Pasta in Spinach Sauce / Macaroni in Spinach Sauce

Hello my lovely readers, how was your festive season? Hope you had enjoyed this festive season with lots food and had fun with family members. Now you must be really feeling sad to go back to your regular life. I know this feeling is quite weird! When you take a break you feel happy as you  want to enjoy holidays but when the break is extended you miss your routine life and again when it is time get back to work again you feel low. It is really difficult to understand our own mind and control it. Isn't it true?

Routine life means go to daily grocery and vegetable shopping, planning your meals and n number works life laundry, cleaning, washing, etc. If you have kids then one more additional work is lunch box preparation. During this festive holidays they are used to with special foods and snacks. Suddenly you can't give them a blunt foods! Why? Think from their pint of view. Till now they were in festive mood enjoying each and every moment with grandparents cousins, uncles- aunts so lots of pampering happens this time. They will be in sad mood as they have to get back to their school tuition life ( we have gone through the same). A special food in lunch box can boost their moral and they will be in energetic form to start their routine life once again. Here is a special recipe of Pasta to boost everyone's mood after festive season.

Today I am sharing the recipe of pasta in spinach sauce  or macaroni in spinach sauce. You can use spinach sauce with penne pasta or spaghetti. You can name this recipe pasta in green sauce. Most of the pasta recipes use cream but here I have used milk. Obviously you can replace milk with cream but I wanted to keep it simple instead of calorie rich.


Spinach is rich in iron so you are putting nutritious palak/spinach in your kid's lunch box and I bet your kid will say 'mumma pasta in green sauce was super delicious'. I would say don't reveal the secret ingredient spinach to your kid instead you say pasta in spinach sauce. Sometimes we (mommies) should use tricks to deal with your picky eater.

As I said earlier, palak/spinach pairs well with garlic hence I have given garlicy flavour to the pasta.
Instead of butter you can use olive oil but again use of butter will enhance the taste of the recipe. If you are making pasta in spinach sauce for adults, then you can throw one or two green chilli while blending spinach leaves. You can always add more or less cheese according to your taste bud. Now it's mid November and everywhere in India markets are flooded with fresh spinach bundles. So what are you waiting for! This lush green pasta in palak sauce will definitely keep away your Monday blues.

Here are more Palak/Spinach recipes …

Chole Palak
Palak Paratha
Cheesy Spinach Sandwich

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 20 to 25 minutes
Servings: 2 

Pasta in Spinach Sauce / Macaroni in Spinach Sauce

Ingredients

Spinach Leaves  (Palak) - 3 cups, tightly packed
Macaroni - 11/2 cup
Salt to taste
Garlic - chopped, 2 teaspoon
Cheese - grated, 2 tablespoon
Butter - 1 tablespoon
Refined oil - 1 tablespoon
Oregano - 1 teaspoon
Milk - 1 cup

Procedure

1. Clean the spinach leaves and blanch them in boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes.
2. Drain the water and make smooth puree in blender and keep aside.
3. Boil water in a heavy bottom vessel and cook macaroni in this. Add a tablespoon of refined oil and little salt. This will help to prevent the pastas from sticking with each other. Cooking of pasta may take 7 to 8 minutes or little more time.
4. After the macaroni are cooked drain the water  (use a colander to drain the water) and keep it (macaroni) under running water. Cold water helps to prevent the pastas from getting overcooked.
5. Now heat butter in a pan and add chopped garlics and sauté for few  minutes.
6. Later add the spinach puree and cook until the raw smell is gone.
7. Next add milk and mix it well and cook for few minutes.
8. Now add salt to taste and oregano and give a good mix.
9.  Add the boiled macaroni and toss them in spinach sauce. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
10. Switch off the gas and add the grated cheese on top and serve hot.

N.B.: Spinach sauce has to be in right consistency. It should not be watery or dried up. The right consistency of the spinach sauce will be absorbed by the pasta. If the sauce is drying up you can add little milk or water and if the consistency of the sauce is runny in texture, boil for some more time to make it little thick. If it is too runny I would suggest to add 1 tablespoon of flour roasted in butter into the sauce. However, mix it evenly to avoid any lump



Apricot Cranberry and White Chocolate Truffles

Happy Diwali
Wish you all a very Happy and Prosperous Diwali. May the divine light of Diwali brings joy, happiness, peace and good health and take away all the darkness and negativity! Have a wonderful enlightened year ahead.



