Mixed Vegetable Badi Ki Sabzi

The Indian state of Jharkhand came into existence in the year 2000, carved out of Bihar. Much of the state is covered by forests, heavily populated by elephants and tigers. I have seen a friend of mine from Jharkhand sing paeans about the state’s natural beauty, but have never had a chance to visit. I am glad to have gotten this chance to get at least virtually close to Jharkhand’s cuisine, via the Shhhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge that I am part of.

For this month’s Shhhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge, all of us food bloggers are cooking dishes from the state of Jharkhand. This month, I was paired with Aruna, the lovely blogger who writes at Aharam, and she assigned me two secret ingredients to make my dish with – potatoes and tomatoes. I decided to use these ingredients to prepare Mixed Vegetable Badi Ki Sabzi, which turned out finger-lickingly delicious and became an instant hit with everyone at home.

About the cuisine of Jharkhand

Before we move on to the recipe for Mixed Vegetable Badi Ki Sabzi, here’s a little glimpse into Jharkhandi cuisine, via Wikipedia.

Jharkhand shares borders with Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha, West Bengal and Chattisgarh. The cuisine of Jharkhand has heavy influences from those of these neighbouring states, but it also has several indigenous dishes of its own – kera-dudhauri, for instance, which is a dish made with milk, jaggery, rice and ghee; or charpa i.e. fritters made with mashed rice, spices and vegetables. The cuisine of Jharkhand uses a large amount of rice, but a limited number of spices.

Handia, also called Diyeng, is a locally made rice beer that is quite popular in Jharkhand, consumed during marriages and other festive occasions. Mahu, a liquor made using the fruits and flowers of the Mahua tree, is also a favourite among locals in Jharkhand.

Mixed Vegetable Badi Ki Sabzi

Aloo Badi Ki Sabzi – a curry made using potatoes and sun-dried lentil badis or vadis – is quite a common dish in the households of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand. I decided to make the sabzi even more wholesome by using an assortment of vegetables, rather than using just potatoes. This gave me just the perfect opening to make use of the beautiful, fresh rajma beans I picked up at the vegetable vendor’s a while back.

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The lovely Mixed Vegetable & Badi Ki Sabzi, which I served with parathas

The badis or vadis used in this sabzi (they can be used in a whole lot of other ways, too!) are typically made at home, using either moong daal or urad daal or vegetables. They are commonly made in bulk in the months of summer, when sunlight is plentiful, and then stored for use during the rest of the year. I, however, used store-bought urad daal vadis to make this dish.

The store-bought urad daal badis or vadis that I made use of

 

Now, let’s take a look at the recipe for the Mixed Vegetable & Badi Ki Sabzi, shall we?

Recipe Source: This recipe from Patna Daily, with a few minor variations of my own

Ingredients (serves 4-5):

  1. 4 medium-sized tomatoes
  2. 5-6 cloves garlic
  3. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  4. 1 medium-sized onion
  5. 1 medium-sized potato
  6. 1/4 cup shelled fresh rajma beans
  7. 6-8 beans
  8. A few large florets of cauliflower
  9. 1 medium-sized carrot
  10. 1 small capsicum
  11. 2-3 big urad daal vadi/badi
  12. Salt to taste
  13. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  14. Red chilli powder to taste
  15. 2 teaspoons garam masala or to taste
  16. 2 teaspoons coriander powder or to taste
  17. 2 teaspoons cumin powder or to taste
  18. 1 tablespoon oil
  19. 1 teaspoon cumin
  20. 2 pinches asafoetida
  21. 2 tablespoons finely chopped coriander

Method:

1. Peel the garlic cloves and ginger. Chop the peeled ginger and tomatoes into small pieces. Grind the ginger, garlic and tomatoes to a puree, using a mixer. Keep aside.

2. Now, we will prep the vegetables we need to use. Peel the potato and carrot and chop into cubes. Remove strings from the beans and chop into small pieces. Chop the cauliflower into smaller pieces. Peel the onion and chop finely. Chop capsicum into small pieces. Keep aside.

