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Regional Cuisine

Foods from different regions

Apr 202014


“Food, like a loving touch or a glimpse of divine power, has that ability to comfort.” Norman Kolpas

Nestled in Himalayas is Beautiful, Beautiful Kashmir. The place I was born and grew up in. The cuisine of the land is known for its masterfully cooked meat dishes and beautifully cooked vegetables. What it is not known for is its lentil dishes. There are some, but they are few and far in between. And Khichdi is one of them.

The Kashmiris call their Khichdi – “khechir” and it is made with whole mung, rice and choice cuts of lamb. The interesting fact is that it is eaten only once a year on the day of “Khechi Mavas” – or the day of worshipping ancient Demi Gods.

Not that you needed that kind of information, but when I get talking about my home, I get talking.


Speaking of interesting – Imagine my surprise when I first moved away from home and found out that people in rest of India ate Khichdi ALL THE TIME! Ok may be not all the time. But for someone who ate it only once a year, to see people eat khichdi every now and then was amusing.

Thankfully I was introduced to a good ‘no meat’ Khichdi dish early on in my Khichdi exploring days and I was hooked. The Khichdi was the comforting dish for many of my room mates. Since we were not exactly rich and our allowance from home was limited, we could not really make a trip to the nearest restaurant on days we did not feel like eating the cafeteria food. For a nutritious, soul satisfying meal, we would fall back on khichdi.


Buttery lentils, gooey rice, delicious home made ghee and pickles that our moms sent in care packages were some of the things that would comfort us. It was an amusing thought for me to see myself eating a khichdi every now and then, even though it was not the food I grew up eating.

There in lies the power of simple, basic food. The nourishing aspect that makes you feel happy in your belly, the comfort it provides and the nurturing it does to your body. It is no wonder then that many cuisines have a variation of Khichdi in their cuisine.


Tuvar dal Khichdi  from Guajarat is an everyday food eaten with some Kadhi, pickles, papad and chutney.  Sometimes, It is also served with a spicy buttermilk drink called छाछ. In English that would be probably written as Chaach .. but it wouldn’t mean the same thing as per the dictionary. ;)

Tuvar Dal Khichdi – A Rice and Lentil dish from Gujarat

Serves: 6

Tuvar Dal Khichdi – A Rice and Lentil dish from Gujarat


  • 1 cup short grain white rice
  • 3/4 cup toor daal (split yellow pigeon peas)
  • 1/4 cup masoor daal (split red lentils)
  • 1/4 stick cinnamon
  • 4 to 6 whole black pepper
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 to 2 dried chili pepper
  • 3 to 4 cloves
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chili powder
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • salt to taste


  1. Wash the rice and the daals thoroughly
  2. In a pressure cooker, heat the ghee at medium heat
  3. Add the mustard seeds and heat them until they crack and then reduce the heat
  4. Add the cloves, black pepper and cinnamon. Let them fry in the ghee a bit.
  5. Add the rice and both the lentils and stir in the spices. Mix Throughly.
  6. Add the turmeric powder, chili powder and dried red chili
  7. Add salt (about 2 tsp, but go as per your taste)
  8. Add 4 cups of water, bring it all to a rolling boil on high heat and then close the lid on the pressure cooker
  9. Once the pressure builds up in the cooker,reduce heat to medium and cook for 3 minutes under pressure. Do not let the pressure come down while you are timing it. There should be a constant and equal release of steam throughout this process. ( do check the instructions on your pressure cooker)
  10. Turn off the heat and let the the dish rest until pressure releases on its own.
  11. Serve with a big dollop of ghee, papad, chutney and some buttermilk.


The Pressure cooker used for this recipe was the Futura Brand.

Feb 052014
Methi Muthia

Methi Muthia

I am on a Gujarati food spree. Gujarat is in the North -West of India and the cuisine is primarily vegetarian. The Hubz is from this region in India and his parents are visiting us and will be arriving by the end of the month.

So there! Now you know the reason behind the Gujarati food spree. I don’t get to have the in laws visit us often as they have to endure a long flight from India. So whenever they do, I like to make them feel at home and I try to imbibe as much as of their culture as I can. The cool thing about them is that they are very adventurous eaters as long as the food is vegetarian. They try all kinds of cuisines and flavors and love to travel. But once a while, I make the food from their home and the joy in their eyes makes it all worth while.

So back to Gujarati food. It is vegetarian but it is full of flavors, complexities and balance. Most of it is sweet, savory, spicy, tangy – all at the same time in various layers.

