Kale and Spinach Masala Vada(i)

What’s your indulgence on a cold miserable day? NC brought out in full spate some miserable and grumpy days to the boot. Nagging cold weather accompanied by some rain and a weather that could not decide between holding onto winter and hopping aboard the spring train. Yikes !

Now imagine a day where the sun refused to peek out and the bare branches of the trees formed a sticky silhouette to temper the gray dull skies. The weather even managed to incite my boisterous and slightly neurotic lab to snooze . And quite a vent hugger she was. The warm draft of air from the heater vent provided the perfect huggable carpet spot for her and I could hear her stretching and yawning.

Kale and Spinach Masala (Vadai)

I would have loved to take out that raggedy brown blanket, stretch out on the recliner with a hot cuppa and indulge in a book. Any book. But since kids would arrive from school and look forward to something that could perk them up.

Kale and Spinach Masala (Vadai)

 

So a hot steaming cup of chai it is and a plate piled with piping hot and steaming baby kale and baby spinach masala vada(i). Chockful of these and the lentils provide much of the protein and flavors of fennel and ginger and garlic. Seriously folks, you would be missing out if you do not make these.

Kale and Spinach Masala ( Vadai)

A   plate piled high with piping hot, crispy, golden brown masala vada(i).. packed with kale and spinach and spiced with those flavors that make it extra special – protein packed indulgence and hot steaming cuppa to  make it even more better. It’s ok to indulge once in a while and it sure calls for it today !

Now what’s your excuse and what’s your indulgence?

Soaking time : 3 hrs   Prep time : 15 min   Cooking time : 25-30 min  Pieces : about 30 

Serves a hungry lot !

Ingredients:

Pulses and Cereals: Soaked for about 3 hrs or so.

  • Dry split Channa dal : 3/4 cup
  • Dry Toor Dal : 1/4 cup
  • Flax seeds : 2 Tbsp
  • Rice : brown/ white : 2 Tbsp.

Vegetables/Herbs

  • Baby Spinach : 1 cup : chopped
  • Baby Kale : 1 cup chopped
  • Onion : 1 medium size : chopped fine
  • Garlic cloves: 3 : chopped fine
  • Cilantro : 1/4 cup, chopped fine
  • Mint leaves : 8-10, chopped fine
  • Green chilies : 8-10. chopped fine ( adjusted to spice level)
  • Ginger : peeled, 1 inch , chopped fine

Dry Spices: ( preference can dictate the kind of spices added)

  • Fennel seeds / Saunf : 1 Tbsp
  • Salt : 1.5 tsp , adjusted to taste.

Frying:

  • Deep frying in peanut/ canola/vegetable /saffola oil of your choice.

Method:

  • Grind to a thick and coarse consistency the soaked ingredients listed under pulses/ cereals
  • The batter should not be extra fine or smooth but be ground enough to show occasional whole soaked dals with coarse consistency and done so just the little amount of water required. Do not make it too watery or mush, then the vada(i)s will soak up extra oil.
  • Add in all the ingredients listed in spices and mix well.
  • Add in the ingredients listed in vegetables and herbs and mix well.
  • Let the batter rest for about 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile heat the oil on medium high heat.
  • Test the temperature of oil by putting in a tiny dropful of batter. If it floats immediately to the top and is sizzling, you can begin the process of making vada(i)s.

Shaping, Frying the Vada(i)s

  • You can use the flat side of a ziploc bag, dab it with oil and drop 2 Tbsp. of coarse batter, flatten to get a round disc and gently slide it the  oil.
  • Or the method I prefer, is to use my fingers and palms to shape the flattened discs and slide them gently in oil.
  • Fry in medium high heat about 6-8  in batch or so.  The discs are about 2-3 inches in diameter.
  • Fry these in medium high heat to a nice even brown. Do not fry in very high heat. If you do so, the outer layer will get cooked faster than the inner one and it is not something you will relish!
  • Enjoy with a hot cup of tea and the mush awaited book of your choice!

Quick and No Oil Masala Peanuts – Crunchy, spicy and Irresistible

A very short post. In all honestly did not even take pictures on my Cannon. Cause today was such a day that paid homage to the ” need a vacation after the vacation” kind of thing. After a long and exhausting road trip , and I mean really exhausting, laundry and stuff needed something to munch. But since we had loaded up with enough calories for a lifetime twice over and then some, was not willing to really rack my brain or stretch my time . And then of course a pack of raw unroasted peanuts caught my fancy. We love peanuts here and except for my oldest who treats it like his mortal enemy !! Our road trip introduced us to a particularly unappealing one  – too much vinegar and a crusty outer layer that had us gagging and reaching for the nearest bottle of water. Sigh ! A good masala peanut should have enough coating to give you the crunch but not overwhelm you so you have to dig for the nut !!

