Thursday, 28 January 2016

Chole Tikki Chaat

 This chaat was made long back ... in fact, now that the year has changed, I can say last year.
Most probably during the monsoons.
I remember it was a gloomy week and had rained incessantly for a few days.
Cold and damp air, no sun and no appetite made us turn to something spicy and hot.
We already were drowning ourselves in big cups of ginger tea. But we needed something to munch on too. Something that is not routine.
And definitely not the daily menu of dal,roti and sabzi.

I remember I had wanted to make samosas.
Have been wanting to make some Punjabi samosas and make a post for a longish while.
But B had been asking for chole tikki for a while too.
Since I make chole at least once a week ... B loves them while I do not ... and hence plan it on the days I have chicken or fish for me, I almost always have some chole either soaking or boiled and stored in the fridge.
That way, I just have to rustle it up with the masalas thrown in and simmered for a good amount of time.

Anyway, to cut a long story short ... and to stop myself from digressing ... I decided to make Chole tikki for dinner one evening.
And took photos on the phone.
Do not let them discourage you. The actual thing is far better than what it looks like.

 This is indeed a fabulous snack that can double up as a meal.
But  it does need some prep work. In fact loads of it.
But that only makes it easy for you to serve it.

Start planning , if not a few, at least a couple of days ahead.

I soak the chana / chole first and then my plans revolve around it.
When and how will we be eating our chole is then decided.
If with rice, then for lunch. If with puris or bhaturas, then for dinner.
And if with aloo ke tikki, then as an early evening snack.
Sometimes for brunch too.

To give a clear idea on the plan ... here is how I go about it.

1. Soak the chana in the morning ... that way I can keep checking on the water level till they are well soaked.
2. Boil the chana the same evening.
Never put the soaked chana in the fridge without boiling ... it will never cook well ...i.e. soften well .... after that.
3. Boil the potatoes ... the same evening or earlier ... and store in the fridge.
4. Make the Tamarind chutney ... the same day or evening or earlier.
( Check this recipe if you have some leftover sugar syrup and want to use it. )

On the day you plan to make Chole tikki ... all you need to do is cook the chana and fry the tikkis.
And serve.
Of course, you can cook the chana earlier too. They soak up the flavours better, sitting in the fridge for a day.

How to :

The Chole -

Soak the chole for at least 6 hours.
Cook it in the pressure cooker with salt. I usually wait for at least 6 to 7 whistles, on low heat.
The cooking time will depend upon the quality of the chole you are using.

Heat cooking oil in a heavy bottomed pan or kadahi.
Fry chopped onions + grated ginger + grated garlic or garlic paste  + grated tomatoes.
Add the boiled chole + haldi powder + red chilli powder + chana masala.
Add salt and a pinch of sugar.
Fry well.
Add the water of the boiled chana or plain water, cover and cook for some time.

Lightly mash the chole a little while stirring ... that way they soak up the flavours well.
Cover and let it sit on simmer for some time. Do keep checking for water.

The chutney :
Boil tamarind pulp + jaggery + sonth (ginger powder) + black salt + black pepper powder + red chilli powder + roasted jeera powder , with a little water , till slightly thickish in consistency.

The Aloo tikkis :

Boil potatoes.
Mash with corn flour + salt + a pinch of sugar.
Shape into thick tikkis.
( Get the idea here )

Heat oil on a tawa.
Roll the tikkis on corn flour and fry on low heat till golden brown on both sides, gently pressing them all the while. 

To arrange :

Place some piping hot chole on a plate.
Place two tikkis on it.
Spread a spoonful or two of the tamarind chutney.
Sprinkle some more chola + gravy.
Spread sliced onions, smeared with salt + lemon juice, all over. 
Sprinkle some chopped, fresh coriander leaves and you are good to go.
Serve hot.

Enjoy the burst of flavours in a mouthful ... crisp tikki covering with the soft chole and the sweet, sour and spicy chutney and the crunch of tangy onion slices bringing a riot of flavours together.

Perfect for these cold winter evenings too.
Or what is left of it.

Have fun folks!

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Jaggery and Coconut stuffed sweet Paniyarams or Appes
"How many recipes do you have on your blog?"
"Around 300, maybe."
"When do you plan to cross 500 and more?"

We had just returned from my home, after that life shattering time.
It was not even a month , I would guess.
And that was B, asking me about my blog.
I gave him an incredulous look. Was he joking?
My blog is the last thing on my mind then. In fact I had forgotten that it even existed ... like a lot of other things ... then. The shock and trauma had hit me hard and I was having trouble sleeping, thinking, remembering .... all in all being a normal human being.

