Gujarati Bhakri Pizza| Whole Wheat Pan Pizza

Ever heard of Bhakri Pizza? It is the Gujarati version of thin-crust pizza, and an eternal favourite of mine. The crust of this pizza is made using whole wheat flour, cooked crisp. So, so very delicious! This Bhakri Pizza is sold in street-side carts all over Ahmedabad, and I grew up eating and loving it. Today, I am here to tell you how to go about making it at home.

Gujarati Bhakri Pizza or Whole Wheat Pan Pizza

A closer look at the Bhakri Pizza

The base of the Bhakri Pizza is a bhakri, a popular snack in Gujarati households. Like I was saying earlier, to make the bhakri, wheat flour is bound into a firm dough, with a couple of other ingredients added in. The dough is then rolled out into small discs and cooked on a hot pan till crisp. They can also be baked in an oven.

The bhakri is crispy and crunchy, and holds the toppings of the pizza beautifully. It makes for a clever and wonderful replacement to the maida base used in regular pizza. Bhakri Pizza is definitely healthier and way lighter on the tummy, but every bit just as delectable.

A sweetish sauce is usually spread on the bhakri, which I prefer making at home from scratch, the healthy way. I also add a number of vegetables to the pizza, increasing its nutritive value. The addition of good, unadulterated grated cheese on top makes it all the more flavourful and healthier.

The loaded Bhakri Pizza is then cooked covered on a hot pan till the cheese melts, or baked for a short while. Voila – cute little pizzas are ready! They are perfect for evening snacks or a light dinner, for children and adults alike. We make these for dinner often, as everyone in the family loves them, including my little daughter.

Gujarati Bhakri Pizza recipe for Foodie Monday Blog Hop

This recipe for Bhakri Pizza is brought to you in association with the Foodie Monday Blog Hop.

The Foodie Monday Blog Hop is a group of food bloggers who share recipes based on a pre-determined theme, every Monday. The theme this week is #MunchkinMeals, wherein we are sharing healthy, kid-friendly recipes.

The theme for the week was suggested by Narmadha, author of the wonderful blog Nams Corner. I’m in love with this flavourful Paneer Tikka Pizza and this healthy Whole Wheat Cheese Burst Pizza from Narmadha’s blog. Can’t wait to try them out!

How to make Bhakri Pizza

The detailed recipe follows.

Ingredients (makes about 10 pieces):

For the bhakri base:

  1. 1 cup whole wheat flour
  2. Salt to taste
  3. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  4. 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder
  5. 1 tablespoon oil + more for making the bhakris

For the pizza sauce:

  1. 6 medium-sized tomatoes
  2. 1 small onion
  3. Salt to taste
  4. Red chilli powder to taste
  5. 1 tablespoon of jaggery powder or to taste
  6. About 1/2 tablespoon dried Italian herbs

For the toppings:

  1. 1 medium-sized capsicum
  2. 1 medium-sized onion
  3. 4 tablespoons sweet corn kernels
  4. 2 tablespoons red paprika slices or as needed
  5. Grated cheese, as needed
  6. Dried Italian herbs, as needed

Method:

1. We will start with preparing the dough for making the bhakris. Take the whole wheat flour in a large mixing bowl. Add in the salt to taste, turmeric powder and red chilli powder. Adding in water little by little, bind into a firm dough. When the dough is ready, add in the 1 tablespoon of oil, and knead a couple more times. Let the dough rest, covered, till we are ready to prepare the pizza, at least 15-20 minutes.

Preparing the dough for the Bhakri Pizza

2. Now, we will get the pizza sauce ready. For this, chop the tomatoes into quarters. Peel and chop the onion roughly. Puree the tomatoes and onion together in a mixer, without adding any water. Transfer this puree to a heavy-bottomed pan, and place on high heat. Cook on high flame till the mixture begins to thicken, 4-5 minutes. You will need to stir intermittently to make sure the mixture doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. The raw smell of the tomatoes should go away completely. At this stage, add in the salt, red chilli powder and sugar. Cook for a couple of minutes or till it thickens to a spreadable consistency. Switch off the gas and add in the mixed Italian herbs. Allow the pizza sauce to cool down fully.

Preparing the sauce for the Bhakri Pizza

3. In the meantime, let us get the toppings for the pizza ready. Chop the capsicum length-wise and the onion finely. Grate the cheese and keep it ready. Keep the sliced red paprika slices and sweet corn kernels ready.

