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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Aloo - Chana Chaat

The next one in the 'Chaat' series is going to be this lip-smacking aloo chana chaat that can be a wholesome meal on it's own. This can be turned into an oil-free dish if you skip the garnishing of sev and puri / papdi. Some planning is ready if you are planning to make this dish from scratch since this chaat's star ingredient is cooked garbanzo beans. In case if you have some cooked beans handy or a can of garbanzo beans lying in your pantry then it can be prepared quickly. The below recipe can just be used as a reference point. One can omit or add ingredients as per their choice. And of course the seasonings and chutneys that go into the dish depends upon one's taste buds and so use them accordingly. 

1.5 to 2 cups cooked garbanzo beans / Kabuli chana
1 potato / aloo
1 tomato (optional)
1 onion (preferably red onion.)
Salt to taste
1/4 tsp chaat masala
Black salt to taste (optional)
1 tsp lemon juice
Green chutney to taste
Sweet chutney to taste
4 to 6 crushed papdi / poories
2 to 3 tbsp. minced cilantro to garnish
Fine sev to garnish

1. Soak chana / garbanzo beans overnight and boil until tender. Drain and keep it aside. (Indians usually cook the beans in a pressure cooker to quicken the process.) Drain and rinse the beans thoroughly if using canned beans.
2. I peel the potato, cut into small cubes and cook it in the microwave adding a little water. It takes around 5 - 7 minutes to cook potato in the microwave depending upon it's strength. One can cook the potato in a pressure cooker or in a sauce pan on stove top too. Just cook until fork tender.
3. Finely chop onion. Usually red onion is used for chaats as that is the commonly available onion variety in India. However white onion can be used if you don't have red ones handy.  
4. Finely chop tomato and keep it aside. Mince cilantro finely.
5. If you are preparing chutneys, papdi/pooris and sev at home then keep them ready before assembling the chaat. Store-bought sev, papdi / pooris and chutneys can be lifesavers during time crunches. I used the store bought sev, sweet chutney and ready to fry pooris for this recipe. I haven't posted the green chutney recipe yet. I grind cilantro leaves, mint leaves, green chillies, salt and lemon juice.
Click the links below if you are looking for these recipes.
Date-Tamarind chutney 

Assembling the Chaat:
* Combine garbanzo beans, potato, onion, tomato, salt, chaat masala, black salt if using and lemon juice in a mixing bowl.
* Add green chutney and sweet chutney as per taste and mix gently.
* Divide the mixture in individual serving bowls.
* Garnish each bowl with crushed papdis / pooris, minced cilantro and sev. Add some more sweet chutney and green chutney if desired.
* This can be served as a starter at parties, an evening snack or as dinner.

This goes to BM #48, under "Chaats" theme. Check here to see what my fellow marathoners are cooking during Blogging Marath on #48.


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Biscuit - Corn Chaat

This recipe is inspired from a 'Khana Khazana' episode, aired long ago. The idea of using a non fried base like these salty crackers makes this chaat more attractive and guilt free. The crackers add a nice, crispy texture to this chaat and this chaat variation make great one bite snacks. These can be assembled in a jiffy, if you have chutneys and sev ready beforehand or using store-bought stuff.

15 round salty biscuits (I used Ritz crackers.)
1 boiled and mashed potato
1/4 blanched corn kernels
1 onion, finely chopped (Preferably red onion but I used white onion here.)
Salt to taste
Chaat masala as required
2 tsp. red garlic chutney (I didn't use any.)
3 to 4 tsp. green chutney (Keep it on thicker side.)
2 to 3 Tbsp. date -tamarind chutney
1/4 cup chopped raw mango
1/4 to 1/2 cup fine sev
1/4 tsp red chilli powder
Minced cilantro to garnish
* Mix mashed potato, corn, onion, salt and chaat masala. (I added red chili powder also in this step.)
* Arrange biscuits / crackers in a single layer on a serving platter. Place about a tbsp.of potato mixture and 1 tsp. of mango pieces over each biscuit / cracker. 
* Next, spoon a little quantity of three chutneys over the mixture. (The quantity of chutneys used depends upon one's preference.) Finally garnish with sev, red chili powder (if it was not used in the first step) and cilantro.
* Serve immediately. 

