Nov 26, 2009

Sprouted whole Moong Usal

And how to sprout moong beans?

One hot, humid day, I forgot to grind my soaked moong dal rice mix and it sat on the counter the whole day. The next day I found my whole moong was sprouting tiny buds. So, I grinded the mix for my dosa and then proceeded to soak some more sprouted moong dal for my usal (not to be confused with usual).

The process of sprouting beans/ legumes is easy but does take time so planning a day or two ahead is necessary. Here is the easy 1-2-3 step to sprouting beans (okay, so there are more than three steps to doing this. But it is still easy).

1. Soak in plenty of water for 8 – 10 hours or overnight.
I used 3 cups of water to soak 1/2 cups of moong beans

2. Drain all the water. The beans will have doubled in volume and become plump and soft.

3. Take a damp cotton towel/ dish cloth and dump the moong beans in the center. Loosely wrap the ends around, put it in a covered pot and keep it in a dark, warm place (ex. under the stove top, in the oven or covered by a bigger pot).
4. Forget about it for 24 – 30 hours.

5. Take out the bean pot, open the dish cloth and behold glorious sprouted moong or any other beans of your choice.

You may be tempted to ask, “Why go through the trouble of sprouting the beans?” and here’s my answer. The benefits of sprouting beans are many. The sprouting process not only doubles the volume of the beans it also increases the vitamin, mineral and protein content of beans and decreases the calories and carbohydrate content. Plus they taste good even raw. So go ahead and sprout some beans today and cook them the usal way.

The usal is just a simple sauté of onions, garlic and tomatoes with some garam masala thrown in for good measure. For the purist in search of the authentic, adding a little grated coconut will achieve the desired result. I usually omit it in pursuit of retaining the earthy flavor of the moong beans.
Supriya of Red Chilies recently posted this version of cooking moong beans which is also super easy and tastes delicious.

1/2 cup moong beans, sprouted
1 small onion, chopped fine
1 tomato, chopped fine
2-4 garlic cloves
1 tbsp grated coconut (optional)
1 small potato, chopped into cubes (optional)
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp turmeric
1 green chili, chopped fine
1 tsp garam masala
Cilantro for garnish

Grind the onion, coconut (if using), tomato and garlic cloves.
Heat a tablespoon of oil in the small, 3 liter pressure cooker. Alternatively, use a pan with a tight fitting lid. Add the mustard seeds and lower the heat when they start popping.
Add the cumin seeds, green chilli, turmeric powder and garam masala. Let it cook for 30 sec before adding the onion-tomato paste.
Cook till the raw smell of onions turns fragrant and the watery paste turns thick. This should take about 10 min on medium flame.
Add the sprouted moong beans, adjust the water and put the cooker lid on. Turn off the heat after one whistle.

If using a pan, add the tight fitting lid and cook for about 20 minutes or till the beans are cooked through but not mushy.
Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with chopped cilantro. The usal can be eaten as a side with dal and rotis or as a main dish with rotis.

Notes: If cooking in a pressure cooker, make sure to turn the heat off after one whistle. If not the beans will still taste good but will not hold their shape and will be mushy.

If using, add the cubed potato before adding the onion-tomato paste. Coat it with the spices and cook for a few minutes.

The sprouted moong bean usal goes to Susan's MLLA-17, currently hosted by Sra of When My Soup came Alive.

Nov 19, 2009

Plugging Wagle on World Toilet Day

The title is not a pun. It is World Toilet Day (I am not kidding you!) and I am plugging a blogger friend, Dinesh Wagle (no relation) who blogs at Wagle Street Journal.  Dinesh is currently the bureau chief of Nepal's Kathmandu Post and is stationed in Delhi. He blogs and posts photos of happenings in Delhi and the country from the eyes of a Nepali. Frankly, I never thought of Nepal as another country (I knew it was), just a friendly neighbor separated by a border.
It is always interesting to see your home country from an outsiders point of view and Dineshs' views are exactly that, interesting and unique.
I found out about the World Toilet Day from his blog and almost burst out laughing at his account and the photos of public urinals in India. So, if you are not squeamish about public toilets, do hop on over and take a peek (pun intended).
What are your best/ worst public toilet experiences?

