Recipe – Himachali Chana Madra


A few friends have been asking me for the recipes of the dishes I had been cooking during the lockdown. I am wondering if a separate food blog is needed to catalog all the recipes but till I decided that I will use this space to share them. Excuse me for the photos. I hadn’t thought of blog post while clicking. Will add more later. 

I have been thinking of the hills and our road trips, my trekking years and the local food eaten in homes or local eateries of Himachal and Uttarakhand.

Light and aromatic yogurt based gravies are summer’s soul food. Desi khana or traditional meal made with locally sourced ingredients is something I root for even though I love to explore other cuisines. Summer is also season for nostalgic eating.

I first had madra at the home of a local in kangra during a road trip. A family from the village had a small tea stall and provided meals if possible. Though not as part of the menu. It all depended on what’s available and we were lucky to get madra, kale chane ka khatta and rice.

The slow cooked scrumptious Chana Madra is not just quintessential part of authentic Himachali Dham but also of the wedding menu. The whole and ground spices, creamy tangy curd and the buttery chickpeas fill the dish with melange of flavours. Madra is made with Rajma too. The Chamba rajmah tastes delicious in madra but I love the Kangra version with chickpeas.

Today’s thali had one dish each from a few parts of india to which I belong in some way. Aamras from Maharashtra (Mother’s side), old vintage nimbu pickle from Uttarpradesh ( father’s side), madra from Himachal ( In-law’s side) and kelya upkari from Konkan ( nani’s maternal side). Comfort and love in every bite. I’m thinking of making a few more dishes that are close to my heart in the coming days.

Ingredients :

Kabuli Chana / Chickpeas ( Soaked overnight and boiled) – 2 Cup ( can use canned chickpeas too)

Asafoetida – 2 pinch

Cloves – 3-4

Cinnamon – 1/2 inch stick

Black Cardamom – 2-3

Green Cardamom Powder – 1/4 tsp

Sugar – 1/4 tsp

Black Peppercorn – 3-4

Cumin Seeds – 1/2 tsp

Coriander Powder – 2 tsp

Turmeric Powder – 1 tsp

Salt – as required

Raisins – 3 tsp ( soaked and drained)

Thick whipped curd – 2 cups

Ghee/ clarified butter or Mustard Oil – 2 tbs

For the Rice Paste –

¼ cup raw white rice

1 cup water

1-2 pods of green cardamom

Soak  ¼ cup rice in 1 cup of water and cardamom. Grind this mixture and set aside.

Method –

In a heavy bottom pan heat mustard oil to the smoking point and then reduce the heat. ( For ghee you just need to warm it)

Add asafoetida, black cardamom, cloves and cinnamon stick

Stir and add cumin seeds. When they crackle add coriander and turmeric powder and stir. Make sure the masala doesn’t burn.

Add boiled chickpeas and stir properly.

Add the whisked yogurt and keep stirring continuously. Keep the lame low or the yogurt will curdle. Add salt and green cardamom powder.

Cook on medium heat for 10-15 minute. Stir occasionally.

Once the mixture comes to a boil add he rice paste water and mix well.

Continue to stir and cook for another 20-25 minutes.

I usually add a tablespoon or two of hot homemade ghee on top, stir and let it simmer for another ten minutes thicken the gravy.

Turn off the heat, add chopped fresh coriander greens and mix.

Serve with plain boiled / steamed rice or roti.

Winter Special – Sarson Da Saag Te Makki Di Roti


Earthy, flavorful, full of nutrition and delicious in taste sarson ka saag or mustard greens is a perfect winter meal. A staple in rural Punjab it is enjoyed by both Punjabis and non-Punjabis alike. The meal is often accompanied with buttermilk, homemade white butter, curd, radish/onion/green chili, jaggery. Made with seasonal mustard leaves along with other leafy veggies like bathua (Chenopodium or pigweed) and spinach the main dish has its variation in every household. Some people add turnip or radish to it while cooking. Others may use a little jaggery to balance the slight pungent taste of mustard greens.  A mix of spices is stirred in to build up the flavor.

