Mirch Bhajiye

Mirchiyon ke bhajiye, or stuffed deep fried chillies in a thick chickpea flour batter is a very common sight as a snack item loved my almost all Indians. Its one among the top rated street foods dear to every Bharatiya.

Mirch Bhajiye – Stuffed Deep fried Green Chillies

In this cold and chilly weather, I had prepared these as a snack. Actually I was missing Hyderabad so much and felt very nostalgic. It was necessary for me to have Mirch Bhajiye atleast once weekly, or even better more than that when I used to live in Hyderabad. My Ammi used to prepare them for us all, or we used to get them from the Chaat-Walas while shopping at Abids along with the delicious array of chutneys they offer.

Slit Serrano chillies

I use serrano chillies for preparing these bhajiye, you can however use any kind of long fat and straight green chillies that you like.

Mirch Bhajiye – Stuffed Deep fried Green Chillies

Ingredients:

Serrano chillies – 12, straight
Oil for deep frying

For the stuffing-

Roasted coconut paste – 1/2 tsp
Roasted groundnut paste – 1/2 tsp
Roasted Sesame seed paste – 1/2 tsp
Roasted Coriander seed powder – 1/2 tsp
Tamarind concentrate – 2 tbsp
Salt – to taste

For the batter:

Besan Batter

Chickpea flour/Besan – 300 gms
Red chilli powder – 1 tsp
Salt – to taste
Ajwain – 1/2 tsp
Water

Method:

  • Wash and pat dry the chillies. Slit them with the tip of a knife and carefully remove the seeds from inside. (Be careful with your hands while you do this. Do not rub you eyes with your hands while doing this or else they will burn. When all the chillies are done, wash your hands well in warm soapy water)
Stuffed Chilli
  • In a mortar and pestle, add all the ingredients for the stuffing and make a paste. Stuff the chillies with the prepared stuffing and keep aside.
  • In a seperate bowl, add the flour and spices and mix well with a fork. Add water, just a little at a time, to make a thick and smooth batter. (Make sure the batter is not thin)
  • Heat a Kadai or Wok at medium heat. Gently dip the stuffed chillies in the batter to cover them completely and slowly drp them into the hot oil. Deep dry until golden brown in color. Serve warm.

Suggested Accompaniments: Enjoy this snack along with any chutney of your wish.

Wishing every Indian a very Happy Republic Day. Mera Bharat Mahaan!

Luv,
Mona

Basic How To’s: Series III~ Essential spice powders and pastes

Basic How To: Essential spice powders and pastes

Dry roasted cumin and coriander seed powders, dry roasted coconut paste, dry roasted groundnut paste are essential spices powders and pastes need for the preparation of masala curries that are a regular in my house, like Baghare baingan, Mirchi ka Salan, Qorma, etc. For my convenience I stock up on a few roasted spice powders and pastes that last indefinitely when stored in the freezer, and it really helps quicken the cooking process of the dish.
Here’s how I prepare and store them:

Roasted Cumin seed powders:
Dry roast 1 cup cumin seeds in a tawa/pan at medium high heat until lightly toasted and just golden brown in color, let cool down and powder it in a spice grinder until very fine. Store them separately in small glass air tight jars at room temperature. Use within 4-6 months.

Roasted Coriander seed powders:
Dry roast 1 cup coriander seeds in a tawa/pan at medium high heat until lightly toasted and just golden brown in color, let cool down and powder it in a spice grinder until very fine. Store them separately in small glass air tight jars at room temperature. Use within 4-6 months.

Roasted Coconut paste:
Dry roast 1 cup unsweetened shredded dry coconut in a tawa/pan at medium high heat until lightly toasted and just golden brown in color. Remove the pan from heat and let the it cool down. In a spice grinder, add the roasted coconut and process until the natural oils are released. Keep scraping the sides and process until it is a very fine paste/powder. Transfer to a freezer safe container, cover and store in freezer in small plastic air tight boxes for future use. It lasts indefinitely.

Roasted Sesame seed paste:
Dry roast 1 cup sesame seeds in a pan/tawa at medium high heat until lightly toasted and just golden brown in color, let cool down. In a spice grinder, add the roasted sesame seeds and process until the natural oils are released. Keep scraping the sides and process until it is a very fine paste/powder. Transfer to a freezer safe container, cover and store in freezer in small plastic air tight boxes for future use. It lasts indefinitely.

