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Cover: Some like it hot

Starters

19Jul 12

Spinach Vada

Spinach Vada
Vadas
are crispy Indian treats that you can enjoy for breakfast or as a snack. These fried pastries look a lot like mini-doughnuts, since they are round and have holes in the centre. However, they are a good deal healthier than doughnuts, because instead of being made with regular dough, they are made with ground up legumes.

Different Vada recipes will call for different legumes; normally, mung daal, urad daal, or channa daal will be used. “Daal” basically means legumes that have had their hulls, or outer shells, removed.

Legumes in general are very low in fat and healthy. Many Indian vegetarians cook with legumes a lot because they are so high in protein. Since they are also rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, they really pack a nutritional punch.

There are a wide variety of different Vada recipes, but today I am going to tell you how to make Spinach Vada. If you are a vegetarian, spinach is a great way to get your iron.

However, this is not to say that Vada are extremely healthy snacks. They are, after all, deep fried treats. That is why I do not prepare them very often. But I find that once in a while, a little indulgence goes a long way!

They remind me a bit of falafel, which is made out of chickpeas. Usually they are also fried, but you can try this oven-baked falafel recipe for a healthier version.

Spinach Vada
Author: 
Recipe type: Snack
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Vadas are crispy Indian treats that you can enjoy for breakfast or as a snack.
Ingredients
  • 400g Mung Daal
  • 200g Channa Daal
  • 1tsp Water
  • 2cm fresh Ginger
  • 1 Clove Garlic
  • 2 Green Chilli Peppers
  • 1 bunch Spinach
  • Pinch of Salt to taste
  • Oil for frying
Instructions
  1. Put the mung daal and channa daal together in a large bowl and cover with water. Leave them soaking overnight, or for at least 5 hours.
  2. Drain the daals and put them in blender. Add a bit of water, but since the daals have been well soaked, you don’t need to add too much.
  3. Blend on high until the daals become a thick paste.
  4. Add the ginger, garlic and green chilli peppers and mix again.
  5. Chop the spinach and add it with salt into the blender.
  6. After well-combined, remove the paste from the blender and put it in a large bowl.
  7. Heat up oil in a large pan.
  8. Take a small handful of this paste and form a round ball. Poke a hole in its centre.
  9. Gently lower each vada ball into the oil.
  10. Fry until they are golden brown on one side, and then gently flip.
  11. Remove and place on a paper towel to drain the excess oil before serving.

 

 

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10Jul 12

Zesty Green Chutney

Zesty Green ChutneyGreen Chutney is perhaps the simplest chutney to make, and it is also the most versatile. The combination of  coriander, lemon juice and mint make this chutney extremely zesty. It goes very well with all kinds of samosas or even Viatnemese spring rolls. Samosas and Bondas are finger foods, which is why this Green Chutney makes the perfect dip. Since it is so flavourful, you could also pour it over something a bit more subtle such as cottage cheese, as you see in the photo.

Not everyone makes Green Chutney with mint. However, I find mint to be very refreshing, and it balances the spicier ingredients perfectly.

I have a friend who once tried this with dried mint herbs she bought at the supermarket, but she told me it just was not the same. When mint dries, it loses its zesty flavour, and that really takes away a lot from the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 500g fresh coriander, finely chopped
  • 250g fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 2 green chilli peppers
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2tsp ginger powder
  • 20g grated coconut
  • 1/2tsp sugar
  • 5tbsp lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt to taste

Preparation Method:

  1. Thoroughly wash the coriander and mince it as finely as you possibly can. Put it into the liquidiser or food processor.
  2. Clean the fresh mint and mince it. Add it to the liquidiser or food processor. Do not blend these ingredients yet.
  3. Take the 2 green chilli peppers and cloves of garlic and chop them as finely as possible. Add them to the blender.
  4. Add the ginger powder, grated coconut and sugar to the blender. These sweet ingredients will balance the spicier ones (such as the green chilli peppers and the garlic).
  5. Blend these ingredients thoroughly.
  6. Now add in the lemon juice and blend a bit more.
  7. Finally add a bit of salt to taste. Do not add too much, as this is overall a sweet and refreshing chutney. However, a bit of salt makes all flavours more intense, even sweet ones. So add just a pinch to bring out the flavours.

