Category Archives: Flat breads

Rajasthani Mini Thali

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Rajasthan, the desert land, is a beautiful state with a colourful history behind it. It is the land of ‘Rajas(kings)’ (Raja-sthan) and there are many palaces and fortresses there, reflecting the state’s rich royal heritage.

Travelling to Rajasthan was a dream and we did travel to Jaipur and Jaisalmer 8 years back. It’s still an experience I relive and relish, especially the Jaisalmer fort. If possible, I would love to go there again…and again….and again

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Not just the palaces, Rajasthani food is also famous. Their cooking style is a bit different. They bank on pulses and dried vegetables more than fresh veggies, since the desert is no ideal place to grow vegetables. It’s all different with advanced irrigation techniques and easy transportation now a days.

Yet you will find extensive use of pulses in Rajasthani cooking.

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We had been to Choki Dhani,  a Rajasthani village resort which showcases food and art culture from Rajasthan. We went as a group and so had fun. The place was over crowded and the waiting time for each and everything was long, but since we were a big group, the waiting time was yacking time and hence a happy time as well :-).

My son enjoyed the trip a lot (‘a lot’ is really less to describe his happiness) and surprisingly, loved the food also a lot.

He finished almost everything on his plate, without much fuss. He was hungry and the food was tasty.

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The menu I have here is a bit on the lines of what we had in Choki dhani. They served us phulka, puri and bajra roti…all of which my son loved. I have replaced the puri with missi roti.

They started off with churma and brought the dal and baati. Then came the kadi and gatte ki sabzi. I skipped the last one, it deserves a separate post on its own :-). There was palak paneer and an aloo ki sabzi to go with the rotis. Some 3-4 varieties of pickles and chutneys were served.

Kichidi came later and it was served with sugar. Keeping the Chennai crowd in mind, they have included rasam, sambar rice and curd rice in the menu as well.

So here I have 3 bread varieties, an aloo curry and a mixed veg curry to go with it. Kichuri, dal and kadhi with 2 types of pickle/chutney as well.

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The Menu:

  • Khichuri/Kichidi : Rice and moong dal cooked together with a pinch of turmeric powder and salt. Vegetables can also be added to make it healthier.
  • Bajre ki roti  : A whole grain roti made of millet flour. It’s usually made as a single thick roti, saving cooking time. The dough is crumbly because of the absence of gluten, so thick roti is the way to go.
  • Missi roti : Roti made with chick pea flour (besan). Has many versions and this is one of them.
  • Phulka : Thin whole wheat roti  which is cooked in the flame directly for puffing up. No oil is used.
  • Sabz Jaipuri : A mixed vegetable preparation from the city of Jaipur.
  • Atte ki kadhi : A yogurt based preparation which uses whole wheat as the thickening agent instead of the usual chickpea flour (besan)
  • Aloo ki sabzi : A simple potato preparation that goes all around India.
  • Dal : My friend’s preparation :-). Here is a the recipe for Pancharatna dal, which is very popular in Rajasthan as well.
  • Malai Mirch : Chopped green chillies, fried in ghee and then cooked with cream. YUM!
  • Lehsun Chutney : Garlic chutney, pairs well with the breads
  • Pyaz, Nimbu, Mirch : Raw onions, lemon wedges and green chillies. The green chillies can be fried in ghee/oil.

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Filed under Flat breads, Rice, Pasta, Side Dishes, Thali

Punjabi Thali – Palak Paneer, Dal Tadka, Chole, Aloo Paratha, Jeera rice

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What are the dishes that come to your mind when you think about an Indian thali?

Paneer butter masala? Palak Paneer? Paneer Tikka masala? Dal Makni? Rajma? Chole? Parathas? Naan? Dal fry?

Well, almost all of these are from the state of Punjab. Punjabi food has become synonymous with Indian food.

And with a good reason. It’s absolutely fantastically tasty!

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The flip side is that it’s rich. A lot of fat in the form of butter or ghee go into these dishes and it cannot be had on an everyday basis.

