Sabudana Khichdi- Savoury Tapioca

As most of you already know, spices are a highlight, almost a centerpiece of my culinary adventures.I find myself distorted when I have to make a meal without spices.Luckily enough, as destiny had it,I got married to P who is a big lover of spicy food too.We both share a fathomless love for all spicy things.No meal for us is complete without a dollop of hot indian pickle or chutney.

But,when it comes to breakfast, we like to keep it simple,mildly spiced or sweet most of the times.It is one of those few things which matches between our tastebuds.Generally, weekends are when I whip up something special,that is when we are not eating at iHOP.At home too, I prefer making pancakes or french toast mainly because if not those items,P will skip breakfast.To break the league from those sweet breakfasts and casseroles for brunch,I made this mild spiced sabudana khichdi this weekend.It took me by a storm of surprise when P gobbled up a full bowl of it without uttering a single word.

After he finished his bowl, I gazed at him in astonishment to which he replied that “it” was something addictive! Well if I may say so myself, this tapioca preparation is addictive.”Sabudana” is hindi for tapioca and “khichdi” is a generic term used in India for any kind of comfort food prepared with lentils, rice, grains, vegetables and/or nuts thrown all together.My mom used to make this dish with lots of vegetables, nuts and dryfruits.She usually made this during the fasting days when Hindus follow refrain from grains and meat.But otherwise too, it makes for a healthy brunch or snack.Its sort of a symphony of textures in your mouth-nutty, salty, sweet from the dry fruits and gooey from the starches.All in all keeps your belly happy!I make it quite often when I want something quick and light.I found these bunch of grape tomatoes the other day at farmers market and they tasted perfect & little sweet in here though mom always used chopped, sour tomatoes.

Now,coming to the art of tapioca soaking.It took me a while to learn this.As you all know, tapioca is a kind of starch, so if not soaked or cooked properly, it can become a sticky, jelly like within minutes of heating.This doesnt matter much if you are making a pudding but for dishes like this,care has to be taken.If your tapioca is soaked properly, it wont even need 30 seconds to cook- trust me on this one.And if your tapioca is not soaked properly no matter how much you cook it, it will remain chewy and eventually stick to your gums. I m writing my way of dealing with tapioca to prevent that,I hope it will be helpful.I would request if any of you have something to share on your tapioca experience, please do.

Ingredients: [Serves 2-3]

Printable Recipe

  • 3/4 cup tapioca pearls [sabudana]
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 large boiled potato, peeled & cubed
  • 6-8 grape tomatoes, halves [or 1/4 cup chopped tomatoes]
  • 1/4 cup peanuts, lightly toasted [substitute with any other toasted nuts you like]
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 green chilli, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • Handful of chopped apricots & golden raisins
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice [adjust to taste]
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 tbsp canola oil
  • Chopped cilantro
Soaking Tapioca
Wash and soak the tapioca pearls in 1 cup of water for 30 minutes.After soaking, drain the pearls through a sieve and discard water.Let the sieve rest on top of a big bowl and cover the sieve with a damp paper towel or cloth.Let sit like this for 6 hours.After every hour or so, check and sprinkle water over tapioca.The idea is so keep the pearls moistened, not dunk them in water as they slowly absorb water and plump up.Keep the clot wet too.
Method
  • In a wide-mouthed, heavy bottomed pot, heat the oil over medium heat.
  • Once the oil starts slightly smoking, add the cumin seeds and let them crackle.
  • Next add the boiled, cubed potatoes and saute them for 5 minutes till they do not change color but start to crisp.
  • Next add the chopped tomatoes, chilli powder and chopped chilli and saute for 3-4 minutes more.
  • Add the toasted peanuts, dry fruits and saute for another 1-2 minutes.

  • Add the soaked tapioca pearls along with salt and chopped cilantro next.Immediately remove from heat.The heat from the pot is enough to cook up the tapioca.This step is important to ensure that the pearls do not stick to each other.The more you cook the pearls over heat, the more translucent and sticky they become.
  • Squirt fresh lemon juice over the tapioca and serve warm.
Enjoy!

Indian Spiced Peas(Chuki Matar)& Masala Chai

 

 

 

 

Spiced Peas/Chuki Matar

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups fresh/frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup sliced onions
  • 3 tbsp fresh ginger julians
  • 2 green chillies. thinly cut
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice [adjust to taste or substitute with dry mango powder [amchoor]]

How I did it:

  • In a pan, heat up the oil on medium heat.
  • Once heated, temper the oil with cumin seeds and wait for them to crackle.
  • Add the sliced onions to the pan and let the onions saute till transculent.Dont brown them.
  • Next, add the chopped green chilies and ginger julians and cook for 3-4 minutes.
  • Add the peas, red chilli powder, cover the lid and let the peas steam till they are cooked but not mushy.
  • Once tender, open the lid,add salt and garam masala and stir fry on high heat for 5-7 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and add the fresh lime juice and serve warm with masala chai

