Tuesday, 15 April 2014


Ironic as it sounds, since I stay in the sun kissed land of coastal India, my doctor found me acutely deficient in Vitamin D! Yes, you read it right. I have not been in the pink of health. The body aches, the joint pains, the physical weakness and accompanying exhaustion kept me out of action in general and also from blogging. My meds are on and I should be back to my regular self in a few months’ time. The vitamin D deficiency leads to low calcium absorption. So it is like a double edged sword. And apparently, it happens to be a common ailment these days since we mostly stay indoors and end up depriving our bodies of sunlight; this is especially true for Indian house wives as per my doctor, that is. I usually do not offer advice until sought but trust me, after going through those pains and aches, I vehemently advice my readers to get routine check-ups done. Better safe than sorry!  

And now, to the post. Goes without saying, the hot weather clubbed with my condition, I was in a mood for a light and mild fish curry. And the Doi Maachh was what instantly popped in my mind. This fish curry is very simple and easy to cook and it has delightful subtle flavors of the whole garam masala that hold perfectly against the mild tang and sweetness of the yogurt. Feel free to dunk bread of your choice in its delicious curry or enjoy it like the Bengalis do, with a bowl of rice.   

I had a recipe which I had gathered long time back but just to be sure on the authenticity of flavors, I decided to ask a couple of my Bengal friends about how they prefer to cook their Doi Maachh. And the result, my friends, was very fascinating. It was interesting to note that the cooking methods varied from family to family. One of them suggested frying the fish before adding to the curry and another told me to marinate it in the yogurt before cooking. Where on one hand I encountered the suggestion of using tomatoes, the other one believed using tomatoes in Doi Maachh was unthinkable. Yet, another input was to use nigella seeds or panch phoran. Now that I had managed to confuse myself totally in search for authenticity, I decided to go by my instinct and choice of flavors. And I suggest, you do the same. You wish to add tomatoes, go ahead, you wish to marinate the fish, do it by all means but I didn't do either. 

Another input, for authentic Doi Maachh you need to use a particular variety of fish i.e. Katla but some find it to be somewhat oily fish and swap it with Rohu. In my view, any firm white fish would do the job. 

You will need the following,

500 grams Fish, cubed in 1.5 - 2 inch size (I used Katla)
2 tbsp Mustard Oil
1 small Onion, turned to paste
1 tsp Ginger Garlic paste
1 Bay Leaf
1 inch Cinnamon
5 Cardamoms
4-5 Cloves

1 tsp Paprika/ Degi Mirch (+/- to taste)
½ tsp Turmeric Powder
1 tsp Coriander Powder
½ tsp Garam Masala 
Salt to taste

½ tsp Sugar
1 cup whisked Yogurt, at room temperature

Two whole Green Chillies
1 tbsp Cilantro for garnishing, chopped

Wash the fish and sprinkle the fish with a little salt. Keep aside for half a minute and wash it well. Drain the water well and smear the fish with ¼ tsp turmeric powder. Keep aside for two minutes. 

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a non stick pan or wok and let it smoke. Reduce the flame and carefully add the fish pieces. Fry the fish pieces in batches. Fry each side for half a minute since the rest of it will cook with the curry. Drain the pieces on a kitchen towel or absorbent sheet. 

In the same pan or wok, heat the rest 1 tbsp oil. Bring the oil to smoking point and reduce the heat. Carefully add the bay leaf, cardamoms, cloves and cinnamon. Once the whole spices become aromatic (it will take seconds for this to happen since the oil is really hot) carefully add the onion paste. Fry it on medium low heat for a minute. Add the ginger garlic paste with a dash of water so that it does not stick or burn in the pan. Reduce the heat to low and cook till the ginger garlic paste becomes aromatic and the whole masala is golden brown in color. 

In a tablespoon or two of yogurt, add the dry spices. Mix them and add to pan along with 2 tbsp of water. Keep cooking on low heat for half a minute and then add the remaining whisked yogurt along with green chilies and sugar. Add ½ cup of water and keep stirring. Cook it for a minute and then add the fried fish pieces. Cover the pan with a lid and let it cook for 3-4 minutes. Flip over the fish pieces and cook for another 2 minutes. (The curry should be well assimilated and if not, cook further on for a few minutes.)

