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.

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Spicy Phool Makhana ( Puffed Lotus Seeds) Namkeen


 

The two recipes for Makhana snacks that I posted earlier were appreciated by many so I am posting another version for Diwali. This has dry fruits and peanuts apart from a few other healthy ingredients. You can either roast the ingredients or lightly toast them in a little ghee. Ghee, as you know, is good for health if eaten in moderation.

This crispy, low fat, low calorie snack is high on nutrition and pairs beautifully with a steaming mug of Chai. You can eat it during fasting days too.  It has a low Glycimic index and is protein rich, high in carbohydrates, gluten free and naturally vegan.

Ingredients :

Makhana or Lotus Seeds  – 2 cups

Ghee – 2 tbsp

Peanuts – 1/4 cup

Raisins – 1/2 cup

Almonds – 1/2 cup

Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp

Curry leaves – 10-12

Chopped green chili – 2 tsp

Dry coconut  slices – 1 few

Turmeric powder – 1 tsp (optional)

Salt ( Either sendha or normal table salt) – As per taste

Chaat masala – As per taste

Black pepper powder – 1/2 tsp

Dried fresh mint and methi (fenugreek) leaves – 1/4 tsp

Roasted chana daal – 4 tbsp

Roasted cornflakes – 3-4 tbsp

Rice puffs –  1/4 cup

 

Method –

Heat a pan and add a little ghee. Add makhanas and roast them on low heat till they turn light golden and become crunchy. To test, take one fox nut and press between your fingers, it should crumble. Take them out in a plate.

Add almonds and toast them till they change color. Remove and toast the peanut till slight brown. You can add a little ghee and lightly fry them them too. Remove in a plate.

Lightly roast coconut slices and remove.

Now, add the remaining ghee to the pan. Add mustard seeds and when they crackle, add chopped green chili and curry leaves. Fry them till the moisture evaporates and they become crisp. Turn off the gas.

Add the peanuts, almonds, raisins and stir. Add makhana and stir.  Add salt, chaat masala, black pepper powder to it and mix well.

Take it out in a  bowl and let it cool. Store in an airtight container.

I made one version like this and to the other added roasted cornflakes, rice puffs, roasted chana daal too. ( you need to wash and soak the dal for at least an hour before roasting)

I skipped turmeric in the first variation and only used it for certain ingredients but you should use for the entire mixture.

You can also add roasted cashew nuts and different seeds to it.

Enjoy this healthy gluten free high protein snack with hot tea.

Meethe Makhane | Jaggery Coated Fox Nuts & A Parfait


Phool makhana are one of my favorites. They are also known as lotus seeds or fox nuts. A versatile  sweet treat that is gluten free, low calorie, vegan and full of healthy nutrients. I have the savory version HERE  and a Kheer HERE.  These are very addictive but you can eat them free from all guilt. Add to vegetable curries, make desserts or munch on the savory snacks and if you have a sweet tooth like I do then make these gur ke makhane or jaggery coated makhana. These popped seeds are good to eat in fasting days too and provide instant energy. You can even give it to toddlers.

Popped Makhana is chewy but once nicely roasted it becomes crisp and nice.

 

One of the quickest snacks you can assemble. I won’t go into details of the benefits the two ingredients provide. Do Google it.

Here is how even a kid can make it in a jiffy.

Ingredients :

Fox Nuts | Makhana – 1 Cup

Organic or Chemical free Jaggery powder or grated Jaggery  – 1/4 Cup

Pure Ghee – 1 tbsp

Water – 1 tbsp

Cardamom | Til | Desiccated coconut – As per your choice ( I have not added anything here)

Steps – 

Heat ghee in a heavy bottom pan and add the popped Fox Nuts seeds. Roast them on low flame till they become crisp. Make sure to keep the flame low and do a finger test by breaking the makhana between two fingers. If done it will crumble nicely. If it doesn’t then roast a little more. Once roasted, take them out in a plate.

Toast the Til or desiccated coconut in the same pan if using and remove in a plate.

Add the jaggery powder with a tablespoon of water to the same pan and let it melt on low flame. Once the jaggery fully melts turn off the flame and add the roasted makhanas and the other ingredients if using. Stir to mix everything and let it cool in a large plate. Once the coated makhanas are cool enough to touch ( 5 minutes) separate them gently.

