Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Banana Cake

We have a tradition at work. We take turns to bake birthday cakes or cupcakes for the birthday boy or girl! So I had started my search for a perfect banana cake recipe much before the actual birthday of my coworker W. W had wished for banana "cake".

When I was new in this country, I couldn't understand the difference between a banana bread and a banana cake. For me, anything sweet, that came out of a loaf pan - was a cake! When I had made a banana bread and called it a banana cake, my friend's 4 year old son had taken a strong objection. It's not a cake, it's a  bread - he had snapped! I was perplexed. For me, Bimbo, Wibs & Britannia were breads!!:-D

Anyhow, I had many recipes for banana "bread", but I was looking for a banana "cake". I went back to my newly discovered stash of Good Housekeeping recipes. When we got our first apartment after marriage, most of our neighbors were grand, old ladies. They became my friends. One of them was a lady named Nora. She always gave me her old magazines. After reading, when I went to return those magazines, she told me that they were for me, since I was a newly married bride, she encouraged me to make new dishes from the magazines. Whenever I baked something from those recipes, I always wanted to share my goodies with Nora and all other ladies. But  I never really did. I was too scared thinking of any allergies or ailments they might have. I kept those magazines for a long time. But later, I just clipped the recipes. I often wonder about those ladies. We had kept in touch for quite some time even after we had moved out of that apartment, but eventually we lost touch.

So a long story short, that's how I got a recipe for my banana cake.

Banana Cake
1 cup mashed overripe banana (about 3 overripe bananas)
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp nutmeg powder

1/2 cup or 1 stick butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup ricotta cheese (optional)

You will also need
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 F
2. Grease and flour cake pan. I used Bundt pan.
3. Beat eggs, sugar, butter and ricotta -  if using.
4. Add flour and banana mixture alternately while beating.
5. Stir in chocolate chips.
6. Pour the batter in the cake pan.
7. Bake for 30 - 45 minutes.
8. Coll in the pan for 1 minutes.
9. Invert and let it cool completely on a cooling rack.

Note -
1. Always use butter and eggs at room temperature for better results with cakes.
2. I sprinkled some powdered sugar using a sieve instead of using any icing.

Good Housekeeping or Family Circle

Miri of Pepper Mill
Miri of Pepper Mill passed away two weeks back. I was shocked. I really couldn't believe that the article was talking about the same enthusiastic food blogger that I knew through her blog. We never knew each other personally. So I didn't know her real name and I didn't know about her health. But I did know that she has a little daughter and she cooked with her just like I do with mine. I knew that we both started blogging around same time. I knew that she had spent her childhood in Mumbai and was familiar with my neighborhood. So whenever I posted something about  my neighborhood, she would leave a comment. I had bookmarked many of her recipes and had tried & blogged about her "poee"- a Goan bread. My heart goes out to her family - especially her little daughter. Her family will be in my prayers. RIP Miri!

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Spring Roll Dosa

Dosa vendors sell some outrageous combos of dosas in Mumbai. Spring Roll dosa, anyone?:-D

Spring Roll Dosa
1 recipe sada dosa
1 recipe indo chinese stuffing

Sriracha sauce

1. Make thin and crispy sada dosa.
2. While on the tawa/griddle, spread sriracha sauce.
3. Place indo chinese stuffing in the middle.
4. Close the dosa, cut the dosa roll into 2-3 pieces. Try to cut diagonally.
5. Serve with tomato ketchup.

Note -
1. For an extra kick, add few drops of sriracha sauce in the tomato ketchup as an accompaniment.
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Indo Chinese Stuffing

We can use this versatile stuffing for many Indo-chinese delicacies.

