Badeel – Fried Lentil bars from Uttarakhand

The Badeel from Uttarakhand must be the North-Indian cousin to South-India’s Poricha Paruppu Urundai (which I wanted to make as part of the TamilNadu meal last weekend but couldn’t). For Badeel, we grind soaked masoor dal and cook it with onions, chillies and spice powders until a little dry, turn on to a plate, cut into diamond shapes and then fry to crispy, tasty perfection. Sounds like a lot of work, but isn’t really. I really liked Badeel. It’s a nice side with rice. It also makes for a filling nutritious snack that can be packed into kids’ tiffen boxes. Uttarakhand is mostly covered by the Himalayas and has many ancient temples and pilgrimage centres – Badhrinath and Kedarnath among the most auspicious Hindu pilgrimage centres.  Uttarakhand was carved out of Uttar Pradesh and Himalayan areas in 2000. The famous Him Corbett National park is in Uttarakhand. I remember reading Jim Corbett’s “Man eating tigers of Kumaon” as a kid. It made for a fascinating read. Garhwali and Kumaoni are the two major communities in Uttarakhand. Their food comprises a lot of lentils, rice and vegetables. I’ve never tasted Badeel before. So I hope I’ve made as close a replica of the Badeel as they make in Uttarakhand. Close or not, it was tasty.   Prep time: 20 minsCooking time: 25 minsServes: 6 Ingredients Masoor dal – 1 cupGinger garlic paste – 1 tspGreen chillies – 3 chopped fineOnion – 1 large chopped fineTurmeric powder – ¼ tspGaram Masala – ½ tspRed chilli powder – 1 tspCoriander powder – ½ tspSalt to tasteOil – for shallow frying Method 1.      Rinse and soak masoor dal for 2 hours or overnight if that’s convenient. Drain the water and grind the dal to a coarse, chunky paste without adding water or very very little if necessary. 2.      Heat a pan, add 2 tbsp oil and when hot throw in the chopped onions and green chillies and sauté till the onions turn translucent. Then add the ginger garlic paste, ground dal, spice powders and salt. Mix well and fry till the dal mixture turns a little dry and leaves the sides of the pan (it shouldn’t get crumbly though). Turn the dal mixture on to an oiled plate, spread it with a flat spatula to a ½ inch thick layer and level it. Let cool. 3.      Cut the cooled dal mixture into diamond shapes....

Sikkim’s Selroti – Deep fried sweet rings

The Selroti is a famous street food in Sikkim. It is this ring shaped deep fried sweet bread made from ground rice, banana and sugar. Getting the ring shape is not easy and predictably my Selroti is anything but ring-shaped. I am not even a “round roti maker”. I realize that that sentence sounds a little funny. I mean I can’t make perfectly round rotis (round that I am now) if my life depended on it. I can make any shape but a round one. These Sel rotis were out of the question. I tried my best in between bouts of yelling at the kids to stop fighting, to switch off Chotta Bheem, to not pour water on the chairs. I couldn’t find a banana (would you believe that?), so I skipped that. A couple of bananas usually lie around on the dining table browning slowly. But that day, there wasn’t a single banana. Like the time I decided on a cake recipe, got the oven preheated oven, measured out flour and sugar, brought eggs to room temperature and then realized I didn’t have butter. “Mise-en-place”, I always misplace (‘cos I am a nutcase). Sikkim is a very small state in the north-eastern part of India. It has a Nepali majority. It is mostly hilly. Now I remember. We’ve been to Gangtok (in Sikkim) on our honeymoon. We went to the Rumtek monastery also. I remember buying a Chinese style kimono type top in the Gangtok market that I never fitted into and which is doing duty as a prop for my Chinese food photos. I never had a chance to try these Sel rotis though. The sel rotis that I made were nice and crispy on the outside and a little chewy. I tried making a small batch as I wasn’t sure how they’d turn out. They were pretty good but they soak up quite a bit of oil. They’re nice to munch on with your tea or coffee. Prep time: 15 mins + overnight soaking Cooking time: 20 mins Makes: 2 dozen rings Ingredients Raw Rice – 1 cup Banana – 1 small (I skipped as I didn’t have it) Sugar – 1/3 cup Ghee – 1/3 cup Cardamom powder – pinch Oil – for deep frying Method 1.      Soak rice overnight. 2.      Grind soaked rice adding a little water to a nearly smooth paste. Add sugar, ghee...

