August 31, 2020

Vendhaya Kuzhambu | Fenugreek flavored tamarind gravy


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Its Monday again and time for our Foodie Monday Bloghop posting . This week is our 262nd week and we are going the healthy way by posting recipes made using ingredients that taste Bitter. Well, bitterness is something most of us detest and want to keep it away from our taste buds but that bitterness is needed once in a while for our stomach to keep the gut clean and detox the digestive system.

So going by our theme name "Bitter,but good" as suggested by Sasmita of "First Timer Cook" let us treat our taste buds with some Bitter Sweet recipes.  I plan to try her Magaja Ladoo which is special bhog for Lord Jagannath as part of the 56 bhog offering. 

Today's recipe is a tribute to my mom who used to make this wonderful "vendhaya kuzhambu" once a month and that is how I developed a liking to this slightly bitter tasting gravy . Coincidentally today is her birthday and I feel it definitely is a fitting tribute in her remembrance. I am sure she must be happy and looking over me and my family from wherever she is. 

A tamarind based gravy with subtle flavor of fenugreek powder, this is a very traditional Tamil recipe and prepared in most homes atleast once a month . Each house has their own recipe of preparing this kuzhambu.  I am going to share the recipe which I have seen from my childhood.  If you all have a different recipe of preparing this in your homes please do share the same with me , I would like to try them as well.

Health benefits of Fenugreek/Methi seeds/Vendhayam

  • Helps reduce blood sugar levels
  • Very good for lactating mothers in production of milk.
  • Application of soaked fenugreek seeds paste on the scalp and then washing the hair helps fight dandruff.
  • Fenugreek powder mixed in buttermilk aids in digestion and relieves stomach cramps. 
  • There are theories that consuming fenugreek regularly helps fight cholesterol but there is no proven evidence so far.

Preparation Time - 10 mins
Cooking Time - 30 mins
Complexity - easy 
Serves - 3 to 4



Ingredients 

2 tsp fenugreek powder 
200ml tamarind extract
Few curry leaves 
1 tablespoon sambar powder 
1 tablespoon gingelly oil/til oil
1 tsp haldi / turmeric 
2 tablespoon fresh grated coconut 
1 tsp jaggery powder
1 tsp mustard seeds 
Salt as needed 
 
Method 
  • Dry roast about 2 to 3 tablespoons of fenugreek in a pan until it turns golden brown and you get a nice aroma.Let it cool and then grind it into a fine powder in a blender . This recipe calls for only 2 tsp of fenugreek powder ,so the rest can be stored in an airtight container . It is difficult to get a fine powder if we grind very less quantity of fenugreek hence we roast some extra seeds.
  • Grind the coconut with a little water to a fine paste and keep aside .
  • Soak a medium lemon sized tamarind in hot water and keep the extract ready. 
  • In a pan heat the gingelly oil and splutter the mustard seeds and curry leaves.
  • After the seeds crackle add the sambar powder and methi seeds powder and fry on low flame for 5 to 10 seconds . 
  • Add the tamarind extract , haldi powder and required salt and boil till the raw flavor of tamarind is lost.
  • Once the raw flavor of tamarind is lost, add the coconut paste and jaggery powder and continue cooking for a few minutes. If  the kuzhambu appears too thick adjust by adding a little water.
  •  You can see the oil float on top , at this stage turn off the stove. Coconut paste and jaggery helps in cutting the bitterness of the fenugreek powder and gives a nice taste to the kuzhambu. 
  • Serve this kuzhambu with piping hot rice ,ghee and some roasted papads.

Some more tamarind based gravies on my blog 




Linking this to FMBH week 262 - Bitter, but Good 







August 29, 2020

Kootu Curry - Sadhya special (Vegan)


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 Kootu Curry also known as kootkari , kootu kari is an important recipe on the Sadhya menu for Onam or Vishu . For those who don't know what Sadhya is, it is the Malayalam word for a feast or an elaborate special menu. There are more than 10 items which includes  minimum 2 varieties of paysam along with various other items like  

[ Click on the individual items below to get their recipe . Kerala style rasam & sambar will be updated shortly on the blog ]

These are all the quintessential items of the sadhya and no sadhya is complete without these .

Coming to kootu curry now, "kootu"  in tamil or malayalam means a mixture or a mix and curry is word used to denote a gravy . So kootu curry means a mix gravy if we have to put it in lay man's terms . 

Traditionally native vegetables like yam(chenai), raw banana(kaaya), ash gourd(elavan) , red pumpkin (mathhan) are used in the preparation of kootu curry along with boiled black channa (chickpeas) or bengal gram dhall (channa dhall/kadala paruppu) . Like any other kerala recipe, this too requires a lot of fresh coconut and coconut oil . So please don't compromise on the quantity of coconut and coconut oil if you want to savor the original flavor of Kerala kootu curry .

In today's recipe, I have used a combination of red pumpkin (mathhan) and raw banana along with channa dhall . The other combinations that can be tried are 

Raw banana + yam 

Raw banana + ash gourd

Ash gourd + red pumpkin + raw banana /yam 

Yam + red pumpkin

**channa dhall or black chickpeas can be added to the above combinations.

Preparation Time - 15 mins 
Soaking Time - 8 hrs ( if using black chickpeas)
Cooking Time - 20 to 30 mins
Serves - 3 to 4 
Complexity - simple

Ingredients 

2 medium sized raw banana
200 gms red pumpkin 
1/3 cup channa dhall/bengal gram 
1/2 a coconut freshly grated 
3 to 4 red chillies
1 tsp jeera
1 tablespoon coconut oil
Fresh curry leaves 
1 tsp mustard seeds 
1 tsp jaggery 
Salt as needed 
1/2 tsp turmeric 

Method

  • Peel the skin of the pumpkin and raw banana and chop them into medium sized cubes .
  • Soak the channa dhall in water for about 10 to 15 mins .
  • Take 2 tbsp of coconut gratings and keep aside and using the rest ,grind coconut, jeera and red chillies with enough water to a semi fine paste .
  • In a pressure cooker add the chopped vegetables along with the soaked channa dhall , turmeric , pinch of salt and sprinkle some water and pressure cook for 1 whistle. 
  • If using black chickpeas then pressure cook it separately and add it to the curry later on with the coconut paste.
  • Once the pressure releases , open it and lightly mash the vegetables.  In a wide ,thick bottomed vessel, add the cooked vegetables, the ground coconut paste , 1/4 cup water and some salt and bring it to a nice boil until the raw flavor of the coconut and red chillies is lost. Add the jaggery at this stage.
  • Keep stirring and cook on low flame,else there is every chance of the coconut sticking to the bottom and burning.  This curry has to be thick, so pls donot add too much water. It will take about 2 to 3 mins and your kootu curry will be ready. 
  • In a dry pan roast the 2 tablespoon of coconut until it turns crisp and golden brown and keep aside .
  • Heat coconut oil in a kadai , splutter mustard seeds and fry the curry leaves and pour this tempering over the kootu curry along with the fried coconut.  Kootu curry is now ready to be served with steaming hot rice and some pappadums.



August 24, 2020

Dryfruit Kheer


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 Kheer, Payasam , Payesh , Payasa are different names used in various parts of India to refer to a delicious, creamy and rich milk based dessert.

Be it a festival or any happy occasion like birthday, wedding , new birth in the family or any achievement, we Indians love to celebrate it with a sweet dish which is most often the kheer.

If you may wonder why kheer is so famous , it is because it primarily uses only 3 basic ingredients rice , sugar and milk and most often these 3 ingredients are part of every kitchen and can be made easily without any effort.  Of course we can add on extra flavors like cardamom, dry fruits, saffron, rose or Kewra essence etc which gives more taste and richness to the basic kheer.

There are so many varieties of kheer that are prepared across the length and breadth of India and if we start preparing each variant everyday I am sure even 365 days will be less.

This week we are having Milk Special on FMBH as our theme and with the Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations coinciding with our theme how can I miss making kheer for our beloved Gannu and here it is ..for him and for you all as well. 


This time for prasad I made this delicious dry fruit kheer and offered it to Lord Ganesha .I must really thank Swaty who suggested this theme for the coming week and my favorite kheer recipe gets blogged today . Though I make this kheer very frequently,it somehow never made it to the blog .  You must head over to Swaty's  blog ;"Food Trails" and check out her vast collection of recipes from cuisines world over.  Her food clicks are droolworthy and very nicely framed . I am excited to try her Shahi Paneer Kofta Curry which will be a super hit in my home as hubby is a die hard fan of paneer.

Traditionally, rice is cooked in milk and it takes a while for rice and milk to simmer and reach a thick consistency.  This time around I was a little behind schedule and did not have much time to go about with the slow cooking method, hence I have used pre cooked rice and simmered it in milk and the final result was just like the traditional method. So you definitely can go about and try this fail proof method for a delectable and creamy kheer .

Kheer is such a delicacy which tastes delicious when it is warm but some like it when served chilled . I prefer warm kheer or paysam personally. 

As I was preparing it for prasad , I cooked the rice separately and also used a fresh packet of milk . 

Some traditional, tasty and lipsmacking payasam/ kheer recipes on my blog for you to try

Preparation Time - 25 mins
Cooking Time - 30 mins
Complexity - easy 
Serves - 2 to 4


Ingredients 

500ml milk 
3 tablespoons cooked rice 
Assorted dry fruits chopped (badam , pista, cashews )
100 gms Sugar  (adjust as per your taste)
1tsp cardamom /elaichi powder
Few strands of saffron/kesar 

Method 
  • Boil the milk in a thick bottomed vessel . The vessel needs to have a thick bottom so that the milk doesn't stick to the bottom and starts burning.  
  • Take about 2 tablespoons of this warm milk and soak the saffron strands in it and set aside.  This will release all the flavors of saffron along with a nice yellow color. 
  • Once the milk reaches a boiling stage, add in the cooked rice and on a slow flame keep simmering the milk with regular stirring until the milk begins to thicken and reduce in quantity. 
  • Add the chopped dryfruits , saffron soaked milk , cardamom powder and sugar and continue stirring.
  • After adding sugar, the kheer will turn slightly watery as the sugar melts. Keep stirring on low flame and after about  8 to 10 mins the kheer would reach a nice creamy consistency. 
  • You can switch it off at the stage and let it settle down for a while. 
  • Over time on cooling the kheer will thicken further . So if you want it to be little diluted, you can add warm milk before serving and adjust the consistency as you may like it .
  • You can also add some rose or kewra essence if you like that flavor . I donot add any essence as the flavor of cardamom and saffron itself is very delectable. 
  • If you want to try the Vegan version of Dry fruit kheer then check the recipe here .

Linking this to week #261 milkyway theme on foodie Monday bloghop 


August 17, 2020

Kesar Pista Shrikhand


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 Shrikhand is an Indian dessert prepared using thick yogurt . It is very popular in Western India , especially Maharashtra and Gujurat and occupies a very important place in the menu during marriages and festive occasions.  

Shrikand puri combination is a match made in heaven and there will hardly be anyone who doesn't like this .  Your taste buds are in for a treat when you dunk piping hot puri into some chilled shrikand and savor it . Shrikand and Basundi are the two must have dessert as a part of Maharashtrian  cuisine . Donot forget to check my Basundi recipe under 15 mins presented on my blog .

Shrikand is made in different flavors like cardamom (elaichi) , badam pista (almonds- pistachio) , kesar pista (saffron- pistachio) and fruit flavored too . Aamrakhand is the most favorite fruit flavor shrikand where sweet Mango puree is used for flavoring the yogurt.

Preparation of shrikand is absolutely easy and a child's play .No cooking is involved absolutely and can be made in just about 5 mins . We need to have patience just to prepare the hung curd by draining out the water from the set yogurt.  This can take anywhere between 2 to 6 hrs depending upon how thick the yogurt is . If there is less water content in the yogurt ,then preparation of hung curd takes only about 2 hrs else it might take more time.  Donot forget to follow the tips mentioned  below to get a thick and creamy hung curd .

This Monday for our Foodie Monday Bloghop we are enjoying some MeethePal (Sweet Moments) to enliven the festive season . Come August , India wears a festive look with lots and lots of festivals lined up till January and there is pomp , glory, colors and people rejoicing with food , beautiful clothes and dhol /bhaja /dances all over.  This year though everything is being celebrated at a very low scale due to social distancing measures , we decided to paint our bloggers group with sweets . Sujata ji of Batter up with Sujata suggested this lovely theme of "Sweets" and now all of you be ready for a Sweet Storm 😀.   If you are a fan of Roshogollas like me then you must try Sujata's recipe of Sugarfree Roshogolla .

Tips to get the perfect hung curd 

  • Use thick yogurt set using full fat milk . Donot use left over dahi or curd as it would have released its whey and the dahi will not be thick .
  • I personally prefer the store bought yogurt /dahi as they are evenly set and prepared using homogenized milk . Meaning the texture of the yogurt is even and doesn't have too much water content. 
  • Those who have an access to greek yogurt, that is the best as you need not worry about draining the water for a long time to get  creamy hung curd.
  • A nice clean muslin cloth or even a thick soft cotton cloth can be used for straining the whey from the yogurt.  I have used white cotton dhoti cloth for straining the dahi .
  • It is always best to use white color cloth as there is no risk of color running and making the dahi inedible.
  • If the weather is very hot , you can strain the dahi and leave it in the fridge so it doesn't turn sour. 
  • Keep a separate cloth for this purpose, wash it and dry under sunlight after every use and store it away safely .

Pre Preparation time - 2 to 5 hrs 

Cooking Time - Nil 

Actual Preparation - 5 mins 

Serves - 2 to 3


Ingredients 

400ml thick yogurt or dahi or curd

15 to 20 strands saffron /kesar 

2 to 3 tablespoons chopped unsalted pista

3 tbsp powdered  sugar 

2tbsp warm milk. 


Preparation of Hung curd

Take a wide mixing bowl and place a strainer over it lined with a muslin cloth/ cotton cloth and pour the curd into the cloth . I have used shop bought thick curd for an even consistency. 


Bring the ends of the cloth together, squeeze it once and tie it very tightly . Place a heavy object over the tied cloth and leave the colander over the mixing bowl so that all the whey water will get collected in it . Keep squeezing the cloth occasionally to drain the excess water . 


After about 2 to 3 hrs , you can see all the whey collected in the bowl below and when you open the cloth all that is left is thick creamy mass which is hung curd . Squeeze it once again before removing it from the cloth to ensure there is no water content left.  When you touch the hung curd , it should appear thick and creamy without any excess water.  If you find it watery, leave it for somemore time in  the cloth with the weight on . 

Donot waste the collected whey, you can use it while kneading the dough for rotis or even to prepare buttermilk or Chaas


Preparation of Shrikhand

Soak the saffron strands in the warm milk ..this enables the saffron to release its flavor and color and makes it easy to blend in with the shrikand .


Take the hung curd in a wide mixing bowl. Add in the powdered sugar and saffron mixture and whisk well until it appears creamy and the sugar is mixed well into the hung curd . Adjust sugar if you feel you need it a little more sweeter .


Lastly add the chopped pistachios, mix it and refrigerate it until serving . Shrikand tastes best when served chilled .


Some more traditional sweets on my blog 

Akki Kadlebele Payasa (rice channa dhall kheer) 

Kerala traditional Paal Payasam 

Gass Gasse Payasa (poppy seeds kheer) 

Semia Payasam

Jawwarsi semia paysam  ( sago vermicelli kheer)

Chakka Pradhaman (jackfruit kheer) 


Linking shrikhand to FMBH week 260 Meethe pal 



August 09, 2020

Orange Granita - Vegan Dessert


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 Granita is a frozen fruit based dessert made using fresh fruit juice and a sweetening agent like honey or sugar and then freezing it . Granita has its origin somewhere in Italy and is popular all over Italy and relished in various flavors . 

Granita is also known as Granita Sciciliana as it was originally made in Sicily . 

To  me this Granita personally reminded of the Indian ice slush delicacy "Gola" ,"Chuski" or "Ice Gola"  where flavored syrup is poured over slushed /crushed ice and topped with some spices like chat masala. When I took a bite of this Orange Granita , I was transported to my childhood where we would occassionally get to indulge into a Gola and my favorite was Kala Khatta or Orange Gola.

I donot mind calling Granita as "Desi Gola Videshi Andaaaz mein"  

If you are wondering, why am I posting this Italian Dessert out of the blue especially when it is chill and raining in many cities in India , well you guessed it right ! It is Monday and time for our weekly post on Foodie Monday bloghop . This week it was Archana's turn to suggest and majority of us opted for Fruit Based Dessert and that is how Orange Granita was born in my kitchen. Archana has some delectable recipes on her blog "The Mad Scientist's kitchen" and true to the name she definitely experiments a lot like a Scientist with her ingredients and recipes. Some of her recipes on my To Do list are Ice Cream Loaf Cake , Samosa Chat . Do check out her space for some really delicious bakes and desserts. 

How does a Granita look like ?

Granita has a crystalline texture and resembles more like crushed ice .

How do we achieve the texture ? 

We must not let the fruit juice freeze completely. In intervals of 30 to 45 mins we must take it out of the freezer and scrape off the slushy mixture and this must be done till the entire mixture appears like crushed ice .

How long does it take to set the granita?

Minimum setting is around 3 hrs. It may take longer depending on the freezer's temperature control.

What is the shelf life ?

Granita stays fresh upto a week when kept properly stored in the freezer.

What are the main ingredients in a Granita?

There are just 3 main ingredients fruit juice , water and sweetener . Sweetener can either be sugar or  honey . Any kind of fresh fruit juice or even flavored fruit juice can be used . The quantity of sugar or honey to be used depends on the sweetness of the fruit juice. We can adjust the level of sweetness accordingly.

How is granita served ?

It is served more like a slush based drink in either small cups or little bowls with a spoon or straw.  Keep the granita frozen  until you serve.

Ingredients

300ml fresh orange juice. 

**you can also used canned orange juice if you donot have fresh oranges. 

1 tbsp lemon juice

2 to 3 tbsp sugar 

Method

Melt the sugar in 1/2 cup water  and boil until it melts. Let the sugar syrup cool for a while.

Now stir in the orange juice and lemon juice into the sugar syrup and mix it well.

Transfer it to a freezer safe container , cover it with a lid or cling film and place it in the freezer.

After 45 mins, take it out of the freezer and you can see that it has set partly and appears semi frozen. Take a fork or spoon and break all the semi frozen crystals and put it back into the freezer. The mixture will appear like a slush now. Donot worry about it.

After the next 45 mins take it out again and break the crystals . This time it would have frozen a little more than the last time. 

Repeat this process of breaking the crystals until the entire juice now appears like crushed ice and has a granular teaxture . Keep it frozen until you serve.


To serve, take a scoop and scrape out a mixture of the granita and place it a dessert bowl or small cups and serve. You can drizzle some honey for extra sweetness or garnish with some cherries or mint as well. 


Some delicious and unique fruit based desserts from my blogger friends that will surely interest you all -

Lip smacking Mango & Passion fruit paletas by Mayuri ji of Mayuri's Jikoni 

Innovative Watermelon Pizza by Poonam who blogs at Annapurna

Evergreen Mango Mastani by Kalyani of Sizzling Tastebuds 

Healthy watermelon berry smoothie by Swaty who owns Foodtrails25

Refreshing Lemon icecream by Priya of Photowali

Granita is being linked to week 259 - Fruity Bites

August 07, 2020

Pottukadalai Chutney - No coconut Fried gram chutney - Vegan


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Chutney is the most essential part of breakfast be it  Idli , dosa, upma or Dhoklas & cheelas .

Every morning the first thing that comes to our mind is what chutney to make? Albeit, coconut chutney is the most loved as well as preferred chutney in most households ,sometimes we would like to have a different chutney to be paired with our breakfast. 

Pottukadalai Chutney is a delicious and spicy chutney which is made using fried gram and is a keeper when you have run out of coconut or want to prepare chutney for someone who does not eat coconut.

What is pottukadalai or fried gram ?

Roasted bengal gram or channa dhall is known as pottukadalai . There are various names such as hurigadle/putaani (kannada) , udaicha kadala / pottukadalai (tamil) , chutney dhall (hindi) . This dhall is very rich in Iron and low in calories. Also as it is rich in fiber it helps with digestion.

What are the uses of roasted gram ?

In south Indian cuisine it is used in preparation of chutney, fried snacks  and a very delicious sweet called Maa Ladoo

I love this chutney personally and it goes very well with most variety of dosas . Make it a little runny , you can dunk the idlis and vadas into them and savor every bite of it as the chutney gets absorbed very well into soft fluffy idlis or crunchy vadas. 

