Bathua Raita |Chenopodium album Yogurt Dip


Bathua or bathu as some call it is one of my favorite winter greens. I can’t digest spinach so it has been a constant source of high level of iron for me among other things. It is also a rich source of calcium, phosphorous, dietary fibers, amino acids, B complex, Vitamin A and C etc. Usually to absorb all the nutrients it has to be eaten with curds, lemon juice or tomatoes. It keeps the gut healthy, has numerous health benefits and is delicious too. Bathua is also known as Lamb’s Quarters. pigweed, Goosefoot etc.

I use this wonderful, versatile green in stir-fry, as stuffing in parathas, in dals, raita, fritters, kadhi etc. Sarson ka saag is incomplete without adding bathua to it. It is a game changer in that dish. You can even make a simple pesto with it.

Bathua raita is cooling though bathua in itself is considered warming in winter. The beautiful flavor of garlic, green chili,  roasted cumin and bathua make for a delicious raita with cheelas, multigrain rotis, makki or any millet roti.

Here is a simple yet delicious recipe for the raita.

 

Ingredients : 

Bathua greens ( cleaned, washed, stalks removed and chopped) – 1 Cup

Garlic cloves, finely chopped –  1 tbsp

Green chili, finely chopped – 1 tsp

Roasted cumin powder – 1 tbsp

Red chili powder – 1/4 tsp

Black pepper powder – 1/4 tsp

Cumin seeds – 1/4 tsp

Whole coriander seeds – 1/4 tsp

Hing / Asafoetida – 2-3 pinches

Curds (Home cultured) – 2-3 cups

Salt – as per taste

Oil – 1/4 tsp

 

Steps : 

I prefer home cultured curds. Whisk the curds in a bowl so that there are no lumps. Add the powdered spices and salt. Mix well.

Boil the chopped bathua with a little salt and very little water till it becomes soft.

Cool the bathua and rub it with your fingers or grind on the silbatta. ( some people blend it in the mixer but I prefer the coarse leafy texture in the raita)

In a tempering pan  heat a little ghee or mustard oil if you prefer that, add hing, cumin seeds, whole coriander seeds, when the seeds sputter turn of the heat and add chopped green chili ( I use those that are slightly going red), chopped garlic. Stir and pour over the raita.

Decorate with spice powders and serve chilled with parathas, cheelas, multi-grain rotis  etc or just eat a bowlful as it is.

 

 

 

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Spiced Apple Chutney With Caramelized Onion, Indian Gooseberry & Dried Figs


 

Autumn is a beautiful season and fall recipes warm the cockles of my heart. The market is flooded with variety of apples and the Indian Gooseberry is in the season. I usually make Amla Jam / Apple Jam or a combination but it has been years since I did a proper spiced apple chutney. A perfect accompaniment with roasted chicken, lamb, tenderloin, ham slices, pork chops, pan seared lamb or salmon,  or cheese slices especially Cheddar. You can eat it in sandwiches, quiches, vegetable tarts, parathas or anything that could do with a flavor lift. Add it to your overnight oats bowl, smoothie bowl or parfait if you desire.

Sip a glass of warm mulled wine with a cheese and meat platter served with this lip smacking chutney and you are set for the holiday season.

I have a large quantity of Organically grown, chemical free super sweet and crisp Kinnaur red delicious apples from Farmer Uncle and some sour sweet golden apples lying at home.

Apart from snacking on these daily I am slowly doing some dishes with them.

This chutney is one of my favorite and tested recipes. It is hot, sweet, tangy and stays for at least a fortnight on the table.

Apples have a good amount of pectin in them so the chutney gets a great texture. I have not peeled the fruit but you can.

Two things that make this chutney flavorful without masking the flavor of the fruit are Indian gooseberry/Amla and caramelized red onions. You can omit them if you wish and the chutney will still taste awesome. If you use vinegar or apple cider then omit the lemon juice. You will have to adjust the spice threshold, sugar etc as per your taste. I prefer the natural sweetness of the fruits so add less sugar.

