Aamti (A Maharashtrian toor dal preparation)

In my mom’s house, we call this aamti – “Kusum tai’s aamti”. Smt. Kusumtai Kshirsagar, was an elderly neighbour of ours in Kalyan when I was a little girl. She always used to give us a vaati  (bowl) of this aamti whenever she prepared it. Being South Indians, we hardly ever made this Maharashtrian aamti. However, I and my brother grew very fond of her aamti, and till date, we remember her whenever we make this type of dal. Aamti + bhaat + toop = Heaven 😀

My simple yet delicious lunch of aamti, bhaat, toop and karela fry

 

Aamti bhaat with toop (ghee)

In those days, it was quite common to see neighbours drop by to share their culinary preparations with us. Be it the everyday aamti, exquisite puranpolis to home made masalas; sharing food was a popular way of expressing camaraderie. Borrowing too was quite common and a neighbour  eventually turned up every now and then at our house  with an empty vaati in her hand asking for saakhar (sugar), or salt, and also sometimes green chillies! Well, those memories are definitely cherished by me now when I live in a world of super convenience where every single thing gets delivered to my door step. I still remember how our immediate neighbour used to come to our house asking for a little helping of sambar when its aroma  wafted from our kitchen window over to her house. Those were the days of sharing and caring 🙂

The Marathi word for sour is ‘ambat’ and thats the origin of the word aamti. Well, aamti is a dal preparation which is supposed to be slightly sour and sweet. Some like it sour, some like it sweet but both the tastes are strictly required to make it a delectable dish.

Here goes the recipe:

Toor dal – 1 cup cooked and mashed

1 small finely tomato chopped

Kokum concentrate* or tamarind pulp – 1 tsp or as per taste

Sugar or jaggery – as per taste

Goda masala – half to 3/4th of a tsp

Salt – to taste

For the tempering:

Peanut Oil – 1 tbsp

Mustard seeds – 1 small tsp

Hing – a pinch

Haldi – half a tsp

Chilly powder – half a tsp

Green chilly chopped – 1 to 2 or as per taste

Kadhi patta or curry leaves – 4 to 5 in number

Method:

Prepare the tadka and when the mustard seeds start spluttering, add the other ingredients under tadka and let their flavours seep in the oil for a minute or two. Immediately, then add the chopped tomatoes and let it get cooked for another couple of minutes. Then add the mashed toor dal along with the other condiments of sugar, kokum and salt. Add water to adjust the consistency and let it boil. Finally add the goda masala and again allow it to boil for another few minutes. Switch off the gas and garnish it with chopped coriander leaves.

Note: Kindly do not substitute goda masala with any garam masala, for that is the ingredient which imparts that authentic taste to this dish. One can add onions, ginger, peanuts to this dal as per their liking. Peanuts when added here should be boiled along with the dal initially.

*Make sure the Kokum concentrate has no sugar added to it.

 

 

 

 

Mediterranean pizza

A good after-school snack for kids with the goodness of hummus, vegetables and cheese! Not only pretty but yummy too. My son comes home from school and smells around saying -“something nice is baking in the oven!” I am a bit apprehensive if he would like this twist in the pizza with hummus and olives in it…and he loves it!

Here is the recipe from a happy mom:

Hummus:

Chickpeas (kabuli chana) – 1 cup. To be soaked overnight and cooked soft

A dash of lemon juice – as per your liking

Thick curd – 4-5 tbsp

Olive oil – 1 tbsp

Red chilli-garlic paste (the one used in bhel puri) – 2-3 tsp (as per your liking)

Jeera powder – 1/2 tsp

Salt – to taste

Method:

Add all the above ingredients in a mixer and grind it smooth. The hummus  should be smooth and of this consistency:

Hummus

Ingredients for the pizza:

  1. Hummus – to apply on the pita bread as the base sauce
  2. Pita breads – 6 in number. I used the ready-made ones
  3. Juliennes of red, yellow and green capsicum –  1-1.5 cup
  4. Sliced onions – 1/3 cup
  5. Black pitted olives, sliced
  6. Grated mozzarella cheese (Amul, Milky Mist) – around 2 cups
  7. Sesame seeds – to sprinkle on the pizza ( I did not use it)
  8. Garlic bread seasoning OR oregano powder
  9. Red chilli flakes

