Ladoos are must on any indian festival and these nutty beauties are super easy to whip up. Mawa makes them so creamy and melt in the mouth and the floral notes of rose water together with meaty pistachios is a match made in heaven. If you are still looking for something easy to make on Holi, try these ladoos.
These are ridiculously easy to whip up and all you need is 3 ingredients. When a recipe calls for few ingredients, I recommend good quality ones since it makes all the difference in the taste. Use fresh pistachios which are sweeter in taste, mawa with a good quality of fat content(you won’t need much ghee then) and rose water or rose essence that is not more than 6 months old.
These ladoos are not overly sweet and I like them that way, you can increase the powdered sugar by couple tablespoons if desired. I like to chop the pistachios on a cutting board instead of using a grinder, I feel that way I can control the texture of the nut powder and the taste is better too.
1-2tspghee (optional, if needed for rolling ladoos)
Add mawa/mava to a nonstick pan. Place the pan on stove,switch on the stove on low heat. Let the mawa soften. Mawa softens very quickly and needs attention so that it dosent get burnt. Keep stirring using a spatula.
I didnt need to add any extra ghee to mawa, if you feel your mawa is on a dry side add a tablespoon or so of ghee.
Once mawa is soft(dont let brown), immediately add the sugar and pistachios together. Mix well untill nicely combined. Keep the heat low, cook everything for 1-2 minutes.
Switch off the stove and mix in the rose water and chopped pistachios(if using). Wait for 5 minutes or until the mixture feels cool enough to handle. Dont let the mixture completely cool down.
Smear some ghee on your hands and divide into 8-10 equal portions. Roll into smooth ladoos. Store for 3-4 days refrigerated.
I lightly dry toast the pistachios for 2-3 minutes on a hot skillet. Don’t let the color change, toasting helps in blooming the oils of nuts.
The sugar quantity can go up to 9-10 tablespoons if you like sweeter ladoos.
I chop the pistachios on a cutting board to a coarse fine powder instead of using a grinder. It takes a bit of effort but the texture and taste of nuts is really better that way.
You can replace rose with cardamom or saffron flavor if desired.
Aloo chaat from streets of Delhi is one of the best things. Shallow fried potatoes in ghee tossed with powdered spices, drizzled with chutney and served warm with a little bit of grated mooli (daikon)or onions. The chaat stalls selling this chaat can be spotted from a mile away thanks to the aroma of frying potatoes. If you take a stroll in neighborhoods of Delhi particularly in the evening, you will find a chaat corner frying this chaat on every other block.
Traditionally, they fry the potatoes in ghee and hence the aroma is so amazing. Sweet, spicy, sour and deep fried- this is one amazing chaat recipe which can be quickly whipped to satiate your cravings. It can be a quick snack for any time. Just cut up the potatoes, mix the spices and go for it.
I used a mixture of different potato varieties I could find in store. Sweet potatoes(orange & purple) and regular russet/gold and red potatoes. The naturally sweet potatoes really added so much taste to this chaat, they were my favorite, to to forget the beautiful natural colors they added.
A few things to be kept in mind when making this Chaat:-
Soaking the Potatoes:- Even though I say that this is a quick snack for anytime and really you can cut up potato chunks and make this any time, I suggest planning a bit and soaking the potatoes for at least 3-4 hours. Slice or cut potatoes in chunks , I leave the skin on because it adds a nice flavor, and soak the potatoes in sharp salty water for good 3-4 hours. The water will pull out the starches since starches are water soluble and the salt will season the potatoes in the process leading to a super flavorful potato for frying. Soaking also helps in making the potatoes crispy as the quantity of starches goes down.
Fried potatoes are the key. Shallow fried potatoes usually fried to order in the center of a large heavy tawa(griddle) in ghee give the best flavor. However, if you don’t want to use just ghee, 100% ghee, use a neutral oil like grape seed or sunflower and add a tablespoon of ghee for that particular aroma. Shallow fry on both sides with golden crispy edges for the best taste.
