Chana Ghashi – Guest Post

Folks,  I would like to introduce a new series of guest bloggers who absolutely are fabulous at what they do and are a pleasure to interact with. Beginning with a bang is Sreelatha – the first in the firecracker series of new age food bloggers. She marries the traditional cuisine to new age approach and bring in a wealth of those treasured recipes.

Sree and I met while we interacted as a part of a food forum and a  group we were passionate about. The love of good food and her awesome photography skills prompted me to write a few lines to her. And thus began nearly a year of interactions when it struck me – Gasp ! I really should have her write a post for me. After months of messages, kiddie emergencies, summer, navarathri – we finally made it. Presenting to you Sreelatha Shenoy, awesome food blogger and photographer . While you are here, please do visit her blog for more of those framed recipes !

In her own words ….

“I am Sreelatha and I blog at Framed Recipes. I met Jay through a FB food group called Euphoric Delights. The love of food and blogging helped us keep in touch outside of the food group. I was immensely happy when jay asked me to guest author a post for her .Its been a while since I agreed andshe was very patient all this while. Thanks for your understanding Jay.I am happy to share a recipe that my grandmother used to make when I was a little kid. It is a Konkani dish called the Chana Ghashi. Chana is black garbanzo beans and this gravy dish, served with rice, uses soaked and cooked black garbanzo beans, simmered in tangy-spicy coconut gravy. Along with the garbanzo beans, we also add vegetables like Suran (yam) or Kadgi/Kathal (tender jack fruit. Back in India, tender jackfruit was seasonal, but here in the US, a visit to an East Asian store gives me tons of canned tender jack fruit. Of course,it is not the real deal, but simmering it coconut gravy does make it better. :). I like the soft and juicy tender jackfruit in chana ghashi. So, I use a whole can. If you want few pieces of jackfruit, you can definitely reduce this quantity and use according to your taste.I have served this aromatic dish with steamed basmati rice and some pan roasted butternut squash.”

Chana_Ghashi_DSC5516

 

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Chana/Black Garbanzo Beans; soaked overnight
  • 1 can Tender Jackfruit in water; washed and drained (See Recipe Notes)
  • 1 cup grated coconut (fresh or frozen and thawed)
  • 2-3 whole red chillies (adjust to your taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Mustard Seeds
  • 4-5 Methi Seeds
  • 1 teaspoon Tamarind Pulp (See Recipe Notes)
  • Few drops of oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Tadka/Tempering
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Mustard seeds
  • 10-12 Curry Leaves

Method

  1. Pressure cook the soaked chana.
  2. Cut the tender jackfruit into bite sized pieces.
  3. Heat oil in a small pan and splutter the mustard seeds. When it starts spluttering, add the methi seeds and
  4. whole red chillies. Remove from when the methi seeds and red chillies change color and the mix becomes
  5. aromatic.
  6. Grind coconut with this mix along with tamarind pulp with a little water. 
  7. Add the tender jack fruit pieces and salt to the cooked chana and bring to a boil. 
  8. Add the ground coconut masala with the chana. Bring to boil. 
  9. Adjust the consistency, salt and other seasonings.
  10. Prepare the tempering – heat the oil in a small pan. Add the mustard seeds and when it splutters, add the curry
  11. leaves. Pour the seasoned oil along with the mustard seeds and curry leaves to the curry.
  12. Serve hot.

Chana_Ghashi_DSC5510

Recipe Notes

  • 1 can of tender jackfruit contains about 250g of jackfruit pieces. You can use fresh tender jackfruit instead of the canned ones. If using fresh, cook the jackfruit pieces separately before adding it to the chana.
  •  Instead of tamarind pulp, you use whole tamarind. For this recipe, use about a gooseberry sized tamarind and soak in some warm water to soften it up.

Kothamalli Podi – Fresh Coriander/ Cilantro Chutney Powder (Dry)

75 years of experience all bundled in a 5 feet petite frame. Hands that have worked a gazillion times to feed much of the family, friends of the family, extended family and friends of the extended family. And not necessarily gone by the book. She does not need measuring cups and tools. Her weathered hands just scoops and scores. Nothing fancy about it , but the taste is always impeccable. 

