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.

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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.

 

 

Durga Ashtami : All about kale chane and halwa poori prasad


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Durga Ashtami prasad is one of my favorite meals. We never celebrated sharad navratri festival at home so I was basically unaware of the rituals till we shifted to Delhi in 1972.  As a little girl the festival brought cheer and good food. I would wait for the navratra to end so I could gorge on the  lip smacking halwa and chana ghugni with hot crisp puffed up poories and collect my kanjak gifts too. It seemed like an achievement to visit a good number of houses and come loaded with money, gifts and food in that order.

The food would be deposited on the dinning table. I would stash away the money and open the gifts. In between I would take spoonfuls of chana or halwa and wonder how the same chana ghughni which is staple of our daily food suddenly tasted unbelievably different and delicious. Perhaps it was the joy and fervor with which it was prepared and consumed that made the difference.

I felt all important after the kanya pujan etc though with time my thoughts about kanjak or kanya pujan ( worshiping the little girls) changed. We also discussed who made the best halwa poori in the neighborhood and who gave the best gift or was generous with money. It was heartbreaking to grow up as it meant no more kanjak invites to me.

It was only after my marriage that I learned to make the actual prasad the way devotees make it as a bhog  to Goddess Durga, It was made with utmost piety and devotion. No one would eat before the kanjak was fed. One would enter the kitchen only after taking a bath and changing into new clothes. Especial care was taken about hygiene, puja thali was prepared before beginning to make the bhog, etc etc. The boys felt left out and declined to help call the girls (kanjaks). I wonder if they hated that more, or being famished or delivering prasads to immediate neighbors’ whose daughters couldn’t come. The aroma from the kitchen didn’t help much.

It was tough to catch hold of the little ones as they fluttered from one place to another while we waited to hog the food. My MIL grumbled at our lack of ‘sanskars’ but eventually we managed to gather eight girls ( all below nine years of age) and one little boy considered to be Hanumanji’s avtar. MIL had a name for the boy which I can’t recall.

I remembered my granny telling how putting good thoughts in food while cooking makes it good for our bodies and mind. Maybe this is what she meant and did on a daily basis. The art of cooking and eating with mindfulness and gratitude.

Let’s get back to Kala chana ghugni which is made without onion and garlic for the prasad but on other days it has a few variants. I used to make it for lunchboxes, travel meals, afternoon snacks and as a main dish for breakfast and lunch too.

These days this ritual of making Ashtami prasad is a part of nostalgia. I have used ghee to make the sookhe chane or chana ghugni.

You can find the Suji Halwa recipe here.

 

Recipe for chana ghugni or kanjakwale sookhe chane 

Ingredients : 

Black Chickpea | Kala Chana – 250 gm

Green chili – 3-4

Cumin seeds – 1 tsp

Fresh grated ginger – 1 inch piece

Ghee | Clarified butter – 2 tbsp

Coriander Powder – 3 tbsp

Ajwain – 1/4 tsp

Red chili powder – 1/2 tsp

Chana masala or amchur – 1/2 tsp

Fresh coriander leaves, chopped – 2 tsp ( optional)

Steps : 

Wash and soak kala chana overnight in a container.

In the morning drain the water and wash the chana again. Pressure cook it with ajwain, salt and two cups of water till the chana becomes soft but doesn’t get mashed up.

Strain the chana water in a bowl for later use.

In a cast iron pan heat ghee and add cumin seeds. When they crackle add green chili and boiled chana minus the water.  Slightly mash some of them.

Add the spice powders and stir on medium flame. Slowly add the chana water and turn the flame on high so that the water gets absorbed in the chana and the spices get coated properly. Turn off the gas and cover the pan till you are ready to serve.

While the chana water is getting evaporated prepare a tight dough for the poori / puri and keep a kadhayi to heat the oil for frying.

 

Poori Ingredients : 

Wholewheat flour | Atta – 2 Cup

Oil – 2 tbsp

Salt – 1 tsp

Water – as needed to knead the dough

Oil for deep frying – about 2-3 Cups

Method:

Mix atta, oil and salt in a large bowl then slowly add water to knead a firm, smooth dough. It should not be too soft or sticky. Cover it with a damp cloth.

Make small balls and roll them out to make the poories. Use a little oil instead of dry flour if needed.

Heat the oil for frying in a large kadhai. Drop a small pinch of dough to test if the oil is hot enough for frying.  The little ball should fry and rise quickly. Discard it.

Put in the poories one by one. Turn the poori within a few seconds of sliding it in oil and press it lightly with a slotted spoon. It will start puffing up uniformly.  Keep adjusting the flame so the oil doesn’t get too cold or too hot.

