Thursday, June 28, 2012

Jalebi / Smart Snacks turns 1

It's a Hap Hap Happy B'day .............Smart-snacks has completed one year today. When I started this blog  an year ago I wasn't even sure of how all this works . But it has been quite a learning experience & I'm glad to have stumbled upon to food blogosphere. Time seems to have just flown away & here I am today writing my 52nd post  & unbelievably it is my 1st blog anniversary. On this occasion I would like to thank all my fellow bloggers for all their support & encouragement all through the year & I have no words for what my unsung hero  'G' has done to make all this possible. He is the one who despite his very busy schedule at work , maintains the blog, spends most of  his weekends taking pictures & editing them , he is the  one trying to make all the efforts to improve his photography skills for the sake of my food photos. This blog wouldn't have existed if it wasn't for him. I might have done my bit by improving a lot on my cooking, baking & presentation skills but honestly even after 1 year I am still unable to handle his big camera. Thankyou, Thankyou, Thankyou one & all.

"Jalebi "needs no introduction & when I am writing this I can clearly visualise the childhood scenario when after their morning stroll my father or my grandfather would enter the house with a small newspaper bag in their hand filled with garam jalebi's from the sweet shop just around the corner. Jalebi happens  to be one of the most celebrated sweet in India. Be it any occasion or should I say we need no occasion to have Jalebi . Soooo what could be better than jalebi   for a food blog b'day celebration.

I made the instant version & it was perfectly crispy & soooo yummy.......& I must say better than the original yogurt fermented version.

So here goes the recipe:

For the Jalebi:                                                                For the Sugar Syrup :
1 cup all purpose flour / maida                                         1 cup sugar
2 tablespoon corn starch                                                   1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon gram flour/ besan                                         3-4 cardamom pods
2 tablespoon yogurt                                                          pinch of saffron
1 tsp rapid rise yeast
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp oil
pinch of yellow colour ( optional)
1/2 cup water
Oil for frying


Mix all the ingredients together for the jalebi  in a bowl & give it a good whisk . Make sure there are no lumps. Cover & let it sit for half an hour.  Meanwhile make the sugar syrup. Transfer 1 cup of sugar to a pan with 1/2 cup of water , add the cardamom pods & the saffron. Bring the syrup to a boil & let it simmer for about 5-6 minutes. We do not really need any string consistency for jalebis. The syrup should neither be thick or very thin. Once the batter  is ready ( you will see it has almost doubled ) transfer batter to a ziplock bag or a ketchup bottle. I used a ziplock bag - cut a very small  hole at the tip of the bag to get thin crispy jalebis.
Heat oil in a flat bottom pan  to medium ( if the oil is too hot the jalebis will just spread & be flat & mushy ) & start piping . Don't worry if you cannot  get them perfectly round. Fry on medium heat turning them once  , this will take just 2-3 minutes or maybe less. Transfer to sugar syrup just for 30 seconds . Thin crispy jalebis are ready to be served.


Friday, June 22, 2012

Sarson ka Saag / Makki ki Roti

Following my earlier post on" How to clean saag" here comes another post in " Mom's Special" series, Saag & makki ki roti which is a very famous North Indian main course. Accompanied with some home made butter & buttermilk -it happens to be one of my most fav's . So without further ado let's get on to the recipe.

Ingredients for Saag:
1-2 bunches of saag/ broccoli rabe
1 tomato
1" piece of ginger
2-3 green chillies
salt & turmeric powder
2 tablespoons of makki ka atta ( yellow corn flour) or besan( gramflour)
1/2 cup water

For the tempering : 
2 tablespoons of oil
2 onions chopped
3 tomatoes finely diced
2-3 " piece of ginger
7-8 green chillies
5-6 garlic pods finely chopped
2-3  whole red chillies
1 tsp methi seeds
pinch of hing / asafoetida powder
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp garam masala


