October 16, 2012

Quinoa Dosa

When I was India, I read a lot about Quinoa. The super faux grain. The perfect replacement for rice. High in protein, low in calories, a good source of calcium and iron. The list was practically endless. But I had no source for it there. A few months ago, I came across a packet in the local supermarket here. I bought it and as with most things I buy, I forgot about it.
This morning, I decided to soak rice and dal for making dosas. I make my dosas with brown rice as I wanted to incorporate it into our cooking. I tried several times to use it in place of regular rice, but it just didn't go down as well in our house. I felt that we had to cut down on white rice usage in more palatable ways. I started making dosas with brown rice in India simply because I had stock that had to be used up in some way. And when my dosas turned out fine, there was no turning back.

At a Chinese vegetarian restaurant here that I have been to a couple of times, I tasted red rice. The chef at the place spoke little English, but was happy to teach me how to cook the rice (with the manager translating) and even showed me a packet of the rice while telling me where to buy it. I ended up buying a bag of Red Cargo rice. I wanted to see how my dosas would turn out with this and so looked into my pantry for the red rice. I then saw the forgotten packet of Quinoa. There was a quick change in plans.

It was an experiment and it worked. That I am posting it here means that it was good. But good doesn't even begin to describe this. Golden brown like the dosas you get a hotel and no one will complain. It may be different, but this different is good.

1 cup Quinoa
1 cup Udad
1 cup Brown Rice
1 tsp Fenugreek Seeds
Salt to taste

Oil for frying

Wash the urad, quinoa and rice. Add the fenugreek seeds and soak in plenty of water overnight. (At least 4-5 hours). Wash well and grind using a little water. Add salt and water to dilute it as required. (Don't add too much water as the dosas will not turn out well.) If you like, you could allow the batter to ferment overnight. I like dosas made with freshly ground batter. And after I've eaten those, I let the batter ferment overnight.

Heat a tawa and smear a little oil on it. Simmer the flame and pour a ladleful of the batter in the centre of the tawa. Quickly spread the batter while forming concentric circles (spiral actually!). Add a little oil on the sides and centre. Usually not more than 1 small spoonful (1/4 tsp) per dosa. When crisp, carefully turn the dosa over and allow the other side to cook a little (this is not done in restaurants, but I prefer to turn my dosas and toast them on both sides).

Turn the dosa back and fold in half. Serve with chutney, sambar, or molaga podi or a combination of all these.

Humble dosa at probably its nutritious best. And as a plus, it tastes and looks fantastic. 

I think there is no going back for me.

October 12, 2012

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

I'd never seen these orange sweet potatoes before we moved here. In India, I only saw the ones with the purplish pink skin and yellowish white flesh. Those would have spots that would somehow turn black once I cut them. So, when I saw the orange fleshed ones here, I fell in love with them instantly. They looked just like the stuff I'd seen in my cookbooks, they weren't as sweet as the ones back home, and they didn't get those black spots. I use them quite often in my cooking.
I followed the same technique as for baked potato wedges, but I cut the sweet potatoes into fries. (One must at least feel that they are eating fries!) These fries also double up as toddler finger food. Very good for a child who wants to hold his or her own food and act all grown up.

I followed the same method for the adult and the baby versions, varying only the spices.
2 Sweet Potatoes, parboiled, peeled and cut into fries
2 tbsp Oil
1 tbsp Butter
1 tsp Basil
1 tsp Parsley
1 tsp Chilli Flakes
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
Salt and Pepper to taste

For the toddler version, I used paprika, garlic powder and salt.
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.

Heat the oil and butter in a saucepan. Add the parsley, basil and chilli flakes (or paprika) and fry for a minute. Add the garlic powder and fry another minute. Add the sweet potato, salt and pepper (optional for toddlers). Toss the wedges in the spice mixture. Transfer to a baking sheet. Place it in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.

Enjoy these hot. I tried these again recently with purple fleshed sweet potatoes and we all loved them. Nature has put so much into these sweet potatoes that this cannot even be termed an indulgence. Moderation, of course, is key.

October 7, 2012

Ragi Appey - Almost Instant Goodness

Last month, we had been to the US to attend my graduation ceremony. Before the ceremony, we spent a few days with S's sister. She told me about making dosas without grinding. She merely added water and salt to a mixture of rice and udad flours and allowed it to ferment. I had tried something similar before, but had added baking soda to the mixture. I liked the idea of natural fermentation. I wanted to try it after we got back.

