You may have noticed over the past few months that I have not been posting new recipes with the same frequency as last year. This is because I have been working hard to finish writing my second cookbook. I used the extra time to focus on writing, reviewing and taste testing my selected recipes to make sure everything was just right before I finished the book. It was hard to organize all of the recipes to determine the approach so I arranged and rearranged the book several times before settling on an approach and outline. With the structure of the book, we, meaning my husband and I, had more work to do.

We decided on Indian fusion cuisine that brought together the special flavors and techniques of Indian and Western cooking into an exciting new cuisine. Traditional Western recipes fused with Indian spices and methods, and Indian recipes adopted Western techniques and ingredients. This new approach to cooking resulted in delicious, unique taste combinations.

When I started this cookbook project a few years ago, I wanted to pair wines with my recipes and had started documenting my favorite parings. We eventually nixed this since wine parings are vintage or year specific and seem to become outdated after a while. We had attended many whisky tasting events in the U.S. and the U.K., and observed that pairing whisky with food was becoming very popular and was a lot of fun. We attended whisky tasting dinners where the menus were created around the list of whiskies to be served. These were wonderfully enlightening events and a lot of fun.

Last summer I wrote a series of posts that discussed the whiskies of Scotland and India. I discussed the flavor profiles and paired several whiskies by region with some of my recipes. Since then my husband and I have had a lot of ‘work’ to do to pair all of the entrees that I was planning on including in my book with one or more whiskies. It as a challenge but we really enjoyed doing it.

Inspired, my new Indian inspired fusion cookboo

Inspired, my new Indian inspired fusion cookboo

With the help of my creative daughter and her degree in advertising, we finally named the book Indspired to incorporate the fusion of Indian and Western cuisines with their liquid gold pairings, into a new world of globally inspired food.

I submitted the manuscript to the publisher a while ago and it is just about finished! Indspired should be released some time this summer. Check back often for updates!

As my son returned to school and fall approaches, I am starting to think about heavier, cool weather cooking. I thought of my tagine, a clay pot that is used for cooking in Morocco and North Africa and my clay pot from Tuscany and dreamed of how lovely a savory stew would taste with a great bottle of wine. Then I remembered that I write a food blog that specializes in Indian cooking and Indian fusion cuisine. As I refocused my mind, I discovered that clay pot cooking is actually very prominent around the world.

 

Clay pots come in many different shapes, sizes and styles. They are older than our modern stainless steel pots but remain popular for many reasons: the clay interacts with the food to enhance its flavor, retention of water inside the pot so the food does not dry out and the nutrients remain, even distribution of heat through the pot and through the food inside so it cooks evenly.

 

clay pot from Tuscany

My clay pot from Tuscany.

Even though I don’t know where they originated, they are found across Europe, Africa, South America and Asia. The most amazing thing I learned is that two different varieties are found in India. Those in Tamil Nadu and Kerala are called chatti while the ones in northern India and Pakistan are called handi. See my Dum Pukht Biryani recipe that originally would be cooked in a handi.

 

Along the Malabar coast in northern Kerala cooking in a chatti is common, both savory and sweet dishes are made in it. One of the most popular dishes is called Chatti Pathiri. (Chatti – the pot in which this dish is cooked and Pathiri – pastry). Many people have made the comparison between this dish and Lasagna. Without the tomato sauce, the analogy works.

 

Pathiris are thin, flat breads made with rice flour, water and salt that are cooked on a tava (cast iron griddle). They resemble chapatis but are lighter and more delicate like a crêpe. They can be made with white and even whole-wheat flour as well. The filling is spread out between layers of pathiri and then the whole thing is steamed in the chatti. When sweet, the filling is often made with egg, cashews, coconut, sweet milk and cardamom. The savory varieties feature various types of meat and vegetables along with spices.

