Amba Khatta| Raw Mango Relish From Orissa

The recipe I present to you today, Amba Khatta, comes from Orissa, the land of Lord Jagannath. It is a beautiful sweet-and-sour relish made with raw mango, mildly spiced and flavoured with panch phoron.

This month, the members of the Shhhh Cooking Secretly group are presenting dishes from Orissa, and I chose to make Amba Khatta. I lucked out with the theme this month – I have an Odia help at my place, who was more than happy to tell me in detail about the cuisine of the place and share with me the way they made Amba Khatta at home. Yay to that!

The food of Orissa, I understand, is simple, but full of flavours. It bears a lot of similarities to food from the neighbouring state of Bengal – the plentiful usage of rice and mustard oil, the fondness for sweets, the use of panch phoron to spice food, the many relishes made from seasonal fruit (called ‘khatta‘). This Amba Khatta is a popular dish in Odia households, especially during the hot months of summer.

Amba Khatta is the Odia version of the South Indian Maangaai Pachadi, if I may put it that way, quite similar to the Aam Ki Launji from Rajasthan too. A super simple dish to prepare, it is packed with flavour and a delight to gorge on. This completely plant-based, vegan dish makes for a great accompaniment to rotis and/or steamed rice and can also be served as part of a thali or a big meal, including papad, salad and curries. If you simply omit the asafoetida used in this recipe, it becomes a completely gluten-free dish as well.

Now, let’s get to the recipe for the Amba Khatta, shall we?

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

  1. 1 medium-sized raw mango
  2. About 3/4 cup water
  3. 1 tablespoon oil
  4. 2 sprigs fresh curry leaves
  5. 1 teaspoon panch phoron
  6. 2-3 dry red chillies
  7. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  8. Salt to taste
  9. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  10. Red chilli powder to taste
  11. 4-5 tablespoons powdered jaggery or to taste
  12. 1 teaspoon roasted cumin powder

Method:

  1. Remove the stem from the raw mango, if any. Cut it up into large pieces, discarding the seed. Keep the raw mango pieces aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan. Add in the panch phoron, and allow it to stay in for a couple of seconds.
  3. Turn the flame to medium. Add in the dry red chillies (each broken into two), asafoetida and curry leaves. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds, taking care to ensure that they do not burn.
  4. Now, add the raw mango pieces to the pan, along with salt and red chilli powder as well as turmeric powder. Saute on medium flame for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Now add water to the pan, along with the jaggery powder. Cover and cook on medium flame for about 2 minutes. The mango should get cooked through, but not get overly mushy. Switch off gas at this stage.
  6. Mix in the roasted cumin powder.
  7. Serve the Amba Khatta hot or at room temperature with rice or as an accompaniment to a thali. If you don’t plan on serving the Amba Khatta immediately, allow it to cool completely, then store in a clean, dry, air-tight container.

Notes:

  1. I have used a semi-raw totapuri mango (as shown in the picture above) to make this Amba Khatta. Totapuri mangoes aren’t very sour, so I didn’t have to use much jaggery. If you are using another, more sour version of raw mango, you might have to increase the quantity of jaggery you use.
  2. Adjust the quantity of water you use, depending upon how thick you want the Amba Khatta to be.
  3. I make the roasted cumin powder at home, though you can use a store-bought version. To make it, just dry roast some cumin in a pan till fragrant, taking care not to burn it, then allow it to cool down and powder coarsely. Store this in a clean, dry, air-tight container, and use as needed.
  4. Panch phoron is the Bengali five-spice mix that includes mustard, fenugreek, kalonji or onion seeds, cumin and fennel seeds. I use a store-bought version, but you can also make your own at home.
  5. Add the roasted cumin powder at the very end, after the dish has finished cooking and the gas has been switched off. This will help retain the fragrance of the cumin powder in the dish.
  6. Traditionally, mustard oil is used in this dish, which gives it a unique flavour and fragrance. However, since I did not have any mustard oil, I have used ordinary refined oil to make the Amba Khatta.
  7. I have not peeled the raw mango here – I just chopped it into large-ish pieces and used them to make the Amba Khatta. You may peel the mango if you so prefer.
  8. Stored in a clean, dry, air-tight container and refrigerated, the Amba Khatta stays well for up to a week.

Did you like the recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

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This recipe is for the Shhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge that I am part of. Every month, the members of this group get together to cook dishes from a particular region of India. This month, the place in question is Orissa.

I was paired with Renu of Cook With Renu for the challenge, who assigned me two secret ingredients – panch phoron and raw mango. Check out Renu’s space for many interesting traditional Indian dishes and some world cuisine recipes, as well as some lovely bakes. For this month’s Odia cooking challenge, I gave Renu the two secret ingredients of fenugreek and jaggery, and you have to see the gorgeous confection she has come up with using them!

I used the two assigned ingredients to prepare the Amba Khatta as above, with inputs from my house help.

I’m also sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #278.

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Hilton Turns 100, Celebrates With A Big Bash

I had the pleasure of being part of a very special birthday bash, last weekend, and am here to tell you all about it!

Hilton Hotels & Resorts has always been known for its hospitality and excellent service. The chain completed 100 years this May, an event that was celebrated with a grand bash last weekend at DoubleTree Suites by Hilton, Sarjapur, Bangalore. I thoroughly enjoyed the celebrations, along with some other bloggers from the city.

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The in-house restaurant at DoubleTree Suites By Hilton, Sarjapur – Asia Alive – beautifully decked up for the birthday bash

Asia Alive, the restaurant at DoubleTree Suites By Hilton, Sarjapur, was home to a lavish brunch affair on this day. A unique brunch was served to us to commemorate the special occasion, including favourites from Hilton hotels across the globe. Specially curated by Executive Chef Tanmoy Majumder, the brunch spread was quite elaborate – from North Indian curries to maki rolls, various salads and desserts to dimsums and noodles!

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Some of the dishes from the extensive brunch buffet at Asia Alive

I loved most of the food I tried out from the brunch buffet, but the Aloo Methi Masala, Waldorf Salad, Ratatouille Stuffed Peppers, Avocado Sesame Rolls, Lauki Ka Kofta, Papdi Chaat and Chocolate Brownies stole my heart. The live music playing at the venue kept us humming throughout the brunch.