Turn the poori again and cook till light reddish brown in color. I prefer them this way.

Drain the oil by holding it in the slotted spoon against the inner side of kadhayi. Remove and put on a paper towel. or clean white sheet of paper. Make all the remaining puris similarly.

Serve the hot poories with suji halwa and delicious chana ghugni. You can serve home cultured curd or raita with it. If not making for prasad or bhog you can serve a pickle on the side too.

 

May you discover the Dugra that lies within you. You are She and She is You.

Happy Ashtami and festive season to all.

 

 

 

Nadru Yakhni ( Lotus Stem In Yogurt Gravy ) – Two Versions


I love Kashmiri cuisine. Shab Deg, Goshtaba, Rogan Josh, Rista, Yakhni , Dum Olav, Modur Pulav, you name it and I can live on it for the rest of my life. Rich in flavors and mild in taste these dishes are to die for. I so want to learn to cook the non vegetarian dishes but seldom get the chance but I did prepare one of my vegetarian favorites Nadru Yakhni.

This was my second attempt and turned out to be delicious though perhaps not so close to the authentic one Kashmiri pandits make. Preparing gravies for Kashmiri cuisine is a labor of love as it involves slow simmering to get the aromatic flavors from the spices like cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, aniseed, fennel powder, cumin and Hing which gives them a distinct flavor and transforms the dish totally. No Onion, garlic is used in these gravies.

The picture is not very good but I will replace it with a nice one next time when I make the dish. The ones below look better. 🙂

The taste is awesome that I can assure you.

Anything with curd is a summer favorite and Nadru Yakhni is such a beautiful dish. Lotus stem / bhen / nadroo or nadru in rich yogurt base infused with cardamoms, clove, bay leaves and dry ginger, fennel makes it a delicacy that is beyond compare. A friend told me that it is usually the part of  Koshur Saal. 

Lotus stem may not be very appealing to look at but from inside it is white and has a lovely pattern. Apart from the nice crunch it has loads of iron, dietary fiber and calcium.

I love lotus stem and prepare it the Punjabi way with fried onions, tomatoes and spices or the Sindhi way which is somewhat similar. I also do a stir fry sometimes and make kebabs which can beat any non vegetarian kebabs.

Now the Nadur Yakhni Recipe  (Kashmiri Pandits’ Version) 

Ingredients :

Lotus Stem / Bhe / Nadru – 1 Kg (Long Thick and preferably closed at both ends)

Ghee / Clarified Butter / mustard oil – 5 tbs

Dry Ginger Powder (Shonth)  – 1 – 1/1/2 tsp

Black Cardamom –  Seeds from 4 (powdered)

Green Cardamom – seeds from 4 (powdered)

Fennel Powder (Baadyan) – 3 tsp

Clove – 4-5

Asafoetida (Yenga) – 1/4 tsp dissolved in a tsp of water

Full Fat Beaten Curd –  3 Cups (Room temperature)

Coriander leaves – For garnish

Cinnamon Stick –  1/2 inch

Sugar – 1/2 tsp

Salt – to taste

Cumin Seeds – 1 tsp

Shahi Zeera – 1 tsp

Water – 3 Cups

Mix whole cardamoms – 2 queen cardamom crushed, 2 green cardamom crushed)

Coriander Leaves – for garnish

Steps –

Wash, scrape and clean the lotus stems. Make sure there is no dirt inside the holes. Use a knitting needle to get rid of that.

Cut them diagonally / Slants   and keep them immersed in lukewarm water or they will lose color and turn brown.

In a heavy bottom sauce pan or pressure cooker put the nadru pieces, 1/2 tsp of salt, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, cloves, crushed whole cardamoms, whole peppercorns, salt and two glasses of water. Cook till tender but not mushy. They must retain the crunch. Cooking time will depend on the quality of nadru.

Heat the ghee in a pan and add zeera and asafoetida along with the beaten curd. Keep stirring or the curd will curdle. Let it come to a boil then get a silk like smooth texture.

Add the powdered spices, dry ginger powder, continue to stir. Rub the shahi zeera in palms and add.

Add the boiled nadru along with the spice flavored water.  Continue to boil for at least 10-20 minutes on low heat. There should be thick rich gravy coating the nadru pieces. Check for spices and salt and add if needed.

Remove from heat and spoon it in a serving dish. Garnish with fresh chopped coriander leaves if desired.

Serve with hot rice.

Tips-

You can fry the whole spices in a tablespoon of ghee before adding to the nadru while boiling. Reserve this ghee and pour it on the top of the finished dish before serving.

