Monday, June 28, 2021

Tokri (Basket/ Katori) Chaat : Indian Street Food

 Summer vacation is finally here and I'm back, after a very long break. The last year and a half has been crazy! 

From the isolation, the crazy, desperate search  for disinfectants, the pick-up grocery, the zoom calls where we would pull on a formal shirt over PJ's and hastily brush hair or just keep the camera off, the vaccination and the side-effects of it to finally venturing out without masks.  

The hardest part was and still is the travel ban. Those of us, away from our homeland have been anxious of our family member back home. Old parents, now without the comforts of their maids / cook coming and helping or the unavailability of Doctors (who refuse to make house calls now, even for geriatric patients). 
I cannot wait for the time when it is safe to travel, oh! I know people are traveling even now, but those on a visa have to reconsider their options, or the bigger fear is, what if you take home the virus! 
Here's hoping and praying that there is a respite soon and I get to see my parents.

After a year of almost not entertaining, I finally could hold back no longer. So during Sankranti (that is when I made these and the post has been languishing in the drafts for so long) , I invited my friends over for haldi-kumkum. I was very excited and made plans, all of which included planning a menu. 
The choice was clear, chaat. My friends and I are chaat fanatics, like most of you. This seemed to be the best opportunity to make and stuff ourselves with all the yumminess (it's a word). 

Lets talk about the amazing Tokri chaat baskets I made. 
These bowl shaped edible baskets can be stuffed with boiled cubed potato, sprouted and steamed whole moong beans, boiled garbanzo beans and spiced up to make a lip smacking snack. 

These tokris (baskets) can be made in advance. They keep well in an airtight container for up to a week, not that they will last that long once you start eating! 
*This needs a little pre-planning and preparation. It cannot be done in one day. 
Here is what needs to be done :
  • Make the edible bowls
  • Reconstitute the beans (I use mung bean sprouts and garbanzo beans) by soaking them in water
  • Sprouting the mung / moong beans 
  • Cooking the beans, separately
  • Make chutneys (Cilantro- mint aka the green spicy chutney and Date- tamarind chutney aka the sweet chutney)
  • Buy or make plain yogurt 
I looked up several recipes and they all look the same, so I used one that I liked best. Just search on YouTube for 'katori chaat' and you will get may options.

Here is my adaptation.

To make the tokri bowl, start with  making the dough.

Mix together 1 1/2  cups of All Purpose Flour / Maida and 1/2 cup of fine Sooji / Rava.

To this add 2  hefty pinches of Ajwain/ Carom seed and 1/2 tsp Salt.

Drizzle in 4 Tbsp Oil. 

Now mix this so the oil is incorporated in the flour and it looks sandy. Grab a fistful and press it firmly in your palm, if the flour holds shape when clumped up, it's perfect. 

Now slowly add water to make a semi soft dough.

Now cover and set the dough aside for 15-30 mins. This helps the sooji absorb the water. 

In a wok, pour oil ( sufficient to cover the dough bowls) and heat it over medium heat.
Now, knead the dough a little, so it becomes smooth. Pinch off small lime sized balls. Roll it into a circular shape, taco sized. Prick the dough all over with a fork. This will prevent the 'bowl' from  ballooning up.

Pick a katori (I used a stainless steel water tumbler /cup) and lightly grease it. Next, place your rolled dough on it and press on the sides to form the bowl shape. Like in the picture below. 
The tumbler is a safe choice. It is easier to place in the hot oil and also to hold in place with tongs as you splash oil on the dough and get it to separate from the steel. 

Edible tokri chaat

Depending on the size of your wok, gently place the cups in the hot oil. As the dough gets deep fried, it loosens and with a small nudge, comes off the steel tumbler. Splash some hot oil into the bowl so that it cooks on all sides. Do not rush this. as the dough cooks in the hot oil, it will naturally separate, but sometimes a little prying is needed. Use the back end of a spoon or spatula to do this and be very careful. 
Using tongs, lift the katori/ tumbler and pull it out and place on a tissue to cool off (I used a small salad plate lined with tissue to place my hot tumblers). 

      Tokri chaat, Basket chaat


The bowls should be a light golden brown. This will make them flaky and crisp. 
I also flipped the bowls in oil and let them fry upside down. 
Drain the oil and place on a tray lined with tissue paper. 
I used six tumblers, two at a time. This allowed the hot tumblers to cool off between rounds of frying. 

At this point, you can cool them and store them to use over the next few days.

Tokri, basket chaat

To make Tokri Chaat, do the prep work.

You can buy a can of Garbanzo beans to skip one step.

If you plan to use dry beans, then follow the steps below. 

