Sunday, 14 June 2020

Aai's Aluvadi

Alu Vadi or Colocasia roulades

She’s rarely on Facebook, but a chance log in brings up a close up shot of alu vadis posted by a friend from college days. She calls the friend to say how the picture reminded her of her dear Aai, who passed away two years ago.

An excellent cook, her Aai made the tastiest alu vadis, which her family loved, and even froze them in batches when she went visiting her other children in different parts of the world.

Could it be that it’s not the alu vadi she is missing, but the ritual of Aai making the vadis and her relishing the delicacy? Could she be regretting making light of Aai’s telling her to come and help so she learns how?  And rueing taking Aai’s presence for granted?

She rushes to assure the commiserating friend that she’s not sad. She struggles to say she’s reliving the happy memory of her beloved Aai.

There are three small alu leaves peeping from behind another plant sharing the pot, she tells her friend. Aai’s project, which bore leaf only now. And there’s that packet of “bhajani flour” that Aai got back from her last trip to India.

Perhaps a sign, thinks the friend. Why don’t you make some vadis? Let me send you the recipe with detailed instructions.

And that’s a start.

The friend’s daughter listens intently, sensing a lesson there.

“Mum, I must learn how to make “polis” like you before you die or become too old and infirm to make them for me.”

And mother and daughter laugh heartily.

“Natsukashii” is Japanese word similar to nostalgia, but without the pain. It is denotes a memory or emotion that allows one to relive happy memories of the past.

Is there a word to denote a future painful event that is planned happily in the present?

Alu Vadi or Colocasia roulades

6 large Alu (or any large leafy greens like swiss chard, kale, large leafed spinach or cabbage leaves)
1½ cups besan (preferably laadu besan – which is slightly coarse) or bhajani – mixed flour of dry roasted grains like jowar, bajri, rice, and pulses like chana daal, moong dal, urad daal etc.
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 or 2 tsp red chilly powder (or more)
¼ tsp ajwain powder
1 tsp garam masala or the Marathi goda/kala masala
1 tsp sesame seeds
2 tsp desiccated coconut
1 tsp khus khus (white poppy seeds)
½ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp hing
2 tbsp thick tamarind pulp (or 2 tsps if using a tamarind concentrate) or 2-3 tbsp amchur powder- this is indispensible when making alu vadi to nullify the effect of the calcium oxalate crystals in colocasia leaves that make the throat itchy!
2 tbsp powdered jaggery or brown sugar (or more)
½ tsp Eno Fruit Salt / soda bi carb (optional)
Salt to taste
2 tbsp oil for the batter
Water to make batter
Oil to shallow fry (optional)


Carefully wash the alu and dry using kitchen paper. Cut the stems close to the leaf. Flip each leaf over and slice off as much of the thick veins as possible without tearing the leaves. Then flatten each leaf with a rolling pin.

In a bowl add all the ingredients and make a paste quite like a cake batter. Adjust the flavours and tastes to your liking.

On a work surface, lay the largest leaf of the bunch, deveined side up and coat the batter in a thin layer evenly on its surface. Place the next largest leaf on top of it again the deveined side up, this time ensure the broad base is placed on the narrow tip of the leaf underneath to cover the gap.

This laying of leaves in reducing size order and the alternating of leaves with narrow tip covering the broad base enables you to create a slightly even rectangular stack of leaves to roll together with a little more ease.

Repeat the process, alternating the position of the leaves as above. I used three super sized leaves for each roll.

You could use a few more leaves, but remember that you should be able to roll the stack easily. Stacking too many leaves on top of each other may make it difficult to roll.

Make sure that the paste covers the entire leaf, but coat sparsely and equally on all the leaves.

Roll the entire stack firmly, not too tight and not too loose. You could even fold the edges of the long sides a little, like you do with spring rolls.

Seal the end with some batter and rest the roll with the end tucked underneath.

You’ll get two rolls out of the six large leaves. I have used extra large leaves, so the rolls were huge. Since I was going to steam them in the steam oven, I didn’t cut them in halves.  You will need to cut the rolls to suit the size of the steamer you are going to use.

