Shortcut Bhel Puri

The kind of holiday I really like is the one where I am the only one on holiday and everybody else is busy. Kids are at school and very important – husband is working too and not from home. Others at home are away too. I am at home, I am alone and I am free. I can watch TV but I’ve lost touch. I don’t know what I’d like to watch. I can sleep but I am too excited to. I can read. Aha, What a pleasure! Which among all those “first chapter alone re-read several times to get back into context” books do I read now – “Sita’s Ramayana”, “Interpreation of Dreams”, “Hegemony or Survival”? Or should I write? Should I read or should I write? I am not making the de facto lunch of the house. I am not making rice, sambar, varuval and poriyal for lunch. I am not making dosai for those who won’t eat rice. I am not making an extra poriyal for those who won’t eat kezhangu. I am not making omelettes to order during lunch hour. I am not making an extra portion of rice just to be on the safer side and then deal with the leftover rice. I am not cooking at all. I am making a bad-ass shortcut bhel puri. I am going to lounge in my shorts, have some friends over – no mommy friends I need to behave with, where I need to be at my best. Note to me: There aren’t any such.   It’d have to be lazy-ass friends who’ve seen worse, who can be just as bad. +Sangeetha, +Lakshmisri Gopalan come to mind. We’d eat extra large portions of bhel puri for lunch, watch a dabba Tamil movie on K TV, talk and gossip uncensored, uncut and unthinking. My shortcut bhel puri is truly shortcut. And you know how fond I am of shortcuts however long they may be. I had to visit 4 grocery stores this week to get all my ingredients in place, not that they’re difficult to find. But I just couldn’t find the one ingredient that I wanted in the store that I had gone to. Happens to me all the time. I make a simple sweet and sour sauce with tamarind and jaggery and that is by far the only work in this recipe. I have to say this but I...

Homemade Puff pastry | Bakery style egg puffs and vegetable puffs

I told you last week that I am on a diet, that you’re going to see more salads and stir-fries and I am eating healthy. Today I post butter layered, utterly butterly buttery puff pastry recipe. Therein lies the twist. No twist. These are from the heydays of my carefree eating a couple of months back which I am posting now instead of earlier because my timing is bad and I can’t remember nothing. There is no excuse not to make puff pastry and none whatsoever to not eat it. I’ll forego my entire lunch (if I really have to) for one piping hot, fresh from the oven egg puff that crackles with every bite spilling lovely crispy golden shards of puff pastry down my kurti. I’ve always heard how puff pastry is really complicated and difficult and that it requires lots of skill and practice. I won’t say it’s easy. It takes time and patience but it is definitely doable and successfully at that by any first timer. This was my first attempt and what can I say other than that they were simply astounding. This was my bedtime routine that entire week. I’d lug my pastry dough, jumbo rolling pin, flour and plywood board to our bedroom every night leaving it all by the bedside to let the dough soften while I got Yuvi and Hasini into their night dress, while Yuvi sang, while Hasini sharpened her pencils down to nothingness, while they tumbled around the pillows, while Yuvi told me what Bheem and Dolu Bolu did that day, while they laughed their heads off at made up words “Druka”, “buduka”, “damputippa”, while they settled into their beds and dozed away. I’d then step over to my Pastry Dough rolling out station and in a great cloud of flour, start. I’d quickly roll out the dough, fold back in, turn it around and again roll out, fold back in, turn around, roll out, fold back in, roll, fold, turn, roll, fold turn until the butter held up. I’d stop when the butter started to ooze out. I’d shove it back into the fridge and continue later. I did this for 3 days maybe 4 or even 5, can’t say. I was lost in it. Then I finally rolled out the puff pastry dough into one large sheet, cut it up into smallish squares and froze them ready to be filled...

Leftover Dal Tikki

Happy Vinayaka Chaturthi everyone!  Strangely I have the TV and remote all to myself and I am flitting from one cinema climax to the next and I am loving it. Strangely there are so many good movies on today and not “Singam” or “Singaravelan”.  Sorry, that was last week when I sat down to write this. I loved “Yaam Irruke Bayame”. It was hilarious. “Endrendrum Punnagai” was good too. I’ve been sitting on these Leftover Dal Tikkis, an absolutely cracking puff pastry recipe, my first really well decorated red rosette cake and a whole lot of stories but haven’t been able to sit down to it. I don’t want to open the fridge these days. It is scary. Yesterday’s rice, last week’s lemon rice, alpha, beta 1 and beta 2 versions of the same coriander chutney, assorted slices of cakes, extra frosting, light fresh rasam, concentrated rasam, multiple loaves of bread, huge dabbas of dosai maavu (dosai batter), one hardened chappathi dough ball that’ll make exactly one chappathi.... multiple blocks of butter, the half tin of cherries (from the fantastic blackforest cake), multiple bags of lindt chocolates (we hoard lindt chocolates) and Hershey’s kisses stare me in the face (We’re out of eggs though). And I can’t find a place for my little bowl of dal. I told you about Joint families. We’ll have multiple versions of everything but never enough eggs. Some repurposing was in order. I wasn’t going to throw out my favourite dal. I re-arranged, switched smaller dabbas for a few bigger dabbas and managed to squeeze the dal into the fridge. We were going the have leftover dal tikkis the next day (but I made up the recipe as I went along). I first cooked the dal down to a thickish consistency, adding in powdered oats, some fresh green peas and spice powders, drizzling in some oil now and then to help along and reducing it to a dough almost. I then shaped it into tikkis, rolled in bread crumbs and shallow fried in butter and oil. I didn’t have to find a place for the dal tikkis in the fridge that night. The tikkis were gone. Success! Next alpha, beta 1 and beta 2 chutnies.. Prep time: 10 minsCooking time: 15 minsMakes: 10-12 tikkis Ingredients Any leftover Dal – 1 cupGreen peas – ½ cupOats – 4 tbsp powderedRed chilli powder – ½ tspGaram Masala powder...

