Shital's-Kitchen: July 2016

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Boiled Peanuts

If you are in Mumbai or Maharashtra in monsoon season, you cannot miss out onto deliciously boiled peanuts. Just before it starts to rain, peanut crop is harvested and boiled salted peanuts are sold everywhere on the streets. It becomes one of the popular street food of Mumbai and nearby areas during monsoon. Specially popular in Lonavala, a hill station or a hilly region few km. away from Mumbai which is a beautiful and scenic destination for tourists specially in monsoons. Lush greenery, beautiful waterfalls,  and cold, water-filled clouds kissing us. Walking in between clouds... the feeling is just amazing!
As soon as these peanuts are available in the market, we boil peanuts and it makes a great weekend or picnic snack for us. Even in California, raw peanuts in shells are easily available at the Indian grocery store. We just buy a big bag of raw ones and enjoy weekend movies with delicious snack!

Very simple ingredients:
4 cups fresh, raw peanuts in shells
1 cup salt
1 tbsp. turmeric powder
  • Firstly, wash peanuts well in regular tap water. Rinse them 3-4 times to get rid of dirt & debris.
  • Put peanuts in the pressure cooker and pour water over them. You need enough water as all the peanuts need to be submerged in water and water level being around 2 cm. over the peanuts. Peanuts will float in water.
  • Add salt and turmeric.
  • Pressure cook for 45 minutes or till you here 5-6 whistles on medium to low heat.
  • Turn of the heat. Let the pressure settle and them open the pressure cooker. 
  • Use a strainer to remove boiled peanuts and enjoy while watching a movie :) 
  • It makes a great nutritious snack too!

You can use boiled peanuts to garnish khichdi or rice dish or faradi misal. Or make boiled peanut raita by mixing peanuts with yogurt.

Fresh Peanuts available at a Vegetable Vendor.

Enjoy Mumbai Rainy Food!!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Walnut Halwa

According to Hindu calendar today being Ashadhi Beej is the day of Jagannath Rath Yatra and beginning of the New Year for Kutchis (people of Kutch, Gujarat, India) Last year this day we performed house warming rituals in our new home. All days are good, but Hindu calendar has specific auspicious days which encourages rituals and good luck. Today is also Eid, a very big festival for my Muslim friends, and on this day I want to wish them luck and to prosperous life.

Festival means celebration, and celebration means food and specially sweets. Yes, we begin our Kutchi new Year by offering sweet to God and then relishing it. Walnut Halwa is a soft walnut porridge, a sweet, a dessert, and one of the family favorite treat. This was on the menu at my sister's wedding and we all still talk about the delicious taste. With perfect cold and pleasant weather, this Halwa does not fail to please the guests, it will became star of your event!!

The recipe is super easy and will be ready in no time! I make it just like I make regular or dryfruit halwa.

Ingredients: (serves 2-3 people)
2/3 cup ghee
1 cup coarsely ground shelled walnuts
1 cup milk
1/4 cup mawa/khoya (optional)
3/4 cup sugar
Pinch of Cardamom powder
  • In a pan heat ghee. When ghee melts add coarsely or fully ground shelled walnuts. At first mixture will appear dry but continue roasting on low heat till it starts giving out some ghee and also turns slightly dark in color. 
  • Add grated Mawa/khoya to the roating walnut mixture. 
  • Add milk and mix well. Be careful as milk might splatter.
  • When milk is absorbed, add sugar and mix well.
  • Add cardamom powder and mix till sugar dissolves well.
  • You might see a layer of ghee floating on top. that is okay. 
  • This halwa is enjoyed most when served warm. Store in the refrigerator for few days but heat it slightly on stove or microwave and then serve.

Here is step-by-step pictorial recipe:
Shelled walnuts coarsely ground in my food processor. You can even finely ground them but be careful for not overdoing them or else the then to give out natural oil.

Roast ground walnut in ghee.

Add khoya and ix well.
Add milk and mix till milk is absorbed.

Add sugar and mix till sugar dissolves.

Add cardamom powder.

Enjoy the Festivities!!

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Ghee Toast

Do you know what an Indian breakfast plate looks like? It surely does not include a slice of bread. In fact, my grandparents had never tasted a slice of bread. Many vegetarian Hindus and Jains don't eat bread as it contains yeast or is made in the vicinity or bakery where they would use eggs. We do eat bread, but at my mom's place bread is not eaten often. The fact that it was a piece of processed flour, most people in India try to avoid it. I remember mom explaining us that 'excessive eating of bread is not good for you as it would stick into your stomach'. This was her way of telling us kids the concept of constipation which is unhealthy. And when we were kids, there wasn't anything like wholewheat or 7 grain bread.

In India, fresh wholewheat roti with veggies, wholewheat paratha with butter, thepla, batata poha, upma, idli would be preferred over a slice of bread. We never had a big loaf of bread stored in the refrigerator. It was always bought fresh and never allowed to last for more than a day or two. Few extra slices of bread were toasted on an Indian tawa/griddle. This was even before we had an electric toaster at home. Just like paratha was pan-fried with ghee, mummy would pan-fry few extra slices of bread on griddle with some homemade ghee. You can make an Indian eat non Indian food but he/she will surely try to find the comfort zone. Mummy would also fry few chopped green chilies and sprinkle some salt over it. This was an accompaniment with ghee toasted bread and would just taste amazing. Being here in Mumbai with my parents, I am relishing all my childhood food. Although my mom has an electric toaster, a conventional microwave oven and many new gadgets in her kitchen, the traditional cooking style still imparts flavor and love to the food.

This post is not a recipe, this post is to remember Indian food and cooking style. I remember more than 20 years back our trip to Delhi and Haridwar. We stopped at a rustic roadside restaurant or dhabba for breakfast. The image of this dark restaurant with a huge pan of hot oil and large burning tandoor is permenantly stuck in my mind. We were a group of more than 100 people from our community who stopped by at this place before continuing our trip to Haridwar. The breakfast for such a big group at a small dhabba is something I cannot forget. In the month of December and the climate of Delhi something that could keep a big group of Mumbai travelers warm and comfortable were delicious deep fried samosas, a cup of garma garam hot chai, and to my amusement toasted bread butter. My love for food and cooking style has been since childhood so I still remember that toasted bread butter. Two slices of bread glued together with butter were put onto long kabab skewers. The skewers were then lowered into hot tandoor for bread to toast. I just want you to imagine tandoori bread butter, the flavor was just amazing!! Samosa, chai, and tandoori bread butter was some comforting breakfast for us. I was just 13 at that time and will never forget the delicious rustic Indian cooking. This December I plan to make tandoori style bread butter in my backyard tandoor. :)

This simple slice of bread has so many uses in Indian food. It is sometimes used just like an Indian flat bread and enjoyed with homemade butter and sugar. Stuffed with Indian spices bread is deep fried to make delicious bread rolls and pakoras. Bread is soaked in water or milk to make a dough and mixed with veggies to make cutlets and kababs. Even sweet dishes and desserts are made with this humble slice of bread! :)

Here are the pictures of my simple ghee toasted bread!
Few slices of bread toasted on griddles with some ghee on the bottom and top of the bread.
Flip the bread slices till they are nicely toasted and golden brown.

Fry some green chilies in some ghee and sprinkle some salt over it.