You can slightly fry the nadru pieces in a little ghee before boiling. They will retain the color and crunch. Do not brown them.

Make sure to blend curd properly so that there are no pieces in it. I usually pulse it in a mixer.

Karusi methi or dried crushed fenugreek leaves are used in the original recipe. Put 1/2 tsp  at the end if using.

Nadru Yakhni With Pran (Onion Paste) – Wazwan style

This nadru yakhni Wazwan style that I made today is fiery and has browned onion paste in it. This is my version and so looks different from the authentic. I think it looks like a cross between a rogan josh and yakhni curry. 🙂 But, it tastes incredible. Put a little less pran and chilies and you will have a light brownish white original curry.

The Muslims of Kashmir add Pran or Kashmiri Onion paste to their version otherwise the cooking process is same.

To make Pran you need to slice about 450gm of small red onions/ shallots thinly and sprinkle some salt so they release water. Keep them for 3-4 minutes and squeeze out the water. Fry them slowly in ghee till golden brown and  take them out on absorbent kitchen paper to remove excess ghee. Put them in a grinder and make a smooth paste. Add 2 tablespoons of Praan after the zeera crackles and saute it before adding curd. I also add Kashmiri red chilli powder and 2 tsp of whole black pepper corns while boiling the lotus stems so it is fiery and aromatic at the same time.

You can make a quicker version by heating the mustard oil or ghee in the pressure cooker and adding the whole spices, raw lotus stem pieces and frying a bit then adding the pran and then the curd mixture infused with ground spices and salt. Add water and pressure cook for 4-5 whistles or till the lotus stem pieces are tender but not mushy. Cook on low – medium flame so that the curd doesn’t curdle. The nadru crunch should remain. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with chapati or rice.

 

 

 

 

Dahi Poha ( Curd And Flattened Rice Porridge Bowl ) – Nutritious Gluten Free Breakfast


I had no idea about Poha being probitotic till I read Sangeeta Khanna’s post on it. I knew of it’s other nutritive qualities as it has been a part of our daily meals since I was a baby.We make Poha in various ways.  Here is a link to one of the previous posts that will tell you more about the benefits of eating this gluten free, probiotic option as your meal. Raw Mango Poha  

Do look up the other sweet and savory recipes with poha on my blog where I have used both white and brown flattened rice.

I have used home cultured yogurt in this recipe. Both yogurt and flattened rice are light on our digestive system and thus good for the gut flora. This is a great replacement to the packed cereals, oats etc. You must have eaten overnight oats with nuts, seeds, dry fruits and fresh fruits, just replace the oats with soaked poha/chiwda and you’ll have a nutritious instant cold porridge.

Ingredients : 

Soaked flattened rice flakes / Poha / Chiwda

Chilled Home Cultured Curd (Preferred)

Mixed seeds/almonds

Dates/dried fig

Honey (Optional)

Pinch of salt

Steps : 

Rinse the poha in a colander under filtered water and leave for sometime so that all the water gets drained out.

Mix honey in curd and blend with spoon till smooth.

Add soaked poha to it and mix well. Add a pinch of salt and all the chopped nuts, fruits, seeds you desire.

I have used banana, dates, soaked and skinned almonds, soaked raisins in this version.

The cold porridge is ready to eat.

Here’s another version with Organic apples, almonds, soaked dried figs, soaked and roasted walnuts and soaked pumpkin seeds. I used the soaking water of the figs to sweeten the curd. No added sugar.

Try different toppings to break the monotony. You can turn it into a parfait or a smoothie too. Another wonderful option is to make it savory and season with mustard seeds and curry leaves. Recipe in the first link. 

 

 

Power Packed Dry Fruit And Sattu (Roasted Chickpea Flour) Ladoo (No Cooking)


Easy, nutritious bite size gluten free ladoos that can be made in less than 15 minutes. There is no added sweetener and you can omit the ghee in case you want to make it totally guilt free. Though I must tell you that ghee or clarified butter is good for health if used in moderation.

I already have one more sattu laddoo recipe on my blog. Those are the plain ones. You can check them by clicking on the link. Chana Sattu Laddoo  This post also has the recipe to make sattu at home.

Sattu  is the cheapest source of protein you can get. You can make it from bhuna chana or roasted chickpeas that are easily available in the market. Once you grind them and make it into flour it doesn’t need any roasting or cooking for using in any of the dishes. It has low Glycemic Index and high fiber content and is one of the highest sources of vegetarian proteins that is easily digestible and also of calcium and magnesium. It provides iron too.

