Cracked Wheat Upma in Arisi Upma Style

Posted by Beyond Curries | Wednesday, September 30, 2009 | , , , , , | 3 comments »

As soon as we hear the word 'upma' rava (sooji/semolina) comes to our mind. That's one among the many types of upma one can prepare. Rice (arsi), Vermicelli (semiya), flattened rice (aval), Tapioca (sabudana/javvarisi) upmas are famous too. Arisi Upma is a traditional Tam-Bram (Tamil Brahmin) dish. To prepare this upma, a combination of raw rice, toor dal (thuvaram paruppu) and chana dal (kadalai paruppu) is powdered (usually in a flour mill) and will be kept in stock to use it as and when required. Growing up I was never a fan of this upma. In general upma always gets a back seat and especially this arisi upma was never my favorite.

My husband loves this upma and I too developed a liking for this dish gradually. To cook this upma right, the rice should have a certain texture which was difficult for me to get using an Indian mixer/grinder. That's when I decided to use cracked wheat in place of the rice. This not only saved me time and energy from powdering the rice but also is healthy and we like the taste very much. Now it has become a regular in my mother's house and mother-in-law's house too. Since we are not powdering chana daal, my mother-in-law gave this idea of soaking the chana dal and red chillies, grinding it and adding it to the cracked wheat. Traditionally the grated coconut and red chili is also added as it is, but I feel that grinding it with the chana dal spreads the flavor of coconut evenly. Hope you all enjoy this upma as we do.

Cracked Wheat Upma

Recipe: Cracked Wheat Upma (in Arisi Upma style)
Prep & Cooking Time: 35 mins
Recipe Level: Basic/Beginner
Serves: 2 people
Recipe/Post by: Madhuram

1 cup Cracked Wheat/Broken Wheat (not the very fine variety)
2 and 1/4 cups Water

For tempering:
2 teaspoons Oil (preferably Coconut Oil)
1/2 teaspoon Mustard Seeds
1 teaspoon Cumin
1/2 teaspoon Peppercorns (or coarsely powdered)
1 teaspoon Chana Dal
1 teaspoon Urad Dal
1 Green Chili, slit lengthwise
A pinch Hing
Salt as required
4-5 Curry Leaves (if you have in hand)
Ghee (optional)

For grinding:
1 tablespoon Chana Dal
1/4 cup Coconut, grated
1 Red Chili

Special Utensils:
A frying pan
Pressure Cooker

Ingredients for Cracked Wheat Upma

  1. Soak the chana dal and red chili with little water at least for 10 minutes. Boil the 2 and 1/4 cups of water in another vessel.
  2. In a small frying pan, add the 2 teaspoons of oil. Once it is hot add one by one the ingredients (except salt) given for tempering, fry it and switch off the stove.
  3. Grind the soaked dal and chili with the grated coconut to a paste.
  4. Take a vessel which will fit in a pressure cooker. In that vessel add the cracked wheat, boiling water, tempered ingredients, salt and the coconut paste and mix it with a spatula.
  5. Fill the pressure cooker with little water, put the trivet and place the vessel inside it and close the lid. Cover the vent with a small cup (to enable quick steaming). Once there is enough steam from the cooker's vent, place the weight. Leave it for 2 whistles.
  6. Open the cooker's lid once the pressure releases. Remove the vessel from the cooker and fluff the upma with a ladle. You will see that the upma will not be sticky and will look like pulav. You can add a teaspoon of ghee on top of the upma and mix it once. This gives a nice aroma to the upma.

Special Notes:
  • Use the coarser variety of cracked wheat for this upma so it will have a nice chewy texture. If using the very fine variety you can cook it straight away in a frying pan. No need to use a pressure cooker. Also 2 cups of water should be enough.
  • You can directly cook the upma in a pressure cooker, instead of placing it in a vessel. But I feel that sometimes there is a chance for the upma getting burnt and sticking to the cooker if you cook directly. So I prefer putting all the ingredients in a vessel and then placing it in a pressure cooker.
  • Cracked wheat and bulgur is being interchangeably used in many places, but they both are entirely different. Cracked wheat is what the name suggests, wheat berries are cracked into small pieces, so cooking is essential. Whereas for bulgur, wheat berries are cooked, sun dried and then coarsely powdered. Cooking is not necessary, just re-hydrating it in hot water is enough. So cracked wheat and broken wheat are the same but not bulgur.
  • We generally don't eat spicy/salty food, so please increase it according to your preference.

