Friday, February 23, 2007

Red Tomato Chutney

I had recently made Green tomato chutney, and now, the everyday Red tomato found itself in this form! A few months ago, we had a pot luck, where my friend B, made this version of chutney. When I first tasted this chutney, I was amazed at the all new taste... I had never eaten something like this.... it was a blend of tomatoes, with something sweet (dates, which I first thoughtwas tamarind- jaggery! ), then the spicy red chilly reared its head in between, then again I found myself biting into fennel.... two - three helpings later I was still longing for more, but delicacy forbade me to pig out! Also telling myself that, looks, she's just a phone call away... get the recipe and make your own chutney!
Now B hails from Orissa and told me that this is a very common everyday preparation back home.... just like I would make 'Lasun chutney' back in Maharashtra! So a few weeks ago B and I spoke and I took down the recipe. But making it and blogging about it took a while. In fact, I made a mistake, I replaced the dates (as I had no stock of these at home) in the recipe with tamarind - jaggery... big mistake!! the taste was NO WHERE close to the original version and I was disappointed... and as always when a fiasco like this happens, I sit tight for a while, musing over it, till the urge to give it one more shot nags me.
Apart from that, I have this bad habit of scribbling on 'pages' which find themselves in my easy grasp when on the phone, but annoyingly disappear when I actively hunt for them and reappear when I least expect and the places where 'I swear' I did not keep it in.
So anyway, this 'page' with the tomato chutney scribbled on it with various other things among a few telephone numbers and doodles and my name in various fonts, found itself cadging for my attention once again.

Firstly, the Origin of this recipe is Orissa / Bengal. They use 'Panch Phoron' which is a mix of equal parts whole cumin (jeera), fennel(saunf), fenugreek(methi seeds), nigella(kalonji), and mustard seeds (rai). Looks like this
pic source :Google search

These 5 different tastes blend to give the chutney a twist in the taste!
For the Chutney, you need:

4 Tomatoes ( Medium size)
4 no. Dates

1 Tbsp Oil

1/2 tsp Panch Phoron

1 Dry Red chilly

Few curry leaves
1/4 tsp. Turmeric
Sugar (to taste, I used 1 tsp.)
Salt to taste

For Garnish:

1/2 tbsp Cumin seeds
2-3 Dry red chilies (+/- to taste)

Do the preparation. Assemble all the ingredients
Chop the tomatoes.
Heat oil.
Add the Panch Phoron.
After it sizzles , pops, sputters, add the red chilly and curry leaves and saute for half a minute.
Add the chopped tomatoes and mix well.
Add the turmeric and salt. Cook till soft.
Add the dates and sugar. Mix and cook fo a couple of mins (till the dates soften)

For the Garnishing:
DRY roast the cumin and red chilly.
Cool and grind it or pound, using a mortar and pestle to a rough powder.
Add this to the chutney after it is fully cooked.

Serve as an accompaniment to daal-rice, roti - subzi.
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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

MBP @ Coffee's with Finger Food!

I bet you all, there are going to be a lot of entries for MBP a culinary event started by our very own Rooma! The theme for this month was Finger Food, which instantly made me think of ALL the street food in India.... The chaat stalls where one stands by the roadside and eats Pani Puri , bhel, a bhutta (corn on the cob, Mumbai ishtyle!!!), Wada Pav.... God, I need a break here.... I'm drooling all over this keyboard! 'scuse me.....

I'm back... one thing that we Indians really enjoy is eating our food with our fingers, not that we do not use spoons and forks, oh yes! we do, when we go to fancy restaurants! but there is something so very satisfying about eating the way we do, with our fingers! In fact eating with your fingers is a cultural experience (for those visiting India). And those who frown upon this practice for hygine.. well, this is one chance you get to wash your hands thoroughlybefore you eat! so there!
Now, moving on to my entry for MBP... yes, I wanted to make the 'Alu Samosa' that we eat so often... But I had to kinda delay that a bit, this weekend we are entertaining a small group of friends and I want to make samosas then, and having these deep fried goodies twice in the same week would have been a bit too much!
So hunting across blogs got me to here...and my search ended! I was waiting to try out puff pastry for a while and here was this chance of doing just that!

The only variation I made was I skipped the Peas.... I am not a fan of peas... un-hunh! I served these with Maggi Hot and Sweet sauce! Yummy and perfect for an evening snack!!

Thank you Rooma for hosting this wonderful event & Priya, for the recipe!!

