After a lot of searching, high and low, I found a recipe, that I tweaked to try and replicate the flavors I so vividly remember. Since I cook for just my husband and I, this recipe is scaled down. I also just use my favorite veggies from that day – okra (bhindi) and potatoes (aloo). I found that these are also some of the easy ones to work with. I don’t make this recipe very often, because the veggies start off by getting deep fried and are then tossed with a spice mix (tava masala), and the deep frying tips this to the slightly indulgent side.
The spice mix, or my version of the tava masala is hot a very hot mix. The spices used are warm and flavorful. The chaat masala is an integral part of this recipe. If you haven’t tried it before, it is a blend of a few spices like cumin, pepper and a few others with some powdered mango. So it has a unique flavor profile, you get a slight hit of salt, tang from the mango and delicious flavor from the blend of other spices. You can easily find this at any Indian grocery store. (This chaat masala also works well with other chaat recipes you find on my blog.)
So try this easy stir fry recipe. This is best enjoyed served hot with some chapatis, rotis, naan or other flatbread of your choice. It would also work well as a side dish to some hearty Dal & Rice.
Tava Style Aloo Bhindi
3 medium potatoes
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 – 1 tsp Kashmiri chilly powder (or any other mild chilly powder)
1 tsp coriander powder
1/4 tsp cumin powder
1/4 tsp chaat masala
Salt, to taste
1 1/2 – 2 tbsp oil, plus oil for deep frying
Place a pan with the oil for deep frying on medium high heat.
Wash and peel the potatoes and cut into evenly sized fries / chips.
Wash the okra and pat dry. Chop the stalks off the okra and discard. Try and use okra that is similar in size, if not, cut them down to about the same size as the potato pieces.
By now, the oil should be hot. Carefully, and in batches, add the potatoes to the oil. Don’t overcrowd the pan or the oil will froth over and spill.
Deep fry the potatoes on medium heat till they’ve cooked through. Drain using a slotted spoon and set aside on some kitchen paper to get rid of any excess oil.
Deep fry the okra on medium heat till they have start getting a little darker in color and have started crisping up.
Drain using a slotted spoon and set aside on some kitchen paper to get rid of any excess oil, like you did the potatoes.
Take the oil for deep frying off the heat.
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large pan on medium heat. When the oil is warm, NOT hot, add in the turmeric powder first and then add the rest of the spice powders.
Stir that through for about 20-30 seconds or till the spices get aromatic.
Add the okra to the pan and toss well. Lastly add the potatoes and toss to coat the veggies with the spices evenly.
Check for seasoning and add salt, to taste. Toss well.
You can watch the video recipe here –
Here, on The Aspiring Home Cook, I love to make things from scratch. I have tried a made from scratch version of Sambhar too, and it was okay, but didn’t turn out like my Mother’s did. So for this one, I’m following her recipe and since she’s uses a store bought blend called a Sambhar Masala, I did just that. This Sambhar Masala is a delicately balanced blend of spices and gives a beautifully complex depth of flavor to the dish. Now, I always have a box of this masala in the pantry. I’ve used a couple of brands in the past like Everest and MDH, both of which you should be able to find at your local Indian grocery store, and they are both good. This time around, I’ve used the Everest Sambhar Masala.
Moving on to the vegetables. I use a mix of all sorts of veggies. This time around, I used some sweet potato, carrots, eggplants (I grew these ones in my own backyard, so I’m thrilled about them), okra / lady fingers and drumsticks. You can also use bottle gourd (white pumpkin), pumpkin and potato if you like. Use what you have on hand. Typically a sambhar always has drumsticks, eggplant and some bottle gourd. For those of you who aren’t familiar with drumsticks, its the fruit of the moringa plant and supposed to be very good for you. They come in long canes ranging from 1 to 2 feet in length. They are chopped into smaller pieces, about 2 inches long and you don’t eat the outer hard skin. Your after the pulp on the inside and the seeds. It is eaten much like how you would scrape the icing from the inside of an oreo cookie with your teeth.
This sambhar can be served up with some plain, boiled rice and a side of papad (poppadums) and Indian pickles of your choice. This sambhar pairs very well with idlis or dosas. I also enjoy a bowl of this stew with some crusty bread.
If you want to see this being made, check out the video version of the recipe here –
1 cup toor dal (pigeon peas)
1/2 sweet potato
A handful of okra
2-3 small eggplants
A couple of drumsticks (A handful of frozen pieces)
8-10 curry leaves
1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
3 dried Kashmiri chillies
1 tbsp Sambhar masala
1/2 tsp Kashmiri chilly powder, or any mild red chilly powder
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt, to taste
Tamarind, the size of a small walnut
Cooking the lentils –
Wash through the toor dal with cold water and drain. Do this 2-3 times.
