Tag Archives: indian snacks

Paneer, corn and sundried tomato pakora

12 May

These unusual, golden little gram flour fritters are crispy and light. They give way to spongy paneer, sweet corn and the light tang of sundried tomatoes. Sit back, relax, watch it rain and devour steaming hot, crisp and fluffy pakora. The paneer adds great texture, depth and succulence. I have used Savera paneer which is the closest out there to homemade paneer…best for this kind of recipe as you wont get a rough chewy texture, but instead you will get an awesome light and pillowy feel. Pillowy…sleep…now that sounds like a great plan doesnt it?

How do you eat yours? I am a tamarind chutney kind of girl and my husband uses ketchup or siracha sauce. I reccomend the later or a coriander and chilli chutney. Oof, comfort food. And guess what, it is easy peasy. It

Alas, no time for sleep right now (boo) but I will be taking these indian vegetarian snacks with a twist to our next picnic (setting is at the zoo). My toddler eats them as do his friends, which, as you will understand if you read my posts regularly is a really, really big deal. I am using some of the gram flour as a face pack. I need it. Have you seen me recently? Shocking.

paneer pakora

Serves 10-12 as a snack

Cost per serving: 60p

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes

 

Ingredients

225g paneer, cut into bite sized cubes

250g gram flour

250ml water

1 large red onion, diced

100g sweet corn

120g sundried tomatoes, sliced (the ones that are preserved in oil)

Salt to taste

½ tsp. Turmeric powder

1 tsp. cumin seeds

1 tsp. fennel seeds

1 tsp. minced ginger

2 cloves of garlic, minced

¾ tsp. garam masala

2 tbsp. lemon juice

1-2 green chillies, finely chopped

Oil for deep frying

Method

  1. Heat the oil on a medium to low flame whilst you prepare the batter
  2. In a wide bowl, collect the corn, paneer chunks and sundried tomatoes. Sprinkle in the salt, fennel, chillies, cumin, turmeric, garlic, ginger, garam masala and onion and combine all the ingredients well.
  3. Stir in the lemon juice and toss the mixture together well.
  4. Introduce the gram flour, stir the mixture thoroughly before pouring in the water and then form a thick batter.
  5. Drop a little gram flour batter into the oil to test the oil. If the oil is hot enough the batter will rise to the surface of the oil and sizzle.
  6. Form small and equal sized balls of batter and aim to include paneer, corn and sundried tomato within each ball. They should be smaller than a golf ball.
  7. Fry them until golden brown and then remove them with a slotted spoon onto some kitchen paper in order to drain them.

This is a sponsored post but any views expressed are my own.

Jaggery, pistachio, sesame, cardamom and chilli crusted popcorn

30 Jan

Jaggery, pistachio, sesame, cardamom and chilli crusted popcorn

 

My baby boy turns two today.

We went to buy his cake today and he, completely unprompted thanked the staff. In the supermarket he now walks with me, for quick shops only (rather than sitting in the trolley or pram) and natters the whole way; busses, music, birds, cars.  He scoots straight past all the dolls and pink crafts and goes straight to monster trucks, robots and aeroplanes.  He knows to hold my hand at all times.  When we got home he refused to let me cook dinner and swung from my leg until I carried him whilst cooking so that he could stir. After dinner he told me that wanted cuddles with mumma and whimpered until I sat down with him and he hurriedly made conversation, becoming breathless in fact…just in case I would get up and move away from talking about favourite vehicles, animals, planets or dinosaurs.

He still feels a part of me, an extension.  Not everyone will see this. I have learned an incredible amount about life through my boy in the last two years.

I eat more popcorn now than I have for many years, because he likes it.  I used to be a definite salted girl, but somewhere along the lines, things changed. Apart from when it comes to masala popcorn, of course!

Jaggery, pistachio, sesame, cardamom and chilli crusted popcorn

For this recipe I have used jaggery.  Jaggery is a molasses like block, deep and smooth and is a product of date, cane juice or palm sap without the separation of molasses and crystals and can vary from light to dark brown in colour.  Jaggery is typically combined with other ingredients such as nuts, coconut or condensed milk to make sweet delicacies. I am using jaggery because it has got to be better than using caramel and also, because I love the deep tones of jaggery. I know that jaggery has been used for Ayurveda as it contains minerals that aren’t found in sugar.  I had added sesame seeds and peanuts, which make the popcorn taste quite festive when combined with jaggery. There is an aromatic hint of cardamom and a kick of heat.  Give it a go.

Please be careful, melted jaggery is very hot and can burn you. Please don’t lick it for a taste test when hot.

