Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Achari Channa Pulao & Jeera Aloo - Punjab

Moving forward in this delicious journey, we now stop at Punjab, the Land of 5 rivers.The Greeks called this land as Pentapotamia meaning inland delta of five converging rivers. The scared texts of the Zorastrians called this the Sapta Sindu ot the Land of 7 rivers.

In the ancient times, Punjab was the gateway to the Indian Subcontinent for the people from Greece, Central Asia , Iran and Afganistan.

Punjab is the single largest producer of Wheat in the country.

For me, Punjab is always those Bollywood heros and heroines running through the mustard fields in full bloom where the heroine is mostly from Punjab!At least about a decade back most films that I saw were like this.

And then there is this Balle Balle Bangra dance that gets featured in all cultural programs in college.

Coming to the cuisine of the Punjabis...

The food comes from the Punjab region of both India and Pakistan.It has a diverse range of dishes and they vary within the state itself.Even the choice of ingredients differ from one place to another within the state.

The most popular dishes are of course Sarson ka Saag and Makki ki Roti. Apart from this there are so many delicacies like the Kebabs, rumali roti,Poori halwa, Kulchas, Naan,lassi,etc.

And of course the Punjabi Dabba that serves the most delicious and ghee laden dishes!Even here in Tamil nadu there are so many Punjabi Dhabas, at least one near every highway exit.Though the owners are not Punjabis , the dishes are almost authentic. Plus these also serve the local dishes along with north Indian foods.

Years back, when I was in college, we went on a trip to a few places in North India. We mostly stuck to the Daaba style foods coz it was cheap and tastier than the star restaurants. They were clean too much to our surprise.

A small reminiscence that you may have read earlier...

We were travelling on the Ajmer highway. It was nearing midnight and we had planned to cut a cake that we had got to celebrate Christmas .Exactly when my friend was about to cut it, we heard a big ‘bang’ and the bus swerved.

Many of us screamed and I thought we had met with an accident. The driver managed to bring the vehicle under control and stopped by the roadside. We were informed that one of the tires had burst. Thank God, there was not much traffic on the highway and hence no causalities.

Just around that time, I realized the Pav Bhaaji I had in the evening almost vanished and I was hungry again.I didn't even want to think of the stale chapathi and most of the snacks we had purchased in Udaipur was long gone. Most of my friends were in the same situation. We shared a piece of cake and waited to resume the journey.

All our hopes were shattered when the driver announced that any chances of changing the tire would be at dawn. I looked around and saw that we were stranded in a place that looked like a forest with rows and rows of trees and that too in the middle of the night without a single soul in sight.

Suddenly someone mentioned something about bandits and we shrieked.We were around 40 girls and a lady guide,sitting in that bus and the 2 guys who were with us[the driver and the cleaner] didn't look like they would protect us from the thieves,in case they sprang up from nowhere.

There was not a single light on the highway.The occasional hoot of the owl and noises of the insects we more than enough to scare us. Every single sound made me jump.I wished more than ever that I was sleeping in that cozy hotel we had vacated earlier ,without fear and dreaming of all the beautiful places we had seen.

There were hardly any vehicles passing that way and all the fun and laughter that was heard minutes ago had died down to a whisper.A few lorries sped by after a while and some of them who stopped to help us could not change the tire.Our driver was left with no choice but to go and look for a mechanic at day break.

Somehow we managed to spend the cold night[it was winter] in the bus and by morning the driver got some help and much to our delight informed us that there was a dhaaba nearby.That was the best thing we had ever heard and immediately started walking in the direction of our ‘saviour’.

The mere sight of the dhaaba signaled warmth, comfort and scrumptious food. There were wooden cots to sit upon and a wooden plank placed across the width of the cot to keep dishes.

Seeing 40+ hungry people,the dhaaba owner and the cook were delighted and started taking the orders and I must say ,the food appeared on our 'table' pretty quick.

We[my 2 friends and me] ordered all what we wanted-parathas,kulchas and some titbits- without even thinking if we would be able to finish them. Soon there was a delicious spread in front of us. The first ones to appear on the 'table' were Mooli parathas and dhal ,Kulcha and chole.

