Friday, April 8, 2016

Curried Brown Chickpeas - Chana Upkari | Happy Ugadi

Every Friday when I was in school, I would wake up to the sound of fresh pepper being ground in the traditional Indian style spice grinder. No modern pepper mills for my mother.. even now its the same. The pepper would then be added to a seasoning for cooked brown/black chickpeas - kaala chana - along with a handful of coconut gratings to make Konkani style chona upkari. 

Every Friday it was a ritual to include chickpeas in the menu. No idea why this was but most Konkani homes followed this tradition on Fridays and also festival days as well.This continues even today and come Thursday night, I will soak chickpeas (black /white) or rajma or other dried beans (being little experimental).

Ugadi or New Year for Konkani, Kannada and Telugu communities falls today and is being celebrated with traditional rituals and food. A New Year for me means Khotte/Ittu along with my mom's special coriander chutney, lemon pickle (nonche), chana ghhasshi and upkari.  Every Konkani festival this was my breakfast. Though ofcourse marriage changed all this. Its good to have a spread when your mom is cooking, but when you have to do it, then its a bit tough...ahem !! 

Anyways today being Friday and also Ugadi, I thought I would share the simple chana upkari with you all. Khotte/ Ittu being a distant dream due to lack of jack fruit leaves and inability of yours truly to turn the leaves magically into a basket.. Oh.. the Goodness of mothers..


Brown Chickpeas : cooked 1 cup  (any chickpeas will do)
Soak 1/2 cup chickpeas overnight and cook it in a pressure cooker next day  or 1 hour on stovetop adding little salt.

Mustard: 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds/Jeera : a very small pinch 
Curry Leaves: 5-8 
Dried Red Chillies: 1-2 
Fresh grated Pepper : 1/2 tsp +/- (adjust the chillies and pepper )

Salt: as per taste
Fresh coconut gratings: handful /as per your taste

Wash and pressure cook the soaked chickpeas adding little salt. Once done drain the cooking water. You can keep this water for later use like to make rasam or whatever you want as its good healthy lentil water. You can even use canned chickpeas after draining off the water.

Heat oil in a deep pan. Add mustard. When it sizzles add cumin ,red chillies, curry leaves and fresh grated pepper. Let these sizzle till you get a nice aroma from the pepper. Add in the cooked chickpeas and saute well to mix everything well.

Mix in the coconut gratings and let it cook for 1-2 minutes on low flame so that water if any is remaining will be absorbed by the coconut and we get a dry curry. Adjust salt and garnish with more coconut if needed before serving.

Serve as side to whatever you like - idli, khotte/ittu, dosa, puri ,roti/breads or even rice.. Goes well even as a teatime snack... be creative and be traditional.

Wishing all a healthy & prosperous Ugadi and wonderful year ahead..

Friday, April 1, 2016

Vegan Potato Knish | Baking Partners April 2016

Knish is an Eastern European snack consisting of usually potatoes and meat filling in a doughy crust and can be either baked,grilled or deep fried. Made popular in USA by the Eastern European immigrants, a Kentucky Knish version has also come up. Knishes can be made round rectangular or square with filling completely covered or peeping out.

For this months Baking Partners Challenge by Swathi Knish was tried out by Yours Truly. That too a vegan knish  from here with a tofu filling from here and in 3 different shapes.


Mashed Potatoes: 1 cup
Oil: 1 tbsp
Salt: 1 tsp
All Purpose Flour: 3 cups
Baking Powder: 1 tsp
Cold water: 1/2 cup (+ 1/4 cup)

Oil: 1 tbsp
Chopped Onions: 1 cup
Tofu: 1.5 cup mashed
Fresh Parsley: 1/4 cup

Garlic Powder :1/2 tsp OR Garlic cloves: 2-3 minced

Black pepper: 1/4 tsp or as per taste
Salt: 1 tsp +/- as per taste
Other spices : as per taste



In a big bowl, beat together mashed potatoes, 1 tbsp of oil and 1 tsp of salt.

Add the flour and baking powder and mix well.
Mix in water and knead into a soft and smooth dough. More water might be needed depending on how moist your mashed potatoes are.
Let it rest in a bowl or counter covered with a cloth or plastic wrap for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile prepare the filling.

Heat oil in a deep pan and saute oinions and minced garlic until transparent.


Add the scrambled/grated/mashed tofu along with parsley, salt and other seasonings.
Incase going for garlic powder, add that also at this stage. Mix well and let it cook for another minutes or few more until almost done.

We can go with whatever filling we want. Traditionally mashed red potatoes with caramelized onions is used with meat added for nonvegetarians.

Once the dough is ready divide into 4 portions. Work with one portion while the others are resting.

Shape 1: Cylindrical Round : Source : JoePastry
Roll out the dough as thin as possible into a rectangle.
Place a mound of filling on the dough  on the longest side .
Enclose the filling with the dough.  This should not be either too tight as it might burst out while baking.

Continue rolling up to get 2 + layers of the dough. The more you roll more flakier you will get the snack. This is the reason why the dough should be rolled out as thin and possible.

You can stop once you get as much layers as you want and trim off the excess (to be used later) using a pizza cutter.
Now decide how big you want you knish. I went for bite sized ones. So select an appropriate  length, give it a pinch with your fingers to mark it.

Give it a twist.

Then using a pizza cutter/knife  or even your palms ,cut it off.
You'll get a small sausage like dough piece. Pinch the ends shuts to enclose the filling.
Place it on the counter/palm and push it down with your palm to form a cylinder.

Place it on greased/lined baking pan and press the top down with your finger to keep the center from puffing up in the oven.

Repeat the process with the rest of the dough and make other cylinders.

Shape2: Crimped Round:Source: JoePastry

This is another way of making knish.

Roll out the dough into a thin rectangle. With a cookie cutter, cut out circles.
Place the filling on top of a circle and press it down with with another dough circle on top.
Press the edges lightly to let the air out.
Fold the edges and press to crimp. Then place the knish on the baking sheet with the crimped side down. So that we get a smooth top.
Continue with the rest of the dough circles

Shape 3: Rectangular:

Roll out the dough as thin as possible. Cut into rectangles. Place 2-3 tbsp of filling in the middle.
Fold the sides in first
and then the ends.
Place the folded side down on the bakingsheet.


Bake in a preheated oven at 175C/350F for about 20-25 minutes until the top turns golden.

Serve with your choice of dip.

A simple recipe which can be tweaked as per our convenience and availability of ingredients for fillings. Some authentic recipes contains eggs along with potatoes to make it more rich and moist but this vegan dough is also tasty. In case you are too tired to make your own dough, use any bread dough freezing in your refrigerator. Traditionally potatoes are part of dough or filling, but its upto you to choose otherwise and create yet another tasty pastry.

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