Thursday, April 28, 2011

Set Dosa (Mushti Polo) - 2.0

I had earlier blogged about Set Dosa, also known as Mushti Polo in Konkani. In GSB Konkani, the traditional serving is although not done in sets of three. Set Dosa is served in Bangalore road side stand-up eateries in set of three with Potato Palya and chutney of choice. The logic for Mushti Dosa was for the prefixed quantity of Rice, a mushti of Urad Dal should be added; mushti in Konkani implies a closed fist hence the name Mushti Polo.

Recently, Mom made an easier version and was pleased as the previous Dosa recipe was modified a bit with less ingredients. I was curious to try, luckily with warm weather prevailing, fermentation problem was solved with plenty of wild yeast in the air owing to summer slowly ushering in. I loved this version and is less painstaking compared to the previous one I had posted. Do attempt only if the weather is warm enough, else you will have to try induced fermentation (with Eno salt or Soda). I am not a big fan of the induced fermentation (unless no choice), so prefer to take advantage of warm sunny days to making piping hot Dosa.

Soaking time: 10 hours (overnight soak)
Fermentation time: 8-10 hours
Cooking time: 3-5 minutes

Rice (Parboiled rice + Sona Masoori) - 1:1 ratio - 2 cups
Urad Dal - 1/4 cup
Methi seeds - 1 teaspoon
Grated coconut (fresh or frozen but thawed) - 3-4 tablespoon
Oil/ Ghee

Soak Rice, Urad Dal and Methi seeds after multiple wash in filtered water. Soak for overnight time which is good 10 hours. Next day morning, when its warm and sunny, grind the batter to a smooth paste of Dosa consistency along with grated coconut. Adjust salt as per taste. Pre-heat oven to around 250 F. Once relatively cool, place the batter container for fermentation with the oven light on. After every five hours, give the batter a good beat with hands, the logic being warmth from hands transfers the heat to the dosa and is the onset for fermentation process. By evening or night, the batter should get fermented. Once done, immediately transfer to fridge and cover with a lid.
Use the batter for next day's breakfast/ lunch or dinner. Take a ladle full of batter, spread on a hot griddle. For Set Dosa, the size is that of a Surnoli, which is larger than a pancake but smaller than a regular Dosa. Drizzle oil/ ghee on all sides if desired, else if using non-stick griddle, oil can be skipped. Do not flip over the Dosa. Slowly, honey comb like structure would form on the exposed side of Dosa. Once edges are brown, serve the Dosa with chutney or Pitti chutney.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Pani Puri ~ The Pop Indian Sreet Food

If there is a competition to eat Pani Puri, I am confident I would beat any of of the self assured obliging contenders! So powerful is the love which permeates beyond words, expressions and emotions. Pani-Puri is the popular Indian street food. This spicy, tangy treat is known as Golguppe in Hindi, Pucchka in Bengali. The taste and flavour vary in heat, tang-ness as one moves to different parts of India. There are also some popular chaat vendors which get outrageous number of visitors not because of the jazzy names and showy seating areas which they promise, but purely for the taste which no other vendor can neither promise nor deliver. Some really famous ones which I can say I have proudly visited are - Elco Arcade, Bandra - Mumbai and Madhavan Park, Jayanagar - Bangalore. The one in Elco Arcade also serves Pani Puri with mineral water on demand to serve the taste buds of noveau rich and hygiene conscious crowd.

The "Puri" in question here is the humble spherical delicate pastry spheres made of Semolina and Flour. The "Pani" which is spicy, tangy and sweet water concocted with various herbs and condiments only to compel you to beg for more of this great street food. One look at any Chaat cart would compel you to retrace your steps back home, but hold on! That's the beauty of Chaat! You got to eat the flour shells filled with tangy syrup right from the Chaat cart, these tiny speherical Puris get stuffed one by one with boiled Mung, spices Potato bits, yoghurt for that extra kick of tang, Sev to add the extra crisp. After all the additions of various knick-knacks, the Chaat bhayya will ask you - Teekha ya Meetha? This simply means spicy or sweet in Hindi. Give your prized choice and pop comes the Puri in the leafy container handed over to you. Explosion of flavours in your mouth satiating the meanest taste buds. You convince your palate to stop with one and you just cannot!

