Friday, June 29, 2012

Pav Bhaaji - Down the memory lane along the main streets of JNagar

Let me tell you all that this is one of my family's favorite recipes, it is a win win situation for all since it simultaneously satisfies all expectations of a tasty, healthy, nutritious, filling meal as well as qualifies for a yummy chat(I raise my hand any time someone says chat). So it is an 'amma bhi khush and bacha bhi khush' (Mom happy, kid happy) situation - well, that was a really lame take on an old TV advertisement :-), I still need to hone my stand up comedian act.

If you are an Indian grown up eating Indian food or a non Indian aware of Indian food, I am sure you would have come across the name 'Pav Bhaaji' at some point and if you are lucky, you would have tasted it as well. Literally translated, it means bread (Pav) and vegetables(bhaaji), and it is really just that - vegetables cooked with masala and served with a side of bread. And there are many, many brands of pav bhaaji masalas are available in the stores every where. If you have a refrigerator filled with assorted vegetables, I recommend you try this dish especially since they all get mashed together into a pulp, blend into the masala and lose their individuality. The bhaaji of the pav-bhaaji is very forgiving within its boundaries (steer clear of radish, beetroot, okra and eggplant unless you really love these vegetables so much that you cannot eat a dish without them :-)). So all moms with picky eaters at home, this is a sure safe way to sneak in some broccoli and spinach :-)

Thumbrule for mixing vegetables in any Indian bhaaji - Use veggies that are neutral or similar in taste, color and texture so your end result is homogeneous and a single entry does not stand out. There are exceptions to this rule and I will point out on the posts where I make those exceptions.

I know I said this is a family favorite, but BH is ardent fan of this dish. While I always ordered masala poori in chat stations, he would go for pav bhaaji, it is good to differ on those counts since you can share (if the other order is better) or you can just eat what you ordered all by yourself :-)). When we lived in namma Bengaluru (flash back a decade+), we used to randomly walk the streets of Jayanagar (which is a South Bengaluru area, known for wide roads, green trees, beautiful big plots and houses) after work and had a regular stop at a Shanti Sagar joint. I have seen on my recent visits to the area that Shanti Sagar chains have lost some of their patronage due to the choices available to customers now but in my opinion, they made some of the best chats and creamy tomato soup. The prices and portions are very family friendly. While they served chats inside the restaurant, all the action was by the curbside. They usually had this chat station set up right outside the building and people that didn't want to go in and sit could always stand by the road side and have quick plates of chats.

For me, as a new bride and still a novice in the kitchen department, it was amazing to see the guy manage that extremely wide and hot tawa (a shallow griddle) and keep mixing large volume of bhaaji constantly so it doesn't burn. He would take your order, put the butter smeared pav on the edge of the same tawa and keep turning it over until both sides got roasted brown.  Serve the pav with huge blob of the bhaaji topped with chopped onions, coriander leaves and lemon juice. For regular customers, he would add a tad bit extra butter :-). The bhaaji is served in such a large quantity, you will definitely run out of the pav before you finish it, so you could just order an 'extra pav' to wipe the palte clean. if you are a regular, he knew it before you even asked. Standing there on the road side, eating the spicy pav bhaaji with your nose and eyes watering from all the heat in the dish and around you is an unforgettable experience. Thinking back, I probably started adding on inches on my waistline right there on Jayanagar streets :-)

Before I go on to the recipe, I want to state this is not a recipe with accurate measurements, this is how we like it and make it at home and also I have not used any home made masala but stuck to my usual brand of this masala. So what you will find below is a framework for making pav bhaji but I will leave it to you to experiment and find the right mix and proportion of ingredients. What I promise to give you on this post is tips and techniques to get the right consistency of the bhaaji to enjoy with pav. 
What did I use to make Pav Bhaaji? 
This quantity served 5 people sumptuously for dinner
For Bhaaji:
To cook - 
1 cup finely chopped green beans
1 cup finely chopped cabbage
1 cup finely chopped carrots
1 cup finely chopped potatoes
1 cup frozen peas (thawed before use)
1 cup chopped broccoli (use cauliflower instead or skip this entirely)
1.5 cups water
To Fry -
1 cup finely chopped onions (I use red onions)
1 medium ripe tomato - chopped small
1/2 medium green pepper - chopped small
1 Tblsp cooking oil

