Padwal fritters – Pathare Prabhu style Fried Snake Gourd Snack


I love my seafood and non vegetarian food. Yet, there are those few days, when Pathare Prabhu households turn vegetarian. Every Monday, each Chaturthi of the Hindu month, Navratri, Ganpati and a few days of Shravan are such occasions when even the most hardcore carnivores in our clan go cold turkey with non vegetarian food, albeit temporarily!

It’s funny how these mandatory vegetarian meals are prepared with elaborate attempts to make them resemble non vegetarian ingredients. For instance, typically on Ganesh Chaturthi, Parbhu households will cook ‘suran’ aka yam in a curry and try to make it as close to mutton godé as possible.

This recipe I’m sharing is usually reserved for a vegetarian Monday and is supposed to be a clever alternative to fried ‘karandi’ (small prawns)

Ingredients 

Padwal (Snake Gourd) – peel the exterior and slit in two halves lengthwise – discard all the inner fibrous bits and chop into ½ cm pieces.


Salt to taste

Haldi, Red chilli powder, Prabhu Sambhar (or any garam masala) to suit your appetite for heat.

Rice flour for dusting

Oil to deep fry

Method

Heat oil in a kadai over a medium flame – if your oil reaches smoking point, the gourd will burn and turn bitter. If it isn’t hot enough, this will absorb a lot of oil and again ruin the dish. The perfect ambient temperature is key!

Add salt to the slit padwal and let it rest a minute. Drain off any excess water that seeps out. However, do this step only last minute – if you leave the salt on for too long, the gourd will lose a lot of moisture and again, the texture’s ruined.

Add the powdered masalas and mix well till all the gourd bits are coated. Next, quickly dredge these in a plate of dry rice flour.


This is what the ready to fry gourds will look like.

Next, dunk these into hot oil and deep fry for around 4-5 minutes over a medium flame.


Once done, drain off any excess oil over tissues.

Serve immediately with a hot mound of ambemohar rice, plain yellow varan and a generous dollop of homemade lonkadhi tuup! 

Also makes an interesting vegetarian snack for a party. Goes really well with a drink.

Sanjurya – Pathare Prabhu style semolina stuffed sweet flatbread


Our community is extremely fascinated by puranpoli like flatbreads with assorted stuffing. Starting with the badaam / kaju polis on shravani somvaar to these sheera stuffed everyday variants.

I never really cared much for these as a kid, since they were always cooked on a ‘vaatichi chuul’ – i.e. A kerosene fuelled stove with a wick. I hated the fumes that filled our old kitchen when my mother and grandmother stood over it for hours when these were made. 

Although my mom tells me that the chul helped keep the temperature of the griddle constant and the sanjurya never charred and hence was her favourite.
As usual, keeping in line with our quirky eating traditions, these are never served as dessert or snack, but typically paired with a spicy mutton curry for a Sunday lunch when we have some guests over.

Here’s the traditional recipe right out of my 80 year old copy of Gruhini Mitra.


The recipe I’ve used today was shared by my dear friend Ashwini Kothare and is her MIL’s. I must say it worked really well. 

Ingredients (yields 14 sanjuris)

For the filling

Rawa (sooji/semolina) – 2 measures

Sugar – 2 and ½ measures 

Water – 4 measures 

Nutmeg and Cardamom powder – ½ tsp 

Saffron – a few strands

For the dough 

Refined flour (maida) – 2 measures

Wholewheat flour (aata) – ½ measure

Salt – a pinch 

Oil – 2 tbsp

Method 

For the dough 


Knead the dough ingredients except oil with water to a soft pliable dough. Add the oil and let it rest for at least 1-2 hours.




For the filling

Heat water and add the spices (nutmeg, cardamom and saffron). Add sugar and bring to a boil.


Once the syrup is boiling, add the semolina a little at a time and keep stirring continuously ensuring that no lumps are formed.


Once all the semolina is mixed into the syrup, keep cooking it slowly on a low flame till the syrup is completely absorbed by the semolina. This needs to be done over a medium to low flame so that the rawa is completely cooked and at the same time, doesn’t stick to the bottom.


Continue cooking till the mixture comes together and forms a ball. The right consistency to switch off the flame is when the spoon you’re using to stir the mix stands in the mixture without falling over.


At this point, take the mixture (saanja) off the flame and cool completely in a greased thali.

