Spinach Soup, The Winter Treats

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Chilly winters call for some warm treats and as we step into this new year, I wanted to bring to you all my favourite quick, go to recipes in winters under a series, The Winter Treats. Spinach, I love it for the nutrition, deliciousness and the ease at which it can be added into any savoury dish or curry. Handful of sauteed spinach and a bowl of curd is just enough to to meet your protein, probiotic, fiber needs for a day. Not to forget the vitamin and mineral profile of greens, especially spinach. So, here I bring you the first recipe of this series – the humble spinach soup. The beauty of the recipe lies in the simplicity of ingredients and execution. Also, it doesn’t have corn starch or maida. So, all the people conscious about healthy choices – fret not. That said, it’s a yummilicious hearty treat to anyone!

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Do let me know about your favorite winter treats as well! 😀 Try this recipe and tag your post with the hashtag #tadkatales . I would love to hear your reviews 😀

 

 

NO Onion – NO Garlic PUMPKIN DAL recipe| Gummadikaaya Pappu Recipe| Red Lentils Soup with Pumpkin Recipe| Gluten-free Lentil Soup with Pumpkin

It’s the Pumpkin season! Closer we are getting to Thanksgiving, my email feed is being stuffed up with recommendations of Pumpkin recipes. While pumpkin occupies a huge part on the tables at homes across the world in the form of pancakes,cakes, pies and warm winter soups, Indian cuisine owned this orange fleshy goodness with an unique adaa in the form of comforting dals or humble curries. Did you hear about the quintessential dish from Andhra cuisine, `Gummadikaya Pulsu‘? Will share the dish once I nail the recipe. Somehow I forget to pick up this vegetable on regular market visits. Now that I am adamant to relish this famous vegetable in all the myriad tastes, I am sure you’ll find more recipes around this golu-molu vegetable here.

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There is an other variant – the white pumpkin which is usually savoured in the form of a sweet, halwa or a vadiyams (fryums). The halwa is a pretty time consuming task hence got only cameo roles during festive occasions, Sankranthi most often. ;P And the fried vadiyams, favorites from childhood are beauties! Crushing and mixing them on the top of steaming hot white rice in the company of ghee is a food habit I picked up from mom which she picked up from grand ma. More and more I learn about food habits that define and differentiate our taste preferences and cuisines, I have been growing eager to dig up the anthropology of Indian food. How incredible it is that one life is just not enough to savour food in its uncountable forms! 😀

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November is the month of no onion and no garlic addendum, a practice which I couldn’t come to terms with any rationale till date. Would be happy to hear if you have any idea about this. Fed up looking at mom’s plate with plain dal or rice since the start of this month (Karteeka, its called in Telugu Calendar), I took it upon myself as a challenge to break the monotony. I wanted to have both dal and pumpkin curry one day and I was too lazy and thought why not mix them both, which brought Pumpkin Dal to the table. While I usually steam vegetables and add tadka for no onion, no garlic versions of curries, I wondered if a dal would sing the right tunes without the magic of garlic and onions. This recipe of Pumpkin Dal surprised me in all ways reimbursing belief in conjuring good dishes even without the usual ingredients. I have adapted Swasthi’s recipe from here.

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Ingredients:

1 cup chopped Pumpkin

½ cup lentils ( Here, I used Masoor Dal aka Red lentils)

3- 6 green chillies (adjust according to your spice levels and hotness of a mirchi)

2 medium sized chopped Tomatoes

¼ cup Evaporated/Pasteurized Milk

1 tbsp Mustard Oil

Salt (to taste)

Spices:

15-20 nos peppercorn

1/8 tsp Asafoetida

Handful of curry leaves

½ tsp Cumin seeds

¼ tsp Turmeric

Procedure:

  1. 1.Pressure cook lentils with 1.5 cups of water and chopped pumpkin with peppercorns, green chillies for 3-4 whistles. If you are using split pigeon pea or bengal gram, soak the dal before cooking so that it mashes up easily within 3-4 whistles.
  2. Add mustard oil into a heated up pan. Followed by asafoetida, cumin seeds and turmeric.
  3. As the cumin crackle, add chopped tomatoes. Cook them in medium flame until tomatoes come together mushy.
  4. Now, pour milk into it and simmer for 5 mins.
  5. To this, add the pressure cooked pumpkin-lentil mixture along with salt.
  6. Let the dal boil in low flame along with the tadka for 2-3 minutes and adjust the consistency of the dal with water.

