Jaggery Chhena Poda

Four ingredients & a few minutes for a yum dessert

My first evening in Bhubaneswar and I chanced upon this very interesting sweet outside a temple. The shop had a range of sweets and a very enthusiastic seller. He started naming all the sweets with such energy that I didn’t get any of it. So I did the only thing that any sensible person would do: point at what looks interesting and say “give me that one”. So “that one” turned out to be Chhena Poda and I have had it on all of my subsequent visits to the city.

A very regional dessert that can be made with just four ingredients. Fresh cottage cheese or paneer as the base. Jaggery or sugar being the sweetner and cardamom powder for that flavor. It is incredibly amazing how such a tasty treat can be preped with such ease.

MIX : POUR : BAKE

Jaggery Chhena Poda Recipe

Ingredients

  • Fresh Paneer / Cottage Cheese: 250 grams
  • Jaggery Powder: 1/2 cup
  • Semolina: 1 tsp
  • Cardamom Powder: 1/4 tsp

Method:

  • Pre heat the oven at 180’C
  • Break the paneer into crumbs and start kneading it into a dough
  • Add the jaggery, semolina and cardamom powder and continue mixing
  • Once the mixture reaches a light cake batter consistency, pour it into a tin and bake it at 180’C for about 20 mins
  • The top layer will get a rich brown color. Use a pick to check if it is cooked in the inside
  • Let it cool before removing the Chhena Poda from the tin

Note:

  • If the paneer is a bit dry and a hard dough is formed, then add a little bit of milk to get the consistency
  • Raisins are a good addition to the batter

Easy Murukku

Crispy, crunchy & yum. Made in a jiffy 

This is straight from the festive Janmashtami list-of-snacks-to-make. This is the first time I made Murukku from scratch and was quite surprised at the simplicity of the process. Mixing the ingredients and making a dough is of course easy. The frying part is the same. “Keep the heat at medium” – “Don’t burn what your frying” – “Turn to cook evenly” etc etc. Same as any deep fried recipe. We were a bit ambitious this time and took a quantitative approach. So the only pinch I felt was standing for a long time and frying one batch after the other. All in all, making murukku is really simple. It has a shelf life of one week, if stored in an air tight container. The one cooking equipment that is necessary is the Murukku / Chakli press. That is it.

Another traditional deep fried snack that is really easy to make is Sev (recipe link) which is made out of chickpea flour / Besan. Do check it out.

Make a dough || Load the press || Deep fry

Murukku Recipe 

Cookin Tools(affiliate links): Deep Frying Pan, Murukku Press

Ingredients:

  • Rice Flour: 2 cups
  • Roasted gram: 1/4 cup
  • Mong dal: 1/4 cup
  • Butter: 2 tbsp
  • Cumin seeds: 1 tsp
  • Asafoetida
  • Salt
  • Oil for deep frying

Method

  • Dry roast the moong dal & then slightly roast the gram
  • Grind the roasted dals to a fine powder and sieve the powder into a large bowl
  • Now add the rice flour, cumin seeds, salt and a pinch of asafoetida powder. Mix well
  • Add the butter & mix the contents
  • Keep adding small amount of water and make a firm dough. Once done, cover the dough & keep it aside
  • Heat oil for deep frying in a large kadai / pan
  • Grease the inner side of the cylinder of the press
  • Take a small amount of dough and load the press
  • Once the oil is hot reduce the heat to medium
  • Apply pressure so that the dough comes out in the murukku shape and directly drop them into the oil
  • Cook over medium flame and flip the murukku so that it is cooked evenly on both sides
  • Once done, remove from the oil and place it on an absorbent paper to get rid of the excess oil

Sweet Corn Salad Recipe

A colorful & fresh salad with a nice citrus punch that can be assembled super fast

For some reason, the word salad always reminds me of green leaves on a plate or a plate full of cucumber pieces. It is hard for me to not corrupt a fresh bowl of salad with loads of dressing. So much so that it is actually dressing that I am having with a few bits of the veggies somewhere in there. This week, a cob of corn came along with my other veggies and I was on a mission to use it. This salad seemed quite simple. It is really simple. No much fuss. Easy to assemble and turned out to be quite interesting. The lime juice made a world of difference. The freshness it brought, yum.

I cooked a corn cob slightly in hot water and took out the kernels. If you have pre-processed frozen corn kernels then it gets even easier. The frozen corn can be put in some water or can be quickly zapped in a microwave before using. There is no oil in this one. The flavor is from the fresh coriander leaves. A hit of pepper and of course the lime juice. If you are packing this salad so that you can have it later, then don’t add the salt. It pulls out the water from the corn and other ingredients and makes the salad soggy. Best would be to add the salt, pepper and lime juice just before having.

Sweet Corn Salad Recipe

 Ingredients

  • Sweet Corn Cob: 1
  • Green Peppers: 1 small
  • Tomato: 1
  • Red Onion: 1
  • Lime juice: 1 tsp
  • Fresh Coriander leaves: 1 tsp
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Preparation

  • The corn needs to be cooked until it becomes a little soft. So use a steamer or cooker or just place it in hot water until it is tender
  • Once it cools down, run a knife and scrape off the kernels
  • Finely chop the onion and coriander leaves. Cut the tomato into fine pieces

Method

  • Mix the corn kernels, chopped onion, tomato pieces and chopped coriander leaves in a large bowl
  • Sprinkle the lime juice and add the salt & pepper. Done !!!

Poha Cutlet || Flattened Rice Fritters

An easy to make vegan cutlet/fritter that is made with spiced mashed potato & flattened rice

Flattened rice is amazing for making a light quick-fix snack. It cooks fast and there are a lot of savory and sweet snacks that can be made in a short amount of time. A worthy addition to the next grocery list.

This recipe has a lot of ingredients of the traditional poha. It is almost like a different take on Poha with the potatoes as a base holding everything together. The spices used in this recipe are very Indian. There is the red chili powder along with coriander, both leaves and powder and cumin seeds. The spices can always be substituted with regional ones to have a more local flavor. These cutlets are really simple. It is just mixing all the ingredients and shaping the fritters. The one thing that needs a little attention is the flattened rice. It is quite thin and looses its texture when kept in water for a long time. A quick dip in water is all that is needed. The flattened rice, with the texture intact, give a slight crunch and the make the outer layer a little more crispy.

