Besan Ka Chilla – Savoury Gram Flour Pancakes / Crepe

This is a recipe for Besan ka Chilla, simply put Indian savory pancakes made with chickpea / garbanzo bean / gram flour. This is a very easy to make recipe and is perfect for winter mornings or evenings. Goes perfectly with a cup of hot masala chai.

Assembling the ingredients is also very easy. This is my go-to weekend breakfast recipe and is quite filling as well. Chickpeas are an excellent source of proteins and this is an easy gluten free option as well. You can add any vegetables to this versatile crepe / pancake recipe. Sometimes I like to add capsicum or shredded carrots to the mix.

Serves : 3
Prep Time : 5 minutes
Cooking time : 15 minutes

Ingredients
1 cup besan / gram four
3 tsp finely chopped coriander leaves
1 finely chopped green chilly
1 medium sized finely chopped onion
1 medium sized finely chopped tomato
1/2 cup coarsely chopped spinach leaves
1/2 tsp zataar powder
1 tsp carrom seeds
1/4 tsp red chilly powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp chaat masala
A pinch of turmeric powder
Oil for frying
Salt to taste
Water to the consistency desired

In a mixing bowl, sieve the besan and add all the dry spices and salt. Mix well with a spoon.

Add chopped onions, tomatoes, spinach, coriander and chillies to this mixture.

Add little water and mix. Keep adding until it reaches desired consistency.

Some people like the batter to be thick while some like it runny. I prefer reaching a mid point. Here’s how my batter looks like.

Batter

Now on a greased hot pan over low heat, drop a ladle full of the batter and let it take shape. Let the mixture cook.

Besan Ka Chilla

Add any regular oil to the sides and gently flip it over. Here’s where practice comes to the rescue.

Besan Ka Chilla1

Let both the sides get evenly cooked. You are looking for a lovely brown look. I wish I had better pictures for this post.

Besan Ka Chilla2

Serve with tomato chutney or any dip that takes your fancy. I prefer it with toasted bread and butter.

Side Notes:
Adding carom seeds aids digestion.
Zataar powder can be skipped if you do not like it.

Bombay Bites Restaurant Review

It’s been a long gap after which I have started posting my old blog posts pending in my ever increasing drafts folder. Work has been crazy off late, leaving me with no time. However I have been cooking to my heart’s content in the last few weeks given the dinner parties I have been hosting for friends and family. Here’s a post I wrote when I was craving Mumbai street food. Read on to know how I found some yummy street food.

I miss Bombay, also known as Mumbai, my home city and there are days when all I want is, to pack my bags and sit at Worli Seaface especially this time around the year. Anyone who is from Bombay will tell you this that Bombay rains are to die for. The scenic lush green cover that the city adorns itself in, the waves splashing against the shores, the odd teen selling cutting chai and chocolates to the lovey-dovey couples holding hands at the sea side, kids jumping in puddles of water on busy roads while returning back from school, the mums reprimanding them. The city has a character and the rains lend it one.

The rainy season is almost over now but it was pouring cats and dogs in Bombay for the last week for so and talking to my folks back home, hearing them taking it easy and enjoying afternoon siestas followed by masala chai with onion bhajjis, I started missing home and the rainy season even more.

I was craving Pav Bhaji and thus began my quest to look for the same. I turned to Twitter to ask for suggestions. Many options were floating like Sukh Sagar, Kailash Parbhat, Aamchi Mumbai, Mumbai Express.  I have had Pav Bhaji at Sukh Sagar and Aamchi Mumbai and it was kinda average.

I eventually went to Bombay Bites, it is based in Bank Street in Bur Dubai. The owner is from Mumbai and prides himself in his Maharashtrian roots. It started as a cafe where only snacks were served, I first had a Misal Pav and Vada Pav over there last year and never went back since it is a long drive from my place in JLT.

This time around we realized that they have taken over a bigger place and opened a full fledged restaurant next door.

Bombay Bites

We tried their Pav Bhaji and it was yummy. It sure left me satisfied, if you after a fancy presentation and a fine dining experience this is definitely not the place to be. But it has got good flavorsome food.

When I first paid them a visit, it was the mango season. The owners had specially bought Alphonso Mangoes which are the speciality of Ratnagiri region in Maharashtra. The texture and flavor of this variety of mango is best for milkshakes, ice creams, preserves and smoothies. They had displayed the bounty just at the entrance to the restaurant, it was enough to make me salivate at the thought of ‘Aamras’.

