Sindhi Aisi bhaji/sabji (spinach and Ridge gourd)

Todays Delicious recipe is in memory of my dear mother in law, who made this particular version of spinach and turaiya, whenever I had given birth to my children. Supposedly very good for lactating mothers. She made sure I ate this sabji every second day for 40 days after child birth. It had to be turaiya every day, either mixed with spinach or made plain with only cardamom, which we sindhis call as phote bhugun turiyuoon And to be frank I loved eating both these variations. She sometimes served it with plain chappatis and sometimes with mitho lolo( sweet flat bread).The only thing that she omitted was chillies. Aisi, otherwise would mean only spinach cooked plain with out the addition of any other vegetables. But, this version of mummy is really very tasty..😊

The way this sabji is cooked is almost like the famous sindhi saibhaji, but the addition of turaiya gives it super silky texture. We cook it in the pressure cooker and mash it towards the end till everything is one beautiful green smooth sabji. Adding garlic once while cooking and once as a tadka just enhances the taste.

Spinach was not my favourite vegetable when we were growing up, but as an adult it definately has a special place in my list of favourite vegetables. I remember my mother making tikkis out of left over saibhaji, just by adding boiled potatoes after drying out the sai bhaji as much as possible by cooking it further. She always panfried the tikkis which were yummy… A close cousin to the hara bhara tikkis which we relish at Indian restaurants.

Do try this simple recipe and serve with any simple pulav or phulkas.

Ingredients

350 gms peeled and chopped turaiya/ ridge gourd

150 gms chopped spinach

1 big onion finely chopped

2 tomatoes sliced

4 green chillies finely chopped

2 tbsps chopped garlic

1 tbsp chopped ginger

1 tsp corriander powder

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp methi seeds

1/2 tsp hing..asafoetida

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

Salt to taste

3 tbsps oil

Method..

Heat 2 tbsps oil in a pressure cooker and add methi seeds, cumin and hing. Saute till fragrant.

Add chopped onion and saute till golden brown.

Add 1 tbsp of garlic, ginger and green chillies.

Add tomatoes, corriander powder, turmeric, salt

When tomatoes are pulpy, add chopped turaiya and cook till the turaiya start letting out water.

Add the chopped spinach and 1/4 cup of water.

Close the cooker and cook for 3 to 4 whistles.

Open the lid, and churn with a wooden hand churner( mandiro) or an electric whisk.

Lastly heat 1 tbsp oil in a small pan, add 1 tbsp chopped garlic and fry till pale golden. Add this tadka to the sabji…mix well and serve.

The complete Sindhi meal with Basar jo pulav, ( onion pulav) sookha aloo( potatoes with dry spices) Boondi raita, some fryums and onion carrot achar.

Dakshin paneer do pyaaza

Regional flavours of India are truely amazing. The same type of dish will taste differently in every state of India. The secret lies in the spices of course. Each state and sometimes even cities have some favourite spice which is dominant in most dishes. Todays recipe is the do pyaaza. Almost every indian is familiar with this dish where onion is used in 2 forms, a ground paste of onions as well as sliced onions. In todays recipe, I have used whole shallots ( also called sambhar onions) as well as sliced onions. The Dakshin or southern twist is in the simple masala made dominantly with udad dal also known as black lentils. Udad dal rules southern India where its use in almost all idli and dosa preparation is extensive. Using Paneer in this dish gives it a north Indian twist.

Growing up in Pune, my knowledge of south Indian food was limited to dosa, idli and medu wada. Going to Priya restaurant for these treats was often, and something to look forward to. The fragrance of food as you entered this small and cozy restaurant on main street was mouth watering . Of course, the waiters would always direct us to go upstairs where it was for families and ladies only.

My interest in cooking led me to try out different dishes from all over India, leaving a medly of recipes in my cookbook. Spices in the south use udad dal which is roasted slowly and powdered with red chillies and asafoetida, peppercorns etc. Aside from the mainstays,South India also has a huge variety of delicious vegetatarian and non vegetarian food.

