Kadala Paruppu Thogayal| Chana Daal Chutney

We love our chutneys, as I’m sure you would have figured out already from the many chutney recipes already on the blog. Today, I present to you one more type – Kadala Paruppu Thogayal or Chana Daal Chutney.

As a child, I was brought up on a steady diet of various types of chutneys, because I refused to eat my vegetables. πŸ™‚ In adulthood, my love for chutneys only intensified, and I began experimenting wildly with different ingredients and grinding techniques.

The husband grew up with various chutneys in his life too, loving them to bits. Keerai kootu, rice and rasam with different types of chutneys were a permanent fixture on his home’s dining table. So they are in our house today, too.

Chana daal is a sort of binding agent in most chutneys, whereas a vegetable usually is the star ingredient. However, in this Kadala Paruppu Thogayal, chana daal is the primary ingredient. Can you imagine just how protein-packed it would be? A simple dish to prepare, the chana daal makes it super flavourful!

We Tam-Brahms prepare something called Paruppu Thogayal, a delicious chutney made with toor daal that makes for an awesome accompaniment to rasam rice. This Kadala Paruppu Thogayal, though quite similar to the traditional Paruppu Thogayal in a lot of ways, differs from it in a lot of ways too.

I made this Kadala Paruppu Thogayal from Lathiya’s blog recently, and it was a big hit at home. I followed the original recipe mostly, with a few small variations of my own. We are going to be seeing more of this chutney in the times to come – I’m sure of that!

I cooked this dish for Food Bloggers Recipe Swap, a Facebook group that I am part of. Every month, the food bloggers in the group pair up, and each pair cooks dishes from their partner’s blog. What a lovely way to explore food from around the world, right? Mireille, author of The Schizo Chef, who is spearheading the recipe swap group, paired me with Lathiya for this month. I decided on this simple chutney recipe from Lathiya’s blog.

Do check out the way I made the Kadala Paruppu Thogayal! This is definitely something you must try out too!

Ingredients (yields 3/4 cup):

  1. 1/2 cup chana daal
  2. 1/4 cup fresh grated coconut
  3. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  4. A small piece of tamarind
  5. Salt to taste
  6. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  7. 1 tablespoon jaggery powder or to taste
  8. 4 dry red chillies or to taste
  9. 1 sprig + 1 sprig of curry leaves
  10. 1 teaspoon + 1/2 tablespoon oil
  11. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  12. 2 pinches of asafoetida

Method:

1. Soak the tamarind in a little hot water for at least 10 minutes. Keep aside.

2. Peel the ginger and chop it up. Keep aside.

3. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a pan. Add in the chana daal and dry red chillies, and roast them on medium heat till the daal begins to brown. Ensure that the ingredients do not burn.

4. Add the chopped ginger, 1 sprig curry leaves, soaked tamarind (without the water it was soaked in), and grated coconut to the pan. Roast on medium heat for a minute, ensuring that the ingredients do not burn. Switch off gas.

5. Allow the roasted ingredients to cool down completely, and then transfer them to a mixer jar.

6. To the mixer jar, add salt to taste, jaggery powder, and turmeric powder. Add in the water which the tamarind was soaked in. Add in a little fresh water. Grind the ingredients together to a paste, as fine or as coarse as you want it to be.

7. Transfer the chutney we ground to a serving bowl.

8. Heat the remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil in a pan. Add mustard and allow to sputter. Now add the asafoetida and the remaining curry leaves. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds, ensuring that the ingredients do not burn. Switch off the gas. Pour this tempering onto the chutney in the serving bowl. Mix well. Your Kadala Paruppu Thogayal is ready to serve!

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

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Do check out the exciting recipes that the other members of the Food Bloggers Recipe Swap have come up with!

Harissa| Chana Daal Chutney| Fresh Green Chana Chaat | Koeksisters|Til Ke Laddu | Pineapple Ginger Bubble Tea| Masala Chai|Ragi, Banana & Dates Smoothie | Roasted Beetroot Hummus| Mamra Upma| Spiced Plantain Chips| Fiery Habanero Pepper Hot Sauce| Sweet Potato Soup

I’m sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #263.

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Manathakali Vattalkozhambu| Dried Nightshade Berries Cooked In Tamarind

Whenever we visit Madras, I make sure we pick up a packet of manathakali berries from the nearest vegetable shop. Back in Bangalore, we don’t get these little, shiny, green and black fruits that are bursting with flavour, fresh. These berries, the fruits of the Solanum Nigrum or the black nightshade plant, are not just supremely delicious, but also loaded with health benefits – they are high in antioxidants and Vitamin A, help relieve peptic and mouth ulcers, and better digestion and gut health, for instance. In fact, the leaves of the Solanum Nigrum, Manathakali Keerai in Tamil, also possess several health benefits. Check out the Manathakali Keerai Kootu I made a while ago!

So, I love using these fresh manthakali berries in vattalkozhambu, an extremely delicious, traditional Tamilian preparation that uses oodles of tamarind. Manathakali Vattalkozhambu is a big favourite of all of us at home, comfort food for everyone around.

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Fresh manathakali berries, some ripe, some unripe. Both the ripe and unripe ones can be cooked.

The fresh berries don’t last very long, though. They need to be used up immediately, as soon as we have got back to Bangalore and have barely unpacked our bags. They don’t have much of a shelf life. For later use, I always make sure I buy a packet of manathakali vatthal in Madras, black nightshade berries soaked in buttermilk and salt, then sun-dried and packed up to preserve them. These dried berries taste just as good in vattalkozhambu, if not better.

Manathakali Vattalkozhambu, with a few dried manathakali or black nightshade berries on the side

Give me some piping hot steamed rice, a bit of salt and ghee, some cooked toor daal and some well-made vattalkozhambu any day, and I’ll be a happy person. It is joy to eat this meal with your hands, off a steel plate – no fancy cutlery required there. A carefully erected ‘moat’ made with ghee-infused daal rice, with vattalkozhambu poured down in the centre – I grew up relishing this combination of food, and it still gives me great solace. I love eating up any leftover vattalkozhambu with dosas or as a side to rotisabzi too!

