Sunday, February 22, 2015

Indian Edamame


Edamame, the steamed green soybeans coated with salt, are my standard order at a Japanese restaurant. Even more than the flavour, I like the lingering, casual atmosphere this dish creates as you and your friends dig into the pile of green beans.

Then yesterday, I spotted the green chana at the vegetable market. As childhood memories of stalks of green chana roasting over open fire came rushing back, it stuck me that India has always had its own version of the edmame - the roasted green chana. You only spot these beans for a few weeks, so I promptly bought these back home with me to make the most of the short lived season.

Open fire seemed unlikely as an option so for my Sunday afternoon snack, I present the oven roasted green chana. First off, wash the green chana pods. Drain and wipe with paper towels. Spread in a single layer on a baking tray and pop in the oven heated to 230C. Ten minutes later, bring out the tray and give the pods a stir so they cook evenly. Bake for another ten minutes until they start to brown, then remove from the oven and sprinkle with salt. You can also add chilli powder or any other seasoning you like. Wait a few minutes, then spent a leisurely afternoon cracking open the pods.


Monday, February 16, 2015

Strawberries and Cream Redux



Over the years, I have created several desserts that play on the combination of strawberries and cream. Because these berries show up in India towards the end of the winter rather than summer, these desserts also have a tendency to crop up on the blog around Valentine's Day. Totally appropriate you will say, and this year, with the addition of some other of my favourite ingredients, the best version as well.

The base of the dessert is basil white chocolate cream. Pour 200 ml of heavy cream in a small saucepan. Now that Amul is finally selling whipping cream in India, that's the one I have used. Heat gently until the cream is warm, then add 4-5 basil leaves. Cover and leave to infuse for half an hour. Remove the basil leaves and put the cream back on heat. Add 200 grams of chopped white chocolate - use the best you can find - and stir until the cream and chocolate combine into a smooth ganache. Remove from the heat and pour into small bowls or ramekins. Let cool a little, then cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours.

Topping the cream are balsamic roasted strawberries that you can make at the same time and serve chilled. Or make them just before you eat this dessert so you have the warm berries contrasting the cold basil cream. Either way, wash and hull 400 grams of strawberries. Quarter the large berries and cut any smaller berries into half. In a bowl, mix berries with 2 tbsp brown sugar, 1 tsp vanilla extract and 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar. Leave the bowl aside for 10-15 minutes, then spread the berries on a baking tray in a single layer. Also add any juice left in the bowl and cook in an oven heated to 200C for 30-35 minutes until the berries are soft. Serve immediately over chilled cream or let both the cream and berries chill separately and assemble just before eating.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Berry Pulao



If you draw up a list of Bombay's most iconic dishes, you will surely have Britannia's Berry Pulao on it. Coming in various versions - mutton, chicken, vegetarian - the distinctive feature of this pulao is the Iranian burberries strewn on top. I've tried the original version a couple of times and loved it, but it's not easy eating at this Parsi joint. For one, they are a long way from home. But more importantly, they show their Parsi eccentrity by opening the restaurant only for lunch and shutting down entirely on Sundays. In fact, it's far easier to make berry pulao at home than go to Britannia and that's exactly what I did once I got my hands on some barberries recently.

This is also a great make ahead recipe that comes together in minutes when you want to eat the pulao. So here's all you need:

1. One cup cooked basmati rice. Take 1/2 cup uncooked rice, soak it and cook it as per package directions.
2. One small potato, boiled, peeled and cubed
3. 6-8 green beans, chopped finely. Boil some water in a pan, drop in the beans and cook for 5 minutes. Drain and refresh in cold water, then keep aside for the moment.
4. One small red onion, or 2 spring onions, finely diced
5. Deep fried onions - you can now buy them in a packet over here and I leave some in the freezer for biryanis and pulaos. But you can thinly slice and deep fry your own if you like.
6. Barberries - about 2 tbsp
7. Spices: 1/2 tsp each of turmeric and red chilli powder, 1 tsp garam masala and salt to taste.

Heat a tsp of ghee in the pan. Add the diced onions and stir fry until they start to brown. Add the beans and potato as well as all the spices. Add 1/4 cup water to deglaze the pan and let everything cook until the water evaporates. Add half the rice and mix in well so you get yellow colored rice mixed in with the vegetables. Take the pan off the heat and mix in the remaining white rice gently so you still have two different colors of rice in the mix. Transfer to a serving plate and top with fried onions and barberries. Serve with plain yogurt or a raita.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

7 Years, 500 Stories



Well, 489 stories to be exact. Seven long years bring loads of memories with them. And to celebrate those memories and to wish this dear blog a happy birthday, here are seven more stories about Bombay Foodie.

1. This isn't my first blog. I first started blogging way back in 2005. The blog was called Bombay Musings. I'd just moved to the city then and Bombay Musings was my diary, a chronicle of my discovery of the city.

2. It isn't just a quote. A lot of people ask me about the quote on the blog header. The reason I picked this one is because it pretty much describes my approach to food. I am a carb junkie and I can eat a baguette with cheese pretty much every day. As for tea, it isn't a good day if I don't get 2-3 cups of strong, sweet, milky brew. Tea makes me happy.

3. I don't cook a lot. I can obviously cook a lot of things and I have cooked 400+ of them for this blog but I don't cook everyday. I have a fabulous cook who does that. Me, I mostly experiment and rarely cook a dish twice.

4. I love junk food. I sneak into McDonalds to eat fries and I order in a lot of pizzas from Pizza Hut - all of them paneer makhni pizzas.

5. Even though this is a clear contradiction to my previous point, I am one of those weird people who actually enjoy eating fresh fruits and salads. I even had my very own nicknames for an apple and a tomato when I was a kid.

6. I own a lot of cookbooks, all of them with pretty pictures. Because I rarely cook from a book, I buy them purely based on how they look and never mind how the recipes are.

7. I still can't believe people actually read the blog and get super excited when someone tells me they cooked one of my recipes. A big shout out here to Anchal who once made my day, made my whole month in fact, by recognising me from my pictures she had seen on the blog profile.

Happy Birthday once again, Bombay Foodie! And if you are reading this, thank you for being a part of my food journey.