Sweets for My Sweet: White Chocolate Mousse

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So last Saturday was the husband’s birthday. He was however sunning himself (that’s at least how I see it!) in Bombay, far away from us…

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He came back home on Sunday after 2 weeks in India and to celebrate the end of my period of single parenthood, I decided to welcome him back with a bit of a feast :)

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A lip-smacking curry with the usual accompaniments: peas pulao, raita and roti, and then the pièce de résistance… this heavenly, completely decadent White Chocolate Mousse.

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He is crazy about white chocolate, so I wanted this to be a real surprise. I made it the day before and it was chilling in the fridge.

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I added a bunch of different toppings: freeze-dried raspberries, chopped pistachios…

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Coffee-flavored, coffee-bean shaped chocolate chips, cherries in syrup…

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I told the munchkin it was a secret surprise for Dada and that she shouldn’t mention it. But of course, as soon as we sit down for lunch, she gets all excited and blurts out, ‘Dada, we made mousse for your birthdayyyy!!!’

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When my husband opened the refrigerator and saw the mousse, his face lit up like a little kid’s on Christmas morning :)

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And he ate it making mmmmm… sounds, slowly savoring each spoonful and said it was the best dessert ever!

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So, if you are a white chocolate lover, you can’t not make this mousse. It is the most ridiculously creamy, light, luscious mousse you will ever eat. It tastes like white chocolate and whipped cream had a baby, a very delicious, gorgeous baby.

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And I am bringing this baby to this week’s Friday Fiesta, where awesome co-hosts Selma and Elaine are joining Angie today. It should fit right in with the fabulous things that everyone brings to this rocking party :) See you there!

Here’s the recipe.

White Chocolate Mousse

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 30 minutes + chilling time
  • Print

Ingredients:

1-1/2 tablespoons Water
1 teaspoon unflavored Gelatin
4 large Egg Yolks
¼ cup Sugar
A pinch of Salt
2 tablespoons plus 1-1/4 cups Heavy Cream, divided
1 tablespoon unsalted Butter, room temperature
200 grams White Chocolate, chopped
2 teaspoons confectioner’s Sugar

Directions:

Put the water in a small bowl and sprinkle over the gelatin. Allow the gelatin to stand until it’s softened, about 5 minutes.
In a heavy bottomed saucepan, combine the egg yolks, sugar and salt with 2 tablespoons of the heavy cream (set the remaining 1-1/4 cups aside to use later).
Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until custard thickens (taking care not to let it boil), about 5 minutes.
Remove from the heat and immediately whisk in the gelatin and butter.
Allow to cool to room temperature.
Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave the chocolate in 30 seconds intervals.
Stir and microwave for 30 seconds more. Stir. Repeat as needed, being careful to not burn the chocolate, until almost all the chocolate is melted. The residual heat will melt the remaining bits. You can also melt the chocolate in a double boiler.
Let the chocolate cool slightly.
In a medium bowl with a hand-held mixer, beat the remaining cream with the confectioner’s sugar until medium-stiff peaks form.
Fold in the custard and the melted chocolate until incorporated.
Cover and chill for several hours.
Serve cold, by itself, or topped with raspberries or other accompaniments suggested in this post.

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Delicious Childhood Memories: Mangalorean Goli Baje (A Guest Post for Pretty Poly Math)

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Certain foods have the capacity to invoke strong sentiments, don’t they? Do you have a dish that immediately conjures up memories of your childhood?

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When Hetal from Pretty Poly Math contacted me abut doing a guest post, I was pretty excited. First, Hetal has a lovely blog where she cooks up some really awesome food. Need proof? Check out her Chocolate Chai Mini Bundt Cakes! Stuff that Chai dreams are made of :D   Second, I was really excited  by the theme she suggested: favorite Indian childhood food! Isn’t that a wonderful theme?

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The first thing that popped to my mind when I thought about my favorite childhood dish were Goli Baje! Those crispy, fluffy, pillowy fritters that my mom used to make…

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Goli Baje are a Mangalorean specialty. Mangalore is a coastal town in the south Indian state of Karnataka. It is famous for its cuisine, especially the fiery, tangy and absolutely mouth-watering seafood curries.

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My family is Mangalorean, so the cuisine is one I have grown up with. Goli Baje was a favorite tea-time snack on weekends. ‘Goli’ means round and ‘Baje’ is just local lingo for bhajiya or fritters. So these are simply round fritters.

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Not that they turn out specially round, but the taste, oh the taste… you have to try it to believe how such simple ingredients come together to form the perfect alchemic balance :D The spicy green chili, the subtle hint of ginger, the bits of coconut, all ensconced in the crispiest of exteriors…Mmmm…

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I remember eating them piping hot, almost burning my mouth in the process, followed by a few gulps of hot Bournvita or malted milk! Served with Coconut Chutney, these simple fritters made tea-time so very special :) It is also a hidden gem; not many people outside the Mangalorean community are familiar with this wonderful snack at all.

