Cheery Comfort Foods - recipes for those down days

There is a universal connection to comfort food eaten all around the world. It's all to do with food that slips down the throat easily; it does not require much cutting or chewing. Hot, nourishing, something you can slurp. They are the immediate answer to runny noses and bouts of homesickness.

For the typical western palet, it could be macaroni and cheese. For a Scottish it may be oatmeal and clotted cream. For an Indian, it would be rice and bean porridge, called Kitchadi.

When the world -- or the weather -- seems harsh and cruel, here are some of my favorite comfort food recipes that you can cuddle up with and help to bring a smile back to you, your friends, and family.

Kitchadi is that special food that transports me to another time, another me, and brings back emotions of warmth and caring. The yellow split bean are very easy to digest and quick to cook. Here is my version of the humble Kitchadi

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1 cup rice
¾ cup split yellow moong beans
1 teaspoon ginger paste
1 teaspoon cumin seed
1 teaspoon whole black pepper
1 garlic clove (chopped)
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon brown sugar or jaggery
5 cups boiling water
Salt to taste

Wash the rice and bean mix and then drain in a colander.

Make a coarse mix of cumin, black pepper in a spice grinder (or a coffee grinder used only for spices)

In a thick bottomed pot, add all ingredients except lime juice. Cook on high heat for 5 minutes, without any lid. Add lime juice and lower heat. Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and cook for 15 minutes on low heat. Remove from heat but do not remove lid for next 10 minutes. The steam will finish the process of cooking.

Garnish with chopped carrots and serve with a dollop of ghee

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Creamy tomato Soup without cream

1 16 oz chopped tomato can
1 tablespoon peanuts
1 tablespoon coconut
1 inch ginger
1 green chili
Salt and pepper to taste

Make a paste of peanuts, coconut, ginger and chili with ¼ cup water.
Add chopped tomatoes to make a smooth puree
Add the tomato mix with 2 cups of water and boil for 3-5 minutes.
Add salt and pepper and serve piping hot with crouton

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1 cup cream of wheat
1/3 cup ghee or unsalted butter
4-5 cloves
1 cup sugar
½ cup almond powder
8-10 cardamom pods
¼ teaspoon saffron thread
2 cups milk

Heat ghee or butter in a pan. Add cloves and wait untill they puff up.

Add cream of wheat and roast for 10 minutes on low heat. Keep aside.

In a pot, add milk and saffron and bring it to a boil. Add the roasted cream of wheat and stir vigorously to remove any lumps. Cover and cook for 5 minutes on low heat.

Add sugar and mix well. Cover the lid again and let the steam finish the process of cooking.

Peel cardamom, discard the shell and coarsely grind the seeds. Add almond powder and the ground cardamom seeds and mix well. Garnish with dried cranberries and serve piping hot.

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