Monday, April 30, 2012

Vala cha Birda

In the last post I did mention that I don't deprive the elders at home of their favorite tastes though I am cooking healthy most times. As if to prove a point, this post has come up you will say. It's not like it but there is one person in the family that has a weakness for Vala cha Birda. This person can go to lenghts, of soaking the val, peeling them alone, yes it is a challenging task! 

Now once peeled, I am happy to make it. A call to Mothi Aai and she tells me cook the onions and Val separately and then add the coconut masala. It creates a perfect texture. Do not grind. I follow instructions to the T and I am rewarded with a recreation of a curry that has many fond moments associated with it from childhood. Sprouted Val is called Birda, hence the name of the curry.

I have mentioned in an earlier post the craze for Birda in my family and how Val Dal saved our life if Birda was not peeled and available at short notice.

But before we go into the recipe let me explain to you the treatment val requires.


The three phases of Val:
R to L - dried, soaked n sprouted and the peeled sprouts
1. You got to soak the dried val overnight. I used 1/2 kg Val to get 1 kg peeled sprouts.

2. Then next day remove into a cloth bag, tie up the mouth and hang the bag on a hook in the warm parts of your kitchen. Leave them in the bag for another day and night. In warm climes they should sprout about an inch or two.

3. Remove the sprouts into a container. Pour hot water over it. This will loosen up the skins. Let the sprouts soak for a good 1 hour. Then it is easy to peel the skins. Here is when the entire family should team up. Make it a rule, they will get a share only if they help peel the sprouts ;) I know I sound like a dictator but I hate this part.

Keep aside the peeled Val.

The Ground Masala

Like you see here. Grind together to smoothness.

1/2 coconut
handful of cilantro
4 cloves garlic
1 inch of ginger
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon Koli Masala (1/2t garam masala+1/2t red chili powder)
1 teaspoon cumin
1 green chili

Other Ingredients

1kg of  peeled Val sprouts
2 medium potatoes
2 large Onions chopped
1 tablespoon oil


1. Heat a handi or a copper bottom deep vessel. 
2. Pour oil. 
3. Fry the onions till shinny n cooked.
4. Add the val and quartered potatoes. Mix well to coat with onions and oil.
5. Pour 2 glasses water. Cook till potato is powdery and about to crumble. Val takes time to cook and watching the potato cook is the best way to ensure that Val is cooked. 

Beware that Val when not cooked properly is difficult to digest and may cause increased flatulence

6. Once the Val is cooked well. Add the ground masala and cook on sim for a good 15-20 mins. 

Cover and keep for 15 mins before you serve. This curry like all Koli curries taste better the next day, if preserved in the fridge.

On this day I went the extra mile and served this Thali of Vala cha Birda, Rice, Ghari,  Sheera, Masoor Kairi Dal,  Lime n ginger pickle and Kairi chi Chutney 

This is a recipe that's spicy by my standards. Yet some people in the family would have preferred it to be more fiery. What made my day is the happiness on my father's face was priceless!

Other blogger's who have made Birda or Dalimbi usal

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Bottle Gourd and Moong Dal

While summer calls for mango indulgences it also needs a balancing act with main course dishes. This bhaaji is a perfect summer dish, made with the water laden dudhi or bottle gourd. It is one vegetable I resist even now as an adult. In the last many years of my cooking, my veggies are made as simple as possible, without too much onion tomato paste even the traditional koli ground coconut masala is rarely used. If at all my coconut curries are made only on the weekend, I cannot deprive Dad and the elders of their favorite foods , so I do make them once in a while.

This curry is yet again a Koli authentic one but without the coconut masala. Traditionally deskinned moong dal is used but to add more fibre and texture to the curry I used skinned moong dal. Note it is not whole moong, it is skinned split moong ki dal.

It's very simple to make and it's the first time I ever liked bottle gourd, in all it's simplicity so thought it would be a good idea to share it here.


