Bengali Kachcha Aamer Mishti Chutney


The one is the down right corner is without sweet for my mother. If you use sugar instead of jaggery the color will be golden yellow.

It is amazing how certain dishes are prepared and relished all across India with slight variations in the spices. This version of launji is slightly different from the one I make North Indian style.  Here is the recipe for Meethi Khathai as called it since childhood.

In this version of kachcha Aamer mishti chutney I have used panch phoron. I keep the mango stones ( guthli) in the dish as I love to suck on the spicy tangy sweet guthli. I also keep a lot of liquid in this. A mandatory side dish in summer when the markets are flooded with raw and ripe mangoes.

You can have a bowlful on its own or pair it with steamed rice, paratha, roti etc. Some people peel the mangoes in this dish but I keep the peel.

One more thing that I do is marinate the raw mango slices with red chili and salt for 10 minutes so that the fruit releases water and softens a little.

It quickens the cooking process too.

Here’s a simple way to make this wonder dish.

Ingredients –

Raw mangoes – 1/2 kg (4 medium size)

Organic Jaggery (grated/powder) – 1/2 cup / as desired ( I prefer the chutney a little sour) Fresh grated ginger – 1/2 tbsp

Water -3-4 cups 9 depends on how much liquid you need)

Whole dry red chilies – 2-3

Black mustard seeds – 2-3 tsp

Panch Phoran – 1 tsp (roasted and pounded cumin, fenugreek, mustard, nigella and fennel seeds)

Salt – to taste

Turmeric powder – 1 tsp

Red chilli powder – 1 tsp

Mustard oil – 2 tbsp

Steps – 

Wash and cut mangoes with skin lengthwise. Keep the stone.

In a wide plate keep the mango slices and stones, sprinkle salt and red chilli powder and rub it in till every piece is coated. Let it rest.

After 10 minutes heat mustard oil in a thick bottom pan.

Add the mustard seeds and dry red chilli as a tempering. Once the seeds crackle, add the marinated mango pieces and the mango stones. Give a good stir.

Saute it for 5-10 minutes n low medium heat and then stir in grated ginger and turmeric.

Add water to your liking, increase heat and bring it to boil. This preparation is a bit thin so I keep one and half cup extra jhol over the amount needed to cover the mango pieces.

Once the liquid starts boiling lower the heat and let the mango cook till soft yet firm. Don’t let it disintegrate.

At this point add the jaggery. You can use Sugar too. Mix well. Test for sweetness, salt and spice threshold. Add if required more. If you add the jaggery/sugar before the mangoes won’t soften so make sure the mango pieces have softened to your satisfaction.

Sprinkle the panch phoran and stir. Turn off the gas and let it cool to room temperature.

Spoon the aam er chutney in a glass bowl or Jar. Always use glass containers for sour dishes.

You can keep this in an airtight container for 5-7 days in the fridge.

Use dry, clean spoons to take out the chutney.

Relish this side dish as a post meal dessert or with steamed rice or luchi.

Note – If you do not have panch phoran you can use bhaja masala or roasted cumin and roasted fennel powder too.

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Warm Bell Pepper Salad With Lemon Honey Garlic Vinaigrette


Bell peppers are one of the most beautiful vegetables and my favorite too. I somehow despise the  green capsicum and its excessive use in many dishes but these red, yellow sweet peppers not just add color to the dish but also provide a lot of nutrients. They also pair very well with many things and can be baked, broiled, grilled, roasted or stewed. I add them to sauces for pasta and Shakshuka etc.  These beauties have a good amount of carotenoid content and Vitamin C along with Vitamin B6, folate, Vitamin A and many other good nutrients. I use them for roasted bell pepper raita (dip), salads (both warm and cold), pasta sauces and use them instead of green capsicum.

This is a warm salad with slightly fried potatoes but I do other variations with roasted veggies instead of sauteed. I love the smoky charred flavors of the bell peppers and tomatoes and make the salad with that too. It all depends on the mood.

