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Posts Tagged / Indian Food

MASALA SUNDAL / मसाला सुंदल (Tempered & Stir fried Black Chickpeas) – GF & Vegan

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Sundal is a south Indian dish which is made as ‘prasadam’ i.e. an offering to the Gods. So you can imagine how good it has got to be! The sundals are usually made using kala chana (black chick peas) or safed chana (white chickpeas) and sometimes with peanuts. You can use either or both. In fact you can make it with practically anything that you fancy – chickpeas, green peas, corn, peanuts, black eyed beans, red kidney beans, mung beans or a healthy mix of a few of these. Having said that, I feel that black chickpeas with their robust and earthy flavors make for the best sundal. 

I had the opportunity to first taste it at a south Indian friend’s house approximately six years back and I enjoyed it for its crunchy (because of the fried lentil), herby, earthy flavours and of course its simplicity. I did not need to ask her for its recipe since I could easily make out all the ingredients from its taste. I was pretty happy the way it turned out and later a friend told me to coarsely grind the chana dal instead of adding it whole in the tempering and it did make a difference in taste. Although most people don’t do this but I added a dash of lemon to give it a zing and it kind of wraps up the whole thing so well. This recipe is perfect for an evening snack since it is packed with protein and iron. Delicious and nutritious! 

For Chana

1 C (200 grams) Kala Chana (Black Chick Peas)

¼ tsp Salt

For masala

1 tbsp plus 1 tsp Chana dal

1 tsp whole Coriander Seeds

1 dry whole Red Chili

1 tsp grated Coconut

For tempering

2 tbsp Oil

A small pinch Heeng (Asafoetida)

1 tsp Mustard Seeds

2 dry whole Red Chilies (broken into 2 – 3 pieces)

1 tsp Urad Dal (Ivory Lentils)

A sprig Curry Leaves

1 tbsp finely chopped, fresh Coriander (cilantro)

1 tbsp finely shredded, fresh Coconut

2 – 3 tsp Lemon juice (optional)

Pick and wish the kala chana and soak it enough water for at least eight hours (preferably over night).

Discard the water and transfer the chana in to a pressure cooker. Add a glass of water and salt. Pressure cook till two whistles escape.

The pressure cooker off the heat and wait for the pressure to get released on its own. Drain the chana and set aside. (you can reserve the water instead of draining it and use it for curries or pulav)

Meanwhile, dry toast the first three ingredients of the masala will the chana dals begins to turn golden. Add the grated coconut and roast further for a minute or two or till the chana dal begins to turn golden brown.

Cool the masala and grind it to a coarse powder in a spice mixer or grinder. Keep aside.

Take on in a wok or pan and add the oil. Heat the oil and add heeng, fry for a few seconds or till it becomes aromatic and golden brown.

Add mustard seeds, broken red chilies and urad dal. Fry till the dal turns golden brown. Add curry leaves and add the chana along with the masala. Add a little salt as well.

Stir everything well. Remove from heat and add the fresh coriander, fresh coconut and lemon juice. Mix well.

Masala sundal is ready to be served as a snack or to be used as prashad.

Serves – 4 (as snack)

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CHHENAR PAYESH / छेनार पाएश (Cottage Cheese & Milk Pudding)

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The festive season has begun and you are going to see more of desserts and traditional Indian confections/ mithai here. The variety of Indian confection is staggering. The base for most desserts is either mawa i.e. thick reduced milk (also called khoya) or chhena (freshly made paneer). We have our Suji Halwa, Aata Halwa and halwas made from vegetables and even nuts but they fall in another category of desserts. I am here talking about Indian mithai or what you can call Indian confection. While the khoya (reduced milk) is the base for most north Indian mithai (Indian confection)  it is chhena that is most loved by eastern states of Odisha and Bengal. I have grown up loving khoya mitha such as Gulab Jamun but I equally love the mithai made with chhena. Rather I prefer chhena mithai now as it is easy on the tummy than its rich counterpart mawa. Payesh is Bengali for kheer or milk based pudding. It can be Sabudana Payesh or it can be Chaler Payesh (rice pudding) and many more such varieties of payesh. But chhena payesh is the best in my view. I can have it every single day of the year! I tried to replicate the taste of the chhena payesh made by the ‘Sweet Bengal’ confectionery and I believe it is pretty close to it; although I would have loved it more, had it been made with the date palm jaggery but I had run out of stock. It is difficult to find date palm jaggery throughout the year but it is easily available during the cold winter months albeit for a short duration. The best way to enjoy this jaggery all through the year is to buy it in bulk when available and freezing it. I enjoy my cake sweetend with this jaggery. You can try this Wholemeal Jaggery Cake scented with cardamom if you are a fan of wholesome healthy cakes.

1 litre Full cream Milk

1½ litre Cow’s Milk

1½ tbsp Lemon Juice

1 tsp APF (Maida)

600 – 650 mls Water

250 grams Sugar

1 – 1½ tsp Cornflour

A few teaspoons Milk

½ tsp Cardamom Powder

In a heavy bottom pan or wok, boil the full cream milk. Reduce the heat and allow it to simmer. Keep stirring every now and then to prevent it from catching at the bottom and getting burnt.