500gms bottle gourd, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup skinned moong dal (not whole moong)
2 medium sized onions, chopped
few curry leaves
1 large tomato
1 green chili
1/2 teaspoon Koli masala
or (1/2 teaspoon garam masala+1/2 teaspoon red chili powder)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoon oil
salt to taste

Place a deep vessel like a taup/ pateli/ saucepan on fire. Heat the oil. Fry the curry leaves, chopped onions to translucence. Add the cubed bottle gourd and the chopped tomato, mix to coat with oil. Add the koli masala and the slit green chili. If you need more heat increase the masala amount. Add the turmeric. Then the dal. Give a stir and top up with 2 glasses of water. Cover and cook till the dal looks fluffed up and just about to crumble. Keep the water content just a bit. Salt the dal and mix well. Boil to rolling for 2 mins and put off heat. Cover and let the flavors steep for atleast 20 mins before you serve.

Do not mash, you will enjoy the fibre from the skinned dal and the coconut masala is not missed in this healthier version of a Koli traditional dal.

Enjoy you summers without health hassles by including more cooling veggies, like cucumbers, all types of gourds and greens in your food! Needless to say stay hydrated you all.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Kairi chi Chutney

The internet world has a great part in my life just like yours. It is the most generous society, when it comes to sharing experiences, laughs or recipes and even food.

Here is a some friendly blabber I'm sharing with you that will have you ROFL for sure...
Aamir Khan:
My infamously crazy Mango shopping got underway past weekend. Bought 35Kgs of Badami and Alphonso varieties. This man has tasted blood!
Aakash Kumar: Awesome.. Go for the kill
Aamir Khan: The 50 Kgs I bought last year still will take some beating :)
Vaibhav Parekh: ‎'Aam' ka wazan hai ki 'Aam Aadmi' ka!!!!
Aamir Khan: Aam-Dani athanni, kharcha rupaiya!
Aakash Kumar: too much Aam craze.. you may wanna use this as your DP during 'Aam' Season: 

Vaibhav Parekh: an 'Arm' for an 'Aam'!!
Aamir Khan :Aam-shaking is a way of greeting in Ratnagiri :)
Vaibhav Parekh: King of Mangoes should be called 'Aamitabh'!!
Aamir Khan :And comedian amongst Mangoes should be called "Jim Kairi'
Vaibhav Parekh: Katy Perry is thinking of changing her name to 'Peti Kairi'!!
Aamir Khan: And the Ravan villain amongst the mangoes will be called ""Dus-Sehri"
Vaibhav Parekh: Mayapuri's seasonal magazine will be called 'Totapuri'!!
Aamir Khan :Munaf Patel to be made brand ambassador for "Langda" aam
Vaibhav Parekh: The one who does not like it will be called 'Langda Tyagi'
Aamir Khan :Dongri's favorite Aam "Badaam"
Vaibhav Parekh: Not to forget 'Aam'chi Mumbai'!!
Aamir Khan :Aam Loving it!
Vaibhav Parekh: Baba Aamdev!!
Aakash Kumar: ‎"Aam' going to sleep now.. *yawn* :P
Vaibhav Parekh :YAWN sambandh!!
Aamir Khan :‎"Aam"igos, Gd nght
Raju Dedhia: bhai .. kuch export bhi kardo !!!
Anjali Koli : Make sure you're chilling the mangoes well before you eat and take an antidote of curd or sabja water in the day...that will avoid skin eruptions and other heat related stuff. Garmi Bahut hoti hai is phal mein...
Anjali Koli : Lol to all the all the Aam blabber...Aam junta!!!
Well in this conversation I also realized how rich Indian languages are we don't say just Mango for a fruit that has 2 stages, we don't need 2 words to describe them. Kairi is a single word for raw mango while a ripe one is called Aam/ Amba. 

Now the recipe I'm remaking here is Saee's. The jar of chutney that you see below is a gift she gave us when we blogger buddies met. At home people demanded that I make a huge batch for the big family. Saee now has my family and my circle of friends for fans.

5 medium-sized raw mango
4 cup jaggery
4 halves dried coconut
3 teaspoons Kashmiri chili powder (she uses whole red chilies)
4 tsp. fenugreek seeds
4 tbsp. vegetable oil
Salt to taste

Method Peel and grate the mango, she says. Lazy me just chopped roughly and let the grinder do the hard work.

