Punjabi Kathal Masala | Punjabi Jackfruit Vegetable


Popularly known as “vegetarian’s meat’, this fibrous, starchy and fleshy fruit is one of my favorites.  From tender ones to the absolutely ripe ones Jackfruit is used in variety of dishes from sweet to savory. Even the juice of ripe jackfruit is dried and used to make dishes like fansache sandane.  It is even pickled and the kathal ka achar is one of the best things on earth. I had kathal ki biryani at a friend’s place and it tasted just like the mutton biryani though the hardcore non vegetarian would never call it a biryani for Biryani means rice and Meat. 🙂 Nothing can substitute it. Kathal is one of the many things especially cooked on Holi in UP.

Although in my house only tender baby kathal or slightly more matured one was used for vegetable or kababs I learned to cook the more mature fibrous one from my MIL. It was cooked mostly like meat. The recipe used all the spices used to cook meat. It was cooked on slow fire and given dum. ( the dum pic got deleted accidentally but I will upload it later)

I did variations whenever possible to make the best use of the meaty fruit. Achari kathal being one of them which is cooked exactly like murg achari.

I neither use very tender baby jackfruit nor the very fibrous mature one for this subzi. The jackfruit seeds, that look like chestnuts, should not be very tough to chew. I never liked their plastic like covering.

Note – Get the jackfruit peeled and cut by the vegetable vendor or apply some oil and use a sharp knife to cut. It secretes a sticky resin and things can get very messy if not done properly.

kathal

 

Ingredients – 

Green unripe kathal/jakfruit – 1/2 kg

Onion – 2 large

Potatoes – 2 medium size ( optional)

Tomatoes – 5-6 medium size

Ginger – 1 inch ( grated)

Garlic – 7-8 cloves ( grated)

Green chilies – 2-3 ( slit)

Red chili powder – 1/2 teaspoon

Coriander Powder – 2 tablespoon

Turmeric / Haldi Powder – 1/2 teaspoon

Home made Garam Masala – 1/4 teaspoon

Amchur/ mango powder – 1/4 teaspoon

Asafoetida – 2 pinches

Cumin Seeds – 1/2 teaspoon

Salt – to taste

Mustard Oil for frying

Water – 1 cup

Chopped green coriander leaves – for garnish

Steps- 

  1. Peel and cut the kathal into 1 1/2 – 2 inch pieces. Make a cut in the seeds if there are large ones or they will burst while frying or slice them if they are not too stubborn). (Be careful with that) Wash and keep aside.
  2. Peel and cut potatoes ( if using) and place them in water.
  3. Heat Mustard oil in a kadhai  and bring it to smoking point, Keep the flame to medium now. ( Mustard oil gives the subzi a unique taste but you may use some other also)
  4. Deep fry the kathal pieces in small batches till they are golden brown but not darker than that. Fry the potatoes too.
  5. Drain the fried jackfruit and potatoes on to a kitchen towel or paper to remove excess oil.
  6. Chop the onions fine.
  7. Grate the tomatoes into a puree.
  8. Remove excess oil fro mthe kadhayi and keep about two tablespoon for making the masala for the sabzi.
  9. Add cumin seeds and when they splutter add hing/asafoetida.
  10. Add chopped onions and green chili.
  11. Fry till golden brown. ( Add a little salt to help in browning)
  12. Add ginger and garlic and fry them along with the onions.
  13. Add red chili and a little water to give that rich brown color to the masala.
  14. Let the mixture cook for a minute and then add  the grounded masalas and the remaining salt.
  15.  stir properly and fry till the oil separates. Keep flame low.
  16. Move the onion mix to a side of kadhayi and add tomato puree.
  17. Stir everything well and let it cook under cover for sometime. ( 5-10 min)
  18. Open the lid and add some of the chopped green coriander leaves. This gives the masala a very nice flavor.
  19.  keep stirring the masala till the water from tomatoes dries out and the masala starts to leave oil. It will become smooth in texture by now.
  20. Add kathal and potato pieces to the masala  and mix well so that the masala gets incorporated in each piece. Add a little water to help in the process.
  21.  cook it on medium high flame , stirring continuously so the vegetable pieces soak up all the fragrant masala.
  22. Add more water to make a thick gravy and cover to cook on slow flame.
  23. Keep checking for the pieces to become tender.
  24. The time depends on the quality of kathal. ( Took 45 mins)
  25. Once the pieces have become tender check for the salt and spices. Add more if required.
  26. The kathal masala can be a thick moist vegetable coated with the masala but dry or you can add some water to make it into a curry. Keep it as thick or thin as you wish.
  27. If you want to dum the vegetable then cover with lid and seal the lid with wheat flour dough so that the steam doesn’t escape.
  28. Let it cook for 10-15 minutes on very low heat then turn off the heat and carefully remove the seal.
  29. Spoon the aromatic punjabi kathal masala vegetable in a serving dish and garnish with the remaining green coriander leaves.
  30. Eat with layered paratha, phulka or rice.
  31. Serve some cooling raita, pickled carrots and sliced onions.

Tip – If you do not wish to fry the kathal and potatoes you can make this recipe with steamed or raw pieces also.

This is a slow cook recipe and a labor of love. Follow the steps and you will have a sumptuous vegetable.

My garam masala has nutmeg, cinnamon, bayleaf, javitri, big black cardamom, green cardamom, dry ginger, cumin, coriander etc. so I do not add khada masala or whole spices.

Some people  add two three tablespoons of thick curd in the masala instead of amchur/mango powder. I make dahiwala kathal as a separate dish.

Enjoy this delicious meaty vegetable while the fruit is still in season.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Taste Of Banaras At ThreeSixtyOne|The Oberoi Gurgaon


I am a big supporter of revival of regional, traditional cuisine and the use of indigenous ingredients in daily meals. When I came to know about Banaras Ka Khana Showcase at ThreeSixtyOne, The Oberoi Gurgaon, curated by Chef Ravitej Nath along with a dear friend, food consultant and writer Sangeeta Khanna, I did not want to miss this opportunity to taste the flavours of the temple town cuisine. My mother was born and brought up there and we decided to bring to her a part of her childhood and youth as a pre-birthday gift. She turns 84 on 31st March.Exif_JPEG_420

They say, when you strongly desire something the universe conspires to bring it to you. A contest won me ‘complimentary meal for two’ making the whole experience even more exciting.

