Witches Broomsticks …. another savory Halloween treat

So continuing from my last Halloween post, here’s another quick and easy savory treat I put together for the same party. If you haven’t yet read that one, go check out the Monster Eye Crackers I posted about here.

If you’ve been around these parts before you know the most important part of food for me is taste. It helps if it is quick and easy to make and bonus points if it is cute and quirky too. This little treat ticks all those boxes. I found this one in quite a few places on the internet and decided that I had to try them out. They are perfect to make for a Halloween themed party. I will admit that the cheese stringers were a little fiddle to begin with, but eventually things started moving along much faster. And, considering there was zero cooking involved, I still give this little snack a thumbs up. Kids will love the novelty of these ‘Witches Broomsticks’. I made these to serve at an office party and the adults couldn’t keep their hands of them either.

These snacks also use only 3 ingredients – pretzel sticks, cheese stringers and fresh chives. There is not much of a process involved either, so let’s get straight to the instructions.

I hope you make these savory treats this Halloween and enjoy them as much as we did.

Witches Broomsticks


Pretzel sticks
Cheese stringers
Fresh Chives

Start with the cheese. Cut the cheese stringer sticks into about 1 inch pieces or one thirds.

For each of these pieces, cut up or pull apart two thirds of the length of it to make the bristly edge of the broomsticks.

Now simply pierce the uncut end with a pretzel stick.

Finish them off but tying with a piece of fresh chives.

Serve up.

What treats are you planning for this Halloween??? 

Bombay Street Food Special #12 – Papdi Chaat

Now that you can make the very tantalizing Sev Puri at home, I’m eager to show you how to step this already amazing treat up a notch, into something spectacular. The trick is adding a little whipped yogurt. That’s it. So basically, without the yogurt you have what we call Sev Puri and with the yogurt, you have a completely different treat called Papdi Chaat. That’s how easy and simple it is.

The trick to a good papdi chaat is getting the right balance with the whipped yogurt. Unfortunately, there is no accurate measure here, because the tartness of the yogurt varies greatly. You could use regular pot set yogurt or greek yogurt here, either way, it has to be plain, unflavored and unsweetened yogurt. I start off with half a cup of yogurt for a single plate of chaat or 1 cup for 2 plates or portions. Trust me here, you’d rather have more of the whipped yogurt dip at hand, instead of falling short or running out of it.

So let’s get straight to it then. The list below is an approximation. You add as much or as little of each of the ingredients to suit your preferences. The quantities below make one plate or 1 portion. You can easily double or multiply the quantities to make more. Also I used chickpeas here, you could use boiled potato instead or a combination of both.

Papdi Chaat
For 1 portion

6-7 puris (also called Papdi)
1/2 cup boiled / canned chickpeas, roughly mashed
1/4 onion, finely chopped
1/4 tomato, finely diced
Mint Chutney
Date and Tamarind Chutney
Sev
Fresh coriander, chopped
Some chaat masala / amchur (dried mango) powder
1/2 cup plain, unflavoured and unsweetened yogurt
A pinch of salt
Sugar, to taste (superfine sugar)

To make this chaat, start off my making the yogurt whip. The mixed yogurt needs to sit for about 5 minutes for the flavor to develop.

Place the yogurt, a scant pinch of salt and 1 tsp sugar and stir together to combine. Taste and add more sugar if you need to. You are looking for a slightly tangy, slightly sweet taste with a faint hint of saltiness as well. If your yogurt is not too tart, start with 1/2 tsp sugar and add more if needed. Set the bowl aside while you assemble the chaat.

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 the mashed chickpeas in a layer. Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of the chickpeas layer but here’s one of the boiled potato slices. The trick here too is to not 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.

At this stage, add a dollop of the whipped yogurt on each puri. I like a little extra yogurt on mine, but go with what you think you’d enjoy.

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. Lastly garnish with some freshly chopped coriander.

Serve immediately.