Diwali or Deepavali is India's biggest festival and it is celebrated during Autumn. It is celebrated across India and each region has their own way of celebrating Diwali. Preparation of Diwali starts just after the end of Dussehra. Cleaning of house, decorating it, shopping new clothes and obviously making of Diwali special sweets and savouries are part of this festival. Diwali starts with Dhanteras [13th day of dark fortnight of Kartik month (Hindu Calendar)]. On this auspicious day most of the Hindu households purchase metal goodies including utensils, gold or silver, etc. Next day is named as Naraka Chaturdasi or Bhoot Chaturdasi. The day is also indicated as choti diwali. Fourteen diyas are enlightened on this day. Third day is celebrated Diwali which is the last day of the dark fort night of the lunar month. Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped on this day and enlightens diya (earthen lamp) in rows throughout the house balcony, doors, and every possible places. Nowadays LED lamps are also used for the decoration purpose. Everyone put Rangoli (colorful designs) and burst fire crackers. Next day of Diwali is celebrated as Govardhan Puja and 5th day is celebrated as Bhai Duj/ Bhai phonta. So Diwali as a whole is a five day celebration. Any celebration is incomplete without good food! What say readers? 

How do you celebrate Diwali? What is your special way of celebrating and what do you prepare as sweet or snacks? 

Dry fruits are the popular gifts for diwali. Assorted dry fruits packs or sweets made of dry fruits are very common during diwali. I am presenting these dry fruits in a totally new avatar of truffles. Here is an easy and interesting recipe of Apricot Cranberry and White Chocolate Truffles.

I know I am sharing Diwali recipe a bit late but this is a winner recipe believe me. It won't take much time to prepare. Though I prepared this much ahead to share with you all but I was stuck with lot of work and our daughter was not well. Today when I went to Monday market, it was flooded with all Diwali Puja samagri (Puja items, Diyas, Rangolis and many things). Then I realized oh today is dhanteras and I haven't shared the Diwali post yet.



So don't worry if you haven't done anything for Diwali obviously you can purchase from super markets but I would say you can prepare this Apricot Cranberry and White Chocolate Truffles and surprise your near and dear ones. Glance through the ingredient list quickly and land to the nearest supermarket and pick the items. You can prepare these truffles in no time. It's no-fail recipe and everyone will like it. These truffles have the touch of tradition as well as look modern! Aren't they perfect for Diwali celebrations. Make it and share the feedback to me.

Preparation time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 1 hr
Yields: 12 to 13

Apricot Cranberry and White Chocolate Truffles

Ingredients
Dried Apricots - 1 cup, finely chopped
Dried Cranberry - 1/2 cup
Cashew nuts - 10 to 12, roasted and crushed
Condensed Milk - 2 tablespoon
White Chocolate - 125 gms, grated
Colourful Sugar Balls -  1 tablespoon

Procedure

1.Take chopped apricots, cranberries and crushed nuts in a bowl and mix them well.
2. Next add condensed milk into the mixture and combine well.
3. Refrigerate the mixture for 10 to 15 minutes.
4. Take out and make lemon size balls and place them on a tray lined with butter paper. Once again refrigerate them for 10 to 15 minutes.
5. Take grated chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and micro for 1 to 2 minutes to melt it.
6. Now take out the balls from the refrigerator and dip each ball into melted chocolate to coat all over and place it on the butter paper lined tray. Use forks or spoons to dip the balls into melted chocolate.
7. Immediately sprinkle some colourful sugar balls on it.
8. Repeat the same process for all the remaining balls.
9. Refrigerate them once again for 15 minutes or unless the chocolate are set.
10. Take them out from the butter paper and use a sharp knife to remove the excess chocolate accumulated at the bottom of the truffle.
11. Now store them in an air-tight container for a week in the refrigerator.




Mochar Chop or Banana Blossom Croquette

Mochar chop or Banana Blossom Croquette is a delicacy from the land of Bengal. It is also known as Banana flower croquette which is an authentic recipe of Bengal. Banana flower is known as mocha in Bengali which is very unique in nature. Even when we talk about mocha, we (Bengalis) become sentimental as this vegetable is being cooked from ages in various forms and somewhere indicates the Bengali culture and tradition. In many Bengali novels and poems, we found the mention of mocha, even in the writings of Rabindranath Tagore. Hence, whenever there is an authentic meal, we often see mocha makes it to our menu. 



Mocha is a kind of vegetable which always reminds olden days because due to the lack of time today's generation avoid cooking this vegetable at home irrespective of its health benefits. So slowly the recipes using mocha is becoming extinct as cleaning and cutting of mocha takes time and patience. 

I have also noticed that these days most of the vegetables are getting makeovers or people create lot of new recipes however, no such things happened with banana flower aka mocha. I think people still prefer those olden authentic recipes of mocha including mochar ghonto, mochar chop, mochar kofta, etc. 

I have learnt cutting and cleaning of banana flower or mocha from my father in childhood, as he used to do it (even now he does it) and I used to help him. All banana flowers are not good in taste hence, taste a floret before you purchase it. Otherwise, all your hard work will go in vein (Yes! I have experienced it two -three times😐)  if it turns out bitter in taste. If it is slightly bitter, still we can manage by soaking it in tamarind water overnight. 

