Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Vada Pav/ Batata vada /Deep fried potato patties sandwiched in a bun

My family is HOOKED on to this Maharashtrian quintessential staple snack & also food for some- Vada Pav! ! We never seem to get enough of this  on our trips to India and honestly no matter how hard you try the flavor can never be replicated :(

Our summer breaks as kids were always my paternal place which is Pune and this used to be the most awaited time of the year for me and my siblings as we would get to spend 2 months with our cousins and uncles and aunts and I remember it as being the most pampered time of the year. Also the train journey from Ajmer to Pune    used to be a major attraction, every station the train made stops at would come alive with the local vendors and stalls which would sell the local delights and the never ending calls by the tea vendors ,"Chaiiiiiiii Chaiiiiiiiii Chaiiiiiii" at every stop are vivid and etched in my fondest memories and the images come up even as I write this. I was always the ,"curious kid" and enjoyed every nuance of this 36 hours  train journey and watched people very closely and waited anxiously for all the excitement to unfold as the train moved and we kept getting closer to our destination. One such stop which the entire family looked forward to was Karjat a city which is located half way between Mumbai and Pune and is the most popular place for Vada Pav aficionados. The vadas sold here at the Karjat station are usually small in size compared to the regular ones which are sold all over Maharashtra. They are always piping hot and I believe they start to fry them just before the arrival of the trains so the timing is perfect too. Apart from these I really don't think they are any different from the regular fair but again it is the ambiance and all the,"halla gulla" and the never ending queus at the vada  pav stall that make these ,"extra special":) !

I could have not completed this post without a mention of this train journey,as this was a huge part of my growing up years and  also the reason behind my fetish for vada pav which stays till date and even now the first thing when we are flying to India the first stop we make while driving from Mumbai to Pune is Lonavala the first place before the Mumbai pune expressway begins ,which sells excellent vada pavs and is open 24/7 and is packed with travelers no matter what time of the day it is.

Manasi was home for Thanksgiving break and we had gone to recieve her at the airport and I wanted to surprise her with something exciting , and I made these for the car ride back home. I had also packed them in a news paper( for once I did not want to think about the news paper ink) to give it that authentic feel. She got in the car and said she was hungry and I asked her to pull out the packet from the bag in the back seat , she was amused with the newspaper packaging but went ahead and squealed with hungry excitement on finding out what lay inside the drab newspaper packet.She did not waste any time in niceties and devoured her most favorite snack and gave a ," Thumbs-up" :)

I have browsed through innumerable recipes and also tried many at different occasions with my siblings but this recipe is as close as it can get  to the Vada pavs from Karjat,Mumbai and Pune :) The secret ingredient is Rice flour,it just binds well with the gram flour and lends that extra bit of crunch  to the vada.

So this one is for all the,"Mumbaikars & Puneites" let us all relive and revive the,"vada Pav" days and for those of you who have not yet tried this absolute addiction please do and I promise you will ask for more as the  saying goes," yeh dil maange more"!

Here's what you will need to make these:
Ingredients For the potato masala:

1. Potatos 2 big boiled,peeled and mashed
2.Mustard seeds: 1/2 tsp
3. Ginger paste: 1 tbsp
4. Garlic one flake chopped fine
5. cilantro chopped - 4 tbsp
6. salt acc: to taste
7. garam masala: tip of the tsp
8. turmeric: 1/4th tsp
9. deghi mirch: 1 tsp
10: Green chili 1 chopped fine
11: asfoetida: a pinch

Ingredients for the batter:

Gram Flour: 100 gms
rice flour: 15 gms roughly 3 tbsp
baking soda/soda bicarb: a pinch (too much of it will end up in vadas absorbing more oil)
Degi Mirch: 1/4 tsp
salt: acc: to taste
Asfoetida: a pinch
warm water: 1/2 cup or as needed to make the batter which is not thin or runny but more like the pancake batter.