Divide both the dough and the filling into equal ball-like portions.


The filling needs to be stuffed into the dough carefully and sealed so that it doesn’t break open while rolling out the sanjuri.




Now flatten this gently and roll out into thin even 8″ discs.



Roast these on a hot griddle over a low flame.


Unlike puranpolis, these are not allowed to brown. They’re roasted slowly, maintaining the white colour of the maida.

Spread some melted ghee over these once roasted and fold in half.


Serve the sanjuris with a spicy mutton curry or usal. These keep well without refrigeration for 3-4 days.

Keshri Bhaat – the ubiquitous Parbhi sweet for auspicious occasions.

Gudi Padwa, Akshay Trutiya, Vijaya Dashami and Kartik Pratipada are revered as auspicious days in Hindu belief and celebrated as साडे तीन मुहूर्त in Marathi tradition.

On each of these days Parbhi households, go against traditional Marathi convention (as usual) cook mutton for lunch!

Curiously, the spicy meat and potato stew is accompanied by a sweet rice pulao called Keshri Bhaat. This recipe is more strikingly similar to a Muslim style Zarda Pulao than its Maharashtrian cousin ‘Naarali Bhaat’.


Ingredients 

1 cup fragrant long grained rice (basmati)

2 and ½ cups full fat milk

1 cup grain sugar

1 tbsp desi ghee

2 Cloves, a stick of Cinnamon and 2 Cardamoms

A generous pinch of saffron 

½ tsp of cardamom and nutmeg powders

Raisins and Chopped Nuts to garnish

Method 

Heat ghee in a nonstick pan and add the whole spices. Splutter for a minute.


Add washed and drained basmati and tip into the ghee. Sauté on a slow flame for 3-4 minutes.


Simultaneously, add saffron to the milk and bring it to a boil


Add the boiling milk to the rice, cover and cook on a low flame till the rice is done. You may want to give it an occasional stir to ensure it’s not sticking to the bottom.


Once the rice is cooked and is soft and fluffy, add the sugar and let it melt on a low flame. Cover and cook till all the moisture is completely absorbed in the rice.


Add the nutmeg and cardamom along with chopped nuts / raisins as desired.


Cook further till the cooked rice looks nice and glossy! 

Serve with a spicy mutton curry – or if you think that’s too radical, have it as dessert. You may want to make this more of a calorie bomb by crushing a couple of malai pedas over the rice while it’s still hot and watch them melt into little fatty puddles of goodness into the sticky rice!

Dudhi Halwa Shingdya

 Dudhi halwyachya shingdya are a unique Diwali treat. 

Bottle gourd halwa stuffed into a laminated pastry casing (like flaky / puff pastry) and baked to crisp golden perfection.

Don’t let the baked exterior deceive you. These calorie bombs are made of refined flour with loads of ghee and sugar.

They’re definitely worth the trouble as an annual indulgence though!


For Dudhi Halwa

Dudhi – ½ kg (grated)

Milk – ½ cup

Khoya – 150 gms 

Sugar – 150 gms 

Ghee – 1 tbsp

Nutmeg, cardamom (a pinch each)

In a nonstick pan, add grated dudhi, milk and cook covered till soft. 

Dry off all residual liquid and add sugar

Dry completely and add a tbsp of ghee

Once cooled, add khoya, cardamom and nutmeg powders. Add chopped nuts of your choice (optional)


For the saatha

Cream the ghee till light and fluffy and keep adding cornstarch a little at a time till it becomes a bit stiff.

For the dough

Maida – 3 waati 

Barik Rawa – 6 tbsp

Ghee (melted) – 4 tbsp

Salt – 1 pinch

Baking Powder – ½ tsp

Milk – as required for kneading 

Knead well to a stiff dough using milk. Make sure you add a little at a time to achieve a puri like dough – make sure the dough is really stiff. Leave this overnight and make your shingdya the next morning.

Make even sized dough balls (the size you would for a large paratha) in multiples of 3 (3 waatis of maida should yield 6 dough balls)

Roll out each dough ball to a thickish chapati.

Apply a thin layer of the saatha on top of each roti ( like you would apply chutney on a sandwich) and stick the 3 chapatis together.

