Baked Handvo| Gujarati Savoury Cake With Rice & Lentils

Handvo, a traditional Gujarati dish, is a big family favourite. My grandmother used to make finger-licking delicious Handvo, a recipe she learnt from her Gujarati neighbours. This recipe then passed on to my mom and, from her, to me. In course of time, the husband was introduced to the wonders of Handvo too, and he took to it like a fish to water. 🙂 I continue to make it the same way I learnt all those years ago, and do so at least once every fortnight. Today, I’m going to share with you all the very same family recipe, with very few variations of my own.

What is Handvo?

Handvo – never ‘Handva‘ – is a savoury cake made using a fermented batter of rice and mixed lentils. Often, vegetables like bottle gourd, carrot and corn are added in, as well as greens like spinach and fenugreek leaves. Considering this, and the fact that very little oil is typically used in the preparation of Handvo, it is a very healthy, protein-rich dish. Green chillies, garlic, ginger, carom seeds, jaggery and sesame are used to flavour the cake.

For the uninitiated, the Handvo is a delicious, delicious thing, one you’ll surely get hooked to once you taste it! It is not too tough to put together, and makes for a great, filling breakfast or dinner, or even a tea-time snack. It can be had warm or cold.

How is Handvo cooked?

Handvo is traditionally cooked in a special type of cooker, the bottom of which is filled with sand. The batter goes into a separate compartment, and the entire contraption is placed on the gas. The Handvo cooks on a low flame for 40-60 minutes, the interior getting nice and crumbly, the top crusty. With time, people started to use ovens to bake the Handvo. Mom uses a shortcut to make it, pouring a couple of ladles of the batter into a heavy-bottomed pan and then cooking it covered on low heat.

I don’t own a traditional Handvo cooker, so I usually pop the batter into my OTG or, sometimes, adopt mom’s shortcut. The OTG also yields a delectable savoury cake, with the same type of crusty top that is achieved in the Handvo cooker. And, oh, the house smells heavenly while it’s baking!

Our family recipe for Handvo

Different families use different permutations and combinations of ingredients for making Handvo. However, please do note that the bottle gourd is a key ingredient, which gives a soft texture and lovely flavour to the Handvo.

This here is the version of Handvo I have stuck to, the recipe I am most comfortable with after several trials and tribulations. This is a completely vegetarian recipe. I have used curd here, due to which it is not vegan. To make the Handvo gluten-free, skip the asafoetida used in it. Most commercial brands of asafoetida available in India include wheat flour to a greater or lesser extent and are, hence, best avoided when one is following a gluten-free diet. However, if you are able to find 100% gluten-free asafoetida, please do go ahead and use it.

Ingredients (makes 2 batches, each one serving 3):

  1. 1 cup idli rice
  2. 1/4 cup urad dal
  3. 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek (methi) seeds
  4. 1/2 cup toor dal
  5. 1/2 cup chana dal
  6. 1/4 cup moong dal
  7. 1/2 cup curd
  8. 5-6 cloves of garlic
  9. 3 green chillies or as per taste
  10. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  11. Salt to taste
  12. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  13. 2 tablespoons of jaggery powder or as per taste
  14. 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder or to taste
  15. 1/4 teaspoon asafoetida powder
  16. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander
  17. 2 sprigs of curry leaves
  18. 1 small carrot
  19. A small piece of bottle gourd, about 2 heaped tablespoons when grated
  20. A fistful of green peas
  21. A fistful of sweet corn kernels
  22. 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  23. 1 teaspoon ajwain (carom seeds)
  24. Oil, as needed to grease the baking tin
  25. 1/2 tablespoon oil
  26. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds

For the finishing touches:

1. 1/2 tablespoon sesame seeds per batch

2. 1 teaspoon of Eno Fruit Salt (plain) per batch

Method:

1. Measure out the idli rice, urad dal, fenugreek seeds, toor dal, chana dal and moong dal into a vessel. Wash everything well under running water. Drain out all the water, then add in enough fresh water to cover all these ingredients fully. Let them soak for 5-6 hours or overnight. When they are done soaking, drain out all the water from them.

2. Take half of the soaked ingredients in a mixer jar. Peel the ginger and garlic, chop roughly and add to the mixer jar. Chop the green chillies roughly too and add to the mixer jar. Grind together coarsely, adding a little water if needed. Stop at intervals to scrape down the sides of the mixer jar. When the batter is coarsely ground, transfer to a large, clean vessel.