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Scenes from the dessert counter at the 100th birthday-special brunch buffet by Asia Alive

After the brunch, we were shown a demonstration on the making of the chocolate chip cookies that DoubleTree is known for, the world over. It was a treat to watch the pastry chef take us through the steps in the baking of these sweet treats. The freshly-baked cookies were nothing short of fantabulous, and I now understand why they are so much loved!

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Left: DoubleTree’s famed chocolate chip cookies, straight out of the oven; Top right and bottom right: The making of the said cookies

Mr. Subhabrata Roy, General Manager, DoubleTree Suites By Hilton – Bangalore, then went on to deliver a note of welcome. He was joined by Mr. Bhojraj Sharma, F&B Manager, DoubleTree Suites By Hilton – Bangalore.

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The Hilton team, addressing the bloggers at the birthday bash. From left to right: Ms. Megha Garg, Assistant Manager – Marketing & Communication; Mr. Subhabrata Roy; Mr. Bhojraj Sharma; Mr. Tanmoy Majumder

The guests present at the brunch and the bloggers then joined the Hilton team in lighting earthen lamps, to commemorate the special occasion.

Check out those pretty diyas in the shape of a 100!

The afternoon ended with the cutting of a magnificent cake that was just as unique as the brunch. Check it out for yourselves!

The grandiose cake that was cut on the occasion of Hilton’s turning 100

Would you like to experience the beautiful brunch that I enjoyed, too? The brunch is open for all at Asia Alive on June 2 and 9, 2019, between 12.30 and 4 PM. The buffet is priced at INR 1299 per head with soft beverages and at INR 1699 per head with alcoholic beverages, plus taxes. This is something you must try out, people!

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I’m sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #279. The co-hosts this week are Liz @ Spades, Spatulas & Spoons and Jenny @ Apply To Face Blog.

 

 

Godhumai Rava Upma Kozhukattai| Wheat Dalia Pidi Kozhukattai

Pidi Kozhukattai or Upma Kozhukattai is an all-time favourite breakfast or snack option at our place, with everyone in the family loving it. It is the dish I often resort to making when I have members from the extended family over. This Tamil Nadu special is quite simple to make, after all, and a steamed snack that needs very minimal oil. Traditionally made using rice and a lentil (either chana daal, moong daal or toor daal), Pidi Kozhukattai makes for a healthy, wholesome and hearty snack. Today, I present to you the recipe for Wheat Dalia Pidi Kozhukattai, a healthier version of the traditional dish made using broken wheat.

For years, I made Pidi Kozhukattai the traditional way, using rice. It is only in recent times that I started making them with alternative grains like corn dalia and broken wheat. I am pretty pleased with the outcome, I must say. The use of alternative grains has rendered the dish all the more healthier, yet delicious and wholesome as always. This Wheat Dalia Pidi Kozhukattai is now a much-loved dish in my household – in fact, this version is made quite often at my place, and we hardly miss the one with rice!

Wheat dalia – also called broken wheat, Godhumai Rava in Tamil – has long been recommended by nutritionists and dieticians as a healthier alternative to rice, especially for diabetics. These Wheat Dalia Pidi Kozhukattai are, therefore, great for those afflicted with diabetes and, in general, for those who want to eat healthier. They are entirely plant-based, suitable for vegans. If you simply omit the asafoetida used in this recipe, it becomes a gluten-free dish as well.

Do try these lovelies out and let me know how you liked them!

Here’s how I make the Wheat Dalia Pidi Kozhukattai or Godhumai Rava Upma Kozhukattai.

Ingredients (makes about 12 pieces):

  1. 1 cup broken wheat
  2. 1/4 cup chana daal
  3. 2 dry red chillies
  4. 1 tablespoon oil
  5. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  6. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  7. 1 sprig curry leaves
  8. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  9. 2 green chillies
  10. 2-1/2 cups water
  11. Salt to taste
  12. 1/4 cup fresh grated coconut

Method:

1. Grind the broken wheat, dry red chillies and chana daal together, coarsely. Keep aside.

2. Peel the ginger and chop finely. Chop the green chillies into large pieces. Keep aside.

3. Heat oil in a pan. Add the mustard seeds and allow them to sputter. Now add the chopped ginger and green chillies to the pan, along with the asafoetida. Roughly tear the curry leaves with your hands and add them to the pan. Mix all the ingredients and let them stay in for 3-4 seconds. Make sure the ingredients do not burn.

4. Add the 2-1/2 cups of water to the pan, along with salt to taste. Mix well.

5. Keep the flame high, and let the water come to a boil. Now, reduce the heat to medium and add in the fresh grated coconut and the broken wheat mix we ground earlier. Stir constantly to ensure that no lumps are formed.

6. Stirring constantly, cook on medium heat for 3-4 minutes or till all the ingredients begin to come together, the water starts to dry out and the mixture begins to resemble upma. Switch off gas.

7. Allow the mixture to cool down a bit, covered so it doesn’t dry out too much.

8. When the mixture is cool enough to handle, grease a colander with a little oil, for steaming. Form about 12 oblong dumplings out of the mixture, using your greased hands. Place the dumplings in the greased colander.

9. Take about 1 cup of water in a pressure cooker bottom. Place a high stand over it, then place the colander with the dumplings on top of this. Make sure water will not touch the dumplings.

10. Close the pressure cooker. Do not put the whistle on. Cook the dumplings on high heat for 10-12 minutes.

11. Let the dumplings cool down slightly before handling them. Serve them hot or at room temperature, with chutney of your choice.

Notes:

1. The broken wheat I used was quite big in size, so I ground it up coarsely along with the chana daal and dry red chillies. I just barely crushed it, and did not make a fine powder. If you are using fine broken wheat, there is no need to grind it.

2. I have not washed the broken wheat or chana daal. I just coarsely ground them, dry. Alternatively, you could soak the chana daal and dry red chillies for 15-20 minutes in a little water, then grind them and then use the paste.

