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.
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Bottle Gourd with Lentils/ Lauki with Chana Dal/Doodhi with Chana Dal Sabzi

We have all heard the saying ‘Health is wealth’. It essential to eat a balanced diet that includes all kind of vegetables. Bottle gourd is an underutilized vegetable – but it contains loads of nutritional value. This side dish works very well in lunch boxes when paired with rotis. It can be cooked in no time provided you have soaked the dal earlier. Bottle gourd goes by many names in India – mainly Lauki/Doodhi/Lobia. This dish is essentially all that you would like in everyday cooking – almost no oil, healthy, quick to make and hassle free.

Recipe Details :
Serves: 3-4 pax
Time: 40 mins
Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients :

  • 1 bottle gourd, peeled and diced into medium cubes
  • 1 cup chana dal (Bengal gram)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 2-3 green chillies, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup freshly chopped coriander
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 red chillies
  • 1/2 tsp asafoetida (optional)
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds

Lauki with chana dal

Lauki with chana dal


Method:

  • Soak the chana dal in warm water for 30 mins and keep aside.
  • Cut the bottle gourd into cubes. Immerse them in water so that they do not lose colour.
  • Drain the water from the chana dal. Take a pan and put the soaked chana dal in it. Add turmeric powder, salt, oil, green chillies, and the grated ginger. Add about 2 cups of water and mix well. Turn the flame on to medium-low and let mixture boil uncovered for at least 20 mins.
  • After 20 mins, you will notice that the dal has nicely puffed up and it should not taste raw. It should break easily with a spoon.
  • Now add the bottle gourd pieces along with some salt. Cook with the pan partly covered.
  • Add the remaining 2 cups of water in stages depending on the consistency that you want. Also add the garam masala at this stage. Stir nicely.
  • Finally give the tadka using mustard seeds, red chillies and asafoetida. Switch off the flame.
  • Garnish the delicious sabzi with coriander leaves before serving.

Tips:

  • It is important to soak the daal for at least 30 minutes.

Lotus seeds, Cottage cheese, Bell pepper and Peas in Cashew gravy / Phool Makhana Sabzi with Capsicum, Paneer and Matar

Experimenting with new ingredients gives me a high. Lotus seeds are an ingredient I hadn’t heard about – let alone tasted. I came across them in an article by Rujuta Diwekar, the famous Indian nutritionist who suggested using it as a healthy snack. It can be consumed (like popcorn) by dry roasting. It is also largely consumed during fasting. I wanted to make a curry that could be had with rotis. Then began the daunting process of finding it in Singapore. Mustafa is the place where most of the Indian cooking specific ingredients can be found – but the shopping complex is huge. If you do not know the ingredient shelves properly, you may never find it. It took me two visits in two months just to figure that out since I don’t frequent the area often. After this, what remained to be done was just the cooking part. I jumped on to the task and needless to say, I was deelighted with the way the dish turned out.

Recipe Details :
Serves: 3-4 pax
Time: 40 mins
Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients for cooking: :

  • 2 cups lotus seeds/ makhana
  • 1 cup peas
  • 150 gms cottage cheese/paneer, cut into cubes
  • 2 green bell peppers/ capsicum, finely chopped
  • 6 – 7 cashews split in half
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • Salt to taste
  • Coriander for garnish (optional)

Ingredients for grinding: :

  • 20 cashews, soaked approximately for 1 hour
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 2 green chillies

Method:

Roasting of makhana

Roasting of makhana

  • Roast the lotus seeds and cashews in a pan (left half of pic). Roast on a low flame till they are light brown in colour (right half of pic). Switch off the flame and let them cool for 15 mins.
  • Meanwhile, grind the ingredients mentioned in the grinding section into a smooth paste.
  • Heat oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds. Once they splutter, add cumin seeds, followed by the ground paste and some salt. Let this paste cook till the raw taste of tomato and cashew goes. This will take around 5-7 mins
  • Next, add the bell peppers and salt along with around 2 cups of water. Cover the pan and let it cook for around 5 mins.
  • Makhana cooking stage

    Makhana cooking stage

  • Add the lotus seeds, paneer and peas into the rich gravy and let them cook for another 5-7 mins. At this stage the colour of the gravy will look as shown in the pic above.
  • Cook the paneer well and let it fully marinate. The colour of the gravy will also slowly change and become a nice yellow colour.
  • Makhana final dish

    Makhana final dish

  • Garnish with coriander and serve hot with rotis. The final dish will be mouthwatering for sure!

