Amritsari wadiyan aloo subzi ; Potatoes with dried lentil dumplings curry

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Lentils are a very important source of proteins for the vegetarians. They can be cooked in a myriad of ways starting from appetizers , main course, side dish, or desserts. Each part of the country has their own style of preparing them.

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“Wadis” are ground lentils, that are spiced, made into balls and sun dried. They are then stored in air tight containers for a long period of time. The time of the year when the vegetables are scarce, or a day when the grocery is yet to be done, these come as saviours. The town of Amritsar in Punjab is associated with making these Wadis, hence the name.

Onion and garlic are an integral part of the recipe. I have modified it to a no onion garlic recipe, using only ginger and tomatoes.

Here is the recipe.

Recipe; Serves four as main or six as side dish.

Ingredients;

Wadis ( Store bought )                                8-10

Potatoes cut in wedges                              2 cups

Heeng ( asafoetida )                                   1/4 tsp

Jeera ( Cumin seeds )                                1 tsp

Canola oil                                                  4 Tbsp

Ginger puree                                             2 tbsps

Tomato puree                                            4 Tbsps

Turmeric powder                                        1/2 tsp

Paprika                                                     1 tsp

Red chilli powder                                      1/2 tsp

Jeera powder                                            1 tsp

Salt                                                            to taste

Cilantro  ( chopped )                                    1 Tbsp

Method;

Take 2 tbsp of canola oil in a non stick pan on medium high heat. Add the wadis. Fry, changing sides till they get a reddish colour. Collect them on kitchen towel and keep aside.

Take the rest of the oil in the pan on medium heat, add the heeng and jeera seeds, saute for half a minute or till the seeds change to slightly darker colour.

Add the potatoes, turmeric powder, salt. Cover and cook till the potatoes are almost done. Add the ginger paste, saute for a couple minutes, add the chilli powder, paprika, jeera powder and some water. Cook, stirring often so that the spices do not catch the bottom of the pan. When you see the oil leaving the spices add the tomato puree, the wadis and two cups of water. Let it all come together, the wadis absorb lot of water, so depending upon how much gravy you desire, add water. Using the spatula break the wadis into smaller pieces which is easy to do now. Check to see if the potatoes are done, adjust salt if needed. Garnish with cilantro.

Serve it with a side of either rice or roti.

Enjoy.

Green beans dhokli ; Beans with chick pea flour pasta : GF option

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I love highlighting the amazing array of vegetarian dishes that are available in Indian cuisine. Most of them are gluten free too.

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“Dhokli’ is a small pasta made from chick pea flour. I have added a little bit of whole wheat flour, but this can easily be replaced by millet or other gluten free flour.

I am quite new to this dish which comes from the far western state of Gujrat. Traditionally  this is done with cluster beans, I have replaced it with french beans. Also the pastas are usually shaped as small discs. I had my malloreddu maker from my Rome visit, which I thought of putting to good use.

This can be an excellent side dish, either with roti or rice. With a beautiful balance between sweet, sour and salty this dish has a great flavour. The fiery red colour comes from the paprika and not red chillies.

Recipe: Serves 6 as a side dish.

Ingredients

Beans, cut in 1 inch pieces                               3 cups

Tomatoes                                                         3, pureed

Canola oil                                                         3. tbsp

Asafoetida                                                       1/2 tsp

Garllic cloves                                                    4-5

Ajwain ( carrom seeds )                                     1/2 tsp

Curry leaves                                                      6-7

Ghee                                                                   1 Tbsp

Jaggery                                                               1 tsp

Sev to garnish                                                      1 Tbsp

For the dhokli;

Chick pea flour              1 cup

Whole wheat flour                   1 tbsp

Turmeric powder                      1/4 tsp

Heeng ( asafoetida )                 1/4 tsp

Red chliiy powder                      1/2 tsp

Salt                                             1/2 tsp or to taste

Kasuri methi                                1/2 tbsp

Baking soda                                  1 pinch

Lemon juice                                   1 tsp

Oil                                                   1/2 tsp

Warm water                                       as needed

Jaggery powder                             1/2 tsp

Method:

Mix all the ingredients under Dhokli together to form a dough. brush with a bit of oil. Cover and let stand for 20 minutes.

