Categories
Desserts Easy Recipes Festival Recipes Gluten Free Indian Streetfood Rice Dishes Vegetarian

Zarda – Sweet Saffron Rice

Sinfully Spicy : Zarda /Meethe Chawal , Sweet Saffron RiceA little while away, I got this immense craving to gorge on these sweet saffron rice. It was sparked by the sticky rice pudding that we relished a night before that day. Usually, if you follow me on Instagram or here on the blog, you would have noticed that there is more savory than sweet in my feed. I had this huge sweet tooth in my teens, but somehow it faded away as I grew older. There are certain things I enjoy, a delicious chunk of homemade gulab jamun and a moist slice of butter cake, but usually sugar doesn’t get me too too excited. Only when there is a good enough reason to make them, I retort towards making desserts at home. Buying a single serve slice from our favorite bakery almost always seems to be a superior option than baking and frosting a whole 9 inch round which will then lurk at me in the refrigerator for whole week. Its a bit too logical for some of you who swear by regular dessert making but that’s how I think.

Sinfully Spicy : Zarda /Meethe Chawal , Sweet Saffron RiceAnyhow, that same night, chatting over a Thai food takeout, we delved into discussing new year traditions growing up. My husband recollected coconut sweet balls & rice pudding, both made with palm jaggery, a typical in east indian homes and I could only think of my grandmother’s zarda, only about it. That night, I must have dreamed  about it. The little puffy, steamy bubbles that surface on the top layer when a pot of  basmati is slowly boiled, or of the sniff of saffron which after filling each nook and corner of our big kitchen reached out to those sitting in the verandah through two large, dark brown windows with green painted grille. Next morning this sweet saffron rice was the only thing I could think of. Out of nowhere, in the middle of summer, but I just had to recreate those memories.

Each year, every year at the dawn of the first day of the year, I woke up to a quiet house with busy kitchen. BadI mummy (my grandma) standing right infront of the stove, rice boiling on one side and aroma wafting through a pot of simmering whole milk to which cloves, cardamom and nutmeg had been added. These blonde looking rice, she remarked were an incoming of prosperity into the house. In those days, we lived in a joint family and with few guests added on the new year eve along with distribution to all house help, the quantity of zarda to be cooked would be thrice the amount than usual. Speckled with ground cardamom and streaks of strong-smelling kashmiri zaffran(saffron) all through it, a bowl of it was so delicious garnished with a handful of nuts or raisins. Much like today, in those days saffron was exuberantly priced, so it came to life in cooking a few dishes on special occasions only. New Years day was one.

Sinfully Spicy : Zarda /Meethe Chawal , Sweet Saffron RiceMy mom got me these little packs of saffron from India a couple of weeks back, a delicate virgin variety of this spice, it is sharp and strong. A few strands is what it took to turn rice into a golden looking treat. This recipe can be easily made vegan by using full fat coconut or cashew milk and substituting any neutral oil in place of ghee. Try using a long grain basmati rice and be watchful during cooking period for separated, fluffy grains. I have included a few notes in the recipe which will help making this sweet rice delicacy an easy task.

Sinfully Spicy : Zarda /Meethe Chawal , Sweet Saffron Rice

Ingredients (Serves 3-4)

  • 1 cup long grain basmati rice
  • 1 green cardamom, break open
  • 3-4 cups water to par boil the rice
  • 1 tablespoon ghee (substitute with coconut oil for vegan)
  • 1 cup whole milk (use unsweetened cashew/full fat coconut milk for vegan)
  • 3 tablespoon ghee (substitute with coconut oil for vegan)
  • 2-3 green cardamom, break open
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 heaping teaspoon good quality saffron
  • 1 generous pinch of fresh ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar (can go upto 1 cup)
  • 3 tablespoon roasted, unsalted nuts (almonds, pistachios, cashews) + more for garnish
  • 2 tablespoon golden raisins + more for garnish

Notes

  1. Use good quality spices in this recipe.
  2. Different varieties of saffron have different sharpness and strength. Adjust the quantity depending on the brand you are using.
  3. To make the zarda more rich, instead of using roasted nuts, you can fry them in a small pan in 1/2 tablespoon of ghee and add on top.

Method

Wash the rice under running stream of water 2-3 times until the water runs clear. Soak the rice for 45 minutes in enough water (add a green cardamom to it) required for parboiling. You can soak rice in the same pot that you will use for cooking.

Once the rice has soaked. Parboil the rice until 80% cooked (takes about 10 minutes).The cooking time will depend on quality of rice.  To check the rice, take a grain and press it between the index finger and thumb. The rice grain will we brittle (break easily) and you will feel & see hard whitish bits in the center of the grain. Once the rice has parboiled, immediately drain it and gently mix a tablespoon of melted ghee in the warm rice.

 While the rice is boiling, add milk, 3 tablespoon ghee, cardamom and clove to a small pot and set it to simmer on a medium low flame. Let milk simmer for 5-7 minutes on low heat and then put the stove off. Once the milk has cooled off a bit and is warm(not hot) to touch add sugar, saffron and nutmeg to it. Let sit.

In the same pot in which you parboiled the rice, add the warm spiced milk sugar mixture. Very gently add the drained rice to the milk. Add the nuts and raisins. Cover and let cook on medium low heat for 10-12 minutes until all the milk is absorbed and the rice is completely done. Put the stove off.

After 15-20 minutes of sitting, gently fluff the rice with the help a fork.Garnish with more nuts and raisins if you want.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Categories
Brunch Easy Recipes Gluten Free Indian Streetfood Indo Chinese Non vegetarian Rice Dishes Seafood Stir-fry

Indo Chinese Salmon Bowl for One

Sinfully Spicy - Indo Chinese Salmon Bowl for OneI adore seafood, as you might already be noticing on the blog and on my Instagram feed. Quite a few seafood dishes popping every other day! I seem to have inherited this love from both my parents. Growing up, unlike may north indian homes, fish and prawns formed an integral part of our meals.Right from purchasing the freshest catch to patiently cooking the bought, mom and dad made sure that through growing years, our taste buds acquired an afffinty for food from the sea . Even though fresh water fish is still more popular with my family members and going by the rules, it is not food from the “sea” but you know what I mean.

Continuing my desire to develop new ways of consuming fish,I am always on a look out for ideas.Talking about ideas, I have been eating this quick salmon bowl for lunch quite a lot these days. It is quick, healthy and does not leave you with that “heavy” feeling kind of meal. I could go for a jog after this, no kidding!

