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!

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Kovakkai Thogayal| Ivy Gourd Chutney

Ivy gourd or coccinea – ‘tendli‘ in Hindi and ‘kovakkai‘ in Tamil – is one of my most favourite vegetables. I love using it to make a Gujarati-style, masaledaar sabzi or in Maharashtrian Tendli Bhat. Did you know that this versatile veggie lends itself beautifully to a chutney too? Yes, Kovakkai Thogayal or Ivy Gourd Chutney is an absolutely, delightfully delicious thing to have! I’m here today to tell you how to go about making this chutney, the way I learnt it from Amma.

Left: Tender ivy gourd; Right: Ivy gourd, cut into rounds

I’ve come across quite a few Tamilian households where ivy gourd is not consumed, because of a belief that it dulls the brain. Exactly how this belief came about or how true it is, I’m not sure. The Internet did not give me satisfactory answers to this either. 😐 What I do know is that ivy gourd is a rich source of iron, among many other health benefits. It has always been a much-loved vegetable in our family, and I’ve grown up eating various dishes made using it. My mom started making chutney with ivy gourd when I was a little girl, as I would refuse to eat my veggies any other way. This chutney would be so delicious that everyone else in the family – dad, my grandparents, friends and cousins – started demanding for it. Amma began making it in large batches, all of which would be licked clean soon enough. πŸ™‚

Kovakkai Thogayal or Ivy Gourd Chutney, the way Amma makes it

Kovakkai Thogayal or Ivy Gourd Chutney is quite easy to make. It makes for a wonderful accompaniment to hot steamed rice, mixed with a little ghee. I love it as a side dish with rotis, parathas, idlis and dosas alike. The best thing is – even people who don’t like ivy gourd love this chutney, I’ve seen. πŸ™‚ You’ve got to try this out!

I’m sharing this recipe with the A-Z Recipe Challenge group that I am part of on Facebook. Every alternate month, the members of this group showcase recipes made from ingredients in alphabetical order. It feels like just yesterday that joined this group – when we were doing the letter B – and I can’t believe we have reached I already! I chose ‘ivy gourd’ as my star ingredient for the letter I.

I’m sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #292. The co-host this week is Ai @ Ai Made It For You.

Now, let me take you through the procedure for making Kovakkai Thogayal or Ivy Gourd Chutney, a la Amma. This is a completely vegetarian and vegan preparation. You can make it gluten-free by omitting the asafoetida used in the tempering here.

Ingredients (yields about 1 cup):

  1. 1 heaped cup tender ivy gourd, chopped into thin rounds
  2. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  3. 5-6 cloves of garlic
  4. Salt to taste
  5. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  6. 1/2 tablespoon jaggery powder or to taste
  7. A small piece of tamarind
  8. 3 dry red chillies or as per taste
  9. 1 tablespoon urad daal
  10. 1 tablespoons chana daal
  11. 1 teaspoon + 1 teaspoon oil

For the tempering:

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

Method:

1. Soak the tamarind in a little warm water for at least 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, peel the ginger and chop roughly. Peel the garlic cloves as well. Keep aside.

3. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the dry red chillies, urad daal and chana daal. Fry on medium heat till the daals turn brown and begin to emit a lovely fragrance. Ensure that the ingredients do not burn. When done, transfer the fried ingredients to a plate and allow them to cool down completely.

4. Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon oil in the same pan. Add in the chopped ivy gourd, ginger and garlic cloves. Fry on medium heat for 4-5 minutes or till they are cooked and the raw smell from them has gone away. Transfer to a plate and allow to cool down completely.

5. Take the fried ivy gourd, ginger and garlic cloves in a small mixer jar, and add in the tamarind, salt to taste and jaggery. Add in very little water. Pulse for a couple of seconds. Then, scrape down the sides and add in the fried dry red chillies, urad daal and chana daal. Pulse a couple more times, scraping down the sides. Transfer to a serving bowl.

6. Heat the oil for tempering in a small pan. Add the mustard seeds, and allow them to pop. Add the asafoetida, dry red chillies and curry leaves, and let them stay in for a couple of seconds. Take care not to burn the ingredients. Switch off gas. Add this tempering to the chutney in the serving bowl. Mix well.

7. Serve this chutney with piping hot steamed rice and ghee or dosas/idlis.

Notes:

1. You may omit the ginger and garlic cloves, if you so wish. Personally, I love the beautiful flavour they add to the chutney.

2. Make sure all the fried ingredients have completely cooled down, before proceeding to grind the chutney.

3. The jaggery powder can be omitted if you do not prefer a sweetish tinge to the chutney. We love it!

4. Make sure all the seeds and impurities have been removed from the tamarind, before adding it to the pan.

5. I grind the ivy gourd a bit first and then add in the fried daals. This helps keep the daals from a becoming a fine, mushy paste.

6. Add just a little water to the mixer jar, while grinding the chutney. Do not add too much.

7. You can use tender ivy gourd or ripened ones (which are reddish on the inside) to make this chutney. The ripe ones add a slight tang to the chutney. I prefer using fresh, tender ivy gourd that don’t have too many seeds.

8. You may cut the ivy gourd length-wise or into rounds. I prefer cutting them into thin rounds as they cook faster that way.

9. When refrigerated and stored hygienically, this chutney stays well for 4-5 days.

10. Gingelly oil aka sesame seed oil tastes best in this chutney. However, if you don’t have it, you may use any other oil of your preference.

12. I have used the small, fat and hot Salem Gundu chillies to make the chutney, as well as in the tempering. The three chillies I have added in the chutney make it medium-range spicy. Add more chillies for more spiciness. Using a mix of the long, crinkly Bydagi chillies and the Salem Gundu chillies will give the chutney a nice reddish colour. Please note that Bydagi chillies are relatively less spicy.

13. You can add in some fresh coconut, mint leaves, coriander and/or curry leaves to the chutney too. I haven’t.

14. Adjust the quantity of tamarind you use as per personal taste preferences.

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

Masala Vadai| Spiced Paruppu Vadai

Today’s post is a little nostalgic, a little glum, a little fearful, a little hopeful. It is definitely about a big reality check that all of us need to pay attention to. I’m also sharing our family recipe for Masala Vadai, a monsoon-special delicacy from South India.