I have some recipes with sattu in my blog which you can explore later.  Read all about it in the post link posted above.

I have used popped amaranth in these laddoos. You can see another recipe here –

Popped amaranth dry fruit Laddoo  

Popped amaranth contains a whooping  9 gm of complete protein in one cup. Much more than the much touted quinoa.

Enjoy this as a post or pre-workout snack. Pack it in tiffin box for kids or eat whenever small hunger strikes.

Actually I wanted to make the dry fruit laddu minus these two ingredients and then I got greedy and added them too to make this a combo power ball of nutrition.

There are no strict measurements but still I will give you an approximate idea.

Ingredients :

Fresh homemade Chana Sattu – 100 gm

Pitted dates – 10

Dried figs – 6-8

Mixed nuts ( soaked, roasted and chopped fine) – 1/2 cup

Mixed seeds  ( soaked & roasted) – 4 tablespoon

Raisins – 10-15

Cardamom Powder – 1/4 tsp

Ghee (warmed) – 1 tbsp ( optional)

Steps :

Gather all the ingredients in one place.

For just the dry fruit laddoo,  blend dates and figs coarsely in a mixer then remove it in a plate. Pulse the chopped dry fruits, raisins, seeds coarsely. ( if you chop very fine then omit this step)

In a large bowl mix the date and fig mixture with the chopped nuts and seeds mixture. Rub in with your fingers so that both the mixtures get properly incorporated. Now make small bite size balls and store in an airtight container. If you heat the dates/figs then the shelf life is more.

To make the ladoo / laddu with sattu :

Coarsely pulse the chopped dates and figs in a blender.

In a large bowl take sattu, add the dates/figs mixture and the finely chopped or coarsely ground nuts/seeds mixture, popped amaranth and warm ghee ( if using).

Now rub in with your fingers so that the the entire mixture resembles a crumble. Keep mixing with fingers  till it starts looking like a dough.

Now, make bite size balls or ladoos with it.

Store in an airtight container.

Note –  It is totally up to you to soak the seeds or nuts. I soaked them for 6 hours and then let them dry overnight. Roasted them very lightly before mixing for ladoo. I didn’t soak the dates and figs.

Moisture will reduce the shelf life so you take a call on this. If the dates / figs are very dry you can microwave them in a safe dish for a minute or two.

The sweetness of the ladoos will depend on the amount and quality of dates/figs you have used. Once the mixture is ready and you find it less sweet for your taste then add a little honey. I prefer to keep it low in sweetness.

I used almonds, pistachio, cashew, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, organic popped amaranth seeds for this recipe.  You can use whatever combination you desire.

Slightly roasted grated dry coconut can also be added.

You can change the proportions according to the number of ladoos you wish to make.

Usal – Misal Pav Recipe


Misal pav is one of the most popular Mumbai street food. Wholesome, delicious and full of flavors this dish is made from whole bean sprouts especially sprouted moth beans or Turkish beans. You can use mixed sprouts too. The curry is a fiery melange of fresh spices, sprouts, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, and farsan. Misal is usually served at breakfast but you can eat it any time of the day. Pav can be bought or made at home with whole wheat.

Every place in Maharashtra has its own variation of Misal. I have had Puneri misal on many occasions and once had a taste of kolhapuri misal in mumbai that set my insides on fire. Too spicy, too oily, too rich for me but those who have a penchant for fiery food this dish is a must.  The original recipe requires a lot of oil but you may cut the oil and spices according to your taste. Then there is the Nasik Maratha style misal that uses the aromatic kala masala and lot more red chilli spiced oil that floats atop the misal. There is a debate on whether the goda masala and kala masala are the same. I think they taste very different. I have used goda masala in this recipe.

You can keep the gravy (Kat) and the usal separately or mix them. The advantage of keeping Kat separate is that one can adjust the amount of spiced curry.

Usal is made from sprouted moth beans and has its own place in maharashtriyan households. When topped with Kat, chopped onions, chopped tomatoes and farsan it is becomes Misal.

The process is a bit lengthy but worth all the effort if you get it right. I have made it only thrice but I love to  dunk the pav in this spicy dish anytime.

Making misal pav is a two part process.  We make the Kat ( the gravy) and the usal (the sprout dish).

