Friday, December 30, 2011

Cedar wrapped Salmon on Spaghettini

Tonight's Menu 
Cedar wrapped salmon
Steamed Veges
Wine Pairing:Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Provencal Rose
Cedar Wrapped Salmon

Salmon fillets always taste great even with the simplest marinade. This week I tried grilling the fillets wrapped with pre-soaked cedar grilling paper. This paper infuses a subtle cedar flavor into the food while keeping it moist and tender. I kept the marinade really simple and served it alongside steamed veges and simple pasta. These cedar grilling papers are available in the food stores. They need to be soaked for 10 minutes prior to wrapping the food. These papers come with a raffia twine which can be used to tie the bundles. If they don't come with the twine you can use kitchen twine or for a fancy bundle use green onion or leek greens.

Wrap salmon fillets and place on the grill

Cedar Wrapped Salmon

4 salmon fillets
4 cedar grilling papers
kitchen twine for wrapping
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic grated
1 tsp lime juice
1/4 tsp lime zest
1 tsp dill
  1. Soak the cedar grilling paper for 10 minutes just to make it a little pliable. 
  2. Mix olive oil, lime juice and zest, garlic and dill in a small bowl. 
  3. Season the fish with salt and pepper on both sides and pour the above marinade over the fillets. Let them hang out for 10 minutes while the papers are soaking. 
  4. After 10- 15 minutes, place the fillet face down in the center of the cedar paper parallel to the wood grain and fold the edges. Tie up with the string. 
  5. Place seam side up on a preheated grill 400F and cook for 3-4 minutes per side till done. 
  6. Serve straight on the dinner plate alongside pasta and steamed veges and enjoy.

Spaghettini Pasta
Spaghettini is just like spaghetti, only thinner. Cook according to package directions and serve with any pasta sauce as you like. Click here for my pasta sauce recipe.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Feast

Christmas Feast 
Mustard - Maple glazed Ham
Green Beans and Artichoke Casserole
Duchess Potatoes
Caramelized Pearl onions 
Cranberry sauce
Wine Pairing: Champagne, Sparkling Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon

Mustard-maple glazed ham decorated with black and brown figs, dried apricots and red walnuts. 

Its that time of year again. Excitement and anticipation, fun and celebration, sweet and savory treats. Living in Toronto, you see so much activity around this time of year that you want to be a part of it and have some fun too. My girls get their share of excitement at school with potluck parties, secret Santa gift giving and caroling. But they never think its complete without some special Christmas dinner spread.
Its the traditional glazed ham for us this year with the tang of grainy mustard and the sweetness of Canadian maple flavors all blending together to make a showstopper center piece for the holiday table. Come and join us for this seasons festive dinner.

Merry Christmas from our family to yours.  

Christmas Feast

Mustard Maple Ham

9-10 lb whole fully cooked bone in smoked Ham
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup grainy Dijon mustard
1 tbsp apricot jam
pinch salt
freshly ground black pepper
  1. Remove the skin of the ham and most of the fat leaving 1/4 inch thick layer all over. Score diagonally through fat but not meat to form a diamond pattern. 
  2. Place ham scored side up on the rack of the roasting pan. Roast at 325F for 11/2 hour. 
  3. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat vinegar over medium-high heat until reduced to 1 tablespoons, about 4-5 minutes. Add maple syrup, mustard, jam, and salt; season with pepper. Cook, whisking, until well combined, about 2 minutes. Set glaze aside. 
  4. After an hour and a half remove ham and brush liberally with 1/3 glaze. Return to the oven for 20 minutes. 
  5. Brush with half of the remaining glaze and bake for 15 minutes. Repeat and continue cooking for another 15 -20 minutes till internal temperature registers as 145-150. 
  6. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool for 30 minutes before carving. 
  7. Serve on a large platter decorated with black and brown figs, dried apricots and red walnuts.
Green beans and artichoke casserole (Recipe courtesy Martha Stewart Living)
Green Beans and Artichoke casserole
1 lb green beans trimmed and cut into 2-3 inch length
4 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
3 cloves garlic
2 cups milk
1 can artichoke hearts in water, drained and quartered
6 slices of white bread crusts removed and chopped
  1. In a large pot of salted boiling water cook the green beans 40r 4-5 minutes till they are tender crisp. Drain and keep aside.
  2. In a pan melt 2 tbsp butter. Add garlic and flour and cook for a minute. Remember this is the b├ęchamel sauce, so do not let it brown. 
  3. Gradually whisk in milk and bring to boil. Simmer for about 2-3 minutes till it thickens. Stir in beans and artichoke hearts. Season with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper.
  4. Transfer to a greased baking dish. Toss the bread pieces in remaining 2 tbsp melted butter. Scatter over the beans.
  5. Bake in a preheated oven at 425 F for 10-15 minutes till sauce is bubbly and bread is golden brown.                                  
Duchess potatoes