I learned this recipe from my MIL. Their village home surrounded by fields of mustard and maize. Fresh mustard leaves are tender dark green colored broad leaves with flat surface and may have either toothed, frilled or lacy edges depending on the cultivar type. Its light-green stem branches out extensively into many laterals and have a sweet peppery flavor.

My MIL always discarded the big, damaged or yellowing leaves. Only tender small/medium leaves were used for the saag. She used the tender stems called Gandal too. Gandal is also used to make delicious pickle but that we will talk about some other day. The stems are peeled and the upper thick fibrous layer discarded. Then they are cut into small cubes and added to the chopped leaves. She said it provided the sweetness to the saag and she is so right. The addition of gandal is a game changer in the making of this dish.

Preparing sarson ka saag is a labor of love, a time consuming process so many people make it in large quantity and freeze it. Whenever the craving strikes the saag is thawed and seasoned freshly to be enjoyed again.  If you have a time crunch do clean and wash the leafy greens in advance and cook them with essential ingredients to save time.

Here is the recipe :

Sarson ka Saag :

500 gm – cleaned, washed, finely chopped mustard or sarson leaves and tender stems

250 gm – washed cleaned and chopped bathua or chenopodium leaves

250 gm – cleaned, washed and chopped palak or spinach leaves

Ginger –  1/2 inch piece+ julienne 1 tbsp

Garlic – 8-9 cloves

Green chili -4-5

Onion – 1 medium . chopped fine

Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp

Red chili whole/ powder – 1/ to taste

Salt – to taste

Ghee/Clarified butter – 2 tbs

Turmeric Powder -1/2 tsp

Hing / asafoitida – 2 -3 pinch

Coriander seeds – 1 tsp

Maize flour / makki ka aata – 3-4 tbsp

Method :

Once you have all the greens cleaned, washed and chopped add them to the pressure cooker with a little water, salt, turmeric powder.

Pound the ginger, garlic and green chilies together in a mortar and pestle and add to the greens. This adds a delicious flavor to the saag.

Pressure cook till 3-4 whistles and lower the flame to cook for another few minutes or till the leaves are completely cooked. Let the cooker cook down then open and coarsely mash the saag with a potato masher or a buttermilk churner (Mathani) till it is a nice even mix. Add the maize flour and mix well so that there are no lumps.

Let it cook on slow heat to get the desired consistency then turn off the gas.

Now it is time  season it. You can cool and keep the saag in the fridge at this stage for future use.

For the Tadka or seasoning, heat ghee in a pan and once it warms add asafoetida and cumin seeds and coriander seeds. When they crackle add whole red chili and chopped garlic. Fry it  little till it browns a bit then add chopped onions and fry till they becomes translucent and pinkish in color, add some chopped ginger. red chili powder, stir and add the cooked saag to it. Cook on low flame for sometime and then urn off the stove. Keep it covered for sometime for the flavors to seep in. Serve hot with makki ki roti topped with a dollop of fresh butter r warm ghee.

Note – If you do not find bathua you can add a small tender turnip or  chopped fresh tender radish with ts greens. It gives a very nice flavor.

Never ever blend the greens in a mixer, it not just changes the flavor a bit but makes texture sticky and goey.  Saag should always be preferred “Ghota hua” or ” coarsely mashed” for the authentic taste.

If you wish add tomatoes then grate 1 large tomato and add to the seasoning after the onions have changed color. Fry the mixture properly till it is well cooked then add the saag. I avoid tomatoes at all cost.

You can change the proportion of  the tadka / seasoning as per your taste but do not let the spices overwhelm the dish. The flavor of leafy greens must play a major role in taste.

Makki Ki Roti : 

The makki ki roti is traditionally made by flattening the ball of dough between the palms of hands. I learned it this way and even cooked it on chulha but here is an easy way.