Roasted Groundnut/Peanut paste/butter:
Dry roast 1 cup shelled peanuts in a tawa/pan at medium high heat until lightly toasted and just golden brown in color. Remove the pan from heat and let the peanuts cool down just a little bit. Rub the skin off the peanuts using a kitchen towel while they are still warm. In a food processor or a spice grinder, add the roasted skinned peanut halves and process until the natural oils are released. Keep scraping the sides and process until it is a very fine paste/powder. Transfer to a freezer safe container, cover and store in freezer in small plastic air tight boxes for future use. It lasts indefinitely.

Chaat Masala: (Recipe Source: Homemakers)
2 tbsp  (30 mL)  coriander seeds
2 tbsp  (30 mL)  cumin seeds
1 tsp  (5 mL)  ajwain (carom) or fennel seeds
4 tsp  (20 mL)  black salt
1 tbsp  (15 mL)  (green mango powder)
1-1/2 tsp  (7 mL)  Garam masala
1 tsp  (5 mL)  cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp  (2 mL)  asafetida powder (hing)
1/4 tsp  (1 mL)  ground ginger

Toast coriander, cumin and ajwain seeds separately over medium-low heat until fragrant. Grind to fine powder. Mix with black salt, amchoor, garam masala, cayenne, asafetida and ginger.
Store in airtight container for up to 1 year.

This post is my contribution to the event Back to Basics originally stated by Jaya, and currently being hosted by Aqua at Served with Love.

Luv,
Mona

Ful Masala

Sauteed Beans are my favorite during these wintry seasons. One such dish that I usually prepare when Fava beans are available in the market is Ful masala.

Ful (fool) in Arabic are called as Fava beans or broad beans in English. Ful-Roti was my favorite combination during my stay in Saudi Arab. Most of the restaurants in Saudi sell Ful and we enjoyed it along with Tameiz, a kind of delicious bread sold in the Saudi markets. My friend had posted the recipe for Tameiz sometime back on her blog.

Cooked Ful /Fava Beans

Dried Fava beans are available in Walmart Supercentres, and usually at many middle-eastern grocery shops. 

These beans have a meaty texture and a distinct taste. I sometimes add the puree of fava beans to curries as it adds body, thickness and nutrition to gravy curries.

Ful Masala – Fava Beans in a Tomato-Garlic Sauce

Ingredients:

  • Extra Virgin Olive oil – 2 tbsp
  • Yellow Onion – 1 cup, finely sliced
  • Garlic – 1 tbsp, finely chopped
  • Roasted Cumin powder – 1/4 tsp
  • Red chilli powder – 1 1/2 tsp
  • Salt – to taste
  • Tomato puree – 3/4 cup
  • Tomato Ketchup – 3 tbsp
  • Fava beans – 1 can
  • Cilantro – 1 tbsp (for garnish)

Ful Masala – Fava Beans in a Tomato-Garlic Sauce

Method:

  • Drain and rinse the fava beans if you are using canned fava beans, and keep aside. If using dried fava beans, wash and soak them in surplus water overnight in a cool dark place. Drain the water. Using fresh cool salted water, pressure cook them until soft. Keep aside.
  • Pour oil into a nonstick kadai or wok at medium high heat. As it warms up, add the onion and let it caramelize until nicely golden brown in color. 
  • Add garlic and saute for a few minutes. Add cumin powder, red chilli powder and salt. Pour the tomato puree and tomato ketchup. Mix well. Let it cook for 2 minutes. 
  • Add the fava beans and gently mix with the tomato sauce. Cover the lid and let cook for 3 minutes. 
  • Garnish with cilantro and serve warm.

Suggested Accompainments: Enjoy Ful along with Tameiz, Pita bread, or your regular Roti or Rice.

