Sunday, April 20, 2014

Street Food Mumbai - Batata Vada - Fried Potato dumplings

Deep fried heaven on the streets of Mumbai- This is also a staple of the people of Bombay (Mumbai). Seriously- I doubt there is even one person in Mumbai who has not succumbed to the guilty pleasure of a hot spicy batata wada or the vada pav - which is basically a fresh batata vada served between a split pav (kinda like a sourdough dinner roll) with a spicy garlic chatney.
Every time I go back to India- I head to my favourite batata vada stalls. One is in Chembur- right at the end of the lane where we lived- Nandu's vada pav. The other is Shrikrishna vada pav in Dadar BB opposite Chabilldas school - for some reason we called the place Manju che vade. The third is Joshi vadewale in Pune. I am sure there are plenty more places which make awesome vadas- but these 3 are my personal favourites.
This is a pure Maharashtrian recipe - many others have tried to adapt it- I once had the MISfortune of eating a 'Banaras' style or North Indian style batata vada which had basically some form of aloo-mutter stuffed inside and the batter was so thick that ....well you can imagine. They better not attempt to bastardise this pure Marathi dish.
Now that I have lived in US/Canada for the past 15+ years I have made many attempts to recreate that bit of culinary heaven in my kitchen. But when I go back to India I head straight to my favourite haunts- nothing compares.
But here goes -

For the filling:

250 Gms Potatoes
3 green chillies
2 springs of curry leaves
1 tsp shredded ginger (not paste)
1 tsp finely chopped garlic (again - not paste)
2 TBs chopped coriander leaves - no stalks
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp asafoetida (hing)
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp udad dal
1/2 tsp lime juice
2 TBs oil (for the tempering)

Boil, peel and mash the potatoes. Add the salt. chopped chillies and coriander leaves. Heat oil in a frying pan, add the mustard seeds, when they splutter, add the hing, udad dal, turmeric, ginger, garlic and curry leaves. Fry on a low flame till the ginger and garlic lightly cooked. Do not burn the garlic. Add this tempering to the mashed potatoes. Mix well and shape into balls about and 1.5 inches in diameter.

150 gms besan (chick pea flour)
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp red chili powder
pinch of baking soda
Oil for deep frying

Make a thick batter - adding water a little at a time. It should be a bit thinner than pancake batter.

Heat oil in a deep fryer or a small wok (kadhai). It should not be smoking hot.

Dip the potato balls one by one in the batter and fry them in the hot oil till a lovely golden colour. Drain on paper towels.

These have to be served hot with garlic chutney and with or without the pav.

Garlic Chutney

There are again so many variations of this chutney. The dry version is a Marathi staple again. It has always been served with Batata vada or bhajias. A great side dish with dal - rice. And awesome when eaten with bhakri (rotis made with jowar or bajra flour). But more on that later. For now the basic lasun (garlic) chutney recipe.

1/2 cup peeled garlic cloves
1/2 cup desiccated dry coconut (UNsweetened)
10-12 dry red chillies or 2 tsp red chili powder
pinch of sugar
1 tsp oil

In a non-stick frying pan, roast the garlic cloves with oil till golden brown. Be very careful, you do not want burnt garlic. Then roast the coconut till brown. Let everything cool. Then add all the ingredients from garlic to sugar to a food processor and blend till coarse. You can adjust the spice level by increasing or decreasing the red chilies or chili powder.

Serve this chutney with the batata vadas and close your eyes and imagine yourself in the bylanes of Mumbai. yummmm.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Dal Fry

A simple dal fry and rice is a favourite meal in our house. Add some pickles and papads - and you are set!

Amruta specifically asked for this recipe - so here goes...

1 cup dal (any dal will do - masoor, toor or moong)
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp hing
1 tsp chopped ginger
Boil till dal is cooked. Don't add too much water. Start with 2 cups and bring to a boil. Then simmer till done. You can always add more water if needed.I usually cook the dal in a pressure cooker. But you can also adapt this recipe for a slow cooker. 
Add the dal, turmeric, hing and chopped ginger  to the slow cooker with 2 cups of water. Cook for 4-5 hours if using toor dal. Cook only for 2-3 hours for moong/masoor dal.