Todays recipe is based on chettinad style of cooking. Please do try this simple dish and serve with chappaties or adai rotis made with rice flour.

Ingredients

200 gms paneer cut into cubes

15 shallots

1 sliced onion

2 sprigs of curry leaves

1 tbsp tamarind paste

1 tsp mustard seeds

1/4 th tsp hing/ asafoetida

2 or 3 dry red chillies

15 black peppercorns

1 tbsp split udad dal

Corriander leaves to garnish

Method

1. Dry roast together, udad dal, black peppercorns and dry red chillies. When the dal turns a light golden brown, shut the flame and keep aside to cool. Grind into a fine powder and keep aside.

2. Heat 1 tbsp of coconut oil, add mustard seeds , hing and curry leaves.

3. Now add whole shallots and stir fry on a low flame till the out skin of the shallots starts turning soft and light golden…about 4 to 5 mins.

4. Add the paneer and stir fry further for 5 mins and add sliced onions. Also add the tamarind paste.

5. Add salt to taste and powdered spice mixture. Mix well.

6. Cook further for few mins and add chopped corriander leaves.

Serve hot.

Vegetarian fish seyal

When I say vegetarian fish, its the way this unique dish is presented. Making use of cabbage leaves to make rolls filled with a besan(chick pea flour) paste, and then deep fried , causing the cabbage to look like the skin of a fish.

Many years ago, I found this recipe in THE VEGETARIAN COOK BOOK BY SADHU VASWANI CENTER. Over the years I have made this dish frequently and with good results. It does require a little extra time, but the results are worth it.😊

Besan ki sabji is made in many different ways, the Rajhasthani people call it gaathe ki sabji, where in besan is mixed with spices, oil and water to form a dough, which is then made into small balls or cylindrical logs. These balls are then boiled in water , to be cooked and then added to delicious gravies.

We sindhis also make a delicious besan sabji, called besan ji ani. But the shape given to the dough is normally like small tikkis. These tikkis or anis are either steamed or fried, and added to different gravies.And the gravy to go with this is normally a seyal onion tomato one. Seyal gravy normally lets the onions turn just a light golden instead of brown. Its one of the basic gravies sindhis use.

The recipe I will share with you today uses besan and cabbage leaves. Do try this delicious sabji with hot phulkas…

Ingredients for the rolls

5 cabbage leaves, thick vein removed.

1 cup besan( chickpea flour)

2 tbsps chopped onion

1 tsp whole corriander seeds

1 tsp red chilli powder

1 tsp salt

1 tsp red chillie powder

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tbsps chopped corriander leaves

1/4th to 1/3 rd cup water

Thread to tie the rolls..

Method

Soften the cabbage leaves by putting them in boiling water for a minute. Remove and pat dry.

Mix the besan, cumin seeds, red chilli powder, salt, corriander seeds and onions along with the water to make a thick paste.

Take a cabbage leaf, apply the besan paste, roll up the leaf and tie with a thread to keep it secured.

Deep fry the cabbage rolls, discard the thread and keep aside.

The cabbage after being fried looks like the skin of fish…hence the name.

Ingredients for the seyal gravy

2 finely chopped onions

3 tomatoes pureed

1 tbsp chopped garlic

1 tbsps chopped ginger

1/2 cup yogurt

1 tsp turmeric powder

2 tsps red chilli powder

1 tsp garam masala

1 tsp salt

1 tsp shah jeera…caraway seeds

1/2 tsp ajwain

Heat 2 tbsps oil in a pan, add onions and salt .

When onions turn a pale golden brown, add cumin seeds and ajwain, and ginger, garlic.

Saute well, add red chilli powder, turmeric and garam masala.

Now add pureed tomatoes and let cook for a while, when oil seperates, add beaten curd and chopped corriander leaves.

After 5 mins, add the fried cabbage rolls.

Cover and cook for 5 mins.

Serve hot with phulkas.

