Something Wicked This Way Comes…

March 10, 2008 at 11:47 AM (Arusuvai Friendship Chain, Bihar, dishes by main ingredient, India, various greens, vegetables/ fruits)


…wickedly-wonderfully-fragrant more like! My nose- yet three feet from the mailbox, already in bliss- and curiosity claimed hold of my hands, recasting them into grasping crab-claws to quickly, quietly clasp and crimp the box’s contents that the mail-carrier had bid “adieu”- undoubtedly with a fair measure of grief. Poor thing… but, ah! Lucky me! The Arusuvai Friendship Chain has now crossed over this humble threshold!

I had to inhale once again- before opening the package, before taking another step inwards, before even reading the sender’s name. I must have died within a fond dream, thought I, and day after day, from now until never’s noon, will I be gathering such delights from my mailbox… but, alas, the phone rings and, while I stand stunned, I hesitate and hear while a thoughtful message is left to remind me of a dreaded, upcoming appointment. I heave a sigh, turn the package over and read the sender’s address: “From the lovely and talented Mistress of Music, Deliverer of Dreams, Stocker of Secrets, Sender of Salubrious and Delicious Delicacies…

…or something like that. [grins] Someone really needs to tone down their intros- wouldn’t you agree? So now come a few photos:


I do wish it were possible to attach a “fragrance-file” to these (it is unfortunate in this case, but then I can imagine others wherein this olfactory handicap in technology might be considered fortunate), but Musical, I thank you thank you thank you for these wonderful things: a nourishing rice of rare origin, two extraordinary masalas, that mysterious spice that begins with a…with an…

These things have inspired me to think of or find new dishes in which to try them, but most of all I am impressed by the freshness of the mystery ingredient– I have never beheld it so! Such a powerful effect it has on the tongue….reminds me of a dish I dearly love and that I haven’t made in several years. It has something to do with an aged woman, I believe… but all in due time! And I’ll announce my forward-moving Arusuvai recipients then. (this is serious business- considering what to send and to whom!)


Clockwise from the bottom: Bhutanese red rice, Punju-style garam masala, Kerala-style garam masala, and a lil’ something that I sampled three of and afterward thought one would have sufficed for sampling- whoa- strong! (but I am not complaining!)

Can anyone guess- not what the mystery ingredient is– but something more difficult: what is the name of the dish which will be my next post? The winner(s) will become my recipients of the outward-moving chain, which will be posted on March 17th.

But what’s a post without a recipe, you might ask? That’d be like a grin without a cat…or something like that! So……here is a recipe from Bihar*, that you may just like- wherever you are! Mustard oil is truly a must- without it the dish might fail; I trust you will find some before you begin this simple venture. Not from a tin, but fresh buy some greens(found near the aubergines)- a pleasant mix is best. The dressing is blessed with raw garlic and ginger (whose taste tends to linger), so be sure to savour it with those who favour such flavours… alas, it would otherwise be like leading the blind to butterflies!

Mixed Greens ka Chokha

1 1/2 lbs. mixed greens

2 T mustard oil

2 T coriander leaves, finely chopped

1/2 t garlic paste (I just took one clove/flake…)

1/2 t ginger paste

1/2 t green chile paste- or to taste (er…does one, maybe two green chiles make that amount?)

1/2 t salt

1) Wash and pick over the greens; bring 4 quarts of water to a boil, add the greens and cook until just tender; remove, let cool; squeeze out excess water- but not excessively, then either puree the greens in a food processor- adding a little cooking-water- or chop very finely by hand.

2)Mix the remaining ingredients together well to form a very pungent, raw-flavoured sauce; pour this over the greens and mix thoroughly (no folks…none of this is applied to a heat-source!). Serve with flat-bread of your choice, but puris are best! (and recommended by Madhur)

*This recipe is taken from (and modified only slightly) from Madhur Jaffrey’s World-of-the-East Vegetarian Cookbook. It is titled Spinach Cooked in a Bihari Style, but there is mention in the foreward that it is traditionally composed of a mixture of chana greens, mustard greens, and spinach… For an exquisitely-written and well-researched post on the subject of chokha, check out Jugalbandi’s post.