I started off with the Mooli parathas and dhal.The aroma was more than enough to seduce me.The mooli parathas and punjabi dhal tasted divine. Never did I know I could polish off so much food in such little time. Parathas were washed down with a cup a hot chaai[Indian tea]. I did eat the kuchas but the parathas had a carved a special place in my heart.

We sat there lazying around and taking sweet nothing ,basking in the warmth of dawn till our bus was ready to take us to the next stop-Jaipur.The weariness of the previous day's experiences were nowhere in sight once we had our fill of the yummy food.

Later when we re-started our journey I noticed numerous dhaabas dotting the roadsides.The food was inexpensive and definitely had a 'home-made' touch..

Any time I see a Dhaaba, this is the incident that I recollect...

Let us move on to the post....

Featured here :

Achari Channa Pulao -  A rice rich with Chick peas that is flavored with Punjabi Mango Pickle
Jeera Aloo - A simple stir fry of potatoes seasoned with cumin seeds
Mango Lassi - A tasty drink of mango in buttermilk
Kesar Pista Kulfi - Indian styled Saffron flavored pistachio Ice cream
Grilled Pappad

Let us start with the pulao preparation...

I used:
Adapted from Tarla Dalal

Basmati rice -1 cup
Mango pickle - 2 tablespoons [reduce the quantity if the pickle is too spicy]
Chick peas- 1/4 cup, soaked overnight and cooked al dente
Onion-1, sliced
Ginger garlic paste- 1 teaspoon
Turmeric powder- 1/8 teaspoon
Garam masala- 1 teaspoon
Red chili powder- 1/2 teaspoon
Ghee- 2 teaspoons

Spices :

Mustard seeds- 1 teaspoon
Fennel seeds- 1/2 teaspoon
Nigella seeds/ Kalonji-1/4 teaspoon
Fenugreek seeds- 1/4 teaspoon
Cumin seeds- 1/2 teaspoon
Asafoetida powder- a pinch

Blend the pickle in a mixer to a coarse paste and keep aside. Wash and soak the rice for 15 minutes. Boil 2 cups of water and keep ready.[I use 1:2 ratio.You can adjust the water to the one you use regularly]

Heat ghee in a pressure cooker and add the spices.Once the mustard pops, add the onion and saute till translucent. Add the ginger garlic paste and saute for a minute.

Add the chickpeas, red chili powder, garam masala and turmeric powder, followed by the pickle paste.

Add salt and the boiling water. Drain rice and add to the cooker.

Mix well.Cover and pressure cook for 3 hisses/ 10 minutes or till the rice is cooked. The rice should not get mushy. Once the pressure releases, fluff it gently with a fork and serve

This pulao can be eaten as such / served with plain yogurt/ raita/ crispies...

The next recipe is a simple potato curry flavored with cumin seeds.

I used:

Potato-2 large, peeled and cut into cubes
Cumin seeds- 2 teaspoon
Green chili paste- 2 teaspoons
Turmeric powder- 1/8 teaspoon
Salt to taste
Coriander leaves to garnish
Ghee- 1 teaspoon

Melt ghee in a pan and add the cumin seeds. When it crackles, add the potato cubes and saute for a minute.Add a little water,cover and cook for a few minutes, stir once in a while to avoid burning

Once the potato is half cooked, add green chili paste, turmeric powder and salt.Mix well.

Add a little more water and cover and cook till the potatoes are done and the curry is dry.

Serve with steamed / flavored rice garnished with coriander leaves....

So here is the tasty meal from Punjab.Hope you enjoyed it....

Other Punjabi recipes from my blog....

Punjabi Samosa
Punjabi Kadi Pakora
Punjabi Chole
Punjabi Rajma Chawal 
Punjabi Rajma Masala
Punjabi Chole Masala - Ver 2.0
Aloo Anardana Kulcha

Bon Appetit...

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Urulaikizhangu Podalangai Turuttu Curry & Beans Fugath - Pondicherry

From Orissa, we are now traveling down to Pondicherry  / Pondy or Pudhucherry as it is being called now. This state was the seat of the colonial powers like Dutch,Portuguese, English and French.

The city has many colonial structures and a very popular tourist destination.The four beaches, The Auroville Ashram, the age old churches, the Botanical gardens and the beautiful temples attracts crowds from India and abroad.

