Upma and Fried Upma with Ricotta

Upma is a delicious breakfast dish and snack from South India. Rava (also called Rawa, Sooji, Suji or Upma grain) is a semolina product that is cooked with spices and sometimes finely chopped vegetables for a stunningly delicious dish.

Ottolenghi, in his book Plenty More takes his version of Upma and allows it to set before pan frying wedges. It is a delicious way to use Upma and a great use of left-overs. Rather than use his recipe, I cook Upma in a more traditional South Indian way, using his method to pan fry it, then serve it with either seasoned yoghurt or ricotta.

Rava, like semolina, is a granulated wheat flour that have a grainy and coarse texture to it. There are two types available, a fine-grained version and a coarser-grained one that is better for making Upma. In general, sooji will have a finer grain than rava. If you use the fine grained one for Upma, you might have to reduce the water so that you don’t get a pasty texture.

I cook Upma until it is thick and holds shape.  One variation is to add more water to get a looser consistency. If making the fried upma, cook until it is quite thick.

As an aside and just for your information if you are interested: There are many different types of rava, perhaps thousands of regional variations. Some of the variations are because different wheats are used. One of them called Bansi Rava and also known as samba wheat in many parts of India, is a very fine powdered flour unlike the more coarsely granulated Rava. It is made from a variety of wheat called samba godumai that has a long body and slightly sharp edges on both sides.

Another famous Rava is the Bombay Rava which has a very coarse texture that is a little bigger than regular Rava. It is made from whole wheat grains of a wheat called mottai godumai. There is another type, chamba rava, which is a by-product of wheat flour. Semolina, on the other hand, is always made from Duram wheat.

Similar recipes include Polenta Crisps and Lemony Poha.

Browse all of our Semolina recipes and all of our Breakfast dishes. Indian Snacks are here. All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Early Winter recipes.

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Kanda Batata Poha

There is a quick and easy Batata Poha that I make – the flattened rice flakes mixed with herbs and fried potatoes, yum! This recipe is no more difficult, still quick and easy, very similar to the recipe that Tim and Saun gave me – just a few extra spices. It includes onions, steamed potatoes and peas, cashews and peanuts, coconut and warming spices. It is a light dish that is eaten for breakfast or tiffin snacks. It is perfect just with a cuppa. It can also be served for brunch, lunch or a light dinner – add some coconut chutney or a bowl of yoghurt for a quick,light and delicious meal. It can be packed into lunch boxes, taken on picnics or taken on trips as travel food. We love poha and have nearly a dozen recipes that use it.

Take note that this is made with the thick poha – poha is steamed and rolled/flattened rice – make sure that you buy poha and not puffed rice. When you visit your Indian grocery you will see that Poha comes in different thicknesses  – Nylon (very thin and crisp), Paper, Thin, Medium, Thick and Dagdi (thick and chewy). There is also poha made from red rice and brown rice as well as white rice. The thicker types are soaked before use.

Similar dishes include Upma and Fried Upma, Lemony Poha, Poha Chaat, and Coconut-Tamarind Poha.

Browse all of our Poha recipes. All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Early Autumn recipes.

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Indian Vegetable Toasties

One of the easy ways of including more veg in your diet is to make delicious toasties. In this recipe we make a bechamel sauce, mix in some spices and finely chopped vegetables, and make toasties with the mix either on the tawa or in a toasted sandwich maker. We like to make toasties for Sunday night dinner when we have had a hectic weekend and just want to relax without too much effort. This is a habit born from childhood when we would use the leftovers from our large Sunday lunches to make toasties on Sunday nights. They go well on a Saturday night in front of the football on TV too.

By the way, when I was writing this post I had a vigorous conversation about the difference between a jaffle, toastie, grilled sandwich and toasted sandwich. Some differentiate between a toastie and a toasted sandwich. A toastie has sealed edges and is cut in half (see my pic) and a toasted sandwich is neither sealed nor cut. Toasties are called jaffles in some parts of Australia, but not many. To me, a true jaffle is made in a round, closed sandwich-maker that is held over a flame, either a gas flame or an open fire. A grilled sandwich is a term from the US. Glad we got that all sorted.

But I want to be clear that I use the term toastie generically to mean a toasted sandwich that may or may not have sealed edges and may or may not be cut in half. Either way.

