Kerala Breakfast – Puttu & Kadala

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Sorry..long post. Couldn’t help myself.

Kerala. God’s own Country. The place where I was born and brought up. My home.

They say we don’t know the worth of our blessings until it’s taken away from us. When I was in Kerala, I never appreciated the greenery, the beauty and the laid back lifestyle. All it took was an year in Chennai to learn, love and respect mother nature’s blessings. When you travel in train, there is a noticeable difference in the scenery outside when you enter Kerala. It’s green and pleasant and many-a-times it might be raining as well.

Rain is a big part of the life there. And unlike Chennai, we hardly had the schools off because of rains.

Our old house has a well inside. Yes, inside the house. It was an old ‘nallu kettu’ style house, which has an opening in the middle of the house. Our favourite time pass was to watch the water flow in the small canals (oda) from our windows. We had two such openings, and so it’s an ‘ettu kettu’ veedu.  It’s similar to the one below, but on one corner, next to the kitchen, there is a well. It’s in ruins now :-(, the house, I mean..the well is still fine.

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My place is surrounded by temples. Usually temples have a pond nearby and we have one right opposite our house.

Now, during the rainy season, the water level inside the well increases. But it’s connected to the pond, so the excess water flows off to the pond via some hidden channel and the water level in the well is maintained without overflowing. It’s like marking a ‘maximum height’ point and then connecting to the pond using some pipes (made of what? No idea!!) once the water rises that level.

And the pond is connected to a lake nearby. So there too, when the water level goes beyond a point, it flows off to the lake and hence never overflows.

And yes, it was done centuries back. Some architecture, huh?

But those were the good old days. Now, life is much busier, no one has time for anything, lots of trees are gone, building have come up like mushrooms and the rains are much lesser.

The price we pay for progress!

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The good thing is, the food remains just as simple and just as tasty. That hasn’t changed. After covering the sadya recipes last September, I chose something basic from my native state this time.

Something that you can begin your day with…Puttu and Kadala curry.

Puttu is made with ground rice. The ground rice is then steamed with grated coconut filling in between. Earlier it involved soaking, drying and then grinding of rice. Now, all we need to do is pick up a ready-made ‘puttu podi’ packet from the supermarket aisle.

In olden days, the steaming was done in hollowed bamboo stalk or in a coconut shell. Now we have stainless steel cylindrical tubes, just for this purpose.

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Puttu is a really filling breakfast. It can be served with a whole lot of curries. Kadala curry or chickpea curry is a famous combination. Mutta curry and whole green moong curry also goes well with puttu.

But the simplest and the tastiest way is to have it with milk and banana. Break the puttu and then add a bit of milk to moisten it. Top it with sugar and eat it with a small piece of banana. Childhood memories :-) (Not quite childhood, I still do it :D).

Food has a lot more to do with familiarity than the taste itself. Something that’s tasty for me doesn’t appeal that much to my husband since they weren’t brought upon it. So I don’t make this at home as much as I would love to, because my husband and my son are not from Kerala and they don’t have a connection with this food as I have. Well, that’s the way of life..

Anyway, scroll down for kadala curry’s recipe and the link for puttu.

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Recipe Source: My Friend

Serves : 2-3

For making puttu, check out this link : Puttu. There are step wise pictures, making it easy to understand. For the curry, the recipe is below.

Ingredients:

  • Black Chana/Chickpea            :           1 cup, cooked
  • Onion                                               :           1 small, chopped fine
  • Ginger garlic paste                    :            1 tsp
  • Tomato                                          :             1, optional
  • Coconut milk                               :             1/2 cup, optional

Tempering:

  • Oil                                                   :              2 tsp
  • Mustard seeds                           :              1 tsp
  • Curry leaves                               :              6-8
  • Red chillies                                 :              1-2

Spice powders:

  • Chilli Powder                              :             1/2 tsp (or per taste)
  • Coriander Powder                    :             1 tsp
  • Pepper powder                          :              1/2 tsp
  • Turmeric Powder                     :              1/4 tsp
  • Garam Masala powder            :              1/2 tsp

Method:

  1. Wash and soak chickpeas overnight. Pressure cook the next morning with salt and enough water to cover the chana. After the first whistle, lower the heat and cook for 20-25 minutes to cook the chana thoroughly. Take off the heat and once the pressure drops, keep it aside retaining the water in which it’s cooked.
  2.  In a kadai, heat the oil. Add the mustard seeds, curry leaves and red chillies. Once the mustard crackles, add the chopped onions. Saute till pink and add the ginger garlic paste. Cook for a minute or two.
  3. Add the chopped tomatoes, if using. Cook till it’s a bit mushy. Add the spice powders. Saute till it’s a bit brown.
  4. Now, add the chana with the water in which it’s cooked. Check and add salt (keeping in mind that we have added some while cooking the chana) and adjust the other seasoning as well.
  5. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring now and then to avoid burning. You can add more water if the curry thickens too much. Ideally you can stop when the gravy is not runny any more and is slightly thick.
  6. If you want more gravy, you can grind half a coconut into a smooth paste and add it to the curry along with a cup of water and let it simmer for sometime. I added coconut milk powder with 3/4 cup of water and let it cook in low heat for 5 minutes.
  7. Serve with puttu, aapam or even rotis.

Notes:

  • As kids (even now :D), we would add milk to moisten the puttu, then add a bit of sugar to it and eat it with a banana. A pappadam to this would take it to the next level :).Puttu goes well with kadala curry, green moong curry, spicy egg curry. It pairs well with pappadam as well.
  • This kadala curry will go well with aappam as well.
  • My friend sometimes pressure cooks the chana in the night without soaking. She then lets it rest in the cooker overnight. That way you don’t have to wake everyone up by using the cooker in the morning. And no soaking as well. Brilliant!

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Karnataka Oota – Karnataka Mini Meals

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Karnataka is clearly a state that loves food. They don’t just love food, but they come up with their own recipes as well. No South Indian can be away from a masala dosa or Mysore rasam. Who can resist the melt in the mouth, made out of pure ghee Mysore Pak? All these are from the state of Karnataka.

Their akki rotis (rice rotis) are famous and delicious. And their ragi mudde is not only cooling to the body, but healthy as well.

And do you know that kesari, yes – our own sweet semolina kesari, is originally from Karnataka? The wiki says so.

Clearly a state that loves and experiments with food!

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Bisibela bath is another famous dish from Karnataka. It’s our sambar rice, but with a little bit of twist. The basic formula is this : Cook rice, dal and veggies together. Roast and grind masalas for sambar powder along with roasted coconut. Boil tamarind water,salt and let the masala paste cook. Add the rice-dal-veggies to it and adjust the consistency. It’s better if it’s slightly on the gravy-ish side since the rice solidifies as it sides.

All it needs is a simple raita to go along with it. Add on a pappadam/fries and you have a feast!

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Like in most of the Southern Indian states, Karnataka too prefers rice a lot. Their regular cooking has a gravy based dish(varieties of sambar and rasam) and a veggie to go with it.

The veggies can be anything, prepared in a basic – cook it, season it, serve it kind. A bit of coconut is added and it’s called palya. If it’s carrots, that’s made – then carrot palya. If it’s cabbage, it’s cabbage palya and here I have beans palya. A simple uncomplicated way of having your veggies. Give or take a few spices, this basic side dish is same for most of the South.

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Rava kesari is an often featured sweet in Indian homes. It goes by different names in different states. The basic preparation is almost the same. It’s called halwa in the North, Kesari in Tamil Nadu and Kerala and kesari bhath in Karnataka.

It’s basically roasted semolina cooked with sugar. Sugar syrup is made and then semolina is added to it or you can roast the rava, add water and then add sugar. I prefer the second method, since my sugar syrup making capabilities are questionable.

The end result is delicious in both methods and you can make it better by adjusting the sugar measurement according to your taste preference.