The vinaigrette dressing is just perfect to give that citrus sweet flavor to the salad. You can use this as a marinade to chicken and fish also. Garlic gives that much needed kick to the vinaigrette making it delicious.  You can make the vinaigrette in a small jar and store it in that only for a day or two.

I am not a good food photographer but the recipe is awesome. Do try.

 

Bell Pepper And Potato Salad With Lemon Honey & Garlic Vinaigrette

Ingredients :

Bell peppers – 2 (1-red, 1-yellow)

Potato – 1 large (par boiled and cubed or cut into thin wedges)

Red Onion – 1

Garlic – 1 large smashed

Extra Virgin Olive Oil – 2 tbsp

Plum Tomatoes- 2

Fresh herbs – Coriander/parsley

Salt – Pepper – as required

Honey – 1 tbsp

Lemon Juice – Juice of one medium lemon

Lemon zest – a little

Freshly cracked black peppercorn – 1 little

Apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar ( if desired ) – 2 tbsp

Steps – 

To make the Vinaigrette :

Take a juice of one lemon, add one crushed garlic clove, a little lemon zest add a tbsp of honey, add a little salt, two tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, vinegar if using, a little freshly crushed black pepper and fresh chopped herbs. Mix and shake it up in a small jar.

I didn’t use the vinegar in this particular salad. You can adjust the quantity as per the salad quantity or if using as a marinade as per the chicken or fish.

 

For Salad : 

Wash bell peppers and remove the seeds. Cut them into cubes or strips. Cut the onions and tomatoes into cubes or wedges. Peel the bar boiled potatoes and cut in cubes or wedges.

In a pan heat the olive oil and add the potatoes. Fry them till they turn nice n crisp. Remove in a bowl. Add onions and saute till slightly translucent, remove them in the same bowl. Now add bell peppers and toss them till slightly charred and warmed up, take them out in the bowl and then add tomatoes to the pan. We do not need to soften them so toss them till they are slightly roasted and add to the other veggies.

Gently toss the salad and add the Vinaigrette. Serve warm

Serve with any dish of your choice or just eat it straight from the bowl.

 

 

Bathua Raita |Chenopodium album Yogurt Dip


Bathua or bathu as some call it is one of my favorite winter greens. I can’t digest spinach so it has been a constant source of high level of iron for me among other things. It is also a rich source of calcium, phosphorous, dietary fibers, amino acids, B complex, Vitamin A and C etc. Usually to absorb all the nutrients it has to be eaten with curds, lemon juice or tomatoes. It keeps the gut healthy, has numerous health benefits and is delicious too. Bathua is also known as Lamb’s Quarters. pigweed, Goosefoot etc.

I use this wonderful, versatile green in stir-fry, as stuffing in parathas, in dals, raita, fritters, kadhi etc. Sarson ka saag is incomplete without adding bathua to it. It is a game changer in that dish. You can even make a simple pesto with it.

Bathua raita is cooling though bathua in itself is considered warming in winter. The beautiful flavor of garlic, green chili,  roasted cumin and bathua make for a delicious raita with cheelas, multigrain rotis, makki or any millet roti.

Here is a simple yet delicious recipe for the raita.

 

Ingredients : 

Bathua greens ( cleaned, washed, stalks removed and chopped) – 1 Cup

Garlic cloves, finely chopped –  1 tbsp

Green chili, finely chopped – 1 tsp

Roasted cumin powder – 1 tbsp

Red chili powder – 1/4 tsp

Black pepper powder – 1/4 tsp

Cumin seeds – 1/4 tsp

Whole coriander seeds – 1/4 tsp

Hing / Asafoetida – 2-3 pinches

Curds (Home cultured) – 2-3 cups

Salt – as per taste

Oil – 1/4 tsp

 

Steps : 

I prefer home cultured curds. Whisk the curds in a bowl so that there are no lumps. Add the powdered spices and salt. Mix well.

