Tag Archives: Chutney

Cutlets Meet Vada Pav Sliders (Indian Potato Burgers)

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There is a delicious Indian treat called “Vada Pav” that is a round deep-fried potato ball served on a bun with garlic chutney. It is so good to eat with the crispy chickpea flour coating outside and the soft flavorful potatoes inside. I decided to try a  healthy twist on this dish, though I would never turn down the original! I’m not trying to improve it but rather make it a bit more healthy for everyday eating. Not that I’m suggesting that this be eaten everyday! With the addition of cooked mung beans, it’s more of a cross between the Vada Pav and a cutlet.

This is a recipe that calls for a few Indian ingredients. If you don’t have them, then come up with your own spice mix. I think a southwest version would be very good. Hmm… that’s definitely a future experiment! The traditional version of Vada Pav features garlic chutney. It gives it a delicious, spicy flavor. However, you don’t need the garlic chutney to complete this dish – sub in some spicy ketchup or other chutney or just dress it up as you would  a burger. You won’t be disappointed!

Healthy Twist on Vada Pav (Indian Potato Burgers) (Makes approx. 9 patties)

1 cup mung beans, cooked
1 potato, boiled or steamed, mashed and cooled (about 1 cup of potato)
2 tsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
pinch of hing
a few curry leaves, chopped
1/2 cup of onions, finely chopped
1 tsp garlic paste
2 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp of cayenne pepper
salt to taste
1/4 cup chickpea flour (besan) plus additional flour for coating
1/8 – 1/4 cup oil for pan frying
small round hamburger buns
1/2 cup dry garlic chutney (or to taste)

In a large bowl, mix together the mung beans and potato. In a small pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds, hing and curry leaves. When the mustard seeds start to pop, add the onion and allow to cook for a few minutes, stirring. Then add the garlic and ginger paste and cayenne. Allow to cook for a minute or until the garlic is cooked to your liking. Remove from heat and pour this in the mung bean mixture. Add the salt and 1/4 cup of chickpea flour and mash everything together until well combined. Taste for salt and adjust if necessary.When the mixture is ready,  roll it into large rounds approx. 2″ in diameter. Set aside until all are rolled out. Place the additional chickpea flour on a plate and roll each ball in the chickpea flour, dusting the outside with the flour.

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Heat a skillet over medium heat and add a tbsp or 2 of oil. When the oil is heated, place a few of the balls in the oil, pressing down slightly on the top to flatten a little.

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Once the bottom is nicely browned, flip over each ball and cook on the other side, flattening a bit more.

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Once browned on the 2nd side, remove from the oil to a plate or paper. Repeat frying until all of the balls are cooked.

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If using the garlic chutney, spread a nice layer on the bottom bun, place the patty on the bun, top with sliced onion. Or skip the chutney and use condiments of your choice. Enjoy!

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Savory Semolina Cake (Sooji Dhokla) + YouTube Debut

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Savory Semolina Cake (Sooji Dhokla) + YouTube Debut

Hello and welcome to This Spicy Life!

Yesterday was the debut of my YouTube channel featuring a Sooji Dhokla recipe by my friend Leena. I think you will agree that Leena does a great job of showing how to make this delicious and easy snack. Please forgive my lack of filmmaking skills! Anyway, I think the video came out much better than expected for our first try. Click on the video at the top right corner to see our tutorial. We are hoping this is the first of many collaborations!

Here is a link to the YouTube Channel for ThisSpicyLife: 

Dhoklas are a light and satisfying snack that is popular in India. They can be made from semolina (sooji) or chickpea flour and eaten with a chutney. Dhoklas are usually steamed in special pan inside a larger pot. You can easily substitute a small cake pan or pie plate, as long as it fits inside of a large pot. Here we used a 6″ cake pan set on top of a wok stand inside of a large stock pot. Add enough water to reach almost to the top of the wok stand and set the cake pan on top of this. Put the lid on and you have a homemade steamer.

