Saturday, October 31, 2009

Powdered Gram Festival Prasadam (Chaney Panchakajjaya)

With the onset of month of Shraavanam or Saawan, the pooja's and the rituals begin. I personally love all the festivals and the various celebrations associated with each of them. These are special moments when I really miss home. Mom makes this tasty and simple Chaney Panchakajjaya which is Powdered Gram Festival Prasadam. Recently she made it on Lakshmi Pooja day. Thanks Mom for the lovely picture!

Preparation time ~ 15 minutes
Chana Dal (powdered) - 1 cup
Jaggery (sliced roughly) - 4-6 tablespoons
Black Sesame seeds - 1 tablespoon
Ghee - 2 tablespoon
Cardamom powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Grated Coconut - 6 tablespoons

Heat Jaggery and Ghee in a saucepan and bring to a molten state. Once melted completely, add grated coconut and cardamom powder. Separately, roast Black Sesame seeds and add to the mixture. Mix in the ingredients to form a well collected mixture. Powder the Chana Dal and add to the mixture. Stir well and set to cool. Serves as a tasty Prasadam on festival occasions and important ceremonies.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Potato Bhaaji (Goan-style Batatyachi Paatal Bhaaji)

One dish which I grew up eating and simply love the taste. Potato Bhaaji is a very simple dish yet very tasty suiting the coastal taste buds. You will find this is most of the Goan houses in North Goa - Panjim, Mapusa, Bicholim et al. It goes well with Chapathi or Goan Laadi Pao. It is called Batatyachi Paatal Bhaaji owing to the liquid consistency of the curry, Paatal in Goan Konkani stands for liquid. This dish is available in most of the retaurants in Goa and is a delight to eat owing to the subtle flavours of Potatoes and Tomatoes. One could also garnish with grated coconut, I simply omitted it.

~ Bataatyachi Paatal Bhaaji - Goan style ~
Preparation time ~ 15 minutes minutes
Cooking time ~ 20 minutes

Potatoes (boiled and mashed) - 2 cups
Tomatoes (Chopped, diced and blanched) [optional] - 1 cup
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Urad dal - 1/2 tsp
Green Chillies (chopped) - 2
Grated coconut - 4 teaspoons
Coriander leaves (chopped) - 6-7 sprigs

Heat oil in a deep dish sauce. The pan should be thick bottomed. Once oil heats up, add cumin seeds, they would pop up in size. Saute green chillies, mustard seeds and urad dal. Once they are sauted well, add diced and lightly mashed potatoes. Saute well and add tomatoes. Add enough water to bring about a semi-liquid consistency. Adjust the salt and simmer on a low flame for 10-15 minutes. Once completely cooked, turn off the flame and garnish with coconut (grated) and coriander leaves. Serve hot with Pao, Poori or Chapathi.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Goda Phovu

Goda Phovu - Quite a simple dish prepared at my place for Pooja's and served as a Prasadam. Today is Uttan Duvadashi and a very important day for Hindus. This day is celebrated all through Konkan as Mothi Diwali or Badi Diwali. The hallmark of this day is "Tulsi Pooja" or "Tulsi Lagna". My family has been following the tradition of Tulsi Pooja and we do not perform the Tulsi Lagna. I was also informed that traditionally some families perform Tulsi pooja on any given day during Karthik month as per Hindu calendar. The month of Karthik is supposedly deemed as the holy months and all the days are considered auspicious. In Udupi, there is Laksha Divve program where 100 earthen lamps are illuminated around the premise of Udupi Sri Krishna Temple. It is quite a sight to see and lot of people flock to witness the visual delight.
In Goa, where I used to whole heartedly participate in Tulsi Lagna which means marriage of Tulsi; it was celebrated in quite a different way. The sugarcane is deemed as the Groom and is dug into the Tulsi pot. Alongwith these, Gooseberry (Amla) and Tamarind (Chincha) branches is also dug into the Tulsi plant. The Tulsi plant is decorated with the Rangoli (traditional Indian art of decorative designs hand drawn during festivals). Evening time,the priest visits from door to door to perform the pooja. I used to love going to my friends house for the Pooja, in return we used to get Puffed Rice with Sugarcane pieces and Chocolates as Prasad. We also used to burst crackers and that used to be the end of annual cracker firing process for us. I used to be delighted getting Chocolates as prasadam. Once Pooja is over, we used to be busy getting our hands on Tamarind and Gooseberries the next day around. We used to happily dip them in salt and devour them all till our set of teeth would be pleading and begging to be rescued from the tangy treats.

In my maternal home, the Tulsi pooja has been performed by my father for ages together now. Except for rest of the things which remain the same as a practice, we do not get the groom which is the Sugarcane. Mom makes God Phovu (Poha in molten jaggery) every year which is served as Prasadam to friends and family. Her signature Rangoli is always drawn on the Tulsi Pot which I personally find very cute. Since we have been a mobile family and been all over the place, we always had Tulsi pooja in Pots and never had a stationary Tulsi Katte as some of aunts have.

Preparation time ~ 20 minutes

Poha - 1 cup
Jaggery - 1/2 cup
Black Sesame seeds - 2 teaspoons
Grated coconut (optional) - 2-4 teaspoons
Cardamom powder - 1/3 teaspoon
Water - Just a sprinkle

Melt Jaggery in a saucepan and once in a molten state, add grated coconut. Give a good stir and add slightly roasted Black Sesame seeds (roasted separately in a different pan). Add Poha now and stir well. If the Poha retains its stiffness, sprinkle some water to add softness. Add cardamom powder and serve as a Prasadam during festivals.

