Tadka, Phodani, bhagar, vaghar, chaunk or tempering or seasoning, we may call it by different names but we all agree that it’s one of the greatest inventions of Indian Cooking! A method that’s widely used in Indian Cooking and the only ubiquitous ingredient in many of our traditional dishes from North to South and East to West.
A simple method in which whole or ground spices – such as mustard seeds, cumin and coriander with some hing and turmeric are added to hot oil or ghee. The heated oil or ghee has amazing qualities of extracting and retaining vital nutrients from the added ingredients, the same technique being used since ages for making Ayurvedic oils and medicated ghees.
The hot oil or ghee infused with the aromas of whole spices is so magical that it can elevate any basic ingredient, including as humble as a leftover roti or poli in Marathi. And what you get is a popular Maharashtrian dish; extremely tasty, super easy and a perfect healthy breakfast item that pairs nicely with a cup of chai or bowlful of fresh yogurt.
It tastes best with leftover rotis as they tend to absorb oil more easily due to their extra dryness. A simple tadka with standard ingredients and curry leaves with some characteristic Maharashtrian ingredients such as peanuts and dry coconut flakes and sesame seeds, the dish provides enough oil to digest the dry rotis with extra yum factor! The peanuts can be substituted by fresh green peas, they add a hint of sweetness and a beautiful green color. But I prefer the nuttiness of roasted peanuts.
A magical makeover for leftover rotis - takes no more than 15 minutes. Quick, tasty, easy and healthy - perfect for breakfast!
- Grind all rotis coarsely. It's best done with your hands.
- In a medium pan, prepare tadka by adding all ingredients listed under tadka in the given order.
- Add finely chopped onion and fry it until it becomes translucent.
- Add roasted peanuts or green peas and let them fry for a minute.
- Add red chili powder, cumin-corainder powder (optional) dry coconut flakes, and salt. Mix well.
- Now add roti flakes, mix everything together and let it steam for 2 minutes.
- Add sugar and lemon juice and again steam it for another 2 minutes.
- Serve hot! Garnish with fine shev or chopped coriander leaves.
5 different tastes in one bite! It's a culinary master piece!
I have always told people who asked me about my favorite vegetables that I love Karlyachi Bhaji and especially the way my mom makes it. The surprise on their face made me feel proud for earning brownie points for being a good kid who eats all vegetables, including bitter gourd.
Any preparation of bitter gourd will have a pronounced bitter taste and it should, it’s not easy to mask bitter taste but it plays well with well chosen ingredients. This particular preparation which uses tangy tamarind, nutty peanuts, creamy coconut, sweet jaggery and spicy Goda Masala is a classical example of Marathi cuisine from Konkan region.
I was very happy with my attempt to mimic mom’s magical taste. The best reward was that my husband really enjoyed it, which was quite a shock for me!
5 tastes in one byte! It's a culinary master piece!
- If you are using ready made tamarind paste, skip this step. Else, in a small bowl add 1 spoonful of tamarind and some water, microwave it for 10 seconds and let it sit aside.
- Wash bitter melons and cut them length wise, if you see any bigger seeds remove them with a spoon or inner side of a peeler. Now chop them into smaller equal sized pieces.
- Add these chopped pieces to a bowl with some water and add 1 tbsp of salt, mix it well. The salt makes the bitter gourd release some juice and it takes away some bitterness. This step is optional but highly recommended.
- Now in a kadhai / heavy bottomed pan, heat some oil. I use peanut oil and it works really well for this dish.
- Prepare phodani or tadka, by adding mustard seeds, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, hing and turmeric powder.
- Now add bitter melon pieces by removing all the water. If you like squeeze out the water as much as you can.
- Stir fry it for 2-3 minutes.
- Now add ground peanuts, grated coconut, tamarind paste and mix it well.
- Add red chili powder, cumin-coriander powder, Goda masala and finally some salt. Mix everything together and let it cook for another 2-3 minutes.
