Sunday, April 17, 2016

Dasha Ratna uttappa - a super pancake made with multi grain flour and vegetables

I admit, I am such an OCP(Obsessive Compulsive Planner) :-). I feel lost and think it is very inefficient executing things when I don't have a plan. I sometimes feel jealous of people that do things quite differently, on the fly, especially those who seem to go into the war zone without a clear plan of action :-). I know these kind of people, BH being a prime example. For all my thinking ahead and planning, he comes in and changes things at the last minute. But it works well with the two of us complementing each other except when one of us decides to be not s(u)p(p)ortive about the other's approach :-), well that is another story for another day.
In addition to being an OCP, I am a visual person too, may be they coexist.  For example, I get into the kitchen having completely drawn a picture in my head of what I use from the pantry, refrigerator, to the details of which pans and pots and all the way down to the sequence of how I will clean, chop to make the most of my time. I actually close my eyes and picture my entire menu before I go into the kitchen. Any given point in the week, you can tap me on the shoulder and I will tell which exact corner of the refrigerator you will find the ingredients you are looking for, same with the pantry. I told you I was an OCP. Don't get me wrong, I am not saying this because I am on a boasting spree, I know I can be a pain in the neck for people around me, it is just who I am. I think about the cooking I will do when I get home while I am on my way home on the bus, not that it always turns out the way I saw it in my head but it helps me going in to have a plan and I am ready with a backup if there was to be a turn of events. To my credit, I can be flexible and adapt quickly to changes too, I can shift gears and still go. Ok, I agree that was quite a bit of bragging :-) and so I stop right now.
I had to give you all that introduction so you have the context for what I am going to tell you next. A couple of weeks back, as the weather turned warmer, both of us grandiosely signed ourselves up for some much needed spring cleaning around the house and also some long pending home improvement work. We went around and pulled all the things down at once and thought we would finish all the cleaning in one weekend. Only later did we realize, it was a tall order and definitely not to be done in one weekend :-). The living room and the bed rooms have been looking as if a storm went through them. Busy week days rolled in, BH got attacked by some seasonal allergies and has been coughing & sneezing. Thankfully there were no visitors to see the mess of the house and we have been managing ok. I didn't cook much at all and when I did it was the simplest, blandest stuff you could imagine. As the week finally wound down, I wanted to make my man happy again and chose to take the short cut to his heart via the stomach by cooking a sumptuous meal :-). I had soaked some black chana on Friday night to make my kadala curry with yummy rolls of puttu for Saturday brunch. After slowly getting up in the morning, was getting ready to start on it.  As I put my soaked chana into the cooker and close the lid, he breezes in and announces in a chirpy tone that he was feeling fit and was ready to get on the home improvement, AND needed a lot of help from the wifey.
This is how these things go in our family. There are certain activities I hate to do and there are some he has no interest in and we let each other be. While I love cooking in the kitchen, I feign dumbness when it comes to lifting heavy things, wielding hammers, electric drills etc and let the man of the house do the job. In all fairness, he is very good at these things and infact has a flair for building things with his hands. But he needs me, the moral supporter and cheer leader to be around him even though I don't help much except for maybe lift a couple of tools and hand it to him, stand away and confirm things are straight or aligned as they need to be :-). So when he said he needed my help I knew I wouldn't be able to spend my planned time in the kitchen making puttu and needed to come up with an alternative quickly. Our man's home improvement activities keep expanding based on his energy levels and I could see he had a good supply of it especially this sunny morning which also meant I needed to have something that would be easy to make, keep us full for longer without tasting like rubber :-). I quickly changed my plan of puttu & kadala curry and made this quick brunch.
Let me jump back to the title of the post here and break it down a little for you so you don't think I am anything less than claritin clear today:-). If you enjoy Indian curries in restaurants, I am sure you are no stranger to a side dish called 'Navaratan korma', it is a delicious curry made with (Nava)9 vegetables including nuts and dry fruits which makes it a slightly sweetish curry. You probably have also tried the famous panchmela dal made with (panch)five different lentils, I have my version of it here. I liked the numbering system in these dishes and wanted to create one for a long time :-). As I was mixing up the flours and adding vegetables, I couldn't help counting and thought the 10 ingredients in this recipe were screaming me to be creative while naming the dish.