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Saturday, February 17, 2007

D is for -Dadpe pohe

This is yet another snack from Maharashtra! A simple and spicy tea time snack, just when you want something that is spicy and tangy! Ummm!!
My Mother used to make this snack for us... in fact sometimes it was almost a substitute for 'sukha bhel' !
This snack needs little time to prepare and consists of items which are normally available at home.
I would like to make this as my entry for Nupur's Invitation for the A-Z of Indian Veges.
at One Hot Stove.... Hey Nupur, this will qualify, won't it?

You need :

2 cups Thin Poha
2-3 tbsp. Roasted Peanuts (or raw peanuts that can be fried in oil)
1 big Onion
1- 2 Tomato
1 Lemon (Juice)
Sugar to taste
1 Green chilly ( + / - to taste)
Salt to taste
2 tbsp. Oil
1/2 tsp. each Mustard + Cumin seeds
Pinch asafetida
1/4 spn. Turmeric
Few Curry leaves
Dry Red Chilly
Cilantro to garnish

For the Tadka:
Heat oil. Fry the raw peanuts to a golden crispy brown. Add the mustard seeds, after they sputter add cumin seeds, add asafetida.
Add the dry red chili and curry and turmeric powder.
Let this tadka cool a little.
Finely chop the Onions, Tomato and Cilantro.
Mix together the Poha, onion, tomato and green chili.
Add the salt and sugar.
Add the Tadka to the poha. Add lemon juice. Mix thoroughly.
Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve immediately.
This snack does not need any water as the onion and tomato help in making the poha soft. However, keeping it for long only makes it soggy.

You can also add green peas, carrots to give it additional nutrition. Alternately, adding grated raw mango can be substituted for lemon juice.

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Friday, February 16, 2007

A Simple Fare

Having lived all my life in Mumbai, Maharashtra, this wonderful culture is deeply imbibed in my mind. The language, sometimes rough and ready and yet at times very musical ! The cuisine of course is so much a part of my daily diet, despite the fact that I am a Kannadiga! So also the music of Maharashtra. I love Marathi songs, for their simplicity and depth !
I used to watch Marathi movies on TV, as a child and always classified them into categories, old devotional movies "Sant Dyaneshwar", "Gora Kumbhar", Tamasha- Lavani (WIKI : Tamasha is a traditional folk play form. Lavani is a form of music popular in Maharashtra and southern Madhya Pradesh, India. The word Lavani comes from the word Lavanya which means beauty. The Nirguni Lavani (philosophical) and the Shringari Lavani (erotic) are the two types.This was widely performed in Maharashtra,India) types! Both have their own charm, and I find myself humming the songs on and off!

Moving on to the food part.... and the topic of this post... Maharashtrian cuisine covers a wide range from being extremely mild to very spicy dishes. I got this information from Wikipedia : The staple dishes of Maharashtrian cuisine are based on bread and rice:
  • Poli or chapati - unleavened bread made of wheat flour, more common in urban areas.
  • Bhakri - bread made of all kinds of flours, mainly jowar and bajra, form part of daily food in rural areas.
  • Rice - is eaten throughout Maharashtra and is a large part of the daily meal, although Maharashtrians are not totally dependent on rice alone. Normally meals contain some form of bread, some bhaji (vegetables) and some rice with dal.
Of late I have been trying my luck and hand at making Bhakris!! now this was one item I was wary of... I felt it requires a good deal of skill than I am capable of. So I kept well away from it. Also to mention, that bhakris have not been my top favourite among Indian Breads... though I do like them on and off. But I have these packets of Juvar and Bajri Four in the fridge for ages and use them only when I make my all time favourite Thalipeeth! Well, time to pull up my socks eh!!??!! So a few weeks ago I started on my journey of making a bhakri. As expected, my first attempt was not what I wanted it to be!! though the bhakri was completely edible, I was not too happy with the end result.. reason? well, the edges of my bhakri were frayed.. not nice, smooth and round-round... and more importantly, my bhakri did not puff up like my fulkas do! M did not seem to mind, but then he is not that attentive!!but to me it was not a happy moment. needless to say, I shoved back my dreams of making wonderful,soft bhakris in the deepest recess of my mind and ploughed along making other items, thankfully with success!!
But the stubborn streak in me was not willing to let up! so I tried again... the second time was a bit better... but as they say... the third time is the charm!! I picked up a trick, mix a bit of wheat flour in the juvar/bajri (reason, the flour we get here may not be fresh, it is kept in the fridge for months).
Then I tried my bhakris (I made Bajri ones, knowing that bajri is good for winter and also owing to the fact that bajri flour was more in quantity and also that it spoils faster than other flour). This time I was rewarded for my perseverance!They turned out nice and round and also puffed up to my delight! My favourite way of eating a bhakri is with a dollop of unsalted (loni/ makkhan) on it. Unfortunately, by the time I clicked the snap, the butter had melted :(
As an accompaniment to the bhakri I made Methi Zunka (Ashwini). Palin Rice and Daal.