3. Do not overcook the broken wheat mixture, otherwise the kozhukattai might turn out hard. Cook it just until the water begins to dry up and it attains a consistency similar to upma. It hardens a bit more on cooling.

4. Adjust the quantity of coconut, green chillies and dry red chillies as per personal taste preferences.

5. Steam the kozhukattai for not more than 10-12 minutes, otherwise they might turn hard.

6. Wait for the steamed kozhukattai to cool down a little before you handle them, or they might break.

7. Simple coconut chutney is the best accompaniment to these broken wheat kozhukattai.

8. Traditionally, pidi kozhukattai are given an oblong shape, like I have here, or a round, ball-like shape. You can go with any shape you prefer.

9. You can even dry roast the broken wheat till fragrant, before you start making the upma kozhukattai. I haven’t.

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This recipe is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. Every Monday, a group of us food bloggers share recipes based on a pre-determined theme.

The theme this week is #GetInShape, suggested by Kalyani of Sizzling Tastebuds. For this hugely interesting theme, all of us are sharing how to make foods that have a geometric shape. After quite a bit of deliberation, I decided to go ahead with this Broken Wheat Upma Kozhukattai recipe.

I’m also sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #277. The co-hosts this week are Diann @ Of Goats and Greens and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

Easy Paneer Butter Masala Recipe

Paneer Butter Masala is, perhaps, one of the best known dishes from the Indian cuisine. Justly so, too, considering how scrumptious the dish is when made right. Melt-in-the-mouth cottage cheese cubes in a decadent, creamy gravy that is a little sour, a little sweet, a little spicy – what’s to not love? It is a dish we most often order while eating out with the extended family.

That said, it is quite simple to make creamy, delicious, restaurant-style Paneer Butter Masala at home. Today, I share with you my Easy Paneer Butter Masala Recipe, one that I have been using for years now, arrived at after several trials and tribulations. I make the curry without any heavy cream in it, trying to keep it as healthy as I can, and it still turns out absolutely fantastic. If you have the paneer ready, it will not take you more than 20 minutes to put it all together. Serve it with naan, parathas, rotis or any flatbread of your choice – or even some jeera rice – and you will have a winner of a meal on the table!

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Paneer Butter Masala is made in different ways by different families, different restaurants. This is the way I make it, and it might not be the most authentic of recipes, but I can assure you that it yields a finger-licking-good outcome! All of us at my place surely do love it.

One of the most important things in the making of perfect Paneer Butter Masala is in cooking the gravy well. I do not blanch the tomatoes or saute the onions beforehand, but smoothly puree them raw along with a few other ingredients, then cook the paste till the raw smell is completely gone. Another thing to remember is to use good-quality paneer that is soft and well-made. It is also important to ensure that you do not go overboard on the spices, and use them sparingly. Also, do not cook the curry too much after adding in the paneer – it needs to simmer for just a minute or so after.

If you are entertaining, the gravy for this Easy Paneer Butter Masala can be made a day in advance, with the paneer and other final touches being added to the dish just before your guests arrive. This is a gluten-free dish that can easily be made vegan too.

Let us now check out my Easy Paneer Butter Masala recipe, shall we?

Ingredients (serves 2-3) :

To grind :

  1. 4 medium-sized tomatoes
  2. 1 small onion
  3. 5-6 cloves of garlic
  4. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  5. 4-5 whole almonds
  6. 4-5 whole cashewnuts

Other ingredients :

  1. 200 grams paneer
  2. 1 tablespoon butter
  3. 1 bay leaf
  4. 2 green cardamom
  5. 4 cloves
  6. A small piece of cinnamon
  7. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  8. Salt to taste
  9. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  10. Red chilli powder to taste
  11. 1 tablespoon jaggery powder or to taste
  12. 1/2 cup milk
  13. 1/2 cup water
  14. 1/2 tablespoon chana masala or to taste
  15. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander
  16. 1/2 tablespoon kasoori methi

Method:

1. We will first grind the paste for the Paneer Butter Masala and keep it ready. For this, peel the ginger, onion and garlic cloves and chop roughly. Chop the tomatoes roughly. Halve the cashewnuts and almonds. Grind all of these ingredients together to a smooth paste without adding any water. Keep aside.

2. Cut the paneer into cubes. Keep aside.

3. Now, we will begin preparing the Paneer Butter Masala. Heat the butter in a pan, and add in the cardamom, cloves, bay leaf, asafoetida and cinnamon. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds.

4. Add the paste we ground earlier to the pan. Lower the flame to medium and cook the paste till the raw smell of the ingredients goes away and it thickens. This should take 4-5 minutes.

5. Now, add the milk and the water to the pan, along with salt, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, jaggery powder and chana masala. Mix well. Cook on medium flame for 1-2 minutes.

6. Add the paneer cubes to the pan. Mix well, gently. Cook on medium heat for a minute more. Switch off gas.

7. Garnish with kasoori methi and finely chopped fresh coriander. Serve with rotis, naan or flatbread of your choice.

Notes:

1. I prefer using the flavourful, tart ‘country’ (nati) tomatoes in the paste, as opposed to the ‘farm’ variety.

2. I use a small-sized red onion in the paste. It adds a bit of sweetness to the curry, and helps even out the tartness of the tomatoes.

3. I use a mix of almonds and cashewnuts to thicken the gravy. You can use only almonds or only cashewnuts to do so, too.

4. Make sure you grind the paste smooth, without any lumps in it. This is imperative for a delicious, great-quality Paneer Butter Masala. You can even pass the paste through a sieve, if you want to – I don’t.

5. Instead of sugar, I have used jaggery powder to sweeten the gravy. It balances out the tartness of the tomatoes, and I would not recommend leaving it out.

6. I have used boiled and cooled full-fat milk in the curry. It adds a whole lot of flavour and richness to the gravy.

7. It is important to cook the paste first, till the raw smell of the ingredients goes away. The milk and spice powders must be added only after this.

8. I like using Ciba Taaza brand of chana masala or rajma masala in this gravy, rather than garam masala. You may use garam masala instead, too. Adjust the quantity as per personal taste preferences.

