Category Archives: Snacks and Appetizers

Dahi Vada – An Indian Street Food Affair

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[ I wrote this post last week before the baby’s arrival; am simply posting it  today. We are at home, resting, nursing and catching up on sleep. Will resume blogging soon!]

Pushpa: Le Dahi Vade kha le.

Urmila: Nahi mann nahi kar raha.
Pushpa: Arre Dahi Vade khane ka mann nahi kar raha. Agar kisi ladki ka Dahi Vade khane ka mann nahi karta to do cheeze ho sakti hai,

  • ya to woh dheere dheere ladki se ladka ban rahi hai…
  • ya to usse PREM ho gaya hai

Ek din mujhe bhi Dahi Vade khaane ka mann nahi kiya, teen din baad pata chala ki mujhe Bunty se Prem ho gaya hai 🙂 (and bluntly blushing)
Bol ri! Kya naam hai unka?

Urmila:(sharmate hue) Lucky naam hai…

[Don’t worry if you don’t understand the dialog exchanged in Hindi above. The humor will be lost in translation.It doesn’t really impact the recipe or why you should make it. You should make this recipe to get a taste of India, regardless of movie scene that recommends it.]

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This is a classic scene ( copied from being desh blog) from a very popular oldie- goldie Hindi movie “GolMaal”. Its hilarious in its reasoning.

Dahi vada’s have been on my mind lately. At least since mom is here. And they always remind me of GolMaal.

There is a reason why these are not on the menu of any and every Indian restaurant that you have visited. Unlike Saag Paneer, Chole or Alu- Gobi, dahi vada’s are tricky, need a lot of patience and muscular strength.

The lightest,fluffiest melt in your mouth vadas are made solely by whipping the batter with your hands. Whip and whip till you feel that your arms are going to fall off. And then some.

Then this fluffy batter is deep-fried in hot oil.

Once golden brown, they are dunked in a buttermilk bath to soften the core and then immersed in cool tangy yogurt sauce. It is served with a variety of spices – cumin powder, red chilli powder and a tangy tamarind chutney.

But once made and chilled, they are these lightly puffy yogurt soaked lentil balls that you will fight  over.

One bowl or serving will never be enough. At least plan on 2 to 3 servings per person.

This is one recipe that is worth the effort. Every single time.

Here is mom’s recipe below.

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Dahi vada Recipe

For vadas 

  • 3/4 cup urad dal (black lentils)
  • 1/4 cup moong dal 
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger (optional)
  • Pinch of asafoetida (optional)

For buttermilk bath

  • 1/2 cup curd
  • 3 cups water
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon ginger paste

For the Dahi ( Spicy yogurt sauce)

  • 3 cups thick yogurt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons red chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

For garnish

  • Tamarind – date chutney (store-bought, to taste)
  • Green chutney (store-bought, to taste)
  • Finely chopped cilantro ( for garnish)

1. Wash both the urad and moong  dal well ( at least 7 – 8 times in plenty of water) till the water runs clear. It will be milky at first and then run clear.

Soak dal in plenty of water for at least 5-6 hours to overnight.

2. Discard water from the dal and finely grind it with as little water as possible. Set aside the dal batter for 1 – 2 hours.

3. In the meantime prepare the buttermilk bath. Whisk all the ingredients listed till you get a thin batter. Set aside in a large shallow bowl.

4. Heat oil in a wok on medium-high heat.

Add salt and ginger to the dal batter. Whisk the batter with hand for at least 10 minutes in a flat plate. Whisk and whisk some more till you feel the batter to be light and fluffy.

4. Fry small golf ball sized vadas in hot oil till golden brown. Test one vada to ensure that the vada is cooked evenly through the center. If not, lower the heat and cook till they are golden brown.

6. Soak the vadas in buttermilk bath for at least 2 hours. Remove the vadas from the buttermilk bath and keep aside covered. They can be kept at room temperature.

7. Prepare the yogurt sauce by missing all the ingredients and adjusting to taste. Keep the yogurt in the refrigerator to chill till ready to serve.

8. When ready to serve, layer the vadas in serving bowl. Pour the yogurt sauce over the vadas.

Garnish with chutneys and cilantro.

Serve with additional bowls of chutney, cilantro, cumin and chili powder to add per taste.

Savory Cornmeal Pancakes

Savory Cornmeal Pancakes

I am craving spicy food these days.

Pohe (flaked rice), spicy fish curry, chicken wings with hot sauce, spicy soups, curries and dal. The list is endless. Thanks to mom being here and her cooking; its easier to indulge in the spicier palate.

Yesterday, we made these cornmeal pancakes for breakfast. After routine of eggs, toast and oatmeal; they were a refreshing change.

Savory Cornmeal Pancakes

The pancakes themselves were not too spicy ( though you can kick up heat a notch if you will easily with more green chilli peppers) but with homemade pickle it sure did hit the right note. I suppose some garlic chutney would go well with it too.