1/2 stick (=4 Tblsp) butter
2 Tsp salt (adjust to taste)
1.5 Tsp pav bhaaji masala (I use Everest or MDH brands)
1/2 Tsp red chili powder
1/2 tsp garam masala powder
3/4 Tsp amchoor or dry mango powder

To assemble:
1 dozen hamburger buns (I used the whole wheat)
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro or coriander leaves
Juice from 2 medium lemons

How did I make Pav Bhaaji? 
  • Take all the ingredients listed under 'To cook' into a pressure cooker and cook until the vegetables are done and very soft. Let cool, open the cooker and mash the vegetables into a pulp with a hand held potato masher (or the back of a sturdy ladle)
  • Meanwhile, take the Tblsp oil in a big pan, add the chopped onions and let them sweat a little, add tomatoes and the green bell peppers and fry until they turn soft but not mushy. 
  • Open the pressure cooker once the pressure has gone, mash the vegetables into a pulp , add the onion-tomato-bell pepper fry from the above step, add salt and all the dry masala powders listed under 'Others'. Let it come to a gentle boil on medium low heat. 
  • Adjust spices at this time and let it cook uncovered.
  • Cut the butter into small pieces (reserve about a Tsp of butter for the assembly later on) and add it to the boiling bhaaji mixture and let the flavors melt in for a couple of hours. I strongly suggest you do a slow cook process on this, use a heavy bottom pan and keep the heat on low and let the mixture boil for a couple of hours to get the street side chat smell. You can always prepare this ahead of time for parties and reheat but the initial cooking has to be slow to get the consistency and taste. 
  • The bhaaji becomes darker as it cooks, water content reduces and comes into a single soft mass.
How did I serve Pav bhaaji?
  • Heat a griddle, put a dash of butter on the griddle and put the hamburger bun halves on it and roast both sides until lightly browned.
  • Take the hot bread onto a plate, serve it with bhaaji topped with red onions, chopped cilantro and a dash of lemon juice. 
  • Slow cook the bhaaji with the vessel uncovered. Adding butter at this stage allows the vegetables to absorb flavors well. 
  • Pressure cook the vegetables to easily and quickly get them to soften.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Pudina Pulav - A warm pot of rice loaded with veggies and some protein

While I wait for Summer for a number of reasons, Farmer's markets top the list. It is easy in India to find the small shops around every street corner that is loaded with fresh vegetables but here I am mostly at the mercy of super stores that ship vegetables and fruits across the globe. I love farmer's market for 2 reasons - one it gives me the opportunity to walk in the fresh air, pick up the vegetables and secondly I get to talk to people that have actually grown and picked the vegetables which makes it special. The place where we live has multiple farmer's markets running almost every day of the week which is an added bonus. One word of advice for farmer's market shopping - do not go looking for 'Indian' vegetables, buy what is available with the vendor. If you look for exotic stuff, chances are that some smart guy is just getting them from afar and selling it as locally grown :-).

Saturday morning, DD & I went to a neighborhood farmer's market and picked up some great looking green peas in shell. The freshness of the peas almost transported me (without any air tickets :-)) to Mysore. I picked some up along with a bagful of wonderfully crimson wine ripe tomatoes.  The peas were a great buy and my first thought was to make some methi-mutter (fenugreek-peas gravy) with butter but since my fenugreek is not yet ready for harvest I settled on the pulav. Although it is called pudina(mint) pulav and mint takes center stage, the fresh peas did wonderfully add to the taste of this dish.

