Pottukadalai Maa Laddoo| Fried Gram Laddoos

Pottukadalai Maa Laddoo or laddoos made from fried gram are a big favourite at our place. All of us love them to bits, melt-in-the-mouth delicious as they are. Today, I’m going to share with you all the recipe for these beautiful laddoos.

Pottukadalai Maa Laddoo or Pottukadalai Urundai

A little story about these Pottukadalai Maa Laddoo

The bub’s Montessori has been doing small activities in their online sessions every day, in preparation of Ganesh Chaturthi, which is just around the corner. One day, they made a flower garland, the other day they were taught how to light an earthen diya. Yesterday, they made a Ganesha out of clay, and today’s activity was the making of these fried gram laddoos.

The pottukadalai or fried gram used in these laddoos

Pottukadalai Maa Laddoo makes a frequent appearance on our dining table, but I have never really had a chance to photograph them or note down the recipe here. Today’s school activity gave me the perfect foil to do so, and I’m very glad for that. I’m super happy the bub now knows how to make these. So, here we are!

What goes into these laddoos?

These laddoos are made using fried gram or roasted gram, aka ‘Pottukadalai‘ in Tamil. Pottukadalai is made from chickpeas (chana), and is a wholesome ingredient known to possess a good amount of protein, fibre and essential vitamins, as well as many health benefits. The fried gram are roasted and ground to a powder, to a flour-like texture (‘maavu‘ or ‘maa‘ in Tamil), which is where these laddoos get their name from.

Here, I have used refined sugar so as to keep the colour of the laddoos a pale cream. You can definitely substitute the sugar with jaggery powder, if you so prefer.

Ghee is used to bind these laddoos, here. If you would prefer a vegan version, substitute the ghee with coconut oil – I haven’t really tried this out, but I’m guessing it should work.

These Pottukadalai Maa Laddoo are completely vegetarian and gluten-free. They aren’t vegan because of the addition of ghee but, like I was saying earlier, they can easily be adapted for those following a plant-based lifestyle.

How to make Pottukadalai Maa Laddoo

It is a breeze to make these Pottukadalai Maa Laddoo, almost child’s play. If the bub could make them so easily, anyone can. They need minimal ingredients and can be put together in a matter of minutes. For the little effort they require, these laddoos do taste incredibly delicious!

Here is how we go about making them.

Ingredients (makes 12-15 laddoos):

  1. 1 cup split fried gram (pottukadalai)
  2. 1 cup sugar
  3. 1/2 cup ghee or as needed
  4. 1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder

Method:

1. Get a heavy-bottomed pan nice and hot, then add the fried gram in. Now, reduce the flame to medium. Dry roast on medium heat for about 2 minutes, or till they begin to brown. Take care to ensure that they do not burn. Transfer to a plate and allow the roasted fried gram to cool down fully.

2. In the meantime, grind the sugar to a fine powder. Keep ready.

3. Also heat the ghee lightly. Keep it warm.

4. When the roasted fried gram has completely cooled down, grind it to a fine powder. Transfer this to a large mixing bowl.

5. Add the powdered sugar and cardamom powder to the mixing bowl too. Mix well, ensuring that the ingredients are well incorporated together.

6. Now, add the warm ghee little by little to the bowl, mixing gently. Add just as much ghee as needed for the mixture to attain a consistency like wet sand. You should be able to form balls out of the mixture – balls that hold their shape. Stop adding in ghee at this stage.

7. Form small, firm balls out of the mixture. Your Pottukadalai Maa Laddoo are done – store them in a clean, dry, air-tight box and use as needed.

Tips & Tricks

1. Make sure the fried gram does not burn while roasting. It just has to lightly brown, for its fragrance to come through. Do not over-roast it. A heavy-bottomed pan works best for the roasting.

2. Ensure that the roasted fried gram has completely cooled down, before you grind it.

3. The sugar should be ground to a fine powder. Use more or less, as per personal taste preferences. The above quantities work perfectly for us.

