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Showing posts from 2008

Ring out the old...

What a difference a year makes. As I look back on 2008, there are so many firsts in my life and so many things I am thankful for. But no lists today.

Instead, on last day of this year, here's another first. I finally dared to make an Indian mithai. Yes, me! To ring out the year in style, here comes rasmalai - my last minute entry to Food in Color - White.



Rasmalai has two parts - the chenna balls and the rabdi/milk these balls are soaked in. To make the balls, heat 1/2 litre milk until it comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Add a tsp of lemon juice to the milk and stir until it curdles. Strain to separate the whey. Textbooks say to use a cheesecloth but I've never managed to do it without spilling everything or burning my hand so I just pass it through a large strainer and press down with a plate for the whey to drain away.

When the chenna has cooled a little, put it on a plate and knead for around 10 minutes. By this time, the grains would be gone and you will hav…

A Cake for Anne

I am back with this month's edition of "This Book Makes Me Cook". And this month, we are reading the charming "Anne of Green Gables". Anne comes to the green gables house as a scrawny yet lively orphan girl. The brother-sister duo adopting her are at first shocked at getting a girl instead of a boy, but Anne's charm is hard to resist. With her unruly way, Anne commits several blunders but ends up becoming a favorite of whoever she comes in contact with.

The book is chockful of food - teas they give and go to, including the one Anne fatefully makes her friend drunk at; as well as pies being baked and dinners being hosted. One of Anne's most spectatular failures was a layer cake, so I set to make a decandent chocolate layer cake for her.



The recipe for this cake was followed verbatim from Baking Bites, my favorite baking blog so I won't repeat it here. But let me tell you that the cake, with chocolate and coffee to give it a rich feel, and eggless to…

Let's play chess

You saw them. You heard about them. Now let me tell you how to make chessboard cookies.

Leave 90 gms butter out of the fridge until it comes to room temperature. Beat with 3 tbsp icing sugar until light and fluffy. Add 120 gms (1 cup) flour and mix until the dough comes together. It will still be very crumbly. Divide the dough into 2 parts. To one part, add 1/2 tbsp milk and 1/2 tsp vanilla essence. Mix well, then pat into a rectangle 2-3 inches wide.

To the second part, add 1 tbsp cocoa powder dissolved in a tbsp of boiling water. Mix until the dough is a uniform chocolate color, then pat into a rectangle as similar in size to the first one as possible. Chill for half an hour.

Take the dough out of the fridge. Brush some warm milk on the plain/white dough and put the chocolate dough on top of it. Press lightly to join. Cut the rectangle in the middle lengthwise, then flip one half so that the white dough is on the top. Join the two halves back, and cut into cookies. Bake in an oven …

When Food Bloggers Meet

We talked a lot about food
Some more about the world of blogging
And a little bit about ourselves
We shared success stories and misadventures
We brought each other goodies
We laughed and talked some more over cups of coffee
We met as strangers, we left friends

All in all, a great Saturday afternoon spent with Harini and Alka. I totally loved Alka's Koki that we devoured on the spot. And let me tell you that I've eaten at least a few thousand calories since last evening, gorging myself silly on Harini's brownies & cakes and the box of Nariyal Barfi Alka packed for me.

It was fun, girls! Let's do this again sometime soon. And if you already saw the chessboard cookie pictures over at Harini's and Alka's, let me assure you the recipe's coming soon too.

Hummus...deconstructed!

Chickpeas
Salted Yogurt
Toasted Sesame Seeds
Garlic infused Olive Oil
Sumac

If I ever move back to Delhi...

This started out as top 5 must-eats in Delhi. But you can't do a top 5 for the city; it's just impossible to pick that few from the city's gems. Instead, this is a definitive list of foods I miss when I am not in Delhi:

1. Chinese at Bercos. And the best fruit beer ever.

2. Marshmallows at Wengers. Peppermints at Wengers. Puddings (and everything else) at Wengers - they are simply the best bakery in the world.

3. Pyaaz Kachori from Ghantewala at Chandni Chowk.

4. Milk Shakes from Keventor's. Remember those milk bottles before they started putting milk in plastic bags. That's what Keventor's milk shakes come in. And it's just round the corner from Wenger's so you go - Chinese at Bercos, dessert at Wenger's and Butterscotch milkshake at Keventor's. Need a huge apetite for it though.

5. Wimpy's Paneer Burger. Move over McDonalds, for it's such a poor match for burgers and fries from Delhi's very own Wimpy's.

6. Bukhara, the only In…

At home with Shirley Temple

If you are not in India, you have probably never seen a mocktail on a menu. Mixed drinks without any alcohol, mocktails are a must have in a country where so many people stay away from alcohol.

My favorite star of the mocktail world is Shirley Temple. Concocted for the teetotaler Ms. Temple, it really is the simplest of mocktails to make. You essentially mix grenadine with a lime-lemon flavored soda. Ginger ale, Sprite, 7 Up all work well here. The fancier versions “build” the drink, meaning you gradually float grenadine on top of soda so you can see two differently colored layers. Others swear by a shot of orange juice to improve the drink. Try it any way you want; for this post is not about Shirley Temple recipes. It's about grenadine.

I have tried buying Grenadine Syrup, but it was frankly too sweet for my taste. Plus every syrup and mixer you buy comes in those huge bottles that would make a thousand drinks. So what's a soul to do when she wants just ONE Shirley Temple. T…

Baking for a cause

I have been tagged by Sunshinemom and Bharti to bake bread for Breadline Africa, a South Africa based charity organisation that seeks to put a lasting end to poverty in Africa. Their Blogger Bakeoff is an online campaign that challenges bloggers to get involved by baking bread, act by donating to end poverty and then challenge their readers and five other bloggers to do the same.

