Category Archives: Dips,Chutneys,Sauces,Spreads

Mint-y Pea Fritters with Yogurt Dip

This was one of those born-of-necessity cooking adventures.

On a rainy, quite chilly Sunday some weeks ago, I decided we must eat soup for dinner.

So far, so good. There were some sweet potatoes that needed to be used up, so I peeled and chopped those up and got going with the soup. But then I began to wonder what I could serve on the side. Pizza did not seem like a good idea beause of the cheese overload, and we’d eaten pasta more than a couple of times already the previous week. And I had this vexing (to the family, since I kept asking them for ideas about what to cook) notion that the meal must include some green vegetable.

So I eventually asked Noor to google soup accompaniements and one of the first suggestions she seemed to come across was zuccini fritters. Interesting ! I thought, not having made those ever and pleased at the thought of trying my hand at something new and different. But then I quickly realized there was no zuccini in the fridge. In fact, there wasn’t very much of any vegetable in the fridge, and it was the kind of lazy day when I could not bear the thought of going out to shop.

Necessity being the mother of invention/experimentation, and with the bag of frozen peas the only source of veg at hand that afternoon, I decided to google to see if peas might lend themselves to fritters instead; and lo and behold, I discovered to my amazement that pea fritters are indeed a thing!

The rest, as they say, is history. I eventually came across this particular recipe that I decided to go with because I was equally intrigued by the dip- another first for me- and I am so glad I did. The dip made the dish, and the fritters have become a welcome addition to my repertoire of veg dishes.

Here’s my version of this easy-to-follow recipe (thank you “gourmandeinthekitchen”) –

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Mint-y Pea Fritters

2 cups of green peas (if frozen, thaw and boil, as with fresh, for just 3-4 minutes. Drain well)
2 eggs
2 small onions, finely chopped
2 tbsp of chopped fresh mint leaves
zest from 1 large lemon
50 gms of drained feta cheese, or a little more
1/4 cup of chickpea flour
salt and pepper to taste

Coarsely mash the peas with a fork in a large bowl and mix in all the ingredients, taking care not to squash the peas too fine. Add the chickpea flour at the end. Set aside for five minutes, then divide the mixture in to equal sized balls – about 8-10 – and flatten each with your hands in to discs (don’t make these too thin as you will pat them down some more as they fry).

Heat 2-3 tbsp of cooking oil over medium heat in a frying pan that will hold 4-5 fritters at a time. Place the fritters carefully over the oil, and fry slowly till they are cooked, a little crisped, and a nice color on both sides.

To make the dip while the fritters cook- in a ½ cup of Greek yogurt, stir in 1 tbsp of  freshly squeezed lemon juice, some freshly chopped mint (about 1-2 tbsp), 1/4 tsp of rock salt or Himalayan salt (adds a distinct something, IMO), a pinch of freshly ground black pepper and about 1/2-1 tbsp of olive oil (you could make the dip ahead and refrigerate, to help the flavors infuse nicely).

Drain the fritters to remove excess oil, and serve while still warm with the dip.

Et voila!  There’s a colorful, pretty, quite tasty plate here!

 

 

 

Easy-as-anything, Guacamole

It’s been another one of those days when I wonder why I’ve never made what I made today, ever before.

Guacamole has for the longest time been something I’ve wanted to try my hand at, but never got around to actually making.  It took an express wish/command from the teen two days ago “Can you please make guacamole?!” and a serendipitously-there avocado in the fruit basket, to get me to finally give this a shot.

And boy am I glad I did! No more store-bought stuff, yay! The fresh version is just SO much nicer, so zingy and bursting with flavor!

Here’s my take on this Alton Brown recipe here

Mash the flesh of one avocado with the juice of a small lemon, 1/4 tsp each of salt, freshly ground cumin (this is important for flavor, I think), and cayenne. Then add  a quarter of a small onion that’s been very finely chopped, a quite ripe tomato that’s been seeded and finely chopped, 1 tbsp of finely chopped fresh coriander leaves, 1 small, minced or grated clove of garlic, and a little more lime juice if needed. Mix everything well, and let sit for at least half an hour for the flavors to combine, before serving.

And there you have a pretty bowl of guacamole dip – so simple to make, I’m wondering what I’ve been doing all these years when I bought those expensive jars!

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Wood Apple Chutney

After some of our colleagues brought back wood apple they picked during their post-lunch walk around the campus, there was an animated discussion for a while about the different ways of cracking open the shell of the fruit to take the pulp out, and its’ uses. And I gladly accepted the offer one of them was making to share the few he had picked up, since I’ve wanted for years to make wood apple chutney. Whenever we’ve talked about this fruit with friends, Shri’s always talked fondly of his memory of how the fruit used to fall with a resounding plop from the tree in his grandfather’s house in Akola, where he spent many years, and of the chutney made with the pulp of the fruit.

Dada had told me a long time ago that the shell comes off easily if the fruit is roasted, so I did that today, and made the chutney in the way that Atto told me to on the phone last week. Must say that it is a really delicious chutney, and so quick and easy to make too. Luckily there were some pakoras left over from the lot that the cook fried for tonight’s kadhi, and I’ve enjoyed eating those with the chutney !

Wood Apple Chutney

Wood Apple 1

2 tsp of cumin powder

1/2 tsp of red chilli powder

3 tbsp of jaggery granules

Roast the fruit over a flame till the shell is cracked all over. Scoop the flesh out and once it’s cooled, grind all the ingredients with some salt and water in a mixer till the chutney has the right consistency.

And that’s it !

