Cooking| Dal khichdi – weekend meals made easy…

IMG_2195_1Some of my weekends are too busy to cook anything but one pot meals…honestly, not only my weekend but this time last couple of months have been very very busy… travel, festivals, celebrations, office and what not!

Thankfully when this long weekend was approaching, we thought of spending it lazily – and for me that included less cooking too 😉

We both love rice dishes. Those are truely comfort food for us. We also order dal khichdi sometimes when we eat out and don’t want to eat very elaborately.

Simply put dal khichdi is a scrumptious meal and comfort food at its best! This dal khichdi recipe is easy to make and leaves your tummy happy and full! What else one wants on a lazy weekend afternoon?

To be specific this recipe is not exactly a one-pot mean; but it can definitely be made into. Instead of making tomato mixture in a separate pan, you can put all ginger, garlic, green chilies and tomatoes in the same tempering and then add rice and dal. This recipe makes for 2-3 servings per person for two people or single servings for a family of 4-5 persons.

Eat it plain with a dollop of desi ghee (purified butter; and this is a must) or serve it with some pickle, chutney or papad; and enjoy!

IMG_2193_1Here is what you will need –

  1. 1 and 1/4 cup rice*
  2. 1/2 cup and 1 tablespoon split moong dal*
  3. approximately 5 to 5 and 1/2 cups water*
  4. 1 medium size tomato
  5. 2 green chilies chopped into small pieces*
  6. 1/2 inch piece of ginger chopped finely
  7. 7-8 garlic cloves chopped finely
  8. 3-4 cloves
  9. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  10. 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  11. a pinch or two of asafoetida
  12. 1 teaspoon red chili powder*
  13. 3 plus 2 tablespoons desi ghee (clarified butter); little extra for serving
  14. a handful of fresh coriander leaves chopped finely

Here are the step wise instructions –

  1. Clean and soak rice and dal separately in enough water for at least 15-20 minutes
  2. In a deep heavy bottomed pot heat 3 tablespoons desi ghee (clarified butter) on low to medium heat on stove top. When the ghee is hot, reduce heat to low and add turmeric powder and asafoetida and give a quick stir. Now add cloves and saute for a minute or so till cloves leave their smell.
  3. Drain the water from rice and dal; save for further use. Add rice and then dal to the tempering and stir to mix. Keep stirring this mixture till you see that rice is turning pink. Be careful and do not burn rice and dal.
  4. Pour the water used for soaking dal and rice; add more water as needed* (refer notes). Add red chili powder, half of chopped green chilies and salt and mix. Increase heat to maximum and let the mixture boil. Cover with lid keeping a little space to let escape the steam and reduce heat to low again. Keep checking the rice and dal to see if its cooked and stir occasionally to avoid sticking or burning of the khichdi. Also, try to mash khichdi a little every time you stir.
  5. While the khichdi is cooking, add remaining 2 tablespoon ghee in a frying pan. Heat the ghee and then add cumin seeds, finely chopped garlic and saute till it starts turning golden brown. Now add finely chopped ginger, reserved green chilies, and chopped tomato and cook till tomato becomes soft and start breaking down.
  6. Add this tomato and spice mixture to the pot of khichdi and mix thoroughly. At this stage, do a taste test and add red chili powder and salt if needed. Let khichdi and tomato mixture cook together for 3-4 minutes or till the khichdi reaches your desired consistency – we want khichdi to be mushy and soft – we don’t want to dry out all the water.
  7. Serve hot with a dollop of desi ghee, pickle and papad. Enjoy!

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Notes:

  1. You can use any type of rice, I used Surati kolam but I would highly recommend Ambemohor
  2. I have given a loose measurement for dal. I usually use dal in 1/2 proportion to that of rice – so for one cup of rice I would use 1/2 cup dal.
  3. The quantity of water depends on how thick or thin you want your khichdi to be. With the quantity I have specified it makes khichdi just thin enough (but not runny). Adjust the water as per your liking but I would suggest at least 2 and 1/2 times that of total quantity of dal and rice.
  4. Use green chilies and red chili powder as per your taste preferences. The quantity used here along with quantity of ginger makes the recipe quite hot. If you prefer less heat, reduce the use of all three.

Happy cooking~

Prajakta

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Baking| My Red Velvet Birthday Cake!!

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Who bakes their own birthday cake?! Well, I did and it was super fun! 🙂

Red velvet cake is one of my favorites…I first tasted this beauty when I was in the USA. Cakes and cheesecakes were one of the best part of my days in the States! Also, I was exposed to cream cheese frosting for the first time and boy, I love it!!!