3. Now, grind the rest of the soaked and drained ingredients, along with the curd. Grind them coarsely, stopping at intervals to scrape down the sides of the mixer jar. When done, transfer this batter to the large vessel too.

4. Add salt to taste to the batter. Mix well, using your hands. Set the batter aside, covered, for 5-6 hours or till it ferments.

Top left and right: Steps 1 and 2, Left bottom and above: Step 3, Right bottom: Step 4

5. Once the batter ferments, mix it gently.

6. To the batter, add the turmeric powder, red chilli powder, asafoetida, jaggery powder, carom seeds and sesame seeds.

7. Chop the coriander and curry leaves roughly. Add to the batter.

8. Peel the carrot and bottle gourd. Grate medium-thick. Add to the batter.

9. Add the sweet corn kernels and green peas to the batter too. Mix everything up gently.

10. Now, heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in a tempering pan. Add in the mustard, and allow them to sputter. Transfer this hot oil to the batter. Mix well, gently. The batter is now ready to make Handvo.

Top left: The fermented batter, all the other pics show the veggies, the tempering and other ingredients being added to the fermented batter

11. Divide the batter into two equal parts. One part can be used to make Handvo immediately, while the rest can be refrigerated to use the next day. Start by preheating the oven at 200 degrees for 10 minutes.

12. Now, grease a large baking tin with a little oil. Keep it ready.

13. Just before the preheated oven is ready, add 1 teaspoon of Eno Fruit Salt to the batter you are using, and mix well. The batter will start bubbling. Pour this batter immediately into the greased baking tin, and sprinkle 1/2 tablespoon of sesame seeds all over the top. Place the in the oven immediately.

14. Bake at about 160 degrees for 35-40 minutes or till a knife inserted into the centre of the tin comes out clean. Now, place the tin back in the oven and broil for about 5 minutes. Allow the baked Handvo to cool down a bit, 5-7 minutes, then cut into pieces and serve. The second batch of batter can also be baked the same way.

Top: The batter before going into the oven, Bottom: The baked Handvo, just out of the oven

Tips & Tricks

1. Do not be intimidated by the long list of ingredients or the proceedure. It is a rather simple recipe, and seems long because I have outlined everything in great detail.

2. You can use any kind of rice to make the Handvo. I prefer using idli rice. Sona Masoori, Ponni or Kollam rice, Basmati and par-boiled rice all work equally well.

3. You may skip the ginger and garlic in the batter, if you do not prefer them.

4. Adjust the quantity of green chillies and jaggery powder as per personal taste preferences.

5. Use fresh, thick curd for best results.

6. Make sure you grind the batter coarsely and not too fine. Grind the batter in intervals, as stated above, to stop overheating of the mixer.

7. I prefer using carrots, sweet corn, bottle gourd and green peas in the Handvo. You can use any vegetables of your preference, but the bottle gourd is a must. The bottle gourd is believed to soften the Handvo and make it flavourful.

8. Use plain Eno Fruit Salt (not flavoured). It needs to be added just before putting the Handvo to bake.

9. The baking time and temperature suggested above works best for me. Please adjust as per the make of your oven and consistency of your batter. I use a Morphy Richards OTG.

10. After 30 minutes of baking, keep a close eye on the oven to prevent burning.

11. The second batch of batter might become a bit thick due to the refrigeration. Loosen it up with a little water, and allow it to come to room temperature before setting it to bake. Don’t forget to add Eno Fruit Salt to the second batch too and top it with sesame seeds, just before you start baking.

12. The 1 teaspoon of Eno Fruit Salt per batch can be substituted with 1/4 teaspoon of cooking soda, though I haven’t ever done that.

13. A Gujarati friend of mine suggested heating up a little oil, then mixing about 1/2 teaspoon of red chilli powder to it and pouring the hot oil over the top of the batter, just before setting it to bake. This gives the Handvo a beautiful colour and flavour, but I typically avoid this step.

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

Elumichhai Sevai| Rice Vermicelli Made With Lemon

Elumicchai Sevai or rice vermicelli made with lemon is a popular breakfast option in Tamilian households. No surprises there, considering how quick and easy it is to prepare, and how delicious it tastes! Today, I’m going to share with you all the recipe for Elumicchai Sevai, the way it is made in our family.