I have used frozen beans, Take a pan of hot water, bring it to boil on high heat. Throw the beans in it, cook for about 7-8 minutes. Take the beans out of the water and soak them in ice cold water.

Take the above dough, make small pieces about 1 tsp full of dough and make them into disc. I gave this fancy shape, just because.

Take a deep bottomed pan, add the oil, when it heats up, throw in heeng, stir for a few seconds till a nutty aroma comes out, add the curry leaves, ajwain, turmeric powder, paprika crushed garlic, cumin and coriander powder. Keep stirring for about 5-6 minutes over medium flame, if needed sprinkle some water. Add 2 cups of hot water and the dhoklis. Add the salt, cover and cook for 10-12 minutes. Add the tomato puree, jaggery powder.  Cook for another 3-4 minutes.Put the gas off. Add the ghee.

Garnish with sev ( available in Indian grocery store, Walmart, Superstore).

Enjoy with rotis or rice.

 

Kumror chhakka : Pumpkin sixer

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“Why is it called a Chhakka , ma?”, asked my ten year old son quite a few summers back. I must say I was caught off guard and did not have a proper answer for him. After all why is it called a ” Chhakka”? Now as we know that Chhakka or sixer is a score, be it in a game of cricket or ludo.

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For those of you unfamiliar with the above games, it is like an ace score, a home run? And why not, in the culinary world the sweet pumpkin with a few choice spices takes this very homey dish to an ” ace” for sure.

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What ever the story, this is like a comfort food in our household. A few pooris and “kumror Chhakka ” can be a Sunday breakfast, or with some rice it is an excellent side.

Give it a try friends. Here is the recipe,

Recipe; Adapted from Bong mom’s cookbook with some changes.

Serves four as a side.

ingredients’

Pumpkin cut in cubed  ( I used frozen )                   2 cups

Potatoes cut in 1/2 inch cube                                1 cup

Kala Chana ( cooked )                                           1/3 cup

Fenugreek seeds                                                  1/2 tsp

Asafoetida ( heeng )                                             1/4 tap

Dry red chillies                                                     2-3

Grated ginger                                                     1 tsp

Cumin powder                                                   1/2 tsp

Coriander powder                                               1/2 tsp

Turmeric powder                                                 1/2 tsp

Green chillies                                                        2-3

Jaggery powder                                                  1 tsp

Ghee                                                                   1/2 tsp

Garam masala                                                     1/4 tsp

Salt to taste

Canola oil                                                            2 Tbsp

Method;

Dry roast the cumin and coriander powder.

Take the canola oil in a wok on medium high heat. Add the fenugreek seeds, heeng and dry red chillies. Saute for about ten seconds, throw in the potatoes. Add turmeric powder and fry till golden. Add the cumin and coriander powder, grated ginger, couple slit green chillies. Sprinkle a bit of water so that the spices do not get burnt.

Add the squash pieces. Saute for a few minutes, add the salt and jaggery. Cover and cook till done. Add the cooked  kala chana. Throw in the ghee and garam masala. Put the gas off. Keep it covered for few minutes.

Enjoy with rice or pooris.

 

 

Chochori: Sauteed vegetables

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IMG_1649I remember my teenage daughter ask me one time, what does “Chochori”, mean? Now as we know it is a very homey, dish of sauteed vegetables. Remember the day you clean the fridge? You find the leftover beans, half cauliflower, the eggplant threatening to dry up if not used that day, that is when you start making Chochori.

That is all true. But that still doesn’t account for the name. Well such is the nature of Chochori that it welcomes all kinds of veggies. The firm ones like potatoes, carrots, the medium ones like beans, cauliflowers, soft ones like squashes, eggplants. There are a few must haves though like the stems of the cauliflower, I include celery sticks if I happen to have them. I strongly believe this is where the name comes from, Think about the noise it makes when you chew on these stems…..

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On a serious note, Chochori has a secured a soft spot in the Bengali heart. It is an excellent way of getting the required  quota of vegetable for the day. Be generous with the mustard oil though. After all, the success of Chochori depends heavily on ‘the runny nose” feeling from the  strong  smell of  ‘First pressed” mustard oil.

Recipe: Serves 6 as a side.

Try to have a medley of the firm, softer and very soft veggies.

