Malai Kulfi| Creamy Kulfi Without Cornflour

Malai Kulfi is an evergreen classic in the world of frozen delicacies. I’m sure the simple dessert has many fans – I’m definitely one of them!

Today, let me share with you all how to make absolutely divine, creamy and delectable Malai Kulfi at home from scratch. The best part – it is made using natural ingredients, with no cornflour, store-bought cream, condensed milk or other processed ingredients. This is how my mom used to make it back when I was a school-going kid, and things like cornflour and condensed milk weren’t big. It’s such a simple thing to make, to be honest, with just the bare minimum of ingredients.

Delectable Malai Kulfi

It’s raining frozen delights at the Shhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge

I am sharing this recipe in association with the Shhhh Cooking Challenge.

The Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge is a group of food bloggers who share recipes based on a pre-determined theme, every month. The theme for this month, suggested by Pavani of Pavani’s Kitchen, is ‘Frozen Delights’. I’m drooling, looking at the gorgeous Easy Oreo Ice Cream that Pavani has created for the theme. I’m soooo trying it out!

For those of you who are interested, I’ll tell you about how the Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge works. Every month, the group members are divided into pairs. Each pair then goes on to exchange two ingredients, unknown to the rest of the group. The pair has to use these ‘secret’ ingredients in creating a recipe that fits the theme of the month. Isn’t that super interesting?

I was paired with Narmadha, the warm and bubbly author of Nams Corner, for the month. She suggested I make a frozen food using ‘cardamom’ and ‘rose essence,’ and here I am with this Malai Kulfi recipe! I gave Narmadha ‘sugar’ and ‘raw mango’ as her secret ingredients, and she made these absolutely brilliant Raw Mango Popsicles using them.

How to make Malai Kulfi

Here is how I make it.
Ingredients (serves 3-4):

  1. 1 litre full-fat milk
  2. 1/3 cup sugar or to taste
  3. 20 cashewnuts
  4. 3/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
  5. 4-5 drops of rose essence (optional)
  6. 5-6 almonds for garnishing (optional)
  7. A generous pinch of saffron threads for garnishing (optional)

Method:

1. Take the milk in a heavy-bottomed pan. Place on high flame. Allow the milk to come to a boil, which should take about 5-6 minutes.

2. Add the sugar to the pan. Mix well. Reduce flame to low-medium. Allow the sugar to get completely dissolved in the milk. Taste and adjust sugar if needed.

3. Take the cashewnuts in a small mixer jar. Powder them coarsely.

4. Keeping the flame at low-medium, add the coarsely powdered cashewnuts to the milk, stirring constantly.

Top left and right: Steps 1 and 2, Bottom left and right: Steps 3 and 4

5. Continue to cook the milk at low-medium flame for a good 15-20 minutes or till it is well reduced and thick. Stir intermittently. Cream will form on the sides of the pan – scrape it back into the pan with a spatula. When the milk has reduced more than half of its original volume, switch off the gas.

6. Mix in the cardamom powder.

7. Mix in the rose essence, if using.

8. Allow the milk mixture to cool down completely. Now, transfer to a clean, dry, air-tight freezer box. Place in the freezer. Freeze for at least 4-6 hours, after which the Malai Kulfi will be ready. Cut into slices using a knife and serve immediately, garnished with saffron threads and chopped almonds (if using).

Top left and right: Steps 5 and 6, Bottom right and left: Steps 7 and 8

Tips & Tricks

1. Use full-fat milk for best results. I have used Nandini full-cream milk here.

2. The rose essence is optional, but I would highly recommend using it. I think it elevates the appeal of the Malai Kulfi quite a bit. If you are sceptical about using essence, use a 100% natural brand that does not contain any chemicals.

3. I have used cashewnut powder here to thicken the milk. You may use almond powder or cornflour instead.

4. Adjust the quantity of sugar you use as per personal taste preferences.

5. Make sure you use a heavy-bottomed pan to cook the milk.

6. I have used home-made cardamom powder here. I grind a good handful of cardamom to a fine powder, along with the skins, and store it in an air-tight bottle. I use it as required. You may use store-bought cardamom powder instead, too.

