Showing posts with label Besan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Besan. Show all posts

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Quick Zucchini Dosas

In Spring this year, V and I became the proud custodians of a 12 feet by 5 feet garden plot in our local community garden. We were hoping for beginner's luck and dreaming of bumper crops of eggplant and methi but let's just say that I am thankful we have the option of buying our food. Between our rookie mistakes and the voracious squirrels, the poor plants did not stand a chance. There were plenty of hilarious moments, like when our more experienced garden neighbor pointed out that the one plant that was growing well and that we were watering desperately was, in fact, a weed. And then we had asparagus growing, which is wonderful, except that we had never planted any. 

V remains persistent in his gardening efforts and now he has been getting us herbs from the plot, and picking a modest amount of okra every day. We saved the okra for a few days and made a delicious gojju with it this weekend, using the incredible gojju powder sent by my sister's ma-in-law. 

Generous (and more experienced and successful) garden neighbors have been sharing their bounty with us. That's how we ended up with what must have been one of the biggest specimens of summer squash in the state of Missouri. Even after using it for a couple of stir fries, I had a large portion of this monster left over.

So one morning at breakfast, a huge heap of the summer squash was shredded and tossed with salt to draw out the moisture. Then I stirred in some salt, onion and spices, and enough chickpea flour and rice flour to make a batter, and made us some filling, savory dosas in a matter of minutes.  

You can use any summer squash or zucchini in this recipe, or cucumbers, or a combination of the two. I never bother to peel the vegetables unless the peel is too tough and stringy. While making dosas, I love to sprinkle them with sesame seeds for extra flavor and texture; this is the way cucumber dosas were always made when I was growing up. 

Summer Squash Dosas

  1. Shred the summer squash into a large bowl. I started with about 3 packed cups of shredded summer squash.
  2. Add a small minced onion, 1 tsp. cumin seeds, a pinch of turmeric, red chili powder or minced green chilies, and salt to taste. Add some minced fresh herbs like cilantro or chives if you have any on hand. 
  3. Let the squash sit for 10 minutes to draw out the water. You won't need any additional water for the batter because these vegetables have a very high water content. 
  4. Add scoops of chickpea flour and rice flour (in about equal amounts) until you get a pancake like batter. 
  5. Heat a cast iron (or non stick) griddle. Ladle batter into the center. Now, using wet fingertips, spread the batter around to a thin dosa. You can spread the batter with the back of a ladle but I find that wet fingertips work much better. With a tiny bit of practice, you'll never risk burning your fingers. 
  6. Drizzle oil around the edges. Sprinkle sesame seeds on the surface. Let the underside get brown and crispy. 
  7. Flip over the dosa and let the other side cook.
The dosas are wonderful on their own or with your choice of a dry or fresh chutney. We enjoyed them with peanut chutney. 

I'm excited to share some personal news with you: I'm 7 months pregnant. If all goes well, V and I will have a little one in late September. Summer temperatures have been off the charts this year in St. Louis (and in much of the US) and light meals like these are perfect for me.

Have a lovely rest of the week, everyone! 

Monday, January 21, 2008

Suralichi Wadi

While samosas and pakodas have become international sensations and are on everyone's lips (literally and figuratively), there are quite a few Indian snacks that would be unfamiliar to many people: this post is about one such snack. Let's should I describe suralichi wadi to someone who may not have seen it before? Think of a Swiss roll; only the "cake" is a silky, thin sheet of cooked chickpea flour and the filling is a savory mixture of coconut, herbs and chillies. OK- so it is nothing like a Swiss roll, except that it is a roll. This delightful little bite is commonly called Suralichi Wadi in Maharashtra (surali is roll) and Khandvi in Gujarat. I am not sure if other states of India also make this but it sure is popular in these two Western states. You will find mounds of khandvi beautifully stacked on counters in halwai shops (akin to delis) all over Bombay. It is a dish that Aai (my mum) often made when she had too much rapidly-souring yogurt on her hands and needed to use it up quickly. Suralichi wadi is served cold or at room temperature, making it the perfect snack for hot days, but of course that should not stop anyone from making/eating it during any other weather.

