Monday, April 25, 2016

Leafy Green Vegetables

Maharashtrians use lots of leafy vegetables in their day-to-day cooking. It was mandatory to eat leafy greens everyday when we were kids. Now I am glad that I got to taste so much variety.

Here is my attempt to give pictorial view to some of the very commonly available greens. I will keep on adding more pictures to this page. I have recipes of for most of these greens on my blog. Please try and look for these beauties in your local farmers markets, grocery stores and and try them.

तांदुळजा/हिरवा माठ (Chinese Spinach) -



लाल माठ (Red Amaranth) -

 


राजगिरा (Amaranth) -




शेपू (Dill) -

Dill Leaves


चंदन बटवा (Bathua) - 

Chandan Batwa


चाकवत - 

Chakwat


आंबट चुका (Green Sorrel) - 

Ambat Chuka 1


पालक (Spinach) - 



Spinach


मायाळू (Malabar Spinach) -



Malabar Spinach / Water Spinach


मेथी (Fenugreek) -
 



Methi Bhaji


घोळ (Purslane leaves) -  




चिवळ / चिऊची भाजी - 

Chival-Chivai-Chiu



लाल भोपळ्याची पाने (Pumpkin leaves) - 



करडी / करडई (Safflower leaves) -

KaraDaIchee bhaji


आळूची पाने (Colocasia  leaves / Taro leaves / Elephant ear leaves) -

Taro Leaves


हरभऱ्याची पाने (Garbanzo leaves) - 

Even more closeup


आंबाडी (गोंगुरा / Red Sorrel) -

Ambadi / Red Sorrel / Gongura


मुळ्याचा पाला (Radish Leaves) - 

Radish Leaves


कांद्याची पात (Green Onion / Scallions) - 

Green Onion



Wednesday, April 06, 2016

उडदाचे पापड आणि आठवणी


शाळांमधील उन्हाळ्याच्या सुट्ट्यांमधे आजुबाजुच्या घरी पोळपाट-लाटणी घेऊन पापड करायला यायचे 'निमंत्रण' आम्हाला मिळत असे. मम्मीला शिवणाचे बरेच काम असल्याने त्या कामावर माझी रवानगी होत असे. आमचा घरचा पोळपाट पांढरट सनमायका लावलेला होता. आणि बर्‍याच मुलींना त्यावर पापड लाटायची इच्छा असायची. त्यामुळे सगळ्या मैत्रिणी त्या दिवसापुरत्या का होईना माझ्याशी नीट बोलत. हीच कथा दिवाळीच्या करंज्या करताना!

या उन्हाळीसामानाच्या, उद्या मी करते, परवा तू कर अशा बायकांमधे चर्चा होताना कधी-मधी ऐकायला यायच्या. वळवाच्या पावसाच्या अंदाजानुसार एकेकीचे बेत ठरायचे. बरोबरीने कुणाच्या पाटावरच्या शेवया, कुणाच्या मशीनवर केलेल्या शेवया, भाजीचे सांडगे, तळणीचे सांडगे, खिच्चे, बटाट्याचे पापड, वेफर्स, उपासाच्या चकल्या, कुरवड्या, भातवड्या, पापड्या, सालपापड्या असे विविध प्रकार बायका करत असत. त्यातही काहींचा अगदी सरळसोट कारभार असे तर काही त्यातही वेगवेगळे रंग वगैरे घालून वेगळेपण दाखवत. एखाद्याच्या घरात जर लग्न असेल तर मग दुप्पटीने करायचे असे. आणि मुलीचे लग्न असेल तर मग रंगीत पापड वगैरे रुखवतासाठी केले जाई. गव्हले, मालत्या वगैरे खिरीचे ५ प्रकार करून बुरडाकडून आणलेल्या बारक्या सुपात किंवा दुरर्ड्यांमधे ठेवले की मस्तच दिसत.  जरा मोठी शिबरी(बुट्ट्या) आणुन त्यात हे सगळे उन्हाळसामान नीट लावून त्यावर जिलेटीन कागद लावून रुखवतासाठी माळ्यावर कोणाचा हात लागणार नाही अशा जागी ठेवत. माझ्या मम्मीचे हे सगळे प्रकार खुप नाजुक होतात म्हणून आजुबाजुच्या एकदोन लग्नात तिच्याकडून लोकांनी करून नेलेले पण मला आठवतात.

