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Recipes | Easy and healthy Indian curries and flatbreads – My warming winter comfort foods

3 December 2014 5 Comments

healthy vegetarian recipes, indian flat bread and curries

Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.” ~ Edith Sitwell.

Winter season is a celebration of food. Lower temperature and abundance of fresh produce make winter the most favored season for food lovers.

Hmm….well, the temperature in the city where I currently reside, hardly dips below 20° c.  Do you think this could be a reason for me not to indulge in some of my favorite winter comfort foods? Not in the least.

Come winter season and I start craving for certain recipes which are cooked with love and passed from generation to generation. Yes, there is something special about winters that make you long for home cooked food.

Raab, Bajre ka khichda, makki ki roti, Bathua ka saag, Daal Baati, churma ladoos, Gajar ka halwa, gajak, gond ke ladoo,…some of the most treasured recipes that taste like home, no matter where I cook or eat any of these. These comfort foods bring pleasure and never fail to recreate the nostalgia every time that I cook these recipes at home.

Large boxes of rich carrot halwa, loaded with dry fruits and gond-mewa Panjiri always secured a special place in mom’s refrigerator during winter days. It was a ritual for us to fill our uniform pockets with a handful of Chilgoje (pine nuts) and to eat one spoon of Panjiri before going to school.

Winter is the time when our metabolic rate slows down, the energy levels are low and high caloric foods are welcomed.

Makki ki roti (cornmeal flat-breads) paired with fresh Pachkuta and aloo gobi matter ki subji (potato-cauliflower-peas curry) is a favorite winter comfort food combo at mom’s home. Not a winter goes by without her making this combo atleast a few times every week.

Pachkuta which means five vegetables in Hindi is a popular stir-fried dry curry in many parts of Rajasthan in India. This fresh vegetable Pachkuta recipe is different from another popular version of Panchkuta in Rajasthan, which uses a mix of five dried herbs such as Kair, sangari and kumat.

This recipes is prepared with an assortment of five or more fresh vegetables of winter season cooked with a very few spices and served hot with millet flat-breads. A few local winter produce such as Kachri, tinda and gawar fali are used in the recipe.

The first thing that hits you when you take a bite of this Pachkuta or Indian stir-fry is the heady flavors of asafetida (hing) powder. Mom uses natural form of this resins which is sold as large lumps. A pinch of this asafetida goes a long way to flavor any Indian dish, but too much of the same can make the recipe taste bitter and unpalatable.

healthy vegetarian recipes, indian flat bread and curries

Kachari and cluster beans

Kachri is a wild melon which is widely used in fresh or raw form in Rajasthani cuisine. These native melons are grind into a tangy chutney, curries and is also dried and preserved.

Tinda or Indian round gourd is yet another popular seasonal produce used to make curries, stir-fried and many other recipes.

1. Quick Indian curry aka pani wale aloo-gobi-mattar ki subji

healthy vegetarian recipes, indian flat bread and curries

Ingredients;

(serve 3)

  • 2 large boiled potatoes
  • 1 cup cauliflower florets
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 1/2 cup shelled green peas
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 1”ginger piece
  • 2 tbsp. oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Water as required
  • Coriander leaves to garnish

Spices;

  • 1/2 tsp. carom seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • One bay leaf
  • Red chilly powder
  • Turmeric powder
  • Coriander powder
  • A pinch of asafetida powder

Method; Wash and cut cauliflower into very small florets and slightly mash the boiled potatoes into big chunks.

Grate tomatoes and ginger.

Add turmeric powder, red chilly powder, coriander powder ad salt in yogurt and whisk it with a fork or spoon.

Heat oil in a pressure pan and add carom seeds and cumin seeds in it.

Add asafetida powder, bay leaf and grated tomato and ginger in the pan and sauté for 3-4 minutes on medium heat.

Pour yogurt mixed with spices in the pan and sauté for 2-3 minutes.

Add roughly mashed potato cubes, cauliflower florets and peas in the pressure pan and close the lid and cook for 2 whistles.

Let the pressure pan cool. Open the lid, garnish the curry with chopped coriander leaves and serve hot with Indian flat breads.