Their rules for bloggers are outlined below:

1. If you are tagged, copy and paste the rules into your post.
2. Bake bread, do something you wouldn’t normally do, and blog about it. Upload your picture and recipe.
3. Give dough, donate to Breadline Africa and help us end poverty.
4. Tag five bloggers, and ping us so we know you’ve done so.

For this bakeoff, I decided to bake the garlic rolls from Nicole's Thanksgiving menu. Easy to make and delicious, the rolls were a sure winner.



To make garlic rolls, heat 1/2 cup milk until lukewarm and stir in a tsp of sugar. Sprinkle a tsp of yeast and let it ferment …

Flageolet

Isn't this the most poetic of names for this most delicate among beans. Flageolet beans are young kidney beans, dried when they are a very dainty green color. I challenge you to pass by a pack of flageolets without wanting to buy and cook them right away. I know I couldn't; they are so beautiful.

This is a bean I wanted to cook without cluttering it with too many spices. And yet I wanted a proper main dish, not a salad. What I did was adapt my fuss-free rajmah recipe to cook flageolet beans.

Soak 1/2 cup flageolet beans overnight. Next morning, boil beans in salted water until tender. I used a pressure cooker and it took around 7-8 minutes. Chop one large onion into largish pieces and grind to a paste. Also grind 2 tomatoes to a puree separately.

Heat a tbsp of ghee (or olive oil if you like) in a pan. Saute the onion paste on a low heat until it is lightly browned. Add the tomatoes and saute, keeping the heat low, until the onion-tomato paste is well blended and almost dry. …

Pacman Returns

Did you play pacman when you were in school? I think that was the first game I played on a computer and I was hooked. I haven't played Pacman in at least ten years, but I still think fondly of Mr. Pacman and the monsters.

Which brings us to these pacman crackers that I first saw on Natasha's blog. I know this was four months back, but I've been thinking of pacman crackers ever since. And finally, I got around to making them too.

Just combine 60 gms flour, 30 gms butter, 110 gms shredded cheese (I used Amul, use cheddar if you want a punch), 1/4 tsp pepper and 30 ml water and knead into a dough. Leave in the fridge for half an hour. Roll out the dough. then cut a round cracker and make the pacman's mouth by cutting out a slice using the pointed end of your heart shaped cutter (or a star shaped cutter). Make smaller crackers for pacman to bite into and bake everything in a 200C oven for 15 minutes.

On a sago trail

I've spent the last hour trying to figure out how sago differs from tapioca. I only know that they are both starches that come from two different plants, but I still don't know whether our sabudana is sago or tapioca pearls. Instead, I am going to tell you my favorite sabudana dishes. The first one's sabudana vadas, the deep fried sago and potato cutlets. But with a few thousand calories each, that's not something I can eat everyday. The other favorite, sabudana khichdi, makes a regular appearance on my breakfast menu.

It's a bit tricky making this one so pay attention now. The previous night, wash 1/2 cup sago/tapioca pearls and soak in just enough water to cover them. Any more, and this will not work. By next morning, the pearls will have soaked up all the water and will now be plump and soft.

Parboil one potato and cut into small pieces. Heat a tbsp of oil in a nonstick pan and add 1/2 tsp cumin seeds. When they start to splutter, add the chopped potato and a h…

What's better than a plate of carbs?

More carbs, naturally! There's something deeply satifying about a piece of bread, or a bowl of rice. Tuscan peasants knew what they were doing when they invented this rustic pasta dish. Traditionally made with pappardelle or tagliatelle alongwith breadcrumbs and walnuts, it's a dish for days when your fridge is empty.

I, of course, substituted macaroni for fresh pasta. And brazil nuts for walnuts. So here comes Macaroni with Crumbs and Brazil Nuts, the best new pasta dish I've tried in a while.



Boil a cup of macaroni (or spaghetti if you want to be more sensible) in plenty of salted water. Tear 2 slices of white sandwich bread in small pieces, place on a tissue paper and microwave for 30 seconds. The pieces will get soft, but will harden as they cool. Grind to crumbs in a food processor.

Heat a tbsp of olive oil in a pan. Add breadcrumbs and stir till the crumbs are crisp and golden in color. Remove from pan. Add another tbsp of olive oil to the same pan, add 2 garlic clo…

Forbid Me Not

This rice was cultivated exclusively for emperors of China, and the common men were forbidden to eat it. When I read this on the packet of forbidden rice in New York's Whole Foods, it was incentive enough for me to lug it all the way back to India. The other incentive was it's color - black rice, how could I not try it.

Further research told me that while the rice was black raw, it will become a deep purple once cooked. This presented a problem. I couldn't for the life of me figure out what to pair with purple rice. Finally, I decided to cook it like a pulao - sauteed some onions, added rice, salt, black pepper and twice the quantity of water then let the rice simmer for 45 minutes or so till it was done.

The flavor was akin to a very fine basmati, but had more bite to it. And I had it with the only white colored pairing I could think of : spiced yogurt.

I know I am a day late, but this rice - from black to purple - makes a perfect entry for Sunshinemom's Food in Col…

Alice in Wonderland

It's hard to say if Alice in Wonderland is a very popular fairytale written by Lewis Carroll, or the biggest piece of literally nonsense ever written. What's easy to say is that the book has the power to mesmerize all readers, irrespective of their age. I've read it many times over the years, and I enjoyed it all over again as this month's pick for "This Book Makes Me Cook".

