Monday, February 23, 2009

Tavyarchi Val Dal


In my home most Sundays the menu was fixed. It was Birda (sprouted field beans) or Tavyarchi Val Dal for lunch and Masale bhat for dinner.

Sunday mornings for my brothers were meant for swimming . We were blessed with a swimming pool that was built for the Asiad and the colony still benefits from it. H, S & S all loved their swim. They were not allowed to eat before swimming so when they came home they were served a yummy lunch. Especially Somu loved Birda so those who were at home would sit around a pot of Val sprouts to peel them after a sumptious Sunday breakfast. When that was not possible my aunts pulled out the Val dal. This is made by skinning and peeling the dried Val.

Since this Dal is made on the tava/ girdle, it needs soaking in water to rehydrate it to make it cook easily. A couple of hours should be good.


Ingredients

1/4 cup Val Dal
2 onions
2 green chilies
1 teaspoon Koli masala OR
1/2 teaspoon garam masala+1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 teaspoon oil
salt to taste

Heat a tava, add oil. Fry the onions in it till pink. Add the spice powders. Now add the rehydrated Val dal, cover with enough water to let it cook properly. This dal take about 25-30 mins to cook. Add more water if it is drying up. To check if dal is cooked pick a grain and press between thumb and forefinger. Make sure it is done well. The sign of a well cooked dal is if you see it is begining to crumble. Do not stir much while cooking it else the dal will disintegrate completely and the result will be a paste. It should be al dente. The onions should meld into the bhaaji and give the dal a lovely coat.

This dal has a fragrance that should get the fire started in you. This time I served with chapati but at our home when we were kids we prefered the Chavlachi Roti. Here I have garnished with green chilies but you can do it with chopped cilantro too.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Methi Stuffed Paratha



Many times we make a simple stir fry with various types of green leafy vegetables like spinach, chard or wild greens. This particular day I made with methi. I love these stir fries made with onions and the greens. They go very well with rotis made from Jowar, Bajara, rice etc. Traditionally this combo is a farmer's diet.

Using this as the stuffing I made these Methi stuffed parathas. Here is a basic recipe for stir fried greens.

Now to roll out the paratha you need chapati dough. Make a basket with the dough fill it with a ping pong sized ball of the stir fry bhaaji. Pull together the dough to form a ball. Shape it a bit to ensure the filling does not come out. Flatten it between the palms. Dust the counter or chakala with some flour. Roll out the paratha with a light swift hand. Keep it a little thick about 1/4 inch. Roast on a non stick girdle. Keep it fat free if eating hot. If carrying for lunch in a box or storing for longer time coat with oil or ghee and fold it before putting into a container.

Tip: To keep parathas soft line the container with a cloth or napkin. This absorbs the excessive sweating while keeping them soft.

Have these parathas with your favorite pickle and a glass of butter milk!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

She is Special

Hope you folks had a great Valentine's.

Last week has been fun filled with all the shopping I did for Sapna. I like to give surprises but since I am buying stuff for her for the first time am anxious to know if she likes the stuff. So I thought I'd show it to her on the blog while my readers get to comment on the choice too.

She is 25, slim, working woman and someone ;) thinks she is the most beautiful lady!

I feel she is special too !!


Patti collar with front slit neckline on the Batik kurta and the bright pink kurta with a deep V.

Both are cotton, 40 length and can be worn with pants as well as salwar.

A straight wrap-around skirt having paisley print and contrast patchwork top

AND

Sarees from Nalli, you have to experience shopping there even non saree wearers like me get motivated. Humm...to buy...She too is not into sarees but then some occassion are meant to be...

Cotton sarees with thread work

A Pochampalli silk saree, Maroon and Yellow, it is the Haldi Kumkum combo with designs on the body.

A Kancheepuram silk saree, tassels on the pallu, bright green border with zari and threadwork. Dhup-chaav (double shades) body of lavender and gold. This one just glitters.


My friend Deepa gave me this pouch. I am going through a motherly phase right now so I requested permission from Deepa to let me keep it for Sapna. She said it was for me but I know she understands because she too keeps away the best for Ahana! :)

This much till Sapna gets to see the actual stuff. Till then I will still be anxious...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Falafel


Falafels are vadas of the middle east. They are eaten in pita pockets filled with some fresh salad topped with a dressing of tahini or hummus.