Today, I share with you our family recipe for Manathakali Vattalkozhambu, vattalkozhambu made using dried black nightshade berries. Do try it out, and let me know if it offers you the same level of comfort and bliss that it does to you! Will you?

Ingredients (serves 4-5):

  1. A big lemon-sized ball of tamarind
  2. 1-1/2 tablespoons dried nightshade berries aka mananthakali vatthal
  3. Salt to taste
  4. 2 tablespoons sambar powder or to taste
  5. 2 tablespoons jaggery powder or to taste
  6. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  7. Red chilli powder to taste
  8. About 1-1/2 tablespoons wheat flour or rice flour
  9. 2 tablespoons oil
  10. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  11. A pinch of fenugreek seeds
  12. 2 dry red chillies
  13. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  14. 1 sprig curry leaves

Method:

1. Soak the tamarind in a little hot water for at least 10 minutes. When it is cool enough to handle, extract all the juice out of it, adding fresh water little by little. You should get almost 1-1/2 cups of tamarind extract. Discard the seeds, fibres and impurities, if any. Keep the tamarind extract aside.

2. Mix the rice flour or wheat flour with a little water, making a slurry. Make sure there are no lumps. Keep aside.

3. In a pan, heat the oil. Add the mustard, and allow it to sputter. Now, add the asafoetida, curry leaves, fenugreek, and the dry red chillies. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds.

4. Add the dried nightshade berries to the pan. Saute on medium flame for a minute.

5. Add the tamarind extract to the pan, along with about 1 cup of water. Add salt to taste, red chilli powder, jaggery powder, and turmeric powder. Mix well and cook for a couple of minutes on medium flame.

6. Now, add in the sambar powder and the flour slurry we prepared earlier. Mix well.

7. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Add more water if required.

8. Cook on medium heat for 1-2 more minutes till the Mananthakali Vattalkozhambu thickens slightly and attains a silky consistency. Switch off the gas at this stage. Now, the vattalkozhambu is ready to be served – you can do so hot or at room temperature.

Notes:

1. Gingelly oil works best in the making of this Manathakali Vattalkozhambu. However, if you don’t have it, you can use any other oil of your preference.

2. For best results, use high-quality vatthal aka dried nightshade berries, tamarind and sambar powder.

3. Adjust the quantity of water you use, depending upon the consistency of the vattalkozhambu you desire. The end result should be a silken liquid that is quite runny, just slightly thickened by the flour slurry we added in.

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

5. You may add in finely chopped fresh coriander after the Manathakali Vattalkozhambu is ready.

6. Instead of the dried nightshade berries, you can make the vattalkozhambu using a variety of other ingredients – like fresh nightshade berries, beetroot, onion, ladies’ finger, brinjal, drumstick and the likes. Just substitute any of these ingredients for the dried nightshade berries – the rest of the procedure remains the same.

7. I use home-made sambar powder to make this Manathakali Vattalkozhambu. Considering that the powder is not too spicy, I add red chilli powder to taste. However, if you are using store-bought sambar powder that is spicy, you might want to skip using the red chilli powder altogether.

8. In some families, there is a separate masala that is ground, stored and used in the making of vattalkozhambu, in place of the sambar powder. However, we always use sambar powder in vattalkozhambu.

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This recipe is for the Healthy Wellthy Cuisines Facebook group that I am part of. The members of this group cook for a particular theme every fortnight. This fortnight, the theme is #LegumeAffairAtHW, wherein all of us are cooking special dishes using different types of legumes. For the theme, I chose to share the recipe for my favourite Manathakali Vattalkozhambu, in which tamarind (a legume) is one of the major ingredients.

Do check out what the other participants have cooked up, for the theme!:

Restaurant-Style Dal Tadka by Seema| Boondi Kadhi by Rosy| Lehsuni Dal Palak by Swaty| Habisha Dalma by Sasmita| Home-Made Peanut Butter by Poonam| Moong Dal Khichdi by Kalyani| Dhaba-Style Kala Chana by Jayashree| Baingan Pakora by Geetanjali| Rajma Masala by Shalu

I’m also sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #263.

Pressure Cooker Jeera Rice| One-Pot Indian Cumin Rice

It was September 2008. A ‘boy’ had come from Bangalore to our place in Ahmedabad, with his mom and his brother, to ‘see’ me. Well, it wasn’t the first time the boy, his family and I were meeting – a year before their visit, courtesy of my Bangalore aunt, I had already met them. The boy and I had kind of approved of each other but, for one reason or the other of the boy’s making, official talks of our wedding never happened. Then, one fine day, a year after we met, this boy pings me on chat saying he’s had enough and that he’s serious about getting married to me! We started chatting regularly, a lot of doubts clearing, new respect and love building. His family and mine were thrilled that the cogs were finally turning and some progress was happening in our relationship. So, when this boy and his family came over to Ahmedabad to visit, deep, official talks were conducted, as was an unofficial engagement ceremony. And then, in January 2009, this boy became my wedded partner in life. He became my husband, and I his wife. 10 years since, today, together we stand.

Why am I talking about this today? Because I am about to share with you guys the recipe for the first-ever dish I cooked for the husband and his family – Pressure Cooker Jeera Rice or One-Pot Indian Cumin Rice – at my place. From what I knew of the husband’s family, they were a typical non-foodie bunch, used to typical South Indian home-cooked meals. This Pressure Cooker Jeera Rice was my way of indicating that a change in the household’s culinary scene was in order, shortly, yet nothing too jarring or disruptive or disrespectful. πŸ˜€ I served the jeera rice with a simple Dal Tadka, and the combination was quite liked by them.

