Tuesday, April 28, 2009

dahi vada, dahi vade / dahi bhalle | how to make soft dahi vade...



These dahi bhalle I made for holi but could not post it then, so it comes now and I am tempted to make them again. These are really soft and flavorful vadas which melts in your mouth instantly. Normally I make them plain but this holi I wanted them the way my dadi used to make. With a flavoring of black cardamom and ginger. All of us remembered her while eating these dahi vadas with a ginger and black cardamom flavor..

Some people find it hard to make soft and melt in the mouth type vadas but the trick lies in making the vada paste a little softer and lighter (by giving it an extra whiz in the grinder).

After that the fried vadas should be soaked in hot salted water until they double in size, they become really soft after this. Drain them, top them with curds n masala and serve.
See how the recipe goes..........

ingredients

urad daal or split black gram without skin 250 gm
ginger 1 inch piece
black cardamom 5 nos.
oil to deep fry
curds 500 gm
cumin seeds roasted and powdered ( can be stored)
black pepper powder
red chilly powder
salt

procedure

Soak the daal overnight and grind to make a smooth paste, water has to be added during grinding and the consistency should be soft but not runny, air should be incorporated into the batter by whizzing it again into the blender.

Now make a paste of ginger and black cardamom and mix with the daal batter.........

Heat oil in a deep frying pan and shape the vadas with a wet hand, just take a handful, smooth it on your four fingers, with your thumb make a hole in the center and drop carefully into the hot oil, 3-4 vadas can be fried in one batch and it has to be done on medium flame so that it gets cooked through.

When the vadas get golden brown in the hot oil, drain from the oil and dip into salted boiling water right away. Repeat frying more batches of vadas and keep immersing them all into salted boiling water. Let the vadas be fully submerged in hot water for about an hour or till they all double in size.

Remove with the help of a slotted spoon when it doubles in size, repeat for all the fried vadas , arrange them into a shallow dish, let it cool, pour beaten curds over this and keep in the fridge until chilled ...

At the time of serving, sprinkle the masala in whatever proportion you like and enjoy soft dahi vadas.

These are the vadas just after frying



And this one after soaking in salted hot water, drained after it gets doubled in size...



Here it is after topping it with curds and a sprinkling of masala........mmmm......yum.


The curd should be beaten smooth and some sugar can be added to it if you like it khatta- meetha.

Sweet sonth wali chutney can be used as a topping too to make it khatta meetha....this one is a plain slightly khatta vada which goes well like a side dish or like a chaat snack. The topping I used this time is some bhuna jeera, red chilly powder and black salt.

I shall post other variants as and when I make them..

egg curry masala



eggs are so versatile n full of nutrition , they are always in your fridge n come to your rescue when you want to make something tasty n nutritious without much effort......this is such an easy n spicy recipe which goes well with boiled rice or chapatis.......the hot gravy can be adapted to your taste n every family has a different version of a favorite egg curry..........this one is mine.......i make it in a low fat version when i have time n in more oil when i have to be quick or when cooking for guests.......see how i make it both ways.......

ingredients

firm boiled eggs 4 nos. ( for 2 servings)
large ripe tomatoes 2 nos.
onions medium sized 2 nos.
generous amounts of ginger garlic n green chillies
turmeric,coriander, cumin and black pepper powder 1 tsp each
red chilly powder 1 tsp ( optional)
green coriander leaves chopped 2 tbsp
mustard oil 1 tbsp for low fat version or 5 tbsp otherwise
salt to taste


procedure

first make a coarse paste of onions in a blender.......heat the oil and fry the boiled, shelled eggs lightly , drain n keep aside.........now throw in the onion paste and fry on very low heat if using less oil, it is better to add salt while doing so as salt fastens the browning of onions.........if using more oil it is better to keep the flame on high...........anyway the onions have to be lightly browned ......in the meanwhile make a coarse paste of ginger garlic n green chillies n tip this paste too into the pan...fry it lightly , no browning is needed but the pastes should get cooked........now add all the powder masalas, stir nicely and tip in a coarse paste of tomatoes which i usually make during the cooking process only.......i usually cut down on my cooking time by grinding n blending one by one while adding them to the pan in that order............it can well be done beforehand if you cannot manage both simultaneously.............after adding the tomatoes, stir a bit and cook the masala covered till oil separates on top......by this time the masalas get aroamtic .......add some water, as much as you want depending how thick or thin gravy you want........tip in the fried eggs( fried boiled potatoes can also be added at this point) n cook covered for a while till oil comes on top again........garnish with coriander leaves n serve hot .......