Makki atta / Maize Flour – 1 cup  (2-3 rotis)

Warm water – as required

Method – 

Take the flour in a plate and add warm water slowly. Keep rubbing the flour with your fingers as you bind it. Warm water ensures that the rotis come out soft and nice. Bind the flour and press it with the base of your palm till it becomes a cohesive mass and comes together in a nice dough. Cut the dough in two parts and make a ball.

Take a cling wrap and spread it on the kitchen counter. Apply a little oil and place one ball of the dough. Flatten it a bit  with fingers and cover with one side of the cling wrap. Roll with a rolling pin till it s round and flat. It should be a little thicker than the wheat roti. Gently lift it and place it on the hot tawa. I usually apply a little oil to the tawa and wipe it before putting the roti. Let it cook on one side on slow flame. Once slight brown spots appear flip itand let it cook. Once both sides are nicely cooked toast it on open flame by moving the so that the entire area is nicely toasted.

Remove on a kitchen cloth and crush a little by holding it on you palm. Apply ghee or serve with white butter on top.

There is no sight more comforting than seeing the butter teasingly melt on the hot roti. Love hot makki ki roti with ghee and gud /shakkar too.

We make churma with stale or behi roti by crushing it with ghee and shakkar. It tastes divine. One can add a little hot milk in it too.  🙂

Serve the hot sarson da saag and makki di roti with mirchiwale pyaz, mooli, green chili, dahi and gur.

As you see this is not just food this is a love.

Bhajani Thalipeeth With Fenugreek Leaves And Green chilli Thecha


Bhajane in Marathi means ‘to dry roast’ . This flatbread is made with roasted multi-grain flours.  Every Maharashtriyan household will have their own recipe and proportions of Bhajani but basic recipe has whole grains, legumes and spices in some cases.  This nutritious flour can be used to whip up many delicious recipes like thalipeeth, variety of vadi, crackers etc.

 

The thalipeeth flour or bhajani as it is known in Maharashtra is made with

1/2 Cup – Jowar (Sorghum) flour
1/2 Cup – Bajra (Pearl Millet) flour
1/4 Cup- Ragi (finger millet) flour
1/4 Cup – Wheat flour
1 Cup – Chana Dal (Split chickpeas)
1/2 Cup – Urad Dal (split and skinned Indian black lentil)
2 Tablespoon – Coriander Seeds

1 Teaspoon – Cumin seeds

To make the Bhanjani, dry roast all the ingredients one by one till their color changes slightly and a nice roasted aroma starts coming. Be careful not to burn them. Grind them together in a food processor or grinder. Put it in air tight box and it will stay for a long time.

Fresh Fenugreek leaves are in season these days and I have used them for this variation of basic thalipeeth . You can use a variety of vegetables like cabbage, spinach, cauliflower, cucumber, carrot etc.

You can easily grow methi in pots and use the micro-greens in various recipes including this one.

 

Methichi Talipeeth 

Ingredients :

Bhajani – 1 Cup

Fresh fenugreek leaves – 1/2 cup (finely chopped)

Onion (small) – 1 (chopped fine)

Green Chilli – 1-2 ( chopped fine )

Coriander greens – 2 tablespoon ( chopped fine)

Salt – to taste

Red chilli powder – to taste ( 1/4 tsp)

Ajwain – 1/4 tsp

Ginger- garlic – 1 tsp ( chopped fine/optional)

Water to kneed the dough

Oil for cooking

Steps – 

In a large plate mix the bhanjani flour ,salt, red chilli powder, ajwain, chopped onion, fenugreek leaves, coriander leaves, ginger-garlic, chopped green chilies and rub with fingers. The moisture will be released from the veggies. Slowly add water to make a soft dough. It will be very sticky so use a few drops of oil to bring everything together in a smooth dough. You do not need to kneed the dough to much. It will not make the thalipeeth crisp if you do.

Make 2-3 balls from the prepared dough. The size wil depend on the quantity and number of thalipeeth you need.

