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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

A - Z Indian Street Foods ~ O for Onion Pakoda

This April has been weird in terms of weather. Besides showers, it has been bringing on and off snowfalls as well including today's one. It is the 6th one of the month for us though the accumulation on the ground is melting by the next day's sun and we didn't have to shovel in the below freezing weather. Days of the month had been more cloudier and I am not sure whether the ground will thaw enough to bring flowers in May.

Blame it on weather or the street food themed marathon of mine, I have been deep frying more and more this month and making my husband happy. 😋 Probably I finished my year quota of deep frying in one month. 😕 I prepared these crunchy, delicious chickpea flour based onion fritters yesterday and ate all by myself as there was no one home to share them with. They go by the name pakoda, pakora, pakodi depending upon the region you live in India. These fritters are not region specific and enjoyed through out the nation with unequivocal love whether savoring with family on a cold evening with a cup of coffee or tea or hanging out with friends and eating at a street joint. 

They are simple to prepare at home. The pakoda batter must be prepared really thick / tight and fried on low flame. If the batter gets thinner, one would end up with another popular fritter called bhajiya / bajji instead. Mixed vegetables / greens can be mixed as well while preparing batter. If onions are not preferred, they can be replaced with cashews or peanuts as well and these can be stored longer.

Ingredients required:
3/4 cup besan / chickpea flour
2 - 3 tbsp. rice flour
2 onions, thinly sliced lengthwise (about 1 cup)
Chili powder to taste (Chili powder + finely chopped green chilies can be used. I skip chilies when serving kids)
Salt to taste
Few curry leaves, finely minced
2 tbsp. hot oil
Oil for deep frying 

Method:
* Mix all the ingredients except the oil to fry in a bowl. Add a tbsp. or two of water and prepare a firm dough.
* Heat the oil in a kadai or a deep-bottomed pan. When the oil is hot, drop small portions of the batter with your fingers in the hot oil. Turn the heat setting to lowest and fry them until they turn golden brown. Fry as many pakoda as the pan can fit without overcrowding. Remove them with a slotted spoon onto absorbent towels. Repeat the process with the remaining batter.
(Do not fry them until they turn to a dark shade. If the onions turn black, they would turn bitter.)

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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

A - Z Indian Street Foods ~ N for Nippat Masala / Nippattu Masala Chaat

Today is turn of 'N' in my alphabetical journey of Indian street food and I leaned towards another Bangalore special for it. It is nippat(u) masala and as the name suggests, nippattu is the star of this chaat dish. It is super crunchy, loaded with flavors. Nippattu aka chekkalu aka thattai is a traditional snack from the southern parts of India. It is basically a deep fried, crispy rice flour discs. For this particular  chaat, mini sized nippattu are needed. In case, if using the regular big sized nippattu, break each one into 3 or 4 pieces and proceed the same way. They should at least about flat poori size to hold the toppings. Feel free to use store bought nippattu as it makes the preparation of this chaat quite simple. Thanks to my husband, I always have a few bags of store bought nippattu at home and I used those here.

This recipe is quite flexible. Consider the quantities of ingredients mentioned below as guidelines and they can be increased or decreased to suit you. Let your palate be the right judge. Unlike the golgappa puris / flat pooris, this nippat base doesn't get soggy quickly. (Unless you leave it aside for an hour or so.) However keep the vegetables prepped so that you can assemble just before serving. (And if anyone is wondering why individual pieces of my nippat masala are not showing in pictures is because I had sprinkled toppings finally over the entire plate.)
Ingredients: (Yield 2 generous servings)
16 small or 4 big nippatu / thattai 
About 1/2 cup green chutney
About 1/2 cup sweet tamarind chutney
1 onion, finely minced

1 tomato, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled & grated

3 tbsp. cilantro, finely chopped
1/4 cup fine sev *
1/2 cup congress kadalekayi **

1 cup puffed rice
Red chili powder to taste
Chaat masala to taste
Salt to taste 

* Sev - Crisply deep fried chickpea flour strands
** Any spicy peanuts can be substituted. I used microwaved spicy peanuts.

