Tuesday, 18 July 2017

RICE PUDDING IN SLOW COOKER AND A POST ON A SPICE- SAFFRON

RICE PUDDING IN SLOW COOKER AND A POST ON A SPICE- SAFFRON



Saffron is an exquisite and luxurious spice which is the most expensive spice in the world. I checked the price if I can buy online, yes it is available but I will have to pay $20 only for one gram or $500 for an ounce. I was always wondering why the price of this spice is always high, though I am using it from decades in my recipes and even seen my mom using this spice. But never did the investigation why the price is so high.


(This is not an advertisement, just showing the spice to my readers which  I used in this recipe.)

When I started writing this post, the first question in my mind came is to find out, why it is so expensive, after so much googling I got the following answer. The price is so high because it is the most labour-intensive crop. It is stated in the following website that 80,000 crocus flowers must be grown, cared, hand harvested and processed to make one pound of saffron. This is considered to be the most precious spice in the world. Ccheck this website.


One more reason for the high price is that it is produced in very few countries, India is one of them. It is grown in the Kashmir valley of North India. Even though it is very expensive, it is worth using because of its color, exotic flavour and is qualities. It is popularly known as “Kesar” in the Indian sub-continent and it is also called a gold spice.


In Indian cuisine, saffron is used in many sweet items particularly those prepared with milk or milk products like puddings, milk fudge, beverage in which milk is used, smoothies, home-made ice creams and many more. Apart from milk products, it is also used in Mughlai vegetarian and non veg dishes, stews, rich curries and in rice dishes like biryani etc. Saffron is used in European, Indian, Pakistani and Arab cuisine.


The aroma, flavour and colour of saffron are unique. When I use in cooking, I mix few threads of saffron in a small amount of warm milk and leave it to dissolve its colour and then mixed in the recipe to release its colour and aroma. Very small amount of these threads are used in cooking.


Saffron is used as medicine in many traditional Asian, Chinese, Unani and African methods of healing. In Indian Ayurveda, which is the ancient healing system, and is a science of healing with natural herbs and natural means, it is the best and most unique medicine, which can suite anybody, which improves the body immunity and gives energy to the body. Saffron improves circulation and purifies the blood. Saffron has a lot of minerals and vitamins. This spice has a lot of health benefits and some other uses are also there, which are explained nicely and in detail in the following website.
Apart from food, saffron is used in many skin products and face washes for a smooth and healthy skin.


I enjoy cooking using the slow cooker; it is not only easy and convenient but also aromatic and healthy. In Indian cuisine, we use a lot of spices to get the maximum health benefits, taste and aroma of these spices. Slow cooking is best in many recipes like this one. I have experienced that whenever I use the slow cooker, the aroma of the spices are really enhanced and that is when we can get the real benefits of these spices.
This is my mom's recipe, I am glad to share her recipe on my blog. I used the slow cooker for her recipe to enhance the flavour of this exotic spice saffron. This is a very simple recipe with very few ingredients.

RECIPE

INGREDIENTS

  • One liter milk
  • 100 grams white rice
  • 200 grams sugar
  • Few threads of saffron
  • Pinch cardamom powder

METHODS


  • Mix few threads of saffron in 2 tbs warm milk and mix it well, leave it for ten minutes to release its colour.
  • Rinse rice 2-3 times in water, till you get the clean water.
  • In a slow cooker add milk, rice, the mixture of water and saffron and cardamom powder and cook on high for four hours. Stirring after one hour.
  • When the pudding is thick enough add sugar and leave it for 15 more minutes.
  • This can be served hot or cold from the fridge depending on the taste.



Wednesday, 5 July 2017

CORIANDER CHUTNEY AND A POST ON A HERB AND A SPICE -CORIANDER/CILANTRO

CORIANDER CHUTNEY AND A POST ON A HERB AND  A SPICE -CORIANDER/CILANTRO

EDITED: This recipe was featured in the weekly blog party called Healthy happy and Green party, on 12-7 2017, Check here.

EDITED: This recipe was featured in the weekly blog party called Sweet Inspiration Party, on 15-07-17 Check here.


Coriander is also called cilantro in Northern America, which is a very popular herb and used in many cuisines of the world. Its fresh green leaves are used for garnishing because of its nice green colour and earthy aroma and also its many health benefits.

 
In Indian cuisine, coriander has been used from ages, not only as the fresh green leaves for garnishing but also the seeds and in ground form as seeds powder. In Hindi which is the national language of India, it is called “Dhania.”. Roasted Coriander seeds are also used in spice blend like sambhar powder of South India. In some parts of India, these roasted seeds are mixed in mouth fresheners and eaten as it is. In North India, it is commonly used in almost all curries and stews of lentils and vegetables, yoghurt dishes, lassis (savoury smoothies), fresh green salads, fruit salads, side vegetables and lentil dishes, either as seeds or as seeds powder. I mean, you just name it, and it can be used in most of the preparations.


 
In Indian cuisine, a lot of spices are used in everyday cooking. In a typical Indian kitchen, we use a special spice box, where we keep all the spices which we use in our everyday cooking, coriander powder is a must in that spice box. When I am talking about spice box, I remember one more incidence. The following photo of my spice box was published on a full page of Airdrie Life magazine together with my two recipes in April 2015. Those two recipes, I have already shared on my blog-Lentil Crepe and Carrot Halwa.

  
When the photographer from the magazine came to my house to take photos of those recipes, out of so many items in my kitchen, he really liked this spice box and said this is a unique piece because he had never seen it before. He even asked me, “How do you remember all the spices in it?” I told him, “This is very easy because I am the one who is filling these spices and I use them every day”. Normally the spices which are kept in this spice box are the common ones which we use every day in our kitchen. These type of spice boxes are normally a round stainless steel box with 7 or 9 individual stainless steel small bowls inside them. They come with a tightly fitted lid or a plain thin lid between the main lid and those small bowls so that spices do not mix when holding the whole box.