The Pondicherry cuisine has a lot of influences.It is a perfect blend of cultures and customs.The main characteristic is the French influence on the cuisine.Coconut and coconut milk, sea food are predominant in their cuisine.The influence of the neighboring states - Kerala, Tamil nadu and Andra can also be felt in their dishes.

In today's post,the two dishes featured here makes use of coconut and coconut milk and are very flavorful.

Behind the scene:

I tried looking for recipes on the net and failed.So the next best thing to do is to buy a cookbook and that's exactly what I did. I got the Pondicherry Cookbook!Much to my dismay, it had lots and lots of non veg recipes and very few veg recipes that were in the book were so similar to the ones you find in Tamil nadu. I did not want to make them and so started looking for recipes on line.

I landed on an article on The Hindu and I was truly saved. Though a little time consuming, it was totally worth the effort. It was a hit and I was really glad that everyone enjoyed the curry.

I am sure to make this different curry when we have guests and I am sure it will earn their praise.

The beans fugath is our regular beans stir fry known by a different name. The two dishes were served with steamed rice.

I used:
Adapted from here 

For the spice mix/ Kootu thool:

Coriander seeds- 2 teaspoons
Black pepper- 1 teaspoon
Turmeric powder- a pinch
Fenugreek seeds- 1/4 teaspoon
Chana dal-1 teaspoon
Toor dal-1 teaspoon
White urad dal-1 teaspoon

For the paste:

Poppy seeds- 2 teaspoons
Cashew nuts- 10

Ingredients for the stuffing

Potato-2,peeled , boiled and roughly mashed
Green peas - a handful
Onion-1, chopped
Chili powder- 1 teaspoon
Salt to taste
Oil-1 teaspoon

Ingredients for the gravy:

Tender Snake gourd- 1
Whole spices- Bay leaf- 1, cloves-2, cinnamon-a small piece
Ginger garlic paste- 1 teaspoon
Tomato-1, chopped
Red chili powder- 1 teaspoon
Lemon juice to taste
salt to taste
Oil-1 teaspoon

To make the coconut milk- 1/2 a coconut

Procedure :

Dry roast the spices for kootu thool [without oi],except turmeric powder .When cool , grind everything to a fine powder and keep aside. If there is a little excess after making this recipe, store in an airtight container and use later.

Make an extract of coconut milk.Keep the first extract separately.Mix the second and third extracts.

Grind the ingredients for the paste adding a little water and keep aside.

Cut the snake gourd into 2" pieces and remove the core.

For the stuffing:

Heat oil in a pan and add the onion.Saute till it is translucent. Then add the potato , parboiled peas,chili powder and salt and mix well.Cook for 3-4 minutes till the raw smell of chili powder goes off.Stuff this into the snake gourd pieces and keep aside.

Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a pan and add the stuffed snake gourd pieces. Cover and cook on low heat till the side shrink and turn light brown. Turn them around once in a while carefully so the that the stuffing does not spill out.

For the gravy:

Heat a teaspoon of oil and the whole spices, ginger garlic paste and  saute the onions till translucent.Add the rec chili powder and saute for a minute.Then add the tomatoes and cook till it is soft.

Add a little water if the mixture is too dry.Add the second and third coconut milk extract and mix well.Simmer.Then gently drop in the sauteed snake gourd pieces.

Mix the cashew- poppy paste with the first extract of coconut milk and add to the simmering mixture.Add salt and mix gently.Simmer for 20 minutes. Switch of flame and add lemon juice.Mix and serve.

Urulaikizhangu Podalangai Turuttu Curry is ready to be served with a vegetable curry and steamed rice...


Be sure to use tender snake gourd, else the vegetable will not taste good.

Beans fugath is the regular beans curry that we make at home.

Heat a teaspoon of oil in a pan and add 
mustard seeds, cumin, chana dal and curry leaves.
When the mustard pops, add 
2,slit green chilies and 1, finely chopped onion 
and saute till onion is translucent.
Add the 1 cup of chopped beans and salt
mix well.
Add a splash of water and cover and cook till the beans is cooked.
Add 1/8 cup of grated coconut and mix well.
Remove from heat and serve as a side.

