Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Dal Dhokli / Pasta in Lentil soup Indian Style

Consider this as a totally authentic pasta dish not coming from Italy but from heart of India, Gujarat. Fresh pasta simmered in tasty, spicy and aromatic lentil soup, slice of heaven served on plate. The wholesomeness of whole wheat flour and protein rich lentils make this dish extra special.
Gujaraties are well-known for their love of food and the range of dishes which are unique in itself and this dish comes as a proof of it.
Some people describe dal dhokli as a pasta-like dish as I do, but the practice of dropping everyday bread dough into a simmering pot, puts it in the dumpling category too. So its upto you to pick your choice.
This is a one pot dish and a favorite in Gujarat as a Holiday evening dish.
Happy Cooking.

Ingredients :

For Gujarati Dal:
1/2 cup toor dal/arhaar dal/split pigeon peas, pressure cooked/boiled and crushed/churned
1/2 tsp mustard seeds (rai)
1/2 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
1 tsp fenugreek seeds (methi)
10-12 curry leaves
2 small round red chillies (boriya)/dry red chillies
1/4 tsp asafoetida (hing)
1 tbs oil
2 tbs peanuts
8 pieces cocum, soaked/2 tbs lemon juice (I used lemon juice)
3 to 4 tbs jaggery (gur)/ sugar
1 tsp turmeric powder (haldi)
4 green chillies, slit
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp grated ginger
salt to taste
Handful of freshly chopped coriander leaves/cilantro for garnishing

For Dhokli:
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour (gehun ka atta)
1 tsp turmeric powder (haldi)
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp asafoetida (hing)
2 tbs oil
1 tsp carom seeds (ajwain)
salt to taste

Method :

Preparing Dhokli-
Mix the atta, ajwain, chili powder, salt, turmeric powder oil, asafoetida, oil and add enough water to it to make a stiff dough. Divide the dough into 8 equal sized portions and roll out the dough, cut it into square or diamond shaped pieces, separate the individual pieces and keep aside on a large tray to dry out.

Preparing Dal-Dhokli-
In a large and deep pan, heat the oil, and add the mustard seeds. When they start to pop, add peanuts, cumin seeds, curry leaves, fenugreek seeds, asafoetida, red chillies and finally add the cooked dal.
Add the slit green chillies, grated ginger, turmeric powder, red chili powder, jaggery and lemon juice and plenty of water (around 4 cups).
Add Salt to taste.
Bring it to a boil.

Add the dhokli pieces to the dal and cook it for a few minutes on medium heat until the dal starts to thicken and the dhoklis have softened and cooked. I usually add dhoklis and pressure cook them for 1 whistle.
Garnish it with chopped coriander leaves.

Tips :
Serve hot with a dollop of ghee, thats the traditional way of enjoying dal dholki.
Dal dhokli can be prepared using left over gujarati dal, just add 2-2 1/2 cups of water to left over dal and bring it to a boil, adjust the spices if necessary, add in dhoklis and pressure cook for 1 whistle or till dhoklis are cooked.
Prepare double recipe of dhokli and freeze half of it in Ziploc bags for future use. Time saving hmmm!!! so that next time I only need to make some dal and drop in the dhoklis.
In case you have leftover dal dhokli, reheat it with a little water to thin it out.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Mafia Style Veggie Pasta

Well its funny to call it mafia style veggie pasta but I have perfect nice explanation for that, this recipe is inspired from a Sicilian recipe for somewhere on net (Sicily being famous as mafia-country), I designed this dish to be hot and spicy in honor of the great mafia. I promise its a "taste bud kicker".
This recipe is all about chili, I've used green chillies, capsicum, chili sauce and red chili flakes. Have also given it a slight dash of fresh ground black pepper, fresh chopped ginger & garlic, these ingredients give nice aroma and appetizing taste to this dish but remember its all about the chilies. Cheers.

Ingredients :
2 cups cooked pasta of your choice.
1 medium sized Capsicum, I used green capsicum, chopped into chunks
1 medium sized Onion, chopped into chunks
1 medium-large sized Tomato, you guessed it right chopped into chunks
2 green chillies chopped
2 pods of garlic thinly sliced
1/2 inch ginger thinly sliced
2 tbs chili sauce
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp red chili flakes/ 1/4th tsp red chili powder
salt to taste
2 tbs olive oil

Method :
Heat olive oil in heavy bottom pan, add ginger, chillies and garlic. Saute for 30 seconds and add in onions. Saute for a minute and add in capsicum, after a minute add in chilli sauce, ground black pepper, salt and chilli flakes. Saute for 30 more seconds and add in tomatoes. Saute till tomatoes are cooked.
Now toss in cooked pasta and garnish it with dried parsley leaves and/or any herbs preferred.

