Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Bombay Style Sandwich

When comparing all the roadside food available on the streets of Mumbai, I think sandwich is the only option, which stands out as quick and healthy snack. Everything else is either fried or full of potatoes. Sandwich can be very boring, if you like eating spicy food, but if you can find a bhaiya (vendor) who makes tasty sandwich chutney, good chaat masala, you can enjoy it everyday without complaining.

As mentioned above, the key to making a good sandwich is having fresh and tasty chutney to spread on the bread. Click here for the recipe.

Here is the recipe for making Bombay Style Sandwich

Bread Slices (White slice preferable for better taste),
Butter at Room Temperature,
Sandwich Chaat Masala, (You can use any other chaat masala if you want), Recipe Follows,
Sandwich Chutney,
2 Medium Potatoes, Boiled and Cut into Thick Round Slices
2 Medium Tomatoes Cut into Thin Round Slices,
1 Medium Indian Cucumber, or Pickling Cucumber, Cut Into Thin Slices,
1 Medium Beet, Boiled, and Cut into Thin Round Slices,
1 Small Onion, Cut into Thin Round Slices

Method for Assembling a Sandwich:
When you buy bread at the store, try to look for Sandwich bread. This bread is a little bigger in size, which allows you to spread all veggies uniformly on them. If you can’t find sandwich bread, then any type of sliced bread will work.

Stack 3-4 bread slices on each other. Remove the outer brown crust from all sides, but running a knife thru the breads. (This step is optional. I don’t remove the sides, but the vendors in India do remove them. You don’t need to throw them away. Instead you can make bread upma out of them. I will post a recipe soon.)

Spread half teaspoon of butter on one side of the slices, and place them butter side up on a flat surface. Now spread half teaspoon of the chutney (or per taste), on the buttered sides of the bread slices. Arrange a layer of the potatos on one of the bread slices. Sprinkle the sandwich masala over the potatoes. Now arrange a layer of beet and onion slices respectively over the potatoes. Sprinkle the masala again. At the end, arrange the tomato slices and cucumber slices respectively. Sprinkle the chaat masala again. Place another bread slice with sandwich and chutney side facing the veggies. Press very gently to uniformly spread the veggies apart. Depending on the size of the bread, cut it into 6 to 8 pieces. Serve with ketchup, and chutney on side.

Variation: For all you cheese lovers, grate some Amul Cheese, and sprinkle it over the sandwich before serving.

Ingredients for Making the Sandwich Masala:
¼ Cup Cumin Seeds,
1 Tsp Cloves (Laung / Lavang)
1 Tsp Cinnamon
2 Tsp Black Peppercorns
2 Tsp Fennel Seeds
2.5 Tsp Back Salt (Sanchal)
1 Tsp Dried Mango Powder (Amchur)


Dry roast the cumin seeds in a frying pan on low flame until a mild aroma leaves the seeds. Make sure to stir the seeds to heat them evenly. Let it cool. Combine the rest of the ingredients and grind to a fine powder. Store it in an airtight container and use as required.

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Chutney for Bombay Style Sandwich

The recipe below makes hot and tasty chutney to be spread on bread slices while making Bombay style sandwich.

1 Cup Roughly Chopped Cilantro Leaves,
1 Slice of  Bread,
Salt to Taste,
1 Teaspoon Lemon Juice,
5-6 Hot Green Chilies, or to Taste,
3-4 Tablespoon Water

Method: Combine all the above ingredients and grind to a thick and smooth paste. Use as needed.

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Friday, November 12, 2010

Home Made Mango Shrikhand

Mango Shrikhand is an Indian sweet made with hung yogurt, and is flavored with ripe mangoes. I had never made mango shrikhand before, but I have made regular Kesar shrikhand many times before, which turns out very good.

This time, I tried a little variation in the recipe, in order to make it a bit healthier. Usually, I use Yogurt and sour cream as a base for my recipe. This time, I used Light Greek Yogurt to make the shrikhand.

I must tell you that using Greek yogurt was a wise idea, since it is very healthy, has a lot of protein, and the best thing is, it is very thick in consistency, which is perfect for making shrikhand. Also, the shrikhand tasted very good. I used mango pulp available at Indian stores to flavor the yogurt. If you can find fresh ripe mangoes, then you can make puree out of them and add it to the yogurt. You should definitely try this recipe. It takes only 5 minutes to mix all the ingredients. The only thing you need to do after that is hang it overnight, and enjoy the freshly made shrikhand the next day.

Here are the Ingredients required to make Mango Shrikhand
1 lb Hung Greek Yogurt, (I used low fat, but you can definitely try with full fat version).
1/2 Cup Sugar, (Adjust the Quantity per Your Taste)
1/4 Cup Sweetened Mango Pulp,
A Pinch Saffron,
2 Tablespoon Slivered Almonds, Roasted
1 Tablespoon Chopped Pistachios,
1/8th Teaspoon Freshly Ground Nutmeg Powder
1/4th Teaspoon Cardamom Powder

Method: If the yogurt contains any liquid, drain it, and then transfer the yogurt to a mixing bowl. Add the sugar and mango pulp to it, and stir lightly to combine well. Do not over mix. Transfer this mix to a cheese cloth. Tie the cloth and hang this mixture in the fridge over night. Make sure to keep a bowl under the cloth so that all the liquid drains out in a bowl.

In order to "hang" the cloth, I put the cloth in a fine mesh container (the one used to wash and drain veggies and rice). I put that mesh container in a large enough bowl such that the sides of the container are supported by the bowl, but the bottom stays suspended. Then I let the mixture sit in the fridge over night.

The next day, transfer the mixture from the muslin cloth to a serving bowl. Add the nutmeg powder and 3/4th of the chopped almond and pistachios to the mixture. Add the saffron and mix well. Sprinkle the remaining almonds and pistachios on top as a garnish, and serve chilled along with warm paratha or puri.

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Khajur Paak or Khajur Rolls

Khajur pak is a very healthy dish, which doesn't require too many ingredients, and is easy to make. Khajur (Dates) contain a lot of beneficial vitamins and minerals and are naturally very sweet, so no sugar is required to make this sweet dish. They are very good for diabetic people too.

This diwali, I thought of making some healthy sweets instead of the regular milk and mava based ones. I had a lot of Black dates at home, so I made khajur pak out of some of them. You can substiture the regular variety (red dates??) for the black ones I used here.

One more change I made to the recipe was, instead of only adding chopped nuts to make khajur pak, I also added muesli mix to it. Muesli is a popular breakfast cereal based on uncooked rolled oats, fruit and nuts. My mix had rolled oats, wheat bran, barley flakes, flex seeds, raisins, cranberries and chopped nuts. The addition of muesli is absolutley optional, but it does enhanse the taste, texture and nutritional value of this snack.

Here is the recipe for making khajur pak. I am showing the generic recipe with nuts, but if you do want to add muesli, substiture the nuts listed below with the same amount of muesli mix. You should be able to find muesli at a health food store such as whole foods, but if you can't find it, then you can add some rolled oats and flex seeds powder to the original recipe.

1/2 Kg Dates,Deseeded and Chopped into Small Pieces
2 Tablespoons Ghee (Unsalted Butter),
1 Cup Chopped Mixed Nutes (UnsalteD),
1/8 Cup, Coarsey Ground Peanut Powder
1 Tablespoon Poppy Seeds, for Garnishing (Optional)

Heat the ghee in a thick bottom pan. Once it is hot, add the nuts (or muesli mix). Stir and roast on low for a minute or two. Now add the chopped dates and the peanut powder. Stir well to combine all the ingredients. Turn the heat to medium-low. Let it cook for 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure that the mixture doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. Once you see the mixture coming together to make a lump (7-10 minutes), turn off the stove and remove the mixture in a flat plate. Let it cool a bit so that you can make a roll out of it using your hands. Make a 2-3 inch diameter roll out of the lump. Spread the poppy seeds on the flat plate. Roll the mixture in the seeds so that it is coated uniformly. Let the roll cool completley. Cut into pieces.

Alternatively, you can make tiny bite size rolls out of the warm mixture, and roll them in poppy seeds.
The picture here shows both, the tiny bite size rolls, and the flat disc type rolls.

