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.
Since the salad was so simple, there is very little to do to assemble it. This makes it perfect if you have to make a great big batch to feed a crowd this holiday season. The homemade version was so good, I hardly got a couple of bites of it. The husband, who initially was very skeptical about the simplicity and the ‘no mayo’ nature of the salad, almost wiped the plate clean. So I can tell you that this recipe has been tried and tested and has received the highest seal of approval (well, in my house atleast).
This is not an exact recipe. You simply add the ingredients to your liking and taste and it will turn out fantastic.
Baby Spinach Salad with a Balsamic Glaze
A couple of handfuls of baby spinach (you could also use rocket or any salad greens of your choice)
A few cherry tomatoes
Feta cheese, to taste
Freshly crushed black pepper, to taste
Balsamic glaze, to taste
Place the baby spinach / salad greens on your salad plate.
Halve the cherry tomatoes and place it evenly around the plate.
Crumble some feta cheese on top. (Please note, the feta cheese is salty, so add as much or as little as you’d like. No additional salt in used as the feta seasons the salad.)
Sprinkle a little freshly cracked black pepper on top.
Drizzle a little balsamic glaze over everything to finish it off.
Sit back and look at this gorgeous work or art.
Serve up and enjoy.
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!
Freshly crushed black pepper, to taste
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.
Black Chana Fugad / Black Chana Sukkhe
Soak the dried chickpeas in water overnight (or about 8 hours). Make sure the water is about 2 inches over the chickpeas and use a large bowl because the chickpeas will expand in size.
Drain the water and rinse the chickpeas fresh water and drain again.
Place the chickpeas in the pressure cooker with the water level about 1 inch over the chickpeas. Add 1 tsp of salt and 2 whole dried red chillies (preferable Kashmiri chillies) and pressure cook till tender.
**Every pressure cooker is different so I can’t give you an accurate amount of time it will need to cook. I use a WMF pressure cooker and when the pressure builds to the gentle cooking pressure point, I turn it down to a simmer and leave it to cook for about 4 minutes. If you do not have a pressure cooker, just cook the chickpeas in ample amount of salted water till tender. Use your manufacturers instructions to gauge how long to pressure cook the chickpeas.
Release the pressure and after the pressure has completely died down, carefully open the cooker.
Drain the chickpeas and reserve about a cup of the stock.
To make the fugad –
Heat the oil in a pan on a medium heat.
Add the mustard seeds and let them sputter.
Now add the curry leaves and crushed garlic cloves. (You just want the cloves bruised and popped open, you do not want to mince it or make a paste.)
Now add the onion and saute till soft and translucent.
Add the chilly, coriander, cumin, black pepper and turmeric powders and stir well.
Now add the chopped tomato and stir well. Cook this till the tomato has softened a little.
Add the drained chickpeas and stir well.
Add the tamarind paste gradually and to taste. (You may or may not need all of it, depending on the tartness of the tomato you have used.)
Add a couple of tablespoons of the stock and let it all cook down for a minute or so.
Check for salt and add more, if needed.
Add the grated coconut and stir well. If you want more gravy you could add a little more stock.
We usually have this dish on the dry side, so we let the stock cook down completely.
Once the coconut has cooked for a couple of minutes, take off the heat and serve hot.
This dish goes beautifully with chapatis or rotis.
Sometime in August, we were celebrating a couple of birthdays at work and I decided I was going to bring a batch of these to the celebration. I was a little skeptical of how they would be received, but I shouldn’t have been. They disappeared. Not everyone had an opportunity to grab one, but some clever ones managed to get seconds, maybe thirds 😉 Those that had a chance to try them out, absolutely loved them. So turns out I didn’t have to worry about these at all. I’ve had a few people ask me for the recipe more than once. So I’m actually doing another post for it.
This is one of the easier treats I’ve made and if you have to take something sweet to a potluck, may I recommend making these. They will be an instant hit. Be warned, they are really moreish. You wont be able to stop at one.
(Makes 1 dozen)
200g Oreo cookies (each packet is 137g, I just used 2 packets)
60g cream cheese
200g chocolate (I used 100g milk chocolate and 100g dark chocolate but you could use all milk or all dark or any ratio you prefer)
1/4 cup Candy melts (I used Yellow melts)
Blitz the cookies in a food processor till it reaches a fine crumb state. (If you don’t have a food processor, place the cookies in a ziplock bag and pound on them using a rolling pin.)
Stir in the cream cheese and mix thoroughly.
Roll them into balls. Refrigerate them for an hour so that the firm up.
