Wednesday, June 21, 2017

everyday subzi : raw papaya stew | kachhe papeete ka ishtoo


Raw papaya is an interesting vegetable. While it becomes a table fruit once ripe, the raw fruit makes wonderful salad, raita, paratha, chutney and even curry. The neutral taste of raw papaya makes it a perfect candidate for any flavour you want it to acquire.

raw papaya stew | kachhe papeete ka ishtoo

This kachhe papeete ka ishtoo is actually a stew that everyone loves with all types of Indian breads. I remember we used to love it with do pad ki roti, poori or crisp parathas. Kachhe papeete ka ishtoo is spicy, aromatic and yet very light so it can be a part of light meal with thin chapatis and makes a paratha meal comparatively light too.

ingredients  
(3-4 servings)

500 gm raw papaya peeled, seeds removed and chopped into big chunks
250 gm red onions sliced thinly
100-200 gm potatoes peeled and cubed (optional)
4 green cardamoms
2 black cardamoms
12 cloves
2 sticks of Indian cinnamon
1 tsp pepper corns
1/2 tsp whole cumin seeds 
3 tejpatta leaves
4-6 whole dry red chillies
12-15 cloves of garlic peeled and smashed
1 tbsp thin julienne of ginger
2 tbsp mustard oil
salt to taste 

preparation 

Heat the oil in a deep pan keeping the heat low, a handi or pressure cooker that can be used with or without the pressure lid. Add the whole spices, dry red chilies and smashed garlic at once and wait till they all become aromatic. It takes less than a minute.

Add the sliced onions and potatoes, mix well and cook till both look a little glazed. It takes just 2-3 minutes. You don't need to brown the onions but a few brownish streaks are okay.

Add the papaya chunks, toss to mix well. Add salt and mix. Cover with a well fitting lid and let it cook on dum till everything gets cooked well. The papaya chunks will start disintegrating and the onions will almost dissolve. You can add a few spoons of water in between to keep the dish moist at all times. This dum cooking can take about 30 minutes but if you pressure cook it gets faster. Take care to switch off the gas just after the first whistle blows.

raw papaya stew | kachhe papeete ka ishtoo

The onions and raw papaya has enough water in it to make this stew watery enough but you can add up to 1/4 cup water to make the cooking easier.

This kachhe papeete ka ishtoo is quite aromatic and delicious and can be made with bottle gourds too. Some people like it just with potatoes but use more onions in that case if you try.

The kathal ka dopyaza is a similar recipe with minor differences but the taste of kathal ka dopyaza is very different from this one. Some people call it kachhe papeete ka dopyaza as well.

Do try this recipe and serve with any regular chapati or roti you eat. This stew pairs well with light flat breads and not too much with millet breads but we like it with our mixed grain rotis too.

I have shared a basic recipe of this kachhe papeete ka stew with dal bhari poori here. It is actually a versatile subzi and can be served with whatever you like.


Friday, May 19, 2017

sama ke chawal ka bhakka | barnyard millet porridge



A few foods we start loving just because our parents are always raving about those. I have witnessed this tendency of kids even in recent times when I see them following their parents in the choice of foods, especially the junk type. There is no other way small toddlers would start loving junk carbonated drinks and instant noodles.

We had no such influence in my times, the only choices we had were home cooked food as our parents always preferred home cooked food unless we were traveling. I would add that my parents were very fond of good food and since they kept traveling a lot and we all lived in many cities all across the country, the food repertoire at home was quite rich.

One of the dishes I remember we all loved just because my father was too fond of it, is this sama ke chawal ka bhakka. I had never seen it being made in other homes till then, not even now, and the name sama ke chawal ka bhakka was so uncool that we never talked about this dish outside of our home. The taste was nothing special as it tasted just like any other daliya or porridge we ate for breakfast, nothing to feel elated about.

Same ke chawal ka bhakka was not even garnished before serving like we do for sama ke chawal ki kheer, though I felt like garnishing this time when I made it just for the sake of pictures.


ingredients 
(2 breakfast servings)

1/2 cup sama ke chawal (barnyard millet)
600 ml full cream milk 
1 tbsp sugar or more to taste
garnish of choice

procedure 

Soak the sama ke chawal in the milk overnight, preferably in the same pot you will use for cooking the porridge in the morning.

Place the pot on gas stove and bring to a soft boil while stirring in between. Lower the gas and let it cook for 10 minutes. Add sugar, mix and cover for 15 minutes till it absorbs all moisture.

Serve hot, warm or cold. Make ahead if you want to serve it chilled.


Garnish if desired.

It tastes like a porridge that has a hint of kheer. The sama ke chawal ki kheer is a richer version of sama ka bhakka, which was served either as a breakfast dish or a snack any time of the day.

Such a healthy snack for anyone who has a sweet tooth.




Sunday, May 7, 2017

gudamma or gudamba, a dessert recipe with raw mangoes


Mangoes are celebrated in several ways in India. While the ripe mangoes are made into countless number of desserts and even some curries the raw mangoes keep tingling the taste buds with aam ka achar and relishes like kuchla, chhunda, aam ka khatta meetha achar and aam panna etc etc.

Apart from all these uses of raw mangoes, the most uncommon use is in a halwa like dish called as gudamma that my grandmother used to love so much that she would make a small batch almost every week during summers. The consistency is like lapsi or smooth oats porridge, I think technically gudamma is a raw mango lapsi and nothing else.

gudamma or gudamba

Gudamma or gudamba is difficult to categorize into a dessert or something else, as I never saw it being served as a dessert. Gudamma was always a part of the thali, served along with the dal and subzi and one used to keep having it in between. It was one of the best palate cleansers if you ask me. I saw my grandmother (dadi) having it like a warm comforting snack sometimes.

