Friday, December 25, 2015

Cabbage and Bengal gram stir fry


Cabbage is a member of the food family traditionally known as cruciferous vegetables and is related to kale, broccoli, collards and Brussels sprouts. All cruciferous vegetables provide integrated nourishment across a wide variety of nutritional categories. Sturdy and inexpensive, cabbage is a dietary staple throughout the world and is so widely cultivated and stores so well that it is available throughout the year. However, it is at its best during the late fall and winter months when it is in season. Health benefits include cancer prevention, anti-inflammatory properties, digestive tract and cardio vascular support. Cabbage is an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin C, and vitamin B6. A very good source of manganese, dietary fiber, potassium, vitamin B1, folate and copper. Additionally, cabbage is a good source of choline, phosphorus, vitamin B2, magnesium, calcium, selenium, iron, pantothenic acid, protein, and niacin. (source)
Combining cabbage with a pulse ups its protein and fiber content and enhances the flavor. Pair with roti and a side dish of raita.

Cabbage and Bengal gram stir fry (पत्ता गोभी और चना दाल)
Split Bengal gram (source)
Ingredients:
3 cups finely chopped cabbage
1/3 cup Bengal gram (chana dal)
1 tbsp oil
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
Few curry leaves
1/2 inch fresh ginger, julienne
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp red chili powder
Salt to taste
Fresh coriander to serve
  1. Soak chana dal in hot water for 30 minutes. While it is soaking prep all your ingredients. Wash and shred the cabbage and ginger.
  2. Drain chana dal and keep aside.
  3. Heat oil in a pan, add the mustard seeds and let them crackle for a few seconds. Add curry leave, ginger and the soaked and drained chana dal. Saute on medium high for a minute.
  4. Now add the cabbage and all other spices and mix well to combine. Sprinkle 2 tbsp of water in the pan and cover. Simmer the heat and cook covered for 5-7 minutes stirring once or twice in between.
  5. Check to see if the chana dal is cooked through. It should be fully cooked with a slight bite. The cabbage should be tender crisp.
  6. Remove from heat, garnish with fresh coriander leaves and serve hot with roti.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Green beans and Bengal gram stir fry




Commonly referred to as string beans, green beans belong to the same family as shell beans, such as pinto beans, black beans, and kidney beans. However, since green beans are usually picked while still immature and while the inner beans are just beginning to form in the pod, they are typically eaten in fresh form, pod and all.
Green beans are an excellent source of vitamin K. Very good source of manganese, vitamin C, dietary fiber, folate, and vitamin B2. In addition, green beans are a good source of copper, vitamin B1, chromium, magnesium, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, choline, vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids), niacin, protein, omega-3 fatty acids, iron, vitamin B6, and vitamin E. (source)

This recipe here is a combination of green beans and split Bengal gram. The soaked and toasted pulse adds a wonderful texture to the dish and tastes great with roti.

Green beans and Bengal gram stir fry (बीन्स और चना दाल)
Split Bengal gram (source)
Ingredients:
2 cups finely chopped green beans
1/3 cup Bengal gram (chana dal)
1 tbsp oil
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
Few curry leaves
1/2 inch fresh ginger, julienne
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp red chili powder
Salt to taste
Fresh coriander to serve
  1. Soak chana dal in hot water for 30 minutes. While it is soaking prep all your ingredients. Wash and chop the green beans and ginger.
  2. Drain chana dal and keep aside.
  3. Heat oil in a pan, add the mustard seeds and let them crackle for a few seconds. Add curry leave, ginger and the soaked and drained chana dal. Saute on medium high for a minute. 
  4. Now add the beans and all other spices and mix well to combine. Sprinkle 2 tbsp of water in the pan and cover. Simmer the heat and cook covered for 7-10 minutes stirring once or twice in between.
  5. Check to see if the beans and chana dal are cooked through - tender crisp.
  6. Remove from heat, garnish with fresh coriander leaves and serve hot with roti.


Friday, December 11, 2015

Chili Garlic Shrimp


Quick and easy dish that can be prepared in minutes. Large chunks of onion and chilies sauteed with shrimp in a sweet and spicy sauce. Serve as a starter, or as lunch over steamed rice, or as a filling inside a wrap. Either way it tastes wonderful.

Ingredients:
25 large shrimps
1 large red onion
Red chili peppers as per your spice quotient
1 Green pepper
2 green onions
2 cloves of garlic crushed
Vegetable oil
Sauce (mix all together)
1/4 cup Soy Sauce
2 tbsp Sambal or any hot sauce
2 tbsp honey
2 tsp Sesame Oil
1 tbsp grated ginger
  1.  Peel and de-vein the shrimps, rinse and pat dry.  
  2. Cut large chunks of red onion and green pepper. Cut red chilies into rings and chop green onions fine (reserve some for garnish). 
  3. Take 2 tbsp oil in a wok on high heat and add garlic, green peppers and red onion chunks. Saute for a few a minute. Add green onion and red chili rings and toss for another 30 seconds. 
  4. Arrange the veggies on the side of the wok and add a tsp oil in the center. Add the shrimp and cook for 2 minutes per side. Now toss them with the sauteed veggies from the sides till shrimps are cooked through. 
  5. Add the sauce and toss for a bit till everything is coated with the sauce. Taste and adjust the flavors by adding more soy sauce and/or honey. Garnish with reserved green onion. Serve hot.


Friday, December 4, 2015

Chicken Bites

Spicy chicken bites served in a big platter for a crowd
Spicy chicken bites are perfect little bite sized morsels, fit for a cocktail party or as a starter. These tender juicy bites are marinated in a concoction of spices and fried till crisp. Then coated with a spicy, sweet and sour sauce to give it the shiny gloss. A great dish to make ahead. Just pop it in the oven when ready to serve and heat till the bites sizzle a bit. Serve with onion rings and green chilies or accompanied by mint sauce. I prefer to use boneless chicken thighs for this recipe.

Spicy chicken bites served in small individual appetizer plates. 