In one of my recent posts, I talked about how our blogs have crossed the boundaries of the blogosphere and how we are all connected via social media. This post and the dish it talks about have come about thanks to a food related discussion on Facebook.
Aparna started a discussion asking people about mannchattis. Suddenly, the discussion spilt over to kalchattis and kuzhipaniyaram pans. Then as a continuation of that, there was more talk of neiyappams and their pans. I was drooling. I was hungry. And I had to do something about it.
I decided to make grind free dosa batter. I tweaked the batter by adding ragi flour to the it. The weather happened to be rainy and not very hot. So natural fermentation may need a bit of a helping hand, I thought. And my idea worked. I was rewarded with a plate of hot appeys.
1 cup Udad Flour
1 cup Rice Flour
1 cup Ragi Flour
1 tsp Instant Yeast
Mix the flours and the salt and add enough water to make a dosa like thick batter. Add the yeast and mix well. Allow to ferment for an hour or so.
As a variation to this plain batter, I also made the masala variation by adding to the batter:
1 Tomato, finely chopped
1 Onion, finely chopped
1 Green Chilli, finely chopped
1/2" piece Ginger, finely chopped
1/4 cup Coriander Leaves, finely chopped
Heat the appey kayli and smear a drop of oil onto each mould. Simmer the flame and pour a spoonful of the batter into each mould. Turn each ball after a few minutes using a pick. Enjoy them fresh off the pan.
A, who did not care for dosas made from the same batter, loved these. He called them "ball". They're healthy enough for a toddler, are something he can eat  by himself (when sufficiently cooled) and have everything that makes them a meal. What's not to love?

October 6, 2012

Zucchini Hummus Parathas

Life stages. Usually, unless you're at a certain stage yourself, or have been past that stage, it is difficult to understand what it is all about. It is nearly impossible to empathize. At least for me, it has been. For the longest time, I couldn't understand why parents fussed over what their children could eat. I saw one set of parents agonizing over their children's lunch and dinner and I saw another set that relied almost totally on prepackaged food.
Now that I have one of my own to worry about, I realize that I am not the agonizing type. I don't fuss over A's food. He usually eats what we eat. Yes, at times, he may go hungry because he is throwing a tantrum and refuses to eat. Since he is just a year and half, I do offer him one other comfort food option at most meals. If he refuses that as well, I let him be. I know that in these food battles, I am never going to win. My aunt said to me, "My children's paediatrician said that no child with access to food will ever starve." So, when A is hungry, he will eat. My obligation is, then, to ensure that the right kind of food is accessible. And I know that this is me. Every parent is different as is every child.  
A has been very fiercely independent for a long time. I see a lot of me in him. I am pretty much the "I-can-manage-all-by-myself-thank-you-very-much" kind of person. When it comes to food, he prefers being able to feed himself. But he is also picky at the moment about textures. He will not touch wet or sticky things. (Or if he does, he will quickly wipe his hands on my clothes!) He is not very comfortable with a spoon and more food falls on his stomach than in. At times, we give him a roasted papad (protein) to eat by himself while he is being fed his meal of rice, dal and vegetable. At times, I make baby sized cutlets for him. He likes to eat oven baked fries (potato, sweet potato, carrot) and I give him a plate as a snack or before his main meal.
And parathas work very well. I make 'all in one' parathas for him which I cut into bits. He then eats them all by himself. I make the dough, roll out the parathas and freeze them with baking paper in between them. On days when I am feeling particularly lazy, I just pull out two of these, toast them on a tava with a little ghee/oil and cut them up. And then I feel good that he got his carbohydrate, protein, fat and vegetable fix from that one meal.
1/2 cup Chickpeas (soaked and cooked)
1 cup Atta (Whole Wheat Flour)
1/2 cup Green and Yellow Zucchini (diced)
1 tbsp Tahini
1 tbsp Sesame Oil/Gingelly Oil
1 tsp Paprika
1/s tsp Turmeric
1/2 tsp Cumin Powder
1 clove Garlic
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Sugar
Grind the chickpeas with the garlic, tahini and zucchini. Place this mixture in a bowl. Add the other ingredients. Mix well. Keep adding a little water as necessary and knead into a soft, pliable dough. Cover and allow to rest for a few minutes.
Divide the dough into small balls and roll them out with the help of a little flour. Toast on a hot tava until brown spots appear and the paratha is cooked.
Serve as they are or with some yogurt on the side.
Of late, many friends have been requesting child friendly food on the blog. So, I hope you like this.
If you are making these for adults, increase the amount of spices or serve with a side dish. I have started adding sesame paste to many of our meals as sesame is a good natural source of zinc. You could substitute the chickpeas, tahini, garlic, paprika and oil with 2/3 cup of ready made hummus.