stories which may be laced with memories old and new. How a certain kind of breakfast brings out the best in you for the rest of the day.  Hope to hear from all the breakfast lovers soon. You can email me your recipes  and pictures at dazzler29 [at] gmail [dot] com

Now back to the recipe.

This baked beans can be made as spicy or as sweet as you want it to be.  With crisp brown toast they are a match made in heaven.

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CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO VIEW THE RECIPE BETTER

In other news, I am on Instagram now and you can follow me at sliceofmylyfe. I am a late entrant no doubt but I am quite enjoying keeping in touch with all the other lovers of life in pictures. This late entry gives me the opportunity of going back to my older posts and life and enjoy those pictures once again. I hope you do too!

Here’s a sample!

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Nutella & Peanut Butter Palmiers for Me and You

23 May

Do you fancy something sweet? Then do you crave for something salty? Sweet again? Salty?

That is the kind of craving I go through certain days of the week.  For starters, I begin with something  like an apple or pear and then reach for some salted peanuts. Then I have a handful of raisins and then some salad with good drizzle of tangy dressing and so on.  This irritates my hubby no end. He would beg and plead to me to have a proper meal so that I don’t go yo-yo-ing on my diet like that.  Regardless, I carry on.

Peanut Butter for my better half and Nutella for me

My hubby on the other hand, is very disciplined about his food habits. He eats a set portion of food every day and at a set time. He prefers eating home cooked meals over having to eat out. He is not a fan of fried stuff or anything that is synthetic tasting or remotely snack-able.

He is a night person and I, the early morning sort.

He has a fantastic sense of direction and I find it difficult to find my way around the locality wherein I have lived for years.

He is a skeptic and I am a believer.

He adapts and I resist.

He is water and I am earth.

I love nutella and he peanut butter.

I hate peanut butter and he hates nutella.

That is why we are made for each other.

That is why I made these Nutella and Peanut butter Palmiers

 

 

 

 

Of Routines & Breakfasts (with Poha)

19 Mar

In my previous post, where in the list of 7 things, I mentioned I am a stickler for routines. It may come as a surprise even to people who have known me  for years.But without a pattern to my daily life, I am a goner. I look for reassurance that a daily routine lends to my life. The simple idea wherein, certain activities  have to be performed at a certain time, every single day, provides the much-needed succor in the otherwise chaotic events that life constantly presents. Certain days are shakier than others and to come out alive and unscathed to the solid ground that a routine provides is something I do not take for granted. Every single day requires that we think and process information and take tough decisions and it is only a routine that lets the brain go passive and lets it relax by making us function involuntarily.

From getting up everyday at 5 45 am till the time I hit the bed at 10 30 pm or 11 pm, I feel secure with the idea that most things wouldn’t change no matter what new circumstances present themselves without a prior warning. Having said that, it is a given that I do not adjust to change easily. Probably it has also to do with the fact that I am a taurus who tend to resist change with all that they can. I have never been good at change and usually take a horrible amount of effort  and time to not spin out of control.

Funnily if you meet me I may come across as the spur of the moment kind of person but at a much primitive level, my need to adhere to a routine is way stronger. I pretend to enjoy spontaneity most of the times but my poor brain at that time is dealing with an emergency short-circuit. Marrying a man who is also routine-oriented, made my life a lot easier.

Before Mimi was born, I had a set pattern to very single day which largely meant going to work and having a fitness routine in place. Weekends were meant for the spontaneous stuff that didn’t make me the boring figure that I have already succeeded in establishing myself as in the first few paragraphs of this post. I went dancing, took dancing classes, met friends, made short trips, watched movies and did things that didn’t mirror my weekdays. When Mimi arrived, inspite of all the mental notes and preparations, my life took a 180 degree flip and routines were sent flying out of the window. I grappled, coaxed, pepped talked myself and even after 2 years of being a stay at home mum, I didn’t have a routine in place. I just couldn’t manage. At all times, I felt like a failure. Now with my job, a new routine has been staring at me, claws and fangs baring. The past week has been chaotic but some semblance of what seems like a routine that may last seems to be taking shape. I know I will have to work towards getting the details in place and every day is going to be a step towards that.