The detailed recipe is mentioned below. A snack that is very similar to this one is my Sabudana Vada or Tapioca Pearl Fritter (click here for the recipe)

Boiled potato, peeled and mashed with a fork

 

Onions and spices add to the potato mash

 

Shape the cutlets/fritter and shallow fry

 

Flip the cutlets to cook evenly

Poha Cutlet Recipe

Ingredients

  • Poha / Flattened Rice: 1 cup
  • Potato: 1 large
  • Onion: 1
  • Crushed Cumin seeds: 1/2 tsp
  • Red Chili Powder: 1/2 tsp
  • Turmeric Powder: 1/4 tsp
  • Chopped Coriander Leaves: 1 tbsp
  • Coriander Powder: 1/4 tsp
  • Lime juice: 1 tsp
  • Salt
  • Oil: 4 tbsp

Preparation

  • Wash the flattened rice in water and drain the excess water
  • Boil, peel and mash the potatoes
  • Chop the onion into fine pieces

Lets start

  • Take the mashed potato into a bowl and add the chopped onion and all the spices
  • Add the moist poha and mix well
  • Add salt & lime juice and mix well
  • Take small portions of the mash and shape them into cutlets / fritters
  • Heat a pan and pour a tablespoon of cooking oil and grease the pan
  • Reduce the heat and shallow fry the cutlets on medium heat
  • Add some oil on top of the cutlets and flip them so that they are cooked evenly
  • Once done, remove the cutlets from the pan and place them on an absorbent paper to remove the excess oil
  • Start the next batch after adding some oil on the pan

Note

  • If the flattened rice is very thin then it can be just washed and quickly drained. If it is of a thicker variety than soak it in water for 2-4 mins before draining the water
  • Different spices can be used based on the availability. Pepper or chopped green chilies can be used instead of red chili powder. Dry mango or garam masala powder or garlic powder can also be used
  • Deep frying is always an option

Paruppu Usili

Spiced and steamed Toor dal / Lentil paste mixed with cooked french beans and tempered with Indian spices.

The journey that a recipe or a food item takes is fascinating. Travelling across the country opens up new cuisines and this is how some of the recipes have walked into my kitchen. This paruppu usili came from my mom’s travels and her time living in Madras(now Chennai). For me, it is not only the recipe and how something is made. It is also about how it is eaten in the place of its origin. So it was actually fun to eat usili with rice, while I had always been eating with chapatti and, some might scoff at this, even bread. Rice or chapatti or bread, parupu usili is a very interesting one.

Its vegan and gluten-free and with a little planning, really easy to make. Toor dal or lentils that have been soaked in water overnight are ground to a paste and steamed while french beans are cut into small pieces and cooked in hot water. To speed up the cooking time, work on the beans and the lentils in parallel. The lentils comes out the best when soaked overnight. Here are the highlights, the detailed recipe is mentioned below:

Lentils soaked overnight and ground to a fine paste with turmeric, salt & chili powder|| Steam the lentil paste || Clean, cut & cook the beans in hot water || Ready the temper, add the beans and steamed lentils ||

 

Soaked lentils with turmeric, red chili powder & salt

Grind to a fine paste

Steamed lentil paste

 

Paruppu Usili Recipe 

Kitchen tools: Kadai, Steamer, Food processor 

Ingredients: 

  • French beans pieces: 1 cup
  • Toor dal / Lentils / Pigeon Pea: 1/4 cup
  • Chili Powder: 1 tsp
  • Turmeric Powder: 1/4 tsp
  • Asafoetida / Hing powder
  • Mustard seeds: 1/4 tsp
  • Oil: 2 tbsp
  • Curry leaves: 6-8

Preparation:

  • Soak the lentils in water overnight.
  • Drain excess water from the lentils. Add turmeric powder, salt, red chili powder and a pinch of asafoetida powder and grind it to a fine paste
  • Steam the lentil paste for 15 mins or until it is done. Once it cools down, use your hands to crumble the steamed lentil paste
  • Steaming can be done in a cooker without the whistle or an idli steamer or just put the paste in a small metal vessel and place it in a bigger vessel with water and cover it
  • Clean and cut the french beans into small pieces. Cook in hot water. Once done, drain the excess water

Here we go

  • Heat oil in a thick wok / kadai and add the mustard seeds
  • Once the mustard seeds crackle, lower the heat add the curry leaves and then the lentil crumble and mix well
  • Add the cooked beans and mix well
  • The salt in the usili is from the lentil mix. Taste and add some more salt if needed
  • On low heat, cook the ulisi with a lid on for about 8-10 mins. Give the contents a few stirs in between before turning off the heat. Ready !!!

 

Chocolate Corn Flake Bites

Bite sized goodies of chocolate coated corn flakes that can be made in a jiffy 

Radio is so much fun. For me, it is not because of my weekly shows but also because of the people and shows I listen too. Good programs are filled with a lot of info and ideas. I heard of Chocolate Corn Flakes minibites while listening to one of my favorite stations. The DJs were having fun talking about crazy world records that people hold and they went on a challenge of eating the most number of these minibites in under a minute. Having never heard of these minibites, I started searching about them. It is so easy to make. Even kids can make this one. It is almost criminal that something so delicious can be prepared in such a short time.

Melt chocolate pieces, dark or milk chocolate, in butter. Add the corn flakes and mix so that there is a chocolate coating on the corn flakes. That is all. Done !

Chocolate Corn Flake Bites Recipe

  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 5 mins

Ingredients:

  • Butter: 50 gm
  • Chocolate pieces (milk / dark): 100 gm
  • Corn flakes: 100 gm
  • Honey / Syrup: 3 tbsp (optional)

Method:

  • Melt the butter and the chocolate pieces (microwave / over the stove)
  • Allow it to cool a little and then add in the honey and cornflakes and mix well
  • Once the cornflakes are coated with the chocolate, shape them.