3. Break the urad daal vadis into small pieces. Keep aside.

4. Heat the oil in a small pressure cooker bottom. Drop in the broken vadi. Fry on medium flame for a minute or till they turn brown, then transfer to a plate.

5. Add the cumin seeds and asafoetida to the residual hot oil in the pressure cooker bottom. Keep the flame on medium. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds.

6. Now, add in the tomato-ginger-garlic puree. On high flame, cook for 2-3 minutes or till the raw smell disappears.

7. Add the chopped onion, potato, beans, carrot, capsicum and shelled fresh rajma beans. Mix well.

8. Add salt to taste, garam masala, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder and cumin powder. Add in the fried vadis, along with about 1 cup water. Mix well.

9. Close the pressure cooker and put the whistle on. Allow 4 whistles on high flame.

10. When the pressure has entirely gone down, open the pressure cooker. Mix in the finely chopped coriander. That’s it! Serve the sabzi hot with rotis or parathas.

Notes:

1. If the tomatoes are too tart, you can add a tablespoon of sugar/jaggery to the sabzi, to even out the taste. However, that is purely optional.

2. I have used store-bought urad daal vadis here. You can use any type of vadi/badi available to you.

3. You can use any vegetables you have, in the making of this sabzi.

4. The vadis I used were big in size, so I broke them up into smaller pieces. If you have small vadis, you can go ahead and use them directly in the sabzi.

5. I used a 3-1/2 litre pressure cooker to make this sabzi.

6. The amount of water you add to the sabzi will depend on how thick/watery you want it to be. The above quantity worked just fine for us.

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Did you like this recipe for Mixed Vegetable & Badi Ki Sabzi? Do tell me, in your comments!

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I’m sending this recipe to Fiesta Friday #234, and the co-hosts this week are Jenny @ Apply To Face Blog and Deb @ Pantry Portfolio.

 

Stuffed Kuzhi Paniyaram, My Tribute To The Ravishing Rekha

Today, I present to you the recipe for Stuffed Kuzhi Paniyaram. These might look like ordinary kuzhi paniyaram from the outside, but one bite into them and you’ll understand that they are far from ordinary. These are kuzhi paniyaram with a difference – the surprise inside will surely blow your mind away!

I prepared these Stuffed Kuzhi Paniyaram for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop, which has a very unique theme this week – Filmi Foodies! All of us food bloggers are paying a tribute to Bollywood, via food of course! 🙂 Interesting, right? This is my little tribute to the ravishing and hugely talented Rekha ji.

Foodie Monday Blog Hop

I can watch Rekha ji in action any time, any day. I am never not awed by the depth of her acting, the way she brings her characters to life, the way she carries her movies on her shoulders. She can carry off any role – from that of a demure housewife to that of a siren – with equal elan. She is timeless – even today, years after she has stopped appearing in films, she still has the same grace and beauty to her. And, oh, those Kanjeevaram sarees and big bindis she makes an appearance in! She has had a tough life, and has withstood all of it.

Image Source: Free Press Journal

The kuzhi paniyaram, too, like Rekha ji, is timeless. It is a South Indian classic that will never get old, which will continue to win the hearts of kids and adults alike. Like Rekha ji, this Stuffed Kuzhi Paniyaram might look simple from the outside, but it packs in quite a sucker punch!

Now, let’s move on to the recipe for Stuffed Kuzhi Paniyaram, shall we?

Ingredients (makes 25-30 pieces):

  1. 3 cups idli/dosa batter
  2. Salt, to taste
  3. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander leaves
  4. 1 medium-sized onion
  5. About 5 cubes of processed cheese, or as needed
  6. 10-12 big slices of pickled jalapenos, or as needed
  7. 1 teaspoon oil + more as needed to make the kuzhi paniyaram
  8. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  9. 2 pinches of asafoetida

Method:

