Village-Style Gujarati Khichdi (Buttery Rice & Lentils)

The clattering of pots, pans and spoons in my kitchen is a sound that fills me with comfort and joy. It’s the first dish I crave after a long trip away and the hug in a bowl I need when autumn sets in. At the first whiff of mellow rice and lentils emanating from my cooker, there’s only one thing that matters; I’m home.

Village-Style Gujarati Khichdi

I’m making Khichdi, Gujarati style, like how they eat it on the farm in my ancestral home of Porbandar. It’s served with Gujarati Lasan ni Chutney, a blow-your-socks-off garlic and chilli preserve, and a cold glass of Chaas (salted buttermilk with roasted cumin). This is the comfort food every Gujarati has precious memories of growing up. The porridge-like consistency of a ghee-beaten rice and lentil mishmash was usually the first solid food we ever ate as toothless babies and our fondness for it stayed with us right through to adulthood. It became a familiar and nostalgic comfort blanket for the belly.

Loaded with hearty goodness and family tradition, Khichdi was and (still is) regarded as being every doting Gujarati mother’s nourishment of choice for her child.

My recipe uses salt but feel free to omit it or reduce the amount for weaning. Just a few weeks ago, I prepared a salt-free version for my 6-month old and he gobbled it up with gusto. It was his first real taste of food, as it was mine 29 years ago.

Village-Style Gujarati Khichdi (Buttery Rice & Lentils)

Unlike other regional variations of the dish, Gujarati Khichdi is subtle and gently spiced but still creamy with ghee or butter. It’s not pilau or biryani and traditionally, Khichdi is not loved for its long, separate grains you strive to achieve with other rice dishes. Think risotto. It’s a stodgy, filling rice and lentil porridge with or without a blend of spices depending on the regional style and interpretation you choose.

I like to use dried, split mung beans with the husks on (mung daal chilla) but you can also use the skinned yellow variety of mung daal if you prefer. As far as spices go, turmeric, asafoetida and black pepper are all that’s needed.

Village-Style Gujarati Khichdi

Village-Style Gujarati Khichdi

Buttery rice and lentils simmered with turmeric and black pepper. The ultimate hug-in-a-bowl dish for cold nights.

  • 125 g basmati rice
  • 125 g dried, split mung beans ((the kind with the husks left on, also known as mung daal chilla))
  • 600 ml hot water
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/8 tsp asafoetida
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 100 g butter or ghee (plus more for serving)
  • 1 tsp freshly-ground black peppercorns
  1. Combine the rice and dried split mung beans. Wash them in cold water several times and then place them in a pan that has a tight-fitting lid.

  2. Add the water, turmeric, asafoetida and salt. Stir and bring to the boil. Place the lid on the pan and reduce the burner to low. Cook for 25 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed and the khichdi is tender.

  3. Next, add in the butter and black pepper and beat the khichdi with a wooden spoon for a minute until creamy and porridge-like in consistency.

  4. Serve with more butter or ghee and Gujarati Lasan ni Chutney (optional but delicious).

  • You can also cook the khichdi in a pressure cooker. Follow the same method and cook for 10 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before opening the cooker and beating in the butter and black pepper.

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Village-Style Gujarati Khichdi




Gujarati Lasan ni Chutney (No-Cook Garlic Chutney)

Gujarati Lasan ni Chutney is the condiment to rule all condiments. It’s made with a tonne of crushed raw garlic, chilli, lemon, fresh coriander, salt and oil. That’s it. No cooking and no fancy spices. This is simple Kathiyawadi village fare from the heart of Gujarat. Kathiyawad is a peninsula off the western coast of India, in the region of Saurashtra and it’s where my family come from. Made up of several districts including Porbandar, Junagadh and Jamnagar, many people who live there have farming in their blood and an appetite for simply cooked but flavour-rich fare.

Serve Gujarati Lasan ni Chutney as an accompaniment to any curry (aubergines work particularly well and are traditional fare), Indian breads like millet chapattis (Bajra na Rotla), wheat chapattis both thin and thick (Rotli and Bhakhri) and fenugreek chapattis (Thepla) are the ultimate pairing. It also livens up a bowl of warm, comforting lentil and rice stew (Khichdi). For a less traditional but equally delicious use for Gujarati Lasan ni Chutney, stir it into warm vegetables, pasta sauces, stews and soups. Another thing that I like to do is to fold some into mashed sweet potatoes with a little butter. It is truly brilliant when you need instant garlic and chillies when making lazy curries – just dollop a spoonful in to your tempered spices and sauté. You could even beat it with plain yoghurt for a speedy drizzle or dip for chaat, mixed vegetable pulao and even fries!

Gujarati Lasan ni Chutney is something that’s often made fresh every day, our busy schedules often don’t permit us to pound fresh garlic chutney each day so I have a workaround. I make a big batch of Gujarati Lasan ni Chutney, pile it into a clean, sterilised jar and then each time we use it, I top it off with a layer of oil to ensure it stays fresh in the fridge. The oil and salt in the chutney itself help to preserve the fresh ingredients so it lasts absolutely ages. You only need a small amount of chutney to add big flavour to a meal so it’s worth making it in batches.

This is good old-fashioned farmer food so leave the blender in the cupboard and make it by hand. I like to use a garlic crusher and then mix all the ingredients together but you could also pound it all in a pestle and mortar for a coarse and deliciously-garlicky accompaniment to any traditional Gujarati thali.

Gujarati Lasan ni Chutney (No-Cook Garlic Chutney)

Gujarati Lasan ni Chutney is the condiment to rule all condiments. It’s made with a tonne of crushed raw garlic, chilli, lemon, fresh coriander, salt and oil. That’s it. No cooking and no fancy spices. This is simple Kathiyawadi village fare from the heart of Gujarat. 

  • 3 large bulbs fresh garlic, peeled and crushed ((I use a garlic crusher))
  • 400 g Kashmiri red chilli powder
  • 120 g fresh coriander ((finely chopped))
  • 270 ml sunflower or rapeseed oil
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • Juice of 2 large lemons
  1. Use a wooden spoon to mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl. I don’t recommend using a blender as that will dramatically change the texture. A coarse finish is what’s traditional and it’s perfect. You could also crush it using a pestle and mortar.

  2. Pile the mixture into a large sterilised jar, packing it down as tightly as you can.

  3. Top with a coating of oil to preserve it and remember to to this every time you use it. Store in the refrigerator and consume within 2 months.

Makes enough to fill a 0.5L clip top jar.