Assembling the pizza:

Spread the hummus on the pita breads in generous quantities. Top it with veggies, onions and olives. Add the grated cheese, again in generous quantities. Sprinkle the seasoning, chilli flakes and sesame seeds on the top. Bake it in the oven for around 15 minutes at 180 C till the cheese melts and starts changing colour a bit. Towards the end, broil/grill it for a couple of minutes.

 

Enjoy!

 

Sihi Kootu

Sihi Kootu

Sihi means sweet in Kannada. No, this kootu (curry) is not sweet literally but it refers to the inherent sweetness of the coconut and moong dal used in its preparation. It’s a mild preparation with the minimal use of spices so that the true flavours of the original ingredients stand out. It is a super healthy dish with proteins, vegetables and coconut all cooked together in minimal oil.

As I have been documenting recipes on my blog all this while, it struck me that I need to document all the traditional recipes used by my grandmother before they are long forgotten. My paternal grandmother used to follow the Madhwa Brahmin Kannadiga style of cooking. However, it was heavily influenced by the palate of the neighbouring temple town of Kumbakonam in Tamilnadu from where my grandfather belonged.

To add to this diversity, my grandfather migrated to Mumbai for work. I was born and brought up in the suburbs of Mumbai. My mother is from the western state of Goa and my husband is a Kokanastha Bramhin from Gujarat. So, one can imagine the diverse tastes I have developed over all these years. I will definitely add some traditional dishes I have learnt from the other regions as well.

But for now, here is the recipe for Sihi kootu:

Portions:   Two servings

Ingredients:

0.5 cup moong dal

2-2.5 cups water

1.5 cups finely chopped french/ring beans. One can also use padwal (snake gourd), ridge gourd, cucumber, or any vegetable from the gourd family

1 small chopped tomato  (This is not used in the traditional recipe as tomatoes were considered to be foreign food then :))

For tempering:

1 tbsp oil

Mustard seeds – 1 tsp

turmeric – 1 tsp

Curry leaves

hing – a pinch

For grinding into a fine paste:

1/4th cup fresh coconut (grated or small pieces)

2 tsp jeera

Green chillies – 2 or more as per your taste

very little water, as required

Method:

In a pressure cooker, heat the oil and temper it with mustard seeds, curry leaves and hing. To it, add the ground coconut paste and fry it nicely for 3-4 minutes on a moderate flame. To this add the finely chopped vegetable of your choice. I have used green beans in the pic above. Add the moong dal, tomato and water and allow it to pressure cook for 5 minutes. I usually keep the flame on sim and allow it to cook for 5-10 minutes till the dal gets cooked.

Allow the pressure cooker to cool before opening the lid. Garnish it with coriander and serve it with rice or roti.

Alternatively: For better results, the tempering (of oil, mustard seeds, hing and curry leaves) can be added to the dish after it has been cooked. In such a case, one can start with frying the ground coconut paste in little oil and proceeding as mentioned above.

 

 

Raw mango chitranna (Mavinkaai chitranna)

Chitranna is another wonderful Madhwa brahmin recipe that calls for mixing cooked rice with a tangy ‘tadka’. Today, I made raw mango chitranna and the tanginess of the mango stood out exceptionally well along with coconut and other spices in this typical south indian delicacy.

