Batata Poha| Aloo Poha

Batata Poha or Aloo Poha is a light and simple dish that can be rustled up in under 20 minutes. This makes it a wonderful brekkie option for busy weekdays, or to serve as a light dinner. When made right, it tastes absolutely fabulous too!

Today, I am going to share with you all the way I make Batata Poha.

What is Batata Poha?

Batata Poha aka Aloo Poha refers to flattened rice (‘aval‘ in Tamil), cooked with potatoes. This delicious confection is a favourite breakfast in several parts of India, especially up north.

Poha is cooked differently in different parts of India (this Tomato Poha on Priya Vijaykrishnan’s blog is an example). In Ahmedabad, I grew up with the Gujarati version of Aloo Poha – sweetish, mildly spicy and sour – and that’s exactly how I like it. In today’s post, I am going to be sharing the recipe for poha made in this style, garnished with chopped onions and coriander, often topped with sev and pomegranate. I have fond memories of relishing this Gujju-style poha (locally called ‘Bateta Pauwa’) at street-side breakfast joints.

What goes into this Batata Poha

The major ingredient here is flattened rice or poha, of course. I use the medium-thick variety of poha from Bhagyalakshmi brand. This is neither the paper-thin poha that is meant for frying nor the thick variety that needs to be soaked. Just washing it in running water is good.

Potatoes are another important component of this dish too, which is spiced with green chillies. A simple tempering of mustard, cumin and asafoetida goes in. Lemon juice and jaggery are used for flavouring the poha, and I have served it topped with coriander and chopped onions.

How to make Batata Poha or Aloo Poha

This is how I go about making it.

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

1. 2 cups flattened rice (poha), medium-thick variety

2. 2 medium-sized potatoes

3. 2 green chillies

4. 1 tablespoon + 1/2 tablespoon oil

5. 3/4 teaspoon mustard seeds

6. 3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds

7. 2 pinches of asafoetida

8. Salt to taste

9. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

11. Juice of 1 small lemon or as per taste

12. 2 tablespoons jaggery powder

13. 1 tablespoon finely chopped coriander

14.1 small onion, finely chopped (optional)

Method:

1. Peel the potatoes and chop into small cubes. Cut the green chillies into halves. Cut the lemon and keep it ready.

2. Take the flattened rice in a colander. Wash well under running water. Leave undisturbed for some time, for all the water to drain out.

3. In the meantime, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the cubed potatoes and a little bit of salt. Turn the flame down to medium. Saute the potatoes for 3-4 minutes or till they are cooked through and start browning. Then, transfer the cooked potatoes to a plate and keep aside.

4. By this time, all the water would have drained out of the flattened rice. Fluff it up gently.

5. Now, heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in the same pan we used earlier. Add in the mustard seeds and allow them to sputter.  Next, add in the asafoetida and cumin seeds. Allow them to stay in for a couple of seconds, taking care to ensure that the ingredients do not burn. Turn the flame down to low-medium. Add in the cooked potatoes. Mix gently.

6. Add in the drained flattened rice and the chopped green chillies. Mix well.

7. Add in salt to taste, turmeric powder and jaggery powder. Mix well.

8. Cook for about 3 minutes on low-medium flame or till all the ingredients are well incorporated together. Stir intermittently. Taste and adjust salt and/or jaggery at this stage and switch off gas.

9. Mix in the finely chopped coriander and lemon juice. Your Aloo Poha is ready. Serve it hot, garnished with finely chopped onion (if using).

Is this recipe vegan and gluten-free?

This Aloo Poha recipe is completely vegetarian and vegan, suited to those following a plant-based diet.

It is not gluten-free because of the use of asafoetida. Most Indian brands of asafoetida contain wheat flour, to a lesser or greater extent, and are therefore best avoided when one is following a gluten-free diet. So, simply skip the asafoetida used in the tempering if you want to prepare a gluten-free version of this poha. However, if you are able to find 100% gluten-free asafoetida, you could definitely go ahead and use it.

Tips & Tricks

1. I add in the green chillies only after the drained poha is added to the pan. This helps keeps the spice level moderate.

2. Make sure you don’t overcook the potatoes. They should be cooked through but not mushy. Cook them on medium flame without adding any water.