This is a spin off of my mom’s take on masala crunchy peanuts. No deep frying.. Just regular microwave option ! Simple and quick made in a jiffy. I would definitely advise to make in smaller batches cause unlike deep frying, microwave method  requires you to ensure the wet coated peanuts are spread out on a plate and cooked in 2 minute intervals.

Quick and No Oil Masala Peanuts - Crunchy, spicy and Irresistible

Preparation Time : 5-7 minutes

Cooking Time : 5-8 min

Ingredients:

  • Raw peanuts with skin: 1/2 cup
  • Chickpea flour / Besan : 1/4 cup
  • Hing : A generous pinch
  • Red Chili powder : 1/2 tsp.
  • Garam masala : 1/2 tsp.
  • Amchur: A pinch
  • Salt : 1/4 tsp.
  • Water : 2-3 Tbsp. 
  • Baking soda : a tiny pinch 1/8 tsp.
  • OPTIONAL : 1 tsp. of oil

Method:

  • Wash the raw, unskinned peanuts very well and drain in a colander and set aside.
  • In a wide mixing bowl, add the flour and 1/8 tsp. of baking soda and whisk well.
  • Add the rest of the spices and mix well again.
  • Add the drained peanuts and toss it well with the flour-spice mix.
  • Sprinkle the reserved 2-3 Tbsp. of water as required and  in stages so the peanuts get coated in spice mix very well and they sort of clump/ adhere together.
  • OPTIONAL : I did not use oil at all. But if you desire to and need an extra crunch, add in 1 tsp. of oil and mix it with the nut – spice mixture.
  • Spread this mix on a microwave safe plate. Spread it out in a single layer as much as possible.
  • CAUTION : Microwave for 5-6 minutes in full power in 2 minute intervals please ! You will burn the peanuts of you bake it at one stretch and you will need to stir it a bit in between intervals.

Verdict: Awesome and crunchy peanuts. I made mine without any oil and it was really crunchy. Optionally you can also add Chaat masala.

Notes and Variables :

  • Microwave cooking power would vary the time but you should generally anticipate it being done in this time frame .
  • Quality of the peanuts and the size – smaller ones tend to crunch up faster so keep an eye out
  • Stirring it in between would keep it from burning of course.
  • Mine was done in about 5 minutes.
  • Adding oil is definitely your choice. Mine was crunchy without any. 
  • Take care so the flour – spice mix coats it evenly. You do want it too lumpy or watery.

 

 

 

Sprouted Kala Channa ( Black Chickpeas) Pakora – with Flax seeds and Cauliflower

An utterly delectable and finger licking snack made with sprouted Kala Channa or black chickpeas…. I had a whole bowl of sprouted Kala Channa and was a bit bored of creating salads out if it .. I know …Gasp! Sacrilege !

Alright, I know technically you are not supposed to be tired of it. What with the detox mania hitting everywhere , I feel guilty when I add in an extra drop of oil!

Sprouted Kala Channa ( Black Chickpeas) Pakora - with Flax seeds and Cauliflower

 Tsk! Tsk! what kind of responsible human being am I? Where did “My body is a temple” adage disappear? How could I be irresponsible enough to turn a bunch of sprouted Kala channa into this this this…. Utterly delectable delicacy.

Yes, it is deep-fried!

Yes, you can do it the appe / kuzhipaniram pan.

Yes, you can make cutlets out of this.

Yes, you can add a whole bunch of grated veggies to this.

Yes, you can grind Jalapeños in this to make it spicier.

I chose to opt for deep-frying this. It is an occasional thing at home and such an indulgence on a rainy day is best enjoyed with a hot cup of tea!

 Sprouted Kala Channa with brown rice and a mystery health ingredient ( Nah! No guessing games – flax seeds)! Heaped in with Onion and shredded Cauliflower! Add a dash of this and a dash of that.. And you have wonderful pakoras!.. A cup of tea and you have a winsome combination!

Sprouted Kala Channa ( Black Chickpeas) Pakora - with Flax seeds and Cauliflower

Ingredients:

Legumes/ beans:

  • 1.5 cups of sprouted kala channa (Can be substituted for a mixed legume bunch or simply well soaked and rehydrated kala channa)
  • 0.5 cup of flax seeds , soaked for about 30 min or so . Alternatively you can simply grind it as a powder and add.
  • 0.5 cups of Sooji or Semolina or Rava – Medium kind
  • 0.5 cups of brown rice – soaked in warm water for about 30 minutes. ( Can be substituted for rice flour – 1/2 cup)

Vegetables/Herbs

  • 1 cup of grated cauliflower- steamed for about 5 min in the microwave. You can add it raw too.
  • 0.5 cups of diced onions – finer the better.
  • 4-6 green chillies, fine diced
  • 1 Tbsp. of ginger garlic paste
  • 1/4 cup of cilantro – chopped fine
  • 2-3 Tbsp. of Mint  chopped fine ( optional)

Spices: ( Individual preference can dictate the kind of spices added)

  • 1 tsp of Garam masala powder
  • 0.5 tsp of Red chili powder ( optional to kick up the spice level)
  • 1 tsp of Chaat masala powder
  • 1 tsp of salt + adjusted to taste

 Frying:

  • Deep frying in peanut/ canola/vegetable /saffola oil of your choice.

