Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Marathi Series: Kanda Pohe & Mixed Bhaji Platter

Marathi Series: Kanda Pohe & Mixed Bhaji (Vegetable Fritters)

This is the 2nd post in the Marathi food series. You can see the reason for the Marathi series and the 1st post here.

Bhaji Platter or Fritters
Can you guess all the different vegetables in there? Answer is in the next 2 paras !

Quintessential Comfort Food: Kanda Pohe or Spicy Beaten Rice

Every time I call India these days, everyone is busy gearing up for Diwali...making sweet & savory snacks also known as Pharaal in Marathi, buying new clothes and fireworks, and sprucing up their homes among other things! My grandparents are visiting their sons and daughters in my home town of Pune, and just speaking to them over the phone makes me miss them even more :(

What I needed was down right comfort food to make up for me not celebrating Diwali with them (hopefully next yr tho...)! So off I went and cooked up some Pohe and a bhaji (also known as pakoras in Hindi) platter with onion bhaji, potato bhaji, mirchi bhaji, sweet potato bhaji and squash flower bhaji..yummmm! Now this surely was not a bad way to comfort yourself ;).

I won't post the recipe for the pohe, as there are innumerable recipes for that on the blogosphere. You can see some great versions ranging from the traditional version here to an experimental version here.

Bhaji Platter/Vegetable Fritters
1. 1/2 cup onions thinly sliced
2. 1/2 cup potatoes thinly sliced
3. 1/2 cup sweet potatoes thinly sliced
4. 4-5 green chillies or jalapenos slit open partly. Make sure to keep the ends intact
5. 1/2 cup squash flower
(You can add other vegetables like thinly sliced eggplant if you like)
6. 21/2 cups chickpea flour/besan
7. 3/4 cup water
8. 11/2 tsp corriander/dhania powder
9. 1 tsp cumin/jeera powder
10. 1 tsp red chili powder
11. 1 tsp carom seeds/ajwain (optional)
12. Salt to taste
13. 3 cups oil for frying. I use olive oil
1. Add some salt to the sliced onions and keep aside for 5-10 minutes
2. To this add all the other vegetables and the dry ingredients (minus the oil and water). Mix well and let rest for another 2-3 minutes
3. Heat oil in a deep frying pan/kadhai
4. Take a tsp of the heated oil and add it to the dry mix. Miss well. This step makes the bhajis nice and crispy!
5. Add water as needed to the mix to make a smooth yet slightly thick batter
6. Batch by batch, drop & fry to a golden brown the onions then potatoes, then sweet potatoes, then squash flowers and then the chilies covered in batter.
The chilies should be added in the end, as they tend to pop up sometimes with the seeds spreading into the oil.

Serve with mint chutney or ketchup.
Enjoy :)

Sunday, November 04, 2007

They are here!!!

They are Here & Fresh Pesto Pasta!!!

The 2 books that Kalyn sent me are finally here and they are absolutely FANTASTIC!!! I 1st received the Vegetables Everyday and though that was great. But then few days later, received the Herbs & Spices: the Cook's Reference book and was in food heaven ;) Its a great book detailing spices from across the world, ranging from African to Indian to Italian to Moroccan and how you can cook with them!

I can't wait to start cooking from both these books. Kalyn, thanks a ton again for these wonderful gems!

Aren't they Beautiful?

Petso Pasta made with Fresh Basil

Inspired by the Vegetables Everyday book, cooked up some Pesto Pasta with fresh basil I have been successfully growing (quite rare for me :() for a while now. The simplicity of the pesto went so well with the multi-flavored shell pasta I picked up on my last trip to Paris. Yes, R & I are pasta snobs where we are not too fond of the wheaty, pasty pasta you get in most stores here. Though I must admit TJs and Whole Foods are quickly making that a thing of the past! w00t!

Since this was one of my few successful attempts to grow my own food, I am sending this pasta to Andrea's Grow Your Own event!
Fresh Pesto Pasta
1. 1 pound pasta of your choice. I used shell pasta
2. 3 cups fresh basil
3. 2 tablespoons pine nuts, untoasted
4. 1-2 cloves of garlic
5. 1-2 jalapeno (optional)
6. 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
7. 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
8. Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
9. 1 cup dill (optional)
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta
2. In a blender, combine the basil, pine nuts, garlic, jalapeno and olive oil. Blend till its pureed
3. Add the cheese, salt and pepper, and blend again
4. Cook the pasta for about 3 minutes in the boiling water until al dente (should be firm to the touch)
5.Drain and transfer the pasta to a large bowl. Do not rinse the pasta as that will cause all the great nutrients in the pasta to get washed away!
6. Add the pesto and dill to the pasta and toss. Add a drizzle of oil and top with cheese, if you like.
Enjoy :)