Category: Greens and Herbs

Fennel Sandwich ~ India Inspired

Fennel seeds need no introduction to this Bharath Bawarchi but when it comes to fresh fennel, I always wondered how they would taste. Thanks to Jihva Fennel, I found out that fresh fennel has a light licorice flavor which becomes more delicate when cooked.

For my first try, I placed the fresh fennel in a comfortable combination. I stir-fried the fennel with red onion and red bell peppers and seasoned with fennel seeds. The result was a vigorous vegetable medley with pronounced fennel sweetness.

I have to say that it was so easy to fall in love with fresh fennel in this Indian-inspired combination, and I recommend fresh fennel friendship to my fellowship.

Fresh Fennel Bulb

Fennel Sandwich ~ India Inspired
(for four sandwiches)

1 fennel bulb
1 red bell pepper
1 red onion
1 green chilli
1/4 tsp each – turmeric, fennel and cumin seeds
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon, peanut oil

Slice the top off and remove the outer layer of the fennel bulb. With a mandoline or knife, slice the fennel lengthwise into thin strips about two inches long. Finely slice onions, red bell pepper and chilli into thin strips of the same length.

In a cast iron skillet, heat the peanut oil. Add cumin and fennel seeds and toast to fragrance. Add the onion and cook for two to three minutes. Add the fresh fennel, red bell pepper and chilli strips and stir-fry for about five minutes, until the vegetables are tender and start to get brown. Season with salt and turmeric and sprinkle some lemon juice if desired.

Serve warm over grilled or toasted bread or chapati for fennel flavored, filling meal.

Stir-fried fresh fennel with red onions and red bell peppers Fennel Sandwich ~ India Inspired
Fennel Sandwich ~ for Meal Today, and
For JFI~Fennel at Lovely Siri of Siri’s Corner

Fruit Kosambari with Pears

February Food Fun:
Include Fruits and greens regularly
Make a habit of Kosambari

Sweet pears in season are tossed with fresh lettuce from our backyard garden in this delicious kosambari. For an Indian twist, I have added some dates, chickpeas and chat masala powder. Fruits, greens and some protein, this free-spirited kosambari has all the food fun I wanted in a February. A guilt free meal and God bless simple recipes like Kosambari.

Pear and Lettuce

Fruit Kosambari with Pears
(serves two)

1 small bunch of fresh lettuce
2 pears
1 cup, cooked chickpeas
1/4 cup, dates
1 tablespoon chat masala powder
salt and black pepper to taste

Rinse the lettuce well. Pat them dry with a clean towel. Tear the leaves into bite-sized pieces. Peel the skin and slice pears into big pieces. Quarter the dates.

In a bowl, take the lettuce. Add pears, dates and chickpeas. Sprinkle chat masala powder, salt and black pepper powder. Toss to coat.

Serve immediately with a cup of rasam or sambar on the side for a light meal.

Fruit Kosambari with Pears
Fruit Kosambari with Pears and Dates ~ For Meal Today

Artisan Food ~ Saffron Paneer

Fresh Paneer and Saffron
Fresh Paneer and Saffron

Saffron Paneer
(serves 4 to 6)

Fresh, homemade paneer – half cup
Saffron – half teaspoon
Honey – one tablespoon

Soak saffron in two tablespoons of water for about 15 minutes.

Take paneer in a blender. Add the saffron along with the water it soaked in and also the honey. Blend well to smooth paste.

Serve saffron paneer as a dip or spread for vegetables, crackers or bread. Sprinkle some finely chopped dried fruits or nuts if you wish.

By combining saffron with fresh homemade paneer, this simple dip retains the richness of saffron and enhances the creamy taste of paneer.

Saffron Paneer on Bread
Saffron Paneer with Bread ~ for Breakfast Today
and for Dear DK’s JFI~Saffron

© Recipe and Photos Copyright 2009 Indira Singari.

With this saffron paneer toast, I wish you my dear readers a wonderful holiday season. I will see you again in 2010.

Lemongrass Rasam

What can be better in a bittercold winter than a bowl of hot, savory rasam! I like rasam and I also enjoy experimenting. The result is today’s recipe. To a traditional toor dal based rasam, I have added lemongrass. The bright, lemony herbal flavor of lemongrass could really cheer up casual rasam, I thought, and it did. Recipe is easy. Simmer the cooked dal with lemongrass and other regular rasam additions. No tomatoes, but ghee tadka is incorporated at the end to harmonize everything. Serve the rasam hot in a bowl and sip. Heaven must taste like this.

