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Showing posts from August, 2008

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…

A Taste of Amritsar

Writing in the middle of my vacation from my beloved hometown. Amritsar, the holy city, right next to the border they drew when they partitioned Punjab. There is a lot I can tell you about Amritsar food, and I probably will sometime. But right now, I just want to talk about this one curry from Amritsar's culinary repertoire. I want to talk about aloo-wadi.

Wadis are sun-dried spheres of urad dal cooked with lots of black pepper and red chillies. You can get wadis at most grocery stores in Punjab but the true Amritsaris go to those tiny stores in the old walled city. We have a favorite store to buy wadis and pappads. Every family does!

Before I tell you how to cook wadi, a word of warning. Wadis are very, very spicy and definitely not for the faint-hearted. The two most popular ways to cook wadi are with bottle gourd or a curry with potatoes. I've never cared much for the gourd family, so aloo-wadi it is.



Break wadi into small pieces. Heat a tsp of ghee in a pan and fry wadis …

Berry Foolish

There is an amazing lot I don't know about cooking. I've never baked a cake or a whole loaf of bread. Never made meringue. Never worked with a pastry bag.

I always get fascinated by professionally decorated food so decided to set at least the last one right. Whipped a cup of cream with a tbsp of caster sugar until it was thick. Got hold of a sandwich bag, cut a small hole and dropped a piping nozzle in. Filled the bag with my whipped cream and then spent a happy hour creating circles, curves and squiggles. I won't torment you with my amateur decorating skills.

But when I'd finished having fun with piping cream I still had half a bag of whipped cream left. Perfect to make a fool.



I've been mixing whipped cream and fruit to create a decandent dessert for ages. But I realized very recently that this is the classic English dessert called Fool. A typical fool is a mix of sweetened fruit puree and whipped cream. But where do I find fruits suitable for a fool in Bombay m…

Balsamic Potatoes

Last year, I bought this book called Vegetarian Cuisines of the World by Asha Khatau. The book, with a section each on most popular cuisines, has clearly been written for someone living in India. There are no silly instructions like "go to your nearest supermarket and find a carton of sour cream" or "now we need a pound of fresh raspberries". There are, no doubt, ingredients you need to hunt the grocery stores for but there are also helpful hints on what you can exclude or substitute. All of which makes it perfect for AWED.

So when DK announced AWED Italiano, I promptly turned to the Italian section and picked Balsamic Potato Salad. Why not a pasta or a pizza - my beloved staples? For as far as I am concerned, Balsamic Vinegar remains Italy's biggest contribution to the world. They have no right to call this sweet gem from Modena a vinegar. It's just in a class of its own!



Before you make the salad, make sour cream. You need 1/2 cup of thick yogurt - tying…

Food in Wonderland

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who loved to read. When all her friends went out to play, she would sit in her room and read books that took her to a magical land. One day, the little girl's father got her a magazine to read. A children's magazine that had found its way to her from Russia. It was a new world, of places and people she never knew existed.

She turned the pages until she came to this little book hidden in the magazine. The book was called "Fantasy on Your Plates" and it taught her to make magic houses, and cats, and hedgehogs. That day, the little girl fell in love with food.

Many years passed. The little girl became an old girl. She still treasured her little book, remembered all its recipes. But somehow, in the many dishes she made, her little book remained untested, untried. As she roamed the blogsphere, she met another young girl who had fallen in love with the food magic. The young girl was on her way to wonderland for her birthday party …

Blog Picks : Tomato Bites

Call me dense or what, but I only first heard about TasteSpotting when all those "TasteSpotting is Dead" posts cropped up. And then I heard of foodgawker. And now I spend minutes, hours just staring at the lovely photography. It was during one of the gawking sessions that I found these delicious tomatoes.

For me, tomatoes are the ultimate food. I can just pick one off the fridge shelf and bite into it. I always do, ever since I was a kid, when urgent hunger pangs strike. This is the same concept : tomatoes you can pick up and eat, but in a fancier gourmet version.



To make tomato bites, cut tomatoes into three segments. You might need to cut a bit off the bottom segment to make sure it sits well on the plate. Find basil leaves slightly larger than the tomatoes and trim their edges. Spread a little goat cheese on the bottom tomato segment(I also added a little crushed pepper to my cheese before spreading). Add a basil leaf, then a little bit more of cheese. Now put the middle…

Have you been to Falafels yet

I don't like the food courts at shopping malls. All of them have the same chain restaurants and since I only go on weekends, they are overly crowded. But in the past couple of months I have made umpteen trips to the food court at newly opened Oberoi Mall. All for Falafels.

Falafels is the McDonalds of Arabic food. They have hummus, Baba ghanoush, falafels, pickles all lined up so when you order its just ready for you to pick up and go. There's quite a variety you can order there, including desserts. But I only ever order hummus with falafels. Its typical fast food style : a plate full of hummus drizzled with a few spoons of tahina and dotted with falafels. Plus a couple of warm pitas.

This is one store bought hummus I've truly liked, and Tahina gives it a nice edge. They also let you take pots of hummus and other dips home. Which is perfect for me for days when I am hungry but don't really know what I want to eat. Or for days when I want to eat this favorite food beca…