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.
This recipe is inspired from Sweet Potato and Beetroot balls from Archana’s Kitchen. A quick, healthy, nutritious snack that looks beautiful and taste wonderful. I just described a kids-friendly recipe, didn’t I? I will be making these for halloween party coming up soon.
It tastes great with tangy tamarind chutney or hot-n-sour sauce or you can also try with salad with lots of greens!
Sweet Potato & Beetroot Kebabs
A delicious healthy kids-friendly snack 🙂
- In a small pan, heat some oil and add chopped onions. Fry them until translucent.
- Add garlic paste, green chilies and let them fry for a minute.
- Add grated beetroot and let it cook for 5 minutes.
- Add cumin-coriander powder, turmeric powder, chaat masala and some salt. Mix well.
- Add mashed sweet potatoes and mix well.
- Heat Paniyaram Pan and add a few drops of oil in each pocket.
- Make small balls and cook them from both sides in the pan. It takes about 10 minutes.
- Serve hot with chutney.
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.
Paradise Hotel, a landmark on Sardar Patel Road in Secunderabad which is so hard to miss. A crowded road with equally crowded biryani house which has been serving thousands of people day and night since 1953. I still clearly remember, 6 years back when I first visited Hyderabad; lunch at Paradise was ranking very high on our must-to-do list. Their signature biryani was truly succulent, flavorful and aromatic! It was a delicious experience.
When I first came across the recipe for Hyderabadi Birynai at Swasthi’s Indian Healthy Recipes, I knew I didn’t want to miss this opportunity to cherish my experience in my own kitchen. And the reason I came across this wonderful recipe is SNC – South Vs North Challenge started by Divya Pramil. She is a versatile cook and blogs at Youtoocancookindianfood.blogspot.com. Divya has created two groups – Southern Group and Northern Group as you can guess you become part of a group based on the region you belong to in India. I liked the idea and it’s quite unique. This is my first time participating in SNC and I am so excited about it.
I will be part of Northern Group. You can read more about the challenge on Divya’s blog. Being from Maharashtra, I feel this is a great opportunity for me to learn both South Indian and North Indian dishes.
So here it comes, my vegetable biryani
It’s easy to prepare but has multiple steps and if it’s your first time it will take little longer. My rice was cooked little longer but the flavors and the taste was quite up to my expectation.
Here’s what you need.
Hyderabadi Vegetable Biryani
One pot meal with simple ingredients yet exotic flavors
Take a deep breath. It's a long list of ingredients and an equally long list of steps, quite daunting when you read it first time. Stay with me and it will be done in 45 minutes!
- Wash rice grains and soak them in cold water before starting with other preparation.
- Keep all vegetables ready by washing them and chopping as desired. I used some asparagus but that's optional.
- Next thing is to prepare the vegetable masala. In a medium pan, heat 2 tbspn of oil or Ghee and add all whole spices (bay leaf, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, shahee jeera, star anis) and let them roast for a minute or so until you can smell their distinct aromas.
- Now add ginder garlic paste and green chilis.
- Add diced potatoes and saute them for a 1-2 minutes.
- Now add all other vegetables and mix them.
- Add biryani masala, red chili powder and sail and mix well.
- Now add 1/2 cup yogurt, mix everything and let it cook for 5 minutes. keep a lid on so that it cooks faster with the steam.
- We want the dry masala so cook it uncovered for another 3-4 minutes until all the moisture goes out. Add some chopped mint leaves and cilantro leaves and keep it aside.
- Heat 1/4 cup milk and add saffron to it. Keep it ready.
- In a small kadhai or pan, add 4 tbsp of oil and fry the onion slices until they turn dark brown. It takes around 10 minutes.
- In another bigger pan, add 4 cups of water and the soaked rice. Add a tsp of Ghee or oil, some salt and cumin seeds. Let it simmer for a while until the rice is 3/4th done. This is important as we are going to cook the rice again so make sure it's not well done.
- As soon as rice is ready, place a tawa on a low flame and a big steal pan or cooker on the tawa. You may call it as a modern way of cooking "dum" biryani.
- Add half of the vegetable masala cooked earlier, add some yogurt and some fried onions. Then add some rice. Make two such layers. On top add cashews, raisins and fried onions and chopped cilantro leaves.
- Pour the saffron milk on top.
- Now you have two options, you can seal the top with wheat dough or you can use a thick towel with a heavy lid on top it. I used the latter option.
- Let the rice cook for another 10 minutes on medium flame and then switch of the heat and let it sit for another 5 minutes.
- Serve it hot with raita.
It's very important to keep everything ready when your rice is about to be done else it will cook more than what you want and the grains will not remain separated. I did this mistake and my rice was little overcooked. So plan it ahead.
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.
Hearty Soup for cold winter days
The best thing I loved about butternut squash is that it’s practically indestructible. It lasts for months (as long as you store it in a dry, cool place) I was instantly attracted to buy a butternut squash and I did think of making soup on the very same day. The day did arrive only after few months. I peeled it and was pleasantly surprised to find it in a perfect condition. And hence the story of my butternut squash soup ended on a sweet note.
