Dahi Kela| Sweet Yogurt And Banana No-Cook Recipe

This week’s theme for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop, the 102nd edition, is ‘No Fire Recipes’ or dishes that are cooked without the use of the gas. The theme does allow the use of barbecue grills, electric toasters and sandwich makers, as well as OTG and microwave ovens, as these appliances run either on fire or electricity and not on gas. But then, I wanted to make something for the blog hop that is absolutely ‘No Cook’, which just needs assembling and no cooking at all, neither on the gas nor on a grill or oven. So, I decided to put up a simple recipe – Dahi Kela – that we have been making, in our family, for ages now.

Foodie Monday Blog Hop

Dahi kela is a very easy thing to put together, a task that needs barely 5 minutes. This sweet yogurt and banana dish makes for a lovely accompaniment with rotis and parathas, a saviour on days when you do not have anything else to serve them with or when you are too lazy or tired to whip up something else. It can be a dessert, too, if you so please. What’s more, this is a healthier alternative to many oily, masala-laden side dishes. And, like I said earlier, it requires absolutely zero cooking. Do you need any more incentive to try this dish out? 🙂

I’m not sure of the origin of this dahi kela recipe, but I have had it often as part of Gujarati thalis back when I was living in Ahmedabad. I have also often seen this dish being prepared at the Brahmakumari’s centre that my grandparents used to frequent, on festivals and other auspicious occasions. As far as I know, Gujaratis believe the combination of curd (yogurt) and sugar, which this recipe involves, to bring good luck to the eater. Amma began to make the dahi kela at home too, because I love it, and then, in time, I began to make it too.

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Dahi kela, a beautiful no-cook sweet yogurt and banana confection. Hand model: Amma 🙂

Now, let’s look at the recipe for the dahi kela, shall we?

Ingredients (serves 2):

  1. 2 cups curd (yogurt)
  2. Palm sugar, to taste
  3. 2 medium-sized bananas
  4. Cardamom (elaichi) powder, to taste

Method:

  1. Take the yogurt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk gently, adding a little water if you think it is too thick.
  2. Cut the bananas into rounds and add them to the yogurt.
  3. Add sugar and cardamom powder, to taste.
  4. Mix well, but gently.
  5. Serve immediately, or after chilling for a while in the refrigerator. You can serve this with rotis or parathas, as an accompaniment, or on its own, as a dessert.

Notes:

  1. I use Robusta bananas to make the dahi kela, because I simply love them. You could use smaller bananas like Yelakki too, but you might want to use more of them in that case.
  2. I use home-made curd that isn’t very thick, to make this dish. If you are using store-bought curd that is very thick, use slightly more water. However, do ensure that you do not make it too watery – the dahi kela is supposed to be reasonably thick in consistency.
  3. You could omit the cardamom powder if you so please, but I wouldn’t recommend that. Personally, I think it adds a beautiful fragrance to the dish.
  4. If you are making the dahi kela well in advance before you plan to serve it, it would be a good idea to store it in the refrigerator till serving time. This will ensure that the curd doesn’t get overly sour, as it is prone to do at room temperature, especially in the hot months of summer.
  5. Use fresh curd that isn’t very sour, to make the dahi kela, for best results.
  6. I use palm sugar to make this dish, to make it (relatively) healthier. If you don’t have it, you could use ordinary refined sugar instead.
  7. You could add dried fruits, other fresh fruits, saffron and nuts to the dahi kela, too. I usually avoid these things, because I like keeping this dish clean and simple.

Do you make dahi kela at home too? What is your version like?

If you have never tried it out before, please do! Don’t forget to tell me how it turned out!

 

Dangar Pachadi| A Forgotten Urad Daal Raita From Tamilnadu

This month’s theme for the Shhhh Cooking Secretly Facebook group is ‘Chutneys’. All the participating bloggers were challenged to whip up a chutney that makes use of the two secret ingredients their partner assigns them with.

I have been paired with Kriti Singhal Agrawal, the talented blogger who writes at Krispy Kadhai, this month. She assigned me ‘curd’ and ‘any fresh herb’ as my secret ingredients. I decided to make Dangar Pachadi, a long-lost heirloom recipe from Tamilnadu, that uses curd, roasted urad daal, coriander (the fresh herb!) and, sometimes, curry leaves. Well, technically, this is a raita and not a chutney, but then, anything ground and mixed into curd will inevitably become a raita, right? So, I decided to let that be.

Like I was saying earlier, dangar pachadi is a traditional recipe from Tamilnadu, particularly the Tanjore region, which has been lost somewhere in the chaos of modern life. There is another variation of this raita too that used to be prepared back in the olden days – a version that used roasted urad flour instead of urad daal – called dangarma (colloquial for ‘dangar maavu‘) pachadi. ‘Dangar maavu‘ here refers to ‘urad flour’.

This pachadi has a very interesting history associated with it. Apparently, there was once a section of Brahmins from Maharashtra residing in the South Indian district of Tanjore, called the Tanjore Marathis. It is these Tanjore Marathis who are believed to have invented the dangar pachadi.  ‘Dangar‘ is the Marathi word for ‘the dough used to make papads‘, i.e. urad daal flour. A variation of this recipe was popular among traditional households in Maharashtra as well.

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Dangar pachadi, or a traditional Tamilnadu roasted urad daal raita

Dangar pachadi is something that my mother has grown up eating frequently, a dish I’ve heard her talk about often, but something I haven’t had too many times. I have never tried making it before. Amma was more than happy to teach me how to make this raita, for this challenge, and that is how this post happened. The raita turned out delectable, the smell of roasted urad daal in it heavenly. I served the dangar pachadi with Gujarati-style bajri-methi na thepla, and I am pretty sure it would go wonderfully well with any kind of parathas or as a side dish for rotis. Traditionally, this raita would be served with rice-based dishes.

Now, let’s learn how to make this beautiful raita, shall we?

Ingredients (serves 2-3):

  1. 1 cup curd
  2. Salt, to taste
  3. 2 tablespoons urad daal
  4. 1 tablespoon oil
  5. 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
  6. 2 green chillies, slit length-wise
  7. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  8. A few stalks of fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped

Method:

  1. Dry roast the urad daal in a pan, on medium flame, till it emits a lovely fragrance. Transfer to a plate and keep aside to let it cool down completely.
  2. In the meantime, whisk the curd well. Add salt to taste.
  3. Add the finely chopped coriander leaves to the curd.
  4. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan, and add the mustard seeds. Let them splutter. Turn down the flame to medium. Now, add the asafoetida and split green chillies. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds, and then add to the curd mix.
  5. When the roasted urad daal has completely cooled down, use a mixer to pulse it to a coarse powder. Add this powder to the curd mix.
  6. Mix everything well, ensuring that all the ingredients are thoroughly incorporated together.
  7. Serve with parathas, rotis or any rice preparation.

