Tag Archives: indian street food

Street food style chickpeas and sprouted mung beans with sweet potato dumplings

25 Oct

Street food style chickpeas and sprouted mung beans with sweet potato dumplings

Sundays, simple Sundays.

It feels good to toss the autumn leaves around our boots; cheeks a little frosty and noses puffing warm mist into the cool air. I composed my boy into the middle of a tree, where the branches heavily parted ways and then took many a picture of his helmet clad, easy-going and shiny hair which looks golden under the sunshine and oh, those tight smiles of excitement. I felt happy. Even happier when he enjoyed his lunch, yes the lunch that he ordered after cycling around the lake. In fact he told me when it was time for lunch and for those of you who have been reading my blog over the years, you’ll know what a big deal it is for my child to willingly eat. So he ordered falafel, chips and flatbread and not forgetting the hummus for mumma. He ate and we talked and I felt joy; a really simple, pleasure.

Street food style chickpeas and sprouted mung beans with sweet potato dumplings by Deena Kakaya

 

These days, I have learned to let go a little more, for one day I won’t be here to take it all in. I feel that now. As in, really feel it. I am learning to let go of doing things and chasing things that I think that I should, in the name of ‘successes’, stickability, loyalty, ideology, or reality. I am learning that if it doesn’t bring me enjoyment or satisfaction then I don’t have to do it, even if I think I should. That project in the restaurant wasn’t meant to be and I know that the lectures aren’t making me a multi-millionaire or famous but I don’t need to be either of those and I like doing them. Simple. Its ok that I have to find a new cookery venue and chasing a zillion approvals just isn’t me. It isn’t.

I like to meet friends and talk, like we did today. The kiddos played ‘house and shops’ and we talked. It’s not just about how to grow our businesses or progress on a ladder but they make my world feel bigger. They all have their own pleasures and worries and it makes me happy to share in it all. The simple things.

The simple thing that gave me that warm and fuzzy feeling of serenity is when I nestled into the arm of my husband with a blanket and watched some escapism on TV and then dozed off. I love snoozing like that, I felt so relaxed.

Over the last few months our Sundays have been so fluid, we start mooching around somewhere in London, perhaps in a market or by the River and eat what we see- whatever takes our fancy. Sometimes we hop into a taxi or a boat, much to the glee of my boy but often it’s into a train though mainly in the car. Sometimes we stick locally to where we are, play a little Golf with my boy (it’s the only sport he seems taken with so far) perhaps splash around in the pool or meet some friends for a walk and lunch. Most of the time it’s a fairly cheap eat, full of spice and a little fire- you know something to warm us up and give us something to talk about. I like ‘dirty good food’ at the weekend…like Indian street food, dim sum or macaroons. Total, unadulterated food porn. There, I said it. Yes, I do feel a little terrible for not thinking of nutrition, but here is where I come in with the recipe…

So, this recipe I have for you today is based around the Usal/Misal pav Indian street food recipe. Spicy, masala straddling, fire packed recipes which often use lentils, beans or sprouted mung beans and its often eaten with bread buns. In some recipes they use coconut and some use Goda masala, or black masala. In my recipe, I have kept it really simple but added some depth and nutrition with the sweet potato dumplings.

 

Ingredients to serve 4

1 1/3 cup of mung bean sprouts

1 tin of chickpeas

½ tin of tinned chopped tomatoes

2 medium onions

4-5 dried red chillies, soaked in water

Pinch of asafoetida

1 tsp. cumin seeds

1 tsp. Kashmiri chilli powder

2 tsp. minced ginger

2 tsp. minced garlic

10-12 curry leaves

1 tsp. cumin powder

1 tsp. coriander powder

¼ tsp. ground black pepper

Salt to taste

½ tsp. ground turmeric

1 tbsp. tamarind paste

3-4 cloves

1 stick of cinnamon

1 star anise

2 green cardamom pods

2-3 tbsp. desiccated coconut

450ml of warm water

For the dumplings

2/3 cup of grated sweet potato

1/3 cup of rice

1/3 cup of gram flour

Spicy sev (crisp gram flour noodles) or sev mumra (mumra are puffed rice) for garnishing

