Tag Archives: Snack

Pink Heart-Shaped Puris for Valentine’s Day

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Happy Valentine’s Day! I’m reposting a recipe from several years ago. I think my photos have improved over the years but you can still see in this pic the heart-shaped bread tinged pink with beet juice. These are a yummy snack or meal for kids and adults served with potato curry or another vegetable curry. For the past year or so I have been using whole wheat pastry flour instead of the Indian atta flour. My mother-in-law and I compared and tested several types of common American flours and determined that this was a perfect substitute.

Valentine’s Puri-Bhaji

Valentine’s Puris (serves 4)

  • 3 cups of atta flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup beet juice*
  • additional water to make a stiff dough
  • Oil for deep frying

Mix flour and salt together in a large bowl. Add 1/2 cup of beet juice and start kneading the mixture into a stiff dough. Keep adding water until all the flour is incorporated. Knead by hand for 5 minutes, cover and let rest for at least 1/2 hour. Please note that puri dough must be very stiff to puff up successfully when fried.

Heat the oil to 350F degrees. Take a small piece of dough about the size of a golf ball and roll it out on a floured surface to about 1/4″ thick. Use your heart-shaped (or other) cookie cutter to cut out the puris. One at a time, slide a puri into the heated oil. It will sink at first. With a slotted spoon press gently on the top of the puri until it comes up and starts to puff. Allow it to cook while you baste the top of the puri with oil from the sides for about 1 minute. Then flip it over and allow it to cook for another minute. Remove and drain on paper.

You can line a large bowl with paper and stand the puris up on their sides to allow better oil-drainage. Once the puris start to cool off the puff will disappear. This is normal. However, it’s best to eat the puris while hot and fresh. Also, keep in mind that you probably won’t have a 100% success rate on the puffing up – I think 80% is pretty good but just keep trying! The puris that don’t puff up are still delicious to eat!

*I made beet juice by putting one cooked beet in my blender and adding a little more than a 1/2 cup of water. Blend on high and strain.

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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Coconut & Peanut Poha

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Have you ever been searching for something in your pantry or kitchen only to find a whole package of something else? And then realize that you really should use it soon before it expires/stales/etc.? That’s what happened today when I found a very large bag of thick poha. It was a pleasant surprise since my hubby and I both love poha. In case you don’ t know about this unusual ingredient, poha is also called “beaten rice” and “flattened rice”. It’s basically a dried flattened raw rice product that can be used raw or cooked. Poha is used in Indian snacks, breakfasts, lunches and light meals in both savory and sweet preparations. It can be added to some dosa batters to thicken the batter. It’s an ingredient that is easy to work with and keeps a long time. Pick up a package next time you are in an Asian or Indian market! A few years ago I posted a recipe for the thin variety of poha.

Here’s a simple recipe I made for lunch today that turned much better than I expected. I started looking in a few cookbooks for ideas, but didn’t really find anything that seemed new. My usual go-to recipe for thick poha uses onion and potato. That seemed too heavy for today. Therefore, I started out with a very basic recipe but tweaked it a bit by adding peanuts (for protein), cilantro for more flavor and lots of coconut. It turned out light, spicy and very tasty. I hope you try it too!

Coconut & Peanut Poha (Serves 4)

4 cups of thick poha
4 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 cup raw peanuts (or roasted peanuts)
2 tsp salt or to taste
1 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp urad dal
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
2 dried red chili peppers, broken
1 green chili peppers, sliced
4 tbsp water
sprig of curry leaves
1/2 cup fresh or frozen (not sweet!) coconut flakes
cilantro – about 1/2 cup chopped
lemon slices

The poha is a little tricky. It’s easy to make it too soft so be careful. You don’t want it too soft and soggy nor do you want it “al dente”: Place the poha in a large colander or strainer and place in the sink. Quickly wash the poha with water running, using your hand to fluff it and get each grain wet. Let the water drain immediately. Let sit for a few minutes. It should have softened without any additional water. Taste a bite to see if it’s soft enough for you. When it’s ready, place it in a large bowl and set aside.

