July 25, 2012

Onion Pakoda | Vengaya Pakoda | Onion fritters

Onion Pakodas (or deep fried Onion fritters) and Monsoon evenings are a match made in heaven. I had longg resisted making any deep fried snacks at home, till last Sunday evening both S and kiddo opined to eat it. Boy! Did I race into the kitchen to make these, along with a mixed bhajia platter that disappeared before I could click pics.. I had to make these again, just to take pics (and of course to devour them all over again) ! You can bet we didnt look at the bathroom scale for days after this snacking :)

These pakoras bring back distinct memories of an old lady who dished out these fried delights near my school, and these pakodas' aroma attacked our nostrils everytime we passed by her stall (or was it just a shack) every evening on our way back from school. Thanks to my grandmom, eating out was considered a sin (she came about accepting us eating out at restaurants with a pinch of salt till the very end). Although paati (grandmom) and mom made this at home, nothing could beat the garlicky pungency of the pakodas made by that old lady near school and today's Onion Pakoras made at home somehow oozed of that fragrance as they came out of the frying pan. Sending this to Day 2 of BM # 18 under "Warm foods to beat the rain" theme. It couldnt have been warmer or spicier or crispier than this :) Check out the fellow marathoners here

Prep time - 15 mins
Frying time - 10 mins
Serves - depends on how much you get to munch :) :)
Difficulty level – Easy
  • Besan / gram flour – 1 cup
  • Onions – 2 large (sliced thin)
  • Rice flour – ¼ cup
  • Salt – to taste
  • Red Chilli powder – ½ TBSP
  • Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
  • Hing / Asafoetida – 1/8 tsp
  • Dry Coriander seeds – 1 TBSP
  • Saunf / Fennel seeds – ½ tsp
  • Oil – to deep fry
  • Ajwain / Carrom seeds – ½ tsp (crushed slightly)
  • Water – about 1 -2 tsp

1) Some people like to add soda to this to make it crisper. I didnt add the same
2) To pep this much more, you can add 1 or 2 deseeded and finely minced green chillies.
3) Preferably make the batter sans any water. The moisture from the salted onions is more than enough to make a batter. Ensure the onions are finely chopped lengthwise to give it a crisper look and taste.
4) Addition of coriander and fennel seeds are totally optional, but we loved them for that ethereal flavour. Addition of ginger-garlic paste is also preferred by some, but I avoided adding that to preserve the flavour of gram flour and carrom seeds.

1) Slice onions finely into hair like thin strips. In a large bowl, sieve besan, salt, rice flour twice over. Add turmeric powder, hing, red chilli powder to this and mix well.
2) Dry roast the coriander seeds and fennel seeds separately. Cool and coarsely powder it with a pestle and mortar.
3) Add the chopped onions to the besan mixture and mix well. Let it rest for 5-10 mins
Now add the coriander-fennel powder, ajwain seeds and mix the onion-besan mixture. The salt from the onions should be enough to get a thickish batter. Use 1 tsp of water if its absolutely necessary.
4) Meanwhile heat oil for frying. When it is hot, turn the heat to low and take a small ladleful of hot oil to the besan-onion mixture. With a ladle / broad spoon, mix this well (Warning ! Do not use hands to mix, the oil will scald your fingers). You should get a thick batter that you spoon out or use your wet fingers
5) Turn on the oil pan to medium-high heat now. With a spoon or with slightly wet fingers, pinch out small portions of the onion-besan dough into the oil  and fry them in batches on medium-high flame till they turn golden brown and crisp
( Note: you are allowed to munch on all this batch and the next even while making these pakodas – try resisting that thought J)
6) Repeat for remaining dough.
7) Serve warm as it is or with coconut chutney (who has time to wait for the chutney to be made when the pakodas are sooo inviting !!) 

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July 24, 2012

Veg Fried Rice with Low cal Veg Manchurian : A perfect way to beat the monsoon blues !

Its raining off and on here in Mumbai, but not too much to crave for Fried Delights which I shake away with sadness due to health concerns. But surely crave for some warm and hearty meal while I sit by the window seeing the raingod's fury this evening ! Hunger pangs strike,and while the heart says I must reach for the nearest pack of fast food, the mind is dominating today, and sense prevails ! And then I make this amazing combo meal with Veg Fried Rice and a Low Cal Veg Manchurian gravy. Its a mind blowing combo, ordered often at restaurants.