Salt to taste

1 tsp. minced ginger

¼ tsp. turmeric

1 tsp. coriander powder

Method

  1. In a deep pan add 3 tbsp. vegetable oil and add the asafoetida, cumin seeds, curry leaves, turmeric, star anise, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and let them sizzle.
  2. Add the onion and salt and cook the onion until it’s transparent before adding the ginger, garlic, cumin powder, coriander powder, desiccated coconut and stir fry until the coconut is lightly coloured. Blitz the red chillies and add them to the mix, then the Kashmiri chilli powder. Add the tomatoes and black pepper and then the tamarind and bring the base to a simmer.
  3. Now pour in the water and then add the mung bean sprouts and chickpeas. On a low flame simmer for about ten minutes.
  4. In the meantime, combine the cooked rice, turmeric, salt, coriander powder and sweet potato and mix it all well before adding the gram flour. You should be able to roll them into equal sized balls, of about a dozen in number. You can make them smaller if you wish. Steam them for about 8-10 minutes and when they are cooked (pierce them with a skewer and if it comes out clean they’re cooked).
  5. When the dumplings are cooked add them to the mung bean sprouts and chickpeas and simmer together for about five minutes.
  6. Toast some buns and serve with the sev/sev mumra on top. You could even add raw chopped onions and tomatoes.

Indo-Thai mango and coconut bhel

5 Oct

Indo-Thai mango and coconut bhel

Two fabulous things happened at the tail end of last week; my husband returned home for a couple of days, after eleven days of business related work in Australia and I found a Riverford fruit and veg box wrapped up and tucked behind my garden gate.

Indo-thai bhel1 by Deena Kakaya

 

Years ago, when my husband made the switch from his role in the pharmaceutical industry to make a living in the field he is so passionate about (magic) I would cry upon his departure for these clustered long-haul trips. After years of listening to him talk about making dreams manifest and how life is so short and it is not worth spending limited moments of breath and potential smiles doing something one is less than passionate about, there was a juxtaposition of,  ‘I want you to LIVE’ and ‘I don’t want to be alone’.

I didn’t like the quiet of the evenings or cooking for one. I didn’t like the ‘filling in’ activities. I didn’t like waking alone or going to sleep with just the telly for company. But look, years on. Who would have thought that I could become accustomed to waving goodbye with a young child on my hip and that the quiet of the evenings would become precious time to prepare for lectures or cookery classes and those textbooks have become me, once again?  Years ago I would find solace in those messages, ‘how are you coping on your own’ and now I see ambition and vision through how much courage I have mustered up in recent years. I have even considered spending a few years abroad.

So the contents of the Riverford fruit and veg box this week made me chuckle because they matched my thoughts of more exotic climes and the will to LIVE. Now, I am sure I have gone on, and on enough about how much of an alphonso fan I am but alas we can’t have these in the UK this year but I was tickled by the delivery of a large and firm mango. I spotted red chillies and red onions, salsa? I could have done yes, but I fancied something sensational and explosive. It is how I want to feel you see.

I am taking a deep breath before I tell you this. Macaroons and chaat. OK. Let me explain. These are the two foods that make my limbs turn to jelly with anticipation and heart skipping joy. Heart-leap-frogging.  I am a girl that does not need to be gifted shoes, give me macaroons and chaat. And if I haven’t told you before, chaat is Indian street food (vegetarian snack) of inordinate amounts of sensual pleasure. The trickles of tamarind chutney and chilli green lip-smacking chutney heighten a fine balance of sweet, sour, crisp, cool, soft and spicy textures. It pops every sense and leaves anyone and everyone hankering for more, more, more.

But, you know me. I can’t just leave it there. I saw this mango and thought Indo-Thai would be absolutely perfumery delight. The mango gives sweet-sharp balance to the aniseed Thai basil. I have used coconut and peanuts for the salty and nutty elements too. This is not an understated dish (I have stressed that enough haven’t I?) it is a full show. New potatoes ensure that you get a soft bite without soggy mess that an ordinary potato can bring and you can get the puffed rice from most supermarkets or Indian grocers. I have used chopped mint and coriander too for a real herby feel. I would definitely recommend getting hold of the chaat masala that is made of peppery black salt, it lifts the dish to a whole new level. Just try it.

for the full recipe head over to great british chefs

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.

