Friday, September 30, 2011

dhokli kadhi ... if you are craving for kadhi pakodi and are scared of frying...

Make a kadhi with dhokli . Dhokli is a boiled dumpling made with chickpea flour for this kadhi and makes you free to enjoy kadhi more frequently.

 Kadhi chawal is a comfort food , although i like it more with chapatis .The only concern of kadhi lovers is that the pakodi is invariably drunken on oil . Deep frying is a scary thought for many. This dhokli kadhi comes to the rescue when i don't want frying , i do enjoy my fried stuff occasionally though.

I make many variations of kadhi with steamed or microwave cooked pakode , sometimes using spinach or other vegetables too. But a basic kadhi is always something to look forward to , especially in a North Indian home. That basic flavor of kadhi comes from the ingredients used for  tadka (tempering) while the base of the kadhi is always chick pea flour and buttermilk. The fluffy juicy pakodis (chick pea flour fried fritters) floating into the kadhi make a delicious bite and that is the sinful part of the traditional kadhi.

If the pakodi is replaced with a steamed dumpling or a boiled one , the texture of dumpling changes a bit but the basic taste of the kadhi remains the same. So i make this dhokli kadhi very often to simulate kadhi pakodi...

ingredients for the kadhi base...

(4-5 large servings)
besan(chick pea flour) 1/2 cup
buttermilk 2-3 cups
salt to taste
turmeic powder 1 tsp


Mix everything up and whip to make a smooth thin batter . Use more water to make the batter almost watery as it thickens as it cooks.

Pour the thin besan batter into a wide pan and let it boil on high heat while stirring constantly, turn the flame low as soon as the batter starts boiling , now it doesn't need constant stirring. Let it cook for about 5 minutes till you make the paste for dhokli and shape them . Read on...

ingredients for the dumplings (dhokli) ...
besan (chickpea flour) 1/2 cup
ajwain seeds 1/2 tsp
red chilly powder 1/4 tsp(optional)
oil 2 tsp
salt to taste
soda bi carb 1/4 tsp
oil 1 tbsp (sunflower,peanut or sesame oil)

procedure for the dhokli...

Make a medium soft dough using some water with all the ingredients mixed together. Roll the dough in a log tube with oiled hands and cut the tube in 1 cm nuggets. It's almost like making gnocchi , using chick pea flour . Detailed instructions can be seen in a recipe of guar dhokli ki subzi i posted long back , now you know these dumplings can be used in vegetable curries also .

Sometimes i just spoon a little besan dough into the boiling kadhi making them smooth while dropping them in the pan. That is quicker and much more convenient as it doesn't involve your hands doing the rolling and then cutting.

Let the kadhi and dumplings boil on low flame till the kadhi gets thick and reduced to almost 4/5th of the original volume.... stirring the cooking kadhi softly all this while preventing the dumplings from getting smashed.

After cooking the kadhi it's time for a tadka (a spice tempering). Heat ghee in a tadka pan or a wide ladle(as i do) and add the ingredients one after the other in the same succession as they are listed here...

tadka ingredients....
ghee 2-3 tbsp
hing or asafoetida a generous pinch
fenugreek seeds 1/2 tsp
cumin seeds 1/2 tsp
mustard seeds 1/2 tsp
fennel seeds 1/2 tsp
1/2 a flower of star anise
an inch piece of cinnamon broken
cloves 4-5 nos.
black n green cardamom 1 each crushed
red chilly powder 1-2 tsp

You should remove the tadka pan from flame once you have put in all the whole spices and then add the red chilly powder and immediately pour the contents into the cooked kadhi...let it get mixed up and serve hot...
The cooking kadhi pictures are quite old and the plate pictures are recent. This dhokli kadhi is a regular kadhi at my home and as i said in the last post i like it more with chapatis...

This time i made this beans and soy granules stir fry with tender ginger..

This recipe includes three ingredient lists , one for the kadhi , one for the dhokli and another for the tadka . But do not get intimidated by the long list and so many steps to's a simple recipe although it takes some time to cook but it will be worth it. The taste of a kadhi either with rice or chapati is something you would long to revive again and again.