To make bhakri (I used approximates, no fixed measures for this.. maybe next time and with pics !):

Approx. 1 cup Bajri Flour (or Juvar)
~3 -4 tbsp Atta (wheat flour)
Boiling water
1/8th. spn. Salt (optional)

Boil the water.
Mix the flours, add salt .
Make a well in the flour and slowly add the boiling water and bind into a dough. Be careful at this stage as the water scalds.
Bind into a smooth and pliable dough.
In a plate sprinkle (not the right word.. lets say, spread..) a bit of flour, take a small portion of the dough and using your palm and fingers, very lightly flatten it .
Heat a tawa/ skillet.
Drop the bhakri on the skillet, and apply water on the top part of the bhakri (cook on medium flame). the idea is to cook it like a fulka, underdone on the side it was placed on the skillet.
When the water dries, carefully flip and cook thoroughly on the other side.
Now the underdone side needs to be cooked, that can be done on a direct flame and if you have a coil then flip on the skillet and press applying gentle pressure using a towel.

Only recently I came across this wonderful Devotional song and could not resist sharing it with allof you. This is for those who are fans of marathi bhavgeet and bhakti sangeet.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Valentine's Day evokes a lot of sentiments in people... some are for it and some completely against it... for the comercialization that this day has brought in!! For me, I do celebrate this day.. why? Because it gives me just one more reason to show my love for M for all the loving things the does for me. For all the little (and big) things he does.... This is one of the days when he comes home early, despite the tremendous work pressure!

Many will say why does he need one day to show you so much affection? Why not everyday? Why do you need cards or gifts or chocolates to feel loved? Well, I'll be honest.... everyday, we are just busy with routine work, cook (this is fun!), clean dishes, laundry, grocery.... but once in a while breaking away from all that and just feeling special gives my spirits a definite lift! We both do not believe in extravagant gifts, elaborate cards... so we are not a good bait for gift / card companies!!
So.... I do celebrate Valentine's Day! I baked a cake from scratch.. decorated our tiny apartment.. and called him loads of times in the day, just to say those 3 precious words! Ate chocolates he gave me, without a pang of guilt (WOWIE!!)

I made a Honey cake for my Honey!!
This is the original Recipe :
I got this from the internet, but i hunted around a lot, so I don't recollect the name :(

1 cup honey
1/2 cup strong-brewed coffee
1 tablespoon brandy (optional, I opted out)
2 eggs
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup packed brown sugar ( i did not have 1/2 cup b. sugar, so I mixed in normal sugar)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves


Combine honey, coffee and brandy, if desired, in small bowl; mix well. Beat eggs in large bowl. Add oil and brown sugar.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices in medium bowl; mix well. Add flour mixture and honey mixture alternately to egg mixture.
Pour batter into greased 9-inch square pan/ muffin pan.

Bake at 300 degrees F oven for 55 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched. !I made heart shaped these jumbo muffins, these took just about 20 -22 mins to bake!

Today is also my Mom's Birthday!! And that's another reason why this day is so special to me!!
And though I am far away... I do celebrate her birthday.. with a promise to make up for the absence when I am back in India!!

This one's for you, Mommy!!

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Green Tomato Chutney and No-Fuss-No-Grind Idlis

On a sudden impulse I picked up these Green Tomatoes from the market..... not sure what I would make with them. Generally having this vague idea of a chutney in mind. As a child I used to dislike this variation to a chutney, whereas my father likes it a lot.

But ever since I have started blogging, my ideas, likes and dislikes have undergone a change and I like to give a shot to all those dishes I used to dislike as a child (except that I am still stuck FAST on my dislike of eggplant.... eewww....) and find it immensely satisfying that the dishes turn out well, touch wood!! (also act as a constant reminder that I still have a LONG way to go!) .... in fact my idea of chutneys was also pretty limited.. the all-time favourite being 'hirvi chutney' (some other post!), Lassun chutney and chutneys used for chaat items! But trust the Indian ingenuity! we make chutneys from anything and everything! right from the above mentioned items straight up to vegetable peels and very tasty they are too!!!!