 

Both meat and vegetarian curries are cooked in a chatti. A bit of oil is poured on the bottom of the pot then the ingredients and spices are added. After the lid is set on top it is placed on the stove over low heat where the contents are steamed until done. This is a very healthy way to cook while preserving the best flavors of the food. I will feature my Clay Pot Chicken Curry and my Baked Basmati Rice in upcoming posts. Stay tuned…

A friend recently gave me a bottle of an East Indian spice blend called Panch Phoron. I was aware of it but had never cooked with it so I did some research. It is a blend of 5 different spices (the name actually means five spices): cumin, mustard, nigella, fennel, and fenugreek, that are mixed together and used in seed form rather than being ground. Occasionally other spices, like anise, are added or substituted to vary the flavor of the spice mix. The spice mix may be used as it is, gently roasted or lightly fried in a bit of oil just before it is used to bring out the flavor.

 

In India panch phoron is used to season meats, breads and vegetables. The flavors these spices bring to food are amazing. Together they provide a warm, earthy flavor with a fruity, bitter, grassy essence. It is a very mild spice mix that is not overpowering or hot at all. I’m surprised that is it not as popular as some of the more common Indian spices mixes like garam masala but it should be.

Panch Phoron

Panch Phoron

 

The basic recipe for Panch Phoron is equal measures of each spice. I have adjusted the ratio to suit my tastes. I think the fenugreek is too bitter so I reduced it a bit. Just mix all of the seeds together and you are done! This spice mix can be made ahead and stored in an airtight jar to save time in the future.

 

Panch Phoron recipe

1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 tablespoon nigella seeds
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
2 teaspoons fenugreek seeds

 

All of the ingredients are supposed to be used as whole seeds. The commercial spice mix that was given to me contains fenugreek seeds that are very small while the seeds I buy in the U.S. are large and extremely hard to chew (more like impossible to chew). When I make Panch Phoron at home I use crushed fenugreek seeds, not ground, to make the spice mix easier on the teeth.

 

One of the ingredients, nigella, is somewhat unusual to most people outside of India. They are hard and crunchy with the flavor of toasted onion. They are also known as kalonji and charnushka.

 

Some recipes call for crushed or ground Panch Phoron. Gently dry roast the spices before grinding them to bring out the flavor. Do not grind them in advance so the flavors do not have a chance to interact with each other and change the flavor.

 

Try adding Panch Phoron to any recipe. Just sprinkle it on meat, roasted vegetables, lentils (dal) or some curries. I guarantee you will love the flavor.

I have talked about the role of chutney, pickle and raita in Indian cooking over the past few months so now it is finally time to finish my series on Indian condiments. The last installment is dedicated to powders, or podi, which are mixtures of various spices that are roasted and ground then served along side of other dishes like Dosa, Idli and rice. They accompany these items to enhance their flavor. Sometimes they are mixed with a bit of oil that brings out the essence of the podi. Podis are also used as pre-made spice mixes for cooking dishes like sambar to save time.

 

 

Podis, or powdered spice blends, are popular in Indian cuisine.

Podis, or powdered spice blends, are popular in Indian cuisine.

My favorite Podis are:

Curry Leaf Podi served with rice (in the white bowl)

Mulaga Podi eaten with dosa and often mixed with a bit of oil (in the blue bowl)

Sambar Podi – used to make Sambar (in the green bowl)

 

The recipes for these podis are quite simple. The core ingredients of a podi  is a mixture of different dals and spices to which a special ingredient is added, either curry leaves or dried red chiles. (One word of caution, the Mulaga Podi is really hot so you might want to reduce the number of chiles you add. It is called gunpowder for a reason.) All of these podis are available in Indian grocery stores ready for use. I prefer to make my own since the process is really easy and the flavor of fresh podis is far superior.


Check out my recipes for podi and enjoy!

 

One thing I have learned from writing this series of posts on Indian Condiments and then reviewing them with my family is that everyone has a definite opinion of which ones are the best, whether it is Red Chile Coconut Chutney versus Tomato Chutney, Shrimp Pickle versus Raw Mango Pickle, Onion Raita versus Cucumber Raita or Curry Leaf Podi versus Mulaga Podi. The correct answer to which is best is partly determined by the dish you are eating with it. Mainly it is determined by a person’s individual preferences and taste. So, there is no single correct answer, all are correct! Enjoy!