Boil the chopped bathua with a little salt and very little water till it becomes soft.

Cool the bathua and rub it with your fingers or grind on the silbatta. ( some people blend it in the mixer but I prefer the coarse leafy texture in the raita)

In a tempering pan  heat a little ghee or mustard oil if you prefer that, add hing, cumin seeds, whole coriander seeds, when the seeds sputter turn of the heat and add chopped green chili ( I use those that are slightly going red), chopped garlic. Stir and pour over the raita.

Decorate with spice powders and serve chilled with parathas, cheelas, multi-grain rotis  etc or just eat a bowlful as it is.

 

 

 

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.

Meethi Khatai- Kachche Aam ki Launji – Raw Mango Launji – Two Versions


Kachche aam ki launji is a relish that is popular all over North India and thee are many ways to make it. It is a perfect summer side dish to have with parathas, poories, cheelas etc. I sometimes just take a small bowl of it and eat it without any accompaniment. The sweet and tangy taste of kachi ambiya and jaggery spiced up by red chili and simple spices makes it a perfect summer special. While we drool over the many varieties of ripe mangoes and relish them all through the summer we also savor the raw and slightly ripe raw mangoes to makes chunda, achar, takku, murabbaand various chutnies.

Have you ever eaten slightly sweet raw mango slices dusted with cayenne pepper ? If not then you are missing out on something utterly delicious. Do try it as soon as you get hold of the mangoes.

Here I am sharing two versions of this launji. One is what my mom makes. I remember eating this every summer since my childhood. We called it Meethi Khatai . We don’t peel the mangoes in this one like the Rajasthani launji. I also leave the guthali or the mango pit to suck the sweet tangy juices from it.

Both the recipes are for small quantity. You can adjust the ingredients for a larger amount.  These will serve four people.

Here is a simple recipe to make this version of Meethi Khatai or raw mango launji:

Ingredients –

  • Raw Mangoes – 2 ( about 250 gm cubed)
  • Grated or Broken Jaggery – 200 gm
  • Fenugreek seeds – 1 teaspoon
  • Mustard seeds – 1 teaspoon
  • Black peppercorns – 1 teaspoon
  • Turmeric Powder – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Whole dry red chili – 1-2
  • Asafoetida – 2 pinch
  • Salt – to taste
  • Water – 2 cups
  • Vegetable Oil – 1 tablespoon

Steps : 

  1. Wash, peel and cut the mangoes in 1 inch cubes with a part of the hard shell (guthali) intact. Remove the paper thin layer from the guthali pieces by scraping it with the knife or peeling it from one end to the other. ( you can see it in the first picture)
  2. Take a heavy bottom pot and put it on low flame. Add oil and when it gets warm put mustard seeds in it.
  3. Once the seeds start to crackle, add fenugreek seeds and hing. Adding them at this time brings out a nice flavour. Also add the whole red chilli.
  4. Take the pot off the stove so that the spices don’t burn. They should just get slightly roasted and give a nice aroma.
  5. Add the raw mango pieces, salt and turmeric powder. Stir well.
  6. Now add water to the mix. Add 1 1/2 cup first. The pieces should be immersed in the water.
  7. Stir well and let it cook covered on low heat.
  8. After five minutes check for the tenderness of mango pieces. They should not become mushy but the skin should become slightly soft. Al dente to be precise.
  9. Now add the jaggery to it and mix well. Keep the heat to medium low.
  10. Cook it covered for another ten minutes & check for consistency. It shouldn’t be thick. Add one cup of warm water and stir well. There should be enough liquid in the dish. Once the dish cools it will thicken so keep a good liquid margin.
  11. Bring it to boil and turn off the heat. Let it sit for ten minutes on the counter.
  12. Take a little Meethi khatai in a tasting bowl and check for salt and sweetness. You can add more jaggery, salt or red chilli at this time.
  13. The dish should have a slightly sour sweet taste perfectly balanced. Too much sourness or sweetness will kill the flavours.
  14. Your Meethi Khatai is ready to serve.
  15. Serve this delightful dish with hot chapati, paratha, poori or just spoon it in a bowl to relish it just by itself. The tangy sweetness will tickle your taste buds like nothing else.
 