Ingredients:
10 chicken thighs (boneless, skinless)
Oil for frying
Grind to a coarse paste
1 inch piece fresh ginger
5-6 large cloves of garlic
2-3 green chilies
Palm full fresh coriander
Marinade
1 tbsp thick plain yogurt
3 tbsp cornstarch
3 tbsp rice flour
1 tbsp Kashmiri chili powder
1 tsp sambal
1/4 tsp cumin powder
salt to taste
Sweet and sour sauce
1 tsp oil
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp honey
1 tbsp Chili garlic sauce (I used Sriracha sauce)
1 tbsp frozen orange juice concentrate
  1. Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces.
  2. Coarsely grind all the ingredients listed under 'Grind to a coarse paste' using very little water. 
  3. Add all the ingredients under marinade to the above paste to form a smooth red marinade. You can add a few drops of red color if you like, but I find that using the Kashmiri chili powder does the trick.  
  4. Marinate the chicken pieces in this mixture and keep aside for 5-10 minutes. 
  5. Shallow fry the marinated chicken on medium high for 3-4 minutes per side, till cooked through and crisp from outside. Do not over crowd the pan. Fry in batches. Remove and keep aside.
  6. Now use the ingredients listed under sauce. Using the same pan, remove all but a tsp oil. Saute ginger garlic paste for 30-40 seconds until fragrant, then add all the other ingredients and bring to a rolling boil. 
  7. Boil for a few seconds to allow everything to combine well and the sauce to become slightly syrupy. Add the fried chicken bites and toss well to coat. Check the seasoning here adjust as per your taste. 
  8. Serve hot with onion rings and mint chutney.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Waldorf salad



Tonight's menu
Waldorf salad
Biscuits

Waldorf Salad with Cajun chicken and warm biscuits

The first Waldorf Salad was created by Oscar Tschirky, the maitre d'hotel of the New York's legendary Waldorf Astoria in 1893. It may be more than a century old, but it is still the most requested dish in their menu. This timeless American classic dish consists of apples, celery and grapes dressed in a creamy dressing and topped with candied walnuts. It was originally dressed in mayonnaise but has since undergone some transformation to make it more modern, light and refreshing. Be sure to add it to your menu, you will be delighted with the combination of textures and flavors. Here is how I make this salad.


Waldorf Salad
Ingredients: 
1 medium red apple
1 small green apple
1/2 cup grapes
1 stalk celery
Handful toasted walnuts or pecans
Dressing
1 tbsp mayonnaise or sour cream
3 tbsp plain yogurt
Freshly grated pepper
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Salt to taste (optional)
  1. Whisk together all the ingredients for dressing. Keep aside.
  2. Lightly toast the nuts in a skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly until lightly browned and aromatic (2-3 minutes), keep aside.
  3. Dice or julienne the apples, dice the celery and cut the grapes in half. Put these in a large bowl along with half the toasted walnuts. 
  4. Add the dressing and stir to coat. Serve topped with the remaining nuts.
Variations:
  1. Add cooked chicken to make it a chicken Waldorf salad.
  2. Serve on a warm tortilla as a lunch wrap.  

Friday, November 20, 2015

Chicken lettuce wraps





Biting into a lettuce wrap for the first time is a treat for the taste buds. Cool crisp lettuce gives way to hot chicken filling that is bursting with flavors of ginger and garlic and crunchiness of chestnuts. Ready in 20 minutes, these wraps can be served for lunch or as appetizers. Wrap the filling inside tortillas to make chicken wraps or serve them over hot steamed rice. Super healthy and a treat for your palate.

Ingredients: (Serves 4)1 tbsp sesame oil1 tsp ginger garlic paste
1 lb ground chicken
1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
1/2 can water chestnuts, drained and diced
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tbsp soy sauce
1-2 tsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp hot sauce
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 carrot, grated
Bunch of green onions, thinly sliced
Boston lettuce leaves to serve
  1. Heat sesame oil in a large frying pan over medium-high. Add ginger garlic paste and saute for a few seconds. Add minced chicken. 
  2. Cook stirring often with a fork to keep meat crumbly, cooking until meat is no longer pink, about 2-3 min. 
  3. Add mushrooms and water chestnuts. Cook for 2 min. Add grated carrots and green onion. Cook stirring often for a minute.
  4. In a small bowl whisk together broth with soy sauce, vinegar, hot sauce, honey and cornstarch in a medium bowl until cornstarch dissolves. Add to chicken mixture. Cook on high until sauce is slightly thickened, about 1-2 min. Remove from heat. 
  5. Feel free to adjust the flavor here by adding more hot sauce and or honey to get the desired result. 
  6. Scoop a heaping chunk of the filling onto each lettuce leaf and serve. Can also serve this over steamed rice or as a filling for a wrap. 



Friday, November 13, 2015

Kachumber Raita

Cucumber, tomato, onion Raita
Mixed salad chopped to small bite sized chunks in creamy plain yogurt, flavored with salt and dry roasted crushed cumin. An excellent accompaniment to any spicy main dish as a cooling agent. Serve this with biryani, curried chicken and lamb, with any grilled meat and veggies, with stuffed paratha's and poori.