Elumicchai Sevai or rice vermicelli made using lemon

A bit about Sevai or rice vermicelli

If you are still wondering what sevai is, it is a type of vermicelli made using rice. In the olden days, raw rice would be soaked, then ground, and passed through a vermicelli press to make fresh sevai – not unlike freshly made Italian pasta or Chinese noodles. These fresh sevai are then cooked in a variety of ways – with lemon, tamarind, coconut, sugar, etc.

Sevai is similar to Idiyappam, yet there are a few differences between the two. Sevai originated in Tamilnadu, while the Idiyappam hails from Kerala. Both are ancient foods from South India, but while Sevai is made using rice, Idiyappam is made using rice flour. Idiyappam used to be made fresh too, in Kerala households, often served with coconut milk and sugar. And then, there’s Semiya, which is another type of vermicelli, but very different as it is made using refined wheat flour (maida). Semiya too used to be made fresh, in ancient India – with wheat I understand.

In today’s times, we get ready-to-use, dry versions of sevai, idiyappam and semiya. In fact, it is these dry versions that are hugely popular, while the fresh versions have almost become ‘lost recipes of India’. There are very few families that make these from scratch any more, including mine. So, when I talk about sevai being a quick dish, I’m referring to the ready-to-use rice vermicelli available today. There are many different brands available – MTR, Dragon, Anil, 777, Concord and Manna being some of them. These instant versions need to be soaked in hot water or cooked in boiling water – like pasta – to ‘refresh’ them.

It wouldn’t be wrong to say that sevai, idiyappam and semiya are all Indian versions of Italian pasta or Chinese noodles.

How to make Elumicchai Sevai

Elumicchai Sevai refers to rice vermicelli cooked using lemon, like I was saying earlier. They taste tangy, with mild heat from green chillies, absolutely awesome. We make it using dry, ready-to-use sevai, and it is a big favourite with everyone at home.

Without further ado, let us check out how to make Elumicchai Sevai, my family’s way.

Ingredients (serves 2-3):

  1. 1-1/2 cups sevai aka rice vermicelli
  2. 1 tablespoon peanuts
  3. 1/2 tablespoon oil
  4. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  5. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  6. 2 sprigs of curry leaves
  7. 4-5 green chillies
  8. Salt to taste
  9. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  10. Juice of 1 lemon or to taste
  11. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander

Method:

1. Cook the rice vermicelli as per package instructions. Drain out all the water. Allow to cool down completely.

2. Dry roast the peanuts on medium flame till crisp. Ensure that they do not burn. Transfer to a plate and allow to cool down fully.

3. Slit the green chillies length-wise. Keep ready.

4. Heat the oil in a pan. Add in the mustard, and allow to sputter.

5. Turn the flame down to medium, and add in the asafoetida, curry leaves, roasted peanuts and slit green chillies. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds.

6. Still keeping the flame medium, add in the drained rice vermicelli. Also, add in salt to taste and turmeric powder. Mix well. Cook on medium flame for about 2 minutes or till everything is well integrated together, stirring intermittently. Switch off gas.

7. Add in the lemon juice and finely chopped coriander. Mix well. Your Elumicchai Sevai is ready. Serve it hot.

Is this Elumicchai Sevai vegan and gluten-free?

This is a completely vegetarian and vegan preparation, suited to those following a plant-based diet. If you skip the asafoetida used in the tempering, this can easily be made gluten-free too. Most commercial brands of asafoetida available in India include wheat flour to a lesser or greater extent and are, therefore, 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.

#LemonLove at Foodie Monday Blog Hop

This recipe is brought to you in association with the Foodie Monday Blog Hop, a group of very talented food bloggers that I am part of. Every Monday, the members of the group share recipes based on a pre-determined theme. The brilliant photographer and recipe developer Waagmi of Cooking Is Funn suggested the theme for the week – #LemonLove, or recipes made using lemon. Well, thrilling for me considering that I adore lemon and have several lemon-based recipes on my blog already. I chose to showcase our family favourite, Elumicchai Sevai, for the theme.

Some other interesting lemon recipes

You must check out these lovely lemon-based recipes from my blog, as well as those of my friends.