Pulav is a comforting, no-mess, one pot dish. It comes in handy for lunches or dinner and the best part is you can load it up with a choice of vegetables and get your serving of veggies in a tasty morsel. Mint in the pulav enhances the flavor greatly. The veggies that are pulav friendly are beans, carrots, potatoes, peas, cauliflower. simple thumb rule is to use firm, neutral tasting vegetables in the pulav. Avoid radishes, cabbages, beet roots or squashes in pulav :-)
What do you need to make Pudina Pulav? 
2 cups rice - preferably Basmati variety
3.5 cups water
2 cups of chopped vegetables - any favorite combination of beans, carrots, potatoes, peas & cauliflower
2 Tblsp salt (adjust to taste)
1 Tsp cooking oil
3/4 cup soy chunks - I used nutrela brand (optional)
Pudina masala: 
Mint leaves - picked and tightly packed to make a cup
4 green chilies (adjust chilies to taste)
About 4 - 1 inch long cinnamon pieces
2 cloves
3-4 black pepper corns
1 green cardamom
1 inch piece ginger root
1/4 of a small onion (~1 Tblsp of chopped onions)
How do you make Pudina pulav?
  • Wash rice in 2 changes of water and soak it in water for 30 minutes. 
  • Prepare the vegetables - wash, peel and chop them into bite size chunks. 
  • Take all the ingredients under pudina masala and grind them into a smooth paste with 1/2 cup water. 
  • Heat a pan, add oil and the chopped vegetables and salt. Cover and let the vegetables soften for 3-4 minutes on medium heat.
  • Add the ground masala and switch off the stove. 
  • Drain the soaked rice and add it to the masala veggie mix with remaining water and put it in an electric rice cooker - this is what I did today. See notes for other ways of cooking pulav. 
  • I boiled the soy chunks in water for about 8 minutes (package instructions) with 1/4 Tsp salt, drained, squeezed and added them to the pulav before serving. skip this step if you are not using soy chunks. DD loves soy chunks in pulav and hence I add it. 
  • Serve hot pulav with any raita of your choice. We had ours with a simple cucumber raita and microwave roasted papads. 
  • You can cook pulav on stove top or in pressure cooker. Make sure you keep an eye on the vessel in the stove top method and not let the bottom get burnt. 
  • Basmati rice typically takes 1:2(rice:water) ratio but soaking it 30 minutes prior to cooking already softens the grains and since you need a fluffy pulav with grains seperated, do not use more than the specified amount of water. Make sure you account for the water used for grinding the masala.
  • You can add a Tblsp of grated coconut to the pudina masala for additional taste.
  • Do not add more of cardamom as it tends to get overpowering. 
  • Jack up the number of cloves and pepper if you like the garam masala flavor or increase the green chilies if you like the chili spice. While you can play with the amount of spices, keep in mind to have Pudina/mint as the focus of this pulav, the amounts given above make for a 'perfect' blend of flavors and dishes a not too spicy and not bland pulav. 
  • One of my aunts deep fries slices of regular white bread and puts it on top of cooked pulav as garnish, it tastes great. 
  • Add a handful of cilantro or fresh coriander leaves to the masala while grinding if you like the flavor.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Allam Pachadi or Ginger chutney

Ginger has such a beautiful and strong fragrance. I love ginger especially when it is roasted well in a little bit of oil. I try adding ginger julienne into lot of my preparations from curd rice to dal and most curries.

I know I have been talking about pachadis and chutneys a lot these days :-), I have many more coming up on the blog. One of the reasons is my in-laws are here with us now and we are making varieties of pachadis and mainly because I love them. So, you will see many pachadi recipes but I promise to space them out so as to not bore you with the same kind of dish.

I have blogged about ginger tambuli before but today's pachadi is very different in taste and texture and very versatile too. Now that I have a blog, my family is also enthusiastic about making dishes in the kitchen and I hear a lot of 'Have you put this yet'?, 'You should blog about this..' every day now. Infact, my FIL has declared that he made this trip especially to taste the dishes that go on Sattvaa and also to give me gyan on many more recipes to put on the blog. So for the allam pachadi (ginger chutney), all the credit goes to him for patiently peeling and cutting the ginger roots. Then it was taken over my amma for further processing.

