Steamed yellow split pea snack

Sev khamani - yellow split peaBorn and raised as a vegetarian, dishes made from lentils were always a part of my daily meal. Lentils are basically tiny dried split beans packed with protein, the major source of protein for vegetarians. Variety of lentils are routinely cooked in the form of boiled spicy soup (daal) served with rice or bread in various forms across India. However in Gujarat – a state in western India lentils are cooked in unique way which involves steaming the crushed or sometimes fermented lentils.

sev khamani - yellow split pea salad

This recipe is inspired from a similar spicy tea time snack known as ‘sev  khamani’ very popular in Gujarat. The traditional recipe requires slow-cooking of the presoaked and crushed yellow split pea with milk or water and oil. I have modified the recipe to reduce the cooking time, amount of oil and to make it vegan friendly.

Picture3Believe me it is not as laborious as it sounds, it takes long to presoak the split pea but the actual physical work involved in negligible.

Steamed yellow split pea snack

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Yellow split pea
  • Water (divided: for presoaking and steaming splitpea)
  • 1/4 cup Cashew (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup Rasins (soaked in water)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons Sugar
  • 2 Garlic
  • Mustard seeds (Optional)
  • 1 tablespoon Oil

Directions

1. Transfer the yellow split pea in a large bowl and add water to completely cover the peas. Soak the split pea in water for 8-10 hours.
2. Crush the pea in a food processor with half of the water used for pre-soaking.
3. Transfer the crushed pea to a steamer and steam on high for 20-30 minutes.
4. Let the steamed pea cool down and cut the steamed mixture in to random pieces. Grate each piece or crush in a food processor.
5. Heat oil on a pan and add mustard seeds (optional). When the mustard seeds starts popping add cashew and raisin. Cook them until cashews are brown and toasted and add crushed steamed pea mixture.
6. Add one cup of water and cook until the water evaporates. Add salt, sugar, lemon juice and crushed garlic.
7. Serve warm.

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Cottage cheese and strawberry hearts on the chocolate bed

cottage cheese chocolate and strawberry heart 1Ever since I’ve started blogging I feel compelled to write a recipe for all special occasions or festivals. Because of the same reasons last week I found myself in the valentine-day-special aisle of a craft store near me. Surrounded by soft toys, pink hearts and frilly ribbons hanging on the wall I was feeling quite out of the place. I grabbed the heart-shaped cookie cutter I needed and ran out of the aisle as soon as possible……….…hooh!

cottage cheese chocolate and strawberry heart Once in the comfort of my kitchen it was the time to make a Valentine-day special dish. Since the bakeries and cake shops are full of heart-shaped cakes and cookies I wanted to try something different. And the inspiration came from my all-time favorite Indian dessert Sandesh. Sandesh, meaning message in Hindi, is a dessert very popular in Bengal – eastern region of India. In Bangladesh this dessert is called Pranhara, literally meaning ‘heart stealer’.

cottage cheese chocolate and strawberry heart 2The main ingredient for the dish, cottage cheese or chenna as it is known in India, is basically milk protein separated form water by addition of lemon juice, yogurt or vinegar. The simplest recipe of Sandesh requires mixing this cottage cheese with sugar, adding cardamom or saffron and rolling them out in balls. Some sandesh recipes ask for adding flour or milk solids to make them more firm and some shape them in to moulds.

To make this heart stealer I followed the simplest recipe which also happens to be my favorite. Now, how can a romantic dessert like this be complete without chocolate? To make it chocolaty I could simply coat my dessert with melted chocolate but this will harden to a brittle coat……….aah….not a good match for the soft, melt-in-your-mouth cottage cheese hearts. The consistency that pairs perfectly with the dessert and the glossy shine could only be provided by the chocolate ganache which is a fancy term for the mixture of chocolate and heavy cream.

