Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Amaranth and Date Pancakes

Pancakes and fall weather seem to go hand in hand. Out here in the SF Bay Area, fall has arrived with cooler weather, some welcome rain and farmer's markets full of persimmons and apples. So it seems like pumpkins are the flavor of the season (Halloween was just a month ago), but after eating pumpkin waffles and pumpkin muffins I was in the mood for something different. Since I have been making a conscious effort to include a variety of gluten free flours in my diet, in a recent chat with my aunt, Ameeta, she mentioned that I could try to make pancakes with amaranth flour. She gave me her recipe, I tweaked it to include dates and almonds and the result was a wholesome, gluten free, morning breakfast recipe that my toddler loved! Go ahead and try it, it will not disappoint you.

For four pancakes, you will need:

1/4 cup rice flour
1/4 ground almonds
1/2 cup amaranth flour
1 egg
1 cup milk
1 tsp baking powder
A generous amount of cinammon
Sugar or honey to taste (I used about 2 tbsp of sugar.)
2 Mejdool dates, pitted, chopped
One banana and chocolate syrup (Midnight Moo from Trader Joe's)

Beat the egg and then add the milk and sugar (or honey). Mix the dry ingredients and spoon in the dates. Add the dry ingredients to the egg-milk mixture and mix to form a smooth batter. Pour the batter into a preheated nonstick pan that has been greased with a small amount of butter. Cook the pancake covered with a lid until small holes form. Flip and cook again until the second side is done.

Serve warm with chocolate syrup and chopped bananas.


Monday, November 17, 2014

Oats Dosa

Eating oatmeal on busy mornings can be hard on families on the go! So here is a nice way to eat your oats - Dosas! These delicate crepes made with rice, urad dal and toasted rolled oats are full of protein and the health benefits of oats make them a staple in my kitchen for weeknight dinners.

You will need
1/2 cup of white basmati rice (non-GMO)
1/2 cup of urad dal (skinned, organic)
1/2 cup of rolled oats (I buy the toasted version, organic)
A 1/2 tsp of fenugreek powder
Salt to taste
A cast iron griddle and vegetable oil (Canola/Safflower)

Rinse and soak the rice and urad dal in warm water overnight in separate bowls. Typically you want about 1 cup of water for each bowl. Grind each grain to a paste in a food processor sequentially. Just before this step, soak the rolled oats in a bowl of water for ten minutes or so. There should be enough water to cover the oats plus about two tablespoons more. I grind the soaked rice first, then I add the soaked urad dal to the grinder. Finally add the rolled oats.

Now pour this mixture of into a bowl that has sufficient empty volume above the ground grains. Add salt to taste and the fenugreek powder. Let this mixture ferment overnight at temperatures around 70 F or in the oven with the light on. Once fermented, add some water (only if required) to make the batter of a spreadable consistency and use a ladle to pour the batter on a preheated cast iron griddle that has some oil spread on it with a silicone brush. Spread the batter in a uniform, clockwise circular motion and cook. Flip the crepe and cook on the other side, spreading a few drops of oil on the uncooked surface before flipping. This batter lasts in the refrigerator for about three days! Always smell for over-fermentation, that is a sign that the batter has gone bad.

Serve hot with pumpkin seed chutney, or stuffed with cheese (toddlers love this for a meal, don't be surprised if they eat several crepes in one go!) or with a side of butternut squash sambar


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Mixed Nuts and Ragi-Rawa Ladoos

Mixed Nuts and Ragi-Rawa Ladoos

I am always looking for ways to make healthy treats in a jiffy. One day my toddler asked me to make some "ladoos", a sweet made in India for festive occasions and for a quick afternoon snack. Traditionally, ladoos are made using a significant amount of ghee and sugar. I decided to whip up some ladoos for the family using "ragi flour" and ground peanuts and almonds. These ladoos make a great snack and provide protein and energy to active toddlers. Moreover, jaggery and cardamom add a very earthy flavor to these wonderful and traditional sweets.

You will need:

1/4 cup shredded jaggery and powdered brown sugar each
1/3 cup of ground almonds and roasted peanuts
1/4 cup ragi flour
3/4 cups rawa (semolina)
1 tsp cardamom
A few saffron threads (optional)
3 tbsp fresh ghee
1.5 cups of water

Roast the rawa and ragi in a skillet with 1 tsp of ghee. Once roasted, add the mixture of ground nuts and the remaining ghee. Stir thoroughly and add the cardamom. In a saucepan, heat the water with the jaggery and sugar. Once the water comes to a rolling boil, reduce the heat and continue to boil this sugar syrup until it reduces to about a cup in volume. Add a few saffron threads to the water. Now add the sugar syrup to the skillet and mix the nut/ragi/rawa mixture with the water. The rawa will cook slightly. Continue mixing until the rawa softens in the heat of the water. Let the mixture cool. Mix with your hands and roll into small balls. Place a raisin on each ladoo. These should last for a few days at room temperature (in a steel container) or in the refrigerator (please do not cover them, place them in a plate).


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Ragi Cardamom Cake - Delicious and Oh So Simple!

The image of a cake made with Ragi (Finger Millet) flour can evoke a not so happy response from most people who think of cake as a sweet treat that is either made with lots of chocolate or then, is light and fluffy and has tons of icing on it.

Hello! Cakes can be healthy too, and with the right ingredients, can make a wonderful and delicious afternoon snack. Finger millet or "Ragi" as it is popularly know in the southern states of India, is a highly underutilized grain. It is packed with nutrition and is unfortunately associated by many as a breakfast grain, to be used to make porridge. Actually, it lends itself to baking very well and I have realized that it is a wholesome flour to use to make an eggless cake that is infused with cardamom.

Here is a the recipe. It was devoured very quickly by all at home and this is a recipe that I will get back to again and again. I was inspired by the chocolate cake recipe from Padhu to come up with my own take on the use of Ragi flour.

Dry Ingredients:
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour.
1/2 cup ragi flour (I used the organic flour from 24 Mantra).
1/2 cup dried sweetened coconut.
1/4 cup ground almonds (blanched).
3/4 tsp baking soda.
1 and 1/4 tsp cardamom.
Pinch of salt.
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp of powdered brown sugar (this amount can be varied to suit your sweet tooth).

Wet Ingredients:

1/2 cup full fat yogurt.
1 cup reduced fat milk (infused with saffron).
1/4 cup canola oil


Take about three table spoons of the milk and warm it in the microwave. Place a few strands of saffron in the milk. The milk should get a lovely yellow color and aroma from the saffron in 15 minutes. Now mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients including the saffron infused milk. Now pour the wet ingredients' mixture in the dry ingredients and use a spatula to form a fluid batter. This is more fluid than most cake batter. Pour the batter in a greased (I use butter), square glass baking pan (8 inch by 8 inch), and bake in a preheated oven (350 F) for about 30 minutes or until done just enough to get a toothpick out clean, when inserted in the cake. This cake is meant to be moist. Cool and cut into desired size pieces. Enjoy with a hot cup of coffee!