Some like porridge. Some will not touch it with a ten-foot-pole. My family falls in the latter category. But dalia* is a healthy way to include fibre and when made into a porridge with milk can keep you going well till lunchtime.
But even I cannot have porridge more than once in a couple of weeks. And, so the packet of dalia lay woefully in the larder with no takers. Being the true Indian that I am, I am loathe to dump food that is not either totally infested or rotting.
Necessity is the mother of invention, they say. And this is the only dish I have ever created. Any resemblance to any other dish is unintentional and purely coincidental 🙂 . Mostly I adapt recipes to suit what is available, or change a few proportion to suit my inclination, but this is something I put together all on my own, though I admit it has been inspired by couscous.
I had couscous once, a long time ago, when my sister prepared it in our university apartment. Couscous, which is partially cooked wheat that has been coarsely ground, requires only soaking in hot water to serve. Dalia, on the other hand, needs soaking and pan-cooking. But, the textures are very similar.
With the couscous in mind and that packet of dalia at hand I got an inspiration a couple of years ago. Today dalia is a happy breakfast at our table on many Sunday mornings. Filled with the goodness of veges and fibre, and looow in fat, this (I’m gonna call it Sunday Dalia Twist!) is amongst super-healthy-eating husband’s favorite breakfasts! Porridge? That’s history.
Maybe I should call it Dalia Ravivar! Ice cream that is even better is a Sundae…Dalia that is nothing like porridge is Ravivar! (Lame? You suggest a name…really!)
Since this was going to be the entry for Nandita’s WBB#6, I worked a little bit on the presentation as well. Something I tend to overlook in my hurry to get the food to hungry people. So I reserved some chopped coriander for the garnish, cut some hot red peppers on the bias (what kind of a Kylie Kwong fan would I be if I cut them any other way!), and for the final flourish, sprinkled some toasted sesame seeds on top. The toasted sesame was a worthy garnish.
I present to you the nutritious
1 1/2 C dalia (cracked whole wheat)
1 C diced cucumber
1 C diced tomatoes
1 C diced green bell pepper
1 medium onion, chopped
1 hot green chilli pepper, chopped fine
2 t oil
for garnish: 1 T toasted sesame seeds, 1 thinly sliced (on the bias) hot red chilli pepper, and chopped cilantro
(You may use any combination of vegetables; this is what I had this morning. I also like to use finely shredded cabbage, green beans, carrots, coloured bell peppers, spring onions…)
Soak the dalia in enough water to just cover it. Let it soak for about an hour. The water will be absorbed and you will have a dryish dalia. If there is additional water, drain and reserve.
Heat the oil just below smoking hot. Add the onions and stir them around, on medium heat, till transparent. Add the soaked dalia and the salt. Cover and cook for about 5-8 minutes, stirring every few minutes. As the dalia cooks, the colour will start changing to a more translucent. Add the tomatoes and the green chilli pepper (and vegetables such as beans and cabbage, that may need some cooking), mix well, the reserved liquid (or some water) and cover for another 5 min or so. The dalia should be almost cooked by now. Toss in the other vegetables (cucumber and bell pepper), mix well and take off heat. Cover the pot and let rest for another 10 min.
Garnish with sliced red chillies and chopped cilantro. Sprinkle the toasted sesame seeds on top and serve.
I serve the dalia by itself. The wholesome taste needs no pickle pick-up. Next time I am going to try soaking the dalia in some buttermilk. I think that will add a subtle-creamy-sour note.
This nutritious breakfast is quite quick for even a weekday breakfast (I made it today, a Monday morning!). Just soak the dalia as you groggily put the tea on, and get dressed when you leave it to sit! Vege preparation can take a few minutes…but if you do it when the dalia is cooking in its steam…then definitely under 30 min!
* In North Indian the word Dalia is used for both cracked wheat as well as the porridge that is prepared with it. In Southern India, dalia is roasted chickpea (known as bhuna chana in the North) that is used in namkeen mixes and also in some chutneys.