3. Adjust the quantity of jaggery, green chillies and lemon juice as per personal taste preferences. The above quantities work perfectly for us.

4. Sugar can be used in place of the jaggery. I would not recommend skipping the sweetener completely, but you can definitely do so if you do not prefer it.

5. Do not overcook the poha. After the poha is added to the pan, mix it with the potatoes and other ingredients and cook for just about 3 minutes. Overcooking will render the Aloo Poha hard and chewy.

6. I prefer cooking the potatoes separately first, and then adding them to the poha later, the way I have done here. This way, the tempering stays fresh and doesn’t get too burnt. Alternatively, you can do the tempering first, add in the chopped potatoes, let them cook, then add in the poha to the pan.

7. Curry leaves and finely chopped ginger can be used in the tempering too, as can peanuts. I don’t use them because we do not prefer them in this dish.

8. Pomegranate arils, finely chopped tomato and fine sev can also be used to garnish the Aloo Poha. I have not used them, here.

9. Skip the onion if you aim to prepare a no-onion no-garlic version of the poha.

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

Sri Lankan Dal| Dhal Curry

Dhal Curry refers to lentils cooked Sri Lankan style, a delicious accompaniment to rice. Also referred to as Parippu Curry or just Dhal, this dish is usually thick and creamy. Today, let me take you through the process of making this Sri Lankan Dal.

If you have been reading my blog for some time now, you would know how much I am fascinated by food from different parts of Asia. Our holidays in Thailand have led to me cooking a lot of Thai food at home. I have also dabbled a bit in Indonesian and Malaysian flavours (and loved the experience!). My latest obsession is Sri Lankan flavours – in some part due to the gorgeous Sinhalese song Manike Mage Hithe that has gone viral lately, and partly because the husband has been working closely with a Sri Lankan colleague these days. Both of these situations have given me a glimpse into the beauty that Sri Lanka is. While visiting Sri Lanka remains a distant dream, I have been trying to get closer to the country in my own way – by reading up about its culture and by making some of its dishes in my kitchen. This Dhal Curry is one such Sri Lankan dish I prepared, and it turned out so flavourful that it became an instant hit with the family.

What goes into Dhal Curry

The ingredients used in Dhal Curry are quite similar to those used in our Indian dal varieties, but the flavour profile is completely different. The husband’s colleague was sweet enough to sate my curiosity about Sri Lankan food and tell me how to cook a few basic dishes. This Dhal Curry might not have been possible without the pointers he gave me.

Dhal Curry is typically made using masoor dal or toor dal or a mixture of both. I have used a mix of both types of lentils here.

Coconut milk is an essential part of the Dhal Curry, which gives it its creaminess and flavour. Pandan leaves (called ‘rampe’ in Sinhalese) are also an important part of this dish.

Sri Lankan curry powder – a spice mix made using ingredients like coriander seeds, fennel, cumin and cinnamon – is another important ingredient that elevates this dish. There are little variations in the curry powder recipe from one family to another. From what I understand, a combination of ground coriander seeds, fennel and cumin seeds works as a good substitute – which is just what I have used here. Madras Curry Powder is another close substitute too.

How to make Dhal Curry

Here is how to go about it. It is a simple enough dish to put together.

Ingredients (serves 4):

1. 1/2 cup masoor dal

2. 1/4 cup toor dal

3. Salt to taste

4. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

5. 1/2 teaspoon roasted coriander powder

6. 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds powder

7. 1/2 teaspoon roasted cumin powder

8. Red chilli powder to taste

9. 1/2 cup thick coconut milk

10. 3/4 cup water or as needed

11. Juice of 1/2 lemon or as needed

12. 1 tablespoon of finely chopped coriander (optional)

For the tempering:

1. 1 medium-sized onion

2. 1 medium-sized tomato

3. 4-5 cloves of garlic

4. 3/4 tablespoon coconut oil

5. 3/4 teaspoon mustard seeds

6. 3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds

7. 2 dry red chillies

8. 2 green chillies, slit length-wise

9. 1 sprig of fresh curry leaves

10. 2 small pieces of pandan leaves

Method:

1. Take the masoor dal and toor dal in a wide vessel. Wash well under running water. Drain out the water.

2. Now, add in enough fresh water to cover the lentils completely. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker. Pressure cook on high flame for 6-7 whistles or till the lentils are thoroughly cooked and soft. Let the pressure release naturally.

