Monday, November 30, 2009

daal bhari puri UP style | chana dal stuffed poori and recipe of green papaya stew

daal bhari poori recipe

This is an old traditional recipe of stufffed poori from eastern Uttar Pradesh called as daal bhari poori, made for festivals and on arrival of a new daughter in law in the family as that is seen as the arrival of laxmi too (this is my guess as I am terrible regarding wedding traditions and rituals). Daal ki poori or puri is unlike any other poori as it is bigger and fatter than other pooris, softer when it comes on your plate and feels like a stuffed paratha but not quite a paratha.

One thing is for sure that this poori is considered auspicious and I remember this being made on the day of Anant chturdashi, Dussera and Raksha Bandhan, probably a few more religious rituals.  

The version of daal bhari poori made in my parental home was a bit dry, the stuffing used to scatter on the plate and one always needed some patience with it.

I made a few changes in the process of making the pooran (filling) while keeping the ingredients same, the result was better than I expected and this procedure became a permanent fix in my recipe of daal bhari poori.

My mom used to boil the chana dal and discard the water ( to be used in a yummy soup), grind the chana dal with tempering and then filling the almost powdery crumbly dal to the pooris.

I did not throw the water and blended it with dal with the help of a stick hand blender, tempered it and cooked for a while to make it dough like. Read on to know how this pooran or stuffing is made.

Boil the chana dal with double the amount of water salt and turmeric powder till soft and mushy (in a pressure cooker 8 minutes after a whistle) blend with a stick blender when it is still hot, you can do it in a mixie jar too but keep the lid covered with a towel as it may spill n splatter...

Make a tempering by heating mustard oil, popping a tiny piece of asafoetida and some cumin seeds in it, add finely chopped garlic and green chillies to it and let them brown a bit. Add this to the chana dal batter and cook till a soft dough like consistency is achieved, it takes about 4-5 minutes and keep it in fridge to become firm as it will be easier to fill it in the dough....

A normal chapati dough is used to make this poori and you have to take care of the consistency of the dough. 

It is a tip I learned from my grandmother that if you keep the consistency of the dough and the filling same , it will be easier to stuff, roll and lift the stuffed poori  from the chakla (rolling board), the stuffing will be distributed equally throughout the poori and it will not get ruptured in frying oil.

This precious tip helps me always. So make a dough which is of the same consistency as the filling you made, and use freshly made dough for good results. I hope all the pictures showing the stuffing process will be useful as many people find it very tough. The poori gets ruptured while frying and can't be used after that. Shallow frying using a tawa is the only option left then, but the texture becomes very different.

The pictures below show how the stuffed poori is flattened first and then rolled.

Fry in hot oil to get puffed up, making fluffy soft daal pooris.

We enjoyed them with low oil green papaya masala stew as I did not have pumpkin that day which is the traditional pairing with this poori.

The poori tastes very good the next day too, so make it in good quantity as you may want the basi poori too. It is a keeper recipe from simple ingredients and great flavors, just like all traditional recipes.

finally the list of ingredients.....

chapati dough as required
chickpea skinned or chana dal 1 cup
salt to taste
turmeric powder 1 tsp
oil for deep frying ( mustard oil is used traditionally but is optional )

for the tempering...
 mustard oil 1 tsp
hing or asafoetida 1/8 tsp
whole cumin seeds 2 tsp
green chillies chopped 1 tbsp
garlic finely chopped 1 tbsp

Puran pori or puran poli is a sweet version of a chickpea stuffed poori, a maharashtrian-gujarati recipe. This dal bhari poori seems to be a cousin of puran poli.

Here we had it with beetroot raita, raw papaya stew and ambde ka achar. 

daal bhari poori recipe

green papaya masala stew recipe...

It is a very healthy and appropriate side dish with any kind of poori (or chapati) as it is very low on fat and makes the meal balanced regarding calorie and fat consumption.

You need 400 gm of raw, peeled and cubed papaya, 1 tsp of mustard oil, 1 tsp whole cumin seeds, 12 whole peppercorns, 1 black cardamom, 2 green cardamoms, 3-4 cloves and a small piece of cinnamon, a tbsp each of garlic, ginger and green chillies chopped, 1 whole red chilly, turmeric powder and salt to taste....

