Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Methi nu thepla- Fenugreek flat bread


The thepla is a quintessential Gujarati dish. This flat bread can be a part of the regular meal or a snack. The theplas are great for lunch boxes or for picnics as well. Now aren't theplas versatile?


Unlike the Parathas, the theplas are not thick and they don't come with a stuffing. In methi nu thepla, The fenugreek leaves and the spices are mixed along with flours to make a firm dough. The use of the robust herbs and the spices makes this flat bread extremely flavorful and aromatic. 



The recipe of thepla has many versions. But this recipe was given to me by a Gujarati lady who owns a sweet shop. Apart from the mind boggling varieties of sweets she also sells savory snacks like dhoklas, kachoris and theplas. Although I love the kaju katlis and dhoklas she has to offer, it is the theplas that I am slightly partial to. The theplas she makes are barely 4" in diameter but they are soft and melts in the mouth. They are so delicious that I couldn't help but ask her for the recipe. And she gave it out. Just like that. Isn't that sweet? 



These aromatic flat breads are a favorite with Both S and Purvi and that in itself makes me happy. Since these flat breads are filled with nutrient rich ingredients, I can be assured of wholesome goodness on my table.


Methi nu thepla recipe:
Preparation time: 10min+resting time
Cooking time- 15mins
Makes- approximately 8-10 theplas

Ingredients:
Whole wheat flour- 2cups+more for dusting
Gram flour or besan- 1tbsp*(see notes)
Finely chopped Fenugreek leaves- 1/2 cup
Finely chopped coriander leaves- 1tbsp (optional)
Yogurt- 2tbsp
Turmeric powder- 1/4tsp
Red chili powder- 1/2tsp
Salt to taste
Asafetida- a large pinch
Oil for the dough- 2tbsp
Ghee or oil to shallow fry the thepla- as required

Method:

  • In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients from whole wheat flour to asafetida and mix well.
  • Add water little by little knead into a firm dough. Smear the 2tbsps of oil over the dough. Cover and set aside to rest for 30min.
  • Divide the dough into 8-10 portions and roll each portion into 6-7" diameter circle using wheat flour for dusting.
  • Heat a girdle and place it on the girdle. After a few seconds, you will see small bulges appear on the thepla. At this point, Smear some ghee or oil and flip the thepla using a spatula. Smear some ghee or oil on the flipped side and cook till brown spots appear on both sides.
  • Repeat the process with the rest of the dough. These theplas can be enjoyed as is or it can be served with mango pickle and curds. 
Note:
  • The consistency of the dough should be a little firmer than the phulka or chapati dough.
  • I have used the gram flour in the recipe. But you can exclude the same if you are not consuming the theplas right away.
  • Using ghee to shallow fry increases the tastes as well the shelf life of the theplas.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Restaurant style Chili paneer


If there is one thing that we order every time we eat out, it is the chili paneer. This is one dish that is a favorite with both adults and children alike. A fusion, Indo-chinese dish that can be made dry or with gravy. The dry version can be had as a starter or appetizer. The gravy version however, is more of a side dish. And it goes exceptionally well with fried rice and noodles.



A couple of years back, I used to make chili paneer during every weekend. But after Purvi's birth, I somehow stopped making it. Maybe, it was because we were so used to eating the lip smacking chili paneer in our favorite restaurant. Who would want to toil in front of the stove when your favorite dish is just a phone call away. But off late, I have become wary of chili paneer from the restaurant. I am not saying that it doesn't taste good anymore. It tastes just as great. However, it leaves us feeling bloated and uncomfortably heavy. I am not sure if it was the saturated fat that is used or the ajinomoto. Both of which are extremely harmful. As a mother, I couldn't watch Purvi eat her favorite chili Paneer which was filled with unhealthy stuff. That was when I decided to start making the chili Paneer at home again.


My version of chili paneer tastes just like one that is served in restaurants, but it was way healthier. I decided to shallow fry the paneer in sesame oil as shallow frying provided the same texture. I also skipped the Ajinomoto. The sesame oil lends a nutty and authentic chinese flavor to the dish and it made the chili paneer absolutely delectable. 


I served this chili paneer to Purvi and her best friend and both girls absolutely loved it. It was heart warming to see them gulp down the dish with exclamations of YUM!!! in-between.