This is an easy one-pot recipe that gets ready in a jiffy. In just about 10 minutes, it yields supremely flavourful, fluffy cumin rice that makes for just the perfect accompaniment to dal or a gravy-based curry.

Try this out, will you?

Ingredients (serves 4):

  1. 1-1/2 cups rice
  2. Salt to taste
  3. 2 green chillies
  4. 2 teaspoons jeera aka cumin
  5. 2 tablespoons ghee
  6. 3-3/4 cups of water
  7. 2 tablespoons finely chopped coriander, to garnish

Method:

  1. Slit the green chillies length-wise. Keep them ready.
  2. Wash the rice a couple of times in running water, draining out the excess water each time. Keep the washed and drained rice ready.
  3. Heat the ghee in a pressure cooker bottom. Add in the cumin seeds, and let them stay in for a couple of seconds.
  4. Add in the slit green chillies and the washed and drained rice. Saute on medium flame for a minute, ensuring that the rice does not burn.
  5. Now, turn the flame to high. Add in the water and salt to taste. Mix well.
  6. Allow the water to come to a boil. At this stage, close the pressure cooker and put the whistle on.
  7. Cook on high flame for 3 whistles. Let the pressure release naturally.
  8. When the pressure has entirely gone down, open the cooker. Gently fluff up the rice. Mix in the finely chopped coriander.
  9. Serve hot with a gravy-based curry or dal of your choice.

Notes:

  1. I have used Sona Masoori rice to make this One-Pot Indian Cumin Rice.
  2. It is imperative that you use good-quality cumin, rice and ghee in this recipe, since these are the ingredients that will impart maximum flavour to the Pressure Cooker Jeera Rice.
  3. I used a 5-litre pressure cooker to make this One-Pot Indian Cumin Rice.
  4. Some people add in whole spices like bay leaves, cardamom, cinnamon and/or cloves, as well as caramelised onions and shelled green peas to the One-Pot Indian Cumin Rice. I have skipped all of these ingredients, and used just the most basic ones.
  5. You can use basmati rice in place of Sona Masoori rice, too. In that case, adjust the quantity of water you use accordingly.
  6. To cook plain steamed rice in a pressure cooker, I use 3-1/2 cups of water per 1 cup of Sona Masoori rice. For this Pressure Cooker Jeera Rice, however, since I wanted it to be grainy but well-cooked, I have used 2-1/2 cups of water per 1 cup of rice. So, for 1-1/2 cups of Sona Masoori rice, I have used 3-3/4 cups of water in total. Adjust the quantity of water you use depending upon the type of rice used and how grainy you want the One-Pot Indian Cumin Rice to be.
  7. Pressure cooking for 3 whistles gives just the perfect output for us. You may want to increase or decrease the number of whistles depending upon the make of your cooker, the quantity of rice you are cooking, and the texture of rice that you are aiming at.
  8. After adding salt to the water in the pressure cooker, taste it. It should be a bit salty. When the rice is added to it, the salt content turns out to be just perfect.

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Foodie Monday Blog Hop

This recipe is for Foodie Monday Blog Hop, a Facebook group that I am part of. Every Monday, the participants of this group cook and share recipes for a pre-determined theme.

The theme for this week, suggested by Swaty Malik of Food Trails, is #DownMemoryLane. As the name of the theme suggests, each of us participants have to share a recipe that means something to us, which has memories attached to it. I chose to write about this simple Pressure Cooker Jeera Rice recipe for the theme, as it brings back a rush of several fond memories.

I’m also sharing this post with Fiesta Friday #262. The co-host is Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

Broccoli, Green Chana & Peas Tikki

Winter is, slowly and gradually, beating a retreat, here in Bangalore. The days are getting longer, and hotter. The choliya (aka hara chana or fresh green chickpeas) and green peas that I so love using in the winter months have all but disappeared from the markets. I decided to make a little something with these favourite ingredients of mine before they are not available any more – Broccoli, Green Chana & Peas Tikki.

These Broccoli, Green Chana & Peas Tikkis turned out to be a favourite with everyone at home. They turned out absolutely flavourful, and were devoured in a few minutes flat. We had guests over when I made these, and they adored the tikkis as well. Served hot, they make for a different-from-the-usual, healthy evening snack.

Here’s how I made the Broccoli, Green Chana & Peas Tikkis.

Ingredients (makes about 15 tikkis):

  1. 2 cups finely chopped broccoli
  2. 1 cup choliya aka fresh green chana
  3. 1/2 cup fresh green peas
  4. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  5. 2-3 green chillies or as per taste
  6. 6-7 cloves of garlic
  7. 4 slices of bread
  8. Salt to taste
  9. 2 generous pinches of asafoetida
  10. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  11. 3/4 tablespoon garam masala or to taste
  12. 3/4 tablespoon jaggery powder or to taste
  13. 1/2 tablespoon chaat masala or to taste
  14. 1/2 tablespoon amchoor powder or to taste
  15. 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander
  16. 1 tablespoon oil, plus as needed to shallow fry the tikkis
  17. Tomato ketchup, as needed to serve the tikkis

Method:

1. Pressure cook the green peas and fresh green chana on a high flame, without adding any water, for 3 whistles. Let the pressure release naturally.

2. When the pressure has fully gone down, allow the cooked green chana and peas to cool down fully.

3. Coarsely grind the cooked green chana and peas in a mixer. Remember not to make a fine paste, but to just crush the green chana and peas coarsely. Keep aside.

4. Peel the ginger and garlic. Chop the ginger and green chillies finely. Grind the ginger, garlic and green chillies together to a fine paste, using a little water. Keep aside.

5. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a pan, and add in the finely chopped broccoli. Saute on medium heat for a minute.

6. Add the ginger-green chillies-garlic paste to the pan, along with salt to taste, turmeric powder, asafoetida, jaggery powder, amchoor powder, garam masala and chaat masala. Saute for another minute on medium flame. Switch off gas.

