Thursday, October 28, 2010

kalonji ...... the masala stuffed vegetables...

In the eastern part of UP there are a lot of spicy hot fried vegetable preparations to go with a daal-chawal lunch . Kalonji is the name for masala stuffed vegetables ,and the vegetables used for this are parval ( pointed guard ) , karela ( bitter guard ) , bhindi ( okra ) , baby sponge guards , baby egg plants etc. While the spices for stuffing are usually different for different vegetables , like my mom used to make a mustard spice mix for baby egg plants , a onion and raw mango based spice mix for karelas and a ginger-garlic-onion and garam masala mix for parval , bhindi , baby sponge guards and potatoes .

Potatoes are halved and slit along the length and then the furrows are stuffed with the same spice mix and they taste really good .  Unlike other stuffing where a paneer , boiled potato , chick pea mixture or coconut mix based masala is used for the stuffing , this kalonji uses this spicy hot garam masala mix . Stuffed in small quantities the spice mix makes the vegetable really smoky hot .... i made it with parval and potatoes this time but the same stuff can be used for any vegetable you wish .

ingredients for the spice mixture...

onion 1 no.
garlic 8-10 cloves ( indian garlic)
green chillies 3-4 nos.
whole dry rad chilly 1 no. ( or more if you like it hot )
ginger 1 inch piece
turmeric powder 1tsp
coriander seeds 2 tsp
cumin seeds 2 tsp
black pepper corns 2 tsp
cloves 3 nos
black and green cardamom 1 no. each
half a star anise or 4-5 petals of the whole star anise
bay leaves 2 nos ..scissor cut in small bits
amchoor powder 1-2 tsp ( according to taste )
salt to taste 
 mustard oil 1 tbsp

Make a coarse paste of onion and keep aside .

Make a fine paste of all the other ingredients except mustard oil , salt and amchoor . Keep aside.

Heat oil in a thick base kadai and pour the onion paste in it . Fry till the onion gets shiny and soft , add the other paste and fry on low heat for a good 5 minutes .

Add salt ( just a bit more than needed for the masala paste ) and amchoor powder and fry the masala paste till the oil starts spluttering a bit . The masala paste starts sticking to the pan while frying but keep scraping and turning to roast it well. A nice aroma of bhuna masala is an indicator to put off the flame.

Now prepare the vegetables for stuffing. about 8 parvals and 4 halves of potatoes can be stuffed with this much of masala paste , but it depends on how much masala paste you would like inside each kalonji ...

Scrape the parval and make a side slit . Emptying the contents is not needed but if there are seeds they are better removed.Blanch in salted water and keep aside .

Peel and cut the potato in two flat halves , now make two or three slits to make it look like the picture . rub salt over it or blanch along with the parval.

Stuff the masala inside the parval and in the furrows in the potato halves.

Shallow fry in a flay base pan using minimal amount of mustard oil. Do it on very low flame and keep turning the vegetables so that they get cooked and browned on all sides .

Some of the masala paste seems to burst out of the seems but it is okay to let it be like that as the over browned masala tastes great with these kalonji....

With hot daal chawal topped with some ghee ... this is the ultimate side dish for most people of eastern UP ....... stuffed vegetables are made in many more ways in other parts o the country but this is the age old recipe of kalonji .... or tawa fry as some people prefer to call it now....

I like it rolled up in a kathi roll too with some fresh salad ........

Monday, October 25, 2010

everyday subzi | guar or cluster beans: two stir fries and a wonderful sesame curry paste

I never knew that the slightly bitter tasting gummy textured Guar can be a favorite of so many people.

guar or cluster beans

love these beans called cluster beans in English but never thought of posting a recipe because not many people like this vegetable. That concept of mine was proved wrong when I posted Guar dhokli ki subzi, as I received many requests for posting more recipes of these beans. Here I am with two simple stir fries I love, cooked with guar phali or cluster beans..

 guar ki lasuni bhujia... 

guar or cluster beans bhujia

This is the simplest of all stir fries especially if I use the green chilly and garlic paste stored in my freezer . I make this lasooni bhujia with many vegetables like raw plantains, parval (pointed guard), tendli or kundru (ivy guard), bhindi (okra), arbi (colocasia) or yams, jack-fruit or even potatoes. The green chilies and garlic paste comes handy for so many things, it is always there in my freezer and I just scoop out required quantity and a yummy bhujia for our daal chawal is ready.