Chili Paneer recipe:
Preparation time: 20min+marination time
Cooking time: 20min
Serves- 4

Ingredients:
All purpose flour- 2tbsp
Corn flour- 2tbsp
Salt- 1/2tsp
Freshly ground black pepper powder- 1/2tsp
Paneer- 400gms, cubed
Sesame oil or any other oil- 2tsbp+more for shallow frying
Butter- 1tbsp
Garlic- 3cloves, chopped fine
Salt to taste
Shallots- 6-8, peeled and quartered
Green chilies- 4-5, chopped fine
Green bell pepper- 1 med sized, deseeded and cubed
Salt to taste
Black pepper powder- 1/2tsp
Sugar- 1/2tsp
Soya sauce- 1tbsp
Rice vinegar- 1tsp
Water- 2tbsp
Spring onion greens- 1tbsp to garnish

Method:
  • Mix the plain flour, corn flour, salt and pepper in a bowl. Add a few tbsps of water to make a thick paste. Dunk the cubed paneer in the batter and let it stand for 30mins. 
  • Shallow fry the marinated paneer in oil till the paneer is crisp and brown and set aside.
  • Heat 2 tbsp of oil and butter in a separate pan and add the chopped garlic and fry for a min. 
  • Stir In  the chopped shallots, green chilies and bell pepper and fry for 2-3mins. 
  • Add the salt, pepper, soya sauce and vinegar and fry for a min. 
  • Add 2 tbsp of water and the fried paneer, mix well and simmer for couple of minutes. Garnish with spring onion greens and serve immediately.
Notes:
  • The sesame oil can be replaced with any other oil. But sesame oil lends a unique nutty flavor to the dish.
  • The paneer can be replaced with equal quantity of hard tofu for a vegan version.
  • If you like your chili paneer to be more gravy like, then add one-third cup of water or stock. And add a paste one tbsp of corn flour mixed with two tbsp of water to thicken the gravy.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Sabudaana vada- Tapioca fritters


Today I want to share the recipe for one of my favorite snacks- The sabudana vada. These fritters were one of the first few dishes I learnt to make after marriage. I had first tasted these vadas at a friend's place and I had instantly fallen in love with it. My friend was sweet enough to give the recipe to me. From then on, I have been making these vadas from time to time.



The sabudaana vada is a quintessential Maharashtrian dish that is served during Navaratri, dussehra or during Ekadashi. But these fritters are so delicious that they can be enjoyed during anytime of the year or day. All you need is a hot cup of tea or coffee on the side and I bet you can't stop at one.


These fritters come with a myriad of textures. It has a crunchy exterior and a soft, chewy interior. And then there are these crunchy peanut bits that punctuate every bite. This wonderful crunchy texture and the invigorating flavors of this vada, makes it difficult to stop with one serving.


Even though, these vadas are delicious, there is a flip side to it. These vadas tend to soak up a lot of oil. To avoid the retention of oil, ensure that you use proven sago pearls of good quality. Also, make sure to fry the vadas on med high flame. This ensures that the fritters are not soggy from the inside. If you pay attention to these little details you can be rest assured that your vadas will turn out delicious and addictive.


Sabudaana vada recipe:
Preparation time: 25min+ soaking time
Cooking time: 15mins
Makes- approximately 20-25 fritters

Ingredients:
Sabudaana or tapioca pearls- 1-1/2 cups or 200gms
Potatoes- 2 small, boiled and peeled
Peanuts- 3tbsps, lightly roasted and coarsely powdered
Green chilies- 2, finely chopped
Chili flakes- 1/2 tsp (optional)
Coriander leaves- 3tbsps, finely chopped
Salt to taste
Cumin seeds- 1tsp
Rice flour- 2tbsp
Oil for deep frying


Method:

  • Wash the sago pearls in several changes of water, drain and set aside for 2hrs. Sprinkle water to moisten the sago pearls only if required.
  • Mix the soaked sabudaana along with the boiled potatoes, green chilies, cumin seeds, toasted and crushed peanuts, chili flakes, coriander leaves, rice flour and salt and mix well.
  • Divide the dough into 20-25 portions. With greased hands, shape each portion into a ball and flatten them slightly.
  • Heat the oil in a wok and deep fry the vadas in hot oil till they are golden brown in color. Drain the fried vadas on an absorbent paper and serve hot with chutney or sauce of your choice.
Notes:
  • Make sure you use good quality Sago pearls to make the fritters.
  • The soaking time of the sago pearls varies depending on the quality. You can proceed with the preparation when the sago absorbs water and becomes transparent.
  • You can replace the peanuts and the rice flour with equal quantities of rajgira ka atta (amaranth flour) or Singhade ka atta (water chestnut flour)

Monday, March 16, 2015

Chilled avocado mint soup


I know most parts of the world are experiencing extended winters right now. But it is quite the other way round in Africa. Summer should have ended a almost a month ago and it should have been raining cats and dogs by now. I have been trying to cool off by drinking loads of fresh fruit juices, lassis and stuff. Apart from these, I have also been eating a lot salads and a lot of this soup. I first tasted this soup at a friends place in Dar. This soup was refreshing, cool and filling without weighing too much. It was just perfect for the warm humid climate of Dar.