The most disturbing thing with gudamma is that I never saw it being made into other homes and always thought that it was something my grandmother had invented to satisfy her sweet cravings at a ripe age of 90, when her digestion was not so good and she couldn't eat much halwa, from the time I remember this dish. My dadi went on to live for another 12-15 years after that and gudamma was lost into the deeper folds of memory, till I discovered a gudamba recipe in the book Cooking Delights of The Maharajas by Digvijaya Singh of Sailana.

Gudamba was made using semolina in the Sailana kitchen while my grandmother would make it with regular whole wheat flour, recipe simpler, not sure whether it was to make a short cut to the recipe which was unlikely knowing her zeal for cooking but I do remember my mother's disdain towards gudamma as she considered it to be worthless. My mother loved atte ka halwa loaded with ghee and loathed anything like lapsi. Lapsi was a term used to describe badly cooked food, devoid of all texture or taste.

Dadi would always make lapsi alone in the kitchen, I remember peeking into the pan sometimes and getting a ladleful of gudamma to taste, it was not something the others would relish understandably. I didn't care much about the dish but the taste was never forgotten, possibly because dadi was so adorable always.

I tried recreating gudamma a few times last year and even before that but somehow the taste was not the same as my dadi would make. Then I realised I was using much less sugar while my dadi was a sugar junkie, she used to keep Poppins (flavoured candies) in her pocket back then.

Gudamma is an acquired taste for many, I like it in small doses at a time but can keep on getting second helpings. Gudamma grows on you.

gudamma or gudamba

ingredients
(2-3 servings)
1 large raw mango, peeled and cubed or sliced the way you like
3 tbsp whole wheat flour
1 tbsp ghee for cooking and 1 tsp ghee for serving
4-5 tbsp sugar or jaggery, taste and add more if required
1 cup water 

procedure

Heat ghee in a kadhai and tip in the mango pieces. Shallow fry briefly and add the flour. Lower the flame and roast the flour along with the mango pieces till the flour turns brown and aromatic. This needs a little patience so keep calm and stir continuously.

Add sugar once the flour is aromatic and brown, mix and add water, stir vigorously to make a homogeneous lapsi or porridge. Add little more water if it gets thicker than porridge. Stir for a mnute and it is ready to serve.

Pour in serving bowls and top with ghee. The subtly flavored sweet and tart gudamma or gudamba can be served with a topping of coconut cream or fresh cream too.

I am sure you will find more ways to serve gudamba if you like it. 




Thursday, April 27, 2017

recipe of alu ke gutke, let the simplicity rule


There are some recipes so simple that the experts miss the point. You know how simplicity is always misunderstood, people want to add more value to the things they do to create something good and miss the greatness in the simpler things. In the case of alu ke gutke recipe something similar happened.

I had posted pictures of alu ke gutke on instagram recently and had been getting requests for the recipe after that. I intended to write the recipe here but since the alu ke gutke is quite simple I gave a quick recipe to one of my friends. She went on to google the recipe to make it, not realizing someone can screw up such a simple almost one and a half step recipe, she forwarded me the link and I was aghast to find a recipe with all the spice powders and hing-jeera and what not.

Alu ke gutke needs to be shared here I decided.

alu ke gutke

So here is the unpretentious recipe of alu ke gutke that is the best representative of the frugal ife in mountains. Alu ke gutke is made in every pahadi home in Garhwal and Kumaon region, potato being the main crop and not much variety of vegetables available to them at higher altitudes.

Writing this, I am reminded of a small trek we did in the hills of Sattal few years ago, we just followed a track that started with a faded signboard with a name of some nondescript temple and after an arduous one hour trek reached a temple surrounded with a well tended garden. We met a baba (a saint) and got to know he is from Banaras who went there several decades ago and has settled down in that temple, we were offered a plate of this alu ke gutke with hot ginger chai, free of cost. One of the most satiating meals I must say.

Alu ke gutke is available in the hills at almost every chai shop, served with a cup of hot chai if you wish and often topped with mooli ka raita. A very unusual combination but works wonderfully when trekking or even driving in the hills.

The frugality of alu ke gutke is such that it uses all dry ingredients, just 6 ingredients including salt, apart from the occasional chopped dhaniya patta when it is in season. It tastes best with the pahadi potatoes, cook it in the plains only with the new potatoes or forget about alu ke gutke, it is not alu ke gutke if the alu is not right.

The second important, non-replaceable ingredient is jakhia that imparts a subtle flavour and a delectable crunch that stays even if the alu ka gutka is cooked hours before you eat.

jakhia seeds

Jakhia (Cleome viscosa) is a herb that grows in the foothills of Himalayas as well as in the tropics throughout the world, the leaves are used as a vegetable and all parts of this plant as medicinal ingredients, the use of the seeds in a tadka like this is seen only in Uttarakhand.

Jakhia is antipyretic and anti-inflammatory and is used for many minor health issues, the spices in Indian kitchen have been known to be curative and healing, their usage has evolved over several generations if not centuries.

If you don't have jakhia, make jeera alu instead. Alu ke gutke needs good quality potatoes, preferably baby potatoes and jakhia, the other ingredients can vary minimally. Like you can use green chilies instead of red dry ones and dhaniya patta can be a choice, no other changes please.

ingredients
500 gm boiled, peeled and cubed potatoes
2 tbsp mustard oil
3 broken dry red chilies
1 tsp jakhia seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
salt to taste
chopped coriander leaves for garnish

procedure

Heat mustard oil, tip in the red chilies and the jakhia and let them crackle for a couple of seconds.

Add the turmeric powder and immediately dump the potatoes over it, add salt and mix everything nicely. Keep stirring and cooking for 5 minutes, sprinkle chopped coriander leaves and it is done.

Serve hot or cold.

alu ke gutke

It tastes great as a side dish with meals or as breakfast starch if you want some potatoes, it is better than any fries or hash browns trust me.

Served with tea it has a unique way of satisfying you. The potato lovers would agree but the simplicity of this alu ke gutke does the wonders if you ask me.
 



