Monday, 24 February 2014

Dhokla (Indian Snack)

A typical Gujarati Meal of Dhokla, Khichadi,Kadi, vegetables,Roti, Papad and Chutney
Dhokla is a Gujarati savory made from rice and mixture of split pulses. It is very healthy and nourishing snack. A typical Gujarati meal consists of Dhokla, Farsan, Khichadi, kadi, aloo sabji, puri/roti and chutney. Of course gulab jamun cannot be missed as sweet. Another variation of Dhokla is made from besan (Split black gram flour) which is quite often mistaken for Dhokla, it is actually called Khaman. It can be made instantly without the hassle of soaking, grinding and fermenting. But the taste of Dhokla and Khaman are absolutely different and both have a their own place in the platter and taste buds. I always used to make Khaman as I did not know how to make Dhokla. In Ethiopia I learnt it from Sefali my wonderful young friend from Gujarat. Now I can fulfill my desire to have Dhokla also. My  thanks to Sefali. 

Preparation Time: 15 min. (Soaking and fermentation time not included)
Cooking Time: 15-20 minutes each batch
Servings: 30-40 Medium size Dhokla pieces

Ingredients Required For Making Dhokla:
(Measurements should be done with the same cup)
  • 3 cups rice
  • 1/2 cup Split black gram (Chana dal)
  • 1/2Cup Dhuli Urd Dal
  • 1 Cup Thick Curd (200gm)
  • 4-6 Green Chilies
  • 2 Inch Ginger piece
  • I Pinch of Asafoetida
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 Teaspoon ghee (2-3ml)
  • 2 Tea spoon (4-5 ml)/cooing oil
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Cooking Soda (soda bi Carbonate)/ENO/Fruit salt
  • 10-12 Black Pepper Seeds
  • 1 Tea spoon cumin Powder
  • 1 Tea spoon Red chili Powder
  • 1/4Teaspoon Turmeric Powder (Optional)
  • 3-4 Teaspoons White Sesame Seeds
  • 3-4 Sprigs of Cilantro
  • 8-10 Curry leafs
Directions For Making Dhokla:
  • Wash Rice and both the dal in flowing water till water comes out clean.
  • Make coarse powder of pepper seeds.
  • Make paste of ginger piece.
  • Wash and pat dry coriander sprigs and cut fine.
  • Mix the washed rice and pulses and soak them for 6-8 hours.
  • Drain all water and grind to fine paste using as little water as possible.
  • Cover the paste and keep aside for 4-5 hours in summers (the temperature is high) for 6-8 hours in winters (the temperature is low). The batter should rise due to fermentation.
Fermented Paste of Dal and rice in Curd
  • Fill the container of double boiler half with water and keep for heating on high flame. When the water boils then lower the flame.
  • Beat the batter with a fork/spoon and add:
    • Curd
    • 2 Teaspoon oil
    • Turmeric
    • Ginger paste
    • Green chili pieces
    • Coarsely ground Pepper
    • Salt
    • Sugar
  • Mix nicely.
  • Add soda bi carbonate (eating soda)/ENO/fruit salt and mix with a fork/spoon. Batter will start becoming fluffy due to carbon-di-oxide coming out of soda-bi-carb/ENO/fruit salt.
  • The batter should be like cake batter neither too thick nor too thin, it should be pourable like cake batter.

Fermented Dhokla Paste Mixed With Spices
  • Immediately transfer the batter to the oiled plate of double boiler of Dhokla maker. Sprinkle one teaspoon red chili powder and cumin powder. Keep the plate with batter in the Dhokla making container with water boiling in it.
Plate of Double Boiler Oiled
Dhokla Batter in the Plate of Double Boiler
Plate With Dhokla Batter Placed In Double Boiler
  • Cover and cook on low heat for 10-15 minutes. Keep checking by poking a dry stick/needle in the Dhokla mixture. If it comes out clean then the Dhokla is cooked otherwise cook till it comes out clean
Steaming Dhokla Ready, Before being Cut to Pieces
  • Remove the Dhokla plate with cooked Dhokla from boiler and let it cool. 
  • Cut to pieces of required shape and size.
Dhokla Cut To Pieces After Being Cut To Pieces