All you have to do is, heat oil in a pressure cooker pan and throw in all the spices and ginger garlic and green chillies together into it, followed by turmeric powder after a few seconds and then the papaya cubes and salt. Add 2 tbsp of water so that steam can be formed and pressure cook till one whistle. Cool to release pressure and serve hot with or without garnish of mint or coriander leaves.

The same stew can be made with pumpkin too, just replace green papaya with pumpkin.

Again simple ingredients resulting into a yummy healthy stew.

Remember this daal bhari poori tastes great the next day too so make some extra. 

Friday, November 27, 2009

edible flowers : drumstick flowers make really good pakoda, cheela or shallow fried fritters

This is the season when we start seeing drumstick flowers in the quaint neighborhood markets in Delhi. The high end grocers don't stock such foraged produce but the weekly vegetable markets and the friendly neighborhood subziwala (green grocer) starts bringing it for you if he knows there is a demand. I see that many middle aged and old women keep inquiring the subziwalas about swanjne ke phool or sehjan ke phool (drumstick flowers in local parlance) and buy them quickly if they spot. I feel great at such times that I have a huge drumstick tree in my garden that flowers twice a year.

drumstick flowers

What I do as an instinct that I offer the auntyjees a bunch of drumstick flowers from my garden next time she needs and start chatting. And then I ask how does she cook swanjne ke phool. Believe me I have done it about 4-5 times and everytime I get the same recipe of the curry that has a base of tomatoes and curd and the flowers are boiled and squeezed before being added to the curry. I figured this is the authentic Punjabi recipe of swanjne ke phool ki subzi. I recreated it in my kitchen and tried all the options suggested by different women I met in the weekly vegetable market. I learnt that whenever you add water to the curry it becomes a little bitter in taste as the juices of the drumstick flowers come out in the gravy. If we keep the curry dry and let it cook in it's own juices the taste is better and the bitterness is only in traces.

But the best use of these drumstick flowers I learnt from my mother in law. She used to make very nice cheela with chopped onions and drumstick flowers and later I started adding some chopped dhaniya patta (coriander greens) and green chillies etc to the batter mix, started making pakodas too sometimes but the cheela became a common breakfast whenever drumstick flowers were in season. The drumstick tree in my garden flowers twice a year as I mentioned, we get to enjoy this pakoda or cheela quite often.

To clean drumstick flowers you just need to pick all the stalks from the buds and flowers and rinse them under running water once. If you have bought from market and have doubts about some dust in it, you would need to dip the flowers in plenty of water in a large bowl, then strain them and rinse again under running water. Let all the water drain before using.

drumstick flowers fritters

(2 breakfast servings or 4-5 tea time snack servings)

drumstick flowers cleaned, rinsed and drained 1 cup
finely diced red onions 3/4 cup
minced green chillies 1 tsp
minced ginger 2 tsp
chopped coriander greens 1/2 cup
ajwain seeds 1 tsp
turmeric powder 1 tsp
salt to taste
besan or chickpea flour 1 cup or a bit more if required
water to make a thick batter to bind everything together
mustard oil to shallow fry about 1 tsp per small flat pancake or fritter


Mix everything together to make a thick batter.

Heat a flat bottom frying pan and grease with oil. Spread large spoonfuls of batter into several discs on the pan and drizzle oil around them. You can easily make 3-4 small pancakes (cheela or pakoda) at a time on a regular sized pan.

If you drizzle the oil a little generously you get the texture of a crisp pakoda and if you keep the amount of oil lesser you get the texture of a pancake. The pancake type would need to be cooked for a little longer to get completely cooked.

Serve hot with a green chutney or fresh tomato chutney. The one I served this time was made of 3 large tomatoes, 2 cloves of garlic and 2 green chillies and salt to taste. Just blend everything together and pour into the serving bowl.

drumstick flowers fritters

As kids we used to eat such fritters as a sandwich filling sometimes. I remember buttered slices of bread sandwiching one such fat crisp fritter or patty made of any vegetables and paneer etc or even ghee smeared rotis wrapped around such fritters used to be a filling snack after some long distance cycling or whatever that exhausted us and made us hungry.