Allam pachadi is a very quintessential Telugu recipe and fares commonly in home meals, festive occasions and restaurants. If you happen to have an Andhra thali in an authentic restaurant, you will see this as one of the side dishes. It is also a great accompaniment for Pesarattu (Moong dal dosa) as it complements the mild pesarattu very nicely. Again, both Amma & Nana were discussing the variations of this pachadi and enlightened me that some people make the pachadi with raw ginger (no frying involved). While they wanted to make it both ways, I vetoed it down since we had only so much ginger at home. So we ended up making it the way amma does and we all love. May be, I will try the non-fried ginger another day and tell you how it worked out. But for now, here is a very fragrant, spicy chutney made with fried allam(ginger).

We made a bowl full of this pachadi yesterday and packed it for our lunch today as we went for a drive up the mountains. The bowl was emptied and wiped clean after the pachadi very ably accompanied sandwiches, curd rice and every thing else we had packed. So, I will be buying more ginger on my next grocery shopping trip :-)
Allam pachadi mudda(allam pachadi mixed with hot rice) in a plate made of chips :-)

What do you need to make Allam Pachadi?
Fresh ginger roots - washed, peeled and chopped into small pieces to fill 2 cups
2 Tblsp mustard/aavalu
1 Tblsp fenugreek/menthilu
1 golf ball sized tamarind
1/2 cup grated/crushed jaggery (adjust to taste)
10-12 dry red chilies
1/8 Tsp of good quality asafoetida/hing
1 Tsp salt (adjust to taste)
2 Tblsp cooking oil
1 Tblsp water
How do you make Allam Pachadi?
  • Wash, pat dry, peel and chop the ginger roots into small pieces (See notes)
  • Heat 1 Tblsp of oil in a pan, add asafoetida,  mustard, fenugreek and red chilies and fry for a minute or two until mustard splutters and fenugreek turns pink. Keep this aside. 
  • In the same pan, add the remaining oil and the ginger pieces and frequently stirring, fry it for 4-5 minutes until ginger turns slightly brown and your kitchen fills with a gingery aroma. Take it aside and let cool. 
  • Add water to the hot pan, add the tamarind and jaggery and switch off the stove after 30 seconds. Let it cool. The idea is to gather any sticking remnants of the ginger in the pan and also heat the water to be used in the pachadi later. This process also softens the tamarind.
  • When all the ingredients have cooled to room temperature, take them to your blender with salt and grind into a smooth paste. Avoid adding any more water, start by pulsing the mixture, once it gets broken down, put it on grind and make it into a smooth paste. 
  • This pachadi stays well upto 10 days if you refrigerate and use clean, dry spoons to serve. The allam pachadi you see in the stores has lot more oil and stays longer. 
  • Choose ginger that is fresh and tender. Do not use old, dry ginger as it spoils the taste of pachadi.
  • Cutting ginger into small pieces is important as it gets cooked evenly and faster when you fry it. 
  • You need to balance ginger's fieriness with tamarind and jaggery, adjust the quantity to suit your taste buds.
  • Use 1.5 Tblsp of tamarind concentrate in place of tamarind and replace jaggery with brown sugar if you like.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Pineapple Gojju - A tangy refreshing curry for the beginning of Summer

Yesterday marked the official beginning of Summer here in the US. We are yet to see the Summer where we live, for now we are still enjoying the rains and the gray skies. School year ended and ended well too, DD is home, happy with her performance at school and extremely happy thinking about the long, lazy days that lie in front of her for the next two months :-). She has admonished both of us from reminding her about her Summer activities, cleaning up and the umpteen other things that parents usually do as soon as the kid gets a break from school. While trying to be 'parenty', we know too well she deserves the break, year had been hectic for her and us with the relocation, new surroundings, new school etc but she came out smiling as always. For that I am grateful!