  • Heat ghee/oil in a wok and when it is hot add curry leaves and sesame seeds. Cook till the sesame seeds splutter.
  • Add cooked Dhokla and mix by turning them upside down carefully.
    Dhokla Pieces Being Tempered With Sesame Seeds
  • Remove tempered Dhokla from wok and garnish with finely cut cilantro and serve hot/cold with coriander-mint chutney.
  • Dhokla in Gujarat is very important side dish. It also is very healthy, nourishing and light snack.
    Sefali with Dhokla
A typical Gujarati Meal of Dhokla, Khichadi,Kadi, vegetables,Roti and Chutney
  • Depending upon the temperature change the time for which the paste of pulses and rice is kept for fermentation. The idea is that batter should be nicely fermented.
  • Check the sharpness of green chilies before adding and increase/decrease the amount according to your taste and the sharpness of chilies.
  • Do not use ghee in solid state if it is being added to batter. Better add oil keep ghee for tempering only.
  • If double boiler of Dhokla is not available oil any steel plate with edges and keep it on a broad mouthed container, do not cover with flat cover which will touch the batter when it rises while cooking, with water and cook.
  • Curd should be thick else the batter will become thin.
Suggested Variations:
  • Finely cut green chilies can be added to tempering.
  • Green chilies can be replaced with flakes/powder of red chilies.
  • Turmeric can be avoided to get white color Dhokla.
  • Idli maker can be used to make round shape Dhokla.
  • Batter can be divided to three parts, to one part add turmeric, to second part add paste of coriander leafs (Cilantro leafs) and let the third part be white. Put the batter in three layers in the oiled plate and cook to get three layered Dhokla.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Mushroom-Do-Pyaja (Indian Savory Of Mushroom)


Mushroom-do-pyaja is a preparation of Mushroom with double the amount of onions. I got a request from one of reader Saagi to blog how to prepare Mushroom-do-pyaja, Due to my preoccupation with domestic responsibilities I could prepare and post it now. Saagi I hope you will find the recipe easy to make and satisfactory. To begin with I want to tell that Mushrooms do not impart much flavor to the gravy but get over whelmed with the flavor of spices and herbs if added in excess thus do not think in the same line as making mutton-do-pyaja, spices added to the gravy enhance the taste of mutton. Secondly mushrooms are never cooked for a long time as they lose the juiciness and become chewy. Mushroom-do-pyaja can be had with roti/chapati/parantha/nan. I love it best with Lachcha parantha.

Preparation Time: 10-15 minutes
Cooking Time: 20-25 minutes
Servings: 4 Large Servings

