Extreme Nachos!!!

Super bowl is around the corner right? Actually, I am not a big fan of football . Also I don’t need a good reason or logic ¬†to have these loaded Nachos ūüôā

I call them loaded nachos or supreme nachos. Its loaded with veggies, beans, cheese and all the good stuff and is extremely flavorful and juicy.

 

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So, here is the recipe:

A bag of sturdy corn chips ( Tostitos and the like)

1 Large Bell pepper

1 Sweet onion

1 Cup of Black Beans

1 Cup of Sweet Corn

1 Jalapeno

Sweet pickles(  round slices of cucumber pickles)

1 Packet of Mexican Cheese Blend ( Cheddar, Monterey jack)

For Salsa:

2 Roma Tomatoes

1 Red Onion

1 Jalapeno

1 Lime

1 Cup of Finley Chopped Cilantro

Other Condiments:

Salt, Pepper, Sour Cream, Sriracha Sauce

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. While the oven is heating prepare the chips.

Take a baking sheet. Lay the chips all across the sheet in a single layer. Spread the sliced onions, Bell pepper, sliced Jalapeno, sweet pickles, corn and black beans evenly on the chips. Next, cover the chips with generous amount of cheese.

Next, prepare the salsa. Finely dice the Roma tomatoes, red onion, jalapeno and cilantro. Mix all in a bowl, sprinkle salt, freshly ground black pepper and squeeze a generous amount of lime juice.

When the oven is ready, place the baking sheet in the oven and wait for the cheese to ¬†melt evenly. When the cheese is all melted, remove the chips from the oven and place it on a rack to cool. Make sure you don’t burnt the cheese.

Next, spread the fresh salsa mixture evenly on top of the chips. Sprinkle a dash of salt and ground black pepper. Drizzle a spoonful of sour cream and Sriracha sauce. Squeeze lime juice on top and garnish with cilantro.

Serve it warm.

ENJOY!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minty Aloo Tikkis (Potato cutlets)

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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.

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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.

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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” ūüôā

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)

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.

Crispy Karela/ Bittergourd Fries/Chips(haagalkaayi chips)

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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 ūüôā

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.

 

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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.

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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.

Kodabale- A Karnataka Classic.

Pronounced as  Kod-ba-ley.

Recreating a classic dish always is challenging. Because the dish ,with its long history and reputation will already have set a standard.  Hence, naturally , we have expectations to meet those  standards. These dishes have the signature recipes that have been passed on from generations to generations and hence when we try to make them at home, we inevitably compare them with the original taste.

Classic dishes also are nostalgic. they take us down the memory lane and bring out our best memories of childhood .They remind us of the sweet moments we spent with our family. We tend to recollect and relish the memories of family members or  may be a particular person, otherwise whom we may have long forgotten. That is the power of food. It brings people together to share some great moments.

Kodabale¬†is one such classic for me. Whenever I think of kodabale, I think of my little-girl days. Coffee and Kodabale¬†was the most common combination in my mom’s house. At late evening hours, with fresh cup of filter coffee in hand, daddy, amma¬†, my brothers and I used to sit in the patio of our house and enjoy some crisp and spicy kodbales.

My mom often used to make Kodbales at home and it was a great team project. While my mom, kneaded the spicy dough, my dad and the three of us used to help them roll and shape them into rings. we used to make these rings in batches and arrange them on a plate and then my mom would deep fry them in oil.

It was a fun activity for us kids to play with the dough and make funny animal shapes and ask my mom to fry them in oil. Couple of hours later big tall boxes fllled with Kodbales were ready to enjoy. It was a great time for togetherness and laughter.

Coming to the taste and specifications of this snack, there are many variations. As I mentioned before, the classics have certain standards and specifications . However as per individuals convenience and tastes the recipes often  gets modified. That does not make it a classic anymore, does it?

Many love coconut in the recipe while many ,including my mom, does not worry too much about adding coconut. Some add Ajwain, while others add jeera(cumin). Some like it crisp while others like it chewy.

Taking all these recipes into considerations I finally have my own version here. Finally a Classic recreated!

What we need:

1 cup of rice flour

1/4 cup fine semolina/sooji

2 tbsp Maida

2 tsp cumin

1 big pinch asfoetida

2 tbsp hot oil/melted butter.

salt to taste.

Oil for deep frying.

To grind:

1/4 cup of fresh coconut

10 dry red chillies

Method:

First grind the coconut and chillies into fine powder without adding any water.

then in a wide bowl, combine all the dry ingredients. add the coconut mixture and mix well. do not add any water yet.

Once all the ingredients mix well, add hot oil or butter. mix again. Now the mixture turns into a crumble. now add salt.

Next slowly sprinkle water and start bringing the mixture together into a pilable firm dough consistency. Caution: sprinkle water, gradually.

