Masala Vada

An Andhra special street food and snack, most often seen being sold at Indian Railway Platforms, these crunchy on outside but soft inside vada’s are my favorite tea time snack along with chutney and some warm chai. They are made out of lentils, herbs, spices and chopped onions. Sometimes I also dunk these vada’s into warm sambar and enjoy the vadas as a mini meal.

Masala Vada

This time I added a few dill leaves that were lying in the refrigerator. You can add fresh chopped cilantro or mint or amaranth leaves or even spring onions (if using spring onions, skip chopped onions in the recipe and add both the chopped greens as well as the whites) instead.

Masala Vada – Lentil Fritters

Ingredients:

Chana dal – 1 cup
Green chillies – 4-6, finely chopped
Ginger – 1 tsp, minced
Red chilli powder – 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves (fresh/dried) – 1 sprig, finely chopped
Salt – to taste
Onion – 1, small, finely chopped
Dill leaves – 1/4 cup, finely chopped
Canola oil – to deep fry

Method:

1. Soak the chana dal in a bowl with surplus fresh cool water for 2 hours. Later, drain and reserve about a fistful of the soaked chana dal aside in a bowl. Add the rest of it into a food processor. Process until coarse, do not puree the mixture, and do not add any water while grinding. Remove the coarse chana dal into a mixing bowl. Add the reserved soaked chana dal and add the rest of the ingredients except oil. Mix well, and shape into patties.
2. Heat oil to deep fry in a kadai or a deep saucepan. Once the oil is hot, fry the patties one by one on both sides until golden. Remove into a wire mesh strainer or a paper towel lined platter for excess oil to drain away and serve warm along with coconut chutney or coriander and mint chutney or sambar.

Luv,
Mona

Haleem~II:a gastronomic delight

Brr, its cold outside. Curled up on my sofa under a soft quilt and enjoying the season with a bowl of haleem topped with fried onions, fresh herbs, ghee and few fried cashew nuts along with a splash of fresh lemon juice provides me the warmth and nourishment and makes me hopelessly nostalgic.

Haleem, a porridge made with wheat, pulses, meat, ghee is a classic Hyderabadi delicacy which has Persian origins. Back home in restaurants it is cooked in large amounts in huge cauldrons called as degh for hours together along with a range of exotic spices and other aromatics and pounded continually, until it resembles a velvety gruel like consistency. At homes, we use pressure cookers and processors to quicken the process.

This savory Ramadan speciality has a wonderful taste, and a delicious aroma. Haleem is usually prepared during the month of Ramadan(the ninth holy month of the Muslim calender in which Muslims observe fast from sunrise to sunset) and enjoyed at Iftaar and Suhoor, as it has got all the goodness to sustain and nurture a fasting body.

broken wheat and wheat grains

Below is my Ammi’s version of Haleem, I had also posted an another version Haleem here a while back. A yogurt qorma is prepared and mixed with the wheat+dal+meat mixture and cooked until the flavors marry and the desired consistency is achieved. My mother in law always prefers wheat grains over broken wheat for Haleem. I use broken wheat as it cooks faster.

Hyderabadi Haleem – Lentils, Wheat and Meat Porridge

Ingredients:

Boneless Lamb meat – 500 gms (or) Lamb meat with bone – 700 gms [preferably leg] – cut into small pieces
Ginger-garlic paste – 1 tbsp
Red chilli powder – 1 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Salt – 1 tsp
Chana dal – 100 gms
Broken wheat – 250 gms
For Qorma:
White poppy seeds/Khuskhus – 1 tsp
Chironji nuts – 1 tsp
Chopped almonds and cashewnuts – 1 tbsp each
Canola oil – 4-5 tbsp
Onions – 3, large, finely sliced
Cloves – 2
Cardamom – 2
Cinnamon stick – one 2″ stick
Dry Roasted Kababchini powder – 1/4 tsp
Dry roasted Cumin seed powder – 1/2 tsp
Green chillies – 4, each broken into two
Yogurt – 1 cup, lightly whisked
Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Salt – 2 tsp
Black pepper powder – 1/4 tsp
Garam masala powder – 1/2 tsp
Cardamom seed powder – 1/4 tsp
Lemon juice – 1/4 cup/60 ml/4 tbsp
For Garnish
finely chopped Cilantro, and Mint leaves
Crisply fried onions
Lemon juice
Ghee
Fried cashew nuts
sliced/chopped Green chillies