Ironically, I know the blog speaks about something completely different but consider that as a testimony of my futile attempts to steady my routine- less life the past 2 and a half years. But a few things still didn’t change and that were my breakfast habits. Poha which is flattened rice is one of my family’s favourite breakfast options. Without fail, poha turns up on our breakfast table atleast twice a week. Embellished or unadorned, this makes for a tasty and filling breakfast. During my recent trip to India, I happened to eat a divine version of this humble dish and swore to recreate the magic during one of our Poha breakfast days.

Poha, in my honest opinion, does require a certain level of skill. My initial attempts at it ended in large mass of yellow lumps. Finally after practicing for a few months, I started to get it right. Now it seems like I can do it with my eyes closed. The base recipe remains the same but it can be garnished with anything that you please.  I made 3 different versions with different garnishes such as peanuts, pomegranate, sev, boondi and cheese.

Recipe for Poha

Ingredients

Poha – 2 and half cups ( use the thicker variety as the thinner versions tend to disintegrate)

Red onions – 3 medium-sized or 2 large ( we love a lot of onions in our poha)

Peanuts ,skinned and boiled – a handful

Turmeric – 1/2 a tsp

salt to taste

green chillies, chopped  – 1 or 2 ( optional. I didn’t use any)

Sugar – 1 tsp

Oil – 3 tbsp

cumin seeds – 2 tsp

fresh coriander for garnish

Lemon juice – a few tbsp

pomegranate – for garnish

boondi, sev, scrape some cheese – as per your preference.

Preparation

1. Wash and chop onions finely and keep aside

2. In a kadhaai/ wok heat some oil and brown cumin seeds.

3. Add the onions and let them turn translucent.

4. Meanwhile while the onions are cooking, wash the poha on a sieve under a tap. Squeeze out water as carefully as you can. You want only an optimum amount of water to be absorbed by poha otherwise it will reduce into a lump when you start cooking.

5. Once the onions have cooked, add turmeric, salt, sugar, peanuts and let it be for a few seconds before you add the washed poha.

6. Mix it up well. Poha doesn’t really need any cooking so once all of this is thoroughly mixed you can just take it off the heat and garnish it with fresh chopped coriander and others of your choice.

7.  Add lemon juice and mix well.

8. Serve hot with chai.

The other options that can be added to make poha as varied as possible are chopped, boiled potatoes, peas , carrots etc.

Even on days when every bit of my life is off track, making and serving poha tells me all is not lost. It reminds me that my routine however a little skewed, exists. Breakfast fads may come and go but good old poha always stays in my list of meals for all seasons.

Bagels for Fresh From the Oven – February Challenge

27 Feb

It is Bagels this month for Fresh From the Oven – the incredible bread baking community. This month’s challenge was hosted by Claire of Purely Food. I couldn’t let this opportunity pass. Bagels are my absolute favourite but I keep away from them because it invariably means I will have to slather it with plenty of cream cheese and then chomp-chomp it down with some hot coffee. It is my ideal breakfast, after eggs on toast. Okay, bagels fight for a second position with Granola, fruit and yogurt in my list of favourite breakfasts.

The first time I sampled bagels was in London and it was a close friend who bought my first bagel-cream cheese breakfast for me. From then on I was hooked. I ran an extra mile just so that I could have a bagel with cream cheese. It was like I had found manna. The only other time I felt like that was when I discovered Hummus. Love that thing!

I had a favourite coffee shop in Cambridge ( I was there in 2006 for a company project) and they had the most amazing bagels. I would have them just fresh out of the oven. The cafe owner told me that bagels taste better 5-6 hours after they have been brought out of the oven. I thought, fresh out of the oven they tasted nothing short of divine. The other tiny tidbids he shared with me were – Bagels taste the best when toasted and they have to be golden brown all over to taste the best. If the bagels are  blondish in colour it means they haven’t made the ‘great bagel mark’. I remember all that so well. It didn’t mean much to me as my only concern was how much cream cheese was I getting in my bagel. I guess he must have noticed that my liking for bagels was bordering on obsession and thought I might be interested in such trivia.

