Paneer tikka pizza

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Today is an anniversary of sorts for me. Its exactly two years since me and my son came to the US. I wouldn’t have remembered the exact date if not for a friend’s birthday coinciding with it. So along with the black forest cake ( hurray for me! Successfully made it, finally!!) for the birthday girl, it gave me a reason to realize that years have flown off and I have survived well.

It wasn’t easy at the beginning. There is so much I still miss about home, especially my friends and family. But slowly you adapt and start appreciating the positives here. Now, I don’t feel the pain as much.

I miss a lot of things about home, but food is never a thing for me. But for the man, paneer tikka pizza is one of the things he misses. This is my trial at remembering the good old times. Nostalgia is a big flavor here, but the pizza recipe is a far cry from the original. Will come back here if I nail the recipe the way I remember it. Meanwhile check it out the way I made it this time.

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To about 1/4 cup thick yogurt, add the following masalas – salt, 1 teaspoon coriander powder, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon chilli powder (or per taste), 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder, 1/2 teaspoon amchur (dried mango powder), 1 teaspoon garam masala. Mix well. Chop 200 gms paneer into small cubes.

Add the paneer, along with one diced capsicum (red here) to the yogurt mix. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Meanwhile prepare the pizza base. Spread 2-3 tablespoon pizza sauce (readymade here) and top it with the prepared paneer.

Add 1 to 1.5 cups of grated cheese and bake at 200C/400F for 20-25 minutes. Take off the oven. When cool enough to handle, cut into slices and serve.

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Simple veggie pizza

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They say it pours when it rains and that’s turned out to be true for pizzas at my place. Its ages since I made pizzas, but once I started there was no stopping me! Three pizzas out of the oven was thrilling indeed.

Since my pizza making skills are a little rusted, I was more happy that these came out decent than to worry to much about the imperfections. The yeast Gods weren’t that upset, so the bread part of it came out decent. I did over bake and produce a hard crust for the pizzas, but it was only the edge so no complaints there (well, there is, but let’s ignore it for the time being…and for the future as well! :D).

A simple saute of onions and capsicum was made for the third pizza and this is (was!) one of my oft repeated topping. Anyway, I still have some flour. I still have some yeast. And who knows! maybe more pizzas might come out of the oven.

Mind you, I told pizzas, not buns!!

To make the topping for a 9″ pizza, dice one medium onion and one medium capsicum into big pieces and saute them for a few minutes with salt and pepper. Prepare the pizza base and spread 2-3 tablespoon of pizza sauce(readymade) on top of it. Add the prepared veggie toppings and about 3/4 cup of cheese. Bake at 400F/200C for about 20 minutes until the cheese melts and the base is cooked.

Good topping additions would have been sauteed mushrooms, baby corn and olives.

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Koki

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It came as a shock to me that off the 30 plus recipes in my drafts folder, there are only a handful of wheat based recipes. Almost everything centers around rice. That was quite an eye opener for me! I needed to do some quick thinking as this week’s chosen theme for Blogging Marathon is wheat based dishes.

Whenever I am in doubt, I just go to Vaishali’s blog. She makes everything look simple and I always find myself willing to try her tasty, but easy to make recipes. Today’s trip ended with me trying the recipe for Koki from her space. I would have loved to try the recipe that uses up leftover rice, but looks like I should reduce my rice fixation a bit. Oh..Who am I kidding? I will try it some other time :D.

Koki is a healthier version of paratha and has a shelf life of couple of a days making it ideal for travel food. It can be made with onions and other masalas also, but that will impact the shelf life. The one here is a simple recipe with only black pepper in it for flavor.

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Add one cup wheat flour, 1 tablespoon ghee/oil, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and salt as needed. Mix with hands until it comes to a sandy texture. Make a well in the middle and add water (it took a little less than half cup for me) in small batches. Keep kneading until you get a stiff dough. Divide it into four equal balls.

Roll out the koki into thick chapati using a rolling pin. Use a little flour, if needed to prevent sticking. I didn’t need any. Score lightly with a knife in diamond pattern. Cook in a heated tawa.

