It’s that time of the year when Mahabaleshwar beckons, with its myriad sunsets, fresh fragrant strawberries and over powering array of flowers. We had ourselves farm fresh and organic vegetables just off the farm.
Since we do not use fertilisers or pesticides of any kind, we pluck off cherry tomatoes and radish straight from the Canadian pharmacy plants and merrily munch it on the go!
For a day and a half, we were just mom and son! We ate, drank and had some crazy conversations.
We both wanted something a bit healthy for our brain doping lunch, and anyways friends who love this dish have been asking for the recipe. So we decided to make it and blog it.
This is a super healthy snack. I sometimes have it as the lonesome dish for dinner too. It’s super filling, high in protein and very very healthy. It does not sit in your tummy, but leaves you feeling full and satiated. The tangy, spicy flavour makes it soooo very edible and tasty.
I optionally also add finely chopped raw mango (kairi) to it and reduce the lemon a wee bit. You can play around with it as you like. Reduce the spice, increase it (yaay!), add onions, take off the coconut, add a dash of green chutney!!! Just go for it. Not much can destroy this dish!
Add to it a dhokla mix, or to some other chaat item. Serve it mixed with broken idli and podi chutney. Let your creativity flow and do tell me also how you played with it!
Soong dal goes amazingly well with drinks. But serve it chilled. Like – absolutely and totally chilled. If you think of heating it – u might as well eat dal. So DO NOT HEAT this dish!!
Have fun! Cheers!
PS: Here is the video shoot we did for the Soong Dal. It’s very basic and rustic, as is the kitchen in our farm.
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!
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.
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!!!
I had Hummus for the first time as an adult. It picked up as a rage, and every party had a bowl of Hummus, with Pita. Then came the Lavash. Crisp flat wheat savouries topped with seeds.
I had Hummus for the first time some 20 years ago, in a restaurant called Olive. They had the typical platter of Baba Ganoush, Hummus and Tzatziki. At that time – I thought it was made with magic. How could something so tasty, so creamy be so amazing and healthy? When I learnt to make hummus, I was amazed at how easy it was, but I never seemed to like it as much as I liked the ones in a restaurant.
The fact is – I used terrible shortcuts. Sesame instead of Tahini. Sacrilege!! (my logic – Tahini is made out of sesame right??) Too much garlic, not enough creamy texture — blah blah!
I thought I would never be able to replicate the hummus, we have in good Mediterranean restaurants.I love the Hummus Beiruti. Its creamy with a mild tang of spice. Polishing off a small bowl is no big feat.
I tried Hummus again, (after my many not so good tries) and this time I used the proper Tahini. Another thing a chef friend of mine suggested was using cold water.
In this recipe, I use a little leftover water after boiling the chickpeas. I like to soak the chickpeas at night, and cook it the next morning and make the Hummus a few hours later. The water left over from cooking the chickpeas and the chickpeas itself are cooled down and refrigerated.
The hard work is soaking and cooking, after that its the quickest recipe you can make.
Serve it with a Rocket and cucumber salad, over toast with Avocado, obviously with Pita and Lavash. So many ways!! Do write in and tell me how you like to present it.
I made Hummus for my son last evening, thinking he could have it with Avocado. Confidently, I also made a small olive oil, garlic and Sumac drizzle for the top. Failure of failures! – the Avocado was not ripe enough and we had to chuck it. (Once cut it turns black quicker than a piece of charcoal rubbed on a face!) Then he suggested that we caramelise some onions, and top it with the same. Bigger flop. I had no brown sugar with me, and any case something made in a hurry not always turns out good. It was sticky …. basically – a flop!! I was flapping around about what he would eat, but he said the Hummus was good enough to eat on its own.. YAAAY!! Hummus saved the day!
Mom’s house has this huge mango tree. It’s not ours. It belongs to the next compound, but every single leaf and mango grow into our side. Those poor dudes watered the tree and looked after it, but we reap all the benefits.
As kids, we would make this huge stick, one tied to the other to make it as long as possible. On the edge, a blade was jammed in and using a sawing motion many a raw mangoes have been cut and taken down. Of course, we had to do it as unobtrusively and slyly as possible. But even then the gardener would hear his beloved tree rustle and run after us with a stick. He was not allowed to cross over to our side, so obviously we dangled our stolen goods under his nose and felt thoroughly pleased with ourselves. This was summer holiday time and a very seriously planned agenda in our schedules.
We would then proceed to cut open the raw mango (we never washed it!) and spread salt and chilly and lick it for hours. Then spread some more salt and chilly and bite into the tart fruit. Our palate would go pop, and eyes would tingle, but the taste is embedded somewhere deep in my soul. Now when I eat a raw mango, I am transported back to that spot under the tree, where I either helped to hold that huge stick and saw off the mango bunches, or I stood under the falling mango, to try and grab it so that it did fall and get damaged.
As I grew up, the love for raw mango became a love for mangoes. I still love raw mangoes, but I cannot go at it with wild abandon like I used to.
I saw my friend Rekha, (the one who has to lead me to this wonderful thing called food!) make a mango salsa. She whips up the most delicious of dishes, with the most absurd of combinations. When I first saw her make the mango salsa, I was stunned. I mean, she was adding olive oil and herbs and spices to a fruit. A fruit which is so revered in India, for its taste and limited availability? Weren’t fruits supposed to be eaten as is???
Very reluctantly I tasted the mango salsa and immediately landed myself under the tree, where we caught falling mangoes. I tweaked the recipe, but I cannot call it mine. It still belongs to Rekha – my mentor.
The sweet and mildly sour, and extremely wholesome flavour of the fruit will pop open your eyes. You might then pick up the spoon and wolf it down! That’s what my friend does, whenever I make it.
Serve it with nachos, or chips.
Its not an Indian recipe.The closest is Mexican Fusion.
I love it with my all time favourite – Whisky.