Pudina aur Khopra ki Chutney

I simply adore mint leaves. Its clean citrusy taste, refreshing aroma and artistic curly rich green colored leaves, all make me fall in love with it over and over again. I wait for spring/summer time every year so as to plant mint outdoors in pots. It grows easily and vigorously once established and provides me with fresh leaves all summer.

Mint from my garden

The Arabic name for mint is ‘nanaa’. The mint from the holy city of Madinah is famous for its strong and wonderful aroma. During visits to Madinah one can see people selling fresh mint leaves at every corner. The mint is kept fersh covered under wet hessian cloths. Mint that doesnt get sold is dried under the hot sun and sold. People of Madinah enjoy mint as a mouth refreshner, or in teas or in their food.

Clockwise from top: Mint leaves, Dessicated Coconut, Phulay Chane

The below verison is a mild chutney with use of phulay chane and coconut in it. I enjoy this chutney along with idli, dosa, evening snacks, or as a dipping sauce for sandwiches.

Pudina aur Khopra ki Chutney – Mint and Coconut Chutney

Phulay Chane – 1/8 cup
Dessicated Coconut/Khopra – 1/4 cup
Roasted Cumin seed/Zeera powder – 1/4 tsp
Small Green Chillies/Hari mirch – 4-5, chopped
Tamarind – walnut sized seedless ball (or) Lemon/Lime juice – 2 tbsp
Fresh Mint leaves/Pudina – 1 cup
Salt – to taste
Ginger – 1/4 inch piece
Garlic – 2 pods
Tempering/Baghaar:
Canola oil – 2 tbsp
Mustard seeds/Rai – 1/2 tsp
Dried red chillies/Baghaar ki mirch – 2, each broken into small pieces
Curry leaves – 4-5, chopped

Method:

1. In a blender, add the first nine ingredients. Pour in a little bit of water to aid in the grinding process and grind until smoothly pureed. Pour the prepared chutney into a serving bowl.
2. Prepare baghaar/tempering: In a pan at medium high heat, pour oil and as soon as it warms up add the mustard seeds, broken dried red chillies and chopped curry leaves. Immediately remove from heat and pour this baghaar hot and hissing into the chutney and mix well. Serve along with your favorite snacks. Store the left over if any in the refrigerator for upto a week.

On a different note, Megha from the ‘Food Food Maha Challenge Muqabla’ show that will be telecast on Food food channel had contacted me as they are looking for participants. She says:

“The show is about the competition between male and female cooks and Madhuri Dixit willl be representing the female cook and Sanjeev Kapoor will represent the male cook.The judge of the show is Mr. Sanjeev Kapoor . If any one is interested you can call on 02242769017 between 11 am to 6 pm.
The auditions dates are:
8th July Mumbai
10th July Nagpur
14th July Delhi
17th July Kolkata
20th july Hyderabad
You can also drop a mail at foodfood.mahachallengemuqabla@gmail.com”

This is a great opportunity to participate in a cooking show. If any one is interested, do contact her.

Luv,
Mona

Sambar

Sambar is a delicious richly flavored lentil and vegetable stew, native to South India. Many versions of sambar exist, and each one is just as delicious as the other one. The key for a flavorful sambar is a good sambar masala. Like there exists many versions of garam masala powder, similarly every South Indian household has their own version of the sambar masala. I have always only used the ready made MDH Sambar masala powder that is easily available in stores. But I really loved Padma’s Sambar and since then I have only been using her sambar masala to favor mine. I was so glad to discover the right sambar masala for me.

Idli served along with Sambar

Warm Sambar is a delicious accompaniment to South Indian classics like idli, wada, dosa, or just along with plain simple rice, etc. Today I have made Okra Sambar because I had only okra at hand, but the mixed vegetable sambar is the conventional and most delicious. The addition of a variety of vegetables add their own flavor to the spicy and aromatic sambar. Tamarind is the traditional souring ingredient used, but if unavailable you can use lemon juice.