So, it was one of the top choices for my birthday; and because I have tried baking this once (while in the US; using a cake mix) I was at least somewhat confident of baking this again…

This time however, I used this recipe from The Cake Merchant. Natasha made cupcakes using this recipe; however she mentioned that it can be made into a 8″ round cake too. I did turn this recipe into an 8″ round cake with butter and cream cheese frosting also adapted from that she used.

The cake turned out to be super moist and just sweet enough. However, the frosting is on a more sweeter side – that’s what my husband said when he took his first bite! But, the taste really lingers on – the frosting is totally velvety smooth!

I made this cake and frosted it on Friday while my birthday was on Saturday – and I am still grabbing a slice. The cake is equally moist on day 3 and I feel the taste has matured than the first day. I also kept the frosting simple – just spreading it on top and sides of the cake…I am still to practice my piping skills…however the frosting can definitely be used to pipe and decorate the cake as per your liking… 😉

Oh yes, one more thing – this recipe uses red food color for the cake. There are ways to eliminate the artificial food color and using beetroots to color your cake; but due to lack of time and patience I used the color here. I have read many recipes using beetroots to this use and definitely want to try that out. I will let you know the results if I do try 🙂

This red velvet cake is a one bowl recipe -just what I needed for my birthday! Who wants to do the dishes after baking anyway? 😉

Here is how I made this cake-

What you will need~

  1. 11/4 cups all purpose flour
  2. 3/4 cups granulated white sugar
  3. 11/2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  4. 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
  5. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  6. 1 large egg
  7. 3/4 cups neutral tasting oil (such as canola, sunflower)
  8. 1/2 cup buttermilk
  9. little less than 1 ounce red food color
  10. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  11. 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  12. Oil or butter for the pan

Step wise instructions~

Most importantly keep all the ingredients ready. Egg, buttermilk and lemon juice have to be at room temperature.

Also, grease sides and bottom of one 8″ pan with oil or butter and keep aside.

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C i.e. 350 F
  2. Sift the flour to break any lumps in a big steel/glass bowl, add sugar, sift in the cocoa powder, soda and salt. Mix with a wire whisk to incorporate everything together (I prefer sifting even soda and salt)
  3. Add the egg, buttermilk, food color, vanilla extract and lemon juice in that order. Mix using a electric hand mixer on low to medium speed or with hand using a wire whisk until wet ingredients are well incorporated into the dry ingredients and you don’t see any streaks of flour mixture. This will take about 4-5 minutes
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake at 180 degrees C for 35 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 170 C (325 F) and bake for another 8-10 minutes. Check if the cake is done by inserting a wooden skewer into the middle of the cake. Also, the cake should pull from the edges (as you can see in one of the pictures).
  5. Remove the pan from oven and let it cool in the pan for about 20 minutes. Remove cake from the pan onto a cooling rack and let the cake cool completely before frosting.
  6. Cut the cake horizontally in two layers of approximately same height. Place the cake on a dish or cake board and put a small drop of frosting in the middle. Place the bottom layer of the cake, spread the frosting to desired thickness. Put the top layer and cover with frosting. Also frost the sides.
  7. Keep the frosted cake refrigerated. Take out the cake around half an hour or 15 minutes before cutting/serving. Always clean the knife after each slice to avoid tagging rest of the cake with red cake crumbs.

For the frosting you will need~

  1. 1/2 cup butter (at room temperature)
  2. 1/2 cup or less (depending on how sweet you want your cake) icing sugar (powdered sugar)
  3. 180 grams cream cheese (at room temperature)

Step wise instructions~

  1. Take the butter in a large bowl and beat on low to medium speed till light in color about 2 minutes (using an electric hand mixer)
  2. Add cream cheese and beat on low speed for a minute till butter and cheese is mixed together for about minute or so.
  3. Add the icing sugar and beat on very slow speed. If you beat it on medium or high speed, chances are that the icing sugar will be everywhere – so it is important to beat on very low speed (and also using really large bowl). Beat on low speed until sugar is incorporated with the butter and cheese mixture. Increase the speed gradually from medium to high and keep beating until smooth and fluffy.
  4. Frost the cooled cake and serve!

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Red velvet cake_10Oct-001I also made this cute banner at home to decorate my cake 🙂

Do share this recipe with your friends and family if you liked it! And do let me know if you tried it – I would love to hear back from you!

Happy cooking,

Prajakta