Kachumbar Raita
Ingredients
2 cups yogurt blended into a smooth consistency
Salt to taste
½ teaspoon whole cumin seeds
Pinch red chilli powder.
Finely chopped fresh coriander

  1. 1 cup altogether finely chopped --- red onion, cucumber and tomato 
  2. In a small pan dry roast cumin seeds for a few minutes till they get darker in color and impart a roasted aroma. In a mortar and pestle coarsely grind these hot seeds. 
  3. Mix all ingredients together and cool. 
  4. Serve alongside Biryani.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Edamame Spread




Edamame is the young soybean that's harvested before the beans have had a chance to harden. These are available shelled or in the pod, fresh or frozen. This low calorie and gluten free little bean is rich in protein and is a great source of iron and calcium. Specially for those who follow a plant based diet edamame can be a significant source of protein. 
Steamed edamame beans, sprinkled with salt form a perfect snack. Here is another way to enjoy this wonder bean. Serve with brown rice crackers and a bunch of veggies.
 Ingredients: 
1/2 cups frozen shelled edamame
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp sesame oil
Salt and pepper
Few tbsp water to blend
Vegetables and rice crackers, for serving
  1. In a medium saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the edamame and garlic until edamame are tender, about 5 minutes. Drain.
  2. In a food processor, puree edamame, garlic, lemon zest and juice, oil, and 1/2 cup water until very smooth, about 2 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl. If needed, thin by adding water one tablespoon at a time. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
  3. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 day. (If needed, add additional water.) Serve with radishes and crackers.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Teriyaki Salmon

Tonight's menu
Teriyaki Salmon  
Brown rice with veggies
Bok choy
Wine pairing: Pinot Noir



Teriyaki salmon with brown rice and bok choy

The teriyaki technique of cooking involves grilling food with a glaze of soy sauce, mirin and sugar. The meat is dipped in and brushed with the teriyaki sauce several times during cooking. Doing so gives an intense flavor to the food and a shiny lustrous coating of the caramelized sugar.

The fresh flavors of ginger-garlic  and the sweet acidity of mirin combine in the teriyaki sauce to perfectly complement the salmon. Mirin is a Japanese sweet rice wine that lends mild acidity and sweetness to a dish. If you cannot find mirin then increase the quantity of sugar and rice vinegar to 1/4 cup each.

Teriyaki sauce / marinade
Ingredients: (1 cup yield)
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/8 cup white or brown sugar
1/8 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup mirin (or 1/8 cup each sugar and rice vinegar)
1/2 tsp red chili flakes (optional)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp fresh ginger root, minced
1 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 1-2 tbsp water
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan except corn starch. Stir the mixture over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and sauce starts to reach a simmer.
  2. Add the corn starch mixture while stirring to avoid any lumps.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes, until slightly thickened.
  4. If the sauce becomes too thick add some boiling water.
  5. Cool.

Teriyaki salmon with brown rice and bok choy

Teriyaki salmon
Ingredients: (serves 4)
4 salmon fillets
Salt and pepper (Salt is Optional)
4-6 tbsp Teriyaki marinade (Recipe above)
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F.
  2. Prepare a baking sheet by spraying with cooking spray.
  3. Clean and dry the salmon fillets.
  4. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Remember that the marinade is also salty.
  5. Using a basting brush spread about a 2 tsp marinade on the fish on both sides. Reserve the balance for basting. 
  6. Place the fillets on the prepared baking sheet and cook in the oven for 10-15 minutes till salmon is cooked through. Baste the salmon with the reserved marinade occasionally while its cooking.
  7. Cooking time will depend on the thickness of the fillets.
  8. Serve hot over veggie brown rice and sauteed Bok Choy.

Veggie Brown Rice
Ingredients: (serves 4)
1 cups Brown Rice, cooked
1 tsp each ginger and garlic paste
1 bunch green onions, sliced thinly
2 cups shredded cabbage
1 red or yellow pepper, sliced thinly
1 cup shredded carrots
Soy Sauce as per taste
1 tbsp hot sauce
2 tsp rice vinegar
Oil
  1. In a small sauté pan, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add ginger and garlic and sauté for 30 seconds.
  2. Add all the veggies and cook until softened, about 4-5 minutes. They should be tender crisp.
  3. Add the cooked brown rice, soy sauce, vinegar and hot sauce. Toss to coat.

Bok choy
Ingredients: (serves 4)
8 bunches of baby bok choy
1 tbsp Sesame oil
Salt to taste (Optional)
  1. Separate all the bok choy leaves and wash thoroughly. Drain all water and leave in a sieve till 
  2. On medium high heat saute the bok choy leaves, stirring frequently till slightly wilted. They should reach the tender crisp stage.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Teriyaki Chicken skewers

Tonight's menu
Teriyaki chicken skewers
Rice noodle and veggie stir fry
Wine pairing: Sauvignon Blanc OR Riesling

Teriyaki chicken skewers on a bed of veggie rice noodles

The teriyaki technique of cooking involves grilling food with a glaze of soy sauce, mirin and sugar. The meat is dipped in and brushed with the teriyaki sauce several times during cooking. Doing so gives an intense flavor to the food and a shiny lustrous coating of the caramelized sugar.

The fresh flavors of ginger-garlic  and the sweet acidity of mirin combine in the teriyaki sauce to perfectly flavor any grilled meat or fish. Mirin is a Japanese sweet rice wine that lends mild acidity and sweetness to a dish. If you cannot find mirin then increase the quantity of sugar and rice vinegar to 1/4 cup each.

Teriyaki sauce / marinade
Ingredients: (1 cup yield)
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/8 cup white or brown sugar
1/8 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup mirin (or 1/8 cup each sugar and rice vinegar)
1/2 tsp red chili flakes (optional)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp fresh ginger root, minced
1 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 1-2 tbsp water
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan except corn starch. Stir the mixture over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and sauce starts to reach a simmer.
  2. Add the corn starch mixture while stirring to avoid any lumps.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes, until slightly thickened.
  4. If the sauce becomes too thick, add some boiling water.
  5. Cool.
Teriyaki chicken skewers on a bed of veggie rice noodles

Teriyaki chicken
Ingredients: (serves 4)
8 boneless skinless chicken thighs
Salt and pepper (Salt is Optional)
6-8 tbsp Teriyaki marinade (Recipe above)
  1. If you are using wooden skewers, soak them for 30 minutes before threading in the chicken.
  2. Clean and dry the chicken thighs. Cut each into 4 pieces.
  3. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Remember that the marinade is also salty.
  4. Marinate these in the teriyaki marinade for 2 hours. 
  5. Preheat the BBQ. 
  6. Skewer the marinated chicken and reserve the leftover marinade for basting. 
  7. Spray the chicken with some oil. Grill them on medium heat turning occasionally. Baste the chicken with the reserved marinade once or twice while cooking.
  8. Grill for 12-15 minutes, till cooked through and evenly charred on all sides. Since the marinade has sugar, avoid cooking on high as the outside will char too much before the chicken cooks through.
  9. Serve hot over veggies and rice noodles stir fry. 

