Saturday, 31 January 2015

Republic Day Parody

Gajar Kela methi nu shaak

I am very happy to present this 200th post on Shruti's Blog! Thank you my dear readers for your continued love and affection! 

Obama and Modi feasting on Kela Methi nu Shaak and Gujarati Kadhi reminded me of a similar menu I had prepared on the occasion of Independence Day last year, but never got to post - only because I didn’t have a tale to tell.

In saying that, I got my story.

 Republic Day Parody

Carawt Obama, the unabashed liberal
And Modi Methi, the Enfant terrible
One very placid, the other so pithy
Struck a friendship most unlikely
Shakes, hugs, backslapping bonhomie
A big departure from the rules of polity

The world watched as if in a trance
The unlikely, most motely bromance
Neighbours, the un-shareef detractors
The Japanese, the jealous paramours 
Methi masterminded the wherewithal
"Sab mile huen hai ji," rued Kejriwal 

Plain-tain Kela Raw, lowly rank and file
Sat on the back stands with bemused smile
That bold interfacing, the crackling chemistry
“Nice, but hang on, what is in it for me?”
Touched to the quick, I add kela to the pan
Lest we forget Kela, our dear Common Man.

Gajar Kela Methi nu Shaak

The Gujarati kela methi nu shaak generally has ripe bananas to add sweetness to balance out the bitterness of methi. I have used raw bananas and added carrots to introduce sweetness to the dish.


2 cups washed and chopped fresh methi (use the tender stems as well)
2 large carrots, cut into slices or diced
1 large raw banana, peeled and diced
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 tsp garlic and ginger paste
1-2 green chillies
¾ tsp ajwain seeds
½ tsp coriander powder
½ tsp cumin powder
½ tsp undhiya/goda masala
2 tbsp oil
½ tsp mustard seeds
A pinch of hing
A pinch of turmeric
Salt to taste
A little sweetener/sugar/jaggery, if required.


Heat a pan and make a tadka with the oil, ajwain and mustard seeds. When the seeds begin to splutter, add the green chillies and onions and garlic/ginger paste. Sauté for a minute and add the hing and turmeric. Add the carrots, banana and the chopped methi. Mix well, add a little water and cover and cook on low heat for a few minutes. Remove the lid and add the coriander-cumin powder, undhiya /goda masala, salt and sugar/sweetener/jaggery. Cook for a few minutes more, till done. 

Serve with bhakri, bajra roti, phulka or rice.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

TG it is SankranT

Tilgulacha Laadu (Tilkoot Laadu)

Tilgul is a generic word in Marathi for all sweets made out of sesame and jaggery or even sugar in the Sankranti season. Like with Diwali “faral” that was sent over to all friends and neighbours, til-gul or TG for the purposes of this piece, was distributed very generously and far and wide. Accompanying these offerings was of course, the statutory sweet reminders to be kind and peaceful towards one and all.

One remembers TG arriving in envelopes bursting at the corners with candied til called “halwa” and little packets of haldi and kunkum.

Even stingy relatives who would only ever spend money on a 10 paise postcard to convey the gravest of news that could be private or potentially controversial, would splurge and send those 50 paise envelopes bursting with halwa

Why, long before greeting card companies took over the festival market, local producers of greeting cards made Sankranti greetings with syrupy messages and convenient little envelopes to hold the TG.

It is another matter that cheeky posties pilfered this candy by making holes in the envelopes. I suppose no one had the heart to grudge them the self-help. After all, one was supposed to spread kindness and cheer, remember.

It was in the spirit of this very same tradition that a range of TG was made in most households.

There was the “tinsel til” type of flamboyant and colourful halwa mentioned earlier, which was a more modern form of TG. The flashy halwa was most suitable for being distributed delicately out of a silver bowl with a silver spoon.

A handy token to give out during haldi-kumkum ceremonies, the “tinpot” tilachi vadi or burfi had illusions of greatness, but was at best only second-class.

The crunchy kadak whole sesame and gur/sugar laadu and the brittle sesame crisp chikki were good kiddy stuff and good fillers for the loot bags for kids during a “bor-nahan”.

The ‘bor-nahan’, quite literally a jujube-shower for kids under the age of five, celebrated the mother’s indulgence in her child in this time of post-harvest season rest, relaxation and richness. Mums prettified their bubs in trinkets made of sugar and til candy and showered them with a confetti of goodies like jujubes (ber), puffed rice, kadak tilgul crisps.  Other kids at the bash playfully plundered the confetti amidst laughter and fun.

