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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Basics of baking – bread/buns/rolls (Wheat flour buns with pizza spices-2)

What do you do when you have to bake following your own recipe and Internet is not there? Apoorva desperately wanted buns with pizza spices in the evening and I was fine with that because recipe was in my blog itself, but due to continuous rain some problem happened and there was no Internet. Generally during rainy days we get affected by  electricity problem, but surprisingly power was there but no Internet! I don’t go out much, so I didn’t care to check that data pack had also expired. Now I was cursing myself for not maintaining a diary with at least all my own recipes.

So finally I decided to do some guesswork and wrote the quantity of ingredients to compare later with my previous recipe Tea time Wheat Flour Buns with pizza spices (1) and started kneading the dough  with prayer in my heart for continued power.

Buns came out really well and later when I checked both the recipes there were only a few variations. The biggest difference was the quantity of water. In previous recipe wheat flour had absorbed more liquid but this time it was less. I am using Ashirwad brand wheat flour from the beginning but it was clear that they don’t maintain same flour quality always.

That’s why I always keep on insisting in my bread posts that one should never follow blindly same quantity of liquid used for kneading the dough written in the recipe.

Around a year back I was following a bread recipe by a famous blogger and according to the instructions used whole quantity of water to knead the dough. Dough became so wet that it was impossible to handle, so I added extra flour. There was nothing wrong in the recipe, but the flour blogger had used had more liquid absorbing quality than mine. So, whether you are using wheat flour,  all purpose flour (maida) or chiroti rava, if required, reduce or increase the amount of liquid given in the recipe while kneading the dough.

The same logic applies for time limit of proofing the dough. Generally first proofing time is somewhere between 1 to 1+1/2 hours. If your kitchen is warm then dough could be double in size in 50 minutes to 1 hour. If you will let it proof for the next half an hour it will be over proofed, and over proofing dough does not give you a good loaf of bread.

For first proofing if I am keeping dough in switched off microwave (which I generally do) then proofing gets over in one hour, but if I keep the dough on kitchen counter it takes half an hour more.

If you are using dry active yeast, you have to proof it first before adding it with the flour. In proofing the yeast temperature of water is most important. It should be slightly more than lukewarm…if water is cold or too hot, it kills the yeast. Take a bigger glass to proof the yeast because it blooms nicely – so there should be enough space in the glass. Add yeast, sugar and lukewarm water in the glass and mix it with a spoon. Cover it and keep it aside for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes it will be frothy with bubbles on the top and it’s ready to be used. I have posted recipe also for White Sandwich Bread with active dry yeast in the blog.

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Don’t let yeast overproof – it will not give you good loaf of bread and you will get yeast smell in your bread/buns .

Instant yeast doesn’t need prior proofing – it can be added directly to the flour. Always keep yeast in the fridge. If you are keeping it in a box, always write down expiry date on the box. Just in case if you have forgotten to write it, then proof it to check its effectiveness.

Baking temperature is also very important. Every oven has different temperature settings. So, if I can bake buns at 190 degrees, probably your oven might do the same baking at 180 degrees. Here size of the oven also matters a lot. In small oven or microwave, heating rods are much nearer to the baking pan, so high temperature will not give you good result. Generally people complain about getting the top of bread/buns/cake hard. It happens as heat reaches very fast due to the small size of oven. So if recipe mentions to bake at 180 degree, you can reduce the temperature to 170 degrees. And still if required, use ‘tenting method’ I have mentioned in one of my bread post White Sandwich Bread

Once your bread is baked, place baking tin on wiring rack for 10-15 minutes so that tin cools down and it is easy to demold your loaf. If bread is sticking around the edges, clean the edges with sharp knife and take out bread and leave it on the wiring rack till it is completely cooled. Now give bread proper resting time of 3-4 hours by cling wrapping  and keeping it in the fridge. The  crumb of bread will settle down in the fridge and while slicing you will get neat bread slices. If you have invested in buying a bread tin, please invest in buying a bread cutting serrated knife also.

Don’t get disheartened if your first or second bake didn’t go as per your expectations…. you need to learn about the settings of your oven and it will happen with multiple bakes. Love your oven and it will give you desired results!!!

So, the whole purpose of writing this post was to highlight these basic points. I hope all these points will be beneficial to your baking.

Now let’s see what slight changes I did in my previous recipe with my guesswork .. so whichever recipe suits you… this one or the previous one….. try that, but one thing is for sure that your kids will be very happy with these buns because of the wonderful aroma of pizza spices in your house!!!!

Ingredients!

Sugar             1+1/2 tsp
Salt                 1 tsp
Yeast               3/4 tsp
Wheat flour   2+1/2 cups
Milk powder   2 tbsp
Milk                  1 cup +1/4 cup (reduce 1 tbsp) (it should be slightly more than lukewarm)
Pizza mix spices    3 tsp
Oil                            3 tsp
Butter                     2 tbsp
Instead of milk water can be used or you can use both by mixing them together.

Other than milk all ingredients should be at room temperature.

On sim heat warm 2 tbsp butter and add 1+1/2 tsp pizza mix spices and keep it aside.

Process :

Take a big vessel and place all dry ingredients in it.

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Keep adding milk slowly to collect all ingredients in the shape of dough.

