Friday, August 31, 2007

Magic of Monsoon

Monsoon is the time I look forward to. It takes away the heat and makes the world look alive and beautiful. It is also a romanticized phenomenon; Bollywood movies thrive on this concept in almost all movies.

Personally, I love it when it rains. The cool breeze and relief from the heat that it delivers, the smell of earth that raises with the early rains, the beauty of the droplets are all a cause of joy. The dry earth turns wet and green in the season and looks pretty. Every year, people anticipate anxiously for the rains, and celebrate when it arrives. I love to travel during the Monsoon season. Its similar to chasing the monsoon. I will write about that in my next entry.

Most of India has a limited season in a year when it rains - primarily between June and September. In this season, rain clouds are carried in from the Indian Ocean by a seasonal wind called 'monsoon'.

Monsoon brings with it cravings for hot, spicy, fried food. The lovely rainy weather (which makes you creep under a blanket with a book in hand, music, and some thing to nibble) encourages to try some spicy hot recipes. Rain and Corn (especially ‘Bhutta’-Corn on the Cob) go hand in hand. The fresh smell of the mud when it rains urges you to eat something steaming hot with a hot cup of Chai (tea). But an excellent combination is Rain and Chaats. The thought itself makes my mouth water. Chaats do have many high caloric ingredients like sev, puris, farsan, fried potatoes, etc. But they also have a balancing amount of nutritious ingredients like cucumbers, boiled potatoes, tomatos, coriander, etc.

Sharing few of my favorite chaat recpies with you:

Ragda patties


For patties:
1/2 kg boiled and mashed potatoes
2-3 bread slices (for crispness) (you can substitute this with rice flour or corn flour)
salt to taste.

For ragda:
1/2 kg of white peas
turmeric powder
ginger-garlic paste (1 tsp each)
chili powder, salt
1 onion
2 tomato's (optional)
2 tsp garam masala,

For sweet chutney:
1/2 cup pulp of dates (soak dates in hot water for 1/2 an hour, deseed and grind them. Strain to get a smooth paste)
1/4 cup tamarind pulp
1/4 cup jaggery or sugar

For spicy chutney:
coriander leaves
green chilies (amount varies as per the taste)
a pinch of salt.
1 tsp cumin seeds.

For garnishing
Yellow thin sev,
finely chopped coriander leaves,
finely chopped onions,
crushed puris of pani puri(optional).

  1. Soak the white peas overnight. Or if you are in hurry, soak them for 4 hours in hot water. Wash and add some salt and water. Pressure cook till soft.
  2. Dip bread slices in water for just a moment and squeeze them to remove excess water. Mix them with mashed potatoes and add salt. Make small balls of the mixture and flatten them.
  3. Heat a griddle. Pour some oil. Arrange the patties on the heated griddle. Turn upside down once the bottom side of patties is brown. Shallow fry all the patties till brown and crisp.
  4. Chop onions and tomatoes.
  5. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan. add onion pieces, saute for a minute. Then add tomatoes, ginger-garlic paste and fry for some time.
  6. Now add boiled peas, chili powder, salt and some water for desired consistency. cover and cook for 10 minutes. Ragda is ready.
  7. Grind all the ingredients of sweet chutney with some water into a fine paste. In the same way, make spicy chutney.
  8. To serve, arrange patties in a dish, pour some ragda on top. Add sweet chutney and spicy chutney.
  9. Garnish with thin sev, coriander leaves, onions and crushed puris.
Bhel puri

1 packet of flat crispy puris
500 gms puffed rice (kurmura/murmura - available in Indian groceries)
125-250 gms plain sev (Indian fried snack, looks like noodles)
2 teaspoon chat masala
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 potatoes (boiled)
1 big red onion
1/2 bunch coriander leaves
Lemon juice or raw mango (chopped)
salt to taste

Spicy chutney
1/2 bunch coriander leaves
1/2 bunch mint leaves
2 big garlic cloves
10-12 green chilies
Grind all the above items to make a fine paste. Add some water for pourable consistency.

Sweet chutney
1/2 cup pulp of dates (soak dates in hot water for 1/2 an hour , grind them in a mixer and strain)
1/4 cup tamarind pulp
1 tbsp jaggery or sugar
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin seeds
Using some water, grind together all the above items

  1. Prepare the spicy and sweet chutneys.
  2. Mix together puffed rice and sev. Add chat masala, salt and chili powder.
  3. Chop onion and raw mango finely. Dice potatoes. Chop coriander leaves.
  4. Add onions, raw mango pieces (or lemon juice), potatoes and coriander leaves to the puffed rice and sev mixture and mix gently with the hands.
  5. While serving, add spicy chutney and sweet chutney into the above mixture. Put some mixture in individual plates, top with some more sev and chutneys (if desired). Garnish with coriander leaves. Serve with crunchy puris.
Corn Sev Puri (a healthy version)

