Kadai Vegetable, Restaurant Style

Quintessential Kadai Vegetable

Quintessential Kadai Vegetable

Location: A simple Indian home in the 90’s housing a calm, tolerant and mostly busy mother, a loving, indulgent father who never entered the kitchen or helped in any of the housework and three feisty spirited young girls with mind and tongues of their own.
Act 1: Pre Lunch preparation for some random guest.
Scene 1: Girls fighting for the sole spare burner in the hot messy kitchen of this noisy raucous house.

She: I need that kadai, you always try to take things that I need. Give it back, right now.
Me: I took it first, so I get to make my dish first.
She: You are so mean, the moment I said I want to make my curry now, you jump in with this crap. So Wicked!! Me(proving her point, with a wicked grin): Yes!! Need to be.. with irritating sisters like you!!

. . . More rumbling grumbling, a tug here and a pull there and finally mother’s discordant yell settles it. She wins. I get to use the burner when she is done. And I knew very well.. she will take her own sweet time to make that horrid spicy vegetable melange, the recipe of which she refuses to part with.

I seethed and fumed. Threw a fit and a fuss. Refused to do my bit and walked out sullenly to the comforts of my room. Blocking my ears with earphones and all that unbearable noise and camaraderie of sister-mother, I impatiently wait to be called by mother. Now this was routine.

Sisters, with not many years parting them, fight like cats and dogs. And whats also routine is, the dismissed child expecting to be appeased by the decisive parent. So, I waited.

Till mother comes to assuage, let me fill you in the workings of this mad house. We are three girls, young, noisy, controlling, fighting yet extremely loyal and always in support when we have to tackle the big bad world outside. And when we entertained we always helped. Helped in tidying up the house, though it was given to the youngest one – who didn’t have a choice but listen to two ruling prevailing sisters. Helped in the kitchen… gladly choosing our signature dishes( which by the way never changed) to cook and present to our esteemed guests ๐Ÿ™‚

So mother makes what she usually makes best and that which requires massive effort and experience. I keep experimenting and trying something new every time and she, she cooks one curry, every time – for the next 5 years ๐Ÿ˜‰ Though, to be fair, that spicy masaledaar Vegetable curry had many takers and much appreciation, made me so resentful and envious that I would refuse to put a morsel of it in my mouth. Sigh! How immature you would say. Yes, I do agree. But we were teens waiting to be appreciated and admired at the drop of a hat. Well! no amount of slickness from me could get hold of the highly guarded formula either.

Complete Meal

Complete Meal

Well, several acts and scenes later, and of course not to forget, age, marriage and kids later, we behave like how sisters ought to behave ๐Ÿ™‚ Like real ladies.
Bridges shortened, holes mended and love reignited, we now switch ideas in managing work, house and kids, not to forget over-grown babies called husbands. And of course we swap recipes ๐Ÿ™‚

And for that spicy masaaledar vegetable kadai, which I so vehemently dismissed as Horrid!! In truth, every bite was relished albeit far from the sisters prying eyes. So when I made it a point to feature on my blog and asked for the recipe, It was no surprise that a wonderful detailed mail waited for me, along with exhortative suggestions to do some mean photography with her prized signature dish!

Restaurant style gravy

Restaurant style gravy

Kadai Vegetable is a fiery mix of of vegetables simmered in a thick delicious gravy. Ideally the entire dish is made in an hard iron thick bottomed kadai or a wok, hence the typical name.

Easy alternative to paneer

Easy alternative to paneer

The recipe:

Ingredients

    • 1 1/2 cups diced vegetables ( par boiled) – I used carrot, beans, potatoes, cauliflower and peas
    • 1 capsicum, diced
    • 1 onion, diced
    • 1 tbsp oil
    • 1 chopped tomato
    • 1/4 cup diced paneer – optional
    • 2-3 tbsp of cream – if need arises
    • ginger julienne and coriander leaves to garnish
    • Dry masala : 1-11/2 tsp red chilli powder 1 tsp coriander or dhania powder 1/2 tsp cumin or jeera powder 1/2 tsp garam masala 1/4 tsp turmeric or haldi powder 1/4 tsp pepper powder 1/2 tsp saunf or fennel seeds 2 tsp of khus khus or poppy seeds 6-7 cashewnuts
    • Wet masala: 1 handful of coriander leaves 1 tsp ginger garlic paste 3 tbsp curds 2 tbsp of cream 1/4 tsp sugar
Thats pretty much all you need.

Thats pretty much all you need.