Trust me, peeling it is the hardest part. Adding onion is a good idea to cut the sweetness. Many blogs have recommended to add a green apple which I didn’t have and waiting for one might have turned into wasting couple more weeks. I had fresh rosemary, thanks to my colleague. So I used some rosemary while roasting, it added a peppery flavor to it which was pleasant. Thyme goes well with any sweeter squash and also with sweet potatoes so if you have fresh thyme feel free to use some.
Butternut Squash Soup
A healthy and hearty soup with tough outside yet soft inside butternut squash
- Wash and chop a carrot in half inch pieces.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Peel and dice butternut squash into half-inch cubes. Also cut onion into equal sized pieces.
- Spread these cubes on a baking sheet and sprinkle some olive oil so that the pieces do not stick to the sheet and it also prevents them from burning.
- Sprinkle some salt and pepper.
- If you are using any fresh herbs, chop them and sprinkle on top.
- Roast these vegetables for 25-30 minutes, until tender. Let them cool down a bit.
- In a big saucepan, heat 1 table spoon of butter.
- Add Ginger-garlic-chili paste if you are using it. It's optional but I find it better to offset the sweetness from carrots and butternut squash.
- Add carrots to the pan and saute for 5 minutes.
- Now add roasted squash and onions and saute for few minutes.
- Add 2 cups of broth or water. I used water and din't notice any difference.
- Blend everything with immersion blender or a standalone blender. Adjust the amount of water or broth as per your taste.
- Now take the soup in the same saucepan, add more salt or pepper as needed. Add a pinch of nutmeg and cinnamon. Let it boil for 1-2 minutes. It's ready to be served.
Note - The smaller you chop your vegetables the faster they cook so the exact time will vary. Please check after 15 minutes if they are done.
Linking to Vardhini’s Dish it Out – Squash and Sugar event happening here at MyHomeMantra
There are some dishes which you never make at home because you always like to have those at restaurants. Dal Makhani was one of these until I had ‘the best dal makhani ever’ made by S. He was famous for his recipe during his college days and I must admit he did a great job. On a second thought the butter, and more butter, the cream and the masala did a fantastic job. Later, I served him dal makhani made without butter and cream and it was still as fabulous as his version, he looked surprised!
Urad Dal is rich in protein and dietary fibre. It’s also a great source of minerals especially Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, and Copper. It also has good amount of Folate and Vitamin B6.
Black Urad is not commonly used in Maharashtrian cuisine. As the name suggests, its a Punjabi dish and extra cream will make it more “Makhani” like any other Punjabi preparation.
No butter and no cream can still make a delicious dal makhani
- Soak urad dal and kidney beans in water overnight (7-8 hours)
- In a pressure cooker, add soaked dal and beans with double amount of water. Add peppercorns, cinnamon, cloves and a bay leaf to the daal. Let it cook with 5-6 whistles. You can also add a tea spoon of salt.
- Meanwhile, you can keep onion, tomato, ginger and garlic ready and start with the tadka.
- In a medium pan, heat some oil. Once it becomes hot, add cumin seeds.
- Add chopped garlic and let it turn slightly brown.
- Add some chopped cilantro and let it fry for a minute.
- Now add chopped onion, and cook them nicely. Sprinkle some salt to quicken the process.
- Once onions are cooked 80%, add tomatoes and mix well. It takes another 2 minutes.
- Smash tomatoes with spatula.
- Reduce the heat and add red chili powder and Dal Makhani masala and stir well. You should be able to smell the aroma of the hot masala.
- Next, add cooked dal and rajma along with some water.
- Add salt if needed and mix well. Let it boil for 2-3 minutes and your dal is ready to serve.
- garnish it with chopped onions while serving.
This is going to Vardhini’s Dish it Out – Lentils & Garlic event hosted at nivedhanams.
Healthy can be Yummy!
There was a time when I had Falafel wrap from Dish N Dash at least once a week. I really miss this place. Falafel was on my list for a long time but “deep-fried” and “cleaning-after-deep-frying” were the main reasons to put it off. This weekend I decided to give it a shot and instead of frying I baked flattened falafel balls and here is the result –
It takes much less time and it’s a no-mess recipe. Definitely a keeper. I served these falafel with cool cucumber dip.
Easy, Healthy and Delicious!
- I did not use canned Garbanzo beans, hence I soaked them overnight in water. Next day I cooked them in a steamer until you can smash them with a fork. Don't overcook else it will form a paster when you grind them. If you are using canned beans, skip this step and instead just drain the water and follow along.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a food processor (DO NOT use grinder / blender), add chana (garbanzo beans) and roughly chopped cilantro and pulse it few times until you get roughly chopped mixture. Be careful not to over blend it.
- Now take the mixture in a medium mixing bowl and add all other ingredients which include finely chopped onion, finely chopped garlic and olive oil and other spices and salt to taste. Add lemon juice and mix well.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and grease the paper with few drops of oil. Alternatively, you can use the cooking spray but it's not needed.
- Drop one table spoon of mixture on the sheet leaving enough space to spread the mixture.
- With your fingers, slightly flatten the balls on the baking sheet.
- Since these are baked and not fried, only the flatten sides with become crispy so if you want go ahead and make them thinner.
- Bake these for 15-17 minutes until their bottom becomes golden brown. Once done, they slide out easily.
- Take them out and turn each falafel and bake the other side for another 10 minutes.
- Serve hot with tahini, hummus or cucumber dip.
Linking it to Foodomania’s Christmas Cook-Off Contest
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.
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.