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recipes for a Lacto-Vegetarian diet.

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2010 Abril 27 [martes]

methi-onion thalipith

While I feel that Thalipith is a healthier option to Parathas, some people like like the latter's softness than thalipith which is not very tasty when it turns cold and hard but the former does have more ground pulses than the latter, which may atmost have one vegetable--Talking of which, I can never forget the best parathas we had, at Mussourie --a small eatery on Camel Back Road, meters before the Gurudwara, run by a Sikh couple. The scary part was the wild monkeys which would not hesitate to accost you and violently snatch the packed food...phew! I digress.

Returning to the bhajani which consists of different pulses that are dry-roasted before being ground into flour. I experimented with a combination of wheat, jowar, bajra, chana dal, rice, urad and moong dal(s). Ofcourse, there are multiple methods to make the bhajani for thalipith and you can experiment depending on the desired chemistry, thence outcome.

BHAJANI
* Jowar: 1 kg.
* Bajra: 1 kg. (if you cant find bajra, substitute it with rajgira OR ragi --only 200 gms else the final product will break)
* Wheat: 1 kg
* Moong dal: 1/2 kg (OR urad dal: 1/2 kg)
* Chana dal: 1/4 kg
* Rice: 1/4 kg (increasing this quantity will result in the pancake turning stiff and crack whilst cooking)

METHOD:

1. Dry roast each of the above ingredients separately till the grains turn crispy brown. Do not add oil to the kadai while roasting.
2. Cool them and mix it well and grind together all the roasted ingredients in flour mill for a very fine powder consistency (not coarse like flour for parathas).

This is 'bhajani' flour, can be used for thalipith and also for chakli and even as a base for instant dosa.  Although I dislike cooking I like the experiments that $A and me try in the kitchen. Most of the times I am just astounded at the chemistry created with various ingredients though.  If the bhajani is stored in a clean, dry and airtight container, it can last a few months (even a year?) without any bugs BUT I would not vouch for the taste of product made with flour that is so stale :-/


THALIPITH

* 4 cups Bhajani flour (see above, for bhajani mix)
* 1 small chopped Onion
* 2 tbsp Chopped coriander
* 1/2 tbsp Shveta Till (white sesame seeds)
* 1/4 tsp Ajwain seeds
* 1 tbsp Coriander seed (dry roasted) powder
* 1 tsp Red chilli powder
* 1 tsp Thecha (green chillies paste)
* 1 tsp ginger paste
* Black peppercorns (depending on your spice level)
* 1 tbsp Jeera/cumin seeds
* 2-3 tbsp Oil
* Salt, to taste.

Preparation Method of Thalipith

1. Take four cups Bhajani flour and finely diced onions, black pepper powder, turmeric, coriander, ginger and thecha paste, jeera, chopped coriander, Till, Ajwain seeds, Coriander seed (dhania) powder, and red chilli powder.
2. Knead with water to make firm dough. [Hint: While making dough you can add 1 tablespoon of curd and reduce the water. This is only if you intend to consume on the same day.]
3. Roll into rotis and make 2-3 holes with a spoon.
4. Cook over a hot tava (griddle), smearing oil on the holes. Cover the tava and cook for two minutes. Turn and cook both sides till crisply cooked.
5. Enjoy hot with pudina chutney or dahi raita (curd) or plain unsalted butter.

This time while mixing I added ragi for a darker color and had taken pictures of the methi-onion thalipith but I am feeling lazy to upload them. The next on my to-learn list is the yummy Vegetarian-Ma-Po-Tofu from a Chinese restaurant but I dont know where to find silken tofu in India.

2010 Enero 27 [miércoles]

Ghargey Puri

Yesterday I made "Ghargey", a sweet puri made out of the very common red pumpkin or "lal bhopla" -- the same one that is used in sambhar and kootu or curry. Its very simple and easy to make. This is a typical Maharashtrian dish.

