Sunday, March 30, 2008

Bourbon Shankarpali


I had tasted sandwich shankarpali in Mumbai many years ago but have never tried it at home yet. Somewhere in my mind the taste and the innovative idea stayed. I was off to the North East of India on a holiday and till the last minute I had many things to wind up at work. I did not have enough time to get more munchies made and neither had I done shopping for the ingredients.

The idea of sandwich shankarpali was playing in my head as the verdict was cake and shankarpali for the Khaoo chi bag - marathi for bag of eatables. In the pantry there was wheat flour but no maida/all purpose flour, a tin of cocoa powder beckoning to be opened but no chocolate cake yet as I had made it just sometime ago. Finally the sandwich shankarpali and bourbon biscuits merged in my kitchen and this new creation was born.

Ingredients

1/8 cup crushed jaggery
3/4 cup water
1 heaped cup whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
Ghee to fry

for the chocolate filling

1/2 cup Cadbury's cocoa powder
1 tablespoon Hershey's chocolate syrup
2 tablespoon granular sugar
1 teaspoon milk (or more)

In a saucepan add the crushed jaggery and water a bring to boil. It will give a slightly sticky syrup. Put off the heat and add whole wheat flour to it. Mix well and turn out the boiled dough onto a counter. Knead the dough well. Divide dough into 4 balls. Roll out four chapatis of 6 inch daimeter. Keep aside.

Next in a bowl mix together the cocoa powder, chocolate syrup, granular sugar and milk to get a paste. Spread this paste on two of the chapatis. Cover with the other two chapatis. Now you will have 2 chocolate filled chapatis. Roll out further each one to increase the daimeter to get 8 to 9 inch.


Now cut into shape of choice using a pizza cutter. I cut it into rectangles. They looked really pretty. Fry in Ghee on medium heat. They brown easily so reduce to sim if the ghee becomes too hot. Do not stir too much in fact turn over only once and remove else the layers separate.

Drain on a slotted spoon and remove on a paper napkin lined mesh. Allow to cool complete and then store in an airtight container. Resist the temptation to eat hot, jaggery can scald the tongue.

This is one more recipe with my comparatively newfound love for jaggery. The smell does not bother me any more.


Friday, March 28, 2008

A WOW Quarter!

The Eco-bag is a canvas tote with a green floral design and the simple choices for better life and environmental conservation. Also you see brand Darjeeling, a picture of the toy train that I rode during the holidays.


I wanted to write about this for a long time but since it was very personal and emotional I took time to put it up here.

Beginning of this quarter I completed 5 yrs in my Organization. I reflect that I have been lucky when it comes to the roles I played and that I was able to build my circle of influence. There have been people who believed in me, people who saw in me more than I told them. People who stood behind me. If you guys are reading this. A Big Thank You! from the bottom of my heart.

It all began a month before the 5Th anniversary, the first mail saying my data is being cleaned up:). As if I would not guess! Then asking for a new photograph for a new work id. My Group Manager started his goofy calls asking me for the names of people still in the organization and who have worked with me. I knew why he wanted it ;). I have moved between companies in my org so I gave him a big list of the relationships and names. The excitement just built on.

On the day of my anniversary I got my new id card with a new picture that I had submitted and a bright new red tag that denoted 5 yrs of association. As a traveller the thrilling part was a mail allowing me to choose a holiday destination of my choice anywhere in India for 2 nights paid by the Company. I took time and chose Darjeeling. (I added few more destinations on my own and extended the holidays to a 10 day enchanting journey that I am just back from). I said WOW!

Shrinidhi took great efforts to collect sound bytes from my colleagues and friends and read it out during the celebrations, while he handed out the tokens for long service from the org. My throat ached and I could barely thank him. I want to thank through this post all of you who sent in the sweet words. Madhulika, Keith you guys made me cry and brought back Mumbai memories of passion for work and fun too. My senoirs had some things to say and I promise to live up to it. I made a tiny acceptance speech to close the celebrations.

Then on 7th March came International Women's Day and my organization said WOW! to all the women employees. We got Eco-bags as take aways. The org. sees us as ambassadors of change and they WOWed us one more time!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Announcing Swachchanda

Swachchanda in Sanskrit means a free spirit. Actions controlled by the soul. This defines me therefore my travel dairy gets the name. Check it out here.