The Methi Muthia or the Fenugreek dumplings are either eaten as a snack or added to gravies and made into a main dish. These are either fried or steamed depending on how you want to use them. For today’s recipe I have fried them as I am going to make Undhiyu out of these and use them in a main dish, the recipe for which shall follow shortly. They are delicious on their own as a snack and they keep for a week in an airtight container. If you steam them, you will need to refrigerate them.


Methi Muthia


  • Ingredient
  • 2 cups fenugreek leaves (methi), finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour (aata)
  • 1/2 cup gram flour ( chick pea/ garbanzo flour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1/2 tsp minced green chillies (thai)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • a pinch of baking soda
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • salt to taste
  • oil to fry


  1. ake a bowl and add the fenugreek leaves in it and add 1 teaspoon of salt and mix well.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Knead it to a soft dough ball.
  3. Make small cylindrical shaped dumplings and keep them on a plate.
  4. Heat the oil to a 365*F and fry the dumplings in batches until slightly browned and crunchy.
  5. Use a wire mesh strainer and allow the dumplings to drain and bring them to room temperature before storing to use as a snack.


Tips for frying :- Ensure you put in equal sized pieces Keep the temperature even – too hot cooks the food outside and leaves it raw within. Not the right temp enables soaking up of oil into the food and it won't fry up correctly in addition to giving you an oily product.

Jan 222014


The famously loved peanut chikki. It may look like a peanut brittle, but it is in fact not at all brittle. For one the ratio of the nuts to the jaggery is more and it is not hard like the brittles usually are. And secondly, the chikki is made with minimally processed sugarcane juice called the jaggery

I love the crisp yet chewier version called the chikki. There are quite a few places in India that are known to make the best tasting peanut and sesame chikki. Lonavla is considered the most famous one with the best tasting chikkis. With the latest trends landing into those otherwise very traditional artisanal domains of chikki making, we now see chikkis made of cashews, quinoa, pistachios and what not!

I am a little traditional as far as chikki is concerned. I love the two basic ones, that grandma used to handout as a treat in winters. The ones made from real “desi” Jaggery with either toasted sesame or peanuts.

The term “desi” can mean a variety of things – from something from the “des” ( native place) , or someone from India is a desi, or something that is unadulterated and probably organic is also desi. The unadulterated and organic does not apply when we refer to “desi” while talking about humans even though humans are made of organic matter after all.


Peanut Chikki-2So back to the jaggery of the desi kind. That is the only kind that will help you make a delectable chikki. Not the chemically processed and preserved mounds of Jaggery. So talk to your grocer and ask him/her to reveal the real jaggery. Chances are they will have a few boxes of it somewhere. The label should read “Desi Gur” or something to that effect. Made from the sap or the juice of the sugarcane or the date palm, the “gur” or jaggery is full of nutrients that the ultra processed sugar just can not provide. My friend Sangeeta has some more details on the health benefits of jaggery in this post on Jaggery Pancakes.


Peanut Chikki

If you are unable to find Jaggery, chances are you know it by some other names like the Panela, Piloncillo, Raspadura or Rapadura. The Brazilian Pé-de-moleque is made by mixing roasted peanuts with melted rapadura. The mixture is then stirred over heat until it mixes well and begins to crystalize. And then allowed to cool down after spreading it out on a metal plate or stone surface. Once the mixture cool, the Pe de Moleque is broken into small pieces. The whole process is similar to making the Peanut chikki in India.

Peanut or sesame chikki is traditionally eaten on the day of Makar Sankranti that falls on January 14th every year (with some exceptions). Makar Sankranti marks the transition into the warmer days and is considered a harvest festival in India.

So this Sankranti, I wanted to make the peanut chikki at home that the, finicky and snobbish about all things sweet, husband would like. So as usual, the best person to teach me about what he likes is of course his mom. So after a  frantic phone call from my side, much calming words from mother in law’s side, many happy chuckles from the father in law ( he is always pleased when I try and make traditional sweets) I set to work. Turns out I really did not need to worry. Because the only important step in the whole process was the right kind of jaggery – and that I had. I also made the process quicker by using the microwave to toast the peanuts. Easy Peasy!

