Lotus Stem / Kamal Kakdi / Nadru Shami kebab


One of my favorite vegetables is lotus stem / kamal kakdi / bhee or nadru as it is called in Kashmir. Versatile and deliciously crisp and with a lovely pattern inside this rhizome can be used in curries, stir fry, kebabs, koftas, pickles, chips, honey glazed crisps, stews and much more. I have a recipe of Kashmiri Nadru Yakhini that you can try. Lotus stem is also very high in iron, calcium and dietary fibers.

The vegetable loses color very fast when peeled and cut so it is better to keep it in water. It also has a short shelf life so needs to be refrigerated. The tender fresh lotus stem oozes out a milky substance that’s the sign if freshness. Choose the creamy white, unblemished ones.

Nadru kebab or lotus stem kebabs are an exotic starter for the vegetarians. Many people think that vegetarian kebabs are an oxymoron but the vegetarian kebabs are as delicious as their cousins and are light on palate too.   So what if they do not come from the lamb shoulder (Gosht). If made correctly you can not tell the difference between a mutton shammi and a bhee shammi. That’s how delicious they are. It is amazing what all you can do with it.

So, let us get straight to the recipe:

Ingredients – 

Tender fresh Lotus stem – 3-4 small

Boiled Potato – 1 medium size

Ginger – 1 tbsp, finely chopped

Green chilies – 2-3, finely chopped

Fresh coriander leaves – 2 tbsp – finely cjhopped

Ghee – for shallow frying

Cloves – 4-5

Black cardamom – 2

Green cardamom – 3-4

Cinnamon stick – 1 inch

Bay leaves – 2

Black peppercorns –  6-8

Freshly ground pepper – 1/4 tsp

Kashmiri red chili powder – to taste

Garam masala powder – 1/4 tsp

Chaat masala – 1/4 tsp

Roasted cumin powder – 1/4 tsp

Salt – to taste

Clove, nutmeg and mace powder 2-3 pinches

Fennel powder – 1/4 tsp

Onion -1 medium

Bread crumbs or Popped amaranth seeds – for coating (optional)

Sattu / roasted chana dal power – 2-3 tbsp or as required.

Steps :

Choose the lotus stem that is sealed from both end to avoid dirt inside. Prefer the tender ones as they will be less fibrous and easy to cook.

Wash, peel and cut the lotus stem in 2 inch cubes. In a pressure cooker add the cubes with all the whole spices and just enough water to cook. ( The bhee should be submerged). Give it 2-3 whistles. It should break easily but still be firm.

Meanwhile thinly slice the onions and fry them in a little ghee till they are crisp. It should be done on low flame to ensure even browning. Take them out and make a paste of these crisp onions on a silbatta or roughly grind. This is optional and you can add finely chopped raw onion to the mix or avoid it too. Browning of onion gives the kababs a nice taste.  1-2 tbsp of this paste is enough.

Drain the water and whole spices, cool and grate the lotus stem. Also grate/ mash the boiled potato.  Grating the lotus stem helps it retain the meat like texture.

In a large bowl, add the grated lotus stem, potato, green chili, chopped ginger, coriander greens,  onion ( chopped or browned paste) all the powdered spices, salt, sattu and mix properly. Adjust the spice threshold and the salt at this point.

Make walnut size balls and flatten them to make shammi kababs. Roll them on bread crumbs or crushed cornflakes or popped ramdana as I did. You can omit this step too. The coating makes the kebabs crisp.

Heat a non stick taw or  frying pan and add some ghee to it for shallow frying the kababs. Keep the flame to medium so that the kebabs get cooked properly from inside too.

Place one kabab to test that it retains the shape, if it does add a few more but DO NOT crowd the tawa as the ghee temperature will lower and the kebabs won’t fry properly.

If the kabab breaks, add a little more binding to the mixture.

Once the kababs turn nice  brown from one side, flip and let it brown from the other side as well.

Take them out on absorbent paper to remove excess ghee.

Serve these delicious nadru shami kababs with mint coriander green chutney, onion rings and lemon quarters.

Note :

Use ghee, it is the game changer. No compromise on this.

I usually add soaked chana dal to the  lotus stem while boiling and grind it on sil batta instead of using gram flour ( besan) or sattu. If you wish to make it with chana dal, soak 1/2 cup chana dal for 2-3 hours and then add to the lotus stem and whole spices while you pressure cook.  Once cooked, take it out and grind. You can also roast the dry dal and grind to a coarse powder and add. I like the taste of sattu but omit if using chana daal.