I wanted to add grated zucchini or cucumber to them but we didn’t have any on hand so made them plain. This looks like a good vehicle to sneak in some veggies. I made a couple of small-sized ones for Varun. He ate the bits without cilantro so next time I will chop them super fine so he gets in his veggies for the day.

Savory Cornmeal Pancakes

Savory Cornmeal Pancakes Recipe

  • 1/2 cup corn meal
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4  teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup yogurt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 – 2 spring onions finely diced
  • 1 green chilli pepper finely diced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro finely chopped
  • 1  tablespoon oil

1. In a large bowl, mix  cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside

2. In another bowl, beat the egg with milk. Add yogurt and beat well so there are no lumps.

3. Add the milk-yogurt mixture to the flour mix. Add ginger, garlic, chilli pepper and cilantro. Mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings. Set aside for 10 – 15 minutes.

4. Heat oil in a non stick girdle. Ladle 1/4 cup of the mixture on to the girdle when hot. Cook on each side for a couple of minutes till golden brown.

Serve warm with sour cream, pickle or yogurt.

Healthy Veggie Loaded Artichoke Dip

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Need I say more?

Dips are something I cannot eat in moderation. Salsa’s and Hummus are ok. They can be had without restraint. Possibly some seven layer dips. But what about the warm cheesy dips? They are inviting and very scrumptious.

In restaurants, I manage to finish the dip as I eat it as is.

So much cheese can’t really be good for anyone in a single serving. But sometimes heart (or rather taste buds) don’t listen to your brain and then next think we know is that the dip bowl is empty! Now satisfaction kicks in. Later regret kicks in.

I needed something that was amazing to taste with no regrets.

That’s where a healthified artichoke Spinach dip came into picture.

Its full of veggies and using less cheese compared to traditional recipes. Thick Yogurt is what gives it extra creaminess and protein without the excess fat.

We topped it with finely diced bell pepper and ate them with veggies ( as well as multi grain toast fingers) for a filling afternoon snack.

It makes about 3 cups of dip and can be made ahead, frozen and then thawed before serving. We have a stash in our freeze for days when the baby arrives and we are hungry for “something fun/interesting”. It tastes yummy even as is out of the fridge.

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Healthy Veggie Loaded Artichoke Dip Recipe

Makes ~ 3 cups of dip

  • 1 can Artichoke hearts drained and coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and water removed
  • 1 cup milk , divided
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/2 Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 goat cheese
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup finely diced bell pepper and red onion ( for Garnish)

1.  In a skillet, add artichoke hearts, spinach, 1/2 cup milk, garlic, cumin seeds and paprika. Mix well and let cook for a few minutes on medium-low heat.

2. Stir in the parmesan cheese and let cook for another 2-3 minutes till the cheese melts and is incorporated in the mixture.  Lower the heat if necessary. Once cooked, let cool for a couple of minutes.

3. In the meantime, in a bowl, whip greek yogurt with goat cheese. Set aside.

4. Once the artichoke-spinach mixture is cooled, blend it till desired consistency. I like the dip to be smooth with some chunks of artichoke. Skip this step if you like the dip to be chunky.

5. Add the yogurt – goat cheese mixture to the artichoke mixture. Add salt. Mix well.

6. Top with bell pepper and red onions.

Serve immediately or freeze for later use.

Paneer Masala Toast

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I am in the last few weeks of pregnancy. In the home stretch. So far everything has been same as first pregnancy.

Except that since I am at home ( and pregnant and writing  food blog), I am hungry. A lot. All the time.

After breakfast. After lunch. And mostly immediately after dinner. Also especially around 4:00 pm.

I feel like a cow, grazing all day long.

Fed up with constantly raiding the fridge, I decided to make something more filling and scrumptious so that I could eat it again.

Paneer masala toast was born out of that necessity.

Hot buttered toast, spicy paneer spread on it and topped with cool crunchy tomatoes.

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I ate one. And decided to save one for Varun as he loves paneer. But it was so good that I made myself another one half an hour later. Gobbled it all up. Cleared it all up so there was no trace of it left.

I felt so bad ( for being a bad parent and not sharing it with Varun) and yet so good.

I have to make it again. In a bigger batch. And share with family. Because thats what home cooking and parenting is all about. Right? Right?

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Paneer Masala Toast Recipe

  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup fresh paneer crumbled ( use tofu instead of paneer)
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 serrano chili finely diced
  • 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
  • Pinch of Cumin powder, Corriander powder
  • Handful of cilantro leaves finely chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 slices of whole grain bread
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon pesto sauce
  • 2-4 slices of tomato

1. Heat oil in a skillet. Add cumin seeds once heated. As the seeds sizzle, add the chillies and red onion. Let the onion cook for a minute or so taking care not to burn it.

