Tandoori Masala

Tandoori Masala

Tandoori Masala

I never thought I would make masalas at home someday. Never. It’s for mom’s, grandmom’s and MDH/Everest, not for me. Or so I thought. Until now. Until I started taking my food seriously, until I observed health scares, food adulteration and until I started blogging.

Blogging has opened such new avenues, roads and direction, that attempting something new or bizarre is on my TO-Do list most of the time. It’s wonderful. It’s wonderful that I at least ‘think’ of making bread at home(till a year back I would have said ‘are u mad?!’ )
And now, I want to make granola, pies, tart cases, breads, dried nuggets, masalas at home! Yay! ūüôā

Moral: Never say ‘Never’.

Whole Spices

Whole Spices

The beauty of making things from scratch is that it is actually not that difficult as they seem to be. Especially these spice powders/masalas. With the right ingredients at hand, all you need is the zest to do stuff.

The other day I set out to make paneer tikka. Opening up my precious saved recipes, I glance through the ingredient list and am bummed by the presence of Tandoori Masala.

Now a little word on my culinary needs and uses for these spice powders. Usually, mostly I refrain from using these mixes. Especially the market variety where they use preservatives and colors. The only powders I use are for Channa and Sambhar – both of which are sent by dear mothers( God bless them!). And sometimes, when mother attempts something new, she sends me a little of that too. Sweet.
But, now with no tandoori masala at hand, I set to make some of my own.

Fresh, fragrant and fantastic

Fresh, fragrant and fantastic

Stunned by the simplicity of the procedure, I was even more ecstatic with the fragrance it emanates once mixed with food.

I am fascinated by colors, beauty and aroma of what nature has to offer, like this gorgeous Star Aniseed. Its fragrant, flavorful and fabulous. Just one or two of this beautiful spice is enough to take anything to another realm.

Star of the masala

Star of the masala

Recipe:
tbsp: tablespoon
tsp: teaspoon

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1-2 star aniseed
  • 3/4 tbsp cloves
  • 2-3 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 tbsp red chili powder(I use kashmiri powder – very red but not very spicy)
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2-3 tsp salt

Method

Heat a wok, dry roast cumin seeds, coriander seeds, star aniseed, cloves and cinnamon. After 7-8 minutes, switch the flame off. Cool the mix. Grind along with red chili powder, turmeric powder and salt. Store in air tight container.

I live in Mumbai, where its hot and humid most of the time, so I refrigerate the spice mixes in order to retain color and flavor. So, please do as you deem fit.

For best results, use this powder as a garnish or stir it in the last minute and avoid cooking it.

Dry Roasted and Finely ground

Dry Roasted and Finely ground

Uses of Tandoori Masala:

1. In the marinade for Paneer Tikka.
2. On Punjabi tandoori Pizzas
3. Stir/Garnish it in soups/dals.
4. Best in punjabi dishes, like Dal Makhani, Paneer makhani etc.
5. Non vegetarians can use it with their chicken.
6. Sprinkle on pakoras/bhajjiyas
7. Sprinkle on paneer or vegetables in kathi rolls.

I have tried this aromatic mix on pizzas, dal makhni and paneer tikka wrap. Needless to say the result were outstanding.

Great for pizzas, tikkas, curries and biryanis

Great for pizzas, tikkas, curries and biryanis

Advertisement

My Favorite Posts

Here is a quick glance at some of the most liked posts so far…

1. HERB CHEESE PULL APART BREAD

Herb Cheese Pull Apart Bread

Herb Cheese Pull Apart Bread

2. MILEE’S 6TH BIRTHDAY PARTY

Little monkeys turn into cute chefs.

Little monkeys turn into cute chefs.

3. SPINACH CORN DIP AND SOME CANAPES

Tasty Finger Food

Tasty Finger Food

4. PITA BREAD AND A VEG GYRO

Gyro Un wrapped!

Gyro Un wrapped!