Sambar – Spicy Lentil and Mixed Vegetables Stew
Adapted from here

Ingredients:

Toor dal – 1 cup
Tomato – 1, large, chopped
Green chillies – 4, chopped
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Canola oil – 3 1/2 tbsp
Mustard seeds – 3/4 tsp
Cumin seeds – 3/4 tsp
Dry red chillies – 4, each broken into half
Curry leaves – 3 sprigs
Mixed Vegetables – 2 cups (chopped/cubed: brinjal, potato, taro root, bottle guard, radish, zucchini, okra, drumsticks, french beans, carrot, pumpkin, beetroot, etc; peeled & whole pearl onions/shallots; cauliflower or brocolli florets) (I used only okra – 340 gms) (also I did not have shallots so I used 1 large sliced onion instead)
Thick Tamarind pulp – 5 tbsp
Jaggery/gud – 1 tbsp, grated
Cilantro – 2 tbsp, finely chopped
Salt – to taste
Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Sambar masala:
2 tsps of bengal gram/chana dal
2 tsps of black gram/urad dal
2 tsps of cumin seeds/zeera
3 tsps of coriander seeds/dhaniya
½ tsp black peppercorns/kali mirch
½ tsp of fenugreek seeds/methi
4 dry red chillies/sukhi lal mirch
¾ cup dry desiccated coconut/khopra

Delicious Warm Sambar

Method:

1. In a non stick frying pan dry roast all the spices separately under the heading sambar masala until they are just a few shades darker. Transfer all the roasted spices to a spice grinder and add a little water and grind to a smooth paste. Keep aside. This is the sambar masala.
2. Wash toor dal in several changes of water. Soak it overnight or for 2-3 hours in surplus fresh cool water. Drain, and wash in several changes of water. Add the washed and soaked toor dal to a pressure cooker. Add 1/2 tbsp oil, chopped tomato, green chillies, turmeric powder and 3 cups of water. Close the lid and pressure cook until the dal is mushy. Using a whisk or a dal ghotni or an immersion blender, blend the dal into a paste. Keep aside.
3. In a large saucepan at medium high heat, add the remaining oil. As soon as it is warm, add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. When they begin to crackle add the curry leaves and dry red chillies. (If you do not have pearl onions or shallots in hand, add the sliced onions and sauté them until they are pink). Immediately add the prepared mixed vegetables and mix well. Add salt and red chilli powder. Lower the heat to medium and pour in two cups of water. Cover with a lid and let cook until the vegetables are tender crisp, about 5 minutes. Add the tamarind paste and grated jaggery. Now add the toor dal paste prepared earlier along with chopped cilantro and sambar masala. Mix well. Add water to give it a thin consistency. Half cover with a lid and allow it simmer for around 15 minutes more until the vegetables are soft and a good aroma fills your kitchen. Stir frequently and well, as the toor dal tend to sink to the bottom and stick. Serve warm along with plain rice, or dosa, or idli, or wada.

Luv,
Mona

Masala Upma

This quick and simple preparation and a comforting one-dish meal is wholesome and perfect for a satisfying breakfast, brunch or a yummy snack and easy to take delight in. So when I returned home today tired and exhausted after a trip to the grocery mart and the Jumah salah, I thought of whipped up this instant masala upma and it was pure bliss.

Semolina/Sooji/Upma rawa (fine variety)

Idli, Wada, Sambar, Upma, Dosa are all famous South-Indian dishes, that are my absolute favorites too. And there exist many variations of each of them. This particular variation of Upma is one of my favorites. I enjoy my upma along with shallow fried peanuts, the way my Ammi used to serve upma to us all. Those peanuts really add a lot of flavor and crunch to the delicious upma.

Usually the coarser variety of semolina is preferred for upma, but I managed with the fine variety, which is used in the preparation of sweets, and it turned out fine enough.