I absolutely adore the rains. Rain uplifts my spirits almost immediately. Bangalore becomes all the more beautiful in the rains (yes, waterlogged roads and traffic jams come into the picture too, but I still love it). The heady scent of wet earth, greenery sprouting everywhere, the diffused sunlight peeking through the clouds, the pitter-patter of raindrops – all of it leaves me with a fresh, clean feeling. Life starts anew in the monsoons, and I cannot not be charmed by that. And then, there are the hundreds of delectable monsoon-special foods to think of!

This year, though, there are no signs of a robust monsoon here in Bangalore. It started turning skin-blistering hot in February this year, and a scorching few months followed. The weather definitely started getting cooler in June, but there was no sign of the overcast skies, pleasant drizzles and heavy thunderstorms that usually set foot in Bangalore in April or May. The peacock in my soul has been waiting. Only in the last week or so (in July!) we had the beginnings of rain – cloudy skies in the evenings and a couple of showers. I am eagerly looking forward to the full works that I have come to love Bangalore for. Meanwhile, we had to celebrate the start of monsoon with some Masala Vadai, crispy deep-fried lentil fritters that are a specialty in the South of India.

While we are on the subject of delayed monsoons, I cannot not talk about the acute water crisis that Chennai has been facing for the last few months. It has been disheartening and scary reading media reports about the same. This report about Bangalore’s water situation going the Chennai way scares the living daylights out of me. Ground water in Bangalore (among other Indian cities) has been dipping lower and lower by the year, and there is a huge chance of it running out all too soon. It is time we do something about the situation – or we are going to be left high and dry. As a family, we have been doing our part and I urge all of you to do so, too.

Coming back to the Masala Vadai, they are delicious, delicious things that I just cannot have enough of. Made using coarsely crushed chana dal, jazzed up with onions, fennel, mint, coriander, chillies and curry leaves – these vadais are nothing short of a treat. A simpler version of these vadais is made in South Indian homes on festival days and other auspicious occasions, called Aame Vadai or Paruppu Vadai. I’m presenting an amped-up version here that is just perfect for regular days. Make these as a tea-time snack or when you have guests over, and it’s sure to be a huge hit. It is a great choice for those days when it’s pouring outside and your tastebuds crave for something deep-fried and lovely. πŸ™‚

Amma makes some mean Aame Vadai and Masala Vadai, a skill that she has passed on to me. I have extremely fond memories of Amma waiting with a plate of these fritters for me to get back home from work on rainy days. She knows I love them to bits, and her care and affection washed away all the woes of commuting home, soaked to the skin, in the midst of a downpour.

These fritters are actually super-easy to make. You need to soak chana dal for a few hours, and once that is taken care of, the rest falls into place fairly quickly. Below is the recipe, with some tips and tricks to get the Masala Vadai perfect. This is an entirely plant-based, vegan recipe. It can easily be made gluten-free too, by skipping the asafoetida used here.

Ingredients (makes about 20 vadais):

  1. 1 cup chana dal
  2. Salt to taste
  3. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  4. 2-3 generous pinches of asafoetida
  5. 2 green chillies
  6. 2 dry red chillies
  7. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  8. 1 tablespoon fennel seeds (saunf)
  9. 1 big onion
  10. A handful of fresh mint leaves
  11. 2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh coriander
  12. 2 sprigs of fresh curry leaves
  13. Oil, as needed for deep frying

Method:

1. Wash the chana dal well under running water, a couple of times, draining out the water from it each time. Add in just enough fresh water to cover the chana dal and let it soak, covered, for 3-4 hours.

2. When the chana dal is done soaking, drain out all the water from it. Transfer the drained chana dal to a mixer jar.

3. Peel the ginger, chop it roughly and add to the mixer jar. Chop the green chillies and dry red chillies roughly and add them in too. Also add salt, turmeric powder and asafoetida to the mixer jar. Coarsely grind the ingredients together, without adding any water.

4. Take the oil for deep frying in a heavy-bottomed pan. Place it on high flame and allow it to heat up.

5. In the meantime, transfer the ground chana dal to a large bowl. Chop the onion, curry leaves and mint finely and add them in. Also add the finely chopped coriander and fennel seeds to the mixing bowl. Mix up the ingredients well.

6. When the oil has heated up fully, reduce the flame to medium. Form 2-3 small patties out of the chana dal mixture we prepared earlier and slide them into the hot oil. Deep fry them on medium flame till brown and crisp on the outside, taking care not to burn them. Shape patties from the entire mixture similarly, and deep fry them in the same way. Serve hot.

Notes:

1. Do not over-soak the chana dal. Soaking for 3-4 hours is good enough.

2. Prepare the masala vadais immediately after you grind the ingredients. Plan out the soaking according to when you want to make the vadais. Frying the vadais long after the batter has been ground often results into them getting very oily.

3. A handful of dill leaves and/or garlic can be added to the Masala Vadais too. I usually don’t.

4. Increase or decrease the quantity of green chillies and dry red chillies you use as per personal taste preferences.

5. Make sure you fry the vadais on a medium flame. This will ensure even frying and delicious vadais.

6. The oil should get nice and hot before you turn down the flame to medium and start frying the vadais.

7. Grind the chana dal coarsely. Don’t make a fine paste, for best results.

8. Do not overcrowd the pan while frying the vadais. Fry them a couple at a time.

9. If you find it difficult to shape the batter into patties, mix in a couple of tablespoons of rice flour. I typically don’t.

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This post is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop group that I am part of. Every Monday, the members of the group share recipes based on a pre-determined theme.

The theme this week is #RimJhimBarse, wherein we are showcasing monsoon-special recipes. The theme was suggested by Preethi, author of Preethi’s Cuisine, a lovely blog with many wonderful recipes from across the globe.

I’m sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #284. The co-hosts this week are Diann @ Of Goats and Greens and Petra @ Food Eat Love.

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

Pressure Cooker Rajma Masala| Kidney Beans Curry

Growing up, I was never a fan of Rajma Masala. It would be prepared occasionally at home by Amma then, with some very South Indian flourishes. πŸ™‚ I wouldn’t mind it per se, but I didn’t really take to the dish till the husband introduced me to the Delhi version many years later. The city’s love for Rajma Chawal caught on to the husband too, and it became comfort food for him the many lonely days he spent in Delhi. I would accompany him on some of these work trips, and the cook at the office guesthouse taught me the proper North Indian version of Rajma Masala. Over the years, I have made it many, many times, falling in love with it a little more every time. Slowly, my own style of Rajma Masala emerged – a relatively simpler, easier and healthier one that perfectly suits my family’s tastebuds.

