Chicken and Red Lentil Stew – a complete ONE POT meal (Suran & Red Lentil Stew)

There are times when I really want a hearty meal but don’t have the energy to stand and cook an elaborate meal. Its a times like that I turn to One pot meals, served with a warm baguette it is a filling , healthy and easy and quick to meal option which NO compromise on taste whatsoever! Moreover its home made , has flavour and is a satisfying experience to make .

I had been meaning to try and cook a stew using red lentils (masoor – Marathi for red lentil )for some time , they are my most favourite lentils and I am ALWAYS stocked up on a large 2 kilo pack of dried red lentils split and without skin , from my local Indian grocery shop at Tooting called Dadu’s. Also since all the other fresh ingredients were procured from my local LIDL this dish is GREAT value for money too! Am totally in love with the FRESH fruits and vegetable selection at LIDL right now.I bought some bright red long crunchy sweet peppers, a pack of medium hot chillies, fresh chicken breast fillets, a very cute packet of garlic, mixed pack of cauliflower and broccoli florets and a packet of gorgeous looking Shallots.( I have always wondered why the lentils are called RED when clearly they are a  lovely light orange colour !)

I love inventing a recipe as I go along and when I got my vegetable tray out on Sunday morning I had all these lovely vegetables staring at me and I just threw in what I thought would taste good together and VOILA ! A Steaming hot , thick, wholesome and tasty chicken and red lentil broth was born.

I love having some baby potatoes in stock and they are always handy in a stew , besides being quite the self proclaimed ”queen of curries” I always am well stocked on Indian spices so bay leaves and cinnamon sticks aplenty in my kitchen larder – oh yes

Please don’t feel put off by the ingredient list , trust me they marry well together in the taste department and the end result is well worth your time and effort!

The biggest bonus of this stew recipe is that you can create your OWN vegetarian version by replacing the chicken with Quorn or if you don’t for some reason like or have never tried or have no access to Quorn then try replacing the chicken fillets with  Suran/Elephant Foot Yam, it can be chopped into big chunks and it takes up flavours very easily. But with the yam the cooking time drastically will reduce as it can go from just right and chewy to soft, goeey or totally disappear into the stew ! My aai (mum) always used suran as a meat replacement and marinated it well in the spices we would use for chicken or lamb and made a thick gravy dish with it, when I was younger she has managed to fool me many times over thinking it was mutton 🙂 – Aai I miss you and all the food you cook – sigh…. no India trip in sight anytime soon 😦

(Dangerous though it looks the elephant foot yam is very very tasty! )

suran

Cross Section:

surancut

Above 2 Images Credit here

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Serves:4  Preparation Time: 10 minutes  Cooking time:35 minutes

Ingredients:

  • Red Lentils / Massor Dal -3/4th cup
  • Chicken breast mini fillets – 750gm / Comparable Quorn fillets
  • 5-6 baby potatoes
  • 6 shallots approx 200gm
  • 2 large sweet and crunchy pointed Red Peppers – approx 200gm
  • 2 short medium hot chillies
  • 2-3 bay leaves dry
  • red chilli flakes as per taste
  • sea slat as per taste
  • 1 veg stock pot
  • 3 dried red kashmir chillies
  • 1 large roll of cinnamon
  • 4 tbsp sunflower oil
  • handful of Broccoli and Cauliflower florets
  • 2 large tbsp of tomato puree or half of a large tomato finely chopped
  • Red chilli powder
  • Sugar 2 tsp

Method:

  • Wash and soak the red lentil in water to soften them so they cook more quickly then get on with all the other chopping and cutting prep’s.
  • Chop the shallots lengthwise.
  • In a large stew pot or huge saucepan heat the oil and add the bay leaves,cinnamon stick and dry red kashmiri chillies which I have a very big packet of and am trying to finish , they only add colour and no heat so if you don’t have these you can totally leave them out – no harm done here.
  • Now add red chilli powder and sugar and just when the sugar starts to caramelise add the shallots and shallow fry them till they reduce and begin to turn a lovely brown colour.
  • Now add the 2 large tbsp’s  of tomato puree or half of a large tomato finely chopped and stir till it mixes well with the shallots.
  • Add the roughly chopped long red peppers and baby potatoes and saute’ for 2 minutes.
  • Add the washed chicken fillets/suran (elephant yam), soaked red lentils with the water it was soaked in.
  • Add the washed and roughly chopped Broccoli and Cauliflower florets and now add enough water.
  • I did not measure the water I added but add enough to get a nice thick stew , while the ingredients are cooking together on a low flame ,feel free to top up with more water as the lentils easily soak up as much water as you feed it with. Having said that you don’t want to end up with a watery stew so don’t add more than 3/4th cup at one go.
  • Season with sea salt , I love MALDON SEA SALT which I use and I have a few packets ALWAYS stashed away, great n salads it is!
  • Then sprinkle red chilli flakes and gently place a veg stock cube on top on this lovely pot of goodness bubbling away. I prefer the KNORR veg stock cubes , they have a great bouquet of flavour and are very handy at times when am exhausted and need to quickly cook up something tasty!
  • Stir well, cover with a lid and cook on a medium flame.
  • The red lentil will froth as they cook not to worry simply stir now and then and mix well, don’t allow the stew to get too thick we want enough lovely gravy to slurp this stew and dip the baguette into!