No worries if it doesn't involve frying.....the flavors of this punjabi/UP kadhi lie in the thickened soup and not in the dumplings , although the dumplings add fun to the soupy bowl of contentment.....


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

green beans and soy granules stir fried with ginger

Yes, ginger is the kick you get first when you taste it. I used fresh tender ginger rhizomes available in markets right now , they have lesser heat and if used in higher amounts in a stir fry, impart a wonderful flavor. Those fresh and tender ginger rhizomes look pale and have a pinkish glow at the growing tips , look out for them if you like ginger in all it's forms.

I used green beans here but this stir fry can be made with cauliflowers chopped in small bits and other vegetables too which remain firm after cooking , particularly the ones you like firm and crunchy cooked , not mushy.


green beans chopped in small bits 2 cups
tomatoes chopped in small bits 1 cup
boiled and squeezed soy granules 2 cups
finely chopped tender ginger rhizomes 3-4 tbsp
chopped green chillies 2 tbsp or more
cumin seeds 1 tsp
curry powder 1 heaped tbsp (made with coriander, cumin, black pepper corns and bay leaves in 4:2:2:1 ratio)
turmeric powder 1 tsp
mustard or peanut oil 2 tbsp
OR any other oil or ghee
salt to taste


Heat oil in a pan and throw in the cumin seeds, wait till they splutter and then add the chopped green chillies and ginger. Let them fry just for a few seconds before tipping in the powdered spices. Mix well with the frying mixture and then add the tomatoes within a few seconds. Add salt and fry the tomatoes till they get mushy.

Tip in the chopped beans and stir fry till they get a little soft , about 3-4 minutes. Add the boiled and squeezed soy granules , mix well and keep stirring and cooking for a couple of minutes more.

Cooking time is about 8-10 minutes so take care not to overcook the beans .

As a side dish or as an accompaniment to chapatis it makes a nice healthy option. I served it with plain boiled rice and a kadhi with dumplings ...although i had it with chapatis myself as i like kadhi and this stir fry both with chapatis.

The kadhi with dumplings is the next post. Stay tuned in....

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

lotus stem stir fried in a sweet n sour sauce

The one vegetable which the husband is not too fond of and i want it again and again.This meaty vegetable makes so many nice curries and stir fries and i like having a couple of sticks in my fridge . If a vegetable is packed with nutrition and can be processed in a jiffy you would naturally like it. Tasty it is as it soaks flavors really well and see how it looks gorgeous too...Take a look on some of the lotus stem recipes on my blogs out if you like this vegetable...

Lotus stem in a yakhni gravy...

Lotus stem with turnip, a Kashmiri recipe... called gogji nadir...

Lotus stem with turnip and peas in a low fat curry...

Lotus stem capsicum and spring onion stir fry..

Lotus stem with chick pea curry...

I make a few more recipes with this vegetable, some will be featured in future...Such a beautiful looking vegetable needs to be used frequently , and it is not the exotic pricey types. healthy food doesn't cost much if it is home made.

There is another simpler stir fry with lotus stem i make with spring onions posted long ago , you can try if you have some fresh spring onion in hand . Even in this recipe i would love to have spring onion but regular red onion makes a nice addition too.


one large fat lotus stem ( approximately 150 gm)
one medium sized onion sliced (3/4 cup slices)
finely chopped ginger, garlic and green chillies as per taste , I like more ginger .
soy sauce 2 tsp
tomato ketchup 1 tbsp
lime juice 2 tsp
sugar 1 t
black pepper powder 1tsp
salt to taste (you need less as soy sauce has some salt in it)
oil (i used peanut oil) 1 tbsp


Heat oil in a pan and tip in the chopped ginger , garlic and green chillies.

Once the chopped bits are fried nicely , you need them pink and not browned, tip in the lotus stem slices, onion slices and salt. keep mixing and sauteing the vegetables till you see some of the lotus stem slices get pink and some onion slices too look caramelized.

In the meantime, mix all the other ingredients in a small bowl . Add the mixed sauce in the pan when the vegetables are desirably fried. I like the lotus stem a bit crunchy n chewy and onion slices are a bit crunchy too. You can choose to fry them more if you like that way.