Now pat these together to remove any air bubbles and fold them into a tight roll (like a Kathi roll).
Stretch this slightly and refrigerate for ½ hour.
Cut the roll into small pieces like pinwheels and refrigerate again for 10 minutes 
Roll these out using a little maida (not too thin as the pastry may tear)
Put in a tsp of filling (Parbhi shingdya traditionally have dudhi halwa as filling – but standard coconut filling also works).
Shape into karanjis and pinch-fold to seal (what you would refer to as murad and we parbhus call birwan).

Brush a little milk on top and bake at 200/220 ℃ for around 20 mins.

The recipe is not very simple and needs a lot of patience.
But trust me the end result is totally worth the effort and much more!

Pathare Prabhu Pav with homemade wild yeast aka khameer 


There are many traditional Indian recipes which call for the use of ‘khameer’ – the wild yeast starter used to leaven Indian bread.

Pathare Prabhus too have a unique wild yeast sourdough summer recipe and the peculiarity of this ‘bread’ is that it’s  typically paired with aam-ras!

The summer after we got married, my wife and I were invited to a ceremonial dinner at a relative’s residence in South Mumbai.

On our arrival I immediately sensed the aroma of the baking sourdough – which my wife attributed to their humid stuffy kitchen and probably some food gone rancid in their bin!

Imagine her shock when I revealed that the smell which she found offensive was actually from the prep of an integral part of our dinner that evening!

The hot humid Mumbai summer offers near perfect conditions to cultivate this yeast and is equally conducive to the fermentation process so critical to get the right texture of these leavened breads.

The yeast starter and the resultant product have a unique aroma – unless you’re familiar with the smell, it will certainly strike you as strange and maybe even unpleasant (like overly sour buttermilk or the aroma while making homemade ghee).


Making the starter – 

Take 2 fistfuls (½ cup) chana dal in a container with a narrow mouth (कळशी).

Add the peel of a potato, a pinch of soda. Put this container into a dabba with a lid that shuts tightly.

Fill the inner container with a lukewarm mix of milk and water upto it’s neck. (equal proportions – 1 cup each) Shut the dabba and leave it undisturbed for at least 10-12 hours in a warm place. (Preferably overnight).


At the end of this period, the mix will have fermented yielding a sour smelling frothy mix (as seen in the pic below).

An old PP housewive’s tale narrates how the starter making must be kept completely secret.

Legend has it that if your neighbours find out about your plans before the starter is successful, your bread is destined for disaster!


This is what your starter (wild yeast) with which you need to leaven your batter for the ‘Pav’ should look like at the end of the fermentation process.

Making the dough (batter)

Collect the fermented liquid and the froth on top in a large glass bowl. Discard the potato peels and chana dal. Ensure that not a single peel or grain of dal gets into your batter – I’ve been told that it can cause the resultant product to taste bitter – have never tried doing it, hence can’t vouch for this fact.


Into the fermented liquid (which should be approximately 2 cups), fold in 3 cups of refined flour (maida) and mix till you have a thick batter (slightly thicker than idli batter).

If you think you need a little more liquid to get the right consistency, add some lukewarm water to the chana dal and rinse off – use this to adjust the consistency of batter.

Add a teaspoon of honey, ½ a teaspoon of salt and a quarter cup of melted butter / ghee into the batter.


Cover this with a thick cloth / plastic sheet and let the batter rise till its at least  tripled in volume.


Pour this gently into the moulds which you will use to bake the ‘pav’. Let these moulds rest for a few minutes.

Bake the moulds in a preheated oven at 180 degrees for 20-25 minutes or till the tops turn a lovely golden colour.


Once they are a lovely golden colour, take the moulds out of the oven and brush the tops with some melted butter.

The resultant bread should be airy and resemble the texture of a moist light muffin.

Serve these with aamras  and if you think that’s too radical, have them with a hot cup of chai with some butter sprinkled with grain sugar or smeared with some jam.

कालवाची भजी। Oyster fritters.

  
कालवं is the local name for the indigenous oysters. They have a distinct flavour which is quite strong and if you don’t like them at first bite, it’s very rare you’ll ever get used to the taste.

They’re usually sold cleaned and de-shelled, but you have to careful wash them to get rid of any residual grit and shell bits.

Here’s my adaptation of a recipe shared by a friend. 

 
15-20 कालवं – Shelled and cleaned oysters (in a non stick pan, heat a few drops of oil, sauté a tsp of crushed garlic, some haldi, red chilli powder and salt on high heat and add the oysters. Cook for around 5-7 minutes till done.