Ingredients For Making Mushroom-Do-Pyaja:
  • 200 gm. Mushrooms
  • 400 gm Onions
  • 1 Medium size Tomato/3 Teaspoon tomato puree
  • 1 Teaspoon Ginger Paste
  • 1 Teaspoon Garlic paste
  • 1/2Teaspoon Red chili Powder
  • 1/4Teaspoon Turmeric powder
  • 2 Teaspoon Fresh cream/canned cream
  • 3-4 Teaspoon Milk.
  • Salt to taste
  • 10 ml. Olive oil/any cooking oil.
Directions For Making Mushroom-Do-Pyaja:
  • Wash mushrooms in flowing water and dry with a cloth.
Cleaned and dried Mushrooms
  • Cut the washed dried mushrooms to big pieces.
Mushroom cut to pieces
  • Make paste of tomato if you are not using puree.
  • Cut 200 gm (half of the onions) to thin long pieces.
  • Cut the remaining 200 gm. onions to small pieces.
  • Take 5 ml. of oil in a thick bottom wok and heat on high flame. When the oil is hot add 200 gm of onion cut to small pieces.
Onion being cooked on low flame
  • Cook on low flame till it becomes brown in color. It may take 10-15 min.
  • Take it out on a plate and allow to cool.
Onion cooked to brown color
  • Make paste of them using as little water as possible.
Paste of brown-cooked Onion
  • In the same wok add 2-3 ml. of oil and heat. When the oil is hot add 200 gm of slices of onions and cook on low flame till light brown in color. Do not let the slices of onion to become dark as pieces of onion were done.
Sliced onions being sauteed
  • When the slices of onions become light brown add ginger and garlic paste and cook on low flame with constant stirring. The ginger, garlic paste will stick to the bottom do not worry try scraping it slowly. 
Ginger-garlic paste added to cooked sliced onion
Slices Onion and Ginger-garlic Masala ready for cooked onion paste
  • After 1-2 minutes of cooking the ginger and garlic paste will be cooked, add the paste of cooked onion pieces. Mix nicely.
  • The moisture of the paste will loosen the ginger, garlic paste from the wok bottom.
  • Cook the mixture for 4-5 minutes.
  • Add
    • Salt
    • Red chili powder
    • Turmeric
Salt and spices added to Onion-garlic-ginger paste
  • Mix nicely and cook for 2-3 minutes on low flame with constant stirring.
Onion Masala ready for Mushrooms
  • Add mushroom pieces and mix nicely so that mushroom pieces get coated with the masala nicely.
Mushrooms Cooked in Onion Masala
  •  Add tomato puree and mix.
Tomato Puree added
  • Cook with turning the mixture occasionally for 5 minutes on medium heat / flame.
  • Add cream and milk and mix.
Cream/Milk added after Tomato Puree gets cooked
  • Cover and cook on low flame for just one minutes. Mushroom-do-pyaja is ready.
Mushroom-Do-Pyaja ready to be served
  • Remove from wok the cooked Mushroom-do-pyaja in a serving bowl.
  • Garnish as per your taste and likings.
  • Serve hot with roti/chapati/paranthas.
  • While purchasing mushrooms make sure they are firm, white and fresh. Limp, old mushrooms will spoil the dish.
  • Do not cut thin and small pieces of mushrooms. If the mushroom is large then cut it to six pieces else four. Small ones to two pieces only.
  • Never cook mushrooms for a very long time they will become chewy.
  • This dish tastes best when cooked either in olive oil.
  • Never add too may herbs and spices to mushroom preparations they have very delicate flavor.
  • If mushroom preparation is not being served immediately and will be heated before serving then cook it for 2 minutes less than given in the recipe so that when heated the mushrooms retain their firmness and juiciness.
  • Every gas stove/cooking range have different flow of gas at low/medium/high so do change the timing accordingly .
Suggested Variations:
  • Cream can be replaced with whole cream milk.
  • After switching off the heat little amount of Kasoori methi can be added.
  • If you like red color in this dish then add 1/2teaspoon of Kashmiri mirch powder which imparts color but not spiciness. Do not use artificial colors they are not good for health.
  • Change the amount of red chili powder as per your taste and the spiciness of your red chili powder.
  • Red chili powder can be replaced with 1:1 ratio of red chili powder and garam masala.
  • If you are wanting more gravy then change the amount of onions cut to pieces and browned and made to paste to 300 gm. and slice to thin pieces only 100 gm.
  • Instead of making paste of half the amount of onion, all onion can be cut to 1 inch piece and sauteed to transparent state then spices and mushrooms can be added and cooked. This will give the non-gravy, dryish version of Mushroom-do-pyaja.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Rasam (A sweet and Sour soup)

