Medu Vada and Rasam with Rasam Powder recipe

IMG_8324Tamil Nadu is the final destination of my Dakshin Rail. Shall we call it Chennai Express 😀
I often make Sambar but had never tried Rasam- the very thin, watery soup like wonder. I love Medu Vadas with it. In fact the vadas are favoured over Idlis in my house ( Umm …why is fried stuff more popular I wonder…)

My darling buddy Jaya Amit shared her Ma’s recipes and I got them both perfect in the first go. And no surprises there. Moms recipes always rock ❤
J also gave me the recipe to do fresh rasam masala at home. I made a small batch and  the aroma that filled my kitchen was moth watering. So here goes
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For the Rasam Masala Powder
 (Makes about ¼  cup)
2 Tbsb coriander/dhaniya seeds
2 tsp tur/arhar dal
2 tsp chana/Bengal gram dal
8 whole red chillies
1 tsp peppercorns/whole kali mirch
1 tsp cumin/jeera

Dry roast all the above on a hot griddle one by one. Cool completely and grind. Store in an airtight box.

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For the Rasam
(Serves 4)

A very small lemon-sized ball of tamarind
1 tsp desi ghee/clarified butter
1 small tomato chopped fine
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
½ tsp haldi/turmeric
1 Tbsp Rasam Masala
4-5  curry leaves
½ cup diluted tur dal (optional)
A handful of fresh coriander/cilantro, chopped fine

For the tadka/tempering
1 tsp desi ghee
½ tsp heeng/asafetida
1 tsp rai/mustard seeds
½ tsp jeera/turmeric
A pinch of pepper powder
4-5 curry leaves
IMG_8174Soak the tamarind in a cup of water for an hour. ( See the small ball. It is less than a tbsp )
Pulp and strain it. Add 2 ½ cups of water to the pulp.
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Heat a tsp of ghee and add garlic, curry leaves and  tomatoes. Cook stirring for 3-4 minutes till the tomatoes are mushy.
IMG_8228Add the tamarind water, salt and turmeric and bring to boil. The diluted tur dal can be added at this point (If using). Add more water if needed. The rasam has to be nice and watery.
IMG_8231Add the Rasam powder and just bring to a froth and take off the heat.
IMG_8236Tempering – Heat ghee and add heeng and rai. As soon as the rai starts to crackle, take off the heat. Add the curry leaves and pepper powder and spread over the rasam. Serve hot with medu vada!

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Recipe for  Medu Vada ( Complete with tips and tricks!)
 ( Makes 12-15 medium sized vadas)
1 Cup Whole urad or good quality urad dal
1 small onion, chopped fine
2 green chillies, chopped fine and seeds removed
6-7 curry leaves, torn roughly
2 tsp grated ginger
Salt to taste
½ tsp heeng/asafetida
Soak a cup of urad dal for two hours ( Do not over soak else the batter gets watery)
IMG_8224Drain and grind till thick and fluffy, adding very little water slowly. Do not add too much water else the batter will be runny and the vadas won’t form well. Grind just before you are going to fry them for better results
IMG_8225.(TIP- If the batter does get runny, add a little semolina and make simple round Pakoda like vadas as it might be difficult to get the doughnut like shape)

Add all the other listed ingredients to the batter and mix well.
IMG_8226IMG_8232Pour oil generously in a  kadai/wok. Don’t be skimpy with oil, else the vadas will stick to the bottom of the wok.
Take a clean plastic sheet. Moisten the sheet and your hands. Take 2 tsbp batter and make the vadas.
IMG_8233Drop gently into the oil and fry on medium heat till golden brown. Serve hot!
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How to make a Middle Eastern Mezze Platter!

What a fun month it has been!
Exploring realms little known, I thoroughly enjoyed myself!
Got to know quite a few histories and stories and the magic of how food connects.

