Friday, September 21, 2018

The story of a dog named Quilla and a recipe for Bottled Tadka OPOS Style.

For as long as I can remember, I've wanted a dog. 
I would, in my childhood, come home with random puppies I'd adopted from the street. Every time I did this, my mother would shut the door in my face. I was never allowed to step in. 
My heart would break, every single time. 
To make up for that, I befriended every dog in the colony I lived in. But it was never the same. I needed a dog of my own. 

My son is also very fond of dogs, just like I am. He wants needs a dog, but M, is against the idea. 
My heart just shattered into a million fragments, I had wild hopes that my dream would come true after my marriage... my son is sad too. 
To compensate, we go to the Humane society and walk dogs. 
It isn't the same. 

So, in September, for the Labor Day, I planned a small getaway. We went to Kanab. My plan was to visit the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary I've been planning this vacation since last winter.
We set up our volunteering session (it's a 3 hour shift) and in return, we could take a dog  with us, to our hotel room, for a sleepover! It was the closest thing to owning a dog, just for one night. 
We did a tour of the sanctuary and then volunteered. The afternoon was very hot and so dog walking was out of question, we did the cleaning up part and then helped with doggie dinner time.
If you want any details, leave a comment or email me and I will share all I know.
For now, I will let the pictures do the talking

It starts here, the Sanctuary is located in Kanab, with a stunning backdrop of Angel Canyon. It's a sprawling facility which accommodates dogs, cats, horses, pigs, birds.  You need your car to go from one point to another.
It all starts here.
 We wanted to work and volunteer with dogs and were assigned  to Fairways. Volunteer duties vary, in the mornings it involves feeding and walking the dogs. We were there in the afternoon, so our duties involved cleaning, filling the pails with fresh cool drinking water and then feeding.

My boys on cleaning duty. If you must know, I was on poop cleaning duty :) poop- diaper... once a mom, always a mom! 
I was looking forward to our doggie sleepover more than anything! At last, all our jobs were done and we got to meet 'our' dog, Quilla. She is a Pit bull Terrier mix.
M, who is usually *very*.... very wary of dogs  also warmed up to her. She is the sweetest thing. All she wanted was cuddles and to be loved and we made sure she got plenty of those.
Our reward for volunteering
 It was so much fun, taking her on walks, well, she took us for walks, I must admit. The best part was how happy, S was around her and talking to her. He'd go, "no, Quilla, nooo. Follow me, come on ! come with me.... " specially when he saw others watching and smiling. Because she was just too strong for him, I held on to her leash, Li'll S just walked by her, chest puffed out because he had a dog. 
I strutted a bit too (~ blush~). I couldn't help it.I was just so happy! 

Giving me company
 She is such a quiet dog, we did not hear a peep out of her all evening. And so intelligent! She sensed that M was a bit nervous... so she would go up to him, crawling on her tummy and look up at him, her tail wagging and eyes silently demanding love. She got what she wanted, every single time.

 Where Li'll S and I were concerned, she didn't need to ask! We were more than ready to hug her and pet her! We needed it more than she did, I guess.
It's ALWAYS hug time! 
This was the best part of our holiday. The next day we went to Bryce Canyon National Park, it was beautiful. We also had fun in the snow fall at Bryce Point. All in all a very happy holiday.

As always on a road trip, I prefer to carry my Electric Pressure Cooker / Instant Pot with me. We eat out during the day, but for dinner, after a long day of hiking or walking and climbing, we love home made food. Simple and uncomplicated, comfort food. 
For my family, this translates to making Khichadi (rice + moong daal+ tadka / tempering) and pickles.  Yogurt, if available.
I usually make khichadi packets, add water and salt to taste and cook. But this time, I did not plan well, so washing and drying the rice and lentils in time was difficult. The risk of carrying damp rice and lentils is, they become sticky and moldy. Its goes in the trash bin, To avoid that, I carried rice and lentils separately and decided to wash and cook as needed. and I made Bottled Tadka. 