I have seen my grandmother using chopped coconuts in mochar ghonto and I can say both pair really well. If you wish you can add chopped coconuts (fry them) into mochar chop, it really gives a good flavour to the chop. I have used bhaja mashla in the recipe. Here I am sharing how you can prepare the bhaja mashla I have used here. Take coriander powder, cumin powder, garam masala powder and black pepper powder  in the ratio of 2:2:1:1 and dry roast together. Cool it and store it and use wherever you want. Many people use whole garam masalas to prepare bhaja masala but I have shared my way of making bhaja masala (easy & quick). 




The preparation time of the recipe is long as it includes the resting time of 3 hours. Resting time is important which helps to retain the shape of the chop, otherwise once you start frying it may loose the binding and shape. Once you clean and cut mocha, the recipe is not that difficult and when you taste it I am sure you want to repeat it once again. Mochar chop is a truly vegetarian recipe which does not have any onion or garlic and I have never heard someone cooking mocha with onion and garlic. Mochar chop is a good party snack or starter item which you can keep ready previous day and next day fry them and serve hot. 

Preparation time: 5 hrs
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Yields: 8 to 9 


Mochar Chop or Banana Blossom Croquette 


Ingredients
Banana flower/mocha - chopped, 2 cups
Potato - 2 large,  boiled and mashed
Peanuts - 1/4 cup
Ginger Paste - 1 teaspoon
Turmeric - 1 teaspoon
Bhaja Masala/Moshla - 1 teaspoon
Salt to taste
Bread Crumbs - 1 cup
Black Salt - 1/4 teaspoon, for sprinkle
Mustard Oil - 2 tablespoon + 3 cups (or as required) for deep frying


Batter
Besan/Bengal Gram Flour - 1/2 cup
Rice Flour - 2 tablespoons
Baking Soda - a pinch
Red chili powder 1/4 teaspoon
Salt to taste

Procedure



How to clean and cut the banana flower?



1. First remove the outer cover (reddish brown colour) of the banana blossom and collect the florets or inside flowers.
2. Take each floret and take out or tear the middle hard stem (stigma) and white smear present in front of the floret.


Making of Chop

3. Next take few cleaned florets together and finely chop them and keep them in a bowl of turmeric water ( 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder + 3 cups water). Cut all the florets.
4. Now drain the turmeric water and pressure cook them up to 4 whistles with little salt.
5. Allow to release the pressure, drain the water and collect the boiled and chopped florets. 
6. After cooling down take boiled and mashed potato in a plate and add bhaja mashla and salt to it and mix well using your palm. 
7. Heat 2 tablespoon of mustard oil in a pan and fry the peanuts till they change the colour, however do not burn them.
8. Take out the fried peanuts and add them to the potato-banana flower mixture. 
9. The pan will have little bit of oil (if not add little oil), add ginger paste in that and sauté it for 1-2 minutes.
10. Next add the mixture (potato-banana flower-peanuts) and give a good stir until the mixture is dried.
11. Allow to cool the mixture before you give them shape. 
12. Apply little bit of oil in your palm and take some mixture and give them cylindrical or round (or any shape you want to give). 
13. Let's prepare the batter now. Take all the ingredients mentioned above (under Batter heading)  in a bowl and add water very carefully (do not add excess water instead add little at a time and mix) and make a smooth flowing batter. 
14. Take the breadcrumbs in a plate and add little salt in to it and mix and spread on the plate.
15. Now take each chop, dip in batter and roll in breadcrumbs to coat it.  Follow the same process for all the chops.
16. Store these breadcrumb coated chops in an air tight container for minimum 3 hours (or overnight) in refrigerator.
17. Take out those chops from refrigerators before frying. 
18. Heat oil in a wok and deep fry those chops under medium flame until they are nice golden and brown. 
19. Take those out from oil in a kitchen towel or tissue paper to soak the extra oil and sprinkle black salt on top and serve hot with ketchup or kasundi (Bengali style Mustard sauce).




Dal Palak / Palak Dal / Spinach in Split Green Gram Skinless

Dal - A comfort food which we often keep in our meal menu. There are varieties of preparations of dals. Most simplest way to cook dal is to boil any dal (Red Lentil, Yellow Moong Dal, Chana Dal, Urad Dal, etc) and add tadka into it. Each of the dal will give different taste. 

Today I am sharing a healthy recipe of dal palak which is an easy and quick recipe to be paired with rice and roti. Dal itself adds goodness to your meal however, addition of Spinach or Palak leaves can make it more nutritious and tasty. As we all know Palak is a very good source of Iron which we (especially women) should include in our diet. Women often suffer from anemia due to iron deficiency. Are you Anemic? Please read this article (Published in Smart Indian Women Website) to know the tips to combat anemia.




