Sago Fritters

These sago fritters disappear fast. Crisp on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside, they are great as appetizers or a tea time snack.

These fritters are called vadas in India and they are made for special occasions and during festival times. It is made as an offering to the deity along with other sweets and fruits. There are many types of vadas and India being such a diverse culture, each region boasts of their own type of vadas. And there is no one recipe for each type of vada. The same thing may be made differently in each home.

It’s better to use the whole lentil for this vada but the split lentils can also be used.

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The most important thing is to grind the dal with only a few tablespoons of water. The mixture has to be thick. It’s also very important to make the fritters immediately after grinding the dal. It can be eaten plain or served with coconut chutney.

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This recipe makes around 40 fritters approximately.

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PREP: 2 hours COOK TIME: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 11/2 cups whole black gram lentils (urad dal)
  • ½ cup sago
  • 2-3 green chillies, minced
  • ¼ cup curry leaves, chopped finely
  • 2 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped finely
  • 3 tbsp fresh coriander. Chopped finely
  • Salt to taste
  • Vegetable oil

Instructions

Wash and soak the lentils for two hours. Wash and soak the sago for one hour.

Drain the lentils and grind with only about 2 tablespoons of water into a thick paste. Add salt and set aside.

Drain the sago and set aside.

Add the chopped green chillies, curry leaves, ginger and coriander to the ground mixture and mix gently. Add the sago and mix well.

Heat the vegetable oil until it is very hot. Drop a little of the mixture into the oil to check if it starts to cook and change colour. Make small balls of the dough with wet hands and drop them gently into the oil a few at a time. When they turn golden brown, flip them over and cook on the other side as well. Drain on absorbent paper and repeat until all the mixture has been used up. Serve hot.

Black Eyed Beans and Coconut Milk Curry

The cuisine of Kerala is very unique – some dishes are fiery while others are very delicately flavoured like this curry. Most of the recipes have coconut in them, in some form or the other. This dish is called Olan and is traditionally prepared with pumpkin. But you can use any vegetable – I added green beans to this curry.

Coconut oil is the preferred oil for cooking in this region. This dish is very nutritious and easy to prepare. It goes well with steamed rice, chapatis or any other type of flatbread.

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PREP: 10 minutes COOK TIME: 40 minutes SERVES: 4

Ingredients

  • 3/4th cup black eyed beans
  • 1 cup green beans
  • 3 green chillies, slit lengthwise
  • 11/2 cups coconut milk
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp rice flour mixed with 2-3 tbsp of water
  • Salt to taste

For the tempering

  • 3 tsp coconut oil
  • ½ tsp black mustard seeds
  • 4 shallots, sliced thinly
  • Curry leaves

Soak the black eyed beans overnight. Wash and pressure cook with three cups of water.

Top and tail the green beans and cut them into one inch pieces.

Cook the green beans, green chillies, cumin and salt together in a pan with one cup of water. When the beans are tender, add the cooked black eyed beans and ½ cup of the coconut milk. Cook for 5 minutes on low heat. Add the rice flour mixed with water and simmer for a few more minutes.

Add the remaining coconut milk and heat for a few minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Heat the coconut oil in a small pan. Add the mustard seeds. When they stop popping add the shallots and cook for a few minutes. Add the curry leaves and remove immediately from the heat. Add this to the curry. Serve hot.

Madras Omelette

Every country has their own version of the omelette – the Italians have their frittata, the Spanish omelette is very popular, etc. India has it’s own version too and it differs slightly from region to region. Everybody has their own spin on it.

The recipe featured here is the one my family has been making for years. It’s extremely flavourful with the addition of the herbs and onions. I also like to add curry leaves in a lot of my cooking as it’s very good for health.

Some people add the onions and chillies raw, but I find that sauteing it in a little vegetable oil takes it to the next level. It’s tastier this way.

It’s so easy to make and makes for a really satisfying breakfast.

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PREP: 10 minutes COOK TIME: 10 minutes Serves: 2

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 green chillies, chopped finely
  • 1 tbsp ginger, grated
  • 2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped finely
  • Handful of curry leaves, chopped finely
  • Salt to taste
  • Vegetable oil

Instructions

Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a small pan and add the onions, chillies and ginger. Saute for a few minutes until the onions are just cooked. Add the herbs and salt and mix well. Remove from heat and set aside to cool for 10-15 minutes.

Add the onion mixture to the beaten eggs. Heat a frying pan, add about two ladles of the egg mixture and spread it around the pan. Add a little oil around the edges. When the omelette is half cooked, fold about a third of the omelette into the centre. Do the same with the remaining one third. Flip the omelette over and cook until both sides are golden and the inside is cooked through. Serve hot with toast.

Mixed Lentil Pancakes

This is a complete balanced nutritious meal by itself. It’s also vegan, like many vegetarian dishes in India and really delicious.

Lentils contain lysine while rice contains sulphur based amino acids missing in lentils. Therefore, a combination of rice and lentils makes it a complete protein, supplying the body with the essential amino acids that it requires. In fact, rice and dal is a great food for weight loss.

The Indian word for this preparation is called ‘Adai’. The mixture has to be very thick and it should not be ground fine – rather like semolina. The mixture should not easily fall off the spoon. And the pancakes are quite thick. It will take some time to cook through and hence the heat should be low.

I have included the Indian names of the lentils also, in case you want to purchase them from an Indian grocery store.

