Naan Therapy

Or should it be 'paratha' therapy …

Archive for the ‘South Asia’ Category

Coconut filled rice crepes, a Bengali delicacy

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Pati Shaptar Pithe/Pitha or coconut filled rice crepes. Pati means a mat, and shapta means simple in Bengali.

Grate raw coconut (or get frozen unsweetened grated coconut and thaw), about two cups, add sugar to taste and stir fry until golden brown. If you wish, you can add a tablespoon of raisins and a tablespoon of toasted and chopped cashew nuts or slivered almonds.

Pitha comes in various shapes. These are the simplest. To prepare the crepe batter, to a cup of rice flour, add a pinch of salt, and a tablespoon of sugar. Add milk, 2% or full fat preferably, until the batter consistency is like crepe. Heat up a non-stick pan. If needed, you can wipe it down with a buttered cloth/brush. Follow cooking temperature regimen for a crepe.

Pour about 1/4 cup of batter and roll it around on the hot pan to form a thin crepe.

As the crepe cooks, it starts to lift off the edges.

Add two tablespoons of filling. Optionally, form the filling in the palm of your hand in shape of a small spheroid.

Roll in form of a fat cigar.

Keep aside while you prepare the rest. These can be eaten warm or at room temperature. To take them to the next level (i.e. not simple), you can bake them in condensed milk as well but they do become heavy. Drizzling some condensed milk on top while not traditional can be an excellent substitute.

During this trip to India, I am seeing some new sweets in Bengal including baked rasogolla (boiled cheese balls dunked in sugar syrup) , Kolkata’s famous sweet and chana pora (literal translation for roasted cheese), a dish very similar to cheese cake.

Written by Som

November 21, 2014 at 6:16 am

Socca, Indian style

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We found some flowering coriander (aka cilantro) at the farmer’s market today. Normally this is cilantro past its prime but why not!

Harvest some of the flowers and young coriander seeds to make about a tbsp each.

Start with a cup of garbanzo flour, add 2 Tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper, 1 Tbsp of raw coriander seeds, 1/2 tsp onion (aka nigella) seeds and sufficient water to make this into a crepe batter consistency. You can substitute nigella with mustard seeds.

On a hot iron pan, add a tsp of oil. Ladle about 4 Tbsp of garbanzo bean batter and spread into a thin crepe. Cover and cook until the bottom surface is cooked, takes about a minute or so.

Flip and cook the other side. Keep in a covered container until all crepes are cooked. Don’t overcook or they can become dry. The steam from the crepes should keep them moist.

Serve with an indian style omelette – use the harvested coriander flowers, a finely diced thai green chili and finely diced fresh onions.

Written by Som

May 18, 2014 at 7:26 pm

Gluten free puri-aloo

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Buckwheat puri with aloo and yogurt raita

This dish is a different spin on peethi-ki-puri but is equally delicious and completely gluten free.

To make buckwheat puri, combine 1 cup of buckwhat flour with 1 tsp salt and 1 Tbsp mango powder. Add enough water and knead lightly until dough forms. Buckwheat doesn’t have gluten, so the dough will not have much elasticity. Divide into 10-12 dough balls, roll them flat gently with a little rice or buckwheat flour and deep fry one at a time in 350 degree oil.

Enjoy with your favorite potato (aloo) curry and salted yogurt or raita. And follow it up with a nice long hike to work off all those delicious carbs. Here are some photos from top of windy hill summit this weekend.

Skyline Blvd, facing south-west ward and looking down.

Looking east, you can see the salt ponds and Bay.

Looking north-west.

Facing south-west.

Written by Som

May 18, 2014 at 7:08 pm

Posted in Cuisine, South Asia

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Here is to mother’s day!

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Above is post-lunch drink. Chill the fluids – Blanton’s bourbon and Fever tree ginger ale. Combine half a bottle of ginger ale, gingerly, with an ounce of chilled bourbon. Sit back and enjoy this  slightly sweet, slightly gingery, slightly heady cocktail.

Lunch was a gluten free but otherwise a very Indian meal, something any mom would be proud to serve to her brood – buckwheat fritters with potato curry and raita. Sorry no photos – food disappeared before I had a chance to wipe oil off my fingers!

Make a potato curry. If you have a pet recipe, go with it. What you are looking for are curried potatoes with lots of light gravy, not the dry kind. Make a raita – for this meal, plain yogurt with a good dose of black salt is perfect.

To make the buckwheat batter, to 1 cup of buckwheat flour, add a teaspoon of salt, tablespoon of mango powder and 1 tsp of dried pomegranate seeds. Mix, add one cup water and stir until smooth batter forms. Buckwheat and sour flavor are brilliant together, so don’t skimp on the mango powder. This can be made up to a few days ahead. Preferably let the batter sit overnight.

