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Posts Tagged ‘lentils’

Today I’m continuing my series on lentil-based meals for kids. This recipe for a one-pot, rice and lentils dish (aka khichdi) is super easy, takes about 20 minutes from start to finish if you use the pressure cooker, and makes for a wholesome, balanced meal. Khichdi or khichri is a mixture of rice and lentils with a few spices, with or without vegetables thrown in. Here’s a wonderful little post on khichdi from One Hot Stove, one of my favorite food blogs.

Although khichdi is a ubiquitous dish found in almost every desi home, each family has their own way of making it. So the possibilities are endless. This particular recipe comes from my dear friend Ayesha’s mom, one of the original ‘super-cooks’ that continue to inspire me.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup white rice (I use basmati, available in all grocery stores)
  • ½ cup moong dal (you can easily substitute with split moong dal or masoor dal)
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic paste (available in the Asian section of all major grocery stores) you can easily substitute with 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ginger paste (available in the Asian section of all major grocery stores) substitute with 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 green cardamom pod
  • Salt to taste
  • ½ tbsp oil or clarified butter (ghee) *

Method

  1. Mix the rice and moong dal in a bowl and rinse with water. Drain all the water and keep aside.
  2. Heat the oil or ghee in a thick bottomed pan or pressure cooker on medium high for about 2 minutes. Test the temperature of the oil by throwing in 1 or 2 cumin seeds. If they rise to the surface immediately with tiny bubbles forming around them, the oil is ready. If they just lie there, you need to wait a few seconds.
  3. When you’re sure the oil is hot enough, throw in the cumin seeds, the cloves, and the cardamom pod. Tiny bubbles should form around all the spices, and the cumin seeds and the cardamom pod will change color quickly, becoming a light golden brown. Be careful about popping spices at this point, especially the cloves.
  4. Now reduce the heat to medium (so that the spices don’t burn), and add the chopped onions. Fry the onions for a few minutes until they become translucent and then add the ginger and garlic paste. Fry for 2 more minutes, until the ginger and garlic turns a light golden brown.
  5. Add the rice and dal to the pan, and fry for a minute, mixing well with the spices.

If using pressure cooker,use following instructions:

  1. Add 2 cups of water, salt to taste, and pressure cook for 2 whistles. Then reduce heat to low and cook for 10 minutes.
  2. Make sure the cooker has cooled, and all the steam has been released before opening it. Your khichdi is ready to be eaten with ghee or yoghurt.

If using saucepan, use following instructions:

  1. Add 2 cups of water, salt to taste and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat, cover and cook until all the water has evaporated and the rice and lentils are soft enough to mash.

Variations:

  1. For infants, you might need to add some water and blend for a pureed consistency.
  2. For toddlers, you can just mash the khichdi with a spoon before feeding. This is easily done as the rice and lentils become very soft in the pressure cooker.
  3. You can add chopped vegetables such as cauliflower, peas, carrots and potatoes just before you add the rice. Fry the vegetables for a minute, then add the rice, mix well, add water and cook as above.

*Ghee lends a delightful, buttery, aromatic flavor to the khichdi. It is available in Indian stores.

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This post is going to be the first of a series on ‘protein packed’ meals.The protein of choice for today’s recipe is lentils. Now the humble lentil does not get too much attention, especially in the minds of all the omnivores out there, but it is a crucial source of protein for vegetarians. In fact, a bowl of lentil soup forms an important part of a vegetarian desi diet.

There are dozens of lentil varieties and moong or mung is one of the most popular ones that you will always find  in a desi pantry. It comes in three varieties – today’s pancake recipe calls for the split yellow version. It is  pale yellow in color and available in the Asian section of all major grocery stores. It’s also easy to digest which makes it an ideal choice for little tummies. So for those of you who are looking to include protein in your kids’ meals but would like an (occasional) alternative to meat, lentils are a great option.

However, for most of us with young kids, an image of a pre-schooler slurping down a bowls of lentil is not one that comes to the mind easily. But ground lentils in the form of a thin, crispy pancake are irresistible. And this recipe is not complicated at all. All you need to do is soak the moong in advance (even as little as 30 minutes will do).  Once soaked, it’s a breeze to grind it into a paste, add a dash of spice like cumin or a hint of ground black pepper, and then just cook it as you would pancakes on a skillet or a pan. It’s a great one-dish dinner or even a weekend breakfast.

This recipe for Moong Pancakes comes from my good friend, Rashmi, one of the most innovative, creative and enthusiastic cooks I know. She has two boys under the age of 5, and somehow manages to stay on top of a demanding job, feed a busy family with super- healthy, home-cooked meals, exercise regularly, and have an active social life, with seemingly endless reserves of energy. While I can’t juggle even two of the above, Rashmi has always been my inspiration to cook daily, rather than eating out. It doesn’t hurt that she’s constantly sharing her recipes with me. Not only does she often send me home with boxes of home-cooked goodies from her kitchen but she often also includes little Zip-locks filled with ingredients from her pantry or her fridge to save me a trip to the store.

So here’s the recipe for Rashmi’s Moong Dosas* (Pancakes):

Makes about 12-15 dosas

2 cups of yellow moong dal
1 – 1.5 cups of water
2-3 teaspoons of salt(to taste)
2 teaspoons of cumin seeds
1 green chilli(optional). Can be substituted with some black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

2 teaspoons of oil (Rashmi uses light olive oil) but any light oil will work.

Directions:

1. Wash and soak the dal for at least 30 minutes in warm water.
2. Grind all the ingredients to a smooth paste (pancake batter consistency) in a food processor or a blender. You might need to adjust the water to achieve the right consistency.
3. Once your batter is ready, warm a non-stick pan, a cast iron skillet, or a pancake griddle on medium high. It is not neecessary to grease the surface.
4. Take half a cup of batter at a time and pour on the warm, non-greased pan. Using the bottom of a ladle, spread the batter in concentric circles until you get a thin pancake about 6-8 inches in diameter. The thinner you spread the batter, the crispier the dosa. It’s important to move quickly for this step, before the batter starts cooking.
5. Add a few drops of oil just around the edge of the dosa. This will make the edges crisp and yummy. Let the dosa cook for a couple of minutes.

6. Flip the dosa when it releases easily from all the edges and cook the other side for a couple of minutes.
7.  You can serve these warm with a variety of accompaniments, some of which I’ll address in future posts. But Rashmi’s kids love them with ketchup 🙂

As a variation, you can also use split green moong dal here. The green moong dal needs a longer soak time. I would soak them overnight.
You can also add finely chopped onions, tomatoes and spinach to  the batter, which will make great ‘adult’ versions of the dosa.

*Dosas are crepes or thin pancakes that are typically made with rice and black lentils. In a traditional dosa, the rice and lentils are fermented, and the mixture is ground into a batter. Today’s moong dosa is a variation on the traditional dosa.

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