Fondue and a Picnic. That’s what the heading should be! We were in Mahabaleshwar, my friend Nishi and me. Every day, pre-lunch we opened a bottle of Prosecco and made short work of it. We would keep chatting and pouring a small finger worth (for two reasons- one – it felt like we were drinking less, and two – it kept chilled while we drank.)…
The Daughter made another demand — I’m so pleased she has got into cooking! The chef in me feels fulfilled and the mom and me feel happy! 😛
I make this salad very often at home. It needs to be served really really chilled, so it is a good idea to make it a wee bit in advance.
It’s a messy salad though! Be prepared for a white moustache and a few drips down your chin! But it’s worth the dishevelled look you will sport while eating it.
Look for crisp cucumbers with a clean green interior. I always cut off the side of the cucumber and taste it before using it. Sometimes cucumbers can be very very bitter, and even one bitter cucumber in a salad of 20 cucumbers can spoil the entire dish. Taste it and throw it away if its bitter. (You can always chuck it in the compost pile of course!)
The yoghurt should be thick, so hang it for an hour or so if you want. There is zero neatness in this salad, so there really isn’t any right or wrong way to fill it. Slice the spring onions really thin and small. Garlic can be upped as per your taste. To my mind, too much garlic takes away the sweetness of the yoghurt and the original taste of the cucumber.
I add a little of chilli flakes, but you can always add some herbs too – parsley, thyme, oregano. Don’t use very strong herbs. Again – it takes away the original flavours.
The boats can get very wobbly, as the base is rounded. You can slice off a small part of the cucumber from the bottom to make a little steadier base. But – mostly, it will wobble and fall a little to the side, but if the yoghurt is not too drippy things should not slide out and drip into the plate.
I’m attaching a quick video for you.
I hope you enjoy this salad. Do write in.
As always – Cheers! and Happy Times!
Being Indian, and bought up on typical desi meals, Dal has been a staple dish served over lunch and dinner. After years and years of eating dal – Dal tadka, Gujarati Dal, Dal Langarwale, Kaali dal, etc etc, all felt so mundane – so overrated and so damned boring. At some point, I just lost faith in Dal!!
At a wedding recently, I saw the tag read Sailani Dal. Now that sounded completely new and something I had never heard of, let alone eat. I timidly tried a spoon, hoping my boredom towards dal would not bias my taste. My eyes sprang open, and my mouth instantly watered for more. I quickly filled up a soup bowl and made a meal of the dal.
The taste, the different flavours stayed in my mind for the longest time. It’s like one of those right moments when you read, smell or taste something, your senses just inhale it and push it deep into your conscious mind, keeping that memory forever fresh. And at any time when you bring it to your mind, it feels like it happened only a few moments ago.
Completely besotted, I went online for a hunt for the word “Sailani”. What was it? Turns out, it was the Maharaja of Sailana who invented this recipe. The Sailana’s hail from the Indian, Princely State of Madhya Pradesh. They were avid foodies and revamped recipes not only from their hometown but from all over India. In the 1980’s a book of their recipes was published but is no longer available easily.
The dal itself is super easy to make. Even the ingredients are minimal. The recipe calls for Toor (Arhar – Split pigeon peas). I urge you to use the best quality spices while making the Sailani Dal. Eat it with rice, or roti – it’s up to you. But eat it you must-
PS_ dedicating this recipe to my baby girl Kanak, who sits far away in the USA. She had loved this dal when I made it for her. HEY! Kanak – do try this out and send me pictures. KISS KISS!!
I first had Lettuce Wedge Salad, in London, in a restaurant called Roka. Of course, the restaurant has stayed a favourite, as has this salad. I would always, analyse it, gaze at it in wonder and awe, thinking I will replicate it in some manner. And – I would always forget.
The fresh crisp lettuce, perfect square wedges of stacked leaves, the immensely flavourful dressing – everything made it a favourite, of ordered a dish.