The other version is slightly thicker and uses some other spices too which are mostly the mango pickle spices.

Pickle spice mix

Fennel seeds/ saunf – 2 tablespoon

Nigella seeds / Kalonji – 1/4 teaspoon

Mustard Seeds / Methi Dana – 1 teaspoon

This one tastes completely different from the one above but both these launjis stay for at least a month without refrigeration.
 
The steps to make this launji are same as above. Just add the whole spices when the oil warms up. When the spices begin to crackle  add, red chili,turmeric, salt , mango pieces and a little water. Follow the instructions given above to make a delicious tangy sweet launji. Unlike the first version I do not keep too much liquid in this one. This is more like a pickle.
 

Do try both these recipes and enjoy the goodness of the mangoes till it is in the season.

My Tip: Always choose unblemished raw mangoes. Taste for sourness and adjust the sweetness accordingly. Traditionally it is made a little thin but you can keep the consistency according to your taste.
Do not use mangoes meant for Pickles as their skin is hard and they are too sour.
Eat the meethi khatai a little warm or at room temperature. The other version with pickle spices should be eaten at room temperature. 
You can use sugar but the taste won’t be the same. Do adjust the ingredients as per your taste and the amount you make.
You can peel the mangoes id desired. I like t suck and chew on the flavorful skin so keep it. You can dice them in long thin slices too.
Do try making this delicious tangy sweet relish. If cooked properly this stays for about 6 months in the refrigerator and for about 2 months at room temperature. I make this in small quantity throughout the season and then make two batches for the coming months at the end of the mango season.
I have some more recipes with raw mango. do look for them through the search option.
If you make any of these recipes do let me know your experience.

Quick And Easy Kairi Kanda Takku | Raw Mango And Onion Relish


 

Each Maharashriyan family has their version of takku.Sweet and sour, this relish is not cooked like South Indian thakkus / thokkus and the use of finely chopped onions gives it a unique sweetness which is different from the sweetness that jaggery gives to the dish.

Summer is the best time to make pickles, chunda, launji etc apart from fresh chutneys. One can see carts full of raw and ripe mangoes all over the city and this year has brought in a very good crop of mangoes of all kinds.

We don’t use the ramkela variety of achar ka aam for these chutneys and relishes but the smaller variety whose skin is softer then the pickling mango of north.

You can eat this relish with almost anything from rotis to curd rice or even mathari etc. I sometimes spread it inside wraps to give them a tangy flavor.

I make it fresh in small quantities because that’s how it tastes best.

To make this lip smacking takku you will need very few simple ingredients.

Ingredients:

Medium Size Raw mango – 2 grated

Onion – 2 medium size

Salt- to taste

Red chili powder – 1 teaspoon

Mustard seeds brown (rai) – 1 teaspoon

Mustard seeds black (sarso) – 1 teaspoon

Fenugreek Seeds – 2 teaspoon

Oil – 2 tablespoon

Asafoetida – 1/4 teaspoon

Jaggery – as per taste and sourness of mangoes.

Steps –

Wash, peel and grate raw mangoes. Keep aside.

I like those which are beginning to ripe a little from inside along with completely raw ones. Gives takku a lovely flavor.

Chop the onion very fine. I don’t like grated version. Chopping fine gives takku a nice crunch.

Warm a seasoning pan and dry roast the brown mustard seeds and one teaspoon of fenugreek seeds separately till fragrant. Don’t let them burn.

Remove and grind them into a fine ( but not very smooth) powder. I powder them on silbatta (grinding stone).

Now add this powder mix along with  red chili powder, salt, onion and jaggery in grated raw mangoes and gently mix well with your fingers by tossing the mixture slowly. .

