Khatta Sandwich Dhokla

Idli and White Dhokla both use similar ingredients, and what I learnt from my visit in India is how to combine the two and make quick Khatta Sandwich Dhokla! India has the luxury of expertise available at comparatively low costs with quite creative talent. The chefs in India who come to cook, probably cover 10-12 kitchens prep and cooking through the day. So they definitely know how to finesse their task and make things work faster for them. One such trick was shared by one such creative chef who comes to our house. Knowing my passion for food and cooking, she suggested I should definitely try her Khatta Sandwich Dhokla from Idli batter. I was so impressed by the outcome, I had to try out this quick, one more easy way of making Dhoklas.

My first challenge was getting the fresh Idli batter in USA, especially when one is living in an area without high concentration of Indians. So decided to try the next best thing, which was the ready Idli Batter available at the grocery stores, viz Shreeji’s Idli Batter. Various other brands are also available, but I did not have much luck with them. Maybe the stock was old, or not well fermented.

After persisting a bit more, was able to arrive at the right consistency and softness in the texture for the Khatta Sandwich Dhokla, What worked was diluting the mixture a bit, and adding a pinch of bicarbonate soda. In a Gujarati household, fresh green chutney is a staple and hence always have a stock of it at home. And adding a layer of this chutney in between, gives it a kick as well as the color. You can even not garnish it, and have them plain, if you are watching calories, and you will find them tasty as well.

Dhokla as people now know it, is actually known as Khaman (Yellow Dhokla) in Gujarat, on which I have blogged earlier Khaman Dhokla from Instant Mix¬† .The real Dhoklas are the Khatta or White Dhoklas. So enjoy one more version of Dhokla and keep this recipe in mind, if you have left over Idli Batter to fix some snack during the day or for a quick bite in the evening, or just have it for dinner, as a friend of mine did! She tried with fresh Idli batter! Any guess her state of residence? NJ ūüôā

Hers came out soft and fluffy without any additions or alterations of the batter dough! Hope you enjoy this quick version of Khatta Sandwich Dhokla especially with the Diwali festivities on the way!

Print Recipe
Khatta Sandwich Dhokla
White Sandwich Dhokla using Idli Batter
Course Appetizers
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 3 min
Cook Time 20 min
Passive Time 5 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
For Garnish
Course Appetizers
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 3 min
Cook Time 20 min
Passive Time 5 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
For Garnish
Instructions
  1. Put the water to boil in Dhokla cooker and grease the Dhokla platter/thali with oil, a little more generously, covering the sides thoroughly too.
  2. Dilute the Idli Batter, by adding 1/2 cup of water and also add bicarbonate soda and mix thoroughly,
  3. Pour apport 1 cup of batter to the platter, cover and steam on high for 10 minutes.
  4. Open and check if the batter is cooked,
  5. Spread the green chutney more generously , bit more than what the picture shows, so as to cover all areas well.
  6. Then top the green chutney layer, with the remaining batter and cover and cook for another 10 minutes on high flame.
  7. Meanwhile, prepare the garnish, by heating the oil in a deep vessel. Add mustard seeds, and wait for it to crackle. Add cumin seeds and wait to to be light brown, then add white sesame seeds, chopped chillies and curry leaves and remove from gas after 10-15 seconds.
  8. Once the second layer of Khatta Sandwich Dhokla batter cooked, open and spread the garnish evenly all over and cover and let it cook further for 3-4 minutes.
  9. Make square or diamond cuts and serve with extra chutney, sauce or have it plain and you will enjoy the warm soft texture of Khatta Sandwich Dhokla!
Recipe Notes

Tips

Ensure that the consistency of the batter is dropping consistency.

You can also add ginger chillies paste in the mix to make it more spicier.

When the dhokla  leaves the edges of the thali/platter,  it indicates that it is nicely cooked. Other way of checking is to insert a knife/fork and check for the firmness/cooking of the batter.

If you want to try an instant mix variation, check out another post on  Khaman Dhokla Instant Mix Recipe

Instinct Factor

Persistence and instinct plays a great role in getting things right!

You can variate different types of chutneys for exploring different flavors. I might do with Guacamole filling to try something new with a twist!

Feel Factor

For a Gujarati household, another way of  making  Dhoklas  is always appealing and I have the chef back in India to thank for! The texture is soft and the layer of chutney makes it interesting and spicy. I cannot wait to explore this with the fresh homemade idli batter and am positive that will turn out even more fluffier and tastier! Morning breakfast got a new item on the menu! Plan to post the instant mix recipe of White Dhokla soon too, as this has been my way of making quick dependable tasty Dhoklas for all these years! Enjoy the upcoming festivities of Diwali with delicious foods of all kinds!

 

 

 

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Instant Gulab Jamun Fried Dough

Instant Gulab Jamun Fried Dough at cookingbyinsnct.com

Instant Gulab Jamun Fried Dough is my favorite Indian dessert, which was the dessert by my demand on my wedding day. I truly love this dessert, and my husband does not! Like any other normal couple:)

Normally I favor Gits Instant Mixes, but in this case, my mother referred Chitale’s Instant Gulab Jamun pack, so thought I will check that out. And true to her statement, the Chitale’s ¬†Gulab Jamun were just simply delicious. Wikipedia, says that this was accidentally discovered by Shah Jahan’s personal chef and shares similarities with a Arabic dessert.¬†The word Gulab means Rose, so flavored with Rose Water, and Jamun, refers to the shape and color similar to a flower found in India. ¬†Often rose petals are scattered in the syrup to give it a rich dessert feel. Since I was making this dessert for the first time I had to admit I was nervous a bit, but it turned out to be the perfect shape, color, with the right amount of sweetness and fragrance. This dessert will stay fresh for at least couple of weeks after being made, and hence are also popularly available in cans too at Indian grocery stores.

