Jangiri/ Emarti – Sweets for Diwali, Holi and pretty much any occasion!

IMG_4982

As a kid I was never too fond of sweets and would shy away from anything that was too sweet and dripping with syrup. The only exception was of course Gulab Jamun, but even that I could never have more than two at any one point.  My all time favourite sweet was always the soft Badushah with flaky centres and sugary yet crunchy exteriors.  Later when we moved to Bangalore, I had the opportunity to visit Adyar Anandha Bhavan and saw the cute mini jangiris and I instantly fell for their size and color! Strangely from that day I was hooked. I enjoy having one of those mini bite sized soft yet sweet jangiris for my instant sugar fix compulsions which would happen right after a heavy sunday lunch! Strangely my kids are like me – one of them loves Jangiri and the other loves Badushah, so I make them both every year for Deepavali.  Jangiri/ Emarti is also a famous delicacy prepared in the Northern parts of India for Holi – the festival of colours.

INGREDIENTS:

3/4 Cup Whole Urad Dhal.

A pinch of Salt.

Orange Food Colour as needed dissolved in 1 Tbsp of Water.

1 Tsp CornFlour.

1 Tsp Rice Flour.

SUGAR SYRUP:

2 1/2 Cups Sugar.

1 Cup Water.

1 Tsp Rose Essence.

1 Tsp Cardamom Powder.

1 Tsp Lemon Juice.

PREPARATION:

  • Soak the Urad Dhal for about a minimum of 3-4 hours at least with sufficient water.
  • Grind in wet grinder/ food processor with as little water as possible.
  • The batter should be light and airy as it would be when you make Dahi Vada.
  • If you feel its a little too runny, add rice flour and corn flour. Mix well as if you are beating the batter so its stays light and airy.
  • Add the orange food color to the urad dhal and  and mix gently.
  • Start making the sugar syrup to single string consistency.
  • Measure out the sugar, add water and keep on stove in medium flame.
  • Keep stirring and the solution will start to boil.
  • In a few minutes, the syrup would have reached single string consistency – When you pick up the ladle and allow the syrup  to drip, it will form a small stretchy thin string.
  • The other option to ascertain single string consistency is to dab a small drop of sugar solution on to your index finger and try to make a string with the thumb. If its stretches in to a thin line, you are done.
  • Switch off flame and add cardamom powder and rose essence and a few more drops of food colour.
  • Add a few drops of lemon juice to the syrup.
  • Set aside.
  • If you have a piping bag for using on cakes, use the medium nozzle and it should work fine.
  • Else take a large ziploc bag and open out completely.
  • Heat up an iron nail and make a hole in the middle of the ziploc bag. We use a heated nail as it would sear the sides of the ziploc and seal it from tearing on pressure.
  • Scoop the batter on to the ziploc and slowly pipe jangiris on to the oil.
  • The oil shd be on medium flame on a constant temperature.
  • Use a skewer and cook on both sides.
  • Remove when crisp and dunk in sugar syrup.
  • Wait for about 5 minutes at least before removing from syrup.
  • Continue and complete until the batter is done.
  • Gorgeous Jangiri/ Emarti is ready to be served.

HINTS:

  1. One of the most important aspect here it to make sure that the urad batter is light and fluffy. This makes the Jangiri/ Emarti absorb more syrup and gives you the right consistency.
  2. Sugar Solution Single String is also extremely  important so if required try it once before on your stove to note the settings. You can make so many different sweets with this consistency – Badushah, Kaju Katli, Boondhi Laddoo, Madatha Khaaja etc.IMG_4976

Aloo Kathi Roll / Tibbs Frankie -Bombay Street Food.