Haleem, garnished with fried onions, fresh herbs, green chillies, nuts and lemon juice

Method:

1. In a pressure cooker, add the meat, ginger-garlic paste, 1 tsp red chilli powder, turmeric powder and 1 tsp salt and pour in 1 cup water. Pressure cook until the meat is about 3/4th done.
2. Meanwhile soak chana dal and broken wheat for 30 minutes in fresh cool water. As soon as the meat is done, transfer the meat with all its juices into a bowl. Keep aside to cool.
3. Drain the soaking dal and keep aside. In the same pressure cooker, add the dal and broken wheat and pour in 4 cups of fresh cool water and pressure cook for a few minutes until the mixture is soft. Transfer to a bowl.
3. Meanwhile, shred the cooked meat and put it back into its juices and keep aside in a bowl. Discard bones.
4. Soak khuskhus, chironji nuts, cashewnuts and almonds in 1/2 cup warm water for 15 minutes. Grind them into a smooth puree.
5. In a food processor or a blender, add the cooked dal and the cooked broken wheat along with any remaining water in which it was boiled and process until well blended.
6. In a large thick bottomed non-stick saucepan at medium high heat, pour oil and as soon as it warms up, add the sliced onion and stir fry it until evenly golden brown in color. Using a slotted spoon transfer half of the fried onions onto a platter, scatter so that they cool and crisp up in a while, use these fried onions for garnish later on. Meanwhile, in the pan with the fried onions, lower the heat and add cloves, cinnamon stick, cardamom, kababchini power, green chillies and cumin seed powder. Stir fry for 10-20 secs. Add the yogurt. Mix well. Add the pureed nuts mixture and mix well. Add red chilli powder, black pepper powder and salt. Half cover and cook stirring occasionally until it leaves oil. Add the blended wheat+dal mixture and the shredded meat with all its juices and mix well. Pour in 2 cups water, and add garam masala powder and cardamom powder. Mix well. Cover and let cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally for 10-20 minutes. Remove from heat when the desired consistency of a thick porridge is achieved. Ladle in serving plates, garnish and serve warm.

This is my contribution to the “The Hyderabadi Bakr-Eid Food Festival-’09” that I am hosting on my blog. The event is on and you can all send me your Bakr-Eid special recipes before December 31, 2009. Click on the link or the logo for more details.

Luv,
Mona

Puran Poori and Chobay ki Poori

I was missing home, my Ammi’s hand made food, dearly.

Ammi makes the best Kheer-Poori in this whole world. When I was near her, with her, I never really realised the importance of her nearness, her closeness, her presence in my daily life. Now that I am so far away, I miss her and her embrace. Ammi, I miss you! But I am thankfull to my Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) that todays technology allows me to call and speak to her anytime I wish alhamdulillah. May Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) bless everybody’s parents with the best of health and give them the ajr, Ameen.

Kheer-Puri is a combinatin that most poeple from India and Pakistan must be familiar with. A combination that can make any person living away from his or her hometown nostalgic and bring back a rush of good old memories, just like it happened to me.

Today I am sharing with you all the recipe for Puran Poori and Chobay ke Poori, which are similar to the stuffed sweet pastries, empanadas.
Puran is a paste made of mashed Chana dal cooked in ghee, sugar and nuts. The same paste can also be used to prepare flat diamond shaped Laoz, and it is also used as a stuffing in flat bread to prepare Mitthi Roti. Today I am using Puran to prepare Puran Poori, which are stuffed pastries, similar to empanadas, but with a sweet stuffing.
Similarly, I stuff the pastries with an another sweet stuffing, called as Choba, or a mixture of shredded coconut, dry fruits and nuts and some sugar.