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The Menu:

  • Bisibela Bath : A version of Sambar rice where in you have to roast and grind the masalas and then add in already cooked rice and dal.
  • Beans Palya : Beans side dish prepared with coconut
  • Menasina Saaru : Pepper rasam. Sweet, spicy and tangy
  • Kesari bhath : A sweet made with semolina
  • Rice
  • Tomato Mosaru Bajji  : Tomato raita. Onion, tomatoes and green chillies in curd. Pairs well with bisibela bath

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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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Kashmir – Dum Aloo, Khatte Baingan, Saag

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The Mughal emperor Jahangir called Jammu Kashmir as the heaven on earth. A beautiful place, which I would love to visit sometime…

Like I said before, the place I stay has people from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. I put this Kashmir thali too with a neighbour’s help. The restaurants had me believe that Kashmiri food was all sweet and nutty. Now, that’s far from truth.

You get really spicy food there, mainly non vegetarian.Given that Kashmir is a very cold place, it makes a lot of sense. My neighbour also suggested radish chutney (its more of a salad, if I am right) and lotus stem curry. I was not able to get these two things, else I would have loved to feature them also here.

Another thing I learnt was that their regular cooking doesn’t include onions and garlic much. If I remember right, turmeric powder is also not used much. The Kashmiri chilli/chilli powder is a must, though.

This khatte baingan was a new recipe for me. This is eggplant cooked with tamarind (khatte means sour/tart).

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Next was the saag. The Kashmiri saag is not easily available here. It’s the knol khol/kholrabi’s leaves. I used a bunch of palak (a variety of spinach) for making this saag.

I followed a recipe on-line to make this simple green leafy preparation.

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And  of course the dum aloo! How can we forget the Kashmiri dum aloo?! Parboiled baby potatoes (again, I had only big potatoes and so I diced them up) deep fried  later and then simmered on a spicy yogurt gravy…

I took a lot of short cuts here and so mine weren’t the royal dum aloos, just ordinary ones :D. I didn’t deep fry, I didn’t even shallow fry the potatoes. Those are just boiled potatoes in the curry. In my enthusiasm, I overcooked the gravy and so ended up with a thicker curry. But anyway, it tasted fine, so no complaints there.

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The Menu:

  • Kashmiri Dum Aloo : A Kashmiri spicy potato preparation, with yogurt.
  • Khatte Baingan : Brinjal cooked in tamarind, sour and tangy in taste.
  • Saag  : Green leafy preparation using palak spinach.
  • Rice

 

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Himachal Pradesh Lunch Thali

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It’s great when you try some new recipe and it turns out well. But when it doesn’t, you know what happens? You have to finish off an entire thali by yourself. And it’s almost a punishment.

After being used to either sweet stuff alone or spicy stuff alone, my taste buds have become stiff and doesn’t like the combination of two in a single dish. The combination of rice and sugar as a dry dish also didn’t suit my palate.

May be I didn’t prepare it the way it’s meant to be. I will really have to try the authentic version before I judge the dish :-).

But until then, I don’t think I will be making meetha rice again.

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The good news is that madri and khatta were good. Both were easy to prepare. Khatta means sour. And this dish IS sour. It was a shock initially, but you learn to like it as you go. It tasted fantastic with curd rice (oh, come on! We have to have curd rice even if it is a Pahari thali :D).

Khatta is topped off with some boondi (ready made, of course) before serving.

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Madra is a yogurt based dish. It’s prepared with chick peas usually. But the recipe I zeroed down finally had potatoes in it. Since I was preparing a chickpea based curry (with dates), I went ahead with the potato madra.

Like Kerala feast is called Sadya, Himachali feast food (for weddings and all) is called Dham. You can read a bit here in this link about Dham.

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The Menu:

  • Khatta : The dish lives up to its name. It’s really khatta (sour). This aamchur (dry mango powder) based curry is sprinkled with boondi and served
  • Meetha Bhaat( recipe in the comments section) : This is a dessert. Rice cooked with sugar, milk and dry fruits.
  • Himachali Madra : A yogurt based chickpea curry. The one I zeroed down was the potato version.
  • Chhole Mithas Liye : Chickpea in a sweet date gravy. I personally didn’t like it.
  • Plain rice

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Haryana – Puri Halwa Chole

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Cooking from Haryana turned out to be very difficult for me. The cuisine of Haryana is same as that of Punjab. A search of youtube videos for Haryana recipes finally gave an idea.