9. You can gently fry the paneer cubes before adding them to the gravy too. I haven’t, so as to reduce the use of oil. Frying the paneer does take the taste of the curry up by several notches, but it tastes great even without doing so.

10. I have used store-bought ID brand paneer here. You can use home-made paneer instead, too.

11. Do not overcook the curry after adding in the paneer. This tends to make the paneer hard. Just simmer the gravy for about a minute after adding the paneer.

12. Add the coriander and kasoori methi to the curry at the very end, after switching off the gas.

13. Keep the gravy a little runny and not too thick. It thickens further on cooling.

14. Adjust the quantity of water depending on how thick the gravy is. Adjust seasonings accordingly.

15. The gravy can be made beforehand and refrigerated for up to a day. Make sure you add in the paneer just before serving and cook it all together for about a minute, on medium heat.

16. The almonds, cashewnuts and milk are enough to make the gravy rich and flavourful. There is no real need to add any cream.

17. Ideally, good-quality butter must be used to make this curry. However, you can also use a mix of oil and butter or only oil. I have used Amul butter here.

18. You can make the gravy without onion and garlic, if you so prefer. In that case, you can add in a little more milk and a couple more cashewnuts and almonds, or heavy cream to keep the sweetness and thickness intact.

19. This curry can easily be made vegan too – Just skip the butter, paneer and milk completely, in that case. In their place, you may use vegan butter, tofu and vegan milk respectively. If you want to use cream, you can use a vegan version.

Did you like the recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

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I’m sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #277. The co-hosts this week are Diann @ Of Goats and Greens and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

 

Amtekayi Uppinkayi| Instant Indian Hog Plum Pickle

Have you had the pleasure of biting into an Indian hog plum? If you haven’t, I would suggest you try to get your hands on some as soon as you can. It is a wonderful thing, this hog plum – it will make your mouth pucker with its sourness and refresh your taste buds like very few other foods will. No wonder it lends itself beautifully to things like pickles, gojju or the South Indian version of a relish, chutney and the likes. Today, I am going to present to you the recipe for a very delicious Instant Indian Hog Plum Pickle.

For the uninitiated, the Indian hog plum is a fruit that becomes available in Karnataka, particularly the coastal regions of Udupi and Mangalore, towards the end of summer. I understand it is also available in parts of Goa and Maharashtra too. The fruit has the scientific name of Spondias Mombin, while it goes by various other local names (‘Amtekayi‘ in Kannada, ‘Ambade‘ in Tulu, ‘Amra Kai‘ in Tamil, ‘Ambazhanga‘ in Malayalam and ‘Adavi Mamidi‘ in Telugu). From a distance, Indian hog plums look similar to baby mangoes, with their glossy green skin and slightly elongated shape – it is for this reason that some people also refer to the fruit as ‘Wild Mango’. Some also call this fruit ‘Ambarella‘.

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Tender Indian hog plums, with an undeveloped seed inside

Taste-wise, the Indian hog plum is not unlike a raw mango – quite sour. However, unlike a raw mango, it has a crunchy texture to it. Hog plums can be tossed with some salt and chilli powder and eaten raw or, like I was saying earlier, be used in dishes like pickles, chutney and relishes. It can also be used as a souring agent in various dishes, in place of green mango or tamarind.

The fruit possesses a number of health benefits, too – it is rich in Vitamin A and C as well as iron. Consumption of the hog plum aids in improving eye health, at the same time aiding in keeping one’s skin and hair healthy. They help in preventing anaemia, and in keeping cold and cough at bay. They are good for regulating one’s body temperature, keeping bad cholesterol under check and in preventing ailments of the gums and teeth. They also aid in controlling indigestion and constipation, as well as alleviating loss of appetite and anorexia. The leaves and bark of the tree are also used in traditional Indian medicine, for the treatment of ailments like diarrhoea, inflammation, cystitis and stomach ache.

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Amtekayi Uppinkayi or Instant Indian Hog Plum Pickle

The last couple of summers, I have been pickling these hog plums, in the same style as my mother makes raw mango pickle. This is an instant pickle – one that is very simple to make and does not require much prior preparation – and can be used immediately. This Amtekayi Uppinkayi (Indian hog plum pickle, in Kannada) tastes supremely delicious, making for a lovely accompaniment to curd rice. You have to try this out, I say!

Here is how I made the Instant Indian Hog Plum Pickle:

Ingredients (makes about 1 cupful):

  1. 20 hog plums
  2. 2 tablespoons salt
  3. 4 tablespoons red chilli powder
  4. 1/2 tablespoon turmeric powder
  5. 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  6. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  7. 1/4 cup oil

Method:

  1. Wash the hog plums well under running water, making sure all traces of dirt on them are removed. Pat dry using a cotton cloth, and sun-dry for an hour or so. Ensure that the hog plums are completely dry before you use them in making the pickle.
  2. Remove the stems from the dried hog plums, and chop them into cubes. Keep aside, in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Grind together the rock salt, turmeric powder, fenugreek seeds, red chilli powder and mustard seeds in a small mixer jar. You can keep the powder as fine or as coarse as you prefer. Transfer this spice mix to the mixing bowl.
  4. Take the oil in a small pan and place it on high flame. When it gets nice and hot, switch off the gas. Pour the hot oil over the hog plum pieces in the mixing bowl.
  5. Immediately mix the pickle gently, using a clean, dry spoon.
  6. When the pickle has come to room temperature, transfer it to a clean, dry, air-tight bottle (preferably glass or steel).
  7. Allow the pickle to soak for a couple of days at room temperature, mixing it up about twice a day for all the hog plum pieces to get evenly coated in the pickling spices. Keep it in the refrigerator after that, to avoid spoiling.

