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Saturday, November 27, 2021

Badi Bahaghara : A unique Prathamastami ritual from Odisha

Waking up an hour earlier than usual, I carefully pulled back the curtains to catch a glimpse of the sunrise. Only to be greeted by a thick curtain of fog. The third instance this week. I stifled a yawn and proceeded to the kitchen. Putting the water to boil, I checked on the batter that had been set out on the kitchen counter to ferment overnight. The dal for making the 'Badi' was soaked even as the tea leaves were brewing. Grabbing a cup of tea I mentally ticked off the tasks one by one. It promised to be one tough day but I was ready to take on the world. Powered by the brew. And perhaps bolstered by nostalgia. 

Prathamastami or the festival of the eldest child. A unique Odia festival that felicitates the eldest child regardless of gender and grooms him/her for continuing the family name and shouldering the responsibilities that come bundled with it. A day that is synonymous with the unique aroma of the turmeric leaves as steaming 'Enduri pithas' are doled out in every house. A day that heralds the 'badi paka' season. Marked with a very unique 'badi bahaghara' ritual in my mother's family. Perhaps a modification of the ancient practice of offering the first harvest of 'biri' or black lentil to the Gods. Or a reminder of the important position held by these sun-dried lentils when it comes to Odia marriage rituals. Some communities also follow a similar ritual called the 'Badi Anukula'. It sanctions the use of freshly harvested black lentils which are crucial to churning the best quality 'badi'. I distinctly recollect the rows of pristine white 'badi' drying in the sun in the backyards or on rooftops on this day. A single row would be markedly different from the others. Adorned with a dot of vermillion, a sprig of 'doob grass', and a small flower or petal tucked into each badi. An image that has stayed with me for all these years along with the sight and smells of the steaming 'Haladi patra pitha' even though the rituals of 'badi anakula' or 'badi bahaghara' are not  a part of the traditions followed in my in-law's place. 

When I look back at those days, I can very well relate to the wisdom that calls for the usage of turmeric and Gajapimpali leaves for steaming food. To ensure maximum benefit, the '√Čnduri pitha' is made and consumed for 7 days in a row and then on the eighth day, the vessel used for steaming', an earthen pot called 'Athara', is discarded. The simple act of reiteration to used to drive home the message. Studies have established that these leaves have anti-inflammatory and carminative properties. Ayurveda has always prescribed them as a remedy for  'Vata-dosha'. 
The below images shows the different types of 'Enduri pitha' prepared using the different kinds of leaves. 
( From left to right : Gajapimpali patra enduri, Haladi patra enduri, Saal patra enduri')

Similarly, 'badi anakula' also signals the onset of winter and clear skies which create ideal conditions for making badi. In fact, the entire stash of badi is made during these months and stored for usage throughout the year. But as a child, I associated the day with new dresses, 'enduri pitha and mutton', and 'badi bahaghara'.

'Jau Kandhei' / 'Lakha kandhei' or Lacquer Dolls, a traditional art form still practiced by the Shankhari and Jaura communities of  Balasore, Odisha. These are made from terracotta and then painted with lacquer using a few basic colors. While one can find different kinds of  'jau kandhei' like birds, animals, fruits, vegetables, and even kitchen utensils,  the most popular ones are the bride and groom dolls which are always sold or gifted in a pair. They are symbolic of marital bliss and as such gifted to newly married couples. While the origin of this art form is not documented, some researchers have pointed to the similarity with the Dhangra-Dhangiri clay dolls worshipped by the primitive tribes of Mayurbhanj. This seems a possibility given the physical proximity of the regions. But then, the striking similarity in the forms and the colors used in painting the dolls hint at an association with Jagannatha culture. Whatever be it's origin, this is one art form of Odisha that needs to be revived and put on the world map. 

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Khesari Dal : A victim of propaganda ?

I first read about Khesari dal in the textbooks in school. It was the villain who seduced the poor into consuming it in large amounts and then promptly turned them into miserable cripples. Sadly, I believed every word of it. Such was my faith in the written word. But then everything comes with an expiry date. Or at least an upgrade patch. Much needed to fill those gaps in the software or in the context of real life, the half-baked textbook knowledge religiously fed to unassuming schoolkids. 