Mix well with the sauce , cook for a couple of minutes with it and serve immediately. This stir fry keeps well in the fridge too and tastes good even when reheated in microwave.

I like it with chapatis or as a side dish with a full coarse meal. Without the onion slices and if the chopped green chillies etc is used in the form of paste it can be a great finger food too....yes , it is that tasty .

I like it hot so the use of ginger , black pepper and green chillies is liberal , you should adjust the heat level to your choice. As a finger food too it would be better to keep the heat low.

Enjoy health with vegetables...

Monday, September 26, 2011

karela for one and all....two stir fries to make you crave for it...

Does karela or bitter guards make a pretty picture for you. For me it certainly does. I like the way it's lush green pericarp is engraved in an intricate pattern . Do you say puckered ? Okay ..puckered it is but how beautiful the slices look ...those who chop will know what i mean .

And how convenient this vegetable is as there is no peeling and scraping involved and gets sliced or chopped within minutes...

This is what i do when i buy a large bagful of karela . The smaller ones are chopped finely to make a scramble type of stir fry and the bigger ones are chopped in bigger chunks or half moon slices to make a chunkier looking stir fry... And the same vegetable makes two very different stir fries.

Also , once cleaned and chopped , karala can be refrigerated for longer time , up to a week so make the two or three types of karela stir fries in a week once you have them chopped and secured in lidded containers.

Do not discard the skin or seeds of bitter gurads . All parts are edible and you just need to trim off the stalk attached to the fruit (technically speaking)...

So the bigger guards are cut in to thicker (1 cm or more) half moon slices and stir fried with potato cubes cut to almost the same size as bitter guards.

The potatoes soak in some of the bitterness and become tastier actually. And bitter guards become a bit less bitter in exchange....This is the most simple stir fry as only powder spices are used and cooking time is very less.

The potatoes are fried in mustard oil ( without any tempering ) first . The potatoes are not peeled in my case and you can also try if you don't do that already .

Rubbing off the grime from the potato skin is enough to clean and the peel makes it more tasty when fried or roasted .

So the potato cubes are fried first so they get half cooked and ready to take the flavors of karela fast. I like the karela slices to be just cooked or even half cooked so add karela only when the potatoes are half cooked. You can add them earlier if you want them browned a bit more , but believe me once and cook them as they look here in the picture and you would meet a new avatar of karela.

Powdered , turmeric , red chilly powder and a little cumin and coriander powder is all that is added to the stir fry. Do not cook much after adding the powder spices as they would get burnt and spoil the flavor.

Serve hot with daal chawal as a side dish as most of the north Indian families do with karela . I like it wrapped in a chapati too and have seen some people who like it with plain decide how you would like it most.

The lightly browned bitter guard slices and potatoes with skin . A very unique combination as the potato skin also imparts a nice flavor...does it look like a sunshine stir fry ?

To me it does. I decided to upload so many pictures to entice more and more karela haters to try this sunshine once and be with it forever :-)

And now comes another bowl of sunshine...

the scramble type karela made with fennel and a peanut powder mix.

A spicy nutty scramble to stuff inside a chapati roll . I do that many times even for a quick snacking.

I am listing the ingredients for this as it requires a few more than the last one...

The quantity is large and you would like to make a large quantity simply because this is such a yummy thing to have , and also because it refrigerates well for about a month....

fine chopped bitter guards 4-5 cups (500-600 gm)
fennel seeds 1 tbsp
cumin seeds 2 tsp
ajwain seeds 1 tsp
everyday curry powder 1 tbsp
turmeric powder 1 tbsp
peanut powder 1/2 cup
red chilly powder 2 tsp or more if you wish
fennel powder 2 tsp
amchoor powder 2 tsp or a bit more if you feel like
mustard oil or any other oil 2 tbsp
salt to taste


Mix the peanut powder with red chilly powder, fennel powder and amchoor powder , mix well and keep aside.

Mix the everyday curry powder and turmeric powder with 2 tbsp of water and keep aside.

