Nov 29, 2007


Don't you think that our demands and cravings change with age? When we were kids, we would ask for toys and dolls. As we grow up, they change to books and CD's. Later, they become more pocket money, requests to go out on overnight picnics, walkmans, the list goes on and on. If you grow up to be fond of cooking, take up blogging, and land in the US, you will definitely crave for food items that you don't find here. I tried finding bhajani in all nearby Indian shops to no avail. Naturally, it was topmost on my demand list when my parents came to US. Bhajani is a special flour made by frying and grinding different types of daal and spices. It is used to make Thalipeeth and Bhajaniche wade.

Of all the things that I missed and craved for after coming to the US, thalipeeth topped the list. Thalipeeth is a spicy Indian bread, mostly prepared in Maharashtra, made from bhajani flour. I often dreamt of them. I saw those brown tasty, spicy breads with ragged edges and little holes. I remembered devouring one after other steaming hot thalipeeth with tasty ghee and butter. The combination was divine. Few months back, a friend's mom had come from India and she invited us over for tea and snacks. We were sitting in the living room when the familiar aroma of garma garam thalipeeth wafted from her kitchen. A minute later, she presented us with the tastiest thalipeeths I had ever eaten. I forgot all my manners, didn't say 'No' even once when she asked me if I wanted more, and devoured as many thalipeeths as I could, leaving a few for her family and my other friends.

My mom got bhajani flour for me, she even helped me make yummy thalipeeth. Bhajani can be made at home by roasting and grinding 2cups bajri, 1 cup jowar, 1/2 cup chana daal/harbhare, 1/2 cup urad daal, 1/4 rice, 1/4 cup wheat, jeera, and coriander seeds. The process seems cumbersome, so it's easy to buy store bought bhajani to make these spicy breads.




  1. 4 cups bhajani flour
  2. 2 medium onions - chopped very fine
  3. 1 tsp ajwain seeds
  4. Pinch of asafetida
  5. 2 tsp red chilli powder (Reduce if you are not accustomed to spicy food)
  6. 1 tsp turmeric powder
  7. 1/2 tsp garam masala
  8. Salt to taste
  9. Oil


  1. Mix all the above ingredients except oil, using water. Make a firm dough.
  2. Heat a pan over high flame.
  3. Make small portions of the above dough and round up into small balls.
  4. Take a plastic sheet and lay a dough ball on it. Start spreading the dough with your palm, while turning the plastic sheet. Make a circle. Once done, make 4-5 small holes in the dough with your finger.
  5. Pour 1 tsp oil on the heated pan. Take the plastic sheet in your left hand, invert it on top of your right hand, gently pull out the plastic from spread dough, and place the dough on the pan. Quite a task!
  6. Pour some oil on the sides and into the holes. Fry for 1 minute. Invert the thalipeeth and cook the other side for a minute. Again flip it and cook for 30 secs.
  7. Remove from pan and serve hot with yogurt. You can add some ghee on top of the thalipeeth.

Verdict: Thalipeeth topped with ghee and served with curd, straight off the stove is the ultimate divine food. The dough spreading process can be mastered with some practice and the results are great.

Nov 5, 2007

Tikhat Shankarpale with memories of Dussera

(JFI has a special festive series going on this month to celebrate the spirit of Diwali. Inspired by Vee this month and originated from Indira, this month's JFI promises to bring lots of Diwali sweets mixed with some savory goodies. This is my contribution to JFI:Diwali in which I share my memories of a special Marathi custom and the recipe for your Diwali celebration.)

Tikhat or savory shankarpali has been my favorite Diwali snack. So much so, that I keep looking for reasons to make them. During Dussera this year, I celebrated online bhondla with a couple of friends. This group is quite instrumental and active in celebrating all Marathi festivals, and being scattered all over US, these females celebrate the festivals via online messengers. So far we have successfully celebrated e-mangalagaur, e-Ganpati, and e-bhondla.

Maharashtrians celebrate Bhondla on any day during Dussera. Newly married or unmarried girls dress up and sing special bhondla songs around an elephant drawing. The drawing is mostly made on a 'pat' or flat wooden platform. The songs are fun to sing and impossible to forget. I love humming them once in a while. I have attended numerous bhondlas in my childhood. It is one festival I used to await in the year. My building is blessed with a big playground or 'angan', so there was no problem in celebrating this sweet tradition. I remember getting ready for the bhondla wearing a pretty frock and garlands all over my hair. I remember singing the songs with my building friends and aunties. However, the most awaited and best part of the bhondla is clearly the 'khirapat' or prasad. All participating members are supposed to cook a special dish and store it in a covered dish. After the song singing, the members sit around the wooden platform and guess each other's dishes. Every member is supposed to provide clues such as whether it is a sweet/savory dish, chat item, baked item, and so on. The goodies are then distributed to everyone.

Our online bhondla celebration was a total hit; we began the celebration by singing an arti for the goddess. Next, each member sang a bhondla song. I had made tikhat shankarpale as the prasad, and within no time my friends guessed what I had made. I am not asking you to guess the recipe though:) During Diwali, we make two types of shankarpale for the faral: the sweet and the savory ones. These savory shankarpale are a great tea time snack.