Easy Ragi Puttu

A cardamom flavored steamed dessert made with Ragi flour & fresh grated coconut.

I have had some of the best puttu during my time in Kerala. There is plain puttu served with a black chickpea curry. Then there is vegetable puttu, biryani puttu, chicken puttu and Prawn Puttu. Its is almost like you can layer puttu with anything because the rice flour mix goes well with any spicy flavor. There is no fixed time to have puttu. I have had it for breakfast, snack and dinner. So you can sit and think, “hmm, what is a good time to have puttu?”. It is always puttu time. The Ragi Puttu recipe here is made of finger millet or ragi flour. So it is healthier and gluten-free. To check out some of my other millet recipes: click here

Now, a proper puttu is layered in a funnel and steamed. Hence the cylindrical shape, which looks amazing. But I kinda followed Mom and went the no frills way. If you are using a puttu funnel, then layer the grated coconut at the center for a more visual appeal.

Easy to make. Here are the highlights, the detailed recipe is of course mentioned below.

Sprinkle some water to make a crumbly flour. Just enough water so that the flour holds together when pressed with your hand and then crumbles || Steam || Mix in the grated coconut, ghee, sugar and cardamom

 

 

Ragi Puttu Recipe

Ingredients:

  • Finger Millet / Ragi Flour: 1 cup
  • Sugar: 1/2 cup
  • Grated Fresh Coconut or Tiny Coconut Pieces: 1/4 cup
  • Cardamom Pods: 4 (with their seeds crushed)
  • Clarified Butter / Ghee: 2 tbsp

Method:

  • Sieve the ragi flour and dry roast the flour for about 5 mins of low heat in a thick vessel
  • Once the flour cools down, sprinkle some water and rub it in. The flour should reach a crumbly consistency.
  • Steam the flour for 10 mins and let it cool down a little
  • While the flour is still warm, add the ghee, cardamom(pods and crushed seeds), sugar and coconut. Mix well
  • Use a some grated coconut for garnishing

Note: 

  • Steaming also adds moisture so sprinkle very little water
  • Jaggery is a healthier sweet substitute for refined sugar
  • The ragi flour can be steamed without roasting
  • Store bought cardamom powder can also be used

Vegetable Stew

There is something really special about coconut milk stew served in an earthen pot along with appam. It is rich, aromatic and full of flavor. The authentic Kerala stew is heavenly and the one that I had in Kochi was delicious. This vegan stew has a host of veggies. Not any traditional regional vegetables, but the very universal ones like carrots, potatoes, french beans and green peas. The rich regional influence comes in with the addition of coconut milk and spices such as bay leaves, cinnamon and cardamom. The first stew that I ever had was prepared by mom. She always prepares coconut milk at home and the freshness adds a new dimension to the stew.

If you have store bought coconut milk, then there isn’t much prep apart from cutting the vegetables. But I prefer to prepare the coconut milk just before starting the stew. The freshness gives a nice feel to the stew. Preparing coconut milk requires a little amount of work in grating the coconut. Then it is just soaking it in hot water.

This stew comes out best when it is slow-cooked. But over-all making the vegetable stew is quite easy. It is just frying the spices with onion, adding the veggies and coconut milk and cooking. It is just prep and cook.

Vegetable Stew Recipe

Ingredients

  • Carrot: 2
  • Potato: 1 large
  • French Beans: 6
  • Coconut: 1
  • Onion: 1 large
  • Cinnamon bark: 2
  • Bay leaves: 2
  • Pepper cones: 1 tsp
  • Green chillis: 4
  • Curry leaves: 8
  • Oil: 2 tbsp
  • Salt

Coconut Milk Prep:

  • Break open a coconut and grate the flesh with a coconut scraper
  • Add the grated coconut flesh to two cups of hot water, mix well and set it aside for 10-15 minutes
  • Pass the coconut milk through a strainer or muslin cloth to remove the grated coconut. Squeeze out all the liquid from the coconut shreds

Preparation

  • Peel the carrots and potatoes. Clean the beans. Cut the veggies into medium sized pieces
  • Chop the onion into long fine pieces
  • Cut off the heads & tails of the green chilies and slit them
  • Clean the garlic and cut them into halves

Cooking

  • Heat oil in a thick wok
  • Reduce the heat to minimum and add the bay leaves, cinnamon bark and pepper cones
  • Add the onions and mix well. Let the onions cook for a minute then add the curry leaves and the green chillies
  • Add the veggies & mix all the contents. Place a lid on the wok and while keeping the heat low, let the veggies cook for about 8-10 minutes or until they are half cooked
  • Add the coconut milk and mix well
  • Add salt and allow the stew to cook
  • The veggies will be cooked in about ten minutes. Turn off the heat
  • Serve with rice or appams or chapatis or bread

Note:

  • Store bought coconut milk can be used. If the milk is creamy then dilute it. If it is slightly sweet then adjust the spices accordingly

Foxtail Millet Bisi Bele Bath

Millets, veggies and pulses. I was pleasantly surprised when I first had a Bisi bele bath with millets in it. Lots of veggies and a good amount of ghee on it. There is a slight change when rice is removed but it was delicious. This bisi bele bath recipe takes out the rice to bring in some millets. Bisi bele bath is a classic from Kartnataka, millets are healthy and are one of the best gluten-free substitutes. So there is the spice punch, the aroma of curry leaves and the richness of ghee.

Cooking Foxtail millets is a little tricky. It needs a lot of water. The millets have to be soaked in water for a while before being pressure cooked with almost three times the quantity of water. Less water and the millets start getting burnt. The prep takes some time so doing a few things simultaneously helps speed the cooking. The millets-dal can be pressure cooked while the veggies are also quickly pressure cooked simultaneously.