Teriyaki chicken skewers on a bed of veggie rice noodles

Vegetable and rice noodles stir fry
Ingredients: (serves 6)
1 lb thick rice noodles
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp Canola oil
2-3 cloves garlic crushed
2 tbsp fresh grated ginger
1 red pepper cut in thin strips
1 large carrot julienne
1/2 small head green cabbage, finely shredded
1 bunch green onion, chopped fine
1/2 red onion thinly sliced
Soy sauce
Rice wine vinegar
Sriracha hot sauce
  1. Cook noodles in a large pot of salted boiling water according to package directions. Drain and wash with cold water, drain again and toss in a tbsp of canola oil to ensure that the noodles do't stick together. Keep aside.
  2. In a large wok take 1 tbsp Canola oil and add ginger, garlic and chilies  Fry for a minute till pink and add all the vegetables. Stir fry at high heat till render crisp. Transfer to a bowl.
  3. Stir in the cooked noodles and toss to coat evenly with the sauteed veggies. Put back to heat and cook for a minute to heat through. Flavor with say sauce, rice vinegar and any hot sauce of your choice. 
  4. Serve hot topped with teriyaki chicken skewers.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Phalahaar fasting thali one

Thali Menu
Sesame potatoes (तिल वाले आलू )
Banana Flavored yogurt (केले का रायेता)
Buckwheat pancakes (कुट्टू के चीले)
Fruit and veggie salad/chaat
Carrot pudding (गाजर की खीर)


Fasting is a spiritual practice observed in many religions. In Hinduism fasting stands for denial of the physical needs of the body for the sake of spiritual gains. By this act of self discipline devotees starve their senses (since food means gratification of senses), strengthening their mind  as well as hardening their body for hardships. It helps establish a harmonious relationship between body and soul.
Fasting can be of several types. Complete abstinence is called upavaas, avoiding any cereal and only eating fruits and root vegetables is called phalahaar. During the Navratri festival a lot of Hindus observe eight days of fasting. For Navratri its mostly phalahaar. People eat only once in the evening and consume no cereal even in that meal. Meal itself consists of simply cooked ingredients without the use of onion and garlic. Palahaar is also the way to go when fasting for Janamashtami, Shivratri or every fortnight for Ekadashi.
Here is an example of a phalahaar meal.

Til wale aloo
My mom's recipe, this dish is from Nepal and is always a favored item in gatherings. This spicy vegan fare takes multiple steps but is well worth the effort. As the flavors blend it, taste enhances after 24 hours. So I always make a double batch to ensure left-overs for later. This dish is suitable for a fasting meal. Use the same recipe for cooking cauliflower. Find the sesame cauliflower recipe here.
Ingredients:
8 large potatoes, boiled, peeled and diced
4-6 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp white sesame seeds
1/2 tsp black sesame seeds (optional)
1 tbsp amchoor powder (dehydrated raw mango powder)
2 inch fresh ginger root
8-10 green chilies
1 tsp turmeric powder
salt to taste
For recipe click here.


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Banana Raita
Ingredients
2 cups yogurt blended into a smooth consistency
1 large ripe banana mashed well
Salt to taste
½ teaspoon whole cumin seeds
Pinch red chili powder.
Finely chopped fresh coriander
1-2 green chilies chopped fine (optional)
  1. In a small pan dry roast cumin seeds for a few minutes till they get darker in color and impart a roasted aroma. In a mortar and pestle coarsely grind these hot seeds.
  2. Mix all ingredients together and cool. Serve cold.
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Kuttu ka cheela (Buckwheat pancakes)  
Ingredients: (serves 4)
1 1/2 cups of kuttu flour (Buckwheat)
Water to make a thin batter
salt and pepper to taste (optional)
Finely chopped fresh coriander and green chilies
Vegetable oil for shallow frying
  1. Make a thin batter of pouring consistency using the buckwheat flour and water. Add salt and pepper(if using) and coriander and chilies. Mix well.
  2. In a medium hot flat pan make small pancakes or cheelas with the batter. Serve hot and crisp.
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Fruit and veggie Chaat (fruit salad) 
Ingredients:
Banana, apple, pear, grapes, oranges, pineapple, any fruits you might want to add along with cucumber and potato. I have used apples, grapes, cucumber and pineapple.
Kala namak (black rock salt)
Black pepper
Cumin powder
Lime juice
  1. Cut fruits into bite size pieces and combine in a large bowl.
  2. Flavour with lime juice, kala namak , freshly ground black pepper and dry roasted cumin powder. Mix well and refrigerate. Serve chilled.
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Carrot payasam 
Ingredients: 
2 cups milk
1 cup shredded carrots
1/4 cup sugar
4 green cardamoms, crushed fine
Handful Pistachios and almonds
  1. Put grated carrots in a pressure cooker with 1/4 cup water and pressure cook on high till the first whistle. Simmer for 5 minutes. Keep aside.
  2. Meanwhile bring 2 cups of milk to boil. 
  3. When the carrots cool a bit use a hand blender to coarsely puree the cooked carrots. 
  4. Add the carrots to the milk and continue to cook on medium heat, stirring often. Make sure the milk doesn't burn at the bottom of the pan. 
  5. In about 15-20 minutes the milk will thicken and form a pudding like consistency. Add the sugar (Adjust the quantity as per your taste). Mix and cook again on high this time for a few minutes constantly stirring. Stirring is important here as the heat is high and both sugar and milk can caramelize really fast. 
  6. When sugar is fully incorporated, remove from heat and add crushed cardamoms and chopped nuts. 
  7. Chill before serving. 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Thanksgiving Feast 2

Tonight's Menu
Roasted chicken breast
Stuffed tomatoes
Roasted spaghetti squash
Grilled asparagus
Orange spiked cranberry sauce
Hot apple cider
Apple cake
Wine pairing: Pinot Noir, Chianti or Zinfandel 

Roast chicken breast with spaghetti squash, stuffed tomatoes, grilled asparagus and cranberry sauce

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night.
For health and food,
For love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.