If you plan on using mung /moong bean sprouts and garbanzo beans, begin by soaking them overnight or at least 8 hours. 

The next day, drain the soaking water and rinse the beans.
I used my Electric Pressure Cooker (like the Instant Pot) to cook the garbanzo beans.
* Add water to the steel inner pot, place your insert on the trivet. 
Put the Garbanzo beans in a cooker insert, use anything that is like the stackable inserts, add water to the beans - the water level must be just a little above the beans-  some salt  and I simply cook them on the 'Beans' mode. Natural pressure release. Cool and store in the fridge till it's time to use them. 

The mung / moong beans need to be sprouted. This is a longer process. Drain the water that the beans were soaked in. Rinse the beans once. Now, take a clean (lint free) towel or cheesecloth and place the beans in it. Make a bundle of it by pulling up the sides and loosely tie it. Cover and place this bundle in a warm place to sprout. You can also use the Yogurt mode in your Instant Pot. This may take between 8-12 hours.

To cook the mung sprouts, rinse the sprouts. Place them in a steel insert. Sprinkle some salt.
I used my regular pressure cooker for this, pour water in the base of the cooker. Place a trivet. Place the insert with the sprouts in it. Close the cooker and on high heat (on a scale of 1-10, turn the knob at 8) cook for one whistle. Switch off the heat and let the pressure subside naturally. 
 To cook in the IP, use PIP method and cook on Manual / pressure cook mode for 1 minute. NPR.

To cook on the stove top, place the bean sprouts in a deep saucepan. Add sufficient water so that all the beans are submerged and sprinkle in some salt. On high heat, let the water come to a boil.  Cook until the beans are tender but not mushy. I rarely cook them on stove top, so I cannot give you an exact time, but these cook relatively faster than any other beans. Just ensure that they are cooked and retain their shape. They should not be mushy. 

Boil potatoes. I boiled 2 large russet potatoes for 6 people. 
Boil, peel and cube the potatoes and set aside. Just before serving, you can spice up these potatoes by adding a dash of chaat masala, a couple of pinches of white and black salt each and mixing well to coat the cubed potato.

To serve: 
I set up an assembly line. Just start at the edible bowls and follow the steps given below.
  1. Katori / edible bowls
  2. Boiled and cubed potatoes 
  3. Steamed moong / mung sprouts
  4. Garbanzo beans
  5. Finely chopped onion
  6. Green chutney (recipe below)
  7. Sweet date and tamarind chutney (recipe below)
  8. Yogurt ( beat yogurt until smooth and add salt and a hefty pinch of sugar and mix well)
  9. Thin Sev noodles
  10. Finley chopped cilantro to garnish
  11. Chaat masala , Salt and paprika in small bowls for anyone who needs an extra dash of spice
Katori chaat, basket chaat

You (and your guests) can simply go down the assembly line and and make their own Katori chaat or arrange it on your table and make these for them. 

chaat party
The chaat party had Tokri chaat, Pani-Puri, Mini Mutter Kachori and Chai

Either way, you and your guests are sure to love them! 

Green Cilantro and Mint chutney

1 bunch Fresh Cilantro ( I use tender stems as well)
1 bunch Mint ( use only leaves)
2-3  Green Chilies (adjust the number to as mild or hot as you want)
1 inch piece of Ginger
2 Pinches Cumin seeds
1 pinch Asafetida / Hing
Salt to taste
1 Lime

Wash the cilantro and mint. My preference is 1 bunch of cilantro and half bunch mint. I am not too fond of a strong minty flavor. 
Wash and peel the ginger and slice or just roughly chop it. Wash the green chilies and chop into 2-3 pieces each.
Place all the ingredients (except the lime)  in the blender jar add 2-3tbsp water initially and blend to a smooth paste. Use extra water, one table spoon at a time as needed to make the chutney. You do not want a runny chutney. 
Transfer to a lidded container, squeeze lime juice and mix it in the chutney. Store in the fridge. 
*You can also use an ice-cube to grind the chutney instead of adding water.

Date-Tamarind Chutney

I usually eyeball the ingredients and make this. 
In a saucepan, add 2 Tsp Tamarind concentrate, 6-7 pitted Dates and a cup of water.
Bring this to a boil and add jaggery, I estimate and add about 3-4 times the quantity of the tamarind. 
Add 1/2 scant tsp of Kashmiri Red chilies powder or crushed red pepper flakes, 1/4 tsp of Ginger powder and Jeera powder EACH. 
Add Salt to taste and 1/2 tsp of Black Salt. 
Turn off the heat as soon as the jaggery melts. taste and adjust flavors. the chutney should be sweet and sour. The sour must not be pronounced. It leans more towards the sweet side. 
Use an immersion blender to make a smooth chutney or let it cool and then blend to a smooth consistency. 
*You can also use tamarind and soak it in warm water for about 15 mins and then extract the pulp (discard the solids) and use it in place of the concentrate. Use a lime sized ball. 