  1. Take the idli/dosa batter in a mixing bowl. Add in salt to taste.
  2. Chop the onion finely. Add to the mixing bowl.
  3. Add the finely chopped coriander to the mixing bowl.
  4. Chop the pickled jalapeno slices finely, and add to the mixing bowl.
  5. Heat oil in a pan, and add the mustard seeds. Allow them to pop. Add in the asafoetida, and let it stay in for a couple of seconds. Switch off the gas, and add the mustard tempering to the mixing bowl.
  6. Mix the batter well and keep ready.
  7. Cut each of the cheese cubes into 6 small pieces. Keep aside.
  8. Drizzle a little oil into each of the cavities of a kuzhi paniyaram pan. Place on high flame and allow the oil to heat up a little.
  9. Now, reduce the flame to low-medium. Using a spoon, drop a little of the batter into each cavity of the pan. Ensure that the cavities are only about half filled with batter. Drop a piece of cheese in the centre of the batter, into each cavity. Spoon in some more batter into the cavities, filling them up to the brim, covering the cheese.
  10. Cover the kuzhi paniyaram pan with a lid. Cook the paniyarams on low-medium flame till they begin to brown at the bottom. Ensure that they do not burn. Now, flip the paniyarams over to the other side, using a spoon. Cover again and cook on low-medium flame till the paniyarams turn brown on the other side too.
  11. Transfer the stuffed kuzhi paniyarams to a serving plate. Serve hot.

Notes:

1. You may also add in grated carrot, finely chopped spinach leaves or mint, finely chopped cabbage or capsicum or any other veggies of your choice, to the batter.

2. I have used store-bought pickled jalapenos in these stuffed kuzhi paniyarams. If you don’t have them, you can use finely chopped regular green chillies instead.

3. Use idli/dosa batter that is well fermented and only slightly sour, for best results.

4. I have used Amul processed cheese cubes to make these stuffed kuzhi paniyarams. Alternatively, you can use any other type of cheese.

5. Once the kuzhi paniyaram pan has heated up, lower the flame to low-medium. Make the stuffed kuzhi paniyaram on low-medium heat, to prevent burning.

6. These stuffed kuzhi paniyarams do not really need an accompaniment, and can be served on their own. However, if you do want to serve them with an accompaniment, you can use a chutney of your choice, some pasta/pizza sauce or Schezwan sauce. Here is how you can make a delicious pasta/pizza sauce at home!

7. I have used home-made idlidosa batter here.

Did you like the recipe? Please do tell me in your comments!

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I’m sending this recipe to Fiesta Friday #234, and the co-hosts this week are Jenny @ Apply To Face Blog and Deb @ Pantry Portfolio.

Pressure Cooker Gutti Vankaya Koora| Healthy Andhra-Style Stuffed Baby Eggplants

Gutti Vankaya Koora is one of my most favourite preparations using brinjals or eggplant. This is an Andhra Pradesh specialty, where baby eggplants are stuffed with a spice mix and then cooked in a fragrant, flavourful gravy. It tastes absolutely heavenly with some hot phulkas or rice.

There are a whole lot of variations to the Gutti Vankaya Koora, from what I understand. Different families cook it in different ways, use different types of stuffing. This particular version, taught to me long back by a Telugu neighbour of ours, uses a groundnut and garlic stuffing. It is so simple to make, yet so rich and bursting with flavour!

Our neighbour made the Gutti Vankaya Koora in a pan, though, cooking it in a lot of oil. With time, I began making it in a pressure cooker, with just 1 spoon of oil. It still tastes the same, but is healthier and makes me feel less guilty afterwards.

Here is how I make Gutti Vankaya Koora in a pressure cooker.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  1. 8-10 baby eggplants
  2. 1/2 cup raw groundnuts
  3. Salt to taste
  4. Red chilli powder to taste
  5. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  6. 5-6 fat cloves of garlic
  7. A gooseberry-sized ball of tamarind
  8. About 1-1/2 tablespoons powdered jaggery or to taste
  9. 1 tablespoon oil
  10. 1 teaspoon mustard
  11. 2 pinches asafoetida
  12. 3-4 dried red chillies
  13. 1 sprig fresh curry leaves
  14. A few stalks of fresh coriander leaves

Method:

1. Soak the tamarind in a little boiling water for some time. When it is cool enough to handle, extract a thick paste out of it, adding a little more water if needed. Keep aside.