Cheers,
Mona

Perfect Pound Cake

Pound cakes are my favorite for a quick breakfast. Slice them up, spread a jam of your choice, or enjoy them as it is, and you are good to go until lunch. I usually bake a pound cake once every month. I also savor them along with a cup of warm tea in the evenings. Heres the recipe that I follow –

Source: Everyday Food

Pound Cake
Serves: 8

Ingredients:

Unsalted butter – 1 cup (2 sticks), room temperature, plus more for pan
All-purpose flour- 1 1/2 cups, (spooned and leveled), sifted, plus more for pan
Granulated sugar – 1 cup
Vanilla powder – 1 teaspoon
Eggs – 5 large, room temperature, lightly beaten
Coarse salt – 1/2 teaspoon

Sliced Pound Cake

Note: Let refrigerated butter sit at room temperature for 30 minutes; it should hold an indentation when pressed. If your eggs are cold, submerge them in warm water for 15 minutes.

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly butter and flour a 4 1/2-by-8 1/2-inch loaf pan (I used a Bundt pan). In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium-high until very light and fluffy, 7 minutes. Scrape down bowl and beat 1 minute more. Add vanilla, then gradually add eggs, beating well and scraping down bowl as needed. With mixer on low, add salt, then gradually add flour, beating well to combine and scraping down bowl as needed.
2. Transfer batter to pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 65 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack, 1 hour. Remove cake from pan and let cool completely on rack before slicing. (To Store, wrap in plastic and keep at room temperature, up to 3 days.

Alterations
1. Brown Sugar, Maple and Nut Pound Cake:
Swap 1/2 cup light brown sugar for 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 2 tbsp pure maple syrup for vanilla.
Fold 1 cup nuts of choice (walnuts, pecans, pinenuts, almonds, etc) lightly toasted and chopped, into batter before transferring to pan.

2. Berry Cornmeal Pound Cake:
Swap 1/2 cup fine ground yellow cornmeal for 1/4 cup flour
Fold 2 cups mixed berries, such as blueberries, raspberries, gently tossed with 1 tbsp flour, into batter before transferring to pan.

3. Double Chocolate Pound Cake:
Swap 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder for 1/4 cup flour
Fold 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped or chips, into batter before transferring to pan.

4. Citrus Glazed Pound Cake:
Add 1 tsp lemon zest plus 2 tsp lemon juice and 1 tbsp orange juice to batter along with vanilla and eggs.
Make a glaze by whisking together 1 cup confectioners sugar, 1 tbsp lemon juice and 1 tbsp orange juice until smooth. Pour citrus glaze over cooled cake.

Note: To freeze the cake- When the cake is cool, wrap in plastic. Freeze for upto 3 weeks. Thaw, wrapped, at room temperature.

Cheers,
Mona

Shaami, Shikampur aur Kofte

I remember when I was kid, my mother used to get up early and prepare the whole days meal while we were all still sleeping, and also fix everybody’s lunch boxes, sometimes each one different from one another according to the likes of each person. By lunch time in the school, tired and bored, lunch was always what I looked forward to. Yummy and heartfully delicious simple home food to satisty the hungry stomach. Later, when I was in the junior college, I had to stay away from my parents. I then seriously missed food, especially filling lunches. That is when I began to develop a like for Shaami-sandwiches for lunch everyday. My mother would prepare Shaami in bulk, and send to me. I used to store them in the freezer, content and happy. That is when I learnt to prepare these.

Shaami, Shikampur and Kofta are all prepared the same way from a dough like cooked meat+dal+spices paste. Boneless/Minced meat is cooked dry along with lentils, onions and spices to perfection, along with a few fresh herbs, spices and chillies. This is then ground to a dough like paste which is then shaped into various kinds. If you shape it into a diamond like oblong kawabs, it is called as ‘Shaami‘, if you shape it into a small patty with a finely chopped onion+yogurt+herb relish, it is called as ‘Shikampur‘, and if you shape them into small golf balls, they are called as ‘Kofta‘. Each of them are shallow fried in oil and then eaten.

Preparing the meat+dal mixture before hand, and storing it in sandwich bags, like I have explained below, saves a lot of time. Infact during my holidays, I buy the ingredients for this in bulk, and prepare and store them in the freezer for future use. Comes extremely handy to me.

You can serve Shaami and Shikampur as snacks along with chutney to your guests, or add them between your sandwich bread for lunch, between burger buns for a delightful meal, or you can add a few Shaami along with little chutney, salad and mayonnaise and roll them between a Paratha as a wrap. Kids will love it.