Halwa Puri with Chole.

Apparently this is a popular combination in the Northern states and in Pakistan as well. It’s prepared as a special weekend breakfast too in some places.

Browsing for Halwa poori recipe, I landed in Preeti’s space who had a potato halwa recipe. She has mentioned that it is a special in Haryana, UP and some other states. So instead of the regular sooji (semolina) halwa, I zeroed down on this potato delicacy. It takes a bit of time to get used to this unusual (in my eyes at least) combination of potatoes and sugar. But it tasted nice.

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Chole is a great recipe to go with any of the Indian breads. Be it poori, chapati, paratha or even dosas, chole magic is always welcome.

This chole is clicked really well with the poori, and it was a comfort, since I was suspicious of the halwa -poori combination. Those two (halwa and poori) got along well, but when trying something new it’s always better to have a back up :D.

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I wanted to have more than just halwa poori and chole, but didn’t have the energy to cook a lot more. So zeroed down on a simple dal tadka.

The salad and green chillies are customary part of a thali in North India. Home made butter is also served in some parts.

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The Menu:

  • Aloo ka halwa: A sweet dish prepared with potatoes. Apparently a speciality in some of the Northern states.
  • Puri: Deep fried whole wheat bread.
  • Chole: Chick pea curry that pairs very well with the Indian rotis.
  • Dal fry : Moong dal cooked and prepared with simple tadka of jeera and red chilli powder in ghee.
  • Butter : Saw a video of a Haryana dhaba providing a dot of butter along with the food.
  • Salad :  Cucumber and tomato slices.
  • Chillies and lemon wedges : On the side

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Gujarati Thali – Mini Gujarathi thali

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When we are talking about Gujarat, the first thing that comes to my mind is our BM 25 meet. It was three days of absolute masti. Thanks to Vaishali, she saw to it that we were well settled, well taken care off and well fed!

So it’s only natural that when it came to Gujarat, I was browsing Vaishali’s space for recipes and ideas. Then I remembered this post from my friend (old room-mate) Roshni of Roshni’s Kitchen. She had actually put up a thali with Vaishali’s help. So I based mine on that one and modified it a little bit.

I wanted to make the chaas, the salad and the chutney as well like Roshni’s thali, but ….errrrr…forgot about it.

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Going through Vaishali’s space, I came across this very different combination of beans, peas and cooked whole wheat discs(dhokli). I included that in the thali and it turned out to be a good decision.

The kid loved the atta (whole wheat) discs.

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I had made a Gujarati thali before as well.  There Vaishali had mentioned that Gujarati kadhi doesn’t have turmeric in it. So this time I went right into her space and followed her instructions. In the same post of hers, she has the recipe for the potato curry as well. Scroll down for the recipe.

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The menu:

  • Tindora Nu Shaak : Ivy gourd/kovakka/tindora cooked with minimal spices and served as a side dish to rice
  • Dingiri Batata Nu Shaak : Potatoes cooked with onions and tomatoes.
  • Fansi Dhokli : Beans, peas and whole wheat atta discs with some masalas create the magic here.
  • Gujarati Kadhi : The whitish yogurt based preparation. No turmeric is used in this recipe.
  • Gujarati Dal : Simple dal. Skipped the sugar to stick to the spicy version.
  • Rotli : Very thin, soft roti-like rolls. Maida (all purpose flour)  is used for rolling out the dough.
  • Rice : Plain rice, pairs well with all the curries
  • Ready made Choondo pickle and Garkari pickle

 


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Goan Lunch Thali

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And we are in Goa today.

I visited Archana’s space for recipe ideas. And I based this thali (though the okra recipe has garlic) from this post of hers. She mentions about “shivrak”(vegetarian) days, where the diet is “chanyacho ras”, a vegetable, rice, batat kapa and toi. Toi can be made with and without coconut. This version has coconut in it.

I found that there are some similarities between Goan and Kerala cuisine. It’s not that they are alike, it’s just that when you say Goa, the image is that of Portuguese influenced Catholic cooking. So when you find recipes that strike a chord somewhere with your comfort food even if it is distant by a mile, all of a sudden it’s not foreign any more. That feeling is actually comforting.