Masala Upma – Savory Breakfast Semolina
Serves: 2

Ingredients:

Semolina/Sooji/Upma rawa- 1/2 cup
Canola oil
Curry leaves – 2 sprigs, fresh
Mustard seeds – 3/4 tsp
Urad dal – 1/2 tsp
Chopped Onion – 3 tbsp
Small green chillies – 3, finely chopped
Tomato – 1, finely chopped
Red chilli powder – 1/2 tsp
Salt – 1 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
MDH Sambar powder – 1/2 tsp
Water – 1 1/2 cup
Groundnuts, with skin – 1/2 cup
Cilantro – 2 tbsp, finely chopped

Masala Upma, served along with shallow fried groundnuts

1. Heat a skillet at medium heat and as soon as it is warm add the upma rawa and dry roast it stirring constantly and attentively until you see and slight variation in color to a light brown and you get a wonderful aroma. Immediately remove from heat and transfer the roasted rawa to a platter and keep aside.
2. In the same skillet, pour 1 tbsp oil and add the mustard seeds. As they start spluttering, add the onions, green chillies, curry leaves and urad dal. Stir fry for a minute. Now add the tomatoes, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, sambar powder qnd salt. Mix well. Pour in about 1 1/2 cup of water, reduce heat, cover and let cook for a few minutes until the tomatoes are mushy.
3. Meanwhile, in a frying pan at medium high heat add about 2 tbsp oil and as soon as it warms up, add the groundnuts and stir fry until lightly browned. They burn easily, so be careful and attentive. Once done, using slotted spoon transfer the shallow fried groundnuts to a platter.
4. Now add the roasted rawa to the cooking tomato mix ture in the skillet while stirring constantly so as to avoid forming lumps and mix well. Cover and let it cook on low heat for 2-5 minutes until the rawa has absorbed all the moisture and it is mostly dry. Add chopped cilantro, mix well. Cover and let rest for 1-2 minute. Serve immediately along with shallow fried groundnuts and a mango or lemon pickle, or any chutney that you fancy.

Luv,
Mona

Mash ki Dal

Dry dal with phulka or paratha are my favorite breakfast options. This usual combination is what I have been having since my childhood for breakfasts~simple, healthy, quick to prepare and comforting.

Saadi Dhulli Mash ki dal ~ Gingery black gram dhal with caramelized onions

Split husked black gram, also called as Dhulli Mash ki dal or Mash ki Dal in Urdu, are a kind of creamy white pulses, a good source of iron, protein and fibre and low in fats.

The fried onions added to the warm dal as a garnish impart a delicious rich sweet taste to the salted soft gingery dal adding a depth of flavors. A perfect accompaniment with Roti for a light delicious meal.

Saadi Dhulli Mash ki dal ~ Gingery black gram dhal with caramelized onions

Ingredients:

Yellow Onion – 1, large, finely sliced
Canola oil – 3 tbsp
Split husked black gram/Maash ki dal/Urad dal – 250 gms
Ginger – 1/4 tsp, finely grated
Salt – to taste
Small green chillies – 3, finely sliced, for garnish
Cilantro and Mint leaves – 1 tsp each, finely chopped, for garnish

Dhuli Mash ki Dal ~ Split husked Black gram, in a tea-cup

Method:
1. Wash and soak the dal for about 20 minutes in surplus fresh cool water.
2. Drain the soaking dal and add it to a pressure cooker. Pour in about 1 1/2 cups of fresh water and add ginger and salt. Pressure cook dal until soft but not mushy, probably for around 3-5 minutes on high heat. (Make sure that the dal retains its shape and is not overdone and pastelike)
3. Meanwhile pour oil in a frying pan and as soon as it warms up, add the sliced onion and fry them stirring continously until nicely browned. Make sure you do not burn them. Remove the fried onion using a slotted spoon onto a platter, draining as much oil as possible from the fried onions. Reserve the remaining oil in the pan.
4. Once the dal is done, remove it to a serving bowl. Garnish with sliced green chillies, cilantro and mint and the fried onion. Pour about 1 tbsp of the oil in which the onions were fried onto the dal. Serve immediately with Phulka or Paratha.

Suggested Accompaniments: Enjoy this delicious dal along with Phulka or Paratha and Tala huwa Adrak Lahsun (recipe below) on the side. My late Grandfather used to enjoy the dal along with ‘Dhoop-Numbu‘.