Serve hot with steamed or fried rice or bread of your choice. (do not forget to check notes at the end of the post)

Serves 4-5

Note: Add more water if you want the curry to be thinner or reduce if u like it thicker

Note: You must ensure that the yogurt is not sour else the curry will be very tangy. 

Note: To enjoy the authentic flavors of Doi Maachh, I recommend using Mustard Oil.  

Thanks for visiting and see you soon again! 

Friday, 28 March 2014


To save on time and to simplify the process of preparing a post, I usually try to make a monthly recipe planner. It helps me plan my whole schedule i.e. from grocery shopping to cooking/ baking & composing the food clicks. However, it happens several times that all my plans go flying out of the window when I spot certain seasonal gems that result in posts such as the Spring Garlic Pilaf and now this one. A jam post was nowhere near my plan of things. However, seeing these plump juicy beautifully orange-ish cape gooseberries, I lost my heart to them. They happen to be in season for a very short time and I realized that to enjoy them for long, these beauties needed to be preserved and what better than jam! And it was then, that I also realized that my only other post on jam was this Sweet & Spicy Tomato Jam two years back!

For this jam post, I thought of reducing the sugar and swapping some amount with a natural sweeter and honey is all that is available here. It seemed like a good idea since this would mean that in future I can swap the sugar completely with honey. However, the only problem is that the taste of honey is not something my family enjoys much. To overcome that problem and to camouflage its flavor I chose to add the sweet warm notes of cinnamon. Also, you may swap cinnamon with green cardamom. This recipe can be easily halved. 

I am so glad I made this jam...it felt like letting in the morning sun shine – golden bliss, warm, caressing and its bright colors will enliven your mood!  

1 kg grams (6 cups) Cape Gooseberries
1½ cup Sugar
½ cup Honey
½ quill Cinnamon, optional (add one quill for stronger cinnamon notes)
2 tbsp orange juice
2 tbsp lime juice

Wash and gently wipe the cape gooseberries with a kitchen towel. I roughly pureed 2 cups of the berries and sliced the rest. (Slice the larger ones horizontally in three,  but not too thin, and smaller ones in halves). 

Take a heavy bottom non-reactive pot and add all ingredients. Put on medium heat and stir the ingredients. Once the sugar melts and the mixture begins to boil (approx 3-4 minutes), reduce the heat to medium low and cook for approximately 25-30 minutes. 

Check for done-ness of jam. I did the first check for done-ness when the jam had been cooking for nearly 25 minutes and then proceeded to cook it for further 5 minutes till it reached the desired consistency.

Once the jam reaches the desired consistency, remove from heat and transfer hot in dry sterilized containers keeping a half an inch space at the neck of the bottle. Screw the lid tightly and turn the jar upside down to allow the heat to create a vacuum. 

Let the jam cool completely and store it at a cool dark place. Once opened, refrigerate the jam. It should keep well for a few weeks.

NoteFeel free to add either all sugar or all honey to the jam, whatever fancies you.

Note: Since I wasn't too sure what texture the jam would eventually have, to be on the safer side, I purĂ©ed 2 cups and sliced the rest. And I am really pleased with the end result J
Thanks for visiting and see you soon again! 

Friday, 21 March 2014


For more than a month I have been busy helping my kiddo study for the final exams alongside developing posts for the blog. Thankfully, the exams are over and I can breathe easy for now. However, the sluggish weather here has killed my mojo for cooking. Spring has paved way for summer and one is seeing summer fruits gradually tip toeing their way into the market. I lapped up the juicy melons & strawberries. Summers also kill my appetite for the heavy Indian curries. The weather and my intent to take a break from cooking resulted in this easy peasy salad with a simple dressing. There is no ‘recipe’ as such and I rather recommend that you play around it. Feel free to use berries or even stone fruits. The dressing is great with even green salad. Have fun!