And finally simple bright red strawberry sauces to complement the taste and the look of the cottage cheese hearts sitting on chocolate ganache bed.

cottage cheese hearts chocolate strawberry

Have a happy valentine day!! :)

Cottage cheese strawberry hearts

Ingredients

Cottage cheese hearts

  • 1l Milk
  • 3 tablespoons Lemon juice
  • Cheese cloth
  • 4 tablespoons Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract

Strawberry sauce

  • 1 cup Chopped strawberry
  • 1/2 tablespoon Butter
  • 2 tablespoons Sugar
  • 3-4 tablespoons Water

Chocolate ganache glaze

  • 5oz Semi sweet chocolate
  • 5oz Heavy cream

Directions

Cottage cheese hearts
1. Boil 1 litre milk and add 3 tablespoon lemon juice. Keep heating the milk until the milk solid separates from the whey. This takes about 2-5 minutes.
2. Pour the mixture in a bowl or colander lined with a cheese cloth. Filter the milk solids using a cheese cloth and remove as much water as you can by squeezing. The milk solid obtained at this stage is called cottage cheese.
3. Mix cottage cheese, sugar and vanilla extract in a food processor or using a handheld blender until it is thick and smooth paste.
4. Transfer the mixture on a plate or a baking tray, flatten it and chill for at least an hour.
5. After the cottage cheese mixture is chilled cut out heart shaped pieces using a cookie cutter.
Strawberry sauce
6. Melt butter in a pan and add chopped strawberry.
7. Add water and cook the strawberries until they are soft.
8. Add sugar and blend it in to a smooth sauce. Sugar is added at the last step to avoid caramelization.
Chocolate ganache glaze
9. Chop 5 Oz of semisweet chocolate and transfer to a bowl.
10. Boil 5 Oz of heavy cream and pour it on the chopped chocolate. Let it sit for 2-3 minute and whisk until all pieces of chocolate are melted and the mixture is smooth.
11. Pour the warm chocolate ganache on a plate and let it cool down to room temperature.
12. Place the cottage cheese heart at he centre of the chocolate ganache bed.
13. Place a smaller heart shaped cookie cutter on top of the cottage cheese heart and pour half a tablespoon strawberry sauce. Chill the hearts for half an hour before lifting the smaller cookie cutter.
14. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

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Gluten free beet and quinoa pancake

Beet pancake 1 We all have seen movies where the protagonist, who is at the helm of his career, is unfairly brought down by influential opponents and gets lost into the oblivion. But towards the climax of the movie the protagonist overhauls himself and fights back to ultimately re-establish his supreme status.

Quinoa – the star feature of my today’s recipe has also lived the same story.  Quinoa (pronounced as Keen – Wah) is a pseudo-grain native of South America. It was cultivated by Incas, the indigenous people of Andes for more than 5000 years. They referred to it as ‘mother grain’, suggesting the dominance of this grain as a nutrient source. Quinoa disappeared from cultivation when Spanish invaders forced the natives to grow corn and potato instead of their mother grain. Thanks to the efforts of a Bolivian priest, quinoa was reintroduced to the world in 1970’s. Owing to the nutritional values, it soon gained popularity in the New World. Today in addition to Chile, Peru, Bolivia and Equador quinoa is also grown in parts of US and Canadian prairies. Beet pancake 4

Quinoa is not only a very rich source of protein, but also provides certain essential amino acids that are hard to find in vegetarian diet. Besides, it is also high in fibers. Quinoa also forms a perfect wheat substitute for a gluten-free diet. Realizing the value of this grain United Nations has declared 2013 as the “International Year of Quinoa”.

For this pancake recipe I used quinoa flour that was available in a local store near me. Alternatively, it can be easily made at home by just grinding the toasted quinoa in a food processor. Beet pancake 2

I complemented the slightly sweet and nutty flavor of beet quinoa pancake with spicy cream cheese sauce. I mixed equal amount of cheese and plain yogurt to achieve the right consistency that could be absorbed by the pancake and flavored it with chives and freshly ground black pepper.

