Oats Pongal

My first post of this year and hopefully I will blog more, photograph more and eat less. Wishful thinking or new year resolve? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Oats Pongal

Oats Pongal

Now Oats Pongal seems like an apt recipe to start your year with. While embarking on something new or long, usually the zeal is fresh, spirits high and your resolutions loud and clear. It’s the time of the year when you will exercise, because you just resolved to, you will watch what you eat because you just drew up that cheeky crazy diet plan to be diligently followed from January 2nd. It’s the time of the year when you do things that you want to do the entire year but really don’t do it ๐Ÿ™‚

So while you’re still on that rickety I-will-follow-all-my-resolutions ride, try this wonderful totally healthier version of the humble rice pongal made with oats and moong dal. Oooh so warm and comforting to hold a bowl full of this on a nice cold winter morning.

Skip the rice and use your oats

Skip the rice and use your oats

I am not fond of oatmeal. We Indians, usually like to kick start our day with something savoury… give us idlis, dosas, poha, upma, sandwich and we lick our plates clean and head out smiley and strong! Try putting sweet porridge in front of us and we crinkle our noses and take an hour to finish that bowl. But Oats has to be adopted. Its good, Its heart healthy, It watches your weight…ring in my ear persistently, and I find ways to make this grain savoury ๐Ÿ™‚

Pongal is a warm mushy South Indian rice dish, seasoned with black peppercorns, cumin and a bit of asafoetida. This version, skips the rice and substitutes it with oats. So those who have given the rice a miss, this meal is tasty, filling and totally guilt free!

A big bowl fills up all

A big bowl fills up all

The Recipe:

Ingredients

1/2 cup yellow split moong dal
3/4 cup quick cooking oats (I used Quakers)
salt and 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
water – 5/6 cups

Tempering:

1 tsp ghee or butter
5/6 chopped cashewnuts
3 curry leaves
1 green chili, slit – optional
6-7 whole peppercorns
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
a pinch of asafoetida

Garnish – 1/2 tsp each of coriander leaves and grated coconut

Method

Wash and soak moong dal for an hour or so. If you don’t have time to soak, use as it is.

In a wide pan, dry roast the oats for 4 minutes. Once done, remove and keep aside. Remove all the water from the dal, in the same pan, roast the soaked moong dal for a couple of minutes.

Now, in a heavy bottomed sauce pan, boil the dal with 3 cups of water, season with turmeric and salt. Cook till mushy. At this stage add oats along with 1 cup water. Cook till the oats and moong dal mix and come together. Add more water as per your desired consistency. Give it a boil or two and switch of the flame and keep the pan covered.

For the tempering, heat ghee, roast cashews till they turn golden. Keep aside. Then crackle cumin, add asafoetida, add curry leaves, green chilies, pepper corns. Saute for a minute. Pour this tempering on the pongal. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and grated coconut.

Serve with curd or green chutney or raita.

Break your fast with a big bowl

Break your fast with a big bowl

Note: Oats absorb a lot of water and tend to thicken quickly. For soft mushy pongal, add water in intervals and check for consistency.

Note: Feel free to add chopped vegetables like spinach, peas, carrot. You can add the vegetables after cooking the moong dal and before throwing in the oats.

Healthy eating

Healthy eating

Wishing you a very Happy New Year! Hope you get all that you wish for ๐Ÿ™‚

Advertisements

Dabeli

Dabeli

Dabeli

This has been the longest that I have gone without a post. And it makes me uncomfortable.
More so because I wasn’t sick or busy. Perfectly hale, hearty and enjoying all the interesting posts and doing things that I usually do. And yet, I couldn’t write.

Every now and then I need some motivation. He calls it kick, but I know he means literally ๐Ÿ™‚ Well, with no inspiration, I tend to do what I did. Procastinate. Hope dully, that maybe tomorrow I would be stimulated enough to publish. Ah! But things take their own time to happen. Even a post.
This bug is quite common with bloggers I hear. Every now and then I have blogger friends who disappear and then magically re-emerge. It’s a consolation. I am not the only one – I hear myself say. So, I put my feet up and bask in this self-imposed sabbatical. Waiting for things to happen on their own.

peanuts and the masala make this dish what it is!

peanuts and the masala make this dish what it is!

Dabeli. Spicy sweet crisp fun snack sold on the streets of Mumbai and Gujarat, this little guy has more fans than I could ever imagine. When you borrow the paav from the vada pav and steal some bhaaji from paav bhaji, decorate it with pomegranates, spicy peanuts and chutneys of various kinds, and finally sprinkle the highly aromatic dabeli masala, what you get is this crisp yet soft mushy paav meal which would satisfy those tiny hunger cravings.

Magic Masala

Magic Masala

Making the masala at home is a breeze, but still if you don’t have the time or resources to do so, it is easily available in any Indian store.
Now, like with any chaat/Indian street side junk, prepping this dish is elaborate, but assembling is fun and gets done in minutes.

