Recipe – Instant Indian Gooseberry | Amla and Green Chili Pickle


Amla/Amlaki or Indian Gooseberry marks the advent of winter season. It is a super food and a great immunity booster due to it’s high vitamin C content. Amla is good for skin, heart, hair so I eat it raw (grated) with lunch on a daily basis apart from making variety of chutneys, pickles, jam, preserve etc. Even dry it to use later as a souring agent or as amla supari (a digestive aid and mouth freshener. All the recipes are on my blog. This is a favorite instant pickle with green chilies. Minimal oil and just the right amount of salt and spices. No preservatives or chemicals. You can eat it more than the store bought pickle. It stays well for a month in the refrigerator. I make small fresh batches till the season lasts and then a larger batch to mark the end of the season.

The fruit laden branch you see is from Safdarjung Tomb Gardens. When you visit the garden tombs please look around in the gardens too. There is a wealth of beauty waiting to be discovered. Please don’t vandalize. Be gentle.

The scientific name of Amla is Phyllanthus emblica and it belongs to Phyllanthaceae family. We all know the tremendous medicinal and culinary usage of Amla. The tree has spiritual significance too. It is said that Amalaka fruit was the final gift to the Buddhist Sangha from the great Emperor Ashoka. The Amalaka stupa is in Patna. It’s one of the Bodhi trees and also sacred in Hindu religion. It’s believed to have grown from the heavenly nectar (Amrit) hence the name Amalaki. The greenish yellow Amla berries are harvested by hand and are smooth&hard in texture. They have a sour, astringent taste. Most medicinal trees are considered sacred in Hindu religion and it’s true with Amla too.

Here’s the recipe for the instant pickle :

Ingredients :

Amla -8-10

Green Chilies -6-7

Mustard (sarson) seeds- 1 teaspoon

Fenugreek (methi) seeds – 1 teaspoon

Asafoetida (Hing) – 2 pinches

Turmeric – 1/4 tespoon

Red chili powder – 1/2 teaspoon

Salt – to taste

Mustard Oil – 2 Tablespoon

Method :

Steam the washed and pat dried Amlas and cut them into small pieces once they cool.

Heat mustard oil in a cast iron or non stick pan (I use cast iron) till it smokes.

Remove from heat.Cool it just a little and add both the seeds and hing ( asafoetida).

When the seeds begin to splutter add red chili powder and turmeric powder.

Stir in the pieces of steamed amla and raw chopped green chilies. Also add salt.

Once all the ingredients are mixed properly let it cool completely in a bowl or in the pan itself.

Take a clean glass bottle to store the pickle and keep it airtight.

The spicy tangy amla pickle is ready to eat in a an hour or kept in the refrigerator for a fortnight.

You can adjust the salt and chilies according to taste but try to keep the natural flavors. Over spiced pickle can lose its flavor and nutrients.

Always choose unblemished fruit that is firm and nice. Make sure there is no moisture while making or serving pickle for a long shelf life.

Recipe – Turkish Börülce Pilaki | Black Eyed Pea Pilaki


Turkish Food is such a joy; light, healthy, colorful it is something I relish a lot. I love to make a few of the dishes which are very similar to ours but with a distinct flavor that is synonymous with the place it comes from. 

Many years ago I had eaten Börülce Pilaki at a food fest, a wholesome and flavorful Turkish dish made with black eyed beans \ cowpea \ lobia cooked in Olive oil with tomato sauce and many other vegetables and spices like onion, garlic, potatoes, carrots, red bell pepper, freshly ground black pepper, sugar, salt, cumin, bay leaf, fresh parsley leaves and spices lots of lemon juice. I had asked the lady how to make it and made once but it wasn’t appreciated in the masala loving Punjabi household. A few months ago I decided to make it again and to refresh the process correctly I referred to Almost Turkish blog by Burcu. I adapted the recipe to make it the way I saw the lady do it.  It’s one preparation everyone must try at least once.

