Monday, March 31, 2014

Happy New Year!!

नविन वर्षांच्या हार्दिक शुभेच्छा

Happy New Year

Above "Gudhi" is made by the talented children at "Avhan Palak Sangh". Thanks dear children, for brightening our new year with your creativity and art. May God bless you.

Happy Gudhi Padva - Gudhi Padva is the new year celebrated by Maharashtrians by hoisting "Gudhi" near the house. The same day is celebrated in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh as Ugadhi and also by Sindhis as Cheti Chand as mentioned in the above link.

Gudhi is a bamboo stick on which a festive cloth & copper kalasha/pot is kept. It is decorated with flowers - mostly marigolds. The main door is decorated with marigold flowers and mango leaves - Toran. A festive lunch is made to mark the new year. Mostly, my mom makes Shrikhand on this day.

The legend has it that this was the day, Ram returned Ayodhya after His exile of 14 years. So people of Ayodhya celebrated this day by hoisting Gudhis to welcome their beloved prince.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Fried Smelts - CKP Style

Fried Smelts

My best friend recommended smelts. She told me that they can be substituted for crispy fried mandeli that we get in Mumbai. I finally could find smelts. They indeed taste great.

Today's fish fry is per CKP style. That means along with usual turmeric, chili powder, fish is also marinated with a green paste of green chili, cilantro, ginger & garlic.

Fried Smelts
12-15 smelts
salt to taste
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/ 4 tsp asafetida
1/2 tsp chili powder

Grind to a fine paste
2 tbsp. cilantro
3-4 green chilies (or per desired heat)
2-3 cloves garlic
1/2" ginger

2 tbsp. fine rawa

Oil for frying

1. Marinate fish with spices and green paste
2. Heat oil in a tawa /pan.
3. Dredge marinated fish in rawa and pan fry till crispy.
4. Drain on a kitchen paper towel.

Note -
1. Any fish can be fried "CKP" style by adding the green paste.

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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Paneer Cheese with Herbs





Whenever I get to visit Mumbai, I look forward to visiting  those quaint  restaurants and shops from my childhood. While my family and friends want me to visit new restaurants (think Main Land China, Olive and such...), I really want to visit those beautiful old eateries. On one such visit to good, old Parsi Dairy, I discovered their paneer laden with green chilies and cilantro. I don't remember now, what it was called. But it sure gave me an inspiration to try my own version.

Paneer Cheese with Herbs
Indian Cottage Cheesed with Herbs
4 cups 2 % milk
1 - 2 tbsp. lemon juice

A pinch of salt
1/2 tbsp. corn flour

Mix together and set aside
2 tbsp. minced cilantro
2 green chilies, minced
1/2 tsp roasted cumin seeds

1. Bring milk to boil.
2. Reduce gas and pour 1 tbsp. lemon juice. Milk will curdle immediately. If not, add more lemon juice.
3. Switch off the gas.
4. Strain the curdled milk to separate cheese and whey.
5. Hand pick if there are any lemon seeds. Tie in a cheesecloth and keep some weight on top to get rid of excess water.
6. Let it cool down so it's easy to handle.
7. Knead the paneer. Add salt, corn flour and herb mixture. Knead again till everything is nicely incorporated.
8. Spread in a plate and cover with a lid.
9. Refrigerate for an hour so it gets firm.
10. Now it's ready to use. Cut into squares and use for making pakodas, shashlik or kadai paneer.

Note -
1. Do not throw away whey. It is very healthful. So use for kneading dough for chapatis or use as a stock for making pulao, soups or curries.

Following recipes can be made using this Indian Cottage Cheese/Paneer with herbs:-
Paneer Shashlik
Paneer Pakoda (Coming soon)
Paneer Pavbhaji(Coming soon)

Parsi Dairy, Mumbai

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Zucchini Fritters


Sometimes, this simple pleasure of deep fried pakodas/bhuji on a rainy/wintery day is so worth it!;-)

Zucchini Fritters
4 cups shredded zucchini
1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup minced cilantro
2-3 green chilies, minced (adjust according to the desired heat)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp asafetida
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp owa/ajwain/ajmo
A pinch of baking soda
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
1 1/4 cup besan
salt as needed

Oil for deep frying

1. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp salt on the grated zucchini.
2. Set aside for 1/2 hour.
3. Squeeze out any extra moisture.
4. Add all the remaining ingredients except oil. Adjust for salt.
5. Heat oil for deep frying.
6. When oil is hot, add spoonful of batter without over crowding oil.
7. Fry till it is uniformly brown from all the sides.
8. Drain on a clean kitchen towel.
9. Serve hot fritters with tomato ketchup and hot cup of tea.

