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Monday, March 25, 2013

Peas Pulao & a Product Review of Star Saver Tibar Basmati Rice & Star Cow Ghee

I realise that as and how my little ones are growing up I seem to have lesser time for myself - more so for the blog. I just don't seem to find the time & inclination to sit at the computer anymore, well, at least not for more than a few minutes at a time which is hardly good enough to write a detailed post. However, write I must, for my own sanity which is hard to come by when kids are young. Doing their chores and picking up after them falls entirely - wholly and squarely on your shoulders. Just when the day is over and I get a breather & time to unwind I wonder what has hit me. Its been two weeks since my mum arrived and boy, is that a blessing! The two of us have not had a chance to sit and sip a quiet cup of tea (I don't imply that my cup of tea is noisy at the moment, but you get the drift, don't you?) as the day just flies past us and before we know it, its time to say goodnight & recharge our batteries for the next day.


 In the midst of it all a real welcome change was a product review - a request sent to me by Sabina Lama on behalf of her client - Star Bazar, a Tata Enterprise, who wanted to know if I was interested in reviewing one of the several in-house food products that were recently launched. I welcomed this opportunity as it would give me a chance to escape from the mundane and try out new products and give my opinion on how I liked them. I decided to prepare something simple out of the two products that I chose to review ~ Star Saver Tibar Basmati Rice and Star Cow Ghee. This way I would be able to enjoy both the products in the same dish. No prizes for guessing what I decided to prepare. Yes! a pulao! 



I have spoken high & low about my love and deep passion for all things rice, haven't I? To me basmati rice is  the go to comfort food as far as aromatic rice varieties are concerned. Three simple reasons why this is so. One, if you know the quality of your rice, you can never fail at how to cook it. Stick to the same variety/quality/brand and you have a winner on your hands - no matter what you cook, the results are almost 100% the same everytime. Two, if you know the trick of cooking it in the pressure cooker - using an accurate amount of water you can prepare a dish in half the time. Three, it is so very versatile that you can prepare anything ranging from a breakfast dish to a main course - any recipe that calls for raw rice can easily make use of the basmati if you have run out of your regular raw rice. Better the quality, better your meal experience. From a simple steamed rice to a rich and lavish biryani, the basmati caters to every need. 

Star Saver Tibar Basmati Rice is a long grain rice of superior quality that is sourced from Punjab & Haryana. Since basmati rice is considered to be more healthy than its other raw rice counterparts special care is taken to process it using state-of-the-art technology that retains its nutritive value. It is GMO (Genetically Modify) free and has a delectable aroma and maintains a good length of the grain after cooking - important features of good quality basmati.



Well, when I prepare pulaos and biryanis I use generous amounts of ghee - clarified butter as it is called has a host of health benefits and is so aromatic that it simply lifts my mood - no matter how low I feel, a whiff of pure ghee that is being warmed up can do wonders to my mood and general well being. The sad part is that in the recent years Ghee has been made to look like a villain and people shun it as if it is the sole reason of bad health. However, it has so many medicinal, cosmetic and health benefits that it truly needs to be the star of your kitchen. It is one of the most healthy and beneficial by-products of milk and is excellent for brain development in kids. Pregnant & lactating women, the elderly and generally people of all ages stand to benefit from it. Unless you have been diagnosed with high cholesterol and have been strictly advised to avoid saturated fats, there is no reason why ghee should be avoided - ghee can only benefit you.

Star Cow Ghee is an aromatic ghee that suits Indian cooking so beautifully. It is made with 100% fresh cow's milk and is rich in vitamin A and beta carotene. It has a granular texture with a fresh & authentic taste & aroma and is hygienically packed in a modern dairy plant. This ghee of superior quality is reasonably priced and is available in packs of 500ml and 1 litre respectively.



My verdict:
In order to review Star Saver Tibar Basmati Rice, I selected a very simple recipe that did not use a rich masala or ingredients that would possibly mask the flavour and aroma of the rice. I wanted to try out something simple that helped the basmati stand out and be the 'star' in the real sense. The pulao did just that. The addition of the peas did not hinder the actual flavour of the rice in anyway. The aroma of the rice personified by the ghee was really nice and filled up my home. The grains truly fluffed up without sticking to each other and imparted a beautiful aroma to the dish. This rice is reasonably priced and hence will be part of my grocery list from now on. Star Saver Tibar Basmati Rice & Star Cow Ghee are available at all Star Bazar outlets across India.

