Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Shahi Bhutta- Royal Corn curry

This curry is my new found love. Ever since I found this curry in Mridula Baljekar's Vegetarian cooking of India, I have been hooked to this curry. This curry is so simple and and so delicious that I made it twice in ten days.

When first read the title of "shahi bhutta"in the book, my first impression was that, that this dish would involve a lot of ingredients along with a lot of soaking and grinding. But I was pleasantly surprised when I actually read the recipe. This "royal" dish, did not involve any of those complex ingredients or cooking techniques. I am always on the look out for simple recipes and this was almost God sent. 

Although the recipe in book was perfect, I could not resist making some changes. I have added a few more whole spices. I even included the rice flour paste to thicken the gravy. Despite all the changes, I must say the curry turned out pretty well. S who doesn't favor corn a lot, asked for a second helping. So if you are looking for a rich yet deceptively simple recipe for a gravy, then recipe is sure to fit the bill. 

Shahi Bhutta Recipe:
Preparation time: 15min
Cooking time: 20min
Serves- 4

For the ground paste:
Poppy seeds- 1-1/2tsp, dry roasted
Grated dry coconut- 3tbsp
Other ingredients:
Oil- 2tbsp
Green cardamom- 2
Black cardamom- 2
Cloves- 3
Cinnamon- 1"piece
Onion- 1 med, finely chopped
Ginger-garlic paste- 1tsp
Green chili- 1, finely chopped
Turmeric- 1/4tsp
Coriander powder- 1/2tsp
Cumin seed powder- 1/2tsp
Paprika powder- 1/2tsp
Fresh or frozen corn- 450gms
Milk- 240ml
Salt to taste
Tomato- 1 large, finely chopped
Garam masala- 1/2tsp
Rice flour- 1tspn mixed with 2tbsp of water
Coriander leaves- 1tbsp to garnish


  • Grind the poppy seeds and the dry coconut along with some water to a fine paste and set aside.
  • Heat oil in a pan and add the green cardamom, black cardamom, cinnamon and cloves and fry for a minute or until they puff up.
  • Stir in the onion and fry till they turn transcluscent. Add the ginger garlic paste and the chopped green chilies and fry till the raw smell goes.
  • Add the turmeric and the ground ingredients and fry for two minutes. Stir in the coriander powder, cumin powder, Paprika powder and mix well. 
  • Add the corn, milk, salt and cook covered on low heat for 8-10mins or until the corn is cooked.
  • Add the rice flour paste, tomatoes and garam masala and mix well. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with rice or rotis.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Restaurant style Masala Dosa

Dosa- The savory rice and lentil crepe is perhaps one of those Indian foods that is popular all over the world. A crepe with a crispy exterior and a spongy and melt in the mouth interior, which encases the mildly spiced potato and onion curry, which is then dipped in coconut chutney. To me, it is one of those ultimate breakfast dishes that can keep me going till lunch.

To me, Dosa brings back a lot of memories. The memories of my mother or my grandmother making dosas on those blackened ancestral skillets. And us girls loitered in the kitchen asking "is it ready?" every five minutes.

During my high school days we would have extra classes for Maths and Science on Saturdays. During those times, my classmates and I would visit this hotel called Sudha hotel which was just opposite school. The Dosas that were made there were delicious. Or at least I thought so. For Rs.2.50, we would get a scrumptious masala dosa. Besides that, we could watch their cooks make the dosas on griddle that was just enormous. The cook would dip a broom in a stainless steel bucket containing oil and splatter liberal amounts on the preheated griddle. He would then dip a bowl into a large vessel containing dosa batter and with experienced hands spread the batter into perfect circle. As the dosa was roasted, the cook threw a handful of the potato curry and fold the dosa twice and then place it on a plate lined with banana leaf. The dosa would then be served along with a small bowl of coconut chutney and sambar. To me, eating dosa at Sudha hotel was not only a treat to my taste buds but also a visual treat. Watching the cook, make at least ten dosas at a time, was mind boggling and unforgettable. 

I am surprised that after all these years, I still remember every small detail about that joint. The burly cook who made the dosas, to the pleasant faced manager behind the counter. To the fiber glass tables and chairs and those greasy stainless steel jugs and glasses. I am not sure if the hotel still exists. But the memory of the Sudha hotel dosas is still fresh in my mind.

Before I came across this recipe, I could make decent dosas. but they lacked the taste and texture of a South Indian hotel. And then, I came across this recipe in a TV show. The cook refused to divulge the measurements. But he had given out the ingredients. I had to experiment quite a few times to get the right taste and texture. After that, there was no looking back. I could make restaurant style dosas right at home.

Even though this is a great recipe, it took me quite some time to capture it. The images that you see, were taken during a period of one month. Yes. It took me that long. But even now, I am not completely satisfied the results. There are chances that I might repost the recipe with better pictures. 

This recipe might seem a bit long and tedious. But trust me, the taste is well worth the effort. Give my version of dosa a try and I assure you, you will not miss the Masala dosas from the restaurant ever again.