Once the dough is formed , knead very well for about 5 minutes.

Set aside.

Rolling into rings:

Take a small amount of dough and roll into a small ball on your palm or any flat surface. then slowly roll the ball into a long string . the thickness and length of the string should be like that of a string bean.

Once the string is is formed, roll it inwards to form a ring.

Make several of these rings and keep them on a plate.

Once the oil is hot, deep fry these into a golden brown /darker brown color on a medium flame.

Enjoy them with coffee.

Onion Pakoras

I want to dedicate this post to my cosister’s mother in law, as it was from her I ever first learnt to make good pakodas.

Thank you, Ma ūüôā

Super simple super spicy!

Lots of onions coated with gram/ chickpea flour and seasoned with all the spicy stuffs like ginger,green chillies, pepper powder.

The curry leaves or mint leaves adds an extra zing for these crisp fritters.

The Carom seeds ( Ajwain) gives a nutty strong aroma, while the turmeric and asafoetida are doing their jobs as well, by adding more depth and flavor for the pakoras.

A superb, all time classic,  tea time snack. A rainy day becomes more cozy and warm with these by your side , served with a cup of hot tea or coffee.

Onion pakoras

2  medium white  / red onions sliced lengthwise

1 cup of gram flour/ chickpea/ besan flour

10 green chillies finely minced

1 tsp ajwain seeds( carom seeds)

1 tsp turmeric

2 tbsp finely chopped ginger

1 bunch of mint finely chopped/ 1 stalk of curry leaves chopped

1 tsp black pepper powder

salt to taste

water just to sprinkle and bind

1/4 cup of rice flour( optional) for more crispiness.

Oil for deep frying

In a large bowl ,dump all of the above ingredients. Use your hands to mix evenly all of the items in the bowl. make sure the onion slices separate and gets evenly coated with flour.

once everything is uniformly mixed, sprinkle about 1 tbsp of water just so the mixture gets wet. when you form a lump with your fist , everything should hold together.

once the mixture is ready and the oil is hot, take spoonfuls of the onion mixture and carefully slide them in hot oil.

Deep fry until golden brown. Serve hot with ketchup or green chuteny.

Lima beans Upma

Floyd Cardoz, Winner of the Top Chef season 3  makes the Humble Upma winning 100,000$.

This was last year in June 2011, the Top chef season 3. But when ever I think of this win I feel ” Gee, these winners do the weirdest and the¬†least expected thing”.

This guy takes the simple of the simplest everyday dish from southern India, adds the most unexpected vegetable- The wild mushrooms, uses the chicken stock , gives the dish a whole new twist with coconut milk, makes it his own and Lo! we have a winner!!!

Its pretty amazing how these simple little twists what we call “innovations”¬†makes an ordinary¬†into extra ordinary. It also assures me, time and again, that we all have that creative factor deep with in us. It is just that we have to believe and explore with in ourselves, and there is no doubt we can do extraordinary things!

Now about my Upma, which was a winner in my home ūüôā

I made this as a “quick fix”.¬†¬†¬† Upma or Uppittu, generally is a quick fix in most households in South India. It is a common breakfast dish served everywhere, from homes ¬†to restaurants to household functions to wedding ceremonies.

It is most versatile, takes zero to many vegetables, it¬†is very tasty,¬† very filling depending on how many veggies go in to the dish. Since it is made from cream of wheat, it generally fills you up very quickly, giving it the name of “concrete” by many folks ¬†ūüôā

I really cannot believe there are Upma- haters too! I have come to the  conclusion that they hate it only because they are not doing it right. I guess they think, since it is simple, its boring!

A good upma, like any other good dish, needs some care, some make up, some fine tuning, some sharpening and it has the ability to win 100,000$!!!! helloo..

Let me take a moment to mention that my Mom is a maker of super -tasty upma. Avarekaalu( surti lilva bean) upma is her expertise.

The star ingredients of Upma are the green chilis and ginger. Black pepper and Cumin play a vital role too and of course the garnishes like cilantro and freshly grated coconut, take the Upma to a whole new level!

My upma above was, as I mentioned, a quick fix. That means, I had 1/2 and hour, I peeked into the fridge, I see no vegetables, I peeked in the freezer, I had Lima beans!

I thought, Lima beans, onions, tomatoes…..Lima beans Upma it is gonna be!

What  we need:

1 cup of coarse Semolina/ suji/ Rawa

1 onion finely chopped

1 tomato finely chopped

1 cup of Lima beans

6 green chillis finely chopped ( I like it spicy)

1pinch turmeric

1tsp mustard seeds

1tsp cumin seed

1/2 inch ginger, finely grated

Cilantro, finely chopped for garnish and lemon juice.

3 cups of water, for creamy consistency. Use 2 cups if you want  coarse consistency.