Peas Pulao
Prep time: 20 mins | Cook time: 25 mins | Serves 3-4

You Need
  • 1-1/2 cups long grain basmati rice
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup fresh peas shelled
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 4 green cardamoms, bruised
  • 5 peppercorns
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 1" stick cassia bark or cinnamon
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 medium sized onion chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ginger & garlic paste
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
  • salt to taste (approx 1-1/4 teaspoons)
  • 2 tablespoons ghee
Method:
1. Rinse the rice in a couple of changes of water and soak it for 20 mins.
2. Heat ghee in a large deep pan and toss in cassia bark/cinnamon, cloves, green cardamoms, peppercorns and bay leaf and let them sizzle for a couple of seconds. Add the cumin seeds and reduce the flame to ensure that they don't get burnt.
3. Toss in the ginger & garlic paste and let it fry lightly for about 10 seconds and then add the chopped onions and fry till they turn pale golden. Meanwhile in another pan bring the 3 cups of water to a boil and keep it ready.
4. Add the peas to the fried onions and fry for about a minute and then add the rice and fry on a slow flame for about 3-4 minutes or till the rice begins to feel heavy while stirring - this is a good sign that it is time to add the water. If you continue to stir the rice beyond this point it will begin to break
5. Add the freshly boiled water to the rice, salt to taste, sugar & lime juice and do a quick taste check. The mixture should taste sweet-salty and mildly sour in order to impart the right amount of flavour to the rice. Adjust the flavour if required. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil (let it bubble well), then reduce the flame completely to a sim.
6. Cover the mouth of the pan with a tightly fitting lid - ensure that no steam is able to escape. You may even cover it with aluminium foil & then place the lid over it and a weight (a heavy mortar & pestle will do). Let the rice cook for 14 minutes on this very slow flame (see notes). Don't forget to keep a timer!
7. On completion of  14 minutes, turn off the flame and let it sit for 2 minutes. Open the pan and gently fluff the grains with a fork and cover & keep for another 5 minutes.
8. Serve hot with raita or a veg or non veg dish of your choice or eat it plain!

Notes:
1. The cooking time of the rice greatly depends on the quality & quantity used. If you are using a superior quality of rice, it will take more or less 12-15 minutes to fluff up well (when cooked in a pan). Pressure cooking will greatly reduce the time taken to cook the rice.

Disclaimer: This is not a paid review. I have expressed my own personal views based on my experience of sampling the products sent by Star Bazar, Andheri, Mumbai. 


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Chow Chow Bhath ~ Karnataka Style Sweet & Savoury Semolina ~ Breakfast Combo

It's been a while since I posted a breakfast recipe. Since I love repeating myself, let me do it once again - I LOVE a hearty breakfast! I am such a breakfast person that I totally look forward to the most important meal of the day. A good breakfast not only helps me jump start the day, it also provides a big boost to my energy levels. Thanks to the blog I've had the great fortune of exploring cuisines and I am always on the look out for good recipes. However, if you ask me, I am always happy & contented with our typical South Indian breakfast options - there are loads of them although broadly categorized under idlis, dosas & upmas. There are a myriad ways in which you can fix your daily breakfast even if you are just making an idli or a dosa. Not to forget the humble upma which is often not the preferred breakfast option for many - but it is prepared at least once in ten days at my place. The sheera is a much loved sweet dish that Roshan loves having once a while - loaded with ghee, raisins and nuts, his favourite is the one which includes a few chunks of fresh pineapple. Now what if both these breakfast items are served to you on a platter? Call it the chow chow bhath!

(Above Pic: Khara Bhath with veggies)

Chow chow bhath is popularly found on breakfast menus across restaurants in Karnataka except Mangalore (it wasn't on the menu cards the last time I checked). A lot of these small pure veg hotels in Bangalore serve it - I haven't been to other places in Karnataka. My first tryst with this amazing breakfast combo was when I was working in Bangalore (I refuse to call it Bengaluru!) a decade ago and I remember digging into a nice plate of savoury khara bhath with its faithful friend on the side - the kesari bhath.