2 cups Water Melon
1 cup Musk Melon
1 cup Cantaloupe

250 grams Strawberries
2 tsp - 1 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar (adjust +/-)
1 heaping tbsp Caster Sugar (adjust +/-) 
Salt & Black Pepper powder (optional)

Mint Leaves

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Wash the strawberries and wipe them in the folds of the kitchen towel. Dab gently to remove all moisture. Halve the strawberries and arrange in a single layer in an oven proof dish (or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper). Drizzle the balsamic vinegar over the strawberries and then dust over the caster sugar. 

Place the strawberries in the oven and roast for half an hour. Ensure all the while that the strawberries do not get burnt. The cooking time will depend on the size of strawberries. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Transfer the roasted strawberries to the blender or food processor and blitz. Remove and transfer to the serving bowl. The dressing is ready. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Cut the melons and cantaloupe in shape and size that you desire. I used melon baller to scoop out the flesh. Arrange them in bowls or plates and serve chilled with the dressing. 

Yield: Makes 3/4 cup 
Fruit Serving: 1 person

Thanks for visiting and see you soon again!

Sunday, 16 March 2014

DAHI BHALLE/ DAHI VADA (Lentil Fritters in Yogurt)

happy holi to all visitors

“Little knowledge is a dangerous thing” and I, for one, happen to know it better than many. To begin with, I am totally ignorant when it comes to things related to computersin fact I am not at all tech savvy. It took me a long time to get around my blog and I would struggle for even simple thingsI still do actually.

I was trying to delete extra pics from my android phone and I am still not able to figure out how I managed to erase all the pics from my blog!! I happily pushed the OK button when the prompt cautioned me, “This action will remove pictures forever. Do you wish to proceed?” Least did I know that I was deleting every single pic from my blog. By the time I realised what I had donethings were beyond redemption.

I knew I had no time to sit and regret. I swung into action and uploaded as many pics I could from my laptop and camera. Several pics were lost when my computer had crashed last year. But most that I had lost were the ones from the very initially posts from the blog’s first year of existence; the time when the quality of my food pics was pretty awful since I never paid any heed to composition or styling :P

This whole exercise left me exhaustedmentally and physically. My joints and muscles were screaming for a break and I had no choice but to heed to their demand. I lost on time to plan for my next post and then it hit across that it would be better to repost a post from my very first year of blogging. It is one of those posts where I had uploaded no clicks. It also happens to be a post that sounded perfect for Holi.
Dahi bhalle, as they are called in the north Indian, are a very popular street food and I haven’t met anyone so far who does not enjoy eating them. They can be eaten as such or along with papdi, which is flat savoury crisps made from plain flour. In fact, Dahi Bhalle are called Dahi Vada in the south of India and perhaps they are one of those savory dishes that is common to the south and north Indian cuisine. 

Personally I would add them to the category of comfort food. You can eat them chilled to beat the Indian heat or have them at the room temperature. 

My mother used to add baking soda to the batter to ensure soft vadas or bhalle (dumplings). But, instead of baking soda, I prefer using fruit salt. Another modification that I made is to add the fruit salt to the water in which I soak the pulses (urad and moong without their skin) along with some table salt. This ensures that the dal absorbs the water with salt and fruit salt in it and results in even softer vadas.

Here is the recipe:

For the Batter:
1 cup black split pulses without the skin (Ivory Lentils)
¼ cup green split pulses without the skin- (optional)
 ½ tsp roasted cumin seeds
½ tsp salt (to be added while soaking the pulses)
½ tsp salt (to be added to the batter)
1 pinch red chili powder (optional)
¼ tsp finely chopped ginger (optional)
1 tbsp toasted and roughly chopped cashew nuts (optional)
1 tsp fruit salt (Eno)
Oil for deep frying

½ kg yoghurt
1 tsp cumin seed powder
¼ tsp black pepper powder
¼ tsp red chilli powder (optional)
1 tsp dry mint leaves, crushed
1 tsp fresh chopped mint leaves (optional)
1 ½ tsp chat masala
½ tsp of toasted and powdered flax seeds (optional)
Salt to taste

To garnish: (these are optional)
Juliennes of ginger
Pomegranate seeds
Finely chopped fresh coriander leaves

For Making the Vada
Add 1 tsp of fruit salt and salt to the pulses and add enough water. Soak overnight.