Lightly fry the fenugreek seeds in the oil.

Once fragant put off heat and add the chili powder to the hot oil.

Stir till oil cools a bit and the chili powder is not chared and smokes evenly with the hot oil.

Crush the jaggery, creates a lesser load on your grinder. Especially when you make a huge batch like this one.

Place all ingredients in the mixer jar and grind. No water is required. Remove to an airtight container and store it in the fridge.

This chutney is wonderful with whatever you want to have it with. Chips, breads, rice and though we are eating it like this with every meal these days, I sent it as dip along with Kothimbir vadi for my friend Sangita's birthday celebrations with her team at work and they simply adored it.

We also mixed up some pohe-kurmure chivda with chopped onions and tomatoes and laced it with this Kairi chi chutney. A sukha bhel for your 4pm hunger and oh so healthy.

Stay warned you will be addicted!

Saee has compiled the mango recipes on her blog go over to check them out. They are some of the most authentic and delicious Marathi recipes.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Vanilla Icecream With White Peach Compote Topped With Sweet N Spicy Almonds

This post is about Friends and inspirations, not without food, you know it.

Though the Vanilla ice cream is bought out The White Peach compote is homemade as is the Sweet and spicy almonds. This post is inspired by Friends completely, right from the styling to the recipes. 

When we bloggers met, one of the gifts from P of Evolving Tastes were these dried white peaches, used in this recipe today. She suggested a few recipes, one of which was the compote. I wanted to make it my recipe to share on the blog. So this new sundae is a creation from my kitchen lab. It also uses a recipe from my classmate, Smita's blog, of the Sweet n Spicy Almonds 

The dessert in a jar concept has been haunting me after I saw Saee's pic of Orange rasgullas buried in vanilla icecream. So you see where the inspiration comes from for this styling.

It was an absolutely enriching experience to be with fellow bloggers, the main topic revolved around food but we talked endlessly on photography, social connects, ingredients and shared notes on where we get the best. We talked about family and shared our experiences of our journey as food bloggers. How we announced news about each other to our family members, this social media brought us so close to each other much before we met in person. It's been more than a week and am still talking about our meet to family and friends. It is a pleasant surprise how easily we connected up and giggled like little girls, inhibitions dropped.

Now moving on to the recipe of the sundae, it being a compilation with a special touch of my own is enumerated here in three parts.

The White Peach Compote

2 pieces of dried white peaches
2 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon sugar
1 small pinch cinnamon powder
1 small pinch nutmeg powder

Soak the dry fruits in a cup of water overnight. Once plumped up, cook the fruit with honey and sugar in a small non stick pan. Keep it thick and saucy. Before removing from heat add the spices and mix. Let it cool.

You can make this in large quantities, bottle it and store in an airtight container in the freezer. It can stay good for a month.

This compote can make a wonderful "khubani ka meetha" kind of a thing P had suggested. When served with fresh cream or rabdi. 

The Sweet n Spicy Almonds

I made a tiny batch just for using it as toppings for this sundae. So I made them on the stove top instead of the oven like Smita did.

10 Almonds
1 teaspoon Honey
1/2 teaspoon of Olive Oil
1 small pinch Kashmiri chili powder,
1 small pinch Salt,
1 teaspoon Sugar

I toasted the almonds in the tadka bowl till fragrant. Then in the same bowl I added a teaspoon of honey, and water each and 1/2 teaspoon of Olive Oil. Put it back on heat and let the almonds soak up the liquids. Removed from heat and sprinkled a pinch of Kashmiri chili powder and salt each. Then 1 teaspoon sugar. Kept tossing the tadka bowl till the almonds cooled and the sugar clung to the almonds.

Arranging the dessert

In two jars fill the bought out Vanilla icecream to half level, then add the layer of the chilled White Peach Compote. Now put 5 of The Sweet n Spicy Almonds on the top.

A sweet surprise was ready to be served to a family that returned from a visit to Gondavale.

