Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Bajra na Rotla - Millet Flour Flatbreads ~Rajasthani Special



Pearl millet known as Bajra is commonly used in India to make flat breads. The millet has many health benefits as it contains folate, magnesium, copper, zinc, and vitamins E and B-complex. It also has a high energy content and is rich in calcium and unsaturated fats which are good for the body and it helps in reducing cholesterol, heart diseases and diabetes. The flour has a greyish colour, it  has a rich nutty flavour and can be used in cooking and baking.

Bajra na Rotla- Millet flour flat breads are a commonly served  in all Rajasthani homes but also in the state of Gujarat where they are served with a spicy aubergine curry.They are a staple part of the dietand are commonly they are served with dollops of Ghee, clarified butter and accompany most curries.

I have recreated the simple Bajra na Rotla below after sampling them on my recent trip to India. I served my Bajra na Rotla with Gatte ki Sabji which I shared in my previous post. Bajjra na Rotla are also eaten cold or packed for travelling as they keep for two to three days. They are eaten with a garlic chutney and pickle too.




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Bajra na Rotla (Millet flour Flatbreads)
Millet flour Flat breads with a nutty aromatic flavour served with a dollop of Ghee





Ingredients:
  • 150g Millet Flour
  • 30g whole wheat flour
  • 50 ml water
  • 1 tablespoon butter/ghee room temperature
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ghee or butter for serving (optional)

Method:
1. Put the flour in a bowl and add the salt, rub in 1 tablespoon of ghee or butter into the flour until you get a bread crumb type of texture. 2. Slowly add a little water at a time to make a semi soft dough. Just add as much or as little water as required, this will depend on the brand of flour you use. 3. Cover and leave the dough to rest for 20 minutes.4.Place a tava or frying pan to heat. 5. Divide the dough into lime size balls and using a little bit of millet flour for dusting pat out the dough into a  3 inch disc approximately 5 mm thick.6. Using a spatula gently pick up the rolled flatbread and transfer it to the tava which should be on medium heat. Do this carefully as millet flour is gluten free and will break easily.7. After cooking for 1-2 minutes you will see the edges drying a little, gently flip the flatbread over and cook for  another 2-3 minutes. Press the flatbread gently with the spatula .8. Again flip the flatbread over to cook the top side, again cook for 1-2 minutes , gently pressing with the spatula .The Flatbread is ready when you have brown spots on both sides and this will ensure its cooked through in the inside. 9.Remove the flatbread from the tava and keep covered in a muslin cloth. Repeat for remaining dough. Once you are ready to serve smear a little ghee onto each flatbread and serve with curry and add an extra dollop of butter ghee on top of the flatbread if you desire. This is the traditional way to serve but its optional due to health reasons.
Details:
Prep time: Cooking time: Total time: Yield: 8 flatbreads




Friday, 24 March 2017

Gatte ki Sabji (Chickpea Dumplings in Gravy) ~ Rajasthani Special


During our recent India trip, I promised my self that I would try and sample some new regional dishes whilst travelling through the country. In Jaipur, one dish that appeared on the menu regularly was Gatte ki Sabji. We were rather intrigued to see what it was and how it tasted. We got the opportunity to sample this dish for the first time at Choki Dhani which is a cultural Rajasthani Village on the outskirts of Jaipur.


At Choki Dhani they create a truly memorable Rajasthani dining experience, you are serenaded with traditional music, treated like royalty as you are escorted into an authentic village setting where you sit on the floor on cushions and eat your food on low wooden tables. The food is served in plates made from banana leaves, on offer is a vast  selection of both savory and sweet dishes, pickles, flatbreads and rice. The waiters come around and refill your plates constantly with the amazing delicacies till you stomach screams no more!!!




One of the items in the thali was Gatte ki Sabji which is a curry made with chickpea flour dumplings in a yoghurt sauce. It is traditionally served with Bajra na Rotla which are millet flour unleavened flat breads. In this post I have recreated the dish as I really loved the taste and authenticity of it.