Now, if you are wondering, if she is carrying an IP, whats the issue? Make a tadka in the inner pot, right? Wrong!  The thing is, I did not want to carry all the ingredients for the tadka : oil in a small bottle and ziplocs with spices. I made my life easy with this hack! 

For those of you who haven't heard of OPOS (One Shot One Pot) technique,  it is exactly as the name suggests, one pot cooking, in one shot. The idea is to layer food in a sequence and cook it on high heat, in a 2 liter pressure cooker. Because food is cooked on high heat, it's pressure baking. The convenience is the best part.. well, that and the fact that the foods retain a vibrant color and taste great too! 
If you are interested in learning this technique, there are simple rules to follow ( this only ensures your success). The first thing to do is, standardize your 2 liter cooker. Watch the entire video and follow the timing, Once this is done, go on to other recipes. 

To make Bottled Tadka, this is the basic and simple version. You can make variations to it. I make this version as I find it useful for almost all dishes I opos.

In your 2 liter pressure cooker ( wiped clean of any moisture), add 1 Cup of Oil. I used Canola.

One Cup oil

To this, add 1/4 cup Mustard seeds / Rai/ Sarson/ Mohori

1/4 cup Mustard seed
Add halved red chilies. I added about 15-18.
Halved red chilies
 Add some curry leaves. I had dried curry leaves my aunt gave me. If you are using fresh curry leaves, wash and pat the leaves dry and then add them.
Add curry leaves
If you have asafetida in the 'stone' form, add it now. If you use powdered asafetida, like I do, do not add it. just wait.

Now close the lid and start the stove on High Heat. This is the time you need to be a bit alert. Start a stopwatch on your cell ( it gets easy after a few tries, but initially, the stop watch helps). You need to keep listening to the mustard seeds popping sound. 
In my case, the popping started at about 2 minutes and 25 seconds. 
As soon as the popping slows down, whip the cooker off the heat ( in my case, since I have coils, they stay hot for a long time and hence I just whip the cooker off the heat and set it aside on a cool coil) and let the pressure settle normally.  I had the cooker off the coil by 3 minutes,
The pressure will settle quickly. Open the cooker lid, the oil is still very hot. Add asafetida and stir it in. Done! 
Add asafetida to the hot oil

 Let the tadka cool. Transfer it to a clear glass bottle and once it is room temperature, it is ready to be refrigerated and used as required.

You can make variation to the tadka as per your requirement. If you need a tadka with lentils in it, like Urad and Channa Daal, to make it a South Indian tadka, add the daals after the mustard seeds.

Ready to be bottled
This will stay fresh for a long time in the fridge. Maybe a month. But I use it every day, and for daals / amti/ sambar/ rasam so I have never really checked how long it stays fresh. 
The thing is, when I was in India for 2 months over summer, I made a big batch of this for M and he barely used a quarter of it. I used the rest after coming back home and it was still good! 
Bottled and ready

The above mentioned quantity made one bottle full, in my case, I used a Priya Pickle bottle I had. I got this bottle full and a couple of tablespoons over that. 
OPOS, Bottled Tadka, OPOS bottle tadka

This tadka can be used to temper not just daals, but simple vegetable stir-fry ( french beans, potato masal for poori or dosa, ivy gourd) and can also be added  when making khichadi (like I did on this road trip) or to dahi-butti (yougrt rice). All you need is a bit of pickle! mm-mm-mmm! 

That's it from me today. Hope you all have a fantastic weekend, doing just what you please! 
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Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Kawan Samosa. Baked, Not Fried.

Every now and then, I have this intense samosa craving and it just won't go away! 
I think the Indian grocery store in my neighborhood has samosas on weekends, but I rarely go there on weekends, the store is small and overcrowded. It just isn't worth the trouble. 

That still doesn't solve my problem. I'm still without samosas. 
The craving still won't go away. 
The joy of munching on a samosa is unlike any other. 
It reminds me of movie halls and interval times when I would rush to the concession stand to buy greasy, absolutely lip smacking, piping hot samosas.

I don't feel like buying a pack of frozen samosas, they take up too much space in the freezer. 