This entry is a part of Sara's Corner's Healthy Food for Healthy Kids Contest  and Nithu's Healthy Food for Healthy Kids Contest  

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Shahi Paneer

Shahi Paneer is a mildly spiced paneer dish with rich and creamy gravy. Depending on the restaurant you go to here in the Seattle area, you might see shredded paneer or cubes of paneer in the creamy gravy. We, at my house like the shredded variation better, so I am posting the recipe for the same. This dish is known by many names such as paneer bhurji, mughlai paneer, paneer korma etc. All of them have the same gravy base with minor variations.

500 Grams Paneer, At Room Temperature
2 Tablespoon Ghee,
1-1/2 Teaspoon Chili Powder,
¼ Teaspoon Turmeric Powder,
¼ Teaspoon Asafoetida (Hing),
1 Teaspoon Ginger, Grated
1 Medium Onion, Finley Chopped
1 Cup Frozen Green Peas,
2 Medium Tomatoes,
2 Teaspoon Tomato Paste,
¾ Cup Heavy Cream, or Whole Milk,
¾ cup Water,
1 Teaspoon Poppy Seeds,
1 Teaspoon Watermelon Seeds, or 2 Teaspoon Cashews,
Salt to Taste
1 Tablespoon Sugar,
1-1/2 Teaspoon Garam Masala,
1/8 Teaspoon Cardamom Powder

Keep the paneer out of the fridge for an hour to bring it to room temperature. Once it becomes soft, grate it using the coarse side of the grater. Keep aside. Cut the tomatoes into big pieces. Soak the poppy seeds and watermelon seeds (or cashews) in three tablespoon water for 10-15 minutes then combine it with tomato pieces and grind to a fine paste.

Heat the ghee in a pan. When it is hot, add the cumin seeds. When the seeds start to crackle, add the asafoetida powder and onions. Turn the heat to medium and cover. Cook until the onions turn translucent. Add the peas and stir and cook for about 3 minutes. Now add the ground tomatoes, and the tomato paste. Cover and cook for 7-8 minutes, or until the ghee starts separating on sides. Now add the cream, water, chili powder, turmeric powder, garam masala and salt. Stir to combine the well. Now add the paneer and stir ones making sure not to break the shreds as much as possible. Cover with a splatter and cook for 8-10 minutes or until the paneer has turned soft and the gravy has thickened. Add the cardamom powder and sugar at this point. Cook for a minute, and then take off the heat. Serve hot with paratha.

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Quinoa Pilaf or Quinoa Upma

Quinoa is a type of edible seed native to South America. It is high in protein, iron fiber and contains a lot of minerals. It is sometimes called “super grain” or “super food”. It can also be substituted for a rice dish, though it imparts a distinct nutty flavor to the dish. You can get Quinoa at any health food store here in the USA.

My husband doesn’t like rice as much, but he can happily have Quinoa with any curry dish.

I am posting a recipe for Quinoa pilaf here. I had this pilaf for the first time at the Iskon Temple here in Wa. Since Quinoa is not considered a grain, they serve this dish here along with other curries for fasts. I liked its taste, and realized that we can cook Quinoa with some Indian spices too. So I decided to try to make it at home.

Here is what you will need for making Quinoa Pilaf (or Quinoa Upma as my friend calls it).
½ Cup Quinoa Seeds,
1.5 Cups Water,
Salt to Taste,
¼ Cup Frozen Green Peas (You Can Also Use Mixed Vegetables),
1 Small Potato, Cut Into 2 Inch Cubes
1 Tomato, Cut into Medium Pieces,
2 Teaspoon Oil,
3 Green Chilis, Slit
½ Teaspoon Grated Ginger, or a ½ Inch Piece Cut into Slices,
½ Teaspoon Mustard Seeds,
½ Teaspoon Cumin Seeds,
¼ Teaspoon Asafoetida,
½ Teaspoon Lemon Juice,
¼ Teaspoon Turmeric Powder,
½ Teaspoon Garam Masala

Wash the seeds twice. Let it drain in a colander or in a strainer for atleast 15-20 minute. Heat the oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds. Once the seeds start crackling, add the slit chilies, cumin seeds and ginger. Cook for a minute or two then add the asafoetida powder. Cook for 30 more seconds.

Lower the heat to medium, and add the peas (or frozen vegetables) potatoes and some salt. If the veggies start sticking to the bottom of the pan, sprinkle some water. Stir once to coat the veggies with the oil and the spices, then cover and cook until the potatoes just start to turn soft. Then add the drained quinoa seeds and stir and roast for about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, water, turmeric powder and the garam masala powder. Turn the heat to medium high and bring to a boil. Once the mixture comes to a boil, turn the heat to low (simmer) and cover and cook for 15 minutes, or until the seeds have absorbed all the water.

Take off the heat, fluff it with a fork, and add the lemon juice. Mix well and serve hot with cold yogurt or any curry on side.

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Fangavela Mag or Sprouted & Stir Fried Mung Beans

Fangavela mag (sprouted mung beans) is a very healthy and popular Gujarati dish, which requires no time to cook once you have sprouted mung beans ready.

To sprout mung beans follow the method below.
1. Soak 1 cup mung beans overnight in two cups of water.
2. The next day, drain the water out into another container. TIP: You can use the saved water in other curries or also to make chapatti dough. The water has nutrients so don’t throw it away.
3. Transfer the mung beans in a flat container or even better… in a strainer. Sometimes, when I use a flat bottom container, I find that the beans on the bottom of the container don’t get sprouts for a long time, so I prefer a strainer myself. Cover and leave for 12 hours.
4. The next day you will see that the beans have swollen up and tiny sprouts have started to form. For the next few days wash and drain the mung beans every 12 hours until the sprouts reach a desired size. The key is to not let the beans dry-out completely.

I usually let the sprouts grow about ½ inch long.

Now for the stir fry, here is what you will need.
2 Cups Sprouted Mung beans
3 Green Chilies, Slit,
½ Teaspoon Ginger, Grated or a 1/4 Inch Piece Cut into Thin Slices,
2 Teaspoon Oil,
¾ Teaspoon Cumin Seeds,
1-1/2 Teaspoon Lemon Juice,
½ Teaspoon Sugar, Optional,
¼ Teaspoon Turmeric Powder,
1/8 Teaspoon Asafoetida,
Salt to Taste

Wash and drain the mung beans once. Heat oil in a pan, when it is hot, add the cumin seeds. When the seeds start spluttering, add the asafoetida, ginger, slit chilies and the turmeric powder. Let it cook for about 30-40 seconds, and then add the mung bean sprouts. Add salt, and stir thoroughly to coat the sprouts with oil and turmeric mixture. Turn the heat to low. Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes stirring occasionally. Sprinkle some water if needed while cooking. Cook until the beans have turned soft but still retained their shape. We do not want the beans to be mushy. Check by pressing a few beans with the help of your forefinger and thumb. You should be able to crush the beans when you apply some pressure.

Turn off the heat. Now add the sugar and lemon juice. Mix thoroughly and serve hot as is.

Serving Tip:
-- This dish can be had as is.
-- You can also serve this with hot rice and kadhi.
-- A friend of mine in college used to bring this in lunch box. She would add finely chopped onions, and tomatoes to add some crunch, and sprinkle some chat masala at the end.

I think this dish tastes great in anyway. Try it with roti, rice-kadhi, paratha, as a chat or just as is, and see how you like it the best.

Sorry for the picture quality. I didn't get a change to take pictures with the camera. So I took this one with my phone while I was at work.

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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Sukha Bhel and Sukha Bhel Chutney

Sukha bhel is one of my favourite street side foods sold in Bombay. Actually when I think of the street side food sold in Bombay, I have to ask myself, which dish do I not like??:). Excluding a dish or two, I think I like all the chaat/rekdi food sold in Bombay, sukha bhel being one of them.

Sukha (dry) bhel, as the name suggests, is the bhel served without (wet) chutneys. The main ingredient which gives this bhel a unique taste is a special dry chtuney used to make this bhel, and my building's bhelwala baiya used to make it the best:). I still miss the sukhabhel I used to get when I was in India. I had been looking for the dry chtuney recipe for such a long time, and atlast I found it on Tarla Dalal's website.

As soon as I saw the recipe, I HAD to try it:). It turned out pretty close to the dry chutney I am used to eating in sukha bhel. Here I am giving you the recipe for making sukha bhel, including the recipe for the sukha chutney.