There is only one way to eat these puris. You get a whole puri with its toppings in your mouth at one go.

Bombay Street Food Special #11 – Sev Puri

Yup that’s right! You thought I had given up on my Bombay Street Food Series, didn’t you? The good news is that I haven’t. I just don’t always remember to take a picture when I make some of these. This time I did. So I can finally share one of my favorites with you. Sev Puri – Sev is just the almost super thin fried noodle like crunchy topping and Puri the flat disc that it sits on. This Sev Puri falls into a broader category of street food called Chaat, which also includes Bhel Puri, Paani Puri and many more. I love them all. Infact everytime I go back home, I have to go get some almost the day I get there. There is only one vendor close to where I grew up that I will ever go to. No one can beat his Chaat in taste. I should check if he’s willing to make an appearance on the blog, when I go there next. You have to be careful about where you get your Chaat fix from because of overall hygiene levels of street food in Bombay. But this guy, I can swear by. We’ve been frequenting his little stall since he started his business, about 30 years ago. If you’re skeptical about enjoying these on the street or don’t have access to a vendor like this, with a little planning you can enjoy a fantastic version at home.

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.

Sev Puri
Serves 1

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)
Sev
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.

Beef Puffs

Today I have a yummy little snack to share with you. Back in Bombay and in Goa, these puffs are legendary. You find loads of variants of the puff with a variety of the fillings – chicken, veg, mutton etc. They are pretty easy to find, though finding a good one might not be too easy. My favourites all came from stores in Bandra, namely my college haunt – Andora’s Cafe, Hearsch’s Bakery and a more pricey Candies. So eventually, when I learned to make my own at home, I was really excited. Back in Bombay I always made the puff pastry from scratch and it always turned out well. I hope to make it again someday and share the recipe here.

Here in Sydney, I was thrilled to find I could buy frozen puff pastry. That meant it was now possible to enjoy these little puffs with a fraction of the effort and time involved. Now don’t get me wrong. I am all about cooking and baking from scratch, but everyone needs to be open to a few shortcuts every now and then, especially when life gets hectic. So today, we are going to use the store bought frozen version. That covers the pastry. For a tasty filling I use my Beef mince recipe, but leave out the potatoes. Also you need to make sure that the liquid has cooked out so that you don’t have a runny filling. A runny filling will only result in a soggy pastry.

Now it’s just a matter of assembling the puffs. I cut up each thawed sheet of pastry into 6 portions and place the filling on one side keeping away from the edge. Run a finger dipped in water along the edges and fold over to seal. Apply an egg wash and bake. You can make these in a larger batch and refrigerate them. Just bring them to room temperature and heat them up on a pan or in the oven and you can sit down to a nice little snack. Very often, I have these with some tomato ketchup and I can safely say, nothing beats it.

Beef Puffs


Beef mince (each puff requires a spoon of filling)
Frozen puff pastry sheets, as many as you need (Each sheet yields 6 pieces)
1 egg, for the egg wash

Preheat the oven to 220ยบC (follow the package instructions if you’re using puff pastry).

Place the thawed puff pastry sheet on a flat work surface and cut into 6 potions. Place a spoon of the filling on one side of each puff staying away from the edges like so –

Keep a little bowl of water near your work surface. Dip a finger in the water and run on the edges of each puff.

Flip the empty half over onto the side with the filling and seal the edges. Place it on a baking tray lined with baking paper.

Crack an egg in another bowl and beat lightly. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the egg wash over the puffs. This gives it a lovely golden brown glaze.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or till golden brown.

Enjoy them warm.

