Sweet plantain fritters

First and foremost, pazhampori or ethakkappam is a quintessential snack from India, mainly southern part. The name, the aroma, the picture – everything about this is delicious!  Sweet plantain is the star ingredient for this particular snack. Plantain itself is a healthy hint. With less sugar and sodium and rich in vitamin A, potassium and fiber, plantains are incredibly rich food for everyone. Ripe plantains can be eaten raw or sometimes folks would steam cook it, especially for young children.

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It is one of my staple foods since childhood. Still I drool over the sight of these bananas. The sweet aroma – as it blackens – when ripe is irresistible. When you pair it with one hard-boiled egg and a glass of milk makes it a rich and healthy breakfast.

Banana fritters

During my childhood, I used to go to my dad’s work place to eat this delicious snack at a nearby restaurant. Their version of banana fritters were different in taste and size alike. It was so delicious and worth the journey! 

Sweet plantain fritters

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Pazhampori or ethakkappam is a quintessential snack from India.

Ingredients

Ingredients

-Ripe plantains – 2, sliced vertically

-Oil for deep frying

For the batter

-All purpose flour – 1 cup

-Sugar – 3tbsp

-Salt to taste

-Cardamom powder – ¼ tsp [optional]

Directions

Mix together all the ingredients for the batter by adding little amount of water at a time. The consistency of the batter should not be too thick or thin. Dip the bananas into the batter,fold them well. Deep fry them in the hot oil until light brown in color. Drain it on the paper towel. Enjoy!

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Murukkus – a traditional savory snack

One of the traditional snacks, murukkus has been around since ages satisfying the cravings to munch on something crunchy. Perfectly done spiky coil prepared with rice flour and urad flour is fun to eat. In Kerala & Tamilnadu, you can see these murukkus, varieties of them deliciously displayed in bakery shelves. Folks love to pair it with their evening tea. Kids love to carry these around as it gives the freedom to snap it and eat it in careless oblivion. All in all, murukkus are great savory treats!

Given that murukkus are one of the popular traditional south Indian snacks, you can see awash of murukkus among other goodies during special occasions and festivals. People used to include murukkus when they share festival goodies with friends, family and neighbours. That way I got to eat different versions and loved all of them.

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Like I said, there are varieties of murukku versions. Out of all I’ve a favorite version which is comfortable to munch on…Yep, not all murukkus are soft for that matter! The one I like is soft yet crunchy. Adding urad flour loosens a bit making it less tight. You can simply snap it and throw it in the mouth just like that. And I’ve been following the same recipe since long time whenever I feel like snacking on murukkus, a simple savory treat.

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I know I’m late in posting this snack since the internet is flooded with such delicious recipes. But hey, that doesn’t fill my blog. Hence decided to post it here 🙂 That being said, for me it’s more of nostalgia if I ever try this in my kitchen 🙂

Roasted rice flour – 1 cup
Urad flour – 1/2 cup
Sesame seeds – 1 tsp
Chili powder – 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Oil – 1 tbsp

Combine everything well in a mixing bowl. Sprinkle 1 tbsp oil. Add water little at a time to form smooth dough. The consistency of the dough should be soft and firm at the same time. Divide the dough in small portions to fit in the murukku press. Cover it and keep aside.

In a pan, heat 2 cups or so oil. Meanwhile, on a wax sheet, press the dough through the murukku press -using the star disc- in a circular motion. Keep it ready.

When the oil reaches the right temperature, gently drop the murukkus into the oil and fry until its cooked and sort of crispier texture. Transfer the murukkus on a paper towel to drain off any excess oil.  Enjoy,

Fried banana peppers

These are otherwise known as yellow wax peppers, banana chilis or banana peppers. They are rather mild, less spicy and more on the sweeter side. The waxy texture and the sweetness are perfect for snacks, especially when the day seems sort of dull and down or to enjoy with your friends…

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Chili fritters or bajjis or fried banana peppers, vendors rock this. It’s very popular in India! When you flour coat and deep fry any peppers like these, then it becomes chili bajjis, an Indian name for fritters. But I would comfortably call it fried banana peppers, sort of simple and easy to understand.

