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.
Healthy yummy fasting snack, which is quite a rare combination!
Sweet Potatoes or रताळे (Ratale in Marathi) are in season and I absolutely adore this root vegetable. I am so glad that it’s allowed during fasting. Steamed sweet potato with a pinch of salt and sunth (dried ginger) was my favorite after school snack.
Unfortunately my husband is not a great fan of sweet potato so I don’t make it that often but this time I experimented with a basic muthiya recipe and turned it into muthiya that can work during fasting. I used sweet potato with chestnut flour (शिंगाडा पीठ) and rajgira flour, added fresh ginger, lime juice and some cumin powder. The result was yummy healthy snack which I am extremely proud of!
They taste sweetish, tangy, hot with lost of gingery flavor. Singoda and rajgira flavors are very subtle. The seasoning is a must, it takes the dish to a whole new level.
Sweet Potato Muthiya
Healthy yummy fasting snack, which is quite a rare combination 🙂
- Start by washing, peeling and grating sweet potatoes.
- Add salt, lemon juice, freshly grated ginger, cumin-coriander powder and a bit of jaggery or sugar to grated sweet potatoes and mix well. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes.
- Now start adding both the flours 1/3 cup at a time. Mix well to form a dough. You won't need any water as sweet potatoes will leave out all the moisture. Add flour as needed to make not-so-thick dough.
- Add green chilies and mix well. Taste it.
- Prepare a steamer pan.
- Make muthiya - by pressing the dough in your palms to give it a cylindrical shape. Place these in the steamer and let them steam for about 15 minutes. Check with a sharp knife.
- Let them cool down a bit, before you slice them.
- If you are using these for fast, prepare seasoning with ghee and cumin seeds, else you can add mustard seeds, curry leaves and sesame seeds. Add sliced muthiya and shallow fry them on both side.
- Serve hot with your favorite chutney or sauce.
Chettinad is a region in south Tamilnadu and is well know for its unique cuisine which emphasize the use of various whole spices and fresh coconut. This month’s SNC challenge was a savory curry made in chettinad style. This was my first time preparing Chettinad cuisine and since I have not tasted this particular curry, I was not entirely sure about what to expect or how it should really taste. But take my word for it. it was absolutely delicious. The addition of coconut, cashews and roasted chana dal adds a whole new dimension to our regular onion-tomato gravy and also alters its texture in a soothing way. Curry leaves and the roasted chana dal reinforce the south indian flavors while chana dal pakoda with crushed fennel seeds offer a new surprise at every bite. All in all, it’s a wonderful dish, you can serve it with rice or idli or dosa.
Thanks to Priya from Priya’s Versatile Recipes for sharing this Chettinad speciality with us.
Chettinad Pakoda Kuzhambu
Chana dal pakodas dipped in South Indian gravy makes a perfect pairing with rice.
For preparing Pakoda -
- Soak chana dal for at least two hours.
- Grind chana dal with some fennel seeds and dry red chilis to a coarse paste. Add water only if needed.
- Heat enough oil in a pan so that you can deep fry multiple pakodas at a time. Make pakodas with your fingers and drop them in hot oil on low-medium heat. Fry them until golden brown. Keep them aside.
For preparing gravy -
- Grind all ingredients listed under "To Grind" above to a fine paste with some water.
- In a heavy bottom pan / kadhai, heat some oil and all whole Garam masala listed under "For Seasoning" and fry for a minute or so or until you can smell it.
- Add chopped onions and garlic and fry it for 2-3 minutes.
- Add chopped tomato and let them cook for sometime.
- Now add the coconut paste and also add 4 cups of water. Let it simmer for 2-3 minutes.
- Add red chili powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder and salt and give it a stir. Let it cook for 5 minutes with lid on.
- Add pakodas and let it simmer further for 2 minutes. Add more water if needed. Pakodas will absorb the water so make sure you add enough.
Serve it hot with rice / idli or dosa.
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.
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.
No Marathi food blog can be complete without “Pohe” (flattened rice flakes). It’s not just a comfort food but also an intrinsic part of our culture. When a prospective groom and bride families meet together for the first time, the girl serves pohe and tea. Hence “kanda-pohe-meeting” (poha with onion) does bear a special meaning in Maharashtrian culture.
It goes without saying that it’s a very easy recipe and probably that’s why making it delicious is an art. Warm, comforting, great for breakfast and as a tea-time snack.
Maharashtrian Comfort Food
1. In a sieve, gently rinse Poha with running water for 1 minute or so.
2. Drain excess water and sprinkle Salt and Lemon Juice and sugar. Gently mix with hand and leave aside.
3. Dice two small potatoes and microwave them for 2 minutes. So that they cook faster.
4. Heat Oil in a medium pan / kadhai on medium heat.
5. Add Mustard Seeds and let them pop.
6. Add Cumin seeds, Hing, Turmeric powder. Then add peanuts and fry them for a minute. Now add curry leaves and green chilis.