Store them in an airtight glass container and munch on these power snacks anytime.

You can caramelize the fox nuts with brown sugar or white sugar too but I prefer jaggery. Here I have used Organic jaggery from Monsoon Harvest Farms that was bought from Farmer Uncle . I mostly buy all my fruits and many of the other staples from them. Do take a look at their website.

The Parfait Story 

Now, I had never used caramelized makhana in a parfait.  Usually I just munch on them but this idea of substituting roasted beaten rice or Poha with fox nuts is by Sangeeta Khanna. I treasure her recipes and often look up for interesting combinations or tricks to make things better.

I make parfaits of all sorts with chilled home cultured curd. Adding, fruits, nuts, ramdana or popped amaranth seeds, roasted Poha or beaten rice flakes but this is by far the most delicious thing. The makhanas are a chewy swollen dumplings inside the smooth chilled home cultured curd. You can check the other Parfaits from the search bar but here is One of the recipes.

This is the first mango of the season. A little sour so it has given a unique flavor  the whole composition. The sweeter the fruit is the better. Eliminates the use of white sugar or any other sweetener. Just perfect for a quick breakfast.

Here’s how I made the Caramelized Fox Nuts and Mango Parfait.

Cube the best ripe mangoes (1-2) and chill. Whip and chill a cup full of homemade curd with a little honey or mango puree. I sometimes use hung curd too.

If you have the caramelized makhanas then you are ready to assemble but if you don’t then quickly caramelize them fist.

Now, take a glass and layer the curd, mango cubes and makhana till you reach the top.

Serve immediately.

I can’t tell you how delightful this tastes. Do try and let us know how it worked for you. You can caramelize a few makhanas in five minutes for this parfait so go for it.

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.

Healthy Snacks – Pan Roasted Spiced Fox Nuts


Fox nuts are highly nutritious and make a wonderful low calorie snack. They are also known as Lotus seeds and Phool Makhana and come from an aquatic plant called Euryale Fox which grows in stagnant waters or ponds in Eastern Asia. In India, makhana is used in many religeous rituals including fasting meals. A variety of dishes are prepared with this versatile puffed seed.

Roasted makhana makes a healthy snack because it’s high in magnesium, iron, zinc and low in sodium content. It has a low glycimic index and is protein rich, high in carbohydrates, gluten free and naturally vegan.

Makhana kheer, gur makhana, masala makhana or spiced makhana are some of my favorite dishes made with fox Nuts. It is also used in curries, soups, raitas and vegetables. You can add them to homemade Granola and nuts & seeds trail mixes.

This pan roasted spiced makhana recipe is easy and doesn’t take much time. You’ll love it’s crunchy texture. The puffed seed has a neutral taste so it takes on the flavors of any combinations of spices.

You can roast a large batch of makhanas and add your favorite spices to a portion whenever you feel like munching on a light snack. You can also add it to your dahi poha like I do. They pair very well in breakfast cereals. So caramelize them and toss a few in your oats, parfaits etc.

Ingredients –

Phool Makhana or puffed Fox Nuts – 100 gm

Red Chilli Powder – to taste

Black pepper powder – to taste

Pink Salt / sendha namak – to taste

Chaat masala – to taste (optional)

Turmeric- if desired a pinch

Ghee – 1 tsp

Dried mint – to taste (optional)

I have mentioned all the spice powders to taste because it all depends on your spice threshold. I prefer them mildly salted and spiced.

Steps – 

Heat a thick bottom pan on medium heat and  add makhanas and roast them on low heat so that they brown evenly and not burn. Be patient with this.

Keep stirring constantly till they become crisp. To test, take one fox nut and press between your fingers, it should crumble.

Now take them out in a plate.

In a bowl mix all the spices.

Heat ghee in the same pan and add the spices and curry leaves if using.  Stir well  and add the roasted fox nuts. Mix well so that all the fox nuts get coated properly. Roast for another minute or two and then take them out in a bowl.

You can serve them warm or let them cool before serving.

Store them in an airtight container for later use.

I used some of it in my breakfast bowl of savory Dahi Chiwada or Dahi Poha ( Beaten rice flakes in home cultured curd)

You can add, remove the spices and make your own variations. Smbhar masala, curry powder, roasted cumin powder,  peri peri powder, dried herbs, Italian seasoning all go well with it.

