In India, poha (rice flakes) is a staple breakfast in many households because it is quick to prepare. Just soak poha in water for fifteen minutes and it is ready. Poha is unique because rice is flaked in the husk and handmade following traditional methods. Poha is the name of the dish as well as the name for rice flakes in Hindi.
My Amma (mum) likes to make sure there is enough protein in each meal and this is one of her recipes where she uses poha the same way you would use rice in rice salad. It is a lovely, gluten free and vegan lunch dish.
A Canadian colleague of mine gave me this recipe a few years back. I have modified it (reduced butter, sugar and made it gluten free) and managed to retain the taste integrity. When the kids were younger and had to take something for a bake sale or whatever, I used to make these brownies and they were a big hit. They are good enough to be served up slightly warm for dessert with a scoop of ice cream and a bit of chocolate sauce.
½ cup white sugar
1 cup dark brown cane sugar
¾ cup cocoa
½ cup oats, powdered
¼ cup ground linseed (flaxseed)
1/3 cup ground almonds
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Icing sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celsius. Butter a 23cm x 33 cm (9 x 13 inch) baking pan.
Melt butter over medium heat in a saucepan. Add sugar and cocoa, stirring constantly. The mixture should look glossy. Remove from heat but keep stirring to cool slightly. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating before adding the next one in.
In a separate bowl, combine the oat powder, ground almonds and linseed (flaxseed) and baking powder. Add the dry ingredients to the mixture in the saucepan. Stir in vanilla.
Pour mixture into the prepared tray. Bake for 30 minutes or 35 minutes or until the crust is firm and resistant to pressure. Check about every minute after 30 minutes as brownies easily overbake.
Remove from oven and let cool completely in the tray. Once cool dust with icing sugar and cut into squares.
I was inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi’s cauliflower cake recipe and wanted to create my own gluten free version. It is in between a cake and a bread and because of its savoury nature I called mine a bread but the jury is out! What do you think – is it a cake or a bread?
It is a lovely dish to take to a potluck meal or if you are having a large group for a barbecue. There is a long list of ingredients, but let it not put you off because it comes together easily.
1 large cauliflower, weighing about a kilo, stalks removed
By now you may have guessed that I am trying to introduce you to more South Indian home cooking. This is another popular homemade snack from Andhra. These are crunchy, gluten free and really very moreish even if I say so myself.
½ cup heaped rice flour plus more for dusting
2tsps channa dhal (split chick peas), soaked in water for ½ hour
Koftas are fried dumplings usually made with vegetables like bottle gourd or paneer or meat and cooked in a rich tomato and cream sauce. Everyone loves the rich creaminess of malai kofta. I wasn’t sure if a vegan version would be good enough. Surprisingly this version got the tick from the family. I don’t favour vegan cheese or vegan cream. I always feel it has a lingering after taste. That’s why in my no cream, no paneer version, I made with cashew nuts and tofu. Trust me, no one would be able to sniff the tofu and will convert even the worst sceptic.
Make this in summer when zucchinis are in plenty supply. I made mine in a pie dish but you can in a rectangle slice pan. Serve it with a fresh green salad and my tomato chilli relish on the side for lunch. This is gluten free and the fennel adds a nice touch.
Indian desserts and sweets are quite intriguing as traditionally
there is no dessert course as such and it is eaten alongside your meal. For
festive occasions, when sweets are made and exchanged, they eat them as people
would a slice or a fudge with tea or coffee. Just like the rest of Indian
cuisine there are regional differences as well as cultural variations when it
comes to sweet things.
Carrot halwa is very popular and each family has their own
recipe. This is my mum’s method and it works.
Did you know that buckwheat is not a grain but is actually the
fruit of a plant related to the rhubarb and sorrel? It is widely popular in
many cuisines for its nutritional benefits. Another interesting fact is that rhubarb
is a native of Russia and is really a vegetables but is often treated as a fruit.
I love the rose pink colour of cooked rhubarb and the natural sharpness works
well with the pancakes.
Just a note the leaves of rhubarb have a very high oxalic
acid content and are poisonous. Please discard them and cook only the stalks.