A similar shallow fried pakoda recipe is here. Such shallow fried pakodas and pancakes make really good tea time snacks or hearty winter or rainy day breakfasts. Don't forget to serve a tangy hot freshly made chutney on the side and see how everyone laps up healthy food without a wink.

I will share recipes of drumstick flower subzi really soon.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

matar ka nimona version 3 | tender green peas nimona recipe

I have shared a rustic and more robust version of matar ka nimona earlier and in that post I had promised to post this delicate version of the dish. This version is made with the absolutely tender peas and the frozen ones are not suitable for this, the natural sweetness of peas takes the center stage here and the green pigment from peas is extracted in the ghee which floats on top.

The bright green colour that floats into this version of matar ka nimona makes it really aromatic and tasty with all the tenderness of early season peas. Incidentally peas are obscenely costly right now, that is, Rs.100 a kilo, but those who love this nimona  wouldn't bother about the expense.

matar ka nimona recipe

Matar ka nimona is a fairly unheard of recipe. Purely a banarasi recipe made in some parts of eastern UP too, I make this version of matar k nimona in three versions depending on how tender the peas are as when they are the tender most, they need to be kept simple in seasoning and that is when they are the best  ...

matar ka nimona recipe

Other two recipes are here, you can try any version according to the spice level you want and the type of peas you get, or the meal you want to make it for. It can be a main course or a side dish, and the version I am sharing now can be had for fasting days too as it is devoid of onion garlic and is made in ghee. Many Banaras people do fast on Mondays for Shiv ji and eat kadhi chawal, or nimona chawal for dinner after a day long fruits only diet. I made it quite hot with green chillies and ginger but it can be adjusted to personal taste.

ingredients ...

tender peas 1.5 cup
ginger 1.5 inch piece chopped
green chilies 3-4 or more chopped
coriander seeds 1tsp, cumin 3/4 tsp and black pepper 3/4 tsp powdered with 1 bay leaf
( all this can be wet ground in the mixie ..i used my everyday curry masala made with same proportions of the spices)
green coriander leaves chopped with stems 3/4 cup (stems are to be kept separately)
salt to taste
ghee 1 tbsp (no substitutes)
cumin seeds 1/2 tsp


Make a coarse paste of ginger n green chillies in a mixie jar and in the same jar put all the peas and grind till a coarse paste is made, some peas can remain whole too...

Heat ghee in a kadai and throw in the cumin seeds and let the splutter, put off the heat and throw in the spice powders and mix well....

After this add the peas paste and mix, start coking on medium heat, stirring frequently.....

matar ka nimona recipe matar ka nimona recipe

 fry for a while, for 2 minutes on medium heat it should become glossy after frying well.....

matar ka nimona recipe

Pour 1.5 cup of water in it and the chopped stems of coriander leaves and let the slurry like mixture boil for 2 minutes. It has been half cooked already and just needs to get the flavors of spices and coriander stems infused nicely.

matar ka nimona recipe matar ka nimona recipe

I used less ghee than is used traditionally so the ghee does not come on top after boiling. But as soon as the cooking is done (coriander leaves will be added in the last minute) and you cover the kadai and rest it for  while, you can see the ghee floating on top with a lovely green color.

This green rogan (rogan = floating oil over any curry) is the indication of most fragrant and flavorful curry made with simple ingredients....

matar ka nimona recipe matar ka nimona recipe

We enjoyed it with thin, soft and hot chapatis for dinner and it was a treat for the senses. Literally...

This version of matar ka nimona takes just about 10 minutes to cook if you are cooking for 2, you can plan the cooking accordingly. If you plan to cook for about 6-8 people you can expect about 20 minutes for this recipe as the time taken to heat up the larger quantity takes a little more time.

Make this simpler yet more aromatic version of matar ka nimona and let me know if it becomes a family favourite.

Waiting to hear from you.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

perfect recipe of sponge rasgulla | making rasgulle step by step

Somebody asked me if I have rasgulla recipe on my blog. I told that I have a picture ready and will post it soon. But when he started asking about the procedure and the syrup proportion etc. I thought I need to make it again and take pictures of all the steps. More so because I have been using andaza (approximate) measurements regarding the sugar syrup for rasgulla cooking. 