Our Holi inspired Dinner began with Panchamrit which is offered to the devotees at Hindu temples as a blessing from the Gods. It is also used in many religeous rituals. The whiff of tulsi (Holi Basil) and the correct sweetness of milk and honey in the drink was a perfect beginning to what was going to be an unforgettable experience.  We forgot to take the picture of Panchamrit.

The street food or chaats of Banaras in the Chef’s tasting menu left us longing for more. As we dug into Tamatar ki chaat, Chivda matar, chenna ka dahi vada and sumptuous aaloo tikki accompanied with traditional aaloo papad and the four chutneys the first thing that came to mind was the  hot, sour, savoury notes of each dish perfectly balancing each other. Nothing was too overwhelming. Wadiyon ki chatney was an instant hit.

The sublime flavours enhanced the pleasure of eating. Ma promptly gave her seal of approval as she remembered her childhood spent in the lanes of the holy city exploring these very delicacies except the tamatar chaat.

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Sangeeta later told us how the flavours of Gujrat have influenced the local cuisine and why. No wonder the tamatar chaat made me think of a similar dish sev tamatar.ki sabzi. It is amazing to see how the food has interconnections with so many parts of India and not just the city of Varanasi itself.

I loved Harad ki papdi, fara, bajka, bhapouri and bhabra too. We make Bajka at home and call it Lobra. Long time ago in Banaras, Harad ka golgappa was served  to digest all the fantastic chaat that the chaat bhandars fed you and this Harad ki papdi was a perfect revival of that. Excellent in taste and texture.

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The khus ka sherbat, aam panna were delicious but the thandai with special hand crafted portion and pan cocktail made with fresh pan leaves and lemon won my heart. Nowhere can one find something so fantastic. Both the drinks were simply out of the world.

The chefs had divided street food and main course in two distinct segments and the drinks served with them complimented the food perfectly.

We loved the street food totally. My son had never tasted the Banaras cuisine so it was a  unique experience for him. He loved the moong beans filled aaloo tiki and chene ka dahi vada.

I knew that the banaras ki thali was going to be a big sumptuous affair so we lingered with the pan mocktail reminiscing about the city and its culture.

We got both non vegetarian and vegetarian thalis in main course.

The Vegetarian Thali 

The Breads 

I had the vegetarian Thali and was bowled over by matar ka nimona (crushed green peas cooked with ginger and coriander) , Gular ka chokha, aaloo chokha and kaddu ki sabzi. It was very much the ghar ka khana. Each dish balancing the taste of the other. I found the flat breads a bit hard and one of the littis was under-cooked but the rest of amazing.  The khade masale ka pulav, made with short grain aromatic rice called Zeerabutti, had such a sublime flavour it really blew my mind.

I was surprised to see mom relishing the meal with such gusto as she is a very small eater. The khoya, matar, makhane ki sabzi was a delight. I had never tasted it before but my ma gave it 10/10 in taste. She found it as authentic as it could be. The tempered moong daal was just as we make at home. Delicious, to say the least.  Again, I found that the pairing of dishes was done in such a way that the tastes do not overwhelm each other.

The non -veg thali

Non Vegetarian Thali

The non veg thali had sookha jheenga (dried shrimps), motton kalia and sadi litti among other things and my son loved the shrimps and the river sol in mustard gravy.

I would love to go on about each dish but the festival is still on till 26th March at ThreeSixtyOne, The Oberoi Gurgaon and if you are in or around Delhi/NCR, you MUST visit and indulge in the Rivayat of Banaras.

Meals that are prepared and served with love are the best. We could see how Sangeeta had put her heart and soul in each preparation, going out of the way to procure the finest ingredients to create the original banarasi khana. Hats off to the F&B team of Chef Manish Sharma, Chef Ravitej Nath who recreated this fabulous along with Sangeeta

Now it was time for desserts and conversations with our gracious hostess.

 

As you can see mom had a lovely time reminiscing about Banaras with Sangeeta. They talked about traditions, city heritage, old houses, chawks and gaiyan, old eateries, their childhood and of course the delectable food. I was happy to see my mom enjoying every bit of the experience.

Malaiyyo, a specialty of Banaras, stole the show. Frothy, light as air and delicately tasteful,  it brought back a surge of nostalgia. Ma told that they would get up early morning before sunrise in winter to eat this delicacy which was then served in earthen pot the size of a small diwali diya. We loved the food and we loved the stories.

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The Desserts

Biranji Kheer

Biranji Kheer

The naturally tulsi scented Sankatmochan laddoos and Sri ram Bhandar’s lal peda (especially flown in from Banaras) were out of the world. I enjoyed the hare chane ki barfi which was new for me and the Biranji kheer was a delight. I make it at home but this was ethereal. Adi was bowled over by Malaiyyo.

Three generations in love with the vibrant food and Banaras came home with fondest memories, blissful dinning experience, unconditional love and a bagful of goodies.

I want to congratulate everyone who is part of Rivayat- Indian Culinary Conclave  and Banaras ka khana fest. You have kept the spirit and soul of the cuisine intact. Well done.

Special thanks for the warmth of hospitality by The Oberoi Gurgaon Staff. Thank you Mallika Gowda for your understanding and care.

Those who wish to know more about the dishes that were served here  or want to try making some of them at home, do visit Sangeeta’s blog Banaras ka Khana .

Zhunka Bhakar – The Rustic Meal


Zhunka bhakar with lasun shendana chutney

This recipe is gluten free and easy to digest.

The farmer’s meal got revolutionized when a lot of zhunka bhakar stalls appeared throughout Maharashtra. This rustic meal consists of zhunka, which is a vegetable made with onions and chickpea flour and bhakar / bhakri , an unleavened flat bread  made with jowar (sorghum) / bajra (pearl millet) orrice flour. The basic farmer’s meal used jowar for bhakar. The meal is best served with lasun  shengdana chutney ( garlic/peanut chutney) / tak (buttermilk) / Pithala (a guey version of zhunka) or simple yogurt. I love it with jaggery, ghee (clarified butter ) or white butter too.