तर आपण काय बोलत होतो? उडदाचे पापड!!
उडदाचे पापड करायचे म्हणजे तयारी त्यामानाने कमी लागायची. उडीद डाळ आणून वाळवून एकदम बारीक दळून आणली जाई. ही डाळ दळायला नेली की गिरणीवाला हमखास ३-४ वेळा विचारून डाळ वाळवून आणली आहे ना याची खात्री करायचा. एखादा वस्ताद तर ४-५ डाळी स्वतः कुडुमकुडुम खाऊन खात्री करून घेतल्याशिवाय चक्कीत घालायचा नाही. एखाद्या घरचे खटले जर मोठे असेल तर सहजी ३-४ किलोचे पापड त्यांच्याकडे केले जायचे.
डाळ दळून आणली की एकदा कोरड्या पेपरवर चाळून घ्यायची. त्यातून लावण्यापुरती वेगळी काढायची. मग एका मोठया परातीत पापडाचा माल मसाला आणि पीठ सगळे नीट एकत्र करून घ्यायचे. आणि पाण्याची अगदी बारीक धार सोडत पीठ घट्ट मळून घ्यायचे. हे पीठ इतके घट्ट असे की जणू काही क्रिकेटचा बॉलच! मग तेलाचा हात लावून पीठ डब्ब्यात घालून ठेवले जाई.

सकाळी उठुन मग घरची बाई हे पीठ कुटायला बसे. तेलाचा हात लावून खलबत्त्यात एकावेळी साधारण ४-५ पोळ्यांचे किंवा त्याहुनही कमी पीठ एकावेळी कुटले जाई. मदतीला कोणी असेल तर मग ५-६ घाव मारून झाले की मदतनीस थोड्या तेलाच्या हाताने दोन्ही हाताने ते पापडाचे पीठ ओढून-एकत्र करून-ओढून-एकत्र करून असे फेसत असे. यामुळे पापड एकदम हलका होई. आता हे चालू असताना, घरची चिल्लर आणि पुरुषमंडळी पिठ खाण्यासाठी मधुन मधुन डोकावून जात. हा कार्यक्रम सगळ्या पिठाचा करून झाला की ते पीठ तेल लावून मग पुन्हा झाकुन ठेवले जाई.

