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Cover: Some like it hot

Recipes with cashews

31Jul 12

Peas Pulao

Peas PulaoThis tasty vegetarian Peas Pulao can be served for lunch or dinner, as the main meal, or even as a side dish. The rice and peas make it quite substantial, so I usually serve it as the main course. (Also try this chicken risotto with green peas.)

According to my mother, who taught me how to cook this dish, the secret to preparing an unforgettable Peas Pulao is getting the right balance of spices. Not everyone puts garlic in their Peas Pulao, but my mother insists on it. She says it balances out the rice nicely. My personal favourite spice to go with basmati rice is ginger. To me there is just nothing like the aroma that ginger can add to an Indian rice dish.

If you have time to let it sit for about 30 minutes, covered, before serving, the flavours will blend together even better and it will taste even stronger. It is one of those dishes that in fact tastes better the next day.

You can prepare this lovely recipe with regular butter, but I use ghee because it provides a unique flavour.

Peas Pulao
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
This tasty vegetarian Peas Pulao can be served for lunch or dinner, as the main meal, or even as a side dish.
Ingredients
  • 2tbsp Ghee
  • 3cm of Ginger, crushed finely
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, crushed finely
  • 1 medium Onion
  • 1tsp Cumin Powder
  • 3 Cardamoms
  • 3cm Cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
  • 200g Green Peas
  • 2tbsp Cashew Nuts, chopped
  • 1,000g White Basmati Rice
  • 1,500ml Water
  • Pinch of Salt to taste
  • 2tsp Coriander leaves, chopped finely, to garnish
Instructions
  1. Melt the ghee in a large pan and stir in the crushed ginger and garlic.
  2. Slice onion finely.
  3. Stir in the onion, cumin, cardamoms, and cinnamon.
  4. Stir and fry all ingredients until the onions turn transparent. You do not need to brown the onions for this recipe.
  5. Stir in the peas and cashew nuts.
  6. Lower the heat and let simmer until peas are cooked.
  7. Add in uncooked rice and stir a bit.
  8. Add in the water.
  9. Cover and cook on a high flame for 5 minutes.
  10. Lower heat to the lowest setting and let simmer for 20-25 minutes more.
  11. Serve hot, garnished with coriander leaves.

 

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11Jul 12

Sarkarai Pongal

Sarkarai Pongal
Sarkarai Pongal
is a traditional sweet dish from South India. It is made during the Pongal festival, and symbolically offered to the sun god before being eaten. But you don’t have to go all the way to South India during the Pongal festival to enjoy this tasty treat. I’m going to teach you how to prepare it from the comfort of your own home.

This recipe calls for mung daal, which are mung beans that have been stripped of their hulls. These healthy legumes can be found in speciality vegetarian shops or speciality Indian shops.

You will also need to buy jaggery, a healthy natural sugar, to prepare this dessert properly. The refined white sugar you buy at the supermarket has been heavily processed with many chemicals. Jaggery, however, is naturally processed from sap, without any added stuff. This means it retains all its natural properties and minerals. And apart from being much healthier, it has a richer taste. Jaggery is a bit like buttery molasses.

Preparing Sarkarai Pongal with this sweet substitute will add authenticity to the dish, so it is well worth buying. And, as always, the ghee in this dessert can be substituted for regular butter.

To scoop up all the gooey sweetness in my recipe, I recommend this raisin bread.

