Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Mint, Raw mango and onion....a cooling versatile chutney for hot summers...


This mint chutney is a daily fix of freshness for many families till the summers last. A couple of raw mangoes are consumed everyday either in the form of Aam Panna or this chutney to keep the heat at bay.

How wonderful it is that nature gives us something special for every season and some of those can even be used for treating some seasonal ailments as well. Like this combination of green chillies, onions and raw mangoes can treat heat strokes. The cooked mango with mint and some salts that makes the popular drink Aam panna is also a cure and prevention for heatstroke.

It is a pleasure to have yummy food or condiments that can be therapeutic in it's effect and versatile in it's use. This Aam-pudina-pyaz ki chutney is one such condiment you would love to have daily.

ingredients....

Raw Mango peeled and cubed 1/2 cup (discard the stone)
Mint leaves washed and pat dried 1.5 cup
Red Onion diced 1/2 cup
Green Chillies 2-4 or to taste
salt to taste


procedure....

Mix everything up and blend in your food processor of chutney jar of your mixie.

Serve fresh. Keeps well for a day if refrigerated.

Goes well with all Indian meals as a condiment.

Can be used for making chutney sandwiches and as a pita bread stuffing sauce.

Many families like this chutney with a stuffed Aloo ka paratha or Pyaz ka paratha along with a bowl of yogurt for breakfast.

Mixed with yogurt and some Boondi it makes a nice raita too. Equally cooling in it's effect and a variation to a normal green chutney.


This chutney pairs very well with Sattu ka paratha which is a frequent breakfast dish for many families in Eastern UP and Bihar.

For maximum health benefits I would advice this chutney to be consumed in good quantity. Half cup or more per serving is great and it will be possible if you make this chutney with lesser green chillies than you use normally. That way the chutney becomes more like a raw curry than just a condiment.

Mix this chutney in boiled red lentil soup for a quick and refreshing dinner. Great for the days when you need a break from heavy eating.

Great for detox purpose. If not consumed with too much wheat products in the same meal.

Summers look more bearable with this ...it is still 40C plus in Delhi and we are depending on such food and condiments...Mangoes big time :-)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

South Indian food festival at Blooms, managed by Hilton...hurry it's till Sunday only...



You enter to a pleasant whiff of southern spices, and a few people walking around in traditional southern attire. Then you realise they are the servers. Yes, I was not expecting the servers wearing this attire :-)

Most of the decor is conducive to evoke hunger and the live counters make it all exciting...the food from the live counters was all awesome. Wait till I introduce that to you.

Sid Kullar, Rekha kakkar, Charis, Sushmita Sarkar, Ruchira Philip, Prateek Rungta and Sumit were all a part of this Delhi bloggers meet up at Blooms this month. Did I tell you we enjoy getting together with great food on the platter?

You are welcomed by a glass of Mor. The spiced buttermilk... Refreshing for the summer months and preparing you for the treat ahead. No other drinks are required when this is served. 

And it was awesome. Highly recommended, ask for repeated servings. For us, the taste kept getting better serving after serving. I must have had at least 4 glasses or Mor.


Starters are fried Vadams, Murukkus, Banana chips and the works. I liked a thickly sliced Banana fried and coated with jaggery, almost like shakkarparey. Not in the picture, hidden by the Poppadams.


Then came the batter fried assorted vegetables accompanied with a chutney ...this was from the Live counters.


And fish , batter fried prawns and chicken, marinated Black Pomfret and a leaf wrapped fish . All these were really good. A must try. As spicy, as soft or crunchy each of these should be...keep hovering around the Live counter I say ;-)

Don't miss them...

See how they look on the counter...


And how they look at your table...


Some more assorted fish and prawns on the starter platter....from the Live counter...


 Kottu paratha was explained by the Chef. It is a dish made by leftover Malabar parathas crumbled and mixed with mutton curry, eggs and seasonings. It is scrambled on the griddle with a lot of drama and noise. The taste is good. Although I was apprehensive. I would like to have it more often, may be I'll do it at home with my leftovers some time...


 Another delight from the live counters was this Egg sunny side Appam. There were vegetables and chicken stews to go with it, here you see the husband's plate with chicken stew. He liked it.

I tried the vegetable stew, it was great. The appam could have been better. There was Idiappam also, but I was not in a mood to stuff myself up. It looked quite good.


 I would strongly recommend the Aleppy Prawn curry and Thattaipayaru Kolambu (Black beans in a gravy), though I suspect it was black beans. It was certainly good. Well rounded flavors, really well done. Not at all influenced by the Northern flavors. The curries I have had in my South Indian friends' homes were reminded.

The desserts included a nice Mysore paak, Rawa kesri, and Boondi laddoo (not the motichoor ka laddo, this was robust boondi). I liked the Mysore paak although it was not as good as I have had at Chennai, but worth taking a generous bite.

