Back to Basics : Bataka Poha

A classic from College times. The mad dash to the canteen for that tea that woke us up from the slumber of the 7.30 class and of course, poha for breakfast.

Thick Poha ( flat, beaten rice)
Boiled or finely diced Potato
Green Chilli- finely cut
2- 3 Cloves
Curry Leaves

Boiled potato works easiest, but you can also use diced raw potato. Begin by washing the poha in water. Just take poha in a colander and rinse briefly. Do not Soak poha at any cost.

Take about a tablespoon of oil in a pan, Add mustard seeds and wait for them to splutter . Then add the asofoetida, green chillies,curry leaves ,cloves. If using raw diced potato, add and saute until cooked through. Else add the Boiled potato and turmeric and saute.

Finally add the poha, saute on low heat - THE LOWEST you can go on your stove. Turn off and cover with a plate. After five minutes, top with coriander leaves, sugar and or lime juice if desired.



Soya Kheema with corn

Adapted from Ashwini's Gobi ka kheema

TVP- Textured Vegetable Protein Soya Granules
Ginger 1/4rth inch
Garlic 1 clove
Corn kernels
Pureed Tomato
Garam Masala

I have been looking for ways to include more soy products in my diet. Unfortunately, Tofu and I havent exactly hit it off.

Fortunately, I found this TVP or textured vegetable protein to be a palatable soy product. It is basically soy flour that has been extruded by machines into small granule sized shapes.

Follow ashwinis method, grate the onion, saute in oil with jeera. Add the soy granules. Grate the ginger and garlic into the pan. Add tomato puree. Add enough water to cover.

Boil for about 5-8 minutes, until you see the soy granules puff up.

I have not added any cream or even taken any trouble with the tomato gravy like ashwini. Do try that.


PS. TVP is usually available in the bulk bins of Food Coops and places like Whole foods.


Theme and Variation

I can almost hear the collective groan of my friends when they read the title of this post. What does it mean anyway? Many cooks approach each recipe as an individual in its own right. At the most; in a very Indian way, they might get to know its parents. Or maybe where it comes from. Given this curiousity, It is no surprise that most of us knew multicuisine restaurants growing up in India. Indian, Chinese, Italian, Continental - which in turn gave birth to their very own multi hyphenated offspring - Indian-chinese.... ad infinitum.

Geographic grouping is perhaps the most natural way to classify cuisine.

But let us cut from this dreamy discourse to the stovefront. Yes, the place where I stand , everyday , peering at vegetables and thinking ..hmm..I want to make something different today. I am bored with making the same old same old everyday.

What then?

So far, I would simply try another cuisine. Lets see, I had south Indian yesterday, Today is maybe mexican. With a tongue so pampered, reaching from the US of A to China and back, sifting through different recipes with similiar ingredients is a herculean task. First the exotic title, perhaps a tongue twister. Then imagining the end product and then the slow realisation that yesterdays south Indian meal is this close to being todays mexican except for two, minor - naah MAJOR differences in ingredients.

Hand to head, major slap, pain ensues - realisation dawns. Greek Tzatziki is Indian pachadi OR raita with olive oil, garlic and pepper minus the chilli and mustard tadka. Empanadas are samosas with different filling. Tortilla is roti.

This idea is also very useful for even common items such as Poriyals - french beans with Coconut. There is a Konkani variation, a Kerala variation and a Chettinadu variation.

I am going to try and come up with a better way to classify and approach recipes based on this idea of theme and variation, because it sure will make my life easier.

What about you?


Apple Chips

Golden delicious apples
Caster / Confectioners Sugar
Sesame seeds
Red Chilli Powder

Slice the apples horizontally into slices around 1 mm thick. As far as possible maintain uniform thickness, because different thicknesses will mean different baking times.

Take a baking tray, line with wax paper or parchment paper. Thoroughly cover with the confectioners sugar. Place the slices on the tray in a layer. Donot overlap the slices of apple. Cover with a generous sprinkling of confectioners sugar. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and red chilli powder for some kick. Alternate toppings could be fresh cinnamon powder or even ground ginger powder.

Bake at around 250 degrees F for around 2 hours or until you see the apple dry up and turn a nice deep brown. Take the tray out of the oven, if your slices donot turn crisp from the caramelized sugar within five minutes and stay mushy, you know that your slices are too thick.

Also watch out for burning. After one hour in the oven, keep checking every 15 minutes.

Oil a tray or some parchment paper. As soon as you remove the tray from the oven, transfer the chips to the oiled parchment. If the sugar crystalises before you can transfer all the chips, just place the tray in the oven again for five minutes.

Store in an airtight container in the referigerator to keep the slices crisp.


Sweet Potato Chips


30 Minute Veg Mex

1. Flour tortillas
41/2 cups plain flour
1-2 tsp salt
3 oz vegetable shortening
boiling water