I have talked about Indo chinese flavors at length in so many of my previous post. Here,here and here. These two strong asian cuisines marry again and again inside my wok, always leaving me amazed at the robust flavor of the resulting dishes. We simply adore the flavors in our home, though strict foodies(without being at fault) will dismiss it away categorizing it as unauthentic.

Sinfully Spicy - Indo Chinese Salmon Bowl for One

When you are a foodie, you draw inspiration from anywhere and everywhere. When I visited my local asian store a couple of weeks back, I was drawn towards the teriyaki salmon bowls on display at their asian section. Tad overpriced at first look but then I notched forward and spotted big chunks of orange salmon glazed in a beautiful dark amber colored sauce, spliced with chilies and colorful , glossy vegetables on the side.The meal was indeed mouth watering and made complete sense. Immediately, the idea of playing with indo chinese crossed my mind. Grabbing my grocery bags in both hands, I yearned to get into my kitchen and stir up something. Sinfully Spicy - Indo Chinese Salmon Bowl for One This recipe came up on a whim.I did not even intend to post it but the colors looked so gorgeous once I plated that I took out the camera. It could be a great dinner option too. Just double the recipe for two people and if you have the time and inclination, stir up some vegetable fried rice. The aromatic indian spices, dashes of salty soy sauce & vinegar complement the rich fatty salmon in an excellent way along with the quick sweet tangy pickled vegetables which add that much-needed freshness in contrast to strong savory seasonings.

Sinfully Spicy - Indo Chinese Salmon Bowl for One

Printable Recipe

An easy recipe of salmon chunks stir fried with asian flavors. Use it as an outline and play around with the sauces/condiments used to suit your taste.

Ingredients

For the Salmon

  • 1 no 6oz to 8 oz salmon fillet
  • 1.5 teaspoon dark soy
  • 1 fat garlic, minced
  • 1-2 teaspoon white vinegar (adjust to taste)
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil (this is a strong-tasting oil, substitute with untoasted sesame oil or any neutral oil)
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 fat garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 small Thai green chili, minced (adjust to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander powder
  • Red chilli flakes to taste
  • 1.5 tablespoon Maggi chilli tomato sauce (or use 1 tablespoon tomato ketchup mixed with cayenne)
  • 1/4 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/4 teaspoon honey (or to taste)
  • salt to taste
  • fresh cilantro

Notes

  1. Add any kind of vegetables, scallions, bok choy etc to this recipe while cooking.
  2. You could add dashes of Sriracha or hot sauce for additional heat.

For the Pickled Vegetables

  • 3 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 Thai green chilli, minced
  • salt to taste
  • 2-3 radish, julienned
  • 1 small persian cucumber, julienned

For Serving

1/3 cup leftover steamed jasmine or plain rice (optional)

Method

Using a sharp knife, cut the salmon fillet in small cubes. In a bowl, transfer the cubes and mix the soy, minced garlic, vinegar and sesame oil with it. Let sit for 10 minutes.

While the salmon is marinating, proceed to make the pickled vegetables. In another bowl, mix up the vinegar, sugar, salt and minced green chili. Mix. Add the julienned vegetables and refrigerate.

In a pan or wok, heat up the canola oil to smoky. Immediately add the chopped shallot, garlic and ginger. Saute for 1-2 minutes till you smell a nice aroma. Add the coriander powder. Saute for 1 minutes. Then add the marinated salmon text along with . Stir fry the salmon on high for 3-4 minutes. They cook up fast so keep a close eye. Towards the last minute of cooking add the chill-tomato sauce,red chill flakes,garam masala, honey and adjust the salt. Also, check the tang from vinegar at the end of cooking. You can some more if you like. Sprinkle fresh cilantro.

Serve immediately alongside some leftover rice and pickled vegetables from the refrigerator.

Thanks for stopping by.

Stay Spicy!

 

Categories
Appetizers/Snacks Breakfast Brunch Easy Recipes Festival Recipes Gluten Free Indian Curry Indian Streetfood Rice Dishes Side Dishes Snacks Stir-fry vegan Vegetarian

Roasted Flattened Rice & Spiced Sweet Peas (Chivda-Matar)

Sinfully Spicy : Roasted Flattened Rice With Spiced Sweet Peas (Chivda Matar) #indianMany times, it really takes a beating to make favorite foods from childhood healthier. I don’t know. I always feel that childhood could absorb all that gluttony of sweets, fat and carbohydrates. Not that now my metabolism won’t permit, but my mind seriously watches goes into my system. When I was changing this recipe of fried chivda(flattened rice), a favorite snack from my years of growing up and an immensely popular street food in the northern parts of india,usually served in soiled newspaper cones, I wanted the flattened rice to make the same crackling cripsy sound between my teeth as it should  but did not want to sink it down in a pool of hot oil. I wanted that rich salty grease from it to drown my tastebuds and coat the roof of my palette but did not want to witness the flakes swimming and popping inside oil. Not really.

Sinfully Spicy : Roasted Flattened Rice With Spiced Sweet Peas (Chivda Matar) #indian

Sinfully Spicy : Roasted Flattened Rice With Spiced Sweet Peas (Chivda Matar) #indianYou know sometimes, you might feel that the close-to- perfect meals that you see on this blog are easy and I work wonders like michelin chefs in my home kitchen,but truth be told, on few days, there are bundles of failures and wastage (eeeks) associated with experimenting while cooking .It happens al the time with me, I dream of something and the reality of the finished dish is not so awesome. Anyhow,while I turned to my try-new-things idea, out came the cookie sheet and on the lines of making granola, I set out. I tossed the flattened rice in tablespoons of oil and actually used all the patience I could muster at that ungodly hour of the night to lay it in a single layer. I might have gone  a bit too far by actually trying to separate each and every rice flake from the other with help from chopsticks under the dim night kitchen lights. Hmm. Into a low oven for under half an hour and out came the baking sheet. My fears came to life when the rice did not look or smell up to the mark, not like I dreamt it to be. I would not categorize it as inedible but the long story short, the granola procedure failed me.The count of  beating went another notch up. Some other  time,I told myself and retired to bed.

Sinfully Spicy : Roasted Flattened Rice With Spiced Sweet Peas (Chivda Matar) #indianThen another day, in the bright of the noon, I took out the trusted cast iron skillet, heated oil to smoky and sizzled rice flakes in it and then with a lot more patience on my side, watchfully, slow roasted the chivda, stirring it continually with fork to a crispy goodness, sniffing it, observing how the toasted brown to a bowlful, one which crinkled in the mouth and coated the tastebuds with salty fat. I got it.