Pressure cooked millets & dal mixed in  spiced tamarind juice and cooked vegetables. Tempered with mustard seeds and curry leaves

Pressure cooked millet and dal

Half cooked veggies

Bisi bele bath powder

Foxtail Millet Bisi Bele Bath Recipe

Tools used: Pressure Cooker, Pot, Tempering Pan 

Ingredients:

  • Fox Tail Millet: 3/4 cup
  • Toor Dal / Pigeon pea / Pulses: 1/4 cup
  • Carrots: 2
  • Potato: 1 large
  • French Beans: 6-8
  • Green peas: 1/4 cup
  • Peanuts: 1/4 cup
  • Onion: 1
  • Curry leaves: 12-15
  • Mustard seeds: 1/2 tsp
  • Turmeric powder: 1/4 tsp
  • Red chillies: 4
  • Bisibella bath powder: 1.5 tsp
  • Red chili powder: 1tsp
  • Clarified butter/Ghee: 2 tbsp
  • Aesefotida (optional)
  • Tamarind: lemon sized ball
  • Oil: 2 tbsp + 2 tsp for tempering
  • Salt

Preparation:

  • Wash the millet & dal and pressure cook with at least 3 cups of water
  • Clean, peel & cut the vegetables into small pieces.
  • Boil the vegetables until they are half cooked
  • Soak the tamarind in some warm water. After some time, use your hands and squeeze out the tamarind juice

Method:

  • Heat oil in a thick kadai/wok
  • Fry the onions and then the peanuts for about two minutes on low heat
  • Add the turmeric powder & a pinch of aesfotida and mix well
  • Add the tamarind juice & mix well
  • Add the bisi bele bath powder & red chili powder & mix well
  • Strain the veggies & add them in the wok
  • Add a cup of water & cook the vegetables on low flame
  • Turn off the heat and add the cooked millet-dal to the kadai and mix throughly
  • Add salt to taste
  • Heat the oil for tempering
  • Add the mustard seeds & allow them to crackle
  • Add the red chilies & curry leaves
  • Pour the tempering over the top & mix well
  • Mix in the ghee and serve hot

Spicy Modak

For some reason the word modak reminds me of a very festive sweet. Of course a very popular version of modak is the festive sweet but there are so many other variations that just don’t top the charts in my head. The other sweet version of modaks are the fried modaks, dry fruit modaks, chocolate modaks(fancy) etc. There are plenty of savory ones as well. This one here is a very simple spicy modak with some basic tempering. Here is one more from mom’s cook list. There is strongly belief that modaks could be a very distant vegetarian cousin of momos. Something to think about.

The flavor & aroma of curry leaves and cumin seeds on soft rice flour modak balls. So these modaks might need some little effort when you are rolling out the rice flour balls. But this could be something that you can “outsource” to the people or person in your airspace. The detailed recipe is mentioned below but it is just Cook, Shape & Steam and Temper

Cook: Refined rice flour or Idiyappam flour is first mixed in hot water to form a soft dough. Add some salt to taste and some oil so that the four isn’t too sticky. The flour gets partially cooked in the hot water.

Shape & Steam: Shape the modaks balls and steam them

Temper: Mustard and cumin seeds in hot oil along with some curry leaves and green chili



 

Spicy Modak Recipe 

Ingredients

  • Refined rice flour / Idiyappam flour: 1 cup
  • Salt
  • Oil: 1 tsp
  • Water

For tempering

  • Mustard seeds: 1/2 tsp
  • Cumin seeds: 1/2 tsp
  • Slit Green chili: 2
  • Asafoetida: 1/4 tsp
  • Curry leaves: 6 – 8
  • Oil: 2 tbsp
  • Salt

Here we go…

  • Heat two cups of water in a pan and bring it to a boil
  • Add the oil and some salt to taste
  • Reduce the heat and keep adding the flour to the water while stirring
  • Turn off the heat and stir continuously so that no lumps are formed
  • Once the flour cools down a little, grease your palms with some oil, take small portions of the flour mix and roll into small balls
  • Steam the rice flour balls for about 5-7 mins. A sheen appears on the modak balls.
  • Heat oil in a wok/pan for tempering
  • Add the mustard seeds and let then crackle
  • Reduce the heat and add the cumin seeds, asafoetida, curry leaves and green chillis and a pinch of salt and give it a shake
  • Turn of the heat and add the steamed rice flour balls and mix well so that there is an even coating of the tempering
  • Serve hot

Alternatives:

  • Peanut powder or crushed peanut or dry coconut powder or spicy coconut powder can be sprinkled on top for some more punch

Aloo Bonda

Food has this amazing ability in taking us down the memory lane. There could be that city that you always associate a particular food item with. A drink that reminds you of a fun party you had years ago or a little snack that takes you back to your old neighborhood. Aloo bonda, for me, is a snack that instantly takes me back to this little neighborhood that has a strong influence on me, even though I lived there for only a few years.

There was this elderly lady who used to make and sell aloo bondas along with fried snacks like masala vadas & mirchi bhaji. A common fried snack options in the city. She used to have a kerosene stove on which sat a massive black wok filled with hot oil. There was a huge vessel filled with batter and a big plate with lots of little spicy potato balls. She would dip the potato balls in the batter and the dunk them into the hot oil. Each batch would have about twenty bondas. Once done she pack the bondas in a piece of old newspaper after sprinkling a tangy powder and some chopped onions. Her place used to be crowded in the evenings and even more people would come during the weather was cooler. The mention of aloo bonda takes me right back to the old lady’s tiny dim lit shop, kerosene-smelling shop and the crispy bondas & vadas.

Aloo bondas are flavored mashed poatoes, shaped into small balls, dunked in batter and deep fried. It is quite popular as it is easy to make and of course crispy and yum. Deep fried & delicious. The detailed recipe is mentioned below. But this is really easy to make. Three steps:

Shape : Dunk : Deep Fry

Add some spices to the mashed potatoes and shape them into balls

Dunk the balls into the runny batter, made of chick pea flour with some salt & chili powder

Deep fry until evenly cooked

Have some chopped onions by the side while serving or a little ketchup.

