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Monday, December 30, 2013

Chingudi - Anda Jholo ( Prawn - Egg Curry )

This is a non-vegetarian combo curry that has become my family's favorite. With my husband being partial to prawns and myself being an egg person, a middle path had to be devised to stop us from squabbling over the dinner menu.

With decently sized prawns costing somewhere between rupees 350 to 500, eggs were added as a supplement ( and a tentative experiment ) to add volume and bring down costs. The curry turned out to be hit and an encore has always been around the corner. The use of potatoes is optional and helps to further increase the volume and add more sweetness to the gravy. I personally prefer to mash one or two pieces of the cooked potato into the curry. This help to make a thicker gravy.

As this is my last post for the year, I take this opportunity to thank my readers and friends. This has been quite an eventful year with my blog getting listed in the top 100 (Indiblogger/blogtoplist) and crossing 2,00,000 page views. A Very Happy and Prosperous New Year to All.

Read on for the recipe:

Preparation Time - 40-45 mins

Ingredients - 500 gms prawns (shelled), 4 eggs (boiled & shelled), 1 large potato, 2 large onions, 1 garlic pod, 1 1/2 inch ginger, 2 large tomatoes, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1 tsp poppy seeds, 1 tsp red chilli powder, 1 tsp turmeric powder, 1/5 tsp garam masala powder, 2 dry red chillis, 1 tsp sugar, salt to taste, 5 tbs oil.

Preparation - Clean prawn and add salt and turmeric. Allow to marinate for 15 mins.

Grind the cumin seeds, poppy seeds and red chillis into a powder. Add 1 onion, half of the garlic pod and 1 inch ginger to the same grinder jar. Grind till the paste is smooth.Keep aside.

Make the smooth puree out of the tomatoes and keep aside.

Chop the remaining onion and keep aside. Crush together the remaining garlic pod and ginger. Take care not to make a very fine paste.

Cut the potato into cubes.

Cooking- Heat 1 tbs oil in a pan. Add the marinated prawns and fry till golden. Remove and keep aside.

Add another tbs of oil into the wok. Add the eggs and potato pieces. Fry for 4-5 minutes. Remove and keep aside.

Heat the remaining oil in a wok. Add chopped onion and fry for 1 minute. Add the sugar and allow it to turn brown. Add the crushed garlic-ginger and fry for 2 minutes.

Add the ground masala along with turmeric and chilli powder. Fry for 5 minutes till the raw smell goes off.

Add tomato puree and fry for another 3-4 minutes.

Add 3 cups of boiling water to the wok. Bring to a boil on high flame.

Add fried eggs, potatoes and prawns to the wok. Cover with a lid and allow to boil for 10 minutes or till potatoes are cooked.

Add the garam masala and switch off the flame.

Serve hot with white rice.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Tawa Bara ( Pan fried Vadas )

Crispy vadas or 'bara' as we call them in Odisha are a perennial favorite with almost everyone I have come across.  But they are laden with oil and hence weight watchers/diabetics/people with blood pressure prefer to keep them off their menu.

However, during Manabasa Gurubar a pan-fried version of this delicacy is prepared for the Prasadam. Slightly flavored with curry leaves, green chillis, mango ginger and cilantro, they are a low-calorie treat. Read on for the recipe:

Preparation Time - 8 hours 30 mins ( 4 hours for soaking + 4 hours fermentation )

Ingredients - 2 cups chopa chada biri dali ( black lentil / urad dal ), 2 tbs chopped curry leaves, 2 tbs chopped cilantro, 2-3 chopped green chillis, 1 inch mango ginger (julienne), salt to taste, 4 tbs oil for pan frying.

Preparation - Wash and soak the black lentil for 3-4 hours. 

Drain excess water and transfer to a mixer jar. Grind into a smooth paste with minimum water. Keep aside to ferment for about 4 hours.

Add all the other ingredients except for oil. Mix thoroughly .

Cooking - Heat a frying pan. Drizzle with oil.