IMG_5106

 

“Brilliant!!!” was the first word that came to my mind when I saw the Tibbs Frankies Counter right outside the Globus Store in Chennai. It was everything packaged in to one tiny roll of goodness. When I bit in to the hot veggie frankie, I attained instant nirvana. It was a combination of sorts – spicy, tart, chunky and crunchy. It was a match made in heaven. Since that day it has been something that makes me go weak in the knees. I confess to even choosing Globus over some of the other stores, simply with the knowledge that we would have the frankie. When we moved to the US, it was one of those things that I missed the most…well, apart from Woodlands Pongal, Sangeetha`s Pineapple Kesari, Madras Bhel Puri House Bhel Puri, Hot Chips Samosa Chat, Saravana Bhavan Parotta Kurma, and Mainland China`s Dumplings to say the least! I had to make my own version and the first step was getting the Frankie Masala. On my last trip to India, I got the Kapol`s Frankie Masala and I must say its a keeper.  My version is inspired by many on the internet and of course my own spin to it. Hope you enjoy it!

INGREDIENTS:

1 Medium Onion.

1 Tsp Frankie Masala.

1 Cup Wheat Flour.

1 Cup Unbleached Organic All Purpose Flour.

Salt to taste.

For the Stuffing:

2 Medium Sized Potatoes boiled with salt and mashed.

1 Tsp Cumin Powder.

1 Green Chilli Chopped.

1/2 Tsp Red Chilli Powder.

1/2 Tsp Chat Masala.

1/2 Tsp Garam Masala Powder.

Salt if needed.

1/2 Cup Bread Crumbs.

1/2 Tsp Sugar. (Optional).

For The Green Chutney:

2 Tbsp Thick Curd.

1 Green Chilli.

2 Tbsp Roughly Chopped Ginger.

1/2  Cup Packed Cilantro Leaves.

3-4 Mint Leaves. (Optional).

A few drops of lemon juice or 1/2 Tsp Kala Namak.

PREPARATION:

  • Prepare the outer dough just like you would for rotis. Add the all purpose flour,  maida and salt and using just enough water roll in to a pliable dough. Smear a thin layer of oil and cover tightly until use. You can also use whole wheat flour completely if needed.
  • Chop a medium onion in to thin long slices. Squeeze half a lemon on the onions and top with 1/2 Tsp Chat Masala. Set aside.
  • In a kadai add a tsp of oil and add the green chillies and the mashed potatoes. Follow up with all the dry spices – Cumin Powder, Red Chilli Powder, Chat Masala and Garam Masala Powder and give it a quick saute.
  • Remove from the kadai, trasfer to a bowl and add more salt if needed after tasting. Add about 1/2 cup  of bread crumbs and gently mix.
  • For bread crumbs just add one loaf of bread to the mixie jar and quickly pulse.
  • At this point the stuffing should have a thick cutlet dough like consistency. Roll in to cylindrical pieces and shallow fry until browned on all sides.
  • IMG_5092
  • Puree the curd, cilantro, green chilli, mint leaves and ginger to a smooth consistency. If you don’t want to use curd, just add a few drops of water.  Season with a pinch of kala namak (black salt) or lemon juice. Transfer to a bowl.
  • Kathi Rolls are pretty much assembled just before serving them so they dont get soggy.
  • Arrange all the ingredients required – Stuffing, warm rotis. green chutney, chopped cilantro, seasoned onions and optionally chat masala powder or frankie masala powder.
  • Lay out the roti and place two of the potatoe rolls on one side.

IMG_5101

  • Top with green chutney, chopped cilantro, and onions and sprinkle chat masala.
  • Gingerly roll tightly and pack one end in to a small sheet of aluminum foil.
  • Serve fresh!

 HINTS:

  1. You can sunstitute half the boiled potatoes and replace it with paneer instead.
  2. You can marinate the panneer / aloo in achari masala and then sear it to make Achari Panneer Kathi Rolls.
  3. Leftover stuffing can be easily reused the next day for kids lunchboxes in the form of sandwiches.

 

 

 

 

Ginger Rasam – No Need of Rasam Powder !!!