Notes:

  1. I used home-made curd that wasn’t too thick. If you are using very thick, store-bought curd, use about 3/4 cup and 1/4 cup of water.
  2. Increase the quantity of urad daal, if you think you’d like it that way.
  3. Make sure you roast the urad daal lightly, till it emits a good fragrance. Take care to ensure that it doesn’t burn.
  4. Increase the quantity of green chillies, if you would like the raita to be slightly more spicier.
  5. You need to just coarsely crush the roasted urad daal, and not make a fine powder.
  6. Curry leaves can be added to the raita, too, but I skipped them.
  7. If you aren’t planning on using the dangar pachadi immediately, you should refrigerate it until use so that it doesn’t turn too sour.

You like? I hope you will try this dish out too, and that you will love it just as much as we did!

Sago Fritters, 3 Ways| Healthy No-Fry Sabudana Vada

I’m so thrilled to be associated with this amazing group of food bloggers, as part of something that is called the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. These ladies decide upon a theme every week, cook something based on that theme, and each one posts her dish on her blog the coming Monday! Foodie Monday Blog Hop completed 100 weeks the last week, and I am so excited to have joined this group of very talented bloggers now, at the milestone of the 101st week. 🙂

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The theme for this week’s Foodie Blog Hop is ‘vrat ka khaana‘ or ‘food that you can eat while fasting’. Soon, the month of August will set in, and the festive season will begin in India. With the onset of the monsoons, a lot of people fast on various festive occasions, and a whole lot of delicacies are cooked up then. I don’t really have much experience with fasting, but I do have some basic knowledge of the ingredients that are commonly ‘allowed’ during these times.

For this week’s blog hop, I decided to post about a fasting food that my family and I love having at any time – Sago fritters aka sabudana vada. Here, I have included three different ways to prepare sabudana vada – the traditional deep-fried version, the shallow-fried version for the calorie-conscious, and the appam pan version for those who don’t want to compromise on either health or taste.

Now, let’s check out how to make sabudana vada, shall we?

Ingredients (serves 4):

1. 1-1/2 cups of sago (sabudana)

2. Rock salt (sendha namak), to taste

3. 6 medium-sized potatoes

4. 3-4 tablespoons sugar

5. A small bunch of fresh coriander leaves

6. A 1-inch piece of ginger

7. 2 green chillies

8. Red chilli powder, to taste

9. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

10. 1/2 cup raw peanuts

11. 2 pinches of asafoetida (hing)

12. Oil, as needed to make the fritters

Method:

Get the batter for the sago fritters ready first, and then proceed to make them whichever way you want.

For the batter:

  1. Soak the sago in just enough water to cover it, for about 2 hours. Then spread it out in a colander and let the excess water drain away. Keep the sago this way, covered, till you use it.
  2. Cut each potato into two, and pressure cook the pieces, for 4 whistles. When the pressure releases completely, run cold water over the potatoes and peel them. Mash the potato pieces. Keep aside.
  3. Chop the coriander leaves finely. Keep aside.
  4. Dry roast the peanuts on medium flame, till they are crisp. When they are cool enough to handle, remove the skins. Pulse them for a second or two in the mixer. You need to just coarsely crush them and not make a fine powder. Keep aside.
  5. Peel the ginger, and chop it finely. Chop the green chillies finely too. Crush the ginger and green chillies using a mortar and pestle, and keep the paste aside.
  6. In a large mixing bowl, add in the mashed potatoes, roasted peanuts, crushed ginger and green chillies, salt and red chilli powder to taste, chopped coriander, and turmeric powder. Mix well.
  7. Now, add in the soaked sago to the mixing bowl. Mix well, but gently.

Now, you can use this batter to make sabudana vada, as little or as much guilt-free as you want it to be!

To make the deep-fried version

The deep-fried sabudana vadas will be beautifully crispy on the outside, yummylicious inside. This is my most favourite way to make sago fritters but, of course, it comes with guilt associated to it, thanks to the deep frying.

  1. Heat enough oil to fry the sago fritters, in a heavy-bottomed pan, over high flame.
  2. When the oil is nice and hot, reduce the flame to low-medium.
  3. Make rounds, fritters or flat cutlets out of the batter and fry them in the hot oil, a couple at a time. Fry them until crisp and brown on the outside, turning them gently now and then, to ensure that they are well cooked on all sides.
  4. Transfer to a serving plate. Serve immediately.
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Left: Deep-fried, crispy sabudana vada, Right: Shallow-fried, not-so-crispy, but still delish sabudana vada

To make the shallow-fried version

This version of sabudana vada is equally tasty, but not as crunchy on the outside as the deep-fried ones. However, it consumes a lesser amount of oil as compared to the deep-fried version.

  1. Heat a dosa pan on high flame, till drops of water dance on it.
  2. Spread a teaspoon or so of oil on the pan. Reduce the flame to low-medium.
  3. Make flat patties out of the batter and place a couple of them on the pan. Drizzle some oil around them.
  4. Let the patties cook on low-medium flame till the bottom gets browned.
  5. Then, flip over and cook on the other side, adding a little more oil around the patties.
  6. Transfer to a serving plate. Serve immediately.
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Left: Healthy, no-fry sabudana vada being made in an appam pan, Right: The finished product, straight out of the appam pan!

To make the healthier appam pan version

Did you know that you can make healthy, no-fry sabudana vada in an appam pan? The vada made this way are just as crispy and delish as the deep-fried version, but use just a fraction of the oil!

  1. Heat an appam pan on high flame till water droplets dance on it.
  2. Turn down the flame to low-medium.
  3. Form small balls out of the batter and place one each in each cavity of the appam pan.
  4. Drizzle some oil around each ball.
  5. Let the balls cook, covered, till they are crisp and browned on the bottom.
  6. Then, flip them over to the other side, and drizzle some more oil around them.
  7. Cook again, covered, till they turn crisp and brown on the other side as well.
  8. Transfer to a serving plate. Serve immediately.