Let it sit for half and hour then taste and adjust sweetness, salt and spices. By now jaggery will melt and get well incorporated with the juices released from mango and onions.

Heat oil in the same seasoning pan and remove from heat once warm enough. Add asafoetida, black mustard seeds (sarso) to it. When they crackle, add the remaining fenugreek seeds and let them brown a little.

When the oil cools down, pour it over the takku and mix.

Your delicious takku is ready to eat.

This keeps good for a week to ten days in the fridge.

There isn’t much oil in this recipe and  unlike other thokku it is not cooked. You will relish the raw flavors of mango and onion in this relish.

Serve with chapati, curd rice, mathari or chapati nachos or use it for layering rolls etc. The tangy sweet taste will always tickle your taste buds.

 

 

 

Summer Special – Healthy Green Plantain Raita


Summer months are for eating light and healthy. Yogurt based dishes especially raitas are cooling and nutritious too. I often make a big bowl at lunch and pair it with simple zeera rice or mixed grain roti & sabzi. Green plantain is cooked like potatoes and used in many recipes as it can not be eaten raw. One can make cips, kebabas, koftas, stir fry, raita and various types of curried or dry vegetable dishes from it. These are nutritious and rich in dietary fiber among other things.Packed with carbohydrates, Vitamin A (more than ripe banana), B Vitamins esp B6, potassium, iron, magnesium these are a good choice to add to your meals.  Raw Onion gives this raita a little crunch and it is good to eat raw onion during summer as it has a cooling effect on the body.

To make this cooling raita you will need :

Ingredients :

Raw green plantains – 2 Medium size

Onion – 1 medium (Optional)

 

Green chili – 1

Grated Ginger – 1 inch

Salt = to taste

Red Chili Powder – (For garnish)

Roasted Cumin Powder ) For garnish

Curd / yogurt – 1 cup whipped

For tempering :

Curry Leaves – 1 sprig 5-6 tender leaves)

Mustard seeds – 1/2 teaspoon

Red whole chili – 1/2

Asafoetida – 2 pinches ( optional but it gives a nice flavor)

Oil – 1/2 teaspoon

Steps – 

Wash and steam or boil green plantains in steamer or pressure cooker. Three whistles are enough but it depends on the size of banana.

Take out , peel the skin and roughly mash the plantain. Some people mash it smooth but I love small soft chunks in the raita.

In a bowl whip the curd till smooth. Add salt to taste.

Add the mashed plantain, grated ginger and chopped onion. Mix well. Raw onion is good to eat in hot summer days.

You can add a little roasted cumin powder and red chili powder too.

Add fresh coriander leaves and mix.

To prepare the tempering :

Take a seasoning pan and put it on low flame. Add oil and when it warms up add mustard seeds and asafoetida. When the seeds start to crackle add curry leaves and red whole chili and chopped green chili. Don’t let the seasoning burn.

Pour it over the raita.

Serve chilled with rice or roti.

Some recipes call for chana dal and / or washed urad daal in tempering. I have not used them here but they do enhance the flavor. Use 1/2 teaspoon of each if desired.

 

Summer Special – Roasted Bell Pepper Raita


It is hot and humid here in Delhi and to beat the heat I always prefer to keep my meals light and include loads of simple yogurt based dishes, dips, raitas etc. I love the cooling effect of cucumber raita, pumpkin raita, lauki or bottle gourd raita, bathua raita, raw plantain or kacche kele ka raita and the everyday tomato, onion raita. Sometimes with poories etc I make the boondi ka raita as well. Fruits or veggies with select spices and whisked yogurt is all it takes conjure up this lovely side dish. The yogurt based condiment is one of the most favored side dishes all across India and forms an integral part of most of the traditional Indian meal. .The cool raita often balanced the hot spicy main dishes in our cuisine and also tones down the intense flavors of main dishes.  I use home cultured yogurt which I think is the best but sometimes I also use the mother dairy dahi which is great for making raitas. The better the yogurt the better the raita.