 

Ingredients

175g jaggery

3 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds

75g toasted and coarsely chopped pistachio

1/3rd cup of popcorn kernels

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

¼ tsp. cardamom

¼ tsp. chilli powder

Method

  1. Start by making the popcorn. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan and allow the popcorn kernels to pop and then cool the popcorn
  2. Heat the jaggery on a medium to low flame in a non-stick pan. Be patient and let the jaggery melt. Cut it into smaller pieces to speed it up.
  3. Once the jaggery is smooth, turn the heat to a very low flicker and quickly stir in the spices, blending them through evenly. Turn off the heat and let the jaggery cool until it is warm, but not piping hot.
  4. Add the sesame seeds and pistachio and then the popcorn and stir quickly before it sets into clumps. Try and get an even coverage.
  5. Tip the popcorn out onto a large plate, letting it cool.
  6. When the popcorn is cool separate any clumps.

 

 

 

Cheer up; my show stopper soya nugget chaat

18 Nov
Cheer up; my show stopper soya nugget chaat

Cheer up; my show stopper soya nugget chaat

The weather does affect my mood. The grey skies aren’t good for the clouds in my mind. Mondays are harder than Sundays. It’s cold so getting out is harder. But my mornings start like this.

I wake, I worry, then my boy comes into bed. ‘Mumma cuddle’…so I draw him closer to me. ‘Mumma kiss’ and I happily shower him. Then he starts to talk about animals and planets or cars. Life is as complicated as we make it, isn’t it.

I think sometimes we just chase, chase, run and run. But forget to think about whether it is making us or our loved ones happy. I say, if you don’t want to fly…then don’t. Run. If you don’t want to run, then don’t…walk. If you don’t want to walk then sit down. If you want to move forward, do. If you want to stop, stop. Just be happy.

So the way I deal grey skies, is to get out and get active. Cool, fresh air helps to dust off the cobwebs. This morning my boy and I went to the Indian supermarket. This may seem like a boring task for many, but for me it was full of nostalgia. The smell of ground masala and stacks of rice and flour throws me back to my childhood. I grew down the road from an indian mill, so these are the smells of my childhood. We didn’t do mass indian food shops, my mum and dad would send me running down the road with a couple of coins to pick up gram flour or millet flour.

To fight of Monday feelings I wanted colour on my plate. I wanted cool, warm and spicy sensations. I wanted crisp against smooth and nutty against fruity. I wanted it all and I wanted to be tickled. There is only sense-tickling dish that does this and that is chaat.

There are quite a few ingredients to this dish but don’t skip any, they are all there for a reason. By all means use shortcuts, life is short!

Ingredients to serve 4-6

100g crisp bundi (crisp gram flour balls to give crunch)
100g sev (crisp gram flour short straws)
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
One can of black chick peas
One pomegranate with the seeds removed
100g small indian onions, or a large red onion finely diced
10-12 plain natural yoghurt
2 tsp chaat masala
8-10 tbsp tamarind chutney

For the coriander and chilli chutney

40g chopped coriander
1/2 cup water
2 green chilies
Salt to taste

For the curried soya nuggets

200g soya nuggets
1 cup of chopped tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric
3/4 tsp garam masala
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
Salt to taste
2 tbsp cooking oil
One small onion, peeled and sliced
1300ml water.

Cooks tips for shopping: the soy nuggets are readily available in Asian supermarkets and so is the tamarind chutney, although I bought it from asda. You can quite easily make tamarind chutney, but I used a shop bought one today

Method
1. Start by making the soy nuggets. Heat the oil in a pan, add the cumin seeds and allow the seeds to sizzle. Add the garlic, salt, turmeric and onion and sauté until the onions have softened. Stir in the the cumin and coriander powder then add the soya nuggets. Coat them in the spices before adding the chopped tomatoes and warm water.
2. Bring the curry to a simmer and then sprinkle in the garam masala. Cook for 20mi mutes or until the juices have been soaked up by the nuggets and the nuggets are tender. Turn off the heat.
3. Boil the cubed potatoes until they are soft enough to pierce and then drain them. Sprinkle in one tsp of chaat masala.
4. Drain and rinse the black chickpeas and sprinkle in one tsp of chaat masala.
5. Make the green coriander and chilli chutney, use a grinder to mix the coriander, chilli, water and salt to a paste.
6. Make up individual portions of chaat in a bowl for ease by mixing 2 tbsp of bundi, 2 tbsp of pomegranate seeds, 2 tbsp potato, 2 tbsp chickpeas, 2 tbsp of sev and 2 tsp onion. Toss in 3 tsp of soya nuggets. Place the mix on the plate and drizzle on yogurt, green chutney me tamarind chutney.