But with the MSG scare and the monsoons, we don’t eat out Chinese that often.. Boy,am I glad I made this in slightly larger quantity, while serving it for dinner.Kiddo and S loved it a lot, and am a much relieved person to have fed something healthy from the Indo-chinese stable,restaurant style :) While the ingredients  or the method listed below might be a lengthy one, its made with everyday staples available at your house, and is quite easy to put together with adequate preps... Do try this out for a warm, spicy and filling meal, to fill you and your senses on a rainy day !

Prep time – 20 mins
Cooking time – 20 mins
Serves – 3
Difficulty level – Medium

(A) Fried rice:
  • Long grained rice – 1.5 cups
  • Finely diced veggies (carrots / beans / cauliflower) – ½ cup
  • Red Onions – 1 large (finely minced)
  • Spring onion greens chopped fine – 2 TBSP
  • Salt – to taste
  • Ginger garlic paste – ½ tsp
  • Olive oil – 2 TBSP
(B) Manchurian:

For Outer covering:
  • Maida / APF – 2 TBSP
  • Water – 4 TBSP
  • Salt – to taste

  • Diced cauliflower + beans + shredded cabbage – 1 cup
  • Salt – to taste
  • Ginger grated – ½ tsp
  • Garlic minced – ¼ tsp
  • Cornflour – 2 tsp
  • Oil – 2 TBSP (to fry)
For the gravy:
  • Green Chilly sauce – ½ tsp
  • Soya Sauce – 2 tsp
  • Tomato Ketchup – ½ tsp
  • Cornflour – 1 tsp
  • Warm water – 3 cups
  • Spring onions – 3 tsp
  • Onions – 2 tsp
  • Capsicum / Bell pepper – minced fine – 2 TBSP
  • Oil – 3 tsp
  • Brown sugar – ½ tsp

(A) To make the fried rice – I followed the same method as Garlic Fried Rice. Replace garlic with chopped veggies as indicated above.

(B) Method for Manchurian + gravy as below...

To make the stuffing for Vegetable Manchurian:
  1. Mix the grated veggies, salt, grated ginger and garlic in a large bowl. Add cornflour and make into equal mini sized balls.
  2. Mix ingredients for covering and keep it ready.
  3. Heat the paniyaram pan (used here to cut down on deep frying) and line with 2 TBSP oil. Dip the Manchurian balls in the APF slurry and fry in the pan on medium flame for 7 – 9 mins, turning them over repeatedly so they cook and have a golden crust on all sides. Drain on absorbent paper. Retain.

To make the gravy for Manchurian:
  1. Heat olive oil. Fry onions till they turn translucent. Add spring onions and capsicum (reserve a little for topping). Add salt, brown sugar, soya sauce, green chilli sauce and tomato ketchup and the warm water. 
  2. Cover and cook for 3 - 4 mins. Now dissolve cornflour in a little water and pour onto the gravy to make it of desired thickness. Add white pepper and check for salt and spice. Addition of capsicum to this gravy is optional.
  3. Jut before serving, add the pan fried Manchurian into the simmering gravy. Let is soak for further 4-8 mins to absorb the gravy spice.Top with chopped spring onions and serve with Veg Fried rice.

July 20, 2012

Paneer Tikka Frankie | Cottage cheese stuffing in wholewheat bread (Step by Step recipe)

Kids do teach you a thing or two about life. Last week,while surfing channels on television in what was a rare "I-me" moment,I came across a Tamil Cookery show that showed this easy way to make wraps and rolls for kids. My daughter who had been deprived of her daily quota of Chota Bheem (a popular kids show) remarked “You just watch these things, never make it.” Although she had mentioned this earlier in the past, her steely determined eyes said she was serious this time. And what better way to prove “Actions are better than words” than to make these yummy Panner Tikka Frankie for her lunch – she was speechless as Paneer is truly her favourite, in any form !!

So, both the battle and the war won.Happy faces ensure happy moms, don’t they? J You can play around with the filling for this and also use Maida / APF (which I didn’t) for the outer covering. Makes for a healthy, filling snack and a great option for lunchboxes too. Who said healthy can’t be tasty ?

A tad late for the BM # 18 day 3, but this dish goes under “Stuffed Dishes”. The last 2 days saw me dishing out - Mooli-Paneer Paratha & Grilled Sandwich with Oven roasted tomatoesOff to the recipe now.

