Vegetable Manchurian with Garlic gravy

The Indian Chinese is our favourite go-to when the body craves for some salty, err, tasty treats. When we pass by the Chinees stalls on the road and the China Garden hotel (I am sure every city has several by the same name), the aroma makes me want to linger. And stare at the man behind the stall making his manchurian swirl in his wok or tossing the fried rice up in the air, to expertly catch it at the right moment as it lands back in his wok. And those red dragons painted on the stalls. Oh, I want to go to one right now.

Vegetable manchurian

Never mind. We love to make the Vegetable Manchurian in the thick garlicky gravy at home. It is without the drama of the banian-clad man on a chinese stall, but tastes excellent. I also add a pinch of ajinomoto in the dough and gravy, we love that umami taste. But you can totally skip it. My husband believes it is safe and naturally occurring in many a foodstuff like mushrooms etc., and I take his word on that.

Generally veg manchurian goes well with any rice or noodles. Last Sunday we ate it with some boiled pasta, sautéed in butter and some herbed red sauce. It was a good lunch!

Vegetable Manchurian with Gravy

Manchurin gravy noodles

What you will need :

For the Manchurian balls :

  • 3/4 cup cabbage, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup cauliflower, washed and chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped carrot
  • 4 tablespoon maida
  • 2 tablespoon corn flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon dark soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or more as per taste
  • a pinch of ajinomoto (totally optional, but I love the taste)
  • a little water, if required for kneading
  • Oil for frying

For the gravy :

  • 7-8 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
  • 1 small onion, chopped finely
  • 2 teaspoon oil
  • 2 teaspoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon freshly crushed pepper powder
  • 3 tablespoon tomato ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon corn flour mixed in 1 and 1/4 cup of water
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • a pinch of Himalayan chilli for flavor
  • a pinch of ajinomoto (totally optional, but I love the taste)

Spring onion greens for decoration.

What to do :

  1. Keep all the vegetables washed and chopped, ready to use in a large bowl. To it add all the ingredients as mentioned in Manchurian balls, except the water.
  2. Knead it all together to form balls. I needed about 1 tablespoon of water. It should be a sticky dough which can be roughly rolled into balls.
  3. In a large kadhai, heat some oil and fry these Manchurian balls on low heat. Drain on kitchen paper and let them cool.
  4. To make the gravy, in a thick bottomed vessel, heat some oil. Fry the garlic and add the onions. Cook till translucent.
  5. Then add rest of the ingredients mentioned in the gravy and let it simmer on low heat for 5-7 minutes. The sauce will begun to thicken.
  6. Once fairly thick, take the sauce off the heat and add the fried manchurian balls.
  7. Sever hot with some fried rice or noodles.
  8. I made some pasta noodles (cooked as per instructions on the packet) and topped it with some herbed red sauce. Recipe here.

Noodles with marinara

Notes :

  1. You can also use beans and your choice of vegetables, but keep the proportion same.
  2. Ajinomoto is entirely optional, skip it if you don’t like. But I am sure your Chinese guy uses it. So once in a while it is okay to use.
  3. If the manchurian balls are coming apart in the oil, knead it well with a little more water and always cook on low flame so that the vegetables get cooked till the centre.

Manchrian with noodles

Wonder what a book release feels like?

Sonali mami

To be very honest with you, I have always wanted to write. Ever since I was a little girl who had sent a silly eight-line poem to the Barbie magazine, I wanted to write. But I had no idea what I could write about. Someone once suggested that I write for the Chartered Accountant magazine, but I found that really boring. So for a long time I did nothing, except write in my diary occasionally and write a few letters and notes.

Then about two years back I started blogging about food. And little tidbits of life with it. As life went on, I searched my memory for fragments of story and wrote about it. Sometimes coherently, at times random little stuff stitched together with words. I am not sure what the reader gets of it, but I find great joy in writing.

Then about three-four months back came a period when nothing I wrote made sense to me. I read a lot of blogs online, columns in newspapers and literary journals. After reading those, my words felt insufficient. My ideas naive. I started thinking that everyone writes so much better than me; perhaps I should stop this part of the blog and only continue to write about baking.

Back when I was a teenager I nurtured the dreams of becoming a journalist. For a while. But at that time I could never write anything more than the school essays. My best friend Ketki used to write short stories and poems and I thought if I can’t write even that much, may be I should think of another career line. And eventually, I let it go and became a CA instead.