Getting the toppings ready

4. Now, we will prepare the bhakris for the pizza base. Place a thick dosa pan on high heat. Divide the dough we prepared earlier into 10 small balls or so. Roll out each ball into a small circle, slightly thicker than a phulka roti. Prick some holes all over it, on both sides, using a fork – this will ensure that the dough does not puff up and that the bhakri turns out nice and crispy. Place the rolled-out disc on the hot dosa pan, and spread some oil all over it. Cook till brown and crisp on both sides, pressing with a spatula intermittently, ensuring that the bhakri does not burn. Prepare all the bhakris in a similar manner, and allow them to cool down.

Preparing the bhakris for the pizza

5. We will start making the pizza when the bhakris and the sauce have cooled down enough to handle. Now, spread some of the prepared pizza sauce on each bhakri, and lay out the toppings over it. Spread a generous amount of the grated cheese over the toppings. Cook, covered, on low-medium flame on a hot dosa pan for a couple of minutes or till the cheese melts. Serve the Bhakri Pizza immediately, cut into quarters and garnished with some dried Italian herbs.

The making of the Bhakri Pizza

Tips & Tricks

1. Some families add a bit of fine semolina aka sooji or rava to the wheat flour, to make the bhakri more crispy. We don’t.

2. I have used regular store-bought whole wheat flour here, from Ashirwad. I usually make this with flour ground from whole wheat in a mill, but we haven’t been able to do that in a while and hence the store-bought flour.

3. Some ajwain (carom seeds) can be added to the bhakri dough to make it more flavourful. I don’t, because my daughter doesn’t like it.

4. Use the more tart country (Nati) tomatoes – as opposed to ‘farmed’ ones – to make the sauce. They are more flavourful and make for a delicious sauce.

5. A few cloves of garlic can be added to the sauce too. I have skipped them here.

6. Sugar can be added to the sauce, in place of the jaggery powder. I prefer using the latter. Adjust the quantity as per personal taste preferences.

7. Make sure you cook the bhakris on low-medium flame, till they get nice and crisp. Also, don’t forget to prick the dough on both sides – this is crucial.

8. I have used dried Italian herbs from Keya here. You can even make them from scratch, at home.

9. Use a good-quality cheese to make the pizza as healthy as possible. I have used Akshayakalpa’s organic Aged Cheddar here.

10. Use any veggies that you prefer as toppings for the pizza. Here, I have used whatever I had available. Olives can be added too, but I skipped them since I didn’t have any.

11. Any leftover pizza sauce can be bottled and refrigerated. It stays for 10-12 days when stored this way.

12. You can bake the bhakris instead of making them on the stovetop. I prefer the stovetop.

13. You may skip using the red chilli powder and turmeric powder in the bhakri dough, if you so prefer.

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

Kondakadalai Kara Kozhambu| Chettinad Style Chickpeas In Tamarind Gravy

Chickpeas, aka chana or garbanzo beans, are one of my most favourite types of legumes. I love that they are so versatile, blending seamlessly into salads, North Indian sabzis like Chana Masala, chaats, tikkis, soups, South Indian gravies and Middle Eastern hummus and falafel alike. I especially love the big white ones that are commonly called Kabuli Chana (‘Kondakadalai‘ in Tamil). Today, I’m going to share with you all the recipe for a beautiful dish from Chettinad that is made using these white chickpeas – Kondakadalai Kara Kozhambu.

Understanding the Kondakadalai Kara Kozhambu better

Like I was saying earlier, this dish hails from Chettinad in Tamilnadu, a place famous for its fiery foods that typically use a number of spices. While Chettinad is best known for its indigenous non-vegetarian preparations, it also has several traditional vegetarian delicacies to offer, which are a delight to the tastebuds. This Kondakadalai Kara Kozhambu is one such delicacy, tangy and spicy and a bit sweet all at once. It makes for a brilliant accompaniment to piping hot rice, especially when drizzled with some sesame oil aka nalla ennai. It also goes well with rotis, upma, dosas and the like.

This dish is made using big white chickpeas, which are cooked first, then allowed to simmer in a tamarind broth which, in true Chettinad style, has been flavoured using a blend of spices. Don’t be intimated by the long laundry list of ingredients this entails – all of them are fairly common in an Indian kitchen, and the recipe is in actuality quite simple. The end result, I can assure you, is totally worth the effort you might have to put in to get together all the ingredients.