I neither had the mood to make tahini nor hummus. Anyways I had made the stew and it was an excellent dip and accompaniment to gulp down bites of Falafel.

Falafel differs from our dal vadas to begin with only the raw material. Rest of the spicing is almost identical to the Indian variety. Falafels are made with soaked Kabuli chana/ chickpeas where as we use chana dal for our dal vadas. The amount of cilantro used is more where as we might use just a handful.

They are great to pop into the mouth. Now in Mumbai these outlets have started in multiple locations. I am yet to try out but the prices look ridiculus. Most Mumbaites may prefer to buy their dal vadas instead from the food counters at the railway station or their favorite hole in the wall shops near home, 2 pieces for Rs.10. I prefer to eat at home whether dal vadas or Falafels. I followed this recipe with some freedom.

Ingredients

1 cup chickpeas/ Kabuli chana soaked overnight
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon cilantro
1 teaspoon cumin
Salt
Pepper
Olive Oil for frying

Grind the chickpeas to grainy texture. Mix intermittently to get uniform texture. While grinding add cilantro.

Add the chopped onion, garlic, cumin, pepper and salt. Mix well. Roll into lemon sized balls. If you think they don't hold together well you can use some flour or add bread crumbs as binders. I did not do this as I was able to shape them well and knew they would hold shape while frying.

Fry them in a shallow pan using Olive oil, on high heat. Make them golden. Most times they are deep fried but shallow frying also makes them nice and crunchy while you use less oil. Especially when using Olive oil.

Serve hot with tahini or hummus and go traditional. I'll do that next time. A pita pocket too sounds good but not so soon.

Do note this:

Read here about how Olive oil deteriorates at high temperatures and should not be reused. So to avoid large quantity of leftover oil shallow fry with whatever amount of oil you need.

When I am frying something what I follow is fry first, mostly shallow, rarely deep frying. I never deep fry in Olive oil as I do not want to waste the expensive oil after frying once. Then use up whatever oil you need for cooking the other dishes on your day's menu. I try to finish off whatever little oil I have after the shallow frying, immediately.

Actually this applies for frying in any kind of oil even if they are the high temperature resistant ones like refined vegetable oils. I still don't like to keep leftover oil.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Hasa Al-Khadr Maa Hummus


I was looking for a middle eastern stew recipe. When I chanced upon this site. This stew/ soup is created by combining Chickpea soup with the vegetable soup and creating a new name too!

This stew or soup you decide, is traditionally cooked in a Tajine pot over an olive wood fire. I however made in on a gas and then served it in a glazed clay pot.

It is one hearty stew, I prefer to call it that. A medley of vegetable cooked in the juices of caramelized onion and chickpeas is spiced with cumin and coriander powders is usually eaten like a curry with couscous or the middle eastern flat breads. I made Falafels to go with it instead. I have studied a couple of recipes and then done my own thing. So here it is for you.

Ingredients

1 cup White Chickpeas
1 onion chopped fine
2 garlic pods
2 cups chopped vegetables (carrots, tomatoes, mushrooms, potatoes etc.)
1/2 cilantro chopped
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper powder
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt to taste
1/2 lemon juice

Heat the oil in a small pressure cooker. Fry the onions and garlic till caramelized. Add the chickpeas and top with water. Cook for 3 whistle. Cool till you are able to open the cooker safely. Then add the rest of the ingredients, chopped veggies, all the spice powders and salt. Cook for another 3 whistles. Open the cooker once cooled and mash the chickpeas with the back of the spoon. This will give the gravy a bit of thickness. Squeeze the lemon juice into the entire dish and give it a stir.

Serve it in a pot with a lid with a flat bread or couscous on a platter. I deviated though from this as you see.

I would be making this with different beans and veggies combinations more often. It is simple, healthy and tasty perfect for people on protein diets.

Monday, February 09, 2009

A Middle Eastern Meal

and a dimension of Indian Northwest Frontier


Falafels and Hasa Al-Khadr Maa Hummus


Blogging makes you adventurous. I have loved Khubuz with lots of butter dipped in Hummus. This is however the first time I have made a middle eastern meal, it was my dinner last night. It consisted of the Falafels and Hasa Al-Khadr Maa Hummus. I also made Paneer Tikka.

