Puffed Rice Candy

Puffed rice balls is a healthy snack to keep at home for when the hunger pangs strike. There is hardly any fat in the candy and the jaggery substitute for sugar makes it healthy too.

Ingredients

2 cups Puffed Rice (laayi/murmura)

3/4 cup grated Jaggery (gur)

1 tsp Ghee (unsalted butter)

Puffed Rice Candy

Put a skillet on the gas so it is quite hot. Add the puffed rice and keep folding continuously till they are crisp and slightly browned. Remove from skilled and keep aside.

Add the grated jaggery to the skilled and bring to a boil. Simmer till you achieve a two string consistency.

Remove from gas. Immediately add the prepared puffed rice and mix till it is completely coated with jaggery.

The mixture will cool fast as you mix. So shape 1 inch diameter balls with your hands. Let it cool and store in an air-tight box.

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Chinese Night – Veg Fried Rice & Veg Manchurian

I just love love love Chinese food. My favourite dishes are Veg Fried Rice with Gobhi Manchurian. When I am stressed or happy or just plain bored with cooking, I order these two dishes. When I go out, I always order these two dishes if I can have my way. Everytime I look at a menu, I try to find them. You can say I am obsessed with them. So when hubby suggested making them at home, cos you know, you can’t get them the way they make it at Hotel Mathus, Chennai (the staff came to know me by first name as being their most regular client with the set meal plan), I turned to Tarla Dalal for help.

Tarla Dalal is a very famous Indian cookbook author with scores of books catering to all types of Indian vegetarian cuisines under her belt. Her recipes are to the point without too many big words or difficult techniques. The best thing I like about them is the ingredient measurements are accurately mentioned and easily available. It is very easy to imitate the recipes and create the dishes at home.

Veg Fried Rice served with Veg Manchurian

I modified the recipes a little bit by using not too much capsicum, no celery and definitely no Ajinomoto in Vegetable Fried Rice. Instead of Gobhi Manchurian, I made Vegetable Manchurian (no Ajinomoto again, of course). Also, the preparation of Chinese Rice mentioned on the website makes the rice quickly and keeps it au dente with all the grains separated.

The salt content in my Veg Manchurian balls was a little high and my gravy was a little runny but I will definitely try it again. Gets a thumbs up from hubby too J

Chooda – The ultimate comfort food

It has been so sunny here in London for the past few days and quite pleasant. However, there was a heavy downpour yesterday out of the blue and it reminded me of monsoons in India. When it pours continuously the whole day, it gets really cold and there is nothing you want more than family and friends around you and hot sweet tea with something savoury to munch. Hubby was at office so I decided to make the most basic Indian comfort food with the ultimate munch factor, chooda. No matter which part of India you go to, it exists and rules. The way of preparation might be different and the ingredients might be native to the region, but you can always find some stocked in air tight boxes in the store room.

Mom used to pack some homemade chooda (prepared according to my specifications of course) when I would leave for college after my vacations. MIL has her own way of making it. The beauty is you can mould it according to your own tastes. Despite so many varieties, unfortunately, I could not find any of the recipes on any of the food blogs. Hopefully this article will be able to guide chooda enthusiasts in the right direction.

Basically, you can make chooda as rich as you like or as diet oriented as you like. I have chosen the middle path here. There is very little oil but a lot of crunchy bits and pieces in it. Before diving into the ingredient list, you need a huge air tight container first. Go for a 5 litre one atleast as the prepared ingredients expand in size and take up more space. I used a 7 litre box and believe me, it got full by the time I was over with the dish.

Ingredients

250 g pohe (beaten rice)

200 g layi (puffed rice)

½ cup red peanuts with skins

2 tbsp dalwa or chana dal

15 whole almond

15 whole cashewnuts

1 cup coriander leaves, chopped

Turmeric powder

Table Salt

Black Salt

Red chilli powder

2 whole red chillies

4-5 tbsp Sugar

2 tbsp mustard seeds

Chaat masala (optional)

Oil

Chooda served in little cones for a trip down memory lane

Heat a large wok and spread 1 tbsp oil in it so it coats the inside evenly. Wait till the wok is hot. Turn down the heat and put in 2 cup pohe. Use two wooden spoons to fold the pohe like you would fold noodles. This prevents the pohe from breaking and coats them with oil evenly. Cook till pohe are crisp. Transfer to a the large container. Repeat the process till all pohe is prepared.