Pineapple gojju is a popular curry in Karnataka. At one point, it had become a must have menu item on all wedding lunches. I don't know if it still enjoys that status as I haven't been to a wedding back home in a while. We love it for the exploding flavor of this gojju. Though it can be prepared with canned pineapples, I prefer the fruit when it is in season. Last weekend our supermarket was literally filled with pineapples on sale. I am not sure if it was a bumper crop some where or messed up transportation but I was happy to find these yellow beauties for a bargain. They were smaller than the usual ones I buy at Costco (everything is giant sized at the wholesaler anyway) but were just ripe and juicy. We sliced and ate one of the fruits while the other one got transformed into a yummy gojju.

Minimalistic in its demand for ingredients, this gojju stays well and accompanies almost anything from rice to rotis.
What do you need to make Pineapple gojju? 
1 medium sized ripe pineapple - cored, cleaned and chopped into 2 cups of bite sized pieces
1 Tblsp grated coconut (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup water
1 Tsp crushed jaggery/brown sugar
1 Tsp salt (adjust to taste)
2 Tsp cooking oil

To roast in oil: 
1 Tblsp urad dal
1 Tblsp white sesame seeds
1/8 Tsp fenugreek seeds (about 6-8 seeds)
6-8 curry leaves (reserve about 2 for later)
1 inch piece of tamarind or 1/2 Tsp of tamarind concentrate
4-6 dry red chilies (I use a combination of guntur and Byadagi for the heat and color respectively)

How do you make Pineapple gojju? 
  • Heat 1 Tsp of oil in a pan on medium heat and roast all the ingredients listed under 'To roast' until urad dal turns pink and you get a nice roasted aroma. Keep aside to cool. 
  • Grind the roasted mixture with coconut adding 1/4 cup of water into a very smooth paste. 
  • Heat 1 Tsp oil in a cooking pan, add the curry leaves and the ground masala, adjust the consistency by using the remaining 1/4 cup of water. 
  • Add jaggery/brown sugar, salt and bring it to a gentle boil. 
  • Add the chopped pineapple pieces and let it boil once before switching off. 
  • Let the curry stand for an hour before serving it warm or cold. 
  • Choose a pineapple that is ripe (but not over ripe or mushy).
  • If you are using canned pineapple, drain the juice, wash the pieces in running water before adding them to the curry. 
  • Adjust jaggery and tamarind based on the sweetness and tartness of the fruit. 
  • You can use dry coconut to increase the shelf life of the gojju but I usually make it with fresh coconut as we consume it quickly. Fry the dry coconut well in oil before grinding it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Sweet potato rotis - soft Indian bread with sweet potatoes

Necessity is the mother of invention, right? Everyone becomes creative in the face of need. This roti is one such recipe from BH's consulting days. I am sure many of you have been or are currently in the same boat with a spouse travelling on work. Eating out may sound fancy but definitely has its health deterrents, especially if you have to do it long term. In the initial days, when I wasn't used to quick cooking and needed time to plan and execute, my cooking was limited to 2-3 times a week. A large scale cooking on Sunday afternoon (some 2-3 curries and rotis/parathas) with idli or dose hittu (batter) ready for the week, supplemented by a mid week cooking on Wednesday or Thursday :-). It was a great confidence booster to come back home after work with a hungry toddler in tow and find something readily available in the refrigerator. I am older, wiser and can cook faster now so I don't do bulk cooking anymore and we sit down for a family dinner most evenings.

But back in the days when BH was travelling, he would be gone most of the week days. While he used to have lunch with colleagues, he preferred to have something light at his hotel room at night. I used to be constantly on the look out for recipes that were healthy, wholesome and had longer shelf life. We both prefer rotis to rice and curries just because of the reduced mess in eating. BH is a totally non fussy eater so pleasing him through food is a no brainer. While stuffed parathas not only taste great but also stay soft, it requires additional work preparing the stuffing. Instead you can get the same delicious (Well, almost :-)) rotis by adding the ingredients into the dough.

I usually get my brand of whole wheat flour for making rotis. Nammamma in the days when she sent cleaned wheat grains to the flour mill would also add moong dal to make rotis nutritious, that is my mom's concept of multi grain flour long before the super market isles exploded with them.