It never fails, but if you are a newbie, here is a link that has a detailed recipe.

  • Make the edible bowls in advance.
  • Do not use large tumblers/ katori. A big edible bowl makes it difficult to eat and is very filling too. 
  • You can use a katori, but be careful when frying. The separating the dough and the steel bowl part can be tricky.
  • You can make this with just one filling or all. If sprouting moong beans is not possible or you do not  have time or beans, just use garbanzo beans.
  • Use canned garbanzo beans to cut one step out of the process.
  • The date and tamarind chutney can be stored in the fridge for a long time, a month at least. You can also buy this chutney in any Indian store.
  • Thin Sev, the crispy noodle topping is easily available in any Indian store.

Here's hoping everyone has a safe and wonderful summer! 
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Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Gobhi Musallam

We had our school Fall Break last week. A week full of lazy mornings, where Sonny boy and I lolled on the bed, talking of anything we felt like or just pushing one another and laughing out loud till the need for a cup of tea got strong in me. We watched the Harry Potter movies, he wanted to do a comparison between the books he has read and the visual. The books won, obviously. I am binge watching 'Downton Abbey' and loving it. The hubby has no interest in it and the child too young (though he did stay for a bit and commented, "I don't understand this much, but I like the actors, they're really good". I agree. I love British drama and the actors, they are so polished and dignified. 

I also made all the food my son loves, he likes paneer (every child does) and he specifies, 'orange paneer' so I made this curry base and added paneer cubes to half the portion. A friend gave me an enormous zucchini from her garden and I made koftas  and used the same gravy base. 
The daal makhani is a super hit and it's on my 'demand list' for this week. 

We had plans to go glamping (glamorous camping, for those who are wondering what this word is), but we decided to cancel that, given the crazy surge in COVID numbers. It was a bitter disappointment for me, I was SO looking forward to it. Maybe we will re-schedule it sometime next year... I certainly hope so, if the pandemic scare does not loom over our head like a dark cloud.

Sometimes I wonder, is that all we are going to talk about these days? 

I long for those days when I would casually invite a friend over to lunch (when I was not working) and we would spend the afternoon chatting and catching up until it was time for school pick up. Or the days when my group of friends and I would plan a pot-luck and we would discuss what to bring. 

Last week, I made this beautiful 'Gobhi Musallam' and oh how we all loved it! I hunted around for a recipe I liked and saw a few videos on you tube ranging from a variety of spices to a few that used different sauces (chutney first and tomato-onion sauce after) which I decided to leave for another time, finally arrived at something that was borrowed from here  (but my recipe is not vegan) and there making it a mish mash, but very delicious. 

I wondered if I could use my Electric Pressure Cooker (like the Instant Pot) to partially cook the cauliflower. I was a bit skeptical and so did not risk it, I did not want to end up with  a soggy and mushy cauliflower head, but I cannot help wondering if keeping the cauliflower on a stand / trivet - no water added - except to the bottom of the inner pot-  and pressure cooking it for just 1 or 2 minutes might not do the trick  (for the step where we boil the cauliflower in water till it is nearly half cooked). If you know the trick for that, please do share it with me. 

It made me long for a dinner party where I could place a platter on the table and my guests and I would carve out wedges and enjoy it. 
An entire head of cauliflower is partially cooked and then smothered in a fragrant sauce, which is then baked. Once it is pulled out of the oven, some more sauce (reserved, before baking) is poured on top and garnished with finely chopped cilantro. The effect is very dramatic and visually, very appealing. If the recipe looks daunting, don't let it stop you. It isn't difficult at all and I guarantee, that you will like it. The cauliflower holds it's shape and the silky sauce that envelopes it is mouthwatering. 

