Sunday, November 22, 2015

Baked Nippat

Nippat is a traditional, crunchy fried tea time snack that is made in different ways by Mangaloreans, and those living in the old Mysore province. We add roasted urad daal flour for better taste and flavour. I had made traditional Nippat some months ago, and it came out pretty good. 

After tasting Maiya's Baked Nippat and Baked Maddur Vada, I had tried making Baked Maddur Vada, but not tried making baked nippat. Today, I was planning to bake some crispy snack and suddenly I thought, why not try my luck with baked nippat. I adapted my fried nippat formula and made some changes to suit the baking process. Then the end result was overwhelmingly fantastic, and the nippats were baked to perfection! They just crumble and melt in the mouth, releasing vivid taste and aroma as you carry the crumbled nippat on your tongue and soak it in your drooling mouth!

Make these for the cold winter days and pamper your kids as well as seniors at home. Very elderly seniors may conveniently forget to wear their dentures and happily gorge on these. The recipe given here yields about 55-60 2 mm thick nippats when stamped with standard 2" cookie cutter. I weighed each nippat and that was around 8 grams each, totalling approximately 450 grams.

Refined Flour(Maida) - 1 Cup
Rice Flour - 1/2 Cup
Hoorna(Roasted Urad Daal Flour) - 1/4 Cup
Salt - 3/4 Tsp(or to taste)
Castor Sugar - 2 Tsp
Baking Soda - 1/2 Tsp
Red Chilli Powder - 1 Tsp
Roasted Peanuts - 2 Tbsp
Roasted Gram Daal(Hurikadle/Putaani) - 2 Tbsp
Black Sesame Seeds - 2 Tsp
Green Chillies - 3-4 finely Chopped
Curry Leaves - 2 Sprigs finely chopped
Melted Ghee/Butter - 4 Tbsp (60 Ml)
Asafotoeda - A pinch dissolved in 1 Tbsp water or 1/2 Tsp powder
Plain Yogurt or water - About 1/4 Cup

Lightly pound roasted peanuts in a mortar and blow away the peel.
Lightly pound roasted gram daal.
Mix all the flours, salt, castor sugar, baking soda, chilli powder.
Add the chopped and pounded ingredients.
Mix well and then add melted ghee/butter.
Rub with your fingers to form crumbs, then add asafotoeda, moisten with water or yogurt one tablespoon at a time, knead into a stiff but malleable dough.
Shape into a ball, cover and keep for 15 minutes(in a fridge, if the room temperature is too warm).
Preheat oven at 180° C for 10 minutes.
Take 1/2 portion of the dough, grease the kitchen work area with little ghee, place the dough and roll with the rolling pin into a 2 mm thick sheet.
stamp with a cookie cutter into 20 cookies.
Place the cookies on the baking tray lined with butter paper and prick with a fork to make tiny holes on each one of them.
Bake at 180° C for 12 minutes.
Remove from oven and allow to cool on a rack.
Repeat the process with remaining dough. Last remaining little dough can be rolled into small lemon size balls, flattened with the palm and then placed on the baking tray.
Store in an air tight jar and enjoy them with a cup of hot coffee or tea.
Roasted Urad Daal Flour:
Dry Roast 1/4 cup urad daal on medium heat until the daal turns off white and nice roasted aroma emanates.
Allow to cool and then powder in a mill as finely as possible.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Whole Wheat Flour Paav Bun

November 17: Today is Homemade Bread Day
Bread has been around for thousands of years. Nowadays, people just don't have time to bake bread. The origin of this day is shrouded in mystery. but its purpose and benefits are obvious. The invention of the bread maker has taken a lot of the effort out of baking. There is no reason why everyone should not enjoy home made bread. It is healthier, higher in fibre content, and lower in salt and additives. Consider investing in a bread maker or borrow from a friend and get to baking home made bread today.

Your nose, your taste buds, and your whole family will be glad you did!

(Info source: Konchadi Vasanth Pai)
I suddenly realised about Homemade Bread Day after reading the above post by my senior friend Konchadi Vasanth Pai, in a social network group. Hence I hurriedly compiled this recipe article, and here I go!

Paav Bun or Pav Bread is a staple snack for Maharastrians and those living in Konkan belt. It is mostly served with the world famous Mumbai street snacks like Paav Bhaaji, Vada Paav or Maska Paav. In Konkan and Goa, it is served as Misal Paav, a mixed sprouts curry with paav bread. They call paav bread as ladi paav, and the bread is baked in sheets which have tiny buns sticking to one another, but can easily be separated.