Masala Chai

Ingredients

  • 1 tea bag per cup (or 1 tsp of black tea leaves/cup)
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1-2 fresh tulsi leaves [holy basil leaves if available] NOTE:Holy basil is totally different from Thai or Italian basil.
  • 1 cup of water
  • ½ cup of warm milk
  • ¼ tsp chai masala powder
  • sugar to taste

Masala/Spice Mix  [Makes 1 cup masala]

  • 1/4 cup cinnamon sticks, broken into small pieces
  • 2 tbsp cloves
  • 1/4 cups whole black peppercorns
  • 1/4 cups green cardamom
  • 2 green cardamom
  • 1/4 cup mace, broken into small pieces
  • 1/2 nutmeg, grated

How I did it

  • Fine grind all the ingredients under the head “Masala/Spice Mix”.Store this spice mix in an air tight container in a dry place.This lasts for 2-3 years.
  • To make the masala chai:In a saucepan, add the water along with ginger and tulsi leaves[if using] and let come to a boil.After 2-3 minutes, add tea bag or tea leaves. Let  brew for 2-3 minutes.Next, add “masala” and milk and let it again come to a boil.Reduce the heat to a low simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes.Strain and serve with sugar (or sweetener).

Enjoy!

Sending this to Meatless Mondays and Hearth n Soul #32

Sending this to It’s a keeper Thursday

Fusion Food:Fish Salad with an Indian twist

Somehow,whenever I am in kitchen,my indian roots always influence the recipes I cook in there.Infact, whatever cuisine may be,I can’t stop my hands from using indian spices and techniques.Its kind of funny sometimes when I add kashmiri red chilli powder to sandwich spreads for that tang or I fry italian zucchini coated in besan [chickpea flour] or add a pinch of turmeric to japanese tempura or garam masala to chinese sauces [yes I do it :)] or add fennel seeds to pancake mixture!And the best part is that all such antics are undelibrate and come very naturally.As a habit I tend to reach the masaldaan [indian spice box] and do such weird things!!! I think this is how it was born when some adventurous cooks while trying to suit the food to their palate came up with the middle path ..the fusion cooking!! It’s the ‘thing’ these days and unknowingly it comes to each one of us!

The other day my mexican neighbour said that authentic mexican food is “rare” in USA and they hardly eat it outside their home.Quite surprisingly,I like that stuff which she called unauthentic!She said that all the sour creams, grated cheddar and lettuce are american additions to tacos.Infact, I also feel similar when I go to Indian restaurants out here…I would not say that they are unauthentic but the food served isn’t traditional Indian food!! Anyways …to each its own..I enjoy the american chinese,american mexican and even americanized indian food at some point or the other!So for me “fusion “food rocks!

Coming back to the salad this is how it started…the evenings are chilly now, I wanted to make fried fish for long time, but was putting it off coz I was scared :) of the calories that will come with deep-frying!! I was looking for healthy but high on taste options when the other day I saw Ina Garten coating her pink salmon steak with bread crumbs and pan searing the fish in 2 tablespoons of hot oil. With this basic idea in mind, I tried making this salad.

Its one of the most satisfying and healthy salads I have made at home till date.It evolved as I was making it.Flaky fish marinated in Indian spices coated with homemade garlic-cilantro bread crumbs, pan cooked and combined with sweet green lettuce and a drizzle of lemony dressing…Viola….seafood can’t get better than this!!! I cant have my fish without ginger so I have used it freely.However mellow it down as per your taste.Very nice brunch option indeed!

What I need:

  • 2 boneless,skinless tilapia fillets [or any flaky white fish]
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp yellow mustard paste
  • 2 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 2 cups shredded green leaf lettuce
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp ginger julians [optional]
  • 2 tbsp oil

For homemade bread crumbs:

  • 2 white bread slices
  • 1 garlic
  • 2 tbsp cilantro leaves

For the dressing:

  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp red chili flakes
  • salt to taste

How I did it:

  • Marinate the fish fillets with lemon juice, mustard,turmeric, chilli powder , grated ginger & salt for half and hour.
  • In a food processor, pulse the bread slices, garlic and cilantro leaves till everything becomes crumb-like. Set aside.
  • Once marinated, using a sharp knife, cube the fish fillets into 1″ pieces.

  • In a pan , heat the oil on medium high. Throw the fish cubes over the bed of the bread crumbs and then into the hot oil.Cook the fish cubes in the oil on all sides till light brown in color. Drain the cubes on a paper towel.Set aside.
  • In a small bowl mix the ingredients of dressing.
  • Assembling the salad: In a big bowl, add the shredded lettuce, chopped onions & tomatoes and ginger julians [if using].Drizzle over the dressing and toss.
  • Serve warm.

Enjoy!!

