Khandvi – A Gujarati Snack

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Khandvi is a simple, filling Guju snack made of dahi (yogurt) and besan flour (chickpea flour). It’s a rather novel texture, almost like a solidified custard consistency. It’s pretty easy to eat 5-6 of these at a time.

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To make these, I used some haldi (turmeric) and mustard seeds I brought back from India. I was missing a few things (curry leaves, hing, etc) but they still came out delicious.

Khandvi 

Adapted from Veg Recipes of India

For yellow part:

1 cup chickpea flour

3/4 cup plain, unsweetened yogurt

2 1/4 cups room temperature water

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon ginger purée

Pinch of onion powder + pinch of garlic powder (or pinch of hing/asfoetida, if you have)

Pinch of salt

Whisk together the yogurt and water, and then add the spices and mix. Add the chickpea flour and whisk until no longer lumpy.

Spread some oil on two large, rimmed pans and set aside. Nonstick pans work even better.

In a nonstick sauce pan on very low heat, heat the mixture until it solidifies. The original recipe notes it takes 17 minutes to reach the desired consistency, and this is about how long it took for me, too. To test whether the consistency is good, take a small spoonful onto the pan and let it cool a little, then try to roll it. If it rolls, you’re in the clear! Take the mixture off the heat and spread it out in a thin layer across the pan, as evenly as possible.

For “filling” and topping:

2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut

2 tablespoons cilantro or a pinch of coriander powder

1 teaspoon coconut milk or water (or omit)

Mix these together and sprinkle around on the thin layer of chickpea/yogurt.

1 tablespoon oil

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

2 teaspoons sesame seeds

pinch curry powder or 8-10 curry leaves

Heat oil and add mustard seeds, cook until sizzling. Add the curry and the sesame seeds, cook until sizzling/browned. Take off heat.

Assembly: 

Cut the yellow lengthwise into strips, and then roll roll roll. You can do a variety of shapes and sizes. After rolling, arrange on a serving dish and spoon the mustard seed/sesame seed/oil mixture across them. I also sprinkled black sea salt for flavor and color contrast!

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Soft yet crispy, sweet yet savory, delicate yet filling. A snack of contrasts that won’t fail to please! Khana swadisht thaa!

Also because I am a wimp I left out spicy green chilis. You can add these in the batter or in the filling if you so wish.

Spiced Mixed Pulses Soup

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I don’t really experiment with dried beans or lentils much, but I saw a little bag of mixed pulses in the store and it was just so colorful and pretty that I bought it. Thus, I had this bag of dried pulses and had to do something. So, I made some soup! Perfect for the lovely 97 degree November days we’ve been having!

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Spiced Mixed Pulses Soup

Adapted from Lisa’s Kitchen

1 small bag of mixed pulses (see original recipe for exact amounts; the types and amounts don’t matter toooo much). I had channa (chickpeas), some different beans, and some different daals (lentils).

Mix together in a bowl:

1 small red onion, chopped very finely

1 tablespoon garlic/ginger paste

3/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon ground cumin

Cayenne if you want some kick (I didn’t… I’m boring)

Remaining ingredients:

2 tablespoons ghee, butter or oil

1 small tomato, seeded and finely chopped

handful of dried curry leaves

1/4 teaspoon asafoetida (hing)

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup coconut milk

Fresh cilantro.

Soak the pulses overnight (this is why I don’t deal with dried legume stuff). Drain, and bring to a boil in enough water to cover the pulses with about 2 inches of water to spare. Simmer for about 1 hour.

Mix together what I told you to mix together above.

Heat your fat of choice in a pan and add the mixture in the bowl to it; saute for 5 minutes. Add the tomato, curry leaves, hing, and salt to taste. Cook and stir often for 8-10 minutes. Add this to the beans. Pour in the coconut milk and simmer for 20 minutes.

Garnish with the cilantro and serve hot. Additional garnish: some extra coconut milk!

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Enjoy. Love me some fiber, protein… coconut… yum. This was pretty tasty and went very well with sweet potato parathas. Other accompaniments would be some dahi (yogurt), or rice, or both, and a sweet lime pickle.

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So many dishes, though… I can make such a mess in the kitchen. It’s kind of unavoidable especially with Indian food… or so I’ve found thus far.

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So that’s my kitchen, here in our little ground floor flat. Hope you like the soup. I recommend it.

Sweet Potato Masala Parathas

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Mmm, parathas. Delicious breads fried in ghee and stuffed with stuff, be it aloo (potato), gobi (cauliflower), paneer (cheese), palak (spinach)… Or in my case, leftover sweet potato masala (sweet aloo masala?).

