Pakoras

PAKORAS
PAKORAS


Pakoras are fatty, ups your bad cholesterol and downs your good cholesterol. They are lusciously deep-fried fellows, hard to resist their imperfect looking lure, and despite conscious efforts, you won't just stop at one.
I have given every reason not to love them.

But, you know when they appear on the platter, they know they are winning. They never come alone in fact, they always visit monsoon hefty, with numerous memories, endless tales, steamy cups of chai, loads of joy, tonnes of laughter all related to my childhood. I guess that's why despite the several reasons not to love them, I always find another reason to want to love them.

There are still other ways to splurge on them making them healthy by baking, but trust me when I say this, they are to be enjoyed only when screamingly deep-fried and hence I make them as occasional treats. Here is our recipe for Pakoras/Pakodas/Onion Bhajji.

pakoras

Pakoras/Pakodas/Onion Bhaji

INDIAN PAKORAS RECIPE
Preparation time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 20 mins
Total time: 30 mins
Makes:10-12

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup chickpea flour or gram flour or besan flour
1green chilli, deseeded and chopped finely
1 tsp of ginger, minced
1 tsp of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp of black or cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp of cumin seeds
1/2 tsp of baking soda or asafoetida (recommended but optional)
1 tsp of lemon juice
2 tbsp of fresh coriander, finely chopped
water as needed or about 1/4th cup
Oil for deep frying- I prefer Coconut or Canola oil for deep frying
1 onion, cut lengthwise or in squares thinly but uniformly

DIRECTIONS:
Step1:
In a mixing bowl, add all the ingredients except oil and onion. Mix all the contents to make a smooth, lump-free batter and adjust the water to make a thick pancake consistency batter.

Step2:
In a skillet or in any deep-frying pan, add oil and bring to a high temperature first, once the oil has reached a reasonably high temperature, reduce the heat to a medium-high.

Step3:
Add the chopped onions into the batter and mix well coating the onion with the mixture.

Step4:
Put a tablespoon of the batter to make one pakora and spread about 4 or 5 pakoras across the pan each time and fry them.

Step5:
Line a colander/Sieve with a kitchen towel, place the fried pakoras on them to absorb the excess oil.

Serving Suggestions: Serve with masala chai or with any favourite chutney or ketchup.

Notes:

1)This recipe can be made into plain pakoras without adding any vegetables.

2) The reason to add onions into the batter just before frying is that they tend to lose their moisture content once they come into contact with the salt. This makes the batter lose its consistency.

3)Always test the oil for optimacy by just putting a little batter mixture into the oil, the batter must instantly sizzle up on to the top and not sink down into the oil.

4)I always fry the pakoras only to a moderate brown colour-the deeper the colour, the more is the oil content. Not ready to depart from the healthy tag.

5)To keep the pakoras from going cold, put them into a pre-heated oven until the last one is fried and serve them warm.

onion bhaji



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Chicken Curry

CHICKEN CURRY


On my table today is a fiery but not spicy yet "I-want-more" Chicken Curry, one of the most solicited recipes by many curry lovers and yet one of my most shelved ones for no reason or some reason.

This recipe is not a family kept secret, and it is not the one with the elaborate/fanciest list of the great ingredients. I call it authentic as I believe when initially people started cooking, they started with essential spices of a dish. The spices who played their well-orchestrated music together yet keeping their individual flavours distinct and that's what makes a recipe hit!.

If passing on a recipe generation after generation is what makes it authentic, then this is a sound signature dish that I have not altered a bit, and I have no such future intentions.

Here is our detailed step-by-step recipe with pictures and yes it's One-Pot.

CHICKEN CURRY

Preparation Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: about 30-35 mins
Total Time: about 45 mins
Makes: 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:
3 tbsp vegetable oil/ghee
1 large onion, divided 1/4th finely chopped and 3/4th diced into big chunks
1 tsp of salt or as needed
800 g boneless chicken cut into bitesize chunks
2” fresh ginger, roughly chopped
7-8 garlic cloves, peeled
4 tbsp of fresh coriander leaves, reserve 1 tbsp for garnishing
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp dry coriander/dhania powder (You can alternate it with garam masala powder too)
450g tomatoes, roughly chopped

METHOD:
Step 1: Bring a heavy-bottomed pan or a Dutch oven with the oil to medium-high heat, add 1/4th of the finely chopped onion and sweat them until brown by adding little salt.



Step 2: Add the chicken chunks and cook until all the juices are evaporated, and the pan goes dry.

This is a non-negotiable step for the best chicken curry. Allowing all the moisture and the juices to dry away helps prepare the chicken to absorb the flavours from the other ingredients. It also ensures that cooked chicken doesn't release a lot of fluid watering down the characteristics of the curry later. Meanwhile, proceed to Step 3.