Sending this to Deb’s Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays & Anyone can cook series#3 at Taste of Pearl City.

 

Tandoori Chicken

This is one dish which does not need any introduction.The most popular dish from the Indian subcontinent which is relished the world over. Tandoori chicken is known for its vibrant orange color, the aromatic spices and the tender texture of chicken. Not a very difficult dish to prepare, I make this almost twice every month.The chicken can be marinated a day in advance and can be roasted, broiled or grilled just before serving.My husband calls it my signature dish :)…I think husbands are really too smart at times…over a period of time they catch your most sensitive nerve and use it…what say ladies??

The catch in this dish is in the spice blends  and the time of marination.The longer you marinate,the better the flavors are. Marinating the chicken in yogurt along with a lots of spices & then slowly cooking in an evenly distributed temperature, makes it aromatic & tender on inside and the high temperatures of the oven /grill give it a crispy texture outside.The grilled option also infuses a smokiness which makes the flavor almost similar to the tandoor cooked version.Even fish or paneer [Indian cottage cheese] can be marinated in this base and then cooked. Since I do not own a tandoor, I normally use my broiler to cook the chicken and it comes out wonderful every time.

I started making this dish after coming to the states.In India there is no need…it is available in every nook and corner of any city! The first time I made it I used the orange food color because I was trying to make it appear restaurant like :) But after that I stopped using food color and lived with it.

What I need:

[Adapted from here]

  • 1.5 lb skinless chicken drumsticks [bone in works best]
  • 1 tbsp canola oil for brushing
  • Slices of  red (Spanish) onion, tomato and lemon, for garnish [optional]

For the Tandoori Paste/Marinade:

  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice [preferably freshly squeezed]
  • 2 tsp Red chili powder [or Cayenne powder ](as per taste)
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1.5 tsp dry coriander powder
  • 1.5 tsp fresh garlic paste
  • 1.5 tsp fresh ginger paste
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp dry fenugreek leaves [kasuri methi, available at indian stores]
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Salt to taste
  • Few drops of orange food color [optional]

Note: This tandoori paste is readily available in indian grocery stores under the name “Tandoori Masala”.You can also buy it instead of preparing at home.

How I do it:

  • Wash the chicken pieces thoroughly & pat dry with a paper towel.
  • Make incisions with a sharp knife on thick parts of the chicken pieces deep enough to reach the bone.
  • Apply a mixture one tablespoon lemon juice and salt over the chicken and set aside for half an hour.
  • For the marinade, tie up yogurt in a piece of muslin /cheese cloth and hang over a bowl for fifteen to twenty minutes.
  • Remove the thick yogurt into another bowl. Beat the yogurt for about 2 minutes to remove all lumps .Add the remaining ingredients of the marinade to the yogurt and mix well.
  • Rub this marinade over the chicken pieces.Put the chicken pieces and marinade in a bowl ,cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and marinate overnight or for at least 6-7 hours in a refrigerator.
  • For cooking , you can do any one of the following:
  1. This is what I do: Preheat the oven at 450 F broiler mode.Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and arrange the chicken pieces on it.Brush the marinated chicken pieces with oil/butter. Tip the sheet inside the oven on top rack and cook for about 22-25 minutes flipping it after 15 minutes till chicken is done but still tender.You may get some burnt marks on the chicken but that’s okay! If you want smoky flavor, do this : After the chicken is done,take a small bowl and light a little piece of charcoal in it.Tranfer the chicken to a big bowl and in between,place the small bowl with charcoal and cover with a aluminium foil for about 5 minutes.This will infuse the chicken with smoky flavor.Be very careful doing this.Take care that there should be no vivible flame on the charcoal piece,only fumes!
  2. Grill and cook the chicken for 2o minutes till done and but still tender.
  3. Bake it in the oven for 25-30 minutes at 400 F,turning and basting with oil.
  • Pierce the chicken with toothpick/fork to check if it is done.
  • Serve with mint & coriander chutney, onion rings, lemon wedges and  sliced tomatoes. You can sprinkle some chaat masala also if you want.

Cool Tips:

  1. The time and temperatures to cook the chicken depends entirely on the size /type [boneless/bone-in] of the chicken pieces, and the type of oven used. So, it varies. You have to keep a check on the chicken to make sure you do not burn it or do not under-cook it.
  2. It is important to season the chicken thoroughly with salt.If you feel that the salt is slightly more in the marinade , don’t worry because with the cooked chicken it will taste just fine.
  3. You can also use the same recipe for cooking whole chicken.In that case, adjust the marinade quantity accordingly and it will take about 30-45 minutes to cook on all sides.
  4. Reserve left over tandoori paste/marinade and use it to make tandoori fish, paneer [indian cottage cheese] or baked vegetables.
  5. You can even reserve the drippings in the baking tray to add to sauces and curries.

Enjoy!

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