Keep simmering the milk of low heat stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile boil the toned milk and and remove it from heat. Stir in the lemon juice. The whey will start to separate from the milk. Give it a few more minutes before the whey and paneer separate completely. If not, put it on heat again and stir for a few minutes.

Remove from heat and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Line a sieve or colander with cheesecloth or muslin cloth and drain the whey (or reserve it for making dough, adding to curries or soups etc.).

Wash the paneer under running water to get rid of the sourness of lemon juice.

Hang the cheesecloth with paneer, over a faucet, for an hour to get rid of excess liquid.

Transfer the chhena (paneer) to a plate and mash for four to five minutes or till it becomes smooth. Add a teaspoon of maida and incorporate it in the chhena.

Make smooth, marble sized, balls out of the mashed chhena. (the paneer balls will increase in size so do not get tempted to go beyond this size)

Boil the water in a wide pot and add sugar to it. Once the sugar has dissolved and the water comes to a rolling boil, drop in the chhena balls (Ensure that the pot is not over crowded with the chhena balls. The balls will double in size once they get cooked so leave enough space for them to swell)

Cover the pot and cook the balls on high flame for four minutes. Switch off heat and allow the balls to sit in the liquid for five minutes.

Meanwhile, mix the cornflour to a few teaspoons of milk and ensure that there are no lumps.

Once the simmering milk has reduced to approximately 650 – 700 ml amount, add the cornflour mix to the milk and stir it well. Cook for half a minute and remove the milk from the heat.

Remove the chhena balls from the cooking liquid with a slotted spoon and add it to the reduced milk.

Allow the chhena to sit in the milk for 5 minutes (do stir it once in a while, while it is cooling) and then taste the payesh. Add sugar if required. (Since we do not like our desserts too sweet, I added one tablespoon of sugar)

The pudding will thicken as it cools. Do keep stirring it occasionally till it cools completely. Chill in the refrigerator before serving or serve at room temperature.

Serves – 4 – 6

Thanks for visiting. See you soon again with another exciting recipe!

 

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KHICHU / खिचु (Steamed Rice flour Savory Donuts) – Gluten Free & Vegan

The approx one year that we spent in Dubai went by in a blink of an eye and before we knew it was time to head back home. The first two months there were spent in settling in at a new place and getting used to a new way of life. Yet within that very short span of time, God sent into my life some amazing people. The ways of destiny are amazing. I am not one of those people who make friends easily. But it does not happen often that one comes across people with whom one clicks so well, who are full of positivity, who make us feel good about ourselves, who support us, who accept us the way we are and who make one feel how blessed one is. Sounds unreal, doesn’t it!? I find it indeed incredible that within that short span of time I was blessed with the company of some wonderful friends.

I strongly believe that we don’t meet people by accident. They are meant to cross our path for a reason. They either give us some tough lessons or beautiful memories. Our one year in Dubai was certainly a mixed bag of experiences, as life always is. But I choose to focus all my energy on my blessings and my lovely friends are a significant part of those blessings. It goes without saying that I miss the camaraderie and I cherish the time we spent together as a cohesive group of friends. I carried back home some beautiful memories.

And today’s recipe is one that I learnt from one of those friends.  I love this dish for its simplicity and how easy it is to make it. I am tempted to call them savory donuts however unlike the donuts, they are dense and they are steamed. They taste fab served with chilli oil, jiralu (a kind of spice mix) and achari methi masala (yet another spice mix). The process of making the dough is kind of making a choux pastry but with rice flour (sans eggs) and then shaping it like a donut and steaming it. Though this simple gluten free dish is served as snack but I don’t mind having it for any meal. Here is what you will need,

2 Cups Water

1 C Rice Flour

½ tsp Ajwain (carom seeds)

2 tsp Cumin Seeds

½ – ¾ tsp Salt (adjust to taste)

2 Green Chillies (finely chopped)

Pour enough water in a bowl or pot and place a steamer over it. Allow it to heat.

Meanwhile, in another pot heat 2 cups of water and add ajwain and cumin seeds along with salt & green chillies.

Let the water come to a rolling boil.

Without reducing the heat, quickly dust the rice flour all over the boiling water. (It is imperative that you scatter the flour all over the boiling water) Do NOT stir.

Allow the water to rise up on its own. It will begin to moisten the rice flour within 30 seconds or so.

Using the back of a wooden ladle carefully (so as not to splatter the hot water) and vigorously stir the mix for a minute.

Remove from the heat and decant the mixture in a bowl.

When the dough is hot enough to handle, pinch the dough in 12 balls of equal size.

Make an indent in the centre just as one makes for balushahi or a doughnut. (The idea is not to create a hole through it.)

Transfer these dough balls onto the steamer and steam them for 5 – 7 minutes

Remove the balls from the steamer and serve hot drizzled with chilli oil, jiralu (a kind of spice mix) and achari methi masala.

Incredibly simple, gluten free, healthy and ready in less than 15 minutes!

Note: In case you are unable to find jiralu spice mix, you can easily swap it with chaat masala.

Note: You can add half a teaspoon very finely chopped ginger to it.

Yields – 12 in number

Thanks for visiting and see you soon again with another exciting recipe!

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