I used curry leaves and turmeric in one mix and black pepper, rack salt in another.  Different spices give nice aromas and flavors to the fox nuts.

Fox nuts have a good shelf life so they can be stored in air tight containers for future use. I plain roast them and keep it ready to use as desired for both sweet and savory dishes.

You can make puffed rice snack in the same way and add coconut slivers, peanuts, roasted chiwda, cashews, roasted chana, roasted chana daal etc to make an even more healthier snack. Those wanting to lose weight must include makhana in their diet.

 

 

Hope you enjoy munching on these delicious spiced Fox Nuts. I will post the jaggery coated ones in a few days along with the parfait I make.

You can perhaps roast them in air fryer too or in the oven.

Till then eat smart and stay healthy.

Lotus Stem / Kamal Kakdi / Nadru Shami kebab


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

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

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

So, let us get straight to the recipe:

Ingredients – 

Tender fresh Lotus stem – 3-4 small

Boiled Potato – 1 medium size

Ginger – 1 tbsp, finely chopped

Green chilies – 2-3, finely chopped

Fresh coriander leaves – 2 tbsp – finely cjhopped

Ghee – for shallow frying

Cloves – 4-5

Black cardamom – 2

Green cardamom – 3-4

Cinnamon stick – 1 inch

Bay leaves – 2

Black peppercorns –  6-8

Freshly ground pepper – 1/4 tsp

Kashmiri red chili powder – to taste

Garam masala powder – 1/4 tsp

Chaat masala – 1/4 tsp

Roasted cumin powder – 1/4 tsp

Salt – to taste

Clove, nutmeg and mace powder 2-3 pinches

Fennel powder – 1/4 tsp

Onion -1 medium

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

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

Steps :

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take them out on absorbent paper to remove excess ghee.

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

Note :

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

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

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

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

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

If you make these do let me know your experience.

bon appetit


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Durga Ashtami : All about kale chane and halwa poori prasad


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can find the Suji Halwa recipe here.

 

Recipe for chana ghugni or kanjakwale sookhe chane 

Ingredients : 

Black Chickpea | Kala Chana – 250 gm

Green chili – 3-4

Cumin seeds – 1 tsp

Fresh grated ginger – 1 inch piece

Ghee | Clarified butter – 2 tbsp

Coriander Powder – 3 tbsp

Ajwain – 1/4 tsp

Red chili powder – 1/2 tsp

Chana masala or amchur – 1/2 tsp

Fresh coriander leaves, chopped – 2 tsp ( optional)

Steps : 

Wash and soak kala chana overnight in a container.

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

Strain the chana water in a bowl for later use.

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

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

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

 

Poori Ingredients : 

Wholewheat flour | Atta – 2 Cup

Oil – 2 tbsp

Salt – 1 tsp

Water – as needed to knead the dough

Oil for deep frying – about 2-3 Cups

Method:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Happy Ashtami and festive season to all.

 

 

 

Sambar – A Mélange of Textures And Flavours In A Pot


I was talking to someone about Indian cuisine and the ‘authentic’ recipes for various dishes was the main point of discussion. I think the cuisine has evolved so much over the ages that it is difficult to call anything authentic. Each household has their particular way of preparing a dish which can’t be replicated. Even within a state, the taste and method of a preparing a particular dish changes almost every twenty kilometers or so.

Take the utterly delicious sambar, a dish that spans more than one state. The recipe for this humble yet very popular dish varies even in the state of Tamilnadu where it originate from. There are some basic things that go into it but ultimately each sambar is unique in its taste and texture and an assortment of seasonal vegetables goes into it depending on personal taste, availability and season.

I love sambar and eat it with plain rice, idli, vada, dosa or sometime l just indulge in a hot bowl of sambar with no accompaniments. It is filling and nutritious. A one pot meal. Soaked poha stirred in sambar is an interesting combination I discovered. Well, I don’t know if you would like to experiment but I enjoyed the taste.