(Above Pic: Khara Bhath without veggies)

Khara bhath is nothing but savoury semolina or upma, uppittu or sajjige - call it what you like. Kesari bhath popularly known as sheera or rawa halwa is this beautifully smooth blob of bright yellow semolina drenched in aromatic ghee and so delicious that it just melts in your mouth. I am sure that those of you who have lived/live in Bangalore have at least had the good fortune of tasting it at least once. What??? Never tasted it? Are you kidding me?? Go and have a plateful of it at Shiv Sagar or any of these little pure veg restaurants that serve some. If that's not possible, just make some this weekend. The recipe's right here for you. I say weekend because, let's face it - making two different items is going to take you some time and its best done in a leisurely manner. This dish deserves patience and appreciation. It needs respect!


About this dish
A lovely breakfast combo of sweet & savoury semolina. Each balancing the other so well - takes your taste buds to experience flavours and aromas on a different level. It is however a bit of extra work as you need to make two items and serve them as a combo, however, trust me, it's worth it. The sheera/kesari bhath is typically made with loads of pure ghee - so much that it oozes out of it and hence it is usually served on a banana leaf which can be discarded after the meal is finished and one can do away with scrubbing greasy dishes. However, if you are health conscious do adjust the amount of ghee and sugar to suit your taste buds. 

Chow Chow Bhath
Kesari Baath (Sheera / Rawa Kesari / Sooji Halwa)
You Need:
  • 1 cup fine semolina/rawa (Bombay sooji)
  • 1/2 cup ghee *see note#1
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar *see note#2
  • 3 cups water or milk (or use half of each)
  • 25 grams cashew nuts
  • 25 grams raisins
  • 1/3 cup fresh pineapple pieces (optional)
  • 2-3 drops of yellow food colouring or a few strands of saffron dissolved in 2 tbsp milk * see note#3
Method:
Heat ghee in a large kadai and on a medium low flame lightly fry the cashew nuts till light golden, add the raisins till they just plump up. Remove immediately (before they burn) and set aside.
2. To the same pan add the semolina and roast on a medium low heat for about 4-5 minutes. While the semolina is roasting bring the water (and/or) milk to a boil and add it to the semolina. Add the saffron milk or food colouring dissolved in milk. Be careful as the hot bubbling mixture will splutter - so keep your face at a safe distance.
3. Add the sugar and mix well. Continue stirring until the mixture comes together like a ball (ghee begins to leave from it). Add the roasted raisins and cashew nuts and pineapple pieces if using. Cover the pan and cook on a low flame for about 2 minutes. Turn off the flame and keep the pan covered till ready to serve.
4. Serve hot!

Notes
1. You may increase the ghee to upto 1 cup for a really greasy, heavy duty yet delicious sheera.
2. You can reduce the ghee to 1-1/2 cups of sugar in case you won't be preparing the upma to go along with it
3. Use saffron instead of food colouring for a lighter hue of yellow - it is far more healthy than using artificial colouring especially if you are serving the dish to kids.

Khara Baath (Upma/Uppittu/Sajjige)

You Need:
  • 1 cup thick semolina (coarse rawa / lapsi of medium thickness)
  • 3 cups water (use less water if you are using fine semolina/Bombay sooji  * see note#1
  • 2-3 tablespoons oil 
  • 1-2 small green chillies slit (adjust to taste)
  • 1 inch ginger finely chopped
  • 1 sprig curry leaves (kadipatta)
  • 1/4 teaspoon mustard
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 2 tablespoons grated coconut (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons grated carrots (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon frozen green peas (optional) * see note#2
  • 2-3 drops of lime juice
  • Salt to taste
Method:
1. Heat oil in a large kadhai/ heavy bottomed pan and add the mustard. Once they splutter add the green chillies, onions and curry leaves and fry till the onions turn pale (pinkish). While the onions are frying boil the water in another pan.
2. Add the semolina to the fried onions and fry for a couple of minutes. Add the boiling water and salt to taste (approx 3/4th level teaspoon) and mix. Be careful as the hot bubbling mixture will splutter - so keep your face at a safe distance.
3. Cover the pan and let it cook on a low flame for about 2 minutes. Add the coconut, carrots & peas (if using) and cover till cooked. Sprinkle the lime juice and stir once just before turning off the flame.
4. Serve hot.