Full of dietary fibers and other nutrients this is a perfect meal. I have fond memories of my aaji’s kitchen and then my mom’s where the traditional meals were cooked. I am lucky to born into a family where two very different types of cuisines were prepared. One from Maharashtra and the other from Uttarpradesh. We always explore the other state cuisines as everyone loves to relish the variety of food. Getting married into a family that belonged to an area around Himachal and Punjab introduced me to another type of food which was so exciting and delicious. A good change from regular roti chawal meals. Who doesn’t love Makki ki roti and sarson ka saag wit ha glassful of lassi?:)

Since the wheat and rice diet took over most of the indigenous coarse grains and millet took the backstage but now people are waking up to the benefits of these grains and including them in their daily meals which is a very encouraging thing. Now millet and other coarse grains are very easily available in the market. I use the organic flour made from these indigenous grains.

Zhunka 

Sping Onion Zhunka

To make Zhunka you can use red onion, spring onion, capsicum, cabbage, radish leaves or fenugreek leaves too. The traditional recipe is done with basic red onion which everyone could afford in those days. Now, of course it is an indulgence 🙂

Bhakar /Bhakri 

Bajra Bhakri

To make bhakar, use sorghum flour / pearl millet flour / rice flour/ ragi (nachni) finger millet flour or mixed grain flour. Some people add a little wheat flour for binding but I don’t. Bhakar is a staple food in many states. The farmers used to eat it with thecha ( green chili /garlic chutney), and raw onions, gud (jaggery) if not with zhunka, leafy greens, stuffed brinjal curry or pithla.

Let us first make the spring onion Zhunka. ‘Khamang‘ is the word to describe its taste and flavor in  marathi. I do not know how to describe that in any other language. ‘Sondha‘  in Hindi comes closer. You will know what I mean when the dish is ready.

Ingredients for Zhunka:

Spring Onions (scallions)  – 1/2 kg

cumin seeds – 1/2 teaspoon

whole red chili – 1 big or 2 small

Chickpea flour (besan) – 1/2 cup

Red chili powder – 1/2 teaspoon ( as per your need)

Salt – to taste

A pinch or two of Asafoitida

Turmeric Powder – 1 teaspoon

Mustard oil – 3 -4 tablespoons.

Zhunka

Method – 

1.  Clean /wash the spring onions and separate the bulb from the green tops. It is easier to cut this way. Now chop them fine and keep aside. Prefer fresh spring onions which have long, deep green slender tops and medium size bulb. Avoid the ones that are slimy or wilting.

2. Put a skillet pan or wok on high flame. I use iron kadhai for making this. Once the kadhai is hot turn the flame to medium and add mustard oil. Bring it to smoking point and turn the flame low. It is important to smoke mustard oil.

3. Add asafoitida, cumin seeds and whole red chili (some people add garlic too. I don’t). Once the seeds start to crackle add the chopped spring onions and give it a stir.

4. Add salt, red chili powder, turmeric powder and stir. put the lid and let it cook till the onions become soft.

5. Open the lid and sprinkle chickpea flour or besan over the spring onions. Don’t dry the liquid from the vegetable. It will keep the zhunka soft yet crisp. Keep mixing the flour to avoid lumps. The proportion is different from person to person. I add enough to coat the spring onions in a thick coat. The traditional recipe calls for the chickpea flour to be mixed in water and then added. I prefer the taste of this one.

6. Increase the flame to medium -high and cook it covered for 5 minutes then uncovered till the flour (besan) browns nicely. Stir the vegetable so that it browns properly as in the picture. Some people like it dry but I love the softness and add besan accordingly.

7. Again lower the heat and cook it covered for 5 minutes before turning off the heat.

Your fragrant zhunka is ready to be served with the bhakar.

 

To make the Bhakar or bhakri  you will need :

Ingredients –

Bajra flour – 2 cup

Hot water – as needed for kneading

salt – 1/2 teaspoon

Method :

Making flat unleavened bread with these grains is a tad bit tough and needs a little practice.

  1. Take out two cups of bajra flour in a parat or any other broad utensil. Add salt to it.
  2. Heat some water beforehand. Make a well in the middle of the bajra flour and slowly add water to it. Knead it as you gather the flour with your fingers. First it will be crumbly but slowly it will begin to bind. Go easy on water or you will have a mess in your hands. The dough needs little water.
  3. Knead the dough with your fist and palm properly for 5-7 minutes till you get a soft dough.
  4. Drizzle a little oil if you wish to avoid the skin to form on the dough. I keep it covered with a moist cloth.
  5. Heat the tawa/griddle on medium flame while you divide the dough in equal size balls. The size depends on how big you want your bhakri to be.
  6. Now, sprinkle some dry flour in the parat and flatten the ball with your palm. Keep flattening till it is round in shape. Wet your hands or sprinkle some dry flour if it sticks. You can do it on the rolling board or chakla too. I make it by patting in between my palms but that needs practice.
  7. Another easier way is to put the ball in a zip-lock bag and use the rolling pin to make a round bhakri. It always works well. You can apply a bit of oil before starting the process.
  8. Once the bhakri is made, gently transfer it to the tawa/ griddle. When the upper surface become dry and puffs up in places, apply a little water to the surface and flip. Your bhakri will have brown spots on the other side. Let it cook and flip again. Cook again for a few seconds. Keep the heat low-medium.
  9. Once the bhakri is browned from both sides, take it off the tawa and cook on direct flame for a few seconds with the help of tongs/chimta.
  10. If you are cooking the bhakri on hot plate or cant use tongs then press the bhakri with a cloth or flat wooden spoon on both sides alternately to fluff it.
  11. Apply ghee / butter and eat it with whatever pleases you.

The bhakris in the photographs aren’t very round as I made them by flattening them between hands. Still don’t get them right many times. :p

You can make bhakri with any flour using this method. I even make makki ki roti or corn flour flat bread like this.

Enjoy this hearty meal any time of the day for good health and soak in the flavors of rustic nutritious food.