P.S. I’ve been reading. About Holi. And thandai… and the secret ingredient that seems to be left out in recipes I’ve read. Is it totally legal in India I ask?!


Permalink 19 Comments

Kacha Kela Sak

October 18, 2007 at 10:06 PM (bananas and plantains, Gujerati, India, various greens, vegetables/ fruits)

Back in the early 90’s, I came across this Gujju recipe* from Yamuna Devi’s Lord Krishna’s Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking. (I don’t actually own this book, instead I have the “best of” abridged version that was published a few years later, but that big, out-of-print classic is still on my want list). I recall that I didn’t have any besan the first time I made this, so I used corn-meal as a substitute as the recipe suggested (it was still very good!), but if you have access to besan, do use it as the aroma of it roasting is pure heaven. Actually, this dish is pure heaven: greens and plantain (cooking banana) are steamed separately first, then combined with a lightly-sweetened, besan-infused masala to form a dry dish which is topped with roasted almonds and served with lime wedges to squeeze over at will. Using utensils for this dish is out of the question; only by eating out of hand is true justice served!


Kacha Kela Sak

(Unripe plantain vegetable dish)

2 lbs. fresh or frozen greens (the original recipe asks that one of these pounds be spinach, but truly any green of choice or mix of greens can be used successfully)

1 large unripe or semi-ripe plantain (2 firm, green bananas would probably work as well)

5 T ghee or oil (I was able to reduce this to about 3 T)

3 T besan

1 t black mustard seeds, coarsely-crushed

1 t cumin seeds, coarsely-crushed

1 t salt

1 t gur, jaggery

1/2 t turmeric

1/4 t (or more to taste) ground red chiles

3 T almonds, toasted and slivered or sliced

1 lime cut into wedges

1)Steam the greens just until tender- about 10-15 minutes; remove and allow to cool, then place in a piece of cloth (I used cheesecloth) and wring out as much liquid as you can. Save this liquid (it is rich in vitamins) to use as stock for another dish; chop the greens finely.

2)Peel the plantain, then shred coarsely or chop into 1/4″ dice. Steam these as well until soft- about 10 minutes.

3)Heat the oil in a kerai or wok over medium-low heat; add the besan, mustard-seeds and cumin; stir and fry until the mixture turns a few shades darker and is very fragrant.

4)Add the plantain and fry 2 more minutes.

5)Add the salt, sugar, turmeric and chiles; stir once, raise heat a bit and add the greens. Stir gently until fully heated.

6)Remove from heat and place the mixture into katoris or onto a serving platter. Sprinkle over this the almonds, and serve with lime-wedges on the side for each diner to sour as they please.

*Thanks for being my dictionary Mispa!


Permalink 16 Comments

Feta-and-dill-stuffed Pide

July 2, 2007 at 5:15 PM (cheese, dishes by cuisine, dishes by main ingredient, grains and grain-like, milk and milk products, Turkey, various greens, wheat)


This is one of the most delectable things I’ve ever eaten, and as fresh dill is now widely available locally here, I put some of it to good use. I found this recipe several years ago in a Turkish cookbook by Ayla Algar entitled Classical Turkish Cooking– definitely one of the most-treasured volumes in my collection!

Although I’ve already posted a recipe for filled pide, the filling for this one is by far my favorite, and therefore I only make it 2-3 times a year, and share it; otherwise, I’ll eventually nibble my way through every loaf!

The directions for making the dough, filling and shaping it can be found here, but I offer this filling for you to try. Oh, and this time, I replaced a cup of the white flour with ata (Indian, fine whole-wheat flour) and it came out splendidly!

Also, I have made a few adjustments to the original filling, but these will be noted.

Feta and Dill Filling (for small, stuffed, pide)

2 1/2 C (about 1 pound) crumbled feta (this means Turkish feta, which is milder than Greek-style…the author suggests replacing part of this stronger feta with Italian ricotta (which I did- 1 C) or cream/Philly cheese)

3 eggs, lightly beaten

6 T unsalted butter at room temperature (I used 3 T)

2/3 C finely-chopped fresh dill

I also have begun to add the following 3 things:

freshly-ground black pepper

the green part of green onions or chives- a handful

green chiles, minced (2) or powdered, dried chiles 1/2 t or so

Mix the butter and dill together, add the eggs and mix until blended, add the crumbled feta (plus the etc.)

