Vegetarian Concoctions

October 29, 2006

Gol Gappa

Filed under: Chaat, Indian, North Indian, Snacks and Appetizers — Hema @ 2:23 pm

Gol gappa if you are in Delhi or Pani poori elsewhere. That’s what it was (previous post). Nothing to do with the diwali treats as many of you guessed. I was trying to make my own pooris. At first, I decided to call amma, who BTW makes amazing pani pooris,  but it was 3 a.m in India and it has been ages since I called amma at that hour (yes, have done this numerous times during my school days). Did’nt want to scare her this time. I found all these recipes online, but was not sure which one would work best. So, I just decided to try all of them and made dough enough for 3-4 pooris for each recipe. Having tried all these recipes, the winner was…..actually none. Most of them did not puff up. If they did, they did’nt stay crisp. I was disappointed and finally had to call 911(U-Know-who). This is what was instructed to me:

Soak 1 cup sooji in water just enough to wet all the grains well. Let it soak up for 10 minutes. Once the grains turn soft, knead the sooji well by rubbing the dough to the vessel with your palm. It turns to a creamy while color. Add 1 cup maida, 2 tbsp atta and 1 tbsp rice pwd and salt. Add enough water to make a stiff dough. Roll into small round bite-sized pooris and deep fry them in medium – low heat for about 7-8 minutes, 3-4 minutes on each side. If none of the poories in the 1st batch puff up, add little more water to the dough and soften it up. Most of my poories puffed up and stayed crisp. Needless to say – I was elated!



Mint leaves – 2 bunches

Cilantro – 1/2 bunch

Green chillies – about 6 (reduce the amount if needed. I like it spicccccy)

Dry ginger powder – 1 tsp

Black pepper powder – 1 tsp

Hing – A pinch

Salt – 1 tsp

Black salt to taste

Cold Water – 4-5 cups

lime juice – 2 tbsp

Grind the leaves and chillis in a blender with water. Strain out and add the dry ingredients. Add about 5 cups of water, salt it up with kala namak / black salt and add lime juice. Taste it and add water or salt as required. Intead of the dry ingredients, you could also add a couple spoons of pani poori masala. Pani should be served cold. Refrigerate before-hand or add ice for immediate use.

Khatta meetha chutney: There are two ways of making this:

Method 1:

Tamarind- 1/4 cup

Jaggery – 1/2 cup

Chilli pwd – 2 tsp (again, reduce heat if you cant take spice)

salt – 1 tsp

black salt – 1 tsp

jeera pwd – 2 tsp

Boil Tamarind and Jaggery in water till the raw smell goes. Add the dry spices and strain it. I like the chutney a little thick. Add more salt or water if needed. I like to make extra chutney and store it in an empty ketchup bottle for later use. This goes well with samosas, puffs, bread rolls, cutlets etc.

Method 2: This is healthier and tastes just as good

Dates – 1/2 cup

Tamarind – 1/2 lime sized ball

Aamchur pwd – 2 tbsp

Chilli pwd – 2 tsp

salt – 1 tsp

black salt – 1 tsp

jeera pwd – 2 tsp

Boil the Dates and tamarind. Add the dry ingredients and strain.

Potato-chickpea filling:

Potatoes – 2

Chickpea soaked and boiled in salted water – 1/4 cup

Cut potatoes to small pieces and boil in salted water till done.  Drain and mix it with the chick-pea. Add salt and chilli pwd to taste.

To assemble: Break the thinner side of the poori with your thumb. Fill 3-4 pieces of the potato mixture. Pour a little khatta-meetha chutney. Dip it into the pani and fill it up to the brim. Put it into your mouth as it is without biting. Enjoy!

So? what is the curd is doing in the photograph? It is an answer to another question. What do we do with the poories that did not puff up? First, we start by changing their name to papdi and then make a quick papdi chat. Dip 5-6 papdis into the pani and arrange it on a plate. On each papdi place some of the potatoes. then pour some salted, churned curd. Drizzle the khatta-meetha chutney on top. Garnish with little chilli pwd, jeera pwd and chopped cilantro (Sorry, no photographs here).


October 27, 2006

Guessing game…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Hema @ 12:25 pm

Any guesses on what this is all about?


Yeah yeah…..I know I have a bad hand-writing.

