Wednesday, December 8, 2010

desi banana pancake with toffee banana topping ..... and toffee banana for a dessert

Every country has it's own pancake and every home has it's own version . Not only one ,  different versions for different seasons , for many healthy - yummy reasons . Overripe bananas in the fruit basket is one great reason to mash them up for a quick pancake ( if not a bread or a cake ) .

Meetha cheela is a common desi pancake often served with malai ( clotted cream ) , honey , fruity chutneys or with just a tall glass of hot milk . I make it with jaggery or white sugar but when it is made with bananas , it is a special flavor for the sweet tooth guy . This pancake has bananas in two ways ... read on...

( 4 pancakes )
whole wheat flour 2 cups
milk 2 cups approximately
sugar 1 tbsp or more if you want it sweeter
mashed banana 1 no. ( large n overripe )
firm ripe banana 1 no. ( sliced diagonally )
Ghee 1 tbsp per pancake
butter 1 tbsp
sugar 1.5 tbsp for caramel


Mix the mashed banana , whole wheat flour and milk with sugar to taste and make a thick batter of flowing consistency .

Heat 1/2 tbsp ghee in a griddle ( i use an iron one ) , spread the ghee evenly and pour a ladleful of batter and spread to make a thick pancake ..... flip when brown on one side and apply ghee on the other side too....make similar pancakes with the remaining batter .

For the toffee banana topping , heat the butter on the same griddle or a different pan if you must , add the sugar to the melting butter and let it melt and get browned . Arrange the sliced bananas over the melting sugar and let it get coated with the caramelized sugar .

Pour over the pancakes and serve immediately......... and be ready for huge complements coming your way...

Take a bite yourself and you would know...

 But ...this is not a pancake for you if you hate bananas . Going by the belief that most of the kids and adults like bananas , this is a great weekend breakfast . Still not for me .... cuz i like these pancake in a very small portion and my breakfast has to be a hearty filling something savory kind get that...all the uttapams and poodas , poha etc. are for me....

Those toffee bananas are a favorite dessert of mine with some whipped fresh cream ....or a scoop of plain vanilla ice cream............

Just melt some butter and sugar together and let it caramelize ... dunk in the sliced bananas and let them coat ........ pour the bananas in individual serving bowls or shot glasses while still hot and top with vanilla ice cream.......... let the cold ice cream melt over the hot toffee bananas and scoop in........

Pure bliss it is........ don't think about the calories for once and dig in........let the ice cream melt a bit and it's a selfish indulgence after this ........

I have not seen a person who didn't love it.....cheers !!!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

tamatar ki mithi chutney | condiments for banaras ka khana

There are a few foods you relate to your childhood. While growing up Tamatar ki mithi chutney was a winter delicacy as the tomatoes available in the winters were the juiciest kind packed with sweet and tart flavors. The desi (heirloom) tomatoes are the kind that are easily squished into your palms when pressed, not like the hard shell plastic like tomatoes (Roma and the likes) bred for longer shelf life available in the supermarkets these days.

Tamatar ki mithi chutney was made in bulk and was stored either in a ceramic barni or a specific bowl called as pathri in my family. Pathri is actually a bowl made of yellow sandstone of Jaisalmer, the below picture features tamatar ki mithi chutney in the same pathri I got from Jaisalmer last year.

tamatar ki mithi chutney

These pathris were generally used for setting cultured yogurt or storing chutneys and condiments, each family used to have several sizes of these pathris and these were always bought from Banjara women who used to come home for selling their wares brought from Rajasthan.

This tamatar ki chutney is the UP specialty, its counterpart in Bengal is a much thick jam like version with either dates or aam papad added to it. There is another tamatar ki chutney which is made for large family gatherings at my home which includes dried dates, makhanas and some nuts and melon seeds etc, but this one is a simple saucy chutney mostly served with paratha meals in winters.

Some people love this chutney with everyday dal chawal meals, some with khichdi and some use it to replace tomato ketchup too. But this tamatar ki mithi chutney is an essential condiment for an elaborate meal served thali style or even buffet style.

tomatoes 1 kg
whole dry red chilies 4-6as per taste
mustard seeds 1/4 tsp
fennel seeds 1 tsp
fenugreek seeds 1/2 tsp
nigella seeds 1/4 tsp
finely chopped ginger 1 tbsp or more
jaggery 300 gm
salt  1/42 tsp
mustard oil 2 tsp


Chop the tomatoes roughly in small chunks, no need to fine chop. Break the whole dry red chilies in two three pieces and keep aside.