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Gatte ki Sabji
Chick Pea Dumplings in a spicy tangy yoghurt gravy.





Ingredients:

For Dumplings
  • 125 grams Chickpea flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon natural yoghurt
  • 1 tablespoon sunflower oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons of water to bind dough
  • 1.54 litres water for cooking dumplings
For Gravy
  • 1 tablespoon sunflower oil
  • 1 small white onion finely chopped
  • 2 spring onions finely chopped
  • 1 green chilli finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ginger paste
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 red dried chilli
  • 100-150 ml cooking water left from dumplings
  • 3 tablespoons natural yoghurt beaten
  • fresh coriander finely chopped

Method:

1. In a basin add the chickpea flour, whole cumin, salt, chilli powder, natural yoghurt and oil and mix together. Add a little water to make a semi soft dough. If you find the dough a little sticky rub oil on your hands and knead the dough. Cover the dough and leave to rest for 15 minutes.2. In a large pan add the water and put the pan on the heat to boil the water.3. Divide the dough into 5 parts and roll each part into a sausage shape approx 1.5 cm in diameter. 4. Put the sausage shaped dumplings into the boiling water and cook them for 15 minutes. You will know when they are cooked as small bubbles will appear on the dumplings and they will float to the surface of the boiling water.5. Remove the cooked dumplings from the pan with a slotted spoon and keep aside to cool. Reserve the cooking water.6.Once dumplings are cooled slice them into 1 cm thick slices and keep them aside. 7. In another pan add 1 tablespoon of oil, when its hot add the mustard seeds and the red dried chilli, wait for the mustard seeds to splutter after which add both types of chopped onions and cook them till soft and golden brown.8.To the cooked onions add the ginger paste, green chillies, salt, turmeric, chilli powder, cumin powder and cook the mixture for 1-2 minutes. Add 100 ml cooking water from the dumplings and the yoghurt and simmer the gravy for 2-3 minutes on a low heat.9.Add the dumplings and cook the curry for another five minutes, add extra cooking water from the dumplings if the gravy seems dry.10.To serve transfer the curry to a serving bowl and garnish with the chopped coriander. Serve the curry with millet flour flat breads.
Details
Prep time:15Cooking time: Total time: Yield: 4 servings





Friday, 10 March 2017

Masala Chai (Tea) and chat with Neelam from M V Spices #International women's day




On a recent visit to India, we visited Jodhpur - the blue city of Rajasthan. A mesmerising city of blue buildings, forts and architecture that is magnificent. Mehrangarh Fort is the main tourist attraction in Jodhpur, it is set on the hill tops boasting stunning views of the city. The fort is beautiful and the museum inside is very interesting with lots of historical artefacts and displays. Through the exit courtyard, you will also find gift shops, Rajasthani musicians and dancers and local traders selling their products and souvenirs.


It was at this fort that we met a young lady called Nikki who was running a spice stall. The aroma as we walked passed was so decadent that we had to stop and check out the amazing array of spices that she was selling. On offer were many blends for curries and a variety of  teas and fresh spices.
Whilst purchasing quite a few, it was hard not to, we struck up a conversation with Nikki who told us that her family have other shops in Jodhpur market and if time permits to visit them to check out an even larger selection of spices and also sample a cup of their masala chai. 

Masala chai in India is available in every street corner, it is served in little shot glasses, it is dark, strong and sweet and fragranced with spices. It’s the perfect pick me up after a hard day shopping or just to beat the heat. Yes its a known fact that hot tea actually cools you down!!!


Late afternoon after our visit to the fort we took up Nikki’s offer and went in search for her other spice shops by the clock tower in Jodhpur. It was here that we met Nikki’s sister Neelam, she was most welcoming and our conversation with her flowed and we chatted with her like we were old friends. She was really friendly and had a fantastic knowledge of spices. Over a cup of delicious masala chai which was most needed as we were melting in the Rajasthani heat, Neelam narrated her family story to us. It was very emotional and definitely worthy of a mention here. 


