Bombay Street Food Special #9 – Deep-fried Lentil Fritters

After what seems like forever, I’m back in the blogosphere. And I just have to share this little treat with you. It is a South-Indian delight. We’ve been missing the readily available street food in Mumbai an awful lot lately, so I’ve decided that instead of whining about it, I was just going to have to put my big girl pants on and learn how to make it myself.

So off I went, to scour the internet for recipes easy enough for a beginner in South Indian food to get right. You might wonder what I’m on about. You see I love South Indian treats, but a lot of them call for the perfect ratio of ingredients, overnight fermentation and consistency of the batter, to name a few pressure points you might come across in a recipe. I wanted something that wouldn’t take as long. After a little looking, I found a recipe for Deep-fried lentil fritters. It requires a little planning in advance, since the lentils have to soak for a while (you could make the Chutney and the prep the other ingredients in the meanwhile), but other than that its fairly simple to prepare. The fritters turned out fantastic. Crunchy on the outside, fluffy on the inside and they packed some lovely flavor. I should tell you at this point, that the first time I made these fritters, the batter was a little thinner than it should have been. The resulting fritters were tasty but absorbed a little oil while they were being fried. I knew at once that I needed to make some changes. When I made these a second time and watched the water content closely. The batter was a lot thicker than the previous time.
And since then I’ve made these a couple of times and they hit the spot every single time. So until I learn to make a few more Indian street food delights, I will make these bite sized treats everytime the we’re hit with the craving for some South Indian food.
I’ve used a bit of chillies with the seeds since we like our food with a little bite. But you can either cut down on the chillies or leave them out completely. Serve this hot with some Coconut Chutney on a wet / cold day or any other day really coupled with a piping hot cuppa tea and you’re in for a real treat.

Come back tomorrow and I’ll show you how to use these fritters to make another yummy snack.

Deep-fried Lentil Fritters
1 cup Urad Dal, black lentils (skinned and split)
1/4 onion, finely chopped
2 green chillies, finely chopped
1/4 tsp. freshly crushed black pepper
1 sprig curry leaves, roughly torn or chopped
A little grated ginger (optional)
2 tbsp rice flour
Salt, to taste
Oil, for deep frying
Wash the dal a couple of times in water and drain.
Soak the dal in water for 20 minutes.
Drain the water. Rinse the dal through with fresh water again and drain.
Grind the dal with a tiny bit of water to a smooth paste. Remember, to not add too much water. You don’t want a thin runny batter.
In a bowl, mix the paste, salt and rice flour. Add the onions, chillies, pepper, ginger and curry leaves and stir through, to mix the ingredients evenly.
Heat the oil in a wok to deep fry.
When the oil is hot, ladle the batter carefully into the oil one tablespoonful at a time and keep the oil on a medium heat. Fry the fritters till golden brown.
Drain the fritters onto some kitchen paper to absorb any excess oil.
Enjoy hot with some Coconut Chutney and a hot cuppa tea.

Baked (Garlic Herb) Potato Wedges

It is so good to have access to an oven again. After a trying 6-7 months without one, the last few have been bliss. My last post talks about how to make a basic chicken roast in the oven. Every roast, chicken or otherwise, needs to be accompanied by a few yummy sides too. I only recently realized that I haven’t posted too many such sides on my blog. Now that was just not done. I had to rectify that. So I’m going to start with these really delicious baked potato wedges. These baked potato wedges are a step up from the humble roasted potatoes. The garlic herb seasoning makes these irresistible.

Most of you know my deep rooted love for the humble potato in every form. This recipe here, is another good one. Its healthier than the regular french fries, but don’t let that fool you. I know these wedges will make more than a few appearances on my dinner table.

Baked Garlic Herb Potato Wedges

2 potatoes, washed thoroughly, skins left on
Salt, to taste
1-2 tbsp. Olive oil
1/2 tsp garlic powder (I used garlic salt and adjusted the salt levels accordingly)
Black peppercorns, crushed, to taste
1 tsp dried Italian herb mix
A little dried parsley (or finely chopped fresh parsley), to garnish

Preheat oven to 210°C.

Cut the potatoes in half, lengthwise and each half into 4-5 wedges, equal in size.

Toss the wedges with the rest of the ingredients in a bowl and make sure all the wedges are coated evenly. You can adjust the quantities of the seasoning to your taste. The quantities mentioned above work well as a guide.

