An Indian Holiday Feast

Hope everybody had a great Thanksgiving break. It’s the start of the season of over-indulgence! Thanksgiving weekend was filled with good food, drinks, family, friends, shopping, gossip & spending time with three precious little nieces. While we have the traditional meal with all the accompaniments each year, I’ve never really been a fan of turkey. I had seen recipes for (east)Indian spiced turkey several times, and had also been meaning to try roasting a cornish hen for several years. I decided to try to meld both together and improvised along the way. The results were a delicious & colorful meal that worked for our taste buds :). And it was easy enough to make for a weeknight meal.

Tandoori Cornish Hen

The menu included:

For dessert, we had warm and sweet Gulab Jamoons 🙂

[Scroll down for recipes of items that are not hyperlinked.]

Tandoori Cornish Hen

Masala Corn

  • 1 cup corn kernels (cooked and drained) – I buy frozen roasted corn kernels from Trader Joe’s
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp chaat masala
  • salt to taste (use black salt / kala namak if available for a better flavor)
  • 1-2 tsp lemon juice
  • cilantro for garnish

Mix all ingredients well and serve. The measurements are just a guide – adjust as per your taste.

 Peas & Carrot Pulao

  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 small onion – sliced
  • 1/2 tbsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp green chilli paste (or 1 green chilli – slit)
  • 1/4 cup peas
  • 1/4 cup diced carrots
  • 1/2 tsp salt to taste

1) Heat oil in a medium pan and add the cumin seeds. Allow it to sizzle and pop for a few seconds.

2) Add the onion, ginger and green chilli. Saute on medium-high till translucent, stirring often.

3) Add the carrots and salt, and saute for 2 minutes.

4) Add the peas and cook for another 2 minutes.

5) Add the rice and saute for 1-2 minutes till it changes color.

6) Add 1 1/2 cups (one and a half) water and bring to boil.

7) As soon as the water comes to boil, stir once, reduce heat to LOW, and cook covered for about 12-15 minutes. Do not open the lid during this time. At end of cook time, open lid and gently fluff the rice with a spoon or fork. Check for doneness. Keep covered till ready to serve.

Raita

This recipe was given to me by my friend Sandhya’s mom and it is my most favorite raita recipe.

  • 1/2 medium grated cucumber
  • 1 cup greek yogurt / strained yogurt
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 small dry red chilli
  • 2 Tbsp grated coconut
  • salt to taste

1) Wash, peel & grate the cucumber and drain for a few minutes.

2) In a small blender bowl, add half the yogurt, cumin, chilli & coconut and blend till smooth.

3) Mix all ingredients together and salt to taste.

NOTE: If you use regular yogurt, squeeze out the water from the cucumber before mixing in.

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Homemade “Instant” Pongal

“Mom, what’s for ………………?”

How many of you dread this question? (Fill in the blank with breakfast/ lunch/ snack/ dinner.)

It’s not so much the cooking that bothers me; rather, it’s the planning, pulling out everything needed, cooking, cleaning up, and putting the stuff away, only to do it all over again in a few hours. It’s nice to have a couple things handy to just pull out of the pantry or refrigerator, and do the final touches. No dealing with chopping boards, peeling onions, spice containers, or dirty dishes (well, atleast, not as many).

I make instant upma mix at home for breakfast several times a month. All it requires at meal time is a HOT cup of water. Just stir water and mix, allow it to sit covered for few minutes, and your hot meal is ready. I wanted to try some more recipes like this and played around with a few ideas. Pongal / kichidi was something that seemed possible. After two attempts, I finally arrived at the recipe below. While not as simple as the instant upma, this pongal mix is ready to be cooked. Just add water, mix and salt to a pressure cooker, and your meal is ready in a few minutes. Give it a try.

Quick, easy and satisfying. For a healthy meal, serve with a side of coconut chutney  and a vegetable.

NOTE: For a lower carb version, check out the recipe for Savory Quinoa Pongal.

Homemade “Instant” Pongal

(Entire recipe serves atleast 10-12 people)

  • 2 cups rice
  • 1 cup split yellow mung dal
  • 4 Tbsp ghee
  • 1 cinnamon stick (broken into large pieces)
  • 4 cloves
  • 3 red chillies (snap in half)
  • 1/2 cup cashew pieces
  • 1 sprig curry leaves (stripped, washed, and dried)
  • 1 Tbsp black pepper corn
  • 3 Tbsp cumin/jeera seeds
  • 3/4 cup grated coconut, optional

1) Roast dal on a medium-high flame for a few minutes, stirring often. Make sure it does not brown. Cool.

2) In a large pan, heat ghee on medium flame, making sure it does not smoke.

3) Add the cinnamon and cloves and fry for a few seconds.

4) Add the red chillies and curry leaves; partially cover lid so it does not splatter out of the pan.

