ICC: Kara Sev


It’s the 15th of the month so that means it’s time to share another adventure courtesy of the Indian Cooking Challenge! This month we made Kara Sev, another snack food and another round with the fryer. Unlike last month’s Pani Puri which turned into a several-hour ordeal with mixed results, this month was easy as fry–

Kara Sev

Kara Sev

Kara Sev


2.5 cups Gram Flour
1 cup Rice Flour
1 tsp Chili Powder
1 tsp Black Pepper
1 tsp Salt
1 pinch Baking Soda
5 Tbsp ghee
2 cloves garlic, minced
Water, as needed

My Notes:

*Gram flour is ground chick peas, you should be able to find it in your local organic foods section or you can make your own by drying out canned chick peas and processing in a blender or food processor until smooth

*I increased the chili powder x4 and could have actually gone up more, feel free to spice it up a little more

*I doubled the amount of ghee and could probably use more—you want a breadcrumb-type consistency and for that you need more fat to rub-in

If you’re not familiar with ghee, perhaps you’ve heard of clarified butter? They’re the same thing and if you’ve got unsalted butter, a saucepan and a ladle you’ve no need to hunt it down in a specialty food shop.

Clarifying Butter

Clarifying Butter

Over low heat, slowly melt the butter (for this recipe you’ll need about a stick) until it’s completely liquid. You’ll see a bit of white stuff come to the surface–those are the milk solids and you want to skim those off. The water has sunk to the bottom (in small quantities you have to be careful not to disturb that bottom layer, too) and the pure butter sits in the middle. Ladle off the clarified butter, leaving the water behind, and use as directed.

Now, onto the Sev!

Steps of the Kara Sev

Step-by-Step Kara Sev

1 ) Sift together the dry ingredients. I like to put half the flour(s) into the large sifter, add the seasonings, the finish off with the rest of the flour so that when I sift them together they get more evenly distributed.

2 ) Make a well in the center of the sifted dry ingredients and add the minced garlic and the ghee. Mix together the moist and dry (fingers really work best for this) until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Clumpy ones, sure, but bread crumbs just the same.

3 ) Sprinkle water over the mixture until a dough starts to form. In truth, it was more like shallow handfuls at first, just to get things to hold together, then it tapered off to sprinkles until the dough was fairly solid and no longer sticky.

Let me tell you, at this point the dough smelled fantabulous–the bean flour and the chili powder were activated by the water and if the finished sev smelled this good we were going to be very happy.

4 ) Divide the dough into 4 balls. This is just to keep it manageable.

5 ) Heat canola oil to around 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

6 ) Push the dough through a sev ladle or maker into the hot oil.

Okay, here’s where we reach a bit of a cultural divide–what in the world is a sev maker? Turns out it’s a perforated ladle that you use as a die to create little strings of dough for frying. Not having one of those around I found some pictures of what a sev-maker looked like and they look an awful lot like my potato ricer (that’s it on the left). This is what I used for most of the kara sev (press out strings about 2 inches long then cut off with a knife into the oil–watch for splashing!).

Someone else suggested using  a cookie press and I thought that was an inspired idea. Unfortunately, in the handful of moves since I last used mine, only the tree-die remained with the press. Still, I gave it a shot.

7 ) Fry until just barely colored. The first batch I fried until it was a golden brown and it didn’t have a lot of flavor. Each batch afterwards I fried a little less and the flavor increased. Turns out it only takes a moment or two in the oil for them to cook through so get ’em in, let ’em bubble and get ’em out!

8 ) Drain the finished sticks on a piece of paper toweling.

The batch I tried through the cookie press (don’t forget to spray it with something to prevent sticking!) turned out fine, too, in wider strips, but I only did the one batch of those–the ricer worked best.

Todd really enjoyed snacking on these crunchy strings, I would prefer a little more flavor in the finished product so more salt and more chili powder would not go amiss.

Store the drained sev in an airtight container or plastic bag.

