Friday, July 30, 2010

Shev Kurmure and Lassi

Shev Kurmure and Lassi

When I was a kid many evenings me and my neighbor in Fort, Preeti would spend time together in her balcony. Her mother, Kaki used to supply us with eatables. Mumra - sev or Shev Kurmure was a timepass snack. One day I was just chilling out and had no particular plan for the weekend when I made this Shev Kurmure and Lassi.

I remember we used eat one grain at a time to make it last long and one of the things we did was poke each grain of puffed rice with 1 grain of shev ! What a timepass...Any one looking for killing time can try it.

For Lassi take 1 cup thick curd in a glass add sugar or substitute as much as you permit yourself. Beat it with a hand blender once for 2 mins. Then add as much water as you want, depending on thickness of your choice. Beat it again for another 2 mins. Serve chilled or add ice cubes on top.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Slice Of Mawa Cake


I complete a set of decades today. My life has been an upward journey materialistically and spiritually. I have enjoyed some of it. I have given myself selflessly to the people I love and care for, some were able to handle it some were not. I rarely regret the way I have led my life. Yet wish I could change a few things.

I wish I had been more greedy.
I wish If not a bimbo I was a dumbo.
I wish I was selfish.
I wish I knew how to live off my family.

No, I thank GOD I am not what I wish for. I am not miserable and therefore I think I am happy.

Just one wish I had planned that I will fulfill it by the time I complete this milestone has not been possible. Give me a year and may be I will share it here.

Yes but what I can share with you right now is a slice of Mawa Cake. Take a bite.

You want the recipe too?

Ingredients

1.5 cups All purpose flour
1/2 tin sweet condensed milk
100 gms unsweetened Mawa
1/4 cup oil
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup of sugar or more
some milk to adjust the thickness of the batter

In a large bowl sieve the all purpose flour. Crumble the Mawa with your hand and mix with the flour. Now add the oil. Mix well with a spatula. Then stir in slowly the condensed milk, cardamom, salt and sugar till it dissolves. Finally dissolve the baking powder in about a tablespoon of milk and stir in carefully into the batter. Now fold the batter to smoothness. Lift the batter with the spatula and if it falls in folds then it can be poured into the tin else thin it out to make it foldable with more milk. Use a tablespoon at a time. You don't want very thin batter. Grease the loaf tin and dust it with dry flour. Tap dual coated tin over the sink to remove excess flour. Pour the batter into the tin slowly and spread it evenly.

Bake it in a preheated oven at 185 deg celsius for 10 mins till golden and the next 20 mins covered lightly with a tin foil. Make sure the crumb is dried out and this you check by inserting a knife into it. If it comes out clean, it's time to remove the cake tin. Let it cool for 10 mins then unmould it on a platter. Slice it when completely cool.

The Mawa cake has a crumbly texture as opposed to a spongy one that's characteristic of cakes. This is a tribute to my childhood's Irani bakeries of Mumbai, the one that was at the entrance of 1st Koli lane in Colaba, Yazdani and one in Bazargate, Fort. Till Monginis showed up on the cake scene in Mumbai all my birthday cakes were from these bakeries. Mawa cakes are mostly made as cup cakes only some sell as slices.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Friday & A Meeting Over Eating

Friday was a very busy day for me at work, an eventful one. The day began with my driver complaining to me that his id card had expired and the security guy asked him to get his passport as identity proof! I mocked at him, "It must be passport sized photo. Is the company sending you on an onsite assignment?" I asked. It turned out that I need to mock the security heads who came up with this super idea of asking for a driver's passport. I asked at the gate, "Isn't police verification enough?" Thank God they agreed. I flicked the renewal forms from the gaurd's hands and rushed to a different office where I had to reach in time for a session of influencing the top management about some org wide decisions.

On the way called up another meeting organizer and pushed back a virtual training session I was doing by 30 mins so that I could run from one campus to the other and also get a bio-break! I just knew there was going to be a spill over from the first one. Then as I was about to finish the livemeeting the reminder popped on my screen and the entire batch of participants knew I was going to Papa John's for a Pizza lunch. Thankfully it also said Team meeting over lunch! Else I'm sure most of the voyeur minds would have jumped to a conclusion. Well the first push back caused a cascade and I had to call up and inform my friend Shrinidhi who was giving us this treat that I was running late. 

Actually I had told him in the morning itself that I'd be late and had promised I'll take center stage on reaching the venue ;). Having worked together for a few years now, he agreed because he knows I mean it, nodding his head said, "Then you come late." LOL.