Heat a medium-sized pan of your choice over medium heat. Add the coconut oil and raw peanuts (if using roasted peanuts, skip this step). Allow the peanuts to fry a bit until they are browned. Once done, immediately remove from the oil to a plate (leaving the oil in the pan), sprinkle with a bit of salt and allow to cool.

Now add the mustard seeds to the oil. Once popping, add the urad dal, cumin seeds, red chili peppers, green chili peppers and curry leaves. Carefully add the water and allow it to cook off. This will make the urad dal soft. When the water is evaporated, pour this seasoning over the washed poha.

Now toss in the peanuts, coconut flakes and cilantro. Add salt to taste. Stir gently but well. If the poha is a bit too wet it may stick together. If that happens, just stir as gently as possible, breaking up pieces as you do so. Can you tell that I have experience at making the poha too soft? It’s okay if it happens, it will still taste good! Serve with some yummy garlic pickle and lemon slices to squeeze over.

Anya’s Famous Fruit Salad – My 6 year old Guest Blogger

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Our guest blogger for this post is my 6 year-old daughter. She loves to make fruit salads and has become quite good at it! She says her salad is “Famous, but it’s not really famous”. My son worked as the photographer and did a wonderful job. Thanks to both of them for helping out!

Salads are a great way to get the kids in the kitchen and involved with cooking. They can learn to prep veggies and fruits (great for you later when they can serve as sous chef!), how to use a knife safely, wash foods properly and learn math (fractions, multiplication and division). My daughter is very artistic and enjoys making food look pretty by arranging things just so on the perfect dish. Both of my kids love to help out with any cooking. They like to try the foods that they are working with which broadens their food choices. While making this salad, we taste-tested pomegranate seeds, pomegranate vinegar and pomegranate molasses while I was teaching them how to open up a pomegranate. Of course, you can sub whatever fruits you like in this dish. But try to take advantage of the opportunity to introduce or reintroduce foods that your kids say they don’t like… you never know if they will change their minds! The more variety we eat, the more nutrients we get. But don’t tell them that, just say it tastes good!

Anya’s Famous Fruit Salad 

3 clementine or mandarin oranges
1 banana
1 apple
1/4 cup of pomegranate seeds
1 tbsp liquid sweetener of choice (agave, maple, optional)

Peel the oranges and divide the segments. Add to a plate or bowl.

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Cut the apple and banana into bite size pieces. Add to the plate or bowl.

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Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and sweetener (agave or maple syrup, etc.). Eat.

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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.

Spicy Garlic Chickpea Curry

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Spicy Garlic Chickpea Curry

Hello and welcome to This Spicy Life…

I am starting to get requests for recipes, and I LOVE IT! Please send me any requests and I will do my best to come up with an easy but tasty way to make whatever you are looking for (vegetarian, of course).

There have been lots of requests for a recipe for chickpea curry/chana masala. As with almost popular Indian dishes, it seems like there are as many variations to chana masala as there are chickpeas in the pot! The following is my version of a super easy, no fuss, no-exotic-ingredients recipe. It does take some time to cook, but the preparation itself is very simple. It’s a very flexible recipe too since it can be served with an Indian bread or with rice. Or as I did tonight, with potato patties (aloo tiki). My husband was very happy to see what we were having for dinner tonight since we usually only eat tikis at restaurants.

Just a few notes: Please use fresh garlic if at all possible as the taste is so much better, especially when it is a primary flavor. And don’t shy away from the amount of garlic called for unless you just don’t want a garlic flavor. The curry is cooked down and the garlic really mellows out quite a bit.

I normally would use tamarind paste but used fresh lemon juice as an experiment with great success. Feel free to substitute, however, I never use the bottled lemon juice so I’m not sure how it will compare in taste.

If you want to serve the masala with rice, add a little more water to the curry. I served this very dry (since we were eating it with the tikis) so it’s difficult to see the rich, deep red sauce that was created.

You can garnish this with all or some of the following: finely chopped raw onion or shallots, lemon wedges, chopped green chilis and fresh cilantro. I hope you enjoy!