Tikhat Shankarpali
(Makes a small batch of shankarpale)

  1. 1/2 cup all purpose flour/maida
  2. 1/2 tsp ajwain seeds/ova
  3. 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  4. 1/4 tsp red chilli powder
  5. Salt to taste
  6. 1 tsp hot oil/mohan

  1. Knead all the above ingredients in a firm dough.
  2. Cover and let sit for 1/2 hour.
  3. Heat oil in a pan.
  4. Roll the dough like a chapati and cut into squares/rhombus.

  5. Fry each piece in oil and drain on paper towel.
  6. Store in an airtight container.
Though Bhondla has become a not-so-popular tradition and people are soon forgetting it, there are a lot of people making efforts to save it from becoming extinct. Marathi mandals across Pune and Thane have organized mass bhondlas involving 100 or more people. I am definitely going to take efforts to see to it that this tradition stays alive. I had an excellent time celebrating this online bhondla, the only problem was I could not share my savory snacks with my dear friends.

A very Happy and Prosperous Diwali to all my readers! May the new year bring happiness, light, knowledge, and wisdom to you. Have a happy and safe Diwali!

Nov 2, 2007

The purple beauty

Till the time I came to the US, I stayed away from brinjals. They were just another vegetable that I detested. My mom made the best stuffed brinjals, but I did not touch the sticky vegetable and safely ate the gravy. As for long brinjals, I once found little worms while eating baingan ka bharta, so you can imagine how I felt every time someone served me that.

Things changed after coming here. The first thing I learnt about brinjals is that they are called eggplants here. Then there were so many varieties of eggplants to choose from - long, small, Japanese, fat/cylindrical eggplants. Being a vegetarian there are very few options one has if you have to eat out. There were times when we our dinner expeditions resulted in returning back after eating only soup or salad. If we were lucky, the restaurant would have 1-2 vegetarian dishes. Inevitably, one of the dish would contain eggplant as the main ingredient. No matter which cuisine we tried, eggplant followed us everywhere.

In a popular Chinese bistro, I kept aside all my reservations about eating eggplants and tasted their heavenly stir-fried eggplant. At a pizza place, we fell in love with a pizza topped with Japanese eggplant. In a Mediterranean grill, we consumed large quantities of eggplant mixed with scrambled eggs. Slowly and surely, I started liking this vegetable. As and when I tasted all these divine dishes featuring the purple beauty, I would shop for eggplants and try new dishes using them. Pavani's Eggplant in coconut gravy was an instant success; Nupur's Wangi bhaat was licked down to morsels. However, there was one dish that I could never get right - stuffed eggplants. I faced trouble every time I made it; either the masala wouldn't turn out right, the eggplants wouldn't cook completely, or the masala and eggplant would not gel well.

Mom helped me make perfect, tasty stuffed eggplants. Nothing went wrong this time. Here's the recipe:

Stuffed eggplants/ Bharleli Wangi



  1. 9-10 brinjals/small eggplants/baby eggplants

  2. 2 medium onions - chopped very fine

  3. 6 tbsp peanut powder

  4. Salt to taste

  5. 1 1/2 tsp red chilli powder (Go easy on this if you are not comfortable with spicy food)

  6. 2 1/2 tsp garam masala powder

  7. 1 tsp mustard seeds

  8. Pinch of asafetida

  9. 1/4 tsp turmeric powder


  1. Wash the eggplants and make one horizontal and one vertical cut on one side of the eggplant. The cut should be such that you can easily open the eggplant for stuffing. Keep the cut eggplants in a bowl of water.

  2. Prepare a masala by mixing together the chopped onions, peanut powder, salt, red chilli powder, and garam masala powder.

  3. Stuff the prepared masala in each eggplant. If you still have some masala remaining, preserve it to add to the vegetable.

  4. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan. Add 1 tsp mustard seeds; once it splutters, add pinch of asafetida, and 1/4 tsp turmeric powder. Mix well.

  5. Next add the stuffed eggplants, the remaining masala, and around 1/4 cup water. Mix well.

  6. Cover and cook on medium heat till the eggplants are cooked.

  7. Garnish with some chopped coriander leaves. Serve hot with chapati/puri/bhakri/rice.

I served this vegetable with Jowar bhakri, Nupur's Kothimbir wadi, and some onion slices.

Nov 1, 2007

Tried, tested, and devoured

Many thanks to my fellow bloggers for providing such delicious recipes. Here's what I have tried, loved, and made again and again.

  1. Nupur's Kothimbir Wadi, Wangi bhaat, and Lasuni Daal Palak
  2. Manasi's Vegetable Sambhar
  3. Coffee's Samosa
  4. Sia's Coriander chutney
  5. Anupama's Kathi rolls
  6. Priya's Alu palak
  7. Cooker's Cornflakes chivda
  8. Jasmine's Mushroom Capsicum masala

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