The story of M V Spices:

M V Spices was founded by Mohanlal Verhomal her father some 40 years ago. As a young man her father used to cycle to the Clock Tower Market in Jodhpur and the fort to sell packs of spice blends complete with hand written recipes to accompany them to the tourists. His small venture flourished and M V spices travelled worldwide through the travellers  and tourists who purchased them. However tragedy struck  in 2004 and Mohanlal Verhomal passed away suddenly leaving behind a widow and 7 daughters.

After her husband’s death Mrs Verhomal took the decision to carry on her husband’s spice legacy and decided to run the spice business herself with the help of her young daughters. Although she had no business acumen, together they learnt to wheel and deal and travel far and wide all over India to source spices. They created the mixes to sell them through their four shops. Lack of experience and being female were their toughest obstacles whilst stepping into a highly male dominant society where women did not dare to do business. This did not deter them and through sheer hard work and determination they have indeed achieved what they set out to do. In the last 12 years their business has grown from strength to strength and M V spices has lots of recognition in India and worldwide. Their spice mixes are not only available in their shops in Jodhpur-Shop No 209 - B | Vegetable Market, Clock Tower, Jodhpur 342002, but you can also buy them on the internet through their website.


I am in total admiration to see what these amazing ladies have achieved, not only have they proved that women can do anything they set off to do but they have inspired other women in India that they too can stand on their own two feet if the need arises.

I love masala chai (incidently chai is an Indian word for Tea )and since I live in the UK I usually have to make my own spice blend as it is not readily available in the local shops. To check out how to make your own tasty masala chai (Tea) spice blend do check out my previous masala chai post. 


However, since my visit to Jodhpur, I have stocked up with the tea spice from M V Spices which is a blend of ground ginger, cardamom, black pepper, cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg. In the following recipe, I am using the M V tea masala spice blend to make the perfect cup of masala chai.



I hope to feature many of the other M V spices I purchased in my future posts.

How to make the perfect cup of masala chai (tea) is really a matter of personal choice, some people like it milky, other like it strong, some like it sweet and others like it sugar free, there is no right or wrong way but what is most important is the addition of the tea spice. I am sharing below my favourite recipe.





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Masala Chai (Tea)
Strong spiced Indian tea flavoured with aromatic spices.





Ingredients:
  • 2 cups Water
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1.5 teaspoons loose tea leaves
  • Sugar to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon M V Tea spice

Method:
1. In a saucepan add the water, tea leaves, tea spice and sugar and bring the mixture to a boil 2. Once the tea water is boiling, add the milk and wait for the tea to come to a boil, after which simmer for 2-3 minutes longer for the spices to infuse. 3. Strain the tea into cups and serve immediately. 
Details
Prep time:0Boiling time: Total time: Yield: 2 cups





I recently visited Rajathan and this post is part of a series of posts that I am going to be featuring on this blog about my culinary experience around India. I was inspired to write this post and feature M V Spices after hearing Nikkis and Neelams story.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

#2poundchallenge with Zamcog and Voucherbox.


Zamcog is a charity that helps Zambia's most at risk children. At the Shitima School in Zambia the charity use the money raised to educate the children and provide them with food and water to improve their lives. Voucherbox.co.uk have teamed with Julie-Anne Uggla, founder of Zamcog to bring awareness about this charity. They are doing this by presenting the £2.00 challenge. It costs £2.00 to educate and feed one child per day in Zambia, as part of this challenge I had to feed a family of 4 for one day using a budget of £2.00 per head.


When I first thought about the challenge, it made me think that it would be impossible to serve a healthy meal within this budget. However with careful planning, I have managed to come up with a balanced meal plan for my family making sure the meals were filling and nutritious so that they did not feel hungry.
With my meal plan all set, I went shopping with my £8.00 and no other money, it was rather challenging to be strict with the ingredients and not to do impulse buys. I had to search the supermarket for the ingredients that offered best value with out compromising on taste. The budget of two pounds per head meant that there was no option to purchase any treats or fruits for snacks in between meals.