Roasead beet quinoa pancake

Ingredients

Pancake

  • 1 cup Quinoa flour
  • Salt (a pinch)
  • 3-4 Beets
  • 2 tablespoons Oil (divided)
  • 1/2 tablespoon Baking powder
  • 1/4 cup Water

Cream cheese sauce

  • 1 cup Plain yogurt
  • 1 cup Cream cheese
  • Salt (as per taste)
  • 1 teaspoon Black pepper (freshly ground)
  • 1/2 cup Chives (finely chopped)

Directions

Pancake
1. Preheat the oven at 400 F for roasting the beets. Spread the beets with oil, sprinkle some salt and wrap them in aluminium foil. Roast them 30-50 minuets. Roasting time depends on the size of the beet, so keep checking them by poking with a knife every 15 minuets.
2. Purée the roasted beets.
3. Mix 1/2 cup of puréed roasted beet with 1 cup of quinoa flour. Add 1/2 tablespoon of baking powder and salt to taste. Add 1/4 cup of water.
4. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a non-stick pan. Scoop the pancake mixture on the pan, flatten it with a spoon in to a round pancake shape and cook for 2-3 minuet on both side.
Cream cheese sauce
5. Whisk cream cheese and yoghurt together until its a smooth paste.
6. Add ground black pepper, chives, salt and mix well. Top the pancake with the cream cheese sauce just before serving.

Note : This recipe was shared with Thank Goodness Its Quinoa, Wellness weekendGluten free Fridays and Waste Not Want Not Wednesday.

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Rediscovering Bhel – a popular Indian street food.

Japanese Bhel - 1Last week I was visiting a Korean friend who has recently moved to Canada. While we were chatting, she offered me some puffed rice cakes. I must say that I had seen them many-a-times in grocery stores but never tasted them before. I really loved them and the crunchy light texture offered in the form of compacted cakes got registered in my mind.   Later, on doing some googling I learnt that these puffed rice cakes are originally a Japanese invention which are very popular street food in other Asian countries as well. They are prepared in a special rice-cake-making-machine, where partially cooked rice puffs when treated at high temperature and  pressure just like corn kernels expanding in to popcorns.

Japanese bhel puri - 3Even though I’ve never had this Japanese style rice cake before, I was familiar with the puffed rice as they are very popular snack in India and are known as mumra or murmura. Murmura is generally stir fried with various spices and are served with sev (thin chickpea noodle). In fact they are the main ingredient of a street food dish called bhel or bhel-puri very popular in Indian and Pakistan. A typical bhel does a great job of stimulating every single taste bud in your mouth (ummm…..may be except the bitter one).

bhel rice cake So, in this fusion recipe I used the Japanese puffed rice cake with other ingredients of the Indian bhel to make what I call Japanease Bhel. Two absolutely important ingredients for any authentic bhel are cilantro chutney and tamarind-date chutney. Other ingredients are boiled potato, raw tomato, onion, sev, pomegranate seeds and cilantro for garnish. In the Indian bhel these things are mixed well with spiced puffed rice and served in a bowl.

Japanese Bhel -003Instead, I used the rice cake as base and spread the cilantro and tamarind-date chutney over it. It is important that both the chutneys are thick pastes (and not watery, otherwise the rice cakes will quickly turn soggy) to retain the firmness of the cakes. This was followed by a thick layer of mashed potato piped off a piping bag with a star tip. Although, you could choose to just spread the mashed potato on the cake. Finally, I topped the mashed potato with row tomato, onion, sev, cilantro and pomegranate seeds.

And here you go……a Korean inspired, Japanese traditional food with an Indian twist prepared in Canada is ready to savour the taste buds of the world.

Puffed rice cake bhel.