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Now that we have our Dabeli Masala or Dabeli spice blend ready, we will proceed to make one of the delicious and most loved street foods of India. As I said in previous post, Dabeli or Katchi Dabeli or Double Roti is a street food mostly originated in Kutchi/Gujarat and very popular street food sold in Mumbai/Bombay. This recipe comes straight from Raghavan Iyer’s 660 Curries, one of my most treasured cookbooks that has vast collection of rare and unique recipes from every part of India.

In Raghavan’s own words,
"Maharashtrian’s are very creative when it comes to combining multiple sources of carbohydrates in the same dish. This curry-in-a-bun is love at first bite-topped with luscious-red, juicy-tart pomegranate seeds. It’s really a cinch to make as a do-ahead dish. Just lay everything out in a bowls assembly-line style, in the same order as they go into the bun, and folks can help themselves by making their own. Those ho-hum taco parties will make a run for the border."

Don’t get scared looking at long list of ingredients because the recipe is simple and very straight forward. Along with spicy potato filling, I am also giving the recipes for 3 different chutneys that go into preparing this mouth watering street food. Please note that the original recipe calls for just Sweet & Sour Date-Tamarind Chutney and Green Mint-Coriander Chutney. But I also used Spicy Red Chutney because I like little note of spiciness that kicks in between sweet and sourness from other chutneys. So without delaying any further, shall we proceed and enjoy the delicious and very satisfying Dabeli?


Recipe: Dabeli (Spiced Potato & Pomegranate Sandwiches)
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 20 mins
Makes: 4-6
Recipe Level: Easy/Beginner
Spice Level: Medium to Hot
Recipe Source: 660 Curries
Recipe/Post by: Sia
For Potato Filling:
3 large Potatoes (Russet or Yukon Gold), peeled, boiled and mashed
1 small Onion, finely chopped (Optional)
1 tbsp Dabeli Masala
1 tsp Sugar Powder
½ tbsp Oil
Salt to taste

For the Sauces:
Recipe calls for just Sweet & Sour Date-Tamarind Chutney and Green Mint-Coriander Chutney but I also used Spicy Red Chutney.

For Sweet Tamarind-Date Chutney:
1 lemon sized Tamarind Pulp, soaked in water
6-8 Dates, pitted
½ tsp Red Chilli Powder
4-6 tbsp Jaggary (adjust acc to taste)
Salt to taste

For Green Mint Chutney:
1 packed cup Mint Leaves
½ packed cup Coriander Leaves
4-6 Green Chillies (adjust acc to taste)
1 tsp Jeera/Cumin Seeds
¼ tsp Tamarind Paste
Salt to taste

For Spicy Red Chutney:
10 Dry Red Chillies
2-3 Garlic flakes
1 small Tomato (Optional, it helps in grinding the chillies to smooth paste)
½ tsp Tamarind Paste
1 tsp Jeera/Cumin Seeds
Salt to taste

For Assembling the Sandwiches:
4-6 Ladi Pav/Burger Buns
Butter for Spreading
Seeds from 1 small juicy Pomegranate
½ cup Spicy Roasted Peanuts (I used plain ones)
1 small Red Onion, finely chopped
½ cup Sev (Gram flour noodles, deep fried. You will find them in any Asian stores)
1-2 tbsp Coriander Leaves, finely chopped

Special Utensils:
Sturdy Mixer Grinder


For Potato Filling:
  1. Combine mashed potatoes, dabeli masala, salt and sugar and mix well.
  2. Heat oil in a pan and add finely chopped onion if using (adding onion is optional but I remember having it in the dabeli potato filling back in my campus bakery). Sauté it on medium heat till onions turn golden, about 2-3 mins.
  3. Mix in spiced potato and cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are warmed and the spices are cooked, 5-6 mins. Keep this potato mixture aside.

For Sweet Tamarind-Date Chutney:
  1. Grind all ingredients listed under sweet tamarind-date chutney to very smooth paste adding very little water at time. This paste should be little thick not runny.

For Green Mint Chutney:
  1. Grind all the ingredients listed under green mint chutney to smooth paste adding very little water at time. Adjust the number of green chillies according to taste. I personally like little hot. Make sure that the chutney is not very watery.

For Spicy Red Chutney:
  1. Grind all the ingredients listed under spicy red chutney to very smooth paste adding very little water at time. If you find it difficult to grind, add small tomato (tip learnt from my favourite Chaatwalah).