Cover the dal with fresh water till the dal is fully submerged and set aside to soak for about 10 minutes.
While the dal is soaking, chop up the vegetables you are using into similar sized cubes.
Drain the dal, and rinse through with fresh water and drain again. Pressure cook the dal with 2 cups of water and 1 tsp of salt. Cook till tender, almost mushy. It takes about 5 minutes in my WMF pressure cooker. Follow your manufacturers instructions to get you the best results. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, simply boil it in a pot with plenty of water till it is well cooked.
Once the pressure dies down, open the pressure cooker.
Cooking the vegetables –
While the dal is cooking, place the chopped vegetables in a large pot, top off with water from a recently boiled kettle and 1/2 tsp salt. Boil the veggies till they’re almost done. Don’t over cook the vegetables, because they will continue to cook in the sambhar. When the veggies are ready, drain them and set them aside. Reserve the water the vegetables were boiled in.
To make the sambhar –
Soak the tamarind in a small bowl with about 1/8 cup of warm water. Set aside till later.
Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in large pot on medium heat.
When the oil is hot, carefully tip in the mustard seeds. When they start to sputter, add the curry leaves and the Kashmiri chillies.
When they have warmed through and released their flavors and aromas into the oil, lower the heat and add the cooked lentils and the water it was cooked in. Stir through.
Now add the sambhar masala and red chilly powder and stir through.
Add 1/2 – 1 cup of the vegetable stock to loosen the lentil curry as needed. You can add as much or as little of the stock as you need, depending on the consistency you’d like the sambhar to be. Keep in mind, the sambhar tends to thicken a little as it cooks.
Bring this back to a boil and add the cooked vegetables.
Once everything has heated through, check for seasoning and add more salt, if needed.
Now, mash the tamarind with your fingers in the water it was soaking in to extract the pulp. Pass this through a sieve into the pot of sambhar. Add this tamarind extract to taste.
Let it simmer for a couple of minutes.
It is especially at times like this that I love big salads. While I’m quite happy to put together a tossed garden salad a few times a week, I think I need to add a few new salads to my repertoire. We’re trying to cut down our meat intake and substitute it with as much vegetarian food as possible. So salads like this Lemon, Sun-dried Tomato & Almond Quinoa Salad are perfect. Its all vegetarian yet hearty, involves minimal cooking and so very tasty. And its not just my opinion, my husband had a second helping of this salad for dinner.
I have tried cooking with quinoa before, but it was a total fail. So I was very skeptical about trying it out again. But I decided that trying something once and never trying it again, wasn’t giving it a fair chance. So on my last trip to Costco, I just picked up a bag of quinoa. Now that I have this great big bag of quinoa, I was going to have to use it. So recently when I was looking for a salad recipe with Italian influences to pair up with my eggplant patties, I decided to look for one with quinoa in it. And when I stumbled upon this recipe, it sounded perfect. There was just one problem. I didn’t have any parsley at home. So I just used the next best thing, coriander leaves. Personally I love the flavor that coriander leaves add to any dish and I thought it worked very well with this salad. But I also know there are folks out there that cant stand it. If you are one of them, feel free to use parsley instead. I can’t wait to try it out with parsley the next time. I’m very happy to have another wonderful salad to include in my meal rotation now.
Lemon, Sun-dried Tomato and Almond Quinoa Salad
Adapted from: Averie Cooks
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 cup quinoa
1 1/4 cups of water
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp lemon zest
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp freshly cracked lack pepper, or to taste
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, sliced (I used the ones bottled in oil and drained them before slicing)
2 tbsp coriander leaves and stems, finely chopped
1/2 cup roughly sliced almonds
1 tsp red chilly flakes (optional)
Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat.
Add the onions and cook till the onions have softened and have just started browning.
Add the quinoa and stir. Let it toast for about 30 seconds.
Now add the water, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Stir. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and cook for about 12-15 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed.
While the quinoa is cooking, chop up the rest of the ingredients.
Place the quinoa in a large bowl, add the rest of the ingredients and toss well.
Taste and add more salt or pepper or lime if needed. If, at this stage, you find the salad too sour, add a tiny bit of sugar to balance it out. I just stuck with the quantities listed above and I didn’t need to add anything at this stage.
It stores well in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days. This can be served either as a warm or cold salad.
Serve up this salad either as an accompaniment at a meal or a slightly larger portion as a meal in itself.
