Phodis

There is no dearth of deep-fried goodness in konkani food. There is an seemlingly endless variety of bajjo-s, phodi-s and ambado-s , just to name a few.

This is what I understand is the difference between each.

Bajjo : They are different veggies that are dipped in batter and deep fried. They are best hot off the oil and tend to become oily when cool. They are served as part of a meal or as a snack with some hot coffee. Essentially, Bajjo is konkani-speak for pakoda. Eg : piava(Onion) Bajjo, Goola(Green Brinjal) Bajjo etc.

Ambado : is a mixture of vegetables/herbs and spices, with potato/legumes/besan used as binder. They can also be seasoned mashed vegetables/tubers dipped in a batter and deep fried. Ambado is konkani speak for vada/vade Eg: Batate (Potato) ambado, Biscoot (Seasoned Urad Dal) Ambado etc.

Phodi : They are deep-fried veggies, too. However, there is no batter involved. They are marinated with a dryish paste of (red chillies+hing+salt and rice,soaked in water). The veggies used for phodi’s tend to be vegetables which have a low content of water in them. Root Vegetables like Suran (Indian yam), Sweet Potato etc. work best. Heat levels (as in Scoville) are higher in phodis than your average bajjo.They are sliced very thin and fried on medium heat for quite a bit longer than bajjos, making them crisp and chewy. They are great at room temperature, too. eg: see below . But they really come into their own when made with cross sections of fish like mackeral or pomfret. Yummm…..

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Clockwise from top : Karate Phodi, Surana phodi, Kadge Phodi, Ghointa Phodi

This post talks phodi. As explained above, they are marinated with the spicy paste. We call the spicy paste ‘Goolli’ and the whole process of applying the paste to the Vegetables/fish is called “Goolli Lavche” or applying the paste. However, the english translation comes nowhere to describe the importance of its konkani counterpart. Especially, if seafood is involved. It is not that you dunk the paste and the veggies together in a bowl and swish them all around. You take each slice and apply the paste to it and set aside. It takes a lot of time, but such kind of attention to detail results in properly seasoned fish or vegetable that are just amazing. It is all about details.

The phodis are , most often than not, part of the festive meal or a very large meal. Each vegetable that is to be fried has a special shape in which it will cut for the phodi. Traditionally, five types of phodi are made for any festive meal. I could get hold of only four. The one’s I made for Sansar Padwa and their traditional shape are

1. Suran-a Phodi : Indian yam. They are usually cut into 1 mm thick/thin quadrilatrals of about 1″ * 1″. I used the frozen suran availabe in Indian store, and they are available pre-cut into cubes.

2. Kadge Phodi : Raw Jackfruit. 1 1/2 mm thick wedges . The actual width would depend upon the radius of the Jackfruit. Again, my only choice was the canned variety. I cut each piece into two cross-sectionally.

3. Ghoint-a Phodi : Parwal. Each parwal is cut into three or four pieces depending upon its thickness length-wise. My favorite.

4. Karate Phodi : Bitter gourd. They are cut into thin rounds (As thin as you can make them) and fried crisp, almost like chips. It kind of takes the edge away from the bitterness, yet maintaining it’s integrity. Even haters of this vegetable eat thid deep fried version of them.

Certain rules that are followed.

1. Each type of the vegetable should be cut in approximately the same thickness, length and breadth. They all cook at the same time that way.

2. All vegetables except karate (bittergourd, because of the bitterness) can kept in the same bowl once the “goolli” is applied.

3. Irrespective of whether the vegetables have been mixed together or not, when deep-frying fry like vegetables together. Again, different cooking times for different vegetables.

4. Always fry the bittergourd the last as changes the taste of the oil.

5. You know the veggies are crisp enough when the oil around them stops bubbling.

6. All safety rules for deep frying apply. 🙂

Recipe for “goolli”:

1 cup un-cooked rice, soaked for about an hour or two.
A fistful of dried red chillies (about 10-12)
1 tsp of hing powder
Salt to taste.