So now to the Mezze platter! Referred to as the Mediterranean Mezze, the Middle Eastern Mezza or the Lebanese Mezze platter- this is a veritable smorgasbord of delights. It is made up of an assortment of chips and dips, fritters and fries, salads and relishes.
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The Food Republic explains it so completely and with a cute illustration to boot!  
Pic Courtesy- foodrepublic.com
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The mezze platter (sometimes spelled meze) is one of the more malleable snack trays, varying slightly depending on where it’s being served. It’s a popular way to start a meal in Turkey, Israel, Greece, Lebanon — spanning cultures across the Middle East and beyond. However you serve it or say it, the most important thing about mezze is what it means: it’s Arabic for sharing.

Although this platter is meant to serve as a Starter to a meal, it is quite a meal in itself. I have a feeling after having feasted on these goodies, I would only head towards the desserts.
I tried to get a Mezze platter together and made

I started with making Rob-e-Anar aka Pomegranate molaases.
Pomegranate molasses, as they are an essential part of the Middle Eastern cuisine.
IMG_4969Fattoush- The fresh salad with the crunch of Pita bread croutons
IMG_4817-A delicious Watermelon,Feta Cheese and Mint salad
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Some gorgeous Middle Eastern dips
-The walnut and red pepper Muahammara
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Green Pepper Hummus
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-The smoky Baba Ghanoush
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-The fresh cucumber yogurt Tzatziki
IMG_5858and the hot hot Harissa Yogurt dip!
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The dips I teamed with
No fry Falafels (I have the regular  fried Falafels on the blog too)
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Pita Wedges/fingers
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Crisp Lavash Crackers and
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Spinach and feta cheese filled Sambousek
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And though not a part of the Mezze, two gorgeous desserts
The Rob-e-Anar Kaashta Ice cream
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and the Basbousa cake dessert!
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Ah!! What a month is has been ❤
Until the next one….

Samosa

Who can resist a well made hot and crisp Samosa! Spicy potatoes encased in a crisp pastry, yum 😀
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Okay, maybe fit only as a rare indulgence, but magical with a cup of coffee or chai. I made samosas for the first time last Diwali and realised how simple they were to make!
Now before a party or a festival, I make these mini samosas at least a day in advance, ziplock and freeze them. I fry them as and when needed. The maximum I have frozen and stored them is a week. These come in real handy as starters or snacks.
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Play around with the filling as you want. I do the traditional potato filling and sometimes a potato, onion and peas filling.

For the filling
Potatoes, peeled and chopped fine- 4/5
Oil- 1 Tbsp
Asafoetida/heeng- ½ tsp
Cumin seeds/jeera- ½ tsp
Salt- 1 tsp
Red chilli powder- ½ tsp
Green chilli, chooped fine- 1 tsp (adjust as per taste)
Ginger, grated fine- 1 tsp
Garam masala- ½ tsp
Aamchoor/mango powder- ½ tsp
Fresh coriander leaves/cilantro/hara dhaniya

Heat oil, add the asafoetida and cumin seeds. As the cumin starts to crackle, add the potatoes, green chilli, ginger, salt, red chilli powder and mix well. Cook covered till the potatoes soften. When done add the garam masala and amchoor and mix well. Mash some part of the filling mixture and mix. Add the chopped coriander and the filling is ready.

For the samosas (This recipe gives about 40 small samosas)
Maida/All purpose flour- 500 gms
Salt- 1 tsp
Oil- ½ cup ( or a little more if needed)
Carom seeds/ajwain- 1 tsp
Oil to fry the samosas
Mix all the listed ingredients. Rub the flour with finger tips till the mixture resembles bread crumbs and a fistful of the flour holds well. Add water slowly to knead firm dough. Rest for 10 minutes.
Divide the dough into 20 parts and make balls. Roll out to make a small circle. Cut into two halves to get two equal semi-circles.
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Bring one end to the centre of the semi-circle and seal with a dab of water. Bring the other end to form a cone.
Spoon in some filling and seal the opening after moistening the edges with some water. Make all the samosas like this. Deep fry in medium hot oil. If the oil is too hot, the insides will remain raw while the outside browns too quickly. If it is not hot enough, the samosa will soak a lot of oil! So the heat needs to be right.

To store, transfer to ziplock bags and freeze. Remove and fry as and when needed. They stay good for up to a week.
Enjoy with fresh coriander chutney and tamarind chutney!

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