Nadur Monji( Lotus Root Fritters)

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We( Me and my Husband) have Pottery class one day of the week in the evening. That’s when I need to make a quick snack to grab before running off to class. Generally, we stick to something like a salad/chaat. Yesterday I decided to try a new recipe from a Kashmiri cookbook- “Kashmiri Kitchen” by Purnima Kachru. I have tried so many recipes from this book and have fallen in love with Kashmiri cuisine.

Nadru Monji, as I discovered later through the internet is Street Food in Kashmir. We do not get fresh Lotus stem at our local Indian Grocery, so I pick up some every time we visit the Grocery in Long Island. They are also readily available at Asian Supermarkets.

This is the first time I made this recipe. My Husband thought is tasted very similar to  South Indian Chakkuli:) I don’t agree, but we both agree it tasted wonderful. Nadru on its own is slightly sweet and very starchy. Almost like a Potato, but much more crunchy. I personally think the chips made from Nadru taste much better than Potato chips. It’s a matter of personal taste.

The Flour I used for the batter is rice flour. The recipe called for All Purpose flour. I read that both flours are interchangeable for frying. Though I have nothing against All purpose flour, Rice flour cooks slightly faster and is gluten free. I also found a couple of recipes online that recommended Rice flour for this particular recipe.

Ingredients:

  1. Lotus stem- 250 gms, Thoroughly washed and chopped into long fingers about 3 inches in length.
  2. Flour- Rice flour or All Purpose 1/4 cup
  3. Soda bicarb- a pinch
  4. Red chili powder- To taste
  5. Salt- to taste
  6. Oil for Frying
  7. Black cumin seeds or Kalonji- 1/4 Tsp( Optional)
  8. Asafetida- I added a pinch

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In a big bowl mix together the flour, salt, red chili powder, asafetida, cumin, and add enough water to make a batter of dropping consistency. If the batter is too runny, it will not stick to the Lotus roots, if it’s too thick, you will not get the flavor of the nadru.

Fry in hot oil till golden brown. Remove on a paper towel to remove excess oil. Serve with a mint chutney or date chutney.

 

Lotus Root Chips

Lotus Root Chips

“Once you taste the exotic, its difficult to go back to the boring old stuff”- I say.

Lotus Roots or rather the stems are not known much as a vegetable in Southern India. I had never seen them in the markets of Bangalore while growing up. My fascination with this vegetable started when an Aunt of mine here in the US was talking about Kashmiri Cuisine. She happened to mention a very special chips made from Lotus Stems, that she had tasted several years ago in Kashmir. After that I started seeing a lot of these in Indian Stores across NY and NJ. I had to get them home and try it out at once. I can’t thank my Aunt enough for introducing me to this exotic vegetable. No trip to the Indian store is complete without Lotus root in my basket.

The first time I made chips, I did not have a Mandolin Slicer. The pieces were uneven and they did not cook evenly in the oil. The second time, I did have the Mandolin slicer and I can never forget that time, because I cut my thumb( It was that bad). So, lesson learnt- Be extra, extra careful with a slicer and always use the Plastic food pusher, because its very easy to get carried away with the speed at which you are slicing.

The Lotus Root is called ‘Nadur’ or ‘Nadru’ in Kashmiri and ‘Bhein’ or ‘Kamal Kakdi’ in Hindi. It is extremely starchy and rich in fiber. When cooked, it tastes more or less like water chestnut. All other information about this exotic plant can of course be found here

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nelumbo_nucifera

Nadru chips

To make Nadru chips- Take 2 healthy stems of Nadru. Wash them well and peel the skin. Wash well again to make sure there is no mud in the holes. Use a Mandolin slicer set at 1/8 of an inch thickness to make nice, equal slices. Put the cut slices in water for a few minutes before frying. Before frying, dry the cut up chips well on a kitchen towel. Fry the chips in oil on a medium flame till golden brown. Take out the chips onto a Paper towel to absorb excess oil.

Season the chips with some salt, red pepper powder and asafoetida or as preferred. Enjoy either alone or with loved ones, if any are left over while frying!

Crispy Eggplant Chaat

We celebrated the Graduation of the ‘Love of life’ at a wonderful restaurant in NYC. Its quite a popular place called ‘Junoon’. The ambiance, the food, the dessert and service was so good, we were still talking about it days later. The restaurant is Michelin Star rated and owned by celebrity chef Vikas Khanna. I am in love with the ‘Nadru Kofte’ and the trio of kulfi that we had. Who could think of Paan Kulfi? Sheer genius, right? And we were offered some Cardamon Chocolates and fruit candies, complements of the chef. They just melted in the mouth. The perfect sized portions left us wanting more. We are definitely going back soon.

One of the appetizers we ordered was a  Chaat made with Crispy Pan fried Baby Eggplants. I absolutely had to try it at home, it was so good. Its looks real simple but tastes so gourmet.

Ingredients-
1. 2 small Italian Eggplants( the long purple ones, smaller than the American Eggplants)- Washed, dried and cut into 1/8 inch circles

2. 1 small red onion- Chopped fine
3. Tamarind-date Chutney( Store bought)
4. Thick Yogurt- 1/4 cup, beaten smooth
5. 1 small tomato- Chopped fine
6. 4 sprigs coriander- Chopped
7. Sev
8. Chat masala
9. Garam Masala
11.Red Chili powder
10. Salt

To make the Eggplant chips-
Neatly arrange all the cut circles on paper towels and sprinkle them with some salt. Leave for about 30 minutes. The salt draws out the moisture. Dry out all the moisture by pressing with more paper towels.

Take about 2 Tablespoons of oil in a pan. Roast the Eggplant circles till they are crispy. Dry on a paper towel.

To Assemble
Arrange the crispy eggplant chips on a plate. Drizzle some of the Tamarind chutney. Drizzle the yogurt. Sprinkle some chopped onions and tomatoes. Sprinkle a little Chat Masala, Garam Masala and Chili powder. Put the Coriander. Finish off with some Sev. Enjoy immediately.