Duchess Potatoes
4 large potatoes boiled
3 egg yolks
2 tbsp cream
2 tbsp grated Parmesan
salt to taste, pepper
cayenne pepper
  1. Mash potatoes and add everything except cayenne pepper. Mix thoroughly. 
  2. Pipe mixture into swirls over a grease baking tray. Bake at 415F for 20 minutes till golden brown. Sprinkle cayenne pepper over them and serve hot.
Caramelized pearl onions
Pearl Onions

200 gms pearl onions
1 tsp butter
1 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp rosemary
salt to taste, pepper
  1. Heat butter and olive oil in a pan and saute onions on medium high. 
  2. Add the seasoning and rosemary and cook for 2-3 minutes till they acquire a golden brown color.

Cranberry sauce

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Fruitcake

Fruit and Nut Cake

The best part of Christmas is the wonderful goodies that get baked and cooked in the house filling every corner with their comforting aroma and a feeling of warm joy. Every family has its own tradition when it comes to baking and cooking for the holidays. Some recipes are handed down to the next generation while some new ones get created. One such favorite recipe is the Christmas cake.

Christmas cake is an English tradition and is made in a number of different ways, but mainly it is a variation of fruitcake. It can be light or dark, moist or dry, frosted, glazed or dusted with sugar. I love Christmas fruitcake with loads of fruit and nuts, very crumbly, literally falling apart when cut. I usually make it in advance 2-3 weeks prior to Christmas so that there is enough time to soak it in rum. I place the cake upside down in an airtight container and 'feed' the holes with rum every four days till Christmas.

Ingredients: Makes 14-16 servings
2 Cups flour
4 Eggs
1 Cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp honey
1/4 tsp powdered cloves
2 tsp cinnamon powder
pinch salt
1/4 cup sugar for caramel
2 teabags
2 tbsp rum plus more for basting the cake
few drops of pure vanilla essence
2 cups fruit and nuts(raisins, cranberries, dried cherries, candied ginger, orange peel, lemon peel, walnuts, almonds, pecans)
  1. Preheat oven to 300F.
  2. Boil 1/2 cup water and put teabags in it to make a bright orange tea concoction.
  3. Caramel 1/2 cup of sugar. When it caramelizes add tea concoction, honey and rum and keep aside to cool.
  4. Take 1/3 cup flour and mix all the fruits and nuts in it. Keep aside.
  5. Sift the rest of the flour and add baking powder, clove powder, cinnamon powder and salt.
  6. Lightly beat eggs in a bowl and keep aside.
  7. Cream butter and sugar together till they are light and fluffy. Alternately add flour mixture, tea mixture and egg to make a smooth batter.
  8. Add vanilla essence and fold in the fruits and nuts.
  9. Pour the batter in a prepared 8 inch pan or cake tin.
  10. Bake on the middle rack for 45 minutes to an hour till done.Check the center of the cake after 45 minutes with a cake tester. 
  11. Cool completely and place the cake upside down in an air tight container. Pour a tablespoon or two of rum every 4-5 days over the cake to feed it. Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Lamb Curry(lamb korma) with Roomali Roti

Korma is usually made by marinating the meat in yogurt flavored with garlic and other dry spices. This softens the meat and incorporates the flavor deep within. The marinated meat is then cooked with lots of onions, tomato and whole dry spices. Korma can be mild or hot depending on the desired heat level,achieved by addition of green chilies and/or red chilie powder.
Korma can be served with rice, naan or roomali roti. Roomali roti is a thin supple roti folded like a roomal (kerchief) and has roots in the Mughlai cuisine. I  tried making it but didn't come out well. I guess it need more practice and experience. I bought some from the market and its dry texture is a perfect match for the lamb gravy.

