Indian Statewise food – A Roundup of the past month

Here’s a short recap of the last one month’s statewise blogging marathon conveniently compiled in a single page. I’ve put together all the regional foods from all over India that I posted over the last one month. Feel free to click on the images of specific dishes to get to the recipes.  After this non-stop marathon month of blogging, I am exhausted, but inspired and restless. I hope it has inspired you guys to try new dishes in your everyday cooking too. Tiffen and Snacks Andhra’s Pesarattu has always been a family favourite tiffen but this time I made Pesarattu along with it’s best friend Allam Pachadi (ginger chutney) and the duo is unbeatable. I had a great time deep frying my way through Dal pooris of Jharkand, the sel roti (sweet batter rings from Sikkim) in the strangest of shapes, the tasty egg shoap from Nagaland and the lovely bhaturas (the stuff of dreams). Chhattisgarh’s rice Pakoras are the easiest pakoras you’ll ever find. Badeel was Uttarakhand’s version of poricha paruppu urundais – a yummy anytime snack. The vegetable momos and red chilli dip transported me to north-eastern India. Curries The curries were all a grand success – the Punjabi chicken Tikka being the best curry forever (BCF), the creamy luscious Pondicherry Fish Assad, the everyday Oriya Dalma (will be a regular on our menu), delicious Bihari Gugni, Delhi’s famous street food Matar Kulcha, Goa’s famous Vindaloo, the absolutely magnificent Mutton Rogan Josh of Kashmir (that can give any restaurant rogan josh a run for its money) and the simple and elegant Sana Thongba from Manipur (a light Paneer and Peas curry). Kerala’s Pal Appams bombed (I waited and waited for the batter to ferment, checking every now and then more eagerly than I waited for my engineering results) but the vegetable stew saved the day – it was just about perfect. Soups, Chutnies and Dips The red chilli dip is a real keeper – perfect for so many things. The Tomato oambal of Tripura was a revelation – a wonderful fusion of sweet, tangy and hot notes in a simple salsa like chutney. The Thukpa, a himalayan noodle soup is full of fresh, simple flavours. Rice dishes Maharashtra’s Varahadi Masale Bhaat was a wonderful spiced one-pot rice and vegetable meal – easy and tasty. Karnataka’s Bisi Bele Baath was a thing of beauty. This would be my go...

Rasmalai – Bengal special

Whoever came up with these little milk soaked sweet melt-in-the-mouth treats was a genius. Rasmalai is one thing the entire family agrees upon – everybody even both mother-in-laws, the two ends of a spectrum do. This was the first time I tried Rasmalai at home. I’ve come halfway before – I’ve made Rasgullas before but not Rasmalai. If you can make Rasgullas then you’re pretty much there. You just need to slightly flatten the rasgullas, squeeze out the sugar syrup and then dunk in the reduced sweetened milk. I made these Rasmalai for a pot luck and they were a hit. They’re a crowd pleaser and they really aren’t too difficult at all. Rasmalai is from the state of West Bengal which lies in eastern India. West Bengal has a rich tradition in literature and arts and most definitely food. Fish and rice are important Bengali staples but so are sweets. Bengali sweets are distinctive – they’re light, spongy and not overly sweet. I am really looking forward to trying more Bengali sweets in future now that the Rasmalai turned out well. Freshwater fish are abundantly cooked in Bengal. The panch phoran whole spice mix and mustard paste are characteristically Bengali and are used in a variety of dishes. I can vouch for the panch phoran being a magical combination. I don’t know about mustard paste though. I think you’ve got to “get it” to like it. I am always impressed by the pride and passion with which Bengalis talk about their food. Bengali food is something that’s always been on my to-try list. With this state-wise marathon my interest has been piqued even further. This state-wise blogging Marathon has opened up a world of dishes made right here in India. I am rediscovering the food of my own land (TamilNadu) and it was fascinating learning about it. Put together, India’s cuisine is as fine, rich and intricate as any other world cuisine. I am no expert but I don’t know if any other country would have such a massive, ingenious variety of foods. The curries, kebabs, biryanis and dosas are just the popular few that restaurants chose to sell. The wealth of Indian food is made every day in homes, roadside stalls and villages. I need look no further for inspiration. Prep time: 20 mins Cooking time: 1 hour Makes: 40 small Rasmalai Ingredients – Sweetened milk Milk –...