Funnily enough, I rarely remember Alice at first when I think of Alice in Wonderland. I always recall Cheshire cat's grin and mad hatter's tea party. And I think of the caterpillar on the mushroom. And the queen saying "Off with their head". It's bizarre, but unforgettably so.

It was the memory of the playing card gardeners painting the roses red, and the image of playing cards parading with the king and queen of hearts that prompted me to make my playing cards cake.



The base for the playing cards is the basic madeira cake. I set oven to preheat at 180C. Beat 120 gm…

The show must go on

I haven't had any access to internet and emails for the past three days, but I know some of you have been concerned about my safety. So just wanted to quickly stop here and tell you I am fine.

Fine, but scared at the extent of terror in my city. Shocked at the death toll. Sad that the "palace" that symbolized Bombay to me and countless others for the past hundred years is damaged.

Mumbai has responded in the only way it can. The markets are open. People are back in offices. We refuse to acknowledge terror. The show, as they say, goes on...

A Cherry a Month

Cherries are the fruit of choice for November's A Fruit A Month being hosted by Rachel. Where will I find cherries in November, I asked? And Rachel assured me that she would let me use them in any form - canned, preserved or dried. So when my friend turned up for lunch on sunday afternoon and I needed a dessert in a hurry, I converted my trusted berry muffin recipe to incorporate dried cherries I had in my fridge.



To make four cherry muffins, mix 100 gms flour with 1 tsp baking powder and 40 gms caster sugar. Set oven to preheat at 200C. Melt 30 gms butter and pour into the flour mixture. Add 1 egg, 1/2 tsp vanilla essence and 50 gms yogurt. Mix well to form a batter, then add a handful of dried cherries. Mix and spoon into four paper lined muffin cases. Top with some more dried cherries and bake for 15 minutes.

I could have browned them a bit more, but I like the contrasting colors and the flavor was just perfect. Yummy lunch dessert ready in a jiffy - who said muffins are only …

From boring lunch to Gourmet feast

Scene I. Sunday 9 am
Cook: What do I make for lunch?
Me (sleepy and bleary eyed): Anything. Isn't there spinach in the fridge? Make aloo palak. And leave some dough for me. I'd make rotis.
Cook: Okay. I also cut some cucumber for salad.
Me (just wanting to go back to sleep): Yeah, whatever!

Scene II. Sunday 12.30 pm
Friend: I'm shopping in the neighborhood. Will pop by in half an hour.
Me: Great! Stay for lunch
Friend: Wow! I'm sure you made something interesting. Bye
Me (To Myself): Is Aloo Palak interesting. NO WAY!!!!!!

Which is why I converted aloo palak and cucumber salad to an interesting gourmet lunch. We had my signature mocktail and green salad for starters. Burritos (or something similar) for mains. And while my main course was in the oven, I quickly mixed up the batter for muffins. Ready by the time we finished eating our main course.



When I say green salad, I mean really green. Cucumber, green olives, capers and mint leaves with salt, pepper and a dash of lemon jui…

Sushi for Beginners

I am incredibly nervous. Sushi is one of the things I never thought I could make at home. But the closest sushi restaurant that passes muster (in fact, the only one in Mumbai) is a couple of hours drive away which means I have to go without sushi for rather a lot of days. So slowly, steadily, I've put all the ingredients together. I have a tube of wasabi, a pack of nori sheets and sushi rice in my pantry. A bottle of dark soy sauce in the fridge. All of which became spring onion and tofu maki rolls for dinner last night.

Wash half cup sushi rice in plenty of water at least 3-4 times until the starch gets washed away. Add 3/4 cup water (or as much as your package say), bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat but let the rice remain covered for another 10 minutes. In a small pan, heat 2 tbsp vinegar with 3/4 tbsp sugar and a pinch of salt until well blended. Sushi needs rice vinegar but I didn't have any so I used 1 1/2 tbsp white vinegar mixed with 1/2 tbs…

I've cracked it!

I dig hot chocolate. So much that I find reasons to have a couple of hours between connecting flights in Delhi. Just so I can hop into Choko La and have a cup of Papua Hot Chocolate. And sometimes I feel that I only go to London so I can go to the Chocolate Bar at Harrods. All because I can never get the right flavor when I make hot chocolate at home. Or didn't, until yesterday. This morning, I finally got it right.

I started with 20 gms of pure dark chocolate. Not milk, not semi-sweet; just plain 70% dark (I use Lindt). I don't have a double boiler so I heated water in a saucepan until it came to a boil, then reduced the heat to let the water simmer. Next I found another pan that fitted in the rim of the saucepan and added chocolate pieces to this one. After a few seconds, when the chocolate started melting, I just swirled it a bit with a fork to break the pieces. Once all the chocolate had melted, in went half a teaspoon of sugar. Mixed for a few seconds, then poured in a c…

Celebration Shortbread

I always get excited about birthdays. And now in the blogging world, I have another birthday to look forward to apart from my own : blog birthday. My first blog birthday is still a few months away, but birthday celebrations are on at Aparna's diverse kitchen. She's asked for a special sweet something to bring to her party.

With her lovely breads, Aparna's my inspiration to dig into baking. So I knew I wanted to bake something for her. And the sinful goodie I immediately thought of was the shortbread I made for our book club last month. In a chocolate version (doesn't that make anything very special!)