Spicy Garlic Chickpea Curry

Serves 4

  • 2+ tbsp oil
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp celery seeds
  • 1 1/2 cups onions, chopped, reserve 3 tbsp for garnish
  • 6 tbsp garlic, chopped (don’t be scared!)
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes (fresh or canned) or 3/4 cup tomato puree
  • 1 – 2 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste, optional)
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 3 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 2 tsp tamarind paste or 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 cups of water (approximately)
  • 3 1/2 cups chickpeas, cooked (or canned)
  • 1 tsp garam masala (optional)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro (reserve 1 tbsp for garnish)
  • 1 green chili, finely chopped (or to taste, optional for garnish)
  • 4 lemon wedges (optional for garnish)
  1. Heat oil over medium heat in a big saucepan.
  2. Add cumin and celery seeds and allow to turn dark brown.
  3. Stir in the chopped onion (minus the reserved) and cook until it starts to brown on the edges. Add a bit more oil or water if it starts to stick.
  4. Stir in the garlic and allow to cook for 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Add a little bit more oil if it sticks to the pan. Don’t allow it to turn brown – keep an eye on it.
  5. Add the tomatoes and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Stir in the cayenne pepper (if using), cumin powder, coriander powder and salt.
  7. Stir in the tamarind paste (if substituting lemon juice, skip to the next step) and about 1/2 cup water and mix to incorporate.
  8. Turn the heat to medium-low and allow the tomato mixture to cook down thoroughly. The oil should start separating from the mixture. This may take around 10 minutes.
  9. Add the drained chickpeas along with 1 cup of water. Stir and allow to simmer for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add more water if the curry starts to become too dry.
  10. Turn off the heat and add the garam masala, cilantro (minus the reserved unit) and lemon juice (if not using tamarind paste). Stir well. Check for salt level.
  11. Garnish: you can either garnish individual servings or top the chana masala in your serving dish with a sprinkling of the garnishes.

Samosa-dillas

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Samosa-dillas

Hello! Today’s post is a fusion of Indian and Mexican – samosas meet quesadillas. Definitely not for the low-carb diet, this easy and yummy recipe can be served as a meal or an appetizer. Serve with a chutney or salsa of your choice.

Today also debuts my new macro camera lens. My sweet hubby bought it for me so that I can (hopefully) take better pictures for this blog. Enjoy!

Samosa-dillas

Serves 2 – 4

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 green chili, chopped (or to taste, optional)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp amchoor powder (or 1 tbsp lemon juice)
  • 3 potatoes (approx. 3 cups), boiled, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1/4 water (or more if needed)
  • 1/2 cup green peas, cooked
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 4 large flour tortillas (or 8 chapatis)
  • 2 tbsp oil or margarine for cooking the tortillas

Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add cumin seeds and allow to turn dark brown. Add the onions and, stirring occasionally, cook until they start to brown on the edges. Add the garlic and green chili and allow to cook for 1 minute. Add turmeric, salt, coriander powder, cumin powder and amchoor / lemon and allow to cook for 1 more minute. Add the potatoes to the pan with about 1/4 cup of water (or more if the mixture is very dry). Mash the potatoes slightly so that some break down and some remain in small chunks. Stir around until the water mostly evaporates. Add the green peas, cilantro and garam masala and stir well. Taste for salt and spiciness level. Set aside.

Heat a flat pan or skillet over medium heat. Oil the pan with approximately 1 tsp oil. Place one tortilla (or chapati) on the oiled surface. Spread about 1/2 – 1 cup of the potato mixture (depending on the size of your tortilla) over the tortilla and cover with another tortilla, pressing down a bit. Spread a little oil over the top of the 2nd tortilla. When the bottom starts to get crispy, flip the whole unit and allow to cook until the 2nd side is crispy. (OR for very large tortillas, use only one tortilla, oil the bottom and spread the mixture over one half of the tortilla. Fold the other half over and press down. Flip when it becomes crispy and cook the 2nd side.) Remove and keep warm until you are ready to serve.