5. RAJASTHANI GOURMET – SKINNY DAL BAATI

Rajasthani Special - Daal Baati,  Spring Onion Stir fry and Garlic Red chili Mint chutney

Rajasthani Special – Daal Baati, Spring Onion Stir fry and Garlic Red chili Mint chutney

6. TANDOORI MASALA

Tandoori Masala

Tandoori Masala

7. THAI RED CURRY

Thai red curry with brown rice

Thai red curry with brown rice

8. DATE NUT ENERGY ROLLS

Date-Fig Nut Rolls

Date-Fig Nut Rolls

9. PURPLE RICE BOWL

Purple Rice Bowl - Chinese Style

Purple Rice Bowl – Chinese Style

10. BEET PESTO AND SOME PINK PENNE PASTA

Pink Penne in Pesto Sauce

Pink Penne in Pesto Sauce

PHOTOGRAPHY STYLING CHALLENGE: MORNINGS

One of my favorite shots

One of my favorite shots

Shahi Paneer and Whole Wheat Stuffed Kulchas

A complete meal.

A complete meal.

Sunday Lunches are usually special in our house. I don’t know why. Maybe because I lighten the breakfast and skip cooking dinner. Whatever the reason, these meals bring much happiness, smiles and cheer. So, one such beautiful sunny day our lunch was a full blown punjabi meal.

heavy lunch, this.

heavy lunch, this.

Delicacies using paneer or cottage cheese is very integral to the vegetarian Punjabi. If you are going to refuse tandoori chicken and lamb kebabs, then paneer is the The Protein for you. The cuisine comprises of lip smacking dishes with chickpeas, paneer, whole black lentils and copious amounts of cream and ghee. Punjabi food was the hottest cuisine to tuck into back in the late 70s and 80s.

That Sunday I made a creamy paneer side along with vegetable stuffed oven baked unleavened bread and some rich whole lentil dal. The dishes are heavy and little bit of it stuffs you up. But we like to make it just the way it should be. No fat free version, no zero oil. This kind of lunch makes us forego dinner and just snack on salads and soup.

I have recipes for the paneer and the flatbread. Saving the dal for another post.

SHAHI PANEER

Shahi is royal in hindi. Royalty comes with a whole lot of ghee/butter and cream. So please don’t attempt this curry with fat free oils ūüôā
Shahi paneer is a wonderful aromatic curry made using cream, tomatoes and spices. This is my second favourite recipe of the cheese after Makhani Paneer.

Shahi paneer

Shahi paneer

Ingredients

  • 200 gms paneer/cottage cheese, cut into cubes
  • 2 medium sized onions, minced
  • 5/6 cloves of minced garlic
  • a tiny piece of ginger
  • 2/3 green chilies, minced
  • 3 red ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tbsp ghee or butter
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 green cardamom
  • a small stick cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp red chili powder or as per taste
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp tandoori masala or garam masala
  • 1 tsp dried crushed kasoori methi
  • salt as per taste
  • 1 cup cream or malai
  • optional: 1/2 cup mushrooms or bell peppers.
  • To garnish: coriander leaves or mint leaves.

Method

In a wok, heat ghee/butter. Drop the bay leaf, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon. Saute for just about a minute. Crackle the cumin. Add the minced garlic, ginger, green chilies and onions. Sprinkle little salt. Cook till the onions turn translucent. Remove the whole spices if you’re afraid kids will bite into it. Add kasuri methi and fry for another 30 seconds. Now add the tomatoes, along with red chili powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder and salt. Cover and cook till the fat leaves the sides. Takes approx 10-12 minutes.

Once that is done, stir in the cream. Mix well. Give it a boil. Stir in the tandoori masala. Add chopped cubes of paneer. Switch the flame off, garnish with coriander leaves or mint.

Serve hot with any flatbread or rice.

Note: If you want to add other vegetables, sauté the chopped veggies in a different wok using very little fat or oil. Stir the sautéed veggies when you add paneer to the onion tomato cream mix.

Note: Mincing the veggies really fine is the key here. Makes the gravy come into one harmonious mix.

Easy to make

Easy to make

UNLEAVENED STUFFED KULCHAS

Kulchas are small round Indian bread made from flour, milk, and butter, typically stuffed with meat or vegetables. Some use leavening agents like yeast or baking powder. I have skipped the leaveners and used whole wheat instead of refined flour. Dotted with nigella seeds and sesame seeds these little breads are extremely nutritious and very easy to make.

Whole wheat stuffed roasted flatbread

Whole wheat stuffed roasted flatbread

The stuffing I used was made with crushed boiled potatoes, minced onions and coriander leaves. You can be innovative and use any grated vegetable you like. Carrots, cheese, cauliflower, peas make great fillings too.

Stuffing

Stuffing

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • a bit of salt
  • 1/2 tsp carrom seeds or ajwain
  • 1 cup milk
  • Optional: 2 tbsp cream or ghee
  • 1 tsp white sesame seeds and 1 tsp nigella seeds, mixed and set aside.
  • To serve: ghee or white butter.