Similar recipes include Upma and Fried Upma, Paneer Toast, Potato and Pea Toasties, and Tomato and Fontina Toastie.

Browse all of our Toasties and all of our Snacks. All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Early Autumn recipes.

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Horse Gram Vadai | Kollu Vadai

Horse gram and matki (moth beans) are often confused. Similar in colour, both are grown in dry almost inhospitable land on vines. Both have an earthy taste and require good soaking before cooking. They are even used to make similar dishes. However, they are different, with different shapes, textures and tastes. Many authors and bloggers confuse them.

Horse gram has a shape that is like small flattened discs, and matki is tiny with a bullet shape. Horse Gram has more colour variation. Those are the best ways to tell them apart. (Read more about these two lentils here.)

Moth Beans (Matki) and Horse Gram

Today we are making vadai with horse gram. A coarse mix is made with the gram, spices and herbs, and then the vadai are deep fried for a glorious snack. It is a crispy and delicious vadai, you will love them. Today I had them with some mango that I roasted with chilli flakes, a roasted tomato chutney, some slices of radish and onion, and a mango pickle.

Read more about Horse Gram (aks Kulthi Bean). It is easily purchased in Indian shops.

Similar recipes include Sprouted Horse Gram Sundal, Beetroot Vadai, Maddur Vadai, and Broad Bean and Mint Vada.

Browse all of our Horse Gram recipes and all of our Matki dishes. Check out our Vada and Indian Snacks. All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Late Summer recipes.

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Vadai with Yoghurt

Truth be told, making Indian batters from lentils or pulses is a challenge. The Indian grinder is not available here, nor the ubiquitous mixi with its multiple contains all for a different purpose. My Indian friends pop over to India at least once a year, so their kitchens are purpose built for Indian cuisine.

You will find numerous people advise high speed blenders, like Vitamix, for grinding batters, and I bought one with this in mind (and my old blender had had its day). It was Ok, I have to say, but still hard work. At the same time I bought a popular high-mid-range food processor – high speed with a twin blade. I decided to experiment with it to make batter for these vadai, and am really happy with the result. Quick and easy, no need to use a tamper to push, as with the blender, and I wiped the batter down only twice. There was no need to add extra water. To say I am over the moon is an understatement.

These deep fried vadai, a simple form of Medhu (Medu) Vada, are made from Urad dal with a few spices. They are the type that are soaked in yoghurt for 30 mins – on their own they are a little dry. They can also be soaked in Sambar, or, as I do when I am in a hurry, serve with a bowl of seasoned yoghurt and dip each bite into the yoghurt so that you get a luxurious amount over the vadai.

Similar recipes include Horse Gram Vadai, Beetroot Vadai, Maddur Vadai, and Broad Bean and Mint Croquettes.

Browse all of our Vada and all of our Indian Snacks. All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Late Autumn dishes.

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Aama Vadai

Aama Vadai (also called Paruppu Vadai or Masala Vadai) is a traditional snack that is made during Tamil New Year and also Ramnavami. Made from a variety of lentils and spiced with chillies, asafoetida, curry leaves and coriander, it is a delicious snack. It is also a very popular street food snack in South India.

Aama means tortoise in Tamil. But never fear, they do not contain tortoises, it is named this way because of the hard crispy outer shell of the vadai.

Similar recipes include Vadai with Yoghurt, Broad Bean and Mint Vada, Thattai Vada, and Pea and Mint Croquettes.

Browse more Vadai recipes. All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Late Winter recipes.

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Collection: Delicious and Addictive Indian Snacks

I admit it. I am addicted to Indian snacks. Who isn’t?

I have put together some of my favourites in this collection. I hope you enjoy them.

Similar articles include What to Do with Daikon Radish, A Collection of Kitchdi Recipes, and Delicious Recipes with Green Tomatoes.

Browse all of our Green Mango Recipes, and all of our Collections. Or explore our Mid Autumn recipes.

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Herby Masala Vadai with Tomato Mint Chutney

We are here, munching some Masala Vadai for afternoon tea. These vadai are chock-a-block full of  herbs – coriander and dill. Dill is an uncommon (but not unusual) herb in Indian cuisine, but its use here is wonderful.

The recipe is adapted from one in the book Tiffin by Rukmini Srinivas. We’ve been enjoying reading from it and now want to cook the recipes. The original includes flax seeds which is a very healthy addition, but we have left them out this time.