Ingredients

  • 4 Disks of puffed rice cake
  • 1 cup Boiled potato
  • 4 tablespoons Cilantro chutney
  • 2 tablespoons Tamarind-date chutney
  • 1/2 cup Onion (finely chopped)
  • 1/2 cup Tomato (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup Sev (fine chickpea noodle, available in any South Asian grocery store )
  • 1/4 Pomegranate seeds
  • 1/4 cup Cilantro leaves (chopped)

Directions

1. Prepare cilantro chutney and tamarind-date chutney in advance. It can be frozen and stored for several months.
2. Mash the boiled potato, add a pinch of salt and mix well. Unlike other mashed potato recipes, cream or sour cream is not required here.
3. Spread a tablespoon of cilantro chutney and half a tablespoon of the tamarind-date chutney on top of the rice cake.
4. Transfer the mashed potato in a piping bag with a star tip and pipe it to top of the puffed rice cake disk to completely cover the top of the disk.
5. Top the mashed potato layer with chopped onion, tomato and sev. Finally, garnish with chopped cilantro and pomegranate seeds.
6. Prepare the rice cake bhel just before serving as the puffer rice tends to absorb moisture from the chutneys and get soggy if kept for long.

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Mini cheese balls

cheese ball recipe 004

And just when we thought that there won’t be any hockey this year, came the much awaited announcement from NHL that finally the truce has been called and we will soon have the puck rolling on the ice. So, get geared up for the action, the adventure, the fights and Don Cherry’s signature blazers. I am all set too…. with my for-the-game recipes. Instead of getting hooked to the junk food or buying the usual game food I decided to “think different” and make quick, easy, healthy and yummy crowd-pleaser that also goes along with the drinks.

cheese ball recipe

So here we go with the Cheese balls. In this simple yet fun recipe the base is cream cheese mixed with any semi-soft cheese like cheddar, mozzarella or monterey jack to build the right density. It is important to add a semi-soft cheese to retain the integrity of the cheese balls while eating.

Cheese balls recipe 2

Next step is to spice it up with your favourite flavor. There is lots of room to be creative by adding various spices, herbs or chutneys available in your kitchen. I created slightly sweet and a spicy cheese by mixing jalapeño and honey and rolled the mixture in to 15-20 small balls. You can make variedly flavored cheese balls to keep everyone’s taste buds happy without much extra effort.

Picture3

Even though it is optional, the most fun part of the recipe is the final dress up. The cheese balls are coated by rolling in peprika or any other dry coating. The idea is to keep the outer layer non-sticky so that it is convenient to pick them while eating. You can add food grade colors to the cheese balls to create the colors for the team you are supporting. I chose paprika for the coating because of its natural and bright RED color. So, now you know who I cheer for!  :)

We are all set, so “Let the games begin……..”

Mini cheese balls

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Cream cheese
  • 1 cup Cheddar (grated)
  • 1/2 tablespoon Honey
  • 1 teaspoon Roasted garlic (chopped)
  • 1/2 tablespoon Pickled jalapeño (finely chopped,)
  • 1.2 cups Paprika

Optional

  • Clove
  • Cilantro leaves

Directions

1. Mix cream cheese, cheddar cheese, honey, garlic and jalapeño.
2. Divide the mixture and roll it out in 15-20 small balls.
3. Roll the cheese bolls on paprika.
4. Place a cilantro leaf on each ball and secure it with an inverted clove to make it look like stem of an apple fruit. This step is optional. The clove is not supposed to be eaten and the cheese balls taste as good without it.
5. Serve with crackers.

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Arepa – a Venezuelan street food

arepa

Arepas are popular street food in Venezuela and Columbia. This handy recipe consists of corn patties that are either stuffed or topped with a variety of fillings/toppings. The street vendors selling arepas in Venezuela are called Areperos and they use cheese, meat or scrambled eggs as stuffing in this popular go-to food. Arepas are also served as part of a platter along with other recipes. The beauty of this dish resides in its simplicity and versatility. The fried corn patties are usually stuffed with meat but can be modified according to one’s creative imagination and taste.

venezuela map

The corn flour used to make arepas is called masa harina. Unlike corn meal, which is simply ground dried corn, to make masa harina the corn kernels are first soaked and cooked in limewater. The resulting kernels (called ‘hominy’) are hulled and ground to create fresh paste of corn called masa (for dough in Spanish). The dehydrated version masa harina is an easy find at the grocery stores since it is used in making various other South American dishes including Tamale (recipe coming soon..!).

