Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Zeera Rice & Kadi Pakoda

A simple yet refreshing dish to indulge your family without shelling out an extra buck right with ingredients found in your store cupboard.This is a rice dish with a mild flavor of cumin seeds accompanied with a tempered yoghurt savory dish to which chickpea flour fritters have been added.
Zeera Rice:

1 cup high quality basmati rice
1 tbs cumin seeds
1 tbs finely chopped ginger and garlic
2-3 black pepper corns
1 bay/laurel leaf
2 pods of cardamom
1inch piece of cinammon
2-3 cloves
1-2 tbs oil
salt as required
1 and 1/2 cups of water
Warm oil in a heavy bottomed pan, add the whole spices and when they begin to release their aroma add the finely sliced onions and saute for a minute.Now add the chopped ginger garlic.Remove the whole spices and add the cumin seeds and let them sizzle for a minute.Now add the rice and stir for half a minute and then add the water and salt.Then, let it cook on a medium flame till rice is well done.Garnish with finely chopped green chillies and coriander leaves.

Kadi Pakoda

3/4 cup besan/chickpeaflour
1/3 tsp carrom seeds/ajwain
1 tsp red chilli powder
1tsp ginger/garlic paste
1/4 tsp baking powder
salt as required
oil to deep fry

Mix all the ingredients listed above into a smooth batter with enough water to a thick consistency.Heat oil and drop spoonfuls of batter into it in batches and fry till golden brown.Remove onto kitchen tissue/towel.

Kadi (Savoury Yoghurt)
1 onion sliced
1/2 tsp chopped ginger
2 tbs chickpea flour/besan
1 cup yoghurt
2 red chillies
a pinch of fenugreek seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
salt as required
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tbs oil
Whisk the yoghurt and blend with an additional one cup water.Heat the oil add the cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, red chillies broken into bits,till they sizzle and splutter, now, add the turmeric and chickpeaflour while stirring all the while and taking care to reduce the flame.Add the yoghurt and make sure the chickpea flour mixes well with it and then add salt and simmer on a low flame for fifteen minutes.Turn off the flame and add the pakoras.

Serve zeera rice with kadi pakoda.Also serve a pickle and papad on the side.You could even add a kidney bean dish like rajma masala on the menu to make a great combo.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Celebrating Eid

The whole of K.S.A is decorated like a bride and is glittering with lighted inanimate motifs of the crescent moon,dallah(Arabic coffeepot),Khanjar(dagger),Egyptian lamps(Fanoos),Kites,Palm trees and other geometrical patterns..

Holidays: People are in 'relax' mode with a week of holidays.Most people,who like to spend the last days of ramadan in Makkah and Madinah are ready with their travel plans.

Spirituality:'umrah' tarawih prayers at 1 a.m and charity(zakat-2.5 %of one's total wealth each year given to the poor&Fitrah-a fixed amount for each family member also given to the poor)

Rush hour:Traffic winds like a giant python of scintillating lights,while people rush to shop till they drop for all household items, clothes and gifts .The malls and restaurants are open from 9p.m to 2 a.m.The transformation of people from sky larks to night owls is dramatic.
Shopping: Special Eid collections of clothing, accessories, cosmetics, perfumes are available from all top brands around the world.Gifts of jewelry,accessories and toys (for kids) are bought for the family members for Eid.Women from India and Pakistan also shop for glass bangles in a myriad colors and also spend the night decorating their hands with henna apart from the visits to the beauty salons or spas.

Popular Demand:On the eve of Eid, gourmet chocolates, petite pastry delicacies,cakes,flowers,and scented candles are bought by people for their homes, families and friends.
Eid prayers: begin early morning around 6 a.m. which are attended by men, women and children.
Celebration:The prayers are followed by families rushing back home for a celebration or for Eid brunches in five star hotels.Everything closes down and silence descends on the cities and if one venture outside in the evening it probably looks dull and boring after one whole month of hustle bustle.There is a beautiful display of fireworks put up for the following three days.The remaining part of the Eid vacation is spent visiting friends, hosting barbecue parties and other fun filled outdoor activities.
Sheer Korma:Vermicelli Pudding
1 ltr milk
100 ml of condensed milk
sugar as required
100 gms fine vermicelli
dry fruits:
dried dated soaked overnight and slivered
10 almonds soaked and slivered
1 tbs sunflower seeds(chironji)
2 tbs california raisins
2 tbs cashew nuts
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
3 tbs ghee/clarified butter
Method: Boil milk with the condensed milk on a low flame till the milk is reduced to almost 2/3 of its original quantity.This is what lends it a distinct khoya like taste if you are not intending to add adultrerated khoya bought from the market.This is also what makes it superior in taste to the 'semiya paysam' made in Andhra along with the quality of fine hair strand like vermicelli used for its preparation.The vermicelli used for 'paysam' is coarse and thick.Add sugar and cardamom powder to the milk and let it boil further.In the meantime toast all the dry fruits in a tbs of ghee, on a low flame taking care all the while not to burn them.Also fry the vermicelli in 2tbs of ghee to a golden brown color.Now add the fine vermicelli to the milk and let cook for 2-3 minutes and then add the dry fruits and serve in special sheer korma cups/fruit salad bowls.Yields:3 -4 servings.
Note: On the day of Eid, sheer korma is not prepared and kept before hand.The milk is left to boil and the reduced milk is kept ready along with the toasted dry fruits and vermicelli in separate dishes.As guests begin to come in the sheer korma is assembled together.The prepared milk is reheated and the other ingredients are added to it and served immediately.This way one can offer sheer korma for the next few days within minutes without wasting any.
Have a great Eid, and if you are among the fortunate few to enjoy the luxuries that life has to offer do send silent prayers for the people around the world who are deprived due to war, violence,poverty, terrorism,drought and recession.Also reflect on how this ramadan has changed you for the better..and help others with humility and a sense of renewed purpose.
(Eid greetings in Arabic calligraphy The photographs by me are a humble effort to capture the theme and mood of Eid.Also find the picture of 'Sheer Korma' and the fine vermicelli I've used in the centre of the photo pile).
Gift Ideas:
For him: Perfumes,cuff links, watches and gadgets.
For Her:Jewelry,luxury watches, perfumes, accessories and please men don't give kitchen gadgets as gifts..they are useful but not gifts.Also visit for further gift ideas.
For the book worm: In keeping with the Eid theme...'Standing Alone in Mecca:An American woman's struggle for the soul of Islam by Asra.Q.Nomani, The search of beauty in Islam: A conference of the books By Khaled Abou Al fadl are great reads.
In the end I would like to say -"Thank You, W, for your support, (for using up our precious family time for blogging)and for always thinking I am your equal and not just your better half.
Eid Mubarak to all!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Shorba Mumtaz(Barley and 5 Lentil Soup )