I make my version of this South Indian delicacy. In cooking this way, the veggies get infused with the spices and taste incredible. I use both the wet sambar masala and the dry one. Both add a distinct taste to the dish. This recipe uses the dry sambar masala and fresh brown tamarind we find in the northern states. (not the paste)

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To make this sambar You will need :

Toovar / Arhar / Pigeon pea lentil – 3/4 cup

Assortment of vegetables –

8-10 shallots

drumstick – 2 cut into  inch long pieces

diced red pumpkin – 1/4 cup

diced bottle gourd – 1/4 cup

diced tomatoes – 1/2 cup (small) 1/4 cup ( bit size pieces)

diced french beans – 1/4 cup

diced red onion – 1/4 cup

diced carrot – 1/4 cup

Fresh ginger and garlic – 1 1/2 tablespoon grated fine

tamarind  extract –  1/2 cup

Powder Ingredients :

red chili powder – 1/2 teaspoon or to taste

coriander powder – 1 teaspoon

Sambar Powder – 2 table-spoon ( to taste)

turmeric powder – 1 teaspoon

asafoetida powder – 2 pinch

For tempering/ seasoning:

curry leaves – 2 springs (6-10 leaves)

Whole red chilies – 1-2

mustard seed – 1/2 teaspoon

fenugreek seeds – 1/2 teaspoon

asafoetida / hing – generous amount ( about 3 pinches of powder)

The preparation and collecting ingredients for sambar is the daunting task but after that it’s easy to assemble.

To make tamarind extract :

Take about two tablespoon of tightly packed tamarind and soak it in 1/2 cup boiling water, cover and keep for 10 minutes. Gently massage the soaked tamarind and squeeze out the pulp till all the pulp gets released into the water. Run it through the sieve to remove any particles. You will have a nice extract to add to the dish. You can use the ready-made paste too but the taste will differ than this one. (I use the waste to clean brass artifacts and utensils.)

Instructions :

Wash and soak toor daal ( I use the I-Shakti unpolished daal) fo 10-20 minutes. You can mix yellow moong daal or the pink lentil with toor to get another variation in taste)

Drain the water and rinse it again.

In a pressure cooker add daal, 3 cups of water, 2 pinches of hing, 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder and a little salt. Pressure cook for 2-3 whistles ( depends on the quality of daal and the cooker) It must become soft when done.

Stir it into a smooth paste with a ladle or the sambar won’t taste nice.

While the daal is cooking, prepare the vegetables. Wash and dice all the vegetables you want to use. As I do not pressure cook them, I steam the drumsticks separately if using. I don’t add it to daal while pressure cooking as sometimes drumsticks are bitter in taste.

Put a deep pan on medium heat and add some oil ( 1 tablespoon). Once it heats up, add a little mustard seeds, half of the curry leaves and 1 whole red chili. When the seeds begin to splutter add the chopped red onion, shallots and stir.

When the onions become translucent, add ginger and garlic ( you can add it to the daal while pressure cooking it too).

Add all the vegetables and give it a good mix. (don’t add the bigger tomato pieces yet)

Add all the powdered spices, a bit of salt and stir. This ensures that the veggies absorb all the flavors of the spices. Add 1/2 cup of water, cover and cook till vegetables become soft but not squishy. Add the tomatoes at this point. Stir it properly and let it simmer for a few minutes. Do not overcook the vegetables.

Now, add the daal and the tamarind extract to this mélange  of vegetables. Give it a good stir and add water as required to make a nice, thick flowing sambar. You can adjust the quantity of water as per your liking. I prefer my sambar slightly thick. ( remember the sambar masala and the veggies will soak up the liquid, so adjust accordingly.

Let the sambar come to boil and then simmer it for some more time.

Meanwhile place a tempering pan on medium heat and add a teaspoon of oil. Add a hing, mustard and fenugreek seeds, whole red chili, remaining curry leaves and then pour this tempering over the cooked sambar. I divide the tempering in two parts, first while cooking the veggies, then at the end to make it more flavorful. You can choose your own way. Adding tempering at the end ensures a great everlasting aroma and flavor.

Garnish the delicious, aromatic sambar with fresh coriander greens and serve hot with steamed rice, idli, vada or dosa.

Always add the tamarind extract after the vegetables have cooked. I use half of it first and add more if needed.  You can adjust the spices and sourness of sambar according to your taste. Dice all the vegetables the same size to ensure uiniform cooking.

Sambar stays good for 2-3 days in the refrigerator.  I usually make a little extra and keep it in the fridge to use it the next day with some other accompaniment.