- Add jaggery, cook it further for 2 minutes.
- Adjust the amount of jaggery / salt as per your taste.
Enjoy it hot with poli or fulka! Bon apetite!
A healthy festive drink!
Last Monday we celebrated Akshay Trutiya, a religious occasion which calls for a sweet treat. “Akshay” means the never diminishing in Sanskrit and this day falls on the third Tithi (Lunar day) of Bright Half (Shukla Paksha) of the Indian month of Vaishakha and one of the 3 and 1/2 “the most auspicious days” or also known as “Sade-Teen Muhurt” considered by Hindus. It’s believed that Akshay Trutiya was the day when Lord Ganesha started writing epic Mahabharata to Ved Vyasa’s dictation. It’s considered auspicious to start a new venture or a new job, buy new property and jewelry too.
Every year my aajji used to celebrate Akshay trutiya by buying a gold coin and visiting the Vishnu temple. And I used to wait for her to come back so that I could get the prasad – the sweets! She tried making new sweets every time and this Moong Kheer (Porridge) was one of those innumerable treats I have had from her.
Traditionally it’s served warm but I like it chilled too. A very simple lentil kheer with just over 3 ingredients. Easy to make yet rates quite high on healthy spectrum which is quite unusual for an Indian sweet.Here is what you need.
A festive healthy drink! the two words fit in one sentence quite rarely!
- Lightly toast the moong dal with some ghee in a heavy bottom pan on medium heat. Do not let them turn brown. You should be able smell their nutty aroma.
- Add one cup of water to moong dal and pressure cook it for 2 whistels. They should be well cooked with very little water left in your cooking pot. It will have soft and smushy texture.
- Meanwhile, add jaggery in 1/2 cup water an dlet it dissolve completely. Strain the mixture in order to separate any impurities. Keep it aside.
- Using a potato masher or churner, mash the lentils so they become creamy but still have some bits in it.
- Put these cooked lentils and the jaggery solution in a pan and let it come to a boil, stirring frequently. Turn down the heat and let it simmer for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure it does not stick to the bottom and burn.
- Add the milk and stir till mixed well, and turn up the heat a bit. Bring it to a boil, and let it cook for another minute.
- Take it off the heat and then add the powdered ginger and the cardamom. Stir well.
Let it cool a bit before you pour it in glasses. Serve it warm. This recipe serves 4 to 6 depending on size of serving.
- Toasting helps to bring out the nuttiness which makes the kheer more flavorful. But be careful not to turn them brown or it would overpower the taste.
- Before adding milk, stir frequently as it doen't contain lot of liquid and it may stick to the bottom and burn.
- Add basil leaves and a pinch of saffron before serving. Adds another dimension to the simple flavors.
I recently came to know that this is also known as Parippu Kanji or Paruppu Kanji where “parippu” is lentils and “kanji” is porridge in Tamil and it’s almost synonymous to Shivratri in some communities. I think it completely makes sense. The kheer made of moong dal, a rich source of protein yet easy on digestion system and jaggery which is unrefined sugar, high in energy, added with milk, sounds like a perfect recipe which is light but nutritious for a fasting day. Enjoy your healthy treat!
I think this is the easiest and quickest recipe you can make with Pumpkin. It has very few ingredients and it does maintain Pumpkin flavor. “Lal Bhopla” in Marathi translates to Pumpkin and since this recipe has yogurt in it, we can call it raita but more traditionally it’s called भरीत / Bharit.
It’s cooked pumpkin mixed with yogurt seasoned with flavorful tadka using mustard seeds, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, hing and curry leaves and green chilis. Some sugar and some salt. That’s it! The simplicity of ingredients really elevate the pumpkin flavor.
लाल भोपळ्याचे भरीत / Bhopalyache Bhareet / Pumpkin Raita
Soft, sweet sour and savory raita.
- Peel and dice the Pumpkin into big cubes.