#ChanaTime at Foodie Monday Blog Hop

This recipe for Kondakadalai Kara Kozhambu is brought to you in association with the Foodie Monday Blog Hop group that I am part of. Foodie Monday Blog Hop is a group of food bloggers who share recipes based on a pre-determined theme each Monday. The theme this week is #ChanaTime, wherein the members are showcasing dishes made using different types of the very nutritious chickpeas.

It was Mayuri ji, the talented author of Mayuri’s Jikoni, who suggested the theme this week. She already has a few very interesting chickpea recipes on her blog, such as this Mombasa Mix and this Kala Chana Pulav. In case you happen to be looking for more recipes that use chickpeas, do check out the Jaisalmeri Kala Chana and Gujarati Raswala Kala Chana Nu Shaak on my blog.

How I learnt to make Kondakadalai Kara Kozhambu

There’s an interesting story behind how I came to learn this gem of a recipe. I first tasted Chettinad-style Kara Kozhambu at Krishna Kafe – a Bangalore eatery that I am very, very fond of – and fell head over heels in love with it. This was years ago, after which I tried replicating the dish at home several times but with no success. Then, in 2017, we visited Madurai, which is a hop, skip and jump away from Chettinad. We booked into a homestay in Madurai, where I had the pleasure of sampling some of Chettinad’s vegetarian cuisine. On one such day, we were served this Kondakadalai Kara Kozhambu, which was EXACTLY like the Krishna Kafe Kara Kozhambu I so loved! Courtesy of the homestay staff, I managed to get the recipe, which I have made many times over at home now. It remains a hit in our family.

Kondakadalai Kara Kozhambu recipe

Without further ado, here’s presenting to you the recipe.

Ingredients (serves 4-6):

To grind:

  1. 1 teaspoon fennel seeds (sombu)
  2. 1 teaspoon poppy seeds (gasagasa)
  3. 2 tablespoons fresh grated coconut

Other ingredients:

  1. 1/2 cup white chickpeas (kabuli chana aka kondakadalai)
  2. 1 tablespoon sesame oil (nalla ennai)
  3. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds (kadugu)
  4. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (jeeragam)
  5. 2 pinches of asafoetida (perungayam)
  6. 2 sprigs of fresh curry leaves
  7. A pinch of fenugreek seeds (vendhayam)
  8. 7-8 cloves of garlic
  9. 1 big onion
  10. A lemon-sized ball of tamarind
  11. 1 medium-sized tomato
  12. Salt to taste
  13. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  14. 2 cups water
  15. 3/4 teaspoon red chilli powder
  16. 1 tablespoon jaggery powder or to taste
  17. 1 teaspoon roasted coriander (dhania) powder
  18. 2 teaspoons sambar powder
  19. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander

Method:

Left top and bottom: Steps 1 and 2, Right top and bottom: Steps 3 and 4

1. Soak the chickpeas in enough water for 8-10 hours or overnight. When the chickpeas are done soaking, drain out all the water from them.

2. Transfer the soaked and drained chickpeas to a wide vessel. Add in enough fresh water to cover them fully. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker. Pressure cook on high flame for 5 whistles or till the chickpeas are well cooked. Let the pressure release naturally.
3. Soak the tamarind in a little boiling water, for at least 15 minutes.

4. When the tamarind has cooled down enough to handle, extract all the juice from it. Add in fresh water, little by little, to help with the extraction. I got about 1 cup of thin tamarind extract.

Top left and right: Steps 5 and 6, Bottom left: The coconut paste, ground and ready, Bottom right: Step 7

5. In the meantime, chop the onion, coriander and tomato finely. Peel the garlic cloves. Keep these ready, along with the curry leaves.

6. Take the coconut, fennel seeds and poppy seeds in a small mixer jar. Grind together to a smooth paste, using a little water.

7. When the pressure from the cooker has completely gone down, get the cooked chickpeas out.

Top left and right: Steps 8 and 9, Above leftmost bottom: Step 10, Leftmost bottom and bottom right: Step 11

8. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the mustard, and allow to sputter. Now, add in the cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, asafoetida and curry leaves. Let these ingredients stay in for a couple of seconds.