A bit of this and bit of that, and much love added as well. The age has definitely slowed down the bundle of activity a lot and I am witness to it . And just as to defy it, she clears the fridge out of 3 bundles of cilantro – fresh and not so fresh ones and makes her spice mix . Oh and what a hit it is at home. The flavor and aroma of it is simply outstanding and is a great accompaniment to everything from Idli’s and Dosai’s to a great topping on buttered toasts and sprinkled over fresh plain yogurt…Just eat it plain, with oil, swirled in yogurt or as you wish…Whatever you do , do not miss out on this one !

Kothamalli Podi - Fresh Coriander/ Cilantro Chutney Powder ( Dry)

 

A great way to finish up large bunches of abundant cilantro or coriander leaves, a great substitute for regular coconut or tomato chutney and molagaipodi, a wonderful spice flavoring for rice and an awesome way to eat up large quantities of green. A finger licking concoction from the hands of a culinary expert , my MIL .

 

Kothamalli Podi - Fresh Coriander/ Cilantro Chutney Powder ( Dry)

Prep time : 10-15 min +  over night drying time for washed coriander leaves

Active time : 15 min

Shelf life : 1 month , best stored in refrigerator to prevent loss of flavor

Ingredients:

  • Fresh coriander bunches, trimmed : 3 -4, large bunches
  • Channa Dal : 1/2 cup
  • Split, de husked Urad dal : 1/2 cup
  • Dry red chilies – 10 ( spicy kind)
  • Dry Bydagi or kashmiri chilies – 4 ( non spicy, but adds vibrant hue)
  • Sesame Oil/ Saffola oil/ canola oil : 2 Tbsp.
  • Asafoetida : A generous pinch ( 1 tsp.)
  • Salt : 1.5 tsp. + adjusted to taste
  • Dry tamarind : 3-6  inches
  • Powdered Jaggery : 1/2 tsp.
  • Turmeric powder : 1/2 tsp.

Method:

Preparation of the coriander leaves:

  • Trim the ends of the large bunches. I simply twisted out about 3 inches from the bottom to remove the stems. Wash in cold water very well. At least 3-4 times to remove the impurities.
  • Spread out on a paper towel or napkin, in a cool dry place to dry in shade. I usually do this very late in the evening and it dries overnight on the counter.

Preparation of the dry chutney mix:

  • In a wide skillet add half a tbsp. of the oil of choice and roast dry chilies and dry tamarind and set aside to cool.
  • Add in additional 1 Tbsp. of oil and roast the channa dal and urad dal sequentially to yield brown roasted lentils. Do not speed up this process. You will have burnt lentils on your hand. Medium high is the way to go. Also do not roast both the lentils together. Channa dal takes time to roast and split urad dal will brown faster. So take it step by step. Remove and set aside to cool.
  • Add in the remaining half tbsp. of oil and add the washed, dried  cilantro  with turmeric and half a tsp. of salt and wilt the cilantro. I believe this will also preserve the green color of the leaves. Remove and set aside to cool
  • In a blender, add the red chilies and roasted tamarind and blend to a coarse mix and set aside in a mixing bowl.
  • Add in the dals and jaggery and salt and whiz to a very coarse mix and empty out in the same mixing bowl.
  • Add in the wilted cilantro and whiz a couple of times to shred it, add in the dal- chili mix to give a final couple of spins to yield a very coarse, granular, dry mix.
  • Remove , taste test for salt and spices and store in cool dry place. As in my case, these were transferred to mason jars and stored in the refrigerator.

Kothamalli Podi - Fresh Coriander/ Cilantro Chutney Powder ( Dry)

Notes: Do not over blend , you will be left with a thick paste. Pulsing is the way to go. Your aim is to have a coarse powdery mix of cilantro and lentils. You will notice the natural flavor and texture of cilantro this way. Another option is to roughly chop the cilantro after drying it and before wilting it in the skillet. This way you will have more even mix rather than rustic  texture. Either way you cannot go wrong with it.