Note -
1. Cabbage can be substituted.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Chora daal na pooda(2)


This is just a variation of chora daal na pooda with garlic. This pooda is made without any garlic and hence is quite plain. You can serve it with a spicy shaak or chutney to make up for the blandness.

Chora Daal na Pooda(2)
Cowpeas Pancake
1 cup chora daal, soaked for 4 hours
Salt to taste

Oil for cooking

Suggested Accompaniments
Kanda Bataka nu shaak
and/or Lasan ni chutney

1. Soak the chora daal in adequate water for 3-4 hours.
2. Grind the drained daal adding water as necessary along with salt.
3. Adjust the consistency of the batter to resemble the dosa batter.
4. Heat a griddle or dosa pan. Pour a ladleful of batter.
5. Add a drop or two of oil. Brown on both sides.

Note -
1. Do not exceed soaking time more than 4 hours otherwise it will start stinking.

Chora na pooda with kanda bataka nu shaak

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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Agari Style Prawns Curry

I tasted this curry at my college friend's place. Her mom used to make delicious seafood curries. At times, we friends used to invite ourselves at her place since her home was somewhat closer to the college! Her ever smiling mom always used to welcome us and never let us leave unless we ate the delicious home cooked meal. Sometimes, she would serve us this prawns curry with chapatis.

Agari Style Prawns Curry
Prawns Curry
7 okra/ladies finger, cut into 2" pieces
2 small eggplants, sliced
7 pieces of drumstick/shevgyachya shenga
2 potatoes, peeled & slied
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 firm red tomato, sliced
3-4 kokums, rinsed
salt to taste

1 cup prawns, peeled, deveined
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp Agari Masala
2 tsp ginger-garlic paste

Grind to a coarse paste
1/2 cup cilantro
1 tbsp. Agari Masala
1/2 cup freshly scraped coconut
2-3 green chilies or per heat

1 tbsp. oil
3-4 cloves of garlic, smashed with peels on

1. Marinate prawns with spice powders and ginger-garlic paste. Set aside.
2. Grind coconut with the remaining ingredients to a coarse paste.
3. Heat oil in a deep saucepan/kadhai. Add garlic cloves. Let them turn reddish.
4. Add thinly sliced onion. Saute till onion is soft.
5. Now add all the remaining vegetables. Cover with a lid. Pour some water on the lid. Let it cook till vegetables are almost cooked. Add tomato. Saute for 1 minute.
6. Now, pour some water from the lid, add prawns and coconut paste.
7. Add kokums and salt as needed.
8. Simmer for about 10 minutes on low flame.

Note -
1. Add more water if needed.
2. Agari Masala is a special spice blend that is probably only made in the Agari households. A combination of garam masala and chili powder can be substituted.

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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Rose Jam Milkshake

My mom used to make delicious milkshake by adding a dollop of jam. She would use this trick especially when the jam bottle was coming to end. She would add milk in the jam bottle and shake it, so the milkshake used to be frothy and most importantly her jam bottle used to be squeaky clean. ;-)
I used the same trick for making Rose Jam flavored Milkshake.
Rose Jam Milkshake
1 tbsp. Rose Jam  (Use more or less)
3 cups cold milk
1. Blend jam and milk in a blender.
2. Serve immediately
Note -
1. Rose Jam is generally available at the middle eastern stores.
2. This milkshake results in very faint shade of pink. If you expect to get more pink color, you may need to add edible food color.
3. This jam is pretty sweet. You don't need to add additional sugar. Adjust jam quantity depending on your personal taste.

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Friday, March 21, 2014

Kesariyo Doodhpaak

Not sure if Doodh paak is to be labeled as a South Canara food or Gujarati food? Of course, my Konkani relatives call it just "Doodh Paak" and Gujarati relatives add a prefix of "Kesariyo" (Saffron added).

Kesariyo Doodhpaak
Saffron flavored Basmati Milk
1 lit milk - preferably whole milk
A fistful Basmati Rice

3/4 cup sugar (or to taste)

few threads of saffron + 1 tbsp. hot milk
4-5 green cardamoms, peeled & powdered
4-5 almonds, soaked, peeled & slivered

Suggested Accompaniment

1. Rinse & drain basmati rice. Spread on a kitchen towel or muslin cloth and let it air dry.
2. Put milk to boil. Keep a ladle and keep stirring every once in a while.
3. When milk comes to boil, switch the gas to low.
4. Take a spoonful of hot milk and add saffron threads in a small ramekin. Set aside.
5. Add a spoonful of ghee/clarified butter and apply to now dried basmati grains.
6. Pour ghee applied basmati to the milk.
7. Keep stirring and let the rice cook.
8. Add sugar. Stir well.
9. Add saffron milk mixture, cardamom powder and almond slivers.
10. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes.