Sukha Bhel Ingredients:
1 Cup Puffed Rice,
1/4 Cup Fine Sev,
1/4 Teaspoon Black Salt (Sanchal),
1/4 Teaspoon Chaat Masala
2 Tablespoon Roasted and Salted Chana Dal, (I used masala chana dal)
1 Teaspoon Roasted and Salted Peanuts,
1 Tablespoon Chopped Onion,
1 Green Chili, Finley Chopped (Optional)
1/2 Teaspoon Lemon Juice,
1 Teaspoon Sukha Chutney, (Recipe Follows), or to Taste
3 Puris (Used For Sev Puri), Broken into Small Pieces
1 Puri (For Serving/Decoration)

Method for Sukha Bhel:
Combine all of the above ingredients together. Mix well and serve.

Ingredients for Sukha Tikha Chutney (from Tarla Dalal's Website)
1 Cup Mint Leaves, Washed and Patted Dry
1/4 Cup Coriander Leaves, Washed and Patted Dry
1.5 Tablespoon Roasted Chana Daal or Daria, (I used about 2.5 Teaspoon)
2-3 Green Chilies, Chopped, or to Taste ( I used 5)
2 Tablespoon Puffed Rice (Kurmura or Mamra),
Salt to Taste,
A Pinch Turmeric Powder
A Pinch Asafoetida,

Method for Sukha Tikha Chutney
Combine all of the above ingredients and grind to a coarse powder. When ground using a mixer grinder, this should result in a big lump (ball).

Note: I used Tarla Dalal's recipe as a base and modified it to suit my taste. The recipe calls out for 2-3 green chilies, which resulted in a pretty bland chutney for my taste, so I add 2 more chilies. I also added a little more roasted chana dal, because I felt that when I mixed the chutney with the bhel, the lump didn't break down, so it needed to be a bit more drier.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Stuffed Karela

Karela or Bitter Gourd is a vegetable which has many good medicinal properties, but it is disliked by the most because of its bitter taste. Click Here to read about some of its medicinal properties.

Some people coat this vegetable with salt for an hour and drain out the liquid to reduce the bitterness, and some people add gud (jaggery) for the same. I prefer adding jaggery rather than squeezing out all the liquid because, the liquid has a lot of nutritional value.

I am Gujarati, and as you know that all traditional Gujarati dishes have to have jaggery or sugar added to it:), karela is no exception either. I know some people who make this subzi by squeezing out the liquid (removing bitterness and nutrition) AND adding gud (for better taste). I think it is the worst of all the options.

I agree that karela is too bitter to eat without adding a lot of gud to the subzi, but I think, if you can add some other ingredients to the subzi to subside the bitterness, but still retain its nutritional value, it is more beneficial.

Usually, when I make karela, I make it like any other subzis, but last night, I tried a little different method. I made stuffed karela. I had never made this before, and I didn’t have any recipe to follow, so I added the ingredients that I thought might go well with the subzi. Here is how I made it.

5-6 Small Karelas (Bitter Gourd or Bitter Melon),
2 Tablespoon Oil (You can add more oil if you want to make the subzi a bit crunchy)
1 Teaspoon Cumin Seeds
¼ Teaspoon Hing (Asafoetida)

4 Tablespoon Besan (Gram Flour),
2 Tablespoon Coarsely Ground Roasted Peanuts,
2 Teaspoon Jaggery, Shredded or Cut into Very Small Pieces,
1 Tablespoon Sesame Seeds,
Salt to taste
¼ Teaspoon Turmeric,
1.5 Teaspoon Chili Powder, or to Taste,
1.5 Teaspoon Coriander-Cumin Powder,
1/8 Teaspoon Garam Masala

Mix all the stuffing ingredients and keep aside.

Wash the karelas thoroughly and scrape off the skin. Make a lengthwise slit and hollow them out by removing the seeds. Stuff the besan mixture in the karelas and steam them for 20 minutes or until they are tender, but can still hold their shape.

Take out of the steamer and cut them into small pieces (small rounds).

Heat oil in a frying pan; when it is hot, add the cumin seeds. Once the seeds start to crackle, add the asafoetida. Now add about 1/8th cup water to this. Add the steamed and cut karela pieces and stir gently. Cover and cook on low flame for 5-7 minutes. Take off of the stove, and serve hot with roti or paratha.

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Friday, October 15, 2010

Makai ni Khichdi or Makai no Chevdo

Makai ni khichdi or Makai no chevdo as it is know by the most people, is a popular snack in Gujarat, but I had never heard of it until I got married:). It is prepared by cooking fresh corn kernels in milk, along with coconut, coriander and some spices.

I was born and brought up in Bombay. Despite of being Gujarati, I never realized that we (in my family) didn’t make many authentic Gujarati dishes, and had never even heard of them. My MIL makes many authentic Gujarati dishes, which either I hadn’t tasted before, or I had never heard of them before. Makai no chevdo is one of them. They call it chevdo, but to me it looks more like khichdi. This is one of the healthy and tasty Gujarati dishes which everyone should try.

My MIL makes it with yellow corn kernels available here in the USA. I am not sure if they make it with white corn in India. I personally think that the yellow corn version is better, because it is naturally sweet, and no additional sugar is needed in this recipe.

Here is the recipe.
1 Cup Frozen Corn Kernels, Thawed (You can use fresh corn too),
½ Cup Milk,
¼ Cup Water,
Salt to Taste
1 Teaspoon Chili-Ginger Paste (or Per Taste)
¼ Cup Shredded Coconut (Fresh or Frozen),
½ Cup Chopped Cilantro,
1/8 Teaspoon Turmeric Powder, Optional
1 Tablespoon Oil,
¼ Teaspoon Mustard Seeds,
¼ Teaspoon Cumin Seeds,
A Pinch Asafoetida
Lemon Slices, Optional

Pulse the corn kernels in a grinder 2-3 times such that it resembles a coarse mixture. You can leave some kernels unbroken, it is perfectly fine. Just make sure to not make a smooth paste out of the corn.

Heat oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds to it. Once they finish crackling, add the cumin seeds and asafoetida. Wait for 30 seconds, and then add the corn, salt and chili ginger paste. Stir and cook on low heat for 2-3 minutes making sure that the mixture doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Now add the milk, water, cilantro, coconut and the turmeric powder. Turn the heat to medium, cover the pan with a splatter guard and cook the mixture until most of the liquid evaporates. The resulting mixture should have khichdi-like (rice pudding) consistency. I prefer mine a little on drier side, so I cook it a little longer. This is it, your Makai no Chevdo or Makai ni Khichdi is ready to be served.

Serve hot by garnishing with some chopped cilantro and putting some lemon slices on side.

Note: No pictures of this dish. My husband loves it so much that as soon as it is off of the stove and onto a serving plate, it goes into his tummy. Next time, I will remember to take a picture of it before I serving.

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Churma Laddus or Churma na Ladwa(Ladva)

Churma laddu or Churma na ladva is a very famous sweet made from whole wheat flour, ghee and jaggery. We usually make these laddus during Ganesh Chaturthi. This year, I was a bit busy during Ganesh Chaturthi, and never got time to make these laddus, so I made them during navaratri:)

Churma na ladva are made by making a stiff dough out of wheat flour and ghee. This dough is then divided into small portions and deep fried in ghee until crispy. Then it is ground to a coarse powder. This powder is called Churma. Warm ghee and jaggery is added to the churma in order to form ladva.

This was my first time making these laddus, so I was a bit nervous. Ofcourse I didn’t want to fry the flour in ghee, so I took a healthier approach (suggested by my mom). My first trial didn’t turn out very good, so I tried them again the next day, and the result was very good.

Here is the recipe
1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour (Coarse flour if possible)
1/4th Cup Ghee
1/3rd Cup Jaggery (Gud), Grated or Broken into Very Small Pieces
A Pinch Nutmeg Powder
1/4th Cup Milk
1 Tablespoon Khus Khus (Poppy Seeds)
1 Tablespoon Slivered Almonds, Toasted


Melt half of the ghee and add to the flour. Mix well. Now add 3-4 Tablespoon of milk in order to form stiff dough. Add more milk if needed. Cover the dough and keep aside for 10 minutes.

Divide the dough in equal portions and roll out a 4 inch diameter disc. This is called Bhakhari. Heat a tava (non stick pan) at low-medium heat. Cook the bhakhari on both sides until it turns golden brown and crispy. Cook the rest of the bhakhari and allow them to cool. Now break the bhakharis into small pieces and grind them to a coarse powder. This powder is called churma.

