SIMPLY BEING

Category: Recipes (page 3 of 10)

Fennel Soup for the Soul

I wonder if people realize what a grand little vegetable the fennel is. How light and refreshing its flavor is, almost minty and summery, how it asserts itself with zero support from any strong spices, how cooling it is to the system…

Fennel soup is one of the simplest soups ever, relying on the sweet-savory flavor of fennel that is equal parts refreshing and enlivening. You can choose to take this soup in whatever direction you wish, spice-wise. I used salt, pepper, a smidgen of dried oregano. Previously, I have made this soup with dried thyme too and the results were oh-so satisfying and nourishing.

Fennel Soup

Ingredients

1 fennel bulb
a couple of glugs of extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
dried oregano

Method

  1. Chop fennel into small-medium pieces. Use the stalks and fronds if tender. Else, discard them and only use the bulb.
  2. Warm a couple of glugs of extra-virgin olive oil in a saucepan. Add the chopped fennel, salt, pepper and oregano. Stir well.
  3. Allow the fennel to cook on medium heat. Stir intermittently. Keep the lid on, so the heat is retained and the fennel cooks down faster.
  4. As soon as the fennel begins to soften and turn translucent, you can turn the heat off. Keep the lid on, so the fennel cooks down even more.
  5. After a few minutes, when the cooked fennel is sufficiently cool, blend it to a chunky consistency using an immersion blender. You can also use a regular blender. You can also blend it to a thin consistency, if you like.
  6. Add water, bring to a boil. Add salt, if necessary.
  7. Turn heat off.

Voila!

Spelt Cardamom Biscuits (okay, Cookies)

Spelt Cardamom Biscuit

Spelt Cardamom Biscuit

Finally a recipe on this blog!

I haven’t been cooking much but I do have a recipe for fennel-celery soup that I must write about… easy, summery, light and delicious. Soon, soon.

A biscuit is a biscuit, and a cookie is a cookie… Never the twain shall meet? A biscuit is what a cookie is called in Britain and India, I suppose? Here in the South (and probably most of the United States), a biscuit is a whole another beast. Or baked goodie. This Wikipedia link explains what the two kinds of biscuits are.

Anyhow, I took Desert Candy’s recipe for Kleeja (Wheat-Cardamom Cookies), played with the ingredients and baking time, and made it my own new favorite biscuit recipe.

Mildly sweet, delicately flavored, hearty, sturdy, perfect for dunking… I like this one!

Kleeja (adapted from Desert Candy’s recipe here)

Ingredients

3 cups of spelt flour
1/2 cup of olive oil
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 egg beaten (I use Ener-G egg replacer)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cardamom

Preset oven to 350 F. Combine the sugar and milk into a little saucepan, turn on the heat, stir without boiling until sugar dissolves. Place aside to cool.

Combine flour, salt, baking powder and cardamom in a bowl. Mix well. Add oil and mix until well combined and crumbly in texture. Add egg replacer, then the sugar-milk mixture, and mix until a dough is formed. Set aside to rest for 15 minutes.

Roll out the dough with a thick rolling pin. You will not need to grease the work surface since this is a fairly oily dough. Cut out rounds with a sharp little lid or a biscuit cutter.

Transfer the little rounds to a baking sheet (with a parchment paper on top), bake for 15-16 minutes or until the bottoms are lightly browned.

Let cool on a rack.

Spelt Cardamom Biscuit

Spelt Cardamom Biscuit

Notes

This is a delicious biscuit! The delicate scent of cardamom is unmistakable. It is the perfect foil to the heartiness of the spelt. I thought that the olive oil (the original recipe uses butter or vegetable oil) adds a certain lightness in texture and taste. This is a mildly sweet biscuit, perfect for dunking in chai/coffee. My dough turned out fairly oily, so I think I will cut back on the oil next time I make these.

A Hefty Dose of Protein, Greens on the Side: Spinach and Moong Dal

Here is an adaptation of a recipe that I found in Madhur Jaffrey’s memoir Climbing the Mango Trees: A Memoir of a Childhood in India. Madhur Jaffrey’s version is more feisty with its inclusion of chickpea flour, green chillies and onion. I kept mine simpler. Also her version called for cooking the greens in the pressure cooker. I opted to chop them and add to the dal when it was boiling.

Spinach and Moong Dal

Ingredients (makes a meal for two when eaten with rice)
2/3 cup green moong
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 – 3 dashes of asafoetida (hing)
1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 small bunch of fresh spinach, chopped fine
1 tablespoon dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi)
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
5 – 6 slivers of fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon ghee
2 – 3 squeezes of lime juice

Method

Cook the moong with twice the quantity of water in the pressure cooker.

After cooked, open the lid of the pressure cooker. Add water to the cooked moong dal, bring to a slight boil.

Add the chopped spinach to the boiling moong dal.

Add salt to taste. Reduce the heat. Let it simmer.

In a small frying pan, warm ghee. Add cumin seeds, asafoetida, turmeric, ginger and fenugreek seeds. When the seeds are brownish-red in color, add the dried fenugreek leaves.

Take off the heat. Add the ghee-spice mixture to the dal.

Turn off the heat.

Add a couple of squeezes of lime juice.

Serve with steaming brown basmati rice and a side of lime pickle… Yum!

A Steaming Bowl of Rasam

A steaming bowl of tomato-n-pepper rasam hits the spot on a cold winter day. It opens the sinuses, clears the nasal passage and throat, fires up the taste buds and creates a feeling of bonhomie that is so vital on a blustery and grey day in January. And my Mom’s recipe… A-ha, it is THE BEST. It is sweet and tangy, spicy (or mild) and piquant, verdant and attractive. Are you sold yet? No? Well, take a look.

Mmmm...Rasam!

Mmmm…Rasam!

Here is the recipe.

Ingredients
1/4 cup toor dal
1 large tomato, chopped into chunks
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon rasam powder (I use a local brand Madurai Foods. You can find many brands at your local Indian store)
freshly ground black pepper
Jaggery (to taste)
salt (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon ghee (or less, if you prefer)

Method

  • Wash the dal, cleaning it of dust, stones, etc. Place in a pressure cooker vessel with 1/2 cup of water.
  • In another pressure cooker vessel, place chopped tomatoes, turmeric, rasam powder, pepper, jaggery, salt, 1/4 teaspoon ghee and 1/2 cup water.
  • Place both vessels in the pressure cooker. Cook for two whistles.
  • Take out the vessel with the dal. Mash well so as to get a smooth liquid consistency. Pour into a cooking utensil.
  • Add the tomato mixture to the mashed dal. Stir.
  • Add a couple of cups of water. Bring to a boil.
  • In a little pan, warm 1/4 teaspoon of ghee. Add black mustard seeds. When the seeds begin spluttering, add cumin seeds. Wait until the cumin turns red-brown. Turn off the heat. Add the mix to the rasam.
  • Check for salt.
  • Finish with a squeeze of lime. Garnish with chopped cilantro.
  • Top with a little (or large) dollop of ghee if you like.

Rasam can be enjoyed as a soup by itself or eaten with steaming white/brown rice. No matter what your choice, belly-warming deliciousness, a runny nose and a feeling of ‘all is well with the world’ are guaranteed!