Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A simple and satisfying Gujarati meal

You don't always need to go crazy when someone is coming over for a meal...Some times, just simple, home-style, tasty meal and old friends can make for a wonderful time. This was one of those meals...

As with most Gujarati meals, you have lots of different dishes, but each one fairly simple to make. Typically, you serve one or two farsans (savory items), one or two misthan (sweet items), one or two main shaak (vegetables), one Kathol (beans), dal and/or kadhi, salad, rice, roti, achar, chutney and papad.

This was my menu:

Samosa and chutney
Patra (They came out from a frozen box).
(a good gujarati menu should have one fried and one steamed "farsan" or savory items.  Another good combination is lilva kachori / vatana ghughra and khandvi / dhokla).
Shrikhand (Yes, the desert is a part of the meal)
Gajar no Sambharo (The salad component)
Fansi dhokli / pakodi (The main shaak/ vegetable)
Khatta Mag (The kathol component)
Rice and Roti
(I skipped some of the condiments like papad etc, lack of time and laziness. Also skipped kadhi, since I was making khatta mag instead of plain ones)

And here are some of the recipes:

Gajar no Sambharo:

Cut the carrots into medium thick, 2" sticks. Heat some oil, add black mustard seeds and let them splutter, once the splutter reduces, Add vertically split green chillies (I used two green chillies for four medium carrots...this should be a bit spicy) and a big pinch of Hing (asafoetida), then add the carrots, a pinch of turmeric and salt. Saute on a very high heat for a couple of minutes, till the carrots are slightly softer, but still maintain some crunch. Add some chopped cilantro and serve.

Fansi Dhokli / Pakodi:

Wash, dry and chop french beans into small pieces (each piece should be about the same length as the width of the don't do the longer cut). Heat some oil in a wide pot, add a big pinch of Ajwain (rub it slightly before adding to the oil to wake up the ajwain), and immediately add a cup of water and a pinch of baking soda. Lift up the pot and shake vigorously to mix the oil, water and soda (you're almost trying to create an emulsion here). Now, heat the mixture till it starts frothing and then add the french beans (yes, the water comes before the beans, unlike typical recipes). Now add salt, and green-chilli + ginger paste and more water to cover the beans completely.

While the beans are cooking, prepare the batter for pakodi. Mix besan, salt, turmeric, red chilli powder, a pinch of soda, a pinch of hing, some oil (you need a little extra oil here) and make a thick batter with water, like you would for making pakodas. Don't worry, there's no frying involved.

Here comes the fun part. Make sure there's good amount of water left in the pot. If not, add and let it heat up. Reduce the heat. Now, add small blobs of the pakodi batter into the beans and water. Do not overlap the pakodis (hence, the wide pot). Once all the pakodis are done, very gently stir the pot, so that some of the water covers them and then cover the pot and let it cook. After a few minutes, turn over the pakodis and let cook till both the beans and the pakodis are both cooked through. Don't worry if a little bit of besan seeps into the water, it will make the dish thick and creamy. Add just a pinch of sugar.

Alternatively, you can add dhokli to the french beans, instead of pakodi. To make dhoklis, take some coarse wheat flour (laadu no lot), add salt, turmeric, red chilli powder, hing, baking soda, oil and make a soft dough. You can also add besan to this dough if you like. make really small balls and fltten each one. Now, add these "dhoklis" to the french beans while cooking as before.

Khatta Mag:

I used Tarla Dalal's recipe for this. Soaked whole Mung overnight. Then cooked in the pressure cooker with some salt (just one whistle). Add turmeric and green chilli + ginger paste. In a tadka pan, heat some oil, add mustard seeds still they splutter, add fresh curry leaves and hing, and then add to the pot with the mung. Mix well. Now, whisk some yoghurt with a bit of water and add citric acid to it (since I almost never have sour yoghurt on hand). Slowly add the yoghurt mixture to the pot and thin out with water to get a kadhi-like consistency (with whole mung that you can see). Let it simmer for about 10-15 minutes and garnish with cilantro.


Line a wire strainer with paper towel and make it rest over a bowl. Empty one container of (preferably full fat) Greek yoghurt on the strainer, cover with the ends of the paper towel and leave in the fridge for 5-6 hours (or overnight). Discard the water. Now add equal parts of sugar as the yoghurt (by volume). Also add freshly ground cardamom seeds, freshly grated nutmeg, soaked and rubbed saffron (soak saffron in a few drops of water/milk for about an hour and then rub it for a few minutes. I use a metal pestle to do it). Mix everything thoroughly, till the shrikhand becomes shiny. Add chopped pistachios (may also add almonds), and if you can find, some charoli (or chironjee). Serve chilled. This time, I also added some sour cream. Once, I even added mascarporne cheese along with greek yoghurt, which worked really well too. Of course, you can flavor the shrikhand however you like, including adding mango pulp, to make amrakhand.

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