OPOS Sambar: Hotel-Style Sambar With No Fuss; Ready in 10 Minutes


Think of South Indian food, and idli, sambar, and dosa would strike your mind first of all! Isn't it?

hotel style sambar opos





















Yes, this is the quintessential south Indian menu that has become widely popular world over for its rich taste, unique flavors, and nutritional boost! Well, this is exactly what inspires most of us north Indians to cook south Indian food. I  must admit I love Chettinad cuisine, Malayali food, and of course, Tamil recipes. One thing they have in common is the inclusion of coconut, which makes food more rich and flavorful, though the time of inclusion may vary!

Savor any recipe bursting with coconut flavor and you would want to have it again and again. At least, this is my experience! South Indian food has been instrumental in making me a coconut lover. Don't believe?

Taste food from south Indian cuisine and you would know it yourself. The best thing is south Indians make the most yummiest of food in the simplest of way while not tempering much with the nutritional portion.

In simple words, sambar is a concoction of lentils and vegetables. Personally, I was not too much fond of this south Indian gravy until I started cooking myself. The prime reason being that the kind of sambar cooked in Punjab, or at my mom's home, was very simple - a blend of arhar dal and tamarind - that's it. We call it khatti dal or tangy lentil curry, which we savor with rice. Of course, I do love the sambar mom makes this way. After all, nobody can say no to mom-made food, can you?

OPOS- What's That!

Now let's come back to OPOS Sambar. OPOS is spelled as One Pot One Shot! Yay! It's as simple as this.

Can't believe?

Look further!



opos sambar
I have been following the very renowned Chithra Viswanathan for over a year in social media for her yummiest south Indian recipes. Recently, she introduced her followers to OPOS technique. It did interest me, since the method promises to cook food in 2-3 whistles only!

Surprised I was when I saw this post from Chitvish! Initially I thought it was just for simple vegetables, but when I saw people sharing their feedback with the reputed lady, I was thoroughly surprised to see the results.


Believe it or not, my beginning journey with OPOS has been beautiful - I have just entered the world of OPOS cooking, because I rarely have time to cook, even though I post a lot of cooking posts.My first trial with OPOS was sambar and beans thoran. I still do not believe that I have come up with the best, lip-smacking sambar ever cooked by me.

This is no exaggeration - believe me or try this method yourself.
The sambar interested me so much that I have kept my share for the dinner as well. Now it shows that it was seriously finger-licking good!

But OPOS requires complete understanding. You should not start with this technique without understanding the basics. I am still trying to understand and shall continue to try recipes with this technique and share with you. Tomorrow I will be trying cauliflower-potato curry with OPOS. Let's see how I go about it.

A recap on OPOS:

  • You need a 2 or 3-liter pressure cooker - else the technique won't produce the same results
  • No heating beyond 2 whistles or 6 mts
  • Stand and watch how things unfold and be there to turn off the flame immediately
  • No leaking cooker please - the cooker should be in perfect shape
A WORD OF CAUTION: Do not start without understanding of OPOS technique.

opos sambar

Ingredients
1/2 cup- tuvar dal/arhar dal
2 cups- water
veggies of your choice- I added 1 potato, 1/2 cup- lauki (bottle gourd), 1/4 cup- pumpkin, 1/4 cup- beans,
1 Tomato
2 onions
salt
turmeric
1/4 cup- coconut
1 tbsp- tamarind-jaggery paste
green chilly
1 tbsp- sambar masala (I added home made)
1 tsp -oil

Tempering ingredients
1/2 tsp- oil/ghee
mustard seeds (kali sarson)
curry leaves
hing (asafetida)