मग रोजचा स्वयंपाक, जेवणखाण उरकले की घरच्या चिल्लरपैकी एकजण गल्लीत सगळ्या घरी जाऊन पापड करायला पोळपाट-लाटणे घेऊन या असे 'आवताण' देऊन येत असे. मग आपापल्या घरची कामे उरकुन मग बायका मुली पापडाला बसत. एकटी गोळ्या करून त्याला तेल लावून ठेवी. ह्या गोळ्या करायला खुपदा खजुरी दोरा वापरला जात असे. क्वचीत एखादीकडे सुरी असायची. एखादी लहान मुलगी असेल तर ती लहान पापड लाटून देई मग एखादी तेच पापड मोठे करत असे. हे मोठे पापड करणार्‍या असत त्यांच्याकडे रेषा-रेषांची, चौकडीची मस्त लाटणी असत. पापडांचे तेल मुरल्याने मस्त तुकतुकीत झालेल्या या लाटण्यांचे मला फार कौतुक होते! त्याने पोळपाटावर मजेशीर असा सरसर-करकर असा आवाज येई. असे २५-३० पापड झाले की गोळ्या करणारीची पापड सावलीत वाळवण्यासाठी साडीवर पसरण्यासाठी नेमणूक होत असे. मधुन मधुन लाटणार्‍यांसाठी लाट्या, चहा, सरबत असा खुराक चालू असे आणि महत्वाचे बरेचसे गॉसिप सोबत चघळायला असे. करमणूकीसाठी टी.व्ही. नव्हते त्यामुळे अमकीचे लग्न, सिनेमाच्या स्टोर्‍या, गाणी, अमकीच्या लग्नात काय झाले, तमक्याने नविन सायकल घेतले असले चर्वित चर्वण सरसर होणार्‍या पापडांबरोबर पटापट पुढे सरकत असे. हे पापड सगळे सावलीतच कोरडे करत असत. पापड कडक उन्हात वाळवला तर तुकडे पडतात म्हणून मग असे आधी सावलीत आणि एक सकाळ कोवळ्या उन्हात वाळवले जात. त्यामुळे गप्पांमधे कधी खंड पडत नसे. हा हा म्हणता २-३ किलोचे पापड सहज होऊन जात. मग घरची बाई सगळ्यांसठी परत एकदा चहा करी. सोबत जाताना रात्री खिचडीबरोबर खाण्यासाठी ५-६ पापड सोबत देई. येवढे पापड लाटल्यावर घरच्या भाकर्‍या थापायचे त्राण कोणाकडेच नसत!!

नवा दिवस उजाडला की परत कोणाचे तरी आमंत्रण आणि परत हाच प्रयोग, हीच पात्रे फक्त स्टेज निराळे!

आमच्या घरचे पापड मात्र मी साधारण ५-६ वीत असल्यापासून मी आणि मम्मी दोघीच करत आलो आहे. रोज १/२ किलोचे पीठ भिजवून असे २ किंवा तीन दिवस हे पापड करायचे कारण बर्‍याचदा इतक्या घरचे पापड केल्यावर बायका उरका पाडल्यासारख्या जाड जाड पापड करत किंवा मग मम्मीच्या शिवणकामानंतर साधारण ४ ते ६ वगैरे आम्ही पापड करत असू. पापड नीट गोल होत नसेल तर शिकण्यासाठी मम्मीने कित्येकदा पापड मोडून गोळा करून करत करायला लावले आहेत :) आता ते टॉर्चर वाटते पण तेव्हा नीटपणाची सवय लागली ती पुढे कधी सुटली नाही.

मम्मीचे पापडाचे प्रमाण असे -
१ किलो उडीद डाळ वाळवून दळून आणायची. लावण्यासाठी १-१.५ वाटी पीठ काढून ठेवायचे.
२० ग्रम पापडखार खडे फोडून चाळून घ्यायचा
बारीक मीठ पाव वाटी
१०-२० ग्रॅम मिरे
हिरव्या मिरच्या ६-७ किंवा चवीप्रमाणे
एक-दोन गड्डे लसूण (आवडत असतील तर)
जीरे १ टेबल्स्पून (छान दिसतात म्हणून)

कृती -
मिरी मिक्सरवर बारीक करून घ्यायची.
हिरव्या मिरच्या, लसूण एकत्र वाटून घ्यायचे.
चाळलेल्या पिठात हे सगळे नीट मिसळायचे. अगदी हळूहळू पाणी घालत पीठ घट्ट भिजवायचे. पीठ मू अजिबातच भिजवायचे नाही.  पुरीच्या पिठाहूनही कठीण असते हे पीठ. बोट लावले तर बोट जराही आत नाही गेले पाहिजे.
दुसरे दिवशी खलबत्त्यात कुटायचे, ताणून ताणून फेसायचे.
कमीत कमी पिठावर पापड लाटायचे.

