Categories
Pickles/Preserves Side Dishes Vegetarian

Nimbu Ka Achaar – No Oil Indian Lime Pickle

I still have some left in the jar from my last trip to India.Every time I scoop out a spoon ful to serve on to my platter, unconsciously, I drop a few wedges back. Then I smile at the silly thought which crosses my mind. I just don’t want that jar to be empty ever! Is that even possible?Maybe not.Its not just mom’s nimbu ka achaar, its her love,which I want to relish in all my meals.

Store-bought pickles fail to satisfy me. Too much oil, overload of spices, a preservative cloned after taste – if I may complain. At times, I am desperate to make my own.Not much luck with that;I have not been able to find the lemons, raw mangoes or chillies which come close to the ones we get back home.

After almost three years of living here, my happiness knew no bounds when I spotted these baby limes at a south asian store.Can you imagine my stroll as I rushed towards them? Top that with an unbeatable price of a dollar for two pounds. Can you? They were perfect – thin-skinned, spongy to press, acidic, and greenish-yellow.I knew I will be spending few hours with mom on phone to get her recipe & tips.Pickle will be made!

Indian summers present a perfect oppurtunity to sun-aided pickling.Pickles or achaar are an integral part of indian cuisine. A small amount is always served to square home style meals. Some like it for the tang they add & some like them for digestion. Seasonal fruits & vegetables are commonly used along with spices (fenugreek, mustard, nigella, chillies etc) & buckets of oil to make pickle batches which last through the whole year.

Nimbu Ka Achar, Indian Lime Pickle, Sinfully Spicy

Sun cooked pickles are the ones are where the gold lies, I m too fond of them.Unless you put in hours of labour & showcase patience while the pickle cooks in the warmth of the sun, the business is far from over. I have seen everyone in the family slog over them.Not to forget the high levels of hygiene required all through – clean spoons & hands, sterile jars and what not.

This irrestible “no oil” lime pickle is able to perfectly live up to the expectations – tart, succulent flesh & chewy lime skin – what a tease on the tastebuds. The lime wedges pickle in their own juice and a handful of spices. The spices are few but quite typical to

Ingredients :-

  • 3 lbs baby limes/lemons (or any thin-skinned variety)
  • 2 tbsp kala namak (black salt, substitute with table salt)
  • 6 tbsp kali mirch (black peppercorns)
  • 6 tbsp ajwain (carrom seeds)
  • 3/4 tsp hing powder (asafoetida)
  • 2 tbsp red chilli flakes (or to taste)
  • 3-4 tbsp sea salt or as needed (substitute with table salt) (see notes)
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice (from about 10-12 limes)
  • 1-2 tbsp granulated sugar (I have not used it but can be added if you like to add a sweet note to your pickle)
Needed :-
  1. Kitchen Towels
  2. A large, rectangular glass dish (I use my pyrex casserole dish)
  3. Plastic Wrap sheet
  4. Clean, dry Wooden Spoons
  5. Wide-Mouthed, Sterile Canning Jars (preferably with plastic or glass lids).Click here to see how you can sterlize the jars.

Method :-

Preparing the limes

Put all the limes in a colander and wash thoroughly under running water. Let drain in the colander over the kitchen sink for at least 15-20 minutes. Spread the limes over clean kitchen towels and rub to completely dry them. You can put them in sun too for this purpose. Ensure that the limes are completely dry before you start cutting them.

Next, with clean hands, quarter or half the limes (depends on the size you like) and remove as much seeds you can.Once cut, transfer the wedges on to a large glass dish, spread them in an even layer. Sprinkle black salt over the limes and with clean, dry hands, rub the salt with the limes. Cover the glass dish with a plastic wrap, poke few holes in the it & let sit in the full sun for 3 days. You will see that the lime wedges will start to dry (slightly) & there is liquid at the bottom.