 

Visit KachisKitchen.com for Indian recipes and cooking tips!

 

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During my visit to Dubai’s famous spice souk last year I discovered that saffron is not only sold in its natural state as threads but also as liquid saffron extract. I purchased a bottle because I found it interesting and thought it would be a different, easy way to add saffron flavor without going to the work of heating a bit of milk and soaking the threads. The vendor in the shop told me it was very popular with the locals and tourists alike.

 

Saffron extract is available in a bottle for quick and easy use.

Saffron extract is available in a bottle for quick and easy use.

 

Saffron extract is, as the name implies, a concentrated liquid containing saffron flavor or essence. The paper that came in my bottle of extract calls it “red gold”. Its purpose, in the kitchen, is to provide a standardize measure of saffron across recipes in contrast to a pinch which varies wildly. Since it is already in liquid form, it does not need to be soaked in a warm liquid for 10 to 20 minutes to release its flavor; the liquid is ready to be used. It also has a longer shelf life than dried saffron threads. The best reason to use saffron extract is that it is quick and easy to use – just pour a few drops into your dish during the step in which you would normally add the saffron.

 

When I started researching saffron extract, I could not find any information on it except that people use it as an appetite suppressant for weight loss or as a nutritional supplement. Hmm. That is not my intent. I looked all over the Internet for biryani recipes, chicken recipes, any recipe that used it. I couldn’t find a single one. A year later as I search again, I have only seen one or two recipes and a minimal amount of guidance as to how to use saffron extract. Perhaps they are available but only in Arabic.

 

Using the extract is really easy. At first I was a little nervous that I would pour way too much into my rice but, since the top has a tiny hole, just a mini-drop comes out at a time. My rule of thumb is about 10 of these drops to a cup of cooked rice. You are supposed to add it to liquid before stirring it into the rice but I added it directly to the rice after I had mixed it into the hot oil and spices. It mixed very evenly with my rice. Even if it hadn’t mixed evenly, any variation in color would enhance the look. A photo of my cumin rice with the extract is below.

 

Indian cumin rice dish made with saffron extract.

Indian cumin rice dish made with saffron extract.


 

I can only hope that my tiny 18ml bottle lasts until I can get to Dubai again. In the meantime, I plan on using
it in as many of my recipes as I can.

 

Visit KachisKitchen.com for Indian recipes and cooking tips.

 

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Two years ago I compared saffron grown in the top three saffron producing countries in the world to try to answer the question Is Saffron from Kashmir the Most Exotic?.  With May’s recipe of the month, Chicken and Saffron Curry, I want to explore how saffron is used in Indian cooking.

 

Saffron, harvested from the flower of the saffron crocus, is very special since it is the most expensive spice per ounce on the planet. To give you perspective on how rare this is, each crocus plant may have 4 flowers and each flower has 3 stigmas. That means 12 tiny threads per plant! Fortunately a tiny bit of saffron goes a long way. One needs just a pinch to flavor a bowl of rice or a dessert.

 

Saffron in Indian cooking is primarily used for its delicate honey and grassy aroma that it brings to food. It is also used for its concentrated yellow-orange color that it brings to food and as a dye for fabric.

 

Saffron, a key ingredient in Indian cooking, brings an exquisite aroma to food.

Saffron, a key ingredient in Indian cooking, brings an exquisite aroma to food.


 

Most often saffron is most often found in sweets or desserts, like Payasam. The threads add a subtle flavor and give it the distinctive color. The delicate flavor is a perfect match to a sophisticated dessert. Since this dish is milk based, it is very easy to see the threads floating in the liquid. Other desserts include some Kesari, halwa and paalada pradhaman recipes.

 

Saffron is found in many biryani recipes whether made with lamb, chicken or seafood. I use it in my Dum Pukt Chicken Biryani and Langoustine Biryani recipes. The recipe for biryani is very complicated and involves alternating layers of seasoned rice, meat and caramelized onions. Since biryani is so complicated, it is usually made for important dinners for guests or special events. Saffron, as part of this dish, implies that the meal is special.