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Gujarati Lasan ni Chutney (No-Cook Garlic Chutney)

Gujarati Lasan ni Chutney is the condiment to rule all condiments. It’s made with a tonne of crushed raw garlic, chilli, lemon, fresh coriander, salt and oil. That’s it. No cooking and no fancy spices. This is simple Kathiyawadi village fare from the heart of Gujarat.




Salted Caramel Mohanthal

My grandfather was a sweet maker. He had big, thick-skinned hands that were made for harvesting sugar canes using a machete and stirring giant pots of bubbling syrup. He never used a sugar thermometer. He could tell it was done just by looking at the consistency of the syrup, perhaps testing it using a little cold water to see if it had a “one-string consistency ” or what a western pastry chef might call the “soft ball stage”. Indian sweet making isn’t for the feint hearted, you see. It’s painstakingly long, laborious, hot and intense work. Stirring, stirring, all the time you’re stirring. No, don’t stop because it will catch on the bottom and your whole mixture will taste scorched. Some of the most revered and expensive ingredients in Indian culture: sugar, milk, ghee and saffron, all wasted. If it was your full-time job and you had a knack for getting distracted, you’d be out of the door faster than you can say, “Oh fudge!”.

Salted Caramel Mohanthal

If you’ve ever stepped inside an Indian sweet shop you’ll be able to appreciate how much thought, heart and family history goes in to the spectacular arrangements of sweet stuff on display. Clue: the good ones almost always have the most tattered sign outside, as well as the longest queue to get in. Squares of milk fudge, diamond-shaped halwas and nut-studded pastry rolls adorned with warq (silver leaf) are majestic enough to transport you to the palaces of ancient India.

One of my favourite Indian sweets has to be Mohanthal – a rich, crunchy milk fudge made with chickpea flour, also known as besan. It’s traditonally spiced with cardamom, mace and saffron but here I’ve added a salted caramel twist because let’s be frank, who doesn’t love salted caramel?

Side note: there are plenty of varieties of vegetarian gold and silver leaf available now. I say this because there have been a tonne of internet rumours floating around claiming that all silver and gold leaf is made using non-veggie processes (I’ll spare you the details) but you don’t need me to tell you not to believe everything you read online, eh? If you’re not sure just ask in the shop. The good ones will show you the packaging from the one they use.

Salted Caramel Mohanthal

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. The liquid kind is is fondly known as Disco Mohanthal (which sounds just as fun as it is delicious). There’s a time and a place for both. I’ve set this Salted Caramel Mohanthal into crunchy fudge pieces but the addition of sweet caramel also means it is ridiculously good as bubbling Disco Mohanthal.

This is a pretty special recipe, guys. It’s a labour of love and is a very traditional way of making Mohanthal (no shortcuts with gum Arabic or goondh), the way a true Indian confectioner would make it – my only tweak is the addition of salted caramel. Don’t shy away because of the different steps. Indian sweet making is a beautiful, highly-specialised process which takes time and patience to master. Perseverance is key and once you’ve had a go and tasted your first batch, you’ll be hooked.

Salted Caramel Mohanthal

Salted Caramel Mohanthal

These squares of cardamom and mace-laced butter fudge made with chickpea flour are a Gujarati favourite at special occasions. What a treat!

For the Dhrabo:

  • 320 g chickpea flour
  • 2 tbsp whole milk
  • 1 tbsp melted ghee

For the Mohanthal:

  • 250 ml melted ghee
  • 90 g whole milk powder
  • 1 tsp ground green cardamom seeds
  • 2 tbsp slivered almonds
  • 2 tbsp slivered pistachios
  • 1 pinch saffron ((I use Spanish saffron))
  • 1 tsp ground mace
  • Orange food colour ((optional))
  • 220 g jar of salted caramel
  • 1 1/2 tsp fleur de sel
  • Gold leaf, to decorate ((optional))

For the Sugar Syrup:

  • 400 g granulated sugar
  • 250 ml water
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  1. To make the dhrabo place the gram flour in a bowl and add 1 tbsp melted ghee and 2 tbsp milk. Rub the mixture in between your fingers until it resembles breadcrumbs. Allow this to sit for 30 minutes.

  2. Sieve the dhrabo mixture through a medium-holed colander rubbing any large pieces between your fingers and pushing it through the sieve. Be patient. Set aside.

  3. In a pan, add the ingredients for the sugar syrup and simmer until it is of a one-string consistency (this is the ‘soft-ball’ stage if you have a candy thermometer, 113°C/235°F). Keep this hot but do not let it go past the soft ball stage. 

    Tip: To test if the sugar syrup is ready without using a sugar thermometer, drop 1/2 tsp syrup into a bowl of cold water. You should be able to roll the syrup into a soft ball between your fingers. Once your syrup has reached this stage, stop cooking the syrup.

  4. In a large, wide, no-stick pan add one cup of ghee and the dhrabo mixture you have passed through a sieve. Cook this on a medium heat until it becomes a golden almond colour. Keep stirring and wait for the ghee to separate from the flour at the sides of the pan. Remove from the heat and allow this to cool until it is just warm. Add the cardamom powder, saffron, milk powder and mace powder. Don’t be impatient – let this cool properly or your mixture will seize up and become hard and crumbly as the mixture will become too hot.

  5. Pour the hot syrup over the cooled flour mixture and stir until fully incorporated. Add 180g salted caramel. Add some orange food colouring if you wish.

  6. Pour the mixture into a greased thali or wide dish with sides. Even the top out using the back of a spoon. Swirl in the remaining salted caramel. Sprinkle with almonds, pistachios and fleur de sel.

  7. Allow this to set for 12 hours at room temperature and then cut into pieces using a sharp knife.

  • Making Disco Mohanthal? At step 5, add an extra 250ml water after you’ve mixed in the syrup and colour and serve hot with vanilla ice cream and sprinkled with almonds and pistachios.
  • Adding lemon juice to your sugar syrup will stop it from crystallising around the sides of the pan.
  • Keep refrigerated. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

 

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Salted Caramel Mohanthal
Love Sanjana




Vegan Khandvi (Indian Chickpea Pasta Rolls)

Hot, sour, sweet and salty; These are the characteristics of the Gujarati dishes I grew up eating. From spongy Khaman Dhokla, to Sev Tameta nu Shaak, chickpea flour plays an integral role in the make up of regional Gujarati food. It’s used for batters and bhajiya (across India), as the basis for Pudla (chickpea flour pancakes) and as a thickener for soups like the yoghurt-based favourite, Kadhi. One thing all of these dishes have in common is that each one is famous for being hot, sour, sweet and salty.