Indian Peanut Chikki or The Brazilian Pé-de-moleque

Indian Peanut Chikki or The Brazilian Pé-de-moleque


    Peanut Chikki
  • 250 gms peanuts roasted and and outer husk removed
  • 175 gms Jaggery ( pure Jaggery)
  • 2 tsp ghee
  • 1/4 c water
  • Sesame Chikki
  • 100 gms sesame, toasted
  • 100 gms jaggery
  • 1 tsp ghee
  • 2 Tbs water


    Advance Prep
  1. Take a 6 in baking tin or a plate and line it with a parchment. Coat the parchment paper with some ghee or oil
  2. Take a flat bottomed bowl and coat the base with ghee or oil. This will be used to press the chikki down when its hot.
  3. Peanut Chikki
  4. Begin by heating the ghee in a pan on low medium heat. Add in the jaggery. Stir and let it melt. When it melts completely and is heated through, it will start to bubble on the sides. Let it keep cooking for about a minute, then add in the water.
  5. Mix and let it come to a boil. Allow the water to evaporate completely and the jaggery to thicken again and get a darker hue. Add in the peanuts, in small batches and stir to mix and coat.
  6. Pour on the parchment paper greased with ghee, then tap it down with the base of a bowl that has been coated with ghee as well. The firmer you press the better your chiki will hold.
  7. Allow to cool and then cut.
  8. Sesame Chikki
  9. Same process as peanut chikki.
  10. Don't have roasted and husked peanuts?
  11. If you have raw shelled peanuts, you may quickly roast them in the microwave for about 2 minutes (for 250gms)
  12. and then stir. Put then in for another 2 minute in microwave. Repeat by one minute increments until you see some of the peanuts cracking in the middle. At this point let them cool.
  13. Then put them in a kitchen towel and massage them from outside the towel to remove the skin. Alternately, tie into the towel and beat the bundle on the kitchen counter. When you are done the peanuts will be separated from the skin and you will have perfect halves.
  14. How to toast the sesame seeds?
  15. Heat up a non stick pan and tip the sesame in. Gently stir and toast the sesame seeds on medium heat. As soon as the sesame seeds begin to change color, turn off heat, remove from pan and allow to cool on a baking sheet.

 Posted by on January 22, 2014 at 12:18 AM
Jul 182013
Dal Makhani




They saw each other from a distance, walking a gentle walk on the terrace of their own homes.  Their eyes met and that was all it took to ignite a lifelong passion.  It all started one monsoon evening, in a small city called Chandigarh, in India.  There were two of them. One was young, restless and ready to take on the world.  The other was gentle, kind and had seen the world.  And they met on that fine monsoon evening.

It is because of their meeting, my dears, that you are getting to read this story and have this recipe. It is a story of kindness, compassion and a doze of neighborly love.  When they met, it turned out that the young one was a newly married woman and she had moved to this city with her husband.  The gentle and kind one was a grandmother to a few kids and had decided to retire in this city.

So they met and culture and age differences not withstanding, became the best of pals.  What connected them more was their love of different cuisines, discovering new recipes and cooking. The younger one was an eager learner, the older one a keen teacher. Together they spent afternoons after afternoons cooking dishes, discussing the nuances of each dish and finally enjoying the dishes of their labor.

One such dish that was taught during one such afternoon was the Dal Makhni.  It is a kind and gentle recipe, just like Biji .

Thank you again, Biji. This young one has finally mastered the art of  Dal Makhni just the way you taught me and am happy to share it with everyone, just like you wanted me to!

Who is Biji ( Bee GEE )? A mother like figure, who taught me the delicious choley and hundreds of other dishes from the Punjabi cuisine.



Dal Makhni – Buttery lentils


  • 2 C Black Gram ( Urad Dal whole)
  • 1/2 C Red Kidney Beans
  • 1/2 C finely chopped onions
  • 2 tbs garlic minced
  • 2 tbs ginger minced
  • 1 tbs Red chilli powder ( kashmiri pref)
  • 1tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 C tomatoes
  • 2 tsp ghee
  • 2 tbs cream to serve (optional)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbs Mustard oil
  • Salt to taste


    The night before (at least 12 hours before)
  1. Wash the kidney beans and the whole gram
  2. Soak them together in a bowl filled with 6 cups of water.
  3. When you are ready to cook, Drain the water, give them a quick rinse and put them in a pressure cooker with 5 cups of water.
  4. Once the water comes to a boil, skim off any foam that floats up.
  5. Add in the onions, garlic, ginger and mustard oil, close the lid and wait for it to make some noise.
  6. As soon as the steam coming out through the vent makes a noise, lower the heat to medium and let it cook for 15 minutes.
  7. Remember - medium heat.
  8. After 15 minutes, switch off heat and let the dish rest. It will release the steam on its own in about 20 minutes.
  9. Ten minutes before you are ready to serve, heat the ghee in a largish pan and add in cumin and wait for it to crackle.
  10. Add in the tomatoes and cook until the fat floats to the top. Now add in the chilli powder, coriander powder and salt.
  11. Mix it in and let it cook on a low heat for a minute.
  12. Tip in the Dal from the cooker and mix it in. You won't need to mash up the dal and you must not.
  13. Cover and cook for another 5 minutes. Serve hot with a dash of cream on top.