Nov 8, 2009

Moong dosa/ adai inspired by Holy Cow

I have to admit that till I started reading Vaishali’s blog, Holy Cow, my conception of vegan was vague. Not so any more. Eating a vegetarian Indian diet gets you as close to being a vegan as possible with the exception of daiy, fat and meat. Nevertheless, I try to check up Vaishali’s recipes as fast as she posts them. Trying them out at the same speed is another matter. In the past I have made her baghare baingan and loved them. This is saying a lot from someone not fond of baingan (eggplant).

Her moong dal dosa were another hit in my home. Soaking time two hours, no fermentation and a little grinding later the batter is ready. All you have to do is roll a ladleful on the skillet and your breakfast, lunch or snack is ready. These are not only easy to make and full of nutrition and protein but addictive as well. Ever since I read the recipe three weeks ago, I have been tweaking it and trying it out every few days. What I have not done is stop eating them.

So here’s my version of Vaishali’s moong dosa:

1/2 cup moong dal (I used whole but split can be substituted)
1/2 cup ponni rice (Vaishali recommends any medium grain rice)
1/4 cup chana dal (optional)
2-4 green chilies
2-4 cloves of garlic
1 inch piece of ginger
1/2 bunch of coriander

Wash and soak both the dals and the rice together. Soak in about a cup and a half of water for two to three hours.

In a blender, grind the soaked ingredients with the chilies, garlic, ginger, coriander and cumin to a smooth consistency. Add salt to taste and keep aside in the refrigerator till ready to use. If the batter is too thick, add a little water to the batter.

When ready to use, heat a non-stick or a cast iron skillet on medium heat. With a smooth concentric motion of the hand, spread a ladleful of batter in a thin circle on the skillet. For a demo on how to spread dosa batter, check out this link.
Add a few drops of oil on the dosa. Unlike regular dosa, this one does need only a few drops. If you add too much, the dosa will get oily. A few drops of oil is another plus of this dosa.

When the dosa starts lifting from the edges, in a minute or two, flip it with a spatula and cook the other side. Fold it in half and serve with chutney of your choice.

Sra of When My Soup Came Alive is hosting this month's MLLA -- 17, originally started by Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook. The moong dal dosa is getting shipped to the two lovely ladies on account of it being loaded with legumes.

Nov 3, 2009

Vermicelli Kheer (milk pudding)/ Sevainya/ Shevayachi kheer

As promised in my previous post here’s the recipe for Vermicelli Kheer with pistachios and golden raisins and delicately flavored with cardamom pods. In Marathi vermicelli or sevainya is pronounced with an ‘H’ in front of the ‘S’. The taste remains the same.
Let me correct myself. The taste of the vermicelli stays the same but depending on how much elbow grease you are willing to put in boiling the milk, the taste of the kheer changes from good to delicious to decadently rich. On the few occasions that I make it, I like to take the time and effort to cook it to a consistency where the milk starts turning yellowish from all the boiling and the spoon starts picking up the soft layers of cream with every swirl.

1 gallon or about 3 liters of milk
1 cup of sugar
1 tsp of ghee or unsalted butter
1 ½ cup of vermicelli
6-8 pods of cardamom, powdered
1/2 cup of golden raisins, pistachios and cashews (or any other nuts of your choice)

In a small kadahi or wok heat a teaspoon of ghee. On low heat toast the vermicelli until it is golden brown. Be very careful not to burn it. Take off the heat and keep aside.

In a heavy bottom pan, bring the milk to a rolling boil. Turn the heat to medium and keep the milk on a gentle boil. It is very important that you stir and scrap the bottom of the pot every five minutes.

If the milk starts sticking the bottom and you ignore it, it will eventually start burning and you do not want to taste burnt milk in your kheer. So ladies, just for this one, do not multi task, concentrate on the milk at hand (in the pot).

In about 30 to 40 minutes, told you lots of elbow grease, the milk will have reduced to 1/4th of the original amount.

As you keep stirring and scraping the milk, you want thin layers of cream (malai) floating in the pan. The more layers of cream you have, the richer your kheer will be.

At this point add the toasted vermicelli to the boiling milk. Add the sugar and the raisins.

Keep the kheer on a gentle boil, still stirring so the vermicelli doesn’t stick together. The vermicelli is done when it plumps up, about 10 minutes.

Check the kheer for sweetness and add some more sugar if desired. Turn off the heat and add the powdered cardamom and toasted pistachios and cashews.

As the kheer cools, it will get thicker so decided how thick or runny you like it and boil the milk accordingly. In my house, we like it thick like a custard.

Garnish with additional cashews and pistachios before serving.

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