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Fortunately, I have eaten quite a lot when I was darn carefree and diet free 🙂 .  So, as I sighted these at the store, the whole vendor scenario back in Bangalore crossed my mind, so I bought them to prepare  fritters at home. Listing it here for the love of fellow foodies 🙂

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For the batter:  A cup of all purpose flour, salt and ground pepper. Add water little by little till it reaches the consistency of pancake batter.

First step – Prepare the peppers. You could leave the seeds as is or remove them – by slitting vertically – if you wish to avoid any hint of spiciness. As you remove the seeds, make sure to leave the outer case intact.

Second step – Dip in the batter and coat in bread crumbs

Third step – Deep fry

Feel free if you need any further clarification.

Enjoy!

From florets to fritters – Cauliflower Manchurian

Cauliflower manchurian or otherwise known as ‘Gobi manchurian’ is a widely popular and sought after Indo – Chinese dish inspired by the Chinese cuisine.  Thanks to the Chinese immigrants living in Calcutta, in the eastern part of India, for many generations. Their influence helped us to develop few delicious dishes with our own signature on it:) Cauliflower manchurian is one of them. Everything about this dish is simply delicious. Personally its one of my favorites and till date it stays the same. Hence the rave and the recipe 🙂
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From florets to fritters, the delicious texture and the tender yet crunchy florets combined with sautéed onions and the green tinge from the green onions  nudge us to rave about it. With the right condiments, these fritters ace as an appetizer. It balances the gap between vegetarian and non-vegetarian. The dry spicy version is a best fit to go with drinks!

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It’s very easy if you ever want to prepare this dish at home. When you prepare it at home it would be nice if you follow through few minor yet core steps. Otherwise, it would be a disaster if by any chance the florets are not evenly coated.  Well, luck would have it, when it was my turn to try it at home,  my instincts kicked in and provided the needed ideas how to incorporate the ingredients perfectly   The taste, texture and the aroma were in perfect pitch..

In order to ease the process, I would fry and keep the onions ready!

For the fried onions

Minced onions – 2 large
1 tbsp minced ginger and garlic
1 t minced green chillies
2 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon dried red chilli flakes for a contrast and texture
Few whole dried red chillies

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The main ingredient here is; clean & dry cauliflower florets, preferably bite size pieces! I would suggest to flour coat the florets before it goes in the batter. It helps to stay the skin intact when you fry. You’ll need close to one cup of extra flour to coat the florets.

Ingredients

Clean & dry cauliflower florets
One cup extra flour to coat the florets
Oil for deep frying

Ingredients for the batter

All purpose flour – 1 cup
2 tablespoon corn flour
Enough  water
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper [optional]
1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds – again optional.
Salt to taste
Food color [Optional] if you enjoy the orange texture

Combine everything together by adding little water at a time.

Combine all the ingredients for the batter by adding water – little by little – till you get the right consistency, neither too watery nor too thick. Add the florets to it. Mix well.

Deep fry separately. Stir occasionally and fry until crisp. Drain it on paper towels. Set it aside.

Garnish with (finely chopped) fried onions as well as spring onions. Enjoy with any of your favourite sauce!

spinach falafel cutlets

Indeed a feast to the eyes; falafel fulfills everything you want for a meal or best to whomp up your weekend with family! It fits easily and comfortably both as a snack or even by itself as a meal. Delicious addition of vegetables and pickles on the side simply enhances the whole beauty and gives a healthy touch as well. Hence it makes falafel a must have in vegetarian menu. It  also provides sufficient protein portion.