Tips :
Toss in any kind of chili eg. capers or jalapeno or different coloured capsicum like red or yellow.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Mix Vegetable Curry/Subzi version-1

Mix veg curry is a very flexible recipe which comes handy when your fridge is stuffed with many veggies, individually not enough to make 4 servings dish in itself. As I opened my fridge today I faced the same nightmare, I had 1 cup of cauliflower florets and few more veggies like carrots, radish, onions and pototoes, so decide to prepare mix veg curry. Carrots bring out a sweet taste to this dish which adds that "umm" in it. Adding kashmiri lal mirch powder to this curry gives it a nice red tint.
One sentence explaination for this dish, just toss up any vegetables in hand in a hot pot, spice it, cook it and serve it. Today I have'nt used many veggies as I was out of stock but in some future post I shall jot down another version of Mix veg curry.
This is one of the comfort foods for me and P. So here goes the recipe.

Ingredients :
1 cup cauliflower florets
1 medium sized carrot peeled, sliced and diced
1 medium sized onion chopped into big chunks
1 medium sized potato peeled and cubed
1 tbs ginger-chilli paste
Handful of coriander leaves for garnish
2 tbs oil for tempering
1 tsp white lentil/urad dal (optional)
1 tsp cumin seeds/jeera
1 tsp mustard seeds/rai
pinch of asafoetida/hing
1 tsp turmeric powder/haldi
1/2 tsp red chilli powder (I used kashmiri lal mirch powder)
1/2 tsp garam masala/all spice/curry powder
salt to taste

Method :
Now you know the drill, heavy bottom pan on medium heat, oil, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, urad dal, asafoetida, add cubed potato and let it cook.
When potatoes are almost done add in all other veggies along with all spices and let it cook till carrots and cauliflower is cooked just enough to have a bit to it.
Garnish it with chopped coriander leaves and serve warm.

Tips :
Add veggies like capsicum, green peas, zucchini, sweet corn, radish, baby corn, green beans and/or any veggies you prefer or have in hand.
Avoid adding eggplant/baigan/brinjal and bottlegourd to this dish as these veggies have a distinct taste which does not go well with this dish.
Can add in spring onion greens for garnishing too.

Tomato-Onion Raita

Which Indian meal is complete without a raita?!!! well none. For this raita just toss in a small well chopped onion and tomato, garnish it with loads of cilantro/fresh coriander leaves and a small green chilli into a cup of yogurt. Season it with salt, pepper and 1/4th tsp of red chilli powder or 1/2 tsp of fresh ground cumin seeds/jeera (if you prefer less spicy version of raita). Mix it well and refrigerate it. Serve it cooled. Done.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Plain Palak Curry

Today I plan on making a healthy dinner for P, so I opted for plain palak curry option rather than going in for a slightly heavier version of palak paneer. The best thing about this dish is its simple, quick, easy and appetizing not to forget loaded with iron, minerals and other vital nutrients. I plan on serving this curry with chapati and to balance off the meal prepared onion-tomato raita, gujarati dal and plain chaval/rice.

Ingredients :
Fresh Palak/spinach leaves 2 bunches, plucked and washed nicely
1 medium sized onion chopped
1 medium sized tomatoe chopped
2 tbs til/sesame seeds roasted and powdered
1 tbs ginger-chilli paste
1 tsp garlic paste
salt to taste
pinch of soda-bicarb
1 tsp cumin seeds/jeera
pinch of asafoetida/hing
1/2 tsp turmeric powder/haldi
2 tbs oil for tempering

Method :

Bring 2 litres of water to boil in a deep pan. Add soda-bicarb and palak leaves to it and boil them for 3-4 mins. Turn off the heat and strain the leaves. Let them cool off for few mins. Puree them to a smooth paste adding just enough water to get the blender going, usually 1/4th cup shall be enough. Keep this puree aside.

In a heavy bottom pan heat oil for tempering, add cumin seeds and once they start spluttering add asafoetida, onion and ginger-chilli paste. Once onion has acheived translucent phase add garlic paste and just enough salt for onions and tomatoes. Cook till raw garlic smell has turned into nice aroma add tomatoes and turmeric powder. Let it cook till tomatoes are totally cooked and oil starts seperating.
Add powdered til and saute for one more minute.
Now add spinach puree and let the curry cook for 2-4 mins or till all ingredients have blended and nicely soaked in spinach curry. Now adjust salt according to your taste.
Remove this curry into a glass bowl, it helps to retain its lovely green colour, as iron in spinach tends to react with metal utensil in which it is prepared and the curry changes colour to deep maroonish or greenish maroon.

Adding salt in the end is crucial coz spinach is high in iron hence has a bit salty taste to it. Remember this recipe shall require less than half amount of salt that is required to cook any other greens of same quantity.

Curry is ready to be served. Goes gr8 with rice or paratha, chapati etc.