To Assemble Dabeli:
  1. Heat a griddle or skillet over a medium heat. Slice the ladi-pav or sandwich buns in center and apply little butter on each side. Place this bun, buttered side down, on a skillet and cook until they are browned, about one minute. Remove the buns from griddle and keep aside.
  2. To make the sandwich, first spread a tsp each of date-tamarind sauce, mint-coriander chutney and spicy red chutney. You can adjust these chutneys depending on your taste.
  3. Next, place 1/6th of Spiced Potato. You can make a medium lime sized potato balls and pat it a bit and place it on the bun.
  4. Sprinkle a tbsp of juicy pomegranate seeds, followed by a tbsp of roasted peanuts, ½ tbsp finely chopped red onion and a tbsp of Sev.
  5. Garnish with finely chopped coriander leaves on top and then cover it with the other half of bun and serve them immediately.

Special Note/Tips:
  • It’s best to assemble this Dabeli just before serving.
  • I like the potato filling to be little warm but you can use cooled potato filling too.
  • Use of Red Spicy Chutney is optional.

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Pizzas for sale
Shrikant Prajapat with his son Harsh Prajapat selling pizzas at Ram Maruti Road, Thane (West)

A number of fresh small pizza bases, homemade chilli tomato sauce, butter, cheese and chopped vegetables in separate containers, a huge griddle and a portable stove is all that is needed to run a pizza stall.

Mumbai is dotted with wayside stalls any time of the day or night. Some open up late in the night and close during wee morning hours as the stall owner gets ready to don a new persona as a 9 to 5 worker. These 'on the go' vendors may not cater to the swish set of society but they have their own band of loyal followers. That is how 'Indo-Chinese' food came into existence. What is admirable is the way street food adapts itself to include 'world cuisine' in its already overflowing menu and present it in a very simple manner. The USP of Mumbai Street Food is very simple. The food must have the latest in food, from all over the world but should be adapted to the taste of the rustic as well as the educated class. Besides it should be dished out hot and colourful in a matter of minutes. I like that there are specialized chefs even amongst this class. You won't catch the pizza wallah selling sandwiches or vice-versa.

The pizza-wallah (the pizza-vendor) at Ram Maruti Road in Thane(West) combines all of the above to make the best petite pizzas I have ever had. He is clean and hygienic, quick at his job, and dishes out tasty and relatively healthy pizzas in a matter of minutes and my daughter is especially a huge fan of these divinities. On Sunday it just happened that we were hungry for something light and filling after a shopping spree, I had my camera with me, and there was enough light in the evening to take some really good pictures. All the favourable factors led to this post on the 'real thing'.

Follow the pictures for the recipe. This pizza is healthy as it has loads of healthy vegetables and is colourful enough to appeal to the pickiest child. I made this some years back when I had some children over for my daughter's birthday and it was mega hit! The spice factor is almost zero. You could substitute the sauce with a hotter variety if you would like some heat. The good thing about this filling snack is that you can prepare quite a bit before hand and just do the roasting bit when your young guests arrive.

Recipe: Petite pizzas or mini pizzas
Prep Time: 20 to 30minutes to shred the vegetables
Cooking Time: 15 to 20minutes
Makes: 6 nos.
Shelf Life: Serve immediately
Recipe Inspiration: Shrikant Prajapat - stall owner in Thane, Maharashtra.
Recipe Level: Basic/Beginner
Spice Level: Low
Recipe/Post by: Sunshinemom


2 cups tender shredded cabbage (or finely chopped)
2 tbsps. finely chopped capsicum
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1 green chilli chopped fine
2tbsp. ready made or home made hot tomato sauce or tabasco sauce
Cheddar or mozzarella cheese - 4-5 cubes (Even without these the taste is great)
1/2cup melted butter or olive oil

Special Utensils:
Heavy griddle/tawa


Sprinkle very little salt into the vegetables and mix up lightly before you start. Keep the vegetables in separate bowls.

STEP 1 - Line up small pizza bases topped with a thin layer of tomato chilli sauce/tobasco sauce followed by generous amounts of finely chopped cabbage, some capsicum and a tbsp. of shredded carrots on a plate or the sides of a heated and greased griddle if you have a large one like the vendor.

Pizzas for sale

STEP - 2 - Pour a tsp. of melted butter in the center of the hot griddle and place one pizza over it to cook.

Pizzas for sale

STEP - 3 - Let it cook in the butter (or olive oil if you please) on medium flame for about a minute till the base turns crisp and brown.

Pizzas for sale

STEP - 4 - Turn over and press well letting the vegetables cook in the butter

Pizzas for sale

See how Shrikant does it! He wants the juices to ooze and the top layer of vegetables to turn crisp.

Pizzas for sale

STEP - 5 - Flip and scoop the pizza onto a plate. Scoop the remaining vegetables too.

Pizzas for sale

STEP - 6 - Now quarter the pizza

Pizzas for sale

STEP - 7 - Grate a whole cube of cheese over it and serve immediately topped with sauce - I have it one step earlier before he grates the cheese and it tastes great just the same!

