Minty Aloo Tikkis (Potato cutlets)

IMG_4152

At a time of crisis, Like a good friend, A potato is there. Always there. Anytime everytime.

Those brown muddy spuds are lifesavers for me . I feel desolated without their presence  in my kitchen.

And all that thoughts and talks about starch and carbs does not matter, when you are hungry and every member of your family is restless and asking for something to “EAT RIGHT NOW” !!!!

I cannot tell you how grateful I am for those potatoes that saved my evening the day before. It was seemingly a long day. The heavy rains would not stop. They started the moment I opened my eyes  in the morning  and persisted the entire day.

IMG_4146

The rains would not stop, but the rains would not stop our day either. Life has to go on.

Wake up time, brush, breakfast, backpack, lunchbag,off to school, with an umbrella- That was my 5 year old.

wakeup time, breakfast, bath , off to work- that was my hubby.

Wakeup time and hang around with me , on me, all over me, make a mess of the house and bring the whole house upside down, no nap, just play, play with kitchen utensils, play with gadgets, play with dangerous objects, making my heart skip a beat and almost making me collapse by noon- That is my 18 month old.

So I take a deep breath and look at the clock, and it  is already time for my kindergartener to come back from school. I am startled but  gather myself up, with my 18 month old still lurking by my side, grab my coat,slide into my shoes when I suddenly heard a knock on the door.

It was my hubby !!! “Oh thank god you are here. Ok here is Sahana.  I am leaving. I have to take Mahati to the piano class”. I dashed out of the door.

IMG_4153

The rain did not cease. I picked my daughter from the bus stop, drove her straight to the piano class, which lasts for about two hours.

By the time we came back home by  evening, every single person in the house is STARVING. Remember, I did not feed my hubby when he came home?

So now it calls for quick action. I peered inside the fridge and what did I see? Some boiled and mashed potatoes from last night. Problem solved!

I decided to make tikkis. Darn that rain and darn those cravings for spicy tangy chaat. When I announced what I was making , my husband raised his eyebrows and sat up straight on the couch almost ready to eat. My daughter said  “yaaay, but Amma this time can you make it Yummier?”

I rolled my eyes, but smiled and promplty said “I will try” :)

Thus, these tikkis, which I very quicky put together for our evening chaat. Then there was dinner time. But that is another story :).

Minty Aloo Tikkis:

2 potatoes boiled peeled and mashed without lumps.( any kind. I used 2 big russet potatoes)

3 slices of bread (i used just white bread from pepperidge farm)

1/2 a cup of mint finely chopped

Oil for deep frying

Seasonings:

1tsp Jeera, 1 tsp Chaat masala, 2 tbsp lemon juice, salt, 1 tsp red chilli powder, 1 tsp garam masala, 2 cloves of garlic-grated, 1 green chilli finely minced.

Method:

In a wide bowl, combine mashed potatoes, mint, salt and all the  seasonings.

Take the bread slices,  dunk them in luke warm water. squeeze out all the water and throw them in the bowl with potatoes.

oil your palms and start kneading the potato bread mixture. After kneading for a few minutes, the whole mixture comes together like a nice firm dough.

Next divide the dough into equal portions. Roll them into a ball and pat them flat on your palms.

Frying:

I chose to deep fry them because they will cook evenly inside out. Alternative is to shallow fry them on  a griddle.

( if the dough gets too sticky or has some water content , then sprinkle some all purpose flour(maida) to the mix)

Methi Thepla

IMG_4137

Methi or Fenugreek is often considered as a superfood in India. It is believed to have cooling properties. It is very therapeutic. Breastfeeding moms are often seen consuming fenugreek seeds in quite high amounts, as it is believed to increase milk supply. I have tried it too , and I must say it works!

Because of its cooling properties fenugreek powder is added in spicy pickles  to compensate all that heat from the chilli powder. I remember my grandmother using fenugreek to help her digestion. Just before bedtime she used to make herself a glass of cold buttermilk with little salt and  adding some freshly powdered fenugreek seeds.