For Guar you need to string the beans. Good quality guar is plump and soft and strings easily. Then it is held in a bunch, rolled together and chopped in small bits ......

guar phali ki bhujia

For the lasooni bhujia you need 
(for 4-5 servings as a side dish)

250 gm of guar chopped
1 tbsp of mustard oil
1 tbsp of green chllies and garlic paste
1 tsp fenugreek seeds for tempering (I like it, can be replaced with cumin seeds or nigella seeds as per choice)
turmeric powder 1 tsp
salt to taste

To proceed ... heat mustard oil in a kadai or pan, throw in the tempering spice of your choice , wait till it splutters and them throw in the chopped guar. Stir fry adding salt and turmeric till the guar becomes shiny and a bit soft (not mushy). Add the green chilly garlic paste and a tbsp of water if the mixture is getting too dry. Cover and cook for a couple of minutes, stir to mix and cook uncovered till nice aroma of garlic wafts through.

Adding a little water with the paste and then covering the pan to cook is crucial in this simple recipe as the flavors of garlic and chillies are absorbed well by the vegetable and you do not get sneezing bout due to frying/burning chillies. This is particularly crucial if you are frying raw plantains or potatoes or any kind of yams this way ...

guar in sesame spice mix...

guar phali ki bhujia

This spice mix has been a hit in my house since I developed it after making a healthier version of baghara baingan and then made a cabbage stir fry with it. It has been tried by many of my blogger and non blogger friends and has become a favorite in no time. I have myself used this spice mix to make many vegetables yummy  for family and guests and every time it has been a topic of conversation....

The sesame spice mix requires ....
sesame seeds 5gm
dry grated coconut 2 tbsp(25-3gm)
dry red chillies 8-10 nos. (to taste)
peanuts 50 gm 

Dry roast everything separately and then grind together when cooled. Some people have tried it without roasting and stir frying the vegetables after adding it for a few more minutes, but I strongly recommend dry roasting the seeds before making the powder (the powder will be a crumbly pasty one due to the oil content of the ingredients) adds a whole lot of flavor believe me..... the paste/powder keeps well at room temperature for a fortnight and for six months in the fridge.

requirements for the guar with sesame curry paste ...
(for 4-5 servings as side dish)

Guar chopped 250 gm
potatoes chopped in small bits 1 no.
tomatoes chopped in small cubes 1 no.
cumin seeds 1 tsp
ginger chopped fine 1 tbsp
sesame curry paste 2 tbsp (or as much you like it)
mustard oil 1 tbsp
salt to taste


Heat oil in a kadai and throw in the cumin seeds and wait till they splutter. Add the chopped ginger first and then the chopped guar and potatoes at once with salt and stir to mix well Cover and cook till 3/4 done , add chopped tomatoes and mix well. Keep stirring and cooking till the tomatoes get mushy. Add the sesame curry paste and a tbsp (or more if you wish to have some gravy, use more sesame paste in that case) of water, mix well to coat the vegetables and it's ready. Take off heat and serve hot ......... A toasted sesame aroma will fill your kitchen and you suddenly feel hungry ....... believe me.

You may feel like adding a bit of tamarind extract or lemon juice, but here I like it with just the slight sourness of tomatoes. Adjust seasonings to your taste that's it.

guar phali ki bhujia

A garnish or toasted sesame seeds looks good but it does not enhance the taste.

The taste is in the sesame paste. Try it once and you will be hooked to it. I will post other vegetables cooked with the variations of this paste very soon. A bit of tempering or a bit of garnish, different cuts and different cooking techniques, all of these make difference in your finished curry or bhujia.....

cheers ....