And he is asking about my blog?!
I could not even cook a decent meal then. I had forgotten how to cook too.
I would stand in front of the stove and stare ahead blankly. I would hold a vegetable in my hand and had no idea what to do with it.
And he is asking me write recipes?!

What I did not realise then was that it was one of B's numerous tries to bring me about.
He had thought that maybe doing what I loved doing most would at least give me and my heart some respite from the tormenting memories and pain.

And it worked ... albeit with a little time.
He kept asking me for this sabzi or that dal ... and I would go to the kitchen like a zombie and churn out the food.
But slowly I started to get into the mode of thinking. Thinking of what to cook, three times daily.
One day I even took out the camera and clicked some pictures.
Made some soups. Took out the tiles that I had bought when my kitchen was being done ... to photograph.
And slowly these efforts made their way back into my blog.

But the one thing that struck me is that I could not make tea anymore! 
Even today, the tea I make is just not edible, or drinkable, or even tolerable.
I have no idea how or why this happened .... but I cannot make a good tea anymore!
Life! And its strange ways indeed!
I made these Appes or sweet Paniyarams during sankaranti.

There is something about coconut and jaggery that fascinates me.
Mixed together, along with the infusion of the very heady green cardamom, it takes you on a whirlwind tour from temples and their prasads  .... to the kitchens of your childhood where the women of the family doled out pithes or just the narkel nadu ( coconut laddoos ).

I love the smell of jaggery and coconut being cooked together ... especially if with ghee. And sometimes, I add a good amount of freshly pounded black peppercorns.
The taste ... ah! another story altogether.
Most often I use this as a filling for the patishapta, or the bhapa pithe

I had the idli batter and some pur ready in the fridge .... so decided to make these Paniyarams or Appes.
I love the crisp covering they get when frying in the appe pan. Also, they require very little oil or ghee. Hence guilt free too.
Need :

The batter - ( find the recipe here ). It should be of free flowing consistency but not very watery.
The filling or the pur - ( find the recipe here )
A little oil or ghee

How to :

Heat an Appe pan like the one below.

Brush it with a little oil or ghee.

Pour in the batter till half full.

Place a little of the filling in it and cover with some more batter.
Cover and cook for around five minutes, on low heat.

Remove cover and flip them over.
Cook for five more minutes or till they turn golden brown and crisp, uncovered.

These can be served hot or warm.
Or at room temperature too.

But during winters, it is best to enjoy them hot.
That way, the crisp outside and the soft fragrant filling combine to give it a unique taste altogether.

I was making these in the kitchen while Mummy sat in my little kitchen chair with wheels, chatting. Papa dragged in a dining chair and B perched on the counter top.
And we chomped on these crisp appes hot out of the pan, with steaming cups of tea made by B, on a chilly winter evening.

There is a savoury version of this too, that I make often for breakfast.
Will make a post on that too ... soon I hope.

Take care folks.
And enjoy!!

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Niramish Alur Dom / No onion garlic Bengali style Dum Aloo
The house is quiet again.
Even though it was a well meaning visit by the in laws, it did not do much to cheer me up.
Only, made me ache for Bapi all the more.
Sankaranti came and went. I did make some pithas for Papa and Mummy too.
But my heart was not in them ... though I did try my best.

No ... I am giving in to moroseness again.
I have promised myself less morbidity in my posts ... so no more of it.
But I hope you will forgive me if I digress once in a while, though.

Winter has come late this time.
The days and the evenings have suddenly turned very cold. All I long for is to snuggle into a blanket and not come out at all.
Which is why, these days I have started to  cook in bulk on some days.
And use the other days to catch up on other things.
Like ... read a little.
Or knit a little.
Or do the laundry.
Or catch a movie.
Or do just plain nothing. It requires an effort ... but it is fun.
I have done it before and loved it. But right now, I wish I did not indulge in it.
Because as soon as I am idle, my mind starts its journey backwards and all the painful memories come rushing back.
So for a while, I will keep moving.

That led me to make a chart.
I selected days of the week to devote them to either cooking, making masalas, grind the pastes to freeze, preparing the atta or do the laundry ... all in bulk.
So far, it has been working well for me.
Gives me, if not whole , at least part of a day. And the evenings.
Keeping my fingers crossed.
 I had made this Alur dom sometime back and had liked it so much that I jotted down the recipe in my ToPost folder.
But I got to click some photographs only recently ... hence making this quick post.
Had made this for my pure vegetarian in laws and surprisingly, they loved it too.
(Surprised because it has the Bengali bhaja moshla ... something they are not used to.)

I could not resist adding some fresh green peas as it is winter.
You can make it plain at other times too.

