Monday, 29 June 2015

Badi Santula / Vegetables cooked with dried lentil dumplings

badi santula odiya
I just can't have enough of the rains.
Last week it had rained non stop for three to four days. With dark clouds, heavy wind and fog.
Pune's rains are like quiet children.
They will be around yet you won't feel their presence. Calm, quiet, a little shy and not at all noisy or rude.
So unless you are in the vicinity of a window or the outdoors, most of the time you won't even know it is raining. And in the earnest, too.
So every time I knew it was raining, I would drop everything and rush to the windows.
We have huge bay windows and even the slightest opening is enough to drive the heavy  wind inside, resulting in papers, pens, glasses and other things flying off the dining table and whirling around in the rest of the house.
And god help me if there is a newspaper around.
Still, nothing could stop me from opening the window ... even a wee little bit ... and smell the wet air deep. The smell of rain and fresh, wet leaves and the earth and grass ... everything reaches deep into me and my soul.
Such freshness!
Such peace!

Now we are back to cheerful, sunny days, though there are clouds hovering in the horizon.
Very soon, they will come over. And stay for a while.
And I can spend more time near my windows. Yes, I have even moved a sofa to be real near.
To be able to feel the spray on my face .
And let the cold wind take my breath away.
My poncho is almost done. Hopefully I will be able to snuggle into it too.
And my favourite writer's latest book is at hand. I am saving it for the rains.
Yes, I can be patient.

odiya vegetables santula

I don't know about the rest of the country, but rains in Pune means cold weather.
And with the temperature almost nearing 17 degrees, to me it is very, very cold weather.
Which reads, along with the Bengali favourite Khichudi, blankets, shawls and sometimes the heater too.
And Pithe.
Or Pithas. The Odiya pithas. Mostly the savoury ones.
And some garam garam, light, soupy Santula to go with them. 

Growing up in Orissa / Odisha meant being familiar to Odiya food as much as I am familiar to Bengali food. And the Oriya lady who stayed with us and did the cooking most of the time played a big role in this.
Most Oriya pithas , especially the savoury ones, are accompanied with a light vegetable curry like the Dalma or this santula.
While the dalma is made with dal/lentils and vegetables, the Santula has just vegetables in it. And sometimes the badis or sun dried lentil dumplings are added to it too.

The most common pithas that have the Santula as an accompaniment is the Chakuli pitha, the Santula pitha, the savoury Podo pitha and a few others too.
However, this light, comforting curry is eaten with rotis or rice too. 

All you will need is a few vegetables.
No masalas. Yet delightfully flavourful.


Need :

Vegetables - cut into cubes , around 1 small bowlful
( I had raw, papaya, raw bananas, parwal / pointed gourd, brinjals, potatoes. You can use pumpkins, sweet potatoes ... any vegetables of your choice )

halka sobjir jhol
Badis / Vadis / Boris - a small handful
Garlic - a few cloves. smashed
Jeera / Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Turmeric / Haldi powder - just a pinch 
Onion - 1 medium, chopped
Whole red chillies - 2, broken
Cooking oil - 2 tbsp ( I use mustard oil )
Salt - to taste
Water - 4 cups or more if needed

How to :

Fry the badis and keep aside.

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a heavy kadahi / wok till it is smoking hot.
Lower heat and add jeera, the red chillies, onions and the garlic.
Fry for a while.

Now raise heat and add the vegetables.
Stir fry for a while on high heat.

Add salt and the haldi powder. Fry well.
oriya santula

Add enough water to submerge the vegetables, cover and cook till they are well done.

Remove cover, check for water.
Add some more and add the badis (they will soak up water).

Cover and cook for 5 more minutes ( more if using bigger sized badis).

Remove cover and check.
The vegetables will by now have mixed together well and the badis must have soaked up the gravy well.

Remove from heat , add a dollop of ghee (if you want to ) and cover and let it stand for 5 minutes.

vadi santula

Serve fresh and steaming hot.