Vegan Khandvi (Indian Chickpea Pasta Rolls)

Another savoury Gujarati snack that’s known for having these explosive and delicious flavours is Khandvi. It’s a village-style rolled pasta made with chickpea flour and yoghurt (in this case, soy yoghurt) which is always served with a tempering of mustard seeds, curry leaves and chillies crackled in hot oil. The sound and smell of the smoking oil hitting the smooth surface of the pasta rolls gives me all the feels. The texture is soft, silky and it melts in your mouth, unlike the wheat pasta we’re all so used to. If you’re a pasta lover on the lookout for something a little bit more unusual, you’ve got to try these. Or maybe you remember your grandma making these for you when you were a kid…

I’ve always been fascinated by how food travels. All cultures have their own versions of pasta, bread, rice dishes, dumplings, pancakes and so much more. While Indian street food trends are currently all about Pasta Dosa and Maggi noodles, a brief look back into rich regional cuisines will reveal pasta-like treasures such as these Khandvi rolls, Daal Dhokli, Sev and Gathia. And boy, are they good.

I love Khandvi it because it requires very few ingredients to make and it’s also one of those rare Gujarati Naasto dishes (tea-time snacks) that isn’t fried. As much as I adore Bateta Vada (fried spicy potato balls), I know it’s not a treat I’ll scoff every day. These on the other hand, I’d go for Khandvi any time, any day.

Vegan Khandvi (Indian Chickpea Pasta Rolls)

Here are some things to bear in mind when making Khandvi (grandma style) as well as some new school tips for getting your noodle sheets rolled thinly and evenly.

  • Use a blender for a smooth, cohesive Khandvi batter. Lumps aren’t wanted here. Wait, are lumps ever wanted anywhere?
  • Cook the Khandvi batter in a non-stick pan, low and slow. It thickens pretty quickly so you want to give yourself time to get those pesky lumps out.
  • Use a silicone spatula or whisk to stir when cooking the Khandvi batter.
  • Pay close attention to the consistency of the batter. It’s ready when the batter no longer falls off the spatula when lifted and begins to set on the sides of the pan. Think peanut butter consistency. To check if the batter is ready to spread, you can spread a little bit over a steel plate or piece of foil, allow it to set for a few minutes and then see if it rolls up easily. If not, cook it a little longer.
  • This one is super important… You need to work quickly! Khandvi batter doesn’t wait around. Once it reaches the right consistency, it must be spread very quickly. It helps to have your foil sheets ready on the work surface before you even start cooking the batter.
  • A lot of recipes call for the surface of the foil or thali you’re spreading the batter on to be greased. Do this VERY lightly otherwise the batter is going to slide around and clump up like no man’s business. This will make it impossible to spread.
  • To spread the khandvi, I use a silicone spatula. Once it’s spread as evenly as I can get it (and still hot), I cover it with a piece of cling film and then use a rolling pin to roll it as thin as I can get it, about 1-2mm.
  • If you have one, use a pizza cutter to slice your set Khandvi – it’s so much easier and neater than trying to use a knife.
  • This recipe is for Vegan Khandvi and uses soy yoghurt but the traditional version just uses regular yoghurt.
  • Serve the Khandvi at room temperature simply by themselves, with masala chai or your favourite chutney.

Vegan Khandvi (Indian Chickpea Pasta Rolls)

Tightly rolled, bite-sized pieces of pasta made using chickpea flour and soy yoghurt. They hot, sweet, sour, salty and so delicious. Khandvi is a popular snack from Gujarat, western India.

For the vegan khandvi rolls:

  • 140 g chickpea flour
  • 280 ml cold water
  • 285 g soy yoghurt ((such as Alpro))
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 20 g ginger ((grated))
  • 1 1/2 tsp fine salt
  • 3 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida ((optional – omit for gluten-free Khandvi))
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric

For the tempering:

  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 10-12 curry leaves
  • 2-3 thin chillies ((pierced))
  • 2 tbsp fresh or desiccated coconut
  • 2 tbsp freshly-chopped coriander leaves

To make the khandvi:

  1. Blend all the ingredients for the khandvi rolls together to make a smooth paste.

  2. Place two large sheets of aluminium foil on a heat-resistant surface (about 1M long sheets) and grease them with oil VERY lightly.

  3. Pour the batter mixture into a non-stick pan and cook it over a low flame for 8-10 minutes, until it’s the consistency of thick, smooth peanut butter. Keep stirring constantly to stop it from settling at the bottom and creating unwanted lumps. I find the best tool for this is either a silicone whisk or silicone spatula.

  4. Working very quickly, spread half the batter on top of the first sheet of foil. Spread it thinly and evenly using a silicone spatula. Place a piece of cling film on top. Repeat for the second half of the batter on top of the second piece of foil. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough evenly between the cling film and foil. It should be 1-2mm thick. Allow it to set for 5 minutes.

  5. Use a pizza cutter or sharp knife, trim away any scrappy, uneven edges (those are for you to enjoy). Slice the Khandvi into long strips, all about the same width. Use your fingers to roll them up tightly. Repeat for all the Khandvi sheets and arrange on to a platter or plate.

For the tempering:

  1. Heat the oil in a small pan. Add the mustard seeds, curry leaves and chillies and cook until the mustard seeds have finished popping. Pour this over the rolled Khandvi. Garnish with chopped coriander and coconut.

  • Serve the Khandvi at room temperature.
  • Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 48 hours.

Find some video tutorials on making this Khandvi over on my Instagram Stories.

Click the image below to Pin this recipe to your Pinterest board.

Tightly rolled, bite-sized pieces of pasta made using chickpea flour and soy yoghurt. They hot, sweet, sour, salty and so delicious. Khandvi is a popular snack from Gujarat, western India.




Sticky, Crispy Chilli Khichi (Gujarati Rice Flour Dumplings)

The pregnancy cravings are real, people. Indian savoury snacks are my weakness. They include, but aren’t limited to: Dhokra, samosas, khichi, muthiya, idli, chakri, upma and bhajia. Simple things I’ve never made too often at home, but in the last 5 months I’ve taken the time to satisfy my cravings with the proper home-cooked versions. And I’ve loved every minute of it.

Sticky, Crispy Chilli Khichi (Gujarati Rice Flour Dumplings)

Most of you will know that it’s been my long-term dream to have a surprise birthday tandoor at home. Well I still don’t have one. However, my parents bought me a ginormous and Indian-style stacking steamer for my 28th birthday and it’s the best! It’s not beautiful and fancy, it’s a commercial appliance that doesn’t quite fit in my kitchen cupboard unless it’s disassembled. But it’s quickly become my favourite thing. It has multiple layers, baskets and a tight-fitting lid that fluffs up dhokra, muthiya and khichi perfectly.