Oil for deep frying the vadas and some separately for making the boiled potato masala


1.Take a kadai/pan and add 3 tbsp oil. 
2. when hot add asfoetida ,ginger paste,green chili and garlic along with all the dry spices.
3. Keep the mashed potato ready and add this quickly so the masala does not burn. At this stage you can turn off the flame,as the masalas get cooked in the hot oil.
4. Now mix the mashed potatoes well so that all the spices are evenly distributed.
5. when the aloo/potato masala has cooled down.take small portions of it and make lemon sized balls and keep them aside.
6. take the prepared batter and beat it well,meanwhile take the oil in the frying pan and keep it on high flame as you want the oil to be very hot.
7. once the oil has become very hot,reduce the fame to slow as you don't want the vadas to get browned quickly on the outside and runny or not cooked well on the inside.
8. take the lemon sized balls of potato masala and dip them in the gram flour batter and put them in the fryer one by one or two at a time depending on how many the pan and you can handle . Flip them over in between and fry them evenly
9. remove from the fryer and put them on a paper towel.
10. serve them with green chili and garlic and peanut powder( available in Indian grocery store)

Note:  Maintain the temperature of the oil, you can increase the flame every now and then.

Method for green chilly served the authentic way

Take long green chilis and make slits in the centre.
take a frying pan and add very little oil just about 1 tsp,and saute the green chilis in this oil for 2 minutes or till the blisters start to appear on the chilis( small white patches) sprinkle salt on these.
Turn off the gas and cover the pan quickly  so that the chilis get soft in the steam.

For the pav:
You can buy the potato buns or the authentic pavs from the Indian grocery store.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tagine Chicken With Olives & Preserved Lemons


We had gone to a friends house for dinner last to last weekend & I must admit that I had the most exotic dish from Morocco cooked in an even more exotic dish,the base for  the dish is cast iron to reatin the heat , but the lid is porcelain and is cone shaped which is essentially designed  like this to trap all the moisture and steam and gives the Tagine chicken a melt -in-the-mouth texture,very succulent and juicy. Although in Morocco where Tagine Chicken originally hails from is cooked in a ceramic or porcelain Tagine where the base is also porcelain.I looked up google to see where I could acquire my tagine from and found a very nice one online at Williams Sonoma,again all porcelain.  I went ahead and ordered it BUT decided I could not wait long enough for the Tagine to arrive :) so I went ahead and prepared tagine chicken in the cast iron french oven after all the french oven/Dutch ovens are also designed for the slowly simmered dishes. I was thrilled with the result,it tasted exactly as my friends tagine if not better;) The citric y soup with green olives and herby flavors from parsley and cilantro is such a refreshing change for the palette and is such a treat to enjoy this with couscous accompanied with the fiery spicy hot harissa. Mmm.mmmm

The preparation is very simple but the prep work has some steps involved but trust me once you have the prep work done in advance the Tagine cooking can be a breeze.Yes-It is that simple,and the best part is I left it in the dutch oven to cook and went to the basement and did my 40 minute workout without a care.....

Tagine chicken is prepared with preserved green olives & preserved lemons ,I was told by my friend that I should look for the preserved lemons online but I did not have the patience to wait and also it does not take a genius to make your own at home so I went shopping and picked up some fresh green lemons,I also got a good deal at an Indian store and picked up 12 for $ 2 Yes- I am such a sucker for deals :)

The chicken tagine is mostly served with Couscous or bread and is served with Harissa a hot,spicy sauce made with Red Chilies and a few other spices again you can look it up on Amazon or get ready to make some from scratch. I did just that and the result was incredible and worth every inch of effort that went in the preparation:)

So friends are you ready to be transported to Morocco if the answer is YES than come with me and we shall soon embark on this Moroccan culinary explosion of flavors:

Ingredients for Tagine Chicken With Olives & Preserved lemons:
Chicken Thighs: Boneless,skinless about 5-6

Fresh Parsley: fistful cleaned and chopped
Cilantro: Fistful Cleaned and chopped
Garlic: 1 tsp paste
Ginger: 1 tbsp paste 
Salt: 1tsp or to taste
cayenne Pepper: 1/2 tsp
Garam Masala: a pinch
Kesar/saffron: 4-5 strands ( A very good Spanish variety is available at Trader Joes)