Soya Chunk Chaat

13 Aug

Soya Chunk Chaat

Ooh, I do feel slightly naughty when I eat street-food.  It’s like eating that secret, forbidden pre-dinner burger on the way home from school, except Chaat is much more tantalising. I don’t know how we did it, my best friend and me.  After college we’d detour for some wicked pleasures largely containing either pastry or potato, before returning home to a full Indian meal. Nobody ever knew.

We weren’t particularly weight, make-up or boy conscious teenagers…we loved to laugh from deep in our hearts and be happy. We laughed a lot, loudly and energetically.  We sang, talked vibrantly with strangers and dreamed faithfully. We created our own joy and funnily enough we were healthy by heart, body and mind and did really well with grades. Maybe I should take up hockey again?

Crisp, sweet, sour, spongy, spicy and soft it’s all going on. A couple of chutneys smack the senses wide open and say hello to Delhi and the rickety street stalls that overflow with smiling and animated crowds, all huddled excitedly with tiny metal plates as a skilled Chaat maker crafts each serving one by one.

My personal opinion is that there is no perfect science to constructing Chaat. It really is about combining and layering textures and igniting, or even exploding the senses.   There’s a tang, fire, sweetness, heat and coolness as layers of crispy sev, puffed rice, easy-going potato, sweet tomatoes, dense chick-pea and those sweet and spicy chutneys mingle.   Mmmmm, sigh-some… And although I do love, love, love lashings of natural yogurt to relax the senses, I’m not so much of a fan of the softening effect it can have on chaat. Nothing worse than soggy Chaat. You could however, drizzle a little just before serving and then devour it pretty much instantly. Who could blame you?

Serves 4-5

Ingredients

4 cups of puffed rice (from an Asian Supermarket)

2 fresh tomatoes, cubed

½ cup of roasted peanuts

2 medium potatoes, cubed

125g of dried soya chunks

One medium sized onion, finely diced

For the green chutney

2-3 green chillies

For the tamarind chutney

1 tbsp. concentrated tamarind paste

Chilli powder to taste

The spices; grind the following spices together. 1 tsp. cumin seeds, 1 tsp. coriander seeds, ½ tsp. fenugreek seeds, 1 tsp. fennel seeds, ½ tsp. carom seeds, 1 tsp. sweet paprika, salt to taste, chilli powder to taste, 1tsp. Chaat masala

Cook’s notes: You’ll find Chaat masala at most Indian grocers and supermarkets. Some supermarkets stock it too, but it is definitely worth getting hold of, for that pungent peppery flavour it introduces. You may find different versions of the soya chunks, but essentially you want to have them cooked before you spice them up!

Some people make tamarind chutney by simply combining the water and the concentrated tamarind paste, but I think that can leave the chutney excessively tart. To allow the sweetness come through, simmer it.

  1. Start by making the chutney’s. The green chutney is really easy; just blitz together the coriander, chillies, salt to taste and 1/3rd cup of water until its smooth.
  2. To make the tamarind chutney, combine ½ cup water with the concentrated tamarind paste
  3. Boil the potatoes. Once they are soft enough to pierce, drain them, cool and then mix in the Chaat masala.
  4. Soak the soya chunks in hot water until they swell. Squeeze out the excess water, or cook per packet instructions. Then heat a tablespoon of hot oil in a pan and add the spices, frying for just 30 seconds-1 minute before adding the soya chunks and coating them well. Let them cook on a low heat for approximately 5 minutes, before turning off the heat.
  5. Now all you need to do is layer it. I usually go for puffed rice and nuts on the bottom, then the potatoes, tomatoes, onions and on the top, the warm soya chunks. Then the final act; drizzle them with the emerald and maroon shades with the chutney’s and eat it, quick!

 

 

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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