Today, I present to you my Pressure Cooker Rajma Masala recipe, which yields a hugely delectable result. I don’t use many whole spices in it, nor cream. All the flavour in it comes from the country tomatoes that go into it and the chana masala that I usually use in it. Once you have the rajma soaked and ready, the rest is a breeze, considering this is a one-pot recipe.

Kidney beans aka rajma is a legume full of health benefits, as I’m sure many of us are already aware. This curry is a delicious way to use them! It turns out just the right amount of thick and super flavourful. The husband likes this Rajma Masala with plain steamed rice, while I prefer it with rotis, parathas or pooris. These pickled onions are just the perfect accompaniment to it, I think.

The next time you consider making Rajma Masala, I hope you will try out this pressure cooker version. Do share your feedback!

Let’s now check out the recipe for Pressure Cooker Rajma Masala.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  1. 1 cup Kashmiri rajma (small red kidney beans)
  2. 1 tablespoon oil
  3. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  4. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  5. 4 large tomatoes
  6. 5-6 cloves of garlic
  7. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  8. 1 large onion
  9. Salt to taste
  10. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  11. Red chilli powder to taste
  12. 1 tablespoon chana masala or to taste
  13. 1 tablespoon jaggery powder or to taste (optional)
  14. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander

Method:

1. Soak the rajma for 8-10 hours or overnight, in enough water to cover it.

2. When the rajma is done soaking, drain out all the water from it. Transfer the soaked rajma to a wide vessel and add in just enough fresh water to cover it. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker. Pressure cook on high flame for about 5 whistles or till the rajma is cooked through. Let the pressure release naturally.

3. Chop the tomatoes roughly. Peel the ginger and chop roughly. Peel the garlic cloves. Grind the tomatoes, ginger and garlic to a fine puree without adding any water. Keep aside.

4. Chop the onion finely. Keep aside.

5. When the pressure from the cooker has entirely gone down, get the cooked rajma out. Retain the water it was cooked in.

6. Dry the pressure cooker you used to cook the rajma. Heat the oil in it. Add in the cumin seeds and asafoetida. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds.

7. Add the chopped onions to the cooker. Cook on medium flame till they start turning brown.

8. Add the tomato-ginger-garlic puree to the cooker, along with a little salt. Cook on medium flame till the puree loses its raw smell. This should take 3-4 minutes. You will need to stir intermittently.

9. Now, add the cooked rajma, along with the water it was cooked in. Add salt to taste, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, chana masala and jaggery powder (if using). If you feel the gravy is too thick, you can add in a bit of water at this stage. Mix well.

10. When the rajma begins to simmer, close the pressure cooker and put the weight on. Pressure cook on high flame for 3 whistles. Let the pressure release naturally.

11. When the pressure has gone down completely, stir the Rajma Masala gently. Sprinkle chopped coriander over the Rajma Masala. Serve hot.

Notes:

1. Adjust the time for pressure cooking depending upon the type of rajma you use. Different types of rajma take different times to cook, as do different makes of pressure cookers. I use the small Kashmiri rajma from Popular Essentials, and make this in a 5-litre pressure cooker. The above cooking times are just perfect for me.

2. Make sure the rajma is well cooked, but not mushy, when you pressure cook it for the first time. Only then you should add it to the onion and tomato gravy and cook it further.

3. Kitchen King Masala, garam masala or rajma masala can be used in place of chana masala. I love using chana masala in this recipe.

4. If the Rajma Masala turns out a little watery, you can simmer it for a bit after the pressure has gone down fully.

5. You can add in a bit of amchoor powder or lemon juice to the Rajma Masala for extra tanginess. Alternatively, you can mix in a little curd into the Rajma Masala, at the very end. I don’t use any of these ingredients typically.

6. You can mix in a little cream and/or crushed kasoori methi after the Rajma Masala is done. I usually omit the cream, and add the kasoori methi once in a while.

7. Ghee or butter can be used for the tempering in the Rajma Masala, instead of oil.

8. You can add the tempering at the very end too, after the Rajma Masala is fully cooked and ready.

9. You can make the Rajma Masala in a pan too. I prefer making it in a pressure cooker as it is easier and the flavours get better absorbed this way.

10. Skip the onions, ginger and garlic if you plan to make a Jain version of this Rajma Masala.

11. You can also grind the onion along with the tomatoes, ginger and garlic, to a puree. I sometimes use chopped onion in Rajma Masala, and sometimes puree it with the tomatoes. Both methods yield an equally delicious outcome.

12. Country (nati) tomatoes work best in this recipe. They add a lovely tart flavour to the Rajma Masala.

13. Whole spices like bay leaf, cinnamon, cloves and dry red chillies can be used in the tempering. I prefer keeping my Rajma Masala really simple, though, and using only cumin in the tempering.

14. Using the jaggery powder is optional, but I would highly recommend it. It doesn’t make the Rajma Masala sweet, but helps round out the other flavours beautifully.

15. This is a completely plant-based, vegan and vegetarian recipe. It can be easily made gluten-free as well, if you only omit the asafoetida used in the tempering and use chana masala that is free of any ingredients that include gluten.

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

I’m sending this recipe to My Legume Love Affair #129. This is a monthly event started by Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook, the legacy carried forward for a long time by Lisa of Lisa’s Kitchen. This month, My Legume Love Affair is being hosted by Seduce Your Tastebuds.

I’m also linking this recipe to Fiesta Friday #281. Do hop over to see the other interesting recipes there!

Quick Pickled Onions| Pickled Red Onions

Pickled onions are an important constituent of a meal in a few parts of India, especially so in the north. One cannot imagine a meal of, say, butter naan or roomali roti with palak paneer or paneer butter masala without some pickled onions on the side. These onions, however, are pickled in vinegar to impart a delicious tang to them and to increase their shelf life. Today, I bring to you our family’s simple recipe for Quick Pickled Onions, red onions soaked in lemon juice instead of vinegar, and every bit as delicious.

These natural Quick Pickled Onions or Pickled Red Onions are one of my all-time favourites. Especially during the hot days of summer, I love tucking into a plate of curd rice with this simple pickle. Oh, yes, they do make a wonderful, wonderful pair! My little one loves these onions just as much as I do.

