Sunday, February 28, 2010

Happy Holi with Puranpoli

It is Holi today. Holi or the Festival of colors is a widely celebrated festival in India. In Maharashtra, Holi is celebrated by burning a pyre of wood, which symbolizes triumph of good over evil. Holi means Puranpoli.

Except for last some years, there had never been a year when I did not eat Puranpoli on the day of Holi. Last time I made Puranpoli was 4 years back. But it was so much of work, that I did not make it after that. This year both A and I were craving for Puranpoli, so I decided to make it. I would like to dedicate this post to my Mami (aunt) who taught me how to make it. I was about 20-21 when I first tried my hand at Puranpoli and I definitely give her the credit for it. Thank you Mami!

But, before I write this post let me say this loud and clear that though I know the process of making Puranpolis, I am not an expert. I must tell you that I make very good Puran and I can make a very good poli (chapati), but I am not that good when it comes to making Puranpoli :) Those who have tasted a real Puranpoli should know what I mean. Anyway... I still keep on trying hoping that one day I too will master this art.

Puranpoli is made by stuffing Puran (which is a concoction of cooked chana dal and jaggery) inside a whole wheat dough.

Ingredients for Puran:

1 cup chana dal (pressure cooked until soft)
1 cup jaggery
1/2 tsp of nutmeg powder or cardamom powder

In a deep pan, mix cooked chana dal and jaggery and let it cook thoroughly. The mixture will start to thicken and will look dry. To check if Puran is ready, make the spatula/spoon stand in it. If it falls or leans, it means that you need to cook it more. If the spoon stands strong, your Puran is good to go. However, to use this Puran for making poli, you need to make it soft and free of lumps. You can use a food mill or simply your food processor. Once you have this soft puran, add nutmeg powder or cardamom powder to it as per your liking.

To make dough for Puranpoli, mix the following in a bowl -

1 cup whole wheat flour (sifted)
1 tbsp all purpose flour (sifted)
1 tbsp sooji/rawa (sifted)
A pinch of salt

To the above, add water to form a loose dough. Once you form a loose dough keep adding oil until it becomes soft and elastic. You probably would need about a quarter cup of oil. Let it sit for about half an hour. When ready, the dough will look like this -

To make Puranpoli, start by taking a small ball of dough, and roll it out a little just so that you can stuff the Puran in. Now, take a ball of Puran and put it inside the dough and close all sides. Roll it out and cook both sides on a pan. Puranpoli is ready to be served.

Serve it hot or at room temperature. Puranpoli is generally served with ghee, milk or Katachi amtee (a tamarind based curry); ghee being the most popular.

Wish you all a very happy Holi!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

No cook event: Chutney Sandwiches

There are a lot of different events hosted by food bloggers. There are some food bloggers who are extremely creative and come up with some fabulous ideas. Until now, I did not follow any particular food blog, but came across some posts that were entries to different blogging events. I am still very new to the world of blogging (read food blogs) and have never participated in any event before. Some time back I stumbled upon a blog called " One Hot Stove" by very talented and super-creative Nupur. She hosted a 7 day recipe marathon from December 25 to December 31 counting down to new year - One dish every day. Of course I came to know about it after it was over.

Last month I learnt about a recipe repost event by Jaya of "Desi Soccer Mom", but I was late again :( She told me about the "No Cook Event" this month hosted by "PJ". I thought it would be interesting to see what different dishes people come up with where there is zero cooking involved. I just went through my previous posts and was surprised to find quite a few dishes with no cooking at all. The dishes that could qualify for this event are -Swiss Rolls, Bhel, Mango Chutney and Shrikhand. But, I decided to post a new one for this event. Considering the little time that I have on hand, I thought Chutney Sandwiches would be a perfect dish for this event. So here is my very first entry to any food blog event.

Chutney Sandwiches:

I decided to go with chutney sandwiches as they can be ideal for breakfast or even brunch. Chutney can be made ahead of time and sandwiches can be assembled in absolutely no time. Apart from being very tasty, it is a healthy meal option.

Ingredients for chutney:
1 cup grated coconut (fresh or frozen)
3/4 green chillies (or as per taste)
Handful of cilantro
Juice of half lime/lemon
1.5 tsp sugar
Salt to taste

Grind together green chillies, coconut and cilantro into a fine paste. Take out in a bowl and add lime juice, sugar and salt. Chutney is ready. You can also add some mint leaves while grinding. Sometimes I also use spinach and grind it with other ingredients. Spinach gives chutney a nice green color. All you people who hate spinach, trust me - you wouldn't even taste it in the chutney.