Notes:
1. The usual semolina to water ratio is 1:2 (1 cup semolina needs 2 cups of water) - however, to make it really smooth and mushy you need to add an extra cup as we are using a thicker variety of semolina here.
2. If you are using fresh peas, make sure you blanch them in advance before adding it to the rawa  in order to cook fast. I use store bought frozen peas which are pre-cooked.



Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Palak Methi Murgh (Spinach & Fenugreek Chicken) ~ Simple, Nutritious & Delicious!


The last week has seen a lot of activity in my house. The maid quit, the kids fell sick and it pretty much feels like a hurricane hit us. However, we have coped up really well and got a much needed break today after a few days of madness. What really helped was that we quickly planned meals for the week and split up chores between the two of us - trust me, planning ahead really saves time & sanity - it also helps us eat better and shop economically, make use of existing stock of ingredients and net net, save bucks. 

Since we have planned one day of the week for any kind of preparation that calls for chicken - whole, boneless, minced - I decided to make use of the leafy greens sitting in my fridge for the past one week. Almost once in two weeks we have nutritious parathas for breakfast and buying a whole bunch of spinach when only a few leaves are required leads to the rest of it waiting for a good enough recipe. I had also made methi chicken sometime last week so another bunch of methi leaves were staring back at me. Today I decided to put both these beauties to good use and marry them off to the chicken. 


Anyway, I had planned to make chicken today but without a real recipe - a pinch of this and a smidgen of that later I was rewarded with a real good chicken curry - delicious, healthy and very simple to make. The husband gave me a thumbs up and I was happy that the generally fussy eater aged 5 gobbled up some too without a fuss. The best part was that I made good use of the leafy greens. 

I am only sad that I didn't get enough good pictures - the dish is far more superior than the pictures I managed to grab today. I may just click a few more next time cuz I am certainly making this dish over & over again. 


About this dish
This is an easy to prepare dish that tastes very good if you like eating leafy greens. Spinach is a wonderful source of vitamin A, potassium, magnesium, iron & folate - beneficial for pregnant women. Methi (fenugreek) is a wonder herb - great for reducing diabetes & cholesterol and with a host of other health benefits such as preventing hair loss, aiding digestion and a million other things 
This dish can be your perfect weekday meal option - to be eaten with chapathis - tastes really yum! So what are you waiting for? Go get some green in your diet!

Palak Methi Murgh
Prep time: 20 mins | Cook time: 25 mins | Serves 4

You Need

  • 1 kg chicken
  • 2 large onions finely chopped
  • 1 or 2 green chillies slit
  • 1-1/2 inch ginger finely chopped
  • 1/2 loosely packed cup of coriander leaves & tender stalks
  • 4 large (or 7-8 small) flakes of garlic finely chopped
  • 2 firmly packed cups of palak leaves & tender stalks
  • 1 firmly packed cup methi leaves only
  • 1 or 2 teaspoon kashmiri chilli pwd - adjust to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin (jeera) powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala powder
  • 1/2 cup thick curds (yogurt) whisked
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice (optional)
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil (or any cooking oil)
  • Salt to taste

Method:
1. Cut the chicken into medium sized pieces, wash and drain on a colander.
2. Heat oil in a large heavy based pan/kadhai and fry the onions till golden pink. Add the green chilli and coriander leaves n fry for 3-5 minutes.
2. Reduce heat and add the chopped ginger, garlic, chilli powder, turmeric powder and cumin powder. Mix well and then add the chicken and fry on a medium flame for 3-4 mins. Add the thick yogurt, salt to taste and cook for about 5 mins.
3. Add the roughly chopped methi and palak leaves and mix. Cover the pan and cook on a medium flame till the chicken is done. Check taste and add lime juice if desired.
4. Serve hot with chapathis.