Mom has been making these Quick Pickled Onions for ages now, and I grew up with them. It never occurred to me to put out a recipe for these onions on my blog – wasn’t it something that everyone everywhere already knows about and does? No, as it turns out. Every single guest I have served this pickle to has raved about it, marvelled at its simplicity, but has claimed never to have sampled it before. So, after a long deliberation, here I am with our family ‘recipe’ for Quick Pickled Onions or Pickled Red Onions.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  1. 2 medium-sized red onions
  2. Salt to taste
  3. Juice of 1 lemon

Method:

1. Peel the onions and chop them finely.

2. Take the chopped onion in a bowl. Add salt to taste and the lemon juice. Mix well.

3. Let the pickle rest, covered, for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Notes:

1. I prefer using big red onions in the making of this pickle. However, you can even use the small ones, also called sambar onions.

2. I use rock salt to make this pickle.

3. Make sure all the hard parts of the onion are removed.

4. I prefer chopping the onions finely for this pickle. You can even chop them length-wise if you so prefer.

5. It is important to let the pickle sit for at least 30 minutes, for the onions to soak and absorb the salt and lemon juice.

6. I typically make this pickle in the morning and we finish it over the course of the day. I think it can be stored, refrigerated, for a day more. Any more than that, and the smell begins to get too strong.

7. These Quick Pickled Onions make for a lovely accompaniment to curd rice. They can also make a wonderful side for a full-fledged thali meal or parathas, or be used as a topping on pizza, burgers, rolls and the like.

8. You may add one or more green chillies to the pickle, if you want to. We don’t.

If you have never tried this out before too, please do. I’d love to know how you liked it!

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I’m sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #280. The co-host this week is Ai @ Ai Made It For You.

Instant Ragi Kuzhi Paniyaram| Healthy Finger Millet Snack

I’m sure all of us are aware of the many health benefits contained in ragi aka finger millet. I myself have waxed eloquent on this subject several times over, on this blog. Rich in fibre, iron and calcium, among other nutrients, low in calories and easily digestible, ragi is an excellent food for weight-watchers, healthy eaters and diabetics, as well as babies, toddlers and growing children. Today, I present to you the recipe for a delicious, healthy snack made using ragi – Instant Ragi Kuzhi Paniyaram.

Roasted ragi porridge was the very first food we fed the bub, when she was ready to take solids. She still eats the porridge for breakfast every once in a while. I, however, didn’t grow up consuming ragi, and was not very fond of it per se, to be honest. Life in Bangalore and parenting acquainted me with the many delicious things that can be made using ragi, and I am now quite in love with some of the dishes we use it in at home often. This Instant Ragi Kuzhi Paniyaram, for instance.

With the sour buttermilk, curry leaves and green chillies that go into them, these Instant Ragi Kuzhi Paniyaram are supremely delicious. They are quite easy to make too, and make for just the perfect snack when you are looking for something healthy but delish and filling.

This dish can be easily be made gluten-free too, if you only skip the asafoetida used in the tempering.

Check out the recipe for the Instant Ragi Kuzhi Paniyaram!

Ingredients (makes about 28 pieces):

  1. 2 cups ragi (finger millet) flour
  2. 4 tablespoons rice flour
  3. Salt to taste
  4. 1 cup sour curd
  5. 2-4 green chillies
  6. A handful of curry leaves
  7. About 2 teaspoons Eno Fruit Salt
  8. 1 teaspoon oil + more as needed to make the paniyaram
  9. 2 pinches asafoetida
  10. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds

Method:

1. Take the ragi flour in a large mixing bowl. Add in the rice flour, salt to taste and sour curd.

2. Chop the green chillies into large pieces and add to the mixing bowl.

3. Tear the curry leaves roughly with your hands and add them to the mixing bowl too.

4. Heat the oil in a small pan, and add in the mustard. Let it sputter. Add the asafoetida and let it stay in for a couple of seconds. Add this tempering to the mixing bowl.

5. Mix the contents of the bowl well to a thick batter, similar to idli batter. You may add a bit of water while mixing. Ensure that there are no lumps in the batter.

6. Heat up a paniyaram pan on high flame, and add some oil in each of the cavities.

7. You will be making the paniyaram in four batches or so. Take the batter for the first batch in a separate bowl, and add in about 1/2 teaspoon Eno. Mix well. Pour the batter into the greased cavities of the paniyaram pan, till about 3/4. Cook covered on medium heat for 2-3 minutes or until they fluff up into balls and are well done on the bottom. Then, use a fork to turn the balls over. Drizzle a little oil around the balls and cook, covered, till they are done on the other side too – about 2 minutes. Transfer the cooked paniyaram to a serving plate.

8. Make paniyaram using the rest of the batter in the same way, in three more batches. Serve hot, with chutney of your choice.

Notes:

1. I have used store-bought ragi flour here.

2. For best results, use curd that is quite sour.

3. Add just enough water to make a thick batter. Too much water will make a runny batter, resulting in imperfect paniyaram.

4. Add 1/2 teaspoon of Eno Fruit Salt in each batch of the batter, just before it goes into the paniyaram pan. This is critical. Adding all the Eno at one go will not yield fluffy paniyaram.

5. Use 2 fresh packets of Eno Fruit Salt, for best results. Do not use old packets.

6. Use regular, unflavoured Eno Fruit Salt.

7. Baking soda can be used in place of the Eno too. I have not tried it out yet, though.

8. Finely chopped onions and other veggies can be added to the paniyaram too. I haven’t.

9. I prefer cooking the paniyaram covered, so they are done evenly and are crisp on the outside.

10. I use ordinary refined oil in these Ragi Kuzhi Paniyaram.

11. I have a small pan that makes 7 paniyaram at a time. So I have divided the batter into four parts, cooking one batch at a time. If you have a larger pan, you can reduce the number of batches you cook the paniyaram in. Adjust the quantity of Eno you use accordingly, in that case.

12. A simple coconut chutney goes beautifully with these Ragi Kuzhi Paniyaram.

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This recipe is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop that I am part of. Every Monday, a group of us food bloggers get together to present recipes based on a pre-determined theme.

