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Category Archives: Desi

Dahi Bhalla


First off, wish you all a very good new year. I don’t think I can think of a better first post/recipe than the amazing Dahi bhalla. I am not sure how many of you have heard of Dahi bhalla, but I didn’t know of its existence till the new year’s eve of 2012 🙂 A few friends planned to meet and decided on a chaat-themed potluck. Pav-Bhaaji and Pani-Puri were taken and I was wondering what to make; was trying to decide between Aloo tiki-chole and Bhel puri when Google led me to Dahi vada and then, *drumroll*, Dahi bhalla. Now, I know Dahi vada, hindi for Thayir vadai (as far as I know). But, Dahi bhalla? Well, Google again came to my rescue – turns out that the main difference between the two is in the dahi; while for Dahi vada the curd is, well, just sour with some spices for Dahi bhalla the curd is sweet, almost like a lassi. I followed the recipe at Vahrehvah with some minor modifications and result was lip-smacking.

The first step in the preparation of Dahi bhallas is making the Bhallas. Making Bhalla is similar to making Vadai.

Urad dhal 1 cup
Green Chillies 1
Salt 1 tsp (more or less based on your taste)
Potato 1 (medium-size)
Cashew 30-40 broken pieces
Raisins 30-40 pieces
Cooking Oil

Soak urad dhal and green chillies in about 1.5 to 2 cups of water for a few hours (overnight is best, but I soaked it only for ~4 hrs and it did not notice any difference). Grind this to a thick paste adding as little water as possible. Add salt to this mix and beat this mix well with a spoon to aerate the mixture. I picked this tip from the Vahrehvah chef and the Vadas (or Bhallas :)) turned out soft and fluffy.

Boil potato; peel the skin and mash it well. Mix this with the aerated urad dhal mixture. This is the dough for Dahi bhalla.

Note: Instead of deep-frying the Bhallas, I used my Appam pan (looks similar to this). I picked this tip from the jugalbandits a while back; in addition to other benefits listed in the post, I noticed that it was less messy and resulted in uniform Bhallas.

To make the Bhallas, take a bit of the dough in your hand and make a rough ball with it. Now with your thumb, make a shallow hole. Place a piece of cashew and raisin in this hole and close it. Stuffing the Bhallas with cashew & raisin is purely optional, but I would highly recommend this as biting into a cashew/raisin as you are eating the Bhallas takes the taste and the experience to another level.

Add oil to the pan, about a tsp or so in each hole, Place the bhallas and cook both sides by turning them.

Use up all the dough and finish making the bhallas. The yield for 1 cup of urad dhal was about 60 and I guess the number depends on the size/shape of the Bhallas that you make.

If you are not a dahi (curd) fan, you can stop at this point and enjoy the Bhallas with a cup of tea and/or mint & tamarind chutney. K can vouch for that 🙂 Of course, to kick it up a notch, you need to turn them into awesome Dahi bhallas.

Dahi (curd) 3 cups
Sugar 1/2 cup
Cumin powder 2 tsp
Coriander powder 2 tsp
Chaat masala 2 tsp
Sev couple of handful
boondi couple of handful
Coriander 2 tsp (for garnish)
Water few cups

Add water to a deep pan and bring it to a boil. Add the Bhallas in batches to the boiling water, leaving it in for a couple of minutes; take it out and with a napkin press on it gently to squeeze out as much water as you can. Once soaked in hot water the Bhallas become soft and absorbs dahi faster.

Whisk the curd with sugar (add a little water if it is too thick) and keep it ready.

In a wide bottomed container, make a bed with boondi. Place the Bhallas (soaked and squeezed) over this as a single layer. Now pour the sweetened curd and make sure to cover the Bhallas. Use more curd, if need be.

Sprinkle the coriander, cumin powders on top as well as the chaat masala. Complete the garnish with sev and coriander leaves.

May be a little bit more coriander…


Now, it is truly ready…

Dig in and enjoy!

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15 Comments

Posted by on January 8, 2012 in Desi

 

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Dressing up dosas

Couple of weeks back, as I was reading my daily quota of news on Google, I came across this article on dosas. I was quite surprised to see our plain old dosas getting prime-time on WSJ. The article screamed “Move over tortillas, dosas are a-coming!”.

Anyway, proud as I was of the attention our dosas were getting, I forwarded the link to friends and family. And this led to an email exchange with one of them on how the dosas morph in our kitchen. That gave me an idea and I decided to share the different avatars dosas take in my kitchen. Without counting the plain dosas with chutneys and milagai podi (although literally means chilli powder it isn’t quite that).

a) Use dosa as a wrap and stuff it with a dry roasted mixed vegetable sabji (called as “kari” – not the same as curry – by tamilians). The traditional one is, of course, made with potato and called “Masala Dosai”, but you can use any vegetable or combination of them, optionally with paneer, to make a dry sabji, with any spices of your choice, and use it as stuffing.
b) Make a mean paneer burji or even chilli paneer for a more protein filled meal.
c) Make a pizza or quesadilla out of dosa by adding cheese and jalapenos (or red chilli flakes). You can also add slightly roasted veggies to make it a complete veggie dosa-pizza. This can be either served open, like a pizza, or closed, like a quesadilla.
d) A trick that I picked from my MIL – when you have just a few ladles of batter left, add a handful or two of rava (semolina) to the batter, add chopped ginger, onion (optional), green chillies to make (onion) rava dosa. Of course, you can use this as a base and stuff veggies, paneer etc.
e) When the batter is fairly old and heavily fermented, make uthappams (thick dosas) with it. Add chopped tomatoes, chillies, onions on top for a colorful veggie uthappam.


