Ragi … also known as millet, nachni, sollu, or sattemavu … is a wonder grain. It is an annual plant widely grown as a cereal in the arid areas of Africa and Asia. India is a major cultivator of Ragi, also known as finger millet. Finger millet is especially valuable as it contains the amino acid methionine, which is lacking in the diets of hundreds of millions of the poor who live on starchy staples such as cassava, plantain, polished rice, or maize meal. Finger millet can be ground and cooked into cakes, puddings or porridge. Ragi flour is made into flatbreads, including thick, leavened dosa and thinner, unleavened roti. Ragi grain is malted and the grains are ground. This ground flour is consumed mixed with milk, boiled water or yoghurt. It is the staple diet of majority of Kannadigas, especially in the rural areas. The mudde which is prepared by cooking Ragi flour with water to achieve dough like consistency is then rolled into ‘balls’ of desired size and consumed. In Andhra Pradesh Ragi Sankati (Telugu), which are ragi balls are eaten in the morning with a chilli, onions, sambar (lentil based stew) or meat curry and helps them sustain throughout the whole day. Ragi crop grows well without irrigation, pesticides or fertilisers. It is rich in calcium iron, protein and some rare nutrients such as methionine, and digests easily from infancy through old age, and its nutrients are highly absorbed. Continue reading
Sesame (Sesamum indicum) is a flowering plant in the genus Sesamum. Sesame seed is considered to be the oldest oilseed crop known to man, domesticated well over 5000 years ago. Sesame is very drought-tolerant. It has been called a survivor crop, with an ability to grow where most crops fail. Sesame has one of the highest oil content of any seed. With a rich nutty flavour, it is a common ingredient in cuisines across the world. Sesame seeds are small. The size, form and colours vary with the thousands of varieties now known. Typically, the sesame seeds are about 3 to 4 millimetres long by 2 millimetres wide and 1 millimetre thick. The seeds are ovate, slightly flattened and somewhat thinner at the eye of the seed than at the opposite end. The weight of the seed is between 20 and 40 milligrams. The seed coat may be smooth or ribbed. Sesame is indispensable in Middle-Eastern, Far-Eastern, and Indian cooking. From Asia it made its way to Africa where slaves are credited with introducing it to North America. It is even grown in Mexico and other parts of Latin America. Continue reading
Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum), is an annual plant in the family Fabaceae. The plant is cultivated worldwide as a semi-arid crop and is a common ingredient in dishes from the Indian Subcontinent. Fenugreek has three culinary uses: as herb (dried or fresh leaves), as a spice (seeds), and as a vegetable (fresh leaves, sprouts, and micro greens). The distinctive cuboid-shaped, yellow-to-amber coloured fenugreek seeds are frequently encountered in the cuisines of the Indian subcontinent. The seeds are used in the preparation of pickles, vegetable dishes, daals, and spice mixes. Fenugreek seeds are used both whole and in powdered form and are often roasted to reduce their bitterness and enhance their flavour. Fenugreek is also used as a vegetable. Fresh fenugreek leaves are an ingredient in some Indian curries. Continue reading
Coriander spice refers to the seed of the cilantro plant. Coriander (Coriandrum sativum), also known as cilantro, Chinese parsley or dhania, is an annual herb in the family Apiaceae. Coriander is tender hollow stemmed plant in the apiaceae family, of the genus coriandum. Pleasantly aromatic and spicy, the seeds have been in use since ancient times in cooking as well as in various traditional medicines. After ripening the small, round coriander seeds take on a scent and flavour that is lemony, with a hint of sage. Coriander finds mention in the Old Testament where it is compared with Manna, the heaven-sent food of the Israelites. Coriander was used by the Egyptians as far back as 5000 years ago. Its preservative properties were known to the Romans as far back as Julius Caesar’s reign, when Roman soldiers took it along with them during expeditions, to preserve meat. The Arabs introduced it to China and India, who readily took to its use as a flavouring spice. Curry powder is based on different spices, the most prominent of these being coriander. Coriander is also an important seasoning for many Mexican Salsas. Thai cuisine makes use of the Coriander root, crushed with garlic and pepper, as a very prominent seasoning. The leaves are variously referred to as coriander leaves, fresh coriander, Chinese parsley, or cilantro. Continue reading
Mustard is one of the most ancient spices. These seeds pack a lot of health benefits. Greens, Seeds (black, yellow or brown) and oil, all have many curative and culinary uses since ancient times. Three types of mustard seeds are Black mustard, White mustard and Brown mustard. White mustard seeds, (Brassica alba) are light straw yellow coloured and are slightly larger than the other two varieties. Black mustards (Brassica nigra) are commonly seen in South Asia. The seeds are sharp and more pungent than other two varieties. Brown mustards (Brassica juncea) are native to sub- Himalayan plains of Northern India.