Suralichi wadi is one of those things that can seem quite difficult to make if one has never made it before but my mother shared her recipe for making it in the microwave oven. I was very surprised at how quick and fun this recipe is! Apart from some basic ingredients and a microwave-safe (I prefer to use glass) bowl, what you need are some surfaces to spread the cooked chickpea-buttermilk mixture on. I use upturned steel dinner plates.

My mum says to keep three things in mind:
1. The proportion to remember here is adeech-pat or 1 part besan: 2.5 parts buttermilk. Here, I am referring to what we call buttermilk in India- diluted yogurt, essentially. In fact, for Indian dishes that call for buttermilk, I just whisk together yogurt and water. The buttermilk should be of a medium consistency. Think Goldilocks: not too thick and not too thin.
2. As you cook the besan mixture, remember to do so in short bursts, stirring each time, to prevent lumps from forming.
3. How do you decide when the mixture is cooked enough? Do the test: on an ungreased steel plate, smear a small amount (teaspoonful) and let it cool for a few seconds. Try rolling it off the surface. If it comes off easily, the mixture is ready. If it sticks to the plate even after cooling, cook it some more.
A lot of the cooking time etc. will depend on the properties of the buttermilk (how thick, how sour), so you will have to standardize it for yourself.

Suralichi Wadi

(My mother's recipe)
1 C besan (chickpea flour)
2.5 C buttermilk (medium consistency)
0.5 t turmeric powder
salt to taste
0.5 C grated coconut (fresh or thawed frozen)
0.5 C packed minced fresh cilantro
1 T minced fresh ginger
2 hot green chillies, minced (or to taste)
salt to taste
1-2 T oil
2 t mustard seeds
pinch of asafoetida
1. In a bowl, combine all the ingredients for the filling and set aside.
2. Set out about 4 upturned dinner plates on the work surface (steel thalis work best). These should NOT be greased and they do need to have flat bottoms.
3. In a large microwave-safe bowl, whisk together the besan, buttermilk, turmeric and salt making sure there are no lumps. Cook the mixture by microwaving for 30-45 second spurts and stirring in between.
4. When the mixture appears to thicken into a paste, test it (see notes above). Cook it until it is can be rolled properly once smeared on a plate.
5. Ladle portions of the cooked mixture onto the upturned plates and spread it thinly, using a gentle circular motion.

6. Let the mixture cool for 10 minutes or so. Then sprinkle the filling evenly on the surface (divide the filling equally among all the plates you are covered).

7. Use a knife (or pizza wheel) to gently score the sheet into strips (an inch wide or so). Then gently roll each strip into a tight roll.

8. Set the rolls on a platter. Make the tempering by heating oil and spluttering mustard seeds and asafoetida in it. Pour the tempering evenly on the rolls.

Eat up :)

I'm sending this any-time snack to Srivalli for her microwave cooking event. The theme this month is Tiffin. To me, this Anglo-Indian word holds much promise of good food. Tiffin was our word for the lunch-box that we took to school every day for the mid-morning meal. The stackable stainless steel tiffin boxes bearing 4-course meals and the dabbawallas who deliver them all over Bombay are internationally known. Tiffin-the meal- was my very favorite of the 4 meals served in hostel here, served at 4 pm. Eating a hearty snack at 4 pm is a brilliant concept, allowing one to eat smaller meals throughout the day and getting away with a very light dinner!

Anyway, here are a couple more microwave tiffin ideas from this blog:
Sabudana Khichdi
I am fairly sure Kothimbir Wadi could be easily steamed in the microwave although I have yet to try it myself.

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I am so grateful to everyone who helped me with useful tips about making the puris for pani puri. I got together with a friend and we had a great time making a big batch last night. Here are my results using 1:1 maida to sooji with a tiny bit of baking soda and sugar in the dough; stamping out circles from a large rolled sheet and further rolling each piece thinly: about a 50% puff rate, with a wonderful light and crispy taste. Puff daddies and rebels were both devoured in minutes :D

Real life is going to be hectic from this week on, and blogging life might suffer as a result: programming on One Hot Stove could be sporadic for a while. Y'all stay warm and happy!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Weekend Stuff

Dale places a possessive paw on his new toy, a moose.