Heat the remaining ghee and milk in separate containers. Combine the ground powder (churma), nutmeg powder, almond and jaggery in a plate. Pour the melted ghee over the mixture and mix well. While mixing make sure to break the gud with your hands so that no lumps are formed and the gud gets evenly mixed with the flour. Now add 2-3 tablespoon of the milk and mix well. We are adding milk just to bind the flour so that we can form laddus out of it. After adding a little milk, check and see if you can form round balls out of the flour. If not, add some more milk until you are able to form balls.

Spread the poppy seeds in a plate. Roll the balls in the seeds to coat all sides. Let them cool completely and put them in an airtight container. Store them in refrigerator since it contains milk.

(Pictures to be uploaded shortly:))

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Monday, September 13, 2010

Rava no Sheero or Satanarayan pooja sheera

Rava no sheero/shiro or Satyanarayan pooja sheera is a sweet made with suji, ghee, sugar and milk. During Satyarnaray poojas this sweet is made as an offering to the God. Though the recipe doesn’t require too much ingredients, people say that it takes a lot of trial to get it to a right consistency.

Here is the recipe for making ravo no sheero
1 Cup Suji (Rava)
3/4th Cup Sugar (1:1 is a general rule of thumb for making sweets, but we eat a little less sweet at our house)
3/4th cup + 2 Teaspoons Ghee,
3 Cups milk
2 Teaspoons Golden Raisins, for garnishing
2 Teaspoons Sliced Almonds, for garnishing
1 Pinch Saffron

In a heavy bottom pan, heat the ghee and add the rava to it. Roast it on medium low flame until a light aroma is released and the rava turns light golden brown (12-15 minutes). While the rava is roasting on one stove, boil the milk in another pan and the saffron to it. Once it comes to a boil, reduce the flame to medium and boil for 5-7 more minutes. The quantity of the milk should reduce down from 3 cups to 2.5 cups.

Once the rava is roasted and the milk has thickened a little bit, take the rava off the stove and move it as much away from you as you can. Now add the milk to it. Be very careful while adding the milk as it will splatter everywhere as soon as it comes in touch with the hot rava. Stir and mix well and return to the stove on medium heat. The milk will be absorbed by the rava within a minute or two adding it to the rava.

Now add half the sugar to this mixture. Stir and mix together making sure no sugar sticks to the bottom of the pan. Once the sugar gets incorporated, add the rest of the sugar to it. Stir and mix continuously until it dissolves completely and the mixture starts to come together looking like a big lump. At this point, add most of the raisins and almonds to it. Mix well and take off the flame. Garnish with the rest of the raisins and almonds. Serve hot.

Note: This is my mom’s recipe. While making the sheera at home, I used a little less than 3/4th cups of ghee. I must say that it didn’t change the taste much, but the texture of the sheera was a little drier than what I am used to. I would recommend using the same amount of ghee mentioned in this recipe to get a good texture of the sheera.

PS: Sorry no picture of the sheera:(
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Thepla is a very popular Gujarati bread (roti). Theplas can be made by adding methi (fenugreek) leaves and/or Dudhi (bottle gourd, or lauki) to the flour. I am giving a base recipe for making thepla. If you wish, you can add 1/2 cup chopped methi leaves, or 1/2 cup grated dudhi to this recipe to suit your taste.

Here is the recipe for making theplas
2 Cups whole wheat flour
2 Tablespoon whole wheat flour, for dusting
Salt to Taste
1 Teaspoon Chili Powder
1/4th Teaspoon Turmeric Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Sugar, Optional (I don't add it)
2 Tablespoon Yogurt
2 Tablespoon Oil
Water Required to make Daugh
Oil as Required to Roast the Theplas

Method: Combine all dry ingredients in a deep flat bottom plate. Then add the oil and yogurt to the dry ingredients and mix well. Now a little water at a time until all ingredients are combined together to make dough. Apply some oil on the palms of your hands and knead the dough for a minute of two. Cover with another container and keep aside for 10-15 minutes.


Make ping pong size balls from the dough. Flatten the ball by pressing it using your palms. Roll the pressed ball in the whole wheat flour such that it is lightly covered by the flour. Roll it to a 2.5 inch diameter disc. Now dust the wheat flour on both sides of this disc and roll it to 4-5 inch diameter disc.

Place a griddle on the stove. Once it turns hot, turn the heat to medium high and place the thepla on it. Let it cook for about a minute, or until tiny bubbles start to appear on the top surface of the thepla. Flip it to the other side and apply ½-1 teaspoon oil to the cooked surface. Increase the heat a little bit. Flip again such that the side with oil faces down. Apply oil to the top surface. Press the thepla very lightly with the help of a flat spatula. Once both sides get cooked and turn golden brown, remove from the heat and put in a partly covered container so that the heat can escape but the thepla doesn’t turn chewy. Repeat the same process of the rest of the theplas. Serve hot or cold. I personally like it cold, so I cook it the night before and have it for my lunch the next day:)

Since thepla is prepared by adding spices to the flour, it can be had as is, with tea, or pickle, and also with any Gujarati subzi. I prefer it with pickle or with dry potato subzi. Sometimes I apply ghee (unsalted butter) to the cold thepla, sprinkle some chaat masala/Jiralu, roll it and have it as a quick and healthy snack. It tastes great. You should definitely try it if you have any left over theplas.

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Cooking with Microwave: Kanda Poha or Batata Poha

Batata poha or kanda poha is one of the easy and healthy Indian snacks that you can make in less than 30 minutes or in less than 10 minutes if you are using your microwave to make it.

As you all know, my kitchen is not very much functional these days since we are remodeling it. There is no sink, no stove, and no counter top, which leaves me only with a microwave which is temporarily moved to my entertainment room. It’s been about a month since I cooked something at home. I have been eating out or getting ready made tiffin, which makes me crave for some healthy and warm homemade food.

Usually on weekends, we try to make fresh and warm breakfast at home and enjoy our morning, which hasn’t been happening in a long time now. So this Saturday, I thought of making kanda poha in the microwave. I didn’t have potatoes at home, so I cooked kanda poha. You can add potatoes cut into small pieces in the recipe and convert it to batata poha.

Kanda poha is a Maharashtrian dish which is a slight variation of the Gujarati style batata poha.

Here is what you will need to make kanda poha in microwave.

2 Cups Poha, Flattend rice
½ Cup Onion, Finley Chopped
3-4 Green Chilies, Finley Chopped
1/4th Cup Frozen Peas
1/4th Cup Frozen Corn Kernels
1 Teaspoon Sugar, or to Taste
1 Teaspoon Lemon Juice, or to Taste
Salt to Taste
½ Teaspoon Turmeric Powder
2 Teaspoon Oil,
½ Teaspoon Mustard Seeds
½ Teaspoon Cumin Seeds

Wash the poha under running water until water runs almost clean. Soak for 10 minutes it in a flat bottom vessel with just barely water to cover the poha . You don’t want to add too much water, or the poha will turn very soggy and mushy.

While the poha is absorbing the water, take a microwave safe bowl, glass preferable, and the corn and peas and enough water. Cook for 2-3 minutes until both the peas and the corn are almost cooked. The cooking time may vary for your microwave. Take it out, and keep aside. Do not drain the water yet. The hot water will allow it to cook further even after you take it out of the microwave.

Now in big microwave safe container, glass preferable again, add the oil, mustard seeds, and cumin seeds and cook for 1 minute. Now add the onion, chili and the turmeric powder to it. Cook for another 2-3 minutes or until the onion turns translucent.

Drain the water from corn and peas, and add them to the onion mixture. Drain the water from the poha. Add the salt, sugar and lemon to the poha and mix with light hands making sure not to break the poha. Add the poha to the onion mixture and mix well. Put it back in the microwave and cook for another minute to heat the poha thoroughly. Depending on your microwave, you might have to head it for 30 more seconds or so. 1 minute worked fine for me.
Take out of the microwave, and serve hot topped with thin sev with hot chai on side. I didn’t have sev at home, so I had it as is.

Note: If you are adding potatoes, add them before adding onions to the oil. Cook them for 3-4 minutes, or until tender, then add the onions and follow the rest of the steps.