When I saw the recipe of Roasted Bell Pepper Raita posted by Monika Manchanda on twitter I immediately hopped over to her fantastic blog Sin-a-mon Tales. It looked so appetizing and colorful that  I decided to try it out the very next day. The flavor of charred sweet peppers was mind blowing.

I have used roasted bell peppers in yogurt dips but not as a raita. They gave this raita a very beautiful texture too apart from the burst of colors. The seasoning made it super delicious. Like her, I too love to season my raitas. It just takes the raita to another level of deliciousness.

Though you can click the link above to read the original recipe by her I am still posting mine here.

Roasted Bell pepper Raita :

Ingredients :

Red Bell Pepper – 1

Yellow Bell Pepper – 1

Yogurt – 1 Cup

Salt – to taste

Roasted Cumin Powder – 1 teaspoon

Red Chili Powder – 1/4 teaspoon

Fresh Coriander Greens – 2 tablespoons finely chopped

For Tempering :

Olive Oil – 1 teaspoon

Mustard ( sarso) Seeds – 1/2 teaspoon

Whole Dry Red Chili – 1-2

Cumin ( zeera) Seeds – 1/2 teaspoon

Asafoetida – a pinch

Steps :

Take yogurt in a deep bowl and whisk properly so no lumps remain and it is nice and smooth in texture. Add salt, little roasted cumin powder and a little red chili powder and finely chopped coriander greens. Stir and keep aside.

Wash and pat dry the bell peppers and brush a little oil on them.

Roast them on direct flame or in oven , turning now and then to achieve uniformed roasting. They should not burn but cook evenly.

Once done, place them in a zip-lock bag or wrap in clig wrap to sweat for a few minutes. I find that this makes it easier to peel the charred skin off the peppers.

Remove the charred skin and wash so that all the black skin is cleared.

Chop the peppers and add to the whisked yogurt.

Mix it well.

Heat a small frying pan and  warm the olive oil . Once warm, add asafoetida, mustard seeds and cumin seeds. When they crackle, add  whole red chili pieces. Saute for half a minute. Nothing should burn but give out a nice aroma.

Tip the seasoning over the raita and garnish with more coriander greens.

Serve with parathas, biryani, rotis, poories, pulao or just have a big bowlful all by itself.

I paired it with khatti meethi kaddu sabzi and roti on day 1 and then again with sattu ka paratha and baingan chokha on day 2. This one wasn’t seasoned but tasted as awesome as the first one. 😀

Trust me this is one hell of raita and you will always love to make for any of your lunches, dinners for family and friends.

 

 

When Life Gives You Lemons…


In Himachal it is called Khatta, in Uttarakhand, simply neembu. Some call it galgal (though I think galgal is tougher variety) or hill lemon. I was lucky to get some fresh lemons. It’s a sturdy fruit and stays for long. I love shikanjee made from this and pickle too. In kumaon, the local women make a dish called ‘nimbu’ with this. Made with lime, creamy yogurt, flavoured salt(pisi nud), raddish, carrot, jaggery etc. They also concentrate its juice by heating.  This juice, called “chukh” in local dialect, is then stored in glass bottles and is used later in the season as souring agent and for other recipes.  Lemon marmalade is to die for but I have not tried it with hill lemons.

On my recent trip to Ranikhet and nearby areas I saw a lot of trees loaded with this juicy citrus fruit and even the markets were full of them. We relished the jalzeera and shikanjee made from these khattas almost daily.

I was fortunate to get my hands on freshly plucked lemons of two sizes.

Now a traditional lemon pickle takes about 15- 30 days of sun warming to mature and I was dying to savor some fresh tangy sweet pickle and decided to use the large khatta to make an instant pickle. Pickle for me is inevitable part of a meal without which the meal seems incomplete. Be it hot aaloo paratha, khichadi or simple daal chawal, a delicious pickle can be a complete game changer.