Notes: 
1. Wash the methi & palak leaves and drain off all the excess water from the leaves. You can use a clean kitchen towel for this. This will ensure that your gravy doesn't become too watery.
2. For a thicker gravy, you may puree the palak leaves and add them to the curry after step# 2. Do not puree the methi leaves.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Peas Pulao & a Product Review of Star Saver Tibar Basmati Rice & Star Cow Ghee

I realise that as and how my little ones are growing up I seem to have lesser time for myself - more so for the blog. I just don't seem to find the time & inclination to sit at the computer anymore, well, at least not for more than a few minutes at a time which is hardly good enough to write a detailed post. However, write I must, for my own sanity which is hard to come by when kids are young. Doing their chores and picking up after them falls entirely - wholly and squarely on your shoulders. Just when the day is over and I get a breather & time to unwind I wonder what has hit me. Its been two weeks since my mum arrived and boy, is that a blessing! The two of us have not had a chance to sit and sip a quiet cup of tea (I don't imply that my cup of tea is noisy at the moment, but you get the drift, don't you?) as the day just flies past us and before we know it, its time to say goodnight & recharge our batteries for the next day.


 In the midst of it all a real welcome change was a product review - a request sent to me by Sabina Lama on behalf of her client - Star Bazar, a Tata Enterprise, who wanted to know if I was interested in reviewing one of the several in-house food products that were recently launched. I welcomed this opportunity as it would give me a chance to escape from the mundane and try out new products and give my opinion on how I liked them. I decided to prepare something simple out of the two products that I chose to review ~ Star Saver Tibar Basmati Rice and Star Cow Ghee. This way I would be able to enjoy both the products in the same dish. No prizes for guessing what I decided to prepare. Yes! a pulao! 



I have spoken high & low about my love and deep passion for all things rice, haven't I? To me basmati rice is  the go to comfort food as far as aromatic rice varieties are concerned. Three simple reasons why this is so. One, if you know the quality of your rice, you can never fail at how to cook it. Stick to the same variety/quality/brand and you have a winner on your hands - no matter what you cook, the results are almost 100% the same everytime. Two, if you know the trick of cooking it in the pressure cooker - using an accurate amount of water you can prepare a dish in half the time. Three, it is so very versatile that you can prepare anything ranging from a breakfast dish to a main course - any recipe that calls for raw rice can easily make use of the basmati if you have run out of your regular raw rice. Better the quality, better your meal experience. From a simple steamed rice to a rich and lavish biryani, the basmati caters to every need. 

Star Saver Tibar Basmati Rice is a long grain rice of superior quality that is sourced from Punjab & Haryana. Since basmati rice is considered to be more healthy than its other raw rice counterparts special care is taken to process it using state-of-the-art technology that retains its nutritive value. It is GMO (Genetically Modify) free and has a delectable aroma and maintains a good length of the grain after cooking - important features of good quality basmati.



Well, when I prepare pulaos and biryanis I use generous amounts of ghee - clarified butter as it is called has a host of health benefits and is so aromatic that it simply lifts my mood - no matter how low I feel, a whiff of pure ghee that is being warmed up can do wonders to my mood and general well being. The sad part is that in the recent years Ghee has been made to look like a villain and people shun it as if it is the sole reason of bad health. However, it has so many medicinal, cosmetic and health benefits that it truly needs to be the star of your kitchen. It is one of the most healthy and beneficial by-products of milk and is excellent for brain development in kids. Pregnant & lactating women, the elderly and generally people of all ages stand to benefit from it. Unless you have been diagnosed with high cholesterol and have been strictly advised to avoid saturated fats, there is no reason why ghee should be avoided - ghee can only benefit you.

Star Cow Ghee is an aromatic ghee that suits Indian cooking so beautifully. It is made with 100% fresh cow's milk and is rich in vitamin A and beta carotene. It has a granular texture with a fresh & authentic taste & aroma and is hygienically packed in a modern dairy plant. This ghee of superior quality is reasonably priced and is available in packs of 500ml and 1 litre respectively.



My verdict:
In order to review Star Saver Tibar Basmati Rice, I selected a very simple recipe that did not use a rich masala or ingredients that would possibly mask the flavour and aroma of the rice. I wanted to try out something simple that helped the basmati stand out and be the 'star' in the real sense. The pulao did just that. The addition of the peas did not hinder the actual flavour of the rice in anyway. The aroma of the rice personified by the ghee was really nice and filled up my home. The grains truly fluffed up without sticking to each other and imparted a beautiful aroma to the dish. This rice is reasonably priced and hence will be part of my grocery list from now on. Star Saver Tibar Basmati Rice & Star Cow Ghee are available at all Star Bazar outlets across India.