 

Kothamalli Podi - Fresh Coriander/ Cilantro Chutney Powder ( Dry)

 

Pic ref : If you are wondering above the tag on Manirathnam on one of my pictures it refers to a maverick and extremely talented director of Indian cinema – who made movies using the diffused and dark light effect.  When I shot this picture, I thought of him šŸ™‚

Roasted Garlic, JalapeƱo & Herb Focaccia Bread (Wheat)

Roasted Garlic, JalapeƱo & Herb Focaccia Bread ( Wheat)

This post has sat in drafts for a very long time. I have no clue why it took that long but all is well… Been  a bit scatter brained , but thatā€™s not unusual either. The usual activities of soccer and gymnastics and the seasonal prep of FRC begins. Maya, on the other hand has been the most unburdened of the lot as she explores the backyard like a new-found babe – after days of rain and blah weather , the sun gods decide to shine on us . You could see this gorgeous streak of black, shiny fur dashing about as she chases squirrels that have peeped our after a couple of weeks. And she makes the most of it. Streaking about or snoozing in the sun. She does make me en her sometimes ! Abundant energy and abundant love .. always .

Gorgeous day and I realize, I have about a dozen drafts – nope, honest not kidding, atleast a dozen drafts sitting in the folder waiting for their turn in the sun. And I shall oblige to the best of my ability.

Been to Panera bread? It’s like this secret joint for all bread lovers to unite . Much before the active baking bug bit me ( quite honestly it has not been too long, but lets just say for timeframe sake barely 18 months or so)  their neatly arranges loaves of bread and near tumbling brown fresh-baked ones from the basket were so inviting and tempting for me. Almost irresistible that I would inevitably come home with a couple at least. Well they are now too, albeit now, I use my discretionary powers and bring a couple more of the new ones as well to try their flavors. LOL! One of their creations would be this JalapeƱo cheese focaccia bread – a tiny piece of marvel with generous pepping of fresh jalapeƱo peppers. Yum –  O ! It’s like a sirens call for A1. He could never resist it and could polish a couple if not for mom’s “look”.Roasted Garlic, JalapeƱo & Herb Focaccia Bread ( Wheat)

Been wanting to try something akin to that one for sometime , and also wanted to incorporate fresh garden grown herbs in it. While I believe this was originally baked way back in early 2014 when I was starting out to look at yeast and not turn the other way ( been in the drafts folder too long ), baked it a couple quite a few times after that with ever pleasing results !

Roasted Garlic, JalapeƱo & Herb Focaccia Bread ( Wheat)

And here we go….

Prep time : 20 min 

Dough resting time : 60 – 75 min  + additional 25 min

Bake time : 25-30 min

Ingredients

Bread:

  • White whole wheat flour : 2 cups
  • All purpose flour : 1 and 1/4 cups
  • Brown sugar : 1 and 1/2 tsp.
  • Salt : 1 and 1/4 tsp.
  • Garlic salt : 1/4 tsp.  ( optional, but recommended)
  • Instant yeast : 2.25 teaspoon/ 1 sachet
  • Olive oil : 2 Tbsp.
  • Very warm water : 1 and 1/4 cup

Topping:

  • Fresh garlic cloves : 8-10
  • Fresh mint : About 1/4 cup of leaves
  • Fresh Cilantro : 1/4 cup of cilantro
  • JalapeƱo Peppers, green fresh : 2 – 3 big
  • Red chili flakes : 1 and 1/4 tsp.
  • Olive oil : 3 Tbsp.