Bilimbi Pickle (Bimblaa Nonchey)

Mom makes the best Bilimbi Pickle/ Bimblaa Nonchey which I have ever tasted. Even my friends agree to that and they say that her spice accuracy, taste and aesthetics blend perfectly. I think every kid feels a bit biased or all the more to their Mom's. Mom loves Pickles and feels that its one food item which completes every meal. I cannot agree more with her. She always has a perennial stock of 4-5 types of Pickles pickling in the cosy corner of kitchen at all given times. Primarily, she loves the salty and spicy mesh of flavours. She stores all of them in Porcelain Jars also called as Bharnee. I am a big pickle addict.

We have Bamboo Shoots Pickle (Keerlaa Nonchey), Hog Plums Pickle (Aambadey Nonchey), Lemon Pickle (Limbey Nonchey), Star fruit pickle (Karambala Nonchey), Stuffed Raw Mango Pickle (Bharleley Torachey lonchey -a Goan style pickle), Garlic pickle (Lasuni nonchey - one of my aunties specialties) and Small Mango pickle (Appey Midi Nonchey). Phew! That's quite a big list. Mom makes this special type of pickle powder which is good while travelling abroad as the pickle liquor is powdery and does not ooze out any oil which will mess the clothes/ baggage. Her pickle-packing is so perfect and something which I do not seem to comprehend to this date. The Lime pickle Jar which Mom had packed was perfect and intact with no spillover at all.

I personally love joining anyone to make pickles. Guess, its got more to do with nostalgia because Pickle making is observed as a big ritual in Goa where I grew up. One of our close friends handed over a big batch of Bilimbi to Mom since they knew we all love Pickles. I cannot be less thankful to them for this kind act. There are many styles and versions to this, however my Mom's style is a personal favorite. I like to eat them raw with salt and red chilli powder. Bilimbi is a fruit cum vegetable and originates from Indonesia. It is popularly used as a souring agent for various Konkani dishes like Patrodo, Sukke and Gravy based curries. The tiniest light green variety of Bimbal gives best results. The bigger ones which are more moss green in shade sour very fast owing to which the pickle gets spoilt with a highly fermented flavour. In Udupi, Mangalore you will find this tree in the garden area of many a konkani homes. Curry leaf saplings, Bilimbi saplings and Papaya saplings are quite a common sight.

The best part about this pickle is its quick to make and requires very less pampering. I like dishes which do not require me or anyone slogging in the kitchen for hours together.
Recipe Source ~ Mom
Preparation time ~ 60 minutes including marinade time

Bilimbi (chopped) - 15-20
Red Chillies (Byadgi variety) - 6-10 ~ Tone down should you want the pickle less spicy
Salt - 3-4 teaspoon (approximate)
Methi/ Fenugreek seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
Mustard seeds - 2 teaspoon
Asafoetida - 1/3 teaspoon
Oil - around 2 teaspoon ~ For frying

Wash the Bilimbi thoroughly and clean them with a dry cloth. They should be dry and should not have any moisture on the surface. Chop them into slices and add salt and transfer to a non-reactive glass mixing bowl. Give a good shake and set aside for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, squeeze out the water. This is a very important step in ensuring that the pickle turns out dry and oozes no or minimal liquor.

In a saucepan, heat 2 teaspoon of oil, lightly toast Red Chillies, keep aside. Also roast Methi seeds, mustard seeds and asafoetida powder separately and set aside. Make a powder of all these roasted spices together. Pour this powder on the sliced Bilimbi and give a good stir. Adjust salt as desired. Store in an air tight glass jar for usage within 4-6 days. Store in a cool dry place away from moisture.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Chinese Potato Vegetable Side Dish (Kooka Upkari/ Koorka Upkari/Kookachi Bhaaji)

Kook/ Chinese Potato/ Koorka - One of the very rarely scarcely available vegetables and one of my personal seasonal favorites when it comes to seasonal Konkani preparations. I was unable to find Chinese Potato or Kook in US. Many years later, I found cooked Chinese Potato in the frozen section termed as Chinese Potato. They were nice, quick to cook and tasted good. Chinese Potato or Kook or Koorka as its called in Konkani language is available during particular seasons in coastal regions of Mangalore and Bangalore. Its similar to a root vegetable, blackish like a coal with rootlets and tiny roots attached, needs to be peeled and the black skin has to be removed neatly for the vegetable to be used and cooked.

The cleaning process for the vegetable is very different. The Potatoes are collected in a clean, dry gunny bag/ jute bag and the sides of the bag are enclosed in the hands, you then hit the gunny bag against the floor many a times, till the skin begins coming off on its own. Multiple repetition of this process ensures that the skin comes off; else you rub the jute bag against the surface of the Potato and peel them one by one. So, its quite a painstaking process but quite easy if one is patient enough. Many a times Mom had her entire palm blackened because of peeling requirement. Chinese Potato Upkari is a dish which was cooked and prepared at home from decades since I remember. My Grandmom also called as Ammamma fondly remembers this dish being cooked and prepared at home by her mother and aunts. My Grandma loves Chinese Potato preparations.

Picture of Kook/ Chinese Potato placed on Shiblo - Traditional Eco-friendly Utility Lids made from natural roots, creepers and fibers.

Chinese Potato is extremely good for Diabetes patients and is a also deemed as an important healthy vegetable. It is loved a lot by mom and dad. They love the Upkari version of Kook also called as Kooka Upkari. It is also used at times as an accompanying vegetable for various Ghashi's, Koddel's and Masala based curries. The taste of this vegetable is extremely delicious. It grows underground and requires whole lot of cleaning, peeling and cooking before it can be used. Special thanks to my Mom for providing the recipe and the pictorial. The Chinese Potato or Kook as you see is kept on a popular Konkani household item called Shiblo; Shiblo is a small plate made of natural tree parts, creepers and fibers; It is used for covering dishes and is utilized as a eco-friendly lid in many Konkani homes.