Leena’s Savory Semolina Cake (Sooji Dhokla)

Serves 6 – 8

  • 2 cups semolina or sooji (medium size is preferred)
  • 2 tbsp yogurt (unsweetened – can use soy or other yogurt)
  • 2 – 4 tbsp ginger-chili paste (1″ fresh ginger blended with 4-6 green chilis)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 3 tsp eno fruit salt (available at Asian grocery stores)
  • 2+ cups of water
  • 6 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
  • 6 curry leaves, chopped (optional)
  • 2 green chilis, thinly sliced (optional)
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 3 tsp mustard seeds
Method:
  1. Place the semolina in a large bowl. Add the yogurt, ginger-chili paste, salt and sesame seeds. Mix well.
  2. While continuing to mix, add enough water to make a medium thick batter.
  3. Set aside for 5 minutes. Add a bit more water if the batter has become too thick. You want the batter to easily fall in a chunky stream from a spoon.
  4. Oil your steaming pan (see note above about steaming) and set aside.
  5. In a small pan heat the oil to very hot. Add the mustard seeds and allow to cook until they start to pop. Add the curry leaves to the pan and immediately remove from heat. Set aside.
  6. Mix the cilantro and green chilis together and set aside.
  7. Remove 3/4 cup of batter into a smaller bowl. Add 1 tsp eno fruit salt and mix well. It will foam and bubble.
  8. Pour this into the steaming pan. Place the dhokla pan inside the steamer (see note above) and cover with the lid. Allow to steam for 8 minutes.
  9. Remove the dhokla pan from the pot.
  10. Sprinkle 2 tbsp of the reserved cilantro mixture over the top of the dhoklas.
  11. Sprinkle 1 tsp of mustard seeds over the top of the dhoklas.
  12. Using a pizza cutter or other small knife, cut the dhoklas into pieces approximately 2″ x 2″. Remove to a serving plate and serve with chutney.
  13. Repeat making more batches of dhoklas until the batter is done. There should be about 3 batches using a 6″ pan and 3/4 cup of batter to a pan.
Leena’s Green Chutney

Makes 1/2 cup of thick chutney

  • 2 tbsp raw peanuts
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 cup cilantro (coriander leaves) with stems and/or mint (leaves only)
  • pinch of salt
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 or 2 green chilis, optional (to taste)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  1. Wash the cilantro and trim away any woody stems. Keep tender stems as they provide the most flavor. Clean the mint leaves but remove from stems and toss the stems. Set aside.
  2. Cut the green chili(s) and garlic into chunks and set aside.
  3. Blend the peanuts and cumin with about 1 tbsp of water.
  4. Add the cilantro/mint leaves, salt, about 1 tbsp of lemon juice, green chili and garlic to the peanut mixture.
  5. Blend until it becomes a fine, thick paste. Add more water if necessary to get it to blend smoothly.
  6. Adjust salt and lemon as needed.

Tandoori-Roasted Tofu Wraps

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Tandoori-Roasted Tofu Wraps

Good Morning! Yesterday was our last night with the In-Laws. Sadly they are flying back to NJ as I write. We decided to make Tandoori-Roasted Tofu Wraps and Tandoori-Roasted Quorn for the egg-eaters with roasted cauliflower, marinated red onion, fresh mint and cilantro chutney wrapped in freshly grilled chappatis. These are equally delicious made with paneer, potatoes or gluten in place of the tofu or Quorn.

Some notes:

There are three components to this recipe, so be prepared to spend a little time in the kitchen. It’s definitely worth your time though, so just plan ahead a little to make it easier.

We use a commercial tandoori masala mix to save time. It isn’t the most healthy thing to eat, but we don’t make this very often. You can make your own tandoori masala at home. There is a cookbook called Classic 1000 Indian Recipes that has tons of masala recipes. Or you can just find one on the internet…

Same goes for the cilantro chutney – it’s just such a time saver to get a commercial chutney paste to use in these situations.

Another time saver is to follow these steps:

  1. Marinate the tofu and cauliflower (if using)
  2. Make the chapati dough (if making homemade)
  3. Prepare the onion and chutney and set aside
  4. Bake the tofu / cauliflower and set aside
  5. Roll out the chappatis and cook
  6. Assemble
  7. Eat!