Today's roti is a tried and tested recipe with two key ingredients. Both add to the taste and nutrition value of these rotis. I won't bore you with a wiki like sermon on the nutritional benefits, a quick look up on the all powerful, all invasive internet will give you what you are looking for (and much more of what you are not looking for also). I have added flax seeds powder  - you can get this as flax seeds meal in super markets or just powder flax seeds in a dry blender and add it while mixing the dough.
What do you need to make sweet potato rotis? 
1 big sweet potato (I used the white colored, you can use the pink or red ones)
2 cups whole wheat flour + 1Tblsp for dusting
2 Tblsp milled flax seeds or powdered flax seeds
1 Tsp salt (adjust to taste)
1 green chili - chopped fine (optional)
2-3 twigs fresh cilantro - chopped fine
How do you make sweet potato rotis? 
  • Trim the ends of sweet potato, cut into 4-5 pieces and boil it in microwave or pressure cooker until soft.
  • Once the boiled sweet potatoes cool down, peel the skin and mash it into a paste.
  • Add chopped cilantro and green chilies (if using) along with salt and mix well. 
  • Add the wheat flour and flax seeds powder and mix it into a soft dough. You will not need water as the boiled potatoes generate enough water content.
  • Knead for 1-2 minutes and let the dough rest for 20 minutes. 
  • Pinch off golf ball sized dough, shape it into a ball and roll it into a circular roti dusting as needed with dry wheat flour.
  • Heat a flat griddle and roast the roti on both sides until it is cooked and light brown spots appear. 
  • Enjoy warm, soft rotis with any pickle or chutney and a side of buttermilk or yogurt.
  • I did not use oil while roasting, you can if you prefer.
  • I sometimes add a Tsp of white sesame seeds into the dough which is optional. 
  • The dough tends to become softer as you let it rest, take that into account as you do not want a very sticky dough on hand. 
  • Based on the quality of sweet potato, sometimes the prepared dough tends to get sticky, add dry wheat flour if needed and knead for a couple of minutes before you roll into rotis. 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Tomato-mint chutney - A spicy relish

Chutney's are like a beautiful piece of jewelry or a pretty dress, they are decorations, embellishments to enhance a meal. Growing up, my chutney experience was limited but married into a Telugu family where chutneys or pachadis as they are called is a norm at every meal, I have broadened my horizon with chutneys. A traditional Andhra home meal is not complete without a chutney/pachadi. Some day, I will blog about thalis at home when I can get to such a well prepared fare :-) but until then it will be in bits and pieces.

Chutneys are two types - one you mix with rice which is slightly dry and spicy and the other you use as a dip or side dish with dose, idli, roti etc which is slightly runny in consistency. We had a stone grinder at home in Mysore and it was my favorite kitchen work to make chutneys in it, the fringe benefit was that I could keep tasting the chutney as I ground the ingredients. But the tasting was only allowed with nammamma's permission and was completely taboo on certain days:-), so I had to be sneaky. The best part of the chutney grinding in a stone grinder was if the rice was ready, amma would give me a couple spoons of rice to put into the grinder, scrape the chutney off, mix it with rice and take it onto a plate to slowly enjoy the fresh, spicy chutney anna(rice), Ah... that is a visit to heaven right there.

Today's chutney is an evolved recipe and is mainly an accompaniment to dose or idli. We love mint flavor at home and I make the popular pudina/mint chutney very often with coconut. I wanted to try something without coconut and also recreate a tomato chutney I had had at a restaurant. Resulting chutney is delicious, spicy and goes well with a variety of dishes. This has now become a family favorite.