The Khesari dal's notoriety as a 'paralysis inducing' ingredient is only second to its disrepute as a cheap adulterant used to bulk up more expensive pulses. And it has actually been found to have been added to everything from toor dal to 'besan' to even the 'sattu'. But then not every part of the world eyes it with suspicion or explicitly bans its cultivation and sale. Lathyrus Sativus is an important crop in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, and Ethiopia for reasons that range from meeting the protein requirement of the poorer sections of society to its ability to fix nitrogen in the soil and also its usage as animal fodder. Though it was banned for sale in India in the year 1961, states like Bengal, parts of Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand, and Chhattisgarh have continued to use this dal for human consumption. And importantly, Maharashtra has overturned the ban on the cultivation and sale of this dal based on the research findings of a Nagpur-based nutrition scientist Shantilal Kothari. His work makes for an engaging though lengthy read.

While one cannot deny the presence of the neurotoxin ODAP in Khesari dal, it is shown to have an adverse effect only when consumed in excess amounts, almost skewing the normal carb to protein ratio of a regular Indian meal . Medical texts state the 400 g of Lathyrus consumed daily over a period of 3 months or more may increase the risk of Lathyrism. While such instances have occurred during periods of drought or crop failure, the resilient character of this legume that makes it an asset during such periods. It can grow in almost any kind of soil and provides a good amount of protein even when consumed in moderation.

As per Ayurveda, 'Khesari dal' is 'cold and heavy' with laxative properties and hence should be consumed accordingly. For example, if one visualizes a proper Indian meal, a decent chunk of it is the carbohydrates that provide the most calories. Then comes a bowl of dal, one or two servings of vegetables which change according to the season, maybe a chutney or a pickle, even papad or badi. All of it together makes the meal complete. There is no concept of 'Ati' or excess. A fact reiterated by some of the families who cultivate this dal in Odisha. All of them use it occasionally and in small amounts. Mostly for making a snack called 'piaji' (not to be confused with the onion extravaganza by the same name) and then very rarely for a regular dal to be eaten with rice. Research literature points to the usage of the green pods as a snack very much like the Bengal gram. 

While there is ongoing research to develop newer cultivars with lower ODAP levels, one can still consume them in smaller amounts as the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. It is known to strengthen the bones, balance Pitta-Kapha dosha, reduce inflammation, enhance potency, and also stimulate the appetite.

A side by side comparison of Tuvar(tur)side-by-side and Khesari dal to help in identifying the latter. While Tuv has a rounded shape, the latter has a rather irregular shape and yellowish-orange color. 

Sharing a quick recipe for the 'Piaji' or 'Dal vada' I made with it -

Khesari Dal Piaji/ Vada

Ingredients -

1/2 cup Khesari dal

1 small onion (finely chopped)

1/2 inch ginger (crushed)

1-2 green chili(crushed)

1/2 cup chopped greens (coriander/tender mustard greens/moringa/radish greens)

salt to taste

200 ml oil for frying 

Preparation - Wash and soak the dal for 1-2 hours. Drain off all water. 

Transfer to a chutney jar and give a quick pulse. Add the rest of the ingredients except oil and give another pulse. The paste should be a little finer than the coarse texture we prefer for Channa dal when making dal vada.

Heat the oil. Don't get it smoking though. Add small dollops of the paste. Do not crowd the frying vessel at any time and keep the oil at a constant temperature. 

Turn it a few times and remove it when it starts to acquire a light brown color.

Serve immediately.

The remaining 'piaji' can be refrigerated and added to a curry. 

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Janta Ruti : Just do'ugh' it !!

Sometime back in 2013 when I was experimenting with foods meant for my ever-hungry toddler, I discovered the 'Janta ruti', a kind of bread popular in Odisha. It was tasty, easy enough to chew, and light on the stomach too. Plus it made a perfect pair with the boiled veggies (read 'Santula' minus the 'chunka' or tempering). It became a part of our menu and stayed that way. And incredibly, it's most salient feature remained overlooked. 

But everything changed a few months back when I was reading up on research papers about gluten. Or rather how to minimize the formation of this unavoidable protein that has been haunting quite a few people. Honestly, going the sourdough route or switching to 'Gluten free' flour isn't an option for everyone. Or even switching to 'ghar ke chakki ka atta' or 'home processed flour' if I have to put it in the Indian context.

But why this growing dissent with 'gluten' which has always been present in wheat? Gluten intolerance may also have become fairly common because of changes in the way wheat is processed. Earlier, wheat was harvested, shade dried, washed down, and sun-dried before making it to the local chakki where it was ground and distributed. But increased demand has led to manufacturers bypassing all the steps between threshing and processing. Most of the packaged wheat is not properly shade dried and sun-dried - the two processes that broke down gluten (or rather glutenin as gluten comes into the picture only when after the flour is hydrated ) into smaller particles.

