Vegetarian Thukpa| Tibetan/North Eastern Vegetarian Noodle Soup 

This month, the theme for the Shhhhh Cooking Secretly Facebook group that I am part of is ‘cuisine from Arunachal Pradesh’. I was teamed up with Sharanya Palanisshamy, who blogs at Sara’s Tasty Buds,  for the challenge. My partner gave me two ingredients to build a recipe on – chilli sauce and ginger – which I decided to use to make Vegetarian Thukpa, a kind of noodle soup.

The thukpa is actually a dish of Tibetan origin, but some research on the Internet told me that it is quite popular in Arunachal Pradesh, too. I found several variations to the recipe on the Internet and, in the end, went ahead with making it the way I have seen it being done at street food stalls here in Bangalore.

Whether the recipe is authentic or not, I’m not sure (I’d love some validation on that!). What I can say for sure is that the thukpa turned out absolutely delish, and we loved it to bits. It made for a hearty lunch for the husband and me, a lovely change from the usual. It’s the perfect thing to make right now, considering the chilly weather in Bangalore presently. All in all, I’m glad I’m a little closer to the cuisine of Arunachal Pradesh today than I used to be earlier.

Here’s how I made the thukpa.
Ingredients (makes 2 servings):

  1. 75 grams flat rice noodles
  2. Salt, to taste
  3. Sweet red chilli sauce, to taste (I use Thai Herirage)
  4. 1 teaspoon garam masala
  5. Soya sauce, to taste (I use Thai Heritage)
  6. A small piece of cabbage
  7. A small carrot
  8. 1 small capsicum
  9. 1/4 cup shelled green peas
  10. 1 small onion
  11. 1/4 cup sweet corn, shelled
  12. A few stalks of fresh coriander
  13. 4 cloves of garlic
  14. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  15. 2 cups vegetable stock, or as needed
  16. Juice of 1/2 lemon, or as per taste
  17. 1 teaspoon + 1 teaspoon of oil

Method:

1. Take the noodles in a heavy-bottomed vessel, and add just enough water to cover them. Add a bit of salt and 1 teaspoon oil. Let cook on high flame till the noodles are done, but not overly mushy. Transfer to a colander, and run cold water over the noodles immediately. Keep aside, and let all the excess water drain out.

2. Peel the ginger and garlic and chop finely. Crush coarsely, using a mortar and pestle. Keep aside.

3. Prep the veggies you will need for the thukpa. Finely chop the carrot, cabbage, capsicum and onion. Steam the sweet corn for a minute and drain out the excess water. Keep aside.

4. Finely chop the coriander, and keep aside. We will be using it for garnishing.

5. Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the chopped onion, cabbage, capsicum and carrot, as well as the shelled green peas and steamed corn. Add the crushed ginger and garlic. Add salt to taste. Cook on medium flame till the veggies are cooked, but still retain a bit of a crunch.

6. Add vegetable stock as needed, as well as red chilli sauce and soya sauce as needed. Add the cooked noodles. Mix well.

7. Cook on low-medium flame for a couple of minutes. Switch off gas.

8. Add lemon juice to taste and finely chopped coriander. Mix well. Serve immediately.

Notes:

1. Plain water can be used in place of vegetable stock. In that case, if you want to thicken the soup, add in a little corn flour or wheat flour mixed with a bit of water, and let simmer for a couple of minutes.

2. For a spicier version, use green chilli sauce to taste, in place of sweet chilli sauce.

3. You can add in any vegetables of your choice – beans, cauliflower, broccoli, etc. I used the veggies that I had in stock, to make the thukpa.

4. You can use any kind of noodles of your choice. I have used flat Thai-style rice noodles here.

5. Daal water can be used in place of vegetable stock. You may even add a dash of tomato puree for flavour.

You like? I hope you will try out this recipe for vegetarian thukpa too, and that you will love it as much as we did! 

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Khao Phad| Vegetarian Thai Fried Rice

We are big fans of Thai food, the husband and I. We love how the cuisine uses very simple, earthy ingredients to create dishes that are so very flavourful. We love the way different flavours like sweet, sour and spicy meld together so beautifully in Thai cuisine.

The ingredients used in Thai and Indian cuisine are not all that different, and I have been able to replicate many of our favourite dishes at home. The husband and I enjoy knocking back a dish of Thai green curry with rice, a raw papaya salad or peanut noodles for lunch or dinner, a nice change from the usual. Recently, I tried my hands at making Khao Phad, vegetarian Thai fried rice, and it turned out wonderfully well. We have made it quite a few times since then, and it has become a house favourite.