3. In the meantime, we will prep the other ingredients required for tempering the Sri Lankan Dal. Chop the onions and tomatoes finely. Peel the garlic cloves and crush them coarsely, using a mortar and pestle. Keep ready.

4. Put together the other ingredients needed for the tempering – mustard, cumin, dry red chillies, slit green chillies (not shown in the picture above), curry leaves and pandan leaves. Keep ready.

5. When the pressure from the cooker has completely gone down, get the cooked lentils out. Mash thoroughly.

6. Take the mashed lentils in a heavy-bottomed pan and place on high flame. Add in salt to taste, turmeric powder, roasted coriander and cumin powder, fennel seeds powder and water as needed. Mix well and allow to come to a boil.

7. At this stage, turn the flame down to low-medium. Add in the coconut milk, stirring constantly. Now, allow the mixture to cook on low-medium flame for 3-4 minutes.

8. In the meantime, we will prepare the tempering for the Sri Lankan Dal. In another pan, heat the oil and add in the mustard seeds. Once they sputter, add in the cumin seeds, dry red chillies, pandan leaves and curry leaves. Let these ingredients stay in for a couple of seconds.

9. Add in the chopped onion and crushed garlic. Saute on medium flame for about 2 minutes or till the onions start browning.

10. Now, add the tomatoes and slit green chillies to the pan, along with a bit of salt. Cook on medium flame till the tomatoes soften. Sprinkle a bit of water if the ingredients get too dry.

11. When the tomatoes are soft, add the tempering to the lentil mixture simmering in the other pan. Mix well. Let everything simmer together for 2 minutes, then switch off gas. Adjust salt at this stage and add in more water if the mixture has gotten too thick. Keep it slightly runny as the mixture has the tendency to thicken up with time.

12. Mix in the lemon juice and coriander (if using). Your Sri Lankan Dal or Dhal Curry is ready. Serve it hot with steamed rice, with sambol or a dry curry on the side.

Is this Dhal Curry vegan and gluten-free?

The above recipe is completely vegetarian and vegan, suited to those following a plant-based diet. It is entirely gluten-free as well.

Tips & Tricks

1. Adjust the amount of water you use, depending upon the consistency of the Dhal Curry you require.

2. I have used fresh pandan leaves here, which I bought from Trikaya online. You may use frozen pandan leaves instead too. It is also not too difficult to grow a pandan plant in a small apartment garden. Either way, I would highly recommend using the pandan – it imparts a lovely fragrance to the Dhal Curry.

3. I have used a mix of roasted coriander powder + roasted cumin powder + fennel powder here. Instead of this, a dash of Sri Lankan curry powder can be added to the dal, too. Madras curry powder can also be used as the closest substitute for the Sri Lankan curry powder.

4. From what I understand, in several Sri Lankan dishes, the tempered ingredients are added in at the very end. This helps retain the freshness of the tempering. Hence, I have followed the same proceedure here – I have added in the tempered spices + onion + garlic + green chillies + curry leaves + tomato + pandan leaves at the end, after the lentils have simmered for a bit.

5. Adjust the quantity of lemon juice you add, depending upon personal taste preferences. The same goes for the number of green chillies you use.

6. I have used a mix of masoor dal and toor dal here. You may use 3/4 cup of either lentil, instead.

7. Some Sri Lankan families add in spices like fennel seeds, cloves, cinnamon and green cardamom to the tempering too (especially when there’s no curry powder used). However, this is purely optional and I have avoided them.

8. I have used store-bought coconut milk from Dabur. You can make it at home instead, too. Adjust the quantity as per personal taste preferences, but don’t overdo it. Too much of coconut milk makes the dal extremely creamy and detracts from its taste.

9. Remember to keep the Dhal Curry on the runnier side. It thickens up quite a bit with time. The ideal consistency of Sri Lankan Dal, from what I understand, is thick, definitely not watery, somewhat similar to our Dal Fry.

10. I have used cold-pressed coconut oil here, in the tempering. Feel free to use any other variety of oil that you prefer.

