Kachori (Rajasthani Savory Snack)

Kachori (Rajasthani Savory Snack)

Kachori is an Indian snack similar to samosa (its more famous cousin) but yet different. It is a flaky pastry filled with different spices and lentils. Just like other famous snacks, there are lots of varieties of kachoris in different parts of India. This one is my grandmother’s recipe aka Bhoji wali Kachori and one of her most famous ones. Everyone in our family loves this snack made by my grandmother. I love this kachori so much that I do not eat the kachoris available outside. For me THIS is kachori 🙂

The filling made with besan is what makes this kachori different from the other kachoris. Mostly kachoris are filled with different lentils but this one has no lentils. Roasted gram flour and spices complement the flaky crust perfectly.

Only tricky part with this filling/masala is to roast the gram flour(besan) well. If the besan is not roasted properly, the kachoris will not be fluffy. If it is roasted too much, the taste is ruined. It is very important to keep mixing the besan continuously while you roast it. Our house lives on no onion garlic diet most of the times so no onion in this one. You can add onions to this masala if you like.

The dough for kachori should not be too firm. Soft and pliable dough makes better kachoris. Another trick that I learnt from my grandmother is to roll the kachoris twice (only twice) after you have filled the masala and shaped the kachori. This distributes the filling evenly and each and every kachori puffs when you do this.

These kachoris can be stored up to a week in airtight container. Eat them plain or with chutney of your choice or make a chat by adding yogurt and different chutneys.

Kachori (Rajasthani Savory Snack)

Ingredients

Makes 20 kachoris

For Dough

  • 2 cups all purpose flour (maida)
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • ½ tsp salt

For Masala

  • 2/3 cup gram flour (besan)
  • ¼ cup oil
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • ¼ tsp citric acid (nimbu sat)
  • 4 tbsp chopped coriander
  • 4-5 green chillies coarsely ground
  • ½ tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Oil for frying

Recipe

For Dough

Mix the all purpose flour, salt, and oil. Add little water at a time and make soft dough. Cover and keep aside for 15 minutes.

For the Masala

Put oil and besan in a thick bottomed pan/non stick pan and mix well. Do not heat the oil before adding the besan. This will help you avoid lumps in the masala. Now switch on the flame and roast the besan and oil mixture for 3-4 minutes on low flame. Roasting time varies according to the heat. The color of the mixture should be light brown. Besan can burn quickly so make sure to keep mixing it nonstop. Switch off the flame. Add green chillies, coriander, red chilli powder, turmeric, citric acid, garam masala, salt, and 1 tbsp water. Mix well. Keep aide to cool.

Divide the dough and masala into 20 equal portions. Take one portion of the dough and stretch it (appx 3 inches) using your fingers. Put one portion of masala in the center and seal the edges and flatten it very lightly.  Roll the kachori twice using a rolling pin. Follow the same process for rest of the kachoris.

Warm oil in a kadhai/thick bottomed pan. Oil should be just warm and not hot when you put the kachoris in for frying. Fry on low flame till the kachoris are golden brown. Serve hot or at room temperature.

 

 

Paneer Wraps (Cottage Cheese Wraps)

Paneer Wraps (Cottage Cheese Wraps)

Paneer roll or Paneer wrap is a whole wheat wrap filled with paneer (Indian cottage cheese) and capsicum filling. Call it a roll or a wrap or a wrap and roll, for me it is a twist to my mom’s way of making us eat the roti sabji. She would just roll the potato curry in the roti and present it to us as a new snack she made for us and voila it would be finished in no time. I make this whenever I want to eat something “different” for dinner but still want to keep it healthy. This snack reminds me of my childhood and all the experiments I have done in the name of creative fillings for these wraps.

I did move ahead of the potato curry and roti combo and experimented with lots and lots of combinations of fillings. I added herbs to the roti dough to add more flavour. My love for adding herbs to food makes this snack stand out from the regular rolls with creamy sauces. You can experiment with the filling and add the vegetables/spices of your choice. I like the ginger and basil combo and nothing can go wrong when paneer is paired with capsicum. You can also add various fresh or dried herbs to add flavour to the rotis or wraps. You can even add pureed vegetables like carrot or spinach to make the wraps colourful and healthier.