Pizzas for sale

Serve really hot and watch them disappear!

This makes a great short break or long break idea for packed lunch box to school. It also serves as a quick lunch or dinner and a filling breakfast if you have a long day ahead.

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Either with tiffen or with rice and ghee, this powder goes well. You can use this like our idli podi also. The black urad dhal (with the skin) gives nice aroma. Dry coconut add taste to it. Simple but tasty one.

Recipe: Black Urad Dhal Powder
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Yields: one 500 gm jar
Serves: Depends on usage
Recipe/Post by: Viji

1 small cup black urad dhal (whole)
1 medium sized kopra or fully riped coconut
10-15 red chili
2 pea size asafoetida
Salt to taste

2 tsp oil

Special Utensils:
Skillet, Mixer

  1. Fry the asafoetida in oil.
  2. Roast the urad dhal and red chili till crisp.
  3. Roast the coconut pieces till golden brown.
  4. Add salt and grind it in mixer. Healthy but tasty one.

I made podi dosa with this. Though you can make dosas with our normal idli/dosa batter, this one is spongy and tasty.

Recipe: Podi Dosa (Spicy Black Urad Dal powder on Rice Crepes)
Prep Time: 20 mintues (Fermentation over night)
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Yields: 10 mini dosas
Recipe/Post by: Viji

1 cup raw rice
1/3 cup puzunkal rice/parboiled rice
¼ cup urad dhal
Salt to taste

Special Utensils:
Grinder, Skillet

  1. Wash and soak everything together. Grind it together to nice paste.
  2. Add salt and ferment over night.
  3. Next day make medium sized thick dosas and sprinkle the podi on top of it.
  4. Drizzle oil and cook on medium heat till done.

Special Notes/Tips:
  • I used to cover them with a lid for a while. No need to turn and cook like our regular dosas. They are spongy and tasty on their own. Serve hot.

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Adai is yet another traditional Tam-Bram (Tamil Brahmin) recipe. It belongs to the dosai (dosa) family but the beauty is, unlike dosai the adai batter does not require fermentation. Adais can be prepared immediately after grinding the batter. The usual combination for adai is part raw rice, part par boiled rice, channa dal, toor dal and some red chillies for heat. One can mix and match various lentils and legumes and can create different types of adai. Sky is the limit.

These days I rarely use white rice for most of my tiffins (and cooking in general). So this continues with adais too. Instead of soaking rice, I use cracked wheat. I have also used corn grits (it's available in US) and also use brown rice while preparing adais. You can also use the 16 beans soup mix instead of the usual Indian lentils. Make sure that you soak it overnight. Now for the simple and healthy adai recipe using cracked wheat.

Cracked Wheat Adai

Recipe: Cracked Wheat Adai (Savory Cracked Wheat and Lentil Crepes)
Prep Time: 3-4 hours soaking plus 10 minutes for grinding
Cooking Time: 3-4 minutes for each adai.
Serves: 4-5 people
Shelf Life: Best if used on the same day or store the batter in the refrigerator and use it by the next day
Recipe Level: Basic/Beginner/Easy
Spice Level: Adjust according to taste
Recipe/Post by: Madhuram

1 cup Cracked Wheat
1/2 cup Channa Dal
1/2 cup Toor Dal
1 tablespoon Urad Dal
2 Red Chilies
1 Green Chili
1/4 to 1/2 cup Grated Coconut
1/2 tablespoon Ginger, grated
1/2-3/4 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Asafoetida (Hing)
Few curry leaves
1/4 cup Cilantro, finely chopped

Special Utensils:
A mixer/wet grinder

For the adai batter:
  1. Soak cracked wheat separately with water at least 1 cm above the cracked wheat. In another bowl soak together the dals and chillies. Soak everything for at least 3 hours.
  2. Whether using an Indian mixie or grinder, first take a small portion of the dals along with the chilies and grind it first to a smooth paste adding water as required. This is done to ensure that the chilies are ground properly otherwise it would remain coarse and the spice level will not be even.
  3. Once this is done, drain and add the rest of the dals and grind it to the texture of sooji/semolina. Add water as needed so that the motor does not get stuck and also the batter does not become very watery. The soaked dals grind very quickly so keep a close watch. Then drain the cracked wheat and add it to the lentil mixture along with the grated coconut and grind it for another 3-4 minutes.
  4. The batter should not be very smooth and not too coarse either. If it is very smooth, the adai's texture will not be desirable and if it's very coarse, it will take lot of time and oil for the adais to cook. We don't want either, right? So it has to be in between.
  5. Transfer the batter to a mixing bowl/vessel. Add salt, grated ginger, hing, curry leaves and coriander leaves if using. Mix together with a ladle and check for seasoning. Add more salt or red chili powder to suit your taste.