So how do I get my samosa fix?  I guess I must make them myself. But, (here I go again), the deep frying? I don't want to do that because samosas need to be fried at low temps and for a long time to get the outer cover that, flaky texture. 

So then, I saw this brilliant hack on a Facebook forum. They used Plain Kawan Parathas to make the cover and baked them. Brilliant or what!?

So of course, I buy a packet of Kawan Parathas and prepare to feast on samosas.

For the filling, I use this recipe. It is simple and tasty. 

We now come to the most important part, making the samosa.

**Please note, I am making no claims that this is a healthier version or any such nonsense. This is a calorie rich recipe. If you are on a diet, this isn't for you. 

If you are still reading this, i must urge you to head tot he nearest Indian grocery store and buy a packet of Kawan Plain Paratha or if you have them in your freezer, pull them out and set them on the counter to thaw while you read this.

Preheat the oven to 350F
Prep the tray you want to use. I used my old tray and lined it with parchment paper. 
The thawed parathas can be very sticky, so be careful as you work. 
I used the parathas when they were just the tiniest bit hard ( the heat from your hand as you fold them will make them soft).
Place a paratha (with the plastic backing) on a smooth surface ( counter top / rolling board) . 
using a pizza cutter or a knife ( your choice. I found the pizza wheel easy to use) 
You will get two semi circles. 
Follow the pictures to make a 'cone' 
Fold the straight edges towards the middle of the round part. 

Press the ends to seal ( leaving the broad part open). Scoop the stuffing into the cone.

Now seal the samosa by bringing the sides together and form a triangle.

Similarly, make all the samosas and place them on the baking tray. 

Bake for about 15 mins till the samosas are golden brown. Oven temperatures vary and so, keep an eye on the tray at the 15th. minute. If the color isn't perfect, bake for another 2-3 minutes, 
Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack for a couple of minutes ( the stuffing will be VERY hot )  or serve immediately with chutneys of your choice or ketchup.

- These samosas are best served hot
- You need not make a cone and stuff the potato mixture in it. It can get fiddly. Just fold the semi-circle into a triangle and seal the edges. 
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Tuesday, June 26, 2018

OPOS Pineapple Sheera / Kesari

The best tasting sheera is, when it is made for a puja. But it was always one made with bananas. I always thought there was one way of making sheera, that was either plain or as a variation (and strictly on puja )with bananas. The thought that any other fruit can be used was alien. 
Imagine my surprise and delight when I tried a spoonful of Pineapple sheera! It was a flavor bomb and I was left craving more.

When M came to see me ( the arranged marriage scenario) we served him Pineapple Sheera, to date I wonder if that clinched the deal.

Here I have made this sheera /kesari using OPOS (One Pot One Shot) method which cut down on time and extra steps. 
OPOS method uses layering method and cooking on high heat for a short time. This ensures that food is cooked properly, retains nutrients and also color (for vegetables like ivy gourd, spinach beans).

1/2 cup, Double roasted Rava*
3/4 Cup Sugar (1 cup, if you like it sweet)
1 cup Pineapple chunks
3 Tbsp Ghee 
2-3 Cloves
a few Raisins (optional)
Saffron strands (optional) 
1/8 tsp Pineapple Essence
2-3 drops Yellow food color (optional)
Pinch salt
2 Cardamom pods, powdered
1 cup Water

* If you are in India, you can easily get double roasted rava in any grocery store. If you cannot get your hands on any, roast rava over medium flame, cool and roast it again. This can be stored and used as needed.

To start off, (since I do not get double roasted rava), heat 1 tsp ghee and add cloves to it, once the ghee is perfumed, add the rava and roast it till it is aromatic and a few shades dark.

In a 2L pressure cooker, add 1 cup water, pineapple chunks, ghee, cardamom powder, saffron (if using)

Cook on high heat for 1 whistle (ensure that the heat does not come up the sides of the cooker it covers the bottom/ base only). Switch off the heat and in a couple of minutes, manually release the pressure. Be VERY careful, do not apply force. Use a spatula or tongs to lift up the whistle and let the steam escape. 
Open the pressure cooker and slowly add the roasted rava, stirring continuously to avoid lumps. 
Seal the cooker and let the mixture cook in the retained heat. Do not switch on the stove. 