Every household has its own unique recipe for pickling various fruits and veggies. Regional ingredients (spices) are used to give the pickle its distinctive taste.

This hill lemon pickle is my favorite though the spicy one that came from my mother in law’s village was out of the world. I am trying to procure that recipe. Lemons are usually cheaper in winter so a big batch will be made then too.

This instant pickle has a unique taste of coarsely pounded spices, sugar and lemon. It tastes delicious. It is also digestive and its taste enhances as the pickle matures. Though it doesn’t need any warming in sun, I still keep it in sun for a week. For instant consumption I take out a small quantity in a small jar / barni or glass bowl.

I must tell you that these instant fixes can not beat the traditional way of pickling and the taste differs but then when craving hits you big time you need to settle for a quickie. 😉 Boiling or microwaving also kills the Vitamin C  😦 unlike traditionally sun soaked lemon pickles.

There are a few things one must keep in mind while pickling. Everything you use should be dry and clean. Always take out  a small quantity for daily use so the main jar is not opened and exposed to impurities everyday. The utensils and jars should be washed and dried properly. Moisture is the biggest culprit in ruining pickles and any lapse would cause mold to form. .Pickles are a labor of love and care even these quick ones. .

Remember how pickling used to be an annual ritual at your granny’s home? How the pickle jars were jealously guarded and only one person would handle them? The small storeroom or bhandarghar where the barnis were stored away from the praying eyes and kids who left no opportunity to steal some tangy deliciousness while the elders got busy doing stuff that elders do? 🙂 Those were the good days. The whole house and sometimes the lane too would fill with the mouthwatering aroma of freshly made achar making everyone drool. Pickle making was a community affair and women would gather to catch up with each other, harvest the fruit, blend, pound spices and mix the ingredients under the watchful eye of an old matriarch. Sigh! Those are the earliest food memories I have and the fondest ones.

Here is the tangy sweet spiced up Hill Lemon or Khatta Pickle recipe :

Ingredients :

1 big hill lemon ( this one was about 250 gm)

4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black salt (kala namak)

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup shakkar or jaggery powder (optional)

1/2 teaspoon fenugreek  seeds

1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds

5-6 cloves

1″ cinnamon stick

8-10 black peppercorns

2 black cardamoms ( just the seeds)

1/2 teaspoon ajwain seeds (carom seeds or bishop’s weed)

1 teaspoon Turmeric powder

3 teaspoon red chili powder

1/4 teaspoon asafoetida

( you can adjust the salt, sugar, spices etc according to your taste. Also, the use of jaggery is optional. Jaggery ferments quicker so I use it only for a small quantity pickle. For others I prefer sugar.)

Method :

Wash and wipe the Hill Lemon with a kitchen towel.  Always prefer lemons which have no skin bruises.

Cut the lemon in small pieces and place them in a microwave proof bowl. Close the lid and microwave them for 3-6 minutes. You need to stop and check the softness of the skin in between. Alternately, you can place the whole lemon in a steaming basket and pressure cook it till three whistles. Do not overdo it or the lemon will become a pulp and also turn bitter. If using usual thin skin small lemons (kagazi neebu) reduce the time to one minute or two depending on the quality of the fruit.

Once the skin is soft to touch and breaks easily, let the lemon cool completely.

When the lemon pieces are cool, transfer them to a wide glass bowl and add, salt, chili powder, black salt, turmeric powder, asafoetida, sugar and jaggery powder (some people make a syrup and add that but I just put the shakkar as it is and give it a good mix).

Give this a good mix using clean and dry spoon.

Now pound cloves, cinnamon stick, black pepper corns, seeds of black cardamom and ajwain seeds coarsely in a mortar and pestle. You can grind them to powder too.  Dry toast the mix with fenugreek and mustard seeds on low heat. Keep in mind to just slightly warm the spices or the mix will become bitter.

Add this spice mix to the lemon mixture and give it a stir. You can coarsely ground the fenugreek and mustard seeds too or use them whole like I did.