 

I made one extra bhakri to eat with the Organic jaggery and ghee ( clarified butter) . Nothing to beat that on a winter afternoon. This is what good food is all about.

 

I make laddoos from jowar/ ragi and  bajra too. Try them.

Make these two very traditional vegetables to eat with the bhakri.

Rustic meals are unrefined, simple, healthy, warm and inviting. Include millet in your daily meals and stay healthy.

Recipe – Sweet Potato | Shakarkandi Halwa


Shakarkand or Sweet Potatos are in season and I am including them in my daily meals in one way or the other. Mostly I love to just roast or boil them to eat as chaat but sometimes I indulge in a dessert like shakarkand ka halwa or shakarkand ke gulab jamun. This is my first sweet potato halwa of the season. Sangeeta Khanna of Healthfood Desi Videshi has some interesting salads and other recipes with sweet potato that I plan to try. Sweet potatoes are very healthy and can be used instead of white potatoes. It is a rich source of vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber.

The Indian sweet potato has a nice pink skin and a yellowish white flesh inside.

Frankly I had no idea how creative one can in cooking with them. The tuber is so varsetile that it can be used for soups, salads, cassroles, chips, stir fries, and desserts of all kinds. It can be baked, roasted, boiled or used raw as per the need and taste. The leaves of the sweet potato are also edible. I mean the list is endless. one is just spoilt for choices.

Shakarkand ka halwa is a winter speciality. This sweet tuber is a favorite with people who are fasting and is part of the diwali faraal. Delicate sweetness of boiled mashed sweet potatoes, just the right amount of sugar flavoured with green cardamom gives it a unique taste. I don’t use milk in in the recipe but some people do.

Ingredients for the halwa : 

Sweet Potatoes – 2-3 Medium size (1 cup boiled/mashed)

Sugar – (depends on the sweetness of sweet potato so add accordingly)

Ghee –  3-4 tablespoon

Green Cardamom Powder – 1/4 tsp

Almonds or Cashewnuts for garnish

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Method –

Choose sweet potatoes that are firm and do not have any cracks, bruises or soft spots. Wash them clean and boil till they become soft. You can steam, microwave or pressurecook them too.

Once they are tender, take them out in a plate and peel.

Mash and keep aside.

In a heavy bottom pan heat ghee (clarified butter) or oil. ( I prefer ghee).

Add mashed sweet potatoes to the hot ghee and stir.

Let it cook on low-medium heat till the rawness is gone and a nice aroma begins to float from it. Add cardamom powder and saute some more. I saute it till it gives a slightly toasted aroma.

At this point stir in the sugar. Do taste the shakarkand to adjust the sugar. Mix well.

Now, cook it till it becomes nice golden brown.

Keep stiring so it doesnt stick to the bottom of the pan.

When the halwa gets a nice colour add shredded blanched almonds or roasted crushed cashewnuts. I find almonds taste better than cashewnuts. It is a personal preferance.

Take it off the heat and serve hot garnished with more nuts. You can sprinkle some cardamom powder on top.

Tell me how do you use Sweet potatoes?

Two Delicious Eggplant Recipes – Khatte Meethe Baingan And Baingan Palak Sowa Ki Sabzi


Aubergine/eggplant/brinjal/melanzane/berenjenas, the humble baingan has many names and they come in all shapes and sizes. The colours mostly vary from deep purple, black, cream, light green, bright magenta or even stripes of white and purple. Did you know eggplant is basically a fruit, a variety of nightshade like tomatoes, sweet peppers and potatoes? Fruit or vegetable, it is one of my favorites. Full of nutrition, eggplants are low in calories and are rich source of antioxidants, folate, vitamins and minerals, They are high on fiber and low on fat. Most of all they are delicious and can be cooked in many ways. It is not the boring veggie you believe it to be.

When buying eggplants look for vivid color, Choose the ones which are light in weight and free of any bruises, scars or discolouration. They should be firm with their calyx cap still green. This ensures that the eggplant is fresh and ripe. Test the ripeness by pressing the skin of the vegetable with your thumb pad, if it springs back the eggplant is ripe. Once cut, place them in a bowl of salt water to remove bitterness. Throw away the water.

There are so many delicious dishes you can make with eggplants. You can grill them with herbs, bake with cheese, roast and mash to make baba ghaoush, eggplant mash or baingan bharta/chokha, use variety of ingredients,to stuff them or you can make eggplant sauce to top up the pizzas/sandwiches etc. Aubergine dip is one of my favorites and so are these two recipes from my Indian kitchen.

The sweet and sour eggplant or khatte meethe baingan is an explosion of tastes. I love the sweet tangy flavours spiced up with chili and other spices. The tamarind/tomatoes and jaggery give the dish a unique texture and flavor. I love garlic and it pairs beautifully with aubergines.

1. Sweet and Sour Eggplant Vegetable

The khatte meethe baingan have two variations. One is made with Tamarind and jaggery and the one here uses tomatoes instead of tamarind. Chokh Vagun is a traditional Kashmiri baingan recipe that uses tamarind and fennel seeds. This is a variation of the same.

Ingredients :

Baby eggplants – 8-10

Tomatoes – 1/2 cup finely chopped

Ginger – 1/2 inch (grated)

Garlic – 4 cloves (grated)

Red Onions – 2 medium size ( finely chopped)

Corriander Greens – 1/4 cup (finely chopped)

Curry Leaves – 6-8

Fennel seeds – 1/2 teaspoon

Onion Seeds (kalounji) – 1/4 teaspoon

Mustard Seeds – 1/4 teaspoon

Cumin Seeds – 1/4 teaspoon

Jaggery – 2 tablespoon (shredded or granules)

Salt – to taste

Whole Dry Red chili -1

Hing/asafoetida – generous pinch

Red Chili Powder – to taste

Coriander Powder – 2 tablespoon

Garam Masala Powder – 1/4 teaspoon

Mustard Oil – 2 tablespoon (you can use any other oil too)

Method :

Wash and remove the stems of the eggplants.

Slice them lengthwise in 2 inch slices and put them in a bowl of salted water). Discard the water before using the vegetable slices.