Smear some ghee and flip over to cook both sides until golden spots appear. Serve with yogurt.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon ghee
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • salt as needed
  • ghee for smearing on koki while cooking

Method:

  1. Add one cup wheat flour, 1 tablespoon ghee/oil, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and salt as needed. Mix with hands until it comes to a sandy texture. Make a well in the middle and add water (it took a little less than half cup for me) in small batches. Keep kneading until you get a stiff dough.
  2. Divide it into four equal balls. Roll out the koki into thick chapati using a rolling pin. Use a little flour, if needed to prevent sticking. I didn’t need any. Score lightly with a knife in diamond pattern.
  3. Cook in a heated tawa. Smear some ghee and flip over to cook both sides until golden spots appear. Serve with yogurt.

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Quesadilla

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This post is a part of  the mega Blogging Marathon and A-Z challenge. I have chosen ‘popular American dishes’ as my theme.

Quesadilla (pronounced keisadiya) is not an American dish. It has Mexican origins, but its part of American cuisine in a big way. Mexican food as such is very popular with enough changes to suit the American palate.

Recipes as simple as this can be modified anyway you want. What I have here is a very basic and very simple quesadillas.  I usually prefer veggie and beans filling for quesadilla, but my son loves it this way with only cheese as filling and nothing else.I have used ready made flour tortillas, but you can make your own at home. Even better, use a whole wheat chapati. Cheese filled chapatis do sound good to me!

Fun thing about this post is the textiles used here. Its from my blogging friend Pavani. Last week, we had a mini BM meet. Pavani, Usha and Mireille had come over and we had a wonderful time which included a photo session and small shopping trip to Christmas tree shop near by. Any meet that includes food prop shopping is fun and this was no exception. But Pavani sent me on a sugar high when she gave all of us some textiles from her collection. I was so happy that I don’t even remember whether I thanked her at that point of time! Given that my current prop obsession is kitchen napkins for taking pictures, it was a timely and well appreciated gift.

Thanks a ton girls, you make my life so much better with your company and now, with textile pieces as well :-)!

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Pictorial:

Place a pan on medium heat. Add one tortilla with 1/3 cup shredded cheese it. Cover it with another tortilla.

Cover with a lid (optional, but it helps melt the cheese better) and flip when the bottom side is lightly brown. Take off the heat when both sides are lightly brown. Cut into eight triangles and serve with salsa. Recipe below.

Ingredients:

  • 2 ready made tortillas
  • 1/3 cup shredded cheese

Method

Place a pan on medium heat. Add one tortilla with 1/3 cup shredded cheese it. Cover it with another tortilla. Cover with a lid (optional, but it helps melt the cheese better) and flip when the bottom side is lightly brown. Take off the heat when both sides are lightly brown. Cut into eight triangles and serve with salsa.

For fresh tomato salsa, mix finely chopped tomatoes(2 medium) and red onions(1/2 medium). Add salt and pepper to taste, a squirt of lemon juice if preferred and 2 handful of chopped coriander if you have them (I didn’t!). Top with a dollop of sour cream for a guilty pleasure :D.

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Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 63

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Black beans and corn quesadilla

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One of the most difficult questions in life is “What to pack for lunch tomorrow?”. Throw in a kid who is not a fan of Indian food and who hates rice in particular, the question becomes a lot more complicated.

Having brought up on a diet of rice and veggies every single day, you are at a loss for what to pack. You find yourself using a good portion of your brain to answer the everyday riddle of “What’s for the grain? What’s for the veggie/fruit? and What’s for the snack? question.

The answer came in the form of nutella sandwiches last year. But this year, to complicate matters more, the lunch box has to be nut free.  So this is one of the options that I choose for the kid’s lunch. Loads of veggies, some cheese to hold everything together and a whole wheat wrap and you are done. I make the filling ahead and store it in the fridge. The filling is good for sandwiches as well.

Read on for the recipe.

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Pictorial 

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Heat one teaspoon in a pan and saute one chopped onion and 2 pods of chopped garlic.

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Add one small diced capsicum. Saute.

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Add 1/2 cup frozen or fresh corn, one can of drained black beans and one big chopped tomato.

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I had about 1/3 cup of sautéed mushrooms, which I added to the mix. Add 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder (or per taste) and salt as needed.