Lemongrass

Lemongrass Rasam
(serves 4)

Ingredients:
2 fistfuls of toor dal and 2 cups of water
1 shallot, finely chopped lengthwise
1 tablespoon, finely sliced lemongrass
1 tablespoon each, tamarind pulp and jaggery
1 teaspoon each, salt and rasam powder
1/2 teaspoon, chilli powder
1/4 teaspoon, turmeric
few sprigs of fresh cilantro, finely chopped

For Ghee Tadka:
1 tablespoon, ghee
1 small sprig of fresh curry leaves
pinch each, cumin, mustard seeds and asafetida

Method:

Take toor dal and water in a pressure cooker. Cover and cook until the dal is tender. Gently mash the dal to smooth.

To the cooked dal, add shallot, lemongrass, tamarind pulp and jaggery. Also stir in salt, rasam powder, chilli powder and turmeric. Add a cup of water. Partially cover and simmer for additional 10 minutes until you see froth coming up on top of the vessel. Switch off the heat and garnish with cilantro leaves.

Meanwhile, heat the ghee in a small skillet. Add curry leaves, cumin, mustard seeds and asafetida in that order. Saute, stirring constantly. When mustard seeds start to pop out of skillet, pour this sizzling tadka over lemongrass rasam. Mix well and serve immediately. Sip the rasam or eat mixed with rice. Comforting and nourishing, the rasam experience will warm the wintered soul.

Lemongrass Rasam
Warm Bowl of Lemongrass Rasam ~ for Meal today

© Recipe and Photos Copyright 2009 Indira Singari.

Pleasant Pull of The Past ~ Curry Leaf Podi

We went to a friend’s home last weekend. Our conversations these days invariably lead to gardening and plants. She has this beautiful and big curry leaf plant of 7 years old in her backyard which is almost a tree now. I guess it was amusing to see my admiration, she cut few branches on the spot for me. Such fearlessness! I am so old, I can remember the scarce days when I used to actually count the curry leaves before adding them to a recipe. Thanks to the generous friend, I finally made the beloved karivepaaku podi (curry leaf podi) at home today.

Curry leaf podi is a cherished Andhra tradition. This spicy seasoning with intense curry leaf aroma will taste great when mixed with rice or sprinkled over lightly cooked vegetables or even on salads. Curry leaf podi can be prepared in many ways. The following recipe is from my amma.

Fresh Curry Leaves
Fresh Curry Leaves ~ dried under Gentle Autumn Sun

Karivepaaku Podi (Curry Leaf Podi)

4 cups of tightly packed fresh curry leaves
1/4 cup of sesame seeds
12 red chillies, Indian variety, about ring-finger length each
1 teaspoon cumin
2 garlic cloves, skin peeled, slivered
1 teaspoon sea salt

Curry Leaves: Rinse curry leaves under water and gently pat them dry with a towel. Spread them on a cotton cloth to sun-dry under afternoon sun. The leaves will loose moisture and become dry but still retain green color. Do not sun-burn the leaves to black.

Gently fry the curry leaves on low heat in a cast-iron pan. Take care not to black or burn the leaves. Remove them to a plate to cool. The purpose of sun-drying and roasting is to let the leaves lose the moisture so that when powdered, they will remain dry and healthy to consume. Even after all this process, the leaves have to retain green color.

Roast: In the same skillet, add and roast dried chillies, garlic to brown. Remove. Add cumin and sesame seeds and roast until the sesame seeds are a few shades darker and emit a toasted aroma. Some seeds will actually start to pop out of the pan. Empty the contents of the skillet onto a plate and cool.

Powder: Add the cooled and roasted ingredients to a Sumeet style mixer or coffee grinder. Grind to fine powder. Cool completely and store in a clean jar with tight lid. It remains fresh and flavorful up to 3 months.

The tasty curry leaf podi can be enjoyed in many ways. Mix it with hot cooked rice and ghee, or rice and dal. Sprinkle the podi on warm chapati, idly, dosa or pesarattu. Great last minute seasoning to skillet-sautéed curries, like roasted potatoes, carrots, beans etc. Curry leaf podi is a wonderful thing to have in the kitchen.

Curry Leaf Podi (Karivepaaku Podi)
Curry Leaf Podi (Karivepaaku Podi)

Podi (Telugu) = Powder (E)
© Recipe and Photos Copyright 2009 Indira Singari.