Potato cut in thick julienne                                   1 cup

Carrots cut similarly                                             1 cup

Cauliflower florets                                                 1 cup

Eggplants cut in julienne                                       1 cup

Squash cut as above                                            1 cup

Cauliflower stem, celery stick cut similar                  1 cup

Mustard oil                                                            4 tbsp

Mustard powder                                                   1 tbsp

Salt to taste

Jaggery                                                               1 tbsp

Five spice                                                             1 tsp

Dry red chilly                                                           1

Turmeric powder                                                     1/2 tsp

Method,

In a microwave safe bowl put the stems and celery and cook for 5 minutes.

In a wok add 2 tbsp mustard oil on high heat. Add the five spice and chilly, saute till it changes colour. Add the firm veggies like potato and carrot, saute for few minutes. Next add the cauliflower florets and stems and beans, cook for few minutes, finally add the eggplant and squash. Add salt, jaggery, turmeric powder, cover and cook till the veggies are done. No water is added, careful that the veggies do not burn, a few sprinkle of water if needed .

When the veggies are all cooked add the mustard powder. Mix everything together. Finish off by adding the 2 tbsp of mustard oil.

Tweak to your taste. This dish gives a lot of leeway, to adjust to your taste.

Goes well with plain white rice.

Note: Five spice a very typical Bengali mixture of equal amounts of Nigella seeds, Cumin seeds, Fenugreek seeds, Mustard and Fennel seeds.

Gatte ke subzi : Vegetarian sausage curry; GF

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IMG_1451Rajasthan in India is a province which has desert like climate. With very little rainfall, there is a scarcity of fresh produce. The local cuisine has evolved around it, relying less on vegetables, but managing the protein etc intake from alternative sources.

IMG_1442“Gatte  ke Subzi” is one such special dish from Rajasthan. Chick pea flour is kneaded with a variesty of spices into these locks, which are then boiled and fried gently.

IMG_1443These are made into a curry, which can be enjoyed either with piping hot rice or handmade rotis or flatbrads.

IMG_1445I must admit I am fairly new to this curry, was introduced to this only in my adult life. Look at the versatility of the use of legume and beans in Indian cooking. Not only are they used to make Dals, or salads, but grind them in powder, make them in “Gatte”, or shape them round to make sun dried :Vadi:, or even roll them paper thin into Papad:. The possibilities are endless.

IMG_1457Recipe: Serves 4 as a side dish.

Ingredients;

For the Gatta (Sausage ),

Besan ( chick pea flour )                                              1cup

Cumin seeds                                                               1/2 tsp

Aniseeds ( saunf )                                                         1/4 tsp

Carom seeds ( ajwain )                                                 1/2 tsp

Coriander ( dhania ) seeds                                            1/4 tsp

Turmeric powder                                                           1/4 tsp

Red chiily powder                                                           1/4 tsp

Salt                                                                                 1 tsp

Ghee                                                                               1 tbsp

Oil                                                                                     1 tbsp

Water                                                                                 2 tbsp

Yoghurt                                                                              3 tbsp

For the gravy;

Cumin seeds                                                                   1 tsp

asafoetida ( heeng )                                                          1/4 tsp

Dried red chilly                                                                  2

Ginger grated                                                                    1 tsp

Tomato                                                                              2, made into puree

Turmeric powder                                                                 1/2 tsp

Coriander powder                                                               11/2 tsp

Red chillly powder                                                              1 tsp

Yoghurt                                                                              2 Tbsp

Kasuri methi ( dried fenugreek leaves )                               1 tbsp

Cilantro                                                                             1 tsp

Method:

For the Gatte,

Coarse grind the seeds. In a bowl take the besan, add the crushed seeds, all the powders as listed, ghee, salt, oil and yoghurt. Mix with greased hands then add water little by little to make it into a nice dough. Let it sit for 10 minutes. Knead a few more times with greased hand and cut in four balls. Shape each one into cylinders, like in the picture above, about 4 inches long.

In a sauce pan bring a litre of water to a rolling boil. Add the locks one by one.  Let it cook for 10-12 minutes. these will rise up and have blisters on its skin. Put the gas off. Collect these, let it cool. Cut them in half inch pieces and fry them in very hot oil for about two minutes. Collect on kitchen towel. Save the boiled water for gravy.