Surely one didn’t take such toy TG seriously.

The grave gulachi poli was main-course class, reserved largely for the inner circles and adults. It wasn’t in the mithai category. Moreover, a wheaten crust and the occasional besan additives adulterated the TG element of the gulachipoli.

Revadis and gajaks were exotic shop-bought stuff that only “North Indians” ate. Although these were indulged in at other times, no self-respecting middle class Marathi Brahmin household would think of substituting their “sweat of the brow” home made TG with such til trifles during Sankranti.

The top gun of TG was undoubtedly the til-gulacha laadu - my most favourite.

Hand-pounded creamy sesame, coconut, peanuts and roasted gram, blessed with some ghee and graciously rounded off by sweet jaggery… very few sweets can match the earthy, wholesome goodness of this til and gul laadu, with more than a hint of cardamom and nutmeg!

Til Gulacha Laadu

Dates are a great healthy substitute for the sweetness, texture and taste of jaggery. Although some of the ingredients used here are unconventional, they compliment each other and add myriad textures of grates, pert pieces and air-light pops that suddenly melt in your mouth. 

This is a vegan and low-sugar and healthier version, yet as rich and decadent as the original til gulacha laadu.


2 cups sesame seeds, lightly roasted
½ cup peanuts, roasted and skinned
¼ cup almonds, lightly toasted
½ cup desiccated coconut, lightly toasted
¼ cup roasted chana dal (daliya)
½ cup popped amaranth seeds (I pop rajgira at home)
¼ cup flax seeds, lightly toasted
1 tbsp poppy seeds, lightly toasted
¾ tsp crushed green cardamom
1 tsp ground nutmeg
2 cups chopped and pitted dates
¾ cup grated jaggery (optional, you can increase the amount of dates, or use molasses or date molasses)
1 tbsp refined coconut oil/light extra virgin olive oil (optional)


Coarsely grind the roasted/toasted ingredients except the flax seeds and the popped amaranth separately. Remove in a mixing bowl.

Crush the flax seeds very lightly with a rolling pin, so you get some whole seeds as well.

Add the popped amaranth to the bowl.

Chop the dates into fine pieces or crush them and add to the bowl. Add the spices and mix well.

Melt the grated jaggery with a little water to make one-string sticky syrup and add the refined coconut oil/olive oil and pour it over the mixture and mix well. 

Alternately, if you are using date molasses, warm it slightly and pour it over the mixture and mix well.

With lightly oiled hands roll small size laadus with about one heaped tablespoon of the mixture. Place on a plate to dry out for some time. Store in an airtight container.

Friday, 9 January 2015

Upma unroasted


I have been away from home for nearly two weeks, and my husband who has had to subsist on cereal for this time says, “Can you roast some no-roast upma for breakfast?”

Now how can I do that! 

If I roast the upma, how will it still be no-roast?

That, ladies and gentlemen is my quiz for you! 

No-roast upma


1½ tbsp oil 
¾ tsp mustard seeds 
1 tsp urad dal    
A few curry leaves 
1 cup medium coarse rava /semolina
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green chilli, chopped (or more)
½ tsp fresh minced ginger 
2-3 cups boiling water    
1 tsp ghee (optional)
Salt to taste 
A large pinch of sugar (optional- but keep an open mind about this!) 
Chopped coriander and desiccated/fresh grated coconut to garnish.


Heat oil and add mustard seeds to splutter. Then add urad dal and curry leaves.
When the dal turns golden brown, add the green chilli, chopped onions and crushed ginger and sauté until the onions are translucent.

Add the rava and mix well till it is covered with the sautéed mixture. This will lightly toast the rava without browning. At this stage add the ghee, if using.

Then add about 2 cups of boiling water and quickly mix the rava so as not to form lumps. Add some more water if required. Add the salt and sugar. 

Then, as the mixture starts to thicken, cover the pan and cook on low flame till the rava absorbs all the water. Stir it once or twice to fluff up the rava. 
Cook till the rava lets out a white steam. This is a sign of doneness.

Serve garnished with coconut and coriander. Sometimes I prefer desiccated coconut to fresh, as it gives a really nutty flavour. 

It is customary to serve it with coconut chutney, sambar or even sugar on the side.