Notes:

  1. Buy tender, firm, unblemished hog plums for best results. It is easier to chop the fruits when tender, including the undeveloped seeds in them. The more mature ones tend to be fibrous, with fibrous seeds, and get difficult to chop and consume.
  2. There is no need to peel the hog plums before using them. Just chop them into cubes or into roundels and use them in making the pickle.
  3. If the hog plum seeds have started becoming fibrous, do remove and discard them before using in the pickle.
  4. I use rock salt (kallu uppu in Tamil) to make this pickle. You may use regular table salt instead, too.
  5. Sesame oil (nalla ennai in Tamil) is the best for making this Amtekayi Uppinkayi. It lends a beautiful fragrance and flavour to the pickle. However, in the absence of sesame oil, you may use any other oil of your preference.
  6. Adjust the quantities of salt, turmeric powder, asafoetida, fenugreek seeds, red chilli powder and mustard seeds you use, depending upon personal taste preferences. The above quantities work perfectly for us.
  7. Since we are making the Amtekayi Uppinkayi with limited salt and oil, it tends to spoil easily. I therefore keep it stored in the refrigerator, when not in use. When refrigerated and used hygienically, the pickle stays well for over a month.
  8. I prefer making this pickle in small quantities and consuming it quickly. You can make it in larger quantities too, but then you will need to be really careful about its storage and use.
  9. Use only a clean, dry, air-tight bottle (preferably steel or glass) to store the pickle. Use a clean, dry spoon only.
  10. This pickle can be consumed immediately after making it, but tastes best after the second day, when it has had some time to soak in the spices.

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Foodie Monday Blog Hop

This post is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop group that I am part of. Every Monday, the members of this group present recipes based on a pre-determined theme.

The theme this week is #ItsPickleTime, suggested by Aruna who blogs at Vasu’s Veg Kitchen. Aruna has a lovely blog that includes some beautiful, traditional South Indian dishes.

For this week’s theme, all of us are sharing summer-special pickle recipes. I chose to showcase the Instant Indian Hog Plum Pickle that we have grown very fond of, in the last couple of years.

I’m also sharing this post with Fiesta Friday #276.

Oki All Set To Tantalise Tastebuds With Its New Menu

One of these days, you must surely visit Kammanahalli and lunch at Oki. The long trek across the city, braving the heat and the traffic, will be totally worth it, I can tell you that. Now, you have all the more reason to trek across the city to this eatery (if you don’t live in that neck of the woods, that is) – Oki has come up with a fantastic new menu, which is all set to launch on May 20!

I had the privilege of sampling Oki’s new menu recently, expertly curated by Chef Surajit Ghara, along with a few other food bloggers from the city. I ended up getting wowed by the experience, by the sheer variety of the new dishes on offer, the perfection with which they have been executed, and the loveliness that they were taste-wise. Oki has created a name for itself in serving some amazing Pan-Asian food, and every bit of the new menu lives up to those standards.

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The simple but chic decor of Oki

The decor at Oki at simple but neat and chic. Tastefully chosen accents here and there – like silk pillows in Oriental style or the painting of elegant Chinese ladies on the walls – add class to the place. The food at Oki reflects the same philosophy – it is simple, but tastefully done, the flavours clean and bold. Let me take you, visually and literally, through all that we tried out at Oki, and all that I fell in love with at first bite.

Left: Gimbap or Korean Sushi, the vegetarian version; Top Right: Burmese Tea Leaf Salad; Bottom Right: Beetroot & Feta Cheese Maki Rolls

We tried out the vegetarian version of the Gimbap or Korean sushi, which was beautifully done. The vegetable-filled sushi had clean flavours, and was extremely delicious. The same was the case with the Beetroot & Feta Maki Rolls we tried next – the sweetness of the beetroot melded perfectly with the saltiness of the feta, to create a delectable whole. The Burmese Tea Leaf Salad was very well done, too, though it was a bit too pungent for my tastebuds.

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Flatbread with 5 Mushrooms, Pesto Cream & Jalapeno-Olive Salsa

The Flatbread with 5 Mushrooms, Pesto Cream & Jalapeno-Olive Salsa was absolutely, mind-blowingly delicious and, I would say, my most favourite dish of all that we tasted at Oki. The soft flatbread was cooked to perfection, the pesto cream silky smooth and fragrant, the plentiful toppings complementing the rest beautifully. I would highly recommend you try this out at Oki!

The dish we were served next, Garlic Bread With Artichoke Pate, went on to become a fast favourite with me too. The artichoke pate was so, so delicious I could eat it with all my meals every single day! It made for just the perfect accompaniment to the well-toasted, garlicky bread. This is another dish I cannot recommend highly enough at Oki!

I adore a well-made bowl of khao soi, and Oki’s Spicy Chiang Mai Khao Soi was exactly that. The coconut milk broth was supremely flavourful and, ladled over the flat rice noodles, it made for a hearty and filling meal.

Top Left: Garlic Bread With Artichoke Pate; Bottom Left: Spicy Chiang Mai Khao Soi; Top Right: Kimchi Ramen, the vegetarian version; Bottom Right: Vegetarian Dan Dan Noodles

The Kimchi Ramen was brilliantly executed too. Ramen noodles were served in a flavourful broth that was generously proportioned with various types of mushrooms. The taste was a tad too strong for me, though.

Next up, we were served Oki’s special Vegetarian Dan Dan Noodles, which I absolutely loved. The noodles were served with a generous dose of vegetables, in a spicy and delicious broth made using chilli oil and Sichuan pepper. You’ve got to try this out!

The Peach Berry Sauce Feta Crostini bowled me over. Sweet and sour and salty combined together in this dish to create a lovely, lovely whole. Slivers of peach served atop well-toasted bread, topped with sweet-sour cranberry sauce and a drizzle of salty feta – what’s to not love?

Top Left: Crostini With Peach, Berry Sauce & Feta; Bottom Left: Coconut Orange & Lemongrass Martini; Top Right: Peach Cinnamon Apple Crepes With Orange-Butter Sauce; Bottom Right: Chilli Mango Margarita

Oki does not serve alcohol at the moment, but does have some gorgeous mocktails on offer. To go with our meal, we were served two mocktails that will soon be part of the new menu here. The first, Chilli Mango Margarita, was one perfectly made drink, pretty inside and out! The mango was fresh and gorgeous, the hint of chilli in it only accentuating its flavour! This is something you absolutely mustn’t miss at Oki. The second, Coconut Orange Lemongrass Martini, was supremely beautiful in taste too. The flavours of coconut, orange and lemongrass melded perfectly to create this surprisingly light drink. I can’t recommend this highly enough!