Tips :
Add fried paneer/cottage cheese cubes to it makes it Palak Paneer curry dish.
Adding fried/boiled pototo cubes to it makes it Aloo Palak curry dish.
You can also have this plain palak curry with noodles for a change.
Adding Soda-bicarb while blanching spinach is crucial as it helps this dish to retain its fresh green colour. Although if you plan to cook this dish just before serving it, you can skip adding it altogether.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Aloo Methi Subzi

Winters always remind me of lovely green veggies that we get back in baroda. Palak, methi, tandalja etc are the types of green veggies which are usually a part of evening dishs at our home in baroda. Though palak is readily available here in riyadh, its hard to find fresh methi or tandalja leaves, so my solution to this problem, P's mom, she sun dries fresh methi leaves for me, Thanks Mom :)
So today while surveying my lader I found myself stuck with same veggies and no options so decided to prepare sukhi aloo subzi, then as if miracle happened and dried methi leaves showed their presence by falling off the cabinet while I was trying to get some bowls out of lower cabinet shelf. And so I just soaked it and prepared this mouth watering, simple and aromatic dish.

Ingredients :

2 Large Potatoes Boiled and cubed
1 Small to medium onion chopped to strips
Handful of dried fenugreek leaves/kasuri methi alternatively can use fresh methi leaves too.
2 tbs til/sesame seeds
2 tbs ginger-chilli paste
1 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp rai/mustard seeds
1 tsp jeera/cumin seeds
1 tsp urad dal/white lentils
1 tsp methi seeds/fenugreek seeds
pinch of asafoetida
salt to taste
3 tbs oil for tempering

Method :
Soak kasuri methi for half an hour.
In a heavy bottom pan heat oil, add urad dal, rai,methi,jeera. When it starts spluttering add asafoetida, ginger-chilli paste, sesame seeds, onion, turmeric and kasuri methi. Let this mix cook on medium flame till the onions are tender and cooked to crunch.Add salt along with boiled-cubed potatoes. Turn off the heat after 4-5 mins.
Serve hot with chappati or paratha of you choice.

Tips :
Goes good with sindhi koki.
Left over can be used to prepare sandwiches or alternatively mash up the left over sabzi and prepare aloo paratha for snacks.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Chikki- Caramelized peanut bars

Chikki, Uttarayan(kite flying festival) favorite, is a ready to eat Indian sweet. Chikki has given International fame to places like Matheran, Karjat and Lonavala (places near Mumbai), which are world renouned exporters of different kinds of chikki's.
Traditionally, Gujju's prepare chikki during the month of January especially during uttarayan time. Talking about uttarayan, HAPPY UTTARAYAN TO ALL, what is uttarayan without patang, manja, phirki, chikki, sherdi and boar... ahh getting nostalgic. Coming back to chikki, it is prepared using either sugar or jaggery (traditional unrefined non-centrifugal sugar used in india, sri lanka, pakistan and even south america) either/along with sesame seeds, peanuts, cashew, almonds, pistachios, coconut, puffed rice, etc.

Brazil is famous for "Pé-de-moleque" a traditional sweet from the Brazilian cuisine made of peanuts and jaggery or molasses similar to indian chikki, rather to say one and the same.

Chikki prepared with jaggery is deemed to have more beneficial properties than one prepared with sugar, as jaggery retains more mineral salts and is absorbed in blood at slower rate than sugar. Indian Ayurvedic medicine considers jaggery to be beneficial in treating throat and lung infections too.
Whatever the reasons, I and P both like our chikki's made from jaggery.

Ingredients :

2 cups Peanuts (roasted, chaffed and coarsely pounded)
1 1/2 cups Jaggery
1 tbs Ghee/clarified butter
Few Drops of edible oil for oiling the surface to work on for spreading the chikki(prefer groundnut oil or corn oil, oils like olive oil have a very specific taste and aroma to it so avoid it)

Method :
In a heavy bottom pan add ghee and jaggery, let the jaggery melt and bubble up for a minute or two, stir in every few seconds. Now ladle out a drop of jaggery on any plate or counter top and see if it sticks to it or not, if it sticks let the jaggery bubble for a bit longer, but if the jaggery forms a nice non sticky ball add pounded peanuts. Turn off the heat and mix well.
Now place this mixture on nicely oiled surface and with the help of rolling pin roll out chikki to desired thickness. But before you start rolling take care this mix will be very hot so let it just cool for 1 minute or so. Take care not to burn yourself.
Break up the pieces of the rolled out chikki once it has cooled off or you can also cut the pieces while its rolled and still hot. I prefer to break it into pieces gives me the feel of "MA ke haath ka bana", choice is yours.