Saturday, October 16, 2010

alu sem tamatar ki bhurji

 Bhurji is a dry stir fry vegetable preparation which is scrambled roughly while cooking so that the vegetables get mushed up together a bit to let the flavors mingle together . A mishmash . It's up to your choice how mashed up you want your vegetables or you want them just lightly bruised to take on the flavors of each other. This one is just like that . Potatoes and broad beans are cooked together on low flame to allow cooking in it's own juices and are lightly thrashed with tomatoes to make a colorful mishmash . Healthy , low fat and no spices at all . Spices are great and i love spicy food but it's not always you want spices to be used in your food , this is for such times. Or when the main course is high on spice and you want a milder side dish.

 ( two servings as a side dish )

Potato 1 no. ( chopped in small cubes )
sem or broad beans chopped in small bits 150 gm
tomatoes chopped in small cubes 2 nos.
small garlic cloves 4-5 nos. chopped
ginger 1/2 inch piece chopped finely
green chillies 1-2 nos. chopped finely
fenugreek seeds 1/2 tsp (can be replaced with cumin seeds if you don't like bitter fenugreek seeds in the subzi)
asafoetida a pinch
turmeric powder 1 tsp
mustard oil 2 tsp


Heat the oil in a kadai ( i use iron kadai ) , add the fenugreel seeds and wait till fragrant and pink ( take care not to burn them ) . Throw in the chopped ginger-garlic and green chillies and immediately add the chopped potatoes and beans .

Add salt and stir fry on low flame , add turmeric powder , mix well and cover to cook for 5 minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes , stir to mix and cover again and cook for a couple of minutes. Open the lid and mash the vegetables lightly ( or completely mash them if you wish ) .

Serve hot with chapatis and any kind of daal or raita . Goes well with daal-chawal meals too . I like it mixed with plain boiled rice very much for a quick meal . The stir fry is wonderfully flavored with just the ginger garlic and a hint of fenugreek .

If you don't like bitter fenugreek seeds coming in your mouth while eating , you can remove the seeds after heating them in the oil. Just heat the oil with fenugreek seeds , put off the flame and remove all the seeds , the flavor is alredy infused into the oil and it will flavor the stir fry wonderfully , keeping the bitter tidbits away . Or if you don't like fenugreek use cumin or nigella seeds instead ....

Also , a small brinjal can be added to this bhurji along with the potatoes and beans , that makes the dish even more mushy and i like it that way if the beans are of the very soft variety .  Some beans are very soft and buttery when cooked but most of the dark green ones can be a bit tough . So with these dark green beans i prefer only tomatoes , the dish is a very traditional chhhaunka ( tempered ) subzi where no spices are used but it's still yummy and can be made hot with chillies if you wish.

Enjoy !!!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

kaccha singhara ... two recipes for fasting food

 Trapa bispinosa is the botanical name and singhara is hindi name for this Indian water chestnut . It is an aquatic plant and bears a fruit which has a tough skin protecting a soft white flesh . The white flesh becomes harder when the fruit is mature. The tender and mature fruits both are tasty in their own right and if cooked differently. Tender fruits can be eaten raw and are very good for snacking , peeling the hard skins and eating the white fleshy nut is a yummy time pass.

 Apologies for a shady picture :) will try and upload a clear picture soon.  These are small singharas , some of them are tender and some mature.

The mature singharas are boiled along with their skins and then peeled and the hardened white flesh has a very nice nutty flavor . This can be used for dressed salads or just as a standalone snack . In some parts of India this boiled singhara is a common street food served with a dry green chutny .

What i did here is just microwave the peeled fruit with salt and pepper . 2 minutes covered for 250 gms of singhara . That's it . It's ready for a snack attack or a meal , whatever way you like them .

Alternatively , they can be stir fried in very little ghee with salt n pepper till lightly pink . They cook very fast if they are tender and may take about 5 minutes if mature. You would like them both ways if you like the flavor and aroma of singhara . They have a nice aroma when cooked .