Line a baking sheet with foil. Place the wedges skin side down. Space them evenly so that they cook uniformly.

Bake for about 30-35 minutes or until browned to your liking, crusty on the ends and tender inside.

Serve immediately. Add more salt if needed while they are still hot from the oven.

Sprinkle a little parsley over the potatoes and serve hot.

Sit back and enjoy!

Peas Pulao … yes please!

I love peas pulao! There, I said it. This mildly flavored rice dish adorned with little green peas is something that I can eat by itself with a fresh garden salad on the side. Having said that, this rice is usually whipped up in Catholic homes all over Mumbai and Goa for a special meal, be it a festive occasion or a birthday or any other gathering. It pairs amazingly well with a variety of meat curries, like pork sorpotel, chicken cafreal and many, many more, and I can tell you it is a real treat. I look forward to sharing my family recipes for these meat curries with you soon.
 
For now, we’ll get back to the peas pulao. The preparation is really simple and the few spices used add a fragrant warmth to the rice rather than a spicy heat. Don’t let the simplicity of this dish undermine its flavors. Try it out and see for yourself.
 
A lot of folks seem to have trouble with the rice ending up very soft and mushy. This happens for a number of reasons like wrong amount of cooking water, too much stirring while the rice is cooking etc. I’ve made this rice hundreds of  times and have never encountered such a problem. So I think if you stick to the measures, you should be good to go.

 



Peas Pulao


2 bay leaves
1-2″ cinnamon sticks
2 pods green cardamom
4-5 cloves
6 black peppercorns
1/2 large or 1 small onion, chopped
1 tbsp oil
1 cup long grained rice
2 cups water
1/4- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
A handful of green peas
Salt, to taste

If you’re using frozen peas, keep them out to thaw for a while.

Wash the rice and leave it to soak in some water for about 15-20 minutes while you prep the rest of the ingredients.

Heat the oil mildly in a vessel and add the bay leaves, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and peppercorns and let them warm up and infuse the oil with their aromas and flavors, taking care not to burn the spices.

Add the chopped onion and saute till the onions and soft and translucent and start taking on a little colour.

Add the turmeric powder and stir well.

Drain the water that the rice was soaking in and tip the rice into the vessel.

Stir gently making sure you don’t break the grains down while stirring.

Once the rice is well coated with the spices in the pan, add the water, salt to taste and the green peas.

Cover and let it cook on a low flame, till all the water has been absorbed.

Fluff up the rice using a fork and not a spoon so that you don’t mash the grains.

Serve hot with your favourite curry.

Please remember that if you’d like to change the quantity of rice used, the rice to water ratio should always be 1:2. That is 1 measure of rice to 2 measures of water to cook it in.

This recipe is linked with –
My Meatless Mondays
Mouthwatering Mondays
Mangia Mondays
A Little Birdie Told Me

Pooris – Deep Fried Whole Wheat Flatbread

You’ve probably heard me mention the “poori” (pronounced poo-ree) in a couple of posts before, like here and here. Both these posts give you ideas of stir fries and curries that you can serve with pooris. They are fairly simple to make. I love these little fellows so much, that I can eat them plain, without anything else to go with it. I don’t make them too often ‘coz they’re deep fried and trust me when I say you may not be able to stop at just a couple. They taste incredible when they are hot. If there are any leftovers, I refrigerate them and the next day I simply warm them on a griddle and they are good to go.

Learn how to make the Puris here –

Pooris


2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp Salt, or to taste
Water (approx 1 cup)
Oil, for deep frying

Mix the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl.

Make a well in the centre and adding water a little at a time, knead to form a nice pliable dough. If you need to use more than a cup of water, please do so.

Heat the oil for deep frying over medium heat. To test the oil, drop a tiny pea sized ball of the dough carefully into the oil. It should sizzle and rise to the top fairly quickly. If this happens, your oil is at the right temperature. If it browns straightaway, your oil is too hot. Take it off the heat for a while and then start frying. If it just sinks to the bottom without any sizzle, your oil is not hot enough.

Make small walnut size portions and roll to form a disc. Do not roll out too thin. (According to my mum, they need to be a little on the thicker side to puff up. I simply follow that and get brilliant results each time.)

Deep fry as you’re rolling them out. Don’t stack the raw discs before frying.

When golden brown, drain on absorbent paper.

Serve hot!