Very intriguing was this dessert served in a green coconut shell called Ellini payasam. It was a thin milk and coconut cream concoction, really light and a few fried cashews and raisins making it interestingly rich. I found the Green cardamom flavor a little bit overpowering but it can be my personal quibble. It was a nice and light dessert in fact.


There was something even more nicer, probably not for a dessert but definitely enjoyable as a breakfast. The lovely baker blogger Ruchira taught us how to mix this up and eat with fingers and I really liked the taste.

Another recipe which is going to be tried in my own kitchen really soon.


Few happily sated souls walked out of the hotel, welcomed by hot air even past 10 PM. I ended up thinking, the menu was suitable for a summer of North, light and yet packed with many flavors.

Looking at the pictures, I want to steam a puttu as soon as possible.

Do not miss to have this spread and head to Bloom restaurant at Eros, managed by Hilton at Nehru place. The South Indian festival is on only till Sunday. It is a buffet and you would see some more of the Kulambus and the works to choose from.

Sid khullar had brought two books for us, Dad's The Word by Soumya Bhattacharya and Sky Train by Canyon Sam. I am intrigued about Sky Train as it is about the Tibetan women and their lives during and after the turmoil in the country. I hope I catch on my reading now ...

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Bhapouri, Baphouri or steamed dumplings... desi lentil dumplings ...


There are a few old recipes which have been favorites since childhood. I think this one was made quite frequently as it was my mom's favorite as well. She used to make a large batch of it and then some would be eaten warm as steamed dumplings , some would be refrigerated to be fried for the time snacks and some would be curried just like any other kofta curry.

My mom liked it in all three forms and we also liked it just because this thing was praised so much. I think this is a very important tool when we want our kids to like the healthy versions of snacks or home made food. They start liking what we praise and what we eat with delight. Happy moments are associated with good food, tasty food. So if we all enjoy an ice cream and expect a kid would not eat it, behaving like a good girl/boy, we are being unfair.

What do you think?

Coming to this healthy snack or meal recipe, this is a quick cooking one to. Although it looks like extensive work, with a steaming device and a grinding gadget used, the cooking time is not much.

Thirty minutes is not much of a time when 5-6 portions can be prepared if you start from scratch. For the two of us, it results in snacking 3 times or 2 day's worth of snacks and a curry. Good enough.

I used to make it quite often sometime back, almost always using an idli steamer, the dumplings would be in the shape of idlis and would be deep fried sometimes for guests. Always a nice tea time snack.

Sometimes it would be a breakfast too. The shallow fried whole idlies, with slightly crisp spots here and there, will be submerged in a thin green chutney (coriander, mint and green chillies with lime) and that would make a hot-spicy-tangy start to the day.

This time I decided to make it the way my mom used to steam them. Just for the blog as I wanted an authentic looking Bhapouri here :-)

So Bhaap is steam in Hindi and the dumpling is called Bhapouri or Baphouri in regional accents.

The preparation is quite simple and you can steam them even if you don't own a steamer. I always steam all my Momos and Fara (goojha) and dumplings this way and have not felt a need to buy a fancy steamer to clutter my kitchen. Which it already is.

The idli steamer I have and have reduced using it already. Simpler utensils work better most of the times.

ingredients...

To make a paste...
dhuli masoor daal (skinned red lentils) 1 cup (soaked for minimum 2 hours or overnight for convenience)
cumin seeds 2 tsp
ginger roughly chopped an inch piece
garlic cloves 5-6
dry whole red chillies 2-3 or to taste
turmeric powder 1 tsp

To mix in the paste...
diced onions 3-4 to 1 cup
chopped coriander greens 2-3 tbsp (optional)

procedure...

It's really quick if you have soaked the lentils beforehand. Keeping the paste ready is also one step ahead to a quick snack.

So make the paste with all the ingredients listed. A coarse paste is intended.


Mix the chopped onions and greens if using, to the paste.




And while you are doing the blending and mixing, put a pan with water to boil. Place a perforated plate over the rim of the pan and place a muslin cloth to line he perforated plate. I use a square cotton handkerchief.

If using a proper steamer, you know what to do.

The paste of lentils has to be dropped like Vadis (or Badi) , small round dumplings using a spoon or your fingers, into the lined perforated plate.


Then cover the plate with a lid and let it steam for about 10 minutes on medium flame.

Note that I have used a regular Indian Kadhai and have placed a deep perforated plate (steel chhanni) which fits the rim of the kadhai. We all have a few pans of different sizes and lids of different sizes and such an arrangement can be done every time if you plan to steam something. I find it more practical than a steamer.