7. You may add some finely chopped almonds to the milk, while it is reducing. I have not done so.

8. Make sure the milk mixture has thickened well and it has reduced more than half of its original volume. Only then will the Malai Kulfi be creamy and delicious and set beautifully.

9. Make sure the milk mixture has completely cooled down before you go about freezing it.

10. I have used a simple, air-tight stainless steel box to freeze the Malai Kulfi. You may use a plastic or Tupperware freezer box instead, or use kulfi moulds.

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

Verkadalai Chutney| Peanut Chutney For Idlis And Dosas

What is your favourite side dish with idlis and dosas? Today, I’m going to tell you about my personal favourite, Verkadalai Chutney. This, apart from my love for dunking idlis and dosas in Udupi-style sambar. 🙂

Verkadalai Chutney or Peanut Chutney

What is Verkadalai Chutney?

Verkadalai‘ in Tamil refers to peanuts. ‘Verkadalai Chutney’ is, therefore, chutney made using peanuts. It is a delicious confection, flavoured with tamarind, green chillies and ginger, and very easy to make too.

This chutney is quite commonly served in restaurants in Bangalore, alongside idlis, dosas and paniyaram. However, the restaurant version is on the runnier side. The chutney in the picture above is more thick.

This Verkadalai Chutney is different from the groundnut chutney I had shared on the blog, a couple of years back. Both the chutneys are made using peanuts as the base, but the flavour profiles are quite different.

How to make Verkadalai Chutney

Here is how I prepare it.

Ingredients (makes about 2 cups):

  1. 3/4 cup peanuts
  2. A small piece of tamarind
  3. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  4. 3 green chillies or as per taste
  5. 1 teaspoon oil
  6. 1-1/2 tablespoon chana dal
  7. 1-1/2 tablespoon urad dal
  8. Water, as needed
  9. Salt to taste

For the tempering:

  1. 1/2 tablespoon of oil
  2. 3/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
  3. 1 sprig of curry leaves
  4. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  5. 2 dry red chillies

Method:

1. Soak the tamarind in a little boiling water, for at least 15-20 minutes, for it to soften. Set aside and let it cool down.

2. Dry roast the peanuts on medium flame, in a heavy-bottomed pan, for 4-5 minutes or till they turn crisp. Take care to ensure that they do not burn.

3. In the meantime, peel the ginger. Chop the ginger and green chillies roughly. Keep them ready.

4. Transfer the roasted peanuts to a plate. Allow them to cool down completely.

5. Meanwhile, heat 1 teaspoon oil in the same pan we used earlier. Add in the chana dal and urad dal, and reduce the flame to medium. Roast on medium flame till the lentils start browning and start emitting a nice fragrance. Take care to ensure that the lentils do not burn. At this stage, add in the roughly chopped ginger and green chillies. Roast on low-medium flame for about a minute, then switch off gas. Transfer the roasted ingredients to a plate and allow them to cool down completely.

Top left, centre and right: Steps 1, 2 and 3, Bottom left: Step 4, Bottom centre and right: Step 5

6. When all the roasted ingredients have completely cooled down, transfer them to a mixer jar, along with the roasted peanuts. Add in the tamarind along with the water it was soaked in. Add in salt to taste and enough water to help with the grinding (if required).

7. Grind everything together to a smooth paste. Transfer to a mixing bowl. If needed, add in more water as needed, to bring the chutney to a semi-thick consistency – this is purely optional.

8. Now, we will temper the chutney. Heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in a small pan. Add in the mustard seeds, and allow them to sputter. Now, add in the curry leaves, asafoetida and dry red chillies. Allow these ingredients to stay in the hot oil for a few seconds, taking care not to burn them. Switch off gas.