For the adais:
  1. Heat a tawa/griddle on medium-high heat. Rub the surface of the tawa with some oil and a piece of stale bread/onion to ensure that the adai can be removed without sticking to the pan. Sprinkle some water to see if it's hot enough. You should hear a sizzle.
  2. Now take the batter with a ladle and pour it in the middle of the hot tava. (Note: If you think the tawa is too hot and you can see a lot of smoke then reduce the heat, other wise the adais will blacken quickly without being cooked properly). Spread it into a small circle using the back of the ladle. It can be as thick as you want or as thin as you want. The thinner the adai the quicker it cooks.
  3. Use non stick cooking oil spray and spray it over the adais or use a 1/2 teaspoon oil to drizzle along the circumference of the adai. Cook it for about 2 minutes or until the batter is cooked. Flip it the other side and cook it for another 1-2 minutes. Keep it on the tawa for extra 1-2 minutes on both the sides if you want crispy adais.

Serving Suggestion:
  • Dab little ghee on the hot adais and serve it with jaggery, aviyal (a vegetable stew made with yogurt gravy) or morkuzhambu (quite similar to aviyal but made with buttermilk).

Special Notes/Tips:
  • Traditionally adais are thick with a coarse batter. Four to five holes are made with a spatula once the batter is poured on the tawa and oil is added to each hole to ensure thorough cooking and to get the desired amount of crispness. I still remember how my grandmother used to prepare adais. You can't eat more than one. It used to be thick with some whole chana dal here and there, greasy but very tasty. But these days everybody is health conscious and with the advantage of non-stick pans we need not use so much oil. Also making the batter less coarse enables quick cooking.
  • The more the oil and coconut the more tasty the adais get. So if you are very health conscious you can omit both. Instead of adding coconut you could add finely chopped onions, fried in a little oil to the batter. This gives a different taste. This version is my absolute favorite. If you want to avoid oil, you can steam the adais. Pour the batter and spread it as usual and cover it with a lid and leave it for 2 minutes and flip it. Closing it with a lid again is not necessary.
  • I use the Indian wet grinder to prepare batter for idli/dosai/adai. So I usually soak for adais when I soak for idli/dosai. After grinding for idli and transferring the batter to a bowl, I immediately grind for adai. I feel that this method consumes less time and power. Otherwise if you do it on 2 separate days, you have to spend more time, clean the grinder twice. Moreover 2-3 days tiffin is taken care of on the same day. I usually soak for both mid morning and grind it in the evening. So adai for that day's dinner and idli/dosai for the next two days.
  • You can use an Indian mixie or a food processor too to grind the batter.

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Kothu Parotta has been on my mind for ages. Must be really years. Seriously, have you ever been in a situation where you wanted to taste something and when you do, you simply fall in love with it! You get so depressed for the many years spent without tasting it. This happened to me. This is the ultimate street food you can get in this parts of the world! If you are familiar with the gastronomical indulgence of the people hailing from Tamil Nadu, then this is their ultimate choice for fast food or street food, as you may call it! I have always had a great passion for Parotta. When you walk on our streets, more in particular, the market places, you can for sure,see many such Parotta wala on the push carts. The aroma that sniffs pasts, pulls your heart strings to core.

I have always longed to eat in such places. But the puritanical attitude, which rears its ugly head at times, never allows it. I am not a puritan par se. But a woman is allowed to have her contradictory attitudes right! On top, Dad never allowed us to eat anything from the street or road side shop for hygienic reasons. I have never eaten from any such shops. Can you believe, we went to Bombay, Calcutta, but never eat anything off the street! All those yummy chats and masalas. They did tug me to no end. But then Dad's rule or not, even when I traveled without him, I can't get myself eat in those places. Though one part of me, always longed I wasn't so prudish!

Now all said and done, it isn't I never enjoyed Kothu parotta. My colleagues used to order this from Saravana Bhavan. Saravana Bhavan is really conjus, they give a very small box with an overly charged price! Still this colleague ordered Kottu parotta for lunch, almost every day. And most times when we sat for lunch together, I used to share mine. Though not sure how authentic, it sure was yummy! But then what is authentic when it comes fast food. Though Amma and I used to experiment and generally cook lot of new dishes, this was something we never attempted.

During my blog hopping, almost a year back, I came across Spicyana's recipe. I loved her bowl but again never found time, until I was forced to make it! I ended adapting from her recipe and creating my own way, which the kids simply loved.