Indo Chinese Stuffing
2 cups shredded cabbage
1/4 cup spring onions, minced
1/2 cup peas (optional)
1 carrot, peeled and french cut
1 bell pepper, cored, thinly sliced
1/2 cup green beans, french cut

1 tbsp tomato ketchup (optional)
A splash of soy sauce
salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper

1 tbsp oil
1 tsp garlic paste

1. Heat a wok. Add oil. Saute garlic paste on a high flame.
2. Add cabbage. Stir fry on high heat.
3. Add veggies one after the other and stir fry.
4. Add salt, soy sauce, black pepper and ketchup - if using.
5. Stir fry and make sure there is no water remaining.

Note -
1. You can add tofu cubes or paneer cubes.
2. You can add boiled noodles.
3. For a spicier version, use red chili-garlic paste instead of garlic paste in tempering.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Potato Masala for Dosa

We call this stuffing as "Masala Doshachi Bhaaji" in Marathi. As a kid, I even loved to eat this with chapati. But stuff it inside a crispy dosa and serve it with chutney and sambar for a perfect snack.

Potato Masala
4-5 Medium Yukon gold potatoes, boiled, peeled, cut/lightly mashed
salt to taste
A pinch of sugar (optional)

1 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp asafoetida
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 sprigs of curry leaves, torn
1 tsp urad daal
1/2 tsp chana daal
2-3 byadgi dry chilies, halved
1 cup thinly sliced onion

0. Pressure cook potatoes, peel and cut into pieces
1. Heat oil in a kadai or wok.
2. Add all the seeds,spices,  chilies and leaves. As they splutter, add onion. Saute till onion is soft. Sprinkle water if needed so onion does not stick to the pan.
3. Add cut/lightly mashed potatoes, salt and sugar if using.
4. Cover and let it cook till all the ingredients are mixed together.

Note -
1. I love to squeeze half of lemon after the bhaaji is cooked. You can do it if you like.
2. Addition of a pinch of sugar is optional.
3. Sometimes I substitute butternut squash for potatoes just for a variation. In that case, do not use sugar at all since squash is sweet.
4. If using this bhaaji as a stuffing for dosa, I mash the boiled/peeled potatoes lightly. If this bhaaji is served as an accompaniment with chapatis for a daily meal, I cut the boiled/peeled potatoes.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Plain Dosa

I generally freeze the dosa batter in the freezer. I have to thaw it in the fridge a day before but then it comes really handy.

Sada Dosa
Plain Dosa
1 recipe Dosa batter

oil for frying

Suggested Accompaniments
Coconut Chutney

1. Heat a nonstick or cast iron tawa/pan/griddle
2. Dab a papertowel in oil and scrub it around the pan.
3. Add a ladleful of the batter and spread it in concentric circles outwards.
4. Drizzle oil around the dosa.
5. Cover and let it cook till it is brown from one side and cooked from inside.
6. Serve immediately with chutney and sambar

1. After the dosa is cooked, drizzle some ghee over the dosa to make Ghee Sada Dosa.

Note -
1. The pan should be adequately hot vefore pouring the batter.

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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Dosa Batter

Sometimes, when I browse through my own blog, I get astonished that I haven't blogged some of the most ubiquitous recipes around my kitchen. Today I am sharing the recipe for dosa batter since I use it over and over to create many avatars of our wonderful Indian crepe.

Dosa Batter
1/2 cup white urad daal
2 cups rice
1/2 tsp methi/fenugreek seeds

1. Soak all the ingredients in plenty of water for 8 hours.
2. Drain and grind to a smooth paste adding very little water as necessary for grinding.
3. Pour in a huge bowl. Cover and let it ferment for 8 hours.
4. Now the dosa batter is almost ready. Add salt and water as needed to adjust the consistency of the batter.

Note -
1. After fermenting, I generally freeze half of the batter in  a freezer safe container. Whenever in future I plan to make dosas, I move the frozen batter from freezer to fridge to thaw. It takes at least 10+ hours for the batter to thaw completely. So plan accordingly.
2. In order to create the crispy dosas, you need daal to rice ratio as 1 :4 or in other words, you need to use more rice compared to daal. If you want soft dosas, reduce the amount of rice.

