Tag Archives: Whole Wheat

Chicken Khichda / Haleem

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It is Eid today… the day that marks the end of Ramzan or Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting. For the past 29 – 30 days, devout Muslims the world over do not eat anything from dawn to sunset. However when the sun goes down everyday, at Iftar, the fast is broken.

If you walk through streets around the Bombay Central Station, Mohammed Ali Road, Dongri, Mahim – There’s such an atmosphere of festivity! The streets are lit up with fairy lights, groups of people milling about, all dressed up & the roads lined with stalls selling everything from bright clothes to jewellery & shoes to… of course… Food! Oh! It’s such a treat! It’s been a while, but I remember for a couple years, going down to Mohammed Ali Road with my friends at least once during Ramzan during Iftar, to, well put it politely, stuff ourselves silly!

You wouldn’t know where to start! Of course, if you were fasting, you would with dates & some fruit from the dried fruit & juice stalls & then move on to the real stuff. But that never applied to us! We went straight for the meat & chicken Kebabs, Tikkas (marinated chunks of Chicken or Lamb grilled to melt-in-the-mouth perfection over charcoal), Naans (flat bread), Baida Rotis (thin, soft flatbread stuffed with meat, coated with eggs & deep fried), Biryaani (saffron & spice laced rice layered with a flavourful meat or chicken gravy), my favourite Khichda / Haleem! You can’t end the feast without anything sweet… so there are Malpuas (crisp little pancakes deep fried in clarified butter) served with Rabdi (sweet, creamy, thickened milk) or Phirni (a delicate rice pudding flavoured with cardamom) in little clay pots… The feast is surely not for the faint hearted!

For the past 8 – 9 years (maybe more!), we’ve been invited to be part of the Iftar & Eid celebrations at the Khan residence… & that is another experience altogether! Pure gastronomical heaven! The everyday food out there is out of this world… so you can imagine what these special dinners would be like! Nalli, Biryaani, Kebabs, Mutton cooked the Moghlai way, Khichda.. & of course Auntie’s special Sheer Khurma (a special vermicelli pudding)! How our dear friend turned vegetarian & more importantly, remained one, growing up in this household, is something that always baffles me!

Gosh I’m salivating as I write this, & feeling rather sorry for myself as I’m going to miss the festivities, being with my friends (who are more like family) & of course the food at the Eid dinner at the Khans’, for the second year in a row! I’m in my home away from home, Jaipur, working (for a change!) for 2 weeks 😦

I knew I was going to be missing out so, a few days before I left Bombay, I made my favourite Khichda / Haleem for my family! Khichda is a one-dish meal, comfort in a bowl… I love it! And this is my first attempt at making it!

I used these websites as a reference for the recipe – Khana Pakana & Kulsum Mehmood, & followed the tips & suggestions given to me by the lovely elderly Bohri Kaka (uncle) who sold me the ingredients at Crawford Market  (the one stop wholesale bazaar in Bombay for everything!) 🙂

So here it is the recipe for a meal that satisfies the soul, with a special Eid Mubarak to everyone!

Ingredients

Polished Whole Wheat

Mixed Lentils

  • 250 gm Polished Whole Wheat Grains
  • 150 gm Mixed Daals (red, white & yellow lentil & Bengal gram)
  • 450 gm Boneless Chicken Pieces
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons Ginger-Garlic Paste
  • Red Chilli Powder (to taste)
  • Turmeric Powder
  • 2 teaspoons Dhania – Jeera / Cumin & Coriander Seed Powder
  • Special Haleem Spice (recommended by the sweet Kaka at the shop)

Spices

  • 2 stick Cinnamon
  • 3 – 4 Cardamom
  • 2 Star Anise
  • Mace
  • a pinch Nutmeg Powder
  • 1 large Onion (finely sliced)
  • 2 tablespoons Mint Leaves (finely chopped)
  • Ghee / Clarified Butter – Lots of it!

To Serve:

  • 3 large Onions (finely sliced & deep fried)
  • Mint Leaves (finely chopped)
  • Special Haleem Spice
  • Lemon Wedges
  • Ghee / Clarified Butter

Method

  • Soak the wheat overnight (at least 8 – 10 hours) in a large vessel filled with water. Pour in 1-2 teaspoons oil & some salt. (Kaka’s tip: Do not wash the wheat or disturb it while soaking. It affects the cooking process)
  • Soak the lentils for about 2 hours.