i cook it without garam masala as the taste of this gravy is a bit subtle but very aromatic.......generous amounts of onions n tomatoes make it lightand all the flavours come out beautifully.....nothing is overpowering n the top note of coriander leaves is awesome.........moreover i keep the pastes coarse so as to make this gravy textured...........

seviyan kheer or vermicelli kheer...

after posting about my experiences in banaras this recipe of seviyan kheer or seviyan payasam seems very apt as i always feel that you can get the best dry vermicelli in banaras only....here i have to make do with whatever is available.


banaras is the place for different types of seviyan and you get the best seviyan at daalmandi market......all sorts of thin n crisp seviyan to make the best sheer khurma possible......they make it in circles......almost looks like discs of delicate threads......... and it is arranged in a very tempting way in street shops there......sukhi seviya with lots of dry fruits is my favorite but i cook it very occasionally as it is very heavy on calories........

but sheer khurma or light n thin seviyan kheer is easy n quick to make and interestingly arvind can have it for breakfast, lunch or dinner .....all by themselves...........or as a dessert as everybody else enjoy it...........

it is so esy to make .....just heat some ghee( 2 tbsp) in a pan and tip in a cup of broken seviyan into it and fry till golden brown.....it is better to keep the flame low as it allows uniform browning.........pour in full cream milk into the pan( 1 litre) and let it boil while stirring constantly......it is done as soon as it starts boiling........cream can be added to make it really rich but that is optional...........some chopped nuts and it is ready.......serve it hot , warm or chilled........cardamoms or rose water can be added if you like.....i like it as it is..........

i like it hot or warm as i feel the ghee used in frying the seviyan tastes better when hot and the saundhi khushbu is more profound that way.......on the other hand arvind likes it chilled.......

Friday, April 24, 2009

subah-e-banaras

subah-e-banaras and sham-e-awadh....these are famous for their ethereal beauty, you have to see it to believe it...........i have never witnessed sham-e-awadh but sunrise from the ghats of ganga ji i have seen a few times , and from different locations ........it was a different experience each time........there have been times when i traveled to banaras by train n crossed the rajghat bridge right at the time of sunrise......it's completely unique from up there, and a very divine feeling at the time of entering the city of banaras.

once after marriage i went with my MIL to see chhath puja( surya shashthi), which is a two day ritual, once the sunGod is worshipped in the evening n the next morning at the time of sunrise.....we saw it at assi ghat and that experience was truly maddening for me ......thousands of people doing the ardhya simultaneously to the crimson horizon where suryadev goes to sleep majestically.........turning the hues of the horizon from crimson to shades of violet and then gray as we walk back....... to come back next morning for the rising sun.............thousands of people stand in the ganga waters , waist deep waters actually n wait for the sunrise.....holding thier aarti thals ( actually it is a soop laden with fruits, prasad and a diya) and as soon as the horizon shows a light crimson shade ........there is silent shuffling of sarees, adjusting the diyas , and murmering of the mantras and prayers.......and again the suryadev arrive with all the majesty........everybody doing jalarpan simultaneously n then aarti.........that is truly a divine feeling...........i have never believed in doing a ritulistic prayer ......i pray as n when i want.... but seeing other people doing it fills me with all the good vibes.............and this one with a wonderful sunrise in the backdrop has been an everlasting memory........i witnessed this sunrise almost 10 yrs ago n the memory is still livid.......i suppose good things in life affect you this way.............

in this trip of mine i was able to sneak one morning from my in laws home ( which is a 2-3 minute walk from the banks of ganga)arvind actually got up early n said chalo chalte hain......mithi was sleeping peacefully n it was a good opportunity........we got out of the house in no time n reached the banks even before realising.........gangaji flowing silently under mildly illuminated sky.........just before sunrise it is quite a visible horizon, especially in mid summers.....in this part of the banks ( nagwa is the area n there are no stone ghats build there) there are many wild plants growing ...we found a place to sit as the sky started turning light crimson.........again the cellphone camera came handy n arvind clicked some pictures...........we missed carrying a camera as that was a perfet setting......some boats were there in the waters giving it a dream like appearence.........how i feel at loss of words in describing that...............look at that...how the crinmson turning sky is reflected in the waters...


some boats are thre at a distance n i wanted them to cross the canvas just at the time of sunrise........


the sun appearing as a dot surrounded by a huge halo..........



two boats have already crossed my canvas n now i can see that they leave a long trail of water which they cut throught o move on......beautiful..........