Put spoonfuls of batter on the tawa and lightly spread. Drizzle with more oil.

Flip over when cooked on one side.

Cook on the other side till light brown. Remove from the pan and serve hot.

Mango Ginger

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Instant Gajar Halwa (Microwave Method)

Merry Christmas to All !!!!

Holidays are a time to catch up with friends and take a much needed break from work. However one does feel the need to savor/cook up a special meal on such days, especially when a friend decides to drop by. While I usually make a Chicken Biryani and raita for the main course, I used to be stumped when it came to desserts.

But since I discovered this very quick version of my favorite sweet, the Gajar ka Halwa, desserts have been a breeze. No more stirring the milk and carrots till one's arm went numb. And the best part is that it tastes as good as the one made by the traditional method. Read on for the recipe:

Preparation Time - 10 mins ( + time taken to grate the carrots )

Ingredients - 2 cups grated red carrots, 4 tbsp ghee, 1/3 cup whole milk, 4 tbsp milk powder, 3 tbsp sugar, pinch of cardamon, nuts for garnish (optional).

Cooking - Take the ghee in a microwave safe container and heat on high for 10 seconds.

Add the grated carrots and mix well. Microwave on HIGH power for 2 mins. ( Stir once in between )

Add the remaining ingredients and mix thouroughly. Microwave on high for 7-8 minutes . (Stir at interval of 2 mins)

Remove from microwave, garnish with the nuts and serve hot/cold.

Sending this to Cook With Red Event at Shweta's blog Merry Tummy.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Chana Sagaa Tarkari ( Green Channa Leaves Curry )

Chana sagaa is yet another type of leafy green vegetable that is available in the local markets of Odisha only during this season. I have always found local/seasonal vegetables to have their own charm. The anticipation to savor some and then the joy which follows when you spot the first batch at the mandiwala ( seller ) greatly enhance it taste.

This one has a quite distinct flavor and is a little bit chewy ( somewhat like the drumstick leaves ). One has to chop it really fine or it takes forever to cook ( I personally prefer using a pressure cooker ). The preparation is also similar to the Sajana Sagaa Tarkari / Sajana Sagaa Kharada. Read on for the recipe:

Preparation Time - 15-20 mins

Ingredients - 250 gms chana sagaa/saag, 1/2 cup cubed baigana/eggplant, 1/3 cup cubed saru/colocassia, 1 medium sized tomato, 1/3 cup split moong dal, 5-6 garlic flakes, 1/3 tsp mustard seeds, 2 dry red chilli, 2 tsp oil, 1/3 tsp turmeric, salt to taste.

Preparation - Remove and discard the stem ( the thick middle portion) from the chana saag . Finely chop the tender leaves. Chop the tomato into small pieces.

Cooking - Heat 1/2 tsp oil in a wok. Add the chopped tomato and cook till tender.

Dry roast the moong dal on a fryng pan till it gives off a fragrance. Remove from pan, wash and keep aside

Add the chopped saag and other vegetables including tomato to a pressure cooker. Add 2 cups of water along with salt and turmeric.

Cook for 2 whistles on medium flame. Allow steam to escape before opening lid.

Heat the remaining oil in a wok. Add broken red chilli and mustard seeds. When the spluttering is almost over, add crushed garlic flakes.

Pour the contents of the pressure cooker into the wok and let simmer for 2 minutes.

Serve hot with white rice/rotis.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Dhanu Mua

Dhanu Mua is the special prasad offered on Dhanu Sankranti. It is made from 'paga' khai, which is a form of puffed paddy rice mixed with cashew nuts, coconut slices, ghee and jaggery.

While paga khai or ukhuda is very commonly consumed/used as prasad in most Odiya households, the Dhanu Mua is considered a delicacy.

The most famous shop selling this is Baiya Kora Khai / Baiya Khai Ghara which is situated in Old Town, Bhubaneshwar. The Kora Khai sold here is also offered as a prasad at the Lingaraj Temple.