Heat the oil in a kadai and throw in the cumin seeds, fennel seeds and ajwain and wait till they crackle a bit , take care not to burn ajwain ans tip it in the last....add the soaked everyday curry masala and turmeric powders immediately into the oil and fry for about 20 seconds.

Tip in the chopped bitter guards and salt to taste and keep stir frying on medium to low flame for a longer period of time as the stir fry needs to be dehydrated without getting burnt. 

It will be convenient to keep stirring at low flame as there is less oil as compared to the quantity of the chopped guards , slow frying and doing other things on the sly is a good idea when you do multitasking.

Add the peanut powder mix when the bitter guard is cooked , it takes about 10 minutes of frying on low flame. Mix well and keep stirring for 2 more minutes and you would be able to sniff a roasted peanut and fennel aroma in the stir fry scramble...

Yes it is indeed a scramble , a bhurji as we like to call it . Something you would have daily as a side dish when you have it in the fridge...

A simple daal chawal meal and such a flavorful bhurji to go with it...a not so bitter bitter guard recipe....

Do you remember this karela mash ? Go take a look if you are new to this site.This is my on and off detox regime , i boil the vegetables in bulk and mash a portion daily for a quick bowl of soupy concoction , this one has been adopted by many of my friends and readers and liked by them too , i am taking about liking the taste and not what it does to their bodies.....because that is noticeable much later...

Enjoy good health and stimulate your taste buds too .... the ones who are dormant ...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A spicy spinach gravy base and three yummy curries...

With black chickpeas and lotus stem , with paneer and with black eyed peas. All of them super yummy and spicy and yet tasting very different from each other. The spinach gravy freezes well so it becomes a very convenient way to whip up a rich spicy curry any time you wish. I love using spinach in any possible way , as a thickener of a spicy gravy it works like magic. A nice green color and the taste blends so well with north Indian curry spices.

Use any firm vegetables of cooked beans with it and revel in your art . A large batch of this gravy makes a great sense as spinach involves a lot of cleaning and chopping time. Do it in bulk and enjoy the fruit of labor 4-5 times....


spinach leaves including stems 1 kg
tomatoes 250 gm
onions 200 gm
turmeric powder 2 tsp
salt to taste
mustard oil 3-4 tbsp
whole cumin seeds 1 tsp
bay leaves 2-3 nos.

to be made into a paste...
garlic cloves 20 nos.
ginger chopped roughly 3-4 tbsp
green chillies 5-6 or more
red chilly powder 1 tsp or more if you like
coriander seeds 2 tbsp
cumin seeds 1 tbsp
black peppercorns 1 tbsp
black cardamom 1 large
cloves 5-6 nos.
cinnamon stick 1 inch piece


Blanch the cleaned and chopped spinach leaves , cool and make a paste. A coarse paste is fine as the inclusion of stems makes it tough to make a smooth paste. You would like it this way.

Chop the onions finely , i did it in my processor.

Make a puree of the tomatoes and keep aside. Coarse puree is fine.

Make the paste of the ingredients listed for it and keep aside...the paste and puree can be made while frying the onions if you can manage multitasking on the kitchen counter. This masala paste should be fine in consistency, add some water if required.

Heat oil in a large kadai or pan , throw in the cumin seeds and wait till they splutter. Tip in the chopped onions
and fry till translucent. Toss the bay leaves in and sprinkle turmeric powder and salt to taste , stir and mix and then pour in the spice paste you made . Keep stir frying ( bhuno) this paste till it gets aromatic on medium flame. It takes about 10-12 minutes or a bit more ....the paste starts sticking to the kadai and you need to scrape it off several times...this procedure makes the spices blend well and get aromatic while getting bhunoed  (roasted)..... tip in the chopped tomatoes , keep stirring and cooking till the tomatoes get pulped.

Add the spinach puree, mix well and cook till everything bubbles together.

The gravy base is ready and can be frozen in small containers for quick curries to be assembled later as i did.

About a cup of this thick gravy base was used for 2 servings every time . One and a half cup of boiled black eyed peas (lobia) make a nice curry...boiled together till everything bubbles together , finished with a sprinkling of chopped coriander leaves...served on a bed of plain boiled rice.