I’m still looking for the perfect dip that goes with these (maybe hummus?) since I’m not a huge fan of a lot of dry snacks but these are pretty addicting once you get started on them.

Kitchen Fun!


During a manicure at the Nail Bar (literally a nail place that does your manicure at a wood-and-tile bar while you sip wine or cocktails) I offered to let a friend come over one Saturday and we’d spend the day in the kitchen, preparing awesome food and then have a small dinner party with our significant others. And lots of wine.

After many reschedules, we finally had our kitchen day.

Dinner is Served

Dinner is Served!

The Menu

Bacon-Wrapped Artichoke Hearts

Individual Beef Wellingtons with Onion Marmalade and Goat Cheese
Garlic Green Beans
Oven-Roasted Red Potatoes

Crullers with Vanilla Ice Cream

Q arrived just after 2pm and we donned our matching aprons and got to work.

Desserts were first (as they should be) since they needed to be prepped, piped and chilled before being fried. And then they could sit.

This was one of the Q’s requests, as the light and airy cruller is her favorite and she really wanted to learn how to make them herself. It’s a testament to our friendship that I agreed as I really don’t like to fry things and these are basically fried cream puffs, unfilled but topped with a glaze. We used Gale Gand’s recipe (via Food Network Online) which says it yields 12 (but I think a single batch will give more than that, based on our own yield). Well, we figured since it was early and we’d want to snack test them for quality we’d increase it by half and make sure we still had plenty for after dinner.

Crullers, pre-frying

There's a definite learning-curve with piping the dough.

To pipe the crullers you need a pastry bag and a large star tip, which gives you the traditional “tractor tire” ridges. Trace a 3″ circle while keeping even pressure applied to the bag and the same distance from the parchment-lined sheet pan (about half a inch). When you get back to the beginning, stop the pressure but continue to follow the circle around so that the tail hides in the rest of the grooves.

While those chilled, we got started on the next long project: the onion marmalade. Usually a wellington is topped with either pâté or a duxelles (minced mushrooms, etc. cooked down to a pâté-like consistency). Since neither of our guys are big mushroom fans, I decided it would be fun to try something new. A quick search yielded a recipe that seemed promising. It was also time-consuming, taking up most of the afternoon waiting for the liquid to reduce. It did give us time to start frying the crullers, though, and glaze them (tip: for all that’s good and flavorful, add some good vanilla to the glaze.)

frying crullers

Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble!

I want to try the onion recipe again because it’s truly delicious but almost too sweet (yes, I know, I can hardly believe I typed those words, myself) and I want to make it slightly quicker. Not instant, just quicker.

Meanwhile, we pre-cooked the fillets for the wellingtons according to this recipe. In the past I’ve always baked it just the once and been a little apprehensive about getting the meat done enough while not overcooking the pastry. This method of baking the meat til rare, cooling, assembling and then baking just long enough to heat everything and brown the pastry worked so well I’ve adopted it as my new favorite method.

The side dishes are the epitome of simple: steamed green beans sauteed with garlic, olive oil and a last minute addition of the bacon leftover from the marmalade. The potatoes are steamed first, then tossed with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, sage and rosemary with just a dash of chili powder before going into the oven to get nice and golden-brown.

The last thing to be started was the appetizer: bacon-wrapped artichokes are, truly, as simple as they sound. Wrap half an artichoke heart with half a slice of bacon, place on a foil-lined pan and broil until crispy.

Let's Eat

Let's Eat

Glaze Upon Pastry Perfection

Dinner was lovely. It took us about 4 hours to cook and the meal lasted close to 3. Q & I had finished off a bottle of Arbor Mist Blackberry Merlot while we cooked, served a bottle of my favorite Pinot Evil during dinner and then had coffee and Blackberry Wine from Chautauqua Winery with the crullers and ice cream (did you know Breyers has a Lactose Free version? I’m officially in heaven!).

Eclairs and lamb have already been requested for the next Kitchen Day.