½ cup whole wheat flour (gehun ka atta)
1 teaspoon oil
¼ teaspoon salt

To be mixed together into a corn topping
1 cup yellow corn kernels, boiled
1 cup spring onion, chopped
2 green chillies, finely chopped
½ cup tomato, finely chopped
1 teaspoon chaat masala
2 teaspoons lemon juice
salt to taste

For the tamatar ki chutney
2 medium sized tomatoes
¼ teaspoon ajwain (carom seeds)
a pinch asafoetida (hing)
½ teaspoon garlic, grated
½ teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon oil

Other ingredients:
1 cup sev
¼ cup fresh pomegranate (anar)
2 tablespoons chopped coriander

For the baked papdis
  1. Mix the flour, oil and salt. Add water and knead into a firm dough. Knead for a 2 minutes and keep aside. Divide the dough into 24 portions.
  2. Roll out into thin puris and prick with a fork. Arrange the puris on a lightly greased baking tray.
  3. Bake in a hot oven at 200°C (400°F) for 10 minutes.

For the tamatar ki chutney
  1. Blanch the tomatoes in hot water. Peel and purée in a liquidiser.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan, add the ajwain and asafoetida and sauté for 30 seconds.
  3. Add the garlic and sauté for a few seconds.
  4. Add the tomatoes, chilli powder and salt and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or till the oil has separated. Cool and use as required.

  1. Arrange the papadis on a serving plate.
  2. Top each papadi with 1 teaspoon of the corn topping.
  3. Put 1 teaspoon of the tamatar ki chutney on each papadi and garnish with the sev, pomegranate chopped coriander.
  4. Serve immediately.
Pani puri


1 packet of puris ( available in Indian groceries)
1 packet pani puri masala ( available in Indian groceries)

For the filling
1. Moong sprouts: Heat some oil in a pan. Add moong sprouts and add little amount of water. Cover and cook till they are done.
2. Ragda
2 medium Potatoes

Sweet chutney
1/2 cup pulp of dates (soak dates in hot water for 1/2 an hour , grind them in a mixer & strain), 1/4 cup tamarind pulp, 1/4 cup jaggery or sugar, 1 tsp cumin seeds.
Grind together all these items.

Spicy chutney
1/2 cup coriander leaves, 12-15 green chilies, a pinch of salt.
Grind together all these items.

  1. First prepare the filling of moong sprouts or Ragda.
  2. Add some water to Pani puri Masala or as per the instructions on the packet. Boil and let it cool. You can keep it in refrigerator for some time.
  3. To serve, arrange puris in a dish. Put some filling into these puris. Add chutneys & Masala pani as per your taste and enjoy.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Blogging Personality!

Your Blogging Type is Pensive and Philosophical

You blog like no one else is reading...
You tend to use your blog to explore ideas - often in long winded prose.
Easy going and flexible, you tend to befriend other bloggers easily.
But if they disagree with once too much, you'll pull them from your blogroll!

Personality Traits Revealed by Masala Dosa!

An interesting email was forwarded by my friend (thanks Jalaja). I knew that there are numerous ways of knowing personality traits of an individual. This email from my friend was an an eye opener. Even a simple masala dosa and how you eat it can reveal your personality. Gosh! but how much of this is true.

I am person who's eating habits vary as my mood. My approach to food and the way I eat my food in my mood swings varies drastically. As you read on, you will discover that the way you eat your masala dosa revels some traits of your personality...

Case 1: Individuals who open the masala dosa and eat it: These individuals are very open about their life. Everyone knows all about the person. I have generally seen guys do this rather than girls. Some people think that it is a gross way of eating but in truth, these people are just portraying who they are and how their life is.

Case 2: Individuals who start from both end and approach the masala later: These individuals like to wait for the exiting things to come to their life. Sadly when the times comes, they are not too interested or just do not know how to enjoy it to the fullest. These are the folks who just want life as either dry or exiting. They just do not know how to phase their life and enjoy it no matter what. There are two types of people within this group

  • Case 2.1: Individuals who do not finish all the masala: These folks just do not care as much for the fun times as they are already bogged down by the harsh reality of life. The dry periods in their life has left them with so much scars that they do not want to be really happy when the time is right. They just take only as much as they needed and end their life. A very sorry state indeed.

  • Case 2.2: Individuals who finish all the masala with the little dosa they have: These are the folks who just are in the extremes. They just go all out in life. No matter whether it is dark or bright. They may not enjoy life to the fullest but they sure make sure that they get every single good and bad thing out of life. Sometimes these folks are really hard to get along with. They are either your best friends or your worst enemies. They do not have a middle path at all.