On an everyday basis, it can be roti or low fat parathas with simple side dishes.

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This mini thali here is a balance of rich food and the simple ones. The parathas have been treated with ghee, but there isn’t much that’s gone into the side dishes. The dal is simple and plain and so is the chole. The salad provides a refreshing experience, so does the onion with lemon wedges. I have never tried eating the chillies (fried or not), so can’t comment on that!

Palak paneer is also not too rich, yet maintaining that oomph factor. You can dress it up a bit more by adding some cream.

Jeera rice is a good side for this meal. It’s mildly flavoured, so it can be enjoyed with curries without having a clash of flavours.

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The Menu:

  • Palak Paneer: Puréed spinach with cottage cheese curry
  • Dal Tadka  : A simple and easy moong dal preparation
  • Chole: Chickpea cooked in a tomato based sauce. Pairs well with the Indian breads.
  • Aloo paratha : Potato and onion stuffed whole wheat Indian bread.
  • Jeera rice : Rice with a simple tadka of cumin seeds and some spices.
  • Raita : Chopped onions and green chillies in yogurt. Decorated with a pinch of chilli powder
  • Onions, chillies, lemon wedges : on the side

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Maharashtra Puri Bhaji Thali

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This was one of the earliest posts I did. The state of Maharashtra. This was one of the easiest one as well, since I blindly followed Pradnya’s post, combining it with her rural Maharashtra thali and changing a thing or two here and there.

In India, you are not a mom, if you can’t make pooris. And in my case, it’s not as a mom I have been failing, but as a wife. My son doesn’t like poori, but it’s the man’s favourite food.

And with this thali, the pooris came out brilliant for a change. So the man was indeed happy!

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Pradnya had made a sweetish dal with the thali. I went for a different version, a simple non sweet basic dal.

Varan-bhath (rice with dal) is a meal combination all over India and this is just one version.

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Masale bhath is a spicy flavoured rice. Coconuts, cashew nuts, gherkins all go into this dish. This, apparently, is a regular item in the wedding feast menu.

I found these two write ups about food from Maharashtra quite interesting, A Cook at heart and Food For Thought.

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Meal Idea : The Pumpkin Farm

Read some sweet write ups about food @ A Cook at heart and Food For Thought

  • Puri                 :  Deep fried whole wheat bread
  • Batata Bhaji :  A simple potato preparation, semi-gravy style that goes along with poori or roti
  • Shrikhand    :  Sweetened thick yogurt preparation
  • Varan Bhat  : Plain rice and dal (lentil) combination
  • Masale Bhat : Spiced rice with ivy gourd and nuts, a regular wedding menu item
  • Capsicum Zunka : Capsicum cooked with gramflour, quick and easy recipe
  • Mattha           :  Spiced butter milk

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Jharkhand – Chilka roti & Chana Dal ki Chutney

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Once upon a time in a small town, there lived a woman who knew only one breakfast to prepare. Arisi upma. And everyday she prepared it with a lot of love for her husband. But after eating it day in and day out, the husband was bored with the dish. He decided to take her to a restaurant nearby to show her that there are dishes beyond upma.

So off they went to a fancy restaurant. He ordered a porridge/pudding from the menu. And with great expectations, they bit into their lovely looking, all dressed up porridge.

….and the wife blurted out,”Upma!”

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The scene above is not unlike my experience with this chilka roti and chana dal chutney. I didn’t believe Jharkhand dishes would taste like our everyday South Indian recipes. But one bite into this roti and I blurted out,”Ada dosa!”

And a bit of chutney had me shouting,”Parippu thogayal!

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It’s amazing that people in two different zones of the country have come up with very similar dishes. Our South Indian Adai dosa has a combination of lentils and this chikli roti has only chana dal.

The chutney tasted really close to our thogayal which is made of a toor dal and chana dal combination. Though this chutney goes well with the roti, I felt it would pair well with rice and a more gravy-ish chutney would be suited for the roti. This is again because my taste buds are tamed to that way of eating. No other reason.

