Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Millet patties with tomato coulis

The millet mania continues... Did you know that the word "rice" is actually a generic term, which has come to mean paddy rice by default. Paddy is the grass and the seeds harvested as food is rice. Similarly seeds harvested from millet grasses are referred to as millet rice. It can be substituted in meals for rice as a healthier less starchy option.

We have been doing so recently and feeling good about it. It can be eaten just like regular rice with vegetable curries, daal etc. Naturally, as with most staples there is some left over at the end of the meal and this is what was used in this recipe. Of course you can make it fresh for these patties if you don't have left overs. The patties make for a good breakfast or snack idea.

For eight patties you will need:
- 1 cup cooked millet rice (Kodo or any other of your choice)
- 1 finely chopped onion
- 2 medium or 1 large potato cooked and mashed
- 2-3 table spoons of whole wheat flour
- 2-3 cloves garlic chopped
- Crushed black pepper corns
- Salt to taste
- Oil for shallow frying

Mix all the ingredients for patties to a firm dough and make 2 inch balls. Apply some oil on the palm of your hand and flatten the balls to 1/2 inch thick patties. If you don't apply oil on your palms you will end up wasting more of the dough as it will stick to your palm. Heat oil in a frying pan and fry the patties till brown on both sides. Take out on to a kitchen towel to let oil drain off. Serve with tomato coulis explained below.

For the tomato coulis you need:
- 3 medium ripe tomatoes
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp white vinegar
- 6-8 leaves of lemon basil
- Salt to taste
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil.

Make a smooth puree of the tomatoes with the sugar added. In a heavy bottom wok or pot add the butter and turn up the heat to high flame. Once the butter just begins to brown and smoke, add the tomato puree. It will sizzle and turn a deep red. Do not reduce the flame. Stir lightly and keep covered for 2 mins. Open and add the vinegar and salt. Keep the flame high and stir only occasionally. At the end of 5 minutes the tomatoes should have reduced to a thick deep red paste. Add finely chopped lemon basil and turn off the heat immediately. Stir in the olive oil.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Millet Banana Breakfast Muffins

Yes, it's muffins again, but this is not so much a recipe as it is an idea that opens up to several recipes for the imaginative. So, we all know muffins, cakes and most bakery are best enjoyed when you don't make them yourself i.e. you don't see the amounts of white flour, fat and sugar that goes into them. We try to add some healthy things in them such as vegetables or fruits and try to step down the fat by substituting milk but alas these are tricky options as the gluten in the flour begins to develop when in contact with water (in the vegetables/fruits/milk) yielding a bread like chewy consistency. So we keep the healthy stuff to a minimum, step up fat and the vicious circle repeats.
Enter - the millet. If you have already jumped onto the gluten free bandwagon, you have probably started experimenting with millets. Millets are perfect if you are aiming at a gluten free diet. Considered among the most ancient of grains, millets provide you with a healthy alternative to rice, wheat and corn. They don't grow big and fat with starch like other main grains, but this is the very trait that makes them an healthier option. India is almost the top producer of millets in the entire world. If you are in India you can add 'responsible eating' to your portfolio while consuming locally grown millets.

Millet muffins
Ingredients (yields up to 7-8 muffins):

- 2/3 to 3/4 cup mashed bananas
- 1/4 cup fat: butter (or oil)
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 egg or equal volume of thick non-sour yogurt
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla or nutmeg
- 1 1/4 cup millets *
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup or 2 tbsp white flour.

* options are: foxtail millet, barnyard millet, amaranth or a mixture of these.

Here's how you make it.
Whisk butter and sugar until fluffy followed by other wet ingredients i.e. egg/yogurt, milk, bananas and vanilla.

Run the millet(s) in a blender to make a fine powder. It can be made coarse if you like some extra texture in the final product. Experiment varying the coarseness to find out what you like.

Mix salt and baking soda to your millet powder and add this dry mixture to the wet and mix. This is the step where you would truly appreciate the gluten free nature of the millets. Were this white flour, you would have to be extra careful not to over mix and your cook book will advise you to "gently fold in the flour". With millets however, there is no fear of turning the batter bready due to over mixing. Give it a good whisk until the millet powder is thoroughly incorporated.

Finally add in the two tablespoon of white flour by sprinkling it evenly over the mixture and gently folding in until just moist. This small amount of white flour is to provide some binding, else the cakes would be too crumbly.

Divide batter among muffin cups and bake at 180 degrees C for 20 mins or until the cakes pass the toothpick test.