Heat the oil in a heavy bottom pan (Kadhayi) and once it begins to smoke lower the flame. Add cumin seeds and mustard seeds. When they start to crackle add dry red chili ,curry leaves and onion.

Stir the onions on low heat till they become translucent. Add ginger and garlic. Stir.

Add salt to help it become brown. When the mixture turns golden brown add red chili powder and a tablespoon of water. Mix well. This will give color to the masala. Cook on low heat for a few minutes then add the other dry masalas. Mix well and let it cook for a minute. Add chopped tomatoes. Mix well.

Cover and let it simmer for a few minutes. When the tomatoes become soft and mushy and the masala is fully absorbed add half a cup of water to it and mix. Let it cook for 5-8 minutes.

At this point stir in the eggplant slices and cover. Let it cook till the eggplant slices become tender. Now add jaggery and mix well. If the tomatoes are not sour ones then add a teaspoon of amchoor or mango powder at this point. You can replace tomatoes with tamarind taste too. I dissolve jaggery in tamarind water and add that instead of tomatoes at times.

Remember that sometimes the vegetables dont soften once the souring agent is added so it is better to let them tenderize before adding any sour thing.

Cover the curry and let cook for a while untill all the spices and other ingredients blend well.

Open the lid and add chopped coriander greens. Cover and cook for 5 more minutes then turn off the heat.

You can make it dry or a little curried per your liking.

Serve it hot with fresh phulka/paratha or steamed rice.

2. Sweet And Sour Eggplant With Winter Greens 

The second delicious vegetable with eggplant today is speciality of Varanasi or Benares as we know it. Aaloo bhanta saag (Thanks Sangeeta Khanna for reminding me this name) is mostly eaten with kachoris there. The preparation is a staple of Uttarpradesh and Bihar and usually prepared during Diwali when the market is brimming with fresh tender winter greens. It is a mushy vegetable made with baby potatoes, spinach, fresh dill greens and masala badi (A condiment- a dehydrated lentil cake).  My version doesn’t have potatoes. The spinach and wispy fern like dill greens (sowa) give it a unique flavour.

Dill leaves / shepoo/ sowa has a strong but pleasant anise-like flavour. Usually it is used in combination with spinach. I use it for making pakodas (dumplings) and for aloo sowa veggie too. Both the green have a high nutrient content. The dill springs have many essential volatile oils which are good for health. It also has vitamin A,C, B6, manganese, folate, copper, calcium and iron. Spinach on the other hand is full of phytonutrients. omega3 fatty acids among other things.

To make this wonderful veggie you will need

Ingredients :

A medium size round eggplant

Spinach leaves – 250 gm

sowa or fresh dill greens 100 gms

ginger – 1 tablespoon grated

garlic – 3 cloves finely chopped

onion – 1 roughly chopped

Dry red chili whole -1

cumin seeds – 1/4 teaspoon

fenugreek seeds – 1/4 tsp

fennel seeds – 1/4 tsp

Generous pinch of hing or asafoetida

Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp

Salt – to taste

Mustard oil – 1-2 tablespoon

Method –

Wash, clean and chop the spinach and dill greens. Keep aside.

Wash and cut the eggplant in small cubes. Put them in salted water.

Heat a tablespoon of mustard oil in a kadhai or cast iron wok. Once the oil begins to smoke lower the heat and add, fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds and whole red chili. When the seeds begin to crackle add onion, garlic and ginger. Stir well.

Add chopped onions and just when they turn translucent add the chopped brinjals Add salt , turmeric powder and cover. Cook for 5 minutes on medium heat then open the lid and add the greens. Stir well.

Dry roast fennel seed and onion seeds slightly and crush them in a mortar. Add this now.

Let it cook covered for a few minutes so the spices get absorbed in the vegetables (around 20 min) and then give it a stir after removing the lid.

You can make this wonderful veggie dry or coated with masala. I have not added the badi in this version but if you do then crush the badi (I use the amritsari urad dal badi) and in a little oil turn in over with crushed garlic till it browns. Add this to the vegetable and let the flavours seep in.

Serve it hot with Jowar bhakri/ roti/ poori or kachori. Winter greens taste best with flatbreads (roti/bhakri) made with sorghum, pearl millet and Indian corn flour. These are best for people following paleo or gluten-free diet and taste wonderful too.

If you make any of these, do let me know how they turned out. Any suggestions are welcome.

Enjoy! 

Recipe – Elephant Yam Dumpling Curry (Suran Kofta Curry)


This is a traditional recipe made in many kayastha homes in Uttar Pradesh. Sooran/ Suran/ zamikand/jimikand in hindi or Elephant Foot Yam/Indian Yam in English, is an ugly tropical tuber wit ha thick hide. It is very high in carbohydrates and a good source of proteins, key and trace minerals like copper, zinc, magnesium etc, It also has some vitamins and antioxidants and has high dietary fiber content. Yam is also very low in saturated fats and sodium. You can find all the health benefits on Google. 😀

I love yam for many reasons, unlike arbi ( Colocasia), yam is easy to digest. I have a sensitive digestive system and yam suits me perfectly. We cook this vegetable in many ways. Mom remembers my granny making sooran ki sabzi and chutney especially during Diwali when they lived in Banaras. She also makes the maharashtriyan or Konkani style of curry. My dad was from Allahabad so we got to eat the delicious kayastha cuisine too. This particular recipe is my innovation of a recipe from my dad’s side.  The mixture used  for making dumplings or koftas can also be used for making kabab but I don’t add so much of besan (gram flour) to the kabab mixture.

To make the Dumplings/Koftas you will need :

Yam – 400 Grams

Onion – 1 medium (finely chopped)

green chilies – 2 medium (finely chopped)

Ginger – 1 teaspoon (grated)

Salt – to taste

Garam masala – 1/2 teaspoon

Amchoor (mango powder) or anardana powder (pomegranate seed powder)  – 1/2 teaspoon

Red chili powder – 1/4 teaspoon

Roasted cumin powder – 1/2 teaspoon

Coriander greens – 2 tablespoons – finely chopped

Besan ( gram flour) – 1/2 cup

For the Curry you will need –

Onion – 1 large (finely chopped)

Tomatoes – 4 big ( grated)

Ginger – 1/2 inch

Garlic – 4-5 pods.

