Category Archives: Breakfast Ideas

Apricot Oat Bars

apricot bars

Chocolate-y Goodness

choc oat bars
Or so Noor termed these granola bars that, despite the obligatory oats, are saved from being just only healthy by a reasonable amount of chocolate chips !

Kuttu ki Khichdi or -Warm Buckwheat Groats Salad

A day of happy discovery! While rummaging through one of the kitchen cabinets this morning, as I looked for sunflower seeds, I found the box of buckwheat I bough a while ago at Dorabjee, my go-to supermarket. And since I was still wondering about what I could cook for today’s lunch, I decided I’d make buckwheat crepes and went ahead and opened the box.

Only to discover that the box contained not buckwheat flour, but the groats! Which threw me for a bit, since I had no idea what to do with what was in the box! Imagine my relief then, when I saw this recipe printed on the inside of the box….which is how this khichdi came to be made today by two people in two very different parts of the world! But more about that in a bit.

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As I cooked this dish, it quickly became obvious that the inspiration for this must surely be sabudana khichdi. And as the ingredients started to come together, as they do for that other dish – the aroma of cumin seeds and chopped potatoes pieces frying in some ghee, followed by the peanut powder as it was sauteed a little along with some chopped green chilli- my anticipation grew.

And I wasn’t disappointed. The result was a really tasty dish, a satisfying and healthy alternative to sabudana khichdi. The latter is a dish we all love, but the base- the sabudana – is admittedly not a food that packs a whole lot of nutrition, while buckwheat’s benefits include it’s gluten-free nature.

Later in the day, I messaged Priti, my friend who first introduced me to buckwheat flour almost three decades ago, to tell her about this recipe “find”. She was intrigued by it as well and since it was still early in the morning for her where she is in the U.S., she went ahead and made this dish for breakfast! And I was so glad to hear her family enjoyed it too.

A cuppa on the side; that’s all this dish needs to make it a great start to the day !

Kuttu ki Khichdi
A cup of groats
A 1 inch piece of ginger, sliced fine
3 tablespoons of peanut powder
2 small potatoes, peeled and diced small
1/2 a teaspoon of jeera seeds
2 small green chillied, chopped fine
1 teaspoon of unrefined sugar
1 tablespoon of ghee (go ahead, cheat, add a little more!)
chopped coriander leaves for garnish
juice of 1/2 a lime (optional)
2 cups of water (OR – 1 and a 1/2 cups of water and 1/2 cup of yogurt, well blended)

Soak the buckwheat for an hour, then drain and rinse a few times in water, and keep aside.
Heat ghee in a frying pan. Add the cumin seeds and when they crackle, add the diced potatoes and fry gently till half done. Now add the ginger and green chilli, and saute for a minute. Add the ground peanuts next, saute for a minute, then add the buckwheat, stir everything together well and saute for a couple of minutes. Add the sugar, the salt and the water, stir and cover the pan. Simmer the mixture over a low flame and cook, covered, till all the liquid is absorbed and the groats are cooked. Take the khichdi off the heat, stir in the coriander leaves and lemon juice, and serve warm. Yum! The peanuts and potatoes (and the ghee!) give this dish it’s appeal. The goodness of buckwheat is a happy bonus 🙂

Kuzhi Paniyaram

So pleased to have begun the new year with this new dish in my breakfast and  lunch-box repertoire !

For brunch today I made paniyaram (more correctly, Kuzhi Paniyaram, which is the formal name of this dish in Tamilnadu), a sort of idli but one that is  different to the latter in three or four  chief ways. The former are much smaller in size; are cooked by stove-top baking instead of by steaming -as idlis are; and they have a lot more flavor because of the addition of a variety of things – grated ginger, a tempering with mustard seeds and curry leaves, and sautĂ©ed onions – to regular idli batter. Of course, the shapes are quite different too. Paniarams look quite like muffins, unlike the distinctive, flying saucer-like shape of idlis.

paniyaram2

I re-discovered paniyaram at breakfast one day during our recent trip to Nasik,  and was glad to see that Noor and Shri seemed to like them quite a bit. In fact both the girls said they knew these from their friends’ lunch boxes. So I wasted no time in picking up a paniyaram pan on my first trip to Dorabjee after we got back, so pleased was I to find another possibility for a healthy  snack!

