Sprouted Mung and Pomegranate Salad + Magazine subscriptions {10} GIVEAWAY

Sprouted Mung and Pomegranate Salad with grated coconut and Pink salt

mung sprouts pom salad

I know. The entire blogging world is displaying cakes, cookies and desserts of the best kinds and here I chose to speak about a salad, right? But lately, this is what I have been making a lot of, thanks to pomegranates being available in the stores in truck loads. Besides, Mr. K (that’s one of his endearments) loves when I pack this salad for his lunch. Handy lunch according to him, along with a bottle of protein shake to wash it down with. BTW, quite a many years back, this salad was on my wedding menu as well. That’s a food memory story I promise to share another day.

Wait. There’s more to this post. Something that might get you excited about! Continue reading

Cranberry Thokku

Savory Cranberry relish, South Indian style

cranberry thokku

Its been three years now and I can say that Thanksgiving has become a part and parcel of our holiday tradition. The spirit of the holiday season is so strong, it simply seems worthless to resist.

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Raspberry Tukmaria Meyer Lemonade

Raspberry Meyer Lemonade with Sweet Basil seeds and Brown Sugar

Ever since I discovered them early last year, I’ve fallen head over heels in love with them. They are without a doubt, a thing of beauty in themselves, in their vibrant color, dainty ambrosial aroma and a sweeter, quaint citrus taste.

An infinitesimal inhalation of their fragrance is enough to freshen one up. I am confessing my love (yet again) for none other than the golden offspring of lemon and (presumably) mandarin orange, the exotic sunshine fruit of california, Meyer Lemons.

If you give them a tiny chance in your kitchen, surely, you will too!

Be forewarned though, once you are hooked on to their ethereal perfume and resplendent looks, don’t blame me, if you start looking down upon the regular “run off the mill” lemons for which I will only respond with “I told you so..

I’d say, when life hands you Meyer Lemons, life is beautiful..

Though these lemony beauties peak in winter, sometimes if you are lucky, you might find them in Whole Foods up until end of April or early May, like I did last year.

So, lose no time to revel in their goodness now.. So, if you have a backyard, a tiny garden, or even a balcony, just spare the much ignored corner for a meyer lemon tree for a long lasting gratification..

With spring gone in the first couple of weeks of its arrival, April afternoons already feel more like a trailer of blazing summer from June, where I live in Texas. Don’t even get me thinking on what August might have in store!

While making lemonade out of Meyer Lemons was the most fool proof idea to cool off, like I made Meyer Lemon Paanaka in Indian style last summer, this time, it seemed fascinating to combine it with the natural pink of raspberries and some fun textured Tukmaria for an almost dreamy, amber colored cooling drink I could ever imagine.

Forget herbs or spices to flavor, if you allow the perfumania of meyer lemons to steal the show!

My discovery of Tukmaria (pronounced “Took-maria”) was through my mom-in-law when she came to visit us last year. While we walked the aisles of the Indian grocery store in exploration of new spices, I was intrigued by its strange sounding name. And it was from her, I learnt that it is used most commonly in Falooda (a persian dessert, introduced to India by the Mughals) and that it is a natural coolant as well.After some time consuming research (aka googling), I also learnt that, Tukmaria (in Hindi) is the seed of the Sweet Basil plant also known as St. John’s wort in European countries. It is not the same as Holy basil or Tulsi, though it looks similar.

And, through a friend, I realized that sweet basil is the same as “Kaama Kasturi” (kannada) – the sweet clove scented fragrant sprig many-a-times inter sewn in jasmine (mallige) or jaaji floral strings and garlands. Those of you from Karnataka might recognize instantly. I don’t recollect any culinary use for it though, I’ve heard it to be a medicinal herb.

And, they are sold under many a names like sabja, subja, tukmaria, takmaria and falooda seeds

This site has some detailed information about the plant.