Note -
1. Serve warm with puris as a part of traditional meal.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

One Spice Rice

My maushi is one of the most innovative cooks I have ever met. She comes up with some unique recipes. She never uses pressure cooker for making the daily rice. She always uses "Konkani Velun" method (i.e. Boil rice like pasta and then drain the water).
Sometimes she adds just one spice in that rice. That one spice gives its unique aroma to the cooked rice. You can use black peppercorn, cinnamon or clove. I love to use cloves. I generally use about double amount of water and cook the rice and so I do not have to drain the water.
One Spice Rice
1 cup Basmati Rice
3 cloves
2 1/4 cups water
1. Pick, rinse Basmati.
2. Place in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Add 2 1/4 cup water and cloves.
3. Bring to boil on high flame.
4. Lower the flame to medium low. Cook for about 9 minutes.
5. Cover with a tight fitting lid for about 10 minutes.
6. Serve hot rice with any curry of your choice.
1. Discard cloves before serving.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Granny Smith - with chili and salt

My favorite way of eating tart Granny Smith Apple is by sprinkling chili powder and salt. Serve it as a snack or as an accompaniment with your daily Indian meal. There is not really a great recipe to share but try this unusual salad.
Granny Smith - namak mirchi marke!
1 granny smith apple
chili powder
salt to taste
1. Rinse and dry granny smith apple. Cut into wedges.
2. Sprinkle chili powder and salt.
3. Eat immediately.
1. Granny Smith Apples are tart and hence taste the best this way. Any other variety may be too sweet for this combination.

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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Rose Cookies

For the international food fest at work, I baked Rose flavored cookies. I am always apprehensive about cooking anything for a generic group of people as I am not aware of their likes and dislikes. But happy to report that these cookies were an instant hit and were gone in just few seconds. I was pleasantly surprised.

I am giving the recipe for one batch. You can bake in multiple batches if you are baking for a crowd.

Rose Cookies
1/2 cup butter, unsalted and at room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp. rose jam

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
A very small pinch of salt

Edible, dry Rose petals

1. Preheat oven 350F
2. Beat butter, sugar and jam.
3. Mix flour with salt and add to the butter mixture.
4. Beat again for a minute.
5. Using clean, dry hands, knead the dough.
6. Make 15 uniform balls.
7. Place one rose petal on each ball and flatten it gently.
8. Bake for about 14-15 minutes.
9. Cook on the baking tray for 2-3 minutes.
10. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool down completely.

Note -
1. Rose Jam is available in the Middle Eastern Stores.
2. Use edible, dry rose petals from a health store.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Kanda Bataka nu Shaak


I am sure that there are gazillion versions of simple onion-potato curries. This is just one of the many, simple yet delicious "shaak" from my mother-in-law's kitchen.

Kanda Bataka nu Shaak
Onion-Potatoes Curry
4 medium potatoes, boiled, peeled & chopped
1 onion, peeled & chopped
1 tomato, chopped

1 tbsp. Gujarati Garam Masala
salt to taste
1/2 tsp amchoor powder
1/2 tsp chili powder

1 tbsp. oil
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp asafetida
2 tsp green chili-ginger paste

1/4 cup cilantro

1. Heat oil in a saucepan.
2. Add ingredients for tempering.
3. As they sizzle add onion. Saute till onion is soft.
4. Add tomato, potatoes, salt and Gujarati garam masala.
5. Add sugar, chili powder and amchoor powder.

6. Mix well and serve with rotla or thepla.

Note -
1. Depending on the requirement, add water to make more gravy or keep it dry to be served in the lunch box.

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Sunday, March 9, 2014

Orange Tilapia

Orange Tilapia
This is my version of Orange Fish that I had in a small local eatery in San Francisco. If you like sweet-sour flavor, you may enjoy it.
Orange Tilapia
3 Tilapia fillets, rinsed, cut into chunks
1 1/2 tbsp. Orange Marmalade
1 tbsp. rice vinegar
salt & black pepper to taste
1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
1 tbsp. ginger-garlic paste
1 tbsp. chopped dill leaves
1/2 tsp. paprika
Few drops of toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp.. Oil for cooking
Fresh Dill or Thai Basil or Mint, chopped
1. Whisk the ingredients for marinade and set aside.
2. Rinse tilapia fillets. Cut into bite sized chunks.
3. Marinade using 1/2 of the marinade. Reserve the other half for cooking.
4. Marinate for at least an hour, preferably in a refrigerator.
5. Heat oil in a wok or saucepan.
6. Place Tilapia chunks in a single layer.
7. Let them cook, flipping once.
8. Pour the reserved marinade and let it stick to the pieces.
9. Garnish with herbs of your choice.
10. Serve with plain rice or noodles of your choice.
Note -
1. Add green chilies or Sriracha sauce in the marinade, if you prefer heat.