Rasam is a sweet and sour soup made all over southern part of India as main course. It is taken with rice/Vada/Idli. I love taking it as soup. Rasam is light to digest and has wonderful flavor of garlic, Curry leaves and spices. Garlic Curry leaves not only add flavor but have tremendous medicinal values and all spices (cardamoms, black pepper, Cumin, Coriander, Fenugreek seeds.. ) have essential oils good for digestion and cough and cold. Tamarind and jaggery when boiled in it adds to the medicinal value. Tamarind when taken raw is bad for throat and also causes acidity but when boiled it acts as medicine for cough and cold. Jaggery apart adding sweet taste also is good when boiled. I can vouch for the effectiveness of this Rasam’s effectiveness in cough/cold/sinusitis because my daughter-in law made it for me when I was at my wits end for getting rid of sinusitis. One glasses of piping hot rasam and I started feeling better and in three days was cured of my trauma. What else one wants if one gets tasty remedies instead of drops and syrups. It acts as a very good appetizer also. Rasam an Indian sweet and sour soup is very easy to make and can be made and stored in fridge for 1-2 days.
Preparation Time: 20 min. (Including making Rasam Masala and Tamarind Pulp)
Cooking Time: 15-20 min
Servings: 800 ml. Rasam

Ingredients Required:
For making Rasam (Sweet and Sour Soup):
  • 50 gm. Tamarind (ripe seedless)
  • 50 gm. Jaggery 
  • 1 Teaspoon Cumin Seeds (Jeera)
  • 1 Teaspoon Mustard Seeds (Rai/sarson)
  • 10 curry Leaves (Kadi Patta/sweet neem)
  • 10-12 Cloves of Garlic
  • 3-4 Whole Red chilies
  • 1 Medium size finely cut tomato (Optional)
  • 2 Table Spoons Rasam Powder
  • 1 Lt. Water
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 ml. Cooking Oil
For Making Rasam Powder:
  • 50 gm. Tur Dal (Split red gram)
  • 8-10 Cloves (Lawang)
  • 10-12 Black pepper seeds (Kali mirch dana)
  • 1 Teaspoon Fenugreek seeds (Methi)
  • 8 Teaspoon Coriander seeds (Sabut Dhaniya)
  • 5 Teaspoon Cumin seeds (Jeera)
  • 1 Inch Cinnamon stick
  • 4-5 Black Cardamom
  • 2-3 Whole red chilies

Directions For Making Rasam:
Making Rasam Powder:
  • Roast Tur dal on low flame till golden brown
  • Roast Dhaniya, Jeera and Methi individually (Not together) till golden brown on low flame.
  • Roast lawang till it changes color to whitish grey on the surface.
  • Pound the black cardamom to split the cover then roast them for one min. along with kali mirch (Black pepper).
  • Roast Whole deseeded chili to brown color.
  • Let the roasted ingredients cool and then grind all of them together to fine powder and store it in an airtight container use as and when required.
Making Rasam:
  • Soak tamarind in 100 ml. water for 10 minutes then boil for ten minutes.
  • Cool boiled tamarind. Mash and sieve to take out tamarind pulp.
  • Add water to the remaining tamarind and mash and sieve; add this tamarind water to tamarind pulp. Tamarind extract is ready.
  • Cut garlic very fine.
  • Take oil in a thick bottom wok and heat till smoking hot.
  • Add
    • Mustard seeds
    • Cumin seeds
    • Curry leaves
    • Whole Red chilies
    • Finely cut garlic.
  • Cook till garlic is golden brown in color.
autted Spices Ready for Adding Tomatoes
  • Add finely cut tomato.
Tomatoes Being Cooked With Sauteed Spices
  • Cook on low flame till tomato pieces become soft and mushy.
  • Add 3 Spoon of Rasam powder and mix (See tips). Cook for one minute with continuous stirring.
Rasam Masala Added to Cooked Tomato spices mixture
  • Add
    • Tamarind extract
    • Jaggery
    • Salt
Tamarind Extract and Jaggery added to cokked Tomato and spices mixture
  • Boil for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add remaining 900 ml. water
  • Boil for 10 min with occasional stirring
  • Yummy Rasam is ready.
Rasam Ready after boiling for 10 minutes
  • Enjoy Rasam as soup/with rice/idli/vada.
  • Rasam is a wonderful home remedy. Take one teacup full this rasam every 4 hours during  cough/cold/indigestion it is extremely helpful.
  • Do not roast dal, coriander jeera all together as each take different time.
  • Always roast at low temperature for best results.
  • Add rasam powder one spoon at a time and taste you may like to increase /decrease the amount according to your taste.
  • Amount of jaggery can be increased/decreased according to the taste.
  • Those who do not take garlic can avoid it but the taste and medicinal value will not be exactly same.
  • More the curry leaves and garlic better the taste and medicinal values.
Suggested Variations:
  • If Rasam is to be had with rice/vada/idli then reduce the amount of water to 700ml. to make slightly thicker rasam.
  • Rasam can be garnished with finely cut fresh cilantro (Dhaniya patta) or tempered with curry leaves and red chili pieces sautéed in oil.
  • When taken with rice/idli/vada grated fresh coconut can be used to garnish to give it a coconutty twist.
  • 20-25 curry leaves can be roasted and ground to powder along with other roasted ingredients.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake
Carrot Cake
A yummy yummy cake with wonderful flavor, color and texture is also very healthy due to nutrients and fibers added by carrots. For me it is a must make in winters when the carrots are red, juicy and sweet. Though in the recipe I have used refined flour (All-purpose flour), this cake can be made using whole wheat flour/ 1:1 ratio of whole wheat flour and refined flour. The time taken for baking depends upon amount of egg white in eggs; juiciness of carrots and type of oven so after 15-20 minutes of baking the cake rises and top layer becomes light brown. Keep checking for baking state by poking the center of the cake with a long clean dry needle. Clean needle indicates the cake is baked.