Coming back to the recipe, I have followed this recipe of dal palak from Chef Sanjeev Kapoor. If you are bored of eating same dal everyday, then you should try this recipe for sure. At times we do not get time to cook leafy vegetables separately. Dal palak is the easiest way to add palak into your daily diet. Even kids often does not want to eat green leafy vegetables. But if you add leaves to the dal they don't complaint as most of the kids prefer dal as part of their meal. 


Dal Palak / Palak Dal / Spinach in Split Green Gram Skinless


Ingredients


Yellow Moong Dal (Split Green Gram Skinless) - 2/3 cup

Spinach Leaves - 10 to 12 (torn or chopped in pieces)
Turmeric Powder - 1 teaspoon
Salt to taste
Asafoetida - a pinch
Onion - 1 medium, chopped
Garlic - 3 to 4 pods, chopped
Ginger - 1/2 inch, chopped
Cumin Seeds - 1 teaspoon
Green Chilli - 2, chopped
Lime Juice - few drops
Refined Oil - 11/2 tablespoon 

Procedure

 Wash and soak the dal for 20 minutes. Now boil the dal with the addition of 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder, salt and a pinch of asafoetida. I used pressure cooker and put 2 to 3 whistles. Now heat oil in a wok and add cumin seeds. Once they started spattering, add chopped garlic, ginger and green chilli. Next goes chopped onion and fry till they are brown. Now add remaining turmeric powder. Finally add boiled dal and adjust the water level. When dal starts boiling add chopped spinach leaves and boil for another 5 minutes. Before switching off the gas add lime juice and serve it with plain rice or roti.



Kora Paker Sondesh

Sondesh or Sandesh is a famous sweet from Bengal which is made using chena/ homemade cottage cheese and sugar or gur (jaggery) as sweetener. Our (Read Bengali's) celebrations are incomplete without sweets especially rosogolla and sondesh. In olden days, a Bengali meal was not complete without sweets (we call it 'sesh pate mishti') and this tradition is still going on for any special occasion though on regular basis the consumption of sweets have reduced. Any Bengali wedding or any other occasions like Bhai phonta (Bhai duj), Jamai Soshti (A special day for son-in-law), Onnoprason ( baby's first rice eating ceremony) to name a few, we (Bengalis) serve rosogolla and sondesh to end the meal.
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Now you can understand, sondesh and rosogolla are integral part of Bengali's life. Till now I was talking about sondesh now I will talk about types of sondesh. In my childhood, I used to say sada sondesh (White sondesh) and Brown  Sondesh. These are nothing but sondesh made with chini (Sugar) and Nolen Gur (date palm jaggery), respectively. Sondesh prepared with sugar is called plain sondesh or sondesh. Sondesh prepared with nolen gur is known as Gurer Sondesh.

Sondesh is also categorized depending on the process of cooking the chena and they are Norom Paker Sondesh and Kora Paker Sondesh. In the process of making when the chena is cooked for longer time along with khova it gives harder variety and known as kora paker sondesh whereas norom paker sondesh is prepared by cooking the chena for shorter time to make soft sondesh. The shelf life of Kara Paker Sondesh is more compared to Norom paker sondesh. When norompaker sondesh is not moulded and it is called makha sondesh. There is one more variety of sondesh which is called kanchagolla and no heat is used to prepare this version. When chena is kneaded with sugar or jaggery and formed into balls are called as kanchagolla. 

If you ever get an opportunity to travel interior parts or small towns of Bengal, do try their makha sondesh. It is heavenly good. You will get less varieties of sweets but you will get the actual taste of the sweet which till they have retain without adding any artificial colour and fragrance. I remember my baba used to visit to rural Bengal areas due to his work commitments and he used to get a good quantity of sweets from those places and those are the best sweets I ever had. 

I prepared norom paker sondesh many times but this puja I prepared kora paker sondesh for the first time. I referred an old book of Bela De and made the changes according to our taste buds. I have also tweaked the procedure to make this a fail-proof recipe. It is not necessary that the colour of the kora paker sondesh will be brownish in texture. The colour depends on the color of the khova used in the sondesh. The khova I used is off white in colour hence the sondesh is white in color not brownish.



Presentation is the key of any food preparation and that's why when you prepare designed sondesh everyone gets attracted towards it. To make designer sondesh you knead some pretty moulds. Since my food blogging started, my hunt for these pretty moulds initiated. No I did not find them online, so request my parents and they got few  small size from a local fair at my town. You can see the impressions of these small sondesh are not very clear and I was not satisfied and finally my Ma discovered 2 big size mould from my Grandma's house (My father's mother who was expert in cooking and writing too, I think I inherit the writing passion from her). Look at these big size sondesh, how clear those impressions are! 