Egg Shoap – Nagaland breakfast

Egg shoap was among the few north eastern foods that Jagan and kids enjoyed thoroughly. Egg shoap is a little like our potato bonda but without the besan and  with egg in it. Egg shoap I read is a popular Naga breakfast. It is easy, quick and yummy. Anything with potatoes, that is dipped in egg, rolled in bread crumbs and is deep fried has got to be delicious. Nagaland is among the smallest Indian states. It is mostly mountainous and is home to several tribes majority of whom are now christians. Nagamese a form of Assamese is the most widely spoken language in Nagaland. Naga food involves meat and fish which are usually smoked or fermented apart from rice, boiled vegetables and chillies. I really am not sure where this egg shoap fits in that picture but I found it on the net saying it is a popular Naga breakfast and I clung on to it. I really couldn’t risk putting another veggie broth before my family, although we enjoyed the thukpa quite a lot. Jagan liked the egg shoap he had them for lunch. He placed a couple of egg shoap in his chappathi, drizzled some ketchup and rolled it up to make a egg shoap wrap. It was a pretty nice idea and it tasted great. Prep time: 20 mins Cooking time: 15-20 mins Makes: 12-15 egg shoap balls Ingredients Potatoes – 2 medium, boiled, peeled and mashed Eggs – 2 boiled, peeled and mashed roughly Onion – 1 small, chopped fine Green chillies – 3 chopped fine Cumin powder – ½ tsp Garam Masala powder – ½ tsp (optional – I added) Turmeric – ¼ tsp Salt to taste Egg – 1 beaten lightly Bread crumbs – 1 cup Oil – for deep frying Method 1.       Boil two potaoes till tender. Cool, peel and mash them. Set aside. 2.       Boil 2 eggs. To boil eggs, place them in a pan, cover completely with water and bring to a boil. Let boil for about 8 minutes. Switch off and cover. Let sit in the hot water for 15 minutes. Open the lid, run the eggs under cold water and peel them. 3.       Mash the eggs. Add them to the mashed potaoes. Throw in the chopped onions, green chillies, spice powders and salt and mix everything together. Don’t add any water. Makes sure the mixture is thick. If...

Vegetable Momo – Meghalaya

We first had momos on our honeymoon in Darjeeling. Those were the best momos to date. They were piping hot served alongside a spicy red chutney in a small shack overlooking the snow-clad mountains. They were perfect for the cold weather. Since then we’ve had momos at small kiosks outside department stores, in supposedly good Chinese restaurants and at 5-star places and none of them matched those momos we first had. I made chicken momos last year for a party we had at home and they were great. They came very close to the Darjeeling momos if I do say so myself. Everybody loved them. I used the same recipe to make these vegetable momos and these were really nice too, but they don’t evoke the same kind of emotion from my predominantly non-veg family. Meghalaya one of the north-eastern states of India is bounded by Assam in the north and Bangladesh in the south. We’ve been to Shillong the capital of Meghalaya. Shillong is among the few urban areas in Meghalaya. Nearly one-third of the state is covered by forests. The much-repeated Cherrapunjee of our geography lessons is in Meghalaya. Cherrapunjee receives the highest rainfall of all places on earth. So cool. Rice and pork are the most commonly eaten food in Meghalaya. Different varieties of mushrooms that flourish during the monsoon are also used in the cooking. Fermented soyabean paste, fermented fish and different types of herbs are used to add flavour to the dishes. Dishes are sometimes cooked in bamboo cylinders or bamboo leaves which infuse the food with the flavours of bamboo. Momos are popular in all the north-eastern states. I made these vegetable momos and a hot red chilli chutney to go with it. I thoroughly enjoyed the combination. Prep time: 30 mins Cooking time: 10-12 mins Makes: 15-20 momos Ingredients Carrot – ½ cup chopped into small thin matchsticks Cabbage – 3/4 cup shredded fine Paneer – 100 gm crumbled Ginger – 2 tbsp minced Garlic – 2 tbsp minced Onion – 1 medium finely chopped Soy sauce – 1-1/2 tsp Green chilli sauce – 2 tsp Salt to taste Black Pepper powder – 2 tsp (adjust) Spring onions – 2-3 finely chopped (green & white separated) Oil – 2 tbsp Ingredients – For the cover Maida – 1 cup Salt to taste Water as necessary Oil – 1 tbsp Method 1.      Mix Maida...