4. Use slightly melted, warm ghee for best results.

5. Fried raisins, cashewnuts and almonds can be added to the laddoos too, to make them richer. Here, I haven’t, and have kept them really simple and basic.

6. Like I was saying earlier, you can use jaggery powder or a healthier alternative to sugar too. Coconut oil can be used as a vegan alternative to ghee, too, though I have never tried that out.

7. These laddoos stay well for about 10 days when stored at room temperature in a clean, dry, air-tight box.

8. Use just as much ghee as needed to be able to form smooth laddoos, free of cracks, from the mixture. I needed a wee bit less than 1/2 cup for the above preparation.

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

Home-Made Tomato Ketchup| How To Make Tomato Ketchup At Home

When I recently made hot sauce at home, it set into motion a cycle of sorts. It egged me on to make more sauces, jams, spice mixes and pickles at home. I have been loving my time in the kitchen, experimenting with stuff like these. Some time ago, I made a batch of tomato ketchup at home, following my mom’s recipe – every time I use it, I’m struck anew by how lovely it is. I’m here today to share with you all our recipe for Home-Made Tomato Ketchup.


 

Of Home-Made Tomato Ketchup And Fond Memories

Making the ketchup brought back memories of Amma sitting beside a small gas stove on winter days, making it in a huge vat. Tomatoes would be inexpensive in the winter months, back then in Ahmedabad, and Appa would bring home bags full of them. I was a teenager then, rather fond of dunking everything I ate in ketchup, as was Appa. Thanks to a cooking show on television, Amma started making Home-Made Tomato Ketchup, so we could stop buying it off departmental store shelves.

I never really bothered to learn from Amma the way she made the ketchup – I just assumed that it was a long and laborious process. After moving to Bangalore, I started buying store-bought ketchup, but would never really have the heart to eat it or let my family do so. The long list of uncalled-for ingredients on the back of the bottle – flavour enhancers, corn syrup, preservatives, acidity regulators, stabilisers and what not – would always, always be niggling in the back of my mind. I’m so glad I finally got around to checking with Amma about her recipe for Home-Made Tomato Ketchup, after all these years!

Things you should know about Home-Made Tomato Ketchup


1. There’s no long and laborious process involved, as I had assumed. Making ketchup is the easiest thing ever!

2. Home-made tomato ketchup is so much more fresh, so much more flavourful than a store-bought version. I know many who don’t want to make ketchup at home because they use it very occasionally but, trust me, once you make it yourself, you will love it so much that you will want to use it more. You’ll actually want to cook with this tomato ketchup.

3. The home-made tomato ketchup recipe I have shared here includes onion and garlic, as well as refined sugar and white vinegar. You may skip the onion and garlic if you want to, but I’ve never tried it that way. Honestly, the onion and garlic add a lovely flavour to the ketchup, and I would highly recommend using them. The sugar can be substituted for a healthy sweetener, but that might affect the colour of the ketchup. The white vinegar acts as a preservative too, so I wouldn’t recommend skipping it.

4. I have used green chillies, cloves, cinnamon and a bay leaf to flavour the tomato ketchup. You can use your own choice of flavouring agents – cardamom, star anise, garam masala..  just let your imagination run wild. I prefer using just the natural flavouring agents mentioned in the recipe. Make sure you use only a very little quantity of these whole spices, otherwise they can have an overpowering effect on the ketchup.

5. With home-made tomato ketchup, you know exactly what ingredients go in. There are no fillers, no artificial colouring or flavouring agents, except for the vinegar.

6. The quality of tomatoes you use affects the taste of the home-made ketchup greatly. For best results, use the more tart country (Nati) tomatoes, rather than the ‘farm’ variety. Use ripe, firm tomatoes with no obvious blemishes on them, especially when they are in season and fresh.