This is a tasty traditionally made bread with simple methods. It is probably named as 'Paav' because of its size, one quarter of a pound of bread. We down South were not exposed to Paav bread until some of the North Indians set up chaat centers serving paav bhaaji. I first tasted paav bhaaji in Mumbai in 1975 at Lakhan's Paav Bhaaji and Kaala Khatta street food carts at the Five Gardens, Matunga. I used to go there daily with my friends Ananth, Vishwanath, Ajit, Anil, Panduranga and Ravi after dark and relish paav bhaaji loaded with butter, and wash it down with kaala khatta. Later when I visited Mumbai in 1978, I stayed at my brother's house in Mulund, but I used to go near Mukund market area and taste excellent paav bhaaji. At a bachelors' hostel in Bombay Central where my friend Alwyn Vaz stayed, they served paav bread with pork curry. I was wondering then, why Mangalore has not introduced that as yet! Very soon, maybe in 1980 Mangalore also started relishing paav bhaaji, thanks to a few street cart fellows and also to Hanuman Sweets Stall. By late Eighties Paav bhaaji was a favourite with Mangaloreans and we used to buy paav bread from Hanuman or from Nilgiri's in Balmatta.

Today we have every nook and corner of India serving paav bhaaji and vada paav. Yet, we get mostly paav bun that is very soft and spongy, not exactly like they make in Mumbai. We do get good paav bun at Nilgiri's or at a few local bakeries, but I always wanted to make this bread at home, ever since we started baking some breads. My experiment with paav bread from the dough made for Khaliat Al Nahal, the honeycomb bread proved 80% success, but that day we had power outage, and the bread didn't raise properly. Looking for a good recipe, I came across this blog Yummy Tummy, where the blogger Aarathi mentions that whole wheat flour is mixed with refined flour to make tasty paav bread. I imagined how stiff the bread maybe, and how close the texture maybe to that of the original Mumbai Ladi Paav.

In the deal to check if the recipe proves perfect, I didn't take step by step pictures, and I changed the volume of couple of ingredients to suit our taste. I also added some sugar to milk wash to get a 'kadak' or stiff and firm upper crust with a darker shade. This recipe yields about 12 medium size paav buns and 9 big ones. For step by step recipe you can browse following this link for the time being, and at a later date I shall update the recipe with good pictures.

You may buy paav bread from store easily and eat it in a choice of snack combo, but I guarantee you, once you start baking fresh paav bread at home, you won't compromise with ready made ones. The nice aroma that fills the kitchen while baking them is so appetising, you may eat one or two more than the ready made ones. Besides, whole wheat flour adds to taste, making this  a five star healthy bread with high fiber in your daily diet!
Whole Wheat Flour - 1.5 Cups
Refined Flour(Maida) - 1 Cup + 2 Tablespoons
Salt - 1 Tsp(or according to taste)
Sugar - 2 Tablespoons + 1/4 Tsp for milk wash
Active Dry Yeast - 2 Tsp
Warm Milk - 3/4 Cup + 1 Tablespoon for milk wash
Warm Water - 1/2 Cup
Refined Vegetable Oil - 2 Tablespoons

In a saucepan,add milk, heat until it is luke warm.
Alternately you can warm it in a microwave for 10-15 seconds.
Take the warm milk in a glass tumbler or a non metallic bowl, mix in sugar and yeast, cover and keep for 10 minutes to proof/activate.
Mix 1.5 cup wheat flour, 1 cup maida and salt in a mixing bowl.
Make a pit in the center and pour the yeast milk mixture.
Knead well adding the oil, and water little by little, for 10 minutes, or until you get a sticky but firm dough.
Grease the bowl, apply oil on the dough ball, cover with kitchen cloth and allow to raise for one hour at warm room temperature.
The dough will have doubled by then.
Sprinkle little flour over the dough, punch it to release the air and knead again adding little flour for 5 minutes.
Roll the dough into a thick rope or log, cut into 9 or 12 equal parts, shape each part into a ball, dust the balls lightly with flour and place them close as possible to one another, in a 8x8 baking tray.
if you can't accommodate all the dough balls in one medium size tray, you can place them in two small trays.
Cover the dough balls and keep for another hour or slightly more, when they double up again, stick to one another and fit snugly in the tray.
Mix 1 tablespoon warm milk with 1/4 Tsp sugar, brush this milk over the top of the dough balls.
Preheat oven at 180°C for 10 minutes, and place the tray on wire rack, bake for 25-35 minutes or until the bread gets brown on top.
Remove from oven, allow to cool down for 10-15 minutes, detach the bread from the baking tray using a butter knife and serve.
Apply little butter and warm them up for a minute in the microwave, serve them as Paav Bhaaji, Vada Paav or Maska Paav.
I relished them with Egg Burji for brunch.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Kesar Doodh Peda