In the morning, grind the pulses, gradually adding little water to make a sort of thick paste. Add half a tea spoon of fruit salt, roasted cumin seeds, finely chopped ginger, and cashew nut and keep it aside for half an hour.

Fill a broad container with water to nearly 4-5 inches high since the dumplings will be soaked in this water.

Heat oil in a wok and add refined oil to it. When the oil is hot but not smoking, lower the flame and after 45 seconds, start adding spoonful of the ground batter. Increase the temperature to medium low.

Fry the dumplings till they are golden in colour and done. Immediately turn them out into the container with water. Soak till they are soft, which generally takes 1-2 minutes. Then take them out of water (give a gentle squeeze to the dumplings since we don’t want to remove all the water. This will ensure that the dumplings are soft when they are added to the yoghurt)

Finish the whole batter in batches.

For preparing the Curd

Take the yoghurt and beat it with a beater or fork. The curd should not be very thick in its consistency because after an hour or so, the dumplings will absorb the moisture from the curd and leave it thick. 

Add all the dry ingredients and then add the vada or the dumplings to it. 

Keep it at room temperature for about 20 minutes and then put them in the refrigerator if you desire. 

Serve with Sweet Tamarind Chutney and Green Chutney. Garnish with ginger juliennes, pomegranate seeds and fresh coriander.

Note: In the pics I have just drizzled yogurt over the bhalle/vada so that these are visible to the viewer. They are meant to be soaked in the yogurt before being served. 

Yield: Approx. 30 (of the size shown in the pics)

Thanks for visiting and stop over again 

Sunday, 9 March 2014


This post was long overdue, especially, considering that I have done two detailed posts last year on the commonly used spices  in an Indian kitchen (check here for Part I and Part II). It somehow always took the back seat amongst the other posts. It was high time that I uploaded this post since garam masala happens to be the most quintessential amongst all spice mixes that have carved a place for themselves on the Indian kitchen shelves.

The blend is common to the Indian subcontinent, with slight variations of course. But first, let us understand what the name Garam Masala denotes. Garam in the Hindi language means hot and masala means spice/ spice blend. The blend of the spices, each with its own unique characteristic and therapeutic value, lends its flavour to the garam masala spice mix. Most of these spices have a warm effect on the body. Rather each has its own health benefit for the body when added in a small amount, as in the garam masala.

It is always easier and convenient to grab the garama masala pack from the store, however, to enjoy the robust and truly aromatic flavors of the garam masala, I suggest you grind your own at home and transcend to spice heaven! You will note a huge difference in the taste of your curries J You absolutely need to ensure that you use the freshest available spices. Check my previous two posts (here & here) to understand the characteristics and benefits of these spices and how to check for their freshness.

Every family has its own spice blend; the key ingredients are more or less the same with some variations in quantities. Since the home made one is stronger in its aromas, a little goes a long way as compared to the store brought ones. Also, it depends on the kind of dish the garam masala is being used for. A hearty meat dish or curry may require a generous pinch of garam masala while vegetables or fish need just a subtle hint to ensure that the flavors of both, the dish and the garam masala shine through in a harmony. Rest, it depends on individual preference how much amount of garam masala one prefers in a curry, dal (lentils) or other dishes.

My memories of the garam masala made by Mum are that of keeping the whole spices covered with a muslin cloth out in the sun for 'drying' and then grinding them with a mortar and pestle; the traditional way. You, however, can use the spice or coffee grinder to do the job. 

Here is the quantity of spices I use to make garam masala...

½ C Coriander seeds
¼ C Cumin seeds
2 Cinnamon quills
3 - 4 Bay leaves (depending on the size of leaves)
1 tsp Black Pepper corns
1 tbsp Green Cardamom
5 - 6 Black Cardamoms (seeds only)
1 tbsp Cloves
½ tsp Nutmeg
3 - 4 Mace 
(I also use two long peppers or pipali but they were not available while making this batch)

Very lightly toast whole spices (except nutmeg and black cardamom seeds) in a heavy bottom pan or wok on a low medium heat. Transfer the spices on a plate and let them cool. 