A nice hearty meal , spicy enough to tingle the taste buds and take them to the satiety signal . Spicy meals are happy meals for me ...

Boiled black chickpeas (after soaking them overnight of course) and lightly sauteed sliced lotus stem make an iron rich curry with this spinach gravy. I microwaved 3/4 cup of soaked chickpeas for 8 minutes with just a tbsp of water and sauteed the sliced lotus stem in a cast iron kadai in the meantime. Added a cup of this spinach gravy from the freezer and let it simmer for about 20 minutes on low flame....

With paneer it is even more simple .Just add cubed paneer and microwave for 3-5 minutes depending on the quantity (if using thawed spinach gravy)...Mushrooms will be a nice choice too for a jiffy curry as they do not require peeling and detailed chopping.

I normally add a tbsp of fresh cream ( malai) and a tsp of crushed kasoori methi leaves to the palak and paneer gravy as it enhances the flavors of this combination ...palak-paneer is such a favorite and needs that extra touch...

All three curries taste very different from each other though the base gravy is the same. Black eyes peas with a fresh sprinkling of coriander leaves and that taste of boiled beans is very different from the black chickpeas cooked in it.

The black chickpea and lotus stem curry with this spinach gravy has dominant flavors of lotus stem as when those floral looking slices are simmered in this gravy for a longer period , they lend their own flavors to chickpeas compliment in a subtle way...

The paneer version is on another level , a dash of fresh cream and kasoori methi gives it another twist....the aroma is very very refreshing in this case ....and this one goes really well with chapatis or naan breads.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

fresh corn polenta for breakfast....choose healthier carbohydrates and brighter colors for your food...

Corn is an all time family favorite and has been a star ingredient in many of my breakfast, lunch or dinner recipes...It has been added randomly to many stir fries and curries , made into quick soups and roasted , grilled and butter fried for evening snacking sessions . I like both Indian variety of corn as well as the american sweet corn which has stormed into the markets for a few years now. Good for me i know , an easy way to get a great complex carbs full of nutrients and fiber.

Making polenta using fresh corn is a great idea for a quick breakfast fix , or as a side dish if you wish , it makes a convenient meal for me when i am alone.

I usually buy whole corn cobs and shell them with hands or with the help of a knife whatever is convenient , one can also grate them if you want to use them for a recipe like this one , although i feel grating corn on the cob wastes a lot of it's milk and pulp...if you want to make polenta using fresh corn you need all it's milk and cannot afford to waste even a small bit. I prefer giving the corn kernels a quick whiz in my processor so they get into a coarse granular might like to make a smooth paste. You decide whether you want a smooth polenta or a coarse one. I like textures in my bowl so i go for a coarse thing always ...

To make this polenta you just need to crush or grate corn kernels and carrots together in your processor. I used almost equal amounts of both but you can always decide what and how much you want with your corn here , or if you want just corn... Or some other vegetable with it. Your choice rules :)
I processed the corn and carrot (1/2 cup of corn kernels and one medium carrot) along with one fat clove of garlic. Sprinkled with salt to taste and a dash of red chilly powder . Shavings of cheese on top of it and it's ready to go into the microwave.

Any cheese you fancy , i used a block of brittania processed cheese. Just a few shavings as you don't want to kill the taste of fresh corn. Zap in the microwave for one minute , stir and again a trip of one minute into the microwave. Can you beat that ? 

5 minutes of preparation , including peeling the carrot n a pod of garlic , processing to paste, sprinkling salt n chilly powder n shaving the cheese....a couple of minutes in the microwave and your meal is ready...

You would love the way the fresh corn milk melts and blends with the cheese and makes it rich , looking like a lot of cheese has been used . You can always choose your own seasonings and vegetables for this or a plain fresh corn polenta served with a raw salad .

You would be a happy soul if you love corn....

Sunday, September 18, 2011

thukpa and momos...the stuff nostalgia is made of...

I so want to be there in the mountains once again. The elements of nature playing an orchestra that touches the soul , the music that can't be recreated and strangely the nostalgia takes it's form into food whenever know how foodies get comfort :)

So thukpa (soup with egg noodles) and momos (ravioli like dumplings stuffed with minced meat or veggies) it is for now. We get great thukpa and momos here in Delhi too, actually momos have literally replaced samosas of the yore. You find veg and chicken momos at every street corner like it used to be samosa and bread pakora some 8-10 years back... India is getting united on food front ...even the whole world is shrinking for that matter....