In Rajasthan, the Gulab Jamuns are fried in ghee, but in Gujarat side, they are fried in oil. I prefer the oil frying as it makes it more crisper. Fried dough based recipes are well appreciated the world over, as doughnuts are so popular amongst varied cultures and people. This is the ultimate fried dough recipe that is dipped in sugar syrup with hint of flavors from saffron and cardamon, besides rosewater and sugar. Because of this, the dessert was highly rated by my neighbors too.

Could not have found a better recipe to share with you than Instant Gulab Jamun Fried Dough, and hope that 2017 for you is full of sweetness and fragrance, and full of yum food and comfort.  Look out for the gravy based vegetable made from Gulab Jamuns in future blog post.

HAPPY and DELICIOUS 2017!

Instant Gulab Jamun Fried Dough

Recipe makes about 30 pieces of Gulab Jamun

Ingredients

  • 1 pack of Chitale’s Gulab Jamun Mix
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp water( or approx 120ml) for gulab jamun
  • Oil for frying

For the sugar syrup

  • 4 cups of sugar
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1/2 tsp rose water
  • 1 tsp cardamom powder
  • A few strands of saffron

Method

  • Mix the ingredient of the pack with 120 ml of water, with the water added in stages, as needed to make a soft dough.

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  • Make about 1/2 tbsp ¬†size round balls.

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  • Make the sugar syrup by heating the sugar and water and saffron strandsfor about 7 minutes, The consistency should not be thick, and keep it warm on a lowest flame.
  • Put the oil to heat, and after it reaches smoking reduce it to medium heat.
  • Fry the balls¬†to a deep brown color for making the dessert version.

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  • Dip the fried dough instantly into the sugar syrup and press them down. This is important for it being soft and fluffy.
  • After it cools down, add, rose water and cardamom and let the instant ¬†gulab jamuns soak in the sugar syrup.
  • Chill the Gulab Jamuns for about 2-3 hours.
  • Some people enjoy warm Gulab Jamuns.

Gulab Jamun

 

Tips

If the oil cools down, the fried dough becomes stiff. so ensure that the temperature of oil is appropriate. The color of the gulab jamun will darken when soaked in the sugar syrup. I had some cracks on the surface, as I took some time to fry these after rolling them into balls. So fry them instantly, or ensure that you rub some ghee in the palm and roll them again, before frying, if not frying them instantly.

Instinct Factor

Putting the gulab jamuns in the sugar syrup was instinct based, as the syrup is absorbed more, when still hot. Once the dough cools down, it will not absorb enough to make it soft and fluffy.

Feel Factor

Wow!! For the feeling of accomplishment, on trying to make an all time favorite dessert and being successful at it! Loved the softeness, fluffiness, taste , texture and fragrance of saffron and rosewater. They were a great hit at the dinner party and I even saved a couple and had them after three weeks, and still tasted delicious. Thankful for the instant mix companies, for manufacturing such great products, that make  life more easier, and contentment more achievable! This recipe of Instant Gulab Jamun Fried Dough is sure to be a success at your end too, as I was able to achieve this at the first go! Happy New Year and Healthy and Delicious 2017 to all of you.!!

 

 

 

 

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Jalebi Spiral Doughnut

Jalebi Spiral Donut

Jalebi Spiral Doughnut, also popularly recognized as the national sweet of India, has its earliest reference in India, in a Jain manuscript Priyamkarnrpakatha written by Jinasura in 1450 AD, The traditional name for Jalebi was Jal-Vallika meaning “dipped in water”, which in later dialects in India became Jalebi, Jalepi , Jilabi and so on. ¬†In Sanskrit it was also alternatively known as Kundalika, which means coiled rope, circle, which is how the shape of this jalebi spiral doughnut. Personally, it reminds me of two things, one is the ripple effect of stone thrown in water, and secondly it reminds me of the countless galaxies that exist in our universe! It so nice to see nature reflected in our daily food and day to day activities!!

The current recipe for making Jalebi, is still very similar to what has been documented in 17th-century classic Bhojan-kutuhala by Raghunath. All these evidences clearly give more weight to the theory that this is an Indian Sweet as compared to some claims that it originated from Persia, where it was known as Zelbia or Zoolabiya. The Persian trade route would have definitely made the travelers excited in their talks about this aphrodasiac dessert which is prominent dessert at weddings and also for major national celebrations and holidays. The fact that Jalebi it was mentioned in the manuscript with the name Priyam, makes me think it was aptly made by the rich merchants to please their guests! And boy it pleases so many across the world, as it is found in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Persia, Iran, Africa, Egypt, Turkey, and even Israel. And it seems in the USA, a Syrian used it to make ice cream cones, till the current ice cream cones were made.

In Gujarat, traditional celebrations of Dusshera is done with jalebi and gathiya, and I have an extreme liking for jalebi. Hence, I had to try it out for Dusherra. So I opted to trying out the Gits Instant Jalebi Mix using a cookie decorating nozzle. The result was very satisfying as I was able to get a great shape, that held even after hours, the right texture that was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, and the color was the shining golden! Next time I will try to use a different nozzle, so that the thickness is a bit more. I have to admire that the Gits Instant Mix are often my source for instant and reliable recipes and for which I have also blogged earlier for making Idlis, Dhoklas, Handvo and now even desserts.

Jalebi Spiral Doughnut has an enticing shape, a firm texture, inviting color and fragrance. It becomes simple to make with an instant mix, and it would be not surprising if Jalebi, can also be one of the easiest fried donut recipes. Even if the shape is not totally perfect, it does not matter, as one cannot go wrong with this fried dough dipped in saffron sugar syrup! Enjoy these lovely swirls of delicious sweetness as we get closer to the festival of Diwali!!