The theme this week is #RagiTales, suggested by Poonam of Annapurna. Poonam’s blog is something you must check out, for her very well-explained recipes from around the world. For the theme, we are all showcasing dishes made using the very versatile ragi aka finger millet.

I’m also sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #279. The co-hosts this week are Liz @ Spades, Spatulas & Spoons and Jenny @ Apply To Face Blog

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

Mawa Gulab Jamun Recipe| How To Make Gulab Jamun With Khoya

As much as I love everyday stove-top cooking, the making of Indian sweets is one thing that scares me. My mom is famous in the family circuit for the beautiful 7-Cup Barfis, Badam Barfi,Β Coconut Barfi and Gajar Halwa that she turns out, among many other delectable desserts, but I have always shied away from these. The making of traditional, Indian sweet dishes is a task that daunts me to no end. On festival days or when we have guests over, I stick to making a simple fusion dessert or taking the safe way out with Sakkarai Pongal or Payasam. This is a barrier I had to break, and I did just that with this Mawa Gulab Jamun recipe, recently.

My little daughter is a big fan of gulab jamun, just as everyone else in my family is. After all, who wouldn’t love these balls of bliss, soaked to perfection in sugar syrup? After beginning to conquer my fears with regards to baking, it made sense to start doing the same with a traditional Indian sweet that the bub loved – Gulab Jamun. So, one fine day last week, Amma and I stood side by side in my kitchen making gulab jamuns from scratch with khoya, she pouring out her years of expertise on the subject, me soaking it all in, taking mental notes and making the dessert under her watchful eye. The results were spectacular, I must say, and the gulab jamun went on to be devoured the very same day. The eating proved that this particular pudding was done just right.

That said, I am amazed at how much of that fear was all in my head. Making gulab jamuns from scratch was not at all the hugely difficult task I had thought it would be. It needs patience, yes, but it is also one of the easiest of Indian sweets to conquer. The tricks here are to be gentle with the mixing and do the frying right, and the rest automatically falls into place. I’m so very glad I did this, and hope my lucky stretch continues with the other, tougher Indian desserts that I plan to try out soon.

There are a few different ways to make gulab jamun, one of them being with khoya or mawa. Khoya refers to the milk solids that are left over after cooking milk on the stovetop for a long, long time. Considering how much of a time-consuming process the making of khoya is, we resorted to a store-bought version. A mix of maida and fine sooji has been used here to bind the jamuns, and you can use either.

Come, let me show you how to make gulab jamun with khoya, a la Amma. Here’s presenting the Mawa Gulab Jamun recipe!

Ingredients (makes about 22 small pieces):

  1. 200 grams khoya aka mawa
  2. 2 tablespoons fine sooji aka semolina or rava
  3. 2 tablespoons maida
  4. 1 tablespoon warm milk or as needed
  5. Oil as needed for deep-frying
  6. 1-1/2 cups sugar
  7. 2 cups water
  8. 1/2 teaspoon rose essence (optional)
  9. 1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder

Method:

1. Take the khoya in a large mixing bowl. Crumble it gently, using your hands. Alternatively, you may grate it.

2. Add the sooji and the maida to the mixing bowl. Mix together gently.

3. Add just enough warm milk as needed to bring the mixture to a dough-like consistency.

4. Heat oil as needed for deep frying, in a pan. Meanwhile, keep the dough covered.

5. Simultaneously, take the water in another pan, add the sugar to it, and place on high flame. Allow the sugar to get completely dissolved in the water. Cook on medium heat till the sugar syrup attains half-thread consistency or till it thickens a little. Switch off gas. Add the rose essence (if using) and cardamom powder to the syrup. Mix well. The syrup for soaking the gulab jamuns is ready. Keep aside.

6. When the oil is nice and hot, reduce flame to medium. Greasing your palms with a little oil, make small balls out of the dough we prepared earlier. Deep fry these balls in the hot oil till brown on the outside, about four at a time, taking care not to burn them.

7. As soon as one batch of the balls are fried and ready, drop them into the sugar syrup. Let them sit undisturbed and soak in the syrup. Continue till all the balls are soaked in syrup.

8. Serve the gulab jamun hot or after allowing them to soak for a few hours. Store the unused ones at room temperature, in a clean, dry, air-tight box.

Notes:

1. Make sure the khoya is at room temperature when you begin to make the gulab jamun.

2. Use great-quality khoya from a known source, for best results. I used Milky Mist khoya, which is entirely made using milk solids, with no added flavouring agents or preservatives.

3. Make sure you prepare the ‘dough’ for the gulab jamun using very gentle hands. Gather the ingredients together, using gentle, light movements, rather than kneading them together. This is imperative for getting soft, melt-in-the-mouth gulab jamuns.

4. I have used a mix of fine sooji (aka semolina or rava) and maida in this Mawa Gulab Jamun recipe. You can skip either of these ingredients – just increase the quantity of the other ingredient you are using, in that case.

5. Make sure you fry the gulab jamuns at medium heat. This will help them get evenly cooked, on the inside and the outside. Cooking them on high heat will turn them brown on the outside, but keep them raw inside.

6. You can fry the gulab jamuns in ghee instead of oil. I have used ordinary refined oil here.

7. Do not crowd the pan, while frying the gulab jamun. Fry them in batches, a few at a time. Drop them in the sugar syrup immediately.

8. Make sure the gulab jamuns are not crowded while they are soaking in the syrup. Use a large pan to soak them.

9. Do not overcook the sugar syrup. Stop cooking when the syrup is slightly thick or has attained half-thread consistency.

10. You can skip using the rose essence in the syrup. Real rose petals can be added instead – make sure you use clean, organic, sweet-smelling flowers in that case.

11. Use warm – not hot – milk to bind the ingredients for the gulab jamun. Make sure you use just as much as needed. The dough should be just right to roll into balls and not too sticky or watery.

12. In case the dough gets a bit sticky, you can use a little more fine sooji or maida to adjust it.

13. Use only fine sooji in the Mawa Gulab Jamun recipe, if you are using it at all. Do not use the larger, grainier variety.

14. I have kept the gulab jamun small here, but you could make them bigger as well. Remember that they increase in size further on soaking.

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Foodie Monday Blog HopI’m sharing this recipe with the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. Every Monday, a group of us food bloggers get together and share recipes based on a pre-determined theme. The theme this Monday is #EidWithFoodies, wherein we are all presenting dishes for the festival of Eid that is just around the corner. I thought this Mawa Gulab Jamun recipe was just perfect for the season.