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Friday, March 7, 2014

Lasan ni Chutney - Garlic Chutney

Pungent garlic, hot chili powder and sweet jaggery, makes this chutney simply irresistible especially as an accompaniment with mild dishes like khata dhokla or chora na pooda.

Lasan Ni Chutney
Garlic Chutney
18-20 cloves of garlic, peeled & roughly chopped
1/2  tbsp. chili powder (or per taste)
salt to taste
1/2 tbsp. jaggery

Suggested Accompaniment
Khata Dhokla
Chora na pooda

1. Grind all the ingredients without adding any water.

Note -
1. Serve as an accompaniment with any mild dish like khata dhokla or chora na pooda.
2. Adjust chili powder and jaggery per your preference.

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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Cauliflower Rassa Bhaaji

I put together this simple Kolhapuri Rassa Bhaaji the other day. I thought of sharing it with you all.

Cauliflower Rassa Bhaaji
1 medium cauliflower, cut into small florets
2 medium potatoes, peeled & chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 cup green peas (frozen okay)
1 cup carrot diced (frozen okay)
salt to taste
2 tsp Kolhapuri Masala (or to taste)

Grind to a fine paste
1/2 cup freshly scraped coconut
2-3 green chilies
1"ginger, peeled
3-4 garlic cloves

1 tbsp. oil
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp asafetida
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 cup chopped onion

Mix till no lumps
1/2 tbsp. besan/chickpea flour
1/2 cup water

1. Cut all the vegetables and set aside.
2. Mix besan with water till there are no lumps.
3. Heat oil and add all spices. As they splutter, add onions. Sauté till soft.
4. Add tomatoes and all other vegetables. Cover with a lid. Pour some water on the lid till vegetables are cooked.
5. Add coconut paste, kolhapuri masala and salt. Add 1 cup water.
6. When water starts to boil, add besan mixture. Let the gravy thickens.
7. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Note -
1. Instead of adding carrots and green peas, just cauliflower and potatoes can be used.
2. You can make this as a dry subzi. In that case, do not add besan+water mixture. Do not add any water.

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Monday, March 3, 2014

Chanya Usli

Chanya Usli is made by tempering boiled black chanas/chickpeas with South Canara spices. My grandmother used to make either Chanya usli or chanya saar upkari on Fridays.
Chanya Usli
South Canara style Black Chickpeas
2 cups chana sprouts
salt to taste
1 tbsp. coconut oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp asafetida
2 sprigs curry leaves, torn
1 green chili, slit
1 red chili, halved
Freshly scraped coconut
1. Pressure cook chickpeas using adequate amount of water.
2. Heat oil in a kadhai. Add all the spices and let them sizzle.
3. Add boiled chickpeas and their cooking liquid.
4. Add salt. Let it simmer till all the liquid evaporates.
5. Add coconut to garnish.
Note -
1. Traditionally, a copious amount of coconut is added to this recipe otherwise, this "usli" tends to be very dry.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Grilled Vada Pav


Those who are familiar with my blog may already know my extreme fondness for Vada Pav. Today, I am sharing a new vadapav from Mumbai. Well, it's new for me, anyways! Growing up, I had never come across this grilled version. But these days, grilled vada pav and samosa pav seem to be the in thing in Mumbai. So here's my version -

Grilled Vada Pav (Serves 2)
2 Batata Vadas
2 Pavs or any Panini bread of your choice
Garlic chutney
Green Chutney
Tomato Ketchup

Oil or butter as needed (I use Olive oil butter)

1. Spread chutneys and ketchup on the inner side of the pav or bread.
2. Stuff each vada in each pav.
3. Butter/oil the crust.
4. Keep in a Panini maker or grill.
5. Let it grill till marks appear on the crust.
6. Take out and cut into halves.
7. Serve with Tomato ketchup.

Note -
1. Similarly grilled Samosa Pav can also be made. Honestly speaking, Samosa pav appears little redundant to me, since Samosa already has a cover of all purpose flour. But go right ahead, if it works for you!
2. Torta rolls from Costco worked really well for this recipe.
3. There are several versions of batata vada on my blog (& believe me, many more to come!). So choose any recipe that you find most appealing!;-)

Some Batata Vada Permutations & Combinations -
1. Marathi Batata Vada
2. Gujarati Bataka Vada
3. Indori Alu Vada
4. Vada Pav
5. Baked Vada Pav

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