Traditionally thalipeeth is made by patting the dough ball with wet fingers till it takes a the shape of a flatbread or roti. You can use two small plastic sheets or cling wrap squares to make the process easy. Just grease the sheets a little and place the dough ball on one sheet. Cover with the other and roll like a roti with a rolling pin or pat with fingers to shape it.

Make a few small holes in the thalipeeth for even cooking.

Heat a non stick tawa and grease it a little with oil. Place the thalipeeth on it carefully.

Put a few drops of oil in the holes and around the thalipeeth and let it cook covered on medium heat.  You can smear some water on the top side of thalipeeth so that it doesn’t dry out.

Once one side is nicely roasted flip the thalipeeth. add a few more drops of oil around the edges and let it roast properly. You’ll hear the sizzling sound when its done.

Once crisp from both the sides take it out in a plate and serve with mirchi kathecha, dry garlic chutney, curd, coriander chutney etc. Use fresh homemade white butter/ghee or yellow butter to enhance its taste.

I made some fresh thecha to go with this crisp flavorful thalipeeth

Here’s how I did it.

Hirvya Mirchi cha Thecha ( Green chilli thecha) 

This is one of my favorite chutneys made just with green chilies and raw garlic pods. Thecha means ‘to pound’ in Marathi. The ingredients are coarsely pounded in mortar-pestle to get this excellent dry chutney.

I sometimes add roasted peanuts to it. Techa is a very popular side side in Maharashtra and every household makes their version. It tastes awesome with bhakri or thalipeeth. Eat it sparingly as it is extremely fiery. If your spice threshold is less you can add some freshly chopped coriander leaves and/or roasted peanuts. You can squeeze some lemon on it too to reduce the hotness.

Ingredients :

Fresh thin green chilies – 8-10

Garlic cloves – 5-6

Roasted peanuts – 2 tbsp (optional)

Salt- to taste

Oil – 1 tsp

Coriander greens (chopped) – 3-4 tbsp (optional)

Steps – 

Chop the green chilies and garlic cloves. Chop coriander if using.

Heat a small saucepan and add a tsp of oil.

Add the chopped green chilies and till it is slightly seared from sides. Add garlic and stir properly to saute for a minute or two.

Add the coriander leaves if using and stir.

Turn off the heat and let it cool completely.

Once cooled add the mixture to the mortar along with salt and roasted peanuts.

Pound till you get a coarse mixture.

You can coarsely grind it in mixer too.

Take it out in a bowl and serve.

I made some fresh amla coriander chutney too in the morning and had another set of thalipeeth for breakfast.

Thalipeeth tastes best with these condiments, fresh butter or sujuk toop (warmed fresh ghee). Buttermilk or tempered thin curd to which chopped onion, coriander leaves are added goes well as an accompaniment.

You can have this nutritious meals any time of the day.

 

 

Healthy Sattu Paratha With Baingan Chokha


 

Sattu – roasted gram flour – is not just low on cost but healthy and one of the highest source of indigenous plant based proteins. I did a post on how to make sattu at home. You can read it here 

In Bihar esp south Bihar, Jharkhand and Eastern Utter Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab, sattu is not just  a part of daily diet but a way of life. This protein rich food is the lifeline of rural bihar because of its cost effectiveness and rightly so.  Versatile in nature, one can make rotis, litti, poories, parathas, laddoos, mix it into a refreshing sweet or salty drink or just eat this wonder flour like a chutney. The most interesting fact is this flour needs no cooking. You can just mix it in whatever preparation and enjoy its benefits.

Here we will make delicious sattu parathas where the stuffing is made of sattu flour mixed with other ingredients while the paratha is made with wheat flour. Sattu parathas are usually eaten with smoked and spiced mashed eggplant vegetable called bharta or chokha. Some people make the cooked version of it but traditionally it includes all raw ingredients apart from roasted eggplants. It is again simple and delicious dish that pairs well with these parathas.

I have also made charred bell pepper raita with it which I learned from a very talented blogger Monika Manchanda. You must visit her blog Sinamontales for such lovely recipes.