Sambar Masala (podi) – Those who use the readymade variety I recommend Catch and MTR. I grind my masala for aamti as well as sambar. Will share the recipe in some other post. I had this yummy sambar with MTR rava idli and dry chutney. Didn’t have time to make the idli batter at home this time. We can later have an idli, vada recipe post too. Not to forget the lip smacking chutnies. 😀

Do let me know if you make this.

Now all this writing has made me very hungry so I am sneaking away to dunk some fresh idlies in the delicious sambar and enjoy my lunch.

Catch you later. 🙂

Soul Food – Two Traditional Indian Sweet Gruels – Atta Lapsi and Besan Seera


There is nothing like hot, aromatic, flavourful food on winter days. When it comes to sweets there are many which are my favorite winter desserts like various halwas, Jalebi, kheers, gulab jamun etc. but when I am battling cough and cold I crave for besan seera and atta lapsi, two traditional sweet gruels which are full of health and taste.

Many of my childhood memories are associated with these sweet dishes especially of the days when I was fighting a bad cough and cold at the beginning of winter and would long for hot seera from mom’s kitchen while sitting in a cozy quilt at night. Slowly I would sip or eat spoonfuls of it and doze off into blissful sleep. It is one of the sure shot home remedies for cough and cold, best to be eaten at night before sleeping. Soothes the throat and warms the body in a jiffy.

Many variations of lapsi and seera are made across the country, these two recipes are the basic ones that I make for my family. These traditional Indian desserts are not just sweet dishes but tried and tested home cure too. So who doesn’t want soul food on such difficult days 🙂

Atta Lapsi 

Made from whole wheat flour this lapsi has a good amount of complex carbohydrates for instant energy. It has other nutritional benefits too which you can Google. Some people call this dessert Atta halwa or whole wheat pudding because of its smooth velvety pudding like texture but I prefer to make it like a gruel like it was made in olden days.Rural folks still call it lapsi but now a days one doesn’t hear this word so often.  Lapsi can be made with ragi flour too and it tastes equally delicious.

For whole wheat Lapsi/Lapsee you will need:

Whole Wheat Flour – 1/2 cup

Sugar or Jaggery – 1/2 cup or less ( depends on how sweet you want it)

Water -2 cups (depends on how flowy you like it)

Black peppercorns – 6-7 crushed

Black cardamom seeds –  1/4 teaspoon crushed

To make Atta Lapsi 

First place a heavy bottom wok or pan on the stove.

Add wheat flour and dry roast it on low medium heat till it starts giving a nice aroma and the colour turns to golden almond brown. Add the crushed spices and stir. Black peppercorn and black cardamom are helpful in alleviating the symptoms of many respiratory ailments including  cold, cough or a congested chest.

Now slowly add the water stirring continuously so that no lumps are formed. Keep stirring till the mixture it smooth and gets the required texture and consistency. You can reduce or increase the amount of water as per your need. I like to keep the lapsi gruel like).  Add sugar/ grated jaggery at this point.

This recipe doesnt not require any oil or ghee(clarified butter).

Keep the flame low and cover the pan with lid for a few minutes.

Turn off the heat and serve hot.

You can add raisins and other dry fruits in it if you are making it as a dessert. Keep the consistency pudding like for the halwa.

Besan ka Seera 

 

Besan seera is one of the more popular dishes used as a home remedy for cough and common cold. This dish is gluten-free and very nutritious. Gram flour is made by finely grinding the chickpeas and is rich in protein , folate, thiamine, B6 and other vitamins,  and minerals like iron, magnesium etc. Spices like cardamom and black peppercorns are beneficial in curing many respiratory ailments including chest congestion, cold etc. I put both green and black cardamoms in this dish. Both are a good source of many nutrients like iron, manganese, essential volatile oils, calcium, magnesium etc. and they add a nice flavor to the dessert.

 

 

For Besan Seera you will need :

Besan (Gram flour) – 1/2 cup

Sugar – 1/2 cup

Ghee/ Clarified butter – 1/4 cup

Water – 2 cups

Green Cardamom seeds –  two pinches of powdered seeds

Black Cardamom seeds – two pinches of powdered seeds

 

To make Besan Seera 

Keep a heavy bottom pan or wok on medium heat. Once the pan is hot add ghee / clarified butter and warm it up. Turn the heat low once the ghee is hot then add besan/ gram flour to it and roast it till it starts giving a nice aroma and turns brown in color.