To begin with I will be publishing my travel notes from the recent trip to the North East of India every weekend. I wrote everyday after returning to the hotel and during travel, on the train and in the waiting rooms at railway stations documenting my experiences.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Madivala Lake


As the bus passed Madivala Lake everyday this bright morning sun and the wilderness made this wanderer's heart dream of places yet to visit. Being a person that follows the heart I'm off to the mountains. Bags packed, munchies tucked in. So see you after 10 days.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Fresh Corn Chowder

Sumptuous Bowl



The Saturday Spread -

Fresh Corn Chowder, Methi Bread Sticks, Griddle roasted potatoes and Cut fruits

I think I like her, the sensuous lady and she is not the skinny type ooohhhing and ahhhing with mouthfuls of baby food in the name of good food. That is Nigella.

Well this recipe is adapted from the Nigella Express. Adapted is when you don't have all ingredients at hand but you venture all out and end up doing something of your own.

Ingredients

1 cup corn kernels
1/4 Red onion (She used 2 scallions/spring onion)
2 tablespoon semolina
1 cup cubed mixed vegetable (carrot, beans, capsicum etc)
2 teaspoons oil.
salt to taste
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon vinegar
water as you like

Grind the corn, semolina and piece of onion together with little bit of water. Heat a saucepan, add oil. Stir fry the mixed vegetables. Remove and divide into 2 serving bowls. Now add the ground paste and stir fry for 5 mins. Then top up with water as you like. Chowders are thick soups so 2 cups is good. Add the salt, sugar and vinegar and bring to boil and it is nice and creamy. Put off heat and divide into the bowls with the veggies.

This Chowder has a texture so it has a repeat value with us and that's an exception
we make to thick soups.

Don't you think eating light on a Saturday afternoon is fun?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Apple Sheera



Apple Sheera decorated with apple flowers and accompanied with Gol Kachori for a savory bite.


My family is a special Sheera lover family, you have heard that before on this blog haven't you? We don't like the ordinary Sheera but we are nuts about Sheera with fruits, dry fruits different spicings and presentations.


Its always a challenge to make Sheera appealing all the time. Last Saturday I made Apple Sheera and decorated it to please.


The Ketchup kid behaved indiscreetly on Friday evening while we were at a friend's and that called for a scolding. It was going to be followed by a sulking for a few days I knew. Hence I went all out on a cooking frenzy over the weekend as that is what cheers him. It also helped that we had visitors all day on Sunday to change the mood that I expected to follow the Friday nights events.

So here is a recipe to mend hearts.


Ingredients
1 cup semolina
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup apple cubes with skin
2 cup hot milk
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2.5 + 0.5 tablespoon ghee
1/4 cup chopped mix nuts and raisins


Before you cube the apple refer the steps to decorate given below.

In a wok heat 2 tablespoons of the ghee and roast the semolina till grains looks well coated with the ghee and separated. Now in goes the sugar, mix well and pour in the hot milk. Keep stirring. Cover with a lid and cook for 5 mins. Stir in the apple cubes and let the semolina absorb the juices and flavors. Cover again and cook till the semolina looks fluffy. Add the nuts, raisins, cinnamon powder and mix well. When done let in the 1/2 tablespoon ghee and allow it to melt in by spreading evenly on the top. Mix well.


To decorate:
Spread the sheera evenly in a plate. Cut out with a heart shaped cookie cutter. Place the heart shaped Sheera in a serving plate.

Now take a whole apple press into it a flower shaped cookie cutter all the way till the center. Cut up the apple daigonally to get a flower shaped cylinder. Hold the flower shaped cylinder between your thumb and first finger and cut horizontally to get about 1/2 inch thick flowers. The flower with the apple skin is put on the Sheera heart while white flowers are to used on the sides.


I served the Apple Sheera with Gol Kachori as an accompaniment.


The Gol Kachori is from Haldiram. The pack is attractive, with a plastic tray that holds about 10 pieces with a foil seal that keeps the freshness. Yet again Haldiram has succeeded to deliver the familiar and authentic tastes to people in unfamiliar lands through packaging and distribution. Cheers to them!