9. Add in the garlic cloves. Saute for half a minute.

10. Add the onion to the pan. Saute on medium flame till the onion gets brown.

11. Add in the chopped tomato, along with the turmeric, a little salt and some water. Cook on medium flame for a minute.

Top left and above leftmost bottom: Steps 12 and 13, Leftmost bottom: Step 14, Bottom right: Step 15, Top right: Step 16

12. Add the tamarind extract to the pan, along with salt to taste and the cooked chickpeas. Also add in the water the chickpeas were cooked in. Mix well.

13. Cook everything together for 3-4 minutes or till the raw smell of the tamarind goes away.

14. Now, add in about 2 more cups of water or as needed to adjust the consistency. Add in the jaggery powder, coriander powder, red chilli powder and sambar powder. Mix well.

15. Add in the coconut paste we ground earlier. Mix well.

16. Cook on medium flame for 3-4 more minutes, for the mixture to thicken and for the raw smell of the spice powders to go away. Switch off gas at this stage.

Top: The Kondakadalai Kara Kozhambu is almost ready, Bottom: Step 17

17. Mix in finely chopped coriander. The Kondakadalai Kara Kozhambu is ready. Serve hot with steamed rice, drizzled with sesame oil.

Tips & Tricks

1. I have used home-made sambar powder here. You can use a store-bought version, instead, too.

2. This Kondakadalai Kara Kozhambu is made using white chickpeas, which are commonly called kabuli chana. Black-eyed peas (aka cowpeas, lobia or karamani) or black chickpeas (aka karuppu kondakadalai or kotthukadalai) can be used instead too.

3. Sesame oil aka nalla ennai works best in the making of this dish. However, if you don’t have it, you may use any other variety of oil you prefer.

4. Adjust the quantity of salt, jaggery powder, sambar powder, red chilli powder and coriander powder as per personal taste preferences.

5. Instead of poppy seeds, a few cashewnuts can be used to thicken the Kondakadalai Kara Kozhambu. A slurry made using rice flour and a little water can be used instead, too.

6. Upto 1/2 cup of coconut can be used in this dish. I prefer using just about 2 tablespoons of coconut only.

7. Adjust the quantity of water you use, depending upon the consistency of the Kondakadalai Kara Kozhambu you require. I prefer keeping it just slightly thick, quite runny in consistency.

8. The garlic cloves are, traditionally, kept whole in this recipe, and I have done the same. However, if you so prefer, you may chop them up roughly or crush them using a mortar and pestle.

9. You may drizzle some sesame oil over the Kondakadalai Kara Kozhambu, once it is cooked and ready. This adds a whole lot of flavour to it. We usually skip this, instead drizzling the oil over the rice in our plates, while eating.

10. Some cinnamon and cloves can be added to the tempering too. I prefer leaving out these ingredients.

11. Here is how I make the roasted coriander powder – I dry roast some coriander seeds (dhania) in a pan till fragrant, then allow them to cool down and grind to a powder. I usually make a small batch of this, store in an air-tight bottle, and use as needed. If you don’t have roasted coriander powder ready, you can add about a 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds to the coconut, while grinding.

12. This is a completely vegetarian and vegan preparation, suited to those following a plant-based diet. If you want to make it gluten-free, simply skip the asafoetida used in the tempering. Most Indian brands of asafoetida contain wheat flour, to a lesser or greater extent, and are best avoided when one is following a gluten-free diet. However, if you can find 100% gluten-free asafoetida, you could definitely use it.

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

Vegetable Rava Cheela| Savoury Semolina Pancakes

Today, I’m going to share with you all the recipe for Vegetable Rava Cheela, the way I make it.

What is Vegetable Rava Cheela?

Rava Cheela refers to savoury pancakes made, Indian-style, using semolina or sooji. I like adding in vegetables like carrots and onions, to make them a bit more nutritious. These pancakes use curd and a few other spices, which makes them quite flavourful.

This is a quick option for breakfast or light dinner, when you want to eat something delicious but don’t have the time to do elaborate preparations. It is something you can whip up instantly in minutes, without any prior soaking or fermentation.

What exactly is rava or semolina?

Rava refers to the residue after grinding flour from wheat. The mill takes off the husk of the wheat, which gets further ground into small pieces. The fine particles that remain at the end of this process is called rava, sooji or semolina. Read this article by The Spruce Eats for a better understanding of how rava is made.