I created this soup when I was simply craving Haleem.It's a great soup with fewer calories and it did satisfy my cravings for Haleem without the extra pounds.A garden salad and some brown bread ...what else could one ask for?Perfect for suhoor too!


3 cups Lamb stock

1 tbs of moong beans

1 tbs red lentils(masoor dal)

1 tbs yellow split peas(chana dal)

1 tbs pigeon/yellow lentils (tur dal)

1 tbs black gram(urad/mash ki dal)

1 tbs Barley

1 tbs haleem spices(masala)

2" ginger piece/4 garlic cloves

a fistful of mint leaves

2 onion sliced finely

lemon wedges

3tbs oil

salt as required

Method:To prepare the lamb stock,first saute the bones from a leg portion of lamb with the bone marrow intact and all fat trimmed in a tbs of oil till the color changes and raw smell disappears.Then,add six cups of water along with a few pepper corns,a stalk of celery,a thumb size piece of ginger crushed, a few garlic pods, and two bay/laurel leaves and simmer on a very low flame for an hour or so.Keep removing the froth that forms on top and boil till stock reduces to half( 3-4 cups).Strain and just use the liquid.You could use chicken stock instead and the rest of the process would be same as above

Now, pressure cook all the lentils and barley after having soaked them for fifteen minutes.Mash the lentils and barley with the back of a spoon or alternatively, blend into a smooth paste.Mix the mashed lentils and barley with the lamb stock and return to the stove in a thick saucepan, cook on a low flame, adding salt and haleem spices.In case, you do not have haleem spices use 1 tsp of coriander powder, 1/4 tsp cumin powder, and 3/4 tsp garam masala .You can increase or decrease spice content as per your taste.Simmer for fifteen minutes after reducing the flame.

Now, brown the onion slices in the remaining oil and sprinkle on top of the the soup and serve it with mint leaves, and a twist of lemon on the side to add a tangy flavor to the soup.Fine sliced green chillies and juliennes of ginger are optional for the garnish.Yields three servings.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Aloo Methi Gobi

Wishing all the people of Kerela - A Happy Onam(A State Festival, commemorating the generosity of King Mahabali).

Aloo Methi Gobi is a dry dish from the kitchens of Punjab both( India and Pakistan).This is a dish you could prepare in a jiffy,(especially when you are back home tired from work )if you have the boiled vegetables handy. Tastes really good with roti/pita/khubs/any flat bread.


1 cup boiled cauliflower florets
2 large potatoes boiled and cubed
1 bunch fenugreek(methi)leaves
2-3 (kashmiri) red chillies
1 tsp each of finely chopped ginger-garlic
2 tbs tomato puree
1/4 tsp asafoetida
salt as required
2 tsp coriander powder(dhanya)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder(haldi)
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tbs oil

Clean and wash the fenugreek leaves add some salt and leave them for sometime (around half an hour).Then squeeze out the water thoroughly and reserve for later use.
Heat oil in a wok or kadai add the cumin seeds,kashmiri chillies, ginger- garlic,asafoetida, and let them sizzle, fenugreek leaves and cook till they wilt and lose their shape.Now, add the tomato puree and let it cook for a minute or two on a low flame.Then,add the boiled vegetables and coriander seed powder and toss till they are coated with the spice mixture.Add salt and sprinkle some water and simmer on a low flame for about 8 minutes.At the end, add finely chopped green chillies.You could use kasuri methi if you don't have fresh fenugreek leaves at hand.

variation:Aloo(potato) methi/gobi cauliflower)methi