Friday, July 30, 2010

Kothimbir wadi

A few months ago life was  great. I had a terrific group of friends. We were a group of five and would meet everyday for lunch and share whatever we had made in the morning (for the husband's lunch boxes) and end the day with a good cup of tea. Sometimes we would go to the nearby mall after lunch and window shop or buy  or return stuff. 
Then things changed. One girl, S had to go back to India (only to come back on another project in another state). Then N, went back. A little later, I visited my family back home. M ( or Amma, as we fondly call her) has relocated to another state and I have temporarily relocated to IL, where the Hubby has his current project and  am now living in a hotel. Only N, stays  in the same apartment and she too misses the pleasant afternoons and the fun.
I cannot help but fondly recollect those cold winter and spring days when we met and shared so much over food. 
At one such get together ( with partners) I made these as  starters and they were crisp and tasty and gone in no time!

You need:

1 Cup Chana Daal , washed in 3-4 changes of water and soaked in enough water for at least 5 hours

1/2 cup Fresh cilantro ( firmly packed)

~ 1 inch piece of Fresh Ginger

2-3 green Chilies

Salt to taste

Hefty pinch Soda- bi- carb

Oil to deep fry

Wash the daal in 3-4 changes of water ( till the water runs clear)  and soak it (8 hrs being ideal, if not, at least 5 hours)
Drain the water and add all the ingredients listed, except the oil and soda-bi-carb and blend to make a gritty mixture (add a couple of tbsp. of water at a time only if needed)
Remove mixture and add the soda.
The next step is to steam the mixture, you can use something like this or just the good ol' idli stand like I did 
Lightly oil the stand and steam the nuggets for as long as  it takes  to make idlis. I usually keep the cooker (minus the weight/ whistle) for 7 minutes after it starts letting the steam come out.
Cool and remove the nuggets 
In the meantime, heat oil in a wok /kadhai over medium high heat  and line a plate with paper towels
Once the oil is hot (drop a bit of the steamed nugget and if it rises easily, but not too fast to the surface) carefully slip 4-6 nuggets, depending on the size of the wok, and deep fry till they turn a nice golden brown
Drain onto a paper towel and pierce with  toothpick (optional)
Serve with ketchup or green chutney  and/or sweet chutney 

I have another version of KothimbirWadi on this blog, which my Grandmother (Aaji) taught me. Today my Aaji , who is 84, is fighting for her life and never before have I wanted God to work a miracle so desperately. Everyday I call up just to hear that she is still there, that makes my day, just to know that she is hanging in there and thinking it is  her will power, of which we have been witnesses before, that is keeping her alive. 
Hang in there Aaji, we all love you. 

*Edited to add: My Aaji passed away last week, a day after I posted here. Words cannot describe the pain of her loss. All I am left with are memories.
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Monday, July 12, 2010

Stuffed Vegetable Cutlets

"Hmm.. here is your butter. Hold out your hand. No! No! don't come near me!! Don't touch me!! ugh! Here!  and remember, don't come into the house  like this. Clean yourself thoroughly." He grinned , accepted the white butter and slathered it on to this 'paav' and eagerly devoured it. He then went to the back of the house, to a lone tap and  'thoroughly clean up', chuckling to himself and then entered the house. 

My father is a raconteur and this kind of family talk and laughter were the highlights of my India trip. I enjoyed this little anecdote my Father told me as I soaked slices of brown bread in a saucer of water and squeezed them. We were sitting at the family dining table and I was doing the prep work for Vegetable Cutlets. 
I love hearing tales of his childhood and how things were in India before Independence and how VERY orthodox and traditional  his family was, in fact, how ultra conservative Bijapur was. Eating out was not acceptable and 'western' or non-Hindu / Brahmin food was a big no-no. Eating bread or paav ( baked in a non-Hindu) made my Grandmother shudder! How different from this day when one does not stop to consider anything except  in making  a choice in the various brands or very occasionally , white or brown bread! 

Makes 8
For the Potato Shells:
3 Medium ( 1lb.) red Potatoes, peeled and cooked
12-15 Slices White bread ( I use Brown, whole wheat)
4 Cups Warm water
1tsp. salt
1tsp. Veg. Oil

For the Filling:
1 tsp. Veg Oil
1 tsp. Cumin
1/2 Cup finely chopped Onion
1tsp. Chopped Ginger root
2  med. Garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 med. red Potatoes(2/3 lb.) peeled and cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1 med. Carrot Finely chopped
1/2 cup Frozen peas
1/4 cup Cilantro, chopped
2 tbs. Amchur pwd. or 1 tbs. lemon/lime juice
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp.Ground Cumin
1 tsp. Cayenne
1/4 cup Water

For the coating:
1 Egg lightly beaten ( I used a runny paste of flour and water)
1 cup dry Plain Breadcrumbs
Veg. Oil to brush

Make Potato Shells:
Mash potatoes in a bowl and set aside
Dip bread slices in warm water,just until moist. remove immediately and press between palms  and remove all water
Add bread and salt to the potatoes and knead the mixture until smooth
* If the mixture is too sticky, add 2-3 DRY slices and knead
Brush with oil and keep aside

Make the Filling:
Heat 1 T. oil in a wok/kadhai on medium high heat
Add cumin and sizzle  for 30 secs.
Add Onion and Ginger root, Garlic
Stir-fry 2-3 mins. or till onion is golden brown
Stir in remaining  filling ingredients, except water
Stir-fry for 1-2 mins. cover and simmer till potatoes are tender
If the mix is wet, open lid and cook till water evaporates and mix is dry
Cool Completely

Assemble Cutlets
Divide dough into 8 equal parts
press or roll each into a 6 inch circle on a lightly floured surface and spoon about 1/4 cup filling onto the center
Carefully fold the dough  over the filling to make a semi circle
Press with a fork to seal
Brush with oil on a 12 inch skillet and heat over medium heat
Coat cutlets with egg/ flour+water , coat with bread crumbs
Place cutlets on skillet, do not overcrowd
Cook 16-20 mins, turning once until shells ate Golden brown.
Serve with Ketchup

Changes I made:
Used Brown bread instead of white. Also unsure of the number of bread slices, so used my judgement. 12-15 slices were too much for me.
Used flour and water instead of egg for coating.  Made a thin and runny solution of  flour + water to dip the cutlets 
I made smaller cutlets
Did not put cutlets on the skillet once they were filled, directly dipped them in flour-water and coated with breadcrumbs

These are a bit time consuming to make but totally, totally worth the effort! You and/or your guests won't waste time polishing them off! 
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