I’m also sharing this post with Fiesta Friday #278.

Pasi Parippu Kosumalli|Simple South Indian Lentil Salad

Best wishes for Sri Rama Navami!

Today, I present to you the recipe for Pasi Parippu Kosumalli, a simple South Indian-style lentil salad. This mildly spiced salad is extremely delicious and healthy, and is a breeze to put together. A dish that is traditionally prepared in Tamilian households on the occasion of Sri Rama Navami, this cooling salad is just perfect to beat the summer heat that is soaring by the day.

Pasi Parippu Kosumalli is also quite commonly prepared in Karnataka. On the day of Rama Navami, you will come across make-shift stalls on the roadsides in Bangalore, handing out leaf bowls full of this kosumalli (‘kosambari‘ in Kannada) and disposable glasses of neer more (‘majjige‘ in the local language) and panagam (‘panaka‘ in Kannada).

I have fond memories of watching my grandmother preparing a big bowl full of this beautiful salad on Rama Navami, for the entire extended family. My mom continued the tradition after her, and she passed on the recipe to me too. All those memories came flooding back as I prepared a bowl of Pasi Parippu Kosumalli this morning. My little one munched on it delightfully, amidst tales of how ‘Rama Umachi‘s (God) birthday came to be. πŸ™‚

This is a gluten-free preparation that can be made vegan if you skip the asafoetida used in the tempering. If you skip the tempering altogether, this becomes a no-cook recipe, perfect for a raw food diet. The split moong daal that goes into it makes this salad full of protein, the carrot and cucumber adding to its nutritional value.

Let’s now check out the recipe for this Pasi Parippu Kosumalli.

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

  1. 1/2 cup split moong daal (pasi parippu)
  2. 1 medium-sized carrot
  3. 1 medium-sized seedless cucumber (vellarikkai)
  4. 3-4 green chillies or as per taste (paccha milagai)
  5. Salt to taste
  6. Juice of 1/2 lemon or to taste
  7. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander
  8. 1/4 cup fresh grated coconut (thengai)
  9. 1 tablespoon oil (ennai)
  10. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds (kadugu)
  11. 1 sprig curry leaves (karuveppilai)
  12. 2 generous pinches of asafoetida (perungayam)

Method:

  1. Wash the moong daal well under running water, a couple of times, draining out all the water each time. Then, add in enough fresh water to cover the daal, and let it soak for 1-2 hours.
  2. When the moong daal is done soaking, drain out all the water from it. Place the soaked moong daal in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Chop the cucumber finely. Add to the mixing bowl.
  4. Peel the carrot and grate it medium-thick. Add to the mixing bowl.
  5. Add the fresh grated coconut to the mixing bowl, along with the finely chopped coriander.
  6. Now, we will prepare the tempering for the salad. Slit the green chillies length-wise, and keep them ready. Heat the oil in a small pan. Add in the mustard, and allow it to sputter. Turn the flame to low. Add the asafoetida, curry leaves and slit green chillies – allow them to stay in for a couple of seconds. Ensure that the tempering does not burn. Add this tempering to the salad in the mixing bowl.
  7. Add in salt to taste and lemon juice to the salad. Mix well. Serve immediately.

Notes:

  1. 1-2 hours of soaking makes the moong daal soft and adds flavour to the salad. However, if you are in a hurry, about 30 minutes of soaking also works.
  2. Pomegranate arils and grated raw mango can also be added to the Pasi Parippu Kosumalli. I have kept it very basic, and skipped these two ingredients.
  3. Adjust the quantity of salt, lemon juice, green chillies and coconut as per personal taste preferences.
  4. Add the salt at the very end. The salad will start leaving water once you add salt, so do not let it sit for too long after salt is added.
  5. For best results, use ‘European’ or ‘English’ cucumbers that have very few seeds. These are also called ‘seedless cucumbers’.

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

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I’m sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #271. Ai @ Ai Made It For You is the co-host this week.

I’m also submitting this recipe to the 127th edition of My Legume Love Affair (MLLA), a monthly event that celebrates legumes. This event was started by Lisa of Lisa’s Kitchen and Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook. This month, MLLA is being hosted by Amrita of Motions And Emotions.

Pressure Cooker Baingan Bharta| Indian Spiced Eggplant Mash

For many, I am sure the name ‘Baingan Bharta‘ conjures up images of slow-cooked, delicious, hearty meals, often prepared by a loving mother or a doting grandmother. Baingan Bharta or eggplant mash made the Indian way is comfort food for a whole lot of locals. It is, for me too, but the smell I associate with Baingan Bharta is different from the usual.

Let me explain. Baingan Bharta is typically cooked by char-grilling a large eggplant on the stove till the skin blackens and the flesh within starts falling apart. The skin is then peeled away, and the flesh mashed and cooked in a pan, with various spices added to it. A smoky flavour permeates the dish, thanks to the char-grilling. This ‘smokiness’ is what most people look forward to, in a dish of Baingan Bharta. My version, which I learnt from my mom, does away with the char-grilling – here, the eggplant is cooked in a pressure cooker, then mashed and again cooked on the stovetop. There is no smoky flavour in our Pressure Cooker Baingan Bharta, but let me assure you that it is equally delicious.

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The pressure cooker method is faster and a whole lot less messy than the char-grilling method. It does not leave you with a messy stove that takes ages to clean up, afterwards. Also, since you cut upon the eggplant before pressure cooking it, you can always check for worms (they do have a way of getting in, in spite of no visible holes in the vegetable – eeks!). If you are not a fan of the ‘smokiness’, like the husband, this pressure cooker method works beautifully. Even if you do, do try out this version too – the result is so finger-licking delish that I’m sure you will like this as well. πŸ™‚

Amma‘s secret ingredient in this Pressure Cooker is a wee bit of tamarind paste. It adds a whole lot of flavour to the dish – trust me on that! Purists can baulk all they want, but I will continue to love this method just as much. I grew up with this, after all. Now, this reigns supreme in my household, too.

Enough said. Let’s now check out the recipe, shall we?