[ Image taken from Wiki ]

Buy it online Here.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Memorable Puri Trip

I am back from a short trip to Puri. While it is difficult to skip a visit on every trip back home (Bhubaneshwar), this was the first time we stayed there overnight. And it turned out to be quite happening (though not in the sense that we normally use it). And as an added bonus it was not as crowded as usual . The Phailin scare seems to have driven/kepy away many of the tourists who throng Puri every year (mostly during December).

As the new developed stretch of road connecting Bhubaneshwar-Puri is almost complete, we travelled by this route which sadly bypassed the Pipili village. While this village is famous for its applique work and a treat for the eyes, we later discovered that the same stuff can be bought at cheaper rates on the Puri beach /beachfront stalls. It took us a little more than an hour to reach Puri with no stops in between. However foodies can make a pit stop at Chandanpur and refuel themselves on the local specialty, Chudaghasa- Dalma. For the religiously inclined, a stop at the Bata-Mangala temple is a must.

Once we reached there by noon, we directly headed for the holiday home where we were booked. After a quick round of refreshments and a hour long nap, we headed for the beach. Rows of shops selling Khaja/Pheni jostled for space with the ones selling Sambalpuri sarees/bedsheets/kurtas/kurtis. As we inched closer to the beach, these were replaced with shops selling all varieties of junk jewelry and show pieces made from conch/shells.

[The above picture was taken at Bada Danda. One can see rows of make-shift stalls selling Khaja, the primary prasad of the residing deity Lord Jaganaath.]

[ Shops like this selling a variety of chenna (cottage cheese) sweets are to be found all over Puri, especially near the Jaganaath temple. One can spot Rasagulla, Rabdi, Rasabaali, Chenna jhili , Chenna Poda and last but not least, the eminently unforgettable Khira. Tender cheese balls that have been soaking in Rabdi, these just taste out of this world. I know that I have been sprouting a lot about eating healthy stuff, but am making an exception on this vacation ;)]

On reaching the beachfront, one was greeted with the sight of tourists frolicking among the waves. The nice golden sands felt warm but just a little bit dirty. Hence we settled down on one of the many benches near to a tea stall ( One can also rent/lease a chair for rupees 10, but be sure to ask the price beforehand). Within a span of half an hour, we had been approached by vendors selling myriad stuff. From religious books, handbags, show pieces, pearls to edibles like Jhal Mudhi and Chana Jhal, everything could be bought for a small price. Last but not the least, the animal rides also deserve a mention. Nicely decorated camels and horses are a hit with most of the children ( OK OK...I make an exception for those adults who have kept alive the child in them ).

[ People lounging on the beach. The long shadows on the sand indicate a late afternoon, the time of the day when this snap was taken.]

After a good two hours on the beach, we headed back to our room for a change and some snacks. The latter accomplished (around eight in the evening ), we marched towards the Jaganaath Temple-Bada Danda. Now this is one stretch that witnesses a sea of humanity ( and our ubiquitous holy cows too!! ) at any time of the day (and till very late in the night too). This is the right place to buy brass stuff (decorative and functional both) and images of Balabhadra-Subhadra-Jaganaath. If you like to sample some fresh chenna, head to one of the many vendors squatting on the road and selling pots of still warm chenna.

Once we entered the temple premises, we duly made the rounds of all the deities. Apart from the siblings Jaganaath-Balabhadra-Subhadra, Bimala, Mahalaxmi, Sakhi gopala, Nilamadhaba and Kanchi Ganesh all have temples dedicated to them. After visting all these temples, we made our way to the Anda Bazaar, the market where all kinds of prasad is sold. This is where we discovered the 'Tanka Torani', a delicious mix of rice water, lemon juice, curry leaves, ginger, green chilli and salt.
( With no cameras being allowed inside the complex, I was unable to capture any of the above mentioned places )

This was the discovery of the day. Matar-Pani or a steaming hot hot hot yellow peas soup. A strictly no onion no garlic preparation, the watery gravy of the yellow peas is flavoured with lots of green chillis, tamarind, coriander leaves, mint leaves and the black salt. Check the photo below to see the loads of green chillis (near the vendor's left hand) that go into this.