Ingredients for Ghargey :

  • 1 cup (cleaned & grated) lal bhopla/red pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup gura/jaggery. [If you dont have jaggery use brown sugar]
  • 1 cup wheat flour (dont use maida)
  • 1 tsp ghee
  • 2 tsp oil
  • salt (to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp elaichi powder
  • Oil for deep frying the puri.
Preparation :

0. Warm the ghee in a pan and add the grated bhopla and stir well.
1. After a minute or so, add the jaggery and mix well. Remove all lumps. You can also smash banana (the elchi or the kerala variety) and add it to this. 
2. Cook them till the water leaves the sides of the pan. [TIP: do not overcook it into a hard lump.]
3. Turn off the gas and add the cardamom powder and mix well.
4. Cool the pumpkin mixture and transfer to a second vessel. To this, add 2 tsp oil and a pinch of salt. Slowly add the wheat flour and knead the dough. Avoid adding water. Cover and let the dough rest for a few minutes.
5. Divide the dough into small portions and roll them out into round puris with a rolling pin.
6. Deep-fry them in medium hot oil until they puff-up and turn golden brown.
7. Enjoy hot. With shrikhand, its just yum!!

I know that folks expect pictures but the problem is the pooris got over very quickly ;-)

2009 Noviembre 18 [miércoles]

Manga-Inji

Pickles are an integral part of Indian cuisine but when one is sick the spicy ones like mango, etc.. are taboo, even if your palate demands it. Well food is incomplete without without a peck at some form of pickle, of which there is a whole variety even for folks who are sick. 

Nartankai is one such yummy pickle that is made out of the humble lime-fruit but then I had a whole batch of mangai-inji/mango ginger that suddenly grew from the mud that i had purchased from the nursery. I had no clue what to do with the white coloured inji-manga which smells like mangoes when cut and a chutney would be nice but with a short shelf life, so I chose to pickle it instead...

Ingredients:

  • 5 inches of mangai-inji (cleaned, peeled and cut into small pieces)
  • 2 inches of haldi root (cleaned, peeled and cut into small pieces)
  • 5 limes (washed and cut into cubes)
  • 10 thin green chillies (finely chopped)
  • Salt to taste.

Preparation: Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl and marinate for a few hours and your pickle is ready to eat. Its a very good digestive agent.

2009 Octubre 23 [viernes]

Karanjia

This entry has been dedicated to this awesomeness.

Over the dipavali weekend I made some Karanji, a traditional maharashtrian delicacy--you'll know why if you've ever gone through the rigorous process of cooking it from scratch, especially the poli making part.

Ingredients for Puran/saran/inner filling :

  • 1 cup powdered cashew nuts
  • 2 tsp poppy seeds
  • 2 tsp charoli
  • 1 cup mixed dry fruit/nuts (unsalted almond, cashew nut, pistachios)
  • Half cup rava
  • 1.5 cups sugar (this depends on the level of sweetness one desires)
  • 1 pinch nutmeg powder
  • 4 elaichi pods crushed
Puran Preparation :
0.
Powder the sugar till it does not have a grainy texture. Its easier to buy ready-to-use powered sugar but the proportions given above will vary slightly.
1. Dry roast the rava (and poppy seeds separately) to a golden color and keep aside to cool.
2. Roast the nuts in a tablespoon of ghee and keep to cool.
3. Take a large bowl and mix the roasted nuts, with one cup powdered cashew nuts, powedered sugar, poppy seeds, charuli, rava, nutmeg and elaichi powder. This is a dry powder filling which will stay for a few days. Also when deepfried it will automatically get cooked.

Note : The filling for this sweet dumpling can also include grated copra (dessicated dry coconut) but since copra has an irritating trait --it can smell rancid within 2-3 days reducing the storage shelf-life, I dont use it.


