Lahsun (garlic) ki chutney

I have always been blessed with good neighbourhood. After my marriage I moved to Chennai and stayed there for 9 months. Later we moved to Jamaica before settling in Bangalore after three years. At all these places I was surrounded by wonderful people in my neighbourhood.

In Jamaica when suddenly my daughter became sick, along with our Indian friends, my Jamaican neighbours were extremely helpful. At the occasion of Apoorva’s 1st birthday celebration my Jamaican neighbours loved Indian food a lot and they requested to pack some for next day.

In Jaipur my parents’ house is blessed  with kind and friendly neighbours and food is shared between us frequently. We developed a taste for authentic Rajasthani cuisine because Rajasthani neighbours used to bring food to our house or we were the frequent visitors in their house at several occasions.

So this year, during summer vacation when I visited my parents’ house, all childhood memories were revived. And I wad very lucky when we got an invitation from the same neighbours for dinner. We relished all authentic delicacies but I still felt that something was missing in the menu. Then my sister pointed out that garlic chutney is not there. I asked them about the missing dish and got the assurance that before I go back to Bangalore I will surely get “Lahsun ki chutney”.

After coming back to Bangalore I was tempted to prepare this chutney. This chutney is cooked with lots of oil, so we can keep it in an air tight container in the fridge and it will last for at least 2 weeks. We can also use it as a part of gravy for vegetables and tadka for lentils.

In Rajasthan if you have seen this chutney, you will find that oil will be floating in the container and chutney is red in colour as lots of dry red chillies are used here. I didn’t want so much of oil, so reduced the quantity of oil and instead of dry red chillies, I have used raw red chillies as they were available in my kitchen.

Ingredients :

Peeled garlic cloves 100 gm
Red chilli 🌶 50 gm
Oil 1/4 cup
Cumin seeds 1/4 tsp
Salt as per your taste
Asafoetida 1/8 tsp
One small onion and small tomato 🍅

Keep peeled garlic cloves, red chillies, tomato and onion together.

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Chop onion and tomato and grind everything together in a smooth paste.

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In a small wok, heat oil, crackle cumin seeds and asafoetida and add garlic paste. Cook it on sim heat for 15 minutes. Let it cool down completely and use it as any part of your meal.

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Sweet tamarind chutney

Indian chats (snack) are incomplete without chutney – either sweet or savoury. Buy samosa or kachori and you will get sweet and savoury chutneys along with them.

Bhel puri, sev puri, dahi puri, papdi chaat or dahi vada; all are incomplete without chutney. At my parents’ house we never bought any chats. My mother used to prepare everything from the scratch. So, after my marriage I also continued the same tradition. Preparing savoury chutney with coriander or mint leaves is regular in my kitchen. But I always felt a little lazy to prepare sweet tamarind chutney at frequent intervals and so instead in enough quantity that it will last for 6 months.

While cooking sweet tamarind chutney you might not be able to figure out exactly how it tastes because flavours really taste better the next day. Therefore, you wait till next day for the developed taste and if you feel something is less or missing, add accordingly.

Ingredients :

120 gm tamarind
3 +1/2 cups water
300 gm sugar/jaggery powder
5 dates

For the rest of the ingredients I am not giving specific measurements as you can add them according to your taste. You can prepare it as sweet tamarind chutney or it could be tangy tamarind chutney by reducing sugar little bit – choice is completely yours!

White salt
Black salt
Ginger powder
Garam masala powder
Red chilli powder

Process :

Soak tamarind in 2 cups of water for 2 hours.

In a separate pan soak dates in water.

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After 2 hours, mash tamarind and sieve it. Add rest of the water in tamarind, mash it and sieve it again so that the whole pulp comes out.

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Boil this sieved tamarind water and pulp on sim heat by adding de-seeded dates and sugar for at least 1+1/2 to 2 hours. If you are interested in thick consistency, boil for at least 2 hours but if you like thin consistency, boil for 1 to 1+1/2 hours. Just 10 minutes before chutney is done, add rest of the ingredients as per your taste.

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Let chutney cool down completely before filling in  an air tight container and storing that in the fridge.

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Moong ki daal ke pakode (green lentil fritters)

I love Makar Sankranti festival the most! In Jaipur Makar Sankranti is celebrated in its full galore. Before a month itself you can feel the vibes of the festival in the air. Even a small street corner general store starts selling kites. Immediately after coming back from school, kids will be seen on terrace with their kites till their mother starts calling them to come down because it is going to be very cold – after all it’s peak of winter season. Mothers will be drying up sesame seeds in hot sun for preparing sweets as til ki papdi and til ke ladoo. 