It was really difficult to change the way I shop by limiting my purchases and buying single items as normally I buy in bulk all my fruits and vegetables in packs.Taking part in this challenge has certainly opened my eyes and reminded me of how much surplus foods we buy and incidentally waste. Next time I go to the supermarket I will most certainly put more thought into what goes in my shopping basket.

Our meal plan for the day was:

Breakfast 
Tea, toast with sunflower spread and a choice of either boiled /scrambled eggs or french toast (eggy bread).

Lunch 
Greek Feta Salad  made with cucumber, peppers, tomatoes, carrots, onion, lettuce and feta cheese tossed with a dash of olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and oregano. To make the lunch more filling I served it with slices of bread and sunflower spread and a couple of boiled eggs left over from breakfast.


Dinner 

Arabbiatta  pasta  with a side salad. I made the Arabbiatta  sauce with the onion, peppers, passata, salt, chilli flakes, oregano and a dash of olive oil. I stirred the sauce into cooked penne pasta  and served it with a side salad of grated carrots, cucumber, lettuce and peppers which were left over from making the salad at lunch time. 


Our total shopping bill came to £7.97. I did make use staple store cupboard ingredients such as olive oil, chilli flakes,salt and black pepper as I only needed a tiny bit of each.The challenge was very difficult and it really opened our eyes, making us realise how difficult it can be to live on a budget and do away with indulgent treats and luxuries that we all take for granted.

10 Teabags
 £       0.20
6 Free range eggs
 £       0.89
1 Pint Milk 
 £       0.45
Sunflower Spread
 £       1.00
1 loaf Wholemeal Bread
 £       0.50
Feta cheese
 £       1.20
1 Iceberg Lettuce
 £       0.50
1 Cucumber
 £       0.28
Cherry tomatoes
 £       0.53
Mixed Peppers pack of 3
 £       0.89
1 pack of Carrots 
 £       0.45
Penne pasta 500g
 £       0.30
Passata 500g
 £       0.35
2 Onions 
 £       0.28
1emon  £       0.15
Total
 £       7.97

I am happy to say Voucherbox.co.uk will donate £50 to Zamcog to help the charity continue their goal for each person that takes on this challenge. If you too would like to take part in this challenge you can read more about it here

I am going to nominate my friend Mina Joshi who blogs at Give me some spice to rise to the challenge.

**This post is in collaboration with voucherbox.co.uk

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Eggless Chocolate Cupcakes






I do like a cake every now and then with my cup of coffee, however I am not too fond of buttercream and fondant icing on the cake. I am a plain cake person with just good flavour and no topping. I love chocolate cakes and this vegan recipe with no eggs or butter is so delicious that it is one of my most favourite recipes. It is also very easy to adapt the recipe if you want to add other flavours in cake.



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Eggless Chocolate Cupcakes
Moist and deliciously chocolatey cupcakes, that are egg and dairy free.


Ingredients:


     Dry Ingredients:
  • 1.5 cups Plain Flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup white caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup Milk chocolate chips 
Wet Ingredients:
  • 1 cup Water
  • 1/3 cup Sunflower oil
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C 2. Line a muffin pan with cake cases.3.  In a large bowl sieve the flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda three times to get lots of air in the mixture.4. Stir in the sugar.5. In a jug add the water ,oil, vinegar and vanilla essence and whisk together.6. Gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry and do not over mix, you want to keep the mixture as light as possible. Stir in the chocolate chips. 7.  Spoon the mixture into the cake cases and bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the cakes comes out clean. Once baked remove tray from oven and wait for the cakes to cool. At this stage you can swirl butter cream on the top if desired.
Details
Prep time: Baking time: Total time: Yield: 16 cupcakes depending on size of cake cases.




For other eggless recipes do check out the posts for more cake ideas here.
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