Ingredients (serves 4-5):

  1. 1 large purple eggplant
  2. 6 medium-sized tomatoes
  3. 2 medium-sized onions
  4. 6-7 cloves of garlic
  5. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  6. A small piece of tamarind (optional)
  7. 2 tablespoons oil
  8. 2 generous pinches of asafoetida (hing)
  9. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)
  10. Salt to taste
  11. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  12. About 3/4 tablespoon garam masala or to taste
  13. Red chilli powder to taste
  14. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander
  15. Salted butter as needed, to garnish (optional)

Method:

  1. Chop off the stem of the eggplant and peel it. Chop into large pieces.
  2. Take the chopped eggplant in a wide vessel and add in about 1/2 cup of water. Add a little salt. Place the vessel in the pressure cooker. Pressure cook for 4 whistles. Let the pressure release naturally.
  3. Meanwhile, peel the ginger, garlic and onion. Chop the garlic and onion finely. Grate the ginger finely. Keep aside.
  4. Chop the tomatoes finely. Keep aside.
  5. Soak the tamarind (if using) in a little hot water for about 10 minutes. When cool enough to handle, extract a thick paste from the tamarind. Keep aside.
  6. When the pressure in the cooker has gone down entirely, open it and get the cooked eggplant out. Discard the water the eggplant was cooked in. Mash the cooked eggplant using a masher, and keep ready.
  7. Heat oil in a pan. Add in the cumin seeds and the asafoetida. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds.
  8. Add the chopped onions to the pan. Saute on medium flame till the onions begin to change colour.
  9. Add the grated ginger, chopped garlic and tomatoes to the pan. Cook on medium flame till the tomatoes turn mushy, about 2 minutes.
  10. Now, add the mashed eggplant, salt and red chilli powder to taste, turmeric powder, garam masala and the tamarind paste (if using). Mix well.
  11. Stirring intermittently, cook on medium flame for 4-5 minutes or till the mixture comes together well.
  12. Switch off gas. Mix in the finely chopped coriander. Your Pressure Cooker Baingan Bharta is done! Serve hot or at room temperature, garnished with slivers of salted butter, alongside rotis, parathas or dosas. Baingan Bharta goes especially well with makke di roti aka rotis made using cornmeal flour.

Notes:

  1. For best results, use a fresh eggplant that is firm, with shiny and non-wrinkled skin. Make sure the eggplant has no holes in it, while you buy it – holes might indicate the entry of worms.
  2. Buy an eggplant that is light in weight in spite of its large size. This usually indicates that it will have fewer seeds and, hence, well suited to the making of Baingan Bharta.
  3. You may choose to add in the water in which the eggplant was cooked, too. In that case, you will have to cook the Baingan Bharta a little longer, till all the water is absorbed.
  4. I use ordinary refined oil to make this Pressure Cooker Baingan Bharta. Some people use mustard oil or ghee instead.
  5. I use country (nati) tomatoes in this Indian Spiced Eggplant Mash, which are more sour than farm-grown ones. If they are sour enough, you can avoid using the tamarind altogether. I usually add both the tomatoes and the tamarind, since we like our Baingan Bharta to be tangier than usual.
  6. Use only a very small piece of tamarind to sour the Baingan Bharta. You may use lemon juice as needed, instead, too.
  7. Chana masala or a mix of coriander powder and roasted cumin powder can be used in place of garam masala.
  8. Make sure the eggplant is cooked well before mashing it and adding it to the pan. Cooking times might vary depending upon the water used, size of the eggplant, and make of the cooker. For us, 4 whistles works perfectly.
  9. Adjust the quantity of salt, garam masala and red chilli powder, as per personal taste preferences.
  10. If you do not plan to use the Pressure Cooker Baingan Bharta immediately, allow it to cool down completely and then store it in a clean, dry, air-tight container, refrigerated. This way, it stays for 4-5 days.
  11. We typically eat Baingan Bharta with rotis, parathas or dosas. However, you can also use it as a dip for crackers or as a sandwich spread.
  12. My mom uses a whole lot of oil in making this dish – she says this is one of those dishes that tastes best when cooked in a lot of oil. I disagree. πŸ˜› I stick to about 2 tablespoons of oil while making this, and it still tastes equally delicious! Mom also prefers avoiding the garam masala, keeping the Baingan Bharta very basic – using just salt, turmeric powder and red chilli powder. I like adding either chana masala or garam masala – we prefer it this way.

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

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A to Z Recipe Challenge

This post is for the A-Z Recipe Challenge. The challenge was initiated on a Facebook Group, wherein a group of bloggers come together and we choose key ingredients alphabetically to cook and post a dish every alternate month. This month’s Alphabet is β€˜E’ and I decided to use ‘Eggplants’ as my star ingredient.

I’m also sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #257. The co-hosts this week are Suzanne @ Frugal Hausfraualupinthekitchen and Kat @ Kat’s 9 Lives.

Eggless Steamed Christmas Pudding| Steamed Fruit Cake

It’s almost Christmas! I absolutely have to share this Christmas-sy recipe with you – one for an Eggless Steamed Christmas Pudding!

Bangalore is extremely beautiful right now. There’s a nip in the air, the weather just gorgeous, the diffused light perfect for photographs. Big Christmas trees, Santa Claus cut-outs, reindeer, red and green bobbles, lanterns, silver snowflakes and golden stars are everywhere. Plum cakes and other Christmas treats have started making an appearance in the bakeries of the city. There are Christmas tree lighting ceremonies and Christmas-special menus galore. Little and big shops, homes, and shopping malls (and food bloggers too!) are getting ready to usher in Christmas.

Our humble little Christmas tree is all set up, but we are yet to decorate it. That will be an afternoon project for the bub and me, one of these days. Did I tell you that the bub’s year-end holidays have started? She is already running amok in the house, wreaking havoc. πŸ˜› This Eggless Steamed Christmas Pudding was prepared with her in tow, over the weekend, to keep her from getting into too much trouble. πŸ˜€ Well, I can’t say the pudding served its intended purpose, but I did have loads of fun making it! Also, it did turn out absolutely delicious, a sweet treat just perfect for the holiday season! You can make a sauce to go with this pudding if you want, but you don’t really need one – just dust it with powdered sugar, and it turns into one stunner of a looker!

What do I say about this pudding? The name says it all. It is an eggless dessert, a steamed one made in a pressure cooker. It contains loads of fruit and nuts, cinnamon and cloves, like a Christmas fruit cake. Texture-wise, this is less dense than a fruit cake, a bit softer. Taste-wise, this is an almost-fruit cake.