– Waagmi’s gorgeous Eggless Lemon Cake

Lemon Rasam, another of our family recipes

Bruschetta With Lemon Marmalade & Stir-Fried Veggies from my blog, a delicious fusion

Home-Made Lemon Coriander Soup

Pahadi Nimbu Ka Achaar

Colour-Changing Butterfly Pea Lemonade

Lemon Thokku or Instant Lemon Chutney

Home-Made Lemon Squash

Gondhoraj Lebu Pulav

– Poonam’s Lemon Semolina Cake

– Archana’s Spaghetti With Green Olives & Lemon

– Mayuri’s Lemon & Lavender Scones

Tips & Tricks

1. I have used MTR rice vermicelli or sevai here. You can use any other brand you prefer. Dragon and Anil are two other brands of rice vermicelli I have tried and loved.

2. MTR rice vermicelli is thicker than that of several other brands, and has to be cooked in boiling water, in an open pan, for 6-7 minutes. Other brands require the vermicelli to just be soaked in hot water for 3-4 minutes, covered, and they are ready. Please read the instructions on the package carefully before use. Cook the vermicelli as per package instructions.

3. Allow the cooked rice vermicelli to cool down completely before using it in the dish.

4. Adjust the quantity of green chillies, depending upon personal taste preferences. I have slit them length-wise here, but you can even chop them finely if you so prefer. We prefer this Elumicchai Sevai to be quite mild, and not very spicy.

5. Adjust the quantity of lemon juice as per personal taste preferences.

6. I first dry roast the peanuts separately and then add them to the hot oil later. I find they stay much more crisp that way.

7. Some fresh grated coconut can also be added to the Elumicchai Sevai before serving.

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

Gondhoraj Lebu Pulav| Fragrant Lemon-Scented Rice

Here’s presenting to you the recipe for Gondhoraj Lebu Pulav, a delightful rice dish that is fragrant with lemon zest and juice. You have to try this out to believe how divine it tastes!

Smells and tastes absolutely gorgeous!

What is Gondhoraj Lebu?

I was introduced to the majestic Gondhoraj Lebu on our trip to Calcutta, a few years ago. For the uninitiated, the name literally translates to ‘King of Scented Lemons’. This is no ordinary lemon, mind you, but an extraordinarily fragrant one, its almost oval shape its distinguishing feature. No wonder it is also referred to as ‘King Lemon’!

The Gondhoraj Lebu is the pride of West Bengal, where the lemon is typically grown. A slice of the lemon transforms a simple dal into something majestic. The skin of this lemon is particularly fragrant, and it works wonders when zested and added to lassi, desserts and the likes.

The beauty of a Gondhoraj Lebu from our neighbour’s balcony garden

In Calcutta, we encountered the Gondhoraj Lebu in many foods. It made an appearance in roadside puchkas, making them smell heavenly. I still remember the gorgeous Gondhoraj Ghol or Gondhoraj lemon-scented lassi we had the pleasure of having at Koshe Kosha in Calcutta. For a lemon lover like me, it didn’t take much to fall in this love with this perfumed fruit. I brought some back home with me, and they filled every corner with the scent of Calcutta for days afterward…

Sadly, these special lemons aren’t available very easily here in Bangalore, though I believe there are a couple of online sellers. I didn’t try them out. It was years after our Calcutta visit, some time in January this year, when a Bengali neighbour and dear friend of ours presented us with a Gondhoraj Lebu grown organically in his little balcony garden. It was the size of my palm! I couldn’t stop gushing, and kept mulling over what to use it in for a couple of days. Then, Basant Panchami arrived, the onset of spring, an auspicious occasion for Bengalis, a day when yellow-coloured food is commonly consumed. Everything fell into place then, and I decided to use the lemon to prepare a yellow Gondhoraj Lebu Pulav.

About this Gondhoraj Lebu Pulav

I made the Gondhoraj Lebu Pulav inspired by this recipe from Maumita’s blog Experiences Of A Gastronomad. Maumita’s is a lovely, lovely blog, full of beautifully recounted anecdotes from her life, including several heritage Bengali recipes from her grandmother. I tweaked her recipe to suit my family’s preferences and it turned out simply gorgeous, much loved by everyone in the family. The Gondhoraj zest and juice used in the pulav give it a mesmerising fragrance. The sweetish, slightly sour and mildly spicy flavours of the pulav are unique. I hope I have done justice to Maumita’s nostalgic recipe!