Recipe Source ~ Mom
Preparation time ~ 30 minutes

Chinese Potato (sliced vertically) - 2 cups
Red Chillies (Byadgi variety preferred) - 3-4
Mustard seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
Curry Leaves - 6-7 leaves
Urad Dal - 1/2 teaspoon
Oil - For frying
Green Chillies (sliced) - 2
Salt - As per taste
Oil - For seasoning
Water - For boiling the vegetable
Grated coconut - 1/2 cup

Clean the Potatoes by taking the help of a rough cloth and peeling the skin of all the Potatoes. Sometimes the skin peeling technique leaves the fingers blackened. You could wear kitchen gloves should the need be. Wash them thoroughly in water and slice them vertically. This is a very common practice followed in all Konkani household where I have tasted and sampled this Upkari.

Heat oil in a saucepan, add mustard seeds and once it begins to pop, add the curry leaves and urad dal and red chillies, preferably broken into two pieces each. Give a gentle stir. Add sliced Potato pieces. Adjust salt as desired. Add enough water to completely immerse atleast 3/4th of the exposed area of the pan filled with the vegetable. Bring to boil and simmer on a low flame. Keep stirring in between. Test for doneness by tasting a small piece of it. If its done the vegetable will get evenly mashed and taste like a cooked potato. Turn off the flame after the water has evaporated and the vegetable is completely cooked.

Garnish with Grated coconut and serve hot alongwith Paej (Brown Soupy Rice). This combination is much appreciated and tried in many of my cousins house.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Raw Jackfruit Fries (Saalla Upkari)

There are some dishes which are very authentic Manglorean Konkani. Saalla Upkari is one such dish which is a luxury for me to eat because many a times they get over much before the stipulated time period of consumption. These Fries are very popular in South Canara cooking and owing to abundance of Jackfruit crop which gets harvested in summer, ladies get plenty of opportunities to store the raw jackfruit which are picked from the choicest of trees, treated with a marinade of salt water and stored for monsoon consumption. This is a family favorite dish. It demands lot of work in terms of getting the right Jackfruit for the Fries. During summer, granny used to pick the most raw and tender Jackfruit kernels and marinade them in salt water with sea stones placed as weight on top of the kernels. These marinated Jackfruit kernels are called as Saal in Konkani. They had to be preserved in the salt water marinade for months together and eaten as a Reserve Food during Monsoon. They were stored in Porcelain Jars called as Bharnee in Konkani. Some of my aunts even now have tall porcelain Bharnee at their homes. My granny still has the tall, gigantic looking porcelain jars which she uses to store Raw Mango, Raw Jackfruit, Raw Paasphanas in salt water.

It takes me back to old stories which Grandma recited wherein during olden days, people did not have enough access to vegetables and groceries during rainy season. The best way to have reserve food and produce was begin the stock in summer. After nearly 3-6 months of marinade, the Jackfruit kernels are ready to be eaten. Mom had a small batch of Saal which she used to make Upkari recently. The kernels have to be evenly coated with red chilli powder. This recipe is not for the faint hearted and can be little bit spicy but very very tasty. I thought of posting them immediately lest they remain to be a royal dish and long forgotten one for the posterity.

Recipe Source ~ Mom
Preparation time ~ 30 minutes

Raw Jackfruit - 2 cups
Water - 1/2 cup
Red Chilli powder - 1 teaspoon
Turmeric powder - 1/4 teaspoon
Mustard seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
Coconut Oil - For frying
Asafoetida - 1/4 teaspoon
Salt - As per taste

Pick 2 cups of Raw Jackfruit from the stock and wash them thoroughly in water till the salty taste evades completely or is less in the jackfruit kernels. Sometimes, its better to soak them in water for an hour before they are ready to be cooked. Slice them if required or keep them even as they were when they were in the marinade.

Heat oil in a deep dish pan, season with mustard seeds, curry leaves and asafoetida. Add the sliced Jackfruit kernels and add red chilli powder, turmeric powder and salt. Give a gentle stir, add enough water for cooking purpose (almost 1/2 cup for 2 cups of Jackfruit) and cover with a lid and allow to simmer. Once water evaporates, stir well and serve hot with Rice and Daali Thoi.
Suggestions: If the Jackfruit kernels are on the firmer side, add more water while cooking. If the kernels are soft, then add less water, cooking time is less for these. If they are overcooked they would turn soggy and lose their flavour.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Plain Poha (Kaalayiley Phovu)

Poha or Beaten Rice is one of my favorites for breakfast. Any form of Poha be it Poha with Potatoes (Batata Poha), Poha with spice powder or plain (Kalayiley Phovu and Phova Chutney), Poha Chivdaa, Poha with Onions (Kanda Pohey) . I am a big fan of this. Sometimes as a kid my Mom used to wonder how come I love Poha so much. I can have simple plain poha 365 days without complaining.

The simplest version of this - Plain Poha or Kaalayiley Phovu is my favorite breakfast item of Poha. Its easy, can be made in 10 minutes flat if your kitchen is well stocked. The term Kaalayiley in Konkani stands for Mixing hence Kaalayiley Phovu. The dish is very healthy. It finds prominence in many Konkani weddings, social events, functions et al. It is an important "Taanni" or Tiffin item amongst Konkanis. There are many versions to Poha - this one being the simplest and easiest of all of them.

Recipe Source ~ Mom
Preparation time ~ 10 minutes

Poha or Beaten Rice/ Flattened Rice - 1 cup
Grated Coconut - 1/2 cup
Coconut pieces - 2 teaspoon
Green Chillies - 1 (chopped)
Asafoetida - Just a sprinkle
Water - For mixing
Salt - As per taste

Crush together green chillies, salt, coconut pieces and grated coconut in a mixing bowl. Add Poha and water and mix well. The more mixed and soaked the Poha the better tasting is the Kalayiley Poha. Mix Asafoetida in water and pour over the Poha and mix in again. Check for taste. The taste of this Poha is very salty and sugary - that's the way its prepared at my home in Udupi.