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...

Aloo Tikki Chole | Indian Chaat

The third and final combo dish in the series and Jagan’s all-time favourite chaat order, here is Aloo Tikki Chole. He actually prefers his chole with samosa but that wasn’t one of the Combo dishes list in Blogging Marathon. So Aloo Tikki Chole it was. The Aloo Tikki Chole turned out really well and Jagan enjoyed it thoroughly. You could deep fry the Aloo Tikkis for that wonderful crisp, yumminess that only deep fried foods can provide. Shallow frying is a good alternative if you don’t want to use up too much oil and that tastes pretty good too. This combo is substantial enough to be served for a filling breakfast. That’s what I did. But you could serve it along with evening tea as well. I am writing this post from home, so there’s no time for funny stories. Just the recipe this time. Lucky you guys! Prep time: 30 minsCooking time: 45 minsServes: 4 Chole Ingredients Kabuli Channa/White Chickpeas – 1-1/2 cups soaked overnightBlack Cardamom – 3Cinnamon – 1 inch stickCloves – 3Onions – 2 large chopped fineTomatoes – 2 large chopped fineGinger Juliennes – 1 tspRed Chilli powder – 2 tbspGaram Masala powder – 2 tspSalt to tasteOil – 2 tbspButter – 1 tbsp Aloo Tikki Ingredients Potatoes – 4-5 large boiled, peeled and mashedRed chilli powder – 1 tbspGaram Masala – 1 tspTurmeric powder – ½ tspCoriander powder – ½ tspAmchur powder/Raw Mango powder – 2 pinchesSalt to tasteOil – 3 tbsp Garnish Sweet Tamarind chutney – 2-3 tbsp for garnishGreen chutney – 2-3 tbsp for garnish1 Large onion – chopped fine for garnish Method 1.       Prepare a potli (small cloth bag) tying together the whole spices – black cardamom, cinnamon and cloves together. Drop it into the pressure cooker. Rinse the soaked chickpeas and dump them into the cooker. Now throw in a tea bag as well. If you don’t have tea bags, just add a teaspoon of tea leaves/tea powder to the potli. Add sufficient water and pressure cook till soft. Switch off, discard the potli and set aside. 2.       To a kadai, add 2 tbsp oil and when hot throw in the ginger juliennes followed by the chopped onions. Fry till they turn translucent. Then add in the chopped tomatoes and fry till they turn soft. Then add the spice powders and salt and mix well. Add the boiled chickpeas and mix well....

Vazhaipoo Vadai – Banana Flower Vadai

Vazhaipoo Vadai is really special, it symbolises traditional Tamil cooking to me. I am not the only one who feels that way, even Rajeev Menon does. I love it that in “Kandukondaen Kandukondaen” Mammooty and Manivannan search all over town for Srividhya and family but are unable to find them and then they’re at a hotel and they order Vazhaipoo vadai. They taste the Vazhaipoo vadai and immediately ask to see the person who made the vadais as they know the distinctive taste of the Vazhaipoo vadai, they know that it has to be Srividhya who made those vadais. The Vazhaipoo vadai plays a key role in “Kandukondaen Kandukondaen”, definitely more important than Abbas’s role. The director did not choose Molagga bajji, Bonda or Masala vadai, he chose Vazhaipoo vadai, because it’s special, it’s sophisticated (you won’t find Vazhaipoo vadais in tea kadais), and it is made differently in different families. Picking the Vazhaipoo (banana flower) is a little time consuming, but the rest of the process is quite straightforward like your other vadais. I picked the florets the previous night and immediately dumped them in buttermilk to avoid discolouration. I put the entire thing in the fridge (florets, buttermilk and all) and then used it the next morning to make the vadais. There are a couple of ways we make these vadais – the recipe I am posting today uses Channa dal (kadalai paruppu) and this is how we make it in my husband’s place. My mom used pottukadalai (roasted gram) instead of Channa dal which I’ll post some other time. The Channa dal version I am posting today looks and tastes closer to a masala vadai. These vadais are made quite thin and the vazhaipoo florets in this recipe are not ground fine so you can taste the crispy fried vazhaipoo bits when you bite into a vadai. I love vazhaipoo vadai. I am slightly partial to my mom’s pottu-kadalai version but this Channa-dal version tastes great too and I have to consciously control my hands while making these vadais. I tend to munch on vadais and deep-fried snacks involuntarily while making them. Prep time: 30 minsCooking time: 20 minsMakes: 25-30 vadais Ingredients Vazhapoo (Banana Flower) – 1 florets picked and immediately dunked in buttermilkKadalai Paruppu/Channa dal – ¾ cup soaked in water for an hourOnion – 2 medium chopped fineGreen chillies – 2-3Garlic with peel – 6-8 podsFennel...