And then, it was time for dessert! We were served Peach Cinnamon Apple Crepes With Orange-Butter Sauce, which was sheer brilliance. The crepes were pillow-soft, stuffed with delectable slivers of apple and peach. The orange-butter sauce drizzled on top was fruity and tangy, just the right amount of sweet and all kinds of delicious. The crepes were served topped with just a bit of sweet cream, which took the taste quotient up quite a few notches.

I loved my meal at Oki, and am sure it is something you will not regret either. It is one of the hidden gems of Bangalore, a highly under-rated place that deserves to be spoken of and eaten at. Don’t miss a gastronomical voyage at Oki – you can thank me later!

Limited parking is available.

Address: 403, Mariappa Road, Off Kammanahalli Main Road, Near Sena Vihar, Kammanahalli, Bangalore

Cost for two: Approximately Rs. 1500

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I’m also sharing this post with Fiesta Friday #276.

Sattu Ka Ghol| Savoury Sattu Drink

While holidaying in Calcutta a few years ago, experiencing Kali Pujo, the husband and I would often come across streams of people gulping down glasses of some sort of watery drink, at the carts of street-side vendors. The drink surely looked interesting, a pale brown in colour, with finely chopped onions, green chillies and coriander in it. Back then, we didn’t know what it was, but it surely looked like a thirst quencher – the heat was killing, and the drink seemed to be offering people some respite. We didn’t try it out. It was much later that I learnt what that drink was – Sattu Ka Ghol, or a savoury sherbet made using roasted black chickpea flour aka sattu or chane ka sattu.

I recently saw the recipe for Sattu Ka Ghol on Sasmita’s blog, First Timer Cook, and absolutely had to try it out. I made it with black pepper powder instead of green chillies, and kept it quite watery. It turned out simply beautiful – delicious, very refreshing, just the thing you need on a hot summer’s day. It took me not more than 5 minutes to put the Sattu Ka Ghol together!

Sattu is a powerhouse of nutrients, with several health benefits to it. No wonder blue-collar workers in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Bengal have been consuming it for ages! Of late, the many benefits of sattu are being recognised the world over, and it isbeing touted as a superfood. This Sattu Ka Ghol is a supremely easy (not to forget delish!) way of getting all those health benefits in! This is a vegan, completely plant-based drink, and a gluten-free one as well.

If you haven’t tried out Sattu Ka Ghol ever, you must definitely do so this summer. Here’s how I made it, following the recipe from Sasmita’s blog, with a few minor variations.

Ingredients (makes about 4 small glasses):

  1. 3 heaped tablespoons sattu
  2. 2 cups of chilled water or as required
  3. Black salt to taste
  4. 1 teaspoon black pepper powder or as per taste
  5. 1 teaspoon roasted cumin powder or as per taste
  6. Juice of 1 lemon or to taste
  7. 2 tablespoons very finely chopped onion (optional)
  8. 1 tablespoon very finely chopped fresh coriander

Method:

1. Take the sattu in a mixing bowl. Add in about 1/2 cup of the chilled water, and mix well till the sattu gets completely dissolved in the water.

2. Now, add in the rest of the chilled water, along with the black salt, black pepper powder, roasted cumin powder and lemon juice. Mix well, ensuring that all the ingredients are well combined together.

3. Pour the drink into serving glasses. Add some finely chopped onion (if using) and coriander to each serving glass. Serve immediately.

Notes:

  1. I have used store-bought sattu here, but you can make your own at home if you so prefer.
  2. Using the black salt is highly recommended, as it adds a lovely flavour and taste to the Sattu Ka Ghol. Do not substitute regular table salt for it, unless you absolutely cannot avoid doing so.
  3. Adjust the quantitites of all the above ingredients depending upon personal taste preferences and how light/thick you would prefer the Sattu Ka Ghol to be.
  4. Finely chopped green chillies can be used in place of the black pepper powder. I prefer using the black pepper powder, as I can avoid the danger of biting into a green chilly bit by doing so. 🙂
  5. If you so prefer, you can use a mix of finely chopped green chillies and black pepper powder to spice up the Sattu Ka Ghol.
  6. I have used home-made black pepper powder and roasted cumin powder here.
  7. Finely chopped fresh mint leaves can be added to the drink too. I haven’t.
  8. Adding the finely chopped onion to the Sattu Ka Ghol is optional, but I would highly recommend doing so. It adds a lovely bite and flavour to the drink.
  9. Make sure you use chilled water to make the drink. I prefer using water naturally chilled in an earthen pot over refrigerated water.
  10. Ensure that the sattu is well dissolved in the little water you initially add in, without any lumps, before adding the rest of the ingredients.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

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This post is for the Food Bloggers Recipe Swap group. Every month, the food bloggers who are part of this group pair up, with every pair cooking a recipe from each other’s blog. I was paired with Sasmita this month, and chose this Sattu Ka Ghol recipe from her blog.

Also, do check out the recipes that the other members of Food Bloggers Recipe Swap have come up with: Paniyaram by Mireille| Raw Banana Fry by Nayna| Veg Mayo Sandwich by Pavani| Mango Burfi by Lathiya| Oats Dosa by Usha| Pineapple Sorbet by Narmadha| Appam by Shalini| Poha Chivda by Sasmita| Turkish Semolina Pudding by Sandhya| Imli Ka Amlana by Jayashree

I’m also sharing this post with Fiesta Friday #276.

Nungu Sherbet| Ice Apple Lemonade With Rose

Today, I present to you the recipe for Nungu Sherbet, a delectable juice made using the flesh of the ice apple. Ice apples by themselves are a great thirst quencher, and they are utterly lovely when used in this drink. The combined forces of ice apples, rose and lemon used here make this juice an ultimately refreshing one, simply perfect for the hot days of summer.

Ice apples are an exotic fruit for many across the world, but quite a common summer delight in India. Well, at least in a few parts of India, especially the South, ice apples are hugely popular as a thirst quencher. I like to think of the fruit as nature’s way of making sure that we stay hydrated in the hot days of summer. Called ‘tadgola‘ in Hindi, ‘nungu‘ in Tamil and ‘thati nungu‘ in Kannada, ice apples are actually the fruit of the Palmyra tree.