Ingredients for external dough cover:
  • 1 cup maida
  • 1 tsp ghee (butter)
  • salt (one pinch)
  • water and 20ml warm milk for mixing the dough
  • 2 tbsp cornflour and half cup ghee
External dough cover Preparation :
The dough will have to be prepared atleast an hour before use.
0. Add 1 tbsp HOT ghee to 1 cup maida and mix well. This will make the karanji cover crisp.
1. Add little warm milk while kneading the dough with required water so the dough will be soft and rise well.
2. Then add a pinch of salt and knead well for 5 minutes. Cover well and set aside.
Additional Notes : In a small cup mix 2 tbsp cornflour in half cup ghee for later use.


Karanji Preparation:
0. Cut some dough and roll-out three polis.
1. Take the first poli and apply the cornflour+ghee mixture all over this poli and lay the second poli on top and apply cornflour+ghee on it and cover it with the third poli.
2. Now roll all three poli's tightly but with a light hand, taking care that they dont break during the process. 
3. Cut them into small oval pieces.
4. Take one oval and roll out the poli again, taking care that its not too thin in the middle. Place the prepared stuffing in the middle of your poli.
5. Fold it in half and roll the corners of the puri inwards. It should be sealed properly, else the stuffing will become burnt sediment while frying.
6. Deep fry it till it becomes golden-brown or you can bake it in a pre-heated oven for 10 minutes at 100 degrees Celcius. Serve it hot or cold.
7. The karanji can last for 7-8 days if stored in an air tight container.

2008 Mayo 3 [sábado]

Dhink laddu and Kulfis

Trying to get some traditional Maharashtrian food [thalipeeth, dhink (dhing?) laddu's, sabudana vada, missal,...] lead me nowhere, except this one in South Bangalore but nobody answers the phone so it may have closed down :-/

I finally found a lady who cooks and delivers dhabbas and had to ask her about dhink ladoo's. Yay... she makes them, but for personal consumption only. The cost factor and lack of customers means its not viable to commercially sell dhik laddu's.....Grrr..just my luck.

There is a sizable Maharashtrian population in the city and both states share a lengthy border but the cusine (atleast as tasted in Hotels) is poles apart. The Udipi hotels are called darshini's here but they are not even a patch on the ones back home -- their paratha's (the waiter calls it "porotha") is nothing like the punjabi paratha -- have they never heard of wheat, aalu, garammasala and baking on a tava as opposed to the very very oily layers (think croissants) they call porotha. As for the kurma -- i've never had a kurma with coconut...*scowl*. Now I know better than to order north indian dishes down south. Forget N.Indian food even the S.I variety revolves around the tried and tested Idli-Vada-Dosa-Sambhar with minor variations (Rava or ragi dosa). Its impossible to get a "vethal kozambu" or "parupu kozambu" (this is tough, imo)
AP's kulfi recipe came to my rescue :) It seems very similar to the italian gelato but for me the yumminess factor wins hands down. Kulfi is best eaten while taking late-night after-dinner strolls in summer, in my memory. Ah....nevermind that the kulfiwallah usually sells just 2 flavours : pista and kesar !!

To eat a chocolate flavour kulfi one has to make it at home and I wish i could take credit but well ...usually my contribution is limited to discussions about :

A] the stirring :- he does not think it should be disturbed while setting and methinks it should be stirred to prevent crystal formation.

B] chocolate melting : given a choice this would feature in every sweet dish of mine, so I think its nicer to add uncut chunks of chocolate to the warm mixture and stir, whilst he melts the chocolate, cools it and _then_ adds it to the mixture.
C] Proportions : imo, only perfectionists measure food ingredients for dessert. Having made that irrational statement lets just say i prefer to cook stuff in varying proportions (== none).
My experiment resulted in a creamy and smoothly textured chocolate-coffee flavored kulfi... it was so delicious that i decided to enjoy it, instead of melting it by taking pictures.

This kulfi recipe (sorry, no measurements - i dont use any, see #C) is simple.
Ingredients : milk, milk cream (milk fat?), sugar, chocolate.

Flavors : Usually cardamom, kesar/saffron and pista (nuts) are added. I use coffee decoction or add pureed seasonal fruits.