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Cooking with Microwave: Sev Mamra or Kurmura

This is yet another addition to my cooking with microwave series. There are still 2 more weeks remaining for my kitchen to be fully functional.
Sev-mamra is one of my favorite snacks. I love to have it with chai. It is a non fried, crunchy and salty mixture of mildly spiced puffed rice. We keep sev mamra mixture at our house year around. It is also called murmura, mudi or kurmura in some other Indian languages.
I think each house/family has their own version of the sev mamra mixture. You can add/remove many ingredients to make it taste the way you like it.

Here is how I made sev mamra mixture at home using the microwave.
2 Teaspoon Ghee or Oil, (I used Ghee as I couldn’t find oil in the packed boxes:))
½ Cup Peanuts
½ Cup Roasted Split Gram (Daria Daal)
Salt to Taste
1/2 Teaspoon Chili Powder, Or to Taste
½ Teaspoon Turmeric Powder
500 Grams Mamra (Puffed Rice)
2.5 Cups Thin Sev
1 Teaspoon Sugar, Optional (I don’t use it)
4-5 Roasted Papad, Broken into Tiny Pieces, Optional
½ Cup Puri Used for Making Sev Puri, Broken into Tiny Pieces, Optional
1 Cup Namkin Mixture, eg. Khatta Mitha or Cashew Mixture by Haldiram, Optional

In a small microwave safe bowl, add the ghee and the peanuts, and cook for a minute. Take out of the microwave, add the roasted split gram and stir. Cook for another minute or until the peanuts and split gram turn crunchy. Make sure not to burn it. Start with 1 minute, and go with 30 seconds increments until the peanuts and daria are almost roasted. Take out of the microwave, and add the salt, turmeric powder and chili powder. Stir and mix well and cook for 30 more seconds. Take out and set it aside. Now in a big microwave safe container combine the mamra with the peanut mixture. Stir and mix well so that most of the mamra is coated with the spice mixture. Transfer the bowl to the microwave and cook for 40-50 seconds, or until the mamra turns crunchy.
Take this mixture out of the microwave and add sugar when the mamra is still warm. Mix thoroughly. Now add the sev, papad, puri spicy mixture etc. and mix well. Let it cool completely before storing it in an airtight container.
You can serve this mixture as is with hot chai.
You can also add chopped onion, tomatoes, green chili and some lemon juice before serving. This mixture can also be used as a base for making bhel puri.

Note: As said earlier, you can add/remove as many ingredients as you like to make it taste the way you want it. My neighbors add broken khakhra pieces. I also have seen some people adding fried or roasted corn flakes. Some people add fried poha (flattened rice). Sometimes I add roasted soy beans to give it an additional crunch. I also add leftover namkins to this mixture to give it a different taste.

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Cooking with Microwave: Plain Rice

As mentioned in the previous post we are remodeling our kitchen. All the appliances are disassembled and moved out for adding tiles on the floor and painting the walls.

I have been eating out everyday for the past few weeks. Sometimes, I have some leftover from the previous night’s dinner and don’t feel like wasting it, so I decided to cook rice in the microwave.
I usually keep the use of the microwave to a minimum i.e. to warm up food, but lately since I can’t use the stove at all, I have started using microwave for some dishes.

Here is my attempt at cooking rice in microwave. I actually cooked the rice at work, because I didn’t have time to cook it at home before I left for work.

You will need a microwave safe bowl, preferably a glass bowl to cook rice in the microwave. The quantity of the rice to water is 1:2. i.e. 1 part rice to two parts plus a little extra water.

½ Cup Rice
1 Cup + 2 Tablespoon Water
Salt to Taste (Optional, I didn’t add it)

Take out the rice in a microwave safe bowl. Make sure to use deep enough bowl because the water will rice while the rice is getting cooked. If the container is not deep enough than the water will flow out of the container, and there won’t be enough water for the rice to get cooked. Wash it 2-3 times until the water runs clear. Add 1 cup + 2 tablespoon water to the rice and set aside for about 10 minutes.

Add salt, and cook uncovered for 9 minutes. The microwave here at my work has power settings, so I set the power to 8, and cooked the rice for 9minutes. The cooking time might differ per your microwave’s power settings. Once the rice gets cooked, open the microwave and immediately cover the container with a loose lid. Close the microwave door and let the rice sit for the next 10 minutes. This way the rice will get cooked uniformly. Take off the lid after 10 minutes, fluff up the rice with the help of a fork and serve hot.

A few things to keep in mind while cooking rice in the microwave
-- No need to cover the rice while cooking. If you absolutely want to put a lid on, DO NOT shut the lid tight on the container. Heat might build up in the container and it might explode.
-- Do not stir the rice while it is getting cooked.
-- Once it is cooked, cover with a lid and let it sit for 10 minutes

PS: These pictures were taken at work using my cell phone, so they are not as clear as I would like them to be, but hopefully they are good enough for the illustration purpose.

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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Cooking with Microwave: Khatta Dhokla or Safed Dhokla

I haven’t been blogging lately, because I haven’t been cooking anything!!. We are remodeling our kitchen. We are replacing the current wooden floor with tiles, changing cabinets, adding back splash etc etc, so no more cooking for one more month.

There are many things I want to make at home and eat, but I guess all I can do is wait for the kitchen work to be finished. I have been craving all fermented things I can make because the weather here is hot, which is perfect for fermenting food overnight. I want to make Khatta dhokla (safed dhokla), handvo, idly, dosa etc, which all require the batter to be fermented overnight.

Since we don’t use microwave to cook anything in our house, it didn’t occur to me until this morning that I can make dhokla, Poha Chivda, Sev Mamara (Puffed rice with spicy fried noodles made from gram flour) etc.

The first dish I will try is Khatta dhokla. I am going to soak the rice/daals tonight. Grind it tomorrow morning, and let it ferment for the whole day tomorrow (and also the whole night if needed), so that I can have dhoklas the day after.

This will be the first time I will be making dhoklas in microwave, so I am a little bit nervous. I am not sure if they will come out as moist and fluffy was when I make them by steaming them.

I will update the post once I make them. Wish me good luck!!:)

An update

Ok, so first, a little clarification. Usually, when I make dhoklas, I combine coarse rice flour (cream of rice) with coarse urad dal flour, add curd and water to it, and let it ferment.

Since, the kitchen is being remodeled, and everything has been packed away in cartons, I bought rice and urad dal from the store, soaked them overnight, ground them the next day, and added water and curd to let it ferment.

The rice to daal proportion is 2:1. i.e. for every two cups rice, combine 1 cup daal.

The yogurt used for making the batter should be sour. I take the required amount the yogurt out of the fridge in the morning before I leave for my work. In the evening, when I combine the rice and daal flour/whole rice and daal to grind, I add the sour yogurt to it.

1 Cup Rice, or Coarse Rice Flour (Cream of Rice)
½ cup Urad Daal, or Coarse Urad Daal Flour
2 Tablespoons Sour Yogurt (Taken out of the fridge for atleast 6 hours)
Salt to taste
½ Teaspoon Ginger Chili Paste
½ Teaspoon Eno Fruit Salt
A Pinch Red Chili Powder, or Black Pepper Powder, Optional

If you are using cream of rice and coarse urad daal flour, combine 1 cup rice and ½ cup urad daal flour in a container. Mix well. Add 2 tablespoon of sour yogurt and ½ cup water to this mixture. Mix with hands to make sure that no lumps form. Depending on the brand of the cream of rice you use, you might require more or less water. The consistency of the batter should be thick, but pourable. Cover and let it ferment. In the mild Seattle weather, it takes 24 hours to ferment.

Alternatively, if you are using whole rice and daal, take 1 cup rice and ½ cup urad daal. Wash it clean, and soak overnight with enough water. The next day, grind the rice and daal together to a slightly coarse paste. Use as little water as you can while grinding, to get a coarse paste. Add 2 tablespoons of sour yogurt and ½ cup water to this paste. Again, depending on the type of the rice you use, the quantity of water required might change. The paste should be thick but pourable. It took 24 hours to ferment.

For making the dhoklas in microwave, take a flat microwave safe container, preferably glass. I used an 8in x 8in Pyrex glass baking pan. Grease the pan and set aside.

Add the chili ginger paste, and salt to the batter and stir well. Mix 1/4th teaspoon Eno fruit salt and 2 tablespoon water in a container. Add two big ladles full of the batter to the Eno mixture and stir. Immediately pour the batter in the glass container. Make sure you leave some room in the glass container for the dhoklas to rise. Sprinkle some red chili powder or black pepper powder on the batter. Microwave for 10 minutes, then check for doneness by inserting a knife. If the knife comes out clean the dhoklas are done. Close the microwave door and let it sit for 2 minutes.