लहान प्रमाणात करून पहायचे असेल तर १ कप पीठ, १ टीस्पून पापडखार, १ टीस्पून मिरे, एखादी मिरची वापरून पापड करून पहाता येतील :)

असेच मुगाच्या डाळीचे पापड करतात पण ते पीठ खुप लवकर मऊ पडते. आभाळ आलेले असेल तर पापड करत नाहीत कारण पीठ मऊ पडते म्हणतात.


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Maharashtrian Style Chili Lime Pickle (Mirachiche Lonache)


My family has been growing green chilies in the family farm for generations. It might be because the region gets very less rains. The variety we grow is called Sankeshwari Chilies. It is moderately hot and moderately red in color. I remember we actually never buy chili powder from store as yearly supply is send to us by my uncle. In the past he also grew some Byadagi chilies just for home and mixed it with the Sankeshwari to give bright red color to the chili powder. I think later he stopped doing it.

My Ajji used to make awesome pickles from chilies like Maeen Mula (sorry no picture) and green chilies, Green mangoes and chilies, Green Mangoes and Garlic and many more combinations. There is a very special pickle made in the region called Channyache Lonache (छन्न्याचे लोणचे). Channya is very similar to Parwar. But I am not hundred percent sure about how close these two vegetables are to each other.

But my favorite pickle is Chili Lime Pickle as it is the most flavorful pickle in my opinion. Softened green chilies, creamy mustard and perfect sourness of limes makes it to die for! I love to eat this pickle with home churned butter and bread toast. Another favorite combination is this pickle, soft warm Idli and butter! Oh! heaven in mouth!

If I remember correctly, this pickle is made in winter time as that is the season when Fresh chilies are available in abundance. It needs nice and juicy limes as well. I say limes because traditionally we get limes in abundance in India and very rarely lemons. But here in US I have used both lemons and limes and it produces similar results. These days I tend to use more lemons because lots of our neighbors have lemon trees and I get steady supply of pesticide free lemons in the pickle season. And I get to make many many varieties of lemon pickles!

Chilies and Limes cut

Choosing correct spice level for green chilies is very important step. I think spicy is not always tasty because it kills other flavors of the dish and it is particularly true with this pickle. I choose medium spicy long light green chilies from nearby farmers market.


Mixed together with tempering


Here is my mom's general recipe -

1/2 kg Fresh Green Chilies (medium spicy variety)
10 medium size Lemons
2+2 tbsp Methi seeds
2-3 tsp Hing
3-4 tsp Turmeric
1/4 cup Salt (as per taste)
1 cups Mustard Seeds
1/4 cup Oil (any flavorless oil)


Preparation -
Wash green chilies under running water without crushing them. Let them dry completely on paper towel overnight in single layer.
Also wash the lemons and dry them overnight in single layer. We do not want even a single drop of water on either lemons or chilies.
Next day first dry roast 2 tbsp methi seeds and cool them. Grind to make coarse powder.
Grind mustard seeds coarsely and set aside.
Heat oil in a small kadhai. Add 2 tbsp methi seeds, hing and turmeric powder. As soon as the methi seeds start sizzling add ground methi seeds and ground mustard seeds. Let mustard seeds sizzle for a minute and shut the heat off. Let the oil cool down to room temperature.
Discard all the stems from chilies. Discard chilies that are broken or have black spots. And make sure each and every chili is dry and there is not a single drop of water on it.
Clean lemons and dry them with towel.
Now start cutting chilies with dry knife and dry cutting board. Cut the chilies in 1 centimeter length. Keep them in a deep bowl.
Now squeeze juice 5 lemons and set aside.
Chop remaining lemons in 1 centimeter pieces. Add these to the chilies.
Mix about 2-3 tbsp salt and lemon juice with chili-lemon mixture.
Let it sit down until oil is cooled down completely.
Mix oil with the chili-lemon mixture and mix it thoroughly. Adjust salt if necessary.