5) Add cashews and roast till light golden.

6) Add the pepper and jeera and fry for a few seconds.

7) Add the rice & dal and mix well. Turn off heat and cool completely. Store in an airtight container or in the fridge for a few weeks.

TO COOK PONGAL:

1) Add 1 cup of the pongal mix, 3 cups water & 1 tsp salt to a pressure cooker pan, and stir well.

2) Cook on a medium flame for 2-3 whistles and turn off stove.

3) Allow the pressure to release and remove pongal; stir again and serve hot with ghee and coconut chutney.

4) Serves 3-4

NOTE: Many variations of pongal exist, and the ingredients in this recipe can be adapted to suit your taste. You may also reduce the amount of water in the final round of cooking to 2 1/2 cups. Just remember that the pongal will absorb water as it cools, making it thicker.

To make a vegan version, skip the ghee and use a few spoons of oil.

“Instant” Plain Pongal (Milder version)

This version is good for kids or for those who like milder food.

  • 2 cup rice
  • 1 cup yellow split moong dal
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp ghee or oil (ghee preferred)
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp peppercorn
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1 sprig curry leaves

1) On medium flame, dry roast the moong dal for a few minutes, stirring constantly, about 2-3 minutes. Do not brown. Turn off stove, stir in rice and set aside.

2)In a saute pan, heat the ghee / oil.

3) Add pepper & cumin seeds and allow to pop.

4) Add the curry leaves and cover partially with a lid. The moisture in the leaves will make them crackle and pop, and it might splatter out.

5) Add cashews and roast till light golden in color.

6) Turn off stove and add the rice & dal mixture. Stir well and allow to cool. Store in the refrigerator.

To Prepare Pongal:

1 cup rice & dal mix
2 1/2 – 3 cups water
1 tsp salt
Add all ingredients to a pressure cooker and cook on medium for 2-3 whistles. Allow to cool few minutes and remove. Serve with coconut chutney.

Low-fat Mango Coconut Muffins

 

 

 

 

 
Low-fat Mango Coconut Muffins

 

I made these muffins a few weeks ago on a whim – I was growing tired of the same old flavors and wanted something different. They turned out alright – tasted better fresh than thawed from the freezer ( I tend to bake a big batch of muffins and freeze them for breakfast / snack on other days). I plan on tweaking the recipe soon, and will post updates on how it turns out. Till then, happy baking.

 

Low-fat Mango Coconut Muffins

(Makes 1 dozen)

  • 2 Tbsp butter, melted & cooled
  • 1 large egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 1/4 cup mango pulp (homemade or store bought)
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or regular all purpose flour)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cardamom powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut flakes

1) Heat oven to 325* F

2) In a medium bowl, melt butter and cool (adding egg to hot melted butter will scramble them).

3) Whisk in the egg and mango pulp and mix well.

4) In another large bowl, mix flour, salt, sugar, cardamom powder, baking soda, and coconut flakes till well incorporated and set aside.

5) Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir gently till just blended.

6) Spoon into 12 muffin cups (about 1/4 cup mix in each) and bake about 25 mins, till toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

7) Remove from oven, cool for 5 minutes in pan, and then cool completely on a wire rack.

Spinach Cottage Cheese Roti

Spinach Cottage Cheese Roti

 

 

Cottage Cheese is a calcium rich protein powerhouse, and spinach, as we all know, is one of the wonder-foods packed with iron and fiber. I have tasted methi masala rotis before, and had heard of using cottage cheese to make rotis soft. When I came across a recipe for spinach cheese parathas at Saffron Hut, I wanted to try them. I changed the recipe to make just rotis without the stuffing. I was surprised at how nicely they fluffed up while cooking, and they kept beautifully for a few days in the refrigerator. Reheating was as easy as putting them on a hot griddle for a few minutes each side. This breakfast is on regular rotation in my family.

Spinach Cottage Cheese Roti

(8-10 rotis)

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups cottage cheese
  • 1 cup fresh spinach leaves (packed)
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • salt to taste
  • few spoons oil to cook rotis

1) In a large food processor bowl, add cottage cheese, spinach, chilli, cumin & turmeric powders and salt. Puree till well mixed.

Spinach Cottage Cheese Roti

 

2) Add the whole wheat flour and pulse few times till a dough forms. DO NOT ADD WATER.

Spinach Cottage Cheese Roti

3) Set aside covered in a bowl for 10 minutes. Check to see if the dough is too dry or soft, and add cottage cheese or flour as needed. Set aside covered for another  15-20 minutes.

4) Knead lightly and form into 8-10 balls.

Spinach Cottage Cheese Roti

5) Roll out into thin rotis and cook on a hot griddle, brushing with some oil on both sides.

Spinach Cottage Cheese Roti

6) Serve with some yogurt or a pat of butter.