Lamb korma with roomali roti
Lamb Curry
2 lbs lamb cut in 1.5 inch cubes
2 red onions chopped fine
1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
3/4 cup tomato crushed
2 green chilies chopped fine.
salt to taste
2 tsp cashew nut powder
1 tbsp oil
3/4 cup plain yogurt
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
1 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp red chili powder
Dry whole spices roughly crushed using mortar and pestle
4 cloves
2 black cardamoms
4 green cardamoms
1 small piece of cinnamon
2 bay leaves
  1. Mix all ingredients of the marinade and marinate lamb pieces for a minimum of 4 hours.
  2. In a large pan heat oil and add the dry whole spices. Let roast for 15 seconds.
  3. Add onions and fry stirring occasionally. When they turn pink add ginger garlic paste and lamb chunks.
  4. Fry till onions become golden brown and lamb browns a bit and acquires some flavor from the spices.
  5. Add tomato and green chilies and cook till oil separates on the sides.
  6. Add the cashew nut powder and cup of water. Transfer the contents to a pressure cooker.
  7. Pressure cook for about 10-15 minutes.
  8. If you are cooking in a pan then add more water and cook covered on low heat for 35-40 minutes till lamb is cooked through.
  9. Adjust the consistency of the gravy by adding boiling water or by boiling off excess.
  10. Garnish with fresh chopped coriander leaves.
  11. Serve with naan or roti and salad.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Pav Bhaji

Pav Bhaji

A popular street food in Mumbai and Delhi, Pav Bhaji literally means buns with vegetables. At any point in time hoards of bombayites crowd along roadside stalls and vendors to chow down spicy fares such as dahi sev , batata vada and pav-bhaji. From Mulund to Malabaar hills, in Chaupati or Juhu Beach, every mohalla and chowk has its own set of vendors with their smoky stoves and aromatic concoctions and the king of this street cuisine is Pav Bhaji.
Thick gravy with potatoes, peas and tomatoes simmered and spiked with a special masala blend, topped with a dollop of butter, coriander, raw onion and lime wedges, served with pav or buns also crisped in butter. The inescapable aroma of this bubbling dish is everywhere on the street. Extremely versatile, every stall and vendor add their own twist to the recipe. The city's premium joints offer options to top it off with extra butter, paneer or dry fruits at an extra cost. Hope you enjoy this taste of Bombay as much as we do here. 

2 large potatoes
2 carrots
1 cup peas
2 green peppers
1 cup cauliflower
2tsp oil
2 large tomatoes chopped
1 red onion chopped fine
3-4 cloves garlic crushed
1 inch ginger grated
3-4 tsp Pav bhaji masala (recipe)
Chili powder
salt to taste
fresh coriander, lime wedges and finely chopped red onion for garnish
butter cubes(optional)
  1. Peel potatoes and carrots and cube them. Chop cauliflower and peppers. Boil all these veges along with peas in a pressure cooker with 1 cup water.
  2. Using a potato masher roughly mash the boiled veges.
  3. In a large pan heat oil and cook onions with ginger and garlic till pink in color. 
  4. Add tomatoes and cook till they soften.
  5. Now add the boiled veges with salt, chilli powder and pav bhaji masala to the pan. Continue sauteing at medium high heat while stirring and mashing with your spatula. This mixture tends to spurt up a lot so make sure you have the lid on when not stirring.
  6. Cook for 15-20 minutes to allow the flavors to blend in well.
  7. Serve with dollops of butter, chopped raw onion mixed with fresh chopped coriander, lime wedges and crusty dinner rolls. Optionally you can pan fry some bread in butter to serve along the bhaji.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Dosa Sambhar

Masala dosa with sambhar and coconut chutney
Continuing with the series of breakfast dishes from southern India, the topic would be incomplete without dosa. Probably one of the most popular fare all over India, dosa is a savoury crepe or pancake made from fermented rice and lentils. It can be had as is with coconut chutney and sambhar or stuffed with any stuffing. The most widely used is the onion-potato stuffing.


