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First take all the ingredients in three bowls: 1.5 cups idli rice or parboiled rice in one bowl ½ cup urad dal + 1 tablespoon chana dal + 20 methi seeds (fenugreek seeds) in a second bowl ⅓ cup thick poha (flattened rice) in a third bowl.Rinse the lentils and methi seeds a couple of times. Then soak them in 1 cup water for 4 to 5 hours.Rinse the rice a couple of times and keep aside.Rinse poha once or twice and then add to the rice.Pour 2 cups water. Stir and soak both rice and poha together for 4 to 5 hours.Before grinding, strain the water from the soaked lentils+methi seeds and keep it for grinding urad dal.Add the lentils in the grinder jar. Also add ½ cup of the soaked and strained water to the dal.Grind the urad dal, chana dal and methi seeds till you get a batter which is light and fluffy. The urad dal has to be ground really well, so that the batter ferments well.Remove the batter in a bowl or pan with a spatula. Here is a pic showing the consistency of the batter.Strain the rice well. Then in the same grinder, add the soaked rice and 1 cup fresh water. You can grind rice in one batch or in two to three batches. This will depend on the size of the grinder jar. I ground in one batch and added 1 cup water for grinding. You can even add ¾ cup water while grinding. Addition of water will depend on the quality of rice.
In a bowl take 1.5 cups sour curd or about 375 grams of curd. Whisk it well till smooth.add 8 tbsp gram flour (besan), ½ tsp red chilli powder, ½ tsp turmeric powder, ½ tsp garam masala powder and 1 tsp salt to the whisked curd.Stir and mix everything again.Add 3 cups water and stir again.Stir very well to make a smooth mixture without lumps. If there are lumps, then break them with a wired whisk or a spatula or with your fingers. Keep the curd mixture aside. You can use a blender to make this mixture, but make sure you don’t over do it. You will get butter instead of a smooth blended curd.Take 1 cup gram flour/besan in a bowl and add ½ tsp ajwain/carom seeds, ½ tsp red chili powder, ½ tsp garam masala powder and 2/3 tsp salt or as required.Add 1 cup thinly sliced onions. About 2 medium to large onions, sliced, approx 150 grams of onions.mix everything well and keep aside covered for 30 minutes.this will allow the onions to release their water in the mixture. Depending on the water content in the onions, the mixture will become very moist or just about moist. Here’s a pic of the onions after 30 minutes. Mix again.Remove the fried pakoras and place them on a kitchen paper towel so that extra oil is absorbed. Fry the pakoras in batches this way. When done keep all of them aside.
Soak 18 to 20 cashews in ⅓ cup hot water for 20 to 30 minutes.When the cashews are soaking, you can prep the other ingredients like chopping tomatoes, chopping and preparing the ginger-garlic paste, slicing paneer etc.Crush 1-inch ginger + 3 to 4 medium-sized garlic to a paste in a mortar pestle to a semi-fine or fine paste. Keep aside. Don’t add any water while crushing ginger & garlic.After 20 to 30 minutes, drain the water and add the soaked cashews in a blender or grinder. Also, add 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh water or as required.Grind to a smooth paste without any tiny bits or pieces of cashews.Remove the cashew paste in a bowl and keep aside.In the same blender add 2 cups of diced or roughly chopped tomatoes. No need to blanch the tomatoes before blending.Blend to a smooth tomato puree. Keep aside. Don’t add any water while blending the tomatoes.Heat a thick bottomed pan or a heavy pan. Keep the flame to a low or medium-low. Add 2 tablespoons butter OR 1 tablespoon oil + 1 or 2 tbsp butter in a pan. Adding oil prevents the butter from browning too quickly. If using only butter, then keep the pan on a low flame so that the butter does not melt. You can even add 3 to 4 tablespoons butter for a rich buttery version. Both salted or unsalted butter can be added. In case the tomato puree splutters too much while cooking then cover the pan partly with a lid or cover fully with a splatter lid (channi lid). the tomato puree might splutter if there is more water content in the tomatoes.
Wash and soak 1 cup chickpeas (chana or chole) in enough water overnight. Add enough amount of water as the chickpeas increase in size after soaking it. Rinse the soaked chickpeas in water. Pic of rinsed & soaked chickpeas.To give a dark color to the chickpeas, traditionally dried amla (Indian gooseberries) are added. These also give a faint sourness to the stock. If you do not have dried amla, then add 1 black tea bag. You can also just cook the chickpeas with salt and water.In a pressure cooker add the chickpeas along with the 2 to 3 dried amla pieces or a tea bag. Taj tea bags work very well. Then pour 2.5 to 3 cups water.Pressure cook the chickpeas for 12 to 15 whistles. Heat oil in a pan or kadai. Add ginger-garlic paste and saute till their raw aroma goes away. Then add chopped onions and saute till the onions turn translucent or light brown. Add tomatoes & saute them till they soften and the oil starts to leave the sides of the masala. Then add the powdered chole masala that we ground, along with the red chili powder, turmeric powder & garam masala powder (optional). Stir the dry masala and then add slit green chilies Add the cooked chole. Stir well. Add salt. Then add about 1 to 1.25 cups of the stock in which the chana was boiled. You can also add water instead. Stir and cover the chana.