Have you tried millet uttapams? (Photos: Shalini Rajani; designed by Rajan Sharma)
“What inspires you to spend so much time in the kitchen?” asked one of my participants during a cooking workshop at Saket, New Delhi. And it was not the first time that I was asked this.
I would say my inspiration is my own mind. My kitchen is not just a space for me to cook; it is my activity centre. It is here that I cook up my ideas and nourish my dreams. Preparing to cook a meal is one thing, playing with your ingredients, equipment and appliances is something that keeps me active and creative. There is no such thing as a boring menu. Anything can be made appetising if you have played well with your set of tools.
If you are not excited enough to cook, there is something seriously wrong with your pantry and stock of ideas. I would share a few simple tips to jumpstart with your own pan and ladle. And hey! Cooking is therapy. Please don’t feel pride in mentioning that “cooking is not your cup of tea”. Whenever you get the chance , enjoy your own company in your cosy kitchen.
1. To start with, first organise your pantry as per your needs. I get a lot of inspiration from my own participants. Sometimes, they do help me with great ideas.
2. Always incorporate veggies in newer and exciting ways. The same potato can be fried, baked, roasted, grilled and boiled. As do other veggies.
3. Spices are your best friends. Take their help when you wish to switch flavours. Trust me, they will not betray you if used correctly. Instinct is a word you will learn.
4. Keep a stock of homemade chutneys, dressings, premixes and marinades ready. You may cook up a storm in no time if you have your favourite dips and dressings handy.
You can always add more tips and tricks to get out of your cooking rut. Share in the comment section below and help us know more.
Today’s recipe is an inspiration I derived from two lonely persimmons resting in my refrigerator. If you have been following my last articles, you know that I travelled to Himachal last year and picked up a few goodies on my way back. These giant persimmons needed some royal treatment before they could die in isolation. So a jam was an impromptu plan and it was nicely clubbed with Barnyard Millet Mini Uttapams (with spinach and beetroot) to call it a creative breakfast of the day.
Read more for the step-by-step recipe. Also please note, instead of persimmons, you can replicate the same recipe with plum, apple, strawberries or even guava. Whatever is seasonal in your side of the world, just cook it up and share a healthy and hearty Sunday meal with your loved ones.
Barnyard Millet Mini Uttapams
For the batter
1/2 cup urad dal/black lentils
1 1/2 cup Barnyard millet
1/2tbsp - Fenugreek seeds/Methi seeds
Water, as needed
For Mini Uttapams
1 no - Medium beetroot grated
1/2 cup - Fresh spinach leaves, finely chopped
1tsp - Green chilies, finely chopped
1tbsp - pre-roasted flaxseeds
Piri Piri spice mix
Rock salt to taste
Oil, as required
Method for the batter
Millet Uttapam while it's getting ready. (Photo: Shalini Rajani)
*Thoroughly wash and soak black lentils and fenugreek seeds in one bowl and barnyard millet in another bowl. Soak them separately for six-eight hours in enough water.
*Drain the water from both the bowls, and grind them together to a fine paste by adding optimum water.
*Cover the batter and leave it to ferment for eight-10 hours or overnight.
*Once the batter is nicely fermented, add rock salt.
*Once you are ready to make uttapams, heat a pan and carefully grease it with a few drops of oil.
*Pour a small ladle full of batter and lightly spread it to make a thick circle of not more than three-four inches. The circle should look like a fluffy pancake.
*Once a little cooked, it's time to sprinkle a few flaxseeds and place beetroot and spinach interestingly, covering as semicircles.
*Sprinkle some Piri Piri spice mix over the toppings and drizzle a little oil. Cook on medium flame by covering the pan with a lid for one minute.
*Flip when the bottom nicely turns brown.
*Serve hot with your favourite dip or jam. I served with homemade Persimmon Jam. Read more for the step-by-step recipe of Persimmon jam.
Enjoy a quick Persimmon Jam. (Photo: Shalini Rajani)
2-3 no - Ripe Persimmons
1/2 cup - Sugar
1tsp - Lemon juice
*Rinse and clean the fruits.
*Using a blender, puree them.
*Transfer the puree into a saucepan, and cook over medium-high heat. Add the sugar to it, and cook it for about eight-10 minutes, till you get thick consistency with continuous stirring.
*Add some freshly squeezed lemon juice. Cook till the texture thickens further.
*Let it cool. Try consuming it within 2-3 days.
Health benefits of Barnyard Millet and Persimmon fruit
Barnyard Millet: Nutritionally, barnyard millet is a superior grain with good amounts of macronutrients and dietary fibre. This tiny wonder grain is a good source of B-complex vitamins, is good for elders too, especially diabetic patients.
The other names of Barnyard Millet are shyama in Bengali, moraiyo in Gujarati, sanwa of Samak in Hindi, oodalu in Kannada, kuthiraivolly in Tamil and udalu in Telugu.
The yellow-orange Persimmon fruit is an excellent source of fibre, Vitamin A and C, Vitamin B6, potassium and the mineral manganese. Persimmons are fat-free and are a good source of healthy carbohydrates and natural sugar.
Shalini Rajani is the founder of Crazy Kadchi and holds innovative and healthy cooking workshops for all age groups.