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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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.

Beetroot Dhokla

Navratri is one of the holiest Hindu festivals where people across India worship the different avatars of Goddess Durga for nine days. Back home, I used to look forward to the Garba and Dandiya nights where my friends and I would dress in traditional attire and dance the night away. This dance originates from the state of Gujarat in India. The dhokla is a delicious food item made in Gujarat and is a popular and healthy snack. Residing in the red dot country, I decided to post a celebratory recipe in the form of Beetroot Dhokla which gets a beautiful shade of natural red colour from the beet. They are very easy and quick to make and are an instant hit with kids and adults.

Recipe Details :
Serves: 3 pax
Time: 60 mins
Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients :

  • 1 medium sized beetroot, grated fine
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 1 cup rava/semolina
  • 1 tsp kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves)
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1-2 green chilli, chopped finely
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp ginger paste
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp white sesame seeds
  • 2 red chillies, cut in half long strands
  • 1 tsp eno fruit salt
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 tbsp coriander leaves, freshly chopped
  • Salt to taste

Beetroot dhokla

Beetroot dhokla


Method:

  • In a bowl, mix the semolina, grated beetroot, yogurt, salt, green chillies, ginger paste, cumin powder, kasuri methi and 1 tbsp oil. Mix well to form a nice batter. There is no need to add water as the water from the beetroot and yogurt should be enough to bind the mixture. Cover and keep aside for 30 mins to rest.
  • Beetroot dhokla batter

    Beetroot dhokla batter

  • Take a flat bottomed steel vessel (which can fit into a pressure cooker / steamer) and grease well with oil on the bottom and the sides.
  • When you are ready to steam, add the eno fruit salt to the batter. Mix well and pour it into the greased vessel.
  • Place this vessel into a pressure cooker which has water at the bottom. This needs to be steamed now.
  • Steam this batter without adding the whistle on the pressure cooker. This allows the steam to pass out through the vent. Do this for 15 – 20 minutes on a medium flame. Then, switch off the flame.
  • Let it cool for 15 mins. Then remove it from the mould and cut it into desired shape.
  • For the tempering – oil roast the mustard seeds, sesame seeds and red chillies together on low flame and just add it on top of the steamed dholka. Finally, add coriander leaves as the garnish.
  • Beetroot dhokla pieces

    Beetroot dhokla pieces

  • Now serve it hot with coriander chutney. It is just perfect as a snack.

Tips:

  • Don’t add water to the batter unless absolutely needed. It needs to be thick.
  • Let the dhokla rest for some time before removing it from the mould.
  • To test if the dhokla is done, just insert a toothpick into the steamed batter. If it comes out clean, the dhokla is done.

Sweet Potato and Chickpea Burger with Tahini Spread

I was surfing the web and saw that most of the food-related updates were connected to the Superbowl. Finger foods, bar bites, burgers and beers comprised most of my news feed. To add to that, I was missing vada pav from back home. This dish was a result of all such thoughts. I decided to use sweet potato as the primary ingredient. Most vegetarian burgers contain mushrooms – but I’m not a big fan of them. To add some body to the burger, I used chickpeas. This combination worked great together and the patty had layers of flavour and texture. When slathered with some tahini yogurt dip topped with thinly sliced onions, it was a perfect bite. It is not very oily and the patty has loads of texture on its own. We paired it with wholemeal buns – but they are good enough to eat on their own. For those who are vegans, you can just skip the yogurt spread. I would love to hear how it turned out in case you try it 🙂

Recipe Details :
Serves: 3 pax
Time: 45 mins
Difficulty: Medium

Ingredients :

  • For burger patty

  • 1 sweet potato
  • 2/3 cup chickpeas, soaked overnight. Else use canned ones.
  • 1/3 cup of all-purpose / wheat flour
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • Salt to taste

  • For tahini spread

  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Sweet potato and chickpea burger

Sweet potato and chickpea burger with tahini spread


To make the patty:

  • If you are not using canned chickpeas, pressure cook or boil soaked chickpeas till they are soft.
  • Wash and peel the sweet potato. Coarsely grate it to yield around 2 cups. Once grated, squeeze out the water from the sweet potato.
  • In a bowl, take the grated sweet potato, chickpeas, flour, salt and the spices. Mix well to combine. While mixing, try to keep different textures of the chickpeas. I left some whole, some were partly broken and some were smoothened into a paste.
  • Make rounds of the patty mixture and flatten them.
  • Sweet potato and chickpea burger patty

    Sweet potato and chickpea burger patty

  • Heat a non-stick pan on medium flame and add the oil. Place a flattened patty and let it cook on one side. After about 2 mins, flip it to the other side. Remove it when golden brown and crisp.

To make Tahini spread:

  • For the spread, take all the spread ingredients in a bowl and stir. It will seem thick at the start, but as you keep stirring it, you will get the desired consistency.
  • To assemble the burger, I placed the patty on the lower half of the bun, added a layer of onions on top of it and then topped it off with the delicious tahini spread. We had a great meal!