One can have this as a one-pot meal any time of the day 😉

Here goes the recipe:

1 cup cooked long-grained rice (left-over white rice can also be used)

Salt to taste

To be ground into a paste (without addition of water):

1 medium-sized raw mango

5 tbsp of fresh grated coconut,

1-2 green chillies (One can skip this and increase the quantity of red chillies in the seasoning)

1 tsp sesame seeds

0.5 tsp mustard seeds

Seasoning:

3 tbsp peanut oil

1 tsp mustard seeds

2-3 de-stemmed red chillies,

A sprig of fresh curry leaves

1.5 tsp udid dal

1 tsp chana dal

0.5 tsp methi seeds ( I skipped it)

2 tbsp peanuts

1 tsp haldi powder

Asafoetida – a pinch

Method:

Make sure that the rice you are using is cooled and that the grains are not sticking to each other. Start off by preparing the paste and keeping it ready. The paste should be of the following consistency and thick:

Next, in a kadhai, heat the oil and add the udid dal, chana dal, peanuts. When the dals change color, add the remaining ingredients under seasoning and fry a bit. To this oil, add the ground paste and cook it for 3-4 minutes till the masala gets cooked. Add rice and salt and mix well.

Perfect dish to try out this mango season!

Dabeli Urff Double Roti

Dabeli is a famous street food, originating in the Kutch region of Gujarat. It’s also known as Kutchi Dabeli for obvious reasons and sometimes as Double Roti. The term ‘Dabeli’ literally means pressed in Gujarati. The delicious filling is pressed between the two sides of the pav and is toasted in (Amul) butter to give that wonderful taste.

I first got introduced to this dish in Mumbai. We had a dabeliwala who dished out delicious dabelis in our locality. The sweet and sour potato filling, highlighting the yummy flavour of the masala and chutneys bring on a craving for this dish. His dabelis were such a hit with us, that we gorged on it at least twice a week. Even now, whenever I visit my parents, eating his dabeli is a sacrosanct ritual for me 😀

 

Dabeli or Double Roti

 

Recipe:

Pav buns – 6

For the filling:

Potatoes, boiled and mashed – 4 to 5 medium sized (Approx, 2 medium potatoes can fill 3 dabeli pavs)

Dabeli masala – 2 teaspoons or slightly more to your liking.

Cumin seeds – 1 tsp

Oil – 2 tbsp

Salt- to taste

Dabeli masala (for around 4-6 portions of dabeli):

Coriander seeds – 1 tsp

Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp

Chilli powder – 1 tsp

Nutmeg – a pinch

Cinnamon – 1/2 inch stick

Cloves – 2 in number

Sesame seeds – 1/3 tsp

Black pepper powder- 1/4 tsp

Dry roast all the above ingredients for 2-3 minutes. Grind to a fine powder and store in an air-tight container.

Chutneys:

1)Green coriander chutney 

-> Take a handful of coriander leaves, 2-3 garlic pods, 1 inch ginger, 2-3 green chillies, 1 tsp peanuts (for consistency), a tsp of lemon juice and salt to taste. Grind it to a smooth paste using little water. Adjust the consistency and condiments to your liking.

2)Red Garlic-chilli chutney

-> 8-10 peeled garlic pods and a big handful of red Kashmiri chillies. Soak the chillies in warm water for around 30 minutes and then grind the chillies with the garlic and some salt to a fine paste. Adjust water as per the consistency desired. Note: do not deseed the chillies.

3)Sweet and sour tamarind and date chutney

-> Take a cup of soaked and deseeded dates; to it add 2-3 tblsp of thick tamarind pulp, 1 tsp cumin powder, and rock salt to taste. Grind it to a smooth paste using water. Add more tamarind or dates/jaggery as per your liking.

Essential add-ons 🙂

Onions, finely chopped

Pomegranate pearls/Chopped grapes

Sev, the fine or barik variety

Masala peanuts (peanuts toasted with chilli powder and salt in some oil)

Amul butter – to toast the pav

Method:

Heat oil in a pan and add cumin seeds to it. To it add the mashed potato, dabeli masala, 2 teaspoonful of tamarind-date chutney and salt as per taste. Mix well and the filling is ready! Do adjust the additions of masala, or chutney as per your liking.

To assemble the dabeli:

Slit the pavs and keep them ready. Next, apply the date-tamarind chutney to one side of the pav and the green coriander chutney to the other side. Press a big spoonful of the potato mixture on one pav. On it, add some chilli-garlic chutney and spread. Add pomegranate pearls, chopped onions, masala peanuts on the potato mixture and press it a bit.