Prep time – 15 mins  + Marinade time – 10 mins
Cook time – 15 mins
Serves – 2
Difficulty level - Medium


For the covering:
  • Wholewheat flour – 1 cup
  • Ghee / clarified butter – ½ tsp
  • Salt – a pinch
  • Warm water – as required
  • Oil – to pan roast – about 2 TBSP max

  • Panner cubes – ½ cup
  • Besan / Gram flour – 3 TBSP
  • Bell pepper – ½ cup (juilennned) – I had all 3 colours so used them
  • Onion – ½ cup – finely minced
  • Olive Oil – 1 TBSP
  • Salt – to taste
  • Tomato Ketchup  - 1 TBSP (optional)
  • Dry masala powders – each ½ tsp :
  • Chaat masala, Amchur, Garam Masala, Red Chilli powder, Kashmiri mirch powder
  • Kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves) – ½ TBSP – crushed
  • Yoghurt – 2 TBSP
  • Lemon juice – 1 tsp

To prepare the marinade: Mix Paneer cubes, besan, salt, dry masala powders, yoghurt, kasuri methi well in a large bowl and set aside for 10 mins

For the outer covering: Make a dough of wholewheat flour, salt and ghee with warm water similar to a chapati dough. You may use Maida also or mix APF & Wholewheat if you prefer.

To prepare the filling: 
Heat olive oil in a non stick pan. Fry the onions till they turn pink. Saute the bell pepper till they are just crisp. Add salt and the marinated paneer and cook for a further 5 – 8 mins till the oil leaves the mixture and the yoghurt dries up leaving the mixture semi dry. Now add the tomato ketchup and stir for 1 more min. Turn off the flame and finish with lemon juice. The mixture should be dry but not too dry and the paneer cubes (if using frozen) need to have softened now, but not mushy or crumbly.

To assemble:
Pinch small balls of the dough. Roll out like a small chapatti. Roast on a hot tava for 20 secs only on each side withoutoil. Remove to a dry plate. Add 1 TBSP of the filling, quickly seal on both sides and put it back on the hot tava. Drizzle ¼ to ½ tsp oil and roast for further 45 – 90 secs. Flip on to a serving plate and secure with a tooth pick and serve. Repeat for rest of the dough till the filling lasts.

July 18, 2012

Grilled Sandwich with oven roasted tomatoes, bell pepper & Cucumber

Sandwiches on the go is anytime convenient for me : be it at work or even lazy brunch on weekdays, when you just cook for yourself. Given that, I have hardly posted any sandwich recipes on my blog, although I make some for myself, quite often with brown bread. Today’s dish is a super delicious and utterly simple Grilled Sandwich with oven roasted tomatoes, bell pepper & Cucumber : my favourite combo. 

Didn’t even use green chutney spread as the herbed tomatoes added to the aroma with its Italian flavours, and was perfect for a weekday lunch along with a bowl of fresh salad. Let’s get on to the dish now. I have used white bread here, but you can make this with any kind of bread. Feel free to play around the stuffing too – cheese /mayo/lettuce etc to make it more attractive to kids.

Prep time : 10 mins
Grill time + oven time : 20 mins
Serves : 2
Difficulty level : Easy

  • White bread – 8 slices
  • Butter – 1 TBSP – melted
  • Olive oil -  1 TBSP
  • Firm, ripe tomatoes – 2 nos
  • Bell pepper – 1 no
  • Cucumber – 1 no (medium)
  • Salt – to taste
  • Italian seasoning mix (oregano + basil + chilli flakes) – 2 tsp
  • Crushed black pepper – ½ tsp
  • White pepper powder – ¼ tsp

1) Trim tomatoes. Cut into thick slices. Pre heat oven to 150 deg C and line a baking tray with foil, slightly grease. Place the tomato slices on it, sprinkle olive oil, salt and Italian seasoning and grill for 8 – 10 mins till they shrivel and they are slightly roasted. Keep aside.
2) Trim and chop cucumber and bell pepper into roundels.
Meanwhile, heat a grill / sandwich maker. Slather butter on both sides. On one slice, place a few slices of grilled tomatoes, cucumber and bell pepper rings. Sprinkle white and black pepper powder. Add Italian seasoning again if you wish.
3) Close with another slice. Grill for 1-2 mins on both sides till done.Repeat for remaining slices.
4) Cut up and serve hot with any salad / fresh fruit for breakfast or brunch.