This is a completely vegetarian recipe, which is gluten-free too. I have used ghee here, due to which this recipe isn’t vegan. For a vegan version, you may substitute the ghee with oil or any other vegan fat, though I would strongly recommend using ghee.

Now, without further ado, let’s get to the recipe for this beauty!

How to make Gondhoraj Lebu Pulav

Ingredients (serves 4-5):

To pressure cook:

  1. 1-1/2 cups rice
  2. 3-3/4 cups water
  3. Salt to taste
  4. 3 green chillies, slit lengthwise

Other ingredients:

  1. 1 big Gondhoraj Lebu
  2. 1-1/2 tablespoons water
  3. A pinch of saffron strands
  4. 1 tablespoon ghee
  5. 10 whole cashewnuts
  6. 2 small bay leaves
  7. A 1-inch piece of cinnamon
  8. 4 cloves
  9. 4 green cardamom pods
  10. 2 tablespoons sugar
  11. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander

Method:

Top left and right: Steps 2 and 3, Bottom left and right: Steps 3 and 4

1. Wash the rice well under running water. Drain out all the water. Now, pressure cook the washed and drained rice with 3-3/4 cups of water, salt to taste and the slit green chillies. Allow 3 whistles on high flame. Allow the pressure release naturally.

2. Meanwhile, heat the 1-1/2 tablespoons of water. Switch off gas and add the saffron strands. Let it sit for about 10 minutes, by which time the saffron would have released its beautiful orange-red colour into the water. Keep this aside.

3. Zest the Gondhoraj Lebu and then juice about half of it. We will need about 2 teaspoons of lemon zest and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Keep this ready.

4. When the pressure from the cooker goes down fully, allow the rice to cool down completely. Now, fluff up the rice gently.

Top left and right: Steps 5 and 6, Bottom left and right: Step 6, continued

5. Heat 1 tablespoon ghee in a heavy-bottomed pan. Turn the flame to medium. Add in the cashewnuts, bay leaves, cinnamon, cloves and green cardamom. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds or till the cashewnuts brown nicely.

6. Now, add in the fluffed up rice, along with the sugar and Gondhoraj Lebu zest. Add in the saffron water too, along with the strands. Mix well. Taste and adjust salt if needed. Cook on medium flame for a minute, stirring intermittently, then switch off gas.

Top and bottom: Step 6

6. Mix in the Gondhoraj Lebu juice and finely chopped coriander. Your Gondhoraj Lebu Pulav is ready. Serve hot or warm.

Tips & Tricks

1. The original recipe uses fragrant Gobindobhog recipe, which is commonly used in several Bengali dishes. I used Sona Masoori rice instead, because I wanted the fragrance of only the lemon to rule the dish. Not that I had any Gobindobhog rice either. I’m guessing Basmati rice would work too.

2. I have used zest and juice of the ultra-fragrant Gondhoraj Lebu here. You can use the juice and zest from a regular lemon too. While it might not be as fragrant as Gondhoraj, it will still smell awesome and taste delicious.

3. Adjust the quantity of green chillies, lemon juice and sugar, as per personal taste preferences.

4. I have added a lot more lemon zest than the original recipe suggests. While the hubby and I loved the fragrance, my mom found it a bit overpowering. Please do go easy on the lemon zest, if you so prefer.

5. Don’t overcook the rice. Cook it till done, but don’t make it overly mushy. The above rice:water ratio worked perfectly for us. Adjust the quantity of water you use as per personal preferences.

6. The original recipe uses a mix of water and curd to cook the rice. I haven’t used any curd here.

7. Mix the rice well but gently, so that the grains don’t break.

8. You can use a pinch of turmeric to colour the rice, instead of saffron.

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

Ram Laddoo| Lentil Fritters Chaat

Have you ever tasted Ram Laddoo? If you have, I’m sure you have been blown away by its myriad flavours. If you haven’t yet, you must, at the earliest!

What on earth is Ram Laddoo?

For the uninitiated, I’ll start by saying this isn’t your regular laddoo. This is no sweetmeat. Ram Laddoo, popular street food in Delhi, is in fact a chaat made using deep-fried lentil fritters. The crisp fritters are served with a unique garnish of grated radish, along with the usual sweet and spicy chutneys and finely chopped onion that are the mainstay of chaats.