Kind of potatoes. Avoid using a high starch content potato like Russet. In India, usually the winter crop potatoes are the best choice since they are waxy and have a good starch to moisture ratio. Here I used a mix of potatoes- sweet potatoes, purple yams, red potatoes, idaho yellow potatoes and a few slices of russet for a great balance of flavors and textures. Bonus point being that it made the chaat super colorful with multitude of natural colors.
Spices and Chutneys– The best time of add the spices is right after the potatoes come out of the oil.The oil helps in sticking the spices to the potatoes and makes them super flavorful. As for the chutneys, you can add any kind but on the streets, they add tamarind chutney. I add the tamarind chutney, lot of it and instead of green chutney, I add a lot of fresh herbs like cilantro & mint and green chilli slices. Biting into leafy herbs gives the chaat another layer of taste.
Thoroughly wash the poatoes. You can peel off the skin if you wish, I dont. Cut into slices (about 1/4th inch). You can cut in chunks as well.
Take a large bowl. Place the potatoes and sprinke 1/2 tbsp of salt. Add enough water to the bowl to cover the poatoes. Soak the potatoes for 3 hours.
Drain and discard the water and using a kitchen towl dry out the potatoes thorougly.
In a cast iron skillet heat up 2 inches of oil. I recommend taking a wide pan instead of a kadai/wok for frying. Heat on medium heat till you see ripples on the surface.
Add the poatoes in a single layer in the ghee. Dont overcrowd the pan, fry in 2 or more batches if needed. Fry on medium high heat till you see that potatoes are nicley browned and are crispy. Use a fork to make sure that they are tender and cooked. Dont overfry, The poatatoes should have a soft inside and crispy outside.
Take out the potatoes, dont drain the extra oil. Add the spices powders and chutney immediately. Or you can arranged the potatoes on a plate and sprinkle the spices and chutney.
Add herbs, cut up chillies, onions and daikon. Scatter some pomergrante arils and serve warm.
You cam make this chaat with regular potatoes.
Feel free to add yogurt and green chutneys if you wish.
Hello dear readers, before we hop to our little food talk, I would like your support in nominations of this year’s Saveur blog awards. It would mean a world to me if you could stop by for a couple of minutes and drop in a nomination for my little blog if you like & appreciate what I am doing here.The nominations are open till March 13th 2015You do not need to sign up or anything. Just basic information and an email address will do. Thank you so much.
Now to our food chat! You know there is a thing about simple things in life. Many of the simple foods get lost in the day today ritual of making something ‘special’ for dinner.You don’t even realize often that the main dish tastes so awesome because of the sides that accompany it. These simple dishes are so worthy for the taste and choice they lend to our dinner table that I just realized the other day that I need to include them here, for this blog is my day today cooking journal, an agglomeration of our favorite foods.
Talking about favorites, this is one of the husband’s favorite vegetarian dish.It is something that is cooked every alternate week for dinner, it is tasty and wholesome.Something unusual with bell pepper or shimla mirch (as we call it in hindi) other than adding it to noodles or stir fries. Lightly spiced peppers and potato stir fried in oil and served with lentils and rice. I have made it umpteen times in the last few years of our marriage and now I can cook this in my sleep. So very simple and quick to prepare.Not much measuring or skills needed here for this is a very straight recipe with basic indian ingredients.
Must have been the month of February.On this short trip to Delhi where days pass by in a blink,I made it a routine to accompany mom to the weekly monday bazaar in our neighborhood. A sabzi bazaar (farmer’s market) which I had been visiting after a decade but still could manage to remember faces of few vendors from the fading memories of so many years of living faraway. The same chaos & crowds, everybody in a hurry, women holding kids with one hand & vegetable bags in other, bargaining & arguing over pennies,buzzing street side eateries and rows and rows of fresh fruits, vegetables, colorful spices,handmade pottery and fragrant marigold flowers on display.An idyllic time,with spring in full swing and fresh produce in the sight.The green bell peppers, which were in season at that time in India are much smaller in size, crunchy and strong-tasting than the ones we get here in the States. I have never seen those over here.
