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There’s nothing that can spur a girl to get back in shape as much as a wedding in the family. Especially if the wedding before that one had been your own and you had been in shape then, only about a year ago. Then of course, you went away to Canada and didn’t meet anyone at all for the whole year. And then one of your favourite cousins decided it was time to get married.

Now of course, Indians (including me) can be pretty tactless when someone in the family puts on weight. Cousins and uncles and aunts usually assume a carte blanche when it comes to discussing gained weight and weddings are a great platform to unleash this unintentionally cruel scrutiny. And then there is that photographer guy lurking around, taking candid pictures when you aren’t holding in your tummy! Oh horror! (Of course, Monica Bing told us that the camera adds pounds, but there’s no reason to aid the camera, is there?) Add to it the fact that one is in the danger of resembling a stuffed bunny rabbit in finery when one puts on clothes that have been sitting on the wardrobe shelves for many many months, and one has a very strong case to eat healthy.

Luckily, healthy does not mean boring.

Today’s Moong Chilas are one such fun recipe. They’re healthy, bursting with flavour and a snap to make. And they are a great source of dietary fibre,Β proteinΒ and what not and easy to digest. Ideally, this recipe should classify as brunch, but I never hesitate to make it into a light dinner because it fills you up nicely. What I specially love about it is the texture of the chilaΒ and the zing that the ginger adds. The list of ingredients is short and one can always find it all in the kitchen, so except for the soaking bit, not much planning is required. I have a darling little non-stick pan just the right size for pancakes, which I use for this. And if one is deft enough to flip the pancakes with style and has an audience, why, one can even pretend to be a great chef!

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Prep time : 30 mins
Overnight soaking required
Makes : 12

WHAT YOU NEED :

1 cup Moong Dal with skin on, soaked overnight
2 cups Coriander / Cilantro, roughly torn
2-3 inch piece of Ginger
4-5 Green Chillies (or to taste)
Salt to taste

For the toppings:
1 cup Paneer, grated
1 small Onion, finely chopped
1 small Tomato, finely chopped
1/2 cup Coriander, finely chopped

WHAT YOU DO :

  1. Grind the soaked moong dal, ginger, coriander and green chillies with some water in a wet grinder to a rough, pouring consistency. It needn’t be completely smooth, but should not have big chunks, especially of the ginger or the chillies. Add salt to taste and mix well.
  2. Heat a non stick pan. Droplets of water should dance on the surface, when it is heated but shouldn’t evaporate immediately. Drizzle a tiny amount of oil on it.
  3. Ladle the batter on the pan. Don’t make the chila too thick, or the insides won’t cook properly.
  4. Sprinkle the chopped onions, tomatoes and grated paneer on the surface. Drizzle a few more drops of oil on the top surface and cover the pan with a lid. Cook on medium heat.
  5. Once the bottom side is cooked in about 2 to 3 minutes, and the sides can be separated easily from the pan, flip it over. Cover and cook for another minute or two until done.
  6. Serve with Tomato Chutney. (Recipe coming soon)

MY NOTES :

Chilas can be made with either moong dal (with skin) or whole moong beans.

The pan’s temperature is very important and must the heat must be constantly adjusted – too hot and the exterior will blacken but the inside will remain uncooked; not hot enough, and the chila will take forever to cook. It is similar to making pancakes or uttapams.

The paneer is optional. It can either be omitted or even substituted with cheese, for a richer taste. I prefer the paneer though.

Chilas are also great with a green chutney made of chillies, coriander and yogurt.

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