Steam the rolls in an oiled perforated steaming tray (or line the tray with baking parchment) for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a roll comes out clean. 

I steamed them in my Bosch Steam Oven, but you can steam them in a stove top steamer as well.

Cool the rolls completely. They will firm up as they cool down.

Cut medium sized slices and shallow fry them in oil.

You can even skip this part to keep them totally oil free, or try frying them in an air fryer.

Serve hot or cold, garnished with coconut and chopped coriander, or just by itself.

It makes a great accompaniment to dal and rice or kadhi and rice.

You can even make them ahead and wrap them in cling film when cool and store them in the fridge for three or four days. These rolls even freeze very well for a couple of months at least.

If you want to experiment with your guests at your next party, the rolls have a potential as killer hors d’oeuvres or canapés with different chutney toppings.

If you can’t access colocasia leaves, you can use Swiss Chard/ silver beet, mustard, kale, collard greens or even cabbage leaves. The batter can be the same, but you could tone down the sweet and sour elements to suit your taste.

Sunday, 7 July 2019

Kaatil (Killer) Kaju Katli

Kaatil (Killer) Kaju Katli

These kaju katlis were made to celebrate my younger daughter’s birthday. This is one of the very few mithais she really enjoys. I make many types of burfis, but had never tried to make kaju katlis at home.
I looked around some recipes on the Internet, but most of them had ghee or milk or milk powder, so I had to devise this recipe, which turned out perfect in the very first attempt.
2 cups cashew nuts (yielded 250 gms of cashew powder)
1 cup (200 gms) caster sugar
½ cup (120 ml) water
4-5 green cardamoms, powdered
1 tsp rose water

Grind the cashew nuts in a mixer batch by batch, taking care not to let it become oily. Sieve the cashew meal or powder and grind the remaining larger pieces again till you get a uniformly fine powder.
In a heavy bottomed pan dissolve sugar in half a cup (100 ml) cup of water and bring it to boil. Allow it to form a syrup of two thread consistency.
Add cashew nut powder, cardamom powder and rose water and mix with a spatula. Leave it to cool a little and harden without covering the pan.
When it is sufficiently cool, knead the dough for 4-5 minutes, until you get a smooth and oily dough. Place this ball of dough between two large sheets of slightly greased butter paper and roll out into a thick rectangular shape.
Remove the top sheet of butter paper and with a spatula or dough cutter shape the rectangle more accurately, then replace the top sheet and roll the dough into a uniformly thin sheet. This should be about 5 mm thick.
Remove the top layer of the butter paper and trim the ends of the rolled cashew dough sheet into a neat rectangle, and then further cut it into diamond shapes or squares.
I did not use any ghee or milk, nor any silver virk –as I wanted to make this a vegan kaju katli, but this was better than the best kaju katlis I have ever tasted.
It wouldn’t be overstating to call these killer or kaatil katlis.

Sunday, 12 August 2018

I don’t like Tofu. Period.

I don’t like Tofu. Period.

However, it was time to relent and cook with it – with and for - my vegan daughters. And had no regrets, for everyone, including me enjoyed it. I even managed to eat a piece or two – of tofu!

Restaurant Style Tofu Matar


5 -6 tbsps oil – I used sunflower oil
2 large brown onions, chopped
2 large tomatoes, chopped
2-3 green chilies
½ cup whole cashews
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
1 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp coriander powder
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder  
1 tsp Kitchen King masala
1 cup frozen green peas
500 gms tofu (I used Macro Organic Tofu)
1 charcoal briquette
¼ tsp oil
Salt to taste

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp garam masala
Chopped coriander to garnish


Wrap the tofu brick in thick tissue paper and place it between two chopping boards weighed down for half an hour. Once it has been pressed completely, cut the brick into cubes.

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan and shallow fry the tofu cubes on high flame for a few minutes.