Method:
* Combine chopped onions, tomatoes, cilantro and grated carrot in a mixing bowl and keep aside.
* Arrange small nippat equally on two serving plates. (If using the regular big sized nippattu, break each one into 3 or 4 pieces and proceed the same way.)
* Apply a tsp. of green chutney and a tsp. of sweet chutney on each nippat. (Increase or decrease the quantities of chutneys depending upon how much spice level is preferred.)
* Spoon about a tbsp. or more quantity of vegetable mixture over chutney smeared nippat pieces.
* Sprinkle a pinch of salt, red chili powder and chaat masala uniformly over the nippat. 
* Next top it with generous amount of sev and congress kadalekayi. Finally top it with a big handful of puffed rice. 
* Lift each nippat along with all the toppings and pop it into your mouth to savor the flavors.

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Monday, April 16, 2018

A - Z Indian Street Foods ~ M for Masala Puri / Masala Puri Chaat


Today's chaat comes from south Indian state of Karnataka, that has gradually become popular in other states as well. Masala puri or masala puri chaat is a yummy street food where the crushed pooris are served with a spicy, hot peas curry and the usual chaat toppings like onions, tomatoes, cilantro, sev, sweet chutney and a sprinkling of chat masala. It is quite a simple recipe though it doesn’t appear so given the long list of ingredients. If you have store bought pooris, meetha chutney and sev, all you need is to cook peas curry. The peas curry also can be prepared in advance and can be reheated before assembling and serving thus making it a convenient chaat to prepare for family / guests without hassle. Most of the recipes over the web prepare the spice masala from the scratch and I realized that those are the ingredients found in pav bhaji masala. This recipe is therefore adapted from here for it’s simplicity. My husband appreciated this chaat the most among the lot I posted in the series so far. It was so good that I don't think I need another recipe for masala puri chaat. 

List of ingredients for peas masala:
Part 1:
1 cup dried peas, soaked overnight or 7- 8 hours
1 potato, peeled and roughly chopped
1/8 tsp. turmeric powder
Salt to taste
Part 2:
1 tbsp. oil
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
1 green chili, slit lengthwise
1 clove garlic, chopped (I didn't use any.)
1 inch ginger, grated or chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
Kashmiri or any similar red chili powder that is less spicier
1/8 tsp. turmeric powder
2 tsp. pav bhaji masala powder
1 tsp. or to taste aamchur powder / dry mango powder
1/4 tsp. garam masala powder
1/2 tsp. sweetener 
Salt to taste

Ingredients for each serving of chaat:
About 10 flat puri / papdi
Sweet tamarind chutney as needed
2 tbsp. finely minced red onion
2 tbsp. finely minced tomato 
1 tsp. finely minced coriander leaves / cilantro
1 pinch of red chili powder 
2 pinches of chaat masala
Black salt (optional)
Sev (Deep fried, crispy chickpea flour vermicelli)

Preparing peas masala:
* Drain the soaked peas and rinse once with fresh water. Pressure cook peas, potato, salt and turmeric along with 2 cups of water for 3 whistles.
* Mash the vegetables and keep aside. (I pulsed everything in a food processor a couple of times so that I had a coarsely crushed peas - vegetable mixture.)
* Meanwhile, prepare the masala base for the peas curry. Heat oil in a pan or kadai. Add onions, garlic, ginger and chili and saute until onion turns translucent. Next add tomatoes and cook until mushy.
* Cool the onion and tomato mixture and blend to a smooth paste and pour into the same pan. Also add peas and mashed potato.
* Add the remaining spice powders in Part B and salt. (Remember that salt was added while cooking peas as well.) Add water and mix well. The consistency of the curry should be pourable like shown in the images. If the consistency appears thicker, add some more water and cook. Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed. Slowly simmer the mixture for 10 - 12 minutes. 