To my surprise, I’ve realized, on reading about it, that this fruit is most likely the same as  bel, with which Ma used to make sharbat in the summer. Except that I seem to remember a larger sized fruit when I think of bel, or perhaps the fruit is allowed to grow larger before it is used to make sharbat. Either way, I going to  find out from Ma about how to make the sharbat, it is just such a delicious treat on a hot summer day.

Tomato Chutney-a Desi -and nicer-Ketchup

The boulanger never wants a chutney/sauce to accompany the vadas, tikkis etc. that I make for his customers.  He doesn’t seem to think it is necessary and this is difficult for me to understand, used as I am to eating any finger food with a dip of some kind.

So yesterday, since he was to going to sell summer-inspired platters of salads and finger foods – he asked for both the khamang kakdi and the carrot salad with chicken tikkas, shami kebabs and batata vadas– I decided to give him some complimentary tomato chutney to serve on the side, for him to test the concept again.

This chutney is another bit of nostalgia from my childhood. In the summer months, dinner was often just this chutney and vegetable pulav with yogurt.

I love the flavor that comes from the use of paanchphoran here and of course that it is so easy to make is another plus.

As I made it yesterday, I thought this chutney would be so much nicer to have, with Indian starters such as pakoras and tikkis, than ketchup.

Tomato Chutney

3 large, ripe tomatoes

1 tablespoon of oil

1/4 teaspoon each of mustard seeds, nigella seeds, fennel seeds, cumin seeds and fenugreek seeds

salt and brown sugar to taste

Wash and chop the tomatoes very fine.

In a frying pan, heat the oil, then add the mustard seeds and the nigella seeds. When the mustard seeds start to pop, add the fennel seeds and the cumin seeds. When these start to brown, add the fenugreek seeds, fry for just a couple of seconds and put in the tomatoes.  Add salt and cook the tomatoes till they are completely soft. Add some sugar  (the chutney should be tangy, not too sweet), cook for another minute, then add water and simmer for a few minutes till the water is well-blended and the chutney is a little thick.

This chutney is a great accompaniment with puri and jeera-aloo, too.

Peanut Chutney – Desi Peanut Butter, could we say?

When I made rava idlis last week, I made this peanut chutney to go with them and it was a big hit with Shri and the girls.

I had found myself thinking, as I made it, that this was almost a desi version of peanut butter. That thought was validated when Indira asked if I could make her a sandwich one day with this chutney 🙂

The recipe here derives from two blogs, here and here.

Peanut Chutney

1 cup of grilled, unsalted peanuts

1 small onion, chopped in to large chunks

2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

1 red chili (or more, as per taste)

3 teaspoons of oil

2-3 tablespoons (or to taste) of thick tamarind paste

salt to taste

1/2 a teaspoon of mustard seeds

1 teaspoon of  dhuli urad daal (skin less black gram lentils)

5-6 curry leaves

Heat two teaspoons of oil in a frying pan. Add half of the red chilli, the onions and the garlic and saute till the onions start to turn a little brown.

Take the pan off the heat and leave the onion mixture to cool.

In a blender, combine the peanuts, the onion mixture, the tamarind paste and salt with about 1/2 to 2/3 of a cup of water.

Take the chutney out in to a serving bowl.

Heat the third spoon of oil in a small frying pan. Add the mustard seeds and when these start to pop, add the curry leaves and the other half of the red chili. Fry for a couple of seconds, then add the lentils, fry till they turn golden brown and pour this mixture in the pan over the chutney and mix everything together well.

I let the chutney sit for a while before serving it; I think the flavors come together better with that.

Plum Chutney

The principle/process is just the same as for the mango chutney.


Today when I made this for the boulangerie I got about 16 tablespoons of chutney from –

350 grams of plums

8 tablespoons of brown sugar

1/3 cup of water

The other ingredients are:

salt to taste

3-4 sticks of cinnamon

4-5 cloves

1 teaspoon (or less) of cumin seeds

1/2 of 1 whole red chilli (optional)

1 tablespoon of oil

Cut the plums, remove the seeds and dice the flesh in to small cubes. Heat oil in a pan, then add the cumin seeds and other spices. After a few seconds add the plums, the salt and the water. After the plums have become soft add the sugar and cook everything together for a few minutes till the chutney begins to acquire a syrupy texture.

Another nice accompaniment for things like pakoras ,tikkis and even tandoori chicken.

Mango Chutney

During my second pregnancy, I developed this craving for the Gujarati mango chutney called chhundo. The odd thing was that I had never liked it’s taste before, since it was always a little too sweet for me, so I couldn’t understand this sudden yearning for it.

I made this chutney for the first time then – since it is not available anywhere near here – with one of those large Peruvian mangoes (like some of the African varieties now available as well, these are not as sweet as most Indian varieties and in fact even a ripe fruit often retains a sour tinge) I found in Carrefour. The recipe itself is adapted from one I found on the net at the time.

This is definitely not the real McCoy, but nice enough. I like it on a slice of toast, or with puris.

Mango Chutney

1 firm mango, peeled and diced very fine, or grated

1 whole red chilly broken in two

a couple of sticks of cinnamon

3-4 cloves

1/4 teaspoon of cumin seeds

1/2 a tablespoon of oil

1/4 teaspoon of turmeric powder

salt and sugar to taste

Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the whole spices. When these start to release their aroma, add the turmeric powder, the mango

and salt. Cook on a medium heat till the mango is quite soft (I sometimes add a little water to help this along) and then if needed break it up with a potato masher. Add some sugar and cook for a few minutes. Check to see if the chutney needs more sugar or salt, then take off the heat and store in a bottle when it has cooled.

This is nice with pakoras too.