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.)…
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.
My friend Ajit invented this absolutely unusual recipe on the spot.
We were all in Mahabaleshwar, wondering about the dinner menu. Naan and Kaali Dal were already in the picture, and he volunteered to make an Aloo (Potato) veggie. This jovial, happy – go – lucky, man waltzed into the kitchen at 10 am, fiddled around with pots and pans, and waltzed back out. Then at 7 pm, he took a stiff drink of whisky in his hand, asked for a bottle of rum, (leaving me wondering, as to how we will get him off the kitchen floor and into bed!!) and marched into the kitchen again. I confess to taking a few peeks into the kitchen, just to check if he was still standing. The one time I peeped in, I saw him drain the bottle of Rum into the pan of simmering potatoes. I heaved a sigh of relief, and went about my business grinning, impatiently waiting to taste these crazy Rum laden potatoes.
I really don’t need to tell you how good it was, because I know as soon as you read the recipe you will definitely want to try it at least once. After that, you will be hooked. And all those who eat it with you will be hooked. I have already made it thrice in a span of three weeks, and I am a very very happy person when mealtime arrives.
This dish takes a little bit of planning, a little bit of sweat and a great deal of Rum. I really suggest you make it just the way I have mentioned. Everything that Ajit, has put into this Rum Wale Aloo – a la Ajit – has a purpose and imparts some sort of flavour.
Get hold of the smallest potatoes you can. And please see that all of them are approximately the same size. This way, they will all cook uniformly.
Marinate it for an at least 6 hours. I did a huge boo boo, last week. I was asked to make this recipe for a friend’s party and so I marinated the potatoes, a night before to make it next morning, only to realise that I have miscalculated the dates. It was not due for yet another day. I just said a fervent prayer and popped the potatoes into the fridge and let it marinate for yet another 24 hours. So in all – 36 hours of deep marination. Whoa! It cooked faster, tasted bloody good and it did not smell like over worn socks.
So yay!! Go for it – marinate it for as long as you can.
Besides a long marinating time, it also takes a little while to cook. I would suggest good Jazz music in the background (Why Jazz? – well it just seems to set the right tone for this dish! All sultry and seductive. Something good waiting to happen!) A good drink in the hand, and a happy go – lucky nature like the inventor of this dish.
Oye Ajit – Cheers!!
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!
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!!!
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!