Serving masala puri:
* Place as many puris as you wish to serve in a serving bowl. 
* Crush them roughly and pour 2 - 3 ladles of green pea curry or as much preferred. 
* Drizzle meetha chutney / dates - tamarind chutney over the curry generously or as preferred.
* Top it with minced onion and tomato as much as preferred. 
* Sprinkle a few pinches of chaat masala, red chili powder and also black salt if needed.
* Top it with a generous dose of sev and minced cilantro. Serve immediately. 
* If using puris, they soak up the liquid and turn soggy quick whereas papdis don't get soggy quicker and may add an extra crunch. 
Notes:
1. White dried peas or green ones can be used.
2. In lieu of puris, flat puris / papdi can be used. 
3. A chopped carrot can be added along with potato and peas while pressure cooking. Or grated carrot can be used as topping too if preferred.
4. The quantities of spice powders mentioned can be used as guide lines and adjust the quantities according to your taste preference or level of tolerance for spices.

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Saturday, April 14, 2018

A - Z Indian Street Foods ~ L for Locho / Surti Locho

The first time I heard about 'locho' was on a Gujarati TV cook show that I used to watch religiously until a few years ago. I had bookmarked that recipe and had tried it a couple of times. Locho is a steamed dish that is served as a snack in Gujarat and as the title indicates, it originated in Surat city. It is prepared with ground lentil batter that is steamed and served with a drizzling of oil, sev, chutney and green chillies on the side. This dish is quite filling, healthy and guilt free. It makes a great brunch / meal time dish.

Locho batter does not any fermenting. However the dals need soaking and so at least 2 hours advance planning is required. Locho has irregular shape unlike dhokla / khaman and do not come in regular cut pieces. I added water generously while grinding the batter when I made locho for the first time and even 2 hours of steaming would not let the locho to set. I learnt my lesson that day and prefer making a thick batter now. And so, I end up with a firm shaped locho that could be cut into pieces. I paired it with Vaishali's peanut chutney, where peanuts are added to the regular green chutney which makes a flavorful variation.

Ingredients for locho:
1 cup split chickpeas / Bengal gram / chana dal
A handful split & skinned black gram / urad dal
A handful beaten rice flakes / poha
2 spicy green chillies
1-inch piece ginger
Salt to taste
1/8 tsp. turmeric powder
2 – 3 pinches of asafetida
¼ cup ground nut oil
1 Eno sachet
Crushed black pepper as required
Sev* to garnish

* Sev - Deep fried, crisp chickpea flour vermicelli available in any Indian grocery store.

Preparation of locho:
* Wash the dals and poha together for about 3 hours. Drain and grind them along with ginger, chillies and salt into a fine batter with as little water as possible. (I used my food processor to grind and added about a tbsp. or two of water.) Transfer the ground batter to a bowl. Add turmeric, asafoetida and 2 tbsp. of oil to the batter and mix well.
* Heat a steamer or dhokla maker with water.
* Grease the dhokla plates or the container used to steam the locho. When ready to steam, add Eno to the batter and stir well. Fill the greased dhokla plates / container with batter. (If using plates, fill upto ¾ th.) Sprinkle crushed black pepper uniformly. (Some sprinkle red chilli powder too.)
* Place the dhokla plates / container in the steamer. Steam them on low flame until a knife inserted at the center comes out clean. It may take about 20 minutes. Turn off the stove and let it rest for about 10 minutes.
 
Ingredients for peanut chutney:
¼ cup toasted and skinned peanuts
1 cup firmly packed cilantro leaves
1 or 2 spicy green chillies
Salt to taste
Lemon juice to taste

Preparation of chutney:
Add everything in the list above to a mixer / food processor. Add as much water as needed to facilitate grinding and grind finely. Refer to the chutney in the pictures above to determine how much quantity of water should be added for chutney making. 
How to serve locho:
* Remove the steamed locho container from the steamer. Drizzle with some oil over the top.
* Next, one can try either running a sharp spoon / knife around the edges, unmould the locho and cut into shapes.
Or with a spatula remove about 3-inch sized pieces. (The shape doesn't matter actually in case of locho and so no pressure in getting it right.)
* Arrange some locho pieces on a serving plate. Top with sev generously.
Serve with peanut chutney and green chillies on the side.

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