Today’s post is one such snack option. Kale Chips. I never thought I’d love it as much as I do. I’ve had the option to cook with Kale only in the last couple of years. I’ve not tried too many Kale recipes so far. Just this Skillet Breakfast Hash and now these Kale Chips. I’ve made them both a few times and we love them. That is how I knew, I had to share these Kale Chips with you. Kale is really good for you. They are choc full of antioxidants. These are baked and I can’t tell you how delightful they are to snack on. You have to try it to believe it. What I love is that the options for the seasonings are endless. I have a soft spot to this Spicy Masala Chaat Seasoning. It is a little tangy, a little salty and a little spicy – just perfect. And its such an easy recipe too. All you do is prep the leaves, sprinkle the seasoning over, toss and bake. So what are you waiting for? Try it out. You’ll definitely want to make it again.
You can watch the recipe here –
1 bunch of Kale, washed and shaken dry
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder or to taste
1/2 tsp Chaat masala, or to taste
Salt, to taste
Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
To prep the Kale leaves, break the leaves into smaller chip size portions, discarding the tougher stem.
In a small bowl, mix the olive oil, the chilli powder, chaat masal and salt together.
Drizzle this over the the kale leaves and toss well to make sure all the leaves are coated with the spices. Its best to do this with your hands. Rub the leaves gently to get the seasoning in the little nooks and crannies.
Either line a baking tray with some parchment paper or lightly spray with some oil
Arrange the kale leaves in a single layer on the tray.
Bake for 10-15 minutes or till the leaves are lightly browned.
Keep a close watch on the leaves as they can go from just right to burnt very quickly.
Take them out of the oven and let the chips cool completely before eating. They crisp up as they cool.
Sit back and enjoy.
Pin now and enjoy later!
Recipe from: Swati’s Kitchen
Today’s post is about one such recipe. Its a cake recipe, but not your regular, run of the mill cake. This is a savory one. And it is made with chickpea flour. It is called Khaman Dhokla and happens to be one of my favorite street foods. Even though I enjoy this recipe, I didn’t know how to make this one. I had to do some reading before I could find a recipe I was happy with. And when I saw this instant recipe, I knew I had found the one. Traditionally, this cake is steamed, but this is a microwave recipe.
This beautiful snack comes together in less than 30 minutes from start to finish. It is absolutely delicious. The cake itself is light and super fluffy. The flavors are well balanced and in all, very moreish. If you’ve had dhokla before, you probably love it as much as I do. If you haven’t, you really should give it a try. It is a unique treat and you won’t be disappointed. This treat is served with some Green Mint Chutney and some Tamarind & Date Chutney. You can buy little bottles of the chutneys at any Indian store or click on the links to find the recipes, if you’d like to make some at home. They are very easy to make and taste so much better. Either way, these chutneys are an important part of the dish and not just an accompaniment. Serving it without the chutneys doesn’t do the the dhokla justice.
Instant (Microwave) Khaman Dhokla
Recipe from: Ruchi’s Kitchen
1 cup besan (chickpea flour)
1 1/2 tbsp semolina
A pinch of asafoetida
1 tbsp sugar
Salt, to taste
1 tsp. crushed ginger and green chillies
1 1/2 tsp Eno (fruit salts – available at any Indian store)
1/2 tsp Citric acid
2 1/2 tbsp Oil
3/4 – 1 cup water (depending on how much is needed to achieve pouring consistency)
For tempering –
1 tsp mustard seeds
10-12 curry leaves
1 tsp sugar
2-3 tbsp water
2-3 green / red chillies, sliced
1 tbsp oil
In a large mixing bowl, mix the besan, semolina, asafortida, sugar and salt.
In a mortar and pestle, pound the ginger and green chilly to a fine paste. (You can leave the chillies out or deseed the chilly if you don’t want too much heat from the chilly.)
Add the chilly and ginger paste to the mixing bowl. Add the oil and citric acid.
Add the water and mix everything till well blended.
Whisk the batter well to incorporate air into it. It will make a light and fluffy dhokla.
Add the eno (fruit salts) and whisk the batter till it is well incorporated. The batter will get light and frothy. The batter should be of thick dropping / pouring consistency.
Pour the batter in a greased microwave bowl. (I used an 8″ bowl)
Cook for 5-6 minutes. It may take longer depending on the microwave.
Take it out and insert a toothpick to check if it is done, just like you would a regular cake. If the toothpick comes out clean, it is cooked and if it doesn’t microwave for another 30 seconds.
Allow it to cool.
Traditionally, it is cut into squares. But I tried cutting it into wedges this time and it looks much prettier this way.
Now prepare the tempering.
For the tempering –
In a pan, heat the oil.
Lower the flame and add the mustard seeds and green / red chillies and let it sputter.
Add the curry leaves and let it fry up on low heat till crisp.
When they are crisp, add the sugar and water. Mix well.
Pour the hot tempering over the dhokla.
Serve with the Green Mint Chutney and Tamarind & Date Chutney.