Kothu Parotta

Recipe: Kothu Parotta ~ Curried Indian Bread
Pre-required - 6 Ready made Parottas
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4-5 persons
Shelf Life: Strictly to be served from pan to plate
Recipe Inspiration/Source: Spicyana
Recipe Level: Beginner/Easy
Spice Level: Can be adjusted according to taste
Recipe/Post by: Srivalli


Shredded Parotta - 6 nos ( I used only All purpose flour for making the parotta)
Onions - 2 medium
Ginger Garlic paste
Green chillies - 1-2, Slit and chopped to half
Capsicum - quarter of a medium size one
Spring Onions - half of a bunch
Tomato sauce - 1/2 cup
Salt to taste
Oil - 2 tsp
Coriander to garnish


Make the Parottas before you start with this. Actually this came into picture to use the day old parottas. But I think the fresh one will be best for kids.

Cut Onions into squares or big chucks. I don't like to chew on big capsicum pieces, so chopped them fine.

Trim the Spring onions and use the onions for sauteing. Tear the parottas randomly. I don't think same size will have that effect!

Heat a pan with oil. Add the onions, fry well. Once they turn pinkish, add the ginger garlic paste. Fry well. Then add the capsicum and cover for 2 mins in sim. Once they are soft, add the white onions from the spring onions. Stir well.

Now add the green chillies, salt and the green part of the spring onions. Once they sizzle well, add half of the tomato sauce.

Then goes the parotta pieces. cook on high flame for 2 mins. Then add the remaining tomato sauce so that its gets coated well.

Add rest of the garnish and cover for 2 more mins. Check the parotta softness and add more tomato sauce if required.

Serve hot!

Special Notes/Tips:

  • Instead of using only all purpose flour, you can include atta if you are making the parotta yourself.
  • Though the original recipes uses Crepes, I made parotta
  • Didn't use whole garlic and ginger. Instead used a ginger garlic paste as it was stocked.
  • Omitted Soy Sauce and Celery.
  • Added more Green chillies to suit our taste!

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Pav bhaji is yet another famous street food from Mumbai. Though this dish is omnipresent in other parts of India as well, Mumbai and Pune are the most famous spots to relish this concoction of many vegetables, a heavenly combination of potato based curry, combined with vegetables like cauliflower, peas, capsicum, onions, tomatoes with liberal use of flavor enhancers like Garam masala and Pav bhaji masala (powders) and sinful butter. A morsel of this spicy tangy curry with soft buns (called Pao in local language), with some crunchy diced onions, and dash of freshly squeezed lemon juice, is such a bliss.

Making a restaurant like pav bhaji had been a long journey for me. I started on a fumbling note, with the texture and flavors never coming out right. Googling out many websites for a perfect recipe, subtracting /adding/adjusting many ingredients, I was able to churn out a good one, but definitely not the best one.

Finally a visit to Nupur's One Hot stove and I had a gut feeling that I was about to scream Eureka! For the first time I tried pav bahji without onions and I almost danced with joy, in my kitchen, which was smelling like a pav bhaji corner of a restaurant. Agreed that the colour was not bright red (as I completely avoid red chillies) but taste...hmmm.. we licked the pan clean...literally!

Since then I almost stick to her recipe every time I make pav bhaji (and in that case my close family and friends too, with whom I obviously shared the recipe). In due course of time, I started using very small amount of onions , since browned onions give better colour to pav bhaji, than no onions. You can go ahead and add some red/orange food colour. I do not like adding artificial food colours in my everyday food.

In restaurants, pav bhaji is made on huge iron griddle, mashing all the boiled vegetables and tomato puree, along with spices, in generous amount of butter. But at home the same can be made using a fry pan or even Kadhai.

mumbai pavbhaji,pavbhaji,potatobased curry,Mumbai Street food

Recipe: Pavbahji (A mixed vegetable semi dry curry, served with soft buns)
Prep Time: 30 minutes including boiling of vegetables
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Serves: Three hungry adults
Shelf Life:Best eaten fresh straight from the griddle or pan, but could be refrigerated for a day
Recipe Inspiration/Source: Onehotstove
Recipe Level: Easy or Medium
Spice Level: Medium
Recipe/Post by: Alka

  • 1 very small onion, diced (original recipe does not require this)
  • 400 gms cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 green bell pepper, minced
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder or red chili paste(I skipped this and used 3-4 green chillies instead)
  • 1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
  • Salt to taste
  • 2-3 cups tomato puree (I used 4 ripe tomatoes, blanched and pureed)
  • 1/2 cup peas (fresh or frozen)...optional
  • 1 tbsp Everest pav-bhaji masala (or more to taste)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 tsp Garam masala powder (Again this is my addition to the original recipe and I used Everest brand)
Special Utensils:
  • Pressure cooker to boil vegetables
  • Potato Masher