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The Menu:

  • Chilka Roti : A dosa/pancake like preparation. Rice and chana dal (split gram) are soaked and ground together for the batter.
  • Chana dal ki Chutney : A thick chutney prepared with chana dal, coconut and red chillies.

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Delhi: Paratha and Bedmi Poori Thali

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For the fourth day of the month-long marathon, we are visiting the capital city.

Delhi is a historical city and we have planned to visit the place multiple times. Once we planned a trip to Rajasthan via Delhi. But because of heavy rains, the train was delayed by more than 24 hours. So we cut short the Delhi part and went directly to see the Taj. The rest of the trip was fine, but Delhi has been elusive since.

Now that I know about their street food, I am definitely planning a trip sometime soon!

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Apparently the street food totally rocks in Delhi. Read more about it here. There is a ‘parathe wali gali’ itself. And there are innumerable varieties of chaats and other food.

Boy! That’s the place I should have been born!!

I tried making the paratha thali here, but without that plate where they serve the parathas, it just looks spread out and incomplete. My original menu was onion paratha, aloo curry, tamarind chutney, mint chutney and chole.

Then when I was digging Vaishali’s blog (she is from Delhi), I saw a refreshing kulle ka chaat recipe and also one for bedmi poori. These two were new to me,  so I cut out the chhole and added the chaat and bedmi poori to the menu. The aloo curry is also from her space, it turned out absolutely fantastic. Scroll down for the recipe links.

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The kulle ka chaat was so easy to put together and tasted so fantastic. Like Vaishali, I too served it chilled. It has very basic ingredients, all you need to do is cook your chana and chill it. Serve them later in chilled vegetable or fruit ‘baskets’ (carved out veggies like potato, sweet potato, tomatoes or fruits like bananas, orange or apple) topped with pomegranate seeds, lemon juice, chaat masala and coriander leaves. It’s best served chill.

When you add that bit of lemon juice and a pinch of chaat masala, this simple combination waves a great culinary magic.

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Bedmi poori has urad dal paste in it and the dal can be prepared as a stuffing or the paste can be mixed with the dough and made as pooris. I followed Vaishali’s recipe and made it as a filling.

The filling really resembled our South Indian Vada to some extend, which is also made with urad dal.

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The menu:

  • Bedmi Poori : Deep fried pooris with urad dal filling. Served with aloo curry
  • Aloo Subzi : A potato based curry that pairs well with bedmi poori and the paratha
  • Onion Paratha : Parathas with onion filling
  • Pudina Chutney : Grind a cup of mint leaves with an onion, 2 pods of garlic, 2 green chillies, 1/2 tsp coriander powder, 1/2 tsp cumin powder, 1/2 tsp garam masala and salt. Add a bit of lemon juice for retaining the green colour.
  • Tamarind chutney : Sweet, sour and spicy tamarind chutney enhanced with dry fruits and nuts.
  • Kulle Ka Chaat : A chaat with cooked chickpea, pomegranate pearls and a fruit/vegetable basket.

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Vegetable Omelette

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I said I send fruit as snacks for my son – I didn’t say he finishes it off everyday. On the days the snack comes back half full, I present them as fruit pancakes the next day.

Luckily for me, he has been quite a good kid snack-wise for a while now. So the apple pancakes will just have to wait.

Let’s turn our attention to this vegetarian omelette, which is also a good mess less lunch box choice. It makes a great quick fix evening snack/tiffin as well. The best part of this recipe is that it was sitting in the drafts folder, waiting to be used straight away!