I was tempted to sprinkle some roasted jeera powder on top, but resisted myself.
And I'm glad I did.
Because the flavours of the vegetables and the slight hint of garlic and the badis had mixed together and was divinely wonderful!

bori santula
We had it with rotis for lunch.

Try this one of these days.
After a day long's work, enjoy this comforting, light jhol with some soft, hot rotis for dinner.
With the rain keeping you company from the outside.

And don't forget to let me know how you like it.


Thursday, 18 June 2015

Saantlano Pithe / Tempered savoury pancakes

saantlano pithe
With the weather turning from beautiful to absolutely, unbelieveably, awesomely beautiful, the outdoors has been a'calling me for a while now.
What with a cold, windy breeze and numerous clouds playing hide and seek, the temperature looking downwards all the while and a very light sunshine all around, the weekends have been diving me cray.
All I want is to go on long drives, for picnics, for photographs, and so on.
Basically to stay out.
Soon, when the rains come, we will have to stay indoors. But this weather now ... it is perfect to be outside.

But things are not always meant to be.
B is submerged up to the neck with work. And I with numerous chores that need to be completed before the rains start. Chores that have been piling up from the last few or more months.
But I will not be bogged down, I thought.
And decided come what may, we will go out and have a break at least on one day of the weekend.

Which was just a day away , by then.

B asked not to pick up any place that would be too far away ... he needed to be back home for work.
And said could give only a few hours, not more.
I sighed.
My dreams of a longish drive and lunch seemed distant. Earlier we had wanted to drive till Panvel, have lunch there and return with a small stop at Lonavla. But gave that up as Lonavla still needs some good rain and greenery.
Then B suggested we take a drive down the Bombay-Pune old highway.
Thanks to the expressway, the traffic there has lessened considerably. With a lot of trees still standing and a lot of open space all around, it has been our favourite road for aimless drives always.

We haven't 't been on that road for a long while now ... almost close to four years or more. It would be fun to rediscover old memories.
So off we went on a late Sunday morning.
Drove down the beautiful , very green with huge trees , road all the way up to Talegaon. It had started to rain by then and we rolled down the windows to let that fresh, wet breeze, in.
The small hills on the side had turned dark and light,white clouds hung on their tips.
It was beautiful.

After a while, we came to Toni da Dhaba, a place famous for its Punjabi food, for many years now.
We stopped for a late lunch, that became later, with us having to wait for around an hour .... it was that crowded.
But the food was worth the wait ... as always.
I did not eat much due to my rct; but B enjoyed his laccha paratha, dal, paneer amritsari and some garam garam jalebis.
On the way back, we took a detour and explored another new road.
Later stopped at a roadside stall for some ginger tea. And then it was time to return.
Dusk was setting in . I leaned back into my seat, closed my eyes and set some Sufi music on the loose.
And happily looked forward to another hectic week.

santlano pitha
Before leaving, I had made these Saantlano chakli pithe for breakfast.

Back home, any holiday and sometimes a weekend , meant this  pithe or pitha, for breakfast. Thanks to our Odiya cook , we had a good dose of pithas in our childhood.
The varieties were numerous and unlike the Bengali pithes that are mostly sweet, Odiya pithas have a number of savoury ones.  Almost all of them can be eaten both as snacks as well as a meal.
And almost always paired with a light vegetable curry, these pithas make for a filling, healthy meal. And if had for breakfast, they can keep you going for a long time before you are hungry again.

And this Saantlano pithe or the Santula pitha was our favourite.
A cross between the dosa and the uttapam, this pitha can be eaten with any chutney or the kasundi on the side for a snack.
Ma would use the same batter that she made for idlis or dosas; so do I.
The batter needs to be slightly thicker than a regular dosa batter, but still in a pourable consistency.
Unlike in an uttapam, where the chopped onions are spread on the top of the dosa while it is still on the tawa, this pithe has the temerings and the onions fried a little first and then added to the batter.
And then spread on the tawa as a thickish dosa.

