20 July 2009

Cooking Class: "Indian Street Food"

Last week V and I taught another Indian cooking class at the local gourmet store. It's always a treat to teach there because the store has a top-of-the-line Viking kitchen and the people who sign up are always really interested in having a good time and learning about Indian vegetarian food.

We do a theme each time, and this time we had the theme "Indian Street Food." Since it's summer I thought chaat and snack dishes would be fun. The menu included masala peanuts (a favorite bar snack with beers/whiskey from V's undergrad days at Delhi College of Engineering), aloo ki tikki, cilantro chutney, tamarind chutney, pav bhaji (the famous street food of Mumbai) and plain sweet lassi.

Masala Peanuts

1 tbs oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
1-2 minced serrano chiles
1 3/4 cups (3 roma) tomatoes, chopped
1 1/2 cups unsalted roasted peanuts (or salted, just taste before adding any more salt)
2-3 tsp chaat masala
1 tsp red chile powder (or to taste)
salt, to taste
juice of 1/2 lime
1/3 cup chopped cilantro

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, then add the onion and chiles. Cook for a few minutes until the onion becomes lightly golden. Add the tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes or until they become soft. Add the peanuts, and stir until they are heated through. Add chaat masala, chile powder, and salt; stir. Turn off heat and add lime juice and cilantro; taste, and adjust seasoning. Serve warm.

Aloo ki tikki

6 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, cooked and mashed
1/2 cup peas, mashed up
1 ½ tbs ginger-garlic paste
1 green chili, minced
Cilantro, chopped
1-2 tsp red chile powder (to taste)
Kosher salt, to taste

3 – 4 tbsp bread crumbs

3 tbs cornstarch
2 tsp garam masala
Oil for cooking

Garnishes: red chile powder, chopped cilantro, or crushed cashews

Mix the potatoes with the other ingredients (except for the oil). If possible, set aside to cool (tikkis seem to stay more firm if the mixture is chilled).

Pick up some of the potato mixture and make a ball, then flatten it into a round disk, about 3 inches across and ½ inch thick.

In a large nonstick skillet over medium to medium-high heat, add some oil. Put the patties into the skillet and cook them until they are golden-brown on each side. If you like, you can then take a metal spatula (or another thin spatula) and split the patties to cook them on the inside too, so they are thin and crispy (this is optional).

To serve: cooked, un-split tikkis can be eaten on a bun like a burger (this is what you get at McDonald’s in India: it’s called the McTikki Burger). Or, you can serve them street-food style: place some of the split, crispy tikkis on a plate and drizzle with thinned out yogurt, cilantro chutney, and tamarind chutney. Sprinkle with a little bit of crushed cashews, red chile powder to taste, and chopped cilantro if you like.

Dhania chutney (Cilantro Chutney, adapted from Manjula's Kitchen)

1 bunch of cilantro
½ cup mint leaves
2 green chiles, chopped roughly
1 tbs ginger, chopped roughly
1 tsp whole cumin seeds
1 pinch asafetida
1 tsp sugar
3 tbs lemon juice
1 tsp oil (optional)

In a food processor or blender, blend up the chiles, ginger, cumin seeds, asafetida, sugar, lemon juice, and oil.
Add the cilantro (you can use part of the stems too, if they are tender) and the mint leaves. If it is not blending smoothly, add a couple tbs of water.
Taste and adjust seasoning/lemon juice.

Imli ki chutney (tamarind chutney)

5 oz. tamarind paste
5 oz. Jaggery (date palm sugar), or a mix of 2 parts brown sugar and one part molasses
3/4 teaspoon black salt
1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder, or to taste
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
5 dates or ½ cup raisins, finely chopped
salt to taste
2 cups water

Put all ingredients into a small saucepan and cook over medium-low heat until it is smooth and thickened, about 20 minutes. You can store it in the fridge, covered, for several weeks.

Pav Bhaji

2 tbs oil
1 tbs whole cumin seed
1 large onion or three small onions, chopped
3 green chiles, minced
1 tbs ginger-garlic paste
14 ounces tomato puree
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp khatai (mango powder)
1 tsp or to taste red chile powder
2 tsp salt or to taste
1 tbs garam masala
1 tbs pav bhaji masala
3 medium potatoes, cubed and cooked (we do it in the microwave)
2 carrots, finely diced
1/2 head cabbage, diced
1/2 head cauliflower, chopped small
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
2/3 cup peas

To serve:
Soft dinner rolls
garnish: chopped raw onion, chopped cilantro, butter, lime juice, pav bhaji masala

Heat the oil on medium, then add the cumin seeds and onion. Saute until the onion becomes soft and translucent; add the green chile and stir. Add the ginger-garlic paste and stir for another minute or two. Add the spices (turmeric, red chile, salt, garam masala, khatai, pav bhaji masala) and stir for a minute. Add the tomato and stir to blend. Add the cabbage and cauliflower and stir to coat in the tomato mixture. Pour in enough water to barely cover and bring to a simmer. Add the rest of the vegetables (except peas) and more water if needed. Cover the pan and simmer until the vegetables are very soft and the mixture has thickened, 30-45 minutes. When vegetables are soft, remove the pot from the heat and carefully mash them with a potato masher. Add the peas and return to the heat. Add a little more water if you like, and continue to simmer until it is the consistency you like (we like it kind of thick).

Take some soft dinner rolls and cut them in half crosswise. Toast them in a pan with butter. Serve the bhaji in bowls topped with more pav bhaji masala to taste, chopped raw onion, cilantro, a pat of butter, and a squeeze of lime juice. You can use pieces of the bread to pick up the bhaji, or you can make little sandwiches with the bhaji and pav.


Gori Girl said...

Not sure how you guys are planning on moving, but I could probably rope Aditya in to help carry boxes in return for a cooking lesson. :-D

I'll throw in a tour of all the local Indian grocery stores & the location of where you can get fresh papdi chaat while I'm at it.

D. Jain said...

That sounds like a deal! :-)

Gori Girl said...

Hmmm... perhaps I should have held my cards closer, given how quickly you responded... ;-) It's just the recipes sounded so good!

D. Jain said...

Heh...well, we'll definitely have you guys over after we get settled in, in any case!

Anonymous said...

That sounds like such a great idea ... indian street food!! Will have to try some of these out!!!

(Thanks for stopping by Delhi Bound!)

D. Jain said...

Ooh, Naomi, you can get such awesome street food now!! Aloo ki tikki of course. Also, go to Bengali Sweets in South Ex and try the pani puri...aaaahh.

Thanks for coming by!

Pale_Desi said...

I'm trying to make the Pav Bhaji right now.. hope I'm successful! :)

D. Jain said...

Let me know how it turns out, Pale Desi! I think if you can let it simmer longer the flavors improve.

nickelo said...

I must say that looks so good I love Indian food mmmmmm! That is one thing I miss about living in TX I could get Indian food as strange as that sounds I could,we now I'm living in small town USA helping my Nana and not getting good Indian food. We have become friends with the people the own the store across the street from me they are indie and when ever they make chicken curry or whatever the give me some. I have not had any since my weight loss operation and can't wait to try some when I do I'm going to try this one out. Too bad I don't live closer you could teach me how to make more.

Sharell said...

Wow, these recipes have really inspired me to get cooking! They seems so easy, which is what's really enticing. Will definitely give them a try at some stage. (Mouth is watering already!).