Recipe makes about 25-30 2inch wide Jalebis

Cooking Time : 30 minutes

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 pack of Instant Jalebi Mix
  • Oil for frying
  • Icing bag, nozzle or ketchup bottle for making jalebi.(In India, the Gits Packet includes the bottle too!)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 11/4¬†cup of water
  • saffron strands
  • few drops of lemon
  • 1 tbsp of milk(optional)

Method

Cooking the sugar syrup:

  • Mix the sugar and water and bring to boil.
  • Boil vigorously about after 8-10¬†minutes.

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  • Add 1 tbsp milk and a few drops of lemon, to clear the water.

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  • Remove the froth with a slotted spoon to make the sugar syrup clear of dirt.

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  • Add saffron strands to the water and keep it lukewarm, ready to be dipped.
  • The consistency of sugar syrup or chasni should be for one string.
  • Make the sugar syrup first, before making the Jalebi.

Making the Jalebis

  • Mix the ingredients for the pack with 190 ml of water plus 6 1/2 tbsp of water.
  • Whisk the mix thoroughly with hands.
  • Continue mixing till it is an extremely smooth paste.

  • Put the oil to heat on a medium flame
  • Pour the mix into a icing bag or a ketchup bootle. I used a Kuhn Rikon cookie decorating bottle with nozzle#1

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  • Make swirls into the oil on a low heat. The swirls will hold shape and rotate on its own, when the oil temperature is appropriate.

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  • Cook for a a minute or so and flip over with a slotted spoon. Alternatively ¬†you can use tongs too.

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  • Cook the other side for a minute and a half and remove and instantly drop it into the sugar syrup. The color should be light pink, as the above image does not give the indication of the cooked jalebi color.
  • Ensure that the sugar syrup is always lukewarm, so keep it on a low heat continuously.
  • Press the inserted Jalebis so that they soak up the sugar syrup.
  • Remove from the syrup after a minute or so and serve.
  • After 10 minutes, on cooling, can be ¬†stored in an airtight container.
  • Enjoy them hot, cold, with milk rabri, or just as plain simple snack and sugar shot!

 

 

Jalebi Spiral Donut

Tips

For Vegan recipes, milk can be avoided in the sugar syrup, as it is mainly used as a cleanser. To get a better control of the shape keep the nozzle close to the oil so that you can go with the flow of the rotating swirls.Do not overcook, the jalebi as that will make them brown in color and also stiff.

A delay in the transfer to sugar syrup will yield it not evenly colored, as well as it will entail crystallizing of sugar on the top. Frying in oil is more preferable to hold the texture, as compared to frying in ghee, though folks in Rajasthan and some other parts, fry only in ghee!

Instinct Factor

Using a nozzle was an instinct based, as was to figuring out how to swirl! Try topping it with cinnamon powder to create a new flavor.The sugar syrup can also have additions of rose water and cardamom powder for extra flavor.

Feel Factor

A sense of joyful accomplishment on savoring Jalebi Spiral Doughnut, a  childhood favorite dessert of mine, specially from my hometown Rajkot, where it is savored with fafda ghatiyas. I distinctly remember watching in awe some of the kandoi making these delicious savories and snacks and in my wildest dream I did not think I will be doing this one day! The taste was great, the look was sharp and the texture was firm as I liked it!!! By making this, I surely was happy I celebrated Dusshera in its true sense and the joy of sharing these sweets with friends and family made it even better! Happy Dusherra though belated one, to all my readers!!

Jalebi Spiral Doughnut

 

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Theratipal Thabdi Milk Cake from Condensed Milk

Theratipal  Thabdi Milk Cake are different names of this dessert! Theratipal as it is known in Tamil cuisine, where the word Therati means to stir constantly  and Pal, means milk. So traditionally this sweet dish was cooked by constantly stirring the milk and sugar over heat, until it caramelizes. This same dish is only different in color and shape but cooked the same way, in Gujarat too, where it is known as Thabdi. This happens to be my number 1 sweet from Rajkot, and I immensely cherish this simple milk cake flavor. People often call this as milk cake, as I discovered on researching about it on Google.

I am indebted to my Tamil friend philosopher guide and walking buddy in New Jersey, for introducing me to this recipe. The moment I had it, I was reminded of Thabdi from Rajkot and I was so very pleased for getting to know how to make it in simple easy steps. The secret was using condensed milk and heating in microwave. The recipe had been lying with me for 7-8 years, but never so light of the day till yesterday, which seemed to be a perfect timing to try this out on my own.

Yesterday being Earth day, and me being a big big fan of this planet earth, had to something more to celebrate, other than just plant some new flowers and rejoice in the blooms around me! I have always liked getting my hands dirty in the ground to  plant something that gives you joy, year after year, and also teaches some important life lessons, One such lesson I have learnt is that everything is cyclical in nature as depicted by seasons that come and go, and every part of nature gets recycled into something else, and hence my feeling is the universe also gets recycled in some form or other and probably we as souls also keep changing our forms and lives over and over again.

As a very happy earthling, this dessert made great choice for celebration, as it is brown like the earth, and sweet and fragrant like the flowers and that bloom in it.  Also this being the month of Mahavir Jayanti too, an important festival among Jains on the birth celebrations of Lord Mahavir it gave another reason to celebrate nature and environment and re-emphasize the importance of protecting and living in harmony with mother nature, which seems to be the backdrop on which Jainism values are set, in my opinion.

So  wishing a belated Happy Earth day to all with Theratipal Thabdi Milk Cake,  and hoping that many of  you may have planted some nice flowers for the birds and bees or trees for the shade  and shown appreciation in one way or the other for our planet earth- home of all and very happy to display this on leaf dish with blue earth background in true spirt of Earth Day!

Theratipal Thabdi Milk Cake Recipe

Recipe makes 9 pieces of 2*2 inches

Ingredients

  • 1 can condensed milk
  • 3 tbsp yogurt( Not sour)
  • 3¬†tbsp ghee (unmelted)
  • 3-4 cardamom seeds crushed finely
  • Pinch of saffron
Method
  • Use a deep microwave container if possible, as while cooking, the milk tends to overflow.
  • Grease the microwave bowl ¬†with some ghee
  • Mix yoghurt and 1 tbsp ghee into condensed milk.