That lovely aroma is more pronounced if they are cooked into a halwa. Usually the powdered flour of dried singhara nuts is used to make halwa ( recipe some other time ) but i like it made with fresh raw singhara . This was an experiment i did when i was a teenager and everybody in the family loved it . I never made a halwa from singhare ka atta ( singhara flour ) after that . 

I have a few pictures of the halwa cooked last year . Pictures were taken by my cell phone camera , so they are a bit blurry but the recipe is simple.

 Grind the raw peeled singhara in a mixie to make a smooth paste . Tender singhara is more suited for this halwa , though it is good with mature fruits as well.

Heat a tbsp of ghee for each cup of singhara paste , pour in the singhara paste and fry till the paste becomes translucent . 

It may take 2 minutes for a cup of singhara paste. Add 1 tbsp or a bit more sugar ( according to taste ) per cup of paste and stir for a minute . It's done and serve hot with chopped nuts as a garnish . We do not like any cardamom in this halwa as the aroma of raw singhara is so very tempting .

Be it the savory recipe of boiled or microwaved whole singhara .........

Or this aromatic halwa with an amazing nutty flavor ....

You would fall in love with this fruit with two horns ..... hence bispinosa is the second name in latin following the binomial nomenclature .

There is soft nutty flesh inside the hard spiny shell , and it tastes amazing .... all the good things are meant for navaratri it seems....

Monday, October 11, 2010

plantain n potatoes fry | fasting food made easy...

Yes the raw banana or plantain, commonly called as kachha kela can be made into a quick fry like potato finger chips. After the yam chips fit for a nice chai time snack here comes a fry which can be had as meal during fasting with a bowl of fresh curds .

This kind of a meal is an easy one step recipe involving shallow frying . The oil content is low as the shallow fried slices are drained on kitchen tissue .

I used unpeeled new baby potatoes and thinly peeled (using a potato peeler) raw plantain . For one serving you need one plantain and 2-3 baby potatoes .

Slice both the vegetables into 1 cm thin roundels .

Slit one or two green chillies and chop a handful of curry leaves .

Heat oil in a kadai and throw in the slit green chillies and curry leaves first in the oil , quickly followed by potato and plantain slices together.

Shallow fry them in medium low hot oil ( ghee or peanut oil are used during fasting ), till lightly browned . they remain soft inside and lightly crisp on the surface. Add salt ( rock salt for fasting ) to taste . Sprinkle turmeric water a few times while shallow frying the slices for a nice yellow color.

The slices need to turned and stirred continuously as while shallow frying they may get burnt on one side and stay raw on the other.

With a bowl of fresh curds , it is a nice meal , ready within 10 minutes starting from slicing the vegetables. This not a fattening meal as both the vegetables are complex carbohydrates and they are cooked along with their skins . Fat content is low and curry patta and green chillies make it even more healthy. I do not discard the curry patta and the green chillies visible in the picture as they taste great with the slices.

This fry can be a great side dish for any meal , not just for fasting.....

peppery yam chips...... fasting food

Yam is one of the root vegetables that can be eaten during fasting ... elephant yam and taro roots are very easily available in all North Indian markets , and this time of the year they are displayed on the stalls attractively along with plantains and sweet potatoes which are included in the fasting food list too.

I am talking about the zamikand ( meaning underground stem literally ) or the elephant yam . Taro roots or the arbi as it is called in hindi can be processed the same way to make chips.

The elephant yam is quite easy to cut into chips if you have a nice sturdy knife and some muscle. Just peel the brown skin and wash the block of yam you are using . Cut in one inch thick slices , again cut the slices lengthwise into 1 inch wide long batons . Now place 2-4 batons together on the chopping board and make as thin slices as you can . I did not click any pictures of the slicing process but you can use a slicer or food processor for your convenience and get nice slices of the yam.

Similar chips can be sliced from the taro roots after peeling them , they will result in round or oblong slices depending on the angle you choose for slicing them....