Here is the list of ingredients you will require:

Pav buns ( traditionally ladi pav buns are used) – 6

Butter to toast the pav

Sprouts (mixed or moth bean srouts) – 2 cups

Tomatoes – 2 large

Potatoes  – 2 medium size cubed

Onions –  2 large finely chopped

Fresh corriender greens – 1/4 cup

Farsan ( spicy snack mixture)

Grated dry coconut – 2 tablespoon

Goda masala or achar (pickle) masala – 2 tablespoon

Green chili – 2

Ginger – 1/2 inch

Garlic – 6-7 pods

Cumin seed powder – 1 teaspoon

Corriender powder – 2 tablespoon

Red chili powder –  1 tablespoon

Mustard seeds – 1 teaspoon

Turmeric powder – 1 teaspoon

Garam Masala – 1/4 teaspoon

Salt – to taste

Curry leaves – 8-10

Oil – 2 tablespoon

 

To make the paste for the gravy (Kat in Marathi)

Make a paste of ginger ,garlic and green chilies.

In a pan heat some oil. Once the oil heats up add asafedita powder and this paste. Stir properly.

Add chopped onion and when the onions become translucent add grated coconut. Stir and add chopped tomatoes. Sauté them till the tomatoes become soft and the mixture blends into a smooth paste. Add coriander powder, turmeric powder, goda masala, cumin powder, red chili powder and salt. Once the masala starts to leave oil take it out to cool.

When the masala cools completely, put it in a grinder jar and grind to a fine paste.

In a pan heat some oil and add mustard seeds. Once they begin to sputter, add curry leaves and the masala paste you had prepared.  fry it well and add two – three cups of water. Kat is a watery gravy so don’t hesitate to add adequate water. Let it boil for ten minutes or till the reddish oil floats to the top.

To make Usal

In a pressure cooker add some oil. Once the oil heats, add mustard seeds, asafetida powder,  curry leaves, paste of ginger garlic, some chopped onion and stir.

When the onion become translucent, add washed matki sprouts  and cubed potatoes.  Stir well.

Add a little turmeric powder, a little garam masala and pinch of salt. Add some water to cover the sprouts completely.

Pressure cook  till three whistles. Usal should not be watery but still have some gravy.

Turn off the heat and let the cooker cool.

Spoon the usal in a serving dish.

To toast the Pav –

Slice the pav buns  and toast them slightly in butter in a pan or just warm them. They should be soft and nice so don’t toast for long. I recommend roasting in butter.

To assemble the Misal –

In a deep dish first add two ladels of matki usal and one ladle of kat( the fiery gravy). The nadd a layer of chopped onions and chopped coriander greens. The third layer must be of farsan/ sev or whichever spicy gathia mixture you have. Squeeze generous amount of lemon juice.

Serve it hot with toasted pav.

You can serve kat, usal and farsan, chopped onions, chopped tomatoes and lemon pieces in separate bowls too. People can mix them as per their taste.

Alternately if you know that everyone in the family has a liking for hot and spicy curries, you can mix the usal in the kat and boil for some time. Serve with chopped onions, tomatoes, farsan and lemon wedges.

Notes –

You can eat usal with bhakri or roti too.

Some people like to have curd or butttermilk with misal pav to balance the heat from the curry.

Adjust the oil and chili according to your preferences. This is my version of misal pav, you can make your own.

The authentic misal pav uses a typical masala called goda masala. You get it in the market. You can also use Maharashtriyan achar ka masala which gives the misal a unique tastes. If you don’t have any of these, you can use the usual garam masala though the misal will taste different.

I don’t get all the ingredients for goda masala but I make this mix which you can try too. I will post the recipe for it in the next post.

 

To make the bean sprouts –  Wash moth or matki beans properly and soak them in water overnight in a covered container. Once the beans swell, take them out in a sieve and wash a few times under filtered water. Put the sieve on a small container and cover loosely with muslin cloth. Keep in dark place till the sprouts appear. Wash the sprouted beans properly under running filtered water before using.

 

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Shevgyachya Shenganchi Amti |Drumsticks Amti Dal


This recipe post has a little story. A childhood story before plastic took over our lives. We always ate in thalis which were either made of steel or brass even copper. Mainly steel.

We had a low table or chowki and patras with it to sit.  Sometimes we used a chatayi or woven mat too. Food was served in thali and karoti and these small tumblers had tak/ mattha/buttermilk or water. They were always kept on the left side of the thali. Most of the utensils and furniture etc was given away when I was growing up because my parents kept moving from one place to another and carrying too many things was a headache. Mom still managed to save some heirlooms like a betel nut cutter ( sarota), karanji maker and spoon, a few lotas of different shapes and sizes, katoris and thalis, a few brass and copper cooking utensils, milk pots and some other stuff like bolti or morali/vili, a grinding stone, pestle and mortar etc.