Shape and fill as directed here.

I have one more thing to share with you in this little post…well, two things maybe. The first is that a very talented cook named Connie, with whom I loved chatting with at a former place of employment, was so enraptured by the combination of flavours in this filled bread that she designed a pasta salad using similar ingredients…I hope my memory is intact enough for me to share it:

Boil pasta until tender/al dente (I believe she used farfalle…butterflies/bow ties), drain and cool quickly in cold water.

Then she added crumbled feta, dill, olive oil, green onions 🙂 , perhaps some salt, pepper, and ground chiles to taste… toss well……lovely for a light summer feast!

Happy Independence Day to all of you…(though the original day was so long ago that now it’s a day to watch firework displays and get a little tipsy… 😀  ) But, maybe we ought to take a moment to consider those living in turmoil and fear, and send a prayer to them for peace.


Permalink 26 Comments

Asparagus haakesque

June 9, 2007 at 3:24 AM (asparagus, dishes by cuisine, dishes by main ingredient, India, Kashmir, various greens, vegetables/ fruits)

    Total blasphemy! I know it. Ask me if I care. Something strange happens after you eat the Kashmiri dish known as haak for the first time. It changes your brain chemistry and makes you want more! The sad, dejected, longing look that appears on your face when the last traces are devoured in a bowl with rice, its green, vitamin-rich gravy soaking into the fluffy grains, is totally pre-conceived by those wily, saunf-and-saunth-throwing hooligans. I surrender… but this is my revenge!

    Asparagus is in season now in this neck of the woods. I’m ill of the Thai green curry that resists spoiling, I can’t take another round of daalitoy at the moment (or can I?), and although I have val sitting in soaking-water, I want some green stuff now! Some days, I feel like Veruca Salt…

    So, green stuff it is! Anita of A Mad Tea Party sent me a recipe for haak, which is made of a special green very similar to collard greens- same species, different variety. There is also a green used by the Chinese and Thai which is yet another similar variety -and can also be used for successful haak-making. It is called kai lan or Chinese broccoli. All are cruciferous vegetables(of the plant family cruciferae, now known as brassicaceae), and the botanical genus-and-species name of all three is brassica oleracea…this single species has been cultivated as well into cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, kohlrabi and kale, as well as the aforementioned greens! So, as you can see, despite being descended long ago from a single plant, there is some difference between them… It took some doing to sort all of this out; I hope we have it straight.

    Anita- a regal, proud, and oftentimes giddy Kashmiri Pandit- insists that mustard oil be used for this dish. I implore you to seek it out in Indian shops either under the English name or as sarson ka tel, as it is known in Hindi. Quite pungent when raw, but sweet and mellow upon heating, this is an essential flavour in this dish that, if you were to replace it with another oil and serve it to a weathered haak-eater, would bring scoffs and jeers while your back was turned, but its inclusion will undoubtedly bring them back to your table.

    While a pressure-cooker is often used for preparing haak (it saves both time and energy, so why not? Anita pressure-cooks haak for exactly 5 minutes, then immediately releases the pressure- a secret step to keeping the greens green), I cooked this blasphemous version (do I hear noses turning upward?) the old-fashioned, open-kettle way with slow simmering, because I wasn’t sure of the timing and didn’t want to overcook my beloved asparagus (which incidentally, is not anywhere near a close relative of brassica oleracea). Hing/asafoetida is an optional ingredient that non-Kashmiri Madhur Jaffrey uses, but Anita doesn’t. I leave its use up to you.