Spiked with the warmth of fresh ginger and the heat of red chilli this chutney is a complete winner.

Here is what you need to make it.

Ingredients : 

Apples (Use the ones available in your city), cored and peeled – 1 kg

Indian Gooseberry / Amla, chopped fine – 4 Large

Dates, pitted and chopped – 1/4 cup

Dried figs, chopped fine – 1/4 cup

Sultanas / Raisins – 150 gm

Fresh ginger root, peeled and grated – 3-4 tbsp

Lemon Juice – 3-4 tbsp (adjust as per taste if apples are not sour)

Shakkar/ powdered jaggery / granular sugar / soft brown sugar – 150 gm

Garlic cloves, chopped – 4

Onions, thinly sliced – 300 gm

Cloves- 8-10

Black peppercorns – 10-15

All spice mix – 1/2 tsp

Bay leaf – 1

Homemade garam masala powder – 1/4 tsp

Salt – As per taste

Fresh Red chilli pepper / Red jalapeno, chopped fine – 2-3

Red chili powder  / cayenne pepper / chili flakes – as per taste

Lightly roasted and ground fennel and cumin seeds – 1 tsp each

Oil – 1 tbsp

Steps – 

Cut, core and chop apples in small cubes. Peel them if you desire.  Add the lemon juice to the chopped apples so that they retain their whiteness.  Add sugar to them and mix well. Let them rest till you caramelize the onions, so that the juices are released.

Coarsely pound cloves and black peppercorns.

To caramelize Onions : Heat oil in a thick bottom large sauce pan and thinly sliced onions.  Fry them on slow medium heat so that they get evenly caramelized. I add a little salt to hasten the process. Once crisp and browned remove them to a plate and when they cool a bit crush them with fingers. (Will add pic later. Forgot to take)

In the same pan add the coarsely ground roasted cumin fennel powder and let it sizzle.

Add crushed onion, garlic, ginger, finely chopped red chili, bay leaf, dried figs, apple sugar mixture, amla, sultanas, dates, raisins, ground clove+black peppercorn and let it all cook on steady simmer on medium high heat. (Add vinegar or apple cider if using at this point.)

Keep stirring so that it  doesn’t catch or burn on the bottom of the pan. Once the apples soften and resemble a puree, add the salt, red chili flakes, chili powder, all spice mix, garam masala and mix well so that the spices coat the fruit properly.

Let it simmer on low heat til it reaches a jam consistency. Keep stirring in between and you will notice the change in texture and consistency. It will become syrupy and the apples too will become caramelized.

Once the chutney has thickened draw the wooden spoon across the chutney and if no liquid fills the gap then it is ready. Otherwise cook for some more time.

Turn off the gas and let it rest for 10 minutes in the pan.

Spoon the warm chutney in sterilized or clean glass jars and seal and store.

Once open, use within a fortnight and keep in the fridge. Though I usually don’t refrigerate.

Enjoy this perfectly savory and chunky side to your meals.

Indian Masala Omelette With Multi Grain Paratha And Spiced Apple Chutney

Note : You can keep this chutney a little syrupy too. Makes it easy to spread. I have kept it dry for a purpose. Add 1/2 Cup –  Fresh Apple along with chopped apples if you like a wet chutney.

Summer Special – Healthy Green Plantain Raita


Summer months are for eating light and healthy. Yogurt based dishes especially raitas are cooling and nutritious too. I often make a big bowl at lunch and pair it with simple zeera rice or mixed grain roti & sabzi. Green plantain is cooked like potatoes and used in many recipes as it can not be eaten raw. One can make cips, kebabas, koftas, stir fry, raita and various types of curried or dry vegetable dishes from it. These are nutritious and rich in dietary fiber among other things.Packed with carbohydrates, Vitamin A (more than ripe banana), B Vitamins esp B6, potassium, iron, magnesium these are a good choice to add to your meals.  Raw Onion gives this raita a little crunch and it is good to eat raw onion during summer as it has a cooling effect on the body.