You add in the raw mustard oil. No need to heat it first. Seriously!

If you don't like mustard oil (too bad ) you can use any oil you choose.

Mar 152013




Dahi in Hindi/Urdu, Zamut do’dh in Kashmiri, Thayir in Tamil, Doi in Bengali, Perugu in Telugu and yogurt in English. Yogurt is  an important part of the Indian food culture across the nation.  And it was an important part of the meal at home. It was served with every meal.  As a lassi – watered down with an addition of mint and spices or just as is.   It is my grandmother’s favorite food.  On most days she adds in yogurt to her rice, with a pinch of salt and some mint – walnut chutney and her lunch is done. And she ensures that we all have a glass of lassi or some home made yogurt at each meal.

Have I ever mentioned that I lived in Hyderabad for a while?  I am sure I have because that is one place that felt like home to me at first bite.  Yes it was all about food. One of the reasons was that each meal in Hyderabad ended with a curd rice – a simple concoction of plain boiled rice with yogurt and spices. Simple ?  Yes! Heavenly ?  Oh YES! And made me feel right at home in a new city.


 It is Power Foods Friday and I am so happy that it is about Yogurt. It is a well deserved place for it, for it is a storehouse of nutritional benefits for us.

Yogurt is a good source of calcium, which  we know is needed for maintaining healthy bones. It’s protein packed, hence really important in a vegetarian diet and on days you choose to eat vegetarian. The protein in yogurt is great for muscle repair and growth and it fills you up. Grab those smoothies now. And we all know how great it is for our little tummies, don’t we? And if you are trying to loose weight, go heavy on fat free yogurt and watch the pounds drop off .

So here is a delicious Kadhi recipe that you can use as a soup.  Kadhi Pakoda – Yogurt & Chickpea Flour Soup with Baked Fenugreek Fritters, is gluten free, full of goodness of protein.  And here are some more juicy details about yogurt from my blogger friends –   Jeanette at jeanetteshealthyliving ; Martha at Simply Nourished Living ; Mireya at Myhealthyeatinghabits ; Alyce at More time at the table ;  Minnie at ; Casey at  Sweetsav  .


Kadhi Pakode – Yogurt & Chickpea Flour Soup with Baked Fenugreek Fritters


    For Kadhi (yogurt soup)
  • 2 C Greek yogurt at Room temperature ( 3 C if using home made yogurt)
  • 5 C water (4 C if using home made yogurt)
  • 1/3 C chickpea flour
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • For Pakode (fritters)
  • 1 C fenugreek leaves chopped
  • ½ C chickpea flour
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • salt to taste
  • ¼ c Water
  • 1 tsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1 thai green chilli finely chopped
  • For Tadka ( the tempering)
  • 1 Tbs ghee
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds (rai)
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds – slightly crushed
  • ½ tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tbs chopped ginger
  • 1 tbs chopped garlic
  • 3- 4 dry chillies
  • 1 sprig curry leaves


    Lets start with the Kadhi:-
  1. Sift the chickpea flour into the bowl and turmeric powder add in the water and the yogurt and whisk it all together.
  2. Take a dutch oven or a heavy bottomed pot ( at least a 3.5 qt) and pour the yogurt mix into it. Cook on high heat and keep stirring constantly until it comes to a rolling boil. Then reduce heat, simmer for about 30 minutes. Do not cover the pot and do remember to stir it every now and then.
  3. Now let's work on the fritters ( traditionally they are supposed to be fried)
  4. Heat the oven to 500* F. Mix all the ingredients for the fritters except water. Once mixed in, add in water a little at a time. You are looking to make a loose dough. Not a batter, but not quiet dough. Something like a chocolate chip cookie dough that you can scoop with a spoon. You may or may not need all the water.
  5. Once this dough is ready, spoon out the mixture, a Tbs at a time and place it on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Yes! Just like you would for drop cookies.
  6. Bake for 8-10 minutes on one side, Turn them over bake again for 8 minutes.
  7. They may not be as crunchy as the fried ones, but they are equally delicious.
  8. Bring it all together
  9. By now your Kadhi would have cooked and the pakode must be tempting you to try them out.
  10. Put the pakode in the pot in which Kadhi is simmering. Allow it to simmer while you make the Tadka
  11. Heat ghee in a small pan, add in the mustard seeds and wait for them to crackle. Add in coriander, red chilli and fenugreek seeds in that order. And then add the ginger and garlic and cook till garlic turns a slight shade of light brown.
  12. Place the sprig of the curry leaves in the pan and add on Tadka ( the ghee concoction you just made)


I eat it just as is for a delicious dinner, but traditionally Kadhi is served with Rice.