I don’t like the wraps which drip while eating. You can be creative with rolling the wraps but this simple method works well for me. You can shape them like calzone and use cheese to seal the wraps or just simply roll them and seal with cheese. When cooking the wraps you can just warm them on a hot griddle or cook them slightly longer to make them crispy at the centre and soft at the edges. The filling and wraps can be made ahead and you can just roll and warm them before eating.

Paneer Wraps (Cottage Cheese Wraps)

Ingredients

Makes 6 wraps

For Wraps

  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • ¼ tsp oregano
  • Salt to taste
  • Olive oil/butter to cook the wraps

Filling

  • 1 cup chopped mixed bell peppers
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 7-8 basil leaves chopped
  • 1 tomato chopped
  • 2/3 cup paneer
  • 1tbsp ginger chopped
  • ½ tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 cheese slice
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • Salt to taste

Recipe

For the Wraps

Combine all the ingredients for wraps, add enough water and knead a firm dough. Cover and keep it aside for 10 minutes. Knead the dough again for 1 minute and divide into 6 portions. Roll out each portion into approximately 8-9 inches circle and cook on a hot griddle/tava till light brown spots form on both sides. Cook rest of the wraps and cover and keep aside.

For the Filling

Heat oil. Add ginger and sauté for 30-40 seconds. Add chilli flakes and oregano. Wait for few seconds and add onion. Once the onions are translucent, add capsicum and cook for a minute. Add paneer, tomato, salt, tomato puree, and basil and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Add the cheese slice and switch off the gas. Once the cheese slice melts, mix the filling well and keep it aside.

To make the Wraps

Divide the filling in 6 portions. Take a wrap. Add one portion of filling at the centre of the wrap and roll it tightly. Follow the same procedure for rest of the wraps. Cook the wraps on a hot griddle using little olive oil or butter. You can just warm them or cook till they are lightly crispy. Serve with ketchup or a dip.

 

Pita Pockets with Stir-fried Vegetables

Pita Pockets with Stir-fried Vegetables

Pita pockets filled with stir fried veggies. This is one of my experiments gone right and my favourite food for make ahead meals. This healthy meals is an excellent combo of multi grain pita pockets filled with fresh stir fried vegetables with a hint of pesto. These pita pockets are quite filling and can be had as a meal itself.

I put all my favourite veggies in this one. You can choose the ones you like. It helps to steam the carrots, beans, and broccoli ahead. Cook the filling on high heat throughout and it will be a good mix of crunchy bell peppers and soft steamed veggies. You can also experiment with the sauce. I like the pesto flavour for this one but the Chinese flavour (chilli, soya, and vinegar) works great too. This filling works well with a wrap or bread too.

Pita pockets are a part of Lebanese food but they are very versatile and can be enjoyed with variety of fillings. I prefer the multigrain pita pockets but you can go for the whole wheat or plain pita pockets too. You can toast the pita bread ahead and warm them up just before eating.

This is one of my best bets for healthy make ahead meals and can be had as dinner combined with a dip and may be some hot soup.

Pita Pockets with Stir-fried Vegetables

Ingredients

Makes 10 Pita Pockets

  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp ginger finely chopped
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 2 tbsp basil chopped
  • 1 tbsp garlic chopped
  • ¼ cup onion cut lengthwise
  • 1 cup bell peppers julienned
  • 2/3 cup broccoli steamed
  • ½ cup green beans cut lengthwise and steamed
  • ½ cup carrots cut lengthwise and steamed
  • ½ tsp white pepper powder
  • 1 ½ – 2 slices of cheese
  • Salt to taste
  • 5 pita breads

Recipe

Grind the basil and garlic coarsely with 1 tsp olive oil. Keep it aside. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a non-stick pan. Add ginger and sauté for 1 minute. Add oregano, chilli flakes, and onions and sauté. Add bell peppers and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add green beans, carrots, and broccoli and sauté. Add the salt, pepper, and the basil garlic paste. Mix well and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the cheese slices and switch off the gas. Once the cheese melts, mix the filling well and keep aside.