This small thali seen here is about 59 years old. It was given to mom when my brother was born, mine is slightly bigger but I loved to eat in this one. Little thali, a small katori and a tiny tumbler. It fitted perfectly in the imaginary tales I spun all day as a kid. As I grew up things changed and reluctantly we shifted to melamine / china/ glass plates but now i’m going back to thalis.

Today I was reminiscent of my aaji ( maternal grandmother) and of many other things that were part of my childhood and growing up years and I wondered how does one feel eating in old utensils that have been a part of so many kitchen stories. I can tell you there is a certain joy and fulfillment that only these utensils can provide. It is the same with food. There are some soul foods that stay with you from your childhood to old age and as you grow older you crave for them more. Varan Bhat and Amti bhat are two such dishes. You can call them pillars of daily Maharashtriyan cuisine.

Simple, soulful and full of good nutrition, I love amti in all forms poured over hot steamed rice with a generous helping of hot ghee over it. Not many dishes can give me the kind of satisfaction like this does. I make it with or without coconut and with different lentils. All have their unique tastes but this particular one I like the most. A comfort food for all times made with toor dal / arhar dal / split pigeon pea, goda masala, tamarind and jaggery or kokum and jaggery for that tangy sweet taste. The flavor from kokum is distinctly different from the tamarind one. I have used soaked dry kokum here.

A typical meal for me would be steamed rice / bajra bhakri, garlic chutney or lime pickle, stuffed brinjals with in peanut gravy, aamti , fresh buttermilk and salt on side. Maybe a bowl of shrikhand or a peda to go with it. No other meals can beat it.

This amti has the goodness of tender drumsticks or sehjan ki phali or moringa pods which I love to suck on taking in the sweet flavorful flesh from inside.

Ingredients : 

Toor dal / arhar dal / split pigeon peas – 1/2 Cup

Tender drumsticks – 4 medium

Onion – 1 large

Curry leaves – 6-8

Kokum – 3 -4  or tamarind pulp as desired ( approx – 2 tbsp

Asafoetida – 2 pinch

Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp

Red chilli powder –  to taste

Whole red chlli – 1=-2

Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp

Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp

Fenugreek seeds – 1/2 tsp

Goda masala ( I used homemade) – 2 tbsp

Jaggery – 1-2 tbsp

Ghee / clarified butter –  3-4 tbsp

Chopped coriander leaves – 2-3 tbsp

Grated coconut – 1/4 Cup ( optional ) ( I didn’t use)

Grated ginger – 1 tsp

Steps : 

  1. Wash and soak toor dal for 15 minutes then pressure cook it with grated ginger, salt, turmeric powder, asafoetida for 3-4 whistles or until soft.
  2. Soak kokum / tamarind ( if not using the seedless pulp) in warm water for 20 min and then mash the tamarind into a clear paste ( remove threads / seeds etc) .No need to mash kokum, just throw t in the dal later while seasoning.
  3. Chop onions in big chucks. 6-8 pieces of a large onion.
  4. Wash cut and steam the drumsticks. Check to rule out the bitterness.
  5. Once the dal is done, take a masher and totally mash the dal till it is one smooth mix. Add a cup of water and boil on low flame.
  6. add the kokum or tamarind paste at this time to dal.
  7. Add the goda masala to dal and stir. Also add the jaggery and give it a nice stir so that it melts nicely.
  8.  on the other side, heat a pan, add ghee ( Ghee brings out the best taste in amti). Once ghee warms up add cumin seeds, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds and let them splutter.
  9. Add pinch of asafoetida again, whole red chilli, curry leaves and onion pieces. fry them till onions are translucent. Add grated coconut if using and stir. Add the steamed / boiled drumsticks. Stir and add a little chilli powder. Let it cook for a minute or two.
  10. gently pour the dal over this seasoning and give a nice stir. Check for sweet, salt and spice and make changes as per your taste. It must have a nice tangy sweet flavor spiced by goda masala.
  11. Let it boil for a while. Add water if the amti seems thick. It is supposed to be a little runny and usually thickens after cooling so keep a little more watery than usual dal. Discard the kokum pieces.
  12. Garnish with freshly chopped coriander leaves and serve with hot steamed rice or bhakri.

It is essential to pour some hot ghee over amti bhat. It enhances the flavors and gives a lovely taste to the dish.

Note :

I used onion but traditionally no onion is used in this amti.

You can buy goda masala or amti masala from the stores or make them at home too.

Do let me know if you make this.

Khubani Ki Barfi | Apricot Fudge


I have a weakness for fresh apricots but when they are not in season I go for the dried ones. Usually I make the khubani ka meetha, the traditional exotic dessert from Hyderabad with the whole dried apricots but for the other recipes like this one I use the other variety. I try to get the ones not treated with sulfur as far as possible. The organic ones are darker in color and have a coarse texture.