9. Transfer this tempering to the chutney in the mixing bowl. Mix well. Your Peanut Chutney is ready. Serve it with idlis or dosas.

Left top and bottom: Steps 6 and 7, Top right: Step 7, Right centre and bottom: Steps 8 and 9

Chutney Special at the Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge

I’m sharing this recipe in association with the Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge.

The Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge is a group of enthusiastic food bloggers who share recipes based on a pre-determined theme, every month. The members are grouped into pairs, and each pair exchanges two secret ingredients that are then used to cook a dish that fits in with the monthly theme.

The theme this month is ‘Chutneys’, suggested by Priya Vijayakrishnan, author of Sweet Spicy Tasty. Do check out the lip-smacking Raw Mango Chutney that she prepared for the theme!

My partner for the month was Poonam, a very talented chef and the author of Annapurna. She assigned to me the two ingredients of ‘peanuts’ and ‘tamarind’, and I decided to use them to make this Verkadalai Chutney. I gave Poonam the ingredients ‘red chilli powder’ and ‘jaggery’, and she used them in a beautiful Bengali Tomato Khejur Amshottor Chaatni. Yum!

Tips & Tricks

1. Adjust the quantity of tamarind, salt and green chillies as per personal taste preferences.

2. Make sure the tamarind is free of seeds, strings and other impurities before using it in making the chutney.

3. Add as much water as needed to bring the chutney to a semi-thick consistency. If you want to keep the chutney thick, you may avoid adding the water.

4. Make sure the ingredients do not burn while roasting, as this might alter the taste of the chutney.

5. Make sure the roasted ingredients cool down fully before using them in making the chutney.

6. Sesame oil goes best in this Verkadalai Chutney. However, if you don’t have it, you may use any other variety of oil you prefer.

7. This Verkadalai Chutney recipe is completely vegetarian and vegan, suited to those following a plant-based diet.

8. This chutney is not gluten-free as it contains asafoetida. Most commercial brands of asafoetida available in India do contain wheat flour and are, hence, best avoided if one is following a gluten-free diet. However, if you can get your hands on 100% gluten-free asafoetida, you can definitely go ahead and use it.

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

Strawberry Kesari Bath| Rava Kesari With Strawberry

The daughter is big on naturally coloured foods at the moment. She is thrilled if I present her with a green soup or orange idlis or a pink roti or a blue payasam. That’s how this idea of Strawberry Kesari Bath came about. I had a box of strawberries lying in our refrigerator, and I thought of using them to create this pretty pink dessert for her. And, yes, she loved it! 🙂

Strawberry Kesari Bath or Rava Kesari with strawberry

A closer look at Strawberry Kesari Bath

Kesari Bath aka Rava Kesari is a popular sweet dish in South India, made using rava i.e. sooji or semolina. Redolent with ghee, it is a common feature on the menu in several Bangalore restaurants and at weddings as well. Pineapple Kesari is a variation of this sweet dish, equally popular in Bangalore.

I made this Strawberry Kesari on the same lines as the Pineapple Kesari, substituting one fruit for the other. Strawberries are in season now, and you get really lovely sweet ones, which are just perfect for this kesari. They lend a lovely natural pink colour to the dish too. Quite apt for this time of the year, considering it is the ‘month of love’ and all that! The Strawberry Kesari tastes absolutely delicious, too.

‘Warm Desserts’ theme at Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge

I’m sharing this recipe for Strawberry Kesari Bath with the Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge group that I’m part of.

The Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge is a group of enthusiastic food bloggers who share recipes based on a pre-determined theme, every month. The members are paired together every month, and each pair exchanges two ingredients secretly, unknown to the rest of the group. Each pair then uses these two ingredients to cook a dish that fits the theme of the month. The other group members then try to guess what the two secret ingredients could have been. Interesting, right?