- Steam it until it becomes really soft. It takes about 10-15 minutes.
- Yogurt should not be too sweet, a little sour yogurt works well for this recipe.
- Once cooked, let it cool down. Smash it with forks and mix it well with yogurt.
- In a small pan, heat the ghee and prepare tadka byadding mustard seeds, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, curry leaves, green chilis and hing and turmeric powder.
- Add this seasoning to the above mixture.
- Add salt and sugar to taste and mix well.
- Serve with chopped cilantro leaves on top.
Mahabaleshwar, Maharashtra, India
Source – http://nitinmahesh.blogspot.com/
My primary school had a unique tradition of biding farewell to 4th grade students by taking them on a two-day trip to Mahabaleshwar. It’s a hill station situated amongst Sahyadri range and it’s about 115 km from Pune.
This used to be the only two-day school trip and I still remember all the planning and plotting we did to decide who all would stay in one room and how we would convince out favorite teacher to stay with us in our room. of course, food was an important part of discussion and also a prestige issue as to who gets what from home and to make sure we all don’t get one thing and so on … Our class teacher had asked our parents to pack one tiffin and keep it as a surprise for us, you know the joy of discovering your favorite thing made by your mom with an element of surprise, truly priceless!
We were half way through and our teacher asked us to open our surprise lunch box and guess what I had in my box. भोपळ्याचे घारगे (Bhoplyache Gharage). It’s a traditional Maharashtrian tea-time snack, The puris are made with Pumpkin and Jaggery and whole wheat flour. Soft yet not too sweet! Best for picnic, as they last for couple of days. They keep you full but not so heavy on your stomach.
My first official sweet entry for “Dish It Out – Squash & Sugar” event happening here at MyHomeMantra till March 31st.
There are times when we eat to find a feeling beyond fullness. We eat looking for a feeling of joy, a momentary salve for sore spirits, a feeling of goodness. At times like these, we usually turn to what we call “comfort food”. वरण भात (Varan Bhaat), rice and dal in its simplest cooked form rates high on my list of “comfort foods”. Then comes the khichadi and my all time favorite – थालीपीठ (Thalipeeth) with metkut and yogurt!
It’s a very common and very typical Maharashtrian recipe and it’s speciality is that it’s a perfect menu for morning, noon or night. It’s made with a flour mixture which is called भाजणी or Bhajani. It’s actually a grounded mixture of whole grains like whole wheat, rice, jowar, bajra, urad dal, chana dal and cumin and coriander seeds. “Bhajane” in Marathi translates to dry roast in English. The whole grains are first dry roasted in a pan and hence the name – “bhajani” and then are ground together to form fine flour which can be stored for months. You can think of it as an instant mix.
It takes less than 10 minutes to make actual thalipeeth if you have the mix ready.
Hearty pancakes, super quick and super healthy, loaded with healthy carbs and fibre!
If your bhajani mix contains salt and red chili powder, feel free to adjust the amounts accordingly. Ajwain seeds, fennel seeds and sesame seeds are totally optional but they do add more flavor to every bite. Cilantro and onion help make thalipeeth moist but they are optional too. And same is the case with ginger-galric-chili paste., it's for added flavor. If your bhajani doesn't contain cumin and coriander seeds, you can add 1 table spoon of cumin-coriander powder.
Now the more interesting part - It's just 4 step process - mix everything, put it on a pan, cook and eat with butter! I am getting too excited, I know!
- Finely chop your onion and cilantro.
- In a medium bowl, mix everything together except for oil and water.
- Mix in water gradually to form a firm dough. Taste it and adjust salt to your taste.
- Use a little bit oil to knead the dough and mix it together. No real kneading is needed.
- Heat a tawa / flat skillet on a medium heat.
- Take handful of dough and press it down with your fingers to to roll it out like a pancake, around 1/2 inch thick. Be careful with your hand if the skillet is hot.
- If it feels sticky, use some water.