3 cups rice flour
1 cup dehusked urad dal soaked overnight
salt to taste
1 tbsp yeast (optional)
oil for frying
For the onion-potato filling
2 tsp oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
pinch asafoetida(hing)
sprig curry leaves
1 tbsp urad dal
1 tbsp chana dal soaked and drained
2 whole dry red chillies
1 large red onion thinly sliced
3 large potatoes boiled and chopped
1/4 tsp turmeric
red chillie powder
salt to taste

Keep batter for rising
  1. Drain dal and gring it to a smooth paste using water. 
  2. Pour this in a large container and add the rice flour to it. 
  3. Add warm water and salt to make a smooth purable batter. 
  4. Cover tightly and leave it in a warm place for 5-8 hours to rise (double its volume). If you live in a cold place (like me) you might need yeast to help rise the batter. 
Make the filling
  1. While the batter is rising make your filling. Heat oil in a pan and add hing and mustard seeds. Let spatter for 30 seconds. 
  2. Add curry leaves, whole red chillies, urad and chana dal. Cook for another 30 seconds before adding onions. Cook while stirring till they turn pink. 
  3. Add chopped potatoes along with all the dry spices. Stir well to blend the flavors together for about 3-5 minutes. Keep aside.
Assemble Dosas
  1. Once the batter has risen, stir the batter lightly (too mush stirring will remove the aie bubbles). 
  2. Heat a flat bottomed non-stick pan to medium high. Add a few drops of oil and spread it all around the pan to grease it. Then sprinkle a few drops of water and wait till water bubbles and evaporates. This ensures that your pan is not too hot and dosas will spread without resistance evenly. This step is necessary for each dosa. 
  3. Pour a large ladle full of batter in the center and spread it in a circular motion to form a circle.
  4. Apply a tsp oil on the surface of the crepe and also on the edges. Continue cooking till you see the thin areas turning brown.
  5. Spread a tablespoon of filling one side and turn the crepe into half.
  6. If you want you can flip and crisp the other side too but its not necessary.
  7. Serve with coconut chutney and sambhar.
Cook till small bubbles appear & edges brown
Flipping is not necessary if dosas are very thin
Dosa stuffed with onion-potato filling

Friday, November 18, 2011

Idli and Sambhar

Mini Idlis
Idli is a savoury fermented steamed dumpling made of rice. Another one of the popular breakfast dishes from southern states of India, idli makes for an excellent lunch in our house. Since the batter is left for several hours in a hot place to rise, these dumplings come out very soft and are easy to digest. These melt - in - your - mouth idlis taste even more amazing with coconut chutney and sambhar. Sometimes they are served with gun-powder mixed with ghee. There are several variations possible such as masala idli where you spice up the batter before cooking, rava idlis where you use suji instead of rice, vegetable idlis where you can add some veges to the batter before steaming. 
To get this disc shape you have to use an idli mould. If you don't have one you can steam the batter in a flat dish and then cut it into squares or wedges. They taste equally delish.

Masala Idli
Masala Idli
Ingredients: (Makes about 28-32)
1 cup Urad Dal dehusked
2 cups Rice suji (rice in very small pieces)
1tbsp instant yeast (optional)
salt to taste
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
sprig of curry leaves
2 tbsp chana Dal (soaked)
2-3 tbsp cashews in small pieces
  • Soak Dal and rice separately overnight.
  • Grind Dal in a wet grinder using minimum amount of water, into a fine paste.
  • Strain soaked rice and add the rice to the Dal paste. Heat the reserved water to lukewarm(not hot) to make a smooth batter of thick pourable consistency (like pancakes). 
  • Add 1 tsp salt and yeast and mix well. If you live in a warm climate then yeast is not needed. In cold areas it helps rise the batter.
  • Cover the container and put it in a warm place for 6-8 hours minimum or overnight if required till the batter rises to double its volume. 
  • To cook the idlis use a deep container and add an inch or two of water in it. Keep it for boiling. 
  • Meanwhile add the rest of the ingredients to the batter and stir it just enough to incorporate these. If you stir too vigorously you stand a risk of removing air bubbles from the risen batter.
  • Spray your mold with some oil and spoon the batter.
  • As soon as the water comes to a boil lower the mold in it and cover the lid. 
  • Cook at a medium high heat for 12-15 minutes till cooked thru. 
  • Let idlis stand for 2 minutes before removing them from the mold. 
  • Serve with coconut chutney, gunpowder and/or sambhar.