Case 3: Individuals who start from the middle and proceed to both ends: These are the people who like to get right to what they think is their best part of life. Usually these guys finish of the good portions in a hurry and get stuck with nothing but worst parts of their life. The thing to note among these people is that the tendency to burn out very early in their life. Like the above case, there are two kinds of people in this group too.

  • Case 3.1: Individuals who do not finish the dosa: These folks are really the saddest of people. They are the ones who tend to end their life as soon as it hits the bad patch. For them, they only need and want the best things in life and nothing more. Typically, they are not prepared or tuned to life as a whole. They just want to enjoy from first till last. Sadly, no one in the world can live without even an ounce of sadness in life. Not even the richest of the richest. But to self destruct at the mere sign of distress is very bad. That is what these guys tend to do. Some learn to live life but most of them do not.

  • Case 3.1: Individuals who do finish the dosa: These folks are the typical human beings. We all enjoy the greatest of times in life and push the sad parts thinking about the great times in life. Typically the plate is clean and nothing is left for fate or in life. Happiness and sadness are part of life and these guys know that and are kind of prepared for it. Life is not always happy but there are moments of happiness here and there.

Case 4: Individuals who eat the dosa making sure that the masala lasts for the whole dosa: These people are very rare. These are the people who like to attain balance in their life. It is hard to displease these people and it is hard to make them really happy. They like their balance and are very protective of it. Sadly these are the people who tend to be lonely as anyone else may upset the balance of their system. Perfectionist to the core and are very careful. These guys do not make the best company but are needed in any group to make the group from going hay wire.

Case 5: Individuals who do not share and eat the dosa as if it is precious: These folks are very protective about their life. They do not want anyone to come and interfere in their life. They like to hide their true nature and intensions for their benefit. Beware of such people as they are in every group for their own need and nothing else.

Case 6: Individuals who offer their first bite to others: These guys are overly friendly. They do anything to be part of a group and make everyone feel like the group is important than the individuals. They are the glue that holds any group together. They are very friendly and bring the best of all the others in the group. They go out of their way to help other friends. Most groups should have a person like this and they are the ones who plan the group outings and other group activities. Once this person is out of the group, typically the group slowly falls apart.

Case 7: Individuals who take one or two bites and then offer the dosa to others: These guys care about friends and friendship but they take their time to get into the group. They take their time in making friends and they typically are very committed once into the friendship. These guys like to always be in the side lines and typically do not jump into anything in life. They always take their time to analyze the situation and then make a decision. These guys take the better safe than sorry approach.

Case 8: Individuals who wait for others to make the offer first: Typical people I must say. They are unsure about everything. Even if they wanted to offer, they will wait till the other person offers the food first. If the other person is silent, so are these people. They are the followers. They do terrific idea, they will pitch it to someone else and get their advice before proceeding. Sadly, most of the elderly world like these types of people.

Case 9: Individuals who offer dosa only when they cannot finish it on their own: You all may be familiar with these kinds of people. People who are very generous only when all their needs are fulfilled. These folks are selfish but at the same time not misers or greedy. They just want to satisfy themselves before they give it to the world. They typically do not stuff themselves nor do they tend to starve. They are very good people who would give you the best of advises in life. They would make sure that you are not sad following their advice.

Case 10: Individuals who offer the whole dosa and eat from others plates: These folks are other extreme. They know what they want, they get what they want but they cannot enjoy what they want. Instead they tend to settle for other things in life which satisfies the needs but does not satisfy the person completely. These guys are termed as born losers cause even when they have the thing they wanted, they can't stop others from stealing it from them.

So, next time you are out with someone and you decide to eat malasa dosa watch out ! Also, look closely and see if that person falls into one of the above categories.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

For all who love Muffins...

Muffins (history about Muffins) or Cupcakes are my favorites. They are quick to make, hassle free, and good for a quick afternoon tea snack or for morning breakfast. Also, check out Muffins Films, which hosts short films about muffins. Delicious animation! One of America's most remembered progressive music bands, named their band "The Muffins". website has a huge collection of American-style muffins recipes.

Here's one of my favorite muffin recipe: Banana Chocolate Chip Muffin

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/3 brown sugar
2/3 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons milk
1 cup ripe bananas, mashed (about two smaller bananas)
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

  1. In a bowl, mix the flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. In another bowl, mash the bananas.
  2. Whisk two large eggs and add those to the bananas. Add the oil, milk, brown sugar, and sour cream. Blend well. Stir in the nuts and chocolate chips.
  3. With a spatula, mix the dry ingredients into the liquid mixture. Stir until just combined. Spoon the batter into greased muffin tins.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes. Let the muffins sit in the tins for a few minutes and then remove them to wire racks to cool.
Note: Makes about 9 or 10 muffins.