Archive for January 2012

Black Eyed Peas (Lobia)

January 30, 2012

It’s that time of the year when I often go back to my comfort food – a bowl of warm bean dish made with a combination of root or leafy green vegetables along with herbs and spices present in my kitchen. The whole beans we consume today come in various forms and are present not only in soups, stews, burgers, casseroles and vegetarian chili but also in sprouts, salads and dips. Our grandmothers used them in a creative fashion throughout the kitchen in various recipes and I try to carry on in that tradition. Beans are great any time of the year, especially when cooked with a combination of leafy and seasonal root vegetables, particularly available in the winter months. It may be prepared as a vegetarian or non-vegetarian hearty soup almost resembling the texture of vegetarian chili. I prepare them with a variety of spice blends and herbs common in my kitchen but because I tend to be fairly flexible in terms of what I use, it would be difficult to list them individually here in the recipe.

The recipe given below brings back the fond memories of my visit to my sister’s place in Uttarakhand, India.

Black Eyed Peas (Lobia)
1 pound dried black-eyed peas
1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 1/2 tablespoons garlic-ginger paste
1 tablespoon curry powder and 1 bay leaf
1/2 tablespoon salt or to taste
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon garam masala

1) Check black-eyed peas for small stones and soil particles. Wash black-eyed peas and cover with enough cold water and soak overnight. Drain and rinse thoroughly.
2) In a heavy-bottomed four-quart saucepan or Dutch oven heat oil and cook onion until translucent. Add the remaining ingredients except tomatoes and garam masala. Add enough water or approximately 2 to 3 cups water to cover the black-eyed peas and bring to a full boil.
3) Cover and reduce the heat to medium low and cook for 40 to 50 minutes or until black-eyed peas are fork tender. Add tomatoes and cook for another 4 to 5 minutes. Add more water to adjust the consistency as needed (the consistency of the dish really depends upon how it is going to be served). Mix garam masala and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Serve with chopped onion, coriander leaves, green chilies, lemon wedges and chutney on the side. Before serving allow it to rest for at least 30 minutes so that the flavors have a chance to blend. Garnish and serve over plain rice or with chapati. Yield: approximately 8-10 servings.

Note: If using a pressure cooker, all the ingredients can be added after sautéing onion except garam masala. Follow the instruction contained in your pressure cooker manual for cooking the whole beans.

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Sesame Peanut Candy

January 14, 2012

Happy Makar Sankranti!

Sesame seeds are often used in various forms i.e. whole seeds, coarsely ground, flour, paste, and of course sesame oil. Sweets made from sesame seeds along with a combination of various nuts, spices and flour made from seeds is quite common in winter months. Sesame peanut candy the way I make it is really a twist to til laddu or ladoo that I grew up with. It is one of the must-have sweets that is typically prepared with a variety of ingredients present in the Indian kitchen particularly during the winter months as I mentioned earlier in my blog for the recipe posted on January 14, 2008.

Indian cooking varies dramatically from region to region with its own distinct texture and flavors. The candy here is sesame-peanut based that can be prepared by using whole seeds, coarsely ground sesame-peanut flour, or simply by using both as needed in making a variety of sesame sweets ranging in the texture from soft, chewy to hard like sesame brittles. It is one of the “must have sweets” we often had in our home in many forms (til laddu, amaranth-methi laddu, sesame-peanut or puffed rice peanut laddu and amaranth-sesame laddu etc.). The sesame candy here brings fond memories of my last visit to Ranikhet, a small hill station in the northern hills of India in the state of Uttarakhand. Traditionally, these sweets are only prepared with ghee and grated jaggery (gur) that prolongs its shelf life and consumed exclusively during winter months.

Sesame-Peanut Candy
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds
1/3 cup roasted peanut halves
1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds, coarsely ground

1) In a 2-quart saucepan combine the first two ingredients and add 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring the mixture constantly until sugar has dissolved completely. Boil the mixture until it forms a hard ball when tested in cold water. Add butter and a generous pinch of each: freshly crushed green cardamom and cinnamon if needed. Stir in the remaining ingredients and mix until all the ingredients are fully combined.
2) Remove from the heat and carefully spread the mixture evenly onto a well-greased 8x8x2-inch round baking pan or stainless thali. Or pour the mixture onto a parchment lined baking sheet and spread evenly with the back of buttered spatula. Score into diamond shapes and let the mixture cool completely before cutting. Or using a teaspoon, divide the mixture into 15-20 pieces and shape into balls (laddu) and roll each ball in lightly toasted black sesame seeds if desired.

Happy New Year!

January 1, 2012

Happy New Year! Thanks to all of the readers for interest and support over the past year. Wishing you all a very healthy, happy and prosperous New Year!

I would like to welcome New Year 2012 with my favorite beverages made with anar. I have taken some pictures and am sharing them with my blog readers. Please click here to access them.