Monthly Archives: March 2013

SEATTLE!!

SEATTLE

Off to Seattle, Redmond and Bellevue. See you all once we get back.

Vegetarian Chop

vegetable chop 2

Everything sounds better in Bengali. One of my friends, Arundhati used to tell us a story that when her sister’s Bengali Mother-in-Law pronounces her name – its pure music! ‘Arrondhoti’ just rolls off the tongue in a very lyrical manner.

After my trip to Calcutta, I think its the misti or the sweets that add sweetness to the Bengali  language. It makes Bengalis focus on literature and arts and explore their creative side rather than succumb to mundane. Think about, if I ate Rosogulla or Misti doi after every meal I would be a sweeter person too. Hint, Hint Vipul 😉

So instead of calling a vegetable cutlet a ‘cutlet‘ or a ‘pattice‘ I choose to elevates it as a Chop. It just sounds more exotic as a Chop. Now vegetable chop is a real Bengali snack. I attempted to make this snack in a Bengali manner – but failed. I say failed because while it was savory it was not similar to a chop I have had in any Bengali restaurant. Bengali’s pride over lack of commercial success of their cuisine as it has various shades that are hard to master. I suppose, it will not pass a Bengali taste test but it certainly a tasty snack. My Dad, who is visiting, declared them a hit. He is wary of my nouvea recipes but loved these chops. I brown-bagged some for lunch and folks seem to like it. I hope they were not just polite 😉

Packed with beets, sweet potatoes and carrots its packed with nutrition. Albeit I confess, it must have lost some of it in the process of frying. Though I am sure it can just as easily be baked in an oven at 375 F for 20 – 25 minutes until golden brown.

A clever lunch or dinner idea for Meatless Monday’s or as a side with a main meal of salad, pasta or rice. Kids will love the lovely red color and the crunch too.

Vegetarian Chop Recipe

  • 1 medium beet root
  • 2 red carrots
  • 2 potatoes
  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 2 chilies – finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon –  grated ginger root
  • 1 teaspoon – garlic minced
  • 2 tablespoon – finely chopped coriander leaves or mint
  • 1 teaspoon – amchoor powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon – cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon – garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon – Lemon zest
  • Pinch – Turmeric
  • Salt to taste
  • 4 tablespoons corn starch + 2 tablespoon water to form a thick paste
  • Bread crumbs or Rava to coat
  • Oil for frying

1. Pressure cook the root vegetables ( beet, carrots, sweet potatoes and potatoes) for 1 whistle. Alternately bake them at 375 for 30 – 40 minutes till soft, oiled and wrapped in a foil. Let cool.

2. Remove the skins of  potatoes and sweet potatoes. Mix the root vegetables, coriander leaves, chilies and the spices (ginger- garlic, amchoor and cumin powder, garam masala, turmeric and salt). Taste and adjust seasonings.

The root vegetable mix may be a little soft and may not form a roll yet.

3. Prepare three bowls in a row. One with the root vegetable mix, second with corn starch paste and third with breadcrumbs.  Add salt, pepper and some amchoor powder to the breadcrumbs as well.

The mix will be sticky so you may use a little oil to prevent sticking to your hands.Take a little bit of the dough, roll it gently and cornstarch and then in breadcrumbs. Set aside in a separate plate. Once set, give it a rectangular roll shape.

Work through the dough mix and shape all the rolls.

4. Keep the chops in the fridge for at least 30 – 40 mins to firm up. This is important else the rolls will break. Don’t skip ahead for best results.

5. Heat oil tills it’s really hot but not smoking. Test for readiness with a small crumb from the roll. Oil is ready if it sizzles and the crumb floats to the top. Fry rolls one by one in the oil for about 2 minutes on each side.

Drain on paper towels before serving. Enjoy with some hot mustard or spicy ketchup.

Note: I tried both bread crumbs and rava and both make an excellent crunchy coat. Choose either based on what you have on hand 🙂

Amaranth Seeds Stuffed Dates

Dates stuffed with amaranth

Amaranth is called Rajgira in Marathi – my mother tongue. Rajgira laddos and barfi are common in Indian homes. These light sweet laddos are never prepared at home but almost always store-bought. I used to wonder why. When I saw some Rajgira seeds in the grocery store, I decided to buy them on the whim. The plan was to roast them, mix them with some jaggery- nutmeg mix, grated ricotta or khoya and roll them into laddos.

But roasting these seeds is a pain in the a$$. Remember when you pop corn, there are almost some kernels that are left behind un-popped and some that get burnt. Its much of the same except that the poppy-seed size of the amaranth seeds make it harder to weed out the burnt and un popped kernels. I could see the creamy popped puffs layer over the brown ones but couldn’t really separate them easily.

Amaranth puffed crunchy topping

The roasted burnt seeds were delicious and crunchy although the dark brown color was off-putting. So the ladoo plan was out. I almost decided to throw the entire batch out when I realized that the crunchy seeds would be perfect in two places: as an oatmeal topping and as a stuffing in dates.

Dates and amaranth

Amaranth is rich in protein and is naturally cooling. So it’s a perfect topping for breakfast cereal to enhance the protein factor. And on dates that are rich in iron. Iron, Protein, Complex carbs, natural sugar all in a single snack. Jackpot!

I de-seeded the fresh dates I still had on hand from when I made the date truffles. Lo and behold, within minutes I had a crunchy snack that was perfect for late afternoon slumps. A little sweet, a little crunch and sugar – what else can a girl want 🙂

Make more than you anticipate as these are bound to fly fast.

Amaranth Stuffed Dates

  • 1 cup Amaranth seeds
  • 1/2 cup jaggery chopped into smaller pieces or replace with brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup ricotta cheese or khoya
  • 10 – 15 Dates de-seeded

1. Dry roast Amaranth seeds on a very hot skillet one teaspoon at a time for best results. Do cover the skillet with a lid so that puffed seeds don’t fly all over your cooking range. If you don’t have the patience ( like me), roast in larger batches, you will have more browned seeds than pale white puffed ones.  Set aside once done.

It tastes crunchy and delicious nevertheless.

2. In the same skillet, heat jaggery with water till the jaggery melts. Add the puffed seeds and ricotta cheese. Cover and let cook for a couple of minutes.Let cool.

3. Slit the dates to de seed them and stuff with the crunchy mix.

4. Store the amaranth seeds mix in an airtight container. Enjoy as is or over cereal. Store the dates in a separate airtight container ( if you can spare any).

Enjoy!

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