Add sev on it and cover it with the other side of the pav. Again, press it firmly and toast it on a griddle on both sides with oodles of butter!

 

 

 

Singapore – The Jewel of South East Asia

Dec 2016

This Christmas, we visited Singapore – the Lion City of Asia. When I googled about Singapore, I was pleasantly surprised to know that Singapore stands for Singapura (‘Singa –lion, pura – town), a name it derived from Sanskrit. It is said that ancient India (before 1000 CE) exerted a profound influence on South East Asia, including Singapore and that it was a part of the Indianized kingdoms of Srivijaya empire, Majapahit and others.1  Apart from its ancient Indian connection, Singapore’s recent ‘rags-to-riches’ success story with its founding father, Lee Kuan Yew, impressed us greatly nonetheless!

 

Singapore Parliament House

We had an awesome week-long vacation exploring the city country and its diverse culture. Singapore, truly, is a lovely city in everything it offered to capture our imagination – from its towering skyscape to its neat, tree-lined streets; interspersed with beautiful open vistas of the Singapore river; its colourful, busy ethnic quarters full of zest and energy; to its daily refreshing rain showers – this little city country has much to offer to any wandering tourist.

Here in this blog, I am not going to write about the various touristy places, parks and zoos that we explored there. Singapore is quite a popular tourist destination and there is already loads of information on the net about which places to visit and sightsee.  It is also easy to move about in Singapore using their efficient Metro Transit Rail (MRT) system and Uber cabs. So, here I am going to focus on our cultural, gastronomic and shopping experiences that we enjoyed and are going to cherish for a long time to come!

Little India and Chinatown are the major cultural hubs of Singapore. Both these neighbourhoods are great places to hang out, shop and eat!  Squeaky clean streets, cheap food and lots of roadside shopping along with historic landmarks, lend its charm to these places. We wanted to visit Little India for all that we had heard about it; that this little district in Singapore is a miniature and sanitised version of the real India. And we were not disappointed! We were rather pleasantly surprised to see a mini Tamil town ensconced in there.

The moment we stepped out of the MRT into Little India, we were greeted with State Bank of India on one side and a line of Indian shops on the other – selling everything from vegetables, flowers, incense sticks, Kanjeevaram sarees, banana leaves, pooja items, etc. etc. The vendors were sprinkling water on their vegetables to keep them fresh and eventually wetting the footpaths in the process – just like in India :D. Loud Tamil songs were blaring from another shop! Komala Vilas and many other south Indian restaurants in the vicinity were buzzing with crowds. The familiar and delicious aroma of sambar was wafting through the air and whetting our appetites!

A typical lane in Little India

 Photo credit: http://www.10best.com/destinations/singapore/singapore/little-india/

We had not eaten Indian food for the past 3 days ever since we had landed! Coming from Bangalore, we visited Little India mainly to satisfy our cravings for Indian food.  We decided to go to Swad, a Gujarati thali place that proved true to its name. Armed with directions on our phone, we walked across the neighbourhood to this tiny vegetarian restaurant. We opted for the limited thali which served 3 different sabzis, dal, farsaan, khichdi/rice, and phulkas directly off the stove. Ravenous as we were, the food tasted super yummy and was gobbled up in no time.

During our numerous rides across Singapore, many Uber drivers had suggested that we visit Mustafa shopping centre situated on Serangoon Road in Little India. The 24-hours open, crowded shopping centre gave us some delightful shopping experience.  Chocolates and electronics were really cheap there as compared to those found in India!

However, unlike Little India, we visited Chinatown mainly to explore the culture and ethos of the Chinese immigrants there. Right at the entrance of Pagoda street (one of the main shopping street in Chinatown) is the Mariamman temple, the oldest Hindu shrine in Singapore. I covered my knees with a sarong wrap to enter the temple, but was not allowed to go close to the sanctum-sanctorum as visitors to the city were not allowed beyond a point.