I began my Venezuelan adventure by reconstituting masa harina with some lukewarm water (can be replaced by buttermilk to give slight sour taste) to create the paste. I decided to retain the basic flavor of corn masa since I was to use flavorful stuffing.

chipotle sour craem

If your choice of stuffing is blend, you might want to spike masa with some herbs and spices to enhance the flavor.  After letting the masa set for some time, I made palm sized patties out of the masa. Arepas could be deep fried but the health-conscious side of mine forbids me from doing so, alternatively I cooked them on a pan using a tbsp. of oil. Hmmm….I love that aroma, after cooking a few of them the entire kitchen was smelling like a big bowl of freshly baked nachos. After letting them sit on the pan for 7-10 min on medium heat and intermittent turnovers the arepa sacs were ready to be stuffed. But be careful….don’t rush to cut open the two halves too soon otherwise the hot air trapped in the sacs may rush out giving your fingers some hard time. Well if u don’t believe me just ask my impatient hubby dear about his misadventure.

Okay so now that the arepa sacs were ready it was time to get creative. It can range from bland baked potato or finely chopped mushrooms to hot chilly flavor. I wanted to retain the South American essence yet make it very flavorful. So I used refried beans and sliced avocado and salsa. Finally I topped it up with chipotle sour cream sauce and chopped cilantro.

Arepa

Serves 2

Ingredients

Arepa

  • 2 cups Masa harina
  • 2 cups Water (warm)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 3 tablespoons Oil (divided)

Filling

  • 1 can Refried beans
  • 1 Avacado (sliced)
  • 1 cup Salsa
  • 1/2 cup Chipotle sour cream
  • Cilantro (chopped)

Directions

1. Place masa harina in a bowl and mix it with salt. The most popular brand of masa harina is Harina P.A.N., but you can use any brand you find in your grocery store.
2. Add two cups of warm water as well as oil and knead it in to a soft dough. Keep the dough covered for at least 15 minute, since the masa takes some time to fully absorb the water.
3. Divide the dough in to 4 large balls. Pat them on your palm and shape them in to round half an inch thick patties.
4. Heat a tablespoon of oil on a non stick pan. Depending on the size of the pan, place 2-3 arepas on the pan and cook covered for 5 minute or until golden brown. Turn the arepas and cook the other side until golden brown.
5. After arepas are cool enough to handle, split them in two.
6. Stuff it with refried beans, salsa, sliced avocado and chipotle sour cream. Top it with chopped cilantro and serve with extra chipotle sour cream sauce.

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Thin crust apple red-pepper pizza

Apple pepper pizza

A couple of weeks ago my husband was hanging out  with his friends at a local sports  bar. The bar is very popular for its chicken wings. Since, my husband is also vegetarian like me; the only thing he could order was vegetarian pizza. After coming home, for days he kept talking about this pizza…..which is pretty unusual from him since he is a hard nut to crack.  I always look forward to trying new food and considering the source of appreciation, I felt compelled to check this place out and so last Saturday evening we headed to the Emerson bar. Honestly I must confess that the pizza was indeed very delicious, probably one of the best I’ve had in a long time. I loved it especially for the thin pastry like crust.

apple pepper pizza 2

Of course, the next obvious step was to recreate the magic at home. For this, I needed to tweak my standard procedure of making the pizza base. I decided to replace the traditional whole wheat flour with the all-purpose flour, routinely used for making pastries. The pastry flour had finer and smoother texture than the regular all-purpose flour. For a thin and crispy crust firm enough to hold the topping, I reduced the amount of water for kneading the dough as well as the time of incubation for raising the dough. Adding some olive oil to the dough resulted in the right amount of crunch to the base after baking, making it crisp yet not too hard to bite.