Heat a tava or griddle and lightly toast the pita breads on both sides. Once the bread is lightly toasted from both sides, cut the pita bread into two. You should have two pita pockets now. Divide the filling into 10 portions. Fill one portion in each pita pocket and serve warm. You can serve it with tomato ketchup or a honey mustard dip too.

Sprouts Salad

Sprouts Salad

Sprout salad is the simplest and healthiest way to beat the heat. It is quick to make and you don’t need to spend lot of time in Kitchen. Just sprout the beans of your choice, add the dressing, and chill. Come summer and I start looking for recipes which help me stay away from kitchen as much as possible. Summer in Singapore (I don’t know if there is any other season here) is very hot and humid and its salad for lunch every alternate day. This particular salad is easy, healthy, and my husband’s favourite too.

I have used moong and moth beans sprouts. You can try using alfalfa beans, chickpeas, radish, or even soya beans. Making sprouts at home is very easy. Just soak the moong and moth beans in water overnight. Next day, drain the water and tie the beans in a wet kitchen towel. Keep these tied sprouts in a covered container overnight and you have the sprouts ready. If you want the beans to sprout more, you can wash and tie them again and keep them covered for 12 more hours. You can store them in fridge for 1-2 days and use as required.

You can experiment with the toppings. Boiled potatoes, cucumber, grated carrots, and shredded cabbage are a great addition to this healthy salad. Morning breakfast, evening snack, or even lunch during summer this sprout salad can be enjoyed any time.

Sprouts Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 cups mixed sprouts (moong & moth)
  • ¼ cup mixed bell peppers chopped
  • 3 tbsp chopped onions
  • ¼ cup chopped tomatoes

For Dressing

  • 3 tsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp pepper powder
  • 1 tsp chat masala
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt to taste

Recipe

Combine the ingredients for dressing and mix well. Keep aside.

Mix sprouts, capsicum, tomatoes, onions. Add the dressing and mix well. Serve chilled.

Corn and Paneer Cigars

Corn and Paneer Cigars

Corn and paneer (cottage cheese) cigars. This very quick and easy to make snack is just mushy paneer and corn filled bread, rolled and deep fried. This is a twist to the sandwich I make with corn and paneer filling. With the IPL going and Football World cup round the corner, it is going to be lot of night outs and even more snacks and finger foods.

I don’t get the Indian corn here so I used the frozen sweet corn. This adds a hint of sweetness to the filling. If you don’t like sweet flavour, use the Indian corn which is not as sweet as the sweetcorn. Make sure not to crush the corn too much. Grind it very coarsely just enough to be broken into two pieces.

If you can use fresh paneer its great. Otherwise try thawing the frozen paneer cubes before you use them. I soaked the frozen paneer cubes in hot water for couple of minutes and it was good enough to crumble in the mixture.

I used white bread for this recipe but I would strongly recommend using the multigrain bread. It adds a lot to the flavour. Cut off the edges and roll the bread flat using a rolling pin. Do not forget to seal the edges well by wetting the edges with enough water. You can prepare the filling in advance and fry the cigars when you want to eat/serve them. You can serve these with ketchup or any other dip of your choice.

Corn and Paneer Cigars

 

Ingredients

Makes 8 cigars

  • ½ cup corn kernels
  • 6-7 cubes paneer
  • 1 green chilli
  • 2 inch piece of ginger
  • 8 slices of bread
  • 1 tbsp oil + more oil for frying
  • Salt to taste

Recipe

Steam the corn kernels and grind them very coarsely with green chillies.

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a non-stick pan. Add grated ginger and sauté. Add the corn and chilli mixture, paneer, and salt. Mix well. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Keep it aside.

Trim the edges of the bread. Roll the bread flat using a rolling pin. Add approximately 1 tsp of the filling in the centre. Wet the edges of bread with water and roll the bread carefully into cylinder shape and seal the edges.