Make sure the flour doesn’t burn or get over roasted. You will be able to make out from the distinct aroma when its done.

Stir in the powdered spices.

Now slowly add water to it and keep stirring continuously so that no lumps are formed. The mixture should have a smooth velvety texture. Add or reduce water to match the consistency you need.  I like to keep it gruel like so I can sip or eat with a spoon whichever way I like.

Note– You can use milk 2 cups in case of dry cough without much mucus or use water 2 cups if there is a lot of persistent mucus with cough. I avoid milk in both the cases.

Add sugar and stir properly.  Turn off the heat and serve hot.

You need to sip it spoon by spoon before going to bed at night. Make sure you don’t get up after having it. Just cozy up and sleep. 🙂 This is if you are suffering from cold, cough and chest congestion.

You can always make this delicious sweet dish any time throughout winter and enjoy it by adding crushed almonds, raisins etc to it.

I hope you like these rustic desserts and make your winter sumptuous. Let me know your experiences.  If you have any variations to these recipes please post them in the comment section.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recipe : Fun with Stuffed Capsicum


Stuff yourself silly with this delicious recipe.

Stuffings add colour and life to any vegetable and bell peppers are a favourite choice, be it Green, Red, Yellow or Orange. They look gorgeous and each stuffing has its own special flavor and aroma. Here I have used the basic boiled potato stuffing. You can bring a healthy twist to bell peppers in your own creative way.

Ingredients:

4 medium-sized Green Capsicum (bell pepper)

4 medium-sized potatoes

6 table spoon cooking oil

3/4 tsp cumin seeds

¾ teaspoon whole coriander deeds

¾ teaspoon fenugreek seeds

3 cloves of garlic finely chopped

1 large onion finely chopped

1 green chilli finely chopped

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp coriander powder

1/2 tsp cumin powder

1/2 tsp garam masala

1/2 tsp raw mango powder

Freshly chopped coriander leaves

Salt to taste

Preparation:

Wash the green peppers well and pat dry with paper towel. Cut the top off about 1″ from where the stem is attached. Remove all the seeds and pith and discard.

Boil water with salt and blanch the peppers for 5 minutes. Take them out in a colander to cool.

( Sometimes I do not blanch especially hen putting on grill/ oven and never with the Red and Yellow peppers)

Wash and boil the potatoes. Peel and cut into small cubes (or mash) and keep aside for later use.

For the stuffing:

Heat 3 tbsps of cooking oil in a pan on medium flame, till hot.

Add the cumin seeds, coriander seeds till they splutter. Put fenugreek seeds. Turn them golden brown.

Now add the green chillies and garlic and fry till the chillies turn whitish and the garlic turns light golden.

Add the onion and fry till soft and golden.

Now add all the powdered spices and cook for 1 minute.

Add the cubed potatoes and mix well to blend with all the spices. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring often. Turn off the flame; add salt to taste and mix well.

Add finely chopped fresh coriander leaves.

Method to prepare the vegetable:

Fill each green pepper to the top with the mashed potato mix. Press down and top up to make sure they are well filled.

Heat the remaining cooking oil in a shallow pan (I use non stick flying pan so that the peppers can be lined up nicely and turned without breaking) on a low flame. When hot add the peppers (face down) and fry till golden. (Keeping the peepers this way will ensure sealing of the stuffing.)

Keep turning them in the pan so that they brown from all sides.

Once done, take them off the flame and place them on a plate lined with paper towel to allow excess oil to be soaked up. Add remaining fresh coriander leaves.

Serve hot.

Note:

There is so much variation one can do with the stuffing. You can use cooked masala Keema( minced goat meat) , sausages, lean ground beef, brown rice, scrambled Cottage cheese veggie, Mixed veggies ( carrots, tomato, beans, potatoes, soya granules, mushrooms chopped finely and cooked) etc. The options are endless.

You can also bake/ grill the peppers. Preheat oven to 225º C and once the peppers are ready to bake, do them at 225º C for 15 min. Or till done nicely.

You can top it up with any processed cheese (I like Cheddar)

You can use any colour bell pepper and turn the dish into summer carnival of colours.

So flirt with these beauties and enjoy a healthy meal.