Khichi, khichu, khichiya and papdi no lot are all names for one iconic Gujarati savoury snack made with rice flour and a few very basic spices. It can be prepared and served in a number of different ways depending on the particular family style and recipe. My favourite way is to shape and steam the rice flour dough for perfect little pucks with a chewy dumpling texture. Other popular methods include cooking it in a pan from start to finish, pressure cooking or even microwaving it.

Sticky, Crispy Chilli Khichi (Gujarati Rice Flour Dumplings)

Traditionally, khichi or papdi no lot (which literally translates to “cooked dough” is served with a bowl of oil. No BS, a bowl of regular plant-based oil like groundnut, sunflower or vegetable oil. Not olive oil, not ghee, not butter. Just oil. I liken it to dipping bread in olive oil in the West, except the point is not to add flavour, but to transform the texture of the dish. The reason why it makes so much sense is because it completely changes the texture of the dish. A slick of oil on the khichi after steaming stops them sticking together and dipping them in oil whilst eating gives the chewy rice flour dumplings a soft, slippery texture that’s not entirely unlike the feeling of eating buttered noodles. Growing up with something as comforting as that gives the most intense cravings!

The combination of ingredients in khichi are always a simple mix so you can really taste the rice flour base. Usually it’s cumin, ginger, salt and chillies. Turmeric and garlic are optional extras. Fresh turmeric is option and adds a gorgeous raw mango flavour and intense colour. I add a little bicarbonate of soda to my khichi to lighten them up a little and ensure they’re not overly dense. They puff up a touch when they steam. Note that adding turmeric and bicarbonate of soda will give your khichi a slight orange hue. You could choose to skip the bicarbonate of soda and add turmeric for yellow khichi or leave both out and make white khichi. I’ve tried them all and prefer to add both. The recipe will work either way. The choice is yours.

Khichi. Little rice dumplings with chilli, cumin and coriander, steamed and ready to eat #GujaratiFood #vegetarian #london #vegan #veganfood #rice #glutenfree #snacks #veganfood #vegansofig #veganfoodshare #eeeeeats #forkyeah #foodpics #indianfood #eeeeeats #vegetariano

Here I’ve shared my recipe for both classic rice flour khichi or papdi no lot, as well as a more playful recipe for a dish I’ve called Sticky, Crispy Chilli Khichi which is perfect for using up leftover khichi. It’s a play on popular Indian restaurant dishes like Chilli Paneer, Chilli Mogo and Chilli Idli which use Chinese ingredients like soy sauce and 5-spice. Similar to the recipe for Sizzling Chilli Idli I posted a couple of years back.

Sticky, Crispy Chilli Khichi (Gujarati Rice Flour Dumplings)

The khichi are dusted in cornflour and fried until crispy on the outside. Right before serving they are tossed in an intense sticky chilli sauce with lots of veg. Don’t be put off by the amount of ginger, chillies and garlic – it’s a lot but necessary to stand up to the somewhat plain rice flour khichi. It’s a delicious starter and a new, creative take on a Gujarati classic. My recipe for Sticky, Crispy Chilli Khichi serves six hungry people.

Khichi or Papdi no Lot (Gujarati Steamed Rice Flour Dumplings)

Makes 20 regular-sized khichi or 40 mini khichi

Ingredients
225g rice flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 green chillies, chopped
1-inch piece ginger, peeled and grated
600ml water
1 tbsp oil

1/4 tsp ajwain
1 tsp cumin seeds

Method

1. Mix together the rice flour and salt. Set aside.

2. In a large saucepan, heat the oil. Add the cumin seeds and ajwain. Allow them to sizzle momentarily. Next, add the chopped chillies and ginger. Sauté until aromatic, about 30 seconds.

3. Add the water and tip in all of the rice flour mixture into the pan and beat with a wooden spoon. The mixture may seem lumpy at first but keep beating and it will come together as a soft dough. Cool for about a minute, beating vigorously all the time. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool slightly.

4. Set up a large metal steamer that fits multiple baskets inside. You’ll need about 2L of hot water in the base and to grease the holed baskets with oil to stop the khichi sticking.

5. When the mixture is still very warm but cool enough to handle, grease your hands with a little oil and make golf ball-sized rounds with the dough. Flatten slightly and use your thumb to make a deep indentation in the middle of each disc. Repeat until you have used up all the dough. Arrange the khichi inside the baskets, leaving space around each one as they will inflate slightly.

6. Place the baskets inside the steamer and close with a tight-fitting lid. Cook on a high heat for 18 minutes exactly. Switch the steamer off and leave covered for 5 minutes.

7. Remove the lid and take the khichi out, placing them on a plate. Brush with oil to stop them sticking together.

8. Serve with oil for dipping.

Leftover khichi can be cut into bite-sized pieces used to make Crispy Chilli Khichi, a delicious starter dish we created and love at home.

Note: if making khichi to use for Chilli Khichi straight away, I like to make little ping pong ball-sized khichi (about half the size of the regular classic kind). If you do this, the recipe above will make approximately 40 small khichis which are perfectly bite-sized.

Sticky, Crispy Chilli Khichi (Gujarati Rice Flour Dumplings)

Sticky, Crispy Chilli Khichi

Serves 6

Ingredients
40 mini khichi
2 tbsp + 3 tsp cornflour
2-inch piece ginger, peeled and julienned
4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
4 hot thin bird’s eye chillies
3 tbsp sweet chilli sauce (I use Mae Ploy Sweet Chilli Sauce)
4 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp Sriracha
1/2 tsp paprika
2 tbsp vegetarian oyster sauce (I use Mama Sita’s Vegetarian Oyster Sauce)
250ml hot water
1 tbsp light brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sesame seeds
2 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp Chinese 5-spice
3 mixed peppers, chopped into bite-sized pieces
3 red onions, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 large tomato, choppef into bite-sized pieces
Oil to deep fry

Method

1. Heat enough oil in a heavy-bottomed pan to deep fry the khichi. The oil temperature should be 180C. Dust the mini khichi in 2 tbsp cornflour and fry in small batches until golden and crispy on the outside, about 5 minutes. Drain on a plate lined with a paper towel and set aside.

2. Heat a large wok until smoking hot. Don’t add any oil. In one go, add in the onions, peppers and tomatoes. Allow the veggies to char lightly and develop a smoky flavour, about 8 minutes. Stir only once or twice. Remove the veggies from the wok and set aside for later.

3. To make the sauce, add 2 tbsp oil to the wok and scatter in the sesame seeds, chillies, garlic and ginger. Sauté briefly. Add the soy sauce, sweet chilli sauce, vegetarian oyster sauce, sriracha, 5-spice, brown sugar, paprika, water and salt. Bring to the boil and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.