Transfer them to a grinder and grind to a powder. If you want a fine powder, feel free to sieve them. I prefer a slightly coarse powder (as shown in the pic). 

On grinding the spice mix may become somewhat hot, let them cool and then store in a dry container. Keep the container at a cool dry place. 

Note: If you want to dry the spice in the sun, keep them in sun for 2-3 days and then grind them.

Note: I usually do not add coriander seeds and cumin seeds to the garam masala since I put them separately in the curries. 

Note: Ground spices tend to lose their flavor and aroma if kept for long. I usually make small batch, as this one, to ensure that I always get to use spices that are packed with flavours. the shelf life is maximum 2-3 months depending on weather and storage. 

Note: I would advise to use 2-3 tsp of garam masala in robust curries and 1 to ½ tsp in mild curries or lentils or soups. (update: the amount of garam masala will depend on the amount of curry or lentil)

Note: A word of caution - too much garam masala in your food can be pretty over powering so use less amount initially so that you can adjust the amount later accordingly to suit your taste. 

Thanks for visiting and see you soon again! 

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Celebrating EFS Blog's 3rd Bloganniversary w/ BLITZ & BAKE BEETROOT CHOCOLATE CAKE (Eggless)

Join me in celebrating the EFS blog’s 3rd year of blogging sans celebrating the 2nd since I was away for that one year; 10 months to be precise. In fact, I am rather a little apprehensive about whether I should consider celebrating this year as the second year of blogging or whether it should be celebrated simply as the 3rd year of my blog’s existence. While I am still confused about this I wonder what would you have done?

Anyways, we shall leave that matter to rest for a while. Here I am, happy with the two years of my active time on this blog. I have enjoyed every bit of it; not just blogging but also making friends, visiting their amazing blogs, learning something new and exciting, getting inspired, sharing recipes and being able to do something productive with my time. And for the time that I was away, my mind and heart were always aching to be back to blogging asap which exactly didn’t turn out to be asap! And you can’t imagine how glad I was to be back to blogging after that long hiatus. I treasure and hold dear, each and every comment, word of encouragement and feedback that I have received from the friends, readers, visitors and the followers of EFS. It all means a lot to me especially, considering that I was away for nearly a year yet I was embraced with the same warmth on my return. You guys rock! J

On this special day of my blog I am taking the chance, at the risk of sounding politically incorrect, to say just one more thing that nagged me just a little bit initially. Just as every coin has two sides to it, so have been my experiences. For all those wonderful and amazing bloggers whom I chanced to meet (on the virtual space) and know, I also unfortunately happened to come across a handful of those whom I realized choose to 'move' only amongst their own 'coterie', who never care to even pay a courtesy visit despite my visits at their amazing blogs and leaving behind my thoughts about their blog and food. In all candidness, initially, it was a bit disappointing since I have always encountered the food blogging community as being warm, friendly, supportive, encouraging and very receptive of newbies. It left me wondering if they just didn't happen to care about others in the blogging community or are they out-rightly rude or just simply happen to suffer from some delusion...of grandeur, perhaps.

This isn't me ranting or complaining; its just me thinking aloud. It is certainly their choice whom they wish to interact with or not for that matter, but being polite and courteous costs nothing, I believe. And that reminds of the golden words by Maya Angelou "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  Just a handful of people, however, are pretty incapable of making me feel upset since I have so many reasons to be cheerful about! Wonderful friends, visitors, readers and bloggers from the community cheer me up and make my day with their encouraging and supportive words; let me tell you my friends, your mere presence on my blog is so heart-warming. I happen to be the one who count their blessings J

I chose to make this cake for my blog anniversary since it is easy and quick to make, gives the feel of being rich yet it happens to be so healthy. The cake is moist, dense, decadent and one major reason I truly adore it is, I can gorge on it guilt free.  So go ahead, bake it and indulge! 

