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.
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!
I first had this fiery crushed green chilly mixture, many many years ago, made by a Maharashtrian lady. It fired up my taste buds, made my eyes water, my nose run, but I craved more. That day I ended up overeating my lunch because I wanted to keep eating more and more of this spirited dish. Over ate lunch because one cannot have this just as it is by the spoonfuls. You have to eat it with some sort of roti or rice.
Non heat eaters – REFRAIN!!
My taste buds start craving this, as soon as December starts fading away. The best spicy green chillies, come around January first week, and these make the best Thecha. I went hunting in the farmers market and came upon a lady selling only chillies. Luster green, shinning chillies. I did not have my camera with me ( a lesson learnt), else it would have made a very evocative and vocal picture.
This is a very quick recipe. Eat it with traditional, dal chawal, roti, khichdi, omelette – just about anything. If you are game to experiment – add to Kachumber, any vinaigrette, in yoghurt for a raita mix — let loose your imagination.
I used a mix of spicy and less spicy green chillies. You can use the entire lot as spicy green chillies, or less spicy ones. The less spicy chillies, will not give it the punch, but hey if you cannot stand too much spice, at least you will get a taste of this amazing chutney.
If you are allergic to the spice of the chillies – oil your hands before chopping, or wear gloves. If I have any sweat on my face, the vapour of the chillies sets my face on fire. I always, always use help for chilly chopping. If I have to do it myself, I use kitchen scissors.
This stays well in the refrigerator for a month or two. Use a clean spoon to take out as much as you need, (each time), and nothing will happen to it.
Enjoy! And do write back and tell me how you liked it.
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.
This is something my grandmother used to have on her table, every winter – with big chunks of garlic and green chillies. This tart, sour mix tastes absolutely amazing with Indian meals. Try it with khichadi, roti, rice and dal, anything.
I made something completely off beat with it though. This is how it happened – I had guests coming over for dinner, I had fresh goat’s cheese on hand, and I love goat’s cheese, – And – I was bored of serving the same old goat’s cheese with the quintessential caramelised onions, or roasted veggies. So I looked in the fridge and saw my freshly made amba haldi.
I ran the tastes of both goat’s cheese and amba haldi in my mind, and thought it was worth taking the risk. I served it with great trepidation and waited with baited breath for feed back (no I had no time to taste it before serving it! – in any case I had already liked the pairing in my head!)
Everyone liked it. They loved the taste. And thank God, because it was very offbeat and very risky to serve something so bizarre!
Amba Haldi, is basically fresh white turmeric or mango turmeric. This is the yellow slices you see. The orange one is new turmeric. Ordinarily these two go together in this very traditional Indian pickle, optionally along with garlic and green chillies. It’s available in the onset of winter, and makes for a good healthy pickle which also works to build your immunity.
Amba haldi, tastes sour and tart. A lot like raw mango; even without the lemon juice decoction. Turmeric – well most of us have turmeric as a spice in our food. It really has no taste, but the raw turmeric does. It has an odd piquant taste, not very strong. Not something you need to get used to like truffles. It’s just a very different taste. I cannot liken it to any other flavour I have had.
Scrape the skin with a sharp knife, as the peeler will take away too much of the flesh. The skin is so thin and new that scraping with a sharp knife is good enough. Be careful as the turmeric will colour your hands yellow. It needs a load of lemon juice. Adding garlic and chillies is completely your call, as is adding salt. We Indians, any case eat a lot of salt in our diet, so I skipped it in my amba haldi pickle.
It hits the market as soon as the weather starts getting pleasant and the skin feels a bit dry! Also, try and get the fresh green peppers. I will give you the recipe for that real soon.
Enjoy and do send me feedback about this very off the beaten track combination.
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!
I was all set to meet the husband for a romantic lunch, but Bangalore being crowded, overpopulated, Bangalore, the traffic was such that it was either the lunch or the airport. And that airport had a plane parked which was going to take us to Goa! So really there was no dispute, the airport on time – it was.
I surprised our caretaker with a lunch request. She wasn’t prepared to make anything since I had announced gleefully about my romantic plans. So she hemmed and hawed, wondering what to make. (And I was feeling fussy about food that day!) Her husband (I have mentioned him before in my blogs. He is a complete foodie- for which I am eternally grateful!) Well her husband suggested “Kachcha Sambhar” in his typical local accent. It took him three repeats of the word before I realised that is what he actually meant. Raw Sambhar.
I have learnt to experiment and sometimes leave the suggestions to the experts. AND I WAS NOT DISAPPOINTED. In fact, I was in food paradise. Every spoonful going in was ambrosia. Now I love garlic, and I love spice, and the most fun part was it has not one drop of oil!! Perfect right??
We did take off to Goa, and we had an amazing time, caught up in that leftover romance and all that! 😛 But I raved and raved about the Kachcha Sambhar, and he finally told me to use other methods to turn him on!! ( 😛 we are a foodie family!!)