I have made this soup quite a few times since then and each time, I have fallen in love with this soup all over again. This soup is elegant, rich, creamy and insanely easy to prepare. Just mix all the ingredients in a blender, blend and eat. Can a soup get any easier than that? 


The surprising this thing about this soup is that, it does not contain any cream. It does have butter milk but the rich, velvety texture, mostly comes from the avocados. The blending, fills the mixture with air making the soup light and airy.  I suggest adding more stock if you prefer a thinner consistency. You could top it with cream or sour cream and tomatoes if you prefer a richer soup. But then soup is tastes delicious on it's own


Chilled avocado mint soup recipe:
Preparation time: 15min
Cooking time: nil
Serves- 4

Ingredients:

Avocados- 2
Juice of one lemon
Spring onions- 2, finely chopped
Coriander leaves- 2 tbsp
Mint leaves- 2tbsp
Green chilies- 1, finely chopped
Vegetable stock- 1-1/2 cups
Chilled butter milk- 1-1/2 cups
Cumin powder- 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Black pepper powder- to taste
Chili flakes and mint leaves to garnish

Method:
  • Peel and dice the avocado only before making the soup. Drizzle lemon juice all over the avocado while cutting.
  • Place all the ingredients in the blender jar and process till well blended.
  • Pour into a bowl and refrigerate till ready to serve.
  • Garnish with chili flakes and mint leaves and serve.


Monday, March 9, 2015

Mexican rice with Salsa


I think I have already confessed about my love for the Mexican cuisine and Salsa in this post. So in this post, I am actually taking this love one step further by making Mexican rice with salsa. 



I have another confession to make. I am a sucker for easy and quick fix recipes. I do enjoy making dishes which involves elaborate cooking techniques. But that is once in a while. Most of the times, I prefer dishes that is quick to prepare and yet taste delicious and wholesome. Recipes like these come to my rescue when I don't have enough time to cook. Or, when I have to pack S's lunch box in 30min.


I made this rice today for my lunch. And it was made without a thought. I had some leftover rice and some habanero salsa in the fridge. There was also some cooked Rajma in the freezer, so I decided to combine all of them to make this flavorful rice. I couldn't believe, a spontaneous preparation could taste this good. Even if I may say so myself. The best part about this recipe is, it can be customized to your taste and availability of the ingredients. You can substitute the kidney beans and corn with vegetables with carrot and french beans. The basmati rice can be replaced with brown rice to make it more nutritious. If you prefer you rice less spicy, then just substitute the habanero salsa with red salsa and you are good to go. 


Mexican rice with Salsa recipe:
Preparation time: 20min
Cooking time- 10mins
Serves- 4

Ingredients:
Cooked long grained rice- 4cups or 500gms
Butter- 1tbsp, melted
Oil- 2tbsp
Cumin seeds- 1/2tsp
Onion- 1small, finely chopped
Frozen corn- 1/2 cup
Red kidney beans- 1/2 cup, boiled and drained
Finely chopped Red or orange bell pepper- 2tbsp
Sugar- 1/2tsp
Coriander leaves to garnish- 2tbsp


Method:

  • Toss the cooked rice along with the melted butter and set aside.
  • Heat oil in a wok and add the cumin seeds. Once they turn brown, add the chopped onions and fry till they turn pink.
  • Add the frozen corn and the kidney beans and fry for 3-4mins. Stir in the chopped bell peppers and fry for 2-3mins more.
  • Add the sugar and the salsa and mix well. Stir in the rice and toss well with the mixture. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with tortilla chips and sour cream on the side.



Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Tamarind and carom seed Stuffed Jalapeno Fritters



I know. I know. I am giving you an over dose of chilies. First there was habanero chili salsa. Now there is jalapeño fritters. I think I am going through a phase where I am not able to stop eating peppers. Be it habanero, jalapeños or the Bhavnagari. I seem to love them all.



The chili fritters or the mirapakaya bajji always makes me nostalgic. Since these fritters are a very common street food in my home town, savoring these spicy fritters was almost an everyday affair. Hundreds have been the evenings where we enjoyed these batter coated chili fritters with steaming cup of tea. Strangely though, these fritters were never made at home. It was always brought from the push cart vendor from street corner. I vaguely remember the chili fritters that he made was way different from what I have for you today. His fritters were stuffed. But then the stuffing was mostly a mixture of the humble cumin seed powder and red chili powder. The stuffing was simple. But then, it transformed the plain chili into something aromatic and exotic. I remember we couldn't get enough of these crisp, batter coated peppers.