    One more thing: after heating the oil- 2t to 1/2 C- health-level to swoon-level (and sizzling a good pinch of hing), Mrs. Jaffrey adds the greens (1 3/4 lb), covers the pot for 10 seconds, then adds the salt and stir-fries for a minute before adding the water(3 1/2 C) and a few chiles- both green and red. Anita adds the water(2 C) directly to the smoking oil, brings to a boil and adds a pinch of sodium bicarbonate (retains the green colour, but I hear it annihilates a few vitamins), then she adds the greens(1 1/2 lb), cooks them just until they wilt, adds both green and red chiles and some salt, and then … both are in agreement- continuing with the braising until tender. Because Madhur uses a bit more water than Anita, any excess must be boiled off rapidly when the vegetable is tender to reduce it to about 3/4 C or so… Anita’s method is a bit more stream-lined, as it has exactly the right amount of liquid at the end, but then again, she uses a pressure-cooker.

    Serve with yoghurt and steamed rice, a flush and a gush and now you’re hooked- er… haaked– too! There is no more to say.

    Oh, yes there is!…. If you decide to try the rebel asparagus version, it cooks in 15 minutes at a simmer. Quite done in fact. Lift it out of the pan and place it somewhere gently, then reduce the liquid and re-unite them. Total yum…

Here is some purple asparagus for fun and anti-mango measures………….en guarde you mango-braggarts!:

Permalink 7 Comments

Dhaniye aur Kaju wale Murgh (Chicken with Coriander-leaves and Cashews)

May 18, 2007 at 12:28 AM (animals, birds, cashews, chicken, dishes by cuisine, dishes by main ingredient, India, Punjab, various greens, various nuts like me)


I own a truly fascinating cookbook, by Smita and Sanjeev Chandra, entitled Cuisines of India. Besides having an eye-catching dust-cover, it really is a good read. The chapters are divided into broad, historical summaries, coupled with a discussion of the cuisine developement of the parties involved. There are political maps included as well! Every single recipe in the book also includes an interesting tale as its introduction, and because of all this, one could definitely spend hours just reading, as I did when I first acquired my copy, and not enter the kitchen at all!

    My favorite recounts are those of Fanny Eden and her brushings with Ranjit Singh- that colourful Sikh leader who made himself king of Punjab in 1801. I still find myself truly laughing at loud when I read one of the Punjabi/Punju recipes that includes one of these! Here, for your amusement, is the one which heads a very good recipe that I just tried, taken from chapter 4, Decline of the Moghul Empire: Flowering of Regional Cuisines:

The table was covered with gold bottles and cups and some specimens of Sikh cookery- spiced balls of meat, or rather essence of meat, of very strong composition, pomegranite seeds, etc…The composition he calls wine is like burning fire, much stronger than brandy, and his great delight when he sets in to be gay is to make people drink it…I got on very well for some time, pretending to drink it and passing it to his cup-bearer. But he grew suspicious, put it up to his one eye, looked well into the cup, shook his head and gave it me back again. The next time he put his finger into the cup to see how much was gone. I made Major Wade explain to him that ladies did not drink so much in England, upon which he watched till George’s [her brother, governor general of India] head was turned away and passed a cup to me under his arm, thinking George was the horrid tyrant who prevented me.

    Poor Fanny… 😀 In other exerpts from her journal we find her suffering through other banquets and dishes that, heaven forbid,  were made to look like precious metals…

    This recipe, though simple to prepare, is quite delicious! I have no idea how authentic it is; I’d like to hear feedback from anyone who might know! I made a couple additions to keep a theme going and make use of things I had handy: I sprinkled two finely-sliced green onions and a pinch of shredded mint-leaves over the top at the end of cooking. Either way, it is a very green, very vitamin-infused sauce that complements chicken deliciously well. It is sugested by the authors to serve it with rice and bhindi ki sabzi (sabzi-fied okra?!)

Dhaniye aur Kaju wale Murgh

8 skinless chicken thighs, bone in, washed and drained (I cleaved each into three pieces, bone included)

For the marinade:

1/4 C raw cashews, ground

1 t ground coriander seeds

3/4 t ground cumin seeds

1/2 t ground chiles

1/4-1/2 t ground black pepper

1/2 t garam masala

1/2 t turmeric

2 garlic cloves, sliced

1/2″ piece of ginger, sliced

1 C coriander leaves and stems, washed, drained, chopped

1 hot green chile, seeded and sliced (I used 3)

1 C plain yoghurt, not low-fat

salt to taste

1)Make a paste of the garlic, ginger, coriander leaves and green chiles.

