Gulgula

Gulgula

Gulgula

Gulgula is one of those rare sweet recipes which can be prepared in a jiffy. It is a deep fried, sweet snack which is very popular in north India. And as some of you may have already guessed, the concept is very similar to fried donuts :)

And now for the surprise ingredient. It’s not made from maida, which is used in most sweet and savoury snacks.And it’s not made from besan, the mother flour for all pakoda dishes. It’s core ingredient is Atta (whole wheat flour), the other Holy Grail of all Indian Flours :) . And since Atta is good for health, Gulgulas make for a very guiltless dessert :) .

To prepare gulgulas, one needs to first prepare the batter. The batter is made from atta(1 cup), sugar(1 cup), saunf, water, curd(1 tbsp), oil(1 tbsp), fruit salt(a pinch). The consistency of the batter should be thick enough(yet soft enough) to very slowly drip away from a spoon. Traditionally, Gulgulas are round in shape, but getting the perfect round gulgulas comes only with practise. To deep fry the Gulgulas, pour the batter from a spoon into the oil. As the batter slowly drips from the spoon and lands on the hot oil, it will form a rough round shape.Fry for around 5 minutes or until dark golden brown.

Gulgulas is one of those sweets which taste better when homemade. And if you are a person with a sweet tooth, then this is a must try dish. Trust me, Gulgulas, when prepared correctly, are unputdownable :)

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Aloo Bonda

Aloo Bonda

Aloo Bonda

Potatoes are very popular in the erstwhile state of Bihar in India, where I come from.Bihar is in fact one of the largest cultivators of potato in India. Hence in Bihari cuisine, potatoes form an integral part of a large number of dishes, almost as integral as onion is to Indian cooking.And one such dish is Aloo Chop, otherwise known as Aloo Bonda.

Aloo Bonda is a very popular snack and street food, especially in north India. When I was small, Aloo Bonda and Samosas used to be our favourite snacking items for the evenings, which we would purchase from the kinara shop.As kids, we simply used to love it! And my fascination with this dish continues even now :)

Well the recipe for Aloo Bonda is very simple. There are two components to the dish; the potato stuffing and the batter used for the coating. For the stuffing, boil potatoes in a pressure cooker for 15 minutes, then peel and mash them. Now take tiny amount of oil in a pan, fry some chopped onions and green chillies, add some coarsely crushed peanuts, and finally mix in the mashed potatoes. Add salt to taste and a pinch of turmeric powder (for yellow colour). Fry this for 5 minutes, allow to cool, and then shape into golf-sized balls. Next prepare the batter with 1 cup of besan, 1 tbsp of rice flour, a pinch of fruit salt, salt to taste, and any choice of powdered Indian spices. The batter should be thick enough to form a uniform coating around the potato balls. Finally dip the potato balls into the batter and then deep fry them for 3 minutes.Yummy Aloo Bonda is ready to serve!

I know people love to have competitions over gulab jamuns :) . I am ready to have one over Aloo Bonda ;)

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Bread Pakoda

Bread Pakoda

Bread Pakoda

Pakodas is one of those versatile Indian snacks which can be made from probably anything under the sun, including your regular sandwich bread. Pakodas with tea is an evergreen snacking item prepared in households as well as sold by street vendors.In fact, Pakodas would probably rank next after panipuri and chaat, in the popularity ratings for Indian street food.

So this brings me to the dish, Bread Pakoda. Bread Pakoda can be prepared in more than one way. The simpler way is what you can see in the picture above. Bread triangles are simply dipped into the pakoda batter and deep fried. In another variation, bread is used in sandwich form with a stuffing of mashed potato (the stuffing is upto your imagination), and is then dipped into the pakoda batter and deep fried. And of course, the bread can be cut into any possible shape.

The key to the flavour is the composition of the batter. In my recipe, I have used 1 cup of besan, 1 tbsp of rice flour (for crispness) and 1 tsp of fruit salt (for fluffiness). The batter can be seasoned with any of the regular Indian spices( chilli powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder, cumin powder etc. ) and salt to taste.I have added chopped coriander leaves for extra flavour and colour. The consistency of the batter is important to ensure even coating around the bread. Also the oil should be neither at very high temperature (uneven cooking) nor at too low temperature (bread will soak the oil).

I hope you will prepare this dish at your homes and enjoy it as much as I did :) .