Despite all the nostalgia and the fond memories, I never thought of making these fritters at home. When I found these fresh jalapeños during one of my shopping trips, the memories came flooding back and I knew I had to make these at home. This recipe for the hyderabadi style mirapakaya bajjis were given to me by a neighbor and dear friend. I made a few changes to the recipe to suit our taste buds and outcome was delicious. The fritters were over even before I knew it. Do give this recipe a try and let me know if you like it.



Stuffed Jalapeno Fritters recipe:
Preparation time- 25min
Cooking time- 20min
Makes- 10 fritters

Ingredients:
Jalapeno chilies- 10, washed and pat dried
For the stuffing:
Tamarind- Size of a small lime
Jaggery- 1tsp
Salt to taste
Ajwain or carom seeds- 1tsp
Saunf or fennel seeds- a pinch
Grated dry coconut- 2tbsp
Gram flour- 1tsp
For the Batter:
Gram flour or besan- 6tbsp
Rice flour- 1-1/2tbsp
Salt- 1tsp
Asafetida- a pinch
Paprika powder- 1/2 tsp
Water as needed
Other ingredients:
Oil to deep fry


Method:
  • Make a 3" vertical slit in the green chilies and scoop out the ribs and seeds from the chilies and keep aside. You can choose to leave the seeds if you prefer your fritters extra hot.
For the filling:
  • Soak the tamarind in quarter cup of water for 15mins. Extract the pulp and mix it with jaggery and salt.
  • Transfer the tamarind mixture to a thick bottomed vessel and boil the mixture on low heat till the water is evaporated and a thick paste is formed. Take off the heat and set it aside.
  • Dry roast the carom seeds and fennel seeds till fragrant (it doesn't have to turn brown) and set aside to cool.
  • Dry roast the desiccated coconut for a few seconds and keep aside.
  • Grind the toasted seeds and the grated coconut to a powder in blender till fine. Mix the gram flour and pulse till well combined.
  • Add the ground mixture along to the tamarind pulp and mix to form a thick paste.

For the batter:

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the gram flour, rice flour, salt, paprika powder and asafetida and mix well. Add water gradually to make a thick batter and keep aside.
To Proceed:
  • Stuff each chili with a tea spoon of the stuffing mixture and keep aside.
  • Heat oil in a wok. To check if the oil is hot enough, drop a little batter into the oil. If the batter rises to the top slowly, then the oil is hot enough.
  • At this stage, add two tea spoons of the hot oil to the prepared batter and mix it carefully.
  • Dip the stuffed peppers in the batter to coat completely and place it in the pre heated oil and fry till the fritter turns golden in color. 
  • Repeat the same procedure for the rest of the stuffed peppers. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately with a dip of your choice.




Thursday, February 26, 2015

Stir fried paneer and mushroom


Todays recipe is an easy and a fun side dish that can be put together in just 15mins. And, it tastes absolutely delicious. I wish all recipes were like this.



Mushroom is one vegetable that rarely makes an appearance on the dining table. The reason for this is, S never eats them. No matter how hard I try, I cannot get my husband to like mushrooms. "It's a tasteless fungi. How can you eat them?" he says. So I cook mushrooms for Purvi and for myself. Whenever, S is not in town, I make this easy stir fry. This is one of the quickest ways to turn the "tasteless fungi" into a robust and an exciting ingredient. It's amazing what you can do with just a few ingredients. 


This recipe is one of my favorites because it is so vibrant with an interesting blend of textures and flavors. This dish is a medley of vegetables and soft paneer, which I feel is a winning combo. One bite of this simple stir fry and I am sure you will agree with me. 


Stir fried paneer and mushroom recipe:
Preparation time: 15min
Cooking time: 10mins
Serves- 4


Ingredients:
Sesame oil or any other oil- 2tbsp
Sesame seeds- 1-1/2 tsp
Garlic- 2cloves, crushed
Spring onions- 4, whites and greens separated
Red chili flakes- 1/2tsp
Freshly ground black pepper powder- 1/2 tsp
Dark soya sauce- 1tsp
Mushrooms- 200gms, cleaned and cut into quarters
A mixture of red, green and yellow bell peppers- 1/2 cup, sliced length wise
Salt- to taste
Paneer- 300gms, cut into cubes

Method:
  • Heat oil in a large wok on medium heat. Add the sesame seeds and salute till they turn brown. Add the garlic and fry for a few seconds. Do not allow the garlic to turn brown.
  • Stir in the spring onion whites and fry for a minute. Add the quarter mushrooms, bell peppers and salt and fry for 5-8 minutes till the most of the water has evaporated.
  • Add the pepper powder, chili flakes and soya sauce and fry for 2minutes more. Add the Paneer cubes and mix the paneer along with the vegetables. Remove from heat and serve hot with rice or noodles.
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