Once we returned to our home stay, we were welcomed with hot 'Abhada'. This is the special prasadam that is offered to Lord Jaganaath. Check the Arwa anna, dali, besara and saaga tarkari in the earthen pots below. A special thanks to our caretaker for making the arrangements.

This kind of meal has that special element that is so typical of Oriya food. It is made to satiate both the body and the soul. Tired with all the travel and walking around, it had an immediate soporific effect on us. Hence we retired for the day to recharge ourselves for more exploration/shopping on the second day.

[ To be continued......]

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

PhulKobi-Rohi Macchar Jholo ( Cauliflower & Fish Curry )

A yummy medley of fish and vegetables, this curry was born out of necessity. While typical oriya curries like Muhura and Chenchedda liberally incorporate vegetables in a non-vegetarian preparation, the individual identity of each ingredient is somewhat lost. A slight variation of the typical 'Masala dia Maccha Jholo', one can add cauliflower/pointed gourd/okra/eggplant to enhance its flavor. Read on for the recipe:

Preparation Time - 30-40 mins

Ingredients - 4 pieces of Rohu/Bhakura/Mirkali fish, 2 cups of cauliflower florets, 2 medium sized potatoes, 2 ripe tomatoes, 1 tsp turmeric, 1/4 tsp cumin powder, 1 tsp red chilli powder, 2 pinch cinnamon powder, salt to taste, 8 tbs oil.
For the masala paste - 1 large onion, 2/3 inch ginger, 7-8 garlic flakes, 1-2 dry red chilli.

Preparation - Marinate the fish with salt and turmeric. Cut the potato into long pieces.
Grind all the ingredients for the masala paste till smooth.
Grind the tomatoes into a puree.

Cooking - Heat a tawa/frying pan. Add 2 tbs oil.
Add the fish pieces and fry on both sides till light brown.

Heat 4 tbs of oil in a wok. Add the cauliflower florets and potato pieces along with salt and turmeric.
Stir fry till semi cooked. Remove from the wok and keep aside.

Add more oil into the wok if needed. Add the masala paste and fry till raw smell goes off.

Add chilli powder, turmeric and cumin powder. Stir fry for 1-2 mins. Add the tomato puree and fry till it starts to leave oil.

Add the fried cauliflower and potatoes. Mix with the masala paste and fry for another 4-5 minutes.

Add 3 cups of boiling water. Bring to boil and simmer for 2 minutes.

Add the fish pieces and cook covered for 10-12 minutes. Sprinkle the cinnamon powder and switch off the flame/heat source.

Serve hot with rice/rotis.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Kobi Pakudi ( Gobi Pakora )

Piping hot pakoras served over cups of tea are an instant hit at any gathering of close friends. Made with tender cabbage leaves, this one is a winter special. Read on for the recipe:

Preparation Time - 20 mins

Ingredients - 2 cups finely shredded cabbage, 1 cup besan ( gram flour ), 1 large onion, 3-4 green chillis, 5 tbs chopped cilantro, 1/2 cup red chilli, 1/5 tsp garam masala, a pinch of baking powder, salt to taste, oil for deep frying.

Preparation - Take all the ingredients except for oil in a mixing bowl. Add sufficient water to make a thick batter ( If the batter is runny pakoras will soak up more oil ).

Cooking: Heat oil in a deep wok. Take spoonfuls of the batter and put into the hot oil. Do not put in more than 6-7 spoonfuls at a time.

Fry on all sides till crisp and light brown. Remove and put on paper towels to soak up the excess oil.

Repeat the process for remaining batter.