Remember that these measurements for putting together the chaat are approximate, alter it to your taste.

Masala Popcorn

30 Aug

Image

Masala popcorn 

 
1991 Porbander, Gujarat, India 
 
The walls of the cinema hall were stained deep red with pan (stuffed  betel leafs that apparently freshen then breath) spittle.  Gross.  I sat there wondering why they seemed to find joy in squirting from the mouth and how they got away with it.  Gobfuls of red juices we ejected casually onto the walls and remained there, forever.  
I was feeling put off already and angrily bewildered as to why my dad held such fond memories of this cinema. He seemed so excited when he decided to cure my boredom by bringing me to the cinema of his youth.  Maybe he used to blow  those wolf whistles too as a teenager, like the ones ringing in my ears from behind me. How to escape?
Dad sensed my bubbling frustration…I was a pre teen with strong views and spitting was plain disgusting. Anyway,  he took me to find treats…I spotted malt biscuits, melting chocolate, nuts and masala popcorn packed un generously into small food bags.  Masala popcorn. No way! It tasted like every child’s favourite potato curry on popcorn. Winner. Smiles returned.
 
2001 Leicester
 
My brother and I were both away at university and when we visited my folks we would let the oldies go to bed whilst we watched  channel four game shows or American comedies.  We’d join in the judging whilst watching ‘your face or mine’ back to back for hours.  Intermittently, we’d catch up on each others lives.  Gorging at 2am was obviously necessary.  Sometimes it would be indulgent spaghetti dishes, slathered with loads of cheese. Always, there would be popcorn, because my brother is somewhat fond of the stuff. To be honest, it seemed like he just needed to multi task; banter, telly, munch.   For me, I needed variety in popcorn…I like a kick.
 
2007 Friday night, london
 
The exhilarating Friday feeling; the hair pins came off and hair was unleashed.  My face was stripped of glasses and contact lenses came in.  I never socialised in glasses, it was the rule.  Trousers were swapped for skirts or dresses and the pumps flew into the hallway and the heels we finally on.  I felt liberated.
Friday nights were about impromptu meet-ups in london, discovering new restaurants, lots of giggles and late nights.  I’d return home surprisingly peckish. I couldn’t just go to sleep, I needed to unwind, catch up on the Bollywood soap masala action with popcorn in skirted lap, heel tucked under bum. 
 
2013 Friday night London
 
Too tired to talk. Baby asleep after teething related moaning and much cajoling and cuddling. Exhausted. Time for a movie? No. Ok, tv and popcorn? Make it masala popcorn.
 
Recipe 
 
40g popped popcorn 
20g butter 
A splash of oil 
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander power
Salt to taste 
1/4tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp turmeric powder 
1/4 Tsp black pepper 
Chilli powder to taste 
 
Method 
 
1. Melt the butter and add the oil 
2. Stir in the spices and seasoning and stir for less than a minute. Don’t let them brown.
3. Stir in the popcorn and coat thoroughly in the sunny coloured mixture
 
Serving suggestion 
 
Masala popcorn looks lovely in white containers or in paper cones. 
 
 
 
 

Social Grazing; Masala Peanuts

13 Nov

Most people I talk to these days reckon I should put my (swollen) feet up and chill (despite my internal combustion system) out, eat and watch movies etc. and let the (busy-at-work-due-to Christmas) husband indulge me.  Thinking about it is relaxing, but those who know me, know that I never stop!

So, my thinking has been that I want to pack in as much as I can before the baby arrives so that I feel upbeat and productive…a great mood to welcome a new little person with. Funnily enough I have been doing a lot of entertaining, chatting and late nights too (the baby websites express how naughty that is, after all, people in my ‘condition’ need the rest.)  This weekend for instance has been filled with the laughter of people in three different cities and multiple cuisines. I am generating and storing memories and bonds…the stuff of smiles.

Besides, I feel so blessed that well-wishers want to see me for adult-chat before the baby arrives and they want to see and track the development of the ever-growing bump.

This is a joyful time and you know that all of my happy times have a strong association with food and it’s usually me doing the cooking, of course. I have enjoyed treating my friends and family as guinea-pigs and seeing as I struggle with big meals, there has been grazing-a-plenty! 

I love this recipe…you can’t go wrong with crunchy, spicy nuts with a light sour kick.  A bowl full of these won’t last very long…but I love them for filling the gaps between courses, or simply for nibbling on whilst giggling, laughing crunching.

