Tuesday, February 18, 2014

easy way to make makki ki roti and two new versions of sarson ka saag

I keep getting requests to post recipes or videos of how to make makki ki roti or any millet roti perfectly. Taking step wise pictures or making a video is not possible for now but I thought of letting you all know a nice shortcut way to make makki ki roti nice and round without much hassle. This roti is softer and rolls out better on the chakla belan.

It wont be a fright anymore to make makki ki roti if you apply this method.

makki ki roti sarson ka saag

I can make a normal makki ki roti with ease, just taking care to knead the dough using hot water. I can easily pat the roti in my hands, I have large hands by the way, and flip it on the hot griddle. But it comes with practice. You might find it tough if you are new to rotis or have never handled any millet flour. The roti in the picture is hand patted and made the old fashioned way as I did not want to dilute the makki ka atta taste, our neighborhood chakki wala had made really fresh makki ka atta this time.

The trick I do when I am in a hurry and want the rotis to be rolled out on the chakla nicely, I cook some oatmeal with water and knead the makki ka atta with that. No more cracked edges, thinner roti and easier handling on the griddle too. The rotis stay softer even when cold. 

The ratio for the dough is, 2 heaped tbsp of oatmeal to be cooked in half cup of water, salt can be added but I normally avoid it. Now add a cup of makki ka atta and knead well, you might need to add a little more makki ka atta if you can't handle soft dough on the chakla belan. 

The same method works for jowar or bajra rotis as well. Try that if you find cooking millet rotis difficult.

Now the recipe of this new version of sarson ka saag. I make this spicy version of sarson ka saag every winter but last year I saw a recipe by a friend Promilaa that looked really interesting and very different from what I cook. It was without any garam masala or tomatoes or even onions that I used to add diligently.

I could not cook it last year and this season too it got really late. But better late than never. In the last leg of winters when the mustard greens are on their way out, I bought a huge bunch and got set to make some sarson ka saag. I actually made two versions and loved them both. Here is the first version which is based on Promilaa's recipe.

(makes about 4 cups of saag, serves 2 hungry people like us, the saag makes a meal for me, makki ki roti is incidental)
mustard greens with stems 500 gm
spinach with long stems 250 gm
salt to taste
makki ka atta 2 tbsp
ghee 3 tbsp
finely chopped ginger 3 tbsp
chopped green chillies 2
deghi mirch powder 2 tsp


Peel the stems of mustard greens if it is too hard. Clean and chop all the leaves and stems.
Clean and chop the spinach as well. Promilaa's recipe uses only spinach stems but I could not discard the leaves as these were from my own garden.

Boil both the saags in a kadhai covered with a fitting lid, with added salt to taste. No water is required if you have washed the greens just before cooking. It takes about 20 minutes to get cooked. Cool down and blend in mixie or use the hand blender to blend it in the kadhai itself.

Now add the makki ka atta and mix well. Cook till the saag puree starts puffing up in violent bubbles. Keep it covered if you are standing next to it.

Make a tadka by heating the ghee in a smaller pan, add the chopped green chilly, chopped ginger and deghi mirch and pour over the cooked saag. Serve immediately with makki ki roti.

makki ki roti sarson ka saag

This is a refreshingly simple and clean flavoured recipe of sarson ka saag. I would have liked some garlic in it as I feel garlic makes all greens more palatable and prevents flatulence as well. I also missed the white butter I love in my sarson ka saag. But to tell the truth, the saag is really tasty in a different way. Arvind liked it more than me.

I cooked one more version of sarson ka saag, using some bathua and methi leaves as well but the spices were not added in this one too. The recipe is here..

(makes about 4-5 cups of saag)
mustard greens with stems cleaned and chopped 400 gm
spinach with stems cleaned and chopped 200 gm
bathua (chenopodium greens) cleaned and chopped 100 gm
methi(fenugreek greens) leaves cleaned and chopped 100 gm
makki ka atta (cornmeal) 2 tbsp
chopped garlic 2 tbsp
green chillies 3-4
chopped ginger 3 tbsp
salt to taste
ghee 1 tbsp
fresh cream or white butter to serve


Heat ghee in a kadhai and add the chopped garlic, ginger and green chillies in that order and fry them till a bit pinkish brown. Add the chopped greens, salt to taste and cook till done, covered. No water is required if you cook the saag on low heat.

