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Monday, March 30, 2009

A Nut Gone Bad

Some times when we break open a coconut, we find that it has gone bad and we don't know what to do with it. My aunt gave me this wonderful recipe to make delicious dosas from the bad nut. All you need is raw rice, toor dal, tamarind and dried red chillies.
This dosa can be eaten as breakfast item or as a substitute for the usual dal-chawal dinner.

Ingredients :

Rice : 1 cup
Toor dal (Split Yellow Lentils) : 1/2 cup
Coconut(bad) : 1/2 no.
Tamarind pulp : 2 tsp
Red chilies : 6 -8 nos.
Salt : As required

Method :
Soak the rice and dal separately for 2-3 hours. Grate the coconut. Then drain the dal and rice, add the rest of the ingredients and grind to a coarse paste. Add water if needed to make dosa batter. Season to taste.
Heat an iron griddle on medium flame and add a teaspoon of oil to it. Let it heat and sprinkle a few drops of water on the hot griddle. Let the oil sputter, which will result in the oil coating the griddle evenly. Now add a ladle of batter to the griddle and spread this with the back of the ladle into an oval shape. Spoon a few drops of oil around the dosa and let it cook. Now turn the dosa over, add a few drops of oil around the side and let it cook. Serve the dosa hot with a chutney of your choice or with tomato ketchup.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Teekha Tawa Batata (Spicy Griddle-sauteed Potatoes)

There are a few dishes that become closely associated with our childhood. They evoke memories that transport us to simpler times: times when things were simpler, relationships were easier and our loves and hates were frequent but fleeting.

I still remember Saturday afternoons, when I used to come home from school, glad to be greeted at the door by my mom. As she was a working mom, these occasions were special and therefore treasured. She knew I loved her special potato tawa bhaji and used to make it on those days so I could enjoy it. The thali with steaming white rice, yellow Dal and the slightly burnt crispy potato bhaji was a combination that never failed to lift my spirits. No matter how bad the day might have been, finding mom home, making the potato bhaji was enough to make my day.

Life is indeed a series of such small pleasures. A steaming home-cooked meal, a cup of hot coffee on a rain-soaked evening, the smell of earth after the first showers, finding a good book after rummaging through stacks of used books - there isn’t much to compare these pleasures.

I remember the first time I made this dish by myself - my mom was ill and she had asked me to cook lunch for both of us. I was scared but also eager. I had watched my mom cook a thousand times and helped her in the kitchen as I could. But this was different. I had to make everything from scratch and not make a mistake. I kept running out to where mom sleeping and asking her every little detail that hadn’t seemed so important till now - how much water should I add to the Dal & how much in the cooker, how long should I cook the potatoes, how much salt is just right and how much chilli powder is too much. The questions never stopped and finally the meal was ready. I eagerly awaited mom’s verdict. She took the first mouthful and made a face. I was heartbroken….thank god, it was because the food was too hot. I finally gathered enough courage to ask her how the dish fared. She replied, quite oblivious to my mental state,” Very good! Tastes just like mine.” My heart did a summersault and I was hooked on cooking.

Now the recipe

Ingredients :

Potatoes : 8 medium sized

Groundnut Oil : 3 Tbsp.

Mustard Seeds : 2 Tsp.

Asafoetida (Hing) : a pinch

Turmeric Powder : 1/4 Tsp.

Red Chilli Powder : 2 Tsp.

Salt : To taste

Sugar : a pinch

Method :

Boil the potatoes till done and peel them. Cut the potatoes into 1/2″ (inch) dices. Rub the pieces with salt and sugar.

On an iron griddle, heat oil. Then add the mustard seeds, asafoetida and turmeric powder. When the seeds crackle, add the chilli powder. Now add the potatoes to this mixture and toss them with a spatula. Make sure the potatoes are evenly coated with the masala. Now spread the potatoes in a layer on the griddle and let the potatoes cook on medium flame till crispy on one side. Now turnover the potatoes and let them become crispy on the other side. If the potatoes burn a little, don’t worry. It gives a nice, smoky flavour to the dish.