Coriander greens – 1/4 cup (finely chopped)

Coriander Powder – 3 heaped table-spoon

Haldi (Turmeric) Powder – 1 teaspoon

Garam Masala – 1/2 Teaspoon

Cumin seeds – 1/2 teaspoon

Asafetida – 2 pinches

Salt – to taste

Bay leaf – 1 ( if Garam masala doesn’t have it)

Green peas – 1 cup (optional)

Oil – for deep-frying and cooking

To make the Koftas or Dumplings –

Scrub and wash the Yam properly and peal a thick layer of skin. Wash it again to remove any dirt that may have remained from the skin.

Cut the yam in 2 1/2 inch thick broad pieces . Put them in a steamer or pressure cook till soft (2-3 whistles is good) . ( I usually put it in arhar (Toor) daal while cooking. Doing this takes away the itchiness of sooran and gives the dal a very good flavor. )

Once the yam is soft take it out in a plate and cool.

In a bowl place cooled yam pieces and all the ingredients listed under dumplings. Mash the yam well so that you get a smooth mixture. Use your hands. It will make it easier for you to judge the consistency of the mixture and working with fingers will also help the air pass through the mixture and that will make them soft and fluffy.

Once the mixture is ready, make small round dumplings or koftas, about the size of a walnut in its shell, and keep them ready in a plate.

In a kadhai (wok) heat mustard oil or any vegetable oil you use. (If using mustard oil, make sure to bring it to smoking point and then turn the heat down)

Slowly add the dumplings to the hot oil and let them deep fry till golden brown from all over. Keep the flame medium low so that the koftas get cooked from inside too.

Take out the koftas on a kitchen napkin to remove excess oil.

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Now for the gravy / curry :

In a wide pan heat a little oil ( 4-5 tablespoons) ( use the oil in which you fried the koftas). Once the oil heats add cumin seeds and asafetida. Add finely chopped onions and stir. (you can add bay-leaf if your garam masala doesn’t have it)

When the onions become translucent, add finely chopped or grated ginger and garlic. (I avoid paste)

Let it brown properly. Adding a little salt and 1/2 a teaspoon of sugar helps in browning .

Add red chili powder and a little water ( 2 tablespoons) to give that rich brown color to the gravy. Let it cook for a while. Once the water reduces a bit add coriander powder, haldi powder, garam masala powder and stir. let the masala cook on medium to low heat for a few minutes.

Add tomato purée or grated tomatoes at this point. (I discard the seeds of tomatoes)

Stir the mixture properly so that all the spices get incorporated properly. Cover the pan with lid and let it cook for sometime on medium heat. Once the masala starts leaving the sides and the oil separates, add a little water and peas and finely chopped coriander greens . Mix well and cook for sometime.

Add 2 cups of water to make a thick gravy and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes.

You can add koftas at this time and cook for another ten minutes before taking the kofta curry out in a bowl to serve. I keep the curry and koftas separate and add them half an hour before serving. That way the koftas don’t dissolve in the curry and taste nice too.

Take out the delicious , soft from inside and crispy from outside yam kofta curry in  serving dish and eat with rice or parathas. You can place the fried koftas in the serving dish and pour the thick hot gravy on top too. Garnish with fresh finely chopped coriander greens.

There is another tip for the koftas – If you are preparing this dish to be had later you can half fry the koftas and keep them covered in a bowl.  About half an hour before serving you can deep fry them again and add to the curry.  Koftas stay crisp and it saves time if you are working or need to go out for somewhere. half-done koftas can be kept in the fridge to be used the next day too and will taste exactly like the freshly fried.)

To make the kababs – prepare the mixture as you did for the koftas. You can reduce the amount of besan in this recipe. I add only two tablespoon. The mixture should be gooey for the kebabs to taste good. Trust me you will forget shammi kebabs once you eat these.

Wet your palms and make tikki (cutlets kebabs) from the yam mixture. Keep the edges rough. Brush the non stick frying pan with ghee or oil and gently place the kebabs once the oil/ghee is hot. Keeping the heat medium – low. Turn the kebabs when one side is done. They should be golden brown and crisp from both sides. Serve with green chutney and onion rings.

( If using the desi variety of elephant foot yam always apply oil to your hands or use gloves while handling it as it can be very itchy.)

I also make sooram chutney (rarely), chokha and bharit or bharta. Will put up the recipes soon.

Include this healthy vegetable in your daily diet. It can be a good substitute for potato and can be used in Paleo diet too.

How do you cook this vegetable ? Do share your views.

Recipe – Gatte Ki Sabzi (Chickpea Flour Dumpling Curry)


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I love gatte ki sabzi as much as I love kadhi pakoda . Usually I keep both the besan dishes simple but sometimes I add veggies to give the original one some new flavor and texture. The traditional gatta curry is a staple dish from Rajasthan made with chickpea flour dumplings dunked in thick yogurt gravy with spices. A delicious blend of flavours. I have someone with lactose intolerance so I made this particular one with onion and tomato gravy which is equally delightful in taste. I am giving both versions here.

The dish can be had with rice or roti. You can make it with a little gravy or just let the gattas soak in all the spiced curry and use it as a dry vegetable.

Ingredients :

To make Gatta you will need:

Besan (chickpea flour) – 1 Cup

Dry roasted cumin powder – 1/2 teaspoon

Red Chili Powder – 1 teaspoon

Turmeric Powder – 1/2 teaspoon

Coriander Powder – 1/2 Teaspoon

Oil – 1 teaspoon

Asafoetida – A Pinch

Salt to Taste

Water – Enough to make a semi hard dough ( I sometimes use Mattha/Tak/whisked curd instead of water)

For the onion tomato base gravy you will need :

Onion – 1 Big (finely chopped)

Tomatoes – 3-4 Medium Size ( grated or puréed )

Ginger – 1/2 inch (grated)

Garlic – 2-3 cloves (grated)

Fresh coriander leaves – 1/4 cup

Turmeric Powder – 1/2 Teaspoon

Coriander Powder – 1 Heaped Teaspoon

Red Chili Powder – 1/2 Teaspoon or to taste

Asafoetida Powder – A pinch

Cumin Seeds – 1/2 Teaspoon

Mustard Oil – 2 Tablespoon (You can use any other oil too)

Method 

To prepare the gatta or dumplings

Take a big mixing bowl and throw in all the ingredients listed for making the dumplings (gatta) except the dahi/mattha/tak(buttermilk) or water.