Click the links below for the recipes.
Date-Tamarind Chutney'
Sev (Omit carom seeds from the recipe.)

This goes to BM #48, under "Chaats" theme. Check here to see what my fellow marathoners are cooking during Blogging Marath on #48.


Monday, January 19, 2015

Umm Ali

Umm Ali is one of the cherished desserts in the Middle East, that was supposedly originated in Egypt. This delicious bread pudding uses puff pastry or phyllo pastry or some stale bread, milk, nuts and coconut. One can use / omit whatever nuts they prefer in this recipe. The creamy bread pudding, crunchy nuts and sweetened cream - milk base, make this an irresistible treat. I came across this lighter version using croissants at Nestle website and had prepared it some time back, scaling down the ingredients to serve two. 

Umm Ali literally means mother of Ali and I came across a couple of legendary stories behind the origin of this delicious dessert. One refers to a woman named, Umm Ali who happened to be the first wife of a Sultan named Aybek. His second wife Shajar al-Durr prevented him from seeing his first wife and son and the king happily obliged. However when he got ready to marry another woman, the second wife got so jealous and raving mad that she killed him and proved that he died in his sleep. The first wife who already had a dispute with Umm Ali, got her brutally killed by Shajar's own servants. And then, she celebrated her victory by preparing this pudding and distributing it among the people of the land.

The second one, a less violent version is that it was invented during the reign of Ottoman Turks. A sultan who was on a hunting trip got hungry and stopped by a small village. Umm Ali, the best cook of the village, filled a pan with the ingredients she had - dried wheat flakes (probably leftovers from some stale bread), nuts, sultanas and coconut. She covered it with milk and sugar, put in the community oven and cooked something akin to this pudding.
Ingredients for 2 servings:
3 croissants (I used small size ones.)
1 cup water
1/4 cup condensed milk
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup whipped cream
1 tbsp. each - coconut, pistachios, almonds and raisins

* Preheat the oven to 200 deg C / 400 deg F.
* Combine croissant pieces, coconut, pistachio, almonds and raisins in a ovenproof dish. Or divide the mixture among 2 oven proof bowls if you are planning to serve two, individually. 
* Bring condensed milk, water and vanilla to a boil in a sauce pan. Pour it over the croissant mixture and set it aside for five minutes or until the croissant mixture absorbs the maximum of the liquid.
* Place whipping cream in a piping bag and pipe the cream over the mixture. (I didn't use a piping bag and just spooned the cream into the bowls.)

* Place the baking dish in the preheated oven using the grilling part of the oven and grill for 5 minutes or until the cream topping is golden in color. (I turned off the oven and forgot to remove the bowls immediately and hence the darker hue of the cream.)
* Serve it immediately.
This goes to BM #48 for under "1 Cuisine - 3 Dishes" - Arabian Cuisine theme. Check here to see what my fellow marathoners are cooking during Blogging Marath on #48.


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Mujaddara ~ Arabian Lentil - Rice Pilaf

Mujaddara was on my 'to do' list when I participated in 'Around the World' themed blogging marathon last September. However some other tempting dishes took precedence and this humble treat had to wait up until now. Don't judge this simple yet flavorful Arabian pilaf by my presentation above there. I was hungry and there was zero sunlight when I captured that image. :)

Mujaddara is the Arabian version of rice-lentil pilaf sans vegetables and is generously garnished with crisp fried onion slices. It is alternatively also called as mudardara (Lebanon) and majadra (Israel). Some regions keep the dish to the basic minimum using just rice, lentils, onion and salt, while some flavor the dish with cumin and pepper. This simple one pot meal is very popular in Arabian countries and I now completely understand why. It is delicious, healthy and a filling meal on it's own. It is one of those dishes that prove that you can create magic even using the ingredients from a humble pantry. 