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Like many other Thai dishes, Khao Phad is a medley of flavours – sweet and sour and spicy come together to create this wholesome dish. It isn’t very tough to make – once you prep up the ingredients, putting together this Thai fried rice is a matter of minutes.

I use ingredients commonly available in India – like Indian ginger in place of Thai galangal, red chilli powder in place of bird’s eye chillies, and Sona Masoori rice in place of Thai jasmine rice – and the result is still very close to the original Khao Phad we tasted in Thailand. You have to try this out to understand just how simple yet beautiful this dish is!

Here’s how I make the Khao Phad or Thai fried rice.

Ingredients (3-4 servings):

Vegetables to be prepped:

  1. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  2. 4-5 cloves of garlic
  3. A small piece of cabbage
  4. 1/4 cup shelled green peas
  5. 1/4 cup sweet corn
  6. 1 medium-sized onion
  7. 1 small capsicum
  8. 5-6 beans
  9. 1 small carrot
  10. 1 seedless cucumber

Other veggies used:

  1. 1 lemon or as per taste
  2. A few stalks of fresh coriander

Other ingredients:

  1. 1 cup rice (I used Sona Masoori)
  2. Salt, to taste
  3. Red chilli powder, to taste
  4. 2 tablespoons soya sauce or to taste (I used Thai Heritage)
  5. 2 tablespoons Sriracha sauce or to taste (I used Thai Heritage)
  6. 2 tablespoons demerera sugar/brown sugar (I used Eagle)
  7. 1/4 cup peanuts
  8. 1 tablespoon oil

Method:

  1. First, pressure cook the rice with 3 cups of water for 3 whistles. Let the pressure release entirely. Allow the rice to cool down completely, and then fluff it up gently. Keep aside.
  2. Dry roast the peanuts on medium flame till they get crisp. Allow them to cool down completely, and remove the skins. Now, coarsely pulse in a mixer for just about a second. Do not make a fine powder. Keep aside.
  3. Now, we will prep the veggies that will go into the fried rice. Peel the ginger and chop it very, very finely. Peel the garlic cloves and crush them coarsely, using a mortar and pestle. Chop the onion, beans (after removing strings) and cabbage finely. Peel the carrot and cucumber, and chop into batons. Cook the sweet corn for about 2 minutes in boiling water, and transfer to a colander to let all the excess water drain out. Slice the capsicum. Keep the veggies aside.
  4. Now, finely chop the coriander. Extract the juice from the lemon. Keep aside.
  5. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the onion, ginger, garlic, capsicum, peas, beans, corn, cabbage, carrot and cucumber. Add salt and red chilli powder to taste. Stir fry on medium heat till the vegetables are cooked, but not overly so. The veggies should retain a little crunch.
  6. Add in the cooked rice, soya sauce, Sriracha sauce, crushed peanuts and demerera sugar. Mix well, but gently.
  7. Let everything cook together for about 2 minutes, stirring intermittently. Add more salt and/or red chilli powder if needed.
  8. When everything is well integrated together, switch off gas. Add in the lemon juice and finely chopped coriander. Mix well. Serve piping hot.

Notes:

  1. Traditionally, jasmine rice is used to prepare Thai fried rice. I didn’t have any, so I have used Indian Sona Masoori rice instead.
  2. For plain steamed rice, I use about 3.75 cups of water per cup of rice. For fried rice, I have reduced the quantity of water to 3 cups. You could reduce the quantity of water you use, if you want grainier rice. We like our rice to be well-cooked but still grainy, and this ratio works out perfectly for us.
  3. I have used ordinary Indian ginger in place of Thai galangal and fresh lemon juice instead of Thai kaffir lime. If you can get your hands on galangal and kaffir lime, you could use that instead.
  4. Increase or decrease the quantity of lemon juice, sugar, soya sauce and Sriracha sauce as per your personal taste preferences. The quantities suggested above work out well for us.
  5. If you do not have demerera sugar, you could use ordinary refined sugar instead, but then, the fried rice may lose its beautiful brown colour.
  6. You could lightly steam the peas before adding them to the fried rice, too. I don’t.
  7. Other vegetables like mushrooms, zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli and coloured capsicum can be added to the fried rice too. I commonly use the veggies that I have on hand.
  8. If you have rice left over, preferably a day old, it works very well for this recipe. You could use that in place of freshly cooked and cooled down rice.
  9. Chunks of fresh, ripe pineapple can also be mixed into the fried rice at the end, while you are adding the lemon juice and chopped coriander. That takes the flavour of the dish to a whole new level – I do that when I have chopped pineapple handy.
  10. Thai bird’s eye chillies can be used in place of red chilli powder.

