Sunday, 31 January 2010

Think Spice: Think Amchoor

Think Spice is an event which was conceived by Sunita of Sunita’s World. The event has been going strong for more than 2 years, having explored a number of wonderful spices, some of which I hadnt heard about, I must admit. Having travelled all over the blogosphere, Think Spice is making a halt at Taste Buds for the month of February.

Amchoor has been one of my favourite spices but off late I have noticed that the usage of this tangy spice has decreased in my kitchen. So with an aim to rediscover Amchoor I have chosen it as the star for this month’s Think Spice event, which will be hosted here on Taste Buds.

The name of this spice comes from Aam (Mango in Hindi) and choor meaning powder. Amchoor is a fruity spice with a tart flavour, made from dried unripe mangoes. To make amchoor, early-season mangoes are harvested while still green and unripe. The green mangoes are then peeled, thinly sliced, and sun-dried. The dried slices, which are light brown and resemble strips of woody bark, can be purchased whole and ground by the individual at home, but the majority of the slices processed in this way are ground into fine powder and sold as ready-made amchoor. (source: wisegeek)

Amchoor is a predominant flavoring agent in north Indian cookery, used in a wide range of dishes including Sabzi/Bhaji (Vegetable preparations), soups, snacks etc. to provide a slightly sour flavour.

Here are the guidelines for the event.

  1. Post a recipe with Amchoor as the star ingredient (only vegetarian recipes please, though eggs are allowed), it can be in either the dried strip form or in the powder form. You can also include any other dried mango variety (Aam papad comes to mind). It will be great if you can share any other information related to Amchoor.
  2. Include a link to this post and also to Sunita’s Think Spice post.
  3. Email me your entry at bhagya03[at]gmail[dot]com with “Think Spice:Think Amchoor” as the subject line. Include the following in the email
    • Your name
    • Name of the dish
    • permalink of your post
    • picture of the dish, 250 pixels wide
  4. Old posts are welcome if updated or reposted with the above mentioned links.
  5. The deadline for sending in your entries is 1st March 2010.
  6. If you are a non blogger and wish to participate, simply email me your entry with a picture, at the above mentioned email address.
  7. The logo is yours to be used!

The round up will posted in the first week of March.

So there you are then. Get cooking with Amchoor and get creative as you do so!

PS: You still have one more day to send in your entries for Think Spice: Think Vanilla for the month of January, hosted at Snacksgiving.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Bajra Aloo Roti

The quest for cooking and eating something different from the routine makes me pick up various cookbooks from the library. This time I got Tarla Dalal’s Rajasthani Cook book and one weekend in December saw me trying a combination from this book.

About the book itself, its a well compiled book with the usual suspects making an appearance such as Dal Bati, Churma Laddoo, Gatte ki Kadhi and so on. The dishes are described before each recipe, making it easier for some one who is new to Rajasthani cuisine to make their choice.

The recipes themselves are simple but I am not completely sure about the authenticity. What I mean by this is that the recipes are sort of ‘modernised’ may be to suit the city kitchen as compared to the rustic villages where these traditional & classic recipes are actually born. Take for instance this Bajra Aloo Roti. Now I know that any roti prepared with Bajra (Millet) flour is very fragile & prone to breaking because of the lack of gluten which helps in holding together the dough. Due to this reason these Rotis are always made by hand, by pressing or beating down on the lump of dough to form into a circle and then cooked. But this book asked me to ‘roll it out’, which I tried by the way but without any success. In then end I resorted to what I knew and made them by hand.

Bajra Aloo Roti

Picture 131

Makes 6


  • 2 Cups Bajra (Millet) flour
  • 1 medium sized Potato, boiled and mashed
  • 1 small onion, chopped finely
  • 1/2 tsp Green chilli paste
  • 1/2 tsp Ginger, grated (or paste)
  • 2-3 tblsp finely chopped fresh coriander
  • 1 tsp Amchoor (Dry Mango Powder)
  • 1 tsp Garam Masala (Optional)
  • salt


Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Knead into a soft dough using a little warm water.

Heat a Tawa (griddle). Divide the dough into 6 equal portions and shape them into flat discs.

Picture 110

Sprinkle some flour onto the the working surface. Place one of the discs, apply some flour onto your palm and then tap on the disc to flatten it into a roti.

Picture 111

Proceed gently and carefully as the flour has a tendency to break or tear. Flatten the dough to a thickness of approx half an inch.

Place the roti in the hot tawa and cook well on both the sides using a little ghee, till it starts to get brown speckles on both the sides.

Repeat with the remaining dough.

Picture 119

Serve hot with another dollop of ghee.

This can be had on its own, a little pickle or chutney by the side or served with a sabzi or dal. I served it with another dish that I made from this book Masala Chawli. The recipe is coming up shortly.

My Notes: These rotis were a very good change from the usual chapati or phulka. You can skip all the additions and make plain Bajra Roti with just the flour, salt & water. Proceed as above for the rest of the steps. The plain bajra roti tastes great with a lump of jaggery.

Another thing to note is that the Ghee is not to be skipped at all, while cooking and even while eating the roti!