  1. Pick the cauliflower with tender stalks and simmer for few minutes in hot water containing some salt. This is to get rid of tiny insects if any.Let the florets sit in hot water for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, peel and chop potatoes, shell fresh green peas(or you can use frozen ones).I also use few leaves of cabbage, just to add some volume, without compromising on taste.
  3. Boil the above vegetables in pressure cooker for 4-5 whistles.
  4. Meanwhile chop onions finely, blanch and puree tomatoes, if using green chillies, grind those along with tomatoes.
  5. Heat oil in a fry pan or Kadahi and saute the onions till brown in colour. Do not caramelize these or the taste will be lost. Add diced capsicum(bell pepper), and cook for few seconds without letting peppers turn dark.
  6. Add ginger-garlic paste and saute some more.
  7. Add turmeric powder, chili powder (less if using green chilies and more if not) and salt to taste. Saute for a few seconds.
  8. Add tomato puree, peas(if using frozen,do not boil these), boiled potatoes and cauliflower(and peas if using fresh peas), pav-bhaji masala and butter.
  9. Keep mashing the whole mixture with potato masher, on low flame. If kept on high flame, the mixture splutters, resulting scalded arms :-(
  10. You can add about half cup of water(I use the water in which vegetables were boiled), more or less, to make it a semi dry curry.
  11. Adjust the seasoning and let it simmer for few minutes.
  12. Garnish with chopped onions, a dash of lemon and a blob of butter(ok ..ok...skip this if you are watching calories).
  13. Serve piping hot, straight from the stove on to the plate,wiping it clean with some buttered(again?? please !) soft buns, slightly roasted on griddle.

Special Notes/Tips:
  • You can add other vegetables like carrot, beans etc, but they do take away that tangy flavor .
  • Weight watchers can skip butter on pav and as garnish, but do add some while cooking pav bhaji, it really makes the difference.
  • Ideally the pan is smeared with some butter and pav bhaji and pav are then coated with this mixture on pan, roasting it slightly.But you can simply roast it on griddle,without any butter, till slightly crisp.
  • Again in restaurants, the onion provided with pav bhaji is not pungent in taste and also pinkish in colour.For that, simply chop the onions finely and mix about 1 spoon of grated raw beetroot.That takes care of both, taste and colour of onions.

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State specific cuisine is a unique feature of India. It is quite common to find that the food item undergoes a few regional transitions and becomes a new item with modified tastes as it moves into another state. One such item is 'bonda'. Down South - Tamilnadu, Andhra and Karnataka - bonda is made with typical South Indian tempering using mustard, black gram dal, chana dal and curry leaves. As it travels to Maharashtra bonda gets transformed into 'vada'. Vada is seasoned with garlic and chillies and does away with the other seasonings. Bondas are available through out India on way side stalls as they sell like hot cakes, especially during rainy days. I prefer making mine at home.

Today's 'bonda' is a specialty from Tamil Nadu. I have never heard it mentioned without its twin, hence today I am bringing you the twin delights 'bonda and bajji':). I must caution you that these fritters are tasty and will tantalize you into having 'one too many', but it is best enjoyed in small numbers with a hot cuppa!

It is a difficult to cook snacks like these with exact measurements as there are many factors that decide the amount of water added, such as the quality of flour used. I have tried to stick to specific weights to make it easier for a novice cook to get the right consistency. Please add water in small portions rather than 'all at once' as the batter tends to absorb more oil if watery.

Recipe: Urulai Bonda (Deep fried potato balls Stuffed in Chickpea flour)
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 5-7 persons
Shelf Life: Strictly to be served from pan to plate
Recipe Level: Beginner/Easy
Spice Level: Can be adjusted according to taste
Recipe/Post by: Sunshinemom

For the batter:
1 cup - besan / chickpea flour
1 tbsp. - rice flour or cornflour
Salt to taste
1tsp. - Hot oil
1/4 tsp. - red chilli powder
1/8 tsp. - turmeric powder

For Tempering:
0.5 teaspoon sesame oil (Any mild oil)
1/4 teaspoon rai / Mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon Urad Dal / black gram dal
1/4 teaspoon Channa Dal / Bengal gram
1 sprig curry leaf
2 Green Chillies, chopped fine
1/2" ginger, chopped fine
a pinch of asafoetida (hing)