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Foodie Monday Blog Hop

This post is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. The theme for the week is ‘Fusion Fiesta’, and each of the participants was required to post a fusion dish involving Indian and another, uncommon (to us) cuisine.

 

Sev Usal| Pattani Masala| Dry Peas Curry In Flavourful Gravy

The husband and I are big fans of pattani masala with our rotis – a curry made with dry peas, cooked in a flavourful gravy. Any leftover curry is recycled into sev usal, the next day – a chaat that tastes awesomely sweet and spicy and tangy at the same time.

I learnt how to make this gravy from a Gujarati friend of mine, and have always made it the same way throughout the years. Along the way, the husband fell in love with it too. Unlike store-bought pattani masala and sev usal that are loaded with oil, this version uses just 1 teaspoon of oil. It’s healthy, it’s super tasty, and it is versatile – what more could you ask for from a dish, eh?

Do try it out, will you?

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Left: Gujarati-style pattani masala aka dried peas curry in gravy; Right: Sev usal using the same curry

Ingredients (makes about 4 servings):

For the masala curry:

  1. About 175 grams of dried yellow peas
  2. 4 medium-sized tomatoes
  3. 2 medium-sized onions
  4. Salt, to taste
  5. 1 teaspoon oil
  6. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds (rai)
  7. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)
  8. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  9. 2 teaspoons chana masala (I use MDH)
  10. Red chilli powder, to taste
  11. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  12. 2 teaspoons sugar/powdered jaggery (optional)
  13. A few stalks of fresh coriander

Other ingredients for serving the sev usal:

  1. Lemon wedges as needed, to serve
  2. Finely chopped onions as needed, to serve
  3. Finely chopped coriander as needed, to serve
  4. Paav, as needed, to serve
  5. Butter as needed, to toast the paav
  6. Sev (omapudi) as needed, to serve
  7. Sweet chutney as needed, to serve (Here’s how I make the sweet chutney)
  8. Spicy green chutney as needed, to serve (Here’s how I make the spicy chutney)

Method:

To make the masala curry:

  1. Soak the dried peas in just enough water to cover them, overnight.
  2. Drain out the water from the soaked peas in the morning. Pressure cook them for 4 whistles, adding just enough fresh water to cover them. Let the pressure release naturally. Keep the cooked peas aside.
  3. Chop the onions and coriander finely. Keep aside.
  4. Chop the tomatoes into quarters. Puree in a mixer. Keep aside.
  5. Heat the oil, and add in the mustard seeds. Allow to splutter. Add the asafoetida and the cumin seeds, and allow them to stay in for a couple of seconds.
  6. Add the chopped onions. Cook on medium heat till they turn brown.
  7. Add the tomato puree. Add salt and chilli powder to taste, sugar or jaggery, as well as the turmeric powder. Mix well. Cook till the raw smell of the tomato disappears.
  8. Now, add the cooked peas along with the water you cooked them in. Add the chana masala. Add more water if required, at this stage. Mix well.
  9. Cook on medium flame till the gravy thickens. Switch off the gas when the gravy is thick, but still a little runny.
  10. Add finely chopped coriander and mix well. This curry is what we call Pattani Masala, and serve hot with rotis or dosas. Any leftover curry can be used to make Sev Usal.

To serve the sev usal:

  1. Heat up the masala curry lightly.
  2. Toast the paav on a dosa pan, using a little butter.
  3. Add a dash of sweet chutney and spicy green chutney on top of the masala curry. Sprinkle some sev and finely chopped onions and coriander over it. Serve immediately, with the toasted paav and lemon wedges on the side.

Notes:

  1. You can omit the sugar or jaggery powder from the masala curry entirely, but we prefer adding it.
  2. Pavbhaji masala or garam masala can be used in place of chana masala. We prefer using chana masala.
  3. A little finely chopped ginger and a few cloves of garlic can also be added while cooking the onions for the masala curry. Alternatively, if you want to make a Jain curry, skip the onions, ginger and garlic altogether.
  4. A dash of chaat masala can also be added to the sev usal while serving.
  5. I have used dried yellow peas (as shown in the picture on the left) to make these dishes. You could also use dried green peas instead.

You like? I hope you will try out this pattani masala and sev usal recipe, and that you will love it as much as we do!

 

Nimbu Rasam| Lemon Rasam Recipe

Lemon rasam with piping hot steamed rice spells out ‘comfort food’ to me. It is go-to food for the husband and me whenever we are under the weather or just need something light to eat. With the addition of some fried vadams and a simple potato curry, this rasam-rice combination becomes a platter from heaven! If you have a sore throat or are feeling feverish, fear not, this rasam has the power to soothe you like nothing else.

