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Cover: Some like it hot

Recipes with vegetable oil

13Jun 12

Puran Poli

Puran PoliPuran Poli makes a mouth-watering meal. It is a type of flatbread similar to Naan but with a sweet flavour. It is tied for my favourite breakfast food along with spicy Indian scrambled eggs, either of which can be served with ghee. As a tasty dessert, puran poli can be served sprinkled with powdered sugar or chocolate syrup.

Ingredients:

  • 400g Chana Dal
  • 400g chopped jaggery
  • 2.5 tsp. cardamon powder
  • 500g Maida (all-purpose flour)
  • 4 tbsps. vegetable oil
  • pinch of salt

Preparation Method:

  1. Wash the Chana Dal thoroughly. Cover them with water and leave them to soak overnight.
  2. Drain the Chana Dal. Put in a pot with 1 litre of water and cook until soft (about 35 minutes).
  3. Strain the water. Lower the flame.
  4. Add the chopped jaggery. Stir slowly until they melt. Make sure all the liquid fully evaporates. The Chana Dal and the jaggery should form a solid paste.
  5. Slowly stir in the cardamon powder.
  6. Set it aside in a bowl and allow it to cool.
  7. Sieve the Maida and salt in a sieve or a sifter.
  8. Put the sieved Maida flour in a bowl. Add some water and vegetable oil.
  9. Knead the dough until it is soft, elastic and smooth. If you find that the dough is not becoming soft enough, just slowly add in a bit more water, but do not overdo it!
  10. Divide the dough into 8 portions. Slowly roll each portion into perfectly round balls.
  11. Prepare a rolling surface by cleaning it and sprinkling it with flour.
  12. Take one of the 8 dough balls and flatten it into a round, thin circle. Do this first gently with your fingers. Then use a rolling pin afterwards.
  13. Take a small spoon of the paste and place it gently in the centre of the flat dough circle.
  14. Pick the sides of the dough up and press them against the paste. Do this until they entirely cover the paste. Try not to break the outer covering of the dough. If a small hole appears as you are closing the seams over the paste, just take a small dollop of dough and press it gently over the hole so that it is covered.
  15. Flatten the ball with your fingers. With a rolling pin, gently roll it into a flat circle.
  16. Heat pan on a medium flame. When it is very hot, place the rolled poli on it and cook.
  17. Flip and fry it on the other side until it is well cooked.

Takes: 10 hours (including soaking time).
Makes: Enough for 8 servings.

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29May 12

Palak Paneer

 

Palak Paneer

Palak Paneer is a delightful spinach and cheese dish. In my opinion, there is just nothing that can compare to the combination of spinach and cheese. These two ingredients perfectly complement each other and bring out each other’s best qualities. Paneer cheese is the cheese used in this particular traditional Indian recipe. It can be found at your local Indian speciality foods shop.

I find this Palak Paneer recipe quite rich and creamy. However, the good news is that this dish is very easy to digest. Many people are under the mistaken impression that Indian food is always very rough on the intestines. While it may be true that if you eat spices you are not used to eating, you could possibly have difficulties digesting your meal, you must also keep in mind that many people find vegetables easier on the stomach than meats and fish. And this Palak Paneer recipe, which I learned from my mum, is entirely vegetarian.

Also, it is not very hot or spicy, which makes for light digestion. Palak Paneer is best served with naan bread or with basmati rice, making it a complete and filling meal. I often make this for dinner on chilly days as it is so filling. It will leave you full but not stuffed.

Vegetable Samosas make a tasty accompaniment to this spinach and cheese dish. (And for more spinach options, try this spinach and lentil soup.)

Palak Paneer
Author: 
Recipe type: Main Course
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Palak Paneer is a delightful spinach and cheese dish.
Ingredients
  • 1000g Spinach
  • 4 Onions, medium sized
  • 4 cloves of Garlic
  • 2 Green Chilli Peppers
  • 80ml Water
  • 7tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 400g Paneer cheese
  • Pinch of Salt to Taste
Instructions
  1. Bring water to the boil in a pot and add spinach. Cook until soft.
  2. Drain the spinach and put it in the blender. Blend well until it is puréed.
  3. Chop and sauté the onions.
  4. Finely chop the garlic and add it to the pan with the onions and stir.
  5. Chop the chilli peppers and add them to the pan.
  6. Add in the puréed spinach and the water and bring it to the boil.
  7. Lower the heat and let simmer for 5 minutes.
  8. Chop the paneer cheese into small cubes.
  9. Fry the cubes of paneer cheese until they are slightly browned.
  10. Slowly stir the paneer into the purée.