Making the Pickle 

On the fourth day, coarsely grind the kali mirch in your coffee grinder. Put the ajwain next & pulse a few times. Take out the mixture in bowl & mix hing powder, red chilli flakes and sea salt (along with sugar, if using) with it. Sprinkle this mix over the lime wedges along with lime juice. With clean hand, thoroughly mix everything together. Again, cover the glass dish with a fresh plastic wrap, poke few holes in it and let sit in full sun for 15 days. You will need to stir the mix once a day using a clean,dry wooden spoon. You will see that as the days progress the skin of the limes starts softening & turning brown along with liquid at the bottom getting thicker than on the very first day.

At the end of 15 days, check the salt of the pickle again & adjust (if required) , mix up the pickle well with clean, dry wooden spoons and transfer to canning jars. Dont full till the top of the jar but at the same time don’t leave a lot of room for bacteria in air to get moldy. Leaving 1/2 inch space from the top is okay. If you are using jars with metal lid, you will need to cover the mouth of jar with plastic wrap to avoid the contact between pickle & metal.Let the jars sit in sun till the limes are totally soft, brownish in color & the liquid is more like a syrup. You will need to shake the jars periodically. In Las Vegas sun, it took about 3 weeks to get that stage.

There is no need to refrigerate.Sun-cooked pickles normally last at room conditions. Always use a clean spoon to serve the pickles, they keep for months or years together.

Serve the pickle as a side to your meals, grind and add to marinade of meats.I like to spread the pickle on top of my crackers as well as on flatbread crisps.

Notes:-

  1. Any thin-skinned citrus fruits will work in this recipe – baby tangerines (narangi), kumquats etc.
  2. Do not under salt your pickles else they turn bad over a period of time.
Categories
Appetizers/Snacks Brunch Vegetarian

Papri Chaat

As she poured melted dalda (shortening) through the metal beaker spout over the flour mix, her wrinkly fingers & eyes from behind the glasses worked in unison. She knew how to ration every drop of flowing oil to get the right texture of her papris to a flaky wafer. Half teaspoon more and you overdo it, one teaspoon less and you have missed the ratios for sure.I have always know indian pastry doughs made by badi mummy (grandmom) as something which were either done perfect or not done at all.

I still shy away from measuring cups & spoons when making doughs, its something I do with pure impulse & feeling. The moment I start measuring,I start to doubt my dough handling skills. There is no fun left in it anymore. A sort of nervousness takes over.Doing it for years now, I now have a feel of just how grainy the oil moistened flour should feel & can decipher what a difference half a teaspoon here & there can make. At the same time it intimidates me how foolproof this indian way of cooking is. Imperfect yet classy in its own way.

Las Vegas is quite a sob story when it comes to chaat. The less I talk about what they serve at indian restaurants in here, the better.I made papri chaat last week to salvage our month long cravings.From halal food stalls in Times Square & food trucks in LA to Toofani chaat corners in Allahabad & kathi roll vendors in Delhi, me & P  share an endless love. Creative, delicious, affordable, addictive, filling ..I fall short of adjectives to describe the street food experience. Its pure joy, a soul satisfying, deep fried haven for us. Whenever I make it at home, I choose to overlook healthy options, its like stealing the soul of chaat – I feel strongly about it.

Chaat’ is a generic word used for savory delicacies served at roadside stalls in India.The best part about indian street food is that it can be made to please all tastebuds- you decide how spicy, tangy, salty or hot you want it. Papri or Papdi are deep fried,wafer like salted discs which are served with a “to taste”  assortment of chickpeas or dried peas, hari (green) & imli (tamarind) chutneys,chopped /grated vegetables, powdered spices & yogurt. Its messy, crumbly, tangy, crunchy..oh so good!

