Sunday, January 31, 2010

Onion Pakoras - Onions at its best!

I would say street cooks are magicians. With just a few basic cooking essentials like a griddle and a deep-fryer they come-up with delicious meals or snacks! Its interesting to me when I watch them assemble their mobile kitchens, and within a few mins they are all set for making some of the best street foods. Street foods give identity to any place. My home town Madurai is also famous for street foods as I had mentioned in this post.

No one wants to get sick, but avoiding street food means denying yourself an essential part of the food experience :) Onions Pakoras are one of those street-side snacks that I enjoy anytime. While I was working in India, there used to be a few road side tea-stalls closer to my office. Many evenings we used to take a walk to those stalls to hang out with friends and enjoy these hot & crispy onion pakoras with a glass of tea. Sometimes I take masala vadas, but mostly would stick on to onion pakoras. They are served in banana-leaf over a plate with coconut chutney on the side. Hmm, yummy! Especially on a rainy day! Those are some of the nice-to-remember days, athough now I can't believe that I never fell sick eating those street side foods that often!

With that said, ironically, I rarely try making onion pakoras (though I make onion bhajjis often) at home until recently, when I thought I will give this a try. I searched for the recipe through various sources and finally came up with this recipe from mixing different steps from different recipes for onion pakoras. It was perfect and came out very close to those road-side pakodas. So easy and simple!

Ingredients:
  • Sliced red onions - 2 cups
  • Grated ginger - 1 tbsp
  • Soaked cashews (soak for 5 mins) - 2 tbsp
  • Chopped curry leaves - 1 tbsp
  • Finely chopped cilantro - 2 tbsp
  • Lemon juice - 1 tsp (optional)
  • Gram flour/Besan - 1 cup
  • Rice flour - 1/2 cup
  • Baking soda - 1 tsp
  • Oil - 1 tbsp
  • Oil - to deep fry
Procedure:
  • Mix the sliced onions, ginger, cashews, lemon juice, a little bit of salt, chopped curry leaves and corriander leaves in a bowl. Set aside.
  • In another bowl, mix the gram flour, rice flour, chilli powder, baking powder, the remaining salt and 1 tbsp oil.
  • This recipe hardly requires any water to mix, as the onions release a lot of moisture when mixed with salt in the first step, and also because we are adding some oil in the second step.
  • Now add the onion mixture to the flour mixture and sprinkle little bit of water to make the mixture to a binding consistency. The consistency should be in such a way that the mixture can bind and stay together if we make balls. This is different than bhajji consistency.
  • Take a portion of the mixture and drop it bit by bit in the oil - don't have to make them in round shape.
  • Drain them and place them in a paper napkin.

Serve hot with green chutney or sweet chutney!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Kadai Matar - Spicy Green Peas Curry


Happy New Year!

Hope you all had a great New Year! Sorry for being so slack with the posting. Time passes by me super fast these days, and other things have taken more priority too. We were out of town for the holidays and I took my own sweet time to get back to routine. It’s been a cold and snowy winter so far around our area, and I just prefer to cuddle on my couch during the weekends. This weekend for a change, I had the urge to be active in the kitchen and ended up with some new dishes.

This is one of those recipes I tried just in the spur of the moment. I was just flipping through some green-peas recipes a few hours ago, since a friend of mine had just then called up and had asked for a recipe primarily with green peas. She wanted to make use of a few packets of frozen peas stuck in her freezer. Green peas is one such vegetable that usually gets tossed in along with a bunch of other vegetables, and honestly I hardly make such a dish just with green peas. Of all the recipes I stumbled on, I liked this delicious looking recipe in a Punjabi cookbook I had purchased quite a while back. I decided to pass this on to my friend right away. It looked super-simple with hardly any chopping, with an elegantly styled photo along with the recipe. I was totally motivated and wanted to try my hand at this recipe, before passing it on to my friend, as it was dinner time anyway.

I think it makes a great dish - certainly better than pairing it up with another heavy feeling ingredient like paneer or potatoes. I should thank my friend in giving me a chance to try this new and yummy dish! Certain recipes are all about assembling the right ingredients together with right proportions, and this is one of them. Hope you all enjoy it as well!

Ingredients:
  • Frozen Peas - 2 cups
  • Ginger/Garlic Paste - 1 tbsp
  • Tomatoes - 2 medium (ripen)
  • Fenugreek seeds - 1/2 tsp
  • Red Chillies - 2
  • Lemon Juice - 1 tsp (optional)
  • Sugar - 1/4 tsp
  • Milk - 3 tbsp
  • Garam Masala - 3/4 tsp
  • Chilli Powder - 3/4 tsp
  • Corriander Powder - 1.5 tsp
  • Cardamom 2 - crushed
  • Kasoori Methi - 1 tbsp (crushed)
  • Corriander leaves - a hand full
Procedure:
  • Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a pan and season with fenugreek seeds and red chillies.
  • Add ginger/garlic paste and saute for about 2 mins.
  • Add garam masala, chilli powder and corriander powder one by one and saute in medium heat. (Have enough oil to fry these powders. If using less oil, be cautious in frying the powders as they may get burnt without oil.)
  • Add Lemon juice and tomatoes and saute for about 5 - 7 mins until tomatoes get well blended and soft.
  • Add the washed peas and mix well. Add milk, sugar and salt and cover and cook for 5 mins or until the peas is completely cooked.
  • Finally add crushed cardamom, Kasoori methi and corriander leaves and mix well. Let it boil for a min and remove from heat.
Enjoy it with chapathis and [whispering] I actually enjoyed it with curd rice much better :)