Gobi Musallam

1 medium Cauliflower head ( remove all the leaves and carefully trim the stalk, you should not cut the florets)

1 Onion (I used a yellow onion- these are fairly large in size) chopped 

3 Tomatoes ( I grated these)

10-12 Cashews, soaked in warm water

5-6 cloves of garlic (the ones I have are thick and fat, so I used 6, if you have the slim ones, use 10-12)

1 inch piece ginger ( I eyeball this, so a little more is ok)

3 fresh green chilies (reduce the amount if you cannot tolerate heat) 

Salt to taste

1 scant tsp sugar

1 tbsp Kasuri Methi ( dried Fenugreek Leaves)

6 oz (I used a regular  katori)  Heavy cream 

4 Tbs Oil

2 Tbs Butter


1 heaped tsp. Coriander powder/ Dhaniya powder

1 tsp Cumin powder /Jeera Powder

1 tsp Turmeric powder (divided) /Haldi

1 tsp Kashmiri Red chilies powder /Lal Mirch powder

1 tsp Garam Masala powder


1 inch stick Cinnamon (Dalchini)

1 Bay leaf (Tejpatta)

3 Cloves (Lavang)

1 Black Cardamom (Badi elaichi)


Oven proof pan


Wash and trim the cauliflower head, keeping it intact. Cut around the thick stem and carefully remove as much of it as you can, without letting the florets separate.

Grate the tomatoes. You can puree them if you wish.

Slice or chop the onion.

Add ginger- garlic and green chilies to the blender jar and make a paste. 

In a deep saucepan, which can easily hold the entire cauliflower, add plenty of water, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp turmeric powder and bring it to a boil.  When the water is about to boil, carefully place the cauliflower in it. If the cauliflower isn't submerged completely, turn it upside down after 2 mins. Cook for 4 minutes. The cauliflower must be 40-50% cooked- no more.

Once done, remove from the water and set aside, I placed it on a tall trivet with a plate underneath. 

In a wok, add oil and as it is heating up, add the butter, once the butter melts, add the whole spices.

Be careful, the clove can splutter in the oil. Once fragrant, add the onions. 

When the onions are cooked soft and browning, add the ginger-garlic-green chilies paste.

Sauté till the raw smell goes. Add the tomato puree, salt and cook till oil starts separating and pools on the outside. Add the dry spices and sauté well till the spices are cooked and the oil has separated. Add kasuri methi and set aside to cool.

At this stage pre-heat the oven to 400F.

Once cooled add to the blender jar along with the soaked cashews, heavy cream  and blend to a smooth puree. Do not add  water, we do not want a runny paste. If the purée looks very thick, add 1/8-1/4 cup water and swish it around and get all the puree stuck to the jar, out. 

 Now comes the final part. Spray oil and coat the oven proof pan, place the cauliflower in it. Now pour the sauce over it.  Reserve some on the side (I saved 1 cup) and pour the remaining over the cauliflower and let it cover the entire head and drizzle down in to the baking tray.

Place the tray in the pre-heated oven and bake for 40 minutes. Oven temperatures may differ so keep an eye on the cauliflower after 30 mins. A knife inserted in it must pierce quickly and smoothly. 

While the cauliflower bakes, in a small wok, heat 2 tsp oil, add 1/2 tsp Kashmiri red chilies powder and working quickly add the 1 cup gravy sauce and mix and cook for a few mins. Set aside. 

Once the cauliflower is cooked, carefully remove it from the oven and set aside. In a serving plate, ladle some gravy and *very* carefully, using two spatulas lift and place the entire cauliflower  on the serving plate. Ladle the remaining gravy on top and garnish with chopped cilantro.

Carve wedges of the cauliflower and serve with buttery naan. 

** Suggestion: serve with sliced onion and pickle as accompaniments. 

Cauliflower, Gobi, Gobhi

This entrée can make a fantastic center piece on your Thanksgiving table or for other occasions when you have guests. They will be impressed with the presentation and wowed by the taste. 

Try it and let me know in a comment how you liked it.

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Monday, October 05, 2020

Restaurant style Daal Makhni (Instant Pot Method)

It's October, we are almost 7 months from the time the world shut down, almost. Slowly the scare of covid is lessening. I don't know if it is a good thing. I still see the numbers going up and yet people seem to care less. 

That said, I do go into grocery stores and get what I want when the order isn't large enough for a curb side pick up and take care that I maintain a *very* safe distance from people. Specially those who pretend to wear a mask where their nose is not covered, the mask hangs down to under their chins. That's not the point folks! That's like when you see those aggravating men wearing jeans that are sitting near their knees leaving their underwear exposed, waddling uncomfortably, under the delusion they look cool. You want to poke them, sharpish, in the spine with a strong walking stick and whack their bottom and ask them to pull up their pants, even a toddler knows better. Ditto for the masks.

We still stick to our choice of being online where school is concerned. People have scoffed at this choice, but my logic is clear, in 30 years from now, no one will ask my son his scores in grade seven. It is more important for me to keep him safe, that is my priority. Our school opened and shut down in the first 2 weeks with a wave of positive cases (15+). A chill seeped into my heart, friends and coworkers were suffering, there was nothing I could do. I could have been in their position and exposed my family to covid too.

