Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Diwali Faraal - Khajachi Karanji or Satyachi karanji

Diwali is just around the corner. And Fall has finally arrived in San Diego. What a glorious time it is to be frying lots of things and using ghee abundantly. Despite the hot afternoons, dense morning fog and crisp evening air convinces me of the changing season and the approaching festive times. I started my Diwali preps over the weekend on a sweet note with flaky, melt in the mouth pastry called Khajachi Karanji or Satyachi Karanji.

 Karanji is a fried pastry, much like empanadas, made with all purpose flour cover and some sort of sweet stuffing. Our traditional recipe has grated fresh coconut filling. My husband's side of the family makes a more fancy version of it. The cover is made by layering multiple rolled dough rotis with ghee in between. When fried, the layers separate, must like puff pastry, creating wonderfully flaky and crispy karanji. It's called Khajachi karanji for the layers resembling another sweet called Khaja. It also gets its other name, Satyachi Karanji or Karanji made with Sate, from the ghee-corn starch spread used to create layers. The spread is called Sate. This Karanji is stuffed with a fine dried coconut filling which adds to the melt-in-the-mouth quality. Some make the karanji cover using very fine rava or semolina. It needs to be pounded and requires more work. I took the easier route.

Husband specially asked me to make Karanji 'their style' since I'm making everything else using my mom's recipes. I am always up for trying something new, especially when it involves a sweet ;). I called up my mother-in-law, and got detailed instructions from her. My skills were at test, and I decided to post the recipe when husband gave me two thumbs up!

The recipe is a little tricky. And the instructions are long. But the picture tutorial should help in understanding how it's made. This elaborate preparation is worth every delicious bite!

**This recipe makes ~12 karanjis.

Khajachi Karanji/Satyachi Karanji

1 Cup all purpose flour
2 Teaspoons melted hot ghee - must be absolutely hot, not warm
Couple of pinches salt
Water as needed
1 pinch saffron and 1 Tablespoon milk Or food color of choice (optional)
A little milk to seal karanji

2 Tablespoons corn starch
~ 2 Tablespoons ghee (or as much needed to create a smooth paste)

1/2 Cup dry grated coconut. If you grate an entire coconut, scrape off the black part.
2/3 Cup sugar
2 Tablespoons almonds
1/2 Teaspoon cardamom powder

To prepare the dough:

  • Mix all purpose flour, salt, and hot ghee. The ghee helps make the dough light. 
  • Add just enough water to prepare a stiff dough. It is important not to make the dough soft
  • Cover the dough under a damp cloth and let it sit for a couple of hours. 
  • If you want to make a two-colored karanji, you can use food color. Separate 1/3 and 2/3 flour. Add one color to 1/3 of the flour, and either keep the rest white or add another color. No one in my house is a big fan of artificial food color. So I added saffron to 1/3 of the dough. I added saffron to warm milk and crushed it until the color oozed out. Then added this milk to the dough. 

To prepare sate:
  • Mix corn starch and enough ghee to make a smooth paste in a small plate/bowl. Whisk this by fingers until it's mixed well and looks creamy. 

To prepare the filling:

  • Roast coconut on low flame until toasty (~5 mins). If you have sliced coconut, roast it and then grind it to a coarse powder. You don't want pieces of coconut poking through the dough. 
  • Grind sugar and almonds to a powder. 
  • Mix coconut, almond, cardamom powder, and sugar. Adjust the amount of sugar to your liking. Remember that frying tones the flavors down. Make sure the aroma of cardamom powder is prominent. Mix the filling well by hand. 

