Shital's-Kitchen

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Panch Dhaan Khichdi

Whether it is Uttarayan in Gujarat,  Lohri is Punjab, Makar Sankranti in Maharashtra and Kanataka, Pongal in Tamil Nadu, it is the harvest festival everywhere. It is the celebration of sunlight and sunshine which will bring spring and summer seasons and keep the crop cycle alive.

I recently found that each culture has their way of celebrating and preparing a rice dish for this festival.  Like pongal is a rice dish for the Southern India, people in Gujarat make Khichdo or Khichdi. This is the combination of rice with various beans and veggies and cooked in a clay pot.

This recipe today is an attempt to make this nutritious, gluten-free, khichdi perfect for cold and rainy weather in San Jose. We love our khichdi with chaash or yogurt preparation. Panch Dhan means 5 grains. This Khichdi contains 5 grain and other veggies to make it nutrient rich with protein, carbs, vitamins, fiber. Don't get intimidated by the ingredient list. These are easy ingredients mostly found in every Indian home.

Ingredients (serves 3-4 people)
1 cup rice
1/4 cup yellow moong dal
1/4 cup green moong dal
1/4 cup toor dal
1/4 cup chana dal
3 tbsp ghee or oil
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1/4 tsp. mustard seeds
1 inch ginger minced
4-5 cloves garlic minced
2 chopped green chillies
1 cup sliced onions
8-10 baby potatoes
2 chopped tomatoes
1 cup green peas
1 cup cauliflower florets
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. turmeric powder
2 tsp. chilli powder
1 tbsp. garam masala
5 cups water

Method
  • Wash all grains well and soak 3 cups water for 20 minutes.
  • In a clay pot or heavy bottom pan heat ghee or oil. Fry cumin and mustard seeds till they crackle.
  • Fry minced ginger, garlic, and green chillies.
  • Saute sliced onions till they turn pink.
  • Add other veggies and mix well.
  • Add soaked grains.
  • Add salt and spices.
  • Mix well.
  • Add 7 cups water
  • Cover and cook for 30-40 minutes occasionally mixing it.
  • Add more water if needed.
  • Turn of the heat and keep it covered for 10 minutes.
  • Garnish with cilantro.
  • Serve with chaash and papad.
  • Enjoy!


Here is step-by-step pictorial recipe:




In a clay pot or heavy bottom pan heat ghee or oil.

Fry cumin and mustard seeds till they crackle. Fry minced ginger, garlic, and green chillies.

Saute sliced onions till they turn pink.

Add other veggies and mix well.



Add soaked grains.

Add salt and spices.
Mix well.



Add 5 cups water

Cover and cook for 30-40 minutes occasionally mixing it.
Turn of the heat and keep it covered for 10 minutes



Garnish with cilantro.



Enjoy Healthy Khichdi!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Til Chikki

It is normally in winters and close to Sankranti that Til Chikki and Til ladoos become popular. There is a tradition of gifting Til or Sesame seeds during this season. And for every tradition there is science associated. Til and Gud being rich is calcium, fiber, and other nutrients are perfect for this season season. As the Marathi saying, "Til Gud Gya, ani Gud Gud Bola" which means take some Til Gud and recite as sweet as this Gud /jaggery which also is the symbol of Healthy Life!!

We have learned about Uttarayana (winter solstice) and Dakshinayana (summer solstice) in Geography class at school. I remember our Geography teacher bringing in the globe to show Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn and the movement of the Earth along the axis. This is the time when rays of the sun and climate is favorable for people to come out of their house. Infact it is beneficial, and my dad would encourage us to be on the terrace to fly kites. Kite flying is the big festival in Gujarat and even though we are from Mumbai, we celebrate it with the same enthusiasm. Uttarayana kite festival was a get together time at home. With delicious feast for lunch and pani puri  in the evening and enjoying various chikkis while flying kite. Since the time my sister and I were little, we would tie Kanni (adjoining thread to the kite). At first we would hold phirki while papa would help load the kite in the wind and then we would get to hold it. We had to really be careful with the thread. The professional kite flying thread or Manja is a thread which is spun with glass pieces, as a result it makes it strong but dangerous if the person is not careful. The spouse usually holds the spool of thread which is called phirki... she has the duty not just to hold the spool correctly but to release the tread at the right time while the husband guides the kite protecting it against enemy kites. A wonderful symbolization of the relationship isn't it?

Here is the video of a Bollywood song which describes the fun, enthusiasm, and battle of 
kite flying festival. This is my favorite for this festival.

So while we are in the mood to celebrate the season, it is time to make some Til Chikki or Sesame brittle. It just takes around 10 minutes for this deliciously nutritious recipe. I have used organic gur/jaggery which is free from additives and chemicals. Natural jaggery is dark in color and unpleasant. To make it appealing and beautiful golden yellow in color, chemicals such as Sulphur are used. Although it is permitted in a certain amount, it is not certain that the industries in India do use the restricted amount of it. So I wanted to try 24 Mantra organic gur/jaggery powder that I found at the Indian store. I am not paid to write about it neither did I receive a sample of it to write about. This is a powdered jaggery which saved my time to cut the big lumps into smaller pieces. Also the dark color jaggery means it is dark chikki. We love the taste and flavor and I will surely buy it again for the next batch.