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Recipe Source: Veg Recipes of India

Ingredients:

  • Gram flour/besan                :           1 cup
  • Onion                                         :           1 small, chopped finely
  • Tomato                                     :            1 small, chopped finely
  • Green Chillies                        :             1, sliced into thin rounds (optional)
  • Ginger                                       :             1/2″, chopped fine
  • Coriander leaves                  :            a handful, chopped finely
  • a pinch of turmeric powder
  • a pinch of garam masala
  • Salt
  • Oil for making the omelette
  • Water                                          :            approx. 1.5 – 2 cups

Method:

  1. Clean and chop the onion, tomatoes, chilles and coriander leaves.
  2. Add the chopped vegetables to the besan. Tip in the salt, garam masala and turmeric powder. Add water and mix until you get a lump free batter. The consistency will be neither too thick nor too thin.
  3. Heat a tawa and add a tsp of oil. Pour the batter like you would make a dosa/pancake. Add a spoon of oil around the omelette.
  4. Wait for the top side to cook (the batter will become dry and the bottom will start to brown) and flip over and cook the other bottom.
  5. I served this stuffed between two slices of bread with a bit of mayonnaise, but this omelette tastes good on its own as well.

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This recipe is linked to Blogging Marathon #34 under mess free lunch box theme. Check out the Blogging Marathon page to see the other participants and their entries.

The post also goes to Mireille’s Taste of Tropics – Chillies.

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Aloo Kachori – Mess free lunch box

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Deep-frying? Not my thing.

Eating deep-fried food? Now, that’s my thing!

A friend fried these for me once and ever since that I have been planning to make these at home.

And finally it’s happened this week. And I can’t believe it either!

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This is no way healthy, but yet it keeps the kid happy. So it will be finding its way to the lunch box pretty soon. It is served usually with spicy garlic chutney. Now that is something we cannot serve the kid.

We are better off with ketch up or no side dishes here.

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Makes : 4-6 small kachoris

Ingredients:

For the dough:

  • Whole wheat flour      :       1 cup
  • Ajwain (omam/carom seeds)  :   1/2 tsp
  • Oil                                   :           2 tbsp
  • Water, as required

Filling:

  • Potatoes, boiled and mashed    :   2 medium
  • Onion                                                  :   1 chopped fine
  • Turmeric powder                          :   1/4 tsp
  • Coriander powder                         :   1/2 tsp
  • Chilli powder                                   :   1/2 tsp
  • Garam Masala                                 :   1/2 tsp
  • Aamchoor (optional)                   :   1/2 tsp
  • Oil                                                        :    1-2 tbsp
  • Salt
  • Jeera (cumin seeds)                      :      1/2 tsp

For Kachoris:

  • Oil, to deep fry

Method:

  1. Make the dough first. Mix the flour, oil, ajwain seeds and add enough water to form a non sticky dough. Keep aside to rest.
  2. Wash, clean and cook the potatoes. I usually pressure cook them for 2-3 whistles. Peel, mash and keep aside.
  3. Chop the onions finely. Heat oil. Add jeera and once it splutters, add onions. Once its brown, add the mashed potatoes. Mix and then add the spice powders. Add salt and taste test once. Adjust seasoning if required. Take off the heat and let it cool
  4.  Assembling: When its time to prepare the kachoris, heat oil for deep frying. Divide the dough into small gooseberry sized balls.
  5. Roll out one ball of dough into a 3” circle lightly. If the dough sticks to the rolling-pin, add 1/4 a spoon of oil to the surface and then roll out. 
  6. Place a tablespoon of the filling in the middle. Bring up the sides of the circle around the filling and enclose it completely, pinching the dough on top. Flatten it a bit and roll into a thick small circle of the size of your palm. Use a bit of oil to help with rolling out the dough. Be careful while doing this, as the filling will split out if you use too much of force while rolling them.
  7. Deep fry in medium to low heat until golden. Serve with chilli garlic chutney.

Chilli – Garlic Chutney

  • Grind one bulb garlic (I left the skin on the pods) with 2-3 green chillies and salt. Squeeze a lemon’s juice and serve. It stays for about a week and tastes milder a day after.
  • The chutney is extremely spicy and 1/2 a tsp per kachori would be fine. And don’t even think of serving this to the kids!

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This post is linked to Blogging Marathon 34. Check out the Blogging Marathon page for other participants’ entries.

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Mess free lunch box

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Humor was my forte. My son was my muse.

