Thursday, April 22, 2010

Punjabi Kadhi (Pakode Wali Kadhi)

Of late I have been using the laptop VERY sparingly. Things were going crazy around me. Though a  most useful thing to have around, the laptop is the worst addiction. I would 'just peek' and stay stuck, slowly my son also started demanding laptop and to own the truth, I let him. 
He was at that stage where intense curiosity was getting in the way of everything I was doing, cooking, cleaning, using the bathroom, going from one room to another and sometimes he would hurt himself, specially when I was mopping the floor, he'd run on it and slip. And so, one day, I put him in the high chair and played some songs, he liked those and very soon that became my passport. His lunch would go down easier. I could finish my chores without worrying. what I did not realize was, he was getting addicted. There came a day when he did not let me touch the laptop for anything except the songs he liked, he  kept himself awake till midnight, just watching those songs and that day I had it! The next day, before he was up, I bundled the laptop in the small closet upstairs and it has been here since then. I check whatever I want to occasionally (hiding in the closet)  and thankfully, my son has forgotten all about it! A classic case of  out of sight and out of mind!  I am over  my 'addiction' too. Though I do miss reading all my favorite blogs and  do not reply to my mail or orkut scraps, I am glad we are 'safe'!
A few weeks ago I borrowed 1000 Indian Recipes and spent many hours going through the recipes. I finally picked out Punjabi Pakode wali Kadhi  and tried it.
Now, you'd think I'd try something more novel with a 1000 recipes, but  I have a special weakness for yogurt  curries as well as a sentimental value and Punjabi Kadhi is a favorite!  Every time I traveled to Delhi, I'd call and let them know that I wanted Kadhi-chawal for lunch. Lots of it. 
Back home, I could never re-create the taste, never. But then, I wasn't  much into cooking and the source of the recipe was Lisa, who I can safely say, at that stage, about 6 years ago, could easily burn water.
I tried making Punjabi Kadhi a few times, but it was never quite like I wanted it. 
Then I chanced upon this book and  I really liked the recipe. There are some recipes, which upon reading  sound like they are 'just' what you wanted and to me his was one of those! 
Moreover, the author mentions that this is her Mother's version and is favored by her children over her version of kadhi! Mother always knows best?? Try this recipe and judge for yourself! 

Pakoda ( Fritters):
Makes  25-30 pieces
1/2 cup Besan (chickpea flour)
1 small Onion chopped
1 small Potato, peeled and grated
1/2 cup Chopped Cilantro
1 Tbs finely chopped or grated Ginger
2 tsp coarsely crushed Coriander seeds
1 tsp Kasuri Methi
1/2 tsp Ground Cumin
1/2 tsp ground Ajwain / Bishops weed
1/4 tsp Baking soda
2-3 Tbs Water
Oil to deep fry

Sift flour in a medium bowl and mix onion, potato, ginger, coriander, fenugreek, cumin, ajwain, soda and salt

Add water as needed to make a  thick batter

Deep fry the pakoras in oil ( carefully drop a spoonful of batter in hot oil)

Remove on to a tissue and keep aside

For the KADHI:
3 cups Plain Yogurt
3 cups Water
1/4 cup Besan
1-2 Fresh Green chiles (+/- to taste)
1 medium Garlic Clove
10-15 Fresh Curry Leaves
11/2 Tbs Ground Coriander
1/4  tsp Fenugreek seeds coarsely crushed ( I left them whole)
1/8 tsp Asafetida
1/4 tsp Turmeric
3/4 tsp Salt
3Tbs Oil
1/4 cup Minced Onion
2 Tbs Minced Fresh Ginger
11/2 Tbs Coriander seeds, coarsely crushed
1 tsp Kasuri Methi 
4- 6 Dry Red Chiles
1 tsp Cumin seeds
1/4 tsp Ground Paprika 
Chopped Cilantro

In a blender, blend together yogurt, water, besan, green chile and garlic until smooth and well mixed

Transfer to a bowl and mix in the coriander, turmeric and salt

Heat 11/2 T Oil in a large non-stick wok over med- high heat and cook ginger and onion till ginger turns golden brown

Add the coriander, fenugreek seeds  and asafetida and stir momentarily. 