Method

To the flour, add salt, carom seeds. Using luke warm milk bind the dough. Use more milk if required. The dough should be soft and pliable. If you like, you can add a bit of cream or ghee to the flour before binding. Once done, keep covered for 30 minutes or more.

For the stuffing: Use boiled potatoes, minced onion, green chilies and coriander leaves. Mix well, add salt and cumin powder.

To make the kulcha:

Heat a flat griddle or tawa.
Grab a handful of the dough, make a well in the centre, put a tablespoon of the stuffing, close it like a basket. and using more flour roll it out into a small circle. Before placing the rolled out circle onto the griddle, sprinkle some mixed sesame and nigella seeds. Press the seeds into the dough using the rolling pin. Carefully pick the rolled out circle and slap it onto a semi hot griddle. Once it browns a bit, flip the kulcha and roast a bit from the other side.

The making

The making

Now, you can roll the rest of the dough in similar fashion and keep the slightly roasted ones aside. There are two ways to go ahead from this step:

1. You can use a tong and directly roast the kulcha on an open flame till it browns beautifully. Serve hot with ghee or butter on top.

2. Pre heat the oven to 200 degree C. Place the kulchas on a tray and bake till they brown. Takes approximately 6-8 minutes. Serve with ghee or butter.

Kulchas taste great with paneer, kali dal, amritsari channe and many more!

Note: If you add spices to the stuffing and use it for filling the kulcha, it will be good enough to eat with a bowl of yoghurt. No curry, sides or lentils required then.

Perfect combination

Perfect combination

Whole urad lentil and rajma is soaked overnight and pressure cooked. Cream, ghee and milk is again used copiously in this dal. It is so rich and whole I felt it deserves a space of its own. So another post will carry the recipe and mouth-watering pictures.

Not to forget the daal

Not to forget the daal

Alarmed at the quantity of fat and cream used in the recipes? Well, that’s why we make it sparingly and save it for special occasions. Like a sunday ūüôā

Yumm.

Yumm.

The Year That Was – Blogversary Post

05/02/2014, a beautiful bright sunny day.

It has been a year. Already.
I distinctly remember that moment when my hands were unsteady, the thought so random and my gaze intent yet distant. Just how out of the blue, I decided to start a blog. With absolutely no expectations, no speculations and no definite idea or vision or plan, I set to write. My first post had me just express my wish to write new recipes and contribute to the existing ones. I had no notion of the kind of journey I was going to have. And oh.. what a journey!! Replete with new friends, new recipes, ardent interest in photography and a phenomenal medium to express my thoughts and opinions, I now have a clear road to walk upon ūüôā

‘Do you get anything out of it’, is one query I get asked the most :). What they mean is, do I earn anything out of the blog. I was stumped the first time, but now I am so used to it that I have the answer memorized. Aww…no money, but I get immense creative satisfaction… blah blah, but saying it so many times makes it all a bit apocryphal… but the fact is, It is true. The kind of euphoria that this baby of mine garners cannot be compared to anything except maybe having real human babies of our own. I am so in love with what I do. Now this is a huge blessing as you all know, to find love in your chores or work or life is no small feat.

To celebrate this blogversary, I have listed my top 10 most viewed and favorites posts of the year that has been –

1. HERB CHEESE PULL APART BREAD

Herb Cheese Pull Apart Bread

Herb Cheese Pull Apart Bread

2. MILEE’S 6TH BIRTHDAY PARTY

Little monkeys turn into cute chefs.

Little monkeys turn into cute chefs.

3. SPINACH CORN DIP AND SOME CANAPES

Tasty Finger Food

Tasty Finger Food

4. PITA BREAD AND A VEG GYRO

Gyro Un wrapped!

Gyro Un wrapped!

