Saturday, July 29, 2006

One of my most favorite dishes is Rajasthani 'gatte'. These are basically gram flour nuggets cooked in a yogurt based gravy. These are really tasty, go well with rice or with any Indian breads and depending on the time available, can be made as complicated or as easy as one likes.

We make a lot of yogurt-based curries at home and I always feel that yogurt provides a good way to present strong, flavourful spices. Another reason is that yogurt is the most common souring agent used in Rajasthani cuisine (tomato and tamarind and relatively new entrants). No prizes for guessing that we belong to Rajasthan.
Mom: There is a scientific reason for the extensive use of yogurt in Rajasthan. The water contains a lot of flourides and the calcium in yogurt helps to precipitate this flouride and so helps in avoiding flourosis.

We wanted to submit this recipe for the Jivha for Ingredients event being hosted by Santhi of I apologise-- I dont know how to put URL's within the posts yet. But I dont have a digital camera yet and no scanner either so I cant take a picture of this dish. But I do hope that some of you will try this great dish nonetheless and I look forward to joining the next JFI event.

For nuggets:
Gram flour 100 grams
Oil 2 tbsp
Saunf pwd 1/2 tsp
Ajwain seeds 1 pinch
Red chili pwd 1/2 tsp
Corriander pwd 1/2 tsp
Garam masala pinch
Salt to taste
Turmeric pinch
Warm water

For gravy:
Yogurt 100 grams (beaten gently with a spoon)
Corriander pwd 1 tpsp
Saunf (fennel) pwd 1/2 tsp
Red chili pwd 1/4 tsp
Salt to taste


1. Set some water to boil.
2. For the nuggets, roast gram flour slightly till the raw flavor goes away. Take it off the flame, add oil and mix well. Add all the dry spices listed above and mix well.
3. Use a spoon to stir the mixture (in a folding motion) while you gradually sprinkle warm water over this mix. You need to do this until it is lightly bound (not watery and not totally bound like roti flour).
A word of warning here: Do NOT knead the flour mixture since we need for air to be present in the mixture in order to get soft nuggets.
5. Use wet hands to shape the mixture into long cylinder (diameter approx. 1/2 inch).
6. The water must be boiling by now. Drop in these long cylinders gently into the water and simmer till the cylinders turn white and float up in the water.
7. Remove the cylinders from water ( do not throw the water away) and cut them into bite-sized nuggets.
8. For the gravy, take 1tsp of oil in a vessel and do the 'tadka' with cumin seeds, heeng (asafoetida).
9. Once the seeds have popped reduce the heat, add the yogurt and continuously stir this mixture. Add the dry masalas (not the salt) and keep stirring till fat seperates from yogurt.
Note: This may take some time but it is worth it. Also, if you dont stir then the yogurt might seperate. That is also the reason why on most yogurt based curries, we add salt right in the end. Salt encourages the yogurt to seperate and the resulting mixture is not pretty.
10. Add the water left over from boiling the nuggets. You can add more water if required. Bring the mixture to boil and then keep it on a low flame for 5-7 minutes.
Note: This is another trick to keep the yogurt from seperating. Basically, the leftover water from the nuggets contains some gram flour which also acts as a binding agent in the gravy.
11. To pull everything together, add the nuggets to the gravy and bring to boil. This is the stage to season with salt. Garnish with corriander leaves and green chillies.

A richer version of the gravy involves onion-garlic paste. In a vessel, heat 1.5 tsp oil and do the tadka with jeera and heeng. Once seeds have popped add 2 tblsp of onion-garlic paste and roast slowly on a low flame. Once the oil seperates from the paste (when you can see lace-like formations aroung the paste in the vessel) then follow the instructions from step 9.

Some people also like to fry to the nuggets once they are boiled. We dont do that at home for everyday eating.

And in my version I do a seperate 'tadka' with jeera and red chilli powder on top of the dish right before serving. Its a great dash of color on the yellow dish and an extra layer of spice.

Ok, so it seems long and complicated. But I swear to you that its not! I have made it n-number of times in about 15-20 minutes after a long hard day struggling with my thesis! If I can do it, so can everyone else! The burst of protein (from the gram flour) and spices gives a great feeling that even removes despair arising from feeling that you are going to be in grad-school for the rest of your life!

New beginings.......and Happy Birthday!

Hi All!

After many many months of thinking about it and trying to get up my courage, I am starting a blog....that too on my birthday! But of course, being the baby that I am, I am doing it with my mom. I am Gunjan and my mom's name is Vinita, hence Vyanjanaa.

We are two very very different people, living on two different continents. One a scientist, another an economist. One a total spice freak, another more balanced. One in Delhi, another in the US. One with 4 servants, another with none! But we both love food, love the theories and the science behind food, love the almost house-to-house variations that exist, particularly in Indian cooking. We hope to share a little bit of our love of totally 'desi', down-to-earth, vegetarian 'ghar ka khanaa'. Much as we love 'makhani' paneer and 'malai' kofta curry, we dont (and cannot) eat it everyday. And there is SOOOOOO much more to north indian food than these. In fact there is so much more to Indian food now with previously "exotic" dishes now a part of everyday menus. Be it pizza, pasta or burger, once your neighbourhood "thele-walla" starts selling know its here to stay!

So welcome to our blog! This is a chronicle of experiments in trying to create totally new tastes as well as to recreate the illusive ones that always remain on your tongue and remind you of home.