To make this cooling raita you will need :

Ingredients :

Raw green plantains – 2 Medium size

Onion – 1 medium (Optional)

 

Green chili – 1

Grated Ginger – 1 inch

Salt = to taste

Red Chili Powder – (For garnish)

Roasted Cumin Powder ) For garnish

Curd / yogurt – 1 cup whipped

For tempering :

Curry Leaves – 1 sprig 5-6 tender leaves)

Mustard seeds – 1/2 teaspoon

Red whole chili – 1/2

Asafoetida – 2 pinches ( optional but it gives a nice flavor)

Oil – 1/2 teaspoon

Steps – 

Wash and steam or boil green plantains in steamer or pressure cooker. Three whistles are enough but it depends on the size of banana.

Take out , peel the skin and roughly mash the plantain. Some people mash it smooth but I love small soft chunks in the raita.

In a bowl whip the curd till smooth. Add salt to taste.

Add the mashed plantain, grated ginger and chopped onion. Mix well. Raw onion is good to eat in hot summer days.

You can add a little roasted cumin powder and red chili powder too.

Add fresh coriander leaves and mix.

To prepare the tempering :

Take a seasoning pan and put it on low flame. Add oil and when it warms up add mustard seeds and asafoetida. When the seeds start to crackle add curry leaves and red whole chili and chopped green chili. Don’t let the seasoning burn.

Pour it over the raita.

Serve chilled with rice or roti.

Some recipes call for chana dal and / or washed urad daal in tempering. I have not used them here but they do enhance the flavor. Use 1/2 teaspoon of each if desired.

 

Summer Special – Roasted Bell Pepper Raita


It is hot and humid here in Delhi and to beat the heat I always prefer to keep my meals light and include loads of simple yogurt based dishes, dips, raitas etc. I love the cooling effect of cucumber raita, pumpkin raita, lauki or bottle gourd raita, bathua raita, raw plantain or kacche kele ka raita and the everyday tomato, onion raita. Sometimes with poories etc I make the boondi ka raita as well. Fruits or veggies with select spices and whisked yogurt is all it takes conjure up this lovely side dish. The yogurt based condiment is one of the most favored side dishes all across India and forms an integral part of most of the traditional Indian meal. .The cool raita often balanced the hot spicy main dishes in our cuisine and also tones down the intense flavors of main dishes.  I use home cultured yogurt which I think is the best but sometimes I also use the mother dairy dahi which is great for making raitas. The better the yogurt the better the raita.

When I saw the recipe of Roasted Bell Pepper Raita posted by Monika Manchanda on twitter I immediately hopped over to her fantastic blog Sin-a-mon Tales. It looked so appetizing and colorful that  I decided to try it out the very next day. The flavor of charred sweet peppers was mind blowing.

I have used roasted bell peppers in yogurt dips but not as a raita. They gave this raita a very beautiful texture too apart from the burst of colors. The seasoning made it super delicious. Like her, I too love to season my raitas. It just takes the raita to another level of deliciousness.

Though you can click the link above to read the original recipe by her I am still posting mine here.

Roasted Bell pepper Raita :

Ingredients :

Red Bell Pepper – 1

Yellow Bell Pepper – 1

Yogurt – 1 Cup

Salt – to taste

Roasted Cumin Powder – 1 teaspoon

Red Chili Powder – 1/4 teaspoon

Fresh Coriander Greens – 2 tablespoons finely chopped

For Tempering :

Olive Oil – 1 teaspoon

Mustard ( sarso) Seeds – 1/2 teaspoon

Whole Dry Red Chili – 1-2

Cumin ( zeera) Seeds – 1/2 teaspoon

Asafoetida – a pinch

Steps :

Take yogurt in a deep bowl and whisk properly so no lumps remain and it is nice and smooth in texture. Add salt, little roasted cumin powder and a little red chili powder and finely chopped coriander greens. Stir and keep aside.