Wait for 10 mins. to let the rava cook and absorb all the liquid.
Open and stir gently to ensure it is all mixed well.
Serve warm.


-You can use Bananas instead of Pineapple (or fruit of your choice, ex banana, mango)

-Cloves pair well with pineapple sheera, if using another fruit, avoid these, cardamom should do the job.

- As always, make sure you standardize your equipment, if you haven't, here's how.

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Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Doodhatla Pithla

Every Marathi household has a copy of this, either borrowed from mom or one that was gifted to a new bride. 
I'm talking about Kamala bai Ogale's famous cookbook, 'Ruchira'.  
This is one of the oldest cookbooks and is still very popular. The recipes (in book 1) concentrate on Marathi cuisine and include a range of simple, day to day recipes and some complex ones as well.
The book gained popularity because of the dependable recipes but in my opinion, also because, it used simple measurement tools, the 'vaati' (katori / steel bowl) and 'chamcha' (steel spoon used in every kitchen). This made it easy for the Indian home maker and cook, who largely depended on eyeballing everything when cooking. 

My Mother has an old copy of Ruchira, I never really looked at it, it was just... there. It was because I did not have enough time on my hands to cook (because of work pressure) or just because it was in Marathi, which I was not too comfortable reading. 
But I love reading it now and cooking from the book. 

I grew up up in  a Marathi- Kannada  home, my Mom mostly made Maharashtrian food and it wasn't until I started blogging that I realized how vast the range of recipes was. 
There are so many variations to everyday recipes and just when you think you know a bit more, you realize, ah! no! that was just the tip of the iceberg. 

Take for example, the humble 'pithla'.
This ubiquitous 'curry', is something most people won't bother talking about. It's one of those, 'taken for granted' recipes. When there is a shortage of time or ingredients, this is the go-to recipe. 
It requires few ingredients, the base is 'besan' (chickpea flour) add to boiling (tempered) water. 
There are variations, like using garlic or even a different base (I've used kulith - horsegram flour).
But what I never imagined was using milk, instead of water.

So when I was leafing through the recipes in Ruchira, I spied, 'Dudhatla pithla' I was intrigued. 
I would never have imagined using milk in a recipe that wasn't sweet. You learn something new, everyday! 
This recipe comes together in a jiffy and is very mild and makes a nice change, once in a while. 

Marathi Pithla, Milk pithla, dudh pithla

This recipe is very forgiving, just be careful as it is milk based and follow the steps as mentioned to ensure that the milk does not curdle. 

I halved the proportion, that was more than enough for the 3 of us. 

I used 
2 Cups of Milk
1/4 cup Besan
1 Green chili, chopped 
1/2 tsp Cumin seeds, powdered
Salt to taste
Chopped Cilantro to garnish
Fresh coconut  to garnish ( I did not use )
2 Tbs Oil
1tsp Mustard seeds
Hefty pinch, Asafetida
1/4tsp Turmeric powder
Curry leaves.

Dissolve the besan in 1/4 cup milk and make a smooth paste. Set aside.
Heat a deep sauce pot or a kadhai. Add the oil and one the oil is hot (not smoking),add the mustard seeds.
As the mustard seeds pops, lower the heat and add the asafetida, turmeric, curry leaves  and the chopped green chili. Add the cumin powder and stir to mix. 
Now add the milk (1 1/2 cup) and stir to combine. Let the milk come to a boil, add the besan (mixed in milk) and stir to mix it in well.
Once the besan is cooked ( the consistency changes, it becomes tick and has a slight shine) add the salt.
Let it cook for a couple of minutes.
Garnish with coconut and cilantro before serving.
Serve ladled over plain, steaming hot rice with some pickles and papad for a comforting meal.


-This is a mild Pithla, add another green chili if you want to amp up the heat. But this proportion is kid approved. 

- Be careful with the heat, keeping the flame on high or induction on high, will result in milk burning and smelling awful. Keep the heat at medium and stir frequently. 