Serve hot with ketchup/tomato chutney.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Chenna Matar (Odisha style Matar Paneer)

Green peas are very much in season. Yes, they are harvested in the winters and frozen for use throughout the year. Most of us who shop at supermarkets tend to miss out on these details and assume that most vegetables are harvested and hence available throughout the year. Here is a delicious curry prepared from fresh green peas. A variant of the Matar-Paneer that most people from North are really fond of, this one substitutes the Panner cubes with fried 'chenna balls'. However I am not naming it 'Chenna-Matar' instead of 'Matar-Chenna' as the Chenna turned out to be the star of this home production. The soft succulent 'melt in the mouth' balls floating in an light aromatic gravy interspersed with tender green peas make for an unforgettable gastronomic journey. Read on for the recipe:

Preparation time - 50 mins

Ingredients - whole milk ( 1 litre ), sour curd ( 1/2 cup ), maida ( 1 tsp, heaped ), finely chopped onion ( 1 no., large ), shelled green peas ( 2 cups ), ginger garlic paste ( 1 1/2 tsp ), tomato puree ( 6 tbs ), whole spices ( 1 cardamon, 2 cloves, 2 inch long cinnamon stick, 1 bay leaf ), soy sauce ( few drops, optonal), sugar ( 1 tsp ), turmeric ( 1/2 tsp ), red chilli powder ( 1 tsp ), cumin powder ( 1 tsp), coriander powder ( 1 tsp ), salt to taste, sufficient oil for shallow/deep frying.

Preparation -

To prepare chenna - Bring milk to a boil. Add the sour curd and wait for a few minutes till the milk soilds separate from whey. The whey should have a clear apperance at this point. If not add more curd and boil for another 5 mins.

Once all the solids separate, strain the chenna using a fine cloth or even a strainer with very fine mesh. Allow to stand for sometime till excess water is drained.

Take the chenna in a vessel/mixing bowl and add the maida. Crumble and knead the chenna to remove lumps and it just comes togather into a soft dough ( takes abt 5-6 mins, do not overdo the kneading ). Pinch small lumps out of the dough and shape into balls. These balls can either be shallow fried or deep fried.

Cooking: Heat sufficient oil in a wok. Put one ball into the wok and test if it holds togather. If yes, add the remaining balls into the wok and fry them to a brown color on medium heat. (If it starts to crumble/break, add little more maida to the chenna dough and knead for another 2-3 mins.)

Once the balls are fried, keep them aside and drain the excess oil from the wok.

Put the whole spices into the remaining oil in the wok and stir fry for 30 seconds. Add the chopped onion and saute on low flame till light brown ( abt 6-7 mins to allow the sugar in the onion to start caramelizing ). At this stage add the sugar and allow it to melt. Once the sugar melts, it gives a deep brown color to the onion. Sprinkle the soy sauce at this point.

Aded ginger garlic sauce and stir fry for 2-3 minutes till its raw smell goes away. Pour in the tomato puree and cook for another 2 minutes.

Add green peas and stir fry for 7-8 minutes.

Now add turmeric, chilli powder, cumin powder, coriander powder and salt. Roast the masalas for 1-2 mins.

Add about 2-3 cups of water and bring to boil. Allow water to reduce to 2/3rd.

Put in the fried chenna balls and simmer on medium flame for 2 minutes. Cover with lid and switch off the flame. Allow to stand for 5-10 minutes.

Serve Hot.

Sending this to Cooking With Green:

Last Manabasa Gurubar of 2013

Today is the last Thursday of the Oriya month of Margasira and the last Manabasa Gurubar. Below are some glimpses of the delicious spread we prepared for Goddess Lakshmi:

The 'Khatuli' on which Lakshmi is worshipped. One can catch a glimpse of the orange, radish (mula) and banana offered to her.

An elaborate lunch buffet is laid out. Kanika, kosala sagaa bhajja and manda in the top left corner, Dalma in the bottom left corner, Aau-Tomato khatta towards the top right corner and the Chaula kheeri in the center.

Last but not the least. A bowl of 'Dahi Pakhala' seasoned with green chillis, curry leaves and mustard seeds. Bita luna (black salt), Ambakasiya adaa (mango ginger) and jeera-lanka gunda (roasted cumin-chilli powder) add to the flavour.

