Friday, 28 September 2012

Rabbit Recipes: Dhokla Muffins

Dhokla is a Gujarati steamed fluffy savoury cake made with gram flour and topped with mustard seeds, desiccated coconut and coriander. As they're steamed and made from protein-rich chick pea flour, they're one of the few relatively healthy Gujarati snack foods and are very, very popular with Bartimaeus, my mum, and most folks who try them. There's a lot of different kinds, and different levels of difficulty in making them. It's possible to just buy a Gits packet and add water but having tried this recipe, I really don't see the point and it's much cheaper this way. In place of "curd" I used greek yoghurt and used 2 tsp baking powder instead of "eno fruit salt", but I think using probiotic yoghurt would work to help the batter rise too. I also omitted the ground green chillies and put a pinch of red chilli in there instead.


I can't really take any credit for this recipe, because it's not mine. However, what I can take credit for the presentation/method. Previously, I've used my mother in law's steaming technique of pouring the batter into a foil lined steamer and hoping for the best. This is pretty disastrous - it's a wet batter, and most of it leaks, you have to stab holes in the foil which don't really work and there isn't enough air then circulating for the dhokla to rise nicely. You end up with a sad, flat, wet yellow pancake and no fluffiness at all.

But when thinking up recipes as I drifted off to sleep one day (as I am wont to do) I realised silicone muffin cups would solve all this - and result in cute little individual dhoklas. I would recommend greasing the liners with a little oil/ghee (especially in the edges/nooks as that's where the most sticking happens) and leaving to cool before turning out. Each set of 8 muffins took me about 6-8minutes to steam and the recipe I've linked to made over 30 of the lovely little things.

With the topping

The traditional way to eat them is with Gujarati green chutney but I didn't have any (!) so I served them with sweet chilli-mango sauce (a hybrid of sweet chilli sauce and mango chutney. it is so much awesomeness!) and chilli ketchup.

Whilst they're technically a snack, they're breadlike and I think can be used in the place of blander carbohydrates quite easily. We had them with my Indian spiced scrambled eggs (which I will post about another day) for a tasty twist on brunch. I like the idea of dunking them in soups - lentil, carrot and coriander, chilli bean. And I want to experiment with fillings - particularly a chilli paneer centre, but I think I'd need to make full sized muffins to get enough structure to hold it (watch this space). They're definitely going to be a staple in the Rabbit-Bartimaeus household!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Best Things in Life are Free

Ah Janet and Luther, you're righter than I have ever known. For many reasons, I'm going on a complete non-essential no-spend. I need to reconfigure my life and what makes me happy - it's not things, but people, experiences, memories that do that, in the most long-lasting and joyful of ways. So here's a list of things that are free/non-"stuff" based that I can and should enjoy more.

1. Listening to music - on the radio, on Spotify, from my substantial CD collection. Music takes me away from things in a way buying stuff never could, to good places.

2. Reading, especially utilising my local libraries and bolstering my knowledge of the classics, which are more often than not, free on Kindle.

3. Writing/drawing/making/sewing - why do I spend so many hours idly browsing online shops when I could be DOING something that stimulates my brain and makes me feel more positive about myself?

4. Spending time with/talking to friends - I hide away and get lost in my own world, forgetting others need me, and that I need them too.

5. Exercise/cooking - I need to lose some weight, my immune system has hit rock bottom, I'm exhausted all the time and I need to get myself fit and strong again because WINTER IS COMING. And I never feel as buzzy as when I've exercised, which I will need when the days get shorter and I get sleepier. I also want to experiment with healthy versions of Indian classics. I have so many recipe ideas in my head that never make it to the plate - paneer filled steamed dhokla muffins, for one. 

6. Enjoying/contributing to my community. Little makes me feel happier than knowing I belong somewhere, that it's home. I should really celebrate that more and contribute to it. Because that's how you really feel part of something. And our city has so many things I haven't explored, writing groups, galleries, museums - I need to go out and explore all it has to offer, and give something back.

7. Gardening - my little garden is not looking so happy right now. But the little time I've spent in it (mostly pruning the weeds - or de-gardening as we have termed it) has been some of the most relaxing, rewarding and physically demanding work I've done. I'd love my garden to be a little purple floral oasis this time next year, a space we can relax in and enjoy. I'd love to grow plants from seeds and see them bloom. How smileworthy will that be?

8. Remixing and customising my clothes. I'm going through a grungy phase at the moment. So my instinct would usually be to rush out and buy that pricey velvet dress I featured, new makeup, new jewellery. Except I can so easily do grunge with my existing wardrobe anyway. I have heaps of dark, vampy nail colours. I have a black maxi dress I have layer up for winter. I have dark, moody scarves and long snuggly cardigans. I HAVE LONG BLACK HAIR. So I'm not rushing out to buy it after all.

9. Learning more about my faith. I've been on a journey back to Islam this year. It's not something I speak much about either here or to my friends and family. But it has immeasurably enriched my life and helped me through many difficulties this year. So I want to give it the attention and time it deserves from me.

10. Writing my blog - you'd think with all the shopping, I'd be updating the blog all the time. Er no. Ironically, I don't even really like "OMG LOOK AT ALL THIS NEW STUFFS I HAVE BROUGHT OMG" posts (especially not when they commit that heinous spelling crime of crimes) but my favourite bloggers are the resourceful, creative remixers who also let you into their full and rich and multidimensional lives. I love seeing a dress twice or three times on a blog - resurfacing like an old friend. I love trying out a blogger's personally crafted recipe. I love seeing nail art and creative layering combinations of talented nail bloggers. I love to read book reviews - perversely, even of books I'd never read. So all this - this is what I want for my little corner of the internets.

I should be dreading this no-spend. But actually, I'm really excited about it.