Ram Laddoo is loaded with flavour, which will definitely take anyone’s tastebuds on a joyride. I read about them a few years ago, while researching about food, and then had the pleasure of experiencing it in person in Delhi. As expected, the robust flavours had me asking for more! Since then, this has been a regular at our house.

#ItsChaatTime at 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 Monday is #ItsChaatTime, wherein group members are showcasing different chaat varieties on their blogs.

The term ‘chaat‘ is loosely used to mean a snack, typically sold on the streets, which is a delicious medley of sweet and spicy and sour and salty. There are hundreds of varieties of chaat popular across India, including but not limited to Bhel Poori, Sev Poori, Dabeli, Dahi Poori, Churmuri, Masala Poori, Tomato Slice, Pineapple Masala and Ragda Pattice. Chaat is more than just a snack in India; it is a way of life – heading out for a plate of chaat is a ritual, and conversations over chaat are commonplace. The husband and I are big fans of chaat too, as are thousands of other Indians. I have often waxed eloquent on the blog about my love of chaat, and was secretly thrilled when Swaty of Food Trails decided upon the current theme for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. 🙂

I have already shared a number of chaat varieties on the blog and, for this theme, decided on our favourite Ram Laddoo recipe.Swaty has a wonderful blog, with some really interesting recipes from the world over and brilliant pictures. I love her recipes for unique chaat dishes like Aloo Chane Chaat, Papadi Katoris and Vrat Ki Papdi Chaat!

How to make Ram Laddoo

Ram Laddoo is typically made using moong dal, with other lentils like chana dal sometimes being added in. This chaat recipe is completely vegetarian and vegan, suited to those following a plant-based diet. It is entirely gluten-free as well.

With lockdowns in place across India, thanks to the Corona virus pandemic, going out to enjoy chaat has become a distant dream. However, it is very much possible to whip up a plateful of delicious chaat at home, if you can get hold of the right ingredients. Please find below the detailed proceedure to make Ram Laddoo.

Ingredients (serves 4-6):

  1. 3/4 cup moong dal
  2. 1/4 cup chana dal
  3. 2 green chillies
  4. Salt to taste
  5. Oil, as needed for deep frying

For serving:

  1. Meethi Chutney, as needed
  2. Hari Chutney, as needed
  3. 1 medium-sized onion, chopped finely
  4. 1/2 of a medium-sized radish, peeled and grated
  5. Roasted cumin (jeera) powder, as needed
  6. Chaat masala, as needed

Method:

1. Wash the chana dal and moong dal well under running water. Drain out all the water. Then, take the dals together in a large vessel and add in enough fresh water to cover them completely. Let the dals soak for at least 3-4 hours or overnight.

2. Once the dals are done soaking, drain out all the water from them. Transfer the drained dals to a mixer jar. Chop up the green chillies roughly and add them in too. Grind everything together, coarsely, adding very little water. The batter should have a thick consistency, and should not be watery.

3. Add salt to taste to the batter. Mix well.

4. Now, heat the oil for deep frying in a heavy-bottomed pan. When the oil is nice and hot, reduce flame to medium. Drop in a few small balls of the batter into the hot oil, and deep-fry on medium flame till they get nicely browned and crisp. Take care to ensure that the fritters do not burn. When done, transfer the fritters to a plate. Prepare fritters from all the batter in a similar fashion.

5. You can use the fritters to make chaat once they have cooled down slightly. For this, arrange some of the fritters in a serving plate. Drizzle some Meethi Chutney and Hari Chutney over them. Garnish with some grated radish and finely chopped onion. Add some roasted cumin powder and chaat masala on top. Your Ram Laddoo are ready to serve. Serve immediately.

Tips & Tricks

1. The proportion of moong dal and chana dal differ from one person to another. Some make the fritters with moong dal only. I prefer the proportions listed above. I often make the fritters with chana dal only, and they taste just as delicious.

2. Do not add in too much water while grinding. The batter should be thick and have a droppable consistency.

3. Adjust the number of green chillies you add to the batter, as per personal taste preferences.

4. Take care to to not burn the fritters while frying. They should be crisp and nicely browned on the outside, with a fully-cooked interior.

5. The quantities of the garnishes you use – chopped onion, grated radish, sweet and spicy chutney, roasted cumin powder and chaat masala – would depend upon your personal preferences.