Preferences also play a role here. Demand for white-looking bread or 'roti' has led to the market being flooded with certain varieties like durum which have higher gluten content in comparison to varieties like 'Emmer' or 'Kaphali' which have lower gluten but are much darker in color. In spite of this selective breeding, the gluten content has remained constant over the last 120 years, although the composition of the gluten has changed slightly. While the proportion of Gliadin fell by around 18 percent, the proportion of Glutenin rose by around 25 percent. 

While it is tough to dismiss the external factors, the formation of gluten has a lot to do with how the dough is manipulated. Everything from the amount (and temperature) of water added to the dough, to the kneading technique (damn!! there are so many of them) and duration of kneading to the usage of shortening agents( term used for fats that coat the gluten components and prevent them from forming lengthy chains resulting in a flaky crumbly texture) plays a definite role.  

Somewhere in the middle of processing it all, it struck me. I was seeing the 'Janta ruti' through the lens of my newly acquired understanding. It ticked all the boxes. Temperature, hydration, and fat. The boiling water denatures the wheat proteins, limiting the formation of gluten. This makes the dough soft but not stretchy(read 'hard to tear'). Second, the hot water gelatinizes the starch allowing it to absorb more water. This makes the dough smooth and supple and a lot easier to work with. As a bonus, it stays soft long after it has cooled down. The fat, though in a limited amount, prevents the linkage of gluten strands and ensures that the dough doesn't turn sticky. Hence one ends up with a dough that is easy to work with and the end product (roti/paratha) stays soft and fresh for a longer duration. Best part? It is that it is just so much easier on the digestive system (and the jaws too).

Check the recipe of Janta Ruti - HERE

Friday, November 19, 2021

Dahi Chenna : The lesser known Chenna from Odisha

Dahi Chenna, the cheese procured from the spent curds after butter has been extracted. Pinkish brown-hued, chewy, and with a slight note of sourness, it acquires a unique character by virtue of fermentation and the hours of slow cooking done on a wooden fire. A uniqueness that is apparent in the very first bite. It's the complexity of its flavor that sets it apart from the more easily available 'Dudh Chenna' or cheese obtained simply by splitting the milk. 

Interestingly, this was one ingredient I discovered by taste rather than sight when I unsuspectingly bit into a 'Chenna Manda' at a relative's place. Perplexed by the 'chenna' stufffing that did not have that underlying 'milky-ness' to it, I had asked the host about the ingredients of the stuffing and learned something new. A lot of years have passed since then. I did not get another opportunity to taste it until last week when a relative came from my in-laws native bearing gifts of homemade ghee and the most delicious 'Dahi Chenna'. 

Most of it was turned into 'Chenna Kakara' as expected and the last bit of it was mixed with parched rice for breakfast. Induced into a state of nostalgia, the kind of which is mostly acquired by good food, the MIL reminisced her childhood days when 'Dahi chenna' was easily available and almost a breakfast staple for most Brahmin families. Made possible by the easy availability of good quality milk and free firewood procured by backyards trees and coconut and palm groves, it seemed the best way to make use of the huge quantities of spent curds produced at home. But with firewood becoming more and more inaccessible and adulterated milk on the rise, it is becoming increasingly rare for people to make it at home. Seasoned 'Gudiyas' or the 'Gaudas' who still have access to good milk and firewood share that apart from these two, the 'Dahi Chenna' gets its complex flavors from the earthen pots and some of the liquid that has been retained to add to the next lot. 

But the USP of the 'Dahi Chenna' is not just taste or texture for that matter. Being lighter on the stomach as most of the fat has been extracted during the churning and with a greater shelf life, it was more coveted among the two types of cheese prevalent in Coastal Odisha. Its exalted status is reflected in its usage in the various 'pitha's made during various occasions like Manabasa Gurubar, Bada Osa and Prathamastami. This custom is now seriously threatened by the unavailability of the Dahi Chenna and most people have taken to using regular Chenna instead.