Rasgulla can be described as a spongy ball of cottage cheese that soaks up the sugar syrup it is kept submerged in. Rasgulla is always served with some of the syrup so it stays 'hydrated' when it reaches you, and you never bite into a spongy rasgulla, you gulp it down at once. The syrup comes oozing out onto your clothes if you bite into a spongy rasgulla. Banarasis have this 'acid test' for a good rasgulla. 

I wanted to give exact measurements of the sugar and water ratio for the recipe, but I failed miserably regarding calculating an exact syrup consistency. I feel there is nothing like an exact syrup consistency for making rasgulla. Some people like it thin and some others like it a bit sweeter. So adjusting the sweetness is the key*. 

The only thing important for a good rasgulla is great paneer, freshly made softest paneer, no substitutes. And once you make that perfect paneer you can never go wrong with a rasgulla.....

I took pictures of making paneer as that is the most important step of making rasgulla the other step is just like eating the rasgulla. Yes the cooking procedure is a cakewalk once the paneer part is perfected. 

The pictures are not very good as I made these in night but I feel it demonstrates the process well.

Let's get started with the procedure as I can't wait for a good rasgulla, and can't eat a bad rasgulla for that matter, especially the ones available in Delhi.

Ingredients needed are 500ml milk and about 200- 250 gm sugar
you also need juice of half a lemon or 1/4 cup curds to curdle the milk 

Firstly heat the milk in a saucepan and wait till a layer of fat comes on top and you see the wrinkles (as you might have seen just before boiling starts), I wanted to take a picture of this stage but my cell phone camera would have been a dud at this. So this is the time when you have to put the heat off and start adding the lemon juice or curds. I used fresh lemon juice this time as a plump and fresh lemon was sitting on the counter already (from my garden). 

If using lemon juice you have to add drop by drop and if it is curds (dahi) you can go spoon by spoonful, stirring while adding. The milk should curdle slowly after each addition. 

Continue adding the juice till the whey becomes transparent, juice of half a lemon or about 15 ml will be enough and if you see that still the whey has not separated it means you need to heat the milk a little. Heat some more while stirring and it will curdle. You have to keep a large bowl of hot water ready for rinsing the paneer.

The paneer (fresh cottage cheese or chenna)) is sticky and sticks to the spoon which was used to stir (good sign, we need a cohesive mass of cheese) now immediately pass it through a steel sieve (no need to line it with muslin) and wait for two minutes. Toss the paneer to gather it in the center ...

Now immediately dunk it into hot water which you have kept ready. Also, this is the time you have to put the water and sugar to boil so that it's boiling properly when the balls are ready.....

And rinse the cheese properly by pressing it with spoon to the sides of the bowl several times. The water gets milky (another good sign)..

Pass it through the sieve again and press with fingers to drain any excess water. No need to press hard as it doesn't take any water from the dip. Take out from the sieve and mash with fingers till a smooth dough is formed. 

No muscle is needed for a small quantity like this, just make it smooth. You can use the base of your hands, it is a quick step. See in the picture it does not look really smooth but the thing to keep in mind is that it should be cohesive and soft, should bind together and not be crumbly and dry. If the paneer is not good it is crumbly and if you find that your paneer mash is crumbly and dry at this point stop making rasgulla, as they will disintegrate in the syrup

Do something else with the hard crumbly paneer if the paneer making process fails to produce cohesive dough. Make paneer cutlets or paneer bhurji instead....

Make balls with small portions of this dough. I made 15 small rasgullas using 500 ml milk or 8 regular sized rasgullas will be made otherwise....

 I put the first ball into the boiling syrup till other balls were made and see how it looks swelled up within 2-3 minutes when i dunked all the balls into the syrup.......

Place the cooker lid and wait till the first whistle blows, lower heat and let cook for 8-10 minutes. Cool till the pressure releases, open the lid to see mouth watering rasgullas. Did you notice the amount of syrup in the first picture and the later one. It is lesser in the later. I do a trick with the sugar on...

I used 130 ml of sugar with 700 ml of water to cook the rasgullas in the cooker, thin syrup because a lot of syrup is needed to cook the rasgullas to allow maximum expansion. They expand about 3 times the original volume. After they are cooked I remove most of the syrup (which can be used for something else later) and keep just to keep the rasgullas floating. Add more sugar to taste. Yes I taste the syrup and add as much sugar as is needed and give it a boil........