Sriracha Chinese Cucumber Salad

Every now and then I love a little snack. Yes, I snack between meals Dad. My Dad would be horrified that I still do. He is a strong believer that food should be restricted to meal time, unless you were at a party or something. However, I love my snacks. I’ve always tried to cook / bake from scratch and now I want to try and take that one step ahead and eat clean. It will take some getting used to, but I think it definitely is do-able and I hope to take that to my snacks as well. Does this mean you’ll stop seeing desserts, bakes and other slightly indulgent food on my blog. Most definitely not. I will still do that, but will try and be more mindful of the kind of food I eat on a regular basis. Do you have any clean eating recipes that you love? I would love to try them out too. Leave me a comment and let me know ๐Ÿ™‚

So back to this salad. I love cucumbers – continental, lebanese, baby cukes – all of them. One of my favourite ways to eat cucumber is straight up sprinkled with a tiny bit of salt. I usually serve some up with lunch or dinner. I wanted to try and change it up a little. Thats where this Asian inspired gem comes in. It was quick and easy and sounded delicious. I could definitely snack on some of this too. I’m very glad I stumbled across this recipe.
If you’re making this salad ahead of time, you can make the dressing in advance and just chop the cucumber and toss it up just before serving.
Sriracha Chinese Cucumber Salad
1 continental cucumber, cut into batons
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tsp sesame oil
1/4 – 1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp sriracha sauce
1/2 tsp fresh coriander leaves and stalks, chopped
1/4 tsp red chilly flakes
Lemon / lime juice, to taste
Mix all the ingredients except the cucumber pieces together in a bowl.
Add the cucumber pieces to the bowl and toss well.
Serve immediately.

Chaklis – Savoury Indian rice crakers

For quite a few months now, I’ve been yearning for some good Chaklis (Savoury Indian rice crackers). I have made them at home in Bombay using my late Mother-in-law’s recipe and they are fantastic. I bought a couple of different packets from the Indian grocery stores here in Sydney, but it just never hits the spot. So why am I not making them here? I didn’t have this – 

I know for those of you who haven’t seen this before, it must look like something straight out of an alien space craft but just wait till you see what you can do with it. This is what it looks like on the inside – 
In some ways it is similar to a spritz cookie press. You slide in a plate from the assortment on the right into the barrel. For this recipe I used the one with the single star shaped perforation. Place your dough in the barrel and top it with the spiral press. All you do it rotate the lever on the top and that lowers the press and presses out the dough through the perforation. If that doesn’t make sense yet, don’t worry, it will shortly.
My dear blogging friend Manu of Manu’s Menu had posted some recipes featuring this press. So I asked her where she got her’s from and she very kindly directed me to the shops in Harris Park. So last weekend that’s where we went and finally bought one. I’ve hunted for this press for so long here and am so thrilled that I now have one. No more buying those unsatisfying packets of cruchy, but still hard like stone chaklis from the store for me. 
The very next morning, we set out making a batch of chaklis. The dough comes together quick and easy and makes a decent sized batch. Stored in an airtight container should give us something to much on for atleast a week with a cup of afternoon tea. And that thought makes me very happy indeed.
Chaklis

3 cup rice flour (fine)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup ghee
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1 tsp. red chilly powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp sesame seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
Oil for deep frying
Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and rub the ghee into the flour till everything is well mixed.
Gradually add little water to knead to a dough.
Heat the oil. Test with a tiny pea sized piece of dough. When added to the oil, it should rise to the surface quickly. If it browns really fast, the oil is too hot and needs to be cooled a little. If it settles to the bottom, the oil is not hot enough and needs to be heated a little more. 
The oil temperature is important, if its too hot, the chaklis will brown but stay raw on the inside and if the oil is not hot enough, it tends to absorb a lot of oil and wont have the right texture.
Take portions of dough and add to the chakli press.
Shape the chaklis on some baking paper.
That’s my wonderful husband cranking out the chaklis while I fry them, just incase you were wondering if that was my hand ๐Ÿ˜‰
Carefully using a flat spatula, life the chaklis off the paper and place into the oil. Let it cook on medium flame till golden brown. Drain on some absorbent kitchen paper.
When it has cooled completely, store in an air tight container.
Enjoy!!!

