Sunday, March 27, 2016

Hariyali Cutlet with ragda a.k.a green cutlet with gravy - A Spring inspired chat :-)

It is a very typical early spring day. The soft pitter patter of the rains outside my bedroom windows, the stillness that comes with the rains as it falls in a steady stream downwards, a stray bird getting mischievously wet as it puts its head out of its hiding, the fat squirrel that comes out of its burrow looking for a nut rushes back home when the water falls on its body in torrents, the trees shaking their body and swaying with the wind as it accompanies the rain. How can anyone not enjoy this musical & magical picture of the nature? This weather invariably makes me ache and long for a summer from the past where everything I see today would be present along with the intoxicating fragrance of the earth. Indian summers are hot and when the monsoon finally arrives the soil is so dry and thirsty, it seems to immediately drink up the water from above in return releasing a heady fragrance as if saying thanks! What was different in the long ago summer I long for was that I was a carefree, grade school girl with no responsibilities of my own. I had parents and older siblings to take care of my every need and much more. Much as I miss those days, I am equally happy where I am and who I am today too. The rains just remind me of everything, the gains and the losses, that has happened in these years.
Spring is the time for everything comes alive and grow anew. Our neighbors have 2 little girls that I get to see mostly when the weather is warm. With the busy schedule of 2 working parents, the routine is mostly pre school care, school and after school care. So by the time they reach home, it is dark outside and the kids are hungry for dinner. Like everyone else, we get inside the nest for the rest of the evening. But spring and summer are a different story. I get to see kids come out with their bicycles or balls to play in the open area infront of the house. The littler of the 2 little girls who had just started walking last year this time is trying out her older sister's bike with training wheels while the older one has graduated to independently cycling away on her merry way. They both have grown a couple of inches taller and the older one is not as shy any more when she greets me as I get off the car in the drive way and sometimes asks "How is your daughter doing? Where is she now"?. She remembers her from the couple of baby sitting times they had together :-). And I just feel awed by this magic of life that enables everything and everyone to grow and grow up.

As the girls tire of their biking, they run back to their drive way where the proud parents are watching, screaming for snacks and treats. No such luxury for me, grown up as I am, I just have to get up and make a treat myself if I want to eat something :-). The weather certainly calls for something spicy, hot and tasty and I am going to get something that is spicy, hot and tasty. I made these haryali cutlets and served it up as a chat with the spicy gravy keeping in tune with the nature's green theme around me. Well, in truth I had made these a couple of weeks back when DD was home but couldn't take any pictures since the kids were all hungry and attacked the plates as soon as it got to the dining table. So I had to make it again for the sake of the blog and I was more than happy to oblige :-)

Cutlets are the favored finger foods present in some form or the other in most major cuisines of the world. You see the kabobs of the middle east, crab cakes of the western world, tikkis of native India and the cutlets of modern India - they all have their seed in the same concept though the ingredients, shape, color, recipe differ based on the chef and the mood of the day.
We tried this haryali or hariyali (literally meaning 'green') cutlet in a restaurant once long time ago and fell in love with it. It was the deep fried version and was very different from the regular aloo tikkis (potato patties) and the vegetable cutlets. I have seen many, many variations of the haryali cutlets or hara bhara kabobs on the web and also in the restaurants since it seems to be a much loved favorite of many people. The hara bhara kabob is pretty similar to what I have today but sometimes may have paneer or Indian cottage cheese stuffed inside the kabob/cutlet dough before it is fried which opens up to a gooey goodness when you cut into it. That is why it is called a hara (~green), bhara (~stuffed) kabob. It is a must try for all hard core paneer fans.

I made the non stuffed version as I wanted to serve it as a chat (takes it many a notches up from the plain cutlet - is my personal opinion :-)). Unlike other cutlets which are loaded with spuds, this one uses the tuber as just a binding agent and in minimal quantity. The resulting cutlet is light, airy and crispy with loads of spinach goodness. Yes, you heard it right, this is a cutlet based almost entirely on the spinach foundation, you will be consuming your daily requirement of iron with 2 of these cutlets (I exaggerated a bit and I am not a qualified nutritionist, so I made up the statement about the iron content :-), but it is all good green stuff). Although the expert chefs on the web were in harmony when they said the haryali kabob tastes best when deep fried, I am glad to have proven them wrong with my delicious 'shallow fried in pan' kabobs. If you want to expend some additional oily calories, go ahead and deep fry but I can assure you that you won't lose any taste with the pan fried method instead will also preserve the green goodness.
The only thing you want to keep in mind with this recipe is to have as less moisture content in the mixture as possible. I have given some tips along with the procedure to do this. I have told you how I prepared my spinach which hardly lets out any water. You can also blanch and squeeze the water out (in which case you will be taking out some of the nutrients of the mighty spinach). Potato is just present to provide that binding so the cutlet is not crumbly, do not overdo the spuds (however much you love them) in this recipe. The mint and the ginger add a heavenly flavor to the cutlet. Try this recipe and let me know how you liked it. And you don't really have to wait for the rainy season to enjoy this chat, any time is good too.
What do you need to make Hariyali cutlet chat?
For the cutlets 
Makes about 12 cutlets
250gm of spinach leaves
1/2 cup loosely packed mint leaves
1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro
1 inch piece fresh ginger
3-4 green chilies (adjust to taste)
1/2 Tsp salt (adjust to taste)
3/4 cup cooked green peas
1 medium sized potato boiled and mashed
1/2 cup bread crumbs (I used panko)
2 Tbsp oil to pan fry cutlets