I had paired it up with sauteed greens along with steamed rice. It tasted good with phulkas/rotis as well.

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Note: One could swap normal milk for coconut milk.

Did you try this recipe? Would love to hear about trial. Tag your dish @9sowmya9 with the hashtag #tadkatales on Instagram.

BADAM LADDU RECIPE| FLAX SEED LADDU RECIPE | RECIPE FOR ALMOND FUDGE BALLS | RECIPE FOR FLAXSEED FUDGE BALLS| INSTANT ENERGY SNACKS RECIPE| GHEE FREE ALMOND LADDU RECIPE| EVERYDAY HEALTHY SNACK RECIPE

 

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Here kicks off another week! Weekdays often remind me of the skipped meals to our infrequent food consumption throughout the day. Either caught up in busy meetings or wrapping up cascade communications over emails and phone calls, eating right takes a back seat! Your mind would let you grab innumerable cups of tea, coffee or sometimes even a shot of alcohol too. But, does that help? I am sure you know the answer. It’s a ‘NO’ !

Amidst the hola-pola of busy schedules, what can we do to keep up our energy levels and take care of our health? Isn’t handy to have something in your bag to endure quick hunger pangs during the busy week days?! No, do not get the idea of chocolates or the touted energy bars. How about some homemade fudge balls aka laddus made out of almonds and flax seeds. The health conscious folk might already have an idea about this powerful nut and seed. For the lesser known people, almonds are the best source of the good fats essential to our body along with Vitamin E, fiber and folic acid. Flaxseeds on the other hand are good sources of omega-3-fatty acids and antioxidants.

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This Diwali I got bored with the Burelu (fried sweet lentil stuffed dumplings) and Bobbatlu (Sweetened lentil stuffed Indian bread) sweet routine at home and decided on making laddus using dry fruits and flax seeds in particular. I experimented with the proportions and it worked out.  Such a relief to get something right at the first attempt! I was contemplating on what kind of binding agent should be used in the flaxseed laddu and this post cleared my confusion in picking up roasted gram dal flour over instant oats. Rolling onto the recipes –  

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Badam Laddu| Almond Fudge Balls:

Ingredients:

½ cup dry roasted Almonds

1 tbsp dry roasted Cashew

¼ cup Jaggery ( Bellam/gud)

1 tbsp Raisins (kismis)

2 pods Cardamom

Procedure:

  1. Roast the almonds and cashew on medium to low heat till they get crunchy.
  2. Grate the jaggery or chop it into smaller chunks to ease the process of grinding.
  3. Remove the husk of the cardamom pod.
  4. Once the roasted nuts cool down, take all the ingredients into the mixer-jar and run it on pulse mode till you get it together.
  5. If you don’t have pulse option in your grinder, run the mixture in intervals lasting only few seconds. Else, the mixture would turn into a nut butter. The oil released from the nuts would be optimum when pulsed at short bursts, helps getting the laddus in shape.
  6. Roll the mixture into balls between your palms. Delicious almond laddus are ready! Roll them in shredded coconut for mix of flavours or fine chopped almonds for the crunch.
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Almond laddus- didn’t need a drop of ghee! Natural almond oil was enough to roll the magic.

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Flaxseed Laddu| Flaxseed and Gram flour Fudge Balls

Ingredients:

½ cup Roasted Chana Dal (veyinchina sengapappu/chutney senagapappu/bengal gram dal)

¼ cup Roasted Flax seeds

¼ cup Jaggery ( Bellam/gud)

2 pods Cardamom Seeds

3tbsp Ghee

Procedure:

  1. Roast chana dal and flax seeds on slow flame till you get the roasted fragrance and slight change in colour.
  2. Grate the jaggery.
  3. Take the roasted chana dal and flax seeds at room temperature and powder them using the grinder.
  4. Add cardamom seeds, jaggery and ghee to the jar and give it a pulse.
  5. Roll the mixture into laddus between your palms. Unlike most of the laddus, you don’t need the extra splash of ghee on your palms to roll them.  Add a bit of ghee only when the mixture doesn’t bind well into a round shape.