Apricot is one of the stone fruits that has glorious orange color when cooked. I make compote, jam, chutney, roast or caramelize them. I also poach them with cinnamon and other autumnal spices. Apricots pair magically with chicken dishes so I use them in baked dishes or casseroles too. They taste fabulous in sorbet too.

The healthier use is to toss them in salads apart from just having it as it is. The dried fruit is full of carotenoide and potassium. Rich in fiber content it has low glycemic index and fat, it is also packed with many essential nutrients.

So, you see summers are not just about mangoes, they are also about these lovely stone fruits. You can see some more of my recipes with apricots Here and Here. I will be putting up more with the dried ones later.

This Fudge or Barfi is practically a cross between khubani ka meetha and apricot halwa. I prefer to cut it in squares or rectangles but you can make ladoos from it too. There are many variations of this fudge. One is with fresh pitted dates that does not require any sugar and is healthier. I use lots of nuts ( powdered or coarsely grounded) in these fudges or ladoos. I also add dried figs to make them power packed with nutrients. The natural sugars make them sweet so there is no need to add the commercial sugar.

The spices used are mostly green cardamom and clove powder. I use saffron when I want to indulge. It is optional.  I am sure you’ll the flavor and texture of this barfi. A little chewy and grainy unlike other burfis, this one is also gluten free.

Ingredients : 

Dried Apricots – 400 gm

Sugar – 1/2 Cup ( as required) (Not required if you use Sweetened condensed milk)

Sweetened condensed milk- 4 tbsp

Saffron – 4-6 threads ( soaked in a little warm water)

Dry fruits – Nuts of your choice ( almonds/ pistachios pair well)

Edible Silver leaf (vark)  – Optional

Cloves – 4-5  ( freshly ground in to a fine powder)

Green cardamom seeds – 3-4 ( freshly ground in to a fine powder )

Ghee –  2-3 tbsp

Steps :

If using whole dry apricots, soak them in warm water till they become plump and then remove the stone. To use pitted ones either add enough water to cover them and microwave for 20 seconds on high or soak for an hour at least in warm water.  Use just enough water as we will not use it in the recipe.

Drain the water once the fruit is plump and chop is roughly. Put in a blender and make a coarse puree. I love the little pieces in the fudge. They give the barfi a nice texture.

Heat a non stick pan or wok and add ghee. Once it melts add the pureed apricots and stir on a medium low heat. Let it cook for 5-10 minutes till the rawness goes. ( Don’t brown it)

Add sugar or condensed milk and stir till the mixture comes together and the ghee leaves the sides. Add the chopped nuts and saffron and mix well. I sometimes powder the nuts as a few elders find it difficult to eat chopped nuts. You may adjust sugar as per your need. I prefer the slight tang of the fruit and like my barfi less sweet.

Cook for another 10 minutes on low heat.

Meanwhile take a tray / plate / low cake tin / cookie sheet and grease it with ghee. I used the foil to line it but realized it sticks to the fudge even when greased so avoid.

Let the mixture cool and the transfer it to the greased tray. Spread evenly and garnish with shredded nuts and edible silver leaf if using.

Let it now set for  till you feel it can be cut easily. As the burfi is grainy and more halwa like it will be good to refrigerate  the  ready mix for a while before cutting.

Cut into squares or rectangles and serve. You can store it in an airtight container and keep in fridge for a day or two.

I made it for my niece and she loved it. If you make it then do let me know in the comment section.

Tip:

At the stage when the mixture is ready to be transferred you can simply spoon it out in a bowl and garnish to serve as a halwa too. Eat it warm unlike the cooled fudge.

If you use dates and / or / dried figs in this recipe then soak them similarly and blend in to a coarse grainy mixture. You need not use sugar or condensed milk. Use less ghee in this version.

I also discovered that greasing the tray with an oil spray is better as ghee tends to become condensed as the mixture cools and then it’s tough to cut the barfi neatly. It sticks to the tray. You may sometime have to five it the desired shape by pressing gently with the fingers.

You can try cinnamon to spice it. Omit the green cardamom.

 

Spiced Banana Raisin Loaf


There was a time I used to make banana bread regularly then one day it all stopped. Some 15 years back a loaf of banana bread lovingly baked was tucked away in a steel container and shoved on top shelf of the kitchen due to sheer malice. I was visiting my mother for a few days so baked the bread and left the next day. Some six month later while spring cleaning I found a container that won’t open. The container was heavy so I was curious about what lay inside. With great difficulty I managed to pop the lid away and there it was, a rotten banana bread with fungus that could be a perfect sample for a science student. It broke my heart and never baked the bread again.