5. RAJASTHANI GOURMET – SKINNY DAL BAATI

Rajasthani Special - Daal Baati,  Spring Onion Stir fry and Garlic Red chili Mint chutney

Rajasthani Special – Daal Baati, Spring Onion Stir fry and Garlic Red chili Mint chutney

6. TANDOORI MASALA

Tandoori Masala

Tandoori Masala

7. THAI RED CURRY

Thai red curry with brown rice

Thai red curry with brown rice

8. DATE NUT ENERGY ROLLS

Date-Fig Nut Rolls

Date-Fig Nut Rolls

9. PURPLE RICE BOWL

Purple Rice Bowl - Chinese Style

Purple Rice Bowl – Chinese Style

10. BEET PESTO AND SOME PINK PENNE PASTA

Pink Penne in Pesto Sauce

Pink Penne in Pesto Sauce

A special mention for one of my most favorite posts.., I have a sentimental attachment with this one:

PHOTOGRAPHY STYLING CHALLENGE: MORNINGS

One of my favorite shots

One of my favorite shots

Recipes aside, my random contemplatives have also been a great way to let some steam off once in a while ūüôā

I’ve had the best time contributing to this space, hope you enjoy reading my posts too. My efforts would all go in vain if you are not there to read and reply. So, thank you dear friends and foodies for your constant feedback and encouragement.

love,
Namrata

Pita Bread, Tzatziki and a Vegetarian Gyro Sandwich

Tzatziki in pita bread is divine

khaboos/khubz/khabooz – pita bread

Just when there’s a huge amount of work to be done, tons of cleaning and washing, two back to back classes for the child to attend, maids giving a miss.. it’s just in these times, that I usually cook something fancy. Its like, I already have so much work, a little more would not hurt.

Khabooz/ Pita Bread

Recipe Success

And then there are those times, when I can get so lazzy…. that I don’t clean or cook or run mad for classes and the maids also turn up. In those beautiful moments I *sigh*, I loiter, procrastinate, laze, enjoy a sleepy happy nap in the afternoon sun(Yea.. I love sunny naps.. when my eyes squint and thoughts dreamy and quixotic). I am like that.

Gyro Un wrapped!

Gyro Un wrapped!

So, on yet another busy harried day, I tried my hands at baking pita bread. And when you’re on a roll, you just can’t seem to stop. In effect, a greek yoghurt dip and a Gyro sandwich was churned up. You know how it is when one thing leads to another. Thats what happened to me too.

With pita read, some tzatziki, hummus, tandoori paneer and potatoes, we assembled a vegetarian version of the famous Gyro Sandwich! Yumm!

Pita Crispies served with Hummus

Pita Crispies served with Hummus

Also for dinner that night: Baked crisp pita bread served with oil loaded hummus. Cool eh?

Now getting down to some serious business.

PITA BREAD

Soft and Pillowy

Soft and Pillowy

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 tbsp oil
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • about 1 1/2 cups water
  • Optional: 1 tsp toasted flaxseed and sesame seed for topping

Method

Proof the yeast. Take both flours, salt, honey, oil and proofed yeast in a bowl. Using water, knead into a soft dough. Knead further until the dough is very soft and elastic, but is not sticky. Shape the dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl, rolling the dough in the bowl so it is well coated with the oil. Cover and keep aside to rise till double, for about 1 1/2 hours.

Once doubled, punch the dough to release some of the air and divide it into 8-10 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a smooth ball. Lightly dust your work surface with flour and roll out the ball to about 1/4″ to 1/8‚ÄĚ thick (not as thin as a chappathi). If your dough does not roll out well let it rest for about 20 minutes and the roll it out again.

Let the rolled out pitas rest for about 10 minutes, if you are using flaxseed and sesame seed, sprinkle on the bread before baking and then bake them on a baking sheet at 220C (430F) for about 5 to 6 minutes till well puffed up and cooked. If you want crisp pitas you can bake them a little longer, but for making Gyros you need the pitas to be soft.
Place them on a tack or a clean cotton towel to cool so they do not become soggy.

Note: I used exactly half the aforesaid quantity and it was good enough to feed 3 people.

Crisp pita dotted with flax seeds and sesame seeds, served with hummus.

Appetising!

Appetising!

TANDOORI PANEER AND POTATOES

Tandoori Paneer

Tandoori Paneer

Tandoori Potatoes and Paneer

Tandoori Potatoes and Paneer

Ingredients

  • 200 gms paneer, cut into cubes.
  • 2 large potatoes, parboiled and cut into long fingers
  • 1 cup thick curd
  • 2-3 tbsp chick pea flour or besan
  • spices in tsp – turmeric-1/2, coriander powder-1/2, red chili powder- 1, salt, tandoori masala-1, ginger garlic paste-1, amchur powder(dry mango)- 1/2)
  • oil – 1 tsp
  • chopped coriander leaves

Method

Mix together curd, chick pea flour, spices and coriander leaves. Marinate the paneer and potato in this spicy tandoori marinade. Leave for at least 30 minutes. I kept mine for 2 hours.
Once done, preheat an oven or a flat griddle, and bake these beauties on parchment lines paper till golden brown. Take care not to over bake or cook else the paneer will turn rubbery. Serve as required.