Step 3: Prepare Green Masala

In a blender, process the 3/4th onion, ginger, garlic with 3 tbsp of fresh coriander into a thick paste. Sprinkle little water if needed while blending.



Step 4: When the pan has almost gone dry, tip in the prepared green masala and coat the chicken and cook without the lid on for about 5-7 mins.



Step 5:Now, include the dry spices along with the remaining salt and continue cooking with the lid on.



Step 6: Blend the tomatoes to a smooth mixture and transfer them to the pan. Combine everything giving a good stir.



Step 7: Simmer the contents with the lid on for about 10 mins until the sauce thickens slightly.



Step 8: Cook until the chicken looks tender and done.



Serving suggestions: Sprinkle the reserved coriander leaves to garnish and serve with any flatbread or rice.



We enjoyed them with homemade-chapati and yum! Totally yum!

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RAGI PANCAKES

RAGI PANCAKES


Ragi, known as the finger millet is also famously classed as the old world cereal, and if that credential seemed less appealing, here, you have another one-The farmer's crop and the poor man's staple, by far the most prevailed one preferably.

Fortunately, I have grown up in a home where the usage of this crop still prevails. Thanks to our mothers and grandmothers for choosing to accommodate this crop in the kitchen for its positive health benefits.
To the records, Ragi is Gluten-free and is more nutritiously balanced than any other crops, and I remember my grandmother saying it is rich in calcium and great for bone health.

Ragi is the first baby food that is still traditionally made for infants in my family. While babies enjoy this superfood in the form of malt, we adults devour it as Ragi mudde- a steamed dumpling, usually paired with a soupy gravy. Trust me it is the old world crop charm.

It is deplorable that this crop is denounced as an old-world crop, not because of its nutrition but only because this millet is disappearing slowly from the Indian homes despite the great benefits it has to offer.

In my humble efforts to familiarise the benefits of this millet is this recipe that I'm sharing today for Pancake Day.

Ragi Pancakes-It is easy to make, instant, gluten-free and can be adaptable to sweet or savoury pallets. It can be veganised too. Here is my simple recipe.
RAGI PANCAKES
Ragi Pancake
Preparation Time: 5 mins
Cooking Time: 15 mins
Makes: 6 pancakes, 2 servings


INGREDIENTS:  
1 cup ragi flour
¼ cup of yogurt- one can adapt this recipe to vegan using a plant-based yogurt
¼ cup of water
1 tsp cumin seeds
¼ tsp of Himalayan salt or any cooking salt
1 tsp of any vegetable oil

DIRECTIONS:
1) Put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix to form a lump-free batter, not too runny or dense.

2) Heat a frying pan or a cast-iron skillet to medium-high heat with some oil- Oil spray or a brush works well to grease the pan base evenly.

3) Reduce the heat and pour a ladle full of the batter into the centre of the pan. Swirl the pan for the batter to settle around the edges uniformly.

(I prefer to use an egg pan to make these pancakes for those lovely round shapes.)

4) Cook on one side and using a spatula or a wooden turner, flip the pancake to cook on the other side- usually a pancake should take about 2 mins on each side depending upon the heat setting.

5) Stir the batter again and repeat this process with the leftover batter to make pancakes.

6) Serve with honey, maple syrup or pair it with homemade chutney and its divine.


Here, at L.C, we served with homemade tomato ketchup, and that paired well.
  
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Mung Bean Pancakes- A Savoury Breakfast

MUNG BEAN PANCAKES

(Moong Dal ka cheela)
mung bean pancakes
moong dal cheelaMung beans or Moong Dal are a family favourite lentil to date. These beans cook amazingly well,  both in the sweet as well as the savoury dishes alike, imparting a lovely taste and a nutrient pack texture in any recipe.

Indulging in this legume-based pancake on an excellent breakfast over the busy week is easy, with little preparation for soaking them a night before. 

This recipe is gluten-free, vegan, low- carb and protein- high. It can be tailored to one's preference by adding or subtracting any ingredients. I often make them SAVOURY and straightforward for breakfast with no extra additions. 
Here is our simple recipe.

 MUNG BEAN PANCAKES- MOONG DAL KA CHEELA 

 mung bean pancakes
Preparation Time: 15 mins
Soaking Time: overnight or 4 hrs
Cooking Time: 6 mins
Makes: 6 pancakes, 2 servings

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup split/whole moong beans soaked in 2 cups of water overnight or for 4 hrs
½ cup of cold water
1” piece of fresh ginger
1 red chilli deseeded

1 tsp carom or cumin seeds
¼ tsp of Himalayan salt or any cooking salt
1 tsp of any vegetable oil

DIRECTIONS:
1) Discard the water from the beans and blend all the ingredients to form a smooth light batter not too runny or not too dense.


soaked mung beans2) Heat a frying pan or a cast-iron skillet to medium-high heat with some oil- Oil spray or a brush works well to grease the pan base evenly.