Rava is not very nutritious – most of the nutrients from the ahead are already stripped off by the time the wheat gets to the rava stage. However, rava is commonly used in several Indian dishes like upma, laddoo, idli, dosa, cheela, kesari and the likes.

There are a few different types of rava available in India – the very fine Bombay rava and the coarse Bansi rava, for instance. Then, there is the idli rava, which is made from rice. I have used Bombay rava to make these cheela here.

#RavaRaaga at Foodie Monday Blog Hop

This recipe is brought to you in association with the Foodie Monday Blog Hop that I am part of.

Aruna of Vasu’s Veg Kitchen suggested #RavaRaaga as the Foodie Monday Blog Hop theme for the week. Foodie Monday Blog Hop is a group of food bloggers who share recipes based on a pre-determined theme, every Monday. This Monday, all of us are showcasing various types of dishes made using sooji aka rava or semolina.

Speaking of rava, I have been thinking about this Eggless, No-Maida Rava Pizza recipe on Aruna’s blog, ever since I came across it recently. What a beauty!

How to make Vegetable Rava Cheela

Here’s presenting my Vegetable Rava Cheela or Savoury Semolina Pancakes recipe, for the theme.
Ingredients (makes about 8):

  1. 1 cup fine rava aka semolina
  2. 1 cup thick curd
  3. Salt to taste
  4. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  5. 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder or to taste
  6. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander
  7. 1 sprig fresh curry leaves
  8. 1 medium-sized onion
  9. 1 small carrot
  10. About 3/4 cup water or as needed
  11. 1/2 tablespoon oil + more as needed to make the cheela
  12. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  13. 2 pinches of asafoetida

Method:

1. Take the rava in a large vessel and add in the curd. Mix well, and set aside for 15-20 minutes.

2. After 15-20 minutes, the rava would have soaked in the curd and become softer. The mixture would have gotten quite thick. Now, add salt to taste as well as red chilli powder and turmeric powder.

3. Chop up the curry leaves finely and add to the vessel. Add in the finely chopped coriander too.

4. Chop the onion finely. Peel the carrot and grate finely. Add these to the vessel too. Mix well.

Top left and right: Steps 1 and 2, Above leftmost bottom and leftmost bottom: Steps 3 and 4, Bottom right: Step 5

5. Add water as required to make a lump-free batter that is neither too thick nor too runny. Check out the video below to see how the consistency of the batter should be. Mix well.

6. Heat oil in a small pan. Add in the mustard, and allow to sputter. Switch off gas. Add in the asafoetida and let it stay in the hot oil for a couple of seconds. Now, pour this tempering over the batter we prepared earlier. Mix well. Your batter is now ready to make Vegetable Rava Cheela.

7. Heat a dosa pan well. Then, reduce the flame to medium. Pour a ladle full of the batter in the centre of the pan. Spread it out just a little, using the back of the ladle. Drizzle some oil all around the cheela. Let it cook on medium flame till it gets well-cooked on the bottom, about 2 minutes.

8. Now, gently loosen the sides of the cheela and flip it over. Cook on medium flame on the other side for 1-2 minutes. Transfer the prepared cheela to a serving plate. Serve hot, as it is or with chutney of your choice.

Top: Step 6, Bottom left and right: Steps 7 and 8

Tips & Tricks

1. Use fine sooji, i.e. Bombay rava, for best results.

2. Adjust the quantity of water depending upon the consistency of your cheela batter.

3. Thick, sour curd works best in this cheela.

4. I have used only carrot and onion in these Savoury Semolina Pancakes. You can add in any vegetables of your choice.

5. These cheela are a bit delicate, so ensure that they are well-cooked on the bottom before flipping them over. I prefer making these on a non-stick pan rather than a regular dosa tava. You may also cover the cheela for faster and even cooking, though that isn’t strictly necessary.

6. You may add finely chopped green chillies instead of the red chilli powder I have used here, or a mix of both. If kids are going to be eating these cheela, using only a bit of red chilli powder is recommended.

7. Considering that rava is made from wheat residue, these cheela are not gluten-free. Due to the addition of curd, they are not vegan or plant-based either.

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

Eggless Honey Cake Recipe| Bangalore Bakery Style Honey Cake

Honey Cake, anyone? My post today is all about making this beauty of a cake at home. Here’s presenting a simple Eggless Honey Cake recipe!

What is Honey Cake?