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I was so hungry that I didn’t click any photos of my lovely fresh ingredients but it was a brilliantly sunny day yesterday and after this wholesome stew for lunch we had to really force ourselves to go and get some much needed fresh air at Morden Hall Park – I happily left my smartphone behind so photos to share but suffice to say that it was a gorgeous walk through the huge grounds and we saw many happy families ,happy couples and cute old folks and even happier kids and dogs romping around in the muddy park  fun! And because we were so good we treated ourselves to hot tea and a sandwich at a local Turkish Cafe 😉 hehehe

Am very happy and proud of this new original recipe creation from my experimental kitchen. Next time I make this stew I will smoke the sweet and crunchy long red peppers and peel off the skin , to add a deep smoky flavour to the stew and not have the skin floating around – double whammy I say 🙂

1-1st Feb'14 Chicken & Red Lentil Stew1

Am linking this recipe to Made with Love Mondays hosted by Mark at his wonderful  blog called  CookinwLuv

Made with Love Mondays Resized Badge

Strawberry flavoured Shrikhand with Chobani yogurt

It was love at first bite for me with Chobani yogurts! Difficult to imagine that such deliciously thick and creamy yogurt can be TOTALLY FAT FREE, yes you heard that right – 0% fat!

Well then after gobbling several pots over the 3 days of Food Blogger Connect I had major withdrawal symptoms and needed a ‘’pot’’ of Chobani asap. When I wrote to them asking if I would like to experiment with some Indian Recipes with Chobani thick strained yogurt, they sent me a whole box! Golly!

So here I am with so many pots of deliciousness it took me a few days to gather my senses and get cooking 😉

I know a dessert recipe is like ‘’leave the best for the last’’ sort of a thing but darlings this one is such a traditional yet simple one that my fingers won’t let me type any of the others so here it is :

Strawberry Shrikhand

Ok So Shrikhand has cult status amongst us Maharashtrian so much so that it is a must have in our wedding menus back home. Oh yes Shrikhand and Puri is a like a treat fit for a king…err and a queen – of course 😉

So the whole trick lies in making the best possible perfectly strained thick set yogurt, tied in muslin and left in a refrigerator overnight to get what is also known as ‘Chakka’. It is NOT easy. But with Chobani since it ALREADY is so THICK and Strained it is the best yogurt to just spoon out of a pot and start making this dessert with.

Serves: 4

 Prep Time: 5 minutes

 Chill Time: 1 hour for the mixture and then to be kept chilled before serving

You will Need:

  • 1 whole pot of Chobani Strawberry yogurt 170gm, do not take all the juicy bit if you like Shrikhand very thick (but truly great Shrikhand is creamy and not too thick , it has got to be – well – perfect like Chobani!)
  • 150gm sugar
  • 1 heaped tsp cardamom powder
  • A tiny pinch of saffron
  • Toasted blanched almonds to garnish

Method:

  • Gently fold in sugar into the yogurt in a glass bowl, taking care not to ‘’beat’’ the mix
  • Leave to chill in the refrigerator for an hour, this way the sugar completely dissolves into the yogurt and does not affect the consistency of the mixture.
  • To this mixture now add the cardamom powder and saffron.
  • The shrikhand will now have a thick consistency and fall off a spoon in thick folds.
  • Serve chilled in a generous dollop of a portion with toasted almonds to garnish.

The traditional process involves passing the sugar and yogurt mix through a sieve to ensure any big bits of cream are removed to allow a smooth as silk feeling on the tongue. But again since Chobani has done all this for you there is no need, with the 3 biggest steps eliminated making this dish is a doddle!

