Indian Monsoon

Food to cook. Food to eat. Food to love.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Saffron 'Wildflower' Honey Banana Fatfree Chelsea Buns

I now believe that baking is really like a chemistry lab experiment with all the precise measurements and procedures. And you learn from your mistakes specially when you are trying to manipulate the original recipe to suit your diet needs. In baking, its truly important that one understands the use, effects and measurement of each ingredient. This chelsea buns recipe is originally from the book ' Fat-Free Cooking' by 'Anne Sheasby'. She calls for margarine and eggs in her recipe which I have totally eliminated in mine. Substituted a few ingredients like sugar with 'wildflower' honey and pumpkin spice with saffron. So obviously I rechristened these buns as Saffron 'Wildflower' Honey Banana Fatfree Chelsea Buns. Well a long name but an extremely delectable guilt-free eat.

Saffron is the stigma of the saffron crocus flower and used as a spice in sweet and savory dishes. 'Wildflower' honey is the honey got from bees that pollinate on wildflowers. Now both these ingredients being flower extracts I thought I would enter these buns recipe for the SHF #30 Flower Power event.

Recipe (adapted from "Fat-Free Cooking" by "Anne Sheasby")

Makes 9 buns


for the buns

6 tbsp warm fat-free organic milk

1 tsp dry active yeast

pinch of demerara sugar

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tsp saffron (I used Kashmiri Saffron)

1/2 tsp salt

1 medium sized very ripe banana

1/4 cup wildflower honey

for the filling

1 medium sized very ripe banana

1/2 cup dried figs

1/4 cup dried apricots

1/4 cup seeded dates

2 tbsp demerara sugar (light brown sugar can be used too)

for the glaze

wildflower honey (as much as you want)


  1. Take the warm milk in a cup and sprinkle the yeast on it. Add a pinch of sugar and mix well to activate the yeast. Also add saffron strands to this warm mixture to bring out the flavour and color of saffron. Keep aside for 30 minutes and you will see frothy bubbles due to the yeast being active.

  2. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Mash the banana in a separate container and add honey to it. Add this to the flour along with the yeast and milk mixture while kneading the flour to make a smooth dough. Knead well on a flat surface for 5 minutes to make a nice dough ball. Add flour to make the kneading easier. Transfer the dough ball to the bowl and cover with a damp kitchen towel and let it stand for 2 hours for the dough to rise. The ball will almost double in volume.

  3. For the filling, mash the banana well and add all the chopped dry fruits along with the sugar. Mix well. Make this filling at the end of the 2 hour rising period of the dough ball. Or else the filling will become watery due to banana and sugar (Lesson # 1 that I learnt).

  4. After the 2 hour rising time of the dough, knead it onto a flat floured surface. Roll out 12 x 9 inch rectangle. Spread the filling over the dough and roll it up along its length as shown. Tuck the seam neatly underneath.

  5. Cut the roll into 9 buns (serrated knife makes it easier). Spray an 8-inch square pan, and arrange these buns to fit the pan as shown. Cover and let it rise for another 30 minutes.

  6. Preheat the oven to 400 F and bake for 18-20 minutes. Watch for the buns tops turning brown earlier than 20 min as the recipe is fat-free. (Lesson #2 I learnt). Brush the hot buns with more honey to form a glaze. Use as much or little honey that you want. Cut and remove the buns from the baking pan immediately after glazing.

  7. Eat as many as you want.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Holocaust at VT

This post is dedicated to all those killed at Virginia Tech. Having been a student not long ago, I deeply feel the pain and loss of all the victims and their near and dear ones. Its eerie to imagine that the students went to class only to be shot dead. God bless them and their families.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Keerai(Spinach) Poritha Kozhambu

This recipe is my mother's recipe and she usually makes it on weekends or for guests. Most weekends we used to have dosa for breakfast and she would have made this kozhambu for lunch. But we used to end up eating this with dosas. This kozhambu is usually eaten with rice.

Poritha Kozhambu is nothing but a kind of sambar made with fried ingredients (spices). Instead of spinach, drumsticks can be used to make this kozhambu.


1 lb Spinach, washed and finely chopped

1 tsp Cumin seeds (Jeera)

1/2 tsp Black Pepper

1/2 Urad Dal

1 Tblsp grated fresh Coconut

1 tsp rice

Pinch of Turmeric powder

1/2 tsp Sambar Powder (I use MTR Brand)

Asafoetida (few dashes)

Handful of Tuvar Dal

1 tsp Oil

1 tsp Mustard seeds


Soak 1 tsp of rice in a small cup for about 45 minutes. Pressure the cook tuvar dal and mash it well. Cook the chopped spinach with 1.5 cups of water, salt, turmeric powder and the sambar powder. Redden the urad dal in little oil and grind it together with pepper, cumin seeds, coconut gratings and the soaked rice. Add little water to grind the above into a smooth paste. Add this paste to the cooked spinach mixture along with cooked, mashed tuvar dal. Check for salt and bring it to a boil. Heat rest of the oil and sputter the mustard seeds and add the asafoetida to the kuzhambu before serving.