The dumplings get cooked and the color changes a bit. Becomes a dull yellowish brown. Flip one of the dumplings using a spoon or a knife, it should not be sticking to the cloth or the surface of steamer. Flipping easily, it indicates it is cooked.




These can be had immediately with or without a green chutney. If you are planning to have it with masala tea, which takes about 10 minutes to boil and get ready with milk, you can steam these dumplings on the side if you have the lentil paste ready. Or just quickly stir fry or deep fry the dumplings if you the leftovers in the fridge.



The dumplings keep well in the fridge and can be reheated, fried or curried later. You can always use other lentils for making these dumplings , which would result in different taste and texture. These red lentil,ones are traditionally made for their light texture, probably due to quick cooking property and because they are really tasty too. I have tried making them with other lentils but always found them inferior to these ones. So if you are thinking of Chana daal (split chickpeas) or even split yellow peas, why not making another version called Beasn Katli which involves a slightly different cooking technique and the taste and texture is really great.

Different ingredients need to be treated differently I feel. To make the best of them :-)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Lauki ki tamatar waali subzi...and how to choose the right bottle gourd..


Someone asked me how to choose a tender Bottle gourd as all of them look the same on the shelf.

Here are a few pointers...


  • Look for fresh green stalks like the picture above. The stalks are generally long when the fresh produce arrives in the stock, the sellers keep nipping the dry ends as it goes on drying. So a stale stock would generally have shorter stalk, browned or bruised, indicating the gourd has been plucked long time back.
  • If you push the skin using your nail, the nail should pierce the skin easily and there should be a pale watery exude ooze out slowly.
  • When you peel the gourd with a potato peeler, it slides smoothly over the skin, peeling a thin uniform skin. The mature guard would be harder and the peeler wouldn't slide on it smoothly, resulting in broken peels.
  • Last but not the least, freshly plucked and tender Bottle gourds have a fine hairy cover at the base of the stalk. See the picture.


Now when the selection of a fresh tender Bottle gourd has been sorted, let's see a recipe that uses a slightly mature one. With tender edible seeds. Even if you have got a gourd with mature hard seeds, just discard the seeds and peel off a thick layer of skin and cube the flesh to make this curry. Pressure cooking ensures the guard is cooked to become tender. Although the peculiar taste of bottle gourd is lost when it is too mature.

This curry uses the not so tender gourds. See the pan cooked version of a simple Lauki ki subzi here.

 ingredients...

Bottle gourd about 700 gm ( few potato cubes can be added along with it too)
2 large tomatoes about 200 gm
ginger grated 2 tbsp
everyday curry powder 1 tbsp
turmeric powder 1 tsp
red chilly powder 1 tsp or to taste
salt to taste
mustard oil 1 tbsp

procedure...

Make a smooth paste of all the ingredients together except the bottle gourd. Chopping the tomatoes before blending everything together in a blender would be convenient.

Peel and cube the bottle gourd in large chunks.

Heat the oil in the pressure cooker pan and tip in the tomato and spice paste into it. Add salt and let the paste cook for 2-3 minutes with the lid placed over the pan. Do not lock the lid for this step. Later , open the lid and cook the paste till it gets reduced a bit. Takes about 3-4 minutes more.

Add the Bottle gourd chunks , toss and mix well. Add about 2 cups of water , close the lid and cook till the whistle blows.

If the BG was hard and tough, you would like to cook it on low flame for about 5 minutes after the whistle blows.

Let the pressure release on it's own, open the lid and serve the curry hot. A garnish of fresh green coriander suits this curry very well. I didn't have the greens when I cooked this curry. Don't miss it if you have.


This curry goes well with chapatis and parathas . I like as a dinner soup as well.

Lauki ki saadi subzi...



 Saada is plain in Hindi and Urdu and saadi subzi means a plain subzi (may or may not be a curry by western standards). Lauki is Bottle gourd. Lauki ki saadi subzi is a regular in most UP homes all through the summer months.

This Lauki ki subzi is a plain jane in many ways. No complex recipe, no extensive spicing and quick cooking. Also, this is the one subzi you cook when you get the most tender Bottle gourd in the market. A mature gourd with seeds and tough skin is not suited for this subzi and if you have got one of those, think about a pressure cooked curry with spices and tomatoes.

So this subzi is an unspoiled taste of tender Lauki, enhanced just with hing and jeera. Ghee adds to the flavor so do not compromise on that.

Though some people feel chopping the lauki this way takes a lot of time, I feel this is one of those vegetables which doesn't require stringing and arranging in bunches to be chopped finely. So just peel it and get it chopped in whatever way you want.

Chopping them finely would result in better taste if you are making this kind of plain subzi in a pan or kadhai. You might like the lauki to be chopped even finer if you have time and the skill to chop them that way.