How To Make OPOS Sambar


sambar opos way


  1. You need a 2 or 3-liter pressure cooker for this method. if you don't have that, please do not follow OPOS procedure, as it could be dangerous or could leave veggies uncooked or burned.
  2. Cook dal with water and haldi for 3 whistles. Keep aside.
  3. Chop all veggies in small pieces so that they can be cooked within 5-6 minutes.
  4. Slice onions and tomato.
  5. Mix coconut paste with tamarind-jaggery paste, sambar masala, and little salt. Grind it into thick paste.
  6. Take a 2 or 3-liter cooker. Add 3 tsp of water. Now add 1 tsp of oil. 
  7. Start layering vegetables for the hotel-style sambar.
  8. Place onions, tomatoes, potatoes, beans, pumpkin, and bottle gourd one over another.
  9. Mash dal that we have already boiled and pour over the vegetables in the cooker.
  10. Add salt. Do not mix.
  11. Pour the coconut paste over it. Do not Mix.
  12. Close the cooker lid and let it cook for 2 whistles for 5-6 minutes.
  13. Turn off the flame immediately after 2 whistles. Else, everything inside the cooker would burn.
  14. Let the steam escape.
  15. Meanwhile prepare tempering.
  16. Heat oil.
  17. Add hing, mustard seeds, and curry leaves.
  18. Open the lid and pour the tempering over the mixture.
  19. Mix everything well.
  20. Leave it for 5 minutes and enjoy hotel style sambar at home.


Steamed Lauki Poriyal


steamed lauki
Steaming vegetables retains most of their nutrients besides softening them. Direct heat destroys most of the nutrients and water-soluble compounds. Bottle gourd is rich in water, and cooking it on high heat could make it nutrient deficient. Steaming is a great way to preserve nutrients.

Whether you choose to steam veggies using an electric steamer or microwaveable plastic bag or using a makeshift vessel and steaming on stove top, you can rest assured that you are eating healthy food. The indirect form of heat helps retain most of the vegetable


  • moisture
  • juice
  • nutrients
  • nutritional value
  • flavor & texture


What more could you ask for?

You can choose to steam veggies of your choice to preserve their low calorie content and nutrients. Who would forget the flavor and texture?

Now you would be surprised to know that steaming the humble bottle gourd (dudhi or ghiya or lauki) can not only retain its moisture, texture, color, and nutritional value, but also enhance its flavor.

Don't believe my words?

Then this steamed lauki stir fry recipe is for you!

A great way to include bottle gourd or lauki in your meal plans is to steam the water-rich vegetable and flavor it with coconut. Your family, including kids, will surely fall in love with the dietary fiber-rich lauki, that too, if they realize they are eating bottle gourd!

Bottle Gourd Benefits
With low fat content and high dietary fiber composition, lauki is an easy to digest vegetable. It contains 96% water and has cooling properties - this is the reason it is profusely available in summers.

Rich in vitamin b & C, bottle gourd has a good amount of iron, sodium, and potassium. Bottle gourd for weight loss is highly recommended by dietitians. It is also an excellent source of fiber, which makes it highly effective for digestive disorders.

Bottle Gourd Nutritional Facts (source:ParentingHealthyBabies)
Also known as opo squash or long melon, bottle gourd benefits health in numerous ways.
It is


  • a safe, natural laxative
  • a digestive aid
  • a cure for intestinal worms
  • recommended for urinary problems
  • is least reactive
  • is usually safe for kids, elderly, and adults alike* (however, there have been reports of 3 deaths from bottle gourd toxicity - so always take a small bite of lauki while chopping it to check if it is bitter- the bitter ones should be discarded)
It is cultivated across India, Sri Lanka, China, and Malaysia, among other countries.


Peel the outer layer of bottle gourd, chop or cut it into small pieces and steam them to retain most of the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients hidden inside this green vegetable.

Steaming vegetables also gives you the same taste and flavor that you often get from heating veggies. But in that case, veggies lose most of their nutrients. While steaming preserves nutritional value, it also infuses flavors and retains moisture. The best part is you do not need tbsps of oil to make veggies flavorful - just steaming them with the right spices is enough to add "zing" to green vegetables.