(The 3 big steps we have eliminated are: making the set yogurt, straining it using a muslin cloth to remove all the water and the part where the sugar and yogurt chilled mix is strained)

Chobani Strawberry Close up shot

Traditionally either plain Shrikhand which is a pale yellow colour due to saffron food colour being added or then Mango flavoured Shrikhand which contains mango pulp and bits of mango is served. But of course there’s nothing to beat the taste of homemade creamy Shrikhand.

Strawberry Shrikhand final shot

Key Lime Pie, my Dexter obsession and lunch with my food blogger buddies!

Key Lime Pie – or one of Dexter ”victims” last meal, (who wanted to be a well ”victim”, if you watch Dexter as obsessively as I do, you will know! Season 3 episode 8 – Easy as Pie)

Well this popular American Dessert is really an easy to make and delicious dessert to make and serve and I decided to make this for my fellow food blogger friends Vineetha who blogs at Malabar Ruchi and Nisha Thomas who blogs at My Kitchen Antics, last week.The photographs of the pie in this post are thanks to both Vinni and Nisha.Recipe adapted from Martha Stewarts Website and from BBC good Food– click on hyperlinks to view.

Key Limes get their name from the association with Florida Keys and because they are the main flavouring ingredients in well,Key Lime Pie! I have used the darker green skinned limes and they give that much required and tangy citrus taste to the pie.

Ingredients:(Serves 8)

  1. 300gm HobNobs (hob nobs is the U.K version of the U.S Graham Crackers, use any biscuit/ cracker that will give you a good crumbly base)
  2. 150gm unsalted butter melted and cooled
  3. 1 *397gm tin of  Nestle Condensed Milk
  4. 4 egg yolks
  5. Zest and juice of 4 limes

Method:

  • Put the hobnobs into a thick, strong,food grade plastic bag and give them a good bashing , what fun , totally de-stressing! Or if you are less violent and do not watch Dexter then please use a food processor.
  • Mix these beautiful crumbs with the soft melted and cooled butter in a bowl,my big orange plastic bowl is so good for this (for a quick peek at the bowl check out my post about cookies and headache ok well just cookies tehehehe)
  • Firmly pat onto a tart tin 22 cm is what I have , I used a thick white ceramic pie pan which I purchased earlier on in the day and ended buying a gorgeous Brita Water Filter with it too, I love low price deals and my old water filter jug needed to be chucked!
  • Bake the base for 10 minutes in a pre heated oven at 160C/fan 140C/gas 3
  • Then separate the 4 egg yolks from the whites and add the entire tin of condensed milk, whisk for about 3  minutes , good if you have an electric whisk , I was making this pie at an obscenely late hour in the night and didn’t dare use my electric whisk ;), so had to mix really well for about 5 minutes.
  • Zest the limes so that some of the zest can go into the mix and some can be used to dress the pie
  • Now add the juice of the limes and some of the zest into the egg & condensed milk mix and whisk for another 3 minutes.
  • Pour onto the cooled base and bake for another 10 minutes.
  • Cool completely on a wire rack and then refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.
  • Dress the pie with some more lime zest, I didn’t want to do the whipped cream bit on the top but ended up using the ready made squeezy ready to use cream from a can, it sits very quickly and if you do not consume immediately it will form a puddle on the top so please avoid !

This is a wonderfull dessert to be shared with friends and family and is apt for weekend meals, make ahead and refrigerate.Great for summers!

Key Lime Pie n some pine cones

 

Key Lime Pie dug in

 

Oh so good ...ummlicious

Sun Dried Tomato and Chilli Spiced Bread

It’s amazingly sunny this week and my spirits are up so I decided to make some  spiced bread with sun dried tomatoes and chilli, it turned out so yum I want to gobble it all up! This bread is a very filling,wholesome bread and is great for mopping up a thick gravy or having perfectly scrambled eggs with asparagus sprigs a dollop of butter – ah – sounds heavenly, my breakfast tomorrow for sure!

The oil from the sun dried tomatoes and the oil that goes in dough and really adds to the taste. It takes some kneading as I don’t own a bread maker (yet !) and didn’t really want to get into the hassle of trying the dough function on my food processor, still if you do possess one the bread bread dough tools, good for you!Recipe adaptation from here

Considering it was my first ever homemade bread, it turned out really nice, bursting with aroma and rich flavours and am now prepared to move on to well more bread making!