Sinfully Spicy : Roasted Flattened Rice With Spiced Sweet Peas (Chivda Matar) #indianWhen we were kids, 5 pm foods were the best.No jokes. From piping hot samosas and jalebi from the neighbourhood halwai (sweets vendor) or instant noodles from neon yellow pouches, curry puffs and puddings, fruit shakes to potato balls, it was real fun everyday to see mom, badi mummy(my grandma) and aunts cook up new things for us.This chivda (flattened rice) is one from those days. During the spring and early summer season, fresh peas were tossed in cumin and green chillies and served along side. The rustic, mish mash snack plate of sorts is a burst of textures – sweet, salty, smoky and hot. The chaat masala and bits of ginger combine with the sweetness of those peas to make up a pleasing bite. I could never get the same taste with frozen peas, you need to make this before the fresh pea season lasts. Whats more? Its gluten free, vegan and tad healthy. Go make some. Now.

Sinfully Spicy : Roasted Flattened Rice With Spiced Sweet Peas (Chivda Matar) #indian

 Printable Recipe

Both the components of this recipe can be done ahead. Roast the chivda (flattened rice) and store it in air tight jar for up to a week. I usually make the peas 3-4 hours ahead (they have better flavor if they sit for a while) and warm up later but you can totally make them when ready to serve.

Ingredients (Serves 4-5)

For the Roasted Chivda (Flattened Rice)

  • 4 tablespoons of oil
  • 2.5 cups thick poha (flattened rice, available in any indian/pakistani stores)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • Optional  – add any nuts or seeds of choice, peanuts, cashews, raisins, sunflower seeds etc

For the Spiced Peas

  • 10oz (about 280 grams) shelled fresh peas, blanched
  • 2 tablespoon oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onion (from 1 small onion)
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger (about 2.5″ piece of ginger)
  • 1/2 teaspoon roasted cumin powder
  • 2-3 Thai green chillies (or adjust to tolerance)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala 
  • salt to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon chaat masala (skip if you do not have, and add fresh lemon juice to taste)
  • 1.5 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (or to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro (from 4-5 stalks, optional)

Method

Roast the Chivda

In a wide, cast iron skillet (I use my 10″) , heat up the oil to the point that it about to smoky. Put off the stove. Take a fork in one hand and start adding the flattened rice with the other, continuously stirring else it will burn. Add all of the rice, and stir so that all the flakes are coated in oil. Add the salt and stir to combine. Return the skillet to stove and on low heat, let the rice toast up. Keep on stirring it a lot of times, else it will burn and you will see that the flakes start to change color. You will smell a nutty aroma too. It takes about 8-10 minutes on low heat for the rice to completely roast and turn pale brown. This time will depend on the variety and thickness of flattened rice you are using. Adjust.

Once the flattened rice has roasted, let it cool down completely. Transfer to an air tight jar. Use a clean, dry spoon to serve it. Store up to a week.

Make Spiced Peas

In a wide pan, heat up the oil on medium heat. Once heated, temper the oil with cumin seeds and wait for them to crackle.Add the chopped onions to the pan and let the onions cook till transculent.Don’t brown them.Next, add the chopped ginger & green chili to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Add the blanched peas next along with garam masala and salt to taste. Stir to combine and let cook on medium heat for 3-4 minutes.

Add the chaat masala and chopped cilantro next and stir fry on high heat for 3-4 minutes, continuously stirring.Take care that the peas do not turn mushy.

Put off the heat, add fresh lemon juice.

To serve, plate up the roasted chivda and spicy peas. Add 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar on top along with a sprinkle of red chili flakes. Enjoy with a cup of chai.

Thank you for stopping by!

Stay Spicy.

 

Categories
Brunch Easy Recipes Indian Curry one pot meals Rice Dishes Side Dishes Vegetarian

Chana Pulao (Spiced Chickpeas & Rice Pilaf) With Pomegranate Raita



Sinfully Spicy - Chana Pulao (Ric & Chickpea Pilaf) With Pomegranate Raita(Yogurt)

Sinfully Spicy - Chana Pulao (Ric & Chickpea Pilaf) With Pomegranate Raita(Yogurt)All I think of at the first sight of pomegranates in the grocery stores is to fold the plump ruby jewels with sweetish velvety yogurt and pair the raita with some kind of a spicy pilaf. To me, pulao/pilaf is a very ‘to taste’ thing in indian cuisine. It is like an assortment of things with any sort of grain, mostly rice in our case – quick, one pot but hearty. On days when mom was not in much of mood to cook, she would make some kind of a pulao – with vegetables, beans, dried lentil nuggets or chicken. There would be pickles, salad and raita to serve along.

Sinfully Spicy - Chana Pulao (Ric & Chickpea Pilaf) With Pomegranate Raita(Yogurt)

Sinfully Spicy - Chana Pulao (Ric & Chickpea Pilaf) With Pomegranate Raita(Yogurt)Come November and the knock of winter winds brought with itself a sudden rush of green and fresh produce in the vegetable bazaars of Delhi.After long, humid and harsh summers,the next few months presented a respite and a chance to indulge in cooking and eating.On few Saturdays I would accompany mom to the sabzi bazaar. Wrapped in my favorite pashmina shawl, we walked out of the house for an early evening stroll and later to purchase vegetables for the week.Those few hours were spent inhaling the crisp autumn air and watching how the nip in the air got people out of their homes, the pleasing sights of street food carts beaming with everybody, eating, chatting and sharing a quick snack with families.We stopped here and there to get buy and bargain fresh eggs, bread and dairy before reaching the sabzi bazaar.Most of the faces at the bazaar were known, for it has been a place of trade between the same set of people for decades.

Sinfully Spicy - Chana Pulao (Ric & Chickpea Pilaf) With Pomegranate Raita(Yogurt)Mom would patiently listen to household stories of few sabzi wallas(vendors), of their children not studying at school or the gas prices going up. Few complained about government not doing much for the poor and few praising their farms for such fine produce. In India, such is a way of life, so may day-to-day people slowly connect to your life and you do not even realize, it is how the society operates.I always loved to tag along with her for grocery trips just to observe how she would choose vegetables – touching them, sniffing a few, closely inspecting each piece below the flickering bulbs on the stalls of thela-wallas (street vendors with wooden wheeled carts),she took her time to select. If few of the vendors were in a mood, they would slice off a couple of apples or pluck few greens and let her taste before buying.Thick,dark-skinned capsicum to yellowish cauliflower heads to fragrant methi (fenugreek) and soa (dill) bunches to ruby kashmiri anar (pomegranates) and apples, each sample of produce brought with itself an opportunity for deliciousness.

