Dig-In Meals – A column highlighting Indian spices in recipes that take traditional Indian food and add a western twist!
In most Indian home kitchens, meals are served all at once, rather than one course following the other. This is particularly prevalent in my Gujju household, where the main meal of rotli, daal, bhaat (rice), shaak (vegetable) is served every day. The vegetables and the daals vary, but everything else remains the same.
Thus, the farsan (salty snack) is what we would look forward to—it invariably hit the spot, and was the highlight of the meal. It wasn’t served every day, but more often than not, mom acquiesced. My mom would make muthiya, lilva ni kachori, handvo or white dhokla. This, mind you, was in addition to all the other “sides” like raita (yogurt mixture), kachumbar (usually just cucumbers, tomatoes, salt, pepper, cilantro and a dash of lime) and fresh amba-haldar (pickle).
Farsan loosely means snack — it can be fried or steamed, and many a time it makes the perfect light dinner. Here I am sharing some of my mom’s recipes with tweaks to suit my lifestyle in the Bay Area—some semi-homemade variations, and an option to make them healthier using the air fryer.
Palak Methi Na Muthiya
- 3 cups finely chopped spinach (palak)
- 1 ½ cups finely chopped fenugreek leaves (methi), fresh or frozen
- Salt to taste
- 2 tsp ginger-green chili paste
- 2 tbsp whole wheat flour (gehun ka atta)
- 4 tbsp besan (bengal gram flour)
- 1 tbsp semolina (rava/sooji)
- ½ tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
- ½ tsp of baking soda
- ½ tsp sugar
- ¼ tsp hing
- 2 ¼ tsp oil
- 1 tsp mustard seeds (rai)
- 1 tsp sesame seeds (til)
- Combine the palak and methi, add some salt and massage them a bit. Set aside for 5 mins. Squeeze out excess liquid and place in a bowl.
- Add the ginger-green chili paste, whole wheat flour, besan, semolina, cumin seeds, baking soda, sugar and salt. Add about 1 tsp of oil and knead into a soft dough. Add water sparingly as the leaves tend to release moisture.
- Oil your hands and divided the dough into 4 portions. Shape each one into a cylindrical log (6”x1” ish).
- Arrange these in a greased sieve (make sure they don’t touch each other), and steam for 20 mins.
- After 20 minutes, open the lid and insert the knife in the muthiya. If it comes out clean, they are properly steamed.
- Cool down for 10 minutes and cut it into pieces.
- Heat the remaining oil in a pan, add mustard seeds and till, once they crackle, add the hing. Toss the steamed muthiya, cook on all sides till they are browned.
Handvo batter: Alternatively, you can use Gits Handvo Mix, add the veggies and bake.
- 1 cup rice
- ½ cup chana dal
- ¼ cup toor dal
- 2 tbsp urad dal
- ½ cup yogurt
- 1 cup bottle gourd (lauki) grated
- ½ cup cabbage grated
- ¼ cup carrot grated
- ¼ cup french beans finely chopped
- ¼ cup potatoes
- 3 tbsp coriander finely chopped
- ½ tsp ginger paste
- 1 green chili finely chopped
- ½ tsp sugar
- ¼ tsp Kashmiri red chili powder
- ¼ tsp turmeric / haldi
- 2 tsp oil
- ¾ tsp salt
- 1 tsp Eno fruit salt or baking soda
- 3 tsp oil
- ¾ tsp mustard
- ½ tsp cumin (jeera)
- 1 tsp sesame (til)
- 5/6 curry leaves
- pinch of hing (asafetida)
- Soak 1 cup rice, ½ cup chana dal, ¼ cup toor dal, 2 tbsp urad dal overnight or about 6-8 hrs.
- Add ½ cup of yogurt and blend to a smooth but slightly coarse paste.
- Add all the vegetables you are using and the coriander.
- Add ½ tsp ginger paste, 1 green chili, ½ tsp sugar, ¼ tsp chili powder, ¼ tsp turmeric, 2 tsp oil and ¾ tsp salt.
- Mix well, making sure the batter is slightly thick (idli batter consistency).
- Now add 1 tsp Eno fruit salt or baking soda and mix gently.
- Pour some of the tempering in the batter and mix well.
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a baking pan by greasing all the sides.
- Pour the batter in the cake pan. Pour the remaining tempering on top.
- Bake for 30-45 mins.
Lilva ni Kachori
- 5 cups all-purpose flour (maida)
- salt to taste
- 3 tablespoons oil
- 6 tablespoons water
- 1 cup fresh or frozen pigeon pea (lilva)
- ½ cup peeled and grated potato
- 2 tbsp oil
- ½ tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- ¼ tsp asafetida optional
- 1 tsp ginger paste
- 1 tsp green chili paste
- ¼ tsp garam masala
- ¾ -1 tsp salt
- 1-2 tsp sugar
- 1-2 tbsp lemon juice
- ¼ tsp turmeric powder (haldi)
- 1 tbsp coriander-cumin powder (dhana jiru)
- ½ cup fresh coriander chopped
- ¼ tsp grated coconut fresh
- oil for deep frying
- Mix the flour and salt in a bowl. Add the oil and water and form a dough. It should be springy, not too hard.
- Cover the dough with a damp cloth.
- Coarsely grind the lilva in a food processor
- Heat oil in a wide pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add mustard and cumin seeds. When the seeds begin to sizzle, add hing and turmeric powder. Add the grated potato immediately. Mix well.
- Lower the heat and stir-fry the potato for about 2 minutes.
- Add the minced pigeon peas. Mix well. Cover the pan and let the vegetable cook for about 3 to 4 minutes over low heat.
- Take the pan off the heat. Add ginger, chilli, salt, and sugar. Mix well.
- When the mixture cools down a bit, add coconut, fresh coriander, lemon juice, dhana jiru, and garam masala. Mix it well.
Assembling the kachoris:
- Divide the dough into about 20 parts and roll each part into a ball. Cover with a damp cloth.
- Take a heaped spoon of the filling and shape it into balls, pressing gently with your fist.
- Roll the one part of the dough into a circle, about 3 inches in diameter.
- Place the filling ball in the middle of the circle. Gather up the edges to the middle. Pinch the edges together. The kachori at this stage will resemble a money bag. Remove any excess dough from the top by pinching it up. Roll the kachori gently into a proper round shape and place it on a greased tray.
- Prepare the rest of the kachoris in the same way.
- Deep fry in hot oil.
- They freeze up really nicely. Reheat in a 350-degree air fryer or oven to crisp them up again.
Mona Shah does social media strategy and content curation for C-suite executives. An avid traveler and foodie, she loves artisan food and finding hidden gems: restaurants, recipes, and destinations.