Apple pepper gourmet pizza

I was tired of having the stereotype vegetarian pizza toppings and decided to give it a twist. I love having a slightly sweetish flavor to savoury dishes and felt that using green apple would provide just the right feel. I believe apple is a perfect fruit for the purpose of baking, since it when baked does not release too much water which would make the pizza base soggy. An apple would also add mild sweetness without turning it in to a dessert pizza. To complete the flavor and color of green apple I used red pepper which would provide the flavor of the red chillies without the heat. And finally, to complete the experience of a gourmet pizza, I needed fresh basil leaves and mozzarella cheese.

Apple pepper pizza 3

The next step is baking the pizza….for this step the right temperature and conditions are very important. I have been watching some shows on the food network where they bake the pizza in a wood-fire oven. In these ovens, pizza is baked at very high temperature, more than 1000o F or 500o C in short time. Yes my dream house does have a wood-fire oven built in the backyard, but for now I have to work with the oven in my current apartment kitchen. To recreate the atmosphere of a wood-fire oven I baked the pizza at highest temperature possible (500o C) on a pre-heated pizza stone. The pizza stone absorbs the moisture from the crust and bakes it evenly. Since, I was baking the pizza at very high temperature I reduced the cooking time and result was a gourmet apple red pepper pizza with crunchy crust and slightly roasted but not overcooked toppings.

Thin crust apple red pepper pizza

Ingredients

Crust

  • 2 1/2 cups All purpose flour
  • 1 cup Warm water
  • 2 tablespoons Olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Honey
  • 1 tablespoon Active yeast
  • pinch Salt

Pizza

  • 1/2 cup Pizza sauce
  • 1/2 cup Mozzarella cheese (grated)
  • 1/2 Red pepper (sliced)
  • 1/2 Apple (Thinly sliced)
  • Couple of Basil leaves (Chopped)
  • Oregano (Fresh or dried)

Directions

1. Mix 1/2 cup of flour with yeast, honey, olive oil and warm water. If you dip your finger in the water and it feels not cold not too hot its the right temperature.
2. Mix salt and rest of the flour. Add the above mixture in the flour and knead the dough. If you are using instant yeast, keep the dough for half to one hour. If you are using original yeast keep it for little longer.
3. After the dough has risen divide it in to three small balls. Dust some flour on a flat surface and roll out the dough in to a less than half an inch thick circle.
4. Preheat the oven at highest temperature possible with a pizza stone placed in it.
5. Spread pizza sauce on the base, sprinkle shredded mozzarella cheese. Top it with sliced green apple and red pepper.
6. Place basil leaves and top the pizza with more mozzarella cheese. Covering the basil leaves with extra cheese keeps the flavor of the basil and prevents charring of the herb.
7. Place the pizza in the oven and bake for 7-10 minuet or until the crust is lightly brown. Serve warm.

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Fennel apple salad

Fennel bulb was relatively exotic vegetable for me until I came to North America. Unlike Italian cuisine which uses the bulb of fennel quite extensively, Indian cuisine uses only the seeds of fennel plants, either in the dish or as mouth freshener after the meal. I fell in love with the mildly sweet, liquorish taste of the fennel bulb after having it just once. Fennel bulb can be sautéed, grilled or boiled and added to soups, but I prefer to cut the bulb in to half, peel the layers and enjoy them raw.

However, when I watched Chef Michael Smith making salad from thinly sliced fennel on food network, I was inspired to embellish one of my favorite vegetable. I decided to combine it with other ingredients that could enhance and preserve the sweet liquorish flavor of fennel. Green apple is the perfect way to add sweet tartness without affecting the color and form of the fennel salad. To add some visual contrast without steeling the flavor of the fennel I used chopped basil leaves.

Since I wanted fennel to dominate the salad, I was very careful choosing the ingredients for the dressing as well. Instead of extra virgin olive oil that is used in most salad dressing because of its pungent flavor, I chose to add canola oil. Neutrally flavored and yet healthy canola oil will add shine to the salad without contributing much to the flavor. You could also use sunflower oil or any other flavorless oil, but strictly avoid using other pungent oils like; mustard oil or sesame oil. To add the sourness I choose balsamic vinegar for its sweetish taste, but red wine vinegar also works fine here. And finally for the slight crunchiness the salad was tossed with roasted fennel seeds.