How to :

Boil 4 large sized potatoes.
( I add some salt to the water when boiling them. )
Crush them and keep aside.

Grate 2 medium sized tomatoes and around 1"ginger.

Heat mustard oil.

Add 1 black cardamom + 2 whole red chilli.
Add the tomato + ginger.

Fry well for a while on high heat.
Add haldi powder + red chilli powder + dhaniya powder(2 tsp) + jeera powder(1 tsp).

Fry well till oil starts to leave sides.

Add the potato + salt + a little sugar.

Toss well. Keep mixing on low flame.

Cover and keep for 10 mins .... checking and stirring in between.

No water. But then I used a non stick kadahi.
You are not using one, you might need to check and if needed, give a sprinkle of water once in a while so that it does not burn at the bottom.

Finally add bhaja moshla , switch off heat and cover and let it stand for 5 mins.

If the tomatoes are not tangy enough, give a squirt of lemon all over it.
You may add a sprinkle of fresh coriander leaves too.
This goes best with parathas or luchis.
Or even hot rotis too.

I love to eat the leftovers( if any ) with some puffed rice.
The very Rajasthani B loves to sprinkle some namkeen on it.

Enjoy whichever way you like.
Just serve it hot.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Koraishutir Patishapta / Traditional crepes with a savoury filling of green peas
Happy new year!
Happy Makar Sankaranti!
Happy everyday!

Well, what do I say?
I have been wanting to make a post from the first day of the new year.
But then could not for obvious reasons.
And a little more.

The parents in law were here for a few days.
And as usual, it was pure mayhem at home.
Food being churned out of the kitchen throughout the day ... enough to feed an army.
Not to mention the variety.
Mom in law decided to make very one of her son's favourite dishes in exactly five days.
So morning, noon and night, the kitchen fires were a'burning.

Of course, I had to do my bit too.
Regular meals, that is. You need your dal,roti and sabzi to sustain yourself, you know.
So went the days by, with both of us jostling around in the kitchen ... utilising great restraint from pushing each other around, for space.
With the men hovering around in the background. Or whatever space is left of it.

I had started some preparations before they came, especially because Papa loves to try out new things made by me.
This time, I had made some fresh green peas pur / filling to make Matar paratha for them.
It is basically the same pur that I use to make Matarshutir kochuri.

Also, there was a batch of my all time favourite batter ... that I use to make a whole lot of other things too.

So made these savoury Koraishutir Patishaptas.

The month of Poush is a time to make Pithes in almost every Bengali household, with freshly harvested ingredients of rice , lentils and gur / jaggery.
In many small villages, traditional savoury Pithes are made too.
Many use pulses or lentils, fresh winter vegetables , ground rice and coconut to make old style, traditional pithes.
Usually, they would be cooked either by steaming, roasting or by deep frying in ghee.

The savoury pithes that Thamma made usually had Moong dal as a part ... either as the covering or the filling. There is especially one, that I loved, that had a mix of moong dal as well as coconut.
Hope to make a post on it someday.

This savoury patishapta has the best of both worlds .... winter's fresh green peas for the filling. And Patishapta ... that celebrates winter by itself.

And the crepes covering them are made with a paste of rice flour + urid / biulir dal, that has been thinned down with water.
A well seasoned tawa, a bowlful of this splendid batter and a good filling is all you need to dole out these crisp babies.
Traditional Patishapta is not made crisp. Rather, it should be soft yet well cooked.
But the savoury version tastes best when served crisp and hot.

Need :

A thin, well soaked batter made of rice and urid dal ( the recipe is here )
The filling made from fresh green peas ( the recipe is here )
Ghee or oil to grease the tawa with

How to :

Heat the tawa or a flat griddle on low heat.
Brush it lightly with oil or ghee ... I use a silicone brush. You can use halved potato too.
Just dip it into the oil and smear it all over the tawa.

Pour a big ladleful of the batter and spread it well ... check out this post on the Soru chakli to get an idea.

Let it cook till the sides start to leave.
Take a little filling and spread in the middle of the chakli.
Fold from both sides ... like so.
Serve immediately.
Thamma would drizzle some Nolen gur on it with a generous hand.
I am not so lucky to get it here.
So paired them with some Appes / Paniyarams and tea.
The recipe for the Appes / Paniyarams will come up later.
This will be all for today.

Soon the winter sun will shift from my windows and move upwards.
The days will turn longer and evenings will be late.
We are still feeling the chill of a late winter ... but the spring breeze will blow soon.
Light, warm, pleasant.
And better days will be here again.

Till then, stay around folks!
And stay well.