Onion is optional too. The kababs taste awesome without it too.

Some people blend the lotus stem mixture to a fine paste for kababs but I prefer them to be a little meaty. Grating is a better option in my opinion.

I don’t add too much potato, just enough to help in binding.

If you make these do let me know your experience.

bon appetit


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Spiced Apple Chutney With Caramelized Onion, Indian Gooseberry & Dried Figs


 

Autumn is a beautiful season and fall recipes warm the cockles of my heart. The market is flooded with variety of apples and the Indian Gooseberry is in the season. I usually make Amla Jam / Apple Jam or a combination but it has been years since I did a proper spiced apple chutney. A perfect accompaniment with roasted chicken, lamb, tenderloin, ham slices, pork chops, pan seared lamb or salmon,  or cheese slices especially Cheddar. You can eat it in sandwiches, quiches, vegetable tarts, parathas or anything that could do with a flavor lift. Add it to your overnight oats bowl, smoothie bowl or parfait if you desire.

Sip a glass of warm mulled wine with a cheese and meat platter served with this lip smacking chutney and you are set for the holiday season.

I have a large quantity of Organically grown, chemical free super sweet and crisp Kinnaur red delicious apples from Farmer Uncle and some sour sweet golden apples lying at home.

Apart from snacking on these daily I am slowly doing some dishes with them.

This chutney is one of my favorite and tested recipes. It is hot, sweet, tangy and stays for at least a fortnight on the table.

Apples have a good amount of pectin in them so the chutney gets a great texture. I have not peeled the fruit but you can.

Two things that make this chutney flavorful without masking the flavor of the fruit are Indian gooseberry/Amla and caramelized red onions. You can omit them if you wish and the chutney will still taste awesome. If you use vinegar or apple cider then omit the lemon juice. You will have to adjust the spice threshold, sugar etc as per your taste. I prefer the natural sweetness of the fruits so add less sugar.

Spiked with the warmth of fresh ginger and the heat of red chilli this chutney is a complete winner.

Here is what you need to make it.

Ingredients : 

Apples (Use the ones available in your city), cored and peeled – 1 kg

Indian Gooseberry / Amla, chopped fine – 4 Large

Dates, pitted and chopped – 1/4 cup

Dried figs, chopped fine – 1/4 cup

Sultanas / Raisins – 150 gm

Fresh ginger root, peeled and grated – 3-4 tbsp

Lemon Juice – 3-4 tbsp (adjust as per taste if apples are not sour)

Shakkar/ powdered jaggery / granular sugar / soft brown sugar – 150 gm

Garlic cloves, chopped – 4

Onions, thinly sliced – 300 gm

Cloves- 8-10

Black peppercorns – 10-15

All spice mix – 1/2 tsp

Bay leaf – 1

Homemade garam masala powder – 1/4 tsp

Salt – As per taste

Fresh Red chilli pepper / Red jalapeno, chopped fine – 2-3

Red chili powder  / cayenne pepper / chili flakes – as per taste

Lightly roasted and ground fennel and cumin seeds – 1 tsp each

Oil – 1 tbsp

Steps – 

Cut, core and chop apples in small cubes. Peel them if you desire.  Add the lemon juice to the chopped apples so that they retain their whiteness.  Add sugar to them and mix well. Let them rest till you caramelize the onions, so that the juices are released.

Coarsely pound cloves and black peppercorns.

To caramelize Onions : Heat oil in a thick bottom large sauce pan and thinly sliced onions.  Fry them on slow medium heat so that they get evenly caramelized. I add a little salt to hasten the process. Once crisp and browned remove them to a plate and when they cool a bit crush them with fingers. (Will add pic later. Forgot to take)

In the same pan add the coarsely ground roasted cumin fennel powder and let it sizzle.

Add crushed onion, garlic, ginger, finely chopped red chili, bay leaf, dried figs, apple sugar mixture, amla, sultanas, dates, raisins, ground clove+black peppercorn and let it all cook on steady simmer on medium high heat. (Add vinegar or apple cider if using at this point.)

Keep stirring so that it  doesn’t catch or burn on the bottom of the pan. Once the apples soften and resemble a puree, add the salt, red chili flakes, chili powder, all spice mix, garam masala and mix well so that the spices coat the fruit properly.

