Sunday, November 18, 2012


This one's a keeper for every time you have friends coming over and you're tired of doing same old pav bhaji. Dabeli is actually much easier to put together, since there's no veggies to prepare, nothing to fry (as in Vada pav) and most of the ingredients are already in your pantry. It's just a simple, no fuss, chatpati dish for a fun-filled evening with friends. Just add a dessert, and you're good to go.

I always think of two people when I make this - a friend of mine and my mom-in-law. They both love it. So here's the recipe for both of them: 

Boil, peel and mash potatoes. Heat some oil in a pan. Add whole jeera, and chopped onion (the quantity of onion should be small. Unlike curries, you need just a little bit of onion for this). Saute till translucent (do not brown). Add some chopped tomato and saute some more. Add a little bit of Haldi, red chilli powder, dhani-zeera powder, salt and a big handful of Dabeli Masala (I use Spicezza brand). Saute some more, add just a little bit of water to make a soft filling and set aside.

Date-Tamarind Chutney:
Feel free to use your favorite recipe, but here's how I make it. Take roughly equal quantities of pitted dates, dry tamarind and jaggary in a pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Shut off heat and let it soak for about an hour (or more). Pass the entire mixture through a sieve. Add salt, red paprika, and freshly roasted, ground cumin.

Red Garlic Chutney:
Grind together fresh garlic, salt, red chilli powder, paprika, and lime juice.

Masala Peanuts:
Place roasted, peeled peanuts, a little bit of butter, salt, haldi, red chilli powder, paprika, dhania-zeea powder and dabeli masala in a small bowl and micowave for a minute or two. Make sure you stir the mixture every 30 seconds and stop before the peanuts turn brown (they will continue to cook for a bit after you're done microwaving).

Other Toppings:
Finely chopped onions, chopped cilantro, sev, peeled pomegranate (this is a really important component, since it gives a sweet, juicy tang when you bite into Dabeli. In case you can't find them, or if they're not in season, you can replace it with chopped grapes. But it's worth having one of the two for that Gujju touch).

Try to use indian-style pav or dinner rolls, and not sweet ones for this recipe. Cut open the pav, butter and heat in the oven or on the tawa like you would for pav bhaji.

Traditionally, Dabeli is filled and then heated on the tawa one by one as it's pressed (hence the name dabeli), but in the interest of serving to a group where everyone helps themselves, I heat up the bread, filling and prepare the toppings and then let everyone assemble it themselves to suit their taste. L. is spoiled, so I assemble it for him sometimes. Here's how I assemble mine: Liberally apply the sweet and spicy chutneys on the two sides of the bread. Fill it with the potato filling, add chopped onions, followed by lots of peanuts, pomegranate seeds, cilantro and sev. Eat immediately.

Now that you're finished reading the recipe, tell me your mouth isn't watering.



Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Diwali Special : Chachar Pachar

Many Indian families follow the tradition of making a dish with 5, 7 or even 9 vegetables on Diwali. I guess it's a way to make sure you eat something healthy in the middle of all the sweets and treats. I started following my in-law's tradition of making chachar-pachar, a dish with 7 vegetables after I got married, but this is the first year I didn't end up with too big a pot. Also, each one was cooked perfectly. The key was to keep the vegetable pieces slightly on the bigger side, and of course, timing them correctly. Here's what I did.
Peel and dice 1 big yukon gold potato, 1 red-skinned, indian style, white flesh, medium sweet potato and 1 big carrot into about 1 inch cubes, keep in water until ready to cook. Peel a big block of Dudhi (Lauki) and dice into 1 inch cubes. Peel 4-5 Parwal (the small, oblong, watermelon like looking vegetable) completely and cut into half. Cut 4-5 baby eggplants into 4 pieces each. Wipe, dry and then cut Okra into about 2 or 3 pieces each (bigger than usual). Heat oil in a pan, add mustard seeds, after they crackle, add a big pinch of aesoftida (hing), and add potato, sweet potato and carrots. Saute for about 5-6 minutes (this step is important). Now add the egpplants and saute for another 2-3 minutes. Now add the doodhi and parwal and saute for 3-4 minutes. Now add haldi, tikhi mirch, lal mirch, Dhana jeera powder (fresh is better), lots of amchur, and a pinch of Sindhi garam masala. Bhuno again for about a minute. Add salt and some water (L. wanted more water - for next time). Cover, and let it simmer for about 8-10 minutes. For Okra, I cheated a little bit. Toss the okra with just a little bit of oil, place in a bowl, cover and microwave for 2 mins. Add it to the vegetable in the end. This will alleviate the problem of slime in the entire dish to a good extent. Serve with Hot pooris. Happy Diwali!