Saturday, September 15, 2012

Common names of whole grains

Thought it fit to post the common names of the whole grains we use at home (since I've been going on and on about them). This info is widely available and sourced from the 'Nutritive Value of Indian Foods' as well as the internet. You can view relevant images on Google search - just type in any of these names. These grains are best if grown organically. They literally require less water for cultivation and you'd be doing the Earth a big favour if you demand chemical free foods. Visit your local organic store for more info.

I clicked the first 4 pics of millets...... the rest, courtesy Google Images.




Foxtail Millet
Pearl Millet
Little Millet
Kodo Millet

Red Pulao with Sprouts Raita

     This pulao looks weird. No doubt about it. We're used to Basmati rice grains emitting a wonderful aroma (this one does too though). The white colour of the rice mingling with colourful veggies. Well, try this recipe out and the flavour sells itself. Sure it tastes different from white rice but it's just different not worse or better. Stop comparing red or brown rice with white - they will never taste the same but these whole grains will always be more nutritious. Again, a snapshot of the magazine article shows you what the pulao can look like.


Red Rice – 2 cups
Carrots – 200 g
Cauliflower – 100 g
Green Peas (shelled) – 100 g
Sweet Corn (off the cob) – 100 g
Onions (chopped for garnishing) – 1 medium
Red chilli powder – 1 tsp
Salt – to taste

SEASONING – Oil- 1 tbsp, mustard, jeera, cinnamon, bay leaves, nutmeg, turmeric, ginger, garlic and curry leaves.


1] Because red rice takes longer to cook, do this first either in a rice or pressure cooker with just enough water for a fluffy texture (usually 1:2.5 of water is enough).

2] Lightly boil the cleaned cauliflower, carrots, green peas and corn in some water with a pinch of salt and turmeric for ten minutes. Afterwards, drain the excess water (read tip).

3] Remove the rice from the cooker, drain excess water (if any) and leave it to cool.

4] In a kadai, heat the oil and add the chopped onions and all the other seasoning ingredients with the red chilli powder. You can vary the amount of each of these spices depending on which flavour you want should dominate.

5] Once the onions turn golden brown, add the boiled vegetables, salt and mix. Cook for 5 mins, add the red rice and fold everything in together lightly so as not to end up with a gooey mash.

6] Serve hot. Roasted Punjabi pappads also go well with this dish.

Serves: 4                              Cooking Time: 1 hour


Sprouts – mixture of whole methi, moong and channa sprouts – 2 cups
Curd – 2 cups
Tomatoes (finely chopped) – 3 small
Onion (optional, finely chopped) – 1 medium
Jeera – 1 tsp
Coriander – for garnish


1] Mix the sprouts, tomatoes and onion together with curd.

2] Garnish with jeera and coriander leaves.

Preparation Time: 5 mins

Nutrition Tips –
  • Retain the drained vegetable stock to use in other items like soup or rasam (you can even store it or drink it plain) since it is full of nutrients.
  • To increase this recipe’s protein content (pulao) you can add sprouts or boiled grams in addition to veggies.
  • Try adding tofu, marinate in lemon juice and add it to the seasoning before mixing in the veggies.

  This recipe combo was published in Parent Circle, August, 2012.

Nutritious Pidikozhakattai with Jeera Rasam

     The Karnataka version of this is called Nucchinunde. Telugu - Kanduntlu. A traditional South Indian recipe, it is being made less often because it is a little labour intensive. However, with some planning and pre-preparation, this can even make it's way into week-day lunch boxes. It adds valuable protein and fibre to a meal. I've included a snapshot of the magazine article to give a sense of what the finished product looks like.


Whole channa - ½ cup
Green gram – ½ cup
Karamani – ¼ cup
Tuar dal – ½ cup
Whole Urad – 2 tbsp
Cabbage (finely shredded) – ¼ cup
Carrot (grated) – ¼ cup
Onions (finely chopped) – ¼ cup
Curry leaves – finely chopped
Ginger- 1 inch piece
Red chillies – as required (6 for spice)
Salt – to taste


1] Soak all pulses together for 4 hours and then drain excess water completely.

2] Mix in the ginger, red chillies, salt and coarsely grind to a rough, chunky texture. Add in the vegetables and curry leaves and mix by hand. Form oblong rolls with tapered edges roughly 2.5 inches in length and 1.5 inches in thickness. Size them according to your convenience.

3] Place these rolls in idli plates and steam for 15 – 20 mins. Dip a knife into the centre of the roll, if it comes out clean, it’s cooked.

4] Serve hot with Jeera rasam.

Makes:                 18 – 20 nos.                        Cooking Time: 20 mins


Rasam powder – 1 tbsp
Tamarind – 1 small lemon sized ball
Small tomatoes (finely chopped) – 2 nos
Salt - to taste
Coriander leaves – for garnishing
Seasoning – Oil / Ghee – 1 tsp, mustard seeds and jeera


Coriander seeds (dhaniya) - 1 tbsp
Pepper corns – 1 tbsp
Jeera -1 tbsp
Tuar dal – 1 tbsp
Red chillies – 3
Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
Asafoetida – a pinch
Curry Leaves – 2 twigs


1] Roast all the rasam powder ingredients together (including curry leaves and roast till dry and slightly aromatic). Grind to a fine powder.

2] Soak the cleaned tamarind in 1 cup (200ml) of water and heat till warm. Set aside. When cool, extract every last bit of juice from the tamarind pulp. Throw the dregs.

3] Heat 2 cups of water in a pan and add the finely chopped tomatoes and bring to a boil. Then add the tamarind water and rasam powder, add 1 more cup of water and boil for 5 more mins. Add salt and wait for a light that foam accumulates on the surface. The flame should be turned off at this point.

