October 31, 2010

Dahi Vada (Perugu Garelu)

There are some dishes which just swirl me back to the memory lane and remind me of all-the-good-old-care-free days, when every minute of my life was magic, when I was endlessly being pampered by my mother & her yummy treats. then, at that point of time, I was too young to realize how precious those days were. ...now, when I am a married woman and have a responsibility to take care of the family, I just wish atleast for a day there was a a time-machine which would transport me back in time, to those lovely days.

In short, my mother's cooking fascinated me the most. Every Sunday, we used to eagerly wait for the Sunday issue of our favorite newpaper (it still is), especially for the dishes featured in the Ruchi Abhiruchi section. My mother had cooked countless number of recipes from there (because, we seriously didn't know about formal cookbooks in 1990's.). This was basically our Sunday ritual, for many many years. My mother never transferred any of the culinary duties to me or my sister, which means all we had to do was devour over all her dishes. But, once I moved to US, the first and foremost thing I missed was - those moments I spent with my family, which I understood will never ever come back. That is when, I took the matter in my own hands,  started to cook by myself , taking careful instructions from my mom in the beginning and later venturing out on my own - from starting this blog to try to get inspired and cook new dishes in the limited amount of time I have in hand.

....taking you on to the memory lane, today I share the recipe of Dahi Vada a.k.a Perugu Garelu (in Telugu). Make this dish to your loved ones for coming Diwali or as a lazy weekend brunch. Trust me, you all will love it. :)

Dahi Vada [Perugu Garelu] (Lentil Fritters in Yogurt Sauce)

'Dahi' in Hindi means yogurt and 'Vada' is a fried lentil fritter. Just imagine what would happen if some creamy, delicious, fluffy lentil fritters are dunked in a unbelievably simple (not more than 30-45 seconds to put together) yet yummy yogurt sauce - pure heaven. This dish is made in almost every Indian household and is eaten as a guilt-free brunch/snack item, anytime of the day & especially during major Indian festivals. 

Recipe Source: the world's best cook, my mom.


For Fritters (Vada) -

1 cup urad dal (skinned split black lentils, cream colored)
2-3 green chillies
salt - to taste
canola oil - for frying
hot water, in a medium-sized bowl

For Yogurt sauce (Dahi) -

1 cup yogurt
1 teaspoon grated ginger
salt - to taste
2 teaspoon cumin-coriander powder (or chaat masala, for that extra tang)
1 teaspoon red chilli powder (add more, as per taste)
fresh coriander/cilantro - for garnish


Step 1: Wash urad dal thoroughly 3-4 times, until the water remains relatively clear. Fill the bowl halfway (preferably) with warm water and soak overnight. (or if you are running short on time, atleast for 4 hours)

Step 2: Drain the lentils, put them in a blender with about 3/4 cup of water and chillies. Grind until its smooth paste-like batter. Season with little salt. (Remember, there will be salt in the yogurt sauce too, so add just a little or else the overall dish will be too salty).

Step 3: Whisk the ingredients listed under 'yogurt sauce' in a medium-size bowl. Place it in the refrigerator, until the fritters are ready.

Step 4: Pour oil in a wok or medium-size saucepan. Heat over medium-heat. A good test whether the oil is heat enough is to drop a pearl-like batter into the oil. If it puffs up to the surface, then it is ready.

Step 5: Fill a medium-size bowl with hot water and place it just beside the stove-top. Now, carefully add 1 spoonful of batter into the hot oil, without over-crowding. After a minute or two, turn the fritter onto the other side, fry until golden brown and immediately drop into the hot water. Repeat this process for all the fritters. Note: Donot leave the fritters in the water for more than 3-4 minutes. The water-soaking will remove all the excess fat, making this dish almost guilt-free.

Step 6: Lightly press each vada, between your palms, squeeze out the water. Make sure not to press too hard. Drop them into the yogurt sauce, dunking and coating evenly.

 Step 7: Sprinkle some extra chaat masala or cumin-coriander powder over the top. Garnish with cilantro leaves. Serve chilled.

Hope you all have a fabulous week ahead.

until next time,

October 24, 2010

YRTML: Punjabi Chole

Flowers in the farmer's market, today

Looking at any beautiful flower reminds me of Rabindranath Tagore's poem - 'Flower'.