Ingredients

Papri/Papdi  (Yields about 40-50 papris)

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp sooji (semolina)
  • 1/4 cup atta (all-purpose flour)
  • 1/2 tsp ajwain (carrom seeds)
  • 3/4 tsp fine salt
  • 2-3 tbsp canola/vegetable oil (see method )
  • 1/3 cup+1 tbsp luke warm water (see method)
  • Oil for frying
Note : Ajwain or Carrom Seeds aid in digestion & add a typical aroma & taste to the dough.
You can skip them if you dont have them & still make the papris.
Assembling a Papri Chaat Platter to Serve 2 :-
  • 12-15 papris 
  • 1/4 cup boiled Chickpeas
  • 1 small potatoes, boiled , peeled & cubed
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt whisked with 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp Imli (Tamarind) Chutney
  • 2 tbsp Hari (Green) Chutney
  • Chopped Onion, cilantro (or veggies of choice)
  • 1/4 tsp Kala Namak (black salt, available at indian stores)
  • 1/4 tsp Chaat Masala (available at indian stores)
  • pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp roasted cumin powder
  • Besan Sev (Chickpea flour snack, available at indian stores, optional)

Method

Making Papris

In a bowl, mix together the flours, ajwain & salt. Start with 2 tbsp of oil  and start working it into the mixture. Keep on adding oil a teaspoon at a time & working it into the flour till you are just able to form a firm ball of the flour between your fingers.

Next, slowly add the water (1/4 cup to start with) and start kneading the dough. We are looking for a firm dough here (not soft & pliable).Knead the dough on a hard surface for about 3-4 minutes.Do not over knead.When just kneaded,the dough will appear tight & hard but don’t worry, after resting it will be okay.

Transfer the dough to the bowl, cover with a damp cloth & let rest for at least 20 minutes. (do not skip this step)

Divide the rested dough into about 3 equal parts. Take one part and roll it into a thin sheet.The sheet should be rolled as thin as a cotton cloth. Once rolled, if you want you can prick the sheet with a fork to prevent puffing while frying. I prefer papris slightly puffed so I do not prick. Use a round cookie cutter or a jar lid to cut into round shapes. Transfer the rounds to a plate & place covered with damp cloth till you are about to fry. Gather the remaining dough & repeat rolling & cutting till whole of the dough is exhausted.  Repeat the same for all portions of the dough.

Heat oil in a frying pan on medium heat. The quantity of oil used should be enough to cover the papris completely while they fry. To check the temperature of oil, pinch a little dough & tip it into the heating oil. The dough should sizzle to the top slowly without changing color. If it sizzles immediately, reduce the heat & let the oil temperature come down.

Tip in the cut papris into the heated oil, few at a time. Do not overcrowd or stack the papris in the frying pan. Fry the papris on medium-low heat until both sides are golden brown (about 3-5 minites). Papris should be fried at medium- low heat else they will become soft after cooling.

Remove browned papris with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel to soak up excess oil.Fry all the papris in batches.

Cool completely & immediately store in an air tight container for up to 4 weeks.

For assembling chaat  :-

Layer the papris in a plate. You can crush them into bite size pieces if you want or make individual servings. Top with boiled chickpeas & potatoes.Drizzle with yogurt, chutneys & chopped onions. Sprinkle kala namakchaat masala, roasted cumin powder & red pepper flakes if using. Top up with chopped cilantro & sev. Serve immediately.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by.

Categories
Appetizers/Snacks Baking Easy Recipes Lentils Snacks

Bajri (Millet) Crackers With Chana Dal dip

A sense of rejuvenation entwines me as I hit the publish button.Being out of touch for more than 4 months, a part of me always felt incomplete,unfulfilled. While I was away, I realized the role of blogging in my life – I missed it. Thank you so much for all your kind emails, tweets & messages. I knew I had to be back in action soon. I am doing better than before & hope to update this space often now.

Last few months have been rough, less of ups, lots of down. Keeping health issues aside, my mind was irrational, loud & restless. I had loads to complain & challenge. I denied the things which came my way, I failed to handle them. Sometimes, life takes its own course and no matter how hard you try to tame it, it does not reciprocate. The very fact that I felt a certain way at that point in my life, I had no choice but to understand that this was meant to be.The sooner I did , the easier it got. The more I questioned : “Why me?”, the difficult it became. There was no force within me that could change the situation, no magic wand or a click of fingers to set it all right, all I  got was inner strength to sail me  through. When faith falters & hopes diminish, its best to reach out for that simmering potential inside to navigate, exactly what I want to do right now.