A scroll view of all that you need to make one fresh crunchy Dabeli –

Take one dinner roll or paav, slice it into two neat halves –

dinner rolls or paav

dinner rolls or paav

Smear some prepared potato mixture –

Mashed Potato masala

Mashed Potato masala

Top with assorted paraphernalia according to taste –

The paraphernalia

The paraphernalia

This is how it looks from the insides –

thats what you see when you open one

that’s what you see when you open one

Slide the cap on –

Slide on the cap

Slide on the cap

Roast on a flat griddle till crisp and crunchy –

There, its complete now :)

There, its complete now ๐Ÿ™‚

Enjoy with a glass of chilled lemonade –

Cool it off!

Cool it off!

The recipe –

Serves 4-5 people:

Ingredients

  • 6 dinner rolls or paav or buns
  • 12 heaped tablespoons of potato masala(recipe below)
  • 6 teaspoon of dabeli masala(recipe below)
  • 1/2 cup roasted spicy peanuts
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate
  • 1/2 cup sev
  • garlic chutney(recipe below) as per taste – optional
  • tamarind chutney as per taste
  • coriander leaves to garnish
  • Bit of butter to roast the rolls

For the potato Mixture: 4 boiled potatoes-peeled and mashed, 1 onion-minced, 2 tsp dabeli masala, 1 tsp of oil, a pinch of hing or asafoetida, 1/2 tsp cumin/jeera, 2 tsp tamarind dates chutney, 2 tbsp coconut-grated, 2 tsp pomegranate. Water as required.

For the Dabeli masala: 3-4 whole dry red chilies, 2 cloves, 1/2 inch stick of cinnamon, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 10-12 peppercorns, 1 tsp coriander seeds

For the garlic chutney:  2 dry red whole chilies, 7-8 pods of garlic, salt to taste and juice of 1/2 a lemon

Method

For the dabeli masala: Dry roast all the ingredients on a flat griddle or a pan for 3-5 minutes or until aromatic. Cool the spices. Grind to a fine powder. Store in an air-tight glass bottle and use as required.
Note: I live in a very humid hot place so I usually refrigerate all my freshly ground masalas. So do as you deem fit.

For the garlic chutney: soak red chilies in water for about 15 minutes or so. Grind the soaked red chiles along with garlic pods, salt and lime to a smooth paste. Use as less water as possible for grinding.

For the potato mixture: Mash the boiled peeled potatoes roughly. Heat oil in a skillet. Splutter the cumin, fry onions till they turn pink. Sprinkle hing. Now mix dabeli masala powder that you made in the tamarind chutney. keep aside. Throw in the mashed potatoes, Now add the tamarind dabeli masala mix. Season with salt. Get all the pan ingredients together. Mix it well. Spread this mixture in a shallow bowl of plate. Decorate with grated coconut, pomegranate and coriander leaves. Use when you are ready to assemble the dabeli.

Assembling:

Spread all your prepared ingredients on the counter top. Put a flat griddle on fire. Slice each pav into two equal halves.
Apply garlic chutney on one side of the half, and tamarind chutney on the other side.
Spread 1-2 tbsp of potato mixture on one side.
Top with chopped onion, coriander leaves, roasted peanuts, sev and pomegranate.
I even added some more grated coconut!
Close the entire assembly with the other bun. Roast lightly on a flat griddle using a bit of butter.
Serve crisp!

Note: Its chaat! So you can tweak change substitute what you like and what you don’t accordingly! There is no hard and fast rule. Those who don’t like garlic, you can replace it with mint coriander chutney. It works just as fine.

peanuts, pomegranate, lime and something to sip on

peanuts, pomegranate, lime and something to sip on

Contributing to Angie’s Fabulous Fiestas is always a pleasure! Am taking this Indian yummiliocus chaat to her 41st!! Come, take a peek. You are gonna love all that you see!

Methi Muthiya / Steamed Fenugreek Bottle Gourd Dumplings

Steamed fenugreek bottle gourd dumplings

Steamed fenugreek bottle gourd dumplings

I was a disaster. A recidivous disaster in their kitchen. Not that I have redeemed myself or anything but of course I am not that clueless anymore. 10 years back, newly married, coming from a disparate environment and having no clue what they eat or how they eat has its effects – For my part I did well in my own pond. My parents gratified with me exorbitant cheer and praises, in effect rendering me totally naive to any critique or opinions. But the women of the house I married into, did what they had to do. They taught me. Well. I can never equal their expertise or their flair, but here I am, attempting to recreate the mother in law’s signature dish with a bit of both, confidence and apprehension.

finger food

finger food

Muthiya literally means a fist. When grated minced vegetables are mixed with smashed rice and flour, you fist them, make little logs to be steamed and then tempered. That’s muthiya. They are delicious, healthy and a wonderful party appetiser. In his house, they make it for dinner with spiced buttermilk curry or kadhi as they call it.

Truthfully, I sucked at making this. I just didn’t get it! you make a dough, steam and then cool and then temper.. for what? A little snack. Nah! too much work. And I am lazy – remember. So when we lived on our own, I dodged this snack as much as possible. And the few times that I did pursue, I failed so miserably that I vowed never to make them again.