Marinated Chicken

  • Dry roast the cinnamon, cloves, star anise, mace & cardamom & grind to a fine powder.
  • Marinate the chicken pieces with ginger-garlic paste, salt, red chilli powder, turmeric, the spice powder from Step 3, nutmeg powder, 2 teaspoon Haleem spice, cumin & coriander powder & mint leaves. Leave to rest for about an hour.
  • In a large heavy bottomed vessel, heat 2 – 3 tablespoons of ghee, add the onions & sauté till the onions turn golden.
  • Add the marinated chicken & stir fry for about 10 minutes. Add more ghee if you need to, don’t be shy!
  • Drain the soaked wheat & lentils & add to the chicken.

Soaked Wheat Grains, Lentils & Marinated Chcken

  • Add enough water to cover the chicken & grains, plus some more & simmer on a low flame.
  • Now this is where patience kicks in! Allow the chicken & grains to cook for 6 – 7 hours, stirring regularly. (I kid you not! That’s how long it took! You could pressure cook the whole thing. But Kaka said the true taste emerges when the Khichda is slowly cooked over a long time. I believe him! It’s totally worth it.)
  • Add more water if it gets too thick or starts to stick to the bottom of the vessel.
  • Once the wheat has softened (around 6 hours later), take the vessel off the flame, remove the chicken pieces & keep aside. Using a hand blender make the wheat & lentil mixture as smooth as possible. Add the chicken back to this thick, porridge-like mixture & place the vessel on a very low flame.

The Khichda Cooking Slowly

  • Add another 2 teaspoons of the Haleem spice & check the seasoning. (I find it easier to taste my way through a dish like this, so at this point if you feel you need to add more salt, chilli or spices, go right ahead!)
  • If possible, leave the vessel on the flame till you are ready to serve.

To Serve

The Condiments – Melted Ghee, Haleem Spice Powder, Mint Leaves, Deep Fried Onions, Lemon Wedges

Ladle the Khichda into a bowl. Pour a generous amount of ghee over it, sprinkle a bit of the Haleem spice, some mint leaves & serve with a wedge of lemon. Then sit back & watch the expressions of your family as they dig into it!

This recipe serves 6

(Almost) Whole Wheat Focaccia with Goan Sausages

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It’s 4 am IST as I start to type this & I’m at the airport waiting to take off to Jaipur, Rajasthan. I was so terrified I would oversleep & miss my flight, that I pretty much didn’t sleep at all! And now I need to make sure I don’t doze off & miss boarding the airplane all together! I hate early morning trips!

It’s been a month since I last visited the Pink City & even as sleepy as I am, I’m pretty excited about going back. A new set of kids to work with, a new workshop, new things to explore & discover! Being a drama teacher really is a fun & exciting job. But a week away, also means time away from my Kitchen & being able to cook! Sometimes it’s a good thing, other times… well, like when I spent a month there in December, I so missed cooking that I nearly put out a  status update on Facebook asking my friends if they had friends in Jaipur who would loan me their kitchen for an afternoon! I was luckier on my last trip when I caught up with an old friend who invited me home for a delicious Bengali style Mutton & her daughter & I baked a cake!

I couldn’t leave home for a week without making something…especially since the past week was chaotic (as usual) & I couldn’t cook anything interesting (or blog-worthy!) since my last post. And once again there was this urgency to bake!  You know how it is!

I haven’t baked bread since I started my diet in March. I’m okay with all the light meals eating right, the salads & healthy desserts, but if there’s one thing that I’ve truly craved & missed is some warm, fresh home-made bread… the soft crumb, the crust, the aroma!

And this Sunday… I gave in! I teamed the bread with another one of my favourites… Goan Sausages!

Goa is a small state on the West Coast of India & a very popular tourist destination. It’s got beaches, the river, churches & quaint architecture. It was a Portuguese colony & you can still see the influence on food, buildings, lifestyle & even the language. I love Goa & if I could, I would go live there tomorrow! Get a small shack on the beach & start a bakery. I’ve had some of my best vacations there, with family & a rocking one with my girl friends! The food here is amazing… a lot of fresh sea food….prawn, lobster, calamari, cooked with spices & coconut, bebinca, a traditional dessert with coconut milk & sugar, pork sorpotel & xacuti, & of course Goan Sausages!

These sausages are a blend of Portuguese sausages with Goan spices &  are packed with flavour… fiery & tangy all at once & go very well with crusty bread. You can’t stop eating them! Luckily my regular cold storage stocks these so even if I can’t be in Goa, I can bring a bit of Goa home & team it up with a bit of Italy 🙂

Ingredients

  • 2 cups + extra (for dusting) Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/2 cup Plain Flour (hence the “almost” in the title!)
  • 10 gm Fresh Yeast
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons Sugar
  • 5 – 6 tablespoons + extra (for drizzling) Olive Oil
  • 3/4 cup Milk + water
  • 1 Egg (beaten)
  • Salt
  • 200-250 gm Goan Sausages

Note: I’ve used milk & egg here because whole wheat tends to make the bread denser & dryer & these bring back the softness & lightness.