Grind together in a blender, using as little water as possible, to a smooth paste. Absolutely no water used when my mom makes it. But then, she has the magic mixer, too. However, my recent acquisition, the cuisinart coffee grinder, with the detachable grinder, works great for this as well for most chutneys. At $29.99 (at Bed, Bath and Beyond), it is not as hard on the pocket as some other ones. 🙂

Apply to the sliced/cut vegetables and keep aside for about an hour. Deep fry. Best served with Rice and Daalitoy.

Psst,Dear Behena, Pudding recipe coming soon….Dheeraj Rakh…

Update : ‘karate’ to be read as Kaa-raa-tey’. Thanks to the ever-vigilant Coffee’s comment below.

Making the Weekday Special with Chilli Chicken

Aayush has decided that he likes to bite into things and chew his food rather than having it mashed and gulping it down. Finally! I almost had visions of feeding him mashed food into old age.

“Kha re, deva. Hoddu jatalo!!”.. “Eat it, my lord. Make you a big boy!” .

Amazing how he can set his tooth grinders on when he is eating a chakuli (murruku) or tukdi or even potato chips. But, a roti or rice, god forbid if he would chew through them. After a lot of explaining, showing him how dad (and all ‘big boys’) eat, trying to enforce the rule by refusing to mash his food and finally, breaking down and just praying to god for salvation, the bugger decides to eat like a grown up. So what pushes him to do it ? Not peer pressure, not shame, not wanting to be a ‘big boy’ nor any of my culinary creations. Oh no!! It was the blasted Chick-Fil-A Chicken Nuggets. Not that I have anything against them. Rather them than the ones at MacDonalds, I say. It is the sheer perverse-ness of it that frustrates me. After going through a lot of struggle to avoid getting him on the fast food bandwagon (struggle, not only because of the sheer amount of outlets and Ads , but because we have had to avoid it, too), the one food that drives him to take that next very important step in his development comes straight out of a fast food chain. Ugggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!

Thats kids for you. So, how does the a two year old with parents trying hard not to expose him to fast food, come across a Chick-Fil-A Chicken nugget? Ah, see , thats a whole other can of worms. Of late, there have been discontent in the family about the food that coming out my kitchen during week days. Discontent that they were just not as exciting as before. Discontent that began erupting with mild comments, mild comments that turned into mutterings when food was served, mutterings that turned into snide comments, and snide comments that finally became loud complaints. When even those didn’t have the desired effect, they decided to hit it where it really hurts! The ego. Oh yes, the hubby coming home with one of the drive-thru specials was becoming a regular feature and signs of a full blown mutiny were apparent. I was not ready to give in, though, and a full blown war was about to start, when Aayush decided, he liked fast food.

And, peace was sketched out between the waring factions (read, the parents) in the interest of the innocent people (read, the kids) whose life was blown apart by the silent war (though I am sure, Aayush doesn’t look at it that way). It was decided that something “exciting” (in terms of food!) will be made mid-week, the day hubby comes home at the same time as me, and that he would help in any way he can, begining with staying out of the kitchen and making sure the kids stay away, too. He was very happy with that suggestion. Poor guy, has no idea the tornado that is going to hit him in the form of two kids who have missed their parents the whole day. *snicker, snicker*

So, the good news is, Aayush likes chicken and that means a quick route to good proteins for him and another reason for us ( S and me) to gorge on chickens and hubby takes care of the kids for one WHOLE evening. Not a bad deal. I began the healing process with some darn good, Indo-Chinese concoction that I guess would be known as fast-food in India, but since I make it at home, is alright ;).

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Cube into bite size pieces

3 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast

Make a paste of the following and marinate the chicken in it for about an hour.

1 tbsp Red Chilli Powder
1 tbsp Soya Sauce (Dark or lite, I prefer the dark)
1 tsp Black Pepper
1 tbsp Cornflour

In a large frying pan, heat up

a couple tbsp of Peanut Oil

Shallow-fry the chicken cubes in the oil. If you have used a large enough pan, you will be able to do this in two rounds. Follow the usual rules. Don’t over crowd the pan, don’t try moving the chicken around for a couple minutes until a shake to the pan has it dancing in the pan. Usually, with chicken pieces this small, you know you are ready to turn them when the side on top if white with small pink center on top. Drain on paper towels when cooked through. Cool. This part you can do ahead of time. I have to warn you though that the family might think they are chicken pakoda and finish them off.