4. Mix 3 tsp cornflour with 1 tsp cold water and stir to create a smooth paste. Add to the simmering sauce and stir continually until thickened slightly, about 2 minutes.

5. Heat the sauce through and toss everything together immediately before serving. Garnish with chillies, ginger and sesame seeds.

Sticky, Crispy Chilli Khichi (Gujarati Rice Flour Dumplings)

100% approved by baby K.O!

Love Sanjana




Chilli, Lime and Garlic Mogo

My favourite Sunday afternoon snacks consist of anything that goes with with a cup of masala chai. Whether it’s something deep fried and delicious like samosa or kachori, or a pile of fluffy steamed dhokra, I’m a sucker for savoury snacks.

These East African-style Mogo Chips are a childhood favourite. It’s the kind of food we’d prepare if we have guests coming over because it’s so simple to throw together. I’ve also never met anyone who doesn’t love fluffy mogo.

Chilli Lime and Garlic Mogo

Mogo (a.k.a Cassava) is a staple carb in Africa, in many parts of South America where it is known as Yucca and of course, in my house. Countless Indian restaurants all over the UK serve it up in all kinds of ways, popular choices being Tandoori and Indo-Chinese style (with soy sauce). Personally, I think the simpler it is, the better.

What I love about mogo is its earthy flavour, which truly comes to life when it’s gently steamed or boiled. It’s so distinct, you’d know within a split second that someone is making ‘bafelo mogo’ (steamed cassava). It reminds me both of the beautiful Mombasa sunshine and eating as a family.

I cook cassava in lots of different ways, all ones I was taught by my mum when I was a little girl. I hope one day I can proudly say I’ve shared them all with you. My favourite is a mogo and coconut stew recipe, which I’ll post up soon.

Chilli Lime and Garlic Mogo 3

Aside from the fried or grilled with a sprinkling of salt kind of mogo, this is probably the simplest mogo recipe I make. It has very few ingredients but is loaded with flavour. Heaps of garlic, chilli and lime make it the perfect party recipe to share with friends and family – there’s hardly any prep involved and everyone can just tuck in from a large platter.

For the perfect Sunday afternoon snack, serve with a cup of hot masala chai. I’ll share my recipe for that in the next post.

This is going to be delicious.

Chilli Lime and Garlic Mogo

Chilli, Lime and Garlic Mogo
Serves 6

Ingredients

1kg fresh or frozen mogo (also known as cassava or yucca) – peeled if fresh
70g salted butter
1 tbsp sunflower oil
6 large cloves garlic, crushed
4-5 chillies (more or less according to taste)
½ tsp red chilli flakes
2 tbsp cumin seeds
Salt, to taste
Juice of 2 limes, zest of 1
Chopped coriander to garnish
Lime wedges, to garnish

Method

1. Chop the mogo in to bite sized chips. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and add the mogo. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until tender. Drain in a colander and allow to cool and steam to evaporate for 15-20 minutes.

2. Heat the butter and oil in a large wok (the oil will stop the butter burning). Add the cumin seeds and garlic. Cook for 1 minute before adding the chillies, mogo and salt.

3. Allow to cook, tossing every 2 minutes until golden all over. Finish with the lime juice and zest.

4. Garnish with fresh coriander and lime wedges.

Chilli Lime and Garlic Mogo

Serve with masala chai and enjoy with friends.

Love Sanjana




Homemade Chapattis – Gujarati Rotli

Chapatti RecipeThe 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.

They are something I was utterly fascinated by as a child. The first thing I ever ‘cooked’ were raggedy, uneven rotlis using my mini rotli-making set my masi bought me when I was five. I’d peer over our cooker wide-eyed at the hot air balloon show my mum told me was happening. The suspense that built up as they rose from flatbreads to footballs was inexplicably exciting for a little girl obsessed with eating.

Homemade Chapattis (3)I would roll out the same piece of dough over and over again and by the end of it, my poor dad would have to eat the splat-shaped biscuit thing I had presented him with such pride. He’d tell me it was delicious that and I was getting better and better.

Thanks Dad.

There’s a certain routine to making rotli you wouldn’t dare mess with. Ask any Gujarati cook; once their rotli routine is set in its ways, you’d be a fool to question it. Everything from the patlo (board), to the velan (thin Indian rolling pin) and the tavitho (steel utensil used to flip the rotli), to the number of times the rotli is actually flipped, a Gujarati’s rotli routine is sacred.

Homemade ChapattisGujaratis talk for hours about how making rotli at someone else’s house is literally the worst. “They never rise, the thickness of the velan is all wrong and the lodhi never gets hot enough”, etc, etc, etc. Of course, when it’s you having to explain your flat-as-a-pancake rotlis, all these excuses are valid.

Everyone has their preferences on whether or not they add butter. I do because life is better with butter. One of my favourite ways of eating rotli is straight off the lodhi, slathered with garlic butter and rolled into a cigar. This is what my Nanabapu would do for my mum when she was little and something she then did for our family too.

Yes, Garlic and Coriander is great, Jalebi Paratha are delicious and Masala Poori are an amazing treat but rotli are the staple food we were reared on. They’re quite literally the bread and butter of Gujarati cuisine. Try them.

Homemade ChapattisHomemade Chapattis – Gujarati Rotli

Ingredients
500g chapatti flour, plus more for rolling
80ml sunflower oil
300ml boiling water, or enough to make a soft dough

Method
1. Add the flour to a large bowl and make a well in the middle.

2. Pour the oil into the well and top up with the boiling water.

3. Use a spoon to mix the dough until it’s cool enough to handle. Use your hands to bring the dough together. Knead for 5 minutes until smooth and soft.

4. Make small ping pong ball-sized pieces with the dough. Keep some flour on a plate for rolling.

Homemade Chapattis (2)5. Get another plate lined with kitchen paper and keep your butter handy.

6. Place the cast iron hot plate or a frying pan on a medium heat. Leave it for 5 minutes.

7. Get your rolling board and rolling pin ready. Keep a wet sponge under the board so it doesn’t move.

8. To start rolling, take a piece of dough and roll it between your palms, flattening it slightly. Dip each side in flour.

Homemade Chapattis (11)Homemade Chapattis (5)9. Roll it once up and down with the rolling pin and then take a pinch of flour. Place it in the middle of the dough and then use your index fingers and thumb to pinch it closed, starting from the outer edges. This step isn’t something everyone traditionally does but is what my mum taught me for soft rotli that rise.

10. Next, flatten the dough using your palm and again, dip each side in flour. Now, begin rolling the dough in a circular motion, teasing the dough to move around with your rolling. If you can’t do this, pick the rotli up with one hand and move it around yourself. The aim is to create a perfectly round, even surface and a flatbread that’s around 2mm in thickness and 6-7-inches in diameter.

