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

Ukadiche Modak – Hosting for Daring Cooks Challenge

Sweet steamed modaks

When the new year started in January, I had made a list of resolutions. Some of them like losing 10 kgs in a year etc. never work out, but one of them was hosting a Daring Kitchen Challenge. And I did! My favourite modaks for the month of September. The details and precision which go into preparing a challenge is tremendous. And then once I submitted the draft of the challenge, it went through a rigorous testing schedule by the volunteers at the Daring Kitchen. A few modifications later, it was up for the world.

Every year during Ganpati, we make these modaks at home. Essentially, it has two parts. One is the covering (ukad in Marathi) and the other is the filling (saran in Marathi). Different households have slight variations in making it, but basically the covering is made of rice flour and the filling is made of a mixture of fresh coconut and jaggery.

For the Daring Cooks challenge, I made three different varieties of modak. Two of them steamed, and one fried version. I am hoping cooks all around the world will try this little traditional western-Indian delicacy and like it.

Excerpt for the challenge :

“The legend of Ganesha , the elephant headed God goes this way – Goddess Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva, created a boy out of the sandalwood paste she used for her bath and breathed life in to him.  Then she asked him to guard her door while she went for a bath. Meanwhile, Lord Shiva who had gone out  hunting came back. Ganesha did not allow him to enter, as he did not know who Shiva was. Enraged, Shiva severed the head of the child. Parvati was very angry and disheartened by this. Lord Shiva promised to find a head for him and bring the boy back to life. His devotees tried to find the head of a dead man, but only found the head of a dead elephant. Shiva fixed it on the body of the boy and brought him back to life, and from that day was called Ganesha.

So this month I bring to you “modaks”, an offering made to Lord ganesha. A delicate preparation of coconut and jaggery (a sweetner made from sugarcane juice) filled in a tender rice flour covering and then steamed. It is an age old recipe followed by several generations in our family.”

Blog Checking Lines : “For the month of September , Rutvika the talented lady behind  sizzleanddrizzle.com challenged us to make modaks: a delicate preparation of coconut and jiggery filled in a tender rice flour covering that is later steamed to produce a delicacy that is usually served in the Ganesha festival in India”

Recipe 1 : Ukadiche Modak

Servings: Makes 12 modaks

Ingredients

For the filling

  • 200 gm fresh shredded coconut
  • 100 gm chopped jaggery
  • 3 tablespoon water
  • ¼ teaspoon cardamom powder

For the covering/ shell

  • 1 heaped cup of Basmati rice flour, sifted (310 grams)
  • 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • ¾ cup water (180 m)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 35 grams unsalted butter

Directions:

  1. Firstly, we make the filling of the modak. Take the fresh shredded coconut, jaggery and water in a thick bottomed vessel. Put it on medium heat and stir continuously till the jaggery begins to dissolve.
  2. Alternately, you can melt the jaggery in microwave for in bursts of 30 seconds and then add it to the fresh coconut, it will come together faster.
  3. Roast it for a couple of minutes, till the mixture becomes slightly dry.
  4. Add cardamom powder and mix it well.
  5. Take the mixture off heat and spread it on a plate and let it cool down completely while you make the covering.

Modak sweet stuffing

  1. To make the covering, sift the rice flour and 1 tablespoon all purpose flour with the smallest sieve twice so that it is very smooth. The all purpose flour is used to make the rice flour more sticky.
  2. In a thick bottomed vessel, take the water and add butter and salt to it. Let it come to a boil.
  3. Once water starts to boil, add the flour mixture all at once. Take it off heat and mix it together with a spoon.
  4. Then put the mixture back on heat and sprinkle 2 tablespoons water. Cover and let it steam for 1 minute over low heat.
  5. Take it off heat and let it stay in a corner covered for 10 minutes, It will get softened.
  6. Once it has considerably cooled down, pulse it in a food processor for a minute, take it out and knead with hands to bring it together to form a smooth dough.

Modak ukad covering

  1. Prepare the steamer. Fill a large vessel with water covering the bottom of the steamer. Place steamer on top and keep it ready. We place the modaks on a banana leaf for steaming, but you can use a plain tea towel instead.
  2. Make 12 equal balls of the dough.
  3. With a little water, flatten each ball into a thin disk with your hands or in a non-electric roti maker, about 4 inches in diameter. Then take it into the palm of your hand. Stuff it with some mixture leaving ½ inch on all sides. Start pinching the corners into petals with the use of your index finger and thumb and middle finger on each side. Make several such petals all around the edge of the disk.
  4. Then start getting all the petals together by pressing it closer with your fingers. Seal the top and keep it covered with a damp towel till a few are ready to be steamed.
  5. Immerse each modak in water before placing it in the steamer filled with boiling water. Steam for 15-20 minutes.
  6. Serve hot with a dollop of ghee (clarified butter).

Shaping a steamed modak

Ganpati Bappa Morya!

Rutvika

Note : I have tried to simplify the recipe as much as possible for the non-Maharashtrian and the non-Indian cooks. The shaping of the modaks can get quite complicated, my mom’s grandma used to make a tower of 7 modaks on top of each other, starting from one single modak.