Sweet basil seeds resemble black sesame seeds in color and tear drop shape, but are clearly distinguishable as they are a wee bit smaller and plumper too. When soaked in water, they swell up and appear to be frog spawn look-a-likes. Pardon my choice for analogy, being a vegetarian! They can be compared to tiny tapioca pearls, if it gives you a better idea.

They do not have any distinct taste of their own, but their slimy jelly exterior and the nutty bite of the interior make them quite fun in a mouthful!

If you can’t find Tukamaria/Sweet basil seeds, Chia seeds make a great substitute. Why, they swell in water very much like basil seeds and they are an antioxidant powerhouse as we know it, which makes me wonder if Sweet basil seeds must be equally potent too?

Have you heard of Tukmaria before? How do you like to use Tukmaria in your recipes?

Raspberry Tukmaria Meyer Lemonade Recipe

makes 4 small glasses of lemonade
Printable Recipe

Things you’ll need:

4 meyer lemons
12 raspberries
1 tbsp tukmaria/ sweet basil seeds
6-7 tbsp brown sugar
3 cups water
a pinch of salt

How it’s done:

Soak the takmaria seeds in 1/2 cup water for about 30 mins.

In the meanwhile, wash, cut and squeeze the meyer lemons. Gently rolling the lemons wrapped in a tissue under the feet puts the right amount of pressure and makes most of the juice available for squeezing. If you aren’t comfortable, do so with your palm. Wash the lemons well before using.

It will be nothing short of a blunder if you discard the meyer lemon peels. If you’ll take my words, find a clean, dry jar (glass or porcelain, canning, anything), quarter the used peels and toss them in. layer them with sea salt and preserve to be used as is or pickled later.

Strain the seeds. Transfer the juice to a sauce pan or microwave safe bowl and add brown sugar to the juice. Add a pinch of salt. Either microwave for 30 secs or heat on stove top on sim for a few minutes until sugar dissolves. This will be quick. Stir well with a spoon to dissolve any remaining sugar.

Add 2-1/2 cups of water to the sugar syrup and stir to mix well. Taste the juice to adjust the sugar. I listed 6-7 tbsp sugar, so you can suit to your taste. 6 tbsp leaves a quaint tartness, while 7 tbsp makes it sweeter.

Wash the raspberries and pat dry. In a small bowl, crush them with the back of a spoon or with your fingers. Add some juice to this and wash off the crushed raspberries into the juice bowl. Add some juice to the soaked tukmaria and wash it off into the juice bowl. Stir to mix well.

Refrigrate and serve chilled.

Note: 

Tukmaria is available in most Indian grocery stores, persian food stores and world food markets.

The amber color of the lemonade is mainly due to the use of brown sugar. White sugar might result in a faint pink lemonade.

For those of you who can’t access tukmaria locally, it is available at myspicesage.com

Don’t see why strawberries can’t be substituted for raspberries. Puree strawberries before mixing.

If you decide to preserve the meyer lemon peels, it is preferable to sit the jars in boiling water for sterilization and let them dry completely before use.

Treat yourself to more:

  

Maavina Hannu Seekarane

Mango Pulp in Jaggery sweetened Cardamom Coconut Milk

Is it that time of the year, already? Talk about March madness.. means different things to different people..isn’t it?

March brings in the onset of spring, a thing of beauty and joy forever… It is also the time when the Indian Summer bears fruit. Not something ordinary, but the king of fruits – the one and only Mango. And this is exactly the time of the year, I want to be nowhere else, than in India and my hometown Bengalooru (and Mysore), to gorge on these luscious juicy beauties by the basket full. Well, at least I wish!