So, this month, our hostess for the Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge is Rafeeda, the author of The Big Sweet Tooth. True to her blog’s name, Rafeeda is a huge dessert lover. You will find several interesting sweet dishes on her blog, such as this Lotus Milk Cake and this Lime Olive Oil Cake. She suggested that we all prepare some warm desserts this month, desserts that are best had straight off the gas (or oven).

My partner for the month was Anu of Ente Thattukada. She gave me two simple ingredients – raisins and sugar – and I decided to incorporate them into this Strawberry Kesari Bath. I’ve always loved kesari piping hot, so I didn’t have to think much when it came to the theme. 🙂

I suggested that Anu use jaggery and rice to make her dish, and she prepared this beautiful Sweet Pongal. Do check out her recipe!

How to make Strawberry Kesari Bath

Here is how I made it. This is a simple dish to make, requiring just a few minutes to put together.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  1. 3/4 cup fine rava (sooji or semolina)
  2. 2 tablespoons + 2 tablespoons of ghee
  3. 1 tablespoon raisins
  4. 10-12 cashewnuts
  5. 1-1/2 cups water
  6. 3/4 cup sugar
  7. 6 big strawberries, 1 heaped cup when chopped

Method:

1. In a pan, heat 2 tablespoons ghee, then add in the rava. Roast the rava on medium flame for about 2 minutes, till it starts giving out a lovely aroma and becomes the consistency of wet sand. Ensure that the rava does not burn.

2. Immediately transfer the roasted rava to a plate. Keep this aside.

3. Remove the tops from the strawberries and grind to a coarse puree, in a mixer. Keep this aside.

4. Chop the cashewnuts roughly. Keep ready.

Top: Step 1, Bottom left and right: Step 3

5. Take the water in the same pan and place it on high flame. Allow it to come to a rolling boil.

6. At this stage, turn the heat down to medium. Stirring constantly, add the roasted rava to the pan little by little.

7. Now add the sugar to the pan, as well as the strawberry puree. Continue to keep the flame at medium. Mix well.

Top left and right: Steps 5 and 6, Bottom right, bottom left and above bottom left: Step 7

8. Cook everything together on medium heat for 2 minutes or so, or till the mixture starts to thicken. Stir intermittently.

9. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of ghee in another small pan. Add in the chopped cashewnuts and raisins, and reduce flame to low. Fry on low heat till the raisins plump up and the cashewnuts get brown, ensuring that they do not burn. Add the ghee, along with the fried cashewnuts and raisins, to the mixture cooking in the other pan. Mix well.

10. Continue to cook for about a minute or so more or till the mixture has thickened up but is still a bit runny. Your Strawberry Kesari Bhat is ready at this stage – it will thicken further upon cooling. Serve the kesari hot, warm or at room temperature.

Top: Step 8, Bottom left and right: Steps 9 and 10

Tips & Tricks

1. Use fine rava – also called Bombay rava – to make the kesari. The more granular Bansi rava doesn’t really go well in this dish.

2. I have used only cashewnuts and raisins in this Strawberry Kesari Bath. You may add in some almonds too, if you prefer.

3. For best results, use a heavy-bottomed pan to make the kesari.

4. Adjust the quantity of sugar as per personal taste preferences. The above quantity worked perfectly for us.

5. Use ripe, sweet strawberries for best results. This will give a nice, fruity flavour to the kesari, whereas sour strawberries will make the dish taste sour-ish.

6. You can keep the strawberry puree coarse or smooth, as you prefer.

7. Remember to keep the flame at medium and stir constantly while you are adding the strawberry puree to the pan. This will help in preventing the formation of lumps.

8. Make sure the raisins and nuts do not get burnt while frying them, as that might alter the taste of the dish.

9. You can add more ghee to the Strawberry Kesari Bath, if you prefer. I use a little less than is usually done.

10. I use only water to cook the kesari, while some people use a mix of milk and water. You can do so too, if you so prefer.

11. Switch off the gas when the kesari is still a bit runny. Remember that it thickens up more on cooling.

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

Dal Ka Shorba| Indian-Spiced Lentil Soup

If you are looking for a simple but hearty soup that’s hugely satisfying on a winter day, I have just the right thing for you. I’m here today with the recipe for Dal Ka Shorba, an Indian-style soup.