Ingredients:

  • 500 gm strong bread flour
  • 25 gm butter
  • Sun dried tomatoes and chillies about a large spoonfull
  • A sachet yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 280 ml water at room temperature
  • Plain white flour for kneading
  • Oil from the chillies and tomato
  • Oil to grease loaf tin
  • Cling Film

Method:

  • Sift the flour and add the yeast salt and sugar with a wooden spoon.
  • Ensure butter is soft and rub in the butter with your hands till the mix looks like breadcrumbs.
  • Add the finely chopped sun dried tomatoes and chillies and some of the oil and mix well.
  • Now add the water slowly, folding it using a wooden or plastic spatula and then knead to make the dough.Keep kneading till a soft dough forms, fold in some oil and plain flour as and when needed.It will take about 15 minutes, yes I know but its worth it!
  • While kneading use the same process as you would while kneading chapati/roti aata , kneading out from center and then folding sides back into the center.
  • Cover in cling film and coat with some more oil. Leave to rise for about 2 hours in  a warm and dry place.
  • Now remove the cling film and knead the risen dough again at least for 8-10 minutes, you will notice that the dough will loose air and will almost go back to its original size.Its like mini air pockets getting tiny punches with your hands.
  • Repeat the cling film process and leave to rise for 30 minutes in a loaf tin in a warm place.
  • Preheat oven to 210 degrees , I have a fan oven,bake for 25 minutes,to ensure it’s well risen.
  • Cool in the tin for 10 minutes and then on the wire rack.
  • Serve sliced and enjoy with curries as a great alternative to regular wholemeal bread or as I plan to tomorrow with soft, perfectly done runny scrambled eggs, thinly sliced ham and asparagus sauteed in butter!

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Kairee Panhe/ Raw Mango Summer Cooler/Aaam Ka Panna

It’s almost 40 degrees Celsius in the afternoon in Pune nowadays, summer is at it’s peak, one needs to keep the mind and the body in sync and cool, at times like this a chilled summer drink and that too one made from raw mangoes is a treat, more so if it’s made by my old mother who is recovering from knee replacement surgery and is walking around using a walking stick. She is just waiting to get back on her feet and go into the kitchen and cook up stuff but under strict orders from her doc can only do so about once in 2 days.

Growing in Mumbai , summer holidays were great fun with my cousins around, mum always made loads of this concentrate from raw mangoes and it was such a treat to come home all sweaty and panting and drink tall glasses of this tangy cooler doused with ice cubes of various animal shapes 😉 aaahhh summer holidays!

You will need :

  1. 4 raw mangoes
  2. sugar as per the quantity of pulp generated
  3. Green Cardamon /elaichi powder
  4. Freshly ground black pepper powder
  5. Aniseed / Vilayati Saunf
  6. Chilled water
  7. Strainer

I picked these raw mangoes from my granny’s garden , they look stunning don’t they ?

Raw Mangoes

These need to be pressure cooked ,give them 2 whistles, drain the water and allow to cool.

in the cooker these beauties go !

Once these are boiled and have cooled down , peel the mangoes and collect all the lovely green pulp in a vessel, sugar proportion to be added is 3 times the quantity of the pulp , so if the pulp of these 4 mangoes was to fit into a small bowl of about 200gms capacity sugar would be 600 gms. Stir in the sugar into the pulp and keep stirring until it is completely dissolved , add a large spoon of elaichi powder,some freshly ground black pepper,some aniseed ground  – green Cardamom powder and give this mix a stir in the mixer for just about a minute .Store in a glass jar in the fridge. Do not freeze.Remember never to add salt to this mixture , only while preparing the drink from the concentrate add salt in the glass, salt will turn this concentrate into a dark green colour and cause a bout of food poisoning !

While preparing the cooler , add 2 spoons of the raw mango concentrate and add a pinch of salt to this, top up with cold water and strain after mixing to remove any strands from the pulp, add ice cubes,dress it up with a  spring of mint if you will and drink up home made  goodness!aaahh ! Summer !

Tempting glass of Kairee Panha !

a big bottle full of panha ummmm

”POSH ”Victoria Sponge Cake

What better way to celebrate the excitement surrounding the Olympics happening in London than sinking my teeth into a perfectly delicious soft Victoria Sponge Cake !

It’s an easy recipe and the result left me feeling like so very happy !

I tried to read up online why it is called a ”Victoria” Sponge cake and the apt answer seems that since Queen Victoria loved this soft cake with her afternoon tea ! So I am going to savour the cake and afternoon tea as I cheer myself hoarse in front of the telly whilst watching the Olympics 🙂

Lovely! So let’s get baking and when your done gobbling some of it , drop me a line and let me know how much you enjoyed creating this yummy delight !