For flowers that bloom about our feet,
For tender grass, so fresh so sweet,
For song of birds and hum of bees,
For all things fair we hear or see,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thanksgiving, an opportunity to give thanks for everything good in our lives, celebrate nature’s bounty, and enjoy a big meal with family and friends. Here's what we had for thanksgiving this year.

Stuffed tomatoes and grilled asparagus

Stuffed Tomatoes
The soft creaminess of ricotta and crispness of Italian breadcrumbs combine to give a unique texture.You get more than just great flavor and juiciness when tomatoes are at their peak of ripeness, you get a huge helping of vitamin A and vitamin C.
Ingredients: (serves 4)
4 medium tomatoes on the vine
salt to taste
4 tbsp of ricotta cheese
cracked black pepper
2 tbsp Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp chopped fresh parsley
olive oil to brush
  1. Cut tomatoes in half. Gently squeeze out the tomato pulp without damaging the shell.
  2. Season the tomato shell with salt and pepper.
  3. In a bowl combine ricotta cheese and some of the tomato pulp along with salt and pepper. Remember the tomatoes are already seasoned. Fill up the tomato shells with this mixture.
  4. In another bowl combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan, parsley and pepper, sprinkle evenly over the stuffed tomatoes.
  5. Brush the tomatoes carefully with some olive oil and place them on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray.
  6. Grill on high for 10-15 minutes or until heated through. Serve hot.  


Roasted spaghetti squash 
Roasted spaghetti squash
Ingredients: 
1 medium sized spaghetti squash
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Herb butter (recipe below)
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. 
  2. Half and seed squash. Place, cut side down, on lightly greased baking sheet. Bake for about 45 min to an hour or until flesh is easily pierced. 
  3. (Alternatively, microwave, flesh side up and covered with plastic wrap, at High for 15 minutes or until easily pierced.) 
  4. Using a fork, gently scrape cooked strands from squash and transfer to a large bowl.
  5. Pour the prepared herb butter over squash, add grated cheese and toss. Serve hot.
Herb Butter 
3 tbsp butter
1-2 large cloves of garlic, minced
Salt to taste
2 tbsp chopped fresh herbs (sage, basil or thyme)
Freshly grated black pepper
In small saucepan, over medium-low heat melt butter and add garlic and salt. Cook for a few minutes till garlic starts to turn golden. Remove from heat; stir in herbs and pepper.

Roast Chicken breast
Ingredients:
4 medium sized chicken breasts (boneless and skinless)
3-4 tsp olive oil
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
1-2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a baking dish with foil.
  2. Brush both sides of each chicken breast with olive oil, and sprinkle with the seasonings.
  3. Bake, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Turn and lightly brush again and bake for 10-15 more minutes, or until juices run clear when pierced with a fork. 
  4. Make a small slit in the thickest part to see if it's done (white and opaque, not pink.). The best way to make sure they are done is to insert an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part. It should read 165 F.
  5. Adjust your time if the chicken breasts are smaller or larger. 
  6. Transfer the baked chicken breasts to a platter. Loosely cover with foil and allow to rest 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

Orange spiked cranberry sauce

Orange spiked cranberry sauce
Ingredients: 
3 cups fresh cranberries
¾ cup sugar 
½ inch ginger grated 
Zest and juice of 1 orange 
pinch salt 
  1. Put the juice of one orange in a measuring cup and top with water until you have 3/4 cup liquid in total. 
  2. Place sugar and orange - water mixture in a pan. 
  3. Add the cranberries, ginger and salt and bring to boil. 
  4. Cook stirring occasionally on medium heat till thickened and most of the cranberries have popped, about 7-10 minutes. 
  5. Cool completely before serving. 
  6. Keeps well covered, refrigerated for a week. 

Apple cake
This one is a lot of fruit and a little bit of cake batter. Makes for a very light dish. Its a quick recipe and can be made anytime. A perfect dish for when apples are in abundance.
Apples and cranberries
Ingredients: 
6 granny smith apples peeled cored and sliced
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup oil
5 Tbs apple juice
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 tbs ground cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F 
  2. Arrange apples in a greased baking dish. 
  3. Sprinkle over them evenly half the spice mixture of brown sugar and cinnamon. 
  4. Meanwhile in a mixing bowl beat till thick and fluffy eggs and sugar. 
  5. Add oil, apple juice and vanilla extract and mix. 
  6. To this batter add in batches mixture of flour, baking powder and salt to make a smooth batter. 
  7. Pour this batter evenly over the apples and sprinkle with remaining spice mixture. 
  8. Bake for 35-40 minutes till done, ie. when the cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. 
  9. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Apple cake

Friday, October 9, 2015

Sesame potatoes


Til wale aloo (Potatoes in sesame seeds)

My mom's recipe, this dish is from Nepal and is always a favored item in gatherings. This spicy vegan fare takes multiple steps but is well worth the effort. As the flavors blend it, taste enhances after 24 hours. So I always make a double batch to ensure left-overs for later. This dish is suitable for a fasting meal. Use the same recipe for cooking cauliflower. Find the sesame cauliflower recipe here.