Monday, April 17, 2017

everyday subzi : alu parval ki rassedar subzi


Alu parval is a summer time subzi that is on our table at least once a week. Alu parval bhujia is a popular recipe on this blog and even the parval ki mithai gets great feedback but strangely the alu parval ki rassedar (with a thin gravy) subzi has not been shared on the blog as yet, even though I make a few versions of it.

A few people pointed out at this lapse a few months ago but it was not parval season back then, though it was available in the markets, we don't eat any vegetables out of season as a rule so this recipe also comes when parval is well in season.

parval or pointed gourd

This version is alu parval ki patle rasse wali subzi (आलू परवल की पतले रस्से वाली सब्ज़ी) is suitable for summer dinners, keeping it light and soupy, to be consumed with thin rotis.

alu parval ki rassedar subzi

Made in pressure cooker, this one is a simple recipe inspired by the subzis made by the poori subzi stalls where the vegetables are not fried before currying keeping it light yet flavourful, frying the vegetables and bhuna masala separately is a normal practice in home cooking.

ingredients 
(2-3 servings)
300 gm small sized parvals (pointed gourd), preferably heirloom variety
2 small potatoes boiled, peeled and crushed by hands (not mashed)
1 tbsp everyday curry powder 
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp ginger paste or minced ginger
1/2 tsp chopped green chilies
1/4 tsp red chili powder (optional)
couple of tejpatta 
1 tbsp mustard oil
salt to taste
1/4 tsp amchoor powder (optional)

procedure 

Scrape the parvals using a paring knife, removing just the waxy layer, not peeling the green skin. Cut into halves length wise if the parvals are small, else crosswise.

Heat mustard oil in the pressure cooker pan, add all the spices, except amchoor, at once and stir to mix and cook. Wait till the spices get aromatic, add the parvals and toss and cook for 2 minutes.

Add the crushed potatoes and salt, toss to coat everything together. Pour 300-400 ml water, depending on how thin you want the curry, cover with lid and pressure cook till the whistle blows.

Switch off the gas and let the pressure release on its own. Open the cooker, adjust seasoning and add amchoor powder if needed.

alu parval ki rassedar subzi

Serve hot with thin rotis, some tomato chutney and some raita or plain dahi. This alu parval ki rassedar subzi is mildly spicy and very flavourful. We generally don't add coriander leaves but you can add if desired.

These subzis never need a garnish as I feel the herb garnish changes the taste. Some people like a sprinkle of bhuna jeer powder topped over this subzi over each individual serving. Try that and let me know if you like it.



Sunday, April 9, 2017

Kumaoni food at Abbotsford Nainital


Nainital is not just a hill station known for the beautiful Naini lake. This quaint little town is known for the wild life, the wild life conservators, educational institutions, clubs and the lush green pine forests with a blue hue that reflects magically in the Naini lake too.

Naini lake

Incidentally this is my birthplace too and there are many childhood memories attached to the lake, the sepia toned pictures in our family album have kept the memories alive. We have made a few quick trips to Nainital in between but I have been meaning to go and stay there for a relaxed holiday to get more insights into the culture and cuisine.

I got a chance to get a glimpse of the cuisine in the meanwhile, when EatwithIndia organised a culinary tour of Nainital is association with Abbotsford, the heritage home of Janhavi Prasada who graciously hosts guests in the ancestral property that has been converted into a home stay.

Kumaoni food at Abbotsford Nainital

Along with Sonal Saxena of EatwithIndia we reached Abbotsford a little ahead of lunch time few weekends ago and what we experienced was nothing short of an ideal hillside holiday sprinkled with great food.While Delhi had already started getting hot around that time it was great to feel the nip in the air even during noon time.

After a customary welcome teeka, flowers and Rhododendron drink we headed straight to the lunch table set up at the Cafe Chica lawns.

The first thing served to start the lunch was sana hua nimbu and it was the best I had tasted till date. I took the recipe and created at home after I returned in fact. 

I was not particularly hungry but the Kumaoni home style food was so delicious I overate after ages, so much that I skipped dinner that day. The sticky hand pounded rice had come from Janhavi's aunt's farm and the kapha (Kumaoni spinach stew) felt like the best pairing with that flavourful rice. The other dishes like gahat (horse gram) ki dal, alu gutka, ganderi ki subzi, kheere ka raita, bhang ki chutney and bhatt ki chutney were all so flavourful we all took multiple helpings, mopping everything up with mandue ki roti.

We went for a long walk towards the Naini lake after lunch, enjoyed boating, walked around the markets and the mall road after lunch.

Naini lake

Janhavi cooked a country style chicken curry on wood fire for dinner and one of the guests Kunal Mandal conducted a quiz that I participated despite splitting headache. We talked about how and why we need to conserve regional traditional cuisines so the ingredients and cooking techniques are not lost forever. I couldn't stay on for dinner but heard it was as good as the lunch.

Next day Janhavi took everyone for a farmer's market walk and then to the boat club. Once back the lunch was laid down again in it's finery.

Kumaoni food at Abbotsford Nainital

These were all Janhavi's family recipes, cooked expertly by their family cook who takes care of the home stay kitchen too. It's very rare that cooks can recreate family recipes so expertly but Abbotsford has kept the mark high, the food is to die for.

Kumaoni food at Abbotsford Nainital

The mooli ki kadhi, home style mutton curry, methi chaman, khatta meetha kaddu, bhune tamatar ki chutney etc were all great, bursting with flavour and made so well. Thanks to EatwithIndia we got to taste all such homely food from the region, that too from the repertoire of a family. We tasted delicious Singhal, a spiral deep fried sweet pastry made by the cook and it was delicious.

The Cafe Chica at Abbotsford is quite popular among locals and travelers, although it is located at a steep climb but the view is worth it.

Abbotsford Nainital

The alfresco seating is the best as you get to see lot of birds and the cheena peak in the background.

