Healthy and Tasty Palak-paneer with Makki-ki-roti

I was intending to write this post since a long time, but it kept delaying for some or the other reasons. Finally, I decided that I should write it before winter says Good Bye.

Palak-paneer with makki ki roti is quite a popular recipe in Northern India. It’s a healthy fusion of iron and vitamins-rich spinach with maize flour rotis.

Traditionally, it’s sarson-ka-saag with makki-ki-roti, but my family members prefer palak-paneer instead. So, I’m sharing that I regularly make at my home.

Palak-paneer with makki ki rotiHere I have served it with instant vegetable pickle and some chunks of jaggery – this combination is a must in my family. In-fact this combination can also be relished with multi-grain paratha.

Just to add, if you like taste of jaggery, then you must try healthy jaggery and peanut chikki or peanut brittle.

Ok, now let’s get started with recipe of palak-paneer followed by makki-ki-roti.

Ingredients for Palak-paneer (serves 2 people)

  • Spinach (palak): 1 bowl roughly chopped
  • Tomato: 2 big sizes finely chopped
  • Onion: 1 big size finely chopped
  • Garlic: 4-5 crushed cloves
  • Green chilly: 2
  • Garam-masala (mixture of ground spices, like – cumin, cloves, cardamom, coriander seeds, cinnamon etc): 1 tsp
  • Turmeric: 1 tsp
  • Cumin seeds (jeera): 1 tsp
  • Asafoetida (hing): 1 pinch
  • Gram flour (besan): 1 tbsp
  • Ghee (clarified butter): 1 tbsp
  • Cottage cheese (paneer): 100gm
  • Salt: as per taste

Procedure for palak-paneer

  • Blench the spinach and leave it to cool. After cooling, add green chilly in spinach and make a fine puree of it. While blenching, don’t cover the spinach or it will lose its bright green color.
Palak puree
Palak Puree
  • Heat ghee in skillet on medium flame and add cumin seeds and asafoetida. Wait for few seconds and add crushed garlic and onion. Keep stirring till the onion starts blushing – I mean when turns pink. 😉 image 1 in collage below.

Palak-paneer making process

  • Bring in the tomatoes to compliment the blushing onions (image 2 in collage above). Once our family doctor advised us that always add some vitamin C in iron-rich spinach because it enables better absorption of iron in body. So from then onward I make sure to add tomatoes while making palak-paneer. Additionally, tomato enhances the overall taste.
  • Keep stirring and mixing. Now it’s time to add turmeric, garam masala and salt. Mingle everything together and sauté on low flame for 5 minutes (image 3 in collage above).
  • Add the spinach puree and mix well. Slowing sprinkle the gram flour by finger tips (image 4 in collage above). I intentionally sprinkle by hand as it gives better control. With spoons flour may drop in large quantity at one place. In such case lumps will form and it takes time to crush them.
  • Let it simmer on low flame for another 5 minutes and your kitchen will be filled with nice aroma of spices and ghee.

Palak gravy

  • Add some generous amount of butter and switch-off the flame. Transfer the content to serving bowl and add home-made cottage cheese to it. I use home-made cottage-cheese in all most all of my preparations. It’s healthy and fresh, and best part is, it’s super easy to make.

Paneer cubes in palak-gravy

  • Mix and then cover the bowl. Give it standing time of 10-15 minutes before serving, as this will enable paneer to absorb the flavor.
Palak-paneer ready to eat
Palak-paneer ready to eat

Makki ki Roti

Makki roti can be enjoyed with any gravy preparations, but it blends beautifully with spinach. Making plain makki ki roti (i.e. only with maize flour) is a time-taking task. So, I also add whole-wheat flour (gehun ka atta) to it. Then it becomes easy to roll rotis/chapatis compared to when using only maize-flour.

Ingredients for Makki ki Roti

  • Maize flour (makki ka aata): 1 and 1/2 cup
  • Whole-wheat flour (gehun ka aata): ½ cup
  • Water to knead dough

Procedure for Makki ki Roti

  • Mix both flour and knead to make a soft dough (by adding sufficient water). Try to knead the dough just before you are about to make rotis.

Makki dough-making

  • Sprinkle little flour on rolling board before rolling roti. This will prevent roti from sticking to surface. With the light hand pressure and with the help of rolling pin roll the roti.

Makki roti-making

  • With the help of flat tuner lift the roti, and turn it on hot iron griddle. After a minute flip it and cook it from both the sides. Now put it on direct flame and with the help of tong cook on both the sides.

Makki roti-cooking

  • Drop bulb of butter and serve immediately.

So, this is how I make healthy and delicious combo of palak-paneer and makki ki roti. Try this out and if you have any doubt, always feel free to ask me. I will be most happy to help you out.

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Farra – Perfect Combination of Health and Taste

It’s been sudden rain from last two days in Pune and temperatures have dropped a little, reminding us sweet winter is knocking on the doors. With arrival of winter some recipes comes up in mind, among them top is Farra or Peetha.

It’s a regional dish of North India (especially UP and Bihar) and passed on from moms to daughters. It’s made of soaked rice and chana dal (bengal gram lentil). Since it’s steamed with just few drops of oil, it becomes a lot healthier.

farra
Traditional dish of UP and Bihar

My MIL very lovingly taught me to make Farra. It’s a traditional recipe which needs patience and practice to master it.