For the 'Mana Ujapana' or the evening prasad:

Manda Pitha and Budha Chakuli

Tawa fried Bara....(a low calorie varient of the deep fried fritters)!!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Potali Pitha

Potali Pitha is traditional prasad or offering at the Shri Baladev Ji Mandir in Kendrapara. If you are a nature lover of sorts, then you must be aware of this nondescript district of Odisha. It houses the famous Bhitarkanika National Park, home to the endangered Saltwater crocodiles and quite a few other species of animals. This region is also home to a lush and thriving mangrove population, which covers an area of 650 square kilometers on the delta formed by rivers Brahmani and Baitarini.

This was the first time I got a chance to savor this delicacy and i quite liked it. It has quite a familiar flavour ( sweet with notes of edible camphor) that most of our pithas ( especially ones made for prasadam ) have. More specifically, I would say it tastes like a cross between a sweet atta chakuli and a kakara. While I haven't tried making it at home, I got the recipe from one of the regular visitors to this temple ( the same person who got the Pithas for us ). Read on for the recipe ( Loved the original packaging very much...have clicked the picture in the same...a leaf basket ):

For the pancakes (outer layer of the Pitha):
2 cups maida ( all purpose flour )
1 tsp ghee (warm)
a pinch of salt

For the stuffing:
1 cup chenna,
1 cup freshly grated coconut,
5-6 tsp sugar
1 pinch of camphor
2 green cardamon powdered
2 tsp ghee

2-3 tbs whole wheat flour
2-3 tbs molasses (this is a form of liquid jaggery)
More ghee for frying.

Preparation - Take the maida, salt and warm ghee in a mixing bowl. Add enough water to make a pancake batter. Mix carefully to remove lumps if any.

Mix all the ingredients for stuffing (except for ghee in another bowl). Keep aside.

Mix the whole wheat flour, molasses and a little water in a separate bowl. Keep aside.

Cooking - Heat a wok. Add 2 tsp ghee. Add the stuffing mixture and roast on medium flame for 2-3 minutes. Remove from flame and allow to cool down.

Heat a tawa or frying pan. Rub in a little ghee for greasing the surface.

Take a ladle of the maida batter and pour on the tawa. Roll the tawa or use the ladle to spread the batter evenly into a circle about 6 inches in diameter. Drizzle with more ghee.

Spread some of the stuffing on one half of circle. Fold the circle into half and apply gentle pressure to close the pitha ( Or one can use some of the batter as a glue ).Flip over and cook for another 1-2 minutes.

Remove from flame and allow to cool down a bit. Make more such stuffed pancakes with the remaining batter and stuffing.

Now dip each pancake/pitha in the wheat flour-molasses mixture and place on a heated tawa/frying pan. Drizzle and fry each side with more ghee to get a lovely deep brown color.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Atta Nimiki (Whole wheat namkeen)

School vacations were such carefree days. Growing up in a small town untouched by materialism had its own benefits. One did not have to worry about taking a loan to party everyday. The neighbourhood gupchup-wallah, chat-wallah and chowmein stalls were our perennial hangouts. Even a coke was quite rare those days and was mostly served to the baraatis (bride-groom's guests). An occasional ice-cream seemed heavenly even though Kwality-Walls and Dinshaws were the only brands available.

With wide open spaces, parks and very less traffic on the roads, most of the day was spent having fun outdoors. Whatever little time was spent being indoors, it was considered snacking time. With all the physical activity going on, we would be hungry even after breakfast/lunch/dinner. With no calories being counted (How i miss those blissful days !!),fried stuff like Nimiki, Murukku, Karanji and Gajja were consumed by the kilos (Yes, you read it right so don't pinch urself). Most people would prepare such stuff by the kilos and keep it in large tins for days ( even months ). My grandmother and mother were no exception to this rule. No outside snacks were entertained on a daily basis. While most of the work was done by them, I pitched in my two cents of effort everytime. I guess those days installed the passion for cooking in me ( who is otherwise an outdoor person ).