Method

  1. Mix the yeast, sugar & a few tablespoons of lukewarm water in a small bowl. Cover & keep aside for about 10 minutes till it gets frothy.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour & salt.
  3. Add the yeast, egg, milk & olive oil to the flour to make a soft , sticky dough. Add more flour or water to get he right texture. A lot of this depends on the weather & humidity in the air.
  4.  Turn the dough onto a floured counter & knead gently till it comes together smooth & elastic.
  5. Place the dough in a large, well oiled bowl, cover it with cling film & leave to rise in a warm & dry place for about an hour or until it doubles in size.
  6. While the dough proves, prepare the sausages. Remove the meat from the casing & saute in a non-stick wok, without any oil. Splash some water in the wok. Cover it with a deep plate & pour water into the plate & allow the sausages to cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Keep aside.
  7. After the dough rises, knock it back & knead well.
  8. Pat the dough out to a square shape & place in a very well oiled baking tin.
  9. Cover with cling film & leave to rise for another half hour.
  10. After half hour spread the sausages over the dough, sprinkle olives & generously drizzle olive oil over it. 
  11. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 220 C for about 25 minutes.

I’m so glad I gave in to my bread craving! Couldn’t stop eating this fresh, crusty, chewy yet soft bread! And the sausage topping…. Delish!

I stuffed some of the remaining sausages into the leftover dough & made this as a snack to carry with me to Jaipur 🙂

Strawberry Cake with An Orange-Basil Glaze

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HAD to bake today! It has been so long since I last baked.

This cake was put together with such a sense of urgency! Almost as if I didn’t bake right then & there, something awful would happen! After a pretty harrowing past couple days, I knew where this was coming from. There’s a whole lot of change going on in my life. I am pretty good with that usually, in fact I thrive on it. It suits my restless Gemini spirit just fine, adapting to  new experiences, new feelings… reworking things to make it all  fit & brand new. But sometimes change comes with a sense of losing control… of yourself, the situation. You tell yourself to be patient & ride with the tide, more often than not, it works. But there are days when my “Zen”-ness all but disappears… I so desperately needed some Kitchen Therapy!

I didn’t bother with photographs or music & just got right down to it!

 I wanted to use Strawberries (they were heading to the trash-can in a couple days!) & Oranges (just bought a dozen yesterday). And of course it all had to be “almost” in sync* with my diet plan & diabetic-friendly since my mother-in-law is visiting.

I remembered reading a scrumptious  Apple Yogurt Tea Cake recipe on Sam’s blog, Le Pirate & used that as the base reference for my cake. I didn’t have macadamia oil, so I used olive; substituted the sugar with Sugar-Free tablets; used a combination of whole wheat flour & oat meal instead of plain flour, & added some crushed roasted peanuts I had leftover from yesterday & an orange-basil glaze just for fun!

Ingredients

For the Cake

  • 1.5 cups Oat Meal
  • 1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
  • 3 tablespoons Crushed Roasted Peanuts
  • 15 tablets Sugar Free / Sweet ‘n’ Low powdered / 1 cup Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons Yogurt (beaten well)
  • 1/4 cup Milk
  • 1/3 cup + 1 teaspoon Olive Oil
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 150-200 gm Strawberries (chopped)
  • Zest & Juice of 2 small Oranges

For the Glaze*

  • Juice of 2 Oranges
  • 2 tablespoons Brown Sugar
  • A few leaves Basil (roughly chopped)

*The reason why this is “almost” in sync with my diet plan. You could avoid the glaze, but then again…

Method

Cake

  1. Whisk together the oat meal, whole wheat flour, peanuts, Sugar Free tablets, orange zest & baking powder & soda,  & toss in the chopped Strawberries.
  2. Beat the eggs well & add vanilla extract, yogurt, olive oil, orange juice & whisk well.
  3. Add the liquid mixture to the dry one & combine it gently. Don’t over-mix.
  4. Adjust the consistency of the batter with milk.
  5. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 C for about 30-40 minutes

Glaze

  1. Heat the orange juice & brown sugar mixture with basil leaves on a low flame till the sugar melts & the consistency turns syrupy. Strain & keep aside till the cake is done. 
  2. Use a skewer to poke some holes on the cake & pour the syrup over it while still hot.

Oat-Meal & Whole Wheat Cake with Strawberries & Orange-Basil Glaze

And Sam is so right… this cake hardly takes any time to put together & in spite of using oat meal & whole wheat flour, instead of refined, plain flour, the cake still turned out wonderfully moist, soft & oh, so delicious!

This recipe makes a 7 inch loaf… a perfect breakfast treat for a harrowed girl on a diet… guaranteed to make you feel better 🙂