Slowly add the yogurt mixture, stirring continuously and continue to stir  until it comes to a boil (reduce heat if it starts to boil over)

Reduce heat (med-low) and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally and watching carefully until sauce is smooth and traces of oil are visible on top and sides (30-35 mins)

Add kasuri methi and pakoras and simmer another 3-5 mins allowing pakoras to absorb the flavor
Garnish with chopped cilantro, cover and keep warm

heat remaining 11/2 Tbs Oil on a small pan on med- high heat and add the red chiles and cook till they  turn reddish-brown. Remove from heat and add cumin seeds (they will sizzle on contact). Quickly add paprika and pour over kadhi and mix VERY SLIGHTLY ( use a fork)  so that some seasoning/ tadka shows on top

Serve hot  with plain steamed rice or Jeera Rice.
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Thursday, April 08, 2010

Thalipeeth and recreating the magic at home!

One of the nice things  of living away from the home country is that you learn to appreciate the variety of food that it ( home country) offers. The second best is to make it and glorify in the fact that you made it and more importantly, made it well!! 
When I was new to this country, I missed the variety of breakfasts / snacks made at home, the time I did not have to think twice about making anything (or how Mom made them) mixes, spices were (are still are) readily available and in the quantity required and the convenience! if we ran out of a couple of items, all we had to do was make a call to the grocery store and they would  take the order and have their delivery lad bring those things home and at no extra charge. 
Those are the conveniences I miss even today. If I miss out on an item in my shopping, I have to go a mile to get it  or make do till the next week or if I need just 1 or 2 cups of something, I have to buy 2 lbs. sigh! 

Eep! How did I go from a start of ' nice things' to whine!!? Let me go back on the  'nice' track....
One of my favorite breakfast items is thalipeeth , in fact I like it anytime, breakfast, lunch or dinner. It was one of my favorite lunch box items when in school. I'm sure my Mother also favored this. The flour mix ( BhajaNi)  is readily available and all it needs is adding salt, water, chiles, cilantro and onion, or to take a shortcut, water, salt, red chile powder, mix a dough , pat it with your palms/ fingers and shallow fry on a hot skillet and you are set in a matter of 15-20 minutes! 

A friend had  given me their stock of bahjaNi when going back to India and after that my Mother got me some packets  when she visited and my Mother in Law also got me a couple of packets when she came last year. But those packets weren't much (just 250 gms each) and  were polished off in one weekend breakfast.
So finally the MIL came up with a brilliant idea, 'Make your own bahjaNi mix' ! Now we're talking! 
So on one weekday she  taught me a super easy thalipeeth flour mix. 

Here is what you need :

1 Cup Wheat flour (atta)
1 Cup Jowar (Finger Millet flour)
1/2 Cup Urad  flour
1/4 EACH Besan and Rice flour 
1 small cup (what we can call 'amti vati') full Coriander seeds
1 small cup / amti vati ( take off 2 Tbsp. from top) Jeera / Cumin seeds

In a wok, over med- high heat , individually roast all the flours. Do not mix the flours and then roast
Roast the flours lightly, just until the aroma wafts and they turn a shade or two dark
Roast the coriander seeds
Roast the cumin seeds
Cool the roasted seeds and powder them in a spice mill or coffee grinder
Mix  the cumin-coriander powder with the roasted  flour and mix thoroughly
Store and use as and when required.

To make  Thalipeeth:

I usually pick fistfuls of the flour and proceed.
Take 2-3 hefty fistfuls of the flour mix
Add a tiny drizzle of oil ( 1-2 tsp) 
Add salt as per taste
Add finely chopped green chile or red chile powder to taste 
Add finely chopped onion (1/2 medium sized onion)
Add finely chopped cilantro

I usually eyeball the ingredients, this is a very easy and forgiving  recipe. Tastes great every time.

Add water slowly to make a dough that is not too soft but pliable.
Divide the dough into balls (2-3 big sized or 4-6 to make smaller thalipeeth)
Smear oil or spray oil on a non-stick griddle and  pat a ball of dough on it, using palms and fingers, lightly pat the dough in to a circle ( I make thin thalipeeth) make a hole in the center and add a small drizzle of oil
Switch on the stove ( med-high heat) and cover and cook
My MIL cooks the thalipeeth on one side only. This makes the thalipeeth very soft and no, the dough does not remain uncooked.  
Covering and cooking  over a medium flame / heat setting ensures that it is fully cooked.
I prefer cooking on both sides, however,  I too like my thalipeeth soft and so, I cook it on the second side briefly, just until the side is lightly blistered
Serve hot with a  pat of freshly churned butter (loNi or makkhan) or a pat of butter and  a side of pickle  or thick home made yogurt
I use a pizza slicer to make wedges of the thalipeeth and serve with both butter and yogurt, my guests can choose the accompaniment they want.

I am thinking of re-visiting some of my old recipes and posting different versions that I have tried and liked.  Do you all have any special recipes that you have re-visited or re-evaluated?

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