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French Toast

Yummy French Toast

French Toast

France is celebrated not just as the fashion capital of the world, but is also widely regarded as a Food Mecca.The French give this characteristic artistic touch to their cooking, and their dishes look so appealing on the plate that one would even hesitate diving in.French cooking techniques are also one of the most difficult to master. The Cordon Bleu culinary school, which originated in France, however is steadily becoming popular all over the world, and is leaving it’s stamp on the contemporary food philosophy.

Ok, now brace yourself for the myth buster :) . French Toast is not a French dish. It never originated in France.Secondly, French Toast is not supposed to be one of those elegant desserts; It’s traditionally cooked from stale bread and can be rustled up in 15 minutes.But there’s no denying it’s delicious beyond words. it’s my ideal comfort food :)

The recipe for French Toast is unbelievingly simple. Cut the bread into halves.Although, it’s okay to use stale bread for this dish, make sure that the bread is firm and not crumbly, else the toasts will disintegrate while frying. Pour some milk(preferably cold) in a bowl, beat in a egg (for the binding), add sugar to taste, and any other flavour agents of one’s choice. My favourites are cinnamon powder and cardamom powder.Dip the bread pieces in this mix, and then shallow fry them in a pan.Cook from both sides until they get a golden brown colour.And voila, French Toasts are ready to serve!! :)

Well, this dish fits in perfectly with my personal food philosophy of Cooking Simple, Cooking Fast, Cooking Healthy and Cooking Yummy :) Try this out, dear friends, if you haven’t yet.Cooking just doesn’t get simpler than this.This is a recipe with no regrets :)

 

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Soyabean Biryani

Soyabean Biryani

Soyabean Rice

So I had this box of soyabeans lying forlorn on my kitchen shelf, and rightfully so, because it had been ignored for long :) . Yes, I had again and again procrastinated cooking with soyabeans. Until the expiry date was too close, and the pantry too empty to cook anything else. And lo and behold, Soyabean Biryani was born :D

Ok, enough of the poetic touch :) . Well, soyabean biryani might not be such a rare dish to come across; it’s served in my office cafeteria after all; although it’s too dry and tasteless to inspire anyone.However, I feel that soyabeans as an ingredient has not been used to it’s potential in Indian cuisine, even though it has several nutrition benefits. Alas, vegetarians find it too meaty , and ironically, non-vegetarians find it not meaty enough.

In my recipe, I have stuck to the traditional biryani cooking process. First, the soyabeans are left to soak in warm water for around 10 minutes and then removed and gently squeezed to release extra water.To cook the biryani, whole spices are roasted in ghee, soaked basmati rice is then added and flavoured with any seasoning of one’s choice. My favourite combination for the seasoning is garam masala, cinnamon powder, coconut powder,nutmeg shavings and salt.One can even add the off-the-counter biryani masala powder, however that drastically changes the colour of the biryani. The rice is then mixed with soyabeans and allowed to cook in water, and towards the final stages, little milk is added (optional) to give a soft texture to the rice.The rice is then garnished with fried onion slices.

While cooking this dish, it’s important to take care that we don’t add too many soyabeans. When cooked, soyabeans expand in size and suddenly look like twice the quantity. I have fallen into this trap before and this prompted the following tongue-in-cheek comment from my dad

Beta, this dish is supposed to be Rice with Soyabeans or Soyabeans with Rice?? :)

Let’s celebrate the unassuming soyabeans, I say!!

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An Animated GIF Exercise

Animated GIF for my Blog

Animated GIF for my Blog

So this weekend, I decided to get my hands dirty with designing an animated GIF for my blog. I used Photoshop Elements 9, although this can also be acomplished with everyone’s favourite free image editing tool, GIMP. There are plenty of video tutorials available in Youtube to get one started.The above GIF with animated text is probably one of the simpler designs and hence ideal for a beginner.I used this for reference. I have used the Impact font and the Wave font style.Also I have used colours which are in coherence with my wordpress theme. The  idea was to depict one conquering small milestones over a long winding road, which I hope comes out as the message in this GIF :) . Although my original intention was to make the characters lie flat, in order to depict a road; turns out it wasn’t all that simple to implement.

The basic technique behind creating an animated GIF is to run a slideshow over a sequence of image layers. Hence, the more the number of layers, the greater is the detail captured in the GIF. One can create more complicated GIFs using the inbuilt shapes that come in PSE.Google, and you will find truckloads of information :) .

Now I know that sometimes an animated GIF can be a tad irritating to the eye as they constantly keep blinking. And no wonder they are used to create all those online Ads. Different browsers support different ways of stopping animated GIFs. Hopefully, that will make for another blog article.

Till then, enjoy this animation :) . I would also love to have any feedback and suggestions on my GIF design.