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The various stages of the ice apple! Top left: A street-side vendor selling bunches of ice apple; Bottom left: A close-up of whole ice apples; Top right: Ice apples, after being extracted from the whole fruit; Bottom right: A peeled ice apple

The most common way of consuming ice apples is by peeling away the thin skin over it and eating the tender flesh inside, raw. Ice apple flesh is also used in making several delicacies in India – Nungu Sherbet, Nungu Paal (milk) and Nungu Payasam (kheer) in Tamil Nadu, for instance, and taal-er-bora or palmyra fritters in Bengal. The sap from the palmyra tree is also consumed – called ‘padhaneer‘ in Tamil. Both the ice apple flesh and the sap are believed to be full of health benefits.

Ice apples can be a pain to peel but, trust me, the gorgeous taste of the fruit is worth every bit of it. Once you have the fruit peeled and ready, it is super easy to make Nungu Sherbet or Ice Apple Lemonade With Rose. I have used home-made rose syrup here, so I can control the amount of sugar and the quality of ingredients going into my sherbet.

Now, without further ado, let’s check out the recipe for this supremely delicious and refreshing Nungu Sherbet!

Ingredients (serves 2):

  1. 4-5 tender ice apples
  2. 1/4 cup rose syrup
  3. About 1-1/2 cups chilled water
  4. Juice of 1/2 lemon

Method:

  1. Peel the ice apples and chop the flesh into cubes. Keep ready.
  2. Take the water in a large mixing bowl. Add in the lemon juice and rose syrup. Mix well.
  3. Pour the rose-lemon water equally into two tall juice glasses.
  4. Top the glasses with the chopped ice apple. Serve immediately.

Notes:

  1. I have used home-made rose syrup to make this Nungu Sherbet. Here’s how I made the rose syrup. You can use a store-bought version instead, too.
  2. You can use a different-flavoured syrup in place of rose syrup too. Nannari (sarsaparilla) syrup, for instance, or khus (vetiver) syrup.
  3. For best results, use ice apples that are tender but a bit firm, not the ones that are overly tender or rock hard. You will find these easier to peel and chop up, to make the Nungu Sherbet.
  4. Use chilled water to make this Nungu Sherbet. I prefer using water that has been chilled in an earthen pot, rather than using refrigerated water.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

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Foodie Monday Blog Hop

This recipe is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. Every Monday, the participants of this group share recipes based on a pre-determined theme. The theme this week – suggested by Amrita of The Food Samaritan – is #ThirdLetterMagic, wherein all of us have to share a recipe beginning from the third letter of our names. Since my name is Priya, I got the letter ‘I’ and decided to present this Ice Apple Lemonade With Rose.
I’m also sharing this post with Fiesta Friday #275. The co-hosts this week are Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook and Laurena @ Life Diet Health.

Experience Flavours From The Streets Of India, Now At Bombay Brasserie

The bustling 12th Main in Indiranagar is home to several restaurants, serving a variety of cuisines. Bombay Brasserie, one of the eateries on this road, has managed to create a loyal clientele for itself, in the two or so years of its inception. The place is almost always packed, especially so on the weekends. There is a Street Food Festival running at Bombay Brasserie now, and I was recently invited over to sample the special festival menu. I ended up having a lovely experience!

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Street Food Festival, now on at Bombay Brasserie, Indiranagar

Ambience

I have always loved the charming, rustic decor of Bombay Brasserie and the warm, lively vibes here. Think lots of blue and white wood, good use of glass, ample natural light and greenery, rope-strung lights and cutesy antiques on display. The inside can get a bit noisy, but the outdoor seating is simply lovely, and that is just where I was seated to sample the Street Food Festival Menu.

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Check out those swings!

This is just the sort of eatery you can unwind at with your family. This is not a cramped, dull space, but a spacious one, youthful and vibrant, full of chic.

Ain’t that pretty?!

Street Food Festival at Bombay Brasserie

The regular menu at Bombay Brasserie is a good blend of interesting food and drinks from around India, which is something I love. There are classics from across the country, some of which have been retained in their original form while some have been given an unique twist. The Street Food Festival menu is an extension of this – it includes flavours from the streets all over India. There’s Juhu Beach Gola or Bhatiyar Galli (Ahmedabad) Mutton Tikka, for instance, or Benares-style Mattar Stuffed Kulcha & Aloo Rassa, Chinese Bhel and Cochin’s famed Kulukki Sherbet.

What I tried out

Here’s a low-down on the things I sampled at Bombay Brasserie, and those that I loved the best.

From the drinks menu, I had:

Kairi Sherbet A sweet and sour and salty sherbet made with raw mango, which hit all the right spots. It was delightfully refreshing, especially so on the hot summer’s day when I visited.

Kutchi Beer – This is a ‘beer without beer’, as the folks at Bombay Brasserie put it. It is, in fact, buttermilk mixed with black salt, cumin, green chillies, mint and coriander, served in a beer bottle. The Kutchi Beer I was served was a bit too high on salt, which prevented the other flavours from coming through.

Cochin Kulukki Sherbet – This is a lemon-green chilli-ginger sherbet that is always shaken, never stirred, from the bylanes of Cochin. A potent concoction this is, perfect for hot days. The Bombay Brasserie version was quite different from the sabja seed-laden Kulukki Sherbet of Cochin, but was delish nonetheless.

From left to right: Kairi Sherbet, Kutchi Beer and Cochin Kulukki Sherbet, at Bombay Brasserie

From the appetisers, here’s what I sampled:

Aam Puri Chaat – Staying true to the current mango season everywhere, this is Bombay Brasserie’s version of aam golgappas. Crispy puris are served with a sweet-spicy-tangy mango paani, topped with lots and lots of sev. The abundance of cold paani in the puris was a tad overwhelming for me, but I understand this dish has received rave reviews from most mango lovers.