Sarkarai Pongal
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Sarkarai Pongal is a traditional sweet dish from South India. It is made during the Pongal festival, and symbolically offered to the sun god before being eaten.
Ingredients
  • 2L Milk
  • 225g Rice
  • 50g Mung Daal
  • 250g Jaggery
  • 2tbsp Ghee
  • 15 Almonds
  • 15 Cashews
  • 50g Raisins
  • 1tsp Cardamom powder
  • 1tsp Cinnamon
  • 10 strands of Saffron, crushed
Instructions
  1. Bring the milk to the boil.
  2. Wash the rice and mung daal and stir them into the milk once it is boiling.
  3. Cook the rice and mung daal for 15 minutes on high heat.
  4. Grate the jaggery with a regular cheese grater. Use the larger holes on your grater.
  5. Slowly stir in the jaggery and the ghee. They should melt fairly quickly.
  6. Lower the heat and let simmer for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  7. Chop up the almonds and cashews very finely.
  8. Slowly mix in the almonds and cashews.
  9. Add in the raisins, cardamom, cinnamon and saffron.
  10. Bring to the boil again and let cook for another 5 minutes. Stir constantly.
  11. Sarkarai Pongal can be served hot or cold. In the summer, I prefer to eat it cold.

 

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03Jul 12

Spicy Tomato Chutney

Spicy Tomato ChutneyChutneys are a clever and delectable way to consume your daily intake of fruits and veggies. You can use them in all sorts of dishes to jazz them up or create an interesting twist on the flavours, or simply enjoy on top of  a hunk of bread with a side of cheese.

 

I suggest you try my recipe for tomato chutney, as it is a very versatile chutney that goes well with rice and with tandoori chicken kebabs. This is a great recipe for the summer when tomatoes are in season.

Ingredients:

  • ¼ teaspoons mustard seeds
  • 2 red chilli peppers, whole
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon Channa Dal nuts
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons ginger powder
  • 2 green chilli peppers, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cashew nuts, chopped
  • 10 large, fresh tomatoes, chopped into 2 cm by 2 cm cubes
  • 4 curry leaves
  • Pinch of salt
  • Vegetable oil

Preparation Method:

  1. Heat vegetable oil in a frying pan.
  2. When the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds. Be careful because they pop, and you don’t  want to get burned.
  3. Add the red chillies and fry them for 20 seconds. Since they are whole, the seeds won’t come out of the pepper, and so the chutney won’t be too hot.
  4. Fry the cumin seeds.
  5. Now add the Channa Dal and fry for 30 seconds.
  6. Slowly add the onion and garlic. Add a pinch of salt so that the onion “sweats” a little. Cook this for about 4 minutes until the garlic and onions are softer.
  7. Add the ginger powder. It should sizzle in the pan.
  8. Add the green chilli peppers.
  9. Chop the cashew nuts (but not too small as we’re going to put this all in the blender anyway) and put them in the pan.
  10. Add in the tomatoes and curry leaves. You do not need to chop the curry leaves.
  11. Cover the pot and let it simmer for an hour on a very low heat. You should check it every so often and slowly stir it. You can actually let this simmer for up to 2 hours, and it will be even tastier.
  12. When finished, pour everything into the blender for 30 seconds. You do not want to blend for much longer as you want there to be some chunks of whole tomato left.
  13. Return to the pot and stir slowly. Add salt to taste.
  14. Serve on bread with cheese or as part of a meat dish. You could also store it in glass jars for future use.

Takes: 2 hours
Makes: Enough for 10 servings

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07Jun 12

Coconut Chutney

Coconut ChutneyCoconut Chutney is a lovely type of chutney that is perfect for breakfast. You can spread it on your toast in the morning for a healthy treat. This chutney is quite filling, so it will keep you going all morning. However, keep in mind that coconut is actually quite fattening, so you will not want to spread too much on your morning toast—unless you are planning to go for a jog afterwards!

For another variation, you can try this green coconut chutney used on rice flour pancakes.

Coconut Chutney also goes well with Bhaturas.