When I reached they were almost through with lunch and some business discussion. I refused to talk on work immediately so we got talking about some interesting things outside of work. While I enjoyed the thin crust Veggie Barbecue (Fresh Mushroom , Red onion , Golden Corn with Delicious Barbecue Sauce drizzled on top). We hit on the topic of 3 idiots and Boman Irani. I am a big fan of this man. 

The hushed whispers that went around in Parsee circles in Mumbai are that  Boman Irani is a international class photographer and his talent as a photographer was suppressed by Alyque Padamsee but he did make him an actor on Shaimak Davar's recommendation. All this at the age of 34 and he  still keeps surprising us with his multi faceted talent.

This video is for the SM Theme Team. Didn't I tell you Boman is a Rockstar!

 
It got the audience including all the big stars there cheering and singing along. Even our best singers are rarely able to engage the audience this way.

Don't miss the 3 idiots screening on Sony at 8pm on the Sunday Superhits.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Anjeer Bhat


In Marathi homes in the olden days the special treat would many times be sakhar bhat or Kesari bhat or NaraLi bhat. This Anjeer Bhat is a variation I have tried. It has subtle flavours and I have used the whole garam masala spices that makes it really delectable.

The bhat can be eaten warm as well as cold. The Anjeer lends itself well for this rice with luscious pieces that you will find in mouthful morsels and its seed gives you the crunch. Some time ago I made this for Dad using some cooked rice as he was craving for something sweet.

Ingredients

2 cups cooked rice
4-5 dried figs quartered
1 tablespoon almond slivers
1 bayleaf
4-5 cloves
2-3 cardamoms
1 black cardamom
1 tablespoon ghee
1/2 cup sugar

Put sugar in a suacepan and add 2 tablespoons of water. Let it boil and form a sticky syrup. Add the Anjeer/ dried figs to the syrup while hot and let it cool a bit.

Meanwhile heat a kadhai. Melt ghee. One by one add bay leaf, cloves and the two types of cardamoms. Fry till fragrant. Add the cooked rice. Mix well to coat the rice with fragrant ghee and spices. Then add the syrup and mix while still on heat. Mix gently. My syrup was a little runny and made the rice a little soft as I stirred it in. Finally dress it up with almond slivers. Serve it warm.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Beetroot Yogurt

Did you think it was ice cream?
Some vegetables bring with them a rigidity. They can be cooked only in a certain way. When I am challenged I insist on breaking that rigidity but not today. Beets for me can become beetroot bhaaji in south indian style, cutlets reminiscent of Mangalore and koshimbir.

This koshimbir is rather simple but very colorful. It can brighten up the plain pulav just by sitting on the side. 

Ingredients
1 beetroot boiled, peeled and cut
1 cup yogurt

Mix and serve.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Phanas Ambode


Last couple of weekends I am cooking Konkan style food. Remember my friend Mridula she is a konkani and when ever I make anything Konkani I recollect all the gossiping we did in the office bus. Her stunts of opening a box of very strong smelling jackfruit appe in the bus and trying to stuff my mouth with it. Promise I was embarassed to the bone.

It was on one of those days after our driving classes, we hopped on to the office bus. During that one month we would start from home at 6.30 am attend driving classes, have a shared cup of coffee and then take the bus to work. It was too early for breakfast so we would reach office and have breakfast together and go our ways to our desks. We were quite inseparable before and after work and in the bus. I credit Mridula for it. I am not the kind who becomes very close instantly. I take time, but Mridula was different she became very close to me. I found it surprising. Now after she has found a great friend in her husband yours truly is rarely remembered! Yet am happy for her. 

So this weekend when I was enjoying some luscious jackfruit flesh I smiled and put away just 2 pieces for another day with plans to recreate the smelly stuff that got our fellow bus men and women sniffing and me all crimson. You cannot hide the jackfruit smell. There is proof.

Jackfruit is the mutilated copy of the original word Chakka in Malayalam. In Marathi it is Phanas.

Ingredients

2 pieces jackfruit flesh
3/4 cup Semolina
1 tablespoon jaggery
handful cilantro
a big pinch of salt
Oil or ghee for frying

Puree the jackfruit fesh in a chutney jar along with jaggery. Remove puree in a bowl. Mix in the semolina, salt and cilantro. Mix well with hand to even out lumps if any. You should be able to drop small balls of the batter into hot oil or ghee for frying. If needed add more semolina or a just a bit of water to adjust the consistency. It is important that the batter is not very thin else the rava will bubble up in the frying medium and will not hold the lump together.

Heat the Oil or ghee then reduce it to medium heat. Drop little balls into it and fry till caramelized. Enjoy the Phanas Ambode.

Alternatively you can also make appe in the appe pan.