1 tsp oil
2 red onions thinly sliced 
1 cup arhar dal washed
4 cups water
salt to taste
1 tsp turmeric powder

2 tbsp sambhar masala (see recipe below or use readymade)
2 inch cube tamarind soaked in 1/2 cup water for 20-30 minutes
Vegetables (optional)
2 chopped tomatoes
10 lady fingers or okra split into two lengthwise
10 green beans split into two
few drumsticks 
3-4 small eggplants quartered
2 tsp oil
3/4 tsp mustard seeds
pinch asafoetida
a sprig of curry leaves
3-5 whole red chillies
  • In a pressure cooker take oil and fry onions till soft and pink. Do not brown.
  • Add dal and water along with salt and turmeric.
  • Pressure cook on high till the whistle, then cook on low for 15 minutes. If not using a pressure cooker then boil till soft.
  • Extract the tamarind pulp and keep aside. 
  • Add the cut vegetables to the cooked dal along with sambhar masala. Cook on medium heat till all the veges are cooked through. 
  • Now add tamarind pulp and boil for a few minutes. During this time add more water if needed and adjust salt. Sambhar should be drinkable consistency.
  • Take away from flame and temper using all the baghar ingredients.
  • Serve steaming hot with idlis, uttapams, dosa or plain rice.
Sambhar Masala
3 tsp Coriander seeds
1 tsp Cumin seeds
1/2 tsp Black peppercorns
3-4 Whole red chillies
pinch Asafoetida
1 tsp Bengal gram 
1/4 tsp Fenugreek seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp dry curry leaves
  • Dry roast all the ingredients till aromatic and brown.
  • Dry grind these to a fine powder.
  • Cool and store in an air tight container.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Uttapam with Coconut Chutney

Uttapam is savoury pancake made with a batter of fermented rice and lentils. It is a popular breakfast dish from southern India and is accompanied by coconut chutney and/or sambhar. In our house we usually make it for lunch. It is quite wholesome with all food groups incorporated in it. There are many variations of uttapam and each is as good as the other. Sometimes I make instant uttapams by just mixing suji (semolina) with yogurt and several veggies into a thick batter. But the actual fermented batter tastes wayyy better, though it requires some planning.
Rava Uttapam
Ingredients: (makes about 8)
1/2 cup urad husked dal (dhuli urad)
3 tbsp plain yogurt 
11/2 cup suji
salt to taste
2 cups altogether (chopped red onion, grated carrots, ginger, fresh chopped coriander and green chilies)
oil for cooking the pancakes
  1. Soak urad dal overnight. Grind into a fine paste in a grinder.
  2. Put this batter in a large bowl and add yogurt, salt and suji to it. 
  3. Using water make a thick batter of pancake like consistency. Cover tightly and keep it in a warm place to ferment for 6-8 hours. During this time the batter will develop bubbles, rise a bit and sour up.
  4. When you are ready to make the pancakes, heat a non-stick pan to medium heat. Keep all the veges chopped and mixed together. Check the consistency of the batter, add water if it has thickened up. 
  5. Spray some oil on the pan, pour a large ladle full of  batter in the center of the pan and using the back of the ladle spread it in a circular motion to shape it into a round pancake. 
  6. Spray some more oil on top of the uttapam. While the bottom is cooking, spread about 3-4 tbsp of the onion mixture on the top of the pancake.
  7. When you see small bubbles appearing on top, carefully turn the pancake over using a wide spatula. Cook on the other side for about a minute.
  8. Serve hot with coconut chutney and/or sambhar.
Coconut chutney

Coconut Chutney
Ingredients: (a big bowl full)
1/2 fresh coconut grated
2 tbsp roasted chana dal
2 green chilies
salt to taste
1-2 tsp lime juice 
2 tbsp plain yogurt(optional)
2 tsp mustard seeds
a sprig of curry leaves
1 tbsp oil
pinch asafoetida. 
  1. Grind coconut, chana dal and green chilies well using water. Keep a thick consistency. 
  2. Add salt and lime juice and yogurt if using. 
  3. Heat oil in a small pan, add asafoetida, and mustard seeds. Cover and let crackle for 10 seconds. Take away from heat and add the curry leaves. Add this tempering to the coconut batter. 
  4. Chill before serving. Keeps in the refrigerator for a week.
Uttapam with Sambhar
Uttapam can be served with sambhar and coconut chutney for a fuller heavier meal. For sambhar recipe, tune in next week.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Papri Chaat

Scrumptious and delicious Bhalla papri chaat

Another one of the popular street food which combines very well with gol gappe is papri chaat. Cold and spicy with a blend of sweet, salty and sour goodness this satisfies to the core specially on a warm day. 
Papri chaat combines flavors and textures which give a unique taste in the mouth. The softness of the bhalla, crisp saltiness of the papri, silky texture of boiled potato and bite in the chickpeas are all put together with flavored yogurt and sweet and sour chutneys. Just assemble all the ingredients together and then create individual servings just before eating. Cannot assemble this dish in advance as the yogurt and chutneys will soften up the papri and make it soggy.