Liquidise when done. Serve hot with fresh cream or white butter.

sarson ka saag

I think I will be making this recipe more often as this is the one simpler recipe that I liked so much I finished it almost all by myself. That too without any roti with it.

I might cook some more saag till there is some more mustard greens in the market. Try these and let me know if these recipes worked for you.

Note that both these recipes are very different form each other in taste the first one has a nice kick of chilly and ginger heat while the second one is a mellow creaminess. Both recipes are like day and night and yet superbly and equally tasty.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

harey chane ka halwa | an unusual dessert with tender green garbanzo beans

We have been on a hara chana high for sometime. It was the easy and yet exotic option for quick snacks and ghugnis all through this winter.  I was developing a lot of non vegetarian recipes for a brand and was fed up with not having my own choice of food for a while. I always love cooking my food on my own whims, my own 'flavours for the day' and when I have to work on something which is fixed, I feel a bit suffocated in terms of food choices. I don't know if you relate to it or not, but give me the fanciest of foods on a day when I want a simple khichdi, I will not be happy eating them. But that is another story.

There is harey chane ka halwa to cheer up. This harey chane ka halwa is mostly set and cut like barfi or fudge. One of the most surprising flavours trust me, and so brightly coloured.

harey chane ka halwa

Some of the seasons fresh produce gave me hope and I enjoyed some quick foods of my choice as well.
Harey chane ka halwa looks and sounds tricky but it incredibly simple and quick.

harey chane ka halwa

Hara chana, fresh green peas and some thukpa and thenthuk type soups were a great relief as they take minimal effort to be cooked. I made hara chana jhal mudi many a times for a tea time snack and loved it. But then a friend from Banaras reminded me of this hare chane ka halwa and I got transported to the older days when we never counted our desserts.

Not that we ate too much desserts as a family but we usually had everything we wanted. I think we never knew so much abundance of all things super sweet vying for attention all the time. Home made real food desserts were the norm and we grew up to become fit healthy individuals. Cakes were very occasional even if we had started baking at younger age, all of us siblings used to have so much fun in the kitchen. This harey chane ka halwa brought back all those memories.

This halwa would remind you of the halwas of Kerala and Tamilnadu (probably other states of south India as well) where they make pineapple and ripe jackfruit halwa and dehydrate it so much that it make a nice dense cake that can be sliced like karachi halwa. But this harey chane ka halwa is not that dehydrated and doesn't keep well at room temperature. This is something to be had the same day or to refrigerate and consume the next day.

(makes 9 large squares, or 6-8 servings)
hara chana (tender green garbanzo beans) 200 gm
pistachios 25 gm (you can use cashew too)
sugar 25-50 gm as per taste
ghee 30 gm or 2 tbsp
chopped pistachio for garnish

Some people add khoya to this halwa but I like it without khoya. If you want to add khoya, you can make instant khoya in microwave by following this recipe.


Make a powder of pistachios first, add the hara chana in the blender and make a smooth paste of the two.

Heat ghee in a kadhai and pour the paste in it. Stir continuously for about 5 minutes and you would see how the green paste starts getting smooth and a bit gummy.

Add the sugar and stir more to cook further. The halwa will start looking shiny and sticky. This is the time you pour it into a deep plate or a square dish of suitable size. Spread it in even layer, thickness can be of your choice. Mine was 1 cm thick layer. Sprinkle chopped pistachios over it and press with your fingers so they embed well.

Let it cool in refrigerator for an hour or so, cut squares and serve as required.

Alternately, you can serve the halwa hot or warm like gajar ka halwa.

harey chane ka halwa

The taste is rich and nutty and very very delectable. This halwa will be one of those good looking desserts you can serve for formal meals as well.