2. Peel the garlic. Take the garlic cloves, raw groundnuts, red chilli powder and salt to taste, and the turmeric powder in a small mixer jar. Don’t add in any water. Pulse a couple of times, for a second each, stopping to scrape down the sides of the mixer. You should get a pasty, coarse powder. Keep aside.

3. Remove the stems from the baby eggplants. From the bottom towards the stem, make two long slits in the eggplants, in a + shape. You should cut half-way through the eggplant, leaving it intact towards the stem.

4. Stuff a generous amount of the groundnut-garlic mixture into the slits, in each baby eggplant. Keep aside. If there is any extra groundnut-garlic stuffing left over, do not worry – we will be using that later too.

5. Heat the oil in a small pressure cooker. Add in the mustard seeds, and let them pop. Now, add the dry red chillies, curry leaves and the asafoetida. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds.

6. Add the stuffed baby eggplants to the pressure cooker. Stir gently, ensuring that they do not break, for a couple of seconds.

7. Now, turn the flame to low. Add in the tamarind paste, about 3/4 cup water, any leftover groundnut-garlic stuffing you might have, and jaggery powder. Mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings (salt, red chilli powder or jaggery) if needed.

8. Close the pressure cooker and put the weight on. Allow 3 whistles on high flame. Switch off gas immediately.

9. Chop the coriander finely and keep handy. When all the pressure from the cooker has released naturally, mix in the finely chopped coriander. Your Gutti Vankaya Koora is ready – serve it hot with rotis or with any rice dishes of your choice!

Notes:

1. For best results, use fresh baby eggplants that are neither too big nor too small.

2. Gingelly oil works best in the making of this Gutti Vankaya Koora. If you don’t have it, you may use any other kind of oil that you prefer.

3. Adjust the quantity of garlic, tamarind, salt, red chilli powder and jaggery as per your personal taste preferences.

4. I make this Gutti Vankaya Koora in a 3-1/2 litre pressure cooker.

5. I prefer cooking this curry for 3 whistles, which yields soft but not overly cooked eggplants. If you want the eggplants to retain their exact shape, you can cook for 2 whistles on high flame.

6. Add in less water if you want the eggplants to be drier. We prefer this curry with a bit of gravy, so adding in 3/4 cup of water works perfectly for us.

7. Be careful while stirring the eggplants. Stir gently, making sure they do not break.

8. You may increase the quantity of oil in this curry, if you want to.

Did you like this recipe? I hope you will try this version of Gutti Vankaya Koora out, and that you will love it as much as we do!

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Foodie Monday Blog HopThis recipe is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. The theme for this week is ‘stuffed vegetables’.

I’m sending this recipe to Fiesta Friday #234, and the co-hosts this week are Jenny @ Apply To Face Blog and Deb @ Pantry Portfolio. I’m also sharing this recipe with Friday Frenzy.

 

Jamia Masjid, An Architectural Marvel in Old Srinagar

Just a few minutes after driving into the heart of Srinagar, fondly referred to as Old Srinagar or Downtown Srinagar, we noticed the landscape around us begin to change. The relatively modern buildings and wide roads of modern Srinagar – where we were staying – began to fade. The roads got narrower and narrower as we drove on, the buildings getting more and more ancient, some with rather pretty latticework on them.

Electricity wires seemed to dangle out of nowhere. Vendors selling everything from vegetables and spices to fancy trays, baskets, Kashmiri shawls and dry fruits dotted the streets. Tiny shops choc-a-bloc with some really interesting stuff – like the kangris or wicker baskets that the Kashmiris use to carry a coal brazier, to keep themselves warm or pretty, pretty, pretty samovars that are used to make the local kehwa – began to whizz by. I would have loved to get down, to take a long, exploratory walk around the place, even indulge in some shopping, but I didn’t. We were on the way to see the famed Jamia Masjid in Nowhatta, Old Srinagar. The bub wasn’t keeping too well, and we wanted to limit exploration and get back to our hotel quickly. Before the husband and I could even realise it, our cab stopped. We had reached our destination.

What is the Jamia Masjid like?

One word – beautiful.