The smell will attract one and all. They guess it right too. I told you, it's not possible to hide a jackfruit.

Well I also like people who are like a jackfruit, spiky on the outside and luscious on the inside :) I think I'm like that ;) I also wish at times I was born in Chakka land, my choice would be Allepey.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Steamed Gajar Koshimbir

Sindhi Koki with Steamed Gajar Koshimbir and Mango pickle

I love this Koshimbir, you may call it raita. Whatever! it tastes good and makes you feel equally good about eating healthy and in the end that's what matters right? When it's a light lunch we eat it plenty just like a bhaaji. When in a thali it is served, a spoonful. Who said a koshimbir cannot elevate to a higher position when it is so good. On this day that's what we did. You might have your favorite koshimbirs but I bet you will include this one instantly to that list, once you taste it.

So hereis what you got to do.

Ingredients  

4 medium carrots
1 cup curd
salt and sugar to taste
1 green chili
handful of cilantro
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon asafoetida
1 teaspoon oil

Shave the carrots clean, wash and then grate them. In a small box pack the grated carrot and steam. Do not add any water to the carrots. This steaming can be done along with other things in a pressure cooker like when you are cooking dal and rice.

After steaming let the cooker cool. Remove the steamed carrot box and keep aside.

Heat oil in a smal kadhai or handi. Splutter mustard seeds, add the asafoetida, green chopped chili and cilantro in that order. Add the salt and sugar. Mix well then cream it up along with curd. Putting in your little finger, check if it is good. You will agree with me instantly, it is. Serve it with a choice of parathas, we had ours with Sindhi Koki . A guilt free meal.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Mangana


Mangana is chana dal kheer with coconut milk. It was the first time ever I had heard this name at Valaval.
We make Chana dal puran but this was new to me. The coconut milk lends it a very delicate flavor and how it brings out the savoriness in a Sol Kadhi and the mellow sweetness in a Mangana is amazing.

Ingredients

1 cup Chana dal
Milk of 1 coconut
1/2 cup jaggery
1 tablespoon ghee
4-5 cardamom pods
1/8 cup cashews and raisins

Put the chana dal in a small pressure cooker. Wash it several times. Cover the dal with enough water, I used about 2.5 glasses and keep on heat for cooking. Allow 4-5 whistles. It should make the dal a mush.Put of the heat. After letting the cooker cool open the cooker. Mash the dal with the back of the spoon. It is ok to leave some dal whole. This rough mashing gives the kheer the desired texture.

Now heat a deep vessel. To it add the ghee. Add the dal and give it a stir. Add the jaggery and keep stirring till the jaggery is cooked. Take care the raw smell of the jaggery does not remain. Once that is done fry the nuts and raisin in very little ghee and add to vessel of chal dal and jaggery. Put of the heat and mix in coconut milk. Mix well when still warm. One should not add coconut milk when on heat. It might curdle. Lastly add the cardamon powder made by peeling the cardamom pods and crushing the seeds.

Serve warm. Enjoy the very rustic Malvani kheer.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Sol Kadhi


Sol Kadhi, gets it's name from the Kokum used to sour the coconut milk. Kokum is called Sol in the coastal regions of Maharashtra and Goa and a little upto Mangalore. Kokum is a tropical fruit which looks like a plum and the botanical name is Garcinia Indica.

It's a simple kadhi, very good for the appetite and balances the juices in the tummy when they are going haywire. It's even simpler to make when you have the coconut milk ready. The garnish just covers the whole kadhi green but ideally I would love to do the sol kadhi without the garnish as I hate all that garnish coming in the mouth making sol kadhi less sippable. But then if you don't garnish one might get fooled by the baby pink color and sip it like strawberry milkshake.

Sol kadhi is never to be confused due to the color. This curry is very subtle in taste and absolutely refreshing. Most people do not give it a tadka. However in home cooking I have seen both my Malvani SIL and Ghadigaonkar Tai, a Malvani to the core do a tadka. So that's the way I make it. However I have never seen hotels make a tadka. May be it is a shortcut they devised.

I have seen traditional home cooks use Kokum extract or what is called Agal. This extract is unsweetened and is stored for the year and used in cooking. Whereas I used Kokum sarbat  this time which is Kokum and sugar concentrate. The Agal is always stronger in taste and thinner. Whereas the Kokum sarbat is thick and milder, it is pale too. So when you use Agal use less and Sarbat you will need more. The taste of the sourness is balanced with jaggery when using Agal whereas additional sweetner is not required when using Kokum sarbat.

I have exhausted my stock of Agal but did have Kokum sarbat from Mangalore gifted to me by my dear friend Deepa. So I used that instead.