Paniyarams are so simple to make too. Here’s how I made them this morning, after browsing through some recipes I found online –

Masala Kuzhi Paniaram
(makes about 18)

14-16 tablespoons of idli batter (of a cake-batter-like consistency, and to which enough salt has been added already)
3/4 teaspoon of freshly grated ginger
2 quite small onions, finely chopped
2 teaspoons of skinless urad daal
1 tablespoon of finely chopped coriander leaves
1 tablespoon of sunflower oil, for tempering
1 teaspoon of mustard seeds
a few finely chopped curry leaves
1 or 2 finely chopped green chillies (optional but will add a great zing)
some oil to coat the holes in the paniaram pan

In a small pan, heat the oil and add the mustard seeds. When these begin to splutter, add the daal and as its grains start to turn pink, add the onion and sauté till the daal is a golden brown and the onions are soft. Add this mixture, the ginger and the coriander  to the batter and mix everything well.

Heat the paniyaram pan over medium heat, after drizzling just a little oil (2-3 drops will do) in to each indentation so that it’s sides are coated. Now add a tablespoon (and perhaps a little more, depending on the size of the indentations) of batter to each slot in the pan and then cover the pan to allow the batter to cook. Each paniyaram will rise like a cupcake as it happens. When the sides start to look done (this will take just a few minutes) – tip out one or two of these little beauties to check for a slightly crispy, golden color all over the sides at this point – flip over each one to cook the other side till it is a very light golden color too.

Et voila. In just a few, un-messy minutes- for I LOVE how easily these close cousins to the idli come out of the cooking pan – you have the makings of a great breakfast. Some piping hot sambhaar and a tangy coconut chutney – and it’s good to go !

Interesting trivia that I gathered on this one from googling for the recipe – the pan used for these little idlis is of the exact same kind that they use in Denmark for a particular kind of pancake. Because these pancakes were traditionally made with bits of apple, the pan is called an “ebleskiver” (Danish for apple slices) pan. So basically you could make paniyarams anywhere in the world, as long as you’ve bought yourself an ebeleskiver pan ! Really neat, I thought, this serendipitous sameness of cooking forms/gizmos in two parts of the world so distant and different from each other.

A stay to remember…

Thank God for Google search, I thought to myself the night (just three and a half days before we actually left for the trip) I found Adiem home stay online after Shri suggested we go to Nasik last week, to visit Sula vineyards and a few others in the region.

We’d started to plan the Christmas break very late in the day, and it was looking quite impossible to get reservations at homestays – always our prefered form of stay wherever we travel – in Ganpatiphule /Ratnagiri, where we’d initially wanted to go. So when Shri suggested Nasik, and a quick google-search for Nasik homestays pulled up Adiem and pictures of it’s lovely-looking interiors, I could hardly believe our luck at having found something so promising.

Fortune continued to smile at us, because a quick call to the number on Adiem’s FB page confirmed that they indeed had room to house us during the days we wanted to spend in Nasik.

And that is how we found ourselves last Thursday evening- after a drive from Pune that included an exhilarating, enjoying stop for a climb up Shivneri fort (the birthplace of Maratha King Shivaji) – at the lovely home of Madhu Chougaonkar and Arvind Chittewale, who turned out to be possibly the most interesting and inspiring individuals I’ve met this year.

adiemhomestay

The homestay this couple run served not only as our base for a very relaxed two-day sojourn through wine-producing countryside, it also provided so much more. Right from the welcoming cup of excellent chai; the beautiful ambience created by the tasteful decor that reflects well the character of the hosts and offers a genuine retreat; and a completely unexpected, but delightful opportunity to engage with two quite original, intelligent minds on  subjects such as gender issues, parenting, and the fascinating possibilities with flea market bargains (Adiem’s furniture has been hand-crafted from such pieces). Madhu – a gender activist/researcher and Arvind are people who appear to live by their convictions, and I loved to see this example of honesty and courage in practice.

Some of their personal choices resonated with me strongly, and that was especially what made me feel that I’d discovered kindred spirits. The manner in which their children’s family name is composed, for example,by  a joining of  the parents’ first names. This, I’ve often thought, is the most logical way to give a child a family name especially in this day and age, since the way of life s/he experiences is often not the way of either of the parent’s first family’s, but a new/third way that evolves when the child’s parents  bring their own unique approach to their life together. To find that there is a family out there that has actually lived what has sometimes seemed to me one of my crazier notions, was quite surreal.

Madhu and Arvind are people with a lot of heart in more ways than one. Shri and I were quite blown away by the largesse of the breakfast they laid out for us every day. There was this truly magnificent variety of delicious and traditional dishes each morning, and I was grateful both for the healthy start to our days, and to see the girls discover as well as enjoy traditional recipes like the Maharashtrian lapsi,the Tamil paniaram, baajra and daal khichdi, different types of sprouts, and Madhu’s  delicious take on idlis (steamed with vegetables like bottle gourd and fenugreek leaves added in for flavor, and then sliced and shallow-fried).