Heat oil in a frying pan or kadhai and fry the bread cigars on medium heat till they are golden brown. Serve with ketchup or choice of dip. You can even cut the cigars into two to make bite sized snacks.

Five Layer Dip

Five Layer Dip

Five layer dip – the best Mexican dip I have ever tasted. Just five layers of beans, guacamole, sour cream, cheese, and salsa and you are eating the yummiest dip with your snack. Each layer is loaded with flavor and taste and goes well not only with Nachos but also with lot of other snacks. For most people this is a football snack or an interesting appetizer. For me it was a savior on my first trip to the USA. I was travelling alone and was the only vegetarian in my office team. My sister in law picked a box of five layer dip and a bag of tortilla chips on the way to my hotel and a day later I was just too thankful and happy to have this for snack/dinner. The hotel I stayed at did not serve lot of vegetarian food and I was just too jet lagged and tired to go find a vegetarian place. Five layer dip was heaven for me that time 🙂

You can buy the ready to eat re-fried beans cans available in the supermarkets but if you live in India, it might be tough to find the re-fried beans. Re-fried beans are usually the pinto beans, a type of rajma beans that we get in India so If you cannot find pinto beans, you can also use rajma (kidney beans) and it tastes the same. Just make sure to cook it well so that you can mash it even with the back of a spoon.

Guacamole is one of the health foods that tastes ‘wow’. Avocado is one of the healthiest foods (eat moderately as it is loaded with fats – even though they are good fats that your body needs). Guacamole can be made as per taste. You can add chopped coriander, olives or roasted bell peppers to add more flavor. For the five layer dip, I like this particular simple and quick recipe. You can make a chunky guacamole or a smooth one. For chunky guacamole, just chop the avocado and other things finely and mix them up or mash them coarsely.

I prefer my salsa homemade and fresh. It is very easy to make so I do not rely on the store bought bottle for this. Fresh salsa is juicy, crunchy, and healthy too. I just make the make basic salsa recipe for the five layer dip.

For the sour cream, some people add fresh herbs and mayo but I like it plain. If you do not get sour cream, you can use the fresh cream and add little lime juice and salt to it.

You can prepare this dip in advance and chill it. Just keep the salsa separate and add it just before serving. Five layer dip tastes best with Nachos or Tortilla chips. My suggestion is to try this dip with Khakhra. It tastes as good as it tastes with the Nachos.

Five Layer Dip

Ingredients

  • ½ cup sour cream (add little salt if you find the taste too bland)
  • ½ cup grated cheese ( I used a mix of Cheddar, Mozzarella, Monterrey Jack, and Colby)

For Re fried Beans

You can buy the ready to eat cans available in the market or just soak the beans overnight and cook them

  • 2/3 cup pinto beans soaked overnight (you can use rajma (red kidney beans) too)
  • 1tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • Salt to taste
  • ¼ cup water

For Guacamole

  • 1 avocado scooped and diced
  • 2 tbsp chopped tomato
  • 1 tbsp chopped onion
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tbsp. lime juice
  • ¼ tsp white pepper powder
  • Salt to taste

For Salsa

  • ½ cup chopped tomatoes
  • ¼ cup chopped capsicum
  • 2 tbsp chopped onion
  • 1 small green chilli de-seeded and chopped
  • 1 ½ tsp lime juice
  • 2-3 tbsp chopped coriander
  • Salt to taste

Recipe

For Re-fried beans

Pressure cook the beans for 8-10 whistles or until soft and mushy with enough water and little salt. Heat oil in a non-stick pan. Add the beans, cumin powder, chilli powder, and water. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Check for salt and add more if required. Mash the beans a little and cook for 1 more minute. Transfer to a bowl and keep aside to cool.

For Guacamole

Mix all the ingredients and grind to a semi smooth paste. You can keep the guacamole chunky if you like. To keep it chunky, chop all the ingredients finely and just mix them up.

For Salsa

Add all the ingredients for salsa in a bowl and mix well.