Now I have used charred or roasted sweet peppers in pasta sauces and dips but not as it is used in this raita. It was a delight to make and eat. I will do a separate post for the raitas.

To make Sattu Parathas

Ingredients  for filling:

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Chana Sattu ( roasted Bengal gram flour) – 4-5 tablespoons

Onion – 1 large finely chopped

Green chili – 1-2 finely chopped

Salt – to taste

Garlic Cloves – 4-5

Grated Ginger  – 1 inch piece

Ajwain seeds – 1/2 teaspoon

Oil from pickle ( Or red chili pickle) (Homemade) – 2 teaspoon

Lemon juice – 2 teaspoons or more

A little water.

For Paratha –

Whole wheat flour – 2 cups

Salt -a little

Ghee – 1/2 teaspoon ( salt and ghee are optional)

Water for kneading and making the dough

Steps – 

Make tight paratha dough by slowly adding water to the wheat flour, salt and ghee mixture. Once that’s done kneed it with your fist to make the dough pliable and soft.

Wrap with a moist muslin cloth and set aside.

Now, in a bowl take sattu and add finely chopped onion, green chili, ajwain seeds, salt, finely chopped garlic and grated or chopped ginger along with mashed up mango or red chili pickle with oil from the pickle. Add fresh chopped coriander greens and lemon juice.

Sprinkle some water and rub in the ingredients into the sattu gflour by massaging it with your fingers till every thing is incorporated well. The chopped veggies will release its juice so be easy with ater. The mixture must be of the same consistency as the dough.

To make the parathas 

Put a tawa or a pan on medium flame and let it heat while you roll the paratha.

Divide the dough into four or five smooth balls.

Take a ball of dough and press it a little to make it into shape of a pattie.

Dust the working board and the pattie with some dry flour then roll it out into a3-4 inch circle with a rolling pin. Spoon some stuffing on its center and gather the dough by lifting the rolled dough upward from the edges and bringing them together to seal the stuffed ball. They should meet at the center and the open ends should be sealed properly to avoid breakage and spilling.

Apply oil to the inside of the rolled circle before stuffing as it prevents breaking and spilling.

Now dust the stuffed balls again and gently roll them into a flat round paratha. Make sure the edges are thin and even.

Put the paratha on the midium hot tawa and brown from both sides.  brush ghee on the circular edges and and evenly on the paratha then flip to do the same to the other side till it is crispy and nicely done.

Transfer it to the plate and make the other parathas similarly.

To Make Bhaingan Choka/ bharta Or roasted / charred eggplant veggie –

Ingredients :

Large round eggplant – 1

Onion – 1 large chopped

Green chili – 1-2 chopped fine

Coriander greens (fresh) – 2 tablespoon chopped fine

Salt – to taste

Mustard oil – 1 tablespoon raw or smoked depending on your taste

Asafoetida – 1 -2 pinch

Garlic and ginger – finely chopped 1 teaspoon each

Steps –

Wash the eggplant and pat dry. Put it on medium flame directly on gas stove to roast evenly from all sides or you can roast till in oven too. Brush a little oil over it before roasting.

When the eggplant softens a little insert the garlic with skin into it and let it cook inside the eggplant . You can also peel and cut it to use it raw if you like the taste.

Once the eggplant is roasted well take it off flame and let it cool. Once cool, remove the charred  skin and mash it up wit ha fork or spoon.

In a bowl add the mashed smoked eggplant, finely chopped onions, mashed smoked garlic or the chopped ones, ginger, green chili, coriander leaves, salt  and mix properly. Add the mustard oil to it and hing (asafoetida) You can  smoke the mustard oil and  when it is warm add hing to it then pour over chokha too.

Both ways it tastes nice but raw mustard oil gives it a unique rustic flavor.

Some people shallow fry all the ingredients before adding them to the  roasted eggplant. That is a different version . Chokha is usually not cooked.

Serve the hot sattu parathas with baingan chokha , dahi ( curds), chaach (buttermilk)  or raita like I  did.

Enjoy this wholesome delicious rustic meal full of nutritional benefits.