To be added later:
White onion chopped fine: 1 cup
Green Olives preserved in salt water: 20-25
Preserved lemon quartered: 8 pieces ( 1 lemon)
Parsely: washed and chopped a fistful
Cilantro: washed and chopped a fistful
Olive oil: 4 tbsp
Chicken Stalk: 6 cups

Recipe for Preserved Lemons:
Lemons: 12 washed and dried 
Lemons juice: 1 cup
Kosher salt: 2 tbsp 

1. Take the lemons and either prick the whole lemon with a fork or cut it into four pieces.
2. Take a clean dry glass jar, drop the lemon pieces in it.
3. Add the salt.
4. Top it with lemon juice.
5. Shake it and let it stay in room temperature with the lid tightly shut. If possible move it to a spot in the house where there is plenty of sunlight.
It will take 4- 5 days and you will see the skin will turn a slight brown color,and will become a little soft.
6. You can now store it in the fridge.

Recipe for Harissa:
Dried Red Chilies: 6-8 seeds removed
Cumin: 1 tsp
Whole coriander: 1 tbsp
Fennel: 1tsp
Black pepper: 8-10 peppercorns
cloves: 4
Saindhav Salt or Rock salt: 1 tsp or to taste
Roasted red bell pepper: 1/2 cup
Olive oil: 4 tbsp
Lemon Juice: 2 tbsp

1.Roast all the spices on slow.
2. let them cool and grind these to a fine powder in a coffee grinder.
3. Transfer this to a food processor and add the remaining ingredients and grind them till you have a smooth sauce/chutney

Method to cook Tagine:

1. Marinate the chicken thighs with all the ingredients mentioned under marination for 1 hour.
2. Put the dutch oven on medium high heat for some time till it is hot.
3. Add the 4 tbsp olive oil.
4. When hot add the 1 cup of finely chopped onions
5. when onions are slightly golden brown add the marinated  chicken and fry on both sides for a minute or 2 on each side.
6. Add the chicken stalk.Let it come to a boil,reduce the flame to slow and cover and let it cook for 40 minutes. Forget about it if cooking in the dutch oven.
7. Remove the lid and slide in the lemons and olives and close the lid and cook again for 15 minutes.
8. When done sprinkle the chopped parsley and cilantro and serve it with couscous and harissa.

Notes: Couscous is very easy to prepare and you can follow the directions given on the packet. I have used three different brands on three occasions viz: Near Easts Pine toasted Couscous,Hodgsons Whole wheat and Scalfani.  I am happy with all,it takes exactly 2 minutes to prepare this and even less to finish it...hahahah

Friday, November 11, 2011

Shallow Fried Tilapia & Eleven.Eleven.Eleven

I accomplished Sirashasana without any help today on 11.11.11....how cool & auspicious is that :) Even though it was  for a few seconds but today is just the beginning and it can only get better & controlled with time.

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan's Fans-In-case you missed out on this piece of  news-I overheard on T.V that Aishwarya was  planning to got for a C-Section @ 11.11am on 11.11.11 but I have not been able to validate this piece of news on Google.We will soon find out if the baby did arrive on this auspicious date. I just thought it was very interesting that they even planned the time i.e if they did

For now I have to share this awfully simple but super tasty Tilapia recipe,marinated in spices and dipped in egg and than coated with panko bread crumbs and than shallow fried till it is a little charred and crisp on the outside and soft and flaky inside...mmmm.mmmm

My aunt use to make this so often and she would coat this with poppy seeds after dipping it in the egg instead of bread crumbs.It use to make it even crispier and gave it a nice nutty texture.I was running out of poppy seeds.....
Also I remember she made this with pompfret and she choose to deep fry.
We enjoyed the fish with curd rice,you can serve it as a side or have it just the way we did,I loved the combination and it made a wholesome and yet light-on -the stomach dinner:)

here is what you will need to prepare this:
Tilapia fillet: 6
egg beaten: 1
coriander powder: 1tsp
salt: 1/4 tsp
Turmeric: 1/4 tsp
Lemon Juice: 2 tsp
paprika: 1tsp
Garam Masala: 2 pinches
Poppy seeds or bread crumbs to coat
Oil to shallow fry: 4 tbsp or more depending on the pan(less if using non-stick)
Mango powder: 1tsp

1.Take all the spices along with salt and rub them nicely on the fillets. Let them rest for 30 minutes.