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....

Lapsi – sweet from Uttar Pradesh

We are on our last mile of the statewise blogging marathon – just 3 more to go before we wrap up this Indian food odyssey. I am already feeling wistful about the non-stop blogging the past few weeks and the months of preparation that went into it. I truly am grateful to Srivalli and the wonderful blogging marathoners for this wonderful experience. I’ve learned about so many wonderful new dishes, it has opened up my thinking. Everyday cooking is no longer going to be the same anymore. The Lapsi of Uttar Pradesh is going to be my new Kesari. Made just like kesari but with broken wheat, Lapsi is creamy, nutty and yummy. I loved it. I picked a simple sweet from Uttar Pradesh. Uttar Pradesh is a large densely populated state in northern India. It has a long history, has a number of famous monuments and attracts a large number of tourists every year. Uttar Pradesh has a rich food culture, the very famous Awadhi cuisine has its roots in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. I’ve been guzzling more oil than an old Ambassador car with all the deep frying I’ve been doing this month what with the statewise blogging and the sweets I made for the recent birthdays. I decided to take it a little light and easy and made this Lapsi instead. I’ll definitely be making it again.   Prep time: 5 minsCooking time: 25 minsServes: 5 Ingredients Broken wheat rawa – 1 cupMilk – 3 cupsGhee – ¼ cupSugar – ¾ cup Method 1.      In a heavy bottomed wok, roast rawa in 2 tbsp ghee on low heat stirring often to make sure it doesn’t burn – about 10 minutes. 2.      Pour in the milk, stir well, cover and simmer till all the milk is absorbed and the rawa is cooked through. 3.      Add sugar and mix well. Once the sugar dissolves and the lapsi is nicely thickened (reaches a kesari/halwa consistency) pour in the ghee and mix well. Switch off. Garnish with fried cashews. Serve warm. Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 39 Uttar Pradesh An InLinkz Link-up

Tomato Oambal – Tripura chutney

I am exhausted after my TamilNadu meal post and I have just enough strength to give you an elevator pitch about this Tomato Oambal from Tripura. Tripura – landlocked small state in the northeast – mostly mountainous – home to many tribal groups and Bengali migrants. Culture and cuisine also influenced by Bengali practices. Tripuri food uses a lot of fermented fish and bamboo shoots. Oambals are made with a variety of vegetables – tomato, pumpkin being the most common ones. This tomato oambal is hot, tangy and sweet all at the same time – loved the explosion of flavours in every bite – served Jharkand dal pooris with this tomato oambal – loved it. Must try. Prep time: 5 mins Cooking time: 15 mins Serves: 4 Ingredients Tomatoes – 3 large chopped fine Whole dry red chillies – 5 broken in half Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp Raisins – 1 tbsp (I skipped these) Jaggery – 1-2 tbsp Salt to taste Lemon juice – 1 tsp Oil – 1 tsp Method 1.       Heat oil in a pan. When hot, add mustard seeds and when they splutter, throw in the red chillies. 2.       Throw in the chopped tomatoes and sauté till they turn soft. Add a little water if necessary.  Add jaggery and salt and mix well. When is semi-thick like a chunky sauce switch off. Serve with anything. Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 39 Tripura An InLinkz Link-up

