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.
It was evening, and hunger pangs were making our stomach growl furiously. There was no time to make a time consuming snack, we all wanted something healthy and not too heavy. (The dinner menu looked very mouth wateringly promising!).
Rekha, our house keeper jumped to the rescue of our collective moaning tummies. She quickly chopped some onions, made a tadka of spices and curry leaves, took a large helping of puffed rice and to my astonishment, dumped it in a sieve and ran it under running water for a good 3 to 4 minutes.
By now I should not be surprised and astounded by the different ways and methods people around me cook. Rekha and my cousins and family continuously come up with new techniques and unique mixes. My last post was one such experience.
As recipes go, this one is the easiest, quickest snack you can make. You can make the onion mixture ahead of time and soak and mix the puffed rice (kurmura) just before serving.
Most of the ingredients are normally available in all Indian house holds, so there is no need to go rushing to the nearest grocer to buy something. You can of course make it spicer, more sour, add garlic … there is no end to how you can play around with the dish.
On this note, let me announce with the greatest of excitement that I have started my own Youtube channel. Its called The Recipe Larder, same as this blog.
The youtube video link to this recipe is available here. It shows you the step by step method of making this recipe. Do subscribe for more off beat recipes.
Hope you end up making this. Do send me pics!! Cheers! and Ciao!
PS: please tag therecipelarder on istagram, if you wish to share your pics.
We were in Amritsar recently, and the fresh vegetables caught my friends eyes and she really wished to take some back home.
Alas! We had all shopped so much (and hey! it was cold, we had heavy jackets as well!), that our bags were collectively over weight. My poor bereft friend had to let go of the farm fresh vegetables. But to make things a wee better we had true Punjabi Warian with us.
Many years back I had Matar Ka Nimona at my cousins place. I remember eating bowl fulls much to her delight and finally to her dismay. She was worried I would get an upset stomach!!
This is actually a dish famous in Uttar Pradesh. It is mostly made during the winters when the peas are fresh and juicy. Wadi (Warian is Punjabi) in Uttar Pradesh, is made with fresh white pumpkin, urad dal, and garam masala. It’s dried in the heat of summer and remains intact for the year round.
I made this recipe many times last year. It’s very suitable to the Indian palate. Too alien for foreigners. It goes well with any kind of Indian Roti. Even tastes good with rice.
You can easily avoid the onion and garlic and reduce the spice quotient. But some amount of spice is definitely needed, don’t do away with it totally. I prefer to make this without the onion and garlic.
There is something about this dish, which appeals to me greatly. The mouth feel of the pea paste and a subtle hint of flavour left behind by the cooking wadi, and then of course the wadi itself, along with a soft pillowy taste of potatoes cooked in the simmering gravy. The gravy tends to thicken as it goes, and thickens even more when it’s left till it is consumed. So, adding enough water is essential, and just before serving (if made a little ahead of time) add a little salted water and cook till boiling and serve immediately.
Try and get small fresh peas. That will lend to the dish an inherent sweetness, which when combined with the garam masala of the wadi makes it resonate in your mouth.
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….
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!!
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!