It was evening, and hunger pangs were making our stomach growl furiously. There was no time to make a time consuming snack, we all wanted something healthy and not too heavy. (The dinner menu looked very mouth wateringly promising!).
Rekha, our house keeper jumped to the rescue of our collective moaning tummies. She quickly chopped some onions, made a tadka of spices and curry leaves, took a large helping of puffed rice and to my astonishment, dumped it in a sieve and ran it under running water for a good 3 to 4 minutes.
By now I should not be surprised and astounded by the different ways and methods people around me cook. Rekha and my cousins and family continuously come up with new techniques and unique mixes. My last post was one such experience.
As recipes go, this one is the easiest, quickest snack you can make. You can make the onion mixture ahead of time and soak and mix the puffed rice (kurmura) just before serving.
Most of the ingredients are normally available in all Indian house holds, so there is no need to go rushing to the nearest grocer to buy something. You can of course make it spicer, more sour, add garlic … there is no end to how you can play around with the dish.
On this note, let me announce with the greatest of excitement that I have started my own Youtube channel. Its called The Recipe Larder, same as this blog.
The youtube video link to this recipe is available here. It shows you the step by step method of making this recipe. Do subscribe for more off beat recipes.
Hope you end up making this. Do send me pics!! Cheers! and Ciao!
PS: please tag therecipelarder on istagram, if you wish to share your pics.
To be very frank, I’m not a huge fan of Guacamole. Actually not a huge fan of Avocado either. The son, daughter and husband love it though!!
My son is on a full blown -I am going to build my body, and eat healthy – kind of streak, and he makes a lot of Guacamole, or Guac as the kids call it.
This here, is his recipe. Quick and super easy, and very filling. He made it for me last winter when he was here on holidays, and though my eyes don’t start shining in emotional gratefulness at the sight of Guac, I did dip a couple of nachos into it and I must say I was thoroughly impressed with it.
Avocado is not easily available where I stay. It grows in abundance in Bangalore, but the taste, texture and flavour is not as good as the one available in California. When I went to spend sometime with my daughter in San Jose – California, I accompanied her to the super market. My eyes popped out, seeing the gigantic heaps of Avocado, spilling on to the floor, overflowing from their baskets. And the price!! Oh! Boy, it was being sold for peanuts.
I wanted to take back a few with me to India, but my kid gave me a fairly accurate description of the way it would get squashed and then get in between my clothes and when I would try to pull them clothes out, I would have slimy, gooey flesh smeared on my hands ….. you get the gist, don’t you?! Disheartened I gave up the idea, but began a hunt in Bombay for good Avocados. It was quite a task. They would be either underdone or over ripe and always, always very expensive.
I finally found a store, and now I get ripe to be eaten – the day I want – type of Avocado whenever I so please. It’s still a tad expensive, but it’s exotic fruit (yes Avocado is a fruit!) in India, and we pay for the glamour.
Do try out this recipe. It’s super easy and actually mashing the fruit – I found it kind of stress relieving.
Guac gets black very fast, as it starts oxidising when exposed to oxygen in the air. Lemon helps keep its colour, but it still needs further help. As such it’s best to make Guac just before serving, but it’s not always possible. To store Guac without letting the exposure affect it, store in a air tight box, or in a bowl, and cover with cling film, letting the cling film stick right on top of the guac. When you serve the guac, you will have to scrape the guac off the cling film, but it’s worth the effort.
If you want to use only one half of the fruit, retain the stone (seed), push it back into the cavity of the left over half, and cling film it tightly and keep refrigerated. This helps to a certain level, but eventually you better consume the fruit as soon as you can.
Cheers! to good fat!
Some time back, the husband and I started on a diet with Deepika, who works with Luke. She has been in touch with me on a daily basis, and I cannot convey in words how wonderful we both started feeling within weeks of our nutritional plan. Unlike other “dieticians” they don’t nail our heads to a wooden plank, if we cheat or if we don’t follow instructions to the hilt. It’s actually a slow gentle coaxing to start changing our lifestyle and eating habits. So many small issues like sleeplessness, bloating etc are taken care of, using natural home remedies. And I must say it works, because now I sleep like the proverbial log, and in the mornings the bed and I are like lovers – loathe to leave each other.
Without realising, we have now changed our eating habits. The old hogging days no longer appeal to us, and on a very elemental level, we have started opting for healthy, nutritious and wholesome meals. Overeating even a little bit makes us groan and moan unbelievably.
This diet takes care of us very holistically. Small ailments are sorted almost immediately. Over the period of a year, my blood pressure and cholesterol are within normal limits.They care for our mental, emotional and physical health. After all this, we cannot return back to our old ways of eating aimlessly and only for taste. I now look for recipes that are healthy but tasty. This Seed Paté is one of the many such recipes.