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Mix well and set aside. This can be made ahead and refrigerated/ frozen as well.

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Heat a pan, add the whole wheat or plain tortilla.

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Once the tortilla is heated up, add 1-2 tablespoon of grated cheese all over.

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Once the cheese starts melting, add 2 tablespoon of the prepared filling on one half of the tortilla.

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Fold the tortilla over and cook both sides. Take off the heat, cut into 2 or 4 triangles using a pizza cutter. Pack as lunch or enjoy as dinner.

Recipe source: a friend

Recipe makes : about 1.5 – 2 cups of filling.

Ingredients:

For the filling:

  • one teaspoon of oil
  • one chopped onion
  • 2-3 garlic pods, minced or crushed
  • 1/2 of a big capsicum or one small capsicum, chopped small
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn
  • one big tomato, chopped
  • one can black beans, drained
  • 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms, optional
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • salt

For assembling:

  • one whole wheat tortilla
  • 1-2 tablespoon, grated cheese
  • 1-2 tablespoon prepared filling

Method:

  1. Heat one teaspoon in a pan and saute one chopped onion and 2 pods of chopped garlic.
  2. Add one small diced capsicum. Saute. Add 1/2 cup frozen or fresh corn, one can of drained black beans and one big chopped tomato. I had about 1/3 cup of sautéed mushrooms, which I added to the mix.
  3. Add 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder (or per taste) and salt as needed. Mix well and set aside. This can be made ahead and refrigerated/ frozen as well.
  4. Heat a pan, add the whole wheat or plain tortilla. Once the tortilla is heated up, add 1-2 tablespoon of grated cheese all over. Once the cheese starts melting, add 2 tablespoon of the prepared filling on one half of the tortilla.
  5. Fold the tortilla over and cook both sides. Take off the heat, cut into 2 or 4 triangles using a pizza cutter. Pack as lunch or enjoy as dinner.

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Indian Food Odyssey : One state at a time

A recap of the 30 day Indian Food Odyssey. Click the link/picture to go the particular post.

Andhra Pradesh:

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Arunachal Pradesh: Thukpa

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Assam: Simple Lunch Platter

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Bihar : A mini lunch with Sattu ka Bharta 

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Chhattisgarh : Pancharatna Dal 

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Delhi: A glimpse of street food 

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A lunch platter from Goa

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Gujarat : Mini Thali

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Haryana : Halwa Poori Chhole

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Himachal Pradesh : Meetha rice, Madra, Khatta and sweet chhole

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Jammu and Kashmir : A mini platter

 

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Jharkhand: Chilka roti and chana dal ki chutney

       

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Karnataka Oota: Mini Meals

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Kerala : A traditional breakfast

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Madhya Pradesh : Indori Poha, Jalebi and Bhutte ki khees

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Maharashtra: Poori bhaji Thali

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Manipur : Mini meals

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Meghalaya:

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Mizoram: Cauliflower Stalk Bai

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Nagaland: Dal with phool gobi and Naga chutney

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Orissa: Odia thali 

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Pondicherry: Simple Meals

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Punjab da Khana

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The desert state of Rajasthan

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Sel roti from Sikkim

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Pongal meals from Tamil Nadu

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Tripura Khichuri Bhog

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Awadh Mini Thali from Uttar Pradesh

 

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Uttarakhand Mini Meals

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West Bengal: Luchi, Doi dharosh and Tok dal

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Bengal : Luchi, Doi Dharosh and Aamer Dal

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From April first, the Blogging Marathon participants have been traversing through most of the Indian states (and some Union territories) trying out the regional food, one state at a time.

The final stop is at West Bengal and this is what I have prepared for the state. Check out the other Bengali recipes at the end of the post.

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The posts done till now were prepared from the month of February and so all I had to do was schedule the posts to go live on that particular day. But unfortunately for Bengal, I kept procrastinating until the end. So April 30th came and went and I was still clueless about what to prepare.

I had bought some ready made rasgolla with an idea to prepare cheater’s rasmalai and to end the month long marathon on a sweet note. But then some ideas just don’t materialize…in this case, the idea(rasgolla) got eaten as such before I could improvise it as rasmalai.

