Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Recipes from the Taj: Lasooni Palak (Spinach and Garlic)

Remember I told you about this book I got from my dad's friend. Its got awesome recipes, by chefs from The Taj group of hotels
Some recipes are really interesting, some too complicated to try out and some everyday recipes that work best for me...
This particular one is one of the easier recipes, with ingredients that are easily available.
Spinach is something which is on our plates at least once a week if not more and thankfully TH and the son seem to really like it

lasooni palak

Palak paneer, keerai molagutal, soppu palya and a lot more variations have been made fairly often now. I saw the lasooni palak in this book and knew I had to try it out. Its got a lovely texture with the puree and chopped spinach, cream and yoghurt as part of it

This one's also from the Taj at Nashik

What you need -

3 bunches spinach
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsps oil
pinch of hing / asafoetida
1 medium onion
1 tbsp chopped garlic
1 tbsp chopped ginger
1 tomato
2 green chillies
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp chilli powder
pinch of turmeric powder
3 cloves of garlic, minced and browned
puree of 2 tomatoes
1/2 cup plain beaten yoghurt
2 tsps cream
salt to taste

What you do with it -

Clean and chop the spinach. Puree two bunches by blanching it and passing it thru the blender. Keep once bunch chopped, aside
Heat oil, crackle cumin and mustard seeds. Add asafoetida, ginger, garlic and green chillies
Add onions and saute till brown
Add chopped spinach and tomatoes and cook till spinach is done and tomatoes are mushy
Add all the powdered masalas and saute
Add spinach puree and tomato puree, yoghurt and cream
Bring to a slow boil
Garnish with browned garlic
Serve hot with rotis and raita

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Podi Idli (spicy fried idlis) and Appe

Bangalore has restaurants serving south indian food at every nook and corner, small places serving fresh hot tasty idlis, variety of dosas and mixed rice variations.
Popularly called 'darshini', these are quick efficient places, where you may need to stand around a table and gobble down your food..The menus are written on a black board or in more fancy ones, displayed with colourful pictures alongside...
This reminds me of a place I had gone to with a friend, who was not too familiar with the local language and cuisine...On the menu, they had a line saying 'hot baths available' and she couldn't understand how a person could have a hot bath here !
It was really hilarious because the 'bath' here was actually a misspelt 'bhath', which means rice and 'hot baths' meant you would get hot tamarind rice, lemon rice, coconut rice, etc...

podi ildi

With so many little restaurants all over the place, I was pleasantly surprised to see 'South Indies', a very upmarket, fancy place open in Bangalore, serving vegetarian South Indian food...The first time I have ever eaten 'podi idlis' was at this place and they were really delicious...Simple to make with leftover idlis, and really tasty, its a standard snack at home now...

podi idli piece

I tend to get bored having the same type of breakfast everyday, so when I make the batter for idlis, its idlis on day 1, podi idlis with the remaining idlis, as an afternoon snack, appe/paniyarams on day 2, dosas on day 3 and if there is any batter remaining, it becomes rava dosa on day 4 !
Here's a look at the appe getting done on the pan...

appe kaili

I make my molaga podi from Usha's recipe. It turns out so good, that my MTR chutney podi has been neglected completely now

molaga podi

The idlis from Madhuram's recipe on Beyond Curries

Podi Idli

What you need -

4 idlis (these should ideally be leftover idlis, not hot ones)
2 tbsp molaga podi
1 tsp mustard seeds
a few curry leaves
2 tsp til / gingelly oil

What you do with it -

Cut the idlis into wedges or bite sized pieces
Heat the oil in a pan, add mustard seeds and curry leaves
Once the mustard splutters, add half the podi
Add the idli pieces and stir
Add the remaining podi and another tsp of oil
Fry on low heat till it gets a nice brown colour
Serve hot


2 cups idli batter
1 onion
handful of coriander leaves
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp salt

Mix all the ingredients
Heat the appe kadai / paniyaram chaati / Aebleskiver pan on a low flame
Put in a dot of oil in each cavity and swirl the pan around so the oil coats the entire cavity
Spoon in the batter into the cavity, upto 3/4th level of the cavity
Cover the pan and keep on low heat
After about 3 mins, turn each appe over and keep on heat for 1 more min

Serve with chutney, sambar, molaga podi

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Dudhi Muthias

I've tried and loved the methi muthias - whats not to love about deep-fried food anyways !
Then I had these dudhi muthias, they are healthier and something you can make more often if you are not too keen on deep frying...Its steamed, got dudhi (bottle gourd), which is extremely healthy. It is highly alkaline and helps in balancing the acidity level in the body. It contains over 95% water, rich in iron, vitamins B and C.
Agreed, its not the tastiest vegetable on its own, but in this form, its really really tasty. I realised that bottle gourd is used a lot in Gujarati cuisine and in very different, tasty snacks..Handvo is another dish that uses dudhi and its so tasty !