WV14 ~ Gongura Pappu from Amma

Beatific Butterfly from Backyard
Beatific Butterfly from Backyard
(Of all the transplanted, showy flowers in the backyard, the butterflies are drawn to the wild ones which are known in this part of the world as weeds. Butterflies are precious! So now weeds have become part of the landscape.)

Today is Vara Lakshmi Vratham, an auspicious day on which Goddess Lakshmi Devi is celebrated with fasting, Pooja and neivedyam. It’s customary to share the Lakshmi Devi amma blessings with family and friends, and I am glad to share this day with you Net friends.

Neivedyam for the Pooja:

Semiya-Saggubiyyam Payasam
Atrasalu
Alasanda Vada
Chintapandu Pulihora (Tamarind Rice)
Sona Masuri Annam
Gongura Pappu
Chayote Kura
Brinjal-Jaggery Pacchadi
Coriander Rasam
Dadhojanam
Biyyam and saggubiyyam vadiyaalu

My Meal Menu:

Fasting in the morning.

Has ended the day with an early meal -small helping of each item from the Pooja neivedyam.

Workout:
Cooking. Pooja and meditation

In retrospect:
Great day! Calming cooking, peaceful Pooja in the morning hours.
Met good friends and had pleasant time in the evening.

Generous Gongura from Backyard
Gongura From Backyard

Gongura Pappu from Amma

The gongura seeds I had planted in March are now thriving healthy plants. The generous gongura didn’t mind when I plucked some mature leaves for the Pooja neivedyam menu today. There are several ways to prepare gongura pappu, and the following recipe is from my amma. I thought it’s a great way to pay homage to her on this auspicious day through this favorite vantakam.

Ingredients and Preparation:

Preparation happens in two steps.

Step 1:

Toor dal: 3/4 cup
Fresh gongura leaves – 6 cups, tightly packed
Indian or Thai variety green chilli – 8, chopped to tiny pieces
Red onion or shallots – chopped to chunks, 1 cup
Turmeric – 1/4 teaspoon

Take the above ingredients in a pressure cooker. Add two cups of water.
In a mortar, add a garlic clove and 2 teaspoons of coriander seeds. Pound to coarse paste. Add this paste to the ingredients in pressure cooker. Mix. Close the lid and cook until everything has become soft, particularly the toor dal.

Step 2:

Salt – 1/2 teaspoon or to taste
Peanut oil or ghee – 1 tablespoon
From masala dabba: Following ingredients for inguva(asafetida) Tadka:
a sprig of curry leaves
4 pieces of one-inch, majjiga mirapa(dahi mirchi)
1/4 teaspoon of urad dal
a pinch each – cumin, mustard seeds and hing (asafetida)

Add salt to the cooked dal in pressure cooker. With a pappu gutti (wooden whisk), mash the cooked ingredients to fairly coarse paste like. Remove the dal to a bowl or vessel.

In a small pan, heat the peanut oil or ghee. Add the tadka ingredients in this order, from big to small: curry leaves, dahi mirchi pieces, urad dal, cumin, and mustard seeds. Continuously stirring, toast the ingredients to golden. When mustard seeds make pop sounds, sprinkle the hing. Stir for couple of seconds. Immediately add this fragrant tadka to the cooked dal. Mix well and cover with a lid so that the flavors and aroma of hing tadka are thoroughly absorbed by the pappu (dal).

Serve the gongura pappu with rice or roti. The blissful combination is the old classic: gongura pappu and freshly cooked, hot Sona Masuri rice with some ghee and vadiyaalu on the side. Heaven!

Gongura Pappu
Gongura Pappu in Vadiyam Vadi on Muruku Peetam ~ For Meal Today

© Recipe and Photos Copyright 2009 Indira Singari.

WV13 ~ Palak Chole

Tella Mandaram (White Hibiscus) from Front Yard
Tella Mandaram (White Hibiscus) from Front Yard

Morning:
Sprouted moong + sprouted chickpeas combined with generous amounts of ginger, green chilli, cumin and salt, ground into smooth batter. The batter is then made into dosa. I had one dosa for breakfast with tomato chutney.
A glass of ragi ganji without sweetener

Noon:
Sprouted moong + sprouted chickpea dosa
A cup of palak chole
A small cup of cucumber and carrot slices

Evening:
A glass of ginger buttermilk

Night:
1 sprouted moong + sprouted chickpea dosa
A small cup of palak chole
A glass of tomato soopa (rasam)
A glass of cold ginger buttermilk

Workout:
Made another batch of biyyam vadiyalu for Sun-drying in the morning
Pillow covers are done and now on to curtains sewing project – evening

In Retrospect:
Busy but beautiful day. No carbo cravings and reduced appetite.