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The good thing was the rest of the participants did their share of Bengali dishes and I was able to browse through each of them and finalize mine. After ruling out rasmalai and the chanar payesh, which some had prepared, I decided on Vaishali’s Tauk dal and doi dharosh. It’s hardly surprising, given that I have already done three states (Gujarat, Delhi, UP and now Bengal) based on her blog :-).

It was also kind of in line with the lunch platter theme I was preparing for all the other states. So, tauk dal and doi dharosh it is…along with luchis and the left over ready made rasgollas. For the luchis, I prepared a corn kurma as a side dish. It’s not a Bengali recipe.

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The Menu:

  • Doi Dharosh : Okra cooked in yogurt. This is a combination with Tok dal
  • Aamer Dal / Tok Dal/ Tauk Dal : Lentils with green mangoes and tempered with panch phoron.
  • Luchi :  Deep fried pooris made of all purpose flour.
  • Rice
  • Rasgolla : A Bengali sweet prepared of fresh paneer (or chena as it’s called) and soaked in sugar syrup. The ones here are ready made.
  • Corn Coconut Milk Kurma : This dish is NOT Bengali. I served it along with Luchi as there was no potatoes to make aloo dum.
  • Chili and Lemon wedge : on the side.

This is a picture of a Bengali Thali I had prepared two years back :-). Check out here for more pictures and the recipe links. bengali thali

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Some more Bengali recipes in this space:

Uttar Pradesh : Awadh Mini Thali

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We have reached the fag-end of the state wise culinary journey and today, we are in Uttar Pradesh. Regular day-to-day lunch is the common dal-chawal-subzi-roti combination (Rice with dal, roti and veggies), so I thought I would turn to the capital city Lucknow’s rich Awadhi cuisine.

Just like how I turned to Vaishali’s space for the Gujarati thali and the Delhi food fare, her Awadhi Thali was the first thing to come to my mind once I finalized on the Lucknowi food.

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Awadh is the current Lucknow (and some surrounding regions) now and is known for its royal Nawabs and rich food fit for the kings. Dum style cooking (slow covered cooking over low fire) is what the place is most famous for.

This is what the wiki says: “The bawarchis and rakabdars of Awadh gave birth to the dum style of cooking or the art of cooking over a slow fire, which has become synonymous with Lucknow today. Their spread consisted of elaborate dishes like kebabskormasbiryani, kaliya, nahari-kulchas, zarda, sheermal, roomali rotis, and warqi parathas. The richness of Awadh cuisine lies not only in the variety of cuisine but also in the ingredients used like muttonpaneer, and rich spices including cardamom and saffron. “

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The thali here is a simple affair with a nawabi pulao that’s cooked in milk. Sultani dal is nothing but toor dal made rich with yogurt, cream and milk. Mattar ka nimona which is a green peas preparation. The bhindi is cooked in dum, though I couldn’t make out too much of taste difference.

Boondi ka raita is a simple yogurt prepared with ready made boondi(gram flour mini dumplings).

The lachha paratha is a favourite with my son. The rice too turned out to be good for my son since it was not spicy.

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Thali idea : Ribbons To Pastas

The Menu:

  • Nawabi Pulao : A simple pulao cooked in milk. I added the vegetables too at the time of cooking itself. This is then layered and baked later.
  • Sultani dal : A toor dal preparation made rich by the addition of yogurt, milk and cream
  • Dum Bhindi : Bhindi curry, cooked dum style
  • Mattar ka nimona : Green peas curry
  • Boondi raita : Gram flour dumplings (boondi) in yogurt. A simple raita
  • Lachha Paratha : A layer pattered paratha.
  • Salad : Onion rings and lemon wedges

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Sikkim : Sel roti/ sael roti

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I remember the time I started making rotis/chapatis. The game that we had was “Guess the shape!”

India map was the most common one, but animal shapes like kangaroo or cheetah too weren’t uncommon. We used to have a lot of fun, letting our imagination run wild, while savouring those out of shape rotis. The good thing was, no matter what the shape is, the taste was fine.

Now when I roll out chapatis, it doesn’t come as a perfect circle, but it’s stopped being closer to a square! So I am happy…

Coming to these Sel rotis, which are quite popular in Sikkim, the shape is nowhere close to how it should look like! But again, the taste was fine, so I guess, it’s ok…for a first trial, at least.