Its a regular snack here in Gujarati homes and I had mine with some coriander-mint chutney. My friend here told me that she generally adds leftover rice and vegetables like carrot, cabbage, methi, etc
I used some leftover rice in mine..they turned out nice and soft and really tasty
Goes great with a cup of hot tea

What you need -

1 bottle gourd grated (about 2 cups)
3/4 cup wheat flour
1/4 cup chickpea flour / besan
3 tbsp semolina / rava
1.5 tsp ginger-chilli paste
2 tsp of dhania-jeera powder (cumin & coriander powder)
1/2 - 3/4 cup cooked rice (optional)
1/2 cup curds
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
a pinch of turmeric
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 chopped coriander
2 tbsp dessicated coconut

What you do with it -

Grate the bottle gourd and keep aside
Mix the wheat flour, besan, ginger-chilli paste, dhania-jeera powder, salt, sugar, turmeric powder, cooked rice and baking soda into the bottle gourd
(If you are not using the cooked rice, use may need more flour to bind it)
Add as much rava as required to make it a soft dough
If it gets too mushy, add more rava and besan
If its too dry, add upto 1/2 cup curds
Smear some oil on your palms and roll out the dough cylindrically, about 1" thick, the length would depend on what the steamer can accomodate - the ones I made were about 5" long
Steam this for about 20 mins. I used my idli maker to steam it. You could also use a cooker, without the pressure weight
Once its done and completely cooled, cut into pieces
Heat about 2 tsp oil in a pan and add sesame seeds, mustard seeds and red chilli powder
Add the steamed muthias and fry on low heat till they turn slightly brown
Garnish with dessicated coconut and chopped coriander leaves
Enjoy with a cup of hot masala chai

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Quintessential Punjabi fare - Makki di roti, Sarson da saag

For me, it doesnt get more Punjabi than this...Move over aloo gobi and paneer makhani, here's the real signature dish of Punjab - Makki di roti, sarson da saag !

For some reason, this reminds me of Kapil Dev, the cricketer...I think in one of those old Palmolive ads, he mentions something about this and that perhaps was the first time I had heard of it..
I've heard so much about it since then and sometimes, you get a bit disappointed when you hear so much about a dish and then when you taste it, its like 'oh, this is it'...
I remember having it once, ages ago at a restaurant, but didnt think too much of it then..Maybe they got it wrong or my taste buds just weren't as developed...


Sarson / Mustard leaves are available only during winter, so this is a winter special dish. I have never seen it in the Bangalore markets, or perhaps never bothered checking, because it wasnt in my usual list of vegetable shopping...
This time I saw it in the markets in Ahmedabad and then thought I must give it a try..Sanjeev Kapoor to the rescue again - found his recipe for the roti and the saag in the set of books I told you about in my earlier post
I also got the makai/cornmeal from the local 'chakki' - the place where they grind all the flours for you

This was one delicious combination. The creamy saag was finger-licking good and makai rotis were just perfect with it.
The rotis were a first time for me and I was never too great with making rotis this way, where you need to flatten them with your palm, no rolling it out here...
I also got this 'tava', from the local potters. Its used to make bhakris, but I thought it really added a nice earthy smell and taste of the rotis...


It turned out to be such a good meal - I am definately making this again, very soon !

From Sanjeev Kapoor's books -

Makki di roti

What you need -

1.5 cups Makai ka atta / Cornmeal
1/4 cup wheat flour (optional)
1 tsp salt
oil and butter

What you do with it -

Mix cornmeal, wheat flour and salt Add lukewarm water and make a medium soft dough, it shouldn't be too sticky or too hard
Divide the dough into 10 equal proportions
Start making the rotis as soon as the dough is ready. If you wait too long, the dough harden up and the rotis tend to crack
Moisten your palm with some water and on a wet polythene sheet (I used a milk cover), flatten each into a disc, using only your palm
The size of each disc should be about 4-5 inches in diameter, not too thin
Heat the tava and add a little oil and then transfer the roti to the tava, taking care not to break it
Cook on low heat for 1 min and flip over and cook for another minute or so
Serve with a dollop of butter and hot sarson ka saag

Sarson da saag

What you need -

2 bunches fresh sarson ka saag / mustard leaves
1/2 bunch spinach leaves
1/4 bunch bathua leaves (I didnt find these, so left it out)
2 onions
big piece of ginger
6 cloves garlic
4 green chillies
2 tbsp cornmeal / makai ka atta
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp red chilli powder
2 tbp butter
salt to taste

What you do with it -

Clean, wash, drain and roughly chop the sarson, spinach and bathua leaves
You need to clean the stalks of the sarson really well, or it tends to get a little stringy
Peel wash and chop onions, ginger and garlic. Chop green chillies
Blend the cornmeal in half a cup of water
Heat oil in a pan and add onions. Saute for 2-3 mins
Add ginger, garlic, green chillies and stir fry for a bit Add red chilli powder, sarson, spinach and bathua leaves. Stir in half a cup of water and cook on medium heat for 10 mins, stirring occasionally
Mix in the blended cornmeal and cook for 5 more mins. I though this really added to the texture and taste of the saag
Cool this and grind to a coarse paste
Reheat, adding butter and salt


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