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

Karonde Ki Chutney| Kalakai Sweet Pachadi

Karonde Ki Chutney refers to a sweet-and-sour relish made from the Carissa Carandas fruit. While the fruit is more popular by its Hindi name (‘karanda’), it is also referred to as Carandas Plum and Bengal Currant. The Tamil name for the fruit is ‘Kalakkai‘, and that it is not the same as fresh cranberries, contrary to what many online articles state.

I have always craved to try out Karonde Ka Achaar, Carandas Plum pickle that I have heard people from up north raving about. Sadly, the fruit is not very commonly available here in Bangalore. Some time ago, I was overjoyed to find it – for the first time ever – in Gandhi Bazaar. Of course, I had to get some home! I pickled most of them, and made Karonde Ki Chutney with the rest. Both taste fabulous, but my heart lies with the chutney! In today’s post, I am going to share with you all the way I made the chutney.

A closer look at Carissa Carandas aka Karonde

The Carissa Carandas fruit is rich in Vitamins A and C, iron, phosphorus and calcium. It is known to help in the treatment of anaemia, digestive disorders, fever, cough and skin diseases. (Information Courtesy: Wikipedia).

The fruits have a sour taste and possesses naturally occurring pectin, which makes them just the perfect candidate for pickles, jams, jellies and chutneys. I also recently read about large amounts of karonda being injected with red colour and sugar syrup in West Bengal, then distributed across India, to be used as ‘cherries’ in desserts. So, in all likelihood, growing up in India, most of us have, knowingly or unknowingly, eaten the karanda – in the guise of ‘maraschino cherries’ aka ‘bakery cherries’ or ‘glace cherries‘. 😁 There are several articles and videos online about this – do check them out!

The prickly plant on which the Carandas Plums grow was an important part of the Great Indian Salt Hedge in the pre-Independence era. The Britishers constructed a 2500-mile long hedge in the middle of India, to prevent the smuggling of salt. The hedge was made of thorny plants like Carissa Carandas, prickly pear and bamboo. There are precious few written records of the Britishers discovering the immense potential of these berries, including a recipe by a certain Mrs. J Bartley for ‘Kurwunder Jelly’ in the book ‘Indian Cookery General For Young Housekeepers’.

About this Karonde Ki Chutney

Like I was saying earlier, Karonde Ki Chutney is a an absolutely delicious relish. Carandas Plums are de-seeded and cooked till soft, with sugar added in to balance the sourness of the fruit. The use of other spices like red chilli powder, roasted cumin powder and garam masala makes the chutney very, very flavourful. I am especially fond of the black salt (‘kala namak‘ in Hindi) that goes into this chutney – it quite literally elevates the dish to a whole new level.

This Karonde Ki Chutney recipe is based upon my conversation with my cook, who offered me glimpses into how the sour fruit was used in North Indian households he works in. It was thanks to him that I was able to nail the recipe, and such a keeper it is! It wouldn’t be wrong to call this chutney Kalakai Sweet Pachadi, considering it is similar to the way Manga Pachadi is made, only with a North Indian touch to it. It is a simple recipe, but one that needs careful watching over to achieve perfect results.

Karonde Ki Chutney or Kalakai Sweet Pachadi makes for a beautiful accompaniment to rotis and parathas. The relish can also be served as part of a complete thali meal.

Karonde Ki Chutney recipe

Here is how to go about it. This is a completely vegetarian, vegan (plant-based) and gluten-free recipe.

Ingredients (makes about 1 cup):

1. About 1 cup carandas plum (aka karonde or kalakkai)

2. Salt to taste

3. 1 cup sugar or as per taste

4. 3/4 teaspoon red chilli powder

5. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

6. 1 teaspoon roasted cumin powder

7. 3/4 teaspoon black salt (kala namak)

8. 1/2 teaspoon garam masala

Method:

1. Wash the carandas plums well under running water, removing all traces of dirt from them. Drain out all the water from them, then wipe dry using a cotton cloth. Now, cut the washed and dried plums into two and scoop out the seeds using a knife.

2. Take the de-seeded plums in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in a bit of salt. Place on high flame. Saute for a minute.