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If you have been following my blog for a while, you know I dislike deep-frying and try baked versions of traditionally deep-fried food. Well, Goli Baje is an exception. The kind of wicked-crispiness that you get from these fritters would be impossible to replicate in a baked version.

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For the rest of the post and the recipe, head over to Pretty Poly Math :D

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Autummmmm…: Apple Turnovers

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You know the expression, ‘When it rains, it pours!’? Well, that’s how it has been with apples around here. I feel like I am knee-deep in apples…

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Not only has my little apple tree gone berserk, producing more apples than I can pick, my sweet neighbour also brought over a bag of apples from her apple tree!

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So basically, I’ve been making apple-flavored everything! Really, brace yourselves for an onslaught of apple-related posts :D

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Beginning with these easy-peasy, awesome Apple Turnovers! Don’t they look good?

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Based on an Ina Garten recipe, delicious spiced apple filling, with subtle hints of orange, inside layers of flaky puff pastry, these couldn’t be easier. And yet, they are so good!

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And they are not very sweet, so they make a lovely weekend breakfast or treat with your cup of coffee.

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Serve these warm and ease yourselves into autumn with a smile :) I made a large batch of these lovely turnovers. I took some of them over to my neighbour who had so graciously brought over her apples.

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The rest of them, the munchkin and I have been enjoying every evening, after a quick warm up in the microwave. Yummy :)

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And it’s finally Friday! Oh how I have been looking forward to this weekend… it has been a long, tiring week at work and home, since the husband is away in India. But now it’s time to fiesta, yes Angie’s Friday Fiesta! Maybe I’ll see you there?

Here’s the recipe.

Apple Turnovers

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 40 minutes
  • Print

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon grated Orange Zest
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed Orange Juice
3 tart Apples, such as Empire or Granny Smith
3 tablespoons Dried Cherries (I used Raisins instead)
3 tablespoons Sugar, plus extra to sprinkle on top
1 tablespoon All-purpose Flour
1/4 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground Nutmeg
Pinch kosher salt
1 package (17.3 ounces, 2 sheets) frozen Puff Pastry, defrosted
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 200 C.
Combine the orange zest and orange juice in a bowl.
Peel, quarter, and core the apples and then cut them in 3/4-inch dice.
Immediately toss the apples with the zest and juice to prevent them from turning brown.
Add the cherries (or raisins), sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
Flour a board and lightly roll each sheet of puff pastry to a 12 by 12-inch square.
Cut each sheet into 4 smaller squares and keep chilled until ready to use.
Brush the edges of each square with the egg wash and neatly place about 1/3 cup of the apple mixture on half of the square.
Fold the pastry diagonally over the apple mixture and seal by pressing the edges with a fork.
Transfer to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.
Brush the top with egg wash, sprinkle with sugar, make 2 small slits, and bake for 20 minutes, until browned and puffed.
Serve warm or at room temperature.

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White Magic: Chicken Rezala

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Do you know how long it’s been since I posted a curry on this blog??

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I’ll tell you: four months!! I mean, I never meant this to be a curry blog, but still… for someone who eats at least one curry a week, I should do better than that!

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So here I am today, with this fabulous recipe: Chicken Rezala! Doesn’t the name sound melodious? Even romantic? Re-za-la…

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Chicken Rezala is a velvety, white chicken curry from West Bengal, India. It was a dish created in the royal kitchens of the Nawabs of Bengal and hence is strongly influenced by the Mughlai cuisine.

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What makes it unusual? Well, first the color: notice the absence of the usual ‘coloring’ spices: turmeric and red chilli powder. They are no where in sight.

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Instead, more subtle spices are used. White pepper powder, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, mace, nutmeg, along with a dollop of cashew nut and poppy-seed paste.

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These spices are used whole, so they don’t interfere with the pristine whiteness of the curry.

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Very refined, very classy… fit for royalty, did you say? I agree :D

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There are so many layers to this curry. The ingredients of the marinade and the ingredients added during cooking, the whole spices which release their flavors slowly… it is truly magical.

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And yet, it is quite easy to make. It does take a bit of prep, but what good endeavour doesn’t :D At the end of it all, you will have a fabulous curry, which is a joy to dunk some flaky parathas or chapatis in…

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Here’s the recipe (adapted from A Homemaker’s Diary).