However, I am still in search of sondesh making moulds with varieties of design, if anyone reading this post and give an idea where can I get those mould would be a great help. It has to be online so that I can purchase as I cannot physically visit the place and buy them. I heard there are shops in Kalighat, Kolkata where wooden sondesh moulds are available, if anyone knows any seller who is selling online can drop a comment in this post.

Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hr 15 minutes
Yield: 8


Kora Paker Sondesh


Ingredients


Milk - 750 ml
Vinegar - 1 to 2 tablespoon
Khoya/Khova - 100 gm, grated
Sugar - 1/2 cup
Water - 1/2 cup
Vanilla essence - 2 drops

Procedure

Making of Chena/Cottage Cheese

1. Boil milk in a heavy bottom pan and add vinegar to curdle the milk. Stir the milk while you add the vinegar. After few minutes you can see the light greenish color whey is separated from cottage cheese or chena.

2. After curdling, strain the cottage cheese (chena) by keeping a muslin cloth on the top of a large size wire mesh. you can collect the whey at the bottom and use it for kneading dough or other purposes instead of draining it.

3. Next wash the cottage cheese under running water to get rid off the smell of vinegar.
4. Now  bring all the ends of the muslin cloth together and squeeze out the water from the cottage cheese.
5. To drain the remaining water present in the cottage cheese, keep the cottage cheese in the muslin cloth on a plate and keep a heavy weight on top of it. Keep it for 15 to 20 minutes.

Making of Sondesh

6. Take out the cottage cheese from the cloth and blend it in a blender for few minutes to get smooth texture.
7. In the mean time take sugar and water in a pan and boil to make a one string sugar syrup.
8. Next add the kneaded cottage cheese into it and mix well for few minutes by stirring continuously ( around 7 to 8 minutes under medium flame).
9. When the mixture becomes sticky add the grated khova and vanilla essence and mix well.
10. After stirring continuously when the mixture will start leaving the pan side wall, cook for 1 or 2 minutes more and switch off the gas.
11. Allow the mixture to cool it for a while and later take mixture similar to lemon size balls or smaller balls (according to your mould size) and place on the mould and give your desired shape and design.
12. After giving the shape to the sondesh keep them in refrigerator for 15 to 20 minutes and later serve kora paker sondesh.

NB:
  • It is important to remember that you should not overcook the chena with sugar syrup which will give a crumbly texture.
  • Drain the water in the chena completely.
  • Do not forget to blend the chena to get smooth texture.


Instant Oats Yogurt and Pomegranate Parfait

Instant Oats Yogurt and Pomegranate Parfait is a delicious dish for all age groups. After the days of indulgence during this festive season, now it is time to control your portion so that you can enjoy the coming festive season because festive season has just kicked off and will continue till the starting of the next year. Hence, I have come with a recipe of oats which is just perfect for you at this point of time.

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Instant Oats Yogurt Pomegranate parfait is an interesting oats recipe which you will love to make everyday. Parfait is a traditional frozen French dessert. Normally, it is made from a base of sugar syrup, egg and cream. However, in America the dessert is prepared by creating the layers using, cream, yogurt and varieties of fruits and granola and usually served in a glass. (Source: Wikipedia)

Instant Oats Yogurt and Pomegranate Parfait can be served as breakfast or dessert. It can also be consumed in between meals. This is a healthy and nutritious dish for any age groups. In pregnancy, woman feel hungry in between meals and that time this is the perfect quick dish to cook for them. Elderly person can control their portion of food as it is served in a small glass.




If your ingredients are ready you can prepare this oats recipe within 15 minutes. Try this recipe I am sure you are going to love it. When I prepared this oats yogurt parfait for the first time I was totally fallen in love with the taste. The best part are the pomegranate pearls which give an awesome taste and crunch to this parfait. If you are a fan of Overnight oats recipes then you will definitely love this quick oats parfait recipe. If you are a first-timer, then also you will be addictive to this instant oats yogurt and pomegranate parfait.

One more advantage of this recipe is you can prepare it in a glass bottle and close the lid and carry to your workplace along with a spoon and dig in at your convenient timing. Even you can keep the bottle in your office fridge and save for your 4 pm hunger pangs.