Notes:

  1. Sendha namak or rock salt is typically used in dishes during fasting in India, in place of table salt. If you plan to make these sabudana vada on a casual day, and not for the purpose of fasting, you can add regular table salt instead.
  2. On a non-fasting day, sabudana vada can be served as is, or with tomato ketchup or spicy green chutney. Here‘s how I make the spicy green chutney – You can make it without onion and garlic, if you are making it for the purpose of fasting.
  3. We, as a family, have never really fasted, so I am not very sure of the kinds of ingredients that can be used to cook ‘fasting food’. Moreover, the ingredients that are ‘allowed’ to be consumed during fasting differ from one region to another, one family to another. Here, I have tried to use ingredients that I have seen other families, other people, use during fasting. If you plan to make these vadas for the purpose of fasting, please do check on the ingredients as per your family’s guidelines.
  4. We like the hint of sugar in our sabudana vada – they taste a lot like Gujarati sabudana khichdi. You may avoid adding the sugar, if you don’t want to.

You like? I hope you’ll try out each of three versions of sabudana vada too! When you do, please don’t forget to tell me how they turned out!

Elotes| Mexican Street-Style Corn On The Cob

Grilled corn on the cob, coated with a creamy sauce, drizzled with lemon juice and red chilli powder, sometimes decked up with coriander, and served with a dash of grated cheese on top are, apparently, a popular street food in Mexico. Street-side carts do a brisk business of selling this corn on the cob, locally called ‘Elotes’.

Ever since I tried out Mexican street-style corn on the cob or Elotes at Chinita,  a few months ago, I had been thinking of trying it out at home. I never got around to doing that, though, till this weekend. I am thrilled with the way they turned out!

The little reading I did on the Internet gave me several different ways of making Elotes. Some recipes used mayonnaise, some didn’t. Some recipes suggested using char-grilling the corn, some didn’t. Some recipes used coriander, some didn’t. Ultimately, I decided to go ahead and make the Elotes my way – a mish-mash of steps from several different results. I used Veeba’s Cheese & Jalapeno Sandwich Spread for the creaminess and some of the wonderful artisanal Cheddar cheese that my husband recently got home from Jerusalem. The end result was delicious, like I said before, and the Elotes were gone within minutes of their making.

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Elotes, or Mexican street-style corn on the cob

Purists, balk at my choice of ingredients if you want to, but this version works for me. At least for now. These Elotes were pretty close in taste to the ones I tried at Chinita, so I am happy.

Here’s how I made the Elotes or Mexican street-style corn on the cob.

Ingredients (3-4 pieces):

  1. 1 large sweet corn, peeled and broken into 3-4 pieces
  2. A few stalks of fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
  3. Red chilli powder, to drizzle over the corn, as per taste
  4. Cheddar cheese, grated, as much as you’d like to spread over the corn
  5. Veeba Cheese & Jalapeno Sandwich Spread, as needed to spread over the corn
  6. A small wedge of lemon

Method:

  1. Place the pieces of corn in a wide vessel and add enough water to cover them completely. Pressure cook the corn on high flame, for 4 whistles.
  2. Let the pressure release naturally, and then remove the boiled corn from the vessel. Let them cool down enough for you to be able to handle them easily.
  3. Spread the Veeba Cheese & Jalapeno Sandwich Spread evenly over the pieces of corn.
  4. Drizzle some red chilli powder, lemon juice, grated Cheddar cheese and finely chopped coriander over the pieces of corn. Ensure that all sides of the corn are evenly covered with all ingredients.
  5. Arrange in a serving plate. Serve immediately.

Notes:

  1. Like I was saying earlier, mayonnaise can be used in place of the Veeba Cheese & Jalapeno Sandwich Spread, too. I tried out both versions, and liked this one better.
  2. Any cheese with a sharp flavour works well with this Mexican street-style corn on the cob. If you don’t have artisanal cheese, a processed cheese like Amul should do, too.
  3. Adjust the quantities of Veeba Cheese & Jalapeno Sandwich Spread, lemon juice, grated Cheddar cheese, and red chilli powder depending upon your taste preferences.
  4. You could char-grill the corn before preparing it, too. I chose to not do that, and used boiled corn instead.

This recipe has been developed for Veeba Foods, who have kindly sent across a gift hamper of their products, for me to test and use.

You like? I hope you will try out this recipe too, and that you will love it just as much as we did!

 

 

Our Vegetarian Food And Drink Journey In Shillong

The moment anyone gets to know about the trip we recently undertook to parts of North-East India, the first question they usually ask is – ‘What did you eat there? I have heard there is no vegetarian food to be found there!’. Now, after our brief sojourn in the North-East, I know that this is a myth – of course, there is vegetarian food to be found there! The husband and I had the same doubts, the same apprehensions, before we undertook this journey – all laid to rest now.

Finding vegetarian food in the North-East, Shillong included

Yes, the North-East is predominantly a meat-eating province. People here are used to eating animals of all sorts, every part of the animal, without wasting anything. That doesn’t mean that there are no vegetarians at all here. There are locals and tourists in the North-East who prefer vegetarian food, and consequently, there are restaurants there that cater to them. Pure-vegetarian places might be tough to come across, but you will surely find vegetarian food in places that serve non-vegetarian food – you should be okay with that before you undertake a trip to the North-East. Also, if you are going to be constantly on the go, flitting from one place to the other, you might not be able to find a purely vegetarian eatery where you are.

Shillong, in Meghalaya, being a major tourist attraction and a town, has a generous smattering of restaurants, small and big. Most of these eateries are located around Laitmukhrah and Police Bazaar. There are several stalls selling eatables of all sorts around tourist spots in and around Shillong, like Umiam Lake, Don Bosco Cathedral, Ward’s Lake, the Don Bosco Centre For Indigenous Culture, and Lady Hydari Park. Walk around any of these areas, and explore the local foods at your pace, that’s what I would recommend!

Our foodie sojourn in Shillong, Meghalaya

Now that that is off my chest, let me tell you all about the vegetarian fare we enjoyed in Shillong, one of the places we stayed at in the course of our holiday.

Indian sweets at a nameless sweet shop in Laitmukhrah

Post our sojourn at the ancient Don Bosco Cathedral in Laitmukhrah, Shillong, we headed to a little sweet shop without a name, nearby, for cups of tea. It was tea ‘o clock too, but the husband and I got fascinated by the Indian sweets on display in the glass showcase at the front of the shop. We ended up ordering some, and getting delighted by one of them in particular.

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Top left: Rasmalai, Bottom left: Mishti doi, Top right: Gulab jamun, Bottom right: Malai chamcham – the sweets we sampled at the shop

The gulab jamun here was average, and the mishti doi was sour and utterly forgettable. The malai chamcham was beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, though – so very well done, fresh and light and mildly sweet. The rasmalai here was exquisite, too.

I don’t remember exactly how much we paid here, but I do remember that it wasn’t much. The grub here was far, far less expensive than it would have been in a place like Bangalore.