I had always made Farra under my MIL’s guidance never had courage to make it alone. But during my pregnancy one day I didn’t felt like eating anything and had not eaten properly throughout the day. Actually, I had big craving for Farra that day.

My MIL was not there with me that time and I couldn’t think of  make it alone.  However, my yearning forced me to make it alone.

That was the first time I made it all by myself. When my husband returned from office he was totally amazed. Finally, I made Farra and let me tell you, it was the most delicious food for me that day, and it felt divine. Though in the first attempt texture was not that smooth but taste was very similar to what mom makes.

My husband had his one liner ready for me – it’s our child who made you try Farra alone. Earlier my hubby used to coax me to try it in mom’s absence, but I always found it too much to try alone.

However, my first single-handed trial gave lot of confidence and paved way for further trials till I got perfection in soft texture. Now, it feels really satisfying when my husband’s says, “Now I cannot differentiate whether it’s made by mom or you”.

Though this recipe is bit time-consuming, however it’s totally worth it. You have to try it to agree to its distinctive taste.

I’m sharing traditional recipe of Farra the way I have learned it from my MIL.

  • Soaking time: 2 hours
  • Preparation time: 1 hour,
  • Serving: 11-12 pieces

Ingredients for base (outer cover):

  • Rice: 1 cup
  • Oil: 1 table spoon

Ingredients for stuffing:

  • Chana dal (bengal gram spilt): 1 cup
  • Fresh ginger: 1 inch piece
  • Green chilies: 5
  • Jeera (cumin seeds): 1 tea spoon
  • Salt as per taste (I used 1 1/2table spoon)
  • Red chili powder: 1 tea spoon
  • Hing (Asafoetida): ½ tea spoon
  • Turmeric: 1 tea spoon
  • Amchur powder (Dried Mango powder): 1 table spoon

Procedure

  • Wash and soak rice and dal separately for 2 hours.
  • Grind the rice in to fine smooth paste, little water needs to be add. Check the first picture in the collage to get the idea about consistency of batter. Keep aside the batter.
  • Combine fresh ginger, green chili, soaked Chana dal and make a coarse paste. Add very little water, thick paste is desired. Its OK if few dal pieces remain while making the paste.
farra filling
Farra dal filling
  • Add the spices into the dal paste and mix well. Take a pinch and taste it. Check if salt and other flavors are as per your taste.

I know raw dal taste’s horrible and when my MIL is there in kitchen I myself hesitate in tasting it. I always asking her to taste it instead. 🙂

But I do taste when I’m alone as after filling, nothing can be done and bland Farra won’t taste as good. So, it’s better to taste filling before-hand.

Normally, stuffing paste and fillings takes more salt and spices than expected. My MIL always says such stuffing’s are deaf! You need to add more than expected to get some taste in them.

I also make crispy chana dal pakoras from this same filling. Once the filling is ready let’s proceed to make rice dough from the rice batter. If you are fond of dal preparations do try this flavorsome and crisp moong dal tikkis. Coming back to process here. 🙂

  • Take heavy bottom wok and transfer the rice batter into it. Keep the flame low and stir continuously. Water starts evaporating and batter gets collected as you can see in the (image 2). Add 1 table spoon of oil at this stage, this will help it from sticking in bottom of wok. Finally, water will evaporate and batter will turn in dough. Dough is very hot at this stage, so be careful while moving it to a big plate (image 3).
farra dough stages
Farra dough stages (from batter to dough)
  • Let small amount of steam to escape and then apply some oil on your palms and start kneading the dough just like you make chapattis. It will result into soft dough as seen (image 4). This is the difficult task in making Farra but it’s important as kneading dough results into smooth texture of Farra.
  • Cover and let the dough rest for 2 minute, divide the dough into small rounds. It will result into 11-12 rounds.
  • Apply little oil on surface to make it greasy and with the help of rolling pin roll it to make thin small round rotis. Pressure of hand should be very gentle or dough will stick to surface.
farra filling process
Farra filling process
  • Spread the filling on roti and fold to join the two sides. Press the edges gently with your finger tips to seal it.
  • After filling all the Farras, grease the steamer plate with little oil and arrange Farras on it.
farra ready for steaming
Farra ready for steaming
  • Steam for 15 minutes. It will become slight pale and you will know that it’s cooked. Its upper texture looks similar to steamed idli. My 2 yrs old daughter always gets confused between Farra and Idlis. Most of the times she refers it as idli.  Infact she calls it “idi “! She can’t pronounce ‘L’. 🙂
farra after steaming
Farra just after steaming

Don’t get intimidated by its process. Farra is a perfect example of Delicious and Healthy food. Once you make it, your family will ask it to make it more often, as it’s liked by all children and elders.

I have served it with potato-tomato-beetroot subzi and green mint chutney.

farra ready to serve
Healthy and delicious Farras ready to eat

Any potato gravy subzi blends well with Farra. But, it’s up to you to go either with sabzi or with chutney. My MIL enjoys it with green chutney while hubby and FIL prefer sabzi. I relish it with Garlic chutney that I make with momos. You can also try it rajasthani style garlic chutney.

Feel free to ask me anytime if you have any doubts while making Farra. I will be happy to clear doubts. Don’t forget to tell us whether you like this awesome dish with chutneys or subzi!

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