A recap of the 30 day Indian Food Odyssey. Click the link/picture to go the particular post.
A recap of the 30 day Indian Food Odyssey. Click the link/picture to go the particular post.
From April first, the Blogging Marathon participants have been traversing through most of the Indian states (and some Union territories) trying out the regional food, one state at a time.
The final stop is at West Bengal and this is what I have prepared for the state. Check out the other Bengali recipes at the end of the post.
The posts done till now were prepared from the month of February and so all I had to do was schedule the posts to go live on that particular day. But unfortunately for Bengal, I kept procrastinating until the end. So April 30th came and went and I was still clueless about what to prepare.
I had bought some ready made rasgolla with an idea to prepare cheater’s rasmalai and to end the month long marathon on a sweet note. But then some ideas just don’t materialize…in this case, the idea(rasgolla) got eaten as such before I could improvise it as rasmalai.
The good thing was the rest of the participants did their share of Bengali dishes and I was able to browse through each of them and finalize mine. After ruling out rasmalai and the chanar payesh, which some had prepared, I decided on Vaishali’s Tauk dal and doi dharosh. It’s hardly surprising, given that I have already done three states (Gujarat, Delhi, UP and now Bengal) based on her blog :-).
It was also kind of in line with the lunch platter theme I was preparing for all the other states. So, tauk dal and doi dharosh it is…along with luchis and the left over ready made rasgollas. For the luchis, I prepared a corn kurma as a side dish. It’s not a Bengali recipe.
This is a picture of a Bengali Thali I had prepared two years back :-). Check out here for more pictures and the recipe links.
We have reached the fag-end of the state wise culinary journey and today, we are in Uttar Pradesh. Regular day-to-day lunch is the common dal-chawal-subzi-roti combination (Rice with dal, roti and veggies), so I thought I would turn to the capital city Lucknow’s rich Awadhi cuisine.
Awadh is the current Lucknow (and some surrounding regions) now and is known for its royal Nawabs and rich food fit for the kings. Dum style cooking (slow covered cooking over low fire) is what the place is most famous for.
This is what the wiki says: “The bawarchis and rakabdars of Awadh gave birth to the dum style of cooking or the art of cooking over a slow fire, which has become synonymous with Lucknow today. Their spread consisted of elaborate dishes like kebabs, kormas, biryani, kaliya, nahari-kulchas, zarda, sheermal, roomali rotis, and warqi parathas. The richness of Awadh cuisine lies not only in the variety of cuisine but also in the ingredients used like mutton, paneer, and rich spices including cardamom and saffron. “
The thali here is a simple affair with a nawabi pulao that’s cooked in milk. Sultani dal is nothing but toor dal made rich with yogurt, cream and milk. Mattar ka nimona which is a green peas preparation. The bhindi is cooked in dum, though I couldn’t make out too much of taste difference.
Boondi ka raita is a simple yogurt prepared with ready made boondi(gram flour mini dumplings).
The lachha paratha is a favourite with my son. The rice too turned out to be good for my son since it was not spicy.
Thali idea : Ribbons To Pastas
I remember the time I started making rotis/chapatis. The game that we had was “Guess the shape!”
India map was the most common one, but animal shapes like kangaroo or cheetah too weren’t uncommon. We used to have a lot of fun, letting our imagination run wild, while savouring those out of shape rotis. The good thing was, no matter what the shape is, the taste was fine.
Now when I roll out chapatis, it doesn’t come as a perfect circle, but it’s stopped being closer to a square! So I am happy…
Coming to these Sel rotis, which are quite popular in Sikkim, the shape is nowhere close to how it should look like! But again, the taste was fine, so I guess, it’s ok…for a first trial, at least.
While looking for Sikkim recipes, I came across this NDTV article which talks about the culinary changes that has come over the place. There was a mention about Sel roti in there and that helped me decide the menu.
A bit more digging showed that Sel roti is originally from Nepal and is eaten with potatoes in various forms, aloo ko achar being one amongst many. This is a nice post about Sel rotis.
Though I tried the given combination of potato and sel roti, with yogurt, I couldn’t understand the combination-connection. The sel roti was great, the potato was great, but there was no chemistry between the two!
May be, these are acquired tastes or may be I should try out the original before passing that statement :-).
I loved the Sel roti, despite its poor shape. I first used a coke bottle and the batter oozed out completely. Then I used a squeezable ketch up bottle, that’s how I got the wriggly Sel rotis. I tried pouring from my hand as well. The shape wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad either.
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Meal Idea : The Pumpkin Farm
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!”
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!“
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
Recipe Source: Veg Recipes of India
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.