Kids keep their kites ready the previous night of Sankranti itself. Gaajar ka halwa is prepared and split green moong daal is soaked previous night of Sankranti. I remember at my parents’ house we used to take bath with cold fresh tap water early in the morning on the day of Sankranti (a religious custom). Mother used to be busy with her pooja preparations and we used to wait for Sun to come so that sky can be clear of fog. I remember, once my brother, Sunny, and I, tried to fly kite very early in the morning when it was still dark. We found some neighbours also along with their kites on their terrace. But unfortunately because of fog kites became wet and everyone returned disappointed.

Sankranti is the best day to be soaked up in the Sun. Whole day family members are on the terrace. If guests or neighbours visit you, they also join you on the terrace.

Streets are also full of kids – some will be there to fly kites and others to catch the kites. Have you ever caught a kite flying in from somewhere in the sky, and somehow you guessed that it’s going to cross through your territory…it creates such a wonderful scene!! Everyone on your terrace is on full alert, sometimes including your parents, not to leave no stone unturned to catch the incoming kite!!!! And the person who succeeds in catching that kite will have a wonderful sense of proud feeling!!

Whole day will be gone in watching and flying kites, making loud hullabaloo if you are successful in snapping others kite’s string, gossiping, and munching roasted groundnuts, gazak, revadi, til papdi and hot moong ki daal ke pakode /vade.

Oh, I miss so much Makar Sankranti celebration in Jaipur, 😢 I guess I can write a lot about this festival. It is that one festival which is celebrated from morning till night. After sunset also some people fly kites with lamp, even though it gets very cold.

After shifting to Bangalore I hardly saw kids flying kites. But a few days before Sankranti I read that at some place kite festival was being organized. And today when we went out to our nearby shopping complex in Banashankari 3rd stage, I was amazed to see kites being sold in shops. Just like rakhi now there were kites to attract kids with their favorite cartoon characters like Doremon, Dora, Barbies etc. Even our honourable Prime Minister Modi kite was there.

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I really hope that in coming 3-4 four years we might see sky of Bangalore filled with colourful kites on Makar Sankranti.

The main attraction of food in the whole day of Makar Sankranti is ‘chilke vaali hari moong ki daal ke pakode‘. Daal is soaked the previous night, and in the morning it is ground, spices added and this batter is used the whole day for family members and guests to have hot pakode. These are very tasty and crispy and you can have them with your hot evening tea.

Ingredients :

Split green moong daal,  green chillies, ginger, salt, red chilli powder, salt, asafoetida and water.

Process :

Wash nicely and soak daal overnight or just for 2 hours in the morning – it puffs up nicely.

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Add salt, red chilli powder, green chillies, asafoetida and ginger. Without water grind it in a mixer. We need thick batter, so don’t add water while grinding.

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Heat oil in a deep pan and with your finger tips take very small quantity of daal batter and drop it carefully in the hot oil. If this tiny pakoda/fritter floats in the oil, it signifies that oil is hot enough to fry. In the same way fry rest of the pakode. You can use spoon also to drop the batter in oil.

 

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On medium heat fry pakode nicely by turning them upside down.

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Take them out with a handled sieve to drain out extra oil.

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Serve hot and crispy pakode with any sauce or chutney.

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Daal paalak (split chickpea lentil with spinach)

Spinach tastes excellent in baked quiche, paalak paneer and paalak fritters(pakoda). But you prepare it as a vegetable, kids will ignore it. With spinach, tomatoes enhance its taste a lot. I always have a liking for paalak ki sabzi. Honestly speaking, I was a good kid with my eating habits probably because at my parent’s house it was compulsory for us to eat everything which was served in meals. My younger sister Nandini was a little rebellious with this rule and to get food of her choice she started cooking at an early age. I guess I was happy by having a variety of food (cooked by Nandini and mother) on the table, so never bothered to trouble myself in the kitchen till I was forced to live out of the town because of  my job.

Coming back to spinach, my mother used to prepare daal (lentils) along with spinach. Mostly she used green split moong daal (chilke vaali moong daal) and chana daal (split chickpea lentil). I use chana daal for daal palak.  Chana daal is slightly heavy for digestion so I feel that adding spinach will balance it. For tadka (seasoning) in daal I mostly use mustard oil or olive oil, but desi ghee will enhance its taste a lot and you will get wonderful dhaba style daal.