Method

      In a wok or kadai, dry roast all the dry ingredients for a couple of minutes till they become fragrant. Remove and keep aside to cool. Grind the wet ingredients and keep aside. Once the dry ingredients are cooled, grind to a fine powder. In the kadai, heat a tbsp of oil, and shallow fry onions and capsicum. Remove and keep aside. In the same wok, throw in the dry masala and roast for less than a minute. Add wet ingredients and sautรฉ till oil leaves sides. Add chopped tomato and sautรฉ for a couple of minutes. Finally add cooked vegetables, onion, capsicum and paneer. Give it a nice boil. Flavour with salt. If the gravy is thick or spicy, add milk or cream accordingly. Garnish with coriander leaves chopped and thinly sliced ginger. Serve with hot chappathis, rotis, naan, rice or bread.
Julienne ginger and green chili garnish - typically North Indian

Julienne ginger and green chili garnish – typically North Indian

Note:
You can add any vegetable of your choice, although gourds don’t really taste in this kind of gravy.

Note:
A bit of paneer or cottage cheese makes this dish richer.

Note:
Alter the spices according to your level of heat

Note:
We always had a bowl of yoghurt with this kind of lunch, it helps beat the heat!!

Ideal For Sunday Fiestas

Ideal For Sunday Fiestas

I soon realise the recipe is pretty simple and not at all time consuming. So when I wondered aloud to her as to why would she ever take so long in prepping this simple dish, her smug replies leave me wanting to bite her head off!!! Sisters I tell you.. wicked bunch they are!

Taking sister’s signature dish to lovely Angie’s weekly visual potluck – Friday Feista, #63. Peek in to see some great delicacies. ย Hope they like it!

Aloo Methi

Simple rustic Aloo methi served with rice and salad

Simple rustic Aloo methi served with rice and salad

There are some memories which never fade and some which just evanesce into oblivion. But smell can be a powerful memory trigger. Smell so rustic and comforting that deep buried images stand bare and bigger, usually leaving you distraught. You will be tormented and distressed till you put all those cognizant images back to where they belong.

Now before you speculate extraneous theories, let me clarify. The smell that invoked such strong visuals of my past, was nothing more than potatoes and fenugreek being sautรฉed on a particularly hot humid day. It wafted from somewhere above. Where, who, when and how … I did bother, but soon all that dissipated when flashbacks of the mother’s kitchen loomed up at me. Someone was making food just like my mothers – this thought was eerily comforting.
I mean, how weird, I tell myself. Whats there to get excited to smell food like what your mother cooked for you. But I was.

Fenugreek has medicinal properties.

Fenugreek has medicinal properties.

Aloo methi. Something so traditional and homey and simple….now why am I making a post for this? I am making this for all those young people out there who suddenly-mindlessly crave for food that they have grown up with. That cozy feeling – that you get out of familiarity.
And for documentation purposes too ๐Ÿ˜‰
15 years down the line, I doubt if the daughter will ever call and ask for a recipe. She most probably will scan her favourite sites and lastly come to her mums where she will read this and nod and say yes, I miss my mother’s cooking too. And now I’m just being too hopeful! Am I not??! Never mind.

What all you need -

What all you need –

Just potatoes and fresh fenugreek leaves sautรฉed in some powerful mustard oil, with a bit of all Indian spices, and look how I am dancing with my words! Well, the above picture shows you all that you need to make this wonderful side to your everyday bread or rice.

That essential piece of lime!

That essential piece of lime!

There are plenty of variations for this vegetable side or sabzi as we call it. Mother used mustard oil, and no onions or garlic or any other paraphernalia for this dish. She kept it simple and it worked fabulously. A drizzle of lime and some fresh salad is all that you need to make your day.

Made my day :)

Made my day ๐Ÿ™‚

Ingredients

  • 2 cups par boiled potatoes, diced into medium sized chunks
  • 2 cups of fenugreek leaves, picked, washed and roughly chopped
  • 2-3 green chilies, minced – optional
  • 1 big whole red chilli
  • 2 tbsp mustard oil or any other oil would also do.
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1-2 tsp red chill powder or as desired
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds and mustard seeds mixed
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida powder – I don’t skip this!
  • salt to taste.
  • Lime wedges to serve with

Method

In a large skillet or pan, drop a tsp of oil. Gently roast the potatoes till it gets a golden coating all over it. Regular tossing and turning help. Once done, remove from the pan and keep aside.

In the same skillet, heat rest of the oil. Crackle cumin and mustard seeds. Add asafoetida and whole dried red chili. Fry chopped fenugreek leaves and green chilies till they wilt. Now add potatoes, along with all the masalas and salt. Saute for another minute or so.

Serve with chappathis or rice or any bread.

No onion, no garlic. So easy peasy!

No onion, no garlic. So easy peasy!