To make chocolate-y shortbread, soften 100 gms butter. Mix 130 gms plain flour, 30 gms cornflour and 55 gms caster sugar. Add butter and slowly rub it in. Press with your hands until the dough comes together. Make lemon sized balls of the dough. Arrange on a baking sheet and press lightly to flatten. Sprinkle with chocolate bits. I got mine pre-shaped from my favorite bak…

Keeping it simple

Srivalli is back with another of her melas. After roti and curries, it's the turn of rice dishes! For her mela, I have the simplest rice dish in my repertoire. Chana Dal Khichdi, the easiest of comfort foods but also ceremonial. For this is the khichdi we make on bhai dooj, the first thing my brother eats after I put a tilak on his forhead to mark the occasion.

To make chana dal khichdi, boil 1/4 cup chana dal with 1 cup water until it's al dente. I've noticed that 4-5 whistles in the pressure cooker usually does it. While the dal is cooking, wash and soak 1/4 cup rice. Open the pressure cooker and add rice (without any more water, the original one cup is sufficient), 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, a generous pinch of salt and another generous pinch of garam masala. Add a tsp of ghee, close the pressure cooker and cook on a low heat for 10 minutes. By this time, you khichdi will be fairly dry and both the rice and dal will be well done. We serve it with plain yogurt, but by all mea…

Fighting Diabetes

When Sangeeth announced her Fight Diabetes event, I am sure she had in mind special foods for diabetics. I agree that special foods they have to be, with all the restrictions on what you can and can't eat. But having watched diabetes up close, I also know that anything that's too out of ordinary isn't going to cut any ice here. After all, diabetics have to follow a special diet the rest of their life. And if I grew up eating paranthas for breakfast, a fruit salad, no matter how nice, just isn't satisfying enough.

When I think of food for diabetes, I think of things like besan parantha. While I have no medical facts to prove this, family lore has always told me that chickpeas - the small brown variety - help combat diabetes. So does besan or chickpea flour made from these. And this parantha in a version where it isn't fried and has minimal fats is a breakfast that would make my father happy. Without making him feel guilty!



Mix half cup besan with a small finely cho…

Bhathure

Here's the bhathura recipe I promised a couple of days back. Mix one cup plain flour with a tsp of cumin seeds, 1/2 tsp of ajwain (carom seeds) and a hearty pinch of salt. Add 1/2 cup yogurt and knead to a soft dough. You might need to add some water as well. Leave the dough in a warm place for 5-6 hours to ferment. If you live somewhere with a terrace, leave it out in the winter sun. If not, find the warmest place in the house for the dough to live till it swells.

The dough will be very sticky by now, so put in the fridge for half an hour for the dough to firm up a bit. Take a lemon sized ball of dough and roll out thin. You can do this for the entire dough and keep the bhathuras covered while you heat oil to fry them in.

Heat at least half a pan full of oil to smoking point. Reduce the heat and slide a bhathura in. Press lightly and (hopefully!) the bhathura will puff up. Turn and cook until the bhathura is browned on both sides. You just made the perfect partner to chickpeas. …

You aren't a Punjabi if...

...you can't make great chhole. I am still a work in progress because mine never turn out half as good as mom's. This is her version. My contribution to the entire post was just standing there with a camera.



There are two ways to make chhole. The traditional way is to figure out the right proportion of some twenty odd spices, grind them, etc. The easy way is to buy chhole masala. To make Punjabi chhole the easy way, soak a cup of chickpeas overnight. Boil them in plenty of water until soft with 1/2 tsp of salt and a tea bag thrown in to give chickpeas a brown color. Throw away the teabag and drain the chickpeas but retain the water they were boiled in.

Chop one large onion finely. Also chop a 1 inch piece of ginger and a tbsp of coriander leaves. Puree two tomatoes. Heat 1 tbsp ghee in a pan. Saute onion and ginger until brown. Add tomato puree. Also add coriander now - we're using it for flavor not color in this recipe. Saute until the masala is very dry. Add 1/2 tsp sal…

The Versatile Peas

Greeen peas have to be the most versatile vegetable after potatoes. I eat them year round now that you can get them fresh not frozen. But late autumn and early winter is truly their season, when you get them at their freshest. Back at our home, you would notice peas pulao and matar paneer with increasing regularity around now. And by the time December rolls in, mom would be pairing peas with everything under the winter sun : carrots, cauliflower and if all else fails, potatoes to make aloo matar. This is our fail proof lunch : a tangy curry with two of the most favored vegetables that you can eat with either roti or rice.

And what's the best part about making anything with peas? You can eat them raw while you were shelling them, they are that fresh right now! So start by shelling peas and if you have some left to make the vegetable, read on.

Chop a large onion finely. Also chop a tomato into small cubes. Heat 2 tsp ghee in a pan, add onions and saute until lightly browned. Now a…

Is it soup? No, Saar

We are having a Maharashtrian food festival at my home right now. It all starts every few months when my cook, who's a Maharashtrian herself, hands me a list of ingredients to buy because she's had an inspiration to cook something special. And ever since I tasted her sabudana khichdi and usal, it doesn't take a lot of motivation for me to go get coconut, kokam or whatever else she needs. The biggest motivation of all is her tomato saar.

Saar has a soup like consistency and can be eaten on its own. But my cook insists that its a curry to be eaten with plain rice and it's my favorite way too.

To make saar, drop 2 tomatoes in boiling water. Wait for a few minutes and remove. The skin should come off easily by now. Puree the peeled tomatoes. Mix 2-3 tbsp chopped or shredded coconut, a few cloves of garlic, 2 green chillies and 2 tbsp coriander leaves. Grind to a fine paste.

Heat a tbsp of oil in a pan. Add a tsp of cumin seeds and let splutter. Add 1/4 tsp turmeric powder…

Resolutions...

No, it's not new year yet. But this is Bombay Foodie's 100th post. I've come a long way in the past months, made a few starts. More importantly, I've made so many friends...lovely people who have stopped by with beautiful, encouraging comments and mails.

