Saturday, September 26, 2015

Jeera Khakhra | Cumin Wheat Crisps

Originating from the state of Gujarat, as part of Jain Gujarati cuisine in India, Khakhras are thin crackers made from mat bean flour or wheat flour and oil. It is served usually during breakfast. Khakhras are individually hand-made and roasted to provide a delicious, crunchy and healthy snack enjoyed with a selection of pickles and chutneys. 




Over the years, this vegan snack has evolved and changed in a great way. What started as a simple snack to make from scratch or from leftover rotis, Khakras have taken a fancy form lately. Take a stroll in the snacks aisle of any upmarket store in Mumbai and you will see various flavors like Sandwich, Pani Puri, Onion Garlic, and Mumbai's famous Pav Bhaji. This is apart from the regular ones like Masala, Jeera and Ghee Khakhras. The latest addition I have seen on the aisle is Dosa Khakhra. An innovation that is pretty unique!




In a Gujarati family, roti is generally prepared for all meals. And leftover rotis is a very common thing. Some people prefer to make ladoos out of the leftover rotis and jaggery, some people like to either fry the rotis and make a snack or make a quick curry out of yogurt and roti. While these dishes are pretty common, making khakhras out of leftover rotis is not uncommon. The result is a fresh, crispy and healthy snack for the entire family. Though this snack takes some muscle power to prepare, it yields amazing khakhras that we enjoy more than the store bought ones! Do try it once and share your experience in the comments below.  




Ingredients

Wheat flour 2 cups
Roasted Cumin powder 2 tsp
Cumin seeds 1 tsp
Oil 1 tbsp
Ghee Here is how you can make it at home!!
Water





Method

Take the wheat flour in a mixing bowl, and add salt, cumin powder and some roasted cumin. Mix well, add a tbsp of oil and mix to make a crumbly mixture. Now add 1/2 cup water and mix well. Add more water if needed and make a soft dough. Knead it several times till it is perfectly soft. Cover and let it rest for half an hour. 

After half an hour make equal sized balls of the dough and make thin rotis out of it. Make the rotis of even thickness to get khakhras that are evenly cooked. Roast each on the tava, making sure it does not get dark spots. Transfer to the open flame and make perfect rotis out of it. Remove from flame, apply ghee and set aside.




Once the rotis are cool, start making the khakhra. Place a roti on the tava, press it with a bhakri press or a kitchen towel held in your hand. Press well on one side, turn it and press again. Continue that till the roti takes the shape of the tava and is crunchy. 

Remove the roti and repeat the process for all the others. Sprinkle some cumin powder on top and smear a dollop of homemade ghee and serve as a breakfast dish or as a quick healthy snack with a glass of milk or a cup of hot Masala Tea. You can also serve it with chutney, pickle or just topped with ghee. To make other flavor khakhras, add the masala of required flavor instead of cumin powder and you can make your own masala khakhras or even something like pav bhaji khakhras.




Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Walnut Basil Pesto

Pesto is a sauce originating in Genoa in the Liguria region of northern Italy (pesto alla genovese), and traditionally consists of crushed garlic, basil, and European pine nuts blended with olive oil, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and Fiore Sardo (cheese made from sheep's milk). Pesto is traditionally prepared in a marble mortar with a wooden pestle. First, garlic and pine nuts are placed in the mortar and reduced to a cream, then the washed and dried basil leaves are added with coarse salt and ground to a creamy consistency. Only then is a mix of Parmigiano-Reggiano and Pecorino added. To help incorporate the cheese a little extra-virgin olive oil is added. 



Over time and due to various reasons like taste preferences and availability of certain ingredients, pesto is now used as a generic term to describe any dip that has at least a couple of ingredients from the list above! I have tasted Mint Pesto, Basil Pesto with Almonds, Kale Pesto and this Walnut Basil Pesto to name a few. 

Pesto is such a welcome change to the mundane marinara and alfredo sauces in pasta as well as pizza, leave alone the fact that we can cut a ton of calories too. The bright green color looks great on dishes, and tastes really awesome too. The recipe is simpler than the other sauces, as you only need to blend together a bunch of ingredients and storing the sauce is so easy too. In a tight jar (or simply in an air-tight plastic container), covered by a layer of extra-virgin olive oil, pesto can last in the refrigerator up to a week, and can be frozen for later use.




So here is a simple Walnut Pesto recipe, that is made from basil, walnuts, garlic and olive oil. If you want a richer pesto, add some Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese to it and enjoy a creamy pesto straight from the food processor jar! The recipe is so ridiculously easy and quick, that it will force you to bid good-bye to all store bought pestos!



Ingredients

Basil leaves 2 cups
Walnuts 1/4 cup
Garlic 2-3 Cloves
Olive Oil 1/4 cup
Sea Salt 1 tsp



Method

Roast 1/4 cup walnuts for a couple of minutes till they release their fragrance. Remove the leaves from the basil, rinse them and drain. Add them to a food processor. Also add chopped garlic, roasted walnuts, olive oil and salt. Blend it all to a paste. 