7. Dip each slice of bread in a little water, just for a second, squeeze out the excess water and add to the cooked broccoli mixture in the pan.

8. Add the coarsely crushed green chana and peas to the cooked broccoli. Add in the finely chopped coriander too.

9. When the mixture is cool enough to handle, mix everything well. Shape tikkis out of the mixture, using your hands.

10. Get a thick dosa pan nice and hot. Spread a little oil all over the pan, and place 2-3 tikkis over it. Add a little oil around the tikkis. Cook on medium heat till the tikkis brown at the bottom. Then, flip the tikkis over and cook on medium heat till they are brown on the other side as well.

11. Serve the tikkis hot with tomato sauce or any accompaniment of your choice.

Notes:

1. The garam masala can be substituted by chana masala.

2. I have used multi-millet bread in the making of these Broccoli, Green Chana & Peas Tikkis. You can use any other variety of bread, of your preference, instead, too.

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I’m sending this post to the 125th edition of My Legume Love Affair (MLLA),Β  a monthly event wherein participants from around the world share vegetarian legume-based recipes. This event was conceptualised by Lisa of Lisa’s Kitchen and Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook. This month, MLLA is being hosted by Seema of Mildly Indian.

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I’m sharing this post with Fiesta Friday #262. The co-host is Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

Here are some other recipes from my blog that use choliya:

Choliya Kadhi| Hara Chana Chaat

Mixed Vegetable & Paneer Dosa

Here’s presenting to you Mixed Vegetable & Paneer Dosa, a pretty dosa that tastes just as slurpacious as it looks. What’s more, it is super healthy too! This Valentine’s Day, whip up these ‘red’ dosas for your loved ones!

You guys probably already know that we are a dosa-crazy family. Dosas find pride of place on our dining table every so often, any time of the day. We experiment like crazy when it comes to dosas, trying out different permutations and combinations to figure out what works best for us. πŸ™‚ Mixed Vegetable & Paneer Dosa is the latest such experiment at our place, one that was a huge hit with everyone.

You have to try this out too!

Here’s the recipe for these Mixed Vegetable & Paneer Dosas.

Ingredients (makes about 15-18 dosas):

For the filling:

  1. 1 tablespoon oil
  2. 200 grams paneer aka cottage cheese
  3. 2 tablespoons shelled green peas
  4. 5-6 beans
  5. 1 medium-sized onion
  6. 1/2 of a medium-sized capsicum
  7. 1 small beetroot
  8. 1 small carrot
  9. 1/2 of a medium-sized zucchini
  10. 2-3 medium-sized florets of cauliflower
  11. A small piece of cabbage
  12. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander
  13. Salt to taste
  14. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  15. Red chilli powder to taste
  16. 2 generous pinches of asafoetida
  17. 1 tablespoon garam masala or to taste
  18. 1 tablespoon amchoor powder or to taste
  19. 2 tablespoons jaggery powder or to taste

Other ingredients:

  1. 15-18 ladles of dosa batter
  2. Oil, as needed to cook the dosas

Method:

1. We will first prep all the veggies we need to prepare the filling. Remove strings from the beans and chop finely. Remove skin from the onion and chop finely. Chop the capsicum zucchini, cauliflower and cabbage finely. Peel the carrot and beetroot and chop finely. Keep the shelled green peas handy.

2. Crumble the paneer well, using your hands. Keep aside.

3. Now, we will prepare the filling. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the chopped beans, onion, capsicum, zucchini, cauliflower, cabbage, carrot and beetroot, as well as the green peas.

4. Turn the flame down to medium. Saute the veggies for about 2 minutes.

5. Add salt to taste, asafoetida, red chilli powder and turmeric powder. Mix well. Cook on medium heat till the veggies are almost done, 1-2 minutes.

6. Add in the crumbled paneer, garam masala, amchoor powder and jaggery powder. Mix well. Saute on medium heat for 1-2 minutes more, taking care to ensure that the vegetables do not burn.

7. Switch off the gas. Mix in the finely chopped fresh coriander into the filling. Allow the filling to cool down fully.

8. Now, we will make the dosas. Get a dosa pan nice and hot, placing it over high flame. When water droplets dance on it, turn the heat down to medium. Place a ladleful of dosa batter in the centre of the pan, and spread it around quickly with the back of the ladle. Spread a little oil all around the dosa. Let the dosa cook on medium heat till it browns on the bottom, ensuring it does not burn. Then, flip over and cook for about a minute on the other side too.

9. Transfer the dosa to a serving plate. Place a generous amount of the vegetable-paneer stuffing in the centre of the dosa. Serve immediately.

10. Prepare and serve all the dosas in a similar manner.

Notes:

1. I have used home-made dosa batter here. You can use either home-made or store-bought batter to make these dosas.

2. Prepare the filling on medium flame, ensuring that it does not burn.

3. Chana masala can be used in the filling, instead of garam masala.

4. The filling can made in advance and refrigerated, for up to a day. I prefer making it fresh, though, just before I need to make the dosas.

5. Any leftover filling can be used in making whole-wheat paratha wraps or sandwiches.

6. I prefer adding all the vegetables at the same time, while making the filling. Cook till the beetroot and carrot are tender, and the other veggies get slightly caramelised by this time, making the filling taste all the better.

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

8. You can sprinkle a little water while cooking the filling, if you feel it is getting too dry. Don’t make the filling too mushy – keep it dry.

9. Cook the dosas on medium heat, for best results.

10. You can use whatever veggies you have on hand, to make the filling for these dosas. I have specifically used beetroot here, because I wanted to make the filling look reddish.

