All posts filed under: Gujarati Cooking

Mohanthal-sm

Gujarati Mohanthal

Okay, round two. Not only is this our second Diwali sweet of the week – it’s also my second time making this Gujarati favourite for my blog. Mohanthal  (pronounced: moHanTHaal) are squares of mace-laced butter fudge made with chickpea flour. A staple in homes during festivals, these sweet pieces of fudge are studded with crunchy pieces of chickpea flour ‘crumble’ or ‘dhrabo’. Mohanthal can be served in two ways: In pieces like the kind here, or loose as a lava-like liquid gold you scoop up with a spoon and nothing more. There’s a time and a place for both. Pieces of Mohanthal are perfect for gifting to friends and family during Diwali. The loose kind is more of a hot dessert served after a traditional Gujarati meal. My favourite way to have it is right after a meal of Aakhu Shaak (whole vegetables stuffed with peanut masala), daal, rice, rotli and sambharo (stir-fried cabbage and carrots with mustard seeds). Heaven. Shop-bought Mohanthal will often be brown in colour but I like my mine to be bright …

Homemade Chapattis

Homemade Chapattis – Gujarati Rotli

The smell that floods a home when the first chapatti goes on the cast-iron hotplate surrounds me with comfort and joy I cannot even explain. It’s my most favourite smell in the whole world because it represents my childhood, my family and every moment (both happy and sad) in our home. Gujarati chapattis (rotli) are the glue that sticks everything Indian families eat together… or should I say the bread the scoops up all of our daals and curries. They’re an everyday staple and without them, a weeknight meal would be incomplete. I’ve known men who won’t touch their dinner unless there are hot, freshly-made rotlis on the table. Softer and smaller than your average Punjabi or Pakistani Roti (the kind you’d get in most restaurants), these Gujarati Rotli have oil in the dough and are cooked on a super-hot cast-iron tawa/lodhi, leaving them delicious and toasty. I don’t cook them on an open flame because they’re so soft, they’d just break. They still puff up like hot air balloons as they cook on the lodhi. …

Burnt Aubergine and Spinach Curry 4

Melt-in-the-Mouth Burnt Aubergine and Spinach Curry

I live and breathe Gujarati food. Simple vegetarian dishes we’d eat every night when I was young are what have inspired my love of cooking today. Oroh was one of those dishes mum would cook as a midweek dinner after our evening swim at our local leisure centre. Oroh is simply a name for smoky aubergine cooked with garlic, onions, tomatoes and chillies. If you’re a fan of North Indian food, you’ll probably know it as Baingan Bharta – the Punjabi version. Oroh is the Gujarati name for it and here’s how we cook it at home. It’s really easy to be afraid of overdoing it with this dish. You might think it’s mad to add as much garlic as my recipe calls for but please do stick with it. The burnt aubergine needs flavours that can stand up to it so that the result is smoky, spicy, punchy and tangy. I learnt to cook this when I was 12 years old and it blew my mind. I thought it was insane to cook aubergines on …

Daal Vada

Bullet Banana Daal Vada

Happy 2014! It’s a new year and time to start getting excited about the adventures ahead. This year I get to marry my best friend and biggest supporter in all my work and passions. I have never felt so excited and nervous in my whole life. I thought it would only be right to begin the year with a recipe that’s close to my heart; one which combines my love for Gujarati and East-African food in a beautiful way. Traditional Gujarati Daal Vada are crunchy, spicy and perfect for dipping into yoghurt. My East-African version incorporates bananas to add a hint of sweetness against the intense chilli and lemon heat. The magical thing about adding ripe banana to the batter is that it reacts with the lemon and baking powder, creating a puffy, fluffy-in-the-middle fritters that still have an incredible golden crunch on the outside because of the ground mung daal, urad daal and rice. For me, rice is an important addition to any Daal Vada recipe because it ensures the fritters are crispy on …