Vegetarian Khasi fare at Red Rice, Police Bazaar

In the bustling Police Bazaar area in Shillong, restaurants are aplenty. You’ll find pure vegetarian food here, as well as eateries serving a mix of vegetarian and non-vegetarian fare. Then, there’s the plethora of street food available here – in the evenings, this area veritably turns into a street food haven, especially for meat lovers.

We wanted to sample some Khasi fare, the food of the Khasi tribe that majorly inhabits Shillong. At our tour operator’s suggestion, we headed to Red Rice in Police Bazaar, a place that prides itself on serving authentic vegetarian and non-vegetarian Khasi food. We ended up thoroughly enjoying our meal here.

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Left: The vegetarian Khasi thali that we had, Centre: Buddha’s Delight, Right: Khasi-style red rice, at Red Rice

The husband had a vegetarian Khasi thali that was an extremely simple, yet hearty affair. The daal cooked with greens was simply beautiful, as was the mustard-y onion salad. The mixed vegetable curry and chutney that were part of the thali were oh-so-flavourful, too!

I got myself a bowl of Khasi-style red rice and one of Buddha’s Delight, the last one being a mix of soup, thin noodles and veggies. The Buddha’s Delight was, again, such a simple thing, but so very flavourful – adding oodles of oomph to the plain red rice.

It was, sort of, marvellous to see how a meal could be cooked up with so little ingredients and yet be fulfilling. We, city-dwellers, do have a lot to learn from people like the Khasis, who live every day in the face of hardships.

We paid about INR 250 for this meal, as far as I can remember.

A blah dinner at Cafe Shillong

Most of the travel guides we read about Shillong seemed to mention Cafe Shillong, all praises for the local bands that play here over the weekend and the wonderful food the cafe serves. When we visited, though, it was a week day, and there was no band.

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Part of the decor at the famed Cafe Shillong

The food here, sadly, didn’t meet the high expectations that we had had. The vegetable clear soup we ordered was strictly okay – watery and lacking in taste. The Pasta Arabiatta was just average, too, as was the Singapore Fried Rice. Well, maybe, this isn’t a great place for vegetarians, I am guessing!

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Left: Vegetable clear soup, Centre: Pasta Arabiatta, Right: Singapore fried rice, at Cafe Shillong

Cafe Shillong happens to be an expensive place, with prices at par with several high-end cafes in Bangalore. I think we paid about INR 900 for this meal.

Pav bhaji and aloo chop at a nameless shop in Laban

Walking around the streets of Laban in Shillong, we came across this small shop run by a Marwari gentleman, a place without a name that sold only vegetarian food. Apart from regular fare like parathas, chowmein and fried rice, this eatery also sold tea, aloo chop, pav bhaji and a variety of chaats.

We had lunch at this little shop one day, and absolutely loved the aloo chops that we tried out. The tangy, spicy, mustard-y sauce that was served with the aloo chops was just brilliant – it was a Shillong special version that tastes both like chilli sauce and kasundi. Must try!

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Left: Pav bhaji, Right: Aloo chops with mustard-chilli sauce and tomato sauce, at the nameless shop in Laban

The pav bhaji we had at this shop wasn’t mind-blowing, but was definitely good.

A beautifully simple Khasi meal at Dew Drop In

While in Shillong, we had the opportunity of staying at Dew Drop In, a lovely place owned by a Khasi family. Our Khasi hosts were more than happy to cook us an authentic local meal with vegetarian ingredients. Here, we got to sample Khasi daal (made with greens), mixed vegetable curry, jado stey (a Khasi dish of rice cooked with turmeric, green peas and onion), a pickle made with local sour berries, along with rotis, curd and green salad. Every single dish that was a part of this meal was absolutely delicious – simple but hearty, well cooked and flavourful.

(Read more about Dew Drop In in my post here!)

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The delicious meal we had at Dew Drop In. Centre: Rotis, From top left, in clock-wise direction: Khasi daal made with greens, mixed vegetable curry, jado stey, pickle, curd and green salad

I know for sure that I am going to try making the Khasi daal and jado stey at home!

Gorgeous juicy pineapples en route to Shillong

On the way to Shillong from Guwahati, you will come across many little stalls that sell a variety of things, from pickles made the old-fashioned way to local varieties of bananas, jackfruit, banana flowers, pineapples and arum root.

We made a pit-stop at a couple of these stores, and the beautiful pineapples here were what caught our fancy the most. We ate the loveliest ever pineapples here – perfectly ripe, so sweet the slices felt like they were dipped in sugar syrup, so juicy the juice ran down to our elbows when we bit into them. The taste of these pineapples still lingers on in my mind, and I now realise how much the fruit available in Bangalore pales in comparison to this gorgeousness.

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Left: One of the little shops selling pickles, pineapples and a variety of other things, en route to Shillong from Guwahati, Right: The gorgeous pineapples that we sampled at one of these stores

Apparently, the weather, the rolling slopes of the hills, the soil all over Meghalaya are extremely conducive to growing pineapples, and they abound in the state, lovely ones at that.

An utterly forgettable dinner at Lamee’s

One of the days we stayed in Shillong, we dined at Lamee’s – a big, multi-cuisine eatery that offers both vegetarian and non-vegetarian fare – at Police Bazaar. Sadly, the meal was utterly forgettable, with everything that we tried out lacking in flavour.

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Left: Green salad, Centre: Vegetarian chowmein, Right: Burnt garlic fried rice, at Lamee’s

The vegetarian chowmein at Lamee’s was nothing special, and neither was the burnt garlic fried rice.

The prices at Lamee’s are on the higher side, though. I remember paying about INR 700 or so for our meal.

Vegetarian momos and jhalmuri near Ward’s Lake

We tried out the vegetarian momos from one of the street-side stalls outside Ward’s Lake, for all of INR 20. The momos had a thick, floury shell (as opposed to the thin covering I am used to in momos in Bangalore), but the filling was delicious. The same was the case with the vegetarian momos we tried out at a street-side stall in Police Bazaar, too.

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Left: A plate of vegetarian momos, Right: Jhalmuri, outside Ward’s Lake

The jhalmuri we had from another street stall at Ward’s Lake was not great, though.

Local berries at Golf Course

We came across this lady selling assorted local berries, while walking around the Golf Course in Shillong. She was sweet enough to oblige us for some photographs, and sweeter to offer the bub a toffee!

We had a good time trying out this berry and that. Most were lip-puckeringly sour, though, and, I am sure, would have made for gorgeous pickles. I forget the local names, though.

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Left: The lady selling local berries at the Golf Course, Centre: The assorted berries the lady had on offer, Right: One of the types of berries that we sampled – sour, sour, sour!

