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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Samosa - Take Two

This is my second samosa recipe post, you can find the first here. This is similar to the first, however a couple of changes to the ingredients make a huge difference in the resulting taste. You can try both and decide which one you like better. After some experimenting, I think this recipe comes closest to the store bought one that I used to enjoy while growing up. They key is to make them and serve them fresh while still piping hot. I have provided some tips in the tips section on how you can always have samosas on hand.

It is just great to come home and have hot samosas with a nice cup of chai after a long day at work. You can always make this as an appetizer or snack when guests come over and wow them.

See the previous samosa recipe for the ingredients needed to prepare the outer covering of the samosa.
Alternately, you can use readymade spring roll covers or puff pastry if you do not want to make the outer covering

For the stuffing
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
2-3 potatoes - boiled and cut into small cubes
1/2 cup peas (fresh/frozen and thawed)
1 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp saunf/ fennel seed
1 tsp kalonji/onion seed
1 tsp corriander powder
1/2 tsp garam masala (this can be reduced if you dont want it too spicy)
green chillies to taste - chopped fine
1 tsp mango powder/amchur
salt to taste

To prepare the outer covering for the samosa, see the directions here.

For the stuffing
Heat the oil and add the cumin seeds to it. Once the seeds start to crackle, add the kalonji, saunf, and green chillies. Add the onion and the garlic ginger paste. Fry the onion till its transluscent and add the corriander powder and garam masala. Fry this for a couple of minutes then add the potaotes and the peas. Add the salt and mango powder. Mix this and let it cook for about 5 minutes. The stuffing is ready.

Assembling the samosa
Create the cones using the half circle pastry shells as described here. Put enough stuffing in the samosa, so that you can seal the open end without the samosa bursting at the seams. Assemble all your samosas before starting the frying process.

Cooking the samosa
Heat the oil, test it with a small piece of the dough. If it comes up almost immediately after you put it in the oil, the oil is hot enough to fry your samosas. Fry a few samosas at a time. If you want to go with the lower calorie option, assemble all your samosas on a cookie sheet/ baking sheet and you can brush them/spray them with some oil. Even if oil is not used, the samosas turn out very crispy.

Enjoy them hot with some mint and tamarind chutney.

What I generally do is, create a large batch of uncooked samosas and freeze them. Whenever we feel like eating samosas, I bake these directly without thawing at 350 F for 30 minutes. These turn out crisp and ready to eat. It is great to be able to make samosas on demand and on short notice.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Pav Bhaaji

Pav bhaaji is a dish which is a potpourri of vegetables and is a complete meal. I have made this dish often and you can find the standard recipe on the back of the pav bhaaji masala box, however it is not easy to replicate the taste of the restaurant pav bhaaji. I must mention here that not all restaurants in India are equal where it comes to  the authentic pav bhaaji taste. One of my favorite places was a restaurant near my home, and my friends and I used to always start salivating when we passed by and smelt the wonderful aroma wafting from the restaurant. The bhaaji used to be continuously cooked on a large flat "tava" outdoors where people used to be seated. The tava was dark, looked like it was made of iron and seemed to be specialized for the pav bhaaji. Pav bhaaji means bread with vegetable. The bhaaji/vegetable consists of several different veggies. It has been very rare to come across really well made pav bhaaji here and while most people make a pretty decent version, I was really yearning to eat the one that tasted like the one back home.

It was two years ago that my sister-in-law made this bhaaji. She cooked it for a party and had made enough for about 30 guests. It was a great hit and even though she had made a large quantity, it was almost gone by the end of dinner. Her version was so close to the restaurant version that I just had to jot down the recipe. I have tried it and it turned out great. The key is to be  patient, and let everything cook properly. You will be pleasantly surprised when you follow this recipe.

2 tbsp oil
1-2 tbsp butter
½ medium cauliflower florets (about 1 cup of florets)
1 green bell pepper
1 large red onion or 2 medium red onions finely chopped
½ cup peas - thawed or if you are using fresh peas, cook them through by boiling in water
3-4 medium size potatoes - boiled and mashed
2-3 tomatoes finely diced
1 inch ginger
1 tbsp finely minced garlic or garlic paste
Red chilli powder to taste
3-5 tbsp pav bhaji masala
1 tsp jeera dhania powder (cumin-coriander powder)
Salt to taste
Finely chopped cilantro for garnish
Lemon wedges and finely chopped onion to serve with
Dinner rolls

Heat the oil and to this add the onions. Once these are cooked till transparent, add the garlic and ginger. This mixture needs to be cooked till the raw smell of the mixture goes away. This can take a few mins, but this is the phase you need to be patient and let it all cook through. While this is cooking, boil the cauliflower florets in water, till it is tender. It shouldn't be too soft, just cooked through. Once the onion, garlic ginger are cooked through, add the bell pepper and cook for a couple of minutes, then add the tomatoes. Once the tomatoes are cooked through, add the cauliflower florets. Cook this mixture well for a few minutes. To this mixture add the chilli powder, jeera dhania powder, pav bhaaji masala and cook for a couple of minutes. The pav bhaaji masala quantity would need to be adjusted based on how spicy your masala is. Add the potatoes, mix thoroughly and cook for a couple of minutes. Then add the peas. Cook for a few minutes more. Add the salt and adjust the chilli to your taste. Finally add the butter and mix it through.

