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SHAKARKAND CHAAT / शकरकंद चाट (Pepped up Sweet Potatoes) – STREET FOOD

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Call it a salad or a chaat. It is a popular street food in north of India. Street vendors selling pepped up shakarkand or sweet potatoes, paired with star fruit is a common sight during autumn and all through winters. Their chaat has a sprinkle of chaat masala, red chili powder, salt and a generous dash of lemon. Sweet potatoes, as their name suggests, are sweeter than potatoes and therefore require something tangy and spicy to pep them up and what better way than to have them with a sweet, sour and spicy tamarind chutney. Sweet potatoes have the goodness of antioxidants, they are rich in dietary fibres and help with constipation. They have carotenoids which help in producing Vitamin A. They are good for diabetics and help those with respiratory problems. This humble root has many health benefits and deserves to be included more in our diets.

My Mom used to serve this chaat almost every weekend as soon as the sweet potatoes used to hit the markets. It was our evening snack – it is tasty, healthy and keeps the appetite gratified till it is time for dinner. Though I am not too fond of sweet potatoes but this is one way that I love to devour them. More over there is not much work to do to make this chaat. For the tamarind chutney you can either make fresh chutney or you can procure a ready-made pack of tamarind chutney. Or use tamarind paste, add the required ingredients, give a boil or two, strain it and the chutney is ready. Personally, I prefer making the chutney from scratch because it tastes way better than the store brought one. I decreased the amount of palm jaggery to my recipe for the Tamarind Chutney to adjust the sourness and make it sweet and sour. Another way to add sourness is to add the lemon juice just as the street vendors do it. As I said earlier, they add star fruit to perhaps balance the sweetness of sweet potatoes. The idea is to strike a balance of flavors. I have seen people adding apples, cucumbers, carrots, onion, etc to it. Play along with what you would like to add and enjoy 🙂

This is what you need:

2-2

½ kg sweet potatoes

1 medium bowl tamarind chutney (not thin in consistency, since the moisture from sweet potatoes will loosen it)

Chili Powder (as per taste)

1 tbsp Chaat Masala

Rocket Salt (Sendha Namak) or regular Salt to taste

2 tbsp freshly chopped Coriander

Boil the sweet potatoes till they firm yet cooked. (if cooking in pressure cooker, cook till one whistle escapes and then immediately open the pressure cooker and drain hot water and add cold water to stop the process of cooking any further)

Once they are cool enough to handle, peel them and cut them into bite size pieces.

Sprinkle them with salt and chillies (I do this quite generously!) You can also add chaat masala along with salt and chillies if you wish.

Adjust the amount of chutney by gradually pouring some amount over the sweet potatoes and if required add more.

Give them a good mix and keep them aside for 2 minutes and then serve. This way the tamarind gets well assimilate with the sweet potatoes and coats well.

Note: Feel free to add fruits of your choice along with green chilies to the sweet potatoes.

Serves – 4

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LUP’PI – लप्पी (Chickpea Flour Sweet Soup) – gluten free & vegan friendly

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Every time I stir a pot of this aromatic, gluten free, chickpea flour based gruel, I am hit by this nostalgic wave of tsunamic proportion. The image of my late mother dishing it out to us first thing on the cold and numbing wintery mornings of my home town makes me want to grow back into a child again. No, we didn’t have the concept of soups then (and they took rather more effort too). So, as kids, my brother and I have been virtually taken care of during the harsh winters by this gruel and this ginger based concoction that Mum used to feed us religiously all through winters. These desi dishes are not only preventive but also therapeutic in nature. The kahwas of the world arrived much later in life.

I have often mentioned about this comforting, nutritious and delicious soupy kind of dish that never let us fall sick or fall pray to cold or flu despite the coldest of north Indian winters. Well, it was time to upload this post after all these years of blogging and a few fellow bloggers requesting to share this asap.  Chickpea flour based goodies are dished out mostly during the winter season in the homes of cold northern India as it is believed to nourish the body with ‘warmth’. A word of advice hereThis dish may not look at all appealing as perhaps a bowl of soup but I promise you that it certainly is a bowl of deliciousness which you wish, would never end. The nutty aromas of roasted chickpea flour will fill your kitchen with warmth that is so comforting. Trust me, it certainly tastes better than it looks.

2½ measuring tbsp melted Ghee (Burnt Butter)

4 measuring tbsp Besan (Chickpea Flour)

Sugar to taste (I added 2 measuring tbsp)

2 Cups Water

1 tbsp Sliced Almonds

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Place a heavy bottomed pan on heat and add ghee. Reduce the heat to low and add chick pea flour. Using a spoon or spatula, roast the flour on low heat till its colour changes to a deeper tone and it emanates a nutty aroma (approximately 10 – 12 minutes) stirring continuously.

Add water and increase the heat to high. At this point the soup will look grainy and curdled. Keep stirring the pot till the contents come to a boil. Reduce the heat , stir in the sugar and simmer for 30 seconds and then switch off the heat.