- Make three to four holes in it and add few drops of oil in each hole. Also add a few drop surrounding the thalipeeth.
- Cover it with a lid and let it cook for 5-6 minutes until you hear crackling sound.
- Turn it over and let it cook again for 3-4 minutes.
- Wipe the skillet with a wet towel before making the next one.
Serve it hot with yogurt and pickle or chutney. By the way, homemade butter is a must!
I like it with metkut mixed with yogurt and topped with talnachi mirchi! Yum!
This is my entry to Jagruti’s Pancake Day celebration.
तीळ गूळ घ्या गोड गोड बोला!
Makar Sankranti, marks the transition (Sankraman) of the Sun into Capricorn (Makar) rashi on its celestial path. Traditionally this has been one of many harvest seasons in India and being agriculture based community, harvest season and festivals always go hand in hand. Known by different names, it’s celebrated all over India.
In Maharashtra, we celebrate it by exchanging til-gul laddoo and halwa as token of goodwill and we fondly say “तीळ गूळ घ्या गोड गोड बोला” which means “Savor this sweet Til-Gul and may the sweetness fill your thoughts and speech”. The Til-Gul literally translates to Sesame Seeds and Jaggery. The laddoos or wadis made with jaggery, sesame seeds, peanuts and coconut not only taste good but also provide the essential oils needed in cold, dry winter days.
Even though I have made tilgul at home, Makar Sankranti doesn’t seem the same anymore. It’s just not in the air. In my school, everyone would get tilgul and halwa from home and there would be so much variety with these simple ingredients – different shapes, sizes, softness. But I always thought my mom makes the best tilgul; soft, easy to bite which melts in your mouth.
The other best part of Sankranti was Puranpoli and that makes me really nostalgic. For now here is the recipe for TilGul
Til Gul / Tilachya Wadya
Sesame Seeds, peanuts, coconut and jaggery. You can't go wrong with these.
- Roast all sesame seeds in a deep bottom skillet or kadhai, till they start changing their color. Do not get them too brown.
- Similarly, roast the peanuts. And grind them, but not into a fine powder. Crunchy pieces always taste better.
- Also roast the shredded dry coconut slightly. It takes almost no time if the skillet it already hot.
- When sesame seeds are cool enough to handle, grind them.
- In a saucepan or kadhai, take 1-2 table spoons of Ghee and add jaggery. Let it melt completely. Reduce the heat.
- Now add ground sesame seeds, peanuts and coconut and mix well until everything comes together.
- Grease a big plat with some Ghee and spread the mixture onto the plate evenly.
- While it's still hot, mark the lines with a sharp knife and let it cool down.
- Separate the wadis when completely cooled down.
- If you want to make hard wadis like Chikki, use the special Chikki Jaggery. Also when it melts, put a drop of melted jaggery in a cup of cold water, if it forms a firm ball the jaggery syrup is done. This will make hard candies.
- You can also substitute jaggery with sugar but it does not taste the same.
Wish you all a wonderful Makar Sankranti and may it bring warmth and lots of happiness in your life!
[Update] A healthy snack that can be packed and stored for a while, sending it to Kid’s Delight – Back to Hostel special event started by Srivalli
I was introduced to ‘Kadhi-Khichadi’ combination by S. I completely admit that it’s a marriage made in heaven; not very common among Maharashtrians but adored by Gujaratis.
It goes without saying that there are couple of variations found through out India – Maharashtrian kadhi, Gujarati kadhi, Punjabi kadhi and sindhi kadhi to name a few. The basic idea is to mix besan and buttermilk with some spices to make spiced, flavorful watery accompaniment to other dishes. You will find more sugar in Gujarati kadhi than any other version, punjabi kadhi has more spices and also pakoras while sindhis like to have vegetables in their kadhi.
