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.

Pahadi aloo sabji

Todays recipe is based on potatoes which are cooked in the hilly regions of north india. I came across this recipe years ago and since then its been marked as a favourite in my diary. Simple to cook and made in a jiffy. Best eaten with a soft phulka, the aromatic flavours of saunf( fennel seeds) just hit your palatte in a burst of tasty goodness. I have used baby potatoes in this dish as I find they hold their shape well after steaming or boiling.

Potatoes in any form are a favourite all over the world and adapt so well to any cuisine. Be it the american hash browns, french fries , mashed potatoes.. or the swiss pototo rosetti..or our own Indian cuisine. From the delicious aloo ka parantha in the north to poshto aloo made with poppy seeds in the east to pao wada in the west upto the aloo sabzi stuffed in crispy dosas in the south.

Memories of the humble potato ruling my mothers kitchen still linger. Sundays normally meant having fried potato tikkis in the evenings for snacks while door darshan played some old bollywood movies on our black and white tv sets. Of course the tikkis were served with slices of white bread and fresh mint chutney. And most often than not this snack was filling enough not to have anything more for dinner. Only to wait eagerly for the jelly and custard which was a favourite dessert at home. Left over uncooked tikkis were sometimes made into aloo toasters. Sandwiched between two slices of bread buttered on the outside to be toasted manually on the gas stove in a quaint sandwich toaster. This served with tomato ketchup was good to go for breakfast. No one was fussy about carbohyderates or calories..life was fun and happy go lucky…simple pleasures of life were the norm….oh those good old days….

Do try this recipe, team it up with sindhi dal makhni or any of your favourite dal.

Ingredients

Pahadi aloo sabji

250 gms baby potatoes boiled, peeled and halved.

( or normal boiled potatoes, peeled and cubed)

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp saunf ( fennel seeds)

1 tsp red chilli powder

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

2 tsps freshly ground saunf powder

2 or 3 dry red chillies broken

1 tbsp chopped ginger

1 tbsp chopped garlic

1 sliced onion

2 tbsp thick tamarind paste

2 tbsp honey

Salt to taste

Chopped corriander leaves

2 tbsps mustard oil

Method

Heat oil in a pan, and add cumin seeds and saunf.

Saute till fragrant.

Add ginger, garlic, dry red chillies and sliced onion

Now add the potatoes and salt

Saute for few mins

Add saunf powder, red chilli powder and turmeric powder

Finally add tamarind paste and honey

Mix well…and serve hot , garnished with chopped corriander leaves and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.

The cold sandwich cake

The cold sandwich cake

When sandwiches are mentioned everyone has thier own favourites. Sandwiches eaten during our school days in the Seventies , were very basic, as every Indian school going child will remember. Mostly white bread with butter and jam, or if you were lucky cheese and butter.Cheese was a luxury which not everyone had, especially in India. If you were lucky and had relatives staying abroad, then you would recieve small tins of kraft cheese😊. Of course Amul cheese cubes were already around, but were a little out of reach for an average middle class family. Back to sandwiches, my grandfather always had a slice of bread with green corriander and mint chutney as his evening snack. Those were the days when chutney was made using a grinding stone. The aroma of fresh mint and corriander leaves being crushed with green chillies and garlic is till today etched in my memory..

Whoever has lived in Pune, even for a short time will surely know about the Marzorin sandwiches. Soft crustless bread, filled with chicken, eggs, tomato and chutney… I crave these sandwiches even today…and they are a must on all my visits to Pune.

Todays recipe is a mixture of all my childhood memories..

Credit for the chicken pate filling goes to my friend hilda mascarenhas, who writes a wonderful food blog, hildastouchofspice.com. Do visit her food blog .

The cold sandwich cake

Basically you will require 3 types of fillings, and 16 slices of crustless bread

Ingredients..for chicken pate.

1 chicken breast

3 to 4 tbsps mayonaise

1 tbsps mustard paste

1 tsp honey

2 tbsps grated cucumber( helps to keep the filling moist)

Salt, pepper.

1 tbsp chopped celery leaves.

Method…

Boil the chicken in water which has been seasoned with salt and pepper.

Dispose the chicken bones, and put the meat in a food processor along with chopped celery..Pulse it and transfer the shredded chicken to a bowl, and add mayonaise, mustard, honey and cucumber. You should have a moist mixture. Keep aside.

Ingredients for second layer

4 Boiled eggs, sliced.

Sliced tomatoes

Sliced cucumber

Butter

Ingredients for 3rd layer

1/ 4 th cup mayonaise

1/ 2 cup basil leaves

2 green chillies

2 cloves of garlic

Juice of one lime

Salt

4 slices of cheese.

Method…

Blend basil leaves, chillies, garlic, lime and mayonaise together to get a pretty green spread, season with salt and a pinch of sugar.

Other ingredients are, finely sliced radishes, shredded carrot, shredded lettuce leaves, alfalfa sprouts and mayonaise.

Method

Keep 4 slices of bread on a serving platter, in a neat square.

Apply butter thinly, and add the chicken pate, level till all the 4 slices of bread are covered.

Cover with 4 slices of bread, and apply butter lightly, top with sliced tomatoes sliced eggs, and sliced cucumber…season with salt and pepper.

Cover with 4 slices of bread, apply the basil mayonaise and top with 4 slices of cheese in a single layer..

Lastly, top with 4 slices of bread, whose underside is spread with basil mayonaise.

Press down gently, and apply mayonaise all over the sandwich, covering it from all sides.

Gently press shredded lettuce, carrots all over sides and top…decorate with radish slices, cucumber slices, and alfalfa sprouts.

Chill thoroughly, cut into wedges and serve

A beautiful centerpiece is ready for your parties..

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.

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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