Tandoori-Roasted Tofu Wraps

Serves 2-4

Tofu & Cauliflower

  • 1 pkg of extra firm tofu (not silken)
  • 2 cups cauliflower (or potato is yummy), cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 cup soy yogurt, regular yogurt or 1/2 cup almond milk or soy milk
  • 1/4 to 1/2 pkg Shan or other Tandoori Masala (or to taste)

Press the tofu for 1/2 hour to get as much water released as possible. In the meantime, make the marinade: Combine the Masala with the yogurt or soy milk so it is a gravy consistency. Taste for the heat level. You may want to add more masala. If it’s too hot, add more yogurt/milk. Divide into two batches. Cut the tofu into bite sized pieces and put it in one batch of the masala. Put the cauliflower in the other batch. Mix both all around to coat all sides. Allow to marinate in refrigerator for at least 2 hours up to overnight.

Heat the oven to 350F. Cover a baking sheet with foil and oil liberally. Drain the tofu mixture of any excess water. Place the tofu on the baking sheet and put in the oven for 20 minutes. Take it out of the oven and stir it around – it’s okay if the tofu breaks up a bit but try to keep it intact. Put back in the oven and after another 10 minutes check on the texture. If it’s a good texture that you like, remove from the oven. If you want it firmer put it back in for another 5-10 minutes. I like to get a little crispy texture so when it’s almost done I crank up the oven to 500F and let it get roasted on the top for just a few minutes. Just be sure you don’t overcook it!

Now repeat the above steps with the cauliflower but check on it after only 10 minutes, stir it around and see if it’s cooked well-enough for you. Remove when you like the texture and mix it in with the tofu. Set aside.

Chapatis

You can use pre-made chappatis or even flour tortillas, but it’s so much better if you can get the atta or chapati flour from an Indian/Asian grocery store and make your own.

  • 3 cups of atta flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup or more water
  • additional flour for rolling out the dough
  • 4 tbsp oil (approximately and optional)

Mix flour and salt together in a large bowl. Add 1/2 cup of water and start kneading the mixture into a dough. Keep adding water until all the flour is incorporated and you have a nice soft dough. Knead by hand for 5 minutes, cover and let rest for at least 1/2 hour.

Heat a flat skillet or griddle on medium heat. Pinch off a piece of dough about the size of a golf ball and roll into a ball between your hands. Place on a floured surface and roll into a flat circle about 6 inches in diameter. These are about as thick as a flour tortilla, but you can make them thicker or thinner if you like. If using oil, put a few drops of oil on the skillet and immediately put the chapati on top. Put a few drops of oil on the top side of the chapati and let cook for 30 seconds. Flip the chapati and allow to cook until it starts getting little brown spots. Then flip again to finish the first side. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Keep them warm wrapped in foil or some tea towels.

Garnish

  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped mint
  • 2 tbsp vinegar
  • 2 tbsp cilantro chutney

Place the sliced onion, mint and vinegar in a bowl and allow to marinate for at least 1/2 hour. The onions will start to wilt. When ready to use, just drain the vinegar from the bowl and set aside.

Put the chutney in a bowl and add water (if it’s thick) to make a sauce.

Assembly

Place one or two (or three) chapatis on a plate and sprinkle the tofu and cauliflower over the center (about 1/4 cup or more depending on the size of your chapatis). Spoon 1 – 2 tsp chutney over all and then your drained onion/mint mixture.

Roll the chapati up like a burrito and either eat or secure with a toothpick to keep it assembled. Enjoy!

Garlicky Cilantro Chutney

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Garlicky Cilantro Chutney

Garlic Cilantro Chutney

Hi! Today I made idlis (instant, not from scratch this time) with Garlic-Cilantro Chutney for my In-Laws who are visiting from Jersey. This is a simple chutney to make when you don’t have a lot of time to get food on the table. You can adjust the levels of garlic and chili to suit your taste. Be sure to use the cilantro stems because apparently these are the most flavorful part of the plant. Enjoy!