Chicken Rezala

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: Approx 2 Hours including marination time
  • Print

Ingredients:

500-600 grams Chicken, cut into large pieces (5-6)
2 medium Onion
1 inch piece Ginger
3-4 large cloves of Garlic
1 cup thick Yogurt
10 Cashew nuts
2 teaspoon Poppy seeds
3-4 Whole Dry Red Chilies
4-5 Cloves
2 Green Cardamom
1 Black Cardamom
2 inch piece Cinnamon
1 Mace
1/2 teaspoon White Pepper powder
1/8 teaspoon Nutmeg powder
2 tablespoon Oil
1 tablespoon Ghee
Salt as per taste
1/2 teaspoon Sugar

Directions:

Wash and drain all the water from the chicken.
Peel, chop and grind the onion, ginger and garlic to a very smooth paste.
Soak the cashew and make a smooth paste with poppy seeds.
Beat the yogurt till smooth and add to the chicken, along with the onion+ginger+garlic paste, salt, nutmeg powder and pepper powder.
Mix and keep aside at least for an hour.
Once you are ready to cook heat the oil and ghee in a large pan.
Lightly pound (just one or two strokes for the pods to open and release more aroma) the whole spices and add to the oil.
Let it sizzle and release aroma. Shake off the marinate from the chicken and arrange them on the pan, preferably in single layer.
On medium heat seal the chicken and cook till all sides turn white.
Now pour in all the marinade and mix.
Cook for 8-10 minutes and then add the cashew + poppy seeds paste.
Cook for a minute and pour 3/4 cup warm water. Adjust seasoning and cover pan with a lid.
Let it simmer on low heat till oil starts to float on top and the chicken is cooked through.
Uncover and stir in the sugar. Keep covered till you are ready to serve.
Serve with flat breads or steamed rice.

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Floral Adventures: Lavender Lemon Loaf Cake

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When we first moved into a house with a garden, I promised myself I would plant lavender. It is one of the scents I have absolutely adored since I was a kid.

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Well, it took almost five years, but this spring, we finally planted two varieties of lavender around a little sunken bird-bath in our garden and I have been waiting for the plants to flower ever since.

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The buds began to appear some time in June I think and gave out the most alluring fragrance every time the breeze blew through them.

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They have also been attracting a lot of honeybees and butterflies :)

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Last weekend, I decided it was about time I started cooking with the lavender, as it looked dry enough. So the munchkin and I went and snipped a few stalks, the munchkin happily smelling them and saying ‘Wow! We are making lavender cake!’

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We made this incredible, beautifully fragrant and moist Lavender and Lemon Loaf cake. It’s like summer in your mouth :D

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The yogurt in the cake makes it really moist and the combination of the tart lemon and sweet-smelling lavender is just wonderful.

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I topped it with a simple lemon drizzle and dusted it with icing sugar. Simple, yet beautiful.

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A slice of this loaf with a cup of tea: conjures up tea-time at Downton Abbey to me :P It is also pretty perfect to bring along to the party of the week, Angie’s Friday Fiesta, being co-hosted by Hilda today! Join me, won’t you?

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Here’s the recipe.

Lavender Lemon Loaf Cake

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: Approx 1 Hour
  • Print

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups All-purpose Flour
1/4 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/8 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/2 cup Butter, softened
1 cup Sugar
3 Eggs
3/4 cup 2% Greek Yogurt
1 tablespoon Lemon Juice
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 teaspoon Lemon Zest
1 tablespoon dried Lavender Seeds

For the Drizzle:

1/4 cup Icing Sugar
Juice of 1/2 Lemon

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 160 C / 325 F. Grease one 9 x 5 inch loaf pan and set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter. Gradually add the sugar and cream until light and fluffy, about 7 minutes.
Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing each until fully incorporated.
Slowly add the dry ingredients, alternating with the Greek yogurt, to the creamed butter and sugar and mix just until incorporated.
Add the lemon juice, vanilla extract and lemon zest and beat on low just until blended.
Gently stir in the lavender seeds.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan(s) and bake for about 45 minutes until the edges begin to brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
Cool in the loaf pans for 10-15 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.
For the drizzle, take the icing sugar in a bowl and add lemon juice little by little till a pouring consistency is reached. Drizzle over the cooled cake.

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Divine Taste: Seviyan Kheer (Indian Vermicelli Pudding)

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Sukhkarta Dukhharta Varta Vighnachi ||
Oh Lord who provides Joy, takes away Sadness and removes all “vighnas” (obstacles) in life

Nurvi Purvi Prem Krupa Jayachi ||
Who spreads love everywhere as his blessing …

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The festive season has kicked off in India with Ganesh Chaturthi today, celebrating the arrival of the beloved elephant-headed God Ganesha or Ganpati. Prayers are being held, songs are being sung, modaks are being consumed by the truckloads ;)

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Ganesha is one of the most important Gods in the Hindu echelon and in Mumbai it is a festival that also brings people together and once upon a time had an important part to play in India’s freedom struggle. You can read all about it in my last year’s post, when I made modaks for Ganesha’s sweet tooth :)

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Many of my blogger buddies have been posting a plethora of dishes to celebrate this joyous festival, but I have been so, so busy at work, that I have simply not been able to make anything elaborate.