TZATZIKI

Greek Yoghurt made with cucumber

Greek Yoghurt made with cucumber

Ingredients

  • (1/2-3/4) cup chopped deseeded cucumbers
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup thick curd
  • 1 tsp of lime juice
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2-3 tbsp chopped dill leaves-optional
  • 1 tbsp mint leaves, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

Mix together all the ingredients except the cucumber till blended well. Sprinkle some salt on the finely chopped cucumber and keep aside for about 20 minutes. Squeeze out the water from the cucumber to dry it out as much as possible. Fold in the drained cucumber, garnish with more mint and refrigerate for about an hour before serving.

Note: Please don’t skip the honey, it adds much taste to this dip.

GYRO SANDWICH

Popular American Greek Street Food

Popular American Greek Street Food

A Gyro is a popular American-Greek street food, thought to have its origins in the Turkish Doner Kebab or Shawarmas.the name Gyro comes from the spiced meat for the sandwich, which is cooked on a revolving vertical spit from which thin strips are sliced off. Pronounced as “Yeer-Oh”, what I have here is a veggie version of it. You could even think of this as a paneer shawarma.

Method

Take one pita bread, on one half of it, the drama enfolds: Spread a tablespoon of hummus, some fresh Julienne veggies like cabbage, capsicum, onions and tomatoes. Place your tandoori paneer and potatoes. Top with Tzatziki – add as much as please. Fold the other half bread over it.

Serve!

I know the post is long, bear with me. I have been terribly busy lately. So, to publish 3-4 different posts seemed much harder than making a single one. I have a whole line of recipes coming soon(cooking a lot lately), so clubbing two-three smaller ones seems like the correct thing to do. Do drop a line if you think otherwise.

So easy to make

So easy to make

Take a bite

Take a bite

This recipe is my entry to Vardhini’s Bake Fest #25.

Paneer Corn Mushroom Cilantro Whole Wheat Pizza

Simple tastes yet a curious palette. Fond of familiar comfort food yet experimental with myriad cuisines. Happily digg in to something alien and innovative but satiated only with those last bites of conventional native usual viand. Sounds primitive?

Pizza with Indian Flavors - paneer, corn and cilantro

Pizza with Indian Flavors – paneer, corn and cilantro

I married a simple man. He likes dal rice and will be happy if a papad is added. The same guy never shies away trying something new and bold. He is experimental but his taste buds are immensely hard to please. If he doesn’t like something he will not mince his words to say so. He eats without creating a fuss partly because it is already made and he hates to waste food and partly because he loves me ūüėČ but later declares full throttle, that he will not eat that particular thing again.

He prefers familiar food. Something he has grown up with. Well, his case is not as severe as a friend of ours who even after having a full blown chinese meal wouldn’t be satisfied unless he had a small bowl of curd rice. ūüôā

Yummy Slice

Yummy Slice

Just 2 posts back, I tried my hand at this wonderful 100% whole wheat pizza dough, which was a fabulous sunday lunch for all of us at home. A simple margherita with astounding results.

Happily gobbled in no time, husband craved for something closer to home…No basil-shasil, lots of garden fresh veggies and a whole lot of coriander/cilantro leaves to garnish. The guy is in love with coriander leaves from time immemorial. He likes it in everything (except desserts). Daal, sabzis, soup/stew, pav bhaji, bread, rice or in parathas!

He told me to hide the basil, and get the coriander leaves out. Along came the corn paneer and mushrooms with a wee bit of tandoori masala to tantalize his austere palette.

One for all

One for all

The Recipe:

To make 1 medium sized pizza:

Ingredients

  • 100 % whole wheat pizza dough
  • 2-3 tbsp pizza sauce or simple ketchup
  • 1/2 cup sweet corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup chopped button mushrooms
  • 1 big onion, chopped
  • 4-5 tbsp grated paneer
  • 1 tbsp grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 tsp oil
  • 2 tsp tandoori masala
  • salt to taste
  • 2-3 tbsp fresh chopped coriander leaves to garnish
  • seasoning and red chili flakes – to serve with

Method

In a pan, heat oil. Saute onions. Once pinkish, add corn and chopped mushrooms along with a little bit of tandoori masala and salt. Takes hardly 3-4 minutes. Keep aside.