If you are looking for something different, yet awesome to make for the Christmas season, do try this Eggless Steamed Christmas Pudding out. The process is a bit time-consuming, but I wouldn’t call it laborious. Put the pudding in the cooker to steam, turn the flame to low, and you don’t need to hover around the stove-top. Not really. The end result is totally, totally worth it, I can assure you of that.

Now, without further ado, let’s check out the recipe for this Eggless Steamed Christmas Pudding.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Lite Bite

Ingredients (makes 1 medium-sized pudding, serves 8-10):

  1. 2-1/2 cups of mixed fruits and nuts
  2. Juice of 2 oranges
  3. 1-1/4 cup demerera sugar
  4. 1 cup maida
  5. 1 cup bread crumbs
  6. 4 cloves
  7. A 1/2-inch piece of cinnamon
  8. A small piece of nutmeg
  9. A pinch of salt
  10. 1 tablespoon oil
  11. 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
  12. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  13. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  14. A little butter, to grease the pudding mould

Method:

1. Chop all the nuts (like cashews, almonds) you are using into small bits. Similarly, chop the candied fruit (like oranges, ginger, kiwi, pineapple) into small pieces. If you are using fresh apples, grate them medium-fine. Take all the prepared fruit and nuts in a bowl.

2. Squeeze the juice out of the 2 oranges. Pour this over the prepared fruit and nuts in the bowl. Cover and let the fruit and nuts soak for 20-30 minutes at room temperature.

3. Pound the cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg using a mortar and pestle. Powder them together in a small mixer. Keep aside.

4. In a large mixing bowl, place the maida, bread crumbs, salt, the cinnamon-cloves-nutmeg powder, the baking powder and baking soda. Mix together. Keep aside – these are the dry ingredients for the pudding.

5. Place the demerera sugar in a pan, and place it on high heat. When the pan gets hot, reduce the flame to low. Wait till the sugar is dissolved, and switch off the flame – don’t cook the sugar for too long, otherwise it will turn hard. Immediately, pour 1/2 cup of room-temperature water into the sugar and mix well. You should get a dark brown caramel syrup.

6. Pour the caramel syrup into the fruit and nuts, once they are done soaking. Add the oil and the vanilla essence to it, and mix well – these are the wet ingredients for the pudding.

7. Add the wet ingredients little by little to the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl. Mix well, ensuring that all the wet and dry ingredients are thoroughly incorporated together. The batter should be thick, and not very runny.

8. Grease a medium-sized vessel or pudding mould with a little butter. Pour the batter you prepared (in the step above) into the greased mould/vessel. Cover the mould/vessel with aluminium foil, and secure it with a piece of string. Keep ready.

9. Take 10 cups of water in a pressure cooker bottom. Place it on high heat and allow the water to come to a boil. Place the covered pudding mould/vessel with the batter (which we prepared in the step above) into the water. Cover the pressure cooker with the lid, and turn the flame down to low-medium.

10. Let the pudding cook on low-medium heat for 2 hours. It is ready when a knife or toothpick inserted into the centre of the pudding comes out clean. You can serve this Eggless Steamed Christmas Pudding warm or at room temperature, dusted with some powdered sugar.

Notes:

1. The mixed fruits and nuts should come to roughly 500 grams. I used one apple (grated), 50 grams of broken cashewnuts, 50 grams of black currants, 100 grams of raisins, 100 grams of candied oranges, 100 grams of candied pineapple and a few chunks of candied ginger.

2. You can use any odourless oil to make this Eggless Steamed Christmas Pudding. I used refined sunflower oil.

3. You can use ordinary white sugar to make the caramel here, instead of the demerera sugar. However, demerera sugar adds a lovely dark brown colour and a beautiful flavour to the pudding, so I would suggest you use that instead.

4. Make sure you don’t burn the sugar while making the caramel. Keep the pan on low heat, and switch off the gas as soon as the sugar dissolves. Add water immediately. If these steps are not done correctly, the sugar might become too hard, making it difficult to prepare the caramel.

5. Stand away while pouring water over the dissolved sugar. It sputters.

6. You can use any permutations and combinations of fruits and nuts, while making this Eggless Steamed Christmas Pudding. However, I would suggest you not miss out on the candied orange and ginger, grated apple, cashewnuts and black currants, for it is these ingredients that add a lovely touch to the pudding. Bananas, candied mixed fruit peel, cranberries, dates, cherries, candied kiwi, slivered almonds, etc. are some other things you might use.

7. Ensure that you place adequate water (10 cups) in the bottom of the pressure cooker while steaming the pudding. Keep checking at intervals, and refreshing the water in case you find it has come down.

8. The time that this pudding needs to get completely steamed would differ, depending upon the make of the cooker and ingredients used. Keep checking after 1-1/2 hours (by inserting a toothpick in the centre of the pudding – it should come out clean), and steam till fully done. Mine took exactly 2 hours to get done entirely.

9. Cover the pudding mould securely with a sheet of aluminium foil, and tie a piece of string around it. This will prevent any water from getting into the pudding.

10. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can use any large vessel or pan with a lid to steam the pudding.

11. Allow some space for the pudding to rise, in the mould that you use. I didn’t have a pudding mould, so I used an ordinary steel vessel for the steaming.

12. I have not tried making this Eggless Steamed Christmas Pudding with whole wheat flour yet, but I think it should be doable.

13. I have used store-bought bread crumbs here. You may make the bread crumbs at home, instead, too – just pulse 6-8 slices of day-old bread in the mixer till you get crumbs.

14. Make sure you steam the pudding on a low flame, to ensure even cooking.

15. You can soak the fruits and nuts in the orange juice a day in advance, before you make this pudding. In that case, take the fruits and nuts in a bowl, pour the orange juice over them, and allow them to soak in the refrigerator, covered. I just allowed the fruits and nuts to soak for about 30 minutes, before I started making the pudding.

16. Once the pudding is completely steamed and ready, set it aside for 20-30 minutes before unmoulding and slicing it.

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

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Foodie Monday Blog Hop

This post is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. The theme for the week is ‘#ChristmasSpecial Recipes’.

I’m sending this recipe for Fiesta Friday #254. The co-hosts this week are Antonia @ Zoale.com and Kat @ Kat’s 9 Lives.