Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Sambar - For Breakfast, Lunch Or Dinner

My mother being North Indian, the sambar we had at home was probably not the real thing. But what is real sambar

It's a dish made with a dal, some vegetables and some tamarind pulp. When everything is cooked, the dish is tempered with some mustard seeds, a couple of dried red chillies and some curry leaves. 
A sambar is served at breakfast with idlis, dosas or vadas.  
The sambar is the brown soupy thing in the bowls.
For lunch, in most South Indian States, a sambar is an almost must with rice, a dry vegetable dish, some pappadums, pickles and some dahi
Can you spot the sambar?
I've learned that sambar and other sour dishes are avoided at dinner but that might just be in Kerala or, perhaps, only practised in some households. 

Whilst travelling in the South, we discovered that restaurants rarely serve "meals" at night. Folks there now seem to prefer snack food for dinner. 

Traditionally, in Kerala, for example, kanji was popular.  

For a long time, I'd assumed that sambar was only ever made with arhar dal, although I've often used masoor dal. Masoor dal sambar is faster to cook and, perhaps, more nutritious and easier to digest. 

Friday, March 18, 2016

Don't Cry Over Split Milk - Part II

Sweet Tooth India is notorious for it's desserts. The humble Rasgulla is my personal favourite. It's a spongy white ball which has soaked up some syrup. Given my preference for it, I've tried to make it over the years and always failed. Everyone told me it's easy but it was not - everything went wrong.
They were divine!
The Internet Saves The Day The other day, a batch of milk I'd boiled the day before and kept in the fridge, split. Undaunted by previous failures, I surfed the Net and found two recipes I could work with: TIPS AND TRICKS TO MAKE FABULOUS ROSHOGOLLA/RASGULLA and Rasgulla recipe (Homemade rasgulla recipe).
This batch didn't split so good but, even then, the rasgullas came out fine! 
I think washing the paneer did some good. Although it's mentioned that it's used to remove the taste of the lime used to split it, it also works to soften the paneer and to remove any unwanted tastes or odours.
The other tip that was worthwhile was about the syrup and time of boiling.
Making my rasgullas was way easier than shown in the video but the young man is very cute! I'm so proud of myself and that's one more thing off my bucket list.
Keep visiting for more recipes, cookery tips, restaurant reviews and more!
Coming soon: Rasmalai!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Don't Cry Over Split Milk - Part I

In India, many of us still boil milk, even when it's delivered to us in plastic packets labelled 'Pasteurised'. Since most regions of India are pretty hot for most of the year, milk tends to turn. Once boiled, it is safe for most of the day but needs to be refrigerated if kept for a longer period. Come summer, vile curses erupt from sundry Indian kitchens as folks discover the milk has split.

I've had so much "Waste not, want not" dinned into me that I tend to try and make use of all leftovers and such. Thus I've had a long struggle to find a way with whey. For, when milk curdles, it leaves whey. 

Now, if you don't catch the split milk soon, it tends to smell disgusting and is no longer fit for experiments. Ways with whey that I'm going to reveal are best undertaken if you catch the milk in time, when it's just turned or begun to. 

Alternatively, and that is much wiser, curdle your milk on purpose to be on the safe side. 
Anyway, once the milk is split and you've boiled it for a bit, you'll see that the solids have separated out from the whey. While the solids can be used for all sorts of dishes, not everyone might care for the taste of the whey. 

There are a number of ways to use up the whey, but I finally found what suits me. I turned it into soup. 
Well, my soup was more or less made that way. 
Whey Tomato Carrot Soup
1-2 tomatoes
1 carrot
1 onion
6 cloves of garlic or less
1 green chili pepper
A few pepper corns
A small bunch of coriander leaves
1 bay leaf or tejpatta
11/2 Tbsp butter or olive oil
1 Tbsp refined flour
About half a litre of whey

Lightly saute the chopped vegetables, pepper and bay leaf in one tablespoon of butter/oil. Bring them to a boil and cook until soft in the whey. Alternatively pressure cook them in a container in a pressure cooker, without water (of course you have to add water in the body of the cooker and stand your container with vegetables in it). I'd say just give them a couple of whistles or cook for 5 minutes or less after the cooker hisses.

When cool, blend the solids in a blender. Add to the whey and bring to a gentle boil, stirring constantly so that it doesn't curdle. 

Add salt somewhere along the way. It's better to add with caution.

Heat the rest of the butter/oil gently and add the flour.  Saute lightly for about a minute. Pour in the soup, little by little, stirring frequently to blend well.

Serve with a dash of cream and garnish with a leaf of mint. 

I presume you know how to make your croutons!
I just heat up a batch of oil in a deep pan and deep fry cubes of bread. 

Stay tuned for Part II where I show you how to make my favourite sweet, rasagulla, with the solids left over from splitting the milk.