Blend the paste according to your choice of consistency. Remove from food processor and use it as a spread on breads, toasts, pizza or as a pasta sauce. The pesto sauce is an amazing alternative for the traditional pizza or pasta sauce. 







Sunday, September 20, 2015

Matki Ki Sabzi | Moth Usal

Matki is a common legume consumed in India as a main course or side dish. It is commonly called mat bean, moth bean, Turkish gram or dew bean. The pods, sprouts and protein rich seeds of this crop are commonly consumed in India. Since my childhood I have seen this legume being sprouted at home, cooked with spices and served along with Kadhi, Roti and Steamed Rice. Most Gujarati households prepare the dish in a similar way and they all call it Fangavela Math nu Shaak. However, it can also be made into a yogurt based curry called as khatta math in Gujarati. Matki also serves as one of the chief constituents of Usal, a dish commonly prepared in Maharashtra and Gujarat. 



Matki sprouts are readily available in the market, but it is not a difficult task. You can easily sprout them and other legumes at home. I have another post dedicated to that. Check out this post to see how to sprout pulses the easy way! So to make this dish and sprout them at home, you need to plan it at least three days earlier. Soak and sprout the beans in two or three days, and then finally cook them with all the spices. Though the meal requires planning, it is really tasty and healthy. 



This recipe is a rather simple version of the dish, made in Gujarati style. If you want to modify the recipe to suit your taste and preferences, you can do so. Add some minced garlic if you like the garlic flavor in your food. Skip the onion to make a jain version of the dish. If you like a Maharashtrian touch, do the same thing with a tsp of Goda Masala and some coconut to get the base of Matki Usal. Then top it with Farsan, chopped onions and serve it with pav. It is pretty simple to tweak the recipe a little to get a few more amazing dishes!



Ingredients

Matki 1 cup
Onion 1 medium, diced
Tomato 1 medium, diced
Ginger Paste 2-3 tsp
Curry Leaves 2-3
Green Chili 1 slit
Oil 2 tbsp
Cumin seeds 1 tsp, Mustard seeds 1 tsp, pinch of asafoetida
Red Chili powder 2 tsp, turmeric powder 1 tsp, Dhania Jeera powder 2 tsp
Salt, Lemon Juice
Cilantro



Method

To make matki, soak and make sprouts as explained in this post:Making perfect sprouts each time. Once the sprouts are long enough, remove and wash them. Take a deep microwave safe bowl and add the sprouts in it. In the bowl, add some water (1/4 cup for every 1 cup of sprouts), a pinch of salt and some turmeric powder. Place the bowl in the microwave and cook for 2-3 minutes. Alternatively, cook the sprouts in a pressure cooker for one whistle. Open and set aside.

Heat oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds. Once they pop, add asafoetida and cumin seeds. Next add the curry leaves and ginger paste and green chili. Next add the onions. Saute and cook them till they are soft. Once they are soft, add the tomatoes and mix well.




Once the tomatoes are soft in about 4-5 minutes, add the dhania jeera powder and turmeric powder, salt and red chili powder. Once the masala cooks and the oil separates, add the matki and mix well. Add lemon juice and cilantro and serve with roti, kadhi and steamed rice.




For a collection of other simple yet yummy Indian Entree, Check this out.


Thursday, September 17, 2015

Ganesh Chaturthi Special Recipes

Ganesh Chaturthi is the Hindu festival celebrated in honour of the god Ganesha, the elephant-headed. The festival, also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi, is observed in the Hindu calendar month of Bhaadrapada, starting on the shukla chaturthi. The date usually falls between August and September. The festival usually lasts for 10 days, ending on Anant Chaturdashi.




The modern festival involves installing clay images of Ganesha in public pandals, which are worshipped for ten days. These are immersed at the end of the festival in a body of water such as a lake, along with the idol. In a place like Mumbai, it is a pleasure to watch the immersion process, which sometimes last for hours as the big Ganesha murti makes its way from the pandal to the Arabian Sea! While I am missing all the fun back home, I wanted to make sure I do not miss on all the delicacies. So here is a list of sweets I make to celebrate the festival of Lord Ganesha, one dish per day!!

Click on the name of the recipe or on the picture to read how to make it.


Ricotta cheese and four other ingredients are all you need to make these yummy Kesar Malai Modaks. Totally yummy but so easy to make. And the best part is that they look and taste similar to the modaks from Siddhivinayak!






Celebrate Ganpati with these amazing Churma Ladoos. Believed to be the favorite food of the Elephant God, these ladoos are made from wheat flour, jaggery and ghee. The topping of poppy seeds makes them look totally delectable!




Kaju Katli is easy to make with just 4 ingredients, a couple of optional toppings and 30 minutes of time! Cashew, sugar and ghee (clarified butter) forms the basis of this sweet. Add in some cardamom powder or saffron to enhance the flavor and you may also top it with edible Silver foil (varakh) to enhance it's looks.




These modaks are quick to make and need ingredients found commonly in any pantry. The end result is light pink colored modaks that are totally amazing! Ready in just 10 minutes, these modaks are a sure try!