Wash and pat dry the bell peppers and brush a little oil on them.

Roast them on direct flame or in oven , turning now and then to achieve uniformed roasting. They should not burn but cook evenly.

Once done, place them in a zip-lock bag or wrap in clig wrap to sweat for a few minutes. I find that this makes it easier to peel the charred skin off the peppers.

Remove the charred skin and wash so that all the black skin is cleared.

Chop the peppers and add to the whisked yogurt.

Mix it well.

Heat a small frying pan and  warm the olive oil . Once warm, add asafoetida, mustard seeds and cumin seeds. When they crackle, add  whole red chili pieces. Saute for half a minute. Nothing should burn but give out a nice aroma.

Tip the seasoning over the raita and garnish with more coriander greens.

Serve with parathas, biryani, rotis, poories, pulao or just have a big bowlful all by itself.

I paired it with khatti meethi kaddu sabzi and roti on day 1 and then again with sattu ka paratha and baingan chokha on day 2. This one wasn’t seasoned but tasted as awesome as the first one. 😀

Trust me this is one hell of raita and you will always love to make for any of your lunches, dinners for family and friends.

 

 

Recipe – Indian Gooseberry |Amla Chutney With Peanuts


Indian gooseberries | Amla | Nellikai, dried or fresh, pickled or raw, I like them in any form. Apart from the usual culinary uses Amla also plays a major role in traditional Indian medicines. Unique in flavour, this lovely neon green fruit is in abundance. The ripe ones have a lovely golden yellowish hue. I have also seen some with a pink tinge or rusty-red, even white.

Though it is exceptionally tart and astringent, the water tastes sweet after a bite or two of this fruit. I love eating it raw with little sprinkle of cayenne pepper and salt. One has to develop a taste for it to eat raw but one can use it splendidly in chutneys, jams, murrabas (preserves), candies or grate it and add to vegetables, rice, daal, soups. salads too. Amla juice is considered very beneficial for many diseases and for cleansing the toxins from the body. Add amla to any of the fresh fruit juices to enhance its taste and nutritional value. The fruit is an excellent source of Vitamin C (100gm of amla has approx 600mg of Vitamin C, over 240% RDI). One berry may contain Vit C of two oranges. That’s a lot.

The fruit pairs well with many of the fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices. The classic green chutney with mint/coriander and amla is part of dialy meals across India.

When choosing the fruit, always pick the ones which are not bruised, taut and full to get maximum flavour.

I love to make chutneys of various kinds and you can use amla in a variety of chutneys. This one is with roasted peanuts. You can use soaked raw peanuts too. I prefer the roasted flavour. I didn’t know that peanuts weren’t actually nuts but were part of legumes like beans and that boiling peanuts increases its disease fighting compounds.

Peanuts are heart friendly and I love them in all forms. From simply roasted/boiled/ salted/unsalted ones for munching to adding them in various recipes or even those coated in jaggery. Remind me to make peanut brittle or moongphali ki patti. yummiest thing ever. A few days back I made the first batch of peanut butter and it is vanishing rapidly.

To make Amla Peanut chutney you will need :

Handful of shelled, roasted or soaked peanuts

Raw Amla – 1-2 medium size

Chopped coriander greens –  about 1/2 cup

Garlic pods – 3-4

Ginger – 1/2 inch

Green chilli – 2-3 ( as per taste and hotness)

Salt – as required

Ingredients in a grinder

Ingredients in a grinder

Method : 

You can soak the peanuts in drinking water and use them with the papery skin they have. I roasted the shelled peanuts on low heat till they gave out the toasty aroma. Once roasted, remove the skin by rubbing the peanuts between the palms of your hands. Use peanuts that are clean, not bruised or blemished or broken. Remember to use a handful to roast any nut. Nuts don’t like to be crowded. If you put a large amount they won’t get roasted equally and burn too.

Wash and cut the Amla in wedges. Remove the grape like pit. Chop green chillies, ginger and garlic roughly.