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Friday, April 13, 2018

East meets West. Gulab Jamun Cheesecake bites

A family get together at my Ajji's (Grandmother) home was always the happiest of times. We all sat together talking, laughing, with the 'kid gang' doing idiotic stuff and hooting with hysterical laughter at ourselves. 
There was music, my Mama (maternal uncle) had a vast collection of cassettes and we would listen to tape after tape of Lata, Rafi, Kishor Kumar or perhaps Manna Dey. 

Ajji made lots of food to feed her hungry family and dessert, favored by the 'bachhe mandali' (kids) was gulab jamun (except during Ganpati festival, then it was ALWAYS puran poli and modak).

We, cousins, would peep into the big pot full of plump gulab jamuns and mentally pick out the biggest and the best looking. So when it was actually time to eat dessert, we would point to the ones we wanted. Our parents would rebuke us saying they all are the same, but Ajji never said a word, she would patiently pick out the ones we pointed to and serve us. It was her love that made them the best gulan jamuns in the universe. 

We would sit on the floor, cross legged and out 'vati' (steel bowl) in front of us and Mama would dim the lights, and then he would play songs. We knew many of these songs and we would sing along and enjoy our dessert. 
Satisfied, we would then curl up in our respective mom's laps and listen to the melodies in the background as they gently lulled us to sleep. 

As time passed, we all went our separate ways, job, marriage, moving to a new city or country, but with those precious, precious memories warming our hearts when we missed one another and most importantly, missed Ajji. 

I sat at the dining table, holding a tin of Haldiram's Gulab Jamun a guest had brought, thinking of all those days, missing home and family.

That wouldn't do, at all! Shaking off the nostalgia, I packed the tin in the pantry and went about doing what needed to be done. 

But when I picked up this book from the library, I could not resist trying out the cheesecake. 
I love, love, love cheesecake. 
The first time I made this recipe, it turned out delicious, but I had to make some adjustments. The recipe was for 6 cheesecakes ( small ). I needed to adjust the quantity a bit as well as the baking time 
to get it right. 
 I topped my first batch with Strawberry preserves and fresh strawberry. 
My son was thrilled and loved this mini cheesecake. As against the regular Graham crackers, I used some lemon cookies I had at home for the crust. The light burst of lemon and the strawberries worked well. 
It certainly was very tasty, but a tad over baked, in my opinion. The top sunk in the middle too.
We didn't care about the sunken top, we loved every single bite. 
Mini bites disappear fast. 

I made a second batch, this time I made small changes. With the previous batch, I followed the exact measurements and that yielded 11 mini cheesecake bites. If I had made them smaller, I could have made 12, but that would have been a bit too mini, for my liking. So with the second batch I adjusted the baking time and the quantity (added 2 tbsp cream cheese).
It worked out well, the cheesecake bites were perfect and 12 in number. 

Batch 2 had some Nutella swirled into each bite.

The last batch I made were a fusion batch, East meets West.
I pulled out the tin sitting in the pantry. This, would make great dessert.

Here's how:

1 1/2 cup Marie Biscuits (available in all Indian stores), crushed

2 Tbsp Unsalted butter, melted

1/3 cup Granulated sugar ( I took off some from this as the gulab jamun is also rather sweet, but this is optional)

One 8 oz. packet + 2 tbsp  Cream Cheese , softened (room temp)

1 large Egg

2-3 cardamom pods (remove the seeds and powder them)

6 Gulab Jamun pieces, halved ( do not use any syrup) I used ready made, if you have home made, those, IMHO are EVEN better! 

Do the prep:

Make sure the ingredients ( cream cheese, egg, gulab jamun are at room temp. Melt the butter and let it come to room temp) are ready and set in place.

Preheat the oven to 350 F 

Make sure the small inner disc of the cheesecake pan is in place and ready.

Pick out the gulab jamun and let them sit on a plate, I kept mine in a colander to let the excess syrup out. Halve them. Set aside.

Crush the cookies, I used my chopper to crush the cookies and then I added the melted butter to the chopper and pulsed it to make the base. If you do not have a chopper or a food processor, just add the cookies to a ziploc bag and use a rolling pin to crush and make a powder. Remove from the bag and add the melted butter to make the base.

