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.