Saboodana Khichdi or Spiced Tapioca Pearls

Saboodana Khichdi, fresh from the pan.

Just like Julie Andrews sings These Are A Few Of My Favourite Things in the 1965 musical Sound of Music and goes on to tell us some of her favorite things in the song, if I sang this song, which I love, I would mention Saboodana Khichdi made by mom.

The recipe for this savory tapioca pearls snack, usually eaten for breakfast, at tea time, or during periods of fasting, because it doesn’t contain garlic, onions or even asafoetida, is an heirloom family recipe. And you must try it to believe how tasty the dish turns out.

I’d rate it as a slightly difficult dish to make because the saboodana or tapioca pearls must be bought fresh, not powdery in the packing, but whole rounds. They must be soaked in just the right quantity of water- just enough to soak them overnight, but not completely drowned in water. When you soak them in water like this they will swell up by the next morning. And you can move ahead with the recipe.

The swollen saboodana after soaking in water overnight

Roughly ground, roasted peanuts.
Potatoes chopped into small cubes, chillies, coriander, curry leaves, and lemon for garnish.
Saboodana mixed with sugar, green chillies, coriander, peanuts and salt.
Ready to eat Saboodana Khichdi

Saboodana Khichdi

Eat this tasty snack for breakfast or teatime, hot and fresh.
Course Snack
Cuisine Indian
Keyword Vegetarian
Servings 4 persons
Author Meenal Jhala

Ingredients

  • 200 gms saboodana or tapioca pearls
  • 6 tbsps ghee or clarified butter
  • 1 tspn cumin seeds
  • 10-12 curry leaves
  • 2 medium sized potatoes, chopped into small cubes
  • 1 cup roasted, peeled and roughly ground peanuts
  • Some finely chopped coriander
  • 2 to 3 finely chopped green chillies
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 lemon cut into 4 slices

Instructions

  • Take a medium sized, flat, broad based vessel. Put in the saboodana and soak in water about 1/4 inch above the level of the saboodana. Don’t let the saboodana drown in too much water. Let soak overnight. In the morning, the saboodana should have soaked in all the water, swollen up and if you press one, it should not have a hard centre.
  • Put the ghee in a thick bottomed pan and heat on medium flame. When hot put in the cumin seeds and curry leaves and fry till a nice aroma emanates, about one minute. Ensure that the cumin seeds do not burn and turn black. 
  • Now put in the chopped potatoes into the ghee and add just enough salt for only the potatoes. Cover the pan with a thali, put some water on top of the thali and let the potatoes cook on a slow flame.
  • Meanwhile, lightly toss the soaked saboodana in its vessel. Add the green chillies, finely chopped coriander, sugar, roughly ground peanuts and just enough salt for the saboodana. Remember, you’ve already added some salt to the potatoes.
  • Now, bring down the cooked potato pan from the flame and put the saboodana into the pan, quickly and gently tossing and mixing. 
  • Put back the pan on the flame and cook on low flame for 2 to 3 minutes. Your saboodana khichdi is ready. Sprinkle with lemon juice and serve hot.

Notes

The soaked saboodana should not be soggy and should not have a hard centre when pressed. It should have swollen when soaked overnight and the water should have been absorbed.
When tossing the saboodana before adding the peanuts, green chillies, chopped coriander leaves and salt, toss gently to separate the pearls so that they don’t stick to each other, so that when you add this saboodana mix to the pan of cooked potatoes, they do not stick and form lumps but are beautiful, separate, pearls.

Black Pepper, Dark Chocolate, And Cranberry Bread

This fantastic bread inspired by and adapted from Samantha Seneviratne’s recipe is worth dying for! It’s healthy, not so much sugar or butter in it and tasty too, the freshly ground pepper gives it a luxurious, smoky flavor. Seneviratne has Sri Lankan roots and her baking recipes contain delicious spices grown in her homeland.

Make it for guests, they will love it, and eat it warm from the oven. Of course you can store it in the fridge, Ahmedabad summers don’t allow you to keep anything outside for too long, and eat it cold, it still tastes awesome.

The pepper flavor in it intensifies over a period of a day or two. And I put in a real pepper punch, 2 teaspoons instead of 1 1/2 like she said. Then I also used cranberries instead of tart cherries because I didn’t have them and used salted butter instead of unsalted. The bread came out fabulous.

So go ahead and enjoy the recipe.