Here I am sharing few more oats recipes which you can try and share your feedback with me:

Overnight oats with banana dates and nuts
Oats and Poha Chivda 
Oats Tikki

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 2

Instant Oats Yogurt and Pomegranate Parfait 

Ingredients

Instant oats- 1/2 cup
Milk - 1/4 cup
Pomegranate pearls - 1/2 cup
Honey- 2 tablespoon
Yogurt -  1/2 cup, plain or flavoured
Banana - 2 small, sliced
Sugar - 1 teaspoon

Procedure
1. Take instant oats, sugar and milk and cook on stove pot for a few minutes or till it’s cooked well.
2. Allow it to cool for some time.
3. Next take small glass, it can be wine glass, dessert glass etc, add the oats as the first layer and spread it.
4. Add yogurt as the second layer.
5. Now add 1 tablespoon pomegranate pearls and 2 to 3 banana slices.
6. Now drizzle little honey over it.
7. Again repeat the layers of cooked oats, yogurt, pomegranate, sliced bananas and honey.
8. Breakfast in a glass is ready.



Kala Chana Chaat

Kala Chana Chaat is a healthy and filling chaat prepared using dried black chickpeas.

How many of you do not like chaats?

Am I asking some weird question? I think so.. Because chaats are popular street food of India. Across India you can find different varieties of chaat and each region has a special type of chaat. We have diversity in our culture but the truth is we all love chaats according to our taste buds. As I told you that chaats are street foods, hence you get some delicious chaats sold in road side stalls or food trucks. These days chaats have made their place in some of the big restaurants menu card.



Kala Chana Chaat is an easy recipe for your evening snack option. This is a no oil recipe, hence good for weight watchers. Instead of chaat you can treat it as salad too (don't add the bhujia sev in that case).
Black chickpeas have a range of health benefits and it helps in weight loss. It is also loaded with dietary fibre and lot of minerals including copper, iron and phosphorus. Chickpeas are good source of protein too. I think these many health benefits are enough to include kala chana into your diet. Here are some other recipes using dried black chickpeas: Kala Chana Curry,  Kala Chana Salad.

Other than that you can add handful of kala chana in Bengali style Pumpkin curry or Banana Blossom Mishmash (Mochar ghonto).

While traveling by train I have observed many vendors sell kala chana chaat in sub urban areas. Those chaats may not well dressed or prepared with lot of ingredients but they are tasty too. They just use boiled kala chana and add chopped onions (optional), chopped green chilli, salt, lime juice and chaat masala. What is your favourite recipe using kala chana / dried black chickpea?

If you decide to prepare the kala chana chaat, you need to plan a day ahead as it requires overnight soaking. If you are fond of this chaat and wants to have twice or thrice a week. You can soak a big batch of kala chana and after soaking overnight, clean and drain the water and store them in a box in refrigerator. Use the required quantity for next few days, however, you cannot store them longer as they turn into sprouts.

Here are some more healthy snacking options, please click the below recipe names to get the recipes:

Masala Corn
Assorted Papad Canapes

Preparation time: overnight/ 6 to 8 hours
Cooking Time: 15 to 20 minutes
Servings: 2

Kala Chana Chaat
Ingredients

Kala chana/ dried black chickpeas - 11/2 cup
Onion - 1 medium, chopped
Cucumber - 1 small, chopped
Tomato - 1 medium chopped
Green Chilli - 1 or 2, chopped
Chaat Masala - 1/2 teaspoon
Roasted Cumin Powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Lemon Juice - 2 teaspoon
Salt to taste
Black Salt - 1/2 teaspoon
Black Pepper Powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Bhujia Sev (fine quality) - 1/4 cup
Coriander Leaves - finely chopped, 2 tablespoon


Procedure
  1. Soak the kala chana / dried black chickpeas over night or at least for 6 to 8 hours.
  2.  Later drain the water and take them in a pressure cooker and add water to boil the chickpeas. Allow 4 to 5 whistles or until they are cooked well.
  3. Once the pressure releases, drain the water and allow them to cool.
  4. Now in a big size bowl take cooked chickpeas, chopped onion, cucumber, tomato and green chilli and mix them well. 
  5. Next add roasted cumin powder, black pepper powder, chaat masala, black salt and salt as per taste and give a good mix. 
  6. Now add chopped coriander and lemon juice and mix again. After that divide the chaat mixture in two plates and top them nicely with bhujia sev and serve.  

Sprouts Pulao

Sprouts are in my mind now! Since I have shared the post how to make sprouts at home, I am also experimenting with sprouts that how to include sprouts in our daily diet in the cooked form. Salads are the great way to incorporate sprouts in a healthy manner.

However, there are people who do not enjoy salads like I do, we should also think about themselves. Though you get the maximum benefit of sprouts when you eat them as salad, however in the cooked form also we get certain amount of nutrition which is helpful.



As an Indian point of view I was thinking how to include sprouts in our regular menu so that a larger population can keep it in their menu often and do not have to think fancy dishes to cook sprout at home. While cooking fancy dishes at times we think 'Oh that's a special dish needs lot of labour, will cook on a special day'. Ironically,  that special day either never comes or luckily comes once or twice in a year.