It’s a very versatile recipe. You don’t have to follow it the way it’s written. The dill can be replaced with coriander or any other herb of your choice. Please read the notes following the recipe, before making the Seed Paté.
It can be used in many different ways. Eat it like a sandwich, mix it in vegetables as a gravy, dip with pita, layered with a salad — the options are endless and left to your imagination.
I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
This is a classic dish made by Marwaris. It’s healthy, wholesome and extremely satisfying. As a kid, I took it for school lunch almost three times a week. It’s made with whole wheat flour, so – healthy!! Ghee – good fats! Ajwain – great digestive. Whats not to like. And it’s yummylicious to boot!
The name Tawa ka Tikla is derived from the fact that it is made on a tawa (girdle) and there is no roasting on direct fire – like the normal roti’s and chapattis. The other Tikla we make is fried in ghee. Lethally tasty – that one too!
When we were growing up, we had no gas stoves at home. We were as organic as it could get. The food was cooked on a mud stove, and charcoal was used to light the fire. Of course, the kitchen got as black as well -soot, but Oh My! the food that we ate had an aroma which no smoke machine can impart. All fresh, earthy and hearty!
The stove was large and there was additional place around to keep the ready food. All the dal, rice and veggies were kept in that area. It would be hot and therefore kept the food also piping hot. No reheating, no microwave. The chapati was made directly on coal – no smell of gas and no artificial flavours. The cook would dust off the soot, liberally dribble homemade ghee and serve it to us. And nowadays, we crave “wood-fired” pizza!!
My grand mom’s man Friday would clean the stove after every meal with water, washing away all remnants of food, leaving the place clean and shiny. We needed no pest control. The hot stove would allow no cockroaches to roost. The burnt coal was converted to ash, and that was used to wash the vessels. We had to recycle before it became a fancy word.
Once every few months the man Friday, would lovingly renew the stove with fresh mud and fill up the cracks and crevices.
The simple grub was nourishing and rich and healthy. I still maintain that I hated the veggies because it was insipid at it’s best. But that was the fault of the cook and not the system. I have still not eaten that kind of dal and chapati ever again.
My sister still makes this dish – Tawa ka Tikla. I had forgotten all about it until one day I got a longing and craving to eat this ghee laden yummy snack. I could eat only one, but back in school it was a staple and I could polish off a whole lot with pickle, in the name of lunch.
It’s very simple to make. It can be cooled and kept in an airtight container for a week plus.
Enough ghee should be put into the dry ingredients so that the flour when closed into a fist stays intact and does not fall down and disintegrate like powder.
Warm water should be used to make the dough. Add it slowly, making the consistency a bit rubbery. Each flour quality reacts its own way, so a little more or less water might have to use, than specified in the recipe.
Please don’t try to go easy on the ghee. It’s a very indispensable ingredient and if you are following the latest health trends, – then – ghee is a vital and important fat and should be consumed in restrained quantities.
The holes are made, so that the Tikla does not puff up, and gets firm and semi-crisp, as you keep pressing and cooking it.
While rolling the dough, if it’s too sticky and is cracking and breaking up, it means that the dough needs more flour and a dribble of water. Add little at a time according to consistency.
Here is the video
It’s an excellent and nutritive dish for kids tiffins, to keep as a quick snack. Top it with hummus, a mix of cucumber tomato kachumber, serve it with hot garlic chutney, with dry potato veggie – Just go for it. Dig in!!
I hope you make it and enjoy it. Cheers!
You have all the right to give me a few kicks on the backside. Talking off which, I promise you, the lack of communique and posts were nothing to do with me lying on my backside. I have been travelling non-stop and in a good way. Went visited the son in San Diego, and then the daughter in San Jose.
Immediately after that, there was a quick trip to Delhi, Bangalore, Chikmanglur, UK and Scotland – so you tell me, other than amassing a repertoire of good food recipes to develop, where would I have found the time to write a post? HUH?
I sent the husband to Food Hall (our best gourmet store in Bombay), for a spot of food shopping. Foodie that he is, he went quite unhinged and brought me back so much food, that when I think of it even now, I break out into a sweat!
Within this shopping frenzy, he got back fresh Buffalo Mozzarella Cheese. Since it was staring at me from the fridge shelf for more than two days, I wanted to make something with it. Frankly, I was quite done and dusted with the typical Caprese Salad. Using the same ingredients, we went about trying something completely new. I first considered topping it with mango salsa, but it sounded so bleh! And – the son made such a face, I immediately gave up the idea. So while standing and staring at the Mozzarella for more than 5 minutes, I came up with this concept.
One can call it a Baked Caprese Salad, but somehow the word “melted” made it sound a bit exotic and intriguing.