 

Beyond these recipes, it is found in many rice dishes as well as some seafood dishes. I use it in Pondicherry Pouillabaise and Prawn Balchao. It occasionally appears in other chicken recipes like my Chicken and Saffron Curry. My Creamy Carrot Soup also takes advantage of the subtle flavor of saffron.

 

I have a few tips to using saffron to its best advantage:

 

  • Stirring the saffron to a few tablespoons of warm milk (preferred) or water and letting it sit for about 20 minutes before adding it to the pot will bring out the maximum amount of flavor and color so you do not have to use as much as you would if you added it directly to the pot.
  • Crushing the saffron threads between your fingers just before adding them to the warm milk will bring out more flavor.
  • Don’t include saffron in recipes that are very heavily spiced or hot, as the flavor will be masked by the other flavors. Save your saffron for a dish that is worthy.
  • Pretend saffron is rationed. Some people think that more is better and add it to a recipe by the handful. When I was in Dubai, a merchant told me that this is how many Saudi women add saffron this way. In my mind, this is not necessary and wastes the saffron. It just makes the color more intense but does not enhance the flavor.
  • Store your saffron in an airtight container in a dark, cool place to keep it fresh. Use it promptly as the flavor deteriorates over time.
  • If you don’t have saffron, turmeric can be used to give a golden color to a recipe.

 

Try my Chicken and Saffron Curry recipe to discover the magic of chicken with saffron.

 

 

Visit KachisKitchen.com for Indian recipes and cooking tips.

 

 

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What is the first thing you think of when you hear the words “Indian cuisine”? Is your answer spice? If so, you have the correct response. Indian cuisine is known for its use of a wide array of spices that give the food the tantalizing and distinctive aromas that we all love. A small subset of spices is used in most of the dishes in some combination and varying amounts. These combinations are the secret to excellent Indian cuisine.

 

Indian spices

Indian spices

 


Over the years I have seen many lists in which people have ranked their favorite spices. I thought it would be a good idea to pull together my list of the spices I use most often in Indian cooking. As you build your Indian spice rack, start with the first 5 items on this list and add more spices as your recipes call for them. Armed with this list, you should be able to prepare almost any Indian recipe you wish.

List of Top 10 Spices

 

Top 10 Indian spices used in Indian recipes.

1. Turmeric – From a root that looks like ginger’s smaller cousin, turmeric is dried and ground giving dishes a yellow color and a unique peppery flavor. Don’t add too much or your dish will be bitter and very yellow.

2. Red chile powder – Made from dried red chiles, this red powder adds a fiery taste to every dish. This is the reason many Indian dishes are hot.

3. Saffron – This spice comes from a species of the crocus plant. It brings a unique, subtle flavor along with a yellow color to dishes.

4. Cumin – Cumin has a warm, aromatic flavor and is used in a wide array of Indian dishes. Used whole, ground, fried in oil or roasted. I find that I use cumin in almost every dish but don’t add too much as it is powerful.

5. Coriander – As seeds or ground, coriander is one the most frequently used spices in Indian cooking. These tiny, light brown seeds of the cilantro plant have a light spicy flavor with a hint of citrus.

6. Mustard seeds – Small reddish-brown seeds have a pungent flavor and are usually added to chutneys, pickles and other dishes.  Frequently they are fried in hot oil until they pop to bring out their flavor.

7. Cloves – These dried flower buds give a warm, aromatic flavor to food. Used whole or ground

8. Cinnamon – Shavings of bark from the cinnamon tree. This fragrant spice is used in many sweet as well as savory dishes.

9. Cardamom – Small aromatic pods that contain many small black seeds.  They are available in black or green; however, the green ones are more popular. This is one of my favorite spices that I add to rice and sweet dishes for a special taste.