Friday, 15 January 2010

Moong Dal Halwa

When I saw the recipe for the this month’s ICC, I was a little disappointed, not because I don't like Moong Dal Halwa, in fact I love it! The reason was that I knew I would have to miss this month’s challenge because I would be travelling to India during the month of January and I felt very bad that I will be missing making the Moong Dal Halwa. But I somehow could not give it a miss, so I made it today, just a day before I leave for India. Needless to say, this a scheduled post and will appear on time for the ICC.

I always knew that making Moong Dal Halwa was a simple process but never knew it could as simple as this. This is the best thing about ICC, if you ask me. Because of the monthly challenge, I make things I have been thinking of trying to make for such a long time!

I did not want to use Khava, so used the second recipe.





Moong Dal Halwa

Picture 0771


  • 1 Cup Yellow Moong Dal
  • 1/2 Cup Ghee (Clarified Butter) – I needed more
  • 1 Cup Sugar (Increase if you like it sweeter)
  • 1/2 Cup Milk
  • 1-2 tblsp Chopped Almonds/Pistachios


Soak the Moong Dal for at least 6 hours.

Grind the soaked and drained Moong Dal into a smooth using as little water as possible.

Take half the quantity of Ghee in a Non Stick Pan. Add the Moong Dal paste and cook on a very low flame.

Keep stirring to avoid burning as the Moong Dal will cook & thicken very fast.

Keep adding the remaining Ghee in between and stir to mix and cook, avoiding any lump formation. But don't worry if you do get some lumps, they will eventually go away because of the high quantity of Ghee used.

Keep cooking the Dal till it lets it out aroma & the Ghee begins to separate.

Mix together the milk and the sugar & bring to a boil in a saucepan. Add this to the cooking Dal, stirring at the same time.

Mix properly and let it cook till the Ghee starts to separate again. Switch off the flame before the Halwa gets too thick as it will slightly thicken when cooled.

Garnish with chopped nuts and serve warm.

My Notes: The Halwa was very good. I was a little disappointed by the colour, because I have always seen Moong Halwa with a deep dark brown colour. I am not sure what brings that colour.

Also the amount of Ghee and Sugar had to be adjusted, I needed more than the suggested quantity in both the cases.

But as always, this was a great experience and I cant wait to make it again!

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

The classic chocolate chip cookies

I really meant it when I thought a couple of months back that there will be a spate of ‘cookie’ posts on this blog. The reason being that I had got a copy of Williams Sonoma’s Cookie collection (delighted to win it for MLLA-13 hosted by Sunshine Mom) and was itching to start trying each of the recipes out one by one. Although I have made a few, I never got down to post about them, my main excuse being the lack of ‘good’ photographs. It would have been the same for this as well, if I hadn't got a chance to make them again during the Christmas week. The earlier attempt, my first one at these much loved cookies, was a big hit and all the cookies were gone before I could recharge the batteries of my camera. So when the opportunity presented for the cookies to be made again, I jumped at it and this time made sure that I had clicked at least a few snaps before I let anyone even look at these cookies :)

Coming back to the book, it is a great collection of all the popular cookies, arranged  very well into categories such as Classic, Party cookies, Holiday cookies, decorated cookies etc. One of the best things about the recipes is that they give the list of ingredients with their weight as well the cup measurements which saves the additional step of converting from weight to volume. I have tried some other recipes from the book and they have come out really well too.

Both GM and our daughter S, are very brand conscious. Now what has that got to do with the cookies you ask.Well, while GM will like any of the Marks & Spencer's product with his eyes closed, S goes a step further and will eat only those cookies, made fresh in their bakery. So it was sort of a ritual for quite some time that whenever I went into the stores, I would religiously get her the chocolate chip cookies from there. When I made them for the first time & S tasted it, she asked me “Mummy when did you go to Marks & Spencer's?” and that was enough for me to authenticate this recipe!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Picture 021

Makes about 30


  • 1 1/3 cup Plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown Sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp Vanilla essence
  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips, Milk or white


Pre heat the oven to 180 deg C. Prepare two baking sheets lined with baking paper.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt and keep aside.

Take the butter in a mixing bowl and cream the butter using an electric mixer or whisk by hand till it gets fluffy and pale. Add both the sugars and continue to mix till the mixture is no longer grainy to touch. Keep scraping the sides of the bowl with a spatula while mixing.

Add the egg and vanilla essence and mix on low speed.

Add the flour mixture and combine everything with a wooden spoon until just blended. Add the chocolate chips and mix gently.

Drop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets with the help of a spoon or shape into 1 inch balls by dampening your hands. Place the cookies at least 2 inches apart as the dough will spread while baking.

Bake the cookies for about 12 minutes, till the edges start to brown. Remove them from the oven and let them cool for sometime on the sheet and then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely before storing them into an air tight container.

Picture 151

My Notes: These cookies are a perfect combination of crunchy and chewy. Although the recipe says it makes 4 dozen cookies, I could get about 30-32 medium ones.

There was one thing in the recipe which had me baffled though. The quantity of flour mentioned was 220 gm in weight and 1 1/3 cup in volume. The conversion does not work out the same, although the conversion for the other ingredients was spot on. I almost increased the quantity of the flour. But then I decided to stick to the volume measurement and cookies came out great. A printing mistake perhaps?

Also I had some Milk Chocolate chips and some white ones, so I mixed both of them.