When will we be able to step out without fear, feel normal, go to a restaurant occasionally...? I see people thronging outside restaurants, no masks  and any thoughts I had about eating out vanish. I'm ok.  I prefer cooking at home, even if the boys miss going to a restaurant, specially when they feel like eating chicken (only because I haven't the guts to handle any kind of meat) and I cannot make any. They did get take out, it was unavoidable, the craving was too strong. They were happy while I had silent fits. I watched them anxiously over the next 2 weeks. All was well. Phew! 

Being vegetarian, my cravings are simpler and easy to satisfy at home.  

Every few years I review old recipes and see if I can tweak anything and make some changes. 

Today I decided to revisit  my old Daal Makhni recipe.  I saw a video of Chef Ranveer Brar making Daal Makhni. I like his recipes and how he explains everything, but this recipe had way too much butter for me to want to make it. I just could not... (but I did try another RB recipe with great success! coming up next).

Then I watched this video and the the ingredients were similar and I immediately wanted to try it. But in my Electric Pressure Cooker, similar to the Instant Pot.

The end result was a deliciously creamy Daal Makhni ( without the cream as I did not have any and I did not want to step out to buy just the one item), the Daal would taste better with it, no doubt, but the very fact that we overate was proof that I have a winner on my hands! 

Whole Black Urad and Rajma

Recipe adapted from : BharatzKitchen

 1 cup Whole Black Urad daal

1/4 cup Rajma/ Kidney beans

3 medium Tomatoes

1 medium Onion

4-5 fat Garlic cloves

1 inch Ginger

2 Fresh Green Chilies

1/2 tsp Turmeric powder

1tsp Kashmiri Red chilies powder

2-3 Tbsp Oil

3-4 Cloves /Lavang

1 inch piece Cinnamon /Dalchini 

1 Bay leaf/ Tejpatta

1 Black Cardamom /Badi Elaichi

2 tsp Coriander powder / Dhaniya powder

1 tsp Amchur powder

1/2 tsp Ginger powder

1/2 tsp Garam Masala

1 Tbsp KasuriMethi

4 Tbsp Butter

Salt to Taste


Daal Makhani, North Indian Dal
Serve with that 'little extra' butter cube on top, you won't regret it! 

Wash and soak the beans in plenty of water for at least 8 hours or over night. Discard the soaking water and rinse the beans, scrubbing them a little. You will notice that the water becomes black, this is what you want. Discard the water, Repeat again , once. 

Set the beans aside and  start prepping for the next step.

Finely chop the onion. 

In the blender jar add the garlic, ginger, green chilies and roughly chopped tomatoes. Blend to a smooth puree and set aside. Add 1/4 cup water to the blender jar and swill around  and get all the puree out. Add this water to the tomato puree.

In  a small bowl, mix the dry spices (coriander powder, amchur powder, dry ginger powder- also called saunth/sounth and garam masala) 

Start the Instant Pot / Electric Pressure cooker on Sear/ Sauté mode. Add oil. once the oil is hot, add the whole spices (cinnamon, cloves, black cardamom and bay leaf). Once the spices are aromatic, add the finely chopped onion. Sauté till the onion is cooked. Add the tomato-ginger-garlic-chilies puree. stir and cook. Add salt to taste mix and let the tomatoes cook till oil seeps at the corners. Add the turmeric and Kashmiri red chilies powder and mix.

Add the dry spices, mix  well. 

Add the beans and stir to coat the beans in the tomato mixture. Add water (I did not measure, added enough to cover the beans and a little over the top). Add crushed Kasuri Methi.

Cancel the sauté mode,  put the lid on the IP/ EPC and whistle on seal.

Cook on Manual mode for 30 minutes, Natural Pressure Release. 

Once the pin drops and the IP /EPC can be opened, add butter cubes and stir. 

Add cream and stir it in. 

Serve with buttery naan or Cumin Rice. 

Daal Makhani
Serve with mildly spiced Cumin Rice or Buttery Naan, this daal is a winner.

  • Adding Butter will make this daal taste better, if you are not calorie conscious, go for it! 
  • The daal re-heats beautifully. 
  • Serve with Fragrant Basmati rice (plain or cumin scented). 
  • If you like your daal hot, add a spicy blend of red chilies powder and  a fresh green chili. 
  • You can add water and adjust the consistency, I kept it chunky and thick because it was easy to scoop with a naan.  
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Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Pumpkin Roghan Josh

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Sunday, April 05, 2020

Instant gratification with a No- Yeast Pizza and a 3-2-1 Mug cake

And so I find myself at the computer, for the first time this year, opening blogger and posting on this much loved, but very neglected space. 
I started a new job last year and things got hectic. I applied and got a job as an Sp.Ed. paraprofessional in my son's school. While I have enjoyed training in India, this was an entirely new ball game. 
I've enjoyed every minute of my time teaching and working hand in hand with my colleagues and learnt SO much, much more than the subjects I taught! 