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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Dhobi Ghat & a cake

Kayani's cake

We watched Kiran Rao's Dhobi Ghat today. I absolutely loved the movie and I think everyone who loves Mumbai will love this movie. Amir Khan and the actresses who played Shai and Yasmin were fantastic. I was really impressed by Prateik. He is his mother's son after all.

This is not your usual Bollywood Masala film. But I think the director has tried to capture the pulse of the city - Mumbai's changing skyline, constant construction work, crowd, traffic, train tracks, Arabian sea, Ganapati Visarjan, cosmopolitan culture and of course Dhobi Ghat. There is a character of an old lady who is Amir Khan's neighbor. She  has a stunned expression throughout the movie. A friend told me that it seems this old lady is the director's interpretation of Mumbai - a stunned city!

In the "deleted scenes" of the DVD, Kiran rao talks about the yellow cake from Kayani Bakery that Yasmin cuts for her birthday. Last time when I went back home, I - in my own eccentricity - did a blind taste test for Kayani and Merwan Mawa cakes. and the winner was - in my humble opinion anyway- Merwan's!!

Merwan's cake
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Friday, February 10, 2012

Bhenda Upkari

Okra is my most favorite vegetable. Todays recipe is from the South Canara GSB kitchens.

Bhenda Upkari
2 cups chopped okra/ladies fingers/bhendi/bhenda, both ends cut
salt to taste

1 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp asafoetida
2-3 red chilies, halved
1/2 tsp urad daal

fresh coconut

1. Heat oil in preferably an iron kadai or nonstick wok.
2. Add all the ingredients for tempering.
3. As daal changes the color to reddish, add cut okra. Stir fry till it is cooked.
4. Add salt to taste and fresh coconut to garnish.
5. Serve with daali tauy and plain rice.

Note -
1. You can cover the kadai with a lid and cook the okra. However stir fry method makes okra less slimy and crisp.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Batatya Kismoor

Boiled potato is always handy. There are just limitless possibilities. For serving as a salad, try making gojju or this kismoor. Simple and delicious!

Amma's Batatya Kismoor
Potato salad
2 medium potatoes, boiled, peeled lightly mashed
1/4 cup finely chopped red/purple onion
2 green chilies, finely chopped
salt to taste
2 tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed

1 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp asafoetida/hing
1 red chili, halved
2 sprigs curry leaves, torn

1. Mix all the ingredients except tempering.
2. Heat coconut oil in a small saucepan. Add the tempering ingredients.
3. Drizzle the sizzling oil over the salad. Mix well.
4. Serve as an accompaniment with daaLi tauy, rice and any upkari.

Note -
1. You can chop the potatoes if you like. The recipes says to mash it "lightly". So do not make a mush. You should be able to see the pieces of potatoes.
2. For the authentic flavor, coconut oil is a must.

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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Kolhapuri Doodh Cold-drink

I tasted this unique sounding milkshake at my friend's place. As always, she beamed with pride explaining that it's a special drink from "her" Kolhapur. ;-) Well, I know that feeling, I think I do the same when I talk of "my" Mumbai!;-)  Of course, I was ready with my tiny recipe diary that I carry in my purse wherever I go!

Kolhapuri Doodh Cold-Drink
Milk shake from Kolhapur
2 cups milk (whole milk preferred for richer taste)
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp custard powder (preferably vanilla flavored

1 cup vanilla ice cream

1. Mix 1/4 cup cold milk with custard powder. Set aside.
2. Bring remaining milk and sugar to boil. Switch the gas to low, add custard powder paste.
3. Keep stirring till it is thick.
4. Refrigerate till cold.
5. Right before serving, blend with vanilla ice cream and serve.

Notes -
1. You can add more milk if the mixture is too thick after blending.
2. For richer taste, use whole milk. But I used skim milk as custard powder makes it thick anyway.