  • Tips :

    • If you have a high flame, roast the cashews and lotus seeds separately as the cashews roast, and therefore burn faster.
    • Do not increase the quantity of cashews as the gravy will become too thick.

Cucumber and Carrot Pancakes

Most of the times we want a recipe for breakfast that’s quick to make and involves less prep work. This recipe fits those requirements to a T. Cucumbers are light on the stomach and healthy as well. I decided to use them as one of the main ingredients in a pancake batter. To give the entire dish some crunch and bite, I added in carrots as well. This recipe can be made into patties, which can be eaten plain or by keeping them in a sandwich along with some tomato ketchup. They can also be made in the bigger size which would be equivalent to a medium sized dosa. It turned out to be extremely delicious and it is one of my favourite breakfast recipes now. Sometimes I even make this for dinner along with a glass of buttermilk. I have tried this exact recipe replacing zucchini instead of cucumber and the result is equally fabulous.

Recipe Details :
Makes: 8 small pancakes or 4 large pancakes
Time: 30 mins
Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients :

  • 1 large cucumber, peeled and grated (approx 2 cups)
  • 1 large carrot, grated (approx 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup Chickpea flour/ Besan
  • 1/4 cup rice flour
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 – 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tbsp oil for 1 pancake for frying
  • Freshly chopped coriander
  • Salt to taste

Cucumber pancake small size

Cucumber and carrot pancake small size


Method:

  • Take a bowl and mix all the ingredients except the oil to make a batter. Keep in mind not to add water while mixing as the cucumber or zucchini will provide the required moisture.
  • Heat a non-stick pan on low-medium heat and grease its surface with a bit of oil.
  • Take 1/4 cup of the batter and place it on the pan. Press down on the batter gently with your fingers to spread it out in an evenly into a shape of your choice. Do not make it very thin. In case of a large pancake, do the same process using 1/2 a cup of batter.
  • Drizzle some oil on the top and sides of the pancake.
  • Cook until the base turns golden brown in colour.
  • Now turn the pancake over and cook on the other side and then remove it from the pan. Serve it along with toast, with accompaniments of chutney or ketchup (if required), and you are in for a delicious meal.
  • In case of a large pancake, it is heavy enough to serve as breakfast – even without toast. For an idea of the portion size, see the picture below
  • Cucumber  pancake large

    Cucumber and carrot pancake large size


Tips :

  • Do not sprinkle water while making the batter or while spreading the batter on the pan.
  • Don’t make the batter too early as the cucumber / zucchini will make the batter more loose as time passes.
  • If you do want to prep it in advance, use a little more besan and store it in the fridge.
  • Adjust the spices as per your taste levels. You can add finely chopped green chillies if you like it spicy.

Cucumber and Peas Gravy

Sometimes, it’s fun to combine vegetables that normally don’t share the same space in normal dishes. Cucumbers are commonly used in salads and consumed raw. However, when cooked with a spice blend and paired with peas for texture, it can surprise you with great depth of flavour. This gravy side dish goes equally well with rotis and rice.

Recipe for Cucumber and Peas Gravy

Serves : 2-3
Ingredients :
For Cooking

  • 2 cups peeled cucumber, cut in cubes
  • 1.5 cups peas (frozen/fresh)
  • 2 medium sized tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • A pinch of asafoetida
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • Salt to taste
  • 8-10 curry leaves to garnish [optional]

For Grinding

  • 5 dried red chillies
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp grated coconut [optional]

Cucumber and peas gravy

Cucumber and peas gravy


Method:

  • Grind all the ingredients mentioned under grinding list into a fine paste and keep it aside. Add a little water while grinding.
  • Blend just the tomatoes separately into a purée and keep it aside.
  • Microwave the peas or let them thaw in room temperature.
  • Heat oil in a pan and add the mustard and cumin seeds. Once they splutter, add the fenugreek seeds and asafoetida followed by the cucumber pieces and peas. Sauté it for about 5 mins.
  • Now add the tomato purée and let it cook till the mixture thickens. Keep stirring occasionally at this stage.
  • Next, add the ground paste. Add salt and turmeric. Mix the ingredients well to help them combine.
  • Add about 2 cups of water, cover the pan and let the vegetables simmer on low flame for about 10 mins. Add the curry leaves at this stage.
  • Serve hot with rice or rotis. If you plan to serve it with rice, paapads complement this dish brilliantly.

Tips :

  • Adjust the consistency of the gravy by changing the amount of water added. For rotis, I make it a little thicker.
  • Instead of peas, chickpeas can be used but they would have to be soaked and par cooked.
  • Coconut is optional but it is preferred in this dish as it adds a nice texture.