If you have the batter ready, these are real quick to make and are very good with the ginger tea on the side. A life saver when you have sudden guests.

Need :

Fermented Idli batter - thinned a little with water.
( You can see the proportions and method in this post)

Onions - chopped
Green chillies - chopped
Tomatoes - chopped (optional)
Mustard seeds
Curry leaves - chopped
Coriander leaves - chopped ( optional)
Ginger - chopped
Salt - to taste
Cooking oil - as needed

How to :

santula pitha
Heat a little oil in a kadahi.
Or you can use the tawa in which the pithes are to be made.

Add the mustard seeds.
When they start to splutter, add the onions, green chillies, curry leaves and ginger.
Stir fry on low heat for a while.
When the onions start to turn pink, remove from heat.

Add the above mixture to the batter.

Now heat the tawa.
Brush it with a little oil.
Now take a spoonful or two of the batter and spread it carefully on the tawa.
Do not try to spread it very thin.

Cover for a while.
Then remove cover and let it stay for a minute.

Carefully, flip it over and fry the other side too.

Both sides should be done crisp.

Remove and serve hot.

The above photo shows the crisp edges.

saantlano pithe
This pitha is best enjoyed hot off the tawa.
Hence I usually set two tawas, so that nobody has to wait for a second helping.

Goes great with a light vegetable curry.
Or any achar or chutney.

But best of all, unlike the Soru chakli pithe, this can be enjoyed as is too.
I love it with ketchup and kasundi too.


Friday, 12 June 2015

Sabut or Chilkewali Masoor ki dal / Tempered brown lentils

 Saboot masoor dal
This post has been on the making for the last three days. But could not be posted for lack of anything to write.
I could not write. Not only because of a block but also because I could not type.
Because I was petrified.
My mind was numb. I did not know what I was doing. Or thinking. Or saying.
Not for the last one week, at least.
I was too busy staying scared stiff.
Ever since the day my dentist had prescribed a RCT.
Every morning I woke up with a sense of doom. And my heart beat went from faster to fastest.
I would hurry through the day ... trying to keep myself so busy that I couldn't think of anything else.
But no.
The human mind will, always will, wander to places that it should stay away from. 
The best way to keep thinking of something is to tell yourself not to think of it; ever.

Coming to my plight, this sense of doom and uncertainity continued till today.
The final two days to deadline saw me cook  food for at least four days. And some semi solid stuff , for me, like some payesh, khichuri and some boiled aloo ready.
Lots of milk and curd in the fridge too.
I had no idea how much pain I was to bear. I had no idea if I could stand in the kitchen and work.
And so on.
All this even after seeing B having a rct just a few months back.

Anyway, I am just back from the procedure, which went smoothly.
According to my dentist, I have been good and did not interrupt the whole process even once.
But then, what does he know.
I had kept my eyes tightly shut all through the twenty minutes of ordeal, after that first glimpse of the syringe looming right in front of my eyes. 
And desperately tried to shut out the noise of the drill inside my head with the Gayatri mantra.

Which apparently worked because I am back home now, whole. 
Except for a huge hole in one of my teeth, that has been temporarily packed with medicines.
Another sitting and I will be one complete piece.

For now, my left cheek is numb and the muscles refuse to work.
And I am pain free.
For the next three hours or so.
Hence writing down a post quickly; before the pain starts and I slip into my self wallowing mode again.

Chilkewali masoor ki dal
Now, coming to food, I suddenly realised one day that I have hardly made any posts on the dals that I cook everyday. Yes, everyday.
 I have never been a fan of dals. But after marraige, realised that the menu for a meal in my husband's home will always be dal,roti,sabzi.
And that started my initiation to dals.
After that, I have been cooking dals everyday ... sometimes twice a day.
But have never clicked a snap or made a post out of them.
Except for the occassional Cholar dal or the Dal Panchmela. 