So , the square slices of elephant yam or the round slices of taro roots are thrown into hot oil to fry .

Start with a high flame and then fry the slices on medium flame so that they become dehydrated and cooked while frying . After about 7-8 minutes on medium flame ( if using 150 g of slices for one batch of frying ) the chips become pinkish brown and you can feel the crispiness .

Drain on kitchen paper and serve sprinkled with salt ( rock salt for fasting ) and pepper . Red chilly powder and amchoor powder can also be sprinkled if you like.

These chips do not absorb much oil and when drained on kitchen tissue they are not at all oily . Great for a masala chai during navaratri fasting or even during the other days....

Raw plantain chips can be made the similar way , i make them very often but i cannot upload any pictures right now ( I have to purchase space for that and the process in underway ) and these posts are coming from the drafts.

For raw plantains too you have to peel the green skin of the plantain ( which can be made into a yummy chutney ) slice them thinly and fry them directly into hot oil . A sprinkle of turmeric and asafoetida water ( 1 tsp of turmeric powder and a pinch of asafoetida dissolved in 50 ml water ) a few times into the hot oil while frying the plantain chips results in nice yellow hing flavored chips.

They are great sides for a daal chawal meal served instead of papad . Recently my younger brother loved the plantain peel chutney and plantain chips with a daal-chawal-subzi-raita lunch's so fulfilling to see someone devouring into the food you cook with love.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

sago banana and cream | breakfast 'cereal' or a hearty dessert meal for vrat ka khana

Sago is a wonderful pearl when it comes to desserts and Navratri is the time when we all look forward for sugary sago treats. Saboodana vada and saboodana khichdi are my favorite too but I love the sago deserts more. Actually I can't decide whether I love saboodana kheer and other desserts more or saboodana vada and khichdi more. Sago pearls have a very nice texture when cooked rightly and that I love for sure. Cook sago wrongly and you kill it.

Many of us make the saboodana  kheer and sago falooda with nuts and fruits, here I am introducing a different recipe of sago which was a revelation for me some 8 years ago. I had cooked the saboodana khichdi (I have not posted it as yet but you can find it on many blogs) and a Bengali friend had liked the khichdi very much. I was astonished when he said that sago can be eaten raw as well. I had never heard of this and wanted to try that, and I did. Tried the recipe he was talking about the very next day.

And then another friend made a rich sago dessert for us, made with soaked but uncooked sago pearls. I just loved it, as it was fuss free and the flavors and different textures in this dessert were just amazing . Just to assemble a few things and a hearty dessert meal was ready for our navaratri fasting. Both of us used to fast all 9 days of navratri and have a good time eating many fasting foods. We used to entertain many friends who enjoyed fasting food in those days. Past couple of years have been no fasting, and no feasting in the navaratri days. Still I like to cook something which reminds me of those days....

Seeing the number of hits my 'vrat ka khana ' posts are getting during these days, I thought of posting this hearty dessert meal for navaratri fasting. Writing this I am reminded of so many things I used to make during this time of the year. This is one of the few unusual things which many of you will find very convenient to rustle up. A very nice breakfast dish because it is full of carbohydrates and fat of course. All good things in fact, gluten free, fuss free. A large bowl of this will keep you full till late in the afternoon if you had it for the breakfast..

First of all you need to soak the sago pearls in just enough water to skim through the surface in a wide bowl. 3-4 hours of soaking is good enough for the larger variety of sago pearls. You can test for the readiness of the sago pearls actually by pressing one sago pearl between your thumb and index finger. The sago pearl should get flattened and yet should not disintegrate... as it looks like see two sago pearls flattened in the left side...

If the sago is not ready you can add a little more water or milk (if the sago looks dry) and keep for another couple of hours. Best is to soak overnight in the fridge and use in the morning. Soaked sago keeps well in the fridge for a week. It is very convenient that way during this season as you will be able to make saboodana khichdi and vadas or for kheer and falooda with the same soaked sago. Soaking is similar for all of  these recipes.