2.Take a cast iron skillet and let it heat. Now add oil and wait for it to become hot.

3.Take the beaten egg in a bowl and dip the marinated fish in it .

4. spread the poppy seeds or bread crumbs on a separate flat plate.

5. take the fish dipped in egg and put this on the plate with poppy seeds/bread crumbs and turn it on both the sides till it is coated with bread crumbs/poppy seeds .

6. slide it into the cast iron skillet,you can put all the pieces together if the skillet fits all in one go,otherwise do them as per the space.Just make sure they do not overlap.

7. let it fry for 3-4 minutes on one side and then turn and do the other side.

8. The fish is ready when it turns crispy on the outside and is white and flaky on the inside.

8.serve it on a plate and put some lime juice and serve it with onion rings and green chutney if serving as an appetizer.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Acchari Broccoli/ Broccoli in pickle masala

I know everyone at some point will find mango pickle masala swimming in a pool of left over pickle oil from the mango pickle,and I have never ever run short of ideas to make good use of it and create some very yummy ,"masaledaar " treats. Thanks to mom dear who I had always watched while she would create magic with left over stuff :)
I have used this oil & masala to make mathhis, then I make paranthas with this,sometimes I will add this to the acchari Ghosht or the achhari paneer for that extra kick. So you know this masala is bursting with versatility,just let your culinary imagination go rampant and you will find this masala can come in handy to liven up even the most insipid dishes with robust flavors,oh yes-even the left over daals can be seasoned with this oil and masala when consumed the next day.

For now I have come up with this very scrummy appetizer,which you will love as an evening snack,or serve it as hor'duerves or even serve as a side dish.Whatever way you decide to eat this,you can take my word-You will make this over and over again,it is quick and packed with all the nutrients and yummy to the core.

Here is what you will need to make this:

Broccoli Flowerettes: 15-20
Masala without oil  left over from the mango pickle: 2 tsp
Hung yogurt: 2 tbsp
Turmeric: 1/4 tsp
kalonji: 1tsp
Lime Juice: 1 tsp
salt: to your taste or Chaat masala if you want to spike it up further
Oil for spraying on the foil

Wash the broccoli flowerettes and dry them on a paper towel.
Take all the ingredients except broccoli and mix these well.
Now add the broccoli flowerettes to this and marinate for 15- 20 minutes.

Choose the broil option on your oven and heat it to 400 d Fahrenheit. remove the tray and line it with aluminium foil and spray some oil on it,now spread the flowerettes on this foil and put this on the rack below the broil flame for 7-10 minutes (turn it once) and Viola- Acchari broccoli is ready to enjoy :)!!!

We enjoyed this with Caesar salad and some ciabatta  for lunch and it tasted great !!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Bread Dahi Bhalla and A Very Happy & Joyous Diwali !!!

The new bloggers interface is so dandy and impressive and many friends have commented on how good it looks,but there are also many who are having trouble finding the followers tab :( Come to think of it-I have still  not figured it out myself,so to cut a long story short I will switch back to the earlier interface.

My Indian blogger friends are posting sweets and desserts which is the norm around this time of the year,with Diwali just two days  from now. I have enjoyed and drooled over all the yummy treats and honestly there is never enough of sweets,we are all mostly born with a sweet tooth,or it could be the serotonin a chemical in the brain which induces a happy and content state. Eating sugar increases the absorption of tryptophan which is used by our body to make serotonin. Whatever the reason- Sweets  have the power to uplift the grumpiest of moods too :)!!!

That said,let us not forget the  response of, "no I cannot have any more" when someone offers us more of  sweets on those Diwali days when all that  we have done is  sleep,walk and talk sweets. I have always felt like having something savory after all those sweets. This Bread Dhai Bhalla is so light on the stomach and instantly satiates your desire for something,"chatpata"  It is also very simple to make and as you will see there is no frying and no oil used to make this excellent savory dish. So it is a healthier version of the regular dahi bhalla fair,without compromising the chatpata quotient.