Methi leaves

Methi leaves

Well, bottle gourd and fenugreek leaves are not exactly my child’s favourite. So when I get to incorporate these two in one and make something appealing out of it, I decided to attempt this formidable dish, one more time. Thankfully I saved it. Relieved that I would make it yet again with a not so surly outlook and a dour mind.

What I love about this snack is the tempering or seasoning! Vaghaar or tadka or chonk as it is called in India, the finale dish is brought about by heating oil, spluttering mustard, a bit of sesame and fenugreek seeds, along with the very aromatic curry leaf and some asafoetida! Slices of the steamed dumplings are then thrown into the hot oil-mustrad-sesame mix. It is so nutty and fresh and earthy. You need to have a slice or two to know what I mean. ๐Ÿ™‚

Yea, so the ingredients for this one might not be in your spice box or pantry if you are not an Indian. But things like asafoetida and sesame and fenugreek make this dish what it is. So please go ahead and get it, make sure you have it when you try this one out.

Sesame and fenugreek seeds

Sesame and fenugreek seeds

As I proof read my write up, I realise the incessant rambling about how long and tedious it is to make this, might have dismayed you to ever attempt it. But I was digressing from the truth. The whole truth being that it is a super cool snack and all that you need is a bit of planning to complete any task. I make this for her lunch box at 6 in the morning – yea of course, with a bit of an outline.

all ready to be sliced and tempered

all ready to be sliced and tempered

The Recipe –

Ingredients

For the dumplings

  • 1 cup over boiled rice, mash it coarsely.
  • 1 cup fenugreek leaves, washed and minced
  • 1 cup grated bottle gourd
  • 2 tbsp coriander leaves, washed and minced
  • 1 cup or more whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp ajwain seeds or bishops seeds
  • 1 tsp green chili, minced
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 3-4 tsp red chill powder, or as you require
  • 2 tbsp curd or as required
  • 2 tsp oil and salt to taste
  • For the Seasoning: 2 tsp oil, 1 tsp asafoetida or hing, 1/2 tsp mustard seeds, 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds, 1 tsp sesame seeds, 5-6 curry leaves, 1 whole red chili, 1 tbsp coriander leaves to garnish.

    Method

    Make a dough of all the ingredients listed for dumplings using curd instead of water to bring it all together. If you add too much flour the result will be hard difficult to swallow kinda muthiyas. And if the flour is too less, you will have great difficulty in bringing it all together. So add the flour little by little, to make sure the muthiyas turn out soft yet firm to hold a shape.
    Once done. Keep a wide wok on fire, fill it partially with water, place a ring or some holder in it.
    On a greased plate, grab fistfuls of the dough and shape them into small sized logs. Place them carefully on the plate. Do that with all of the dough. Once the plate is full, keep the plate inside the wok. Cover and steam for at least 30 minutes. Keep checking at regular intervals for water at the bottom.

    Right after steaming

    Right after steaming

    After 30 minutes, remove the plate full of dumplings. Cool the plate. Once cooled, slice the logs into bite size rounds. Taste one to see if the spices and salt are in check.

    Get ready with your seasoning. In a wide wok, heat oil. Splutter fenugreek seeds and sesame seeds till just right about crisp. Take care not to burn them. Throw in mustard seeds, asafoetida, curry leaves, whole red chilli and sautรฉ for a minute or two. If the dumplings lack in salt or chilies, then sprinkle the necessary spice over the steamed dumplings before adding them to the tempering.

    Now add the sliced dumplings. Toss and serve with coriander leaves garnish.

    Sesame seeds, whole red chill and mustard tempering

    Sesame seeds, whole red chill and mustard tempering

    Note: you can prepare them ahead of time and take it along with you for a party or a get together. They require no re heating. They taste good even when cold.

    Note: Green chutney or ketchup or kadhi/spiced buttermilk can be served along with it.

    Note: For a detailed step by step recipe, click here.

    A great way to eat vegetables

    A great way to eat vegetables

    Taking this to lovely Angie’s Fiesta Friday #33. Once there, drool over these incredible rainbow pizzas that she dished up to satiate her little girl’s whim ๐Ÿ™‚ They look SO gorgeous! And a whole list of beautiful food awaits. You just have to look.

    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.

    Veggies Stuffed Braided Bread – Yeast Free

    Yeast Free does catch your eye, doesn’t it? For all of us who are fighting this love hate battle with this fermenter, this recipe comes as a welcome relief.

    I find yeast moody. Sometimes it plays well and sometimes it just messes up my dinner.
    Now I happen to find this yeast free dough formula, a patterned pretty lookin bread, some healthy cheesy filling and an assignment for my photography challenge, all in my lap at the same time. What do I do? I combine all of it and present you with this crunchy, super tasty, eye-catching stuffed bread – without the tormentor!! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Stuffed Braids

    Stuffed Braids

    I’ve always believed the fact that we eat food with our eyes first, but to make delicate patterns with bread is another story altogether! Some fine nimble hands, a good work surface, great ingredients and a whole LOT of patience is all that you need ๐Ÿ˜‰ I messed up the design of my first one – not even worth a picture. By then I had my 6 year old mildly amused and highly entertained. Homework ditched, she pulled a stool to try her hand.

    bread patterns

    bread patterns

    I let her fiddle here and there with my not so proper braid, but when I gave her a bit of dough, she tried to fill them like momos. Now mother is impressed – what the little one did was cute and easier ๐Ÿ™‚
    So, we made two full braids, but soon half moon shaped little bites were more in action.