I just so love methi too. It is so fragrant and therapeutic. Be it the seeds or the leaves, I love to use them quite often. The leaves are very tender and fragrant and hardly bitter . The seeds carry a nutty and  quite bitter taste but the bitterness subdues when we dry roast them . And that aroma!!! ….

I always wish that methi was available in American supermarkets. Unfortunately it is not and I always have to visit the Indian store to grab a bunch or two and always will have to make a choice of what to make out of Methi. Those are hard choices to make, as anything made out of Methi  leaves is absolutely delicious.

There is a whole array of dishes both South and North Indian that uses fresh Methi leaves in its cooking. Parathas, rotis, gravies,curries, fritters, dals you name it!

This time I chose to make Theplas out of Methi. Theplas are similar to rotis or parathas. They have all spices incorporated in them and typically needs no side dish to go with it. They can be enjoyed as a snack, brunch, lunch or dinner. Kids Love them too. Just pay attention to the spice levels when making for kids. It makes a great lunch box recipe too.

The process is quite simple and here is how to make theplas out of these ever green Methi:

What we need:

2 cups of whole wheat flour

2 tbsp gram/chickpea flour

1 cup of finely chopped fresh methi leaves

2 green chillies

1 tsp cumin/coriander powder( optional)

1tsp turmeric

salt

Method:

Combine all ingredients together.

With little sprinkles of water, knead into a soft dough.

Divide into equal sized balls

roll them into round rotis

On a hot griddle roast them by sprinkles of oil.

Serve warm or not so warm with yogurt.

 

 

Tawa Pulav with Pav Bhaji Masala

IMG_4133

Tawa pulavs are quick fixes and a delicious alternate to the much time consuming Biriyanis.Although,the way I make Biriyani is not often very elaborate or time consuming. check it out here.  For this recipe, All we need is some cut vegetables and precooked rice. The rest of the proccess goes very easily by adding our favorite masalas.

This time I just wanted to try it out with the Pav Bhaji masala(store bought). And it turned out pretty darn good!

Check it out!

IMG_4125

Ingredients in order of appearance are:

Oil 2 tbsp

turmeric- 1/2 tsp

Jeera – 1 tsp

Ginger garlic paste- 1 tsp

finely chopped onions

finely chopped toamtoes

finely chopped capsicum

fresh corn kernels

fresh peas

fresh carrots cubed.

Pav Bhaji Masala 2 tsp, garam masala and red chilli powder 1 tsp each

Pre cooked rice,( basmati preferred)

Salt to taste.

Method:

Heat oil in a wide skillet or tawa on a medium to high heat. Add ingredients in the order above. Mix well to make a thick curry. FInally add rice and mix.

serve with raita.

About being authentic.

It is very natural to imitate. That instinct to be wanting to be “like” someone else. Someone who is better than us. We all do that. Try to be like someone else. Mostly because, when we are surrounded by people who are doing better than us, we often feel low and inadequate and the pressure builds to be good and achieve success “like” others.

This is so true especially in the world of blogging. I will tell you my story.

I started a blog because I wanted to have a blog. Not because others have their own blogs.

But over the period of time, when I started browsing hundreds of others’ blogs and noticing how great they were, be it their writing , be it their photographs or just their post titles, I felt awful. I felt  ” I am pathetic”. This feeling is strong, especially when your readership is so low and when the clicks on your blog is almost close to zero.

 

But then something happened. Something dawned on me. And it happened TODAY.

In today’s morning show, the popular blogger of Smitten Kitchen was featured on TV. She is the famous food blogger with her famous site, I realized. I was further intrigued when the TV segment featured her famous kitchen on TV. Her kitchen is famous, famous for being teeny tiny!!! Her kitchen looked like a warm, cozy place where you can find solace by making your favorite comfort foods and just enjoy them even if you are alone!

My curiosity rose and  in the afternoon I visited her site. This was the 10th time I was visiting her site. 9 times before the TV feature!

And what I read there caught my attention. She writes, “food has to be accessible”. And “she does not believe in fancy ingredients like an expensive bottle of pink Himalayan salt”.

I realized there was a song beneath these lines. A song of authenticity. A song of originality. A song of what she believes in. And that is what differentiates her and makes her unique. So unique to be featured on the TV show!