Note: if desired, 2 tsp chopped garlic can be added before adding the fenugreek leaves.

you will not regret making this :)

you will not regret making this ๐Ÿ™‚

Like someone rightly said We live on the leash of our senses. Taking this wonderful aromatic side to pair with Angie’s gorgeous phulkas, for her 41st Friday Fiesta. come take a look, she make these chappathis and every single one puffs up! P
Happy Cooking dear foodies!

Ragda Pattice

Ragda Pattice

Ragda Pattice

Yet another Mumbai chaat. Fast food. Street Food. Junk Food. His Food. Everybody loves kinda food ๐Ÿ™‚
Since I am not a fan of chaat especially this one, I hardly ever make it. You know how it is, when we cook things that usually we like and somehow forget to make that we don’t? Does it happen to you?

Unconsciously I was doing that. I cook what I crave to eat. And chaat, a medley of deep fried crackers and vegetables and lots of Indian fried junk, all infused with sweet, spice and sour – is not on my list. Yea, I know I’m insane. Almost everyone I know love it! I don’t know how I missed the bus.
I once had a 60 year old friend visiting us from San Fran and he asked for pani puris. I was like.. will you be able to take the heat?!! He enjoyed every morsel while I skeptically held a bottle of bisleri ready for him.

Potato Pattice roasted nice and golden

Potato Pattice roasted nice and golden

This so called snack requires so many little things that most people I know eat it for a meal rather than a refreshment. It takes hardly any effort to put it together.. that is, once you have all the stuff with you. A bit of planning, a bit of prepping and you can make this in no time! Yet, I thought of this yummy tangy sweet plate of chaat after ages… I simply forgot about it.

Well, this one is his favourite, he really likes any chaat. Especially Mumbai street food. So he was in for a surprise when the answer to his mundane whats-for-dinner was Ragda Pattice. The name’s intriguing.
Essentially, deep fried potato cutlets(-the pattice bit) are dunked in a yellow dried peas gravy(the ragda), topped with tamarind chutney, green mint chutney, chopped vegetables and garnished with lots of thin fine sev and coriander leaves.
Instead of deep frying the cutlets, I chose to add a bit of cornflour and sautรฉ them with a tsp of oil on a non stick pan. It works just fine.

She had it for the first time. Yes, no kidding!

She had it for the first time. Yes, no kidding!

The Recipe-

Ingredient

Potato Patties or Cutlets

  • 1 kg boiled potatoes
  • 4 tsp cornflour
  • 1/2 tsp red chill powder
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped
  • a bit of oil to roast them in a non stick pan.

Ragda or Yellow Peas Curry

  • 1 cup dried yellow peas, soaked overnight or for 7-8 hours.
  • 1/2 tsp chopped ginger garlic
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder

To assemble: one plate of ragda pattice:

  • 2 potato cutlets
  • 4 tbsp ragda
  • 1 tsp green chutney
  • 1 tsp tamarind chutney
  • 1/2 tsp each of chopped onions, tomato and grated carrot
  • 1/2 tsp thinly sliced ginger and green chilies – optional
  • 1 tbsp of fine sev
  • sprinkle of chaat masala
  • a dash of lime
  • coriander leaves to garnish
The whole deal

The whole deal

Method

For the Pattice – mash the boiled potatoes, add salt, red chill powder, cornflour and coriander leaves. Mix and mash well. Then grab small handfuls of the mixture and make flat balls out of them. Preferable refrigerate for at least an hour. This makes the batter firm and the end result crisp.

When ready to use, heat a pan, add a tsp of oil. Roast these cutlets till golden brown and crisp.

Note: Cornflour is the magical ingredient! It binds and prevents from splitting the patty. the crunch in the cutlet is enhanced by refrigeration and the cornflour.

Note: You can deep fry them if desired, in which case, to prevent splitting, add a slice or two of crushed bread and definitely refrigerate for a couple of hours.

Note: You can bake them too!

Love this Carb!

Love this Carb!

For the Ragda – Boil the yellow pea with 3 cups of water, salt, turmeric and crushed ginger garlic. I pressure cook the peas. Its faster. If you do not have a cooker, boil them in a covered pot till mushy. Since dried peas/beans are major defaulters in hindering digestion, I would suggest soak and then boil it well. Usually not-properly cooked beans or pulses cause a lot of gas and discomfort.

Note: I use the boiled ragda as it is. But some people add a tempering of oil, mustard seeds and curry leaves.

Note: Ragda can be eaten as it is, top with the chutneys and chopped onions, tomatoes and finish off with a bit of lime and chaat masala. Its like a thick tangy sweet spicy stew! In Mumbai some enjoy it with a piece of pav or dinner roll.