Lobia or Black Eyed Peas is loaded with nutrition and is a good source of folate, vitamin B1, or thiamine, vitamin A, soluble fibre, potassium to name a few. It is extremely versatile too. I love its buttery texture more than other beans.

Pilaki is a fresh and light bean stew eaten as part of the Turkish Meze. It is one of the popular dishes grouped as zeytinyağlı yemekler (olive oil dishes). They can be served hot or cold as a side dish with grilled fish or chicken. I absolutely love this particular one made with black eyed beans or Lobia as know it in India. It is healthy and light to digest so do give it a try.

Ingredients :

Lobia or Black Eyed Peas – 400 gm ( soaked overnight or for a few hours till they swell up)
Onion, roughly chopped – 1 Large
Garlic, chopped- 4-5 cloves
Green chilies, finely chopped – 2
Carrot, thinly sliced or cut in discs – 2
Potatoes, peeled and cubed chopped – 2 medium
Tomatoes, finely chopped – 3-4 large + 4 tbsp tomato paste or 1/2 can of tomatoes
Olive oil – 3-4 tbsp
juice of 1/2 lemon
Bay leaves -2
Cumin Powder – 1/2 tsp
Chopped parsley – 1/2 cup ( I used a mix or Parsley & coriander greens)
Salt – to taste
Sugar – 1/2 tsp
Ground peppercorns – to taste
Crushed red pepper flakes – to taste

Note – Keep in mind to chop all veggies in approximately equal sizes so that they cook evenly.

Method : 

Drain the soaking water of the beans, rinse and put in a pressure cooker with enough water and cook till they are tender but not soft or mushy. They Must retain the bite. Once done, strain them and keep the water aside. Usually it is thrown but I use it later in the dish as it has all the nutrients.

In a heavy bottom pan warm the Olive oil then turn the heat to medium low.

Add onion and let them sizzle as they cook. Add the chopped garlic, stir and sprinkle the sugar. Add salt and pepper and let it all cook for 2-3 minutes.  Make sure the onions don’t brown too much. Just a translucent brown is good.

Add the green chilies and all the vegetables and then give it a good stir. Cover and cook till they are soft but make sure they retain their shape.

Stir in the tomato paste and chopped tomatoes and cook till you get a nicely incorporated saucy texture.

Add the drained cooked beans and stir so everything is incorporated properly. Add the reserved water from beans and boil it nicely. As it boils add in bay leaves, chili flakes, cumin powder and juice of half lemon.

Cook this on a low medium heat for 30-35 minutes or till the beans are soft.

Once the Pilaki is ready turn off the heat and add chopped parsley and / or coriander. Traditionally Dill is an essential part of the Pilaki but I didn’t have it so its not in the recipe. You must add 1 tablespoon full of chopped Dill if available. It gives Pilaki a very nice flavor. Cover the pot and let the steam cook the greens and fill the Pilaki with their aroma. 

Garnish the Pikali and take it out in a serving dish with a wooden spoon and enjoy the melange of beautiful flavours and textures. 

 

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.

Recipe – Jamun / Wild Indian Java Plum Compote


As children we used to forage Jamuns. We climbed trees, grazed our knees to shake the fruit laden branches. Greedily picking the fruit off the ground and savored them with utmost delight. It feel like some other time and space. Back then they tasted sweeter, left our fingers, tongues and clothes, streets, pavements painted purple. On summer afternoons a vendor would roam around singing in a melodious tone, “Jamun kale kale mujhse bhi zyada kaale” and we would rush to surround him with 20-30 Paisa to buy the treat. Fleshy fruits right from the trees sprinkled with salt or masala. Who cared about washing them. They went straight into the mouth. We weren’t so paranoid about hygiene then I guess. The fruit has immense health benefits but that you can Google.

There are few jamun trees left to forage now. Monsoon is the time to devour the fresh juicy fruits. I got a large quantity and made some compote. The vendors sell it for a high price. I bought these for 200/- kg but they are absolutely delicious. Ripe, fleshy with the perfect sweet astringent taste.