I took a deep breathe, refreshed my thoughts and came to a conclusion. Imitating, trying to BE Like someone else due to mere pressure to succeed, will not take me anywhere.

There is great strength in being original, being authentic, being yourself. Drawing inspiration from others is one thing, but completely trying to live other peoples lives while losing complete focus on yours is nothing short of ridiculous.

SO here I am. The new me. Trying to be myself again. In this humble blog of mine. Renewing and reflecting in what I believe in related to food and life. Mainly because when food and taste  is such a personal thing, it does not make any sense to imitate others.

Cilantro rice with Vegetable Blend

IMG_4073

I would like to call this dish as a perfect blend of the two most beautiful seasons: The spring and the Fall.

The bright fresh green of the cilantro and specks of brown , orange and green of the vegetables and beans combine together to form this visual treat.

Just as I finished grinding the cilantro, its fresh scent wafted and swept across the kitchen and hit my nose and got into my head :). It took me hours to get the aroma out of my head. And, It tasted as good as it smelled.

On a typical day, my lunch menu includes a rice item with combination of rasam and raita. Hence I always have a bag of frozen vegetable in the freezer, as they come in handy when I need them.

So this time I had this bag of frozen veggies which was a combination of both vegetables and beans. It’s  called the Mediterranean Blend.  It had broccoli, snap peas, kidney beans, lima beans, chick peas, carrots, cauliflower , all of  it in one bag!!!

That  mixed with fresh ground cilantro resulted in this beautiful and tasteful rice dish which I relished ( and I am sure you will too!) for the rest of the day. Yumm!

What we need:

2 cups of rice cooked and cooled( preferably Basamati)

2 cups of mixed veggies ( fresh or frozen)

To grind:

2 cups of fresh cilantro

1 medium onion

5-6 green chillies

Masalas:

1 tsp Jeera (cumin)

1 tsp ginger garlic paste

1 tsp garam masala

1 tsp biriyani masala ( home made or store bought)

oil

Method:

Cook the rice and spread it out to cool.

Next grind everything under “to grind” section above. Add very less water to form a thick paste.

In a pan pour 3 tbsp of oil. once hot, add cumin. When the cumin crackles add the mixed vegetables and fry them until they are tender.

Add the ginger garlic paste and fry for a minute more.

Add the rest of the masalas and salt  and cook for a minute more.

Then add the ground coriander paste to the mixed vegetables and fry until the raw flavor of the coriander paste fades away and the whole mixture cooks through and separates oil. The final mixture is dark green with vegetables.

Turn off the heat.

Finally mix the cooled rice with the vegetable mixture. adjust salt.( I usually add a tbsp of oil while mixing rice. taht gives a nice shine and texture to the rice, which otherwise might look dry).

Serve with raita or just plain yogurt.

Crispy Karela/ Bittergourd Fries/Chips(haagalkaayi chips)

IMG_4066

Would you make a resolution for the  upcoming New Year to add some bitterness into your life?

Whoa , that is crazy. Who would want  bitterness in life when all we crave is for sweetness and more of it ?:)

May be you DO. When you try this recipe of Karela or bitter gourd chips :)

It is just the perfect thing for the deep winter that sets in at the dawn of the New year.  The crisp, the crunch and the spice will definitely makes you crave for more and more of it.

 

IMG_4065

One of the key things a food blogger does is the Blog Hopping. Just sit for hours in front of the computer and just flip, scroll, sway and hop from one blog to another. That is how we learn new stuffs and new recipes and get inspired by amazing photographs.

One good afternoon while I was browsing through my favorite blogs and more, I found this amazing food site. By far, for me,  this is the only  site loaded with great vegetarian dishes that are simple and delicious to make.

IMG_4068

 

When I browsed across the site it was unbelievable, as each and every recipe was simple and tasty enough to tempt me to try them all at home.

Believe it or not, I visit this site every single day!!! It has amazing tamil recipes, different dosa recipes, the chutneys and poriyals that are so so tempting to make them all at once.

And this where I also found this sweet gem, the bittergourd fries!

And that website is none other than, Raks Kitchen.

Please find the recipe for crispy karela fries here.