My sisters daughter in law made this for breakfast along with kutchi Dhabheli,and they just flew away  from the table in no time,but more kept coming till we were all ready to explode and could eat no more.Mmm...mmmm that was some good breakfast !!!!

This is what you will need to make this super tasty,melt in your mouth bread dahi bhalla :


White bread slices: 8 
Beaten curd: 2 cups
Sugar: 5-6 tsp 
Sounth: 4 tsp (tamarind & jaggery Chutney with garam masala)
Bhuna Jeera: 1 tsp
Chaat Masala: 1/4 tsp
Patla sev: 1/4 cup

Mint cilantro chutney

Take the bread slice and cut this in round shapes with a sharp object. I used a metal measuring cup 
You can make two rounds with one slice of bread,I have used a multigrain bread here, but these dahi bhallas taste best with white bread.

Arrange 8 circles on a plate which you will use to serve.

Mix the sugar with the curd and beat it well, till it is smooth and creamy. 

Now pour half the curd on these circles,when they are covered well in the curd. Take the remaining 8 circles and pile one on each circle that is covered in curd.

Now pour the remaining curd on these rounds. They should be covered well in the curd.

When you are  ready to serve,sprinkle some bhuna hua jeera(roasted & ground cumin) along with chaat masala and some red pepper. Now pour the sounth and sprinkle some patla sev. 

For those of you who like it spicy,you can choose to add the coriander & mint chutney. 

These measurements are approximate and altering them to your taste is perfectly alright & a matter of personal choice.

8 bread slices will yield 4 plates with two bread dahi bhallas on each plate. You can take more bread and increase the quantity for curd and other ingredients.

Enjoy this super quick sweet& savory bread Dahi Bhallas & wish I everyone a very Happy & joyous Diwali :)!!!!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Kavita's Kitchen Turns ONE Today & Kung Pao Chicken

This is my big day,I just turned 1 and very fun
you will be surprised with the momentum
I sometimes speed & blow
then for a while I go slow
I bake and I shake to make things great
cookies and breads,sweets & some tweaks
I will do everything till I have enough for Keeps
Exotic & luscious,yummy and nice,
I continue to roll the dice
with renewed energy and recipes under my belt
wait till my culinary delights let your heart melt

Okay I was rambling poetry in case you were wondering....

It makes me happy and gives me immense sense of accomplishment for making  it this far. Thanks to each one of my blogger friends who have made this journey fun and worthwhile. I am happy I have all my recipes in one place and no more random recipe papers sticking out of recipe books*smiles*I want to particularly thank my very first follower-Sujatha of http://gourmetskitchenette.blogspot.com/
who was kind enough to have noticed my blog and even kinder to become a follower after her first comment on my post. On that note I want to mention that I am still open to more followers;) So please feel free to follow my blog and I promise- I will follow you back:)

So here is my post on Kung Pao chicken,I love kung pao chicken and it was apt to write a post on my favorite dish to celebrate this day,here goes:


Chicken breast: 1 pound cleaned and pat dried cut into 1 inch pieces
Soy Sauce: 2 tbsp ( I used Kikkoman less sodium soy sauce)
Corn starch: 2 tbsp dissolved in 2 tbsp water
White wine: 2 tbsp
Sesame oil: 2 tbsp
Chilli paste: 2 tbsp (optional and depends on your tolerance for spice)
Distilled White Vinegar: 1 tsp
Brown sugar: 2 tsp
Garlic: 1 tbsp chopped
Water Chestnuts: 1 small can about 20 in number
Celery: 2 stems/stalks cut into 1 inch pieces
Peanuts: 4 tbsp roasted and without the skin
Dried whole red chilies: 5-6
Salt: to your taste

Note: I have used ready made chilly paste with holy basil leaves,this paste lends this kung pao  dish a very authentic taste,I bought this in an oriental store. It is a product of Thailand. If you happen to find this and use it in this dish then please omit the garlic and salt. You can also use green onions in place of celery or along with celery. I have not used green onions here.

Method For Marinate:

1. Take 1 tbsp wine,half of corn starch,1 tbsp sesame oil and 1 tbsp of soy sauce and mix these well in a bowl. 

2. add the chicken pieces to this marinate and leave it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.


