Bachelor-friendly, Breakfast, Everyday Simple Recipes, Kerala Recipes, Vegan

Pazhanganji – Cooked Rice Soaked Overnight – A Nutrient-Dense Breakfast

Pazhanganji / pazhaya soru / cooked rice soaked overnight in water is one of the most unlikely food item to be discussed at a buffet lunch. Yet, I found myself discussing this bland, old, but nutritionally rich food while surrounded by a variety of high-calorie food that are not necessarily healthy for the body. Pazhanganji – an item that is considered poor man’s food, unfit to be offered to guests, and reserved to be given off to the house maid. At a time when refrigerators were uncommon, pazhanganji was an inevitable item. Every night, some water would be poured over leftover rice and would be kept aside. This would get slightly fermented overnight and nutritionally rich with gut-friendly bacteria. Nowadays because every house is equipped with a refrigerator, this practice is nonexistent.

It takes foreigners (especially Americans) to research our old practices and publish papers on their benefits for us to realize the wisdom of our ancestors. Now that the American Nutrition Association says that the previous day’s soaked rice is the best for breakfast as it gets enriched with iron, potassium and calcium by several hundred percentage points, we get convinced and can get back our eating habits. What surprised me was that such rice (unpolished) soaked overnight is a source for the rare B6 and B12 vitamins. Amazing! These are not easily available, especially for vegetarians and vegans. Apart from the internal benefits, this diet also helps maintain a youthful and radiant look! Internal as well as external benefits. What more does one want?

There is no recipe for pazhanganji. Just add cooked rice to a vessel, ideally an earthenware pot. Add water to this just enough to soak the rice. Keep it closed overnight in the corner of your kitchen.
In the morning, you can add sliced shallots/onion, green chilies, or tiny pieces of ginger to this along with salt, mix well and have it. If you are using an earthenware for your pazhankanji, it would be cool to touch and taste. After you consume it, your stomach would feel cool from inside. (Unlike ice cream that is cool to touch but induces heat inside your body) You may have pazhanganji along with a pickle, thick chutney/chammanthi/thogayal, or with papad or vathal/kondattams. The right way to have pazhanganji is to use your right hand to mix the rice and water well, tilt the pot to drink the water first and then have the rice with chammanthi. Enjoy the immense health benefits of going back to the roots.

Chutneys/Thogayals/Dips/Podis, Everyday Simple Recipes, Kerala Recipes, Vegan

Kerala Style Jaathikka Chammanthi/Raw Nutmeg Chutney

Chammanthi (not to be confused with the types of usual chutneys served with dosa and idli) is a Kerala-style thick chutney that makes a good accompaniment with rice or with kanji (rice gruel). Unlike dosa chutneys that are smooth and liquidy, chammanthis are coarsely ground. Nutmeg – a spice with a pleasant aroma and a wonderful flavor – is used in this chammanthi and makes it a subtle flavored chutney with a wonderful aroma and a light tangy tone. Here are some other chammanthi varieties that I have posted earlier – Roasted coconut chammanthi and chammanthi podi.

 

Ingredients:
Matured but raw Jaathikka/Nutmeg – 1
Grated coconut – 1-1/2 cups tightly pressed
Raw green chilies – 2 – 3 (adjust to taste)
Shallots/pearl onion – 1 (optional)
Salt to taste

Preparation Time: 12 mins
Cooking Time: NA
Makes 2-1/2 cups

Method:
Wash and peel the outer skin of the nutmeg. Cut into two pieces and remove the seed which would be encased in a mace-like structure. Cut the nutmeg into smaller chunky pieces.
Use a mixer or a stone grinder to grind along all the ingredients together to make a coarse paste. Serve with rice.

Notes:

  1. You may avoid shallot and just use nutmeg, coconut, and green chilies.
  2. You could use bird’s eye chili (Kanthari variety of chili) and it would enhance the flavor of the chammanthi.
  3. You may add a small piece of ginger or garlic. I prefer the dominant raw nutmeg taste and hence do not prefer adding these.
Bachelor-friendly, Breakfast, Everyday Simple Recipes, Kerala Recipes, Snacks, South Indian, Tiffin, Vegan

Paal Kozhukattai (Steamed Rice Dumplings)

A simple and easy to make dish with just three ingredients. Good option for breakfast or evening tiffin. You will love it if you like natural uncomplicated tastes, mild flavors, and the use of minimal ingredients.