Methi Namakpare … savory fried crackers flavoured with fenugreek

Two namakpare recipes in two days … strange right? Well, I just wanted to be on the safer side since the ones I made a couple of months ago didn’t turn out too well. These are easy to make and I figured if I’m making one portion, I can just as easily make another one in almost the same time with just a tiny bit more effort. I figured that way I’d get atleast one good batch.

The first recipe that I shared with you yesterday for a basic Namakpare was fantastic. That being said, this recipe for the methi version is even better. I loved the slight hint of an Aachari (Indian spicy pickle) flavor that the methi lends to these snacks. It is amazing how adding just a few more ingredients can fancy up a humble snack recipe.
These little crackers turn out nice and crunchy. My husband and I loved the flavours so much, it was hard to stop. I will have to double or triple the batch size when I make this next.
Methi Namakpare
For the doughย –ย 
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp oil
1/4 cup water, approx.
Oil, for deep frying
For the spice coating
2 tbsp Kasuri methi (Dried fenugreek leaves)
1 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp red chilly powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp Amchur powder (dried mango powder)
In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt.
Rub the oil into the flour.
Add water gradually, as needed, to knead into a tight dough. Adding too much water will result in a soft dough and we don’t want that.
The dough needs to be a stiff dough yet smooth. It will take a little kneading.
Cover and let the dough rest for about 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, heat the oil for deep frying.
Take a couple of drops of oil on your hands and knead the dough a little.
Divide into 2-3 portions
Roll out into a flat disc about 1/8 of an inch thick.
Cut into diamond shapes. You can always re-roll the scraps.
Carefully place the diamond cuts in the hot oil. I usually place the cut pieces on the slotted spoon and carefully place it in the oil.
Fry on medium low heat till the crackers are golden brown and then drain them out on a kitchen paper towel.
Make sure the oil is not too hot, else the crackers will just brown and not cook through and wont be crispy.
In a small pan, heat the 1 tbsp oil for the spice coating.
Add the rest of the ingredients for the spice coating.
Mix well.
Take the fried crackers off the kitchen paper and place in a plate or a large bowl.
Drizzle all of the spice mix over it and gently mix through using your hands. Be as light handed as you can as you don’t want to crush the crackers.
When everything has cooled completely, you can store it in an airtight container.

Namakpare … Savory fried crackers

I can’t tell you how glad I am to report that I can finally make a good batch of Namakpare. What is Namakpare? These little gems are delicious, savory deep fried crackers. This Indian treat is found on every Indian festival platter (like a cookie platter). In my household, we never made this at Christmas, but I’ve always enjoyed them and have always wanted to be able to make some at home.

I made some a while ago, and while they tasted right, the texture wasn’t. They were not crunchy. You see they are meant to be crunchy and that’s what makes them so addictive. I was a little disappointed with this version and that was the end of it.

Anyway, I forgot about them for a little while and then all of a sudden, out of the blue, I came across a recipe a couple of days ago when I was looking around online. I decided I had to try them out. I was missing Indian flavours and I figured, this would be a good opportunity to try out another recipe.

This recipe simply involves making a tight dough, roll out into a disc, cut into diamonds, deep fry, cool down and … Enjoy! The ingredients required are also very basic ones. There is a good chance you will have all you need in your pantry. This recipe took me back home in a bite. The crackers taste fantastic, they are crunchy and so very yummy. Once completely cooled, you can store them in an airtight container. Enjoy them with a nice hot cup of tea.

Namakpare
Recipe from: Cooks Joy


1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
Salt, to taste
1 tsp cumin seeds
4 tsp ghee (clarified butter)
Water, as needed
Oil, for deep frying

Mix both flours, salt and cumin seeds.

Add ghee and rub it into the flour.

Using water slowly and gradually, knead into a tight dough. (You want the dough smooth but NOT soft.)

Cover and let the dough rest for an hour.

When you are ready to proceed, preheat oil for deep frying.

Divide the dough into 4 portions.