For this green tomato chutney you need

6-7 Green Tomatoes
1-2 Green chillies
2Tbsp. Sesame seeds
1 tsp. Oil

Peel the outer cover on the tomatoes. Wash them thoroughly (sticky li'll suckers!) and chop them into cubes.
Chop the green chillies.
Heat the oil in a wok, add the chopped tomatoes and chillies and cook thoroughly till it is mushy.
Let it cool. In the mean time, roast the sesame seeds to a nice brown colour and roughly powder / pound it.

Combine the tomato-chilly mixture with the sesame powder, salt sugar in the blender and grind to a paste. Done! The end result in this chutney is rather a disappointment in terms of the colour, but don't let that fool you! the taste more than makes up for the looks. The tangy-nutty taste is a treat and also unlike any chutney you have tasted!

This chutney goes well with idlis and also as an accompaniment to everyday meals.
I served this chutney with no fuss - no grind idlis

To make no fuss - no grind idlis

1 cup urad daal Flour
1 1/2 cup Idli Rava

Mix the urad flour and idli rava with water. cover and leave, preferably overnight, to ferment. I usually leave the batter in the oven and also switch on the oven to 'Warm' for 5-6 mins.
After the batter is ready, add a couple of spoons of oil , salt to taste, mix well. Make idlis as usual!

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

SPICY ...Panchamrit.. ??????

Many a times I have long for some accompaniment to my lunch or dinner... mostly, when I have a dry vegetable to go with rotis, like batata bhaji... at such times I feel a pickle, though always welcome, is not 'the thing'. Nor are the chutneys... my taste buds long for something a bit more on the spicy side... a little extra 'khatta-meetha', but different.. these words sound like those told by every movie director... ' this is different'.....
My Mother used to make 'panchamrit' for every festive lunch, I remember eating this with puris.... this Panchamrit however,is not to be confused with the sweet that is prepared during pooja... this is a blend of spicy, sweet and tangy chutney like consistency side item.
Not very clear, am I? Maybe the recipe will help

You need:
6-8 Green chilies chopped (vary as per taste)
1/2 spoon Tamarind concentrate / extract
Jaggery ( double the quantity as that of tamarind )
Salt to taste
1/4 cup peanut powder
3-4 tbsp roasted and ground sesame
A few curry leaves
4 tsp. dessicated coconut /shredded dry coconut
Oil to temper
1/2 spoon Mustard + Cumin seeds
Pinch asafetida
2 pinches Turmeric

Heat oil. Add mustard and cumin seeds.
One the seeds pop, add asafetida.
Add turmeric
Add the chili and curry leaves. Mix well.
Add water to make a gravy.
Add the tamarind and jaggery , add salt.
Bring to boil. After the chilies are tender, add the peanut and sesame powder.
Boil for 2 mins. take off heat.

The peanut and sesame powder give this accompaniment a wonderful nutty taste and texture.

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Friday, February 02, 2007

Bulgur Sheera

My craving and my eternal love affair with sweets is one thing that M frowns upon! He just cannot understand the longing I feel for a sweet after every meal... or at least after dinner, or for that matter even as an evening snack...
For most evenings I pop a small, and I do mean a small bit of chocolate in my mouth and chew surreptitiously so that it can go unnoticed. Feels kinda school girlish.... but hey! I get away with it!

Using Bulgur(coarse cracked wheat) to make sheera, was something I was totally unaware of until about 5 years ago. But now I have incorporated it in my diet for its obvious nutritional value and also for the fact that it fills the tummy easily!

To make this sheera (I guess one can call it stove-top pudding):

1 cup Bulgur
2 tsp . Ghee
2 1/2 cups Water
1 cup Jaggery
Mixed nuts (almonds, cashews, raisins, pistachios)
Cardamom Powder

Heat ghee in a wok, fry the nuts , remove and keep aside. Now,add the Bulgur and roast it.
Add water, mix well.
Cover and cook till the Bulgur is soft.
Mix in the jaggery, again cover and cook.
For the not-so-calorie-conscious, add a small dollop of ghee round the sides , cover and cook.
Once fully cooked, add cardamom powder and nuts .
Serve hot.
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