To make the dip

Take a trifle glass or bowl. Add a layer of re-fried beans. Add a layer of Guacamole, Fresh cream, and cheese, and salsa. You can serve it fresh or chill it for couple of hours before serving. Serve with tortilla chips, nachos, or our very own khakhras.

To serve it as a topping on Nachos

Spread Nachos in an oven proof dish. Spread each layer of dip as per taste on nachos and bake until the cheese melts (1-2 minutes in a microwave is enough). Serve immediately.

Pasta with Red Sauce

Pasta with Red Sauce

Pasta for me is undoubtedly one of the best foods on earth. This particular recipe is the first pasta recipe I learnt (I have modified it a little). My friend Deepak’s mom taught me to make this and I am so thankful that she introduced me to this wonderful and versatile food. Pasta can be mixed with various sauces vegetables. Arrabbiata or the spicy red sauce is the most common sauce that we vegetarians especially Indian prefer. This sauce is slightly different version of the simple arrabbiata sauce.

There are different shapes of pasta available but Penne pasta goes well with the red sauce and especially Penne Rigate holds up the tomato based sauces well. Spaghetti is another pasta that goes well with the red sauce. Choose the whole wheat pasta if you want a healthier version. Things to keep in mind while boiling the pasta are; always cook the pasta aldente (that is till it is just done). Over cooking will take away the taste and texture both. Secondly, you do not always need to add oil while boiling the pasta. Just add plenty of water and your pasta will never stick.  

Being a vegetarian does not mean adding just cheese to you pasta sauce. You can make it tastier and healthier by adding the vegetables of your choice. You can experiment with the sauce and add vegetables like carrot, broccoli etc and toppings like corn, olives etc. Traditionally pasta doesn’t have red chilli powder but I add it keeping in mind the taste of people I am cooking it for.

Try to mix the sauce just before serving. Pasta tends to absorb the sauce. If you want to prepare it in advance, save some extra sauce and add it just before serving the pasta. You can prepare the sauce in advance and just boil and toss the pasta in the sauce just before serving. You can sprinkle some cheese on top of the pasta or if you are a cheese lover, just add a layer of cheese on top of pasta and bake till the cheese melts.

Pasta is best enjoyed as a main course. Serve it with warm garlic bread.

Pasta with Red Sauce

Ingredients

Serves 2 (or 1 if you are a pasta lover like me)

  • 250 gms or 2 cups of penne pasta (choose whole-wheat if you want a healthier version)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • ¼ cup onions finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • ½ cup finely chopped mixed bell peppers
  • ½ cup finely chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper powder
  • 2 tbsp fresh cream
  • Cheese to taste and liking (optional)
  • Salt to taste

Recipe

Cook the pasta as per instructions on the packet. You can use the following method if you want to cook it al dente (literally means to the tooth)

In a thick bottomed vessel, heat 2 ½ litres of water. Add 15gms salt to it. Once the water starts boiling add the pasta and cook on medium flame for 11-12 minutes. When you chew the pasta, there should be slight resistance at the centre. Drain the pasta and keep aside. At this time, you can add a little olive oil to the pasta and toss them well so that they do not stick once they are cold.

Heat olive oil in a pan. Add oregano and garlic. Sauté for a minute and add onions. Cook for 1-2 minutes or till the onions are translucent. Add mixed bell peppers and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and salt. Cook for 3-4 minutes mixing the sauce in between. Add the tomato puree, red chilli powder, and pepper powder. Mix well and cook on slow flame till you see oil on top (approximately 5-6 minutes). Keep stirring the sauce in between. Add the fresh cream and switch of the gas. Add the boiled pasta and toss well. If you are not comfortable tossing the pasta, you can use a wooden spatula to very lightly mix the pasta with the sauce making sure you do not break the pasta.

Adding cheese is optional. You can sprinkle parmesan cheese on hot pasta just before serving or if you love cheese with pasta, arrange pasta in a baking dish and cover it with grated cheddar cheese. Bake till the cheese melts and serve hot.