Heat the oil and throw in all the seeds and the broken red chilies, wait till they get aromatic and turn brownish (take care not to burn them) add the chopped ginger, wait till they sweat and add the chopped tomatoes at once.

Add water (about 500-600 ml) and salt and cook covered for 8-10 minutes. The tomatoes should get mushy.

Add the crushed jaggery and cook to make a syrupy saucy chutney, the color will darken a bit making the chutney a bright red saucy deliciousness. 

tamatar ki mithi chutney

Dip your fingers in it and lick it, slurp it or dunk your parathas into it. Yummy is the word. The natural glutamates in tomatoes make this chutney so delicious it is a keeper.

Spread it on your bread to make sandwich or have it as a dessert for a change, tell me if you like it.

The chutney has amazing flavors. The heat of red chilies mingles very sharply with the deep earthy sweetness of jaggery while fennel, fenugreek and ginger are the main spicy flavors, the other things are kept subtle in my version. Accentuated fenugreek is great too if you like the methi flavor, add more fenugreek seeds if you wish.

Salt in this chutney is there just to balance the sweetness, this tamatar ki mithi chutney is a mouth watering delicacy and if you love tomatoes and chutneys and have a sweet tooth too  this is for you.

Most people I know from Banaras love it with alu parathas along with plain dahi or white butter. Do try that combination sometimes.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Indian flat breads : aloo kulcha, sourdough or yeast flat bread stuffed with potatoes

Aloo kulcha or alu kulcha, a baked flatbread stuffed with potatoes that can become a favourite if made well. The recipe is easy to follow and that makes it even better.

This is the third post in the Indian flat breads series. There will be more flat breads in the future but these three were prepared in the last two weeks or so and are being posted in one go. This aloo kulcha is the most favorite kind of flat bread here, along with the paneer kulcha. Needless to say this is the most repeated type of kulcha here in my home .

alu kulcha recipe

The dough ingredients and procedure is same as the whole wheat kulcha. The stuffing is made with boiled potatoes, finely diced onions, chopped green chillies to taste, chopped green coriander leaves (or methi leaves sometimes) and salt n pepper to taste.

alu kulcha recipe

Stuff the potato mixture into the dough balls, it's better if you can fill large amount of stuffing into the kulcha as it comes out more flavorful. The amount of stuffing should be a bit more than the size of the dough ball. It's not difficult if you take care that the stuffing consistency is similar to the dough consistency, it is stuffed with ease and then it is flattened with ease too ... with the help of your wet fingers of course.

Bits of stuffing peeping through the dough layer looks good and tastes good too. Spread the flattened kulcha on the hot griddle in one quick motion .

alu kulcha recipe

And wait till one side is browned and the kulcha comes out of the griddle easily. It can be baked over naked flame like the plain kulcha but if it is too heavy due to the stuffing it falls down in the process. So using a wire mesh is convenient....

alu kulcha recipe

Repeat with the kulchas asI know you would want to make many of them.

alu kulcha recipe

This particular kulcha is great even when cold and may be a great tiffin box option with suitable side dishes. I make empanadas (baked in the oven) with the same dough and stuffing and that is great for kids tiffin box, easy to hold and eat while talking to friends.

alu kulcha recipe

I served it with methi matar malai, a creamy curry with fenugreek leaves and fresh peas. The husband loves to dip the aloo kulchas in fresh creamy curds of fresh malai and he wants a bowl of malai (preferably) of dahi along with it.

alu kulcha recipe

See how the kulcha is crisp on the outside and soft and spongy inside...

alu kulcha recipe

I like big chunks of potatoes and not too fine onion , you can keep the potatoes finely mashed or whatever way you like. The recipe just needs to illustrate the process of baking these kulchas over gas flame basically .... the stuffing can be varied and adjusted to taste .. 

These tips and tricks to make great kulcha or naan will be handy whenever you start to make these alu kulchas. Do let me know if you try this recipe.


indian flatbreads : whole wheat kulcha recipe, the way they make it on the streets of old Delhi

Kulcha is a yeasted flat bread and is commercially available in the northern India, especially in Delhi. The traditional kulcha dough is fermented with sourdough starter or the dough is left to ferment naturally and then flat breads are made in tandoor. But now a days the commercially available variety is baked in modern commercial ovens, made with yeasted dough they are soft spongy and spotless white sprinkled with some herbs sometimes.

Delhi street vendors sell chhole kulche on a typical street cart carrying a wide brass handi (urn) for the piping hot chhole. They use the ready made kulche out of packets,  just toasting the kulcha quickly on a hot griddle with some butter and serving with hot chhole. I have tasted that chhole kulchea few times and it is the best kind of street food you can find in Delhi.