For a cup of soaked sago, add 1/2 cup of fresh cream (Iuse malai) 1 cup of full cream milk and sugar or honey to taste. Add any nuts of your choice (cashew, raisins and almonds are the best for this) and a chopped banana .

Yummy.... The sago pearls have a great texture against the soft bananas and the crunchy nuts. Raisins taste very good in this, I did not use them as I did not have them at this point. Dried apricots and prunes will be great too. Just think of different textures and different flavors going into it. Add some Jam or a fruit preserve and see how beautiful it gets. Fasting is not about boring food, it's about your imagination including all the falahari (non cereal and non legume) ingredients to the optimum taste balance and nutritional requirements...

Happy fasting ....... I will be back with another 'vrat ka khana' very soon....stay tuned...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

everyday subzi: guar dhokli ki subzi | cluster beans curry with besan dumplings

There are a few unusual beans which my dad has actually conditioned all of us siblings to like. Guar  or cluster beans and bakla or fava beans are the ones which nobody seems to like but I do buy them whenever I get to see them in the market.

Guar is also known as guwar and this guar dhokli ki subzi is one of my favourite now.

guar dhokli ki subzi

Although  cook with these beans frequently, I have not posted any recipes apart from this one with bakla. We get good quality guar fali easily here in Delhi and I make many variations cooked with curds, with sesame, with garlic and green chillies etc. Still I keep looking for new recipes as Arvind does not like this vegetable much (only the sesame version he used to like earlier).

I asked for a gujrati style recipe from a fellow blogger Parita and she had posted this recipe of guar dhokri last year (I was pestering her so much). It's actually an easy and delicious recipe, made without any garlic and onion. The use of dhoklis, the chick pea dumplings in this curry makes it a keeper recipe. I made a few changes in the recipe to suit our taste, added ginger and tomato puree and the result was very very good, all the guar curries I used to make earlier were dryish in consistency, this one being a gravy curry was great with rice and chapati both.

guar dhokli ki subzi

for the curry..
guar beans stringed and chopped in 2 cm pieces 250 gm
asafoetida or hing 2 pinches 
cumin seeds 1 tsp
finely chopped ginger 1 tbsp
finely chopped green chillies 1 tsp
red chilly powder 1/2 tsp
coriander powder 1 tsp
cumin powder 1 tsp
black pepper powder 1 tsp
turmeric powder 1/2 tsp
tomato puree 2 tbsp
salt to taste
green coriander chopped 1 tbsp for garnishing (i did not use this)
mustard oil 1.5 tbsp

for the dhokli...
besan or chick pea flour 1 cup
cumin , black pepper , and coriander powders 1 tsp each 
red chilly and turmeric powder 1/2 tsp each
soda bi carb 1/4 tsp
salt to taste
1 tbsp oil

guar dhokli ki subzi

Prepare the dhoklis first (I made them while stir frying the guar but if you cannot handle both the things together it is advisable to make the dhoklis ahead.

Mix all the ingredients for dhokli and add a little water to make a stiff dough, roll the dough with oiled hands into a sausage like roll and cut thin roundels with a knife.

guar dhokli ki subzi

These slices of dough can be shaped into round discs and kept aside, or this step can be done while working on the kadai.

Heat mustard oil in a kadai and throw in the crushed asafoetida (I use the crystallized resin form) or the powder. Add the cumin seeds and wait till they crackle, throw in the chopped green chillies and chopped ginger and wait for a couple of seconds..

Now put in all the chopped guar beans and stir fry on medium flame till they look a bit translucent..

Add all the powder spices and salt to taste and stir fry till the spices turn aromatic....takes about 4-5 minutes on low flame . If using more oil for cooking , this step can be done at high flame and takes about 2 minutes.

Add the tomato puree and keep stirring for a minute or two.

Add enough water (I added about 500 ml) and the prepared dhoklis. Let it boil vigorously, the dumplings fluff up immediately as they have soda bi carb in it. I added 2 crushed dhoklis as suggested by Parita to thicken the gravy.