2)Combine this with the rest of the marinade ingredients and mix with the chicken pieces well in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight.

For finishing:

2 T or so of oil

1/2 t cumin seeds

2 medium onions, peeled and thinly-sliced

1/4 C raw cashews, whole

1 T lemon (or lime) juice

1/2 C coriander leaves, chopped

2 green onions, finely-sliced(my addition)

4-5 mint leaves, finely shredded (stack, roll into a little log and slice thinly- my addition)

1)Heat oil in a cooking vessel over med-high heat and add the cumin seeds; after a few seconds add the onions and whole cashews; fry stirring fairly constantly until the onions are golden and just beginning to brown.

2)Strain these, using a slotted spoon, from the oil and set aside. Add the chicken and its marinade to the pan, stir well, cover and allow it to come to a boil. Reduce heat to med-low and cook for 40 min, stirring occasionally to avoid catching, until tender.

3)Add the reserved onions, cashews and lemon juice and cook 5 minutes more. Check for salt.

4)Sprinkle coriander leaves, green onions, and mint leaves over the top and serve hot with rice.


My deepest gratitude to Musical and her Kitchen for her assistance in translating the title of this dish for me! 🙂

Permalink 9 Comments

Patra Bajia (stuffed arbi/colocasia/taro leaves) begins the quadrille

April 30, 2007 at 2:37 PM (dishes by cuisine, dishes by main ingredient, fusion, Gujerati, India, Jihva entries, legumes/pulses- whole or split, moong, various greens, various nuts like me, vegetables/ fruits)

    “…the leaves contain needle-shaped oxylate crystals that can cause a stinging sensation in the mouth and throat when not properly prepared… ” How nice….that makes me want to dive right in to a plateful….

    The truth is, I’ve already eaten arbi leaves…

    A few years ago, as I was wandering through the aisles of the nearest Indian grocer, I happened upon a can of them, already seasoned, rolled, cooked and sliced, and, as I had no idea what they were, I naturally placed the can in my basket. Upon arriving home, I tucked it away in a corner of the cabinet. When an inquisitive moment paired with a driving need to exoticly-impress a date finally came, I was pleasantly suprised to see whorls of green layered with gold! I removed them as carefully as I could, but as some of you may already know, it is inevitable that a fair portion of these canned goodies will break. However, whole or broken, the taste was unforgettable: rich, dark greens layered with besan, roasted and infused with an unfamiliar formula of spices, fragrant from re-heating in the microwave oven… for Umrikans this will more-than-suffice for exotic. The date? Well… I could tell by the way his mouth fearfully avoided the morsels as he chewed and swallowed that he was far from feeling fond affection; still, he inspected each piece carefully, turning them this way and that with his fork, his head cocked first one way and then the other in a not-so-subtle attempt to understand and unravel their mysterious aesthetic. I had no explanation to offer, just: “…more chutney?”.

    Sometimes, that’s the only way to taste new things in Umrika-land… I looked for them on my next curry leaf run, but it appeared that there was a greater demand for bags of dry, crunchy chaat mixes as these now hung off the corners on clips, filling the entire section, obviously having overgrown their former territory like potted mint will try to do if left unchecked.  I passed up the frozen parathas, the pathetic kerelas and left the store with my new stash of kari-patta.  Instead of cash, I should have searched my trunk and produced a pair of pruning shears for trade…add another hefty item to my expanding list of “things that I must buy online…” (I grumble much more about the sudden, much-more-local loss of Jyoti karhi and dhal makhani, but I’m keeping my chin up, and mouth open for things to come).

    Luckily, recipes for these exquisite, intricate-looking rolls abound in food-blog land. And it isn’t just besan finding its way between the leaves: rice, coconut, and Aunt Karisma’s undies show up in recipes that stretch like crackled elastic from Uttar to Andhra Pradesh. I, however, decided to start my tasting taut and twangy in the sweet-sour state of Gujerat, and collected nine different recipes of similar sort to contrast, compare, calculate and finally arrive at a recipe indicative of the Gujerati opus but without any particular credit in owe.