TamilNadu Meals

There’s no place like home and there’s no place like TamilNadu. TamilNadu is my home state. I’ve been living in Chennai my entire life except for a brief period when I was in Bangalore and I’d happily live the rest of my life here in Chennai knowing for sure that I can get the freshest Keerai on Station road in West Mambalam, the best filter coffee powder on Arya Gowda road, the top quality cashews and wheat in Parrys corner, the best catch of fish on Lloyds road and the world’s tastiest idli sambar in Rathna Café Triplicane. I can’t think of anything else. I know no better. To say TamilNadu is just about idli dosai sambar, non-veg food is all about Chettinad food and veg food is TamBram food, is to believe “Chennai express” is about Chennai. There is a treasure trove of food to Tamil Nadu, much more rich and varied than restaurants, advertisers and others would have you believe (although idli-dosai, TamBram and Chettinad dishes are special in their own right). Idli-Dosai are definitely the most popular tiffen that are had for breakfast, dinner or as a snack any time of the day. Idli-Dosai are my life savers. Our bottom shelf in the fridge is reserved totally for Idli-Dosai batter. They keep well, are easy to make, are quick and can be varied endlessly. No wonder they’ve captured the imagination of people the world over. If you thought otherwise, Non-vegetarian food is as popular as vegetarian food. A simple potato varuval is made using a curry podi by Brahmins, powdered whole spices by Chettiars, using onion and ginger garlic by Naickers.. Every food is made by every community but differently and each one is as delicious as the other. This is not to say that Chettiars don’t use onion-garlic or others don’t use whole spices. Now everybody does it every way. There are slight nuances that differ between even each household. I love it that the thengai araithu kuzhambu (ground coconut stew) that my Periamma does is different from the one my mother does which is again different from the one my maamiyaar (mother in law) does. The Kari kuzhambu that we make in Chennai could be very different from the one made in Trichy, Aathur or Andipatti. In fact, the cooking in the smaller towns and villages is usually untouched by restaurant flourishes and is quite...

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...

Malpua – Rajasthan Dessert

We had chosen Malpuas for dessert from the hotel banquet menu for some occasion and nobody was with me. Malpuas were my choice. I had tasted it in Sree Krishna sweets sometime back for the first time and I loved it. But everybody else wanted carrat halwa or gulab jamun, the crowd favourites. I am generally notorious for selecting the worst items off any hotel menu and everybody was wary. We finally did have Malpuas for the occasion but they weren’t as nicely made and everybody told me “I told you so”.  I tried to make it at home once after that and they turned out ok but not great. I was determined to make Malpuas work. I know they’re divine and I wanted my family to know too. I made Malpuas again a couple of weeks back for Rajasthan and I took my time with it. I tasted it at every step knowing well that I cannot correct for less or more sugar later on. The consistency of the malpua batter is very important too. I measured, added everything in small increments because although I had a rough ingredient list I wasn’t following any recipe. I prepared the batter and sugar syrup the night before and fried them the next morning. I warmed the sugar syrup the next morning. I patiently fried them batch after batch without cranking up the heat because it was getting late for office. And I am delighted to announce that this time the Malpuas were gorgeous. Everytime I passed the fridge, I snucked a malpua into my mouth. They were heavenly. Jagan loved them and said they were great. Half a litre of milk yielded around 30-40 small malpuas – enough dessert for almost a week. I’d definitely make them again and maybe for a special occasion too. Rajasthan is the largest state in India. Did you know that the sowcarpet marwaris are originally from Rajasthan? Rajasthan is famous for its snacks and sweets and its colourful art. It’s also a hot tourist place now, in every sense of hot. I’d like to visit Rajasthan too sometime. Prep time: 15 minsCooking time: 30 minsMakes – 30-40 small malpuas Ingredients Whole Milk – ½ litre Maida – 1 cup Unsweetened Khoa – 100 gm Sugar – 1 -1/2 cups (adjust slightly as per taste) Oil/Ghee – for deep frying Pistachios – 10 slivered Sugar syrup...

