Friday

Chekkalu



Am trying to think of the perfect senaga pappu chekkalu that will not be toooo unhealthy :) We bought some a couple of weeks back, and since then have been craving for some home-made action! So, looked up the recipes from amma and attha for ideas, and merged them with ideas from the ingredient list on the bag, and lets see how it goes from there! Thanks Dr Armstrong! Didnt know retrosynthesis would come in this handy!!! Will keep you posted step by step on this one!

Ingredients:
Rice Flour: 4 cups
Ginger: 4 inch piece
Green Chilies: 10
Chana dal: 3/4 cup (Senagapappu)
Boiled potato: 2 medium (I used russet)
Besan: 1/2 cup (senagapindi/ Gram flour)
Peanuts: Roasted: halved: 1/2 cup
Peanuts: Roasted: powdered: 1/2 cup
Curry Leaves: 6 to 8 sprigs, leaves torn to small pieces
Dried coconut powder: 1 tbsp
Cumin seeds: 1 tbsp, crushed
Ajwain: 1 tsp, crushed (vaamu, carom seeds)
Ghee or butter: 1 tsp
Hot water: to make thick dough
Salt: 2 tsp (adjust according to taste)
Chili powder: 2 tsp (adjust according to taste)
Olive oil: Enough to fry in

Method:

Soak the chana dal in water for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

In a small saucepan, without adding any oil, on a low flame, saute 1 cup peanuts till creamish or light brown.Grind half the peanuts to powder, preferably fine.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the following ingredients: 4 cups rice flour, 1/2 cup gram flour (dont add more, it will make the chekkalu soft!), salt and chili powder.

In a microwave safe bowl, add 2 peeled chopped potatoes. Cover with water till the potatoes are completely submerged. Microwave on high for 5 to 6 minutes (may var based on individual microwave). The potatoes should be completely mashable. Reserve the hot water for mixing the dough.

Grind the green chilies and ginger with a small amount of water till a soft paste.

Crush the cumin seeds and ajwain seeds lightly. Also break the peanuts to smaller pieces.

Add crushed cumin, ajwain seeds, coconut powder, 1 tsp ghee, mashed potatoes, peanuts, ghee, torn curry leaves and soaked chana dal to the flour mix. Add the hot water and knead well to form a thick dough (like puri dough)

Layer an aluminium foil on the countertop. Lubricate the foil with a few drops of oil. Have some oil handy for lubricating the foil again if need arises. Use a rolling pin if necessary, but ideally try to made small flat rounds of about 2.5 inch diameter with the tips of your fingers. Make sure the centers are thin too!Deep fry in heated oil on a low flame till the chekkalu are brown.Store in an air tight box to enjoy!!!!!



This recipe made about 100 chekkalu. Just ate a bunch of them, and they taste pretty good! I think the chili garlic paste and the peanut powder made a big difference to the taste.

Caution:
If peanuts are not crushed to small pieces, it will make rolling out the chekkalu hasslesome.
If you prefer crispier chekkalu, reduce the amount of besan further.
Do not let the dough sit for more than 2 to 3 hours, it will make the chekkalu absorb more oil, and will also result in softer chekkalu.

As it is difficult to determine the nutritional informtion of chekkalu, I will try and get the nutritional information off a store bought version and publish it here as soon as possible.

Thursday

Indian Spices

I am forever amazed when I read about recent studies stating the numerous health benefits of spices commonly used in Indian cooking. I wonder what made our ancestors know these spices were really good for us?

Some interesting things I read in regarding common spices used in Indian cooking:

Dalchini (or dalchin chekka or cinnamon sticks) and lavanga (or cloves):

"Two related studies have shown that cinnamon and cloves can reduce the risk factors for diabetes and heart disease up to 30%" (Times, December 04th, 2006)

One study performed by the Beltsville Human Research Center, Maryland stated that consumption of 1g, 2 or 6g of cinnamon caused a reduction in blood glucose levels, LDL levels (bad cholesterol) and also total cholesterol levels in people suffering from Type 2 diabetes without affecting the levels of HDL (good cholesterol).
Link to the abstract
Link to another study by the same group about similar benefits in cloves

Ginger:

Each time I complained of a cold, my mother used to tell me, "have some hot ginger tea!" Imagine my surprise when I came across an article which lead me to numerous studies correlating ginger powder and inflammation! Ginger powder has been suggested to be an effective agent useful in reducing symptoms of nausea (pregnancy related, post-operative, motion sickness, chemotherapeutic) and inflammation (example: arthritis).
Link to a paper presented in a journal about ginger
Link to abstract

Tuesday

Washing your Veggies

Winter's here!!!! Well, wanted to post some very important information about washing vegetables with hot water (I know how tempting that sounds in this cold weather!)
Well, there are two things to consider while washing vegetables with hot water:

The first thing to remember is that Vitamins B and C dissolve in water, so on prolonged washing of vegetables with water, or even washing for short periods with hot water may effectively remove the vitamins. This is important especially for green leafy vegetables.

The second very important thing to consider is plumbing. Yes, you read that right! Plumbing. Older pipes contain lead in them. Lead has a very unique property. It is insoluble in cold water but dissolves in hot water. Lead is a carcinogen and is extremely toxic. So, each time you wash your vegetables, or for that matter, use hot water from the faucet to cook, remember, there is a strong possibility that you have some lead in there!!!!! If you are one of the lucky few who has new lead free plumbing, you can definitely use hot water from the faucet to cook, but remember, vitamins still dissolve better in hot water than cold!

Some interesting reads:
Lead poisoning and plumbing info sheet
Drinking water and Lead

The Colors of Health

The Colors of Health