Also see the box of Kaju Katli that Anand and Asawari had brought from Nagpur when they last visited.
Other Sheera varieties:

Friday, March 07, 2008

Carrot Paratha


In my lunch box, Carrot Paratha and Vangyacha bharit

Carrot Paratha makes you a kid again with all that color and yum factors. One night we made too much carrot Koshimbir, the regular grated carrots with a squeeze of lemon, fine chopped chilies and cilantro. I never have the heart to throw food, its a weakness that added to my weight problem. Many times there would be just a small protion left and no takers. They'd declare throw it away. We don't freeze leftovers and no one likes it the next day even if properly warmed. So I would finish of the food to avoid wastage. I have now however overcome that habbit and eat only as much as I need. If I have leftovers I now transform them completely and the no taker category then turn 'dil mange more'. This Carrot Paratha is one such creation. We make it only with leftover Koshimbir and now it is being demanded as a specially made one.

Ingredients

1 cup Carrot Koshimbir as explained above or a similar one
2 table spoon curd
1 cup wheat flour
salt to taste
1 table spoon oil

Remove all the ingredients on the counter and knead well. You mostly would not need water as the koshimbir will release enough water and the curd used is enough to get a smooth dough. It should be slightly tighter than chapati dough as it will soften further when we leave it still for 10 mins.

Pinch off small portions of dough and shape a ball. Roll out into a desired shape for the paratha. I made small round ones thicker than normal chapatis so that the carrot shreds stay embedded well in the dough else you get a sieve of a paratha.

Roast it on a hot gridle and polish of with curd when still hot OR if packing of a meal apply some ghee and put it into a box. Roll it in foil to keep really soft untill meal time.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Batata Vada Odyssey


Batata Vada is the ball of potato dipped in chickpea batter and fried in hot peanut oil. What's not to like in it?

Batata Vada has a special place in the heart of a Mumbaikar. It is not only the signature dish of The Great M, sandwiched in a soft fresh bun, the ubiquitous pao but also is the consumed most at railway stations. The mention of batata vada conjours up memories of journeys and also of commutes to work day in and day out for many Mumbaikar. Join me on an odyssey of the best batata vadas paired with the paos.

Starting with VT or CST as it is now known. Begin with Capital theatre building, the corner outlet next to the restaraunt sells a nice batata vada but the bhaaji inside is not the maharashtrian yellow but a fainter color as is the south indian yellow. Go little further a few furlongs in the same line as Cannon. The Dandekar's of Cannon were famed for their pav bhaaji don't remember if they made batata vada. Next to it the Kalakatta stall that was a must after the savory treats, wonder if their menu has changed now. Drool.

Jump on to the local train get off at Dadar, eat at Mama Kane's. Take a Thane local. Go straight to Kunja Vihar opp the dilapidated ST Bus stop. Their's is the best Batata Vada and soft buttery pav with the thikhi-meethi chutneys. You have to stand in que to get service. Every Vada pav is warmed in the microwave before serving. Take a harbour to Chembur, walk towards Joy Hospital, a woman has a push cart that even doctors swarm. It was many times our snack when a family member was hospitalized in Joy Hospital.

On the western railway side Khaoo galli (Food Street) is loved by many people to me it brings back memories of food poisoning after chomping on a vada pav after the school annual functions at the nearby Patkar hall. Another train route to Dadar and closer to Mama Kane's on this side of the city. At Parle East it has to be Champion, Goregaon West has some busy stalls and the Malad's famous M M Mithaiwala's.

Infact every station has its batata vada stall famed for crawling roaches as well as others that Mumbaikars swear by. In most conversation between family members over the phone you will hear a hungry one telling that they had Vada pav to survive till they reach home. Yes Vada pav is indispensible in Mumbai.

What is a good vada all about? Mashed potatoes spiced right and dipped in chickpea flour that coats the ball of potates in a thin coat. If you are eating one with a thick cover, I bet it is hotel style, they use soda bicarb in the batter. That makes you thirsty after eating. A home style one is without the soda bicarb.

If I had to acknowledge copyrights for Batata vada, I have to do it this way.

For My family's sake my tuppence worth recipe:

Ingredients

1/4 kg raw potatoes
1 handful cilantro
1/4 teaspoon mustard
a pinch of asafoetida
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
2-3 cloves garlic
1/4 inch ginger.
2-3 green chilies
salt to taste
2 teaspoon oil

Boil the potatoes in a pressure cooker.