Ingredients:
Raw Rice Flour (finely powdered/Idiyappam powder) – 1 cup
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Grated coconut – 1/4 cup
Hot water – 1 cup
Salt as needed

Preparation Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 15-20 mins
Serves 2

Method:
Boil water in a pan.
Crush the cumin seeds lightly to bring out the flavor.
Take raw rice flour (I used raw red rice flour and hence the color difference), lightly crushed cumin seeds, grated coconut, and adequate amount of salt needed in a wide vessel. Add water (at boiling point) into this mixture.
Use a ladle to stir the mixture well. Ensure there are no lumps. You can use your hand later after a minute or two when the dough cools down. Make a smooth dough.
Take small amounts of this dough and make small gooseberry sized balls. Place on a plate and keep aside.


Add 2 cups of water in the heavy bottomed pan. Drop the rice balls into this boiling water.
Let it cook for 10 – 12 mins in medium heat.


You will notice that the water is thickening and the rice balls are becoming firmer.
Transfer into a bowl and serve along with the liquid.

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Notes:

  1. You can cook this in diluted cow’s milk also. I have not tried this. But I am definitely going to try cooking this in diluted coconut milk and jaggery and elaichi to make a sweet version.
  2. It is desirable to have it while hot and fresh. If using after a while, add half a cup of water and reheat.
  3. It is very similar to Ragi Mudde, the famous Kannada breakfast.
Everyday Simple Recipes, Kerala Recipes, Side Dishes, Vegan

Long Beans Stir Fry – Kerala Style

A dry vegetable side dish perfect to go with rice. You can make it with all the three vegetables suggested here, i.e. long beans, elephant yam, and raw plantain or you could cook them individually in the same method. This dish tastes best when Kerala nenthra variety of raw plantains are used but you can make it with other variety of raw bananas also. This dish used to be a favorite and a regular at my paternal ancestral home. I still remember the taste of this dish when my aunt made it. It would taste so delicious with the earthy flavors of the yam and delicate smell of the coconut oil and curry leaves. Since not many spices are used, the taste of the vegetables and the curry leaves fried in coconut oil is predominant in this dish. My aunt usually made this along with pulingari (a dish similar to sambhar) which was a much loved combo.

Ingredients:
Long beans – 200 gm
Elephant yam – 100 gm
Raw plantain (banana) – 1 medium sized
Chopped shallots / onion – 2 tbsp (optional)
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Red chili powder / Whole dry red chili – 1/2 to 3/4 tsp or 2 whole pieces
Curry leaves – 1 sprig
Coconut oil – as required
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Water- as required
Salt to taste

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 – 30 minutes
Serves: 4 to 5 people

Method:
Clean the long beans, cut the ends and chop them to 1 to 1.5-inch long pieces. For beans that are mature (you can identify this from the seeds bulging out slightly), slit them open and use only the seeds. Remove the skin of the elephant yam, wash thoroughly, and cut into 1-cm cubes. Remove the outer skin of the raw plantain and cut into small pieces. Put all the cut vegetables into a pot, add half a cup of water and turmeric powder. Cook in slow fire with a closed lid, stirring occasionally.
Once all the moisture dries up and the vegetables are tender, turn off the fire. Heat an iron kadai (this is preferred as it enhances the flavor) and pour oil.
Add mustard seeds and once they crackle, add shallots that are lightly crushed using a mortar and pestle. (you can chop the shallots / onion but I prefer crushing them lightly). Onion is optional. You may skip it also.
Saute the shallots well. Add curry leaves and chili powder. Mix well.
Add the cooked vegetables, add salt, mix well,
Reduce the flame and cook flame to low,add  turmeric powder and red chili powder.Saute for few minutes until all the moisture is absorbed and the stir fry dish is lightly roasted. Turn off the flame and serve with rice.