    Unfortunately I was missing just one, perhaps important, ingredient for my recipe: the arbi leaves. I don’t expect to see them for sale anytime soon, or anywhere nearby. That very nice man from Delhi has a hard-enough time stocking usable tendli, let alone leaves that would never make the menu of the restaurant next door. This summer I’ll grow my own, and post the results if I’m able to speak after the first bite. Collard greens are plentiful here and make a fair substitute.

    Oh, and just for trivial thrills, there are dishes made from the leaves which do not contain a souring agent; apparantly the taro plant(the accepted Umrikani apellation) is crucial to the cuisine of Hawaii, and other Pacific island cultures; for now though, I’d  like to play it safe.* (A tip from Vee of Past, Present and Me: break the stem of an arbi leaf you intend to use, rub the juice on your inner wrist and count to ten; if it stings, the oxylate concentration is too high. Don’t use them. Take it as an omen that you’ve been cooking too much and take the afternoon off from the kitchen. Order out for pizza.)**

Patra Bajia

The multiple steps involved in preparing these may seem daunting, but actually it’s quite easy; you can even do as I did and start a day ahead of serving, casually doing each step when you have time. 


18 arbi leaves

2 1/2 C besan

2 t ground dry red chiles (more or less to taste; I used more)

1 t turmeric

3 t sugar or gur

salt to taste

3 T oil

1/2 C tamarind paste/extract

3 t ginger paste


1 bunch of coriander leaves, finely chopped

1)Trim stems from arbi leaves, wash well and pat dry. Carefully slice off the thick center rib of each leaf, taking care that you don’t split them in the process (it happens though- hide these in the middle of the rolls; know one will be the wiser). Place each leaf on a board and gently roll it over with a rolling pin, again being careful not to split the leaves.

2)Divide the leaves by similar size into groups of three.

3)Mix the besan, ground chiles, turmeric, sugar and salt. Add the oil and mix well by hand until the mixture resembles crumbs.

4)Add the tamarind paste, ginger paste and enough water to form a thick, but easily spreadable paste (like peanut butter or yoghurt cheese). Add the coriander leaves and mix well. Check for salt.

5)Taking the groups of leaves in turn, ribbed sides facing up, spread the paste thinly( if you think of it more as an adhesive than a substantial filling, you’ll do fine…in fact, you should be able to adhere them securely to the walls of your kitchen, should you be so moved…) on each of them, placing the next leaf on top of the previous one before spreading the next layer of paste. So, you will have the following configuration: leaf, paste, leaf, paste, leaf, paste. When three have been layered and pasted, and with the tip of the leaves toward you, fold 1-2″ of the  sides toward the center, and then roll firmly starting from the leaf tips to the stem end. Secure the rolls with cotton string (if you wish, or just place it seam-side down) and place in the container of a steaming apparatus. Steam for 40 minutes. Allow the rolls to cool before handling.

6)Now, take each roll, remove the string, and slice crossways carefully, using a sharp knife, into 1/3-1/2″ slices. These may be eaten just as they are with relishes, but most often they are finished with a tempering, such as the following, or deep-fried. I decided to take the middle road:

For the tempering:

3 T oil (if you would like to drizzle or toss them with oil, then use this amount, if you would like to shallow-fry them, use 5-6 T, adding more if necessary)

2 t mustard seeds

2 t cumin seeds

2 t sesame seeds

2 pinches of asafoetida/ hing

1a)Heat oil over med-low heat, add mustard, cumin and sesame seeds; when the mustard seeds splutter, add the hing, swirl and then pour over the sliced rolls. Toss gently to coat if you wish.

1b)If you would like to shallow-fry these, then place a cover on the pan when the seeds begin to splutter and allow them to finish. Remove from heat, and then remove the fried seeds with a spoon. Set these aside. Return the oil to heat and fry the slices on each side until golden brown, adding a little more oil if necessary.

2)In either case, sprinkle them with 3-4 T grated coconut and serve.