Chobay ke Puri – Sweet Empanadas stuffed with a Coconut and dry fruit and nut mixture

Ingredients:

For the filling:-

Ghee – 1 tbsp
Dry Desiccated Coconut – 3/4 cup
Finely sliced Pista – 1/4 cup
Finely sliced peeled almonds – 1/4 cup
Raisins/Kishmish – 1/4 cup
Sugar – 1/4 cup

For the Dough:-

Wheat Flour (Durum Atta)  – 2 cups (usually maida/all-purpose flour is used)
Water – 1 cup
Salt – 1/4 tsp
Ghee – 1 tbsp

Method:
1. In a bowl, combine the sliced pistachios, almonds, dessicated coconut and the raisins.
2. Heat a heavy bottomed non-stick kadai at medium heat, pour ghee and as soon as it gets warm, add the above mixture. Stir continously and roast for a minute or two until you start getting an aroma and it is quite lightly toasted. Do not let the coconut turn into a dark brown color or get burnt, keep a close eye. Remove from heat and immediately add the sugar and mix well (you can also add a little bit of grated khoa at this stage for added richness). Keep aside to cool. This mixture is called as Choba.

Choba ~ Coconut+Raisins+Pistachio+Almond+Sugar mixture

3. In a food processor, add the flour, ghee and salt. Process for a few seconds. Add the water and process to form a soft dough. You can also form the dough on a work surface using your hands. Remove the dough onto a platform and knead it add using some extra flour or water, whatever is needed, until a soft pliable dough is formed. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and keep aside for 30 minutes.
4. Pour cool water into a cup and keep ready.

The filling~choba, on a side of the dough disc, notice the edges have been moistened for sealing

Stuffed Pastry

5. Lightly flour the work surface. Roll out the dough until about 1/8 inch thick. Cut into circles that ae about 12 cm in diameter, use a bowl as a guide if you wish. Collect the scraps, knead for a few seconds to form a ball and roll out again later, until then cover and keep aside. Dip your fingers into the cup with cool water, and wet the outer edge of the dough circles. Put about 2 tablespoons of the cooled toasted Choba mixture in a side, leaving room around the edges for sealing, and fold over the other half of dough over the filling to form a half circle. Do not over fill or else, the dough might tear. Use a pizza wheel to trim away the corners and make a nice half moon shape. Press the wet edges firmly to seal and crimp to form a pattern. Keep all the prepared stuffed pastries covered under a cloth on the work surface until all are done.

Stuffed Pastry with edges crimped

Puran Puri ~ Fried Stuffed Pastries

6. Once all the stuffed pastries are ready, heat oil in a kadai or wok to deep dry. Once the oil is hot, gently lower a few of them and deep fry both sides until lightly brown. Do not over crowd the kadai. Remove them using a slotted spoon. Do not pile them up onto a platter. Keep them uncovered in a single layer on a kitchen towel until all are done.

Puran Puri – Sweet Empanadas stuffed with Chickpea and nut mixture

Ingredients:

For the filling:-

Bengal gram/Chana Dal – 1/2 cup
Ghee – 1 tbsp
Sugar – 1/4 cup + 4 tbsp
Finely Powdered Green Cardamom seeds – 1/4 tsp
Finely sliced Pistachios/Pista – 1 tbsp
Finely sliced Almonds/Badaam – 1 tbsp

For the Dough:-

Wheat Flour (Durum flour) – 2 cups
Water – 1 cup
Salt – 1/4 tsp
Ghee – 1 tbsp

Method:
1. Wash and drain the dal. Pressure cook the dal in a little water until the dal is soft. Once done, cook the dal until there is very little water left. Remove it from heat. Once it is lukewarm, blend the dal in a blender until smoothly pureed keep aside.

Puran ~ Sweet Chickpea mixture

2. Pour ghee in a saucepan at medium heat and as it melts, add the pureed dal and cook uncovered for 3 minutes. Add the sugar and cook for 5 minutes, stirring continously. Add the sliced pistachios and almonds, cardamom seed powder and mix well. Remove from heat when the mixture is fairly dry and starts leaving sides. Let it cool down. This mixture is called as the Puran.
3. In a food processor, add the flour, ghee and salt. Process for a few seconds. Add the water and form a soft dough. Remove the dough onto your platform and knead it add using some extra flour or water, whatever is needed, until a soft pliable dough is formed. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and keep aside for 30 minutes.
4. Pour cool water into a cup and keep ready.