Let it simmer on low heat til it reaches a jam consistency. Keep stirring in between and you will notice the change in texture and consistency. It will become syrupy and the apples too will become caramelized.

Once the chutney has thickened draw the wooden spoon across the chutney and if no liquid fills the gap then it is ready. Otherwise cook for some more time.

Turn off the gas and let it rest for 10 minutes in the pan.

Spoon the warm chutney in sterilized or clean glass jars and seal and store.

Once open, use within a fortnight and keep in the fridge. Though I usually don’t refrigerate.

Enjoy this perfectly savory and chunky side to your meals.

Indian Masala Omelette With Multi Grain Paratha And Spiced Apple Chutney

Note : You can keep this chutney a little syrupy too. Makes it easy to spread. I have kept it dry for a purpose. Add 1/2 Cup –  Fresh Apple along with chopped apples if you like a wet chutney.

Teaser Of ‘Wayfaring’ And Nine Years Of blogging With WordPress


Today Spinning A Yarn Of Life completed nine years on WordPress though I have been blogging for twelve years now.

It has been a beautiful journey of love, support, appreciation, milestones and interactions with hundreds of readers whom I have never met in life and those whom I have met and interacted at personal level too. A journey with fantastic Indiblogger and Blogadda, the two biggest platforms for Indian blogs.

I got featured in India’s Top Blog’s for five consecutive years and the stats show that during these nine years 2,797 good people began to follow my blog. The blog hits have crossed  715,062 hits which in itself is amazing. Yes, numbers do matter here.

I appreciate that out of millions of blogs you chose to come to mine and stayed. I express my gratitude and love to each one of you. Do keep leaving your views so I can know where to improve.

I guess everything happens at the right time.  Most of you now know how it all began and why I started this blog. I have come a long way from that stage. Time sure has flown by and there have been many new adventures and challenges along the way.

Blogging led to my poetic journey. It all started with the April Pad Challenge, 2009 by Robert Lee Brewer. From there I began to explore the world of poetry and seriously started polishing my craft. The student was ready and the teachers appeared, guiding me at all levels including the personal level. I gained courage and strength from some of the best in the field. Many of them have stayed and seen me evolve. What could be more joyful that that.

In the first blogging year itself Blogadda picked my post for their Spicy Saturday Pick. Blogging achievements are very encouraging. I also started attending the fantastic Indiblogger meets and came to know many excellent writers/ bloggers. Friendships formed, some for lifetime, and the virtual world gave me a hope to carry on with head held high.

I won the IndusLadies Mothers’ Day contest in the same year and discovered a whole new challenging world of contests. Though I do not participate in them now especially if they demand seeking public votes.

It was fun to do Tags and themed series but then I shifted to serious writing. Social issues like women’s right, VAW, child abuse etc. became my subjects. Through my personal stories I realized the power of raising the voice against wrong at all levels. People began to write to me personally how they found a different perspective to look at their lives. Some said that my personal battle and courage gave them strength. We are there to do just that. It is a common fight against all wrong.

Poetry continued and slowly I started getting published in online journals. The first break came with two poems getting published in Troubadour 21, then opportunities kept knocking the door and I never looked back.

2011 brought a pleasant surprise in the form of media mention in HT. It was a joy to find my blog listed by a national newspaper.

By now I was focusing more on my poetry. Some important publications took place, both in poetry and fiction, online and in print, that I am very proud of.  You can see the list in the pages at the top section of the blog. There were interviews and recognition for writing came from not just the blogger community but even outside it which meant a lot. (The pic is of Chennai bloggers though but then we are not divided by states. 🙂 )

The adventure continued till a major milestone in 2014. My debut poetry book got published from England. This was what I was waiting for. My hard work had paid finally. Each online publication led to this beautiful creation and I am so thankful to the editors, critics, poet friends who made this happen.

I have diversified the blog a lot during last five years  and the frequency of posts has become less but blogging still remains my first love and do plan to blog more now.

Suggestions are welcome from all my readers. Please feel free to write in.

Now we come to another milestone. My second book of poems is ready for release on 20, Nov, 2017 and here is the teaser of ‘Wayfaring’ by Leaky Boot Press.

This book is very different from the first one. In the Acknowledgement of the first book I had written. ” Out of chaos emerge new paths”. This is journey on that path, both physical and metaphysical.