Directions:

Preparing the Dough:

  • If using a stand mixer, I initially like to attach the paddle attachment and mix everything and then switch to the dough hook for kneading.
  • Add both the flours, salt and sugar and whisk well. Add the dry instant yeast (Since we are using the dry instant kind, we do not need to activate it. However if you are unsure, then proof the yeast in the warm water with sugar.)
  • Add the  2 Tbsp. of olive oil, then the very warm water and mix it well.
  • Switch to the dough hook and now knead it very well till you get a smooth dough. The dough is very soft and smooth. Not overtly sticky. If required add a tbsp. or so of extra APF to bring it to the desired smooth consistency.
  • Oil/ Grease a container . Cover the dough and let it rest in a warm place until it doubles in size ( 60-75 min). I simply spray the container of my mixing bowl and let it rise in it.

(Tip : During winter times/ colder weather , turn on the oven initially for a few min. When it hits a temp of say 150 F, turn it off. Once you knead the dough, place it in the warm oven for about an hour. It will help in making the dough rise faster.)

Preparing the Herb, Jalapeno Pepper & Garlic Spread:

  • In a toaster oven, line a baking tray with aluminum foil . Arrange the  cloves of garlic and jalapeƱo and drizzle about a 1 Tbsp. of oil and roast it on high. Mine hit the maximum at 450 F, so I used that setting for about 8 min or so.
  • You want these roasted well and not blackened, so do keep an eye out and prep according to the toaster oven.
  • Let this cool for a bit. Add these along with the fresh herb mix  and remaining 2 Tbsp. of oil, pulverize in a food processor / blender to from a coarse paste.
  • Add the chili flakes, mix, scoop and set aside. This will form the top layering for the bread.

Prep and Baking:

  • In about 60 min or so, the dough would have doubled in size. Gently deflate it.
  • Prepare a heavy baking tray by lining it with baking sheet or parchment paper. Generously  mist/ spray/layer it with olive oil.
  • Dump the deflated dough onto it. Using your hands work it to form a nice rectangle / oval, about an inch or so in thickness.
  • Cover it so it is prepped for the second rise where it will rise a bit more for about 25 – 30 minutes to yield a slightly puffy look.
  • Meanwhile preheat the oven to 400 F.
  • Once the dough is ready, using 2 fingers gently poke all over the surface of the bread. You are forming indentations and not tearing the bread dough apart.
  • Using a pastry brush if desired, spread the herb, and spicy pepper mix on the surface.
  • Bake for about 25 – 30 minutes or until it is nice golden brown on the top. Do not over bake please.

Roasted Garlic, JalapeƱo & Herb Focaccia Bread ( Wheat)

To serve:

  • Serve warm bread with a drizzle of olive oil /herb oil. Best eaten warm.

Go ahead, the focaccia bread is warm , inviting and I bet itā€™s a siren’s call for you too.

Roasted Garlic, JalapeƱo & Herb Focaccia Bread ( Wheat)

Whole Wheat Dark Chocolate Banana Breakfast Muffins

This is so not the case of life giving you way too many bananas . This is the case where I sort of threatened mock mutilation to the loving members of my family  because I wanted those two bananas to get over ripe to use for this recipe. I have secret minor addiction to pretty pictures on Pinterest ( ok not so secret any more ) but hey I can enjoy a good one now and then . While I do admire them, I so seriously need to invest some more time in understanding the mechanics of good photosā€¦When I found this on Pinterest, the one bowl ideology spoke to me – after all who like messy kitchens? And I seem to have had a bit of a downer mood today. So in a minor adaptation of that recipe we hit jackpot on this muffin. I know it says breakfast muffin , but kids are getting it for an afterschool snack — with a warm glass of milk. Edited verdict: Kids simply loved it !

Unlike the recent past, bananas do not get a chance to go over ripe here at home. Between the kids and M, hardly any gets left over. So yours truly had to get a fresh bag of ones to let 2 stragglers from the previous batch put to good use. Nearly had a sign out to not eat/ or even think of eating/ feeding maya, the ones that were on its way to get ripened or over ripened. And they were put to amazingly good use. These gorgeous muffins are so calling out your name! C’mon grab a bowl, make these and let me know how it turned out !!!