To assemble the sandwiches, butter the bread and slather chutney onto it. Top it off with the veggies of your choice. I used only the tomato and cucumber this time.

I often make a multilayer sandwich with different veggies in different layers. You can also have one layer of chutney and another with a slice of cheese and veggies. It makes a great lunch too. It is also a very good option to take along for picnics.

And now off it goes to PJ's No cook Event!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Veggie Cutlets

As a kid I loved everything that was coated with bread crumbs slightly fried on oil, and I still do. Mom used to make veggie cutlets quite a few times. My brother and I loved them for all the tasty reasons and mom loved making them because that way she made us eat all those veggies that we normally would not eat. She also made sure that those weren't too oily. If you don't like certain veggies, this is a good way to eat them. Potato is the important ingredient in this dish as it binds the veggies together.


3 boiled potatoes (mashed)
1 medium onion (chopped)
2 cups carrot (peeled & shredded)
1 cup green peas
2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp red chilli powder (more or less as per taste)
Salt to taste
Bread crumbs for coating

1. In a pan saute the carrots and onions until tender. You can add the veggies of your choice. Shredded beets can be used instead of carrots.
Add mashed potato, peas, red chilli powder and salt, and mix very well. Make sure that potatoes you add aren't too mushy.
3. Take some of this mixture and form patties. Coat all sides of this patty with bread crumbs.
4. Coat the bottom of a skillet with some oil and fry both sides of the patty until bred crumbs turn golden-brown. Serve with tomato ketchup.

The above mix makes about 20-22 palm size cutlets.

Friday, February 12, 2010


There was no special occasion to make Shrikhand today. In India, sweet dishes like this one are made on some special occasions such as festivals. I bought this yogurt tub and totally forgot about it. I generally don't throw away yogurt containers but reuse them to store things in my fridge (they are especially very useful in storing Idli and Dosa batters in the freezer in small batches). So there were two more yogurt containers sitting beside this one and I didn't even realize that I have one unopened yogurt tub. Duh... I immediately checked the date on it and said to myself "Ah... I am glad I still can use it" (though it can still be usable for a couple days after the use by date, I strictly stick to the date on package and use it by that date). There was no way I could have used it in one day. A loves Shrikhand and so do I. Needless to say DH was very happy to see this on tonight's dinner menu :)

Shrikhand is made of strained yogurt. In India, the most common method to get rid of excess water in yogurt is to tie the yogurt in a cloth and hang it overnight. This makes the yogurt thick and creamy. Now you just need to add a few more ingredients and voila Shrikhand is ready! No cooking involved. It is just the assembling and mixing of different ingredients.

1 tub yogurt (32 oz)
Sugar as needed
A few strands of saffron
Handful of slivered almonds or charoli nuts

1. Strain the yogurt. Initially I used the traditional "hang in a cloth" method, but now I don't use it any more. I think the best way to get thick yogurt is to use a colander or big strainer like this. Line with cheesecloth or a couple of sheets of paper towel, and dump in the yogurt. Cover the yogurt with paper towels and make the colander/strainer sit on a deep bowl in the fridge. After 3/4 hours you will get a thick yogurt.

2. Add sugar, saffron strand and nuts, and mix well. You will need about half the sugar of total yogurt(strained). Start by adding little less than half a cup and increase the quantity of sugar as required.
Traditionally Charoli is used in Shrikhand. But I always hated it :P, so I don't even bother to look for it in Indian stores. For me almonds work the best. I soak them in warm water for a few hours, take the skins off and finely cut them vertically.

Once your mixing is complete, Shrikhand is ready. Serve it with puri. There is no other combination that is as good as Shrikhand- Puri.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Hot n Sweet Tomato Saar

Saar is one of the elements of a Maharashtrian meal. Tomato saar and Kokum saar are the most popular. Saar is similar to a soup but of a thinner consistency. Think of it as a consomme. However, unlike soups, it is served with the main course. It is usually served with rice, khichdi or by itself like a soup.

There are a couple different ways to make tomato saar, but I generally use the following method.