Take out, cut into desired size pieces and serve with green chutney.

Alternatively if you want to steam the dhokla, follow the same steps. Instead of microwaving the batter pour it into a steaming tray and steam for 10-15 minutes. Let it cool, cut into desired size pieces and serve hot with green chutney.

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Vaati Daal na Khaman

Dhokla is a very famous Gujarati snack. There are many types of Dhokla people make e.g. Khatta Dhokla or Nylon Khaman (as it is called in Bombay), Khaman Dhokla, Vaati daal na Khaman, Corn Dhokla, Mag ni Daal na Dhokla etc etc.

I like almost all types of dhokla, except Nylon Khaman, or Khaman Dhokla. I know I am one of the very few people who don’t like Khaman Dhokla.

But I like vaati daal na Khaman, which are a cousin of the regular khaman dhokli (Nylon Khaman). Vaati (or Vateli) daal means ground lentil.

Here is the recipe for making vati daal na khaman:
1 Cup Chana Daal, Soaked For 3-4 Hours,
Water as Required to Grind the Daal
½ Cup Yogurt,
Salt to Taste,
1 Teaspoon Chili Ginger Paste,
1 Teaspoon Eno Fruit Salt,
1 Teaspoon Sugar, Optional (I don’t add it)
1/8th Teaspoon Turmeric Powder,

3 Teaspoon Oil,
1 Teaspoon Mustard Seeds,
1 Teaspoon Cumin Seeds,
1 Teaspoon Sesame Seeds
1 Chili, Cut into Small Pieces,
2 Whole Dried Red Chilies, Cut into 2 Pieces Each

Drain the water from the daal and keep aside. If you are using cold yogurt from the fridge, take it out in a bowl and microwave for 20-25 seconds so that it gets warm. Add the yogurt to the daal and grind it to a coarse batter. Add a little water if necessary. The batter should have a consistency of pancake batter. If you are using sugar, add it now. Cover and leave it in a warm place to ferment overnight or atleast for 6-8 hours.

The next day, add salt, turmeric podwer and chili ginger paste to the batter and mix well. Place a dhokla steamer on the stove. Just before pouring the batter into the container, add the Eno fruit salt and mix well. Pour the batter into the container. The batter should cover about 1 inch of the side walls of the container. Place the container in the steamer, and steam for 15-20 minutes, or until a knife when inserted in center, comes out clean.

If you don’t have a dhokla steamer, you can use a pressure cooker. Just make sure to remove the whistle from the lid.

I don’t have a dhokla steamer. Here is how I steam dhoklas. I have a deep bottom steel vessel that has holes in the bottom (more like a strainer). I use fill up a deep kadai (a deep pan) half way though with water. Then I place the steel strainer over the kadai, just making sure that the bottom of the strainer doesn’t touch water. I place the dhokla batter in a steel container, or a thali (a deep dish) and place the thali in the strainer and cover the strainer with a lid. I put the whole assembly on the stove and start boiling water and cook it just like any other dhokla steamer. In 15-20 minutes, hot and fluffy dhoklas will be ready.

For Tempering:
Heat the oil in a pan. When it’s hot, add the mustard seeds. When the seeds stop spluttering, add the cumin seeds, sesame seeds, green chili and whole red chilies. Cook for a minute or two and then take off of the stove. Spread the tempering over the dhoklas and let the dhoklas cool. When it cools down, cut into small pieces and enjoy with green chutney and sev. The picture here shows how it is served in Bombay, i.e. with onion and green chili.

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Pudina Chhas or Masala Chhas

Pudina Chhas or Salted Lassi, as it is called in the Indian restaurants here in the USA, is a refreshing drink made with yogurt/buttermilk. It is a must in summer times in India.

I still remember my college days, when I used to walk from my college to the train station, which was about 25-30 minutes walk. There was a “rekdiwala” (stall), at the station who used to sell fresh, cold pudina chhas or masala chhas, and plain chhas for Rs. 2.00 a glass.

You may who it feels when you walk in the heat of the sun for 30 minutes, with heavy books on your back, and a T-Square/drafter in your hands. Just before entering the station, I used to buy masala chhas. The cold chhas used to quench my thirst, and make me feel fresh again.

Here is the recipe for thirst quenching, refreshing and good for you pudina chhas.

1-1/2 Cups Yogurt
1 Green Chili (or Per Taste)
½ Teaspoon Ginger, Grated
Sea Salt, to Taste
1 Teaspoon Roasted Cumin Seeds, Ground to Fine Powder
1 Teaspoon Dry Mint Leaves, Crushed, or 2-3 Fresh Mint Leaves
2-3 Mint Leaves, For Garnishing
Ice Cubes

Method: Grind the mint leaves, green chili, ginger and sea salt to a coarse paste. Blend the ground ingredients with yogurt. Add the cumin seed powder and 4 cups cold of water. Blend one more time. Pour the chhas in four glasses, add the ice cubes, and garnish with fresh mint leaves.

Enjoy the ever refreshing Pudina chhas or masala chhas.

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Bombay Masala Pav

Masala pav is a street side snack sold along with Pav bhaji in Bombay. It basically uses some of the vegetables from pav bhaji, but the only difference is that the vegetables are whole and not mashed. The pavs (Indian bread) are served topped with this mixture, or sometimes, it is cut into pieces, and mixed with the vegetable mixture.
Here is the recipe for making masala pav

2 Indian ladi pav or Dinner rolls,
Salt to Taste,
1 Small Onion, Finley Chopped,
1 Tomato, Finley Chopped,
1 Small Bell Pepper (Green), Finley Chopped,
1/2 Teaspoon Ginger Garlic Paste,
1/4th Teaspoon Black Salt,
3/4th Teaspoon Pav Bhaji Masala,
2 Teaspoon Amul Butter, or Salted Butter,
Additional Butter to Roast the Pavs (Bread),
1 Teaspoon Red Chili Powder, or To Taste
½ Teaspoon Chaat Masala
1 Teaspoon Lemon Juice
2 Teaspoon Coriander (Cilantro), Chopped

In a kadai (pan), heat the butter. When the butter starts melting, reduce the flame to medium and add the onions and salt. Cook until they turn translucent. Now add the bell pepper. Cook until the pepper turns tender, but not mushy. Then add the tomatoes, and the rest of the ingredients except the lemon juice and the chopped coriander. Cook until the tomatoes are completely cooked, and their liquid is released.  At the end, add lemon juice. Stir and mix well. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

Make a horizontal slit on the dinner rolls 3/4th ways through. Heat up a shallow non stick pan. Spread some butter on the bottom of the pan. Open up the slit bread, lay it on the spread butter, split side down. Let it cook for 30 seconds, then flip. The bread should be completely coated with butter on both sides.

To serve: There are two ways to serve this.

1. Whole bread: Heat up the veggie gravy. Open up the hot bread, and place it on a serving dish. Now place a ladle full of the veggi mixture on one side of the bread, and cover it up with the other side. Place some more veggie mixture on the bread. Garnish with the chopped cilantro and serve piping hot.

2. Bread cut into pieces: Cut the roasted bread into small pieces. Heat up the veggie mixture; add the bread pieces in the mixture. Stir well to combine all ingredients together. Garnish with cilantro and serve hot.

I prefer the first method, because most of the places where I have had masala pav, served them in sliced pavs. Some people prefer the second method, I think because it is easy to eat cut bread pieces, then cutting sliced bread filled with masala.

Enjoy hot Bombay Masala Pav.

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Hare chane ki chaat or Kabuli chane ki chaat

Hare Chane ki chaat is one of my favourite snacks, because it’s healthy, can be made in no time once the chana is boiled, and it requires very few ingredients.

We don’t get fresh green chana here, and I don’t like to use frozen food as much, so I substitute the green chana with kala chana (kabuli chana). Green chana is basically unripe version of kala chana, so doesn’t matter which chana you use, the chaat tastes almost the same.

We get this chaat in Bombay, I am not sure if you get the same thing anywhere else. Everytime I went to Juhu Beach or Chowpaty Beach, since I was a kid (till I was in college when I left India), I used to look for these chaat walas who used to carry a small “torki” filled with hara chana. A dabba (metal container) filled with hot coal would be kept in the center of the pile of the chana to keep them hot.