Dal Ka Shorba or Indian-Spiced Lentil Soup

What is Dal Ka Shorba?

Dal Ka Shorba – also called Dal Shorba – refers to a soup made using lentils, spiced the Indian way. It is full of protein, warm and comforting and delicious. I make mine with toor dal and give it a burnt garlic tempering to make it extra special.

I have had the pleasure of tasting Dal Ka Shorba at several North Indian restaurants, and I especially love the one at Moti Mahal. The recipe I have shared here is inspired by these restaurant versions, tried and tested several times over and toned down to just the way my family and I like it.

Why you should try out this Dal Ka Shorba

– It is super easy to make. Once the lentils are cooked, it takes bare minutes to put the soup together.

– This soup needs the bare minimum of ingredients, all easily available in a typical Indian kitchen. There are no fancy or processed ingredients in there – only clean and humble everyday ones.

– Like I was saying earlier, this Dal Ka Shorba is full of protein. It is very nutritious and hearty.

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

– This soup manages to be light and appetising in spite of the addition of lentils. It makes for a great addition to a North Indian-style meal.

– It’s delicious! All of us at home absolutely love it, especially the touch of burnt garlic in it. It is so much more than the water left over from cooking lentils.

How to make Dal Ka Shorba

Here is how I make it.
Ingredients (serves 3-4):

  1. 1/2 cup toor dal
  2. 1/2 tablespoon oil
  3. 4-5 cloves of garlic
  4. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  5. 3/4 to 1 cup of water
  6. Salt to taste
  7. 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or to taste
  8. Juice of 1/2 lemon or to taste
  9. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander or to taste

Method:

1. Wash the toor dal thoroughly under running water. Drain out all the water and place in a wide vessel.

2. Add in enough fresh water to cover the toor dal completely. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker. Pressure cook for 7-8 whistles on high flame or till the dal is well cooked. Let the pressure release naturally.

3. Once the pressure from the cooker has completely gone down, get the cooked toor dal out. Mash it well with a buttermilk churner, to give it a smooth consistency. Keep aside.

4. Peel the ginger and garlic cloves. Chop very finely. Chop the coriander finely. Keep aside.

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

5. Heat the oil in a pan, and add in the chopped ginger and garlic. Turn the flame down to medium. Cook on medium flame for a minute or till the garlic gets brown. Take care to ensure that it does not burn.

6. At this stage, still keeping the flame at medium, add the cooked and mashed toor dal to the pan. Also add in water, as needed to adjust the consistency of the mixture. I used a little more than 3/4 cup of water.

7. Add in the salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix well.

8. Cook everything together on medium flame till the mixture comes to a boil. Then, reduce flame even further and simmer the mixture for a minute more. Switch off gas.

9. Mix in lemon juice and chopped coriander. Your Dal Ka Shorba is ready. Ladle into bowls and serve immediately.

Top left and right: Steps 5 and 6, Above leftmost bottom and leftmost bottom: Steps 7 and 8, Bottom right: Step 9

#HotPot theme at Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge

I’m sharing this recipe for Dal Ka Shorba in association with the Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge.

The Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge is a group of enthusiastic food bloggers who share recipes based on a pre-determined theme every month. Each month, the group members are divided into pairs, and every pair exchanges two ingredients unknown to the rest of the group. These two ingredients are used by each pair to cook the dish that fits the group’s monthly theme.

It was my turn to suggest a theme for the group this month and, considering it is winter, I chose #HotPot or dishes that are best served piping hot. I was paired with Sasmita of First Timer Cook for the month, and she assigned to me the two secret ingredients of ‘pepper’ and ‘lemon’, and I decided to use them in this beautiful Dal Ka Shorba.

