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….
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.
I was all set to meet the husband for a romantic lunch, but Bangalore being crowded, overpopulated, Bangalore, the traffic was such that it was either the lunch or the airport. And that airport had a plane parked which was going to take us to Goa! So really there was no dispute, the airport on time – it was.
I surprised our caretaker with a lunch request. She wasn’t prepared to make anything since I had announced gleefully about my romantic plans. So she hemmed and hawed, wondering what to make. (And I was feeling fussy about food that day!) Her husband (I have mentioned him before in my blogs. He is a complete foodie- for which I am eternally grateful!) Well her husband suggested “Kachcha Sambhar” in his typical local accent. It took him three repeats of the word before I realised that is what he actually meant. Raw Sambhar.
I have learnt to experiment and sometimes leave the suggestions to the experts. AND I WAS NOT DISAPPOINTED. In fact, I was in food paradise. Every spoonful going in was ambrosia. Now I love garlic, and I love spice, and the most fun part was it has not one drop of oil!! Perfect right??
We did take off to Goa, and we had an amazing time, caught up in that leftover romance and all that! 😛 But I raved and raved about the Kachcha Sambhar, and he finally told me to use other methods to turn him on!! ( 😛 we are a foodie family!!)
Here is the recipe — the tomatoes have to be burnt — burnt black on a high flame. Wait for it to cool, and skim the skin off. Please do wait for it to cool — this way the skin comes off and does not leave small pieces of black burnt skin behind. We don’t want any black stuff in the sambhar. Same goes for the green chilly.
This is a very spicy dish. Deseeding the chilly reduces the spice. If you want it less spicy, reduce the quantity of the chilly, but don’t delete it completely. That would be a SIN! and Karma will pay you back!!
Tastes absolutely amazing with rice and a bland veggie. I love it with chilla. You make your own combinations and message me.
I was on the floor worshipping this dish! Hope you like it too!