Moose-y has a head that squeaks when it is pressed, and Dale loves to carry it around in his mouth all over the place. We have a Halloween pet parade in our neighborhood in a couple of weeks, and I'm dying to get Dalu into a costume for the occasion (he looks miserable every time I talk about it :D...Dale prefers the au naturel look). Any ideas for a simple doggie costume for this handsome pooch?

***** ***** *****
Some delicious recipes from fellow bloggers:

1. I love roasted cauliflower in all its shapes and forms. Susan, the Food Blogga, posted a Crispy Breaded Cauliflower recipe that made my knees go weak. The idea of dipping florets into egg whites and then into breadcrumbs, then baking them to a glorious crispy finish- I took that concept and tried a variation of it. I made masala breadcrumbs by whizzing together 2 dried-out old slices of bread, 1 t cumin seeds, 1 t ajwain (carom seeds), red chilli powder, 1 T olive oil and salt in the food processor. The only problem: I was not able to get very fine breadcrumbs. I then dipped florets in beaten egg white, rolled them in the masala breadcrumbs and baked them as directed.

The result was so delicious and supremely crunchy. The coarse breadcrumbs did not stick on as well as they should have, hence the patchy look of the cauliflower, but this is totally worth a repeat. Maybe next time I will buy some panko (Japanese style breadcrumbs) and then spice them up. Of course, I also have to try out Susan's original recipe with the olive tapenade (there, my knees are going weak again).

2. For many months, I have been making my usual crunchy granola with minor variations. But I discovered an awesome granola recipe last week that is sure to become the new favorite. This recipe for small batch crunchy granola was shared by Anna of Cookie Madness.

I did follow the recipe exactly as it is, only scaling it up to 3 cups granola to fill a full-size cookie sheet. Oats and nuts are tossed with a sugar-water-vanilla mixture, then baked at a lower temperature for a longer time. The result, I have to admit, is a lot crunchier than my usual granola, and it stayed that way over the several days that we enjoyed this granola. And one ingredient is conspicuous by its absence; there is **no oil** in this recipe. YAY!

3. Finally, a delicious treat that I always thought was too challenging to make at home, made easy by a fellow blogger. Besan ladoos are made from a toasted chickpea flour-sugar-ghee (clarified butter) mixture, shaped into portion-controlled treats by loving hands.

Tee from Bhaatukli has shared an awesome recipe for microwave besan ladoo that takes all the effort out of besan ladoo-making. I followed her directions exactly and needed about 7-8 1-minute bursts in my microwave for the chickpea flour to get all fragrant and toasty. The last step, shaping the ladoos, is a workout that requires all the strength in your fist to get beautiful ladoos like Tee's. Mine were passable :) I took the ladoos over to the home of our friends. All four of us that were gathered there had not tasted besan ladoos for years and years, and the look of pure joy on our faces as we bit into these...priceless!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Kolhapuri Bakarwadi

This is one of my entries for RCI: Maharashtrian Cuisine.
Maharashtrian cuisine, like the other Indian cuisines, has one category of recipes that is specially loved: all the crispy crunchy melt-in-the-mouth tea-time snacks! Some of these goodies are made specially for festivals, others are made in batches and stored in air-tight containers, waiting for friends and relatives to drop in unexpectedly. One of these special savory foods is called the bakarwadi. What is bakarwadi? You can think of it as a Swiss roll, only fiery hot! A savory filling is rolled into a chickpea dough, and slices of this roll are deep-fried. The resulting savory bites are a favorite tea-time treat, and also specially made during the festival of Diwali. When people in Maharashtra think of bakarwadi, they generally think of a particular type made famous by the Chitale Bandhu store in city of Pune. Their version is iconic, with its sweet-savory filling. While I am a huge fan of this style of bakarwadi, there is another kind that I am also very fond of. This is the lesser-known but no less delicious Kolhapur style bakarwadi and as with all good Kolhapuri food, it is redolent with chillies and garlic! Kolhapuris have a undying love affair with devastatingly pungent flavors in food, and this love is neatly packaged into that awesome snack called the Kolhapuri bakarwadi.