2. Sorghum-wheat flatbreads aka Jowar-gehun ka kulcha

healthy vegetarian recipes, indian flat bread and curries

Ingredients;

(about 5-6 Kulchas)

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup Sorghum flour
  • 1/2 cup warm milk
  • 3 tbsp. yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder (optional)
  • Salt to taste

Filling;

  • 6-7 garlic pearls
  • 1 tsp red chilly powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp carom seeds

healthy vegetarian recipes, indian flat bread and curries

Method;

Combine whole wheat flour, Sorghum flour, baking powder (if using) and salt in a large bowl.

Add yogurt, warm milk and knead the dough. Add a little water if needed, to make a soft dough.

Crush the garlic cloves with a pestle or grate the cloves and add red chilly powder, cumin powder, and carom seeds to it.

Cover the dough with a wet kitchen towel and let ir rest in a warm place for an hour.

Pinch a ball of dough and roll into a small circle by patting it between your palm.

Spread 1/2 tsp of crushed garlic and spice-mix on the flattened dough, gather all the edges together and make a ball again.

Dust the stuffed ball of dough with dry flour and roll it into a small circle with a rolling pin.

Place the rolled out Kulcha on a hot griddle and roast it on each side with a little oil or ghee till brown spots appear.

Use fresh garlic leaves or chives as filling for yet another flavorsome Kulcha recipe.

3. Five Vegetable Indian stir-fry aka Pachkuta 

healthy vegetarian recipes, indian flat bread and curries

Ingredients;

(serve 4)

  • 1/2 cup chopped String beans
  • 1/2 cup chopped Cluster beans
  • 1/2 cup chopped Bottle gourd
  • 4-5 Wild melons or Kachri
  • 4-5 Indian round gourd or Tinday
  • 2 tbsp yogurt/curd
  • 2 tbsp. oil

Spice;

  • 2 tsp. coriander powder
  • 1 tsp red chilly powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp. asafetida powder
  • Salt to taste
healthy vegetarian recipes, indian flat bread and curries

An assortment of 5 vegetables, kachri, tinda, cluster beans, gourd, string beans.

Method; Wash and chop all the vegetables into small pieces.

Take a small bowl and add yogurt, coriander, chilly and turmeric powder in it and whisk with a spoon.

Heat oil in a wok or kadai and crackle cumin seeds in it.

Add asafoeitda powder and spice-mix yogurt in it.

Keep the flame at medium and continue to cook yogurt for 2-3 minutes.

Add all the chopped vegetables and increase the flame to high.

Cook and keep stirring the vegetables for 5-6 minutes.

Take the wok off the flame and serve immediately with hot Indian flat breads.

4. Cornmeal Indian flatbread aka Makki ki Roti

healthy vegetarian recipes, indian flat bread and curries

Makki ki roti, Pachkuta and Gonde ka achaar

A perfect plate of winter comfort foods; Makki ki roti (cornmeal flat-bread), Pachkuta, and Gonde Ka achaar (gum-berry pickle).

Ingredients;

(4-5 rotis)

  • 2 cups corn flour
  • Salt to taste
  • Warm water

Method; I have used flour of white corn kernel in this recipe. Use coarse cornfloru for better texture.

Take cornflour or Makki ka atta in a large bowl and mix salt in it.

Add war water little at a time to bring all the flour together.

The dough made with cornflour will not be flexible as it lacks gluten in it and rotis rolled out of this dough becomes slightly tough.

Use a plastic sheet or parchment paper to roll the rotis.

Dry roast the rotis on a hot griddle and smear it with ghee before serving.

Check Glossary page to search for the English & Hindi names of various foods and ingredients used in the recipes here.

Notes;

  1. Pachkuta is served and eaten hot, straight from the kadai or wok. It should not be overcooked and kept for long to avoid the vegetables becomes soggy and loose the crunchy texture.
  2. Traditionally the above mentioned 5 veggies are used in the Pachkuta recipe. You can replace the vegetables in Pachkuta with any other vegetables of your choice if you can’t find the same in your city.
  3. Replace sorghum flour (jowar) with whole wheat flour to make the Kulchas if you don’t get the same.

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