If you have lived in Bangalore and explored the city’s food scene even a wee bit, I am sure you know about Honey Cake. From what I have learned and understood, honey cakes are a part of several different cultures around the globe. Here, I’m talking about the Bangalore version, a rustic cake that, as the name suggests, is drenched in sweet honey syrup. The top of the cake has a thick glaze made with mixed fruit jam, and a garnish of dessicated coconut. The overall effect is stunning. The moistness the syrup offers the cake, the flavours of the dry coconut and the jam together make it absolutely irresistible.

Honey Cake is a specialty of the Iyengar Bakery outlets that dot Bangalore city. Many of these bakeries started out, years and years ago, as specialists in eggless baking (keeping in mind the requirements of their completely vegetarian clientele). Some do have eggy confections on their shelves, in the present times, while some have remained true to their roots. Delicious jam-glazed honey cakes are one goodie these Iyengar bakeries are credited with inventing, along with Masala Bread and Vegetable Toast. Iyengar bakeries are an integral part of the culture of Bangalore till date, as are their honey cakes. The husband and I are big fans of the delectable stuff these bakeries have on offer, especially the honey cakes.

Eggless Honey Cake for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop’s 250th

I’m sure you have read my posts for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. It is a group of talented food bloggers, who share recipes based on a pre-determined theme every Monday.

I joined the group in 2017, when they had just completed 100 successful weeks. Sabudana Vada, 3 Ways was my first-ever post for the group. Members have come and gone, but I’ve stayed associated with the group over the past three years, and it has been an absolute pleasure. Today, the group is celebrating its 250th week, no mean milestone, this! I realise how far along I have come as a food blogger, and a major share of the credit goes to the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. We’ve grown to become a close-knit bunch, discussing everything from our lives to foodie trends and photography techniques. The passion of the group for food is infectious, and I love and cherish the discussions we have. It has forced me to get out of my comfort zone, to hone my cooking skills, to think on my feet. Above all, it’s a group that feels like family. Thank you, girls, for everything!

Here’s hoping for many more such milestones for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop group! May we all create beautiful food (and memories!) for a long, long time to come. To celebrate the occasion of the 250th, all the members are baking cakes – a fitting tribute because it was this group that egged me on to shed my inhibitions about baking, and to just go ahead and start doing it. I chose this beautiful Eggless Honey Cake recipe to showcase for the day.

#CelebrateWithCake.

Eggless Honey Cake recipe

I baked this Eggless Honey Cake recently, using the recipe from Cooking From Heart, with a few variations. It turned out absolutely brilliant, tasting exactly like the honey cake we get in Iyengar bakeries. It was a huge hit with the family, and disappeared within a day of making.

Here’s how I went about making the cake.

Ingredients (makes one 6-inch cake):

For the cake:

  1. 1-1/2 cups refined wheat flour (maida)
  2. 3/4 cup sugar, powdered
  3. 1-1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  4. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  5. 1 cup fresh curd
  6. 1/2 cup oil
  7. 1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence

For the honey syrup:

  1. 1/4 cup water
  2. 3 teaspoons sugar
  3. 2 tablespoons honey

For the jam glaze:

  1. 2 tablespoons mixed fruit jam
  2. 1 teaspoon sugar

3. 2 teaspoons dessicated coconut

Method:

1. We will start by making the base cake. For this, take the curd in a large mixing bowl. Add in the sugar, and mix well until you get a smooth, homogeneous mixture.

2. Add the baking powder to this mixture, along with the baking soda. Mix well.

3. Set aside the mixture for 3-4 minutes for it to become frothy.

4. In the meantime, preheat the oven at 200 degrees for 10 minutes.

5. Measure out the maida in another bowl. Sift it to ensure that there are no lumps.

6. Also, grease a cake pan and keep it ready.

7. When the curd mixture becomes frothy, add in the oil and vanilla essence. Whisk together gently till combined.

8. Add the maida little by little to the curd mixture, whisking it gently, until everything is well integrated together. You should get a smooth batter. Don’t over-mix the batter, but keep it light.

9. Pour the batter into the greased cake pan, and place it in the preheated oven. Bake at 180 degrees for 30-35 minutes or till a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.

10. While the cake is baking, we will prepare the honey syrup. Take the water and sugar in a saucepan, and place on high flame. Let it come to a boil, and allow the sugar to get completely dissolved in the water. Now, switch off gas and mix in the honey to the syrup. Keep aside.