Interestingly, I learnt this recipe from the husband’s sister – she is an amazing cook of South Indian dishes, and this is the very first thing she taught me to make. I’ve been in love with this lemon rasam ever since. I like the fact that this is such a simple thing to make, not calling for any grinding or pre-made rasam powder, and is yet so very satisfying.

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Now, let’s check out how to make this lemon rasam, shall we?

Ingredients (makes 4-6 servings):

  1. 1/2 cup toor daal
  2. Salt, to taste
  3. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  4. 2 medium-sized tomatoes, chopped finely
  5. Juice of 1-1/2 lemons, or to taste
  6. A few stalks of fresh coriander leaves, chopped finely
  7. A few fresh curry leaves
  8. 2 green chillies, slit length-wise
  9. A 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped very finely
  10. 1 tablespoon oil/ghee
  11. A pinch of asafoetida
  12. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds

Method:

  1. Wash the toor daal thoroughly in running water. Pressure cook it with just enough water to cover it entirely. Give the daal 4 whistles, and let the pressure release naturally. When the pressure has gone down completely, mash the cooked daal well so that it forms a homogeneous liquid. Keep aside.
  2. Heat about 1/2 cup water in a pan. Add in the finely chopped ginger, slit green chillies and curry leaves. Let cook on high flame for 2 minutes. This will help extract the essence and fragrance of the chillies, ginger and curry leaves.
  3. Now, add the chopped tomatoes to the pan. Add salt to taste. Cook on high flame till the tomatoes turn mushy, adding a little more water if required.
  4. Add the mashed toor daal, turmeric powder, as well as about 2 cups of water. Cook on medium-high flame till the mixture comes to a boil.
  5. At this stage, check for salt. Add more salt, if required. Switch off gas.
  6. Add the lemon juice to the mixture in the pan. Mix well.
  7. In another pan, heat the oil or ghee. Add in the mustard seeds, and allow them to splutter. Add the asafoetida, and let it stay in for a couple of seconds. Add this garnish to the rasam in the other pan.
  8. Add in the chopped coriander leaves. Mix well. Your tasty lemon rasam is ready! Serve hot with steamed rice and your favourite curry.

Notes:

  1. Increase or decrease the amount of toor daal you use, depending upon the type of consistency you want for the rasam. We prefer keeping it runny, but not overly watery.
  2. Adjust the quantity of lemon juice you use, depending upon how tangy you want the rasam to taste.
  3. Make sure all the seeds are removed from the lemon juice before adding it to the rasam. This will help you ensure that the rasam does not turn bitter.
  4. Country tomatoes are best for making this rasam. They are more tangy and juicy, and add a whole lot of flavour to the rasam. However, in the absence of these, farm tomatoes can be used as well.
  5. You can strain out the chillies, ginger and curry leaves and add only the extract to the rasam. We prefer keeping them in.
  6. You could add a dash of chilli powder to the rasam, if you feel it is too bland for you. Alternatively, you could add more green chillies, to suit your taste preferences.

Do you like rasam? What are your favourite ways of making it? Tell me, I’m all ears!

Bruschetta With Lemon Marmalade & Stir-Fried Veggies

This bruschetta tastes absolutely delicious, a welcome change from the usual fare. It is sweet and spicy and salty, all at once, and is a great way to use up the last bits of any tangy marmalade that you might have lying around in your kitchen.

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I have Vidya Narayan of Masala Chilli to thank for this recipe. It was she who gave me the idea. 🙂

Now, let’s see how I made this bruschetta with lemon marmalade and stir-fried veggies, shall we?

Ingredients (serves 2):
  1. 4 slices of bread
  2. 4-5 pieces of baby corn, chopped finely
  3. 1 small onion, chopped finely
  4. 4-5 medium-sized mushrooms, chopped
  5. Salt, to taste
  6. Lemon marmalade, as needed (I used Bhuira)
  7. Chilli powder, to taste
  8. Grated cheddar cheese, as needed (I used Amul)
  9. Mixed Italian herbs, as needed
  10. Paprika, as needed
  11. Sun-dried tomato-infused olive oil, as needed (I used the oil from home-made sun-dried tomatoes)
  12. 1 tablespoon olive oil

Method:

  1. Let us first get the stir-fried veggies ready. Heat the olive oil a bit, and add in the chopped onion, mushrooms and baby corn.
  2. Add salt and red chili powder to taste. Mix well.
  3. Stir fry the veggies till they are cooked, but not overly mushy. Switch off the gas. Mix in a little mixed Italian herbs.
  4. Allow the stir-fried veggies to cool down a bit, while you get the base ready. For this, cut each slice of bread into half.
  5. Heat a pan till droplets of water dance on it. Place four pieces of bread on it. Drizzle some sun-dried tomato-infused olive oil over one side of the bread. Toast.
  6. Flip the bread pieces over to the other side. Drizzle some more sun-dried tomato-infused olive oil. Toast some more. Switch off gas and place the bread pieces in a serving plate.
  7. Prepare all the bread pieces in a similar way.
  8. Spread lemon marmalade evenly over the toasted bread pieces. Use as much or as little as you want. Spread the veggies on top, and add some grated cheese. Add a dash of paprika and mixed Italian herbs. Serve hot.