Now comes the test of a good rasgulla. When you keep the rasgullas crowded in a bowl like this....

It takes the shape of a penta-, hexa-, or a heptagon as the sides are pressed against each other. And if you press a rasgulla between two spoons it becomes flat and does not break. And when you put it back into the syrup, floating freely, it will become round again........

the perfect rasgulla with a soft cushion like spongy texture.........

points to note ....
*washing the paneer is an important step to make whiter and softer rasgullas as galactose from the paneer needs to be washed away immediately after it is made, before it settles down in the clotted paneer......

* check out when you are making the balls, the mashed paneer should be cohesive and should not be crumbly. Iit should be easily shaped into a ball, if it takes effort to bind or the paneer ball has cracks visible, it means it will make hard rasgulla or most probably disintegrate into the syrup.

* I used Amul full cream milk and it was good enough, ideally cow's milk is considered best for making rasgullas.

It has become  quite a long post as I wanted to make the finer points clear. Many a times I have heard that they did not expand in the syrup or disintegrated. Actually one of my friend who is in UK asked me the recipe and I told her over the phone. Later she told me that rasgullas were a bit hard. So it is for her and for the gentleman who inquired for the recipe.

But be assured, it took me less time to make the rasgullas than writing this post. Trust me.

Make some rasgulle today and be happy.......

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

khandvi ...step by step...

A couple of years back i was watching a cookery show by Madhur Jaffery where she was covering gujrati cuisine , she was calling the khandwi a kind of pasta dish .... it was startling for me as i had never thought of a similarity between the two earlier , but yes the way it is made, it surely is a counterpart of a pasta ......

Interestingly another cookery show i watched recently by Ritu Dalmia where she cooked a pasta more like a khandwi.....i mean the dough was more like batter which was cooked to make a sticky mass ....spread on a plate in a thin layer and then cut into strips....into wedges ( to be fried later n had with sauce) actually and that was a pasta by some other name......she called this a pakoda like pasta but i think the way a batter is cooked till sticky n lumpy , then spread onto a greased surface , cut into was more like making a khandwi.....and incidentally khandwi and pakoda , though made with a set of similar ingredients, are way too different from each other......

Dhokla is another recipe made with similar ingredients but how different is that from a khandwi......while the one holds all the sweet n sour n hot syrup inside the air pockets , the other is rolled over the same flavors with a nutty texture of sesame to flaunt........both are delight to have ...and that is for sure!!

Now we realize why all those weird shapes of pasta are different from each other....some are made to hold the cheesy sauce inside the tubes, some are meant to entangle with a salad like textured vegetable sauce , while some of them are just made for floating gleefully in a hot steaming soup ....aaah !! Some even hold the cheese n veggies inside their tummy too......:):)

After all this gyan ( is it?) , i must tell you that the khandwi is an easy snack , believe me ....many of my friends think that i make them because i can make so many other difficult things with ease.......but i want to make them understand that this is an easy and healthy snack.........i am posting this recipe on request of some friends and also to show them that this is an easy just need to understand the consistency of the batter and work quickly.......within a time of 10 minutes you see yourself cutting the strips and rolling them...believe me..

see how it goes.......
the first step is to make the tempering as it will be easier to assemble the khandvi when it's ready.....sometimes the tempering is poured over rolled up khandvi and the insides of the rolls are not stuffed , i like the tempering layered inside the rolls and make the tempering in very less quantity of oil.....

ingredients for tempering.. 
 oil 1 tbsp
asafoetida 1 pinch
rai or small grain mustard seeds 1 tsp
finely chopped green chillies 1 tbsp or more
sesame seeds 1 tsp
finely chopped curry patta 1/2 cup
( i chop them because i like stuffing them into the rolls and it is more flavorful this way)
water 1/2 cup
sugar1 tbsp or more if you like it sweeter
lemon juice 2 tbsp
shredded coconut 2-3 tbsp

 To make the tempering ...... heat oil in a small pan...throw in asafoetida and rai grains...wait till it crackles and then throw in sesame seeds and the finely chopped green chillies the oil is less you may need to stir the mixture while out all the chopped curry patta in it and roast slowly on low flame ( as it will get burnt in very less oil ).......pour 1/2 cup of water n let it boil...add 1 tbsp of sugar and let it dissolve......take off the flame and add the lemon juice and keep aside till needed.