Kamarkat

Kamarkat is a quick and easy snack to make. You just need 4 ingredients. I usually avoid sweets that contain coconut but I am partial to Kamarkat. Some Kamarkats are really hard and tough to bite. I like my kamarkats soft and chewy and this recipe yields just that – soft, chewy sticky sweet kamarkats. I think these’ll make great car snacks for kids. Chewing on these Kamarkats will keep their little mouths busy and you can enjoy some peace while driving. Kamarkat always evokes fond childhood memories for everybody. Those were great times when we’d chew on these sweet, golden thingies for ages. There were also these candied mango strips which we’d buy at the road-side potti kadai (small shop) and these were like the “naturo” bars that sell now. The mango strips that we ate were un-branded. They were kept in those big glass jars that are synonymous with potti kadais. These little potti kadais were a child’s paradise – they had all kinds of sweets – kamarkat, butter biscuits, groundnut chikkis, all in those see-through glass jars. Every street corner would have a potti kadai. Candy heaven was always just a few steps away. Compare that with those huge, garish, ridiculously expensive lollipops available in that candy store (don’t remember what it was called) that’s invariably there in every mall. I bought one of those for my daughter and all of us together couldn’t finish even a quarter of it. We had to throw it away. Nothing like old times! I was sceptical about my kids, if they’d like Kamarkats but they ate one each and pronounced it good. So a dabba of kamarkat goes straight to the car. I am sending this recipe to Srivalli’s Blogging Marathon for the theme – “Sweet Treats for Kids”. Preparation time: 5 minsCooking time: 10-15 minsMakes: 25-30 gooseberry sized balls Ingredients Jaggery – 250 gmWater – 1/2 cupCoconut – 1 gratedGhee – 1-1/2 tbsp Method 1.      In a kadai/skillet, heat jaggery and water together. When the jaggery has blended well and starts bubbling, filter the mixture to remove the impurities. 2.      Wipe the kadai clean with a kitchen towel and return the mixture back to the kadai/skillet. Let the jaggery cook and thicken. Test doneness by rolling a tiny drop of the mixture between your fingers to make a ball. If the ball holds its shape without sticking and is...

Chicken Kati roll

I love Kati rolls. I especially am a huge fan of the Frankies that they sell in little kiosks in Chennai. They’re great on-the-go food – fun and tasty. I make these for my husband’s lunch box some days. It’s quite simple really. Make rotis, make a thick, not-too-sloppy filling (you could use paneer, mixed veggies, potatoes, minced meat or chicken like in this recipe) and roll. That’s it. You can jazz these rolls up in several ways- layer beaten eggs for more punch, top with grated cheese (and let melt on tawa while cooking), season with spice powders, garnish with onions/green chillies, add fresh veggies and sauces (subway style). The options are endless. These are great lunch box food for kids. You could make bigger rolls, slice them in an oblong fashion like spring rolls and serve as party snacks also. I made a chicken filling, you can substitute paneer in its place and reduce cooking time. I am afraid majority of my recipes are now chicken based. My family is to blame. They’re chicken crazy. I am a vegetarian majorly, would you believe? I am an occasional non-vegetarian, my husband is a compulsive non-vegetarian. To him, if it’s not chicken, it’s not food. Prep time: 10 minsCooking time: 20 minsServes: 2-3 Ingredients Filling Chicken – 1/4 kilo boneless, cleaned and cut into bite size piecesOnion – 1 large chopped fineTomato – 1 large chopped fineGinger-garlic paste – 1 tspGreen chilli – 1 chopped fineRed chilli powder – 1 tbspTurmeric powder – 1/2 tspSalt to taste Oil – 2 tbspButter – 1 tspEggs – 2 beaten with salt and black pepper powder Roll Wheat flour – 2 cupsSalt – ½ tspWater for kneading Method 1.      Prepare the dough for the rotis by adding water little at a time to the wheat flour and kneading well. Knead till you get a smooth, soft, non-sticky dough. Cover and set aside. 2.      Break 2 eggs into a bowl, add salt and black pepper powder and beat well. Set aside. 3.      In a pan, heat oil, when hot add the ginger garlic paste and sauté for a minute. Then drop in the chopped onions. Save a handful of the chopped onions for garnishing later on. When the onions turn translucent, drop in the chopped tomatoes and fry for 1-2 minutes. 4.      Add the chicken pieces, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and salt. Mix...

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