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  • Heat for about 3 minutes monitoring it consistently. if the milk rises too close to the brim of bowl, take it out and mix well.

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  • This is how it would look around 4 minutes..

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  • Continue heating the mixture for another 3¬†minute but take it out every 30 -40 seconds or so and stir thoroughly, till the¬†mixture is brown and the grain becomes finer.¬†and consistent enough to form it into balls.¬†It should not become too hard, it should be pliable

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  • Remove from microwave and fold in the ghee, and cardamom powder.

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  • Set the mixture to cool in a deep dish by spreading it evenly and smoothening the top using a spatula or back of a small steel bowl. I used my microwave container only to set, as it was the perfect depth and shape.

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  • ¬†Using a sharp knife or spatula makes pieces.

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  • Cool for about 5 minutes and store in an airtight container.

Theratipal Thabdi Milk Cake

  • Enjoy the taste of home sweet home!! This should stay fresh for about 2-3 days, but best when eaten fresh.

Theratipal Thabdi Milk Cake

 

Tips

If the mixture gets too stiff, add some ghee and a bit of yogurt and mix it in, to make it more pliable. Alternatively a tbsp of milk also might help to make it more soft.

The consistency will harden after some time, so keep that in mind.

For vegan options, please use appropriate condensed milk from soy or almond.

Instinct Factor

Instinct factor is totally at work to recreate this delicacy and tweak the recipe that was more suited to what was more common in Tamil cuisine.Trusting your tastebuds works the best! So feel free to do what dictates your heart! Make sure that yogurt is not too sour, and if you like it more sweeter, add some sugar.

Feel Factor

Theratipal Thabdi Milk Cake is a simple ten minute recipe using condensed milk and the end result is a filling, soulful sweet that reminds you of mother earth. The fact that some people refer this as a milk cake, gives an indication to the texture of this delicacy, however it is not as soft as how one would expect¬†a cake is. It is slightly more gooey and with some texture too it. ¬†If you like yogurt, milk and caramelized flavor, this might be just a new discovery for you to fall in love with and for me to continue my liking for this sweet. I did find out that I like the yogurt flavor in this sweet, and am extremely happy to share this earth looking sweet, around Earth Day¬†which may be called as¬†Theratipal from Tamilnadu or Thabdi from Gujarat. ¬†Great thing is, both start with the same syllable, “Th” and both are part of the this planet earth and this sweet also will be equally enjoyed by people from different part of earth, as did my neighbors!

 

 

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Falafel Sandwich

Falafel Sandwich

Falafel Sandwich will definitely “fill” you up with all the protein you need and make you “feel” healthy for sure! How I wish there were more Falafel sandwich options as there are Subway sandwich options! That would be a real nice addition for those watching weight and trying to lose weight once you hit the middle age! Falafel has a very confused origin, but it favours Egypt, to be the most likely place from where it came, and there it is traditionally known as Tamiya. the word coming from Tam,meaning plenty, and tamiya is also a prominent part of the meals of Gujaratis of Sudan and East Africa! Tamiya though are made purely from Fava bean base. I took some time to cultivate this taste, as I definitely did not like the sesame taste as a young kid, as well as the taste of fava beans. My journey to becoming a Falafel fan started with the Cheap Food Eats ¬†at Mamoun’s Falafel. The college kids in SOHO district in Manhattan, which housed the all night open joint of Mamoun’s Falafel are always on the lookout for good cheap eats. ¬†I have an old school friend of mine to thank for introducing us to this gem.

Mamoun’s is an extremely small joint with hardly 2-3 tables to sit at MacDougal St in Manhattan. A video on the store can be seen at¬†Mamoun’s at MacDougal. They claim to be one of first ones to introduce Middle Eastern cuisine and Falafel to New York. And their Falafel comes from chickpeas base, and hence I can see why it got such a vast popularity, that it has now four new locations in New Jersey and Connecticut! Way to go for a cheap filling, healthy food place, that 15 years back charged¬†just $2.50 a falafel sandwich, and now is just $3:50! The quality has remained consistent over the years, and this is one place we really miss not going to.

So had to resort to making the same at home, and much easily done when using instant mix of Nirav’s Falafel mix, easily available at Indian Grocery store. The ingredients in the pack include, chickpeas, fava, sesame, onion, garlic and parsley and spices and salt. The whole story of the various versions of falafel as well as the making of falafel from scratch is well explained on this blog¬†¬†http://toriavey.com/toris-kitchen/2011/01/falafel/ where she mention how originally this started as vegetarian base food only!

This is a very healthy recipe that satisfies your tastebuds, mind and replenish your body and muscles with the great amount of protein in chickpeas, fava beans and yogurt, and the ease with which this is made. makes it a much frequently had meal in our house. Another great point about it is,  it]S rainbow color meal, a principle I try to follow, to ensure the different nutrients are consumed via the different color of foods.

Check out the tips section for more options to the balls and sauces to get more unique flavors or get original and try the various version from scratch as detailed in the blogs mentioned above! This can be a very easy party menu, as it is simple to  fry the balls before hand and then slice everything and guests can assemble the falafel sandwich according to the sauces and garnishes of their choice. So why not have a fulfilling Falafel flavoured full on party at home?!