This recipe is linked to –
Let’s Do Brunch
Full Plate Thursday
It’s A Keeper Thursday

Corn Flakes Chivda – Savory Corn Flakes Snack Mix

Update: Here’s a slightly better picture of the same recipe 🙂




For those of you who’ve never heard of this, you must be thinking I’ve lost it. Most of us associate corn flakes with a morning breakfast cereal thats a little on the sweeter side. Today, I’m going to introduce you to a snack mix made of corn flakes, which is savory, crunchy, healthy and really tasty. As a matter of fact this is my husband’s  favorite munchy. I’m convinced that given the chance he’ll snack on this every day. I enjoy this from time to time, but in the past the thought of making this myself has always been intimidating. After a fair amount of online research, I decided to try it out. I saw a few recipes that had elements I liked as well as stuff I really didn’t care for. What I’m listing below is a combination of a few, mostly inspired by a store-bought variety that I quite like. This is so easy, I think it take about 15 minutes to make and you can store it in an air-tight container and nibble on it over the next few days, if it doesn’t get wolfed down sooner.

Corn Flakes Chivda


2 cups cornflakes
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1-2 green chillies, slit (optional)
6-8 curry leaves
20 raisins
20 cashewnuts
1/4 cup peanuts
1/4 cup roasted chana dal (dalia)
2 tbsp unsweetened coconut chips (optional)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 – 1 tsp red chilly powder
Salt, to taste
2 tbsp superfine sugar (You can also use granulated sugar, powdered)

Heat the oil in a large pan.

Add the mustard seeds and let it sputter.

Add the green chillies and curry leaves and let them fry off till they are nice and crisp. Be careful not to burn them.

Then add the peanuts. If you’re using raw peanuts, let them fry off on a medium flame till they are lightly browned and cooked. If you’re using roasted peanuts, this won’t take as long.

Add the roasted chana dal and cashew seeds and saute for a minute or so.

Next, add the raisins and let them fry for about half a minute.

Add the salt, turmeric powder, red chilly powder and stir well.

Add the corn flakes and toss well making sure that the corn flakes are well coated with the spice mix.

Take it off the fire.

When it has cooled a little but is still warm, sprinkle the sugar over it and toss gently but thoroughly.

Let it cool completely and store in an air tight container.

Please note – Snacks like this should be tweaked to your liking. Feel free to play around with the dry fruits and nuts added as well as the spice, sugar and salt levels. After you make this once, you’ll have a better idea of what you’d like to do the next time.

Have fun with this recipe.

This recipe is linked to –
What’s On The Menu Wednesday
What’s Cooking Thurdays
Real Food Wednesday

Diwali Delicacies @ Spicy Treats and Priya’s Versatile Recipes

Aloo Bhaji

UPDATE: Over the years, I’ve made one little addition to this recipe, that I think makes this recipe even more delicious. After the mustard seeds sputter, add 1/2 tsp cumin seeds and let it release its aroma, should take a few seconds. Then continue with the recipe. Nothing else changes. Keep a close eye on the cumin seeds and don’t let it burn.
Also, I have come to realise that there is a difference in the size of sour limes found in India and other countries. You need just a few drops, maybe a teaspoon of it for a mild change in flavours.

I’ve been having such crazy days of late, I just don’t know where all the 24 hours off the day go. Things such seem to be happening at such a frenzied pace, and that too for no reason in particular. I wonder what brought this on. Since I haven’t been able to devote much time to this space, I decided I was going to make up for it by posting one of my all time favorites – the humble aloo bhaji (A mildly spiced potato stir fry.) I do love my fries and mashed potatoes, but sometimes I find myself longing for a portion of this stir fry.

Making this stir fry can be super quick, not to mention easy, if you have a few boiled potatoes at hand. Make sure that when you’re boiling potatoes for this stir fry, you don’t overcook them, else they will not hold their shape and get all mushy. It’ll still taste great, but just won’t be as much of a visual treat. I usually wash the potatoes and pressure cook them with some water and salt for about 10 minutes after the first whistle. Remember to turn your gas to low after the whistle. If you don’t want to use a pressure cooker, peel and cube the potatoes and cover them in water, add a little salt and boil them on the stovetop till tender.
This stir fry is a versatile side dish. In India, every region tweaks it a little and uses it in loads of different ways.  It can be served with some hot chapatis (Whole wheat flat bread), pooris (savory deep fried flat bread), used as stuffing for masala dosas (savory crispy crepes filled with this potato mix) and so on. I’m going to try to post each of these in the future. Oh! and by the way, this potato mix makes for a lovely topping on a slice of toasted bread or can also be used as a filling for a grilled sandwich. How about that!