Bringing my batch of freshly baked bagels out of my gas -fired oven made me dizzy with nostalgia. They didn’t wear a golden brown that the cafe owner would have approved of but I knew that once toasted they would gain a beautiful colour. I am so happy that Fresh from the Oven made this possible and sent me down a wonderful memory lane.

Recipe for Bagels

Makes 7 

Ingredients

Strong white flour -450g
Fast acting yeast -7g
Salt -2 tsp
Warm water -250ml
Honey -2 tbsp
Vegetable oil -1 tbsp
Egg, beaten – 1
Your choice of topping – I used roasted pumpkin seeds, sesame – black and white, caraway seeds

Preparation

1. In a large bowl add the salt to the flour and then the yeast (I usually put the yeast in a small well in the centre to keep it a way from the salt).

2. Measure the warm water and then stir in the oil and honey.

3. If kneading by hand, make a well in the centre of the flour and pour the liquid in gradually, bringing the dough together with your hands. Turn the dough on to a clean, dry and floured work surface. Start kneading the dough by stretching it away with the palm of one hand and folding it back again with the other. Knead the dough for 10 minutes. You may need to add more flour as you go if the dough is too sticky.

4. Place the dough in a lightly oiled large bowl and turn to coat in the oil. Cover with cling film or a plastic bag to create a draught-free environment and put in a warm place (not hot) for between 1-3 hours or until doubled in size.

5. Lightly oil two baking trays.

6. Remove the dough from the bowl, punch it down to knock the air out and knead briefly.

7. Roll in to a sausage shape and divide into 7 chunks. As you work one, keep the others covered with a clean tea towel.

8. There are two ways to shape the bagels. One is to firmly roll out each chunk in to a long sausage shape, then form a ring and seal the ends together with a tiny splash of water and squeezing. The other method (my prefered method) is to roll each chunk into a ball. Piercing a hole in the centre with your finger, pull the dough open wide by twirling it round your index fingers (wider than you think you need as the hole will shrink when the dough proves, is poached and then baked).Place on the prepared baking tray and repeat with remaining dough.

9. Cover and allow to rise for a further 10-20 minutes.

10. Preheat the oven to 220C  (200C fan), gas 7. Fill a large sauce pan with boiling water (from the kettle) and return to a simmer. Gently lift each bagel into the water to poach (do not try to put too many bagels in at once as they will expand slightly). Poach for about 90 seconds on each side, turning gently with a slotted spoon.

11. Remove the bagels from the water, allowing them to drain first and place on the prepared baking trays spacing them about 3-4cm apart.

12. Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with your choice of topping. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, then turn upside down for a further 10 minutes to cook the bases. Cool on a wire rack.

The recipe instructions were so easy to follow and I felt no need to refer to any other source for further explanation. The largest chunk of time went in poaching the bagels. I have to admit I was pretty bored by the time I was on my 3rd bagel. Rest of the steps take no time at all.

Toasted, these bagels were an instant hit with my daughter, my hubby and my friends. With cream cheese they were already addicted. I have only 3  left and I baked them last night.  I know I will be baking these again for sure.

A Guest Post for Gayathri Ramdas – Taking Sides with a Couscous Side

26 Feb

Today I have been given this wonderful opportunity to write a Guest Post ( a rare honour as far as I am concerned) for my friend Gayathri. I have known Gayathri for some time now and we are constantly in touch over Facebook and bbm. During one such random conversations she asked me to do guest post for her blog.  I love visiting her blog because her posts not only talk about the wonderful food that she makes for her family,  but also about the latest trends in music, books and life as such. She always makes sure that there is a conversation going on rather than a monologue.

In this post I talk about how a brief meeting with Gayathri made such a huge impact on my confidence and how her sweet words will always resonate whenever I feel under valued in life.

Today’s guest post for Gayathri also features a very tempting, flavoursome Couscous side which is so easy to put together. I found this recipe from the BBC GoodFood Magazine that I am so hopelessly addicted to. To read the rest of the entry hop on to Gayathri’s blog .

 

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