Suggestions: Try and use fresh coconut, the fresher the coconut the better tasting the Poha. The Poha should be soaked in water yet need not be watery. Use your judgement since if the Poha is raw it renders a very raw flavour to the whole dish.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Homemade Stovetop Popcorn

I am huge fan of Popcorn and so is my hubby dear; No movie watching so to say is complete without a bag full of Popcorn. No Cola for me. I made a firm decision to reduce or not have Cola since October 2007 and so far have been able to stick to my resolution. I will take occasional sips and say I am done - Enough reminder politely to myself. Some changes which we make early in our life in terms of dietary patterns and eating habits pave the way to a healthy, fulfilled life and metabolism in the long run.

Instead of buying In-Bag-Popcorn which can be popped in the microwave I thought I would make my own. I used to be the "Popping Chef" of my house. Mom and Dad absolutely adore my Popcorns. Come to think of it I got them into the habit of watching movies and compulsorily munching mouthful of Popcorn. Mom and Dad even to this date secretly love this habit of mine and are my ardent Popcorn partners. The Popcorn-in-Bag which I got in India, be it American Garden or the simple ones from Food World, Kirana stores were all packed with oodles and oodles of margarine. I quickly googled for some quick tips and started popping my own golden corns. From then on to years later now, its such a delight to hear the pop-pop sound in the Pasta Pot and the bright glowing corn goodies staring at your face.

Serves ~ 2 individuals
Preparation time ~ 20 minutes

Corn seeds ~ 3/4th cup
Turmeric powder - 1/3 teaspoon
Red Chilli powder - 1/4 teaspoon
Salt - As per taste
Butter (salted) - 1/4th butter stick or 3-4 tablespoons or equivalent cooking oil

Heat a Pasta Pot or any other deep dish pot, melt some butter or cooking oil as specified or as per taste. The deeper and thick bottomed the pan, the better. This also gives enough surface area for the Popcorns to pop around freely. Once butter melts, add the corn seeds, turmeric powder and salt. Stir well so that spices get a good mix. Once they begin to pop, cover with a lid with just enough space for the steam to escape. This will also ensure that the corns don't turn soggy with steam particles. Allow to cool for around 30 seconds. Munch in mouthful of this less-buttery goody!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Basundi ~ A South Indian Sweetened Milk Dessert

I first sampled this tasty, sinfully rich and aromatic sweet dish at Adyaar Anand Bhavan, Bangalore. They serve cups of chilled Basundi which you can keep drinking with a light crunch of nuts, saffron and cardamom. You will still yearn for more!

Basundi is a sweetened milk dessert popular in Marathi homes. One of our close family friends from Pune used to make it for Diwali every year. She told me that the best way to judge if Basundi is done is simply smell the aroma in your house. The milky flavour would be wafting through all over.

My Mom's version is fairly the old-fashioned one where the milk has to be reduced to 1/2 the quantity with constant stirring and some more of it and some more of it till you feel its halved. Add sugar, stir for some more time, add condensed milk (Milk-Maid preferred), stir in for some more time till you feel its reached the perfect thickened consistency. Add Split Badam, Cardamom and Saffron strands. Cool down and set in the fridge for 3-5 hours. Your Basundi is all set to be sipped away dunked in fluffy Pooris, they taste all the more better. Infact some of my friends do not prefer eating Basundi without Pooris.

My version was simple, I was frugal with sugar to be added, so decided to omit the Condensed milk, because more often than not its sweetened. If you do not have Evaporated milk, just boil 3-4 cups of milk to the half the consistency, add Malai for thickening. During the days when Milk Maid was not accessible, Mom used to make use of Malai readily available in the kitchen pantry. I went ahead with a simple recipe of Milk + Evaporated Milk + Cardamom + Sugar + MTR Badam Powder + Split Almonds. Serve chilled. You will for sure enjoy the taste of this sinfully rich dessert!

Serves ~ 3-4 individuals
Preparation time ~ 45 minutes

Homogenised milk (Vitamin D variety) - 2 cups
Evaporated milk - 1 can ~ Approx. 1 cup
Sugar - 10 teaspoons
Split Almonds - 10
Cardamom powder - 5 pods
MTR Badam Mix - 2 teaspoons

Take a thick bottomed deep dish pan, the deeper and thicker the better. I used a non-stick since I wanted to avoid situations where the milk sticks to the bottom of the pan. Heat Homogenised milk and Evaporated milk together. Stir continuously on medium to low flame. Add sugar once milk comes to boil. Add Badam mix powder and stir well. Scrape off the sides of any milky particles sticking to the container. They add the much required zing to the dish. Once reduced to half of the original quantity, stir for another 5 minutes and turn off the flame. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with Silvered Almonds and Cardamom powder.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Farmers Market: At Broadway - New York

I have always had an ongoing fascination with the Farmers Market here in US. Some months ago during our trip to New York, I was wandering around the town exploring the local scene, trying to capture the glitz and glamorous spirit and much talked about diversity of the most beautiful city in the world - New York. Lucky me, I found the pictures as well in my folder. The city has something special I must say!
This Market place caught my fascination - the Farmers Market located near Broadway and Wall Street. Its a tiny strip perched right opposite to famous Broadway Cube. You would spot lot of folks selling their local produce straight from the Farm. I love to shop for groceries and vegetables from the Farmers market. There is one near our house where I shop from, for the most sturdy Zucchini, the cutest chubby Banana Pepper, the freshest crunchiest Lettuce. You can spot some cute salad items, fruits of many many varieties and freshest of Radishes and Celery.
Ahhh! The sight, smell, sounds take me back to the much hyped and famous Mapusa Friday Market of Mapusa, Goa. Mapusa Market is held every Friday from morning 10:00 a.m onwards. I used to always go shopping for clothes, junk jewellery and other knick-knacks on Friday because the catch is quite a big one! You will find the most authetic stuff be it Leather jackets, Earthenware diyas, pots, pans, anklets. Fish and Seafood of different sizes and shapes, local Pao, Kaaknaa (a bread with the shape of a Bangle, kaakan is Goan konkani term for Bangle), Polee or Pui (a bread with an oval shape) and Katree (a type of Pao which has the shape of Scissors hence called Katree in Goan Konkani). I found a wonderful narrative on Mapusa Friday Market on Soul Cocina's blog. The pictures are a sheer treat for the eyes. In Goan Konkani, its known as Baazaar, a place where folks come to trade, sell and buy different goods and produce.
I shopped for some vegetables (Can you believe now how excited I was??). I bought 1 pound of Farm Red Onions, 1 Beets on the leaves, 2 Pears and 2 Sansa Red Apples. All for.....guess the price? A motley sum of $5.00! If only I stayed closer to NY or in NY, I would have shopped for days together at the Farmers Market. Economical, Closer to Organic fresh variety and its delight to see the smile on the faces of the Farmers selling their wares. Reminds me of Citibank Credit card ad. Priceless!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Urad Daal Vadaa (Biskut Aambado)