Here is the basic kadhi, the version I grew up with –
Comforting to eat, Effortless to make
I will describe Khichadi in word one – Soul-food! It’s so comforting, fulfilling and satisfying. This was the first recipe I learned from my mom when I first started my job in Bangalore. It’s a ‘++’ version of वरण भात ‘Varan-bhaat’ (dal-rice) but it’s actually easier to prepare than dal-rice.
The best part I like about Khichadi is it’s a one pot meal. All you do is mix all ingredients together in pressure cooker, then wait for few minutes and dig in! Well khichadi literally means a mixture. The rice in it adds the starch, which somewhat magically means comfort in any language, and the moong dal adds a good source of protein which is easy to digest.
It is also a dish that is found throughout the country in some form or the other – khichdi, khichri, khichuri, venn pongal, even kedgeree, which was adopted by the colonials, are all variations on the same theme. Like names there are different khichdis too. I like it soft, almost mushy and watery, but some prefer it like pulao, all grains intact.
My mom makes a milder version with no garam masala –
I generally make a spiced khichadi with whole garam masala and green peas.
The general rule is to use 2 parts rice and 1 part moong dal but I use both in equal proportions. You can use split moong dal which is green or yellow. Here is my version –
मूगा-तांदुळाची खिचडी Moong Dal Khichadi
Comforting to eat, Effortless to make!
- Wash and soak the rice and the dal in water for about half an hour. If you don't have time skip this step.
- If you have time use a large wide and heavy bottom pan to prepare khichadi. Or you can also use a pressure cooker and make it quicker.
- Either ways, in a pan, heat the oil and add whole garam masala (clove, cinnamon, peppercorns and cardamom). Also mustard seeds.
- When they start to pop add cumin seeds, curry leaves, hing and turmeric.
- Drain all the water from the grains and add them to the oil. Mix well for a minute.
- Now add goda masala and red chili powder and mix well.
- If you want add green peas or any other vegetables and mix again.
- Add 4 cups of water and stir everything together.
- Add grated coconut.
- Add salt and taste it.
- Now let it cook on medium heat for 3 whistles. If you skip the first step, you might want to wait for 4-5 whistles depending upon your cooker.
- If you are making it a wide pan, let the water come to a boil and then simmer for few minutes. Stir it occasionally. But keep a lid on it by leaving a small gap for the steam to escape.
- Serve it hot with ghee and chopped cilantro.
If you still think this is not easy to prepare, there is an instant version too. I recently came across AyurFoods and I have tried their moong dal khichadi. It was as delicious as home made. It’s nicely packaged and can be a good healthy meal while travelling.
When I saw a small red pumpkin in farmer’s market, it reminded me of my childhood. My gradma (aajji) used to make gharage (घारगे) and dhapate (धपाटे). I used to love eating gharage after coming home from school. ‘Gharga’ is a sweet pumpkin puri and of couse a deep fried puri. Dhapata on the other hand, is a savory version and it’s not deep fried, so it’s more like a paratha or thepla.
It must be healthy as there is nothing unhealthy – either ingredients or the process. Give it a shot.
Red Pumpkin Paratha / Thepla
Easy to make, no special ingredients and no much preparation.
- Cut pumpin into big pieces, wash it nicely and also remove the center part that might contain seeds,
- Steam these big pieces for 5-8 minutes, until the pumpkin becomes tender.
- Meanwhile, cut green chilis and garlic into fine pieces. Grate some ginger.
- Once steamed, let it cool. Rinse it with cold water to quicken the process.
- Smash it with hands and make sure there are no lumps.
- Add finely chopped chilis, garlic, ginger, salt, sugar, turmeric and all the seeds.
- You can also cilantro but it's optional.
- Add whole wheat flour and besan gradually and prepare dough. Pumpkin should have enough water so add water only if needed.
- If the dough feels very sticky, add more wheat flour but also adjust the amount of salt.
- Use some oil, to knead the dough.
- Now make small balls and roll it into small parathas, use wheat flour for dusting.
- Roast them lightly on a tawa using ghee.
- Ready to serve!