1. heat a  wok and add 1 tbsp oil to this.
2. when hot add the whole red chilies.
3.Now add the chicken pieces and saute them in oil for 2 -3 minutes on medium flame.
4. take the remaining wine,corn starch,soy,2 tsp brown sugar and mix these.
5. Add this to the wok along with the chicken pieces.
6. Now add the chilli paste and mix this well with the rest of the ingredients in the wok.
7. Add the chestnuts and celery and 1 tsp distilled white vinegar.
8.Add the peanuts  when the chicken and celery & chest nuts are done. Chestnuts and celery tastes good when it has a crunch .
9. Total cooking time is approximately 7- 10 minutes 

Enjoy this with fried rice or plain white rice or sticky rice. 

Bon Appetit :)!!!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Tilapia in Basil & fennel

 Today my morning yoga  routine was a let down.The abductor muscle is acting up again and the groin hurts every time I try to get into the asanas without keeping my knees soft. I am still struggling with bhujapidasana and it is funny because the harder I try the harder I fall on my bum...lol BUT I keep falling and keep trying.Guruji says:" practice & it will come to you" I am already looking forward to tomorrow's practice , everyday the body tells you how it feels and it is wonderful to listen to it and pay heed to what are its limitations and then gradually with time and practice free the body of its limitations.

Okay so we have some good weather here on the east coast for this weekend after the short onset of cold temperatures,  we are looking forward to a warmer weekend starting today.The leaves have started to fall  off on this tree which is on my deck and  I was reading  trees can be tricked into  loosing leaves by extreme environmental conditions it is sad because I see fallen leaves everywhere and no change in the color so far,I was told  the fall colors this year will be delayed,I only hope they are still as pretty as they always have been in the past and all the storms and adverse weather conditions have hopefully not destroyed that phenomena.

So to celebrate the warm temperatures today and to get in the weekend mood let us all enjoy this fish .This is the very first time I have cooked with fennel.It has a nice licorice y taste and this sweetness when combined with garlic, tomatoes,celery and basil gives a very nice sweet and herby taste with a garlicky punch. I salted the fish with some kosher salt and sprinkled some dried basil and parsley and left it for 20 minutes while I prepared the sauce.You can also get out on the deck and fire your grills today and grill this fish or bake it .Do what your heart says.....

Here goes the recipe and the ingredients you will need:

Tilapia Fish: 2 pounds
Black pepper: crushed a pinch
Salt: to your taste
Dried basil:1/4 tsp
Olive oil: 1 tbsp to rub all over the fish along with the salt and dried basil

Note: You can mix oil ,salt ,pepper and basil in a small bowl and use your hands to rub this on the fish.

Celery: 2 stems/stalks or ribs diced 
Tomato: 2 no's diced into small pieces
Garlic: 3 cloves chopped fine
Basil fresh: chopped 1 tbsp
Parsely: dried 1/4 tsp
fennel Bulb: 1 about 10-12 ounces ( discard the rough outer leaves)
halved bulb thinly sliced
Olive oil: 1 tbsp


1. take the fish and rub salt,oil and black pepper all over on both sides and then sprinkle dried basil.
2. leave it for 20 minutes or more if time permits
3: heat the oven at 350 d Fahrenheit and bake on the lowest rack in a baking tray (you can line the baking tray with the aluminium foil)
4. If grilling/broiling heat the oven at 400 d Fahrenheit (gas oven) and grill for roughly 12-15 minutes or till the fish is flaky and turned completely white on the inside.

Sauce method:
1. Take a pan and heat 1tbsp oil
2. add the chopped garlic and wait till it turns brown on the edges( roughly 1 minute)
3. Now add the diced tomatoes along with salt
4. Cook the tomatoes for 4-5 minutes and mash them with the back of the spoon
5. Add chopped or diced celery and thinly sliced fennel.
6. add the chopped basil now and also add the dried parsley at this stage.
7. If you like your veggies with a little crunch cook this for further 3-4 minutes without covering the pan. If you want the celery and fennel to be soft ,cover the pan .


Take the serving plate and dish out two spoonfuls of the sauce on the plate and neatly arrange the grilled fish on the plate with some spring leaves.Bon appetit !!!