I gave Sasmita ‘curry powder’ and ‘lemon’ as secret ingredients. You guys must definitely check out the wonderful Roasted Cauliflower Soup recipe she has developed using these ingredients!

Tips & Tricks

1. You can use ghee or butter instead of the oil I have used here.

2. The garlic can be omitted, if you don’t prefer to use it.

3. Make sure you chop the ginger and garlic really fine, for best results. You may even julienne the ginger.

4. Make sure the toor dal is well cooked before proceeding to make the soup.

5. Adjust the quantity of lemon juice, salt and pepper as per personal taste preferences. Black pepper powder can be used instead of the freshly ground pepper – that said, I would highly recommend the freshly ground pepper.

6. Adjust the quantity of water depending upon how thick you want the soup to be. I prefer keeping it only slightly thick – not overly so – and not very watery.

7. You can add a dash of roasted cumin (jeera) powder to the soup too. I usually don’t.

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

Fried Methi Na Muthiya| Gujarati Fenugreek Dumplings

I love winter and all the fresh produce that it brings. If I were to list out my most favourite winter produce, fenugreek or methi greens would be right there at the top of the list, along with pigeon peas (tuver dana) and green peas. These days, methi is available throughout the year, but there is definitely something special about it in winter – it’s more fresh, more delicious, more lush.. and well, it spells out ‘winter’ to me. And there are few things better than using that gorgeous fenugreek in deep-fried Methi Na Muthiya. Perfect for snacking on cold winter days!

What are Methi Na Muthiya?

Methi Na Muthiya refers to dumplings made using fenugreek greens, combined with gram flour and a few other ingredients. Some people make them with whole wheat flour, too.

Muthiya can be deep-fried or steamed, and both versions taste absolutely delicious. Here, however, we will be talking about the deep-fried ones, which are crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. They are lovely as a snack on rainy or cold days.

Deep-fried Methi Na Muthiya are often used in other Gujarati sabzis – in time, I’ll be writing about how to make those. They are most commonly used in Undhiyu, a delicious medley of winter vegetables. However, we make these Methi Na Muthiya slightly more elaborately than the ones used in Undhiyu.

How to make deep-fried Methi Na Muthiya

Please find the detailed recipe below.

Ingredients (serves 4-5):

  1. 2 cups gram flour (besan)
  2. 1-1/2 cups finely chopped fresh fenugreek (methi) leaves
  3. A handful of fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
  4. Salt to taste
  5. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  6. 2 generous pinches of asafoetida
  7. 2 tablespoons jaggery powder or to taste
  8. Juice of 1/2 lemon
  9. 3/4 teaspoon coriander seeds (dhania) powder
  10. 3/4 teaspoon cumin (jeera) powder
  11. 3/4 teaspoon carom seeds (ajwain)
  12. 1 tablespoon sesame seeds (til)
  13. 2 green chillies
  14. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  15. Oil, as needed for deep frying

Method:

1. Wash the methi leaves and coriander thoroughly, to remove any traces of dirt. Place in a colander. Allow all the water to drain out.

2. Chop the washed and drained methi leaves and coriander finely. Keep aside.

3. Peel the ginger and chop roughly. Chop the green chillies roughly too. Grind the ginger and green chillies together to a paste, using a little water. Keep aside.

4. Measure out the besan in a large mixing bowl. Add in salt to taste, turmeric powder, jaggery powder, asafoetida, coriander powder, cumin powder, carom seeds and sesame seeds. Also add the ginger-green chilly paste we prepared earlier. Mix everything well.

5. Add the chopped methi leaves and coriander to the mixing bowl too. Mix everything well, using your hands.

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

6. Add the lemon juice to the mixing bowl.

7. Place the oil for deep-frying in a heavy-bottomed pan, on high flame. Allow the oil to get nice and hot.

8. In the meantime, adding water little by little to the mixing bowl, bind the ingredients together to a soft dough that is neither too hard nor too sticky.

9. Make small oval-shaped dumplings out of the dough. Keep ready. You may grease your palms with a little oil, to help shape the muthiya.