Roll out your dough into desired thickness on a pre oiled parchment paper. Spread the pizza sauce or ketch up on it. Spread the corn mushroom mix on it evenly. Top with grated paneer and little bit of cheese.

Ready for the oven

Ready for the oven

Bake at 200 degree celsius till the base slightly browns. Don’t wait for the paneer to brown, it won’t.
Once out of the oven. Sprinkle seasoning and chopped coriander leaves. Let is sit for 2-3 minutes – hardest to do. Then… Attack!

Right out of the oven

Right out of the oven

So, I chopped. He topped. We baked and then we devoured with such frenzy right on the kitchen top, that Milee definitely puts a check on the crazy parents box. The delightful bites with very Indian flavors won me over so much that I had to put this recipe up for you guys to try.

Healthy Indian flavored Pizza

Healthy Indian flavored Pizza

Milee did not care much for this mix mash of punjabi-italian slice. She was well fed with her simple margherita. But her amused, curious and ‘u guys are mad o wot’ look did seal the deal for a perfect end to a Sunday Brunch.

North Indian

Aloo Methi / Potato Fenugreek Curry
Methi Muthiya / Steamed Fenugreek Bottle Gourd Dumplings
Shahi Paneer served with Stuffed Whole Wheat Kulchas
Amritsari Channe
Mixed Sprouts Curry
Tawa Sabzi / Pan Roasted Stuffed Vegetables
Bajre ka Dalia or Khichri / Pearl Millet Porridge
Rajasthani Gourmet Delight – Dal Baati – a skinny version
Tandoori Paneer and Potatoes
Tandoori Masala
Mangodi Matar/SunDried Lentil Nuggets with Peas – No Onion No Garlic
Caramelized Onions and Beetroot Paratha
Non Fried Healthy Kofta Curry / Bottle Gourd Dumplings in tangy yoghurt gravy
Stuffed Pointed Gourd / Bharwa Parwal
Red Kidney Bean Curry / Rajma
Spinach Lentil Stew / Palak ki Daal
Makhni Paneer
Lasuni Bhindi
Vegetable Biryani
Mix Veggie Cheese Stir Fry

Rajasthani Gourmet Delight – Dal Baati, my Skinny Version!

Rajasthani Special - Daal Baati,  Spring Onion Stir fry and Garlic Red chili Mint chutney

Rajasthani Special – Daal Baati, Spring Onion Stir fry and Garlic Red chili Mint chutney

Rajasthan literally means “Land of kings”. The largest state of India, boasts of the great Indian desert in the midst of it. Culturally rich, folk music, dance and of course food holds a special place in the heart of every Rajasthani.

Rajasthani cooking was influenced by both the war-like lifestyles of its inhabitants and the availability of ingredients in this arid region. Food that could last for several days and could be eaten without heating was preferred. Scarcity of water and fresh green vegetables have all had their effect on the cooking. But now with technology nothing is scarce any more and you get everything everywhere at any time. So although you will find excessive use of lentils and pulses in their food, fresh vegetables has found its way into their thalis too.

Now Rajasthan’s signature dish is Dal Baati.
Baati is a hard, unleavened bread prized for its long shelf life and high nutritional content and for the minimal quantity of water required for its preparation. Baati is usually mostly eaten with dal/lentil stew. Traditionally, this dish is served with loads and loads of ghee/clarified buttter. But now since no one is happy eating that much ghee, we literally make it sans the fat.

Basket of Baked bites

Basket of Baked bites

Where I have been brought up on Dal makhani, tandoori roti, Chole Bhature, Rajma chawal, the husband was served Dal Baati. I had never tasted it before my marriage, and truthfully, I didn’t care for it much after that too. But after 10 years of togetherness, we start to like each other’s favorite food. Thats what marriage does to you. Now he doesn’t wince when Chinese is mentioned and I volunteer to make Dal baati! Now thats huge on my part.. ūüėČ

Baati

Baked to perfection

Baked to perfection

There are many ways to make the baati. The easiest is to deep fry the shaped dough in ghee till they turn golden brown and crisp. But that is also a sure shot way of clogging all your arteries and sending you to God a wee bit faster than desired.
So, we have all taken to baking them. Lot of people bake with out a traditional oven, by slow roasting on the gas using a metal sieve or a gas tandoor till the baatis have browned.