Method :

1] blend the creme (milk fat) with sugar in the blender and transfer it to a wok on simmer.

2] When the fat melts add some milk. Check for consistency and sugar (as per taste). Stir and simmer for few minutes.

3] Add a pinch of kesar, 1-2 gm elaichi powder, 1-2 gm dalchini powder, 1-2 gm nutmeg powder (but avoid these if you are adding chocolate). Take off flame and when the mixture turns warm add chunks of chocolate.

3.1] I added some filtered coffee decoction since coffee-chocolate kulfi is heaven. I wish this combination were commercially available. If you dont have (or dont like) chocolate just add the coffee. Its akin to eating frozen coffee :-)
4] Freeze it but keep stirring to prevent icicles formations and to get that rich, creamy texture.

ENJOY :-)

2007 Diciembre 28 [viernes]

Momos

Momos (filled dumplings), are a traditional Tibetan favorite and we had gorged on these during our visit to Dharmsāla. Upper Dharamsala (McLeod Ganj), has many exiled Tibetans living among choc-a-block with stores selling (expensive) Tibetan art, clothes and other wares. All over the market we found girls selling "Momos", but initially I was reluctant to try them as they could contain non-veg fillings and the girl selling them did not speak English, Hindi or any other Indian language except Tibetian language, which none of us could understand.... but that lil girl had such a sweet, smiling face (almost everyone there has a natural happy and smiling face all the time, something we city dwellers seem to have forgotten) and mistaking me for a local started a volley of Tibetan, so all I could do was shake my head and smile. Sign language didnt help us and funnily each of us ended up going in tangents all-together. She would over enthusiastically serve the momo's and i would refuse and she could not understand why.
She was serving them with a flaming red watery chutney which looked so tantalising. Luckily the next day she had a friend (an older girl) who understood a smattering of English and explained that these are made with maida as the outer dough with vegetable fillings and although they look very similar to the South Indian steamed modaka's (sweet dumplings of rice dough covering, stuffed with jaggery and coconut) the similarity ends right there. These salty momo's are served with a chilli chutni which was too spicy (will score an 11 on a scale of 1-10) even by Indian standards, but they were very very tasty.... simply out of this world. There were other vendors too but I liked her's the most. Moreso there was something about this kid, that innocence, her smiling face, so I used to walk that lane atleast 3 times a day just to eat those divinely spicy dumplings. She (with the help of her translator friend) was sweet enough to gimme the recipe. Here it is :

VEGETABLE MOMO's

INGREDIENTS :
A1.Items for the Filling :
- Potatoes(*), boiled.
- Onions or finely chopped spring onions.
- Fresh coriander, chopped finely.
- 3 fresh red/green chillies,
- Salt to taste.
- Oil for cooking.
(*) Optionally i also used other vegetables like corn, mushrooms (chopped finely), paneer (cottage cheese), ... as a filling.

A2.Dough for the Wrapper :

Take plain maida (flour), add a pinch of salt and bind together with Water.

A3.Chilli Chutni(sauce) :
- 2 tablespoons oil
- lotsa fresh red/green chillies
- 1 small onion, chopped finely and sauted golden brown (optional).
- Half tomato, (puree after removing the skin. it will reduce the spice quotient.)
- Few sprigs of finely chopped coriander
- 1/4 cup water.

METHOD :
A1.Filling :
To make the filling, boil and mash the potatoes. Leave to cool. Heat the olive (or vegetable) oil in a saucepan and cook the onions for 5 minutes until soft. Add the mushrooms, cover, and cook for 5 minutes until soft. Leave to cool. When all the vegetables are cooled, mix with the grated cheese, chopped coriander, salt, and green chillies.