Linking to BM # 18 under "Stuffed dishes" and also to "Sandwich recipes"

July 17, 2012

Panner - Mooli Multigrain Paratha | Stuffed wholegrain Indian flatbread with Cottage cheese & Radish

Sometimes the strangest of things happen in my kitchen. Just as I plan my week ahead for breakfast and kiddo / hubby's lunchboxes, I fall behind as to what to make for lunch or dinner for myself. And when I do crave for something really rich and filling, I seem to have a little of this and a little of that.. Which is exactly what happened when I started out to make myself a lusciously spicy Paneer Paratha for my lunch.

But Paneer (Cottage Cheese) , which is a staple ingredient in my refigerator went amiss with only a few cubes remaining, which wouldnt suffize for the Parathas. And there wasn't any Palak either to make Palak Parathas. And low cal meant skipping the potatoes for Aloo Parathas. With the rains pouring down since last week, I wasnt ready to tread out in the Mumbai monsoon to pick up any supplies.

So, to cut a long story short, I mixed up the grated paneer with some radish begging to be used, and there it was  ! ! A perfectly stuffed Paneer- Mooli Paratha (although I dont roll them that thick like the Punjabi version - I like mine to be slightly thinnish). Lapped this up with some Curd and I was good to go! 

The best part of this was I also used a few teaspoonfuls of different Attas (flour) to make this, so just two of them was quite filling to grab on the go ! Sending this to BM # 18 under "Stuffed Dishes".

 (Pardon the pix on this dish, the monsoon outside provided absolutely no light at all, to click this pic)
Prep time  - 20 mins
Cooking time – 15 mins
Serves – 2
Difficulty level – Medium

Flour Mix:
  • Wholewheat flour – 8 TBSP
  • Ragi /Finger millet flour – 2 TBSP
  • Bajra – 2 TBSP
  • Jowar – 2 TBSP
  • Besan / Gram flour – 2 TBSP
Other Ingredients:
  • Turmeric   - ¼ tsp
  • Grated panner – ¼ cup
  • Grated mooli / Radish – ¼ cup
  • Salt – to taste
  • Red chilli powder – ½ TBSP
  • Chopped Coriander – 2 tsp
  • Warm water – to make the dough
  • Oil – for frying the Parathas
  1. Dry roast all the flours separately on a medium flame for 30 seconds each. Transfer to a plate.
  2. Sprinkle a pinch of salt on the grated radish and leave for 10 mins
  3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, sieve and mix all the flours, salt, turmeric and add warm water slowly to make a slightly soft dough. Keep covered for 10 mins.
  4. Note that as you are using a mixture of flours, you need to keep sprinkling very little warm water at a time to make the dough.
To prepare the stuffing:
  1. Squeeze out any excess water (and salt) from the grated radish. Repeat twice to keep the grated radish absolutely moisture free.
  2. Mix the grated paneer, grated radish, salt, coriander leaves, red chilli powder well. Make equal portions of the stuffing and keep aside.

To make the stuffed parathas:
  1. Heat a tava on medium flame.
  2. Pinch out a portion of the multi grain atta dough you have prepared.
  3. Roll to a small circle of dia 3 – 4 cms. Place one portion of the stuffing and close from the circumference of the chapatti towards the centre.
  4. Using a little more atta, roll out to desired thickness.
  5. Repeat with rest of the dough. I got 6 medium sized parathas.
  6. Fry on the hot skillet (tava) on one side with a little oil drizzled on the sides. When it is half done and brown spots appear, flip over to the other side and cook for 1 – 2 mins on medium flame
  7. In this manner, prepare all the parathas.
  8. Enjoy with a chilled cup of yoghurt & some pickle.
Also, linking to:

July 12, 2012

Tilwale Aloo | Yummy potato stir fry with sesame seeds

One can’t really go wrong with Potato right ? Wrong. I was flummoxed a few months ago when kiddo stopped eating this vegetable altogether – apart from French Fries (obviously), she didn’t like potato in any form : Cutlet Tikki  or Soup etc. She complained of a strange smell of cooked potato, and I was at wits end trying to figure out a substitute, which came in the form of Sweet Potato that I used for Chaat Croquettes / Baked Samosa / stir fry etc. She quite liked the taste (and smell) of the new vegetable , and left went on sans Potatoes for the little one, till about a week ago, the H and me happened to have this Tilwale Aloo for lunch.