Serve this bhaaji with toasted dinner rolls. The easiest way to roast these is to slice them through into two pieces horizontally and apply a little butter and then toast on a pan or broil.  Add a little butter to the bhaaji when you serve it and garnish with cilantro, chopped onion. Add a wedge of lime.

You can add more butter while you are making the bhaaji, instead of adding it at the end. This enhances the taste.
This is a easy recipe to scale up and popular to make for a large gathering of people. To toast a large number of dinner rolls at a time, broil these on the high setting for a couple of minutes. Also, the dinner rolls cook through very quickly when broiling.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Fodni Chi Poli/ Chapati with Seasoning

This is one of my favorite breakfast dishes. We call it "khous khous" at home. I am not sure how the name was created, but it stuck and I still call it "khous khous" to this day. It takes me back to childhood. I remember all those mornings when I used to sit at the dining room table, carefully breaking previous night's rotis into small pieces. I also remember taking an inordinate time trying to make even pieces and making my mom rush to get it into the tadka in time. Ah good old days! These days it is rare that I have enough rotis left over to make this dish but I really love to make it when I can. It is generally made with at least a day old rotis and is one of the ways to use up the chapatis from the previous day. The old rotis give it a crisper texture.

5-8 chapatis/rotis/phulkas - generally a day old
1-2 green chillies to taste
salt to taste
1/2 tsp  sugar
1/8 tsp turmeric
1/8 tsp mustard seeds
1/8 tsp cumin seeds
1/2-3/4 onion diced
pinch of asafoetida
cilantro for granish
1 tbsp oil

Heat the oil and add the mustard and cumin seeds to it. Once these seeds crackle, add the onions and fry till light brown. Add the green chillies and turmeric. Tear the rotis into small pieces. You can use a food processor to cut them up. The pieces need to be about 1-2 cms in size. To these roti pieces add the salt and sugar. Add this to the fried onion tadka. Stir well and mix.  Cook for a few more minutes. Serve hot. Garnish with cilantro.

Serve with some lime, pickle or yogurt. The longer you keep it on the heat, the crisper it will get.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Gobi Manchurian

It is surprising, but I had never eaten gobi manchurian while I was in India. I finally tasted this three years ago at a Udipi restaurant and I just loved it. Left me wondering why I hadn't ever tried out this dish earlier. It was very spicy and tasty. I have been thinking of cooking this for a long time, however I am not very keen of making fried food at home except for special occasions.
Now, I had half a cauliflower left over this weekend from another dish I made, and I thought why not whip this up for a nice Saturday lunch. Of course, I didn't want to fry the cauliflower, so I thought why not bake it?! And I must say it was a brilliant idea. I baked the cauliflower for half an hour till the florets were wonderfully crisp and then added it to the sauce. The end result was just so tasty and healthy too. I am sure I am going to make this version of gobi manchurian often. No more waiting for three more years!

1 cup tomato sauce
2 tsp chilli paste
4 cloves of garlic - finely chopped
1 cup of green onion leaves - chopped
1 green chilli - finely chopped
1/2 a large yellow onion or 1 small yellow onion
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp vinegar
salt to taste
1/4 cup water
1/2 cauliflower - florets separated
1/2 cup all purpose flour
4 tbsp corn starch
salt to taste
pepper to taste - i put in lots of pepper to make the florets spicy
2 tbsp oil

To prepare the florets
Wash the florets well, keep them in a bowl of water with a little salt added to the water. Mix together the all purpose flour, 2 tbsp corn starch, salt and pepper. Dredge the wet florets in this flour mixture. Heat the overto 425F. Arrange all the florets on a baking sheet and bake for about 30 mins. The florets will turn a little brown, dry and will become crispy. Then add 1/2 tbsp oil into a pan and then fry the florets in this pan for about 2 mins. This will give the florets a fried texture without all the oil.

To prepare the sauce
Heat 1.5 tbsp oil in a pan. Saute the onions, garlic and the green chilli till cooked. Add the tomato sauce and chilli paste. Cook this till the sauce is completely cooked and started to separate from the oil. To this add the vinegar, soy sauce. Mix together the remaining 2 tbsp corn starch and water and form a slurry. Add this to the sauce. Cook this till the slurry is cooked through and transparent. Add 3/4 cup of green onions. Cook for the onions for a minute. Add the florets to the sauce.  The manchurian is ready. Serve as an appetizer.

This is an excellent dish to serve as an appetizer with just enough gravy to coat the cauliflowers. Its easy to scale up this dish, especially the baked version. You do not need to stand at the stove frying all the florets. Just put all of them on a baking sheet, put in the oven and check every 15 minutes till crips. Wonderful for potlucks. Garnish with the remaining green onions.