Papri Chaat
Ingredients:(serves 4)
8 bhalle or bade soaked in water and drained
24 papris
2 boiled potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup boiled and drained chickpeas
2 cups of salted spiced yogurt
2 tsp ground roasted cumin
2 tsp red chilli powder
fresh coriander leaves
1 green chilli chopped (optional)
1 inch ginger cut in long thin strips (optional)
handful of fresh pomegranate seeds (optional)
  • Just before serving take a small serving plate and lay 2 bhalle and 6 papris on it randomly. Top with a bunch of boiled potatoes and chickpeas.
  • Generously pour spiced yogurt on top of everything covering them all (about 1/2 cup).
  • Sprinkle pinch of cumin powder and red chilli powder. Top with the a tbsp each of the two chutneys. 
  • Garnish with coriander, green chillies and pomegranate seeds.

Assemble all ingredients for the chaat before serving

For Spiced Yogurt
2 cups yogurt
1/3 tsp rock salt (kala namak)
salt to taste
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp ground roasted cumin seeds
red chilli powder
ground black pepper
oil for deep frying
  • Take 2 cups of plain yogurt and beat it to smoothen out its consistency( add some water if it is too thick. 
  • Add kala namak, salt, sugar, cumin and red chilli powder and mix well. 
  • Chill before use.

For bhalle
Follow the recipe for making the bade from here till step 6.
Dahi bade

Ingredients:(makes about 2 dozen)
1/2 cup all purpose flour(I use whole wheat)
1/2 tsp oil
salt to taste
water for kneading
oil for frying
  • Take the first three ingredients in a bowl and add a little water at a time to make a stiff dough.
  • Roll out the dough thinly and using a round cookie cutter cut out small inch and a half diameter rounds. 
  • Make some dents on these to prevent them from swelling while frying.
  • Deep fry these papris at medium high until they acquire a uniform golden brown color. Make sure oil is hot enough before frying. If oil is not hot enough then papris will absorb a lot of oil.
  • Drain on a paper towel. Cool and store in an airtight container till use.

Crispy Papri

Friday, October 28, 2011

Paani Poori Or Gol Gappe

Gol Gappe or paani poori is a mouth watering appetizer. It is one of the most popular street food in India. Enjoyed all over the country, this delicious treat is referred to by many names - Gol gappa, pani puri, puchka, paani ke patashe, gup chup, phulki to name just a few. 
As a kid I remember going shopping with my mom and after a few hours indulging in this yumm treat. Even in college me and my buds would sneak out the back gate and go to 'Bengali Market' for a round of gol gappe. My girls love it too.
It is primarily a crisp poori which is filled with potato, chickpeas, green chutney, imli chutney and paani. The catch is that the whole thing has to go inside the mouth all at once for an explosion of varied flavors and textures, or it explodes on you when you bite.
So basically you have to collect a bunch of ingredients and be ready. Everyone stands around the server who fills the paani poori with water and serves everyone in a sequence. Not much cooking is involved, just assembling.

Paani Poori 
Ingredients: (serves 4)
30 Small puffed up pani pooris
2 Potatoes boiled and chopped
1 can Chickpeas drained
5 cups gol gappe ka paani (spicy water)
  1. I am sure every one who has had this dish will know how its assembled. For others here goes.
  2. Carefully tap or crack a small hole on top of the poori to make a hole
  3. Stuff a few pieces of potatoes and chickpeas through this hole. 
  4. Add tamarind chutney and green chutney as per your taste.  Top with fresh coriander leaves.
  5. Now dip the puri in the pani (spicy water) OR add some pani to the puri and put the whole puri in your mouth.
  6. Serve some water in a cup on the side for topping it all of.
  7. Enjoy.

Assemble all the ingredients for gol Gappe
Ingredients:(makes about 35-40)
1/2 cup fine semolina
1/8 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
  1. I don't usually make my own but buy these pooris at the grocery store. If you want to make them here is the recipe.
  2. Combine all the stuff and knead it with water into a stiff dough. 
  3. Roll out a thin big round roti and using a cookie cutter cut several 1inch rounds.
  4. Deep fry these on medium high and keep aside to cool. They will crisp as they cool.