Dal, curry/sabji, rice are our (read Indian) staple food and if you skip them for one or two days we really feel something is missing from our life! My thought was to include sprouts in to our staple food and then I prepared sprouts curry. I got a very good response from my friends and they are eager to try it at home.

My today's post is sprouts pulao. Now I have added sprouts to the rice and our daughter relished this pulao. Sprouts pulao is an easy and quick one pot meal which you will love any day. You know my love for typical one pot meals. They are just perfect for our busy or lazy life.

Sprouts pulao is a very good lunch box option. Even when you don't have any veggies in your pantry but have some sprouts in the refrigerator you can quickly prepare a tasty meal. Here I have shared how to cook sprouts pulao and used the spices according to our taste buds. You can experiment according to your taste buds.

Once again I would love to know how do you use sprouts other than salads? Pour in suggestions and keep reading my blog and follow me through my social media handles (Instagram, Facebook) to get regular updates.

Some more pulao recipes here, click them to get the recipe:

Soya Pulao
Chicken Pulao
Bengali style Mitha Pulao

Preparation time: 10 to 15 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes
Servings: 2

Sprouts Pulao

Ingredients

Basmati Rice - 1 cup
Mixed Sprouts - 3/4 cup
Onion - 1 medium, finely chopped
Ginger Paste - 2 teaspoon
Turmeric Powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Salt to taste
Cumin Powder - 1 teaspoon
Coriander Powder - 1 teaspoon
Garam Masala Powder - 1/4 teaspoon
Red chilli powder - 1/4 teaspoon
Bay Leaf - 1
Cinnamon Stick - 1/2 inch
Green Cardamom - 1
Clove - 1
Ghee - 1 tablespoon
Refined oil - 1 to 2 tablespoon

Procedure

1. Wash and soak basmati rice for 15 to 20 minutes.
2. Heat ghee and oil together in a pan and add cinnamon stick, cardamom, bay leaf and clove.
3. After few minutes, add chopped onion into it and start sautéing until they are translucent.
4. Next add ginger paste, followed by all the dry spices including coriander powder, cumin powder, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and garam masala powder. Give a good stir. Add salt to taste.
5. If spices are getting burnt, you can add little water add this point.
6. Next add mixed sprouts and mix well with spices slowly.
7. After that add soak rice and give a good mix.
8. Now it's time to add required water (almost double the amount of rice). I added 21/2 cup of water and check the seasoning.
9. Close the pan with a lid and cook under medium flame.
10 . When the water is almost dried and top of the rice you can see small holes, switch off the gas and give a standing time of 10 minutes. Later serve with curd or raita.







Baby Corn Fritters / Baby Corn Pakoda

Baby corn fritters or Baby Corn Pakoda are crispy and crunchy snack which can accompany your evening tea or coffee. I was not familiar with baby corn in my childhood as our daughter is! The reason behind this may be the globalization has not started back then and top of that we were not in the era of digitalization.

Information was not at all handy at that time! However, we knew about corn (jake amra boli 'Bhutta') and roasted corn of the cobs was one of our favourite snack. We didn't know about boiled sweet corn with the choice of multiple flavours.

I first came to know about baby corn in Chennai I think during my college days. I had them in couple of Chinese restaurants. And much later I started using in my cooking when I was in Goa for my job.


No I never made a fancy dish out of baby corn at that time because I had no clue how to prepare it and moreover I had no time for experimenting. Those days my one pot meal khichdi saved my days in the morning. Cut all the veggies add it to rice and lentil add on spices and whistle in the pressure cooker. Serve myself with a dollop of ghee and then just walk through the lanes behind the Panjim church and catch the 8:35 am bus. Nostalgic!

I used to add baby corn in to dal and it satisfied my taste buds. I rarely buy baby corn in my house as no one prefers it much. Since the little one is a foodie and loves to experiment and taste different foods (just like me, my traits 😉) one day she picked up the baby corn packet from the vegetable shop and said how cute those veggies are, Mumma can we take them home?. I was like why not and out those baby corns I made these fritters. Before heading to the recipe let's learn few things about baby corn which I was going through while drafting this post.

What is Baby Corn?
The scientific name of baby corn is Zea mays L. and it is a famous vegetable in Asia. Baby corn can be consumed raw or cooked and it is sweet in taste.

What is the difference between corn and baby corn?
Baby corn is also a cob of maize however, it is harvested at an early stage when the stalks are small and immature. Baby corn ears are small in size and ranges from 4.5 to 10 cm. They are hand picked immediately after the emergence of the corn silks from the ear tips or a few days later.

What are the health benefits of baby corn?
According to a research the baby corn is rich in nutrient which includes protein, dry matter, vitamin A and vitamin C. It has 0% fat and also has other vitamins and minerals. It does not have fat and low in carbs hence this is good for weight loss.