You can find these berries on sale at Police Bazaar, too, in case you are interested, along with oranges, apples, bananas, strawberries and litchis.

The lovely litchi drink from Bangladesh

Our cab driver suggested that we should try our this litchi drink from Bangladesh, commonly available in Shillong. We picked up a couple of bottles, for INR 10 each, and they were absolutely delightful!

We even got some of these bottles back to Bangalore as souvenirs!

In conclusion…

Well, that was all about the food (and drink) that we tried out while in Shillong. So, you see, vegetarians aren’t exactly in a position to starve to death in this part of the world, at least not in Shillong? 🙂

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I hope you have been reading and enjoying my other posts about our trip to North-East India! If you haven’t, here are the links for you!

The beginning of school, and a schoolmoon

Visiting the abode of Kamakhya, the powerful menstruating Goddess

10 reasons to plan for at least a day’s stay in Mawlynnong, Asia’s cleanest village

Playing hide-and-seek with the clouds in Meghalaya

10 experiences we thoroughly enjoyed in Shillong

The living root bridge of Nohwet village, near Mawlynnong

Kacche Kele Ki Tikki (Raw Banana Cutlets), Served With A Cheesy Dip

Are you looking for a different-from-the-usual snack that can be made fairly easily? Try out these kacche kele ki tikki or raw banana cutlets, which are simple to prepare, but delish. They are shallow-fried, so not as much of a guilty indulgence as a deep-fried snack, but equally good! Anddddddd….. they are just perfect for the rainy evenings that seem to be the norm these days, especially in Bangalore!

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I served these beautiful raw banana cutlets or kele ki tikki with some Veeba Cheese & Chilli Sandwich Spread, which added a beautiful depth of flavour to them. Who says sandwich spreads are only for sandwiches, eh? 🙂 The spicy green chutney and tomato ketchup I also drizzled on the cutlets complemented them beautifully, too.

Now, let’s see how to make these kele ki tikki, shall we?

Ingredients (makes 8-10 cutlets):

  1. 2 large raw bananas
  2. 1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped
  3. A few stalks of fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
  4. Salt, to taste
  5. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  6. Red chilli powder, to taste
  7. 1 teaspoon amchoor powder, or to taste
  8. 1-1/2 teaspoon garam masala or chana masala, or to taste
  9. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  10. About 1/4 cup of raw peanuts
  11. Oil, to shallow fry the cutlets
  12. Veeba Cheese & Chilli Sandwich Spread, as needed, for serving
  13. Tomato ketchup, as needed, for serving
  14. Spicy green chutney, as needed, for serving (Click here to see how I make this chutney)

Method:

  1. Roast the peanuts on medium flame, till they turn crispy. Ensure that they do not get burnt. Let them cool down completely.
  2. Meanwhile, remove the tail ends of the raw bananas, and cut each one into two pieces. Pressure cook the raw banana pieces in salt water, for 4 whistles.
  3. When the pressure has completely gone down, remove the boiled raw banana pieces from the cooker and run cold water over them. When they are cool enough to handle, peel them.
  4. Into a large mixing bowl, mash the boiled raw banana. Add the salt and red chilli powder to taste, asafoetida, garam masala or chana masala, finely chopped coriander and onion, and amchoor powder.
  5. After the peanuts have cooled down completely, remove the skins off them. Pulse the roasted peanuts in a mixer for just a second, so that you coarsely crush them. Do not make a fine powder. Add the crushed peanuts to the raw banana mixture in the mixing bowl.
  6. Mix all the ingredients in the mixing bowl, well. Ensure that everything is thoroughly combined together. Shape cutlets out of this mixture, in the shape of your choice.
  7. Heat a dosa pan on high flame, till droplets of water dance on it. Now, turn the flame to low-medium, and spread some oil in the centre. Place two cutlets on the pan, and add a little oil around them. Let them cook till they get crispy on the bottom. Flip the cutlets over, and add a little more oil around them. When done, transfer to a serving plate.
  8. Make cutlets out of all the mixture in the mixing bowl, and shallow fry them in a similar manner.
  9. Serve the cutlets piping hot, drizzled with some Veeba Cheese & Chilli Sandwich Spread, spicy green chutney, and tomato ketchup.

Notes:

  1. You can add in some boiled potatoes and/or ginger-garlic paste too. I skipped them.
  2. If you wish, you can coat the cutlets in some bread crumbs and deep-fry them, too. I opted to shallow-fry them.
  3. 2 slices of bread, dipped in water, with the excess water squeezed out, can be added to the raw banana mixture too. I didn’t add them.
  4. To make a Jain version of these cutlets, omit the onions and ginger-garlic paste entirely.

This recipe has been developed for Veeba Foods, who have kindly sent across a gift hamper of their products, for me to test and use.

You like? I hope you will try out this recipe too, and that you will love it just as much as we did!

 

Millet Vermicelli Upma, With Vegetables

Like I was saying in this post, cooking with millets is something I have started relatively recently. The Organics & Millets Mela 2017, held earlier this year, inspired me to do more with millets in my kitchen. Since then, I have been experimenting a lot more with millets than ever before, trying out new things, learning, learning, learning all the time.

At the Mela, we were shown technology that could make vermicelli out of different types of millets. Back then, you wouldn’t get millet vermicelli in stores except, maybe, finger millet aka ragi vermicelli – it was still an emerging field. Recently, I was thrilled to spot packets of all kinds of millet-based vermicelli at Eco Store, HSR Layout. I picked up a couple of packets – little millet and pearl millet (bajri), and made vermicelli upma with them. I must say, the millet vermicelli upma turned out scrumptious!

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Left: The little millet and pearl millet (bajri) vermicelli that I picked up; Centre: The lovely, fine, little millet vermicelli; Right: The pearl millet vermicelli upma that I made, with assorted vegetables

Millet vermicelli upma makes for a nice change from upma made using the regular rice-based semiya (vermicelli). This version is healthier than the rice-based upma as well. Cooking millet vermicelli is easy too – it just needs a slightly different technique than cooking rice-based semiya.

Now, let’s get on to the procedure of using millet vermicelli to make upma, shall we?