Raise the heat on the remaining oil (there should be about 2 tbsp oil, if there isn’t add more), add

2 whole dried red chillies (optional)
1/2 cup sliced Green Onions
(usually a bunch. only the white part, save the green for garnish)
1 tbsp chopped Garlic
4-5 chillies slit length-wise

Stir fry for 2 minutes. Add

2 tbsp Soya Sauce
2 tbsp Chilli-Garlic Sauce (you get these in most grocery stores)

Add salt, depending on taste. Usually, with that amount of soya sauce, its not necessary. Mix to coat all the chicken with the sauce. Stir-fry for another 2 minutes. Remove from flame and top with

chopped greens from the green onions
(That sounds very knowledgeable,doesn’t it?)

I served this with dal and rice. But, it works as an excellent finger-food,too.

And All was as should should be and peace reigned the kingdom again. With the mutiny squashed, the queen was joyous. The king was happy with the time he was getting with the kids and the prince and the princess were just happy with the attention. The chicken nuggets got to stay in the outlets where the bad grown ups (us) can go and pig out without the kids knowing about it. Everyone gobbled down on the ‘exciting’ home-made food, and they lived happily ever after

…………………………………………………………….until the next meal.

Diwali Treats..by Soumya Somashekar

Presenting, a whole lot of treats from Soumya Somashekar. And all of them cooked with a new born by her side!!..Gosh, the love for food!!!

Chakali

CHAKALI

I make chakali flour in advance & sometime i ask my mother to make it in India & send me.
The ratio is 2:1 Rice:Udad dal. My mother soaks them seperately & dries them in shade for 2
to 3 days. Then she roast them & give for grinding in the Mill. It gives a great aroma. I store it in Freezer for a year sometimes & whenever needed take some flour out & make yummy chakalies. You guys can use the rice flour & Udad dal flour you get in the Indial Grocery Store. I have tried it too which comes out really good, But as you know mom-made things tastes yummmmy.

The other ingds are
Hing,
Salt to taste,
Butter for Mohan,
Til(Sesame seeds),
Oil for frying.

Mix salt & hing in a little water.
Mix flour & til together in a bowl then heat butter in kadai & pour it on the chakali flour.
Let it cool & mix the Hing & salt water & make a batter of chappati consistancy.
Now put the batter in the chakali mould & squeeze to make a round shape chakalies on a plastic sheet.
Deep fry in hot oil. Keep the oil on a medium flame. Turn the on the other side & let it cook. Remove on to dry paper towel,
cool it & store in a air tight container.
This chakali is just salted but if anyone wants can add little Red chilli powder & DhaniaJeera powder. It tastes really good.

Ribbon_pakoda

RIBBON PAKODA

Besan- 2 cups
Rice flour- 1/4 cup

Add other spices according to your taste
Red chilli powder,
DhaniaJeera powder,
hing,
Salt little Ome pudi.
Oil for frying & for Mohan.

Mix all ingds other than oil in a bowl add little by little water & make a batter of chapati’s consistency.
Now put the batter in the mold with Tape/ ribbon pakoda disc & squeez directly in the hot oil. Keep the gas on medium flame… Fry on both sides & drain on a tissue
paper.Cool & store in a airtight container.