Watch the video here –

Aloo Bhaji
(Serves 4)
3-4 large potatoes, boiled, peeled and cubed (about 1/2 kg)
1 large onion, chopped
2 birdseye / green chillies, sliced (or to taste)
8-10 curry leaves
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp (scant) turmeric powder
1 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp fresh coriander leaves, chopped
1 tbsp vegetable oil
Salt, to taste
1/2 tsp sugar

Heat the oil in a pan. 
On a medium flame, add the mustard seeds and let them sputter.

Add the curry leaves and the chopped chilly. Let it fry for a few seconds.

Add the cumin seeds and immediately after tip in the chopped onions and saute it for a few minutes till the onions have softened and turned a light brown.

Add the turmeric powder and stir well. Let it cook for about a minute. Stir to make sure it doesn’t stick to the pan and burn.

Tip in the potatoes and stir well till the potatoes are well coated with the spice mix. 
Add the lime juice and salt to taste and stir well. 

Add the sugar and stir well.

Check for seasoning and adjust, if needed.

Once the potatoes have heated through, sprinkle the chopped coriander leaves and toss lightly. Take the pan off the heat.
Serve hot.


This recipe is linked to –
Savory Sunday
Mangia Mondays
My Meatless Mondays
Just Another Meatless Monday
Hearth and Soul

Eggplant Slices

These batter fried eggplant slices take me back a long way. My mum makes these for us. They were my all time favorite way to enjoy eggplant. But mum never made these too often because they were fried. But when she did, my brother and I couldn’t get enough. If you have trouble getting your kids to eat eggplant, you may want to try this out. You never know, they may enjoy it. If you are going to serve these to kids, make sure you adjust the amount of spice that the chilly powder adds to it. In a short while, you’ll be sitting down to some lovely crunchy, not to mention really tasty, eggplant slices.

Eggplant Slices


Oil, for shallow frying
1 large round eggplant

Wash the eggplant, cut off the stalk and cut into slices and as you slice the eggplant, put the slices in a bowl of salted water (enough water to cover all the slices and 1/2 tsp salt dissolved in it). This will prevent any discoloration off the slices.

Let it stand in the salted water till you make the batter.

For the batter:
1 cup chickpea flour / besan
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/3 -1/2 tsp red chilly powder
1/4 tsp. carom seeds / ajwain
Salt, to taste
A little water

Place all the dry ingredients in a bowl and gradually add water to make a smooth batter without any lumps. The batter shouldn’t be too think and neither should it be too thin. It should coat the back of a spoon when you dip it in.

Heat some oil in a pan. Dip the slices into the batter and carefully place them on the pan. Let them cook on a medium flame till they are a nice golden brown.

Turn the slices over and brown the other side as well.

Drain on some absorbent paper towels to get rid of the excess oil.

Serve hot.

This recipe is linked to –
Savory Sunday
Meatless Mondays
Just Another Meatless Monday
Meatless Mondays
Mangia Mondays
Mouthwatering Mondays

Coconut Coriander Chutney – Savory Sandwich Spread

A coconut coriander chutney is probably one of the humblest of all sandwich fillings. It has so many wonderful flavors that mingle to form one well balanced spread. There is absolutely no cooking involved, which is a welcome relief in these sweltering conditions. I’ve jotted down the quantities and the ingredients that I use for the chutney in this post, but you can play around with them to get the flavors you prefer. In India, theres probably hundreds if not thousands of recipes for this chutney. This is one my grandmother and mother used, but my husband tweaked and I’d dare say perfected it. Its not too spicy so even children can enjoy this, and believe me they do.

This chutney keeps very well. So you can make it ahead of time and refrigerate it for up to a week and use it as and when you need to.

Here’s a few options on what you can do with this spread –
1) Chutney sandwich – Spread it over some buttered slices of bread. I think it goes well with slightly toasted slices as well.

2) Chutney Cheese sandwich – Butter a slice of bread and spread some of the chutney over it. Top with a slice of cheese or grated cheese, whatever you have at hand. Cover this with another slice of bread.

3) Veggie Delight sandwich – Butter a slice of bread and spread some of the chutney over it. Place some slices of tomato and cucumber on it. Cover this with another slice of bread.