IMG_5083

There are really only two ways people look at Ginger – They either love it or they hate it! In my opinion Ginger is pretty under rated. We use it in appetisers, main courses, salads, dressings, desserts, cookies and even bread! It supposedly helps with digestion, is an effective cure for coughs and colds, boosts immunity and helps combat cancer. In the long list of medicinal properties I love the fact that its been around for thousands of years. In fact I love it in my tea for the zing that it provides. I have been contemplating making my own ginger cough drops, but that`s a project for another day. Ginger Rasam needs no prep work and no Rasam Powder. It`s one of those things you can prep,cook and finish in under 30 minutes or less. Use it as a rasam or simply drink it as soup. Its hearty, warming and extremely good for you.

One word of caution – I see many varieties of ginger in the markets. The smaller thinner varieties are in my opinion more potent so slightly reduce the quantity thats recommended. I use the slightly fatter bigger variety thats available in the Indian stores in the US.

INGREDIENTS:

1 Ripe Tomato.

2 Cups Diluted Tamarind Water.

1/4 Cup Cooked Toor Dhal.

1 Inch Ginger Crushed roughly.

1 Tsp Crushed Pepper.

1/4 Tsp Turmeric.

1 Tbsp Jaggery or 2 Tsp Sugar.

Salt to taste.

Cilantro to garnish.

Temper:

2 Tsp Ghee.

1 Tsp Mustard Seeds.

1 Tsp Jeera.

1 Green Chilli sliced long.

1 Tbsp Grated Ginger.

Handful of curry leaves.

Pinch of Hing.

PREPARATION:

  • Chop the tomatoes fine. Grate the ginger as needed. Crush the 1 inch piece in your mortar.
  • Dilute the 1/4 Cup cooked toor dhal with enough water and bring it to about 1 cup.
  • In a heavy bottomed vessel heat the ghee and slowly add the ingredients for tempering – Mustard Seeds, Cumin seeds, slit chilli, grated ginger, hing and the curry leaves .
  • When they splutter add the chopped tomatoes and allow to saute until soft.
  • In a few minutes add the diluted 2 cups of tamarind water and then the turmeric powder, salt, crushed ginger, and the crushed black pepper.
  • This broth has to boil and slightly reduce until all the raw smell is gone.
  • When done, add the  1 cup of diluted cooked toor dhal water and mix.
  • When it setttles down add about 1 tbsp jaggery or 1 1/2 tsp of sugar as needed.
  • Boil the rasam on medium flame so it slowly starts frothing and just begins to boil.
  • Switch off the flame and garnish with chopped cilantro.
  • Keep the vessel tightly closed until its time to serve.
  • Delicious Ginger Rasam can be mixed with rice or simply drink it like soup!!

HINTS:

  1. Some peoople do not prefer to taste the grated ginger pieces. In such cases just mash up the ginger in to rough chunks.
  2. It`s a great option as a hot warming soup.
  3. Moderate the amount of jaggery/ sugar so as to give the rasam a hint of sweetness over the sharpness of the ginger and the pepper.

 

 

Madatha Khaaja

IMG_4920

Madatha Khaja is  a very new delicacy to me, comparitively as I grew up in Madras all my life. My encounters with any sweets began and ended at home. Madurai amma always made Boondhi laddoo every Deepavali along with Badam Halwa and sometimes rarely Carrot Halwa.  Sometimes a guest who comes home would get us Badushah or Jangiri or  Krishna Sweets Mysurpa and we would all relish it. When Sri Krishna sweets opened up their first branch in Chennai , at T.Nagar near my home, I was super excited. I remember we went there and they offered Badam Milk to all their customers  for at least a week! It was a totally new concept – to allow sampling! You could point to any sweet you wanted, and they would oblige with a small sample. Imagine my joy! I tasted each and every one of them and of course fell in love with each of their unique tastes. I specially remember being totally amazed with their Mysurpa and its instant rich creamy melt in the mouth taste. Their Badam Halwa is also unique in its flavor and color, tainted with the rich aroma of saffron and slathered with generous portions of clarified butter!

