Food Diaries | DALS THE WAY TO GO … 3 Quick Dal Recipes Made With Less Water

“If you take more of your protein from vegetable or plant-based foods, good studies have shown that you will live longer.”
Professor Jeya Henry

Dals, 3 Quick Dal Recipes Made With Less WaterThe pure comfort of that bowl of dal, the nostalgia engulfs me each time I smell the aroma of onions being fried in clarified butter. Such is the power of food, and in my opinion, these protein rich dals / lentils offer deep deep comfort in every bowl. The humble khichadi is the meal on the go at our place, with dollops of home made yogurt and kumquat green chilli pickle. Did I forget a liberal drizzle of ghee? Yes please!

DalsLiving in India, dal was synonymous with meals when we grew up. From the bowl that I loved, to many that I didn’t, the dal journey has come a long way. There was dal served on the many long train journeys from Delhi to Bangalore as we were growing up, to diluted iquidy dals served in the Officers Mess where we dined often. There was the piquant luxurious ambi wali dal in UP during the summer. Working at the airport in the late 1980’s saw many a midnight meal after flight departures at dhabas that dotted the vicinity. Nothing could beat the comfort of that dhaba dal with the fresh tandoori roti. Pure magic. As always, dhabas in India never disappoint.

Dals From the dhaba to Bukhara, as small bowl of Dal Bukhara and there is born another memory. This one is a truly indulgent dal, one which is a  tradition in itself, a dal simmered over slow coal fires all night long, a world renowned dal. My memories of this dal go back to the late 80’s and early 90’s … the taste lingers on.

DalsThat’s the power of food, and the power of dal. Yet another dal milestone came by way of home science in school. We mastered the Moong Dal with Spinach, and post marriage this was the only dal I cooked, day in and day out. It’s the only one I was confident about. I am sure the house was FED UP with my lack of creativity but no one said a word. The only other alternative I offered was Moong Masoor Dal, a quick 5 minute dal that my mother often made. I still make that a lot. I love the flavours. A tadka of zeera, garlic and hari mirch complete it.

DalsNow my dal repertoire has grown with many years of food blogging and traveling across India. I love the pure comfort of dals from Uttar Pradesh to the genius use of dals down south. Every part of India celebrates this macro nutrient or power house of protein in their own special way. From a finger licking good haleem, to a Parsi dhansak, to moong dal dhoklas and cheelas, the more you indulge in this cheapest form of protein the better. Dress it up, sizzle it, grind it to perfection, simmer it to luxury, or soak it into a salad, DALS THE WAY TO GO!

DalsTo mark World Water Day, I’m here with Tata I-Shakti dals to serve you three easy dal recipes that require minimum water to wash since they are unpolished. They cook faster too. The recipes use very little water in ingredients. One simple salad inspired by a typical Koshambri a dear friend made a few months ago, though his was with carrots, radish and peanuts. DAL 3 ways with Tata I-ShaktiThe bhune masale wali masoor dal is an old UP favourite which has been stepped up using seasonal greens, rocket in this case, as I have it growing in abundance. The peppery leaves add interesting flavour to it, and reduces the requirement for extra water. The third is a really quick coconut based dal chutney that I learnt when I was in Bangalore recently.

DalsAll these recipes are dal based, so naturally protein and fibre rich. With their high fibre content, pulses lower cholesterol levels and protect the heart. They are also an important source of iron and vitamin B in a vegetarian diet.  Pulses are typically low in fat, contain no cholesterol, and are high in folate, potassium, iron and magnesium. They also contain beneficial fats and soluble and insoluble fibre. According to the World Health Organisation, dals are a healthy substitute for meat, which has more fat and cholesterol.

DalsDo you have a favourite way of doing dal? I’d love to know.

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Travelogue | Pune on my mind … another trip down memory lane

“Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.”
Anita Desai

Pune DiariesThe sweet Cookaroo stopped by the other day to meet Coco, our little cocker spaniel. She carried some Misal Pav with her. Misal Pav is a traditional Maharashtrian dish usually made with sprouted moong dal/lentils, served with a local bread, pav. Like a blast from the past, the flavours took me back to a visit to Pune a couple of years ago. We were a bunch of food bloggers en route to Baramati invited to visit the Four Seasons Winery. That trip was special as we hit it off well. A common factor tied us together… food! Wine too actually.

Four Seasons Vineyards, Baramati, Pune, India With a burgeoning number of affordable hotels in Pune, it’s worth a visit especially if you go in season. Also known as the Queen of the Deccan or Oxford of the East, the cultural capital of Maharashtra offers you a glimpse into a different side of India. For me, the old world charm tempts me to go back. It’s a city I’ve been to a few times, the first visit almost 5 years ago. At the time, Pune was awakening to the IT scene, and change was noticeable.

Pune DiariesIt was a visible energetic young IT crowd versus the retired services crowd that chose Pune as the destination for their sunset years. Zippy cars wrestled for road space with vintage fiats, heralds and ambassadors, old Parsi couples strolled with oblivion as chatty groups of youngsters raced by queuing up for the seasons fresh Alphonso ice cream. The city embraced the past with ease as it marched into the promising future.

Pune DiariesPune is now both a holiday destination and a bustling business hub. For me as a tourist, the old world charm still rules. A stopover at the Mall Road is a must. It is fascinating to see the old Badhani Waferwala still holding fort with glitzy cafes springing up around. Cheese & Widow Wafers sell as much as burgers and pizzas!