Transfer the chopped & washed saag to a pressure cooker. Add a tomato, 1" piece of  ginger, 2-3 green chillies , salt & turmeric powder & give it upto 2 pressures. Let it cool , then give it a quick pulse in the blender / make sure not to pulse it to a paste, should be a little coarse. Transfer  it back to the pressure cooker or another deep dish , dilute 2 tablespoons of makki ka atta or besan in 1/2 cup of water & add to the saag mix. This really helps in making the saag oooeey goooey & also takes away the sourness of the saag . Bring the mixture to a boil, lower the flame & let it simmer on low heat for about 1/2 an hour.
Keep stirring in between &  be very careful while stirring as the mixture tends to splutter a lot. I generally cover the dish with a lid while the saag is simmering & then just open to stir & cover again.
Meanwhile prepare the tempering : heat oil in a pan & add the methi seeds  & red chillies- let them brown. Now add onions, ginger, garlic & green chillies & saute everything until the onions are perfectly brown, add hing & coriander powder & stir, now add tomatoes & stir till the tomatoes  are  perfectly cooked, add garam masala & add this temper to the simmering saag. Let the saag simmer for another 10 mins & it is ready to eat. Serve topped with desi ghee( clarified butter ) or home made fresh butter accompanied by makki ki roti. 

For the Makki ki Roti:

2 cups of yellow corn flour ( will make about 8 roti's) 
 Lukewarm water as required for kneading the dough
Oil for frying
Transfer corn flour to a wide dish ( I generally use the steel parat for kneading the dough)
Start adding water & knead the dough. In the beginning  it seems to be very crumbly but adding water & kneading it continuously will make it very soft & pliable. I genrally knead it in batches & each batch for atleast 5-6 minutes  ( just like bread dough) & the dough becomes very soft & easy to handle. Pinch tangerine size balls from the dough, sprinkle some corn flour on the rolling board , place the ball of dough on it & start rolling it with your hands in clockwise motion. I know it takes some practice but this is the only way I have learnt to make it from my mom. Transfer the rolled roti to a hot tawa or skillet & fry from both sides . I generally fry them just like we would do for parathas. Yummy roti is ready , enjoy with saag & don't forget to have it some jaggery & desi ghee as well.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

How to clean Sarson ka Saag / Broccoli Rabe

Yes guys -my today's post is featuring a simple yet tedious process -how to clean sarson ka saag / broccoli rabe. This post is inspired by my "Mom's Special" as well , as it always intrigued me on how she did everything with great precision & love . With a lot of vegetables being seasonal in India saag was available only in winter's & I can still visualise on how my mom would sit on the roof top of our house warming up in the sun on those extremely cold wintery days & would always be doing something like peeling fresh pea pods , chopping vegetables , knitting & one of the most tedious jobs of all- cleaning saag. I had always heard her asking the passing by street  vegetable vendor if he had "Gandalon wala saag" ( gandal is the thick stem of the saag) coz according to her it was the thick stems that made the saag ooeey gooey. So while basking in the sun she would chop off the saag with great precision , chopping the leaves very finely & peeling each stem to the core. Needless to say the result was more than a 100 % as she made the best saag I've ever had.

Start by separating the leaves from the stems ........

Now peel each stem with the  help of a knife or even your hands starting at one end. You will see there is a fibrous layer on each stem that comes off easily . Once the stems are peeled, chop the leaves & stems very finely & wash thoroughly 6-8 times to get  out all the impurities.  It might sound easy but as far as my experience goes my shoulders start drooping by the time I'm done cleaning & peeling  one bunch ......2 bunches - noooo way . 

I sincerely hope this post helps some of our 1st timers in the kitchen ............

Coming up: sarson ka saag / makki ki roti 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Sweet , Sour & Spicy Kaddu / Yellow Pumpkin

Here comes another dish in my "Mom's Special " series . Kaddu or yellow pumpkin is a very integral part of any meal in my household, especially for puja's , festivals & for guest's when we cook a no onion -no garlic meal . Generally it is served as an accompaniment  with aloo -poori or just on it's own with paratha's. There is really something special in the way my mom cooks it -it is sweet , sour, hot & 
spicy all at the same time. Although I have been cooking it for years now but everytime I feel that I just cannot beat what my mom cooks. Here comes the recipe: can be cooked with onions or no onions -choice is your's............