    Playing with leftovers

    Playing with leftovers

    The Recipe:
    Adapted from here:

    Ingredients

    For the yeast free dough:

    • 3 cups of all purpose flour or maida
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1/4 tsp baking soda
    • 1/2 cup curd/yoghurt
    • 1/4 cup oil
    • 1 tsp powdered sugar
    • salt to taste

    For the filling:

    • 2 cups chopped assorted vegetables like carrot, beans, peas, cauliflower, potato, broccoli, sweet corn
    • 1 big onion, chopped
    • 4-5 pods of minced garlic
    • a tiny piece of ginger
    • 3-4 minced green chilies
    • salt to taste
    • 2 tsp of crushed dried mixed herbs
    • 1/2 tsp pepper powder
    • 1 tsp olive oil
    • 3-4 tbsp of grated mozzarella

    Method

    For the Dough:
    In a large bowl, sieve flour, baking powder, soda, salt and sugar. Make a well in the center, pour oil in it. Rub together with your fingers and palms. The oil flour mix will look like a crumbled coarse mix. Add curd at this stage and start kneading the dough. It might be messy and not pliable, but keep working on it and you will have a super smooth and soft dough by the end of it. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let it rise for at least 5-6 hours.
    The dough would have almost doubled at the end of 6 hours. Knead for a minute or two again and use as required.

    For the Filling:
    In a pan, heat oil. Saute garlic, ginger, green chilies and minced onions. Once almost done, throw in the chopped vegetables along with salt. Cover and cook till they are almost done. Now sprinkle herbs and pepper powder. Give it a final mix. Cool before filling it in.

    For the Braided Bread:
    Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Grease a baking tray and keep aside.
    Sprinkle flour on your kitchen top. Knead the dough for a minute or two. Now using a rolling pin spread the dough into a rectangular or oval shape of thickness between 1/4″ to 1/6″. Add more flour is required.
    In the center, spread the prepared cooled vegetable filling. Place grated cheese over the vegetables. Now, using a sharp knife, make inclined cuts of 1 ” width along the sides of the rolled out dough. Repeat the same on the other side. for best results, try and make equal number of cuts on either side.

    Ready to be patterned

    Ready to be patterned

    Now take two strips from opposite sides and place them overlapped on the vegetables maintaining a criss cross pattern. Stretch the strips to seal the beneath layer. To seal the edges, gently fold and press the top and bottom section. Then braid with few strips on it. Brush off excess flour.

    Now gently brush the braid with melted butter. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes at 180 degrees, or till the crust is a beautiful brown.

    Cool the bread completely before running a knife through it. Enjoy while it’s still warm.

    Yummy Bites

    Yummy Bites

    I know it looks like a huge effort, but SO worth it once in a while. And if you have a dancing prancing little human monkey around you, then the whole process can be fun too!

    They tasted like Vegetable Puffs

    They tasted like Vegetable Puffs

    Vegetable Cutlets and a Spicy Yummy Wrap/Frankie

    Cold chilly breezy evenings. Misty days and long nights. A hot cuppa cradled between your palms. And the aching desire to eat. To crave something savory, spicy and mostly deep-fried! Yes, winters does this to you.

    Vegetable Cutlets

    Vegetable Cutlets

    Tis the time for comfort, warmth, joy, love and food. But amidst such wonderful warm thoughts comes an annoying impression of the husband holding a big placard which yells .. ‘take care of your body, it’s the only place you have to live in!’

    Sigh. This so dissolves all the cravings and transfers me back to hard ground. Matching up to his athletic skills or health agendas is not on my to do list – EVER. But we do call it a truce most of the times, we somehow make it work.

    Hence one wintery cold beautiful evening, when I fancied some vegetable cutlets, he hid the oil. There! that’s how it works in our house. I crave. He improvises.

    Here are some delicious vegetable cutlets or patties made in minimal oil and crunched with some slices of bread and semolina. Enclose these yummy rounds between tortillas, flavor it with green coriander chutney and what you will have is the famous wrap of Mumbai, called “frankie” in your hands.

    Spicy yummy Wrap

    Spicy yummy Wrap

    They both love lime and I for one cannot tolerate the tartness, my teeth turn sour at the mere mention of it. Copious amounts drizzled over the cutlets and a wee bit of rock salt sprinkled, and how they both licked their plates clean! I stuck to what they call the thakela lame version of the dinner.

    Taste Enhancer

    Taste Enhancer or what?