3. Now, reduce the flame to medium. Add in about 3/4 cup of water. Cook on medium flame for 4-5 minutes or till the plums get softer. Stir intermittently.

4. When the plums have become nice and soft, add in the sugar. Keep the flame still at medium. Mix well.

5. The mixture will become runny at this stage once the sugar is mixed in. Now, add black salt, turmeric powder, salt and red chilli powder to taste. Mix well.

6. Turn the flame down to low-medium. Continue to cook on low-medium flame for 3-4 minutes or till the mixture starts thickening. Stir frequently to ensure that the mixture does not burn.

7. When the mixture begins to thicken, add in the garam masala and roasted cumin powder. Mix well. Cook on low-medium flame for 2 more minutes or till the mixture thickens up a bit more. Switch off gas when the mixture has thickened, but is still quite runny. It will thicken further upon cooling.

8. Let the mixture rest in the same pan and cool down completely. Your Karonde Ki Chutney is ready to be bottled. Store refrigerated in a clean, dry, air-tight bottle. Use as needed, as an accompaniment to rotis, bread or as part of a complete thali meal.

Tips & Tricks

1. Adjust the amount of sugar, salt and red chilli powder as per personal taste preferences.

2. Before beginning to make the chutney, try out one of the plums to get an idea of how sour they are. Then you will know approximately how much sugar you will need.

3. Though I have not tried that out, I think you can make this chutney using jaggery in the place of sugar. You may even use a mix of sugar and jaggery.

4. Make sure you use a heavy-bottomed pan to cook the chutney. Keep the flame at low-medium mostly, to prevent sticking to the bottom of the pan.

5. If the water dries out and you feel the plums haven’t completely cooked, you may add in some more water. Adjust the quantity of water depending upon the way the plums cook.

6. You may keep the carandas plums whole too and remove the seeds while eating. However, it’s a better eating experience when you de-seed the plums beforehand.

7. You may add a tempering of mustard, asafoetida and dry red chillies to this Karonde Ki Chutney. I didn’t do so.

8. This is the first time I have made this Karonde Ki Chutney or Kalakai Sweet Pachadi, so I don’t have an exact idea of its shelf life. I am told that it keeps for at least 20 days when well cooked, refrigerated and used with a clean, dry spoon.

9. Don’t forget to stop cooking the chutney when it is still on the runnier side. It thickens up quite a bit upon cooling.

10. I make roasted cumin powder in small quantities and keep it bottled, to use as required. I dry roast a few tablespoons of cumin seeds in a pan on medium flame till they start crackling and turn fragrant. Then, I let them cool down completely and crush them coarsely in a small mixer jar.

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

Instant Rava Dhokla| Sooji Dhokla

Instant Rava Dhokla refers to a sort of savoury snack cake from the state of Gujarat. Made using rava aka sooji, the dhokla can be put together in minutes, without any prior preparation. The dish is cooked by steaming and requires minimal oil. Today, I am sharing the recipe for Instant Rava Dhokla (also called Sooji Dhokla), the way I learnt it from a Gujarati family friend years ago.

A closer look at Instant Rava Dhokla

Dhokla, the popular Gujarati snack, has many different versions. I have, on my blog, the recipes for Khatta Dhokla, Safed Dhokla (Idada), Mug Na Dhokla and Khatta Dhokla (method 2). Some of these require fermentation, while some are the ‘instant’ variety. The Rava Dhokla recipe I am sharing today belongs to the latter category, wherein the batter does not need fermentation. This is, therefore, a wonderful breakfast or snack option when you need to put together something delicious in a jiffy. And, yes, these Instant Rava Dhokla are absolutely delish!

These dhokla are made using fine rava, soured with curd, a hint of citric acid and a dash of lemon juice (if needed). Eno Fruit Salt, a popular Indian antacid, is what is commonly used to make these dhokla soft and fluffy. Do read my earlier blog post on Instant Khaman, where I have written about the use of citric acid and Eno in the making of Gujarati dishes.

Like all the other dhokla recipes mentioned above, this Instant Rava Dhokla is also cooked by steaming. I use a pressure cooker for the steaming, but you may use an idli steamer instead too. Speaking of steamed foods, I absolutely loved my fellow food blogger Preethi’s recipe for Kothimbir Vadi – can’t wait to try it out!