They will prepare the chat in front of you by adding chat masala, tomato and onion, and give it to you in cone made out of magazine papers. A hard cardboard type paper, cut in a small square would be given to use as a spoon. Sounds weird right? But it was a lot of fun having the chat while walking on the sea shore. I miss those days:(

Here is the recipe for making hara chana (or Kabuli chana) chaat.

1 Cup Frozen Hara (Green) Chana, or 1 Cup Kabuli Chana, boiled with salt
2-3 Green Chilies, Cut into Small Pieces
1 Tomatoes, Cut into Small Pieces
1/4th Small Onion, Cut into small pieces
½ Teaspoon Chaat Masala, or to Taste
Salt to Taste
1-1/2 Teaspoon Lemon Juice, or to Taste


If you are using frozen Green chana, then thaw it first. Then, add the chana in a bowl, and cook on low flame for 5-7 minutes, to thoroughly heat up the chana.

Then in a serving bowl, add the chana, salt, tomato, onion, green chilies, chaat masala, and lemon juice and combine well. Taste it first. Add more chilis, chaat masala or lemon juice if needed and serve hot.

If you are using Kabuli chana, then soak the chana overnight. The next day, put the chana in container, with very little or no water. Add salt and mix well. Put this container in the pressure cooker, and cook for 4-5 whistles, or until done.

Let the cooker cool down. Take out the chana in a serving bowl. While the chana is still hot, add all the ingredients listed above, except the salt salt, and combine well. Taste it first. Add more chilis, chaat masala or lemon juice if needed and serve hot.

Note: All ingredients in this chaat can be adjusted per your taste.

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Monday, June 14, 2010

Sevai Upma or Vermicelli Upma


1 Cup Vermicelli,
2.5 Cups Water,
Salt to Taste,
2 Slit Green Chilies, Or to Taste
½ Teaspoon Ginger, Grated,
1 Medium Onion, Finely Chopped
½ Cup Mixed Veggies (I Used Frozen Mix)
1 Bell Pepper, Chopped (Optional)
1 Medium Tomato, Finely Chopped
2 Teaspoon Oil
½ Teaspoon Mustard Seeds
½ Teaspoon Cumin Seeds
½ Teaspoon Chana Daal
3-4 Curry Leaves
A Pinch Asafoetida
½ Teaspoon Garam Masala of Your Choice (Optional)
½ Teaspoon Turmeric Powder
1 Teaspoon Lemon Juice, or to Taste
Dry roast the vermicelli on a non stick pan for about 7-10 minutes, or until it turns golden brown. Keep aside to cool.

In a pan, heat the oil. When hot, add the mustard seeds, green chilies, curry leaves and chana daal. When the seeds start spluttering, add the cumin seeds and asafoetida and cover immediately with a lid. Let it cook for a minute, and then add the chopped onion and bell peppers and some salt. Stir and cook until the onion turns transparent. Then add the mix vegetables, tomato, garam masala, and turmeric powder. Stir and cook for 2-3 minutes. Now add water and cover with a lid. Bring it to a boil and cook until the veggies are done. Now add a little vermicelli at a time, stirring continuously and making sure that it doesn’t stick to the bottom. When you are done adding all the vermicelli, stir once and let it cook uncovered. Cook until all the water is absorbed or evaporated. Take off of the flame and add the lemon juice. Stir well and serve hot with cold yogurt.

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Friday, June 11, 2010

Mirchi Ka Salan

Mirchi Ka Salan is a Hydrabadi dish. It is a preparation of hot peppers cooked in a spicy peanut sesame seeds based gravy. You can use the green chili of your choice. Each ingredient including the peppers in this dish is dry roasted to give it a unique flavor. Traditionally in India, its made with big hot green chilies. Here you can use, Jalapeno or Serrano if you like it very hot, or bell peppers, if you like it mild or medium. I had a lot of belle peppers at home, so that is what I used to make the Salan. Depending on the type of chili you use, the quantity to use will vary. For eg. I used 3 Bell Peppers, but if you are using Jalapeno or Serrano peppers, you might want to use 6-8 (to make up for the quantity in Gravy)

Here is the recipe for making Mirchi ka Salan.

3 Bell Peppers, Cut into 1 Inch Big Pieces
2 Tablespoon Oil
2 Teaspoon Mustard Seeds
2 Teaspoon Cumin Seeds
1/4th Teaspoon Tamarind Pulp (I used Lemon Juice Instead)
2 Teaspoon Sugar
2 Cloves Garlic
3-4 Curry Leaves
A Pinch Asafoetida
A 2 Inch Piece of Ginger
1/4th Cup Sesame Seeds
1/4th Cup Peanutes

2 1 Inch Sticks of Cinnamon,
2 Bay leaves
5-6 Dry Red Chilies
2 Cloves
2 Tablespoon Coriander Seeds
2 Tablespoon Cumin Seeds

In a small non stick pan dry roast all the masala at low flame for 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown. Let it cool.

In a separate non stick pan, dry roast the peanuts and sesame seeds on low flame for 10-15 minutes until the seeds are golden brown. Let it cool.

Once all the dry roasted ingredients have cooled completely, combine them together, add the ginger and garlic and grind to a paste with the help of some water.

Heat the oil in a pan, when hot, add the mustard seeds. When the seeds start spluttering, add the cumin seeds, curry leaves and asafoetida. Cook for a minute, and then add the prepared paste. Add water to get the required consistency of the curry. I like thick curries so I added only ½ cup water. Cook at medium low heat.

While the curry is cooking, heat a non stick pan and roast the bell peppers (you don’t need to add any oil). Keep the heat to medium high and stir continuously. Cook until the peppers start to char. Make sure not to burn them. You want golden brown color on their skin.

Add the charred peppers and sugar to the curry and turn the heat to medium high. Cook for 10 minutes, or until the peppers are cooked completely. Take off the heat, and add 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Mix well and serve hot with rice or paratha.

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Capsicum and Corn Pulao

I had two capsicums (Bell Peppers) left after making Mirchi ka Salan the other day, so I thought of using them in pulao. I also added some frozen corn in the pulao to get some added color. Here is the recipe for Capsicum Corn Pulao.


For the Rice:
2 Cups Rice
Salt to Taste
4 Cups Water

For the Vegetables:
2 Teaspoon Ghee or Unsalted Butter
2 Pinches Asafoetida
2 Cloves
2 Green Cardamom Pods, Optional
1 Teaspoon Mustard Seeds
1 Teaspoon Cumin Seeds
2 Bay Leaves, Optional
3-4 Curry Leaves
2 Chili Peppers, Slit Length Wise
2 Bell Peppers, Cut into Small pieces (You Can Mix Up Different Colored Peppers For More Color)
1 Cup Frozen Corn Kernels
2 Teaspoon Biriyani Pulao Masala (Or any other Garam Masala you like)


For the Rice:
I used rice cooker, so I just put the rice in the cooker, and added the required amount of water for 2 cups, which is marked on the cooker. If you are making the rice in a pan, then combine 2 cups rice with 4 cups water. Cook it at high flame till it comes to a boil. After a boil, turn the heat to low, and cover with a lid. Let it cook for 15-20 minutes. Do not stir the rice while it is cooking. After 15-20 minutes, lift the lid once and check the rice for doneness. If the rice is done, and if there is some more water remaining, then turn on the flame to medium high to burn off the water.

For the vegetables:
While the rice is cooking, heat the ghee in a pan. When it is hot, add the cardamom, coves, slit chilies, bay leaves and the mustard seeds. When the seeds start spluttering, add the cumin seeds, and curry leaves and asafoetida. Cook for a minute, and then add the peppers and the corn kernels and the garam masala. Add some salt per your taste. Stir and cook for 10-15 minutes at medium flame. I like the crunch of peppers, so I didn’t cook them until they were completely soft. You can cook them per your preference.

Once the rice is done and still hot, add the masala vegetables to it, and mix well. Serve hot with chilled boondi raita.

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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

How to root Basil

A few days ago, I bought fresh large leaf organic italian basil from the store. I had never seen the large leaf basil at the store before. As soon as I saw organic basil at the store, I thought of buying it so that I can grow it at home.

In summer, I do see many stores selling potted herbs, but I hardly find organic basil. Growing herbs at home is very easy.

Here is what you need to do to root basil.