Preparation Time: 20-30 minutes
Baking Time: 40-50 minutes
Ingredients For Making Carrot Cake:
  • 200 gm. Carrots
  • 200 gm. Refined Flour (Maida)
  • 150 gm. Sugar for cake
  • 200 gm White butter/Nutrelite Butter (Chilled)
  • 4 Medium size Eggs
  • 100 ml. Golden syrup.
  • 1/4Teaspoon Cinnamon Powder
  • 1/2Teaspoon Eating Soda
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
Directions For Making Carrot Cake:
  • Prepare baking dish by coating it with oil then dusting with maida or lining it with butter paper.
Golden Syrup
Making Batter of Cake:
  • Mix
    • Maida
    • Baking powder
    • Eating Soda
    • Cinnamon powder
  • Sieve through a fine sieve three /four times to make sure even distribution of ingredients.
  • Grind sugar to fine powder.
  • Wash, pat dry and grate carrots.
Grated Carrot
  • Separate egg yolk from egg white.
  • Beat egg yolk to smoothness.
  •  Beat egg white till foamy with stiff peaks.
Egg white Beaten To stiff peaky Foam
  • Cut the butter to small pieces and beat till smooth.
  • Add sugar and beat till smooth and creamy mass is formed.
Sugar and Nutrelite Butter beaten to creamy smoothness
  • Add egg yolk one tea spoon at a time and beat.
  • When all egg yolk is added the mixture should be beaten till smooth creamy light mass is formed.
After adding Egg yolks
  • Mix grated carrots and prepared refined flour mixture. The carrots should get coated with flour else they will settle at the bottom.
Grated Carrots mixed with flour
  • Add golden syrup and mix nicely.
  • Add carrot and flour mixture to egg yolk butter and sugar mixture. Mix with light hand. Do not beat just swirl while mixing.
  • Add foamy beaten egg white all at one go and mix with light hand by swirling action. This will give smooth frothy uniform batter.
Batter of Carrot Cake
Baking The Cake:
  • Pour the batter in baking dish and pat it from sides of dish to level the batter.
  • Bake in preheated oven at 160 o C for 10 minutes.
Cake rising after 10 minutes of baking
  • Increase the temperature to 180o C and bake for another 15-20 minutes.
  • Keep checking for the baking state pf the cake by poking a clean dry wooden/metallic object at the center of cake right up to the bottom.
After 25  minutes of Baking
  • Clean needle indicates that the cake is baked. Switch off the oven and remove the cake in baking dish from oven and cover lightly (Not air tight) with a thin cotton cloth or butter paper. The above given timings may vary depending upon the juiciness of the carrots, Size of eggs and type of oven. So keep checking every 5 minutes after first 15 minutes of baking. 
Carrot Cake baked after 35 min. of Baking
  • Remove the butter paper with which the cake was covered.Put a plate on the baking dish with cake and invert the dish on the plate. Pat lightly on the base of baking dish with cake. Cake will come out cleanly on the plate.
    Cake Inverted on plate and removed from baking dish
  •  Cut to pieces when at room temperature. Serve Carrot cake with caramel/vanilla ice cream. I love it plain and simple with a cup of hot tea.
Carrot Cake
  • Add egg yolk slowly with continuous beating to avoid curdling of creamy mixture.
  • Prepare baking dish, caramel/golden syrup before starting the batter.
  • The quantity of eggs can be increased / decreased depending on the size.
  • Mix carrots and refined flour mix just before adding because the moisture in carrots starts reacting with baking soda and eating soda.
  • After adding golden syrup add egg white immediately but do not beat the mixture for mixing just swirl the egg white in it for mixing.
  • Preferably do not bake the cake from the top. Use only bottom heating and side heating. Keep a small bowl with 150 ml of water at the bottom shelf of oven to make the top layer moist.
  • The time taken for baking depends upon amount of egg white in eggs; juiciness of carrots and type of oven so after 15-20 minutes of baking the cake rises and top layer becomes light brown. Keep checking for baking state by poking the center of the cake with a long clean dry needle. Clean needle indicates the cake is baked.
Suggested Variations:
  • Whole wheat flour/1:1 ratio of maida and whole wheat flour can be taken instead of refined flour.
  • Chopped and flour coated walnuts/Almonds can be added to the batter before pouring it to baking dish. Cashew do not taste too great in this cake.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

