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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Guest Post for Sailu's Kitchen: Khandeshi Cuisine

Sailaja of Sailu's Kitchen is one of the most popular blogger out there. I am sure you all are fans of her ever popular series Indian Food Trail just like me! She has showcased the everyday Indian cuisine from various regions of India.

She reached out to me to write about Khandeshi Cuisine for this series. I was very excited and nervous at the same time as its not easy to fill in the shoes of bloggers like Nupur, Meera, Sandeepa and others.   But with encouragement from some friends and Sailu herself,  decided to write. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Please hop over to Sailu's Kitchen to read about Khandeshi Cuisine.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Kanda Bhajji - Onion Fritters


(Link to Marathi Recipe)

College life reminds me of the great pleasures for Tapari Chai and Kanda Bhaji. Most of the college campuses in those days had similar look and feel to it. Main gate and lots of small shops called Taparis along he college fence. You could smell the deep fried goodies like Kanda bhaji, Batata Vada around 4pm. That was the time when students and professors would go to get the daily dose of afternoon tea. These shops had limited menu. Morning they would serve tea, coffee, pohe, upama, cream roles, Parle G biscuits. Some would make fresh omelets per order.  Sabudana khichdi served on some religious fasting days and that's about it! Tea was served through out the day, mostly by adding more tea-sugar-milk-water to the same old concoction! If someone is too keen to get the fresh batch, they had to special order and wait until its made. Stores usually run by the owner and a helper and every patron got they asked for without writing the order and in the most chaotic times! At the time tea was Rs.2 per glass, Pohe-Upama  Rs.3 per plate, Kanda bhaji 5 bhajis in a plate for Rs.2, perfect for on-budget students.

Enjoy

I am sure things have changed drastically now. I recently went to my old university and saw our usual Tapri is no longer there. Neighborhood looked very different! I don't know where do the college kids go to get their daily dose of afternoon tea.

I learned this Kanda Bhajji recipe from one of these shop vendors, he was kind enough to share secrets of not using baking soda. Even though I love these so much, I rarely make them. Recently my sister-in-law made it for my father on his birthday and I took chance to take some nice photographs. Her recipe is exactly same as mine.

2 cups Thinly Sliced Red Onion 
2-3 tsp Red Chili Powder (or per taste)
2 tsp Salt (or per taste)
1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder
1 tsp Ajwain (Carrom Seeds/Bishop's Weed)
2-3 cups Chick Pea Flour/Besan (as needed)
1/2 cup Chopped Cilantro
Water (if and only if needed)

Oil for Deep Frying

Kanda Bhajji Batter

Preparation -
Layer sliced onion in a plate, sprinkle little bit of salt and let it stand for 15-20 minutes. If the mixture is too juicy, gently drain extra juices. If not, add crushed ajwain, red chili powder and mix well.
Start adding chick pea flour little bit at a time. Add more salt if needed.
Mix the batter well. Consistency of the batter should not be watery but you should be able to make fritters with spoon.
Heat oil in frying pan, drop little bit of batter, it should sizzle and float on top of the oil.
Now add 2-3 tbsp hot oil with the ready batter, mix thoroughly.
Carefully drop 4-5 fritters in hot oil and deep fry until golden brown.
Enjoy while piping hot to warm with hot cup of tea on a rainy afternoon.

Ready

These beauties are on their way to MLLA-53 currently hosted by Simona and is brainchild of Susan

Tips - 
  1. These are also known as Khekda (crab) bhaji because of their shape. 
  2. We also add green chili-garlic-ginger paste instead of red chili powder. It tastes amazing too.
  3. Add just 2-3 tbsp rice flour, it gives nice crunch to the fritters.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Happy Diwali!

As kids me and my brother were more interested in firecrackers than anything. I remember we used to divide the firecrackers in exactly half. No one should get even a single cracker more than the other! But that did not last very long, we both outgrew the fun of firecrackers at much earlier age. We would but just few fulbaji/fuljhadi, few anaars and few bhoo chakra and that is about it. We used that money on good books. Now a days, for me Diwali is all about food and decorating. Rangoli, Toran, and nicely decorated Diyas makes it more special for me.

Here are some traditional treats for Diwali -




Sprinkled









A Closeup  


 


Bhadang


Homemade Shev  

Wish you all a very Happy Diwali!




Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Khandesh Special: Daal Batti Or Daal Bafale


In old days, people traveled from one town to other by bullock carts and sometimes for days! And they traveled light, with minimum belongings with them. Women of the house would carry enough things to eat for everyone for a day or two. If you were going to travel more, then they carried wheat flour, toor daal, some chili powder & salt, couple of plates, couple of big vessels. Hotels and motels were almost impossible to find in smaller towns or villages. If traveling through a bigger town with market and have enough money to spend, then they bought vegetables etc. If not, then cook with whatever is available.

Daal Batti is one such dish that was prepared mainly on such long journeys. It is very similar to the Daal-Baati of Rajasthan but still different. My father-in-law narrates the whole process of making this Khandesh special dish very well. This is just an attempt to write all the details in a post.

A ditch of size 3'x3'x10" is made in the ground by digging evenly. While that is getting ready, few people will start making fire using coal, collected firewood and dried cow dung. Wait until the flames subside and coal is burning nicely then half of the coals is spread at the bottom of the ditch. Fire is now covered with Banana leaves. While this is going on, few people are preparing the dough.

Coarsely ground wheat flour, ajwain, salt, turmeric and some hot oil is mixed together in a dough. Dough consistency is kept hard and kneading very little (just like pie crust). Dough is then divided in equal parts and made into 3-4 inch balls.

Once all the balls are ready they are  spread in single layer on the banana leaves which are spread over the fire. These balls are then covered with few more banana leaves, remaining coals are spread over these banana leaves and completely covered with soil. Let it cook for an hour without disturbing it.

Meanwhile, a make shift stove is made from three big rocks and some firewood collected from around. Toor daal, water and pinch turmeric is cooked in a large pot. Add salt once the daal is cooked well. Let it cook bit more adding water as needed. Simple daal is ready!!!

Carefully open the ditch, remove coals, and take out fully cooked Battis. Everyone takes one or two or more per their appetite. The battis are done well and break easily when pressed in the palms. Its crumbled and made into a well on a banana leaf. Pour as much plain daal in the middle of the well. Add ghee if you have any and enjoy!!

Now let's see a quick demo of how these battis are made in our home in India -


Let's see the recipe -
3-4 cups of Coarsely Ground Wheat Flour
1 tsp Turmeric Powder
1 tsp Ajwain (Carom Seeds)
 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 cup Oil
Salt per taste
Water as needed

Daal-Batti-Prep

Preparation -
Start making fire with coals and firewood in a small BBQ pit.
Mix salt, ajwain and turmeric powder in wheat flour.
Make a well in the flour.
Heat oil in a small kadhai. Add a pinch of dry flour, if it sizzles immediately then the oil is ready.
Pour hot oil in the well. Mix carefully with spoon.
Mix little water at a time just enough to make the ball. Do not make soft dough.
Make 3"-4" size balls carefully pinching the rough edges and making the balls smooth.
By now fire should be subsiding and coals are hot and ready.
Place the balls carefully on the coals.
Keep turning the balls and avoid burning. Balls should be roasted from all the sides.

Remove from the heat, set them aside. If there is ash on the battis, wipe them with wet tissue.

How to serve/eat?
Daal Batti - Everything served

Make plain daal - Cook toor daal, add water salt, turmeric and hing. Boil for few minutes.
Brake the battis with hand, crumble into coarse crumbs.
Make well with these crumbs, add plain daal in the middle and little bit of ghee.
Enjoy as many as you am with Eggplant bhaji and Amsool kadhi.

Tips -
  1. If you do not have BBQ pit, you can bake these in oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  2. If making in the oven I will suggest making the balls flat. 
  3. Bake one side for 15 min, other side for 10 min. 
  4. Another way to cook these, is boil the battis in hot water until they look whitish from outside. These are called Daal-Bafale. Once these are boiled, some people deep fry them in ghee(!!). Or bake then by spraying oil over them.