Ingredients (serves 2-3):

  1. 180 grams millet vermicelli, or 1 packet of millet vermicelli
  2. Salt to taste
  3. 3 green chillies, slit length-wise
  4. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  5. A dash of chilli powder, if needed
  6. 1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped
  7. 1 small carrot, finely chopped
  8. A few stalks of fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
  9. A few fresh curry leaves
  10. A small piece of cabbage, finely chopped
  11. 5-6 beans, strings removed, finely chopped
  12. 1 small capsicum, finely chopped
  13. 2-3 tablespoons green peas
  14. 2 tablespoons oil
  15. A pinch of asafoetida
  16. 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
  17. Juice of 1 lemon, or to taste

Method:

  1. Soak the millet vermicelli in water for 2 minutes. Use plain water, just enough to cover the vermicelli completely.
  2. After 2 minutes, pour out all the excess water from the vermicelli. Place the soaked vermicelli in a colander for a couple of minutes, so that all the water entirely drains out.
  3. Take a little water in a pressure cooker bottom, and place it on the gas. Place a stand at the bottom, and place a plate over it. Over this, place the colander with the millet vermicelli. Close the cooker. Without placing the cooker whistle, steam the vermicelli for 8-10 minutes, on high flame.
  4. Remove the colander from the cooker, and let the vermicelli come to room temperature.
  5. Now, fluff up the millet vermicelli, using a spoon, gently.
  6. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and add in the mustard seeds. Allow them to pop. Add in the asafoetida, and let it stay in for a couple of seconds.
  7. Now, add in all the veggies – chopped onions, carrot, cabbage, beans, capsicum and green peas, along with salt to taste.
  8. Cook the veggies on a high flame, till they are done, but not overly so.
  9. Turn the flame to low. Add in the cooked vermicelli, curry leaves, slit green chillies, turmeric powder, chilli powder (if using), and salt to taste (if required).
  10. Mix well, but gently. Let everything cook together, on low flame, for a minute or two, stirring intermittently.
  11. Switch off the gas, and add the finely chopped coriander and lemon juice. Mix well, with gentle hands.
  12. Serve piping hot, on its own or with chutney of your choice.

Notes:

  1. Any millet vermicelli – finger millet (ragi), little millet, pearl millet (bajri)- can be cooked in this manner.
  2. Soaking and cooking times for the millet vermicelli might vary, depending upon what brand you use. Do check the instructions on the package for detailed instructions.
  3. You can increase the number of green chillies you use, if you need extra heat, and skip the red chilli powder altogether.
  4. Any veggies that you have on hand can be used to make this millet vermicelli upma. Alternatively, you could make the upma using just onions, green peas, and green chillies, and skip using the other veggies. We do both variations, and find them equally tasty.
  5. A tablespoon of grated, fresh coconut can be added at the end, too, for extra taste.
  6. Ensure that the cooked millet vermicelli has cooled down completely, before proceeding to make the upma. Don’t miss this, otherwise you will end up with a gooey upma.
  7. It is critical that the millet vermicelli be cooked in a pressure cooker, placed in a colander, to ensure that it is cooked thoroughly. Keep the colander with vermicelli atop a plate, which is placed above a stand inside the pressure cooker, to ensure that no water enters the colander.

Do you make upma using millet vermicelli too? If so, do tell me your method of preparation too – I’d love to know!

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Interested in reading about the other millet recipes on my blog? Here you go!

Tete-A-Tete With Chef Michael Swamy, On His Restaurant, Food And Travel

A while ago, I got the wonderful chance to witness Chef Michael Swamy in action at a cook-off organised by Fairfield By Marriott, Rajajinagar, Bangalore. It was an informative, enriching experience that set me thinking about different food-related aspects.

I am glad to have had the opportunity to interact further with Chef Michael Swamy, to have a little chat with him about things foodie and otherwise. I present our conversation here, for your reading pleasure.

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Chef Michael Swamy (right) at the recent cook-off at Fairfield By Marriott, Rajajinagar, alongside Chef Aniket Das (left)

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Me: How did your journey into the culinary world start?

Chef: I grew up in a family who entertained a lot. Growing up, we were always surrounded by great food. Also, I loved food, and loved watching cookery shows and pretending to be a TV chef. It was my mum, a documentary film-maker, who pushed me in the direction of art, food and photography, and insisted on my being a chef before I became a “TV chef”. I did my HAFT from Sophia’s and then went to London to pursue Le Cordon Bleu. Since then, there has been no looking back…

Me: How has the ride been so far?

Chef: It has been an awesome ride, meeting different people, chefs, and food professionals. It has also has its down moments, but I believe in continuing to do the things I believe in. At the end of the day, I go to sleep with the happy knowledge that, no matter in how small or big a way, I am working towards fulfilling my dreams.

Me: How do you think Indian food is perceived outside India?

Chef: It is perceived as food to be eaten when downing a beer or just a cheap dinner. It is not considered as a global cuisine yet. Also, it is perceived as a very complex cuisine, requiring a laundry list of ingredients for every dish. This is not true, as I feel that some of our best dishes are the most simple ones.

Me: Would you like to change that?

Chef: Of course! We need to globalize Indian cuisine and really highlight the aspects which the world will relate to, aspects which are very much present in our cuisine. We need to delve and record our culinary histories, though that is something that will take many lifetimes. One needs to make chefs more prominent. Here, I mean the true chefs, the ones that work day in and day out in their chosen profession. We need more professional chefs to become TV chefs and educate people properly about our myriad cuisines. Of course, chefs also need to come out and share their knowledge openly.

Me: What do you think are the best-kept secrets of Indian cuisine?

Chef: I think the best-kept secret is that there is no secret to Indian cuisine. Each household uses their own family recipes and techniques. The same dish sometimes tastes different from village to village, city to city, and house to house. Also, some of the techniques used in Indian cooking are so unique and rare, owing to the abundance of certain elements and absolute dearth of others in several regions.

Also, I think the cuisines of the hills, Coorg, Munnar, the inner coasts of eastern India are relatively unexplored. There are many secrets and traditions in there, and we only have barely touched the surface.

Me: How do you think food in India has changed over the years?

Chef: I think India is always 10 years behind global food traditions. The acceptance of the Indian palate to global foods is very slow. This is due to the fact that not much is being done to explain different cuisines to other parts of the world. We’re all too busy reviewing restaurants than actually delving into the cuisine and studying the food philosophy a chef follows and trying to understand it better. We like the role of the judge more than that of an experiencer.

Me: Why did you choose to showcase Latin American cuisine in your restaurant Nueva? What inspired you to do so?

Chef: As a chef and history lover, I do a lot of food research. About a decade ago, I had predicted the rise of Peruvian cuisine on the world scene, and so it was. I had studied a lot about the Spanish influence on the cuisine and the history of the continent of South America, as their culture and rain forests have always intrigued me.  At the about the same time, the executive chef at the Marriott in Bombay was Peruvian and I, being a regular at the hotel, spent a lot of time with him, even interviewing him for a magazine I was the editor of then. Though not consciously, I think I may have wished to do something with this cuisine right back then. Also, whenever I do something, I see what the world is doing and set out to do something different. When this opportunity came to me, I saw that though people were beginning to dabble in Peruvian cuisine, nobody was doing justice to the rest of South America. So, I decided – why not me?