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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Anasazi Beans Curry

I love to browse through the Whole Foods Beans, Legumes and Grains bins. The best thing about it is that I can scoop out just a small quantity to give a try rather than buying a huge pack of unknown stuff and be stuck with it for the eternity. Anyway, during one such adventurous browsing, I came across these Anasazi beans. They looked so pretty. Without knowing their characteristics, I decided to give it a shot. Later, I came to know that these are the ancient beans which were cultivated thousands of years ago in the southwestern US (Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado) by Anasazi Indians.

I used these beans to make Punjabi style curry using ginger-garlic paste, tomatoes, onions and garam masala. They tasted more or less like Rajma. However after getting cooked, that beautiful pattern on the beans disappeared.

More information about Anasazi beans -

Anasazi Beans Curry
1 cup dry Anasazi beans, soaked for 8 hours, drained
salt to taste
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp coriander-cumin powder
1 tsp garam masala

Grind to paste
1/2 cup cilantro
2-3 green chilies
3-4 cloves garlic
1" ginger

1 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes

1 tbsp chopped cilantro

1. Heat oil in a pressure pan.
2. Add turmeric powder and onions. Saute till onion is soft. Add green masala paste. Saute for 5 minutes.
3. Add tomatoes. Saute again for 5 minutes.
4. Now, add chili powder, garam masala, coriander-cumin powder and drained beans. Stir for 2 minutes.
5. Add 2 cups water. Pressure cook for 3-4 whistles.
6. Let the pressure drop of its own. Open the lid. Add salt and let it simmer.
7. Adjust the consistency by adding more water or letting water evaporate for thickish curry.
8. Garnish with chopped cilantro.
9. Serve with plain rice and a lemon wedge.

Note -
1. Soak the beans for at least 8 hours so they are rehydrated before adding to the curry.

Ancient Anasazi Beans

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Monday, February 6, 2012

Dahi Bundi/Boondi ka Raita

This is one of the simplest raitas around. I like to keep some boondi crunchy in this raita.

Dahi Bundi/Boondi Raita
दही बुंदी
1/2 cup + 1/4 cup plain salted/khari boondi
1 cup plain yogurt, whisked
salt to taste
1/2 tsp sugar (optional)
a generous pinch of chili powder
Agenerous pinch of chaat masala
A generous pinch of dried mint leaves (optional)
1. Whisk yogurt, salt and sugar - if using.
2. Add 1/2 cup boondi & set aside.
 3. Just before serving, mix the raita. Add a splash of water if it is too thick.
4. Stir in the remaining 1/4 cup boondi and all the garnish
Note -
1. Do not make this raita too much in advance.
2. You save 1/4 cup boondi at end to add some crunch.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sarangyache Kalvan - Pomfret Curry

I have eaten this curry many times at my friend's place. So decided to make it since it's lot simpler than the usual coconut based curry as there is no grinding involved (since you get readymade coconut milk these days!). This is a CKP style curry. I find one major difference in CKP style cooking and that is marinating fish with green chutney whether it's used for frying or for making curries. It does make a difference.

Chromas - A reader for this post - shared that similar curry is made in Pathare Prabhu community as well. Thank you, Chromas for sharing this information.

Sarangyache Kalwan
सरंग्याचे  कालवण
Pomfret Curry
1 medium pomfret, cut into around 7-8 pieces
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
salt to taste
1 tsp chili powder
1 cup coconut milk

Grind to a smooth paste
1/2 cup cilantro
3-4 green chilies (more or less per taste)
1/2" ginger, peeled & chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 tsp tamarind paste

2 tsp oil
3-4 cloves garlic, peeled & smashed
1 small onion, finely minced about 1/4 cup

1. Clean, Rinse and pat dry pomfret pieces. Marinate with salt, turmeric powder, chili powder and green masala paste. Cover and set aside.
2. Heat oil in a wide saucepan so pomfret pieces can be kept in a single layer.
3. Add garlic and onion. Saute for 5 minutes. Let onion be browned.
4. Place marinated pomfret pieces along with marinade.
5. Add coconut milk and bring to boil.
6. Add more salt as needed. Simmer for 5 minutes.
7. Switch off the gas. Serve with plain rice.