The first recorded meat version of this recipe was found in an Iraqi book, during 13th century. The basic vegetarian version was mostly considered a poor man's food since it is a frugal meal. Mujaddara is equally popular among Arab Christian and Jewish communities. Traditionally, Jewish ate this dish twice a week while it is eaten during Lent by Christians. (From wiki.) Mujaddara is served along with yogurt and plain cucumber salad or as a part of an Arabic feast.

Ingredients: (3 servings)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp cumin powder 
1/4 cup brown lentils / green lentils (I used brown lentils)
1/2 cup long grain rice
Freshly cracked pepper to taste
Salt to taste

1. Heat oil in a pan and add onion slices. Stir onion slices to coat them well with the oil. Spread the onion slices evenly in the pan and keep stirring them intermittently until they brown. (I cooked them on medium flame). Don't allow the onions to burn. If they appear dry, sprinkle some salt or add a little oil / water and continue. Remove the fried onions with a slotted spoon and keep aside.
2. To the same pan, add cumin seeds. (If there is no oil left in the pan, add a tsp of oil and heat it before adding cumin seeds.) When cumin seeds start to brown, add cumin powder and pepper powder to the pan and stir. Then add rinsed rice and lentil mixture, half of the fried onion mixture and about 1 cup water + 2 tbsp water (I used the same measuring cups used for the dry ingredients and didn't add the fried onions in this step).
3. Cover and let cook on low medium flame until done. (I poured the mixture into a steel container and steamed in the pressure cooker without the whistle on. The brown lentils were turning mushy when cooked in the pressure cooker even for 1 whistle and so I choose to just steam it without using the whistle. One can transfer the contents to the rice cooker as well and cook. When properly done, the rice must be cooked well and the lentils should still hold the shape.)
4. Add salt to the cooked mujaddara and just stir to mix. Garnish with fried onions and serve with plain yogurt if desired.

This goes to BM #48 for under "1 Cuisine - 3 Dishes" - Arabian Cuisine theme. Check here to see what my fellow marathoners are cooking during Blogging Marath on #48.


Saturday, January 17, 2015

Ezogelin Soup ~ Turkish Red Lentil Soup

This red lentil soup happens to be one of the traditional and common soups in Turkish cuisine and goes by the name Ezogelin soup. The origin of the soup is attributed to Ezo, a legendary beauty and an unhappy bride from Gaziantep in the Southeastern Turkey region, while the word 'gelin' means bride in Turkish. This soup is supposedly one of her favorite dishes and she lovingly used to cook it for her family. Irrespective of whether the Ezo story is true or not, this is one simple, home style dish that everyone in the family going to love. I served this delicious and hearty soup with some bread croutons.

Ingredients: (2 servings)
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 small tomato, finely chopped
About 6 cups vegetable stock / water
1/4 cup red lentils (Masoor Dal)
2 Tbsp. rice (I used brown rice.)
2 tbsp. fine bulgur
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp Crushed red pepper flakes 
Salt &  pepper to taste
1 tsp dried mint
Lemon wedges to serve
* Heat oil in a medium sized pot, preferably a non stick one. Add onion and fry until it softens. Next add garlic and cook for about a couple of minutes. Then add tomatoes and cook until it turns mushy. Ad tomato paste and saute for few seconds.
* Now add about 3 cups of vegetable stock / water, lentils, rice and bulgur and cook on low medium flame until rice and lentils are cooked well, stirring intermittently. The liquid tends to get absorbed by the grains while cooking and the grains may stick to the bottom of the pan and burn if attention is not paid. Keep adding extra liquid as needed. (I added about 3 cups more.)
* Add mint and seasonings to the pot. Mix well, taste and adjust the seasonings if needed. Cook until the soup reaches a creamy consistency or coarsely puree in a blender. It took me around 30 minutes to cook the lentils and grains.
* Divide the mixture in two soup bowls and serve with lemon wedges.

This goes to BM #48 for 'Arabian Cuisine' under "1 Cuisine - 3 Dishes" theme. Check here to see what my fellow marathoners are cooking during Blogging Marathon #48.