You know with such recipes, no two people will have the same way of making them. This is how I make my version with basic pantry spices, tomatoes, garlic and lots of kasuri methi(dry fenugreek leaves) at the end. It pairs well with steamed basmati rice – dal tadka and a side of mango pickle.You could also wrap it up in triangle parathas (flatbread) and green chutney for a hearty lunch.The recipe is vegan & gluten free friendly.
2 large green bell peppers (or use 1 each of red & one green pepper, see notes)
1 large yellow potato
4 tbsp mustard oil (substitute with olive or canola)
1/4 tsp salt
1 medium red onion (~1/3 cup when chopped)
2 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 small tomatoes (~1/2 cup when finely chopped)
3/4 teaspoon coriander powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/4 teaspoon amchoor (dry mango powder, or substitute with fresh lime juice at end)
3/4 teaspoon red chilli powder (or cayenne adjust to taste)
1 teaspoon kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves, skip if not available)
1/4 tsp garam masala (optional)
salt to taste
You can mix up red bell peppers and green peppers in this recipe for more color & taste variation.I do it many times and like how red bell peppers add a sweet note to it.
You can use boiled or par boiled potatoes in this recipe if you want to make it quicker. But I prefer cooking them in the same pan as the rest of the curry, since they taste better with those sticky bits at the bottom of the pan.
To retain the green color of the bell peppers, do not cover them for more than 2-3 minutes covered with lid after you add them to the pan.
Wash the bell peppers, clean & discard the seeds & veins and dice them in 2″ pieces. Also wash the potatoes and peel (or not) the skins. Cut the potatoes in similar size as the bell peppers and let soak in a bowl of water until you are ready to cook. Dry the potatoes using a kitchen or paper towel before adding it to the pan.
In a heavy bottomed, wide saute pan (I use my 10″) or a kadhai(indian wok),heat up the oil on medium till you see light ripples on the surface. Reduce the heat to low and add the chopped onion and potatoes to the hot oil. Add the cumin seeds and 1/4 to salt and stir so that the potatoes are covered in oil. On low heat, cover the pan and let cook for 2-3 minutes till the potatoes begin to soften. Add the chopped tomatoes next along with coriander, red chili, turmeric and amchoor powder. Stir around and cover with a lid and let cook on low heat. There should be enough liquid from the tomatoes but you can add a tablespoon or two of water if at any point you feel that the potatoes and the spice mix is sticking to the bottom of the pan.Let cook till the till the potatoes are fork tender (but not mushy).
Add the bell pepper next along with salt to taste, cover and let cook on medium heat for another 3-5 minutes till the peppers start changing color and begin to soften. I like peppers with a little bite but you can cook them longer. Add the kasuri methi & garam masala next, stir around, bump up the heat to high and let fry up for another minute or so.
I had to pick up a bunch of these slender carrots from the store and combine them with addictively bitter fresh methi (fenugreek) leaves into this delicious stir fry. An otherwise plain-looking side dish which in reality in such a perfect balance of texture and flavors, it formed a part of our winter meals just once or twice in the season because growing up, carrots were usually consumed in preparing luscious halwa or tangy winter pickles. Or mostly mum would simply cut up raw carrots into sticks and squirted fresh lemon juice & dash of chaat masala on top for a healthy snack in between meals.
Not having it often could be the reason it is one of my favorite things to prepare during colder months.Who knows? But this sweet-spicy medley, very popular in north indian parts of India, when served with piping hot yellow dal, few cut up hard-boiled eggs and hot rotis forms a super satisfying home meal in addition to being wholesome and nourishing.
I love the robust choice winter vegetables bring with them. I could go on about my love for produce at this time of the year – fleshy turnips, sweet beetroots and leafy greens.While many people find comfort in meats and poultry at this time when its dull and grey or perhaps snowy outside if you are on the east coast, I need a hearty stock of vegetables to strive and feel energetic through the season.If you are in India, where unlike here, fresh peas make an appearance in the winter months, you could be in for a really treat if you plan to make this along with those juicy, raspberry red carrots, native to the asian subcontinent which I am still to spot here.