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And that’s it! SEE how simple these are to make! Make new batches every Sunday and stash them in the fridge to keep them fresh. It’s a crowd-pleaser – from children to adults. 

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Note: Diabetics and people who are recommended to avoid sugar and jaggery for medical reasons, please avoid this sweet. Plain nuts or powdered almond meal or flaxseed meal can be mixed with your rotis (Indian flat bread) or you could make chutney powder or add them in dips.

Vankaya Pachi Pulusu Recipe| Fasting recipe |Indian Style Eggplant Salsa| Instant Roasted Eggplant recipe| 15min recipe| Andhra Style Festive Recipe

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Some days, we devour for the most simplest recipes with almost no cooking involved. This is such one absolute beaut. Roasted brinjals are quite famous for making Bhartha. Today’s recipe uses roasted eggplants in the simplest way. A sweet and sour dip style curry with a hint of chillies, this makes the best companion for the lazy days!

Ingredients:

200 gm White Brinjals (5-6 no.  medium sized)

1/4cup Tamarind Extract (from lemon sized tamarind pulp)

2 nos. Green Chillies

2 tbsp Grated Jaggery

2 tbsp Chopped Onions

1tbsp Chopped Fresh Coriander Leaves

Salt to taste

Ghee (just enough to coat the brinjals)

Water (1/2 cup to 1 cup)

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Method:

  1. Wash and dry the brinjals. You could as well pat them dry with a cloth.
  2. Prick it with a fork on couple of places.
  3. Grease the brinjal with ghee and roast over low heat using the mesh pan or you can place them directly over the stove. Flip them to all sides, to make sure it gets cooked evenly. This might take 5- 10mins. (depends on the size of brinjals and the size of mesh pan).
  4. As they cool down, peel of the skin and mash the pulp with your hand or a fork.
  5. Take a bowl and add mashed brinjal pulp, grated jaggery, tamarind extract, green chillies, salt.Add half a cup to one cup of water and adjust the consistency of the salsa.
  6. Adjust the salt and top it up with fresh coriander leaves.
  7. Serve it with hot rice or steamed mung dal rice.

Ghee is often used in festive recipes. This is optional and you could avoid ghee while roasting eggplants. This recipe tastes well with white brinjals. It is usually paired up with steamed mung dal rice, called ‘Athesira Annam’ in Andhra region. This rice item is usually paired up with Vankaya Pachi Pulsu or eaten plain with a huge dollop of ghee. Simple and comforting food, all together!

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Notes:

  1. Charring green chillies is optional. Poke a hole and smear oil before roasting them. If you don’t poke a hole or make a small slit, the chilli would pop on the stove. Freshly chopped chillies could also be added.
  2. You can add tempering to the dip. Heat oil/ghee in a pan. Add the mustard seeds and let them splutter. Add the cumin seeds and urad dal and let the dal turn red. Add the red chillis, hing and curry leaves, fry for a few more seconds. Pour the tempering into the mashed up dip.
  3. You could add some roasted sesame seed powder for enhanced taste.

Easy Capsicum Curry with Yoghurt| Crunchy Capsicum and Curd Dip Recipe| Simple and Healthy Capsicum Curry in 5 minutes| Capsicum Raita with Tadka

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Light on the stomach, with almost no preparation time, I loved this dish when my friend’s mother introduced it to me a year back. Since then it has become my go to salad style dip along with rotis. Sautéing capsicums while making a curry changes its vibrant colour. Though this process gives a curry the delicious touch, I sometimes used to miss on the crunchiness of a capsicum and this recipe exactly works on retaining the crispy texture of this vegetable. With no masalas or grinding involved it can be done by anyone and finishes off in a jiffy.

 

Ingredients:

1 Cup Curd (Yoghurt)

¼ cup Chopped Capsicum

1 tbsp Chopped Chillies

1/2tbsp – 1 tbsp Oil (as per choice)

Salt – to taste

To temper:

1/8 tsp Mustard Seeds

¼ tsp Cumin Seeds (Jeera)

1/8 tsp Turmeric

Method:

  1. Whisk the curd and salt in a bowl with a fork. Whisking gives a smooth texture to the curd.
  2. Heat a small pan; add the oil and ingredients listed under tempering.
  3. As the seeds crackle, add the chopped chillies and capsicum and give it a good stir.
  4. Sautee capsicum bits for less than a minute and remove them from heat.
  5. Add it directly to the bowl of curd. Taste and adjust salt accordingly.