Monday, November 15, 2021

Decoding the Habisa Dalma

Panchuka or the five days of abstinence in the Odia calendar. As the holy month of Kartika draws to a closure, the religious fervor goes up by a few notches, and folks who had not given up nonvegetarian food for the entire month turn vegetarian. Even onion and garlic are struck off the menu. It is easy to get into a debate about the actual period of Panchuka with one group advocating that it begins right on the day of 'Anla Nabami' while another one claims that it begins on Ekadashi. But we will not get into the details of it because it is purely a matter of personal belief rather than something which is backed by evidence. And belief mingled with a need for validation can sometimes give rise to urban legends. Like the one which says that even the crane gives up fish during these five days. A story that is likely attributed to another mythological tale that mentions Lord Vishnu awakening from his slumber after four months on the day of Ekadashi and taking the disguise of a fish to reclaim the Vedas stolen by the asura Hayagriva.

But 'Panchuka' or for that matter, the month of Kartika is not just about abstaining from food. While it explicitly calls for giving up non-vegetarian food, certain vegetables, grains, and all greens except Agasti, that is just about the easy part of it. It is marked as a period of abstinence from everything that keeps one from attaining Moksha. Right from consumption of intoxicating substances to restraining one's speech and sexual conduct. A person is expected to immerse himself/herself in the scriptures or chant the name of the Almighty. So, one can say that in some ways it is similar to 'Paryushan Parva' of the Jains. Both are a time to introspect on one's actions and purify oneself from the accumulated sins. However, with the passage of time, Panchuka or even the month of 'Kartika' has been reduced to a period that calls for dietary restraints or if one is more religiously inclined, reading the Kartika Mahatyma. 

Coming back to the food practices followed during the month of Kartika, it is interesting to note how different regions have modified the ingredients used in the Habisa Dalma, an almost iconic dish prepared during this time of the year. Shorn of the golden glow of turmeric, this spartan dish is symbolic of the 'Habisyali' or widows who flock to Puri to perform the most rigorous version of this 'Vrat', subsisting on just a single meal taken before sunset for an entire month. With a little effort, one is able to uncover regional variations of this iconic recipe. I am unwilling to dwell on the topic of authenticity at this point for certain reasons. The variations are perhaps an attempt to assimilate more of the seasonal produce of a particular area. But that does not explain why certain commonly available ingredients have gone missing from it. Making it appeal better to the taste buds? Possibly. Substituting with newer ingredients available to one? Why not?  For example, most of us cannot imagine the ideal Habisa meal without the 'Kandhiya Pagaw', a kind of citrus mashed together with salt and green chilis. But chilis are themselves a 'New World' ingredient and were not available a few hundred years ago. What did our ancestors use instead? A good amount of ginger perhaps to provide the right amount of heat minus the excitement offered by the chilis. 

The most striking departure in this study has been the discovery of a version that I would like to call the Sagaw dalma, another Karthik month specialty in some parts of the state but one that uses 'Kosala saga'. Most interesting because the 'Kartika Mahatmya' explicitly prohibits any kind of green except for the Agasti or Agastya Sagaw (leaves of the Hummingbird tree). Digging a little deeper or rather after asking a dozen of questions, I figured out that most people in that particular region were not aware of the Agasti plant. But that hardly explains the usage of Kosala leaves in the Kartika dalma. Except for pointing to the most primitive practice of offering the first harvest of any crop to the Gods. 

 [ The image represents the Habisa Dalma prepared in most homes in and around Puri. Made with split green moong dal and a few vegetables like elephant apple, taro, yam and plantain, it is sans turmeric and any kind of tempering.]

Thursday, November 11, 2021

The Ancient Practice of Cooking In Leaves : GajaPimpali Enduri

What does Chenna Poda, Poda Pitha and Sikar Purga have in common? Apart from being capable of rigging one's salivary gland at a mere mention, these dishes bear the stamp of the ancient practice of cooking in leaves. Each of these is traditionally made by wrapping the ingredients in Shorea Robusta or Sal leaves. Apart from the sal, other leaves that are widely used in Odia cooking are the leaves of the turmeric plant which are used for making the steamed delicacy called 'Enduri pitha'.

But turmeric leaves are not the only ones used to make the Enduri pitha. Take a closer look at the last image in this post and marvel at the thick ovate leaves. And those prominent veins running along the length of the leaves. This Gajapimpali enduri is a beautiful example of Odisha's hitherto underexplored micro cuisines, a testimony of the diversity that exist within the state.

Scindapus Officinalis, commonly known as Gaja Pippali or Hasti Pippali, a comparative reference to the fruit of the Pippali or Long pepper, is a well known medicinal plant. Ayurveda prescribes the fruit as a remedy for a number of ailments like joint pains,  fever,  cough,  intestinal worms and other cold related ailments.  