The Ragda, whole yellow dried peas curry

Ragda, whole yellow dried peas curry

Now for the final Plating:

Place 2 cutlets on a plate, pour 3/4 tbsp of ragda over it. Drop a tsp of green mint and tamarind chutney each. Dot with chopped onions, tomatoes and grated carrot. If using julienne ginger, add now. Sprinkle chaat masala and a squeeze of lime. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and sev.

Serve immediately!

Note: Potatoes and dried peas are highly gaseous and not so easy to digest. So I usually add a lot of raw julienne pickled ginger.

Thats what a ragda lattice plate looks like

Thats what a ragda pattice plate looks like

I am taking this to Angie’s Fiesta Friday #26. Do take a peek to see other awesome entries all in one post.

Makhni Paneer

Classic Paneer Makhani

Classic Paneer Makhani

I am highly skeptical about this. Taking an old post, revamping it with new photographs and republishing is a first for me. I have my doubts and reservations. The old one is very much a part of me, an integral part of my growing up here. Now with a wee bit more photography skills, to demolish the old one simply seems cruel.

Well, I did it anyways. And for keep sake, this picture below shows you what it was when I shot it a year back ๐Ÿ™‚

Cottage Cheese in Creamy tomato gravy

Cottage Cheese in Creamy tomato gravy

I have an improved version of the same classic recipe. Adding whole kashmiri red chilies to the gravy worked fabulously on the gorgeous deep red colour!

Now for keep sake, I even lifted some of my original words and placed it here –

Makhani Paneer is a popular curry from the northern states of India. Add fresh home-made paneer or cottage cheese to a simmering hot blend of onions-cashews and tomatoes. Crushed kasuri methi lends that mesmerizing aroma, which fills your home with such love, that neighbors know you are cooking something special. It’s a great accompaniment with naan, chappati, rice or simply toasted bread.

Top on the husbandโ€™s list of favorites, itโ€™s a sure winner every time I make this. Ideal for sunday lunches and on party menus. I make it rarely as it is loaded with butter and cashews and FAT. But whenever I do, the family pigs out.

Well.. er… that rarely has become quite regularly in my house. And yes, they still pig out.

Rich and creamy

Rich and creamy

Ingredients

  • 200 gms paneer, diced into neat big pieces
  • 3 onions, chopped
  • 6-7 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 small tiny piece of ginger
  • 4 tomatoes, chopped
  • a fistful of cashew nuts
  • 1 cardamom
  • 2 cloves
  • 3/4 whole kashmiri red chilies
  • 1 small stick of cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp red chili powder or according to taste
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp crushed kasuri methi or dried fenugreek leaves.
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp butter
  • salt according to taste
  • 1 small capsicum or green bell pepper, sliced
  • chopped coriander to garnish

Method

Heat oil in a kadai/pan. When hot, throw in garlic, ginger, onions, cashews and the whole spices. Add little salt, cover with lid and let it cook. After 5-6 minutes, add tomatoes, along with the dry masala powders – turmeric, red chill, whole red chilies and coriander. Now cover again and cook for 10-15 minutes, taking care to keep mixing it in between. It should be cooked well enough for the oil to leave sides. Once done, cool the mixture.
Then with the help of milk, grind the cooled onion tomato mix to a fine smooth orange paste. In another pan, heat butter, saute the sliced capsicums. Once almost done, add this orange gravy, and let it simmer for a minute. Sprinkle crushed kasuri (fenugreek) leaves and salt. Mix well. Add the diced paneer. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

Serve along with onion ring salad.

Ideally served with super soft rotis or naans. Any kind of bread or rice also goes well with this flavorful curry.

Note: If you like, slightly saute the paneer in butter and add them to the gravy. But I added them as it is. This is a rich full fat curry, did not want to add more.

Perfect with soft wheat rotis

Perfect with soft wheat rotis

When in no mood to experiment or debate or try, we turn to this fool-proof signature dish of mine. Returning from an erratic work schedule and long travelling dull days, he knows for sure what he will find on the table. His most favourite dish ๐Ÿ™‚

Comfort Food

Comfort Food

I am taking this over to Angie’s Weekly Potluck Parties, Friday Fiesta #24! Do have a look at the other dishes and recipes.

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 ๐Ÿ™‚
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, sautรฉ the chopped veggies in a different wok using very little fat or oil. Stir the sautรฉed 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

Yumm.

Yumm.

Appams and Vegetable Stew

My eyes widened with surprise. ‘They have an english name?! Really? Oh wow’.
Hoppers, he said.
‘Hoppers? So funny’, I was skeptical. He didn’t bother to elaborate and I googled an hour later ๐Ÿ™‚

Lacy Hoppers is the anglicized name given to these lacy soft delicious pancakes made with rice and coconut milk. A speciality of a state tucked away in the south west corner of India. Kerala.