11. When the cake is done baking, prick holes all over it with a toothpick or fork. Pour the honey syrup evenly over the cake, while it is still warm.

12. Allow the cake to sit for 4-5 minutes, then invert it over a plate.

13. Now, we will prepare the jam glaze for the cake. Take the mixed fruit jam in a small pan, along with the sugar. Place on medium flame and heat till the jam liquefies and mixes with the sugar to form a paste. Don’t overcook the jam – you need to only gently heat it.

14. Spread a thick layer of this jam glaze all over the top of the inverted cake. Drizzle the dessicated coconut evenly over the glaze.

15. Allow the cake to rest till it completely cools down, by which time the jam glaze would have nicely set. You can now go ahead and slice the cake.

Tips & Tricks

1. Do not over-mix the cake batter. Just mix gently it till all the ingredients are well incorporated together.

2. Use fresh curd that is not too sour, for best results.

3. Use any odourless oil in the cake batter. I have used regular refined oil here.

4. I have used mixed fruit jam from Kissan for the glaze. You can use any other brand you prefer.

5. As per Ayurvedic principles, honey should not be heated. So, I have just heated the sugar and water together, and then mixed the honey to it. You don’t need to make a thick syrup, just make sure all the ingredients of the syrup are well incorporated together.

6. The honey syrup should be poured over the cake while it is still warm. Make sure you pour the syrup evenly all over the cake.

7. Spread the jam glaze over the cake while it is still warm, too. It will be easier to spread that way. It will set and become thick as it cools.

8. The cake slices can be stored refrigerated, in an air-tight box, for 3-4 days.

9. I didn’t have dessicated coconut at hand, so I have used grated dry coconut (kopparai) instead. I think it worked just as well.

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

Vengaya Pakoda| Crispy Onion Pakoda Recipe

I don’t think I know anyone who doesn’t love Vengaya Pakoda. Crispy, delicious Vengaya Pakoda or onion fritters are bliss on a cold, rainy day, especially when served straight off the pan. Even on a regular day, a platter of these onion fritters with a cup of tea or coffee perks up everyone’s mood. No wonder these are one of India’s favourite snacks, available just about everywhere! Today, I’m going to share with you our family’s crispy onion pakoda recipe, with tips and tricks to get it just right.

A closer look at Vengaya Pakoda

Vengaya Pakoda, as I said earlier, refers to crispy, deep-fried onion fritters. The main ingredient in these pakodas is, of course, onions. Gram flour aka besan – which is flour made from black chickpeas or de-skinned gram dal (chana dal) – acts as a binding agent. Rice flour is added in, to make the fritters crisp.

We like our fritters simple, with only minimal ingredients going into them. I use salt, a bit of asafoetida and turmeric powder, as well as some finely chopped fresh curry leaves. I skip the chopped green chillies that some people add to the pakodas, and use red chilli powder instead. I use regular refined oil to deep-fry the fritters.

Are these fritters vegan and gluten-free?

This is a completely vegetarian and vegan preparation, suitable to those following a plant-based diet. You can skip the asafoetida used in the recipe to make the fritters gluten-free. Most Indian brands of asafoetida do contain wheat flour to a lesser or greater extent and are, hence, best avoided when one is following a gluten-free diet. However, if you can find 100% gluten-free asafoetida, please do go ahead and use it.

It’s raining #MonsoonMunchies at the Foodie Monday Blog Hop!

The Foodie Monday Blog Hop is a group of food bloggers who share recipes based on a pre-determined theme, every Monday. The theme this week is #MonsoonMunchies, wherein members are showcasing a variety of snacks just perfect for the monsoons. With rains starting shortly in most parts of India, including Bangalore, I decided to share our family recipe for everyone’s favourite Vengaya Pakoda. These fritters define ‘monsoon’ for me!

It was Archana from the Foodie Monday Blog Hop group who suggested this week’s theme. Archana is the author of The Mad Scientist’s Kitchen, a beautiful blog that includes several traditional Goan dishes, many baked goodies and other Indian regional delicacies. I’m charmed by the look of the Samosa Chaat on her blog, which is perfect ‘rainy day comfort food’ for me. Her Vegan Tofu Steak would also make for a wonderful monsoon meal, I say.

Looking for more monsoon munchies? Do check out my recipes for Bonda Soup, Long Pepper Rasam and Thai Tom Yum Soup!