And yet, with the last 100 posts, my wishlist of foodie flavors yet to explore hasn't diminished, rather it's grown. This is a wishlist of things I would like to do, but it's a list I fully expect to get longer for my 200th post. So here goes:

1. Bake a whole loaf of bread

2. Eat at one of the top 50 restaurants in the world. And no, Bukhara doesn't count, even if it ever makes to top 50

3. Make sushi

4. Delve into the alchemy of food. Create something, anything that qualifies as molecular gastronomy.

5. Bake and decorate a cake

6. Make fresh mozarella cheese

7. Make macarons

8. Make fresh pasta

9. Taste blood oranges

10. Cook with rhubarb

11. Make mango pickle like mom

12. Make appams

13. Eat a Meye…

Arbi Style II

Flash back to that time before deep freezers and shopping malls. Before broccoli, bell peppers and avocados became commonplace in Indian kitchens. When vegetables and fruits meant whatever was grown that season within a few hundred kilometers of wherever you lived. I divide that time by vegetables not seasons. I am pretty sure there was more variety, but after you ruled out the bottle gourds and pumpkins, summer for me was arbi and bhindi. Just like winter was sarson ka saag which I would steadfastly refuse to eat and so only options were matar and gobhi. That's what comes out of being picky when you are growing up.

But what also comes out of this limited range is more variety in how you cook these vegetables. Let's start with colcassia or arbi. There's fried arbi I wrote about a few months back. Then there's this commonplace arbi sabzi, close enough to fried arbi but not the same. And there's a third one...but that one later. Featured right now is arbi in it'…

Parantha Time

It's amazing how traditions are made. Take this one for example. For the past many years, we eat gobhi paranthas on diwali night. I think it first started because we were a bit tired of all the sweets, dry fruits and chocolates that are gifted you on diwali day. And it was 11 pm, that time after the festivities are over. You're done with lakshmi puja, have lighted up the rather huge house with electric lights, diyas and candles, bursted tons of crackers and then you don't know what else to do. So the crisp pan-fried gobhi paranthas just sounded perfect. And continue to sound perfect many years later. We had gobhi parathas once again last night after the excitement of the festival.

To make gobhi paranthas, make a smooth, elastic but not too soft a dough with whole wheat flour and water. Grate cauliflower florets. Add salt, garam masala, red chilli powder, ajwain (carom seeds) and some chopped coriander leaves. Mix, then squeeze the mixture between palms to drain out any ex…

Back to School

Ask any book lover what their favorite childhood read was, and chances are they would name one of the Enid Blytons. Who can ignore the charms of Noddy, or the very mischevious Famous Five and Secret Seven. Blyton must have written hundreds of books in her time. I still devour all her childhood sagas, and I know a lot of you do as well. For when Bhags first ran "This Book Makes Me Cook" in May, didn't half the participants pick an Enid Blyton as inspiration to cook from.

It isn't surprising then that "This Book Makes Me Cook" is reading a Blyton this month. The book we picked was "The Naughtiest Girl in the School", one of the several school series she wrote. With vivid descriptions, the book brings to life a quintessential English boaring school called Whyteleafe. Equally close to life is our heroine Elizabeth, the girl with a heart of gold who's pretending to be naughty.

There is plenty in the book to excite a foodie. The lunches and dinners…

Blog Picks : Oregano, Onion and Paneer Rolls

These started off as dill, onion and paneer rolls in Aparna's kitchen a few days back. I loved the interplay of fragrant herbs, paneer and crunchy onions. Plus anything that's a small roll and not a loaf is an instant hit in my view. I didn't have dill when temptation to bake this roll struck me last night, but I had a pack of oregano I didn't have instant use for. This is the only change I made in Aparna's super-easy recipe.

Start by adding a tbsp of honey and 1 1/2 tsp yeast to 1/2 cup warm milk. Leave it for 10-15 minutes until the yeast is bubbling. Mix a cup each of plain flour and whole wheat flour with 1 finely chopped onion, 1/2 cup crumbled paneer, 2 tbsp chopped oregano, 1 tbsp oat bran and 1/2 tsp salt. Add the yeast mixture and knead until you get a soft, smooth and elastic dough. Form the dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl. Cover and allow to rise till double in volume.

Gently deflate the dough and shape into 6 rolls. Place on a greased baki…

Blog Picks : Beet Hummus

Beets are one of those super healthy foods your conscience nags you to eat every once in a while. But I don't like beets as it is. Which is why when DK made an exciting version of hummus with beet as part of the recipe marathon in May, I bookmarked it instantly.

If only I get back to my bookmarked recipes in time. But even five months later, beet hummus was a delight. The only change I made to DK's recipe was using sesame seeds instead of tahini. And it only takes 5 minutes to make as long as you remember to soak chickpeas and have them boiled and ready.

Visibly more colorful, and also more delicious than the regular hummus. I am an instant fan.

Pita with Pizzazz

When I bought this pita bread, I had a bright idea for a new hummus. Then life happened. And I forgot to soak chickpeas. Which means my hummus will have to wait for another day. But in the meanwhile, I have pita in my fridge. And I have a dinner to cook.

I also have some peppers and baby corn lying around, which reminds me of my favorite sandwich roll filling. From there, it's a simple matter of putting the two together for "Baby Corn and Peppers in Pita"



To make the filling, roast one red bell pepper (see tips for roasting here). Peel and cut into strips. Halve 10-12 babycorns and cut into matchsticks. Heat a tbsp of olive oil and saute babycorn over low heat until it softens. Add peppers and saute for a minute. Next, I added 3 tbsp of red chilli sauce, but you can add your favorite pasta sauce or whatever tomato based bottle of sauce you find in your fridge. Let cook for 2-3 minutes until the filling is almost dry. I didn't need to add any salt or pepper, but go b…

Guacamole!