Aamrkhand : Aamras

Aamras is mango pulp flavored with a very faint hint of elaichi (cardamom) powder. I also followed it up with Aamrkhand, it is mango flavored Shrikhand. It is a traditional dessert made from strained yoghurt mixed with sugar and then flavors are added. It is best served chilled with hot pooris (deep fried Indian bread)

The Pav Bhaji came complete with tava (flat pan) roasted pao (Indian dinner rolls). The best thing about the bhaji is it is doused with spices and not subtle at all. It is really spicy and has the “Aaahaa” factor in every morsel. The complimentary finely chopped onions and lemon wedges play havoc on the palette.

Pav Bhaji

We went there again last week, this time around again we had the pao bhaji and followed it up with Kesar (Saffron) Dryfruit Milkshake, it was loaded with the goodness of nuts and a hint of saffron on top. It was quite a heavy option and Sahil did not touch my dessert later and this doesn’t happen ever!

Dryfruit Kesar Milk

I was reminiscing about Juhu Beach hence ordered Kesar Falooda. It is a chilled dessert. Again I was ecstatic with the result, a tall glass made a grand entry with even layers of fine vermicelli, basil seeds, pistachios, almonds, three scoops of vanilla ice cream, jelly, chilled sweetened milk, almonds and topped with rose syrup.

Kesar Falooda

Everything about this was wonderful. It was just perfect to be had after the spicy meal I had just devoured.

I think in a city where you have many eateries promising you Mumbai style street food, this is one of best of the crop. It is priced very affordably. Finding a parking spot can be tricky on weekends, I usually end up here during weekdays.

Chat up with the owners, they are a friendly couple. I spoke to them in Marathi and the conversations which followed had me walk out smiling!

Disclaimer : All featured dishes and meals were paid for my me and this post is not a sponsored one.

Oats Masala Idli

My love for traditional Indian fare is well known and I have discussed this in my previous posts. I do not like to tamper with the classics but sometimes you like to give it your own twist. One such craft master whose expertise is well known Michelin star awarded Chef Vineet Bhatia who owns Rasoi in London, Geneva and Indego by Vineet in Dubai.

I have been following his culinary journey to Indian cities looking for unique flavors and incorporating his own take on them in his popular series showcased on “Twist of Taste” on Fox Traveller with his beautiful wife Rashima in Season 1 who used to uncover the tourist attractions or shopping secrets the city had to offer.

In the first season of the show, Chef Vineet made Tomato Sev Rice with Ghatta Sabzi(Gramflour dumplings in tangy sauce)and Shikari Murg. Being a vegetarian I substituted the chicken with paneer and the result came out well. My husband loves this recipe so much that now even when I do not have the Paneer(Cottage Cheese) handy, I just make the ghatta sabzi with sev rice. This looks pretty too, recipe to follow soon 🙂

Tomato Sev Rice

I even tried the Besan Chilla stuffed with Dal served with a side of crispy okra. Unfortunately I’m not able to find a picture for that as yet.

I was at my mum’s place last month and was catching up on Season 2 wherein this recipe for Oats Masala Idli was showcased. I immediately tried this recipe since I knew it would be great as a evening snack. Healthy, nutritious and a quick savoury dish which can be served to a hungry army in a jiffy.

Oats Masala Idli

Ingredients
1 cup oats
1/2 cup semolina
1 cup yoghurt
2 tsp fresh coriander roughly chopped

Tempering
2 tsp oil
1 tsp urad dal
Few fenugreek seeds
7-8 curry leaves finely chopped
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
2 green chillies finely chopped
1 onion finely chopped
1/4 cup grated carrots
Salt to taste

Dry roast cooking oats and semolina in separate pans on medium heat and keep it aside.

Whisk yoghurt and add the oats and semolina to it. Blend well and let the mixture rest for a while.

Now prepare the tempering, heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds, once it splutters add curry leaves, fenugreek seeds, urad dal, green chillies and let the flavors get infused.

Add onions and cook them until they are translucent. Now add grated carrots to the mixture. Add salt to taste, you may also add coriander powder I skipped this.

Saute them for a minute and take it off the heat. Allow it to cool for sometime and then add this to the oats mixture.

Add fresh coriander to the mixture and blend well.