You will need a cast iron skillet. Mine was too deep, so I used my sizzler plate instead.
I sliced tomatoes and onions and sautéd them in a non-stick pan with good old olive oil. Then transferred them to the sizzler plate. Then – added the mozzarella and popped it into a hot oven. The Mozzarella melted overwhelmingly, and Voila I had a brand new dish in my hands.
I could have set the sizzler plate on top of the stove and roasted the tomatoes and onions directly on it, but I found it easier and cleaner to use the non-stick and then transfer the contents.
I wanted to use basil leaves and/or pesto, but again not the same typical recipe. Instead, I made Basil oil.
Melted Caprese Salad, is different, outlandish and out of the box. But hey! It’s tasty, wholesome and the best thing is it’s not boring. Enjoy it as a starter, or even as a heavy serving of side dish. I served it with thin slices of toasted baguettes drizzled with aged extra virgin olive oil. Melted Caprese Salad is garnished with pickled green peppers, but I think even capers would add an additional piquant flavour.
Another shout out from my daughter, for this recipe. I had made it for their friends when they were here and it was polished off in no time.
Well, many a good news hovering around me. The daughter got into Yale, my cooking classes have taken off and this darned blog has got fixed. There were some major issues, so all those of you who tried to come back for your favourite recipes and found gibberish in the ingredient section, my apologies. My very profound and heartfelt apologies. It could have got fixed earlier, but as usual, I was travelling.
I was in Mahabaleshwar, a small quaint hill station a few hours from Bombay. I have a home and a farm there, so this time the 12 days I stayed there, I ate off the farm, played with the new pup and chilled with my best friend Nishi.
We would wake up in the mornings, sit in the sun, (it was cold there!), and sip our tea and coffee. Then after a leisurely breakfast, we would put face packs (moisturising ones – like I said it was Brrrrr!) and jabber away for an hour or so. By the time the watch thought of turning both its hands to 12 – we would be sitting with our afternoon drinks – again yakking away to our hearts’ content. It was the most idyllic holiday one can have.
I plucked fresh Spinach, from the field and made this ultra easy and very delicious recipe. It needs very little preparation time. I have cooked it on a non-stick, with very little oil, but if you have a large party you can easily fry it in oil. I did it for the kid’s 21st birthday party and it vanished into mouths as soon as freshly fried plates were put in front of them.
I have also made a video, for a quick look-see. The first video I made was not “good enough” and my niece and son insisted I work a little harder and produce a better one. Well, they are not all that happy with this one either, but I lack patience so there is for all to view.
Unfortunately, I am not able to load the video here because of (temporary – I will fix it asap) data restrictions. But here is the Facebook URL
and there is the google drive URL.
I hope you will see the video and try the recipe. It makes for great cocktail snacks, lunch box sides, or sides.
Promise to get back with a recipe soon. I’ve been tardy!
It’s that time of the year when the farm turns green once more. Flowers, fruits and vegetables, growing over red soil, makes my heart soar. The thought of walking around the gardens and randomly plucking what is ready to harvest, tasting ripe strawberries on the way back to the house – and planning in my mind, what to make with the mud-encrusted produce in my hands.
I planted Zucchini seeds this year, hoping we will get some fresh organic ones to eat. Frankly, I am not a great lover of Zucchini. I was actually eyeing the flowers. I had eaten some delicious stuffed Zucchini flowers, in a restaurant long ago. These flowers are not available in Bombay markets. The only way to get hold of them was to grow them – so grow them we did.
And grow they did –Oh! Boy. How they grew!! Wild and unrelenting. An entire plot is covered with various sizes of Zucchini. I was completely delighted to see huge Zucchini’s hidden amongst the foliage. Sunshine yellow flowers, curling under the leaves, nestled next to the vegetable.
The flowers are very very delicate. I had my camera and some more equipment in my hand and bent down to pluck a flower. –And I damaged it. By the time I could stand up to see what I had pulled out, the poor little flower was almost wilting. I freed my hands and did what the flowers wanted to me to do. Show them some reverence. We were only two of us, so I slowly, with great care, plucked 5 more flowers from the stems.
The flowers in themselves, have a soft cosy mouthfeel, and a certain mild sweetness leant to it by the stamens. I had goat’s cheese at hand, so I decided to use that, with no additional flavouring.
I had to gently reach into the flower, (an not matter how careful I was, the petal tore at one end) and pull out the stamen. There is only one stamen per flower. Then I stuffed the cheese into the flower and gently, very gently closed the mouth. At this point, the flower should not be handled too much. Just a gentle two-fingered pinch at the mouth works. The cheese is a bit sticky, and will not come out, so this process is just to our satisfaction.