Black Pepper, Dark Chocolate And Cranberry Bread

Delicious, with chocolate chunks, cranberries and a pepper punch so good this bread is a bite of heaven.
Course Snack
Cuisine Sri Lankan
Keyword Eggetarian
Servings 10 persons
Author Meenal Jhala

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
  • 255 gms (2 cups) plain flour, plus more for dusting the pan
  • 2 tspns freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tspns baking powder
  • 1/2 tspn soda bicarbonate or baking soda
  • 1/2 tspn salt, if you’re using unsalted butter.
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 65 gms (1/2 cup) semisweet chocolate (50-60% cacao), chopped

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F/ 175 degrees C. Grease and flour a 4 1/2 inch by 8 1/2 inch loaf pan.
  • In a medium bowl, mix the plain flour, pepper, baking powder, soda bicarbonate, and salt if using.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk the butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and then add the vanilla.
  • Add half the flour mix, and beat gently until just combined. Add the sour cream and milk and mix briefly. Add the remaining flour and beat until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chunks and cranberries.
  • Put the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until golden brown in color, approximately 50 minutes, or when a skewer inserted into the bread comes out with some moist crumbs sticking to it.
  • Let the bread cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then remove the loaf from the pan, turn it right side up, and let it cool completely.

Notes

Go by your nose when it comes to checking to see if the cake is baked, not just the time given in the recipe. Every oven is different and if the cake smells baked it’s time to take it out of the oven even if it’s sooner than the given time in the recipe.

Kutch’s Famous Dabeli

E0E6115E-4F02-4CB3-B92E-BA7ECFA79EB7.jpeg

When you travel to Kutch in the winters, the land is barren, after all you’re deep in the desert. It’s biting cold. The temperature goes down to 6 degrees and even lower. It’s called the White Rann of Kutch and the best time to see these desert sands is on a full moon night when they glisten under the moonlight. It’s also absolutely wonderful what technology can do. The place, which is arid and dry and scorching in the summers becomes a flourishing tourist spot in the winter months. I stayed in a tent, there are tents for every budget. You certainly can’t call them basic, there’s steaming hot water coming out of the bathroom taps when you want it.

6E5AABF3-1077-4F66-91FE-6D26FC38F7C3.jpeg

The food is sumptuous and  everyone who attends the festival enjoys the food. There’s so much variety and the organisers keep everyone’s tummies full. There was toast and milk and cornflakes and fruit and fruit juice and tea and coffee, and poha and chole puri and upma and tiny uttapams and freshly made theplas and pickle, one day for breakfast.

Kutchi hospitality is renowned and so is the honesty of the locals. The locals are not well off and winter tourism is a boon for them. Our hosts exuded warmth and none of our belongings went missing, ever.

There is time to relax and rest and enjoy the winter sun if you wish to and enjoy at your own pace, or you can participate in adventure sports, go on a bus tour to see the sunrise and sunset over the desert, go see the palace of the Kutch royals, shop till you drop, and visit the art gallery in the Tent City. And there’s more…..

The Kutch Festival is held from Nov 15th to Jan 15th every year. You can book online. Just don’t forget to take your woolens along.

On a tour I took, the guide made us taste the original Kutchi Dabeli in Mandvi, which is known for its ship building besides. And the beautiful palace of the Kutch royals.

I’ve made it and here is the recipe. Try it at home. It tastes of love mainly, eaten freshly made.

17033BA8-1625-444F-8B62-31A50B640660.jpeg

Makes 8

Ingredients

3 tablespoons dabeli masala- store bought

3 tablespoons sweet date chutney plus 8 teaspoons more to spread on the buns

3 tablespoons oil

3 cups boiled, peeled and mashed potatoes

8 dabeli buns, any plain buns will also do.

8 teaspoons garlic chutney

2 medium onions, finely chopped

Some finely chopped fresh coriander

3/4 cup roughly crushed masala peanuts

3/4 cup fresh pomegranate seeds

3/4 cup fine sev

4 tablespoons butter

Method

1 In a small bowl add the dabeli masala to the sweet chutney and mix. Heat the oil on medium flame and pour this mix into the hot oil. Cook for a few seconds. Now add the peeled and mashed potatoes to the hot oil mix and give the masala and potatoes a good stir. Keep this potato filling aside.

