Batata Vada

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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.

 

 

 

Candied Walnuts In A Jiffy

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We’re getting into the Diwali spirit here in India and then Christmas will be at our doorsteps in December. Time to celebrate! Today I’m posting an easy and delicious recipe. Candied walnuts. These are great as a Diwali or Christmas gift. They’re even good to munch on during the festivities or to add to a salad or eat topped onto ice cream. The recipe is inspired by the one in the blog Natasha’s Kitchen

When I was in the fifth standard in St. Mary’s School in Poona, one of my friends used to get walnuts mixed with sugar in her tiffin and share them with me. I loved eating this terrific combination. My friend’s mother packed this yummilicious tiffin and she knew I shared it with her, so she would send enough for the two of us. I was in boarding school and this was magic.

That’s where I got the idea for candied walnuts from. So I was thrilled to find this recipe in Natasha’s Kitchen. Easy, fast, it only takes about five minutes to make, and yummy. No egg whites to coat with, no baking, nothing, it’s so simple. And …..it works out much cheaper than store bought candied walnuts. And… of course, Homemade!

Just remember to keep your kitchen tools handy while making these because the walnuts could burn if you’re not watching.

You can store the caramelized walnuts for about a week in an airtight container, but they’ll disappear very quickly.

You can use this recipe to candy pecans too.

Here’s the recipe

Candied Walnuts

Makes approximately 1 cup

Ingredients

1 cup walnuts quarters

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon white unsalted butter

Method

1 Heat a skillet to medium heat. Put the walnut quarters, sugar and butter into the skillet and stir continuously until the butter and sugar melt and the walnut pieces are well coated. This will take approximately 5 minutes. Make sure you stir the walnuts otherwise they will burn.

2 Once coated with the sugar, quickly remove them and put them on parchment or baking paper, and immediately separate the walnuts. Do this fast or you will be left with a lump of sugar coated walnuts.

3 Put them in a bowl to cool and eat them right away or store in an airtight container.

 

 

 

Gur Papdi

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Gur Papdi, also called Gol Papdi or Sukhdi is a Gujarati sweet, made with jaggery, ghee and whole wheat flour and flavoured with cardamom powder and garnished with slivered nuts. It is delicious and healthy, and is eaten as an everyday sweet in homes and sometimes becomes a special sweetmeat for festivities too.

You can have loads of ferrero rochers and lindts and godivas but the good old desi Gur Papdi is delightful to bite into with its rich, aromatic whole wheat flour and cardamom flavors. Each time I bite into it, it brings back memories of midnight feasts at my aunty and uncle’s place where we cousins would sneak to the fridge at night, and gobble up all the goodies that were there, and often my aunt would store Gur Papdi to serve us as a dessert with lunch, but it would all be gone when she opened the fridge the next day.

I’m lucky with those midnight feasts I still have all my teeth intact, but I’ve certainly had to ‘brush up’ my teeth hygiene in these last few years.

Here’s the recipe

Gur Papdi

Makes about 15 pieces

Ingredients

100 gms whole wheat flour

6 tablespoons ghee

125 gms jaggery

1 teaspoon cardamom powder

Some slivered almonds for garnishing

Method

1 Heat the ghee in a deep bottomed pan. Cook the whole wheat flour in the hot ghee over a low to medium flame till brown and aromatic. Remove from the stove.

2 Add the jaggery and cardamom powder to the hot ghee, whole wheat flour mixture and stir with a spoon and mix till the jaggery has melted completely.

3 Now overturn the mixture onto a greased 6 inch thali and while still warm cut into diamond shapes. Garnish with the slivered almonds.

4 When cool store in an airtight container.

 

 

 

Banana Bread

 

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Now, I’ve eaten many banana breads and cakes but this one steals the show. Really, I mean it. It’s for no small reason that Nigella Lawson is called the queen of home cooking. Nigella ‘awesome’ Lawson for that’s what I call her, is just great when she shows us ‘How To Be A Domestic Goddess’. That’s the name of her baking book from where I made this recipe. It totally bowled me over. Did you know she’s not a professional chef? She’s a self taught home cook. Read this dazzling article and those of you who dislike the name of her book because it sounds weird, you may think, will change your mind.

And here’s her recipe for Banana Bread that’s so aromatic when you bake it that it makes your mouth water, not to mention that eating it will tingle your taste buds. It’s a nice large bread, and you can cut out big chunks for yourself, the kids, family and friends.

Sometimes, because ovens differ in their heating, and every oven has a nature of its own, go by instinct. When the cake begins to give out a delicious aroma, check if it’s ready, even if it’s before time.

Here’s the recipe

Banana Bread

Ingredients

100 gms sultanas

75 ml bourbon or dark rum

175 gms plain flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon soda bicarbonate

1/2 teaspoon salt

125 gms unsalted butter, melted

150 gms sugar

2 large eggs

4 very ripe bananas( about 300 gms without skin) mashed

60 gms chopped walnuts

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

23 x 13 x 7 cm loaf tin

Method

1 Put the sultanas with the dark rum to boil. When the liquid starts boiling, remove from flame and stand them for an hour or until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Then drain.