 

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14May 12

Sweet Gulab Jamoon

Sweet Gulab JamoonGulab Jamoon is a delicious Indian dessert. It consists of deep fried balls of dough, called jamoons, in a sugary syrup. Gulab Jamoon was served at all my cousins’ weddings. In fact, it is one of the most typical desserts served at traditional Indian weddings, and one of my very favourites of all sweets.

These days, gulab jamoon powder is internationally available, so it’s not difficult to find and pepare; however,  it takes a little more time compared to other desserts as it sometimes requires being dipped in sugar syrup for whole night. The texture resembles the liqueur syrup-saturated French cake Baba au Rhum.

They also remind me a bit of doughnuts. Speaking of, did you know that May 12th through May 19th is national doughnut week? Maybe you should try this recipe to celebrate!

The term gulab jamoon comes from Persia, and it means “rose water”, referring to its rosewater-scented syrup. This very tasty dessert is often eaten at important celebrations, like weddings, but also commonly enjoyed at Diwali (the Indian festival of light) and the Muslim celebrations of Eid ul-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.

There are lots of varieties when it comes to gulab jamoon, and each one has its one appearance and special taste. You can eat them cold, but our favourite way to enjoy gulab jamoon is to warm them a bit before serving. It adds another dimension to the dish;  it’s perfect for special occasions when you want something more exotic than cake.

I got this recipe from my aunt, who really knows how to make tasty sweets.

Sweet Gulab Jamoon
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10
 
Gulab Jamoon is a delicious Indian dessert.
Ingredients
  • 250ml Water
  • 250g Sugar
  • 500ml Khoya
  • 125g Flour
  • ¼tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 pinch of Saffron, crushed
  • ½tsp. Cardamom Powder
  • 125ml Milk
  • 900ml Vegetable Oil for deep frying
Instructions
  1. To make the syrup, combine the water and sugar in a large pot and let simmer while you are preparing the jamoons.
  2. To make the balls of dough, start by crumbling the khoya into a large bowl.
  3. Add in the flour and baking soda. Mix these ingredients together.
  4. Sprinkle in the pinch of crushed saffron and cardamom powder.
  5. Knead these ingredients to form dough. Slowly add in the milk as you are kneading. Only use as much milk as you need to make the dough soft. You might not need as much as 125ml.
  6. Take a small bit of dough in your hands and roll it into a perfectly round little ball. There should be enough to make 30 balls.
  7. Put these balls on a plate and cover them with a slightly damp kitchen towel. Let them sit for up to 10 minutes.
  8. Heat up the vegetable oil until it is very hot. (You may substitute ghee for vegetable oil). Then lower to the lowest flame.
  9. Slowly drop in the balls of dough. Be careful not to burn yourself. These balls will rise to the top of the oil. Let them fry until they are light brown.
  10. Remove the balls from the hot oil and leave them aside on a paper towel. Let the oil drain off them.
  11. Now add them to the syrup, which should be still simmering in the pot. Cover the pot and let simmer for 1 hour, then turn off the flame. My aunt then lets them soak in the syrup overnight. If you have time for this, it will give the balls a much sweeter flavour.
  12. Serve in a dish with plenty of syrup and perhaps a bit of icing sugar!

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09May 12

Malai Kofta

Malai KoftaMalai Kofta is a traditional dish and is the vegetarian alternative to meatballs. It is most often eaten on special occassions. The koftas are little fried potato dumplings in a rich, heavy gravy. (Sort of like my aloo bonda snacks, except those don’t have the delicious gravy.) Needless to say this is not a low-fat recipe!

An essential ingredient for Mailai Kofta is paneer, a fresh Indian cheese. It tastes a bit like cottage cheese, so you can substitute cottage cheese if you are not able to find paneer in your local Indian grocery store. But if you can find it, I strongly suggest you buy it. It is quite delicious and will give this recipe a more authentic taste.