 Method:

  • Grind to a thick consistency the ingredients listed under legumes or beans except the rava and rice flour of using. If using the soaked brown rice, please do grind it well. The batter should not be extra fine or smooth but be ground enough not to have any big pieces but have enough rough edges to have dimensions.
  • Add the sooji ( and rice flour if using) and mix it well.
  • Add in all the ingredients listed in spices and mix well.
  • Add in the ingredients listed in vegetables an herbs and mix well.
  • Let the batter rest for about 10-15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile heat the oil on medium high heat.
  • Test the temperature of oil by putting in a tiny dropfuls of batter. If it floats immediately to the top and is sizzling, you can drop the rest batter in batches. Just keep enough room for these to flip around.
  • Fry these in medium- high heat to a nice even brown. Do not fry in very high heat. If you do so, the outer layer will get cooked faster than the inner one and it is not something you will relish!

Enjoy with a hot cup of tea and some great music !

Sprouted Kala Channa ( Black Chickpeas) Pakora - with Flax seeds and Cauliflower

 

Cornflakes, Poha and Nuts Chivda – Low fat and easy !

Cornflakes and Poha( Flattened rice ) Crunchy toasted mix – Low fat with added goodness of nuts and spices to make it more interesting! Happy munching !

The first of the festivities begin with a bang!!!

DH twisted his ankle and hobbled away chauffeuring A1 for his weekly robotics meeting . You know how you think you end up having this one day of the week without classes or any social commitments ….? And just like that, that day gets picked for this weekly activity. In any case , with DH away and A2 diligently working on her myriad of school projects and A3 generally clowning away, I had this itch to do something. Quick, easy and perfect!

Usually this is the time when I head to the  “baking center of my brain” and subsequently raid the pantry and fridge in the hopes of creating something new. But now is as good a time as any to begin on the Diwali list. Ideally, I would have loved to begin with the creation of a sweet or Mithai. Kind of like beginning on a sweet note kind of thing , tradition and all,so to speak.

Well in this case, this conflakes chivda has a bit of everything – sugar and spice and everything nice.

Happy Diwali folks !

Diwali DIya
Diwali Diya

Cornflakes and Poha( Flattened rice ) Crunchy toasted mix 

Cooking time : 20-25 minutes            Prep time : 5 -8 min                    Serves : 8-10

Ingredients:

  • Unsweetened Cornflakes : 3 cups
  • Thick or thin flattened rice or Poha of your choice : 2 cups
  • Cashews : 1/4 cup
  • Roasted Channa Dal or Dhalia : 1/3 cup
  • Peanuts ( skinned or unskinned ) : 1/2 cup
  • Safflower or any oil of your choice : 6 Tsp.
  • Haldi or Turmeric powder : 1/4 Tsp.

Spice Mix:

  • Paprika or Chili powder : 1- 1.5 Tsp. (Depending on your spice tolerance)
  • Hing or Asafoetida : fine ground : 1/4 tsp.
  • Chaat masala : 1.5 tsp
  • Kari powder ( optional) : 1 tsp.
  • Coriander – Jeera powder : 1/4 tsp.
    Salt : 1- 1.25 tsp.
  • Sugar : 1-1.5 Tsp.

Procedure:

  1. In a big wok or Kadai, heat 2 Tsp. of oil and roast the nuts sequentially and set aside. Do not rush this step. They do need to get roasted to a nice brown color. Hastening this step would result in semi crunchy nuts.. Not what you need definitely! (Remove the contents and let it cool!)
  2. Add another teaspoon oil and fry the roasted Channa dal or dhalia and curry leaves ( washed and dried please!) to crisp.( Remove the contents and let it cool! )
  3. Add another teaspoon of oil and add in half of the haldi powder and add in the 2 cups of flattened rice or Poha. Slow roast this on medium flame. High flame heat will burn the Poha and leave you with an inedible mess! Roast this until all the flakes are nicely toasted and super crunchy. Should take you anywhere from 7-12 min depending on the type of the flakes and heat maintained. (Remove the contents and let it cool!)
  4. Add in the remaining oil and toss in the cornflakes with the other half of haldi powder and slow roast it again. This should take about 10-15 min. They become really crunchy and are more brown in color than the untoasted one. Again do not rush this process and ensure you are tossing the contents thoroughly to distribute the heat. (Remove the contents and let it cool!)
  5. In a separate bowl dry mix all the ingredients listed under spice mix.
  6. Once the contents of the mix have sufficiently cooled down , layer it out in big wide bowl.
  7. Add in the spice mix and gently toss it with a fork or a spoon so it coats the crunchy mix.
  8. Adding in the spice mix when it is hot, will result in sweating of the flakes and you will lose the crunchiness 🙁
  9. Make sure the contents are absolutely cool before storing in an airtight container.
  10. Should stay fresh if properly stored for about 10 days.

