Someone asked me about the difference between a poori and kachori and I realised how diverse a kachori can be while answering. How much the kachori has evolved to be a sassy cousin of poori. While poori remained the plain jane, kachori took on to different fashions with different seasons and became matar ki kachori, daal ki kachori, hing kachori, alu ki kachori blah blah blah blah , most of them stuffed kachoris, some of them are softer inside and crisp outside while others are so crisp and dry that they keep well for days.
This banarasi kachori is more of a plain version of a pretentious kachori but packs the same punch when it comes to taste. All spices and the stuffing material is mixed in the dough itself and the kachori are often double fried to ensure a crisp crumbling kind of poori. These are the ones that stay puffed even when cold if you don't crush them. I have shared a recipe of banarasi kachoris here, with ras wale alu and a pumpkin subzi. Sharing a few more subzis again to go with the famous banarasi kachoris.
Banarasi kachori recipe..
The kachori is made with a mix of coarse whole wheat flour and urad daal flour (skinned black bean flour), the dough is made using water that is infused with cumin, hing and ajwain. Just mix a cup of coarsely milled wheat flour with 1/3 cup of urad daal flour or 1/2 cup of soaked urad daal paste, add salt to taste and a tbsp of ghee and rub everything well. Boil 2 cups of water, add a tsp each or cumin and ajwain to it and let it simmer for a minute. Add a pinch of hing, dissolve and let the water cool down. Use this water to knead a firm dough. Use this dough to roll out pooris and fry them all in hot ghee or oil. Hot crisp banarasi kachoris are ready.
Add a bit of red chilly powder or black pepper powder and a little lime juice if you are planning to eat these kachoris without subzi, yes the slightly spiced up kachoris go well with our milky tea.
I served it here with ras wale aloo and a simple palak paneer. This palak paneer used to be more regular when Mithi was younger. It was her favourite subzi, very lightly spiced and creamy in texture.
This version of palak paneer is easier, simpler to cook and less spicy than another version with more rustic spicing. That recipe will be shared some other time.
Palak paneer recipe..
To cook this simple palak paneer, you just have to choose tender spinach leaves with stems or mature spinach leaves only (mature fibrous stems to be discarded) so the resulting spinach puree is creamy and flavourful. Steam about 500 gm spinach either in microwave or in a pan with 2-3 tbsp of water at low flame and take off heat as soon as the leaves get limp and soft. Cool down and puree in the blender, without using any water. Now heat 1 tbsp ghee in a pan, add cumin seeds and wait till they splutter, and then dump the spinach puree in it. Add a pinch of nutmeg powder, 1 tsp black pepper powder and salt to taste and stir and cook the spinach puree till it starts bubbling and puffing. Add 200 gm paneer cubes to the bubbling spinach mix and simmer for about 5 minutes. Adjust consistency by adding a little water. Add 2-3 tbsp fresh cream to finish and serve hot.
Another very popular subzi with kachoris is the chane aur kaddu ki subzi. It is a simple black chickpeas and pumpkin curry that goes very well with crisp hot kachoris. We use mature orange coloured pumpkin for this subzi and the slightly sweet pumpkin balances well with kale chane lightly spiced up.
Kale chane aur kaddu ki subzi recipe..
Soak 3/4 cup of black chickpeas overnight.
Peel the hard skin of mature pumpkin and cube the flesh in 2 cm dimensions. It should be about 400 gm cubed pumpkin.
Make a coarse paste of ginger, green chilly, whole dry red chilly and some garlic. About 1 tbsp or more ginger, chillies to taste and 2 cloves of garlic to be used.
Heat 1 tbsp of mustard oil in a pressure cooker pan and add a pinch of hing, about 10 grains of fenugreek seeds, 1/2 tsp fennel seeds, 1/2 tsp black mustard seeds nd 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, all together in one go. Let them all splutter and get aromatic, taking care not to burn them.
Add the ginger garlic chilly paste and a tsp of turmeric powder to the hot oil and let the mixture get fried. Take about 15 seconds on medium heat.
Now add the soaked and drained kale chane and mix well. Add salt to taste and the cubed pumpkin, about a cup of water and pressure cook the subzi for about 5 minutes after the first whistle. Cool down, mash the subzi a little, add amchoor powder to taste and serve immediately.
Chopped spinach can be added to the same subzi just before pressure cooking it. It makes the subzi more mushy and yummy.
We enjoyed this kachori subzi meal with a bowl of grated mooli salad on the side. The mooli salad is just grated while radish, some grated ginger, some finely chopped green chillies, salt and lime juice to balance. One of the most frequent winter salad with any meal.
Another very popular subzi to go with the kachoris is this alu baingan aur palak ki subzi, a mushy curry cooked with new baby potatoes, black round brinjal and spinach. The subzi is called alu-bhanta-saag in local dialect and is a much revered subzi for pooris during pooja etc. I often cook this curry with the green aubergines that is growing in the garden right now, but the round ones are perfect for this.
You can make the subzi a bit dry or make it a little coated consistency type.
Recipe of the alu baingan palak ki subzi..
Chop a small round brinjal in cubes. It should be about 200 gm.
Clean, wash and chop 300 gm spinach leaves and keep aside.
Mince or coarsely grind a tbsp of ginger, 4 cloves of garlic and 2 dry red chilies.
Heat 1 tbsp mustard oil in a deep iron or cast iron pan (kadhai) and tip in 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds, 1/2 tsp fennel seeds, 1/2 tsp cumin seeds and a generous pinch of hing. Add the coarse paste of ginger etc and the potatoes immediately as the spices turn aromatic. Cook for a couple of minutes and then add a tsp of turmeric powder and the cubed brinjal. Toss and mix, let everything get coated well.
Add the chopped spinach, mix well, add 1/2 a cup of water and cook covered for about 20 minutes or so. Lightly mash the subzi after everything is cooked through. Serve immediately. Though the subzi keeps well in the fridge and can be served after reheating too.
Here I cooked the alu bhanta saag using the round purple brinjals and some Amritsari vadi, the perfect taste of this curry. Yes, you can add about a tbsp of crushed Amritsari vadi along with ginger, garlic and red chilies and let it fry till fragrant and proceed to add other ingredients. This addition makes this curry irresistible.
But alu baingan palak can be made without the badiyan or vadi as well.
A long post finally, I hope you find it useful when planning meals for the family. Such foods from the hinterland become exotic in urban life, but we do make away to keep enjoying them frequently.