These are just a few sandwich combos to get you started. I’m sure you’ll come up with many more and I’d love to hear about them. And oh yes, how can I forget –

4) With rice – On days of fasting, my mum used to serve us this chutney with a small portion of warm, plain rice to get us through the day.

Check out how I make my Coconut & Coriander Chutney here –

Coconut Coriander Chutney


1 cup freshly grated coconut
1 large bunch of fresh coriander, leaves and tender stalks (About 1 tightly packed cup)
6 small cloves of garlic or 2 large cloves of garlic
3/4″ ginger
1 green/red chilly
1 tbsp sugar
1 walnut sized ball of tamarind, soaked in 1/4 cup water
Salt to taste

Tip all the ingredients except the coconut into a blender or food processor. Blitz to form a puree.

Add the coconut and blitz again. You can leave this spread as coarse or grind it as finely as you like. I like it ground fine but not too fine. You may need to add a dash of water to help the ingredients grind well.

Taste and adjust the flavors, if needed.

Store in a container, refrigerate for up to a week and use as and when needed.

This recipe is linked to –
Mouthwatering Mondays
A Little Birdie Told Me
Tuesdays At the Table
Tuesday Night Supper Club
Delectable Tuesday
Let’s Do Brunch

Bombay Street Food Special #2 – Bhajiyas (Vegetable Fritters)

UPDATE: Edited to add a video recipe using the same great recipe.

For the second edition of the Bombay Street Food Special, I’ve chosen Bhajiyas. These are nothing but vegetable fritters. My mum used to make this for us as an after school snack and we always enjoyed it piping hot with some spicy tomato sauce. Today I’m going to share with you not one, but two, yes two types of bhajiyas and based on these, there’s a whole range of vegetables you can use to increase the variety. Have this with a piping hot cup of tea, there’s nothing better than this on a rainy day.

This one’s for all the potato lovers out there.

Aloo Bhajiyas (Potato Fritters)


2 potatoes, peeled and sliced and kept aside in salted water (Take some water in a bowl, drop in about 1/2 tsp. salt and stir.) till you’re ready to fry.
Oil, for deep frying


For the batter – 
1/2 cup besan (chickpea flour)
Salt, to taste
A pinch of turmeric powder
A pinch or two of red chilli powder
1/4 tsp. ajwain (carom seeds)
Water

Mix all the dry ingredients together and gradually add the water, a little bit at a time, till you get it to a dripping batter. It shouldn’t be too thin, it should coat the back of a spoon. (If its too thick, add a little water, if its too runny, add some more besan). Ensure you are left with a lump free batter.

Heat oil for deep frying.

When the oil is hot, pick up the potato slices from the salted water and drain off any excess water, dip well in batter till its coated and carefully drop it into the oil.

Fry on both sides till it gets a nice golden brown on a medium flame. Drain on some kitchen paper.

Serve hot with some spicy tomato ketchup.

If you have any excess batter, you can either slice up some more potatoes and make some more of these delicious fritters or you can use it for the next kind of fritters. You’ll see how in just a bit.

In the same manner, you can make fritters using cauliflower florets or spinach leaves (dip whole spinach leaves into the batter) instead of the potatoes and the same batter.

Kanda Bhajiyas (Spicy Onion Fritters)


2 onions, sliced
1-2 green chillies, finely chopped
1/2 cup besan (chickpea flour)
Salt, to taste
A pinch of turmeric powder
A pinch or two of red chilli powder
1/4 tsp. ajwain (carom seeds)
Water 
Oil, for deep frying
Mix all the ingredients except the water in a bowl. 
Add water a little at a time to form a medium consistency batter. It shouldn’t be too thick or too thin. 
Heat the oil. Carefully, using a spoon, place spoonfuls of the batter into the oil. Leave to cook, untouched for a few seconds. Then turn them around to ensure even cooking on all sides using a medium flame. 
Once they’ve turned a nice brown, drain on some kitchen paper. Serve hot.
Make sure you don’t burn them, or you’ll be left with bitter-ish fritters.
Serve hot with some tomato ketchup.
You can also add some grated lauki (bottle gourd) to the mix and make some lauki bhajiyas. If using grated lauki or bottle gourd, peel and grate it in advance. Sprinkle some salt and keep aside for about half an hour. Squeeze out all the water from the grated vegetable and add it to the mix.
So there you go, using these two methods, you can make atleast five different types of fritters, using a variety of vegetables.
Go on then, give it a try and tell me what you think of it!
These recipes have been linked to –