For the tempering:-

3 tbs ghee
1/4 tsp jeera
1/4 tsp hing
1/2 tsp finely chopped ginger
7-8 curry leaves
2-3 garlic cloves crushed or chopped
Green or red chilies as per taste. If using whole red chillies use 3
Chopped tomato
Fry this till it smells nice. ;) on medium heat
Add the cooked dal and fry till the masala has coated the dal.
Adjust thickness.
Add salt and sugar. 1 tbs sugar.
Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Lentil Curry (masuryachi Amti)

This one is posted especially for Amruta - it's her absolute favourite. Requires a little bit of prep - making the masala- but otherwise it's as easy as pie!

CKP talala masala (CKP fried masala) also called kaala masala

This is a must have in CKP kitchens. Its made fresh everytime you need it- so the taste of the dish is also unique. Freshly made masalas always taste much better. But in today's world its not reasonable to expect everyone to fry and grind spices everytime they make a curry. So I have listed the spices used - you can dry roast these and grind them in a coffee grinder and store. Just don't make too much at one time.

1/2 cup coriander seeds
1 TBS cumin seeds
1 TBS black cumin seeds
1 TBS fennel seed
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp peppercorns
10-12 green cardomoms
5-6 black cardomoms
2 inches cinnamon
3-4 star anise
1/4 cup poppy seeds
5-6 bay leaves

Dry roast these spices till nice and dark brown. Let cool. Grind in a coffee / spice grinder. Store in an airtight container.

1 small red onion sliced thinly lengthwise
2 TBS dry coconut
1 tsp oil

 Roast the onions in oil till brown, add the coconut and continue roasting till it is toasty and dark brown. Do this on a medium flame so the onion and coconut do not burn.
Blend with a little bit of water to a fine paste

Now on to the curry.

1 cup brown lentils (soaked overnight)
1 large yellow onion - chopped
1 tsp ginger - garlic paste
curry leaves
4 pieces kokum
1 tsp jaggery
oil, hing, mustard seeds, turmeric, red chili powder, salt

Heat oil and temper with mustard seeds, hing, turmeric. Add chopped onion and curry leaves. Fry till the onion is translucent. Add ginger - garlic paste, 2 TBS of the ground masala (spices), the drained lentils and 1/2 tsp of red chili powder.  Saute for 5-6 minutes. Add water just enough to cover the lentils, cover and cook for about 15 minutes. Add salt to taste. Check on the doneness of the lentils. They should be soft and the skin should open to the touch. Cover and cook till done. Add the jaggery and kokum. Add the ground coconut- onion paste and adjust the consistency. Bring to a rolling boil.

garnish with chopped coriander leaves. Serve hot with chapatis or rice.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Bhendyachi bhaji - Okra

These are called lady fingers back home in India. In the US they are known as okra and are quite popular. There is some difference in the Indian variety and the locally grown ones that you get in US/Canada. For one the Indian variety is smaller, a slightly darker green and has less 'slime' when cooking.
 If cooked properly, the vegetable loses all its 'slimy' feel and it turns out really nice.

1 lb okra (Indian variety if you can find it)
3-4 green chillies
10-15 curry leaves
3 TBS oil
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp asafoetida powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp lime/lemon juice
2 TBS finely chopped coriander (cilantro)

Wipe the okra with a damp cloth and slice off the heads. You can chop the okra length-wise or cross-wise- doesn't make a difference to the final outcome.
Chop the green chillies into big pieces (they should be noticeable so you don't  eat the chillies by mistake)

Heat oil in a pan- either a wok or a paella pan works great. Add the mustard seeds, when they sputter, add the turmeric and the asafoetida. Add the chillies and curry leaves. Add the chopped okra and saute for 5-6 minutes on high heat. Add the salt and sugar, saute for 2-3 minutes more. At this point the stickiness might increase due to the salt and sugar. Cover and steam for 7-8 minutes on low heat, till the okra is cooked.
Turn up the heat and saute till all the moisture evaporates. The okra will start to crisp up at this point. Lower the heat and add the fennel seeds and lemon juice. Saute for 2-3 minutes and garnish with finely chopped coriander.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Street Food Mumbai - Pav Bhaji (Spicy mixed vegetables with bread)

Pav Bhaji (pav meaning bread and Bhaji meaning vegetable) is Bombay (meaning Mumbai) street food. It is basically a wonderful spicy mashup of vegetables served steaming hot with a pair of hot buttered rolls. Some finely chopped red onion, coriander leaves and a squeeze of lime- and you are set to go. Don't skimp on the butter.