October 26, 2006

Diwali treats Part II


Mixture: This was the most time consuming. It has 7 parts to it: oomapodi, boondi, maida biscuits, aval, curry leaves, peanuts and seasoning

1. Oomapodi
besan 1 cup
salt to taste
oomam (ajwain) – 1 1/2 tsp
turmeric – 1 pinch
oil for frying
Mix all the ingredients to make a soft dough. Transfer it to the achchhu and fry in batches

2. Boondi:
Besan – 1 cup
salt to taste
chilli pwd – 2 tsp
turmeric – a  pinch
hing – a pinch
Soda-bi-carb – a pinch
Make a batter using water with the above ingredients. You can use a boondi karandi (a big flat ladel with holes) or a plate/colander if you dont have one. th eholes should be about 2-3 mm in diameter. Hold it over the hot oil and pour a spoonful of batter on it. Now spread the batter on the karandi as if making a dosa and the drops that fall down should fry up into nice round boondis. For checking the consistancy, test fry with little batter first. If the boondis turn out pear shaped, then more water needs to be added and if they are too big and stuck together, you may need to add more besan. Trial and error is the way to go

3. Maida biscuit:
I am not sure if it has any other name, but that’s what we call this at our place. This is the best part of mixture in my opinion
Maida – 1 cup
rice pwd – 2 tbsp
salt – to taste
Oil for frying
Make a soft dough with the roti dough consistency and roll it out to the thickness of a thin roti. You do not have to be precise about the shape here. Use a knife or a pizza cutter and cut out diamond shapes. Deep fry the biscuits and make sure they are crisp before removing them from the oil
Deep fry (4) 2 cups of Poha, (5)1/2 cup of curry leaves and (6) 1 cup peanuts. Crumble the oomapodi and add together items 1 through 6.  Heat up 1 tbsp oil. Mix salt, chilli pwd and hing on a plate and pour the hot oil over it. Now, add this to the mixture and season it uniformly.
Thattai: I was not around whan MIL made these, but got the recipe from her.

Rice pwd – 1 cup
Udad pwd – 1 tbsp
Chilli pwd – 2 tsp
Til – 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Butter – ¼ cup
Mix the Rice and Udad pwd. Add softened butter and mix it well with you hands till you get a crumbly mix. Add the chilli pwd, til and salt and make a soft dough with water. Heat up the oil for frying and make small flat discs with the dough. The best way to do it is to use a thick plastic sheet or cloth. Deep fry in batches of 5-6 and store in an airtight container.


Gulab jamun – used the GITS mix

Ribbon pakoda: My achchhu did not have the perfect ribbon making option, so I decided to go with a plain, thin slot.
Besan – 1 cup
Rice pwd – 1 tbsp
turmeric – 1/4 tsp
chilli pwd – 1 tbsp
salt to taste
Oil to fry
Make a dough with all the above ingredients using water. Transfer to achchhu and deep fry


Rice Flour – 1 cup
Udad flour – 1/2 cup
Jeera – 2 tsp
Ghee – 2 tbsp
Hing – 1/4 tsp
Oil for frying
Mix all the dry ingredients together. Heat up the ghee and add it to the flour and mix it up with your hands. Add enough water to make a soft dough. The consistancy: should be tight enough to retain a depression made with your fingers and soft enough to let the dough pass easily through the achchhu (I will post a picture for those of you who do not know what it is – its like a pasta press). Transfer the dought the achchhu. Heat up oil and fry up the thenguzhal in batches till done.

Gajar Halwa:
Carnation condensed milk (or any other brand) – 1 can
Carrots – 1 lb 
Ghee – 2 tbsp
Cardamom pwd – 1 tsp
Almonds, raisins, cashews – 2 tbsp each or according to taste
Grate the carrots using a medium sized grater. In a pressure cooker (or any thick bottomed skillet), add a tablespoon of ghee or butter. Put in the condensed milk and grated carrots. And stir it till all the water content evaporates. This may take about an hour. Keep stirring it so that it doesn’t get stuck to the bottom. Once done, heat up some ghee in a small pan. Add sliced almonds, raisins and halved cashews. Fry them for a bit till the raisins puff up and the nuts turn a little brown. Put it into the halva. Add cardamom pwd to the halva and stir it up well. Though I have never tried, my guess is this should work well in a microwave as well. It will take a lot less time. Just make sure you use a big glass container

and, last but not the least! My latest creation for my little one for Diwali….