I went on a hunch, (because I was daunted by those perfect square wedges) and bought two fresh heads of lettuce. I had no idea how to cut it. No matter how many times I would visit the salad in my mind’s eye, knife in hand, I could not figure out how to cut it. I have no formal training in cuisine, so these skills are alien to me, till I figure them out.
With great trepidation, I cut the salad in half, vertically, root to the top of the head. Then I sank all the four heads in ice water, (more ice, less water) and left it to hydrate for approximately 30 minutes. Let me tell you what happened! The lettuce took in so much water, it took me another 10 minutes to drain it. But the lettuce was happy to have had that water. The leaves were crisp and clean.
Then I randomly chopped here and there, but the wedges were nowhere near perfect. I took a pause and really visualised, and them hit on the right technique.
This is how it is done.
Firstly – try not to use a metal knife. The metal in the knife oxidises the leaves and makes them look soggy. A plastic or ceramic knife works very well. I had bought a ceramic knife from Japan, Kyocera brand, and was warned that it could lop off my fingers if I am not careful. I use it very sparingly, because hey! I love my digits.
Now then on to the method –
I am going to be showing pics at every step because I am finding it very difficult to explain the process! Words are just not enough.
Chop the lettuce vertically, from the root to the top. (see pic below)
Dunk in ice water, and drain well after 30 minutes.
Now take the chopped side, the side where you can see all the layer of leaves, and place that to your right. (see pic below)
Then, take three, (if you have a larger head of lettuce then take four or five) long wooden barbecue sticks, (they should be larger than cocktail toothpicks – about 4 to 5 inches long) and leaving an inch from the side of the cut side of the lettuce, poke them at 1 and 1/2 inches interval. This is done 90 Deg from the cut side of the lettuce, and not parallel to the root and cut side of the lettuce. (see pic below)
The cutting will happen from the non-cut side of the lettuce. The one which is the root side and on your left. The opposite side of the cut side of the lettuce. (see pic below)
Taking your knife and leaving an inch from the uncut side of the lettuce, cut off the part with the toothpick inserts. The toothpick inserts should now be all in a row, and the large wedge should have separated from the main head of lettuce. (see pic below)
Now, just lop off individual wedges, seeing that you get as close to a square as possible. (see pic below)
Trim the wayward leaves, and push the stack of cut lettuce wedge further into the stick.
Garnish, turning it all around.
Aloha! From Maui – Hawaii!
It’s been a busy happy week for us. Our daughter graduated with double majors in History and Anthropology! What a ceremony and what a delightful time for us proud parents. A huge bunch of us attended her graduation – her grandparents, brother, parents and her many many loyal friends. We hooted and cheered, and of course, her dad n me wept quite openly.
Will post pictures soon……! It’s all in the camera right now, and we are vacationing in Hawaii!
It’s a recipe from Rekha once more. Rekha of the serene nature and yummy cooking!
The recipe is really tedious for the first time. But once you make it (and you will – again and again, I promise you), it will become easier and easier.
The trick is in the dough. Once you have got that right, everything falls into place as easily as a beer in a glass.
She made it on a plastic surface, but she said using a banana leaf gives amazing results. “The flavour of the leaf seeps in”, she said.
I have given the measurement for the water, but each flour behaves differently from the other. Some soak up too much water, while others use less. Use the water little at a time, till you get the right consistency. I have put up images and videos for the same.
Without further ado – here is the recipe.
While growing up, we lived in this huge rambling and wild compound. The coconut trees far outnumbered the humans. Everyone was equally immersed in the neighbours’ life, as much as their own. Without exception, every evening we kids met up at 4 pm and were dragged home at 8 pm, by parents who had to spell out dire consequences if we delayed leaving our playmates to come home. We cycled, played hide and seek – a complete torture for the person who was the “den”! The game went on forever because someone or the other always got the better of him. Our compound was massive, with many many hiding places. And new ones were found every day.
We had a fish pond, which was religiously cleaned one Sunday a month, and in summer vacations. We lived by the sea, so horse riding, football, cricket were our favourite pass times.
Well – now that I have drowned myself in serious nostalgia, I might as well get to the point, before I sit down to write childhood memoirs of Appu!!