Pour the contents to serving bowls and serve immediately garnished with almonds. It tastes best when consumed hot.

Serves: 2

Note: It is extremely essential to roast the chick pea flour well so as to bring out its nuttiness. Else the soup will taste very raw and pasty.

Note: Vegans can replace the ghee with coconut oil. Although I have never tried it with coconut oil but I believe it will not be able to give it that rich taste which ghee lends.

Note: Feel free to increase or decrease the amount of ghee in the recipe.

Note: Ditto for water. Feel free to decrease or increae its amount.

Note: You can replace water with milk to make the soup richer.

Note: You need to constantly keep stirring the contents in the pot to prevent them from burning.

P.S. – This dish is named as Sheera and some, especially Maharashtrians, may perceive it as halwa (since they call their halwa by the name sheera) but this happens to be a typical Punjabi style sweet soupy kind of creamy textured dish that is made mostly during winter season or to cure a flu and sooth a cold.

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You may also like these chickpea flour based goodies:

Savory Chickpea flour Pancakes

Badam aur Besan Laddu (Almonds & Chickpea Flour Sweet Balls)

Thanks for visiting and see you soon again

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SOYA PANEER – SOY ‘COTTAGE’ CHEESE SPREAD

Soy Cottage CheeseI know, you might be thinking what in the world soy cottage cheese is?! It is not tofu in the truest sense. I took the liberty of calling it Soy Cottage Cheese since I made in a similar fashion to the way I make cottage cheese at home from milk. To me it looked like a close cousin to the traditional Indian cottage cheese hence the name! 

Tofu is made by coagulating the soy milk extracted from soy beans and then pressing the curds under weights. Depending on the time that it has been pressed, under weights, a soft or medium soft or hard tofu is attained.
For making the Soy Paneer, I deviated from the traditional way after following a few initial steps. Instead of separating the milk from the soy beans I kept the ground soy along with its milk and then boiled the two together, added lemon juices and let the milk split/curdle. And voila! Soy Paneer is what I got J
It goes without saying that this is an ideal substitute to milk for the vegans. Besides, this is a healthy and tasty option for those having lactose intolerance.


No, it doesn’t taste bad at all i.e. if that thought crossed your mind. Of course it won’t taste like the cottage cheese made from milk yet it tastes pretty good. The obvious way to find out how it tastes is of course to give it a try for yourself. My husband, who has a dislike for tofu, quite enjoys it in his sandwich filling. He thought I was kidding when I first told him that he just had a soy product for his breakfast!
So go ahead and allow your creativity devise ways to use it – for filling in parathas (stuffed flat bread) or as a topping for toasted bread or for making sandwich fillings or perhaps mixing it with potato or beet and making croquettes/ cutlets. I guess the possibilities are endless! I would eagerly wait to know how you made use of Soy Paneer in your meal J
The ingredients are few and the process is simple. I used:
For Soy Cheese:
½ cup soy beans
800 ml water+ sufficient for making soy paste
1tbsp+ ½ tsp lemon juice
Muslin cloth/ cheese cloth/ strainer

Soak the soy beans in water at night. Next day, gently remove the skin from the soy beans.
To remove the skin rub the beans gently between your fore finger and thumb (this process may take 10-15 minutes)
Rinse in water. The skin will rise to the surface; remove it and then repeat the process till you have soy bean without skin.
Pulse the soy bean in a blender or mixer-grinder adding just enough water to make a paste.
Transfer this to a heavy bottomed pot and add 800 ml water to it.
Stir well and put on the heat.
On medium flame heat the soy milk for two and a half to three minutes stirring all the while.
Add lemon juice mixed with a tbsp of water and add to the soy milk.
Stir the soy milk. You will notice the milk beginning to curdle.
Once the cheese separates from the whey, switch off the heat.
Transfer the cheese in a strainer or cheese cloth/ muslin cloth and wash it under water to remove the taste of lemon.
Drain all the water but ensure that cheese remains moist.
Note: While curdling the milk, if you feel that the juice is not enough, add a dash more of it.
For Cheese topping:

1 medium onion (finely chopped)
½ tsp cumin seeds
1½ tbsp olive oil
1 green chilli (finely chopped)
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro (dhaniya patta)
½ tsp coarsely ground black pepper (freshly ground)
Salt to taste
1 tomato (finely chopped – pulp and seeds removed)- optional

In a frying pan heat the oil and add cumin and let it crackle.
Lower the heat to medium and carefully add onions and stir fry till the onion becomes translucent.
Add the green chillies and the soy cheese. Stir well.
Add salt and black pepper and stir again.
Cook the cheese till any visible amount of water evaporates. You can check this by pressing the back of the spoon against the cheese.
Add tomatoes and fresh cilantro and cook further for half a minute.
Switch off the heat and transfer the contents to serving bowl.
The soy cheese is ready to be used.
Note: I add tomato for the bright colour it adds to the topping/spread.

Note: A generous pinch of garam masala helps in pepping up the taste of soy cheese


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