Sprouted Horse Gram Salad

horse gram salad1

Sprouted Horse Gram Salad

Our menu always has some kind of salad everyday. To make the preparation easier and to introduce some variety, I’ve made it a practice to sprout different legumes in bulk and store them in airtight containers in the refrigerator. Though the kids don’t like them in their original form, I try to hide them in a salad, or disguise them as kebabs or as stuffings inside dosa or roti.

The horse gram is mostly used as horse fodder, and it is believed to give the consumer ‘horse power’. May be that’s too much to say but the benefits of horse gram are needless to list here; and sprouting it only adds to the nutrition. It is known for its medicinal properties in Indian Ayurveda. It helps weight watchers as it is rich in calcium, iron and protein while being low on calories. It also helps lower cholesterol and is known to treat various medical conditions like renal stones, piles, cold, cough and fever.

Ingredients

Sprouted horse gram : 1 cup

Onions : 1 small (finely chopped)

Tomatoes : ½ (finely chopped)

Green capsicum : ½ (finely chopped)

Almonds : 3 or 4 (sliced)

Salt and freshly ground pepper : to taste

Coriander leaves : to garnish

Steam the sprouts in a pressure cooker for 5 minutes and toss with all the other ingredients, and you have a very nutritious and crunchy salad. The almonds add the nice crunch to the salad, but if you don’t like them with the other ingredients, you can always skip them.

It’s better to steam the sprouted legumes to make them easy on the tummy. Got to keep this in mind when you are giving it to kids. If you would like to use the legume as it is (soaked but unsprouted), you will need to cook it for longer (about 30-40 minutes).

How to make sprouts:

Wash and soak the horse gram in water for about 8 hours. Drain the water, tie it up in a clean muslin cloth, and hang this cloth bag in a cool, well lit place for another 8 hours. The gram would have sprouted by now.

sprouted horse gram

You can store this in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.

Sprouted Horse Gram

Type Legume
Form Sprouted
Storage If kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator, it would stay fresh for a week -10 days.
Usage Best to use a dry spoon
Tip Sprouted legumes have high moisture content. They can be frozen to extend their shelf life.

Horse gram tends to have many impurities. Before washing it, look for and remove any small stones. To be on the safer side, wash it twice or more before using. Even the sprouts are best washed before using.

The rules for buying are the same as for buying any other legumes. Watch closely for bugs and holes, and avoid packets with a powdery residue. Once bought, they can be stored in their own packing inside an airtight container (to avoid moisture) and they will stay fresh for months together.

Besan Kheer

besan kheerMay I call it the perfect south Indian version of Phirni? Maybe yes, because, the way we prepare this is exactly like Phirni, except for the fact that in Besan Kheer, we add roasted besan (Bengal gram flour) instead of rice flour. Besan Kheer or Kadala Maavu Paayasam, as it is called in Tamil Nadu (India), is a very traditional recipe. Kadala maavu is Bengal gram flour and paayasam is the thinner, lighter version of kheer (a form of pudding). This dish bowls me over with the ease with which it can be prepared, almost instantaneous, and I believe that’s the reason it is popular. The flavour of besan is too good to resist in this dish.

Ingredients:

  • Bengal gram flour: 2 tbl spoons
  • Milk: ½ litre
  • Sugar: 2 cups (or as per taste)
  • Cardamom powder: a pinch
  • Clarified butter (ghee): 1 tbspoon
  • Cashew nuts: a few, roasted (to garnish)

Take ghee in a pan and heat it. Add the flour and roast it till it gives out a nice aroma and changes slightly in colour. Boil milk, add sugar and reduce slightly. Add the roasted flour to the milk and keep stirring till you get the required consistency. Garnish with roasted cashew nuts. Simply irresistible!

besan kheer 2

The success of any dish is as much in the quality of ingredients as in the way you cook them. With good ingredients, half your job is done. Seriously!

So starting from this post, I am planning to include some information about ingredients, like how they are to be selected, and stored for maximum shelf life.

Bengal gram is the lentil (split and hulled) variety from chickpea.

chickpea and bengal gram

Besan is best made at home by cleaning and powdering Bengal gram. But if you don’t have that facility, go ahead and buy the readymade flour off the shelf. Just check the date of manufacture and expiry. Always store Bengal gram flour (besan) in the freezer compartment. You can take as much flour as you want for a single use and store the rest in the same packing, tightly sealed either with a clip or a band.

If you are buying Bengal gram (lentil), see to it that it is fresh. To check for freshness, slightly shake the pack; it should sound crisp. Do not buy if:

  • You see any powder residue on the inside of the pack.
  • You see holes in the lentils.
  • They look bright and shiny. The lentils are processed to remove their skins and polished to increase shelf life. So if you see them bright and shiny, it doesn’t mean that they are good. It just means that they are highly processed.
  • You see bugs crawling around the inside of the pack. Obvious, isn’t it? But since I’m making a ‘do not buy’ list, I had to include this one too.

The lentils are at their best when in dull yellowish mustard colour. Always store lentils in a clean, dry container. Never use a wet hand or spoon. Moisture allows the growth of bugs and insects.

Know your Ingredient! (Bengal gram flour)

Type Lentil
Form Powder
Storage Best refrigerated or frozen in airlock covers or containers
Usage Use a dry spoon/hand at all times
Tip If it has to be stored at room temperature, one or two dry red chillies (whole) added to the pack/container will keep it bug free for a long time

Phirni

phirniPhirni is a rice based pudding which is common in North India. It is traditionally prepared by soaking rice in water and grinding it to a coarse texture. This gives the coarseness to the Phirni. But, the kids and I prefer it smooth. So I add rice flour instead of soaking and grinding rice. This also reduces the time to cook and makes the recipe much easier and quicker.

So here goes the ingredients list:

  • Milk                         –           ½ litre
  • Sugar                       –           1 cup
  • Rice Flour                –           2 tbsps.
  • Cardamom Powder –           a pinch
  • Almonds                  –           for garnish

Boil milk. Add sugar and reduce it to 3/4th by simmering for about 10-15 minutes.Add cardamom powder.

Mix the rice flour with a little cold milk and add it to the reduced milk and keep stirring. The milk will thicken as you do this. Once you get a nice creamy texture, take it off the stove and garnish with sliced almonds. Phirni tastes best when chilled.

Note: Cardamom is best used in its powdered form. To powder cardamom, roast it whole on a low flame and grind it in the mixer/blender. If it still stays course, roast the coarse powder again for a few minutes and grind it. This method has always given me very fine powder that lasts for months and retains its flavour (if stored in an airtight box in the refrigerator).

So go ahead, try it out and let me know your feedback.