Feb 15, 2012

Oil-Free Lime Vermicelli (Sevai)

Sevai is the quintessential Tamil breakfast. I don't know where it originated from but its probably made at least once a week in Tamil homes. It's a light noodle snack that is usually served with coconut chutney and even Sambar (a spicy squash, vegetable and lentil soup).

What's so special about the one I made? Well, it's completely devoid of refined oil. Why? For one, the word 'refined' should be a clue. Apart from the fact that it is a processed food, it is completely unnecessary in our diet. We all need essential fatty acids since our bodies don't synthesize them but we are wrong to think that we need it or get it from refined oils. We can get the same from whole nuts, seeds and leafy vegetables. Think of it this way: One teaspoon of peanut oil comes from two cups of peanuts. I'm sure I won't be able to eat two cups of peanuts, but one teaspoon of oil (and more) will easily go into any food I cook. When we refine foods, specially oils, it involves removing fiber, other essential vitamins and also heating them. Once heated, oils should ideally not be heated again because they become carcinogenic. The best oils to use are cold pressed oils but again they are devoid of much of the nutrition they are supposed to have. Also many people have successfully reversed Diabetes and Heart Disease by eliminating all animal foods and refined foods like maida, oils, fried stuff, sugar from their diet. You won't know unless you try it.

So in my daily cooking I avoid heating oils. I temper the spices on a dry pan and I cook onions and tomatoes in water. If I made it for you, you wouldn't be able to tell there wasn't any oil in it. But if you made it for yourself, you might feel that there is something lacking. It's all in the head!

This breakfast recipe is pretty much the same as any South Indian would make it, just that it is completely devoid of refined oil. I used store bought rice vermicelli but you can use brown rice or even ragi vermicelli to make it healthier.

Serves 3-4

1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds (rai)
1/2 teaspoon urad dal
1 teaspoon roasted chana dal
2 green chillis chopped
1/2 inch piece of ginger
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/4 teaspoon asafoetida (hing)
1 small pack of rice vermicelli (about 180gms), cooked as per instructions
2 tablespoons roasted peanuts
Juice of 1 big lime
Chopped Coriander to garnish

In a hot wok, add in the mustard seeds, urad dal, chana dal and stir it around till the mustard seeds splutter and the urad and chana dals being to brown. Add in the chillis and ginger and a teaspoon or two of water to prevent them from burning. Add the turmeric and asafoetida and stir. If you require more water add a teaspoon at a time. Once the turmeric is incorporated, add the cooked vermicelli and mix it well till it is an even yellow. If it dries out, add a little water. Add the salt and peanuts. Take it off the stove and then add the lemon juice and mix it well.  Garnish with coriander and serve hot.

Feb 5, 2012

Peanut Butter Pillows or Heaven in a bite

Sometimes I indulge and most times it's by coming up with recipes I think up before I go to bed. Then I will dream that I'm in Charlie's (Vegan) Chocolate Factory and Johnny Depp is baking the most delicious looking things for me. Sigh. This recipe I did not dream up, but dreamed of a lot. It's a recipe I had bookmarked a long time ago because it involves mixing my two favourite things, chocolate and peanut butter.

Every time I stole this cookie from my fridge I wanted to pinch myself for giving in again. I am trying to reverse my cavities and the progress so far has been pretty good. I don't feel immense pain when I eat something sweet and that's only because I have stayed away from the good stuff (refined, sugary and fried food).  It's hard to stop eating sweet specially because I bake mostly sweet stuff and I have to keep tasting batters and frosting which then starts the whole craving sugar cycle. But this cookie will destroy all resolutions. It can be made healthier and may be one day I will dare to try it again. Whoever got a few of these cookies finished it all within the hour. 

This recipe is an adaption of Terry Hope Romero's recipe for Peanut Butter Chocolate Pillows which I found on the Post Punk Kitchen's website. The instructions are the same with a few changes I made, like making the peanut butter from scratch and using whole wheat instead of maida.
1/2 cup any neutral oil
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 tablespoons non-dairy milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
2 tablespoons black cocoa or more cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup roasted peanuts
1/2 tsp salt

2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons non-dairy milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large mixing bowl combine oil, sugar, non-dairy milk and vanilla extract and mix until smooth. Sift in flour, cocoa powder, black cocoa if using, baking soda and salt. Mix to form a moist dough.

To make the peanut butter, put the roasted peanuts in a grinder jar and grind it. Stop after the sound changes to scrape the sides off. Continue the grinding process and stop at intervals  of about 20 seconds to scrape the sides. Do it till you get a creamy peanut butter (takes less than 5 minutes). Add salt and proceed to make the filling.

In another mixing bowl beat together peanut butter, confectioner’s sugar, 2 tablespoons non-dairy milk and vanilla extract to form a moist but firm dough. If peanut butter dough is too dry, stir in remaining tablespoon of non-dairy milk. If dough is too wet knead in a little extra powdered sugar.

Preheat oven to 350°F and grease your baking tray.

Shape the cookies. Create the centers of the cookies by rolling the peanut butter dough into 24 balls. Scoop a generous tablespoon of chocolate dough, flatten into a disc and place a peanut butter ball in the center. Fold the sides of the chocolate dough up and around the peanut butter center and roll the chocolate ball into an smooth ball between your palms. Place on a sheet of waxed paper and repeat with remaining doughs. If desired gently flatten cookies a little, but this is not necessary (I did flatten them).

Place dough balls on lined baking sheets about 2 inches apart and bake for 10 minutes. Remove sheet from oven and let cookies for 5 minutes before moving to a wire rack to complete cooling. 

Store it in the fridge. They are nicer when they are warm and they tend to become softer cookies as days go by. So you can heat up the oven and warm them for about 5 or 7 minutes before you eat them again.

This is going over to the #chocolatelove bloghop, being co-hosted by Richa @ HobbyandMore and so many other wonderful bloggers. 
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