I love any kind of dumpling thing in a soup, a sauce or otherwise too and when i was thinking of a light soupy dinner one day i couldn't think beyond this thukpa as the memory of the fresh thukpa of Pang and Leh was so fresh. I chopped the vegetables for soup and proceeded to find the spaghetti when i saw the spaghetti had got moist and a bit musty too i ignore my ingredients. But i have the solutions too, that too healthy types..... i kneaded whole wheat flour with an egg and rolled out 3 thin chapatis, cut them in strips within 10 minutes and my thukpa soup was on the way.....see the boiling home made noodles , with lots of water and salt to taste ....

A quick stir frying of the vegetables and dunking all the veggies in the pan with boiling noodles ..... it is the other way round if you use the ready made noodles, you drain the noodles and tip them in the soup cooking with stir fried vegetables. You can add vegetable or chicken stock if you like , i made it just with the boiling water with the noodles.

Carrots, beans, onion and celery ribs and leaves were used chopped finely . A generous blob of minced garlic, red chilly powder , 2 tbsp of tomato puree ( for two dinner servings) and a bay leaf for additional flavor is all i used for flavoring. Some versions of thukpa use curry powder too and you can go along your craving of the spice for that particular day, everyday cooking is all about what you need that day. Isn't it?

Chopped celery leaves in the last stages of cooking and the thukpa is ready within 30 minutes flat. I wish i had some fresh haak leaves for this , and those crisp fresh spring onion too...
My garden is in ruins and i am not a happy cook these days.....the steaming thukpa made me happy though and i took a picture using flash to accentuate the home made whole wheat noodles....loved it.

You choose your thukpa your way , more noodles less vegetables or more vegetables and less noodles....whole wheat noodles or buckwheat (soba) noodles can make you feel comfortable if you detest refined white flour noodles like me...

Thukpa is a highly accommodating recipe, you choose your noodles , your own combination of vegetables and even your own spices ....a warm steaming bowl of thukpa is ready to heal you....

And talk about momos now...the translucent wrapping around a minced meat stuffing...and a soup for company . The red hot chutney can be given a miss i thought this time , thinking the husband anyways complaints it's too hot but he was looking for the red hot garlic red chilly chutney i unfailingly make every time i make momos ....i served tabsco sauce on the side ...i don't understand how hot is too hot for some people sometimes and how much more hot they need it some other times...

A stir fried mix of mutton mince with finely chopped onions , carrots and cabbage ( you can do without the vegetables too) . A generous quantity of minced green chillies, ginger and garlic will make it lovable. A dash of soy sauce for that delicate tingle ... salt n pepper....

White refined flour for momos , if you want a thin translucent wrapping . The flour is kneaded with plain water n salt to taste, rolled out in circles. I use a ridged rolling pin to make them thinner with less effort. Make more momos than you think will be enough as enough is not enough in this case. This is the reason i never cook momos for a large gathering and it is mostly a treat for the two of us :)

Now fill the stuffing , as much as you can and seal them with whatever pattern you can follow. Arrange them on a steamer plate or a perforated plate lined with a banana leaf or a cotton napkin...and ....stem over boiling water for 7-10 minutes . A translucent skin of the momo indicates it is cooked. Some times i just season the minced meat with salt, pepper n garlic mince , stuff it raw in the wrap and dunk it in the boiling soup....that makes a nice momo soup and the minced meat gets cooked within the soup , taking a longer time than this one.

This time the soup was prepared separately , using mutton stock prepared freshly with bony pieces and a little fat...boiled with a pieces of ginger, 2 cloves of garlic and a quarter of onion and 2 bay leaves. Seasoned with salt n lots of pepper the soup is sprinkled with fresh green coriander...

I like chicken momos more for some reason . And i prefer the seasoning in the stuffing mix delicate , not over spiced as the thin wrap of the momo supports and requires delicate flavors inside...