Boil to reduce the gravy and garnish with chopped green coriander if using...

guar dhokli ki subzi

This guar dhokli ki subzi was great with rice as well as chapatis. The steps of the recipe look a little cumbersome but it's really easy as there is no onion garlic to peel and chop and there is no paste to be made.

Dhoklis (or gatte) can take some time but if you do it simultaneously it's really a quick recipe. The dhokli was a new addition for me, I make gatte ki subzi and thought it must be like gatte having the same ingredients, but it tastes different when it is cooked differently.

Dhoklis complemented very well with the guar and this gravy. Do try this recipe if you don't like guar and want to include it in your daily meals.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

tamatar ki chaat | the famous tamatari chaat of Banaras and some pictures from dilli haat..

I know I know many of you are waiting for the tamatar ki chaat as I promised. A stupid dengue (the simple kind thankfully) was keeping me from making this wonderful chaat. After a week of khichri, soup and sandwich kinda food I am back to my pleasures of cooking.

Red luscious tomatoes were waiting to be pulped, mashed and thrashed into a flavorful chaat which reminds me of my just married days. Yes it was during our dating days and after the wedding that Arvind introduced me to the varied chaats of Banaras otherwise I would have been deprived of this heaven.

On one of the occasions when we ate this tamatar ki chaat at the Sankat mochan mod (the turn towards sankat mochan mandir in banaras) I watched the chaat wala pulping the tomatoes and mixing ingredients to make a yummy dona (a serving dish made out of leaves) of this tamatari (it's also called tamatari or just tamatar), came back home and made an exact version of home made tamatari. This time I guess I made it after years, although I have been planning to make it for a long time. Not only because I had a few people requesting for it, also because whenever I ate this tamatari in the past couple of years in banaras, I found to my utter disgust that it has transformed a lot, read deteriorated.

It has got commercialized I guess. Yes, believe me the tamatar ki chaat in those days (12 years ago) was much simpler and more tasteful. The thelawala would mash a couple of already roasting tikkis with a couple of tomatoes on the giant tawa, mix some chutneys, sprinkle some tidbits and serve you the most simple looking yet uniquely flavored chaat, with a rich flavor of tomatoes, you would inevitably end up asking for one more helping.

Whenever I find this chaat here in Delhi, being showcased in those street food festivals, the tamatar ki chaat is displayed separately on a smaller tawa, giving an impression like pav bhaji, a separate pot of gravy waiting to be ladled into the tomato pulp, some dalda (hydrogenated vegetable fat) is ladled into the mix to make it tastier as they claim (I actually asked them), resulting into a thick layer of 'ghee' floating over the chaat and to top it all, now a days it is served in plastic or styrofoam bowls. Enough reasons for me to feel disgusted ...

The Dilli Haat experience of this tamatar chaat was better this time, taste wise (we could ignore the fat layer of dalda floating )...see how it is labeled as tamatar...

The pulped up tomatoes and other ingredients (they had some peas too) are cooking on the tawa and the gravy as they call it (made with khoya, dry fruits and spices  with a thick layer of dalda as you can see...

 And here is the plate of tamatari for us to dig into...

 On the display (as you see here) it looks like the bhaji of the pav bhaji combo, as it is a mashed chaat and is cooked on a tawa. But the similarity ends here as this a completely different flavor, rich tomato, some dry fruits and some khoya and and lot more subtle flavours.

And it is a standalone chaat, no bread or pav or papdi is added, just some miniature namak paare, we like some finely chopped onions and you are set. This is my home made plate of tamatar ki chaat...

I had to make the miniature namak paare first, store bought namak paare can be used but I did not have any and as I did not have any maida too, I made them with whole wheat flour.