This medium fine is the way I chop it, more because it saves me time and does taste great as well.




ingredients...

a Bottle gourd weighing around 700 gm
pinch of asafoetida
a tsp of turmeric powder
a tsp of whole cumin
2 whole dry red chillies
a tbsp or some more ghee




procedure...

It's a simple recipe and yet we need to be careful with flame intensity etc. Most importantly the salt should be slightly on the lower side. If you choose a tender Bottle gourd you wouldn't require to add water while cooking. Tender Lauki is the only one suited for this subzi as i indicated earlier.

Heat the ghee and tip in the hing, jeera and red chillies in that order. Wait till they all splutter and sizzle before adding a tsp of turmeric powder. Immediately add the chopped lauki over it and mix well till all the chopped pieces get coated lightly with turmeric and the ghee tempering.

Add salt to taste, always lesser than you think is okay , mix well and cover to cook on low flame. Open the lid and stir after 4-5 minutes and check if the pieces have become soft and moist. There should be some water collected in the bottom by this time. If not, add half a cup of water to it and let it cook for about 10 minutes.

It should be cooked and mushy after 10 minutes or might take a few more minutes depending on how tender is the Bottle gourd. You might like to thrash the subzi a bit to make it mushy.


Serve hot as a side dish or just with hot chapatis and some light daal or raita or plain dahi. This is a minimalist's favorite subzi , great with just chapatis too...

Some people even like it with just plain boiled rice. In that case it is a nice detox meal for you.

Summers call for cooling food and this is one of those easy to cook subzi that saves you from stove as well.
The sponge gourd subzi (Nenua ki saadi subzi) is another of this category.

Check out another Lauki ki subzi cooked in pressure cooker with tomatoes and curry powder. This one is for those mature Bottle gourds with a few seeds and tougher skin.

Do you like such simple food? 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Chaney ki daal, masale waali ...




This is not any other daal mind you.

Chaney ki masale waali daal made this way is a UP special. I have seen it being cooked in Bihari families as well. So it could be considered an eastern UP and Bihar specialty probably.

I had actually forgotten about this daal as a close sibling of this daal is a Bengali version which I had adopted about a decade ago and have been loving it since then.

Someone requested for this recipe and I made it the same day. This is one such recipe you would want to cook right away if you are reminded of the taste. I think this is the daal version of chhole. Cooks faster because there is no soaking time. Thank you P for requesting this daal as it reminded me of the old times.

 ingredients...
(2-3 servings)

For boiling in pressure cooker..
chana daal (split chickpeas) 1/2 cup
water 1.5 cups
salt to taste
turmeric powder 1/2 tsp

To make the masala tempering...
ghee 1 tbsp
1 tsp cumin seeds
finely diced onions 2 tbsp
ginger 1 inch piece
garlic 3 cloves
whole dry red chillies 3 or to taste
1 tsp whole coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 small black cardamom or split into half if you have a big one
a half inch piece of cinnamon
3-4 cloves
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp amchoor powder (optional)

procedure...

Boil the daal with the suggested ingredients in the first list. Lower the flame after the first whistle and then cook for 12-15 minutes. I normally rely on my nose to smell the cooked daal aroma. Let the pressure cooker cool down on it's own.

The daal can be cooked in a pan as well. takes about 40 minutes to cook on medium heat.

Grind everything together on the second list, except the ghee, 1tsp cumin seeds and the diced onions. Add a litle water while grinding to make a smooth paste. Keep aside.

To prepare the masala tadka, heat the ghee and tip in the cumin seeds. Wait till they crackle and then add the diced onions and fry them till pinkish brown.

Pour the ground masala paste to this frying onions pan, add salt to taste and keep stirring and bhuno till a bhuna aroma wafts through. Bhuna is the word for frying the spice mix while scraping the base of the pan so the masala paste becomes very uniquely aromatic. In the end, the masala paste should get a shining glaze and  if you use more ghee there will be some ghee separated from the masala.

Pour the boiled daal mix to this bhuna masala and give it a gentle boil.

Serve hot with a tsp of ghee on top.


Goes best with chapatis, plain parathas and pooris. Some people like it with pulav and plain boiled rice as well. You can try tbis daal with naan, kulcha or even Bhatoora for that matter.

I told you it's the younger cousin of the Punjabi chhole. Gets cooked immediately and tastes as good.

This Chane ki daal is a specialty dish served the next day of a wedding in some families, along with Kadhi, Chawal and Dahi bade, off course a few more things on the side. I was reminded of this by P who requested me for this recipe. I myself don't remember having this daal at a wedding function as I skip meals a lot during such get togethers.

The daal was made during summer months in my family along with some guard family plain vegetables so the cooling vegetables can be enjoyed while still having something spicy on the side.

Let me know what way you enjoy this daal.