 
This spice coriander or cilantro is highly appreciated in Ayurveda (Ancient healing system of India) as a cooling spice. Cooling, in the sense that it helps in digestion and cools the stomach. It is mentioned in this website that by enhancing digestion, it works to alleviate the root cause of allergen reactions.



Coriander has many health benefits because it is a wonderful source of dietary fiber, magnesium, iron and other minerals. Green leaves have vitamin C, vitamin K and protein in it. Check this website for 16 amazing health benefits of Cilantro


Coming to the recipe, this is one of the most famous chutney of Indian cuisine, which is served in almost all Indian restaurants in India and abroad with snacks, samosas and other food items. In Indian cuisine, food is always served with pickles and chutneys and this is one of the famous ones. This is a simple recipe with few ingredients. Whenever this chutney is made, care should be taken about its consistency, it should not be watery or liquid. It should be thick enough like Jam which we can easily spread on a toast or a cracker, then only you can enjoy this chutney. This recipe is tried and tested; you can never go wrong with it.

 
RECIPE



INGREDIENTS



  • Two bunches of fresh green coriander leaves
  • Two tbs Chana dal/yellow flat lentil
  • 1 tbs oil for roasting the lentil
  • One medium onion
  • 3-4 green chilies (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbs white vinegar
  • 1 tbs sugar ( optional)



METHOD

  • Heat the oil in a frying pan and roast yellow lentils till they turn light brown and leave them aside to cool.
  • Rinse and chop cilantro, onion and green chilies.
  • Add all ingredients in a blender and pulse for 2-3 minutes till it is turning to a nice green, thick paste.
  • Keep it in the fridge, it can last for one month.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

BEETROOT BALLS IN CREAMY SAUCE/BEETROOT KOFTA CURRY

BEETROOT BALLS IN CREAMY SAUCE/BEETROOT KOFTA CURRY


When I visited the USA, the first time in 2009, I stayed with my daughter for one month, she told me to cook “Dum Aallo”, which is her favorite Indian curry in which baby potatoes are cooked in a creamy sauce. That time my daughter introduced me to a new ingredient called “half and half”, which is half cream and half milk and easily available in North America. I really liked it because this “half and half” is not so rich like full/whipped cream but still gives a creaminess and flavour to recipes like this one. So I used “half and half” in that baby potato curry, and everybody in the family enjoyed the curry. I was glad that I got the new ingredient which I can use in my cooking adventure.


The 2nd time I visited her again in 2010 when my second grandson was born. Before he was born, we were both shopping in a grocery store, and I thought of that ingredient (‘half and half’), which I had used a year before, but couldn’t recall its name and told my daughter to buy 50-50 milk. She asked with curiosity, “What is it, what do mean?” Then I reminded her, that in my last visit I used it when I made that baby potato curry. She laughed a lot and said, “Mom, that is called “half and half”. You see, at every new place, we learn so many new things and new names. I told myself, that I will try and remember all those new names in the future. Thank God, I didn’t use the name 50-50 milk in front of anybody. Now whenever I need some creaminess, aroma of the cream and that beautiful light creamy colour in curries or even in any other recipe, I use this fabulous ingredient called half and half.


Beetroot balls/kofta curry is my original recipe. Here, I would like to share with my readers, how I got the idea of this recipe. Last year in 2016, February, when I made cocktail kebabs for Darpan magazine's baisakhi issue, that magazine later published my recipe in their April issue. For those cocktail kebabs, I used spinach and beetroot to make the kebabs. I thought I can even make curry with these beetroot balls as I had already posted spinach balls with tomato sauce in 2015 on my blog which is one of my popular recipes on my blog. So that day I made some extra beetroot kebabs and made curry with the rest of them.


When I was planning to prepare this curry, I realised, I cannot use tomatoes because their red color will not match with the beetroot color, so I used half and half to give richness, taste and nice creamy color which can complement the beetroot colour. That curry was a total hit, I was happy because I made something, which is my own creation plus healthy, elegant and colourful for the family, as beetroot is considered to be a very healthy vegetable. I am always looking forward to learning new recipes which can use fresh and healthy vegetables like spinach and beetroot.

 


RECIPE
INGREDIENTS

  • 2 big beetroots (400grams)
  • 4 heaped tbs chickpeas flour
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp dhaniya powder(coriander powder)
  • 1 tbs oil for glazing and more oil for frying.

FOR CURRY
  • Two tbs oil
  • One onion finely chopped
  • One tsp ginger paste
  • One tsp cumin seeds
  • One tsp coriander powder
  • Salt and red chili powder to taste
  • Half litre Cream and milk mixture (Half and half)
  • One cup water


METHOD FOR BALLS/KOFTAS
  • Wash and cook beetroot in microwave for 6 to 8 minutes or boil in water till they are soft and cooked well
  • When cold, peel and mash further with a potato masher or in a food processor.
  • Dry roast chickpeas flour on a medium heat in a frying pan, till it is light brown; when cold, mix with mashed beetroot.
  • Add salt and pepper, mix well and make small balls with a little oil for glazing your palms.
  • Fry on a medium heat till it changes colour to a few shades darker.

METHOD FOR CURRY
  • Heat oil in a saucepan and add cumin seeds, when it changes the color to a few shades darker, add onion, ginger paste and roast till golden brown.
  • Add water and a half and half which is half cream and the half milk and let it boil.
  • Add beetroot balls and boil again, garnish with green coriander. Make sure that the beetroot balls should not release their red colour in the creamy curry, or balls can be added at the time of the serving.
  • Serve hot with naan, flat bread, dinner buns or rice,