    VEGETABLE CUTLETS

    Crisp and Yummy

    Crisp and Yummy

    Ingredients

    • 2 cups chopped vegetables, like carrot, beans, peas, cauliflower, broccoli and potatoes
    • 2 medium sized onion, minced
    • 1 tsp ginger garlic paste
    • 3-4 green chilies, minced – optional
    • 3 tbsp chopped capsicum
    • 2 tbsp grated beetroot – for the red color
    • 2 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped
    • Dry spices like – 1/2 tsp turmeric powder, 1 tsp coriander powder, 1-2 tsp amchur powder, 1/2 tsp garam masala, 2 tsp red chili powder – all spices can vary according to your tastes.
    • salt
    • oil for pan frying and 1 tsp oil for sautรฉing.
    • 2 tbsp of semolina – optional
    • 3-4 slices of bread crumbled – optional

    Method

    Boil the vegetables in minimal water, along with little salt. I used 4 tbsp of water for 2 cups of veggies in a pressure cooker. This way you do not lose the essential vitamins of the greens to water. Once done, mash the veggies with a potato masher to a coarse consistency. keep aside. In a wok, heat oil, saute onions, ginger garlic paste and green chilies till the onions turn pink. Now throw in the capsicum and grated beet. Saute for another 3-4 minutes. Add the mashed boiled vegetables. Throw in all spices/masalas. Saute on high for about 4-5 minutes, stirring and mixing in between. The water if any from the veggies should be dry leaving the mixture to a coarse water free dough. Now add coriander leaves. Mix well. Leave it to cool.

    Once the mix has cooled, try shaping them into flat patties. If you have difficulty then add crumbled bread to give the dough some firmness.

    Once all the rounds are made, heat a flat griddle, sprinkle oil. In a bowl take 2 tbsp of semolina, coat each cutlet with semolina and roast on the griddle till crisp and golden.

    Great with Chutney

    Great with Chutney

    Note: I did not use semolina as I used very very little water to boil my veggies, hence the mixture was firm enough to shape into cutlets and roast.

    Note: You could alternatively, dip them into a mix of flour-water and deep fry/roast.

    Note: Those who eat eggs, can dip the rounds into beaten eggs before frying/roasting.

    Delicious and healthy

    Delicious and healthy

    MUMBAI STYLE FRANKIE / VEG CUTLET WRAP

    This is a popular cheap version of the high-end wraps and rolls, usually available on the streets of Mumbai. Hawkers sell various versions of this roll, usually/mostly, wrapped in all-purpose flour/maida tortillas.

    Served hot and crisp

    Served hot and crisp

    It is simple, really.

    Take a tortilla or chappathi or any flat bread. Smear some green chutney, place 2-3 cutlets in the middle of the tortilla. Top with some julienne onions-peppers and cabbage. I also used some minced green chilies. Sprinkle lime juice and some chaat masala. If you like, some grated cheese for the final touch is also great. Roll it up tightly, and dry saute on a flat griddle or use little oil to roast till crisp.
    Serve with extra green chutney, ketch up and some salad on the side.

    Classic Veggie Roll

    Classic Veggie Roll

    Mumbai Special – Pav Bhaaji

    Mumbai Special - Paav Bhaji

    Mumbai Special – Paav Bhaji

    She never ate what the school served her. Hardly ever. Parent Teacher Meets were usually about how she would not even acknowledge the food but simply found peeling her crayons more interesting than the snack served. But this rule had one exception. Colors and crayons forgotten, hands washed, mat placed she dug her little hands into a delightful plate of paav bhaaji. Teachers heaved a sigh of relief on such days. They saved an extra paav, just in case she came back for more.. which on most such days she did!

    Milee is a true blue Mumbai-ite! Sandwiches, pav bhaji, sev puri, vada paav and Gola are on her list of comfort food. Surprisingly I never cared too much for bread. My eyes never sparkle when paav bhaaji is mentioned. I always thought it is a dish made up of leftovers! And do you know the origin of Mumbai’s signature dish(sorry, Mumbai’s one of the ) was actually made from leftovers.. So I was really not that wrong. But as is the case with many things in my life, I have learnt to like things which I previously ran away from.

    This immensely popular dish has its origins as lunch eaten by the Mumbai’s textile mill workers, for whom it was affordable and easy to eat during a very short lunch break. Small roadside eateries started making this using leftover vegetables and some easily available spices. And paav? Paav was always there. It is to Mumbai what the Arabian sea or the Gateway is. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Laadi Pav

    Laadi Pav

    “What! You’re making paav? why?” , what they really meant was – Why would you or anyone bake them at home?!! You get the bestest, softest cheapest paav here, in Mumbai, the only place in the world.
    My friends doubted my mental balance – hugely. Still they came trickling in once the heavenly aroma from freshly baked rolls started drifting.

    Bhaaji

    Bhaaji

    Bhaaji is no rocket science really. Just throw in any type of veggie, over cook it, spice it, mash it, lime it, top with spoonfuls of butter, and viola!
    Lap it with your rolls and you will be smacking your lips, wiping a runny nose, licking your fingers and more… No I don’t eat like that, but I’ve seen lot of people who do. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Laadi Paav

    Laadi means slab and paav is nothing but delicious soft white bread rolls, so here I am posting the formula for a slab of soft dinner rolls!

    Now, when ever I try something new, I drastically reduce the quantity of the said measurements. This time I reduced it so much that I made only 9 mini rolls. What you see in the pictures is all that I baked. Maybe sufficient only for an adult and a child.
    The quantity here is for 15 whole regular sized paavs, so feel free to adapt and change.