Roti jala/ lacy crepes with chicken curry

Roti jala or lacy crepes as they are called have Malaysian origins, normally served with a curry, these crepes are relished at weddings, gatherings and are even sold as a street food. These pretty looking crepes are usually made from a batter of flour, eggs and coconut milk. The batter is drizzled over a hot pan in a pretty lace like pattern. The crepes cook very fast, in under a minute.

Having lived in south east asia for the last 34 years, my cooking has definetely imbibed the asean flavours. I love to mix and match flavours often resulting in fusion cusine. Take for instance curry powder, available all over the world, but my favourite one comes from malaysia. Well all said and done, my family relishes my food and does not complain, so it encourages me to experiment more.

Today the recipe I will share with you is an eggless version of roti jala with an addition of rice flour, I found this gives a better texture to the crepe as well as making it crispier.

I will also share a recipe for chicken curry, which is a fusion curry, using indian spices as well as malaysian curry powder. This type of cooking gives the curry a familiar taste for indian palete. The use of coconut milk and whole spices like corriander seeds, cumin seeds and cinnamon is common to south Indian and south east asian cooking, especially malaysia, singapore and Indonesia.

Do try this meal at home. Easy to make and even prettier to look at.

Roti jala/ lacy crepes

Ingredients

75 gms flour

25 gms rice flour

1/ 2 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp salt

100 ml coconut milk( I used the ready to use tetra pack)

150 ml water

Coconut oil to brush the pan

Method

Mix all the dry ingredients together, and slowly add water and coconut milk to make a smooth batter. Let the batter rest for 15 mins.

Strain the batter into the jala mould.

Now heat a nonstick pan with oil abd slowly drizzle a little of the batter onto it , forming a pretty lacy pattern.

Now let it cook for a minute, do not flip it over, fold it inwards from 2 sides

Next, roll it neatly and remove onto a serving platter

Proceed to make the remaining crepes, you dont need to keep brushing the pan. The yield from this recipe should be 10 to 12 roti jalas.

Chicken curry/ vegetable /paneer/tofu curry

Ingredients

400 gms boneless chicken thigh cubed or boiled mix vegetables/ tofu/paneer

1 big onion ..finely chopped

1 big tomato…thinly sliced

1 tbsp garlic..finely chopped

1 tbsp grated ginger

2 tbsps curry powder( I use malaysian baba brand )

1 tsp fennel seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

6 cloves..pierced into a shallot( for easy removal)

1 stick cinnamon

1 tbsp red chilli powder

Salt to taste.

100 ml coconut milk

2 tbsps coconut oil

Method

Heat oil in a pan, and add fennel, cumin seeds, cinnamon and cloves. Saute till fragrant, now add ginger, garlic and chopped onions.

When the onions become limp abd light golden, add the tomatoes, curry powder, red chili powder and salt..mix well

At this point add chicken, cover and cook till tender.

Vegetarians can add boiled vegetables, tofu or paneer.

Next, add half a cup of water and the coconut milk, simmer upto 10 mins. Garnish with fried onions and corriander leaves.

To serve, take crepe and pour some curry on the top.

Enjoy.

# roti jala moulds are available online in most countries

Try amazon or tokopedia.

Homemade Coconut Oil

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Coconut oil to  me means memories of childhood. Most of us remember our mothers oiling our hair with coconut oil and then plaiting the hair with pretty ribbons.  My mother would sit me down after my head wash on sundays and massage my hair with coconut oil and comb it neatly into 2 plaits. Head massage was a weekly routine which was never missed, I suppose I owe my lovely thick hair partly to coconut oil massages and partly to genetics..lol.

Coconut oil plays an important role in south Indian cooking as well, this aromatic oil emparts a lovely fragrance and taste to food. I use homemade coconut oil in making all our dosas , utappas etc. Besides being healthy, making it at home ensures it being pure. Yes it does take a while to be made, but the end results are  a marvelous golden pure oil.