7. Add onions and let them cook for 1-2 minutes. I don't like onions in pohe so I skip this step.
8. Add potatoes, mix well. Cover and let them cook for 1-2 minutes. They should be tender but not mushy.
9. Fluff up Pohe with a fork and add it to the pan.
10. Mix well. Sprinkle with a little water if Pohe have dried out too much.
11. Garnish with chopped cilantro and freshly grated coconut. Fine shev also goes well with Pohe. Serve hot.
1. You can add some chopped cilantro while making tadka. It adds nice flavor.
2. Add just enough sugar to balance salt and lemon juice.
3. Chopped mint leaves also add nice flavor to this dish.
Poha is made from rice paddy. Once they clean paddy, they soak it in hot water for about 45 minutes. They they roast wet paddy in large iron skillets to make poha or flattened rice flakes. And that’s why it contains more iron than rice.
Last time when I travelled to India, Cathay Pacific served bhindi masala for lunch. In my humble opinion, if people don’t know how to make bhindi that should just refrain from it. As soon as I reached home, the first thing I asked my mom to make was “भरली भेंडी / bharali bhendi”. It’s called “bharali” because it’s stuffed with masala. Disclaimer – This recipe is not same as Punjabi Bhendi Masala. This is truly a Maharashtrian version and if you ask me it’s the best version 🙂
Bharali Bhendi / Bhindi Masala
Little heavy on oil but totally worth it!
- Wash bhendi and let it dry completely.
- Make slits so that you can stuff the masala inside. Cut it into halves lengthwise so that it's easy to eat.
- In a small bowl, prepare the masala by mixing everything together except for salt.
- In a medium pan, take oil and make tadka by adding mustanrd seeds, cumin seeds, hing, curry leaves and turmeric powder in that order.
- Now stir in stuffed bhendi and let those cook properly.
- Sprinkle salt and mix it lightly. Make sure the masala doesn't come out.
- Keep it covered for 3-4 minutes.
- Once bhendi becomes soft and masala is cooked, it's ready to serve hot with rotis.
This dish demands a bit more oil than usual cooking but it's totally worth it. Also try to use a non stick pan in order to avoid sticking-at-the-bottom problem.
It is a good source of Protein, Riboflavin, Niacin, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc and Copper, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Thiamin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Calcium, Magnesium and Manganese. Read More http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2498/2#ixzz2CRq5FNaA
Upma doesn’t really need any introduction. It’s as famous in Maharashtra as in South India. We also have a slight modified version of Upma + Turmeric powder which we call “सांजा / Sanja”. Very simple, yet wholesome healthy dish great for breakfast. Upma with a bowl of soup has become our favorite choice for dinner.
It’s actually quite versatile recipe and can be made with semolina which is made of wheat, idly rava (made with rice), vermicilli and even oats or couscous. Also you can add veggies if you like. I am giving our traditional home recipe.
Usal is a very common main dish in Maharashtrian homes and especially useful when you don’t have a full pantry. It contains any sprouted grains such as moong, kale chane or Chavali (black eyed peas) mixed together with sautéed onions, tomatoes, ginger and garlic. The special Maharashtrian touch comes from Goda masala + grated coconut and a bit of jaggery.
This recipe can be used for any grains or combination. The other day I didn’t have enough moong or kale chane so I mixed them and it turned out just perfect!
You need to soak moong and kale chane overnight and preferably use warm water. I used Kepra’s Onion Garlic Masala with some homemade Goda masala. You can easily get these in Indian stores.
Moong Kale Chane and Chavli Usal
The same recipe applies to matki usal.
I use two special masalas- Kanda lasun masala (Onion-garlic) and Kala or Goda masala. Both are easily available in Indian grocery stores. You can also use whole garam masala if you like.
- Mix all sprouted grains in equal amount of water in a pressure cooker, add whole Garam masala and a small piece of raw onion with 1 tsp of salt and cook for 3-4 whistles. Mixing whole Garam masala and onion while cooking really induces nice flavors.
- Usal does not need much oil. Add mustard seeds, cumin seeds and hing powder in order to heated oil. Add chopped garlic and curry leaves and onions. As usual add some salt to make the frying process quicker. Saute the onions till they become translucent, now it’s time for grated ginger and diced tomatoes. Smash the tomatoes as they start cooking.
- Lower the heat and all the masalas. I used onion-garlic masala. (This could be very strong and may overpower other flavors so taste it first) and Goda masala for the taste of home cooking! Add chili powder and salt to taste. Make sure this mixture is not dry which can cause masala to burn easily.
- Mix everything and add water as needed.
- Add shredded coconut, and let it boil for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and add a bit of jaggery (or sugar) and squeeze some lime juice for just a punch it needs to be perfect.
- Garnish it with freshly chopped coriander. It’s ready!
Sprouted grains make up for the lack of protein in vegetarian diet, so enjoy yourself!