Please do note that these Instant Rava Dhokla are NOT vegan (plant-based) and gluten-free. They are completely vegetarian and free of onion and garlic.

How to make Instant Rava Dhokla

Here is how we make them.

Ingredients (serves 2-3):

1. 1 cup fine rava

2. Salt to taste, about 1-1/4 teaspoons

3. About 1-1/2 tablespoons sugar

4. 2 generous pinches of citric acid

5. Juice from a small wedge of lemon, 2-3 teaspoons (optional)

6. A small piece of ginger

7. 1 green chilli or as per taste

8. 1/2 cup thick curd

9. 3/4 cup water + more as needed

10. 1 tablespoon oil + some more for greasing the steaming vessel

11. 1 sachet of regular Eno fruit salt, about 1-1/2 teaspoons

For the tempering and garnishing:

1. 1 tablespoon oil

2. 3/4 teaspoon mustard seeds

3. 1 teaspoon sesame seeds

4. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander

Method:

1. Dry roast the rava for about 2 minutes in a heavy-bottomed pan. Take care to ensure that it does not burn. When done, transfer to a mixing bowl and allow it to cool down completely. Skip this step, if you are using store-bought pre-roasted rava.

2. When the roasted rava has completely cooled down, add salt, sugar and citric acid. I have used powdered sugar here.

3. Peel the ginger and chop roughly. Chop the green chilli roughly too. Grind the chopped ginger and chilli coarsely in a small mixer jar, using very little water. Add the ground paste to the mixing bowl.

4. Add the thick curd and the water to the mixing bowl. Mix well.

5. Keep the batter aside, covered, for 15-20 minutes. Allow it time to rest.

6. After 15-20 minutes, we will start steaming the dhokla. Take about 2 cups of water in a pressure cooker bottom and place it on high flame. Place a trivet inside the cooker bottom. Grease a wide vessel with a little oil and place it on the trivet, inside the cooker. Let the water in the bottom of the cooker start boiling and the greased vessel get heated up.

7. In the meantime, check on the batter we prepared earlier. It would have become quite thick. Add in about 1/4 cup water or as needed to bring the batter to a consistency that is neither watery nor too thick. Adjust salt as needed and mix well.

8. When the water in the cooker bottom starts boiling, add the Eno fruit salt to the batter. Mix well, using your hands, in one direction only. Make sure the Eno is well incorporated into the batter. Pour the batter immediately into the heated greased vessel.

9. Close the pressure cooker at this stage. Now, cook on high flame for 18-20 minutes without putting the whistle on. Once this is done, wait for 5-7 minutes before opening the pressure cooker. Insert a skewer into the centre to check whether the dhokla is done or not. If uncooked, cook for a few more minutes. If cooked through, remove the dhokla and proceed to the next step.

10. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a small tempering pan. Add the mustard seeds and allow them to sputter. Now add in the sesame seeds, and allow them to stay in for a couple of seconds. Then, switch off gas and pour this tempering evenly all over the dhokla. Garnish with the finely chopped coriander. The Instant Rava Dhokla is now ready – serve immediately or when warm or at room temperature.

How to serve these Instant Rava Dhokla

These dhokla are quite flavourful, and do not really require any accompaniment. However, if you want to, they go beautifully with a Gujarati-style Kadhi Chutney. This Hari Chutney also pairs well with the dhokla.


Tips & Tricks

1. Use the fine variety of rava, also called Bombay rava or local rava. The thicker variety (Bansi rava) is not very well suited to making this dhokla.

2. Adjust the quantity of green chilli, salt and sugar as per personal taste preferences.

3. Make sure you use regular-flavoured Eno Fruit Salt. Other flavours like lemon and orange are not recommended. For best results, use a fresh packet of Eno that hasn’t been lying around for too long.

4. Sour curd works best in the making of this Instant Rava Dhokla. Add the lemon only if your curd is not sour enough. If the curd is sour, you may skip the lemon.

5. Adjust the quantity of water you use depending upon the consistency of the batter you require. After soaking for 15-20 minutes, the rava will absorb all the water and become quite thick. Adjust water to bring the batter to a cake batter-like consistency. For the perfect dhokla, the consistency of the batter must be neither too thick nor too watery. Also adjust the salt at this stage.