Doodh Peda is the most popular and basic milk based Indian Sweet. In Maisuru it is categorised under 'Bombay Sweets' as against Bengali Sweets, which are mostly made with cottage cheese or paneer. Doodh peda also known as Milk Fudge, and is a delicious sweet meat distributed by people to celebrate festive occasions. Milk Khova/khoya/mawa is mixed with calculated amount of sugar and flavouring ingredients to make these. In Hindi Doodh is milk, and Peda means small ball. 

I first tasted doodh peda in the Sixties, when Taj Mahal and Komal's in Mangalore made them with pure milk khova, adding Kesar or saffron. The aroma of the pedas and the taste lingered on for a long time after we relished them those days. The softness and the grainy texture of khova still comes to my mind as I reminisce over them! Dharwad Peda or Mathura Peda is slightly different, dark brown in colour and is rolled in castor sugar. Kesar Doodh Peda is my most favourite, and I have also tasted very good Kesar Peda at Bombay Tiffanys in Maisuru, Kanthi Sweets, Chandra Sweets and Arya Bhavan in Bengaluru and Agarwal Bhawan in Chennai. 

At present, in Mangaluru we have Shreya's Sweets which makes good Kesar Peda, but it is not made with pure khova. I was surprised to know that some sweet makers add milk powder to make doodh peda! I was working for a Bank in Chickpet Bengaluru in the Eighties, where Bombay Anand Bhawan was a customer. I saw their stock statement which mentioned milk powder, and I asked the messenger from Bombay Anand Bhawan, why milk powder is used. He told me that it is added to make doodh peda. Then I realised why some of the whitish looking pedas taste different. Doodh peda made with pure khova looks a bit darker than pure white or light cream colour ones with added milk powder. The one with milk powder tastes bad, and leaves a bad feeling on the tongue after eating it.

Diwali was here, and I wanted to give return gift of sweets to a friend. I had Nandini brand khova in stock. Nandini brand is also inexpensive and pretty good. So I decided to make Kesar Doodh Peda at home. Browsing through various recipes, I found out that most of them go the easier way of combining condensed milk and milk powder to make pedas. Few recipes showed how to make milk khova by condensing milk and then make peda. I used my own method, and made these fantastic delicious kesar doodh pedas. Adding little liquid glucose to sugar syrup makes them stay softer, as liquid glucose is a stabiliser that prevents sugar from getting crystallised. If you get khova easily, you can also make this faster than following the elaborate method of condensing milk! If you don't get ready made khova, you can boil 4 liters of milk in a thick bottom kadai, keep stirring it for an hour or more on low flame and make khova. After all, freshly made khova makes the doodh pedas more delicious!
Milk Khova/Mawa - 400 Gms crumbled
Sugar - 200 Gms(Adjust according to taste)
Liquid Glucose - 2 Tsp
Ghee - 2 Tsp
Kesar(Saffron) - A generous pinch soaked in 2 tbsp hot milk
Pistachios - 25-30 slivered length wise
Cardamom Powder(Optional) - 1/2 Tsp

Heat 1/4 cup water in a thick bottom pan, add sugar.
As sugar starts to boil and forms a thin syrup, mix in liquid glucose, combine well.
Lower the heat and add crumbled khova, once it melts, add ghee.
Keep mixing  on low heat for 10-15 minutes, or until the mass starts to get thick.
Add saffron soaked in milk and mix well.
Take care not to burn the ingredients.
Keep mixing, and when the mass is almost dry, transfer it to a platter, spread it evenly and allow to cool down completely.
Knead the mass well and male gooseberry size balls, make a depression in the center with your finger, flatten them slightly between your palms, or just make a ring pattern using the potato peeler like I did.
You can also use a floral mould to make lovely patterns on them.
Stick a piece of slivered pistachio on center top of each one of them, arrange on a plate and enjoy delicious Kesar Doodh Pedas.
You can store them in an airtight jar and keep them fresh for 3-4 days, then transfer them into a fridge.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Diwali Greetings

"Wishing all our followers A Very Happy Festival of Lights!"
Pic source:

Friday, November 06, 2015

Squid/Kalamari/Bondaas Butter Garlic(Chinese)

Kalamari or Squid in India used to be a seafood item, mostly thrown as manure in estates and gardens until the late Eighties, when Chinese restaurants started making delicacies with it. At least in Mangaluru cuiity, I have never come across squid preparations at local restaurants until 1989. We friends used to go for fishing at the breakwaters near New Mangalore Port in the mid Eighties, when the fishing boat guys used to give us squid and some small fish free which we used as bait to catch fish. Locally they call it 'Bondaas'.