Gol Gappe Ka Paani (spicy water)
1 Cup Fresh Mint Leaves
handful coriander leaves
1/2 inch fresh ginger
1 Green Chili (optional)
2 tbsp Lemon Juice
¼ tsp Teaspoon Ginger Powder
1/4th Teaspoon Black Pepper Powder
1 Teaspoon Black Salt/Rock Salt
salt to taste
1 Teaspoon Sugar
pinch Asafoetida
Handful boondi (Optional)
  1. Grind all above together with 1/2 cup water into a smooth paste.
  2. Add 5 cups water and taste for saltiness and sourness and sweetness. Adjust as per your taste.
  3. Chill for at least 4 hours.
  4. I usually serve it as is. Optionally strain the mixture to get clear spicy water.
  5. Garnish with boondi just before serving. 

Gol Gappe Ka Paani

Serve gol gappe with papri chaat for a delectable snack. 
Stay tuned for the chaat recipe next week.

Gol Gappe and Papri Chaat -- The deadly delicious duo

Tamarind chutney

Tamarind chutney

Imli (Tamarind) Chutney

250gms Tamarind (Imli)
300gms Jaggery (Gur) grated
1 tbsp Roasted cumin Powder
2 tsp Red chili powder
Salt To Taste
2 tsp Black salt
  1. Soak imli in 5 cups of water for minimum 2 hours to soften it. Mash the imli with your hand to extract its pulp. Strain and put it in a saucepan. 
  2. Bring imli pulp to boil and add all the other ingredients. 
  3. Continue to cook on medium heat till jaggery dissolves completely and chutney thickens and becomes glossy. 
  4. Keep in mind that it thickens more on cooling so cook only to the level that will cool to the desired consistency. 
  5. Cool and store in a glass jar in the refrigerator. Keeps for a month.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Besan Ke Gattey (Gram flour dumplings in yogurt sauce)

Besan ke Gattey

Besan ke Gattey or gram flour dumplings in yogurt sauce is a very popular dish from Rajasthan, India. This rich and spicy curry is perfect for the dry and hot climate of the area. The heat level is up to you but rajasthanis spice up their food quite a bit. Eat this with banana pepper rings and roti. I learned this recipe from my mother-in-law who spent her childhood in Bikaner, Rajasthan.
This dish has undergone some transformation over the years. Traditionally very few people in Rajasthan ate onion and garlic. The gravy was made using whole spices with tomato, yogurt and a tbsp of the gram flour to thicken it. Now onion and garlic have found their way into the kitchen and so these are incorporated as well. They help thicken the gravy and add flavor.

Ingredients: (Serves 6-8)
For the besan dumplings
3 cups besan (gram flour)
1 tsp saunf (fennel seeds)
red chilli powder to taste
salt to taste
3 tbsp oil
1/2 cup yogurt

Prepare the dumplings
  1. Take all the ingredients (except oil and yogurt) for the dumplings in a mixing bowl. Make a well in the center and add oil. Use your fingers to incorporate this all over so that the mixture starts to resemble fine bread crumbs. 
  2. Now add the yogurt and knead the gram flour into a stiff dough. Roll the dough into several 1 inch thick rolls like a sausage. 
  3. Meanwhile keep about 3 cups of water to boil in a shallow pan. Gently lower the coils into the boiling water and boil on high for 12-15 minutes. Remove the coils onto a chopping board and reserve the water for the gravy. 
  4. Slice the coil into even sized 1 inch pieces. Slice them at an angle.
Steamed and fried Gattey
For the gravy
pinch hing (asefoetida)
2-3 bay leaves
2 whole red chilies
whole cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp whole cumin seeds
4-5 whole cloves
1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
1/3 tsp saunf (fennel seeds)
1 small red onion chopped fine
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
2-3 tomatoes crushed
1 cup yogurt
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
red chili powder
2 tsp coriander powder
oil for frying 

Prepare the gravy
  1. In another pan take a few tbsp of oil and on medium heat lightly fry the gattas for about 2 minutes. This step is completely optional and is my little twist on the recipe. Remove from pan and keep aside.
  2. In the same pan take 2-3 tbsp oil and roast all the dry whole spices for 20 seconds. Add onion and ginger garlic paste and fry till golden brown. Stir frequently to avoid burning. 
  3. Add tomato and fry till it leaves oil along the sides of the pan. Now add yogurt and do the same. Add the reserved water into the gravy and bring to boil. 
  4. Gently add the fried/or not gatte into the boiling gravy. Bring back to boil and simmer for 10-12 minutes to incorporate the gravy flavor into the gatte. 
  5. Boil off excess liquid to reach the desired consistency. Serve hot garnished with fresh coriander.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Bharva Baigan (stuffed eggplants)