Homemade Chapattis11. Place the rotli on the cast iron hotplate and cook until little bubbles appear on the surface – around 10 seconds. Flip it.

12. Cook it on the second side until small, even brown spots appear all over the bottom of the rotli – around 30 seconds. Flip it.

Homemade Chapattis (9)13. Now, this is the rising side. Don’t worry if your rotlis don’t rise the first few times you try it. It comes with practice. They’ll still taste delicious. Cook until darker, less evenly-spread patches appear on the bottom. Around 15-20 seconds. Flip it and place it this side up on your kitchen paper-lined plate. Butter it.

14. Repeat this process for all of your rotli until you have a beautiful, buttery stack.

Burnt Aubergine and Spinach Curry 4Serve hot with your favourite curry, daal, sambhar, chutney or pickle. I love them with this Melt-in-the-Mouth Burnt Aubergine and Spinach Curry.

It’s not imperative they rise – they will still taste great! Most importantly, keep practising. It’s so worth it.

Love Sanjana




Aloo Stuffed Thepla

The love child of Gujarati Thepla and Aloo Paratha.

If you’re looking for a flatbread with big, bold flavours, you’ve come to the right place. The traditional Thepla of my childhood are unstuffed and served spread with butter or ghee. Paired with Sukha Bateta nu Shaak (dry potato and cashew curry), it’s family comfort food at its best.

My memories of eating Thepla made by the expert hands of my mum are ones I still treasure today. They would be smoking hot off the tawa, rolled up like a cigar and dripping with golden butter – and first thing in the morning too. Thepla are the ultimate breakfast bread and waking up to the smell of them toasting on a hot pan outweigh the feeling of hitting snooze on Sunday morning. Trust me.

Aloo Stuffed Thepla K.O Rasoi

Packed with the smoky, slightly-bitter caramel notes of fresh fenugreek leaves, these turmeric-hued discs of fluffy bread are one of the most iconic recipes of Gujarat. Traditional Thepla are as I said, eaten with potato curry, masala chai, pickles and chutneys.

Here, I’ve combined the beauty of fluffy potatoes and fenugreek leaf-studded bread to create Aloo Stuffed Thepla. Yeah, it’s a little unconventional incorporating the potato element into the bread itself, but since when was sticking to the rules any fun?

So WTF is fenugreek? They look like coriander but bury your nose in a bunch of fresh fenugreek and you’ll instantly know they are in a league of their own. Not dissimilar to the deep burnt sugar flavours of Marmite, fresh fenugreek leaves are one of those ingredients you’ll either love or hate. They have a slightly bitter caramel taste and I find that fans of dark chocolate tend to love fenugreek too.

It’s important to know that fresh fenugreek leaves and fenugreek seeds aren’t interchangeable. The seeds have a deeply nutty aroma and the flavour is bitter in the same way great coffee and cacao beans are bitter. They lend amazing complexity to Indian recipes in very different ways so remember not to substitute one for the other. It would be like subbing coriander seeds for fresh coriander. Not a great idea.

Kasuri or Kasoori methi are dried fenugreek leaves and indeed, can be used in place of fresh fenugreek. The flavour is much more concentrated in the same way any dried ingredient is stronger in flavour compared to the fresh counterpart. Added to rich, makhani sauces, it’s an absolute game changer. To release the full aromas, simply rub it between your palms and add towards the end of cooking or to finish a dish.

There’s not a type of bread I don’t love but recently I’ve developed a huge passion for breads with a punch of flavour rather than bread being secondary to another main dish. In this recipe, the Aloo Stuffed Thepla are the star of their very own show, perhaps accompanied by a selection of chutneys, achaars, plain yoghurt and chai.

Find out exactly how to prepare these step-by-step in my first YouTube video below. Let me know what you think.

Aloo Stuffed Thepla
Makes 18-20

Ingredients

For the filling:
1kg floury potatoes such as Maris Piper, peeled, boiled and mashed until really smooth
1 tbsp grated ginger
2 tsp crushed garlic
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 ½ tsp whole cumin seeds
2-3 chillies, chopped
1 ½ tsp garam masala
1 tsp amchur (dried mango powder) or 2 tbsp lemon juice
80g frozen peas, defrosted and pulsed in a food processor until coarsely crushed
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp chopped coriander, optional

For the dough:
550g chapatti flour
2 tsp turmeric
5 tbsp chopped fresh fenugreek leaves (if you’re using kasoori methi, use just under 1 tbsp)
1 ½ tsp salt
100ml sunflower oil
320ml hot water

125g melted butter or ghee

Method

1. First, make the filling. Heat the oil in a non-stick saucepan and add the cumin seeds. Allow them to sizzle slightly, then add in the ginger, garlic and chillies. Cook for a minute. Next, add in the peas, potatoes, garam masala, amchur, salt and coriander if using. Mix well and cook until heated through. Set aside to cool.

2. To make the dough, place the chapatti flour in a large bowl or tray. Mix in the salt, turmeric and chopped fenugreek. Make a well in the middle and add the oil. Pour in the water and stir until cool enough to handle. Go in with your hands and knead for 4-5 minutes until you have a smooth, elastic dough.

3. Divide the dough into golf ball-sized rounds and roll between your palms until smooth.

4. Do the same for the filling but take slightly more than the size of the dough.

5. Roll the dough to about 3-4” in diameter and place the potato ball on top. Using your thumbs and forefingers, pinch the dough closed around the filling, starting in the middle and working your way outwards. The filling wrapped in dough should be fully enclosed with no gaps or holes.

6. Flatten the ball using the palm of your hand. Dust with flour on both sides and flip over. You will need to roll the smooth side.

7. Begin rolling the dough, turning gently as you do. Ensure it is even all over and dust with more flour if necessary. Try to aim for 1/2cm in thickness.

8. Cook in a dry, non-stick frying pan, turning once and spreading the dry-cooked side with some butter or ghee. Flip and repeat. The underside should be golden in a few moments, flip again and cook on the next side until golden.

9. Repeat until you’ve used up all of the dough and filling.

Aloo Stuffed Thepla K.O Rasoi 2

So, as if by magic, you’re now a paratha extraordinaire and well on your way to rustling up some bread to accompany your favourite Indian dishes. Enjoy making these Stuffed Aloo Thepla and once you get the hang of rolling, remember to have fun creating your own fillings and flavours.

These are in-freakin’-sane with Gor Keri (sweet mango pickle with fennel seeds). You can buy it ready made or make your own. I’ll share my recipe soon.