This cake serves 8 people, takes about an hour to prepare.

I choose to call it ”POSH” because that’s Victoria Beckham’s pop name,our very own British star and this cake is modernised version of a British Classic recipe with a twist as it is layered with Creme Chantilly’ – very posh sounding indeed !

Ingredients:

  1. 225 g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
  2. 4 Medium sized eggs, organic if you please
  3. 225 g caster sugar
  4. 225 g self-raising flour
  5. 4- 5 Large tablespoons of Strawberry Jam , the traditional version uses raspberry Jam, I used strawberry conserve.
  6. 250 gm fresh strawberries sliced lengthways
  7. Icing Sugar for dusting on top of the cake
  8. Soda Bicarbonate – 1 teaspoon
  9. Baking Powder 1 Teaspoon

To make the  crème Chantilly:

  1. 300 ml double cream – so sinful 😉
  2. 25 g icing sugar
  3. I tiny cap full of Vanilla essence , the original recipe inspired by The Good Food Channel advises to use – 1 vanilla pod, halved lengthways and seeds scraped or vanilla extract- Please click on the hyperlink to see the original recipe on The Good Food Channel website !

METHOD :

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Grease and line two 18cm cake  tins with a removable based with baking paper.I inauguarted my brand new weighing scales and cute cake tins I purchased for all future cake making experiments !
  2. Put the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and cream well until light and fluffy – this will take at least 10 minutes to get it properly aerated.Use the 10 minutes you have to wash and clean the strawberries and slice them lengthwise.This was also a first for me in terms of using my food processor to mix the butter and sugar mix.Then empty this butter sugar mix into a large mixing bowl , I also have a NEW nice bright Orange bowl !
  3. Break each egg and add one at a time , whisk the mixture  well after each addition to ensure its soft and fluffy.
  4. Add the self-raising flour to the above butter ,sugar and egg mixtures , I added one spoon at a times and mixed it really well each time . Add the Bicarbonate of soda and Baking Powder to this mixture , I used this as I do in every cake but the original good food channel recipe does not mention these 2 ingredients.Later I used a hand blender to really get this mixture feel like one entity and till it felt right to pour into the ready cake tins .
  5. Now pour the above cake mix in equal portions into the  2 cake tins and smooth the top with a plastic spoon, the type you get with a food processor.
  6. Bake for 20 minute,with a timer , until risen and golden. Ensure you do not go over the 20 minutes,also if you are using a fan oven like I do , use only the setting that heats from below.
  7. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes, then remove from the baking pans and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

For the crème Chantilly:

  1. Put the cream in the food processor , add the icing sugar and  the vanilla essence. Whip to the soft peak stage, using the slow speed setting  then refrigerate until slightly firmed.
  2. Take the strawberry jam into a small pan and warm gently whilst stirring ,use low flame and do not leave on pan for tool long.
  3. Remove the cakes from the cake tin , on the top of one cake spread the jam from the pan and add the chopped strawberries .
  4. Then get the Creme Chantilly’ from the fridge and spread generously over this.
  5. Place the second cake on this and press down ever so gently .
  6. Dust the top of this lovely sponge cake with a bit of icing sugar and decorate with a blob of the Creme Chantilly’ and some sliced strawberries !

Voila , the classic British cake with a twist – Posh Victoria Sponge is ready for you to savour, impress your family and friends and enjoy baking over and over again !

The above recipe is now part of an exciting link up with Delicious Dish Tuesday , to find out more please click on the link below- please copy and paste the below URL into your browser window,also look for the ”Delicious Dish Tuesday”Badge on this blog 🙂

http://www.mamachocolateblog.com/delicious-dish-tuesday-recipe-link-up-23.html

 

Shahi Khichadi

I have decided to finally upload some of the recipes which received a lot of comments on my Facebook food album and I ended up sending out the recipe by email to many of contacts . Here is one of the easier and more popular ones . When I was a kid when my mother said ”khaichadi” in response to what’s for dinner ? it usually meant that one of us feverish and needed something gentle on the tummy or one of us was trying to recover from an upset tummy .Of course the taste of the boiled rice and green gram halved and with skin on or the yellow version without skin , is ultimately satisfying a great comfort food when served piping hot with a dollop of ghee and some warm milk ,a good night’s sleep guaranteed !

But my version is spicy ,with a tasty twist and a lot of fun to cook and even more fun to eat .

