Palakachi bhaji / Spinach curry.

Every year on Ganeshotsav day my mother prepares a curry of Colocasia or Taro leaves. Its a very flavorful Maharashtrian recipe with a combination of Colocasia leaves ( Alu) peanuts, cashews, Bengal gram daal with right amount of spices. The Colocasia leaves are not easily available here in the US and for a long time I had been craving to have this curry. So I decided why not keep other ingredients same and make this with Spinach instead of the Colocasia leaves. I tried it out and the result was just the same . So here is “Palkachi patal bhaji or Spinach curry ” for you all.

I used about 1 1/2 bunch of chopped spinach,
1/4 cup of peanuts soaked in water,
The original recipe has cashews and chopped coconut pieces but since I didn’t have these ingredients I skipped them from the recipe.
1tbsp besan or bengal gram flour ( you can change the proportion depending how thick you want your curry to be. )
1/4 cup chana daal or bengal gram daal. 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds.
1/2 tsp turmeric, 2-3 green chillies, chilli podwer, jaggery, tamarind pulp and salt as per taste.

Heat up oil and add the green chillies, fenugreek seeds, and chopped spinach, saute them well and then add little water and cover it up till the spinach gets bit blanched. Then add the soaked peanuts, cashews , bengal gram daal and coconut pieces. Mix the besan with water so that there are no lumps and add that to the spinach. Then add at least 2 cups of water and cover the vessel to let the spinach and the other ingredients cook. Once its almost cooked add chilli powder, jaggery and tamarind pulp. The curry should have a fine balance between the sweet and sour flavors. I use this as a measure for how much jaggery or tamarind I should add. Mix the curry well and then temper it with turmeric, curry leaves and mustard seeds.

Let it simmer a bit and then its ready to eat. This curry goes well with chapati as well as rice. I feel Spinach is a good substitute for Colocasia leaves and I hope you all like it as well.

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Moussaka

Hello friends I am back from a sabbatical. We were in Beijing China for 6 months and unfortunately I couldn’t access my blog from there ! But it was great culinary adventure for me. I will try to put some chinese recipes as well, for now here is a mediterranean dish which my sister-in-law makes and its simply yummy!

For the Moussaka you will need-
250 gm of ground meat ( beef or turkey or chicken)
1 big onion chopped and fried till its brown.
1 big spoon ketchup
1 tbsp worcestshire sauce
1tbsp chilli powder or cayenne pepper
1 small chopped capsicum
salt as required.

Heat up some oil in a pan and fry the onions till they turn brown. Then add the capsicum , ground meat and the other ingredients. Cook the meat till its well done.

In a Baking dish, put some fried potatoes ( cut in circles ) as the bottom layer, then fried eggplant as the 2nd layer, the meat as the 3rd layer and white sauce as the top layer. Sprinkle some bread crumbs and grated cheese. One can use parmesan or any similar kind of cheese for this dish. Heat in the oven at 350F till the cheese melts and turns golden brown.

For the calorie conscious people, the potatoes & eggplant can be baked in the oven instead of fried. The flavour remains the same nevertheless. Also for the vegeterians you can substitute Cottage cheese ( paneer) for the meat. The rest of the ingredients remain the same.

This dish can me prepared well in advance and kept in the freezer. All you need to do is put in the oven when you are ready to eat. Its a one dish meal served with rice and salad.

Amboli or Maharashtrian Dosa

This recipe is the Maharashtrian counterpart of the South-indian dosa. It comes from the western costal region of Maharashtra. My mom makes this in the month of “shravan” which falls in end July or August. I have never tried it but I thought of sharing this recipe with you all.

Ingredients- 1kg  of rice, 1/2 kg or Urid flour, 1/2 cup of chana dal, 1/2 cup of wheat flour, 1/4 cup of methi ( fenugreek seeds) salt to taste.

First wash the rice & dry it indoors & then grind it in to a fine paste. The chana dal should also be soaked & then ground. Then combine all the ingredients, add sufficient quantity of water to make a thick batter like consistency & let if ferment overnight. Pour it  in a metal vessel , cover it & keep  the vessel in a warm place. If the batter comes up the next day that means it has fermented well. Heat up a pan or griddle & spread the batter for a thickness similar to that of “adai dosas ” or “pancakes”. Spread some oil around it so that it doesn’t stick to the pan.  The ambolis are ready to eat when the bottom side turns golden brown.

One can eat this with any veggie or curry or even with Rice kheer. This is one of my favourite dishes. Thought the process & few ingredients are similar to that of Dosa it tastes different.