Makes: Enough for 20 servings

Takes: 30 minutes

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03Jul 12

Spicy Tomato Chutney

Spicy Tomato ChutneyChutneys are a clever and delectable way to consume your daily intake of fruits and veggies. You can use them in all sorts of dishes to jazz them up or create an interesting twist on the flavours, or simply enjoy on top of  a hunk of bread with a side of cheese.

 

I suggest you try my recipe for tomato chutney, as it is a very versatile chutney that goes well with rice and with tandoori chicken kebabs. This is a great recipe for the summer when tomatoes are in season.

Ingredients:

  • ¼ teaspoons mustard seeds
  • 2 red chilli peppers, whole
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon Channa Dal nuts
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons ginger powder
  • 2 green chilli peppers, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cashew nuts, chopped
  • 10 large, fresh tomatoes, chopped into 2 cm by 2 cm cubes
  • 4 curry leaves
  • Pinch of salt
  • Vegetable oil

Preparation Method:

  1. Heat vegetable oil in a frying pan.
  2. When the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds. Be careful because they pop, and you don’t  want to get burned.
  3. Add the red chillies and fry them for 20 seconds. Since they are whole, the seeds won’t come out of the pepper, and so the chutney won’t be too hot.
  4. Fry the cumin seeds.
  5. Now add the Channa Dal and fry for 30 seconds.
  6. Slowly add the onion and garlic. Add a pinch of salt so that the onion “sweats” a little. Cook this for about 4 minutes until the garlic and onions are softer.
  7. Add the ginger powder. It should sizzle in the pan.
  8. Add the green chilli peppers.
  9. Chop the cashew nuts (but not too small as we’re going to put this all in the blender anyway) and put them in the pan.
  10. Add in the tomatoes and curry leaves. You do not need to chop the curry leaves.
  11. Cover the pot and let it simmer for an hour on a very low heat. You should check it every so often and slowly stir it. You can actually let this simmer for up to 2 hours, and it will be even tastier.
  12. When finished, pour everything into the blender for 30 seconds. You do not want to blend for much longer as you want there to be some chunks of whole tomato left.
  13. Return to the pot and stir slowly. Add salt to taste.
  14. Serve on bread with cheese or as part of a meat dish. You could also store it in glass jars for future use.

Takes: 2 hours
Makes: Enough for 10 servings

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11Jun 12

Chickpea Samosas

Chickpea samosasI just love bringing samosas to my friends’ parties. Everyone’s faces light up when they see me walk in the door with this tasty finger food. Like my Vegetable Samosas, Chickpea Samosas are completely vegetarian, so everyone can enjoy them.

They also make the perfect accompaniment for any dish, such as this Mussel Rassam Curry.

Ingredients:

  • 400g chickpeas
  • 100g peas
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 140g of wholemeal flour
  • 175ml water
  • Vegetable oil
  • Pinch of salt

Preparation Method:

To make the pastry:

  1. Put the wholemeal flour in a bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and the water.
  2. Knead the dough. This can be quite tiring, but remember, the more you knead it, the better the results will be. Think of it as good exercise!
  3. When the dough is elastic, mould it into a ball shape and set it aside for 15 minutes.