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MYSORE PAK

Besan- 1 cup
Sugar- 2 cups
Ghee – 3 cups
Some cardmom powder

Instead of using 3 cups of Ghee u can use 2 cups of ghee & 1 cup of cooking oil (not olive oil).
Take sugar in a thick bottom Kadai add little water very little just to wet the sugar. On another stove keep a vessel with ghee to heat it it should be hot enough but don’t burn it.
Now simultaneously keep stirring the sugar syrup it should be thick. Now the sugar syrup will start frothing and start to come off from the sides of the kadai. Slowly pour the ghee into the kadai, while stirring continuously. Add some more ghee & immediately add the besan & stirr
continously, u should do it really fast otherwise the besan will form lumps. Again slowly pour the ghee into the kadai, while stirring continuously.Add more & more ghee till the mixture starts leaving the ghee out, & no more ghee is left in the other vessel. Once it will no more absorb
the ghee, within few minutes, the entire mixture will harden a bit and become thick. Take it off the stove and pour it onto a flat greased plate/vessel (u have to pour it in such a way that the
mixture willfall in the Plate in a layered form the way it was in the kadai)and let it cool for about 15-20 minutes. While it is still hot, draw the lines with a sharp life to make small rectangular shape(b’cas it will be layered in three colours from bottom to top & looks
good if its in rectangular shape). After it is cool, you can take out the pieces and store them in an air-tight container.

Peanut Baje

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Last night, after I made these, I had no energy to do a write-up, let alone just type the recipe. So, remeding it today.

Of all the countless variety of dishes and cuisines that India has, if there is a single type of dish that can qualify as trail mix, this is it. All those wonderful nuts, coated in batter and deep fried to perfection. Normally, I would make these with cashews. But, I couldn’t find whole cashews at the Indian store. I think everybody is stocking up for the festive season and I really didn’t want to make another trip to the regular grocery store. So, I made do with peanuts. Where Cashews would make it more royal and festive, don’t underestimate these glorious peanuts.

‘Baje’ is Konkani-speak for Pakoda.

My son loves these and hence, I used less chilli powder. Don’t be afraid to ante up on the heat, the peanuts can stand upto it.

1 cup Peanuts, shelled and peeled.

For the Batter
1/4 cup Besan/Chickpea Flour
1 1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/8 tsp Hing/asafetida
Salt to taste abt 1 tsp

For Deep-Frying
Peanut/Corn Oil

When I say Peanuts, shelled and peeled, I don’t necessarily mean do it yourself. I buy the ones that are already so. Wash them in a colander and let the water drain out. Meanwhile, mix all the batter ingredients and make a thick paste using water. Add the peanuts, they will be wet and thats ok. Just not dripping water. Mix everything together, making sure all of the peanuts are completely covered. Set aside for 5 minutes.

Deep-fry in Peanut Oil a handful at a time. Cool and enjoy. I am told , it will last a couple of weeks stored in an air-tight container. Mine never last that long, so I can’t promise.

Chalta Hai…Diwali Hai

Finally, My kids decided to sleep at the same time, giving me some time to cook up those diwali goodies that I wanted to make. I went for the simple ones first, the ones that I had made before and hence did not require much thinking. By thinking, I mean Improvising when things go wrong. Hey, its the thought that counts. Besides, I don’t think I have ever met a combination of ghee and sugar that I haven’t liked. In fact, I love eating ghee mixed with sugar or should I say Sugar mixed with ghee.Yummmmm…As for the dreaded “C” word,Chalta Hai…Diwali Hai!!

So first, I went for besan Ladoos. My husband loves Besan ladoos. They are right up in his list of fave things right after Cars, Cricket and Crab. Those are his “C” words. Then, its besan ladoos. Before you all go pitying us, we are talking about material things here. The “F” word is on the top of the list. Family, people? What did you think the “F” word was?

So, anyway here is a fool proof recipe for Besan ladoos. I just follow it blindly. this recipe makes about 30 Ladoos.

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3 cups besan/Chickpea flour
1 1/2 cups Ghee
3 cups powdered sugar
2 green Cardmoms pods, peeled and powdered

Sieve the besan to get rid of any lumps.

Heat the ghee in a heavy bottomed pot on medium heat. Yes, all one and half cups of it. Don’t think, just do it. Don’t use oil. Don’t use the Store bought ghee. Try fresh home made ghee. I made a fesh batch of ghee in the morning. Do it. Go the extra mile. Chalta hai…Diwali Hai. Its worth it.