The Jamia Masjid of Srinagar, a hugely sacred mosque and place of worship for Kashmiri Muslims, is a beautiful specimen of Persian architecture, with a few influences from Buddhist pagodas. There has been generous usage of Kashmiri glazed black stone, bricks and deodar wood in the building of the mosque, which gives it a quaint, charming look. Our first glance of the mosque stunned us with its prettiness.

Our first glimpse of the mosque, as soon as we had set foot inside the main gate

The Jamia Masjid was constructed by Sultan Sikandar Shah Kashmiri Shahmiri in 1394 CE. The mosque was originally built to accommodate 33,333 people at one prayer session, besides the imam. It is a huge structure, believed to be about 1,40,000 square feet. There are four entrances to the mosque, from the east, west, north and south.

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The prayer hall we walked through, to get to the actual mosque

As soon as we stepped inside the main gate, we found ourselves in a gorgeous prayer hall with a beautiful wooden ceiling and columns. The high ceilings gave the hall a roomy, airy, light feeling. We walked through the prayer hall to reach an open courtyard with a little Mughal-style garden and a fountain. This courtyard housed the actual place of worship, the mosque, a stunning edifice.

The main prayer hall at Jamia Masjid

The mosque was, apparently, extended later, when Sultan Sikhandar’s son Zain-ul-Abidin added turrets to it. The landscaped Mughal garden which we saw outside the mosque was also added later, we learnt.

One of the turrets of the mosque. Notice the similarities to a Buddhist pagoda?

When we visited the Jamia Masjid, on a weekday morning, it was drizzling lightly and the place was almost empty. Almost to ourselves, we spent about an hour here, walking around, admiring the architecture, offering our prayers, soaking in the peace around us. I am sure the scene would have been completely different on a weekend or on a festival day.

Exploring the bazaar outside Jamia Masjid

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A glimpse of the bazaar outside Jamia Masjid, Srinagar

Step out of the Jamia Masjid gates, and you will find yourself amidst a little bazaar of sorts. Little shops, manned by smiling Kashmiris, sold household things like spices, dry fruits and groceries, dresses and footwear, tea sets (which I learnt later is a huge passion in Kashmir), curtains and bedsheets, suitcases, bags and purses, kitchen utensils and the like. Walking around these shops, checking out things, photographing, learning and shopping was a treat in itself.

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Some beautiful outfits that we came across, for sale in the bazaar outside Srinagar’s Jamia Masjid

I fell in love with a tiny spice shop in the bazaar, filled to the rafters with culinary treasures. I was hovering outside, asking the owner a battery of questions about the several indigenous-to-Kashmir ingredients he stocked. He invited me inside to take a look, and I became a kid in a candy shop.

The charming little spice shop outside Jamia Masjid that I loved

We ended up spending over an hour here, chatting with the owner about this and that – the cockscomb which is apparently the reason for the pink cheeks of the Kashmiris, the Kanagucchi or the special ear-shaped mushrooms that come up in the forests only when there is a cloudburst, the local tradition of drying up vegetables and fruits to preserve them, Kashmiri tea and black moth daal and veri masala. I picked up quite a few things here, small quantities of all that I wanted to go back home and try out.
In the meantime, the owner plied the husband and me with the pinkish salt tea aka noon chai that a whole lot of Kashmiris prefer to sip on, and the bub with big fat kishmish from his shop. Marketing? Probably. Probably not. All I can say is that we absolutely adored the time we spent in this little shop, and we valued the conversation with the owner. Moments like these are precisely what makes travel worthwhile for us.

Some of the treasures we found in the spice shop. Top left: Dried lauki aka bottlegourd; Centre left: Kashmiri black moth daal; Bottom left: A cake of freshly made Kashmiri ver masala or veri masala; Bottom right: Cockscomb, a flavouring agent that is typically used in Kashmiri cuisine; Top right: The tea that is commonly used for different types of brews in Kashmir

Don’t miss this grand mosque whenever you are in Srinagar!