Jamun or java plum is a drupe not a berry as some think. Rai Jamun or the ashadiya variety is Syzigium nervosum and the other round bhadainya variety is Syzigium cumini. Both belong to Myrtaceae family.

Homemade compote, jams, jelly, conserves or preserves are something you can so easily make at home. No artificial preservatives, chemicals and the sugar can be added keeping in mind the sweetness of the fruit. I prefer to use sweeter fruits so less sugar is used. Here I used organic brown sugar. There’s also little ginger for that zingy kick. I love adding it to some of the spreads. You can serve this with panacota, use it in cake toppings, with yogurt, mousse, cheese cake or as a spread on bread.

Note – Always choose unblemished, ripe, juicy, pulpy dark fruit. Those with hard texture are semi or under ripe.


To make the compote you need –

Ingredients :

250 gm – Jamun / Java Plum

3 tablespoon – Sugar (depending on sweetness of fruit)

1/2 tsp – Finely Grated Ginger plus juice (optional)

1/2 tsp – Lemon Juice

Method –

Wash and wipe the fruit properly.

In a glass bowl place the fruit and add sugar to it. Mix thoroughly so that the fruits are coated with sugar properly. Leave them to macerate for about 30-40 minutes. I use less sugar so that the sweetness of fruit remains intact. I don’t like very sugary spreads.

With clean hands gently rub and mash the fruit to separate the pulp and pits. Discard pits. The fruit will release juices and the process makes it easier to remove pits with minimum to none pulp wastage. Maceration changes the texture of fruit and absorption of flavors is more.

In a heavy bottom pan add the juice, sugary fruit pulp, ginger & juice and cook it on medium heat stirring continuously. Let it simmer for a while and then add lemon juice. I prefer the fruit to remain chunky. Bring the mixture to boil.

Remove froth from top if any and turn off the heat.

Bring it room temperature and it is ready to serve. You can store in in clean glass jar for up to 7-10 days at room temperature or in fridge.

Do let me know if you make the compote. Say no commercial sugar and chemical laden preserves etc. It really takes very little to make your things and they are delicious and healthy.

Recipe – Boozy Watermelon Granita


 

A juicy red watermelon at the counter made me realise that I never shared the recipe of this super delicious boozy Granita I made last year.  This frozen dessert is perfect treat in this searing heat, super refreshing and delicious.  Let’s say it’s a fancy version of your childhood favorite, the shaved ice with syrups. Barf ka gola.. kala khatta being my favorite. 🙂 

Making Granitas require no special skills, just a little patience, a fork and a deep dish like a loaf pan is all that’s needed. You can use cantaloupes, strawberries or any other fruit too but somehow watermelon is my favourite. Look at that color. Also, they are perfect to make granita with because they contain 92% water in the form of juice.

Go easy on Vodka or the Granita will become a slushy. I usually add it after first two scrapping. Never fails to give that robust flavor.

This one also has fresh ginger juice, crushed fresh mint leaves, lemon juice and zest, a touch of wild forest honey and Smirnoff. Go easy on Vodka or the Granita will become a slushy. I usually add it after first two scrapping. Never fails to give that robust flavor. You can use cantaloupes, strawberries or any other for this Granita and use Gin instead or Vodka if you prefer that.

Ingredients:

  • 1 small watermelon, peeled and deseeded
  • 130ml vodka
  • Zest and juice of 2 lemons
  • Honey as per the sweetness of fruit
  • Fresh crushed mint leaves
  • 2 tbsp fresh Ginger juice

Method :

Choose a ripe, juicy watermelon. Chop and take out the flesh in a bowl. Discard the seeds.

In a blender jar add chopped watermelon, mint, honey, ginger juice, lemon zest, lemon juice and half the vodka. Blend nicely till smooth. Do it in batches to get a even consistency. Remember that the frozen treats taste less sweet than unfrozen ones so add slightly more honey to the pureed fruit.

