There is something about the farm in full bloom, the birds happy with themselves, bees humming, butterflies swarming around, and our two dogs furtively chasing away the monkeys (who want to uproot our vegetable patches!). The entire happy cycle of nature makes my soul sigh in satisfaction.
This season we got bushels and bushels of corn from our farm in Mahabaleshwar. And strawberries. And radish. And beans. And cauliflower!! And so many other small batches of pure organic vegetables. The taste and inherent sweetness of the freshly plucked organic vegetables is a world apart from what we get in cities.
We had freshly plucked corn, and we all decided to have Corn Pulao.
This is a really simple recipe, very easy prep and damn tasty to boot! Just before adding the rice, you will realise that the corn looks so good, and it tastes and smells good too. At this point you can easily not add the rice and serve it as a veggies with any kind of roti! (we almost did that, as the smell was making us go crazy – and we were fast loosing patience).
Serve it with yoghurt and papad! Or eat it plain! You can easily increase or decrease the spices. What I have written in my recipe is not a very spicy version. The yoghurt, balances the spices.
I hope you like the recipe as much as all of us did!
PS: here is the link to the youtube video to make your life a tad easier!
Cheers and Ciao!
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!
It’s that time of the year again, when our farm in Mahabaleshwar is thriving and blooming. The entire farm is disrupted during the monsoons, which are heavy, non stop and torrential. In fact Mahabaleshwar gets the second highest rainfall in India, next only to Cherrapunji.
Just before the rains are predicted to stop, (and these predictions never come true!), we start planting some seeds in a sheltered area. Once the rains stop, the seeds are now seedlings and can be re transplanted in pots or beds. It’s a lot of work! The soil has to be turned, aired and new top soil has to be spread. Since we plant over almost 2 acres of land, it’s a busy time for all of us.
Seeing the seedlings burst forth into vegetables and flowers is the best thrill and pure fodder for my soul. I love the city but off late ever so often I just want to vacate my senses and vegetate with the vegetation.
This year started with a wild, wild and massive bush of Basil. So much that I did not know what to do with it. I plucked them and got them back to Bombay, still pondering in my head and actually stressing over not wasting this lot. It was fragrant, the leaves heavy with taste. I decided to make Pesto and sell it to my customers.
I came home and experimented with a batch. It was perfect, green and luscious. I bottled it and announced the sale, and it was gone within hours! All the bottles were booked!
Over time, the green becomes pale and dark. So if you want really bright green pesto, make it on the spot and use it. Making it a day in advance allows all the flavours to steep. But if you want to use it as a dip, or in an open sandwich, then make it on the spot.
Basil grows very easily in home cultured pots. And mind you, it can grow wild. Now when you have too much Basil, and your heart is breaking at the wastage, you know what to do with it.
We were all having fondue, and one of our friends did not like the smell of the cheese. So I made Pesto Pasta for her and her husband. I do believe the plate was polished off!!! 😀
I hope you enjoy making this recipe, because there is no better smell than that of, fresh basil, smooth virgin olive oil and fragrant new garlic.
My grand mom made the best Chole in the world. It was a hand me down recipe from her mother who was according to me was an un hailed, un acclaimed legendary cook worth atleast a couple of Michelin Stars. Not only did she cook like her hands were blessed by the gods, but she also remembered amongst the dozens of grand and great grand children, who thronged at her home each summer, what each of us loved to eat. Our stomachs and souls were in heaven when at her home. Every morning, no matter how early we woke up, we would find her tinkering in the kitchen, singing bhajans to her beloved Krishna. I asked her one day if she has any recipes written down – and she looked at me like I was asking her if Krishna liked dance music. Every single recipe, and there were thousands in her repertoire, was stored in her head. And not once was there a variation in what we ate. Each and every time over the years the dishes tasted the same – tasty, heartwarming and soul stirring.
My nani, handed me this recipe of Chole, very casually over dinner one day. I scrambled up and wrote it down. Over the years, I have also perfected this recipe with trials and error. And while it still does not taste like how she or her mom made it, it stills holds good on it’s own….
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.