Today, the recipe I will share with you is pure coconut oil, the way we make it home. This
method separates the water and the cream, enabling us to save cooking time. I love using
this fragrant oil for cooking my indian food , especially south indian food. Do try it.
COCONUT OIL
1.. Grate 5 big coconuts
2… Add about 4 cups of water and Blend in a mixer.
3…. Strain thru a strainer lined with muslin cloth, twist the cloth to squeeze out all the milk.
4…Add 1 more cup of water to the grated coconut, blend and squeeze out the coconut milk
5…Now transfer all the coconut milk to a pot.
6…Refrigerate overnite, atleast 12 to 18 hours.
7..The cream of coconut will have seperated from the water, forming a thick layer, which you can cut with a knife.
8…Discard the water, put the cream into a wok, cook on medium heat for about 45 mins to an hour.Stirring in between.
9..The oil will seperate and a crunchy brown residue will be left behind.
10…Strain the pure oil.
5 coconuts will normally yield around 500 ml of coconut oil.
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SINDHI TALEBADI (KEEME JO LOLO) USING SOYA GRANULES

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Many families in different parts of the world will surely have a meatloaf, or lolo as we sindhis call it on their menu. Of course the recipes will vary from the bland to the spicy or from rich to simple. Meat loaf is something which innovative housewives created using leftover cooked mince of beef, mutton or chicken. This dish has been popular in the sindhi community , and every sindhi homemaker will surely serve it on special occasions. Cooked mince and beaten eggs along with pasta come together to form a sindhi keeme jo lolo, which is normally steamed. Todays recipe is made with soya granules and eggs.

Growing up In a sindhi household , this lolo or talebadi was made when special guests were coming for dinner. Mummy would make at least 2 thalis (a steel platter with a raised rim).. The mutton keema(minced meat) was cooked lovingly till dry with aromatic spicies and cooled. Beaten eggs and cooked pasta ( makaroni) were mixed into the keema , and pored into the greased thalis. Generous amount of tomato ketchup was applied on the top and then the thalis were put into hot steamers.. The aroma of this delicious lolo wafted into the kitchen and we as children waited for the lolo to be cooked and served. It was cut into square pieces when cool and wiped clean in minutes..:). This lolo is also protein packed, easy to cook and can be served with a salad on the side to make a complete meal

Today when I make this at home, I prefer using vegetarian soya granules/ nutri/ protina. This is my husbands favourite. Do try this recipe which is perfect for vegetarians who eat eggs.

Ingredients

1 small cup of soya granules boiled in water for 10 mins, drain and squeeze out excess water.

3 tbsps oil

2 big onions finely chopped

2 tomatoes pureed

2 tsp ginger garlic paste

1 tsp shah jeeri (caraway seeds)

1 tsp red chilli powder

1 tsp garam masala

1 tsp corriander powder

salt to taste

1 cup boiled pasta..( I use elbow macaroni)

3 eggs lightly beaten

few tbsps of tomato sauce

grated cheese for garnish

chopped corriander for garnish as well as cooking

method..

Heat a pan and add 1 tbsp of oil, to this add the boiled soya granules and saute till the granules become a little crispy. Remove and keep aside in a bowl.

In the same pan add 2 tbsps of oil and add onions,saute till limp and translucent. At this point add 1 tsp salt to the onions to hasten the browning process, cook till onions turn a golden brown.

Add caraway seeds ( shah jeeri) and ginger garlic paste.

Now add tomato puree , red chilli powder, corriander powder and garam masala.

Cook till the whole mixture comes together and oil seperates

Add soya granules and roast for a good 15 mins until fragrant.

Add 1/2 cup water and cover and cook till done.

Let the mixture be dry.. we don’t want a watery mixture.

Shut the fire and cool completely,

Mix the boiled macaroni into the cooked keema

Fold in 3 beaten eggs and chopped corriander leaves.

Pour into a greased springform pan..and dot with tomato ketchup

Garnish with grated cheese and corriander leaves

Steam in a hot steamer for 30 mins or untill set

Cool, cut into squares or wedges and serve at room temperature.