3 medium onions

Handful of coriander leaves 

1 large green chilli

1 tsp Coriander powder

1 tsp Red chilli powder 

2/3 tbsp Besan

1 tbsp rice flour

  
 

Chop onions and add the masala powders. Add salt to taste and set aside till the moisture from the onions has leached.  

Add besan and rice flour and a tbsp or two of water – just enough to make a bhaji ya like batter.  
 

Add the chopped prepared oysters.

 
 

Let the batter rest for around 20 minutes. 

Fry in hot oil till crisp and golden. Serve with ketchup or chutney.
  

Kalamiryache Mutton – Black pepper flavoured mutton curry!

½ kg mutton, 
3 red onions chopped 

2 white onions – quartered

Ginger Garlic Paste – 2 tbsp

Pepper Powder – 1 and 1/2 tbsp

Potatoes – 2 quartered

Haldi

Coconut- ½ cup

Coriander and mint leaves to garnish
Pressure cook the mutton with haldi and ½ tbsp ginger garlic paste – set aside.

  
In the iron kadai (tazla) heat a tsp of oil and add a fistful of onions and sauté. Once browned, add coconut, toast till golden and grind to a fine paste.

  
In the same kadai, heat a tbsp oil and fry the potatoes (apply haldi and salt) till coloured. No need to cook these completely at this point. Set aside.

  
Now heat another tbsp of oil and add chopped red onions, quartered white onions (or whole peeled shallots) and sauté till translucent.

   
 Add ginger garlic paste and sauté till raw smell goes off.

Next add the ground masala paste, mutton with stock, potatoes and black pepper powder. Cook till the potatoes are done. Add salt and mix well.

  
Add the coriander and mint leaves – Mix and serve with pav.

  

Parbhi style Kaḍai Mutton – ताजल्यातलं सुक्कं मटण

  
For all those who think my Marathi sucks (refer to the Devnagri titles on many previous posts) the words, spellings and grammar are deliberate.

Pathare Prabhus speak a version of Marathi that’s slightly different compared to the shuddh bhaasha… So while the cast iron frying pan (kaḍai) I’ve used to cook up this dish is referred to as कढई in Marathi, parbhus will invariably refer to it as ताजलं (pronounced taazla)…

I love this version of mutton which is so simple to cook and with a little bit of patience, yields delicious results. Most families will have their own little twists to this traditional recipe. The inspiration for this post though is a recipe posted by another PP food expert – Kalpana Talpade on her YouTube channel.

Here’s my recipe –

Mutton on the bone – 750 gms (500 gms leg and 250 gms chops)… Trim off excess fat and cut into bite size pieces.

Onions – 100 gms (2 medium onions chopped fine)

Shallots – 500 gms (peel, top and tail)

Potatoes – 2/3 nos peel and cut lengthwise into 6/8 pieces

For the marinade

  1. Dahi – 1 cup
  2. Ginger Garlic Paste 2 tbsp
  3. Haldi – 1 tsp
  4. Red Chilli Powder – 1 and ½ tbsp
  5. Parbhi Sambhaar – 1 and ½ tbsp
  6. Pepper Powder – 1 tsp
  7. Cooking oil – 1 tsp

Ghee – 2 tsp

For garam masala tempering 

  1. Cloves – 2/3 nos 
  2. Peppercorns- 2/3 nos 
  3. Cinnamon/Cassia Bark – 1″ piece
  4. Whole green cardamoms – 2 nos
  5. Bay leaf – 1

Salt to taste and water as required

Marinate the cleaned mutton with the listed ingredients and leave in the refrigerator at least overnight – the longer the better. You won’t be adding any other masala and hence its important that the meat steeps in the marinade really well. 

 
Season an iron kadai – I rinse mine and oil the insides and leave it overnight. In the morning, heat till it smokes and wipe the insides with a tissue – your cast iron kadai is ready to use. 

 On a gentle flame, heat the ghee and splutter the whole garam masala.
  
Add the chopped onions and sauté till translucent. Add the peeled shallots and sauté for another minute or so.

  
Pressure cook the mutton for around 10 minutes or so with 2 cups of water. Add the parboiled mutton to the kadai and keep sautéing on a high flame till the mutton and onion are mixed well. 

Reserve the stock.

  
Cover with a heavy lid and place a weight on top. Keep the flame slow and add the stock a ladle or 2 at a time till the mutton is completely tender. Be careful of adding stock at regular intervals so that the mutton does not dry up nor sticks to the kadai. 