Mombasa-style Kachori

Mombasa-style Daal Kachori

Spiced Daal and Green Mango in Flaky Pastry Deep fried starters; once you eat one, you’ll always go back for a second. Fact. Kachori are like the forgotten little sister of samosa – the underdog starter that accidently slipped through the fingers of Western restaurateurs. I cannot emphasise enough how good lentils are with sweet, hot and sour flavours. The addition of sour green mango cuts through the richness of the daal and spices and balances the deep heat of the chillies, ginger and cinnamon perfectly. These kachori are inspired by those sold at the famous Bhagwanjis sweet mart in Mombasa, Kenya. My entire family raves about Kenya-style kachori and these, along with Bateta Vada, are guaranteed to put a smile on my dad’s face. And I can vouch that he has great taste. Kachori come in all flavours, shapes and sizes. You can stuff the classic flaky pastry with crushed green peas, urad daal or even potatoes. They can be made into UFO-like patties and topped with yoghurt, chopped onions and tomatoes to make …

Peanut Masala Stuffed Aubergines

Baby Aubergines Stuffed with Peanut Masala

Stuffing baby vegetables with spicy, nutty masala can be a beautiful thing. It’s nothing new, Gujaratis have been popping a tray of them onto their dinner party tables for years. Stuffed vegetables are, and always have been the ultimate show-off dish – the more extensive the variety of veggies you manage to wangle into the dish, the more fabulous you are. I remember when I was little it was just aubergines, potatoes and onions in our family kitchen. As I grew, we became more and more adventurous with what we put in; it all began with bananas (my granddad used to add these back in Mombasa), then we added peas to the sauce, stuffed baby courgettes, okra, paneer (you didn’t really think I’d miss that one out did you?) and no matter what it was, it still tasted amazing. Go ahead, be fabulous and experiment with your stuffed veggie curry. Today I’m downsizing. Not because I can’t be bothered, but because I know these fresh baby aubergines I got from the market (no lie, I …

Crispy Potato Bhajia (2)

Crispy Potato Bhajia

Served in paper cones with fried green chillies for that ‘bhajia on the beach’ feel I’ve always been a sucker for ordering too many starters in restaurants, especially when it involves Crispy Potato Bhajia (paper-thin potato slices coated in a bespoke spice blend), Hara Bara Kebabs (pea and cauliflower cakes) and Daal Kachori (spiced daal in semolina pastry). I’m told my eyes are bigger than my belly and I’ve never been one to argue with legitimate allegations. Although I love eating out as much as I love home cooking, there’s always one question lingering on my lips as I attempt to make a choice of which restaurant to spend my Friday evening in  – do they serve decent starters? In all honesty, I think I can judge an Indian restaurant menu by the starters they have to offer. If the vegetarian appetisers are limited to samosas and onion bhajis (to this day, I still don’t understand onion bhajis – what are they and where did they come from?) I know I’m not going to be …

dudhi-muthiya-featured

Dudhi Na Muthiya (Steamed Bottlegourd Dumplings)

The prospect of an Indian breakfast is sometimes just the kick I need to pull myself from my cosy bed. This usually only ever takes place on weekends or during time-off from the day job, so it’s always a welcome treat. Along with a spicy breakfast, there’s nothing more satisfying than using up leftovers. This recipe for Dudhi Na Muthyia hits both of those spots. They’re made using grated bottlegourd (doodhi/lauki), cold leftover rice, chickpea flour and a medley of subtle spices. The dumplings are then formed into log-shapes and gently steamed to lock in plenty of flavour and moisture. Once cooled, the cooked muthiya are quickly sautéed with sesame seeds and curry leaves to add that final dimension of flavour and a gorgeously crisp, golden texture. So many people prefer them straight from the steamer without sautéing them first – perhaps a consequence of impatience more than anything else. I have been known to finish them off before I actually finish off the recipe, not that I should actually be admitting to this. I …