Til wale aloo (sesame potatoes)
Ingredients:
8 large potatoes, boiled, peeled and diced
4-6 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp white sesame seeds
1/2 tsp black sesame seeds (optional)
1 tbsp amchoor powder (dehydrated raw mango powder)
2 inch fresh ginger root
8-10 green chilies
1 tsp turmeric powder
salt to taste
  1. Boil and peel potatoes.
  2. Keep aside to let it cool.
  3. Meanwhile coarsely dry grind sesame seeds. Slit green chilies into half lengthwise and cut ginger into long thin strips.
  4. When potato cools a bit, sprinkle salt, turmeric powder, amchoor powder and ground sesame seeds over it and using a spatula mix it thoroughly to work them in. 
  5. In a large pan or wok heat the olive oil and add the black sesame seeds, ginger and green chilies. Saute for about 30 seconds.
  6. Now add the spiced potato and fry on high for 2-3 minutes mixing oil and ginger well into it.
  7. Reduce the heat to medium and continue frying and mixing for another 3 minutes till all the flavors blend in.
  8. Remove from heat and let stand for at least and hour before serving. Garnish with fresh coriander. Serve hot or warm with roti or naan.
  9. This dish tastes better the next day. So make a double batch so you have enough left overs for another meal. Can stay in the fridge for 3-4 days. Freezing doesn't work as the vegetable softens and looses its texture on defrosting.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Carrot Payasam



Payasam or kheer is prepared as the end of meal dessert or specially during festivals as an offering to the God. This milk based pudding can be made with anything - rice, broken wheat, vermicelli, mango, rava, sago, carrot, you name it. Carrot kheer is very light and is suitable for a phalahaar fast (No grains are consumed on the day of the fast). 

Carrot payasam 
Ingredients: (serves 2 generously)
2 cups milk
1 cup shredded carrots
1/4 cup sugar
4 green cardamoms, crushed fine
Handful Pistachios and almonds
  1. Put grated carrots in a pressure cooker with 1/4 cup water and pressure cook on high till the first whistle. Simmer for 5 minutes. Keep aside.
  2. Meanwhile bring 2 cups of milk to boil. 
  3. When the carrots cool a bit use a hand blender to coarsely puree the cooked carrots. 
  4. Add the carrots to the milk and continue to cook on medium heat, stirring often. Make sure the milk doesn't burn at the bottom of the pan. 
  5. In about 15-20 minutes the milk will thicken and form a pudding like consistency. Add the sugar (Adjust the quantity as per your taste). Mix and cook again on high this time for a few minutes constantly stirring. Stirring is important here as the heat is high and both sugar and milk can caramelize really fast. 
  6. When sugar is fully incorporated, remove from heat and add crushed cardamoms and chopped nuts. 
  7. Chill before serving. 


Friday, September 25, 2015

Chow Chow Bhaat

Brunch Menu
Khaara bhaat/ upma
Kesari bhaat/rawa halwa
Hot filter coffee

Chow chow bhaat
Chow chow bhaat is a delicious combo of sweet and savory semolina served across Karnataka, more precisely Bangalore.  Served for breakfast or as a high tea snack, the savory part is khaara bhaat or upma and the sweet part is the kesari bhaat or rawa halwa. If you have never tried the two together you might wonder how they will taste paired up in a meal. Believe me each flavor balances and complements the other really well. Served over a banana leaf with the aroma of ghee, roasted suji, and the melt in the mouth texture, this is one super combo.

Both the dishes require slow roasting of rawa and hence time and patience. Needless to say its almost impossible to whip these for breakfast on a weekday. We usually make this for a Sunday brunch with a cup of hot coffee for a truly satisfying meal. 

Khaara bhaat (upma)
Khaara Bhaat (semolina upma)
Ingredients:
1 cup semolina
2 tbsp oil (or ghee/clarified butter)
2 cups veggies (I used peas, carrots, yellow beans and green beans)
2 1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
Pinch hing (asafoetida)
Few curry leaves
1 tbsp roasted chana dal
2-3 green chilies, chopped
1 inch ginger, minced
Salt and red chili powder to taste
  1. In a pan on medium heat dry roast the semolina till it turns lightly golden and starts to impart a pleasant roasted aroma. Keep aside.
  2. Heat 2 tbsp oil in another pan and add hing and mustard seeds. Let these crackle for a few seconds. Add the curry leaves, chana dal, green chilies and ginger. Saute for a few seconds and then add the vegetables. 
  3. Season with salt and red chili powder. Mix well, simmer and cover for 7-10 minutes. Give it a quick stir midway after 5 minutes. 
  4. When peas and beans are cooked through, add water and increase the heat to high. Season with some salt and then bring the mixture to a rolling boil.
  5. Slowly pour the roasted semolina into the boiling mixture, while stirring with one hand to avoid any lumps.
  6. Briskly continue stirring on high heat till all the syrup is absorbed and upma starts leaving some ghee on the sides of the pan. Remove from heat. Serve hot. 

Kesari bhaat (rawa halwa)
Kesari Bhaat (rawa/suji halwa or sheera)
Ingredients:
1 cup fine rawa (semolina)
3/4 -1 cup ghee (clarified butter)
3/4 - 1 cup sugar
2 cups water plus 1 cup milk
Pinch turmeric powder (haldi)
10-12 strands kesar (saffron) dissolved in a tsp of water
6 Blanched almonds skinned and chopped
6 green cardamoms skinned and crushed fine 
  1. The basic proportion to make suji halwa is suji:ghee:sugar:water - 1:1:1:3. I modify it a bit by substituting 1 cup milk for a cup of water and reducing the quantity of sugar and ghee. You can follow any proportion you like. 
  2. Mix sugar in the water-milk mixture and heat till sugar dissolves. Add kesar and turmeric powder and keep aside. 
  3. Heat ghee in a pan and lightly toast the almonds and raisins. Take out and keep aside.
  4. In the same pan add suji. Roast while constantly stirring on medium low heat till suji imparts a pleasant roasted aroma. Make sure the semolina does not brown, otherwise the finished product will not get the golden yellow hue.
  5. Add the sugar syrup to it briskly stirring on high heat till all the syrup is absorbed and halwa starts leaving some ghee on the sides of the pan. Remove from heat. 
  6. Stir in toasted almonds, raisins and cardamon. Serve hot.