2 Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C or gas mark 3.

3 Put the plain flour, baking powder, soda bicarbonate and salt into a medium size bowl and mix with a spoon to combine well.

4 In a large bowl, mix the sugar and melted butter and beat until blended.

5 Put in the eggs one at a time, then add the mashed bananas.

6 Stir in the sultanas, walnuts and vanilla extract.

7 Add the flour mixture, one third at a time, stirring well after each addition.

8 Scrape into a greased loaf tin and bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hour. When a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean it’s ready.

9 Leave in the tin or on a rack to cool before cutting into nice big chunks and enjoying.

 

 

 

Dahi Bataka

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Dahi Bataka or potatoes in a curd or yoghurt gravy. This dish is one of my family heirlooms. It comes down from my great grandmother to my granny to my mom and now I’ve noted it down so that family and friends can read it and make this delicious recipe. Perhaps other Gujarati homes also make it, but this is our way and I hope you like it.

Whenever I make this dish, the aroma wafts into the outside of my home, and people passing by wonder what delicious stuff is cooking. The dish is simple to make, like most of the food I put up on my blog, but let me assure you, it tastes divine with hot chapatis or parathas.

I don’t make my dishes too spicy but you can add more chilly powder or green chillies if you want to make your dish spicier.

Here is the recipe.

Dahi Bataka

Serves 3-4

Ingredients

500 gms potatoes boiled in salt water and chopped in to medium size pieces

3 tablespoons oil

1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste

3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds

3/4 teaspoon mustard seeds

1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

1/2 teaspoon coriander powder

1/2 teaspoon chilly powder

A nice pinch of asafoetida

1 cup or 200-250 gms beaten curd or yoghurt mixed with half cup water

Salt to taste

A few sprigs coriander finely chopped to garnish

Method

1 Heat the oil in a deep bottomed pan. Add the cumin seeds and mustard seeds and let them begin to pop. Now add the ginger garlic paste and a little water and fry for 2 minutes till a nice aroma emanates.

2 Add the chopped potatoes and fry for 2 minutes. Add the turmeric powder, coriander powder, chilly powder and asafoetida. Toss and mix and cook for 3-4 minutes. Mash a few of the potatoes while cooking.

3 Now add the beaten curd and salt to taste and cook on a low flame but don’t allow the dish to boil.

Serve hot garnished with fresh coriander.

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Coconut Ladoos

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Ganesh Chaturthi is here once again. How do we make the sweet, elephant headed God happy? Make him ladoos, because according to mythology Lord Ganesha loved ladoos. So this post is an offering to Lord Ganesha.

Dear friends, God never wanted us humans to pollute rivers and destroy nature. Please make environment friendly Ganeshas and immerse them in a clean tub of water for Ganapati immersion or better still leave the idols under a tree or in a temple. Do not alienate nature.

There’s a wonderful story about Ganesha and his sibling brother Kartikeya.

One day sage Narada came to Lord Shiva with a mango, which he had obtained from Lord Brahma. Now this was no ordinary mango. It was the mango of wisdom and knowledge. Lord Shiva wanted to give it to his sons, but which one should he give it to? He was in a quandary. So he decided to hold a competition where each sibling had to run a race around the world and the one who came first would win the mango.

Ganesha was plump and roly poly, and although he wanted to win badly, his vehicle was a mouse. Kartikeya on the other hand had a fast flying peacock for his vehicle and was very active too. Kartikeya set out immediately to fly around the world and show his prowess. Ganesha thought for a bit and then, gathering his parents together he circled them thrice. “Now give me my mango” he said. Shiva asked him why he deserved the mango, to which Ganesha replied that Shiva and Parvati his parents, meant the world to him. They were his world, so he had circled them thrice. Shiva gave him the mango.

Kartikeya, it is said in one version, was happy and accepted his father’s decision, but another version says, he got terribly angry and came down to earth to meditate in the Palani hills in the southern part of India. Ganesha, with great difficulty pacified him and brought him back to Mount Kailash.

Here is this really fantastic, tasty and easy recipe.

Coconut Ladoos

Makes 20 ladoos

Ingredients

3 1/2 cups + 1/2 cup desiccated coconut

1 tin(400 gms) condensed milk

1 teaspoon cardamom powder

A little less than 1/2 cup raisins

A little less than 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Method

1 Mix all the ingredients together in a thick bottomed pan except the 1/2 cup of desiccated coconut, and cook on a slow flame till the mixture begins to leave the sides of the pan. Approximately 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and keep aside to cool a little.

2 Spread a little oil or ghee on your hands, make round balls with the mixture. Dip each ball into the remaining 1/2 cup of desiccated coconut.

You can store these in an airtight container in the refrigerator, if they last that is. The kids at home will love them, and so will the adults.

 

 

Eating My Cake And Having It Too

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

You all must wonder why I write so much, I write posts for my blog, I write posts on Facebook, I write all the time. I virtually drown myself…..and you in my writing. To tell you the truth I love writing, in fact before I started blogging about food, I used to be a content writer, writing articles for the net and writing content for websites.