For the cake you will need, 
100 ml (1/2 cup) vegetable oil
150 gm Beetroot, roasted
200 gm (1¾ cup) Self raising flour
200 gm (1 cup heaping) Demerara sugar 
1 tbsp Baking powder (Update 2nd March - I intend to reduce the baking powder to 2 tsp since I felt that 1 tbsp leaves a slightly bitter after taste in the mouth; that I earlier attributed to something being wrong with the beets)
50 gm (½ cup) Cocoa
200 gm (1 cup scant) Yogurt
2 tsp Vanilla extract

For icing, 
3 tbsp Milk
50 gram Dark chocolate (I used one with 45% cocoa)
1 tbsp Cocoa powder
75-100 gm Icing sugar (depending on how sweet you like the icing)

For filling:
175 gm Mascarpone cheese
2 tbsp Icing sugar
½ tsp Orange zest

Preheat the oven at 180 degrees C. Line the base of a 20 cm spring form pan with parchment paper and grease the sides. Keep aside. 
Puree the beetroot in a food processor. Add rest of the cake ingredients and blitz till the ingredients are well combined and you have a smooth batter. Scrape immediately in the prepared tin and bake for approximately 50 minutes to one hour or till skewer comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and let it cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan and flip it on the wire rack, flat side up. Once the cake is warm, slice the cake horizontally in two and let it cool completely.

For the icing, put all ingredients for icing in a sauce pan and heat. Whisk till it becomes smooth. Let it cool in the pan. 
For the filling, whisk the mascarpone cheese with icing sugar till there are no lumps. Add the orange zest and mix it into the cheese. Keep aside. 

To assemble the cake, place the bottom slice of the cake on the serving plate or cake stand. Tip the mascarpone filling over it. Spread evenly and gently place the other half of the cake over it. Pour the chocolate icing over the cake. Garnish the cake with nuts or chocolate shavings. Slice and serve. 

Serves 8-10

And here is a look at the top five posts that were the most visited at the EFS since my return in April 2013...

Besides these the other favourites happen to be(in no particular order)

Thanks for visiting and see you soon again!

Saturday, 22 February 2014

PAALAK PATTA CHAAT (Spinach Leaf Fritters drizzled w/ Spiced Yogurt, Green Chutney & Tamarind Sauce)

Crispy, tangy, sweet & spicy, addictive, complexity of flavours, versatile – all this is what makes this particular street food dish a very exciting one. The best part about Indian street food dishes is that they can be easily adjusted to cater to individual palates. The vendors organize everything mise en place (pronounced- meez en plas) and just before serving, throw in everything together to create a dish in seconds. The seasonings and sauces/dressings are adjusted as per the individual’s preference – spicy or mild, dry or moist, less or more of a chutney or dressing, salty or bland, onions or sans it, etc,etc.

Paalak Patta Chaat comprises of spinach leaves coated with a gluten free batter, fried and arranged on a plate; preferably in a heap. The crispy fritter leaves are then drizzled with smooth beaten spiced yogurt, sweet tamarind chutney, green chutney, sprinkled with condiments and finally decked up with coriander or mint leaves, pomegranate seeds and julienned ginger...phew! You can even add a few boiled chick peas or diced boiled potatoes and some sev. Aahsome! Isn’t it!!?  

I used the following measurements.

For Spinach Fritters:
½ cup Rice flour 
¼ cup Besan (Gram flour)
¼ tsp red chili powder
¼ tsp Carrom seeds
Salt to taste
½ cup scant, Water
20 leaves Spinach (preferably large sized)
Oil for frying

To serve: 
Tamarind Sauce
Green Chutney
Yogurt - 3 cups
1 tsp ground roasted Cumin
1 tsp Chaat masala
¼ tsp ground Black pepper
¼ tsp dry Mint powder
Salt to taste
Half a cup (+/-)pomegranate seeds
Mint leaves to garnish

Keep ready the tamarind sauce and the green chutney. Both can be prepared a day in advance. 

Beat the yogurt till smooth. Mix in the ground cumin, chaat masala, ground black pepper and mint powder. Stir and keep aside.