Transfer the puree into a large bowl then strain it through a seive into a deepd dish / cake tin or loaf tin. I used a 9″ loaf tin. Cover the baking tin with a cling wrap. Freeze it for 2-3 hours. 

Check to see if the ice crystals have started to begin. Take it out and drag a fork over the Granita to break the ice, scrape it from sides till you get to the less frozen parts,  cover and put it again in the freezer for 50 minutes. Do it a couple of times. During the second round add the remaining Vodka and mix well. You can use sugar, maple syrup or agave nectar for sweetening too. I like the taste if raw organic honey.

Repeat the process until the entire mixture is properly frozen and shaved. Store the Granita covered in plastic wrap till ready to use.

Scoop and serve garnished with muddled mint and chilled watermelon and lemon wedges.

 

 

 

 

 

Kali Gajar Ka Halwa |Black Carrot Halwa


 

It is an established fact that carrot halwa is the quintessential winter dessert in North India at least. Usually everyone makes the red carrot halwa, loaded with the goodness of juicy winter carrots, ghee (a good fat), and dry fruits but I absolutely love the black carrot halwa since my childhood. More than the red and the exotic white one which is sold only at Shirin Bhawan, Chandini Chawk, Old Delhi. In Allahabad, Lucknow and nearby areas it was made in many households on regular basis and was one of the top picks for the winter wedding season. It was also part of the Royal Awadhi cuisine.

In Delhi, the safed gajar ka halwa ruled until the red one came and dominated the market after the partition.

Even though it a specialty of Eastern UP, very few shops make and sell it. Kali gajar is not really black but of deep violet hue like the beetroot and is used in Punjab for the preparation of the delicious kanji, a mustard, ginger powder and rock salt-laced tingling appetizer. Interestingly this deep purple variety of carrot is the original carrot.

This traditional gajar halwa is one of the top ones in the lost recipes / delicacies of Indian cuisines. The richness of ghee helps in absorption of fat soluble vitamins in the pigments. Black carrot is rich in flavonoids and Antioxidant anthocyanins among other things. They are considered to be warming in nature and extremely healthy so the halwa was eaten as a tonic to boost the immunity. The halwa is less sweet than the red carrot and has a unique taste and flavor that you need to cultivate and once you do it will become one of your top choices.

For years I made this delicious exactly as I made the red carrot halwa and thought that the astringent taste was part of the package but then as few years back I came across Sangeeta Khanna’s recipe on her blog. I was surprised to know the reason for the strange taste and how the black carrots mask the sweetness of the milk unlike the sweet red ones when cooked in full fat milk. So I learned how to get rid of the problem. It was a game changer for the dish I so love. So, the recipe I am sharing is originally hers and you can find it HERE too.

The Kali Gajar Halwa is rich in ghee ( clarified butter) which is essential for the absorption of fat soluble nutrients of the pigment. So, do make this mouth watering dish before the season for black carrots is over.

Ingredients:

1 kg cleaned peeled and grated black carrots
1 Liter full fat milk reduced to make about 200 gm rabdi like thick consistency)
200 gm sugar
60 gm (2-3 tbsp) ghee or a little more
chopped nuts, raisins for garnish (I usually prefer it without any add-ons)

Method:

Wash, wipe, peel and grate the carrots and keep aside. I usually use a plastic bag over my hands while grating as the pigment is hard to wash off. Be careful of it staining your clothes etc.

( Side note -My aunt used to say one should always use straight carrots and not the deformed twisted ones. I asked her the reason and she gave some popular story about the root resembling the phallic shape and considered aphrodisiac.)  😀 

Take the full fat whole milk in a thick bottom pan and bring it to boil. Now, reduce heat and let it evaporate and thicken while you prepare the carrots. Keep stirring now and then. I absolutely detest khoya or mawa so never use it. It also changes the original subtle taste which is a complete no no. No shortcuts to good food.

Heat a broad thick bottom pan or wok  on medium flame and generously smear it with ghee. The wok must be large enough to comfortably contain all the grated carrot.

