When good and wholesome is absolutely yum

Unfortunately more often than not good and wholesome is also sorely lacking in taste. For the past two months we’ve been following a diet that has been good and wholesome – fatless, sugarless, saltless and unfortunately often tasteless. Of course this has led to a cumulative weight loss of at least 15 kilos ( for the entire family) but has also led to severe cravings to eat something good and wholesome and simultaneously YUM.

Fada and whipped yogurt

Returning home  from a day out on our “farm” I had this absolute urge to eat something different, something wholesome, something specially meant for a chilly February evening. So I thought of rustling up some “Fada nu Khichada” or a vegetarian wheat based khichadi, my all time favourite  at the iconic eatery SWATI in downtown Mumbai famous for its “snakes” . Khichada is a mix of rice and lentil and was normally served in my home while growing up, on wet rainy days or when the tummy sorely needed some special care.

So I took 2/3  cup  broken wheat, 1/3 cup  moong dal and washed them together and let them soak for around 5 minutes. While they were soaking, I peeled a potato and cut half of it into tiny wedges, chopped half a tomato into small wedges, and cut up two florets of cauliflower into tiny pieces and cut four French beans into tiny pieces.

I added 1 tablespoon of ghee in a pressure pan and let it heat up on high heat taking care not to burn it. When it was hot, I added 1 green cardamom, 1/2 ” piece of cinnamon, 4 cloves and 4 pepper corns. To this I added a pinch of asafetida  1/4 tspn  each of turmeric and red chilli powder. Then I drained off the water and added the broken wheat and dal  to the spice mix sizzling in the pan. I sauted it for a bit and then added the vegetables and continued sauteing for another minute or so taking care not to scald it. To this I added 1/2 a cup of  whipped curd, 1/2 tspn salt and 1 1/2  cups of water to cook the khichada. Khichada is gooey and well cooked so it needs more water than normal i.e. the total quantity of liquid should be twice that of the dry ingredients. I added some salt, put on the lid and the pressure and allowed it to cook for 4 whistles.

I am now going to eat it with whipped curd over which I poured some red chilli powder in hot ghee and perhaps a deep  fried udid dal papad to provide the crunch…………..

If this is not wholesome and yum, I wonder what is!

If you allow the wheat and dal to soak for longer, you will have to cook it for less whistles ( 3) and you can reduce the quantity of water as well. Khichada starts drying up as it cools down so you may have to add some more water  just before serving ( and of course heat it up!) to make it gooey

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Perfect Porridge

Breakfast is one of the most important meals for me and I always make sure that I have a great start to a great day with the perfect breakfast. There are days when I wake up with that slight rumble in my tummy just calling out to be filled quick!

So on a February morning like today, where there’s a slight chill in the air,  the perfect way to combat this nip is with a warm bowl of Oatmeal porridge. Porridge is a gooey dish made by boiling cereal in milk or water or both and traditionally served at breakfast time. Commonly used grain in India is broken wheat or semolina but I prefer to make mine with Quaker Oats  even though it is not native to India. Ever since Kay’s waistline has started shrinking, thanks to the bowlful of Oats she’s been having every day, I’ve been tempted to try out this grain and  I now find it a healthier option than my usual porridge of ground Rajgira ( Ramdana) that was a staple on my table while the girls were growing up. With my aging arteries slowly clogging up, Oats is the best way to reduce cholesterol . Another advantage is its low glycemic index which leaves you feeling full for longer and the roughage it provides .

Going into the kitchen,I look for the big bottle of oats and  rustle up 3 generously overflowing tablespoons of Quaker Oats in a small pan. To this I  add enough water to soak and drown the grain. Putting this to cook on medium heat, I add a generous pinch of powdered roasted Cumin seed (which lends this otherwise bland and tasteless gruel a touch of spice), half a teaspoon of salt, some freshly chopped green coriander for that extra freshness and flavour, stirring all the time to prevent scorching. The cooked porridge acquires a glazed , glutinous look and resembles a thick gluey paste. Taking it off the fire, I add a heaped teaspoonful of powdered roasted peanuts which gives it that divine nutty taste and a tiny bit of crunch.

Literally within minutes, I’ve cooked up a tasty and nutritious porridge which would have Goldilocks finish it off in a trice!

Mmmmmmmmmmm. Go try it!

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