Bhutte ke Khees | Spiced Sweet corn – Madhya Pradesh street food

First up, a few updates on what’s happening in life..  It was my dad’s birthday last Sunday and I made a Madeira cake for him. It turned out great, looked exactly like McRennet’s Madeira cake and tasted great too. I made an exception and did not run away with it for a photo session. I was in a hurry, as we were getting my son’s cast removed that day and we had to be at the doctor’s at 9:00 am. I don’t even make it to office by that time. But Sunday, we actually made it by 9:00 am. I grabbed the Madeira cake hot from the oven, dropped it into a plastic cover, pan and all and took it along. My son is finally free from his PoP cast but in 1 and half months he seems to have turned a leftie. He still uses his left hand to race his little cars. I am relieved to be able to give him a bath without having to hold up his hand. I really wish he’d slow down. I worry about the little fellow. If you’re wondering, he is 2-1/2.  Today’s recipe is not much of a recipe but it’s a nice variation of sweet corn to have up your sleeve. It’s sweet corn slightly differently spiced. This bhutte ke khees is a popular street food in Madhya Pradesh. Madhya Pradesh is one of India’s biggest states bang in the centre of India. Its claim to fame is that it’s old and historic and has a number of world heritage sites including the Kajuraho temple and the stupas at Sanchi.  There are quite a few variations of Bhutte ke Khees on the internet that are a little more involved. I picked mine from a Nita Mehta book and it is almost too simple.  Jagan yelled at me today – “You need not photograph every single thing you cook”. He was waiting for his lunch box and I ran upstairs with my bhutte ka khees for some urgent passport photos for the blog. I clicked a few random shots and hurried back down, spooned some bhutte ke khees into his lunch box (as thanks for waiting) along with his chappathi and cauliflower curry and then handed it to him. I told him “Today it is Madhya Pradesh” and Bhutte ke khees has to go on air today! He glared. He doesn’t...

Dabbroo – Himachal Pradesh’s Sweet wheat pancakes

I made these sweet wheat pancakes just this morning. I had them for breakfast today. I have the sweet after-note of the Dabbroos still lingering on my tongue as I type this. This recipe is from Divya Sud’s “Flavours from the Kangra Valley. A nice selection of recipes from the book were featured in Dec’13 GoodFood magazine and I picked this recipe from the magazine. I really liked most of the recipes featured – an arbi and methi stuffed cornmeal parantha, a lightly spiced cauliflower stem dry curry, a pulao and this easy peasy dessert. Why I chose this dessert I needn’t say. It was the easiest and quickest, it was last minute and I had no time. I did not really think much of it. I thought it would be ok. I was wrong. It tastes great. It really does. Himachal Pradesh lies in the western Himalayas and Kangra valley is a part of Himachal Pradesh. The Kangra cuisine uses yogurt, fresh spices and herbs and very little of aromatics likes onions and garlic. Their Khatta (sour gravies) and Madra (yogurt based chickpea curry) are popular but I am really keen on trying the arbi-methi cornmeal parantha. It sounds exotic and delicious and definitely worth a try. These Dabbroos are perfect as Neivedhyam for poojas instead of the regular Kesari. These are just as quick and are really tasty too. They can make lovely sweet appetizers too if they’re made small. I’ll be making them again soon. Remember to make the pancakes real fine and thin. They taste best when they’re made thin. Prep time: 10 mins Sitting time: 1 hour Cooking time: 10 mins Makes: 10 small pancakes Ingredients Wheat flour – 1 cup Milk – ½ cup Sugar – ½ cup Water – ½ cup (adjust) Ghee – 10 tsp Method 1.      Mix together wheat flour and sugar in a bowl. 2.      Pour in milk and water and whisk to make a lump free pancake batter. You may adjust the proportion of milk and water slightly as per your liking. Let sit for 1 hour. I left it overnight in the fridge. 3.      Heat a well seasoned dosa tawa or a non-stick tawa and ladle about a ¼ cup of the batter on the tawa and very quickly spread it out into a circle using the back of the ladle. Make it as thin as possible. Drizzle...