Here is the recipe — the tomatoes have to be burnt — burnt black on a high flame. Wait for it to cool, and skim the skin off. Please do wait for it to cool — this way the skin comes off and does not leave small pieces of black burnt skin behind. We don’t want any black stuff in the sambhar. Same goes for the green chilly.
This is a very spicy dish. Deseeding the chilly reduces the spice. If you want it less spicy, reduce the quantity of the chilly, but don’t delete it completely. That would be a SIN! and Karma will pay you back!!
Tastes absolutely amazing with rice and a bland veggie. I love it with chilla. You make your own combinations and message me.
I was on the floor worshipping this dish! Hope you like it too!
I am really not that big a fan of corn. According to me, eating it off the cob is the only way – boiled, roasted, barbecued! But man! It is too much of an effort! The son took me to Puesto, in San Diego. We had Mexican Style Street Corn, and I tell you, the effort of stuffing huge gobs of corn in your face, yanking off the kernels, and getting all the mayo and cheese stuck on your nose and cheeks was well worth it.
Many years back, I read an article, on corn in National Geographic magazine. A very young and naive me, almost had a hysterical moment, when I saw the variety of different types of corn grown around the world. Mexico takes the top position for it. I saw pictures of blue corn, 2 coloured corn, black corn, red corn, small corn.
The world just opened up for me. So now while I travel, I look for the local food caverns and stops, drink the local alcohol and eat the local food. My friend is a big believer in this – and has tasted alligator meat too. (Yup! she landed up with a massive stomach pain the next day!) I have always been taken by surprise on how local salt, local water and local ingredients can paint each dish with different colours.
When we have dal ki pakodi, in our native village in Rajasthan, the flavours are so original, so specific off each ingredient. And the same thing tastes a bit bland and bleh, back in Bombay. It is the local dal, and the water, which makes the dish all that much more delicious.
Corn from my farm in Mahabaleshwar tastes really good. It’s organic, and we cut it just a few minutes before we want to cook it. This recipe requires crumbled Feta Cheese. I like to freeze the cheese for an hour or so, then grate it with a cheese grater, then again freeze it. Just thaw it an hour before I need to use it. The cheese looks really nice and even and does not coagulate. I use the same trick when I need to crumble Goat’s cheese.
See the link of “how to roast corn” as shown in my previous post. You can, of course, use boiled corn too for this recipe.
Let’s go – visit the streets of Mexico with this one!!
Firstly – apologies for a late blog. I have been stubbornly trying my hand at making a video. (Sometimes a 7 sec video does the work of 70 words!) You will see the videos – its a clumsy first effort – but its there! And I refused to sit and refine it further as I was too impatient to get this post out!
It’s the monsoons in Western India, and corn grows like a rapidly thriving weed in this season. Our farm in Mahabaleshwar (Mahabaleshwar is known for corn) is throwing them out by the bushels. Unfortunately, my corn loving daughter is in the throes of digging our skulls and bones in the Caribbean. The husband travels around too much and the son and mom are not too fond of corn.
(Check out the anatomy of a cob of corn.)
Nevertheless, the way we roast the corn is something I wanted to share with you. (btw – I looked up the word roast in the thesaurus. It has a completely different meaning than what I am trying to do to the corn!!)
During the monsoon, every corner has a street vendor selling corn. We were in the market in Mahabaleshwar and saw this new technique. It takes longer, but the corn gets less burnt and tastes way sweeter.
The corn is peeled off all its layers, except the last. The silk (long strands) stays inside that layer. Then over hot charcoal, the corn is cooked, turning it repeatedly, along with the last layer of the husk (leaves). What happens is that the corn inside starts getting steam cooked, and the sweetness of the silk (the long thin strands) and the flavour of the husk (leaves) permeates into the kernel.
Once the leaf layer, burns off, you will start seeing the kernels. The corn might burn a bit if you are not careful and if the flame is too high (as it did when I shot the video!). So one has to be a bit careful here.
After the last bit of husk and silk are burnt off, and you feel the corn has cooked (press a kernel and check) you can manually peel away the rest of the (now semi-charred) husk.
Your corn is now ready to eat.In India, we rub this corn with a slice of lemon, dipped in salt and red chilly powder. While rubbing the corn, squeeze the lemon wedge into the corn. You can make it as tart and as spicy as you like. This is a typical street style corn on the cob.
I make this very often for the husband. But this time around I made Mexican style street style corn (next on the blog). The son had taken us to an excellent restaurant in San Diego, called Puesto. Mexican food bug bit me hard there. The menu was so very different from the typical Nachos, and Burritos. There is another dish that I have to put up on the blog soon – Street style fruits. I was very reluctant to let go of the water glass they had served it in. Bits of the spicy tangy mix was left over and I wanted to push my face in and lick it clean. I think letting go of the glass was as difficult as letting go of my kid when she first went to kindergarten.
Its the season to walk hand in hand with your partner or kid, get wet in the rains and munch on a hot spicy corn on the cob, straight from the street vendor. Go do yourself this favour – immediately!!
Then bring back home some corn and try roasting it my way too! How you eat it is up to you! 😛