Bon Appetit....

Monday, 21 April 2014

Pariba Khechudi and Dahi Bainga - Odisha

Odisha or Orrisa is the next state that we are travelling to in this Indian Food Odyssey series.In the ancient times, this was the Kalinga kingdom and was also known as Utkala as mentioned in India's national anthem.

This is the 9th largest state by population and 11th largest by population.

Since the per-historic times, this place has been inhabited by various people and has a history of over 5000 years.

Bhuvaneshwar, the capital of Odisha is a house to 1000 temples! The famous among them is the Puri Jagannath Temple.

This is the place where the oldest dance form - Odissi originated.

Coming to the cuisine,mainly relies on local produce/ ingredients. The flavors are subtle and has a mild use of spices.Only 6% of the population is vegetarian and for the rest of the folks, sea food is the most widely used and most popular one.Mustard oil is used for cooking and turmeic poswer, panch poran seeds, garam masala are widely used in this cuisine.

These people are fond of sweets and no meal is complete without a dessert.

Garlic and onions are shunned during festivals and even some restaurants near the Puri Jagannath Temple have dishes without garlic and onion in their menus!

This cuisine boasts of a large repertoire of dishes in all categories.

Today's post is a rice -lentil one pot meal with vegetables and milk spices. It is paired with a raita

Behind the scene:

Since rice is a staple at home, this sort of one pot meal is always welcome. All of us enjoyed it. Hubby felt I could have avoided the raisins.The raita was something different and I loved eating it as such.

And I must admit that the fried brinjal pieces are super addictive so I sincerely advice you to keep them out of reach till it is ready to be used in the recipe..

Pariba Khechudi:

I used:
Adapted from - Kumkum's Delicious Kitchen

Rice - 1 cup
Moong dal-1/2 cup
Onion-1, chopped
Tomato-1 chopped
Red chilies- 3,broken
Whole spices- Bay leaf-1, cloves-2, cardamom-1,cumin seeds- 1 teaspoon,cinnamon -1" piece,Black pepper corns-1/2 teaspoon
Grated ginger- 1/2 teaspoon
Mixed vegetables- a little of carrot, peas, potato, cauliflower, beans, chopped
Turmeric powder- 1/8 teaspoon
Ghee- 2 tablespoons
Oil-1 teaspoon

To garnish

Roasted peanuts

Soak the rice and dal for half and hour. Heat a pressure cooker with oil and add the whole spices and red chilies.Saute for a minute. Add the onions,ginger and saute till onion turns translucent.

Add the tomato and cook till it softens. Add 3 cup of water and bring to boil.Add the vegetables.

Add salt and turmeric powder. Drain water from the soaked rice-dal mixture and add it to the cooker.

Pressure cook for 15 minutes or 4 hisses or until done.Remove from the pressure cooker onto a serving dish.Heat the remaining ghee and pour over the rice. Garnish with roasted peanuts and raisins.

Serve as such or with a raita...

The next dish is a raita that goes well with any flavored rice dish....

I used:
Adapted from - Kumkum's Delicious Kitchen

Eggplant / brinjal-1 large,chopped into finger sized pieces
Besan-1 tablespoon
Red chili powder- 1 teaspoon
Fresh yogurt- 2 cups
Kaala namak / black salt- 1/8th teaspoon
Salt to taste
Oil to deep fry

For tempering:

Oil-1 teaspoon
Mustard- 1 teaspoon
Green chili-1,chopped
Curry leaves- a few

Take the brinjal pieces, besan and red chili powder in a bowl and mix well so that the masala coats the brinjal.Keep aside.  Whisk the yogurt.

To the yogurt add salt, kala namak and keep aside.Heat oil for deep frying and fry the besan coated brinjal pieces till they turn golden brown.Drain and keep aside.

Heat oil for tempering and add the ingredients mentioned under it. When the mustard splutters, pour over the yogurt mixture and mix.

Just before serving, add the brinjal piece, gently mix and serve...

Other Oriyan / Odiyan recipes

Olo Kopi Bhaja - Odiyan Turnip stir-fry
Chenna poda - Indian cottage cheese based dessert

Bon Appetit...