Notes:

  • You can keep the bread as crisp as you want.
  • Let your personal taste preferences dictate the quantity of lemon marmalade, cheese, sun-dried tomato-infused olive oil, paprika and mixed Italian herbs that you want to use.
  • I have used lemon marmalade here, as I wanted to use up the little bit that I had left over. If you don’t have lemon marmalade, any other tangy marmalade would do.
  • You could use any kind of (preferably, thick) bread to make this bruschetta. I had whole wheat bread handy, so I used it.
  • Sun-dried tomato-infused olive oil is nothing but the residual olive oil from a bottle of sun-dried tomatoes. It has the scent of sun-dried tomatoes infused in it.
  • You could use other veggies like zucchini, capsicum, etc. I used whatever I had handy in the kitchen at the moment.

 

You like? Do try out this bruschetta with lemon marmalade and stir-fried veggies as a snack or side. It is super easy to make!

Oriental Spiced Cookies With Sprig Gourmet’s Malacca Spice Blend

I love the very interesting range of gourmet food products that Sprig offers. From their Mango Jalapeno Sauce and Passion Fruit Malagueta Sauce to their Natural Lavender Extract, from their Salted Caramel Sauce and Dulce De Leche to their Coconut Palm Sugar, Rosemary And Lavender-Infused Sea Salt, Six Pepper Medley and Nam Prik Pao, every product has piqued my curiosity and made me long to work with it. I am sure every foodie – irrespective of whether it is a home cook or a food blogger or a hotelier – would want to try out these gourmet products, try to create something fun using them.

I recently got my hands on one of the spice blends from the range offered by Sprig, an Oriental spice called Malacca. It is a mix of herbs and spices that are reminiscent of the Orient or South-East Asia, and can be used to jazz up a variety of dishes. I decided to use it in some Oriental Spiced Cookies, as opposed to noodles or fried rice or salads that first came to mind. The result thrilled me, totally. The Malacca has a lovely, mysterious fragrance to it, and the cookies turned out so very beautiful, gently spiced with the same hint of the exotic to them.

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I used this recipe as the base, making one or two variations of my own.

Here’s how I made the Oriental spiced cookies.

Ingredients (yields 12-15 cookies):

  1. Whole wheat flour – 1-3/4 cups
  2. A pinch of salt
  3. Powdered sugar – 1 cup
  4. Unsalted butter – 1 cup
  5. Almonds – 10-12, chopped
  6. Chia seeds – 1/4 cup
  7. Milk (boiled and cooled) – 1 tablespoon
  8. Sprig Malacca Spice Mix – 1 tablespoon

Method:

  1. Cream the butter and sugar together until light. Keep aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the whole wheat flour, chia seeds, salt and chopped almonds.
  3. Add the milk to the butter to make it a little runny, and add this to the mixing bowl too.
  4. Meanwhile, gently mix together all the ingredients in the mixing bowl to form cookie dough.
  5. Set the dough for about an hour in the refrigerator, covered.
  6. After an hour, get the dough out of the refrigerator. Preheat oven at 200 degrees for 10 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, grease and flour a baking tray. Form cookies out of the dough and place them on the greased and floured baking tray, evenly.
  8. Set the baking tray in the oven. Bake at about 180 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until the cookies turn slightly brown and crisp.
  9. Let the cookies cool down completely before transferring them to an air-tight container.

Notes:

  1. Maida can be used in place of whole wheat flour. I used whole wheat flour for the sake of health.
  2. I used the same amount of butter that the original recipe suggested, but I could have used less. I think the Oriental spiced cookies would still have tasted awesome with a little less butter, so I might be doing that the next time.
  3. The chia seeds add a nice crunch to the cookies, and go well with the oriental spiced taste. That said, they can be completely omitted if you don’t have any.
  4. This is not a sponsored post. I write this simply because I am very interested in the whole range of gourmet ingredients that Sprig has to offer.

You like? I hope you will try out these Oriental spiced cookies too, and that you will love them as much as we did!

