Chakli/Muruku/ Crunchy Lentil Snack

Chakli or muruku, as it is commonly known in India, is a spicy crunchy lentil snack. It can be made the easy and the hard way, of course the hard way reaps the best results. 

What you need: Makes 25-30 chaklis
Chakli/murukku press. You could try a coookie tube press too.
2-3 cups of Oil to fry (vegatable/canola oil)

The hard way:
3 cups akki hittu/Rice flour
1 cup yellow hesar bele/yellow moong dhal
1 cup uddina bele/ white urad dhal
1 cup kadale poppu/ soft puffed channa dhal
1 Tbsp jeera/cumin seeds
1 Tbsp yellu/white sesame seeds
2 tsp red chili powder
1/4 tsp hing/asafoedita
1 Tbsp hot oil
1 and 1/2 to 2 cups warm water
Salt to taste
The easy way:
3 cups akki hittu/Rice flour
1 cup kadale hittu/Besan flour
1 cup urad dhal flour
1 Tbsp jeera/cumin seeds
1 Tbsp yellu/white sesame seeds
2 tsp red chili powder
1/4 tsp hing/asafoedita
1 Tbsp warm melted butter
1 and 1/2 to 2 cups warm water
Salt to taste

Dry roast the rice, and dhals separately until they are aromatic, cool completely and powder them to a fine consistency.

Easy method, start here: Mix all the powders, chili powder, salt, cumin, and sesame seeds together. Pour a Tbsp of sizzling hot oil (If you are doing the easy method, substitute this for melted butter) on the mixture and mix thoroughly. 

Now add warm water little by little and mix into a soft and pliable dough. Roll them out into 3 or 4 sections and shape them into cylinders. Add them into the chakli press. Roll them into desired shape.

Heat about 2-3 cups of oil in a pan to deep fry. When the oil starts to smoke, reduce the heat a bit, and then gently lower the chaklis into the oil. They will sink, and foam at first, then come up to the surface. 

Flip them over to the other side and let cook to a golden brown. Drain the oil and place in a sieve, to drain the excess oil. They may be stored up to two weeks in air tight containers. Enjoy!

Pineapple meatballs in pepper stir-fry

This recipe is a contrasting combination of meatballs marinated in pineapple bits, and stir fried in spicy peppers and onions.

What you need: serves 6
For the meatballs:
2 lb ground turkey meat (lamb/chicken/pork/turkey)
1 cup red onion finely chopped
2 cups diced fresh or canned pineapple
1 tsp ginger finely chopped
1 tsp garlic finely chopped
1 Tbsp of olive oil
½ cup scallions/green onion finely chopped
2 tsp red chili powder
½ tsp pepper powder
¼ tsp turmeric
Salt to taste

For the stir-fry:
½ tsp jeera/cumin seeds
2 cups of pepper/capsicum juliennes
1 cup onion juliennes
½ tsp pepper powder
1 tsp soy sauce
Salt to taste

Take a large mixing bowl; add in the ground meat, pineapple, onions, scallions, and all the above mentioned ingredients. Mix well and let it chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. 

Divide the mixture into 30 lime sized meat balls. Place them on a greased foil placed in a baking sheet. 

Preheat the oven at 400 degree F for about 10 minutes prior to placing the meatballs. Bake them for 25-30 minutes.  
In the meantime, get a saucepan nice and hot, add a tsp of oil, toss in the cumin seeds and onions, sauté them on high for a minute. Add in the pepper juliennes and cook on low. 

Once the meatballs are cooked, add the golden brown meatballs into the sauce pan, and sprinkle pepper powder, salt and soy sauce, and toss them all together on high for just a minute or two. 

They go great as an appetizer, a side or in a wrap. Enjoy!

Trifuit-trilayered cake

This is an easy cake to make with minimum ingredients. The cake is a fatless sponge and filled with light cream and fruit. The cake is light, fluffy, and low in calories, so another reason to try!

What you need: makes an 8 inch round cake
½ cup all purpose flour
½ cup sugar
½ tsp baking powder
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
A pinch of  salt

For the icing and filling:
1 cup diced strawberries
1 cup diced pineapple
1 cup of kiwi slices
1 pint/475 ml fresh heavy whipping cream
¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
2 trays of ice cubes
1 cup warm water
2 tsp lime juice
 2tsp sugar 
Tip: You may use ready whip cream instead of making it on your own. 

Preheat the oven at 325 degree F. Sift together flour, salt and baking powder twice. Set aside.

Grease and dust an 8 inch round cake baking pan with butter and flour.  Beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla on medium speed for about 3 minutes until light and fluffy.

Gently fold in the flour mixture with a spatula. Cut and fold in a circular motion.  Empty the mixture into the greased cake pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cake starts to leave the sides of the pan and a knife or skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Cool the cake completely before overturning it. Scrape out all the crumbs to get a clean cake. Divide the cake into three equal parts by cutting through horizontally with a serrated knife or thread.

Soaking and layering:  
Mix the water, lime juice and sugar, heat gently until the sugar dissolves. Let cool.  Set aside.

Take a large bowl, put in the ice cubes. Take a smaller bowl that sits on the ice and pour in the cream and sugar. Beat on low speed until the fresh cream and sugar combines to get light and fluffy, forming peaks. The ice helps it stay cold enough while blending.  Chill the prepared whipped cream for 30 minutes in the fridge.

Place the first layer on a plate. Using a brush or your bare hands, sprinkle the layer with sugar syrup. Now add a layer of whip cream to the cake, and top it with fruit one fruit. 

Add another layer of whip cream and cover it with the second cake layer. Soak it the same way, and ice the sides of the cake first with whip cream. Top it with sliced/diced colorful fruits. Chill overnight for the best taste. Enjoy!

Pepper, corn and paneer curry

(Please bear with the clicks for a month, an iphone for now!)

What you need: Serves 4 as a side dish
½ lb paneer (Indian cheese) cut into ½ inch cubes (Vegans, substitute this ingredient with tofu)
½ cup fresh/frozen corn
½ cup colored peppers/capsicum finely chopped
½ cup finely chopped onions
½ cup finely chopped tomatoes
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
½ tsp garam masala powder
¼ tsp jeera/cumin powder
¼ tsp turmeric powder
¼ tsp black pepper powder
½ tsp red hot chili powder
2 tsp olive oil
A spring of curry leaves
¼ tsp mustard seeds
Salt to taste

In a thick bottom skillet, on medium heat, add 1 tsp oil. When it begins to shimmer, add the mustard seeds and curry leaves, cook covered. When the splattering subsides, add onions and ginger garlic paste. Cook for just a minute. Toss in the tomatoes till they are all soft and pulpy, add the corn and peppers, toss another minute, add all the powders, and salt. Cook covered for about 5-7 minutes on low heat, stirring once in a while. 

Add in the paneer cubes and let the mixture simmer, covered, on low heat for about 5 minutes. Now the paneer would have softened and swelled. Perfect timing, turn off the heat and serve hot. Garnish it with freshly chopped cilantro if you like.

It is complimented with flavored or plain rice. It tastes good with chapathis/wheat flat bread too. Enjoy!

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