Ingredients
This recipe takes inspiration from south Indian Poriyal. I have improvised it to suit my taste buds and health quotient.


steamed lauki stir fry




1 cup- lauki  or more
1/4 th cup or more- fresh coconut( I had dry coconut powder..I kept it soaked in water for 5 mins and it was like fresh) 
curry leaves
1/2 tsp- mustard seeds
1/4 tsp- urad dal 
ginger grated
salt
1 green chilly 
1/4 tsp- oil (I used olive oil) - optional - needed only if you wish to temper the ingredients - it tastes yummy even without tempering


Procedure
  1. Cut lauki into small pieces - the smaller the better.
  2. Grate ginger over lauki.
  3. Add coconut powder.
  4. Chop green chilly over it.
  5. Sprinkle salt and curry leaves and mix everything.
  6. Keep aside for an hour, so that the flavors infuse in the vegetable.
  7. Keep the mixture on a steamer and steam for 10-12 mts or little longer.
  8. You may wish to eat it at this stage or temper the same with mustard seeds and urad dal.
  9. Heat oil. Add mustard seeds and urad dal. Let them dance.
  10. Add the steamed lauki mixture and blend everything well.
  11. Cover & cook for 2-3 mts. Enjoy this healthy, tasty, and flavorful lauki bhaja with rice or roti.
  12. Or you may simply make the tempering first and then pour it over the rest of the ingredients before steaming them. Enjoy steamed lauki bhaja in salad form or as a side item.
  13. You may want to try lauki chutney





How To Make Almond Butter at Home: Homemade Ice Cream No Sugar, No Butter


almond butter ice cream
Want to know how to make almond butter at home?

It's quick, it's easy, and oh so yummy!

Did I say it's healthy?

Almond Butter Uses
Desserts - the very word makes our mouths to water, isn't it? The first thing that comes to our mind is the rich, creamy, luscious texture of ice creams and kulfis, and of course sweets. After all desserts are made to be indulged in. But what about weight watchers and health freaks?

We, too, love desserts and keep watching our calorie intake. Of course, we do not want to indulge too much in sweets because they are loaded with fat and sugar - this is exactly what makes them lip smacking.

But ice creams demand to be savored - no matter whether it is shrieking hot or shivering cold outside. I enjoy ice creams even when it is chilling outside!

Like you, even I love to indulge in sweets, kulfis, ice creams, and desserts of all kinds. But yes, I do want to keep an eye on my fat and sweet intake. After all, health  comes first. But for those days when you really want to indulge in some form of dessert, I have shared a few healthy recipes that can quench your cravings! Yay!!

This time again, I have come up with another healthy dessert, which was an experiment in the making. Had decided to experiment with a unique blend of almond butter, poppy seeds, and oatmeal with milk. I wanted to make some kind of healthy shake or smoothie. But the creamy texture tempted me to give it the shape of a kulfi.

When the almond butter kulfi was set, it amazed me with its taste and texture. I experiment with minimum amounts, so I could make just one kulfi. Never mind, even one is enough to satiate cravings of us two - hubby and me!! Hubby is not too fond of desserts, especially kulfis. But the sheer look, aroma, and texture of this unique almond butter kulfi tempted him to taste the same.

What was his reaction?

Well, initially he couldn't understand what it was made of. Surprised he was, since I do not eat chocolates and knows well that I would never add them to any recipe. Then I solved the riddle - breaking open my silence on the unique kulfi ingredients.

Was he surprised?

Na, he is used to such experiments now!
nutty almond butter ice cream


Now you must be wondering why I added almond butter.
It

  • turns your desserts creamy and luscious along with oatmeal when mixed with milk
  • works as a great substitute to butter/ cream - why should we add cream when we have a healthier alternative?
  • works as a taste enhancer with its strong nutty flavor - sometimes like chocolate
  • has amazing health benefits
  • serves all taste buds - you can taste it in its raw form even
  • makes a quick dessert

Let's do a recap of almond butter benefits:


Almond butter is super healthy, rich in taste, and of course addictive.Try a recipe with almond butter once, and you cannot stop at experimenting with this healthy ingredient there. I, too, started using almond butter recently. The first time I actually made it at home was when I wanted to try the 2-ingredient nana ice cream. It was a super hit recipe with my friends. I got inspiring feedback from all corners. Yes, I was extremely happy with it.

Next time, I included almond butter in a cake along with oil. The almond butter eggless atta cake was loved by one and all. The aroma of an almond butter cake in a mug or pan makes it different from others. You do not need to add any flavoring agent or spice to add to its aroma! Doesn't that sound good?

Almond butter cookies with oatmeal was another of my trials with this buttery mixture sourced from roasted almonds. Even the almond butter recipe is simple and quick.