What do you need to make tomato-mint chutney? 
3 medium sized tomatoes (use fleshy variety of tomato) chopped roughly
1 cup packed picked mint leaves
1 Tblsp chopped onions
Small piece of tamarind or 1/2 Tsp tamarind paste (see notes)
1 Tsp chana dal/kadle bele
3-4 black pepper corns
2-3 green chilies - slit lengthwise
1/2 Tsp crushed jaggery/brown sugar
1 Tsp salt (adjust to taste)
1 Tsp cooking oil

How do you make tomato-mint chutney?
  • Heat oil in a pan, add chana dal, pepper corns and green chilies. Fry for a minute until chana dal roasts and turns light pink. 
  • Add chopped onions and fry for a minute until it turns pink.
  • Add the mint leaves and give it a stir.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes and continue to fry until tomatoes turn mushy and the leaves wilt completely - additional 3-5 minutes depending on the heat. 
  • Switch off the stove, add salt, jaggery and let the mixture cool completely. 
  • Take everything to your grinder/mixer and blend it to a smooth mixture. You will not need any water for this as tomato blends well. This chutney does not have a bright red color as tomato mixes with green mint.
  • Enjoy the spicy chutney with a hint of sweetness and loaded with mint flavor. We had ours with the water melon rind dose. 
  • Wait for the mixture to cool completely, if you grind when hot or warm, the taste changes. 
  • Adjust the chilies and black pepper to your taste, I like it more peppery than the chili heat. I added a piece of dry red chilies also this time.
  • You do not need tamarind if the tomatoes are sour, so adjust accordingly. 
  • Whenever using green chilies in frying, make sure you have cut it open (a slit or a chop), else you will have them popping over the place.  

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Watermelon rind dose(a) - convert the throw aways into tasty breakfast

When life gives you huge watermelons, what do you do? We eat the cool, juicy slices, drink yummy, tangy frescas all day long. But what about the equally voluminous amount of the rind, do you throw it away? I do not, and hopefully you don't either after you try this heavenly dosa. The rind (white portion between the fleshy pink and the outer green covering) is very similar in texture, water content and flavor to that of winter melons (ash gourds) and you can actually recreate the magic of majjige huli with it.

Summer times, water melons in the grocery stores remind me of the 2.5 hours journey from Bangalore to Mysore by road.  The road side would be strewn with water melons of all sizes and shapes and the market streets would be covered with carts showing off pink water melon slices. Easy, simple and healthy snacks we grew up with.

If you are a first timer buying a whole water melon, just make sure you pick up the fruit and weigh it in your hands. You want the heaviest fruit in that size category as this will have most meat (Err fruit:-)). The other thing to pay attention to is that a naturally wine ripened fruit typically has a yellow spot on the surface where it would have rested on the ground. As it grows, the weight pushes it down and since the contact increases with the ground, the spot becomes pale in contrast to the remaining flashy green.

Watermelon rind dose (the famous dosa is called dose in Kannada) has a very delicate flavor to it without being overbearing and goes well with a myriad of chutneys and powders. This dose can be made savory or sweet. The version I have below is a savory version, variation talks about the sweet version if you have a sweet tooth.
What do you need to make water melon rind dose? 
Makes about 20 doses
6 stuffed cups of bite size pieces of water melon rind (See notes)
2 cups rice (I used brown rice which makes the dose tastier)
1/2 cup toor dal/togari bele
1 Tblsp coriander seeds
1 Tsp cumin seeds
4-5 dry red chilies (adjust to your spice tolerance)
2 Tblsp grated coconut (fresh or frozen)
1 Tblsp salt
1-2 Tsp of cooking oil to make dose
sequence of getting to the water melon rind :-), the white pieces at the far right is what I have used in the batter.

How do you make watermelon rind dose?
  • Soak rice, toor dal, coriander seeds, cumin and red chilies in sufficient amount of water for 4-6 hours. If you are using brown rice, soak them over night.
  • First make a pulp of water melon rind in your mixer/grinder, keep this aside. 
  • Drain water from the soaked ingredients and wash it once. 
  • Grind the soaked mixture and coconut using water melon rind pulp in place of water into a smooth batter.
  • Mix salt into the batter. 
  • Heat a flat griddle or dose pan, take a ladle full of the batter and spread it quickly in a circular motion, this dose can be spread really thin or thick based on your preference. 
  • Sprinkle a couple drops of cooking oil around the dose, let it cook for 2-3 minutes until you see the dose becoming brown on the under side. 
  • Gently work the edges and flip the dose over and let cook for a minute. 
  • Serve it hot off the griddle with any spicy chutney or powder of your choice. 
  • 6 cups of water melon rind is the suggested proportion, since you are using this in place of water, more the merrier as long as you can stay at the dose batter consistency. 
  • This batter is slightly thicker than the normal dose batter, if you turn your ladle, the batter should drop and not flow. 
  • The batter does not need to be fermented, the fresh batter has the rich flavor of the rind. 
  • Feel free to add a couple slices of fruit also for the color and faint sweet taste. 
  • This is a soft dose, do not expect it to be paper crisp.
  • For crisp doses, do not cover it while cooking and spread it thin. If you favor the thicker dose, cover and cook only one side until done. 

