Uddina Kaalu Tovve /Kaali daal/Maa ki dal

When I read about people protesting globalization at WTO and other events I smile! They do have legitimate concerns, agreed and their concerns need to be addressed too. But the militant types really baffle me. All right corporate expansion, profit mongering is one side of globalization, but what about ideas? what about food? We Indian have always been at the forefront of global exchange of products, ideas and of course food for millenniums now. It was an accepted way of life to appreciate knowledge where ever it came from. It is just the past few centuries that we lost ourselves and we were so alien to what our forefathers saw millenniums ago. How many of us now know about pizza? what about Taco? Early in my childhood the only Pizza that was available in Mysore was in Krishna Bakery, Modern kids would not even recognize it as pizza. They would call it an unidentified object, circular in shape with some tomato Palya on top and mind you no sign of cheese (even if it did, it was not immediately recognizable) But today every single kid knows Pizza and the intricate differences between the various styles, just like they know their Dosa.  Tacos! I had never heard of them as a kid. I had read in Tinkle Digest that in Mexico they make unleavened bread like our Rotis called Tortilla but Taco sounded more like gibberish. Now every one knows about Taco. Pasta, Cal-zone,  fried chicken, noodles etc etc the list goes on. We have incorporated so many foreign foods and made it our own. This is indeed the best part of globalization. We incorporate new ideas while making it our own. Though I cannot but look at the irony when I shopping at a local Patel store in New Jersey almost always end up picking up Sujata brand wheat flour, made by the 'Evil' General Mills head quartered somewhere in the American heart land, in the wheat basins of India and sent to this side of Atlantic in huge container ships! I click my tongue and say "Ah! globalization".

When I see this side of the coin clearly, I end up appreciating the other side of the coin better. We do learn new things but we are equally good at retaining part of our old established knowledge. For instance  whole urad dal is one of the native crops in India. It has been mentioned in ancient Kannada texts and has been used to make Idlis for more than a 1000 years now! So we have indeed retained and refined older knowledge to this day. Though I rather cannot imagine following the original known recipe for Idli, soaking whole Urad in buttermilk, grinding, fermenting, seasoning and steaming it as Idli. The end product looking rather dark grey and definitely not as light and fluffy as their modern counterparts.  So being one of the oldest pantry ingredient it is therefore not surprising that Urad dal finds it's way into a lot of yummy dishes, including this simple rendering.

This is a simple dal. The Urad dal when cooked till it falls apart makes this dish very earthy, hardy and festive. I love it. So here is Maa ki dal

We will need,

Whole Urad dal 1/3 cup
Rajma (optional) a handful
Ginger 1/2" +1 "
Hing a dash

For the Oggarane
Ghee 2 tbsp
Mustard seeds 1/4 tsp
Jeera 1/2 tsp
Fennel 1/4 tsp
Garlic 4 cloves

Onion 1 small chopped
Chilly powder 1 tsp (adjust according to taste)
Turmeric 1/4 tsp
Dhania powder 1/2 tsp
Tomatoes 3-4 chopped
Salt to taste
Coriander chopped

  • Pick and clean the Urad and Rajma(if using) and wash it with several changes of water. Soak it in generous quantity of water overnight.
  • Drain the dal and wash it again in several changes of water. Throw it in a pressure cooker along with 3 cups of water, 1/2" ginger (slightly crushed) and hing. Cook till the urad dal falls apart. (about 3-4 whistles in my pressure cooker). Remove from heat.
  • Prepare the Oggarane. Heat the ghee in a wok and throw in the mustard seeds, Jeera and fennel. Once they stop sizzling throw in the onion. Saute till the onions are translucent. 
  • Coarsely crush the remaining ginger and garlic and throw into along with the onions. Saute for a brief minute. Throw in all the spice powers and  the tomatoes. 
  • Cook the mixture till tomatoes turn pulpy. Remove from heat.
  • Once the pressure cooker is cool enough to handle, combine the cooked dal mixture and the onion mixture. Heat the mixture, adjust salt and  add the fresh coriander. Add more lemon juice if the dish is not tart enough.
  • Serve hot with rice.