In the same pan, add three tablespoons of oil and add the sliced onion, green chillies, chopped tomatoes and cashews. Sauté the ingredients till the onions are browned and the tomatoes are cooked soft. Allow the mixture to cool and grind into a paste in a grinder.

In the same pan, heat the remaining oil and add the bay leaves and let it fry till it turns aromatic.  Add garlic – ginger paste and sauté. Next add the Kashmiri chili powder, turmeric, coriander powder, cumin powder and the Kitchen King masala and mix well. Pour the prepared onion and tomato paste and let it cook until the oil begins to separate.

Add salt and sugar and some water to the gravy and add the frozen green peas and the fried tofu cubes. Let it come to a boil and lower the heat. Simmer for about 5-6 minutes.

In the meantime, place a piece of charcoal until it burns red-hot.  

Once it is done place the hot charcoal in a small steel bowl lined with some aluminum foil. Place the steel container with the live coal on the matar paneer and pour ¼ tsp of oil on the charcoal and cover the pan to trap the smoke from the charcoal for about a minute.

Remove the steel bowl carefully.

Finish the matar paneer gravy by adding the garam masala and garnishing with chopped coriander.

Serve with a simple pulao or rotis.

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Kachrey Ke Kabab

Kachrey Ke Kabab (Repurposed vegetable cutlets or patties)

When you have managed to bring your eyebrows down, let me tell you this is indeed apropos perfectly edible kabab, and no, I haven’t gone the Bill Gates way -consuming things purified from waste.

 “Kachra” in this case refers to leftovers that almost made it to the bin, but were brought forward in a new avatar.

That still hasn’t cleared the polemic around my dish, for a vegetarian kabab is a contradiction in terms.

Aren’t kababs supposed to be these corpulent, hedonistic parcels of pure indulgence? 

The food of the rich and the royal, young and old… legend even has it that the ageing and toothless foodie Nawab Wajid Ali Shah of Lucknow had instigated the creation of the Galauti Kabab to pander his passion for meat.

I am not qualified at all to talk about these meaty matters, nor do I intend or dare to, but am wrong to imagine that a lot of the epicurean charm of kababs comes from their exotic names?

Tunde ke kabab, chapli kabab, reshmi kabab – names like these only pique one’s interest.

So why not call this kachrey ke kabab? 

Or better and more exotic still, “Galti ke kabab”, where galti is a testimony to the grand mistake or apology of a kabab!

After all, it’s only ghaas-phoos eating vegetarians like us who not only dare to think of a vegetarian kabab, but even have the audacity to think of making one out of left over roast vegetables and give the dish a fancy name and fancier presentation!

I am just saying…

Kachrey Ke Kabab 


2 cups roasted potatoes, sweet potatoes, beetroot, mushroom, onions, carrots, capsicum, etc. (I used leftovers, but you can use freshly sautéed vegetables and add some herbs like oregano or rosemary)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1-2 green chillies, finely chopped
2 tbsp coriander leaves, finely chopped
1 tbsp ginger and garlic, grated
¾ tsp Kashmiri chilly powder
½ tsp garam masala powder
½ tsp chaat masala
½ tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
2 slices day-old bread (I used multi-grain)
2 tbsp roasted chana dal, powdered
Oil for shallow frying


Place all ingredients except the oil and chana daal powder, into a food processor and blitz it. Check and adjust all the tastes and flavours and then add the roasted chana daal powder to make the mixture firm.

Divide the mixture into uniform sized balls and flatten them. Heat oil in a pan and shallow fry the kebabs until golden brown on both sides.

Serve hot with chutney, tomato ketchup and a salad.


This post was written nearly three and a half years ago - but never made it to the blog - So this makes it a leftover post brought forward! 

At the time, my very talented friend and fellow blogger Suranga Daté, who often bursts into poetry at the slightest impetus, be it a photo, a dish or a post one has written, wrote this in response to the Kachrey ke Kabaab....

Do read her post on her blog Strewn Ashes!