Friday, September 18, 2015

Mexican Burger

Tonight's menu
Mexican chicken burger
Southwestern Slaw
Pico de gallo
Lime infused Guacamole
Habanero hot sauce


Inspired by the flavors of Mexican cuisine and the American burger, here is a perfect combo that will satisfy your appetite and taste buds alike. This easy to make and healthfully prepared burger uses wholesome ingredients and tastes awesome. Fresh veggies go inside the tangy southwestern slaw, salsa and guacamole.  A blend of herbs and spices gives the burger itself an earthy and spicy taste. I have used several types of chilies in this meal and each one brings with it a unique flavor note. A must try for all the burger connoisseurs.

Mexican chicken burgers
Ingredients:
1 lb minced chicken
1 egg
1/2 red onion, chopped fine
2-3 cloves garlic (large), grated
Handful fresh coriander, chopped fine
1 tbsp bread crumbs
1-2 tbsp taco seasoning (see recipe below)
Salt to taste
  1. Mix all the ingredients together. If the mixture is too soft add some more bread crumbs. It should be a fairly loose mixture. 
  2. Divide into four equal parts and moisten your palms to shape into round patties. 
  3. Place in a single layer and cover. Refrigerate for 1/2 hour before cooking. This will set them for easy handling. 
  4. Grill for 7-8 minutes per side till cooked through and golden on both sides. 
  5. For a Vegetarian option substitute mince chicken with paneer, tofu or boiled potato or a combination of these. I have also tried boiled soy granules mixed with boiled potato. Just keep the flavoring same. You can pan fry or grill these. Comes out great.

To serve
4 Burger buns
Guacamole (see recipe below)
Cheese
Pico de Gallo (see recipe below)
Sour cream or hung yogurt (optional)
Olives, sliced (optional)
Jalapeno rings (optional)
Southwester slaw (see recipe below)
Habanero hot sauce (recipe)
  1. To serve spread guacamole on the burger bun.
  2. Top with the grilled chicken patty followed by cheese and pico de gallo.
  3. Top with a dollop of sour cream, olives and Jalapeno rings.  
  4. Serve with a side of Southwestern slaw, pico de gallo, extra guacamole and habanero sauce for an out of the world burger experience. 
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Taco seasoning (mix well)
Ingredients (makes 2 1/2 tbsp)
1 tbsp chili powder
1/3 tsp garlic powder
1/3 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
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Southwestern slaw
Ingredients: (serves 4)
1 cup fine shredded cabbage
1/2 red onion thinly sliced
1 jalapeno minced
handful chopped coriander
2 tsp lime juice
2 tsp honey
salt to taste
  1. Combine everything and allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes before serving.
  2. The longer you you keep it, more flavorful it will be.
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Jalapeno Pico de Gallo 
Ingredients: (makes 1 cup)
1 cup diced tomatoes
1/2 red onion chopped fine
2-3 jalapeno peppers minced
handful chopped coriander
1/2 tsp lime juice
salt to taste
Combine everything and mix well.
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Lime infused Guacamole 
Ingredients: (makes 1 cup)
2 ripe avocados mashed
2 cloves garlic minced fine
2 tbsp lime juice
1/2 tsp lime zest
salt and pepper to taste
  1. Mash the avocados with the lime juice, garlic, and salt. Season with pepper. 
  2. Adjust with more lime juice if necessary to taste.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Tilapia in coconut sauce

 Tonight's Menu
Tilapia in coconut sauce
Thai green eggplant stir fry
steamed white rice

Tilapia in Thai green coconut sauce with Green eggplant stir fry over white steamed rice

Tilapia fillets are cooked in a Thai green curry paste flavored coconut milk sauce for a rich silky flavor. An easy yet flavorful way to prepare fish. Serve the fillets over a bed of white rice spooning the luxurious sauce over them. The sauce is quite spicy so adjust the amount of thai chilies you use to make the green curry paste.

Tilapia in coconut sauce
Ingredients: (serves 4)

Four tilapia fillets
Salt to taste
1 1/2 cup coconut milk
1 cup coriander leaves
1 lemongrass stalk, coarse outer leaves discarded, chopped
10 Fresh or frozen Kaffir lime leaves

2 teaspoon peeled grated galangal or fresh ginger
5 garlic cloves
5 red Thai chilies 
2 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F. 
  2. Spray a baking dish with oil. Season the fish fillets with salt and pepper and place in the baking dish. 
  3. Meanwhile dry roast coriander and cumin seeds in a moderately hot skillet for 2 minutes until fragrant.
  4. Grind these seeds coarsely using a mortar and pestle or dry grinder. (I used magic bullet)
  5. Put the ground spice mix along with all other ingredients in a blender and process for 2-3 minutes into a thick and smooth paste. Season with salt (bear in mind fish is already seasoned.)
  6. Pour the mixture over the fish. Bake until the fish is just opaque in the center, about 15-20 minutes.
  7. Serve spooning the coconut sauce over rice.
Fish recipe adapted from Food network

Thai eggplant is small, round with green and white coloring. It is crunchier than other eggplant varieties and can be found in many Asian grocery stores. Tastes great just stir fried with a little five spice too.

Sauteed Baby Thai Eggplants
Ingredients:

2 tbsp sesame oil
3-4 cloves garlic chopped fine
1/2 red onion julienne
1/2 inch ginger cut in thin strips
1 stalk lemon grass finely chopped
3-4 lime leaves finely chopped
1 lb Thai green eggplants quartered
3-4 green and red Thai chilies (optional)
1 tsp coriander powder
salt to taste
  1. Heat sesame oil in a pan. Add onion, ginger, garlic, lemon grass and lime leaves. Stir on high for 30 seconds.
  2. Add eggplant and reduce heat to medium. Cook stirring frequently without lid for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the chilies (if using), stir in coriander powder and salt to taste. 
  4. Toss well till peppers are tender crisp and eggplant is done.
  5. Serve hot.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Mango mint chutney



Tart, slightly sweet unripe mango blends with the green, fresh mint and the pungent, earthy garlic in this chutney. Packed with digestive herbs and condiments this chutney so refreshingly shouts "summertime". A very versatile sauce that is delish with a hint of sweet heat. Use as a spread, a dip or as an accompaniment.