Now layer about a teaspoon salt in a glass jar and fill in the pickle. Continue with the process until all the pickle is bottled.
Now add single layer of salt on top of pickle. Close the lids tightly.
Keep in cool dry place.
Pickle is Ready to eat!
Notes -

  • My mom used to open bottles every 2-3 days and mix and keep it cool and dry place until chilies are softened. I realized that my pickle invariably goes bad if I do that so I do not open the bottles for almost a month. Recently I have been using 8oz mason jars, pickle stays fresh for long time and one can use only one small bottle as needed. I have also left my pickle bottles in fridge for almost a moth without touching it to avoid spoiling it.
  • Keep your hands, all the ingredients and utensils dry is the key to make pickle that lasts. Also not washing your hands frequently during the process is important.
  • Another very interesting recipe I cam across on Maayboli was to grind mustard seeds with lemon juice to make it more spicy. In that pickle tempering is only made from methi seeds, hing and turmeric powder. It also tastes heavenly. 


Friday, January 15, 2016

TiLachi vaDi or chikki - Sesame Brittle


तिळगूळ घ्या गोड बोला।।

Makar Sankrant is just around the corner. It marks end of winter solstice. It is believed that the Sun starts moving towards Northern Hemisphere on this day by length of one sesame seed! This is the only festival in India is celebrated by Solar calendar, all others are celebrated according to Lunar calendar. It is celebrated all over India. It is called Sankrant in most of Northern India and as Pongal in Southern India.
It is winter time in India in January so Sesame seeds are used in abundance.  It is believed that people should eat more healthy oils during winter time to fight cold weather. Jaggery produces heat and believed to be better for health if eaten during wintertime.


Making chikki or brittle is easy but can be tricky. It needs little patience to make it crispy and not chewy. Here is my mom's recipe which she learned from my grandmother (her mother-in-law). My mom makes the best chikkis ever! I learnt to make these from her when I was in college. And easiest available ingredients to practice were churmure/kurmure (puffed rice) or roasted peanuts. And growing up in a sugarcane capital of Maharashtra helped because we always had organic jaggery in abundance at home!

TiLachi Vadi (Sesame Brittle)

Here is how my mom makes chikki -

1 cup Sesame Seeds
1/2 cup Roasted Peanut Powder (coarsely ground)
1 cup Grated Jaggery
3-4 Cardamom Pods
2-3 tbsp Graded Dry Coconut
2 tbsp Walnut Oil / Ghee (divided use)
Water

Preparation - 
Pick over sesame seeds and dry roast them on low heat. Seeds will plump up once they are roasted properly. Do not let the seeds burn. Set it aside once roasted.
Grease stainless steel plate (10-12" diameter) and a flat bottom stainless steel bowl with little ghee or walnut oil).
Add jaggery in a heavy bottom pan, add about 2 tbsp water.
Start heating jaggery water mixture on low-medium heat. Do not increase heat as it will burn jaggery quickly and color of the final product will be darker.
Soon the syrup will start boiling (4-5 minutes), keep stirring to avoid burning the jaggery. Syrup will start bubbling. Take 1/2 cup water in a separate bowl and drop single small drop of syrup in the water. Move the drop in water to cool it. Now see if that has become hard like candy. You can try chewing it. If the ball does not stick to your teeth and is crunchy then syrup is ready. If it is chewy then keep stirring on low heat for couple more minutes and taste for the crunchiness by adding another drop in water bowl.
Once syrup is ready add 1 tbsp ghee or walnut oil and mix quickly. Remove the pan from heat then add roasted sesame seeds, peanut powder and dry coconut and quickly mix everything. It will form a ball, quickly pour that in greased plate and flatten with back of a greased bowl. You have to work quickly as jaggery will start cooling off quickly making it hard to work with.
Once the surface is flat and the thickness is even then using sharp knife cut into diamond shapes without going through the brittle.
Let it cool completely (3--40 minutes) and then make the pieces on the scorched lines. Enjoy!