(Serves 3-4)

5 ripe tomatoes
2 tsp ghee
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp cumin powder (optional)
1/2 tsp asafoetida
3/4 green chillies (less if you want it to be too hot)
A couple of sprigs of cilantro (optional)

Start by boiling tomatoes for about 10 minutes. Remove the skin and puree them by adding some water. Strain this puree in a pot and add salt and sugar. Add water as needed and let the saar boil. In another pan temper ghee with cumin seeds, asafoetida and green chillies. Add cumin powder if you like. I generally use it because ghee infused with cumin gives saar a nice flavor. Now add this tempering to the boiling saar and let it simmer for about 5 minutes. You can also add some coarsely chopped cilantro if you like. Serve hot. The heat from chillies gives it a nice kick and natural sweetness of tomatoes coupled with sugar adds to the sweetness.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Masala Dosa & Uttappa

It has been one crazy winter this time. Come every weekend and the weather ought to be bad. For the past few weekends there have been ridiculous amounts of snow. If at all snow showed any mercy, there has been this ruthless cold all through the weekend. Though cold can be manageable, there is nothing you can do when everything is snow packed. These are the times when food comes to comfort you. One of such comforting dishes is masala dosa served with hot sambar. I am a big fan of south indian food. I can literally have idlis and dosas everyday. Believe me it is heavenly to have dosa dunked in hot sambar.

Onion uttappa is another dish that I totally love. I use the same batter to make dosas and uttappas, so whenever I make dosas, uttappas come hand in hand. Masala dosa is made by putting some potato sabzi inside the dosa. I use the following to make dosa batter -


3 cups rice
1 cup urad dal
1 tbsp chana dal
1 tbsp toor dal
1 tsp methi (fenugreek) seeds
Handful of thick poha

To make the batter, soak all these ingredients separately (rice and lentils.. rest can be soaked in the same bowl)overnight or for 7-8 hours in warm water. I noticed that soaking in warm water speeds up the fermentation, so I generally use warm water. After they are soaked, grind them into a paste which should be slightly on a rough side. Now let the batter sit to ferment. It will take anywhere from 8-10 hours at the least for the batter to ferment. Add salt before you use the batter.

To make dosas, take a ladle full of batter and place it on the center of a pan. Spread it out in circular motion and let cook. Make sure that you spread a thin layer. Add some oil on it while it cooks. Dosa is ready to be served. Serve it with hot sambar and coconut chutney.

For Masala (potato sabzi) you need -
3 medium potatoes (boiled and diced)
1 large onion (cut into thick slices)
4/5 curry leaves
3/4 green chillies
1 tsp sugar
Salt to taste
Tempering of 2 tsp oil

In a pan make tempering and add to it green chillies, curry leaves and onion. Saute the onion until tender. Add potatoes, salt and sugar, and mix well. Let it cook for a minute or two. Masala is ready for your dosa. You can also add about a teaspoon of grated ginger root if you like. Add it to the tempering just before you add onions.

For Sambar you need the following :
1 cup cooked toor dal
1 medium onion
1 medium tomato
1 cup veggies of your choice
1.5 tbsp sambar powder
3 tbsp tamarind pulp (or as required)
3/4 dried red chillies
Few curry leaves
1/4 tsp ground clove
Salt to taste

1. Make tempering of 1 tsp oil and add curry leaves and red chillies to it.
2. Add onions and tomatoes and saute until tender. Add other veggies of your choice and let them cook.
3. Add cooked toor dal, tamarind pulp, sambar powder (I use MTR brand), salt and water, and let it boil for some time. Add some ground clove at the end (optional).


Put some dosa batter in the center of a pan and spread it out just as you would do for a dosa but slightly thicker. Add some chopped onions and green chillies on top while the batter is still wet.

Once one side cooks, flip it and let the other side cook. When you flip it the onions will caramelize giving uttappa a really nice taste.
Serve hot with sambar or coconut chutney.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Tangy Mango Chutney

On yesterday's grocery trip I spotted some mangoes in one corner of the store. Every time I see mangoes, I look for the hardest and fully green mango and buy it hoping that it would be sour. And every time after cutting it I promise myself that I am never going to buy mangoes again. Well well well... that hasn't happened yet and I don't think it is going to happen any time soon. I am just being optimistic here that some day I will find a raw mango that tastes exactly like the raw mangoes in India.

I love raw mangoes and I am pretty sure that 99% of Indians love them too. So the moment I spot raw mangoes, I think of all those tangy dishes I can possibly make. But I have been so unfortunate...I never get tangy mangoes. Alright...enough of complaining. This time's mango was no exception, but I had so decided to make mango chutney that I didn't even bother that it wasn't sour. I somewhat achieved that slight tangy taste by adding amchur powder which basically is a dried mango powder.

To make mango chutney follow these steps-
1. Take mango and onion in 1:1 ratio (both grated - I used a total mix of 1/2 cup).
2. In a grinder, make some green chilli paste.
3. Add grated mango, onion, a couple of sprigs of cilantro (optional), a tablespoon of ground peanuts, salt and little bit of sugar, and churn it just a couple of times.