Ingredients: (makes about 1 1/2 cups)
2 small raw mangoes 
2 cups loosely packed fresh mint leaves
1 cup fresh coriander leaves
4-5 green chilies (as per your spice quotient)
4-5 cloves of garlic, peeled
Thumb sized piece fresh ginger, peeled
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp roasted cumin powder
1/4 cup lime juice
  1. Peel the mangoes and roughly cube the mango flesh (discard the seed).
  2. Pick and wash the mint and coriander leaves.
  3. Place all the ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. I like to use my magic bullet. 
  4. Lime juice will act as the liquid to help blend everything and also acts as a preservative.
  5. I usually don't like to add any sugar in this, but if your mangoes are too tart by all means add some. 
  6. Transfer to a clean glass jar and refrigerate. Keeps well for 2-3 weeks.
Use this chutney as: 
  1. A spread for sandwiches, burgers and wraps.
  2. A dip for chips and crackers.
  3. A condiment with any fried or baked savory appetizers such as samosa, bonda, pakoda, cutlets.
  4. An accompaniment to any any Indian meal of dal and subzi.
  5. An accompaniment to any BBQ or grilled meats and fish.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Vada Pav



Vada pav or Wada pav is Mumbai's very own burger; battered, deep fried potato fritters inside soft buns typically served as a tea time snack. Of Maharashtrian origin, this vegetarian appetizer is a popular Mumbai street food served with several gourmet chutneys. Flavored mashed potatoes are shaped into round balls and dipped in a thick chickpea flour batter, then deep fried to get a crispy exterior with a soft interior. Serve it pressed between laddi pav (small soft buns) accompanied by vada pav special chutney as the ultimate Indian burger,

To assemble Vada pav (serves 4)
8 Batata vada (recipe)
8 Laddi pav (soft small buns)
Vada pav dry garlic chutney (see below)
Mint chutney (recipe)
1/2 Red onion, sliced
4-6 Fried green chilies
  1. On the pav spread some mint chutney and then sprinkle the dry garlic chutney generously. 
  2. Top with a hot batata vada and serve with crunchy red onion slivers and long fried green chilies. Bet you can't eat just one.


Dry garlic chutney (vada pav chutney)
This delicious hot and spicy dry textured chutney is a must have condiment with Vada pav. Also called as the vada pav chutney, it has the unique nutty flavor from peanuts and sesame seeds, sweetness from tamarind and spiciness from the chilies. Make sure to use 2 types of chilies- one for the bright red color and another for the fiery heat.

Ingredients: (makes about 1/2 cup)
8 Garlic Cloves
1/4 cup (4 tbsp) grated dry coconut
2 tablespoon sesame seeds
3 tablespoon peanuts
2 teaspoons red chili powder
1 tsp hot chili powder (optional)
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon tamarind paste
1 teaspoon oil
Salt to taste
  1. Gently dry roast peanuts and sesame seeds till they impart a slight aroma. Cool.
  2. Take all the ingredients in a grinder and coarsely grind everything together. Do not make a smooth paste, keep it coarse and textured. 


Friday, August 21, 2015

Bonda/Batata Vada

Bonda/Batata vada
Bonda or Batata Vada are battered, deep fried potato fritters typically served as a tea time snack. This vegetarian appetizer is a popular Maharashtra street food and is served with a bunch of condiments such as green mint coriander chutney and the red chili garlic chutney. Flavored mashed potatoes are shaped into round balls and dipped in a thick chickpea flour batter, then deep fried to get a crispy exterior with a soft interior. Bonda is usually a thick 2-3 inch sphere, but sometimes I make small, one inch rounds for a party. Serve it as an appetizer with chutneys or pressed in between pav (buns) with the vada pav special chutney as the ultimate Indian burger. Stay tuned for the vada pav recipe next week.

Bonda/Batata vada

Ingredients: (makes about 12)
For the potato filling
4 large potatoes boiled
Handful fresh coriander, chopped
2-3 green chilies
1 inch ginger grated
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp amchoor (mango powder)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
2 tbsp oil
Pinch asafoetida (hing)
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
3-4 cloves of garlic, grated fine
1 small red onion, chopped
few curry leaves
For the batter
1 cup besan (chickpea flour)
pinch baking soda (optional)
Pinch turmeric powder
Salt and red pepper to taste

Oil for deep frying
  1. Mash the boiled potatoes roughly. Add green chilies, ginger, salt, pepper, turmeric and amchoor. Make sure the salt is on the lower side since the batter will be salted too. 
  2. In a pan on medium, heat oil and add hing and mustard seeds. let them crackle for a few seconds before adding curry leaves, garlic and onion. 
  3. Cook stirring often till onions turn translucent. Add the potato mixture and mix well to distribute the onion and flavored oil evenly. Cook for 3-5 minutes. Take out of the heat and mash them well. Add the coriander and mix well. Cool.
  4. When cool enough to handle, divide the mixture into 10-12 portions and shape into 2-3 inch round balls. Keep aside ready to batter.
  5. Heat the oil for frying in a deep pan while you prepare the besan batter.
  6. Mix all ingredients for the batter together and add water to form a smooth thick (pancake like consistency) batter. Make sure the batter is lump free and remember that the potato already has salt, so season the batter accordingly.
  7. Oil should not be smoking, and should be about 350 F, medium high. Check the oil temperature by putting a few drops of batter in it. If they start to sizzle and float to the surface, then the oil is ready for frying. 
  8. Coat the potato balls evenly and generously with the thick batter and gently slide into the oil. They should completely immerse in oil. Fry on medium heat till golden and crisp on all sides. 
  9. Remove with a slotted spoon on a paper towel lined plate to eliminate any excess oil. 
  10. Serve hot with mint chutney and chili garlic chutney.