The thick leathery leaves impart an intense smoky flavor to the food wrapped in it. While the steamed 'Enduri' is the more traditional way of using it , mushrooms or fish steamed in those leathery leaves taste simply out of this  world. Some communities also refer to it as the 'Pitha patra', a vine that once used to grow wild on mango trees and even on the thatched roofs of village homes in Odisha.

It doesn't come as a surprise that a community calls for it's ritual use in the autumn season. Small communities that live in close range of the forests have defined rituals and festivals that call for use of the seasonal produce. They have become a part of the lesser traditions or folk wisdom that has been passed on from one generation to the next one by oral means. A way of life that needs to be respected and preserved. We need to realize that many of such practices cannot be made mainstream as it would  lead to over exploitation of the forests. The family that got these leaves for us has been complaining that the vines are becoming  increasingly rare to spot. Perhaps the result of human intervention and climate change both. 

The Winter Vegetables of Odisha : A Recce of the local Haat

I walked into the crowds. The hiatus had been longer than anticipated. The feeling of venturing into alien territory gripped me at first. I stumbled blindly for the first few meters before I started picking out the shapes. Just as the eyes get accustomed to the darkness when one enters a dark room. I found myself seeking out familiar faces in the crowd. Perhaps it mirrored my own need to be recognized. By the old lady who stocked my favorite greens and tried to offload her entire stash on me. Or the man who was sometimes accompanied by his son who happened to be a little older than my own. I failed to spot either of them. Did she find someone as gullible as me ? How is the boy coping up with the online classes ? Questions flocked to me. The answers were nowhere in sight.

Getting back to the local 'haat' after all these weeks felt nothing to like a homecoming. The crowd was thinner than usual. The shops fewer in number. The only thing that had not changed was the freshness of the vegetables. Mostly sourced from the local farmers, the 'haat' had the most glorious winter produce on display. Greens dominated the scene with generous pools of white. Reds, pinks and purples stood out rather conspicuously . The browns were sadly stashed behind or occupied the fringes reflecting our general apathy of these vegetables that are lumped under the category of 'alu', 'kanda' or 'saru'. These fall into the unenviable category of the 'character actors' who prop up the screenplay but remain unsung. Odia cuisine makes ample use of these 'underground' vegetables but at the same time it is not entirely difficult to conjure up an Odia meal without them. Hence they remain unseen. Just like they have been for the most of their lives. 

There is no Odia equivalent of 'Arbi ki subzi' or 'Yam Kulambu'. Neither a 'shakkarkandi halwa' for that matter. For these vegetables add body, texture and even sweetness to numerous dishes like Ghanta, Santula, Dalma and Besara but lose either own identity in the ensuing medley. A rare Khatta or Bhaja is just not enough to redeem their stature. But isn't this unassuming characteristic the very hallmark of Odia cuisine ? This coming together of elements to assume a collective identity that is more than the sum of its individual components is what sets us apart. Don't you agree ?

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Kashayam ( Cold and cough Remedy )

Come winters and it is not just those cozy quilts and heirloom woolens that come tumbling out of the cupboard. Even as the lovely sweaters woven by grandma bask in sunshine during their annual outing among the glorious chrysanthemums and dahlias, her long forgotten home remedies for cough/cold also get their moment. Albeit in the wintry sun.

Haldi wala doodh or turmeric milk. Kadha. Kashayam. Basil and Honey or 'Tulsi-Mahu' as we call it in Odia . Or even the yummy 'Milagu rasam'. I bet every corner of the country has have something unique to offer for combating the side-effects of the much romanticized winters. And interestingly, every grandma has put her own spin to this traditional remedy. Maybe she learnt it from her grandmother/mother or even chanced upon it quite accidentally during a trial. But somehow she makes sure that we follow it to the T. And almost by magic, each recipe has proved beneficial in my experience.

This recipe for example fell into my hands quite by accident. I had gone to meet my neighbor in the afternoon a few days before Diwali. A bad cold ensured that I was coughing in the middle of every sentence that I managed to utter. And that is when aunty handed me a glass of a warm brown liquid that I could not smell. Thanks to a blocked sinus. It had a sharp smell but I managed to drink it. Within 10 mins, I could feel it working. She asked me to come back after another 3-4 hours for another dose. By night, I was feeling so much better. And that is when I knew that I had to have this recipe.