Slid in the grated carrots and stir vigorously for five minutes or till the carrots wilt and reduce. Now, tun the flame to medium and keep stirring. The beautiful flavors will get locked in as the carrots get a little seared. They will get a glorious sheen when this happens.

Once the grated carrot reduces in volume and becomes shiny soft you can mash it a little to get a smooth texture or leave it as it is for that authentic granular texture. I don’t mash the carrots as it is the shredded texture that gives the dish its character.

Add the sugar and mix well. Keep stirring and cooking till all the water released from adding the sugar evaporates. The mixture will become glazed and shine.

By now the milk would have reduced to the required consistency. Stir and scrape all the thick malai from the sides of the pan. Turn off the heat and remove it from stove. Add the thick evaporated milk to the carrot mixture and mix well. The milk will take on the gorgeous purple hue of the carrots and the kitchen will become fragrant with the aroma and the halwa won’t get the .astringent taste either.

Cook till all the ingredients come together in a mass. The mixture will usually leave the sides. Roast it a little more and remove from heat. 

Garnish with chopped blanched almonds, raisins etc if you desire. The halwa is best served hot.

I can assure you that you will definitely go for another helping.  Do let me know if you prepare this.

Recipe – Cooked Sweet And Sour Raw Mango & Onion Chutney


 

Though there are hundred of recipes for mango relish and chutneys made with raw mangoes this one is unique because it uses red onions unlike the other cooked sweet and sour chutneys with raw mango and jaggery.

I learned it at my in-laws’ house where every summer my MIL would make this lip smacking chutney and we devoured it with parathas, missi roti, cheelas, poori or curd rice or just licked it off the spoon. I was surprised how the onion gave a unique flavor to the chutney. I had not eaten or seen this earlier but  found that it was regular summer special in her village in Una district of Himachal Pradesh. Many other areas in Punjab too had a slightly different version of it.

This chutney can stay in the fridge for at least a month. Always choose unblemished raw mangoes for this, a bigger variety is better but you can use any local variety. I use pure organic jaggery for it. Unfortunately you can’t replace it sugar. The texture and taste will completely change. It is advisable to make it in an iron wok or kadai to get the maximum benefit and taste.

It is a simple recipe to follow.

Ingredients:

Raw Mangoes -1 kg

Pure Jaggery  – As required. It depends on how sweet you want the chutney to be. The taste should be a perfect balance. 100 gm is usually good.

Red Onions – 4 large

Black pepper corns – 8-10

Red chili powder -1 teaspoon

Asafoetida –  1-2 pinch

Cumin Seeds -1 teaspoon

Vegetable Oil – 3 tablespoon

Broken Dry whole red chili – 1-2 (remove the seeds)

Salt – to taste

Method:

Wash, peel and slice the mangoes in long pieces.

Peel and cut the onions in thin slices.

Grate the jaggery and keep aside.

In an iron wok / kadai  or heavy bottom pan heat the oil,  once the oil is hot lower the flame and add cumin seeds. When the seeds begin to crackle, add black peppercorns, whole red chili and onion slices. Add asafoetida or hing and stir.

Cook on low medium flame till the onions become a nice golden brown then add sliced raw mango. Mix all the ingredients properly and add salt, chili powder. Mix the spices well so that all the mango pieces get properly coated.

Cover with a lid and cook on low flame till the mango slices become soft. Keep stirring in between.  Once the pieces are soft yet firm add the grated jaggery.

The amount can vary according to the taste but keep in mind that there should be a perfect balance of sweet and sour. I prefer it less sweet and more spiced.

Cook the mixture on low heat and keep stirring so it  doesn’t stick to the pan bottom. Check for the spice, salt sweetness and adjust if required. While cooking make sure that the mango slices retain their texture. They shouldn’t become a mush.

Once the jaggery melts properly and everything gets mixed nicely turn off the gas and let the chutney cool. Spoon in the chutney in a clean and dry jar and put the lid on.