The filling~puran, on a side of the dough disc, notice the edges have been moistened for sealing

Pooriyaan – Stuffed Pastries

5. Lightly flour the work surface. Roll out the dough until about 1/8 inch thick. Cut into circles that ae about 12 cm in diameter, use a bowl as a guide if you wish. Collect the scraps, knead for a few seconds to form a ball and roll out again later, until then cover and keep aside. Dip your fingers into the cup with cool water, and wet the outer edge of the dough circles. Put about 2 tablespoons of the cooled Puran mixture in a side, leaving room around the edges for sealing, and fold over the other half of dough over the filling to form a half circle. Do not over fill or else, the dough might tear. Use a pizza wheel to trim away the corners and make a nice half moon shape. Press the wet edges firmly to seal and crimp to form a pattern. Keep all the prepared stuffed pastries covered under a cloth on the work surface until all are done.

Puran Puri ~ Fried Stuffed Pastries

6. Once all the stuffed pastries are ready, heat oil in a kadai or wok to deep dry. Once the oil is hot, gently lower a few of them and deep fry both sides until lightly brown. Do not over crowd the kadai. Remove them using a slotted spoon. Do not pile them up onto a platter. Keep them uncovered in a single layer on a kitchen towel until all are done.

We enjoy both Chobay ki Poori and Puran Poori along with Chawal ki Kheer. Dip the deep-fried stuffed pastries in the rice pudding and enjoy.

Kheer Puri – Rice Pudding and Stuffed Pastries

Reminder: Send me your Ramadan delicacies before the deadline. For more information refer to The Hyderabadi Ramadan Food Festival.

Luv,
Mona

Kaddu ka Dalcha

I am so in love with the bottle gourds that I get here in the Asian stores in Toronto. Young and tender with bright spring-bud green color is how I describe the bottle gourds that I get here.

Kaddu, Split Chana Dal, Tomato

Kaddu, aka ‘Bottle gourd’ or ‘Opo squash’ in English

Dalcha refers to soupy dal preparation from Hyderabad. It can be prepared with only a vegetable, which I am writing about today, or along with meat with bone combination, also called as Daalcha Gosht. The dal with either of the combination is then simmered gently in a tomato with tempering/baghaar spices sauce that impart a beautiful aroma and flavor. Once the vegetable and meat is tender it is allowed to cook with the mashed dal. Today I prepared Dalcha with bottle gourd for my lunch along with Qimah Methi and Matar Chawal. Traditionally Dalcha is served along with Baghara Chawal and Phalli Gosht, or even along with Biryani on the side.

Kaddu, peeled and cut into Diamonds

Peel and cut bottle gourd kaddu diagonally into large diamond shapes. The kaddu that I have used today was very green and callow, so it didnt have any tough and aged seeds. If there is any fibrous central pith with mature hard seeds, I suggest you slice the central pith and discard it and use only the clean white flesh. But it not mandatory.

Kaddu Ka Dalcha

Kaddu Ka Dalcha – Bottle Gourd in Legume Soup

Ingredients:

Chana dal/Bengal gram (or) Yellow lentils/Tuvar ki dal – 1 1/2 cups
Salt
Canola oil/Ghee – 2 tbsp
Cumin seeds – 2 tsp
Garlic pods – 2-3, peeled and crushed
Dried red chillies – 2, each broken into two and stalks removed
Curry leaves – 10 fresh leaves
Tomato – 2, large, ripe and red, finely chopped
Chopped Cilantro – 1 tbsp
Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Salt – to taste
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Bottle gourd/Opo Squash/Kaddu – 1, medium sized, around 750 gms
Raw tamarind juice/Kacchi Imli ka juice – 4 tbsp or to taste

Method:

1. Peel the bottle gourd. Slice off and discard the top and bottom of the gourd. Cut the bottle gourd into two halves lengthwise. If the central pith of the bottle gourd contains mature seeds, discard the central pith, or if the bottle gourd is young and tender, there is no need to discard the central pith. Now cut each half into 1 inch thick strips lengthwise. Cut each strip diagonally into 2-3 inch pieces.
2. Wash the dal in two or three water changes. Drain and keep aside. In a pressure cooker, add the drained dal and 4 cups water. Add 2 tsp salt and pressure cook the dal until it is soft and well cooked. You can puree the dal in a blender and pour it back back into the saucepan and keep aside. I just mash it using a dal ghotni or use an immersion blender sometimes.
3. In a large frying pan at medium heat, pour canola oil, and as soon as it warms up, add the cumin seeds and the crushed garlic pods. After 30 seconds, add the dried red chillies and curry leaves. Immediately add the chopped tomatoes, chopped cilantro, red chilli powder, salt, turmeric and mix well. Cover the lid for about a minute. Add the chopped bottle gourd and mix well. Pour in water to cover the bottle guard pieces and cover the lid. Let cook for about 10 minutes or until the bottle gourd is tender. To check, pierce a piece of bottle gourd with the tip of a sharp knife.
4. Once the bottle gourd is tender, add this to the saucepan with the pureed dal and pour in water to dilute and achieve a thin soupy consistency. Add the tamarind juice and mix well. Taste for seasonings. Let it boil once, then simmer and let it cook for 5 minutes. Serve warm.

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

Luv,
Mona

Baghari Turai aur Chane ki Dal ka Saalan

Todays meal consists of a simple comforting Turai ka saalan along with warm Phulka’s

Main Ingredients ~ Turai, Tomatoeas, Yellow Onions, Split Chana Dal

The split bengal gram/chane ki dal in this curry is cooked until it is just tender, but still holds its shape, and later allowed to cook furthur in the tomato-onion sauce of ridged gourd.

Ridged gourd, mainly an Indian vegetable, also called as Turai in Urdu, is mainly composed of water. When it is cooked in a tomato-onion sauce, it develops a delicious mellow flavor. Peel and discard the tough outer skin of Turai.

In some places, ridged gourd is also referred to as ‘Ribbed Gourd’.

Chopped and Peeled Turai

Baghari Turai aur Chane ki Dal ka Saalan – Split Bengal gram and Ridged Gourd Curry
Serves: 8 to 10

Ingredients:

Split Bengal gram/Chane ki dal – 1 cup
Canola oil – 2 tsp
Yellow Onion – 2, large, finely sliced
Tomatoes – 2, large, finely chopped
Salt – 1 tbsp
Red Chilli powder – 1 tbsp
Turmeric – 1/4 tsp
Cilantro – 2 tbsp, finely chopped
Green chillies – 3, small sized, each slit into two
Ridged Gourd/Turai – 6, medium sized, as shown in the picture

Baghari Turai aur Chane ki Dal ka Saalan

Method:

1. Soak the Chana dal overnight at room temperature, covered in surplus cool water in a bowl. The next day, drain and rinse the dal. Add the drained dal along with 2 cups fresh cool water and 1 tsp salt to a saucepan. Boil until the dal is just soft, but not at all mushy. Once done, remove the saucepan from heat and keep aside.
2. Meanwhile, wash the ridged gourd under fresh cool tap water. Pat dry with towels. Peel and discard the skin. Chop and discard the two ends and cut into quarters as shown in the picture. Keep aside.
3. In a pressure cooker at medium high heat, pour oil and as soon as it warms up, add the sliced onion and stir fry for 5 minutes. Once the onion is soft, add the chopped tomatoes, red chilli powder, salt, turmeric, cilantro, green chillies and stir well to mix. Cover with lid and let cook for 3 minutes. Add the chopped turai, and half cup water and pressure cook for around 5 minutes.
4. Add the chana dal with its water to the pressure cooker and cover it ajar with a lid, and let cook at medium heat for 10 more minutes or until the turai is tender. Serve immediately.

Suggested Accompaniments: Enjoy this simple vegetable+dal salaan with warm rice or roti for a delicious meal.

Luv,
Mona