Vegetable Stew and Appams, a Kerala Speciality

Vegetable Stew and Appams, a Kerala Speciality

Kerala, commonly referred to as ‘God’s own Country’ is dotted with majestic hills, serene backwaters and palm fringed beaches. Along with its incredible beauty, highest literacy in a state, the place boasts of many gastronomical surprises. Kerala cuisine has a multitude of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes prepared using fish, poultry and red meat. Since coconuts grow in abundance, the keralites use them in and on everything. Literally.

Creamy coconut gravy

Creamy coconut gravy

A thin vegetable stew simmered in coconut milk, flavored with whole spices like cinnamon and bay leaf and garnished with a tempering of curry leaves. Sounds good? Yes, even better with soft lacy pancakes. I used to make them so often earlier. And then in between I just stopped. I don’t know why. Maybe we got bored and then I simply forgot about them. Well, the husband reminded me and out came the aching desire to eat these hoppers with a runny stew.

Appams are bowl-shaped thin pancakes made from fermented rice flour. They take their shape from the small Appachatti in which they are cooked. They are fairly neutral in taste and mostly served with some spicy condiment or curry. These hoppers are made from a batter using rice, yeast, salt and a little sugar. After the mixture has stood for a couple of hours, it can be fried in the appachatti with a little oil. It is mostly served with Kadala (Chickpea) curry, mutton or vegetable stew or egg roast.

PLAIN HOPPERS/AAPPAMS

In an appam chatti

In an appa chatti

Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked rice, soaked. I used normal kolam rice.
  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 1/4 cup fresh coconut pieces
  • coconut water to grind, optional.
  • salt to taste
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • little oil to make the appams.

Method

Soak the rice for at least 3/4 hours. Grind the soaked rice, cooked rice and coconut using coconut water to a smooth paste. Add salt and sugar. Let it stand for at least 6 hours.

Before using the batter, add baking soda. Mix well. Now heat an appa chatti or a you can use any non stick small wok. Add just nne drop of oil to ensure that the batter doesn’t stick. Now drop a ladlefull of batter. Pick up the appa chatti in your hands, twirl it, so that the batter forms a lace around the middle portion. Place back on flame, cover and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or till the sides start to leave the pan.

Serve with any curry, or stew or any non vegetarian curry of your choice.

Note: The batter though fermented is not one bit sour. Maybe because of the natural mild sweetness from the coconuts and the addition of 1/4 tsp of sugar.

Thin soft delicious

Soft Lacy Delicious

VEGETABLE STEW

Simple flavorful curry

Simple flavorful curry

Ingredients

  • 1 cup assorted vegetables, I used carrots, beans, cauliflower, potatoes, peas and capsicum – chopped.
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp ginger garlic, minced
  • 3/4 green chilies, minced – optional
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 big bay leaf
  • 2 cardamoms
  • 4-5 pods of black pepper
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 cups coconut milk, I used store brought.
  • Tempering: 1 tsp oil, 1/2 tsp mustard seeds and few sprigs of curry leaves.

Method

In a pot, heat coconut oil. Saute the whole spices till fragrant. Now add the ginger garlic, green chilies and onions. Saute till they just turn pink. Add all the chopped vegetables, along with salt. Pour half the coconut milk along with 1/4 cup water. Mix, cover and let it simmer till the vegetables are almost done.

Now stir in the rest of the coconut milk and let it boil for a minute or two. Make a tempering of oil, mustard seeds and curry leaves. Pour over the stew.

Serve hot with appams or plain rice or dosas.

Note: Since coconut milk is used generously, the stew needs to be spiced in order to be enjoyed with lacy appams. So I would suggest up the heat from the green chilies and peppers according to your taste.

Add any vegetable of your choice

Add any vegetable of your choice

Amritsari Channe

Amritsari Channe

Amritsari Channe

I am fretting and fussin over a name. An apt name for this wonderfully aromatic royal north Indian beans usually eaten with puffed deep fried pooris or bhaturas. They are made in a host of different ways hence we have names for every kind.

What I have here is a dark semi thick gravied version, usually made in Punjab, a northern state in India. Lot of spices are used, some whole, some ground. The end result is spicy, earthy and extremely flavorful. Love for these beans is eternal in my house. They sit happily waiting for their meal to arrive! Bliss, when you have happy faces to feed.

Over the years I’ve had little problem with Chickpeas. They usually turn out well. Having changed recipes several times, and now finally zeroed in on a cross between a couple of formulas, my tryst with these beans is here to stay.

