Soothing Sevai Kheer
The way my mom looks at it, sevai kheer is an instant dessert that she can cook within 20 minutes. She is not too much into kheer(s) otherwise. Obviously, I never could form a bent towards sevai kheer, it looked pretty unappealing, nothing more than milk, sugar and sevai thrown together. After ignoring this kheer for so many years, I made it for baby A on N’s suggestion. Both baby A and N were disappointed by what I served. A spitted it out while N being kind enough not to follow her example, just made faces while eating it. This gave me the push to go figure how to make the perfect kheer. I plunged into the blogosphere and came out successful. The next time I made sevai kheer, I took a good one hour and both A and N loved it.
By experience, I came up with a few ‘tips and tricks’ to get the perfect kheer, which I have noted below along with the steps.
Sevai/ Vermicelli – half cup (I use Bambino roasted vermicelli)
Sugar – 2 tbsp ( We like it mildly sweet. Add 3 if you want it very sweet)
Milk – 750ml ( I use toned/ 3%, full cream works too)
Cardamom/ Ilaichi powder – 1 tsp
Dry fruits – a fistful, chopped small (optional)
Ghee – half tsp
1. Take a wide, heavy bottomed kadhai/ pan. I use Hawkins hard anodised.
2. Put it on a sim flame and add ghee.
3. When ghee melts, add in the sevai and roast it in the ghee for a minute. Now, though I buy raosted vermicelli, I dont miss this step, as the slight coating of ghee in the sevai prevents them from sticking to each other and form a lump. If using unroasted sevai, roast these for a little longer – two minutes.
4. Pour in the milk. Leave a saptula with a long handle in the pan. You need to keep stirring in between and also, the presence of the spatula prevents the milk from spilling over.
5. Keep the flame sim. As the milk boils, keep stirring gently to ensure the sevai is not sticking to the bottom and also to incorporate the thickened milk that gathers at the sides of the pan.
6. Before the milk gets too thick, when it has just started to boil (after 5 minutes), add the ilaichi powder. If you add at a later stage, the powder may get caught in the lumps of thickened milk, and you may end up having black lumps floating in the kheer.
7. Continue to boil the kheer till it gets a pinkish hue and the milk gets to one third of its original volume. Pick out a sevai stand and check if it has softened. This stage should take 20 minutes to reach.
8. Add in sugar and boil for another 3 minutes.
9. Switch off the gas and remove the pan from the burner.
10. The job is not yet done. If you leave this kheer to cool on it’s own, you will see a thick layer of cream formed on the top surface, which when you try to mix into the kheer later, will refuse to comply.
11. As the kheer is cooling, keep stirring in between. This will not let the thick film form and your kheer will be consitently smooth and thick.
12. Serve warm. You can refrigerate it for later use, but you may have to re-heat with some milk added, as it tends to thicken further when refrigerated.
13. Lastly, dont let this long process drive you away from this yummy kheer. I never spend time in the kitchen just to make kheer. While this is boiling off on one burner, I am able to cook the entire lunch/ dinner on others.
Hubby N has something against bread. What and why, I could never get out of him. My statement is based on his reaction on various occasions involving bread – the question marks in his eyes when I pick it up at the grocery shop, the frown on his face when I produce bread-butter for breakfast and the worst – the big NO he howls out in answer to ‘sandwich?’. As a result, the pack that I buy on one weekend sits in the refrigerator till the next, doing nothing but aging. Hence comes in this Saturday breakfast – bread transformed to a yummy upma, with green peas thrown in and a dash of lemon squeezed in. And thankfully, N loves this! Maybe for the peas and not for the bread, but I am happy till he gobbles down a plateful.
bread transformed to a yummy upma
10-12 slices of bread – white works best, brown would do too
Green chilies – 2, slit lengthwise, cut to halves
Jeera/ Cumin – 1 tsp
Ajwain/ Carom seeds – 1 tsp
Haldi/ Turmeric powder – half tsp
Heeng – one fourth tsp
Meetha neem/ Kadi patta/ Curry leaves – 10 to 12 leaves
Lemon juice- freshly sqeezed, of half a lemon
Salt – as per taste
Sugar – one fourth tsp
Kitchen king masala/ garam masala – half tsp
Green peas – half cup
Oil – 2 tsp
1. Tear the bread into bite size pieces. Don’t crumble them intentionally, some will be crumbled anyways. Remove the borders of the bread if too hard – I usually leave a few on.
2. Heat oil in a kadhai/ wok.
3. When hot, add the curry leaves, chili pieces, ajwain and jeera. Let these pop and sizzle for a minute.
4. Add in haldi, heeng. Mix within the oil mixture.
5. Add the green peas. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, or till the peas have turned soft. I usually use thawed frozen peas, which take just a minute to cook.
6. Put in the bread pieces, salt. Mix gently so that all bread pieces are covered with the masala.
7. Sprinkle (not a bowlful! Just a few drops, to add moisture) some water and cover and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
8. When you remove the lid, the bread pieces should have turned soft. Add in the sugar and garam masala and let it cook opened for 2 to 3 minutes, turning around the pieces every few seconds. This would help the pieces get crisp and crunchy.
9. Sqeeze in the lemon juice and serve hot.
Here is a paneer dish which I always thought could be found nowhere but in a restaurant. I had the mapping perfect in my mind – 1. If a menu card, there has to be kadhai paneer. 2. If kadhai paneer is written on a paper, it is a menu card. However, when paneer started to show up more and more on my grocery list and the resonating question of ‘what do I cook for dinner?’ got re-phrased to ‘what do I cook (with paneer) for dinner?’, I exploited google search to its full potential and drilled down on a handful of interesting recipes. One of them was this kadhai paneer recipe, short and simple, tempting me to try it for a weekday dinner. I followed the recipe exactly and the result was awesome. I think it has been an year now since I have been preparing it, and it has never failed me. The recipe print-out is now an integral part of my kitchen diary and the blog is a permanent link in my browser favorite list. Over a period of time, I have made my own amendments to the recipe. The original recipe by Sandeepa can be read at her blog here.
Ginger paste – 1 tsp
Garlic paste – 1 tsp
Green chilis – 2, slit lengthwise and cut into two halves
Onions – 2 small or 1 large – cut into big chunks
Capsicum – 2, deseeded, cut into bite size pieces (not very small, should be comparable to the size of onion chunks)
Paneer cubes – 1.5 cup or a 200 gm block cut into pieces
Tomato puree – 1.5 cup
Kasoori methi – 1.5 tsp
Salt – as per taste
Turmeric- 1 tsp
Red chilli powder – 1 tsp
Coriander powder – 2 tsp
Cumin powder – 1 tsp
Oil – 2 tsp
Ghee – 2 tsp (optional)
1. Heat oil in a kadhai/ wok.
2. When oil is hot, add onion pieces. The onions should get pale and soft and start browning at the sides. At this point, go to step 3.
3. Add ginger paste, garlic paste and the capsicum pieces. Cover and sauté till capsicum is soft. This does not take a lot of time, 3 to 4 minutes.
4. Add tomato puree, turmeric, kasoori methi, cumin powder, coriander powder, green chili pieces, red chili powder and salt. Mix everything together and let this cook till tomato puree and the masala have covered the onion and capsicum pieces. Let this cook for a minute. The tomato puree should not dry up / get all absorbed – we still need to add the paneer.
5. Add in the paneer pieces and mix gently, so that the paneer gets incorporated in the kadhai. Cook till the tomato puree and the masala are absorbed by paneer and the whole deal looks bright and shiny.
6. Add in half a spoon of ghee in the end. I do this right before I am going to serve it, it brings out the flavors of the dish.