First, the masala I used. This is a rather unorthodox method of making parathas but don’t you worry, it’ll be yummy.

Sweet Potato Masala

Adapted from VahChef

Sweet potatoes: I used 4 and they were all varying in size and length. About 500 grams, peeled and cubed.

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 tablespoon garlic/ginger paste

1/2 tablespoon large black mustard seeds

2 tablespoons urad daal

1 small red onion, chopped

1 tablespoon turmeric

1 handful curry leaves

Salt to taste

Boil the sweet potatoes until fork tender. I accidentally overcooked them, making them mushy, which didn’t bode well for this masala on its own. But as parathas… it’s perfect.

Heat oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds. When they sizzle, add the cumin. When that fries, add the urad daal and turmeric. Add the rest of the ingredients and saute until the onion is browned and tender.

Add the sweet potatoes and let it fry for 3 minutes ish, or until the sweet potatoes caramelize a bit.

Serve!

Parathas

I used the techniques used in this recipe from vegrecipesofindia.com

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 tablespoon oil

pinch of salt

water (< 1/2 cup ish)

Dough: Combine 1 cup of whole wheat flour with a pinch of salt and 1 tablespoon of oil, and add enough water until a dough forms. Knead this dough and then let it ferment for 25 minutes under a dishcloth.

After 25 minutes, divide the dough into balls and roll out into small rounds.

Heap a few tablespoons of the sweet potato mixture into the center, and then take the sides of the round and bring them together on top of the stuffing, to make a little twisted dumpling.

Roll this out again, and make a bigger round.

Spread some ghee over the surface of this and, on a hot tawa, fry until it gets golden brown in places. Spread some ghee on the uncooked side and flip and cook the other side. Ta da!

Bear with me. This was my first attempt and it was a lot of fun. I don’t usually do step-by-step photos but the process was pretty cool (and messy).

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So after you make your dough, roll out a thick round about 3-4 inches in diameter. Spoon some of the prepared filling into the center.

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Do THIS! Make a little dumpling out of it. Take the sides and pinch them together.

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Then, you’re supposed to squish this and roll them out again, bigger, without actually tearing them. I didn’t really succeed at the no tearing thing.

But: browned sweet potato innards = YUM.

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This was my best paratha. Soooo good.

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Probably one of my favorite cooking adventures so far. And, a plus, because the sweet potato masala I thought I messed up got a second life as paratha stuffing!

Banana Kheer

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I’ve come full circle to why I started cooking in the first place, which was mainly to use up the bazillion bananas bestowed on us by my grandma who didn’t seem to accurately anticipate just how many bananas a family of four could eat in a week.

I have made so many banana breads in my life, I almost don’t even want to look at one anymore. Almost.

But, I’ve found a new, easy, delicious use for using up ripe bananas.

Enter: Kheer, a sort of pudding-like dessert flavored with jaggery/sugar, dry fruits (aka raisins, etc), nuts (usually kaju, or cashews but also badam(almonds) and pista(pistachios), and a yummy mix of spices. Yet another indian dessert that is malleable to many different versions (like halwa). Usually it’s made with rice; I replaced the rice with banana!

Banana Kheer

Adapted from what I watched my postdoc do:

3 large, overripe bananas, peeled and mashed/chopped

0.5 – 1 L milk (i’ve had success with both)

1-1.5 cubes jaggery (how sweet do you like it?)

1 tablespoon ghee (butter could work)

a handful of cashews, raisins

2 whole cardamom pods

Milk masala mix, which includes cardamom powder, mace, saffron, and nutmeg

Heat the ghee in a pan and toast the cashews/raisins, stirring quickly, until golden brown. Set aside.

Bring milk to a boil (watch that pot!!) and then add bananas; cook and continuously stir until the milk reduces a bit.

Add the jaggery and let it melt. Taste-test.

Continue to stir for a while until the milk reduces a lot and the mixture becomes super thick.

Add the spices (watch out, the milk may curdle. It’ll still taste good).

Finally, stir in the cashews and raisins, with the ghee.

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Enjoy banana kheer for breakfast, dessert, snack, lunch, dinner… if you’re like me and don’t mind having dessert for dinner sometimes.

Update:

Chocolate banana kheer!

Because… how could this not happen?

And it’s so easy!

Basically, towards the end of cooking, add 2-3 heaping tablespoons of cocoa powder.

Use a fork to stir it in so you don’t get cocoa powder everywhere. This also smooths banana clumps.