Moving to the US after marriage, allowed me to try out unique dishes from other cultures from my own diverse country. I had friends from Andhra Pradhesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Kerala etc and along with that came insights in to their own tastes and delicacies. My good friend L once made Khaja during Deepavali and I fell for its flavour and its flaky layers soaked in sugar syrup! I had to get more of them I knew. Around the same time I saw that many sweet stores in Chennai also started stocking Khaja. It was amazing! But I knew that I wanted to make my own some day! This version was taught to me by a good friend and I was literally sold. It was flaky, sweet, bite sized and looked very cute! Try it and I am sure  you`ll love it!

INGREDIENTS:

1 Cup Maida/ APF

1 Tsp Rice Flour.

1 Tsp Besan.

2 Tsp Ghee/ Oil/ Vanaspati.

A pinch of salt.

6 Tsp Ghee.

Sugar Syrup:

1 Cup Sugar.

1 Tsp Cardamom Powder.

A few drops rose essence.

1/2 Cup Water.

PREPARATION:

  • A wide bowl works best for making this dough – Add all purpose flour, the 6 tsp ghee, a pinch of salt and using enough water, mix into a smooth dough. This dough must rest and stay moist, so cover with a moist kitchen towel/ napkin. Set aside.
  • Prepare the sugar syrup to single string consistency – Add the 1 cup sugar and half the water (1/2 Cup) to a vessel and keep stirring on medium flame. In about 8-10 minutes, you should see that the sugar solution turns slightly syrupy and when you try to drip the solution from the ladle, it forms a string. This is the right consistency. Its imperative that you reach the right consistency for the solution to get syrupy enough to coat the khaja and render it sweet and crystallise over the sweet. This is exactly the same that you would do for the Badushah or Shakkarpara.
  • Flavour the syrup with rose essence and cardamom powder as needed.
  • Combine 1 Tsp Rice Flour, 1 Tsp Besan and 2 Tsp Ghee to form a paste.

IMG_4889

  • Divide the rested dough in to three equal parts and roll them all out in to thin rotis.
  • Use the rice flour besan paste to coat the maida roti on the bottom. Spread it evenly with your finger or a silicon brush.
  • Place the second roti over the first and press uniformly to remove any air bubbles trapped.
  • Coat the second roti also with the rice flour ghee paste.
  • Place the third roti over the second and firmly press to allow uniform surface.
  • Roll the 3 latered roti tightly to form a long log.

IMG_4896

  • Slice about 1 inch pieces from the log and using the rolling pin, press each roll length wise or breadth wise as needed.
  • Fry on medium low heat until the khajas turn golden brown.
  • Dunk the fried khajas in the sugar solution for a couple minutes and set on a clean sheet of parchment paper/ wire rack to cool.

IMG_4901

  • When the khajas cool up, the sugar coating on the top dries up to give it a beautiful sheen!
  • Enjoy Madatha Khajas for Sankranti.

IMG_4911

Simple Onion Tomato Subzi

IMG_1420

“Cooking is like love – It should be entered into with abandon, or not at all”

Some of the best and my most favorite dishes, are the ones that are made at home with love,  over unhurried conversations. I remember the days when I was a little girl and would sit on the counter top while my mom would be busy cooking the evening dinner. I would fill her up on the days events, gossips, stories of friendship, exams and little fights at school, all the time I would be aware of all the ingredients that go in to a dish and its special secret steps which would have otherwise gone unnoticed! This is a favourite dish made by my aunt and all of us would gorge on it. Whenever there was a long drive or a train travel, we would actually look forward to this simple subzi and pooris, more than anything else. Its profound flavors are built on simple everyday ingredients and it tastes simply amazing. This is my entry for this month`s Shh Secretly Cooking Challenge , my secret ingredients being Onion and Sugar!!!

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 Onions chopped fine.

