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Tangy vegetable medley August 16, 2008

Posted by live2cook in Sauces and Gravies, slow cooker recipes.
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8 comments

Have you heard about “Middle child Syndrome”?

I am a middle child among the three of us. I used to have this “ignored child” feeling through out growing up or at least used it to grab my parents’ attention. My mom used to find ways to satisfy me and to make me feel special. She used to buy small gifts, cute dresses and on top of all these used to cook my favorite meals at least thrice a week. But I never came down from my philosophy that “It is always bad to be in the middle”. Nothing could influence me to give up on my belief.

But, an incident really got me and made me to rethink about my belief. I joined a job that was 40 miles away from home and I had to drive to work. The first storm of the season hit New England. It was nearly 18 inches of snow. That was the first time that I had to drive back home at the peak of a storm and on a highway. I was quite scared and my manager who was an elderly and kind person, gave me an advice. He said, “You know what kid, try to get to the middle lane and keep maintaining it. It is always good to be in the middle”. I understood the truth in his words. Not just on the road but in my life too.

With first child, parents are always anxious and worried about everything. But when it comes to next child in the row, they know what to expect and how to handle the unexpected. Though it sounded like ignorance, it wasn’t. The experience they got from the first child helps them to find solutions easier and faster. Actually , I was lucky to be in the middle that I got the right things at the right time. We might think that the third child is even more luckier. Yes! They are luckier to get more experienced parents. But if the age gap is wider between the children, then the development occurred within those years leave the parents yet again with anxiety and worries.

When I decided to write about my favorite curries that my mom used to make specially for me, the recipe for Thalagam stood first with a hidden meaning. It showed that it is in the middle too. Though it has tamarind, dhal and spices like sambar, it wasn’t one. Though it has mixed vegetable like other stews, it wasn’t one either. It is in the middle of a sambar and a stew that it can be accompanied with cooked rice or flat breads.

Yes! IT IS ALWAYS GOOD TO BE IN THE MIDDLE!

I prepared this medley in the slow cooker and it really enhanced the flavor.

Ingredients:

2 Cups mixed vegetables (Beans, carrot, potato, peas, squash)**, Chopped or cut lengthwise
1/2 Cup Toor dhal
Lime sized ball of tamarind
3 Tbsp Shredded Coconut
2 tsp Coriander seeds
2 tsp Chana dhal
1 tsp Urad dhal
1 tsp Sesame seeds
1 tsp uncooked rice
2-3 Red chillies
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 Pinch asafetida
1 Pinch turmeric powder
2-3 Curry leaves
2 tsp oil
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ghee

** Though we can use any kind of vegetable, those that has an earthy flavor will enhance the taste of this medley. Please try to include any one or two of these – Snap peas, Lab lab beans, Yam (Suran), Sweet potato, plantain

Method:

1. Soak the dhal in hot water for 1/2 hour. Drain the water and set aside.
2. Soak the tamarind in 1 cup water until soft. Mash well and extract the water. Discard the pulp.
3. Heat 1 tsp oil in a medium sauce pan. Add the coriander seeds, chana dhal, urad dhal, sesame seeds, rice and red chillies. Fry until the dhals turn golden brown. Grind to a coarse powder.
( Though we can add the coconut too, I avoid it because of the slow cooking)
4. Mix the spice mixture and salt with the tamarind extract. Set aside.
5. Heat the other tsp oil and add mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, asafetida, turmeric powder and curry leaves. Allow the mustard seeds to splutter. Remove from heat and add to the tamarind mixture.
6. In the pot of the slow cooker, add the dhal first and layer the vegetable in way that the ones that takes time to cook are in the bottom.
7. Pour the tamarind mixture on top of the vegetables. Cover the slow cooker and cook for 8 hours in low or overnight.
8. Heat the ghee in a small pan. Add the coconut and toast until golden brown. Add to the cooked medley and mix well.

Slow cooked Thalagam

Slow cooked Thalagam

** There was no need for thickening the medley with the given proportion. But if it is too runny for your taste, add a mixture of flour and water and cook for 10 more minutes in high.

Serve with cooked rice or Roti. This is my entry for the Curry Mela event hosted by Srivalli

Thalagam served

Thalagam served

Campfire bread of India – Bafla August 12, 2008

Posted by live2cook in Oven baked Breads and Rolls, slow cooker recipes, What we call it....
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23 comments

If you had asked me about grilling or barbecue a few years ago, I would have blinked. I had no clue about these cooking methods. Though we used to cook sweet corn and sweet potato on open fire, our cooking methods mostly included steaming, boiling or pressure cooking. I came to know about the concepts of grilling and barbecue, only after coming to US. I observed people cooking in open fire or charcoal grills in the common patio of our apartment complex. It was my first summer in US and I had no craze for hanging out in the sun. As I was from a country where the weather was always hot, hanging out in the sun sounded funny.

But, over the years I started to long for summer days because of Boston’s freezing winters. I felt like we were forced to be indoors for at least 3/4 days of a year and summer seemed to be the time we were freed. We enjoyed the summer along with our friends and potluck parties. During those parties, we all talk about arranging a barbecue. After shortlisting the likes and dislikes of the friends, the only thing that was left was sweet corn. Eventually, we would drop the idea as there was not much options for vegetarians. This lead me to look for recipes that are fun to make in a grill or open fire. Those recipes should meet the palates of our friends, should be filling and a meal by itself.

Bafla is one such recipe that yielded itself to these needs. It is a bread from Rajasthan region of India. These are soft and chewy and are delicious with a simple dhal or curry. These are non leavened breads, that is, no yeast or fermentation needed. But, I added some leftover sourdough starter from my weekly baking. The sourdough added nice sour flavor and made it more softer.

Ingredients:

For the bread:
2 Cups whole wheat flour
1/2 Cup sourdough starter (optional)
4 Tbsp oil
1 tsp salt
water for kneading

For the Dhal:
2 Cups mung dhal
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 tsp salt
2-3 green chilies, chopped
1 Bay leaf
1/2 tsp of Dabeli masala or other
2 1/2 Cups water
Cilantro and curry leaves for garnish
Juice of 1 lime

Method:

1. Mix the ingredients for the dough and knead it into a stiff dough. Allow to rest for 30 minutes.
2. Shape into lime size balls and set aside.
3. Put all the ingredients for dhal in a large pot and bring to a boil.
4. When the water for the dhal starts boiling, drop the dough balls.
5. Cook until the dough floats to the surface. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
6. Cook the dhal until done and mash it. (I transfered it to a slow cooker and cooked for 3 hours in high)

Dhal to serve with bafla

Dhal to serve with bafla


7. Set the boiled dough in a grill and cook until the outside is browned a little bit.

Bafla in an indoor grill

Bafla in an indoor grill


8. Break bafla into pieces and set in a bowl. Pour dhal over it and serve hot

Bafla served

Bafla served

We can cook both the dhal and bafla in outdoor grill. This is my entry for Meeta’s Monthly Mingle event hosted by Sig with the theme “Grill it”. I am sending this to Susan’s yeast spotting event too.