Garlic-Cilantro Chutney

Makes approx. 3 cups

  • 2 cups fresh (or thawed frozen) unsweetened coconut or desiccated coconut
  • 2 cups roughly chopped cilantro (stems and leaves)
  • 1-3 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1-2 green chilis
  • 1/2 tsp tamarind paste (or to taste)
  • 2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 cup or so of water
  • 1 tsp coconut oil or other cooking oil
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • pinch of hing/asafoetida
  • 4-6 curry leaves

Place the cilantro, garlic, chili(s), tamarind paste, salt and about 2 tbsp water in a blender and grind to a fine paste, adding more water as needed. Add the coconut and grind until combined and it becomes a rough mixture (but not too smooth). Add a little water at a time if it is too dry. Pour contents into a serving bowl. Adjust salt if necessary.

For the seasoning: heat the oil in a small pan. Add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, hing and curry leaves and allow to heat until the mustard starts to pop. Immediately remove from heat and pour over the chutney. Mix in and serve with idlis, vadas, dosas, sandwiches, etc.

Please send me any comments or questions! I would love to hear from you and any ideas you come up with to use chutney…

Beet Greens & Watercress Vadas

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Beet Greens & Watercress Vadas

Vadas & Cilantro Chutney

I made these Vadas a couple of weeks ago but am just now getting around to posting. Sorry for the delay- my intention is to post at least once a week! Vadas are a wonderful Indian snack food that have so many possibilities. They can be eaten with spicy chutneys, floated in Rasam, soaked in flavorful yogurt…so many delicious options!

Anyway, here is one of my latest versions of Vada. I normally use a basic recipe from “Dakshin” (one of my go-to books for South Indian recipes). I then make alterations to this recipe by experimenting with different chopped up veggies and adding in other spices. I had a bunch of beet greens and some lovely peppery watercress on hand. I was in the mood for Rasam-Vada and decided to use up my fresh produce in the Vadas. It makes me feel a tiny bit healthier eating fried food that has some extra nutrition added!

I’m not posting the Rasam recipe yet since the Rasam pictured at the end of this post is made from a powder that we buy rather than a purely homemade variety.

Beet Greens & Watercress Vadas

  • 2 cups urad dal
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp chili powder / cayenne
  • 2 pinches hing/asafoetida
  • 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1 cup beet greens (minus the stems), finely chopped
  • 1 cup watercress, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • oil for deep-frying

Rinse the urad dal in a strainer, place in a bowl and cover with water to a few inches above the dal. Allow to soak for at least 4 hours at room temp.

Strain the dal and put in a blender (I use a Vita-Mix) or food processor. Fill with water to just below the top of the dal (you can always add more water if it’s too thick). Add cumin seeds, chili powder, hing and salt and blend to a thick paste. Add more water if it isn’t mixing well but be sure not to add too much. You may have to stop the blender and stir it around to make sure that the dal gets blended properly. It is okay to have little pieces of dal in the batter for some texture if you like.

Remove the paste to a bowl and add the chopped beet greens, watercress and cilantro. Mix well and adjust seasonings now.

Vada Batter

The batter should be very thick. I’m not sure how to efficiently describe it, but if you form a small ball it will only lose it’s shape a little bit, not flatten out entirely. Or if you try to drop it by the spoonful it falls in chunks, not a stream. If the batter isn’t thick enough, you can make it thicker by adding some rice flour a tablespoon at a time.

Heat the oil to 350F. When the oil is ready you can start frying your Vadas. This is how I do it, though there are other methods. I put my bowl of batter next to the stove. I go to the sink and quickly wet my hands and shake off the excess water. I go back to the batter bowl and grab a golf-ball sized chunk of batter and make it into a round but kind of flattened shape.

I then put my finger in the middle and make a small hole by swishing it around a bit.

I then slide the wet blob into the hot oil. Obviously, be VERY CAREFUL that you don’t get water in the oil or it will pop out at you, possibly causing burns! I then grab another ball of batter and repeat so there are now two Vadas in the oil at once. After making two Vadas I re-wet my hands and start over. Don’t overcrowd your pot or it will slow down the cooking.

Once the Vadas become brown on one side, gently flip them over and fry the other side. Expect each side to fry to approximately 3 minutes. When they are done, remove to your oil draining station.

Rasam Vada