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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
Our trip to Japan was largely about Japanese food. Tofu meals, Zen meals and meals in the temple. We all developed a love and respect for Tofu and all its variations. This one restaurant that we went to and which was purely fusion was Rigoletto, in the Roppongi area of Tokyo. They had very few choices for vegetarians, but all of them were sumptuous.
I made the garlic mashed potatoes for my husband’s birthday. It was a smashing hit.
Yeah yeah, it has a lot of calories and all that. But hey! it is really tasty. And you gotta cheat once in a while right? How else will you enjoy life?
The potatoes have to be boiled and later mashed along with all the other ingredients. The entire mixture can be a heavy load for most blenders. Even mine protested mightily but held its own. By no means am I proclaiming Technora blenders to be the best, but where I am concerned it has stood the test of time and use. I love their inbuilt stirrer. I don’t have to open the lid and stir the food, I can do it while the blending is on. Pure genius.
This is a copycat recipe, so my imagination can take no credit for it. But I added a twist to its story, by cooking it in an earthen bowl. It wasn’t coated inside with any kind of ceramic polish. Just pure earthenware. So when the garlic mashed potatoes cooked, the flavour and fragrance of the natural clay seeped into the potato, giving it that extra kick and twist.
Wash the earthenware once and dry it in the sun if you can. Fill the mashed goodness, add dollops of butter, garnish and bake. It’s a quick and easy recipe, and I shall become famous – because everyone is going to ask you for this recipe.
Have fun guys – I promise you a piece of heaven!
We ate at the most amazing restaurant in Hong Kong a few months back. Chef Patrick of La Table De Patrick. It was a small restaurant, with immediate and intimate service. We had called earlier to let them know we are vegetarians. He rotated our entire 5-course meal around it, using wonderful freshly available ingredients.
One dish which Chef served had a sprinkling of truffles on it. With gleeful hands, we tore at the food, but it came up short on the truffle flavour. It was crunchier and had very mild to non-existent truffle taste.
Chef explained that it was summer truffles, and has very little flavour. We uneducated, but truffle fans, learnt a lot that evening.
The most flavourful truffles are the winter ones. The white winter truffles are available from October to Christmas. These have a strong flavour and can deter new truffle tasters.
The black winter truffles are what most people serve and is more easily available. Its the most preferred variety of the lot. Available from Mid Jan to Easter. (What will happen to us truffle lovers from Christmas to Mid Jan? Hoarde! Hoarde! )
The summer Truffle is available from April to July and has a very light flavour. Almost non-existent. None of us much appreciated it.
Autumn burgundy truffles are more medium bodied and great for someone who likes truffles but cannot have too much of it because of the strong flavour and aroma.
In my family of four – three of us adore it, while the fourth needs to taste the autumn burgundy one to start developing a taste. (I have no clue where to get it from!!)
It was an educative and tasty evening and inspired me to make this scrambled egg.
If you have seen the movie or read the book – A hundred foot journey- the, to be a great chef, Hassan meets Mallory the owner of the restaurant. This is a synopsis from the book -Hassan, having heard from Marguerite that Mallory hires potential chefs by taste-testing an omelette and deciding whether the person is indeed a great chef, asks if he may cook an omelette for her to his recipe. Due to his injured hands, Mallory helps under Hassan’s supervision. After tasting the omelette, Mallory recognizes Hassan’s potential and invites him to work for her.
The omelette they made looked so amazing!! I used a part of the recipe for this blog.
Take a look!