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Banana Dumplings

Banana Dumplings

Banana Dumplings

To prepare this, I haven’t followed any recipe as such. I had some bananas that were spoiling fast , some leftover batter from making French Toasts and some fleeting memory of banana fritters recipe from some cooking show.The final product was a quick and easy marriage :) . And far from turning out as a disaster, it actually tasted yummy :)

The banana pieces are first well immersed in a batter of milk, sugar and 1 egg. To give more depth of flavour to the batter, one can add cardamom powder or cinnamon powder. Here egg is primarily used as binding agent; so those who avoid egg can very well use cornstarch. Next the banana pieces are gently rolled over a plate of rice flour until they are uniformly coated and are no longer sticky to touch. After this, leave them to refrigerate for 15-20 min to allow the coating to get well adhered. Finally deep fry them until they get a nice golden colour.

Although they can be had as is, drizzling them with chocolate sauce or custard sauce can take the dish to another level. Also I am aware that banana and sesame is a classic combination. So one can also consider rolling the banana pieces over a plate of white or black sesame seeds before coating them with rice flour.

Happy Cooking!! :)

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Pakoda Platter

Indian Pakoda Platter

Indian Pakoda Platter

My Ramzaan special platter of bhajjis / pakodas. The platter consists of onion rings, potato roundlets, zuchhini roundlets and chilli bhajji. Prepared very much in desi style, the batter is made with grinded moong daal instead of the traditional besan. So it’s not only lighter on the palate but also far healthier. The batter is spiced with the usual Indian spices.As with preparing any bhajji, the batter consistency and the oil temperature are of paramount importance in getting the perfect coating and crispy texture.

I got the idea of making a platter from one of the fast food outlets I had been to lately. It also fits in perfectly with my personal philosophy of serving helpings that are not just wholesome but also have variety.

Pakodas with a hot steamy cup of Chai would be a luxurious treat this Monsoon!! Hope you all enjoy cooking this :)

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Indian Secularism : A Taste of Fusion

Recipe : Indian Secularism

Ingredients :

  • Plain Rice : Indian Elections
  • Oil : Political Campaigns
  • Tadka of spices : The Singh Parivar (Digvijay Singh, Rajnath Singh,Mulayam Singh)
  • Red Chilli Powder : Narendra Modi
  • Lemon Juice : Advaniji
  • Salt : Congress
  • Sugar : Nitish Kumar
  • Coriander Leaves : Lalu Prasad
  • Mushrooms (optional) : Manmohan Singh

Procedure :

  • Heat some oil in a traditional Indian kadhai over a traditional koele ka chulha. Selecting a variety of oils is recommended as this country prides itself in it’s diversity.Be aware that you may face some difficulty in getting hold of coal though.I am sure I don’t need to explain the reason behind that.
  • Once the oil is sufficiently hot and dainty plumes of smoke can be seen rising, add some tadka eg mustard seeds, zeera, crushed peppercorns etc. The role of the tadka is to get the initial flavour going. Here, by flavour I of course mean secularism.
  • Once the tadka has done it’s job, it’s time to add the cooked white rice.You know, the rice has to be the star of the dish, in fact it’s the only basis of the dish.All the fuss and tamasha happens around it.
  • Stir the rice so that it is thoroughly coated with oil and takes on the initial flavouring from our tadka.I hope you see the analogy here.Elections have to be well greased by campaigns, if they are to make any difference.
  • Now is the time to add the main flavour agents.Well I am thinking…Spicy food is always popular, salt is a necessary ingredient…as for sugar and lemon juice, they can always be used to create a well balanced dish.So there you have the magic formula.Hurrah!!And yes, the salt is not meant to be rubbed into somebody’s wound, as the Congress is inclined to do these days to it’s rival.
  • You might as well throw in some sauted mushrooms now.Well, they are so bland, they not going to make a difference anyway. They are only supposed to give a meaty texture.
  • And no Indian dish can be complete without the evergreen Coriander Leaves. They can lift any dish from the depths of mediocrity.Add  it as a final garnish.

Serve :

  • Serve this authentic dish of Indian Secularism with Tamarind Chutney from Tamil Nadu, Rosogolla from West Bengal and Aam ka Achaar from Punjab.
  • It would be wise to give the first serving to Uttar Pradesh.They say that the nation votes as UP votes. This gives the cook an opportunity to correct calculation mistakes early on.
  • When serving the dish to the Media, make sure the flavours and the plating are upto the mark.Because they are the opinion makers.You wouldn’t want to be on their wrong side now, would you?

Source of the Recipe : Past 65 years of experience

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