4 Tomatoes Chopped Fine.

2 Tsp Sugar.

1/4 Tsp Turmeric Powder.

1 – 11/2 Tsp Red Chilli Powder.

Salt as needed.

1/4 Tsp Garam Masala.

PREPARATION:

  • This has got to be the most simplest of all the subzis that you make for pooris, parathas and roti. This is also a great option when you want to take it as a side dish for long drives or train travels.
  • Add 2 Tbsp of oil to a kadai and allow to get hot enough . Check by adding one or two cumin seeds, if it sizzles,the oil is just right.
  • Add the onion and allow to saute for a few minutes.
  • Now add the tomatoes, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, salt to taste and allow to the tomatoes to cook and get mushy.
  • Add the sugar and let it melt and mix in.
  • When you see the mixture has come together, switch off the stove and garnish with chopped cilantro.
  • Saute for a little more time so it preserves longer for travel times.
  • Great side for Dosa, Poori and Chappathis.

 

 

 

Chettinadu Masala Vadai – Tea Kadai Style!

IMG_4856

Always always, memories are woven in to every little item, or episode that’s close to our hearts. Sometimes, its the first time you had won a contest growing up, the first time your parents felt very proud of your accomplishments, a favorite train journey, eating out at a favourite restaurant, memories of festivals, new clothes, shopping, first gold jewelry, first cycle…suddenly the wheels spin faster and faster until the memories simply rush in and lift you up in a daze…Memories can do that to you, take you about 20 years back in a flash and make you feel the same feelings you felt then…the happiness, sorrow, despair, joy, pain…anything…something that you keep in your little brain, tucked away…

My first career posting was at a bank and I had this really close friend of mine, M. She and I used to enjoy eating out now and then and we shared the same culinary preferences. Sometimes it would be at a simple restaurant, or a bhel puri joint, or even a cup of tea and this Madras Tea Kadai Masala Vadai. The aroma was just astounding. Sometimes in the evenings, we would ask the office boy to get us some tea and this vadai and chat up in the break room for a few minutes. It was pure bliss! Every bite filled with the flavourful crunch of this vadai, with the aroma of fennel and onions wafting…I can grab on to that memory for a second….and almost enjoy it right now! I had to recreate this vadai and had asked the boy who gave me a rough recipe and ran away! Recreating it after all these years, made me almost go there and relive those moments.

INGREDIENTS:

1 Cup Channa Dal.

1 Tbsp Raw Rice.

Small Onions – 12-15 diced finely /  1 Medium Onion Chopped fine..

2 Tbsp Chopped Cilantro.

2 Tbsp Chopped Fresh Mint Leaves.

Salt to taste.

A small pinch of Garam Masala.

Handful curry leaves crushed.

1 1/2 Tbsp Rice Flour or as needed.

Masala Base to be pulsed:

1 Inch Ginger.

5 Cloves of Garlic.

2 Tsp Fennel Seeds.

1Red Chilli.

2 Green Chillies.

4-5 Mint Leaves.

PREPARATION:

  • Soak the channa dal and rice together for about 3-4 hours in water enough to immerse.
  • When its time to make the vadas, drain the channa dal and rice on to a collander and allow to sit for a couple minutes.
  • In a small mixer container, roughly pulse all the ingredients under Masala Base – Ginger, Garlic, mint leaves, fennel seeds, red chilli, green chillies.
  • Now add half of the drained channa dal and allow to roughly pulse. The channa dal should NOT be ground to  a smooth paste. The consistency should be rough and grainy.
  • Now grind the other half to a same grainy consistency and transfer to a mixing bowl.
  • Add salt, finely chopped shallots, mint, cilantro, curry leaves and the required rice flour to accomodate any extra moisture and to give the vadais some crispness. Taste the batter to make sure that the salt is not too much. If you feel so, add a little more rice flour/ rava and mix it in.
  • When the dough comes together, make balls and lightly flatten to resemble a patty.
  • Pour enough oil in to a shallow flat bottomed kadai and keep on medium heat. As you make little vadas in the palm of your hand, gently drop them in to oil.
  • When the vadai is dropped in the oil, let the heat be medium high.  When they are cooking, bring the heat down to a medium and allow to slowly fry on both sides.
  • Drain on to collander lined with a paper towel.
  • Delicious crisp Tea Kadai Masala Vadai is ready and can be served with steaming hot cups of coffee or tea.