Add the besan, and keep stirring and stirring and stirring and stirring. It will kind of seize into a tight ball first, making it a bit tough to stir. But after a few minutes, it will actually become the consistency of “pakoda batter” making the stirring simpler. So, keep stirring and stirring and stirring. Until the besan goes from sunny yellow color to a burnt orange. The color ‘burnt orange’ not ‘burnt’ besan. Oh, No!!
Kind of like going from sunny yellow of the summer to the oranges of autumn, isnt it?. How symbolic!!! Yes, I am going nuts. Chalta hai…Diwali Hai

Just keep stirring it and dont even think about looking away for a second. The second you look away, will be the time it will decide to change color. And it can go from deliciously roasted to yucky toasted in a jiffy. The best way to know its done, is the amazing nutty smell that starts permiating through your home. My friend once told me how her mom would just shout out from the kitchen “does it smell like ladoos, yet?” to know if they were done. When the besan is done, believe me, you will know and those zombies sitting in front of your television will know, too.

Take it off the heat, and let it cool completely. It will be a little liquidy(If thats a word, you know what i mean).Thats ok, thats the way it should be. While it cools, pound regular sugar into powder in your blender. Don’t go for the powdered sugar in the market. They have cornstarch in them, which has its place, but not in besan ladoos.

When completely cool, add the sugar, cardamom powder and raisins and chopped almonds/ cashews(If using) and mix till incorporated. Shape into golf ball size rounds. Yummy besan ladoos are ready.

With the besan ladoos done and the kids still down, I decided to go for another staple at our home during diwali. They are called “tukdi” and they are crisp, savoury and a perfect antithesis to the sweet ladoos. Very simple ingredients, but can be quite a chore because they have to cut into diamond shapes and then deep fried. But, I cannot imagine diwali without these.

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First we make the dough

3 cups regular atta/ wheat flour
1 tbsp Chilli powder
1/4 tsp Hing/asafetida
salt to taste (abt 1/2 tbsp)
1 tbsp Ghee
Water, enough to make a malliable dough

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a wide bowl. Heat up the ghee and add it to the bowl. Take a fork and mix the ghee with the flour. The flour will change color. Mix thoroughly, with a fork at first and then fingers after the ghee has cooled enough, until all of the flour has changed color. Then, add water, little by little, until the dough is soft enough to roll out but still tougher than a regular roti dough. Let it rest for 10 mins.

Heat oil in a kadhai. The kadhai should hold the oil at least 2 inches deep. Take balls of dough and roll them out like you would a roti. Don’t use flour to prevent it from sticking, use some of the hot oil from the kadhai.Cut into diamond shapes. I use a pizza cutter to do the job.

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Deep fry in hot oil. Keep the oil at smoking point.The pieces will hit the bottom and rise up immediately. Turn them over. And after the other side cooks up, remove onto dry paper towels. Keep doing that until you have used up all of the dough. Store the cooled tukdis in an airtight container.

And thus, finally, I have at least 2 diwali goodies cooked up. My Mother makes five and I think it is kind of a tradition to cook up five. Well, I am not even half way there. But, hey, at least I have made a start. Between the roasted besan and Deep frying, at least the house smells like diwali. So what, if it is 2 in the morning and I hear Anoushka up and demanding her mommy. Chalta hai…Diwali hai

Sanna Mudde/Khotto/Idli..Rice and Lentil Cakes.

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This is a quintessential konkani treat. They are basically rice+dal ground coarsely with coconut+chillies+tamarind that are steamed like an Idli. But unlike an Idli, they are very savoury and can be had as a snack or as a side dish with rice and dal for lunch or maybe instead of a lunch. They can be quite filling. This is one of my favorite konkani dish after pathrado, of course. Which is why when Sailu announced dal as  the ingredient for jihva, I knew I was going to send this one in.

You know, there is such a thing as ‘too much of a good thing’. Same comes to mind with the ingredient for this time’s jihva. With such a wide variety to choose from, I was completely at sea as to which dish is special enough to be included. My instinct in such situations is always to go for the most simple thing. Now, you know, why I avoid shopping in supermarkets. I almost went with daali thoi which is a konkani plain tadka dal. Then, I remembered this dish and decided to go with this one.

