Indori Poha

Poha is a very popular breakfast or tea-time dish in India. Due to the diversity in Indian cuisine, there are different variants of poha. Poha is basically a flattened rice flake and is available in different grades of thickness. Having grown up in Maharashtra, I have had the ‘Kande Pohe’ (uses medium poha) which is pretty awesome. This time I tried the ‘Indori Poha’ from the state of Madhya Pradesh in India. So, the first difference I noticed in the preparation method is that for this dish, I had to use thick poha. The second difference is in the ingredients used as the garnish. The presence of fennel seeds and a hint of sweetness in the form of sugar and pomegranate seeds are the prime differences in the two styles of poha. When you add all the flavorful components in this colorful dish, I can assure you that you won’t stop eating it. This dish is also perfect for a teatime party as poha with chai is a divine combination. For those staying in Singapore, I picked the nylon sev from Mustafa and thick poha from Sri Murugan stores.
Recipe Details :
Serves: 3 pax
Time: 20 mins
Difficulty: Easy
Ingredients :

  • 2 cups thick poha / flattened rice flakes
  • 1 big potato cut in cubes
  • 1 big onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup roasted peanuts (without skin)
  • 10-12 cashews
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tbsp freshly grated coconut (optional)
  • 5-6 curry leaves
  • A handful of pomegranate seeds
  • 2 green chillies, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp nylon sev (for garnish)
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tsp sugar (optional)
  • 1 lemon
  • Some cilantro leaves for garnish

Indori Poha

Indori Poha


Method:

  • Soak the poha in water for 5 mins. Drain using a strainer and keep aside.
  • Cut the veggies on the side so that the prep work is done.
  • Poha veggie preparation

    Poha veggie preparation

  • Heat oil in a pan on a medium flame. Add the mustard seeds, fennel seeds and curry leaves and wait till they splutter.
  • Once you get the pronounced aroma of fennel seeds, add 75% of the chopped onions and some salt. If you don’t like raw onions as garnish, then add all the chopped onions at this stage.
  • Once the onions turn translucent, add the peanuts, green chillies, cashews and saute them for around 2-3 mins.
  • Next, add the potatoes along with salt and turmeric powder. Cover the pan with a lid so that the steam cooks the potatoes quickly.
  • Once the potatoes are cooked, add the soaked poha and mix it well – such that all the rice flakes are coated with the yellow turmeric powder.
  • Check the salt level at this stage and adjust only if required. If you like a bit of sugar, add at this time.
  • Switch off the flame and keep the pan covered for around 7 mins so that the poha can cook a bit more in the steam.
  • Indori Poha

    Indori Poha

  • Finally garnish it rest of the chopped onions, cilantro leaves and grated coconut before serving. You can also add the pomegranate seeds and nylon sev (I forgot to take the pic with these toppings)
  • Lemon goes great with poha, so squeeze it just before serving. Serve this dish hot / warm only!

Tips:

  • Do not over-soak the poha. If you do that, the flakes will not separate and the dish will become mushy.
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Dates and Coffee Milkshake

During summers, you crave cool and refreshing drinks. If that craving is satisfied with a feel-good ingredient combination like dates and coffee, it gives you an upbeat mood. The best part is that you can spin off a milkshake in less than 15 mins, and it does not feel like a lot of work. During one of my visits to Mustafa, I stopped at the dates section and was amazed at the variety they had in stock. I decided instantly that I wanted to use them in some form of drink or dessert. For this Dates and Coffee milkshake, I have used Khudary dates from Mustafa. They ended up being a perfect pick for this aromatic and amazingly refreshing drink.
Recipe Details :
Serves: 2 pax
Time: 15 mins
Difficulty: Easy
Ingredients :

  • 12 de-seeded dates (6 dates per glass)
  • 1.5 tsp instant coffee powder
  • 6 cardamom pods
  • 4 ice cubes
  • 330 ml milk

Dates and coffee milkshake

Dates and coffee milkshake


Method:

  • Split the cardamom pods and powder the seeds using a mortar and pestle. Freshly pounded cardamom is better since that imparts a pleasant aroma in the drink.
  • Put the cardamom seeds, de-seeded dates, coffee powder, milk and ice cubes into the blender and blend it till the dates and ice have broken down into a smooth drinkable texture. The blending process should take maximum 2 minutes.
  • Dates and coffee milkshake

    Dates and coffee milkshake

  • Serve immediately. This drink can also be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator. In that case, before serving, stir the drink well to redistribute the dates.