The Pagoda street next to it is a line of Chinese shophouses on both sides of the street selling everything under the sun – right from trinkets, clothes, crockery, decorative items, spa treatments to exotic food. It also houses the Chinatown Heritage Centre depicting memories and stories of Singapore’s early forefathers.

 

In Chinatown

 

Again, a crowded street in Chinatown

 

The walk across Pagoda street led us to a MRT station and beyond that a flight of stairs took us to People’s Park Complex shopping centre. It is a modest mall as compared to the ones on Orchard Road but it did give us what we were looking for – Chilli oil and chilli paste. Yes! We absolutely love these condiments and wanted to buy it. We looked around in the mall and finally found it in a Mandarin-speaking shop on the ground floor. With a little help around the shop, we soon discovered them in one of the aisles. I incidentally found some pu-erh tea as well (the Chinese tea which supposedly has many health benefits) which we picked.

 

Chilli oil and chilli paste on the shelves

 

Pu-erh tea

 

Happy with our finds, we further wandered around the mall to reach a crowded little place serving hotpot to its customers. Hotpot, as I found out, is a simmering stew of vegetables and meat served along with noodles or rice. The dish looked super healthy and quite popular too. The wee-little shop was overcrowded! A little across the corner, we came across a shop selling dumplings of various kinds. Although I am a vegetarian, these exotic foods surely fascinated the foodie in me 😀

Hotpot

 

At the People’s Park Complex

 

At the People’s Park Complex

The Chinese New Year (which fell on Jan 28, 2017) preparations had already begun and the streets in Chinatown were a picture of colour and gaiety. Paper lanterns and decorations in red and yellow hues were all around us. We were also lucky enough to see a lion dance unfolding on the busy streets there. Our Uber driver told us that such functions were held not only during the new year celebrations but also at business-opening ceremonies to usher in prosperity and good luck. How cool is that!

A lane in Chinatown

Our day in Chinatown concluded with a visit to the famous Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. People were offering incense sticks at the entrance as a mark of respect. Again, I covered my shoulders and knees with sarongs kept in a box outside the temple.  Though this time, I wrapped myself up quite tightly with the sarong before entering the temple (it’s a pain if you have to keep on fixing the sarong time and again lest it slips :D). A holy ritual of some kind was going on with monks standing near the altar and singing prayers. The atmosphere inside the temple premises was soothing and calm. The museum on the top floor is worth a dekko too.

 

 

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
Inside the temple premises

 

Orchard Road, a well-known shopping destination, was a picture of festivity on Christmas Eve. Decorations and lights adorned the shops and the atmosphere was one of joy. We shopped in Daiso and a couple of other Japanese outlets before calling it a day. After shopping, we decided to try some authentic Chinese food. Indo-Chinese food with all the manchurians and spicy flavours that we get in India is totally Indian!  Being in Singapore, we wanted to taste the ‘authentic’ Chinese (read vegetarian :p) cuisine….And thanks to my husband’s buddy and his wife, we  dined at Din Tai Fung, a popular Taiwanese restaurant ranked as one of the Top Ten Best Restaurants in the world.

Orchard Road on Christmas Eve

 

 

 

Chefs busy making baos and dumplings in Din Tai Fung

We patiently waited for a good 45 minutes before we could enter the restaurant. We were supposed to order while waiting outside and were given the menu and the ordering card. Our friends helped us order all the right vegetarian dishes –soups, baos, dumplings, fried rice, noodles and the amazingly delicious mango pudding and yes! – not to forget the ‘gratis’ supply of green tea! The food was extremely low on fat and spices and was delicious. We really enjoyed the food, the company and the overall authentic Chinese/Taiwanese (One-China policy 😉 )experience.

No Singapore trip can be complete without visiting Sentosa, the Singapore Zoo and the famous Jurong Bird Park. Sentosa (again derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Santosha’, meaning happiness ) is an island-resort replete with theme parks and resorts. A couple of our days in Singapore were mostly spent in Sentosa, enjoying Universal Studios, aquarium, and the thrilling, ziplining ride to Siloso beach.  On one of the days, we decided to take the cable car from Mt. Faber to reach Sentosa, taking in the beautiful sights from above; and on another day we took an Uber through the underground roads of the island to reach there. Clicking pictures with the exotic birds, eating delicious coconut ice cream served in coconut shells, spotting a man taking a selfie with a huge snake around his neck; all made for wonderful, happy memories of this place.