To make the samosa filling:

  1. Clean the chickpeas and soak them overnight or for a minimum of 8 hours.
  2. Boil the chickpeas in a pressure cooker for 10 minutes.
  3. Remove them and set them aside.
  4. In a frying pan, fry the onions for 4 minutes until they turn a golden brown.
  5. Add the peas and stir.
  6. Add the chickpeas and the chopped tomatoes to the pan and stir. The tomatoes should become very soft.
  7. Now it is ready for the spices. Add the garam masala, cumin powder and coriander. Add a pinch of salt to taste. Stir slowly for 2 more minutes before taking them off the hot stove.
  8. Take the dough and divide it into 4 portions.
  9. Roll these 4 portions into flat circles.
  10. Gently add the chickpea samosa stuffing to each circle using a small teaspoon. Be careful not to overstuff.
  11. Fold the top flap over and gently press the sides together.
  12. Fill a heavy-based pan halfway with vegetable oil and heat on high. Slowly lower the samosa into the hot oil. Be careful not to do this too fast or the oil will splatter and you’ll get burned. Deep fry for 5 minutes
  13. Remove the samosa and leave them on a kitchen roll to drain some of the excess oil off.

Note: Hot oil can be dangerous and should never be left unattended.

Takes: 10 hours
Makes: 8 large chickpea samosas

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10Jun 12

Bhatura

BhaturaBhaturas are Indian fried puffy breads. They actually puff up as you deep fry them, which is why they are a lot of fun to make. This is a lovely recipe I learned from my grandmother. (If you want more ideas, try this cheese and onion bread recipe.)

Since they are neither sweet nor salty, Bhaturas are very versatile. You can drizzle your favourite chutney on them. Check out my chutney recipes on my homepage.

Many Indians serve these tasty breads with Channa Masala.

 

Ingredients:

  • 240g all-purpose flour (also known as Maida)
  • 1/2 tsp. bicarbonate of soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 50g yoghurt
  • 2 tsp. milk

Preparation Method:

  1. Sieve the all-purpose flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a bowl.
  2. Melt the butter a little bit in the microwave and add to the bowl.
  3. Add the milk and the yoghurt.
  4. Knead until the dough is soft and elastic. This may take a while, but consider it good exercise!
  5. Now roll this dough into a ball.
  6. Cover the ball with a wet cloth.
  7. Set the ball of dough aside for 5 hours. From time to time, check the cloth on top of the dough. You do not want it to dry up completely, so wet it every so often.
  8. After the allotted time, take this dough and knead it more.
  9. Take a small amount and roll it into round circles that are approximately 1 centimetre by 10 centimetres thick. Try to make these circles as perfectly round as possible.
  10. Heat up the vegetable oil in a deep-bottomed pan. Wait until it is very hot.
  11. Take one of these circular Bhaturas and slowly lower it into the oil. Do this slowly because at this point the oil is very hot and if it spatters up on you, it will burn you.
  12. Let it fry for about 2 minutes. It should puff up as it is frying.
  13. Flip the Bhatura over. You will only flip it over once. Wait until it is slightly golden.
  14. Carefully remove from the oil.
  15. Leave it on a paper towel to let the oil drain off. Otherwise, it will be extremely fattening!
  16. Repeat this with the rest of the dough circles.

Makes: 5 Bhaturas
Takes: 30 minutes (plus 5 hours for the dough to sit)

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07May 12

Simple Sev Snacks

Simple Sev SnacksSev are crispy, deep-fried Indian snacks. I remember coming home from school as a little girl, looking for an afternoon snack, and munching on sev; it is what I would call comfort food. I do have to give a quick warning, though— it is not exactly low on calories! As it is deep fried, be sure to munch on just enough to enjoy, but do not overdo it.

To prepare this recipe, you will need a sev maker, also known as a sev press. This cooking device can be bought at any Indian food store. Sev makers are a bit like pasta makers. However, they are much smaller and can be lifted up and held over a pot or a pan. (For a chocolaty snack, try this chocolate tiffin. It’s not Indian food, but it’s yummy!)