10. When the oil is hot, reduce the flame to medium. Add 2-3 of the dumplings into the hot oil, and deep fry till brown on the outside and well-cooked on the inside. Take care to not let the dumplings burn. When done, transfer to a plate.

11. Deep fry all the dumplings in the same way, a couple at a time. Remove onto a plate. Serve hot with sweet tamarind chutney or any accompaniment of your choice.

Top left and right: Steps 6 and 8, Bottom left and right: Step 10

‘Winter Veggies’ theme at Shhh Cooking Secretly

I’m sharing this recipe with you all in association with the Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge.

I am a part of the Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge, which is a group of enthusiastic food bloggers sharing recipes based on a pre-determined theme every month. Every month, the participants form pairs, and each pair exchanges two ingredients in secret, unknown to the rest of the group. These ingredients are used by each pair to cook a dish that fits into the group’s monthly theme. The other members try to guess what the secret ingredients could have been, from the picture of the dish. It’s super fun, I tell you!

For the month of November, Preethi of Preethi’s Cuisine suggested that we all cook using winter vegetables. I was paired with Seema of Mildly Indian for the month, who assigned me the secret ingredients of ‘methi leaves’ and ‘oil’ – just perfect to make our family favourite Methi Na Muthiya!

I asked Seema if she could make something with ‘broccoli’ and ‘salt’, and she put together this wonderful Baked Pasta With Brussels Sprouts & Broccoli. It looks so good that I want to eat it right off the screen!

Preethi made this beauty of a Thai Green Curry Peas Soup, a unique recipe in her trademark style. Brilliant it is!

Tips & Tricks

1. Adjust the quantity of salt, green chillies, coriander powder, cumin powder and jaggery powder as per personal taste preferences.

2. You may add a little baking soda (or cooking soda) to the ingredients, to make the dumplings soft and spongy. However, I avoid this. The Methi Na Muthiya turn out soft and delicious even without the soda.

3. A little sour curd can be used in place of the lemon juice.

4. To make the coriander powder, dry roast some coriander seeds in a heavy-bottomed pan on medium flame, till they emit a lovely fragrance, about 2 minutes. Allow this to cool down completely and grind to a coarse powder. I make this in bulk, store it in a clean, dry, air-tight bottle and use as needed.

5. Make sure the methi leaves and coriander are washed well, and that there are no traces of dirt on them. Chop them fine, for best results.

6. I make the cumin powder in the same manner as the coriander powder. I dry roast cumin seeds in a heavy-bottomed pan, on medium flame, for about 2 minutes or till they get aromatic. Then, I allow them to cool down fully and grind to a coarse powder. I make this powder in bulk, store it in a clean, dry, air-tight bottle and use as needed.

7. Make sure you add water little by little, while binding the dough. Use only as much water as needed to bring the dough to a smooth, soft consistency. The dough should not be too hard, and neither should it be too sticky.

8. Traditionally, these dumplings are oval in shape. However, you can make them in any shape you prefer.

9. Use a heavy-bottomed pan to fry the dumplings, with a generous amount of oil poured in. Fry the dumplings a couple at a time, making sure not to overcrowd the pan. Keep the heat at medium, for even frying.

10. Red chilli powder can be used in place of the green chillies. I prefer using green chillies, though.

11. Start frying the dumplings only when the oil is nice and hot. To check if the oil is hot enough, turn the flame down to medium and drop a small piece of the batter into it. If the dough slowly rises to the surface, the oil is ready for frying. If the dough settles at the bottom of the pan, it indicates that the oil needs to heat up further.

12. I have used store-bought gram flour (besan) here.

13. This is a completely vegetarian and vegan preparation, suited to those following a plant-based diet. It is a no-onion, no-garlic dish as well.

14. To make these Methi Na Muthiya gluten-free, simply skip the asafoetida used in the above recipe. Most Indian brands of asafoetida do contain 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, you can definitely use it.

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