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Here are some other dosa varieties from my blog:

Broccoli Masala Dosa| Paneer Masala Dosa| Dosa Pizza| Open Butter Masala Dosa| Schezwan Dosa| Poha Dosa| Spring Dosa| Moong Dosa| Sooji Chilla| Multi-Grain Dosas| Masala Dosa| Barnyard Millet Dosa| Bread Uttappam| Bajra Pesarettu| Ragi Dosa| Semiya Rava Vegetable Dosa| Tomato Omelette

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This post is for the Healthy Wellthy Cuisines group that I am part of. The members of this group cook for a particular theme every fortnight. This fortnight, the theme is #VDaySpecialAtHW, wherein all of us are cooking special dishes for the upcoming Valentine’s Day.

Check out what the other members of the group have come up with, for Valentine’s Day!

Bread Gulab Jamuns in Jaggery Syrup by Vanitha| Beetroot Drink with a Fruity Touch by Sasmita| White Chocolate Pudding by Swaty| Strawberry Mojito Mocktail by Jayashree| Chocolate Walnut Brownies by Rosy| No-Bake Berry Custard Tart by Shalu| Spiced Pomegranate Spritzer Mocktail by Geetanjali

I’m also sharing this post with Fiesta Friday #262. The co-host is Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

Classic Falafel Recipe| Easy Home-Made Falafel

The husband often visits the Middle East and surrounding regions on work. Much as he loves his rasam, rice and potato roast, he has been brought out of his comfort zone on such work trips. πŸ™‚ Over time, life (and I!) has taught him to explore the local cuisine of wherever he is travelling. He has now gotten acquainted with falafel and kebobs, dolma and pita sandwiches, hummus and baba ganouj, various dips and hand-made Israeli cheeses. He reports it has been a happy change, considering the Middle Eastern cuisine has so much to offer vegetarians, and full of flavour at that. It was his ruminations about the food of the Middle East (still quite exotic, quite unexplored to me!) to try my hands at the cuisine. Today, I present to you the recipe for Easy Home-Made Falafel, one of the husband’s favourite snacks while on the aforementioned work trips.

Falafel‘ refers to deep-fried fritters made using chickpeas or fava beans or a mix of both, with a few herbs and spices added in. The origin of falafel has been linked to Egypt, though today, it is quite a common street food across most Middle-East countries, and is very popular even in India. With time, several versions of the falafel have come up the world over, including a healthier, baked version. Mine, however, is a Classic Falafel Recipe, where the snack is made the traditional, deep-fried way.

Making basic falafel from scratch isn’t a difficult task. Once you have the chickpeas soaked and ready, preparing it is a breeze. All the ingredients that one needs for falafel are easy to find in an average Indian kitchen, too. Crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, they make for a delicious evening snack, especially on rainy, cold days. They are super versatile – lending themselves easily to make a more filling pita bread sandwich or wrap or burger, which would be just the right party snacks. They are deep-fried, yes, but full of protein, and better any day than snacking on junk food.

Enough said. Now, without any further delays, let us move on to the Classic Falafel Recipe!

Ingredients (makes 25-30 falafel):

  1. 1 cup chickpeas aka kabuli chana
  2. Salt to taste
  3. 2 tablespoons chopped mint leaves
  4. 2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves
  5. 5-6 cloves of garlic
  6. 1 medium-sized onion
  7. 1/4 teaspoon red chilli powder
  8. 1/2 teaspoon black pepper powder
  9. 1 teaspoon roasted cumin (jeera) powder
  10. 1 teaspoon coriander (dhania) powder
  11. A dash of lemon juice
  12. 1-2 tablespoons maida or gram flour/besan (optional)
  13. Oil for deep frying

Method:

1. Soak the chickpeas for 8-10 hours or overnight, in just enough water to cover them.

2. When the chickpeas are done soaking, drain out all the water from them. Transfer the drained chickpeas to a mixer jar.

3. Add the chopped mint and coriander to the mixer jar, along with salt to taste.

4. Peel the garlic cloves. Add them to the mixer jar.

5. Chop the onion roughly. Add to the mixer jar.

6. Add red chilli powder, black pepper powder, roasted cumin powder, coriander powder and lemon juice to the mixer jar too.

7. Gently mix up the contents of the mixer jar. Pulse a couple of times, a couple of seconds each time. Stop in between to mix up the ingredients. Remember not to make a fine paste – just a coarse mixture. There’s no need to add water while grinding, but do add a spoonful or two if you are finding it absolutely impossible to dry grind.

8. Meanwhile, take the oil for deep frying in a pan. Place on high heat. Allow the oil to get nice and hot.

9. Try to shape small balls out of the mixture you ground earlier. If you are able to form balls that hold their shape, you can drop them – 3-4 at a time – into the hot oil straight away. Then, turn the flame down to medium and deep fry the balls evenly, till they turn brown on the outside. Take care to ensure that they do not burn. However, if the balls crumble when you try to shape them, you might need to mix in some maida or besan. This will help the balls get a bit firmer, post which you can deep fry them in the hot oil.

10. Serve the falafel piping hot, with a dip, sauce or chutney of your choice.

Notes:

