Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Grain of the Week - 16 - Foxtail Millet - Thinai

Foxtail Millet is an ancient grain of the Tamils - called Thinai in Tamil. Foxtail Millet was a staple in Northern Africa and also in India and China. It was the staple in these places before rice became popular. Foxtail millet grows in dry areas and hence its popularity in the ancient times. In the US foxtail millet was more popular as bird feed than human food, it is available these days in health food stores. Source.

While I was familiar with pearl millet (kambu), foxtail millet got introduced only now. The first time I saw it In Whole Foods here I mistook it for pearl millet in a different color.

Foxtail millet is rich in carbohydrates, dietary fiber and is naturally gluten free. Perfect as a substitute for rice. It can also be made into dosai and anything that can cooked with rice like pongal, payasam etc.,

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sambhar Rice

Dear Readers,
Wishing you all a Very Happy Tamil New Year! தமிழ் புத்தாண்டு வாழ்த்துக்கள்!

I set out to make Bisi Bela Bhath but I forgot to buy the spice powder. Then I set out to make the spice powder but left out the whole aromatic spices. The recipe I finally decided on was similar to making sambhar so I am calling it Sambhar Rice rather than Bisi Bela Bhath.

If you want a one pot meal quick and easy this is the recipe to try. We were packing for an afternoon trip and this came in handy. With some potato chips this recipe is a great pack away lunch and cooking a large quantity is also easy.

Sambhar Rice
Preparation Time:15 minutes
Cooking Time:25-30 minutes
  1. 1 cup rice Sona Masoori Rice (see Note:)
  2. 3/4 cup toor dal
  3. 3 cups of avrakkai (field beans) chooped , carrots cut into half moons and fresh green peas
  4. 1/4 cup shallots chopped
  5. 1 tbsp sambhar powder
  6. 2 tomatoes chopped
  7. 1 cup of tamarind pulp from a small lemon sized ball of tamarind (use a bit more or less depending upon taste)
  8. salt to taste
  9. For Masala Powder
  10. 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  11. 1 tsp cumin seeds
  12. 2 tsp pepper corns
  13. 4 red chilies
  14. few fenugreek seeds
  15. 1/2 tbsp split urad dal
  16. 2 tbsp fresh or grated coconut
  17. 2 tsp of oil
  18. Seasonings: curry leaves, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds and cumin seeds
  19. 1/4 cup roasted peanuts
  20. Note:
  21. Do not use Basmati rice. Par boiled rice will work or any other rice that could be cooked to mushy will work.
  22. I used only 1/2 cup of dal but 3/4 would have been good.

  1. Cook the rice and toor dal together with twice the amount of water normally used to get a mushy and soft cooked rice and dal mixture.
  2. While the rice is cooking roast the masala powder ingredients one by one, browning them evenly and making sure not to burn them. Set them aside. Add the coconut finally and in lower heat roast, cool and powder. (I use a coffee grinder).
  3. In a big pot that will fit the rice and the vegetables, heat oil add the chopped shallots and saute till translucent.
  4. Add in the chopped tomatoes and saute till it is soft.
  5. Now add the vegetables and saute for a minute or two. Add the sambhar powder and give a good mix.
  6. Add in the tamrind pulp and 1 cup more of water and let them cook till the vegetables are almost cooked.
  7. Add salt and the rice and dal mixture and mix well.
  8. Add the powdered masala and mix it into the rice. Keep the rice a little bit watery because it solidifies as it cools.

  9. Now in a small sauce pan, heat a bit more oil or ghee and add the seasonings and the peanuts and pour it over the rice.

  10. Serve with some roasted potatoes or potato chips.
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Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Grain of the Week - 15 - Farro

The first time I had Farro was in a Wegman's buffet. It was soft and tasty but still maintained its shape very well. I have been looking to buy Farro ever since and finally found the chance to buy it.

Farro supposedly is the original ancestor of all wheat that we see today. Farro was the main staple of the Romans and is still widely used in Italy. Apparently very popular in the Middle East during biblical times.

Also as far as nutrition goes, Farro has twice the amount of fiber and protein compared to Wheat. As far as gluten, the gluten found in Farro is much lower than in Wheat and hence easily digestible. Source.

From what I have been reading about cooking Farro, looks like it needs some serious soaking. Will let you know how I prepare it.

Where Bought: Whole Foods

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