For the gravy,

Take 2 tbsp oil in a pan on high heat. Add the dry chilly, cumin seeds and heeng, saute till the cumin seeds get a light colour. Add the ginger paste, saute for another minute. Add the tomato puree, turmeric, red chilly powder, coriander powder and add about 2 tbsp of the saved boiled water from before. Crank the heat down to medium high and keep stirring until all the water evaporates. Bring the heat down to low now. Add the whisked yoghurt and keep stirring for 3-4 minutes. Add the rest of the saved boiled water , salt and the fried “Gatte”pieces. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Garnish with Kasuri methi and cilantro.

Serve with rice or roti.

I feel we should be able to freeze the fried Gatte pieces. This will give a head start for the day of, cook the gravy and throw these in and bring it to boil.

 

Skinless moong beans with bottle gourd: Moong dal with lauki

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IMG_1269In a matter of weeks, the world has turned upside down. Who would have thought that we would witness this pandemic first hand. Countries are in lockdown, social distancing is the key word of late.

We are all mindful of the food we cook for our family. Something that can be put together easily without pinching the pocket, that will be healthy and will mostly use pantry staples.

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Dal aka lentils or beans are a must in any Indian pantry. These are rich in proteins, the skin on ones are extra high in fibre, not mega pricey, making them a staple food for the masses.

There are innumerable ways to cook Dal. It could be spicy or bland, sweetish or sweet and sour. Throw in some seasonal vegetables, it can be an almost one pot meal with a side of either rice or bread.

IMG_1271 Today”s recipe is one that uses minimum spices, the bottle gourd adds extra nutrients, elevating this homey dish to a five star one.

When goings are tough don’t we all look for something like this?

Recipe; Serves 4 as side.

Ingredients;

Skinless moong dal                                                  one cup

Bottle gourd                                                             one medium

Cooking oil                                                               1 Tbsp

Ghee                                                                         11/2 Tbsp

Grated ginger                                                            1 Tbsp

Turmeric powder                                                        1 tsp

Cumin seeds                                                               1 tsp

Salt to taste

Dried red chillies                                                            2

Green chillies                                                                 2 sliced ( optional )

Jaggery                                                                           1 tsp

Method;

Dry roast the moong dal on medium heat till very lightly coloured, add the oil and fry for another minute. Add a cup of water, cook till half done. Add water as needed, the dish is neither runny nor solid.

Wash the bottle gourd and cut in thin slices ( about half a cm ). Throw in these to the half cooked dal, also add the turmeric powder, jaggery and grated ginger, salt, green chillies and continue cooking till the gourd and dal are cooked, not mushy. Both the dal and gourd should hold shape. Put the gas off.

In a separate pan, heat the ghee, when hot throw in the dried red chillies, cumin seeds, wait till it gets light brown in colour, add this on to the dal.

Adjust salt to taste and enjoy with rice.

 

Sauteed Amaranth leaves: Notey shaag

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There are foods, and then there are superfoods. With a storehouse of phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibres, Amaranth leaves belong to the superfood family.

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Cooked in salads, soups, stews there are so many ways of enjoying these leaves. In Bengali cooking gentle sauteing  the Notey shaag with minimum spices is common. Served as a first course, it is enjoyed with a side of warm rice.

Here is the recipe of these humble Amaranth leaves.

How do you cook these leaves? Would love to hear from you. Leave a comment for me below. Thank you.

Recipe: Serves 4

Ingredients

Amaranth leaves                           500 gms

Mustard oil                                  3 tbsps

Nigella seeds                             1 tsp

Dried red chillies                          2

Fresh green chiliies                      2

Garlic pods (Sliced)                      3

Salt                                            to taste

Method ;

Wash the leaves thoroughly and chop them fine. Take the mustard oil in a deep bottomed pan on high heat. Add the nigella seeds, dried red chillies, saute for a few seconds and then add the green chillies and slices of garlic. saute again for a few seconds, making sure not to burn the garlic slices.Throw the leaves in, cover and cook for about 7 to 8 minutes till done. Sprinkle salt, give it a nice mix.

Enjoy with hot rice and a side of mustard sauce aka kasundi.