7. Considering there are no preservatives added to this Home-Made Tomato Ketchup, it needs to be kept refrigerated at all times for a good shelf life. Stored in a refrigerator and used hygienically, the ketchup stays for about 2 months. I prefer making it in small batches and using it within 2 months or so.

8. I store the ketchup refrigerated in a clean, sun-dried glass bottle. I do not sterilise the bottle before use, but you may if you want to.

9. I have used white vinegar in the ketchup, but you can use a darker version too. Use good-quality vinegar. If you can find naturally brewed vinegar, use it. I prefer using a non-odorous variety – balsamic vinegar and apple cider vinegar have an odour to them, which I don’t prefer in the ketchup.

10. Adjust the quantity of green chillies, sugar and vinegar as per personal taste preferences. The quantities mentioned in the recipe work perfectly for our tastebuds.

11. Use a large heavy-bottomed pan so the tomatoes can cook well and evenly, without burning. You could even use the base of a large, 7-10 litre pressure cooker – that’s what I do. Avoid overcrowding the pan; allow enough space for the ingredients to cook and loosen up in the pan.

12. For 1 kg of tomatoes, I used 2 not-so-hot green chillies, and that was just perfect for us. You could also use any variety of chillies you prefer – Fresno chillies, jalapenos, dry red chillies. I have also seen some people using red chilli powder in Home-Made Tomato Ketchup. I prefer using regular green chillies, though.

13. This Home-Made Tomato Ketchup can be used immediately after making but, really, it takes about a day for the flavours to meld together and settle.

Home-Made Tomato Ketchup recipe


Here’s how I made the tomato ketchup at home.


Ingredients (yields 600-700 grams):

1. 1 kg tomatoes
2. 1 medium-sized onion
3. 2 green chillies
4. 6-7 cloves garlic
5. A small piece of cinnamon, about 1/2 inch
6. 2 clove
7. 1 bay leaf
8. 3/4 cup sugar or as needed
9. 1 tablespoon salt
10. 1/2 cup white vinegar

Method:

1. Chop the tomatoes roughly, into small cubes.

2. Peel the onion and garlic cloves. Chop roughly.

3. Remove the tops from the green chillies. Slit them lengthwise.

4. Take the chopped onion, garlic and tomatoes in a large, heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the slit green chillies and the bay leaf (torn into two). Crush the cinnamon and cloves roughly, using a mortar and pestle, and add them to the pan too. Place the pan on high heat.

5. The pan will soon get heated up and the veggies inside will start cooking. Turn the flame down to medium, at this stage. Continue to cook on medium flame for about 20 minutes, or till the tomatoes turn mushy and liquidy. Keep stirring intermittently, to prevent clumping and sticking to the bottom of the pan.

6. Add in salt and sugar. Mix well. Cook on high flame for 2 more minutes. Make sure the sugar is completely dissolved. Switch off gas, and allow the mixture to cool down fully.

7. When the tomato mixture has fully cooled down, fish out the bay leaves and discard them. Don’t miss this – it’s important to make sure the bay leaves are removed at this stage, as they don’t get ground very well.

8. Grind the tomato mixture to a smooth puree in a mixer jar, in 2-3 batches. Add in the vinegar little by little, while grinding each batch. Transfer the puree to a large vessel.

9. Now, little by little, pass the puree through a sieve that is not very fine. Use a spoon to stir the puree and ensure that all the liquid gets out of it – collect it in a large vessel. Silky smooth, thick liquid will get collected in the vessel – that’s your Home-Made Tomato Ketchup. Solid residue – any parts that haven’t got pureed well – will remain in the sieve. Discard the residue.

10. Fill the ketchup in a clean, dry glass bottle. Store refrigerated when not in use.

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

Doodh Masala| Milk Masala Powder Recipe

I used to be a happy milk-loving baby, as per my mother. However, my love for milk disappeared when I grew into a teenager, she says. I started hating plain milk, the very smell of it putting me off. Like most Indian moms, she would get paranoid if I refused to have at least one glass of milk a day – and hence began her journey to find various sorts of flavouring powders that would mask the smell of milk. The regular chocolate-flavoured ‘health powders’ were there, of course, but she wasn’t very happy with them. And then, a Gujarati neighbour of ours taught her how to make Doodh Masala, and life as we knew it changed – both for her and me. It made me a happy milk drinker, all over again, and mom became much more calmer and relaxed.