Me: How challenging was it to source ingredients and train staff in a cuisine that is as exotic as Latin American?

Chef: It was, and still is, a bit challenging. That said, I have a good network, and know most of the vendors handling exotic produce from my times when I handled Masterchef India and through all these years of restaurant consultancies.

Training staff is always a thrilling challenge and, here, the case was interesting because I decided to work mostly with freshers who did not carry any baggage of “the way we cooked at our earlier job”. None of them were familiar with Latin American cuisine or techniques, so it was a re-learning with them of sorts. I enjoyed, and still enjoy, the process.

Me: How difficult are you finding it to be an entrepreneur, vis-à-vis being a cook and food stylist?

Chef: It is difficult, but I don’t’ know why people don’t consider being a food stylist as an entrepreneurial role! Why are only restaurateurs thought of as entrepreneurs? I have been running a business in food media for 15 years now, and it has been much more difficult to run and manage, given the much higher demands of the scope of work – and we covered the full spectrum from print to television there.  Also, people forget that I became a chef first and then decided to step out of the kitchen to pursue food styling. So, as a stylist, I was a chef, an author too!

Me: What do you think of the recent trend of using millets in place of rice, in a lot of traditional Indian dishes? Is it here to stay or a fad that will pass away?

Chef: Like all fads, they will disappear in the city. However, small cities and villages still rely heavily on the use of various millets. It’s just become a trend in the big cities because it has suddenly been marketed well in the west. And, sadly, despite our history, we are still so besotted with the west that we refuse to acknowledge and value our own wisdom. However, looking at the trend through the eyes of a modern cook, millets may seem daunting and not so easily applicable or likeable for many, so the busy housewife is going to return to the familiar stuff.

Me: What do you think are the major culinary trends that will be making news in the next year or so?

Chef: South American, Korean, and Vietnamese are the cuisines to watch out for!

Me: How do you manage to stay healthy in spite of so much cooking, day after day?

Chef: A healthy eating style of a good breakfast and good lunch, a light dinner before 7 pm, and some exercise when I can pull it off has helped. Also, once I eat something, I don’t dwell on the number of calories I’ve consumed. I enjoy my food and value it, and I think that’s one reason why the food I eat also keeps me healthy.

Me: Tell us about the chefs who have inspired you the most…

Chef: Anton Mossiman, Gary Rhodes, Charlie Trotter, and Heston Blumenthal have greatly inspired me. Their work continues to inspire me to do my best.

Me: How was the experience of serving cricketer Virat Kohli?

Chef:  Frankly, I’m not a person who is starstruck. My parents hailed from a media background, and I have cooked and served several celebrities through the years. The tendency of looking at a celeb and feeling awestruck is past, for me. For me, every guest, regardless of their stature in society, is equally important.

Me: Considering the passionate traveller that you are, which are your most favourite holiday destinations?

Chef: Dhanachuli in Uttarakhand, the mountains, and Mc Leod Gunj. The jungles of Kanha and Corbett move me too. I also love the winding roads of Ireland and the scenic lakes of Italy.

Me: Could you tell us about your upcoming projects? What are you working on currently?

Chef: Cookbooks are always an ongoing project for me. I am expecting my next book to be published shortly. Other than that, I’m toying with the idea of doing something content-related for television.

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I hope you enjoyed reading this tete-a-tete just as much as I enjoyed having it!

 

 

 

Cheesy Dosa Veggie Wraps

Are these dosas? Yes!

Are they wraps? Yes!

Are they yummy? Yes!

Can they be made within minutes? Yes!

I’m talking about these Cheesy Dosa Veggie Wraps that I created a while back, using simple ingredients that are easily available in the kitchen at all times. These dosa wraps are mostly healthy, with a filling made of assorted vegetables inside. I’ve slightly jazzed them up, using Harissa Dressing and Cheese & Jalapeno Dip from Veeba Foods, to make them taste yummier.

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Delicious cheesy dosa wraps with a mixed veggie stuffing!

The Harissa Dressing adds a nice, hot flavour to the wraps, while the Cheese & Jalapeno Dip adds in some creamy cheesiness. Both, together, elevate the taste of the wraps.

These tasty wraps can be literally made in minutes – they are super simple to whip up. They make for a lovely snack, particularly suited to those days when you want slightly fancy food but nothing too elaborate.

Now, let’s check out the recipe for these cheesy dosa veggie wraps, shall we?

Ingredients (for 2 wraps):

For the wraps:

  1. 3 ladles of dosa batter
  2. 2 teaspoons oil, to make the dosas

For the dressing:

  1. Veeba Cheese & Jalapeno Spread, as needed
  2. Veeba Harissa Dressing, as needed

For the veggie stuffing:

  1. 1 small carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  2. 1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped
  3. A few stalks of fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
  4. A small piece of cabbage, finely chopped
  5. 6-8 beans, strings removed and finely chopped
  6. 4 tablespoons shelled green peas
  7. 1 small capsicum, finely chopped
  8. Salt, to taste
  9. A pinch of asafoetida
  10. Red chilli powder, to taste
  11. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  12. 1 teaspoon sugar
  13. 2 tablespoons oil

Method:

First, get the vegetable stuffing ready, and then proceed to make the wraps.

For the veggie stuffing:

  1. Heat the oil in a pan and add in the asafoetida. Let in stay in for a couple of seconds.
  2. Add in the chopped onions, carrots, capsicum, beans, cabbage and green peas.
  3. Cook on medium flame for a couple of minutes. Stir intermittently.
  4. Add in the turmeric powder, salt and red chilli powder to taste, and the sugar. Mix well.
  5. Let the veggies cook till they are soft, but not overly done. Keep stirring intermittently. Sprinkle some water if the veggies seem to be sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  6. When the vegetables are cooked, switch off the gas. Add in the finely chopped coriander, and mix well.
  7. Let the vegetable stuffing cool down to room temperature before proceeding to make the wraps.

For the wraps:

  1. Heat a dosa pan on high flame, till water droplets dance on it.
  2. When the pan is nice and hot, reduce the flame to medium.
  3. Pour about 1-1/2 ladles of dosa batter in the centre of the pan, and spread it into a circle. Spread a teaspoon of oil around the dosa.
  4. Cook the dosa on low-medium flame, on one side. When the side on top begins to look cooked too (when no spots of raw batter are visible), spread a couple of spoonfuls of the vegetable stuffing in the centre of the dosa. Drizzle a little each of Veeba’s Harissa Dressing and Cheese & Jalapeno Dip, evenly over the stuffing. Wrap up both sides of the dosa, to make a roll. Transfer the roll to a serving plate.
  5. Prepare the other dosa wrap, too, in a similar fashion.
  6. Serve immediately.

