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Ragi Simili Urundai

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Let us kickstart this year with a post from a guest writer, Ms. Roobini. She brings to you a less heard of recipe in Chennai, but that which is very famous in Tirunelveli – Simili.

Here is Roobini’s Simili recipe:

Simili – don’t muse about the simile/metaphor of English classes. Simili is a dish made of ragi, peanut and jaggery; and for those who don’t know Tamil, urundai = laddu = ball-like. I am eager to share with you all, this recipe that I learnt from my grandmother. 

  • Preparation time          :15 mins
  • Cooking time                 : 10 mins
  • Total time                       : 25 mins 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup ragi flour, sprouted or plain
  • ¼ cup peanuts
  • 4 green cardamoms
  • 150 grams of jaggery/to taste
  • Hot water as required 

Preparation

  1. Add hot water to ragi flour, mix and make into a smooth dough.
  2. Divide the dough into equal balls and flatten the balls into adai.
  3. Cook the adai on both sides using a tava/pan and then allow it to cool.
  4. Tear the ragi adai into small pieces and pulse them in a mixer, till they crumble into a powder.
  5. Dry roast peanuts, cool, remove the skin.
  6. Powder together peanuts and cardamoms. (You can even powder each of these separately if doing in large quantity).
  7. Grate or powder jaggery. 

Making a Simili

  • In a large bowl mix the crumbled ragi adai, jaggery, peanut powder and cardamom powder. 
  • Blend for about 1 to 2 minutes. If needed add melted warm ghee to the mix.
  • Make balls while the mix is still warm.
  • Delicious Simili Urundais are ready to tingle your palate.

simili

Ragi Simili Urundai

This dish is a low-cost, healthy snack that is rich in iron(ragi, jaggery), calcium(ragi) and protein(peanuts) and is suitable for all age groups. Some also add roasted sesame seeds to the mix, which further enriches the dish with iron-protein and makes it tastier.


roobini-with-simili

The author, Ms Roobini has completed her under-graduation in Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics. She is currently pursuing her Masters in Dietetics and Food Service Management. Watching various cookery programmes and trying her hand at new dishes is her hobby.


Kosambari

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Kosambari is a cucumber-carrot-moong dhal salad that is popular in South India, especially in Karnataka. It is an integral part of wedding menus and is also offered as ‘Prasadham’ or Holy food in some temples. It is known by the same name in Telugu and as Kosumalli in Tamil. The salad does not involve cooking but demands prepreparation ahead of time. The moong dhal (greengram dhal) used is not cooked but soaked in water for atleast a couple of hours to soften it. So prior planning is important for the success of the final dish. Glance through the directions to prepare Kosambari and give it a try.

Directions to prepare Kosambari:

Ingredients:

  • 4 Cucumbers (medium-size)
  • ½ Carrot
  • 2-3 tbsp Moong dhal soaked in water for atleast 2 hrs
  • 1-2 tbsp Lime juice
  • Few Coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • Salt to taste

For the Tempering:

  • 1 tsp Mustard seed
  • 1 Slit Green Chili
  • A pinch of Asafoetida
  • Few Curry leaves
  • 2 tsp Cooking oil

Method: 

  1. Peel skin and grate cucumbers using grater mould with bigger holes.
  2. Repeat the same with the carrot.
  3. Gently squeeze cucumber gratings to remove the juice.
  4. Thoroughly drain water from the moong dhal and spread it in a salad bowl.
  5. Add cucumber gratings over it, then the carrot and finely chopped coriander leaves.
  6. Drizzle lime juice over the contents of the bowl.
  7. Now add the tempering.

Procedure for tempering:

  1. Heat oil.
  2. Add mustard seeds and wait till they splutter.
  3. Add asafoetida and green chili.
  4. Turn off the flame and then add curry leaves.
  5. Transfer the tempering to the salad bowl.

Do not mix or add salt until service time. Do these just before serving to prevent the salad from becoming runny.

Servings: 3

Kosambari

Kosambari

Suggestions: 

  • Soak the moong dhal in hot water to accelerate the softening process.
  • Always keep the quantity of carrots lesser than cucumbers because they contribute to a larger volume and their taste may be overpowering.
  • Crunchy varieties of cucumber that do not exude much water on grating are preferable (like the ones available in Salem, Tamil Nadu).
  • Gratings of all vegetables are recommended to obtain harmony of shape, size and texture. However, if you loathe the idea of losing cucumber juice by squeezing the gratings, just dice the cucumbers and use.
  • If using diced cucumber instead of gratings, try this trick to soften the moong dhal. Do not soak the dhal in water. But spread them in the salad bowl, place the cucumber dices on them and set aside for a couple of hours. Allow the cucumber juice to soften the dhal.

Kosambari uses a beautiful interplay of colours, textures and flavours to produce a tasty salad. It is a healthy dish that not only offers micronutrients but also contributes protein from the dhal. It can be served as a snack or as a side dish to any of the three courses of South Indian meal. Though the recipe here uses a cucumber-carrot-dhal combo, pairing the dhal either with only cucumber or only carrot or only shredded cabbage are other possibilities. Unripe mango gratings (with the skin) can also complement this salad. But an ultimate way to take this salad to the next level is to add mango ginger (a rhizome that looks like ginger but tastes like unripe mango) gratings to it. It bursts with flavour in the mouth and enhances the taste. So, quick! Make this salad a part of your routine menu.