Add 2 tbs of sugar to make chikki more crunchier.
While making Sesame/til chikki the proportion will be 2 cups til and 1 cup jaggery.
Once you place the chikki mixture on oiled surface, oil you hands too and tap on top of chikki to make it a nice round flat ball this will make the process of rolling out easy.
Store it in an air tight container. Shelf life upto 15-17 days, if it lasts that long. :)

Monday, January 11, 2010


Quesadilla, a mexican snack food made of cheese, pronunced in spanish as "kesa diya" or "kesa dia", literally means "cheese tortilla" or "cheese cake".
In this recipe cheese and other ingredients are sandwiched between two flour tortillas and grilled on an oiled griddle, flipped so both sides are cooked and the cheese is melted, finally served after being cut into wedges. This type is often called "sincronizada" in Mexico.

Ingredients :

For flour tortillas:

1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tbsps butter
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking pwd
approx 1/2 cup mix of warm milk & water, 1:1 ratio

For the vegetable filling:

onions (chopped finely), cabbage (chopped finely), carrots (shredded), capsicum (chopped finely), spring onions (chopped finely, including onion greens), tomatoes (chopped finely) or any vegetables of your choice
salt to taste
red chili flakes
3/4-1 cup grated cheese
1/4 tsp black pepper grounded
1 tbs chili sauce
1/4 tsp chili powder
4 cloves garlic
1 tbs olive oil

Method :

For Tortillas :
Combine all the ingredients except milk in a wide utensil and mix well so that baking powder gets nicely incorporated within the mix. Now slowly add the warm milk & water mix to knead to a soft dough. Keep aside for 30 minutes.
Divide the dough into 8 equal balls and roll them into thin chapatis of approx 7″-9″ diameter.
Pre-heat a griddle and place each tortilla on the hot griddle for only 3-5 seconds on each side and remove. This step is done to ensure that tortilla don't stick to each other when stacked. Keep aside all the lightly toasted tortillas.

For Veggies :
In heavy bottom pan heat olive oil and saute crushed garlic cloves, once the raw garlic smell is gone add all the veggies.
Remember to keep the flame on medium high. Stir in all the other ingredients like salt, pepper, chili flakes etc and turn off the heat.
Remember veggies should not be raw, neither should they be thoroughly cooked, we need them to hold that crunchiness.
This whole process should not take more than 3-4 minutes.
Prepare this mix before hand so that by the time you prepare quesadilla, veggies would cool down to room temp.

For Quesadilla:
Place a tortilla on a clean surface and spread the veggie mix on it, shred some mozzarella, cheddar or any kind of cheese, run a damp finger around the rim of this tortilla and place another tortilla on it. Seal the rim by pressing these two tortilla together. You can also take a fork and press along the rim.
Pre-heat a griddle and on medium heat roast both sides of the quesadilla flipping over to toast both sides. Ensure that you cook it over medium heat, you want the cheese to melt inside.
Remove quesadilla onto a serving plate, slice into triangles and serve hot with garlicy salsa or tomato ketchup.

Adding sweet corn or baby corn enhances the taste.
You can also add in cottage cheese into veggies and top it with mozzarella or cheddar cheese for more creamy quesadilla.
Alternatively we can spread salsa and cheese or salsa and sour cream for that perfect quesadilla.

Athela Marcha (Pickled green chillies)

Athela Marcha sounds and tastes amazing with any dish which is bland, such as plain khichdi or varan dal and rice. Athela marcha which literally means pickled chillies add instant kick of spiciness to any food. The Recipe which I have used is an authentic Gujarati Recipe and is followed by my mom and my M-I-L equally. I bet pickles never were more simplier than this!!!

Ingredients :

250 gms Vadhwani lila marcha/jalapeno peppers/jada marcha
75 gms rai na kuriya / split mustard seeds
1 to 1 1/2 tbs of salt (adjust as per your taste)
2 tbs lemon juice
1/2 tsp Hing / asafoetida
1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder

Method :

Wash and dry chillies, slit them length wise remove the seeds from prepping them to be pickled.
Now toss all other ingredients into a wide utensil and mix them well, here "well" means really well, for about 5 to 7 minutes. mix them using your hand, esp your palms as this process helps in utilizing body heat in melting salt quicker and more uniformly.
Add in the slit chillies and mix them well with the prepared achari mixture.
Store this in glass jars at room temperature for 2 days and there after in refrigerator for upto 20 days.

Tips :

Storing pickle at room temperature for 2 days is crucial coz this gives time for chilles to nicely marinate and absord all the flavors.
Make sure to shake up the pickle jar during these 2 days.
You can add 1 tbs of split fenugreek seeds to this pickle too, if you prefer a bit bitter kick in your pickles.
This pickle can be served with any kind of parathas, snacks and goes good with everyday food as a side dish. It can also be chopped into bits and added to veggie raita and used as one of the topping on pizza etc. Just let your imagination go wild!!