  1. Falafel can be made with either fava beans or kabuli chana, or a mix of both. The ancient, traditional versions of falafel were made using fava beans, however the more recent versions use kabuli chana. I have made these falafel using only chickpeas aka kabuli chana.
  2. Traditionally, parsley is used in falafel, for flavour. However, as parsley is not very commonly used in our house, I have used a mix of fresh mint leaves and coriander in the above recipe.
  3. I have served the above Easy Home-Made Falafel with a simple hung curd dip. Here’s how I made the dip – Grind together a handful of fresh mint leaves, 1 green chilly, salt to taste, 2 garlic cloves, a dash of lemon juice and some honey. Mix this into about 1/2 cup of hung curd (curd that has been hung for 2-3 hours to remove all the moisture from it). Mix in some finely chopped coriander, and the dip is ready to serve!
  4. Do not cook the chickpeas. They need to be used raw, in the above recipe, after soaking.
  5. Freshly soaked chickpeas work best in this recipe, rather than canned ones.
  6. Make sure you grind the falafel mixture coarsely. Do not make a fine paste. At the same time, you need to make sure that all the chickpeas have broken down completely – pick out any whole chickpeas that remain after grinding.
  7. Adding water while grinding the falafel mixture is purely optional. If you are able to make a coarse mixture without adding in any water, it’s completely fine. However, I typically add in a couple of spoonfuls of water while grinding – not only does it make the grinding easier, but also makes the falafel softer, I think.
  8. You can use either maida or besan (gram flour) to adjust the consistency of the falafel mixture, and enable you to shape the balls. If you are able to shape the balls as is, there is no need to add a binding agent like maida or besan.
  9. Make sure the oil is nice and hot, before dropping the falafel into it for deep-frying. Reduce the flame to medium while you fry them, which will help in even frying.
  10. The above is a Classic Falafel Recipe, meaning a recipe for the most basic version of deep-fried falafel. There are several variations to the classic falafel – baked versions, those with sesame or beetroot or herbs.
  11. This Easy Home-Made Falafel can be served on its own, with a sauce, dip or chutney of your choice. They can also be used in a sandwich, made using regular bread or pita bread. They can also be used in burgers or wraps, along with hummus, pickled vegetables, sour cream, chopped onions and tomatoes.
  12. The falafel mixture can be prepared in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to a day, to be deep-fried and served later. I prefer grinding the mixture fresh, though, just before frying up and serving the falafel.
  13. Some people include a bit of baking powder/soda in the mixture, to make the falafel soft. I typically don’t use any. Even without the baking powder/soda, the above recipe does yield soft and delicious falafel.

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Foodie Monday Blog Hop

This post is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. The theme for this week is Levantine Cuisine, wherein members need to present dishes from the Levant region (Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, Jordon and Cyprus). This week’s theme was suggested by the very talented Sujata Shukla who blogs at PepperOnPizza – you have to check out her blog for various exotic and traditional recipes!

I’m also sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #261. The co-hosts this week are Antonia @ Zoale.com and Julianna @ Foodie on Board.

Chak Hao Amubi| Manipuri Black Rice Pudding (Kheer)

The recipe I am going to share with you today comes from Manipur, an Indian region I have always been fascinated by. Apart from its beautiful valleys and lush forests, sprawling grasslands and caves, the state has a rich cultural heritage too. Manipur is also home to black rice, Chak Hao in the local language, an interesting ingredient I have just begun experimenting with. I chose to use it to prepare Chak Hao Amubi, or a Manipuri Black Rice Pudding (Kheer), and was absolutely thrilled with the way it turned out.

The cuisine of Manipur is very simple, the dishes making use of minimal ingredients. The cuisine is largely non-vegetarian, with quite a few vegetarian dishes on offer too. A variety of local vegetables and greens are used in Manipuri cooking, mostly grown organically. The food is spiced up with local chillies, flavoured with any of the several aromatic herbs that grow in abundance here. The traditional Chak Hao Amubi is reflective of the state’s culinary philosophies too – it is made with minimal ingredients, allowing the nutty flavour of the black rice to shine through. I have made the kheer with a few little variations of my own, though, to suit my family’s taste buds.

Like I was saying earlier, the Black Rice Pudding turned out absolutely brilliant. The black rice, with its unique flavour profile, worked beautifully with the milk and sugar in the pudding. A much healthier alternative to the regular white rice, it lent the pudding a pretty, pretty purple hue too. In terms of both looks and taste, this Black Rice Kheer was a huge hit with everyone at home!

Here’s how I made the Chak Hao Amubi or Black Rice Pudding.

Ingredients (serves 4-5):

  1. 1/4 cup black rice
  2. 1 litre full-fat milk (+ a little extra if needed)
  3. 1/2 cup sugar or as per taste
  4. 2-3 pinches cardamom powder (optional)
  5. About 1 tablespoon ghee (optional)
  6. 5-6 cashewnuts (optional)
  7. 5-6 almonds (optional)
  8. Dried rose petals as needed for garnishing (optional)

Method:

1. Wash the black rice once in running water. Drain out the excess water. Add in just enough fresh water to cover it, and let it soak for 8-10 hours or overnight.

2. Once the black rice is done soaking, drain out the excess water from it. Keep ready.

3. Take 1 litre of full-fat milk in a heavy-bottomed pan, and place on high heat. Let the milk come to a boil.

4. Lower the flame to low-medium. Add the soaked and drained black rice to the milk in the pan. Mix well.

5. Cook on low-medium heat till the rice is cooked through, 25-30 minutes. You will need to stir intermittently, to prevent sticking to the bottom of the pan, and scrape down the cream that forms on the sides of the pan.

6. Now, add sugar to the pan. Mix well. Simmer the Black Rice Pudding for a couple of minutes more. Switch off gas.

7. Mix in the cardamom powder to the pudding, after the flame has been switched off.

8. Chop the cashewnuts and almonds into slivers. Heat the ghee in another pan. Reduce flame and add the cashewnut and almond slivers. Allow them to brown slightly, ensuring that they do not burn. Switch off the gas, and add the ghee, cashewnuts and almonds to the Black Rice Pudding. Mix well.

9. Serve the Black Rice Kheer hot, at room temperature or chilled, garnished with dried rose petals.

Notes:

1. Black rice is quite tough, and typically needs a soaking time of 8-10 hours. However, there are some versions that need to soak for just 2-3 hours or so. Ensure that you read the package instructions carefully, to check on the exact cooking proceedure for the black rice you are using. The one I got, from our recent travel to Thailand, needed to soak overnight.

2. Use good-quality full-fat milk, for best results. Here, I have used Nandini Full-Cream milk.

3. Adjust the quantity of sugar you use, depending upon personal taste preferences.

4. To check doneness of the rice, try tasting a couple of the grains – they will still be a bit hard on the outside, but will be soft and cooked on the inside. Like I said earlier, it takes around 25-30 minutes for the black rice to cook in the milk.