Saturday, November 03, 2012

Diwali Special: Karanji


(Link to Marathi Recipe)

Karanji in Marathi
Gujiya in Hindi
Karajikayi in Kannada


Karanji comes under 'must have' for us Maharashtrians for Diwali! Diwali faral is incomplete without these crescent shaped delicacy. My mom makes karanjis and Chirote on Dhanatrayodashi day. She makes these with few different fillings and those fillings are usually made 3-4 days ahead of time making things bit easy on the day. Here are the fillings she usually makes -
  1. Fresh Coconut + Sugar + Poppy Seeds 
  2. Dry coconut + Fine Semolina + Powdered Sugar + Poppy Seeds
  3. Wheat Flour + Dry Coconut + Sesame Seeds + Poppy Seeds + Fine Semolina 
  4. Khawa/Khoya + Sugar + Fresh Coconut
  5. Khowa/Khoya + Gulkand 
Making Karanjis is more or less whole day affair and it is very labor intensive. It is labor of love for sure! You forget everything when these beauties melt in your mouth at first bite. I made detailed video of the whole process to make baked karanjis, only issue you might face with that is the voice over in Marathi :)



Let's see how the whole process starts. I am making the Karanjis with filling 3 from the list above. This filling can be prepared up to 7-8 days ahead of time.
You will need -

2 cups Jaggery (Grated fine, pieces should not be bigger that a lentil grain)
1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 cup Dry Coconut (Flakes or grated)
1/2 cup Superfine Rava/Semolina
1/2 cup Sesame Seeds
1/4 cup Poppy Seeds
3 tbsp Almond Oil
1 tsp Cardamom Powder
Pinch of Nutmeg

Filling Preparation - 
Dry roast coconut, sesame seeds, poppy seeds separately until golden brown.
Do NOT mix these together once they are roasted.
Roast semolina with 1 tbsp ghee/oil until golden brown. Set aside separately.
Roast whole wheat flour with remaining ghee/oil. Roast it until golden brown.
Coarsely grind poppy seeds, sesame seeds and coconut (in that order).
Fit 'S' shaped blade to the food processor bowl. 
Put everything, flour, nut powders, jaggery, cardamom-nutmeg, in the food processor.
Process it for 8-10 minutes.
Sieve through larger sieve to remove bigger chunks if any.
Your filling is ready.

To make the Karanjis by traditional method, here is what you need for the cover -
1/2 cup Rava/Semolina
1/2 cup All Purpose Flour
1 tsp Salt
1 tbsp Sugar
2-3 tbsp Oil 
Milk+Water mixed together - As needed.
Oil for deep frying 

Cover Preparation - 
Heat oil in small kadhai.
Mix APF, rava, sugar, salt together in a big bowl. Make a well in the mixture.
Sprinkle pinch of flour in heating oil, flour should sizzle immediately.
Pour oil in the oil in flour mixture. Mix thoroughly with spoon.
Make stiff dough using little bit of water at a time.
Cover with damp towel and set aside for at least 2 hours.
After two hours pound the dough nicely for 15-20 minutes with stone mortar pestle.

Making traditional version of Karanjis -
Divide the dough in 4 equal sized balls. 
Roll thin chapati and spread 1 tbsp oil  evenly.
Now make tight roll, and cut into 1" pieces.
Continue with all the remaining dough and you should have about 40 pieces.
Cover these pieces with damp cloth all the time. This will keep the dough soft.
Take one small piece and roll into about 3-4" diameter puri.
Hold the puri in hand, pinch on the side, and add 1-2 tbsp filling.
Carefully close the karanji. Now press it on the cutting board, and carefully remove the extra dough from the side using karanji cutter.
Continue with remaining balls. Cover prepared karanjis with cloth.
Once all the karanjis are ready,  deep fry in medium hot oil.
Karanjis are now ready! 

Making Baked version of Karanjis -
1 cup APF
1.5 tbsp Earth Balance (or butter)
1.5 tbsp Oil
Pinch of Salt
Ice Cold Water - as needed

Baked Karanji Preparation -
Add salt, oil and earth balance to APF, mix just for few minutes.
Using very little ice cold water at a time make dough. Do not use too much water. The dough is not soft. Do not over work the dough.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour (at least).
Remove the dough from fridge. Do not wor
Divide the dough into 40-45 balls, make karanjis as mentioned above.
Once all the karanjis are ready, preheat oven at 375F.
Line the baking sheet with parchment paper, arrange prepared karanjis and bake them for 15-20 minutes.
Check after 12 minutes and decide the baking time.

Tips - 
  1. You can press the karanjis with fork if you do not have karanji cutter. 
  2. You can also try 'murad' (twisted edge) as shown in the video shared above. 
  3. You can use these dough recipe with any kind of filling mentioned above.

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