Kurkuri Bhindi (Spicy, Crispy Okra) – Low Oil Version

Kurkuri Bhindi, Crispy Okra or Lady Fingers - Low Oil Version

Kurkuri Bhindi, Crispy Okra or Lady Fingers

I first had Kurkuri Bhindi many, many years ago during a conference at the Taj Coromandel in Chennai. I instantly fell in love with this spicy, crispy okra dish. However, I never got around to trying it because I thought it used a lot of oil.

A couple of weeks ago, while I was in Vienna, I stayed with Kartik and Himani, and saw Himani make a delicious low calorie version of this dish.

This is Himani’s recipe that I am reproducing here. More importantly, it is her technique for achieving the same crispiness using very little oil. I love to eat Kurkuri Bhindi with Dal Fry and Jeera Rice or Moong Dal Khichadi. You can eat it it with roti as well, but that combination can feel a bit dry.

I am taking this dish to Fiesta Friday #27 hosted at The Novice Gardener.

Serves: 4

Time: 45 Mins

Ingredients

  1. Bhindi or Okra – 250 gms
  2. Besan – 3 tbsp
  3. Red Chilli Powder – 1 tsp
  4. Amchur Powder – 1/2 tsp
  5. Turmeric – 1/2 tsp
  6. Chat Masala – 1 tsp
  7. Salt – To Taste
  8. Oil – 2 to 3 tbsp

Method

  1. Cut the ends of the bhindi.
  2. Cut each bhindi in half along the length.
  3. Cut each half into think long strips.
  4. Set aside.
  5. Combine besan, chilli powder, amchur powder, turmeric, and salt.
  6. Mix well.
  7. Add the bhindi strips and mix till the bhindi strips are coated in the besan-spice mix.
  8. Set aside for 10 mins.
  9. In a wide saucepan (mine is 8″ in diameter), heat 1 tbsp oil.
  10. Swirl the saucepan around so that the surface is evenly coated with oil.
  11. Spread half the bhindi strips evenly across the surface.
  12. Over low to medium heat, let the bhindi strips saute in the oil.
  13. Keep turning the bhindi strips over every few minutes so that they are evenly fried and are crisp.
  14. Remove the fried bhindi strips onto a platter and let cool slightly.
  15. Repeat the process with the remaining bhindi strips.
  16. Sprinkle some chat masala on the kurkuri bhindi.
  17. Mix well.
  18. Serve immediately or store the kurkuri bhindi in an air-tight container till you are ready to eat them.

Tips

  • I omitted the chat masala as I found that the amchur lent enough tanginess.
  • Be careful about the amount of salt you use because amchur lends significant saltiness as well.
Kurkuri Bhindi, Crispy Okra

Kurkuri Bhindi, Crispy Okra

 

 

Pesara Pappu Payasam (aka Pasi Paruppu Payasam or Moong Dal Kheer) – With Sugar

Pesara Pappu or Pasi Paruppu Payasam, Moong Dal Kheer

Pesara Pappu or Pasi Paruppu Payasam

With the advent of the month of Shravan (sometime in July-August according to the Gregorian calendar) begins the festival season in India and my mind is full of ideas of how to celebrate the plethora of festivals and poojas that await us. In our home, the first major Pooja of the season is Varalakshmi Pooja.

Celebrated on the Friday that precedes the full-moon in the month of Sravan (Shravana Pournami Poorvaasta Shukravaare or simply the Friday before Raksha Bandha or Nariyal Poornima) by married women across Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and some parts of Tamil Nadu, Varalakshmi Pooja is said to bestow prosperity and well-being on the family.

Sri Lakshmi is the Goddess of Prosperity and manifests in many forms. As Varalakshmi (Vara =  boon), she grants her devotees their wishes. Legend has it that Varalakshmi appeared in the dreams of a lady called Charumati and asked her to perform Varalakshmi Vratam. Charumati performed the Vratam along with other ladies from the village and as soon as the Pooja was over, they ladies found themselves blessed with riches.

Any pooja/vratam is said to be complete only after listening to the Katha or story about the origins of the pooja. As a child, I was most interested in this part of the pooja because the stories fascinated me.

The pooja involves offerings of clothes, jewellery, flowers, leaves, and assorted types of food to the goddess. The naivedyam at my home typically includes at least two sweet dishes; one “dry” sweet such as Poornam Boorelu, Bobbatlu or Chandrakantalu as well as a payasam such as Semiya Payasam, Pal Payasam, or Paravannam.