2. Take a dabeli pav or a bun and cut horizontally in half. Spread some garlic chutney on the insides of each of the dabeli pav( bun) halves. Next, spread the sweet date chutney on each half bun. Spread a layer of the potato filling on to the bottom half (over the chutney). Sprinkle some coriander, some peanuts and some pomegranate, then top it off with some fine sev. Cover this half bun with the top half. Prepare the other dabeli buns the same way.

3. In a non stick pan put two blobs of butter and heat. Put 4 dabelis into the pan and cook till golden brown,  first the base and then overturturned. Remove from the pan and serve hot.

 

 

 

 

 

Batata Vada

2F5CCAF0-BED2-485B-BD15-C519687512B0

It is Diwali time. Diwali is only two days away. We deck up in our best clothes, cook delicious food and share it with family and friends. We go to each other’s homes bearing gifts of all kinds, sweet and savory, mithais, dry fruits, namkeen.

It’s always lovely to have family and friends over during the festive season. Our homes are lit up with diyas and pretty rangolis are drawn at the door. We fill up delicate bowls and plates of silver with sweetmeats, first serve them as an offering to God and then decorate the table with them for guests. Atithi Devo Bhava, or, the guest is God is a well known Indian saying. We do treat our guests like God.

This is also a time to reflect, to root out evil, and light up our selves with good, cleanse our souls of impurity, let our hearts and minds soak in the light of the incandescent diyas we light in our homes.

Lets share and care, give love and receive it in return, not take more than our due, and live a life of compassion, love and kindness.

Everyone is doing sweetmeat recipes so this Diwali, which is the first on my blog, I am sharing a savory recipe. Batata Vada. It means crisp potato balls dipped in a batter of gram flour, fried in oil with lots of garlic and green chilly-ginger paste as masala in the stuffing, eaten with a chutney of your liking.

Make it this way to delight yourself and your loved ones! Here is the recipe.

Batata Vada

Ingredients

For the Vada

2 tablespoons oil

500 gms boiled and mashed potatoes

1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds

8 to 10 cloves of garlic chopped finely or 4 sprigs of fresh garlic chopped finely till the ends.

1 tablespoon of chilly-ginger paste

A nice pinch of asafoetida

1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

A sprig of curry leaves

Some finely chopped fresh coriander

Juice of 1 lemon

Salt to taste

For the batter or covering

1 1/2 cups gram flour

A pinch of asafoetida

1 tablespoon oil

A pinch of soda bicarb

Chilly powder to taste

Salt to taste

Oil for deep frying

Method

1 In a medium sized pan put the two tablespoons of oil on a medium flame. When hot put in the mustard seeds and let pop. Put in the finely chopped garlic and cook till a nice aroma wafts through. Add the green chilly-ginger paste and cook it for a minute. Now add the asafoetida, turmeric powder and stir for a few seconds. Add the  curry leaves, fresh coriander, lemon juice and salt and mix in the mashed potatoes. Stir the mixture well to blend in all the spices and herbs.

2 Make 10 to 12 balls from the potato mixture and keep aside.

3 Mix all the ingredients for the batter with a little water to make a batter of flowing consistency. Keep the batter a little thin to get a crisp and light outer cover for the vadas.

4 Heat the oil for frying in a deep bottomed pan. Dip the potato balls one at a time in the batter and drop gently in the hot oil. Fry till golden brown. Remove and serve hot with a chutney of your liking.

 

 

 

Fried Peanuts With Onions

62AFB46D-736E-4DE8-A086-EB5556CCEEC2

This is a true party snack. Those of us who have a defense background with our families in the armed forces will know it well. When dad was in the Air Force it was often served at parties with hard drinks for the officers and soft or hard drinks for the officers’ wives, which ever they preferred. We kids loved this dish too and so it became a family favorite.

B33E80D4-C1A1-4761-BA03-7BB4503B2B8D.jpeg

We made it for the parties we gave at home, and we did have so many parties in the Air Force. We entertained a lot. Our dads worked hard flying sorties at odd times of the day and night, and the armed forces wives were true uncut diamonds, with tremendous inner strength. Many a times the commanding officer would instruct his squadron pilots to fly off in the middle of the night on a mission that the families weren’t to be told about, but that was life in the Air Force.

786FD63F-FE17-411B-A194-3D4A2BBC5AA5

But these men and their ladies worked hard and played hard.  They were fearless and loved fiercely. The men touched the sky in glory, the ladies ran the homes, looked after the kids, sometimes all alone for long periods of time.