5. If you feel the kheer is getting too thick but the rice is not yet cooked, you can add in some more boiled milk. In this case, you will need to re-adjust the quantity of sugar you need.

6. The original Chak Hao Amubi or Black Rice Kheer in Manipur is a very simple affair, made with just milk, black rice and sugar (often, with jaggery or honey as the sweetener). Occasionally, a couple of pinches of cardamom powder are used to liven it up. Using the cardamom is purely optional – I would suggest using it, though, for it adds a lovely touch to the kheer.

7. I have used ghee-roasted cashewnuts and almonds in the Chak Hao Amubi, as well as dried rose petals, to make it more inviting. Using these ingredients is purely optional.

8. I have used only 1/4 cup of rice here, as I wanted the kheer to be runny. You can adjust the quantity of black rice and milk (and sugar, of course), depending upon how thick you want the kheer to be.

9. Check out this old post of mine for another lovely recipe using black rice, and some interesting facts about this very healthy ingredient.

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This recipe is for the Shhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge that I am part of. Every month, the participants of the group cook dishes from a particular part of India, using two secret ingredients assigned to them. This month, all of us over are cooking dishes from the Indian state of Manipur.

I was paired with Bhawana of Code2Cook for this month, who assigned to me the two secret ingredients of black rice and sugar. I decided to make Manipur’s Chak Hao Amubi using these two ingredients. Check out the amazing Vegan Sana Thongba or Vegan Manipuri Paneer Curry that Bhawana made using the two ingredients I gave her – cumin and milk!

I’m also sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #261. The co-hosts this week are Antonia @ Zoale.com and Julianna @ Foodie on Board.

Pori Upma| Puffed Rice Upma

Puffed rice, also called Pori or Murmura, is quite a healthy snack in itself. A cup of puffed rice contains very few calories, but has the potential to fill you up. Considering this, puffed rice is great for inclusion in a diet program, even though it doesn’t provide one with a significant amount of vitamins or other nutrients. Today, I present to you the recipe for Pori Upma, a healthy and delicious snack made using puffed rice.

Pori Upma or Puffed Rice Upma is good for a quick breakfast, or for those in-between-meals hunger pangs. There are several different ways to prepare this upma – different families make it with variations of their own. The recipe I present here is the way we typically prepare it in our family.

Here you go!

Ingredients (serves 2):

  1. 3 heaped cups raw puffed rice (pori or murmura)
  2. 1 medium-sized onion
  3. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  4. 1 sprig of curry leaves
  5. 3-4 green chillies
  6. 1/2 tablespoon oil
  7. 1 tablespoon raw peanuts
  8. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  9. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  10. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  11. Salt to taste
  12. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  13. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander leaves
  14. Juice of 1/2 lemon or to taste
  15. 1 tablespoon fresh grated coconut

Method:

1. Firstly, we will prep the vegetables we need to make the Pori Upma. Peel the onion and chop it finely. Remove the stems from the green chillies and slit them length-wise. Peel the ginger and chop it very finely. Keep the prepped veggies aside.

2. Dry roast the raw peanuts in a pan, on medium flame, till they get crisp. Ensure that they do not burn. Transfer to a plate and allow to cool down completely.

3. Heat oil in the same pan. Add in the mustard, and allow it to sputter. Now, add in the curry leaves, cumin seeds, the dry-roasted peanuts, and asafoetida. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds.

3. Add the chopped onion and ginger to the pan, along with the slit green chillies. Saute on medium flame till the onion begins to turn brownish.

4. Meanwhile, place the puffed rice in a colander and run some cold water thoroughly over it, for just a couple of seconds. Make sure all the puffed rice gets wet. Drain out the excess water, and add the soaked puffed rice to the pan as soon as the onion gets brown.

5. Keeping the flame on medium high, add salt and turmeric powder to the pan. Mix well. Cook on medium flame for about a minute. Switch off gas.

6. Mix in finely chopped coriander, fresh grated coconut and lemon juice to the Pori Upma. Serve hot.

Notes:

1. There is no need to roast the puffed rice before using it in making this upma. You can use it raw.

2. Dry roasting the peanuts before using them in the upma keeps them crisp and tasty. You may skip the dry roasting part if you want to.

3. Be careful while adding the salt, as the Puffed Rice Upma does not withstand salt too well.

4. Make sure you don’t let the soaked puffed rice sit around for too long. Add it to the pan as soon as the onions brown, which is what will give you the perfect, non-mushy, delicious Pori Upma.

5. Normally, I don’t add red chilli powder to the Pori Upma, using only green chillies to spice it up. You can add a dash of red chilli powder if you want to, or up the number of green chillies you use.

6. I have used peanuts and fresh grated coconut to liven up this dish. Both of these ingredients are believed to be high in fat content, but I have used them in very little quantities. I believe in eating everything in moderation, fats included. If you want to, you can skip these two ingredients.

7. Finely chopped cucumber, pomegranate arils, chopped tomatoes, grated carrot and a dash of sugar are some other things you can add to this Pori Upma, to make it more delicious.

8. Do not overcook this Puffed Rice Upma, for best results. Also, it tastes best when served hot.

9. If you want the Pori Upma crunchy, you can add in the puffed rice as is, without washing it. I like it both ways.

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Foodie Monday Blog Hop
This recipe is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. The theme for this week is #LowCalorieFood, suggested by Sujata Roy of Batter Up With Sujata.

I’m sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #260. The co-hosts this week are Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau and Diann @ Of Goats and Greens.

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

Cheeselings Bhel| Cheeselings Chaat

We, as a family, don’t buy biscuits all that often. Occasionally, though, when we feel like indulging, we pick up a packet of biscuits while grocery shopping, to nibble through a couple at a time. Parle Monaco Cheeselings are one of our favourites – those tiny puffed-up biscuits with a cheesy flavour to them. While we are at it, Cheeselings Chaat or Cheeselings Bhel is one of our favourite things to make with these little biscuits.