FALAFEL SANDWICH

Recipe makes 9  falafel balls

Time to cook 20 min

Ingredients

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  • 1 1/2 cup of Nirav Falafel Mix
  • Oil for frying
  • 1 1/4 cup of water
  • 1 cup shredded lettuce
  • 2 tomatoes thinly sliced into half circles
  • 1/2 cup cucumber sliced thin and then further sliced vertical like strips
  • 1 1/2 cup of hummus – my recipe detailed here¬†Hummus Using Canned Chickpeas
  • salt to taste
  • 8-9 pita or 4 pitas cut into halves( Middle Eastern brand Pitas is what I prefer)

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For Tzatziki Sauce
  • 1 medium sized plain greek yogurt or any thick yogurt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup grated cucumber
  • salt to taste
  • 2-3 pods of garlic crushed
For Hummus Recipe

Refer my previous recipe of  Hummus Recipe Using Chickpeas Canned or Soaked

Method

For Making Falafel
  • Soak 1 cup of Falafel mix with 1 cup of water and leave it to rest for 30-45 min.

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  • Heat oil for frying on high flame and then reduce it to medium
  • Using an ice cream scoop drop scoops of mix into the oil.

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  • Fry till golden brown and then flip and cook the other side.
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  • Using a slotted spoon, remove the falafel balls from oil ¬†and drain.

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For making Tzatziki Sauce
  • Mix all ingredients and serve.
Serving the Falafel
  • Cut the pita into halves, and insert your fingers in the half to create a pocket in the middle.

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  • Layer the bottom of the pocket with some hummus.
  • Layer some tzatziki sauce on top.
  • Insert couple of falafel balls.

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  • Top it with chopped lettuce, sliced tomatoes and thinly sliced cucumbers.

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  • Layer it again with some tzatziki and hummus and sprinkle of salt. Another way of serving is on ¬†flat whole pita bread. with falafel , ¬†veggies and dressing and fold over and eat.
  • Or serve just the falafel balls with hummus and tahini sauce. ¬†Bon Appetit!!

Falafe Sandwich

Falafel Sandwich

 

Tips

If the oil temperature is not right, the falafel balls will be uncooked, and not crispy on the outside and soft to bite. So medium heat, while cooking is essential.

If the mix is too dry, add little  water to make it to dropping consistency.

Instinct Factor

If you like sesame seeds on top, use 1 cup water only, and form balls with your hand and then roll it in sesame seeds and fry.

Additional toppings of pickled cucumber, spicy Sriracha sauce are good additions to the falafel sandwich.

I like the pocket pita sandwich but it is also served on a flat pita bread and layer things on top and then folded like a wrap.

Feel Factor

A sandwich of a different kind that is more protein based, cooling, healthy, and tasty as well! It is colorful, makes you feel like you are eating a pakora and yet feel healthy! Crunchy taste of the pakoras with the dressings of hummus, and yogurt based tzatziki is an interesting combination. A definite addition to my monthly menu for the huge protein components that are of high importance for vegetarian diet. And interesting enough. Falafel originated as a vegetarian sandwich and not a meat based so a definite another plus point for me!

 

 

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Hummus Recipe using Canned Chickpeas

Hummus

Hummus is the most popular addition to the American food landscape in the 20th century, that has also been a great part of the vegetarian and vegan cuisine. Though originally a part of Egyptian cuisine, it is now prominently known as a part of Middle Eastern, Lebanese cuisine. In Palestine  hummus is made of yogurt and butter instead of tahini and olive oil. Per Wikipedia, the oldest record in the history shows a dish of hummus made with cooked chickpeas, lemon, salt, olive oil, herbs and nuts, but no garlic and tahini. This non-garlic version is what I also prefer, as somehow garlic seems to be a recent addition to the dish, that, in my opinion takes away the original flavour. Lots of herbs such as parsley, red pepper, cumin powder, can be used to garnish the hummus.

I found an interesting link about a travelogue of a vegetarian foodie while visiting Middle East Jordan that I found quite entertaining. One can read more about it here¬†Middle Eastern Vegetarian Options. The article talks about household recipes, which in my opinion are the backbone to any great cuisine. Hummus is used as a peace symbol in some middle eastern cartoons, where one of them stated “Make Hummus, Not War” which I thought was quite apt!

This recipe is for my brother, who fell in love with the hummus from California Pizza Kitchen, which incidentally is made from Fava Beans. And I may just try the fava bean base on the third thursday in May, which is celebrated as “Hummus Day”

Hummus is one delicious recipe that is very easy to make under 15 minutes, using canned chickpeas, and so should be your go to recipe for those in-between meal moments of hunger !! Am looking forward to seeing an Israeli movie Hummus released in 2015, that was intended to set a Guinness Book of World Record for biggest quantity of Hummus made by a group of people. The featured image on the top shows garnishes of olive oil and red chilli flakes in the picture on the left, and dried mint leaves and roasted cumin powder and olive oil  in the picture on the right. For vegetarian and vegan eaters, this is a very easy, fancy and highly nutritious recipe that should become part of your everyday menu as it gives a great protein booster. It tastes great whether it is cold or slightly warm. Its varied uses can be as accompaniment to pita, falafel, or as spreads in sandwiches or as dips with salads and veggies. Many many ways to eat this Hummus!!

Hummus Recipe

Recipe makes  for 10-12 people

Prep Time 12 min

Ingredients
  • 2¬†cans of ¬†540 ml of garbanzo/chickpeas beans, or four¬†cups of soaked and semi cooked chickpeas
  • 1/2¬†cup white sesame seeds or 1/4 cup tahini paste
  • 6¬†tbsp lemon juice

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  • 6¬†tbsp olive oil ( extra virgin olive oil preferable)
  • red chilli powder /red chilli flakes or roasted cumin powder
  • 3/4 cup-1 cup water based on the consistency needed
  • 3¬†finely chopped thai hot red chillies(optional)
  • 2¬†tbsp chopped coriander/cilantro leaves(optional)
  • a pinch of baking soda to be added while cooking soaked chickpeas
  • salt to taste

Garnishing Choices

  • Roasted cumin powder,crushed dried mint leaves
  • Olive oil , red pepper flakes
  • Parsley leaves
  • Cilantro leaves
  • All the garnishing choices can be used alone or in combination,

Method

  • Drain the chickpeas off its liquid
  • Grind the sesame seeds into fine powder in an electric blender.