Eggplants have a meaty texture and hold up very well to stuffing and frying process. This is one of my favorite ways to cook baigan. Small Indian eggplants are the best for this recipe. Some use the long ones, but I prefer the small baigans as they are not bitter.
In India many versions of  this recipe can be seen depending on what ingredients go in the stuffing. This version here is the north Indian version. Takes a bit of effort and time but totally worth it. I stuff the eggplants with the dry spice blend and then cook it in an onion, ginger, garlic and tomato based gravy. I make my own dry blend and the recipe link is given below. You can also buy a ready to use tava fry masala. Just before serving I spoon the tomato gravy roughly inside the eggplants and serve the rest on the side. This procedure makes it easy to cook for a crowd when you have 20-25 eggplants.

8-10 small Indian eggplants
1 tbsp oil
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
2 large tomatoes, pureed
3-4 tbsp tava fry masala (recipe)
1/2 tsp red chili powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
salt to taste
  1. Wash and wipe the eggplants dry. Keep the stem intact and give a crisscross slit to the eggplant taking care not to separate the segments. 
  2. Sprinkle the insides with salt and stuff generously with the tava fry masala. 
  3. While the salted and spiced eggplants are resting, make the onion stuffing. In a pan heat 2-3 tbsp oil and fry onion, ginger and garlic to a golden brown color. Add tomato puree along with red chili powder, turmeric powder and salt. (Be cautious about how much salt you add in this mixture since eggplants are already salted
  4. Fry the stuffing while stirring frequently till the mixture leaves oil on the side. 
  5. In the same pan add about half a cup of water and bring to boil. Simmer and gently lower the stuffed eggplants into it. 
  6. Cover and cook till done. Turn the eggplants every 5 minutes to ensure even cooking on all sides while spooning the gravy over them as they cook. If the tomato gravy dries up too much sprinkle some water to avoid burning. This process takes about 15-20 minutes on low heat.
  7. When the stuffed eggplants are ready, plate them and spoon a little tomato gravy in each. Top the dish with the rest of the gravy. 
  8. Serve it sprinkled with fresh coriander accompanied by roti or paratha.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Rajasthani style spicy banana pepper rings

Patori besani mirch

During one of my visits to India I went to Jaipur to visit my husband's Nanima (maternal grandmother). His aunt cooked a spicy delicious stir fried pepper dish which hit the spot right away. Everything about that dish seemed to be in sharp contrast to what we think should be eaten in the hot dry desert like climate of Rajasthan. Turns out this is the best way to beat the heat and dryness -- eat rich spicy food.
When I came back home I tried to recreate the flavor and texture of what I had eaten and relished, using local peppers. This is what I came up with. Even though banana peppers have a different taste they comes pretty close to the spiciness and texture of the peppers of Rajasthan. Hope you enjoy it as much I do.

4-5 banana peppers
1 tbsp sesame oil
4 tsp besan (gram flour)
salt to taste
pinch hing (asafoetida)
1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
1/2 - 1 tsp amchoor powder (dry mango powder)
1/4 tsp haldi powder (turmeric)
1 tsp coriander powder
1/4 tsp fennel (saunf) powder
  1. Wash and dry the peppers. Cut them in even sized rings without removing the seeds to retain the heat. Keep aside. 
  2. Dry roast besan in medium heat constantly stirring to avoid burning for 2-3 minutes till it imparts a pleasant aroma and is roasted to a golden color. Keep aside. 
  3. Heat sesame oil a pan till its moderately hot and add hing followed by the mustard seeds. Let them crackle for 3-4 seconds. Add the peppers. 
  4. Stir fry them at high temperature stirring constantly for 2 minutes. Add salt, amchoor, coriander powder, fennel powder and turmeric and mix well. 
  5. Add the roasted besan and incorporate it thoroughly into the pepper rings. Besan will absorb all the water in the pan and thickly coat the peppers. Take out from the heat and taste to see if it is sour enough to your liking. Add more amchoor powder as needed. 
  6. Serve hot with roti as an accompaniment. Goes very well with besan gattey. 
  7. Beware of the spiciness. Banana peppers can be very hot. Enjoy.

Banana Peppers cut in even sized rings