To make karanji:

  • Knead the dough well before making karanji. Make three parts of the dough.
  • Roll out each part into a roti. Keep the dough covered under damp cloth while working on each roti to ensure it doesn't dry out. 
  • Take one roti, spread the corn starch mixture or sata by hand to create a thick coat all around. Place the second roti on top of it. Apply more sata and layer the third roti. Press gently by hand. 
  • Now create a tight roll, like a Swiss roll. Pinch off the ends to close. 
  • Cut the roll in half at an angle (as shown in the pic above). Cut each piece in half again. Now cut all 4 pieces in thirds - a total of 12 pieces. Keep them covered under damp cloth. 
  • Press each of the dough pieces by hand to flatten out. You want to flatten it from the side that shows the layers. Since they are at an angle, the layers will seal when pressed. 
  • Gently roll the dough ball using corn starch or all purpose flour so it doesn't stick. Don't roll too hard or else the layers will separate before frying - this will break the karanji while frying, spilling out the filling into the oil. You want to roll the dough like a puri - not too thick not too thin. This cover is called a paari.
  • Place a large spoonful of the filling at the center of the paari. You want a decent amount of filling since the karanji will puff up after frying. Apply a little milk all around the edge of the pari, fold it in half and seal of the edges to create a boat shaped karanji. Press the ends well so that karanji doesn't open while frying. Don't leave any air iside. You can cut the excess ends using a karanji cutter, or a knife. 
  • Heat oil in a kadhai. Drop a small piece of dough. If the oil bubbles rapidly and the dough floats to the top right away, the oil is ready for frying. Lower the heat to medium and fry each karanji until golden. Don't turn the karanji too many times else it'll break. The layers in the paari should separate while frying. 
  • Take out the karanjis on a paper towel to absorb excess oil. Let them cool completely before storing. You don't want any steam remaining, else the karanjis will turn soft. 
  • Store in an airtight container once cooled. They can be stored for up to 2 weeks. 

This is one of the many sweets and snacks I plan to prepare this year. Let me know what you're making for Diwali!

Submitting this recipe to the Dish it Out - Diwali Bash event @ Cook's Joy

Saturday, October 11, 2014

A Healthy Start - Rava and Oats Uttappam For Breakfast

Preparing meals has become a joint venture in my house lately. Between prepping, cooking, cleaning after, and most importantly looking after the baby, we all need to rotate the roles every so often. I've been able to prepare some elaborate meals lately, such as our Dashera feast. But most of the times I let others help out as much as they can. Cooking with the family is the best way to spend some quality time with them. It's amazing what topics, stories, and helpful tips come out of 'cooperative cooking'. That is when we create memories to cherish for life.

Our Sunday brunch was no different. I made this healthy uttappa/uttappam made with rava and oats. Mom roasted rava and oats, I cut the veggies for the topping and chutney, dad helped grind the chutney, while husband kept the girl entertained. This easy uttappa doesn't require pre-planning, soaking, fermenting etc., much like this instant idli. We got almost two meals out of the batter for the four of us. I was going to make simple rava uttappa, but mom suggested adding oats. It has become a common ingredient in many of her diabetic friendly recipes. Not only that, oats made the uttappas light, and prevented them from sticking to the pan. The great thing about uttappas is that you can top them with a variety of veggies to suit your taste. I added grated carrot along with tomato-onion-cilantro topping. Beetroot, bell peppers, spinach, corn, cheese can be some other options. You are only limited by your imagination. To go with the uttappas, I made a tomato-onion chutney, which has become a favorite of mine lately, and has replaced the usual coconut-cilantro chutney.

Rava-Oats Uttappa/Uttappam

2 Cups rava/semolina
1 Cup old fashioned oats
1 1/2 Cup yogurt
Salt to taste
Water as needed

Mixture of finely chopped onion, tomato, green chili, chilantro, and grated carrot

  • Roast rava on medium heat until fragrant and just starts to change color. 
  • Roast oats until toasty and fragrant, and grind them to a coarse powder. 
  • Mix roasted rava, oats powder, yogurt, salt, and add enough water to make a pancake like consistency batter. Let the batter soak for about an hour, or hour and a half. 
  • To prepare uttappas, heat a pan on medium-high. Make sure the pan is hot before you make the first uttappa, else it'll stick to the pan, and the rest of them won't come out well either. 
  • Pour a ladleful of batter on the pan and gently spread it in a circular fashion. 
  • Add the topping. 
  • Once the uttappa starts to separate from the pan, and you can see that it's golden brown on one side, turn and cook on the other side. 