Let me know if you try this harey chane ka halwa or call it harey chane ki barfi. You can make such a halwa with green peas too, but the taste will be a bit different as peas don't have that nuttiness that hara chana lends to this halwa. I hope you get hara chana in your part of the world.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Dawat-e-Awadh ; some comforting flavours from the fine cuisine

When one talks about Dawat-e-Awadh, be assured it is mostly about non vegetarian food. Awadhi cuisine is either mughlai which is quintessentially non vegetarian or it is Bramhin cuisine which includes loads of milk products, vegetables, lentils and desserts and can include or exclude onion and garlic. You would find a vast variety of koftas, pasandas, kormas and pulaos in bramhin vegetarian cuisine that has a clear influence of mughal food of Awadh. But then there is some more variety like Tahiri and khichdi, daal and rice, pooris and kachoris, curries like nimona and tawa fries, miloni subzi,  gatte, kheer and a wide array of mithais etc that are essentially the vegetarian food of the Gangetic plains. 

There is a whole word of Bramhin vegetarian food from Awadh but today I am talking about the royal mughlai food that is so synonymous with Awadh and is considered the root stock of all mughlai cuisine offshoots around India. Mughlai food is very very different in these regions of India and Awadhi is subtle, aromatic and rich with milk products and nuts along with saffron and flower essences, supposedly an influence the Mughals took from the Bramhins of the Gangetic plains, not sure about the influences but the result is history.

We got to taste some good Awadhi food at Cafe Uno, Shangri-La's Hotel here in New Delhi. We liked a few dishes there and the taste still lingers on.

The best thing was the Nawabi Tangdi. A drumstick of chicken stuffed with chopped nuts and khoya and then grilled in tandoor, wrapped with foil. Chef Anwar Ahmed and Chef Abhinandan Singh told us that they have created flavours that are essentially Awadhi but have used modern cooking techniques and presentation to suit the requirements. The result was good as I witnessed. I would definitely be trying the flavours of this stuffed tangdi in my own kitchen. 

Khoya is a favourite ingredient of the region and lends a nice sweetness to a dish and this Nawabi Tangdi was a good example of how Awadhi cooks meld the flavours of spices and milk products along with nuts to create magic.

We liked the Mahi Tikka Chutney wala and it was really good too. A river fish grilled with a smear of green chutney. The Awadh ka Malai Murgh was succulent and soft as the name suggests and was really creamy too. Tender boneless thigh pieces done right.

What stumped me among starters was a nice Vegetarian Galaouti Kabab. Who would think a vegetarian galouti kabab can be nice tasting. It had the right texture and a really nice taste too. I finished the one on my plate unexpectedly. 

Alu nazakat was avoidable, vegetarians might like it. Khumbi pyaz was nice but nothing notable. But vegetarians have a really good option in Mirchon Wala Paneer.

This is something very intriguing, a paneer dish cooked with pickled stuffed red chillies. I loved it. But the addition of bell peppers was unnecessary. I would get rid of them when I try this recipe in my own kitchen. Yes I am doing that very soon.

Nargisi kofta was nicely done. The flavors of seekh kababs that we get in Delhi more than awadhi I would say, but really a nice kofta curry.

This Murgh Shameena looks beautiful on the table. With soft iceberg like egg white poached meringues floating in a white creamy gravy, this dish may become a conversation point. The chicken and the gravy are nice too. 

I liked the flaky crisp parathas too, tandoor baked rightly and very good accompaniment to everything we tasted. We did not have any space for desserts, they have some phirni, kheer and kulfi etc on the menu and we decided to share a paan kulfi. Their paan kulfi comes from Kuremal in purani dilli and it is as good as it can be. We did end up having a few bites even after being stuffed to the gills.

I have seen some nice dehydrated paan at Rupak stores and might be one of the first kulfis to be tried this summer. I wouldn't mind some nice paan kulfi even now. It has been some time since I had a nice paan, some kulfi might work fine.