For the gravy
2 cups dry green peas
1 tomato chopped
1 small onion chopped
1 Tbsp oil
1/2 Tsp cumin seeds
3/4 Tsp salt (adjust to taste)
1/2 Tsp red chili powder
1/2 Tsp amchoor (dry mango powder)
1/2 Tsp garam masala powder
To grind: 
2 Tbsp chopped onion
1 inch piece ginger
2 cloves garlic
2 1-inch piece cinnamon
3-4 cloves
2-3 green chilies

For assembling the chat: 
Tamarind-date chutney
finely chopped onion
finely chopped tomato
finely chopped cilantro
roasted cumin powder
red chili powder
fine sev to garnish

How do you make Hariyali cutlet chat? 
Making Haryali cutlets:
  • Wash, clean and pat dry spinach leaves, chop them roughly. 
  • Heat a wide pan on medium heat. 
  • Turn the heat to high, add the spinach leaves into the pan (no water or oil and definitely no salt at this time), stir and saute for 3-5 minutes until the leaves wilt and shrink. 
  • Since we do not add any salt or oil, the water from the leaves is less and almost insignificant. 
  • Switch off and transfer the cooked leaves to a bowl. 
  • Take the green chilies & ginger in a blender jar and grind to a smooth paste. 
  • Add cooked green peas and salt into the jar and pulse a couple of times to make a coarse pulp. 
  • Take this mixture into the same bowl with spinach leaves. 
  • Add boiled, mashed potatoes, chopped mint & cilantro. Mix well and taste test. Adjust salt as needed. 
  • Cover and keep the mixture in the refrigerator for atleast 30 minutes for it to firm up. 
  • After 30 minutes, take the mixture out, add the bread crumbs in spoonfuls and mix together. 
  • 1/2 cup of crumbs give a nice taste but make sure you don't add a lot more than that - for one, it takes away the rich green color, secondly the cutlet loses the spinach taste.  
  • Take golf ball sized dough, shape into a patty. Repeat for all of the dough. 
  • Heat a flat gridle or pan, add a Tbsp of oil and spread it evenly. 
  • Put the patties on the griddle (as many as the griddle can accomodate at a time) and roast for 2 minutes on each side or until they develop a light brown crust. 
  • Take them out to a plate. You can eat them as is at this stage, serve warm with some ketchup on the side. 
  • If you want the full experience, keep reading to make the gravy and assemble the chat :-)
Making the gravy (I have a slightly different variation of the gravy here and here, you can use any of these or the one below for this chat): 
  • Soak the dry, green peas overnight in plenty of water. 
  • Cook the soaked peas with 2 cups of water for just one whistle in a pressure cooker or until fork tender if you are cooking in an open pot. 
  • Chop onion and tomato finely. 
  • Grind all the ingredients listed under 'To grind' in the gravy section along with 1/2 cup of cooked peas and 1/2 cup of water. 
  • Heat a pan with oil, add cumin seeds and let it sizzle. 
  • Add chopped onion and let it sweat for a couple of minutes. 
  • Add the chopped tomatoes, salt and cook until the mixture is mushy (3-4 minutes)
  • Add the ground masala and cook for 2 minutes until the raw smell disappears. 
  • Add the remaining cooked peas, mash them slightly with the back of your ladle or a potato masher
  • Add 2 cups of water and the dry masala powders (red chili, garam masala & amchoor) and let it come to a boil. 
  • Switch off and let it rest until ready to use. 
Assembling Hariyali Chat: 
  • Keep the gravy piping hot and the cutlets warm. 
  • Take your serving dish and place a cutlet in the center. 
  • Sprinkle some chopped onion, tomato, red chili powder and roasted cumin powder (all of this is according to taste)
  • Add the tamarind date chutney on top. 
  • Pour about 1/2 cup of the piping hot gravy on top of this. 
  • Garnish with more onion, cilantro and sev. 
  • Enjoy it when it is hot :-). Go back and reassemble another plate, and keep going until you can eat no more :-)
  • Since I used the dry green peas for the gravy, I just scooped out about 3/4 cup of the cooked peas to use in cutlets. If you are planning to serve cutlets without gravy, you can use frozen peas as well. Thaw them to room temperature and pulse them to a coarse mixture in the blender. 
  • You can add boiled, mashed sweet potato instead of regular potatoes in this recipe. 
  • You can use bread slices in the recipe instead of crumbs/panko. Just remove the edges, tear 2 slices of bread into pieces and incorporate them in the mixture. This soaks up any extra moisture and also gives binding to the cutlet dough. 
  • I use the triple washed, ready to use baby spinach. If you are using bulk spinach, pick and discard any thick stems. Use only the leaves in this recipe. 
  • You can add other greens such as methi (fenugreek) or kale if you like.
  • You can put the spinach leaves in boiling water for couple of minutes to blanch, strain and take out all the water and use only the cooked leaves to the above method. 
  • If you are short on time and cannot afford to refrigerate the dough, you may need to add a little more bread crumbs/bread. 
  • I have given 3 different variations of the gravy with links, choose whatever appeals to you. I used green peas to keep with the theme of 'haryali'. 


NamsVeni Pothas said...

wonderful green recipe. very healthy perfect for this summer season.

Anonymous said...

It's elementary, dear Watson. .. take a very delicious and traditional recipe and make it modern with couple of unique innovative stuff. I love it. One of my favorites and keep it up. I never get tired of reading your blog multiple times