Always use clean, dry spoon to take out the chutney.

 

Indian Cottage Cheese (Paneer) In Spicy Arrabiata Sauce


Arrabiata Sauce is one of my favorite sauces and I use it for pasta especially Penne  and for many other dishes. It is healthy, full of texture and color and easy to prepare.  The one thing that makes it distinctly different from other tomato based red sauces is the chili factor.  The crushed red chili flakes or the fresh ones that are added whole or chopped give life to the classic marinara sauce that is the base sauce for Arrabiata.

Also a good amount of olive oil works best for the sauce. Cooked or heat processed tomatoes contain more lycopene, because cooking helps to release lycopene from the tomato cells. Lycopene is fat soluble, so it helps to cook it in oil, such as olive oil. Presence of peperoncino (chili flakes) gives it a defining characteristic (and a lively kick). I add basil and coriander to enhance the taste.

The main ingredients for Arrabiata are tomatoes and garlic. Those  who love garlic like I do can use it as a main flavor in this recipe.  I use fresh ripe plum tomatoes to make the Concasse for this sauce. Canned tomatoes aren’t something I use at home.

Arrabiata sauce goes very well with Indian cottage cheese or Paneer and we all love it. I am not a big fan of paneer but I do love a few dishes made with it. This is one of them. I also make the same dish in classic marinara or just the concasse with lots of fresh green chilies added with an Indian twist to the seasoning.

The basic ingredients for the Arrabiata sauce  I make for this particular dish are :

Tomato Concasse – 400 gm approx

Garlic-  medium size 8-10 pods ( peeled and finely chopped)

Red Onions – 2 medium, finely chopped

Fresh coriander greens (with tender stems) –  5 table-spoon ( finely chopped)

Crushed red pepper flakes – 1 teaspoon or fresh red pepper -2-3

Olive oil –  2-3 table-spoon

Black Pepper – freshly crushed 1 tea-spoon

Cumin Seeds – 1 teaspoon

Salt – to taste

Tomato sauce – 6 tablespoons

Dried Bay Leaves – 2

Fresh Basil Leaves – 3-4

Salt – to taste

Indian Cottage Cheese/ Farmer cheese / (Paneer) –  400 gm ( preferably home made but you can use market  bought too.) Chopped in cubes and placed in warm saline water

Method :

Warm the olive oil or any other vegetable oil / butter in a thick bottom pan.

Add the cumin seeds and bay leaves. Once the cumin begins to crackle, add garlic and roast a little till it changes color slightly. Add whole / chopped red pepper or chili flakes to perfume the oil. Keep the flame low so as not to burn anything.

Add the chopped onion and stir. Cook until onion softens.

Add the tomato concasse ( canned tomatoes/ store bought concasse) and give it a nice stir. Let it simmer on low medium heat as you stir occasionally with a wooden spatula or spoon. Let it cook on  low heat for 30 minutes or till it reaches your desired consistency.  I keep it thick gravy like. Add basil leaves and fresh chopped coriander. Give it a stir.

Add salt, tomato sauce and freshly crushed black pepper. ( Be careful of the heat threshold )

Taste the sauce and add anything you feel is lacking.

Once the Arrabiata sauce is ready add the cubes of paneer ( Indian Cottage Cheese) in it and stir gently to cover the cubes uniformly in sauce. Let it cook for ten more minutes. Add warm water if the sauce is too thick. If it looks thin simmer a bit more.

Serve hot with sourdough breads, garlic breads, phulka or paratha. I sometimes just eat a bowlful of it on its own.

(I had posted an earlier version of this dish in 2010 that I have removed)

Spicy Tangy Kathirikai Gothsu | Brinjal Gothsu


There are some dishes which remain a favorite no matter what. They are soul food you can eat anytime, any day. Amti bhat, Varan bhat, Poori allu, ammras poori, Avial and Brinjal Gothsu to name a few.