South Indian Style Tomato-Onion Chutney

2 Medium tomatoes - diced
1 Small or 1/2 Large onion - diced
2 Garlic cloves - chopped
7-8 Curry leaves
Handful of cilantro sprigs (optional)
2 Red chilies/1 Teaspoon red chili powder
1 Tablespoon chana daal
1 Tablespoon urad daal
1/2 Teaspoon mustard seeds
Pinch asafoetida
1/2 Teaspoon turmeric powder
Salt to taste
1 Tablespoon oil for tempering

  • Heat oil in a pan, and add mustard seeds. 
  • Once the mustard seeds splutter, add asafoetida, turmeric powder, curry leaves, garlic, chana daal, urad daal, red chilies, and chopped onion. Roast until the onion is translucent and the two daals turn a red hue. 
  • If you are using red chili powder, add it with the tomatoes. 
  • Add tomatoes, and salt to taste, and roast until tomatoes are cooked (~3-4 mins). 
  • Once the above is cool enough to put into a grinder along with cilantro, grind it chunky or smooth  - however you like your chutney. 

Enjoy hot uttappas with the chutney!

What is your 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Batata Bhaji With Yogurt

It seems I only get to post from one major festival to another these days. There is no time to eat food peacefully, much less take pictures and blog about it. But I'm thoroughly content spending time with and watching my baby girl grow. She turns 7 months today according to the Hindu calendar, and what a fun little thing she is to play with! We also have a full house with my parents visiting us currently - which is why we prepared a feast for Dashera on Friday. Such a bliss being with your near and dear ones on festivals! I meant to post about it right away, but here we are into Kojagiri Pournima and I already have something new cooking in the kitchen. Expect more posts during this festival season.

For us Maharashtrians, Shrikhand-puri is must for the Dashera feast. I made Shrikhand using my Grandma's foolproof recipe. I don't strain the 'chakka' if it's not too lumpy - I like that slightly grainy texture it leaves. There were other traditional dishes on the menu - Batata bhaji/aalu sabji, green beans stir fry/sabji, carrot koshimbir/Maharashtrian style salad, cucumber kayras , masoor amati, and rice. The kayras recipe I posted in the past was taken from somewhere else. Now that mom is here, I made it under her guidance, and it was just how I like it. Her recipe is easier as well. I'll repost it now.

Below is the picture of everything I prepared - how a traditional Maharashtrian thali is served. Of course, you don't expect a square plate,  but I did the best using available resources :D.

Batata bhaji goes really well with shrikhand-puri. Our traditional recipe has a tempering of green chilies and curry leaves. Mom suggested trying something different this time. She taught me a really simple and absolutely delicious recipe for Batata Bhaji in Yogurt. Like everything my mom makes, I loved the preparation. The yogurt taste is not too prominent, but it adds a slight tang and creaminess, and helps in bringing all the flavors together. The recipe below is for a dry sabji, but you can make a thinner gravy by adding more yogurt and adjusting the spices accordingly. There's one more potato recipe added to my repertoire now.

Dahyatali Bhatata Bhaji/Aalu Sabji with Yogurt

3 Large or 4 medium white/golden potatoes.
1/2 Cup yogurt
1 Teaspoon Garam Masala
1 1/2 Teaspoons cumin-coriander powder
1 Teaspoon green reen chili powder/ to taste
Salt to taste
Water if needed.

1 Tablespoon oil
1/2 Teaspoon mustard seeds
1/4 Teaspoon asafoetida
1/2 Teaspoon turmeric powder.

  • Boil potatoes till fork tender. Peel and cut into 3/4'' cubes. Keep aside.
  • Heat oil in a pan, and add mustard seeds. Once they splutter, add asafoetida, turmeric, and yogurt and let cook for about a minute.
  • Add potatoes, garam masala, cumin-coriander powder, green chili powder, and salt. Mix everything well. If the potatoes seem too dry, add a little water.
  • Cover and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • Garnish sabji with chopped cilantro. Done!

With Diwali just around the corner, we're getting ready to make Faraal. What's happening on your side?


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