The truth is, if you live in Kolhapur, you don't need to waste your time making this bakarwadi at home. You just go over to a rather industrial section of town, to a nondescript store-front called Gruhini (means homemakers in Marathi) and buy piping hot bakarwadi that is better than anything one could ever make. This store is a kind of women's cooperative, where homemakers seeking an income work together and put their amazing culinary expertise to profitable use. At the back of the store, you can see a band of experts churning out the most amazing sweets (gulkand burfi or fudge, coconut burfi), dry chutneys and masala mixes, savory goodies (chakli, bakarwadi)...all with the true authentic taste of home, only made in slightly larger batches and sold commercially. At the front of the store, there is a chalkboard listing the goodies being made, all sold at extremely reasonable prices. This place is a blessing for everyone who loves the taste of old-fashioned food made with all-natural ingredients but who is short on time or does not have the know-how, or simply does not want to take the trouble of making a large-scale complicated recipe for a tiny family. People become adept at knowing what goodies are being made at what times, and you have to be smart and show up at the right time if you want to get your hands on it! When you ask for a kilo or so of bakarwadi, a couple of the women at the front counter will fill your order, and hand you a packet of bakarwadi so piping hot that there is condensation on the bag.

This week, my mom was eager to try some adventures in the kitchen with me. She had bought some bakarwadi for V and me from this store in Kolhapur, and when she saw how we wolfed it down, she offered to try making it at home. The last time she has made this was over 25 years ago, she says. Since that time, the Gruhini store has been feeding our habit! She looked around for a recipe and found one in a slim 1987 Marathi cookbook called Swad-Aswaad by Usha Toraskar and Vasantaprabha Chitnis. This is quite a challenging recipe, not really for the beginner cook. There are many steps at which you could face pitfalls- the dough might crack while rolling, or the rolls could fall apart while frying etc. So we were happily surprised at how tasty and successful our little experiment turned out. Here it is, the recipe in my mom's words. She starts by saying, "Caution: Be prepared for hot fumes coming from your ears and mouth. Keep your hankies ready!"

Bakarwadi (Kolhapur style)

(makes about 20 small pieces)
For the dough:
1 1/2 cups besan (chickpea flour), sieved
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1 1/2 tbsp oil
salt to taste
For the stuffing:
1 cup dry grated coconut
1/2 cup packed coriander (cilantro)
5 flakes garlic, peeled and chopped finely
1 inch piece ginger, peeled and chopped finely
2 green chillies
1 tsp garam masala
1 tbsp poppy seeds (khus-khus)
1 tbsp sesame seeds (til)
Oil for frying
1. Make the dough: Heat the oil, put in the besan, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, salt and make a stiff dough adding only a few spoonfuls of water as necessary. Divide the dough into 4 portions and set aside.
2. Make the stuffing: Lightly roast the dry coconut, sesame, poppy seeds, garlic, ginger, green chillies, cilantro. Add the garam masala, and salt to taste. Mix well and set aside.
3. Roll out one ball into a circle. The edges should be rolled as thin as possible, but the center should be relatively thicker.
4. Divide the stuffing into 4 portions. Sprinkle one portion of stuffing onto the dough circle.
5. Fold the four edges like an envelope and make a roll.
6. Cut each roll into 5 pieces or so.
7. Press the edges gently to hold in most of the stuffing while frying.
8. Deep-fry on slow fire until dark brown. If you fry on high heat, the inside of the roll will not get a chance to cook.

Tip: If the dough is not stiff, the bakarwadi will be soft and not stay crisp in the next few days.

We enjoyed this home-made bakar-wadi very much. This little trial made for an enjoyable time in the kitchen for my mother and me. But I don't see myself making this often...the deep-frying and the degree of difficulty being the two main reasons. I will save my appetite for the next trip to Gruhini instead!

Three of my favorite Maharashtrian dishes using Besan (Chickpea flour):
A delicious accompiment to dal and rice: Bhendi Fry
Two rustic favorites: Pithale and Zunka

See you at the U of Indian Vegetables on Sunday! Entries are being accepted all the way until Saturday night. It is a rather challenging letter but I am sure I will be impressed by the bloggers' entries yet again!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Monthly Mingle: Instant Dhokla

The theme for Meeta's Monthly Mingle this month is Savoury Cakes. After thinking of spicy cornbread and olive breads and this lovely cheese bread that our Italian friend BG once baked for us, I came full circle to the savoury cake I love best: dhokla. I know Meeta will get several dhokla recipes in her round-up, and here, I'm adding my very first experiment with making dhokla at home: Instant Microwave Dhokla.