Mudakathan Keerai Dosai| Balloon Vine Savoury Crepes

The other day, I got hold of some very fresh ‘mudakathan keerai‘ from a vegetable vendor. I was thrilled, naturally, because the greens aren’t very easy to find here in Bangalore.

For the uninitiated, Mudakathan keerai is the commonly known Tamil name for this climber, whose scientific name is Cardiospermum Halicababum. The plant is also referred to as Balloon Vine. The greens are believed to contain a number of health benefits – 1) They alleviate menstrual cramps, general body pain, tiredness and fatigue. 2) They help in treating dandruff, itchy scalp, eczema and a few other skin conditions. 3) They are useful in the treatment of cough and cold. 4) They help alleviate gastric problems. 5) The greens are also believed to be helpful in purifying blood and reducing the effects of anaemia.

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Mudakathan keerai, also called balloon vine because of the balloon-shaped fruits that the creeper produces

In parts of Tamilnadu, these greens are commonly available and regularly used in various traditional dishes, for the many health benefits that they possess. They are used to add flavour to kara kozhambu, sambar and rasam, as well as in vadas and dosas. I have heard of my mother’s mother cooking with these leaves, but Amma herself never has. This was the first-ever time I got a bunch of them, too, and cooked with them.

Mudakathan keerai, when raw, has a bitter taste to it. The bitterness disappears on cooking the greens, though, and they add a nice flavour to whatever dish you use them in. Since I had home-made dosa batter on hand, I decided to use them to make mudakathan keerai dosais, in two different ways. Both dosas tasted equally good, and the family loved them to bits.

Let’s check out the recipes, now, shall we?

Style 1 – Sauteed and coarsely ground

When I asked around, a neighbour taught me this recipe. Here, the greens are sauteed first, with a little oil, and then coarsely ground and added to dosa batter.

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Ingredients (makes 7-8 dosas):

  1. 7-8 ladles dosa batter
  2. A handful of fresh mudakathan keerai (separated from the stems)
  3. Salt, to taste
  4. 1 green chilli
  5. 1 teaspoon cumin (jeera)
  6. 1 teaspoon oil + more to make the dosas

Method:

  1. Wash the mudakathan keerai thoroughly, removing any traces of mud. Place in a colander, and let all the water drain out. Rub the leaves gently with a cotton cloth to remove as much of the wetness as you can.
  2. Finely chop the greens and the green chilli. Keep aside, separately.
  3. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a pan. Lower the flame to medium, and add in the chopped greens. Saute the greens till they wilt completely, 4-5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and allow the greens to cool down fully.
  4. Take the sauteed and cooled down greens in a small mixer jar, along with the cumin, salt to taste, the chopped green chilly and a little water. Grind to a paste.
  5. Add the ground paste to the dosa batter. Mix well.
  6. Heat a dosa pan till droplets of water dance on it. Then, lower the flame to medium, and pour a ladle of the prepared batter in the centre. Spread it out and add a little oil around the edges. Cook on one side for a minute, and then flip the dosa over. Cook on the other side for a minute, too. Serve hot. Prepare all the dosas in a similar manner.

Style 2 – Ground raw

This is how my mother remembers her mother preparing mudukathan keerai dosai. Here, the leaves are ground raw and added into dosa batter.

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Ingredients:

  1. 7-8 ladles of dosa batter
  2. A handful of mudukathan keerai, separated from the stems
  3. Salt, to taste
  4. 1 teaspoon cumin (jeera)
  5. 1 green chilli
  6. Oil, to make the dosas

Method:

  1. Wash the greens thoroughly, ensuring that they are clear of any mud. Place in a colander, and drain out all the excess water. Then, chop finely.
  2. Chop the green chilli finely.
  3. Take the chopped greens in a small mixer jar. Add in chopped green chilli, salt to taste, cumin and a little water. Grind to a paste.
  4. Add the ground paste to the dosa batter. Mix well.
  5. Heat a dosa pan till droplets of water dance on it. Then, lower the flame to medium, and pour a ladle of the prepared batter in the centre. Spread it out and add a little oil around the edges. Cook on one side for a minute, and then flip the dosa over. Cook on the other side for a minute, too. Serve hot. Prepare all the dosas in a similar manner.

Notes:

  1. For both styles, you can add black pepper, ginger, garlic, coriander and/or mint while grinding.
  2. Also, dry red chilli can be used in place of the green chilli.

You like? Now, you know what to do if you ever get hold of a bunch of mudukathan keerai!

Easy Basundi Recipe (With Condensed Milk)

When I think of the years we lived in Ahmedabad, I cannot not think of basundi. It used to be a favourite, favourite sweet dish, rich and creamy without being overly so, loaded with nuts. This cousin of the North Indian rabri is something I associate with festive times, specifically Diwali.