So decided that hence forth all the recipes for our daily dal will see the light of the day on Kitchen-e- Kichu Khonn.

And last Sunday, in one of our conversations with Mummy, when she mentioned that she had made saboot masoor ki dal for lunch, I asked her how.
And she gave me this recipe.
Earlier I used to make this with just a tempering of hing and jeera and some green chillies. But this time, she added that one small thing that turned this plain dal to something absolutely divine.
The black cardamom!

If you a regular reader or have tried my Rajma, which again is Mummy's recipe, you will know about the magic this little spice makes.
The ingredients are so little that you will laugh.
But that is what I love about daily food.
Simple ingredients, simple way of cooking, awesome in taste and flavours.

So here goes the recipe for this simple chilke wali Masoor ki dal ( unskinned red lentils), that I made last Sunday.

You will need :
Unskinned red lentils

Saboot Masoor dal / unskinned red lentils / brown lentils - 1 cup, washed well
(I do not soak the dal.)

Water - 2 and ½ cups ( use the same cup as above )
Onion - 1 medium sized, chopped
Fresh green chilli - 1, broken
Jeera / Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Black cardamom - 2, broken
Cooking oil - 1 tsp
Ghee - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste

How to :

 Heat the oil + ghee in a pressure cooker.

Add the jeera + green chillies + black cardamom.

When you get the aroma of the cardamom frying, add the onions.

Fry till they turn translucent but do not brown.

Now add the dal and stir well.

Add the water and salt.

Put on the cover and cook on low heat till your hear 2 full whistles.

Remove from heat and let the cooker cool down.

Open the lid and check the consistency of the dal.
Like all well cooked lentils, this dal too will have a tendency to thicken quickly.
So check accordingly.
Chilkewali masoor dal recipe

Here is a closeup of the actual consistency. 
If it is too thick, add some cold water and put it on heat to simmer for five minutes.

Serve hot.

Sabut masoor dal recipe

Here is a look of our lunch plate .
I had made a sabzi of Aloo and Baingan ... which is coming up next.
And a salad of sprouts, tomatoes, onions, green chillies dressed with lime juice, salt and black pepper.
Stay tuned.

And enjoy!!

Monday, 8 June 2015

Enchor er tarkari / Kathal ki sabzi

Enchorer tarkari
A few days back, I had asked my followers on facebook as to what kind of recipes would they like in the next few posts on the blog.
Most of them replied that some light, vegetarian food for summer would be good.
Now, I believe most of my recipes are way too light already. And hence perfect for summer.
All my recipes for fish as well as chicken ( which I do not post very regularly but do make for dinner on most week days ) are really simple with minimum of ingredients or masalas.
As are the vegetarian ones ... which I believe are even more lighter.

Still, that set me thinking.
Of late, I have been posting less vegetarian dishes.
I don't know. As simple as that.
So when I saw these pictures of the Jackfruit / Kathal ki sabzi in my folders, waiting for god knows how long to see the light of the day, I decided to make a post on it pronto.
And promptly got stuck when it came to writing the recipe.

Kathal tarkari

I hunted amongst all my folders but could not find the recipe.
I was sure I had written it somewhere. But still could not find it.
Checked my scribble pad in the kitchen. Nope. No recipe.
The reason I was hunting for the recipe is that I hardly follow any measurements or one single recipe when I am cooking something.
Every time I use different things, with different measurements.
I cannot call them measurements too ... I just eyeball everything and throw in a pinch of this and a spoonful of that.
Yes, that is the way I cook. Most of the time.
Which makes it absolutely necessary to write down a recipe the same time I am making it.
Else, within a day I forget it.
And when I eventually sit down to make a post, I am completely lost.
Just like today.

I actually have some ingredients written down for a masala and marked it as "for god knows what!".
Get the picture?