In India, although we had the liberty to eat out from the chaat stalls more often that not, Mom would make them at home in leisure. Her version easily beats the road side ones - I have to confess. Yet, busy lives, hectic jobs, meeting a bunch of friends - a chaat session was warranted. In US, I have to travel couple of miles to eat chaat battling wind chill and occasional snow; I am well off trying my experiments in my humble kitchen and get the experience of eating these yummy Puris to my hearts content if time's not a constraint. I follow my Mom's recipe since it is quite simple and can be planned well ahead of time. She adds plenty of ice cubes to the Pani, which makes it even more appealing and fresh. I follow the same notes that she followed and the final taste has never disappointed me. If lazy, use Puri and Sweet chutney available at Indian grocers.

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Processing time: 10 minutes
Serves: 2

Pani -
Coriander leaves (packed) - 1 cup
Mint leaves (packed) - 1/2 cup
Amchur powder - 1/3 teaspoon
Chaat Masala - 1 and 1/2 tablespoon
Red Chilli powder - 1/3 teaspoon
Lime juice - 2 tablespoon

Puri -
Sooji - 1/2 cup
Maida - as per the dough requirement

Sweet Chutney -
Dates (pitted) - 8-10
Jaggery - 2 tablespoon
Cumin powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Black salt (kala namak) - 1/2 teaspoon

For Serving:
Sev - 5-8 tablespoon
Yoghurt - 2-3 tablespoon
Boiled Mung beans - 3-4 tablespoon
Onions (chopped) - 1-4 tablespoon
Potatoes (diced into small cubes) - 1/2 cup

For the Pani - Grind coriander leaves, mint leaves with 1/2 cup of water. Do not add too much water as it needs to be concentrated in nature. Once done, add Amchur powder and Chaat Masala. Adjust spice level and salt. Add lime juice is required. Once done, add ice cubes and refrigerate till serving.
For the Puri - Take 1/2 cup of Sooji in a mixing bowl. Add enough water & salt to submerge the flour, keep adding the flour till the dough forms a soft pliable consistency which is easy enough to handle. Make small Puris and fry in batches of 8-10 until golden and crisp. Store in an air tight container.
For Sweet Chutney - Grind all the ingredients to a thick paste. Store in refrigerator, use as required.
For Potatoes - Mash and mix with red chilli powder and salt. Keep aside.
For Assembly - Pat the lighter side of Puri to make a dent. Stuff with potatoes, onions, sev, yoghurt (optional) and add Sweet chutney. Add enough Pani and plonk it in your mouth. Enjoy the savoury snack.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Tandoori Fish Fry (Tandoori Macchi)

Tandoori Macchi has been a pleasant winter discovery for me. While my husband is a strong carnivore (using it for the sheer lack of any other term), I prefer to hyper-analyse and be educated about everything that goes down my throat. Which takes my meat research a step further. Of all the meats I eat, Chicken and Fish are my preferred ones. Throw a choice, I prefer to stick to the safest lean fat - Fish. I have mentioned earlier on this blog that both of us detest Fish curries in any form. Having said that it leaves us with very less choices albeit just a single one - frying fish with all different spice powder combinations and relinquish the taste. Replicate if happy with the trials.

I have a huge concern with Chicken which we buy from the local grocery. I spend minutes and a sometimes very long time pondering and ruminating over the labels - growth hormone free, no steroids used, chicken fed on healthy edible elements and not just left over animal trash. We are what we eat - my father reiterated the statement time and again when I was a child owing to my fussy eating habits! This is the quote which has grown on me over a period of time & I cherish it now as better sense had prevailed! End result being - eat what you like and if sceptic sense of judgement persists, abhor the food group till you find healthy cuts and convincing produce. Finally, more often than not I restrict myself to the easiest and safest choice - Fish. Part of fishy fascination explains the fact that I detest cleaning meat, the less disturbing scenes I see while cleaning meat, the more motivated I am to cook, feed and be fed if I am lucky!

During one of my daily jabber conversations, one of my cousin informed me that she was making Tandoori Macchi. The convo was quick and I could not get time to ask for the recipe. This was many months ago. Few weeks back, I bought Fish and wanted to try something new and refreshing. I used store bought Tandoori masala and some spice powders to bring about the fish flavour. Traditionally, this version of Fish needs to be cooked in a traditional clay oven called - Tandoor mostly found in Northern regions of India and in specialty hotels & restaurants; the temperature is almost at 900 F in a Tandoor, and is certainly higher than that of conventional ovens at home but the taste is very earthy and crispy. I skipped using the oven and opted for a hot stove top griddle instead. We both like Tandoor or any kind of grilled food. This recipe is an ode to that taste and flavour which one can find only in specific restaurants in South Asia.