This recipe is a trip down memory lane. I am doing this post in remembrance of my grandmother who even though severely hindered by arthritis, was a great cook. She made the best Arissa pitha and Maccha Patua I have ever had. And she hated everything refined. She used to call it fake or duplicate. She insisted on using whole wheat and jaggery ( instead of Maida and sugar )in most of the preparations. Hence we were brought up liking the 'Atta Nimiki' instead of the regular Maida Nimiki that everyone patronizes. Read on for the recipe:

Preparation time - 30-35 mins

Ingredients - 2 cups whole wheat flour (Atta), 1/2 cup oil, 1/2 tsp kala jeera, salt to taste, water to make a stiff dough, oil for deep frying.

Preparation - Take the flour in a wide vessel. Drizzle warm oil and salt.  Rub between fingers for 4-5 minutes. The amount of oil used should be such that if a fistful of flour is taken and held in the hand for a few seconds, it should retain its shape (somewhat). At this point mixture will start to look crumbly like bread crumbs.

Add just enough water to knead into a stiff dough. Allow to stand covered for 1 hour.

Cooking: Heat oil of deep frying in a wok.

Pinch some of the dough, make a ball out of it and roll into a thick circle. Cut the circle into small pieces and add one piece to the hot oil. If oil is hot enough, it will immediately rise to the top without turning dark. If it sinks, oil needs to be hotter and if it turns dark very soon, oil is over-heated.

Fry a handful of the pieces in a single batch, turning at regular intervals for even cooking. Remove and keep aside when done.

Repeat with the remaining dough. Allow to cool down completely, transfer and store in an airtight container. (The nimikis tend to turn crispier as they cool down .)

Munch on a few as and when you wish.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Caramel Custard

Caramel Custard is one gorgeous looking pudding which can also be quite low on the calorie meter. The soft layer of caramelized or slightly burnt sugar on top lends it a somewhat bitter yet distinct taste (quite like a tofee but little bitter ). A sure shot winner when served at sit down dinners, this one is surprisingly easy to prepare ( and ridiculously low-budget too ).

While the original calls for the use of eggs, I used the Brown & Polson Custard powder ( Vanilla flavour ) which is an egg-free formula. And as my readers already know, I am not into fancy molds/ramekins. So, I opted for a simple steel bowl or katori ( one can find them in all indian homes ) and it turned out quite well. With a whole lot of designs cropping up in the steel dinnerware, one can easily find square, oval or even flower shaped katoris.

I opted a pressure cooker ( with a stand inside ) for cooking the pudding. If you do not have one of these stands, use a raised steel/iron mesh ( the kind that is used to avoid putting a hot kadhai/vessel directly on the table ). Read on for the recipe:

Preparation Time - 30 mins

Ingredients - 3 cups boiled milk, 6 tbs milk powder, 3 tsp custard powder, 6 tsp sugar, 1/2 cup sugar for caramelizing, butter for greasing the bowls/molds.

Preparation - Lightly grease the bowls with butter. Dissolve the custard powder in 1/2 cup slightly warm milk.

Cooking - Heat the 1/2 cup sugar in a thick bottomed pan on a low heat. Stir at regular intervals. It will turn melt and turn golden brown. You can allow it to turn a few shades darker ( if you like a little bitterness ) but remove it from flame when it is just short of starting to smoke.

Pour into the bowls and swirl gently to cover the bottom of the bowls. Allow to stand and solidify .

Bring milk to a boil in a saucepan. Remove some of the milk to another cup, add milk powder, mix well and pour back into the saucepan. Add sugar and dissolve.

Pour the milk-custard powder mix into the saucepan slowly with continuous stirring. Cook for 3-4 minutes till it thickens. Carefully adjust heat to avoid burning the bottom contents of the pan. Remove from flame and pour into the bowls/molds.

Put a stand inside a wide mouthed pressure cooker. Place the bowls inside it and pour water gently so that the bowls are half immersed. Remove the weight and put on the lid of pressure cooker.

Cook on medium flame for 15 minutes. Switch off burner and allow to stand for another 5-10 minutes.