I adopted this recipe from the way my mother makes khichadi and also from how my pal S of http://www.jainfoodie.com makes Jain Dal Khichadi . I choose to call it Shahi meaning Regal or Royal here because it is rather a posh version of the humble boiled version. Khichadi meaning an Indian for a slurpalicious RICE and lentil dish cooked like a pulav /pulao/pilau /pilaf.

Ingredients (enough to serve 2 with second and maybe a third helping !)

  • Rice 1 cup
  • A Mix of the following in equalish parts in the same cup used to measure the rice – Massor Dal also called Red Lentils-split and skinless, Moong Dal also called Green Gram yellow we will use the  spilt skinless variety and the split green moong dal with green skin on , Urid Dal also called Black Gram halved with skin ,some Toor Dal also called pigeon peas – yellow spilt and skinless .
  • 1 large red Onion
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 2-3 Bay leaves
  •  Bits of Cinnamon bark
  • 2 cloves of garlic smashed with skin on
  •  2 green chillies
  •  Jeera / Cumin
  •  Hing / Asafoetida
  • Salt to taste
  • Red Chilli Powder
  • Turmeric Powder
  •  2 small potatoes
  •  Few Curry leaves
  •  Few Cloves
  •  Few black whole peppercorns
  • 18. Oil for sauteing
  • Some Ghee – maybe 2 spoons – Clarified Butter

Method :

  • Wash the rice and lentils and place them in a pressure cooker ,add 4 cups (use same cup as the one used to measure the rice and the dals) of water and another to make it a little softer than regular rice ,pressure cook till 4 whistles are done.
  • Once the steam slowly releases from the cooker , you can open the lid and it will look like the picture below but a bit different in colour because when I made this I was short on red lentils so didn’t add them . Actually even you make this dish with rice and only yellow moong dal it will taste just as good 🙂

  • While the cooker is cooling down ,chop the potatoes into longish strips and stir fry them in hot oil till they turn brown, add some salt, sprinkled over them just as they get done, these potato fries are our garnishing to add that REAL REGAL or SHAHI touch to the dish . Once done keep them aside and STOP yourself from munching on them before your dish is ready , my husband managed to gobble quite a few ,pretending he was helping me ”stir” the onions while I clicked pictures ..grrrrr

  • Now Lets prepare the tadka /tarka or the tempering. First slice the onion and the tomato vertically into thinish slices .
  • Add oil about 2 large tablespoons into a pan and one teaspoon of ghee just for flavour and aroma , when this mix is hot add some hing , then add the jeera and the crushed garlic and the 2 green chillies spilt along the middle lengthwise as it opens them up and allows the pungent seeds to spread through the tempering , one kick ass way to add that hotttt KICK to the dish ,trust me this one is explosive spicy HOTT as it has all the ingredients to help the taste explode in your mouth, saute till the garlic is brown and the garlic’s skin starts to crackle , then add the cloves, the whole black peppercorns , bits of the barks of Cinnamon ,curry leaves, bay leaves and keep stiring this mixture to prevent charring or over heating ,it will look like in the picture below :

  • Then add the chopped onion, It should look like the picture below:

  • Then after a while when the onion has begun to turn a lovely pinkish ,brownish colour and looks the picture below it’s time to add the tomato .

  • Now add the vertically sliced tomato slices , I can assure you that now the potent aroma of all those lovely spices and the onion are stirring up quite an appetite inside you and making you hungrier every passing minute .

  • I dislike chunky bits of tomato floating in my mouth while I gobble up the khichadi so I jus a flat wooden spatula and gently ensure that the tomatoes are totally mashed  in a way that allows the mixture to become one entity, it should look like in the picture below :

  • Add just a bit of red chilli powder and some turmeric powder to the mixture above and add salt to taste ,Now add the cooked rice and lentil mixture to the above tempered mix of spices ,onions and tomatoes ,mix well stirring well, add salt again enough to flavour the rice and lentil mix .

  • It’s almost done , just keep this on a low flame for about a minute or two to allow the flavours of the spices to penetrate deep inside the rice and lentils .

  • The SHAHI KHICHADI is now ready to be garnished! Yay 🙂

  • WOW now doesn’t that look awesome ? I am quite proud about this creative production from my kitchen , hope you relish it as much as I did errr we did , hubby had to agree 🙂
  • If you fear that all the spices may be a bit too much for your sensitive palate prepare a quick cooling cucumber and curd accompaniment . Beat 2 spoons of set yogurt or thick flowing yogurt and add tiny square bits of fresh cucumber , season with a bit of salt ,some sugar and some jeera powder to taste .

