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.
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.
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!!
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!
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!
Being Indian, and bought up on typical desi meals, Dal has been a staple dish served over lunch and dinner. After years and years of eating dal – Dal tadka, Gujarati Dal, Dal Langarwale, Kaali dal, etc etc, all felt so mundane – so overrated and so damned boring. At some point, I just lost faith in Dal!!
At a wedding recently, I saw the tag read Sailani Dal. Now that sounded completely new and something I had never heard of, let alone eat. I timidly tried a spoon, hoping my boredom towards dal would not bias my taste. My eyes sprang open, and my mouth instantly watered for more. I quickly filled up a soup bowl and made a meal of the dal.
The taste, the different flavours stayed in my mind for the longest time. It’s like one of those right moments when you read, smell or taste something, your senses just inhale it and push it deep into your conscious mind, keeping that memory forever fresh. And at any time when you bring it to your mind, it feels like it happened only a few moments ago.
Completely besotted, I went online for a hunt for the word “Sailani”. What was it? Turns out, it was the Maharaja of Sailana who invented this recipe. The Sailana’s hail from the Indian, Princely State of Madhya Pradesh. They were avid foodies and revamped recipes not only from their hometown but from all over India. In the 1980’s a book of their recipes was published but is no longer available easily.
The dal itself is super easy to make. Even the ingredients are minimal. The recipe calls for Toor (Arhar – Split pigeon peas). I urge you to use the best quality spices while making the Sailani Dal. Eat it with rice, or roti – it’s up to you. But eat it you must-
PS_ dedicating this recipe to my baby girl Kanak, who sits far away in the USA. She had loved this dal when I made it for her. HEY! Kanak – do try this out and send me pictures. KISS KISS!!
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.
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.