Thursday, April 18, 2013

Left over magic: Jazzing up the humble Policha Ladoo

I woke up in the morning with a dreadful pounding in my head. Red hot hammers were working over time. 
Letting out a miserable groan, I dragged my feet to the bathroom to brush and swallowed a migraine tablet and stumbled back in bed.What a terrible way to start the day! How I wished someone would soothe my forehead or make me a cup of tea....

Through the haze in my mind, I remembered a figure, long forgotten........ Sonu Bai. 
Sonu Bai was our maid, when I was a school going girl. She was a tall and had square shoulders and very strong, a booming voice and  I swear, at times, she breathed fire.. but above all, she adored me.
Every morning, she would come to work but first, she would come to the bedroom, wake me, brushing the hair out of my eyes she would  run her rough hands from my temples to my chin and then crack her fingers against her temples, it was to ward off any 'evil eye'. She would run the bath water for me, pick up and wash my tea cup and also make my bed. I was her 'RaNi MaNi'. 

Sonu Bai also used to get some medicated leaves that would ease the severe pain in my father's joints, because of arthritis. 
She would take the whole wheat (grain) to be milled and bring it back, it helped my Mother. Simple things that made life one tiny bit easy for us and beyond her 'job description'. Simple things, that we relied on her for... She was dedicated to our family. 

If she  were here today, she would have told me, "Rani, dokyat ghalte vati bhar tel, thambul dukaycha." ("Let me pour a cup of oil on your head, it will stop the pain"), she would have done it too, making sure my Father was nowhere in the vicinity (she knew how he hates hair oil).

I smiled at the memory and the fact that the pain was down a notch.
I longed to eat something comforting and sweet but nothing that  involved a lot of time and effort.
All I had was bread and 3 left over rotis from last night.

I settled on the roti / chapati /Poli and decided to make Policha ladoo.
For those who do not know, this is one simple ( and tasty) way to finish left over rotis. Children like it as do adults. I used to like taking these in my lunch box! 

The simplest version has just 3 ingredients, leftover roti, jaggery and some ghee. 
My version today is  slightly jazzed up.

You need:
(I used) 3 Left over rotis
A lemon sized ball of soft Jaggery
3/4 tsp khus-khus ( poppy seeds)
1-2 tsp Shredded, un-sweetened coconut
1 Cardamom, powdered
1 tsp Ghee

Tear the roti into small pieces, I run them thru the food processor.
Heat the ghee in a wok. You do not want it to smoke.
Add the poppy seeds and stir  until the poppy seeds are slightly brown, add the coconut and  coat it well in the ghee and poppy seeds mixture.
Once the coconut is slightly brown, add the jaggery ( I crumble it and add it in the ghee).
After the ghee melts, add the shredded roti and mix well to make a slightly sticky mass.
Switch off the heat and add the powdered cardamom.
Once the mixture is cool enough to handle, roll into balls.


- There are no set measurements, the size of a roti is a personal choice, a fulka is small and thin, whereas a poli / chapati is slightly bigger and not as thin as a fulka. In this case, use jaggery as required.

- I used fresh ( frozen) coconut instead of shredded, Substitute one for the other or omit if you do not like it or do not have either on hand.

I also wanted to share with you the picture of a cake I made for a dear friend, as a surprise for her Birthday.
Clearly, my frosting skills can use a lot of practice, but everyone liked the cake!
Flavor: Orange Creamsicle ( box mix)
Frosting: Whipped cream ( 1 cup heavy whipping cream : 1/2 cup Confectioners sugar and a dash of Vanilla extract)

I like whipped cream frosting, it is not so easy to work with ( butter cream frosting has that advantage, controlling the consistency, you can make a variety of decorations, where as whipped cream does not stand up to that test, it makes up in taste, that it does!)

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Thursday, April 04, 2013


I used to be very excited about April Fool's day. I would actually spend time thinking about how I would like to fool  my parents.
Maybe it was all those Enid Blyton books I was addicted to. Reading all about how those school going girls tricked their friends and family and teachers would make me yearn to pull one on my near ones too.
Of course I realized that there was no store that sold jokes or trick packs in India and had to 'compromise'.

