Photo courtesy: Shampa Das
I think of my kitchen these days more as a laboratory than a place where I slave away morning and evening.
Not only does this fulfill my deep-seated, unrealized dream of being a research scientist, it also helps me to take every botched cooking experiment as a learning experience and move on to other things without any guilt whatsoever about wasted time and resources.
I recently discovered, for instance, pureeing vegetables, especially the unpopular ones like the pumpkin and lauki, and adding other ingredients yields amazing results. The vegetables, when combined in this manner, get completely transformed beyond recognition into food items that your family enjoys eating! Isn’t that a great thing these days with sky-rocketing prices of vegetables?
Given below are some examples with pics.
First assemble all the ingredients: chopped green onions, garlic, tomatoes, green coriander, soaked chana dal, boiled lauki, hing, whole jeera (cummin) seeds, mustard seeds.
Heat some oil in a karahi and add garlic, whole cummin, soaked chana dal, hing, and sarson.
Next, add onions.
Add green onions.
Add spices, roasted besan.
Now add tomatoes and green coriander.
Stir and add pureed lauki.
Add pao-bhaji masala. Stir and mix.
Keep stirring till oil separates and you get something like the pic on top..
The pic on top is of bhaji made from leftovers, potato-beans-peas combination and pumpkin, lying idle in fridge. I mashed the combo in a karahi and treated it with tomato puree, chilli powder, and pau-bhaji masala…It tasted heavenly.😊
Pakoras from leftover rice and kadhi
Leftover Khichdi Pakoras
I pureed leftover Khichdi in the mixie and added besan, one chopped onion, one chopped potato, green coriander, and some spices along with salt to the batter. I added some water to adjust the consistency. I deep-fried spoonfuls of this batter and turned them into pakoras. They were amazing! See pic above.
A Winter Recipe
At the peak of winter, when it’s chilly, misty, and cloudy outside and the plants are bereft of green leaves, it’s best to head to the kitchen and make these unusual pakoras for yourself and your family. Have them with a cup of hot masala chai. It will drive away the blues and make you feel better.
Here are the step-by-step pics…
1. Grind some cauliflower ganthals (stalks) along with a bunch of garlic, some ginger, and a green chilly. Take out this paste in a vessel and add besan (black gram powder) to it.
Add salt, ajwain, hing, amchur, cumin powder, and coriander powder as per your taste.
Take out spoonfuls of this batter and deep fry in hot oil in a Karahi till they turn brown all over.
Place them in a plate once done. Enjoy with a dip of your choice and a hot cup of tea.
Jimikand (Elephant Yam) is an ugly duckling among vegetables.
Pure vegetarians don’t like it much because of its meaty flavor while pure non-vegetarians don’t like to waste their time and energies on something that masquerades at being what it isn’t.
And those who love it don’t eat it very often either. In my complete life of 5 decades so far, I remember having eaten it only 4 times; first time as a child when Mom made it. Second time was when an office colleague brought it for lunch. I ate it with great relish on both the occasions. Third time, I tried to make it myself. It was during the Google-free era when recipes were not always readily available. Though I put in my best possible efforts, it turned out to be awful! I thought I would never cook it again.
But, as destiny would have it, in around October 2018, my husband bought some jimikand along with other vegetables at a local grocery store. It was because of one of their special offers. For several days, the jimikand sat in our fridge. Finally, when all the other veggies were over, I decided to make one more attempt at cooking it. I gathered a lot of ideas from Google.
To my great surprise, the dish turned out to be very tasty and it was made in a jiffy.
My husband said, “It tastes somewhat like the way my Mom used to make it.” I took that as a big complement as my mother-in-law was a highly-accomplished cook.
It gives me a lot of joy today as I share the recipe with you all in this post.
1. Wear gloves while peeling jimikand as it causes itching on bare skin.
2. Soak the cut pieces in water and squeeze some lemon juice into it. Keep the vessel aside for about 15 minutes.
3. Take out the cut jimikand pieces and wash them well in water. Deep fry them in batches in a pressure cooker till they turn brown. Take them out out of oil once done.
4. Take out excess oil and leave just about two tablespoons of oil in the pressure cooker. Turn on the gas again. Put a half teaspoonful of whole cumin into the hot oil. Once they start crackling, add chopped onion. After they start turning pink, add chopped tomato. When the oil starts appearing on the sides, add the spices as per your taste (turmeric, chilli powder, coriander powder, jeera powder, etc). Stir a little bit. Then add the fried jimikand pieces followed by salt according to taste.
5. Add water as per required viscosity and some green coriander leaves.
6. When the water starts boiling, cover with the lid and place the whistle. After about 4 or 5 whistles, the jimikand stew would be ready.
7. Open the cooker once it cools down. Serve hot with rotis. Enjoy!☺️
Cream & Strawberry Crackers
Last night, after dinner, I had a sudden craving for something sweet. We had some sweets lying in the fridge, but I wanted to eat something different. I had neither the time nor the energy for any more cooking and something had to be done, I thought. My urge was simply uncontrollable. That was when an idea came to my mind.