Peas Pulao
Prep time: 20 mins | Cook time: 25 mins | Serves 3-4

You Need
  • 1-1/2 cups long grain basmati rice
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup fresh peas shelled
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 4 green cardamoms, bruised
  • 5 peppercorns
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 1" stick cassia bark or cinnamon
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 medium sized onion chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ginger & garlic paste
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
  • salt to taste (approx 1-1/4 teaspoons)
  • 2 tablespoons ghee
Method:
1. Rinse the rice in a couple of changes of water and soak it for 20 mins.
2. Heat ghee in a large deep pan and toss in cassia bark/cinnamon, cloves, green cardamoms, peppercorns and bay leaf and let them sizzle for a couple of seconds. Add the cumin seeds and reduce the flame to ensure that they don't get burnt.
3. Toss in the ginger & garlic paste and let it fry lightly for about 10 seconds and then add the chopped onions and fry till they turn pale golden. Meanwhile in another pan bring the 3 cups of water to a boil and keep it ready.
4. Add the peas to the fried onions and fry for about a minute and then add the rice and fry on a slow flame for about 3-4 minutes or till the rice begins to feel heavy while stirring - this is a good sign that it is time to add the water. If you continue to stir the rice beyond this point it will begin to break
5. Add the freshly boiled water to the rice, salt to taste, sugar & lime juice and do a quick taste check. The mixture should taste sweet-salty and mildly sour in order to impart the right amount of flavour to the rice. Adjust the flavour if required. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil (let it bubble well), then reduce the flame completely to a sim.
6. Cover the mouth of the pan with a tightly fitting lid - ensure that no steam is able to escape. You may even cover it with aluminium foil & then place the lid over it and a weight (a heavy mortar & pestle will do). Let the rice cook for 14 minutes on this very slow flame (see notes). Don't forget to keep a timer!
7. On completion of  14 minutes, turn off the flame and let it sit for 2 minutes. Open the pan and gently fluff the grains with a fork and cover & keep for another 5 minutes.
8. Serve hot with raita or a veg or non veg dish of your choice or eat it plain!

Notes:
1. The cooking time of the rice greatly depends on the quality & quantity used. If you are using a superior quality of rice, it will take more or less 12-15 minutes to fluff up well (when cooked in a pan). Pressure cooking will greatly reduce the time taken to cook the rice.

Disclaimer: This is not a paid review. I have expressed my own personal views based on my experience of sampling the products sent by Star Bazar, Andheri, Mumbai. 


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Chow Chow Bhath ~ Karnataka Style Sweet & Savoury Semolina ~ Breakfast Combo

It's been a while since I posted a breakfast recipe. Since I love repeating myself, let me do it once again - I LOVE a hearty breakfast! I am such a breakfast person that I totally look forward to the most important meal of the day. A good breakfast not only helps me jump start the day, it also provides a big boost to my energy levels. Thanks to the blog I've had the great fortune of exploring cuisines and I am always on the look out for good recipes. However, if you ask me, I am always happy & contented with our typical South Indian breakfast options - there are loads of them although broadly categorized under idlis, dosas & upmas. There are a myriad ways in which you can fix your daily breakfast even if you are just making an idli or a dosa. Not to forget the humble upma which is often not the preferred breakfast option for many - but it is prepared at least once in ten days at my place. The sheera is a much loved sweet dish that Roshan loves having once a while - loaded with ghee, raisins and nuts, his favourite is the one which includes a few chunks of fresh pineapple. Now what if both these breakfast items are served to you on a platter? Call it the chow chow bhath!

(Above Pic: Khara Bhath with veggies)

Chow chow bhath is popularly found on breakfast menus across restaurants in Karnataka except Mangalore (it wasn't on the menu cards the last time I checked). A lot of these small pure veg hotels in Bangalore serve it - I haven't been to other places in Karnataka. My first tryst with this amazing breakfast combo was when I was working in Bangalore (I refuse to call it Bengaluru!) a decade ago and I remember digging into a nice plate of savoury khara bhath with its faithful friend on the side - the kesari bhath.