Notes:

  1. You can use any other vegetables that you have, to create the stuffing – babycorn, mushrooms, cauliflower, sweet corn.. I used the veggies that I had on hand.
  2. Any leftover stuffing after making these cheesy dosa veggie wraps can be used to make sandwiches.
  3. You will need to be a little quick while putting the stuffing into the dosa wraps, to ensure that the dosa doesn’t get burnt on the bottom side.
  4. Don’t make the stuffing too wet; it should be dry. Otherwise, the wrap will get soggy in no time.
  5. Since we are using dosas to wrap veggies here, you will need to make them slightly thicker than regular dosas so that they don’t get too soggy.
  6. You could add some garam masala or amchoor to the stuffing too, if you wish. I decided not to, so as to keep things simple.
  7. You could cut up the dosa wraps into slices before serving, too.
  8. You can add as much or as little of the Harissa Dressing and Cheese & Jalapeno Dip to your wraps, as your tastebuds dictate.

This recipe has been developed for Veeba Foods, who have kindly sent across a gift hamper of their products, for me to test and use.

You like? I hope you will try out this recipe too, and that you will love it just as much as we did!

 

 

 

 

Mixed Fruit Pachadi| Kalyana Sweet Pachadi| Sweet Fruit Relish

I am a big fan of the sweet pachadi (relish) that is commonly served in Tam-Brahm weddings, as part of the elai saapadu (plantain-leaf meal). This relish is made using a variety of seasonal fruits, popularly known as Mixed Fruit Pachadi or Kalyana Sweet Pachadi (‘Kalyanam‘ means ‘wedding’ in Tamil).

One of my aunts makes this pachadi at home, using a recipe that she learnt from a TV cookery show. Because I love it so much, she makes it for me whenever I visit her. I never tried making it at home, though, or attempting to learn the recipe. Recently, however, when I had a surplus stock of fruits, I thought of trying my hands at making this. The Internet came to the rescue, and I did find several recipes for this dish. Most of these recipes didn’t look like those for the kind of beautiful mixed fruit pachadi that I am used to having, sadly. And then, I stumbled upon this recipe, on Amrita Iyer’s food blog, The Food Samaritan. As soon as I read through it, I knew instantly that this was the recipe I had been looking for – I vaguely remembered my aunt talking about it, and the threads connected.

So, it was Amrita’s recipe that I used a couple of days ago, with a few little variations, and was rewarded with a lovely, lovely Kalyana sweet pachadi. The taste was exactly the same as that of the mixed fruit pachadi my aunt would make it. Love happened instantly, both for me and my family. 🙂

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Here is how I made the pachadi.

Ingredients (makes 1 medium-sized serving bowl):

  1. 1 medium-sized apple
  2. 3 large bananas
  3. 2 small mangoes
  4. 2 small tomatoes
  5. 10-12 almonds
  6. 2 tablespoons raisins
  7. 1 tablespoon broken cashewnuts
  8. 1 cup sugar
  9. 1 teaspoon rose essence

Method:

  1. Chop the tomatoes into large cubes and puree them in a mixer. Keep aside.
  2. Heat 1 cup of water in a heavy-bottomed pan, and add the sugar to it. Cook on a medium flame till the sugar has completely dissolved in the water, and the syrup becomes slightly sticky to the touch.
  3. At this stage, add the tomato puree to the pan. Keeping the flame medium, cook till the mixture gets slightly thick and the raw smell of the tomatoes has disappeared. You will need to stir intermittently. Remember that you don’t need to get this mixture very thick – it should be runny. Meanwhile, get the other ingredients ready.
  4. Peel the bananas and chop them into rounds. Chop the apples into small pieces – no need to peel them. Peel the mangoes and chop them into cubes. Keep the chopped fruits in a large mixing bowl.
  5. Chop the cashewnuts and almonds into slivers. Add this to the mixing bowl.
  6. Add the raisins to the mixing bowl too. Keep aside.
  7. When the syrup in the pan has thickened, switch off the gas and add in the rose essence. Mix well.
  8. Let the syrup cool to room temperature and then pour it over the cut fruits in the mixing bowl. Stir gently, once.
  9. Cover the mixing bowl and let it sit that way, at room temperature, for at least a couple of hours. At the end of this time, the syrup and the fruits would have gotten well integrated. The juices from the fruits would have made the pachadi runnier by now, and that is fine. Stir gently and transfer to a clean, dry, air-tight box.
  10. Keep refrigerated when not in use. It stays well that way for 3-4 days.

Notes:

  1. Any fruits that are in season can be used to make this mixed fruit pachadi. I, however, like only certain fruits in the pachadi, like pineapples, bananas, mangoes, apples and grapes. As of now, I used only those fruits I had on hand at home.
  2. Chopped walnuts and glace cherries can be added to the pachadi as well. I didn’t add them, since I didn’t have any. I have seen chopped dates being used in this kalyana pachadi too, but I skipped them.
  3. Increase or decrease the quantity of sugar you use, as per your taste preferences and depending upon the quantity of fruit you are using.
  4. This pachadi can be eaten on its own, as a dessert, or served as part of a plantain-leaf meal. You can serve it either chilled or at room temperature. Also, like the original recipe suggests, this pachadi can be poured over a plain cake too, to enhance its flavour.
  5. If the tomatoes are too tangy, use just one instead of two. Mine weren’t very sour, so I used two.
  6. In Tam-Brahm weddings, typically, pineapple essence is added to this pachadi. I used rose essence instead, as the original recipe suggested, and am very happy with the results. If you don’t like the idea of essence in your food, feel free to use it in lesser quantity or skip it altogether, but I wouldn’t really advise the latter. The rose essence does add a beautiful touch to the pachadi.
  7. Drops of red food colour can be added to the mixed fruit pachadi too, to make it look more attractive. I skipped that.
  8. I am not too fond of Yelakki bananas, so I used large-sized Robusta to make this pachadi. Take your pick!
  9. Ideally, a combination of sweet, tangy and mushy fruits should be used to create this kalyana pachadi, for best results.
  10. My aunt sometimes uses beetroot to make this pachadi, instead of tomato, for a deeper red colour. I prefer the tomato-based version, though.

You like? I’d urge you to try this beauty out before the mangoes disappear from the market altogether! It’ll be worth your while, I can assure you!