10. Fennel seeds – Small seeds like cumin seeds that are commonly used in pickles.

 

These spices are used whole or ground, and raw, roasted, fried in oil to bring out special characteristics of the spices to create a dish that makes a statement on your table. By mixing different spices together, different masalas, or spice blends, are created that you can use. For example, I make batches of the ever-popular Garam Masala that I use to season vegetables and save time. Once I like a spice blend, I write down the recipe so I can make it in the future to save time.

 

Try experimenting with these spices in your cooking and you will never have to eat a boring meal again.

 

 

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Falooda is a popular cold drink served in India for dessert or as a cold treat on a hot afternoon. It is believed to have originated with the Mughals and quickly migrated to all parts of Pakistan and India. Rose syrup (yes, made with real rose petals) provides the key exotic flavor and color while basil seeds, noodles, pistachios and sweet milk or ice cream bring out different textures, colors and flavors. I think of it as a party for the taste buds!

 

Falooda is a festive and delicious treat.

Falooda is a festive and delicious treat.

 

It is available on the streets in North India and in many Indian restaurants. Falooda is even available as an ice cream flavor in many Indian grocery stores. I became aware of it a several years ago when my husband brought home a pint of the ice cream. (I have to confess that homemade Falooda has the best flavor and texture.) Since my recent blog posts focused on the varieties of Indian noodles, I thought it would be a good idea to share my recipe for it. It is incredibly easy to make.

 

Falooda is a cornucopia of textures starting with the basil seeds, also called subja, subza and takmaria seeds. These tiny black seeds, when soaked in water, form a glutinous ball somewhat like the tapioca balls in boba tea from Taiwan. They don’t have a flavor but they bring texture and a lot of nutritional value. Made from arrowroot flour, the falooda noodles possess a very subtle flavor. They absorb the color of the rose syrup and turn pink. These noodles make Falooda fun. The special ingredient, that makes Falooda unique, is the rose syrup. It is made from rose water and sugar, just like making simple syrup. Rose water is a by-product when oil is removed from roses for making perfume. It has a wonderful scent. When these ingredients are combined with milk and ice cream, a wonderful, rich milkshake-like dessert is created. Yum!

 

 

Falooda for Two
 

Falooda ingredients include noodles, soaked basil seeds, pistachios and rose petals.

Falooda ingredients include noodles, soaked basil seeds, pistachios and rose petals.

2 cups whole milk

2 tsp basil seeds

2 Tbs sugar

1 oz falooda noodles

1 Tbs rose syrup, plus more for drizzling

2 generous scoops vanilla ice cream

1 dozen pistachios, toasted and roughly chopped

a few rose petals

 

 

 

 

1. Soak basil seeds in a cup of water for 30 minutes then drain off any remaining water.

 

2. Fill a large bowl with boiling water. Immerse the falooda noodles in the bowl for 5 minutes. Rinse with cold water and drain.

 

3. Mix the sugar and the milk together.

 

4. Into two large glasses, add the following ingredients in layers:

basil seeds

falooda noodles

1/2 tablespoon of rose syrup

sweetened milk

ice cream

 

5. Garnish the glasses by drizzling a few drops of rose syrup over the top followed sprinkling the chopped pistachios and a few rose petals over the top. Serve immediately.

 

 

Tips:

– If you don’t have basil seeds, chia seeds work nearly as well.

 

– The falooda noodles can be broken into smaller pieces before adding them to the glasses to make the treat more dignified to drink. I prefer using the noodles intact forthe added fun of slurping them.

 

– Rose syrup can be purchased at any Indian grocery store. If it isn’t available, you can buy rose water and make your own syrup easily.

 

– These proportions are the ones I prefer. Feel free to change them to suit your preferences.

 

– If you are serving this for a dinner party, the basil seeds and noodles can be prepared in advance and kept in the refrigerator. Final assembly should be done just before serving.

·      

 

I hope you enjoy this treat as much as I do. It makes an elegant and fun way to end a meal or cool off on a hot day. Enjoy!

 

Visit KachisKitchen.com for Indian recipes and cooking tips.

 

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Making Indian rice noodles from scratch sounds, at first, like a daunting task. Actually they are easier to make than wheat pasta! Just a few special items are needed in your kitchen: a special press, a steamer, some muscle and some friends.