6. Do not let the batter sit after adding the Eno fruit salt. Add the Eno just before steaming the dhokla. Remember to mix the batter well after adding the Eno, preferably using your hands, in one direction only.

7. Before beginning the steaming process, make sure to bring the water in the pressure cooker or steamer to a boil and that the greased vessel is also heated up. Only then add the batter to the greased vessel.

8. The steaming of this Instant Rava Dhokla takes 18-20 minutes, depending upon the consistency of the batter. The dhokla is ready when a toothpick inserted into the centre of it comes out clean. Check done-ness after 5-7 minutes of switching off the gas.

9. I have used only mustard seeds and sesame in the tempering, plus coriander for garnishing. You may add some curry leaves, green chillies and/or asafoetida to the tempering too. Fresh grated coconut can also be used in the garnishing.

10. Skip the sugar if you do not prefer using it. I prefer adding it – the little amount of sugar does not make the dhokla overly sweet, but rounds off the other flavours beautifully.

11. I have used roasted rava from the Double Horse brand. If you are using unroasted rava, do dry roast it for a couple of minutes before proceeding to make the Instant Rava Dhokla. Many make the dhokla without roasting the rava, but I personally feel the roasting enhances the texture and taste of the dish. I would definitely recommend roasting.

12. The combination of Eno fruit salt and citric acid (along with sour curd and lemon juice, if using) causes the batter to bubble and foam. This is what helps make the dhokla soft and spongy. I have heard of people using baking soda as a substitute for Eno, but I have never tried that. I find Eno works beautifully.

13. You may skip using ginger and green chillies in the batter, if you do not prefer them. My family likes them, so I prefer adding them in.

14. If you so prefer, you may skip adding oil into the batter and also reduce the amount of oil used in the tempering. Personally, though, I would recommend not doing so – the oil keeps the dhokla from becoming too dry and helps keep it soft.

15. This Sooji Dhokla is best served immediately after preparing, but it keeps soft for at least a day. So, if you are pressed for time, you can definitely make it ahead of serving.

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

Thengai Poornam Kozhukattai| Kozhukattai Recipe

Thengai Poornam Kozhukattai is a popular offering on the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi, in South India. It refers to a sort of steamed dumpling, for lack of better words. The outer shell is made using rice flour, and the sweet filling within is made with coconut and jaggery. In today’s post, let me share with you all my family’s way of making Thengai Poornam Kozhukattai.

Ganesh Chaturthi recipes on my blog

Different kinds of modak (‘kozhukattai‘ in Tamil) are prepared for Ganesh Chaturthi, as it is believed that they are one of Lord Ganesha’s favourite foods. There are several other special dishes also prepared for the occasion. Kara Ammini Kozhukattai, Pidi Kozhukattai, Vella Payaru, Vellai Kondakadalai Sundal, Peanut Laddoo, Wheat Dalia Pidi Kozhukattai, Fruit & Nut Chocolate Modak, Corn Dalia Pidi Kozhukattai, and Pottukadalai Maa Laddoo are some festive dishes from my blog that you might want to check out.

About Thengai Poornam Kozhukattai

These kozhukattai with the sweet coconut filling are a heritage offering to Lord Ganesha, especially in Tamilnadu. Just a few ingredients are required to make them, and they taste absolutely wonderful.

Making the kozhukattai is not a very difficult task per se, but they do require practice to get them perfect. I have shared detailed notes here, to explain the process as clearly as possible, to help achieve the best of results.

Thengai Poornam Kozhukattai Recipe

Here is how to go about making them.

Ingredients (makes about 12 pieces):

For the filling:

1. 1 cup fresh grated coconut

2. 1/2 cup jaggery powder

3. About 1/2 cup water

4. 3/4 teaspoon cardamom powder

5. 3/4 teaspoon ghee

For the outer covering:

1. 2 cups water

2. A pinch of salt

3. 1/2 teaspoon oil + more as needed for greasing hands and steaming vessels

4. 1 cup rice flour

Method:

We will start by preparing the sweet coconut filling.