Portion the mix into the cheese cake pan and press down well to create a smooth base. Set aside.

In a deep saucepan, add the soft cream cheese, and using a hand / immersion blender with the wire whisk attachment, whip the cream cheese till it is lump free, smooth and fluffy. 
You can also use the stand mixer bowl, but since the quantity is so little, it won't work as well. You can also use a manual whisk.

Add the cardamom powder and the egg and beat until just combined.
Spoon a little of this batter into the prepared cheesecake pan, over the cookie base. Place one halved piece of gulab jamun in the center and then pour the cheesecake batter over the jamun. Ensure that just 2/3 of the 'cake well' is filled.
Repeat for the remaining pieces. 

Bake in the oven (middle rack) of the oven for 8 mins. ( this is what worked for me. As oven temperatures vary, keep an eye, you might need an additional minute or so)

Pull out the pan and set it to cool. The cheesecake tops will have the slightest jiggle/ look sort of uncooked in the middle, at this stage. That is perfect.

Let the cheesecake bites cool in the pan for a bit. Then carefully remove ( push the removable plate at the bottom to pop the bites up) the cheesecake and place them on  a rack to cool completely.

Cool them in the fridge to set completely. 
Serve once they are chilled and set.


- In all the 3 batches, I used different base cookies. Lemon cookies (for the cheese cake with strawberry topping), Graham Crackers ( for Original Cheesecake) and Marie biscuits (for the fusion Gulab Jamun cheese cake). All 3 worked well.

-The top will sink a little, don't worry about it.

-Unlike the traditional cheesecake, we do not use a water bath.

-As per the original recipe, this makes 6 mini cheese cakes

- This is a make ahead dessert.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Ghadichi Poli and Methi Zunka, OPOS (One Pot One Shot) style.

Every Marathi household, it seems is obsessed with 'ghadichi poli'.
My mother always made 'ghadichi poli', until one day she came home, full of enthusiasm. Her Gujarati friend ( could be a friend from the office canteen or the train or, bus stop, I have no recollection, she has friends everywhere) 'taught' her the art of making fulka. After that we had fulkas for a long time.
But, she went back to making what she grew up eating, you guessed it, 'ghadichi poli'.
My grandmother also, always made the same.
I never paid any attention.
Life went on..
Then one day, I was at a friends place, she was going to get married and we had gone shopping. We returned home and after a bit of rest, she went int o the kitchen and started cooking for her father and brothers. V, deftly rolled out a circle of dough, spread a thin layer of oil and folded it into a semi circle  and then into a triangle.
This she dredged into flour and proceeded to roll the triangle into a perfect circle.

I was *very* impressed!
I was at the amoeba stage of rolling out flatbread.

Years later, after I was married and living in California, I was a part of a small group of ladies who met in the park and organized potlucks and festive get together.

 So we had this orkut  (anyone remember that now?) message circulating listing what each one of us would bring to the potluck.
When I did the final list and sent it to all concerned, pat came a reply..

Pallavi, me Ghadicha polya anat ahe. Tu faqta poli lihilays majha nava pudhe, mhanun mhatla tula sangava. (Pallavi, I am making tri-fold type chapati (poli), you have mentioned only chapati, so I thought I'd better let you know)

To this day, I have no idea what difference it made, but I never asked or argued.

But I still find it funny. Maybe it is a big deal.

To come back to this post and to introduce to you ( if you aren't familiar with it already) the OPOS system. This One Pot One Shot method is currently revolutionizing cooking.

I found a video on youtube and just clicked on it to view what it could be and found this extremely convenient method of cooking.
I am attaching links below so you all can also benefit from it.

I have tried a few recipes and have had success with all of them. Now that I am confident, I  feel it is time to share it. Tried and tested and all that.
 OPOS uses a regular pressure cooker, a 2 liter one to quickly cook food, while preserving nutrients and skipping the long step by step process.