I have tried this dasha ratna dose multiple times before and it is infact one of our favorite breakfasts. Dasha (=Ten), Ratna (=Jewels because all the ingredients used are a dream come true for a healthy, low carb diet food). If the name is a tongue twister, go ahead and call it simply 'vegetarian pancake'. There are 5 different flours I used in this recipe and 5 different vegetables making a total of ten main ingredients. This is my own home made multi grain flour, completely gluten free (Yay, you can eat this even if you have gluten allergy) and doesn't have white rice or semolina(bonus, if you are looking to reduce your carbs). To top it all, it has a good dose of the probiotic gold in the form of yogurt that every health coach tells you to eat regularly. You can increase/decrease any flour or replace with another of your choice, there will be variations in taste and texture. I do that all the time and encourage you to find your best fit too by experimenting. As far the vegetables are concerned, I grated a whole big zucchini - my favorite summary squash and added other vegetables I had on hand. You can replace the vegetables I have added with those you prefer, this uttappa will certainly not complain :-).
I chose to call this uttappa since it is spread thicker than regular dosa/dose. So here is how I made my dasha ratna uttappa this weekend. A couple of these eaten with the kadala curry on the side kept us going until we cleaned up most of the mess in the living room, great progress!!. Sorry, I can't share any pictures yet, they will come later, we want to keep it a surprise for someone and not put a spoiler on the blog :-). It took me no more than 10 minutes to get the batter ready while the curry was cooking and I would spread an uttappa, reduce heat to low and let it cook while I was helping BH assemble, disassemble and such.

What do you need to make Dasharatna uttappa? 
1 cup oats flour (quick oats powdered in blender)
2 Tbsp ragi (finger millet) flour
2 Tbsp jowar (sorghum) flour
1 Tbsp Rajgira (amaranth) flour
1 Tbsp Bajra (pearl millet) flour
1 packed cup grated zucchini
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup finely chopped tomato
1 cup finely chopped bell pepper (any color)
1 cup finely chopped cilantro
1 cup plain yogurt (a day old, slightly sour is best)
2-3 green chilies finely chopped
1 Tsp salt (adjust to taste)
1/2 - 3/4 cup water
2-3 Tsp oil to roast uttappa

How do you make Dasharatna uttappa? 
  • Wash and remove the end of zucchini, grate it with the skin on the large hole side of a grater. 
  • Chop the remaining vegetables finely. 
  • Take a cup of rolled oats and powder them in the blender. 
  • In a large mixing bowl, add all the flours, salt and the prepared vegetables. 
  • Mix together with your fingers so the vegetables start to leave water. Let it sit for 5 minutes. 
  • Add the yogurt and mix well. Let this sit for about 10 minutes. 
  • If you have the thick pouring consistency, do not add any water. If not, add water slowly to get the consistency you need to spread. 
  • Heat a flat griddle on medium heat, season it with a few drops of oil spread evenly all over. 
  • Take a ladleful of the batter and put it in the center of the hot griddle, spread it lightly with the back of the ladle in about 2mm thickness. 
  • Fill any gaping holes if they get formed with extra batter. 
  • Put a few drops of oil around the edge of the uttappa, cover it with a lid, lower the heat and let cook for 2-3 minutes. 
  • Lift the lid off, check the bottom side to see if it has reached your desired color and flip the uttappa gently over. 
  • Do not cover, let it cook for a further 2 minutes before taking it off on to a plate. 
  • This tastes great without any accompaniments also. 

  • You can add other flours such as rice flour, maize/corn flour, semolina if you prefer
  • Other vegetables that work well in this recipe are grated carrots, grated mooli/radish, grated bottle gourd or lauki, sauteed chopped fenugreek or spinach.
  • The vegetables used here leave a lot of water content and the batter tends to get slightly liquidish over time. So do not add water if you don't need to. 
  • Due to the yogurt and the vegetables, this will be a soft uttappa. You can cook longer on low heat to get a nice golden color but it will not be crispy. 
  • Always cook this on low heat, covered on the first side for 2.5-3 minutes to let the raw vegetables get tender. 
  • Spread them small to make it interesting and also avoid breaking while lifting off the griddle. 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Chaklis/Chakkuli made with roasted gram - a jhatphat snack for a rainy evening