I would do silly things like, when my parents were getting ready for work, I'd quietly open the main door, ring the bell and close the door ( very quietly, of course) and scuttle off. My Mother or Dad would go to open the door and find no one and I'd shoot out from my hiding place singing, "April fool banaya...". The other trick I had up my sleeve was, during those days ( 80's) MTNL ( the phone company) had a 3 digit number, which when dialed (and after you have hung up) will send a ring back to your telephone. I have no idea behind the logic here, but it was useful in pulling a prank.
I'd dial the number, and scuttle, my parents would come to answer the phone and I'd spring out singing the song, or I would pretend to answer the phone, and call out to my Mom or Dad and inform them that one of their friends was on the phone or my Ajji was on the phone to talk to Mom- here I would pretend that I was asking polite questions etc. and then holler for mom,  they would rush and I would wait till the first "hello" and  start singing the annoying song, again! 

I have no idea if they knew what I was doing, but they played along or they really fell for it. but whatever it was, today it is a sweet memory, one I will always cherish! 
This year, like the last few years, April Fools day was like any other day, wake up, breakfast  school bus, meals, study time, dinner, bed........... 
Maybe one day, my little boy will play a harmless prank and make me laugh out loud, again.
Innocent fun! How I miss those moments.

Not that the recipe I have for you today has anything to do with pranks or April Fool's day. 
I have another Gujarati Classic for you. A wonderful tea-time snack, Ondhwo / handhwo is a savory cake. I guess one can call it that...
It has vegetable content, so it is healthy! Do you need any further persuasion?

Recipe source: Kamini aunty 

You Need:

1 cup Rice
1/4 cup Chana dal
1/4 cup Toor daal 
1 tbsp Urad dal 
1/2 cup Plain, thick Yogurt 
1 inch Ginger piece
2-3 cloves Garlic
1-2 Green chilies ( + / - to suit your taste buds)
2 tsp Sugar ( can substitute with jaggery)
1 tsp Ajwain (Bishops weed)
1/2 tsp Pickle Masala
1 Medium Lauki / Dudhi/ Bottle Gourd, grated
Salt to taste
Few curry Leaves
1-2 Dry Red chilies ( optional)
1 tsp Mustard seeds
~2 tsp ( I did not really measure these, just sprinkled generously) Sesame Seeds
1 tsp Eno/ fruit salt, regular flavor
1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
Pinch Red chili powder

Wash the rice and daals and soak it for a minimum of 6 to 7 hrs.
Drain all the water the grain was soaked in and coarsely grind using  yogurt- no water. Do not use any water when grinding the rice and daals. 

Then take above mixture in a bowl and add ginger, garlic and green chillies paste and salt, mix thoroughly. Leave it over night.

Next morning add turmeric powder, sugar/ jaggery, ajwain , pickle masal and grated bottle gourd / lauki . 

Mix well . Taste it and adjust seasoning, if needed. 

Heat a small skillet, add 1 tsp oil, once the oil is hot ( not smoking) and add few curry leaves and little red chilli powder . Pour  into the batter.

At this stage, prepare a baking dish, grease it or spray it with oil. Preheat the oven (350 F)
Then add 1 tsp eno to the batter and mix well. Pour the mixture in an oven safe dish/ bakeware 

In the same skillet, make a tadka ( oil , mustard seeds, hing, sesame seeds and 1 or two whole red chillis -if using ). Pour this on the batter.

Now cover the baking dish with aluminium foil and put into preheated oven . Bake for 30 to 40 min until bottom layer is light brown in color. 

Then uncover and broil for 8 to 10 min. Watch  this broiling stage like a hawk.
The top can go from golden brown to charcoal very quickly! 

Cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then on a cooling rack. 

Slice in wedges and serve with a cup of tea.


Traditionally, bottle gourd is used, however you can add different vegetables, to up the nutritive value. Add petite green peas, grated carrot or corn kernels.

If you have a lump of jaggery that is hard to crumble / grate,  place the lump in a microwave safe bowl, add a tsp water and microwave it for 20-30 seconds.  Add the melted jaggery to the mix.

My friend, Ashwini, has a recipe for Ondhwo that uses Quinoa and flax seed.

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