1. Take the jaggery powder in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in 1/2 cup water or just enough to cover the jaggery. Place the pan on high flame, and allow the jaggery to melt completely in the water.

2. When the water comes to a rolling boil, reduce flame to medium.

3. At this stage, add the grated coconut to the pan, stirring constantly. Mix well. Cook on medium flame for 3-4 minutes. By this time, the water will dry out and the coconut mixture will start thickening.

4. Add in the cardamom powder and mix well. Cook for a minute or so more or till the mixture starts comes together as a solid mass.

5. Still keeping the flame at medium, add the ghee to the pan. Mix well, and switch off gas. Do not cook further as that will make the mixture rock-solid. It will thicken some more upon cooling.

6. The coconut filling is ready. Set it aside and allow to cool completely.

In the meantime, we will prepare the dough for the outer covering.

1. Take 2 cups of water in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in a pinch of salt and 1/2 teaspoon oil. Place the pan on high flame and allow it to come to a rolling boil.

2. At this stage, reduce the flame down to low-medium. Add in the rice flour little by little, stirring constantly with one hand. The rice flour will immediately soak up all the water. Break up lumps with the back of a ladle and cook the dough on low-medium flame for about 2 minutes.

3. Now, turn the flame down to the lowest and allow the dough to cook covered for a minute. Switch off gas. Mix in the oil.

4. Let the dough stay in the pan, covered, for some time till it cools down enough to handle. Don’t let it cool down completely – let it get just warm enough to handle comfortably. At this stage, knead the dough well to a smooth, soft texture without any cracks. Keep it covered till you need it.

Now, we will start preparing the kozhukattai.

1. When both the rice flour dough and the coconut filling have completely cooled down, we will start preparing the kozhukattai. Grease your hands well with oil and pinch out a small portion of the dough, keeping the rest of it covered. Shape a thin bowl out the dough, using your hands.

2. Place a couple of tablespoons of the coconut filling in the bowl. Do not overstuff it – use just enough filling. Gather the dough on the sides little by little and form the shape of a modak/kozhukattai as shown in the step-by-step pictures.

3. Prepare kozhukattai out of all the dough and filling, in a similar manner. Keep ready.

4. Heat water in an idli steamer and allow it to come to a boil. Grease the idli plates with oil and keep them ready.

5. When the water in the steamer starts bubbling, place a greased plate inside. Arrange a few kozhukattai atop the plate, without overcrowding.

6. Close the steamer and cook on medium flame for 10-12 minutes. You will know the kozhukattai are done when they start looking glossy. Remove them onto a plate. Replenish the water in the steamer if needed, allow it to come to a boil, then cook a few more kozhukattai in a similar manner. Repeat until all the kozhukattai are steamed and ready. Serve within an hour or so, as they tend to become dry with time.

Tips & Tricks

1. This recipe uses a little amount of ghee and is, hence, not vegan (plant-based). If you want to make vegan kozhukattai, substitute the ghee with coconut oil or sesame oil.

2. The above recipe is completely vegetarian and gluten-free.

3. I have used organic country (Nati) jaggery here, which gives the coconut filling its deep brown colour. You may use regular jaggery instead, too. The colour of the filling depends upon the variety of jaggery you use.

4. I have used an idli steamer to cook the kozhukattai. You may steam them in a vegetable steamer or a pressure cooker too.

5. Do not overcrowd the steamer while cooking the Thengai Poornam Kozhukattai. Cook them a few at a time.

6. Do not steam the kozhukattai for more than 10-12 minutes as that might render them hard.

7. Adjust the quantity of jaggery you use as per personal taste preferences.

8. Traditionally, rice was soaked overnight, then ground into a batter and cooked to make the outer covering for these kozhukattai. Considering that it is a very tedious process, most families these days use rice flour instead (home-made or store-bought). I have used store-bought rice flour from a brand called Anil.

9. Always keep the rice flour dough covered, to prevent it from drying out. This will help in preparing perfect, crack-free kozhukattai.

10. Don’t overcook the coconut filling. This can cause the filling to become very hard and chewy.

11. I have shaped the kozhukattai using my hands. You may use a mould to do so.

12. The coconut filling can be prepared a day in advance, while it is best to make the rice flour dough fresh.

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