Generally perceived as health benefiting spice, mustard seeds are indeed very rich in phytonutrients, minerals, vitamins and anti-oxidants. Mustard stimulates the appetite by increasing salivation up to eight times. It also has laxative and digestive stimulant properties and also aids circulation. Mustard seeds are rich in Selenium and Magnesium. Selenium helps reduce the severity of asthma, decrease some of the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, and help prevent cancer. They are good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Mustard oil has anti-septic and antifungal properties. Massage with mustard oil on the body gives strength. Mustard oil is rich in mono saturated fatty acids and low in saturated fats making it the perfect heart friendly cooking medium. Greek scientist Pythagoras used mustard as a remedy for scorpion stings. Continue reading
Indian Vegetable Dish – DIL SE…
125 grams Cream
75 grams Khoya or paneer
150 ml. milk
50 grams cashew nuts
3 tsp. White pepper powder.
2 1/2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. grated ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg powder
1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
1 tsp. garlic crushed
Salt to taste
3 tbsp. ghee
50 grams khoya
50 grams paneer
5 medium potatoes
20 grams cashew nuts
20 grams raisins
4-5 green chillies chopped fine
1/2 tsp. ginger grated
1 tsp. coriander chopped
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
Salt to taste
1 tbsp. grated cheese or paneer
1 tbsp. chopped coriander
Boil the potatoes, peel and smash them.
Mix together all the ingredients except raisins and cashews.
Take small ball-sized dough in hand.
Flatten. Place 2-3 cashews and raisins in the centre and shape into a ball.
Repeat for the remaining dough. Keep aside. Continue reading
BHALE PADHARYA – WELCOMEPART 3
Makes about 30 pieces; Preparation time-30 minutes; Cooking time-25 minutes
2 teacups split Bengal gram ½” piece ginger
½ teaspoon soda bicarbonate 5 tablespoon oil
A pinch of asafoetida salt to taste
4 green chillies
¼ teaspoon mustard seeds 8 curry leaves
½ cup chopped coriander leaves ½ cup grated coconut Continue reading
Smart moves to cooking……..
- Do not throw away the white inner layer of the water melon skin. Grate it and add wheat flour, ginger-garlic paste, chopped coriander leaves, cumin powder and salt as required. Add a little tamarind juice if you wish to. Bind to a smooth dough and make some unusual parathas.
- Mint chutney will retain its green colour, if you first grind them with lime juice to a paste. And then add salt to the paste.
- Cauliflower and cabbage stalks can be used to make excellent soup stocks. Boil and puree them when cool.
- To make soft and tasty ‘naans’ and ‘bhaturas’, mix the dough using drinking (aerated) soda. Continue reading
FOOD OF THE GODS…….
Asafoetida is the dried latex exuded from the living underground rhizome or tap root of several species of Ferula, which is a perennial herb (1 to 1.5 m high). Asafoetida is unique to other spices, as it is not made from the leaves, flowers, seeds or roots of the plant. To harvest asafoetida, the stalks of the plant are cut and the milky fluid which is released is collected and dried into a sticky resin. The resin-like gum which comes from the dried sap extracted from the stem and roots is used as a spice. This spice is used as a digestive aid, in food as a condiment, and in pickles. Asafoetida is also known as hing, devil’s dung or stinking gum. It tastes much better than what its unpleasant smell suggests. It combines extremely well with other spices. The Persians considered it as food for the Gods. Continue reading