I could not remember if I had used onions or garlic.
Or tomatoes.
Or what masalas.
Feeling lost, I gave up. And went to make myself a cup of tea.
Evening was setting in and the sky had turned into a riot of colours. After a whole day of dark clouds hovering and a slightly muggy weather, the sun had burst through with a wonderfully, surreal golden light that slowly turned a purplish pink before letting the dark grey take over.
And there was a beautifully cool breeze too.

I sat with my cup in my hands and wondered about the recipe. Where was it?
And then it struck me!
It was right there, in front of me, all the while.
And I could not recognise it!

Kathaler torkari
The thing is, I often write down a lot of reminders and other things on the white tiles on my kitchen wall.
And the recipe was right there! In front of me!
But in jumbled words, small pieces and broken sentences.
Slanted lines going all the way up on my right. Breaking at the joints of the tiles.
Up and down and towards the corner.
But nowhere was it written what the recipe was for.

Finally, it was one hurried line that saved me. "Remember to apply plenty of oil in yours hands before cutting it".
Only,  there was no mention of what 'it' was!

Jackfruit curry
So here goes the recipe.
Light, summery. Perfect for lunch or dinner.

Need :

Kathal / Enchor /  Raw Jackfruit - 2 cups full, cut into medium sized cubes and soaked in salt water
(Remember to apply plenty of vegetable oil in your hands before cutting the Jackfruit )

Potato - 1 medium sized, cut into cubes
Onion - 1 medium sized, sliced
Tomatoes - 2 big sized, grated or pureed 

Bay leaf  - 1
Whole red chillies - 2, broken into two
Green cardamom - 1, split
Jeera / Cumin powder - 1 tbsp
Dhania / Coriander powder - 2 tbsp
Haldi / Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Mirchi / Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Garam masala powder - 1 tsp

Cooking oil - 2 tbsp
Ghee - 1 tbsp
Salt - to taste
Sugar - 1 tsp or to taste

How to :

Cook the cut kathal pieces with some salt and water in a pressure cooker .... 2 whistles on low heat will do the job.

Remove from heat and open cooker once it has completely cooled down.
Drain the kathal pieces and keep aside.

Heat oil in a kadahi / wok.

Add the bay leaf, green cardamom and the whole red chillies.
Add the onion slices quickly and fry till they turn pink.

Add the potatoes and fry covered till they are half cooked.  

Add the tomato and keep frying on high heat. 

Now add the masala powders and salt, stirring all the while.
Add some water if needed.
It should not turn dry ... the dry masalas will burn otherwise.

Now add the kathal pieces and fry for a while.

Add enough water to cover the pieces.
Add salt and sugar.
Cover and let it cook till the potatoes are well done and the kathal / enchor has soaked up all the masalas well.

Do check for water in between Add some if necessary.

After the gravy has reached desired consistency, sprinkle the ghee and the garam masala powder and cover.

Let it simmer for around five minutes.

Remove from heat.

Kathal ki sabzi

Serve hot.
Goes great with rotis, parathas or dal and rice.


Do check out my Instant Kathal Biryani made with left over kathal curry.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Chingri Begun / Shrimps with Brinjals
I have a sudden feeling of not doing enough these days. The whole day rushes by and when evening sets in, I am left wondering as to what did I actually do?
Which one work was really, really good enough?
Well, I do not know the reason behind this self doubt. Maybe a case of fingers in too many pies, I guess.
Yes, from morning to afternoon, all I do is chores.
And cook.
And have taken up to painting all the covers of the glass bottles in the kitchen to a bright, fluroscent green ( my current obsession ) and yellow and some cherry red.

And have two sets of knitting going on simultaneously .... one bright orange long muffler and another wine coloured poncho.
Those of you who know me know my love for knitting too. When my orthopedic had sadly nodded his head in a no to my simple question of "Can I at least knit?" three years back, I was devastated.
No cooking .... I couldn't take either.
No reading .... that had broken me to pieces too.

But no knitting?! How will I live?!
So , on the day I finally stepped into the kitchen again, I had brought out a pair of knitting needles too.
And a small ball of wool.
And kept them right in front of me on the mantle piece .... so that my eyes would not miss them.
They were the reason I did not give up.
They were the reason that pushed me to exercise; to continue my physiotherapy.
And mend.