The first thing is to standardize the equipment (a simple process) and then get cooking. click here to  follow the steps to test and standardize your cooker. LESSON 1 

The gist of OPOS style of cooking is, layer food in a certain manner and cook it on high heat, thus yielding in completely cooked, tasty food in minutes!

The other recipe I tried and was happy with is Attalysis (autolysis, is the correct term)This is an easy method of 'kneading' whole wheat flour into a soft dough for making flatbread.

The idea is to add water to flour ( follow the video to understand how) and let it absorb, undisturbed.
The flour absorbs the water and makes kneading almost effortless! The resulting dough is also very soft and also stores well in the fridge for 3 days ( that's the most I've stored it).

So how is this better or different from using the traditional method of dough making or even using the food processor or the heavy duty stand mixer?
Very different!
When using the traditional method, we add water slowly to the flour and knead the dough to the consistency we require ( roti / poori). Most women eyeball the quantity of water and go by the 'feel'.
Similarly, we, I also add water to the flour when kneading using my stand mixer. And I admit, sometimes the dough is softer than I'd like.
And with the stand mixer, I knead more dough, because of the bowl capacity. Too little flour and you cannot mix it...

But this problem is eliminated when using  'attalysis'. plus, the biggest advantage, for me, is the almost no kneading. With my tendinitis and wrist pain, it is rather difficult for me to knead dough without feeling very uncomfortable. On days when I require a small amount of dough and don't want to use the stand mixer, this is the best and the easiest method.
To make 'ghadichi poli' :

Knead the dough using Attalysis method.
The proportion that worked for me is:

2 1/4 Cups of  whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp Salt
1 cup water

Mix the flour and salt.
Add the dry ingredients t the water and using a fork or a spoon, mix the water and dough to a shaggy mix. Don't over mix or knead. Just mix it and cover and let it rest for 30 mins.
After 30 mins., lightly oil you hand and knead the dough. You will notice  that the water has been completely absorbed and the shaggy dough is very easy to handle and comes together in a very short time to form a soft dough.
At this stage ( ready ball of dough) I cover and keep aside for 10 mins.
If you need the dough for later, just place it in an airtight container and place it in the fridge till you need it.

If you are ready to make roti /poli, set your tava on the gas and let it heat up. Now, take a small portion of the dough ( lemon sized). Roll it between the palms of your hand and make the ball smooth,

OPOS , one pot one shot
Roti Dough made using Attalysis

Dredge it in dry wheat flour and roll it applying even pressure. Roll it to approximately a poori size.

Using a pastry brush or a spoon, drizzle a bit of oil on the rolled disc and spread it around.

Fold it over and smear a bit of oil on the upper side.

Now, fold it in to a triangle, like so..

Dredge the triangle into some dry flour and start rolling. Apply even pressure and roll out the triangle into a round shape. And if it stays a triangle  (or decides to form a shape unknown), never mind, it will still taste good. Just roll it evenly. 

Once you have a thin flat bread, carefully lift the disc and place it on the hot tava. Be careful.

Keep the heat at medium-high and let the flat bread cook. You will notice that it puffs up beautifully! It will also cook well and have brown spots.

Flip it and cook it on the second side as well. If you feel that the first side is completely cooked, do not flip again. IF any portion needs a bit of browning, flip it once more and let it cook for a few seconds and then take it off the heat.

Apply ghee and serve or place in the container ( policha dabba) for later. 

Ghee is a Must!

Ready to serve and enjoy! 


-This method of making roti keeps the roti softer for a longer period of time
- The technique of folding and rolling out creates thin layers in the bread. 

I served the flatbread with Methi Zunka. A staple in most Marathi homes, this humble Zunka is very versatile and can be made with very few ingredients. It is 'everyday fare' for a farmer toiling in the fields and now, many fancy restaurants are serving it up, garnished and glamouring (you know what I mean) it up! 
I often make this as a 'subji' to go with my flatbread. 
This time I tried OPOSing it and boy! I was pleasantly surprised!

The OPOS Zunka is simple and time saving.

I made some small changes. 