I’m here today to share with you all the recipe for Doodh Masala, the way my mom made it all those years ago, the way she taught me how to go about it.

Doodh Masala – a very useful, very Indian and unique Xmas gift!

 

What is Doodh Masala?


Doodh Masala is a powder that you mix into hot milk, to add flavour to it and, like in my case, to mask its actual smell. This powder is made using ingredients like nuts and a few spices, to give that unique mildly sweet, mildly spicy taste.

It makes for a wonderful winter warmer. The nuts, black peppercorns, cardamom, saffron and all other ingredients going into the Doodh Masala are great for the body in winters. That’s definitely not to say that you can’t use the masala during the other months of the year.


The Doodh Masala as such is completely vegetarian, plant-based or vegan, and gluten-free. We use it with regular pasteurised milk, but you may  add it to soya milk or cashew milk if you prefer it that way. 

 

Why you should be trying out this Doodh Masala recipe


~ Mildly sweet and spicy, this Doodh Masala adds a lovely taste to milk. I recently made a batch, and all of us at home are loving it!

~ It is super easy to make the Doodh Masala. Just get the ingredients together, and making this is a matter of minutes.

~ When stored well, the Doodh Masala has a good shelf life.

~ It is very Indian, very unique in taste, very different from all the flavoured milk products out there.

~ It is made using all-natural ingredients, no preservatives or artificial colours or flavours.

~ Using the Milk Masala Powder is very easy too.

~ I think it makes for a great edible gift for Christmas. Pack it in small jars, tie it with a ribbon, and voila! There’s a beautiful favour you can give to the guests who attend your Christmas party.

~ You can also use this masala to flavour kheer, milkshakes and other desserts.

Doodh Masala or Masala Milk Powder recipe


Here’s how I go about making the Doodh Masala.


I share this recipe with the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. Mayuri of Mayuri’s Jikoni suggested the theme for this week, #ChristmasTreats, to showcase various edible gifts we can prepare at home this Christmas season. I’m so glad this theme made me go down memory lane and zero in on this Doodh Masala recipe.

Ingredients (makes about 1 cup of masala):

  1. 1/3 cup shelled pistachios
  2. 1/3 cup almonds
  3. 1/3 cup cashewnuts
  4. 1 teaspoon saffron strands
  5. 6-7 green cardamom
  6. 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  7. 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  8. 1 teaspoon ginger powder
  9. 1 big piece of palm sugar candy (tal mishri or panam kalkandu)


Method:

1. Crush the green cardamom roughly, using a mortar and pestle.

2. Heat a heavy-bottomed pan, and add in the pistachios, almonds and cashewnuts. Now, reduce flame to low-medium.

3. Dry roast the nuts on low-medium flame for 3-4 minutes or till they start getting crisp. Make sure you stir them constantly and that they do not burn. Transfer the roasted nuts to a plate, and keep aside.

4. Add the crushed green cardamom (along with the peels), saffron strands, black peppercorns, fennel seeds and ginger powder to the pan. Switch off heat. In the residual heat of the pan, roast the ingredients for about a minute. Take care to ensure that they do not burn. Transfer these roasted ingredients to a plate too.

5. Allow all the roasted ingredients to cool down fully. Then, transfer them to a mixer jar.

6. Using a mortar and pestle, roughly crush the palm sugar. Add the crushed palm sugar to the mixer jar too.

7. Pulse the ingredients in the mixer jar together, for a couple of seconds. Then, stop to scrape down the sides of the mixer and mix up the ingredients with a spoon. Pulse again for a couple of seconds. Repeat this proceedure till you get a coarse powder. Your Doodh Masala is ready.