Crispy Suji Bites – These savoury cakes are made using suji (semolina/rava), crisp on the outside, soft and gooey on the inside. They are served topped with coarsely crushed fine peanuts from Bharuch, fried garlic and chilli, along with some in-house dips. Quite an interesting play of flavours and textures this was, and I loved it.

1960 ‘Atho‘ Salad – This is popular street food in Madras, made popular by the Burmese immigrants in Tamil Nadu. It is a cold salad made with noodles, wheat crispies, tamarind, cabbage, onions, chilli and garlic – does that sound like a weird combination? I wouldn’t say I loved this, but I liked it quite a bit.

Top Left: Aam Puri Chaat; Top Right: Crispy Suji Bites; Bottom Right: 1960 ‘Atho‘ Salad; Bottom Left: A close-up of the Aam Puri Chaat

What did we have for main course? Here goes:

Mattar Stuffed Kulcha & Aloo Rassa – This was one exquisite platter, hailing from the streets of Benares, that had me licking my fingers. The Aloo Rassa was beautiful, potatoes cooked to perfection in achaari masala. It made for the perfect complement to the kulcha, supremely soft and stuffed with a delectable green-pea filling. This is a must-try at Bombay Brasserie, according to me.

Tarkari Masaledar – I absolutely loved the Tarkari Masaledar, a melange of vegetables and paneer served in a spicy, slightly sweet, caramelised onion gravy. It was perfectly done, cooked just right. The fragrant spice mix used in the sabzi bowled me over!

Top: Mattar Stuffed Kulcha & Aloo Rassa; Bottom: Tarkari Masaledar

I ended the meal with two sweet treats:

Juhu Beach Gola – This was one soul-satisfying affair! The kala khatta ice gola was simply perfect, a lovely blend of sweet and sour. It instantly transported me back to my childhood when I would patiently wait for my final exams to get over, so I could get my hands on an ice gola off the streets. This gola, though, was prepared in a highly hygienic manner! Served in a cutting chai glass, this was a delight to eat and photograph. I would highly recommend you to try this out!

Bombay Falooda – This was another beautiful dessert by Bombay Brasserie! The falooda was perfectly made, everything in it just right – from the sevai and the toasted nuts to the rose milk. It brought back fond memories of summer holidays spent sipping on cool, fragrant, home-made rose milk. Don’t miss this, I say!

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Left: Juhu Beach Gola; Right: Bombay Falooda

I hope you guys had fun on this gastronomical journey with me!

Do check out the Street Food Festival at Bombay Brasserie, Indiranagar, too. There’s a range of interesting dishes up for grabs. The festival is on till May 31, 2019.

Valet parking is available.

Cost for two: Rs. 2000-2500

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I’m sharing this post with Fiesta Friday #275. The co-hosts this week are Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook and Laurena @ Life Diet Health.

Sugarsnap Peas Stir-Fry, Indian Style

I was thrilled to come across sugarsnap peas in Namdhari’s, a while ago. I had only ever read about this variety of peas before, mostly in connection with dishes like pasta, salad and Oriental-style stir-fries. Keen to try them out, I picked up a few packets of these sugarsnap peas – and this stir-fry with Indian spices is what happened in the kitchen with them.

I’m not sure what the Indian names for sugarsnap peas are. For the uninitiated, I’ll say that these are smallish, flat pods with minimal or no peas inside. It is the pods that are meant to be eaten, after discarding the strings attached to them. The pods taste sugary sweet – hence the name – and are so tender that they are cooked within seconds.

Sugarsnap peas aren’t exactly easy to find in India. A few large departmental stores stock them, as specialty produce stores like Namdhari’s and Godrej Nature’s Basket do sometimes. Nutritionally, sugarsnap peas rank a bit higher than the regular Indian green peas. They are good sources of iron, fibre, Vitamins C and K, as well as potassium. They are best consumed raw or briefly cooked, such as in a stir-fry.

I wanted to use the sugarsnap peas in making something very Indian, and that is how this stir-fry came about. It was a delight to cook, this stir-fry – it came together within minutes! It tasted simply lovely – sweet and spicy and slightly tangy – and made for a gorgeous, different-from-the-usual accompaniment to the phulkas I served them with. It is an entirely plant-based, vegan dish that can be made gluten-free if you only skip the asafoetida that has been used here.

This stir-fry is reminiscent of the Matar Ke Chilke Ki Sabzi that is quite a popular winter dish in North-Western India. The very tender pods of Indian green peas are used to make this sabzi, in the peak of winter, when they are in season. This stir-fry of mine, too, can be cooked with in-season tender green pea skins, in case you are unable to find sugarsnap peas.

Now, without further ado, here’s presenting to you the recipe for my Sugarsnap Peas stir-fry, Indian style.

Ingredients (serves 2-3):

  1. About 400 grams sugarsnap peas
  2. 2 teaspoons oil
  3. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  4. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  5. Salt to taste
  6. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  7. Red chilli powder to taste
  8. 1/2 tablespoon of jaggery powder or to taste
  9. 1 teaspoon chana masala or to taste
  10. 1 teaspoon amchoor powder or to taste
  11. 2 tablespoons fresh grated coconut
  12. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander

Method:

1. Remove the tops from the sugarsnap peas, as well as the strings. Chop each pea pod into half, and keep them ready.

2. Heat the oil in a pan. Add in the cumin seeds and the asafoetida. Allow them to stay in for a couple of seconds. Mix well, and turn the flame down to medium.

3. Add in salt to taste, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, jaggery powder, chana masala and amchoor powder. Mix well.

4. Cook on medium flame, uncovered, for a minute or two or until all the ingredients are well incorporated together. Switch off gas.

5. Mix in the fresh grated coconut and finely chopped fresh coriander. Serve with rotis or rice.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

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MLLA128

I’m sharing this post with My Legume Love Affair (MLLA) #128. This is a monthly event that celebrates legumes, started by Lisa of Lisa’s Kitchen and Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook. Every month, the participants share a recipe each using any one type of legume. This month, MLLA is being hosted by Renu of Cook With Renu.

I’m also sharing this post with Fiesta Friday #275. The co-hosts this week are Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook and Laurena @ Life Diet Health.