Sinfully Spicy - Chana Pulao (Ric & Chickpea Pilaf) With Pomegranate Raita(Yogurt)The onset of winters also meant there would be lots of wholesome,hearty meals in the house full of warm spices and herbs. There would be exotic,rich curries and layered biryanis and indulgent desserts. Mom would make a lot of quick rice dishes to keep our stomachs nourished & satisfied. The house would be enveloped in the pungent aroma of mustard oil and earthy fragrance of basmati rice bubbling on the stove. This is one of her favorite recipes which I have changed to our liking over the years, she did not add bell peppers or potatoes, but I love the combination of both of these with chickpeas and rice so I do it more my way now. A weekly regular in our house with all kinds of variations each time.

Sinfully Spicy - Chana Pulao (Ric & Chickpea Pilaf) With Pomegranate Raita(Yogurt)

Sinfully Spicy - Chana Pulao (Ric & Chickpea Pilaf) With Pomegranate Raita(Yogurt)

Ingredients (Serves 3)

You could use canned chickpeas and cut down the cooking time to half but I recommend starting with dried chickpeas and cooking them in water because the resultant delicious stock will flavor the rice immensely.

For the Chickpeas (Skip this step if using canned chickpeas)

  • 1 cup dried raw chickpeas
  • 2 + 1/4 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp oil

For the Pulao(Pilaf)

  • 3/4 cup basmati rice
  • 1.5 tbsp plain whole milk yogurt (skip for vegan)
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp kashmiri red chili powder (or paprika, this gives the color not the heat)
  • 4 tbsp mustard oil (or use canola/vegetable/olive oil)
  • 1/2 ” cinnamon stick (indian cinnamon is very sharp so I use less, adjust if using sweet cinammon)
  • 1 small twig of mace
  • 1 indian bay leaf (or regular bay leaf)
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 1 black cardamom, cracked open
  • 1/2 cup heaped chopped onions
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder(adjust to taste)
  • 1-2 medium potatoes, cut in quarters
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 small red bell pepper, cubed
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves, crushed)
  • 1-2 tbsp ghee to finish(optional, skip for vegan)
  • Chopped cilantro to garnish
  • Optional – golden raisins, silvered almonds, cashews.

Method 

Soak the chickpeas in enough water overnight or atleasrt 8-10 hours.Drain & discard the water and add the chickpeas to the pressure cooker along with baking soda, salt, water and oil. Pressure cook for 2-3 whistles on medium heat or till chickpeas are fork tender. The cooking time and number of whistles will depend on quality and size of the chickpeas and alson on pressure cooker. I use small variety chickpeas which pressure cook in about 20 minutes. If you do not have a pressure cooker, use a heavy bottomed pot with lid or your dutch over to cook the chickpeas for roughly 45-50 minutes or till fork tender. Once the chickpeas are cooked,drain and reserve the liquid (stock). Set aside.

Skip the above steps if using canned chickpeas. Open up the can and run the chickpeas under a stream of water, drain and set aside.

Wash the basmati rice under 2-3 times under a running stream of water till the water runs clear. Soak in 1.5 cups of water for 15 minutes. (You can do this while the chickpeas are cooking). Also, mix the yogurt with garam masala and kashmiri red chill powder. Set aside. If making for vegans, skip the yogurt and add these spices when you add the tomatoes.

In a wide bottomed heavy pot with lid (I use my 3 qt dutch oven), heat up the mustard oil on medium till you see little ripples on the surface and the raw smell goes away. Add cinnamon,mace bay leaf and cloves and cardamom. Wait till they crackle and you smell a nice aroma. 10-15 seconds. Add the onions and garlic next. Cook till they are light brown. About 5-6 minutes. Add the tomatoes next along with red chili and turmeric powder. Cook for 2-3 minutes just till the tomatoes begin to soften. Reduce heat to low and add the yogurt mixed with spices. Do not stir immediately else yogurt will curdle. Wait for 30 seconds and gently on low heat(very important) incorporate the yogurt in the masala. Cook for another 1-2 minutes on low heat till the masala starts getting shiny and turning deep reddish- brown in color. Add the potatoes & ginger next and cook along with the masala for another 1-2 minutes.

Next, drain & discard all the water from the soaking rice and add soaked rice and chickpeas to the pot. Do not stir. Measure and add the required quantity of stock (reserved from boiling chickpeas) to the pot. The quantity of stock added should be added as required by your variety of rice(My rice variety cooks in 2:1 ratio of rice to water, I add 2 tbsp extra stock ). (In case you are using canned chickpeas, add chicken/vegetable stock or plain water).

Once you have added the water, check and adjust the salt of the liquid (normally it should be little extra salty at the beginning since the rice will soak up the stock). Also add crushed kasuri methi to. Gently stir now (else the soaked rice will break) and let the rice soak in stock for another 15 minutes.

Once the rice has soaked, cover the pot with a lid and bring to a boil on high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and let cook covered for another 8 minutes. After 8 minutes, open the lid and add the bell peppers to the pot and very lightly mix them in with the help of a fork. Cover and let cook on low for another 2 minutes. After this, put off the stove and let sit for atleast 15 minutes.

Open the lid and add the ghee (if using) along with cilantro, nuts (if using), raisins(is using) on top and gently fluff the rice with fork.

Serve warm with raita(recipe below), salad and pickle.

Pomegranate Raita (Spiced Yogurt)

Ingredients (Serves 3)

  • 1 cup whole milk plain yogurt,cold
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar (or to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp heaped roasted cumin powder
  • a light pinch of dried mint leaves, crush to dust between hands (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp chaat masala (a tangy spice mix available in indian/pakistani stores or online)
  • 1/2 tsp black salt (this salt is tangy, substitute with regular)
  • 1/4 tsp red chilli powder (or cayanne, adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 cup fresh pomegranate seeds (or more/less you like)
  • salt to taste
  • Few fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped

Method

Beat the yogurt with everything except the pomegranate seeds & salt to smooth. I like the raita thick but if you can thin it with little water if you like. Refrigerate the yogurt for 20 minutes.Just before serving mix in the pomegranate seeds and salt. Sprinkle cilantro. Serve.