And as soon as I could, I started to knit one line every day.
Just one line.
And that started to infuse that positive energy in me.
And I knew I will knit again.

Yes, today I am knitting again!
I am slow, but I am going steady. And watch with joy as my fingers move along with the needles and my beloved yarn of wool passes through my fingers to turn into something new.
There are still hitches ... my shoulders still give up at times. But I go on.
When I lay it down to take some rest, I look at it and say in mind that I will come back and pick you up soon.

Nothing gives me more happiness than knitting. And I hope I never have to give it up again.
Maybe not being able to knit fast enough is eating me ... and hence that sense of slight despair.

Ok, I know I am digressing.

I have also been spending way too much of time in the kitchen too.
Have started cooking on a regular basis and loving it.
The last time I was at my fishwala's, I had brought big lot of different fishes. This I usually do.
And they last me through a fortnight or more easily.
And through unexpected guests.
And morbid days.

So along with a bunch of Parshe, big sized rohu pieces ( the ones with a thick skin and a good layer of fat ... I love them ), Tyangra and some medium sized prawns, I got these little shrimps too.
I was a little hesistant but the guy said they do not need cleaning.
That was enough to tempt me.
I already had visions of chomping them just crisply fried and gave in.
Bought around 150 gms of them.

Greed, as they say, is the reason behind every downfall.
I had the good sense to post a photograph of these tiny things on FB and asked what can I do with them.
And friends came up with wonderful ideas and recipes.
But first ... "you need to clean them".

So, the same night, after dinner, I sat down to deal with these tiny fellows who did not look  as innocent or tempting to me anymore, by then.
I froze them a little  while I had dinner. That helped hugely while dealing with them.
I cut off the whiskers up to the eyes. And shelled the slightly big sized ones. The smaller ones I left as they were.

Among the recipes, I zeroed in on Soma's simple one with very little ingredients.
The main reason being there were no vegetables at home other than a big sized brinjal and some potatoes.
Also, there was no other prep work needed.
Just chop, fry, add water and it is done. Just the kind of cooking I love.

Soma too cooked the same thing simultaneously in her kitchen in the far away US of A.
And sent me a photo on chat, just minutes after discussing the recipe.
That is the joy of having friends who love food and are equally happy to cook and share recipes.
Makes your food all the more loved.
And makes a meal worthwhile.
You can find her post here.

I followed her simple recipe and the result was this beautiful tel jhol.

I do not have good photographs that do enough justice to it.
To know, you need to make it just once.

Need :

Very small sized shrimps - 150 gms, cleaned and washed well.
Brinjal - 1 medium sized, chopped into cubes
Kalo jeere / Nigella seeds - 1 tsp
Fresh green chillies - 3
Turmeric powder - 2 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Mustard oil - 4 tbsp
Salt - to taste

How to :
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a heavy kadahi / wok.
Apply 1 tsp of turmeric, red chilli powder and salt to the cleaned shrimps.
Fry them till they lose all moisture and turn all crunchy and crispy.
Keep aside.
Ok ... you can chomp on a few. I did. :-)

Add the rest of the oil to the kadahi.
Add the kalo jeere + green chillies.

Now add the chopped brinjal pieces and fry covered till done.
In a small bowl, mix turmeric powder + red chilli powder + salt with some water.
Add that to the fried brinjal pieces.
Cover and boil for a while.
Then add the shrimps.
Cover and cook for around 5 to 10 minutes or till the gravy dries up.
Soma suggests to keep the gravy dryish, almost the consistency of a sauce.
Remove cover, sprinkle 1 more tbsp of fresh mustard oil.
Add some chopped coriander leaves and you are done!

Goes best with plain, steamed rice.
The flavour of the fresh mustard oil brings out the best in this tel jhol, so do not skimp on it.