Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Phaggila Phodyo (Fritters)

I had never seen this vegetable, may have eaten in as fritters and never knew what it really looked like, but when I did see this in the market in Bangalore, my cousin insisted I pick it up...These are called Kantola in Hindi and Phaggil in Konkani, no idea what its called as in other languages..


Easy, simple and crisp, not too oily, not too much batter, just perfect snacky fritters...

I wasnt sure I would like them with the jagged edges, but once they are done, it really didnt matter...And if you think its like bitter gourd, don't !! Its not bitter at all...

Cut Cantola

Shallow fried phaggil phodyos ready to be eaten...


What you need -

10-12 kantola / phaggil
2 tsp chilli powder
salt to taste
a pinch of asafoetida
2 heaped tbsp rava / semolina

What you do with it -

Wash the kantolas and slice
Mix the salt, chilli powder and asafoetida and apply to the slices
Keep aside till the water from the pieces absorbs the masala
Dip the pieces in the rava and then shallow fry

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Surna Koot (Konkani style Yam pickle)

When I was visiting my mom in Bangalore, my aunt was visiting too.
She is a 'reuse' specialist and I dont mean that in a bad way at all...She makes quilts from left over bits of cloth, laddoos from whats remaining after she makes ghee at home, knits mobile holders from little strands of whats was used for some other dress...She is truly amazing in her art of reuse. Nothing, as in absolutely nothing goes waste in her hands...
This post is dedicated to my dear aunt...


From my list of requests, my aunt made this super duper surna koot. It spicy, tangy and goes with anything...this is the real finger licking good stuff !!
She also made an absolutely heavenly baked fish dish called 'hugga'. It was too good to resist and there was no time to photograph or write the recipe down.
It was just licked clean off the plates...She is visiting soon, so hopefully, I will get the recipe then.
She also made some canttola fritters, which will appear soon on this blog...

From her Konkani instructions, I had to write down this recipe and at times, it got so difficult to translate it, because we use some really cool words like 'khalkhali', 'charchari' which actually describes the sound of the yam when it is crisp enough - now, how was i supposed to get that across in English ?
This is what the fried yam looks like..You have to make do with the lack of 'sounds' here...

Fried Yam

What you need -

For the masala-
16 red chillies
2 tsps mustard seeds
1/4 tsp asafoetida
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
tamarind the size of a lemon
1 tsp oil
salt to taste

1/2 kg yam

What you do with it -

For the masala-
Heat oil in a kadai and add asafoetida till it simmers
Add red chillies, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds and fry till the mustard seeds splutter
Grind the tamarind and red chillies first and then add the rest to it and grind to a fine paste. Add salt
This is the base masala and can be stored in the 'fridge.

Peel the yam and cut into really small pieces
Put these pieces in a colander and run it under water. Do not touch the yam with water - it can cause a real itch on your hands
Fry the yam pieces in oil - you can deep fry the pieces or fry with lesser oil on a small flame, till it gets really crisp

Mix the required amount of masala with the fried yam. This masala would be a little too much for 1/2 kg yam, so store the masala and use with fried potato, as a variation

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Paneer cutlets with a twist

My uncle's retired from the army now and during his days there, I have seen the most well presented food at all the fancy dinners that people hosted.
I think each dinner outdid the other with the variety of food and the absolutely amazing presentation. My aunt is an awesome cook and has hosted many many lovely dinners.

Everything about army life fascinated me, the lovely cantonment areas in every corner of India, the lifestyle, the parties, the very polite and classy army wives in their beautiful sarees, the chivalrous men in their smart uniforms and gleaming polished shoes, of course, topped the list !!
I think I was in school when this serial called Fauji (ShahRukh Khan's first acting stint I think) was on tv and I simply adored people in the army even more after seeing that !!

We spent most of our vacations travelling to the places they were posted to, and thats how I've managed to see most of India and have some of the best memories of my childhood from all these holidays...

I could go on about this, but I better stop here..This recipe is from my aunt. She made it when I was in Delhi last week, and I loved it...


The paneer in Delhi of course is unquestionably good and in these cutlets, they were so super soft...it almost melted in your mouth...
The idea of using peas as the coating, I thought, was really novel and added so much to the taste and colour...

Paneer Peas Pakoda

What you need -

3/4th measure fresh / frozen green peas
1/4 measure chana dal
1/2" piece ginger
3 cloves of garlic
2 green chillies
8-10 curry leaves
2 onions chopped fine
1/2 cup coriander leaves
200 gm paneer (the freshest you can lay your hands on)
salt to taste

What you do with it -

Thaw the peas if using the frozen ones
Soak chana dal in water for about 2 hours
Peel the ginger and garlic
Grind together the peas, chana dal, ginger, green chillies, garlic and curry leaves into a coarse paste, without adding water
Add the chopped onions, salt and chopped coriander leaves to this paste
Cut the paneer lengthwise into bite sized pieces
Coat it with the peas-chana dal paste
Shallow fry on a low flame till it turns brown

Serve with mint / coriander chutney

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Avrekai Masala

After my little one was born, I was at my mom's place for about 2-3 months and I really value all the help I got from my mom during that time...
Its just so overwhelming when you have a baby- you are suddenly responsible for this tiny little being who is incapable of doing anything other that the pee-poop-cry-sleep routine.
My mom was like the super woman, handling me, the baby, home and cooking. It did really get too much, so we arranged for a cook in a few days..

Mrs D made the most awesome 'bisi bele bhath' (rice, dal and lot of veggies in a spicy masala, for those who don't know - a speciality from Karnataka), avrekai masala and a super duper mysore style rasam.
It was a bit spicier than the regular food I was used to, but after months of eating bland food, I seemed to really relish it. These three recipes have been noted down in my recipe book, and made many times over at home...

Avrekai is a big favorite in Bangalore and during the winters, which is the season for avrekai, you will find it in akki rotti, uppitu, sambar, huli, rava idli...
There is this interesting thing that happens in some homes in the older areas on Bangalore - the skin of the avrekai is kept outside the house and apparently the more the number of people stamp over it, the tastier the dish gets !!

This is made best with fresh avrekai. If you cant find that, try it with fresh peas or any other bean soaked overnight and cooked. I tried this in Ahmedabad with what they called 'daano', which i conveniently decided is avrekai.

What you need -

2 cups peeled avrekai (I am guessing this is navy beans)
3 onions
3 green chillies
5 pepper corns
1 tomato
1 tsp coriander seed/ dhania powder
4 cloves of garlic
1" piece ginger
1/2 cup coriander leaves
1/2 coconut grated
salt to taste

What you do with it -

Cook the avrekai in a pot of or water or the cooker(2 whistles) or in the microwave for about 7-8 mins
Cut the onions, green chillies, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, coriander leaves
Heat 2 tsps of oil in a kadai and fry the onions, green chillies, ginger, garlic and pepper corns till the onions turn translucent
Then add the remaining ingredients except tomatoes and fry for 3-4 mins
Grind this to a coarse paste
Add the avrekai to this paste, add salt and bring to a boil


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