Enjoy !

Goda Sheera (Sooji Halwa in Hindi, Prasadacha Sheera for Satyanarayan Pooja)

I have been planning for ages to make some goda sheera (goda =sweet in Marathi , my mother tongue and sheera stands for a sweet preparation made using Semolina as the primary ingredient ). I wanted to prepare this for Holi but was too lazy to do it but on Gudi Padwa , which is the Maharashtrian New year , I decided to be a good girl and preapre this sweet dish and offer it to my favourite god Ganpati Bappa:)

I love using milk and mashed bananas as it reminds me of the way my elder Sister prepares it and also of the many Satyanarayan Pooja Prasad (Prasad = offering made to god in the form of food etc) that I have greedily gobbled up all my life back home in India. My mother though prefers to prepare this dish using a mixture of sugar dissolved in water to add the sweet taste. Any way you choose to prepare it, I assure you it is a hugely satisfying experience preparing it  and gobbling it afterwards 🙂

It would be unfair to throw Indian terms at my non Indian readers so , Gudi Padwa is a festival wherein we Maharashtrians celebrate the end of the harvest season and welcome a brand new year with the Hindu Calender. Satanarayan Pooja is a Hindu ritual of worship performed to celebrate new beginnings like a wedding, a house-warming or during the annual Ganesh Festival . It requires the Man and the Lady of the house to perform an elaborate offering to god and the beautiful part of the pooja or the ritual is the Katha (Katha simply means story in Marathi) as it takes the listener on a journey through tales that define our religion. The ultimate offering of love for god at the end of this ritual is called a Prasad and is almost always Sheera .Please click on the hyperlinks to enjoy reading in detail about the terms used. I thank all contributors  of Wikipedia for providing such useful and beautifully written information. Oh yes and the most fun part of Gudi Padwa is the Gudi , it is basically a long stick covered in shiny wrapping paper and a decorative piece of cloth is placed on the top and an inverted ”gadoo” or a stainless glass of a particular shape is placed over it or a brass container which is used for poojas and is again a very auspicious piece of the ritual. The swastika symbol is made on it using bright red  kumkum, then this is wrapped with a garland of fresh marigold and bright green leaves of the mango tree and also a garland made from ” Batashe” which is a white leaf like thing made from concentrated sugar syrup and strung onto a string and made into a garland .This is then perched in the balcony and worshipped and kept on display for all to see , it is quite a sight to see colourful ”gudi’s” swaying outside everyone’s windows and balconies .

I had to make mine this year using an un-used shower curtain rod, golden wrapping paper recycled from Christmas, a steel bowl instead of the traditional glass and a bright red stole instead of the usual auspicious colours of green or gold !Anyway , this is what it looked like 🙂 , am quite proud of it really !

Below I have chosen 2 images from google which I feel are really good and stunningly clear images and really capture the spirit of the festival , the first of a couple dressed all traditionally and with the beautiful goodi being worshipped using a well decorated thali (plate containing several items for performing the ritual) and the second image is of the sexy Ms.Isha Koppikar looking like a million bucks and the gudi looks lovely as well !

(Image courtesy pic 1 :

http://idiva.com/news-relationships/creative-ways-to-celebrate-gudi-padwa/4090)

Pic 1:

Pic 2:

Image Courtesy Click here

Ok !so now, let me try to put down here the recipe in a simple and easy peasy manner.

Preparation time : Approx 45 minutes Serves :4

Ingredients :

  1. Semolina /Rava/Suji – I use fine rava as it is what I find is best for this recipe. approximately 2 small watis or ramekins.
  2. Ghee – plenty !
  3. Raisins – a handful
  4. Badam/Almonds – again a handful
  5. Saffron/Kesar/Zafran – a small pinch just to add colour and pomp !
  6. Cashewneuts/Kaju/Kajoo – if you like them ,not necessary) – a generous handful without the peel and unsalted .
  7. Milk about 200 ml
  8. One ripe Banana
  9. Elaichi/ Green Cardamom – about 6-8 – open them and crush the brown seeds to make a powder using a mortar pestle and we will also use the green outer cover to add a distinctive aroma to the recipe :),sounds so romantic doesn’t it ( err well …)
  10. Sugar – I use granulated white sugar ,take 2 – 2.5 measures of a small bowl ,actually the proportion is always 2:1 for the Semolina : Sugar for this dish so choose the quantity accordingly.