Whole Wheat Dark Chocolate Banana Breakfast Muffins

Notes: Using whole wheat pastry flour will  produce more soft muffins. My local grocery store does not stock it and my only option was to order in bulk . Using APF of course will yield you possibly more fluffier ones. While the original recipe calls for baking with honey, I am hesitant to heat up honey based on Ayurveda principles and would gladly use brown sugar in its stead. You can also use jaggery as well. If you do use jaggery you definitely would be adding to the nutritional quotient as it is chockfull of minerals and Iron too.  Would you like to make it vegan? Use apple sauce and cutback on yogurt , or use almond milk and use flax seed  ground and beaten in water as substitute for egg. It would yield a slightly more denser muffin though. But all in all this recipe is definitely a keeper. Oh yes! The one bowl adaptation of it would definitely work as well. When you reach step 4 in the instructions add the dry ingredients sequentially in the mixing bowl.Fold in the chocolate chips gently and reserve to sprinkle on top. Perfecto!

Whole Wheat Dark Chocolate Banana Breakfast Muffins

Prep time : 10 min               Baking time : 16-18 min          Yield 12 muffins

Recipe source : http://www.joyfulhealthyeats.com. This is a near faithful adaptation of the recipe .

Ingredients

  • White whole wheat flour : 1 +2/3 cups
  • Bananas : 2 – 3  over ripe and spotted ( mashed would equal a cup or so)
  • Brown sugar : 2 – 3  large
  • Vanilla Extract : 1/2 Tbsp. 
  • Thick  plain yogurt : 1/3  cup of it ( used home made)
  • coconut oil (melted ) : 1/3 cup 
  • Large Brown egg : 1
  • Dark Cocoa powder : 2 Tbsp.
  • Salt : Ā½  tsp.
  • Baking soda:1 tsp.
  • Dark chocolate chips : 1/2 cup

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Line a 12 cup muffin tray with paper cups.
  3. In a large bowl or bowl of your stand mixer, add the bananas and mash it. Add sugar, vanilla extract, yogurt, oil and egg and whip it till combined.
  4. In a separate bowl measure out white whole wheat flour, add the 2 Tbsp. of dark cocoa , baking soda and salt and mix it/ whisk it very well.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones and mix until combined.
  6. Add in the chocolate chips and reserve some to top it on the muffins .Fill each muffin tin  to Ā¾ of its well.
  7. Bake for 16-18 minutes.
  8. Serve warm / cold with a tall glass of milk, hot chocolate or coffee !

Whole Wheat Dark Chocolate Banana Breakfast Muffins

Ennai Kathirikai/ Stuffed Aubergine ( eggplant)/ Bharwan baingan

Ennai Kathirikai/ Stuffed Aubergine ( eggplant)/ Bharwan baingan

Joaquin, the category 4 hurricane mercifully spared the inner city areas of NC while it unleashed a torrential outpour in outer lying areas and SC and submerged quite a few as well . We, in the heart of the city were subjected to cold and drafty weather and incessant rain. The entire week was under its onslaught and to add to its mix a housebound active Labrador , what do you get?  You might just have some America’s Funniest Videos happening right here ( unintentional of course !)ā€¦

Maybe I should send in a couple so I can finally hit the jack pot . M alternated between hyper playing in the basement and moping at the front door. Add to drinking copious amounts of water, it was quite funny to watch this one who would not hesitate to roll in pack of slimy mud ( mud bath anyone? Au natural therapy for shiny skin)  to recoil on wet grass. Wet grass really ? Go figure!!

So with soccer games and classes cancelled ( Really the fields were marshes. I could imagine a LOTR scenario. Frodo….step back !)  and a conscious cancelling ( is that even a term ?) of Sunday classes for the rest, it was a day or rather morning of respite. M got to have her bath – A2 and A3  gave her one  and joined in the soapy shower  and I could hear them laughing away like loonies. Yours truly got a bit sappy and sort of Brady Brunch kind and made this for a Sunday afternoon lunch !