 

Cable cars crossing over from Mt. Faber to Sentosa

 

 

Coconut icecreams

 

Inside Universal Studios

 

The Monorail of Sentosa

A visit to Jurong bird park and the Zoo were a must-do for our little one and we were equally glad that we did it. Impeccably maintained with a variety of trees and animals/birds, these places reminded us of the once lush green cover of equatorial forests, this island would have had!

Another place deserving a mention is our visit to the Gardens by the Bay. The Cloud Forest Dome in there is a cool, moist observatory showcasing plant life at different altitudes. It has the world’s tallest indoor waterfall, cascading against a mountain. The dome periodically creates an artificial but refreshing mist to mimic the natural environment. The flower dome next to the Cloud dome is equally fantastic. It is the largest glass greenhouse in the world and has an amazing, informative display of flowers and plants from the Mediterranean and semi-arid regions. Gardens by the Bay was a one-of-its-kind experience for us. It was an evening well spent. I would strongly recommend this place for all visitors in Singapore.

Exiting the gardens, we decided to dine at Clark Quay (Boat quay). We entered one of the pedestrianised lanes that curves itself along the Singapore river. The lane was buzzing with lights and crowds. It was packed with bars and restaurants set in iconic, multi-storeyed houses with the famous Fullerton hotel standing tall on the other side of the bank. We preferred the open-air seating by the river. The cool, refreshing breeze passing ferry cruises, the hearty dinner served, and my lovely family as company, all made it a night to remember!

We spent almost a week in Singapore and yet felt that there is much more left to explore. We visited all the major landmarks and tourist places and felt that we could have easily spent more time in these places. But, time and flight wait for none ;). Thoroughly impressed with Singapore, we packed our bags with an intent to return soon. Adios!

 

 

Recommended restaurants:

1)Piedra Negra – Mexican cuisine

Address: 241 Beach Rd, Singapore 189753 Phone: +65 6291 1297

2) Swad – Indian cuisine

Address: 70 Desker Rd, Singapore 209593 Phone: +65 9890 0061

3) Maharajah Boat-Quay

41 Boat Quay, Singapore 049830 Phone: +65 6535 0122

4) Din Tai Fung – Chinese cuisine (it’s a chain all over the city)

Address: 290 Orchard Rd, #B1-03, Paragon Shopping Centre, Singapore 238859 Phone:+65 6836 8336

5) Sawasdee – Thai cuisine

Address: 32 Pagoda St, Singapore 059191 Phone:+65 6327 1733

 

Recommended shops/malls:

1) Bugis Street – One of the biggest and cheapest places in Singapore to shop for clothes, souvenirs, accessories, electronics, cosmetics and houseware.

2) Daiso department store – It is a Japanese variety-store chain selling stationery, toys, decorations, gifts, etc. Items are sold for S$2 each.

3) Mustafa Centre – the 24-hour shopping centre/supermarket located in Little India

4) Orchard Road – a 2.2 km shopping stretch for high-end retail therapy

5) VivoCity Mall – located in Harbourfront precint of Bukit Merah

 

 

References:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Singaporean_Indians

Papad pohe

Have you ever wondered what to cook in a jiffy when the mid-meals hunger pangs start to kick in? You are in no mood to sweat it out in the kitchen, yet you want something jhatpat and masaledaar to satisfy your tastebuds and something substantial to keep your hunger at bay at least till the dinner time. And if its healthy, you are all the more happy 🙂

Papad pohe is one such recipe which is a different kind of chiwda but with the crunchiness of papads! Here goes the recipe:

  1. 500 gms thin poha (thin, flattened rice flakes used to make chiwda)
  2. Lijjat papad – 5  or 6 in number (any variety as per choice – jeera, udad dal, pepper, etc)
  3. Peanut oil – 3-4 tblsp
  4. Mustard seeds – 2 tsp
  5. Sesame seeds – 2 tsp
  6. Turmeric powder- 1 tsp
  7. Red chilli powder – 2 tsp or more as per one’s taste
  8. Powdered sugar (optional) – 1 to 2 tsp as per taste
  9. Salt to taste

Roast the papads in microwave or on flame as per choice.  Crush them into small pieces using your hands and keep them aside. Next, dry roast the poha till its raw taste disappears and keep it ready. Temper the oil in a kadhai with mustard and sesame seeds and once the seeds start spluttering, add the crushed papad to the hot oil. Fry it a bit for 15-20 seconds till the papads take in the oil. Add turmeric and chilli powder to the oil and mix it well. Immediately, before the masalas in the oil burn, add the roasted poha in the kadhai and mix it well. Add salt and sugar and again mix it well.

Papad pohe is ready!

 

Note: I have never used any other brand of papad except Lijjat. It tastes best with Lijjat.

Ghee – the Ayurvedic Superfood

Superfood or not, ghee or toop, as we call it in Marathi, is loved by one and all in my family. Its fragrant aroma, especially when served with dal and hot rice is heavenly! None of the top brands of ghee available on the market can ever match the flavour of home-made ghee. Yet, early on, I was always intimidated to make ghee at home. The process seemed a lengthy one and definitely beyond me.  I always used to use store-bought ghee and sometimes the ghee sent over by my relatives.  I also used to buy the tetra-pack milk for a long time and there was no cream whatsoever to churn and make ghee. Hence, I never tried my hand at making ghee until recently.

However, just a few months ago, I switched to buying cow’s full-cream milk (Nandini’s 4.5% full-fat cream milk available in Bangalore) and this is when I decided to try making ghee at home. I store the cream in the fridge for about 10-15 days and then use it to make ghee. The cream stays good for that long in the fridge.

I transfer all the cream to a deep vessel and add a couple of tablespoons of curd to it. I allow the cream to ferment for more than a day in the Bangalore weather. In more warm places like Mumbai or elsewhere, keeping the cream overnight for fermentation should be good enough, is my guess. Once the cream is fermented and ready for churning, add ample of water (cold water preferred) to help with the churning. The churning process with the butter churner takes about 15-20 minutes for me.

The deep vessel I use for churning the cream
The deep vessel I use for churning the cream

Once the butter starts floating in the vessel, transfer it to a kadhai and wash it with water a couple of times to get rid of the buttermilk. This apparently helps in getting good quantities of ghee!

Butter floating in the buttermilk
Butter floating in the buttermilk
Churned and washed butter
Churned and washed butter

Heat the butter on a medium flame for around 20 minutes. I add some curry leaves as it imparts a good, subtle aroma to the ghee. One can even add drumstick leaves to the butter. I got these tips from my grandmother; however, don’t exactly know the scientific reason behind adding these herbs/leaves, if there is any 😉

Butter to which curry leaves are added
Butter to which curry leaves are added

Once the butter has completely melted, keep an eye out on the ghee so that the sediment which is formed at the base of the kadhai is not burnt. The sediment, ideally, should be light brown in colour. We call it ‘beri’ in Marathi and it is usually eaten with sugar added to it. Yumm yumm!

ghee
Beri – white in colour

Once the beri starts browning a bit, quickly take the ghee off the heat and allow the beri to settle down. Strain the ghee using a strainer into a dry, clean jar.

Ghee
Ghee

Ghee need not be refrigerated and can be stored at room temperature for years at times without it going bad.

Some links to the benefits of ghee:

  1. http://www.indiatimes.com/health/healthyliving/17-reasons-why-ghee-is-the-ultimate-ayurvedic-superfood-234155.html
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3215354/

 

 

Kothimbir wadi (Steamed coriander cakes/fritters)

Kothimbir vadi tempered with sesame and mustard seeds
Kothimbir vadi tempered with sesame and mustard seeds

 

Mom is here  and so nowadays our evenings are special with yummy snacks rolling out of the kitchen. Kothimbir vadi or coriander fritters is a healthy snack which can be arranged in no time. The aroma of the fresh coriander leaves cooked into this dish just leaves one craving for more. I gobbled up the steamed ones without waiting for them to be fried or to be garnished with the tempering.