 I stayed in the Juliet room. Here is how the room looks.

Abbotsford Nainital

The full length window opens to this breathtaking view.

Abbotsford Nainital

My stay was short but I resolved to go back really soon to soak in the mountains, Abbotsford will be a natural choice now. All the rooms are different as it has been a private home, it actually adds to the warmth the homely hospitality extended by the people behind Abbotsford.

Abbotsford Nainital

This short weekend trip packed so much and yet left us hungry for more.

Thank you EatwithIndia and Abbotsford for this cherishable experience. The taste of the best Kumaoni food I have had till date, will be etched in my mind forever.




Friday, March 31, 2017

recipe of sana hua nimbu, a Kumaoni recipe


Sana hua nimbu is a very unusual way of eating lemons. Lemon segments mixed with a unique seasoning and fresh yogurt is something you wouldn't experience anywhere else. But in Kumaon region they make this and a few other versions of sana hua nimbu that they call as nimbu saan too as I got to know at Instagram.

The lemons of hill regions all over India are so flavourful and unique that I feel like growing all of them. But the thing is, a fact that has become a philosophy for me now, that the unique geographical location helps retain the uniqueness of the produce.

It wouldn't be the same if I grow it in my Delhi garden, I have experienced it by growing various chili varieties for years, the Dalle of Sikkim, the Bhut jolokia of Assam, the bird chilies from Goa, all of them loose the heat and unique flavour once they grow here. Many other vegetables, fruits and other crops grow well in other geographical locations but most chilies and lemons have their own reservations.

It has been an important lesson in life.

We have to travel to get the best local flavours. We can bring back some of the local goodness back home and enjoy it for a few days more so when I brought back these 2 large hill lemons from kumaon (also called as Galgal) I had to replicate the recipe that I learnt from Janhavi Prasada.

Kumaoni lemons (galgal)

I was in Nainital for the weekend for a culinary retreat at the Abbotsford Nainital, curated by EatWithIndia and Janhavi Prasada who takes care of this beautiful ancestral property of hers. I will share more about the trip but this is to share the sana hua nimbu that we relished sitting in the sun, just the way it is enjoyed by the locals during winters, as a warming snack as Janhavi informed.

I feel it is more of a immunity boosting snack for the winters when more people fall sick in hills. All the ingredients are cooling for the system except bhangira that turns it into a balanced winter snack.

recipe of sana hua nimbu

I have had other versions of sana hua nimbu earlier and all of them were good, but this family recipe of Janhavi is so good I took a 3rd helping, absolutely relished it.


ingredients 
(served 2-3 as a snack, can be served as a cold starter)

one Kumaoni lemon
2 tbsp hemp seeds (Cannabis seeds, bhangira or bhanga as known locally)
1 tsp cumin seeds
one green chili chopped
salt to taste 
3 tbsp grated jaggery
few springs of mint leaves (I used mint powder)
dash of mustard oil (optional but recommended)
3/4 cup thick yogurt

procedure 

Dry roast the bhangira seeds till they start spluttering. Add cumin seeds to the same pan and roast them together till cumin turns fragrant. Add the chopped green chili, take the pan off the stove and mix well. Wait till it gets colder, pulverise to make a powder. The bhangira has a lot of oil in it so the powder will be crumbly. Add the mint leaves and blend again. I used mint powder so this was not required.

Cut the lemon into 2 halves longitudinally. Peel off the rind and separate the segments, discarding the seeds and parchment like skin.

recipe of sana hua nimbu

Mix the lemon segments and the roasted bhangira mix, add salt to taste, jaggery, yogurt in a bowl and mix everything nicely.

Serve right away. The sana hua nimbu stays good for a couple of hours at room temperature in winters. It is a warming food that is eaten sitting in the sun. It definitely is quite nourishing in more ways, great pre and probiotic too.

recipe of sana hua nimbu

After I finished the 2 lemons I brought back, I tried this recipe with Kinnow oranges and it tasted really good. So the sana hua nimbu recipe is going to be a regular in my home, in summers it will be a nice cooling lunch if I keep the bhangira out.



Friday, February 24, 2017

when Tunday's kababs come to town


People have started wasting so much food these days, lamented Mohd. Usman, fondly known as Usman Bhai in Lucknow, when I asked him about the new experimental Mughlai foods. People want more variety so we have to cater to it but no one values food like the good old times when only 3 dishes (known as teen khana) were served for wedding feasts and that was Korma, Sheermal and Biryani. The well to do hosts served 5 dishes which was called as panch khana (five course meal), including the kababs and paratha too, which was considered as the highest limit for the commoners. Now there are hundreds of dishes served in a wedding party and there is so much wastage of food that is criminal, he rued.

Usman Bhai's words ring a bell. We are living in the age of illusionary abundance and we want more. The five dishes he talks about are seeped with the culinary tradition and the flavours embrace you in their comfort like a grandmother, a 13 course meal somehow fails in bringing that comfort zone.

Chef Moh. Usman is the grandson of the legendary Tunday Kababi and is currently in Delhi sharing his food legacy. Tunday's Galawat ke kabab are such a genius that we have been revisiting every time we are in Lucknow but when it comes to Delhi we can't afford to miss it. The spice blends are guarded and the myth is that they use 120 spices in it. Go figure.  

It is at JW Marriott New Delhi Aerocity where he is currently hosting the Tunday Kababi Festival at K3, the multi cuisine restaurant. We joined him for dinner last Friday and had our fill of Galawat ke kababs, Ulte tawe ke paranthe, Biryani, Paya Shorba and Nihari.


When I saw Usman Bhai scooping out the mutton mince mix for galwat ke kabab and casually patting it over the mahi tawa using his bare fingers, just like he does at his own place, I knew we are getting transported to Lucknow for a while. The Kababs tasted better than their own place I must add, it might be a case of better ambiance but the silken texture of the kabab held more flavours that day.