Add all the ingredients in a grinder with a bit of water to make a smooth paste. I do not like the chutneys to be very smooth so I leave them a bit grainy ensuring that the ingredients have grinded properly.

Spoon the chutney in bowl and squeeze some lime over it (half a lime).

Amla Peanut Chutney

Serve it with almost anything. Use it as spreads for sandwiches like I did or pair it with sooji / besan ka cheela.

The chutney goes well with everything.

Fresh Apricot, Dates and Raisin Chutney Recipe


I love apricots and the markets are flooded with these gorgeous fruit these days. Apart from making them a part of my daily fruit intake I love to make compote, preserve (click for my recipe of apricot preserve) , chutney etc from any seasonal fruit I can find in the market. Apricot chutney is delicious and a perfect condiment with cold meats, grilled meats, parathas, bread, cheese crackers, tacos etc. It sure is a great accompaniment for curries, roasts and in sandwiches.

You can even lick it off the spoon any time of the day for a tangy sweet experience. It is gluten-free, low in calorie and full of flavour plus nutrition. Packed with vitamins , fiber, this iron rich date, raisin, apricot chutney is one thing I always have in the fridge during summer. Ginger and other spices give it a burst of flavor. Overall it is a treat.

To make this lovely chutney you need

Fresh Apricots – 500 gms (washed, pitted and roughly chopped with skin)

Raisins – 1/2 cup

Dates – – 1/4 cup ( roughly chopped)

Red or White Onion – 1 Medium

Garlic – 2-3 pods ( crushed and chopped finely)

Ginger – 1/2 inch (made into juliennes) (can use glace candied ones too 1/4 cup)

Red chilli whole -1 Small

Peppercorns – 5-6 crushed or whole

White vinegar/ apple cider vinegar/ malt vinegar or lemon juice – 1/4 cup or juice of one lemon

Salt – 1/2 teaspoon

Garam Masala * – 1/4 teaspoon

Olive Oil – 2 tablespoon

Honey – 3 tablespoons

Sugar – 1/2 cup ( as required) ( brown or white. You can add palm jaggery or sugarcane jaggery too)

For the muslin spice infusion bag 

Bay leaf – 1

Peppercorns -8

Mace blade – 1

Cinnamon stick –  small piece

Cloves – 3-4

All spice – 1

All spices slightly roasted and tied in the infusion bag)

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Directions – 

Wash, dry, pit and chop Apricots. Chop dates and keep aside.

Heat oil in a heavy bottom pan, add peppercorns and red chilli. (You can remove the red chilli before spooning it in jar)

Add chopped onion and stir till translucent. Add ginger and garlic. Stir for a minute. Keep this on low flame.

Add chopped apricots, dates and raisins. Stir.

Add the dry powder masalas and salt.

Add sugar and little water (about 1/4 cup)

Add the spice infusion bag.

Bring it to boil and let it cook till the fruit becomes soft.

Keep stirring till the mixture thickens to the desired consistency.

Add honey and vinegar or lime juice. Stir constantly on medium heat so the chutney doesn’t stick to the pan.

You can taste and adjust the sweetness etc as desired.

This chutney takes about an hour to cook. You can use slow cooker also.

Once the chutney reaches its desired consistency put out the heat and let it cool till it reaches room temperature.

Remove the spice infusion bag.

Spoon the yummy chutney in sterilized air tight mason jars and refrigerate. Use of lemon juice or vinegar helps in preservation.

One can keep it for a couple of days or a few weeks in the fridge.

Fruit selection – Always use sweet-smelling fruit. It will definitely taste good.

Tips – You can get creative with this chutney and ad/ remove dry fruits. Add sultanas instead of raisins, add apple shreds or orange rings. It is an artwork in which you get to use the imagination and bring out something delicious.

*Garam Masala – I make it at home with black whole cardamom, clove, peppercorn, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cinnamon, nutmeg etc. all roasted slightly and ground to a fine powder)  We use very little of it as there are already whole spices infused in the chutney.

Enjoy !