Tondekayi Flaxseeds fry

Typically I do not buy into food fads. I sort of always rely on age old wisdom than the pop-researches published by glossy magazines. That is the reason flax seeds never charmed me till now. I finally decided to try them succumbing to heard mentality I guess. They did look rather sad for a miracle food. But then appearance is always deceptive. I went ahead and tried them. Initially I thought I would substitute them in our recipes calling for oil-seeds like peanuts or sesame. It is easy to begin with substituting for ingredients in the same family when experimenting  it the first time!

This Tondekayi fry turned out to be quite nice and I did not have to sell the idea of eating 'healthful' food to Honey. The health benefits of flax seeds, not sure as of now!

We will need,

For the masala

Flaxseeds 1 tbsp
Dhania seeds 1 tsp
Byadagi chillies 2-3 (Adjust according to taste)
Urad dal 1 tsp

For the fry
Tondekayi /Tindora 1 lb  cleaned, trimmed and cut into quarters
Peanut oil /coconut oil 1-2 tbsp
Mustard seeds 1/6 tsp
Jeera 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves a handful
Tamarind extract 1/2 tsp (adjust as per taste)
Jaggery crushed 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Coriander fresh to garnish

  • To prepare the masala, toast all the ingredients on a hot skillet one by one till golden brown and cool it. Once cool enough to handle blitz it in a grinder to end up with a smooth power.
  • Heat oil in a wok. Throw in the mustard, cumin, hing and curry leaves. Once they stop sizzling add the prepped vegetable. Saute till they are slightly tender about 5-6 minutes. Alternately it can be braised with a little water too.
  • Add the prepared Masala,tamarind, Jaggery and salt. Cover and cook till the vegetable is tender. Adjust salt and garnish with coriander. 
  • Serve hot with rotis.

Jalebi Revisited

It is my favorite time of the year! Sravana is here and the season of eating  has begin. We celebrated Varamahalaxmi habba last Friday.  Looking forward for Janmashtami this Weekend and Gowri-Ganesh soon after wards. So the season of eating has officially begin. With this comes a series of yummy goodies, sweets and all.

My love for Jalebi is legendary in my family circles!  I did win the Jalebi eating competition back in college, though it was not for quantity that I won, probably I would have won that too, but for eating a single Jalebi which was tied to a swinging sting overhead! So much so that my sister would spin the song "Love ke li ye saala kuch bhi karega" to "Jalebi ke li ye sala kuch bhi karega...".

After many attempts to make the perfect Jalebi, I think I m almost there. First I needed to list out the qualitites that makes a Jalebi good.

1. It must be crunchy
2. It must have  cavity inside to soak up the syrup and become juicy.

3. The sugar syrup should taste good with a hint of flavor.
4. Jalebi should stay crisp for a few days.
5. There should be just a hint of tartness.

The secret to making good Jalebis is fairly simple. Fermentation!
If we get to ferment our batter well, the Jalebis are a breeze to make.  The recipe is the same as was posted in my older post here.
But of course it is the fermentation in the process that made all the difference. This time around I sat the batter for one whole day instead of overnight. I could see the yeast action and small air bubbles in the batter before I started making the Jalebis. I reduced the amount of cornflour too, now I would say about 1/6 of a measure instead of 1/3 of a measure previously  noted in my recipe. I was happy with my results this time around.They were very good and disappeared in no time.

Some points to remember

1. Use organic cane sugar instead of the regular sugar (here in the USA). Indian sugar is just fine. The regular American sugar sort of leaves a chemical after taste which ruins the Jalebi. They work fine for cakes and Ladoos but a definite no no for Jalebi.

2. Always use Ghee in the fat used to deep fry the Jalebi. A few tables spoons of Ghee for a cup of refined oil will do too. But the flavour of ghee in the Jalebi takes it up a few notches.

3. To aid fermentation, I left the Yogurt on the counter top overnight so it is really tart to start with. This make the fermentation easy. I also added a teaspoon of sugar in my batter to kick start the fermentation.

4. The sugar syrup should be just about one thread consistency. Remove the sugar syrup to a cooler bowl once the desired consistency is achieved. Leaving in the same pot makes the syrup thicker and that makes it difficult for the Jalebis to absorb the syrup. Alternately stop shy of one thread consistency and the heat of the pot will help achieve the desired consistency.

5. Finally add a little flavoring to the syrup either saffron/ Elachi (i love) or a few drops of rose water (heavenly)

This one for more Jalebi making!! By the way I like mine one the golden side, it makes the Jalebi crisp and heavenly. So I made a few batches that were golden and a few that were not.