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Ingredients :

Chana daal             1cup
Shredded spinach 1/2 cup

Water- to boil daal     4 cups (after boiling if you feel daal is too thick, add some more water)

Salt-                                        1 tsp (add or reduce as per your taste)
Turmeric powder-slightly less than 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder-                1 tsp
Asafoetida (hing) –                1/8 tsp
Cumin seeds (jeera) –            1/2 tsp
Green chillies –                       1-2

Tomato medium size            2 (chopped, grated or puree)
Grated ginger                          1/2 tsp ,
Onion                                      1 (chopped)

Process, :

Wash nicely and soak chana daal in three cups of water for an hour.

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Wash and chop spinach leaves finely.

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After an hour mix chopped spinach leaves and soaked chana daal together in a  pressure cooker, add salt and turmeric powder and cook it until chana daal is cooked properly.

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Now we will prepare our seasoning or tadka for daal. Chop onions and green chillies finely. Grate ginger and tomatoes.

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Heat 2 tbsp oil/ghee in a pan and crackle cumin seeds and asafoetida. Add onion, ginger and green chillies till onions are light brown. Now add tomatoes and fry everything till it starts leaving the oil from sides.

 

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When daal is completely cooked, add daal in this tadka, mix it properly and serve hot in lunch or dinner.

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Moong ki daal ke cheele

Mostly people associate chilka moong daal with khichdi vaali daal. My mother used to prepare this lentil with spinach on sim heat of “mitti ka chulha” during winter. Later she used to add dhaba style desi ghee ka tadka.  No matter how much I try, but I can never get that heavenly taste in my pressure cooker cooked daal.

During winter sometimes my mother used to prepare “cheele” (Indian style pancake with green lentils) with moong daal for dinner along with any green chutney or pickle. Moong daal cheela is a very popular snack during North Indian marriage feast. There they also add grated paneer to make it look like a part of marriage celebration feast. You can witness a long queue of people inside the shamiyana (place where marriage ceremony happens) to have hot moong ki daal ke cheele.

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These cheele could be a part of any meal of the day – but generally they are prepared for breakfast. As lentils are very good for our health, this breakfast will be a good option for all age group members of the family.

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Ingredients

Green split moong daal 2 cups
Water 4 cups
Salt, red chilli powder, asafoetida (hing), chopped green chillies and ginger.

Ingredients :

Wash and soak moong daal overnight or for three hours in the morning. It will puff up nicely after soaking.

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Don’t throw away water and grind daal along with fresh ginger, green chillies, Asafoetida, red chilli powder and salt. Use very little quantity of the saved water while grinding. Grated daal should have dropping consistency, neither too thin nor too thick .

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Heat tava, grease it with little quantity of oil.

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Spread two small size spoons of batter on it.

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Reduce the heat to medium. When it starts looking dry from the top, spread some oil around the edges of cheela. With the help of flat spatula, start scrubbing from the sides and turn it to the other side.

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Apply oil on the roasted side of cheela and follow the same process for the other side too.

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When cheela is properly roasted on both the sides, serve it hot with any chutney, pickle or sauce.

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Stuffed Brinjals/Eggplant/Aubergines

 

Are you bored of cooking plain brinjal vegetable? Try them in stuffed form….. you will sure start liking this vegetable again!!!!! With plain paratha, roti or side dish for rice, stuffed brinjal will enhance the flavor of your meal!!!
(Pardon the picture quality of ready stuffed brinjals, had guests in the house and I was feeling awkward to take pictures at the right frame).

Ingredients :

Small size brinjals
Oil
Spices : coriander powder, red chilli powder,turmeric powder  salt, a pinch of asafoetida (hing), garam masala, dry mango powder (amchoor), grinded fennel seeds(kuti hui sauf)

Process :

Wash and dry brinjals.

 

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Now collect all spices in a bowl and add one or two tsp oil in it and mix everything together.

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Cut brinjal horizontally and vertically – But make sure not to cut all the way, that is from end-to-end.

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Fill in little quantity of spices mix in the gaps – both horizontally and vertically.

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Heat one non stick or heavy bottomed  pan and pour 4-5 spoons of oil in it. Place all spices filled brinjals in it.

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Reduce the heat to sim, cover the pan and let them cook on sim flame

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Keep on turning  brinjals upside down for even cooking till they become tender from all sides.

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Serve with roti, nan, plain paratha or rice!

 

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