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.

 

 

 

Recipe – Elephant Yam Dumpling Curry (Suran Kofta Curry)


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

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

To make the Dumplings/Koftas you will need :

Yam – 400 Grams

Onion – 1 medium (finely chopped)

green chilies – 2 medium (finely chopped)

Ginger – 1 teaspoon (grated)

Salt – to taste

Garam masala – 1/2 teaspoon

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

Red chili powder – 1/4 teaspoon

Roasted cumin powder – 1/2 teaspoon

Coriander greens – 2 tablespoons – finely chopped

Besan ( gram flour) – 1/2 cup

For the Curry you will need –

Onion – 1 large (finely chopped)

Tomatoes – 4 big ( grated)

Ginger – 1/2 inch

Garlic – 4-5 pods.

Coriander greens – 1/4 cup (finely chopped)

Coriander Powder – 3 heaped table-spoon

Haldi (Turmeric) Powder – 1 teaspoon

Garam Masala – 1/2 Teaspoon

Cumin seeds – 1/2 teaspoon

Asafetida – 2 pinches

Salt – to taste

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

Green peas – 1 cup (optional)

Oil – for deep-frying and cooking

To make the Koftas or Dumplings –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Now for the gravy / curry :

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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