Words were my strength. This space was my slate.

And now the words just don’t come. The right ones are elusive when you need them the most.

That’s when pictures help! So browse through these set of lunch ideas. There are five sets and all of them are mess-free.

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My son’s lunch has to be mess free everyday. Else it comes right back untouched. So what I have clicked here is more or less what I send him on a regular basis. 

Snacks is almost always a fruit. And the main lunch is idli, dosa, bread, chapati, poori or in these lines. IMG_4301  

Dosa is a favorite for lunch. I sometimes make dosa sandwich with peanut butter or Nutella.

Life’s problems melt away when you open a bottle of nutella. I wish I could make some people dissolve away too ;-).

Just wishing!

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Fruits is my choice for his snacks. The varieties usually range from apple  to pomegranate to oranges to bananas. Dry fruits and nuts are also a good choice. 

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Poori is a favorite, but since I am still learning the art of deep-frying, this is not a regular one. I guess I am doing OK at the moment.

Ingredients:

Makes 6-8 pooris

  • Whole wheat flour, atta     :        1 cup
  • Salt                                              :       1/4 cup (optional)
  • Water for kneading into a dough
  • Oil for deep frying

Method:

  1. In a big bowl, mix the atta and the salt.
  2. Add water slowly and knead till you get a smooth, but stiff dough. For poori, you shouldn’t have a very soft dough – It should be a not to dry, not too wet kind of dough. If you want you can add 1 tbsp of hot oil (from the oil for deep frying) while kneading the dough.
  3. The dough shouldn’t be allowed to rest as it soaks up oil (that’s what everyone says). Pinch 6-8 small balls to make the pooris.
  4. Heat oil for deep frying. Roll out the balls of dough into a circle of 5-6″ diameter. I prefer oil to help with rolling than using wheat flour. The poori should not be too thin, it will be crisp if that’s the case. It should be thin tp medium and of even thickness, else it will not puff up.
  5. When the oil is hot, gently slide the poori into it. It will go down and then surface up again. If the thickness of the poori is right (even through out), then it will puff up nicely. Flip over and fry the top as well. Take off the oil, let it sit in a kitchen napkin and then serve hot with potato masala.
  6. Here I have just packed it as lunch for my son. He prefers to eat it just like that or pair it with jam now and then.

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Jam/Nutella/Peanut butter and  sugar are mostly the side dishes for the main dish (idli/dosa etc). Rice is reserved for evening when he comes back from school and is too hungry to argue. 

Yet he argues everyday!

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Bread is a savior. It’s easy to pack and keeps the kid happy. Peanut butter and jam is the usual combination, nutella too if it’s still there! 

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Raisins and apricots (I know!) are his favorites. I am yet to develop a taste for apricot though.

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Packing roti subzi (chapati with vegetable curry) is a distant dream of mine and doesn’t seem happening anytime soon, yet I try every now and then.

May be one day I will succeed!

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This post goes to Blogging Marathon 34. The theme is mess free lunch box. Check out the Blogging Marathon page to see the posts from the other participants.

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Pesarattu Upma

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The below is a piece of writing, and not real. The story is my entry for the theme ‘Food with fiction’ for Blogging Marathon.

“You would make me the happiest person on Earth if you accept my proposal (of marriage). I want to be with you for the rest of my life. Can we start a new life together?  “, he asked her almost 2 years back. She had said yes, but he wasn’t sure whether he was the happiest person on earth now. He wasn’t even sure he was happy.

“Two years of working together, one year of friendship, four months of whirlwind romance …And now its fights everyday! About everything! What went wrong?! I used to be crazy about her, but now she drives me crazy.” He thought dryly.

A year into marriage, he realized the whole thing was not what he expected. The tiny demure woman he loved is now a raging demon he avoids as much as he can. “If I drive, its rash driving. If I watch TV, then I am neglecting her. For anything and everything, there is a way of doing things and it’s always HER way. Everything should be done a certain way and its the end of the world if it doesn’t.”