Mix them well.

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Now slowly add the prefered liquid or curd as you bind the chickpea flour. Add enough to make a dough which is neither too hard nor too soft. Stiff enough to roll out like sausages. 1inch thickness is okay. You can roll them out longer too. I find this size convenient to handle.

Now take a heavy bottom pan and boil enough water in it to cover the rounded gatta strips. Delicately slide the sausage like strips into boiling water and let them boil for at least 20-30 mins.

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Once done the gatta strips will turn white in colour and float to the top. This is the time to take them out slowly in a plate and let them dry.

Once dry cut them in to smaller pieces. ( some people fry these before adding to the curry. i keep it oil free.)

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Keep them aside and prepare the curry now.

For the curry 

Put a heavy bottom pan on heat and add the oil. Once the mustard oil reaches smoking point add asafoetida and cumin seeds. Add chopped onions. Add salt at this time. It helps the onion to brown quicker. Once the onion turns golden brown add ginger and garlic and saute it too. Add red chili powder and a little water so that the mixture doesn’t burn.It also lifts the spices. Lower the flame and let it cook for a while then add the grated tomatoes. Stir properly and let it simmer on low flame. Keep it covered. Once the mixture seems cooked , add the spices (haldi, coriander) Mix well.

Cook it till the oil starts separating from the masala. Once it reaches that stage add gattas and stir. Do it slowly so the gattas don’t break. Cover and let the dumplings soak in the flavours.

After five-ten minutes stir it again. ( At this stage you can leave out adding the liquid and enjoy the semi dry veggie with rotis/ parathas etc. Garnishing it with chopped coriander ) Or add warm water to the mixture to make a thick gravy. Stirring in as you add the liquid. Keep the flame high and bring it to a boil. Let it boil for a few minutes then reduce the heat.

Once the gravy is thick and the aromas begin to fill your kitchen it is time to turn off the gas and garnish the gatta curry with freshly chopped coriander leaves.

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Enjoy the curry with rice or roti.

To make the Curd gravy you need 

Whisked Curd – 1 cup instead of water. All other ingredients remain the same.

Heat oil ( or Ghee which I prefer when using curd), add hing, cumin seeds and a whole red chili. Once the seeds splutter, add chopped onion , ginger, garlic and fry till golden brown, add chilli powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder,salt and sprinkle a little water to deglaze the pan.and lift the spices. Fry it till it leaves oil. Gently tip in the whisked curd little by little. Keep stirring so it doesn’t curdle.

Keep the flame low. Stir till the masala is integrated properly Add a little water if needed to prepare the thick gravy. Let it boil for sometime and then tip in the gatta pieces. Let it simmer on slow flame for at least 10 minutes. Keep it covered.

Once done remove from flame and garnish with finely chopped fresh coriander leaves before serving.

Carrot Fudge ( Gajar Ki Barfi) – Recipe


Summer is fast approaching in North India and the winter vegetables are disappearing from the markets. Fortunately the red juicy local carrots are still sweet to eat and readily available. I love sweets and carrot halwa is one of my all time favorite winter dessert but this time I wanted to do something different. After the success of besan burfi I decided to make carrot barfi. Barfi is mainly made from milk, ghee and sugar and has a lot of variations like kaju barfi, badam barfi, besan barfi and coconut burfi etc. The carrot and doodhi (bottle gourd) burfis are nutritious and have a delicious taste.

This particular soft burfi (fudge) is low on fat and sugar as the carrots were naturally sweet and barfi usually takes less ghee (clarified butter) than the traditional halwa.  Carrots are packed with nutrition and are full of vitamin A and antioxidants. Totally a powerfood.  Full of flavor and goodness of carrots this classic sweet is simple and easy to make.

We will need – 

Carrots – 1/2 kg

Sugar- 1 cup ( you can add sugar to taste depending on the sweetness of the carrots)

Ghee ( Clarified Butter) – 4 table spoon full

Green Cardamom Powder – 1 teaspoon

Raisins – 4 table spoons

Shredded Almonds – 4 tablespoons

Milk (Full Cream) – 1/2 Kg

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Method –

Select carrots which are thin and have less of yellow central part. I use the red local carrots and not the English ones but you can choose the ones available in your market.

Wash, peel and grate the carrots.

In a heavy bottom pan heat the milk and when it comes to boil add the grated carrots.

Let it boil for a minute then put it on simmer.

Let the mixture cook till it thickens and the milk is nicely absorbed. Slow cooking will turn the milk into khoya like texture so there won’t be any need for adding khoya.

Once all the milk is absorbed add sugar and continue to stir to avoid burning the mixture. Keep the heat at medium to low. The sugar will make the mixture a bit liquidy so let all the water evaporate.

Once the mixture is free of all liquid add ghee and stir. Let it cook in ghee at slow heat till the mixture starts to leave ghee from the sides.

At this point add cardamom powder, half of the shredded almonds and the raisins. Stir them well.

Take a tray or small cake tin and line it with foil or grease it properly.

Turn off the heat and transfer the mixture into the tray or tin. Smoothen it properly and sprinkle the remaining shredded almonds on top for garnish.

Let it set for at least two to three hours. You can keep the tray in the fridge too.

Once the mixture is set properly cut it into the desired shape ( square, rectangle or diamond ).

Remove the pieces on to a plate and serve. Unlike the halwa the burfi is eaten cold. You can add shredded pistachios or put silver vark if desired.

The beautiful and delicious orange-red burfi is ready to eat.

ps- The slideshow doesn’t show pictures in order . Sorry about that. Do follow the steps in the recipe. 🙂

Winter Favorite – Punjabi Kadhi With Methi Pakoda


Chickpea Flour Fritters in Spicy Yogurt Gravy 

(Gluten free) 

This what is known as comfort food.