After 1989, I came across Bondaas Chilli and Manchurian at local restaurants, but I didn't like it much because it tasted rubbery and insipid. Then in 1991, as I was sitting at the counter of Knight Rider Pub talking to Alan the manager cum kitchen in charge about innovative snacks that he can introduce in the pub, Alan asked me if I'd like to taste Bondaas. I thought he was talking about Bonda, the deep fried snack like batata vada, and asked him if he makes vegetable bondas or potato bondas! He smiled aloud and said, he meant Squid! I ordered one plate of Bondaas Chilli and he prepared it himself, it turned out fantatic, and I fell for it immediately!

Then I started tasting squid at various restaurants, Chinese as well as local ones making Bondaas Sukkha, Masala Fried and Ghee Roast. Squid became a favourite with myself, as well as Meena. yet, we were choosy about the way they cooked, because over cooking or under cooking spoils the taste and texture of squid. Also, over grown squid needs some pressure cookign before using in dishes due to the thick coconut kernel like consistency. I think the name Bondaas was derived from Bonda(tender Coconut), because tender coconut malai or kernel resembles squid to a great extent.

Squid butter garlic is one Chinese dish that is very delicious and has lovely aroma that makes you eat more and more. It is rather bland, but you can make it spicy by adding some green chillies and an extra dash of pepper while making it. Most of the restaurants cut squid into rings but I like them in rectangular strips, scored on one side, which when fried, curl up and form a nice checkered pattern. Scoring also helps in marinating them properly. 

Scoring means making fine streaks or gashes on the inside portion of squid in a crisscross pattern. You can design checks or diamonds as you wish. It takes very little knack to score them properly, if you have a sharp knife, as shown in the pictures. if you are not confident or patient enough, just slice them into 1/4 inch thick rings.

Make this lovely dish and serve it as a starter, or as side dish with noodles or fried rice. I am sure, everyone at home will like this. Kids will jump with joy, for there are no spicy sauces, no extra pungent agents to cause heartburn or acidity. Most of the ingredients in this are natural, pure and healthy.
Squid(Kalamari/Bondaas) - 500 Gms
Garlic Cloves - 8-10 chopped
Green Chillies(Optional) - 2 finely Chopped
Spring onion bulbs - 4-6 chopped
Salt - 1/2 Tsp or to taste
White Pepper Powder - 2 Tsp(Add little more if you are not adding green chilli)
Sugar - 1/2 Tsp
Corn Flour - 2 Tbsp
Refined Flour - 1 Tbsp
Chicken/Vegetable Stock - 250 Ml(1 Maggi cube boiled in 250 ml water for 2-3 minutes)
Dark Soy Sauce - 1 Tsp
Diluted White Vinegar - 2 Tsp(Add 1/2 Tsp vinegar to sauce if you are not using lemon juice)
Lemon Juice(Optional) - 1 Tsp
Refined Oil - 2 Tsp + for deep frying
Butter - 2 Tbsp
Spring Onion Shoot - 2 Sprigs chopped

Clean wash and pat dry the squid.
With a very sharp knife, cut them open and make crisscross scores(Parallel gashes) only on the inside surface, taking care not to cut through them.
After you complete scoring, cut them into 2" long and 1 " wide rectangular strips.
Marinate the squid pieces with salt, 1 Tsp white pepper powder and vinegar for 1 hour.
Mix in 1 tbsp corn flour and 1 tbsp refined flour to coat the squid pieces.
Heat sufficient oil in a deep frying pan until it starts fuming and then maintain medium or small flame.
Fry as many squid pieces as the oil can hold at a time, for 3-5 minutes or until they turn crisp and golden.
Drain and keep them in the serving bowl.
Heat 2 Tsp oil in a shallow pan.
Mix remaining 1 Tbsp corn flour in little water to make a thin paste.
Stir fry chopped green chillies along with chopped garlic and spring onion bulb on high flame.
Add a pinch of salt, 1 tsp white pepper, sugar, soy sauce, then pour in the stock.
Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes.
Mix in the corn starch paste and allow the sauce to get thick and transparent.
Now add lemon juice(or vinegar), butter and if necessary little water, allow to sizzle for 1 minute.
The sauce should be as thick as sweet corn soup.
To serve with fried rice or noodles, pour the sauce over the fried squid.
To serve as a starter dish, drop the fried squid into the prepared sauce and allow the sauce to coat the pieces and make them semi dry. 
Garnish with chopped spring onion shoot and serve hot.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Bhindi Pakora/Croquette