  
When it’s alsmost done, add the potatoes and replenish stock, cover and simmer till potatoes are done.

  
Once the potatoes are cooked and mutton is falling off the bone, remove the lid and dry up any residual liquid completely. 

The iron kadai and the slow cooked onions impart this dish a special taste.

Serve with rotis or parathas and a salad on the side. Perfect with a beer on a hot October Sunday!

   
 

Green Masala Kaleji

  

Green Masala Kaleji

I know a lot of folks that are queasy about offal! Carnivore that I am, I actually enjoy a lot of this spare part stuff.

Liver by far is my favourite offal. This recipe is my own and I try a variation each time. I’ve used chicken liver in this dish today.

Ingredients

Chicken Liver – 4 nos (around 200 gms)

Onion – 1 large (finely chopped)

Coriander leaves – 1 small bunch

Mint Leaves – 1 small bunch

Green chillies – 2/3

Ginger garlic paste – 1 tbsp

Coconut – 2 tbsp

Coriander seeds – 1 tsp

Juice of 1 nimbu

Oil – 3 tbsp 

Salt and sugar to taste

I find that soaking liver in half a cup of cool water and a tbsp milk for around 1/2 hour and then rinsing it out helps get rid of the strong metallic liver taste, which is unpleasant to many.

   

In a nonstick pan, heat a few drops of oil… Toast the coconut, coriander seeds and a tsp of chopped onion till brown. Cool and grind to a chutney and set aside.

  
Grind the coriander, mint and chillies to a paste using a little water.

Heat the balance oil in a thick bottomed pan, add chopped onions and sautē till pink and transparent.

Add ginger-garlic paste and sautē till the raw smell goes away

Add the coconut-onion masala and sautē for a minute. Add the green masala paste.

Now slide in the liver and a cup of water. Cover and simmer. (Ignore the chicken curry cooking alongside the liver)

 
Leave this on simmer and literally forget about it for at least 1 hour.
Season with salt, sugar (a pinch) and nimbu.

This needs to slow cook gently for a long time… The longer the better. Break into pieces as desired while cooking, mixing it once in a while as it cooks.

I simmered this for slightly over 1 hour to get a masala with a texture you can see in this pic!  

Serve hot with chapatis or rice!

शेव – दूध! Quintessential Parbhi style Pasta dessert!

The image below is an ancient kitchen tool called शेवारा… 

Parbhi style shev is somewhat like a South Indian Idiappam… 

This is served like a dessert… Accompanied with a dipping liquid  (sweetened coconut milk aka doodh or shire)!

The dish is prepared in many PP households at a Shravani Somvaar and is a part of the ceremonial meal held in the honour of a pregnant lady when she reaches her final trimester…

 

 Here goes the ultra simple recipe… Of course this is my version which is a contemporary adaptation of my mom’s age old recipe.
For the rice – vermicelli

Modakpithi (fragrant rice flour – basmati or ambemohar) – 1 cup

Water – 1 cup

Salt – 1/4 tsp

Sugar – 1/2 tsp

Ghee – 1 tbsp 

For the doodh

Coconut Milk / Cream  (fresh or out of a can) – 1 cup

Condensed Milk – 2 tbsp

Powdered Cashewnuts – 2 tbsp

Saffron – 1 healthy pinch

Cardamom and nutmeg (powdered) – a pinch each

Method

For the dipping liquid (doodh) – 

Whisk all the ingredients together till combined and simmer gently till it thickens slightly to a reduced milk like texture.

Set aside and cool completely.

For the shev – 

Bring the water to a boil with the salt, sugar and ghee.

  
Add the rice flour to the boiling water and quickly mix together.

  
Whisk this together quickly so that there are no lumpy bits left behind.

  
Cover this and cook on a low flame for a couple of minutes.

Once it cools slightly, knead well till it comes together to a smooth dough.

  
Divide into small portions and dip into boiling water for a 2-3 minutes… I’ve added a couple of turmeric leaves to the boiling water for that lovely aroma…

 
Drain out and set aside till they lose all excess moisture and steam…

  
All you gotta do next is mould these to vermicelli… The next few pictures depict how this is done using the ornate antiq shevara!

   
    
  
Serve this vermicelli warm with the flavoured coconut milk on the side./