Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Chawli Methi Dhokla

This is my first successful attempt at making dhokla from SCRATCH. I have tried making dhokla several times while I was in college, but unfortunately they never came out soft and spongy. So I finally gave up and never tried making these from scratch for all these years since I got married. Last week I stumbled upon a dhokla recipe on Tarla Dalal's website which motivated me to give this yet another try. Mustering up courage, I finally made these dhoklas and was pleasantly surprised at the outcome. That’s when I realized that probably the key to making good dhokla is using fresh fruit salt and baking soda (if the recipe calls for it) and not over mixing the batter after adding these ingredients.

The most common traditional dhokla is made from gram flour, but this unusual combination of chawli dal (black eyed peas), spinach and methi made these soft fluffy dhoklas very flavorful and unique tasting. I garnished the dhoklas with fresh grated coconut, finely chopped cilantro and a sweet and spicy vaghar ("Phodni" in marathi or "tempering" in English) which enhanced the flavor even more.

Ingredients -
1 cup chawli dal / dal of black eyed beans
½ cup chopped methi/ fenugreek leaves
½ cup chopped spinach leaves
3 green chillies
¼ teaspoon hing/ asafoetida
2 tablespoon yoghurt
¼ teaspoon haldi/ turmeric powder
2 teaspoon oil
2 tsp sugar
1 teaspoon fruit salt
salt to taste

For the tempering -
½ teaspoon mustard seeds
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
1 tsp sesame seeds
1 pinch hing
1 chopped green chilli
5-6 curry leaves
2 tsp sugar (optional)
2-3 teaspoons oil

For the garnish -
grated coconut
finely chopped cilantro

Method -
1. Soak the dal for 4 hours.
2. Grind the soaked dal with the green chillies, adding a little water.
3. Add the methi, spinach, hing, turmeric, yoghurt, oil and salt and mix well.
4. When you wish to steam the dhoklas add the fruit salt to the batter, sprinkle a little water over it and mix gently.
5. Pour into a greased thali or pressure cooker pans and steam for 10 to 15 minutes. Insert the tip of the knife in the dhokla and if it comes out clean it is ready.
6. Allow it to cool for a few minutes.
7. Prepare the tempering by heating the oil; add the mustard seeds and allow to crackle.
8. Add the cumin seeds, sesame seeds, chopped green chilli, curry leaves and hing and remove from the flame. Pour 3-4 teaspoon of water into the oil once it has cooled and add some sugar to this. Pour the tempering over the dhoklas.
9. Cut into squares, garnish with the coconut and cilantro
10. Serve hot with green chutney.

Aloo Palak Paneer Paratha

With a 15 month old toddler in the house, I'm always looking for ideas to make simple yet flavorful meals on week nights. Sometimes, it’s so much easier to make vegetable parathas versus making separate vegetable curry and rotis/ chapatis.
I had half a bag of spinach left in my refrigerator which I wanted to use up before it went bad. For some reason, I was not in a mood to have any kind of spinach curry so I made these parathas which came out very soft and yummy. I used Tarla Dalal's "Aloo Palak Paratha" recipe for reference but these parathas turned out to be quite different as I started kneading the dough. Along with spinach, I also added grated boiled potatoes and grated paneer for some softness and added grated carrots to make these more nutritious. I served these with some carrot boondi raita and coconut peanut chutney. I'm definitely going to make these very often.

Ingredients -
2 cups wheat flour
1/2 cup gram flour/ besan
1 grated boiled potato
1 cup chopped spinach
1/2 cup grated carrots
1/2 cup grated/ crumbled paneer
2 tbsp ginger, garlic and green chillies coarse paste
2 tbsp cumin and coriander powder
1 tsp red chilli powder
2 tsp sugar (optional)
4 tablespoons yoghurt
salt to taste

Method -
1. Mix all the ingredients along with 1 tbsp oil and make a dough.
2. Roll out the dough into small rotis with the help of a little flour.
3. Cook on a griddle/ tava on both sides with some oil.
4. Serve hot with boondi raita, pickle or simply serve with butter.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Bread Dosa

I first read about "Bread Dosa" on Shilpa's blog few months back. Though she had good things to say about this dosa, I had my own doubts about how these would turn out. So I did not attempt to try these out at that time. Few days back I also saw these on Sanjeev Kapoor's website and finally decided to give it a shot. I made some changes to the recipe and came up with my own version that tasted really good. I actually bought fresh bread to specially make these dosas, but I think this is a creative way of using leftover bread. These dosas didn’t taste very different than the rava maida dosas that I make very often at home. However, the seasonings did give it a nice unique flavor. I served these with my mom's tomato chutney.