8. When the powder has cooled down fully, transfer it to a clean, dry, air-tight bottle. Store refrigerated.

 

Adding palm sugar candy to the Doodh Masala

 

How to use this Doodh Masala


There are two ways:

1. Bring a cup of milk to a boil. Add in sugar or crushed palm sugar candy if needed. Mix in 2-3 teaspoons of the Doodh Masala, as per taste. Serve immediately.

2. Take a cup of milk in a saucepan, and add in 2-3 tablespoons of the Doodh Masala. If required, add sugar or crushed palm sugar candy. Mix well. Place on high flame and bring everything to a boil. Serve immediately.

Tips & Tricks


1. Use good-quality unsalted pistachios, almonds and cashewnuts, for best results.

2. Adjust the quantity of ginger powder, fennel seeds and black peppercorns as per personal taste preferences. The above quantities work perfectly for us.

3. Regular refined sugar or candy sugar (mishri or kalkandu) can be used in place of the palm sugar candy. Adjust the quantity as per personal taste preferences. You may even leave out the sweetener altogether.

4. Some people add a bit of nutmeg, dried rose petals, milk powder and turmeric to the Doodh Masala. I have skipped these ingredients.

5. Make sure you dry roast the ingredients on low-medium heat, taking care to ensure that they do not burn. The ingredients don’t need to change colour – the roasting is done just to ensure that all the moisture from the ingredients is removed and to bring out the flavours from them.

6. Make sure all the roasted ingredients have cooled down fully before you start to grind them.

7. Don’t grind the ingredients at a high speed after roasting them – this will lead to the nuts releasing their oils, and the masala becoming a lumpy paste. Make sure you pulse the ingredients gently, stop after a couple of seconds, then pulse again.

8. I prefer keeping the Doodh Masala coarse. If you want, you can make a finer powder.
9. The Doodh Masala is best stored refrigerated, in a clean, dry, air-tight bottle and used hygienically whenever needed. This way, it stays well for a couple of months.
10. In case you add nutmeg to the Doodh Masala, do not boil the milk after adding in the masala. The nutmeg might cause the milk to turn bitter. Boil the milk first, then mix in the Doodh Masala, and serve immediately.
11. You can add other nuts of your choice in the Doodh Masala too – chironji, pine nuts, walnuts, etc.

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

Check out the other edible gifts from my kitchen:

Tomato Thokku| Strawberry Jam| Strawberry Chilli Jam| Jalapeno Jam| Orange Marmalade| Rasam Podi| Jeeravan Masala| Chai Masala| Chaas Masala| Bhavnagri Red Chilli Pickle| Methi Greens Pickle| Turmeric Root Pickle| Garam Masala

Orange Marmalade| Easy Home-Made Orange Jam

I came all the way in a lifeboat, and ate marmalade. Bears like marmalade.”
– Paddington Bear


My love for orange marmalade


It was Michael Bond’s Paddington Bear series of books that got me hooked to orange marmalade. I read my first Paddington Bear book about a decade ago, well into adulthood. Yes, I discovered them quite late in life, but I’m so glad I did! The mischievous bear charmed me – his love of marmalade, included – and I went on to buy the entire series of books. These books had me wondering what marmalade would taste like, considering it is not a food I grew up with. Orange marmalade, in particular.

And then, I had the opportunity to gorge on some utterly delectable orange marmalade at Auroville, Pondicherry – it was sheer beauty, just the right amount of sweet and sour, with a slight bitterness from the peel, the scent of oranges uplifting. I carried home a precious bottle, cherishing it bit by little bit. Since then, I have had orange marmalade several times over. Somewhere down the line, I tired of the huge list of artificial additives in it, as well as the ton of sugar that gets dumped into it, and started making my own at home.


Difference between jam and marmalade


Jam typically refers to fruit and sugar cooked together, till it thickens. Marmalade is also essentially the same, but with the fruit peel also added in. On that note, jam is sweeter than marmalade, which can have some amount of bitterness from the peel.