Here comes the same bazar wala kulcha made with whole wheat flour ... I have tried baking this kulcha over the griddle, in the oven and in the microwave in the past and this version which involves cooking the kulcha first in the microwave and then toasting on the griddle works best to make it just like the ready made ones. They look and feel just like the ready made  kulche (when made with maida) when they are just out of the microwave, white and spotless. After microwaving they can be kept in the fridge and toasted when required. I have been getting requests from many of my friends for this bazaer wale kulche, so friends... the wait is over.

Here they are, toasted on the griddle for those brown spots....

whole wheat kulcha recipe

Before moving to the recipe i must make it clear that it is somewhat similar to the pita bread and the pizza base available ready made in the markets, but this kulcha is thinner and softer and can be folded without breaking, as is shown in the pictures. The best part is, it can be made with the same yeasted dough. Just keep the dough a bit softer and you will see how the texture of the bread changes.


whole wheat flour 2 cups
all purpose flour (maida) 2 tbsp
salt to taste
any oil of your choice 1 tsp
mint or coriander leaves to garnish the breads
vegetable oil for greasing
fresh yeast 1 tsp (or dry active yeast 1/4 tsp, or sourdough starter)
sugar 1 tsp

whole wheat kulcha recipe

Heat a cup of water to 40 degree C or just warm to touch. Dissolve sugar into it and add the fresh or dry yeast to it. Keep this water in a warm place and wait till it gets frothy.

Add the maida and salt, it usually gets more frothy while adding the maida and becomes like a slurry. Whisk this slurry for a couple of minutes (it helps the dough to get a stretch). Add the remaining wheat flour and knead a soft dough adding some lukewarm water as needed.

Keep the dough in a warm place to rise and become double in quantity. At this stage the dough can be kept in the fridge too for a couple of days and then proceed with the rest of the process...bring it to room temperature and them keep it warm to proceed.

Punch the dough and make small balls, keep the balls greased and covered ....wait till they rise to double. Flatten the dough balls on a greased rolling board using your oiled fingers, brush plain water on the surface and stick some mint or coriander leaves. 

whole wheat kulcha recipe

In the picture you can see the spotless microwave cooked  kulcha on the left side in the ceramic plate, on the right side you can see how i pressed the dough with hands to flatten it on the rolling board (chakla) and then coriander leaves are stuck to it.

As I said the dough for this flat bread needs to be a bit soft, so it is a bit tacky to roll using a rolling pin sometimes, using your fingers to flatten it is far more convenient.

I prefer keeping a hot griddle ready when the kulcha comes out of the microwave, toast the kulcha with some butter and it gets lightly browned in just a few seconds..

whole wheat kulcha recipe

I served the kulcha with cheat's version of matar paneer, as I didn't want to have chhole with these whole wheat kulche. Matar paneer or any mutton curry is a great accompaniment to these whole wheat kulchas.

indian flatbreads : recipe of whole wheat naan, tips and trick to make naan at home

There are many types of Indian flat breads and the most common is our daily roti or chapati .The roti can get thinner to make roomali roti and a bit thick and fluffy or flaky to become a rot or moti roti of several types.

The leavened breads are kulcha or naan. Naan and kulcha can have many variants further. Parathas are shallow fried flat breads made in a zillion avatars, plain, spiced, stuffed or layered. Parathas can be folded or rolled to make a hundred something layers or stuffed with sweet or savory goodness.

Oh and then there are the fried pooris .... are you till counting ??

whole wheat naan baked on griddle

Forget it. Just think about what suits with your curry the most and get going. I had a few requests for whole wheat naan and kulcha recipes and I was procrastinating as usual. The credit goes to GB who writes a wonderful blog Peacocks and Paislies, she requested for naans and kulchas while complementing my blog hugely. See what complements can do to me :-)

So I made naans and kulchas and there will be a series of posts on these flat breads. In this post I am including two versions of naan, one is baked on a gas stove and the other is baked in an oven, both of them using the same whole wheat dough.

whole wheat naan baked on griddle whole wheat naan baked in oven

The ingredients ...

whole wheat flour 1.5 cup
all purpose flour 1 cup
egg 1 no.
fresh curds 3/4 cup
baking powder 1 tsp
baking soda 1/2 tsp
salt to taste

Procedure for the dough...

Mix the flours and the baking powder, baking soda and salt, make a well in the center and break the egg into it. Add the curds too and mix the liquids first and then incorporate the flour into it adding a little water to make a soft pliable dough. Keep the dough aside for an hour or so. In the fridge it keeps for a day.