Love Sanjana




Gujarati Mohanthal

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 orange – the dish is after all, named after Lord Krishna. Orange is said to be his favourite colour so there’s no better colour than this for my Mohan’s thali.

Mohanthal (3)

Everything I know about making Mohanthal, my mum taught me. She teaches with a wonderful fervour that’s so infectious, I become immersed like rasmalai in a pool of sweet milk. That’s the only way I can describe it. Having her as a mentor means I’ve never been afraid of trying anything new and this Mohanthal is no different.

Handling burning hot sugar syrup, scorching ghee and flour isn’t easy but confidence, a steady hand and heaps of patience is key. Like a beautiful cake, you can’t rush Mohanthal so take some time out and master this classic Gujarati sweet. With this recipe, I promise you’ll never buy shop-bought Mohanthal again. Especially at Diwali.

Classic Gujarati Mohanthal
Makes 20-24 pieces

Ingredients 

For the Dhrabo (this is the bit that ensures your Mohanthal has those essential crunchy pieces):

320g gram flour/chickpea flour
1 tbsp melted ghee
2 tbsp milk

For the Mohanthal:

250ml  melted ghee
90g  milk powder
1 tsp cardamom powder
2 tbsp slivered almonds 
2 tbsp slivered pistachios 
A pinch of saffron
1 tsp mace powder (javantri)
A pinch of orange food colour (optional)

For the Sugar Syrup:

400g sugar
250ml water

Method

1. To make the dhrabo place the gram flour in a bowl and add 1 tbsp melted ghee and 2 tbsp milk. Rub the mixture in between your fingers until it resembles breadcrumbs. Allow this to sit for 30 minutes.

2. Sieve the dhrabo mixture through a medium-holed colander rubbing any large pieces between your fingers and pushing it through the sieve. Be patient. Set aside.

3. In a pan, add the ingredients for the sugar syrup and simmer until it is of a one-string consistency (this is the ‘soft-ball’ stage if you have a candy thermometer). Keep this hot but do not let it go past the soft ball stage.

4. In a large, wide, no-stick pan add one cup of ghee and the dhrabo mixture you have passed through a sieve. Cook this on a medium heat until it becomes a golden almond colour. Keep stirring. Remove from the heat and allow this to cool until it is just warm. Add the cardamom powder, saffron, milk powder and mace powder. Don’t be impatient – let this cool properly or your mixture will seize up and become hard and crumbly as the mixture will become too hot.

5. Pour the hot syrup over the cooled flour mixture and stir until fully incorporated. Add some orange food colouring if you wish.

6. Pour the mixture into a greased thali or wide dish with sides. Sprinkle with almonds and pistachios.

7. Allow this to set for 24 hours at room temperature.

8. Cut into pieces.

9. Making liquid Mohanthal? At step 5, add an extra 250ml water after you’ve mixed in the syrup and colour and serve hot with vanilla ice cream and sprinkled with almonds and pistachios.

One more Diwali sweet treat coming up tomorrow. 

Love Sanjana




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

Burnt Aubergine and Spinach Curry 5

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.

Burnt Aubergine and Spinach Curry 3

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 an open flame until they’re practically incinerated on the outside. It went against everything I thought to be true about Indian food. However, the very beauty of it was that while the outside burns to a crisp, the inside is cooked until butter-soft and smoky. Perfection.

Burnt Aubergine and Spinach Curry 1

Before you start, make some holes through the aubergines – otherwise there will be explosions and they won’t be fun to clean up. I also recommend you line your gas cooker with aluminium foil. That way once you’re done, you can just lift it off and throw it away. Nobody wants to be scrubbing their cooker for hours.

I’ve added spinach to this but to make classic Gujarti Oroh, you can simply leave it out. I like the combination of leafy green spinach and melt-in-the-mouth aubergine.

Serve with hot, buttery Gujarati Chapattis. The recipe for those will be posted up next.

Burnt Aubergine and Spinach Curry 4

Melt-in-the-Mouth Burnt Aubergine and Spinach Curry – Bhaji ne Ringra Oroh
Serves 4

Ingredients

3 large aubergines
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tbsp cumin seeds
½ tsp asafoetida (optional)
1 large onion, diced finely
8 large cloves garlic, chopped finely
3 green chillies, chopped finely
390g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tsp ground coriander seeds
1 tsp ground cumin seeds
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp turmeric
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
250g baby leaf spinach
Fresh coriander and lemon wedges, to serve

Method

1. Make around 10 holes in each aubergine and place one on each burner of your gas cooker. Turn the flame on high and cook the aubergines for 8 minutes. Don’t touch or move them during this time. Trust me.

Burnt Aubergine and Spinach Curry 2

Once 8 minutes have passed, use tongs to turn them over and cook the other sides for 8 minutes, again not moving them. Steam will escape from the holes you’ve made. It’s important not to leave the kitchen during this time! Open a window too. Once totally burnt on the outside, use tongs to place each aubergine onto a plate and set aside to cool.

2. In a large pan, heat the oil and add the cumin seeds and asafoetida. Cook for a minute and then add the onions. Allow to cook on a medium heat until golden, about 10 minutes. Add in the garlic and chillies and cook for a further 2-3 minutes.

3. Tip in the tomatoes and the rest of the ingredients except for the spinach and freshly-chopped coriander. Cook for around 15 minutes, stirring frequently until the sauce is thick and the oil begins to separate from the tomatoes slightly.

4. Whilst the sauce is cooking, check the aubergines have cooled enough to handle. Split each aubergine lengthways and scrape out the soft inside. It’s okay if some burnt skin comes away with it but try to remove the large pieces. Chop it all up roughly and add to the tomato sauce along with the spinach. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring all the time until the spinach has wilted and any excess water has evaporated.

5. Serve sprinkled with fresh coriander and lemon wedges.

Love Sanjana

The most amazing Indian vegetarian dish you'll make again and again. 20,000 have already pinned it!

The most amazing Indian vegetarian dish you’ll make again and again. 20,000 have already pinned it!




Bullet Banana Daal Vada

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 the outside – essential when you’re craving a crunchy deep-fried starter to begin an Indian meal. But my favourite way to enjoy crispy Daal Vada is with hot, sweet masala chai and great company.

Daal Vada

Remember to wash your daal and rice thoroughly and soak overnight for easy grinding and beautifully-textured vada. The frying process is a little tricky – and utterly frightening for the first few vada, but go carefully and you’ll get the hang of it in no time (I say as my finger throbs with pain from the oil splash I got from frying these vada an hour ago). Totally worth it though.

Think crunchy, fluffy, deep-fried pancake bites with a touch of sweet banana, a zip of fresh lemon and a punch of chilli heat (hence the ‘Bullet’). Serve immediately after frying with lemon wedges and fresh coriander and yoghurt chutney.