The Biryani was exactly the same flavour wise, the same aromatic subtle spicing, each grain of rice replete with the flavour of meat and the meat tender enough to become one with rice in a mouthful. Although the quality of rice was different at the hotel but it didn't make much difference to the flavours that we enjoy at the Tunday's Lucknow.

The Paya Shorba was rustic and unpretentious as it should be, the healthy concoction that it is. The Nihari too revived the taste of Lucknow, the ulte tawe ka paratha was made smaller but the right technique of making it was evident.

The specialties from Tunday's are available as a buffet spread for just a few more days, till Feb 26th so you can go and taste the authentic flavours of the famed Tunday clan. It is worth the commute to the Aerocity I must add, as its not everyday that you get to interact with a legend who wants to stick to those panch khana and keep whipping these all his life.



Tuesday, February 21, 2017

sagga pyaz ki subzi recipe | spring onion stir fry UP style


Sagga pyaz is just another name by which spring onions or hara pyaz are know as in UP, eastern Uttar Pradesh to be precise. Sagga pyaz literally means greens of onion or pyaz ka saag and even a saag (stir fried greens) type recipe made with this is known as sagga pyaz.

Spring onions start appearing in the early winters and keep coming to the markets till spring. There are many winter recipes that use spring onions and the alu hare pyaz ki subzi is one of the favourites. Carrot and spring onion paratha is another recipe we love, it is added to our everyday omelets and scrambles by the handfuls. Spring onion and potato soup is a regular too every winter, sagga pyaz ke pakode takes the cake whenever one craves for some pakodas during winters. .

sagga pyaz ki subzi

Someone was talking about sagga pyaz on Instagram when I was reminded of this subzi known as sagga pyaz, a quick stir fry that is replete with the rustic flavour of spring onion, often quite sharp when it is the spring of red onions. But it is a much loved subzi because of this sharpness for some people, we like to tone down the sharpness by adding some new potatoes of the season to sagga pyaz.

ingredients 
(serves 2-3)

400 gm spring onions, preferably small bulbs and fresh green leaves
one small poato
chopped green chillies to taste
1/2 tsp fenugreek (methi) seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric powder (optional but recommended) 
salt to taste
1 tbsp mustard oil

procedure 

Clean and chop the spring onions in small bits, keeping the white and green parts separate.

Clean and chop the potato in small bits too. No need to peel the potato if it is clean and unblemished.

Heat mustard oil, add the fenugreek seeds, chopped chillies and let them get aromatic before proceeding. Add the chopped potatoes, salt and turmeric powder and stir to mix.

Cook for 2 minutes before adding the white parts of the spring onion and cook for a couple of minutes while stirring it all.

Now add the green parts of the spring onion, mix well and cook only till the greens get wilted. The sagga pyaz subzi is done. Serve hot or warm or even at room temperature, this subzi is a great side dish for Indian thali meals.

I remember this sagga pyaz subzi used to be our lunch box meal sometimes with parathas, during the school days. I remember eating this subzi with bajre ki roti and white butter too and sometimes just rolled up in a roti to make a quick snack.

We use our subzis in so many ways if we like them.

Sagga pyaz is one of those in my home, although I have met a few people who are intolerant to the strong aroma of the onion in the spring onions and can't eat it at all. Make some sagga pyaz ki subzi if you like it, else capitalise on other greens of the winter season.




Wednesday, February 15, 2017

alu sowa ki bhujia | a warm fragrant stri fry with potatoes and dill leaves


Sowa or Soya is Dill leaves and is also known by the name of Shepu, a fragrant winter herb that is used liberally all over UP. Sowa methi is a popular combination of flavours and works great when making a sookhi subzi with alu, even the sowa methi ka paratha is so good you never get bored of this herb. But the most popular will be this alu sowa ki bhujia and even alu sowa ki subzi with minor variations.

dill leaves or sowa bhaji

We have been enjoying a lot of sowa this season too and had alu sowa in many variations. It will not be fair if I don't share all those alu sowa recipes here.

Here is the alu sowa ki bhujia to start with. It tastes great with Indian meals in general, great with plain hot parathas, dal chawal meals but you would be surprised to see the response when you serve it like a warm or even cold salad. Potato and dill salad like this can be had on its own and can become a sandwich stiffing.

alu sowa ki bhujia

Alu sowa ki bhujia 

ingredients 
(served 2-4 depending on side dishes)
2 large boiled potatoes cooled to room temperature or refrigerated
1.5 cup chopped dill leaves (1 cup is good too)
1 tbsp mustard oil
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp methi (fenugreek) seeds
chopped green chillies to taste
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
salt to taste
amchoor powder a few pinches (optional)

procedure 

Peel and cube the potatoes in bite sized pieces.

Heat oil in a pan or kadhai. Add the cumin seeds and methi seeds and wait till they turn aromatic and pinkish brown. Add in the green chillies and the cubed potatoes in quick succession. Toss and fry on low heat till the potatoes get some brown spots and get dehydrated a little.

Add salt, turmeric powder and toss and stir for a couple of minutes, add the chopped dill leaves and keep tossing and mixing till the dill leaves get wilted completely and coat the potatoes well.

Adjust seasoning.

Sprinkle amchoor powder as per taste if using.

Serve hot right away or serve it cold. It is great any which way.

The other type of alu sowa ki subzi is cooked using raw potatoes and is more of a creamy mash infused with lot of dill leaves. I use all the tender stems of dill in this version too.

Alu sowa ki subzi

ingredients 

2 medium sized potatoes peeled and cubed
1 cup chopped dill leaves
1/2 cup tender dill stems chopped roughly
chopped green chillies to taste
1 tbsp mustard oil
1/4 tsp methi (fenugreek) seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp pepper powder
salt to taste

procedure 

Heat the mustard oil and tip in the methi seeds. Wait till it becomes aromatic. Add the green chillies and cubed potatoes, mix salt and turmeric powder, cover with a filling lid and cook on low flame for 6-7 minutes or till the potatoes are cooked.