Masala Peanuts

Ingredients

3/4 cup shelled peanuts

3/4 cup gram flour

1/4 cup rice flour

The spices; 1 tbsp. coriander powder, ½ tbsp. cumin powder, ½ tsp. dried mango powder, ½ tsp. turmeric powder, 1 tsp. paprika, ½ tsp. ground black pepper, 1 tsp. red chilli powder, ¼ tsp. dried ginger powder

Up to 1 cup Water as needed

Oil to fry

Method

  1. In a hot, non-stick pan, lightly roast the peanuts until they have slightly browned, then leave them to cool
  2. Mix together all the dry ingredients and then add the water and the peanuts to form a batter and ensure all of the peanuts are covered evenly.
  3. Heat the oil in a deep bottomed pan to fry the peanuts, the oil should be a couple of inches depth.
  4. Fry the peanuts until they are golden brown, but make sure that they are separate and don’t clog together when frying.  Remove them onto kitchen paper and allow them to cool.  You can devour them just as they are.

The Mumbai Sarnie

10 Jan

The
Mumbai Sarnie
Mumbai Sandwich

It would have been inconceivable to have even the tiniest hair on
my legs under that thin green cotton skirt which didn’t even puff
around my ankles in the monsoon heat. I was fortunate that it
didn’t stick. Not a mane or even some stubble…nothing that would
interrupt the flow of moisture shall we say. What? It’s not me…it’s
the July heat in a combustive Mumbai.

My sister-in-law’s sunny mum introduced me to a pleasure that I have since hankered for again and again. The recollection of it conjures up and celebrates the delicate aroma of buttery and toasted bread, tantalizing green chutney and a moist, tumbling filling. Smooth potatoes,cheese, and juicy tomatoes, sweet beetroot cooling cucumber all flirted together amidst the spikiness of peppery and salty chaat masala. When the secret was first revealed to me, I was preparingfor a pre-wedding a trip to shopping-heaven-Mumbai. ‘Auntie’ gave me an unabridged list of shops and boutiques and bazaars to visit, which was hugely helpful. But, she did stress the absolute importance of requesting ‘the sandwich’ whilst in an air conditioned sari shop. Not just any sandwich, but THE sandwich.

Auntie’s face filled with glee and she became quite poetic andinstructing; I thought, ‘what’s the big deal, it’s just a
sandwich’. Seven years andseveral trips to Mumbai later, I was back at the shabby looking,crowd beholding and sacred street shack of the ultimate sandwich. It was July then and tangerineand rust are the colours I think of now. Stifled in the heat, I waited whilst being tossed around and blended with outgoing people traffic from the bazaar behind me and incoming traffic into the more upmarket sari boutique. I felt dribbles down my back andrecognizing that I should have worn a looser vest, became increasingly exasperated. My lower back was aching – and to add to the experience I
was further pressed to queasiness and stuffiness as itwas my time-of-the-month darn it! But I waited.

Behold the sandwich. Husband arrives with boxes; scents are sending tummy rumbling, we rush into air conditioned cab. Try sliding across seats, unsuccessful. Why? Skirt decides to stick. Mother Nature’s monthly calling left me decidedly icky and needing water but devour sarnie I did.

So, I’m going to share it with you; my take on the recipe that is. My inspiring and full-of-life friend
Milan whom I would say is probably just as in love with the ‘friendship sandwich’ as I am, may seem to spend more time and infinite joy in India, but I have the sarnie at home. Aha! Idedicate this recipe to Bharti Auntie and Milan.

To make two sarnies
Ingredients
for the Green
Chutney;
80g of coriander, with stalks
and leaves 2 green chillies 2 tbsp. of water 1 tbsp. of lemon juice
2 inch stick of ginger Approximately 10 peanuts Salt to taste
Ingredients for the
sarnies

6 slices of bread Butter or

margarine to spread on the toast

150g of new potatoes 100g of

grated cheddar cheese

80g of cucumber, cut into 1cm cubes 5-6
cherry tomatoes, cubed

80g cooked Beetroot, cut into 1cm cubes

About 1tsp of chaat masala Ingredients for the Mumbai Sandwich Method

  1. To make the green chutney, grind together all of the
    ingredients until it’s a smooth paste. If the paste is too thick,
    add a little more water.
  2. Boil the new potatoes
    until soft enough to pierce; this should take 7-8minutes. Allow
    them to cool, before slicing them thinly
  3. Toast
    the bread and butter each slice. To make each sandwich, take a
    single slice of buttered toast and then spread a thin layer of
    green chutney onto it
  4. Layer the potatoes,
    beetroot, cheese, cucumber and tomatoes onto the layer of bread and
    then sprinkle about ¼ tsp. of chaat masala onto the
    bread
  5. Top this with another slice of buttered
    toast and green chutney and repeat so that you have a three layer
    sandwich.

Inside the Mumbai Sandwich Eat and enjoy. I know you’ll love it.

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