As we were leaving yesterday, Madhu generously packed a few wheat and jaggery laddoos – they saw how much the girls enjoyed them at breakfast that last morning !! – for us to carry back, and shared as well organically produced turmeric (which I’m looking forward to using in face packs for the girls!) from their farm.

All in all, this has been an experience that will stay with me for a long time. I feel we got so much more than we’d expected – a good time and a great stay yes, but also an elevating experience of a more important kind-an opportunity to meet individuals who inspire, who push our thinking, and remind us that there are many different but equally rich ways to live a life.

sula

Amazing Granola !

A recent email from the husband began –“This recipe looked interesting.If you find all the ingredients, could you please make a small batch?”

Umm hmmm. If he’s asked, I thought, which he does not very often, then I must treat this as only a rhetorical question 🙂 Anyway, just the thought of making something which meets my “is it healthy” test, and that would possibly add to the list of breakfast options for the girls to carry to school,was motivation enough.

granola

As it turned out, Indira and Noor had this today with vanilla ice-cream, for their after-school snack and Shri snacked on it yesterday too in the evening. Any which way you eat it, this granola is as delicious as it’s full of goodness. Here’s the recipe (a very popular one, it turns out) that Shri sent to me, from  Megan Gordon’s “Whole-Grain Mornings”, with just a couple of minor tweaks i made to adapt it to what I had in my kitchen, and to my oven.

Apricot-Pistachio Granola

1.5 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup raw pistachios, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup raw sesame seeds
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 teaspoon sea salt or plain table salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup finely chopped dried apricots (about 10)
1/8 cup diced crystallized ginger

In a large bowl, stir together the oats, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, salt, cinnamon and cardamom. Add the vanilla, olive oil and maple syrup and stir to combine. Next, preheat the oven to 160 degrees C and line a  baking tray with baking paper or a silicone mat. Turn the mixture out onto the baking paper ,spreading it in an even layer. Bake until fragrant and golden brown, for 30-35 minutes, stirring every 5-10 minutes to ensure the granola bakes evenly. When it’s done, it’ll have a nice, toasty aroma and look (and will firm up some more as it cools).

Remove from the oven and let cool completely, and then stir in the apricots and crystallized ginger once the granola has cooled. Store in an airtight container for 3 to 4 weeks or refrigerate for up to 6 weeks (if refrigerating, keep the apricots in a separate sealed bag and add them as you enjoy your granola so they don’t become hard and dry,says the original recipe).

Try it, and enjoy ! Breakfast, snack, dessert – this is oh-so-versatile ! Next time, I’m going to use less of the pistachios, and possibly skip the ginger, to cut the sugar and fat load here. I don’t think the granola will suffer for it, the maple syrup, cinnamon and cardamom add enough magic here !

Blueberry Muffins – A holiday memory

Yesterday, Indira asked if we could bake blueberry muffins today.

Never having noticed before that she is fond of this variety of muffins, I was curious as to the reason she wanted to make them.

She told me that she loves the muffins they serve for breakfast  on the flight from Nice to Zurich – we almost always  fly on Swiss, when we travel back each year to India – and that it is always a blueberry muffin.

So we picked up fresh blueberries in Carrefour yesterday and made these cupcakes today in the morning for breakfast.

Blueberry Muffins

125-150 g of fresh blueberries

1 and 3/4 cups of flour (all-purpose or whole wheat or semi-wholewheat)

1/2 a cup of sugar

1/4 cup of softened butter

1 tbsp of baking powder

3/4 cup of milk

1 tsp of vanilla

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon of salt

Wash and dry the blueberries.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, the baking powder and the salt.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Then add the egg and whisk everything together.

Add the milk and the vanilla and mix thoroughly.

Now pour in the flour mixture, stir it in well, then add the blueberries and mix them in lightly.

Put a tablespoon or so of the batter in to each of the cups of a muffin tray and bake at 200 degrees C for 25-40 minutes till the muffins are nicely browned.

While using  fresh blueberries as a baking ingredient does feel like a pity to me – the original recipe does say that frozen berries will do as well but the ones we buy here are too sour for my liking and I therefore tend to avoid them –  I have to say that these cupcakes are quite nice too, with the delicious taste of the berries spread through as the fruit softens on baking.