Now add the tender stems of dill, mix well, add pepper powder and cover again to cook for 2-3 minutes.

Add the dill leaves, toss and mix. Thrash with a wooden spatula a few times to make the potatoes mush up a little. The dill flavour will infuse beautifully in the potatoes. 

alu sowa ki subzi

Serve hot or cold, as a subzi or a salad or any which way you want.

Served with some grilled piri piri chicken wings we loved it for dinner last week. The leftover was used in alu paratha the next day and that was great too.

Make some alu sowa ki bhujia or alu sowa ki subzi while the season lasts. Dill freezes well in ziplock bags so you can save some of the season's bounty but the new winter potatoes cannot be saved.

Make some alu sowa now, bhujia or subzi you can decide according to your taste.



Tuesday, January 24, 2017

murgh ki tahiri | a one pot chicken and rice dish


Murgh ki tahiri or chicken tahiri is one of the comfort foods we love, sometimes more than Biryani because of the simpler flavours and the fact that the chicken tahiri is more moist than a chicken biryani.


One pot meals are a norm on my table. I love such meals because one gets the comfort of a good meal in just one dish, not much because it involves lesser work in the kitchen but the taste and warm comfort such meal bring. Our tahiris and khichdis are not so simple to cook as they sound most of the times but we love such meals for many reasons other than that.

In fact if you think of it, most one pot meals involves as much work as any other meal if you are including all major nutrient groups in one pot, especially the vegetables. You do all the chopping, you do some sauteing, tempering and whatever needed, only the ingredients are cooked in one pot. And most of the times our tahiris and khichdis are served with an appropriate raita that needs additional work but no one minds that.

ingredients
(2 servings and may be some leftover)

2 legs of chicken cut in 3 pieces each
1/4 cup of rice
1 cup of fine diced onions
1/2 cup of chopped coriander leaves (dhaniya patta) along with the stems
1/2 cup of finely chopped fenugreek (methi) leaves or a handful of crushed dry kasoori methi (optional)
1 tbsp minced ginger
1 tsp minced garlic
chopped green chilies as per taste
everyday curry powder 1 tbsp
special garam masala 1/2 tsp
turmeric powder 1/2 tsp or lesser
salt to taste
2 tbsp ghee
1 tsp cumin seeds
2-3 tejpatta (Indian bay leaves)
1 tsp lemon juice mixed with 1/4 cup water 

procedure 

Rinse the rice, drain water and keep for 10-15 minutes till you proceed with the chicken and spices.

Heat ghee in a thick base handi or stockpot. Add the cumin seeds and wait till it gets fried and aromatic. Tip in the onion, ginger and garlic and fry on low heat till it starts getting pinkish brown.

Add the fenugreek leaves or crushed dry kasoori methi if using and the chicken pieces. Keep bhunoeing (sauteing) for about 5 minutes on medium heat. Add the powder spices and salt, stir and cook some more till the spices become aromatic and the chicken looks a little glazed. Add the chopped dhaniya patta and stir to mix.

Now add a cup of water and let the chicken cook covered for 10 minutes. Heat a griddle on the other side of gas stove in the meanwhile.

Add the rice and the lemon juice mixed with water, mix well and cover the pot tightly. Place the hot griddle under the tahiri pot and let it cook on very low flame for 10-12 minutes. Switch off the flame and let the pot sit for another 10 minutes before you open and serve the chicken tahiri steaming hot.


It tastes best with raw onion and pomegranate raita but you can make cucumber raita or any other raita you like. We like it even with a kachumber salad of tomatoes and onions and may be some flame roasted papad too. In fact the chicken tahiri can have many side dishes on the table, have it as simple as you wish or make it elaborate with as many side dishes you wish to have with it.

Chicken tahiri or murgh tahiri will never fail to comfort you warmly and softly like a grandmother. Trust me.

We had it for dinner last month sometime between our back to back travels and the pictures were taken in a hurry to document it. Otherwise I have rarely been able to click pictures of our tahiri meals although we have tahiri quite often.




Thursday, January 19, 2017

sagpaita recipe | urad dal aur palak ka sagpaita


Sagpaita is simply a dal cooked with winter greens. As I mentioned in the bathue ka sagpaita recipe, dals are rarely cooked without greens in winters. Many times the dals are replaced by the various nimonas and sometimes people even replace the everyday dal with rajma or chhole to be had with plain boiled rice. Those are some of the comfort foods for many of us and rajma chawal, chhole chawal, nimona chawal or sagpaita chawal kind of meals bring back the memories from childhood till date.

Urad dal (black lentils) are consumed a lot during winters for all traditional recipes of khichdi, dals and of course the badas and badis of different types.

urad dal (split  black beans)

Mung and masoor are the easily digestible dals chosen for summer meals while chana dal and urad dal are common winter foods. Other dals also keep featuring in various permutation combinations and there are various names for all the dals we eat. A cook's prowess is often measured by how well he/she cooks a dal and there are many old kahavats (sayings) featuring the humble dal, it can be such a homely dish that can be adapted to just about anything.

We used split urad dal with skin for this recipe of urad dal ka nimona and the common greens used for this are spinach, bathua of chenopodium, or a mix of all seasonal greens, each one imparting a new dimension to this sagpaita. I often add a handful of tender carrot leaves or spring onion greens to add more flavour to the sagpaita.

urad dal ka sagpaita

Feel free to add any greens you like but spinach or bathua taste the best with a little added carrot leaves, spring onion, dill leaves or even a bit of fenugreek leaves.

ingredients 
(3-4 servings)

1/3 cup split urad dal with skin (as shown in the picture above), rinse and let it soak for 15 minutes
salt to taste
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp grated or minced ginger
2 cups of cleaned and chopped spinach leaves (about 300 gm)
3/4 cup of chopped spring onion or dill leaves or fenugreek leaves ( I used spring onion here)

for tempering
1 tbsp ghee or a little more if you wish
pinch of asafoetida
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp chopped garlic
1/4 cup finely chopped onions
1/4 cup chopped ripe tomatoes (preferably desi, I don't use tomatoes many times)
1 tsp everyday curry powder
red chili powder to taste

procedure 

Pressure cook the split urad dal with salt, turmeric powder, ginger and a cup of water. It takes about 10 minutes after the first whistle. Lower the heat after the first whistle to let the dal cook. Let the pressure release on its own.