(Above Pic: Khara Bhath without veggies)

Khara bhath is nothing but savoury semolina or upma, uppittu or sajjige - call it what you like. Kesari bhath popularly known as sheera or rawa halwa is this beautifully smooth blob of bright yellow semolina drenched in aromatic ghee and so delicious that it just melts in your mouth. I am sure that those of you who have lived/live in Bangalore have at least had the good fortune of tasting it at least once. What??? Never tasted it? Are you kidding me?? Go and have a plateful of it at Shiv Sagar or any of these little pure veg restaurants that serve some. If that's not possible, just make some this weekend. The recipe's right here for you. I say weekend because, let's face it - making two different items is going to take you some time and its best done in a leisurely manner. This dish deserves patience and appreciation. It needs respect!


About this dish
A lovely breakfast combo of sweet & savoury semolina. Each balancing the other so well - takes your taste buds to experience flavours and aromas on a different level. It is however a bit of extra work as you need to make two items and serve them as a combo, however, trust me, it's worth it. The sheera/kesari bhath is typically made with loads of pure ghee - so much that it oozes out of it and hence it is usually served on a banana leaf which can be discarded after the meal is finished and one can do away with scrubbing greasy dishes. However, if you are health conscious do adjust the amount of ghee and sugar to suit your taste buds. 

Chow Chow Bhath
Kesari Baath (Sheera / Rawa Kesari / Sooji Halwa)
You Need:
  • 1 cup fine semolina/rawa (Bombay sooji)
  • 1/2 cup ghee *see note#1
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar *see note#2
  • 3 cups water or milk (or use half of each)
  • 25 grams cashew nuts
  • 25 grams raisins
  • 1/3 cup fresh pineapple pieces (optional)
  • 2-3 drops of yellow food colouring or a few strands of saffron dissolved in 2 tbsp milk * see note#3
Method:
Heat ghee in a large kadai and on a medium low flame lightly fry the cashew nuts till light golden, add the raisins till they just plump up. Remove immediately (before they burn) and set aside.
2. To the same pan add the semolina and roast on a medium low heat for about 4-5 minutes. While the semolina is roasting bring the water (and/or) milk to a boil and add it to the semolina. Add the saffron milk or food colouring dissolved in milk. Be careful as the hot bubbling mixture will splutter - so keep your face at a safe distance.
3. Add the sugar and mix well. Continue stirring until the mixture comes together like a ball (ghee begins to leave from it). Add the roasted raisins and cashew nuts and pineapple pieces if using. Cover the pan and cook on a low flame for about 2 minutes. Turn off the flame and keep the pan covered till ready to serve.
4. Serve hot!

Notes
1. You may increase the ghee to upto 1 cup for a really greasy, heavy duty yet delicious sheera.
2. You can reduce the ghee to 1-1/2 cups of sugar in case you won't be preparing the upma to go along with it
3. Use saffron instead of food colouring for a lighter hue of yellow - it is far more healthy than using artificial colouring especially if you are serving the dish to kids.

Khara Baath (Upma/Uppittu/Sajjige)

You Need:
  • 1 cup thick semolina (coarse rawa / lapsi of medium thickness)
  • 3 cups water (use less water if you are using fine semolina/Bombay sooji  * see note#1
  • 2-3 tablespoons oil 
  • 1-2 small green chillies slit (adjust to taste)
  • 1 inch ginger finely chopped
  • 1 sprig curry leaves (kadipatta)
  • 1/4 teaspoon mustard
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 2 tablespoons grated coconut (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons grated carrots (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon frozen green peas (optional) * see note#2
  • 2-3 drops of lime juice
  • Salt to taste
Method:
1. Heat oil in a large kadhai/ heavy bottomed pan and add the mustard. Once they splutter add the green chillies, onions and curry leaves and fry till the onions turn pale (pinkish). While the onions are frying boil the water in another pan.
2. Add the semolina to the fried onions and fry for a couple of minutes. Add the boiling water and salt to taste (approx 3/4th level teaspoon) and mix. Be careful as the hot bubbling mixture will splutter - so keep your face at a safe distance.
3. Cover the pan and let it cook on a low flame for about 2 minutes. Add the coconut, carrots & peas (if using) and cover till cooked. Sprinkle the lime juice and stir once just before turning off the flame.
4. Serve hot.