Let it continue to cook until desired thickness.

Bam. Chocolate kheer.

I didn’t have any, but I’d totally top this with whipped cream.

Now where’s the peanut butter? Because I’m getting more ideas…

Beetroot Halwa

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Tonight I finally used the six beets I purchased a while ago, then sort of forgot about.

I painstakingly peeled them and grated each one manually, making for very pink fingers.

Then, I ran out to the shop next door and bought some fresh Amul milk — 500 mL, in a little plastic pouch (TetraPak).

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Halwa is an Indian dessert that’s often prepared during festivals, like Navratri or Diwali (so I am told by Wikipedia). Indian desserts can be simple or super complicated — luckily, halwa is pretty easy! It’s basically beetroot pudding with cashews (kaju) and golden raisins, flavored with cardamom.

I’ve had lots of halwas in my day now, including carrot halwa, moong daal (a type of lentil/pulse) halwa, and suji ka halwa (semolina flour). This is my first attempt. Feast your eyes.

Beetroot Halwa

Adapted from Veg Recipes of India

3 cups beetroot, peeled and finely grated (about 6 small beets)

500 mL milk

2 tablespoons ghee

1 cube of jaggery (or 4-6 tablespoons of sugar)

1/3 teaspoon cardamom powder

15-20 whole cashews* (maybe extra if you’re prone to nibbling on cashews)

1 tablespoon golden raisins*

Combine the milk and beetroot in a pot and bring to a boil. Stir and boil/simmer until most of the milk is evaporated.

Stir in the sugar and ghee and cook a bit more until the milk is almost completely evaporated.

Add the cashews, cardamom, and raisins and cook until no more milk is left and it is cooked.

Ta da!

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Tender beetroot made into a delicious, and actually rather healthy dessert. This was so good. Going easy on the ghee and sugar (beets are sweet by themselves so not much sugar is necessary) makes for a very tempting dessert/snack.

*Next time, I would toast these in ghee before adding for extra flavor.

My First Indian Cooking Adventure in India, Unsupervised

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Today I’m breaking my food blog hiatus with a little something called Indian Cooking.

After living here for three months (I’ll be here until next summer) and having absolutely NO motivation to cook…

(reasons/excuses why: I live with a South Indian roommate, who loves to cook; food here is very inexpensive [we can get dinner for two for about $3 and be satisfied], the kitchen is different (no oven, different cooking vessels like a tawa, pressure cooker, etc); lack of familiar ingredients (curry leaves? mustard seeds? fenugreek?)

… I have broken the cycle. And no longer will subsist on yogurt (dahi) by the gallon and fruits, or order in, when left to my own devices.

Aside: I went to the veggie man two stores down from us and he was super nice and helped me pick out the fresh veggies, which happened to be okra.

With roomie gone for the day and evening, and doing the best I could to remember her techniques, I made …

Okra Subzi with Chapati

Adapted from Life.

Chapati Ingredients:

Some amount of whole wheat flour (maybe 1.5-2 cups)?

1 teaspoon ghee

pinch or two of salt

1/2 cup of warm water

Subzi Ingredients:

1/4 kg okra (bindhi), chopped into two or three pieces each

1 tomato, chopped in smallish pieces

2 potatoes, chopped in similar sized pieces at the tomato

Optional: 1 green chili, with or without seeds removed, depending on your spice tolerance (I omitted)

1 tablespoon your favorite cooking oil

1 tablespoon unsalted ghee

2 teaspoons mustard seeds

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 handful curry leaves

a few pinches of salt

Directions:

In a bowl, add the flour and mix with the salt and the ghee. Make a little well and add the water, a bit at a time, until you have a workable dough. Knead with your hands. Cover with a cloth and let ferment for 25 minutes or more. Once fermented, make little round balls of dough about 1-1.5 inches in diameter.

Heat oil in a cooking vessel like the one in the pictures, or in a normal pan. Add the potatoes, and allow to cook for a bit and get a little brown and crispy on the edges. Add the okra and cook. Splash some water into the pan to “deglaze”, stir/scrape down, and cover to let everything soften. Add the tomatoes after a bit and mix.

In a separate pan, heat the ghee. Test it out with a small mustard seed; if it sizzles in the pan it’s ready. Add the mustard seeds and immediately take off the heat, allowing to cook a little bit. Add the cumin seeds and curry leaves, stir, let sizzle. Add the turmeric and ground cumin and mix.

Add the above to the okra mixture and combine; continue to let cook until veggies are cooked through.