If you decided to shallow fry them and still have the reserved fried spices, take them and follow me…

Pel’s Quick-and-easy Pistachio Pilaf


1/2 C grated coconut, fresh or frozen

the fried spices from the previous recipe

a handful of shelled, roasted pistachios (soaked and skinned as well, if desired)

2 C dry, pilaf-making rice, rinsed well and drained (I tried sona masoori- it worked)

3 1/2 C water

3/8 C coriander-mint chutney (coriander and mint leaves, lime juice, salt, ground roasted cumin)

salt to taste

1)Wipe the inner surface of the pan with oil and roast the coconut until very lightly golden over a low flame, add the fried spices, pistachios and a little oil and fry for about 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly to avoid any scorching; add the drained rice and mix very well- about 2 minutes more.

2)Add the water, chutney and salt to taste (I used 1/2 t, but it depends on the saltiness of the chutney); Bring to boil, cover with a tight-fitting lid, turn heat to low and steam for 20 min. Lift lid and fluff with form, re-cover and let stand for a few minutes.

 I needed a dish made of pulses next, so, going with the green theme and the Gujerati flavour, I took this recipe straight out of Madhur Jaffrey’s World-of-the-East Vegetarian Cooking:

Moong Dhal Na Poora

1 C moong dhal (I used dhal with skin for extra colour and nutrients)

3/4″ piece of ginger, peeled, sliced

3 cloves of garlic, peeled

1-2 fresh green chiles, cut into 3 pieces

1 t salt, or to taste

1/4 t baking soda (optional…I didn’t use)

1/4 t turmeric

2 T coriander leaves, minced finely

1 small onion, peeled and minced finely

about 1/2 c oil/ghee (I used peanut oil)

1) Pick over the dhal and rinse well; soak in plenty of water for 5 hours; drain.

2)Make a paste or puree of the ginger, garlic and chiles. Grind it with the dhal, adding 1/2 c of water, the salt, baking soda, and turmeric until you have a thick batter. Stir in the onions and coriander leaves.

3)Heat a tava or griddle over medium-low heat; for each poora: drop a teaspoon of oil on the cooking surface, tilt to spread; place 1/3 c of the batter in the center, count to 4, and then with a small ladle or spoon spread the batter by swirling it outward from the center in a spiral, aiming for a 5-6″ circumference; drizzle 1/2 t of oil over the poora surface, and another 1/2 t at the edges; cover and allow to cook for about 2 minutes, or until the underside has a reddish tinge. Flip the poora to the other side, and allow to cook uncovered for about 1 1/2 minutes, until it develops reddish spots.

4)Make all of them this way, stacking them on top of each other. Be sure to stir the batter in the bowl well before each one is made.

 Then, I really needed something special to moisten all of this dryness. Anita’s very delicious and very versatile Walnut and Mint Chutney(of A Mad Tea Party) seemed like the answer -and it was!…. except I used pistachios… which she said is just fine….

I know that you might have an urge to add a bit of garlic or ginger or temper-of-hing to this, but don’t! The Kashmiri Pandit Chutney Patrol (KPCP)will come after you if you do!!!!


If you are feeling really fancy, you can make little spoons of celery-sticks, like I did!! 😀

(Ooops! It looks like a Marathi specialty wanted to sneak into the post too… oh well!)

I had a few of the patra bajia left over a fter a few days, and as I was making sweet-cassava pakoras for some company and had hot oil at the ready, I decided to deep-fry some of them as well…. Although I was at first dismayed watching my hard-earned spirals unravel in the oil, the final effect is astoundingly beautiful: a bit like mini-galaxies….


(that’s a lousy photo… make them and see for yourself! They are very crispy… and remain crispy for a looooong time…)

    This is my entry to Jihva for Ingredients- Greens, May 2007, hosted by Indira of Mahanandi, co-hosted by Nandita of Saffron Trail. This month’s JFI marks the one-year anniversary of this Indian food-blogging event. May it continue for a hundred more!


Oxalic acid may be present in the corm and especially in the leaf, and these foods should be eaten with milk or other foods rich in calcium so as to remove the risks posed by ingesting the free oxalic radical especially for people with kidney disorders, gout, or rheumatoid arthritis. Calcium reacts with the oxalate to form calcium oxalate which is very insoluble.” (Wikipedia, the full entry can be read here)

**Pel may have added that last part… 🙂 But in consolation, a concisely-written page about taro may be found here.

Permalink 21 Comments