Procedure to bake the naan on gas stove ...

Heat a tawa or griddle. Keep a shallow bowl of water nearby.

Make small balls of the dough depending on the size of naan you want. Flatten the balls either by tapping your palms or on the rolling board. A round, oval or a typical drop shaped naan can be made as required. To make it drop shaped you have to pinch one side with your thumb and index finger and pull to stretch, though it is optional.

Dip the flattened naan in the bowl of water and spread on the griddle in one quick motion. If you are patting the naan flat using your palms, you will need to wet your palms to flatten them smoothly and then the naan will be already wet and needs not be dipped into the bowl of water.

whole wheat naan being baked on griddle

A wet naan will stick to the griddle until it is cooked properly even if you invert the griddle, which you are going to do just after this. Wait till small bubbles appear on the surface, patting or rolling the other naans at the same time, if you are used to making chapatis it's not at all difficult. 2-3 naans can be baked on the tawa at a time and this makes it so easy for the cook, especially when you have to bake too many naans. Now is the time to invert the tawa over the gas flame to cook the naan on the other side and to get those spots...

whole wheat naan being baked on griddle

Keep the flame under control as you don't want charred naans. The naans will get unstuck as soon as they are cooked through, use a pair of tongs to remove them. Butter them lightly immediately by rubbing a cold cube of butter over them, or you may want to serve it with a blob of butter melting enticingly.

Serve right away as the crisp exterior and soft flaky interiors of the naan are best when hot, once it cools down it becomes soft, still good but everybody likes a hot naan and you know that.

whole wheat naan baked on griddle

We had this naan with chicken n chickpea curry, that is, our chicken chhole with some spinach thrown in, a healthy meal. Most of the people love the naan with a butter gravy but it's a rarity at our place ...

chicken and chickpeas curry with naan

I personally like this tawa baked naan, you may like it baked in the oven so I made that way too....

baking the whole wheat naan in the oven...

Flatten the same dough and arrange on a greased baking tray. I spread finely chopped garlic and little butter on top of the naans to make garlic naan. Garlic paste or chopped garlic can be added to the dough if you like it that way.

whole wheat naan baked in oven

Bake till pinkish brown, insert a knife under the naan to see if the naan is cooked through. It should get unstuck promptly and should be lighter in weight. You may want to butter them again before serving....

whole wheat naan baked in oven

As I mentioned, I personally like the tawa baked naan as it seems easier for me to make (or for anybody who make chapatis everyday) plus this one stays soft and flaky even when it has cooled. The oven baked whole wheat or even maida naan gets a bit chewy so consume those right away.

Tips and tricks to make great whole wheat naan at home...
  1.  Knead the dough really well by stretching and folding it several times till it gets elastic. It imparts flakiness in naans.
  2. Keep the dough soft and sticky if you can manage. It gives a nice crust and the crumb remains soft and flaky that way.
  3. It is best to make the dough balls in advance and keep them covered with a wet cotton napkin. Pat it with hands or roll with soft pressure. This allows the naan to become more fluffy.
  4. Wet the naans before patting them on the griddle. It helps to achieve a great crust and the naan sticks to the griddle giving you a chance to invert the griddle and flame it for a while. This gives you results closer to an actual tandoor.
  5. Serve the naans immediately after being baked, topped with butter. If you need to keep them for a while you can butter them and stack them over a cotton napkin. It helps the naans stay warm till served and soft too. Once buttered the naans can be reheated on flame if required.

Now a quick recipe of chicken wale chhole....

Chicken (boneless breast pieces  are used for this. A large piece including the backbone and ribs is boiled along with the soaked chickpeas so that all the chicken flavor comes into the gravy.

Then a bhuna masala paste is fried along with the boneless chicken pieces on low heat, till the chicken gets cooked. The boiled chickpeas are added and given a good boil. I added baby spinach and coriander leaves in the end and served hot with these hot naans.

chicken and chickpeas curry with whole wheat naan

One thing to take care while making the naans with whole wheat flour, it will not be as soft and flaky as the white flour ones but it's perfectly good otherwise. They are soft with a nice bite (and not chewy as the maida ones get as soon as they get colder even while eating) and the flaky character of naan is retained to a lesser extent.

This recipe of naan is mostly followed by the restaurants because it is quick and doesn't need yeast or sourdough. But in homes it was made with sourdough always. If you want to bake sourdough whole wheat naans and kulchas you can follow the sourdough recipes here.

Hope this post helps you bake whole wheat naans easily at home. Do write to me for queries and feedback. I always appreciate hearing back from you.