Rice pakoras | Chhattisgarh snack

One of the recently formed states, recent meaning after I was born, Chhattisgarh spelled with the double h (somebody please explain how the extra h adds anything) was part of Madhya Pradesh up until 2000. Is it only in India that we go about bifurcating, trifurcating states every now and then or does it happen all over the world? Apart from creating extra elections which is maybe what they’re all about, I really don’t see how these divisions do anything. What if they want to break up Tamil-Nadu? Scary! Thenganadu, Manganadu, Nellikanadu.. Nooo! What’s a state without the subtle differences in the language/lingo, the ever so slightly different curries, the wonderfully different customs?   I may not know the problems of Chhattisgarh, what life is in Chhattisgarhis but I can say one thing for certain.. . . . You make damn good rice pakoras. Keep it up. Thanks for the easy and tasty recipe. I made these rice pakoras one weekend for tea and they were ready in under 20 mins. It will likely take you lesser because I am scatterbrained and I search for salt when it is right under my nose. These rice pakoras are nice and crispy if you make them the right shape. Make them round and you’ll have doughy fritters. Make them small and flatten them instead and they’ll turn out perfect. Fry on medium low heat for best results. Serve hot with ketchup or just as is alongside tea or coffee. Prep time: 10 mins Cooking time: 10 mins Serves: 3-4 Ingredients Rice Flour – 1 cupOnion – 1 large chopped fineGreen chillies – 2 chopped fineCoriander leaves – a handful choppedCumin powder – ½ tspRed chilli powder – 1 tsp (I added. Not part of original recipe)Yogurt – 3 tbspWater as necessarySalt to tasteOil – for deep frying Method 1.      Mix together rice flour, chopped onions, green chillies, chopped coriander leaves, cumin powder, salt and red chilli powder. Add yogurt and mix. Add water little at a time to make a thickish batter of dropping consistency. 2.      Heat oil in a heavy bottomed kadai/pan. When hot, drop teaspoon sized portions of the batter into the oil. Fry till golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon to absorbent paper. Serve hot. Notes 1.      I found that round pakoras were somewhat soft and doughy. So I flattened them between my fingers into random shaped coin...

Pan Roasted Paneer

Schools have reopened for the third term and we’re back to the usual grind all the while looking forward to the Pongal holidays coming up next week. Here’s a quick and tasty dish that you can easily rustle up on weekday mornings for your kids’ lunch boxes. An extremely quick roasted paneer dish that is sure to please kids and adults alike, this pan roasted paneer can be varied innumerable ways. You can serve this roasted paneer as a side with rice or rotis or simply as a snack. Stick in tooth-picks even and serve as party appetizers. Hasini loves paneer, she fishes them out of gravies and chomps on them. I make it easier for her by making these easy to eat roasted paneer. This is a perfect dish for weekday mornings. Just remember to toss the paneer in the marinade the night before and refrigerate. The next morning, just heat up a pan and shallow fry these paneer pieces till nice and roasted. Don’t worry about over-cooking the paneer. Generally over-cooked paneer turns rubbery, but I was pleasantly surprised that this paneer didn’t turn rubbery. I am guessing the marinating did the trick. This goes into my Somberi series of recipes – a special compilation of easy, no work recipes for lazy people like me. Are you lazy enough? Check out my Somberi series of recipes and see if you’re up to it. Prep time: 5 mins Cooking time: 5 mins Marinating time: 2 hours or overnight Serves: 4 Ingredients Paneer/Cottage cheese – 200 gm cubed Ginger-Garlic paste – 2 tsp Red chilli powder – ¾ tsp Lemon Juice – 1 tsp Water – 2-3 tbsp Salt to taste Oil – 2 tbsp Method 1.      In a bowl, mix together ginger-garlic paste, red chilli powder, salt and lemon juice. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time to make a marinade of medium consistency neither too thick nor too runny. Drop in the paneer cubes and use your hands to coat the paneer pieces well. Refrigerate overnight or for a minimum of 2 hours. 2.      Heat a tawa and add the oil. When medium hot, arrange the marinated paneer cubes on the tawa/pan and cook on medium low till the paneer pieces turn golden. Gently flip over and cook so that the paneer pieces are roasted on all sides. Remove from tawa and serve hot with steamed rice and...