It isn’t easy to find good basundi in Bangalore city, so we prefer making our own at home. Traditionally, this sweet dish is made by boiling milk and cooking it constantly, reducing it and reducing it and reducing it till it becomes thick and creamy and utterly delectable. The recipe that we use, though – the cheat’s basundi or the easy basundi recipe, as I refer to it – is super simple. It uses condensed milk for the thickening, and doesn’t require standing by the stove for hours on end. It might not be the authentic recipe, but this version tastes just as delish, I can vouch for that.

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Let’s check out our easy basundi recipe, shall we?

Ingredients (makes about 6 servings):

  1. 1 litre full-fat milk (I used Nandini)
  2. 400 grams sweetened condensed milk (I used Amul Mithai Mate)
  3. 2 tablespoons sugar, or to taste
  4. 1/2 teaspoon rose essence (optional)
  5. 7-8 cashewnuts, chopped finely
  6. 7-8 almonds, chopped finely

Method:

  1. Take the milk and condensed milk in a heavy-bottomed pan. Mix well.
  2. Place pan on high heat and bring to a boil, stirring intermittently.
  3. Now, turn down the heat to low. Add in the sugar. Mix well.
  4. Cook on low-medium flame till the mixture reduces to about half of its original size – 10-15 minutes. Keep stirring intermittently, to prevent sticking to the bottom of the pan. Cream will begin to form on the edges of the pan – keep scraping it back down into the pan with a spoon.
  5. When the mixture has reduced, add in the chopped cashewnuts and almonds. Mix well.
  6. Cook more on low-medium heat till the mixture reduces further. Meanwhile, keep stirring intermittently and scraping the cream back into the pan.
  7. When it reaches a thick but still runny consistency, add the rose essence. Cook for a couple of minutes more, stirring intermittently, continuing to scrape the cream back into the pan. Switch off gas.
  8. Serve piping hot, warm or after chilling in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. Personally, I think the basundi tastes best when chilled.

Notes:

  1. Increase or decrease the quantity of sugar you add, depending upon personal tastes and preferences. If you think the sweetness of the condensed milk is enough, you could skip adding sugar altogether. Personally, though, we prefer adding 2 tablespoons of sugar, considering that we have huge sweet teeth.
  2. Intermittent stirring throughout the process of making basundi is necessary, to prevent too much sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  3. The rose essence can be omitted altogether, if you don’t want to add it.
  4. Cardamom powder can be used in place of rose essence. Add it in at the same time when you need to add the rose essence – it adds a beautiful fragrance and taste to the basundi. We like both versions, but I am slightly biased towards the rose essence one.
  5. You could slightly roast the almonds and cashewnuts before chopping them and adding them to the basundi, too. I usually add them raw, though.
  6. It is important to keep scraping back the cream from the sides of the pan, into the pan, throughout the proceedure. This is what will give a beautiful, creamy consistency to the basundi.
  7. You can keep the consistency of the basundi as thick or as runny as you like. We like it slightly thick, still runny. The basundi thickens slightly on cooling.

Do you like basundi? How do you make it? Do you like this easy basundi recipe? I hope you’ll try this out!

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Foodie Monday Blog HopThis post is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. The theme for this week is ‘Diwali recipes’.

 

Easy Chocolate Burfi Recipe| Instant Chocolate & Milk Powder Sweet

This Diwali, try out this very simple chocolate burfi recipe! It needs just a few ingredients – including very little ghee, unlike many other traditional Indian sweets. It needs just about 20 minutes to put together, and the chocolate flavour and smooth texture will surely make it a hit with kids and adults alike.

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I make this sweet using the chocolate burfi recipe from Sharmi’s Passions, and it is always much loved by everyone at home. I think this is a lovely change from the typical kinds of sweet dishes we usually make for Diwali. Try it out, will you?

Here’s how I make the burfi. I usually double the original chocolate burfi recipe.