and now a tikka is about to form on the forhead of the water and as i have been waiting , the boat is ready to cross........



see how it goes.....leaving behind the trail....



see how the rising sun reflects in the serene waters............how much i wanted to be there .......to touch that..........


the tikka reflection in the water has got very profound..........as the sun moves up we came out of a deep slumber...a dreamy one.........to the reality....in true meaning..............a loud phut phut attracted our attention towards our right.........and we spotted this...




a motor boat taking off.......with deep black smoke..........how we are strangulating nature.......i realised it again in one of the most serene mornings i have ever witnessed.........



in the backdrop you can see the crescent shaped banks of ganga .........this is the uniqueness of ganga ji in banaras that it make a crecsent n takes a slight bend from there.....that is why ganga has not receded from the ghats in banaras like other places........at the sangam in allahabad you have to walk more than a kilometer from the ghat, walking on the sands, to reach ganga ..........
in the night time the ghats are illuminated and the crescent looks beautiful in the dark.....from our rooftop........those violet colored dots are the huge halogen lights which are lit during night .....they reflect beautifully into the waters............those pics some other time.........

an evening at ganga ji

hey .....i was in banaras last week..........after a loooong time , it was a busy but enjoyable trip n how i wanted to soak in everything i could......got to meet some old friends , could not meet some others......got to see ganga jee at evening as well as at sunrise time..........great experience it is........

i wanted to do so many things there.....having all those yum food....lassi, chaat, kachori sabzi in the morning, jalebis, lal peda, sankatmochan ke laddu, tamaatar chaat....all of these were on my priority list..............

after a long time i had golgappe at godolia, and chaat at kashi chaat bhandar which was a bit diappointing but the golgappas were awesome....the golgappewala got really excited seeing our enthusiasm and started making all the variants he could, it was great fun eating those in biodegradable leaf bowls which is called dona there.........

i visisted the ganga ghaats too after a long time .......actually i don't even rememeber when i was there last time............i only remember when me n arvind used to go there in our dating days........we have done a lot of boat rides in those days......it was so nostalgic and to add to my nostalgia, arvind was home taking care of mithi ....i had gone there with my brother n sister with thier respective spouses........

it was late in the evening and for the first time i could see people feeding atta balls to the fish....on closer observation i could see millions of tiny fish in the water ...in swarms.......and in between a bigger fish would give a silvery glimpse as she would come up to catch the feed.........some people feed fish as a religious ritual, it is supposed to be a punya karma............i had seen this at durgakund lake earlier,but at the ganga ghaat this was my first experience of seeing somebody feeding the fish.........



a little far away from the banks, there were a few boats floating silently.....reflecting the light falling on them from the ghaats, against the black background........the ganga waters become pitch dark after evening and i remember i used to get scared when it got dark during boating......but one look at the illuminated ghaats and you get transported to another world.........i clicked some pictures from my cellphone camera......it just shows a small fraction of what it really was..........




in this pic the boat is tied to a stone railing with a rope which can be seen clearly......many people sleep in thier boats in the night.......strange but true.........whole night under the starry sky floating on water .....sounds utterly romantic.........



these boats which look like house boats are actually bajraas as they are called there and during ganga mahotsav artists perform over the roof of many such boats which are aligned by the banks that day.....the audience sits at the stone steps at the bank ........that is surreal experience........

we used to hire these bajraas for early boating long back, and go to the ganga paar .......it is like a sandy beach on the other side of ganga........we used to play there untill noon , in shallow waters , and then we would change in the rooms inside these bajraas.......the beautiful windows can be seen in these pics...............it is nothing fancy or fashionable.....very earthy and a country feel ........combined with nostalgia, it becomes heavenly...........ask me.......


and then somebody lit a diya on the stone steps leading to water.............oh so romantic........these pics are frustrating me right now...............it is not even a fraction of what it was..........


.

i watched the diya untill it drowned into the water......taking a final dubki.........


could not stay there after that.........

on returning i spotted some of the old shops selling stone figurines, which i used to buy n gift to my outsider friends........and i spotted some stalls selling puja ka saman ......i found they were selling the dry water chestnuts , kuttu or buckwheat and wild rice which is called tinni ka chawal there, all these are eaten during fasting days and banaras is famous for it's fasting cuisine..........it is coming on this blog soon ............i had to buy these without a second thought.........luggage getting heavy?.....no.... no problem .........will tackle it later........

shall write about the sunrise in my next post...getting sleepy now....it is more than an hour past midnight...........and guys don't blame me for my camera..........:D:D.