Ingredients:

  • 360g whole-wheat flour
  • 2 tsp. red chilli powder
  • 4 pinches of asafoetida
  • 1 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • Pinch of salt to taste
  • 240ml water
  • vegetable oil for deep-frying the sev

Preparation Method:

  1. Place the whole-wheat flour in a bowl. This is a very distinctive type of flour that will give the sev the flavour you are going for.
  2. Add the red chilli powder to the flour. Blend these ingredients.
  3. Add the asafoetida  and turmeric powder to the mix.
  4. Throw in a pinch of salt.
  5. Remove from the bowl and place it on a board.
  6. Add the vegetable oil and water and slowly knead the dough. I have said this before, but I really do consider kneading dough to be good exercise. It will perhaps offset some of the calories from eating deep-fried snacks!
  7. Now grease the inside of the sev maker with oil.
  8. Put the ball of dough into the sev maker.
  9. Heat up the vegetable oil on medium heat in a deep-bottomed pan. When it is quite hot and you can see little bubbles forming in it, you are ready to deep-fry the sev.
  10. Hold the sev maker over the pan with the hot oil in it. Slowly turn the sev maker’s handle so that thin strings of pasta-like dough come out. They should fall gently into the pan.
  11. Let the sev fry lightly.
  12. Remove the sev from the hot oil and drain it. You do not want to eat all that oil, so let a lot of it drain off.
  13. Allow the sev to cool and become crunchy before snacking on it.

 

Makes: 360g of sev

Takes: 45 minutes

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24Apr 12

Aloo Bonda Snacks

Aloo Bonda 

Aloo Bonda is a snack made of mashed potatoes dipped in batter and deep-fried. It is fantastic finger food, so I often serve it at parties as an appetizer.

These snacks can be served hot, straight from the deep fryer. Or you can also enjoy them after they have cooled down. Many people eat them with ketchup, but I prefer them with my Green Chutney recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 8 large potatoes
  • 1tsp mustard seeds
  • 1tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 1 slice of finely chopped ginger
  • 4 large green chilli peppers, finely chopped
  • 500g carrots, chopped
  • 500g peas
  • 2tsp lemon juice
  • 250g gram flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 240ml of water
  • 6 tbsp Vegetable oil
  • Salt to taste

Preparation Method:

  1. Peel the potatoes and boil them.
  2. Mash them and add a little bit of salt. Set the pot with the potatoes aside.
  3. In a pan, heat up 1 tbsp of vegetable oil.
  4. Add the mustard seeds. Careful! They will crackle and pop.
  5. Add the cumin seeds.
  6. Chop the onions, ginger and green chilli peppers very finely.
  7. Add these chopped ingredients to the pan and stir briskly. Fry them until the onions are light brown. Add a little salt to make the onions sweat a bit.
  8. Chop the carrots and add to the pan along with the peas.
  9. Lower the heat and cook for about 15 minutes.
  10. Add the mashed potatoes to the pan and mix them in slowly. Let them fry for 5 minutes.
  11. Now remove the potato mix from the pan and set it aside in a large bowl. Sprinkle in a bit of lemon juice. Set this aside to cool.
  12. In a separate large bowl, mix the gram flour, 5tbsp of vegetable oil, water, a pinch of salt and the baking powder. Mix these ingredients together to form a thick batter.
  13. Heat a pot full of oil for deep frying.
  14. Once the potato filling has fully cooled down, form small round balls with them. Take a handful of the filling and form a round ball with the palm of your hand. You should be able to make about 8 round potato balls.
  15. Now take one of these potato balls and dip it in the batter.
  16. Gently lower it into the oil.
  17. Repeat this with all 8 balls. You can fry them all together in the pot.
  18. Deep fry them until they are crispy.

Makes: 8 Aloo Bondas
Takes: 2 hours

 

Note: For another potato recipe, try these Minty Jersey Royals with Chives and Lemon Butter.

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20Apr 12

Pear and Mango Chutney

Pear and Mango Chutney is a very sweet, mild chutney that goes well with my Bhaturas or vegetable samosas. Spread it on the Bhaturas, which are puffy fried breads, for a delicious afternoon snack, or a sugary breakfast.

You could also try this sweet chutney spread over a meat or fish dish. Try it over these chicken and pear burgers, since they already have a hint of pear flavour inside the burger. My chutney would be the perfect complement.