3) Reduce the heat and pour a ladle full of the batter into the centre of the pan. Swirl the pan for the batter to settle around the edges uniformly.


(I prefer to use an egg pan to make these pancakes for those lovely round shapes.)


4) Cook on one side and using a spatula or a wooden turner, flip the pancake to cook on the other side- usually a pancake should take about 2 mins on each side depending upon the heat setting.


5) Stir the batter again and repeat this process with the remaining batter to make the pancakes.


6) Serve the pancakes warm to your liking with any side dish or a topping of your choice.


mung bean pancakesHere at L.C, we enjoyed with a dollop of hummus, and it was heart-warming on a cold morning.

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Gram flour Pancakes

  Gram Flour Pancakes- Besan ka Cheela
chickpea flour pancake
chickpeas flour pancakes
Easy, Airy, Fluffy, Savoury, Lacy, Healthy, Vegan, Gluten-free, packed with protein, filled with fibre and super quick.

These pancakes can be put-together with few necessary ingredients and can be enjoyed as a quick breakfast or a light dinner- winner amongst the children and the grown-ups alike.

Gram flour or Besan is all you need to turn these describers into real food. I have made these- Besan ka Cheela as in Hindi, so many times,  that now I can confidently say I have mastered making pancakes almost with any lentil-flour available to me.

I  wanted to keep this recipe simple and hence have completely abandoned all the vegetables and nutty and seedy bits this time. But, if you like, you can enhance the nutritious value of these small round stuff with any veggies and create a  vegetarian version of omelettes with no eggs, the gram flour is so easy to work with.

If you fancy making the vegetarian-omelette, the types of vegetables have no limit; you can choose anything from onions, spring onions, tomatoes to spinach, peppers, cabbage etc. But the key lies in chopping them fine, else the spreading of the batter can be a task, plus bumpy vegetables don't appeal to the shape of the pancakes-finely chopped vegetables cook slightly quicker too.

My top-tip will be to add finely chopped dill leaves, and they do magic to this recipe. Try it!

Now, before we dive into the recipe, it is worth noting that I have used the Besan flour, the authentic brown split gram flour that is milled to an excellent consistency. But If you can't get a hand on this flour, one can easily use chickpea flour, and it still works the same. Here is the recipe.

GRAM FLOUR PANCAKES- BESAN KA CHEELA
chickpea flour pancake

Preparation Time: 5 mins
Cooking Time: 25 mins
Total Time: 30 mins
Makes: ABOUT 6 PANCAKES

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup besan flour or chickpeas flour (sieve the flour to remove any lumps)
3/4th cup of plain water or as needed (use the same container that you used to measure the flour)
1 tsp lemon juice
½ tsp Himalayan salt
½ tsp turmeric powder
¼ tsp cayenne pepper or chilli powder
2 tbsp sesame seed oil or olive oil

DIRECTIONS:
Step 1: Put all the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl and first add ½ cup of water and using a wire whisk or a fork, STIR and make a lump-free mix. Further, add the remaining water and adjust the mixture to form a smooth, pouring consistency batter. If adding any veggies, chop them very finely and add them to the batter.

Step 2: Heat a non-stick skillet or a pan over medium heat. Use a pastry brush and grease the pan with the oil. I fancy round pancakes, hence I make the best use of the egg pan that I have.

Step 3: Ladle some of the batters into the centre of the pan, bring the heat down and slowly swirl the batter to coat the edges uniformly and cook for about 2 mins on one side.

Step 4: Loosen the edges using a spatula and flip or turn the pancake to cook on the other side for another 2 mins until the crispy golden lacy look is achieved.
Step 5: Stack the pancakes on a paper towel and keep them warm until the other pancakes are cooked.

Step 6: Stir the batter each time for the next pancake and continue making the pancakes with the remaining batter. Serve them warm with any accompaniment of your choice.

Serving suggestions: Serve them hot or warm but never cold.

Any sauce, dip, ketchup or plain Yogurt or even Hummus is a great combo to go with these golden crepes.

gramflour pancake


We enjoyed them with a homemade tomato sauce, and the breakfast was yum! Totally yum!