In the meanwhile prepare for the tadka and you can cook the rice etc to go with the dal.

Open the lid of the pressure cooker and add all the chopped greens, mix well and place the lid back. The greens will get cooked in the remaining heat.

For the tadka, heat the ghee in a pan, add the asafoetida, cumin seeds, garlic and onions in that order, waiting in between to let the aromas infuse in the oil. Brown the onions lightly.

Add the curry powder as soon as the onions brown, mix quickly and dunk the chopped tomatoes in it. Add a little salt and cover to cook the tomatoes thoroughly on low heat. This takes about 4-5 minutes.

Now pour the dal and greens mix to the tadka pan, mix well, add some water to adjust consistency and simmer for a couple of minutes before serving.

urad dal ka sagpaita

This sagpaita tastes really good with plain boiled rice and makes hot comfort food in winters. I always remember eating hot dal chawal in a bowl and I still do that. Now I have huge breakfast mugs that I use for me soup meals o dal chawal meals, sagpaita and chawal meals also come in the same category. You really don't need anything else with this sagpaita and rice meal but the traditional bhujias, roasted papad and raita etc are pleasant additions always.

Sometimes I add lot of tomatoes and some green peas too in the tadka and cook them thoroughly before adding to the sagpaita. Variations always feel good in such everyday recipes and sometimes leftover dals can also be turned into sagpaita with just the tadka and some tomatoes and winter greens added.

urad dal ka sagpaita

It always feels good to cook something our grandparents have been eating and most certainly their grandparents ate the same too. It is in the last 2-3 decades that our food habits have changed so much that many of us have forgotten cooking from scratch, using real ingredients and not sauces, mixes and blends.

My motive is to bring back the food wisdom on the table everyday. We need to realise that simpler foods are the tastiest and stay in our memory for ever. A curry loaded with a hundred spices gets lost in the memory lanes. Try recollecting your food memories and you will know what I mean. 


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

recipe of shakarkandi ki kheer : a rich creamy dessert with taste of roasted sweet potatoes


Shakarkandi (sweet potato) ki kheer is a recipe I don't cook much but whenever I do I make it a point to do it the way I like. Yes I don't eat desserts much but if a dessert has some character that has imprinted in my mind I keep reviving my memories at least every few years if not every season.

In the case of shakarkandi ki kheer it is the roasted flavour of the shakarkandi that I love and I found a trick many years ago to bring the roasted flavour to the kheer. It is simple and yet makes a world of difference from the regular shakarkandi ki kheer.

shakarkandi ki kheer

The shakarkandi ka halwa is not my favourite but shakarkandi ke roth I love since childhood. This kheer made of shakarkandi has been much preferred over shakarkandi wali rabdi which is a lighter rabdi, although I don't make desserts everyday. Sweet potato hash browns are my type.

Also I prefer desserts that don't use much sugar or use a bit of jaggery and preferably made with sweet fruits or sweet potatoes as in this case. If you reduce milk slowly the subtle sweetness is enough along with the natural sweetness of sweet potatoes in this shakarkandi ki kheer.

I suggest you try this recipe without using any sugar and see how the rich multilayered natural sweetness of the ingredients shines through in the absence of sugar. If we add sugar it overpowers the subtle sweetness of milk and sweet potato combined. If you feel like adding sugar you can always keep some thick syrup ready to be added in the last moment. I bet you wont need that if you really like the roasted flavour of the sweet potatoes..

sweet potatoes

ingredients 
(2-3 servings, depending on portion size)

one medium sized sweet potato (about 150 gm)
500 ml milk (full fat, I used 7% fat)
some chopped nuts for garnish

procedure 

Simmer the milk in a thick base pan till it reduces to about 200 ml.

Meanwhile, peel the sweet potato using the thin side of the grater. Place the grated sweet potatoes in another thick base pan, sprinkle with 1 tbsp water, cover and cook on very low heat for about 7-8 minutes or till you get a roasted sweet potato aroma.

You will find the grated sweet potato sticking to the bottom of pan and getting reddish brown, that is a desirable step of the recipe as it brings in the much desired flavour. This is the trick to get that roasted sweet potato flavour in the kheer, let it stick to the bottom of the pan in a controlled way and see how it makes a difference.

Take care to use a really small pan for such a small quantity as a large pan may alter the cooking time. Using cast iron or anodised Aluminium pan works better.

By the time the sweet potatoes are cooked and aromatic the milk will be reduced suitably, add the cooked sweet potato to the reduce milk and let it simmer for a couple of minutes together or till you get a desired consistency.


shakarkandi ki kheer

Chill and serve with chopped nuts on top. You will not need any sweetener in this recipe I promise.

Do let me know when you make this shakarkandi ki kheer, and whether you liked it.

I have seen even kids loving it without realising it is a dessert without sugar. The roasted flavour of the sweet potato is a great help in bringing out the natural sweetness of the ingredients.

Caramelisation of the natural sugars in food they say.







Thursday, January 12, 2017

kale til ka tilkut | black sesame and jaggery balls spiced with ginger


Kale til ka tilkut (black sesame and jaggery balls) was an annual affair in my home and how eagerly we used to wait for it. This kale til ka tilkut is traditionally made for a festival called Sankashti Chaturthi, Sakat Chaturthi or Sankashti Ganesh Chaturthi which comes in January and the tilkut or til modak is offered as prasad to Ganeshji.