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Ghol Takatali Bhaji (Purslane in a yoghurt sauce)


Ghol or Purslane Takatali Bhaji 

घोळात घोळ, घोळाचा!
मी (आस्ट्रेलिया हुन मैत्रिणीला फोन वर)  - तुला माहित आहे - आमच्या दारात घोळ आहे !
मैत्रीण - त्यात काय नवल ! तो तर तुमच्या कडे नेहेमीच असतो.
मी - अगं - तुझा समजण्यात घोळ होतोय - घोळाची भाजी उगवतीय आमच्या अंगणात.
टोमणा समजून देखील मी खुलासा करते.
आणि तुमच्या मनात अजून घोळ होण्याआधी तुम्हालाही सांगते  - मी म्हणते तो घोळ म्हणजे भाजीचा आणि मैत्रीण म्हणते तो म्हणीतला.
म्हणीतला म्हणजे आपला देशस्थी घोळ हो ! (मैत्रीण कोंकणस्थ आहे, मी देशस्थ)
पण आता त्यावरून  वाद-विवाद झाला तर खूपच घोळ होईल हो.
आता मात्र हा विनोद अति घोळवून निघाला, म्हणून आता फार घोळ घालता ताकातल्या घोळाची भाजीची बद्दल काही माहिती देते -

Ghol, or purslane (kulfa in Hindi) is a wonderful and tasty little plant packed full of goodness. It contains more omega 3 fatty acids than any other plant source. It also contains vitamins A, B, C and E as well as calcium, magnesium, iron and potassium. The pigments in the leaves and one in the yellow blossoms have been proven anti-mutagenic or anti-carcinogenic. As a mild diuretic, it is known to lower blood pressure as well. All this comes for about 15 calories per 100 grams!

Purslane is widespread globally and is a common summer-growing plant on most continents. The ancient Persians and Indians and even Indigenous Australians have used this wonder vegetable, in salads or cooked as stir frys or bhajis. 

In Australia, purslane is considered as a weed, and grows wildly, in gardens, wasteland or ungrazed areas, and even in the cracks of pavements.

However, I believe it deserves to be recognised as an ancient and highly nutritious super food source and grown specifically for food. I have tried to collect the seeds and grow the plants from seed, but haven’t succeeded in the past. This summer, I have dug up shoots and transplanted them in a pot, so we can have plenty of gholachi bhaji, koshimbir and varan!

Gholachi takatli Bhaji (Purslane/Kulfa in a buttermilk sauce)

2 cups slightly sour buttermilk (or you can use diluted yoghurt)
2 cups washed and chopped Ghol/ Purslane/ Kulfa leaves and stems
3 tbsp peanuts, boiled soft with a some salt and a little water (pressure cooking works the best)
1-2 finely chopped green chillies
Salt to taste
A pinch of sugar

Make a paste of:
1 tbsp besan
1 tsp atta/rice flour
½ cup water

For the Tempering

2 tbsp oil
1 tsp urad dal
½ tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp cumin seeds
A pinch of turmeric
A pinch of hing
A generous pinch of powdered methi seeds
1 tbsp chopped garlic (or more)
1 or 2 dry red chillis (you can use dried masala chillies too)
A few curry leaf leaves

Mix the buttermilk or diluted yoghurt, chopped purslane, boiled peanuts, chopped chillies in a pot or pan and heat. As it starts simmering, add the besan and atta / rice flour paste and stir continuously.

This amount of cooking is enough for the purslane/kulfa. The mixture will start to thicken. Add the salt and sugar and adjust the taste and also the consistency. Add water if necessary and according to taste. Let it come to a rolling boil and then remove from heat.

In a small pan heat the oil and add the urad dal. Just as it starts to become pink, add the mustard seeds and then the cumin seeds. When the seeds start to splutter add the chopped garlic and curry leaves, then the hing, methi powder, pinch of turmeric. Take care not to burn the tadka.

Switch off the heat and pour the tadka on the takatli bhaji. It will sizzle, but settle down. Cover the takatli bhaji for a while to allow the flavours to infuse.

Serve hot with rice or jowar bhakari with some pickle.