Bites to cheer you up

By Toshali Mandal

The season of festivals begins with Durga Puja, continues till Christmas and cheerfully extends to New Year. But this year has been different. The mood during this year’s celebrations will remain sombre till the end owing to the pandemic and its subsequent impact on various aspects of life and living. Amid such negativity, we need strength to stand together and a short break from all worries. It is believed that cooking is a good therapy. Personally, cooking works wonders for me when I am under stress. Today, I want to share two recipes which I tried during the lockdown. A special evening snack and a traditional dessert can cheer your family up. So put on your cooking hat and swing into action.

Oats idli with peanut chutney

Ingredients for idli

1 cup rolled oats; 3 teaspoons of oil;

1 teaspoon of mustard; ½ teaspoon of urad dal; 1 teaspoon of chana dal;

½ teaspoon of cumin/jeera; Few curry leaves; ½ teaspoon of ginger paste;

2 green chillies, finely chopped;

1 carrot, grated; ¼ teaspoon of turmeric; ½ cup of rava/semolina/suji, coarse grained; ½ cup yogurt; 1 cup water;

2 tablespoons of coriander leaves, finely chopped; ¾ teaspoon of salt;

7 cashew nuts, halved; ½ teaspoon of Eno fruit salt/baking soda


First, heat oil in a kadai and splutter mustard, urad dal, chana dal, cumin and a few curry leaves. Add ginger paste and two chillies. Saute slightly. Then add a carrot and turmeric and saute for two minutes.

Now add ½ cup rava and roast on low flame until it turns aromatic. Add powdered oats and mix well. Transfer the mixture and allow it to cool completely.

Add curd and water and mix well so that there are no lumps. Then add coriander leaves, salt and water. Mix well to form a consistent batter. Rest for 20 minutes or until the rava absorbs water. Just before steaming, add the fruit salt or baking soda and mix well.

Steam the oats idli for 15 minutes on medium flame. Finally, serve instant oats idli with peanut chutney and sambar (optional).

Roast the oats and rava on medium flame, else the idli will turn sticky and hard.

You can prepare the batter and store in the fridge. Remember to add baking soda or Eno before baking.

Finally, steam the instant oats idli on medium heat to get the soft idli.

Ingredients for peanut chutney

¾ cup of peanuts;

2 teaspoons of oil;

1 teaspoon of urad dal;

1 teaspoon of chana dal;

2 cloves of garlic;

1 green chilli;

a small piece of tamarind;

salt to taste;

½ cup of water, or as required

For tempering

2 teaspoons of oil;

1 teaspoon of mustard seeds;

1 teaspoon of urad dal;

Pinch of asafoetida;

1 dried red chilli, broken;

few curry leaves


First, dry roast the peanuts on medium flame. Roast till the peanuts start to separate from the skin. Allow it to cool down and remove the skin completely. Transfer the peanuts to the blender. Add oil and roast urad dal and chana dal. Roast green chilli and garlic till blisters appear. Transfer to the blender. Add the small piece of tamarind and salt to taste. Blend to smooth consistency adding ½ cup of water, or as required.

Now prepare the tempering by heating two teaspoons of oil. Add mustard seeds, urad dal, asafoetida, red chilli and a few curry leaves. Allow the tempering to splutter.

Finally, pour the tempering over peanut chutney and serve along with the idlis.



1 cup of all-purpose flour/maida;

2 tablespoons of corn flour/rice flour;

1/4 cup of plain yogurt;

1-2 tablespoons of vinegar;

2 tablespoons of lemon juice;

a pinch of baking soda;

yellow food colour (optional);

1 cup sugar; 1 cup water;

1 tablespoon of ghee/butter;

1 teaspoon of lemon juice;

1-2 slices of lemon;

oil for frying


First, we have to make the sugar syrup. For that take a thick-bottomed pan and put sugar in it. Add a cup of water and 1/4 teaspoon of food colour (optional). Let it boil for 4-5 minutes. It will be a one-string consistency. Pour in the lemon juice and a tablespoon of ghee/butter. This will prevent the sugar from solidifying. Keep the syrup aside.

Now in a bowl, add flour, corn flour/rice flour, yogurt, vinegar, lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon of food colour (if using) and whisk with a wire whisk or fork. Pour in about 1/2 cup of water and whisk till you get a smooth batter. Put in the baking soda. The batter should be runny but not too much. Pour it in an empty ketchup bottle or a piping bag.

Heat oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Slowly pour the batter in spirals. Fry for about a minute on each side or till it gets light brown on both sides. With a slotted spoon, take the jalebis out of the oil and dunk in the lukewarm sugar syrup. Keep in the sugar syrup for a minute or two but not more than that, else the jalebis will turn soggy. Serve the jalebis hot or cool as preferred with rabdi/milkmaid, some saffron strands and pistachios.

Notes: Add the baking soda right before you start frying. Rice flour makes the jalebis extra crispy, you can skip it if you don’t want too much crispiness. If you want to store for later, then don’t soak them in the syrup. To add richness to the jalebis, fry them in ghee instead of oil.

(The author is a food blogger.

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