 

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I generally have it with rotis. But it goes well hot pulav or parathas too. At times, I relish it off as it is. All the raitas at home are made without any tempering added to them. So not sure if it can be called so. But, found this recipe under raitas by few bloggers. Whatever be the name, taste is what we all look for, right? 😀 By the way, one of them added an interesting additional paste made of coconut and sesame seeds into the curd. Try making it and let me know how you liked it. Also, share if you prepare it in a different style.

Note:

  • If you prefer, you could mix a pinch or two of dried gooseberry (amla) or mango powder (amchur) in the curd.
  • Fresher curd gives the best taste

Raju Gari Kodi Pulav Recipe| Recipe of Indian Chicken Pulav | Simple Recipe for Chicken Pulav| Andhra Special Pulav| Delicious Pulav Recipe

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Sundays used to be so synonymous with biryanis and pulavs during childhood. Growing up, living in hostels and working away from home, this synonymy took a back seat. It has become haphazard and started depending on whatever the whimsical palate fancies upon. Either way, there is always a wave of excitement around food. Especially around biryanis and pulavs. Any menu on a festive occasion or a party falls incomplete without them. Bading goodbye to the scorching summer, now is the time to pick up the spices and cook some warm pots of pulav and biryani. After tasting the delicious Maharaja Biryani Platter at Yuktha, couldn’t wait to make some spicy rice item at home.

Raju gari Kodi Pulav is a dish you would be suggested to try when someone asks for a delicious biryani-pulav in Hyderabad. It’s a signature dish of Ulavacharu and Kitchen of Kuchipudi. I haven’t visited this place yet but have heard so much about it and when I found a cookery show video with its owner-chef, Mr. Kuchipudi Venkat, I couldn’t wait to give it a try. The measurements mentioned are approximate in the video. So, I worked up on rough calculations and the dish came out so well. Couldn’t believe myself going for a second serving of this pulav! I usually prefer those pristine white shaded fried rice items (Not a fan of the mashed up Indo-Chinese versions) to biryani/pulav.

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Ingredients:

Basmati rice – 2 cups

300-350 gms Boneless Chicken

2tbsp Ghee

2tbsp cooking oil

3 tbsp green chilli paste

1 tbsp ginger garlic paste

2 medium sized onions, sliced

2tbsp brown onion paste

½ cup Curd

1 cup milk

1 cup – chopped mint leaves (tightly packed)

½ tbsp – home made garam masala powder

1 tsp – coriander powder

3 – 4 cups of Water

Salt – as per taste

Cashews – as required

Chopped coriander – 1 cup ( I haven’t added here)

Whole Garam Masala:

1 tbsp Shajeera

3 Bay Leaves

2 inch Cinnamon

10 Green cardamoms

20 Cloves

1 Black Cardamom

1 Marathi Mogga/ Indian Capers

Brown Onion Paste:

1 large size onion

¼ cup oil

Method:

  1. a) Brown Onion Paste:

Slice onion and sautee it in oil. Cool down and grind it into smooth paste. This gave me  2tbsp of paste.

b)

  1. Wash and soak the rice in two cups of water.
  2. Wash and keep the chicken aside. I personally rest chicken chunks in turmeric water for 5 min and rinse them finally.
  3. If the pieces you have are large, cut into small pieces. Since we are not marinating chicken, smaller sized pieces ensure that meat is cooked uniformly.
  4. Take a pressure cooker and add ghee, oil to it. ( I used a 5 litre pressure cooker pan)
  5. Once the oil-ghee heats up, add the whole garam masala.
  6. Scoop in the ginger garlic paste and after a minute add in the green chilli paste. Sautee till on medium heat till the raw flavour is out. This takes around 2 -3 minutes at the maximum.
  7. Add in sliced onions and saute them till translucent.
  8. Mix the curd and brown onion paste and add it to the pan.
  9. As it picks up heat, add the chicken pieces on high flame. Ensure you switch to high flame when the chicken is added.
  10. Pop in the chopped mint. This is the time to add in the chopped coriander. I didn’t have it today. Hence omitted.
  11. Put in the salt. Taste and adjust accordingly.
  12. Add the milk.
  13. As it heats up, sprinkle the garam masala and mix well.
  14. Add water and let it come to boil ( I added 1 ½ cups of water as the basmati rice completely absorbed the water it is soaked in)
  15. Now, add the rice and any extra ghee if you want. Stir it well and add salt and spice powders if required.
  16. Close the cooker and cook for 2-3 whistles.
  17. Serve it hot with raita/boiled egg/salan.