Restaurant style Masala Dosa recipe:
Preparation time: 20min+ 5-6hrs of soaking time
Fermentation time: 6-7hrs
Cooking time: 30min
Makes- Approximately 24 dosas

Sona Masuri rice- 2 cups or 240gm
Beaten rice- 2-3tbsp
Urad dal- 1 cup or 120gm
Fenugreek seeds- 1-1/2 tsp
Rice flour- 2 cups
Fine semolina or chiroti rava- 1/2 cup, dry roasted
Salt to taste
Sugar- 1/2 tsp
Oil or ghee to grease and roast the Dosas
Coconut chutney to serve

  • Wash and soak the Rice along with the beaten rice in enough water and set aside for 5-6 hrs
  • Wash and soak the urad dal along with the fenugreek seeds in enough water and keep aside 5-6hrs
  • Make a paste by mixing the rice flour and the semolina with enough water. Mix well so that there are no lumps.
  • Drain the soaked urad dal and fenugreek mixture and blend in a blender till smooth and airy by adding water little by little.
  • Drain the soaked rice and beaten rice mixture and blend in the same blender jar till smooth.
  • Combine the ground urad dal paste and the rice paste along with rice flour and semolina mixture and beat well. Set aside to ferment for atlas 5-6hrs.
  • Once the batter has fermented and risen, add the salt and sugar and mix well. 
  • If the batter is thick then add water to achieve the required consistency.
  • Heat a non stick or a cast Iron skillet. Sprinkle a little water. If it steams and sizzles then the skillet is ready to use.
  • Pour a ladle full of batter on the skillet and spread the batter with the ladle in a circular motion to make a dosa of 6-7" in diameter.
  • Drizzle a teaspoon oil or ghee around the dosa and cook on medium heat till the dosa turns brown and crisp.
  • Place a table spoon of the onion and potato curry in the centre and fold over to make a semi circle.
  • Serve immediately with coconut chutney on the side.
  • Repeat the process with the remaining batter.
Tips for a perfect dosa:
  • Use your hands to mix/beat the ground pastes. Using your hands will not only ensure that batter becomes light and airy but it will also speed up the fermentation process.
  • The batter should neither be too thick or too thin. It should be just thick enough to coat the back of the ladle or spoon.
  • To avoid the batter from going stale, add the required amount of salt and a pinch of sugar only to the portion of the batter that is going to be used. The remaining batter can be refrigerated for almost a week.
  • The batter should always be at room temperature. If the batter is refrigerated, leave it in room temperature for about 20mins before you proceed.
  • To prepare the tawa or skillet, heat it till it becomes very hot. Sprinkle some water. It should evaporate quickly. Wipe the skillet with a tissue or a cloth and then rub it with potato or onion slice dipped in oil. The skillet should not be very hot when spreading the batter.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Mamidi allam pachadi- Mango ginger relish

This Mango ginger relish is our new found addiction. Ever since my neighbor and friend gave me a bowl of her freshly made, lip smacking pachadi, I have not been able to stay away from it for long. I seem to have this with idlies, dosas, rice and everything you can think of. That's how addictive this pachadi is.

Pachadi is nothing but South Indian Pickle that is used as a side dish. To put it in simple terms, Pachadi is nothing but food that is pounded in a mortar and pestle. This Andhra styled pickle is almost always spicy and the vegetables are either raw or sautéed in oil for a delicious flavour.

The mamidi allam or the Mango ginger is actually a spice that has the goodness of Ginger as well as Raw mangoes. It has the appearance of ginger but tastes like raw mangoes. However, you will be surprised to know that this rhizome is neither related to mangoes or ginger. It actually belongs to the family of turmeric. Fascinating. Isn't it??

This recipe is was given to me by Sailaja. Sailaja is a neighbor and a dear friend and a lovely soul, who also makes the best pickles and pachadis in the world. She not only gave me the recipe but also taught me the correct method to make it. How sweet is that?

This rich, dark relish which has a hint of raw mangoes can make a great last minute accompaniment to idlies, dosas, rice and even poppadoms. This pachadi is so delicious, that your tastebuds are sure to tingle. 

Mamidi allam pachadi recipe:
Preparation time: 10min
Cooking time: 10mins
Makes- 250gms

Mamidi allam or Mango giner- 14pieces, peeled and roughly chopped
Tamarind- 50gms
Urad dal or split black gram- 2tbsp
Peanut oil- 4tbsp
Mustard seeds- 1-1/2 tsp
Fenugreek seeds- 1/4tsp
Red chilies- 8-10, adjust to taste
Asafetida- A pinch
Salt to taste
Jaggery- 1-1/2tbsp
Sugar- 1tsp

  • Add just enough hot water to the tamarind and let it stand for a few minutes till it is soaked and softened. Let the tamarind cool before extracting the pulp and setting aside.
  • Heat oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds. Once they crackle, add the Split black gram and fenugreek seeds and fry till they turn brown.
  • Add the red chilies and fry till it turns crisp. Take the mixture off the heat and set aside to cool.
  • In the same pan, add the chopped mango ginger and fry for few seconds and set aside.
  • In a blender jar, grind the cooled Black gram mixture to a coarse powder.  Then, add the fried mango ginger pieces, tamarind pulp, salt, Jaggery and sugar and blend to smooth paste.
  • Transfer the ground pachadi to an airtight container. This pachadi stays fresh for up to two weeks in a refrigerator.
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