After this, I dredged the flower in egg batter, and then in breadcrumbs. I like the egg batter as it gives a lovely crisp edge. But I will also be giving you the recipe for eggless batter, which works just as well.
When you bite into soft petals, oozing with salty yet tart, goat’s cheese and the mouth fills up with a party of textures, just close your eyes and savour the goodness of this sunshine yellow very seasonal, and very difficult to get – flowers.
First and foremost let me be fiercely profuse in my apologies for just disappearing. I spent 3 weeks running around Europe having a mad time. First two weeks with my girlfriends in Ireland, and then with the husband and another couple in Germany. It was a sabbatical of enormous proportions.
Our farm in Mahabaleshwar is well on its way to being planted. The rains were particularly vicious this year. We lost many trees and shrubs. But well, that’s the ebb and flow of life, and we are looking forward to some organic, homegrown fruits and vegetables.
I had my best friend over in Mahabaleshwar, and we kindled up the wood-fired oven and made ourselves some pizza. I make the dough using fresh yeast. When it is nice and plumply risen, I roll out small rounds and give it an initial dance into the fire. Once it’s mildly pre-cooked, I add the pizza sauce, cheese and toppings and send it for another jig. As a result, I get thin – and I mean ultra thin pizzas, with a crunchy crisp bite.
This time around, the wood was still wet from the rains. The fire would not catch, the hearth would not heat and the pizzas would just not pre-cook. After a few exasperated tries (the dough was rising, and would have spoilt) I picked up the rolled out pizza dough and flipped it straight into the flames.
I heard a collective gasp from my helpers. One started dancing on his feet, saying “ It will burn, it will burn”. I just grinned and took a tong and flipped it over to let it cook the other side. All this took just a few seconds. And out came the most fantastic precooked pizza. It had blown up like a pita bread, but the results were sooooo good. Crunchy, with oozing melting cheese which stuck to our palates and teeth.
beer battered onion rings
What I am trying to say here is cooking is an art – agreed, but it is also instinct. When I give cooking classes, I always tell my students, don’t think too much. If you want to substitute an ingredient with another do it. If you want to increase the heat do it. There is no right or wrong in cooking. Some person somewhere must have had jam with goat’s cheese and then started the trend of serving preserves with cheese. To my taste buds – nothing tastes better!
Enjoy the beer battered onion rings. These are my favourite fried snack, and my kids love them.
Darned easy to make. Just a little planning, as the onions have to marinate at least for two hours before they can be fried.
I make a quick fix, cheat sauce with these onion rings. They taste way better than, some store-bought sauce (though mine is a mix of store bought sauces :P) The fried ring, with the tart hot sauce gives it an amazing balance. Of course, you can substitute it with any other sauce of your choice. But do give my recipe a fair chance too.
Baking powder is a crucial ingredient in this recipe, so don’t try to substitute or do away with it. It is what gives the onion rings the crisp and crunchy texture when mixed with a beer in the batter.
My friend and me feasted on them, in Mahabaleshwar. Hope you like them too – PS: they go really well with chilled beer!!!
Whats so special about cheese toast? For me — very special, because my grandmom used to make it the minute I entered her house. It was my absolute favourite and I still have it when I need some comforting.
Why is it special for you? Because it’s not just a cheese toast. It is many other things clinging to the cheese. Cucumbers, onion, green chillies….
My grandmom (Nani) was an amazing cook. Hell- she was an amazing lady. We lost her a few years ago, and that hole will never fill up. But the memories now make me smile and laugh and sometimes shed a tear or two. Always perfectly coiffured, immaculately dressed, Nani taught me everything I seem to know to survive and exist.
She decided she must perfect her English, so she grabbed hold of a teacher and started reading and understanding books I would not read unless I had an exam on it. She borrowed some money from her husband, learnt how to dabble in stocks, and struck gold. Then she decided she should help the underprivileged kids for education, so she opened an NGO, which now runs 2 schools and 1 vocational training centre. We used to get sweets as treats every year when the school results were declared.
When I made the cheese toast recently, the smell emanating from the oven, gave me a huge wave of nostalgia. I was thrown back into her house where I practically grew up.
The heavenly very soothing and reassuring fragrance of my favourite food, unlimited coke, my Nani’s gorgeous smile, those days spent learning how to walk, speak, garden, just about everything that a kid needs to feel loved and wanted. I know she is with me, when I cook when I eat and when I hug my loved ones.
I make many of her recipes, but this one has a special place in my heart. It can be a complete meal on its own, or just pair it with soup- serve it as an appetiser. However, you use it – don’t forget to derive comfort from the melting cheese and crunchy cucumbers and onion as it hits your palate.
And Hey!! Go hug your grandmom right now!! Life is full of small pleasures!