Wednesday, January 28, 2015

urad daal aur sowa ke pakode | lentil fritters with dill leaves

Daal ke pakode is a winter snack made with tea or coffee in the evenings or for weekend breakfasts in many homes. Weekend breakfast mostly becomes a brunch for us but we normally don't cook elaborated meals on weekends and make something that we enjoy eating in leisure but simpler to cook. So mostly it is something like a platter of hot pakode or crisp cooked methi or alu ke paranthe in this season or a huge bowl of salad in summers. Newspapers and such comforting meals make our weekend mornings very relaxed, usually very late mornings in fact, stretching out well till afternoon.

I had soaked urad ki daal (split and skinned black beans) last week to make some kanji vada to be soaked in the kanji that was fermenting on my kitchen counter and a relaxed Saturday brunch of sowa wale daal ke pakode. But on Friday evening one of Arvind's friends called and came to visit us on a short notice for tea. I decided to quickly fry some daal ke pakode and harey lasun ki chutney with chai and as it turned out, this snack became our dinner that day. Not that I am complaining, I did fry some plain vadas and soaked them in the kanji to make the much craved for kanji vadas.

Sowa bhaji is a fragrant leafy green that is usually mixed with spinach or methi (fenugreek greens) to make saag or stir fries. We love it in our daals, raw chutneys and even in lehsun sagga. It was after a long time I made pakodas with these dill greens. All of us loved this impromptu meal of pakodas.

(enough pakodas for a gathering where no one minds portions)

urad daal 1.5 cup soaked overnight or minimum 3 hours
chopped dill greens 2 cups packed
minced green chillies 2 tsp or to taste
minced or grated fresh ginger root 1 tbsp or a bit more
coarse pepper powder 1 tsp
anardana powder 1-2 tsp (optional)
salt to taste
mustard oil for deep frying


Discard the soaking water and grind the soaked daal to a smooth paste. Whip some more while still in the mixie jar to make the batter light. Do not add water while making this paste else the batter will get runny and the pakodas would absorb too much oil while frying.

Mix this batter with all the other ingredients except the oil and start frying right away. Keeping it for long makes the batter runny and it absorbs more oil while frying.

Heat the oil in a deep kadhai and fry small portions of the batter to make pakodas. You can use a rounded dessert spoon or soup spoon to scoop the batter and drop it in hot oil to make pakodas, depending on what size of pakodas you want.

Take care to fry them at medium flame so they cook thoroughly, these pakodas do not soak much oil as urad daal is quite sticky and the surface of the pakodas get sealed quickly in the hot oil.

Serve hot with any green chutney but this green garlic chutney works really well with this dill flavoured daal ke pakode.

To make this green garlic chutney mix a cup of chopped green garlic (leaves and some of the bulbs) with a cup of chopped green coriander leaves along with 3-4 green chillies, 1 tsp chopped ginger, salt to taste and lime juice to taste. The chutney is so good you would want to make it everyday with all your meals. We eat too much green garlic in this season.

These urad daal ke pakode are irresistible. I suggest you to make it a meal always as such snacks feel guilty if one is heading for a meal after this. Or serve it as starters for an elaborate meal for guests and see how fast they fly.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Rivaayat is revival of tradition : tasting some traditional flavours from Awadh, Delhi, Hyderabad and Amritsar at The Oberoi, New Delhi

Yes, I went for another Rivaayat dinner hosted by Threesixty at The Oberoi, New Delhi. As I mentioned in my last Rivaayat experience at Trident Gurgaon, this initiative by The Oberoi group is a way to bring the traditional cuisines to the forte and build up a repertoire of authentic Indian recipe for their properties all across India.

At Threesixty, we met Chef Arun Mathur who has worked with some khandani cooks and brought age old recipes from them for the patrons of The Oberoi. And I must say the chefs at Threesixty have done full justice to the traditional cuisines going by the things we tasted there.

Ruchira, Himanshu and I went for a dinner there last week and could not resist the crusty breads on the table. The brown rolls were so so good. As we were nibbling on the crusty rolls with butter, Deepica Sarma (Manager communications) introduced us with Chef Arun and he told us how he learnt the talli murghi from a cook in the by-lanes of old Delhi. And we could whiff the old Delhi spices when talli murghi came of the table along with a fiery peeli mirch ki chutney and hari chutney.

The Amritsari machhli was done really well, flavours of ajwain and slight tartness by amchoor well preserved. Many chefs drown the flavours in loads of besan coating and kill the fish but this one kept the promise, more so because the fish was very fresh.

Chawnk ki tikki is a baniya specialty from purani dilli and some parts of UP and it was done well too. Deep fried but light, with a stuffing of chownki hui hari matar, almost like matar ki ghugni. Some people make this tikki with a stuffing of chawnki mung ki daal. We tasted a few pickles on the table and loved the mushroom garlic pickle the most. Chicken and prawn pickles were good too but mushroom-garlic took the cake.

Among the mains my most favourite was the saag murgh kofte. Silky smooth chicken balls poached in water and then cooked lightly with wilted spinach was very delicately spiced and cooked just right. Maah chhole ki daal felt exactly like home cooked, light and honest. No nonsense of too much tomatoes or too much butter or cream in it and yet so flavourful.

I loved the rarah meat too as it was not over spicy like the dhabas and no oil floating on top. But the robustness of the spice was evident as it is supposed to be. Well balanced.

Nihari gosht was different from what we had tasted from Shahjahanabad ki Sair but was still very good. Light and aromatic with hints of saffron to be enjoyed with khameeri roti or baqarkhani roti. I took a bite from each type of roti and loved them all. Baqarkhani was not sweet and aromatic with saffron which I liked a lot. Garlic naan was also done really well but I can't eat too much breads with my meals.

Dahi wala kukkad was a bit too tart for my liking but not bad. I know many who would like it. I had found the saag murgh kofte and needed nothing else in fact. I would try and recreate it in my own kitchen really soon.

Desserts were served and everyone liked the gulathi which is a grainier version of phirni. This gulathi is a UP specialty chef Arun informed and is cooked along with some coconut and saffron, it was rich and heavy but tasted good. Although I don't enjoy such desserts much, 2 spoonfuls and I am done.
Gajar ka halwa was also good but we have had better gajar ka halwa so it did not make an impact.

I would definitely remember the saag murgh kofte, maah chhole ki daal and rarha meat from Threesixty and the fact that all food was light despite being traditional Indian curries. This is what I like when old recipes are treated with respect and recreated in a way that it can be enjoyed for normal meals.

We had some green tea before we departed. It was such a comforting meal for a chilly winter day.

It feels good when a traditional meal is served this well, is done justice towards and is enjoyed by everyone on the table. A meal that doesn't feel too heavy if you actually don't overeat.

Rivaayat is a great initiative by The Oberoi in fact. I am watching how it unfolds in other cities as a friend told Hyderabad is next where Rivaayat is unfolding.