A2.Dough for the Wrapper : To make the dough, mix baking soda and a pinch of salt with the flour with enough water and briefly knead to form a smooth consistency. Leave it covered at room temperature for a few hours. Later take a rolling pin and roll out a small portion to a 3-4 inch diameter. The wrapper should not be too thin. Take each wrapper and place a tablespoonful of the cooled vegetable mixture, then fold over and press the edges together, making sure they are well sealed. It should look like a modaka (3 dimensional triangle or a prism). Press the edges at the top with your thumb and first two fingers, working around the circle to form small pleats at the crown and seal.

Fill a small steamer with water, first boiling the rack so the dumplings do not stick. Bring the water to a boil. Place the momos on the steamer rack, spacing them well apart as they will expand and stick together if they are too close. Steam for 20 minutes, or until they are firm and shiny/glossy on the surface.

A3.CHILLI CHUTNI : To make the chilli chutni, heat the olive oil in a saucepan, add some garlic, onion, and cook till soft. Add fresh red chilli paste and salt, some more oil and cook for 5 minutes. Pour some water and simmer for 10 minutes. Throw finely cut coriander on top.

Enjoy :)

2007 Diciembre 26 [miércoles]

Undhiyo

Mom cant understand why i never remember proportions whilst cooking. I think I know why... disinterest in the chore task itself, and a compulsive need to escalate my phone bills. Now if i were to be truly honest i would lay the blame on music, more specifically at the feet of Maharajapura Santhanam (RIP), BalaMuraliKrishna, DKP, and K.B.Sundarambal(00) et al.... since my cooking begins only when one or the other is serenading me and only the burning smell of food can break that trance to bring me back to reality with a thud (err... i meant the noise of me scraping the contents(?) of the pan). When legends serenade you, who could remember mundane things like was it avarakkai or vaal that went to making undhiyo!

Many times i have been more pro-active, listened attentively and learnt to ask intutive questions(01), committed a lot of it to memory, diligently noted down recipes on scraps of paper, a diary (choosing which diary to write in, how to arrange the contents, should i keep sections as S.Indian/N.Indian, sweets or salty first or a seperate diary for each, .. hmm... that story can wait for another blog post). For now I shall catalog Undhiyo ....

UNDHIYO

Ingredients :

250 gms Surti papdi (String beans, and cut into one-inch long pieces),
250 gms. purple yam (kand);
250 gms small potatoes ;
250 gms sweet potatoes (shakkariya) ;
250 gms small brinjals ;
3 bananas ;
1 cup vaal,
1 cup shelled green peas,
1 tablespoon ajwain (carom seeds) ;
Asafoetida (a pinch);
1 tsp turmeric powder;
1 tsp mustard,
1 tsp jaggery;
5 tblsp oil;
Salt (to taste)

Masala (for stuffing and cooking):
4 green chillies,
2 tblsp coconut scraped;
1 cup coriander leaves;
2 inch ginger,
Salt to taste.

Methi Muthiya: 1/4 cup Bengal Gram Flour (besan), 1/2 cup Fenugreek Leaves (methi), 1/2 inch Ginger, 1-2 Green Chillies, 2cups oil (for deep frying), Salt to taste.

Method::

0]Wash and dice yam and potatoes. Wash raw bananas and slit vertically in halfway, brinjals and slit them into four without cutting the stem.

1]Make a paste of green chillies and ginger and mix cut coriander. Divide in half. Use one half to stuff the slit banana and brinjals. Marinate for 30 mins.

2]Mix all the muthiya ingredients except oil and prepare a firm dough. Divide into small portions and shape each into one-inch long half-inch thick rolls. Deep fry in hot oil, remove and keep aside.

3] Heat up oil in a thick-bottomed handi or cooker and add asafoetida, mustard seeds, turmeric powder, and ajwain (carom seeds). When mustard seeds crackle add yam, potatoes, bananas, peas, vaal, brinjal, ground masala and broad beans in layers one on top of the other. Sprinkle salt and stir fry for five minutes on medium flame. Pour 1 cup of water, cover and simmer (boil slowly at low temperature) on a very low heat up for 10-15 minutes. In a cooker keep till pressure on low flame gives 3 whistles.