Tips:

  • For those who don’t like caffeine, you can substitute coffee powder with hot chocolate powder. I have tried a version of this drink using Hershey’s Hot Chocolate and its equally amazing and refreshing.
  • You can also soak your dates in warm milk before you put them in the blender for 10-15 mins. This is an optional step in case you want a very soft texture.

Bitter Gourd Chips / Karela Chips

It’s quite evident from the name bitter gourd (karela), that not many people would be a fan of this vegetable. Apart from the health benefits, if made well, it can be transformed into amazing snacks. When they take the form of crispy fries, the humble bitter gourd can become a delicacy. The mild bitterness blends well with the spices and makes it a good tea time snack or side dish along with dals, sambhar and rasam.
Recipe Details :
Serves: 3-4 pax
Time: 20 mins
Difficulty: Easy
Ingredients :

  • 4 small sized bitter gourds(karela)
  • 4 tbsp rice flour
  • 3 tbsp besan
  • 1 tbsp red chilli powder
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil – to shallow fry

bittergourd chips

Bitter gourd/Karela Chips


Method:

  • Wash the bitter gourd, discard the ends, and cut it into uniformly thin rounds. Then pat-dry the pieces using a cloth. I did not de-seed them, but you can choose to do so if you are using the longer bitter gourds.
  • Cut bittergourd pieces

    Cut bittergourd pieces

  • Once dry, take the cut bitter gourd pieces in a bowl and add all the spice powders and mix well. Add 1-2 tsp of oil so that all slices are coated with the spices. Alternatively, you can sprinkle some drops of water but you have to take care that the mixture doesn’t turn soggy.
  • mixing bittergourd with spices

    Mixing the bitter gourd and spices

  • Heat oil in a pan on medium low flame. Since the size of my bitter gourd pieces was small, I just shallow fried them. Add the pieces one by one into the oil in batches.
  • Flip the pieces so that the pieces fry evenly on both sides. Remove them from the flame when they turn crisp. Drain the excess oil using a paper towel.
  • Serve them hot to munch, as snacks or during tea time.
  • bittergourd chips

    Bitter gourd / Karela Chips


Tips:

  • The older and bigger bitter gourds will have the more bitter seeds. I would recommend removing them.
  • You can sprinkle some aamchur / chat masala on the chips once you take them out of oil while they are still very hot.

Urad Dal Chutney – Side Dish for Idli/Dosa

When you want something that’s a little different from the traditional coconut or coriander chutneys, this Urad Dal Chutney steps in as a perfect side dish for idlis and dosas. Since this is a no coconut chutney, it can be prepared in larger quantities and refrigerated – typically for up to a week. The red chillies and tamarind make a spicy and tangy combination and the dish attains balance. This chutney makes me breeze through a work week if I have idlis or dosas in my breakfast plan.
Recipe Details :
Serves: 4 pax
Time: 15 mins
Difficulty: Easy
Ingredients :

  • 1/4 cup urad dal
  • A small ball of tamarind
  • 3 red chillies
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • A pinch of asafoetida
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 garlic pod, skin peeled (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp oil

Urad dal chutney

Urad dal chutney


Method:

  • In a pan, add the oil and a pinch of asafoetida. Stir for a bit and then add the urad dal, red chilli and tamarind. Sauté the dal on a low flame till it turns golden brown. Then switch off the flame and remove this aside on a plate to cool.
  • In the same pan, add the chopped onions and garlic and cook them till the onions turn brown. Then switch off the flame.
  • Now allow both sets of roasted items to cool completely.
  • Then put these items into a mixer. Add salt and grind into a smooth paste. Add water depending on the consistency you want and your chutney is ready.
  • Finally temper the chutney in sesame oil with mustard seeds, urad dal and a single red chilli just before serving.
  • Urad dal chutney

    Urad dal chutney


Methi Chole Sabzi / Fenugreek Leaves and Chickpeas Sabzi

When you want to pack proteins in your diet, get going with chickpeas. North Indian style curries with chickpeas are perfect for lunchbox recipes. Methi Chole is a popular Punjabi dish that combines fenugreek leaves with chole in a spicy gravy. It’s also a convenient way to include greens in your meal in a tasty manner. The aroma of this curry is amazing and it’ll make you want to eat it as soon as you make it.
Recipe Details :
Serves: 4 pax
Time: 30 mins
Difficulty: Easy
Ingredients :