Cut the bottom 1-2 centemeter of the stem, so that the new cells get exposed to the air. Remove most of the leaves from the stem, leaving just a few leaves on the top portion. Dip this stem in a flas filled with water. Make sure that the leaves are not in water, or they will decay.

Change the water every few days. After 2-3 weeks, you will notice that the new roots will be growing off of the stem. See the pictures below.

Continue changing the water until the roots grow 3-4 inches tall. Fill a pot with potting soil, make a whole in the center. Place the stem with roots in the hole, and lightly cover with the soil. That is just planted your own organic basil!!!

Note: You can use the same method for growing mint at home too.

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How to Store Fresh Herbs

I sometimes buy big bunches of cilantro, basil or mint from grocery stores. As all of us know, cilantro or basil don't keep fresh for longer time. If you buy a bunch of cilantro from the store, and keep it in the fridge as is, it will start drying(dehydrating) after 3-4 days.

Some people crush the herbs and freeze them in ice cube trays. I usually like to use fresh herb leaves in most of the dishes I cook,so freezing them is not an option for me.To keep the herbs fresh for longer time, heres what you can do.

Take a deep flask, fill it up with 1-2 inches of water. Take the bunch of the herbs you would like to store. Cut the bottom half centemeters of the stems of the herbs so that it can take water in. Put your herbs in the flask such that only the bottom 1-2 inches of the stems are in water. See the image below.

Now, cover it with a plastic bag. Do not shut it tight. The bag will allow to retain the leaves moisture, but it will also allow some air circulation, so that the herbs stay fresh. Put this flask in the fridge. Depending on the type of the herb, you can extend the herbs life from 2-3 weeks.

This mint you see in this picture, has stayed fresh for about a month. I use mint leaves for tea. I just need 1-2 leaves a day. I take it out of the fridge everyday, get the leaves, and cover it back with the bag.

Note: If you see that the water is getting merky afer a few days, change the water and cover the herb with the bag again. Try this method for cilantro. I have stored cilantro in the same way for upto 3 weeks.

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Daal Dhokli - A Gujarati Dish

Daal Dhokli is one of the very famous Gujarati Dishes. This dish is prepared by preparing dhoklis, i.e spicy whole wheat tortilla cut into pieces, and boiling them in a special Gujarati style daal. See below for the recipe.


For Dhokli:
3/4th Cup Whole Wheat Flour + Some for Dusting
Salt to Taste
1 Teaspoon Oil
½ Teaspoon Chili Powder
1/8th Teaspoon Turmeric Powder
Water to Knead Flour

For Daal:
½ Cup Toor Daal
4 Cups Water
Salt to Taste
3 Green Chilies Slit
1 Teaspoon Ginger, Grated
2 Tablespoon Peanuts
2 Kharek (Dried Dates), Optional,
2 Kokum
½ Teaspoon Jaggery (or to taste)
½ Teaspoon Turmeric Powder
1/8th Teaspoon Methi (Fenugreek Seeds)
2 Bay Leaves

2 Teaspoon Ghee or Unsalted Butter
1 Teaspoon Mustard Seeds
½ Teaspoon Cumin Seeds
2 Whole Red Chilies, Broken Into Small Pieces
1 ½ inch Stick Cinnamon, optional
2 Cloves (Lavang), Optional
½ Teaspoon Asafoetida
½ Teaspoon Red Chili Powder

2 Teaspoon Cilantro (Coriander), Chopped
2 Teaspoon Freshly Grated (or Frozen) Coconut


For Dhoklis:
Combine and mix the dry ingredients first. Now add the oil and mix well. Knead dough using water. Cover and set aside for 15 minutes.

Pressure cook the daal with 2 cups of water. Once the daal is cooked, churn it with the help of a hand mixer. Now add the remaining 2 cups of water, and all the ingredient required to make daal. Cook it at medium temperature.

While the daal is getting cooked, divide the dough in 2 equal portions. Dust some flour on a flat surface and roll out the dough to 6-7inches diameter circles. With the help of a cookie cutter, cut the rolled dough into 2-3 inches long pieces. Arrange these pieces in one layer, so that they don’t stick to each other. Cover and set aside.

Once the daal starts boiling, turn the heat to medium high or high and drop a few pieces the dhoklis to the daal. Stir once, making sure that the dhoklis are not sticking to each other or to the bottom of the pan, then add some more dhoklis. Stir and repeat the same process to get all the dhoklis in the daal. Keep stiffing at regular intervals. Make sure not to break dhoklis while stirring. After 15-20 minutes, take out a dhokli, and press to see if it is done. If it feels very sticky, put it back in the pan and let it cook for some more time. Switch off the stove once the dhoklis are cooked thoroughly.

Heat ghee in a kadai or a pan. Once it is hot, add the mustard seeds. Once the seeds stop crackling, lower the flame, and add the cumin seeds, asafetida, cinnamon, cloves, and dried red chilies. Once the cumin seeds start turning brown, turn off the gas and add the red chili powder. Pour the tempering to the cooked daal and cover immediately.

Take out the hot daal dhokli in a bowl; pour ½ teaspoon ghee, garnish with the coconut and coriander and serve hot.

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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Handvo: Spiced Lentil Cake

Handvo is a very healthy Gujarati Snack. It is made with a mixture of lentils and rice, which is allowed to ferment overnight and then baked to soft and fluffy savory cake. Here is the recipe for making handvo.


For Soaking Overnight:
1 Cup White Rice (I used basmati)
1/3rd Cup Urad Daal
1/3rd Cup Toor Daal
1/3rd Cup + 1 Tbsp Chana Daal
1 Teaspoon Fenugreek Seeds (Methi Seeds)

For the Spicy Batter:
1 Medium Size Bottle Gourd, Grated (Any type of gourd will work, some people use cabbage too)
Salt to taste
1 Cup Frozen Mixed Veggies
3 Teaspoon Chili Ginger Paste
2 Teaspoon Sugar
2 Teaspoon Red Chili Powder
1/4th Teaspoon Turmeric Powder
1 Teaspoon Oil from any type of Indian Spicy Pickle, Optional (I use oil from Deep Dabla Keiri Pickle)
1 Teaspoon Eno Fruit Salt

4 Tablespoon Oil
2 Teaspoon Mustard Seeds
1 Teaspoon Cumin Seeds
2 Whole Dried Red Chilies, broken into 2-3 pieces each
2 Tablespoon Sesame Seeds

Clean and wash the lentils and rice, and soak them in 3 cups of water overnight. Make sure that the grains are well covered with water, and there is enough water for them to soak overnight. Add more water if you think that the 3 cups you added are not enough.

The next morning, strain the water, add the fenugreek seeds and grind to a coarse mixture, with the help of some water. The consistency of the mixture should be similar to the pancake batter. Pour this mixture in a deep vessel and make sure there is enough space for the mixture to rise. Cover the container and put this mixture in the oven. Here in Seattle, it is hard to ferment a mixture without the use of some “artificial heat“. So, I leave the oven lights on, while the mixture is in the oven. This provides warm temperature to the mixture and it ferments well. It takes about 16-18 hours to ferment the mixture this way. If you add sour curds to the mixture, it might take a little less time.

The next day, when the batter has fermented, pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Add the grated gourd, salt, veggies, sugar, hot oil, turmeric, chili ginger paste, red chili powder and pickle oil to the lentil mixture. Mix well. Add some water if you feel the batter is too thick. The consistency should be like a pancake batter.

Heat 4 tablespoon of oil in a pan. When the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds and dried red chilies. Once the mustard seeds stop spluttering, lower the flame, and add the cumin seeds and sesame seeds. Turn off the stove once the sesame seeds turn pink. Pour half of the tempering into the batter. Save the other half for garnishing.

Prepare a deep oven safe pan by spraying some non stick spray on the bottom and the sides. Now add Eno fruit salt to the batter, mix well, and immediately pour the batter the pan. Place it on the middle rack of the oven, and bake it for 25-30 minutes or until a knife when inserted in the center of the batter, comes out clean. Now transfer the pan to the top rack and broil no low for 2-3 minutes to get a golden brown crust.

Remove from the oven spread the remaining tempering mixture on the top crust of the handvo. Let it cool completely before cutting to pieces.

Serve with Green Chutney and Sev on side. Some people enjoy it with ketchup. It can also be had with Chai (Indian tea). No matter what you serve it with, it always tastes great!!!

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