This recipe is a shortcut on days when you do not have time, but still want to make something yummy for prasad. Jaggery, sesame and ghee is all you need to make these ladoos in no time!




If you are from Mumbai, you cannot not know this sweet. Ice Halwa is not only great to eat but also pretty artistic in form. Thinly sliced pieces of Halva interleaved with parchment paper makes this dish a cute one. And now with this recipe you can make it at home for your family and Bappa.




These sugar-free modaks are made from dry-fruits and has the sweetness from raisins and dates. This sweet can be made in any form, cubes of dates and dry-fruits, balls coated with poppy seeds or like I have done; modaks without a mould!! The recipe is enough to make 20 modaks and is a quick one, taking just about half an hour. 




As the name suggests, this is a shortcut method to make Bengal's famous Rasmalai. It uses one important ingredient, ricotta cheese to substitute the traditional ingredients. Just add sugar to the ricotta and flavor it with cardamom. Bake the discs to form cooked cheese. Boil milk and sugar in a pan, flavor with saffron and dry fruits and drop the ricotta discs in it. Ready for Ganesha!!




Tapioca mixed with milk and saffron is so good. When you make this kheer, you can make it a little thick and serve it in little bite sized containers. Perfect prasad recipe!




This recipe is our very own kheer that is made at home so often, but with a twist. Addition of blueberries makes the kheer flavorful as well as colorful! Yummy kheer that is light violet in color.






Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Churma Ladoo

Tomorrow is Ganesh Chaturthi and all the excitement is building up. Though I am not in the midst of it in Mumbai, friends and family make sure we do not miss anything by sharing enough photos and videos on all possible mediums of communication, Whatsapp, SnapChat, Facebook and Twitter. Technology has made it all so simple, but still we miss the fun back home.



The different sweets made for the Elephant God each day, decorating the Aarti Thali and doing Aarti every evening with friends and neighbors. After ten days of all this comes the day when we used to head out to Juhu Beach to witness the visarjan of all Ganesha idols, big or small. The atmosphere would be filled with a sense of celebration and a little sadness that the festival has ended and Bappa will come back almost a year later. Here in US, we miss out most of these things, but I am glad we have friends who bring home the idol and we all get to celebrate in our own small way. 



Generally on the first day people make Churma Ladoos for Ganesha, as it is believed to be his favorite sweet. Churma is essentially made from wheat flour, adding semolina and/or gram flour is optional. While most people use ladoo aat a or a slightly coarsely ground wheat flour, you can make ladoos out of the regular flour too. The sweetness in the ladoos can be got either from sugar or jaggery, mainly determined by family preferences. I have always had the jaggery ones which my mother and grandmother used to make, so I have used the same. However, if you prefer sugar, you can easily substitute it. Then again, the traditional method is to fry them in ghee, however some people fry it in oil too. I have added nutmeg and cardamom powder to the churma, you can also add dry fruits to it. A final topping of poppy seeds not only enhances the look, but also provides great taste and texture. This recipe is enough to make 15 bite sized ladoos or 8-9 large ones.



Ingredients

Wheat Flour 1 1/2 cups
Semolina/ Rava 1/4 cup
Gram Flour/ Besan 1/4 cup
Oil 2 tbsp
Water 1/2 cup
Jaggery 1/2 cup
Ghee 1/4 cup
Nutmeg a pinch
Cardamom 2-3 pods
Poppy seeds
Ghee/Oil to fry



Method

Put wheat flour, semolina and gram flour in a mixing bowl, add 2 tbsp oil. Using 1/2 cup water knead a dough that is fairly hard. Do not over-knead, just make sure the flours come together. Use some more water if required but do not use too much. Then, using a small portion of the dough, shape it like a muthiya or small logs with your hands. Repeat for the entire dough. I could make about 7-8 small sized muthiya using this proportion.

Next, heat ghee or oil to fry the muthiya. The traditional way is to use ghee, however certain families now use oil too. Once the oil/ghee is medium hot, drop in muthiyas. Fry them on medium heat so that they are cooked thoroughly from inside and do not remain chewy. Once cooked in about 6-7 minutes, remove and drain on kitchen towel. Make pieces out of them and let the pieces cool. 



Once the muthiya are cool, grind them to a fine powder using a food processor. Sieve the powder through a fine sieve and regrind if required. Meanwhile, heat 1/4 cup ghee and once it melts, add the jaggery cut into pieces. Only heat till the jaggery melts and do not over-cook else the ladoos will be chewy. Add powdered cardamom and nutmeg powder to the churma and slowly add in all the ghee jaggery mixture and mix it all together.



Apply little ghee on the palms and shape the mixture to balls. When done, roll it in a small plate of poppy seeds. Alternatively, you can also add poppy seeds to the mixture and roll out the ladoos. Store them in an airtight container and enjoy!





For more recipes to celebrate Ganpati, check these out: Kesar Malai Modak recipe using Ricotta Cheese, Cute Strawberry Coconut Modak or Sugar-free Dry Fruit Modak