Nov 072012
Khasta Kachori

The buzz is on – clean up home, shopping sprees, recipe collections for parties, Puja room decoration, and friends and family to invite over. It is the time of the year when you want everything to be just perfect.

With the beautiful oil filled Diyas and colorful candles spreading soft lights, the heart is filled with a beautiful warm glow. The colorful rangolis, thoran, flower garlands hanging outside the main door bring in joy and laughter. And then there are the sweets, new clothes for everyone, time to meet friends and neighbors and wish them a Happy Diwali.

The spirited activities build a momentum right after the Navratri Poojas are over and keep you on your toes right to the day of Diwali.

You begin to find stuff you have not used in a while, a forgotten dress, never worn before, suddenly surfaces from the deep dark shadows of the closet. The pantry and kitchen cleaning leaves you promising yourself never to buy so many new pots and pans ever again.

Yet, you secretly are aching for the new dress you have marked as yours for the Diwali day and the new pot or pan and a piece of new jewelery you must buy on Dhanteras. After all Diwali is a time of celebrating, cherishing friends and family, being thankful for gifts of life and a time to spread good cheer.

As with all festive activities, food is going to be a big part of the celebration.  The cooking of special snacks and sweets begins early and in keeping with the true Diwali spirit, here is a recipe for Khasta Kachori.

Crispy Khasta kachori is just the thing to get your Diwali party started with!  Not only does it look spectacular, it is flavorful and sets a sweet and spicy tone right at the beginning of the party.

Khasta Kachori


  • To make the outer covering:
  • 1 C Maida ( or all purpose flour)
  • Salt to taste (about ¼ tsp)
  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 1 Tbs fine suji (semolina)
  • 6 – 7 Tbs ice cold water (about 90 ml)
  • Oil for frying
  • To make the filling
  • ¼ C urad dal flour
  • ½ tsp fennel powder
  • ½ tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp amchoor
  • Pinch of asafoetida powder
  • ½ tsp Anardana powder
  • 1/2 – 1/3 Tsp salt
  • a few methi seeds powdered
  • 2 tsp oil


  1. Make the dough :
  2. Mix flour, salt and oil
  3. Add in the water a tbs at a time, until the dough is well mixed.
  4. Take care not to over knead the dough.
  5. Cover and keep in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
  6. Make the filling:
  7. In a microwave proof glass bowl, add the urad dal flour and roast it (dry) for 30 seconds. Remove from the microwave and stir and pop it back in for another 30 seconds. Based on your microwave, this will take about a minute or minute and a half.
  8. In case you do not want to use a microwave, dry roast the urad dal flour in a skillet on medium heat, until aromatic and slightly changes color.
  9. Add in oil into a pan, add the asafoetida and the roasted powder, and cook for another minute.
  10. Switch the heat off and add in the rest of the spices and mix things up.
  11. Cover and allow it to cool.
  12. (Note: If you don't have access to urad dal flour, simply roast the some split urad dal in oil until lightly browned. Cool and grind to a fine powder)
  13. Compose the Kachori
  14. Make small equal sized round balls out of the dough. You will get about 10 – 12 of those.
  15. Working with your finger tips, flatten the dough balls into a small disc. Ensure the sides are much thinner than the center of the discs.
  16. Holding the dough disc in the shape of a cup fill in the center with some of the filling. Take care to place the stuffing only in the center.
  17. Pinch the ends together, ensuring no air stays in. And with your palms, make this into a ball once again.
  18. Repeat step 2, 3 and 4 for the rest of the dough.
  19. Roll out the balls into circles once again, taking care not to roll them too thin.
  20. Heat up oil for frying and bring it to about 90*C or medium hot.
  21. Add the rolled out kachoris and fry them on medium heat. Flip only when one side is completely puffed up. Cook until deliciously golden colored on both sides.
  22. How to Serve:
  23. Knocking softly with a spoon, break open the top of a kachori, Add in finely chopped onions, boiled and diced poatoes, thin Sev, green chutney, Tamarind and Date chutney and beaten yogurt. Eat immediately.
  24. Success Tips:
  25. Cook on low medium heat even if you are tempted to hasten the process. Quickly fried kachoris will not stay crisp.
  26. When kneading the dough, ensure you do not over mix it.