2. Add the spice powder and paneer. Add salt. Mix well.

3. Add cilantro leaves and let cook for another minute or so till the paneer is cooked. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Remove and keep aside in a bowl.

4. In the same skillet, heat tablespoon of butter. Grill bread slices in the buttered skillet. Flipping over once browned taking care not to char it.

5. Once the bread is grilled, spoon pesto sauce on one of the bread slices. Layer the paneer masala filling. Lay the tomato slices on top.

Cover with the other grilled bread. Press down with a spatula.

6. Remove from the skillet and cut in half.

Serve warm with ketchup and hot tea!

Cucumber Guacamole Sandwiches

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Don’t you feel hungry when you are at home all day?

It happens to me all the time. I want to nibble on something here and there. A bit of this and that. We have stocked up on a lot of fruits and veggies just so that Varun and I can snack healthy. Varun enjoys his fruits but not vegetables. I am trying to introduce veggies back in his diet.

Carrots with hummus, celery sticks with peanut butter, cucumber sandwiches is what I have planed for this week. Serving carrots in avocado boats filled with hummus or cheese and baby tomatoes as flower seems to make it more appealing for him. So far he has had carrots, cucumber and cheese but hasn’t touch the hummus or celery. Baby steps.

To make this more adult friendly and filling, I made cucumber sandwiches. A fresh take on using guacamole and cucumbers and making them into finger food. They are perfect with good fat, veggies and a satisfying crunch. Made ahead, they are perfect as appetizers or h’ordeuvres for a party.

Fresh home guacamole is always best ( no preservatives) but store-bought one can work in a pinch. Especially during these busy holiday weekends when we are trying to do multiple things – shop for gifts, deck the halls, setup the tree, bake, attend gatherings etc.

I had them with my cuppa yesterday and they kept me full till dinner.

Any variety of cucumber works though I think English would be lovely. Zucchini rounds work as an alternative.You can top the guacamole with nuts or smoked salmon or even tofu to make it more filling and for that added boost of protein and vitamins. I suppose goat cheese, finely diced sun-dried tomato and anchovies would make a festive party filling.

Give them a try today. You probably already have everything you need in your fridge already!

Cucumber Guacamole Sandwiches Recipe

  • 1/2 Cucumber or Zucchini sliced into rounds
  • 2 – 3 tablespoon pesto (optional)
  • 1 Ripe Avocado
  • 1/4 – 1/2 habernaro chilli pepper
  • 1/4 red onion thinly sliced
  • 1  – 2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Handful of fresh cilantro leaves finely chopped
  • Salt to taste

1. Slice the cucumber or zucchini and arrange on a platter. Smear wee bit of pesto on half of the round. You don’t want the pesto to overpower the taste but a bit enhances the flavors. Set aside.

2. Cut and de seed the avocado. Mash its pulp in a bowl. Add rest of the ingredients. Mix well. Taste and adjust salt and lemon juice per taste.

3. Add a dollop of guacamole on the pesto smeared rounds. Cover with remaining rounds.

Serve immediately.

Happy snacking.

Pistachio Scones

Pistachio scone

August is THE happening month in our family. Birthdays, warm weather ( when we were in Seattle), rainy season ( to cool things off in India), and not to mention festivals. Bonalu and Ramzan in Hyderabad in addition to the other festivals that typically are in August. I remember staying up all night with my friends for Gurupoornima listening to their homage to our music guru – different ragas for different phases of the night ending with Bhairavi in early morning . I recall the coconut barfis made by mom for the Narali Poornima. I feel nostalgic for the day of rakshaa bandhan when we all descended at my uncle’s home and tied rakhis.

And not to mention the monsoon trek with college friends to some waterfalls around Karjat area as well as family picnic to one of the lakes/waterfalls to enjoy more of the same.

This year, however, our august has been very quiet. Filled with illness, spiking fevers, coughs and colds, multiple doctor visits. Both Varun and I have been out of sorts for a while now and hence the lack of activity on the blog.

Today, after ages, it seems like we are doing well and hence I ventured to make some pistachio scones. The warm scones and their cardamom flavored aroma was to entice some appetite back and pistachios to give some much-needed fat to Varun.

This is a simple recipe. Very easy to put together and make. It’s an unusual scone in the sense it doesn’t have the usual fare – almonds or chocolate. It’s lightly sweetened and low fat.

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Pistachio Scones recipe

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoon butter ( at room temperature)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup pistachios chopped ( unsalted, toasted and shelled)

1. Preheat the oven to 180 C or 350 F

2. Add all the dry ingredients and mix well ( flour through cardamom powder).

3. In a separate bowl, cream the butter with sugar for couple of minutes. Add eggs and whisk for another couple of minutes.

4. Fold the butter-eggs mixture into the dry ingredients. Add pistachios. Mix well.

5. Form a log and bake for about 22 – 25 minutes till golden brown.

Let cool , slice and serve warm.

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