This is my entry to two events- the first of the
Veggie Cuisine's LakshmiK RCI's, Tamil Cuisine, and Mahanandi Indira's JFI-WBB: Green Leafy Vegetables.

Rajma Chawal

Yeah that's the name of my post for the Rajma recipe my friend taught met. She insisted that Rajma is to be eaten with Chawal (rice) only and not with chapattis. I agree with her.

My friend is a Punjabi and this Rajma recipe is as authentic as it can be, ofcourse different households will have different versions of it. The recipe uses simple ingredients with no garam masala or any other type of spice powder and yet its so flavourful. Try it and you'll really enjoy the dish.

1 cup Red Kidney Beans

1 medium Red Onion

3 medium Tomatoes (or 2 large ones)
2 Tbsp Oil

2 cloves of Garlic

1.5 inches long Ginger

2 Green Chillies ( or Jalapenos to taste)

1 tsp Cumin seeds (Jeera)

Pinch of turmeric powder

Salt (to taste)


Soak red kidney beans overnight. Change the water in the morning and pressure cook it adding some salt to the beans. Alternately, you can also use canned red kidney beans, just wash them before you use. Peel and cut the red onion into thin semi-circles. Put 1.5 tbsp of the oil into a pan and add the cut onions. Let them brown and try to separate them into rings using a spatula (spoon). Meanwhile grate the tomatoes. Mash the garlic, ginger and green chillies to a smooth paste. After the onions are browned, set them aside and in the same pan add the rest of the oil. To the oil add the cumin seeds and the ginger-garlic-green chillies paste. Stir and after a minute add the grated tomatoes and turmeric powder. Let the tomato mixture come to a boil to ensure that the tomatoes are cooked. Then add the pressure cooked beans and mash a few of the beans in the pan itself. Let the contents of the pan come to a boil, check for salt. Transfer the contents to vessel (which you can use in the pressure cooker) and sprinkle the browned onions to the beans. Pressure cook once again for 1 whistle. When cooled sprinkle chopped cilantro. Serve it with warm Basmati or Sona Masoori rice. Yummy. Too good.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Lemon Pepper Tomato Rasam

Spring seems elusive in my neck of the woods though it is almost mid-April. The wintry weather we've been experiencing since a couple of weeks, brought along with it the cold and cough episodes. This lemon pepper rasam or soup, seemed to soothe my itchy sore throat. The spiciness of the pepper actually helps relieve congestion in the nose and throat.


1 medium Tomato
Juice of half a lemon/lime
1/2 tsp Black Pepper (or more if you like it spicier)
1/2 tsp Cumin seeds (Jeera)
1/4 tsp Rasam powder (I used MTR Rasam powder)
Pinch of turmeric powder
1/2 tsp oil
Handful Tuvar Dal
Pinch of Asafoetida
Few curry leaves
Salt (to taste)
Pinch of sugar


Pressure cook the tuvar dal. In a vessel take about 2 cups of water and add the chopped tomatoes. Add rasam powder, salt, turmeric powder and let it simmer till the tomatoes are soft and cooked. Instead of rasam powder you can also use coriander, cumin and red chilly powder. The red chilly powder and the black pepper gives different zones and levels of spiciness for the throat. Meanwhile, heat the oil and add cumin seeds and black pepper. After they brown slightly set it aside to cool. Once cooled, powder them using a mortar pestle or rolling pin.

Mash the cooked tuvar dal to a pulp and add this to the rasam along with the powdered cumin-black pepper mixture. Also mash a few of the tomatoes and add it back to the rasam. Let the rasam come to a boil and taste for salt. Add the lemon/lime juice, curry leaves and in the end just add a pinch of sugar to balance all the flavours.