Working with one portion at a time (keep the rest covered so that it doesn’t dry out), roll out to a disc about 1/8 inch thick.

Cut into diamond shapes. In India, they have a really cool cutter with multiple blades that makes the process much quicker. But if you don’t have one, use a knife like I did. I forgot to take a picture of this step ๐Ÿ™

Pictured above is a different dough (the one for methi namakpare …. recipe coming up soon), but the process is exactly the same.

You can always re-roll the scraps and cut them out.

Carefully place the cut pieces in the hot oil. I usually place the cut pieces in my slotted spoon and place the spoon in the oil and gently tip the pieces in. I find that’s the only way I can keep from burning my hands.

Fry over a medium low heat. (This low frying ensures they cook through and get crispy later.)

When they are a nice golden brown, drain and set on some kitchen paper to get rid of any excess oil.

When completely cooled, store in an airtight container.

Note:ย 
Because you’ve used ghee while kneading the dough, you wont need to sprinkle flour to roll it out, the dough will not be sticky.

Fry it over a medium heat. Frying it over high heat will just brown the outside while the inside will still be doughy and won’t crisp up.

SRC: Caramel Popcorn

Hey, I’m back with SRC this month. After last months technical goof-up ended up with me having to sit out, I can’t tell you how happy I was to receive this months assignment. I can tell you this much, once you’ve been with SRC this long, having to sit out even for a month while the others play on can be a little bit of a dampener. It however was a lot of fun visiting the others. Thank you Jane for making it happen for us month after month here in Group A.

To check out my previous SRC assignments, click here.

Anyway, on to this month’s assignment. This was the first time ever I’ve been assigned an Australian blog, actually, I think its probably the first time I’ve spent this much time on one. My assignment this month was Leigh’s Chit Chat Chomp. What a fun name! And what a beautiful blog. Hi Leigh! I really enjoyed looking through your blog space this month. Leigh is from Melbourne and loves travelling and food. Her travelogues are very interesting. Though I didn’t have the time to go through them all, with Easter prep and stuff, I’ve bookmarked them to read through later. I think I could plan a lovely trip to Australia with tips from this lovely blog. Go on and visit her! You’ll have fun!!! Not to mention you’ll be drooling over her lovely food clicks and recipes. It was fun having so many lovely options to choose from. Oh did I mention that Leigh has a little weekend catering venture that she runs. I have a more than a few recipes I want to try out and I’m sure once you head on over there you’ll be in the same boat with me ๐Ÿ™‚

For my assignment this month, I was on the lookout for some feel good food. I just got back from a 3-day weekend trip to Panchgani. More on that later. But coming back to the city had me down with a severe case of the blues. So when I saw Leigh’s caramel popcorn, I knew I was going to make it. Popcorn and caramel – two of my favorite things in one. Its tried and tested comfort food that makes you feel better instantly. Who am I to disagree?  Its simple and quick to put together and I enjoyed every bit of it. I halved the recipe this time around since I knew I’d have no problem polishing off the whole lot and didn’t want to be faced with that kind of temptation. And I was right to do so! What a treat this caramel popcorn is! I had to try really hard to keep myself from finishing it off. Lovely caramel flavor, with a tiny hint of honey! I’m so glad I now have a recipe like this in my arsenal. This will be perfect for parties and around Christmas!

Caramel Popcorn


40g popcorn kernels (I used a pack of Act II – classic salted)
1 tbsp butter
1/8 cup honey
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/8 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Cook the popcorn according to the manufacturers instructions.

For the caramel sauce, place the butter, honey and sugar in a saucepan over low heat and stir it till the butter melts down.

Turn up the heat to a medium and bring the mixture to a boil for 3-4 minutes or until it turns golden and has thickened.

Take off the heat and add the bicarbonate of soda and stir well to combine.

Pour the sauce over the popcorn, mix to coat the kernels well and spoon onto a lightly greased baking tray to set.

Break into pieces and serve.

Check out these little chunks of deliciousness!!!

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