Note -
1. This curry should not be too spicy.
2. I used reduced fat coconut milk (Whole foods brand)

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Saturday, February 4, 2012

Paati cha ane phudino walo cha - Gujarati Herbal Tea

We call lemongrass "Gavti chaha"(गवती  चहा ) in Marathi and "Paati cha"(પાતી ચા ) in Gujarati. Unlike Thai cuisine where they use the lemongrass roots, we use the blade like green leaves.

My mom's gavti chaha recipe is simple. Just add lemongrass greens in the boiling tea and it's ready. During winter mom always adds gavti chaha and ginger in her daily tea.

My MIL's paati cha recipe is little different. She adds fresh mint leaves and peepar (a fresh herb) along with lemongrass greens. It definitely gives a distinctly different flavor. I have not seen peepar here but add lemon grass with mint in your daily tea and notice the refreshingly different taste.

Paati cha ane Phudino walo cha
1 1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk
few stalks of lemon grass (green part)
1 stalk of mint
peepar/peepri mool (optional)

sugar per taste
1 1/2 tsp Wagh Bakri Chai (or any other brand of your choice!)

1. Place water and herbs in a saucepan. Add sugar now or later.
2. Bring to boil. Add tea powder.
3. Simmer for few minutes.
4. Switch off the gas. Cover to steep for 5 minutes. Pass through the strainer. Discard the herbs.
5. Add boiled/warm milk and sugar to taste.

Note -
1. If you like, you can add milk after water is boiled and simmer it together.
2. This recipe makes 2 cups tea.
3. If you don't like your tea to be too milky, reduce the amount of milk.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Kobi nu Loatwalu Shaak

My MIL introduced me to Gujarati style vegetables cooked with flour. In my Marathi family, we cook such vegetables with besan - chickpea flour. My Gujarati family uses "vada nu loat" instead of besan. So each method produces its own unique taste. This vada nu loat is somewhat similar to Maharashtrian ThalipeeTh BhajNi.

Kobij nu Loatwalu shaak
Cabbage with flour
1 small cabbage, finely shredded
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 cup vada nu loat

2 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp asafoetida

2 tbsp cilantro/coriander leaves, chopped

1. Heat oil in a nonstick kadai or a wok. Add mustard seeds, asafoetida and turmeric powder.
2. As the seeds splutter, add cabbage. Saute for 5 minutes.
3. Stir fry till cooked. Add more oil if needed.
4. After getting cooked, add salt, chili powder.
5. Now sprinkle vada nu loat flour, a spoonful at a time, while stirring the cabbage mixture.
6. Keep sauteing till the shaak is dry. Add more oil if needed.
7. Garnish cilantro.

1. This shaak requires more oil than usual. I like not to use oil and hence my shaak gets very dry. I like to serve it with plain yogurt instead of exceeding oil intake.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Valor Shakkariya nu Shaak

I thought of sharing this Gujarati shaak because the combination of valor(vaal papdi/ghevda) and shakkariyu (sweet potato/ratale) sounded very unique. Ajmo or owa is a mandatory ingredient for this recipe.

Vaalor-Shakkariya nu shaak
2 cups vaalor, strings removed, split and torn into 2" pieces
1 smallish sweet potato, peeled and cut, approx 2 cups pieces
salt to taste
1 tsp ginger-green chili paste
1 tsp coriander-cumin seed powder/dhaana jiru
1 tsp chili powder
3/4 cup water