Potato and Veggies in a Puff Pastry Basket -Doled up to be eaten!

Sunday afternoons and late afternoons are well just that.. Lazy, indulgent, me-time craving and mostly is the time when I catch up on some reading if possible. Of late though, the only reading I seem to be catching up on is coordinating schedule calendars or even worse – to -do lists! Have you wondered ever as to how to-do lists emulate a certain Hero’s body part from Ramayana? Tale of Hanuman’s tail I say (pun really?) I often wonder if I have this secret capacity that is very very secret, so secret that even I do not know how and where it is hidden, this capacity of mine to add more than I take – Especially in the case of to-do lists, take one out add 5 in? How do you balance the equation? Seriously someday I am going to need a reminder for my reminders…

In any case, a high tea fare in the afternoon resulted in me racking my brains on something different. After all today’s meal was a super delish mixed veg tomato rice and raitha. A one pot meal to satisfy everyone’s taste buds and needs. Packed schedule and lunch and an errant dishwasher left me with very little time for innovation. A quick rummage into the freezer and the pantry yielded the staples , but then again lo behold.. I spied a lone pack of puff pastry sheets. Like a child pouncing on popsicles on a hot summer day, I gleefully pounced on this pack and my mind ran a quick myriad of variations on the menu possibilities each with different degrees of effort in it. Back to the point of Sunday afternoon, I needed to do some quick thinking and with very minimal effort this creation was for all to indulge !

 Here we go…..

For the Basket:

One pack Pepperidge Farm Puff pastry sheets – thawed and ready to be used. Please follow manufacturer’s instructions on these for use.

 For the Filling:

  • Onion: 1, chopped finely
  • Red Potatos : 2,chopped finely
  • Zucchini: 1,chopped finely(optional)
  • Frozen peas and carrot mix: 1/2 cup ,thawed and ready to use.
  • Mint: a few sprigs, chopped finely
  • Cilantro: a handful, chopped finely
  • Oil of choice: 2 tsp
  • Mustard seeds: 1/2 tsp
  • Kasuri methi: crushed, 1/2 tsp
  • Jeera: 1/2 tsp
  • Pav Bhaji masala: 1/2 tsp
  • Red chili powder : 1/2 tsp ( optional)
  • Garam masala : 1/2 tsp 

Prepwork :

  • Take out the Pepperidge farm puff pastry sheets and thaw according to instructions.
  • Pre heat the oven to 375 deg F and spray a 12 cup standard muffin pan with cooking spray.You will  need two of these for 2 sheets of puff pastry.

To make the filling :

  • Heat oil in a wok, add in the mustard seeds and jeera seeds. On sputtering of these, add in the chopped onions. Fry them till translucent , add in the chopped zucchini and stir for a min or two.
  • Add in the potatoes ( I microwaved these chopped potatoes for 5 min ro so, to hasten the cooking process) and thawed peas and carrots frozen mix.
  • Stir in gently and cover and cook for about 5 min.
  • Add in the Masalas , salt and stir so they are well mixed in the filling.
  • Add in the crushed kasuri methi and cilantro and mint in the final stage.
  • Toss gently and turn off the flame.

Method:

  • Spread out the sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface and cut them in to strips of 2-3 inches. One sheet yielded 12 strips. This recipe yields about 24 of these baskets.
  • Place each cut strip of puff pastry sheet in the cup of muffin pan. Sort of molding it slightly to naturally hug the shape of the indention.
  • Scoop out a tsp or so filling and fill it in the cup. Repeat this process so you have distributed it amongst the 24 muffin cup baskets .
  • Bake it in the oven for about 20 min or so.
  • Once done, you should have light browning of the pastry sheets. Let it stand in the oven for a min and then remove it . Now you will notice the nice browning of the sheets.
  • Let these cool out for about 5 min or so.
  • Gently scoop out these baskets…
  • Serve them warm with a cup of ice-cold coffee …

Notes:

  • Don’t have 2 muffin pans? Just do it batches. Just make sure the other sheet is refrigerated until use.
  • Don’t have the patience to do it in batches? Then make 12 of these baskets and make pinwheels of another sheet..
  • Have left over chole? Try baking it in these cups. Just ensure the filling is not too runny.
  • Make it more different? Try it with paneer spiced up..
  • This is pretty much a blank canvas and waiting for your master touch!
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