One of my very dear friends called me to check if I could cater for Millburn Elementary school’s International Fair day. On this day, all the parents and kids get to taste different cuisines from all over the world and so I decided to take up this challenge to represent Indian Food. According to the instructions that was given to me by my friend, they needed something that was easy for kids as well as parents to pick and eat, dishes I prepare should obviously have flavors of my country India, it has to be ALLERGY FREE 🙂 and not very spicy. They also mentioned that they needed a dessert as well that had no nuts, no milk and so forth so even kids or parents with nut or milk allergies would be able to enjoy it. I decided to make VEGETABLE ROLLS and for dessert, my favorite CARAMELIZED BANANAS WITH TOASTED SWEETENED COCONUT FLAKES AND CARDAMOM.
I woke up early this morning all ready to take up the challenge. My vegetable rolls needed stuffing for which I decided to saute onions, bell peppers and boiled cooked potatoes with a bunch of home ground Indian spices. Once the stuffing was cooked and ready, I started spooning in some of the stuffing in each roll and folding it and cutting it into 3 for mess free eating:)
I was asked to make 75 such Vegetable rolls and cut into 3 so a total of 225 pieces and a small tray of dessert.
It took me a while to make and cut those 225 pieces:) I then had to start on my dessert. Dessert was simple but healthy and delicious. I had some cardamom seeds in my pantry so took them and freshly ground them using mortar and pestle. I chopped the most number of bananas I ever have in my life so far:) and used a tad of clarified butter along with brown sugar to get those puppies cooking and caramelized! Then I sprinkled some toasted sweetened coconut flakes on top and added some freshly ground cardamom as garnish- Pure heavenly bliss!
I packed everything up and had it dropped at the Millburn Elementary school, my dishes proudly representing my country India and its flavors!!!! My friend also sent me a picture clicked at the fair with most of the food gone in the trays:)
One of the most humble dishes that tasted awesome was the (Punjabi Kadhi) or Vegetable Fritters in a Spicy Yogurt Sauce. I had never come across this dish until after our wedding. My husband was born and raised in the North of India and this dish was one of his favorites. Once when he had invited a group of his friends home for dinner, he wanted me to make this dish. I remember there was nothing left in the pan after they left! They loved it and I gave myself a pat on the back:)
I have tried this dish with several ingredients and have finally mastered a recipe with my variations and you can find it on my recipes section. I have mentioned a few tips and a few spices that I add to make this dish stand out from the others and taste Curryliciousssssssssss!
Growing up as a child, my mom would make hot crispy pakoras or vegetable fritters whenever we had guests over and I loved to snack on them with some nice green coriander chutney! Tasted delicious. Today, I am a mom and I make it for my kids and friends and they thoroughly enjoy the crunchy Pakoras with the coriander chutney.
This is one of my best sellers in appetizers on my catering menu. Also, is a big hit at home when its raining outside and my husband loves to eat them with his cup of Chai!
Gram flour (besan) 3/4 cup
Onion, finely chopped 1 medium
Bell pepper, finely chopped
Dried Fenugreek leaves (methi) 1/2 cup
Freshly ground coriander seeds
Ginger,grated 1 inch piece
Cayenne powder 1 teaspoon
Salt to taste
Canola or Vegetable oil to deep fry
2 teaspoons buttermilk
For Spicy yogurt sauce (called Kadhi)
Yogurt 1 cup
Gram flour (besan) 1/4 cup
Turmeric powder 1 teaspoon
Salt to taste
Canola/ Vegetable Oil 2 tablespoons
Fenugreek seeds 1/2 teaspoon
Cumin seeds 1/2 teaspoon
Dried red chillies for garnish
Black peppercorns 4-5
Onion ,chopped 1 medium
Ginger,chopped 1/2 inch piece
Cayenne powder 1 teaspoon
Preparation of Vegetable Fritters: Take a big bowl and mix gram flour, salt, turmeric, dried fenugreek leaves, freshly ground coriander seeds and cayenne pepper. Mix in the chopped onions & bell peppers. Add about 1/4 a cup of water and mix well.
NANDINI s TIP: Add 2 teaspoons of buttermilk.
Cover the bowl and let it rest for 30 minutes. This allows all the flavors to blend well with the onions and peppers.
Heat sufficient oil in a pan, drop small portions of the mixture and deep fry till golden brown. Drain and place on an absorbent paper and set aside.
Preparation of Spicy Yogurt Sauce:
Take a bowl and whisk yogurt and gram flour well.
NANDINI s TIP: Sift the flour into the yoghurt while whisking in order to avoid forming lumps.
Blend thoroughly. Add turmeric powder, salt and three cups of water. Heat two tablespoons of oil in a pan Add fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds, black peppercorns and red chillies. Stir-fry for half a minute. Add onions, ginger and stir-fry for a minute. Add yogurt mixture. Bring to a boil and simmer on low heat for about fifteen minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cayenne powder.
Bringing together the dish:
Transfer the crunchy golden brown vegetable fritters to the yoghurt sauce and simmer for four to five minutes.
Picture 1: Spices required Picture 2: Preparation of fritters
Picture 3: Cumin, Coriander, Red Chillies &Tumeric
Picture 4:Transfer ginger-garlic Picture 5: Mix gram flour with yogurt
Picture 6: Transfer gram flour mix to the pan- Spicy yogurt Sauce
Picture 7: Fry the fritters Picture 8: Transfer fritters to a plate
Picture 9: Add the fritters to the spicy yogurt sauce