Are you asking about the taste? It's delicate and the sweet n spicy almonds take this sundae to the zenith. You must try it out and do let me know what you think about it.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Virtual And The Real Friends

I met my blogger buddies last Saturday.

Saee of
P whom I always called ET till we met; of
Harini (a new friendship is planted) of

My first such meet, it felt like we knew each other for years. Yes we did through our blogs so meeting in person was the next natural thing to do. Enjoyed the time we spent together. Lunch at Bangali Mashi's Kitchen followed by coffee at The Stolen Coffee Room across the road. We enjoyed the authentic Bengali Thali and fell in love with the Coffee shop, its colorful blue facade was warm and inviting. Those 5hrs together were filled with laughter, stories and promises to do many more things together.

We exchanged food gifts, I got dried peaches and nectarines from ET (she is visiting from across the globe), Saee gave away Mango chutney and me a quilled card, Koli masala and peanut burfi called badam pak a signature of Thal.

While these are old virtual friendships getting real I had to share it with my real friends who will connect more with me virtually now as I have moved cities.


P.S: Reviews of the joints plus recipes and experiments coming up soon...

Note: No pictures as We respect everyone's privacy.

Monday, April 09, 2012

A Decadent Cheesecake, My First !

I have rarely felt a rush to post a recipe so urgently! 

Cheesecakes are food porn and after oggling at them one day you just succumb. Well yet I wanted something to suit my preferences. I have successfully avoided using gelatin in my cooking, due to its animal origins. Hence I was always looking out for firming ingredients but the options are limited. Agar-agar is an option, but I don't like the texture, after a one time use I never touched it again. Then the internet did help me out, lime juice does help to firm up cold condensed milk is what I learnt and this experiment sounded easy.

Yesterday was a Sunday, everyone was at home yet I did not have any dessert ready because my super busy bro dilly dallied a visit to the D-Mart. Then in the evening Sapna was coaxing me to go when Sumeet was ready to take us there. I told the couple to go for some romance to the store, why the kabab mein haddi. When they were back with all the ingredients I wanted, I set out to put it together. A no bake cheesecake that turned out absolutely decadent and its my first!


1 cup hung curd
1 tin condensed milk/ Amul Mithai Mate
1/2 teaspoon raspberry essence
1 lime, juiced
1/2 cup Strawberry crush (Mapro)

For the crust
2 packs glucose biscuits
1/2 cup molten butter

In the chutney jar, crumble with the hand one packet of biscuit at a time and grind to powder. Remove it into a deep plate. Warm the butter in a bowl, if you measure out 1/4 cup of solid butter and melt it, it will give you 1/2 cup of molten butter. Pour it over the biscuit powder and mix it with the fingers.

Take a tin or a deep dish (I used an oval aluminum baking dish) and line with foil. Let the foil hang over the dish well. This would allow you to pick up the cheesecake with ease when you unmold. Now in this lined dish, spread the biscuit crumble laden with butter. Press it down onto the base. Use your palm to press. Not to worry too much the butter will bind the powder well and seal the possibility of a seepage. Chill the tin for an hour. This is the crust for the base of the cheesecake.

Now in a food processor, fit the whipping blade. Add the hung curd and inch, do not run continuously. Then pour in the entire contents of the condensed milk tin. Whip for a few seconds. Add the raspberry essence and pulse once. Fold in the lime juice slowly and inch for few more seconds. The mix should look nice and creamy and ivory colored.

Pour this mix on the chilled crust. Spread it with a spatula. You will see it begin to set. Now cover the tin with foil or cling film and move the tin into the frigidaire. Chill overnight. 

Sapna had barely brushed her teeth this morning and asked, "Did you unmould the cheesecake?"

I had to succumb to sibling pressure of urgently doing the needful. So the devilish cheesecake had to come out of the hidding place, I required Sapna's help to lift up the cheesecake out of the tin. A springform pan would have been a better choice. We did place it with onto the serving plate with just one small crease. Then deftly had to remove the foil from underneath it. This is the most basic cheesecake. It tastes awesome just as is but my family is demanding. They wanted some color.