I also learned that I can wake up early, cook, pack 3 lunchboxes, get ready and out of the door to reach school in time, come back home, change and freshen up and head straight to the kitchen and get started on dinner and wind up for the night after looking up and prepping for the next day's lessons.

In short, I am doing what my mother did for us when I was a school going child, though she was not a teacher, but the routine was similar. 

Then, 3 weeks ago, things changed. We all saw the change coming. It was just a matter of when, not if. School announced dismissal on Friday the 13th., I know! how ominous is that?!

I handed out books frantically, got kids to the carpool curb and bundled them in their cars with a hasty, "stay safe now" warning. `
I made one last grocery run, picked up what I could find, not that there was much to get. The stores were all out  of TP or cleaners, out of beans and so many other things. People had gone into a buying frenzy.
Living in an apartment means one cannot stock up on a lot of things, and so, I find myself stepping out once in 2 weeks for what is absolutely necessary and always available for my neighbors who are seniors , if they need anything. I am not hoarding.

I am thankful that I get to work from home and stay safe. I have friends who have to report to work because they are pharmacists or nurses and I cannot help but feel anxious. 
I never thought I'd see mankind on it's knees because of an enemy they cannot even see. 

Being confined as we are, we try to make the best of it. The day passes in home school. Our school has been amazing on this front. on the 18th. of March, the homeroom teachers had their google classrooms set up and running. Students were logging in and completing their assignments, just like they would in school. If it weren't for all the teacher videos to watch  and homework to complete, I cannot imagine how utterly boring it would've been. After all, there's only so much TV one can watch or coloring to do... 

Being at home also means meals to plan, yes plan- something new for me, based on the ingredients at hand and rationing them properly.  
It also means I need to keep it interesting, the same old does not cut it anymore. 
So I attempted 2 new , well, not exactly new, recipes.

The first was a No-yeast Pizza. This was a new for me, no yeast. 
Lately, I have stopped eating pizza outside, I prefer making it at home, with the cheese I buy (that contains vegetarian friendly rennet). 
And so, this recipe had an instant appeal. I did not have to wait for the dough to rise. It was an almost instant recipe. You see the appeal? It can come in handy and also helpful for people who do not have yeast at home or are not into baking or are simply intimidated by baking. But at this time, when going out is an issue ( lock down in case of India and stay at home, in our case), this recipe is very handy. I love the fact that it comes together so easily and is easy to make. I'm definitely keeping this and making it often, even on busy weeknights ( when the world goes back to normal).

I doubled the recipe and that gave us 3, thin- crust 9 inch pizzas

I used 

2/3 Cups All purpose Flour to which I added 2 tsp Baking powder and 1 tsp salt. 
To the dry ingredients, I added 3 glugs of Olive oil and about 1 cup milk ( I use whole milk only) and kneaded the dough in my stand mixer  till it was nice and smooth. If kneading by hand, knead for 10mins.
Cover and keep aside for 15-20 mins.

While the dough rests, crank up the oven (the original recipe calls for 400F, I cranked mine up all the way) . I used my cast iron pizza pan and so preheated it for a long time.

Get the toppings ready. 

When ready to make pizza, make balls of the dough, I made 3, you can make 2 or 4. Your choice. 

Roll out the dough ball to a thin, even flat bread. Prick all over with a fork.

I pre-baked the base for few minutes and then did the final assembly. There was a slight oversight on my part and the base pre-baked a little more than it should have. Look at the pic below, not what you want.

 It is totally fine, absolutely edible, if that's on your mind. but what you want is  a light color on the base. Check the picture below. The top is barely done, but is dry and has a light color. So you want to pre-bake it just for a couple of minutes.

Once the base is pre-baked ( and I don't think this is necessary, but I prefer doing this so there isn't a soggy, doughy bite ), add sauce on top with your favorite toppings,I used onion and colored bell peppers and some jalapeno as that was what I had on hand. Add cheese and bake till the cheese is all melted on top and the base has started browning. It took me barely 5 minutes on my cast iron pan. 

Our meal ended with a quick dessert. 
Sometimes you have these crazy cravings for something sweet (in my case all the time, but we ill let that pass) and want something instant. 
Mug cakes are an amazing way to eat a small portion and quickly! 
But if you want this to be hassle free too, I have just the thing for you! 

See, I love mug cakes for the portion and ease of making, but it still involves pulling out flour, sugar, baking powder/ soda, oil, essence, water or milk... see where I'm going with this?