With bread and salad

With bread and salad

My grouse lately is what to accompany this curry with. Traditional pooris and other deep fried stuff is out of our menu. Husband is happy with plain old chappathis. But I find it almost belittling to serve this curry with phulkas… just doesn’t seem right. Bread or ready made whole wheat kulchas are a better option. They somehow justify this royal dish ๐Ÿ™‚

With rice, papad and salad

With rice, papad and salad

For me, I almost always make some rice. Chole chawal is a regular in many north Indian homes. Roast a papad, cut up some salad, drizzle salt and lime juice – and you have a very tempting plate in your hands!

Works like magic

Works like magic

Chickpeas are usually white to light brown in color, and post boiling they turn a pale yellow. So, to deepen/darken the gravy, we have a very rustic old way to do so. A spoon full of tea leaves bundled in muslin cloth is dropped into the pot of boiling chickpeas. This darkens the beans and imparts an earthy flavor to the gravy. Mother also added whole spices into the bundle sometimes. Made it easier for her to remove the spices after their work was done, she says.

Ideal for anytime

Ideal for anytime

The Recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 and half cups kabuli channa or dried big chickpeas, soaked overnight.
  • 2-3 tbsp channa dal, soaked along with the chickpeas
  • 2 tsp ghee or oil
  • 2 whole cardamoms,
  • 1 bay leaf, 2/3 cloves, a small stick cinnamon
  • 3 garlic pods
  • a tiny piece of ginger
  • 1 big onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup leaves of mint and coriander leaves
  • 2 medium sized tomatoes, ground
  • 1 tsp anardana or dried pomegranate seeds
  • 3 tsp chole masala, store brought or home made
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp tea leaves tied in a muslin cloth
  • Garnish: Julienned ginger, onions, tomatoes, french fries and coriander leaves – optional.

Method

Boil chickpeas and channa dal along with the bag of tea leaves, crushed garlic and salt. Keep aside.
Grind chopped onions, ginger and leaves of mint and coriander to a fine smooth paste.

In a big wok, heat ghee or oil. Throw the whole spices – bay leaf, cloves, cardamom and cinnamon. Saute for a minute. Add and fry the onion-coriander mint paste till the oil leaves sides. To this add ground tomatoes along with anardana, chole masala, coriander powder and red chili powder. Mix well and fry the paste very well till the fat separates. Now mix in the boiled chickpeas. Give it a final mix and boil. Garnish.

Serve with pooris/bhature/bread/kulchas/rice.

For the calorie conscious!

For the calorie conscious!

Note: You can add the whole spices while boiling the chickpeas.

Note: Oil or any butter can be used, but I prefer ghee. It adds to the aroma and richness of the dish.

I love my rice!

I love my rice!

Comin back to the name. Ah a name! Since the method leans more towards the ambarsariya kinds, mother advised me to call it Amritsari Channe. And so I do as I am told. Its mothers day after all. ๐Ÿ™‚

Punjabi tadka

Punjabi tadka

Mixed Sprouts Curry

Mixed Sprouts Sabzi/Vegetable

Mixed Sprouts Sabzi/Vegetable

We joined the race. Long back though. But in order to revive the spirit of the so-called rat race I plunged again into a foray of ‘healthy food’. So I make greens one day, sprouts the next. Give porridge for dinner to sulky faces and sell squash soup as ‘the tastiest’ thing on earth. Yes, God gave them all a good mind of their own. Who am I trying to fool? sigh! I think I am just convincing myself that if I cook healthy, my family would be far from disease, pain and suffering. Ah, well.

So in those times when I go manic with my cooking, the family sorts out the yummy from the yucky. Some of the healthier stuff actually does taste good (please ask Elaine of foodbod.. she eats healthy ALL the time! I envy you Elaine ๐Ÿ™‚ ), like this sprouts curry I made the other day.

Sprouted and ready

Sprouted and ready

I mostly always mix all my beans/lentils to sprout. Its never only mung beans or only dew beans. A handful of mung, some dew beans(mat/moth), throw in some small black chick pea, a bit of dried white peas or anything you like! Soak overnight. Drain the water. Tie them all in a muslin cloth, sprinkle water over the tied cloth basket. Keep it for a day or two and let them germinate!

Mixed Sprouts

Mixed Sprouts

You can have them raw or cooked. I go the mid way usually. Cooking them a little bit till the raw smell and taste disappears but retaining the crunch. If you want to know more about sprouts, read here.

With Chappathis, pickle and salad

With Chappathis, pickle and salad

The Recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup mixed sprouts
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • a piece of ginger, minced
  • 1/2 tsp chopped green chilies – optional
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder or as desired
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • juice of 1/2 a lime, salt to taste
  • coriander leaves to garnish

Method

In a wok/kadai, heat oil. Splutter cumin seeds. Throw in the garlic, onions, ginger and green chilies. Saute till the onions turn translucent. Now add the tomatoes along with all the said spices. cover and cook till the oil starts to leave the sides of the wok. This may take about 10 minutes or so. Now add the sprouted lentils. sprinkle 2-3 tsp of water. Cover and cook till the sprouts are half done. I like mine not very mushy, so I add the sprouts in the end, but you could add it earlier in case you like them fully cooked.