Chicken Tikka Masala – Punjab special

I love the Punjabi food ideology – whole milk, full fat, heavy cream. These guys really know how to eat. Tandoori chicken, butter chicken, chicken tikka, kebabs, shahi paneer, Rabri, Batoora, Kulfi – Cream, butter, Ghee, paneer their food is rich and lip-smacking. This is not to say they don’t make healthy everyday stuff which they do, but those don’t interest me as much as these cream and butter loaded goodies do. Most Tandoori dishes originated from the former undivided Punjab. Most restaurants carry many of these Punjabi dishes, proof of their universal appeal. The chicken tikka masala and butter chicken masala are legends. The tandoori roti deserves a life-time achievement award.Among the most successful of all my state-wise recipe experiments and the most enjoyed one was this Chicken Tikka Masala. Chicken tikka masala has perfectly spiced chicken that is grilled and folded into a creamy, delicious onion-tomato based curry, laced with cream and butter.  Chicken Tikka Masala is one of the most popular british curries and I forget the number but several tonnes of it are sold every week. CTM as it is fondly called, although a recent adaptation, it is very much a Punjabi dish. I adapted Madhur Jaffrey’s chicken Tikka masala recipe from her book “Curry Nation” using her marinade as is but changing the curry slightly. It is a winner, no doubt. You can safely try this for the first time for a party without worrying about how it’ll turn out. It is perfect. But be mindful while grilling the chicken as it is very easy to overcook them. Vegetarians, just switch paneer for the chicken and you have the wonderful paneer tikka masala. Just as delicious. Prep time: 15 minsCooking time: 40 minsServes: 4 Ingredients – Marinade Chicken – ½ kilo boneless pieces cut into small chunksGinger-Garlic paste – 2 tbspFresh cream – 4 tbspLemon juice – 1 tspKashmiri red chilli powder – 2 tspCumin powder – 1 tspGaram Masala – 1 tspGhee/Melted butter – 2 tspSalt as necessary Ingredients – Curry paste Onions – 2 medium chopped roughlyTomatoes – 2 medium chopped roughlyGreen chillies – 2 roughly choppedGinger – 1 inch pieceGarlic – 4 clovesCinnamon stick – 1 inch piece Ingredients – Curry Yogurt – ¼ cupKashmiri red chilli powder – 1 tspGaram Masala – 1 tspCumin powder – 1 tspSalt as necessaryButter – 2 tbspOil – 1 tbspSugar – ½ tspFresh cream –...

Fish Assad | Pondicherry style fish curry

Pondicherry means a lot of different things to people – beautiful French style street houses and cobbled stone roads just off the beach (that feature in every Tamil movie song and even in commercials now), Auroville (not been there yet, so won’t smart-mouth that), street shopping (my friend Priya tells me it’s worth driving down to Pondicherry for just that), cheaper car registrations.. But to Chennai men, it means just one thing – Booze heaven. Pondicherry is a union territory you see, so a lot of things are cheaper there – petrol, car registrations and booze being the most important ones. From Chennai, Pondicherry is a 3-hour car ride down the scenic and now traffic and accident prone East Coast road (ECR). I call ECR scenic by Chennai standards. You’ll get to see the beach as you drive along ECR and that’s scenic for us (Kaaka Kaaka movie, “Ennai konjam maatri” style. Open hair in a jeep wouldn’t work for us, common girls. So don’t try that). The area just off the beach is like a little French town. The restaurants are all named “Le Blah”, “La Duh” and they serve francized Indian food and authentic French or Italian food and they charge at euro rates. We ate at one of these restaurants going by the reviews on a popular restaurant portal and were terribly disappointed. There are antique stores and craft stores that also operate in the same vein. Behind this pretty French part of the town is a kind of canal, beyond which lies the Indian Pondicherry. Pondicherry is predominantly Tamil and most Tamil families in Pondicherry cook Tamil style food – Rice, Sambar, Idli, Dosai and the likes. My grandfather was from Pondicherry and “Pondicherry” is part of my father’s name. The Franco-Pondicherry food as Lourdes Tirouvanziam describes in her book “The Pondicherry Kitchen”, is very similar to Tamil food. I tried the Fish Assad from her book (recipe here) and it turned out great but it is remarkably similar to the Fish Kurma that we make. It’s creamy, delicately spiced and yummy with steamed rice. I’ve not come across restaurants that serve Franco Pondicherry food in Pondicherry (only fake-Indian food); but I’ll give it a try if I find one. Prep time: 20 mins Cooking time: 20 mins Serves: 4 Ingredients Sea Bass – 1/4 kg, cut into strips or smallish pieces (You can use Seer...

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