I found this on a Facebook group among some comments and stored up the idea. 
The last time I went to the store, a week ago, I picked up 

1 box mix Angel food cake
1 Box mix of any other cake you like or have at home.

Open and mix the contents of both the boxes together and store in any container.
When you want to make the mug cake, lightly spry or grease the mug.
Add 3 Tbsp of the cake mix
Add 2 tbsp Milk
Mix well 
Microwave for 1 minute
3-2-1! Done! 
Let the cake cool down slightly and enjoy.
My son likes inverting it onto a plate and eating it. He ate the first one plain.
The second one he smeared Nutella on top and declared it was just what was needed. 

 That's it folks! Stay safe, Stay indoors, Save lives! One day we will look back on this and say, we survived this.

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Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Cantaloupe Jelly

Sometimes I wonder when and how this idea took root in our culture...
Whenever any of our friends or neighbors shared any food with us, my mother would always send me back with their container and she would always send something in it. It was never returned empty. It could be anything small, like fruit, or, chocolates or cookies or even something special she had made. If there wasn't anything special she would add sugar to the container and ask me to return it.

As a child I would also eagerly wait for our containers to be returned. It was fun for me to open and see what was in it. This also gave us some exposure to different sub- cultures and their cooking style and cuisine. This was the time when we did not have computers and internet. Why, we didn’t have a color TV, back then! Without knowing what, we tasted so many different things ( as a child, the name wasn’t as important, just how it looked and tasted).

Even today, I always make sure I never return a container empty, as do most of my friends.

Coming back to this blogpost...
This draft has been languishing, unpublished for a while now, making me feel guilty of neglecting this space that I love so much!

So, here's how I made this jelly a few months ago. All, as a result of  a sweet smelling but, a totally tasteless cantaloupe.
As I was wandering down the fruit aisle in the store, I had this urge to buy a cantaloupe. I like this melon, but the boys don't, so it isn't often that I buy it. But that particular day, I wanted to.So I carefully chose the melon I wanted. It was nice and round with 'webbing' and it had the yellow patch on one side, it also gave a tiny bit when pressed- indicating it was ripe. In short, it was everything a nice, sweet cantaloupe ought to be.
Imagine the disappointment when I cut it, that it was tasteless. Well, it had the tiniest hint of sweetness, but so insignificant that, though fragrant, I could not eat any.
The only alternatives in front of me were consume, in another form or trash.
As always, food wastage is a big no-no, unless it is rancid or very stale..

I poked around a bit and and mishmashed a few recipes to suit my taste.
I decided to use my Electric Pressure Cooker (which has the same functions as the IP) and used the Slow Cook function. That way, I could set it and go out.

3 cups Cantaloupe pieces
1 1/2 cup sugar
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
1/2 tsp Salt
1-2 tbsp Vanilla Essence ( I eyeballed this as I had little left in my bottle)

Add all the listed ingredients to the steel inner pot of the IP and mix well.
Start and set the IP on slow cook mode for 3 hours.
Close the lid and set to seal.
Open lid and stir a couple of times.
At about 2:30 hours, use an immersion blender blend the contents, be careful not to splash yourself,
After the timer beeped, I hit the Cancel button and then set the IP on Manual for about 10 mins. This helped the jelly thicken up.

Cool and store in a clean sterilized jar.
I've read that melon jellies should not be canned for risk of botulism. 
They also need to be consumed quickly. This jelly freezes well.
I needn't have worried. The jelly was very tasty and we loved it over buttered toast. I gave one bottle to my friend and her little daughter loved it too (and that, is how this post was approved!).


Since I had a small quantity of fruit, I did not buy or use pectin, instead I relied on the natural pectin in the fruit.
This isn't a 'firm' jelly.
The sweetness level is mild (compared to store brought jams and jellies) which suited us perfectly.

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Wednesday, June 19, 2019

French bread dough- 2 ways

Wait a minute! It's mid-June... My last post was so long ago. I have neglected this space. I cook a lot, take random pictures on my iPhone and then forget all about it. Well not exactly, I do post on my Facebook Page. But that's as far as it went over the past few months. 