    Mini paavs

    Mini paavs

    Ingredients

    • 3 and 1/2 cups to 4 cups all purpose flour
    • 1 1/2 tsp active dried yeast
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1 tbsp honey or sugar
    • 1 1/2 cups milk
    • 1 1/2 tbsp butter, softened
    • 1 to 2 tbsp melted butter for brushing on the pav

    Method

    In a small bowl, proof the yeast – by adding luke warm water, 1/2 tsp sugar and yeast. Mix well. cover and keep aside for 10-12 minutes until frothy.

    Put 3 1/2 cups of flour, proofed yeast, salt, sugar (not honey, if you are using it) in a big bowl.
    Put milk and butter in a small pan, heat it, while whisking a couple of times, till the milk is just lukewarm. Take it off the heat. If you are using honey instead of sugar, add this to the milk.

    Add the lukewarm liquid to the dry ingredients and knead till a soft and elastic dough forms. You will have to add a bit more of flour (a tbsp at a time) while kneading, to achieve this. Do not be tempted to add more flour, or your rolls will become tough.

    Your dough must be soft and elastic, just short of sticky. Shape the dough into a ball.
    Place the dough in an oiled bowl, rolling the ball of dough till it is coated with oil. Cover with a towel and allow it to double in volume (mine took two hours).

    Lightly knead the dough and divide equally into about 15 pieces. Shape each piece into a ball and place on a greased rectangular baking tin. Place the balls of dough about 1/4โ€ apart in 3 rows of five each.

    Cover them with a towel and allow them to rise for 30 minutes. Bake them at 220C (425F) for 10 minutes till they rolls have risen and started browning. Take them out of the oven and quickly brush them with melted butter and bake them for another 5 minutes till the tops have browned well. Take the rolls out and let them cool on a rack.

    To serve: Melt a tbsp of salted butter in a pan. Slice 2 pieces of the pav sideways and place both, cut sides down, on the melted butter and allow the pav to absorb the butter and brown slightly. I like to saute a little on the other side as well. Some serve the paavs as it is, without sauteing.

    Rise and shine

    Rise and shine

    Bhaaji

    Bhaaji is a mix of sauteed onions-tomatoes, potatoes and vegetables like peas, carrots, beans etc. It is essentially very spicy, flavorful and served with loads of lime and minced raw onions. Usually a bit red color is added to give that scarlet dead look to the bhaji. I have skipped the pav bhaji masala, color and reduced the chilies as per as our taste.
    The following recipe is by a very dear aunt who makes the best pav bhaji ever. The color of her bhaaji was naturally so bright and red, that I begged her to share her trick.

    Ingredients

    • 2 cups of mixed vegetables (carrot, cauliflower, beans, peas)
    • 3 big potatoes
    • 1 big onion, minced
    • 3 medium tomatoes, chopped
    • 6-7 whole dried kashmiri red chilies, soaked
    • 1-2 whole dried normal red chilies – the spicy variety
    • 7-8 cloves of minced garlic
    • 1/2 tsp grated ginger
    • 2 tbsp oil or butter
    • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
    • 1 1/2 tsp coriander powder
    • 1 tsp garam masala
    • salt to taste
    • 1 tbsp pav bhaji masala – optional
    • To serve: lemon wedges, 3 to 4 tbsp chopped fresh coriander, 4-5 tbsp minced raw onions, 2 to 3 tbsp salted butter

    Method

    Steam cook the mixed vegetables and the potatoes till well done. Mash them very well and keep aside.
    Grind the soaked kashmiri and regular chilies, along with garlic and ginger to a fine paste.

    Heat the oil/butter in a large kadai/wok. Saute onions till soft and translucent. To this add, the grounded paste. Fry well for a minute or two. Add the chopped tomatoes and using a wooden spoon mash the onion-tomato mixture further. Cook until the oil appears on the edge.

    Add the turmeric, coriander powder and pav bhaji masala if using. Cook over medium heat for a couple of minutes, stirring often, until the raw smell of the spices disappears. Add the mashed vegetables, salt and about half a cup of water. Cook for another 5 to 10 minutes until everything blends into a homogenous thick gravy-like consistency, adding a little more water, if necessary. Lastly, switch the flame off, stir in garam masala and chopped coriander leaves. Mix. Serve hot.

    Serving Suggestions:
    My aunt borrowed this neat trick from the street side vendors and it works like magic when she serves her world famous Paav bhaaji:
    On a hot flat thick bottomed iron griddle/tawa. Place a small spoon of butter. Pour as much bhaaji as can go on it without the gravy spilling over. Keep the flame high. Using a potato masher mash and sizzle the veggie mix till it simmers like a sizzler. Then serve immediately topped with small cubes of refrigerated cold butter and lime wedges, along with lightly sauted paavs and raw minced onions.

    Mixed Vegetable Curry

    Mixed Vegetable Curry

    Owing to my classic measurement skills, I had 9 tiny rolls, a wok full of bhaaji, 6 adults and a very hungry child. Of course we ran out of paavs. But our trusted age old bread wala who comes delivering freshly baked bread and Mumbai special laadi paav every evening at our door step saved our day. Lucky Me.