 

The potato mix & the batter

Aloo Bonda Recipe

Ingredients:

  • Potatoes: 2 large
  • Chick pea flour / Besan : 1/2 cup
  • Onion: 1
  • Coriander leaves: 1 bunch
  • Red chili powder: 1 tsp
  • Turmeric powder: 1/2 tsp
  • Lime juice: 1 tsp
  • Salt
  • Oil for deep frying

Preparation:

  • Pressure cook, peel and mash the potatoes
  • Chop the coriander leaves & chop the onions
  • Make a runny batter by adding some water to the chickpea flour. Add some salt, 1/2 tsp red chili powder, 1/4 tsp turmeric powder

Method:

  • While the mashed potatoes are warm add the remaining turmeric powder & red chili powder. Add the chopped coriander leaves and salt and mix well
  • Sprinkle the lime juice over it and mix well. Shape the spiced mashed potatoes into small balls with your hands
  • Heat oil in a wok for deep frying
  • Once the oil is hot, reduce the heat. Dip the potato balls in the batter and dunk it into the hot oil
  • Turn the bondas so that they are evenly cooked
  • Once they turn golden brown, remove them. Drain the excess oil and serve

Alternate:

  • The mashed potatoes can be cooked again with some the spices like mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Add a tsp oil to a wok and temper the spices before adding the mashed potatos.
  • Ginger-garlic paste can be added to the potato mix & the batter, to get some more flavor

Sabudana Vada || Tapioca Pearl Fritter

Love thy neighbor, especially if their cooking is amazing.

One of my former neighbors used to have quite a different eating schedule. Some of the family members, especially the stay-at-home ones used to have a good meal at noon, a little snack in the late afternoon and then dinner in the night. It was almost like the current trend of intermittent fasting. It was a little different from the usual eating timing but you don’t bother much about that when the snacks are amazing. I used to get a plate of food every now and them.  Sabudana Vada was one on the their list of delicious snacks.

Deep fried and delicious, these fritters are quite easy to make. The only thing that needs to be done before hand is to soak the tapioca pearls in water for about six hours. The rest of the recipe is simple. Add a mashed potato some spices and seasoning. Shape the vadas and deep fry. That is it. Ten min prep & then fry.

MIX : SHAPE : FRY

All the ingredients together

Add some chopped curry leaves and mix thoroughly

Shape the vada for deep frying

Sabudana Vada Recipe

Prep time: 10 mins (when the pearls have been soaked & ready )

 

Ingredients

  • Sabudana / Tapioca pearls: 1 cup
  • Potato: 1
  • Roasted Peanut powder: 2 tbsp (optional)
  • Cumin Seeds: 1 tsp
  • Curry Leaves: 8 – 10
  • Turmeric Powder: 1/4 tsp
  • Red chili Powder: 1/2 tsp
  • Salt
  • Oil for deep frying

Preparation

  • Soak the tapioca pearls in water for about 6 hrs
  • Boil/pressure cook, peel and mash the potato

Method

  • Take a large bowl add all the ingredients and mix well to form a mash
  • Shape the vadas / tikkis
  • Heat oil in a wok / kadai. Once the oil is hot reduce the flame to medium
  • Dunk the vadas in the hot oil and cook until it turns brown. Flip the vadas so that they are cooked evenly on both sides
  • Once done, place them on absorbent paper to remove the excess oil

Alternatives

  • Crushed roasted peanuts can also be incorporated to give a little crunch
  • Shallow frying or flat-pan frying are also good option

Ragi Masala Biscuit

There is spice, great aroma and amazing flavor. All the things that hit me when I first had masala biscuit. It is a bit surprising that very few bakers bake masala biscuits. I was fortunate to grab some freshly baked ones. I felt that the only way to amp up all aroma is to bake them at home and let the place smell spicy biscuit-y. Masala biscuits are insanely delicious. For me, masala biscuits are probably one of the most desi baked biscuits or rather one of best fusion snacks out there. A lot of bakers use refined flour or all purpose flour or maida to make biscuits. I used a lot of refined flour. But, this time, I wanted to go a little healthy. Make good use of the millet flour and see if I could get some flavor into it. I took Ragi or Finger Millet flour. Added some whole wheat flour to get a good base to hold the biscuits.  So here we go:

Mix: All the ingredients to form a dough

Roll & cut: Flatten small portions of the dough with a rolling pin and cut the biscuits with a cookie cutter

Bake 

Flour mix & the spices

Masala biscuit dough

Roll out the dough

Cut out the biscuits

Baking time

 

Ragi Masala Biscuit Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 mins
  • Resting time: 10 mins
  • Baking time: 25 mins
  • Ingredients: 8

Tools of the trade: Oven 

Ingredients

Preparation:

  • Sieve the millet flour and the wheat flour, separately
  • Chop the green chillis and the curry leaves
  • Crush the cumin seeds a little in your palms

Method

  • Dry roast the millet flour in a thick pan on low heat.
  • Keep stirring and roast for about 5 mins. The flour will turn slightly brown releasing a nice aroma
  • Put the roasted flour in a large bowl and add the whole wheat flour
  • Add the chopped curry leaves, green chilies, cumin seeds and salt
  • Start mixing the flour while adding the butter and then the yogurt
  • The consistency of the dough should be close to a cookie dough consistency. So keep adding small amounts of water unit you get that consistency
  • Allow the dough to rest for about 10 mins
  • Take a small portion of the dough and with a rolling pin, make a flat circle and cut out the biscuits with a cookie cutter. Pick small holes on the biscuits with a fork or a pick
  • Repeat with the rest of the dough
  • Pre-heat the oven
  • Place the biscuits on a greased baking tray or a tray with butter paper
  • Bake at 180’C for about 25 mins and the then let it cool

Note:

  • Finger millet flour is rougher that refined flour and does not have much natural taste. It would require a bit more of salt and spices that refined flour
  • The baking time can be reduced to get softer biscuits
  • The flour can be substituted with other varieties. The biscuits can be made entirely with whole wheat flour or refined flour or a mix of both
  • Coriander leaves or dried fenugreek leaves/ kasuri methi can also be used to bring in more flavor

Sev Recipe

I almost went to buy sev again, which I always do, then comes the thought: ” why not make it at home, instead of buying”. Did just that and I was surprised how easy it is to make and how well they turned out. Sev is like a staple snack. A topping on lots of other Indian snacks and toasts and it is just great for munching. The best part about making Sev at home is that the flavor and spices can be completely customized.