Coriander and yoghurt chutney is my go-to dip for any Indian starter because of it’s amazing power to perk up any dish from samosas to tikkis and of course, these Daal Vada. All you need to do is open your blender, throw in a washed bunch of coriander, a few dollops of yoghurt, a peeled clove of garlic, green chilli and lots of lemon juice, salt and sugar. Blend until smooth for the ultimate dipping, dunking or drizzling experience.

Daal Vada

Bullet Banana Daal Vada
(Serves 8)

Ingredients

75g mung daal
55g urad daal
35g basmati rice
1 ripe banana, peeled and broken into large pieces
2 hot green chillies, stems removed
2 hot red chillies, stems removed
3-inch piece ginger, peeled and cut into chunks
250ml warm water
1 tbsp sunflower oil
2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
140g gram flour (chickpea flour)

2 tsp ground coriander seeds
1 tsp ground cumin seeds
1 tsp ground fennel seeds
Pinch turmeric
½ tsp asafoetida
2 tsp baking powder
Juice and zest 2 lemons
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander

Oil for deep frying

Method

1. Pick through your mung and urad daal to ensure there are no stones or other foreign objects. Place the daals and rice in a sieve and wash them until the water almost runs clear. Soak them in cold water overnight.

2. Once soaked, drain the daals and rice and wash again until the water runs almost clear. Place in a blender or food processor and grind with 250ml warm water until you get a smooth paste. Place the paste in a large bowl and rinse the blender as you’ll need it again.

3. In your blender or food processor, add the chillies, ginger, banana, salt, sugar, ground coriander seeds, ground cumin seeds, ground fennel seeds, turmeric, asafoetida, lemon zest, lemon juice and fresh coriander. Blend until you get a smooth, but not entirely uniform paste. Add this to the daal and rice paste.

4. Next, whisk in the gram flour and 1 tbsp oil, ensuring there are no lumps.

5. Heat the oil in a deep, non-stick pan or wok. You’ll know the oil is ready when a cube of bread browns all over in 50 seconds.

6. Quickly whisk the baking powder into the vada batter, ensuring it is mixed in thoroughly. It should resemble pancake batter.

7. To fry the vada, dip your fingers into a little water and shake off any excess. Now, make a ‘cup’ with the four fingers on your dominant hand and scoop enough batter into your fingers to come up to the first line on your middle finger, using your thumb as a stopper. Gently drop the batter into the oil, ensuring your hand is close to the surface of the oil but not touching it on so close, the batter splashes back when you drop it. Use your thumb to push the batter down into the oil. You will almost certainly get smaller blobs of batter in your oil but don’t worry about this – you can scoop them out and scoff them later. Do about 8 vadas at a time and don’t overcrowd the pan. Fry until puffed up and crispy all over. Remove the vada and drain in a colander lined with kitchen paper. Repeat the process until you run out of batter.

Serve hot with lemon wedges, cooling coriander and yoghurt chutney and a cold beer.

Here’s to a spicy, sweet and utterly heavenly New Year. 

Love Sanjana




Mombasa-style Daal Kachori

Mombasa-style 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.

Mombasa-style Kachori (3)

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 chaat, or formed into rounds and served with chutney.

Mombasa-style Kachori (4)

Popular at weddings and parties, the dough and filling for these kachori can be made a day or two in advance, wrapped in cling film and kept in the fridge. Ensure they come to room temperature before forming them and chill again before frying. This will ensure they’re gorgeously crisp once fried.

I toast 1/3 of the mixed flour before adding it to the rest of the flour to make the dough. This will give the pastry added depth of flavour.

The trick to perfect kachori is to ensure the pastry is short, yet pliable enough to wrap thinly enough around the filling without creating holes which may break them whilst frying. Make sure your kachori are perfectly fried by tapping the pastry once they’ve had a chance to cool – they should sound hollow.

Mombasa-style Kachori (2)

Mombasa-style Daal Kachori – Spiced Daal and Green Mango in Flaky Pastry
(Makes 25)

For the pastry:

155g plain flour
70g chapatti flour
40g coarse semolina
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp sunflower oil
2 tbsp ghee, softened (replace with oil for vegan kachori)
Around 115ml cold water

For the filling:

100g mung daal, soaked for 2-3 hours in cold water
1 green mango, grated
1 tbsp ginger, minced
4 green chillies, minced
1 tbsp oil
500ml hot water
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp turmeric
½ tsp asafoetida
60g crushed sev or gathia (available in most Indian supermarkets. If you can’t find them, use 60g ground peanuts instead)
1 tbsp fresh coriander, very finely chopped
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp salt

Method

1. First make the filling. Place the soaked and drained daal in a blender with 60ml water and grind to a very coarse paste.

2. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large, non-stick pan and add the daal, green mango, ginger, chillies, turmeric, 500ml water, salt and sugar. Cook for 25 minutes, stirring frequently to ensure the mixture doesn’t stick and burn. Once cooked, add the cinnamon, coriander and crushed gathia/sev or ground peanuts. The mixture should become like a paste. Allow to cool.

3. Next, make the dough. Mix together all the dry ingredients. Take 1/3 of the mixture and in a dry pan, toast until nutty and fragrant. Add back into the rest of the flour. Rub in the ghee and oil until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add enough cold water to form a soft dough. If it’s too hard, add more water. Knead for 8 minutes until soft, smooth and pliable. Think pizza dough softness. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for an hour or so.

4. Roll the daal filling into 25 balls and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

5. Remove the dough from the fridge and give it another knead. Divide into 25 pieces. Remove the daal filling from the fridge. Take the first dough ball and using a rolling pin and a flourless surface, roll into a circle until around 4-5 inches in diameter. Place a ball of the daal filling in the centre and pull the dough around it, pinching the dough closed and removing some excess using the length of your index finger and thumb. Roll the ball gently between your palms ensuring there are no creases or holes in the dough, especially where you sealed. If there are, the kachoris will burst whilst frying and the filling will become really greasy. Repeat for the rest.

6. Refrigerate for around 20 minutes.

7. Heat enough oil in a wok to deep fry the kachori. Make sure the flame is low because they need to be fried slowly. Remove the kachori from the fridge and gently slide them into the wok. Don’t overcrowd it. Each batch needs to be fried for around 20 minutes until deep golden brown; move them around so they get even colouring. Remove from the wok and drain on a kitchen paper-lined colander. They should sound hollow to the tap.

8. Repeat the frying process for the remaining kachori.

Mombasa-style Kachori (5)

I like to serve these with fresh coriander chutney, tamarind and date chutney or fig chutney.