Every summer, snake beans were at the peak of their season. We didn’t grow this but there was a local farmer in the village who did. And he did a fantastic job of it. I loved and to this day love snake beans. We cook this up in a very simple way, a traditional Goan fugad. A fugad has its roots in Portuguese food. It is a stir fry of vegetables with some spices and seasonings and a sprinkling of fresh grated coconut. Most Goan households still cook their vegetables this way. The snake bean version was my favorite. I volunteered to prep 2 massive bundles every single day. Yes, I managed to convince my mother and aunt that I wanted to eat this every single day while I was there and that I would clean it and get it ready to be cooked myself. Thankfully, they obliged and so someone from that good old farmers household would graciously drop off a couple of bundles at the house on their way to the market. The simplicity of the dish may fool you. But the end result is fantastic. In my humble opinion, it is delicious. The beans turn out tender and sweet I’m sure kids would love it too. I could eat it by itself or with steamed rice or chapatis.
I recently managed to get some gorgeous bundles of snake beans and had to make this fugad again and I thought it was a perfect opportunity to share it with you. So if you can find some good, fresh snake beans or if you grow them yourself, I hope you try this out.
Eeril Fugad / Goan Snake Beans Stir Fry
3 small bundles of snake beans, the fresher the better
1 large onion, diced
2 fresh green / red chillies
Salt, to taste
1/4 cup freshly grated coconut
1 tbsp olive oil
Break off the ends of the snake beans and break off into inch sized pieces. Rinse through and drain and keep aside.
Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat.
Slit the chillies in length, but not all the way through. This way you get all the flavor but not much of the heat.
Let the chillies fry up for a few seconds till they get fragrant.
Add the chopped onions and saute till the onions have softened and get slightly brown on the edges.
Add the snake beans and stir them in for a while. You will see the green color of the beans turn a darker shade.
Add the salt and let the bean stir fry for about 2 minutes.
Add a splash of water, a very small amount to prevent the beans from burning and help them cook through.
Cover the pan and let it cook. Add more water, if needed.
When the beans are almost cooked, add the freshly grated coconut and stir through.
Serve hot as a side dish with some Goan fish curry or prawn curry and rice or with some chapatis.
This little treat is basically an Indian version of nachos, except that these are individually topped with all the fun stuff. The way you eat this is you pick up one Puri and try not to drop off any of the toppings and the whole things goes into your mouth at one go. What you end up with is an explosion of flavors and textures. It is literally a party in your mouth. To make these puris, you’ll need to have some boiled potato at hand. You will also need a couple of chutneys. From time to time I make these chutneys at home (I’ll add the link in the recipe below), but this time around I’d run out of the home made version and used store bought chutneys. You should be able to find all of the ingredients in your local Indian grocery store. I do hope you try these out. These are best eaten as soon as they are assembled, otherwise they tend to go soggy. You will also notice that your second and third attempts will be better than your first one, because these babies are all about a balance of flavors. Once you’ve tried them, you’ll know what you want to increase or decrease the next time around. The quantities below are not fixed, you can add more or less of any of them to suit your taste. Each plate typically serves one and can easily be doubled or multiplied. The quantities below make 1 plate.
6-7 puris (also called Papdi)
1 potato, boiled and thinly sliced
1/4 onion, finely chopped
1/4 tomato, finely diced
Mint Chutney (You can find the recipe here)
Date and Tamarind Chutney (You can find the recipe here)
Fresh coriander, chopped
Some chaat masala / amchur (dried mango) powder
A few drops of freshly squeezed lime juice
Place your puris on your serving plate.
(These puris can be made at home. I haven’t tried making them yet. For now, I use the store bought version. I get mine in packets that look like the one below).
Over the puris, arrange a layer of the boiled potato slices. Don’t overload the puris. They will get difficult to manage.
Top that with the chopped onion. Use as much or as little as you like. But make sure you use some.
Top this with some chopped tomato.
Now add your green mint chutney. I would start of with small quantities of this as this is on the spicy side.
Now you add the Date and Tamarind Chutney. This is the sweet and tangy stuff, so feel free to add some.
The next layer uses sev. Sev is basically little fried crispy noodles made out of chickpea flour. Again, this can be made at home, but I haven’t tried that yet. I simply use a store bought packet.
Add a layer of the sev to the puris.
It’s almost done. But there are a couple of flourishes that will take this treat to a whole new level. Sprinkle the puris with a pinch of chaat masala / amchur powder. Use this sparingly as a little goes a long way. Add a few drops of freshly squeezed lime juice. Again with the lime juice, less is more. You can add a bit, taste and add more if needed. However, if you add too much there is no way to balance it out. Lastly garnish with some freshly chopped coriander.
Serve immediately and get ready to be very popular with anyone you might serve this to.
There is only one way to eat these puris. You get a whole puri with its toppings in your mouth at one go.