Gram flour fried vermicelli is made of basic Indian ingredients. There are lots of variations in terms of color and flavor, based on the ingredients used. Gram flour or chickpea flour is a great source of protein, fiber and iron and the best part is that it is gluten free.  The recipe mentioned below is a base recipe. The other alternatives are also mentioned at the end. Here are the basics:

Mix: All the ingredients with gram flour as the base. Pour 2tbsp of hot oil over it. Add water to make a stiff dough.

Load & Fry: Take a portion of the dough and load the press. Once the oil is hot, operate the press to release the dough noodles. Flip & remove from hot oil.

Another traditional deep fried snack it the Murukku (recipe link). Do check it out.

Sieve the chickpea flour

Mix all the ingredients

Get the press ready

Get the dough ready

Load & Fry

Sev it

Sev Recipe

Kitchen tools: Deep fry pan || Chakli Press

Ingredients:

  • Gram Flour / Besan: 1 cup
  • Turmeric powder: 1/2 tsp
  • Red Chilli Powder: 1 tsp
  • Aesofotida: 1/4 tsp
  • Carom seeds / Ajwain: 1/2 tsp
  • Salt
  • Oil: 2 tbsp + for deep frying

Preparation:

  • Sieve the gram flour into a large bowl
  • Add all the remaining dry ingredients and give it a mix
  • Heat 2 tbsp oil and pour it over the dry flour mix
  • Keep adding small amounts of water and knead the flour. The dough needs to be slightly stiff
  • Once the kneading is done, let the dough rest for about 15 mins

Deep fry:

  • Heat oil in a wok for deep frying
  • Take the press to make the sev and the cast of your choice. Grease the inside portion with cooking oil
  • Once the oil is hot, take a small portion of the dough and load the press
  • As you turn/apply pressure the dough will fall out as thin noodles
  • Fry on medium heat. Quickly flip and remove the sev from the oil

Alternatives:

  • To get different flavors you can try adding either some garlic paste or lime juice while kneading the dough
  • Pepper powder can be used instead of red chili powder
  • To get some color use some spinach juice for green or tomato juice/puree for red

Note:

  • Fry the sev on low heat. Being thin they tend to burn very fast

Whole Wheat Lukhmi

She was in her sixties with all the usual age and lifestyle related health issues. Her movements were getting slow and being on the heavier side didn’t help. But when it came to cooking or anything related to food, you could see a spark in her, actually it was more of a fire. I have met a lot of foodies but none like her, she ranks extremely high on the list. She always loved having people over and having great food. She was a generous lady by the way, so it was always a large feast with loads of food, even at the cost of her pension. I learnt some cooking from her and I very vividly remember her “inspiring” some of the younger ones to make Lukhmi. Not much, just about, well, a HUNDRED.  It had to be made the way it was supposed to be made, with a spicy minced meat stuffing. Even though I shaped the Lukhmi the way she used to, unlike the store ones, I am sure she would have laughed on my face if she saw me use potato stuffing instead of meat.

Lukhmi is a very Hyderabadi deep fried snack which is also had for breakfast. It is quite similar to plenty of other snacks made in India and even in cuisines across the globe. There is the stuffing which usually is minced meat or spicy mashed potatoes. A hand made dough layer or pastry to hold the stuffing. Making the dough requires some physical work. The kneading and layering takes some time and effort, but it is completely worth it . Of course if you have ready-made puff pastry, that would work too. The stuffing is easy to make. Mashed potatoes with some Indian spices.

At the heat of it, a Lukhmi is a stuffed pastry that is deep fried. So the pastry can prepared with a range of ingredients. The stuffing again is something that you can play around with, as per you choice and taste. One way is to have them shaped and ready. Place in the fridge and then deep fry when needed. The detailed recipe is mentioned below along with some alternate ingredient options.

The ingredients

Take a circle of dough and place the stuffing at the center

Shape the lukhmi

Deep fry Lukhmi

Whole Wheat Lukhmi Recipe

Kitchen Tools: Deep Fry Pan || Pressure Cooker || Knife

Ingredients:

Dough covering

  • Whole Wheat flour: 1 cup
  • Carom seeds: 1/2 tsp
  • Milk: 1/4 cup
  • Salt

Stuffing

  • Potato: 1 large
  • Onion: 1
  • Chopped Coriander leaves: 1/4 cup
  • Ginger-garlic paste: 1/4 tsp (optiona)
  • Red chili powder: 1/2 tsp
  • Turmeric powder: 1/4 tsp
  • Cumin seeds: 1/4 tsp
  • Lime juice: 1 tsp (optional)
  • Oil: 2 tbsp + for deep frying
  • Salt

Preparation: 

  • Put the wheat flour in a large bowl.  Add the carom seeds and salt, mix well.
  • Knead a the dough by adding the milk and then water, as required. The dough a little soft. This would take some time and effort
  • Pressure cook the potato. Once it cools, peel and mash it
  • Chop the onion

Lets cook:

  • Heat 2 tbsp oil in a wok
  • Reduce the flame and add the cumin seeds
  • Add the chopped onion. Fry for a minute on medium heat
  • Add the turmeric powder and ginger-garlic paste. Mix well.
  • Add the chili powder, coriander powder. Add the mashed potato and mix.
  • Now add salt and the chopped coriander. Mix well and turn off the heat. Once it cools a little add the lime juice
  • Take a ball of dough and roll out a circle. Brush some oil on top and fold it twice. Now again roll out a circle and repeat once more. This gives a few layers to the outer dough covering.
  • In a dough circle, place the stuffing at the center. Rub some water on the ends of the circle and fold it to cover the stuffing. Press and shape with a fork
  • Heat oil for deep frying.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and fry the lukhmi. Flip so that it is evenly fried
  • Once done, drain the excess oil and serve hot.

Alternatives

  • The Lukhmi sold in a lot of places are triangular shaped. Some have it square or rectangular shaped too. So you can play around with the shaped too.
  • Minced meat of course can be used for stuffing along with spiced crumbled cottage cheese or a dry fry of green peas and onions or mixed veggies
  • Refined flour can be used for the outer covering. Store bought puff pastry can also be used
  • The lukhmi can be baked instead of frying

Ragi Laddu Recipe

These laddus are so delicious that it is really hard to believe that they are actually healthy.