Since the announcement of the ingredient, I have been noticing, that there is rarely a day when I don’t use dal in some form or the other. If I am not cooking it or rolling it into a dosa or grinding it into a paste as a stuffing, I am using it as a tadka. A pregnant friend of mine tested positive for gestational diabetes and has been asked to lay off lentils in any form. I have a more clear idea of how much tough it must be for her to come up with something that doesn’t need dals in some form or other. I mean, most of our cooked leafy veggies(which she is allowed to eat in abundance) tend to be thickened to be thickened with besan. poor Girl!!!…

Anyway, mudde are basically steamed cakes. They are khotte if they are steamed in jackfruit leaves(4 jackfruit leaves stitched together to form a container) which makes them very aromatic and a something, something that makes them special. Check out this versatile dish.

1 cup toor dal

3/4 cup rice

1/2 cup coconut

a handful of roasted red chillies (the dish should be really Hot)

a lump of tamarind (marble size) or 1/2 tsp of tamarind paste

1/2 tsp Asafoetida/Hing or 1/2 an onion finely chopped

1/2 cup cabbage finely chopped (optional)

Wash and Soak Rice+Toor dal in water overnight.

Grind together coconut+Chillies+tamarind into a fine paste using little water.

Decant water and add the rice+toor dal mixture into the blender and let it rip for a few minutes. The rice and toor dal mixture has to be ground coarsely and not too finely. Kind of like the way, rice is ground for Idli’s.  Add water only as much as needed.There might be some whole toor dal left which is not a problem. They taste better. Just make sure, that not all the toor dal is left whole, thats all. Remove to a vessel, add hing or onion whichever you opt to use and the shredded cabbage. I used onion only today. Salt to taste. Mix together and steam like you would an Idli. That really is the only option I have.

Serve with a tsp of coconut oil on top.

Phanna Poha … Seasoned Flattened Rice

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One of negatives of trying all these new recipes and new ingredients is that you put on the backburner some of the things you grew up eating. I spend so much time and energy trying to simplify those intricate dishes that I forget the ones that are already simple and easy and oh so comforting. I decided to reprise one of these recipes that I grew up eating. Its called phana poha in konkani, meaning seasoned poha. Such a simple dish and so few ingredients and just good eats. They don't overwhelm your taste buds. You are not waiting for your taste buds to break into a song or go "bam" into your mouth. You don't have to brace for the explosion of flavors in your mouth. Not that there is anything wrong with that. It's just that, some days, you don't want all of those things. Somedays, you just want to lay back, have a morsel of food that comforts you, lulls you to a place long left behind like your childhood. Somedays, you just want to give your tastebuds some rest. Thats when I go back down memory lane and dig up dishes like these.

There are lots of ways to do this, but my family loves it this way and this is the way I do it.

So here goes,

2 cups poha -thin variety

1 cup coconut gratings

5 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp ghee

some mustard seeds and curry leaves

2 dried red chillies

A pinch of salt

Place a single layer of newspaper in the microwave. I always use the  newspaper, but I guess wax paper should be fine. Spread the poha on it in a thin, single layer. Turn off the "turn table setting" on your microwave. Microwave on 1 minute interval till the poha crisps up. They are crisped up when it crumbles or at least breaks when you  lightly press one between your thumb and forefinger. Cool completely.

Heat up a tbsp of ghee, add mustard seeds. When they sputter, add curry leaves and the dried red chillies. Pour it on the poha and mix well, coating the poha with the seasoned ghee.

Mix coconut gratings, sugar and salt. Just before serving, add this coconut mixture to the poha. Enjoy.

As you can see, the possibilities are endless. Add green chillies, dalia, peanuts etc. to the seasonings. Add chopped onion and coriander to the toppings. Shilpa of Aayi's Recipes has blogged a very nice way of doing it. But, today my goal was simplicity and this served my purposes just fine.