Tender Baby eggplants are stuffed with a special blend of spices, lentils and one secret ingredient ( ha ha ha). Trimmed and cut to be filled ( or rather stuffed) with this special dry mix powder/ stuffing , they are then gently slid on to a wide skillet with seasoning and covered and cooked with minimal oil. Yep! You heard me right , reduced quantity of oil and yet these baby beauties pack a punch when had – with a bowl of steaming hot rice and accompanying sambar or with hot phulkas and tadka moong dal.

Prep time : 20 min    Cooking time 15-25 min       Serves : 3-4

Ingredients:

Vegetable:

  • 12 baby purple eggplants

Seasoning:

  • 1.5 Tbsp. of  oil
  • 1/4 tsp. of mustard seeds
  • A generous pinch of Asafoetida
  • 4-5 fresh green curry leaves
  • 1/4 tsp of split, washed, de husked Urad dal

Stuffing: to be roasted  and ground to yield coarse mix

  • Oil : 1 tsp.
  • Channa Dal : 1/4 cup
  • Coriander seeds / Dhania : 1/4 cup
  • Sesame seeds/ Til : 2 Tbsp.
  • Split urad dal : 2 Tbsp.
  • Dry red chilies : 8 ( adjust to spice level)
  • Bydagi or Kashmiri chili : 2 ( optional, yield rich red color without heat)
  • Dry tamarind : 1 inch piece
  • Peanuts w or w/o skin: 2 tsp.
  • 1 tsp. of salt. – to be added to the final mix

1

Method:

Preparing the Stuffing mix:

  • In a wide bottomed , thick non stick or cast iron skillet heat a tsp of oil and roast/fry the dry red chilies initially. Drain and set aside. In the seasoned skillet with remnants of oil add in the peanuts and tamarind piece, roast well and set aside.
  • Now sequentially roast the ingredients listed. You do not want these to be roasted all together as the sesame seeds are quick to burn by the time the lentils/dal are done. Trust me it takes only a few minutes , so do it sequentially. Worth it .
  • Set it aside to cool well.  Once cooled very well, grind to a granulated state aka coarse powder.  Add a tsp. of salt and mix well.
  • Use as much as required for the stuffing and a tbsp. or so to sprinkle some on the top. Reserve the rest of it, if any, as seasoning or topping for  other vegetables. Makes an awesome one for potatoes as well. And for tondli too. 

Trimming, slicing and stuffing the eggplant:

  • I personally do not like to retain the tails of the eggplants, hence I trim them out . And quarter them so they open like a flower ( take care not to slice them completely ). 
  • In a wide saucepan fill it with water and dunk these eggplants in them.  Why? Well if you do not you will black oxidized ones on your hands. Very unappealing:-(
  • Once the prep for all these eggplants are done, drain them out one by one and  fill them with dry stuffing mix you have prepared.
  • They should be gently pried apart and stuffed with dry mix. Because they were dunked in water, the moisture will help the dry stuffing mix to adhere to the eggplants.

Cooking the stuffed aubergines:

  • In a wide bottomed skillet ( use the one you previously used for roasting the stuffing), add the 1.5 Tbsp of oil.
  • On heating add the generous pinch of Asafoetida , curry leaves, mustard seeds and urad dal. Let them crackle and the lentils brown.
  • Now gently slide and arrange each stuffed eggplant in a single layer. Reduce the flame to medium high and sprinkle some water – about a couple of tablespoons worth at the most and cover. Let it cook / steam/braise for about 7-10 minutes or so. If they are really tender eggplants they would be cooked near through now.
  • Remove the lid and with aid of tongs, gently flip it so now it roasts on the other side. If the eggplants are completely cooked, you can leave it uncovered at this stage. If not cover it and let it cook again for another 5 minutes.
  • Finish the cooking process with uncovered cooking  for about 5 -7 minutes to aid in removing any sogginess left and to crisp up the eggplants a bit.
  • Note: add a dash of salt if you think you might need a bit more.

 

Serve hot with steaming hot rice with a dollop of ghee and fresh Sambar. Ambrosia !

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