At this point you can either add two tablespoon of olive oil or smoked and cooled mustard oil or just omit the oil. The pickle won’t go bad if there is enough juice to submerge the pieces.

Once all the ingredients are mixed, taste the pickle to add anything to suit your taste. The sugar and salt will make the lemons sweat and release the juice. That’s a good sign and will make the pickle taste better and help in preservation too. As the days pass the pickle will thicken a bit.

Spoon the tangy sweet spiced up lemon pickle in a clean dry airtight jar, close the lid properly. Your instant Hill lemon pickle is ready to eat. You can keep the jar in dry summer sun for a few days to mature but it is optional.

You can add slit / diced green chili and/or ginger julienne to this pickle. Though I don’t like green chili in a sweet sour pickle. Ginger tastes great.

If kept in the fridge, the pickle stays up to three months.

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Relish this lipsmackingly delicious pickle with curd rice, hot parathas, roti or just about anything.

 

Peanut Garlic Dry Chutney Powder


I am a sucker for garlic and this Maharashtrian dry chutney is my favorite. We also make other variations of it by adding channa daal / sesame seeds / curry leaves / dry roasted coriander seeds or grated dry coconut but today I will share the basic recipe for lasun shegdana kordi chutney or podi.

It is simple, flavorful and goes well with anything from chapati, bread, pav, dosa or cheela or idli. Layer it inside the vada pav or toss a little over some salad.

Bajra Bhakri With Lasun Peanut Chutney

(The authentic vada pav chutney has grated roasted  dry coconut it in. Will share that recipe soon.)

You can also eat it with hot steamed rice. Just don’t forget to top it up with hot ghee (clarified butter) for that yummy taste. The minimal ingredients make it very versatile in use.

This chutney pairs well with bhakri made with either jowar (sorghum flour) or bajra (Pearl Millet flour). A dollop of fresh butter and the hot chutney adds to the flavor of the freshly made bhakri. I make Zunka Bhakar and serve it with this chutney and some raita or plain yogurt. A wholesome rustic meal full of nutrition.

To make this spicy chutney powder you will need :

Ingredients :

Raw Shelled Peanuts – 1 cup

Garlic – 8-10 cloves

Dry Whole Red Chilies – 4-5 ( use them as per your heat threshold)

Groundnut Oil – 3 tablespoon

Asafoitida – 1/4 teaspoon

Tamarind – lemon size ball ( deseeded)

Salt – To taste

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Method:

  1. Dry roast the peanuts and rub them to remove the skin. Blow the sking away. Keep the peanuts aside to cool. Always roast a few at a time and on slow heat or they won’t get roasted properly. Either they will burn or remain raw. Nuts do not like crowding. 🙂
  2. In a kadhai or pan add a little oil and caramelize the garlic cloves. Keep 2-3 aside if you like the raw flavour of garlic otherwise saute them all. Once done, take them out in a plate and chop roughly.
  3.  Now roast the whole red chilies for that deeper flavour. You can omit the roasting of garlic and chilies if you wish but roasting them adds to the flavour and helps to keep the chutney powder for longer time.
  4. In a grinder add all the ingredients and pulse it to a medium coarse powder. Do not make it very smooth or the oil from peanuts will start separating. Also ensure that the peanuts are cooled before grinding. Always pulse slowly to get the right coarseness. e don’t want a garlicky peanut butter, do we?
  5. While grinding stir the mixture with a spatula between each burst to ensure even grinding. The chutney tends to become clumpy so loosening it helps in a good texture.
  6. Take it out in an air tight container and use when desired.
  7. You can store it for at least 2-3 weeks. Longer than that may turn the peanuts rancid and the chutney will go waste.
  8. Some people dry the chutney powder in the sun for an hour or so to remove all moisture and then store it a bit longer. I prefer to make in small quantities. The freshness of the chutney is the key to the authentic aroma and flavour.
  9. The spicy garlic peanut dry chutney powder is ready to eat.