In a idli steamer, pour little water and grease the idli moulds with little oil. Add a spoonful of batter to the idli moulds and put them in the steamer.

Cover the steamer with a lid and let it cook for 7-8 mins. This mixture yields 18 Idlis in total.

Uncover the goodness after a while and serve with Garlic Rasam, Tomato Thokku, Coriander Chutney or Tiffin Sambhar.

Tomato & Roasted Pepper Dip

Tomatoes are my favourite ingredient to work with. With an abundance of so many varieties available in supermarkets, it is interesting how different varieties result in getting different textures. I prefer the Plum, Roma or cherry tomatoes the most while cooking.

As a kid, I used to eat tomato ketchup with everything – be it fries, crackers, roti, bread, rice, crisps. I used to even put it in a bowl and just eat it as is. And who can forget painting lips with ketchup and licking it clean later. Yumm! Don’t judge me, we all have done crazy things as kids!

I think as a teen, I took a liking to Italian cuisine since they use tomatoes liberally in their sauce base and other wise. Picture Caprese salad looking pretty with rings of mozzarella nestled between thick slices of tomatoes cut round and with a generous drizzle of olive oil and basil leaves or give me tomato soup at the end of the day with toasted garlic bread on the side and I’m back to being my chirpy self again.

Dinner parties see me making this tomato dip often. This also happens to be a staple dip at home, I’d even eat this with dal (lentils) rice or plain roti (Indian flat bread).

Salsa

Cooking Time : 20 minutes
Ingredients

5 large plum tomatoes finely chopped
1 medium red onion finely chopped
1 medium red bell pepper finely chopped
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 Thai red chilly deseeded and finely chopped
20 ml olive oil
1/2 tsp rock salt
Salt to taste
Ground Black Pepper to taste (optional)

Blanch the tomatoes in warm water until the skin comes out clean. Let them cool and dice them finely. If you are running short of time, just chop them finely.

In a pan, warm the olive oil and add the thai red chillies. Do not deseed them since they impart the heat to this mixture. Once they splutter add the onion and cook them until they are translucent. If you would like to keep the heat quotient low, use cayenne pepper or red chilly flakes as per your preference.

Add tomatoes, cook them until they are mushy and leave the oil on the sides of the pan.

Add red bell pepper and cook them until they are soft. You can also toss them separately in a pan with little olive oil on high flame until they wilt. When I am not short of time I prefer roasting the bell pepper on high flame, peeling off the skin and then adding it to the tomato mixture. It gives a nice roasted flavor to the dip!

Season it well with salt to taste and pepper. You may also add dried herbs if you wish. I also add little garlic butter towards the end to give the mixture a glossy finish.

Dip & Dhokla

Serve with Crackers, Falafel, Pita Bread, Potato Wedges, Chips, Nachos or even Dhokla.

Spicy Peanut Balls

I like to work with left overs in the fridge. The most common left over in my kitchen happens to be cooked rice. Some days you do not want to go the traditional route and make a dal, curry or stew to go along with left over cooked rice from the night before.

Whenever I’m out at a book store I either gravitate towards the cook books featuring appetizers, baking, party food or books on entertaining and hosting dinner parties. I came across this recipe in “Party Food & Appetizers” and I immediately bookmarked it to try out later. I picked this cook book from Borders.

Cookbook

I have made this recipe many times with a slight changes and it has consistently been a crowd pleaser. It’s amazing how people try and guess what these were made with. I usually cook a batch of rice and leave it for 2 hours to cool at room temperature before I start making this. I first made this for a dinner party I hosted for my colleagues and served it with an assortment of dips to choose from like Creamy Spinach Dip, Homemade Hummus, Tomato Roasted Pepper Dip and Tzatziki.

Look wise they almost seem like “Falafel” but are crunchy and crumbly at the same time.

Spicy Peanut Balls1

Cooking Time : 20 minutes
Ingredients

2 garlic cloves
1 tsp ginger
2 green chillies finely chopped
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp caster sugar (optional)
2 tsp soy sauce
3 tsp coriander finely chopped
2 cups cooked rice
1 cup peanuts coarsely chopped
Bread crumbs as required
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt to taste

In a blender, put garlic cloves, ginger, green chillies, coriander, peanuts, sugar, turmeric powder and salt.

You can choose to dry roast the peanuts before hand. They would add to the crunch.