Malai kofta is a delicious savoury dish of Moghlai origin; it is a north Indian speciality, and they go very well served with tasty Naan bread and/or basmati rice. There are lots of varieties; in fact, in Pakistan and Iran, koftas are usually made of beef and chicken, and in Bengal, a region of eastern India, koftas are made with prawns, fish, green bananas, cabbage, as well as minced goat meat.

Honestly, it’s not a short or easy recipe, but it’s all worth it in the end – trust me.

 

Malai Kofta
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 5
 
Malai Kofta is a traditional vegetarian dish.
Ingredients
  • 8 medium Potatoes
  • 140g Paneer
  • 50g green peas
  • 6 Green Chilli Peppers, finely chopped
  • 1tsp Ginger Powder
  • 1tsp Coriander Powder
  • ½tsp Cumin Powder
  • Pinch of Salt to taste
  • 2tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 8 Cardamom Seeds
  • 4cm of stick of Cinnamon
  • 8 Cloves
  • 150ml Cream
  • 200ml Whole Milk
  • 2tsp White Pepper Powder
  • 1tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 500 ml Water
Instructions
  1. Peel, boil and mash the potatoes. You can do this last step with a hand blender or with a potato masher.
  2. Mix half the paneer, green chilli peppers, ginger powder, coriander powder, cumin powder and salt together in a bowl.
  3. Add the mashed potatoes and mix.
  4. Oil your hands slightly. Now take a small ball of the mixture in your hands. Roll the ball so it is nice and round.
  5. Repeat this with the remaining mixture until you have about 12 round balls. Set the balls aside.
  6. Heat up the vegetable oil. Add the cardamom, cinnamon and cloves to the pan and roast them gently on a low flame.
  7. Remove the cardamom, cinnamon and cloves from the pan. Let them cool down a bit and then grind them with a mortar and pestle.
  8. Mix the cream, green peas, remaining paneer and milk together in a bowl to make a paste.
  9. Heat up the ghee in the same pan.
  10. Add the white pepper powder and turmeric powder and fry for a few seconds.
  11. Now add the paste and fry for 8 minutes.
  12. Add in the water and lower the flame.
  13. Let simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  14. Fill a pan with vegetable oil and heat it on a high flame until there are bubbles.
  15. Gently add in the koftas and deep fry them until they are golden brown.
  16. Remove them and serve with the gravy.

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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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29Mar 12

Mild Vegetable Curry

Mild Vegetable CurryThis is a very simple vegetable curry dish that makes a good substitute for the usual casserole. It’s very mild so those of you who are not used to strong Indian spices can start here with a nice, gentle dish and perhaps build your way up to a hotter recipe in the future.

 

Many people like to serve this on top of white rice. That makes it even more filling. However, vegetable curry is quite substantial and can be eaten on its own as well. I suggest a cauliflower and mushroom curry as it is also quite a mild and creative way to eat your veggies.

The good thing about this mild vegetable curry recipe is that it can be prepared very quickly, and it’s not very expensive. Since it’s so hearty and nutritious, it makes a great meal for young children, especially in the winter. That means you can feed your whole family on a budget. And, it’s a great way to get kids to eat their vegetables!

Ingredients:

  • 1 aubergine, peeled and chopped into 2 cm by 2 cm pieces
  • 1 large potato, peeled and chopped into 2 cm by 2 cm pieces
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and chopped into 2 cm by 1 cm pieces
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 4 tablespoons mild curry paste
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 100ml water

Preparation Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
  2. Put the potato, aubergine and carrots into an oven-proof bowl with a lid (or a pot with a lid). Then, add 2 tablespoons of mild curry paste and 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Stir the ingredients gently so that all the vegetables are lightly coated with oil and curry paste. Put the oven-proof bowl with these vegetables into the oven and leave to roast for 25 minutes.
  3. In a large frying pan, heat up 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil until it is very hot. Next add the garlic. Fry the diced garlic for 2 minutes at medium heat. Then add the diced onion and fry for another minute. Add 2 tablespoons of curry paste. Stir it gently so that it is evenly distributed in the frying pan. Cook for 2 more minutes.
  4. Next, slowly stir in the coconut milk and the water. Lower stove to low heat and let simmer for ten minutes.
  5. Remove the roasted vegetables from the oven and add them to the sauce. Let simmer for 20 minutes.

Makes: 6 servings

Takes: 35 minutes

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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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