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

    Roasted Euryale Fox Nuts or Makhanas

    It takes wisdom to give life oneโ€™s best shot and then accept gracefully whatever fate or providence has in store, with total positive surrender.

    – Fakir, by Ruzbeh N Bharucha.

    The mantle of motherhood is phenomenal. Perennial worry, constant urge to give your child the best that you can give in education, living, character or simply food can be overwhelming. The kind that I am, I always doubt myself and my efforts. It’s never enough. It’s never good.

    Roasted Fox nuts with salt, pepper and chili flakes

    Roasted Fox nuts with salt, pepper and chili flakes

    Before my child was born, I tried to learn everything from parenting books, classes and the mistakes of other mothers. And I thought I knew it all.
    Yea, guessed it right. I fell flat on my face. Had them laughing at me for days to come.

    Even before she could breathe in open air, her diet was decided. Loads of fresh fruits and vegetables, assorted nuts, whole grain, clarified butter, no chocolates, no sweets…. and in all this listing and scheming, forgot, the good Lord will bless the unborn with her very own palette and a mind of her own. I got a taste of my own doing once she was out

    In a very short while, she spat out the ragi, flung the banana, nuts were strewn all over, spinach was given surly looks and I had myself at my wits end.

    Store in an air tight jar

    Store in an air tight jar

    Boy! Does this great heavy cloak break your back. Or are they wings which uplift your soul and show you the grander picture? I’m still searching.
    I unlearnt everything that I so smartly gathered from all the possible sources. Started from scratch. And still have such a long road ahead.

    My daughter teaches me something new everyday.

    One of the most prominent things she inculcated in me is patience and respect. Respect for her as an individual. Respect for her likes and dislikes. Respect for her own individuality. Respect for the fact that she is not me. Sigh!

    So, she does not like carrots, I try not to fight her. The ‘mother’ that I am, I cheat:)
    She hates nuts. I dry roast the walnuts and almonds and sprinkle salt-pepper and her highly savory palette laps it up. And when my mum eulogised the benefits of Euryale Fox Nuts or Daal-Makhane, I did not want to miss the chance of adding the calcium dense starchy white seed to my child’s diet. But of course, on her conditions.

    Calcium rich.

    Calcium rich.

    I keep my highly twitchy fingers crossed and very lovingly offer her a couple of these dry roasted very healthy Euryale Fox nuts or Makhane. Although hesitatingly, she tosses one into her mouth, smiles and says “POP CORN”!
    And this is how I win my battles.

    Indian answer to the very famous Popcorn: Roasted Daal Makahne

    Ingredients

    • 2 cups makhane,
    • 1 tsp ghee, or according to your taste
    • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
    • 1 tsp red chili powder
    • salt to taste
    • 1/2 tsp pepper powder

    Method

    In a large wok, heat the clarified butter/ghee. Add turmeric and red chili powder, along with the makhane/fox nuts. On sim flame, roast the nuts for at least 10 minutes, mixing them once in a while.

    Add salt and pepper. After 3-4 minutes, switch the flame off. Allow to cool. Transfer to an air tight jar.

    The end result: Crunchy, crisp, salty savory snack/munchies.

    A jar full of health

    A jar full of health

    My expectations from the child just because I was striving hard to give her the best of all that I could find was overbearing my little one. Just didn’t work.

    I recoil. Give her some space. Give her individuality a chance. And slowly the cobwebs clear away.
    Life is not a competition for me, or for her or for anyone. It is not about how intelligent or how smart or how rich or how famous you are.
    It is about giving your best and leaving it to God.

    Indian PopCorn

    Indian PopCorn

    Sev Puri

    A Biteful of joy

    A Biteful of joy

    This post is going to be a short one. Hopefully.

    When I sit to write, the river of words just gushes forth as if waiting for the dam to be opened. I try so hard to write small. But its all in vain. So today since I am already short on time, I have promised myself to keep it short, sweet and simple.

    Oh wait. Cant be sweet. It’s a savoury, tangy spicy and sweet post. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Pick me up

    Pick me up

    We jiffed up this chaat when I made the tamarind dip. But completely forgot about posting the assorted dishes made on that day using the amazing, very versatile tamarind dip. Oh Well! Better late than never.

    Crunchy Bites

    Crunchy Bites

    As you know, “chaat” is a big hit in my house. the father daughter duo can thrive on it for dinner everyday. Of course, I don’t give in to their demands. Chaat is Indian Junk street food. So we indulge, but once in a while.

    Here, I have the very famous Mumbai special, Sev puri recipe. With all the ingredients in hand, it takes hardly a couple of minutes to assemble and less than that to devour ๐Ÿ˜‰

    An evening snack for most indians

    An evening snack for most indians

    The recipe:

    To make 1 plate of 10 sev puris:

    Ingredients

    10 flat savoury crackers/puris
    1 boiled potato, mashed
    1 onion, chopped
    2 tbsp any bundi namkeen – very hard to describe in English :(.. so sorry.
    1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
    juice of 1/2 a lime
    10 small dots(almost like 1/4 tsp each) of green chutney
    10 small dots of tamarind chutney
    chaat masala to sprinkle
    Extra thin chaat sev to sprinkle and garnish
    Optional: chopped tomato and 1 tbsp of garlic red chutney

    Method

    Arrange the puris on a flat serving plate or tray.
    Mix the boiled potato, onion, little coriander leaves, the bundi namkeen and if you are using tomatoes, then add them too. Sprinkle little chaat masala. Mix well. Keep aside.