Ingredients
1 cup sesame seeds
1 cup jaggery powder
1 tsp. ghee
  • Dry roast sesame seeds in a heavy bottom pan till they turn nice and warm. Do not overdo it as it might change the taste.
  • Remove on a plate.
  • In a same pan heat ghee and jaggery powder till it melts completely.
  • Add roasted sesame seeds.
  • Turn off the heat and mix the seeds in well.
  • Transfer the mixture on silicon mat or greased surface and roll with a greased rolling pin. I like to make it nice a thin. My chikki is around 3-4 mm thick.
  • Using a sharp knife cut into square pieces. I like in rustic like a brittle so i just broke in into different shaped when it cooled.
  • Store in air tight container and enjoy the healthy snack.

Here is step-y-step pictorial recipe:
Dry roast sesame seeds in a heavy bottom pan till they turn nice and warm. Do not overdo it as it might change the taste.
Remove on a plate.


In a same pan heat ghee and jaggery powder till it melts completely.



Add a drop of melted gur into a bowl of water. It should be hard as a rock on cooling.

Add roasted sesame seeds.
Turn off the heat and mix the seeds in well.


Transfer the mixture on silicon mat or greased surface and roll with a greased rolling pin. I like to make it nice a thin. My chikki is around 3-4 mm thick.

Using a sharp knife cut into square pieces. I like in rustic like a brittle so i just broke in into different shaped when it cooled.



Have a Great Makar Sankranti!!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Dryfruit Chikki

There is never a season for Candies and Chikkis. Everyone loves it, and it is all time favorite as a snack or a dessert or just because it is delicious. Chikki is an Indian version of a candy or a brittle. Made of sugar of gud/jaggery with various seeds and nuts, just tastes delicious.

Lonavala, which is few kilometers away from Bombay is a beautiful scenic place. Specially in Monsoons as the weather gets beautiful and greenery all over the mountains, a trip to Lonavala is a must. Apart from enjoying monsoon hike and scenic drive and a visit to the dam, Lonavala is famous for its Chikkis. Chikki shops are all lined up with variety of traditional and innovative Chikkis/brittle. Boxes of Chiikis are bought to gift people. One of my favorites from Lonavala is the Dryfruit Chikki. Although it is called dryfruit chikki, it does not have dryfruits. It is just made of nuts. Cashews, Almonds, and Pistachios with a hint of saffron dominate this recipe. I also make praline for desserts and ice-creams in the same way. You can use this recipe to make some Praline powder for garnish.

While I was reading the science of candy making, I learned that the important ingredient in candy making is corn syrup. Since I do not use corn syrup on regular basis, I did not wish to buy it and moreover it is not something I would like to use on regular basis. Why not make a recipe free from additives? Since this chikki has crisp nuts, the crystallization of sugar here does not matter. Also corn syrup cannot be used during Indian fast.

With Makar Sankranti on 14th January, it is time to make Chikkis, a special snack of the season while enjoying the kite festival. Traditionally Makar Sakranti is celebrated with chiiki brittle made of Til/ sesame seeds and gud/jaggery as they are perfect for this season. Rich is iron and calcium, Til Chikki provides healthy nutrients. Will be posting Til Chikki recipe tomorrow.

Ingredients to make Dryfruit Chikki
1 cup nuts Halved (cashews, almonds, pistachios)
1 cup sugar
Pinch of cardamom powder
1 tbsp. water
Pinch of saffron
  • In a heavy bottom pan heat sugar with a tbsp. of water on medium heat stirring constantly till sugar melts completely. It will slightly brown. Mine became slightly more dark as I was also taking pictures but you should work fast to avoid getting caramelized.
  • Add cardamom powder.
  • As soon as all the sugar melts, add nuts.
  • Turn of the heat and mix nuts with melted sugar.
  • Immediately pour in a greased plate or on silicon mat. Spread it with a rolling pin.
  • Sprinkle some saffron strands on it immediately.
  • Let it rest for 5 minutes. 
  • Using a sharp cutter cut into pieces while still warm.
  • Let it cool completely and then remove pieces from the plate.
  • Enjoy!! 




In a heavy bottom pan heat sugar with a tbsp. of water on medium heat stirring constantly till sugar melts completely. It will slightly brown.

Add cardamom powder.

As soon as all the sugar melts, add nuts.

Turn of the heat and mix nuts with melted sugar.

Immediately pour in a greased plate or on silicon mat. Spread it with a rolling pin.

Sprinkle some saffron strands on it immediately.

Using a sharp cutter cut into pieces while still warm.

Let it cool completely and then remove pieces from the plate.




Happy Makar Sankranti!
Happy Kite Flying!!