For example, this dal has a ground coconut mix added to it, just like the Kerala Parippu Curry. It’s just that I hadn’t expected ground coconut in Goan dishes.

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This payasam is another example. This is very similar to our Kadala Parippu payasam. The Kerala recipe is also a blend of Chana dal (split chickpea), jaggery and coconut milk. I didn’t have the sabudana/sago pearls with me, so went ahead and made the payasam without it.

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Now coming to the bhindi/okra recipe here, this one is a bit different from how it’s usually prepared at home. There is a little bit of ginger and garlic that makes a whole lot of difference to the dish.

Yummy!

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Futi kadhi is something I have tried before, again from Archana’s space. I used kokum gifted by Pradnya then. I have been holding on to that batch of kokum and finally realized that life won’t end if I use up the rest of it.

So I have put the last of the kokum to some good use. Made another batch of futi kadhi and my man was a happy man that day!

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And coming to the batata kapa (fried potatoes), I don’t think I need to say anything. As long as potatoes feature in the menu, you are safe. If you fry it, then you are double safe.

The semolina(rava) coating is a new thing for me, but somehow with the rava that fell into the oil from the potatoes left a real bad mess in the pan. I don’t think I will be trying the coating again until I am more comfortable with deep frying.

Anyway, the man was happy with it and that compensates the messy dishes.

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The Menu:

  • Rice : Plain rice, cooked with water in 1:3 ratio. Yes, we like it a bit overcooked on a regular basis.
  • Futi Kadhi     : A drink made with kokum. Spicy, sour, sweet, salty….a burst of flavours in there.
  • Goan Dal with drumsticks : A dal made with ground coconuts and wonderful home-grown drumsticks that my husband’s friend gave.
  • Batata Kapa : Deep fried potatoes with a semolina (rava) coating…need I say more?
  • Okra – Goan style : A different version with chopped ginger and garlic in it.
  • Mangane : Chana dal payasam with jaggery. Not too different from the Kerala version.

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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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Chhattisgarh – Pancharatna Dal

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Chhattisgarh is a recently formed Indian state. It was not there when I was studying in school. It was part of Madhya Pradesh before. IIT in the capital city of Raipur is a main attraction.

It’s a beautiful green state, mother nature has truly blessed this place. There is a lot of tribal population here and this was one other state which didn’t have many on-line resources when it comes to food.

There was a site dedicated to Chhattisgarh recipes, I am scared of deep frying, yet I tried the deep fried sweet Dehrori from there. If my frying skills are pathetic, then my skill of making sugar syrup (I went overboard and over cooked the syrup) are not even worth mentioning. So I decided not to go ahead with it here. Yet for the record let me mention that the above is the picture of my Dehrori trial.

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While looking for more recipes, I came across this Five Jewelled Dal recipe, which they say is a Raipur(capital of Chhattisgarh) speciality. Though I don’t think it’s their speciality food, I am guessing it’s a part of regular cooking there.

Anyway my dehroris didn’t come out good and the dal sounded interesting. So I went ahead and decided to feature the dal here for Chhatisgarh.

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Recipe Source: 10 Best lentil Recipes from the Guardian

Feeds : 4-5

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup urad dal (black lentils)
  • 1/4 cup chana dal (split chick pea)
  • 1/4 cup masoor dal (red lentils)
  • 1/4 cup toor dal (pigeon peas)
  • 1/4 cup moong dal
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp chilli powder, or per taste
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 2 onions chopped fine
  • juice from a lemon, optional
  • cream, yogurt : 2 tbsp for presentation, optional

For tempering:

  • 2 tsp ghee
  • 1 tsp jeera (cumin)
  • 1 tbsp ginger, grated
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, crushed

Method:

  1. Wash and pressure cook all the dals together until done and mushy along with the turmeric powder, coriander powder, chili powder and the chopped onions. Keep aside.
  2. Heat ghee and add jeera. Once it crackles, add the ginger and crushed garlic. Add the cooked dal , garam masala and bring it to a boil. You can add water if it turns out to be too thick.
  3. Add lemon juice to taste and a dollop of yogurt and serve with rice.


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