Our neighbours were 2 boys and their parents. Sweetest most friendly people alive. Of course, the boys had to torture us time and again, which they did with glee and wild abandon. We are all grown up now and treat each other with respect, but I loose all semblance of maturity when I eat anything at their home. Aunty (the sainted mom, who handled two, very naughty boys) still cooks. We very unabashedly invite ourselves to their dining table every once in a while. Right down from the chapati to the pickles have hitherto unknown flavours and fragrances.
Yesterday I passed by their home, and the redolent aromas emitting from their kitchen window made my stomach growl. I had to stop by for a quick chat, and had a taste of the mango curry – or as the Gujrati’s call, it _ Fajeto. I think I must have gone into a trance for a bit! Mango exploding with a bit of ghee and a high taste of asafoetida! This was made by the wife of one of the boys (ah! alright Men now!) – Smita. And … well, I think the staircase to food heaven starts right there!
I made it today for lunch, it turned out amazing. I took her permission and am now publishing it in the blog.
Don’t wait up too long. The mangoes are perfect right now. Use ALPHONSO only. As far as I am concerned all other mangoes are not mangoes. They are frauds! Duplicates! Imposters!
Very easy, very quick and very tasty! You will make it again and again!
I grew up next to the sea, where the fishermen cast off the unwanted pieces of catch and left it for the dogs and birds. A friend, who lived in the North of India, would reach Bombay, and put his nose up in the air, would take deep breaths with a grin on his face. He said that the salt in the air invigorated him. Next time when I came back to Bombay from a trip, I did the same thing. That’s when I knew what he was talking about, and that’s also when I realised that I cannot live away from the sea for too long.
The balmy salty air, the smell of drying fish, the clash of the waves, the grains of sand under my feet, the sea which answers your questions if you ask them of her. This is home, and that’s the reason why the smell of fish never offended me.
I am primarily a vegetarian. But I had to post this recipe for my meat loving readers.
I have a friend. Actually, she is my best pal, and her husband is an amazing cook. I believe his mutton dish (which he slow cooks for hours) have actually made people lick their fingers till they had sores.
They had invited our entire gang (our kids are high school mates). All our friends had gone deathly quiet while eating his fish. Other than looking up to take another piece, (and fresh, hot ones were being served continuously), I could not meet any of their eyes, or talk to any of them. “Such was the taste”, they said later. “We forgot you guys (who did not eat fish!) existed!”
I was thrilled to see so many people sniffing (it can be spicy) yet stuffing their mouths with fish after fish. (Needless to say, they were all rolled home – no one could walk!)
The foodie in me was very excited, and on my recent visit to Bangalore (where my friend has shifted, much to my continued disgust!) I decided to get her to make some fish, so that I could take some pics and rob her recipe 😉
She has an amazing house, opening on two levels, to two different gardens. I clicked the pictures under the shade of a tree.
The recipe is disturbingly simple. The trick she says is, to marinate it for days and days. They wash the fish, then marinate it, put it next to each other in a dish, cling wrap it and leave it in the freezer for as long as they can. A minimum of 4 days to a maximum of 10 days or more. The longer it marinates, the better it tastes.
They mostly like to use Surmai, (Kingfish) as it has only one central bone. If Surmai is not available, they go for Pomfret. Indigenous fish like Surmai, Pomfret, lend better to this very Indian, desi recipe.
They buy a huge fish (when its Surmai), and cut slices, no thicker than half an inch. It is immediately washed, marinated and frozen, once it got home. When they want to fry it, they take it out of the freezer section and pop it into the normal refrigerated section for appx 2 hours. Once thawed it can be fried anytime you require. All it takes is a frying pan and some olive oil. The marinade splatters all over, while cooking, It’s a mess to clean up, so you can put a lid on the fish, while it cooks, then take it off and make it more crisp, at a later stage.
Squeeze fresh lemon juice over the hot fillet, and eat it with freshly cut onions and green chillies. Pop a beer!! The combinations is amazing.