The words tasty and delicious don’t often go together, but these finger millet or ragi laddus are an exception. There is a good rough texture from the finger millet flour. Sweetness from the jaggery and flavor from the cardamom. Ragi, a millet is very healthy and has no gluten in it. The use of ragi is really on the rise, right from some very traditional sweets and savoury to some very interesting cakes. Do check out my Ragi Chocolate Cake and Bajra Wheat Cake.

The other classic combo is the sweetness of jaggery and the aroma of cardamom. These are used in a lot of Indian sweets and jaggery is also quite healthy. So three chief ingredients mixed together and rolled out into laddus. Now a little prep is required. The flour has to be roasted. The sesame seeds have to be roasted and ground to a coarse powder. After that it is just mix & shape. Ghee is used to add some richness and to also add some moisture. The quality of the sesame seeds is important. If the oil content is more then that would be sufficient to help shape the laddus. If it is dry variety then some milk would be needed to moisten and shape the laddus. No big equipment is needed. Just a humble thick bottom pan and a food processor to grind the sesame seeds. Of course, the shaping of the laddus can always be “given” to a friend or a family member.

If the only processed ingredient you have is the ragi flour, then no problem. Crush the cardamom pods and the jaggery pieces.

The final mix will look like this

Shape the laddus

Ragi Laddu Recipe

Ingredient: 6 || Prep time: 12 mins|| Laddu time: 10 min 

Tools used: Pan & Food Processor

Ingredients

Preparation

  • Roast the ragi flour on low heat, in a thick pan, till it is slightly brown
  • Roast the sesame seeds. Allow it to cool a little and then grind the roasted sesame seeds to a coarse powder.

Method

  • In a large bowl, mix the roasted flour along with the sesame seed powder, cardamom powder and jaggery powder
  • Add the ghee and mix well
  • There would be some oil from the sesame seed powder and along with the ghee it would help shape the laddus. If the mix is still dry then keep adding little quantities of milk so that there is some moisture that help shape the laddus
  • The color of the mix will turn to a darker and richer shade of brown. Now shape the laddus. Rub some oil on your palms, take small quantities of the mix and roll out the laddus

Falafel Recipe

I am always looking for stuff that I can use as content for my show and my phone is my best note taking device. Any thing interesting, take a pic or make a note in it. Any idea, type it in the phone. It is the same with food. When I see or read something new, I make a note of it so I can try it out in the kitchen. Falafel is one of the best deep fried snack that I have come across. I wanted to make these during the mother’s day week and they were came out really amazing. Deep fried and delicious.

For me, Chickpeas meant chole, either a curry or the drier version which is served with roti, poori and rice. The next thought would probably be pani-puri where chickpeas are used as a stuffing. I honestly could not think beyond that. It is a great source of protein, vital for non-meat eaters and all that but I could not think of a different menu with chickpeas in it. Enter Falafels.

Falafel come out best when dry chickpeas are used. A little planning and prep is required like soaking them in water overnight and keeping them aside after a an hour after making a paste. Once the prep is done, the shaping and frying happens really fast. A course paste is needed to make the falafel. A tiny amount of chickpea flour is also added to help with the binding. Using the chickpea flour makes the falafels gluten free. Keep the paste aside for an hour or two with all the spices. This induces the flavor into the mix. I served with some garlic yogurt that is easy to make and tastes amazing.

Soaked chickpea blitzed with onion & green

The Falafel Mix

Deep Fry

Dig In

 

Falafel Recipe

Equipment Used:

Food Processor Deep Fry Pan 

Ingredients:

Preparation

  • Soak the chickpeas in water overnight. There should be two inches of water above the chickpeas
  • Chop the onions and coriander/parseley
  • Put all the ingredients in the food processor and blitz to form a coarse paste. Set aside for 2hrs

Lets Cook:

  • Heat oil for deep frying. Once the oil is hot reduce the flame
  • Shape the falafels and dunk them in the hot oil
  • Flip them once the underside has cooked to a nice brown colour
  • Cook evenly. Remove from the hot oil and place on an absorbent paper.
  • Serve with hummus or garlic yogurt or a dip

Garlic Yogurt: 

Mix all the following: Yogurt(1/2 cup) + lime juice(1/2 lime)+ grated garlic(1 tooth)+ sour cream (1 tbsp) & salt

Alternatives:

  • The falafel can also be shaped as kebabs or wheel-shaped
  • More herbs can be added for more flavor and a green colored inside. Dill is one of my favorite in such recipes.

 

Oatmeal Cottage Cheese Pancakes Recipe

This humble cheese is taking over the plates. There is a lot of cottage cheese flying around and the usage is quite high. Grilled and barbecued cottage cheese cubes are amazing. Make a curry out of it or use it in a salad. Right from stuffing for sandwiches to making biryanis, panner or cottage cheese is every where. There are cottage cheese desserts too. Panner jalebi is one, deep fried cottage cheese dunked in sugar syrup. Heavy breathing.

Paneer pancakes is on the other end of the spectrum. This one is on the healthier side and it is really easy to make.  Throw all the ingredients in a blender, make a batter and start pouring the pancakes on a pan. It is that simple. No fuss, just good healthy food. We have oats, banana and cottage cheese. I prefer adding a ripe banana, gives a nice aroma. When there is banana then adding vanilla & cinnamon takes it to a whole new level. Play around with the ingredient, have a healthy breakfast. If it looks too healthy, then be generous with the syrup, include some choco chips and chocolate sauce. Not a lot of equipment is required. Just a blender & a skillet

Rolled oats
Add the cottage cheese and banana
Oatmeal Cheese Cake Batter
Onto the skillet

 

Cottage Cheese Pancakes Recipe

  • Prep time: 5 min
  • Cooking time: 5 min per pancake

Equipment used:

Ingredients:

  • Crumbled Cottage cheese/ Paneer : 1/4 cup
  • Rolled Oats: 1/2 cup
  • Banana: 1 (1/2 in the batter + 1/2 for topping)
  • Vanilla extract: 1/2 tsp
  • Cinnamon Powder: 1/2 tsp
  • Baking powder: 1 tsp
  • Flax seed powder: 1 tbsp
  • Milk: 1/3 cup
  • Butter/cooking spray
  • Walnuts : 5-6 (optional)
  • Pinch of salt
  • Syrup/cream/honey/peanut butter