They last for more then 15-20 days if stored in a airtight container.

Here is collage of steps -

Sesame Brittle Step By StepTips -
  • The process sounds tedious and lengthy but start to finish it takes maximum 30 minutes. 
  • Making the candy consistency of jaggery is the key. Do not rush through that step. 
  • I usually make it in a non-stick pan and at the end of the process my pan is clean as it it was never used. 
  • I cover my large cutting board with aluminum foil and grease that and a rolling pin with walnut oil. And roll it quickly to make thin (1/4 centimeter) brittle. 
  • I have never used candy thermometer to make these, if you use it, please drop a line about that process. 
Other Makar Sankrant Specials -


Monday, January 04, 2016

Light Paav Bhaaji



Paav Bhaji is a crowd pleasing one dish meal that almost everyone loves. I like to slurp the bhaji with least amount of paav(breads) possible. I like the taste of all the vegetables together and spicy soup like paav bhaji. Everyone has their own recipe and they swear by its authenticity and I am no different. I like my vegan version of Paav Bhaji with crusty sourdough bread. Little while ago a friend told me she uses Kasuri Methi to garnish at the end and I tried that and fell in love with it. Another time different friend told me she uses mushrooms instead of potatoes and she loves that version. I am not a great fan of mushroom so I have not tried that version.

Later one day when I was making paav bhaji I remembered the conversation and wanted to cut down number of potatoes. So I decided to use big chunk of Dudhi or Ash Gourd which was eagerly waiting in my fridge to be used in something fancy(or not)! I had to pay attention to few things while making the final version but the general result was very light but tasty version of paav bhaji. I loved it, but significant other thinks its good for us to enjoy at home but might not be as crowd pleasing as the original version. Now I am looking for guinea pigs for my next round of trial :)

Here is the recipe for you to try and report if you liked it or still prefer the original potato heavy version!

Light Pav Bhaji

Serves 4 people generously.

2 Medium White Potatoes
1/2 of medium Dudhi (Ash Gourd)  (2-3 cups cubed)
1 Large Bell Pepper/Capsicum (I use red)
1 Small Carrot
Few Green Beans
3-4 Medium Tomatoes
1 cup Green Peas (Please do not use Petite Green peas they are too sweet)
3-4 Byadagi Chilies
1 Small Blob of Ginger (grated)
2tbsp Paav Bhaji Masala (or per taste)
Red Chili Powder - Per Taste
Salt - per taste
3-4 tbsp Oil
1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder
Water as needed

Garnish - 
1 Small Onion
Chopped Cilantro
Lemon Wedges

Pav/Sourdough Dinner Rolls/Dinner Rolls

Preparation -
Wash all the vegetables. 
Peel potatoes, cut in half.
Peel carrot and cut in 3-4 pieces.
Peel dudhi and dice in 1" cubes.
Quarter one tomato.
Add all these vegetables in pressure cooker, add one cup of water and pressure cook for about 15-20 minutes on medium heat or until done.
Meanwhile, chop onion, tomatoes, and bell pepper in 1/2" dice.
Mash all cooked vegetables with potato masher.
Heat oil in heavy bottom pan, add chopped onion and sauté onion until golden brown.
Mix in chopped tomatoes and sauté till oil separates.
Now its time to add chopped bell pepper and sauté until done.
Add green peas, pav bhaji masala, red chili powder and salt. Mix and cover for 3-4 minutes util peas are cooked. Mash with potato masher.
Add grated ginger and all mashed up vegetables, mix well.
Adjust salt, pavbhaji masala and chili powder.
Let the bhaji boil.

Serve piping hot as usual with toasted pav, chopped ciltantro, chopped onion and lemon wedge.

Tips -
  1. You can use zucchini or any other summer squashes instead of dudhi. 
  2. Please use water as when needed, dudhi or summer squashes contain water and can make bhaji bit watery. 


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