Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Punjab di Shaan - Maa Choleyaan' di Daal - My contribution to RCI - Punjab

9:27 pm showed the digital band on my wrist, give or take a few seconds!
I looked up to see some one in a black over flowing robe with a wand in hand and a huge cone shaped hat, or so I thought!

I'm imagining things I muttered and went back to my reading. Well, it was not the first time I traversed the ether into yet unbeknownst land, all while deeply engrossed in a book a-la 'Alice in Wonderland'!
Only to be interrupted again by the Barnes & Noble intercom 'Call for Molly, line 2'.

I looked up and this time I saw a flood of kiddos' dressed up in pitch black costumes scurrying along to get into a queue, there was a fleck of color or two, the most obvious being a pair of twins in blue with matching blue hats and a pretty gal in a fluorescent green gown. Everyone seemed to be guessing what the other was dressed up as, needless to say they knew every character rather well! They were all well prepared for the best 'dressed in character' competition!
It was then that it dawned upon me that it was Friday, THE day of the book release, yes Harry Potter!
Now, if you had read my meme you would know, I like to observe people, and people there were, in plenty, in hordes. I had already had my delicious meal of the Daal in question, so I decided to stay a little longer and enjoy the excitement in the air.
A couple of characters I was familiar with, having seen the movies, but the queue of participants far exceeded my exposure in the field. I watched as the young & the old alike came to the stage, did their thing and the judge, dressed in a costume herself belted out some words in a tongue familiar to the contestants :)
Mind you, not all were participating. Moving further along in the mall, I saw people putting up tent for the next few hours, comfortably resting on mats or beach chairs. Well, they had to wait until 12:01 am before they could get their hands on this phenomenon of a book! Some families were playing cards, while others enjoying ice cream and popcorn. It seemed like a joyous family outing. The coffee shop did a brisk business, I too got into the act and bought myself a carrot cake for no apparent rhyme or reason ;)



Anyway coming back to the Daal in question, it is one of my most beloved daals -
Maa Choleyaan' di Daal!


I wanted to bring something from the wonderful fields of Punjab for this event, something that is cooked in the homes and left untouched and unadulterated by restaurant bulk productions :)

This particular combination of dals brings out the best flavor and creamy texture within a shorter period of time as compared to the classic Maa' di Daal aka Dal Makhani!

Maa is whole Urad daal, we use split Urad daal with skin for this preparation.
Choleyaan' di dal in this context is Chana dal (split gram dal).
Try this dal once and I promise you will want to go back to this dal again and again.
This recipe is one of my treasured recipes and I would like to share it with all of you :)

The earthy taste of this dal is absolutely addictive, primarily brought out by the creaminess from chana dal melting into the pot as you cook it. This is one of those dals that DOES NOT require additions like cream and meva(cashews/almonds) to enhance its taste, it is delicious on it's own.
Can you see I am enamoured by this dal :)

Maa Choleyaan' Di Daal
3/4 cup split urad dal with skin (Maa)
1/4 cup chana dal (chole dal)
1 onion finely sliced
1 big juicy tomato chopped
2 green chili chopped
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp garlic paste
2 tbsp ghee (use as per your dietary constraints)
Cumin seeds, hing(asafoetida), 1 dry red chili(optional), 2 bay leaves,
a piece of cinnamon (optional, but then the love affair between chana dal & cinnamon is legendary, not putting it will be akin to separating Heer from Ranjha or Laila from Majnu or...... :) )
1 tbsp coriander seed powder
tumeric powder
1/2 tsp red chili powder
garam masala (as per taste, but not more than 2 pinches)
1 tsp kasuri methi (CAUTION: dried methi is potent, a little goes a long way)

1. Wash dals very well. I like to soak my dals for a few hours, just b'coz my mom does it & mom's are always right :) But you can do it without the soaking too, if you are short on time.

2. Cook them till done. I pressure cook them.

3. Heat ghee. Add cumin seeds, hing & red chili, cinnamon & bay leaves. Let splutter. Add onion and fry till golden brown. Add ginger garlic paste & green chili, fry a few seconds. Add tomato, all masala powders and kasuri methi. Fry till tomatoes start breaking down.

4. Add boiled dals and simmer a few minutes till chana dal creates a creamy texture. Adjust consistency as per your liking. Add garam masala if using. DO NOT garnish with coriander leaves, it will clash with the flavor of kasuri methi.

5. You can enjoy this velvet dal with anything like naan, chapati, rice OR nothing at all, just on it's own :) My sis loves it with bread ;)

This is my contribution to RCI-Punjab.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Care To Guess? AND Some Instant Goodies For You To Savor

Care to guess? What do you think the above picture is all about :)

Update: Time for the results :) I made this Fig pudding inspired by Sig's Date/Pecan pudding. I did not add any nuts. The Figs combined with cardamom powder, set in gelatin and then cut into blocks, ain't it pretty :) Congratulations to Sig, Priyanka & Shilpa for their winning guesses :)

My repertoire of pickles is limited, so to speak! If a pickle is served to me, I eat it, but I've never gone out and bought a bottle of pickle myself. I do make a couple of instant pickles, but then they are more of vegetables in some pickle spice and are to be consumed within a few days!

Well, when I saw this recipe in Nupur's blog, I liked the idea of a quick pickle and it was more of a way to include carrots in the diet :)
Carrot Pickle
3 large carrots cut into matchsticks
1 clove garlic, sliced
1 tsp powdered methi(fenugreek) seeds
1 tsp salt
1tsp red chili powder1 tsp turmeric powder
juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp oil
Tadka:mustard seeds, hing(asafoetida)
Mix all ingredients except tadka & oil.
Heat oil, add mustard seeds & hing, add to the mix.
Microwave for 1 minute.
Stand 15 minutes and refrigerate.
Keep refrigerated & consume within 4 days.