Without much ado, here is the recipe for it:

Ingredients

Finely chopped coriander leaves – 2 cups, tightly packed

Besan – 1 cup

Ginger-garlic-green chilli paste – 1 inch of ginger, 8-10 cloves of garlic, and 2 green chillies

Sesame seeds – 1 tbsp

Turmeric powder – 1 tsp

Chilli powder – 1 tsp

Hing – a pinch

Water – little for making the pasty dough

Salt – to taste

Method

Mix all the ingredients listed above except water. Add water in very small quantities to form a pasty dough (somewhat similar in consistency to thick idli batter). Transfer the mixed ingredients to a steamer, greased with oil and steam it for around 12-15 minutes. Note that I have added half the quantity of besan to that of the coriander leaves  which yields really fragrant kothimbir vadis.

Allow it to cool and cut into shapes of your choice. These vadis can be eaten as it is or can be further shallow fried, deep fried or just tempered with mustard seeds and curry leaves.

I had the zero-oil, steamed version and they were just as delicious 🙂

Kothimbir vadi (coriander fritters)
Kothimbir vadi (coriander fritters)

 

 

Menthada Huli

Menthada Huli
Menthada Huli

 

‘Huli’ is to Kannadigas, what ‘aamti’ is to Maharashtrians. The term ‘huli’ means sour. I cook a lot of Madhwa recipes on a regular basis (courtesy my parents and my late grandmother). Madhwa cuisine usually abstains from onion and garlic. However, over a period of time, these taamsik ingredients have found their way to our everyday meal 🙂

In my house, ‘huli’ usually refers to toovar dal to which a souring agent like tamarind is added. But today, I was in no mood to have my everyday share of protein and wanted to have something tangy to liven up my tastebuds. So, Menthada huli it was, to be made in a jiffy! This particular recipe does not use any dal. ‘Mentha’ here refers to methi or fenugreek seeds which lends its unique flavor to this dish.

This dish can be made with or without any vegetables. I added a bit of  ladies fingers to it to give it a nutritious punch. Other veggies like Bangalore brinjal, chow chow, and drumsticks too can be pre-cooked separately and added. Please note, it is important not to add other varieties of brinjals which contains seeds, to this dish.

Ingredients (Serves 3-4)

Ladies finger (okra), chopped into inch-long pieces – 6 in number

Onions – 4 medium sized onions, sliced vertically

Tamarind soaked in water – about the size of 2 lemons

Besan – as a thickening agent, about 1-2 tsp. To be made into a thick slurry with water

Jaggery powder (mildly sweet) – 2 tsp

Water – as needed

Salt – to taste

For tempering

Peanut Oil –  about 2 tablespoons

Mustard seeds – 1 tsp

Methi (Fenugreek) seeds – 1.5 tsp

Urad dal – 2 tsp

Chana dal – 1 tsp ( I did not use it)

Curry leaves

Green chilli – 1

Red chillies – 4 ( The chillies I used are very hot)

Method

Start by heating the oil for tempering in a kadhai. When the oil is sufficiently hot, put the ingredients under tempering and let its flavours ooze out in the oil for a minute or so. Next, add in the ladies fingers and onions and cook till the vegetables are almost done. Once the ladies fingers are cooked, add in the tamarind pulp, and about 1 small cup of water.  Add the  thick slurry of besan  to the gravy and let it simmer for 4-5 minutes till the besan gets cooked. Add jaggery powder, salt and check the dish for its consistency. Add more water or besan slurry to adjust the consistency of the dish to your liking. You can add more jaggery as well to suit your taste buds 🙂

This is a hot (not spicy!)  preparation and is ideal to be eaten with rice and a side of papad. It is more of a comfort food for us, which gets done in no time. Hope you try it and enjoy it!