I used 

1 cup Besan (chickpea flour) to which I added a bunch of spices, 1/2 tsp EACH of roasted Cumin and Coriander powder, 1/2 heaped tsp of Garam Masala, Salt and some sugar,  1/2 tsp of Turmeric, 1/2 tsp of  Red chili powder 

Chop 1 medium onion and divide it. 

To this dry mix I added half the finely chopped Onion and one bunch Methi (fenugreek) leaves and  mixed it to form a dry mix, Do not add any water, the salt in the dry mix will make the onions and methi release moisture and make the mix slightly damp.                           

To the 2 L pressure cooker, add 3 Tbsp water. 

Add 3-4 Tbsp oil ( I know this sounds a lot, but this is what worked for me. If you are not happy about using all that oil, cut it to 2 tbsp, as the chef recommends.)

Add the remaining onions. This is the buffer layer.

Now add the besan mixture. Do not pack it in, just layer it lightly on top of the onions. If you press it down, that will cause burning. You don't want that. 

Cook this over high heat for 1 whistle only. This should happen around the 3 min 30 seconds mark.

Switch off the heat and release pressure manually. 

Stir the ingredients.

Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with chopped cilantro ( this is optional). 

Serve with Bhakri or Poli.

*watch the video linked above to also see how not to make this zunka in a cooker. 

- If you use 2 tbsp oil, there will be some charring at the bottom.
Since I doubled the oil proportion there was absolutely no charring and the zunka was moist and well cooked. 



- Please go through the lessons on OPOS method of cooking.
- Use the equipment as suggested.
- Keep track of the changes you make with notes, if you want to modify or understand how and where things changed if the recipe did not turn out the way you wanted,

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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Simple bare necessities. Bittergourd (Karela) stir fry.

You either love it or loathe it.  Most people agree that the bitter gourd has properties to lower your blood sugar levels among other benefits. 
The trouble is eating this *extremely* bitter vegetable. 

My association with the bitter gourd, karela, is not a happy one at all. Traditionally, a stir fry is served as a part of the 'shraddha' (a death anniversary ritual) lunch. It was one occasion where I could not turn up my nose at the food served (solemn occasion, my grandfather's shraddha) and eating it was nothing short of a punishment. I remember hissing in my mom's ear, "Aai, karla nako ga, please!  Nahi tar agdi thoda vadh, like one sliver". I've even gulped it down with water and almost choked and shuddered at the bitter after taste. 

That does not mean it isn't made on other days. But my mom never got or made this. We refused to even try it.

The first person, in my little circle, who loved  the dreaded karla / karela was my Mami (aunt). But I never tasted any. The first time I tried and tasted (and liked) was this recipe. But over time, I pushed it away and forgot all about it. 
If you, like me, have started liking (or even trying) this vegetable late in life, chances are, you will eat it once, forget it for a few days months  years and go back to it, slowly. 
But now, I pick up the gourds without a second thought. 
This recipe is one I picked up from a friend. Its a very, very simple one.
There are no spices, no sugar. Just the basic, turmeric and red chilies powder (optional) and salt. And yet, it is tasty. 
If you pick the gourds carefully, they may not be 'that' bitter. I read in a Marathi cook book, the pale green bitter gourds are generally  better and I prefer smaller sized gourds. 
I also did not salt and set aside the chopped bitter gourd ( this takes away some of the bitterness by drawing it out). Nothing needed. 

Begin by washing and patting the gourds dry. I used 3 gourds (the size of an IPhone 6).
Slice them in to thin rounds.
Slice a small red onion, lengthwise. 

Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a kadhai / wok/ cast iron griddle.
Add the karela /bitter gourd rounds. 
I keep the heat at #7

Bitter gourd stir fry

Sprinkle a hefty pinch of salt and keep turning the karela, so both sides brown and cook evenly.
Add the onions and salt. Stir and cook well.

quick karela stir fry
After about 7-10 mins add 1/2 tsp Turmeric and 1/2 tsp red chilies powder (if you want).

Lower the heat and let it cook, helps crisp the edges of the karela and makes it tasty! 

Karela subji

Serve with a Ghadichi Poli (coming up soon).

Have a great week ahead, folks! 
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