Using Cheeselings in bhel gives it a unique twist, and makes it taste absolutely fabulous. Do try out this crispy, crunchy, delicious Cheeselings Bhel, and I’m sure you will fall in love with it, too.

Let us now check out the recipe for Cheeselings Chaat aka Cheeselings Bhel.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  1. 3 big fistfuls of Parle Monaco Cheeselings
  2. 2 big fistfuls of roasted puffed rice or murmura
  3. 1 big handful of fine sev aka omapudi
  4. 2 tablespoons roasted or masala peanuts
  5. 1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped
  6. 1 small carrot, peeled and finely grated
  7. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander
  8. 2 pinches of roasted cumin (jeera) powder
  9. 2 pinches of black salt
  10. 2-3 tablespoons of spicy green chutney or as needed
  11. 3-4 tablespoons of sweet and sour tamarind chutney or as needed

Method:

1. Take all the above ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

2. Mix well.

3. Serve immediately.

Notes:

  1. You may use any other ingredients of your choice in the bhel too, such as pomegranate arils, boiled and cubed potatoes, papdi, finely chopped cucumber and the likes. I have kept Monaco Cheeselings as the star ingredient here, and have limited the number of other ingredients so that their flavour comes through beautifully.
  2. Click here to find the recipe I use to make the spicy green chutney.
  3. Click here to find the recipe I use to make the sweet and sour tamarind chutney.
  4. I have used puffed rice that has been roasted lightly, with a little salt and turmeric powder. You may use plain puffed rice instead, too.
  5. To make roasted cumin powder, dry roast some cumin in a pan till it emits a lovely fragrance. Ensure that the cumin does not burn. When it cools down fully, grind to a fine powder in a mixer, and store in a clean, dry, air-tight jar. Use this roasted cumin powder as required.
  6. Adjust the quantities of all the above ingredients as per personal taste preferences.
  7. I have used store-bought fine sev here (Garden Nylon Sev). You can make your own at home, too. Using fine sev gives the best results here, as opposed to thicker varieties.
  8. I always make bhel as per rough measurements, by the fistfuls. I don’t have exact cup measurements for certain ingredients here, but I think you will get the gist – use Cheeselings in the highest quantity, followed by roasted murmura, followed by sev.

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This post is for the Healthy Wellthy Cuisines group that I am part of. The members of this group cook for a particular theme every fortnight. This fortnight, all of us are cooking different types of dishes using biscuits.

Check out the interesting recipes using biscuits that the other group members have come up with:

No-Bake Swiss Roll by Jayashree| Oreo Energy Bites by Sasmita| Pizza Crackers by Swaty| Chocolate Nutella Tart by Vanitha| Chocolate Biscuit Cake by Poonam| No-Oven Biscuit Cake by Geetanjali| Marie Biscuit Cake by Rosy| Carrot Paneer Mousse by Veena| Biscuit Bhelpuri by Shalu| Easy Fruit Trifle by Mayuri

I’m sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #260. The co-hosts this week are Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau and Diann @ Of Goats and Greens.

Strawberry & Grape Salad

Strawberries are in season right now. They are all over Bangalore at the moment, packed in big and little boxes. More often than not, you get the small strawberries here, which tend to be slightly sour and not all that juicy. Once in a while, though, you come across big, fat strawberries from Mahabaleshwar, which are supremely juicy and sweet, with no sourness to them. And when you come across the latter, you grab them by the cartload (OK, I am exaggerating! You buy them by the boxfuls!). This Strawberry & Grape Salad was an attempt at using up some of those lovely fruits – after all, just how many of them can you eat by themselves? – before they faded away into oblivion.

Now, this Strawberry & Grape Salad isn’t the healthiest of salads ever, I’ll tell you that. It has store-bought preserved red paprika and cheese in there, albeit in very little quantities. This surely is a delicious salad, though, I’ll tell you that too, the ingredients blending together to create layers of flavours and textures. I used the ingredients I had on hand at the moment, to make this salad, but you have the option of substituting them with healthier alternatives.

Let’s now see how I made the Strawberry & Grape Salad, shall we?

Ingredients (serves 1-2):

  1. 4-5 big strawberries
  2. A handful of grapes
  3. 1 cube of cheese
  4. 5-6 almonds
  5. Salt to taste
  6. Slices of red paprika in vinegar, as needed + 1 teaspoon of the vinegar
  7. A drizzle of honey
  8. A few fresh leaves of basil

Method:

  1. Remove the tops from the strawberries, and chop them into bite-sized pieces. Place them in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add the grapes to the mixing bowl.
  3. Chop the cube of cheese into bite-sized pieces, and add to the mixing bowl.
  4. Sliver the almonds and add them to the mixing bowl too.
  5. Add in salt to taste, the red paprika slices, honey and vinegar from the red paprika as needed.
  6. Roughly tear the basil leaves and add to the bowl.
  7. Mix everything together well. Serve immediately.

Notes:

  1. Use big, ripe, sweet and juicy strawberries, for best results.
  2. Use only seedless grapes to make this salad. I have used purple grapes here, but you can use any variety that you prefer.
  3. I have used a cube of Amul processed cheese to add flavour to the salad. You can substitute this with any other type of organic/hand-made/zero-chemical cheese to make the salad healthier.
  4. To add a hint of spiciness to the salad, I have used store-bought red paprika, preserved in vinegar. You can use very finely chopped green chillies, in place of the paprika, too.
  5. Lemon juice can be used in place of the vinegar I have used in this salad.
  6. You can add in any other fruits of your choice to the salad too.

Did you like the recipe for this Strawberry & Grape Salad? Do tell me, in your comments!

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I’m sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #260. The co-hosts this week are Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau and Diann @ Of Goats and Greens.