Until of course I realized that I wanted to start my own food blog. So now I can eat my cake and have it too, pursuing my twin passions-writing and cooking.

I’m as passionate about adding delicious spices to my cooking as I am about punctuating my writing, after all, spices make cooking special and punctuation is the jewel in a written piece. In fact I’m currently rereading a funny, rib tickling book on punctuation called Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss. Oh, by the way, that is  my third pleasure-reading. I absolutely must read a large chunk of pages from my current favorite of the day. I’m not crazy about books with pictures, I want good writing, although cookbooks with lovely photographs are welcome. But I do so love to read cookbooks that are interestingly written too. I love reading food memoirs.

If you visit Ahmedabad you’re welcome to come over to my place and share some of the food I cook. You must also check out my library. It’s got books on every subject and I also have a wonderful collection of cookbooks.

Those of you who read my Facebook page will know that my friend from school Manisha, who I haven’t met for 35 years now and who I got in touch with via Facebook, thank you Facebook, recently gifted me some lovely cookbooks to add to my collection.

So now, I’m ravenous and am going to raid the fridge. And munch on something tasty with what else but a book to read, while I watch the view from my window.

Puran Poli

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It’s celebration time with Onam today and Raksha Bandhan tomorrow. So it calls for a treat.

Puran Poli is a delicious Maharashtrian and Gujarati roti or bread made during festivals and celebrations.  It is a roti with a sweet filling inside, and is eaten with ambti or amti daal. Of course it can also be eaten with a regular meal. It also tastes great with Gujarati kadhi.

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In Maharashtra the filling for the roti is made with channa daal and in Gujarat the filling is made with tuvar or arhar daal. As there are many regions in India so there are many ways of making Puran Poli. Different people make it differently, some add coconut to the filling, some add a mix of sugar and jaggery to sweeten the filling, some add fennel seed powder to the filling. That’s the beauty of India. Here, her people make magic out of basic ingredients and vegetarian food turns into a feast for the senses.

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I’m posting a recipe of Puran Poli, the way we make it at home. This recipe also takes inspiration from Tarla Dalal’s recipe of Puran Poli. So, sit back and enjoy reading it. It isn’t difficult at all, you can make it for your loved ones. It’s so tasty that they will thank you and ask for more!

And, some people even serve this sweet, flavourful roti as a dessert.

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Puran Poli

Makes 10-12 rotis or breads

Ingredients

1 cup tuvar/ arhar daal washed and drained

2 tablespoons ghee

1 cup jaggery

1 teaspoon cardamom powder

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg powder

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour or atta for the dough

Some ghee to bind the dough, about a tablespoon

Some water to bind the dough

Some whole wheat flour for rolling the dough

Method

1 Pressure cook the tuvar daal with 1 1/2 cups of water for 3 whistles.

2 Put the 2 tablespoons of ghee into a pan and when hot, put in the tuvar daal and stir. Then add the jaggery and stir, till the jaggery melts and is well mixed with the daal. Stir continuously for about 10 minutes or till the mixture thickens. Add the cardamom and nutmeg powder and mix well. Let the mixture cool.

3 Make 10 to 12 round balls of equal size with the cooled mixture.

4 Now bind the dough with water, adding a little ghee, approximately 1 tablespoon and make a dough.

5 Take a piece of dough, roll it into a 4 inch circle with the help of some whole wheat flour, put a ball of the daal and jaggery mixture into the center, then pinch the edges of the dough together covering the round ball entirely, and with the rolling pin, roll the filled dough into a round 4 to 5 inch circle, not too thin or the filling with spill out of the dough.

6 Cook the bread or roti on a tawa or griddle till it has golden brown spots and smells cooked. Remove from fire and smear with ghee.

7 Cook the remaining rotis similarly.

Serve hot or warm.

 

 

 

Cabbage And Capsicum Salad

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This salad not only looks good, it tastes awesome too. The crunchy, delicious mix of raw cabbage and capsicum with sesame seeds and honey is too good to miss. And….it’s healthy too, which goes without saying really, veggies are so good for you, and salads definitely so.

Dont forget to wash the cabbage and capsicum before chopping them into thin strips, because the cabbage will get soggy if you wash it after chopping it.

You may also add some finely chopped green chillies if you enjoy your salad just that extra bit spicy.

Eat it as a complete salad meal when it will be enough for only you or eat it as a part of your meal with other food, and then it will serve 3 people.

Here is the recipe.

Cabbage And Capsicum Salad

Serves 3

Ingredients

300 gms finely chopped cabbage into thin strips

150 gms finely chopped capsicum into thin strips

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

2 tablespoons honey

Juice of 1 1/2 to 2 lemons

Salt to taste

Method

1 Mix the cabbage and capsicum and chill for 45 minutes to an hour.

2 Remove the cabbage and capsicum from the refrigerator and add all the remaining ingredients and toss lightly.

3 Remove into a serving bowl and serve immediately.

You can play with this salad. Add some chopped toasted walnuts or almonds to the salad if you want some more crunch and added flavor.

Update: I’ve updated the quanties of cabbage and capsicum in the recipe as of 15th August 2018.

 

Fried Peanuts With Onions

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.