 

Homemade Indian rice noodles

Homemade Indian rice noodles

 

Equipment

A special press is required to make Indian rice  noodles, whether it is rice, wheat or lentil flour based and it has many different names: sev sancha, sevai press, murukku press, noodle press, shavige press, and, perhaps, many other names. Many different varieties are available. From the original ones with a wooden plunger that is pressed through a brass tube, to the brass or stainless steel ones that use a crank to push the plunger and the modern steel ones with a trigger to push the plunger. I have seen photos of one model that rests on a stand that, I
think, would make the noodle pressing process easier. Most of the various presses come with several discs with different size holes that can be inserted into the tube to make different sizes and shapes of noodles or sev snacks. You cannot go wrong with any of these options.

Ingredients for Indian rice noodles and noodle press.

Ingredients for Indian rice noodles and noodle press.

 

 

I have a simple steel sev noodle mold with a crank. It is inexpensive and is readily available online. I looked at several local Indian grocery stores that carry basic kitchen equipment but could not find one. I quickly gave up and ordered one online from Om India Plaza at Amazon.com. It arrived very quickly and the company was very helpful.

 

The second item that is needed is a steamer, electric or stovetop. I use an electric steamer with removable trays but any method, including a basket in a pan on the stove works just as well.

 

Tips

When making the noodle dough it must be kneaded after the rice flour and hot water have been stirred together. Let it cool a bit first so you can handle the dough easily. It takes a few minutes to get the right consistency of dough. It cannot be too soft or runny and it cannot too tough or hard. If it is very firm like Play Doh, it will not extrude through the press very easily so mix in a bit more hot water so it is flexible. If it is too soft, knead about a tablespoon of rice flour into the dough to make it firmer.

 

Dough and press for Indian rice noodles.

Dough and press for Indian rice noodles.

 

Spray the inside of the press with a bit of oil so the dough does not stick. Take care not to get oil on the outside of the tube as it will be very difficult to hold when you are turning the crank to extrude the noodles.

 

Indian rice noodles ready to be steamed.

Indian rice noodles ready to be steamed.

 

The most important part of making good rice noodles is to have some fun with it. I always make them when my kids are home to help mix and knead the dough. They love to squeeze the dough through the press and make creative piles of noodles. Once the noodles have been steamed, they tend to sample more noodles than they leave for serving at mealtime. I can’t complain because we have so much fun together.

 

Check out my recipes for Sevai and Idiyappam.

 

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A few weeks ago I craved a dish that I had banned from my table while I was on a diet last year – Sevai. A very simple dish made with rice noodles, it is easy to make in very little time and disappears quickly. Since I was limiting my intake of rice- and wheat-based carbs, I tried to exclude recipes with these ingredients for the longest time. The result is that I am now craving this tasty dish. Guess what we are having for dinner tonight…

 

In thinking about noodles and Indian food I realized that they play a very important role in this diverse and mature cuisine. In fact they have been part of regional Indian cuisine for over two thousand years in some form or the other. Made with rice, wheat, lentils or cornstarch they are served as a very simple dish or part of something more elaborate, at any meal as a snack, a side dish or even a dessert. The best part of Indian noodles is they are as much fun to make as they are to eat.

Rice Noodles

Rice noodles are found in many Indian snacks, or tiffins. A very simple dough is made with soaked rice that is then ground or rice flour that is roasted, and then mixed with water. A special press is used to make these noodles. Kachi’s mother had an antique brass one with a wooden handle that you would press to extrude the noodles. Mine is stainless steel and looks like a cookie press or a pepper mill with a crank on the top to lower the plunger. Inside the press is an interchangeable disk that gives the noodles different shapes.

 

Idiyappam or Noolputtu are popular rice noodles in south India.

Idiyappam or Noolputtu are popular rice noodles in south India.

Idiyappam (Malayalam) and Noolputtu (Tamil) are small piles of thin rice noodles that are steamed with a bit of grated coconut and served as a snack with Egg Curry and Coconut Chutney. In Kerala, these tasty morsels are considered to be similar to the Appam that looks like a rice pancake.