Kadhi is one of my favorite winter dishes though we make it in sumers too. Be it mungodi ki kadhi or the ever popular besan ke pakode wali kadhi, it is eaten with gusto by everyone. You can have a huge variety of pakodas for the kadhi depending on what’s the mood of the day. 🙂 I come from the a family where I was fortunate to savour cuisines from both Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh. We make the zirya miryachi kadhi as well as the simple pakodiwali kadhi UP style. Kadhi can be spicy, muted, thick, soupy, depending on who is making it.

I can eat the dish with plain boiled rice, chapati or just simply without any accompaniment. It is filling and healthy. Usually I make enough kadhi to last a few days. It is believed that kadhi tastes even better the next day.

This one is a panjabi variation  which I learned at my inlaws’ place then added my twist t oit later on. It tastes awesome with makki (corn flour) ki roti. The combination is out of the world.  I love to add fresh methi leaves (fenugreek leaves), palak ( spinach leaves, finely chopped potatoes to the pakodas. Sometimes I just use onions. As I said it all depends on what’s available and the mood that day. Methi/ spinach enhance the taste of the dish. You can remove methi from the pakoda recipe and add it to makki / wheat flour roti too. My mother makes UP style Kadhi with plain pakodas ( just mildly spiced chickpea flour. No added veggies).

Best Kadhi is made with sour curd and is eaten usually at lunch as sour curd is not eaten at night. The trick is in following the recipe properly or the kadhi won’t come out well.

In North India, kadhi is seasoned at the end just before serving. sometimes individually. A whole red chilli and tempering in ghee for each bowl. It is milder in taste and texture in comparison with panjabi kadhi. You can either season it before adding the liquid curd mixture or at the end once the dish is ready to serve. Both have their distinct flavours and aromas.

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Ingredients for the pakodas (Dumplings) –

Besan ( gram flour/ chickpeas flour) – 1 cup

Ajwain ( carom seeds) – 1/4 teaspoon

Onion – roughly chopped 2 medium

Potato – finely chopped 1 medium ( optional)

Methi leaves ( fenugreek leaves) – fresh, finely chopped, a handful

salt, red chilli – to taste

assafoetida – a pinch

garam masala ( homemade) – 2 pinch

Green chilli – finely chopped 1 small

Oil – to fry

Tempering :

Onion – 1 large , finely chopped

Whole red chillies – 2-3

Mustard seeds – 1 teaspoon

Coriander seeds – 1 teaspoon

Fenugreek seeds –  1 teaspoon

Curry leaves – a few

Mustard oil or any other oil – 2 table-spoon

Garlic – finely chopped 4-5 pods

Ginger – finely chopped  1/2 inch

Asafoetida – a pinch

Preparing buttermilk for Kadhi :

Take 2 cups of sour curd. beat it properly and dilute it with water to make a homogenous buttermilk. Usually 2 cups of water is enough but you can adjust it as per need. If you like the kadhi thinner then use another cup full of water. Add salt ( a little, remember the pakodas have salt in them too), turmeric power, garam masala, coriander powder , red chilli powder and about 4 tablespoons of chickpeas flour to the buttermilk and stir properly. I put 1 teaspoon each except coriander powder which is 2-3 teaspoons. I dip two stems of curry leaves in the butter milk at this time.

Keep aside.

To make the Pakodas:

Take besan in a wide-mouthed bowl. Add all the ingredients to it and mix well. Slowly add water and whisk it allowing the air to pass through the batter.  It will make the pakodas lighter. I don’t recommend eating soda etc.

The batter should be light and fluffy like cake batter. Test – drop a drop of batter in a bowlful of water. if the batter floats it is ready to fry.

Now heat a wok ( Kadhai, preferably iron one) and add oil ( I use mustard oil but you can use any vegetable oil or even bake the pakodas) . Let the oil come to smoking point . For mustard oil, it is essential. For others, just make sure the oil is hot enough to fry.

Keep the heat medium and gently drop the pakodas into the oil. I use my fingers to lift the battter for pakodas. Once the pakodas have swelled to become doble their size and are fluffy and nicely browned from all sides, drain them on an absorbent paper. The inside should be airy and gooey and outside they should be crisp.

You can always make some extra ones and keep them for future use. I avoid too many pakodas in kadhi as they absorb the liquid. Less pakodas mean less oil too 😉

Now to make the Kadhi 

Keep a large pan add a little mustard oil for tempering. ( You can do this step later also. If not tempering now then just add the buttermilk mixture into the pan and keep stirring till it boils. Heat should be high in the beginning and medium to low later.

If tempering at this stage then 

Add asafoetida, and all the spices into the hot oil. once they start to crackle add onion, garlic, ginger, curry leaves ( take out the ones you had dipped in buttermilk earlier) and let the mixture sizzle. Stir it to let it roast properly . The raw smell of ginger , garlic should go and onions should be nicely browned.

Add the buttermilk slowly to the tempering , stirring continuously till the mixture begins to boil. Always stir in clockwise direction. Make sure you take a large deep pan as the buttermilk will froth while boiling.

I let it simmer on low heat for 10-20 min sometimes even more. It depends on how thick or thin I want the kadhi to be. You can add pakodas to it at this time or , like me, add them half an hour before serving so they keep their shape and don’t become soggy. If your pakodas are slightly hard then it is better to add them while the mixture is boiling and leave them in.

Pakodas soak up the kadhi so make sure there is enough liquid. The pakoda – buttermilk proportion should be right.

Taste the kadhi at this point for salt and spices. Whatever you feel is less simply add according to your taste.

Garnish with fresh chopped coriander leaves. Serve with rice, roti or eat it plain without any side dish.

Enjoy the Hot spicy Panjabi Kadhi with a little poem by Priyanka Dey, our very own indiblogger  😀

 

“Take a dip
or a sip, if you like
please you senses
get intoxicated,
by simply looking at the sight..
winter’s on a roll
as the warm bed is a matter of delight
see how everything turns to yellow
green silver and bright.”