Chop the chocolate into small pieces. Melt the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl for 30 seconds and stir. Then as needed microwave in 30 second increments stirring inbetween till the chocolate melts. The stirring helps the chocolate melt.
Line a cookie sheet tray with parchment paper.
Dip the cookie balls in the melted chocolate. Using a fork, let the excess chocolate drip off and leave them to set on the parchment lined tray. You can serve them up as they are or decorate them with sprinkles or chocolate then do that at this stage and leave it to set.
If you want to use sprinkles to decorate them, sprinkle them on the truffles just after you dip them in chocolate.
If you want to drizzle some chocolate or candy melts over, microwave them in a microwave safe bowl according to the package instructions. Pour it into an icing bag or a small ziplock bag, snip off the tip of the bag and drizzle the chocolate over the truffles. Leave to set.
This Brinjal pickle is mildly spiced and sweet at the same time and is a wonderful accompaniment to a simple dal and rice or any meal.
Then one year, a dear friend of mine had to visit her aunt who lived an hour and a half away from where we lived and she asked me to go with her. At lunch, she served up a home made brinjal (aka eggplant and aubergine) pickle that I fell in love with. I must have been about 16 years old then, so it never really occurred to me to ask her how she made it, nor did I have access to the tonnes of information that is accessible on the internet in today’s day and age. But over the years, I’d think about that wonderful pickle and often wondered if I would every find something similar again.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago. I got a fantastic deal on some brinjals and picked up a couple of large ones. I originally thought I’d grill it and store it in some olive oil with some herbs. But I ran out of time and it got to the stage where we were to leave for our holiday the very next day. Since grilling and preserving the brinjals in such a short time frame was out of the question, I thought I’d try to make a batch of pickle instead.
I was a little sceptical since I’d never made a pickle before. But I figured I had nothing to lose but trying my hand at it this once. I always thought it was a daunting process. I was amazed at how simple this recipe was. A few spices, a little cooking and a week of maturing. We got back from our holiday to a really fabulous pickle. Very similar to my friend’s aunt’s version. This recipe is a keeper. It’s safe to say that I’m very happy with this first attempt and can’t wait to try out some more as and when we need to replenish our stock. This pickle is mildly spiced and sweet at the same time and is a wonderful accompaniment to a simple dal and rice or any meal really.
Brinjal PickleCourse: Condiments, Pickles & Spice Mixes, Goan Recipes, RecipesDifficulty: Easy
2 large brinjals
20 cloves of garlic (small to medium sized cloves)
About 3 inches of ginger
1 tablespoon kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
4 teaspoons Kashmiri (mild) red chilly powder
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup sunflower oil (or any other neutral oil)
1 1/2 teaspoons mustard seeds
2 sprigs of curry leaves
4 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric powder
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- Prep a glass bottle but thoroughly washing and making sure it is completely dry. (You could use mason jars if you like.) Any moisture on the bottle will result in your pickle going bad. It will get moudly and you wont be able to eat it. I simply place the bottle in a dishwasher and it is perfectly washed and bone dry.
- Cut the eggplant into cubes (about 1/2″).
- Sprinkle the eggplant with 4 tsp of salt and toss well. Set this aside for 2 hours. (You can now prep the rest of your ingredients, while you wait for the eggplant to discard all the excess moisture.)
- Peel and roughly chop the ginger and garlic.
- Using a mixer / food processor, grind the ginger, garlic, fenugreek leaves, cumin seeds, cloves, red chilly powder, turmeric powder and vinegar to a paste.
- After 2 hours, you will notice that the eggplant has released a lot of moisture. Drain all the liquid from the eggplants and gently squeeze the eggplant to get rid of any liquid. You want to be gentle and let the cubes retain their shape but still discard and excess liquid.
- Heat the oil in a large pan. Lower the heat to a medium low. Add the mustard seeds and let them sputter. When they are sputtering, carefully add the curry leaves.
- Add the spice paste and cook on a low to medium heat for 10 minutes. But cooking the paste first, you are left with a mellow flavour and not a sharp tartness of the vinegar. Stir frequently.
- Add the eggplant cubes and cook for another 10 minutes. Stir gently every now and then to mix well, but be careful to not break down the eggplant pieces. After cooking for 10 minutes, the eggplant cubes should be tender but will still somewhat retain their shape and not be too mushy.
- Add the sugar to the pan and cook for another 5 minutes and now you will see the oil separating at the sides of the pan. Taste and add the remaining 1/4 tsp salt, if needed and stir through.
- Take off the heat and spoon the hot pickle into the prepared glass bottles. Cover the bottle and leave it on your counter to cool. (Bottling it when it is still hot creates a vacuum when the mix cools and ensures your pickle has a good shelf life.)