This delicious dal is my entry to the event ‘Delicious Dals from India’ being hosted by Suma at her blog Veggie Platter.

Tala huwa Adrak Lahsun – Ginger-Garlic paste Masala

Ingredients:

Ginger paste – 2 tbsp
Garlic paste – 2 tbsp
Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Salt – to taste
Canola oil – 1 tbsp

Tala huwa Adrak-Lahsun – Fried Ginger-Garlic paste Masala

Method:

In a small non-stick frying pan with a heavy bottom at medium heat, pour oil and as soon as it warms up add the ginger and garlic pastes. Cover the pan with a splatter screen and stir fry it, stirring continously and scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon around for 8-10 minutes. Add salt and red chilli powder and mix well. Remove from heat and enjoy it along with dal and roti as a side-dish.

Suggested Accompaniments: Tala huwa Adrak-Lahsun tastes delicious along with Saadi Mash Ki Dal or Moong Ki Dal.

An Update: I am sending my Hara Dhaniya aur Pudine Ki Chutney – Coriander and Mint Chutney over to Jhiva for Ingredients/JFI event, initiated by Indira originally. This month the theme is the most used asian herb ‘Cilantro’, known for its very aromatic and refreshing flavors, being hosted by Cilantro herself at her blog.

Luv,
Mona

Maash ke Wade

Crisp Wadas (Wada-singular, and Wade-plural) with hot sambar or soconut chutney are an another favorite of the Hyderabadis and all South Indians. These are available at almost all the food stalls and tiffin restaurants. I remember I had the most delicious of the Wada-Sambar and Dosas at Shadaab restaurant at Charminar in Hyderabad.

Maash ke Wade – Indian Soft and Spicy Donuts

Wadas are quite simple to prepare. I always used to be so amazed at the ease by which my mother used to get a perfect hole in the centre and deep fry these yummy and spicy, crisp outside and soft inside Indian donuts aka wadas. The trick is not to add excess water and wet your hands before you prepare each vada in your palm to drop into the hot oil carefully. Once you will get a hang of it with some practice, it will be easy as pie.

Wadas are a common sight as street food or tiffin in India, usually had at breakfasts or as snacks in the evenings. An another variety of a dish prepared with wadas is the famous Dahi-Wada, an another favored snack of Hyderabadis.

I often prepare these wadas for Iftaar along with Kothmir-Pudina ki Chutney along with other light snack items, or enjoy them as a snack in the evenings during normal days.

Maash ke Wade – Indian Spicy Donuts

Ingredients:

Split Black Gram/Urad dal – 1 cup
Green chillies – 6-8, small
Ginger garlic paste – 1 tsp (optional)
Dried and crushed Curry leaves – 1 tsp (optional)
Salt – 1/2 tsp
Cilantro/Kothmir – 1/4 cup (optional)
Dry desiccated Coconut – 1/4 cup (optional)
Water – 1/4 cup

Vada Batter

Method:
1. Wash and soak the dal for about 4-6 hours in surplus water.
2. Drain and add the dal and the rest of the ingredients to a food processor container or a blender container and process/blend till smooth. Only add a little water to make the batter smooth. Do not make the batter watery, or else they will not be able to hold their shape.
3. In a wok or kadai at medium high heat, add oil for deep frying and let it heat up.
4. Wet your hand, take a portion of the mixture and make a hole in the center with your thumb. Upturn your hand and drop the wada in hot oil.
5. Deep fry about 4-6 wadas depending upon the size of the kadai or wok. They need to be turned for even frying. Once they are golden brown in colour, remove them on a tray lined with paper towel. Continue doing this until all the batter is used.

Suggested Accompaniments: Enjoy them along with Kothmir-Pudina ki Chutney.

Note: Inspite of deep frying, they do not have oil in them as the air inside the Wadas pushes the oil out while they deep fry, hence they are relatively oil-free.

This goes to ‘Joy from Fasting to Feasting’.

Luv,
Mona