In this recipe, you could substitute methi leaves with any bitter greens of choice – kale or turnip, radish greens work wonderfully.To balance out the sweetness from carrots and peas, you do need a bitter element so do not skip the greens. Sometimes I add diced up sweet potatoes or white potatoes for an earthy texture, making it sweet, spicy, bitter and deliciously savory side to go along dal – rice or plain parathas(flatbreads).
Talking of fresh produce, I had a chance to visit the weekly farmers market at the San Francisco Ferry Building during our trip to bay area last week. What a beautiful, fresh and gorgeous spread of produce, meats,bread and condiments it was.We spent almost half a dat there sampling cheeses, raw honey, bread & hot pizza from the stand. Here are a few pictures for you guys.
A simply spiced carrots, peas and fresh fenugreek leaves dish with warm tones of ginger & cumin which can be served as a side or a warm winter salad.
Ingredients (Serves 2-3)
4-5 medium-sized carrots (I used a bunch which had 6-7 small, slender carrots)
3/4 cup fresh or frozen peas
1 cup packed fresh methi leaves, picked
2 tbsp mustard oil (or olive oil)
1/4 tsp methi dana(fenugreek seeds)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp hing (asafoetida powder)
2 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 small roma tomato, finely chopped (yield about 2.5 tbsp)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp red chilli powder (or paprika, adjust to tolerance)
1/2″ fresh ginger shoot, finely chopped
salt to taste
1/4 tsp garam masala (optional)
1/4 tsp amchoor (dry mango powder to taste, or use fresh lemon juice to taste at the end)
Use any bitter robust green like kale (blanched) or radish & turnip greens in place of fenugreek.
We like this dish more on the sweet bitter side than with tang. Even though tomatoes & amchoor balance the sweet, depending on how acidic your tomato is, just adjust the amount of lemon or amchoor. You may or might not need it at all too.
Wash and peel the carrots. Pat them dry and dice them if you have the thicker ones, I cut them up into small rounds since mine were slender. Wash the methi leaves under running stream of water and completely dry them before chopping. If you are using fresh pea, shell the pods, if using frozen, thaw them.
In a karahi or heavy skillet, heat up the mustard oil on medium until the raw smell goes away. Once hot, temper the oil with methi dana and cumin seeds. Wait till they crackle. Turn the heat to low and immediately add the chopped garlic and hing. Wait till the garlic changes color to light brown,about 8-10 seconds.Be sure that the garlic does not burn. You can even put off the stove for few minutes if you feel that the oil is already hot enough.Then add the tomatoes & turmeric.Saute for a minute or so on medium till the tomato begins to soften. Add the carrots (and potatoes/sweet potatoes if using) and cover. Let cook for 5-7 minutes on medium low heat till the carrots become tender(or about 80% cooked).Add a little splash of water if you feel that the carrots need moisture for cooking.
Open the lid add the red chill powder along with peas, ginger and chopped methi. Add salt to taste. Stir to combine everything together. Cover again and let cook for another 3-4 minutes till the methi leaves wilt down and peas are tender. I let the vegetables have a bite so I do not cook them for too long.Adjust the time of cooking accordingly.
For the last 1-2 minutes of cooking, bump up the heat to high, add amchoor, garam masala and saute the vegetables for a minute or so.We call this process “bhuno” (saute on high heat) This makes the stir fry glisten and adds a depth of flavor.