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Unlike other fritters, the interesting fact I like about is its delicious dual texture. The consistent dark brown texture on the outside and the graceful green texture inside was quite intriguing to me. Honestly it took a while to get a good grip of processing the beans to frying some fantastic looking falafel cutlets. I would say, replacing parsley with spinach seems to be a great option. Two handful of fresh spinach is a big deal, indeed 🙂

Anyhow, now I’m quite good at preparing falafel at home. This post is purely intended to save the recipe and share the joy!  That being said, feel free to comment if you find anything less or more 😉

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Let me tell you, it won’t tolerate if you bend the rules – as I did in my earlier attempts – by adding more water to ease the stiffness and heedlessly adding flour to correct the discrepancies. Even though adding flour helps to some extent, the flaw reflects in the end result.

Instead, gently process the soaked chick peas batch by batch without adding water in the food processor and treat it nice and easy. If you wish you could switch spinach instead of parsley as I did. Hint of onion, ginger and green chilies, to spice it up a bit. As to give the shape, simply use your palm to give the beautiful falafel cut. It’s neither hard nor fun, but in the end it’s worth the effort. 

1 cup dried chick peas

2 handful of fresh spinach

1 small onion, sliced

2 green chillies, halved

1 tsp cumin powder

1 tsp ground pepper

1/2 tsp baking soda, optional

Salt to taste

Oil for frying

In a large bowl, rinse and soak 1 cup of chick peas. You need enough amount of water to completely submerge the chick peas. Also, remember to level up the water every few hours as the beans tend to increase in volume. Soak it up around 8 hours or so.

After a quick rinse, drain the water off. Transfer the beans in a food processor or mixer, adding along fresh spinach, onion slices, green chillies, ground pepper, cumin seeds and salt. Pulse it until the mixture blends well to a coarser texture yet sort of smooth overall. Add just a hint of water when necessary. Too much water would hinder the right forming of the fritters while frying. Adjust salt and spices according to your taste.

Shaping into small patties are simple. Using a spoon, scoop spoonful of mixture, gently roll and shape the mixture in your slightly grease wet palm. Deep fry the patties in oil until golden brown. It may look green in the beginning after you dropped the patties in the hot oil. Allow it to reach the right texture and in the process it get cooked through as well.

Drain them on a paper towel. Serve with lots of greens and pickled vegetables and sides. Enjoy!

Kung Pao Chicken – all the way from Shandong!

Kung Pao chicken or Gong bao jiding was Ding Baozhen’s most favorite dish. Originally a Sichuan dish, prepared with lot of peanuts and tender chicken was named after Ding Baozhen’s official title as ‘Gong bao jiding’ or Kung Pao chicken, to honor him. Great, he had such an amazing chef!  Man, it’s such a hard name to pronounce. But I admire his pure heart! He was a nice person.

Now, who is this Ding Baozhen’s?! He was the Head of Shandong province during the period from 1866 to 1876. The people of China had great admiration for Ding Baozhen, who served his tenure to help the community, truthfully and efficiently. That’s the story behind the name of this delicious dish. Quite amazing, isn’t it.

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Today, Kung Pao chicken has become a very popular Chinese dish almost everywhere. We love the spicy and aromatic yet simple dish that can be easily prepared in your kitchen. But, wait. I’ve to say some more… It still remains one of the star items on the take out lists. The concept of merging two unlikely ingredients seems quite intriguing. In fact the duo appeared to be a perfect match. Just as it looked, it tasted delicious, too. The hot chili flavor and roasted peanuts in a chicken dish is a nice harmony. That’s the fact that bought me instantly.

Preparing the same dish in the comfort of our own kitchen is quite a pleasant deal if you manage to put together certain core techniques as Chinese do – their quaint techniques in stirring and tossing and such. The vegetables we add should be tender and crisp; well balanced sweet and sour taste etc. See what happens next. The smooth and delicate chicken in dark brown velvety sauce and a generous amount of roasted peanuts and the smoky whole red chilies were a perfect marriage.

