Vegetable Daliya

April 10, 2010

I had a rather “delicate” stomach when I was growing up. And every time I was going through one of the bouts of stomach upsets after eating outside food and/or drink, my mother used to feed me plain khichdi (a mush of rice and daal cooked together) or daliya (broken wheat cereal, which she made sweet with milk). So much so that I started to associate these two dishes with being sick. Then one day for breakfast, at my best friends place in Ludhiana, I had a dish which Aunty called daliya, but it was really different from the sweet milky dish I was used to having. This was savory, full of vegetables and rather dry in form. My eyes were opened and I started to have a new respect for wheat as a grain. I now have vegetable daliya as breakfast, but also as a quick, week night meal.

Vegetable Daliya

Yummy leftovers that I packed in my tiffin for lunch the next day

Ingredients

1 cup broken wheat (daliya) – this is different from bulgur in the sense that it is not pre-cooked. It is available in Indian grocery stores.
2 cups water
Oil
1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
one small piece ginger
2 green chillies
For vegetables, I use whatever I have at hand. Pretty much anything that softens in one whistle in the pressure cooker is fair game. This time I used the following.
1  carrot
1 small capsicum/green bell pepper
a handful of green beans
a few florets cauliflower
about 1/4 cup peas
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional:
1 small onion
1 small tomato

Method

Grate ginger and mince green chillies.

Chop all the vegetables (except the onion and tomato) to about an even dice. I keep the cauliflower florets a little bigger as otherwise they tend to turn to mush

Dry roast the daliya till it starts to give off the characteristic wheat aroma. Make sure that you stir it intermittently as otherwise the side touching the pan becomes really dark and starts to taste a little burnt. You want the whole thing to evenly turn a shade or two darker.

Meanwhile, in a pressure cooker, heat a little oil. Add the jeera seeds and once they splutter, add grated ginger and minced green chillies.

Once those brown a little bit, add the diced vegetables and stir for a few minutes.

Add the roasted daliya and water and salt. You can also add black pepper if you so wish though I didn’t as I had put enough green chillies for my taste.

Close the pressure cooker and heat till the pressure develops. At this point, reduce the heat to low and cook in pressure for ten minutes.

While this is cooking, you could carmelize some thin sliced onions in very little oil. Make sure you don’t stir the onions too much while caramelizing them so that they brown ‘attractively’. I usually like to add onion and tomatoes on top if I am making the daliya for dinner, to add a rich earthy flavor, but not if it is for breakfast, as then I like the lighter version.

When you open the pressure cooker, gently fluff the daliya and spread the caramelized onions on top.

In the same pan that you caramelized the onions, you may quickly heat some diced tomatoes, not to cook them, but just till they are barely hot and spread them over the daliya as well. If you don’t want to add tomatoes, a squeeze of lemon would be a good addition as well.

Serve hot and enjoy!

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Sooji Dhokla

February 7, 2010

One of my good friends is from a Gujarati family, and though she has spent her life in Kuwait, Bombay and the US, she is very well versed with Gujarati culture, language and cuisine. She always used to tell me about the amazing Gujarati food that her Mom used to make in Kuwait while she was growing up. Then, last summer, when her mother was visiting Chicago, I took this opportunity to learn some recipes from her that I have always loved in Gujarati food.

Pallavi Aunty was very kind and so lovingly taught me how to make Patra and Sooji Dhokla. Patra recipe is for another day, but today I am going to tell you how to make the best sooji dhokla in the world.

Sooji Dhokla with Dhaniya Chutney

Sooji Dhokla with Dhaniya Chutney

Making dhokla, is somewhat like baking, in the sense that you are not able to taste and check and tweak it along the away. So once the batter is steaming, the fate of the dhokla has already been decided. Hence it is important that the proportions be exactly maintained or the final product might not turn out to be exactly as you had hoped.

Ingredients

1 cup Sooji
2 cups Dahi/Curd/Yoghurt (this should be somewhat sour)
2 tbsps Oil
1 tsp Salt
1 tbsp Besan/Chickpea flour
1/2 tsp Sugar
1/4 (juice of) Lemon
(The sugar and the lemon help in fluffing the dhokla)
1 heaped tsp Eno (I found it at the Indian store)

After this point, the ingredients are to taste and are not precise measurements. Feel free to increase or decrease quantities.

2 tsps Fresh grated Ginger
2 tsps Minced green chillies (I remove the seeds)

For tadka/tempering:

1 tsp Rayi/Mustard seeds
1 tsp Jeera/Cumin seeds
1 tsp Til/Sesame seeds
7 – 10 Curry leaves (washed and dried)

For garnishing:

2 tbsps Dhaniya/Cilantro (washed, dried and chopped)

Method

Soak sooji and dahi for 2 – 3 hours. I sometimes soak it overnight in the refrigerator, but 1 hour is the absolute minimum.

Mix oil, salt, besan, sugar, lemon juice, grated ginger and minced green chillies into the sooji batter and mix well.

Boil water in a broad vessel.

Grease a steel thali (or a cake pan) that will fit inside the vessel and set it on a stand in the vessel. This is our apparatus for steaming the dhokla.

At this point, you need to work rather swiftly. Put the eno powder in the batter and mix with hand. It will start bubbling and we want to capture this effervescence. Pour the batter into the thali and cover the vessel. I like to wrap the cover with cloth so that the steam will not fall back into the dhokla as water droplets. I also keep a weight on top of some kind to create a better steamer. That is optional though and if your cover is heavy enough, you may not even need it.

Steam it on high for 15 minutes. Do not check in the middle as that will make the steam escape.

When the dhokla is about to be done, you can prepare your tempering. Heat some oil and put the rayi, jeera, til and curry leaves in it till they pop and start to smell fragrant.

Once the dhokla is done, spread the tempering on the thali and put some fresh chopped cilantro leaves on top.

Serve with green chutney made with dhaniya, ginger and green chillies.