- When it has completely cooled, you can store it in the fridge. I left mine to mature for a week while we were away.
So back to this paratha. This paratha is easier to make than the Gobhi Paratha, because of the filling. This filling has lesser moisture and so is so much easier to roll. I was happy with that. I love the little green peeking through the paratha with the finished product. Try it out and see what you think of it.
Green Peas Parathas
Yields approx. 9-10
For the dough –
2 cups wholewheat flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp olive oil / ghee
Mix the flour and the salt well.
Drizzle the olive oil and mix through.
Bind with a little water at a time to form a soft pliable dough. The dough should not be sticky.
If you find the dough sticky, add some more whole wheat flour. If the dough is too dry and difficult to knead, add a little water.
Knead well, roll into a ball, cover with a damp cloth and keep aside while you make the filling.
For the filling – 1 1/2 cup frozen green peas (you could use fresh too), rinsed, thawed and thoroughly drained
2 birdseye chillies, or to taste
1 tbsp garlic minced
1/4 cup fresh coriander leaves and stalks, chopped
Salt, to taste
1 tbsp ghee (clarified butter) (alternatively you could use olive oil)
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
Into the bowl of a food processor, place the green peas, chillies, garlic, coriander and salt.
Pulse a couple of times. You want a coarse blend and NOT a paste or puree. You want some larger pieces and some smaller bits, much like what you see in the pan in the next picture.
Heat a pan over medium heat and add 1 tbsp ghee.
Add the cumin seeds and let them sputter, being careful to not burn them.
Add the green peas mix.
Stir around and let it cook out for about 2 minutes.
Remove from the pan and let it cool completely.
**Additionally you will need some dry whole wheat flour for dusting your work surface and some ghee to brush over the parathas.
To make the parathas –
Place a thick bottomed pan / tawa on a medium flame and let it heat up.
In the meanwhile, divide the dough and the pea mix into portions.
1) and 2) Dust your work surface with some flour. Roll a ball of dough between your palms to form a smooth ball. Flatten and using a rolling pin roll out to a disc about 6 inches in diameter. While rolling you need to make sure it doesn’t stick to the work surface. Don’t flip the dough over while rolling. (Note that these measures are approx. just to give you an idea of the sizes).
3) Place the disc in the palm of your hand. I am right handed, so I place the little disc on my left palm.
4) Spread a few drops of ghee on it.
5) Place a spoonful on the filling mix in the centre. You don’t want to overfill the parathas or rolling can get messy.
6) Pick up opposite sides of the disc and press together to seal.
7) Gather in the rest of the edges. Press the edges against each other (like a little dumpling) to seal. Then flatten it gently and press the edges down. Here you are trying to roll it into a little ball carefully without smashing it.
8)Dust a little more flour on your work surface, if needed. Place the seam side down and gently start rolling the little ball out.
9) Roll out to about 8 inches wide. Again, you need to make sure it doesn’t stick to the work surface. You can dust with more dry flour if needed. You also don’t want to roll it too thin because the filling will just ooze out.
Place this on a well heated tawa / griddle and roast for a while moving it around till light brown spots appear on one side. Turn over and cook on the other side till light brown spots appear on the other side as well.
To finish off, spoon a few drops of clarified butter on the paratha and spread. Flip over and repeat this on the other side letting it roast for a few seconds after you add the clarified butter to the side.
Serve hot with butter and a mug of hot coffee for a yummy Indian breakfast or brunch option.
This time around, I served this up for dinner with some mildly flavoured yogurt (plain raita) and some sweet mango pickle. (The pickle is called Chunda / Chundo and you should be able to find it in any Indian store.)
These parathas go very well with any Indian style veggies too.
You can leave out the clarified butter if you want an even healthier version, but it does wonders for the taste.
If you have any dough or filling left over, simply refrigerate and use the next day.
You can also make a plain paratha by simply rolling out the dough, spread the ghee, wrap and re-roll and roast it without the filling. This can be served with your favorite jam or cheese or scrambled eggs or an omelette or anything else you’d fancy.
You could serve this up with plain yogurt too.
For the plain raita –
Good quality, unflavoured yogurt
Salt, to taste
Sugar, to taste (I use about 1 tbsp to 1 1/2 cups of yogurt, approx)(This will also depend on how tart the yogurt is. I sometimes use lesser than that)
Red chilli powder
Mix the yogurt, salt and sugar and still thoroughly to incorporate the salt and sugar and beat till you are left with a smooth yogurt.
Place in the serving bowl and lightly spinkle some cumin powder and red chilly powder over.