I did make a banana nut bread in a mug. You can get the recipe Here.

Since a few days mom had been craving for it and I was just not getting into the mood. I usually do not bake breads now so the pantry was empty. No baking powder or baking soda. I was too lethargic to go buy or even order. The bananas were getting overripe and yesterday I gave in to the temptation.

The whole wheat bread that I usually made had jaggery instead of sugar but here I powdered and used the regular sugar.  Brown sugar or jaggery is the best to use in banana bread. The rich flavor is amazing. Do use that if you have it.   1/4 cup is good for this recipe. If using jaggery or Muscovedo sugar then use 1 cup.

It was an experiment of sort as I had not baked without baking powder or baking soda before so I began to search for options on the internet. Yeast, sour dough were out so I was about to give up when Alice’s blog link popped up. I was happy someone had bothered to bake a bread without the two ingredients that are considered important and adapted her recipe to suit my needs. Thank you Alice. I knew it would be dense but cooked so there wasn’t much to worry.

Surprisingly, the bread turned out to be good. Moist, sweet, spiced and dense. Something between a cake and a bread. I decided to call it a loaf. 🙂 Everyone who had it thought that the texture resembled the Bishop Bread we get from ITC Maurya. Well, that was a very satisfying compliment. That bread is out of the world.

It needed some adjustment of temperature etc.

Do give it a try :

Ingredients :

Bananas – 3 medium or 2 large , over ripe ones

Whole wheat flour – 11/2 Cup (16 tbsp)

Butter – 1/2 Cup ( softened) ( I used a salted butter but if you use unsalted then add 1/4 tsp of salt) or 1/2 Cup – Vegetable oil

Spice powder – cinnamon, clove, nutmeg

Powdered Sugar – 1 Cup ( depends on the sweetness of  the bananas)

Eggs – 2 (well beaten)

Raisins –  1/2 Cup (Plumped in water)

Walnuts – A handful ( toasted / optional)

Buttermilk – 2 tbsp

Steps : 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F or 175 degrees C.  Grease and dust a 8×3 or 9×5 inch loaf tin. I used an 8 inch one.

Peel and mash overripe bananas in a large mixing bowl. Don’t make a smooth paste. Clumpy is good for a nice texture. Bananas with blackening skin or brown skin with deep brown spots are good. Make sure they are not fermenting. Do not get tempted to add more bananas just because you want to finish them. It will result in a dense under cooked center.

Gently fold in the softened butter /Oil, sugar and spice powder to the mashed bananas. Using oil is a good idea as it helps the bread retain the moisture. Next one will be with oil.

I add the beaten eggs just before putting the bread into the oven. If your oven and loaf tin are ready then beat the eggs very well in a bowl. Get in as much air as you can. This will make the bread light. Remember we aren’t using anything to help it rise. Add the beaten eggs to the banana sugar mixture and mix well with a spatula.  Don’t use any hand mixer for the recipe.

Now, make a well in the center of the whole wheat flour and slowly fold in the banana mixture wit ha spatula. It would be lumpy but that is great. Just mix everything nicely so that there are no flour streaks. Add 2 tbsp of buttermilk or sour cream. The batter is usually very thick so this help in making it smooth and nice. Gives a nice flavor and texture too.

Fold it the plumped raisins and toasted crushed walnuts if using. Dry raisins burn easily so it is good to plump them a little. You can toss some of the nut raisin mixture on the top also.

Pour the batter in the loaf tin and bake for 50 minutes or til toothpick comes out clean from the center.

Temperature may vary from oven to oven and I found my bread gets browned from top quickly if I place on top slot. I have two slots so I placed it in the lower one after it was 3/4 done. You can use aluminium foil to cover it to prevent extra browning. I didn’t so my crust browned more.

Another thing is to place some water in the drip tray under the wire rack. The steam makes the bread softer. I did it earlier, not for this one.

Keep checking after 45 minutes and if it needs more cooking from the center just give it 10-15 more minutes.

Once done, turn off the oven and let it stay there for 10 minutes. Remove on wire rack after that and cool.

Wrap it up in cling wrap when warm or cut it and use as desired. I usually slice it and keep in a tupperware box on the table.

Some people add vanilla essence or extract or chocolate in the bread but I personally do not like to mask the taste of spices and the rich banana flavor. You can add to your liking.

Do let me know how this loaf tasted if you make it. It is unlike the usual banana bread as I said. more like a fruit cake. 🙂