I use my regular oven and what I have learnt after many years of making horrendous mistakes is to make them small, literally bite size, so that they bake quickly and uniformly . Although shaping of the dough is actually a big pain in itself.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour/atta
  • 1/4 cup semolina/rava/sooji
  • salt to taste
  • 3-4 tbsp oil or ghee or cream/malai
  • Luke warm water to bind

Method

To the flour, add semolina, salt and the softener(ghee or oil or cream). Rub well with your palms. Now add warm water and bind into a semi hard dough. This will take some time, as you want your dough to be a bit stiff. Knead well. Keep aside covered for 30 minutes.

The smaller the better

The smaller the better

Now to make the rounds, pinch small portions out of the dough and shape into a ball, making sure that no creases or cracks are on the surface. To achieve this, you have to keep massaging the small round between your palms and shaping-reshaping them into perfect smooth round balls. Mind you this requires some time and patience, so my advice would be grab that bowl of dough, switch on the fan and put on some music, SIT and then start to make the rounds. Just makes it a little pleasant, that’s all.

Preheat your oven. Once the rounds are made, using a sharp knife, make light incisions making sure they do not go all the way to the base. This is done to ensure they are baked evenly and the insides do not remain raw. Place the rounds on a greased tray and bake for at least 30 minutes at 170C, till they brown and are cooked evenly. You can keep turning and checking on them while they are baking.

Once done, remove and keep them covered.

Serving Suggestion: While serving, coarsely crush the baati between a clean kitchen napkin using your palms. Ideally the crushed bits are topped with spoonfuls of ghee and served with dal and other sides.

Soak these beauties in a big bowl of daal

Soak these beauties in a big bowl of daal

Panchmeli Daal

This lentil stew is absolutely divine. Made with a mixture of 5 different lentils, tempered with garlic and onions, this makes for a perfect accompaniment for the royal baatis!

Panch meli Daal

Panch meli Daal

I usually eyeball the quantity of the daals/lentils and this dal is best made in ghee.

Ingredients

  • 2 fistfuls green split mung dal, chilke wali mung dal
  • 1 fistful yellow mung dal
  • 1 fistful toor/arhar dal
  • 1/2 a fistful urad dal
  • 1/2 a fisful channa dal
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 green chilies, slit lengthwise
  • 1 piece of ginger, julienned
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 1 big tomato, minced
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • red chili powder – according to taste
  • salt
  • Ghee or butter – 2 tbsp
  • To garnish: 2 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped

Method

Mix all the lentils, wash and soak for at least 30 minutes.
In a pressure cooker or a pan, boil all the lentils along with turmeric powder, bay leaf, salt, julienned ginger and 2 crushed cloves of garlic.

Garlic and bay leaf lend a tantalizing aroma to the lentil mix. Once done, keep aside.

In a deep pot, heat ghee, crackle the cumin, fry minced garlic, slit green chilies and onions till they turn pink. Now add tomatoes, along with red chili powder. Cook till the fat leaves the sides and the tomato is fully mashed. This will take about 5-6 minutes. Now add the boiled dal. Mix well. Boil for a couple of more minutes till the consistency is one. Lastly, switch the flame off, stir in garam masala and chopped coriander leaves.

Serving Suggestions: You can make an added tempering of ghee, one dried whole red chili, some cumin seeds and 1/2 tsp red chili powder. Pour it over the dal, serve hot.

Spring Onion Saute

Spring Onion Saute

Spring Onion Saute

This has to be one of the easiest and tastiest saute ever.
In a wok, heat little oil, crackle cumin, fry slit green chilies, throw in the chopped spring onions, along with salt, 1/4 tsp turmeric powder, red chili powder and 1/2 tsp coriander powder. Saute on high till the onions are rightly cooked, that is, not too mushy and still retaining a bite. That’s it. Serve.

Garlic Red chili Mint Chutney

Garlic Red Chili and mint Chutney

Garlic Red Chili and mint Chutney

Now this is one killer chutney! Best when made in a mortar pestle or over a stone. But a mixer would work fine as well.
Take: 1/2 cup chopped coriander leaves , 1/4 cup mint leaves, 6/7 soaked dried kashmiri red chilies, 1 huge clove of garlic and some salt. Grind into a coarse paste. Mix in juice of 1/2 a lime. Serve.

Sunday Brunch

Sunday Brunch

This recipe is my entry to Vardhini’s Bake Fest #25.