Four Seasons Vineyards, Baramati, Pune, India As times have gone by, the city has grown. So have hotel options including several affordable budget hotels in Pune. It is amazing to see the variety of properties you can choose from these days from 3 star hotels in Pune to high end properties and resorts. The city has them all!

Dabeli, Pune DiariesFor a foodie, Pune offers some of the most fun food, especially street food. That brings me to Misal Pav. Bedekar Tea Stall is famous for its Misal Pav and is quite a star attraction. If you are even more adventurous, then do try some ‘real’ street food too, quite literally off the street!. The sweet lady in her make shift cart pampered us with goodness. She made us the most yummiest Vada Pavs ever, so typical of this region.

Pune Diaries Pune is quite warm during the day. We guzzled down loads of fresh coconut water. Few steps down the road, and cartloads of summer fruit greeted us … strawberries, mulberries, fresh figs and more. We bought them by the kilos the day we were due to fly back home. It is near impossible to find such luscious gorgeous fruit back in the plains of North India!

Pune DiariesWill quickly touch on a few spots around Pune which were memorable. The Turf Club for its nostalgic ambiance, a legacy that the British left behind. And as I mentioned earlier, a quick trot up and down the Mall Road of course. I discovered a small shop tucked away in a corner selling vintage collectibles! My spoon collection took wings!!

Shinde Chhatri, Pune DiariesAnother beautiful spot to stop by is the Shinde Chhatri, a memorial dedicated to the 18th century military leader Mahadji Shinde of the Maratha army under the Peshwas from 1760 to 1780. With exquisite architecture and intricate carvings, it is one of the most significant landmarks in the city reminiscent of the Maratha rule.

Four Seasons Vineyards, Baramati, Pune, India And if you have a couple of extra days, might I suggest a day trip or so to the vineyards that surround outer Pune? We visited the Four Seasons Winery in Baramati and it was a fantastic experience. Just one look at the images and you know the promise a visit to the winery holds!

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Baking | Coffee Dark Chocolate Roulade … for when March rolled in #coffee #dessert #‎KitchenAidProBaker2015‬

“When you celebrate, there is sure to be cake.”
Florence Ditlow

Coffee Dark Chocolate Roulade Coffee Dark Chocolate Roulade … that’s what I made because I was craving coffee in cake. It’s been a while since I did coffee in a dessert. Roulade or Swiss Roll also because a load of my friends have been making them of late, and yes, I got tempted. First it was Himanshu, then Ruchira. Yesterday, I sauntered into the kitchen with no specific plan in mind, and this is what I came up with. Was yum! Hit the right coffee spot!

KitchenAid Inida Probaker 2015Just a short while ago, I got an email confirming that I made it to KitchenAid India’s Probaker challenge, one of top 50 Indian home bakers. It’s going to be a fun challenge, and for me, hopefully will give me more creative exposure. Will be baking with friends, and cannot wait to see how differently ‘baking minds‘ think when presented with similar ingredients. ‘Marching‘ ahead in anticipation!

Spring I love this month. Come March, and there is inspiration galore. The weather fills you with energy, the air is nice and crisp, new blades of grass, ladybugs, flowers… so much INSPIRATION! There’s also something terribly inspiring about a cake that rolls. It’s a whole lot of fun too! My recipe for a V E R Y simple roulade lives in my head. I’ve made it with variations for years. 3 eggs, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup flour. Quick, simple, fun!

Coffee Dark Chocolate Roulade

A roulade is a dish of filled rolled meat or pastry. Traditionally found in various European cuisines, the term roulade originates from the French word “rouler”, meaning “to roll”. Some roulades consist of cake (often sponge cake) baked in a flat pan rolled around a filling. Cake rolled around jam, chocolate butter cream, nuts or other fillings, is an example of a sweet roulade like the bejgli or the Swiss roll. The bûche de Noël or “Yule log” is a traditional French Christmas cake roll, often decorated with frosting made to look like bark.

I find it comforting that everything sits snug inside a cake. It’s a funny way to look at it, but nice. One of my most memorable ones was a savoury Ricotta & Spinach Roulade from Ottolenghi. That was special and carried trademark Ottolenghi flavours and philosophy. Fresh, seasonal, simple. And then another, the Raspberry Pistachio Swiss Roll {or Spring Roll to herald in Spring one year!}

GF Mango Almond Quark Roulade I’ve done a couple of gluten free ones as well. Those I loved heaps! A GF Mango Almond Quark Roulade and a GF Strawberry Almond Roulade. I also like that you can customise them to moods and ingredients on hand. So Spring often sees loads of strawberry flecked roulades, while summer will definitely see a mango and cream. Oh and summer will also see an ice cream roulade. That is even more fun!

Coffee Dark Chocolate Roulade This one went the  coffee way. I prettied it a lil too as everything came together really quick which meant extra time. I had forgotten how soon these come together. With March still quite cold, the bake cooled a lot faster too. So I saved some ganache in a piping bag and did some free hand doodling over the roll. Wasn’t sure if the contrast would work, but I think I did OK. It looked pretty, subtle but pretty!

Barnis {Indian Pickling Jars}Oh and before I go, did I show you the very sweet Barnis {Indian Pickling jars} I got in the mail 2 days ago? My dear and very talented food blogger/food stylist friend Sanjeeta mailed them from Chennai. It was love at first sight. I couldn’t resist filling one with coffee beans and sneaking them into the frame!

Coffee Dark Chocolate Roulade

You can find loads of COFFEE in my desserts here. That’s my most favourite flavour ever!

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