Categories
Easy Recipes Gluten Free Indian Streetfood Indo Chinese one pot meals Rice Dishes Side Dishes Vegetarian

Vegetable Fried Rice

Sinfully Spicy: Vegetable Fried Rice #indochineseWith the summer in full swing, this easy fried rice is suddenly a favorite in the house for quick meals.Combining deeply flavored,saltiness of dark soy sauce with nuttiness from sesame oil, the sweet crunch of fresh vegetables and hints of aroma from indian spices, this rice comes together in no time if you have a big rice portion leftover from last meal. The recipe can be twisted and turned to suit the occasion and the crowd you are serving to – add any assortment of vegetables (or fruits – pineapple, apricots, raisins)and any protein you like. Though a warm bowl is good on its own but I like to make hot chicken or manchurian along side sometimes for a hearty meal.Someone like me who prefers flatbreads to accompany our meals is enjoying it a lot.

Sinfully Spicy: Vegetable Fried Rice #indochinese I had conveniently forgotten but when WordPress wished me a lot many years to fly with them, I realized!! Four summers. It has been four years of sharing little anecdotes of my life and recipes with all of you.Sometimes I wonder how much memories from life back in India and childhood or teens could my mind still retain even though I always thought otherwise. It has been a gratifying journey so far. Thank you for the love and support.This blog has been a wonderful nook to share and connect with all you who are hungry for indian food. Thank you so much for your interest and loving my country’s cuisine.

Sinfully Spicy: Vegetable Fried Rice #indochineseComing back to the recipe, I quite marvel at the brilliant concept of fried rice in asian cuisine. From Thai to Indonesian to Filipino, each fried rice is different yet wonderfully flavored. I have talked about indo chinese cuisine in my past posts and this recipe is another addition to that collection. This indian style fried rice  stems from the chinese variant but the use of spices lend it notes of warmth and aromatic smokiness. I have been making fried rice for many years and have learnt a few things through trial and error. I guess this is the right post to share my little tips with you.

Sinfully Spicy: Vegetable Fried Rice #indochinese

Ingredients (Serves 3-4)

  • 3 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 .5 tbsp pure sesame oil
  • 3-4 fat garlic pods, finely chopped
  • 1 Thai green chili, slit
  • 1/3 cup red onion, finely sliced
  • 6 scallion stalks, green & white parts chopped separately
  • 3/4 tsp ginger, minced (adjust to taste)
  • 2 cups shredded/julienned vegetables (I used cabbage, green&red bell pepper, blanched green beans, carrots)
  • 3 cups cooked rice, cold
  • 2 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • scant pinch of turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 tsp red chili flakes (adjust to tolerance)
  • 3/4 tsp Chilli tomato Sauce (I use this, you could use ketchup or 1/2 tsp tomato paste)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 tbsp white vinegar (adjust to taste)
  • 1.5 tbsp butter, melted (optional, see notes)
  • chopped cilantro

Notes

  • Adding butter at the end may seem a bit unusual, but this is a small secret I learned from the husband who makes some mean fried rice. Try it.
  • The rice from the this recipe has pronounced hints of ginger, you can omit or cut down the quantity if you do not like it.
  • You can vary the ratio of neutral oil to sesame oil based on your liking. You could even cook using either of the oils, I am just sharing the ratio that we prefer.
  • Add tofu, fried egg, pre cooked shrimp,chicken or any kind of protein in the recipe just at the end and warm it through with the rice.

Method

Heat up the sunflower & sesame oils in a wide skillet or pan ( I use 12″) on medium high. Add the garlic and green chili to the oil and sauté for 20-30 seconds or so till you see tiny blisters on the chili skin. Take care that the garlic doesnt burn. Add the red onion next along with white scallion parts. Saute for 2-3 minutes on medium high till the onions soften and begin to turn light brown.At this point add the ginger along with the chopped vegetables.Sprinkle a pinch of salt and let the vegetables cook for 2-3 minutes till they are tender but not mushy and still have a bite. (This time will depend on how thick/thin you have cut the vegetables).

Next turn the heat to lowest possible on your stove and add the cold rice to the pan.Also add the soy sauce,turmeric, garam masala, red chili powder & chili tomato sauce. Toss around so that the rice is covered in all therse . Check and adjust the salt (remember that if you are adding butter at the end, it has salt too). Turn the heat to medium for a minute or so till the rice is warmed through.Do not stir too much

Put off the heat and while the rice is still warm, add the green scallion parts, vinegar, butter(if using) and chopped cilantro. Using fork or chopsticks toss around and serve immediately.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

Categories
Non vegetarian Rice Dishes Side Dishes

Keema Pulao – A Guest Post for Kankana of Sunshine & Smile

Today I m guest blogging at Kankana’s blog Sunshine & Smile. She is a lovely friend and it’s a huge pleasure to share her space today. I have been in touch with kankana via twitter for over 6 months now and she is full of warmth, energy & enthusiasm, which reflects in each of her blogposts. Her blog is full of mouth-watering dishes from different cuisines and whenever I land at her page, I leave hungry and smiling 🙂 Thanks so much for having me here!

I have wanted to share this minced mutton rice pilaf recipe for a long time & knowing Kankana’s liking for non-vegetarian food, this was a perfect opportunity. This recipe combines three of my loves into one – meat, potatoes & rice. It is a super comforting & easy meal, which is usually a weekend special at my home.

Hop over to her blog to see my post here. You can find the printable recipe here.

Ingredients:- (Serves 2-3)

▪                1 cup basmati rice

▪                2 cups water (or as required for cooking your rice variety)

▪                3 tbsp mustard/canola oil

▪                2 bay leaves

▪                2″ cinnamon stick

▪                4 cloves

▪                3/4 cup finely chopped onion

▪                1 tsp cumin seeds

▪                1 tsp coriander seeds

▪                1/2 tsp fennel seeds

▪                ½ tsp black peppercorns (or to taste)

▪                2 tsp red chili powder (or to taste)

▪                2 tbsp ginger garlic paste

▪                1 cup finely chopped tomatoes

▪                1 lb lamb/mutton, minced

▪                1 large potato, peeled & cut into cubes

▪                10-12 fresh mint leaves, chopped

▪                Salt to taste

▪                Chopped cilantro/mint leaves for garnish

 

Method: –

 

▪                Pick and clean the rice. Wash under running stream of water. Set aside.

▪                Using a mortar & pestle, coarsely pound the fennel, cumin,coriander & black peppercorns seeds. Set aside.

▪                In a heavy bottomed, wide mouthed pot, heat oil to smoking point on high. Once smoking, reduce heat to medium, wait for 2 minutes and then add the bay leaves, cinnamon stick, & cloves to the pot.