Biscut Aambado is a popular Konkani snack cum breakfast item. Its is lavishly prepared during weddings, pooja ceremonies, birthdays and marks the sign of celebration in my home. Biscut Aambado is my father's favorite. He can simply give in to multiple helpings of this dish and yet be not too satisfied. It has the shape which is usually round hence Aambado and is crispy like a Biscuit, but its pronounced as Biscut Aambado (Bis-kuut - Aam-bado). Served with chutney, these Vaadas should be consumed hot and straight from the stove. Mom makes amazing Vadaa and I love sitting next to the stove and consuming them one by one. Her crust is very crispy with a crunchy feel to it and the core is extremely soft and well cooked always.

Manglorean Konkani Biscut Aambado is very similar to Uddin Vada or Medu Vada. My Mumbai friend used to call it as Medu Vadaa and my friend from Bangalore and Chennai would address as Uddin Vadai. At one time I got confused with all the fancy nomenclature, later was ushered into the facts by my Mom. Mom's seem to have all the answers, don't they? My Pacchi (aunty in Konkani language) asked me to do it like a doughnut (with a hole in the centre); I was too happy to make it my way because the doughnut shape requires skill and a dextrous hand; leave it if its a doughnutty-shaped or simple round, albeit closer to it, I am happy as long as its good and crispy. Udupi's Mitra Samaj - a nice restaurant based out of Udupi serving authetic Konkani South Canara snacks sells one of the most delicious Aambado's I have ever eaten. I found one nice article on Outlook India describing the tasty treats of Mitra Samaj, please click here to read it. They are also famous for their Goli Bajey - a konkani snack made of refined flour, gram flour and green chillies.

Preparation Time ~ 30 minutes
Serves ~ 20-25 Aambado (small sized)

Urad Dal (Whole white Urad Daal, without skin) - 1 cup
Green Chillies - 2 (chopped)
Grated coconut - 2-4 teaspoons
Coconut meat pieces (called as Kaatley in Konkani) - 2 teaspoons
Curry leaves (chopped) - 4-6
Ginger (minced) - 1 teaspoon
Salt - As per taste
Oil - For frying

Soak Urad daal in water after multiple wash for 3-4 hours. Grind to a paste with very less water or no water (as desired). I added few tablespoons of water for grinding consistency. The paste should be thick and not runny. Add minced ginger, coconut both grated and pieces, curry leaves, green chillies and salt.
Heat oil in a thick bottomed pan. Check for heat by frying a small ball of dough first. If done, then pour ping-pong ball sized scoops of the mixture one by one. Transfer off heat to a paper towel once they are golden brown and have a crispy shell and a cooked core. Serve with chutney of your choice.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Ragda Patties ~ A Mumbai Street Food: Potato Patty in Spiced Soupy Curry

Ragda Patties is a favorite amongst most of my family members. Although I must admit I learnt making all the chaats, pani-puris very recently. Mom knows that I love Chaat and Street Food. She learnt this from a Mumbai based friend of hers. Her recipe is very much detailed, covers all the tastes and flavours and has some modification made to suit our tastes. She also replaced Vataana curry or White Vataana curry with Northern Beans or Tingalore curry seasoned with garlic. Mine is fairly simple and I tailor made this recipe to suit my palate and pantry.

Mom makes Ragda Patties which comprises of Ragda which she makes out of Northern Beans also called as Tingalore Thoi in Konkani. The Pattice is the usual Potato, boiled and minced to form a Patty shaped and seasoned with Cumin seeds. She makes Red Chutney, which is chutney made of Garlic, Red Chillies, Coconut shavings, Tamarind and salt. Her Green Chutney, was very similar to Thecha (a chutney made with kitchen handy herbs, stored in fridge for usage suited for a week's cooking), which she used to make and preserve in the fridge for a week or so. Thecha is a ground paste made of green chillies, coriander leaves, garlic, ginger and salt. She learnt making Thecha from one of our Mumbai based friends who was a pro in terms of Mumbai style Marathi cooking. Mom used to add a spoon of Thecha to any curry, bhaaji or pulao's for the extra zing and flavour. Last was the Brown chutney made of Dates and Tamarind. Add some zero number "Sev" on top of it. I do not the reason but this type of Sev gives much better flavour than any other Sev. This Sev is available in India at Farsaan stores or Mithai shops. Some chaat masala, a dash of lime juice, sprinkle some finely chopped onions and cilantro and you are set to eat the most mix-and-match flavoured chaat of Mumbai.

My favorite Chaat waala, the cart street vendor in Goa was with the name Kanhayaa Laalji; Kanhayaa Ji knew my taste so well that he used to always add "zyaada" Teekhi chutney, "medium" Meethi chutney, "kam" Haree chutney. No one can match his accuracy and precision when it comes to various Chaats.

My approach was very simple:
Ragda: Mashed Vataana curry seasoned with spice powders and tangy elements
Patties: Potatoes boiled and mashed with turmeric and salt; seasoned with Cumin seeds.
Meethi Chutney: Sweet chutney, I had a store bought jar pleading to be used. Its made of Tamarind, Date and Cumin eeds.
Garnishing: Chaat Masala, finely chopped onions and cilantro.

