KAHWA AND MOONG DAL AND PANEER CHILAS
Indian food is known for its spicy flavors, so when Trupti of TheSpiceWhoLovedMe announced the theme for this month's Weekend Breakfast Blogging (WBB), started by Nandita of Saffron Trail, i was flooded with ideas. Ultimately, i decided on two breakfast dishes- one a drink and the other a sumptous breakfast for the weekend.
I have to confess- despite being in the U.S. of A, i am neither a coffee nor a tea lover. I usually start my day off with a glassful of whole milk (no skim milk for me)- with either Nesquick or Bournvita in it. That lasts me till i have my lunch. However the theme for this month's WBB immediately conjured up the image of the flavorful Kahwa loaded with spices. The reason- my memories of our family trip to Kashmir when i was 4 years old (you see, my family is fond of travelling and we have almost toured all of the Indian states). Yes, i dont remember a lot- but i do have some cherished memories of falling off the horse tons of times to scare me forever, of being bundled up under warm clothes by my parents, of lotuses blooming in the Dal lake, of the beautiful rides in the Shikara (houseboats), of the 12 year old Ruksana who earned her living by ferrying people in her Shikara and whose picture we still have in our family album, of the Char Chinar gardens, and last but not the least- of my younger sister Anki making a fuss about not putting on a sweater because she couldnt show off her frilly frocks. Another memory that jogs my mind is of a former Kashmiri neighbor of mine who used to make refreshing Kahwa. But i digress. Getting back to the kahwa recipe, the version that i made tastes a little different from the ones i have had before and have been adapted from the following websites:
Kahwa is a Kashmiri tea made from green tea leaves, with cardamom, saffron, honey, almonds and cinnamon as its ingredients. Kashmiris usually make Kahwa in special vessels called Samovars. The other version of the Kashmiri tea called Sheer Chai has milk, poppy seeds and baking soda along with the aforementioned ingredients. Usually, Kahwa and Sheer chai are served with freshly baked 'Telavoer', 'Katalama', 'Kuelcha', Choechi', 'Girda' or 'Bagirkhani'- small round Indian breads made from either wheat or maida and flavored with sesame, aniseed, cardamom or poppy seeds. The lingering salty taste of the Kahwa that i had as a child is in contrast to the one that i made (i probably had the Sheer chai sans the milk). My neighbor used to make Kahwa with a premade kahwa mix or tea powder with the leaves and spices mixed in it. However, since i couldnt avail myself of all the ingredients, i used the ones at hand and had the pleasure of being transported back in time to the beautiful valley of Kashmir among the snow covered mountains.
2 cups water
1 stick cinnamon (or cinnamon powder)
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
4 almonds (semi-crushed)
honey to taste
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp Green tea powder
a pinch of saffron
1. Boil 2 cups of water in a vessel and add the cinnamon and cardamom powder to it. (i used the cinnamon stick since i didnt have the powdered version. Let the flavors seep in and boil till you can smell the aroma of the cinnamon and cardamom.
2. Add the green tea powder and turn off the gas. Let the concoction sit for 2-3 minutes. (Dont overboil or add more green tea as it will taste bitter). Remove from the gas and drain into cups with a cardamom pod and crushed almonds in it. (traditionally the kahwa is not draind- instead of green tea powder- fresh or dried green tea leaves are used). I used the green tea (made in Sri Lanka) available at the local indian grocery store.
3. Add honey and/or sugar according to taste (i added part sugar and part honey). In a mortar, crush the saffron with some sugar and add it to the tea.
Last year when i went back for my wedding to India, my mom made these delicious, fulfilling, nutritious and proteinaceous chilas sans the fat. I once again decided to borrow this recipe from my aai (she saw it on some cooking show on T.V., so cant give due credit) and dished up these easy to make chilas as I had invited a friend's fiance for breakfast this weekend (since A's currently in India enjoying the comforts of her mom's cooking).
Moong Dal Chilas (pancakes) with Paneer and Potato stuffing
Serves 5 (Makes 12 chilas)
2 cups split green moong dal
salt to taste
1/2 tsp cumin powder
To be crushed into paste
6-7 green chilies
1 inch piece of ginger
For the stuffing:
100 gms paneer (1 cup)
2 small potatoes
finely diced coriander
yoghurt- mint and coriander chutney
1. Soak the moong dal 4-5 hours prior to making the chilas. Crush the dal in a mixer (albeit not completely) and add the salt, cumin powder and green chili-ginger paste to it.
2. For the stuffing, grate the paneer and dice the boiled potatoes into small pieces. Sprinkle some chat masala and coriander.
3. Either make sweet chutney with tamarind, dates and jaggery or use the ready made tamarind sauce available in the market. For the green chutney, crush 4-5 mint leaves, half a cup coriander, 3 green chilies, add salt and blend it with 3 tablespoons of yoghurt. Since i didnt have any mint leaves in the pantry, i used the ready made version of the Swad Mint-coriander chutney as a substitute.
4. Heat up a pan, and lightly grease it with some oil ( no more than 1/2 tsp) and pour the moong dal batter onto it. Spread around to make small round pancakes and let it cook. Flip over the other side when you see brown spots.
5. Remove from the stove and serve with the stuffing and the chutneys.
Variations:- you can substitute the paneer and the potatoes with boiled cauliflower, carrots and peas or any other vegetables of your choice.