The rasam can be eaten with rice or just as a soup. I am contributing this recipe to "L of Indian Vegetables" event hosted by Nupur of One Hot Stove.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Mango Khat-Mitt

Talking of hubbies and howling, moments that make you rage on hubbies. Seething that has no outlet and outbursts that can be useless. Talking of not knowing where to channel that energy or how to restore peace in oneself. Think of just one simple, finger licking tangy dish-Mango KatMit. I almost renamed it to Kuch Khatta Kuch Meeta. Suits excellently for such situations described above and I am talking from live experience today. This very morning, co incidentally, I happened to ask my mom about this recipe which is made when mangoes are available. Back in my childhood, I used to lick the bowl off with a comic by my side. I would do the same thing over again except today’s situation is different in that I was F-U-R-I-O-U-S with my DH. Knowing arguing would be pointless, I was thinking of ways to restore my joy and my peace. With delicious anticipation I set out to do this chat pataa snack which I duly made and licked the bowl clean again. And yes, the anger did subside…….. considerably.

Pregnant ladies who love tangy taste of mangoes as well as ladies who have a sweet/tangy/spicy tooth might find this a slice of heaven.

Here goes the less than 5 minute snack.

1 raw mango diced into 1cm pieces.
Handful groundnuts(or less)
3 dry red chilly halves (as per taste)
Half a cup jaggery.
Salt to taste.
1 and half tbsp olive oil.

Heat oil and add red chillies and groundnuts.
Fry for a little while until groundnuts are a little browned.
Add the mango pieces and cook until mango is soft.
Add the jaggery (half a cup-less or more as per taste) and salt. Mix for a while until it thickens and switch off the flame.
Empty into a bowl and wait until it cools.

And then......
Lick it until the bowl is clean.HaHaHa!!!Revenge is very sweet!So to say.

Methi and Green Garbanzo Paratha

In India the onset of southwest monsoon season is heralded by evening showers after gruelling summer day during the months of May-June. The fragrance when rain showers quench the thirst of the sun-parched earth is to be experienced to be believed. This is one of most cherished and missed memories of my days back home in India. Any guesses, why the blog is named "Indian Monsoon"?

Now what has the smell of wet earth got to do with methi leaves. Well, to me, the fragrance of these methi leaves is so similar to the fresh smell of the rain-drenched earth, mud and all its vegetation. This leafy green vegetable exudes its aroma from the minute you start chopping it. And its taste - wonderful so as to rival its fragrance. Methi leaves is one of my favourite leafy greens.

Indira of Mahanadi declared 'green leafy vegetables' for JFI for May and what better month when April 22 is Earth Day. Very aptly chosen ingredient, indeed. I was more than elated to find a bunch of methi leaves to cook with for this event. So this recipe is one of my contributions to the JFI-WBB: Green Leafy Vegetables event.

I normally make plain methi leaves paratha but this time I added green garbanzo beans to the dough. The green garbanzos is available in Trader Joe in the frozen section.


1 bunch Methi leaves- washed thoroughly and chopped
1/4 cup Green Garbanzo Beans (frozen ones)
1 cup Whole wheat flour (atta)
1 tsp Carom (ajwain or omam) seeds
Salt (to taste)
Red chilly flakes or powder (to taste)

Pressure cook the green garbanzo beans with pinch of salt and very little water. You can also microwave these beans till they can be mashed between your fingers. After cooking the beans, mash them well and reserve the water that was used for cooking them. Meanwhile trim and wash the methi leaves. I use part of their stem too. A word about washing methi leaves- you have to immerse these trimmed leaves and stalks in a lot of water several times. Each time you change the water you will see the grit and clay, which was stuck to the greens, settling to the bottom of the bowl you are immersing these greens in. I repeat this process till I see no more sediment at the bottom of the bowl. Then chop the leaves and their stalks finely.

Take the whole wheat flour in a wide mouthed bowl (easy for kneading), add the red chilly flakes, carom seeds and salt. Mix them well with your fingers, then add the mashed green garbanzos and chopped methi greens. Start mixing the all the ingredients with your fingers and add the reserved water used for the beans. Knead the dough and add more water if necessary till you get a dough ball you can make chapattis out of. Keep the dough ball covered for about 10 minutes.

Heat a griddle (tava) and meanwhile roll out chapattis out of the dough. I didn't add any oil while rolling out. Use plain wheat flour to prevent the dough from sticking just like the way you would be rolling for chapattis. Put the rolled out paratha on the tava, after about 1-2 minutes turn. As soon as these parathas hit the hot tava, the fragrance of methi leaves just perfumes your senses. This side would have just started to cook and slightly brown. Smear this side with oil. You can use as little or as much oil as you prefer. I use the back of an oil dipped spoon for this. Again turn the paratha and repeat the oil smear on the other side. Once evenly browned remove the paratha and store in a hot case lined with kitchen towel or paper napkin till you finish cooking all the parathas.

We ate these parathas with a bowl of homemade curd (yogurt) and
Indira's Lime Pickle which I had made a few weeks ago. An excellent meal with the goodness of the beans and of course the greens.
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