Aloo Methi is a classic loved dish in the northern regions of india during the cold months. As soon as the winter knocks in, a lot of leafy greens could be spotted in the farmers markets as well as on the cart of the sabzivala,the vegetable vendor who used to bring us fresh produce everyday from his fertile patch.A regular for more than a decade at my grandma’s house, he would bring in a mix of fresh coriander,petite yellowish cauliflowers and slender radishes and potatoes from his patch,also making sure to stop by the mandi (wholesale market) everyday to stock up his cart with a few pounds of tomatoes, onions and other seasonal produce.Then all day long, he went knocking door to door selling his grown and bought to old and new customers. We did not go to grocery stores then, in those days and still such vegetable, fish and poultry vendors are responsible for fresh meals served on our tables. Every now and then if not daily, my grandma and him would have funny altercations, she complaining of the vegetables not being ‘that’ fresh and costly, him arguing that his wife cooked a delicious sabzi last night with the same thing. A lot of time my grandma would haggle for that extra bunch of cilantro or few limes for it was deemed totally legit to get free herbs after a hefty purchase.On most days, he gave in to the sweet old lady, packing in a few ounces of green chillies and fragrant mint along.As the winters ripened, the leafy produce- spinach, methi, beet & turnip greens, radish, mustard became cheaper and cheaper. Needless to say, it would be a green fiesta on our dinner table on most of the days, a garlicky methi aloo to spinach dal to palak paneer or sarson ka saag (mustard curry) Methi (fenugreek leaves) are used a lot in north indian cooking.Here in the States, you can easily find them fresh in the indian/pakistani stores once the autumn starts to knocks. Avoid using frozen if you can. Broadly, there are two varieties of methi– the small one, with round, dark green and extremely fragrant & delicate leaves called the kasuri methi.You would have noticed me using it a lot in my recipes. It has a short season and even during winters it is available only for a couple of weeks. The other variety, the larger one is less fragrant in comparison but has a longer season and can be homegrown easily from methi dana (fenugreek seeds). In indian cooking, seeds as well as leaves, both are used their piquant, bitter flavor. Methi has a unique, tangy bitter flavor which is definitely an acquired taste but trust me it is addictive.My grandma always used to mix fresh dill (sooaa) leaves whenever cooking methi aloo (potatoes) in a karahi(indian wok). Even though I never liked addition of dill then but now in all these years, it has changed.However, do not use a lot of dill as it is a strong herb and can overpower the methi taste. Potatoes lend the dish a nice, comforting earthy flavor as well as balance the bitterness of the greens. Do not be tempted to reduce potato quantity coz then the stir fry will come come very bitter. The dish is generously flavored with garlic and dried chillies and is a perfect accompaniment to steamed basmati rice – dal and a side of mango pickle. The dish keeps very well for hours so you could also wrap up the stir fry in triangle paratha(flatbread) for a hearty lunch at work or school. The dish gets better the next day so plan a few leftovers if you like.
Methi Aloo – Fenugreek With Potatoes
Ingredients (Serves 2-3)
3 cups methi (fenugreek leaves)
3-4 tbsp pure mustard oil (mustard oil adds a authentic flavor but olive/canola oil can be used)
heaped 1/4 tsp methi dana (fenugreek seeds)
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1/8 tsp hing powder (asafoetida)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1-2 whole dried kashmiri chilies
1/4 tsp red chilli powder (or cayenne)
scant pinch of turmeric powder
1/4 tsp amchoor (dry mango powder)
2-3 stalks fresh dill leaves, chopped (about 2 tbsp) (Optional can be skipped)
2 medium potatoes, boiled, peeled and cubes ( or 7-8 baby potatoes)
Pick up the tender shoots and leaves from the long, hard methi stems. Wash the leaves under running water to remove all the dirt. On a clean kitchen towel, spread the washed methi to completely air dry for 30-45 minutes. If you are in a hurry, use paper towel to absorb all the moisture. Ensure that the leaves are totally dry once you are ready to cook else the stir fry will come out watery. Chop the leaves and set aside.
In a karahi or heavy skillet, heat up the mustard oil on medium until the raw smell goes away. Once hot, temper the oil with methi dana and cumin seeds. Wait till they crackle. Turn the heat to low and immediately add the chopped garlic, hing and dried chillies. Wait till the garlic changes color to light brown and the dried chillies swell, about 10-12 seconds in hot oil. Take utmost care that the garlic does not burn. You can even put off the stove for few minutes if you feel that the oil is already hot enough.
Next, add the red chill, turmeric and amchoor powder. Stir for 3-4 seconds and add the chopped methi leaves. Stir to combine. The methi leaves will wilt down in 1-2 minutes and you will see they start wilting down and water of the methi separating. Let cook uncovered for 3-4 minutes on medium low heat and then add the dill along with potatoes. Add the salt next. Stir so that everything is combined.