1 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp ajmo/owa/ajwain/ajowan
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp asafoetida
1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1. Rinse the vegetables. String vaalor, remove both ends, split and tear into 2" pieces. Set aside.
2. Peel sweet potatoes, cut into small pieces. Soak in water till ready to use.
3. Heat oil in a saucepan. Add the ingredients for tempering.
4. As they splutter, add vadies - if using. Fry for 1 minute.
5. Now add veggies, chili ginger paste, coriander cumin powder, chili powder. Saute for 2 minutes.
6. Add water. Bring to boil.
7. Switch the gas to low. Cover with a lid. Let it cook. Check from time to time to make sure water is not evaporated and veggies are not sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add more water if needed.
8. When vegetables are cooked, add salt to taste.
9. Add more water if you want gravy or let the water evaporate if you want a dry shaak.
10. Serve with rotla and athanu(pickle)

Note -
1. If desired, first fry vadies in oil, set aside and then add them to the simmering gravy. I skipped this step to avoid extra oil.
2. Sugar or jaggery is not needed since sweet potato is sweet enough. If you still desire more sweetness, you can always add some sugar/jaggery to taste.
3. Adjust chili ginger paste and red chili powder according to the desired heat/spice level.



There are innumerable types of string beans in India. The above vegetable is called "Vaalor" in Gujarati. We also call it a type of "Ghevda" or "Val papdi" in Marathi.

You have to remove both ends and remove the strings. Split the vegetable in halves and tear into 2" pieces. You use both the beans and the green pods.

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Ragi Nankatai

When we were in India, Gudiya enjoyed Britannia's Ragi biscuits. I couldn't find them at our local Indian stores here. When I was chatting with my MIL, she suggested Ragi Nankatais. I decided to add cinnamon powder and cocoa powder to disguise them as chocolate cookies.

Ragi Nankatais
Ragi Flour Cookies
Beat together
1/4 cup Shortening (I used Sprectum brand)
1/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp yogurt

Mix together
1 cup ragi/nachni flour
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
A pinch of salt
1 tbsp cocoa powder

1. Beat shortening, sugar and yogurt together.
2. Add dry mixture carefully
3. Beat to make a dough consistency.
4. Preheat oven to 350 F
5. Make uniform balls. Pat them to make small discs
6. Bake in the oven for 16 - 18 minutes.

Note -
1. Since these cookies do not have all purpose flour or wheat flour, they have a distinct Ragi flavor. It may be an acquired taste.
2. The above proportion gave me about 2 dozen small nankatais.

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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Chora daal ni Vadi

My MIL narrated a funny story while sharing this family recipe of chora daal ni vadi. When she was a new bride, the whole family decided to go to the ancestral home in the village. My MIL and her MIL decided to make these vadies since it was summer time. They had made such vadies many times before on the terrace of their Mumbai apartment. So making the vadies was not a big deal. They made the vadies on a big scale and spread them in the backyard and went about to do the other chores. After an hour or so my MIL peeped out of the window and was shocked to see the two cows devouring all the vadies. By the time she reached there, all the vadies were gone!! So the moral of the story is - keep an eye on these irresistible vadies as they are drying. Other animals may find them equally irresistible!!;-)

Chora ni Daal ni Vadi
1 big cucumber, grated, squeeze out water as much as possible
1 cup chora daal, soak for 2-3 hours, drained and ground coarsely
salt to taste
1/2 tsp asafoetida
1 tsp green chili-ginger paste
1 tsp garlic paste

1. Soak chora daal for 2-3 hours. Drain and grind coarsely with asafoetida, chili-ginger paste, garlic and salt.
2. Do not use water for grinding.
3. Stir in grated cucumber. Squeeze out as much water as possible.
4. Spread a cloth in the backyard or a terrace or a deck, making sure that it's a very sunny day. [and cows are not around!!!!!;-)
5. Drop half a spoonful of batter. Let it dry completely till it's crisp. You may have to keep it in sunshine for at least 3 days. Take it in during nights.
6. After it is completely dry with no drop of moisture, store in an airtight container and use as needed

Note -
1. I have not yet ventured into making these vadies. We make something similar called "SaanDge" in Maharashtra using kohLa or ash gourd. The recipe is different. I will share it soon.

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