Happy Karva Chauth to all my friends! I fasted and then feasted away to glory with some gifts added to my kitty! In North India, Aloo Tikki is a popular item on Karva Chauth day. So I added some zing to it to make Ragada Patties in a true blue Mumbai style!!

Recipe has been tailor made from my Mom's recipe.
Serves ~ 2 individuals
Preparation time ~ 1 hour

For Potato Patties -
Potatoes - 3 large ones
Cornflour - 1 teaspoon
Cumin seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
Turmeric powder - 2 pinches
Oil - For frying

For Ragda : White Vataana curry -
Vataana ~ Whole Yellow Peas - 1 cup (boiled and mashed)
Cumin powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Coriander powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Red chilli powder - 1/4 teaspoon
Tamarind juice - 3 tablespoon
Jaggery - 1 teaspoon

For Meethi Chutney -
Date (soaked in warm water) - 6-8
Tamarind (soaked in warm water) - 2 teaspoon lumps
Cumin seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
Note: Grind the above to a fine paste with little or no water.

For Garnishing -
Chaat Masala - 1/3 teaspoon
Finely chopped Onions - 4 teaspoon
Finely chopped Cilantro - 2 teaspoon
Zero number "Sev" (optional) - 2-3 tablespoon
Yogurt (optional) - 1 tablespoon

For the Patties, make lesser than palm sized Patties out of Boiled Potatoes, Corn flour, Turmeric powder, Cumin seeds mashed together and pan-fried in oil till get a brown crispy core on either sides.

For the Ragda curry, boil and mash Vataana lightly. Bring to boil on a stove. Add all the spice powders and jaggery. Stir well. Adjust the salt and spice. Bring to boil and set aside.

While serving, place couple of Patties, pour a ladel full of curry on top of it. Add the Mithi chutney. Garnish with onions and cilantro. Sprinkle some chaat masala and you are set.

Suggestions: The curry and patties should be piping hot for this street food to be enjoyed. You could also add Green and Red chutney for additional flavour. Sometimes bread is combined with the Poatoes for additional binding. I simply chose to use Potatoes instead.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Masoor Daal in Cumin (Masoorichey Varan)

I have to confess I have never eaten split Red Lentils before. Sounds very odd, but for some reasons were never cooked in my house. I still fail to understand why. After coming here, one day I was touring through the Indian Grocery section and found a bunch of Lentils which I've never eaten before. I decided to buy this and make Masoorichey Varan (based on Shilpa's Recipe of Aayisrecipes fame). The taste was simply awesome. My Pune friend's Mom always says that Lentils taste good when they are Pahilyaa Vaafechey which means from the first steam. I just followed this adage and after the first steam in pressure cooker I put it off. Red Lentils cook in 10-12 minutes flat with pressure.
There is something about Varan Bhaat that is so soulful. You can keep enjoying the bites and every morsel of your food and be dwelling in the taste.
We both loved the flavour of this dish and taste was awesome. P relished the Daal and he could not believe his eyes as it looked very similar to Toor Daal. Lime adds that extra dash which you would want for your Varan.
Thanks Shilpa - The taste was awesome and just like Marathi Varan Bhaat. We all loved the flavour!
Varan Bhaat, Tupp, Limbu = I am elevated to cloud nine.

Recipe Source ~ Shilpa of Aayisrecipes
Preparation time ~ 20 minutes

Red Lentils (Red colored, skinless, hulled split lentils) - 1 cup
Green Chillies (sliced) - 2
Turmeric powder - Just a pinch
Cumin seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
Ghee/Unsalted butter - As per taste
Pepper powder - 1/3 teaspoon
Water - For Boiling consistency
Salt - As per taste
Lime Juice - 2 tablespoons

Boil the Daal after multiple rounds of wash for 10 minutes or till first whistle. Take off the stove, add little water and bring to boil. Add salt, turmeric powder and pepper powder. Bring to boil and check if its properly cooked and not raw. Give a gentle stir. The Daal will be thick and not too watery in consistency. Pour a seasoning of cumin seeds popped in ghee. Serve hot with lime juice and devour this heavenly tasting Daal.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Potato Fritters (Batatyaa Phodi/ Batatyachi Kaapaa)

This is a staple dish in Goa, India especially during the days when Vegetarian food is eaten which is Monday and Thursday. I have grown up eating this delightful spiced up Fritters. They are thin, crispy Potato Fritters fried to perfection in Rice powder, spices and oil. The vegetarian meal is called as Shivraag in my home. Non-Vegetarian meal is called as Bhairaag. Many of my Goan friends used to sigh on Mondays, it implies that they get to eat only vegetarian food that day. My dear friend N, used to sulk and say, "Ash - Its Varan Bhaat and Batatyachi Kaapa today". I used to giggle at her attachment to Fish and Seafood dishes.
There are few details about Goan meals which I wish to highlight. My neighbour whom we used to call as Bhaabhi used to cook greens like Drumstick leaves Bhaaji, Radish leaves Bhaaji, Sol Kadi, Varan, Ambadhyachee Udda Methi, Chavalichi Bhaaji on Mondays and Thursdays. I owe a lot of cooking and learning from Goa region to Bhaabhi who used to feed us with all sumptuous Goan meals and practices. Another observation is that she used to always offer warm water during Vegetarian meals. I used to find this amusing. Upon further research I began to understand that warm water supports digestion while eating food unlike cold water which converts the food into slush and is extremely bad for the stomach gut and lining as well for the whole digestive system. She also taught my mother this quintessenial Goan way of making fritters called Batatyachi Kaapa.

I loved this dish so much, that I told Mom to make it at our place. The peculiar thing is the manner in which the Potato is sliced which is vertical slices not more than 3-4 mm thick. From that day onwards, all our meals with Potato fried were Batatyachi Kaapa styled.