I was at first a reluctant convert to avocados. The nutty flavor is very different from anything else I'd tasted and it took some getting used to. Then I fell in love with guacamole.

There are as many ways of making guacamole as the number of people who make it. I myself make a mildly spicy dip. But today, I have a salad like version with slightly underripe avocados.



Chop one avocado, one small onion, one firm tomato and a few slices of jalepenos into small cubes. Finely chop a few sprigs of coriander (I didn't because I didn't have any). Add as much salt and cayenne pepper as you like and juice of one lemon. Mix. Eat.

Homecoming

After three weeks of world cuisine, all I've wanted to eat in the past week is Indian comfort food. Like this Sai Bhaji, the Sindhi combination of lentils and spinach.



Start by cleaning a bunch of spinach. Wash spinach, remove any tough stalks and chop the leafs into small bits. Heat a tsp of ghee in a pressure cooker. Drop in 1/2 tsp of cumin seeds and let them sizzle. Add one finely chopped onion and stir fry until it is lightly browned. Add one finely chopped tomato and cook for a couple of minutes. Add add 1/2 tsp of turmeric powder and salt to taste (1/2 tsp does it for me).

Drop the palak into the spices and stir for a few second till it wilts. Add 1/3 cup masur dal and 2 cups water. Close your pressure cooker and cook for 3 whistles. Add some garam masala and serve on top of plain rice.

Sai Bhaji traditionally uses chana dal (split peas), but they take longer to cook so if you want to make that version start by soaking chana dal for half an hour. The rest of the recipe rem…

The Sights and Sounds of Borough

And of my other favorite farmers market at New York's Union Square. Plus a snapshot of the foods I brought back from my trip. There are some pictures in the older posts as well if you want to go back and sneak a look!








Melting Pot

I am at New York's JF Kennedy Airport waiting for my trip to end, and my flight home to take off. For all of last week, I have tried and yet not said anything to you about New York city and its foodscape. For what could I have said....in the past week I had Indian, Thai, Japanese, Mexican, new-age raw vegan, Italian and Turkish food. And I had salads and sandwiches and pizzas from the delis of Times Square. And of course, I had bagels with cream cheese and New Yorkers' favorite eggs & cheese on roll for breakfast.

How does one explain this melange, this melting pot of cultures that defines New York city. Every time I come here, I get simply awed by the foods of New York. And every trip I make discoveries new.

Yet, there's one thing I can't do without in NY. Not because it's better than anything else, but because it's what I miss the most when I get back home. We are talking about Starbucks. You can laugh if you like, but I love the way it's the same co…

Stars in my eyes

If you are a New Yorker, stop reading right now. This post is only for tourists, specially the folks crowding the Times Square looking for a bit of Broadway magic. You can obviously capture your Broadway memories at one of the many excellent plays or musicals around where I am right now. But the perfect touristy thing to do will be to head out to Stardust Diner.

Stardust is a Broadway parody of American midwest style diners, all chrome tables and faux leather booths. I am sure they have excellent burgers and fries or other diner-like food that I haven't seen as a vegetarian. But despite the awful food, I do end up here one evening every time I come to visit the Big Apple. Two reasons : one, the drinks. They do awesome grown-ups milkshakes that come in a tall metal tumbler. I only always drink malted mudslide and can vouch for it being out of the world.

The second, touristy, cheesy reason is their singing waiters. So one moment, your waitress is taking your order, the next one she…

This Book Makes Me Cook : Harry Potter Special

We are having a magical month at This Book Makes Me Cook. September is Harry Potter Special, and we have decided to create a recipe based on our favorite harry potter book. I so completely love the world Rowling has created in her seven books. But the magic starts wearing off just a little bit in her later ones, so I always enjoy the first three books in the series the most.

And my top favorite; that has to be the very first one. When a common little boy enters the magic castle and meets the half-giant Hagrid, the old wizard Dumbledore and (my favorite) the sorting hat. Oh! I completely love the first time Diagon Alley opens to show her wares to Harry, that first trip across the barrier to Platform 9 3/4, the first boat ride to the magical world that is Hogwarts.

If you have been following my trip to London these past days, you probably know already that I am far away from my kitchen and unable to cook. Which makes me sad because I would have so liked to create something from the fea…

Macaroon-ed

Does it ever happen to you when you go to a new city that you pass by a place you want to go in, think you have enough time later, but never end up coming back that way. Always happens to me. I think I still have another 2-3-5 or whatever number of days, but the end always comes so soon and then I end up having lots of what-ifs, my little bits of unfinished business in the city I might never come back to.

Like this small kiosk set up by the french bakery chain Paul in a canary wharf mall. I had a sandwich there, but I was bewitched by their macaroons. It was morning, and too early for the sugar rush so I thought I'd come back in the evening. And every evening I'd get late at work and they would be closed by the time I got there.

So I made myself leave office a bit early yesterday. And Paul was open. And I got my little bit of heaven. Paul makes those super large macaroons filled with butter cream in a few flavors. But that's regular enough. What I loved at Paul was a tray…

Chocolate at Harrods

Now you probably know of Harrods already as the heaven for shoppers. Synonymous with luxury retailing, Harrods can be a bit over the top at time. But there is no doubting that an hour at Harrods can put you in touch with the best any store has to offer anywhere.