Switch the flame off. Sprinkle lime juice and garnish with coriander leaves.
Serve as a salad or with chappathis or with any pulao or simple plain hot steaming rice.

Simple Nutritious lunch

Simple Nutritious lunch

Now for a note of caution:
Germinated raw food does not usually suit everyone. People suffering from gastric problems can get very uncomfortable after a small bowl of sprouts. Cooking the beans is easier to digest.

I suffer from migraine, and whenever I eat sprouts for dinner or raw, I end up with a splitting headache. Whereas, cooking the grains, having them during the day and combining them with garlic and ginger helps me get the best of everything that they have to offer ๐Ÿ™‚

Try a bite

Try a bite

This curry passed the acid test with my family’s taste buds. You try it too and if they don’t like it… well, I have some other recipes up my sleeve to include these wonder beans in your daily diet. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Radish leaves Stir Fry, South Indian Style

Radish leaves stir fry with coconut

Radish leaves stir fry with coconut

Bargaining at the local produce market is a classic case of being penny wise pound foolish, according to the ever critical husband. But I do what I do. It’s a matter of self-satisfaction. The okra doesn’t just taste as good if not bought a rupee less. He calls me Cheapo. I take a bow.

Well, it was in this very situation, when I was haggling for a few drumsticks to be sold a penny cheaper, that a very chic lookin lady caught my eye. She came haughtily to the stall I was sweetly squabbling at.

‘Mooli chaiye, jaldi do’ she seemed in a hurry. Give me radish. Quickly.

The intimidated vendor dashes a pair of handsome radish, fresh as dew drop with glistening green leaves. Oh! yumm.. I must buy some too .. were my immediate thoughts. What she did next was so startling that both the guy and me were dumbstruck for a few seconds.

The lady tears those beautiful leaves with such fervor and tosses them aside, dishes into her purse, flashes a 10 buck and literally throws them at the vegetable seller’s face. With only the radish neatly tucked under her arms, she vanishes as soon as she appeared.

Oh! I sigh, the vendor regains his composure and we both look at each other. The first thing I do is pick up those beautiful green leaves and announce that I am taking these – for FREE ๐Ÿ™‚ He laughs. Hard. I bought some radishes too. I paid for them, don’t worry.
We cannot really change the world, but a few smiles here and there, just because of you seems like a life worth living.

Tossing the greens aside is like the most stupidest thing to do. Radish leaves have more of Iron, Calcium, Vitamin C, phosphorous than the radish itself. The leaves of radish are diuretic, antiscorbutic and have a laxative effect. But maybe the poor lady didn’t know, lets give her the benefit of doubt.

The ingredients

The ingredients

Mother makes the greens in a typical north Indian style. She calls it mooli ki bhurji. I did not really care for it then, but now as we turn more aware and conscious of what we put in our mouth, the leaves take their place back in on our plates.
But dinner that night was rice and simple drumstick dal made the south Indian way. So I decided to try the leaves in a different style.

Taste best with rice and ghee

Taste best with rice and ghee

The recipe:

Ingredients

  • 2 cups chopped radish leaves
  • 10-12 sambhar onions/shallots or 1 big onion chopped
  • 4 pods of minced garlic
  • a tiny piece of grated ginger
  • 2-3 green chilies, minced
  • 3-4 curry leaves
  • 2 tbsp grated fresh coconut
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp urad dal
  • 1/4 tsp mustard seeds
  • salt to taste

Method

In a pan, heat oil. When slightly hot, add the urad dal and fry till they turn orange. At this stage add mustard seeds, curry leaves, garlic, ginger, green chilies and chopped onions. Fry till the onions turn translucent. Now add the radish leaves along with salt. Stir fry on medium heat till the leaves wilt and combine with the rest of ingredients into a soggy type mass.

Switch the flame off. Sprinkle grated coconut. Enjoy over a bed of rice and some fresh home-made ghee… ah so yumm!

Just a hint of ginger garlic

Just a hint of ginger garlic

Note: Shallots taste best in south Indian curries, although other onions would work well. But I like my kootus/poriyals etc with the shallots.

Note: You can have the stir fry just as a salad on its own, incase you are avoiding rice or other carbs.

Healthy and yummy!

Healthy and yummy!

I was on a Go green mission with my daughter the entire march, and using these leaves for my best out of waste dinner seemed just perfect for me. What do you think?