▪                Once the spices crackle & you smell the aroma in about 20 seconds, add the chopped onions to the pot. Cook on medium till onions start to turn brown. About 5-6 minutes.

▪                Add the pounded cumin, black peppercorn,fennel & coriander seeds next and sauté for another 30 seconds.

▪                Next add the ginger-garlic paste along with tomatoes & red chili powder. Cook on medium for another 6-7 minutes till you see oil separating on sides of the pot.

▪                At this point, turn the heat high and add the minced meat & potatoes. Cook the meat on high with continuous stirring (not mushing) till it changes color. You will also see fat & water separating from the meat but keep on cooking on high for 8-10 minutes.

▪                Once the meat has browned, add the washed basmati rice along with chopped mint leaves. Add the 2 cups of water (or as required) for cooking. Since the mince will leave more water as it cooks, I suggest less water than required.

▪                Let the rice soak for 30 minutes.

▪                After the rice has soaked, cover the pot and let the contents come to a boil on high. About 8 minutes.

▪                Once boiling, reduce heat to low and let rice cook covered till done. About 10 minutes. After rice is cooked, put the heat off and let the rice sit covered for another 15 minutes, undisturbed.

▪                Open the lid, fluff the rice with fork and garnish with chopped cilantro/mint.

▪                Serve warm with yogurt & salad.

Categories
Brunch one pot meals Rice Dishes Vegetarian

Tahiri -Slow cooked Basmati Rice With Black Spices

                                            Featured on Food Buzz Top 9Summer might be officially gone in many of the states but in my part, the temperatures are still in nineties.Though the sun sets early now & morning sun has started to feel cozy and relaxing, days are still quite sunny & hot. However, it rained last weekend. We hardly get any rains out here, I think the last bit was long back in May, so whenever it comes pouring down, its time to rejoice in my house.Usually, its super lazy day with TV or book on the couch, comfort food to fill up and loads of chai which I enjoy while sitting beside the window as rain drops rattle against the glass. Thats one corner of the house which keeps me alive amongst the gloom from cloudy skies in the rest of the apartment, especially when I m alone.

I literally wait for the summer to end to make some dishes.The wet & cold weekend (yup the temperatures dipped to 64 ),made me crave my grandmom’s tahiri which is one of my favorite things to make since the autumn sets in to the finish of winter. Not missing the little chance I got last weekend, this rice dish was our comfort meal. The best part being that this is a one pot meal, has the perfect amount of spike to it, is loaded with satiating goodness of starchy vegetables and leftovers taste all the more better! Just few minutes of preparations & you are all set for a soul satisfying meal.It really need no side dish even coz its so much flavorful on its own, just a bowl of plain yogurt or green chutney/pickle will be more than enough. If you really want to indulge, add a dollop of cold butter or ghee over the steaming bowl of rice, let it melt and find its way right to the bottom on its own & you are good to go! The best part about this dish is the bottom burnt layer of rice which is achieved by a technique called  dumpukht  (see recipe).

My best memories of eating tahiri are of Sunday lunches when we sat on charpai(cot) under the bright winter sun amid the home-grown decor of winter vegetables in my grandmother’s vegetable garden. I remember picking up fresh stalks of young garlic and onions right from the soil and eating it with tahiri. The taste of unwashed, organic stuff was unmatched.I am a survivor of such homecooked authentic Indian dishes.A mention of these winter lunches still takes me back there, of the food relished during those growing years, times spent with family amid laughter & gossip.

The trio of vegetables that go into tahiri which is a speciality dish of  state of Uttar Pradesh (UP) is standard – white potatoes, cauliflower & peas.Called by the same name, this dish is quite similar to a non vegetarian rice recipe popular in south indian states – where it is made with minced meat.These vegetables go so well with the warmth of black indian spices – cumin, black cardamom, black pepper, cloves, nutmeg & cinnamon. The spices are fresh ground into a paste and then rice & vegetable are open cooked on low heat along with the paste for long to bring about the depth of flavors. The result is a aromatic pot full of comfort- the rice is not hot but has the right amount of spice kick for soothing the senses.

Tahiri is not pilaf, its cooked low & slow by a technique called dumpukht or indirect slow heating. What differentiates it from biryani is the fact that unless you make kacchi biryani, the rice & meat/ vegetables are separately half cooked, layered & then cooked to perfection. In tahiri, rice & vegetables cook start to 95% doneness in the spicy broth and finished via dumpukht cooking.  I hope all these techniques make sense 🙂

Utensil Required : A wide mouthed, heavy bottomed pot with lid/kadhai with lidIngredients (Serves 4)1/4 cup oil (canola/vegetable/any unflavored oil)3/4 cup thinly sliced red onions 2 bay leaves2″ cinnamon stick2 black cardamom, cracked open (substitute with 5 green cardamom)3/4 cup peas (fresh or frozen)3/4  cup cauliflower florets1 large russet potato, peeled and  cut into 1/2″ cubes1 cup basmati rice1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg1/2 tsp garam masala Salt to taste2.5 cups water (or as required for cooking your rice variety, check package instructions)Chopped cilantro for garnishNote:- Cut the potato & cauliflower florets such that they cook perfectly in the time it takes rice to cook. 
Spices to be soaked in 1/2 cup water for 30 minutes:-
2 tbsp whole black peppercorns 4 whole dry red chillies (adjust to tolerance)1 tsp whole cumin seeds1/2 tsp whole coriander seeds4 whole cloves2 ” fresh ginger shoot, peeled & crushed roughlyMethod:- Pick & wash rice 2-3 times under running water. Set aside. Thaw the peas if using frozen. Tip the soaked spices above into a blender jar & churn to make a smooth mix. We dont want a too fine or too coarse textures here, just ensure that the black pepper seeds are crushed properly.Transfer to a bowl & set aside.
Heat oil in pot/kadhai on mediumOnce the oil is smoking, add the sliced onions. Cook the onions till they are light brown. About 8 minutes. Next, reduce heat to low & add the bay leaves, cinnamon stick, black cardamom & the ground spice mix to the pot.
Cook the spices with regular stirring till you see oil separating on sides of the pot. About 6-8 minutes. At this point, add the vegetables along with washed rice to the pot. Gently combine everything to mix well.Remove from heat & pour the water required for cooking the rice into the pot, give everything a stir , add salt to taste & let the rice soak for 15 minutes.Once the rice has soaked, transfer the pot to medium heat. Cover the pot & bring to a boil, reduce the heat to very low, and let cook for 10-12 minutes (or the time required for your rice variety to get 95% cooked). Turn off the heat, open the lid, add the grated nutmeg  & garam masala, gently mix with a wooden spoon & leave to steam on its own over the stove for another 5-8 minutes, undisturbed.
While the rice is steaming, heat up a cast iron skillet(enough to hold the cooking pot).Once the skillet is hot, reduce heat to very low, transfer the rice pot over the skillet & let the rice cook for another 10 minutes on dum (indirect slow cooking technique).We want the bottom layer of rice to crisp up & burnt (almost). After 10 minutes, fluff up with a fork , garnish the rice with chopped cilantro. Serve with plain yogurt & salad. 
Categories
Non vegetarian one pot meals Rice Dishes