Blend well and now add soy sauce and lemon juice. If your guests can take spice, add chilli sauce. I prefer Nando’s Peri Peri sauce.

Add cooked rice to the mixture one cup at a time and blend until it turns in to a slightly sticky mixture.

Remove in a bowl and add bread crumbs as required for binding. I also use bread crumbs sparingly to coat the spicy peanut balls before deep frying. As per the original recipe, roasted peanuts were used to coat the balls.

Grease your palms with little cooking oil and shape in small round balls. Deep fry and serve hot with tomato ketchup.

Until next time happy cooking!

Creamy Spinach Dip


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Few weekends back saw me and hubby partying with my set of work colleagues. I get very excited for throwing house parties and love the entire ritual of deciding the menu, grocery shopping, having the cutlery sorted and having the house look prim and propah. I usually like to have elaborate appetizers hence the dips come in handy.

This dip has always been a hit whenever I throw house parties. This also happens to be husband’s favourite hence had to be featured. I love this for the creamy and buttery texture and the subtle flavour of white pepper powder which gives the much required kick to the palette.



10 parts Frozen Spinach / 2 bunches of Fresh Spinach Leaves
1 pack thick cooking cream (I used Puck’s)
50 ml Full Fat Milk
1 tsp Garlic Butter
2 tsp Olive Oil
2 cloves Garlic crushed
1 1/2 tsp white pepper powder
Salt to taste

Heat Olive oil on medium heat in a saucepan.

Add crushed garlic and sauté for a minute.

Thaw the frozen spinach and squeeze out all the excess water and add the pan. Let it simmer for 2 mins. Don’t over cook the spinach else it will lose it’s bright green color.

Add sea salt and white pepper and mix it well. Lower the heat.

Dilute the cream with little milk, blend it well and add to the spinach mixture. Cook it for another 2 minutes and add milk.

Keep stirring the mixture continuously. When the cream becomes half, remove from heat.

Let the mixture cool completely and refrigerate it for a minimum of 2 hours.

Serve with Nachos, Crackers, Baby Carrots or Pita Bread. This dip can be stored for 3 days if refrigerated.

Vegetable Poha (Flattened Rice Flakes Cooked with Spices & Veggies)

This popular breakfast dish is made using flattened rice flakes also known as poha. These swell when water is added at room temperature as they are super absorbent.

Having born and brought up in Mumbai, I have had any variations of this yummy easy to make, light to digest snack. I have listed here the recipe my mother used to cook for us on Sunday mornings. Traditionally the dish is called “Kande Pohe” i.e. Flattened rice flakes cooked with spices and thinly sliced onions.

 

 

 

However my mother used to add lot of veggies so that we get our fill our nutrients. My brother was a fussy kid when it came to eating vegetables hence mum smuggled it into our lunch boxes by way of Pohe. She used to make a smiley face using tomato ketchup to distract my brother, so that he did not end up weeding out the veggies.

She used to dice the veggies, I have used finely chopped and shredded versions of the same. I have skipped french beans in the recipe. I hope you like it.

2 1/2 cup flattened rice flakes (Poha)
1/4 cup shredded carrot
1/2 medium sized capsicum finely chopped
1 medium sized tomato finely chopped
1 big onion thinly sliced
2 green chillies finely chopped
7-8 curry leaves
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp red chilly powder
1 tsp coriander powder
5 tsp canola oil
Salt to taste
Juice of 1 lemon
Few sprigs of coriander leaves

Sprinkle water on the poha and mix it well and keep it aside for 20 minutes. Use water only to coat the poha well.
Add 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp turmeric powder to the poha and allow it to bloom. This is how it will look after this step.

 

In a pan, heat oil and add cumin seeds, curry leaves and green chillies. Once they start popping add onions.
Cook onions until they are translucent and have a pale pink color.

 

Add tomatoes, cook until they are soft but let them not reach them to a level where they look mashed.

 

Add capsicum and carrot together and mix well. Now time to spice up things, add 1/2 tsp salt followed by all the spices.

 

Mix well and let the mixture cook for 2 minutes. Now add the poha and fold it in the vegetables lightly.

Cook on medium heat for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and add juice of 1 seedless lemon and finish it with finely chopped coriander leaves.

Serve hot with toasted bread with garlic butter and masala chai. This is a perfect and easy breakfast option to feed when you have guests.