Read on for the details -

Preparation Time - 15 mins

Ingredients -

  • 2-3 betel leaves
  • 5-6 tulsi leaves
  • 10-12 peppercorns
  • 10-12 coriander seeds
  • 2 green cardamom
  • 1 inch ginger 
  • 4 1/2 glasses of water

Preparation - Take all the ingredients except the betel leaves and crush them coarsely.

Take the water in a saucepan and put it on the flame. Add the crushed ingredients .

Tear the betel leaves and add to the water. Let it boil for 15 mins.

Take off from the flame and let the temperature come down to tepid.

Drink 1-2 glasses. And keep the remaining covered .

Warm slightly before you drink and use on the same day.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Sugarfree Fig and Brown Rice Pudding / Anjeer Kheer [ Collab post with ADollopOfThat ]

New Year. New challenges. New beginnings. With the last one year of my life being rife with changes, I can not exactly vouch that I am looking forward to encountering more flux in my life. But such is the nature of life. It throws a curve-ball at you when you least expect it. And the catch is that you cant even duck it

At the moment every little cell in by body is clamoring for things to calm down. It's almost like I need the break to recharge my batteries. A little respite before facing the next storm. Unfortunately, events seem to suggest otherwise. And I need to get battle-ready yet again even though I am feeling worn out.

So, for now I am doing everything possible to nourish by body and spirit. The healthy lifestyle that I have embarked on has definitely improved things to a large extent. But there are certain health issues that every woman in her thirties must deal with. And that calls for further refinement in the dietary habits. Plus including more of weight training in the fitness routine as those bones start losing more calcium than ever before.

This simple rice pudding is made of everything nice ( read calcium ) . But minus the sugar and spice !!

Top post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 3 hours

Ingredients -

  • 1 1/2 liters skimmed milk
  • 3/4 cup Brown Basmati rice
  • 3 cups chopped fresh figs / anjeer
  • 2-3 tsp honey ( or add a little more if you prefer it sweeter )
  • 10-12 cashews
  • 3-4 tsp raisins

Preparation - Wash and soak the brown rice for 3-4 hours.

Cooking - Take the milk in a heavy bottomed pan and add the drained rice to it.

Bring to a boil on a medium flame. Add the cashews and raisins. Then reduce the flame and let it simmer for 2-3 hours.

Keep stirring at regular intervals.

The kheer will turn thick thick and creamy .

Finally add the chopped fresh figs and honey. Simmer for another 5 mins.

Remove from the flame and let it stand till it comes down to room temperature.

Serve immediately or chill for 20-30 mins before serving.

And don't forget to check out the super delicious and healthy 'Suji phirni with Apple and Cinnamon' by Parinaaz !!

Suji Phirni with Apple and Cinnamon

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Chocolate Chili Anar ( Gluten Free Recipe )

#BurstAPataka ??
Nooooo. The air pollution has already hot stratospheric levels and is choking the life out of our poor lungs.

#BeAPataka ???
Easier said than done. Being the mommy of a ever curious five year old, I need to ensure anything and everything inflammatory is kept out of sight and hearing. Pataka or otherwise......

#EatAPataka ??
Aah ....now we are talking sense. Like really !! And chilli flavored treats are just the thing that I have in mind.
For the uninformed, Capsaicin in chillis not only speeds up the metabolism but also ensures that a smaller portion makes us feel full. Even from my experience, the latter holds good especially when it comes to desserts. Doesn't that sound like a blessing in disguise ?But the real reason I love a hint of chilli in my dessert is that it kind of intensifies the flavor.

The Chocolate Chilli Anar is a wonderful twist to our very own "Gujjiya" or "Karanji", which is must have Diwali delight. The all purpose flour is swapped with a gluten free flour and the coconut stuffing is infused with a heady mix of dark chocolate and bhut jolokia chili. Moreover, it is baked instead of being dunked in hot oil which ensures that we stick to the 'healthy snacks' resolution. The conical 'anar' shape is just perfect for the ongoing Diwali festivities.

Thank you Plattershare for this wonderful opportunity !!

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 40-45 mins

Ingredients -

For the outer layer -

  • 1 1/2 cup Jiwa Gluten Free flour
  • 2 tsp ghee
  • 1/6 tsp salt or as per taste
  • water for kneading into a tight dough

For the stuffing -

  • 1 freshly grated coconut 
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 dried Bhut Jolokia chilli
  • 1 tsp ghee
  • 2 pinch salt
  • 2 tsp brown sugar

Preparation -

For making the stuffing -

Pour the ghee a saucepan.