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For the chapati, roll out each dough ball. I don’t know what I did wrong, I think the dough was a bit too dry. You should try to aim for nice and round chapatis. I however decided to go the entertaining route and make all kinds of shapes!

Heat a tawa over medium heat. Once hot, place the chapati and cook halfway through. If you see bubbles forming, great! You can use a dishtowel to push down on these bubbles to try to get them to spread throughout the bread. Flip it and cook the other side.

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My first chapati ALL BY MA SELF. *beams* DSCN1196

Once cooked, place on a plate and if desired, spread some ghee on it. The ghee helps with flavor and helps it not dry out. Let’s just say I put a substantial amount of ghee on these.

Continue in this manner until all the chapatis are done. Always cover with a dishcloth or with a lid of some sort to prevent drying out.

To serve, spoon some subzi, two or three chapatis, and a dollop of yogurt onto your South Indian-style thali (plate).

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And dig in.

Below are some fun photos of my first time trying the process.

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I got a LOT of bubbles with this one!

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Notice the jar of ghee in the back. It did not go un-used.

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I was so taken and distracted by the bubbles that I burned it. 😦

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Me pointing out my beads of sweat. It’s kinda humid here in good ol’ Mumbai. I can pretend cooking is a workout.

My chapatis were so odd. I decided to nickname them all.

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“Crab claw”

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“Actually Decent/Amoebic”

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“An Old Woman Looking To the Right” (see the big nose?)

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“One of Those Psychology Inkblot Things”

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“Mitten for Double-Thumbed Person”

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“Budding Yeast”

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“Don’t Mess With Deformed Texas”

Sadly, my first chapati attempt came out more like pita chips. Nothing a little ghee can’t fix. But I will hone ma skillz and wow you all in due time. I thoroughly enjoyed my first attempt!

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Also, sorry for the horrid quality on the photos. Internet speed/access is a whole diatribe I won’t get started on right now…

I’ve attempted Indian cooking before, at home in the US, and I definitely don’t know what I’m doing. You can check them out anyway:

Aloo Gobi Mattar, take One and Two

Mediterranean Crostini with Lemon Parmesan Kale

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“Hmm, I think I’ll make tuna salad for dinner.”

– Jenn, Roommate #1.

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So much for that! Being two nutrition-/cooking-oriented people (Roomie #2, also nutrition, went away on vaycay, but missed a pretty fantabulous meal), what started out as a simple tuna salad quickly gave way to something a little more… gourmet.

A little bit of chopping, toasting, and sautéing later… and dinner was a REALLY delicious sourdough crostini, topped with red pepper, tomato, olives, feta, and mushrooms, with a little kale salad on the side.

SO. GOOD. And very filling, a perfect veggiecentric entrée, or if in a smaller amount, a satisfying appy.

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And kinda ridiculously easy.

Mediterranean Crostini with Lemon Parmesan Kale

Serves four normal people or two hungry roommates

Adapted from Eating Well

1 small tomato or 1/2 medium/large tomato
1/2 cup roasted red pepper, sliced into strips
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped black olives
1/4 cup crumbled feta
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1-3 garlic cloves, minced
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil, separated (we used yummy tarragon-flavored EVOO from F. Oliver’s)
10-12 baby bella mushrooms, sliced
4 slices of sourdough bread

Salad:
1/4-1/2 bunch tender summer kale, roughly chopped
1 lemon, juiced
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 tablespoons grated parmesan

Mix the tomatoes, olives, feta, roasted red pepper, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, oregano, and red wine vinegar in a small  bowl. Set aside.

Mix the garlic and 1-2 tablespoons olive oil in a small bowl. Spread some on each slice of sourdough bread. Use the remaining (and a little extra if necessary) to sauté the mushrooms until tender and cooked. Mix the mushrooms into the tomato mixture.

Whisk together the lemon juice, and olive oil, and parmesan. Toss with the kale (use your hands).

Toast each sourdough piece and top with the mushroom/tomato mixture, try to drain out most of the juice/sauce so the bread doesn’t get too soggy. Serve with the kale salad, and you can drizzle the aforementioned juice onto the kale salad for extra flavor.

Pretty freakin’ delectable.

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We were pleasantly surprised at how filling these turned out! This dish was very tangy and flavorful, with just the right amount of saltiness from the cheese, sourness from the vinegar, and bright citrus from the lemon. The sourdough had perfectly crispy crust and soft tender inside for sopping up extra dressing and juice.

The only problem? Oodles of dishes. Good thing we’re all neat freaks over here.