How to make Golden syrup

Golden syrup

Golden syrup is used in making cakes and many other deserts. It is also called liquid caramel. Freshly made golden syrup add wonderful flavor and color to the desserts. I prefer making the golden syrup just before I make the batter of the cake. But this golden syrup can be stored in bottle in fridge and use as and when required.

Preparation Time: none
Making Time: 10 Minutes
Servings: 100 ml. Thick Golden Syrup

Ingredients Required For making Golden Syrup:
  • 100 gm. Sugar
  • 200 ml. Water
Directions For Making Golden Syrup:
  • Heat water till it boils cover and switch off the gas. Use this hot water later on.
  • Take sugar in a thick bottom container and heat on low flame. The sugar will start melting.
Sugar starts melting
  • Keep heating with regular stirring.
  • After 3-4 min the molten sugar will start becoming brown. Heat till all molten sugar becomes of dark brown color. Stirring is very important otherwise the liquid sugar at the bottom will become black and will give charred taste to caramel/golden syrup.
After Three minutes
  • When all sugar becomes of dark brown color liquified sugar will become thick also. Stop heating immediately.
After 5 minutes Ready to be added to water
  • Add the caramelized sugar to boiling water and switch off the heat. Dissolve the solid formed.Some solid will stick to the spoon and the bottom of the container do not worry.
    Heat the mixture on low heat and keep stirring till all brown solid dissolves. Boil for 2-3 minutes or till the liquid is reduced to half (10 ml). Golden syrup is ready.
Golden syrup/Caramelized Sugar
  • Cover and allow it to cool and use in desserts and cakes.
  • Store this golden syrup in bottle in fridge. It can be stored for months together.
  • If thicker golden syrup/Caramel is required boil till required thickness is achieved.
  • Never heat sugar on high heat this will cause charring of sugar.
  • For easier making of golden syrup sugar can be powdered then heated. If Powdered sugar is used then the container for heating should be big otherwise it will spill while stirring.
  • Always use thick bottom container.
  • Do not put caramelized sugar in cold water. Preheat water.
Suggested variations:
  • Powdered jaggery/1:1ratio of jaggery and sugar can be used for making caramel.
  • Cinnamon/Green cardamom powder/Nut meg/Vanilla essence can be added to golden syrup before cooling. This will give flavored caramel/Golden syrup.


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