Ingredients (makes about 10 pieces):

  1. 1/2 cup milk powder (I use Amulya)
  2. 2-3 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Hershey’s)
  3. 2/3 cup sugar
  4. 1/2 cup water
  5. 4 teaspoons ghee + some for greasing plate
  6. 8-10 cashewnuts (optional)

Method:

  1. Chop the cashewnuts finely. Keep aside.
  2. Grease a plate with a little ghee, to pour the burfi in after cooking. Keep aside.
  3. Sift the cocoa powder and milk powder together. Ensure that they are well combined together. Keep aside.
  4. Take the sugar and water in a heavy-bottomed pan, and place it on high heat. Cook till the sugar entirely dissolves in the water, and goes on to form a one-string consistency.
  5. At this stage, lower the flame to medium. Add the cocoa-milk powder mixture to the pan, stirring constantly to avoid lumps.
  6. Cook on medium flame till the mixture thickens considerably, but is still a little liquidy.
  7. Add in the 4 teaspoons of ghee. Mix together, quickly, and switch off the gas.
  8. Pour the mixture immediately into the greased plate.
  9. If using, sprinkle the chopped cashewnuts evenly over the mixture, immediately. Let the mixture cool down a bit.
  10. Cut into pieces when the mixture is still a bit warm.
  11. Once the burfi cools down completely, transfer to an air-tight, dry container. Store at room temperature. It keeps well for a week to 10 days.

Notes:

  1. It is important that you act fast and pour the mixture into the greased plate when the consistency is just right, before it gets a chance to cool down. Spread it out using a spoon, if needed, and then cut while it is still slightly warm.
  2. You can use almonds or any other nuts of your choice to garnish the burfi. I used just cashewnuts. Alternatively, you could keep the burfi plain, without using any nuts at all.
  3. The burfi I made using the above recipe has the smell of milk powder and just a faint hint of chocolate. You could increase the proportion of cocoa powder a bit, to bring in that deep chocolate flavour and intense brown colour.
  4. Use good-quality cocoa powder for the best taste and colour.
  5. Use a small-sized plate to pour the mixture, so you get burfi that is just perfect in thickness.
  6. Ensure that you add in the cocoa powder and milk powder as soon as the sugar syrup reaches one-string consistency. If you leave it till later, there are chances of the burfi getting hard.

You like? If you do try out this chocolate burfi recipe, don’t forget to let me know how it turned out! 

Toys ‘R’ Us and Babies ‘R’ Us Comes To Bangalore!

Renowned international toy brand Toys’R’Us made an entry into India last Saturday. The brand launched its very first outlet in India in Bangalore, at the Phoenix Marketcity mall in Whitefield. I was thrilled to be invited to the launch with the husband and the bub – a grand affair, with a number of fun activities for kids and adults alike arranged all day long.

The Bangalore outlet has two sections – Toys’R’Us, which stocks an unimaginable array of toys meant for children up to 11 years of age, and Babies’R’Us, which offers everything related to infants, from clothes and diapers and formula to breast pumps, potty seats, high chairs and princess beds.

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The entrance to Toys’R’Us and Babies’R’Us at VR Bengaluru, beautifully decked up for the launch

The store is huge, huge, huge and the three of us had a gala time walking through the aisles. We admired this and that, reminisced over the times when the bub was a little babe we could carry in the palms of our hands, had a fun time watching the magician’s performance, wishlisted a number of toys for the bub (and me, of course!), and even bought an early birthday present for the kiddo.

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Some of the stuff I loved at the store – a doll with a darkish skin tone; a doll that eats, drinks, poops and pees (yes!); the huge range of moisturisers for babies and moms alike; cutesy bows and hairbands on sale; a mermaid doll; and a pink princess bed that was straight out of a fairytale

There are a whole lot of toys available to the kids of today, I realise, a lot more opportunities to create memories and happy moments, for better or worse. Yes, there are a lot of toys and appliances that aren’t really necessary for the healthy upbringing of a child, and neither do they really help the child in any way. That said, there are a whole lot of toys out there that not only help keep a child engaged, but also help in developing creativity, out-of-the-box thinking and decision making, aid eye-hand co-ordination, and help in the development of motor skills. As a parent or a loved one, I think it is you who need to choose wisely, select the right kind of toys for a child. A walk through stores like Toys’R’Us act as an eye-opener to all that is available to a child today, allowing you to make an informed decision.

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More stuff off the shelves of the store – baby hand-print kits; travel pillows; feeding bottles by Dr, Brown’s (a brand that isn’t easy to come across in India); and cute, cute, cute clothes

I love how the store has a huge array of products for infants, toddlers and children, at different price points, from both Indian and international vendors. There’s something here for everyone, I am sure. You just need to take your time checking out different things and choosing what works for you.

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Some more stuff that caught my eye at the store – a Freddie the Firefly high chair toy; Superbottoms cloth diapers; a little piano; and a baby-proofing kit

Toys’R’Us and Babies’R’Us plans to open more stores in India in the near future, at Chennai, Delhi and Mumbai.

If you are in Bangalore, you must surely visit this pretty store!

This post is in collaboration with Toys’R’Us and Babies’R’Us. The views expressed herein are entirely mine, not influenced by anything or anyone, and completely honest.