It is easy to adopt vegetables of foren places to the tried and tested, centuries-old culinary traditions of India. Gently simmered in dal or steam-sauteed in subjis, surrounded by complimentary spice seasoning, Indian recipes highlight vegetables’ inherently good nature without suffocating them with artificial flavors. Example is the following recipe. Here, in this Marathi based, rural popular Zunka recipe, zucchini is quickly stir-fried and seasoned with nutritious besan flour to a vibrant and crisp-cooked end result. I remember an old Bharat saying – “select your ingredients as if they were your future daughter-in-law”. Here it definitely applies and it’s jai ho to zunka when zucchini does not well up with loads of tears at the touch of heat. Yellow is the best for that reason and that’s why I planted yellow zucchini. But if you make it with green, pick young and firm-fleshed green zucchinis for this recipe.
(for two meals)
2, young and fresh yellow zucchini
1 red onion or shallot
1/4 cup besan flour
2 garlic cloves
2 dried, red chillies
1 tablespoon, grated dried coconut
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
For tadka: from masala dabba, a pinch each cumin and mustard seeds, few curry leaves and a tablespoon of peanut oil
1: Cut yellow zucchinis to bite-sized pieces. (For young zucchini, skin tend to be thin, so don’t peel the skin.) Finely chop onion to small pieces.
Take besan, garlic, dried red chilli and coconut in a mixer or mortar. Add a pinch of salt and grind the ingredients to fine mix.
Now the prep work is done and on with cooking.
2: Place a cast iron skillet on stove-top. Add and heat oil. When oil is hot, add curry leaves, cumin and mustard seeds and toast to fragrance for couple of seconds. Add onion and saute to soft. Add zucchini pieces and stir-fry over medium high heat for about five minutes until almost cooked but still crisp.
3: Sprinkle the besan mix, salt and turmeric. Turn up the heat slightly and saute for about two minutes. Scoop into a bowl and serve the zucchini zunka warm with chapati or sorghum roti.
Zucchini Zunka ~ for Meal Yesterday
Snow Day in Houston
We never thought snow would follow us to Houston. We really thought we left snow back in Pittsburgh and in Seattle. But we were wrong. Like a dear dream of deep sleep, though it took some time, it found us here in Houston. We had beautiful snow scenery last Friday and early Saturday mornings. Thick white snow covered homes, lawns and neighborhood roads on Friday, cold crisp sunny morning on Saturday. It seemed like the weather followed us to bring all the beautiful memories from yester-years.
That rare occasion called for a culinary celebration. A cold quiet weekend needed something that would warm and spice up the time. That is why we made Nippattu: a popular snack of Andhra and south India that is crunchy and moderately hot.
Nippattu (Pappu Chekka)
(makes about 20 to 25 palm-sized Nippattu)
2 cups, rice flour (Biyyam Pindi)
1/4 cup, besan flour (Sanaga Pindi)
1/4 cup, finely chopped fresh curry leaves
2 tablespoons each- rehydrated chana dal & roasted peanuts
1 tablespoon, coarsely ground green chilli
1 tablespoon, ghee
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon each- cumin, ajwan and sesame seeds
Take the flours into a large bowl. Add all the other ingredients and mix well. Work the softened ghee into the mix and add just enough water to make a firm dough.
Tear out small portion of dough and place it on a wax paper. Flatten it a bit and using your fingers, spread out the nippattu in a circle until it is about 2 to 3 inches in diameter. Nippattu come in all sizes and shapes, so don’t worry about the perfect shape.
Heat oil in a pan, suitable to deep-frying. Add the nippattu gently into hot oil and deep fry to pale gold. Remove to paper-covered tray. Make all the Nippattu this way.
Cool and store. Nippattu stay fresh upto a month or more when stored in a airtight container. They make best tea, coffee and movie time snack.
Nippattu with Tea ~ A Savory Snack on a Snow Day
© Recipe and Photos Copyright 2009 Indira Singari.
It is unusually cold here in Houston for the past one week. As soon as the cool weather sets in, it’s only natural to crave something garama garam. Isn’t it? So, I made some cabbage pakodas this evening with the shredded cabbage I saved from last week’s 5c=A+ equation. Preparation of pakodas was easy compared to the procrastination I went through since morning. Diving into deep-frying is still a difficult process, requires deep thought and doesn’t always happen on demand at my home. After some in depth dawdling:), the decision was made for a happy heart. Garama garam cabbage pakodas and cardamom tea on this cool fall evening.
Shredded Cabbage In Besan Flour
(for about 25 medium-sized pakodas)
2 cups of shredded cabbage (coleslaw mix from grocery also works)
2 cups besan (chickpea flour)
1/4 cup rice flour
1/4 teaspoon ajwan (vaamu) (helps with the digestion)
1/2 teaspoon each – salt and red chilli powder
A pinch of baking soda
3/4 cup water
Peanut oil for deep-frying
Take the besan, rice flour, salt, chilli powder, ajwan and baking soda into a bowl. Mix well. Add the shredded cabbage and gently toss to cover the cabbage with besan flour mix. Slowly add water, mixing as you go, to make a batter of thick consistency.
Pour about 2 cups of peanut oil in a large frying pan and set the pan over high heat. When the oil is frying hot, pick up a handful of cabbage mixture from the bowl and gently drop the batter into oil in small portions. Fill the pan until there is no more space. Fry the pakodas, turning frequently until they are reddish brown and crisp, for about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and place the pakodas on a paper towel covered tray to drain. Make the pakodas till the batter is finished.
Serve the cabbage pakodas hot with some tea or coffee for a tasty snack, or with some savory chutney as a part of a meal. They are best when eaten as soon as they are made.
Cabbage Pakodas to Warm up a Autumn Evening
© Recipe and Photos Copyright 2009 Indira Singari.
Friends. We know what they will bring to the table. Joy, substance or seriousness. Like we need shadruchulu, they each meet a need. When it comes to vegetable friends, I know exactly what will potlakaaya bring to the table. A beatific bajji. Traditional Andhra food, prepared during festival celebratory meals, potlakaaya bajjis make a great snack item. With a tad of unique potlakaaya sweetness and aroma, they make tasty bajjis. Give it a try when you find this vegetable on your trip to Indian grocery.
Potlakaaya ………………….Potlakaaya Rounds for Bajjis
The recipe is for 12-inch long potlakaaya. Makes about 30 bajjis.
Potlakaaya – 12-inch length
Besan (gram flour) – 1-cup
Rice flour – quarter cup
Red chilli powder and salt – half teaspoon each
Baking Soda – a pinch
Peanut or Sunflower oil for deep-frying – about two to three cups
Prepare Potlakaaya: Pick a firm and fresh looking potlakaaya for bajjis. Wash the potlakaaya. Cut and remove the ends. With a sharp knife, cut the body into rounds about quarter inch thick like shown in the photo above.
Prepare Besan Batter: In a vessel, take about a cup of besan. Add quarter cup of rice flour, a pinch of baking soda and half teaspoon each – salt and red chilli powder. Mix thoroughly. Make a well in the flour. Add quarter to half cup of water. Using a whisk or hand, adding water if required, make a thin and smooth batter free of lumps.
Prepare bajjis: Heat about three cups of oil in a deep skillet. When oil becomes hot, dip the potlakaaya rounds into besan batter. Drop them gently into hot oil one after another. Deep fry to crisp.
Enjoy this traditional Andhra snack hot. Great on its own or with rice and daal/sambar/curd combinations.
A Portrait of Potlakaaya Bajji ~ for Ugadi