The recipe is very adaptable. The paste is made from urad, channa and toor dals with the herbs, onions, chilli and ginger added. I can imagine these made with slightly mashed broad beans (the Western type of broad beans), for example, or a coarse mash of peas. Finely chopped capsicums or finely grated carrots would  be a variation if you were sick of the herbs.

The Tomato Mint Chutney is delightful and pairs well with the vadai. Sometimes  I will use sweet chilli sauce, or a herby yoghurt dip, or an Indian green chutney.

A high speed blender like Vitamix is best for grinding the lentils if you don’t have an Indian grinder. Use one that has a tamper if you can, to minimise the number of times you have to scrape the sides down. One of the modern high speed food processors might also work well. Remember that you want a coarse mix, not a fine paste. Also the mix needs to be shaped into patties, so do not add water unless absolutely necessary.

Similar recipes include Aama Vadai, Broad Bean and Mint Vadai, Falafel, and Tattai Vadai.

Browse all of our Vadai and all of our Snacks. All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Mid Spring recipes.

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Vegetable Cutlets

I simply cannot keep away from Indian snacks.

I’ve been feeding my love of these snacks by slowly reading Rukmini Srinivas’ book Tiffin, and cooking my way through the recipes. Both activities, reading and cooking, are mouth-watering. The cutlets are packed with goodness (even though they are deep fried – ssshhhhhh). They are addictively crisp on the outside and soft and textured within.

Vegetable Cutlets are very popular snacks. They are often crumb-coated and always fried or deep fried for that great crisp texture. Cutlets are best served hot with chutney or sauce.

This recipe is the one that her Appa used to make, grinding the vegetables in an old meat grinder. When my father passed away, my brother inherited his old grinder – now I wish I had kept this ancient machine. The food processor does not quite match up to the quality produced by these (but I am nostalgic with memories. Of course the food processor will work, and does a surprisingly good job.)

You MUST have these with strong coffee and the Orange-Green Chilli Relish that I published a couple of days ago. It has a refreshing burst of citrus and is a sweet-spicy sauce. You could also serve the cutlets with a green chutney, hummus, any salsa, any tomato sauce, any yoghurt dip or sauce, or any of these other dips or sauces. Also this tart cumquat jam is particularly good with them as does this Green Tomato Fry Chutney.

It’s interesting how the Indian cuisine has adopted the words cutlet and chop for vegetable based dishes – not doubt (I assume), replicating the non-veg versions of their English invaders.

Similar recipes include Upma and Fried Upma, Horse Gram Vadai, Masala Vadai, Falafel, the Huge Vine Leaf Pakora, and Broad Bean Vada.

Browse all of our Indian Snacks, and our Patties. All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Late Spring recipes.

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Chakkotha Chaat | Herby, Spicy Pomelo Snack

Pomelo is quite underused in this country, although our S.E. Asian and Indian neighbours use it quite freely. You can find large pomelo easily in Asian supermarkets, and although they take just a little work to separate edible grapefruit-like pears from the humungously thick skin, every effort is worth it.

This recipe mixes the beautiful, pearly flesh with cooling summer ingredients and some spices. It is topped with crunchy Indian chaat toppings. Pomelo is known under many different names in India and is sometimes called grapefruit, but it is different to the more sour grapefruit variety of citrus fruit.

Pomelo really is the grandfather of citrus fruit! It pairs well with chillies, and with herbs like cilantro, mint, and basil. Tropical fruits go well too – pineapple, pawpaw, coconut raw mango and sweet mango. Try it with Spring vegetables, such as carrots, radishes, and onions. It is wonderful in pasta dishes! And is delicious in salads of all kinds as well as in sorbet. And if you can’t bear to waste any part of the fruit, try candying or making marmalade with the  rind.

Be warned, this particular dish is a spicy and tangy snack. Superb! A riot of flavours.

Similar recipes include Vegetable Cutlets, Indian Pomelo Salad, Pomelo and Carrot Salad, Pomelo and Avocado Salad, and Pomelo, Green Mango and Pea Eggplant Salad.

Browse all of our Pomelo recipes, and all of our Chaat. Our Indian recipes are here and our Indian Essentials here. Or browse our Late Spring dishes.

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