For the Filling:
5 medium sized boiled, peeled potatoes
1/8tsp. pinch of turmeric powder
Chilli powder to taste
Juice from half a lime
Salt to taste

  1. Combine the ingredients for the batter together with a whisk till smooth with about 1/2 cup of water. The consistency should be thicker than 'crepe' batter but thinner than 'pancake' batter. Add salt to taste and set aside.
  2. Peel and mash the potatoes coarsely keeping a few chunks. Add the rest of the ingredients. Set aside.
  3. Next heat a wok. Add oil as required to temper, from the second set of ingredients for tempering. Start with the mustard seeds, when they pop add the other ingredients in order given. Saute till the dals change colour. Then add the slit chillies, curry leaves.
  4. Pour the tempering into the filling that was prepared at step 2. Squeeze half the lime without pits. Mix with a spoon to blend the juice and tempering uniformly.
  5. Make inch sized balls out of the filling. You should be able to form 18-20 such balls.
  6. Heat oil for deep frying to moderate heat. To test whether it is ready for frying slip a few drops of the batter. If it sizzles and comes up immediately the oil is ready.
  7. Now dip one potato ball into the batter. Coat it all over with the batter, remove and slide into hot oil. Stir to fry on all sides and remove when evenly done. (Dark yellow to light brown in colour).
  8. You can fry three or four at a time. Frying takes about 2 minutes per batch. If the oil becomes too hot, turn it low.
  9. Serve hot with mint or coconut chutney.

Recipe: Potato fritters or Urulai Bajji
Prep Time:10
Serves:1 or 2 persons
Shelf Life: Strictly to be served from pan to plate
Recipe Level: Beginner/Easy
Spice Level: Can be adjusted according to taste
Recipe/Post by: Sunshinemom

For the batter:
Same as above.
Potato - 1 medium sized potatoes sliced into thin ovals.


  1. Combine the ingredients for the batter together with a whisk till smooth with about 1/2 cup of water. The consistency should be thicker than a 'crepe' batter but thinner than a 'pancake' batter. Add salt to taste and set aside.
  2. Dip the slices one by one into the batter and fry as before. You will be able to fry several at a time. Take care to toss soon as it tends to brown fast.
  3. Serve hot with chutney, garlic powder or sauce.

Special Notes/Tips:
  • If the batters turns lumpy just give it a turn in the mixer before going ahead. A lumpy batter can be a pain!
  • You may substitute potatoes with sliced onions (ringlets), raw bananas, chow chow, bread , cheese or paneer.

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Dabeli Masala

Posted by Sia | Thursday, September 03, 2009 | , , | 4 comments »

Dabeli or Katchi Dabeli or Double Roti is a street food mostly originated in Kutchi/Gujarat and very popular street food sold in Mumbai/Bombay. In my engineering days I survived eating these Dabeli for my lunch and sometimes for dinner from our campus Bakery. It is also known as Kutchi Dabeli or Double Roti and uses a special spice blend called Dabeli Masala.

Today I am going to post the recipe for preparing spice powder or masala which is the key ingredient in making Dabeli stuffing. This recipe for Dabeli Masala or spice powder is from Raghavan Iyer’s 660 Curries. Once you have prepared this spice blend you are ready to assemble delicious Dabeli (recipe to follow shortly) in jiffy. So shall we proceed and make this aromatic spice blend that takes just few mins of your precious time?

Spices for Dabeli Masala

Recipe: Dabeli Masala (Spice blend for Dabeli, a street food from Kutch, Gujarat)
Prep Time: 5 min
Cooking Time: None
Makes: Around 2 tbsp (sufficient for 5-6 Dabelis)
Shelf Life: 1-2 months
Spice Level: Medium
Recipe Level: Easy/Beginner
Recipe Source: 660 Curries
Recipe by: Sia
1 tsp Whole Cloves (about 4-5)
½ tsp Fennel Seeds
½ tsp Black Peppers
½ tsp Coriander Seeds
4 dried Red Chilies (Thai or Cayenne), stems removed
4 blades of Mace or ¼ tsp Ground Mace
2-3 Whole Star Anise
1-2 Dried Bay Leaves
Seeds from 1-2 Black Cardamom Pods
½ tsp Ground Ginger
Pinch of Turmeric Powder

  1. There is no roasting of spices involved in making this aromatic Dabeli Masala. All you have to do is place all the ingredients in a spice blender or coffee grinder and grind to fine powder.
  2. Store it in an air tight container till needed. It will last for 2 months when stored in fridge.

Special Notes/Tips:
  • Most of the ingredients listed above are easily available in any Asian stores.
  • If you can’t find any one or two ingredients, then simply omit them and proceed to make the spice blend.

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