When I am just left with wishing, I run to the nearest Sam’s and buy a box full of Ataulfo mangoes, fill them in a brown bag, put them in the darkest corner of the laundry room and wait for them to ripen. After a couple of days when they’re ready, I ‘try’ to satiate my mango cravings with these fully ripe, not so flavorful, not as juicy and not quite sweet ‘mango look a likes’ of Indian mangoes…


Eating a mango is more than just delicious, it is pure fun – licking the juice running down the palm or squishing the pulp off the seed to leave no trace of the fruit on it are some of the few times when messy is good! And that is how I always love to eat them..

But, once in a while, when I need a little extra with minimal sophistication, I love this simple Seekarane desert recipe. This is as close a desert can get to real fruit. This recipe needs no selling. The ingredients do all the talking for themselves.

Seekarane or Rasayana is a traditional dessert prepared by squeezing ripe mangoes to pulp, may be due to the lack of mixer/grinders in that era. Even with the latest kitchen gadgets today, I wouldn’t change a thing about how it is made. That’s just me, I guess!

Oh, I almost forgot to tell you, Maavina Hannu is Mango in Kannada btw..

So, what is your favorite mango dessert?

Maavina Hannu Seekarane Recipe

Printable Recipe
Things you’ll need:

4 small-medium ripe mangoes, preferably juicy
3/4 cup freshly grated coconut
3/4 cup water
2 small cubes or abt 4 tbsp grated jaggery (preferably dark variety)
4-5 cardamom pods

Other:

grater
mortar & pestle

How it’s done:

For the mango pulp:

This part can be a little messy, but it is all worth it. Traditionally, most of this is done by squishing the mango to a pulp, by hand. We’ll get some help from the grater though.

Wash the mangoes well and pat dry. Slice off the top at the stalk. Cut off the cheeks on either sides of the mango first. Remove the skin off the seed. Using the grater, grate the fruit off the seed or just squish the seed with your hand until all the fruit is off the seed. I prefer doing this way as there is minimum wastage of fruit.

Halve the cheeks or quarter them with the skin intact, depending on your convenience for grating. Grate the fruit to get all the pulp out of the skin. Do not hesitate to get any remaining fruit either with a spoon or your trusty fingers. Repeat with all the mangoes. Once all the pulp is extracted, give it a nice stir or squish to get a uniform consistency. Taste the mangoes for sweetness.

For the coconut milk:

Blend the freshly grated with a little water to a smooth paste. Add the remaining water to this, stir to mix well and strain the coconut milk. If using frozen coconut, thaw first and use warm water for blending so that the fat does not separate. Refrigerate the remaining strained coconut to be used later in cooking.

Mix Coconut milk with the mango pulp. Grate jaggery into this, less or more depending on the sweetness of the mangoes.

In a mortar, smash the cardamom pods with the pestle and pry the seeds out with your fingers. Save the skin for later for flavoring tea or water. Smash the cardamom seeds first and crush them back and forth with the pestle for a fine powder. Sprinkle generously, not too much though.

Give it a good stir and serve as soon as possible. Tastes best when fresh.  This dessert gets ready in a jiffy. Explaining how to do seems more tedious than the actual doing.

Note

Jaggery can be substituted by brown sugar, but the depth and flavor of Jaggery cannot be. Other mexican unrefined sugars like Pillonchillo or Succanat may come a tad closer than sugar.

Jaggery is available in Indian stores. Always look for unbleached Jaggery

Freshly grated coconut works best, if not, thawed, frozen coconut works just fine if you are not too particular.

Fresh coconut milk is the star of this recipe. If you would rather save yourself the trouble of making it from scratch (which isn’t too difficult), you could use canned coconut milk. I won’t promise great results.

Milk can be substituted for coconut milk and this variation comes out well too.

Raspuri mangoes are best suited for this recipe. In its absence, Alphonso works well. I’ve used Mexican Ataulfo mangoes (that’s the best I can get here) and they are fully ripe when wrinkled and golden yellow.

If you’d rather not get your hands messy, you could blend the cut up mango pieces instead. Blending makes a juice out of the pulp though and doesn’t quite result in a hand squished consistency.

Treat yourself to more: