Did you know that I have a bucket list? Yes, it’s true. I have a bucket list of things that I want to cook by the end of 2011.
One item on the list is a layered cake. I’m terrified of making one, because, until recently, I wasn’t much of a baker. The idea of not only having to make the layers and the icing… but then actually ICE THE CAKE… well, it still makes me a bit nervous. But I’m going to do it! I promise!
Another item on the list is Indian food. I want to make one authentic Indian dish before 2012 rolls around. It could be matar paneer masala or fish with a traditional curry sauce, but I want to make something that is up there with some of the best Indian restaurants I’ve eaten at. Again, the idea of this scares me. But gosh darn it, I’m going to do it!
In the meantime, however, I am bringing you a guest post from my dear friend and talented food blogger, Prerna of Indian Simmer, who, as you can tell from looking at her beautiful blog, cooks only Indian recipes. Her photographs are nothing short of stunning and her posts are always so informative.
So now I leave you in Prerna’s very reliable hands. Enjoy!
I don’t remember how Brian and I got to know each other. I came across his blog first or he came across mine. But something I clearly remember is that as soon as I saw the gorgeous work he was doing on his website, I was hooked! Every few days I had to get my dose of A Thought For Food. I went back again to look at his photography and go, “Gosh, I wanna take that shot!” To read his stories and think, “Yes, that’s exactly what happened to me.” And today here I am, back on A Thought For Food, but this time I’m the one talking. Brian, thanks for the honor!
It’s the 4th of July and you must either be on a vacation with the family, out having a picnic or back in your backyard firing up the grill. This is when you can steal some time and enjoy it with people you love and care about. I too am celebrating with the tiny little family of mine. And while climbing the tree with your little one or chasing her in an open field, come pouring the memories of childhood.
I remember as children we did not have the luxury of getting away every long weekend. We had to wait the whole year for the summers to come until there were summer vacations. Every summer vacation our parents would take us to a new place. A new city every summer. India is a country of diverse cultures and one part of the country is so different from the other. So every trip used to be a new experience. Every summer used to be different from the previous. This one summer we went to Bombay (now Mumbai), the big city with the ocean, local trains, bustling streets and vada pav! Vada Pav was the first thing that we ate at the train station as soon as we stepped into the city. I remember me and my dad loving it so much that we ate just vada pav for the next three days! A fried potato dumpling sandwiched between two pieces of a pav (bread). It was good and its taste lasted long – until today!
It’s a hugely popular street food in India and has its origins in the state of Maharashtra. For the vada pav you need some potatoes – don’t ask what kind. In India back then if you asked for potatoes you’d get potatoes. No Russets, Yukons or Idahos, just potatoes. So out of two most important things for vada pav, one is potato and the second is pav. Pav is the dinner roll you use at your home every day. But it was not before I bit into the vada pav I made for this post that I realized that there was a third very important ingredient. That is this dry red coconut and garlic chutney. I forgot to make it before taking photos but very soon I realized the mistake, so please try and make this chutney to accompany your vada pav.
For Vada (potato dumplings)
3 medium sized potatoes (boiled, peeled and mashed)
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tbsp ginger paste
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp turmeric powder
¾ cup chickpea flour
½ tsp cayenne pepper
Salt to taste
Oil for deep frying
Heat about a tablespoon of oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds to it.
Once the mustard seeds start to pop, add ginger paste, mix with oil and then add cayenne pepper, salt, turmeric and potatoes.
Mix everything well together and mash the potatoes well, not leaving any big pieces.
Set aside and let it cool a little.
Now divide the potato filling into equal sizes and make balls out of it (this makes around 10- 12 balls)
In a mixing bowl, mix chickpea flour, salt and ½ tsp cayenne pepper. Add water and whisk well so that there are no lumps. Make a batter off of it. Batter should be of consistency similar to that of pancake batter.
Drop potato balls first in the batter coating them with the batter and then drop them in the oil frying them.
Once fried, take the balls out and drain excess oil in a paper towel.
To serve, split the dinner roll down the middle.
Place a vada in between and eat it just like that. You can also make it spicier by adding green cilantro chutney or dry coconut and garlic chutney (recipe follows) or some deep fried thai chili with sea salt.
For the dry chutney:
6-8 cloves garlic
1 cup dry (unsweetened) grated coconut
2 tbsp red chili powder (or cayenne pepper)
Heat a pan, add garlic and also grated coconut. On a medium low heat, cook while constantly stirring until the coconut is dry roasted and light golden.
Grind all the ingredients together. Don’t add any water, this chutney is supposed to be dry.