July 21, 2022

Chakkavaratti | Chakkavaratiyadhu - Jackfruit Preserve


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 Jackfruits are still available in plenty in most places in India and will surely be available for a few weeks more . If you are done with your quota of eating fresh , ripe and juicy jackfruits then I suggest you must make this delicious jackfruit jam /preserve a delicacy from Kerala known as Chakka Varatti or Chakka Varatiyadhu. 

Chakkai in Malayalam means Jackfruit and Varatiyadhu means reduction /simmering process .So basically we make a tasty relish or jam like preserve from jackfruit pulp and jaggery to relish all year long when fresh jackfruits aren't available. 

You can also use fresh ripe jackfruit to make delicious Chakka Pradhaman (Jackfruit Payasam) and Chakka Unniappams . (Fritters) 

I learnt this recipe from Chandra Muthukrishnan aunty, who is an expert in making traditional and complex dishes in a breeze .She guided me  over whatasapp while I was making this and gave a final approval when I shared the video of the finished product . 

Traditionally in olden times, making chakka varatti was a long drawn process and the ladies of the house had to toil a lot to prepare since modern day gadgets like gas stoves, food processors or pressure cookers were not available. 

The jackfruit pods had to be boiled over wooden or charcoal stoves and then using grinding stone the pulp had to me made and then further cooked in huge bronze vessel called Uruli with jaggery and  ghee for hours together to get the perfect taste and texture . Now making chakka varatti is a lot easier and we can prepare it effortlessly at the comfort of our homes .


Preparation Time -20 mins
Cooking Time - 35 to 45 mins
Complexity - complex 

Ingredients 

14 to 16 ripe jackfruit pods 
jaggery powder  (same measure as jackfruit pulp) 
2tsp of cardamom powder 
ghee as needed 

Method 


  • Deseed the jackfruit pods and pressure cook it with 1/4 cup water for 2 whistles on medium flame .
  • Let the pressure release naturally, strain the excess water and let the jackfruit cool down .
  • Blend the cooked jackfruit into a smooth pulpy puree in your blender.
  • Measure the pureed jackfruit and take the same quantity of  jaggery powder ..eg if you get 1 cup of puree, using the same cup measure 1 cup of powdered jaggery and 1/2 cup ghee .


  • Melt the jaggery in 1/4 cup water and strain it for impurities. 
  • In a heavy bottomed pan ,heat the strained jaggery syrup and let it come to a nice bubbling boil .
  • At this stage add the jackfruit pulp and mix it nicely till the jaggery and pulp blend in well.
  • Keep stirring on low flame and you can see the mixture begins to cook and starts giving out a good aroma . 
  • The key is in stirring without a break as there is a chance of the mixture getting burnt easily . 
  • The mixture begins to thicken and reduces in quantity after 10 mins,at this stage add some 3 to 4 tbsp of ghee and mix well . The entire ghee gets absorbed by the mixture and you can see a nice glossy look.
  • After some time you can see that the entire jam looks glossy and begins to leave the sides of the pan easily and resembles the texture of a jam .
  • Now add the balance ghee ,cardamom powder and continue to cook for sometime. When you drop a blob of the chakka varatti using the ladle, it should slide off and fall down easily . This is the correct texture .turn off the stove at this stage and let it cool . The  jam will slightly thicken more after cooling. Donot worry about that. Once cooled, transfer the chakka varatti to a dry container using a dry spoon and refrigerate it. (Check the video below for the consistency)



Note

To have a prolonged shelf life ,never thaw the entire preserve for a long time.  Take out the desired quantity and put it back into the refrigerator.  This way the chakka varatti stays for almost 1 year .



July 09, 2022

Brussel Sprouts Spinach Cheela (Vegan Breakfast)


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 Cheela or Besan ka cheela is a popular brekfast  in North India made from gramflour known as Besan . There are many variants in making cheela ,can be plain with just basic spices used for flavoring or we can add in some finely chopped veggies and make it a healthier version .

Cheela makes for a very filling breakfast and also a perfect lunch box option.  Gramflour is certainly a magic ingredient which makes the recipe absolutely delicious and tasty . This morning it was raining and chilly making us want to indulge in something that would pep us up for the day and we dint want to have anything deep fried ,so that's how this healthy breakfast was made .