Tips for travellers

  1. The Jamia Masjid is located in Nowhatta, in the heart of Old Srinagar, quite a sensitive area by the looks of it. Monday to Thursday would be a good time to visit, as the mosque tends to become crowded on Fridays and weekends.
  2. There are no entry fees here. Photography is allowed.
  3. Visitors should cover their heads and remove their footwear before entering the mosque. Please ensure that these simple rules are followed. Also, considering that this is a sacred place of worship, maintaining silence and decent conduct is advisable.
  4. There is not much to do here, in terms of activities. However, the place is, indeed, an ocean of calm and peace, which one can spend any amount of time soaking in. The architecture of the mosque is a treat to the eyes, as well.
  5. If you want to time your visit with a prayer session in the mosque, please check on the exact timings before you embark.
  6. Do spend some time at the bazaar outside the Jamia Masjid, walking around, learning, shopping, photographing. This is a great place to learn about traditional Kashmiri culture and culinary traditions, if you are interested in that sort of thing. This is where you can shop for some unique foodie souvenirs from Kashmir, too. The shopkeepers are friendly, and most of them speak Hindi. Prices are reasonable, we felt, and we didn’t feel the need to haggle.

Lemon Thokku| Instant Lemon Chutney

The husband recently left on a 10-day international work trip, a move I am not too happy about for a lot of reasons. Anyway, as he says, work has to be done and, in the course of it, work trips do need to be undertaken. As he embarked on this journey, I wanted him to carry a little piece of home with him, to get him through stressful days and loneliness. Hence, a batch of Lemon Thokku got made a day before he left, got packed into a nice, air-tight bottle, and flew off with him.

This is not the first time I have made Lemon Thokku, though. It is something much loved in our family and, hence, gets made often. I love the sweet-sour-spicy flavours of this thokku, the lemon peel lending it a slight bitterness. Call it Lemon Thokku or Instant Lemon Chutney, I find it incredibly versatile – it goes beautifully with everything from dosas and parathas to plain steamed rice.

Making this thokku is a very simple task, one that takes just about 20 minutes in all, prep included. I make it whenever I manage to find fresh, juicy lemons cheap, and keep it refrigerated to use when the need arises. This way, it stays for up to 20 days.

Try it out, will you? I would love to know how you liked it!

Here is how we make Lemon Thokku aka Instant Lemon Chutney.

Ingredients (makes about half mason jar):

  1. 10 big fresh lemons
  2. Salt to taste
  3. 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  4. 2 tablespoons jaggery powder or to taste
  5. Red chilli powder to taste

For the tempering:

  1. 2-3 tablespoons gingelly oil
  2. 2 teaspoons mustard
  3. 1/2 teaspoon asafoetida
  4. 4-5 dry red chillies
  5. 2 tablespoons fresh curry leaves

Method:

  1. Wash the lemons well under running water. Pat completely dry, using a cotton cloth.
  2. Cut each lemon into half. Now, cut each half into quarters. So, you should get 8 small pieces out of each lemon.
  3. Remove all the seeds from each lemon piece. This is crucial, to ensure that your Lemon Thokku does not become too bitter.
  4. When all the seeds have been removed, transfer the lemon pieces to a mixer jar. Grind to a paste.
  5. Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the mustard seeds and allow them to pop. Add the curry leaves, the asafoetida and the dried red chillies. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds.
  6. Turn the flame to medium, and add the lemon paste to the pan.
  7. Add in salt to taste, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and the jaggery powder. Mix well.
  8. Cook on low-medium flame for 4-5 minutes or till the Lemon Thokku begins to thicken and come together. Switch off gas.
  9. Let the Lemon Thokku cool down completely before transferring it to a clean, dry, air-tight container. Store refrigerated, and use a clean, dry spoon to remove the thokku.

Notes:

1. The Lemon Thokku will taste slightly bitter initially. Allow it one or two days for the taste to stabilise.

2. Adjust the quantity of jaggery powder, salt and red chilli powder as per your personal taste preferences.

3. Use very fresh lemons and curry leaves, for best results.

4. Gingelly oil works best in making this Lemon Thokku. However, if you do not have gingelly oil, you may use any other type of oil that you prefer.

5. This Lemon Thokku stays for up to 20 days when stored under hygienic conditions, refrigerated.

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I’m sending this recipe to Fiesta Friday #233 and to Friday Frenzy.