Ingredients:

  • 40g cashews, crushed
  • 30g Channa Daal
  • 500g shredded coconut
  • 8 whole red chilli peppers, dried
  • 5 curry leaves
  • ½ tbsp. ginger power
  • 1 tsp. mustard seeds
  • 2 tbsp. whole cumin seeds
  • Salt – to taste
  • 4 tbsp. vegetable oil

Preparation Method:

  1. In a frying pan, heat a small amount of vegetable oil on low heat.
  2. Crush the cashews. I typically use a mortar and pestle for this. Or, you can put them into a ziplock plastic bag and hammer them on the counter with the bottom of a pan for a minute
  3. Add the Channa Daal and crushed cashews to the frying pan, stirring slowly for a few minutes.
  4. Remove the Channa Daal and crushed cashews and put them in a blender.
  5. With the same vegetable oil, slowly fry the shredded coconut on low heat for a few minutes. Remove the coconut and add it to the blender.
  6. Put the ginger powder in the blender.
  7. Blend thoroughly.
  8. Add salt to taste and give it a final stir.
  9. Remove this paste and put it in a serving bowl.
  10. In a separate pan, heat more vegetable oil on high heat.
  11. Add the mustard seeds, but be careful! They will pop, so don’t let them splatter on you.
  12. Now add the cumin seeds to the pan and stir quickly.
  13. Add the dried red chilli peppers to the pan and stir with energy. Remember, these chilli peppers are whole. Do not chop them, or the hot, spicy taste will become too intense and will overwhelm the chutney.
  14. Add in the curry leaves and stir for 30 second more.
  15. Remove this and pour it directly on the chutney paste in the serving bowl.
  16. The coconut chutney is now ready to be served. Enjoy!

Makes: Enough for 8 servings.
Takes: 45 minutes (plus 8 hours soaking time)

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01Jun 12

Tasty Rava Ladoo

Rava LadooI absolutely love this Rava Ladoo recipe. Rava Ladoo is a tasty dessert that is easy to make. Ladoos are small ball-shaped treats made with plenty of sugar and other spices such as cardamom, a typical spice that we Indians love to add to dessert (try these Pistachio and Cardamom Bicuits).  Ladoos are excellent for parties because they are a nice, small snackable size. This is why in India they are served during holidays and festivals. Once made, ladoos can be stored and last up to a week, so you can prepare this dessert well ahead of any party you’re planning on throwing. That way you don’t have to leave them until the last minute.

Ingredients:

  • 150ml unsalted butter
  • 80g raisins
  • 400g semolina
  • 400g sugar
  • ½  teaspoon cardamom powder
  • 25g cashews and pistachios, crushed
  • 400ml whole milk

Preparation Method:

  1. Crush the cashews and pistachios and set them aside. The mixture should have the same amount of cashews as pistachios.
  2. In a large frying pan, sauté the raisins in the butter. Stir them slowly so they are all evenly cooked. This should make the raisins nice and plump.
  3. Take the raisins out of the butter. Drain them well so that they are not greasy. Set them aside.
  4. Using the same butter, add the semolina. Stir it constantly for 3-4 minutes so that it is evenly cooked.
  5. Add the sugar and continue stirring slowly.
  6. Add in the cashew and pistachio mixture, cardamom powder and the raisins and keep stirring.
  7. Slowly stir in the whole milk.  Stir until the milk is fully absorbed.
  8. Once the milk has been fully absorbed, take the frying pan off the stove and let everything cool down for 5 minutes.
  9. Now you are ready to make it into little lime-sized balls. Don’t wait until it gets too cold, because then it will not hold the shape. But since it is still very hot, I recommend using an ice cream scooper to form the balls.
  10. Leave them on a slightly greased platter. They should be separate so that they don’t stick together.
  11. Let them cool down for at least an hour before serving.

Makes: 35-40 ladoos

Takes: 30 minutes

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20Apr 12

Pear and Mango Chutney

Pear and Mango Chutney is a very sweet, mild chutney that goes well with my Bhaturas or vegetable samosas. Spread it on the Bhaturas, which are puffy fried breads, for a delicious afternoon snack, or a sugary breakfast.

You could also try this sweet chutney spread over a meat or fish dish. Try it over these chicken and pear burgers, since they already have a hint of pear flavour inside the burger. My chutney would be the perfect complement.