My favorite part of Harrods is (not suprisingly) their food halls. The confectionary, chocolates, cheeses, caviar and restaurants counters from around the world - I always get lost and end up spending hours there. And then I head up to second floor to a relatively unknown jewel at Harrods. It's called the Chocolate Bar, and the name really says it all this time.

You can have a chocolate shot - similiar to espresso but decidely more delicious. Or the long version, which is pure chocolate with cream or milk. My favorite is their big platter of strawberries and mini-marshmallows with a chocolate dip. In true Harrods style, you can have a glass of champagne to go with that.

I haven't tried their chocolate shakes but I hav…

Dinner at 84 Charing Cross Road

It's now called Med Kitchen. But the oakwood floors are the same. You walk into the hall where Frank Doel came back from his buying trips; to ship Newman's first edition and Latin Vulgate to Helene. And you climb down the solid wood stairs to the cellars (now restrooms) that held long tables with their precious treasures.

I was sombre over my starter of olives with Pimms. By the time I finished my entree of Penne Arrabita, I was close to tears. I could not order dessert for the fear I'd burst out crying.

For gone are the display windows. And the upstairs room where Helene scooped up the white lettering. Also long gone is the Poole's at 86 where Pat Buckley showed up to get his copy autographed.

But how about this Helene - I finally made it!

PS: I wrote this in July 2007, but it is such an integral part of my London memories that I just had to post it...If you don't know what I am talking about, go read 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff!

PPS: Contrary to my fears…

Tea for a queen

An average Britisher enjoys an elaborate meal of cucumber sandwiches, scones, clotted cream, jam and rich cakes sometime between lunch and dinner. The afternoon tea is more than a meal; its a tradition, the hallmark of British culture and almost sancrosanct. Right?

Extremely wrong, as it turns out! Sorry to disappoint all Jane Austen and Wodehouse fans out there, but the English afternoon tea is a fallacy re-created entirely for the gullible tourist. An average Londoner would hop into the nearest cafe and order a cuppa with some finger food just like an average New Yorker would pick up a coffee from Starbucks.

Ah well! a setback to my plans for non-touristy afternoon tea. But then, I can always go to one of the fantasy places. I am a tourist after all. The top of the tourist ladder, Ritz, is sold out. You apparently have to book six weeks in advance. I tried the more unconventional Wolseley instead, but they were full out for the afternoon. There's one thing to be said about Lond…

A sticky toffee pudding doesn't stick

That kind of defeats the point. But it's very very nice. Think of it as a warm, gooey, chocolate-y muffin coated with toffee sauce. I don't care much for the clotted cream that it comes with but it helps balance the sweetness.



This is from Browns, my lifesaver in Canary Wharf when I am jet lagged and so not up to going to town to eat. It's always Browns or Japanese fast-food chain Wagamama on my first day here. Because I get so little time in the city outside work, these are my London traditions. Little goalposts that define my feel of the city, places I return to on every visit.

Oh! I am so looking forward to rediscovering the city. Even though I know my next two weeks in London are going to be cold and cloudy at best; rainy and miserable at worst. Even though london never feels like summer, it feels great to be back!

Up, up and Away

Bombay Foodie is going away. For the next 3 weeks, you are not going to hear from my kitchen. But don't think that lets you off. My trip to London and New York might be work-only, but there will be some sightseeing sneaked in. And there will be food. For isn't that the only sightseeing I ever do : restaurants, grocery stores and farmers markets.

Stay tuned for a flavor of London next two weeks, and then some food reports from the Big Apple.

Kadhi Chawal

I just can't think of what to write today. That's what my absolute favorite meal does to me, I just want to stop talking and dig right in. So I won't ramble and go straight on the recipe for kadhi.

First, make the pakoras that would go in the kadhi. Slice an onion lengthwise. Make a batter with 1/2 cup chickpea flour (besan), salt, red chilli powder and water. Dip onions in this batter and deep fry until crisp. Keep aside.

Now blend 1 cup yogurt and 1/3 cup besan into a paste. Add 3-4 cups water to make a very thin blend. Heat a tbsp of oil in a pan. Add a tsp each of mustard seeds, cumin seeds, ajwain (carom seeds) and methre (fenugreek seeds). Let splutter for a few seconds. Now add a large onion, cut lengthwise into thin slices and cook until browned lightly. Pour in the yogurt/besan mix and add 1 tsp turmeric powder, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp red chilli powder. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and let simmer for at least half an hour. You have to stir this occasionally b…

It's raining, again

This has been a strange year for rains. The monsoons arrived late, threw a few tantrums and then dried up. Now, after a few dry weeks, we are most likely getting the last rains of the year.

The only thing I ever feel like eating when it rains are pakoras and chai. Vegetables, most likely onions and potatoes but sometimes paneer, dipped in a gramflour batter and deep fried. Warm and crisp - the most perfect antidote to grey skies there is.



There's another reason I'm making paneer pakoras today. We have a family tradition - it's always cakes and paneer pakoras for birthdays. Always, ever since I was a really small kid. You can add to this menu if it's a bigger party, but these two are must have for a very special birthday today.

Happy Birthday, Papa! You are the best father in the world.

Konkan Yatra

If you were wondering where I went to last weekend (and I know some of you did, since I vanished on our book posting day), I was out on a trip to the Konkan coast. No, not the Goa Konkan. But some truly beautiful, unspoilt, off-the-beaten-track beaches. Some lovely small towns, and a journey through the Ghats. Where the mountains and the sea give you a California-like feel.