Notes:
1. The usual semolina to water ratio is 1:2 (1 cup semolina needs 2 cups of water) - however, to make it really smooth and mushy you need to add an extra cup as we are using a thicker variety of semolina here.
2. If you are using fresh peas, make sure you blanch them in advance before adding it to the rawa  in order to cook fast. I use store bought frozen peas which are pre-cooked.



Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Palak Methi Murgh (Spinach & Fenugreek Chicken) ~ Simple, Nutritious & Delicious!


The last week has seen a lot of activity in my house. The maid quit, the kids fell sick and it pretty much feels like a hurricane hit us. However, we have coped up really well and got a much needed break today after a few days of madness. What really helped was that we quickly planned meals for the week and split up chores between the two of us - trust me, planning ahead really saves time & sanity - it also helps us eat better and shop economically, make use of existing stock of ingredients and net net, save bucks. 

Since we have planned one day of the week for any kind of preparation that calls for chicken - whole, boneless, minced - I decided to make use of the leafy greens sitting in my fridge for the past one week. Almost once in two weeks we have nutritious parathas for breakfast and buying a whole bunch of spinach when only a few leaves are required leads to the rest of it waiting for a good enough recipe. I had also made methi chicken sometime last week so another bunch of methi leaves were staring back at me. Today I decided to put both these beauties to good use and marry them off to the chicken. 


Anyway, I had planned to make chicken today but without a real recipe - a pinch of this and a smidgen of that later I was rewarded with a real good chicken curry - delicious, healthy and very simple to make. The husband gave me a thumbs up and I was happy that the generally fussy eater aged 5 gobbled up some too without a fuss. The best part was that I made good use of the leafy greens. 

I am only sad that I didn't get enough good pictures - the dish is far more superior than the pictures I managed to grab today. I may just click a few more next time cuz I am certainly making this dish over & over again. 


About this dish
This is an easy to prepare dish that tastes very good if you like eating leafy greens. Spinach is a wonderful source of vitamin A, potassium, magnesium, iron & folate - beneficial for pregnant women. Methi (fenugreek) is a wonder herb - great for reducing diabetes & cholesterol and with a host of other health benefits such as preventing hair loss, aiding digestion and a million other things 
This dish can be your perfect weekday meal option - to be eaten with chapathis - tastes really yum! So what are you waiting for? Go get some green in your diet!

Palak Methi Murgh
Prep time: 20 mins | Cook time: 25 mins | Serves 4

You Need

  • 1 kg chicken
  • 2 large onions finely chopped
  • 1 or 2 green chillies slit
  • 1-1/2 inch ginger finely chopped
  • 1/2 loosely packed cup of coriander leaves & tender stalks
  • 4 large (or 7-8 small) flakes of garlic finely chopped
  • 2 firmly packed cups of palak leaves & tender stalks
  • 1 firmly packed cup methi leaves only
  • 1 or 2 teaspoon kashmiri chilli pwd - adjust to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin (jeera) powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala powder
  • 1/2 cup thick curds (yogurt) whisked
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice (optional)
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil (or any cooking oil)
  • Salt to taste

Method:
1. Cut the chicken into medium sized pieces, wash and drain on a colander.
2. Heat oil in a large heavy based pan/kadhai and fry the onions till golden pink. Add the green chilli and coriander leaves n fry for 3-5 minutes.
2. Reduce heat and add the chopped ginger, garlic, chilli powder, turmeric powder and cumin powder. Mix well and then add the chicken and fry on a medium flame for 3-4 mins. Add the thick yogurt, salt to taste and cook for about 5 mins.
3. Add the roughly chopped methi and palak leaves and mix. Cover the pan and cook on a medium flame till the chicken is done. Check taste and add lime juice if desired.
4. Serve hot with chapathis.

Notes: 
1. Wash the methi & palak leaves and drain off all the excess water from the leaves. You can use a clean kitchen towel for this. This will ensure that your gravy doesn't become too watery.
2. For a thicker gravy, you may puree the palak leaves and add them to the curry after step# 2. Do not puree the methi leaves.