Like most chutneys, you can store this one in Tupperware or a glass container, and it will be fine for at least a month.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large raw Mango
  • 3 medium Pears
  • 450g Sugar
  • 10 almonds, finely chopped
  • 10 cashews, finely chopped
  • 2tbsp. raisins, mashed
  • 5 cloves, ground
  • 2tsp. Cinnamon Powder
  • 4tsp vegetable oil
  • 400ml water
  • 1tsp. salt

 

Preparation Method:

  1. Peel the large mango and the pears. It will be no problem if you use a normal peeler to do this.
  2. Chop both the mango and pears very finely and put them both into one bowl. Set the bowl aside.
  3. Heat the vegetable oil on a medium flame in a pot or a deep pan.
  4. Lower the flame and add just 2 tablespoons of sugar to the oil. Slowly stir the sugar, until it turns light brown.
  5. Now add the water.
  6. Raise the heat to high and bring the water to the boil.
  7. After 3 minutes of boiling, add in the rest of the sugar and allow it to come to the boil again.
  8. Chop the cashews and almonds very finely. Add them to the pot and stir.
  9. With a fork, mash the raisins in a separate bowl.
  10. Place the raisins to the pot and stir.
  11. Grind the 5 cloves in a mortar with a pestle. Now add them to the pot and mix slowly.
  12. Add the cinnamon to the pot and stir.
  13. Add a pinch of salt. I know this is a sweet chutney, but salt actually brings out the favour of sweet foods. Add just a pinch, and you will see that the flavours will become more intense.
  14. Now add the mango and pear.
  15. Cover the pot and lower the heat. Let simmer for about an hour.
  16. Remove from the pot and let cool.

Makes: 2kg of Pear and Mango Chutney
Takes: 2 hours

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09Apr 12

Carrot Halwa

Carrot Halwa is a delicious dessert. My grandmother used to make it for me, and I remember how she was able to get the rich mixture of carrots, nuts and milk just right. It is rich and heavy. But just a warning, this tasty Indian sweet is quite fattening.

It can be made with regular butter, but I prefer to make it with my Fragrant Ghee. Ghee just makes the taste that much more intense.

Many people garnish it with nuts and raisins as well. I suggest that if you do that, you do so sparingly as you do not want the taste to overpower this dessert. Just sprinkle a few nuts and raisins over it before you serve.

Ingredients:

  • 2kg carrots
  • 160g cashews, ground
  • 1tsp cardamom
  • Pinch of saffron
  • 3 litres milk
  • 800g sugar
  • 4tbsp ghee

Preparation Method:

  1. Peel the carrots.
  2. Grate the carrots and leave them in a small bowl. Set the bowl aside.
  3. Heat just 3 tablespoons of ghee in a deep pan on high heat.
  4. Crush the cashews. You can do this with a mortar and pestle, or you can just put the cashews in a ziplock bag and pound on them with the bottom of a pot.
  5. Lower the heat and put the crushed cashews into the pan and lightly roast them. They should turn light golden brown.
  6. Remove the cashews and set them aside.
  7. Add another tablespoon of ghee.
  8. Add the grated carrots and stir slowly.
  9. Sprinkle in the cardamom and saffron and stir for 3 minutes.
  10. Now pour in the milk. You can use skim milk to make the Carrot Halwa less fattening.
  11. Raise the heat and bring the milk to the boil.
  12. Once it has boiled, lower the flame and stir slowly.
  13. Cover the pot and lower the flame a bit more. Leave this to simmer for about 1 hour. Do not forget to check on it every so often and stir. After some time simmering, the ghee will start to ooze out, and it will become nice and thick.
  14. Finally add the sugar and stir well.
  15. Cook for another 10 minutes.
  16. It is now ready to serve.

 

Makes: 1 large Carrot Halwa
Takes: 2 hours

Note: Although it isn’t an Indian dish, I also recommend this carrot cake recipe. What better way to eat your veggies than adding them to a dessert?

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