She gingerly tried it, and a thousand smiles returned to her face as she quite liked it ! I did a small jig as my prayers has been answered (we moms are sooo scheming, aren’t we ?) . But she wanted Aloo (or potato) curry in this form only – nothing else would do, and I was one eager mom trying to please her no end.

So, here it goes : a simple flavoursome potato stir fry that would tickle your palates as well as is light on your tummy while being a kid pleaser too (adults needn’t be pestered to eat Potato, right ? :))

Sending this to BM # 18 under "Dry Sautes" - Day 3. The last two days saw me dishing out Mixed Veg Stir fries and Carrot-Moong Dal Stir fry. Stay tuned for new dishes under a different theme next week on BM # 18. 


Prep time – 10 mins
Cook time – 15 mins
Serves -  3
Difficulty level – Easy
Serving Suggestions : Rasam Rice or Curd rice or even as filling for sandwiches / wraps n rolls with chapattis
  • Potato – 5  to 6 medium nos
  • Oil – 1 to 1.5 tsp
  • Besan / Gram flour – 1 TBSP
  • Salt – to taste
  • Roasted sesame seeds – 1 TBSP
  • Tamarind Pulp – ½ TBSP
  • Red Chilli powder – ½ TBSP
  • Turmeric – ¼ tsp
  • Asafoetida / Hing – a generous pinch
  • Mustard seeds – ½ tsp
  • Curry leaves – few
  • Kasuri Methi – ½ TBSP – crushed lightly

1) Wash, scrub and dice potatoes to medium sized bits. I like to keep the skin on as it has many nutrients. Store in slightly warm salted water for 3 -4 mins till you finish chopping the potatoes.
2) Mix Besan, red chilli powder, turmeric & hing in a small bowl.
3) Heat oil. Splutter mustard seeds & curry leaves. Add the chopped and drained potatoes to the oil. Add salt, sprinkle some water and cook covered for 8 – 10 mins till done, but not mushy.
4) Now, add the dry spice mixture (besan + chilli powder + turmeric + hing) and give it a nice toss so the masala spreads to all the veggies
5) Now tip in the tamarind paste and toss for 2 – 3 more mins and leave the pan on medium flame till a slight crust begins to form beneath the potatoes.
6) To finish, switch off the flame and just before serving, add the roasted sesame seeds. Toss it once last time. Finish with Kasuri Methi.
7) Serve with Dal – Rice or Roti

July 11, 2012

Carrot - Moong dal Stir fry

I reckon given a chance,I would crown moong dal (or split yellow gram) the king of my kitchen. Be it Seekh kebabs , stuffed bunsKheerhalwaPongalLadooPesarattu - this lentil is soo versatile that it befits an ode sung to its praises. I totally adore this dal and today it came about so beautifully along with carrots for a simple but heavenly stir fry. 

Adapted from Mireille’s recipe (who is also incidentally my Blog Hop partner this month) where she teamed carrots with paneer, I used this lentil for a yummy curry that came together in 15 mins. Mireille's blog is extremely well organised and I found an eclectic and interesting mix of Indian and World cuisine across courses and she has been a wonderful co-blogger through our Blogging Marathon days too ! 

It helped that I had some par boiled moong on hand to create this, else you can soak the dal for 20 – 25 mins to make this too. Simple but hearty, and perfect - this gingery lemony stir fry pairs amazingly well with the Jeera Milagu Rasam for dinner.

Prep time – 15 mins
Cook time – 10 mins
Serves – 2
Difficulty level – Easy
Serving suggestions : Rasam + rice

  • Carrots – 3 medium – chopped as per your preference ( I like them finely chopped)
  • Moong Dal / stir fry – ¼ cup – soaked for ½ hour and boiled al dente
  • Salt – to taste
  • Oil – 1 tsp
  • Mustard seeds – ½ tsp
  • Ginger grated – ½ tsp
  • Red chillies (broken) – 1 or 2 (you can also replace with low spice Serrano peppers)
  • Turmeric – a pinch
  • Coriander and curry leaves – a few
  • Lemon juice – ½ TBSP (for garnish)

1) Wash, peel and dice carrots. Steam them for 10 mins (or blanch them). Cook moong dal till 90% done, but not mushy.
2) In a pan, heat oil. Splutter mustard, curry leaves, red chillies.
3) Add ginger,turmeric, blanched carrots, salt and moong dal. Stir for 3 – 4 mins
4) Switch off flame. Finish with coriander leaves and lemon juice.
5) Serve hot.

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