“It’s end of the world for me anyway”, he thought as he drove aimlessly. After today’s fight, he was sure she would have left their home. May be he should not go back to check!

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He knew not how, but he was there in the beach now. He parked his car and walked towards the waves. For a second he considered walking right into the ocean. “It’s too big. It will drown out all my problems.”

He sat there watching the waves. Not thinking anything. Just looking at the waves.

He had no idea how long he was there. It was dark when his phone beeped. It was a message from his wife.

“You would make me the happiest person on Earth if you accept my apology. I want to be with you for the rest of my life. Can we start a new life together please? “

He couldn’t help but smile. He took the phone out. He knew it was going to be a long call. He knew they had a lot to talk. And he knew it was better over the phone than in person.

And above all, he knew that everything was going to be fine now.

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And while they sort out their problems, let us have a look into the protein rich dosa kind of pancake here. Pesarattu is an Andhra specialty and its served with upma.

Though ideally it’s cooked in a lot of oil, you can skip/reduce it when using a non stick pan. Now that makes it healthy, a good source of protein and a perfect dinner for sports enthusiastic kids. I am sure Pradnya would agree with me.

Sending this over to Pradnya’s place where she is serving Nutritious Food for Sports Enthusiasts for Valli’s Kid’s Delight, this month.

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Recipe Source : Cook’s Hide out. You can check out the recipe for Upma there. I will be updating it later here.

Ingredients:

  • Green gram dal, whole  :  2 cups
  • Rice                                       :    1/4 cup
  • Green chilies                     :    4-5
  • Ginger                                  : 2″ piece
  • Cumin seeds                      : 1tsp
  • Salt, to taste
  • Oil
  • Onion                                  :    1, chopped fine
  • Jeera , to sprinkle on top

Method:

  1. Soak whole green gram dal overnight or for 4 hours at least.
  2. Grind it along with the chillies, 1 tsp jeera, ginger and salt. Make the batter as smooth as you can, though it will still be a bit coarse.
  3.  Heat a tawa. Add a ladle full of the prepared batter and spread it like a dosa. Sprinkle a bit of jeera and finely chopped onions on top. Press lightly with a spoon .
  4. Take one tsp of oil and pour all around the pesarattu. Cook till the bottom is done and flip over and cook the other side.
  5. Serve hot with chutney of your choice.

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Pesto Chapati

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I am never short of words. I always have more than one person’s share to talk. But there are times, even for people like me, when the words just don’t seem to come. I am going through such a phase when it comes to writing here in this small space of mine.

My son is growing up fast, I am not able to catch up with him or run along with him (literally and philosphically). He says things, which I enjoy at that moment and then totally forget it later because he has done some other new thing. I am not able to capture those here, so I have just decided to enjoy the moment. Whenever he says something funny, my mind unwinds and a smile comes in my lips despite my trying to be stern. Little things in life really makes it worth living!

It is definitely a blessing when the only worry in your life is ‘What to cook for dinner tonight?’. A real blessing, actually!

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Valli makes even the toughest question of the day (What to cook today) easy with her BM themes. This week its stuffed breads, so here is a chapati with a different version than usual. A chapati with an Italian pesto filling!

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for more themes and more recipes from other participants.

Ingredients:

  • Whole wheat flour : 2 cups (makes about 6-8)
  • Water to make the dough
  • Salt
  • Mint Pesto, about 2 tsp per chapati

Method:

  1. In a big bowl, make the chapati dough. Add water in quater cup fulls to get a stiff yet pliable, soft dough. Keep aside for 15 minutes
  2. Divide the dough into 6 or 8 lemon sized balls. Roll into 2″ circles, keep the pesto filling. Close from the edges so that the filling is sealed inside. Roll again into round chapatis. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
  3. Heat a tawa, cook the roti on both sides till brown spots appear. Serve with Green Peas Masala.

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Linking this to Valli’s Kid’s Delight, for this month’s theme : Healthy Lunch Box Recipes hosted by PJ of Seduce your Tastebuds.

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