Like most chutneys, you can store this one in Tupperware or a glass container, and it will be fine for at least a month.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large raw Mango
  • 3 medium Pears
  • 450g Sugar
  • 10 almonds, finely chopped
  • 10 cashews, finely chopped
  • 2tbsp. raisins, mashed
  • 5 cloves, ground
  • 2tsp. Cinnamon Powder
  • 4tsp vegetable oil
  • 400ml water
  • 1tsp. salt

 

Preparation Method:

  1. Peel the large mango and the pears. It will be no problem if you use a normal peeler to do this.
  2. Chop both the mango and pears very finely and put them both into one bowl. Set the bowl aside.
  3. Heat the vegetable oil on a medium flame in a pot or a deep pan.
  4. Lower the flame and add just 2 tablespoons of sugar to the oil. Slowly stir the sugar, until it turns light brown.
  5. Now add the water.
  6. Raise the heat to high and bring the water to the boil.
  7. After 3 minutes of boiling, add in the rest of the sugar and allow it to come to the boil again.
  8. Chop the cashews and almonds very finely. Add them to the pot and stir.
  9. With a fork, mash the raisins in a separate bowl.
  10. Place the raisins to the pot and stir.
  11. Grind the 5 cloves in a mortar with a pestle. Now add them to the pot and mix slowly.
  12. Add the cinnamon to the pot and stir.
  13. Add a pinch of salt. I know this is a sweet chutney, but salt actually brings out the favour of sweet foods. Add just a pinch, and you will see that the flavours will become more intense.
  14. Now add the mango and pear.
  15. Cover the pot and lower the heat. Let simmer for about an hour.
  16. Remove from the pot and let cool.

Makes: 2kg of Pear and Mango Chutney
Takes: 2 hours

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21Mar 12

Vegetable Samosas

Vegetable SamosasVegetable Samosas make a delicious snack at a party. They also work well as an accompaniment to a curry dish such as this Mussel Rassam recipe or as a starter. Eat them hot just after you’ve cooked them, or keep them in the fridge for up to 3 days and eat them cold. I like them with a big dollop of mango chutney, but if you don’t want the fuss of spoons and forks, just enjoy them as a finger food.

Ingredients

To make the pastry
• 380g plain white flour
• 155g white self-raising flour
• 130g butter

To make the samosa filling
• 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 1 pinch of panch phoron (Bengali five-spice)
• 2 onions, chopped finely
• 3 large potatoes, cut into small cubes
• 100g peas
• 1 green chilli, chopped finely (add another if you like your samosas hot!)
• 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
• Salt
• Vegetable oil in which to deep fry

Preparation Method

To make the pastry:
1. Put the 2 types of flour along with the butter into a mixing bowl and work the contents together. Drop in a dash of warm water and knead the mixture into a dough that should be elastic in consistency.
2. Make 12 dough balls and with a rolling pin, roll each ball into a circle. Then cut each circle in half.

To make the samosa filling:
3. Heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan; add the panch phoron and the onions; and fry until the onions turn a lovely golden brown. Add the chillies, turmeric, potatoes and peas; then season with salt. Cook the vegetables on a low heat until they are soft, stirring the contents of the pan frequently.

4. Make little islands with the filling on the half-circles of dough, using a teaspoon. 1 teaspoon on each piece of dough should be enough. Fold the dough into triangle shapes.

5. Take a heavy-based pan, fill it halfway with vegetable oil, and heat on high. You’ll know when the oil is ready to use if you drop a tiny piece of onion or other small piece of leftover veg into the oil and it sizzles immediately. Lower a few of the dough parcels into the hot oil and deep fry for 4-5 minutes or until crisp-looking and golden brown in colour.

6. Using a slotted spoon to drain the oil, carefully scoop the samosas out onto a plate covered with a piece of kitchen roll which will remove some of the excess oil. Repeat the process with the remaining parcels, cooking a few at a time. When all of the samosas are cooked and drained, they are ready to serve.

Note: Hot oil can be dangerous and should never be left unattended.

Takes: 65 minutes

Makes: 24 Vegetable Samosas

 

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