Palak Chole:

2 cups – cooked (or canned) chickpeas (Chole)
6 cups – chopped fresh spinach (Palak)
1 onion and 1 tomato- finely chopped
1×1 inch piece – fresh ginger, skin peeled
2 tablespoons – chana masala powder
1/2 teaspoon – salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon each – turmeric and red chilli powder
1/4 cup each – fresh cilantro and lemon juice to garnish
From masala dabba: tadka ingredients

Step 1: Take quarter cup of cooked or canned chickpeas in a mixer. Add ginger and blend to fine paste. Remove the paste to a cup and keep aside. (This is added to thicken the chole gravy.)

Step 2: Heat a tablespoon of peanut oil in a deep pan. Add and toast a teaspoon each – cumin, black cumin and kasuri methi to fragrance. Add onion and tomato. Saute to soft. Next goes the spinach. Saute spinach until it has collapsed. Add chickpeas, chickpea-ginger paste, chana masala powder, salt, red chilli powder and turmeric. Add about two cups of water. Mix well. Cover and simmer on medium heat, stirring in-between for 15 to 20 minutes. Garnish with cilantro and lemon juice, and serve warm with rice or roti. Good on it’s own too.

Palak Chole
Palak Chole for Meal Today

© Recipe and Photos Copyright 2009 Indira Singari.

WV6 ~ Chard with Chickpeas


Workout Vratha Pusham ~ Deva Ganneru (Plumeria/Frangipani) from Backyard

Morning:
A glass of ragi ganji without sweetener
Fistful of pressure-cooked chickpeas
Few pieces of apple

Noon:
A cup of Kasuri methi chole
A big bowl of tomato rasam
Carrot-cucumber raita

Evening:
A glass of cold ginger buttermilk

Night:
A cup of homegrown chard sautéed with chickpeas. Simple to make and tasty.
Dear Vijay brought Khaman from local Swami Narayana Temple. Had two pieces of Khaman.
A cup of hot, hot tomato rasam
Dinner was at 7PM. Felt hungry around 10, had a glass of cold buttermilk

Workout:
An hour of kickboxing and an hour of weights and abs class at the gym. Excellent teachers and I actually enjoy attending these classes. – morning
Gardening – evening

In retrospect:
Good day. Thinking of putting a stop to online food diary after day 7. Writing and sharing about daily intake feels monotonous and purposeless.


Homegrown Chard

Chard with Chickpeas

I sowed some chard seeds at the beginning of June. Now they are young plants. The tender leaves have robust spinach like flavor. When cooked with protein-rich chickpeas and Bharath seasoning, they tasted quite good. Beans and greens, I could never get tired of this combination.

Ingredients:
Chard leaves and tender stems – finely chopped about 8 cups
Cooked chickpeas – one cup
Red onion or shallots – finely chopped, about a cup
Red chilli-garlic powder – a tablespoon
Turmeric – 1/4 teaspoon
Salt -1/4 teaspoon or to taste
Lemon/limejuice – 2 tablespoons
From masala dabba: Tadka ingredients

Preparation:
In a big skillet, heat a tablespoon of peanut oil. From masala dabba, add and toast a teaspoon each cumin and mustard seeds. Sprinkle a pinch of asafetida and sauté to fragrance. Add the onions and cook to soft.

Add the chard and chickpeas to the onions. Mix well and cover and cook until the chard has wilted. At the end, add the chilli-garlic powder, turmeric and salt. Stir well and cook for couple of minutes. Add enough lemon/lime juice to sharpen the flavor and adjust seasoning to taste.

Serve straight from the skillet with rice or roti. Good on its own too.

Chard Chickpeas with Khaman
Chard Chickpeas with Khaman ~ for Meal Today

© Recipe and Photos Copyright 2009 Indira Singari.

WV3 ~ Pea Sprouts Soopa with Kale

Morning:
A glass of ragi ganji without sweetener
One boiled egg, white only

Noon:
1 gatti vada with chana dal in a cup of veggie-rich sambar
1 boiled egg, white only
Half carrot and half apple

Evening:
A small cup of ginger tea without sweetener
Remaining half of industrial-sized Fuji apple. Apples are huge here.