The Falafel is a dal vada from the middle east.

Hasa Al-Khadr Maa Hummus, I'm guessing I got the name right is a stew or soup you decide.

Paneer Tikka recipe based on what I enjoyed at Barbeque Nation.

Come back for the delicious recipes.

Bye for now and more later...

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Veg Sandwich From The Streets of Mumbai

Some places conjure the images of gastronomical experiences, others of healthy food and some others of the aroma of ghee.

Mumbai street food in definitely gastronomical but rarely will it stand for healthy food. Though everyone loves the vegetable sandwich this side of the country, people never list it as their first favorite.

When we were in college on returning home if we refused food we would be taunted "Must have hogged Vada pao." Mom and Aunts felt relieved if we said we had veg sandwich for a filler.

You will say what is so great about Veg Sandwich? Yeah this I realized when I heard some young boys from Mumbai comment in the cafeteria at work on the sandwich they were served. In typical Mumbai lingo, "Salon ko sandwich bhi banana nahi aata." Good here in Bangalore people don't grasp Mumbaiya Hindi. However I do understand their frustration and sympathize with my Mumbaikars outside Mumbai.

You will understand why when you try out this recipe. The Veg sandwich made on the streets of Mumbai bursts with flavors and veggies. It is not just a treat for the taste buds but is as colorful as a rainbow.

Every college has a cafeteria yet you will always find a sandwichwala outside the college gate. Kids build relationships with the Bhaiya (Sandwich vendors are mostly from Uttar Pradesh) and they know the regulars preferences. One does not have to specify the order. He would know who likes the sandwich with onions and who does not also who prefers to skip the beetroot.

We would love to watch him butter the slices, apply the chutney (wondering if the chutney was made in hygienic conditions) and then he would skillfully slice the vegetables thin, holding it in hand. We always feared he might slit his hand but his acumen was worth an applaud. Then he would pull out his tin of chat masala tap it on the portable counter and as if in a practiced dance movement sprinkle it over the fresh slices of veggies. This sandwich is always a club sandwich ie. of 3 bread slices. The final slice would cover the riot of colors. He would then apply a little pressure with his palm to hold all the stuff together and run his long bread knife along the edges to trim them and to cut the pieces, always 6 rectangle ones. The sliced bread used is generally Britannia or Modern. They use the large sized slices as the edges are trimmed. Many kids while they watch the Bhaiya prepare their sandwich like to grab the trimmings and eat it with a little ketchup. Most Bhaiyas don't mind this behaviour of the kids. Then depending whether you wanted to eat it at the stall or pack away, he would slide the sandwich off the board onto a plate layered with butter paper or a piece of the bread wrapper sheet. Finally handing out the serving to you. If you were eating in front of him he would hand over the ketchup squeezee to you else pack the ketchup in a small Ziploc pouch.

I would love to eat my sandwich fresh before it gets soft as this is not a toasted one. Going on to dot it with ketchup. It was always impossible to talk while eating as even the single piece loaded with all those veggies would stuff your mouth. After this came the best part when the entire gang of friends would pretend to act as if they were set on fire by the chutney and demand, "Bhaiya sukha dena" sniffing hard to drive the point. But Bhaiya knew us too well and he would keep a little triangle of buttered slice ready for each of us!

All this for just 5-7 Rs. Now I don't even know how much the Veg sandwich costs. I have not had one in years on the streets of Mumbai.

Would you like to try it out?

Make two.

Ingredients

For Green chutney

1 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoon lemon juice
2 green chilies

Grind together to get an aromatic paste.

For the Sandwich

8 slices of bread
butter
1 beetroot, boiled
2 small potatoes, boiled
1 onion
1/2 cucumber
1 big tomato
Chat Masala

First butter all the slices. Keep aside 2 buttered slices for the sukha.

Apply green chutney on the remaining 6 slices. One by one slice the vegetable on bread slices like shown here. Sprinkle a large pinch of chat masala over each layer. Do you see the specs in the picture? They are slightly visible on the beets.

Assemble all the slices veggie side up obviously. Cover with a buttered and chutneyed slice with the plain side up. Press gently with your palm while cupping the sandwich with your fingers. Run the bread knife to trim the edges.

Then cut up into small 6 rectangular pieces like here.