Bachelor-friendly, Everyday Simple Recipes, Kerala Recipes, Side Dishes, Vegan

Raw Papaya Stir Fry (Thoran)

Back home we mostly cook backyard vegetables like mango, jackfruit, raw banana, banana flower and stem, amaranth leaves, drumstick, colocasia, drumstick leaves, etc. Papaya is also commonly found and used often in the kitchen. Papaya thoran (Kerala style dry subzi) is delicious and easy to make and a great side dish to serve along with rice.

Ingredients:
Raw Papaya – 1 medium sized
Mustard seeds – ½ tsp
Split urad dal – 1 tsp
Jeera – 1/2 tsp
Garlic – 2 cloves (optional)
Green chilies – 2 – 3
Curry leaves – a few
Grated coconut – 1/4 cup
Coconut oil – 1 tbsp
Turmeric Powder – ¼ tsp
Salt to taste

Preparation Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 10 mins
Makes 2-3 cups

Method:
Wash, peel raw papaya, and grate into thin 1-inch long pieces. Keep aside.
Heat an iron skillet and add coconut oil and mustard seeds.
When mustard seeds begin to splutter, add urad dal, chopped green chilies, garlic, and curry leaves. Saute until urad dal and garlic turns golden.
Add grated papaya and turmeric powder. Mix well and close with a lid. Keep the heat on minimum. Slow cooking is ideal and retains nutrients. Do not add any water. Cook for about 7-10 mins, stirring every 1-2 mins and then closing the skillet with a lid.
When the papaya becomes soft and cooked, add salt, jeera, and grated coconut. Mix well and turn off the fire.

Kerala Recipes, Side Dishes, Vegan

Kozhuppa Cheera Thoran / Pigweed Stir Fry

A leaf with omega-3 fatty acids? Impossible! Yes, It is unbelievable but true. These soft and succulent leaves have more omega-3 fatty acids than what some fish oils have. A perfect option for a vegetarian. Pigweed / Purslane / Kozhuppa cheera is a weed like plant that grows almost everywhere, by the roadside and in backyards. This wonder weed is very low in calories and fats but rich in minerals, vitamins, and fiber. Tender stems and flower buds are also edible. Make a thoran / stir fry out of it and serve with rice. Not just nutritious but delicious too.

Ingredients:
Purslane leaves – 3 cups tightly packed
Onion – 1 small
Garlic – 1 clove
Oil – 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds – 1/4 tsp
Green chilies – 2
Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
Grated coconut – 1 tbsp
Salt to taste
Preparation Time: 15 mins
Cooking Time: 10 mins
Serves 2

Method:
Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds.
When they splutter, add the split green chilies.
Add finely chopped onion and garlic. Sauté until they turn pink.
Add chopped purslane leaves and turmeric powder. Mix well and close with a lid.
Cook in slow fire for about 5 mins stirring occasionally. The leaves will shrink and become soft and darker in color.
Turn off the fire. Add salt and grated coconut. Mix well.

Festival Recipes, Kerala Recipes, Sweets

Navara Nei Payasam – Kerala Temple Prasadam-Style Rice Kheer with Jaggery

Navara (Njavara in Malayalam) is a unique nutritional rice variety indigenous to Kerala. Like how mango is the king of fruits and almond the king of nuts, Navara is considered top class among the rice varieties for its rich aroma and medicinal properties. For centuries, Ayurvedic healers have been using Navara for its miraculous healing properties. It aids in treating skin ailments and even helps heal internal wounds. It helps build immunity against common ailments, especially during the monsoon season. Rice gruel / kanji made from Navara is safe food for diabetes and can even prevent cancer. Navara is suited for people of all ages and is a source of general wellness.

The cultivation of Navara has become rare now due to non-availability of pure seeds, low yield, and high production cost. But, a handful of farmers who have realized the value of this grain are trying to revive this precious crop. Growing Navara itself is challenging and to grow it organically, even more so. Mr. Narayana Unni of Navara Eco Farm is an award winning third generation farmer who almost single-handedly revived the organic cultivation of the medicinal Navara rice over the period of a decade. His farm, Karukamani Kalam, is spread over 12 acres and is located near the banks of Shokanashini river and Chittur college. What makes Unni ettan’s Navara unique is the purity of the seed variety as well as the organic and USDA certifications.