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I came home from work today, lit a diya (lamp) in front of my little Ganesha idol and the munchkin and I prayed. She also wished Ganesha a happy birthday <3 

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It was then that I decided to make something quick yet delicious as an offering to Ganesha. A really easy and quick vermicelli and milk pudding called Seviyan Kheer, which used to be one of my favorite desserts as a kid. 

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Vermicelli (seviyan), pan-fried in ghee till golden and then cooked in sweetened milk with nuts and raisins…rich, warming, cardamom and ghee-scented goodness…

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Doesn’t it look like a complicated dessert? It took me 20 minutes to make it! Isn’t that perfect :)

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I am bringing along this divine deliciousness to Angie’s Friday Fiesta and I hope the party-goers will join me in the celebrations :)

Ganpati Bappa Morya !!

Here’s the recipe.

Seviyan Kheer (Indian-style Vermicelli Pudding

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Print

Ingredients:

1 cup broken Vermicelli (Seviyan)
500 ml milk
2 tablespoons Sugar (or as per taste)
2 tablespoons Ghee (Clarified Butter)
2-3 Green Cardamom pods
7-8 roasted or fried unsalted Almonds, chopped
7-8 roasted or fried Cashew nuts, chopped
2 teaspoons Raisins

Directions:

Heat the ghee in a pan.
Now add the vermicelli and fry till they become golden brown.
Pour the milk into the pan, mix and let it come to a boil.
Add sugar and mix well.
Lower the flame and let the milk simmer for 5-7 minutes till the vermicelli gets cooked. Crush the seeds from the cardamom pods and add it to the pan.
Lastly add chopped almonds, cashewnuts, raisins or any dry fruits.
Serve the seviyan kheer warm or cold.

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It’s a Wrap: Kolkata Egg Roll, My Way

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This one has been sitting in my albums for some time; a quick lunch I made on a hot summer day, about a month ago. You know, before it got all dark and gloomy…

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Kolkata Egg Roll is a very popular street food from (where else!) Kolkata, the capital of the east Indian state of West Bengal. Bengalis pride themselves on their wonderful cuisine and the street food in Kolkata is no exception.

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This egg roll is a favorite among college students and office-goers as a grab-n-go snack, as it is so portable, yet so filling and of course scrumptuous :D

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The egg roll is usually made by cooking eggs on a skillet and throwing a flaky paratha on top of the half-cooked egg and rolling it up along with  some chopped veggies and a squirt of ketchup.

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I wanted to make something on the lines of the Kolkata egg roll, but make it more healthy and substantial enough for a light lunch for me and the munchkin.

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So instead of paratha, I used corn tortillas that I had on hand. And I added salad leaves, sliced radishes, tomatoes, cilantro, red onions and a Raita-style yogurt dressing.

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Don’t they look pretty and refreshing :) They are also lip-smackingly good! Slightly crispy tortilla, fluffy egg and the fresh, tangy salad within! Yum…

Here’s the recipe.

Kolkata Egg Roll

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Print

Ingredients:

2 Large Eggs (1 Egg per Roll)
2 Corn Tortillas/ Flour Tortillas/ Parathas
1/2 teaspoon Red Chilli Powder
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon chopped Cilantro
A large handful of Salad Leaves (Arugula, Baby Spinach, Watercress…)
3 small Radishes, sliced
1 small Tomato, chopped
1 small Red Onion, chopped
2 teaspoons Cooking Oil

For the Raita-style Dressing:
2 tablespoon Yogurt
1/4 teaspoon Garam Masala Powder
A pinch of Turmeric
1/4 teaspoon Salt

Directions:

Warm the tortilla in a skillet and keep aside.
Beat the eggs with salt, red chilli powder and a teaspoon of water till a bit frothy.
Heat 1 teaspoon oil a skillet (large enough to hold the tortilla).
Add half the quantity of the beaten eggs to the skillet, spread and cook over medium heat.
When the eggs look half-cooked, place the tortilla over the eggs. Gently flip the tortilla over, such that the egg is now on top.
Cook on medium heat till the egg layer looks completely cooked.
Remove to a serving plate and top with salad leaves, red onions, tomatoes, radish slices and cilantro.
Mix all the ingredients for the dressing together and drizzle the dressing over the veggies on the tortilla.
Form into a roll, wrap in parchment paper or foil and serve hot.
Repeat to make one more egg roll.

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