  • 2 cups methi leaves, chopped
  • 1 cup chickpeas
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 1 big tomato, finely chopped
  • 1.5 tsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 3 cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cardamom pods (break and finely powder)
  • 2 green chillies, slit in half along the length
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala powder
  • 2 tsp aamchur / dry mango powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 tbsp oil

Methi Chole

Methi Chole


Method:

  • Wash the fenugreek leaves and chop them roughly.
  • Fenugreek leaves

    Fenugreek leaves

  • Wash and soak the chole in water for 6 – 8 hours.
  • Drain the water and add the chole in a pressure cooker along with 3 tsp of salt and 3 cups water. Pressure cook this for 6 whistles on a medium flame. Then switch off the cooker and let it cool till the pressure is naturally released.
  • Meanwhile, heat oil in a pan. Once the oil is hot, add the bay leaves, cloves, cardamom powder and let them crackle for a few seconds.
  • Now add the chopped onion, a pinch of salt and saute them till they are translucent. Add ginger garlic paste to the onions and continue cooking till they are golden brown.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes and green chillies at this stage and fry them for 2 mins.
  • Then add the turmeric powder, garam masala powder, dry mango powder and coriander powder. Mix well to combine. Let this paste cook for 2-3 mins.
  • Add the chole along with the cooking water. Taste and add more salt, if required.
  • Cook the chole for around 10 mins on a low flame.
  • Finally add the chopped fenugreek leaves and mix them well and cook them for another 3 mins. The aroma of the sabzi is amazing.
  • Methi chole

    Methi chole

  • Tastes good when served hot and best paired with roti or naan.

Tips:

  • Make sure the chole is well cooked before you add it to the gravy. You can cook it for some more time in the pressure cooker if needed.
  • Ensure that the methi leaves are washed well. Rinse them multiple times before cutting.

Brinjal Gothsu / Eggplant Gothsu

Gothsu is a traditional South Indian side dish mainly used as an accompaniment for idli, dosa, upma and Pongal. It is made with brinjals as the primary ingredient as the smoky aroma of the vegetable combines well with the tamarind and the tempering of lentils. The Indian spices are brought to the forefront in this tangy gravy.
Recipe Details :
Serves: 4 pax
Time: 30 mins
Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients :

  • 1 big eggplant/ brinjal [This is the big purple eggplant that is available in Indian stores. Some would identify it as bhartha baingan.]
  • 2 small onions, finely chopped [If you use small onions / shallots, then take around 12 of them]
  • 1/2 cup tamarind extract
  • 1 tbsp chana dal/ bengal gram dal
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 4 dried red chillies
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp sambhar powder (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped coriander for garnish
  • A pinch of asafoetida
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp oil

Brinjal Gothsu

Brinjal Gothsu


Method:

  • Roast the brinjal on an open and low flame after applying cooking oil on it. For ease of cooking, pierce the brinjal in multiple locations with a fork.
  • After a few minutes, the brinjal will shrink in size – at this point switch off the flame. Wait for it to cool down and peel off the skin of the brinjal. Once the skin is peeled, rinse the brinjal in a bowl of water to prevent the smoky smell from overpowering the dish.
  • Once the peeled brinjal has cooled down, mash the brinjal nicely by hand for at least 10 mins till you can feel a smooth texture. This can also be done in a mixer but I prefer doing it by hand. This also helps me to keep a check in case there are any insects in the brinjal.
  • Now in a pan add a little oil and then add the chana dal. Once the dal turns golden brown, add in the coriander seeds and red chillies. Roast the mixture well and switch off the flame. Let it cool for around 10 mins. Then pulse them into a fine powder in a mixer.
  • Take oil in a pan and wait for it to warm up a bit on a low flame. Add the chopped onions and saute them till they turn translucent.
  • Once the onions turn into a light pink colour, add the tamarind extract, sambhar powder, asafoetida and salt. Add very little water at this stage. Stir them well and let this boil on a low flame for around 7 mins.
  • Now add in the ground powder from the mixer along with a cup of water and allow this to boil for another 5 mins.
  • Finally add in the mashed brinjals to this gravy and mix well. Add in another cup of water and salt at this stage. If the consistency is too thick, you can balance the water accordingly. Let this boil for another 5 mins. If you cover the vessel with a lid, it will cook and boil faster.
  • Brinjal Gothsu

    Brinjal Gothsu

  • Before serving, add the sesame oil and garnish with chopped coriander leaves. Tastes good when served hot.