A07A8764-AC1B-41DE-AB65-59281630BCCA

Armed Forces kids are tough cookies too. They’ve travelled with their parents to places all over the country, small towns and big, and sometimes to foreign lands as well. They change schools every two or three years with every new posting and make new friends all the time.

So while it’s a tough life, it’s also a life full of adventure, sharing and caring- the camaraderie of the armed forces people is well known, with loads of love.

This I believe is the way with the people in the armed forces all over the world, not just in India. However having seen the pain as well first hand, I truly believe, that the world should dismantle its armies at the earliest and we should learn to coexist peacefully. There is no winner in war. War only brings grief and strife.

27E7DE71-D962-4320-97EF-A80C624BB407

Fried Peanuts With Onions

Makes  2 1/2 to 3 cups

Ingredients

3 tablespoons oil

200 gms or approx. 2 cups peanuts

1 finely chopped onion

2 finely chopped green chillies

salt to taste

Juice of 1 lemon

Some finely chopped fresh coriander

Method

1 Heat the oil on medium heat. Then lower the flame and lightly fry the peanuts. Do not let them burn. Take out from the pan and drain the peanuts of the oil on a paper napkin.

2 Put peanuts into a medium size bowl and add the onions, green chillies, salt and lemon juice and give the dish a good stir. Garnish with chopped fresh coriander.

Serve immediately.

 

 

 

 

Chocolate And Cashew Nut Sandwich

 

8D9707FF-4CC2-4ED5-BADE-CC688225CCC3

Have this delightfully luxurious, toasted sandwich for breakfast. The sandwich will make you drool and the kids won’t get enough of it. You can have it with a glass of cold milk in these summer months, but even tea or coffee will do fine. And perhaps a plate of chopped mixed fruit.

Please roast the cashew nuts whole, before chopping them into pieces, because pieces will burn easily. You can roast them in the oven or on a skillet (tawa).

Chocolate and Cashew Nut Sandwich

Makes 6 half sandwiches

Ingredients.

6 bread slices

6 tablespoons chocolate spread

2-3 tablespoons roasted and finely chopped cashew nuts

Method

1 Toast the bread slices until golden in colour.

2 Layer the toasted bread slices with chocolate spread and sprinkle cashew nuts on 3 slices in an even layer.

3 Now put the remaining 3 toasted slices on the ones with the nuts, press gently, cut each sandwich into half and serve immediately.

Variation: Chocolate, cashew nut and cardamom sandwich- Add some freshly ground cardamom powder with the cashew nuts into the above sandwich.

 

Aloo Poha

826CA154-AB4B-475C-BE5B-FDB8D2F08D27

Aloo Poha or Flattened Rice With Potatoes And Spices is the breakfast dish for Indians. It is light and yet very tasty, and you’ll find carts selling this bright yellow dish sprinkled with coriander and grated fresh coconut and sometimes pomegranate seeds at every street corner.

This recipe here, is my mom, Rohini’s. And I promise you it turns out delicious.

Aloo Poha
Flattened rice with potatoes.

Serves 3 -4

Ingredients

10 fresh curry leaves

3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds

3/4 teaspoon mustard seeds

4 medium sized onions

3 medium sized potatoes

A nice pinch asafoetida

1 level teaspoon turmeric powder plus 1/2 teaspoon

1 level teaspoon salt plus 1/2 teaspoon

6 tablespoons oil

300 gms poha or flattened rice

1 teaspoon sugar or sugar to taste

1 lemon cut into quarters

Garnish

Some chopped coriander

Some grated fresh coconut (optional)

Some pomegranate seeds (optional)

Method

1 Chop the onions and potatoes into small pieces. Keep half the chopped onions aside.

2 Take a kadhai or deep bottomed pan, put the oil to heat. Put the cumin and mustard seeds and fry them for a second. Add the fresh curry leaves. When they start to sputter, add half the chopped onions. Then add the chopped potatoes. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder, add 1 teaspoon of salt, give the pan a good stir, splash a little water into the pan and then cover and let cook. Add a little water on the lid of the pan while cooking the onion and potato spice mix.

3 Meanwhile, very lightly wash the poha in a colander. Add 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon salt to the poha and sprinkle the sugar onto it.

4 Check to see if the onion potato mix is cooked. When done, remove the pan from the fire, add the poha and stir gently to mix. Put it back on the fire, let it heat for 2 minutes.

Serve hot garnished with the remaining chopped onions, chopped coriander, grated fresh coconut, and lemon quarters.