I also made Mint powder and Curry Leaves powder from Archana's blog.
They turned out great and are so good sprinkled in raita's etc.
Wash the mint leaves and curry leaves very well, wipe them dry.
Microwave for 2-3 minutes and crush.
Tadaa! that's it :)
Enjoy aromatic leaf powders.
Thanks Archana & Nupur for these wonderful quick treats!
Thia is my contribution to coffee's MBP-Preserves.
REMINDER: 25th July is the last date for submitting your entries for RCI-Punjab!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Paneer & Mixed Veg in Creamy Gravy & a MeMe

I'm so excited since I saw my recipe mentioned in one of the most beautiful websites, The Travellers LunchBox, just wanted to share this exciting news with my blogger buddies!

It made my day :) After all it is all about me, me, me... believe me when I say I was never so vain ;)
If you have not yet checked out this website, please do so, even if only to ogle at the luscious pictures!!

I've been tagged by my buddy Sig of Live To Eat fame for 7 random facts MeMe. Though I can never figure out what to write in these meme's, here are some random facts about me that I could think of real quick :)
1. I'm very fond of stand up comedy. Have spent many a late night watching stand up comedy on HBO and can never get enough of it. Such is my obsession with it that I've setup my morning alarm to one of the funny comedians, eddie izzard, I wake up to the sound of 'cake or death...', if you know what i mean ;) ......
2. I've always been very fond of the stage! Loved to watch all the different plays back home and was lucky to get to watch some well known artists perform. This fondness continues and one of my summer hangouts is watching musicals, be it Broadway or local theaters.


3. A couple of winters back, it took me SIX hours to drive back home from work during a snow storm, usually it's a 35 minute drive! I was scared and frustrated, I think it has put me off snow for good :(
4. Love to read, non-fiction only, please! I believe in mind over matter and am amazed at the inspiration drawn by current authors from our ancient books. I also love to read & re-read books on nutrition & food pairing/combination, not sure how much I incorporate though :) Got the reading habit from my dad, the only thing he buys when he travels anywhere in the world are books! He has a huge library back home and currently he is writing a book. I also have a fascination with learning different languages.
5. I like to observe people. When waiting for food in a restaurant I'll be busy observing people and drawing my own conclusions, while others on the table are getting impatient for food ;) I've to be reminded to finish my food and stop gazing at the other tables :)
6. I'm very fond of coriander chutney and mint chutney :) Though it takes me a minute to grind the chutney, it takes me a long long time to clean the greens! I'm embarrassed at the water wastage when making this chutney. Somehow I never seem to get them clean enough, luckily for me, this OCD is limited to the greens only :)
7. I'm very protective of my kid sis (who is not a kid anymore, but..). She laughs it off saying that in spite of being so far away I manage to keep a tab on her every moment ;)
I now tag Archana, The Cooker, Sia, Tee , Shilpa and Sunita. Please feel free to play only if you have the time & the inclination, no pressure there :)


And now for the Recipe Of The Day - Paneer & Mixed Vegetables in Creamy Gravy!


I make this delicious dish when I'm looking for a change from the usual tomato gravy. This is a quick dish, no grinding of any kind involved :)


2 cups chopped vegetables ( I use carrots, red bell pepper, peas, beans, cauliflower)

1/2 cup paneer, chopped

1/2 onion, sliced

1/2 cup milk/cream/half n' half/evaporated milk (adjust as per gravy requirement)

(use any ONE of the above as per your diet constraints, needless to say cream tastes the best)

1 tsp ginger paste

1 tsp minced green chili

2 tbsp oil

Tadka: 1/2 tsp jeera(cumin seeds), hing(asafoetida), 1 bay leaf, 1 small piece cinnamon

1 tbsp coriander seed powder,

pinch turmeric,

1/2 tsp garam masala,

1/2 tsp chili powder(optional)



1. Heat oil, add jeera, hing, bay leaf, cinnamon. Add onion & fry a few minutes. Add ginger paste, chili paste, coriander seed powder, turmeric, red chili powder (if using) and fry for a few seconds, add a few tbsp water if the powders starts sticking to the pan.


2. Add chopped vegetables and salt, cover and cook till done, but still crunchy. You might need to add some water to cook the vegetables.


3. Add paneer. (You can fry the paneer and add, I do not). Add milk/cream and garam masala. Simmer a few minutes and garnish with coriander leaves.

A quick delicious dish is ready in a hurry!!


Enjoy Paneer & Mixed Veg with Paratha/naan or Pulav.



Cashew and raisins can be added to the tadka to make it richer :)

To save time you can steam the vegetables and add to the tadka.

If using just milk, a thickener like cashew powder, khus khus powder, maida etc may be used as per taste.

You can pretty much use any combination of vegetables, just carrot, peas & paneer tastes good as well!


Friday, July 6, 2007

My Summer Bounty ........

Here is a peek at my Summer Bounty from my Kitchen Garden!

Can you guess what beautiful vegetable will emerge from this?

One more glimpse for you to guess

Bell Pepper waiting to turn RED

Eggplant ready to be plucked, I made sambar from the first harvest :)

Cucumber, getting there..................

Roma Tomatoes, Basking in the sun.....

Mint, ready to spread it's wings...

When shall I see thou? Cantaloupe

Okra, stuffed okra? may be Bhindi Alu? or will it be Bhindi-do-Pyaza :)