Sunday, March 30, 2008

Split Pea Soup

Off late I have been trying to eat healthy ...tell hubby dear that and he would respond by wondering when did I cook something that was unhealthy ..... Thanks to me his intake of favorites like fried food and sweets has become almost zero :-) .

Split peas or dried peas were used as a alternative for fresh peas long before technology gave us the convenience of using fresh peas whenever we felt like irrespective of the time of year. When we were kids I remember mom making aloo-matar and other dishes using these dried peas , we were not exactly crazy about dried peas back then. But now things have changed ever since I have read about the health benefits of having dried peas I have tried to incorporate them into our meal .

Dried peas can lower cholesterol and also manage blood sugar due to their high fibre content which prevents blood sugar levels from rising rapidly after a meal.Dried peas also provide good to excellent amounts of four important minerals, two B-vitamins, and protein--all with virtually no fat. In addition they also have isoflavones the consumption of which has been linked to reduced risk of certain types of cancers.

You can read more about the health benefits here

Well recently hubby was travelling and I was looking for recipe which was new and healthy .... I had soaked some dried peas without having any definite idea about how to use them, I didn't want to make the usual dal we make and so I thought of making a soup . I did some net surfing and came across a number of soup recipes ..... but almost all of them used some meat . I didn't feel like having meat and so decided to make a completely vegetarian soup . The results were great to say the least , the soup was filling and satisfying and I am definitely going to make it again.

Ingredients (serves 2 )

Dried peas - 1/2 cup

Carrot - 1 large chopped into large pieces

Onion - 1 large one

Coriander leaves and stalks - a fistful

Freshly ground black pepper - as per taste

Salt - as per taste

Water - 4 cups

Soak the dried peas for 4-6 hours . Cook the peas with chopped carrots, onion and the coriander stalks . Traditional recipes call for cooking the peas over a slow flame for 4-5 hours just letting it simmer at a low flame , but I just pressure cooked them with about 3 cups of water . I cooked it over medium flame till I got two whistles and then let it cool . Once cool separate the water and puree the peas, carrot and onion etc with just enough water . Mix the contents with the rest of the stock ( you can strain the mixture to separate the hard skin of the peas and the fibrous part of coriander stalks) . Again simmer the soup at a low flame till the desired consistency is achieved . Add salt and crushed pepper . The soup is ready to be served. Garnish with heavy cream , bread croutons and coriander leaves.

P.S. :-The non-veg lovers can add chicken sausages while cooking the peas , or at a later stage while simmering the soup. I tried it another time and it just adds to the flavor .

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Red Lobia Beans Curry

I love red lobia beans ....... its very nutritious and very very tasty . There are many ways of enjoying these beans ....Curry being one of them .

Recently when I went grocery shopping I found these favorites of mine occupying a small shelf. Needless to say I was extremely happy to see them there and I couldn't wait to come home and soak them up for a great meal the next day .

These beans need a little planning as they need to be soaked at least for 3-4 hours and preferably overnight before being cooked, but I truly think that it is worth the effort .

We make a number of dishes with them , dal , curry , dry subzi , soup, salads etc etc.... today I want to share with you one of my favorites ways of cooking these beans .

Red lobia beans curry

Ingrediants - ( Serves 3 )

Red lobia beans - 1/2 cup

Onion - 1 large

Tomatoes - 2 medium

Green chillies - 2

Ginger - 1/2 inch piece

Garlic - 3 large cloves ( 8-9 small ones )

Cumin seeds - 1/2 t. sp

Asafoetida - 1 pinch

Coriander powder - 1 t. sp.

Red chili powder - 1/2 t. sp

Turmeric powder - 1/2 t. sp.

Garam masala - 1/4 t. sp.

Oil - 1 tb. sp.
Salt -as per taste

Water - 2-3 cups

Soak the reb lobia beans overnight in a lot of water , they will increase in size . Next day remove the water and wash the beans well . Keep them aside.

Roughly chop the onions , ginger and garlic and then blend them with little water make a coarse paste . Also blend the tomatoes separately into a paste . Keep them separately.
In a pressure cooker heat the oil, once the oil is hot add the asafoetida followed by the cumin seeds . Once the cumin starts crackling add the green chillies ( slit horizontally into two) . Then add the onion , ginger and garlic paste . Saute it well so that the onion becomes translucent , then add the coriander powder, red chili powder and turmeric powder . Saute for a couple of minuted then add the tomato paste .

Keep the flame medium and let it reduce , saute the masala till the oil starts to separate , now add the garam masala powder and saute the masala for a couple of minutes till you start getting a nice fragrance from it . Then add the lobia beans , mix well , add salt and then add about 2 -2.5 cups of water . Close the pressure cooker . Turn on the heat till the cooker gives out one whistle , them lower the heat to minimum and let it cook for 2-3 whistles after which switch off the heat and let cooker cool down.

Once the pressure is gone then open the cooker and mix the Subzi so that some beans get mashed up . Simmer it to the required consistency. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve with chapatis or paranthas.