Dot with ketchup and enjoy! I ate straight from the cutting board but if you are serving this to someone slide it off onto a nice plate and handout a tissue, putting a piece of this sandwich in your mouth without messing is a practiced art.


Don't forget the sukha buttered slices. Put together the buttered slices and trim the edges and cut up into four triangles. Tradition says only one small triangle of sukha after one full Veg sandwich. It helps cool off the heat of the green chutney yet lets your Jivha soak up in the wonderful flavors of a true Mumbai Veg sandwich from around the corner on the street.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Sajuk Tup Chapati AaNi Sakhar

and Many ways to eat it.

The 10 days of being home alone makes it such a pain to cook on week days. I have been enjoying my dinner of fresh fruit salad yet the lunch leaves me wanting to eat food that I have made myself. Today is Thursday, one more day and it would have been the weekend but I did not have the patience. Infact there was no power at home but I was determined. I switched on the emergency lamp and started cooking in the dim light.

In the cooker went in a dal major rice minor khichdi along with onions and tomatoes. I had planned to add some ginger garlic paste but forgot to pound it. I kept aside the mortar and pestle with the peeled ginger garlic left in it. Would I dare to do it when Dad is around. I will wash the ginger and garlic before use, if I cook tomorrow else I'll throw it away.

While it whistled on slow, I made the dough for chapatis. Now in Marathi I learnt to call it PoLi much later but as a kid it was chapati so that is what it is.

I was craving for soft chapatis after eating the oil free ones made at the cafeteria at work, healthy but not a Marathi's style. I realize how finicky I have become about food. I cook every single day when Dad is here with me but now when I was eating out nothing tasted like home.

Since I had already made a khichdi I did not want to make a bhaaji. So I thought Sajuk Tup Chapati Aani Sakhar is what will make my soul sing. Just like Aai, my Mom would make it.

The ghee must be home made Sajuk Tup for this. The Dalda is ok for puff pastries and Nankhatai but has no place in my home for any other use. Sajuk Tup is a must with Varan bhat, on Sheera after it is cooked and with just off the tava chapati!

Ingredients

1 cup wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water
2 teaspoons Sajuk Tup for kneading

*Sajuk Tup for GENEROUS DOUSING

Rub in the molten sajuk tup into the dry wheat flour. Add salt and water and knead to get a smooth dough.

Now pinch of small parts of the dough and roll out to get a small phulka. Apply sajuk tup lightly dust with flour. Fold it into a quarter then fold 2 more times. Each fold lightly greased with the sajuk tup and dusted with flour. Now press it flat and roll out a chapati. Heat a tava on high. Roast the chapati and press lightly with a cloth or flat spoon. Douse the chapati with lots of sajuk tup before you remove from heat. Do this fast before the chapati turns stiff on the tava. Fold it into half and fold it one more time to get a quarter. Store it in a hot pot.

This chapati has lots of layers and sajuk tup flavor dominate. This is the famous Marathi Ghadichi PoLi. Some might find it very rich. So keep a fizzy drink handy.

There are many ways to serve and enjoy this delicate chapati.

1. Tear into rough pieces and sprinkle sugar on it and eat it with your fingers.


2. Open the quarter folds of the chapati, drizzle the sugar. Pack it for tomorrow's lunch.


3. Even if the khichdi needs to be gulped and cleaned. Roll a little sugar in one chapati and take a bite while watching TV.

Now off to bed.... have to go to work... tomorrow is Friday and then the weekend...

Thought for the night:

"Unconditional love gives one the freedom to be your own self."

Good Night...Sweet dreams :)

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Sold to the basest emotions

Yesterday I watched Slumdog Millionaire. It is a story that happens in Cuffe parade slums, in the slums of Sundar Nagari, Colaba, in the movie it is unfolding in Dharavi. It is so real.

In the movie Jamal wins the game show and gets media recognition. In Sundar Nagari it could be the part life story of a ruling smuggler, In Cuffe parade it could be a Bhai.

Jamal is lucky to steer clear of evil most times and that is the amazing part. In real life their end is that of a dog at the hands of the police or another bhai.

I loved the movie. In Mumbai the the poshest areas are in close proximity to slums. The lives as disparate.