Cover the karahi with a lid and let cook for 3-5 minutes until everything is cooked through. The methi will be a darker shade of green at the end of cooking and will stick to potatoes. Put off the heat and let sit for at least 1-2 hours before serving (this is important).
The silence of the afternoon in the house is totally different from the one at night.It is not as quiet and soothing as when its dark outside but definitely relaxing. I sit on our beige couch tucking a pillow below the knees and legs streched out to rest on the coffee table. It the time when I mostly hear the day than just seeing it. Sounds of normalcy, sounds of neglect, symphony of routine. The tap of each key on the board is louder than usual as I write this, also the tick tocking of the clock above. I raise my head and through the blinds witness how extremely windy it is outside, the tall desert palms forcibly swaying against the milky blue sky. The street is that quite so the humming of the sprinkler in the front yard is evident even through those noise proof panes and the dancing water droplets in the glaring yellow sun promising that sweet summer days are not far. The irregular clattering above our fireplace indicating how we have been putting off that exhaust pipe repair and the aquarium in the is screechy than usual due to the interrupted flow of the water through its uncleaned filter.My little girl naps in the afternoon and since I could never abide by the concept of afternoon siesta and certainly do judge people who follow it (well almost) these few hours of the day are most precious, ‘me’ time as they fancifully term it. I want to soak up in the nothingness of this moment before I rush back to regular household chores. Afternoon is also time for tea. Something simple, cozy and warm to sip on while I spend few hours practically doing nothing. The humid air in the room is intense with the aroma of lemongrass, time to get up, strain the tea and rest the hissing pot.I guess that the neighbors are soaking in their pool for I can hear a water splash every now and then, lots of laughter too.Engrossed in ‘me’ time, at the back of my head, ‘what to cook of dinner’ thoughts also hover by. I ponder over what my refrigerator stocks and mentally tick up and down a lot of ideas.It could be a cauliflower for dinner kind of day today. Some days inspiration does not come easy, particularly when we are tired of regular turmeric hued aloo gobi. If I want to make something different which does not need me to continuously stand beside the pot but still with deliciously deep flavors,I make this recipe, one of my mom’s best.
Ingredients (Serves 2-3)
4 tbsp virgin mustard oil (use olive or sunflower/grape seed)
3/4 cup red onions, thin sliced
1 bay leaf
1/2 ” cinnamon stick
1 black cardamom, cracked open
3 whole dry chillies (adjust to tolerance, any mild hot variety will work)
Cut the cauliflower into florets. Peel the potatoes and cut them roughly the same size as cauliflower florets. Wash thoroughly under running water & let the water drain completely.Ensure that the cauliflower and potatoes are completely dry, use kitchen towel if required.
Using your coffee grinder, grind black peppercorns, cumin seeds, cloves, and ajwain(if using). Mix these ground spices along with nutmeg and salt to the yogurt.
In a large bowl, combine the cauliflower and potatoes with spice mixed yogurt and let sit.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a heavy bottomed pot with lid on medium heat.Once the oil is just about to smoke, add the chopped onions to the pot. Also add the bay leaf, cinnamon, chilies and black cardamom. Cook the onions till golden brown. About 5-7 minutes. Next, add the grated ginger & garlic to the pot. Cook for 1 minute.Add the tomatoes to the pot and let cook for 2-3 minutes till they start to sweat.
Lower the heat, wait for few minutes (very important to avoid curdling of yogurt)and add the marinated cauliflower to the pot next and combine well.Cook for 2-3 minutes with constant stirring, You will slowly see yogurt releasing water.Cover the pot and let cook to almost done,about 18-20 minutes. (This time will depend on your variety/size of cut too)
Lift the lid, check and adjust the salt now. If you want gravy, add water to the pot and let cook for another 5-8 minutes. Try not to stir the pot else the vegetables will turn mushy.
Remove from heat and let sit covered for another at least half an hour. Garnish with cilantro and serve warm.