Links to Other Salads:

Moong Sprouts Sundal

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Sprouts are often glorified as ‘live foods’ and rightly so, because they are seeds germinating into baby plants. Sprouting impacts the nutritional quality of the seed tremendously and transforms it into a super food. The soaking step, kick starts the metabolic activity of the seed and brings about many advantageous changes. On sprouting,

  • The enzymatic activity in the seed increases.
  • Complex nutrients are broken down into simpler forms, viz., starch into simpler sugars by amylase, proteins into aminoacids by protease and fats into fatty acids by lipase. The end product is in fact a predigested food.
  • The aminoacid profile improves.
  • The vitamins A, B and C, fibre and mineral contents escalate.
  • Anti-nutrients (phytates and protease inhibitors) plummet.

Those who have attempted sprouting would understand that these changes are so much in return for the little effort we throw in! Moong or green gram is the most commonly sprouted pulse, as is ragi among cereals. Let’s get acquainted with the process of sprouting and making moong sprouts sundal (Mulaikattiya Pachai Payaru Sundal in Tamil).

 Sprouting: 

  • Take a cup of moong in a bowl.
  • Wash thoroughly with water till it is free of dust, grit and all impurities.
  • Soak moong in water, overnight (about 8-12 hrs).
  • Make sure that the pulses have swollen enough due to hydration.
  • Drain water using a strainer.
  • Rinse moong in water and drain again.
  • Transfer moong in to an insulated hot box and close it using the lid. This is a very convenient method compared to the traditional muslin cloth procedure (and this is the best use I have ever put my smallest of hot boxes to).
  • It takes about 24 hrs for the sprouts to grow adequately (I still remember how excited and curious I was the first time I tried sprouting. I used to open the box every 4-5 hrs to steal a glance of how much the sprouts had grown :-)).
  • Extend the time of sprouting to 36-48 hrs, if you wish longer sprouts.

This is not much of a work at all – it is easy and fun too. So next time, don’t hunt for sprouts in supermarkets. Just DIY.

Insulated hot box used for sprouting

Insulated hot box used for sprouting

 

Close-up of moong sprouts

Close-up of moong sprouts

Preparation of Moong Sprouts Sundal:

  1. Heat 2 tsp of oil.
  2. Add a pinch of asafoetida to the oil.
  3. Follow it up with a tsp of mustard seeds; wait till they splutter.
  4. Add a tsp of black gram dhal, a slit green chili or dry red chili and a few curry leaves and stir.
  5. Add chopped onion (1 medium-sized) and sauté for a few minutes.
  6. Now incorporate the moong sprouts, sprinkle desired salt and toss it for 5-10 min on low heat, before turning off the stove. A healthy, predigested snack is all yours.
Moong sprouts sundal

Moong sprouts sundal

Servings: 4

Other Simple Ways to Use Moong Sprouts:

  • Mix the sprouts with yoghurt, required salt and relish.
  • Drizzle a dressing of lime juice, pepper and salt over the sprouts, mix and consume.
  • Kids would love a sweet twist to this dish. Add some coconut gratings and a tad of powdered jaggery to the sprouts and convert it into a crunchy delight.

I usually use half of the soaked moong to make normal sundal (which requires pressure cooking for 1 whistle and immediately releasing the pressure, before proceeding to the other steps) and leave the rest to sprout, to use another day. That takes care of snacks for 2 days – smart planning, eh?

Falafel or Chickpea Patty

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Few things that comfort us when we stay abroad are friends, secure job and good food. Speaking about food, experimenting with new foods may be exciting only when it is occasional. But, if situations impose it on us on a daily basis, it becomes a frustrating issue. Availability of our local foods in a foreign land may give us a tremendous sense of relief. Strangely enough, foods of an alien country which bear streaks of similarity to our native food also bring us so much happiness. Perhaps, the thought that they eat like us, makes us feel that those people are not so different from us. It, in a way, helps to reduce the gap between us. Falafel or Chickpea patty is one such Middle Eastern food that is so much like our South Indian Masal Vadai.

The clear cut instructions and video tutorial at videojug.com inspired me to try my hand at making falafels. I tried following the recipe to the T. I strayed away from the original, in adding finely chopped onions to the mix and flattening the patty mix instead of rounding them as spheres. The result, as you see below, was very good.

Falafels or Chickpea Patties

Falafels or Chickpea Patties

The fact that it does not require water during grinding makes it safe play. As you all know, this is where many go wrong while preparing masal vadai – add more water to the batter and subsequently face problems while shaping the vadai; more water in the batter also absorbs more oil during deep frying. The all purpose flour acts as a binding agent and makes it easier to mould the falafel into shape and keep it intact.

If you are intent upon pointing some setbacks of falafel in comparison with masal vadai, then you could state: the longer soaking time required for chickpeas than the Bengalgram dhal; the longer list of ingredients for falafel; the baking salt in it amounting to more sodium.

But on the whole, it is a tasty snack and would remain healthy, if portion control is taken care of – restrict to 2. In the Middle East, falafel is either served with tahini sauce or in Mushakel.  Mushakel is a sandwich made by stuffing falafels in pita along with salad, pickled vegetables and tahini sauce.

It is now your turn to try this Middle Eastern Dish.

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