It takes less than ten minuets to prepare this salad and it tastes the best when served cold.

Fennel apple salad

Ingredients

Salad

  • 1 Fennel buld
  • 1 Green apple
  • Couple of fresh basil leaves (Finely chopped)
  • 1/2 tablespoon Fennel seeds (Toasted )

Dressing

  • 1 tablespoon Balsamic venegar
  • 1 teaspoon Canola oil
  • 1 pinch Salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon Honey

Directions

1. Cut the fennel bulb in to two and remove the stem.
2. Slice the fennel thinly. Alternatively you can use a slicer or a peeler to make very thin slice of the fennel.
3. Cut the apple in to two, remove the core and the stem. Slice it as thinly as possible.
4. Whist all balsamic vinegar, oil, honey and salt together to make salad dressing. You can use other oil instead of canola oil, but avoid using oils with strong pungent flavour like; olive oil, mustard oil or sesame oil.
5. Mix the sliced fennel and apple with the dressing. Toss it with finely chopped basil leaves and fennel seeds.
6. For best flavours serve cold.

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Pani-puri – a delectable tsunami

Some call it puchka, some call it goll-gappa, some prefer the name phulki and some other like gup-chup, but to me pani-puri is a tsunami…….a delectable tsunami.

This popular Indian street food consists of mildly spiced tangy water, pani filled in hollow crunchy bite sized bread called puri along with mashed potato, sprouts and chick pea. It is eaten one at a time and as soon as it gets in to the mouth the puri which was holding the filling and water so far cracks open releasing the chilled spicy water.

The crackling sound of the crumbling puri, followed by the tsunami of cold, tangy and minty pani in the mouth truly awakens every sense……Pani-puri is not just a dish it’s an experience…an unforgettable experience.

The concept of pani-puri; bite sized crunchy bread filled with soft filling and spicy tangy water is very unique to this dish. Every dish I have eaten, seen or read about so far has its cousin or a distant relative in at least one other culture than its country of origin. For example Italian risotto and Indian khichri or Indian chapatti, Mexican tortilla and Middle Eastern pita are based on very similar concepts.  However, I am yet to encounter a dish that is based on the similar concept as pani-puri.

In India pani-puri is prepared and served by roadside vendors in a bowl made of dried leaves. There are several versions of pani-puri recipe but all of them contain four components.

  1. Spicy water or pani (made with fresh mint, cilantro, lemon, ginger, green chilies and black salt)
  2. Crispy bread or puri (made with wheat and semolina)
  3. Filling (consist of mashed potato, chick pea and mung bean)
  4. Tamarind and date chutney

In this post, I will be describing recipe for pani, the bread, puri and the filling as well as how to assemble and serve the whole dish. The recipe for the tamarind-date chutney is described elsewhere.

Pani

The water (pani) for the pani-puri is prepared by blending Cilantro, fresh mint, ginger, lemon juice, green chilies and most important black rock salt. Every ingredient is absolutely important and must not be omitted (except green chillies) for the authentic fresh taste of the pani. Most of these ingredients can be found at any North American groceries store except black salt. Black is a type of rock salt dark brown in appearance. Because of the sulfur content of this salt it gives a characteristic flavour to the dishes it is used in. Black salt or sanchal as it is known in India, gives any “Chaat” dish its identity.  It is not possible to imagine any kind of Chaat without sanchal.

For making pani, blend all the ingredients and add water. You can filter the pani, but I prefer not to, as there is nothing wrong in having little bit of fibres.

Potato filling

Two main verities of potato based pani-puri filling are popular in India. The one which is also known as “ragada” is usually warm and prepared by cooking a mixture of potato, green peas and tomatoes with various spices until it becomes a thick paste.