Use and production of Baby corn
 Baby corn is widely used in Asian dishes especially in Thai and Chinese cuisine. Baby corn is largely produced in Thailand, Taiwan and Indonesia. However, fresh baby corn is not available in U.S. and you can get the canned variety.

Let's check out the recipe of baby corn fritters. Do you eat baby corns? If yes how do you use them. Though I get them rarely but I do add in fried rice or noodles and baby corn adds and extra crunch and sweetness to the dish.

Baby Corn Fritters / Baby Corn Pakoda

Ingredients
Baby Corn - 1 cup, vertically cut the into two pieces
Maida/All Purpose Flour - 1 cup + for dusting
Corn Flour - 1/4 cup
Salt to taste
Red Chilli Powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Baking Soda - a pinch
Garlic Paste - 1/2 teaspoon
Black Salt - 1/2 teaspoon
Chaat masala Powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Refined oil - 2 to 3 cups for deep frying


Procedure
1. Take the baby corns, wash them and pat dry and vertically cut them in to halves and keep aside.
2. Now take maida, corn flour, salt, red chilli powder, garlic paste and add a pinch of soda to make a smooth batter with addition of required batter. Batter should not be runny or too thick.
3. Heat oil in a wok/pan and add a teaspoon of hot oil into the batter and mix it well.
4. Dust the baby corn in refined flour and dip in the batter and deep fry in hot oil under medium flame until it is golden in colour.
5. Take them out in a kitchen towel to soak the excess oil and sprinkle black salt and chaat masala on top and serve with tea/coffee or ketchup/chutney.


Sprouts Curry / Sprouts Sabzi

Sprouts curry or Sprouts sabzi is an easy and tasty side dish to go with roti or paratha. You can also pair sprouts curry with rice. In my last post I have shared How to make sprouts at home?, did you check it?
I have prepared mixed sprouts curry and my mixed sprouts contain green moong, moth bean and horsegram. You can replicate the same recipe using your choice of sprouts. It could be a single variety like moong sprout or it could be mix of 2 or 3 sprouts.

You can prepare the sprouts curry in two ways. Here I have mixed all the masalas and later added the sprouts and altogether I have cooked in pressure cooker. However, you can do other way.



Alternatively, you can boil the sprouts in pressure cooker and add them to your cooked spices. Either way will not make any change to the taste of the curry.

My better half does not prefer lot of healthy stuff😐. I meant to say he does not prefer to eat raw sprouts which me and daughter like in the form of simple chaat.

I do not make an elaborate sprout chaat normally. I wash the sprouts and add some chopped onions, sprinkle black salt and pepper powder and squeeze some lemon on top. Tadaa! Our quick sprout chaat is ready. I will make a separate blog post on sprout chaat which is famous these days.

I knew sprouts curry would be hit at my house as He relish dal, lentils and legumes with roti, paratha or naan. Do you have similar family members at your home too? Then here is some recipes with lentils and legumes, check them out.

Dal Musallam
Dal Palak
Dal Fry
Lauki Chana Dal

Sprouts Sabzi is a good side dish however, you can just have a bowl of sprouts curry topped with chopped onion, green chilli, coriander leaves in lunch or dinner just the way we Bengalis have a bowl of ghugni.

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Servings: 2

Sprouts Curry / Sprouts Sabzi 

Ingredients
Sprouts - 1 cup (I used Mixed Sprouts)
Onion - 1 medium, chopped
Ginger Paste - 1 teaspoon
Garlic - 3 to 4 pods, crushed
Turmeric Powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Red Chilli Powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Cumin Powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Coriander Powder - 1 teaspoon
Green Chilli - 1 or 2
Tomato - 1 small, chopped
Salt to taste
Cinnamon stick - 1/2 inch
Refined oil - 2 to 3 tablespoon

 Procedure

1. Take a cup of sprout and wash well and keep aside.
2. Heat oil in a pan and add cinnamon stick.
3. Next add crushed garlic when they turn slight golden, add onions and keep them sautéing until they are translucent.
4. After that add ginger paste and mix well.
5. Next goes all the dry spices including turmeric powder, red chilli powder, cumin powder, coriander powder and mix well.
6. The spices should not get burnt hence you can add 1 or 2 tablespoon of water.
7. Next add chopped tomato and green chilli and cook until the tomatoes are well cooked.
8. At this moment add the sprouts and mix well with all the spices.
9. Now add 11/2 cup of water and pour it in a pressure cooker, check the seasoning,  close the lid and allow 3 to 4 whistles or until the sprouts are soft.
10. Once the pressure releases pour the curry in a vessel and serve with roti or paratha.




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