Vengaya Pakoda or Crispy Onion Pakoda recipe

I have had my fair share of failed onion pakodas, with them not being crisp or raw in the centre or doughy. But that’s all in the past now. I have learnt from my mistakes, from Amma’s expertise and my house help’s expert tips.

Here’s how we go about it.

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

  1. 4 medium-sized onions
  2. Salt to taste
  3. 3-4 sprigs fresh curry leaves
  4. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  5. 1/4 teaspoon asafoetida powder
  6. 1 teaspoon red chilli powder or to taste
  7. 1/4 cup rice flour
  8. 3/4 cup gram flour (besan), or as needed
  9. Oil, as needed for deep-frying

Method:

Top left and right: Steps 1 and 2, Above bottom-most left: Step 3, Bottom-most left: Step 4, Bottom right: Step 5

1. Peel the onions and chop length-wise, thinly. Place them in a large mixing bowl. Mix some salt into the chopped onions and let them sit for 10-15 minutes.

2. Set the oil for deep-frying in a heavy-bottomed pan, on high flame. Allow the oil to get nice and hot. In the meantime, finely chop the curry leaves and add to the mixing bowl.

3. In 10-15 minutes, the salted onions would have let out water. Add the red chilli powder, salt to taste, asafoetida and turmeric powder.

4. Add rice flour and a little gram flour to the mixing bowl too. Mix up all the ingredients gently. Now, add some more gram flour, mixing up the ingredients. Continue doing this till the proportion of onions to the flour in the mixing bowl looks equal. I needed about 3/4 cup of gram flour for 4 medium-sized onions + 1/4 cup rice flour.

5. When the oil for deep-frying gets hot, add about 2 tablespoons of it to the mixing bowl.

Top: Step 6, Bottom left and right: Steps 7 and 8

6. Now, mix all the ingredients in the mixing bowl with a spoon. Do not add any water. If you feel the batter is too dry, you may add a couple of spoons of water to it, but not too much.

7. Reduce the flame down to medium, on the oil for frying. Drop a few small pieces of the batter into the hot oil. Deep fry on medium heat till the fritters get brown and crisp on the outside. Take care to ensure that the fritters do not burn while frying. Remove the fried fritters onto a plate.

8. Keeping the flame medium, prepare fritters from all the batter in the same way, a few at a time. Serve them hot, with tomato ketchup or any other accompaniment of your choice.

Tips & Tricks

1. Slice the onions thin and length-wise, for best results. You can also chop the onions fine, but thin, length-wise slices turn out better.

2. Do not add any water while binding the ingredients together. This will help make the pakodas crisp. If needed, make sure you add very little water. The batter should be thick.

3. Adjust the quantity of red chilli powder as per personal taste preferences.

4. Don’t forget to add the hot oil to the batter. It helps make crisp and flavourful pakodas.

5. Be careful while adding salt to the batter. Remember that you already salted the onions before.

6. Some carom seeds (omam/ajwain) and finely chopped coriander and green chillies can be added to the pakoda batter, too. I usually don’t.

7. Let the oil get nice and hot before dropping the fritters into them. To test the oil, drop a small piece of the batter into the hot oil. If it slowly rises to the surface, the oil is hot and ready. If it doesn’t, the oil needs to get a little more hot. If the oil is very hot, the batter will immediately rise to the surface – in that case, it needs to be allowed to cool down a bit. Start frying the fritters only when the temperature of the oil is just right.

8. Fry the fritters on medium flame, to ensure even cooking. Otherwise, the pakodas will get brown on the outside and remain raw on the inside.

9. Do not clump the batter together while dropping it into the pan. Don’t form balls out of the batter, just drop small pieces of it into the hot oil. This helps in getting ‘light’, non-greasy fritters.

10. Do not overcrowd the pan with fritters, while deep-frying. Fry a few at a time, so they have space to move around in the pan and get cooked evenly.

11. Don’t use too much gram flour, otherwise the fritters will seem doughy. Adjust the quantity of gram flour you use, as stated in #4 of the recipe above.

12. You may add a pinch of baking soda to the batter too, to make the fritters light. However, this is not necessary. You can get crisp, light pakodas keeping in mind the tips and tricks stated above.

13. You can use any oil of your preference to fry the fritters.

14. Use a heavy-bottomed pan, for the deep-frying.

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