Method :

  • Boil some water and add into a small bowl, add the almonds , this will make it easy to peel off the skin. Soak some raisins in luke warm water so that they absorb water and can be dunked into the semolina at a later stage.

  • Add the Saffron strands ever so carefully to a small bowl of water so as to  allow the beautiful golden orange colour to disperse into the water .

  • Take 2 bowl fulls of Semolina and add to a pan and constantly stir it until it turns a light brown colour , if you do not keep stirring or put the pan on a very high flame it might burn and we don’t want that do we? Also, I use a rather heavy bottom pan  to ensure that the heat spreads evenly and that the Semolina browns well .

  • This is how it looks before we brown it :

  • This is how it will look after stirring for a while :

  • This is how it will look when it is done and ready for the next stage ,i.e to be added to the ghee :

  • Remove the pan from the flame and keep the Semolina aside .Now take 2-4 large tablespoons of ghee (Clarified Butter) in a vessel and warm it on a low flame, be very carefull when frying with ghee as GHEE heats up very fast and anything unattended inside the hot ghee can char easily. When the ghee is warming up add the cashew nuts first and wait for them to start browning, then add the remaining raisins – not the ones which are kept soaking in water ! The strong aroma of the warm Semolina , the beautiful smell of desi ghee and the in-your-face tasty aroma of the fried cashews will assault your senses in the most pleasant way and fill up your kitchen with an almost auspicious atmosphere, it’s when this happens that one truly feels festive from within and it is also at such moments I have massive nostalgia attacks and realise how deeply coded our childhood memories are and  how much a part of our memories are made up of familiar sights and sounds. I oftentimes find life in the western world paler, less colourful and too quite compared to the pomp , blast of colours and festivity that make up India …sighhhh !

  • The cashew nuts and raisins turn a golden hue as seen in the picture above and the raisins puff up quite a bit due to the heat of the ghee,be careful not to overdo the raisins as they are akin to tiny missiles filled with boiling hot oil and if they burst , you can get serious burns …booooo! The kitchen is quite a dangerous place for the uninitiated isn’t it ?!
  • Ok, while the cashew nuts are being processed , take a small vessel and add the 200 to 250 ml milk on a low flame, add the sugar and dissolve, stirring till it completely dissolves, do not allow the milk to boil but reduce it on a low flame, add the crushed green cardamom powder and the outer green cover. Add some of the saffron and the water in which it was soaked as well, keep some for adding into the mixture later. When this mixture is on the flame , it gives out an unmistakable aroma of sweet sugary milk and I can almost feel my teeth sink into the soft sheera and mentally I am biting into the fried cashews and the yummee soft Banana bits that play hide and seek with my tongue as I devour the sheera – AAHHH , anyway , don’t allow that to happen as it is considered wrong to savor the ”Prasad” before the Almighty is offered some for ”bhog” or in simple words god has been offered the sweet dish and it is assumed that he has symbolically consumed our offering and blessed us with all that we wish and desire for 🙂

  • When the cashew nuts and the raisins have been fried, add the semolina slowly in the hot ghee mixture , stirring continuously to prevent any lumps from forming and also to ensure that the semolina soaks up the ghee properly .

  • Once all  the Semolina is mixed well into the ghee and fried dry fruit mix it will look like the picture above , then add the remaining  saffron and water in which it was soaked to the mixture.

  • Then add the roughly mashed banana pieces into the semolina mixture.

  • When the sugar has completely dissolved and the milk has reduced a little , it is ready to be added to the semolina mixture. Add it stirring slowly , it will look like the picture below immediately after adding the milk and sugar into it.

  • Stir a bit more and here is what it will look like now :

  • For the smallest possible time , cover the mixture above on the lowest possible flame , it is then ready to be served, now add the almonds to season over the top , peel off the skin , thanks to the warm water they will come off very easily and then just halve the almonds or if you want to be very artistic and have some time cut the almonds into longish thin strips ,anyway which they add a definite crunch to the sweet dish and I love that ,you dish will now look like this :

  • Take some of this beautiful dish and serve into a small bowl to offer to the Ganpati Bappa – who has been made to shine and sparkle for the day and place it in front of him , hands folded ask for his blessings and wait for sometime till you are convinced he’s had some of the offering or ”Prasad”.

Aaah , now just look at the cute Bappa 🙂

HAPPY EATING ALL YE READERS who attempt to make it , do let me know any feedback 🙂 all good of course 😉