So, now tell me, what shape and form does a dosa take in your kitchen?

 
20 Comments

Posted by on November 13, 2011 in Cooking, Desi, Traditional cooking

 

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Dried Fruit & Nut Halwa

My love affair with dried fruits and nuts started when I tasted the dried fruit and nut milk-shake at a restaurant (which I vaguely remember was called Mac) on MG Road in Bangalore. This shake was fit enough to be a meal both in taste and satiation. I remember drooling over this shake and although I have had this shake several times after that at many different places (including chez moi) none measured up to the lofty standard set by the original one. Anyway, I digressed and this post, although is about dried fruits and nuts, is definitely not about shakes but about halwas – the ubiquitous dessert found in almost all cultures and cuisines. Of course, in India, we make halwa with everything ranging from moong dhal to wheat to carrot/potato to pumpkin – looks like we are capable of turning everything to a halwa. “When in doubt, turn it to a halwa” should be a national tagline!

The base template for all halwas is the same – basically, throw in the ingredients in a heavy-bottomed vessel, cook it over low-medium flame for about 30-45 minutes and slowly, in front of your eyes, what was a sticky-icky blob turn will turn into a still lumpy ball that importantly, moves easily when guided with the spoon leaving the sides of the vessel.

The template will have to be tweaked a little bit based on the kind of halwa at hand. For this one,


20 dried figs
20 dried dates
1 cup milk
handful of roasted and chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashew)
1-2 tsp of butter

Start with about 20 pieces of figs and dates soaked over-night in a cup of warm milk. Blend it into a find paste with the milk that was used for soaking.

Add this to a thick-bottomed vessel (I used the cast-iron pot from here) and cook it in a low to medium flame with a tsp of butter.

While the mixture is cooking, coat a clean plate with a tsp of butter and keep it aside.

After about 30-40 minutes of slow cooking, during which time it needs very little attention except for the occasional stir to make sure the mixture cooks evenly, add the chopped nuts and cook for a couple of more minutes making sure the nuts are mixed and incorporated well.

Turn the stove off and transfer the mixture to the butter-coated plate.

Let sit for a few minutes and then cut it in diamond-shaped pieces.

The dried fruit halwa was inspired by Soma’s version here, after I drooled many days over those pictures.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on October 31, 2011 in Desi

 

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Paucity makes the heart grow fonder

Ah! Curry leaves!  I grew up in an independent house(single-family home for those in the U.S.) in Chennai and where we lived coconut & mango trees are common sight.  And so was it in our house. In addition, the house also has a curry tree – yes it is a tree, over 9 feet tall and thriving.  We picked the leaves when we needed it – for tempering (thalippu) or thogayal –  and it couldn’t have gotten fresher than that.  May be it was the easy availability or abundance or the ignorance of youth, I never quite liked these greenies.  I never understood why the elders went gaga over its flavor and was also not taken in by its medicinal value.  The only use (thanks to my mom!) I had for these leaves was when they were boiled with good old coconut oil and massaged onto my hair.  The first time I missed (or rather longed) for these leaves where when I couldn’t find them.  Yes, we always miss what we can’t have and when something gets harder to get, fonder does our heart grow. Such is human nature, I guess!

When SacramentoSpice posted her curry leaf chicken recipe (yes, you read that right!) and linked Manisha’s version, I remembered that I had bookmarked Manisha’s Kadipatta Chicken a while back.  I wanted to try a vegetarian version of this and was toying with the idea of doing it with either cauliflower or potato (paneer would work well too, now that I think of it).  When a dear friend gave me a ziploc full of curry leaves, picked fresh from her parents’ home, the timing could not have been more perfect 🙂  My recipe is very close to Manisha’s version, but am posting it again to record the minor tweaks that I did. Thanks, Manisha! Onto the Kariveppilai potato-cauliflower fry (I couldn’t make up mind I decided to use both potato & cauliflower)!

Spices

1 Tsp oil
1 Tsp black pepper
1 Tsp cinnamon powder
5 cloves
2 red chillies

1 cup Curry leaves, washed & dried
1 Tbsp Tamarind Paste (1/2 golf ball sized piece, if you are using fresh)
1 Tsp turmeric powder
1 onion, chopped fine
1 small tomato, quartered
1/2 cauliflower – chopped into florets
2 medium sized potatos – cubed into 1″ pieces
1 Tsp salt

Saute the spices in a tsp of oil till they are well roasted but not burnt in a saute pan (or kadai). Add the kariveppilai to the spice mixture and saute till the leaves are fried well. Add the chopped onion, quartered tomato and salt, wait for the onion to become translucent.