October 23, 2006

Happy Deepavali – Good wishes and a request!

Filed under: Diwali, Ginger, Roots, herbs and spices — Hema @ 2:43 pm

To all Tams out there – “Deebavali Vazhthukkal – Ganga snanam aacha?”, to the Hindi speaking junta – “Diwali ki shubhkamanayen” and to the Gujus – “Saal Mubaarak”. Since, these are the only three language I can communicate in, its “A very Happy Diwali” to the rest of you. Now, would you do me a favour? Could you leave me a comment wishing me back in your mother tongue and also specify the language you speak (It doesn’t necessarily have to be an Indian language)?  This will serve as a reference for me and many of you who would like to leave comments to our fellow-bloggers for the next year.

So! it is that time of the year again – Lights, fireworks, bakshanams(treats), new garments and loads of FUN!!! For those of you who have read my last post may remember that I had managed to get a solemn promise from my MIL that I would be the one handling the stove and she would be the one dispensing recipes. Well, I guess it was too much to ask:) She made Mysore pak, and Thattai while I was at work and they are just amazing. Let me get straight to the point and take you to my table right away.Here is what I have for you…



Sweets – Mysore Pak(MIL), Gulab jamun, Gajar halva, Badam Halva(FIL)

Savoury – Mixture, Thenguzhal, Ribbon pakoda, Thattai(MIL)

And my entry to JFI for Diwali treats – Deepavali marundu (marundu is Tamil for medicine).



The bakshanams for diwali can vary every year, but traditionally, one item that is always made at home is the marundu. A small ball of this sweet and spicy concoction is important to prevent/cure the indigestions caused by the different treats you gobble up at a steady rate through-out the day.  (p.s this lets you get out and enjoy the fireworks and not visit the restroom more often than necessary; – sorry- just had to put this in). Anyway, jokes aside, here is the recipe for Deepavali marundu. I have the names of ingredients in Tamil and will soon find out the names with which they are more commonly called and also post a picture of all the herbs/barks/spices.

Sukku (dry ginger) – 2 medium pieces

Athimadhuram – 1 bit

Kandathippili – 7-8 bits

Arisithippili – 1 tbsp

Chittarathai – 1 bit

Molagu (Black pepper)- 3 tsp

Omam (Ajwain) – 1 tbsp

Sombu (saunf/flennel seeds) – 1 tsp

Jadikkai – 1 tiny bit

Jadi patri – 1 tiny bit

Elaichi (cardamom) – 4

Cloves – 4

Cinnamon – 2 small pieces

Jaggery – amount as mentioned in the method

Honey – 2 tsp

Ghee – 3-4 tbsp

Put the dry ingredients in a cloth/paper towel and beat with a hammer. Then dry-grind the ingredients. It is important to beat it up first since some of them are too hard to be dealt with the grinder as is. Sieve the ground mixture and again dry grind anything that did not pass through the sieve. Repeat the process 2-3 times. Mix the sieved powder with a little bit of water to get a lump. Now, grate and measure up an equal amount of jaggery. In a pan, put a tbsp of ghee and the jaggery and heat till the jaggery dissolves fully and bubbles up in the sides. Add another tbsp of ghee and add the marundu ingredients. keep stiring till it leaves the sides. Add another tbsp of ghee if it sticks to the bottom during the stiring process. Before taking it off the stove add the honey. The marundu will harden up after cooling as any other sweet. So make sure you take it out what it is still soft and workable.

I know what most of you are thinking right now. Is it absolutely necessary to use all the above ingredients? Well no. I have a very simple recipe for making it with what you would have handy all the time.

Grated fresh ginger – 1/2 cup

Ajwain – 3 tbsp

Black pepper – 1 tbsp

Mix the ajwain and pepper, powder and dry roast for 5 minutes. Add 2 tbsp ghee to a pan and roast ginger. Mix the powdered indredients to the ginger and grind. Do not sieve. Rest of the process is as above. Add jaggery in equal amout to the ground mixture. You could use any other spice (except dry ginger) that is called for in the original recipe if you have it in hand. Simple?