In a mortar and pestle pound the green chilies, garlic and ginger together with salt. Save.

In a wok heat oil add the mustard, let it crackle. Then add the asafoetida and the pounded masala of ginger etc. Put off the heat add the boiled potatoes, cilantro, turmeric and salt mix well.

Now shape either as balls or flat vadas.



Prepare batter for dip.

1 cup chickpea flour
salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon red chilli powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 to 3/4 cup water

Oil for frying. Dip the balls in the chickpea flour batter and fry till you get a reddish ting to make sure they are fried well and crisp.

You will see a no entry board on heaven's door if you haven't tasted Batata Vada, such is the cult following.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Merlion Relish Forks

Merlion Relish Forks, my entry for Click March 08

As I read this month's announcement for the Click - the photo event my choice immediately was the Merlion relish forks. It was ideal choice for this blog event and for another personal event, read below about it.

My brother, Hrushi is leaving for the Land of the Merlion to pursue a Master's in Business, tonight. His specialization, Enterprise Resource Planning so this post is to first wish him luck for an exciting future.

Bal, Wish you success and a prosperous future!

Well, back to Merlion relish forks, my Dad had brought these back from Singapore. When I decided to participate in Click I decide to do a bit of research. I have been calling them salad forks all the time as thats what we call forks used to eat fruit salads. However, our guru the internet threw up so much information on searching for types of forks that now I know these are called Relish forks. If not anything else it sounds snobbish. Read here why they are called by the name.

The relish forks are slimmer and may be 2 or three pronged. They are used to not eat but just to pick up food from a container without contaminating the rest of the food. Ain't it interesting.

Mine have a lovely Merlion at one end that functions as a knob to give a grip. The forks are held inside the hollow Merlion shaped case, that plays the Singapore song and flashes lights too.

I had never bothered to find out what metal it was made from. It wasn't steel or silver I knew but knowing Bee and Jai and their line.....

Metal surfaces, cutlery, crockery, utensils, cookware, appliances, foil, bakeware, cast iron, steel, tin, aluminum, gold, silver, copper, brass, pewter …. we’d like to see them all.

How could I not try to find out what metal they are made of. I fortunately had a booklet that came with it and Lo I found out it was pewter!

Once I had a guest who stayed with us for 2 months, while she was with us she explored every niche of my poorly furnished home in Blr. One evening she asked me to show her the Merlion. I pushed the clip to play the music and gosh it went all the way in. The Merlion went on singing and I had no way of stopping it. I tried dismantling the piece but in vain. It played on and on and it gave me a headache, the battery was so good it refused to drain. Finally I got frustrated and shut it up in my Dad's wardrobe. Dad was not around and he was going to return home late. A couple of hours had passed off and both of us, the guest and me forgot about it as we got busy with the cooking and gossiping. When Dad came home and opened his wardrobe he jumped out of his skin when he heard a moaning, almost yelling out loud as if there was something evil in there. I managed to calm him down and sheepishly owned up of dumping the Merlion there. All three of us burst out laughing after that. This is one of the funniest moments in my life.




Saturday, March 01, 2008

Uliche Thalipeeth

Thalipeeth made with guess what?



This time roasted on a frying pan Follow the recipe exactly as given here Thalipeeth Just Zakas !

Hold on why am I posting it again?

This time its the spring onions that replaced the red onions in this traditional recipe. It imparts a heightened fresh taste. I used 2 tender spring onion or shallots as they are called. In Marathi is it called patticha kanda and in Koli it is called Ul.


Since I made the Thalipeeth in a wok last time some had asked if it could be made on a gridle or frying pan. So this time I made it in a frying pan and since it was flat allowed to be roasted on both sides unlike the wok version which gets roasted only on one side.

Yes and yet another combination to serve thalipeeth with curd.

Update:
Bee tells us that spring onions are called scallion and the small red, Madras onions are called shallots. Wiki too elaborates on this confusion. Colloquially though the term scallions and shallots are used interchangeably. Infact not just Madras onion any red onion is called shallot. After this enlightenment I guess I won't mind one of my fave cooks, Kylie Kwong call red onions, shallots.

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