5 tbsp oil

Method:

In a thick bottomed pan, roast the semolina with a few drops of oil. roast it on a medium low flame, just until the semolina starts changing color and you have a nice aroma of the same. STOP if the semolina starts to get golden or dark brown. Ouch, you burnt it!!!

Once roasted, transfer it to another plate and let it cool.

In a pan heat 5 tbsp of oil. use MEDIUM HIGH flame. Once its heated, add mustard seeds, cumin, turmeric, green chillis and ginger and roast for 2 mins. Then add onions and fry till translucent. Then add tomatoes and Lima beans and fry for few minutes. Cover a lid until all the Veggies become soft. take off the lid and add 3 cups of water and SALT to taste. Let the water come to a rolling boil. Now add the roasted semolina slowly and gradually into the boiling water. keep stirring the water so that the Suji does not form lumps. Once there are no lumps , cover the pan with a lid and turn the flame to LOW.

Let the suji cook for 5 mins. Next, stir the Upma with a spoon. By now you have a nice creamy lump of the dish. turn off the heat.

Garnish with Cilantro and lemon juice.

Missal Masala Puri

Let me begin with a little introduction about Masala puri.

It belongs to the same family as sev puri, pani puri, chaat papdi, dahi puri etc. ¬†it belongs to the “chaat family”.

It is popular and widely available in Bangalore and Mysore and surely  in other parts of Karnataka, in various eat outs, restaurants, chaat centers and at those corner side street carts.
Dimly lit by a lantern and people of all ages thronging around by late evening, the subtle aroma of the peas boiling wafting through the air, the  street side cart at the Vidyaranyapuram circle in Mysore was my favorite hangout spot during my high school / college days. 
         The Masala puri and pani puri combination here was to die for and the number of plates and the number of visits to this place has been countless. I could just drown in the Pani and the Masala here! 
 Our whole family were regulars here. my brothers, parents, cousins everyone.
 When I was engaged to be married, the first place I took my then would -be hubby was here! We also invited the Masala puri guy for our wedding! 
The Masala puri, which is our subject matter here , is a plate of crushed chaat papads, topped with crushed boiled potatoes , finely chopped tomatoes and onions and the very key item, which is the sauce , comprising of boiled green peas / white peas.

It is this sauce , which makes the Masala puri  the star that it is! What goes into this sauce, I have no clue. In Some  places the sauce is green and some places it is red. I have even tried to get the recipe from one of the street vendors for the sauce. He gave me some random names of spices like Garam masala, ginger, chilli powder etc, but he did not reveal the procedure or the exact recipe. He frankly said that if he gives out the recipe he would lose customers.  Ofcourse, there is something as trade secret!

So the recipe remains a mystery even today . Also Masala puri is not available in any of the restaurants here in the Usa. Pani puri and other chaats , yes, but Not M P. This makes us miss and crave for masala  puri like crazy. My husband and I even tried to make the sauce in our very own way, but the end result was nothing like the one available back home. 

Disappointed, we had learnt to live without Masala puri here in the USA, until recently and luckily our dear friends N and S introduced us to this very new (new for us) and authentic Marathi dish called the Missal. 

Its a super hot and super spicy gravy of spices and moth beans to be eaten with chopped onions, tomatoes and spicy mixture with a combination of pav

The very first time I tasted this Missal  I was super excited because  1.It was extremely spicy 2. It was delicious and 3. it was so so close in taste to that of the gravy of the Masala puri.

The moment My husband I tasted the missal at our friend’s place, we exchanged looks , which were the looks of a great discovery , the looks of great achievement !¬†

And there we had it, the Missal Masala puri. Now, when ever we miss the Masala puri from back home, we have an immediate solution!
The Missal Masala puri.

What we need:

1 packet of Rasoi  magic Missal mix

1 finely chopped onion

1 finely chopped tomato
1 cup of boiled white peas

1 pack of chaat papad/ flat puris

1 small pack of very spicy mixture of your choice

salt, red chilli powder, lemon juice and cilantro finely chopped.

Method:

First make the Missal rassa according to the package instructions, which is very very simple.

Once the Missal is done you are steps away from enjoying the masala puri…ssslurp….

 1.In a  wide bowl, crush about 6 flat puris
2. Pour on top of the flat puris, the prepared missal gravy
3. top with finely chopped onions, boiled white peas and  tomatoes
4. Top it off  with the very spicy Indian mixture

Just before serving, sprinkle some salt, chilli powder and garnish with Cilantro.

It is so nostalgic. Brings back old memories, the place, the teen years, the laughs, the giggles…….drift away ¬†back in time…..
Notes:
When you cook according to package instructions the sauce turns out very watery. So keep boiling for a few more extra minutes to reduce the water content
OR you can mash some boiled peas to thicken the sauce.
Variations:
If you have regular bread, its a great accompaniment with the sauce.
Add Onions and tomatoes as per your taste.