Rest of the recipes will follow……….


October 13, 2006

Preps for Diwali

Filed under: General — Hema @ 11:06 am

A week’s left and preparations have begun. I have a visit pending to the indian store – besan, udad flour, moong flour…the list is long. A visit to the normal grocery store, fire-works purchase, some new clothes to be bought – there’s lots going on in my mind lately.  My in-laws are visiting and I have made my MIL promise me that she would be steering clear of the stove and I would be handling anything that needs to be done on the stovetop. Of course, the recipes come from the wise and experienced.  You have no idea what it took to get these words out of her – ‘A great achievement’, – my husband says. We have heard from my MIL that her dear husband is a good cook as well, though we have never had the opportunity to taste his creations. Hence, this year my FIL has promised to unveil his recipe for Badam halva. I have offered to be his assistant for the task he undertakes after about 30 years! I have been keeping pretty busy at work and at home. Hence, after a short silence, I will be back with a bang on Diwali day. Till then folks, have fun shopping and preparing for the festival of lights!

October 4, 2006

Texan Beauty!

Filed under: General — Hema @ 3:57 pm

What starts with a B and is a native Texan?

Bush, yes. But, we are not talking about people here. Let me reframe my question.

What starts with a B, is beautiful and is a native Texan?

The State flower of Texas – BLUE BONNETS! (Scientific name: Lupinus texensis)


Photo courtesy:


This is my entry to the Flower Fest – The A – Z of Flowers hosted by Manisha.  I am a day late and I hope my entry can squeeze into the final round-up.Blue bonnets start blooming in early spring and blankets of these wild flowers can be seen throughout central and south Texas from late March to early May. It is named for its blue color and the resemblence of its petals to a woman’s sunbonnet (worn as head coverings during the 18th century). They typically grow about 1 feet tall.



Seen below are pictures taken by a fellow-student Tim,  at the Pickle research campus at Austin,TX in spring 2003. Come March-April and there is a rage of colours all around the campus – blues, reds, yellows – a magnificent treat for the eyes!!!



Photos courtesy: Tim Whiteaker

October 3, 2006

Mysore Sambhar

Filed under: Cookbooks, Indian, Karnataka, Main meals, Mixed Veggies, South Indian — Hema @ 1:21 pm

One of my favourite cookbooks DAKSHIN, by Chandra Padmanabhan had been lying on the counter- top without being used for a long time. I got this as a gift from my MIL 2 years back and have tried various recipes from this book with wonderful results each time.  This recipe for Mysore sambhar always caught my attention, since this was a new recipe to me. The only reason I had not tested this was because there was no tamarind in the list of ingredients and sambhar sans tamarind……hmmm? Yesterday, however I decided to go for it. I couldn’t help but add a little bit of tamarind never-the-less. I was quite impressed with the outcome. Though, the tamarind did add that little bit of taste that I like, I am pretty sure the recipe would have been as good if not better even without it.

Tur Dal  – 3/4 cup uncooked

Water – 3 cups

Beans – 1 2/3 cups

Potato – 1 medium

Green peas – 1 tbsp

Tamarind – 1/2 lime sized ball

Turmeric – 1/2 tsp

Salt to taste

For the paste:

Dhania  – 1 tbsp

Grated coconut  – 6 tbsp

Hing –  1/2 tsp

Methi (fenugreek) seeds – 1 tsp

Mustard seeds – 1 tsp

Raw rice (soaked) – 1 tbsp

Red chillies – 6 nos

For tempering:

Mustard seeds – 1 tsp

Cumin – 1 tsp

Red chilli – 1

Curry leaves – 5-6 nos.

Cook the dal and soak the rice in water for about 15 minutes. Cut vegetables to about 1 inch size and boil in water. Add the tamarind and salt when the vegetables are half cooked and let it boil up together till the vegetables are fully cooked. Make a fine paste of all the ingredients listed with minimum water. The original recipe did not have methi (fenugreek) seeds, but I decided to add some for the flavour. Add turmeric and the paste to the veggies and let it simmer up for about 5 minutes on medium flame. Next add the dal and cook the sambhar for another 3-4 minutes. Temper with Mustard, cumin, red chilli and curry leaves and serve hot with rice.


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