Here is another payasam that is popular with us; Pesara Pappu Payasam, which is known Pasi Paruppu Payasam in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. In this version, I have used sugar as it is faster to make this payasam this way. I will write about the recipe that uses jaggery or bellam in a later post.

Serves: 4

Time: 45 Mins

Ingredients

  1. Pesara Pappu or Moong Dal – 3/4 Cup
  2. Milk – 3 Cups
  3. Water – 1/2 Cup
  4. Sugar – 2 Cups or To Taste
  5. Cashews – 8 to 10
  6. Raisins – 8 to 10
  7. Green Cardamom – 3 or 4
  8. Ghee – 1 tsp

Method

  1. Dry roast the pesara pappu till it starts to change colour.
  2. Add 1 cup milk and 1/2 cup water.
  3. Pressure cook for 4 to 6 whistles, or till the pesara pappu is of mashable consistency. Use a large vessel so that there is a lot of empty space after adding the pappu, milk, and water because milk has a tendency to boil over. 
  4. Using a heavy ladle, mash the dal.
  5. Peel the green cardamom and crush the seeds to a coarse powder. It is easier to crush cardamom seeds if you add about 1 tsp of sugar. The volume makes it easier to crush the seeds.
  6. Add the remaining milk, cardamom, and sugar to the cooked pesara pappu.
  7. Mix well.
  8. Over medium heat, bring the payasam to a gentle simmer.
  9. Heat the ghee.
  10. Break the cashew in halves and add to the ghee.
  11. Stir-fry the cashew till it starts to change colour.
  12. Add the raisins and stir-fry till the raisins start to puff up.
  13. Add the fried cashew and raisins to the payasam.
  14. Mix well.
  15. Serve warm.

Tip

  • I find that cooking the pesara pappu in milk gives the payasam a richer taste. You could also cook it using just water.

Traditional South Indian Rice Dishes – Heralding in Sravana Maasam

The coming Sunday signals the start of Sravana Maasam (the month of Sravan according to the Hindu Calendar) in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra. This is perhaps the most auspicious of all months and signals the start of the Chaturmasyam (4-month auspicious period). Almost every day of Sravana Maasam is significant for some reason and the Chaturmas  is dotted with festivals.

Festivals mean poojas; and poojas, but of course, are incomplete without food. Rice plays a very important part in all the naivedyam/prasadam and so I thought I would post a round-up of some of the popular rice dishes that are made during festival days.

I am limiting this post to the savoury rice dishes. Sweets made with rice are reserved for another round up!

Methi Matar Malai (Fresh Fenugreek Leaves and Peas in a Creamy Gravy) – The Spicy Version

Methi Matar Malai

Methi Matar Malai

Methi Matar Malai is one those dishes that you will find on the menu of every “Mughlai” or “Punjabi” restaurant. In days of yore, there were two restaurants famous for Punjabi food in South-Central Mumbai; Pritam Da Dhaba in Dadar and Yogi in Chembur. My first memory of eating Methi Matar Malai was at Yogi.

I was fascinated by the rich creamy sweet ‘n’ spicy gravy that was served. I have tried in many places ever since and I have found that the taste varies from sweet to spicy. This is the spicy version simple because my family is not too fond of sweet gravies.

What I like about this dish is that it combines two ingredients that I would not normally consider putting together; bitter fenugreek and peas. Then there is the creamy gravy.

Traditional, Methi Matar Malai uses fresh cream in the gravy. I made the low calorie version that uses no cream and only milk to get the rich creamy taste.

Serves: 4

Time:  45 Mins

Ingredients

  1. Fresh Fenugreek Leaves – 2 Packed Cups
  2. Peas – 1 Cup
  3. Milk – 1.5 Cups
  4. Cashews – 10-12
  5. Ginger – 1/2″ piece
  6. Garlic Cloves – 3
  7. Green Chillies – 3
  8. Cinnamon – 1/2″ piece
  9. Cloves – 2
  10. Cumin Seeds – 1/2 tsp
  11. Pepper Corns – 4
  12. Green Cardamom – 1
  13. Oil – 1 tbsp
  14. Fresh Cream – 2 tbsp (optional)
  15. Salt to Taste

 

Method

  1. Over medium heat, in a kadhai or wok, dry roast the cinnamon, cloves, pepper, cumin, and cardamom seeds for a couple of minutes.
  2. Let the spices cool and grind to a fine powder.
  3. Set aside.
  4. In the same grinder (if possible), grind the cashews, ginger, garlic, and green chillies to a smooth, thick paste using about 2 tbsp of water.
  5. Set aside.
  6. In the work used for roasting the spices, heat the oil.
  7. Add the fenugreek leaves and stir-fry till the leaves wilt.
  8. Add the green peas and about 1/4 cup of water.
  9. Cook covered till the peas soften.
  10. Now add the cashew paste and stir-fry for a couple of minutes.
  11. Add the dry roasted spice powder and salt.
  12. Stir-fry for a minute.
  13. Add the milk and mix well.
  14. Bring to a gentle simmer and turn off the heat.
  15. Add the fresh cream (if you are using it) and mix well.
  16. Serve warm with rotis or pulkas.