Home-made Orange Marmalade


I love making orange marmalade at home because, obviously, I can control what goes into it. I use sweet Kamala oranges when they are in season, which have just a bit of sourness to them, so I can get away with reducing the amount of sugar I add in. It gives me the opportunity to play around with the flavours – I can add in some chilli if I so prefer, or some cinnamon and cloves, or roasted cumin powder. The possibilities are endless!

You get to choose the best of fruit to use in your marmalade, and can decide just how much of the peel you want to put in. I add in only a small amount of peel, unlike store-bought brands, so there’s an intense orange flavour to the marmalade, without too much bitterness. That way, my resident bear cub (read: the bub) gets to enjoy it too. 🙂 Made in small batches, home-made orange marmalade is super fresh, fragrant and flavourful, with the right notes of sweet and sour, achieved with all-natural ingredients. I don’t use any pectin or preservatives in the orange marmalade either.

Making orange marmalade at home is super simple too. It just needs two major ingredients – oranges and sugar. You may add in a bit of lemon juice too, if you so prefer. It requires a little prep work, after which all you need to do is stand back and let the marmalade bubble and thicken up.

How I make Orange Marmalade at home


Here’s how I make home-made orange marmalade.

Ingredients (makes about 1 cup):

1. 12-14 medium-sized oranges
2. 1-1/2 cups sugar or to taste
3. Juice of 1/2 lemon or to taste (optional)

Method:

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


1. Wash all the oranges well under running water. Pat dry completely, using a cotton cloth.
2. Remove the skin off all the oranges. Separate the segments. Remove the pith and seeds from all the segments, as well as the fine skin, and discard. Collect the orange flesh in a large pan with a thick bottom. I got about 3 heaped cups of orange flesh.
3. Reserve the skin of one orange, and discard the rest. From the underside of the skin, using a sharp knife, scrape off all the white part. The fragrant orange part of the skin should be exposed (see the pictures above to get a better idea). Now, chop this skin finely and add to the orange flesh in the pan.
4. Add the sugar to the pan.

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


5. Place the pan on high flame. Mix well.
6. In a minute or two, the pan will get heated up and the mixture will start getting liquidy. Allow it to start bubbling.
7. Once the mixture starts to bubble, turn the flame down to medium.
8. Cook on medium flame for 18-20 minutes or until the mixture starts to thicken. Stir intermittently to prevent burning or sticking to the bottom of the pan. Now, the marmalade will get done really fast, and you need to be very watchful. At this stage, add lemon juice and mix well. Cook on low-medium heat for a couple of minutes more. Stir intermittently.
9. Switch off gas when the marmalade reaches a spreadable consistency, but is still quite runny. Don’t make it too thick. 10. Allow the Orange Marmalade to cool down fully. Then, transfer to a clean, dry, air-tight bottle. Store refrigerated, and use as needed.

Tips & Tricks


1. Use fresh, in-season oranges for best results.
2. Pick up firm oranges without any blemishes.
3. Make sure you scrape off all the white pith from the orange peel, otherwise the marmalade might turn bitter.
4. Adjust the amount of sugar you use, depending upon personal taste preferences. I had about 3 heaped cups of fruit and used 1-1/2 cups sugar for the same. The sweetness was just perfect for us.
5. Use a heavy-bottomed pan to cook the Orange Marmalade.
6. You can use any type of sugar to make the marmalade or even jaggery. I prefer granulated sugar.
7. Make sure you cook the marmalade on medium flame to ensure even cooking and to avoid burning.
8. I have used the peel from only one orange here. You may use more peel if you so prefer, but do keep in mind that the marmalade might get a little bitter by doing so.
9. If the oranges are naturally sweet and sour, you may avoid the lemon juice.
10. You can add a piece of cinnamon, some bay leaves, cloves and/or chilli flakes to make a spiced version of the Orange Marmalade. I didn’t use any of these ingredients.
11. Once the marmalade starts thickening, keep a watchful eye on it. Make sure you switch off the gas when it reaches a spreadable consistency but is still quite runny. The marmalade thickens further upon cooling.
12. Allow the Orange Marmalade to cool down fully before you bottle it.
13. Keep the marmalade refrigerated when not in use. Refrigerated and used hygienically, it stays well for several months. I would, however, suggest consuming it in about a month or so, since there are no preservatives added.
14. I have used Kamala oranges aka ‘loose jacket’ oranges to make the marmalade. You may use any other variety of oranges instead, too.