SINDHI LASAGNA (MANI SEYAL CAKE)

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As the name suggests , todays recipe is of the quintessential breakfast of  sindhi homes.  Down the ages, some innovative home maker thought of using left over rotis in a practical form and came up with this delicious dish. Almost all sindhi homes serve this dish, but in many forms. Seyal maani( chappati) or Seyal dabroti using bread has many different recipes. Green masala paste or an onion based gravy is cooked and either bread or rotis are added to the simmering gravy and allowed to soak up the masala gravy. The normal procedure would be to tear up the chappatis into pieces and add to boiling gravy and cooked till the liquid evaporates , which would be within a few minutes. But, my mother in law made this dish in a unique way and that was stacking the chappatis or bread with the thick gravy between layers and building it up into a layered cake. A little extra effort and a pretty looking dish was ready to be served. Resembling an Italian lasagna but made with fewer ingredients.

Growing up, mummy made this dish once a week for breakfast, mostly on saturdays and was savoured by my grandparents, the plus point being its soft texture which was easy for them to consume. The leftover green paste was stored and very often my mom applied it on a chappati, folded it into a half circle and roasted it on a hot tawa with a little oil till crisp.. a delicious side dish ready in minutes.

Do try out this recipe and enjoy a sindhi dish which does not take long to cook and with all the ingredients easily available in our homes.

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SINDHI LASAGNA OR SEYAL MAANI ( CHAPPATI)

INGREDIENTS

8 LEFTOVER CHAPPATIS

1 CUP CHOPPED CORRIANDER LEAVES

4 CLOVES GARLIC

6 GREEN CHILLIES

2 TOMATOES .. BLEND INTO A PULP

2 TBSPS FINELY CHOPPED GARLIC

1 TBSP LIME JUICE

1 TSP SUGAR

2 TSPS CORRIANDER POWDER

2 TSPS CUMIN SEEDS

1 TSP TURMERIC POWDER

SALT TO TASTE

METHOD

1.. BLEND THE CORRIANDER LEAVES , 4 CLOVES GARLIC AND 6 GREEN CHILLIS INTO A FINE PASTE WITH A LITTLE WATER AND KEEP ASIDE.

2.. HEAT 2 TBSPS OIL AND ADD THE CUMIN SEEDS, NEXT ADD CHOPPED GARLIC AND SAUTE TILL FRAGRANT, NOW ADD THE CORRIANDER POWDER AND TURMERIC POWDER, ALONG WITHE TOMATO PULP AND SALT. COOK FOR A FEW MINUTES. FINALLY ADD THE GREEN PASTE AND COOK FOR JUST 2 MINUTES, ADD LIME JUICE AND SUGAR, MIX WELL AND REMOVE INTO A BOWL.

3.. NOW TAKE A WIDE BOWL AND ADD 1 TBSP OF THE COOKED GREEN MASALA AND ADD HALF CUP OF WATER TO IT.. THIS MIXTURE IS FOR DIPPING THE CHAPPATIS, TO MOISTEN THEM.

4..HEAT ONE TBSP OF OIL IN A PAN, AND ADD 1 TBSP OF THE COOKED MASALA TO IT.

5.. GENTLY DIP ONE CHAPPATI IN THE GREEN WATER MIXTURE, AND PUT IT IMMEDIATELY INTO THE FRYING PAN, APPLY SOME GREEN MASALA ONTO IT AND REPEAT WITH ANOTHER CHAPPATI..MAKE LAYERS WITH MOISTENED CHAPPATIS AND GREEN MASALA , FINISHING WITH GREEN MASALA ON TOP LAYER, ALL THIS SHOULD BE DONE ON LOW HEAT.

6.. COVER AND COOK FOR 5 MINS.

7..SLIDE THE STACK OF CHAPPATIS GENTLY ONTO A SERVING PLATE WITH A FLAT SPATULA AND GARNISH WITH GRATED CHEESE OR CHOPPED CORRIANDER. CUT INTO WEDGES AND SERVE .