4]Add fried muthiyas and again simmer slowly at low temperature for 5 minutes. Shake the vegetables occasionally but do not use a spoon to stir. Serve hot decorated with scraped coconut and ragi rotis.

------------
(00) Her husband S.G.Kittappa was the best in his time. Although i have searched at numerous music shops, i have never found his recordings, not even in Chennai which is pretty sad considering that he had a very powerful voice, good scale and pitch.
(01) "salt to taste does not make sense, so tell me exactly if it is 1/2 spoon salt or 3/4 or ... " [my agitated aunt cuts me short and tries explaining why i am wrong] to which /me asks : "Everything in your recipie has precise measurements, so why not salt?"

2007 Diciembre 25 [martes]

Tiruvadirai-Kali

He only learnt to cut onions but I learnt how to cook (without actually cooking that is) when I was a 5 year old kid! Just looking at the dosa batter I can tell if the end product would turn out as it should. Call it sheer Xperience by virtue of being a constant fixture in my g'mas kitchen but as she brewed the kaapi decoction, made dosas or something else, i had to ask intutive questions :
"why did you grind the kaapi nuts daily? ... Why were they shaped that way? ... Did the nut grow on a tall tree or short one? ... If I sowed this nut would it grow in our backyard ?"
"Why was the dosa batter watery today but brownish-yellow yesterday and thick the day before that but white on sunday?"
After she had explained the difference between a rava dosa and neer dosa and rice dosa and why the "adai" batter was different from pesarettu she would quickly put the next hot dosa on my plate hoping to shut me up. But i had another query ready : "why did you cut green chillies and not red ones?", "why did you put a phodni for the watery batter ?... now it has black rai floating all around.. You had not done that yesterday but today the dosa has those greenish chillies stuck in it and i have to pick each one out before eating...how annoying", ....and so on....

Not that i was interested in eating good food or even remotely interested in learning how to cook. Rather i just enjoyed asking tons of questions simply 'coz g'ma enjoyed answering them :) Yet unlike my meticulous, systematic(#0) and cleanliness obsessed g'ma, I begin cooking not by keeping all ingredients available. OTOH, its something like this ::

* wander into kitchen, head to music player, think which raga (#1) i wanna karaoke.
* open fridge/shelves to see what was available.
* depending on mood and #1, prepare dish. If nothing else improvise.

On that note let me catalog the Tiruvadirai Kali recipe (a festival recipe, not usually found in restaurant menus).

TIRUVADIRAI KALI

Method :

1 cup - Raw rice (washed, dried and dry roasted)(water proportion 1:2);
1 cup Jaggery;
1/4 tsp. Cardamom powder,
10-15 Cashewnuts (roasted in ghee);
4 tblsp Ghee,
1/2 cup Coconut (dessicated/grated finely).

Method :

0]Roast the washed rice in a dry pan until it becomes golden red and powder it coarsely.
1] Roast the cashews, cardamom, in ghee and keep aside.
2] Dissolve the jaggery in 2 cups water and add roasted coconut. Heat the mixture until water boils.
3] Take off fire and slowly add the rice powder and stir well to remove all lumps. Replace on fire and cook for few minutes, until done.
4] Stir in kaju and cardamom and ENJOY HOT!

#0. In her kitchen, each bottle of spice, vessels, you-name-the-item was set in a particular order, so when you want haldi, blindly reach out to the second row second bottle and it would be haldi. Save time spent on futile searches. Before she lit the gas flame, each ingredient(s) for the phodni(cooking) would be neatly arranged on the kitchen counter, the vegetables freshly cut, the ladle for stirring lay nearby and the vessel with oil on the gas stove... all of which avoided wasting time and expensive gas. I lernt a lot from her... rather she was practicing Six Sigma and JIT techniques even without formally learning them.

#1. I listen to carnatic/hindustani music out loud (thankfully till date none of my neighbours have complained, rather they enjoy it) and when I like a particular raga its repeated for months, daily, until folks around me get utterly bored and poke me to stop.