But i prefer the soup a bit hot ...literally.

The red chilly and garlic chutney is a must all the time and i told you why i didn't make it this time and regretted not making it... Tabasco is no match for that instant red hot chutney....10 whole red chillies , 10 cloves of garlic and salt to taste ....made into a paste using a bit of vinegar n a little water if required and that's it...momos are enjoyable with the chutney itself and the soup is optional.

Did i make you crave for momos? Or any dumpling meal for that matter?

I can make do with any dumpling whenever i am in a mood to bite into a soft glutinous thing . Every country has it's own sweet and savory version of a dumpling and our country has one of it in every corner . Check out the peethas of Orissa and bengal , daal peethi of Uttar pradesh, daal dhokli of gujraat and many rice dumplings of the southern states . I love all of them and have posted a few of them in past too...

Go make easy gnocchi if you dread stuffing these delicate momos :)                                     

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Haaq, a flavourful leafy green and two stir fries...

Haaq is a leafy green vegetable from mustard - cabbage family. The leaves look like outer cabbage leaves, much darker in color. The aroma and taste is something between cabbage and mustard leaves and the leaves do not get very soft and mushy after cooking like spinach leaves do. I discovered this recently :) On my way back from my cycling expedition in the Himalayas I spent some time in Leh and could not stop myself from buying this beautiful looking vegetable.

I had never tasted this leafy green in my life. Years ago I had watched in a TV show how a kashmiri woman was cooking haaq with mustard oil and dry broken red chillies. My hunt for this leafy green was on since then. I am a sucker for any kind of greens and love to try whatever looks promising. Everything green is always promising !!!

I found haaq on the streets of Leh being sold with other crisp fresh vegetables, many ladakhi women bring their produce to the main market streets and sit patiently to sell them by evening.

They keep munching on the fresh carrots and other things through the day, gossiping with each other and enjoying the sun. I was enthralled to see such crisp fresh greens being sold there and was missing my kitchen big time. I planned to buy a big bunch of haaq and some fresh apricots on the last day of my stay as I knew it will be worth taking the pain to lug them back to Delhi. I made a dessert with the fresh apricots and two simple stir fries using this haaq.

The right side lower corner of the picture shows haaq . It traveled well wrapped in a brown bag and then I kept it in the fridge for another 3 days before cooking it and to my surprise it was still fresh. The topmost picture shows how fresh it was after 4 days of buying it :)

I used the stems too in a soup as I did not want to waste even a bit of this precious green vegetable. That soup was a delight but no picture was clicked as I was too sleepy after coming the quick soup for lunch was enough work already :)

The leaves of haaq are just torn in bite sized pieces to cook, that is the way I saw in the TV show mentioned. How foodies remember such things :)

To proceed ... heat 2 tbsp mustard oil and throw in 6 cloves and a generous pinch of asafoetida. Follow with dry broken red chillies and wait till the chillies and cloves are fried. Dunk all the broken haaq (I used about 400 gm) in to the pan, add salt to taste and cook covered, stirring occasionally. The stir fry is cooked when the leaves are completely wilted and soft. As mentioned, haaq leaves do not get mushy like spinach, so they have a little bite but taste really good with chapatis or rice.

The second version is cooked with brinjals. I had heard about a haak-wagun and a few searches on the internet revealed it is just another variation of the simpler clove spiked stir fry. To make a haak-wagun fry the brinjal pieces first with a little salt and keep aside. Use the same oil to proceed like the above simple stir fry, adding the cloves, asafoetida and red chillies one after the other and then the broken haak leaves. Stir fry till wilted and then add the fried brinjal pieces. Cook together for a few minutes covered and serve hot with chapatis or rice as a side dish.

The use of cloves is optional as some people make it without cloves too and that would make a great sir fry too. Any green leafy vegetable cooked in this simple manner will be great actually. I don't know about greens haters but if you are like me, a green bowl of stir fry make a great meal anytime.

Collard greens make a good substitute of haaq leaves, had read somewhere earlier ... After cooking it I feel a mix of mature spinach leaves and a few outer leaves of cabbage can  be good too.

Do you like trying new types of leafy greens?