I’ve never eaten kathirikai ghotsu with venn pongal sadly but I love it with idli, dosai and plain steamed rice with a dollop of warm ghee on top. A burst of spicy tangy flavor that is out of this world. It is a perfect side dish. I am anyway not so fond of sambar so this is my go to dish. Kathirikai gothsu/gotsu is a typical TamBram dish but other communities across South India also perhaps make it.

I love eggplants and I find that here the flavors are perfectly balanced. The jaggery and tamarind combination I use in khatte meethe baigan sabzi too. The recipe is quick and easy to make.

Usually I use sambar onions ( shallots) for this but here I have used the local red onions and instead of moong aal I have used te ink lentil or malka daal.  It is fun to experiment with food and I am a bit easy going in the kitchen so whatever is handy is used. So you can say it is my version of brinjal gothsu.

 

Ingredients :

Brinjal/Eggplant/Baigan/Kathirikai – 1 large diced into cubes (approx 1 cup)

Sambar onions ( shallots) 8-10 quartered or Red onion – 1 -2 chopped (approx 1 cup)

Tomato – 1/2 cup chopped into cubes

Ginger – 1 inch grated or chopped fine

Curry leaves – 2 sprigs or 8-10 leaves

Green chili – 2 slit lengthwise

Jaggery – 1 tablespoon

Tamarind water – 1/2 cup

Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp

Oil – 1 tbsp (traditionally Sesame oil is used)

Coriander leaves and tender stems – 2 tbsp chopped fine

Moong dhuli or malka daal (Soaked for half an hour) – 2 tbsp

Sambar Powder – 1 tsp ( you can make your own Gothsu Podi too but I don’t know how to so use sambar powder instead)

Turmeric Powder -1/2 tsp

Hing / Asafoetida – 1/4 tsp

Salt and Water – as needed

 

Method –

Cut the vegetables and soak the brinjals in water to which a little salt is added. Soak a lemon size ball of tamarind pulp in warm water to loosed it up. Keep aside.

Collect all the required ingredients and put pressure cooker on medium heat. Once the cooker is hot add some oil ( I used Saffola gold). Add mustard seeds to the hot oil and when they crackle, add curry leaves, hing, onions, ginger and green chili, stir rill the onions are translucent and light golden in color.

Now add the chopped tomatoes. Give them a stir and let them cook for a minute. Add chopped brinjal or Kathirikai and stir on medium high flame till the color of the brinjal skin changes a little,

Add the soaked moong or malka daal. I added it to provide a base to Gothsu. It tastes good too.

Squeeze the tamarind ball to extract all the pulp into the water and the tamarind water, turmeric powder, sambar powder, salt, jaggery to the vegetable. Mix properly.

Close the lid of the pressure cooker and cook the gothsu for 2-3 whistles.. Turn off the gas and let the pressure release naturally.

Open the lid carefully and give gothsu a gentle stir. Add chopped coriander greens and spoon it in a serving dish.

Serve hot with rice, idli, pongal, dosai or even phulka. Don’t forget to add a dollop of hot ghee on top of gothsu when serving.

Note –

You can char roast the brinjal on direct flame and mash it a bit or fry the chopped brinjal pieces and use for Gothsu too. You can also make the Gothsu in a pan instead of cooker.

You can make your own podi or Gothsu powder instead of using Sambar powder. I usually make the sambar powder at home but here I have used MTR one.

I sometime add chopped carrots, peas or french beans to it just coz I like the taste but mostly I keep it simple.

Do let me know if you make it.

Dahi Gujiya | Lentil Dumplings In Sweet Spiced Yogurt – A Festive Recipe


I have not been keeping too well and that is affecting  my writing and other projects badly. Made these traditional UP style dahi gujias for Holi but never got a chance to post the recipe. My apologies for this late post.