6. Let the fritters cool down a bit before making the chaat. You can allow them to completely cool too.

7. Black salt (kala namak) can be used to garnish the Ram Laddoo, instead of the chaat masala.

8. The fritters can be cooked in an appe (paniyaram) pan, instead of deep-frying them. This makes the chaat healthier.

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

Meethi Chutney| Imli Chutney| Sweet Chutney

I am a big, big, big fan of chaat. The way chaat has sweet and spicy and sour and salty flavours rolled into one has my heart. And there’s so much variety, so many different types of chaat, I can never tire. Today, I’m going to share with you all the recipe for Meethi Chutney, an integral part of a chaat platter.

What is Meethi Chutney?

‘Meethi Chutney’ is Hindi for sweet chutney. It is, actually, a sweet and sour chutney, typically made using tamarind. The sweetness comes from the use of dates or jaggery in it.

Making chaat like Bhel Poori, Dabeli or Sev Poori is unimaginable without a generous dose of this chutney, often used along with its spicy counterpart Hari Chutney. The sweet chutney also makes for a wonderful accompaniment to snacks like cutlets, samosa, kachori and gota. It is also used in preparing Dal Moradabadi, a dal which also doubles up as a chaat.

A bit about my way of making Meethi Chutney

Like I was saying earlier, this Meethi Chutney is made using tamarind (‘imli‘ in Hindi), due to which it is also referred to as ‘Imli Ki Chutney’. Very often, this chutney is sweetened using dates, but I use jaggery since I’m not very fond of the texture the former lends to the dish. Roasted cumin powder is the ‘cherry on the cake’ for this chutney, giving it a beautiful fragrance and flavour.

In itself, this Meethi Chutney is completely vegetarian and vegan (plant-based). It is also entirely gluten-free. I usually make a big batch of this chutney, keep it refrigerated and use as needed.

How I make the Meethi Chutney

Here is how I go about it.

Ingredients (makes about 1 bowlful):

  1. A big lemon-sized ball of tamarind
  2. 3/4 cup jaggery powder or to taste
  3. 2 teaspoons roasted cumin (jeera) powder

Method:

1. Soak the tamarind in boiling water for at least 15 minutes, to soften it. Keep aside, and let it cool down enough to handle.

2. When the tamarind has cooled down a bit, extract all the juice from it. Use water as needed to help with the extraction. Keep the extract a little watery, as the chutney will thicken upon cooking.

3. Take the tamarind extract in a heavy-bottomed pan, along with the jaggery powder. Place on high heat. Soon the jaggery will get completely dissolved in the tamarind extract, which will start thickening. This should take 4-5 minutes. Stir intermittently. Taste and adjust jaggery as needed.

4. Reduce flame to medium when the extract starts thickening. Continue to cook on medium flame for 3-4 minutes more, or till the mixture has thickened up a bit more. Switch off gas when it is thick, but still runny.

5. Mix in the roasted cumin powder. Your Meethi Chutney is ready.

6. Allow the Meethi Chutney to cool down completely before filling it in a clean, dry, air-tight bottle. Store refrigerated and use as needed.

Tips & Tricks

1. Adjust the quantity of jaggery you use, depending upon taste preferences.

2. If the tamarind you are using has seeds and/or impurities, make sure they are removed before you set out to make the Meethi Chutney. I have skipped this step because I usually don’t find any impurities in the tamarind we use.

3. Keep the tamarind extract a little watery, but not overly so. It will thicken when cooked.

4. You can add a bit of salt to the Meethi Chutney too, while it is cooking. I don’t.

5. Adjust the consistency of the Meethi Chutney as per your preferences. For best results, cook till it thickens but is still runny – neither too watery nor thick like a jam.

6. The chutney stays good for up to a month when stored refrigerated in a clean, dry, air-tight bottle and used hygienically.

7. To make roasted cumin powder, dry roast about 2 tablespoons of cumin on medium flame till it gets fragrant, then allow to cool down and powder coarsely. Store this in a dry, air-tight bottle and use as needed.

8. Adjust the quantity of roasted cumin powder you use, as per personal taste preferences.

9. Some people add sugar to the Meethi Chutney, but I’m partial to jaggery. I don’t like the flavour of dates in this chutney either.

10. Black salt, red chilli powder, ginger powder and similar spices are often used in Meethi Chutney. However, I avoid them because the Hari Chutney I almost always use along with this includes all those spices/flavours.

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