Surprisingly, despite the fishing vessels spread all along its coasts, the town we went to was mostly vegetarian. At least, our resort was. Since being this close to the sea leaves them with very little fresh vegetable/fruit options, the cuisine is heavy on grains and legumes. As you can see in one of the our dinners:



This is by no means typical Maharashtrian food. But there are bits and pieces you won't see anywhere else. Like the nachani papad. Or the very delicious dal and aloo bhaji.

Oh! and the breakfast was such fun. We got sabudana wada and poha one day. Batata wada and sheera the next. A few thousand c…

Mumbai brings its favorite God home

The day started with drumbeats as Mumbai's public societies and countless homes started bringing in Ganesha idols. Ganesha, first among gods and Bombay's favorite, will be worshiped for the next ten days and then immersed in the sea. This is Mumbai's favorite festival, one that whole city celebrates.

Most homes would do the visarjan (immersion) tomorrow so today's the day for dinner invitations. And everywhere you go you see modaks, Ganpati's much loved sweet. And since I have three dinner invitations already, Bombay Foodie's celebrating with kheer instead.



To make kheer, wash 1/4 cup short grain rice and soak in 1/3 cup water for half an hour. Boil the rice in the water it was soaked in until the water almost dries and the rice is half cooked. Now add 3 cups (around 1/2 litre) milk. Bring to a boil and simmer until the milk thickens to a custard like consistency. Stir occasionally. Add 2 tbsp sugar, simmer for another couple of minutes and pour into a pretty …

Cooking with Anita and Me

Anita and Me, the Indian immigrant story by Meera Syal, is book of the month at "This Book Makes Me Cook". Meera Syal's picture of an Indian family that immigrated to Britain in early 70s is meant to convey the struggles of childhood, the difficulties of being the only brown face in a very British small town. Curiously enough, I found her Meena to be just any teenager anywhere.

The people who intrigued me were her parents. And all other parents who migrated to a strange land to make fortunes for their families. But who also left their hearts and souls behind in India. The book's real enough in its character's attempts to forget, yet relive partition. In their mehfils, in their attempt to get together and sing, to keep their memories alive.

What this book wanted me to cook was something the family would serve when guests came over for these mehfils. Not the British curry that passes as Indian food. But something truly desi like samosas, the omnipresent Indian sn…

Chocolate Shots

One of the banes of living in tiny Bombay flats is the miniscule kitchen they come with. Which means that my kitchen shelf could fit my gas stove and my oven, but no microwave. Yes! No Microwave all these years, for I would never let go of my precious little oven-cum-grill. But Papa came over for a visit last month and he's fixed up a space for my brand-new microwave.

So now, I can send an entry for Srivalli's Microwave Easy Cooking. To make it easier for a first timer, Srivalli's actually made it a potluck party. Bring what you like, she said. I bring Chocolate Shots.



Soak 1/2 tbsp of chinagrass flakes in 1/4 cup water and leave aside for half an hour. These can be made with gelatine as well, but I just got hold of a pack of china grass and have been wanting to make something of it. Microwave for 1 minute, and stir until chinagrass dissolves completely.

In another bowl mix 1 cup milk, 1 tbsp cocoa powder, 1 tbsp caster sugar and a few drops of vanilla essence. Microwave…

An Award and a Meme

I never knew there are such sweet awards you got for writing a blog. Or I would have started sooner. The latest one comes my way from Kitchen Flavours.



The Wylde Woman Award was started by Tammy Vitale to send love and acknowledgment to men and women, who brighten your day, teach you new things and live their lives fully with generosity and joy.

There are so many lovely people I got to know through this blog, and they really make my day every time they stop by, leave a comment or send a mail to say hello. There is no way I can say a thank you to all, so I am passing on this award to just a few of these absolutely lovely people:

notyet100, who surely has lot of talents apart from her amazing cooking.

Rachel, the baker, the book lover!

Harini, the perfect Sunshine MOM.

Aparna, baking to glory in beautiful Goa.

Sukanya, now how does she think of such creative cookies!

And now the Meme....

Shreya send me this bookie Meme a while back. It's quite silly really, but aren't all of them. S…

Truly Punjabi by Nature

Back from a trip to Delhi, with just enough time between flights to drop into "Punjabi by Nature" for lunch. It's Punjabi food at its finest, though their most famous (infamous!) menu item is not food. They were the first to introduce vodka golgappa shots - 2 large golgappas filled with pepper vodka and their in-house sweet-n-sour. I've heard of Punjabi by Nature in "vodka golgappas" context for the past several years. However, this is not what I had on my trip there.

I ordered the north Indian staples - Lahori Paneer and butter naan. The waiter stifled my attempts to order a couple of nans with "order just one - it's quite big". Now big is quite an understatement, it's huge, mammoth, gigantic. There were two of us, and we could not finish one naan.

And I felt so full I had to miss out on the other famous thing on their menu I have craved for years, flambed gulab jamuns. Just imagine the drama of it - a large gulab jamum covered with cogn…

Taste & Create Redux

Another month, another taste & create! This month my partner is Temperance from High on the Hog. Temperance has another lovely blog for her non-food thoughts, but she recently started this one to stash away her recipes.

A lot of cooking she does is for other events. Now, I have no ambition to attempt anything from the Daring Bakers challenges for say another few years. And I did bake once for Bread Baking Day, but that's going to last me for a while. Which largely leaves me with her recipes from the past taste & create challenges to pick from.

To add to my motivation to recreate a past T&C entry, one of Temperance's entries is actually bookmarked in my favorites. I loved Souffled Eggs when she made them back in June, and have been looking for an occasion to make them. No better day than today!



When Smita first made them, she used 3 eggs. Temperance thought they were too many and only used two. I, in my recipe reduction mode as always, have made a single serving us…