Open lid and remove the bowls. Insert a knife in the center and if it comes out clean, pudding is done. Else cook for another 4-5 minutes.

To unmold, run a knife around the sides of the bowl. Place a plate on top of each bowl and turn over carefully. The pudding will come out nice and wobbly. Pour the remaining caramel sauce over it.

Serve right away or chill if for 2-3 hours before serving.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Oats Khara Bhath

Khara Bhath or 'Masala Upma' is very popular South Indian breakfast. It is easy to make and good to eat. I used to make it and carry it for office lunch/breakfast at least twice or thrice in a week. As i used to put in lots of veggies and quite less oil, it packed a low calorie but nutritious meal. While it tastes great when hot, it is still good to eat after a few hours ( Read COLD ).

But as I have turned into a great fan of whole grains these days, I could not resist adding by favorite whole grain...Aka..OATS to this recipe. Combining semolina with oats in the ratio of 1:1 makes this dish even more wholesome and appealing to weight watchers / health conscious folks. Read on for the recipe:

Preparation Time : 25 mins

Ingredients: 1 cup semolina, 1 cup oats, 1 medium sized onion, 1 green chilli, 1 sprig curry leaves, 1/4 cup green peas, 1 small tomato, 1/5 tsp garam masala powder powder, 1/5 tsp coriander powder, 1/4 tsp red chilli powder,  a pinch of turmeric, 1/2 tsp kasuri methi, 1/5 tsp mustard-cumin seeds, 2 tsp ghee/oil, salt to taste, a dash of lemon/pinch of amchur (optional).

Preparation - Chop the onion and tomato into small pieces. Keep aside.
Make 2-3 small slits in the green chilli.

Cooking - Heat 1 tsp oil in a pan. Add the semolina and oats to the pan. Roast for 6-7 minutes till the semolina gives off a light fragrance. Remove and keep aside.

Add the remaining oil to the same wok. Add curry leaves, green chilli and the mustard-cumin seeds.

Once the seeds almost stop spluttering, add the onion and fry till translucent.

Add the green peas and chopped tomato ( use can also use veggies like carrots and beans ). Stir fry for 3-4 minutes.

Add all the powdered masalas and cook for another 2 minutes.

Add 3 1/2 cups of boiling water along with salt. Add the roasted semolina-oats mix into the boiling water, mix well and cook on medium flame till all water is absorbed.

Add the lemon juice/amchur.

Serve hot with a coconut chutney.

Note : One can also add a fistful of cashews/peanuts to this recipe. But I have avoided the same as it was intended to be low in calories.

Monday, December 2, 2013


'Gulgula' or fried sweetened wheat balls are one of the dying varieties of Oriya street food/sweets. These were very popular and much in demand not too long back but have lost to the increasing popularity of other fast food items. However these remain a personal favorite and my Mom made a batch for me last week. While most of the vendors sell lemon sized balls of Gulgula ( which resemble the Mysore Bonda ), I dig these tiny bite sized ones . Read on for the recipe:

Preparation Time : 20 mins

Ingredients : 1 cup wheat flour, 1 very ripe banana, 1/3 cup grated coconut, 3-4 tsp sugar, pinch of cardamon, pinch of edible camphor, pinch of baking powder, 2 tsp semolina ( this is optional and Mom had used it as the batter had turned a little watery ), 1/3 cup milk, oil for deep frying.

Preparation: Take the ripe banana in a mixing bowl. Mash it well, add coconut, sugar and milk. Add the wheat little by little and make into a smooth batter with a heavy spoon.

Add cardamon powder, edible camphor and baking powder.

Cooking : Heat  the oil a deep wok.  Drop 5-6 spoons of the batter at a time and fry on all sides till deep brown. Remove and place on paper towels.

Repeat for the remaining batter.

Serve hot or cold.

Note - For better presentation( and if you are not feeling lazy ), serve with slices of banana, a drizzle of honey and a scoop of  vanilla icecream/whipped cream.

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