Monday, August 1, 2011

Poori & Bhaaji

This one's for my mom :)

Having to get two kids and a husband (with a good breakfast in their tummy and a tasty lunch packed for each) out of the door by 7 AM everyday for 15 years is no joke. That's why weekends were special when she took out extra time to make special treats like poori & bhaaji for us. To this day, when we're travelling and eat breakfast outside...I always order poori-bhaaji. Or poori-masal like the say in Tamil Nadu. So this recipe is for those typical family-weekends when I used to wake up to the smell of mom and dad making poori & bhaaji. Oh, how I miss home!

Potatoes - 8 or 10 medium sized
Onion - 2 medium sized
Tomatoes - 2 or 3 medium sized, based on tanginess ( I use hot house tomatoes usually)
Ginger - 3 inch piece
Green chillies - 4 to 6 spicy hot
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Dhaniya powder - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Urad dal - 2 tsp
Chana dal - 2 tsp
Oil - 3 to 4 tbsp
Salt to taste
Lemon juice - 1 tsp
Coriander leaves (finely chopped) - 1 tbsp

1. Boil potatoes in the cooker for at least 2 whistles. Cool, peel and mash well until it is smooth with few or very little lumps. Add salt to taste and mix well.
2. Chop the onions and tomatoes into small pieces. Cut the ginger into thin strips. Slit the green chillies.
3. Add 3 tbsp oil in a thick bottomed vessel and splutter the mustard seeds in it. Add the ginger and green chillies. Do NOT brown them. Mix for 30 seconds and immediately add the onions. This recipe does not require the ginger to be browned. The ginger has to retain some of its natural flavor to blend into the potatoes.
4. Fry the onions until they are transparent and very lightly browned around the edges. Now add the tomatoes and fry for 5 minutes. Again, you don't have to fry it until the oil separates. The nice thing about this recipe is not to fry or brown everything. The tomatoes also need to be a little tangy to give the potatoes that nice, unique taste.
5. Add all the masalas and mix for a minute. Make sure you don't burn the curry at this point.
6. Add 1/2 a cup of water and salt as needed. Taste to make sure the seasoning is right. The water is optional and it helps to mix the curry and the potatoes together. Otherwise it may be difficult to fold the potatoes into the curry. Switch off the stove.
7. Now add the mashed potatoes and mix well until it is well blended with the curry. At this stage you can add more water if needed. Taste to make sure the salt is right. Remember, we also added salt to the potatoes separately when we mashed them.
8. Let it cool for sometime. All the flavors would blend in well during this stage and it is important for the bhaaji to cool before adding the final seasoning.
9. Take the remaining 1 tbsp oil in a pan or small kadai. Fry the urad dal and chana dal in it without burning them. The trick here is not to wait until the oil is smoking hot. Just wait for a minute to heat the oil and immediately add the dal and let it slowly fry. Slow is good in this step. If you fry the dal in the initial step, it will not retain its fried, crispy, crunchy taste. That's why I like to fry it separately.
10. Now top the bhaaji with the dal fry tadka and mix well. Just before serving, add the lemon juice and top it with some freshly cut coriander leaves (optional).

Whole wheat flour (atta) 2 cups
Coarse grained semolina (rava) - 2 tbsp
Sugar - 1 tbsp
Water as needed
Oil, for deep frying

1. Sift the flour and semolina along with the sugar in a sieve. Sifting just helps to mix it all well. The semolina and sugar helps to keep the pooris puff-up and remain so for slightly longer than when using just plain flour.
2. Add water as needed little-by-little and knead until the dough is firm. It should not be sticky.
3. Divide the dough into lemon sized balls, dust in dry flour and set aside.
4. Heat the oil in a deep kadai until just before smoking hot.
5. Using a rolling pin and more dry flour as needed, roll out the balls into round thick pancakes. It has to be thick otherwise it will not puff up. Don't roll them out as thin as phulkas or chappatis.
6. Test whether the oil is hot enough with a small pinch of the dough. It should rise up immediately and not stick to the bottom or struggle to rise up.
7. Slowly slide in one pancake and press-down slightly into the oil with a slotted spoon until the pancake puffs up. Flip over and fry for 30 seconds. Flip over again and fry for 10 seconds.
8. Drain excess oil and remove using the slotted spoon onto a plate with paper towels. Repeat step 7 for each pancake. Serve immediately while hot and puffy with the bhaaji.

Mommy dearest :)

I do not want to end on the same lame line as the previous ones...but seriously, pics to follow soon once I get back home! 10 more days...yay!

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