Dahi gujia can be called sibling of dahi vadey/dahi bhalle. Melt in the mouth, delicate lentil dumplings especially made in the shape of gujia during festive or auspicious occasions like weddings etc. It is also a Holi specialty in parts of Uttar Pradesh. A bit tricky to make,  it takes a bit of patience and practice to make these. The gujias have a little stuffing inside them unlike the usual dahi badey. Served with sweet tamarind sauce or sonth and ground spices this remains one of my favorite dishes in any season.

I remember my mother making them and arranging them gently in a large ceramic pan then pouring the chilled beaten curd over it and let them rest a while to soak up the curd. She would then decorate them with ground spices and sauces. The gujiyas were so tender hat they would break at the slightest touch. The trick to this softness lies n the making of Peethi or ground lentil paste.

One must keep in mind to soak the daal  for minimum 4-5 hours preferably overnight. Grind the daal with minimal water to make a whipped cream like paste. It should be airy and light. Check the lightness of the paste by dropping a little batter in the glass of water. If it floats then it is ready to use. Soaking the fried gujias in hot water for a minimum of 30 minutes is essential too. This will help them to fluff up to double the size and remove excess oil too. They can them be gently squeezed and used. One can refrigerate the fried gujias for at least and use them later too.

Ingredients :

For Gujia :

Urad daal (Dhuli) | Split skinned black lentil – 250 gm

Oil for Frying

For stuffing :

Ginger grated and julienne – 1 inch piece

Chironji – 1 tsp

Raisins – 10-15

Freshly Crushed black pepper – 2 tsp

You can add crushed cashews too. I do not.

Other ingredients :

Home cultured Yogurt /Curd /Dahi – 500 gm

Sugar – 1 tbsp

Salt – to taste

Sweet Tamarind Chutney  Sonth – as required

Green Coriander \ Mint Chutney – as required

Roasted cumin seed powder – as required

Salt – as per taste

red chili powder – as per taste

Asafoetida – 1/4 tsp

 

I just realized I forgot to add the process pic of frying the gujia. Sorry about that. 

Note to self and Tip – when planning to post on blog save pictures separately from Instagram. lol .. here is the pic from the story I rescued. You know where it should have gone in the collage.

Process : 

Wash and soak the skinned and split black gram daal overnight.  In the morning remove excess water and grind the daal into a fine paste ( it should look like whipped cream.) Add a little water to the daal while grinding if it is too thick but the batter should not become runny.

Take it out in a large bowl and whip it with fingers too to incorporate air into he batter. This will help the gujia to stay light and fluffy.

Now, add oil for frying in a kadhayi / wok and put it on medium high flame. Meanwhile in a shallow large bowl take water(not boiling) and add hing/asafoetida and salt to it. Mix well and keep aside.

Spread it into a round shape of 4-5 inch diameter with your fingers. Add a little of stuffing and gently fold the batter with the help of the sheet to make the crescent shape gujia. Join the edges by gently pressing with fingers.

Lift the gujia with the sheet n your left hand and flip the gujia gently in to your right hand. Gently slide it into the hot oil. Be careful while you do this step.

You can make these gujias on your palms too but that requires skill and practice.

Fry it till its color slight golden brown. Remove excess oil and drop it gently into the bowl of hot water.

Repeat the steps for frying all gujias and place them in salted hing water for 15-20 minutes to absorb the flavor. In another bowl beat the chilled yogurt . I prefer to use home cultured one but you can use the market bought one also.

Once it it nicely whisked, add sugar and mix well. The consistency should be flowing but not really thin and runny.

Take out one gujia at a time and gently press it between palms to squeeze out water. Place the gujias in a shallow dish and pour the beaten yogurt on top soaking them well.

Decorate with tamarind sauce and green chutney. Sprinkle roasted cumin seed powder, red chili powder and black salt over it and chill.

Serve when desired. You can also keep the curd separately and make individual servings by putting a little curd as base in a plate then adding 1-2 gujias and spooning some more curd on top. Garnish with ground spices and chutneys before serving.

I make the usual dahi bada with the same mixture many times in summer. It is a complete lunch for me at times and one of my favorites too.

Do give this a try and let me know your experience.