Then two months back, my husband’s aunt – Sonali mami had come to India from US with her two teenage kids. She is a published author and her second book is on the way. One evening while I was feeding Arjun, she asked me – “So you want to write a book?”.

I fumbled, and started thinking when had I told that to her? At the back of my head I have perhaps thought that I want to publish a book, sometime way in the future. I have no idea what it would be about. How did she find out?

Sonali mami realised that I am feeling embarrassed about it and she told me to relax. She said that I should not think that I am thinking of writing a book because she has. In fact if there has to be any connection, it should be a positive one. I should benefit from her experience in writing, editing and publishing.

She told me a story of how she wanted to be a journalist when she was studying, but the girl her elder brother dated was also a journalist. Afraid that everyone might say that she wanted to become a journalist just because of her brother’s girlfriend, she dropped the idea and went for architecture instead. But writing did not leave her mind and her heart. She did technical writing for a software company and simultaneously worked on her first book –  The Bollywood Affair, which got excellent reviews everywhere. Even from the industry bigwigs like Kristina Higgins, Nalini Singh and even my favourite Nora Roberts. It also got nominated for the RITA and the RT Reviews choice which are the two highest awards in the genre. 

Now her second book The Bollywood Bride was released last week and it is so beautiful. The entire weekend I lived with Ria and Vikram, their story, feeling their love and pain, their guilt and euphoria, and itched to finish the book so that I find out how it ends. But I wanted to linger, savour the lovely Indian-America wedding setting. The book reaches out to you, so much so that this Monday morning I am wearing a turquoise kurta like Ria wore in the book. 🙂

Sometimes it is difficult to imagine that a very close family member is really a published author, at an international level. Sonali mami’s best friend is the producer of the movie Mr. and Mrs. Iyer. (Remember that one? My friend and I watched it together when we were 18 or so and oh how we loved it!) and her sister-in-law is the fabulous Irawati Harsh- another stellar actress. Sonali mami has access to a lot of Bollywood gossip and I lurk around her to hear some of it. So it wont be surprising if these gorgeous books get made into movies. The story already has enough masala for a movie. 

And if that isn’t enough, she has beautifully raised two kids while having a full time job till now. When we were thinking of planning  a child my husband would often (reassuringly?) tell me that I will be as good a mother as Sonali mami is.

I don’t know about that, but several years later, if I ever write a book, she will be on my list of dedications. Sonali Dev is a living example of achieving your dreams while managing a job, two kids, a husband who is travelling 10 days a month and a cute little dog Simba.

sonali books

For now, let me snap out of the dream world I lived in for the last 2-3 days and get back to work 🙂

Cheers,

Rutvika

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Cupcakes or muffins are my favourite quick bakes whenever someone shows up suddenly. They are easy to whip up and still look festive.

I have made these chocolate chip muffin several times, sometimes using white chocolate chips, sometimes dark chocolate sometimes a mix of both. This one bowl recipe here is a winner and I have dolled it up with some slightly coloured buttercream.

White choco chip cupcakes

White Chocolate Chip cupcakes

What you will need :

  • 110 gram butter at room temperature (I use slightly salted Amul butter)
  • 75 grams caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 175 grams all purpose flour (maida)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 110 ml milk
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Buttercream recipe is from here. Add some milk and a few drops of red colour or strawberry syrup in place of mango juice.

What to do :

  1. Beat butter and both sugars together till light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, incorporating fully before adding the next.
  2. Add vanilla essence and whisk.
  3. Sift flour and baking powder together and keep it aside.
  4. Now add the flour and milk alternately to the butter and sugar mixture in 2 steps. Mix well with a rubber spatula.
  5. Always end with the dry ingredients.
  6. Now add the chocolate chips and stir to combine.
  7. Prepare a 12 case muffin pan and line it with paper cases.
  8. Spoon the mixture into the pan and preheat oven to 170C.
  9. Bake in a preheated oven for 20-25 minutes till a skewer inserted in the centre comes clean.
  10. Let it cool int he pan for 5 minutes and then cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

White chcolate crumb cake

Notes :

  1. White chocolate chips caramelise beautifully to give soft crunch. Dark chocolate chips turn gooey and delicious.
  2. Is using unsalted butter, add a pinch of salt to balance the flavours.
  3. Use all ingredients at room temperature to avoid over-whisking which leads to cracked tops.

Cupcakes with white chocolate