Tips

  • Add about 1/2 tsp of sugar if you like a touch of sweetness.
  • I have found that you do not need any cream because the cashew paste and milk give it the required richness.
  • If you don’t like to use too much cashew, substitute with 1/2 a sweet onion. Be sure to roast the sweet onion in a little oil before grinding.
  • I don’t boil the peas because they become mushy.
  • If you don’t mind a hint of bitterness, chop the fenugreek roughly (but not too fine) to release the bitterness.

Boiled Peanuts – Mumbai Street Food – The Quick and Easy Way

Boiled Peanuts

Boiled Peanuts

 

Mumbai is a metropolis that is for the working man and by the working man. Till the early 80s, Mumbai was a place where all kinds of mills and manufacturing industries thrived. These factories were often manned by men who came alone to this great city, leaving families behind, to eke out a living.

It is this working populace that gave rise to an assorted range of oddities that are so peculiarly Mumbai. The chawl system, one room tenements with shared sanitation facilities, were built to accommodate this migrant population.  Another is the eclectic Mumbai street food. If you observe almost all of Mumbai’s street food is healthy and filling; be it Pav Bhaji, Tava PulaoMisal Pav, Vada Pav, Sandwich, or Anda Bhurji. While these dishes are primarily used as lunch or dinner, Mumbai also has a vast range of dishes that can be classified as snacks.

The snacks that you commonly find on Mumbai’s streets range from filling Ragda Patties to the light Bhel to boiled & spiced green chickpeas (hara chana) to simple roasted peanuts.

One snack that has almost disappeared from Mumbai streets is the humble boiled peanut. There is no greater pleasure on a rainy evening than warm, salty boiled peanuts with some hot adrakwali chai. Boiled peanuts used to be freely available in Mumbai, but over the past few years it has become difficult to find any. As a result, when I saw peanuts in their shell the other day in the market, I jumped at the chance to make some at home.

Serves: 4

Time: 2 hrs

Ingredients

  1. Peanuts in Shell – 1/2 Kg
  2. Water – 3 Litres
  3. Salt – 1/2 Cup

Method

  1. Gently scrub the shells and hold under running water to get rid of any dirt.
  2. In a pressure cooker, add the water, salt and peanuts in the shells.
  3. Cook for 6 whistles (6 releases of pressure).
  4. Keep the pressure cooker closed for another 30 minutes.
  5. Drain the water.
  6. Shell the peanuts and enjoy with some hot masala tea.

Tips

  • Do not fret about the amount of salt. You need that much (or even a bit more) if the salty taste has to penetrate the shell and make it to the peanuts.
  • You know the peanuts are done if you bite into a shelled peanut and find that it is soft yet firm and just a tad bit salty. If the peanut is squishy you have overcooked it; if peanut is still hard then you have to cook it somewhere.
Boiled Peanuts

Boiled Peanuts

 

 

A Roundup of Baby Brinjal Recipes

As I looked through the recipes I have written about, I see that I have a lot that feature brinjal (aka aubergine or eggplant). My family loves brinjals of all shapes and sizes. Given that the biryani-pulao roundup I did a few days ago was well-received, I thought I would do one that features brinjals.

This post features only those recipes which use baby brinjals or gutti vankaya as call them in Telugu.

So here goes:

  • Dahiwale Achari Baingan was new for me as well and I was bowled over by the combination of spices and the spicy taste.
  • Vankaya Kothimeera Kharam uses a simple masala made from coriander, green chillies, and ginger to spice up some fried baby brinjals.
  • Vankaya Vepudu or Brinjal Stir Fry is one of the simplest dishes you can make with brinjals of any shape or size.
  • Gutti Vankaya Koora. This is a famous Andhra recipe where baby brinjals are stuffed with a special spice powder known as menthi podi that has fenugreek as the main flavour.
  • Gutti Vankaya Ulli Kharam is another popular stuffed brinjal recipe from Andhra Pradesh that uses a spicy onion-chilli masala.
  • Bharli Vangi is a famous recipe from Maharashtra that has baby brinjals cooked with a flavorful peanut-sesame-coconut masala.