The best accompaniment for this is the coconut chutney that I had shared earlier with the Split Mung Pancakes. It’s best to have this for breakfast (if you have the time to soak the lentils) or for lunch. I like them golden brown at the edges and on the inside. The addition of raw rice makes them crunchy.

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PREP: 11/2 hours+10 minutes COOK TIME: 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw rice
  • 1 cup boiled rice
  • ½ cup split pigeon peas (Toor dal)
  • ½ cup yellow split peas (Channa dal)
  • ½ cup split black gram dal (Urad dal)
  • ¼ cup split mung dal (Mung dal)
  • 10 dry red chillis
  • 1 tsp asafoetida powder
  • 3 tbsp curry leaves
  • 2 tbsp cumin seeds
  • Salt to taste
  • Vegetable oil

Instructions

Wash the rice and lentils. Soak the raw rice, boiled rice, pigeon peas, chickpeas and black gram dal with just enough water to cover them for 11/2 hours.

Soak the split mung dal separately in a little water.

Grind the rice and dal mixture with the red chillies, asafoetida, curry leaves and cumin to a coarse paste. Do not add too much water. Add the soaked mung and salt. Mix well.

Heat a frying pan and spoon about a cup of the batter. Spread it into a thick pancake – the batter will be difficult to spread. It cannot be spread thin. Use a little vegetable oil to pour around the edges and cover the pancake. When the edges are golden brown, flip the pancake and cook on the other side until it turns golden brown. Serve hot with coconut chutney. This recipe makes about 8–10 pancakes.

Semolina Pudding

A very light and tasty pudding – this pudding is very easy to make. It’s called kheer/payasam in India. There are many varieties of this which can be made with sago, vermicelli, nuts and even bread. Most of them are milk based and it usually accompanies a traditional lunch or dinner.

Most Indian desserts have cardamom, saffron, nuts and raisins. This pudding also has edible camphor. A very little of it goes a long way. The taste that this camphor imparts to Indian sweets is very unique.

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PREP: 10 minutes COOK TIME: 30 minutes SERVES: 6

Ingredients

  • !/2 cup semolina
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups milk
  • ¼ cup cashewnuts
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • 1 tsp cardamom powder
  • A small pinch of edible camphor
  • ¼ cup+6 tbsp ghee
  • A few strands of saffron (optional)

Instructions

Heat a large wok or pan and add the 6 tbsp ghee. When it melts, add the semolina and saute it until it just starts to change colour. Do not allow it to brown. Remove from heat and set aside.

Heat the remaining ghee in a small pan and add the cashewnuts. When they turn a light golden brown, add the raisins. When the raisins swell up, remove immediately and set aside.

If using saffron, take the strands in a small cup and pour about 1 tablespoon of hot water or milk on it. Using the back of a spoon, press the strands until the colour oozes out. Set aside.

In a large pan, heat the sugar and milk. Stir until the sugar has melted. When it starts boiling, reduce the heat to simmer and add the fried semolina very gradually, stirring all the while. Do not allow it to form lumps. Cover and cook until the semolina is soft. Add the cardamom powder, saffron (if using) and the fried nuts and raisins. Remove from heat and cool. If it becomes too thick, you can add some more milk. I added another cup of milk and a little extra sugar. This can be served hot or cold.

Sweet Coconut Dumplings

These rice flour dumplings or ‘modaks’ as they are called in India are specially made during the Ganesh festival. There are many fillings that can be made, both sweet and savoury. However, they taste so good that I make it often. The one featured here contains coconut and jaggery.

Jaggery is a traditional cane sugar consumed in India. It is loaded with antioxidants and minerals, contains iron and folate, activates the digestive enzymes and acts as a detox.

The most important thing is to knead and portion the rice flour when it is hot and the dough should be kept covered with a damp cloth until all the dumplings are formed and is ready for the steamer. Rice flour from an Indian grocery store will be ideal for these dumplings.

The mould for the dumplings is available on Amazon. You can also roll it out into a circle and fold into a semi-circle after the filling is placed. Use a little water to dampen the edges and seal the edges with a pizza cutter.

This recipe makes about 20 dumplings.

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PREP: 1 hour COOK TIME: 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups rice flour
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp ghee
  • 1 tsp salt

Filling

  • 2 cups coconut, grated
  • 1 cup jaggery
  • 1 tsp cardamom powder
  • 2 tbsp water

Instructions

Heat the jaggery with the water in a pan and stir until the sugar dissolves. Strain the liquid and put it back on the heat. When the mixture begins to boil and becomes frothy, add the grated coconut and stir until the water is absorbed and the filling becomes sticky. Add the cardamom powder and set aside to cool.

To make the rice flour covering, bring the two cups of water, salt and ghee to a rolling boil. Remove from heat and add the rice flour. Mix well. Cover and set aside to cool for about 10-15 minutes. The mixture will be crumbly. When the mixture is still hot, knead it until you have a smooth dough, using a little water if necessary. Divide it into 20 portions, rolling each portion into a ball. Cover with a damp cloth.

Oil the mould with a little ghee and stuff the rice ball into it. Spread it around the mould evenly and allow some of the dough to stick out of the mould. Place a tablespoon of the coconut stuffing inside. Seal the dumpling with the extra dough that is available. Make all the dumplings in the same manner, keeping the dough and the dumplings covered with a damp cloth until they are ready to be steamed.

Bring water to a boil and place the dumplings in a steamer for 10 minutes. Remove the steamer from the heat and let the dumplings sit for a while before taking them out of the steamer. Enjoy!