You can buy this special medicinal rice at ShopSwasthi, the online Indian ethnic store. ShopSwasthi is a treasure house of such precious items. What makes this online store extraordinary is their collection of rare traditional and contemporary items. For instance, one of their products bamboo wind chimes are labors of love crafted by artist Rajiv using handpicked bamboos from the Idukki rain forests and chiseled and tuned to reproduce sounds from Nature. Sitting in your drawing room, you could enjoy the calming sounds of the rain forest, woods, rains, and gentle forest streams. Unbelievable, right? Listen to it here and you will believe. Read Rajiv’s story here. The Shop Swasthi team focuses and features passionate farmers and artists such as Mr. Unni and Mr. Rajiv who are dedicated to their crafts. In this heritage and ethnic store, you can also find cereals, everyday spices, food supplements, along with traditional Indian handicrafts and artifacts. Okay, I got carried away. But, blame it on the charming sounds of the bamboo wind chimes and Mr. Unni’s story. These are not like the mass-produced items that you find at a curio store, but individually and carefully crafted pieces of art that help you re-connect to Nature.

Navara can be used to make rice gruel / kanji or to make jaggery payasam. The traditional sweet offering / prasadam / neivedyam, especially at Devi temples, are made from raw rice, jaggery, and ghee. The payasam is prepared on firewood and cooked in an uruli, a heavy brass vessel. This payasam is thicker in consistency and is a little too sweet compared to other payasams. It has lots of ghee and is supposed to be eaten only in small portions. This payasam is also called kadu madhura payasam, i.e. very sweet payasam. I have not used as much jaggery or ghee as they would ideally in a temple prasadam. You could add more, if you prefer so.

Ingredients:
Navara rice – 100gm
Jaggery – 250gm
Water – as needed
Cardamom powder- 1/2 tsp
Ghee – 3 tbsp
Chopped coconut pieces – 3 tbsp

Preparation Time: 15 mins
Cooking Time: 30 mins
Serves 7-10

Method:
Wash rice in water, add it to a cylindrical vessel. Add 3 times water to the rice. Ensure there is enough space in the vessel for rice to get cooked. Place this vessel in a pressure pan and cook 4-5 whistles. Turn off the fire after 4-5 whistles and wait for the pressure to release naturally. Rice should be cooked soft but not mushy. Since the Navara rice variety is a little hard, it would take some time to cook it to the soft consistency.
Meanwhile, as the rice gets cooked, soak jaggery in warm water (1 cup – do not make it too dilute). Heat this solution until all the jaggery pieces dissolve completely. Pass this solution through a strainer to remove impurities if any, and keep the solution aside.
Heat a heavy bottomed vessel and add the jaggery solution to this vessel. Cook in a low flame until the jaggery syrup starts bubbling and thickening. When the bubbles start reducing (a sign that the syrup is thickening), add the cooked rice.
When you add the cooked rice, the jaggery syrup gets diluted again. Mix well and cook until the rice and jaggery syrup blends together and starts to thicken. Add ghee in small quantities. Stir well.
Stir occasionally until the payasam thickens comes to a saucy consistency. Add cardamom powder and switch off.
In a small frying pan, heat a spoon of ghee and add coconut pieces chopped into small rectangular pieces. Roast the coconut pieces in ghee until they turn golden. Turn off and add the roasted coconut pieces along with the ghee into the payasam. Stir well. Delicious sharkara payasam is ready to eat.

Notes:
The sweetness of the payasam will vary based on the jaggery variety you use and the amount of molasses in that jaggery. If your jaggery variety is very sweet, you could reduce the amount of jaggery by 50 gm.
You can even add / substitute coconut pieces with cashew nut pieces roasted in ghee.
The payasam thickens when it cools down. Hence, stop cooking it when the consistency is a little dilute.
Use only raw rice (unpolished red variety is ideal) to cook the payasam.
Add the cooked rice to the jaggery syrup when the consistency of the syrup is thick. If the syrup is too dilute and then you add the cooked rice, it can take a long time to get thicker and this can harden the rice.

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