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Showing posts from March, 2011

My Mom's Lime Pickle

Don't go by how ugly this bowl looks. You are in the presence of the tastiest pickle in the world. Second tastiest actually, since my mom's mango pickle is the tops. But this lime pickle comes quite close.

You need a kilo of limes to start with. Wash them well and pat dry with a dish towel. Now spread them out on a tray to dry completely.

In the meantime, make your stuffing. First you mix the whole spices and grind them. You need a tbsp of black peppercorns, 2 tbsp cumin seeds, 4-5 pods of black cardamom and 8-10 cloves. Once these spices are ground to a fine powder, mix in 100 grams salt, 3 tbsp granulated sugar, 2 tbsp rock salt and 1 tsp ground cinnamon. Finally, add in 4 tbsp of the most critical spice - ajwain (also called carom seeds or bishop's weed).

Slit each lime into four, keeping the base intact so the pieces still stay together. Fill with as much spice stuffing as you can fit in a lime (1-2 tsp usually does it). Arrange these limes in a glass or a ceramic jar…

Salad Days

I've been bad, I know. Who knows what I was thinking baking all those tarts and cheesecakes one after the other. So it's a salad today instead. What I did last night was really put together odds and ends from my fridge to make dinner. But these do happen to be my favorite salad ingredients and the whole combination worked so well that you should totally know about it.

It started with steamed corn. I put corn in a microwave safe bowl, added a little water and cooked on high for 2 minutes. With the corn done steaming and now cooling, I looked into the fridge for other ideas.

To me, a salad needs a green leaf. I do salads without greens sometimes but nothing feels as fresh as a heap of lettuce. My favorite type is the iceberg and that's the one that goes in this salad. To washed lettuce torn into bite sized pieces, I added the corn, a chopped tomato and some cubed paneer.

Then I made vinaigrette. Now my salad dressing is very different from the traditional recipes. Most people …

A Paneer Lover's Guide to Eating Out in Bombay

Paneer, India's favorite fresh cheese, gets the most prominent place in all vegetarian menus. Faced with no meat and no fish, restaurant menu designers often fill a major chunk of their vegetarian sections with paneer dishes. Which ends up dividing the diners in two camps. There are those who order paneer at every opportunity, and there are some who can't stand the sight of a paneer dish. No points for guessing which camp I belong to. Give me some well cooked paneer and I rarely ask for anything more.

From my sampling of paneer dishes through the city, here's a list of what to eat as a vegetarian:

1. The fiery Paneer Tikka Masala and its milder cousin, Paneer Makhani should be your first point of call. And no one does it better than Copper Chimney. Or go to Kareem's and order their Lahori Paneer.

2. The Paneer Pizza: After eating my way through Indianized versions of Dominos and Pizza Hut and everything paneer-like on local pizzerias, I've found a clear winner.…

Pastry Wars: Chocolate Ganache Tart

I don't know how to get a flaky tart with shortcrust pastry. I've tried a few times already and have been less than impressed with the results. So I'm resorting to other options. Like this molten butter tart from David Lebovitz. No frozen butter, no delicate mixing - yet the crust is light and flaky.

My recipe is for a mini 3 inch tart so do go over to David's for the full recipe. Also, I always use salted butter in my baking but this is one recipe where you want to go hunt for unsalted butter (a rarity in India but essential this time round).

First off, put 30 grams butter, a tsp of canola oil (or other neutral oil), a tsp of sugar and a tbsp of water in a small saucepan. Heat on a very low flame until the butter starts of brown. Quickly dump in 1/3rd cup of flour and mix until it forms a ball. Transfer the dough to a tart mold with a removable bottom and spread it a bit with a spatula. Once the dough is cool enough to handle, pat it into the shell and press it up the …

Pastry Wars: White Chocolate Cheesecake

Pastry Wars is my quest to find the ultimate recipe for every must-have in a pastry chef's repertoire. And this is really the only cheesecake recipe you will ever need.

I picked the recipe straight from The Family Kitchen but divided it by a third to give me 5 cupcakes. The recipe has a graham cracker crust but I used butter cookies (called Good Day out here). Put 6 of them in a ziploc bag and bashed them up with a rolling pin until I had crumbs. I melted 2 tbsp butter in the microwave, poured it on the crumbs and mixed it all. Lined 5 cupcake tins with liners and pressed the crust on the base of each.

The crust went into a 180C oven to bake for 10 minutes. In the meantime, I made the cheesecake layer. First, I melted 60 grams white chocolate chips and set them aside to cool. Beat 250 grams cream cheese with an electric mixer, then added 1/3 cup sugar and a tbsp of flour. Once it was blended and with the mixer still running, added an egg. Beat that well and finally added the chocol…

The End is Nigh

No doomsday prediction this. But I start getting into a panic mode as the strawberry season draws to an end. Except for two weeks of overpriced blueberries, this is the only berry we get in India. And they go away before it's strawberry season elsewhere in world. In June, when bloggers in Europe and US put up their gorgeous strawberry creations, I have no color to top up my desserts.

Then two years back, other bloggers told me to try freezing strawberries. Which is what I am doing this weekend. Washing, hulling and prepping the red berries for their stay in the freezer. I freeze them two ways - sliced and pureed. I froze whole strawberries too last year, but they turn to a mush by the time they defrost so I ditched that version this year.

First off, I divided my strawberries into the perfect and not-so-perfect heaps. The not perfect heaps were washed thoroughly, then hulled and pureed in a blender. I put them in ice cube trays so I can take out as much puree as I need later.

The per…

Tender at the Bone

A few months back, our book club read the story of Ruth Reichl as the food critic of NY Times. In what's certainly one of the most influential food writing jobs in the world, Ruth set a benchmark for reviews that were insightful yet hugely entertaining. Even when reviewing that 100th burger joint, Ruth's personality would clearly shine through.

This month, the book club is reading another book by Ruth Reichl. And this one tells you how Ruth got to be what she is. Tender at the Bone starts from Ruth's school years. She comes from a family of story tellers. And everyone at her home from her manic-depressive mother to her three grandmothers (yes, three - you go figure!) seems to love food. Even though her over enthusiastic mother could have killed you with her moldy food.
Tender at the Bone then goes on to chronicle Ruth's school years, her time in Europe, her first job in a restaurant, and her writing assignments. Family, friends and lovers - everyone in Ruth's lif…

Arusuvai : The Friendship Chain

I started my blog as a way to store my recipes. At that time, three years ago, I had no idea I was entering a close knit community of food bloggers. One of the first comments on my blog was from Srivalli. She asked me if I was blogging from India and if yes, whether I wanted to become a part of Arusuvai Friendship Chain. Of course I did! Who wouldn't like receiving a secret ingredient from another blogger and spend a happy afternoon guessing what it was. From there on, you cook something with that ingredient, post the recipe and send something to another blogger. And so goes the chain. Except they stopped it before it was my turn.

Looks like I wasn't the only one who thought it was a great idea. Sayantani restarted the Arusuvai chain in November. Four months later, the chain has reached Bombay Foodie. My link to the chain is Shalini. With her secret ingredient came a lovely hand written note and a cook book. Curious to know what Shalini sent?

It was dried ginger root. I was e…