1/2 kg yellow pumpkin ( peeled & chopped)
3-4 green chilli ( chopped)
2" piece of Ginger ( chopped)
1 onion ( chopped )( skip onion if you want a no onion vegetable)
1-2 whole  red chilli 
1 tsp Fenugreek seeds ( Methi seeds)
1/8th tsp Asafoetida powder ( Hing powder)
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp red chlli powder
Salt to taste
1 tsp mango powder
1/4 tsp garam masala powder
1/2 tsp kasoori methi ( dried green methi leaves)
1 tablespoon sugar ( or sweetner of choice / I used agave nectar)
1-2 tablespoons oil


Start by heating oil in a pan or wok ( Kadhai) , add the methi seeds & let them brown ( make sure oil is not sizzling hot as the methi seeds will burn instantly)  now add red & green chilli, ginger, onion & hing powder & stir till the onions are slightly pink. Now add the pumpkin & saute  for 4-5 minutes till you see slight brown marks on the pumpkin . Add dry spices , turmeric, coriander , red chilli powder & salt to taste . Stir well & cover the dish with a lid. Simmer on low heat for 8-10 minutes/ add 1-2 tablespoons of water if the dish looks too dry . After 8-10 minutes check to see if the pumpkin is thoroughly cooked. 
Stir again thoroughly as wee need a mushy vegetable. Now add the sweetner, kasoori methi , mango powder & garam masala & give it a good stir. The dish is ready &  is best served with poori or a bread of your choice. 

Here it is served as an accompaniment  with aloo tamatar, methi poori, raita & red chilli pickle. 


Friday, June 1, 2012

Methi Poori with Aloo Tamatar/ Fried Indian Flatbread with Potato Curry ( No Onion No Garlic)

Yes Guys....... June is the birth month for " Smart - Snacks ". My baby will be turning"1" this month & I could not think of a better way of celebrating it  than by paying a tribute to my mom who's cooking has been my greatest inspiration for being in the kitchen . I think we all will agree that with the passage of time -a lot of our mom's recipes & the passion they had for cooking has been dying away .  It will be a great pleasure for me  to revive some of  those moments & recipes  & share them with the world. In my endeavor to document some of her recipes I am starting a series called "Mom's Special". I will try & bring to you a lot of her original recipes that have been enjoyed by one & all-all  these years & I hope you all will try them & enjoy them too.   So today I will start with one of my most fav's "  Mom's Special " that I have seen her cook for every festival , Puja & whenever we would have guests over. Belonging to a traditional North Indian "Baniya" family I had seen her cook a lot of dishes with no onion & garlic for festivals & puja's but she would very smartly alter them with onion & garlic for the regular meals . I think I'm still a fan of the no onion -no garlic preparations of her's as they have a very distinct taste & flavor. Although I know that I can never match her cooking , still I will try to document whatever little I can.  So as a part of my "Mom's Special " I will start with one of my most Fav's of her recipes : Aloo Tamatar & Methi Poori.

Ingredients For Aloo Tamatar:
2-3 big boiled Potatoes ( Just break the potatoes into small chunks)
1 tablespoon oil 
2 Tomatoes diced
2-3 green chillies finely chopped
1" piece of ginger finely chopped ( optional)
1/4th tsp asafoetida powder / hing powder
1/2 tsp cumin seeds/ jeera
1 tsp coriander powder
1/4th tsp turmeric powder
1/4th tsp red chilli powder ( optional)
1/4 tsp mango powder
Pinch of garam masala
salt to taste
Fresh chopped coriander / dhania for garnish


Start by heating oil in a pan, add the cumin seeds & hing powder/ let the cumin seeds splutter. Now add the green chillies, ginger - stir for a minute. Add the spices- turmeric, red chilli powder , coriander powder , salt  & just stir . Immediately add the tomatoes & give it a good stir / let the tomatoes cook thoroughly & become mushy - now you will have a well done masala. Add the boiled potatoes & stir again. Add a cup or a cup & half of water , cover the dish & let it simmer for about 10 mins. Keep checking in between to check that the gravy is not getting too thick . You can add a little more water if required. Once everything comes together -add the mango powder & garam masala & garnish with fresh coriander. 

Ingredients For Methi Poori :

2 cups whole wheat flour 
1 cup finally chopped fresh Methi leaves ( Fenugreek)
1/2 tsp salt
water for kneading the dough ( as required)
Oil for deep frying the pooris


 Add the chopped methi leaves & salt to the whole wheat flour. Knead into a  smooth, stiff dough adding water  little at a time until the dough comes together. We will need the poori dough  a little stiffer than what we usually do for chappati.  Divide the dough into lemon sized balls & roll into about 
4" diameter rounds & deep fry in hot oil until they are puffed & golden in colour. ( Oil your hands while pinching the dough to make balls so the dough will not stick  to your hands) 

 Serve this meal with a choice of side dish , raita & pickle ...........Enjoy...........