khaman

Khaman

Guess who’s back? Over the next four weeks I’ll be running a series called Indian Cooking Step-by-Step in which I’ll be exploring classic recipes from a handful of Indian regions. Join me as I prepare Khaman – a Gujarati favourite in under 50 minutes. I’m not too proud to admit that I’m a terrible teacher, but when it comes to cooking Indian food, I can’t help but put my two pence in. I become a wannabe Gujarati (hailing from the state of Gujarat in western India) Mary Poppins who’s full of the old-school tips I picked up watching various female family members squabble over how much ginger to put in the daal. Khaman are fluffy, steamed, savoury cakes made with chickpea flour and a divine topping of tempered mustard seeds, sesame seeds, curry leaves, shredded coconut and coriander. The tempered topping is the most magical part of the recipe, as hot oil with sizzling spices is (very carefully) splashed with water, and then drizzled over the top of the delicately-spicy savoury cake. The result is …

potato-cashew

Potato and Cashew Nut Curry (Sukha Bateta Nu Shaak)

Let me introduce you to the first part of one of the most amazing brunches known to man (and woman) – Potato and Cashew Nut Curry with Little Deep Fried Breads, also known as Sukha Bateta Nu Shaak and Masala Poori. My heart just did a little somersault. My fondest memories of eating this dish lie with the time I lived with my parents. Waking up on sleepy Sunday mornings (or to be more accurate, Sunday midday in my case) to the smell of aromatic curry leaves, fresh ginger and freshly fried spicy dough permeated my nostrils, coaxing me out of bed and into the kitchen to witness exactly what everyone needs to experience at least once in life – Bateta Nu Shaak and Masala Poori for brunch. The whole shebang was like a starved bear waking up from hibernation to the smell of honey-drenched baklava. Well, something like that anyway. This dry curry epitomises Gujarati cooking with its fluffy potatoes, crunchy cashews and light spicing, complimented by a squeeze of zingy lemon juice. Garnish …

classic-shrikhand

Classic Shrikhand and Eggless Red Velvet Cupcakes

In case you hadn’t noticed, I have been MIA for a week – but thankfully, I have a great excuse. If you follow me on Facebook you’ll know that I’ve been spending most of time baking for a lovely little party I attended last weekend. On the entirely eggless dessert menu were Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting, Chocolate Fudge Cake, Vanilla & Cherry Sponge Cake, Chocolate & Coconut Cake Pops and Shrikhand Cheesecake. Speaking of shrikhand, here’s my very classic (and simple) recipe for one of my favourite Gujarati desserts. I’m adding this to the royal wedding banquet menu not because it’s an authentic Mughlai dish, but because it’s rich, opulent and incredibly well-suited to that particular style of cooking. Three spices I never fail to add to this dessert are green cardamom seeds, saffron and just a pinch of mace – these aromatic flavours are what make shrikhand, well shrikhand really. An acquired taste for many, this thick tangy yogurt is the perfect way to end an indulgent meal on a warm …

sev-tameta

Quick Sev and Tomato Curry (Sev Tameta nu Shaak)

  Firstly, I’m going to make an attempt at guessing what you’re thinking; “What the heck are sev and where do I get them from?” These are great questions, great questions to which I don’t have great answers. I know that’s not very helpful however, I’ll do my best to explain the deliciousness of this mysterious ingredient. Because you need to know. Sev are a Gujarati snack, closely related to ‘gathia’ in the way they’re made from chickpea flour and fried. They come in all different sizes and are classed as a ‘farsan’ or savoury snack. They’re best described as crunchy, nutty and great for sprinkling on top of cassava dishes and spiced yogurts. In this classic Gujarati recipe I’ve re-created à la KO I’ve used jinni (small) sev which is very traditional and also very cute. The tiny little strands soak up the sweet, tangy and spicy flavours of the rich tomato base.   I used cherry tomatoes because that’s what I had, but you can use any variety of fresh tomatoes you have. …