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While looking for Sikkim recipes, I came across this NDTV article which talks about the culinary changes that has come over the place. There was a mention about Sel roti in there and that helped me decide the menu.

A bit more digging showed that Sel roti is originally from Nepal and is eaten with potatoes in various forms, aloo ko achar being one amongst many. This is a nice post about Sel rotis.

Though I tried the given combination of potato and sel roti, with yogurt, I couldn’t understand the combination-connection. The sel roti was great, the potato was great, but there was no chemistry between the two!

May be, these are acquired tastes or may be I should try out the original before passing that statement :-).

I loved the Sel roti, despite its poor shape. I first used a coke bottle and the batter oozed out completely. Then I used a squeezable ketch up bottle, that’s how I got the wriggly Sel rotis. I tried pouring from my hand as well. The shape wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad either.

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The Menu:

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Rajasthani Mini Thali

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Rajasthan, the desert land, is a beautiful state with a colourful history behind it. It is the land of ‘Rajas(kings)’ (Raja-sthan) and there are many palaces and fortresses there, reflecting the state’s rich royal heritage.

Travelling to Rajasthan was a dream and we did travel to Jaipur and Jaisalmer 8 years back. It’s still an experience I relive and relish, especially the Jaisalmer fort. If possible, I would love to go there again…and again….and again

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Not just the palaces, Rajasthani food is also famous. Their cooking style is a bit different. They bank on pulses and dried vegetables more than fresh veggies, since the desert is no ideal place to grow vegetables. It’s all different with advanced irrigation techniques and easy transportation now a days.

Yet you will find extensive use of pulses in Rajasthani cooking.

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We had been to Choki Dhani,  a Rajasthani village resort which showcases food and art culture from Rajasthan. We went as a group and so had fun. The place was over crowded and the waiting time for each and everything was long, but since we were a big group, the waiting time was yacking time and hence a happy time as well :-).

My son enjoyed the trip a lot (‘a lot’ is really less to describe his happiness) and surprisingly, loved the food also a lot.

He finished almost everything on his plate, without much fuss. He was hungry and the food was tasty.

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The menu I have here is a bit on the lines of what we had in Choki dhani. They served us phulka, puri and bajra roti…all of which my son loved. I have replaced the puri with missi roti.

They started off with churma and brought the dal and baati. Then came the kadi and gatte ki sabzi. I skipped the last one, it deserves a separate post on its own :-). There was palak paneer and an aloo ki sabzi to go with the rotis. Some 3-4 varieties of pickles and chutneys were served.

Kichidi came later and it was served with sugar. Keeping the Chennai crowd in mind, they have included rasam, sambar rice and curd rice in the menu as well.

So here I have 3 bread varieties, an aloo curry and a mixed veg curry to go with it. Kichuri, dal and kadhi with 2 types of pickle/chutney as well.

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The Menu:

  • Khichuri/Kichidi : Rice and moong dal cooked together with a pinch of turmeric powder and salt. Vegetables can also be added to make it healthier.
  • Bajre ki roti  : A whole grain roti made of millet flour. It’s usually made as a single thick roti, saving cooking time. The dough is crumbly because of the absence of gluten, so thick roti is the way to go.
  • Missi roti : Roti made with chick pea flour (besan). Has many versions and this is one of them.
  • Phulka : Thin whole wheat roti  which is cooked in the flame directly for puffing up. No oil is used.
  • Sabz Jaipuri : A mixed vegetable preparation from the city of Jaipur.
  • Atte ki kadhi : A yogurt based preparation which uses whole wheat as the thickening agent instead of the usual chickpea flour (besan)
  • Aloo ki sabzi : A simple potato preparation that goes all around India.
  • Dal : My friend’s preparation :-). Here is a the recipe for Pancharatna dal, which is very popular in Rajasthan as well.
  • Malai Mirch : Chopped green chillies, fried in ghee and then cooked with cream. YUM!
  • Lehsun Chutney : Garlic chutney, pairs well with the breads
  • Pyaz, Nimbu, Mirch : Raw onions, lemon wedges and green chillies. The green chillies can be fried in ghee/oil.

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