Before serving we decided that we can play with flavors, colors and ideas of decoration and since we were hungry and impatient we bathed the pristine ivory cheesecake with Mapro's Strawberry crush.
This was the family's breakfast today! I took a small bite too :P It was irresistible!!

Note : It was a little jiggly and clean cuts are a little difficult with a plastic spatula. Keep dipping it in water before cutting out each slice. I chilled it in the chiller tray, next time will try it in the freezer. For a cheesecake without any firming agent added, its set pretty well for my expectation.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Cabbage Palya

This is a super simple and a ubiquitous bhaaji that you will find in South Indian homes. As a kid who liked cabbage in any form? neither the simple nor the spicy. It smelt so awful always. Then you grow up and you make peace with this bhaaji. Conditions apply, the cabbage has to be shredded fine, it has to be cooked perfectly, there should be a perfect glaze and a crunch retained. That's enough! ;)

Now that I am in Mumbai, I am recording the perfect Cabbage Palya I once made in Blr. Yes I perfected the recipe in Blr. This will be useful for all the beginner cooks and lonely souls missing Ma's food and will cry into their bowl of cabbage palya once they try this recipe.


1 cabbage (1/2 kg)
2-3 green chilies
2 teaspoon urad dal
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
few curry leaves
salt to taste
1 tablespoon oil
optional fresh grated coconut for garnish

Heat oil to smoking point. Splutter the mustard seeds, add the urad dal. Fry till golden. Add the curry leaves and the green chillies. 

Now add the finely chopped cabbage. This is a must! Use a V slicer or a Food processor. Stir for 5-7 mins. Salt it. Cover and cook for another 5. Turn off the heat. Sprinkle some fresh grated coconut if you like and are permitted to eat.

Enjoy it like a salad or an accompaniment with roti of your choice. This palya is very versatile as a filling for sandwich, wraps and even samosa. See I let out a secret use of even the most ordinary palya. Enjoy the simple pleasures.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Tur, Methi, Mushroom Handi

This is a curry that I loved a lot when I made it but I could not post it immediately. We were still in Blr. and it was the beginning of the winter harvest, when the markets are flooded with the freshest legumes. Of all of the legumes, Tur has a certain special place. It is not as mundane as peas, though it will be unfair if I say I don't like mutter. I love the fresh Val or Avarekai too. Yet Tur creates the excitement that mutter or Val does not. There are too many recipes to use mutter and a few must makes when avarekai is in season. All of those recipes can be made with Tur too. On this particular day the Tur pod was pregnant with the seeds and yet tender. I had a bunch of fresh methi and button mushroom too that I picked from the store when the stock had just comes in. It made me so happy that I had to use this bounty to make a recipe that would not fail me.


2 cups fresh Tur /pigeon peas
2 cups chopped methi leaves
1 cup small button mushroom (cut into 2)
1 cup chopped ripe tomatoes
1 teaspoon ginger paste
1 teaspoon garlic paste
2 teaspoon oil

For the Masala
2 large onions
1 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoon coriander powder
2  teaspoon koli masala (OR 1 teaspoon garam masala + 1 teaspoon red chili powder)
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
First prepare the masala. With a knife create a cross cut in the onions like you would to stuff, not all the way thru but about 3/4th through the bulb. On direct flame roast the onions till the outer peel is charred and the insides look cooked. Turn over to cook evenly. When both are done keep aside to cool. Now peel of the charred skin and roughly chop up the onion and put it in the grinder. Add all the spices and grind to a fine paste with minimum amount of water and salt to taste. Save.

Now in a handi or a deep vessel heat oil. Add this masala and fry till the oil separates about 5 minutes on medium heat. Add ginger and garlic paste. Fry for another minute. Now add the vegetables tur, methi and mushrooms, keep stirring till methi wilts a bit. Then follow in with the tomatoes, on high heat let the tomatoes crumble down to a paste. Now finally top up with water. Keep the consistency thick and creamy. Cover and cook for about 7-8 minutes. Put off the heat and let the flavors soak well before you serve. 

This yummy handi is scoopable with any roti or bread and is equally enjoyable when mixed with a steamed rice or a simple jeera rice.

On Trail