  • To make the sweet version of the above dose: Skip coriander seeds and red chilies, use 3 Tblsp of grated jaggery/brown sugar while grinding the batter. Make this dose slightly thicker, cover and cook it on only one side. Relish with a dollop of ghee on top. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Cajun Potatoes - baked potato wedges

Days are just flying by, sometimes I feel like I started blogging just days back but looking at the posts and the other blogs I have discovered in the process, I realize it has been months. Infact Sattvaa entered its 6th month of blogging in June. I am back here with another Blog hop, an event introduced by Radhika of Tickling Palates. I love the event as I get the opportunity to visit new blogs which I may not have come across in my daily blogging and also get introduced to so many of the talented bloggers out there.

This month I am paired with Faiza who blogs at Faiza Ali's kitchen from UK. You will find recipes from Indian rice biryanis to Italian bruschetta on her blog. I haven't explored all her recipes yet but will definitely go back. I chose Spicy cajun potatoes from her blog for two reasons - one, every one at home loves potatoes in all forms and shapes, two - I jumped as soon as I saw that it was spicy. It is a very simple recipe and is a mouthful of flavors. A plateful of Cajun potatoes were gone in minutes after taking it out from the oven as I had to scurry around to get a couple of decent pictures :-).

I love Cajun flavors, if you have tasted the Cajun trail mix, you know what I am talking about. A couple of years back, one of my colleagues at work had brought a big Walmart bag of Cajun trail mix and as we were working late into the evening on a project, it was our snack. The mixture of roasted nuts in the specially blended Cajun spices makes this quite addictive. I have bought it many times since then especially to motivate (read bribe) my team. All I need is to send a group email and say there is a box of cajun mix and people come into the office and then you can talk work :-), I know it is sneaky. Candies and cajun mix are hot favorites at work.

Though I have been baking potato wedges with various combinations of spices, I had never zeroed in on this particular Cajun blend. I am glad I came across it during blog hop, thank you Faiza! for this now family favorite. Enjoy this simply delicious Cajun baked potatoes as a snack or a side dish. Faiza has used Thyme and Oregano in her preparation, I skipped Thyme as I didn't have it.

What do you need to make the Cajun potato wedges? 
3 medium sized red potatoes
1 Tblsp olive oil
1/2 Tsp red chili powder
1/2 tsp black pepper corns - freshly ground
1 Tbslp fresh chopped oregano
1/2 Tsp dry thyme or 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1 Tsp salt (adjust to taste)
1/2 lemon
How do you make Cajun potato wedges? 
  • Wash and cut potatoes into wedges. 
  • Prepare the Cajun blend by mixing all ingredients except for potatoes and lemon juice.
  • Mix in potato wedges and ensure every wedge is well coated with the mixture. 
  • Let it marinate for 1/2 hour. 
  • Pre heat the oven to 400F, line the marinated wedges in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 30-35 minutes. 
  • Check after 15 minutes and turn the potatoes over once. 
  • Squeeze the lemon juice on top and serve the wedges hot.
  • I like to use red potatoes for baking as they hold their shape well under the heat. You can use any variety of potatoes but avoid the floury types. 
  • Marinating the potato wedges in the spice mix for a minimum of 20-30 minutes ensures that they absorb the flavors well. 
This plate of cajun potatoes goes to Blog Hop-18