Serves ~ 2 individuals
Preparation time ~ 30 minutes

Potato slices - 6-10
Rice Flour - 4-5 tablespoons
Red Chilli powder - 1/3 teaspoon
Turmeric powder - 1/5 teaspoon
Oil - For frying
Salt - As per taste


Slice 2 Potatoes and wash them in water for few minutes till the starch completely goes off. Drain off water, apply the marinade of salt and turmeric powder. Keep aside.

Roll the florets into Rice flour and Red Chilli powder mixture. Shallow fry in a deep dish frying pan, turn them over after they get fried on one side. Sprinkle water and cover with a lid. This ensures they get cooked appropriately. Turn off the flame once they are evenly fried and crispy, golden colored. Serve hot with Rice and Curry.

Cauliflower Fritters (Floweraa Phodi)

I have a fetish for Fried Food/ Phodi and I do not want to live in denial. Of late, from deep fried I have switched to Pan-Fried for health reasons hence Floweraa Phodi or Cauliflower Fritters for one such lunch menu which has been consciously thought of (trying for some weight loss and low calorie food). They are simple, nice and tasty. Do not consumer oil as much as Deep Fried goodies do. In Goa, we used to get plenty of fresh Cauliflower straight from the Farm. From there began my love affair with farm fresh vegetables, greens and root produce. Goa is blessed with plenty of farm area, beaches, unexploited virgin territories. Out local Milkman also owned one and some of my neighbours too owned. They call it Bhaat in Goan Konkani language. It was a thing of pride to share the local produce you get from your Bhaat with your friends and family. Sometimes we had huge batch of Coconuts, Cashews, Hogplums, Colocasia leaves dropped by our friends. It was such a delight to eat those because they are fresh from farm, organically treated and have a longer shelf life.

Once, our Milkman dropped a huge Cauliflower (yes, he is a pro owning Tractors, Gobar Gas plant, we visited his village when we were kids to see his plant). Anyways, coming back - Mom made Cauliflower Phodi out of it. Ever since that day, I have become a big fan of this Phodi. Her approach is little different because Cauliflower is a hard vegetable and it takes time to cook. She treats this vegetable differently.

Serves ~ 2 individuals
Preparation time ~ 30 minutes

Cauliflower florets - 6-10
Rice Flour - 4-5 tablespoons
Red Chilli powder - 1/3 teaspoon
Turmeric powder - 1/5 teaspoon
Oil - For frying
Salt - As per taste
Water - For parboiling Cauliflower.

Chop a large head of Flower into ledium sized florets. Parboil them in hit water for 15 minutes. Drain off water, apply the marinade of salt and turmeric powder. Keep aside.

Roll the florets into Rice flour and Red Chilli powder mixture. Shallow fry in a deep dish frying pan, turn them over after they get fried on one side. Sprinkle water and cover with a lid. This ensures they get cooked appropriately. Turn off the flame once they are evenly fried and cripsy, golden colored. Serve hot with Rice and Curry.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

New York Kati Roll Company: A Narrative

Any time we embark on a travel journey, the first thing I fancy about is what will I be eating? It took me a while to accept that being in a different country, I will not be at the liberty of sampling food which have a home style flavour. However after some time now; albeit after a long hiatus of cribs, acceptance and complaints I have become more open-minded to world cuisines and look to sample all of them. I enjoy Spanish Tapas, Mexican Qesadillas, Turkish Dolmas, Japanese Sushi and Kimchi sauce, New York Falafel Sandwiches, Chinese Bubble Tea with the same passion and zest as I love food from Konkan and other regional geographies of India. I think we all take our time and space to adapt to a new a new environment and dwell into the quagmires of the pleasure and displeasures it brings along.

Apart from Konkani, another regional cuisine which I have been fascinated with is Bengali cuisine. The dominant reason being the ample doses of stories about Bengal which I have been fed upon by my father since I was toddler barely learning the ABC's. My father holds a philosophy which is so dear to his heart and I feel a strong desire to relinquish and demystify it on this blog. He always felt and still feels that Konkanis have a closer association with Bengal region because we had our habitat on the banks of Saraswati river in Bengal region. Later owing to migration, all Konkanis migrated to the Konkan region now. Quite ironical though some of closest friends are from Bengal region. I also found quite a lot of similarities between lot of Konkani and Bengali dishes. Begun ar Karela Bhaaja, Shukto, Paanta Bhaat, Aam Tok, Aloo Chorchori, Payesh to name a few.

I am also quite to open to experimenting now and like to sample and relish cuisines from different regions without any bias of taste. I was citing once to P that I am big fan of Kati Rolls and want to try and make it some day. He informed me about this quaint place in Greenwich village (Near McDougal street), New York called The Kati Roll Company. You can also check their site here. Most of our friends love this place and they say that this comes closes to Indian flavours and I think I agree with that. When we visited this place last time around, I was simply blown over by the taste of their rolls. Simple. Tasty. Biteful of flavours. One of its kind.

The place welcomes you with an array of Posters from Bollywood. I clicked some snaps and posting them without permission (the flash plonked on couple of pictures, forgot to turn off the flash - you see my food was inviting me and I was greedy, but is still worth a post and all that I have). What caught my eye was their unique menu. Its funny and creative come to think of it. The place is run by Bengali speaking individuals and you can get your Kati custom made to suit your taste buds. I sampled Egg Roll and Paneer Roll. Though I must say I prefer their Egg rolls and Paneer rolls to Chicken and Shaami rolls. The taste was nice, cheesy, well cooked roti and the succulent filling added to the charm (I took a bite from P's). We both loved the place. Its quite close to New York University owing to which the place attracts lot of student population as well.