I generally make Tomato Omlettes which are a very popular Street food in Bombay, today this cheela was kind off fusion recipe where I used finely chopped Brussel Sprouts and spinach in the recipe. I used my mini  uttapam pan to make bite sized cheelas just for fun and fancy sake but you can always use the regular dosa pan to make them . If you don't have Brussel sprouts you can also used finely chopped cabbage mixed to the batter.

Brussel sprouts belong to the cabbage family and very popular in western countries.  Brussel sprouts are a good source of vit C and vit K . Exercise medical caution if you are on any kind of medication or blood thinners before using Brussel sprouts . Also,they have a slightly strong odor and turn rubbery when over cooked ,hence donot overcook and keep and eye while cooking 


Preparation Time - 15 mins
Cooking Time - 20 mins
Complexity - simple
Serves - 3 to 4

Ingredients 
2 cups gramflour/besan
2.5 cups water 
2 tsp red chilli powder 
1 tsp crushed ajwain /carom seeds
1 finely chopped green chilli 
1/2 cup Brussel sprouts finely chopped 
1/4 cup spinach finely chopped 
Handful of corriander and mint finely chopped 
Salt as needed
Finely grated ginger 
Pinch of asafoetida 
Oil to roast the cheelas

Method


  • In a wide mixing bowl prepare a lump free batter using the gramflour. 
  • Add the red chilli powder, salt, asafoetida,ginger, crushed carom seeds, chopped Brussel Sprouts, spinach and the mint + corriander and mix well.
  • Adjust salt and spices if needed and let the batter rest for 15 mins . The batter should be of pouring consistency like that of dosa batter. 
  • Heat the pan and pour the batter from center and slightly spread it outside.  Keep it slightly thick and don't spread it too thin. 
  • Drizzle oil around the cheela and let it cook on medium flame . Gramflour takes a while to cook,so don't rush into flipping it over .
  • Once the top side appears dry,carefully flip it over and cook the underside .
  • Take it off the pan and serve it with tomato ketchup or green chutney.  You can also grate some cheese or slather some butter when serving it to kids.  

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July 05, 2022

Patal Poha Chivda / पातळ पोहा चिवडा - vegan snack (low fat)


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 Chiwda is a traditional Maharashtrian snack made during Diwali alongwith the various other snacks. 

Patal Poha chivda is prepared using thin paper variety rice flakes and very easy to make. Hardly uses a few spoons of oil ,making it a healthy choice to indulge.  A perfect snack to compliment a hot glass of coffee or tea . You can make this anytime during the year and store it in an airtight container.  Stays good for almost 10 days. 

Patal poha chivda is made by dry roasting the poha and is seasoned with mild spices and garnished with lots of roasted groundnuts, roasted gram and even cashew nuts .

Having grown up with a lot of Maharashtrian friends around this snack was a regular feature at home and even now I make it frequently but somehow it never made it to the blog .

This time when Poonam suggested Maharashtrian cuisine for our Shhh cooking secretly group,  I planned to make this chiwda with the secret ingredients Green chilli and roasted gram given to me by Aruna and she prepared Khamang kakdi - healthy cucumber salad using the secret ingredients peanut and mustard that I gave her . Poonam's Shakkarpaare is my next in list for 4pm snack. 

Some traditional Maharashtrian snacks from my blog for you all to enjoy 

Cornflakes Chiwda 

Poha Chiwda

Sabudana Chiwda

Thikhat Shankarpaali

Kothimbir Wadi 

Sabudana Wada


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

Ingredients 

3 cups thin rice flakes /patla poha
1/2 cup groundnuts 
1/4 roasted gram (chutney dal)
2 to 3 green chillies finely chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp powdered sugar 
Handful fresh curry leaves 
2 tbsp oil 
Pinch of asafoetida
Salt as needed 

Method

  • Firstly sieve the poha through a sieve.This step is optional ,you may do this if you find many small powdery  rice flakes in your packet.
  • Heat a thick bottomed pan and dry roast the poha/rice flakes until they turn crispy . If you crush it with your fingers the poha must crumble easily . At this stage ,transfer the roasted poha to a plate .set aside 
  • In the same pan,heat the oil and fry the ground nuts followed by roasted gram,green chillies and curry leaves one after another until they turn crisp. 
  • Add the asafoetida, turmeric powder ,salt and the roasted poha . Toss it gently with a wooden ladle and mix all the ingredients well . Do this on low flame. Turn off the flame and add the powdered sugar in the end and  mix it all gently .
  • Let the chivda cool down for a while ,then transfer it to an airtight container and store away from moisture .