The year was 1989, I was at Temple Square Mangaluru, celebrating the annual Okuli following the Car Festival, rejoicing with few friends. My Bank mate and cousin Kudpi Ganesh Shenoy offered me some fried snack which he got from a nearby stall. They looked like nuggets but he said it is 'Bhindi Bajia/Bhenda Bajo/Pakora', a kind of fritters made with chopped Okra and gram flour. I popped couple of them into my mouth and started chewing. I went on chewing them for about 5 minutes, but could not gulp them! I also felt terribly thirsty, and I ran to nearby Soda shop and guzzled down a cold soda to push the stuff down my throat. Then I told my cousin, "I can not forget your favour man! Henceforth I should avoid eating Bhindi Bajia!" He smiled and said they are made like that, with overgrown bhindi. I was shocked to know that, for it was the first time I tasted them in my life, and they were tough and fibrous!

Later, I started visiting Balli's Podi shop where I found better Bhindi Pakoras made with tender okras. I also found very good pakoras at Kusum Caterers' Podi joint in Lower Car Street. I developed a liking for them, and started buying them whenever I visited car Street.

I have been thinking about making Bhindi Pakoras at home the way they make it in car Street, but somehow that plan didn't materialise. The other day Meena had made Bhindi Upkari for dinner, and I asked her if we have some left over bhindi. She said yes, but she had a doubt whether they suffice my requirement in making pakoras. I too found the quantity of bhindi insufficient. Then an idea struck me, and I took out the Bok Choy or Chinese Cabbage and a piece of carrot resting in the fridge. I also took last remaining sprigs of the onion shoot left over from making noodles and Butter Garlic Squid last week. Adding them all together, mixing in some masalas, chillies and coriander leaves, I mixed in gram flour and rice flour to make a stiff dough, which I shaped like croquettes instead of nuggets and deep fried to get an awesome starter snack. 

Here is that fantastic snack which tastes almost like seekh kebabs and has lots of flavours. They turn out soft inside and crisp outside, easy to bite into. Not at all chewy like the ones I had on that Okuli day in 1989, I guarantee you! You can serve them with sweet mint chutney or with ketchup if you are having them with cocktails, mocktails, or as a tea time snack. They also taste good when served as a side dish with rice and daalithove. 
Tender Okra(Bhindi) - 1 cup finely chopped
Bok Choy/Cauliflower/Cabbage/Palak leaf - 1 Cup finely chopped
Coriander leaves - 1/2 Cup, finely chopped
Spring Onion Greens(Optional) - 1/4 Cup, finely chopped
Carrot - Grated or finely chopped, a handful
Green Chillies - 3 finely chopped
Ginger - 1/2 Inch finely minced(or ginger paste 1/2 Tsp)
Salt - 1/2 Tsp(or to taste)
Gram Flour(Besan) - 1/2 Cup
Rice Flour - 2 Tbsp
Red Hot Chilli Powder - 1/2 Tsp
Turmeric Powder - 1/8 Tsp
Coriander Powder - 2 Tsp
Cumin Powder - 1/2 Tsp
Chaat Masala - 1 Tsp
Oil - For deep frying

Heat oil in a deep frying pan until it starts to fume.
Simmer and keep the flame on.
Keep a bowl of water ready.
Take all the chopped veggies in a mixing bowl.
Add the powders and a tablespoon of hot oil.
Mix well, sprinkle two to three tablespoon of water and make a stiff but sticky dough.
Dip your fingers in the bowl of water, take lemon size dough and make a ball.
Shape the ball into a 2" long croquette.
Make 16-18 such croquettes and deep fry 4-5 at a time in hot oil on low flame for 5 minutes or until they turn golden brown and crisp on all sides.
Drain on kitchen paper and serve. 

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