Night:
A cup of pea sprouts soopa with plenty of fresh kale from backyard, which was grown on dear Kay’s recommendation. Fresh and filling, good food
A cup of veggie-rich sambar and one papad
A glass of cold and delicious buttermilk from homemade yogurt

Workout:
15 minutes cycling, mile walk, and high intensity step aerobic class for one hour – Morning. Gardening work in the evening.

In retrospect:
Mild stomach discomfort because of all the guggullu. Should include more ginger, hing and lemon.
Peaceful and pleasant day.

Sprouted Yellow Pea with lone green pea sprout in the center (Yellow Vatana Sprouts)

Pea Sprouts Soopa with Kale
(for four or two for one or two meals)

Dried peas from Bharath are available in two colors. Green and yellow. Like fraternal twins, they are from the same family but are different taste and texture wise. Today’s recipe is with yellow dried peas with one lone green one.

The yellow peas are soaked in plenty of water overnight, then kept in a muslin cloth covered for a day for sprouting. The pea sprouts are then cooked with kale and seasoned with traditional Bharath flavors.

Why take the trouble to sprout? It’s because the sprouting process makes the legumes and lentils easily digestible and also increases nutritional value. The following recipe is based on Vatana Ambat of Karnataka/Maharashtra. Creamy pea sprouts and silky greens, it’s a decent soopa particularly when you are in no mood for fancy fixings. Give it a try.

Ingredients:
Yellow Peas (yellow vatana) sprouts – 2 cups
Fresh Kale, finely chopped – about 4 cups
Red onion or shallot, finely chopped – about half cup
From masala dabba – tadka ingredients
For Traditional Bharath Flavor:
Toast half teaspoon methi seeds to fragrance. Take them in mixer. Add two tablespoons of fresh coconut gratings and one inch piece of tamarind, five red chillies and pinch of salt. Blend to smooth paste.

Preparation:
Step 1: Place sprouted peas and two cups of water in a pot. Add half teaspoon salt. Cover and cook, until peas are fork tender. Takes about 15 minutes.
Add the kale to peas and continue to cook until they collapse. Add the blended Bharath flavoring. Mix well. If the soopa looks too dry, add about half cup of water. Simmer on low heat for five minutes.

Step 2: At the end of the cooking, do the onion tadka: Heat a tablespoon of peanut oil in another pan. Add pinch each – hing, cumin and mustard seeds and a sprig of curry leaves. Toast to fragrance. Add the onion. Fry to crisp. Stir in turmeric and toast for couple of seconds. Add this onion tadka to simmering soopa. Enjoy hot with ghee, rice or roti. Good on it’s own as well.

Pea Sprouts Soopa with Kale
Pea Sprouts Soopa with Kale ~ Meal Today

© Recipe and Photos Copyright 2009 Indira Singari.

Henna with Tea

Henna Plant (Gorintaaku Mokka)
Henna Plant (Gorintaaku Mokka)

“Caldwell Nursery” is a small nursery near our home that sells one of a kind plants, roses and fruit trees. They also have a nice website and keep it updated with latest offerings. After going through the website I made a list. Visited the nursery in March, the planting season in Houston, bought henna and few other plants. The henna was a tiny potted one, but after planting in the ground, it is growing well.

My father in law, the master gardener, who is visiting us from Nandyala, wanted to trim the branches and add some support to help the new growth. As a result, I have a cup full of fresh henna. I’ve added few drops of tea decoction to henna leaves and made a fine paste in a stone mortar. Henna is a healthy herb, not only colors but also reduces the heat of the body. During hot months, what is better than henna to keep the hands and the head cool and colorful?


Henna Paste with Tea Decoction (Gorintaaku Mudda)

Henna at Home

Henna Plant (Gorintaaku)


Henna Leaves (Gorintaaku)

Mint Chai

Mint Leaves with Gunpowder Tea
Fresh Mint (Pudina) Leaves and Gunpowder Tea

In the midst of pressure-packed day, there is nothing like taking a breather with a warm cup of chai.

I wanted something new that would relax and refresh. Pudina chai sounded soothing.

A glass of water, a teaspoon of gunpowder tea, six freshly plucked mint leaves and few drops of milk. Ten minutes of gentle simmering on stove-top and then straining out the seeped mint-tea mixture. There it is, mint chai sweetened with honey. My ॐ for today.

Pudina Tea
A Cup of Mint Chai ~ For Jihva:Mint

© Recipe and Photos Copyright 2009 Indira Singari.
first published on March 14th, 2008 at my old website – link.
Tea Finds:
North African Mint Tea (Without Milk)
Green Tea (Gunpowder or Pearl tea) Health Benefits

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