Tawa Sabzi / Pan Roasted Stuffed Vegetables

The options were innumerable. Endless counters of almost every cuisine dotted the lush green lawn under a starry clear chilly night. A big fat Indian wedding settles for no less. Star restaurants and myriad masterchefs cater and treat you like royalty, kids usually go berserk in places like these.
Their dilemma ranges from picking a variety of chocolate fountains to fresh hot clay oven pizza to live pasta counters to dozens of steaming hot dimsums….

So when she pointed to a certain stall, I was surprised. I asked again if that was what she wanted. A humongous, thick red hot iron griddle hosted a variety of luscious mean looking vegetables on it. The man behind the griddle kept an active hand in tossing turning and serving the spice coated stuffed veggies. Okras, baby brinjals, potatoes, jalapeno, mushrooms, cauliflower, broccoli.. some stuffed, some marinated, all grilled on a flat thick red hot iron griddle! We love this spicy Indian side, eaten with soft hot phulkas or Indian bread. But for a 7 year old to ask for it? Perplexing!

Griddle Roasted Stuffed Vegetables / Tawa Sabzi

Griddle Roasted Stuffed Vegetables / Tawa Sabzi

Apparently she had eaten it sometime earlier in some other ceremony, with my mother. You know how grandmoms are…. they give all the food that we eat to kids to taste, whereas girls nowadays(this includes me!) are weary of trying anything new. We want them to eat healthy and nutritious all the time. Or we worry that a particular food might be too oily or too spicy. But my mom encourages her grandkids to try everything. Let them decide, she says.

The Vegetables

The Vegetables

Her newfound love forced me to try this vegetable dish at home. And oh! I pass with flying colors ๐Ÿ™‚ I pick some of her favorites, like okra, mini brinjals, potatoes and mushrooms. Fresh, tender and preferably small ones work best for this recipe.
sautรฉed garlic, onion and tomatoes makes a yummy stuffing. There is another one too.. where the dry masala and spices are roasted, powdered and then filled. But for this post I stuck to the onion tomato mix.

Combine the two....

Combine the two….

I got a huge batch of baby brinjals. The tinier the better.

Little beauties :)

Little beauties ๐Ÿ™‚

She reserves a bunch of them just for herself, insisting, to be given in her lunch box the next day.

The cooked version

The cooked version

The recipe:

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of your choice vegetables, like baby brinjals, mushrooms, bell peppers, baby potatoes, okra, jalapenos
  • 2+ tsp oil

For the stuffing:

  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1.5 minced onions
  • 6-7 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2-3 green chilies, minced
  • 2 big red tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric pwd, 1 tsp coriander powder, 1 tsp red chili powder, 1 tsp garam masala
  • salt to taste
  • juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 4 tbsp chopped coriander leaves – yes! the more the better. Adds amazing flavor.

Method

For the stuffing –
Heat oil in a wok, once hot, crackle cumin. Throw in onions, garlic and green chilies. Saute till onions turn brown. Add tomatoes at this stage, along with all the dry masalas. Cover and cook very well till all the oil leaves the sides. It should not be of gravy consistency but that of a semi dry thick masala.
Season with salt, lime juice and coriander leaves. Mix well. Keep aside.

Stuffing, drizzled with lime

Stuffing, drizzled with lime

For the stuffed tawa sabzis –
Wash all the vegetables and wipe them with a towel to remove any excess water.
Using a sharp knife, make slits on brinjals, okra, jalapenos and potatoes. Make sure the slits do not reach the end of the vegetable. Just deep enough to fill the yummy masala.

Once the slits are made, using a small spoon, stuff the pre made, cool masala into it. Heat a flat-iron griddle, spread a tsp of oil. Place stuffed vegetables(only as many as can go on the tawa, don’t over-crowd) neatly on the hot griddle. Now, focus completely, keep tossin and turning the veggies till they are cooked.

Remove from griddle and serve hot with Indian rotis or flatbreads or rice or even on bread!

On the famous Tawa

On the famous Tawa

Note: Do not over crowd the griddle. If you have many veggies to be sauteed, then do so in batches.

Note: Do not slit mushrooms. Remove the mushroom stalk, scoop out a bit more, then stuff your masala. If you go to slit the mushrooms, they will all fall apart.

Roasted fresh veggies, hot chappathis, a bowl of curd and some salad by the side, a complete meal.

Oh so yummy!

Oh so yummy!

The following pic is styled and photographed by my spunky 7 year old. She insists on laying them on one side… make them sleep, she goads. Carefully she loops the heavy camera around her neck and under my vigilant eye, she clicks.
‘Put it up’ she orders. I comply. ๐Ÿ™‚

Binge on Brinjals

Binge on Brinjals