Ingredients -
8 slices of white bread
1/2 cup semolina/ rawa/ suji
2 tbsp rice flour
salt to taste
1/2 cup whisked yogurt
Oil - for frying the dosas + 2 tbsp
1 tsp Mustard seeds
2 tsp split black gram skinless/ dhuli urad dal
5-6 chopped curry leaves
1/2 inch finely chopped ginger
3-4 finely chopped green chillies
1 medium finely chopped onion
1 tbsp roughly crushed cashewnuts

Method -
1. Trim the edges of the bread slices and soak the slices in some warm sufficient water for few minutes. Squeeze out water from the soaked bread and lightly crumble with hand.
2. Take semolina, rice flour, salt in a bowl and add sufficient water to make a thin batter.
3. Add this crumbled bread to the batter along with whisked yogurt.
4. Put the mixture in blender/ food processor and grind it to a fine paste.
6. Transfer to a clean bowl and adjust the consistency.
7. Heat two tablespoons of oil in a pan.
8. Add mustard seeds, dhuli urad dal, curry leaves, chopped ginger, green chillies, onion, cashewnuts and sauté till onions are lightly browned. Set aside to cool.
9. Heat a dosa tawa. Put some oil on it and wipe with a clean wet cloth.
10. Add the tempering to the batter and mix well.
11. Pour a ladleful of the batter onto the hot tawa and spread. Pour a little oil on top and sides and cook for two to three minutes. Turn and cook the other side similarly.
12. Prepare the other dosas similarly. Serve hot with chutney of choice.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Egg Methi Pakoda

Chef. Sanjeev Kapoor of the "Khana Khazana" fame needs no introduction. He was one of my inspirations during my formative years in cooking. I used to religiously watch his cooking show every Sunday at noon and I still have all the handwritten recipes that I would jot down every week while watching his show. While browsing through his website last week, I came across these egg methi pakodas. They sounded like a delicious yet healthy protein rich pakodas and I decided to make these as part of the Valentine day celebration. This is an excellent dish for kids as well, as these would add some good protein to their diet. The methi / fenugreek leaf enhances the flavor of the pakoda, but we can always leave the methi out. I shaped these pakodas to look like eggs and deep fried them to a nice golden brown color. They were awesome. I served these with some sweet and spicy sauce (regular ketchup + spicy Shiracha chilli sauce). I modified the recipe and proportions slightly to suit our taste.

I served these pakodas on this lovely oyster platter with chinese print. We bought this platter and mini sauce serving bowls from China Town in Montreal, Canada when we were on vacation couple of years back.

Ingredients -
3 Eggs
1 cup chopped methi/ fenugreek leaves
3 tbsp chopped cilantro leaves
1 medium onion finely chopped
1 inch ginger finely chopped
3 green chillies finely chopped
1 stalk spring onions finely chopped
3 tbsp gram flour/ besan
1/4 tsp carom seeds/ ajwain
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp chaat masala
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 pinch soda bicarbonate
salt to taste
oil to deep fry

Method -
1. Boil water and cook eggs for about ten to twelve minutes or until hard-boiled. 2. Drain and immediately put into cold water. Remove shell and finely chop.
3. Mix methi leaves, coriander leaves, onion, ginger, green chillies and spring onions.
4. Sprinkle besan and mix well.
5. Add ajwain, red chilli powder, chaat masala, cumin powder, soda bicarbonate and salt.
6. Add chopped boiled egg, sprinkle a little water and mix to combine all the ingredients well.
7. Heat sufficient oil in a deep frying pan/ kadhai,
8. Shape the mixture into small oval balls and drop in the hot oil. You may need to wet your hands to shape the balls.
8. Reduce heat to medium and deep-fry the pakoras in small batches without overcrowding the kadhai.
9. Turn the pakoras occasionally for even browning.
10. Once they are golden brown, drain onto an absorbent paper.
11. Serve hot with sauce/ chutney of your choice.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Sweet & Spicy Banana Dosa

Gone are the carefree weekends, when we woke up several hours after sunrise, ate lunch @ 3-4 pm in the afternoon, shopped till we dropped at the mall and watched back to back movies till wee hours in the morning. I always thought losing all this freedom after having a baby would bother me. But believe me motherhood changes life for the better and I feel like I could give up anything for my little angel. These days our weekend mornings are busier than ever and much more hectic than weekdays. A lot of time is spent cooking, feeding, diapering, bathing , playing with Swara and also dealing with stuffy noses, teething, tummy problems etc from time to time. This leaves me very little time to cook. So I love whoever invented the Saturday brunch concept…skip the breakfast and have an early lunch :-).

I had these bananas sitting in the fruit basket since last week and wanted to put them to good use before they went bad. Fruits have a very bad destiny when they end up in our house:-(. Both D and I are not very fond of fruits. So, last Saturday, I made these sweet and spicy banana dosas for brunch. It does require some prep work ahead of time like our regular fermented traditional dosas. I soaked the rice and urad dal on Thursday morning and got the batter ready for fermentation by Thursday evening. Its pretty cold in this part of the world and it takes at least a couple of days for fermentation. I served these with coconut chutney, but from my internet research it appears that most people have these with honey. They turned out pretty good.

Ingredients -
1 cup rice
1/4 cup urad dal
2 pinches fenugreek/ methi seeds
2 bananas
2 finely chopped green chillies
3-4 tbsps finely chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon sugar
salt to taste
ghee/ butter for frying

Method -
1. Soak the rice, urad dal and fenugreek seeds overnight.
2. Drain and grind to a fine paste with some warm water.
3. The dosa mixture should be quite thick. Add salt to taste and set the batter aside for fermentation.
4. Mash the bananas. Add to the fermented dosa batter. Add the green chillies and sugar.
5. Grease a non-stick frying pan with a little butter or ghee and heat.
6. Spread the mixture in small rounds about 2" diameter. Put a little ghee around the sides of the rounds and cook for a few minutes.
7. Turn and cook again.
8. Serve hot with coconut chutney or honey