Another simpler filling involves mashed potato, chick pea and sprouts mixed with some salt and chili powder and coriander powder. I prefer to use this filling for pani- puri because of its milder taste; it lets the fresh minty flavor of the pani to dominate. For making this filling mixed chopped boiled potato, boiled chick pea and steamed sprouts. Add salt, red chili powder and coriander powder as pre taste.

Assembling the Pani-puri

Once you have all the ingredients ready, the final step is to assemble the dish. This involves punching a hole in the puri and filling it with all other components as per taste. This should be done right before serving; as the puri will lose the crisp if left with filling or chutney for long.

Pani puri

A delectable tsunami of flavours.

Ingredients

Pani

  • 1/4 Cup Ginger (chopped)
  • 2 Cups Fresh cliantro (chopped)
  • 1 Cup Fresh mint leaves (chopped)
  • 1 Jalapeño (seeds and stem removed)
  • 1 teaspoon Black rock salt
  • 6 cups Cold water

Filling

  • 1/2 cup Boiled potato (finely chopped)
  • 1/4 cup Boiled black chick pea (could be replaced by garbanzo beans )
  • 1/4 cup Boiled mung bean
  • 2 teaspoons Coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon Red chilli powder (could be replaced by paprika )

Pani puri

  • 1 cup Tamarind chutney
  • Puri (deep fried crispy bread )

Directions

Pani
1. Mix all the ingredients for pani (the spicy water) with on cup of water in a blender.
2. Bled well in a blender until its a smooth paste.
3. Add rest of the water and filter through a sieve if desired.
4. Chill the pani for an hour and serve cold.
Filling
5. Mix the boiled potato, chick pea and mung beans.
6. Add coriander powder, chilli powder and salt and mix well.
Assembling the pani-puri
7. Make a hole in the puri using your thumb or the end of a spoon.
8. Fill it with the potato, chickpea and mugn bean mixture.
9. Add half a tablespoon of tamarind chutney.
10. Finally add two tablespoon of pani. Immediately pop the entire puri in the mouth and enjoy the tsunami.

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Chocolate Barfi

I still remember the day I cooked this recipe for the first time…a day before my 8th birthday.  Sitting on top of the kitchen counter next to the stove I was the helper chef as usual. My job was to pour in ingredients and help clean the bowls by licking the leftover, as my mother was arduously stirring the barfi to prevent it from sticking to the pan and trying to maintain the right temperature at the same time.  Yummm…..the recipe brings the sweet memories of my childhood.

So what exactly is a barfi ??

The term ‘ barfi’ originates from Persian word ‘barf’ meaning snow. The traditional form of barfi appears white as it is prepared from milk and sugar and is served cold, hence it gets the name.

The main ingredients of barfi are milk solids (also known as Khoya in South Asia) and sugar. Other flavorings such as saffron, cardamom and nuts are also added. Various versions of barfi have became popular in different regions of India, which includes coconut barfi, gram flour (besan) barfi, almond barfi, cashew barfi, pistachio barfi, peanut barfi and of course today’s recipe at ‘As per taste’ – chocolate barfi.

And aha…while we are talking about barfi, the latest Bollywood flick “Barfi” deserves a mention here.  Barfi is a cute little love story of a deaf and mute boy as sweet as barfi…No wonder it is India’s official entry for Oscar this year….a must watch.

Let me know how you liked cooking, eating and watching Barfi…If you enjoy the chocolate barfi…stay tuned for other varieties of barfi.

Chocolate burfi

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cups Butter
  • 1 can Sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup Cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup Roasted almonds (chopped)

Directions

1. Melt butter in a pan.
2. Add condensed milk and cocoa powder.
3. Cook on low to medium with constant stirring, until the mixture stops sticking to the pan.
4. Add chopped almonds.
5. Transfer the mixture to a lightly greased pan.
6. Sprinkle chopped almond on the top.
7. Cut in to square pieces while it is warm.
8. Allow it to cool and serve.

 

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