Tips:

  • Make sure you get the right brinjal for the recipe – do not use the smaller version.
  • Use a low flame to roast the brinjal and keep turning it to make sure it’s roasted evenly.

Ridge gourd and Taro Leaves Curry/ Turiya Patra Sabzi

Cooking on weekends is therapeutic for me as I get the time to experiment with new dishes. Last weekend while grocery shopping, I found taro leaves at Mustafa and decided to pick them up to make Alu Vadi. Alu Vadi is an Indian snack made with stuffed and rolled taro leaves. It is usually eaten at tea time and is common in Gujarati and Maharashtrian cuisine. I, however, wanted to make something for lunch and decided to go the gravy/curry route by combining taro leaves with ridge gourd. I remember eating ‘Turiya Patra nu Shaak’ at my Gujarati neighbour’s house in India, and could place the flavour profile between spicy and tangy. As daunting as it sounded to start this preparation from scratch, I gave it a go and the result was pleasantly surprising. Patience is key to nailing this dish successfully.

Recipe Details :
Serves: 4-5 pax
Time: 60 mins
Difficulty: High

Main Ingredients :

  • 1 packet of taro leaves (12-15 leaves)
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 3 tsp oil
  • 1 tsp asafoetida powder (optional)
  • 2 ridge gourd, peeled and cut into small pieces
  • 1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 tsp finely cut green chillies
  • 1 tsp garam masala powder
  • Salt to taste

Ingredients for gram flour paste:

  • 1.5 cups gram flour/besan
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 2 tsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1 tbsp crushed jaggery
  • 2 tbsp seedless tamarind soaked in 1/4 cup of water
  • Salt to taste
  • Coriander for garnish (optional)

Ridge gourd and taro leaves curry

Ridge gourd and taro leaves curry


Method:

  • Wash the taro leaves thoroughly in running water and set them aside. Ensure that the leaves are fresh. Wipe them with a cloth until they are dry. Cut off the stalks from the base of the leaves.
  • Washed taro leaves

    Washed taro leaves

  • Mix all the ingredients mentioned in the preparation of the gram flour paste in a bowl. The paste has to be slightly thick for easy application on the leaves.
  • Place the leaves with the vein side facing downwards and the tip facing towards you. Gently apply the gram flour paste all over the leaf surface. Now place a leaf with the tip in the opposite direction and create an alternate stack of leaves, applying the paste on each alternate surface. Keep a minimum of 8 leaves to make a roll.
  • Spreading of gram flour paste on taro leaves

    Spreading of gram flour paste on taro leaves

  • After the paste is applied on 8 leaves placed alternately facing on top of each other, roll the stack into a neat and tight pattern horizontally.
  • Rolling of leaves

    Rolling of leaves

  • Then cut this rolled leaf into 2 or 3 pieces depending on the length of the rolled leaf stack.
  • Now heat oil in a non-stick pan and add mustard seeds. Once they splutter, add the cut ridge gourd pieces to it. Add the rolled taro leaves to the pan at the same time.
  • Cut ridge gourd pieces

    Cut ridge gourd pieces

  • Do not stir too much after placing the leaves as they might tear. Shake the pan (do not use a ladle) generously to mix the ingredients.
  • Next, add ginger-garlic paste and green chillies and mix well. Cover the pan with a lid and let it cook for 10 mins on a medium flame.
  • If the gravy is too thick, add a bit of warm water to help cook the leaves. This also helps in not letting the ingredients stick to the bottom of the pan.
  • Add turmeric powder, salt, cumin and coriander powder when you add water. Keep checking the gravy consistency because gram flour has a tendency to absorb water.
  • Cooking of the curry

    Cooking of the curry

  • Keep checking in between to ensure that the taro leaves are turning tender. Try breaking the leaves with a spoon. If they break easily, add the garam masala powder and stir well. After 2 mins, switch off the pan. Cook it in pan without lid at this stage.
  • Finally add the coriander garnish and serve hot with rotis, naans or rice.

Tips:

  • Take your time while making the rolls. Work slowly but consistently – do not let the paste dry on the leaves.
  • Keep the gram flour paste on the thicker side – it’s easy to take a little in a smaller vessel and thin it as required.
  • Ensure that the taro leaves as well as the stuffing are fully cooked before serving.