3 tbsp of whole wheat flour 2 tsp of lemon juice , 1 tsp of oil and salt to taste  ...
a stiff dough was made using a little water , rolled out on the chakla ( rolling board ) cut in miniature squares and deep fried on medium heat ....

other ingredients to start with...
( serves two hungry souls )
potatoes medium sized 2 nos. ( boiled and peeled )
fully ripe large juicy tomatoes 4 nos.( the best quality you can lay your hands on )
cashew chopped 2 tbsp
raisins 20 nos.
makhane( lotus seeds ) 10-12 nos.
green chillies finely chopped 1 tbsp
ginger finely chopped 1.5 tbsp
red chilly powder 1 tsp
black pepper powder 1 tsp
garam masala powder 1 tsp ( i used my homemade one which is a mix of black n green cardamom , cinnamon, kababchini , shahjeera , cloves , star anise and nutmeg )
milk powder 2 tbsp ( use khoya if available , same quantity )
ghee 2 tbsp ( i used less , you can feel free to be like the chaat walas )
Imli ki sonth wali chutny 2 tbsp ( if you don't have this chutny , use a tbsp of thick tamarind pulp , 1/2 tsp of dry ginger powder and 2 tsp of sugar at the indicated time )
lemon juice 2 tsp
finely chopped onions for garnish ( optional )
finely chopped green coriander leaves ( i did not have and am not using them raw in this season either)


I used an iron kadai for that taste of chaatwalas (otherwise too I prefer cooking in iron or cast iron kadais)..

Chop the tomatoes in small cubes and keep aside.

Mix the milk powder , garam masala powder and red chilly powder with a tbsp or two of water to make a pasteand keep aside. This step is not required if using khoya.

Mash the potatoes, add salt to taste and 1 tsp of black pepper powder, 1/2 tsp of green chillies and 1/2 tsp of chopped ginger. Mix well and shape a large tikki with the mash. Keep aside.

Heat a tbsp of ghee in the kadai and throw in 1/2 tbsp of green chillies, 1 tbsp of chopped ginger and the dry fruits, fry for a minute ....and then add the milk powder mix to the frying mixture... If using khoya, add the khoya, garam masala n red chilly powder now...

Fry till the mixture changes color and is almost dry , add 1/2 cup of water and boil to get a brownish gravy...reserve the gravy into a bowl....

Now in the same kadai , add another tbsp of ghee and place the largish potao tikki to let it brown on one side, flip when browned .... this step I have incorporated because i saw the chaat wala make it this way when I first ate it . And the browning of the alu tikki this way ensures a very unique earthy, smoky chaat flavor to the tamatari....

Now cover the frying tikki with chopped tomatoes and cover to cook for a while, slide the flat ladle under the tikki beneath and flip so that the tikki comes on top and the tomatoes are getting roasted in direct contact with the iron kadai... the potato tikki is nicely browned on both sides and you will get it's flavor in the finished chaat....

Mix and smash the tikki now and fry the mixture thrashing the tomatoes to make a smooth yet textured chaat ....Takes about 2-3 minutes ..

Now is the time to add the gravy , and the imli ki chutny (or use the substitutes instead) and lemon juice (optional)... mix it again and fry for another minute mixing it like a pro....this is the time you will start getting that tamatar ki chaat aroma........

Empty the contents into a steel dish (for that desi feel) , garnish with the miniature namak paare, green coriander if using and as we like it here , some chopped onions .........

As I told you the chaat will be a different flavor from any of the chaats you have ever tried, the nuts stand out, the raisins are just too good when they come in a mouthful. It is a hot-sweet-sour and savory chaat where a rich taste of tomatoes is accentuated by tamarind chutny with a very mild hint of khoya (if you know it's added , otherwise it just adds richness) We added some more of those namak paare while eating and got transported to the good old days.........

Last but not the least, a picture of the folk dancers performing at the Dilli Haat entrace ...

Enjoy the chaat and the Dilli haat as we saw it.....

I did not click any more pictures as we had decided to visit the haat just to try out the new metro line on that route ... ooh it's so convenient now to get there and I loved the underground exit leading towards the INA market. They have displayed beautiful traditional textile crafts of different states.. worth watching .....