For long, I wanted to bake crackers at home,or let me put it this way-  I wanted to experiment with savory, whole grain flour baking with an indian touch.I tried the cracker recipe below with a mix of whole wheat & fine wheat flour a couple of times, but it left me wanting for more – something more healthy perhaps? and simple,crispy, spicy too at the same time.Not the most fancy looking crackers around- these are spiced similar to deep fried indian snack – mathri and I think I got what I was looking for this time. Bajri or millet is a gluten free, whole grain widely popular in India to make porridge, flatbreads or pancakes. I did not like it much the first time I ate it but now, its an acquired taste for me especially when I want a break from carbs.

The dip to go along is made with chana (split bengal gram) lentils, which is my new found way to eat them. Rated lowest GI (glycemic index) lentils, these score high when it comes to an earthy, nutty taste.Chana dal yields better amongst lentils to dip-making coz they do not turn into a slimy mush if cooked properly. Easily available in indian stores & tasting similar to garbanzo beans, these lentils are something you would want to stock on.

P,did not care much for the crackers but liked this dip.He polished it off with baked potato chips in the name of healthy food.I found myself snacking on these batch after batch. Somehow the combo is addictive – reminds me of the rajasthani meals at Dilli Haat – bajra roti & masala chana dal.

Yield – About 2 dozen

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fine bajri atta (millet flour)
  • 1/2 cup atta (whole wheat flour)
  • 2.5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp ajwain (carom seeds)
  • 1/4 tsp red chilli flakes (optional)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup + 3 tbsp water (or as required for kneading the dough)
Method
Combine all the ingredients except water in a big bowl. Rub with fingers till the mixture resembles grains.
Start adding water slowly & mixing with hands so as to form a soft, pliable dough. Cover the dough with a damp kitchen towel & let rest for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile preheat oven to 3o0 F / 150 C. Line a cookie sheet with parchment.
Knead the rested dough for 2-3 minutes and pinch into equal portions. Thinly roll out the equal portions on a flour dusted surface or between sheets of parchment.
With the help of fork, pick the rolled dough so that it does not fluff while baking. Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut the rolled dough into desired shape.
 Transfer to the cookie sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes or until done & crisp. You will need to check midway & flip the crackers to ensure even baking.
Cool the crackers on a rack and store in air tight containers for upto 2 weeks.
Chana Dal Dip (Makes about 1.5 cups)
Ingredients
  • 1 cup chana dal (split bengal grams)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • salt to taste
  • 3 cups water
  • 4 cloves garlic,chopped
  • 1 ” fresh ginger shoot, chopped
  • 1 serrano chili, chopped (remove seeds to adjust heat)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp roasted cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil + more to drizzle
Method
 

Soak the chana dal in water for atleast 6 hours or overnight. Pressure cook the dal along with turmeric powder & salt in the soaking liquid on high for 2 whistles. Alternatively you can cook the dal in a pot with lid (for about 40-45 minutes) till tender.

Transfer the cooked & cooled dal to the food processor along with garlic, ginger, cilantro chili & lime juice. Pulse 10-12 times slowly adding oil until smooth. You can further adjust the consistency using the reserved cooking liquid. Check the salt & adjust if required.
Drain & reserve the liquid (this liquid can be used as stock or to knead savory doughs).Let the dal cool to room temperature.
Transfer to the serving bowl, drizzle some olive oil, garnish with chopped cilantro & serve along with bajri crackers.(recipe above)
Store refrigerated in air tight container for  4-5 days.

Note : This recipe has a strong garlic flavor. You can reduce or omit garlic quantity as per your liking.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!