Kulfi/ Ice-cream

Sorry for not updating the blog for so long. A few weeks ago I had this delicious dessert at my cousin sister’s place. Its called the “kulfi” an Ice-cream set to freeze in metallic molds. In India Kulfi is very popular & comes in different flavors. The traditional way of making kulfi involves reducing milk on a slow flame to half its volume & then adding different flavours & sugar & letting it cool down before freezing it in the metallic molds.  Here is a quick & simple way to make it, a perfect way to beat the summer heat!

Ingredients- 1small can condensed milk, 1small can of whipping cream , 1 small can of evaporated milk & I slice of bread. Blend all this ingredients once through the blender & then pour it in small plastic or metallic molds or paper cups of single size serving. One can also add nuts like almonds, pistachios, essence of any flavour to the above mixture. Cover the paper cups with a cling wrap so that ice doesn’t form in it. Keep it in freezer till it soldifies.

Cilantro rolls/ “Kothimbir vadi”

This is a recipe for a starter dish from the region of Maharashtra. Its simple, easy to make & rich in Iron.

Ingredients- I bunch of cleaned & finely chopped cilantro, bengal gram flour, 1tsp of chilli powder, 1/4 tsp of turmeric, 1/2 tsp of cumin-coriander powder, 2 cloves of garlic & salt to taste.

Mix bengal gram flour with the chopped cilantro so that you can knead it into a dough. The dough shouldn’t be too dry so add the flour as much as the cilantro can accomodate.  Add very little water & oil  while kneading as the cilantro also tends to give out some water. Add the above spices & salt . Roll out the dough into elongated rolls . Steam them in a bamboo steamer or any other steamer. Don’t pressure cook ! Once they are well steamed cut them in to 1/2 thick pieces & shallow fry them till they are light brown on both sides. Alternatively you can eat them as they are.. Isn’t this a healthy & simple recipe? Try it out! Serve it with cilantro- mint chutney & your family will love it.

Aviyal

 Aviyal is a dish prepared with as many vegetables as one can get. It belongs to South-indian cuisine. All vegetables go in it, except for some mushy vegetables, like tomato, brinjal, ladies fingers, cabbage, cauliflower, beetroot, radish, turnip, onion, sweet potato,etc. Otherwise all the following vegetables can be used depending on the availability.

Raw green plantain, Elephant yam, Snake gourd, Pumpkin, Ash gourd, Carrot, beans,Green mango (raw)
Drumsticks, Raw jackfruit.
A small quantity of bitter gourd can be used to give a tinge of bitterness.
Ingredients- Vegetables: 250gm of the above mentioned mixed vegetables.
Turmeric powder- 1tsp, Grated fresh coconut- 1 1/2 cups ( can use 1 cup for people who dont like too much coconut), Green chillies- 4-6 depending on the spice level one prefer, Curds- 1/2 cup, salt to taste, 4-5 curry leaves, 1tsp jeera/ cumin seeds, Coconut oil or any vegetable oil 1tbsp.

Wash & cut all the vegetables lengthwise into 2″ pieces.Boil the vegetables with little water ( just enough to cover them) & turmeric & salt.One should be careful not to overcook the vegetables, they should remain crisp. Grind the coconut with green chillies & cumin seeds. Drain the vegetables, retain some water in which they were cooked. Take a wide bottom pan & add the coconut mixture to this vegetables. Cover the pan & let it simmer on a low flame, just so that coconut doesnt taste raw & mixes well with the veggies. Then switch of the flame & add the curds & mix it well. Temper this with mustard seeds & curry leaves. This aviyal can be used as a side dish for sambar rice or any other rice. You can vary the consistency of the gravy by adding more water ( in which the vegetables were cooked ) to it but it shouldn’t be too watery or too dry.

Prawns / Shrimps curry

Here is recipe for Maharashtrian style prawns curry. ( Maharashtra is a state from India)

Ingredients- 1 pound of large/ medium size prawns, 1medium onion, ginger-garlic paste, tamarind pulp, 1/2 cup of coconut milk or finely grated coconut, 1 1/2 tsp chilli powder ( you can vary to the level of spiciness you want ), 1/4 tsp turmeric, salt to taste, finely chopped coriander/cilantro.

Clean & then marinate the prawns with ginger-garlic paste, salt, turmeric, chilli powder & tamarind pulp. Then heat up oil in a wide bottom vessel, add the onions. Once the onions become transparent & start turning brown, add the prawns, saute them till you see the colour changing to pink. Then add water & lower the flame. Add the coconut milk/ grated coconut , cover the vessel & let it cook. The prawns cook very fast about 15min or so. You can add more water depending on the consistency you want. Garnish with fresh corainder. Serve this with white rice.