Lemon – Ginger Rice Pilaf With Green Chicken Balls – Served With Tempered Raita (Yogurt)

 

 

 

This is a very easy but flavorful basmati rice pilaf that I created last week. Or lemma brag that it is my own recipe. no reference or cookbooks. Long grain, aromatic basmati rice is cooked in a lemon & ginger flavored broth with hints of aromatic indian spices. I wanted the pilaf to look “summery”, so I chose to avoid reddish look from red chilies powder or yellowish look from haldi (turmeric). The chicken balls are green & succulent with lots of cilantro, mint, and garlic and loaded with the magical garam masala. The flavors are subtle but classic – citrusy, soul warming & comforting. All in all best served as a side along with tempered raita (yogurt) or any curry /dalor eat on its own as a light summer meal.

 


 


 

 

Ingredients: – Serves 4

For the Chicken balls: [Makes 20-25 balls of the size shown]

  • 1lb ground chicken (don’t use ground chicken breast, use a mince which has good ratio of dark meat & fat, also take care that the mince is not too fine if you are getting it from the butcher]
  • 4 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1.5 cups finely chopped, fresh cilantro, stems & leaves (substitute with parsley)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mint, leaves only
  • 4-5 Thai green chilies, finely chopped (Adjust to taste, with this quantity, balls will be on the spicy side)
  • 1.5 tsp garam masala 
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 tsp salt
  • Oil for rubbing on palms

Notes: –

  1. You can use the same recipe to make curry with the chicken balls. Just mix in some minced ginger with the chicken in that case.
  2. For a vegetarian version, you can add dal wadi (lentil drops), soya chunks, paneer cubes, any kind of beans or an assorted vegetables (slightly steamed) of choice. Drop the step where we cook the chicken balls in the method below and proceed.

For the Pilaf: –

  • 1.5 cups Basmati rice
  • 1/4 cup mustard/canola/olive/vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup sliced onions (use any variety you like, don’t use sweet onions)
  • 1/4 cup grated fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated (can be avoided)
  • 4 Thai green chilies, slit lengthwise
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • One 2″ cinnamon stick
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 7-8 cloves
  • 6 green cardamom pods (hari elaichi)
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 6 tbsp fresh lemon juice (adjust to taste)
  • 2.5 cups water /stock (Depends on rice variety, adjust as per package instructions)
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp melted unsalted butter
  • Cilantro, Lemon wedges etc for garnish

Method: –

Pick the rice and wash under 2-3 streams of water.Let soak for 30 minutes. In a cheesecloth/muslin, wrap tightly the black peppercorns, cloves, coriander seeds, and cardamom pods. In a bowl, add all the ingredients under the heading “For the Chicken Balls”. Mix gently with hands to combine well. Do not apply too much pressure while mixing else the mix will become sticky. Once mixed, apply some oil on your hands and make balls of the size you wish. Dont make too big balls, coz after cooking, these swell up. Line the balls on a plate and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

While the chicken balls are refrigerating, to a heavy bottomed pot with lid, add the oil and heat on high high. If using mustard oil, heat the oil to smoking point to do away the raw smell. Reduce heat to medium and add the sliced onions to the pot and sauté them till they turn light brown. At this point add the slit green chilies, grated garlic (if using) & ginger, bay leaf, cumin and cinnamon stick to the pot and sauté for 30 secs. Next add 2.5 cups of water/stock to the pot. Tip in the cheesecloth wrapped spices into the water, add 1 tsp salt and let the water come to a boil.About 8 minutes.

Once boiling, add the refrigerated chicken balls to the pot. Start by adding a single ball, if it does not spread, add all of them one by one in a single layer. If balls are spreading, mash them down & add a binding agent like cornstarch or egg. Let the balls cook for 5-8 minutes in boiling water till they are 95%  (almost) cooked. Do not overcook else they will become rock hard. Strain the balls out of the pot in a plate and set aside.(This cooking time will depend on size of your balls)

Measure out the stock in the pot to whatever quantity is required to cook your variety of rice.The basmati variety I use takes 2 cups stock to 1 cup of rice to cook. Return the measured stock to the pot. Add the soaked, drained rice to the pot along with ground nutmeg & lemon juice. Check the seasoning again and adjust if required.

Cover the pot & bring the stock to a boil, reduce the heat to very low, and let cook for 8-10 minutes. Turn off the heat, open the lid, and add the chicken balls & melted butter gently mix with a wooden spoon & leave to steam on the stove for another 5-8 minutes.Pick out the spices wrapped in cheesecloth & discard. Garnish the rice with chopped cilantro & lime wedges. Serve with tempered raita.

To make Tempered Raita: – Beat 1 cup of cold, plain Greek yogurt in a bowl. To this add any thing you like from tomatoes, boiled potatoes, grated cucumbers chopped onion, boondi etc as long it pairs with yogurt.I am not giving any quantity here coz there are no measurements as such. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.To temper, just before serving to a small saucepan, add 1 tbsp of oil and let it heat on high. Once heated, add 1 tsp each of cumin seeds & black mustard and let crackle. You can add some chopped green chilies too. Once crackling, remove from heat and let cool off for 2-3 minutes. Add salt to yogurt along with tempering and mix well. Serve.