Add the bhut jolokia to the ghee and wait till the ghee is sufficiently hot. Do not let it smoke else the chili's heat will cause burning sensation in eyes, nose and throat.

Add the coconut and keep stirring lightly till it turns light brown.

Remove the chili and add the choco chips to the pan. Keep the flame to a minimum.

Once the chocolate has melted, add brown sugar and salt. Mix everything together.

Remove from flame and keep aside till bearable to touch.

Pinch out small portions of the stuffing and shape into conical mounds.

For the outer layer - 

Take the flour, ghee and salt in a mixing bowl. Rub everything together till it is mixed evenly.

Add water little by little and make a tight dough. Let it rest for 30 mins.

Take small portions of the dough and roll it out . Cut out ribbons with the help of a knife.

Make small round discs with the remaining dough.

Final assembly - 

Place a mound of the stuffing on each disc. Take the ribbons and wrap it around the mound to give it the look of an anar.

Repeat the process for making more such 'anar's.

Baking - Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

Place the 'anar's on a baking tray and pop it into the oven.

Let them bake for  12-14 mins or till done.

Remove from the oven and let them cool down.

Serve immediately or store in an airtight container.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Teen Patti Crackers With A Bhut Jolokia Dip

Diwali time is about gatherings with friends and family. And gatherings are never complete without endless snacks. But that is no excuse to indulge in oily and fried stuff. That is something that has been on my mind ever since the festive season started and the guests started pouring in.

I had a few recipes saved in the drafts when the Jiwa Gluten Free flour from Plattershare arrived in the courier. Made from brown rice flour and multiple grains, it has a nice flavor and texture that works well for most of my recipes. Hence, all my healthy (read 'baked') snacks now have a nice gluten-free twist to them .

This is the first among the snacks I have created for Diwali. Now Diwali happens to be synonymous with a game of Teen Patti ! These healthy gluten free crackers with a beautiful card suit symbol pricked out in each of them are just apt for the occasion. Pair it with a tantalizingly hot Bhut jolokia dipping sauce with figs and caramelized onions and you have just ensured an evening to remember !

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 45 mins

Ingredients -

For the crackers -

  • 1 cup Jiwa Gluten Free flour
  • 3 tsp melted butter
  • 1/4 tsp salt ( i prefer using even less )
  • 2 tsp finely chopped garlic chives
  • Warm water for kneading
  • Extra butter for brushing the crackers 

For the Bhut Jolokia Bhut -

  • 1/2 of a dried Bhut jolokia chili
  • 5-6 ripe figs
  • 1 large red onion
  • 3-4 tsp Balsamic vinegar
  • 3-4 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • salt to taste

Preparation - For making the cracker dough, take all the flour, butter, chopped garlic chives and salt in a mixing bowl.

First mix the dry ingredients thoroughly and then add enough water to make a soft dough. Let it rest for 20 mins.

Flour the working surface and roll out the dough into a thin sheet. 

Cut it out into squares with the help of a cutter. Prick out the sides to prevent them from puffing up during baking.

Prick out the card suite designs on the crackers. Apply a fine layer of melted butter to the surface using a brush.

Cooking - Preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Place the crackers on a baking tray and pop in. 

The crackers should be done in 10-14 mins depending on how thin you have rolled them.

Remove from oven and keep aside till cool.  

For making the chunky dipping sauce - place the dried bhut jolokia chili in a cup and cover with hot water. Let it stand for 20 mins.

Wear gloves and chop the chilli into very fine bits for using in our recipe. Wash gloves, knives, chopping board and even the hands.

Heat 2 tsp olive oil in a saucepan.

Cut the onion into thin long pieces. Add to the olive oil and saute on a low temperature till it starts turning golden.

Now add the bhut jolokia chili to the onions and keep sauteing till onion gets completely caramelized. Switch on the exhaust or keep the windows open to avoid the strong fumes.

Chop up the figs and add to the caramelized onions. Add a little salt over them.

Once the figs soften, add the balsamic vinegar, brown sugar and 1/ cup hot water to the saucepan. Adjust the salt.

Let the ingredients simmer on a low flame till it thickens to the consistency of a jam.

Remove from flame and let it cool down .

Serve the crackers with the dipping sauce.

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