I rushed to the kitchen and created a plate of cream and strawberry crackers. See the photo above. I was amazed to find that it took me just 2 minutes!
I wondered why I didn’t do this earlier. Well, necessity is the mother of invention, isn’t it?
After days of feasting, it feels good to return to the joys of simple eating…No oil, no green chillies, no green coriander, no tomatoes, no ginger…
Ingredients: Boiled chickpeas, lemon juice, onions, whole jeera and dhania powder, chilli powder and salt as per taste.
Process: Mix all ingredients with spices, salt and lemon juice as per taste.
See photo above. Enjoy…
Cauliflower Stem Pakodas
In summer, however, when prices of vegetables start skyrocketing, you need to ensure that every bit of the vegetables that you buy is utilized. That’s the time when you need to be able to use the danthals as well.
My recent experiment with making gobhi ganthal pakoras met with great success and I was pleasantly surprised to find them so wonderfully delicious. I reallh wonder why they are not as well-known as they deserve to be. It gives me great pleasure to share the recipe with you today.
Here are the step-by-step pics.
Wash the danthals thoroughly.
Place the cleaned pieces in a vessel. Cut them into smaller pieces and remove the hard parts and fibers.
Grind these in a mixie. Add some water , if required.
Take out the paste and put it in a vessel.
Add to it some besan (chana dal flour), ajwain, hing, red chilli powder, garam masala, amchur, and salt according to taste.
Scoop out portions of this batter with a tablespoon and deep fry these in hot oil in a karahi.
As soon as they turn brown all over, take them out and place them on tissue paper to remove excess oil.
Gobhi danthal pakoras are ready now. Enjoy them with a dip of your choice.
You can use them further as dahi wadas or koftas…
Innovations in Cooking
If you’re a North Indian, you must have, at some time of your life, eaten Besan-ka-chilla-with-green-chutney combination. For those of you who are not aware, besan chilla is a kind of a pancake prepared from a batter of besan, finely chopped onions, and green chillies.
I recently experimented with making the chilla-chutney combination with a slight variation of ingredients and the results were absolutely awesome!
For the chilla, I used grated cauliflower, ginger, green amla, green coriander, onions, and green chillies.
For the green chutney, I used green coriander, one tomato, grapes (both green and black), green pepper, and some gur.
Here are the step-by-step pics…
For the green sweet-sour chutney:
Grind these ingredients in a mixie.
1. Fruits and veggies
2. Add gur inside the mixie according to taste.
For the chillas:
1. Mix the ingredients (grated cauliflower, ginger, green amla, green coriander, onions, and green chillies) with salt, ajwain, asafetida, and other spices of your choice in a vessel.
2. Spread 2 teaspoons of oil on the pan and after a minute, pour 4 tablespoons of the above mixture on it. When the bottom side becomes brown, flip it over and wait till this also becomes brown.
Here is a useful tip. If you dip a piece of tissue paper in some oil-water mixture and rub this on the pan before cooking the chilla, you will have no problems with producing perfectly round and crisp chillas. When non-stick pans become old, they lose some of their non-stick quality and cause a lot of frustration when things don’t turn out as expected…
3. After both sides turn brown, remove the chilla from the pan and place it on a plate. Serve it with green chutney or any other dip of your choice.
Culinary Heroes Of Delhi
Let me tell you about 2 such people.
Raju: You will find him standing outside Uttam Nagar Bus Terminal, near Uttam Nagar East Metro Station. He has come from Uttar Pradesh. From morning till night, he fries cocktail samosas in a little karahi and sells them to the passersby. His price is Rs.10 for 4 samosas, that is, Rs.2.50 per piece, which is damn cheap if you compare it with a standard samosa in Delhi which costs Rs.12 per piece. His low pricing is his way of fighting competition.
A few days ago, it was raining when I passed by his shop. I usually avoid street food, but I just couldn’t resist the temptation and I bought these samosas. I was pleasantly surprised to find them very tasty and the spices were very balanced too. During the rainy season, he puts up a tent and carries on because sales are much more when it rains. Considering the amount of plastic that goes inside a packet of Kurkure of the same price (Rs.10), these samosas are, I think, far safer and more nutritious. Try them out whenever you are passing through this place and you feel like eating something crunchy and spicy.
Tashi Sherpa: Tashi works for a living at Mini Market, AG-1 Vikaspuri. He has come from Darjeeling and lives in Uttam Nagar at present. He began his business in Vikaspuri about a year ago. His daily routine begins here at 4 PM.
His most significant contribution to this locality has been the introduction of ‘Buglet,’ a recipe which he has brought from Darjeeling, and 2 new varieties of samosa, chowmein samosa and macaroni samosa.
Samosas with fillings other than potatoes were earlier associated with places like Moti Nagar and Paharganj. Thanks to Tashi, we get them now in AG-1, Vikaspuri too! He is doing quite well here, he says with his characteristic smile, especially with his buglets and samosas.
Buglet is a kind of roll made from maida stuffed with chicken or vegetables depending on the preferences of the customers. The roll is fried in a karahi and sliced into two before serving.
Here are the photographs.
Raju @ Uttam Nagar Bus Terminal
Seller of luscious and colorful fruits