For the batter, mix together the rice flour, besan, red chili powder, carrom seeds and salt. Add water and make a smooth paste. Keep it aside. 

Meanwhile, remove the stalks from the spinach and keep the leaves. Wash them and pat dry them on a kitchen towel ensuring that the leaves do not get bruised. 

Heat oil in a wok. Reduce the flame. Take one leaf and dip it in the batter. Coat it all over and then gently remove any excess (I use the edges of the container in which I keep the batter for this job) leaving just a nice thin coating of the batter on the leaf. Gently tip the leaf in the oil and fry on medium heat till both sides are golden brown and crisp. Remove on a absorbent paper. Fry all the leaves, one at a time, in the similar manner.

To serve, arrange 4-5 leaves (depending on the size of the spinach leaves) on individual serving plates. Drizzle with yogurt, green chutney, tamarind chutney and garnish with mint leaves or cilantro leaves and pomegranate seeds. You can even give an additional sprinkle of a little chaat masala and cumin powder. Serve immediately.

Note: Make this chaat fun by keeping the fried leaves, spiced yogurt, chutneys and condiments at the serving table and letting your family/ guests make their own plate.   

Note: Adding rice flour ensures that the fritters remain crisp...a tip I got from my mother-in-law when she makes the bachka (bihari style vegetable fritters)

Serves 4 - 5 

Thanks for visiting and see you soon again! 

Saturday, 15 February 2014

CHANA DAL, MATAR AUR HARA LEHSUN KA PULAO (Spring Garlic, Split Bengal Gram & Pea Pilaf)  

It is hard to describe my excitement when I saw the tender spring garlic in the market and it goes without saying that it was harder to resist not buying it even though they hit my pocket hard. I had last had potatoes stir fried in the chopped spring garlic nearly a decade ago; they tasted awesome. The best thing about spring garlic is that it is not strong and pungent like the mature garlic. Spring garlic has this mellow quality about it that is not over powering; the flavors are subtle yet distinctively garlicky. 

Pilaf gives one the liberty to become whimsicalhow you ask? One just needs to add whatever one fancies to the rice and the end result is a delicious rewarding rice dish one pot meal; sweet or savory! Simple that a pilaf may be, yet it happens to be such a wonderful fragrant dish which is great on its own and with a side dish or an accompaniment of pickle or chutney; not to forget a drizzle of ghee over hot pilaf J I like to serve savory pilafs with Boondi Raita.

Serve with accompaniments of your choice. I usually pair them in groups, such as chutney with papad and yogurt or ghee with pickle and papad. Make your own combinations and enjoy! 

3/4th glass Basmati Rice
1½ glasses Water
250-300 grams Spring Garlic (Garlic Shoots)
½ heaped cup Green Peas (fresh or frozen)
1/3 heaped cup Split Bengal gram Dal (soaked over night or in hot water for at least two hours)
1 inch stick Cinnamon
5 Cloves
½ tsp Cumin Seeds
1 Bay Leaf
2-3 tbsp Oil
Salt and red chili powder to taste
½ tsp Garam masala

To serve:
Dahi or Boondi Raita

Wash and soak rice for half an hour. Keep aside.
Wash and clean the spring garlic and chop it along with the greens. Keep aside.
Heat oil in a heavy bottom pot and pop in the cinnamon, cloves, cumin leaves and bay leaf. Once the spices become aromatic, add sliced spring garlic and saute till it becomes aromatic (a minute or two).
Add the dal, peas and rice and stir in the salt, chili powder and garam masala. Mix well and add the water. Wait for the water to begin boiling. 
Cover the pot with a tight lid and reduce the flame to minimum. Do not open the lid while the rice is cooking. Let it cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the flame and open the lid after 10 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork and serve hot with your favorite accompaniment/s.  

Note: Do not be horrified with the amount of garlic that went into this pulao. As I mentioned earlier, the flavors of spring garlic are delicate and if you reduce the amount it won’t impart a lovely garlicky flavour to the pulao; it would end up tasting just like any other pulao.

Serves 4