Chutney varieties on the blog 

Peanut Ginger Chutney

Ginger Curryleaves Chutney 

Phalli Chutney (Andhra Special)

Pudina Chutney 

Coconut Chutney 

Tomato Chutney


Preparation Time - 5 mins
Cooking Time - 1 min
Serves - 2 to 3
Complexity- easy

Ingredients 
1 cup fried gram / pottukadalai /chutney dhall
2 to 3 green chillies 
2 tbsp Finely chopped corriander 
1 tsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
Pinch of asafoetida 
Salt as needed 

Method
  • In a blender jar , add the fried gram , green chillies , salt and corriander and give a quick run to make it crumbly .
  • Add 1/2  cup water and grind it once more to get the desired chutney consistency. 
  • Transfer to a serving bowl and pour a tempering of mustard and asafoetida prepared in hot oil .
  • You can adjust the spice level based on the chilly variety you are using . If you want your chutney to be a little runny , add some water and adjust salt accordingly.  


August 02, 2020

Kothimbir Wadi - vegan & deep fried


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A classic traditional recipe from Maharashtra prepared with lots of fresh corriander, fresh spices and gram flour . I have already posted the shallow fried version of kothimbir wadi in my blog but the traditional and authentic version calls for deep frying of the Vadis. 
These vadis are cooked twice; once while steaming and second time while frying in oil or shallow frying , so the raw flavors of cilantro /coriander and gramflour are totally gone and the vadis tastes absolutely delicious. 
Maharashtrians love to have this snack and never miss an opportunity to indulge when fresh coriander is available in plenty .
Some other popular Maharashtrian delicacies which you may want to try


It is Monday already and time to post our weekly FMBH theme post. This week it was my turn to suggest a theme and most of them voted for #MeeMarathi  - traditional Maharashtrian cuisine.  #CracklingPeanut was another choice which also had a good number of votes but MeeMarathi won hands down . So dear friends keep checking out my Facebook space for the wonderful recipes dished out by my fellow bloggers in the coming days which I shall be posting . It is my 8th week since I joined this lovely group of bloggers who have been dishing out lovely theme based recipes for 250+ weeks and now we are in the 258th week of Foodie Monday Bloghop. 

Preparation Time : 20 mins
Steaming Time : 15 mins
Frying Time : 10 mins
Complexity : medium


Ingredients 
1 medium bunch fresh corriander/kothimbir 
3 to 4 green chillies
150 gms besan/gram flour
1 tbsp rice flour
1 tsp finely chopped ginger 
2 small cloves garlic pods (optional)
2 tsp white sesame/safed til 
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp dhaniya powder 
1/2 tsp baking soda
1tsp sugar
Asafoetida as needed 
Salt as needed 

Method 
Wash the corriander to clean all the mud, remove all the roots, yellow and wilted leaves and chop them finely or give it a quick pulse in a food processor /chopper.

In a blender jar grind the ginger , green chillies and garlic to a fine paste with a little water..if yiy don't want garlic, skip that . I have not used garlic in my recipe .

In a wide mixing bowl, add the chopped corriander, ginger green chilli paste , salt , sugar , red chilli powder,haldi, dhaniya powder , Asafoetida and mix it nicely with your fingers such that all flavors get incorporated. 

Add the gram flour , sesame seeds , baking soda and rice flour to this corriander mixture and rub it well till it appears crumbly . Check for salt at this stage, if you want you can add some salt and spices.


Add water little by little and form a soft but stiff dough . 


Grease your palms and make cylindrical logs from the dough and place it in a steamer for 10 to 12 mins . Insert a knife into the steamed dumplings and it should come out clean.  That means they are steamed perfectly.  If you feel that they are undercooked continue cooking for another few mins.



Let them cool well. Now slice them into small roundels.  I kept these slices in the refrigerator for 30 mins before frying . By doing this the slices held the shape well and didn't crumble while frying .



Heat oil in a kadai and drop these slices one by one in the hot oil and fry them on medium flame .Donot crowd the oil with many slices.



Fry till they turn golden brown and appear crispy. Repeat the steps until all the slices are fried . Serve hot with chutney or tomato sauce. 




Linking this to week 258 - MeeMarathi