Bring 2 or more cups of oil to about 350F in your favorite deep frying vessel. I am loving rice bran oil. Any high temperature oil is fine. Keep a paper towel lined cookie sheet in 250 degree oven. This is to keep the fritters warm while they are made in batches. Drop a tablespoon of batter at time in the hot oil. Fry unti the bubbles minimize. Transfer to cookie sheet.  Depending on the size of your frying vessel, you may be able to make up to 6 fritters per batch.

Ideally you want to serve the fritters as soon as they are cooked. But you can indeed keep the fritters warm in the meantime. Serve fritters with potato curry and raita for a not run-of-the-mill meal.

Written by Som

May 10, 2014 at 1:51 pm

Peethi ki Poori, lentil stuffed fried Indian bread

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Peethi ki poori served with potato curry

No pain, no gain. This is one of the more complex of Indian breakfasts that is better left to special occasions.

Peethi: Soak 1 cup dry Urad lentil, whole or broken with no husk, overnight, grind in a food processor so it is not a complete paste with no additional water. Add 2 green chilis, 1 tsp salt, roasted and crushed black peppercorn. In a heavy pan, heat 1 Tbsp of vegetable oil. Add a pinch of asafoetida and 1 tsp cumin seeds. Cook for 30-45 seconds until fragrant and add the processed lentil. Cook until the mass becomes sticky dough like. Let cool. This can be made upto a couple days in advance.

Potato curry: Peel and chop one large Idaho potato, in 1.5 inch cubes. In 1/4 cup water, add 1 tsp turmeric powder, 2 Tbsp sour yogurt and 2 Tbsp of tomato paste and make into a smooth paste. In a pressure cooker, heat 1 Tbsp oil. Add 2 whole red peppers, 1 tsp dry urad daal, 1 tsp mustard seeds, 1 tsp cumin seeds until they splutter and add the tomato-turmeric paste. Stir until fried and add the potato pieces. Stir to coat, add 1 tsp salt and add 2 cups of water. Pressure cook at medium for 5 minutes after the pressure builds up. Switch off and wait for pressure to subside. You can keep like this this for upto two days. When ready to eat, warm up, crush some of the potatoes with the back of your spoon, adjust for salt and add 2 Tbsp of chopped coriander leaves.

Poori dough: Take 2 cups of whole wheat flour, add 1 Tbsp vegetable oil, 1 tsp salt and necessary water to make into smooth dough. Let rest until ready to use. Heat oil for deep frying and maintain temperature while you roll out the poori’s.

Now get ready to put together the meal.
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Written by Som

July 14, 2013 at 5:31 pm

Aam ka achar, making mango pickles from scratch

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Cut and sun-dried green mangos, mixed with whole spices and topped with mustard oil.

What sells for pickles in Indian grocery stores is not particularly tasty or visually appealing. Often it is an over-salted,  pasty textured mass of disappointment.

Here is a young mango pickle recipe that is relatively easy to make if you have access to healthy dose of summer sun.

During early part of summer, you will find green mangoes in Indian grocery stores. Pick 4 mangoes that are super firm. Firmer they are, better they are for the purpose. Also gather some spices, you will need turmeric powder, coriander seeds, nigella seeds (aka kalounji), fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds, black peppercorn, and mustard oil.

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Written by Som

July 14, 2013 at 3:52 pm

Lers Ros, Thai food in San Francisco

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Larb Phed Yang – A chunk of roasted duck mixed with rice powder, chili powder and lime based salad dressing.

Pad Ped Alligator – Stir-fried Alligator with House made chili paste, Thai Eggplant Young pepper corn & Galangal

Lers Ros is a popular thai restaurant in tenderloin. Some say it is as good as Portland’s Pok-Pok. After looking at Yelp and Chowhound, we decided that Larb Phed Yang (duck salad) was a must have. We also decided to get the alligator from the special lunch menu.

The salad didn’t disappoint, the duck was moist and the whole dish packed a multitude of flavors that one tends to associate with south asian dishes. Raw onions had mellowed out in the lime. Basil leaves and coriander paired well with duck meat. Rice powder, somewhat grainy in texture like cornmeal, had added a crunchy texture to the duck meat which was itself cooked perfectly.

Flavors of Pad Ped Alligator were equally satiating. The curry didn’t have a coconut base and reminded me of Indian style curries. In particular I liked the fact that the quantity of green peppercorn was generous and I could actually taste them, they tasted like sichuan peppers without the numbing effect. Unfortunately, alligator meat itself was overcooked.

We went in on a weekend lunch expecting a crowd but there weren’t any. Restaurant itself is fairly canteen style. Staff is friendly and the menu is extensive. Although I won’t put Lers Ros in the same bracket as Pok-Pok, I am definitely returning. If it were my neighborhood restaurant, I would be doing take outs fairly frequently.

Written by Som

October 1, 2012 at 10:10 am