Shaami and Shikampur and Kofte – Fragrant and Spicy Meat Kababs

Ingredients:

Boneless Lamb/Veal meat (or) Minced Lamb/Veal meat – 700 gms
Yellow onions – 2 large, roughly chopped
Chana Dal – 1 cup (pre-soaked for 1 hour and drained)
Turmeric – 1/4 tsp
Red Chilli powder/Lal mirch powder – 3 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
Garam masala powder- 1 tsp
Cinnamon sticks/Dalchini – one 8 cm long stick
Salt – 3 tsp
Ginger garlic paste – 2 tbsp
Green Serrano chillies (or) Small green chillies – around 12, roughly chopped
Small Thai Red chillies – 3, chopped (optional)
Lemon juice – 4 tbsp
Cilantro – 1 cup, roughly chopped

Method:

1. In a pressure cooker at medium high heat, pour half cup water, and add lamb, pre-soaked dal, chopped onions, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, salt, cumin seeds, and ginger garlic paste and cinnamon stick. Mix well. Close the lid and let it pressure cook until the meat is tender. Later, open the lid and let it cook until all the liquid has evaporated and it is mostly a dry mixture. There should be no water in the mixture left. This is important, else you will not be able to properly shape them later on and they will end up cracking while you shallow fry them in the end.
2. Let the mixture cool down. Once cool, remove and discard the cinnamon stick. Add the mixture to a food processor. Throw in the cilantro, garam masala powder, chillies, lemon juice and process without adding any water until smooth and pasty. The mixture is ready.

During earlier times, this mixture was grinded using a Sil-Batta or a grinding stone from the past. Sil referring to flat stone and Batta referring to a cylindrical grinding stone. The process must have been a vigorous exercise for arms.

Method of storing the extra meat mixture for future use:

Meat mixture packed in Sandwich bags to be stored frozen for later use

I often prepare the meat mixture for Shaami/Shikampur and Kofta in bulk at a time. Once the mixture is cool enough to handle, store the extra amount in ziplock sandwich bags. Stack them up and freeze for future use. When you feel like having it, take a few sandwich bags out of the freezer and keep them on the countertop until they defrost to room temperature. Shape them into Shaami or Shikampur or Kofta and shallow fry them to serve. It saves a lot of my time this way.

***

To prepare Shaami:

1. Wash your hands clean. Take a small amount of cool water/oil into a cup. Take the above prepared meat mixture, the size of a golf ball into your hands. Dipping your right hand fingertips into the water, shape the mixture into a oblong diamond shaped Shaami(as shown in the picture above). Keep aside. Continue preparing Shaami until you get the number of Shaami you need.
2. In a small frying pan at medium high heat, pour little oil and shallow fry the Shaami until crisp dark brown on each side. Shallow fry them in batches and serve warm.

***

To prepare Shikampur:

1. Finely chop 1 medium onion, 1 tbsp fresh cilantro, 1 tbsp fresh mint leaves, and 4 small green chillies. Add 2 tbsp hung thick yogurt and salt to taste. Mix well. This is the yogurt relish. (Prepare more of this if you are planning to make many Shikampur for a large crowd)
2.Wash your hands clean. Take a small amount of cool water/oil into a cup. Take the above prepared meat mixture, the size of a golf ball into your hands. Make a well in the centre and add about a tablespoon of the relish prepared in the above step. Working gently with your hands, bring the edges together and cover the filling properly to shape into a flattened patty(as shown in the picture above).
3. In a small frying pan at medium high heat, pour little oil and shallow fry the Shikampur until crisp dark brown on each side. Shallow fry them in batches and serve warm.

***

To prepare Kofta:

1. Wash your hands clean. Take a small amount of cool water/oil into a cup. Take the above prepared meat mixture, the size of a golf ball into your hands. Wetting your palms with little water, shape the mixture into smooth balls and keep aside. Continue preparing the koftas until you get the number you need.
2. In a small frying pan at medium high heat, pour little oil and shallow fry the kofta’s, a few at a time, until crisp dark brown on their sides.
(Note: Koftas prepared this way are used in Kofte Ka Qorma)

***

You can also prepare Nagrisi Koftey using this same meat mixture.

Tip: If you feel like the meat mixture you have prepared for shaami, shikampur or kofta is very loose and not tight enough to hold a shape, dry roast about 2 tbsp or more of gram flour/besan for a few seconds, and once cool add it to the meat mixture. Mix well and you will now be able to shape it better. Add more if you require.

Luv,
Mona