Fish Fingers

These fish fingers were the biggest hit at Hasini’s birthday party couple of weeks back. Fish fingers are a great make-ahead party appetizer and they were one of the first things I got done for this party and they were the first things to go. Kids loved the fish fingers as did the adults. I prepared nearly 4 kilos of fish fingers (the day before the party) and it took me approximately 1-1/2 hours to get it all done. But I was mighty pleased that one big item on the party menu was done and was sitting snug in the freezer ready to be deep fried.  I stacked the fish fingers in neat lines in a big rectangular plastic box, and used butter paper to separate the layers of fish fingers to avoid sticking/breaking. The next day, I thawed them for a couple of hours and then deep-fried them in the afternoon but the party was not until late in the evening. I just warmed them in the oven before serving and they were perfect. I served them with mayonnaise and ketchup. I’ve given the scaled down family-size recipe though. This is an Indian fish finger recipe with just the right amount of heat and masala. I was apprehensive of trying the western type fish fingers with just salt, pepper and parmesan as I was serving it at a party and the crowd was mostly Mayandi Kudumbathinar type. This is really easy and there’s almost zero cleaning (seafood generally involves a lot of cleaning) involved. So here it is, a sure winner and a must try recipe. Prep time: 15 minsCooking time: 10 minsServes: 4-5 Ingredients Seer Fish – 15 boneless pieces cut into 1 inch strips Ginger paste – 1 tspGarlic paste – 1 tspLemon juice – 1 tbspRed chilli powder – 1-1/2 tbspSalt to tasteEgg – 1 beatenBread Crumbs – 1 cup spread on a plateOil – as needed for deep frying Method 1.      Rinse the fish pieces in 2 changes of water till the water runs clear. Handle gently. Pat dry and set aside. 2.      In a bowl, mix lemon juice, ginger paste, garlic paste, red chilli powder and salt to make the marinade. Dump the fish pieces into the marinade and mix well so that all the fish pieces are well coated in the marinade. Let rest for 20 minutes. 3.      Pick one fish piece at a...

Crispiest Crunchiest Masala Vadai

I tasted these masala vadais for the first time at Kanniamman Kovil, Manapakkam where we’d gone for my daughter’s first “mottai”. The Mottai is a common custom in Tamil culture. Seen Kizhaku Cheemaiyile? Typically at 9 months of age, babies get their heads shaved at a temple. This is a big occasion, a milestone in the baby’s life and is celebrated with gusto – Pongal is made on a traditional cow-dung fired stove to be offered to god, biryani is made in huge deksas and family and relatives gather to feast and gossip. People arrive early in buses and vans along with their goats, deksas and jamakkalams (a thick durry/bedspread). Menfolk chat idly or play cards, children run around excitedly and women go about preparing the pongal and biryani. My daughter’s was a very low key affair, but it was during the month of Aadi and the temple grounds resembled a carnival with merry-go-rounds and several tiny stalls selling everything from glass bangles, plastic toys and mud pots to fresh curd and Masala vadai. Ah.. those Masala vadais! Now masala vadais are quite commonly made at homes, hotels and tea stalls and they’re all tasty and quite nice in their own right. But these vadais have got be the crispiest, crunchiest of them all and they’re absolutely irresistible. Every time we go to the temple, we make a dash to the vadai kadai and commission the paati sitting there to make vadais full-time for our party there while the children get their mottais, are bathed and dressed and we make the pongal. The secret to these vadais is the chana dal rava. For these vadais, you’ll need to break your channa dal (kadalai paruppu) to a rava. You can get this done easily at your nearest flour mill. Store this rava in an air-tight box and whenever you fancy masala vadais, just soak this rava in water, combine with chopped onions and green chillies and deep fry. There – you have (wait, don’t wince – one more “crunchiest” coming up) the crrrunchiest vadai in town. It’s quite ingenious really. This recipe has the advantage of being way simpler and quicker than the traditional masala vadai recipe. Try it, you’ll love it. Thank you paati for the great recipe. Picture taken during my nephew’s mottai. They’re so cheap too. God bless the paati who serves up these delicious vadais everyday. Replicated...

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