A tall, dark & handsome hero romancing a sultry, gorgeous heroine. In true Bollywood style they change dresses multiple times within a span of 5 minutes as the melody unfolds in the colorful tulip gardens in Netherlands. Oh yes, I am talking about the beautiful and controversial movie Silsila and specifically the song 'Dekha Ek Khwab..'  I love the song for the interspersed commentary in that unmistakable baritone of Mr. Bachan. I watched this movie many years after it was released, I think I was in grade school when it was made and wouldn't have been allowed to go movies let alone movies laced with adultery:-). I don't remember all of the movie but this song and the color splash of the swaying tulips somehow stayed as a static image with me.
When we initially moved to the PNW, as we were looking for places to go, things to do and views to see, one recommendation from folks here was not to miss a visit to the tulip gardens during spring. And we waited for the spring after our move and went to visit the tulip gardens, honestly I hadn't the faintest idea as to what to expect and my imagination turned out to be extremely unimaginative and restricted. It was silsila of real life but I found that the gardeners don't usually allow visitors to walk in between the rows and stomp all around. May be the rules are different for our Bollywood hero-heroines :-). I am happy to stand at the edge of the row and just look around me. Ever since that first trip, this has become a family favorite drive , we infact call it our annual pilgrimage to the valleys :-). The drive is about an hour and half and once you enter the town, fields of colorful blooms embrace from all directions. As far as the eyes can see, the space is covered with rows and rows of fragrant, colorful tulips.
We did make the drive yesterday and found that the tulip gardens have grown thousand folds in popularity, or so it seemed to us. Roads were full, drive was slow and we couldn't get an entry to one of the popular gardens in the area as it was brimming capacity. It was a blessing in disguise as we drove around and landed on not one but multiple stretches of tulips by other gardeners. It was a beautiful day, warm and bright and the blooms were showing off with nothing holding them back. I thought I will share some of my tulip pictures here, enjoy them.
With temperatures climbing north, I do not think I will be making any deep fried snacks in the coming few months unless the days are made cool with some good showers, may be.. Here is a delicious chakli I made a couple of weeks back when DD was heading back.

For me, chaklis always meant Urad dal chakli/chakkuli as I grew up with them. There were others belonging to the same family but tasted entirely different, Tengolu (or tengolalu) made with urad dal and rice but different proportions for the powder and made in very different shape, muchhore made with moong dal that brought in yet another different crunch and taste. I tasted this chakli at a former colleague and a friend of mine J, a few years ago. She is another person that makes cooking look so easy and delicious that I know. Her idlis are soft and melt in the mouth specially with her signature 'white' chutney, yummm..
When I had a piece of this chakli at her home one day, though it felt different from my chakli, I wasn't able to zero in on the ingredient. Then she said she had used kadle/roasted gram also known as chutney dal, I was still a non believer. I tried it at home and made sure she wasn't trying to pull one on me. Not only are these very tasty, they are super easy and quick to make. Whether you are making a large batch to send with someone or making a small quantity to be finished with a cuppa, these can be your 'go to' snacks. No need to fry/roast any ingredient, no pre-cooking needed, and the proportions are hard to miss and always turn out perfect. The only change I made to the recipe that J gave me was to replace dry red chili powder with freshly ground black pepper. This not only retains the color of the chaklis as I know them but gives a fresh flavor and pep to them. If you like chili powder better, go for it.
What do you need to make kadle chaklis? 
1.5 cups rice flour
1/2 cup powdered kadle
1 Tblsp butter
1 Tsp sesame seeds or cumin (different flavors, choose the one you like)
1 Tsp freshly ground black pepper
1.5 cups water
1 Tsp salt (adjust to taste)
oil to deep fry
How do you make kadle chaklis?
  • Blend roasted gram into a fine powder. 
  • Take the rice flour and powdered gram in a wide bowl and mix well with fingers. 
  • Add ground black pepper, sesame (or cumin) and salt and stir them uniformly. 
  • Cut butter into small chunks, add it to the bowl and work it into the flour with your fingers. 
  • The flour mixture should get crumbly as you break the butter into it. 
  • Taste and adjust salt or pepper to your taste. 
  • Add water slowly and bring the flour mixture to a soft dough. 
  • Heat oil in a wide pan for deep frying. 
  • I used the plate with the single starred hole in the center. Get your chakli press ready. 
  • Wet your hands in water and run the fingers on the inside wall of the chakli press. This makes it easier to press. You can use oil instead of water. 
  • Pinch off an orange sized dough, shape into a cylinder and put it in the chakli press. 
  • You have two options, you can make round chaklis on an aluminium foil and transfer them to the hot oil or directly press into the hot oil. 
  • I chose to do the latter this time as we were anyway going to pack them for DD to carry. 
  • Fry on medium heat until it is golden turning them over a couple of times, drain oil, take them onto a paper towel lined plate. 
  • Repeat for all the remaining dough. 
  • Keep the butter outside the refrigerator for about an hour to soften and bring it to room temperature. 
  • To check if the oil has reached the right temperature, drop a small pinch of the dough into the oil, if it comes sizzling to the top immediately, you are ready to go. Not very scientific method :-) but works like a charm. 
  • Add water slowly and in small quantities. The dough should be of the chapati dough consistency sans the gluten. If it is too hard to press, sprinkle a few drops of water and soften it. 
  • Keep any remaining dough covered with a wet paper towel at all times to prevent it from drying.