Tips:

  • Do not overcook the chickpeas. You need them to give texture to the patty.
  • Squeeze as much water as you can from the sweet potato. If the patty mixture is too “wet”, it will not get crisp.

Potato and Purple Cabbage Fritters / Aloo Gobi Tikki

Whenever I feel like having a burger, I create fritters (or tikkis) and pair it with bread or buns. This time, I wanted to try something new. I had never tried cooking with purple cabbage. When I found some fresh cabbage and picked it up, I had no clue what I was going to end up making with it. I definitely knew it could be grated and since it looked crunchy, I knew it would be a nice ingredient for a tikki. Potato is an eternal ingredient that is invariably used in any tikki recipe. The combination of these two vegetables turned out to be delicious and with the addition of some spices, the flavour turned out to be irresistible. It is great for tea time snacks and the colour that the cabbage imparts to the dish makes it very visually appealing. The tikkis disappeared in no time and I will definitely say that you’ve got to try making them! 🙂

Recipe Details :
Makes: 10-12 tikkis
Time: 60 mins
Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients :

  • 4 potatoes, boiled and peeled
  • 1.5 cups purple cabbage, shredded
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1 tsp dry mango powder / aamchur (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • Some coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • Oil for shallow frying

Method:

    Method:

    • Cut the potatoes in half, boil them and peel off the skin. Mash the potatoes and set them aside.
    • Once the cabbage is cut, ensure that you remove the moisture from the cabbage by squeezing it.
    • Potato and cabbage tikki prep

      Potato and cabbage tikki prep

    • Take a mixing bowl and all the ingredients except oil as shown in the picture. Add the mashed potatoes to this bowl and mix all the ingredients well.
    • Potato and cabbage tikki shape

      Potato and cabbage tikki shape

    • Now divide this mixture into 10-11 equal rounds. Tap them with the fingers and make them even as shown in the above pic. Refrigerate them for 30 mins.
    • After 30 mins, take a shallow pan, add oil and heat it on a medium flame.
      Potato and cabbage tikki shallow fry

      Potato and cabbage tikki shallow fry

    • Shallow fry the tikkis on both sides, flipping carefully. A light brown layer will form on it and then the tikkis are ready to be served with some ketchup or chutney. Have it with toasted lightly buttered bread and you are going to love it!! 🙂

    Tips:

    • In case your cabbage has lot of moisture or your tikkis lose shape, use a binder like semolina or breadcrumbs. I did not need to use it.
    • Turn the tikkis carefully. If you are careless, the hot oil will splash on you.
    • If you want thicker tikkis, you will need to deep fry them.

Dill leaves Fritters / Dill leaves Pakoda

On rainy weekends, fritters (bhajjis, pakoras – call them what you want!) make an ideal pairing for evening tea. I wanted something crunchy, but also something quick. As you would have read, I avoid deep frying and prefer to eat healthy. I have made dips using dill leaves before and know that dill has an strong inherent flavour. If overused, it can overwhelm the dish. To use an analogy, its almost like what fennel imparts to a broth. While frying, the aroma was strong, but the crispiness that the fritters had was mind-blowing. Pakodas is an Indian term used to describe such type of fritters. I never knew that dill would taste so good when combined with chickpea flour and other spices. I opted to shallow fry in a small pan and after frying, I used an absorbent paper to remove any oil that was left. The golden brown colours of the pakoda combined with the delicious taste will leave you wanting for more 🙂

Recipe Details :
Makes: 8 pieces
Time: 20 mins
Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients :

  • 1/2 cup dill leaves, chopped
  • 1/3 cup besan/chickpea flour
  • 3 tbsp rice flour
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 3/4 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 2 green chillies, finely chopped
  • 2 medium onions, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup water
  • Salt to taste
  • A pinch of asafoetida (optional)
  • 5 tbsp oil, for frying

Method:

  • Take the besan and rice flour in a bowl. Add turmeric powder, garam masala powder, cumin powder, asafoetida and sesame seeds to this bowl and mix well.
  • Once the spices are mixed well, add the chopped onions, green chillies and dill leaves.
  • Now add the water in the measure of 1 tbsp each time and keep mixing till you get a thick batter.
Dill pakoda shallow frying

Dill pakoda shallow frying

  • Take oil in a shallow pan and drop two small balls of the batter as shown in the pic above. The pan should be on low flame and with a spoon, slowly turn the batter for the other side to fry evenly.
Dill leaves pakoda

Dill leaves pakoda

  • Once the fritters look golden brown, remove them on an oil-absorbent paper. They will look as tempting as it is seen in the above pic – it is best served hot! It did taste amazing with my evening tea. As accompaniments, either ketchup or coriander chutney can be paired with it else it tastes as good on its own too 🙂

Tips:

  • You can deep fry them as well. I just preferred to shallow fry. Use a low-med flame while frying.
  • Do not add too much water to the batter. It needs to be thick.