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

Check out the other varieties of home-made jam on my blog:
Strawberry Chilli Jam| Sweet & Spicy Jalapeno Jam| Strawberry Jam





Home-Made Red Chilli Sauce| How To Make Hot Sauce At Home

I discovered beautiful red Fresno chillies at a Namdhari’s Fresh outlet near my house, recently, and life hasn’t been the same ever since. I haven’t stopped admiring these beauties, and have bought them over and over again. The best part? These chillies have inspired me to start making sauces at home. I have made several batches of different types already and, in the process, discovered the yummiest of home-made red chilli sauce!

Red Fresno chillies. Ain’t they super pretty?!

The beginnings of my home-made sauce story

Growing up, I used to love adding tomato ketchup to just about everything. Roti, adai, dosa, pulav, sandwiches, parathas, bhel, pizza, chips – just about everything would undergo a generous dousing of tomato ketchup, store-bought. One of those weird phases that teenagers go through. Dad loved ketchup too – he still does – and, in between the two of us, we would manage to empty a considerable number of bottles every month. Then, one day, my mom got alarmed by just how many bottles of ketchup we were going through, just how much sodium, sugar, preservatives and what not we were downloading into our systems. So, the hunt started for a good home-made tomato ketchup recipe, which she ended up finding on some cookery show on TV, I think. Amma began making vats of ketchup at home using real ingredients – pretty good stuff, you know? It was an eye-opener of sorts for the entire family. We continued making ketchup and different types of sauces through the course of my school life, but then gave up due to the sheer convenience of store-bought versions. I grew out of my ‘ketchup monster’ phase, and then we began buying the few bottles we would consume. However, I remained, always, in awe of the process of making sauce at home. When I spotted these chillies at Namdhari’s, I just had to go ahead and pick them up and do something with them, and sauce it had to be!

Home-made sauce vs. store-bought versions

I believe it is possible to make at least a few basic sauces at home very easily. Most of them don’t need many ingredients or call for complicated cooking techniques. They do require effort, yes, more effort than that required to pop a bottle of ready-made sauce into your supermarket cart or ordering one online. That said, they are still not all that difficult to prepare. It is incredibly satiating to make home-made sauces too, to use real ingredients to fill up those bottles, to know exactly what is going into them. The only downside is that these sauces need to be used up within a short timeframe, considering they are made without any preservatives. Having experienced the high of home-made red chilli sauce, I can only say you need to try out this amazing, enriching, enlightening experience for yourself.

I have used white vinegar in the hot sauce I made, but no artificial colours or preservatives other than that. I have used way less salt and sugar than most store-bought bottles contain, and it still tastes absolutely, mind-blowingly delicious. The gorgeous red colour of the sauce is all natural – from the chillies!

The chillies cost me just INR 32 per box of 250 grams, and that was enough to make one batch of sauce, with the rest of the ingredients coming from my pantry. I didn’t calculate the exact cost for each of the batches of sauce I made, but I do know that it was soooo much less than what a similar quantity would have cost me had I picked it up off a departmental store shelf.

Home-made red chilli sauce or hot sauce. Just look at that gorgeous red, will you?

What are Fresno chillies?

Fresno chillies look similar to fresh jalapenos, but have thinner walls. They are moderately spicy chillies, which possess a slight fruity taste. This makes Fresno chillies perfect for making hot sauce. When pickled, these chillies go beautifully in pizza, sandwiches and burgers.