The story of victory of Jamal in grimy settings touches the basest emotions in man. Though I am happy it has won awards, I would love to see an Indian film win the accolades that would portray India in all its positivity and richness and made by an Indian, without lobbying.

The real deserving award is for A.R. Rahman and his genius.

Watch it if you haven't yet... It is called Slumdog Millionaire.



Monday, February 02, 2009

Lite Gajar Halwa

Kal Sunday Tha...

The menu : Gajar Halwa made with whole milk, a bowl of grapes, Taher & Gucchi Olu !

With Dad in Mumbai yours truly lived on bread butter jam for an entire week for dinner and once even had bread dunked in coffee for lunch. After that need I say the Sunday meal was to die for.

I tried making Lite Gajar Halwa, lite because we always make the richer version with khava. In my family since ours was a large family we always made it that way, may be to reduce the cooking time. It has grainy texture. We love it.

Until one day my GM, Ved mentioned while we were lunching out that he loved the Gajar Halwa the way it is made in Allahabad-Varanasi, his native. He said it was always an all day family affair, taking turns to stir the Gajar Halwa as it simmered on the stove. He said it was made by frying shredded carrots in ghee and then simmering in whole milk with sugar till is formed a thick mass and left the sides of the pot. It was always made in large quantities and was a winter speciality. His narration was so vivid that it was etched in memory. On top of that he turned down half of the Gajar Halwa made with khava that he was eating at the restaraunt. I resolved to try the UP version. This was a year and a half ago.

Now I was alone at home and had 4-5 large Delhi carrots lying in my veggie stack. I was thinking of a salad but zoomed in on a treat.

Ingredients

4-5 large Delhi carrots
2 tablespoons ghee
1 glass milk
1/4 cup sugar
3-4 cardamom pods
1/4 cup mixed nuts and raisins

Shred the carrots to fine. It should give you about 3-4 cups.

In a large frying pan melt the ghee on heat. Fry the carrot shreds in the ghee to lend it a nice toasted aroma. Add the milk and sugar. Simmer on slow with intermittent stirring till it begins to thicken.

Once it starts thickening keep stirring till it leaves the sides of the frying pan. Put off the heat. Peel the pods and pound the cardamom seeds. Add this powder to the halwa along with the nuts and raisins. Mix into the halwa.

Scoop out the halwa in a serving bowl and serve. I decorated with the opened pod of cardamom and seeds.

Verdict:

This version is lite, creamy and the carrots are cooked to a softness that makes the halwa delectable. Yet again it decodes the mystery of why in all Bollywood films the hero's Maa feeds him with Gajar Halwa!

Delhi carrots are the best for Gajar Halwa. Though I use the other cultivars too. I love the juicy Delhi Carrots and did you know they are rare!

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Russian Sandwich


This is a desert sandwich called Russian sandwich. As a kid when my Uncle took me out for a treat this was one of my favorite deserts. I was always mesmerized by libraries and Petit library was one of them. My Uncle was a member there and so I went along with him on Saturdays. It is next to the Khadi gram udyog building in Fort and only 5 mins away from my home in Fort. After lunch my Uncle would walk me down to the library. I would get introduced to the peons there and then would get access to the three floors of books.

I liked to sit in the balcony where there were old teak wood recliners, almost like beach chairs. Many a times you would see a Parsi Bawa dozing there while reading.

This library has some beautiful stained glass windows and all three floors full of books and endless books. They have a huge collection of Marathi books too besides the predominantly English collection.

Then on the way back home I would get my treat at Lalit Lunch Home that I keep mentioning about.

Ingredients

Makes 2 sandwiches

6 slices of bread
1 banana
¼ cup chopped pineapple
2 tablespoons mixed fruit jam
2 teaspoons butter

Trim the edges of the bread. I normally don’t fuss about the edges of the slices but for this sandwich I prefer trimmed slices to make it more delicate. Don’t throw them away feed it to your pet or a street dog.

Butter the slices. Layer them with jam. Now arrange the sandwich. Keep one slice jam side up ofcourse. Then slice the banana in rounds over it. Place the next slice on top, layer the pineapple. Cover with the third slice with the jam side in. Press the sandwich together lightly. Cut with a serrated knife into small pieces. You could use a variety of spreads instead of jam and a whole different medley of fruits.

Enjoy it after dinner as a dessert or as evening snack with a tangy juicy or ice tea.

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