Let it cool and grind it to a paste along with the tamarind. (Tip: If you want, you can stop right at this stage and use this is a chutney / thogayal to mix with rice or use as a side dish to idli / dosai. If you want to attain kariveppilai nirvana, continue).

Add the cauliflower – potato mixture to the same pot (to keep shy happy), close it with a lid and cook till the veggies are semi-tender.

At this point, add the ground paste and cook till the veggies are fork-tender.  If you want a watery dish, you can add a cup of water at this stage.  But if you are like me and prefer a dry dish, hold the water.

This is a perfect side dish with rice & dhal or with rotis.

 
7 Comments

Posted by on October 24, 2010 in Cooking, Desi, Traditional cooking

 

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Peppery Cauliflower

I was introduced to the world of blogs a few years back, when the blogs were few and far between and it was easy to follow the handful of blogs. Then, the blogs proliferated and much as I would have liked to keep myself abreast, it is just not possible to read all the blogs that pique my interest. That’s where Google Reader came to my rescue and whenever I found a blog that I liked, I followed it by adding it to my reader (*hint hint* add my blog to your reader, if you haven’t done so already 🙂 ). Anyway, my friends and I share and exchange notes on the blogs that we follow and I have come across quite a few new blogs through them.  One such gem is Mriganayani, oh I love the name, introduced by my dear friend, Arch.  I scanned through her blog and the one recipe that caught my interest was Cauliflower Pepper Fry.  I love pepper (so much that I add it to my chai, for kicks!) and the combination looked like a match made in heaven.

I followed her recipe to the T with few minor changes and made it dry, as I was going to have it with rice.  This goes perfectly with rice as well as rotis and may make an awesome sandwich filling too.

1Tsp Black pepper
1 Tsp Cumin Seeds
2 red chillies
1 Tsp ghee
1 Onion – cubed
1 onion – chopped
1 caulilfower – cut into florets
1 Tsp – Turmeric
1 Tsp -salt (more or less based on your taste buds)
1 Tbsp – Almond Butter

For Thalippu (Tempering)

1 Tsp – Mustard
Few curry leaves
1 Tsp  – Oil (Vegetable or Sesame or Coconut)

Saute the cubed onion with the spices (Black pepper, cumin & red chillies) in ghee and grind them to a paste.

In a deep dish, add the ingredients for tempering and wait till the mustard finishes it dance and cools down.  Now, add the chopped onions, wait till turns semi-translucent and then add the cauliflower, turmeric and salt.  Close the dish and let it cook till the cauliflower is almost done.  I like my cauliflower cooked but crunchy, so I just cooked for about 7-8 minutes, if you want it well done, cook for a little longer.

Add the ground paste at this point along with the almond butter and cook it for a few more minutes.   At this point, if you find it a little spicy, you can tone it down by adding another tsp of ghee or almond butter.

Eat with rice & dhal / yoghurt or with rotis or just as is, as a little snack.  It is perfect, any which way!

If you do not have access to almond butter, just follow the original recipe and add a handful of cashews (or almonds) when you grind the ingredients.

 
6 Comments

Posted by on October 22, 2010 in Cooking, Desi

 

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Methi Malai Matar Paneer

Uff! I know, just reading that is tiring; au contraire, the dish is really easy and quick to prepare and yumilicious to taste. There are some dishes that you grow up with and some are introduced to you through eating out @ restaurants, friend’s houses etc. But this was a recipe, I was introduced through the blog world and I had never tried or tasted this, till I made it. This is a dish that is super easy to prepare, but will taste as though it is a lot complicated with the methi and malai add distinctly different dimensions to it. A perfect party dish!

1 onion
7-8 green chillies
1/2″ ginger
2 cloves of garlic (optional)
1 Tbsp cashews
1/2″ cinnamon

Grind the above ingredients into a smooth paste.

Saute about a cup of cubed paneer in a tsp of oil, till they are golden on all sides. Keep this aside.

Saute the ground paste in a tsp oil, till the paste is rid of raw onion smell. (If you are really sensitive to raw onion smell, boil the onions in water for about 5 mins before you grind it). Now add

1 cup fresh fenugreek (methi) leaves (1/2 cup if you are using kasoori or dried methi leaves)
1 cup fresh or frozen peas

Cook this well for about 10 mins. Add 1/2 cup cream (or whole fat milk) to this boiling mixture and let it simmer for about 10 mins. That is it.

As I said, this is really easy to prepare and tastes well with rotis or parathas.

 
5 Comments

Posted by on September 28, 2010 in Cooking, Desi, General

 

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Bisi Bele Bath

Now that the first step in making bisi bele bath has been completed successfully, the next step is to prepare the rice. With little preparation ahead of time, making bisi bele bath can really become a breeze. I usually have cooked rice and toor dhal in my fridge, which saves me a lot of time on weekdays, when we constantly are running short of time.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
1 Comment

Posted by on March 16, 2010 in Cooking, Desi, Traditional cooking

 

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