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  • Add red chillies, chickpeas, cilantro, ¬†lemon juice, olive oil and salt,

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  • Churn for 4-5 min on high speed.

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  • Add water and blend for another 4-5 minutes, till the paste is extremely smooth.

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Garnishing

  • ¬†Make a hole in the center and pour some olive oil on top and sprinkle some red chilli flakes
  • Alternatively garnish it with some olive oil and dried mint leaves and roasted cumin powder.

Enjoy with some warm pita or pita chips ! The image below shows the toppings of olive oil and red chilli flakes.

Hummus Recipe usiing canned chickpeas

Tips

Using extra virgin oil gives it a rich taste. I have used both the thai red hot chillies and cilantro in this recipe as well as cans of organic garbanzo beans.

Ensure that soaked chickpeas are soft to bite, alternatively, cook them to 1-2 whistles. The texture of the soaked chickpeas should be whole but soft to bite.

Other flavours of hummus include plain, roasted red pepper, cilantro and hot peppers.

Instinct Factor

Continue blending till the paste is extremely smooth.

With correct amount of lemon, water and olive oil, the hummus will have a slight shine on the top.

Feel Factor

Now Middle Eastern cuisine can be cooked way more often than earlier, as there is the extra satisfaction that the hummus was made at home. The homemade hummus is free from all preserving chemicals added to store products to increase the shelf life, plus its cheaper and equally tastier too. We enjoyed this spicy hummus and could taste the lemon and olive oil, both, while relishing the falafel meal at home. The smooth and thick texture  was just right, and one can get addictive to this highly nutritious snack dip!

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Thalipeeth Multigrain Flatbread

Thalipeeth Multigrain Flatbread is a traditional Indian flatbread that is grilled crispy on a griddle and served with homemade butter,  pickles and yogurt. My first exposure to Thalipeeth was in a very famous vegetarian restaurant in Mumbai, called Swati Snacks. They served this with accompanying gravy dish called Pitla, which is similar to Gatte ki sabji of Marwari cuisine or Dhokli nu shaak in Gujarati cuisine.

After leaving India, the luxury of eating some great Indian local food is very much gone. And whenever one visits India, it always feels you are short on time, and not able to go all the places you want to visit! So with a sudden urge and nostalgia to eat one of the favourite meals in Swati Snacks from its highly varied, filling and consistent tasty meals,  I decided to try the instant mix available in the Indian Grocery Store.

The Bhajani or the flour of Thalipeeth, contains roasted and coarsely ground flours from Sorghum, Pear Millet, Bengal Gram, Wheat, Rice and Black Grams. Roasted coriander seeds are also added to the mix while grinding. So when one opens the packet, you get a rich aroma of  coriander seeds. In India Thalipeeth flour or Thalipeeth Bhajani is easily available specially in Maharashtra. For overseas readers, I found an authentic cooking blog focussing on Maharashtrian cuisine, which talks about authentic recipes from Maharashtra and Thalipeeth flour break up. Next time, I will have the Thalipeeth Multigrain Flatbread with Gatte ki Subzi to revisit my experience of eating this the first time at Swati Snacks!!

This instant version is quick, highly nutritious as it is uses many grains,  and one can flavour it with some extra vegetables like shredded cabbage, carrots etc,. Hence for me it is the super power of the many grains in this recipe that motivates me to say Go Thalipeeth Multigrain Flatbread, and not Go Panthers or Go Broncos!!

Recipe makes 4 pieces

TIme to Cook 15 min

Time to Prepare : 7 min

Ingredients
  • 1 cup Thalipeeth Mix Flour (K-Pra Brand)

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  • 1/2 cup chopped cabbage
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro/coriander leaves
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 3-4 green chopped green chillies(optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions ( optional)
  • 1/2 tbsp yogurt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Oil to grease
Method
  • Mix everything except oil and taste for salt and spice levels.

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  • Bind into a medium stiff dough with very little water and cover the dough and let it rest for 20 minutes.

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  • Make 4 equal parts.
  • Roll into a round shape, with slight thickness like in a bhakhri feel. while using a little dusting flour to roll.Punch some holes into the rolled thalipeeth, so that it cooks better. Alternatively one can roll this with hand on a plastic sheet, make holes, which is the traditional way of doing it. I am also learning as I research more ¬†on the recipe!

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  • Heat a griddle, and put the rolled thalipeeth to cook, by flipping it over, so that side you punched holes is the first to get cooked.

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  • Put the flame on medium and drop some oil on the sides.
  • Using a rolled up paper towel, or muslin cloth, put pressure from the top and cook like a bhakri.

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  • When golden brown, flip it over and cook the other side.
  • Serve warm with a drop of butter, pickles, yogurt. It tastes good with these three accompaniments, but the way I really like it is the way I originally had it, and this is with¬†Gatte Ki Subzi. As the spicy yogurt gravy of Gatte ki Subzi goes well with this crispy Thalipeeth and also makes the meal complete.

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Tips

The dough will feel dry when rolling so using dusting flour, and the edges will break, which is normal.

If you like spicy, go ahead and add the green chillies. In some other recipes, I have also seen  additions of 2 tbsp sesame seeds and 1/2 cup of ground peanuts. So if you feel like it making more rich, you have some options!

Instinct Factor

Crispy cooking requires medium slow cooking and patience, so give time while cooking on the griddle and the result will be worth it. If the rolled thalipeeth is difficult to remove from the rolling board, use a flat spatula with sharp edge  to help you flip it over from the rolling board to the griddle.

Also as many grains are involved, it is better to cook medium, so that all grains blend well and give a nice aroma.