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Marinade time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 10-15 minutes

Fish fillet (boneless) - 6-10 pieces
Tandoori Masala - 2 tablespoon
Lime juice - 1 tablespoon
Red Chilli powder - 1 teaspoon
Turmeric powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Garam Masala powder - 1 teaspoon

Coriander powder - 1 teaspoon
Black Pepper (whole & crushed) - 1/2 teaspoon
Semolina (Sooji) - 4-6 tablespoon

Oil - for frying + marinade

Clean the fish fillet and use centre cut portions; this ensures that all the fish pieces getting cooked evenly. Thaw at room temperature if frozen and let rest in warm water for few minutes for a quick thaw. Wash the fish in multiple change of water till clean. Take care not to cook the fish in the bargain. Pat dry with a kitchen towel. Cut them into 2" bite sizes.
Add all the spice powders mentioned, mix well with hands. Add lime juice towards the end. If you prefer eating fish with lime juice drizzled, then pour half of the quantity in the marinade and preserve rest for serving. The marinade will form a thick red paste on the surface of fish. Add a tablespoon of oil to the marinade. This prevents the fish from drying up while frying & keeps it moist. Let it rest for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes have elapsed, heat a shallow pan, dredge the pieces one by one in Sooji, shallow fry on both the sides for few minutes till they are fork tender. Drizzle oil on the sides to cook the fish. Fish cooks very fast so keep a watchful eye. Once done, serve with a drizzle of lime juice. I did not add the juice since I had added enough to the fish marinade. This fish fry is very spicy and tasty. Reduce spice quantity as per taste and preference.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Rabdi ~ A Creamy Indian Dessert

Rabdi ~ a creamy, delectable dessert, a spoonful of which transports you instantly into a heavenly odyssey. The inspiration for this recipe comes from a simple fact that my husband and I are both fans of milk based desserts. Hence, Kheer, Basundi make a quick appearance on the menu especially the festive ones. The thing which I like about this recipe is it required very less pampering; I can just bring the milk to a gentle boil and get myself busy with occasional chores here and there, give a quick stir in between and again continue. My previous attempt at making Rabdi got stalled at the Basundi stage due to paucity of time and hungry growls begging for food. I added Condensed milk for that extra flavour. I jazzed up the dessert with a dash of Silver Leaf also called as Chandi Ka Varq available in Indian groceries and specialty stores. There are some concerns about the usage of these in desserts, but I believe for occasional treats they are much better than food color and trans fats laden food items which we inadvertently consume many a times.

Its advised to use full fat whole mlk for Rabdi else you will miss out on the rich flavour. If making a fruity dessert like Mango Rabdi, Strawberry Rabdi, mix the fruit (diced) at the final stage while serving. This dessert cannot me made in a hurry, so its advisable to have atleast 30-45 minutes on your hand while you plan. The best way to serve them would be in a earthen mini pots also known as Kulhad, I did not have them handy so passed it off. There is a strange chemistry when Rabdi gets stored in the earthen pots, the dessert gets a soothing earthy flavour. Rabdi is served in traditional sweet shops in India in muddy brown Kulhads; I for one leave no unturned to savour and enjoy these traditional sweets when I visit India.

Happy Gudi Padwa To All Those Who Celebrate!!

~ Rabdi ~

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 30-45 minutes

Serves: 4 servings


Whole Milk (full fat OK) - 3 cups

Condensed milk (sweetened) - 1 can

Saffron - a pinch of strands

Pistachio (roughly chopped) - 2 tablespoon

Almonds (slivered) - 4 tablespoon

Cardamom powder - 1 teaspoon

Silver Leaf (Chandi Ka Varq) - 4 leaves


Thaw desired quantity on milk at room temperature. Heat the milk on medium flame in a deep bottomed non-stick vessel. Keep a close watch as milk has a tendency to boil very fast and stick to the bottom. Keep stirring with a wooden spatula preferably. Bring to a gentle boil and not a roaring one. Turn the flame to a low and simmer till the milk thickens to 1/4 of the consistency. Toast the dry fruits lightly for couple of minutes separately. Allow to cool completely. Now, stir occasionally to prevent the milk from sticking to the bottom of the vessel. Add Cardamom powder now and adjust sugar if required. Add dry fruits and Saffron now and half of Almonds. The color of the consistency changes from white to light brown to creamy brown hue. Time and again scrape off the milk solids from the sides of the vessel. They add lot of character and texture to the final flavour. This whole process takes 45 minutes, so do not rush through. One done, the dessert will be thick, gooey and creamy. Turn off the flame. Serve hot with Puri. Else, allow to cool completely. Transfer to earthen pots, Kulhad. Refrigerate for 2-5 hours. Garnish with toasted Almonds (slivered) and Silver leaf.