    Now to each puri, drop a bit of the above mixture, just enough to cover each puri. Dab the chutneys, one by one. Sprinkle chaat masala and lime juice. Garnish with sev and coriander leaves.

    Serve immediately, else the toppings soften the puris up.

    Beckoning Enough?!

    Beckoning Enough?!

    In Mumbai, garlic chutney is added to most chaat dishes. A wee bit brightens the plate. Husband is a big sucker for garlic chutney. But since I did not have it on that day, we made the chaat sans garlic. If you have it in your pantry, do dab a bit and tantalize your taste buds.

    Is it short enough?! ๐Ÿ™‚ Yay! Thank me for not boring you today. Just for today.

    This post is my entry to Vardhini’s(of CooksJoy) Chaat and Chutneys Event.

    Tamarind Date Jaggery Chutney

    Tamarind Dates and Jaggery Chutney/Dip

    Tamarind Dates and Jaggery Chutney/Dip

    Imagine this:
    Crisp savoury spiced crackers, topped with a little bit of mashed potato, a dot of spicy green chutney and a dash of sweet tangy tamarind chutney, sprinkled with wee bit of black salt-cumin powder and finally garnished with fried chickpea vermicelli(.. Don’t ROFL wicked sisters/teasing husband/rowdy friends and dear fellow Indian..this description is for those who don’t know what chaat is)

    A Sev Puri - Inviting?

    A Sev Puri – Inviting?

    (Stay with me)
    Now pick this beautifully decorated cracker, put the whole thing in your mouth… no bite shite… the whole cracker…sit back.. explosive mouthful of sweet, spice, tang, soft potato, crisp cracker…sigh! heaven!
    What you just ate was a SEV PURI.

    I haven’t met one Indian who hasn’t grown up eating Chaat, typically served at road side stalls. The health freak in my house keeps me on my toes with his eating habits.. but the same guy makes an exception for the love of his life(not me) — CHAAT. He has kept one day in a week when he indulges in food, and every time its chaat what he wants. Have I magnified the glory of this stupendous Indian street food enough?

    Sweet Tart Spice - all in one

    Sweet Tart Spice – all in one

    Well.. a very important integral component of this type of food is a sweet tangy mildly spiced Tamarind Jaggery chutney. Addition of dates adds to the taste and health value of this highly muti purpose dip. The flavors are so extreme and intense that just a wee bit is enough for every bite.

    Just a spoonfull is enough!

    Just a spoonfull is enough!

    Since the rains are creating quite a havoc, we generally refrain from eating out, especially street side fare. So, with all of us dying for mouthwatering(literally) plates of sev puri, bhel puri and pani puri, I set out to satiate those cruel cravings. Starts with me preparing this tangy tamarind dip. Its a wonderful puree, which once made, can stay refrigerated for over 3 months!

    Explosive on your palette

    Explosive on your palette

    The Recipe:

    Ingredients

    • 1 cup dates, deseeded
    • 1 cup tamarind, pitted and cleaned
    • 1 cup jaggery, if its hard, you might want to soften and broken into small pieces.
    • 1 tsp black salt or kala namak
    • 1 tsp red chili powder or as you desire
    • 1 tsp ground roasted cumin powder

    Method

    Soak the dates, tamarind in warm water for atleast 30 minutes.
    Then remove excess water, grind dates, tamarind and jaggery to a smooth puree. Using a proper sieve, remove the hard bits and any fine tamarind hair or skin. Did I confuse you? I just mean: Sieve it to get a clear smooth semi thick puree.

    Now, transfer the contents into a pan, add salt, chili powder and boil for at least 10 minutes.

    It tastes perfectly fine without boiling too, but if you need to store it, boiling is best.

    Let it cool completely. Transfer into air tight containers and use as required.

    Note: Dates give this chutney an awesome body and consistency. They enhance the taste and needless to add boost your iron content.

    Note: If you do not want to use tamarind, you can substitute with dry mango powder.

    Jaggery and Dates - boost your heamoglobin

    Jaggery and Dates – boost your heamoglobin

    The garden outside my apartment surprised me with a deep peach gorgeous Hibiscus. Could not refrain from my clicking and admiring… and sharing it with you guys ๐Ÿ™‚

    A thing of beauty is a joy forever - John Keats

    A thing of beauty is a joy forever – John Keats

    So, dear friends, if you’re new to chaat, start with this chutney, try it as a dip with fritters/corn chips, dab it on your sev puri, stir it in your mint water, mix it in dal-lentil soup… and just see how it transforms your little bite into a mouthful.

    A multipurpose dip

    A multipurpose dip

    This post is my entry to Vardhini’s of CooksJoy event of Chaat and and Chutneys