Marinate -2 cups of boneless skinless chicken, tenderized and cut into 1 inch cubes
All purpose flour 2 tbsp
Soy sauce – 1 tbsp
Combine together and set aside. Prepare the rest of the ingredients.

For the sauce
Chicken stock – 3 tbsp
Corn flour – 2 tbsp
Soy sauce – 2 tbsp
Rice vinegar – 1 tbsp
Sugar – 1 tsp
Garlic – 1 tbsp finely minced
Combine everything. Check the consistency and do the adjustments.

Other ingredients
Oil – 2-3 tbsp
Dry red chilies – 2-3
Julienned ginger -2 tbsp
1-2 stalk chopped scallion
1/2 cup of roasted peanuts

As for roasting peanuts: You could roast peanuts in the oven. Or if you try it using a pan, I would rather use a thick bottomed pan. Throw the peanuts in. Keep stirring until you get the nice aroma. Turn the heat off. Allow it to cool down completely. Its 50/50 process – half part in the heat and the other part away from the heat! Spray oil to get a glossy texture.

Deep fry the chicken pieces. Do not leave it in the oil for long to get it cooked through. Rather remove it once the chicken is cooked yet tender and turned the color changes to white. Set aside the fried pieces.

Heat the wok medium to high heat with 2 tbsp oil. Add dry chili pieces. Stir-fry the chilies until they are crisp and dark in color. Add julienned ginger; give it a quick stir until its aromatic. Add the cooked chicken pieces back into the wok, give a quick stir. Add the roasted peanuts. Give a quick stir one more time. Now add the sauce to the mixture.  Mix gently until everything has combined well. Add the chopped scallions. Turn off the heat. Serve hot.

Jalebi to bring joy to the soul!

IMG_4878-JalebiA sweet delicacy loaded with calories and cherished memories which brings joy to the soul is all about jalebi to me. The alluring loops filled with fine sugar crystals and the festive buoyant texture is darn inviting. The glossy orange texture and the sweet aroma are the two key elements that I adore when it comes to jalebi. I still yearn for those jalebis I used to eat back in my home town. The dramas and drooling, schemes to make my grandma buy them, finally oblivion to my schemes we sneak out to buy them anyway. Snacks loaded with sugar were limited and less frequent back then. Yet I managed to eat them often.

Then age took its toll and reduced ingesting sweet treats to keep the health intact. So the conscious efforts to divert the thought to something light and healthy fill the space. Still the thoughts make me nostalgic…

IMG_4878-JalebiNow, far from home, scarcity increased the demand these days, I guess. Never crossed any thought of making it in own kitchen since jalebis were easily accessible when the cravings kick in. I really felt the void and began looking for options to make it handy whenever I feel the urge to eat jalebis.

So, after many failures, on a whim I decided to dig deep in and try it again lavishly with rich sugar syrup. The consistency and amount of sugar syrup does make a difference. Maneuvering the hands steadily yet deftly is the ruse to get the perfect flower loops. It needs practice. Well, not so much…anything is possible, right.

Happy Easter & Enjoy!

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Rinse and soak 1 cup of urad dal for about 1 hour. Grind it with less water to maintain the consistency of the batter, neither thick nor thin. Add a hint of salt and baking soda. Mix well and set aside. Do not let the batter to ferment.

For the sugar syrup: Boil 2 cups of sugar in a cup of water. Turn the heat to low when the syrup turns sort of sticky consistency. Add food color and rose water. The consistency of the sugar syrup defines the overall texture and taste of the jalebi. When it cools down you should be able to feel the fine sugar crystals in the loop and the overall glossy texture.

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To squeeze the batter for frying you could use disposable icing bag or Ziploc or ketchup squeeze bottle with nozzle.

Pipe the batter straight into the hot oil – not so hot oil – with little jalebi magic or imagination. First, create two circles for the base. Then guide the batter into the direction to create the jalebi loops, sort of like a flower shape. It tastes darn good with plain yogurt over it. Enjoy!