I do hope you try some of the recipes. I will post another roundup of recipes that involve other kinds of brinjals soon!

A Yummy Paneer Paratha with a Twist (Hint: Has Papad)

Paneer Paratha with a Twist

Paneer Paratha with a Twist

I learnt this recipe from Asha, the girl who helps me with cooking at home. :-) Asha helps in 3 other households with cooking and often shares recipes for innovative dishes she learns. Inhabitants of one other home she works at seem to be as much of foodies as we are and this recipe comes from that home.

This recipe uses a lot of ingredients (I could not believe that we added fresh roasted papad) and I was not sure how it would taste. Asha, however, cajoled me into trying it once and boy am I not glad that she did!

This version of paneer paratha is absolutely delicious; minty and spicy and surprisingly, not heavy on the stomach at all.

Serves: 4

Time: 45 Minutes

Ingredients for the Filling

  1. Paneer – 200 gms
  2. Cabbage – 100 gms
  3. Capsicum – 1 Small
  4. Cucumber – 1 Small
  5. Fresh Mint Leaves – A Handful
  6. Fresh Coriander Leaves – A Handful
  7. Green Chillies – 3 or 4
  8. Ginger – 1″
  9. Frankie Masala – 1 tsp (Alternative, Garam Masala)
  10. Amchur – 1 tsp
  11. Udad Papad – 3 Large
  12. Salt to Taste

Ingredients for the Paratha

  1. Wheat Flour – 2 Cups
  2. Salt – 1/2 tsp
  3. Water –  As required
  4. Oil – 1 tsp

Other Ingredients

  • Ghee or Oil for the cooking parathas
  • Wheat Flour for rolling the parathas

Method to Make the Filling

  1. Peel and chop the cucumber into very fine pieces. Do not grate the cucumber because that will make the filling watery.
  2. Chop the cabbage and capsicum into really fine pieces.
  3. Break up the paneer into crumbs.
  4. Chop the mint and coriander into fine pieces.
  5. Grind the green chillies and ginger into a coarse paste.
  6. Mix the cabbage, cucumber, capsicum, paneer, ginger-chilli paste, amchur, frankie masala, mint, coriander, and salt.
  7. Just before making the parathas,roasttheudadpapad.
    1. Roast the udad papad.
    2. Crush the roasted the udad papad into fine pieces.
    3. Add to the paratha.

Method to Make Paratha Dough

  1. Add salt to the wheat flour.
  2. Add a little water at a time and knead into a firm dough.
  3. When the dough is ready, add the oil and knead for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Cover with a damp cotton cloth and set aside for 10 minutes.

Method to Make the Paratha

  1. Divide the dough into 8 equal portions.
  2. Divide the filling into 8 equal portions.
  3. Roll each portion of the dough into a ball.
  4. Using a dusted surface, roll the dough into a 4″ circle.
  5. Place one portion of filling in the centre of the circle.
  6. Fold the dough over the filling and roll into a ball.
  7. Using a dusted surface, roll the dough ball into a 6″ circle.
  8. Set aside the paratha on a plate.
  9. Repeat steps 4 to 8 to make the other parathas.

Method to Cook the Parathas

  1. Heat a tava or a girdle.
  2. Add about 1/4 tsp of oil or ghee and spread evenly.
  3. Place one paratha on the tava.
  4. Cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes till the side touching the tava starts to develop brown spots.
  5. Flip the paratha over.
  6. Drizzle a few drops of oil or ghee along the edges.
  7. Cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes till the side touching the tava starts to develop brown spots.
  8. Repeat steps 3 to 7 for cook the other parathas.
  9. Serve hot with some chilled yogurt.

Tips

  • Don’t be intimidated by the length of the recipe. The result is absolutely worth it.
  • Use ghee while cooking the parathas. It adds another level of oomph to the paratha. :-)
  • Don’t add the papads till just before you are ready to cook the parathas. Otherwise, the papad bits become soggy.