One gets a very nostalgic feel when you sit on the sturdy wooden bench, admire the Bollywood poster and Shammi Kapoor smiling at you at Kati Roll Company. What better ending than a happy tummy and mouthful of Indian flavours.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Potato and Soya Curry

Simple curry - quick and fast. No pampering, easy, jhat-phat as they say! I liked these kind of dishes specially on those days when you can hear the rats, mouse growling in your stomach and you need a meal RIGHT NOW! This dish as a good dose of Carbs and Protein.

Recipe Source ~ My Kitchen Experiments
Serves ~ 2-4 individuals
Preparation time ~ 45 minutes

Potatoes (Boiled) - 3
Soya Chunks - 1 cup
Coconut (grated) or Coconut powder - 1/2 cup
Turmeric powder - 1/4 teaspoon
Garlic (crushed thoroughly) - 2-3
Ghee - 2 teaspoons
Cumin powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Coriander powder - 1 teaspoon
Salt - As per taste
Water - For curry consistency

Boil the Potatoes in microwave and keep aside (place them on a micro friendly plate with few spoons of water and run on high for 3-4 minutes). Boil soya chunks and keep aside. Heat ghee in a cooking pan, fry Potato chunks and add garlic. Saute till both get slight brownish tinge. Add soya chunks, turmeric powder, cumin powder and coriander powder. Fry the masala's well or else they would offer a raw flavour. Once fried for 5 minutes add water and bring about to a curry consistency. Add coconut powder and give a gentle stir. Adjust taste and water. Bring to boil. Simmer on low flame for 10 minutes. Turn off the flame. Serve hot with Rotis or Rice.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Fengreek Leaves Rice (Methi Rice)

Methi Rice is one of Mom's special Rice-based dish which I relish a lot. She gives a new twist to this dish by adding Garlic and Cumin seeds as a seasoning which allows the bitter taste of Fenugreek leaves to mingle with the sharp and Garlic-y flavour of Garlic flakes. Final closing would be Red Chillies of Byadgi variety which is very pleasing. This Rice item suits great for Lunch boxes. I used to carry this in my Lunchbox to workplace and my colleagues would love the aroma of Rice with Methi leaves.

Recipe Source: Mom
Serves: 2 individuals
Preparation time: 30 minutes

Fenugreek leaves (chopped) - 1/2 cup
Rice (pre-cooked) - 2 cups
Garlic flakes (crushed) - 4-6
Cumin seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
Red Chillies (Byadgi variety) - 2
Turmeric powder - 1/4 teaspoon
Salt - As per taste
Oil/Ghee - For frying

Heat Ghee in a deep dish saucepan. Once the ghee melts, add Cumin seeds and Garlic flakes. The seeds will pop up and garlic would get a charred look, add the red chillies and saute well. Add Methi leaves and saute till they wilt and reduce in size. Add turmeric powder and salt. Give a gentle stir. Add Rice and toss well. Once rice is added do not stir too frequently as this would lead to lumps and soggy rice. Once tossed, simmer on low flame for 5 minutes and turn off flame. Serve hot with pickle.

Suggestion: Rice from previous day suits best for this dish as its grainy and has less moisture. Be careful with Methi leaves quantity, if its less the taste is not profound, if its more its offers a bitter taste.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Ripe Banana Fritters (Nendra Baaley Phodi)

In Udupi, we get a certain type of Banana called Nendra Baaley (its a term in Kannada language for the Banana) or Moirachi Keli or Maidyachi Keli (Goan Konkani: These Bananas believed to originate and harvested from a small village named Moira in Goa). Baaley Kai or Baaley Hannu in Kannada language means Banana. I do not know what Nendra stands for (need to ask my rescue line: 1-800-MOTHER, if anyone knows the meaning kindly enlighten). I found a tall one at a local grocery store in US for a petty buy. They taste extremely delicious and are very nutritious, filling for a medium heavy breakfast.

These Bananas taste good and are a good fit for Fritters. They were one of the regular delicacies made at home for breakfast. Breakfast? Yes; Funny isn't it? When I made these Fritters, P raised his eyebrows in amusement. I also recalled having sampled these as a kid at couple of restaurants in Calangute Beach and Baga Beach, Goa. For me it was a heavenly feeling! How can a dish be sweet and salty yet taste so delicious? I used to wonder. Coming back , this Banana is a local delicacy in Goa. As kids, we gorged on these Fritters. My cousins in Goa used to prepare the Fritters for festivals and important celebrations in the family. The Banana is tall, yellowish-black tinge and one Banana can easily suffice for a breakfast for 2 people (will get a picture next time around). The first look at these Bananas you would feel they are overripe, but trust me they are not. The more ripe they go in your rack, the better tasting are the Fritters.

I specially like these Fritters because the sweet flavour of Banana blend with the spices well and take the flavour to a whole new level. It was an easy breakfast snack for me while in school because I used to hate munching early in the morning for hours together. Fritters are a quickie. Plus as a kid I relished the marriage of sweet with spice, something which I cannot withstand now after many years. I fried them in salted butter as the aroma turns unique and savoury.

Recipe Source ~ Mom
Serves ~ 2 individuals

Tall Green-Yellow Overripe Plaintain (Nendra variety or Moira Keli variety) - 1
Red Chilli powder - 1/3 teaspoon
Turmeric powder - Just a sprinkle
Rice Flour powder (coarse) - 3-4 tablespoon ~ Wash rice, dry and grind to a powder
Salt - As per taste
Ghee/ Butter (salted) - For frying

Peel the Banana and chop them into 2" pieces, apply salt, turmeric powder and red chilli powder and keep aside. In a deep dish thick saucepan, heat ghee/butter and allow to melt. The butter should be just enough for the Fritters to fry and not swim.

Roll each Banana piece in Rice Flour and pan-fry on both sides for 20 minutes. Once done you will see that they get sort of charred and browned on both sides. Serve hot with coffee/tea.

Suggestion: Do not use oil for frying as it interferes with the taste of Banana. Use Ghee/ Butter (salted) as it gives good aroma and makes the Fritters more flavourful.