4] Heat the oil / ghee in a small pan, add in the mustard and once it splutters, add the rest of the ingredients.

5] Add this seasoning and coriander leaves garnish and serve piping hot with the nutritious pidikozhakattais.

Cooking Time:  15 – 20mins

Nutrition Tips:

  • If this is your meal’s main dish, each person will probably need 5 rolls with rasam, prepare another vegetable dish and you can serve everything with red or brown rice. Powder in the pidikozhakattai with the rice, add rasam and enjoy!
  • Sprout all the pulses required to add to the nutrient value (however this will go 'off' more quickly so consume it all fresh).
  • Experiment with different pulses (tuar and channa are a must) and add different herbs and spices to suit your family’s taste buds.


    This recipe combo was published in Parent Circle, August, 2012.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Thinai Pongal with Onion Gojju

     An innovation on a South Indian favourite, this dish proves the versatility of millets. My mother-in-Law, Geetha Venkataraman is listed as the co-author since we cooked these recipe ideas up in our kitchen together. The credit for the onion gojju recipe goes to my mother, Mamatha Suresh.


Thinai (foxtail millet) – 1  cup
Split moong dal with skin – ½  cup
Ginger (chopped finely) – 1 tbsp
Pepper corns - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
Salt – to taste
Seasoning – Oil / ghee – 1 tsp, mustard, jeera and pepper corns, curry leaves, cashews (5 – 10 nos.)


1] Millets as a rule need less water to cook but use a 1:2 ratio to ensure it is sufficiently soft. Thinai with moong dal, turmeric powder and chopped ginger should be placed in a pressure cooker and cooked till done.

2] After the pressure is released, remove the mixture and add salt.

3] Heat the oil / ghee in a small pan, add in the mustard and once it splutters, add the rest of the ingredients. Pour this seasoning onto the pongal and mix well.

4] Serve hot with the onion gojju.

Serves:                 4                              Cooking Time:  40 mins


Onions (finely chopped) – 3, medium
Rasam powder – 2 tsp
Coconut (grated) – 2 tbsp
Tamarind -1 lemon size ball
Jaggery – 1 tbsp
Salt – to taste
Seasoning – Oil- 1tsp, mustard seeds and jeera.


1] Extract the tamarind water as given in the rasam recipe.

2] Grind the coconut, rasam powder, salt and jaggery with 2 tbsp of water.

3] Pour this mixture onto the chopped onions, add in the tamarind water and stir till the liquid portion is homogeneous. If the consistency is too thick, add a little more water to make it light. There should be enough liquid to cover three quarters of the volume of the onion.

4] Pour the seasoning onto the gojju and mix well.

5] This makes a good side dish in any meal.

Preparation Time: 15 – 20 mins

Nutrition tips:

  • Add plenty of vegetables to the thinai –dal mixture before pressure cooking – this enhances the taste and colour of the dish.
  • If you want a more flowy texture (some people like it watery), add a little more water before pressure cooking.
  • If you want to increase the viscosity and add a traditional flavour - use finely grated fresh coconut after the cooking is done - this adds some calories from fat however.
  • This gojju recipe can be used with any raw or lightly steamed veggies or even sprouts – try it with cucumber as well.
  • Other millets such as varagu (kodo millet), Kamb (bajra), samai (little millet), kudiravaali (barnyard millet) can be used instead of rice as well as thinai.

This recipe was published in Parent Circle, September, 2012

Ragi Roti with Bell Pepper Chutney

     As promised, starting off the whole grain recipes with a simple, traditional recipe. I've included a picture of the article in the magazine in which it was published.


Ragi flour – 2  cups
Onion (finely chopped)– 1, medium
Green chilli – 1 no.
Coriander leaves(chopped)– ¼  cup
Jeera – 1 tsp
Ginger (grated) – 1 tbsp
Salt – to taste


1] Mix all the ingredients together in to a dough softer than that of chapathi. It has to be slightly wet in texture as well. Divide into 4 sections – gently mould each into a ball shape.

2] On a large enough piece of banana leaf (a thick plastic cover works too), pat the dough balls into flat rotis – about a quarter of an inch thick.

3] On a heated tava (you can use the onion trick again), holding the roti on banana leaf over it, gently prise the ragi roti onto the tava (in the manner of making poli).

4] Drag a spoon dipped in oil around the edge of the roti, smear a little oil on the surface of the roti as well to prevent it becoming dry and brittle. Cover and cook till done.

5] Serve hot with bell pepper chutney.

Serves: 2     (a moderate breakfast)                       Cooking Time: 30 mins


Bell peppers  – 2 large
Tomato – 1 medium
Channa dal – 1 tbsp
Urad dal – 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Red chillies – 3 to 6 nos.
Oil – ½ tsp
Salt – to taste


1] Roast the dry ingredients together in a half teaspoon of oil and grind to a coarse powder.

2] Roast the bell peppers and tomato together, add this to the coarse dal powder and grind.

3] Cool to room temperature and place in the fridge. Serve this chutney cold with hot ragi rotis.

Cooking Time: 15mins

Nutrition Tips:

  • Add grated carrot and tomatoes into the roti dough but be prepared for more moisture – less water is needed.
  • You can use a blend of flours instead of plain ragi to add variety.
  • Use an oil canister to spray oil – this way far less oil is needed to cook.
  • In any of these recipes – remove a portion of batter / dough before adding in the chillies if you’re cooking for young children.

    This recipe was published in Parent Circle, September, 2012