This year brought us some nice surprises. 
The best highlight was the Utah State Taekwondo Championship. 
Like every year, S was participating.  But this year, he wasn't keen on it (he was willing enough when I enrolled him for the tournament). Nevertheless, he trained hard for it in the 2 weeks time that we had. This time, he was competing as a Black Belt, the stakes were high and he was super intimidated. He kept making small errors, ones that would cost him precious points. He would groan and get frustrated. And just 2 weeks before the tournament, he had a birthday invitation from his friend and that tilted the scales! He cried and sulked and was also willing to not go to the tournament for the party. 
It was traumatic for us, the parents! But we managed to convince him, we told him, as soon as the tournament was over, we zoom him to the party and M, a very careful driver, promised him to drive fast (this from a person who always drives 5/ 10 below the posted speed limit is saying a lot). Now all we needed was luck to favor us and that we wouldn't have to wait for a long time. At such events, there are delays and the categories are set and the athletes just have to wait their turn. Patience is key.  We've  been to tournaments where S would do one event in the morning and had to wait for 4+ hours for the next event call. 
But as luck would have it, S's events (Poomsae and Board breaking) were announced early! That gave him hope (and we heaved a huge sigh of relief).
Well, if ever hard work and tears have paid off, it was on that day! S won Gold in both the events! 
He was thrilled! So were we. For 2 years now, the gold medals had evaded him, but this year, he did it! I am just so proud of my baby! 
And yes, we made it in time for the party! 

The day was tiring for all of us and the exhaustion of the training and the driving like crazy to reach the event, the win and then zooming to drop him off at the party, whiling away time till we picked up S again was just too much and all I wanted was to sleep. Laundry and other things can wait, but not hunger. But I wasn't in any mood to make anything, much. And I was craving pizza, but not store brought. I wanted the brand of cheese I wanted, so it made sense to make it at home. 
But I did not want to make the dough. 
See where I'm going with all these random, chaotic thoughts?
I just decided to buy the dough and accordingly popped in the store.  The lady at the counter however told me that they did not have pizza dough and then convinced me that most people took home French bread dough and used that. I was convinced (I still did not want to make the dough from scratch and so I was willing to risk anything now). So, armed with the dough 'baguette' I came home and decided to try this.

To begin, do the prep. 
Chop the veggies you want.
Pull out the pizza sauce.
Grate the cheese (if you have a block)
Then, pre-heat the oven at the highest setting.
While the oven is heating, take a piece of the dough. The size depends on how well you can roll the dough. You can go from personal pan to X-large. 
Make a ball of the dough.
Dust the (clean) counter top with cornmeal and place the dough ball in it.
I used my rolling pin to roll out the dough. 
Prick the dough with a fork.

Apply sauce on the rolled pizza dough and add  grated cheese and toppings of your choice.
Carefully transfer the pizza in to the oven and bake.
Depending on your oven, it should take between 8-12 mins for the pizza to bake. So keep an eye out.
Once the base looks nice and brown and the cheese has melted, pull it out.

Slice it and eat it! 

The French Bread dough did not disappoint. The base was excellent and we enjoyed our meal.
I kept the unused dough in the fridge, unsure what to use it for, I mean, we did not want pizza again, it was not enough to make a loaf. Anyway, I'll see what to do... attitude helps in such cases.
A good nights sleep gives good ideas. 
The next day I made some kofta curry and decided to make naan from the left over dough in the fridge.
Once the dough was at room temperature, make even sized balls of the dough.
This depends on how much dough you have left over and how comfortable you are rolling it into the typical teardrop or round shape.

Before you begin to roll the naan, heat a tava on medium-high flame. Do NOT use non-stick tava or pan. I used my anodized tava similar to this, cast iron is also good. 
Set a small cup of water on the side.
Get ready to roll the naan.
Dredge the dough ball in some flour and using a rolling pin, slowly roll out the dough applying gentle pressure, evenly.
Once the desired shape is achieved ( don't roll the dough very thin), Apply water to one side of the dough and then pick it up and place it on the hot tava, water side down.
This will help the naan to stick to the tava.
After about a minute, the underside should be done. 

At this point, increase the heat and pick up the tava (the naan still sticking to it) and flip it,  hold the uncooked side a little away from the heat. The heat should cook the second side and make it puff up in spots, just like a tandoor cooked naan. Move the tava in a circular motion as needed to ensure that the entire surface gets cooked. 

With a spatula, take the naan off the tava and apply butter/ ghee generously on the top. 

If you like, you can add sesame seeds/ cilantro to the naan. Just sprinkle the seeds / chopped cilantro on the rolling surface and then roll the naan. When you place the naan on the hot tava, the seeded/ cilantro side will be face up.

To be on the safe side, keep a 'fulka grill' (pictured below) ready as well. 
Sometimes the naan will not stick well to the hot tava and will come off, when you see it isn't going to stay glued, place the uncooked side down on the grill and let it brown. 
Once done, apply butter.

Serve warm with a vegetable entree of your choice.

That's it from my side. I hope this time I won't slack off. I have enough drafts to work on!

Here's wishing you all a wonderful summer ! 
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