It is considered that Ganeshji makes one free of all sankat (bad times) if you do this puja. Sankashti Chaturthi this year (2017) falls on 15th of January.

None of us siblings were ever interested in any sorts of puja but as soon as we would get a whiff of the kale til ka tilkut being made we used to get hungry just for this.

kale til ka tilkut recipe

Making this kale til ka tilkut used to be a whole day affair. My mother used to wash and clean the black sesame seeds, then sun dry it a couple of days ahead of Sakat Chaturthi when she used to fast the whole day.

On the day of puja she would pound the black sesame seeds in the huge iron mortar and pestle, once the sesame seeds were almost powdered she will add jaggery and ginger to the same mortar and pestle and pound some more, till the mixture starts coming together like a sticky ball. The mixture was empties in a wide thali later and mixed with ghee before shaping it into small balls of tilkut. This special tilkut remains quite sticky because raw jagerry melts while it is pounded along with black sesame that releases some oil, then some ghee is also added. But the specialty if the kale til ka tilkut is this stickiness that makes the balls get shapeless by the time puja is done and we get prasad.

How wonderful such prasad traditions are. Even if these traditions are followed only once a year they make sure people keep believing in eating these seasonal ingredients every year. Black sesame, jaggery, ginger and ghee together make a great combination of nutrients just right for winters. This tilkut is great remedy for joint inflammations in elderly and great nourishing food for growing kids.   

kale til ka tilkut recipe

No one seems to be making these old recipes now as they take too much time or may be no one likes these kind of foods any more? I am not sure because whenever I share these with someone they always seem to love these kind of foods.

Well, I made the recipe of the tilkut simpler. Actually I could have made it simpler in those days too as we used to help mother pound it all in the mortar and pestle back then but the whole affair of doing things on a slow pace had a charm in that big family of ours.

Now I can't think of finding so much time to do things on slow pace. So I took an hour or so to make these kale til ke tilkut this year to revive my memories of that forgotten taste. Yes I took the help of my trusted mixie.

ingredients 

300 gm black sesame cleaned
450 gm jaggery chopped or grated
75 gm fresh ginger grated
2 tbsp or 60 gm ghee

kale til ka tilkut recipe

procedure 

Sun dry the sesame seeds completely or heat them up in the oven. To heat them in the oven just spread on a baking tray and heat it for 10 minutes at 200 C. Alternately dry roast in a thick base kadhai for 5 minutes. Cool down before processing in the mixie.

Empty the sesame in a large mixie jar. It is better to work in 2 batches if you have a small jar.

Grind the sesame till powdered. Add the chopped jaggery and grated ginger and pulse the mixie at shot intervals till everything mixes well. Add ghee and pulse one more time to mix.

kale til ka tilkut recipe

Some bits of jaggery and ghee are desired in this mix.

Scoop out from the mixie jar and shape balls. These will be very soft balls and loose shape if kept together. But the tilkut balls get harder the next day as the temperature in winters is quite cold.

It is advisable to store these tilkut modaks in one layer so I used a two tier steel dabba for storage.

kale til ka tilkut recipe

It is better not to pile up these tilkuts because they tend to clump together owing to the stickiness. Bite into this sticky mess and you would know what heaven it is.

This tilkut was such a favourite of all of us that we used to get upset stomach after sakat chaturthi almost every year. For some reason I couldn't eat more than one tilkut when I made this batch. There is no fun eating such things alone, a family full of siblings is a thing to cherish.


Sunday, January 8, 2017

sagpaita recipe | bathua wala sagpaita


When winter greens are cooked with dals (lentils) the preparation is called as sagpaita in UP homes. Dals are rarely cooked without greens during winters and the use of hing (asafoetida) and garlic is generous to keep it warming and curb bloating.


Winter food in Indian kitchens is all about relishing the fresh produce in abundance. Especially the leafy greens that come during winters are used in thousand different ways and there is a recipe suitable of every meal and snack time. The everyday dal always has some leafy greens added, a generous tadka of hing and garlic makes sure the excessive intake of greens is digested well, those who avoid garlic add a little more hing to the tadka.

This bathue wala sagpaita or arhar dal cooked with bathua (chenopodium greens) is something we look forward to in every winter. Bathua is a delicious saag (leafy green) that we use for parathas, raita, kadhi, chokha, saag or bhujia type preparations, this dal is also one of the popular recipes that is made in many homes across UP. 

ingredients
(2 servings)

cleaned and washed bathue ka saag 300 gm
arhar dal (split pigeon peas) 50 gm
masoor dal (red lentils) 50 gm
salt to taste 
turmeric powder 1 tsp
chopped onion 1/4 cup
chopped tomatoes 1/2 cup
minced garlic 2 tsp
hing a pinch
cumin seeds 1 tsp
red chili powder to taste 
ghee 1 tbsp

procedure 

Rinse the lentils and soak for 30 minutes. Pressure cook the dal mix with salt and turmeric, along with 1 cup of water. It needs about 8-10 minutes after the first whistle. Cool down to release pressure before proceeding.

Meanwhile chop and bathua finely.Add the bathua to the cooked dal once you open the cooker. If cooking the dal in a pan you can add the bathua once the dal is cooked through.

Prepare the tadka by heating the ghee. Add hing, cumin seeds and garlic in that order, waiting for each ingredient to turn aromatic before adding the next. Add the chopped onions and fry till pinkish. Add the tomatoes and a little salt, fry and cook till tomatoes get completely mushy. 

Add this tadka to the cooked dal and bathua mix. Adjust the consistency by adding water if needed, stir and mix, simmer for a couple of minutes before serving.

The dal is not rich and doesn't look so. It doesn't need any garnish but a dollop of ghee is added to each portion after serving. It tastes great with plain boiled rice and some bhujia type subzi