I have used red Fresno chillies to make this hot sauce, but you can easily substitute them with jalapenos or Serrano peppers.

How to make hot sauce at home

Here is how I went about making the hot sauce or red chilli sauce at home.

Ingredients (yields about 1 cup):

  1. 250 grams red Fresno chillies, about 1 heaped cup when chopped roughly
  2. 1 medium-sized onion, roughly
  3. 6-8 cloves of garlic
  4. 1 teaspoon oil
  5. Salt to taste, about 1/2 tablespoon
  6. Sugar to taste, 2 tablespoons
  7. 1/8 cup white vinegar or to taste

Method:

1. Wash the Fresno chillies well under running water. Pat dry, using a cotton cloth. Remove the green tops from the Fresno chillies. Chop them up roughly, seeds, membrane, et al. Keep aside.

2. Peel the onion. Slice length-wise. Keep aside.

3. Peel the garlic cloves and chop roughly. Keep aside.

4. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the chopped garlic, onion and chillies. Add a little salt. Mix well.

5. Cook on medium flame for 2-3 minutes. Stir intermittently, to prevent sticking to the bottom of the pan.

6. Now, add in the sugar and salt to taste. Cook on medium flame for 2-3 more minutes or till the ingredients turn soft. You don’t have to cook the ingredients to a mush – just make sure they are cooked through. Switch off gas and allow the ingredients to cool down fully.

7. When the ingredients have completely cooled down, transfer to a mixer jar. Add in the vinegar. Grind to a smooth paste. Your Home-Made Red Chilli Sauce is done!

8. Allow the sauce to cool fully after the grinding, then transfer to a clean, dry, air-tight bottle. Store refrigerated.

Notes:

1. I have used red Fresno chillies to make this sauce. These are moderately hot chillies, so the sauce is moderately hot. You may use a hotter version of chilli – or a milder one – if you so prefer.

2. You may use refined oil or olive oil to prepare this sauce. I used refined sunflower oil.

3. Adjust the quantity of salt, sugar and vinegar as per personal taste preferences.

4. The flavours of the sauce intensify the next day after making it. It tastes better the next day.

5. Keep the sauce refrigerated when not in use. When refrigerated and used hygienically, this sauce stays well for a week to 10 days. Since this sauce is made without any preservatives, it is best used within 7-10 days. The ingredient quantities above yield a limited quantity of sauce, which can easily be consumed within the said time frame.

6. A glass bottle is best to store this Home-Made Red Chilli Sauce.

7. I didn’t remove the seeds or the membranes from the Fresno chillies before using them to make the sauce. If you want a milder version of the sauce, you can go ahead and remove them.

8. Vinegar works best in this sauce, giving it a nice flavour. I wouldn’t suggest replacing the vinegar with lemon juice. I have used store-bought white vinegar here.

9. You can filter the sauce using a not-very-fine sieve, and remove the seeds or any big bits that might be left out. I haven’t done that.

10. This Home-Made Red Chilli Sauce is thickish and easily spreadable, but extremely flavourful. You may thin it out using a little water before using it, but this might make the flavours less intense. I use it as is.

11. This hot sauce is similar in taste to Sriracha sauce or store-bought red chilli sauce. You can use it in sandwiches or fried rice, as a dip for momos, spring rolls or samosas, in Thai salads and Chinese stir-fries, as a spread for fusion dosas or rolls, as a marinade for vegetables, tofu or paneer.

12. Make sure this sauce is prepared in a well-ventilated kitchen. The fumes from the chillies were manageable to handle for me, largely because I had my kitchen balcony and windows wide open.

13. The Fresno chillies I used were only moderately hot, so I was able to handle them without gloves. If you are not used to handling hot chillies, I would highly recommend wearing kitchen gloves.

I’m super excited to have gotten this right! Very soon, I will tell you about the very interesting ways in which I used this home-made red chilli sauce.

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