Here's how to make almond butter at home:


Here is how you can make almond butter at home.

homemade almond butter at home


homemade almond butter


  • Clean 15-20 almonds or wash them quickly.
  • Dry roast them until they turn brownish.
  • Let them cool.
  • Next, take 1/4 tsp of olive oil or any other oil. You may add more depending on the consistency you want. I kept it thick, so added only 1/4 tsp. 
  • Churn them up along with oil in a grinder.
  • Keep processing unless you get the oil oozing from the mixture.
  • You may add a hint of cinnamon to add to the flavor.
This tastes so chocolaty that you will be tempted to savor almond butter at this stage.

If you can control yourself, well and good. If not, then you will have to make another batch! Yes, this is seriously addictive!!! Boil almond butter in a glass of milk and it makes a delicious almond, chocolaty milkshake for kids and elders alike. You will thank me for this recipe!! Yay!

Almond Butter Benefits
Compared to peanut butter, almond butter has less calories and does not raise bad cholesterol. 

  • Rich in calcium & copper that facilitate brain cell communication, keep your muscles and skeleton strong . Copper helps in producing melanin, which is crucial for skin rejuvenation. protect your skin from the harmful effects of the sun by chewing a few almonds every day. According to Livestrong, "Each 2-tablespoon serving of almond butter contains 111 milligrams of calcium, or 11 percent of the recommended daily intake, as well as 299 micrograms of copper, or one-third of the daily requirement."
  • Rich in magnesium and vitamin E that help in synthesizing fatty acids required by the body for energy storage.Vitamin E is good for skin and supports cell communication. If you consume 2 tbsp of almond butter daily, you can boost your vitamin E intake.
  • Rich in dietary fiber and healthy unsaturated fat. Healthy fats in almond butter help boost your cardiovascular health, improve good cholesterol levels, reduce bad cholesterol, and lower risk of coronary heart disease. If you take 2 tbsp of almond butter daily, you can improve your fiber by 3.3 grams.

Let's come back to the ice cream recipe.

When you try this almond butter ice cream, you will quickly realize that nut butter-based kulfis are simple to churn out and use a few basic ingredients that are easily available on shelf.

But churning out almond butter does require some patience. The end result would surely pay of soon when you get to relish the most delicious, nutty, creamy ice cream with almond butter. 

Ingredients
2 tbsp- almond butter
2 tbsp- oatmeal (check over 50 oatmeal recipes here)
1 tbsp- khuskhus paste (poppy seeds paste - grind poppy seeds into paste) or you may add roasted til (sesame seeds)
1 tbsp- Honey
4 tbsp- cold milk (for a vegan version, you may add coconut milk or even almond milk instead - let me know if you need the recipe for both)
cinnamon powder (Dalchini- add if you have not added it to almond butter)
1 walnut (akhrot) - optional -  I added
A few almonds

almond butter smoothie


Procedure

Trust me almond butter makes the most delicious ice creams that you would love to indulge in without worrying about your calorie or fat intake. Pair it with one or more fruits of your choice and indulge in healthy eating.
no oil, no butter 3 minute mug cake
  1. Make almond butter. Keep aside.
  2. Make poppy seeds paste. 
  3. Add almond butter, honey, oatmeal or powdered oats, and walnut to the poppy seeds paste and run the food processor until everything mixes well.
  4. Add milk and churn again until the concoction is creamy and thick.
  5. Do not be surprised if you are tempted to taste the shake at this time. I too couldn't resist the temptation. 
  6. Drink it as such or if you have patience, pour the mixture into kulfi moulds and set for freezing.
  7. Wait for 3-4 hours before you can get to taste this luscious, creamy, and delectable blend of almonds and poppy seeds with the goodness of oats.
  8. Do not forget to garnish with slivered almonds, so you can enjoy nutty bites.
  9. You may want to try 2-ingredient nana ice cream that uses almond butter. Check the recipe here
  10. If you have a good amount of almond butter in stock, do try the 2-minute no oil. eggless almond butter cake. The recipe is here.
  11. Do not forget to hover over my 50+ oatmeal recipes if you are a health freak.


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