HINTS:

  1. Adding rice flour is completely optional and only mentioned to adjust the final consistency.
  2. Do not add water to the dal while pulsing. Use short pulses to bring them to a rough consistency.
  3. Keeping the oil at the right temperature is important to achieve uniform cooking of the vadais.
  4. Garam Masala is added only a pinch. If you feel that the smell is too overpowering, you can avoid this step.

IMG_4852

Cabbage Rice – And no one will know its cabbage!

IMG_5023

Cabbage has always been a vegetable that’s regularly cooked in  my mother`s home as its extremely nutritious and rich in vitamins and  minerals. As a kid,  I would hate the unpleasant aroma of cabbage in the process of getting cooked.  My grandmother loved making Cabbage Thoran by simply garnishing cooked cabbage with a dash of roughly pulsed green chillies and coconut. The fresh raw spice from the green chillies, swathed on the seemingly innocent cabbage, would zing it up to a whole new level.  I also make Cabbage Avial and sometimes simply season and cook cabbage and peas together. Still YUM! I was looking for a one pot meal to include cabbage and Mallika Badrinath`s version seemed to be on the same lines as my Pudina Rice Recipe. One can never ever go wrong with a mint-cilantro-green chilli base! I tweaked it by adding just cilantro!  And we have a winner!!!

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/4 Cups Basmati Rice.

2 1/2 Cups Water.

A few drops of ghee/ oil.

3 Cups Cabbage Diced.

1/2 Cup Frizen Peas.

1 Onion diced fine.

1 Green Chilli Sliced long.

A pinch of turmeric.

Salt as needed.

Ground Masala Base:

1/3 Cup Grated Coconut .

1 Tbsp Pottu Kadalai/ Chutney Dhal/ Cashew Nuts.

1 Tsp Poppy Seeds/ khus Khus.

3 Cloves.

1 Inch Piece Cinnamon.

1 Bunch Tender Coriander Leaves.

2 Green Chillies.

Seasoning:

3 Tbsp Oil/ Ghee.

1 Tsp Jeera.

1 Tsp Channa Dal.

1 Tsp Urad Dhal.

1/2 Tsp Mustard Seeds.

A few broken cashew nuts.

6-7 Torn Curry Leaves.

1/4 Tsp Hing.

1/4 Tsp Cardamom Powdered (Optional)

PREPARATION:

  • Wash the rice until the water is clear and add the measured water, a drop of ghee,  and cook in the rice cooker. When done allow the rice to cool for some time.
  • Grind all the ingredients that’s required for the masala base . Add the cashew/dalia, red chillies, whole spices, coconut and then finally the cilantro. Pulse to a dry rough mix.
  • Take a large wok and add about 3 tbsp of oil. Temper with the above mentioned seasonings and add the diced onion and the sliced green chili.
  • Add the pulsed masala mix and incorporate in to the kadai. Stir for a couple minutes.
  • Add the shredded cabbage, peas, turmeric powder, a little salt and sprinkle a few drops of water. Cover and cook but take care that the cabbage never gets burnt.
  • The cabbage has an unpleasant aroma when over cooked but since it cooks in the ground masala, this smell is completely morphed.
  • When the cabbage is well cooked,  add the cooked and cooled rice.
  • Mix the rice in to the flavored cabbage in the kadai and gently turn without breaking the rice grains.
  • When well mixed, taste and adjust for salt.
  • Delicious cabbage rice can be served with Carrot Raita and chips.