I hope all of you will get a copy and write your views about how far I have come from that first step, or have I really made a mark, learned something. This book is for those who were right there  when it all begun.

The book is available to pre-order  

You can follow me on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, FB and write to me here too.

I look forward to notes from you. Keep in touch.

Support poetry. Pre-order now.

The blog is nominated for Indiblogger’s Indian Blogging awards. Do leave a note if you like my writing. Log in to Facebook to comment. Even non bloggers can show the love. 

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Thank you everyone for being there for me.

Love and Light.

Festive Recipe – Traditional Besan Laddu


 

There is no mithai more soul satisfying than perfectly made besan laddoos. I make the rawa – besan laddoos and besan barfi too but these remain my first choice. Over the years I have perfected the texture and taste of these laddoos so sharing my recipe.

Use of home made tagar or boora is the secret to the goodness of these laddoos. If I am unable to make tagar at home I go for organic, chemical free pure bura/boora. Powdered granular sugar is no match to this and isn’t used in the original prasad laddoos.

My mother is from Banaras and she fondly remembers the Sankatmochan laddoos. The subtle flavor of those besan laddoos have a mild fragrance of  tulsi ( Holy Basil) leaves which are kept along with the prasad in a palm leaf box. Usually when I make them I keep a few tulsi leaves in the box in which I store the laddoos. Just for sentimental reasons.

If you have been to Sankatmochan Mandir then these will bring back the memories for sure. Though every place has its unique experience and no laddoos can taste like the ones you get there, these come close to having the real ones. Maybe it the essence of the place that makes them very special. Do visit the mandir once at least. Everyone should experience Banaras at least once in a lifetime.

The last time I tasted Sankatmochan laddu was in March 2016, at the Banaras ka khana – showcase, a food festival at the Oberoi Hotel, Gurgaon, curated by Sangeeta khanna along with Chef Manish Sharma, Chef Ravitej Nath and team. An unforgettable experience.

I also prefer the laddoos to be mildly sweet. Too much sugar, in my opinion, masks the flavor of roasted besan. It is a personal choice. I used organic, desi, chemical free Bura in this recipe.

Ingredients : 

Chickpea flour / besan ( the coarse variety) – 300 gm

Bura Cheeni / Crystalline sugar / tagar – 150 – 200 gm

Green cardamom powder – 1/4 tsp

Ghee / Clarified butter –  150 gm ( just enough for binding)

A few Holy basil / Tulsi leaves

Steps : 

Choose a coarse variety of besan ( mota besan) to make laddoos. It gives them a good grainy texture.

Heat a thick base kadhai and lower the flame. Add besan and dry roast it till it changes color slightly. Keep stirring to avoid burning.

Add the ghee and mix it properly. Roast on low- medium flame. As you keep stirring you will notice the changes in the mixture. It will be crumbly at first then loosen up a bit as it gets roasted. The color will change to different shades of brown from the golden yellow it was. I prefer slightly more roasted laddoos. The ones  we get in the market are lighter in color. The aroma is an indicator of a well roasted besan ghee mixture. There is no word to explain it other than khamang or sondha. I hope you know what I mean.

Make sure the flame is low or the besan will either burn or get extra roasted which we do not want at any coast. Once you get the desired color, add the boora cheeni and the green cardamom powder.

Gently mix everything and roast for another 2-3 minutes. Turn off the gas and take out the mixture in a broad thali or parat or plate. You can add the tulsi leaves at this point like I did but it is not essential. I just experimented due to sheer nostalgia. Don’t bind them in laddoos.

Let the mixture become cool enough to handle and quickly make the laddoos of desired size. I make them walnut size or bite size as I call them.

If the mixture begins to solidify you can heat it again to allow ghee to melt for binding. Warm mixture binds well.

Make all the laddoos and store in an airtight container along with some tulsi leaves.

I forgot to click the step by step pictures but will add soon when the next batch is made. Will try and make tagar / boora at home and will post the recipe. 

You can add dry fruits like finely chopped almonds, raisins etc. I prefer them without any added stuff but do make some for those who prefer that.  These were made a few months back with raisins. Smaller than the walnut size I make as i noticed the familia breaking the bigger ones into half and eating. So, for small hungers. 🙂

 

On that note, Happy festivities to all my readers. Stay blessed and loved. Ignore the bad photography skills. Make these and trust me all you will ever remember is the taste.