Pluck this little flower and take it, delay not! I fear lest it droop and drop into the dust.

I may not find a place in thy garland, but honour it with a touch of pain from thy hand and pluck it.
I fear lest the day end before I am aware, and the time of offering go by.

Though its colour be not deep and its smell be faint, use this flower in thy service and pluck it while there is time.

I am not sure whats the inner meaning of this poem and for me, it just tells - Time is ticking away, enjoy the life, the most in this moment, while there is time. Not Past, Not Future, but live in Present. :)

So,as I had some free time on hand this weekend, I thought why not make Anita's ever-famous, ever-controversial - Punjabi Chole, which requires to ground one's own masala. Let me tell you one thing about the bhunao masala - it is lovely, fragrant and adds a nice color & authenticity to the dish. Take my advice, grind a bit more than required. I added a tbsp of it to eggplant and S just loved it. I am sure it will go well with almost any vegetable like potato, okra etc.

Click here for the recipe and Serve with some rice or roti.


Hope you all have a wonderful week ahead.


October 11, 2010

[Farmer's Market Series # 1] Mountain View, California and Mutter Paneer Tava fry Recipe

Fall is here and so are the bounty full of beautiful fruits and vegetables in the markets. No, I am not talking about the Super markets like this & this where water is sprinkled all-day-long to give a fake-fresh-look to the fruits & vegetables. Yes, I am talking about our age old 'Farmer's Market' where we get to see & meet the *real people* who have grown the produce. It has been almost 2 weeks that we moved to Mountain View & it was time for us to check out its popular Farmer's Market, which is open only from 9am to 1pm, every Sunday.

Make sure you have lots of cash & a recyclable (optional, just make you feel more greener) bag to fill up the produce before you hit the market. You get almost everything here - from the freshly baked bread to juiciest & sweetest asian pears to squeezed pomegranate juice, in its purest form (with no added sugar).

All those who are enthusiastic about gardening can pick up fresh herbs for a very reasonable price to grow in your balconies or backyards and if you wish to know tips & tricks about how to grow them, all you need to do ask the guy there. He will be more than happy to share all his trade secrets with a huge smile on his face. :)

Hitting early to the market is a good idea as then you can have the best ones to choose from. Also, almost every stall has free samples of their produce, so don't have your breakfast. *wink*. Trust me, by the time you reach the last stall, you will burp with contentment.

Fresh basil and an my invisible foodie-mate, standing right beside me was screaming for some home-made pesto.!

a variety of peppers, almost in every color. Beautiful.

These sun-dried apricots were absolutely delish.

As we were running low on cash this time, we didn't shop around much at Farmer's market. Next week, we are determined to get lots of stuff. I will take some pictures then and share with you all. 

Inspired by her raw vegan challenge, WE have decided to eat raw food at least once a day, from next week onwards to kind to detoxify our bodies. A challenge we have never done before. So, wish us all the very best and I will keep you posted about our progress. :)

Today's dish (not a recipe per say) as simple as it can get. I had some fresh peas to be finished off and a half a cube of paneer & no tomatoes. (this was before I hit the market). I have never had a Mutter Paneer without tomatoes, meaning I always had with a gravy-like consistency. Out of the whim, I served this with some rotis and raita on the side. It was absolutely delish. Its kinda a funny how things just fall into place when cooking up a recipe, Isn't it. :)

Mutter Paneer Tava fry

In a pan, heat some oil and add chopped onions. Saute until translucent and then drop paneer cubes & peas together. Cook for 5-6 minutes. Season with salt, red chilli powder and some garam masala. Garnish with cilantro and squeeze some lemon juice at the very end. Serve.

October 5, 2010

Wheat Free Chocolate Chip cookies with a note of gratitude

Did you ever see a car sticker that says - "If you can read this, thank your teacher" ? and whenever I do, I, with the bottom of my heart thank everybody who helped be the way I am today. - Good or Bad, everybody had a contribution  to make to my life & I had a lot to learn. That's how the life goes. like a train journey where you are traveling with so many others - some stay with you forever & some are remembered for their annoyance. There are lot many people from - my family to S to my friends to my teachers to my roommates to whom I will be eternally thankful for letting be myself & embracing me with my flaws & still love me. 

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