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Knead for 10 minutes and keep adding 1 tbsp milk from time to time. Consistency of  dough should be very soft and kind of wet but not so wet that you can’t manage. Add oil and knead again for 5 minutes.

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Place this dough in a bigger size oil greased bowl so that there is enough space for the dough to become double in size. Apply some oil on top of the dough, cling wrap the bowl and keep it in a warm place for first proofing.

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When dough doubles in size, take it out on clean oil greased kitchen counter and punch it gently.

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Collect it together, prepare a log shape and cut your desired size and roll them in shape of buns. Keep buns in oil greased baking tray or roll parchment paper on baking tray and keep buns on it with some gap in between. Space between buns is needed as buns bloom during second proofing and baking in the oven.

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Apply pizza mix spices butter on all the buns and keep them for second proofing.

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Just 10 minutes before second proofing time is getting over, preheat oven at 190 degrees.

Second proofing gets over in 20-30 minutes. Don’t let buns overproof otherwise instead of rising in the oven they will sink.

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Give milkwash to all the buns and bake them at 185 degrees temperature for 20-30 minutes or till the top of the buns become brown and buns bounce back if pressed.

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Again apply remaining pizza spices mixed butter to give them shine and to keep them soft. Serve them hot or if you are planning to serve later then shift them to wiring rack. But I am sure before cooling, buns would start disappearing!!!!!

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Murrukku

During Deepawali or Holi festival my mother used to prepare namakpara, shakkarpara and two three varieties of sev and mixture. But after marriage I came to Chennai and later shifted to Bangalore. Here I heard a complete new name for savoury snack as, “Murukku” and it tasted really good.

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I asked someone (can’t remember who it was) for the recipe and it was such a lengthy process that I gave up any idea of trying this. Later, we shifted to our own house in an apartment complex. Here once again I heard about the recipe of Murrukku and it was very easy to follow. Actually, my apartment friend Ashwini had introduced this recipe. She herself is an amazing cook and believes a lot in healthy cooking. But this recipe was made popular in our apartment by Sunitha, a nice hearted person who also prepares the best melt-in-mouth mysore pak (but that story is for another day). Since then whether it is Deepawali or Holi, I never miss preparing Murukku….

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Ingredients :
White urad daal 250 gm
Rice flour 500gm
Salt 3tsp
Butter/ghee 3 – 4 tbsp
Asafoetida 1/8tsp
Water 1+1/2 cup (for boiling daal)
Cumin seeds (jeera) 4tsp
Oil to fry
Process :
Nicely wash urad daal twice and soak it for an hour.

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After an hour use same water and boil urad daal nicely in pressure cooker.

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Daal should be boiled till it is completely soft and then grind it in mixer without adding extra water. But if it is too thick and it is difficult to grind then add some water. Grind it till daal resembles a paste.

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Take it out in a pan and add rice flour, salt, jeera, asafoetida and butter.

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Mix everything together and give it a shape of smooth dough. If mixture is dry and difficult to shape as dough, add some water.

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This is murukku making mould.

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But without this also murrukku can be prepared. Make a lemon size ball from the doug, roll it on oil greased  kitchen counter and shape that as murukku.

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Heat oil in a pan and when oil is getting hot, start preparing murrukku and keep them on butter paper or on clean kitchen platform.

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Fry murukku on medium to sim heat.

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Take them out when they turn light brown and let them cool. Once cooled, fill in an air tight container. Enjoy your evening tea with crispy murrukku.

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Namakpara

Generally in India sweets are prepared during festivals, but preparing savoury snacks needs no occasion. We can have them with our morning and evening tea or just like that for munching also.

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Namakpara is one of the most easy to prepare savoury snack, and with slight changes in the dough we prepare for Namakpara can give us many varieties of snacks, like plain or rolled papri for papri chat, mathri, etc. Even a combination of  different types of flours can be used to prepare them. But we will prepare those versions  some other time. Today, we will be doing Namakpara with ajwain flavour.

Ingredients :

Maida         2 cups

Chiroti rava (optional) (normal rava is also fine) 2 tbsp

Salt           1 tsp

Ajwain       1 tsp

Oil             4 tbsp

Water    1/2 cup (minus 1tbsp)

Oil for frying

Procedure:

Take a broad sized vessel so that kneading is easy and put maida, salt, chiroti rava, ajwain and oil in it.

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Oil helps Namakpara becoming crisp. Mix it all nicely and take little mixture in your palm and hold it tight. If mix binds well instead of crumbling, the oil quantity is perfect. If mixture crumbles, add some more oil.

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Slowly start adding water in it and knead it in a tight dough. Apply some oil on ready dough (so that it doesn’t dry) and keep it covered for half an hour.

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Clean your kitchen slab and roll the whole dough (or divide the dough in small balls and roll them).

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Cut the rolled dough vertically in long stripes. IMG_20170310_195416313.jpg

And again cut these stripes horizontally in big or small size. IMG_20170310_195542070.jpg

You can fry them immediately or if planning to fry later, then keep them on dry, clean cotton cloth (maybe your dupatta) and cover with the cloth so that they don’t become dry.

Fry them in  between low to medium heat and and take out and keep them on a sieve or butter paper, to remove excess oil. Let them cool down completely. Fill in an air tight box and enjoy your crispy, salty snack!!!!! IMG_20170312_092029232.jpg