Spoon in 1 tbsp of oil and add 2 tsp turmeric powder. Mix and put in 2 cups of laayi. Again fold in as you did for pohe. The difference this time is that the laayi will not only become crisp but also get a lovely yellow color. Make sure the laayi is evenly yellow all over. You can make pohe also yellow like this. Repeat the process you used for pohe till all laayi is prepared. Transfer to the same container as pohe.

Add 1 tbsp oil in the same wok and roast the peanuts in it. Transfer to the container. Repeat the process with dalwa. You can also add roasted chana.

Break the cashewnuts into halves. Add 1 tsp oil in the same wok and roast them till light pink.  Transfer to the container. Repeat the process with almonds. Another ingredient you can use is slivered dry coconut.

Break off the leaves of coriander and chop them. Roast them in 1 tbsp oil till crispy. This gives a lovely colour to the chooda. You can also use curry leaves in its place.

Heat two tbsp oil in the wok and add mustard seeds to it. When they start to pop, tear the red chillies into halves and put in the wok. Add 4-5 tbsp salt and 2 tbsp red chilli powder and stir for 2 seconds. Pour it in the container.

Grind the sugar and add 2 tbsp to the chooda mix.

Take a big spoon and mix all the ingredients in the container carefully. Adjust the flavours with table salt, black salt, red chilli powder, sugar and chaat powder.

Everything is mixed together in the end but prepared separately as the cooking time for each ingredient is different. This might lead to one ingredient being overcooked and the other undercooked.

Put the lid back on till the next time.

Restaurant Review – Wahaca, Canary Wharf, London

If you are looking for Mexican food, you can have a break in your journey at Wahaca. Though the restaurant does not have a complete ensemble of all Mexican food varieties, it does endeavour to serve quite a few and leaves a good taste in your mouth.

Wahaca is situated on a second floor in the heart of Canary Wharf, London. The entrance is obscure but once you find it, the doors open into a wide space filled with brilliant colours and a welcoming crew. The place is definitely a family place but the seating arrangement does not let the din of conversation overpower the ambience. Either the acoustics are too good or the tables are placed further apart than any other restaurant, good thing is you can hear what you are saying without shouting.

Tortilla Chips with Guacamole

As soon as you are seated, you are greeted by a welcoming face. It is Sara with a great personality who explains the menu to you and even though she treats the menu-cum-place mats like a drawing board, it is quite charming. Moreover, if you are a vegetarian, this place is a heavenly abode for you. The menu offers a wide range of dishes that would definitely please your palate. And don’t be shy to try out the typical Mexican classic drink, Horchata. It is a refreshing dairy-free almond and rice milk with a touch of cinnamon. It goes really well with the dishes on the menu and you won’t be sorry for having it at your table.

Tacos

Start with tortilla served with guacamole while your order gets ready.  Though the menu screams black bean everywhere leaving you wondering if the restaurant owner is sourcing them from his backyard at a very cheap rate, the different ways of paring it with feta cheese and vegetables leaves you oohing and aahing with pleasure. In true Mexican style you can try them with tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas, taquittos and burritos. However, the dish that steals the show and the favour of the hard core vegetable hater Sara is Chile Rellano. It is sweet chile ancho filled with creamy black beans & topped with caramelised onions and toasted pumpkin seeds, served with Mexican green rice and grilled banana slices. You won’t need dessert after this feast.

Quesadillas

The only short coming would be the slight blandness of the dishes but that could be attributed to be catering to European taste. However, you have a hot hot sauce at the table to spice things up.

The price for a couple’s meal comes to £20 (drinks excluded) which is a good deal with value for money. The restaurant crew is friendly and makes you feel comfortable. And to end the experience you can take Serrano pepper seeds to plant in your garden.

Rating – 4/5

The Park Pavilion,

Canada Square,

Canary Wharf,

London, E14 5FW

T: +44 (0) 207 516 9145

www.wahaca.co.uk