Ambode/Kadle beLe vade

Ambode(deep-fried chana dal patties) is a quintessential accompaniment in a traditional iyengar meal for any rice dishes like puLiyogre, mango rice etc.I had been planning to make it for a long time but the thought of deep-frying, had been putting me off ūüėČ With an Ugadi potluck planned, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to make this, ¬†with step by step instructions from mom who makes the best ambode!

As with any Indian dish, this can be made with a lot of variations. I personally like to make it with mint. You can also use cilantro, dill (sappsige soppu) if you like the strong aroma, onions can be added( being a tam-brahm, I consider it a sacrilege to add onions to this dish :D). The trick to making crispy ambode is to not let the chana dal  soak longer, one hour of soak time makes the crispiest ambode!


Ingredients : Serves 8-10

3 cups chana dal. (Soak for an hour)

5-6 red chilies ( Use half bydagi and half guntur)

1 packed cup mint leaves, washed and chopped finely.

1 pinch hing

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

2 table spoons shredded fresh coconut

2 table spoons dry coconut (koppari)

Salt to taste

1 tablespoon ghee (optional but recommended)

3/4 – 1 liter oil for frying

In a blender, finely powder the chilies, fresh and dry coconut. Add turmeric, salt and hing. Next drain the chana dal completely using a sieve and transfer it to the blender. Using the pulse option of the blender, pulse the mixture until the chana dal is coarsely ground. Be sure to not grind to a paste, coarse ground dough adds to the crispiness.

Transfer the contents to a mixing bowl and then add the chopped mint leaves, and ghee. Mix thoroughly.

Make lime size balls out of the dough and keep aside.

When the oil in the frying pan is hot and the stove is on medium heat, take the lime size ball of dough and flatten it out into a patty, ¬†making sure the patty is 1/4″ in thickness. Add about 5-6 patties at a time and fry on both sides till golden brown. ¬†Do not fry them on high heat, this makes the outside get brown while the dough on the inside remains under-cooked.

Serve with a full course of tam-brahm meal ;). It also pairs well with ketchup or mint chutney.

Carrot Ginger Soup

What do you do when your stomach is rumbling and it is not quite dinner time yet and you want to eat something healthy? Make soup of course! Tired of heating store-bought organic soups, I decided to make this easy soup as a healthy snack. This one I learnt from sis and has become a favorite in my family.

Ingredients : Serves 2

Carrots : 3-4 medium-sized.

1 teaspoon grated ginger

1 clove of garlic

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind

2 sprigs of mint

1 cup of milk or vegetable stock

Salt and Pepper for seasoning

For a fast and easy method, cut the carrots into 1/2 inch pieces and pressure cook them. Once cool, transfer to a blender, add the garlic, 1 spring of mint, ginger, lemon rind and milk. Grind to a smooth paste. Transfer the contents to a vessel and heat the soup till it starts bubbling. Add salt and pepper to taste. For added flavor, you can add a blob of butter to the soup or you can use creme fraiche as garnish just before serving. I added a bit of grated parmesan on top!

Alternately, you can saute some onions and carrots and let this boil in the stock and then blend it with the rest of the ingredients. But I like it quick and easy so I skipped this step.

Fruit Chaat

There are very few recipes that make zesty appetizers as well as delightful desserts and this is one such simple and healthy one. With low glycemic index fruits, pro digestive ingredients such as cumin, mint and healthy nuts to add some crunch, one couldn’t ask for more.
This is a recipe that my friends and I used to love eating from a humble little shop on a rundown street near our medical college in the hot days of summer. The original version only had freshly diced fruits with a dash of salt and pepper on it, but nonetheless tickled our taste buds!! I have tried to improvise it with some more fresh ingredients,usually available at most of our homes all the time.
Fruits, any of your choice…to keep it colorful and juicy, I used red grapes, chunks of pineapple, watermelon, banana, green apple, orange. You can also add papaya, kiwi fruit, peaches etc…
Dressing :
Fresh mint leaves- handful
Fresh ginger 1″ grated
Fresh lemon 1/2
Fresh ground pepper 1/2 tsp
Fresh cumin powder 1/2 tsp
Black salt powder or chaat masala 1 tsp
Orange juice 1/2 cup, about 4 oz
Toss these ingredients into a small blender/food processor and grind them into a paste by adding a little bit of orange juice ( instead of water) each time, until you reach a dripping consistency. If you want to do it the traditional mortar-pestel way, that works great too.
Drizzle the dressing over the cut fruits evenly and gently toss them so all fruits are well coated with the dressing. Refrigerate immediately for about an hour. For added crunchy nutty taste and texture, garnish with walnuts and roasted salted almonds!
Makes a great starter or the perfect end to a delicious meal.
Tip: You can sprinkle the chaat masala and black salt right before you serve so the fruits don’t lose all their juicy water content to the excess salt.

Chaat time!!

What happens when two sisters crave for chat like how they make it back home?! One ends up eating a healthy chaat snack and the other,  good old guilty treat !

Here are two recipes from us tomato chaat and pani puri!

Tomato chaat by Roopa:

When you are super hungry after work and don’t know what to do with the one tomato, half onion in the refrigerator, here’s one quick healthy recipe to try. I can almost promise you, this one is about 200 calories…and very yummy! This is typical Bengaluru street food which my sister and I crave! Any time is chaat time for us!!
1 tomato
1/2 onion
1/2 cucumber
Roasted Dahlia
Chaat masala, Jeera powder, dhania powder, red chilli powder, salt to taste
Tamarind date chutney
Fresh grated raw green mango
Fresh chopped cilantro
Cut the tomatoes into round slices. Chop the onions and cucumbers into small pieces. Arrange the tomatoes in a circle on a plate. Spread small amounts of cucumbers and onions over the tomatoes. Sprinkle all the powders and salt  so they are evenly distributed over the tomatoes. Then add the roasted dahlias for the nutty taste. Of course you can use, peanuts or puffed rice with Sev. I try to keep it low in calories, so no peanuts or rice for me.
Finally, garnish with tamarind date chutney, cilantro and grated fresh green mango.
You can also choose to garnish with some yogurt.
Pani Puri by Swathi
Ingredients:  Serves 2
1 pack store-bought puris
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
For the pani :
2-3 green chillies
1 cup cilantro
1 cup mint leaves
4-5 dates
1 tablespoon tamarind paste
2 teaspoons chat masala powder
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
1/2 litre of water
6-7 Ice cubes
Salt to taste
For the filling :
1 potato pressure cooked and mashed
1 cup of dried peas or black chana soaked over night and pressure cooked.
Grind the cilantro, mint leaves, chillies, dates and ginger. Strain this mixture into a bowl. Add tamarind paste, chat masala and water.
Since chat masala already has salt, go easy on the salt. Add grated jaggery or brown sugar if you want the mixture a little more sweet.
For serving pani puri, crack the puris at the top, fill it with the potato and peas/kala chana mixture. Sprinkle some chopped onion.
Dip the puri in the pani and stuff it in your mouth!! ūüôā