Danyachi Amti or Shengdanyachi Amti (A Peanut-based Gravy) – Ashadi Ekadashi Special

Danyachi Amti

We Indians tend to fast for religious reasons on various auspicious days through the year. One of these is Ekadashi, the 11th day of the waxing or the waning moon. On Ekadashi, ideally Hindus have only fruits, vegetables and milk, and … Continue reading

Dahiwale Achari Baingan (Aubergines in a Spicy Yogurt Gravy)

Dahiwale Achari Baingan

Dahiwale Achari Baingan

This recipe has been an eye-opener as far as the taste of “achari” dishes goes. Achar means pickle in Hindi (by extension achari is anything “pickle-y”, if there is any such word.) And I’m now officially in love with Kalonji or Nigella seeds. This is the first time I have used this spice and look forward to exploring its various facets. Last week, we were debating what to make for dinner when my brother had this urge to eat something spicy. Given that we were in the middle of a “clean out the refrigerator”, our limitations were pretty limited. All we had was the large Brinjals (aubergines). When I suggested that we make Bharta, I was roundly and soundly rebuffed. Given that these where Bharta Baingan, I could not make Bharli Vangi. Baigun Bhaja was discussed and discarded. Doi Sorshe Baigun did not seem to appeal either. As I am wont to do in these situations, I turned to the internet and so came upon this Achari Baingan recipe by Tarla Dalal. Believe you me, this is a recipe you want to try; and as soon as possible. It is spicy, it is tangy and the gravy lends itself of a variety of vegetables. If you don’t like aubergines, substitute them with fried potatoes, paneer, or even lady finger. I will be trying other variations of this recipe soon! Serves: 4 Time: 45 Minutes Ingredients

  1. Baingan or Aubergines – 250 gms
  2. Onions – 2 Large
  3. Dahi, Curd or Yogurt – 1 Cup
  4. Ginger-Garlic Paste – 1 tbsp
  5. Chilli Powder – 1 tsp
  6. Turmeric – 1/2 tsp
  7. Saunf or Fennel Seeds – 1 tsp
  8. Jeera or Cumin Seeds – 1/2 tsp
  9. Kalonji or Nigella Seeds – 1 tsp
  10. Rai or Mustard Seeds – 1/2 tsp
  11. Methi or Fenugreek Seeds – 1/2 tsp
  12. Green Chillies – 2
  13. Garam Masala – 1/2 tsp
  14. Amchur or Dried Mango Powder – 1/2 tsp
  15. Hing or Asafoetida – A Large Pinch
  16. Oil – 2 tbsp + 1 tsp
  17. Salt to Taste

Method

  1. In a large vessel, create a marinade by mixing ginger-garlic paste, chilli powder, turmeric powder, 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tsp oil.
  2. Cut the aubergines into 1/2″ pieces.
  3. Mix the aubergines pieces well with the marinade.
  4. Set aside for 10 minutes.
  5. Peel and slice the onions into thin long pieces.
  6. In a wok or kadhai, heat 1 tbsp oil.
  7. Add the marinated aubergine pieces and stir-fry till the aubergine just starts to turn soft.
  8. Take out the aubergines and set aside.
  9. To the same wok, add the remaining oil.
  10. Add mustard, fennel, nigella, cumin, and fenugreek seeds.
  11. Stir-fry for a minute or till the seeds start to pop.
  12. Add the sliced onions and slit green chillies.
  13. Stir-fry till the onions are transparent.
  14. Turn off the heat.
  15. Add asafoetida, garam masala and amchur powder.
  16. Mix well.
  17. Beat the yogurt to a smooth paste.
  18. Add the yogurt to the fried onions.
  19. Mix well.
  20. Add the fried aubergine pieces and salt.
  21. Mix with a gentle hand.
  22. Serve with hot rotis.

Jeera Aloo (Potato with Cumin)

Jeera Aloo - Potatoes with Cumin

Jeera Aloo – Potatoes with Cumin

While we are all foodies at home and love to try new recipes, there are days when we just want some comfort food. Nothing offers more comfort than potato. While we favour Potato Fry with rice and Alu Rasdar with rotis, the other day we made Jeera Aloo.

Jeera Aloo is a dish that few Indians need introduction to. This simple dish combines potato with cumin and is just fantastic with hot rotis or then as a side for simple dal-rice.

Serves: 4

Time: 45 Minutes

Ingredients

  1. Potatoes – 6 Large
  2. Cumin – 2 tsp
  3. Green Chillies – 2 or 3
  4. Fresh Coriander – A Handful
  5. Turmeric – 1/2 tsp
  6. Oil – 1 tbsp
  7. Salt to Taste

Method

  1. Parboil the potatoes.
  2. Peel and cut into 1/2″ cubes.
  3. Chop the coriander into fine pieces.
  4. Slice the green chillies along the length.
  5. Heat the oil.
  6. Add the cumin seeds and wait till the cumin seeds start to plop.
  7. Add turmeric and slit green chillies.
  8. Mix well.
  9. Add the potato pieces and saute for 5 to 7 minutes.
  10. Turn off the heat.
  11. Add salt and finely chopped coriander leaves.
  12. Mix well.
  13. Serve warm with warm rotis.