In snack shops in Bombay, a very prominent sight is a huge tray on the counter piled high with squares of a delicate and spongy yellow savoury cake called dhokla. They disappear just as fast as a tray of gooey fudge-y brownies would in the US. Dhoklas come from the Gujarati tradition, and are one of the icons of that snack-loving cuisine.

A fermented batter made of seasoned chickpea flour is steamed into a spongy cake, then drizzled over with a spicy tempering mixture, "the icing on the cake". Gujarati food is famous for a touch of sweetness in every savory dish, and dhokla is no different. The mild sweetness in dhokla comes from either the addition of some sugar to the batter or by sprinkling the steamed cake with some sugar-water. Dhokla can be eaten by itself, or dipped into a sweet or spicy chutney. Some of the tastiest versions I have tasted are the sandwich dhoklas, layers of dhoklas sandwiched with green (chili-cilantro) chutney, in the manner of "layer cakes".

Short of actually fermenting the batter, instant dhokla can be made (just like a quick bread) with chemical leavening agents. One that is frequently seen in dhokla recipes is a brand called Eno's fruit salt, a combination of citric acid and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). When added to a batter (that is, in the presence of water), these two powders chemically react and release carbon dioxide, and the bubbles trapped in the batter result in a lovely sponge.

The recipe I decided on comes from Tarla Dalal's Microwave Desi Khana (desi is a term for "Indian" and khana is simply "Food").
This booklet is a cute little resource for making a bunch of Indian dishes entirely in the microwave. In the microwave, the dhokla is neatly made in 4 minutes or so. The recipe called for citric acid crystals to add tang to the batter and I was able to buy these in the Indian section of the international market. I could not find the Eno's fruit salt, and just substituted equal parts of citric acid and baking powder. Microwaves can vary quite a bit, so you may have to adjust the time required to cook the dhokla in your microwave. The tempering is an essential component of the dhokla. To my palate, the crunchy sesame seeds in the tempering are the best bit!

Instant Microwave Dhokla

(Adapted from Microwave Desi Khana by Tarla Dalal, makes 6 wedges, serves 2-3)
1. Grease/ Spray a microwave-safe bowl with vegetable oil and set aside. I used a 4-cup round Pyrex bowl.
2. In another bowl, combine 1/2 cup besan (chickpea flour), 1 tbsp rawa (semolina), 1/4 tsp citric acid crystals, 2 tsp sugar, 1 tsp finely minced ginger, 1 finely minced chili and salt to taste. Stir to mix, then add 1/2 cup water and mix well.
3. Combine 3/4 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp citric acid, then sprinkle it on the batter. Sprinkle a tablespoon of water on the powder to get the reaction started. Stir it gently into the batter, you will see merry bubbles forming!
4. Microwave on HIGH for 2 minutes or until the surface no longer looks very wet. Let the bowl stand for 2 more minutes (it will continue to cook during this time). At this time, the dhokla cake will leave the sides of the bowl. Invert onto a serving dish.
5. Meanwhile, prepare the tempering. Heat 1 tbsp oil, then add 1 tsp mustard seeds, 1 tsp cumin seeds, pinch of asafoetida and 1 tbsp sesame seeds. Take the tempering off the heat, stir in 2 tbsp minced cilantro and pour the tempering mixture over the dhokla. Cut into wedges and serve warm.

The verdict: While this is an instant microwave dhokla and will never taste exactly like the real thing, it still tastes great! I am very glad to add this recipe to my repertoire for a hot and tasty snack that is ready from start to finish in under 10 minutes. It will definitely satisfy tea-time cravings and feed friends who drop in unexpectedly. I think it tastes just fine by itself, but of course it would be even better with some tamarind chutney or green chutney.

Thanks, Meeta, for hosting! I'll be back in a couple of days, with another recipe prominently featuring sesame. Any guesses?

For the round-up, featuring a multitude of tasty savory cakes, click here!