Feel Factor

Crispy multi grain flat bread that is spicy and extremely nutritious and the fun part, made from instant mix and  that makes it truly  an under half an hour recipe! Now this can be easily added to weekend brunches to have something warm on a chilly day or otherwise. The accompaniment of butter is great and I did feel as if I was half way to India, after eating this! In Thalipeeth, incidentally peeth means flour, so I guess a plate full of flour is the literal translation of Thalipeeth.  The reason I like this recipe is also as all the flours are pre-mixed and hence avoids stocking of various different flours to arrive at the basic Thalipeeth mix flour!

 

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Instant Rava Dosa Rice Semolina Crepe

Back from India after a summer vacation, and it always feels good to be in India, even if it is raining cats and dogs! Monsoon is a season I thoroughly enjoy, so visiting when it is raining is a good vacation, when the plan is just to enjoy and not have an agenda of things to do on your trip.  Today being the 69th Independence Day of India, and feeling patriotic, decided to cook up something for breakfast that is quick yet allows to satisfy the creative you!!  So here am I trying my hand at drawing a map of India from memory,  using rava dosa batter and having fun with it. The childlike joy of  just having fun is good for your soul!

Rava Dosa is an absolute favorite of mine and am pretty picky about the way it is cooked, and hence had to have the recipe perfected to my satisfaction. And the melted Amul butter on the top is just too tempting to resist.  Rava Dosa is one quick item, that could be breakfast, lunch, dinner or anytime snack, and the preparation of it is under 10 minutes and you can satisfy a hungry stomach in under 15 minutes.

The way this Dosa is prepared, is that the dough is pretty watery, and hence the easiest way to pour the batter on the griddle is through your fingertips, and this whole process is pretty soothing to an artist and its fun to see the holes form in between the batter!!

And the way I put the seasoning is to sprinkle the seasonings on the griddle and then cover it with the batter. That way the seasonings are well grilled, and do not soften the exterior of the dosa. And top it with Amul butter greasing which gives it a golden warmth to the dosa that I just admire and also makes it more crispier too. WIth the upcoming Jain Paryushan, this can be an easy item to add to the list of Paryushan friendly recipes, when one omits, green chillies, coriander and shallots.  Increased whole black peppercorns and also adding some grounded peppercorn, makes it spicy enough. Interestingly, black peppercorn is the original ingredient used for spice, before green chillies travelled to India.

The texture of Instant Rava Dosa Rice Semolina Crepe is crispy, the feel is like a spicy salty crepe, and you can have it plan with chutney, pickle  or have it stuffed it vegetables. So try this recipe for a quick breakfast, snack or lazy meal item and have fun with it, as I enjoyed it thoroughly!!

Recipe makes 12-15  Rava Dosas

Prep Time : 10 min

Cooking Time 5 min per  Rava Dosa

Ingredients
  • 1 cup semolina rava
  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 1/4 cup ¬†all purpose (maida) ¬†flour
  • 6¬†cups water
  • 2 tbsp chopped coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin ( jeera) seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black ground pepper
  • pinch of asofoetida
  • 11 tsp whole peppercorns
  • 2¬†tsp diced ginger(optional)
  • 1 cup finely chopped ¬†pink onions (shallots)
  • oil to grease
  • butter to make it crispy (optional)
  • salt to taste
Method
  • Mix semolina, rice flour, all purpose flour, salt, pepper and asofoetida ¬†in a prep bowl.

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  • Add 5 cups of water and mix thoroughly so no lumps ¬†are left.

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  • Heat a dosa tava or round thick pan griddle on medium high flame.
  • Dot with oil or some butter.
  • Sprinkle the garnishes of your choices on the pan first- cumin seeds, peppercorns, ginger, chillies, coriander and shallots.
  • Stir the mix and using your fingers, drop the batter on to the garinshes on the¬†pan, letting the the mix slide through your fingers on to the griddle.

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  • Go in a circular pattern while dropping the batter. This will create holes and gaps as seen in a rava dosa made in a resturant.
  • Grease the Dosa crepe on the edges with oil/butter on the top, Using a flat spatula, cut the butter from the slab and roll it over the Dosa Crepe
  • Cook on a medium a high flame.
  • Dot some oil/butter on the¬†edges of the Instant Rava Dosa crepe.
  • As the edges start changing color to golden brown and some portion in the center also changes color, release the dosa from the sides and flip if over.
  • Cook some more on this side for a minute or so, and flip it over and ¬†roll the dos roll the dosa crepe.IMG_4051

 

  • Serve hot with chutney, sambhar, yogurt, or potato filling, or pickle

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Tips

Cook  Instant Rava Dosa Rice Semolina Crepe on a well heated griddle with thick bottom on medium to high flame.

Nirlep Brand Non Stick Tavas for Dosas are best in my opinion. Alternatively the thick two burner griddles that are available at 20$ or so also work well.

If you run out of Rava or Sooji , just plain rice flour with 1/4 tbsp all purpose flour and 3 cups of water will also do.

Instinct Factor

Wait for the edges to turn golden brown  to flip it to the other side to cook.

Get creative like making different shapes of pancake making! If you get inspired to make India’s map or anything with set sides, do remember that the image that you create should be flipped to a mirror image, as when you turn the cooked side over, it will get you a mirror image of what you dropped as a batter!! Fun Spatial exercise for the brain.

Feel Factor

For the picky rava dosa eaters, make it crispy or soft, adjust the spice levels, and get the color of dosa just right to your liking. And the best thing is, you made it!! I like it plain, crispy and well cooked with all the  different garnishes triggering all different tastebuds. And my salute to India with GO INDIA with this Instant Rava Dosa Rice Semolina Crepe !!