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Haseena

Kokum Drink

KOKUM DRINK
KOKUM DRINK
KOKUM DRINK
People have always crafted their weather-dependent or weather-friendly drinks to keep themselves either cool or warm. One such drink that I can boast of is a recovery beverage in all its humbleness- Kokum, the holistic fat-burner and great body coolant.

I was first introduced to this fruit on a very hot summer day in Sringeri, a hill town from coastal Karnataka where a bunch of us from the 600 and odd cadets were chosen to trail the community services as part of youth development, volunteering camp in India called NCC-National Cadet Corps.

After experiencing the serenity of nature and wilderness both alike, we were summoned to a homestay cottage to experience the divine nature and hospitality of the unknown hosts.

They welcomed the tiring and the not so tiring souls to quench their existing thirst by offering this cherry-looking red drink called kokum sherbet, a drink made from fruit concentrate. That was decades ago, and I haven't turned back from it yet and not yet.

Kokum is a species belonging to a tropical plant family called Garcinia that contains HCA-Hydroxy citric Acid, a known serotonin booster and is known as Garcinia Indica in English.

There are many different methods to use Kokum. In coastal India, it is dried to add flavour to other dishes. Some use it as a sweet-sour agent in place of tamarind. Some use it to enhance the heat of the spices in a dish. While some prepare a concentrate by turning this into a syrup making a refreshing drink, others like me prefer to use it in its most natural form by either brewing or infusing it directly into water and steeping it overnight.

It is best served at room temperature with a little pinch of Himalayan salt or rock salt to take away the bite that comes from the tangy-tartness of the rind. Here is how we make it.

KOKUM DRINK

kokum drink
Preparation Time-5 mins
Steeping Time -12 HRS
Total Time-12 hrs plus 5 mins
Makes-2 servings

INGREDIENTS:
5-6 pieces of dry-wet kokum rind
2 cups cold water
Himalayan salt to taste
1 tbsp honey, optional
¼ tsp cumin seed powder, optional

DIRECTIONS:
Step 1: Add water into a serving pitcher and soak the kokum pieces into the water to steep overnight.

Step 2: Season the drink with a pinch of salt and sweeten it with honey.

Step 3: Divide the drink in two serving glasses and serve at room temperature.

SERVING VARIATIONS:
Stevia syrup is the best alternative to honey and can be enjoyed chilled.
KOKUM DRINK
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Idli - Lentil Cakes

IDLI- Steamed Lentil Cakes
The look of these serene, fluffy white cakes reminds me of my Indian home, the traditional breakfast that is still made with joy to indulge in and savoured with sambhar.

Idli is one of the most popular breakfasts of South Indian homes. When the recommendation comes from the “World Health Organisation-WHO” quoting its health benefits, I can only take pride in recognising the benefits of this breakfast dish that I continue to rejoice even now with my family.

Traditionally, Idli is made using a fermented batter of black lentils and rice. With its low Glycemic index, it makes it preferable amongst the Diabetics too.

But at LC, we tried making this only with de-husked black gram that is soaked, blended and fermented to the right degree and steamed with less/no oil making it completely vegan and enhancing the nutrient value of this dish. The result was just yum!. Here is our recipe.



IDLI-SAVOURY STEAMED LENTIL CAKES

Steamed Lentil Cake
Preparation Time: 6 hrs (includes soaking, blending and steaming)
Fermentation Time: 12- 18 hrs
Total Time:  24 hrs
Yields: 12-16 Serves: 3-4

INGREDIENTS:
2 cups dry black lentils, de-skinned or de-husked
2 cups of water
1 tsp salt, we use Himalayan salt
1 tsp cooking oil

Other equipment needed- Blender, Idli plate/ Egg poacher/ Bamboo Steamer

DIRECTIONS:
Step 1: Rinse the dry lentils and soak them in enough water for 4-6 hrs and then drain the water from the lentils. In a blender, combine the soaked lentils with 2 cups of water and blend to a smooth, pouring consistency batter but not runny.

Step 2: In a large bowl transfer the batter, add salt and keep it covered loosely in a warm place for fermentation to happen for at least 8-12 hrs until the volume of the batter doubles.

Step 3: Grease the Idli moulds with oil, pour the batter into the moulds and steam cook on the medium temperature in the steamer for about 10 mins until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. If you don’t have an Idli mould- you can use any small bowl, plate or an egg poacher that can be used in the steamer.

Step 4: Allow the steamed cakes to rest outside the steamer for about 2-3 mins before removing from the moulds. Idli must not be wet on the top surface to assert doneness.

Step 5: Use a silicone spatula dipped in cold water to remove them from the mould and serve.

SERVING VARIATIONS:

Idli can be served with any lentil curry called Sambar, any chutneys, any pickles etc.
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Haseena