 

Sevaka (Malayalam) and Sevai (Tamil) are similar thin rice noodles that are pressed, steamed and then broken into bits before they are seasoned with mustard seeds, dried red chilies, urad dal and curry leaves that have been fried in a bit of oil. Some recipes call for the dough to be steamed before the noodles are extruded through the press. I cannot detect a difference in taste so I follow the recipe from my mother-in-law.

 

Wheat Noodles

Needle-thin noodles made from wheat are found across India in side dishes and desserts. In all of the research I have done, I haven’t found that people make these noodles at home but buy them ready-made. They are so delicate that they make any dish special.

 

Vermacelli noodles made from wheat are popular in Uppuma and Payasam.

Vermacelli noodles made from wheat are popular in Uppuma and Payasam.

 

Vermicelli Uppuma is one of the tastiest dishes in all of Indian cooking. The lightly browned noodles that have been fried in ghee then boiled are mixed with a tasty assortment of vegetables and seasoned with mustard seeds, urad dal, Bengal gram dal, cashew nuts and curry leaves. It is perfect for a quick weeknight dinner or a weekend lunch.

 

Semiya (Vermicelli) Payasam is the most popular desert in South India with the delicate wheat noodles lightly fried in butter before adding them to the sweet payasam spiced with cardamom, raisins and nuts. It is served for the most important dinners including birthdays, anniversaries and other important events.

Lentil Noodles

Sev are noodles made from chickpea flour, extruded through the press with the smallest holes into hot oil and deep-fried to become a crunchy treat. Many varieties are available with different spices and ingredients added to give them unique flavors. Varieties of sev with different seasonings are incorporated into many Indian snack foods like mixture and dal mooth. Sev noodles are also sprinkled on top of papadi as a garnish for chaat and other North Indian street food recipes. Word of warning: These are so delicious that they are addictive and can lead to weight gain. I confess that I love these snacks and eat them too often!

 

Simply changing the disk in the press from the one with tiny holes to one with wide slits or the one with a star shape creates entirely different noodles. South Indian snacks Murukkus and Pokavada are made with a combination of rice and one or more of the following lentil flours: green gram dal, urad dal and Bengal gram dal. Ribbon pokavada are small strips of fried dough seasoned with red chili powder and asafetida. They look just like FRITOS® Corn Chips except they are crunchier and taste far less salty or greasy. Many different recipes exist for Murukkus; mine are made by mixing rice with various lentils, grinding them and adding cumin seeds or asafetida for flavor.

 

Noodles made with lentil or dal flour are fried for popular Indian snacks.

Noodles made with lentil or dal flour are fried for popular Indian snacks.

Fried noodle snacks can be made at home as part of a weekend family activity, however, every Indian grocery store has a full aisle dedicated in Indian snack foods (just like the potato chip aisle at Wal-Mart) with many brands and varieties available. I find that even though I did not include any snack food on my grocery list, several bags of these snacks land in my cart each time I visit the store. The best ones in the world can be found at Grand Snacks in Chennai, India.

 

Cornstarch Noodles

The fourth variety of noodles is made from cornstarch that gives the noodles a transparent appearance. The method for making these noodles is different from the other processes in that the dough is heated during the preparation process and then pushed through the press into a cold-water bath. Since this type of noodle is used in Falooda, a popular drink in India, sugar is added. (Look for more information on Falooda in a post in a few weeks.) Sometimes arrowroot, a starch extracted from a rhizome and available in Indian grocery stores, is used instead of cornstarch to make these noodles.

 

Noodles made with cornstarch make delicate noodles for the Indian sweet, Falooda.

Noodles made with cornstarch make delicate noodles for the Indian sweet, Falooda.

 

In my next post, I will share my recipes for Sevai and Idyappam which are fantastic as main items for breakfast or late afternoon snack, or as a side dish instead of rice with any simple meal with dal. Enjoy!

 

Visit KachisKitchen.com for Indian recipes and cooking tips.

 

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