Categories
Brunch one pot meals Rice Dishes Vegetarian

Vegetable Biryani

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 3 tbsp canola oil [or olive oil]
  • 2 tbsp ghee [clarified butter]
  • 1 large red onion,sliced
  • 2 tsp garlic-ginger paste
  • 1 cup finely chopped tomatoes
  • 1 /2 cup plain greek yogurt / thick yogurt
  • Salt to taste
  • Chopped fresh cilantro, fried brown onions for garnish

Dry Spices

  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4-5 black pepper corns
  • 2-3 dry red chillies
  • 3 cloves
  • 3 green cardamom pods, crushed open
  • 1 stick cinnamon

Powdered Spices

  • 2 tsp red chilli powder [adjust to taste]
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp dry coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala

Vegetables : {You can any vegetables of choice, I m writing proportions and kind I used}

  • 1 cup potatoes, peeled and 1/2 ” cubed
  • 1/2 cup cauliflower florets
  • 1/2 cup green beans, cut small
  • 1/4 cup carrots, diced
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas

Method:

Thoroughly was the rice in 2-3 streams of water.Let the rice soak in enough water for at least 2 hours.Drain the rice after soaking, transfer to a heavy bottomed pot with at least 7 cups of salted water and cook it till 90% cooked. Note: The rice cooking time will depend upon the quality and type of rice both.My variety takes approx 20 minutes. Once cooked, drain the rice and set aside.

In a heavy bottomed pot with lid , heat the oil on high heat for about 2 minutes.Add the ghee [clarified butter] to the pan followed by sliced onions.Fry the onions untill golden brown.Add the ginger garlic paste and cook for about 2 minutes.Next tip in the chopped tomatoes, all the spices except garam masala and yogurt.Cook for at least 10 minutes on medium heat until the oil starts separating on the sides of the pot.Next, lower the heat and add yogurt to the mix.Stir for about 3 minutes on low heat.[Tip: Any recipe which calls for using yogurt, just ensure that you lower the heat and then add yogurt.Cooking on low heat with yogurt is important to avoid the curdling]

Next, add the potatoes, beans, carrots and cauliflower florets to the pan with 1/2 cup water and cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes covered or until the vegetables are tender.Add the peas now along with salt to taste and garam masala..Cook uncovered for another 5 minutes on medium heat or till they are tender.Once done, remove from heat.

Assembly:

In the same heavy bottomed pot, spread 1/3 of the cooked rice at the bottom.Layer half of the cooked vegetables on this layer and sprinkle with chopped cilantro.Spread again with 1/3 of the rice and spread rest of the cooked vegetables and cilantro.Cover with remaining cooked rice. Note: You can create as many layers of rice & vegetables as you want.

Next, dampen a clean, thick cloth with water large enough to cover the mouth of the pot.Cover the pot with this damp cloth, put the lid tightly on the pot and set the pot to a very low heat. [Alternatively, you can place the pot on top of a tawa/griddle to reduce heat further] This method is called Dum cooking wherein, the contents of the pot cook on very low heat in their own juices and develop flavors. Cook like this for at least 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, remove from heat.Do not remove the lid or cloth immediately.Let the rice set for about 10 minutes. Mix rice gently with the vegetables and add 2 tbsp of melted ghee [optional]

Spoon into a serving dish, garnish with chopped cilantro and deep-fried onions.Serve with pickle, raita or salad.

Recipe for cucumber mint raita here.

Enjoy!

Sending this to Hearth n Soul #40

Categories
Desserts Easy Recipes Rice Dishes Vegetarian

Kewra Kheer-Aromatic Rice Pudding With Screw Pine Water & Foxnuts

Kewra Jal or Screwpine water is used to flavor a lot indian curries,biryanis,drinks and desserts particularly those which are milk based.It is also used in lot of indian sweets made out of squashes and dried milk.Drinks prepared with Kewra are said to be have a cooling effect on the body during the scorching summer months.Similar to rose-water or orange blossom water, the essence is more concentrated than Kewra water.The essence may be yellowish or transparent in color.

Other than food, if you happen to visit the beach destinations of India, you can indulge in Kewra water bath and spa sessions at many of the resorts and hotels.Perfumes and body lotions containing essential oils made with Kewra are also popular as stimulants to cure headaches and provide general relaxation to body. Ayurveda,the ancient form of medicinal cure with natural products is known to use Kewra for healing joint pains and bone related problems.All in all Kewra is supposed to have cater to those senses of your body which provide calmness to mind and soul.

Talking about “Makhana” or Foxnuts, these are used a lot to make curries and desserts.These are nothing but puffed seeds of the foxnut plant.Some people like to add foxnut seeds to the daily cereal to increase fibre in their diet.In indian cooking, it is widely used as a natural thickener in crushed or powdered forms.When toasted with butter/oil and sprinkled with salt and dried herbs, puffed foxnuts make a great snack with evening tea.Eating a handful of foxnuts daily is considered to strengthen the heart and is very useful in anemia.

Dont get the impression that the rice pudding that I have prepared using all the stuff above is healthy, but it is certainly rich and flavorful.Anyhow, after all that overdose of knowledge, let me come to the recipe which is nothing but “Kheer” or indian rice pudding made by cooking crushed foxnuts and basmati rice with whole milk and flavored with green cardamom powder and kewra water.It is the most luscious and exotic form of dessert for us.Indian kheer is different from the pudding recipes around the world in the sense that it is not egg based.Some people like to add condensed milk to rice pudding for fast thickening, I normally don’t do that and stick to the traditional way of thickening the milk via slow cooking.It is considered auspicious to offer Kheer to God during festivals.I prepared this recipe last week.Below goes the recipe:

Ingredients [Serves 4]

  • 1/2 cup uncooked basmati rice
  • 5 cups whole milk [or half n half]
  • 1/4 cup crushed foxnuts [makhana, available at indian stores]
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar [or adjust to taste]
  • 1 tbsp Kerwa water [If using essence put, 1-2 drops only] [Available at indian stores]
  • 1 tsp green cardamom powder
  • handful of golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup chopped almonds
  • For Garnish- chopped almonds, raisins,toasted foxnuts,pinch of cardamom powder, shredded coconut [optional]

Method:

  • Wash the rice under 2-3 streams of water and let soak in 1.5 cups of water for one hour.
  • In a pot with heavy bottom, pour the milk and let come to a boil.Once boiling,reduce the heat to low, drain the rice and tip into the pot.Tip in the crushed foxnuts also along with rice.
  • Cook the milk and rice mixture on low heat for about 30-40 minutes on low heat stirring at intervals, so that the rice does not stick to the bottom.
  • Cook until rice is soft and broken and milk has reduced to about half the quantity and is thick.
  • Add chopped almonds,raisins and cardamom powder and cook for 10 minutes more.
  • Remove from heat and let sit for about 5-8 minutes to cool down a bit.
  • Stir in the granulated sugar and kewra water. Make sure that when you add the sugar the pudding is not very hot.
  • Serve garnished with almonds or any nuts of choice.

Variations:

  • You can use rose water in place of kewra water.
  • This pudding can be prepared with foxnuts only also.

Enjoy!