Instructions:

  • Take 3 tbsp of warm water in a cup, add the flax seed powder and whisk it well
  • Put all the ingredients in a blender and turn it on for half a minute
  • Slowly add milk and mix to form the pancake batter. Check the milk quantity based on the consistency of the batter
  • Heat a skillet or a pan grease with either butter or the spray
  • Pour the pancakes, use a cup to measure so that all your pancake sizes are consistent. Allow it to cook on medium heat. Little bubbles will be seen on top
  • Flip and allow it to cook until golden brown
  • Clean the pan & repeat with the rest of the batter
  • Serve the pancake with honey or cream or peanut butter and a few crushed walnuts and banana pieces or a topping of your choice

Alternatives:

  • You can add an egg to the mix. If you are adding an egg then don’t use the flax seed powder and the quantity of the milk required will be a little less
  • Adding half a ripe banana to the batter gives great flavor to the pancakes

Capsicum Zunka

Capsicum Zunka

Typing this post will take more time than actually preparing the Zunka, that is how fast and easy it is to make this one. So what we have here is capsicum that is fried and coated with roasted and spiced gram flour. There is some prep required in roasting the gram flour and of course de-seeding and cutting the capsicum. So if we have both the things going on simultaneously then we have something very tasty that goes great with both rice and with chapattis.

All the flavor and aroma comes from the roasted gram flour and the spices added to it. I like to prepare an entire jar of this roasted spiced flour, have it ready over the weekend, and then use it to give a nice coating on a lot of veggie fries. Just sprinkle a few teaspoons on the vegetable fry, during the last minute of cooking and mix it thoroughly. A nice coating on Potatoes fry and Okra fry and Scarlet gourd are some of my favorites.

Capsicum Zunka Ingredients

Here is the three step easy way to get the Zunka ready, the detailed recipe, of course, is mentioned at the end:

Prep: Clean, de-seed & cut the capcicums

Roast: The gram flour on low heat & add turmeric, chili powder, coriander powder and a little dry mango powder

Fry: Fry the capsicum pieces in some oil. Once done, add salt and sprinkle the roasted gram flour powder over it and mix well.

Capsicum Zunka Preparation

Capsicum Zunka

Capsicum Zunka Recipe

Ingredients:

  • Capsicum: 6-7 medium sized
  • Gram flour/ Besan: 4 tbsp
  • Red Chili powder: 1 tsp
  • Coriander Powder: 1 tsp
  • Turmeric Powder: 1/4 tsp
  • Mustard seeds: 1/2 tsp
  • Dry Mango powder: 1/2 tsp (optional)
  • Oil: 2 tsp
  • Salt

Preparation:

  • De-seed the capsicum and cut them into one-fourths
  • Roast the gram flour on low heat for about five minutes. Keep stirring the flour. The roasted flour will release a pleasant aroma
  • Add the turmeric powder, chili powder, dry mango powder and coriander powder to the roasted flour and mix well.
  • Heat oil in a wok and add the mustard seeds
  • Reduce the flame to medium level, add the capsicum pieces and stir
  • Place a lid and cook the capsicum. It would take about eight minutes on medium heat.
  • Reduce the heat, add salt to the capsicum. Keep in mind that the salt is for the capsicum and the flour
  • Sprinkle the flour over the capsicum and mix well. The flour will absorb the oil and moisture and become darker in color.
  • Keep on low heat for a minute and done.

 

 

Kidney Bean Salad

Like me, if you grow up eating a lot of vegetarian food, then kidney beans end up on your plate in the protein rotation. I have had a lot of kidney beans in Rajma curry either with roti or rice or bread. So, for me rajma always meant a curry or maybe a slightly drier version of it. It is a great protein source but quite heavy and spicy in the curry. Now looking at salads, there are a plenty of similar ones with either corn or boiled peanuts. This one with the kidney beans as the hero is quite something.

I get dried kidney beans so it requires some processing. While making a curry, the soaked beans are cooked a little and then further cooked in the gravy. So it is better to cook based on how much crunch you want to have in the salad. I pressure cooked until a one whistle count on low heat after soaking the beans overnight.

Having tinned beans makes this salad a quick fix. I started with the dried kidney beans so a little more prep was required. The dried beans come out best when soaked over night and pressure cooked. After that it is mixing all the ingredients. Onions and tomatoes to have some variety. Cucumber and carrots are also good options. Coriander leaves or some parsley for some flavor. Seasoning and of course some olive oil. I added some crumble some cottage cheese on the top and sprinkled some lime juice for that freshness.

This is an easy one. Start playing around with the ingredients. The detailed recipe in mentioned below, here are the highlights:

Prep: Chop the onions, tomatoes, coriander/parsley

Mix: All the ingredients & season

Topping: Crumbled cottage cheese and sprinkle some lime juice

 

Kidney Bean Salad Recipe

Prep Time: 10 mins + cooking the beans (if you are using dried beans)

Ingredients:

  • Kidney beans: 1 cup
  • Onion: 1 medium sized
  • Coriander leaves: 5-8
  • Tomato: 1 or cherry tomatoes: 2-3
  • Crumbled Cottage cheese: 2 tbsp
  • Lime: 1/2
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive Oil

Preparation:

  • Chop the onion, coriander and tomato. If its cherry tomatoes, then cut them in half or into fourths.
  • If you are using dried kidney beans, then soak in water over-night and pressure cook the beans (One whistle count on the pressure cooker, with enough water to immerse the beans, should have the beans ready)
  • Drain the beans

Method:

  • In a large bowl, mix the onion and tomato pieces with the beans
  • Add salt, pepper and 2 tsp of olive oil
  • Garnish with some crumbled cottage cheese and coriander leaves and sprinkle lime juice on top of the salad

Note: 

  • The salad is best made just before serving. If it is left standing after adding salt then a lot of the water is released
  • Little pieces of cucumber and carrot also work really well in this salad