 

 

 

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Vermicelli Upma Noodles with Vegetables

Vermicelli Upma Noodles with Vegetables is a southern Indian cuisine. This Upma can also be made with Barilla Cut Spaghetti which is also of similar size and thinness. ¬†Vermicelli Noodles, are commonly known as” Sevaiya, ¬†Sevia, Semiya Seviyan” in India. ¬† Seviyan Kheer, is a popular¬†dessert ¬†made out of ¬†Vermicelli Noodles. The world of Pasta is a fascinating world for me, and I was excited to find an interesting comparison of the various pasta based on their thickness , courtesy Wikipedia, and a visually appealing comparison is displayed below:

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Vermicelli Upma Noodles with Vegetables ia a healthy sumptuous, spicy and colorful and popular breakfast dish that is low fat, pasta based and very quick to make too! Easy,lemony, colorful, with in between crunch of nuts, vegetables, makes it a nice addition to everyday breakfast or quick meal option. This recipe is primarily shared also for the current generation of pasta loving kids, who also found a liking to this version of Vermicelli Noodles! And for the Upma lovers, it is another version of Upma- the traditional Southern Indian Breakfast!

Recipe Serves 3 People

Prep Time: 5 min

Cooking Time: 15 min

Ingredients [shopeat_button]
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 1/2 cup vermicelli noodles (Pre Roasted Noodles – Bambino Brand- Local Indian Grocery Store)
  • 3/4 cup chopped carrots
  • 3/4 cup peas
  • 2 tsp finely ¬†chopped green chilies
  • 1 tsp diced ginger
  • 1 tbsp peanuts
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 4-5 currey leaves
  • 1/2 tsp urad dal seeds (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp chana dal(optional)
  • 6-7 cashews broken cashews(optional)
  • 2 cups water
  • salt to taste
  • few drops of lemon
  • 1 tbsp coriander for garnish

Method

  • Put oil to heat.
  • Add mustard seeds, and additional chana and urad dal seeds, after the mustard seeds crackle.
  • Add green chillies, ginger and saute for a min.
  • Add peanuts, cashews nuts(optional) at this stage and let them brown.
  • Add turmeric(optional)
  • Add carrots and peas and saute for 2 min.IMG_2450
  • Add 2 cups of water and salt and let it simmer without a lid for 7-8 min, till water quantity reduces to half.

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  • Lower the flame and stir in the vermicelli sevaiya noodles.

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  • After a min add a few drops of lemon, cover and let it simmer for 7 min.
  • Garnish with coriander and serve.IMG_2456

 Tips

If using the Cut Spaghetti, roast the pasta in one tbsp of oil, for 3-4 min.

Broccoli florets will also taste good with peas, as an alternative, and will cook fast enough, and be a good replacement for carrots.

To give a totally southern Indian cuisine flavour, add all optional items along with a diced onion added before the vegetables.

Instinct Factor

A tbsp of oil will help declump the noodles, in the event that vermicelli noodles get sticky.

Feel Factor

Vermicelli Upma Noodles with Vegetables is a healthy, quick, easy, colorful noodles and vegetables with a spicy, tangy flavour and a great breakfast, brunch or quick munch recipe for all pasta lovers!

 

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Pumpkin Soup

Welcoming Fall with everything orange!! Orange leaves in the backyard, orange pumpkins  lined up in the front for halloween and orange colored soup in the dinner menu!! Fall with its chilly climate is perfect to sip a warm colorful soup in the evening  along with some fresh baked bread and home made pesto sauce.

Making a pumpkin soup was like bringing the nature indoors for me, as we have had a few fall trips this year, and I was just amazed to see pumpkin patch or pumpkin farms, dotting in orange over a brown background of soil. This was one of the first exposure of mine to pumpkin farming.

This pumpkin soup  recipe is extremely quick and convenient as it uses all ready to go material and gives a gourmet feel at home. A bisque like soup with ginger, green onions, red chilli flakes, peanut butter (yum!) and sea salt,.. The ingredients list is so tempting and while the soup was simmering, I actually could smell the peanut fragrance in the soup!!

I am of the belief that nature takes care of us and provides us with nutrients as needed. So if we can incorporate them in our regular diet. we are well covered with our needs. All things orange, carrots, pumpkin are loaded with beta carotene, a much needed ingredient for sharp eyes and your DNA.  As a Jain follower would often look for substitutes for carrots, pumpkin is an ideal alternative to carrots. 1/2  can of 16 oz pumpkin puree serves 763% of your daily Vitamin A needs. So making this a part of your weekly diet even once, will fulfill the needs of Vitamin A, without having to resort to carrots. And that is very cool finding I made, thanks to the frequent posting to this blog!

I would like to recognize a very special friend at whose house I first tasted this pumpkin soup! Thats what friends are for as Dionne Warwick song goes..so hope you enjoy this colorful season of Fall, with this colorful pumpkin soup.

Recipe makes servings for 3 people

Time: 15 min

Prep time 5 min

Ingredients
  • 1 15oz ¬†can ¬†of pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • salt to taste, preferably sea salt
  • 2 tbsp green onions chopped (optional)
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1/2 tsp grated orange rind
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass
  • Fresh Cilantro/coriander leaves for garnish
Method
  • Mix pumpkin puree, vegetable broth/water and orange juice and put it to boil.
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  • Ater 3-4 min , add peanut butter, salt and the rest of ingredients.
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  • Simmer for 12 ¬†min on medium flame.
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  • Remove the lemongrass stalk, before serving.
  • Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves
  • Enjoy this with a slice of olive or tuscan bread or fresh baked baguette slice!

TIps

Freshly squeezed orange juice tastes better than the packaged juice, as there is a slight after bitter taste in a pre packed juice.

If you have peanut allergy, you can thicken the soup with cornstarch or potato starch. Mixt 2 tbsp of starch in a tbsp water and add to the sou

Instinct Factor

Just enjoy the fragrance and trust your friends choice in food!

Feel Factor

A warm colorful soup for the cold evening, with an unusual but delicious flavor of peanut butter, orange juice , lemon grass and ginger. This will definitely, spice up the chilly dark fall nite!

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