It gets its taste from a unique mixture of spices - blended just in the right proportion. But thankfully you can get this spice mix all ready at any Indian store. I use the Everest brand- just a personal preference.

I do add extra chili powder (Indian - which is cayenne ) to the preparation but you can adjust the spice to your liking and tolerance.

2 cups cauliflower florets
1 cup peas
1 cup carrots
2 cups potatoes cubed
1 large red pepper
2 cups finely chopped onion (run it through the chopper)
1 cup tomato chopped
1 TBS tomato paste
1 tsp ginger paste
1/2 tsp garlic paste
3 TBS Pav Bhaji masala
1 tsp chili powder (to taste)
coriander leaves (finely chopped)
red onion (finely chopped)

sourdough buns (or you can get 'pav bhaji' buns from the Indian store)

Steam the potatoes, carrots, peas and cauliflower till soft. Run the red pepper through a chopper till finely chopped. Mash the steamed vegetables together. keep aside

In a large pan, heat oil add the chopped onion and saute till light brown in colour. This takes over 10 minutes, so be patient. Once the onion is done add the tomato puree, tomato paste and ginger and garlic paste, Saute for another 5-6 minutes.

Add the chopped peppers and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the mashed vegetables and mix very well. Add the salt, the pav bhaji masala and chili powder if desired and mix well.
Add about 2 TBS of butter at this stage. Add about a cup and half of water. Mix well. Cover and cook on low heat for about 15 minutes.  This will allow the masala to flavour all the vegetables.

Adjust seasoning if required, garnish with chopped coriander, chopped onions, a wedge of lime and a pat of butter. Serve with hot buttered buns.

Pork Stew

This is a favourite at our house...and what's not to like. Pork and lots of veggies- ultimate in comfort food. Serve it with a crusty California sourdough bread to mop up everything.
It's a one dish meal, easy to prepare- takes very little prep time. 

4 Bone In Pork Chops (or you could use stewing meat.) - cubed
10-12 pearl onions. (use frozen or fresh.)
8-10 small red potatoes
1 lb button mushrooms
4 stalks of celery
12-15 baby carrots
2 shallots finely chopped
4 garlic cloves finely chopped
2 sprigs of fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried thyme)
red chili flakes
olive oil
2 TBS white wine
2-3 cups chicken stock
1 can Campbells mushroom soup

Heat Olive oil and saute the garlic and shallots till translucent. Add the pork and saute till brown. Add the wine and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the vegetables except mushrooms and keep cooking for about 5-6 minutes. Add the mushrooms, the soup and thyme. Add 1 cup chicken stock. Salt, pepper and chili flakes to taste. Cover and cook till the pork is tender. You will need to add more chicken stock as you go. Usually takes about 30 minutes on low heat.

Fish out the bones (if present) and serve with good sourdough bread.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Chicken and Dumplings

Yum yum yum...comfort food at it's yummiest.
It's an American favourite and I have always wanted to try it. The dumplings eluded me- but finally I have it.

My own tweaked version of chicken and dumplings. Got a thumbs up from my daughter...hope you like it too.

To prep the chicken

3 Chicken breasts (bone in)
4 stalks of celery
1/2 cup of carrots
1/2 an onion
3-4 garlic cloves

olive oil

Rub olive oil, salt and pepper on the chicken. Roast the chicken and vegetables at 350 degrees for 35 minutes (till chicken is done).

When cool, take the meat off the bones and cut into 1 inch pieces. Should be about 3 cups.  Keep aside. Discard the vegetables.

1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup onion chopped
4 garlic cloves finely chopped
2 TBS butter
2 TBS olive oil
1/4 cup flour
4 cups chicken stock
2 TBS dry white wine
1 1/2 cup green beans
1/2 tsp chili flakes

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the butter to it. When it melts add the garlic, celery, carrots and onion. Saute till the onion is translucent. Add 1/4 cup flour and stir for 1 to 1-1/2 minutes. Add the white wine and stir till it is absorbed. Slowly add the chicken stock - stirring all the time. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 5 minutes. Add the chicken and the green beans to the pot.

For the dumplings

1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 TBS finely chopped parsley
2 TBS cold butter
1/2 cup cold milk

Mix  everything from flour to parsley. Cut the cold butter into the flour. Mix the milk. Drop the batter by the spoonful into the saucepan.

Cover and cook for about 12 minutes till the dumplings are cooked.

Sprinkle chopped parsley on top before serving.