ingredients for khandvi ..

besan or chickpea flour 200 gm
buttermilk 300 gm ( you may need some more or less depending on the consistency of buttermilk)
salt to taste
turmeric powder 2 tsp

To make the khandvi , first of all take care to make the batter in a large measuring cup .....take the besan in it and pour the buttermilk over it to make a thin batter.......see the consistency.........

if the buttermilk is too thin you may need lesser amount of it , season with salt and turmeric powder ( you may add pepper n chilly too but i like these to be in the tempering)........once you pour the batter in the kadai on flame , stir constantly as the batter thickens to become sticky.......for about 5 minutes .......

One thing to take care is that is better to make the sticky paste in two batches , as it will be easier to spread the paste on greased surface evenly n i do it in two batches for this quantity......make the batter , pour half of it into the kadai for first batch...spread it on the greased surface ....then again proceed to cook the next batch of paste into the kadai......spread it and proceed to cut stripes and the next get perfect thin khandvis this way.......

Test to see if it is done by looking for the bubbles ...more like blisters....which appear from the base of kadai into the cooked besan mass and releases steam as it bursts........stop cooking at this point and quickly empty the contents on a greased surface and spread it like you spread butter on thin as possible to make a large sheet..........

 now cut strips 1 inch wide and 3-4 inch long into it.........

spread the tempering mixture over this evenly ...........

sprinkle finely grated coconut and start rolling the strips into neat rolls, repeat till all the strips have been rolled and serve immediately......sprinkling some of the leftover tempering and some grated coconut on top............

 It will take 15 minutes from start but your hands should move quickly while stirring the batter and spreading it.........

Try this sweet n sour n hot snack with your evening tea and tell me how it was.........

Sunday, November 8, 2009

kakode stirfried with shallots | kakode pyaz ki subzi

kakode (teasle gourd) subzi

This is a vegetable which is unknown to many, it is called khekhsa in Banaras, kakode in Delhi, ghee karela in Jharkhand and kakrol in Madhya Pradesh and asTeasle gourd in English.

Teasle gourd is available in two varieties, one is a bigger sized and the other smaller which is considered tastier. I have heard about a tribal saying that eating this vegetable acts as a natural antivenom for snake bites, it sounds funny but tribal ethnomedicine has a time tested tradition, this fact needs to be investigated further and I ask my readers if they have any information about this...

One more interesting fact about this vegetable is, that it is not commonly cultivated and is collected from jungles mostly, that may be the reason for astronomical cost it demands whenever it is seen in the market here in Delhi....

You wont find many recipe of kakrol, khekhsa or kakode on the internet but this is such a mild flavored vegetable that can be cooked the way you like. We prefer a dry stir fry with it mostly but another curry with lightly sauteed kakode and a paste of poppy seeds is a delicacy in Bengal. In my family it was always made into a bhujia or pakoda.

I make this vegetable in the simplest way possible as I like the natural taste it has. The bigger variety demands frying till browned a bit but the smaller variety needs to be fried very briefly, just to get soft, as I like most of my stir fries.......

kakode (teasle gourd) subzi

I used shallots with it as they impart a nice flavor to the vegetable as you see in the picture, the kakode are even smaller than the shallots. Chop the shallots as well as kakode in halves or quarters and stir fry in very little ghee.....

First heat a tbsp of ghee in a pan and throw in 1 tsp of cumin seeds into it.
When the cumin splutters, throw in the chopped shallots and kakode together (200 gm each kakode and shallots) Fry for a while, about 2-3 minutes, the veggies become a bit translucent, now throw in salt to taste and lots of pepper. Mix well and it's ready within 5 minutes.

Sprinkle 1/2 tsp of amchoor powder and let it sit for a minute before serving. It has to be made just before serving as it tastes best when it is just fried..........

kakode (teasle gourd) subzi

This stir fry of kakode or khekhsa tastes good with rotis or daal chawal as a mild flavored side dish.

You can add some more spices to suit your taste but take care not to overpower the mild flavour of the vegetable. It is better to make another spice dish on the side if you like spicy food, this stir fry will be enjoyed by those who appreciate milder subzis.