Thursday, February 21, 2013

Chirer Pulao aka Poha(flattened rice)

While BS reads mostly the series and books popular here, I do try to get books from India like  Tulika books, Amar Chitra Kathas and such when my Mother is visiting. Folk tales are sometimes retold by me or the dad and I must admit, that does not happen too often. Often I don't remember the folktales in their entirety and I forget the nuances, which takes away the fun.

Chitra Banerjee Divakurani's new book for kids tells the story of a Bengali folk lore I have grown up with. I vaguely remember the rhyme that went with the old lady who was on an adventure, traveling in the gourd
"Lau gor gor, Lau gor gor"
"Buri jabe koto dur ?" 

More about the book is here:

GRANDMA AND THE GREAT GOURD by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, illustrated by Susy Pilgrim Waters (Roaring Brook Press/ A Neal Porter Book, 978-1-59643-378-6, $17.99, March 5, 2013, ages 5 to 8)

·         Once upon a time, in a little village in India, there lived an old woman. Everyone in the village called her Grandma. One day, Grandma received a letter from her daughter, who lived on the other side of the jungle. "Please come and visit me," said the letter. "I haven't seen you in so long. I miss you." And so, Grandma begins a perilous journey to the far side of the jungle.  Can she use her keen wit to escape the jungle animals and make it safely home?
·         Chitra Divakaruni's sharp, rhythmic retelling of this Bengali folktale is complimented perfectly by Susy Pilgrim Waters's brightly colored, captivating illustrations.
·         Chitra Divakaruni's first book in the Brotherhood of the Conch series, The Conch Bearer, was a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year, and a Booklist Editors' Choice. She currently lives in Texas.
·         Susy Pilgrim Waters is an illustrator, designer, and painter. Susy lives in Boston with her husband, Keith, their dog, Tillie, two cats, and two bunnies. They have two grown children.

The book will be in the stores by March and can be pre-ordered on Amazon. I am going to get a copy for my girls for sure.

Now to the Chirer Pulao which I made on Monday and served as School Lunch for Tuesday. It is a simple lunch and also pretty tasty. You can add your own stuff to this depending on what your child prefers. I skipped the peanuts because this was for school and the coriander garnish is not something BS prefers. I also did not add any green chillies which I have mentioned in the recipe.

Chire or Poha is flattened rice and you can buy it from the Indian stores. Remember to buy only thick poha for this dish. 

Chirer Pulao or Poha


Cook 1/4 cup of steel cut oats in boiling water for 6-8 minutes. The oat should be cooked but have a bite. Once cooked drain on a sieve and rinse out the starch with cold water

Chop 2 small potatoes along the length or small cubes. Chop 1 carrot in small cubes. Defrost 1/4th cup of  green peas

Chop half of an medium sized onion. Peel and chop 1" knob of ginger in julienne

Fry a handful of raw peanuts till brown and crunchy. I skipped this for school.

Keep 1 cup of thick poha ready. We are going to soak it soon.

Start making the Chirer Pulao

Heat Olive Oil in a fry pan.

Saute the potatoes with a sprinkle of turmeric till they are golden brown. Remove and keep aside.

Temper the oil with 1/2 tsp of Mustard seeds and 1 dry red  chilli

When the spices pop, add the onion and saute till soft and pink. Throw in the 2 green chilli chopped in rounds and ginger if using.

Next add the carrots and green peas. Saute and then cover to let the vegetables cook.

When the carrot is almost done, add the potatoes and finish cooking them.

While the veggies are cooking do this:
Take a sieve
Put 1 cup of poha/chire on the sieve
Now hold the sieve under running water and soak the chire until they are soft.
You can also soak the poha in water directly but I often end up with soggy poha that way. The sieve and running water helps me control the exact softness I want in my chire

Once the veggies are cooked, add the soaked poha/chire to the frying pan. Add salt to taste and toss the poha so that the vegetables and the poha are nicely mixed. Add the cooked oats and mix well. Add a tsp of sugar and cook the whole thing for a few minutes. Taste and adjust for seasonings.

At the very end add juice of about half a lime and mix. Garnish with fried peanuts and chopped coriander.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Pasta with Roasted Peppers, Greens and Ricotta

For tomorrow's school lunch I made this Pasta with Ricotta inspired by this recipe in NY Times. I added roasted sweet peppers, garlic and a a pinch of Garam Masala to jazz it up. The ricotta gave a very creamy texture to the dish though I used much less than the recommended amount for ricotta

1. Cook Pasta according to package directions. I used Farfalle for today's dish.

2. While pasta is cooking, roast about 5-6 sweet peppers. To roast, halve the peppers, toss in olive oil and  salt and then bake at 300-350F till you see the skin softens and chars a bit.

2. While draining reserve a little of the Pasta water. Toss the Pasta with olive oil and proceed with next steps.

3. Heat Olive Oil in a pan.

4. Add 1 fat clove of garlic minced. When you get the flavor of garlic add the spinach and let it wilt. I used a fistful of baby spinach

5.Next add the roasted sweet peppers. Add about 1 tbsp of some kind of pasta sauce. If you don't have pasta sauce then add maybe some ketchup or tomato paste. If using tomato paste you might have to cook the paste before you add the pasta.

6. Add the cooked pasta and toss it nicely with whatever is in the pan.

7. In a separate bowl add 1/4th cup of Ricotta cheese(I used 3 tbsp of Ricotta but felt more would have been good), a pinch of Garam Masala and little of the pasta water. Mix to make a thick creamy sauce. Add this to the pasta and toss the pasta and veggies in the sauce. Check for seasonings and then switch off the heat.

BS is reading a lot of books in the 39 Clues series. She also read Anne of Green Gables and Swiss Family Robinson.