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I was too lazy to make salan or decorate it. So savoured it with slightly roasted boiled egg. Heat a teaspoon of oil in a small pan and roast the boiled egg uniformly on all sides. Sprinkled a pinch of salt, red chilli powder and few curry leaves on the egg. And remove it from the heat. Gotta see how this method would work for a vegetarian version.

Try and and let me know how you liked it.

Happy Cooking!

 

Note:

  • Be careful with rice water ratio. Adjust the water ratio according to your experience with rice variety you use. This pulav has a sticky texture when compared to others. I think the rich fats from ghee, milk, curd contribute to this.
  • Yes, the recipe doesn’t use red chilli powder or turmeric.
  • The amount of green chilli paste and garam masala powder depends upon how hot your chillies or masala is. So, adjust accordingly.
  • I have used homemade garam masala which has relatively less amounts of coriander. Hence, added it separately.  

 

Stuffed Pointed Gourd Curry Recipe| Gram flour masala mix with Potols| How to make stuffed Parwals

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Tug of wars are never easy, especially when they happen inside our brains. Today it was between the eagerness to watch the season finale episode of the HBO’s TV Series, GOT (Game of Thrones) and dishing out Parwals. It’s tough to mute the series buff in the head, but once I got to cooking, I completely forgot about the episode. Restraining from some indulgences, do pay off well at the end of the day. Here, in the form of a tasty curry.

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Let me brief you about Parwals. Also known as, Potols in Andhra region, these are oval shaped summer vegetables from the family of cucumbers. My introduction to this vegetable happened few years back in a vegetable shop near my home in Hyderabad. Each visit to a vegetable shop or farmer’s market or a super mart, my head veers in all directions possible for interesting finds. It’s like a kid’s fetish for a new toy or that of gadgets or clothes as an adult. I found these vegetables in a tray filled with water. At first, I mistook them as an unknown variant of Dondakaya (Tindora). Found out its name and basic recipes using it from a fellow shopper then. I tried my hands to make Potato Parwal fry, which took a lot of time. Their skin is so hard that a simple fry would definitely take more time. Not ideal dish to make when you are short on time. Todays’ recipe is extremely simple in execution. Couldn’t recollect the source of this recipe, but the method is so simple, so went ahead with spices as per my taste. All you have to do is make a simple masala mix, stuff it into the Parwals, shallow fry them! Tying the stuffed parwal is so fun! While you wait for them to cook on stove, enjoy the smell of the roasted parwal in the kitchen, aaha, tempting!

Ingredients:

Parwals – 6 (Medium sized)

1 tbsp – oil

Masala Mix:

½ cup  besan/ gram flour /senagapindi

1 tbsp  ginger garlic paste

1 tsp  fennel powder

½ tbsp coriander powder

½ tsp cumin powder

¼ tsp turmeric powder

½ tbsp chilli powder

2 tbsp oil

Salt as required (I used ½ a tsp)

1 tbsp (approx)   water

Method:

  • Wash and chop the stalks on either side of parwal.
  • Make a longitudinal slit on one side. Remove the pulp if the seeds are too hard.
  • Take all spice powders mentioned in the masala along with the oil and mix well.
  • Stuff the parwals with this masala. Tie the parwals with a thread. This ensures that the masala doesn’t get out of the veggies.

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  • Put oil in a frying pan and once the oil heats up, place the veggies in it.
  • Cook covered in low heat for 5-6 minutes.
  • Now, open the lid of the pan and turn with tongs and cook on low flame for 5 minutes covered.
  • Keep an eye on the pan in between so that it doesn’t get burn.
  • If the skin of veggies is too hard, add a spoon of water.

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With closed lid, the masala inside the vegetable steams up and gets a unique taste. I like to consume these stuffed parwal as it is with rice. You can also make gravy alongside these stuffed veggies. They are delicious to eat as a snack too!