Ingredients

4 tablespoons Kokum sarbat (juice)
OR
2 tablespoon of Kokum extract (agal)
+ 1 small piece jaggery

Coconut milk of 1 coconut
1 green chili
handful of cilantro
few curry leaves
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
a pinch of asafoetida
1 teaspoon coconut oil

In a deep vessel make a tadka of smoking coconut oil, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, asafoetida, slit green chili and curry leaves. Add the cilantro to the hot tadka, so that the juices will flow out and will flavour the tadka. Add the kokum sarbat or agal. If you have the coconut milk separate in the thick and thin batches. Then add the thin coconut milk on the tadka in the vessel and warm it up a bit but do not boil. Now pour the thick coconut milk into it and stir to mix. Put off the heat. This dish is never boiled as the sour kokum separates the coconut milk into globules which look unappetizing. 

When using agal add the jaggery after the tadka and let it melt on heat then follow in by the coconut milk and put off heat.

Enjoy the Sol kadhi like a soup before the meal or drink along the meal or like the traditional way make it your main curry. That's what I did, see.

Friday, July 16, 2010

A Simple Malvani/ Gomantak Thali


And A Flashback To Valaval

It was the year 2001-02. I had this habit of writing my day's happening through mail to P. We would chat everyday for atleast an hour, 10 pm was when both of us would be online. I would have had my dinner and he would have lunch after talking to me. Most times the conversation would start with a "Zevlis?" from him. I would think c'mon everyday why does he have to ask me that! My take was intelligent people don't talk just about food. I was right we never did talk only about food but much more. Yet the conversation would begin on a foodie note. I'd console myself thinking poor guy he is missing Indian food in the US. He'd crib about eating pita bread with bhaaji, he didn't know the art of chapati making then.

Well that was the beginning when I started writing everyday. Sometimes he would wonder if I did not have anyone to talk to :)!  He wondered how I could write such long emails. His replies were most time couple of lines but at times a full page specially when he wanted to explain something to me especially after our tiffs.

Then one time I went with my family to Valaval. On return from the trip I wrote to him every little thing about the trip. I simply loved writing to him. That's when he had commented "Keep writing one day may be you will be a writer". I think this blog too is a result of those words of encouragement, actually he had meant to tease me, I think ;). I know my writing, technically is not super but blogs are meant for people like me. Public does not pay to read what I write and hence forgive the mistakes in the writing.

I do not have that email for reference which I had written to P about Valaval but I will narrate it from memory...

The most favorite dinner I had in Valaval on one of those 3 - 4days consisted of Sol kadhi, bhaat, batatyachya kachrya, bhaji and mangana that too served on a patravali and droN (dried leaf plates and bowl). It was completely different from all the Malvani coconut masala and garam masala dishes I knew. It was pretty light on the tummy too.

In the posts that follow I will share the recipes of Sol Kadhi and Mangana. These are two dishes based on coconut milk but completely different in character. One savory, the other sweet. Both are fantastic.
Sol Kadhi, Batatyachya Kachrya, Mangana and Moogache bhajji


Note: 
Malvani - means from the coastal region of Malvan, Maharashtra.
Gomantak - refers to origins in Goa.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

NaraLi Pak


When I was in the 9th standard my Mom moved to Thal. I thought it was her turn to stay in the village. My other two Aunts came to stay in Mumbai. In joint families this is very common. Children are taken care by elders and it did not matter whose child it was. Most times all children got equal attention from the elders.

I however felt my Mom and Dad deserved a little more attention from me because they were the ones with more responsibilities. Especially when Mom went back to Thal she started attending all the festivals and celebrations hosted by our community or relatives. She enjoyed very much being part of the Vata pournima and going to the Banyan tree for worship along with a group of women. The 3 day celebration of Ram Navami in the temple saw her resume her bhajan singing in public. She loved to get decked up for HoLi and Dev puja annually. So her need was to have a pretty cover for a pooja thali. 

As you are aware the Pooja thali is always covered so that no one eyes the wonderful naivedya of sweets and fruits greedily before it is offered to God. I made this large napkin by hand hemming the edges and decorating it with a simple embroidery. My Mom loved it a lot and when some one enquired she would tell them proudly my daughter made it! She used it for many poojas. Then after a long time after she passed away I was browsing through her stuff I found this napkin. It showed signs of weathering and the cloth had become soft with use. I picked it up and held it to my lips. It was something my Mom had used so kept it with me as her memory. I have many of her personal stuff, small little things that I kept for myself  while I gave away her sarees to relatives. I lost most of her jewelry in the burglary that we had in Ramurthy nagar rented place. But I still have the green bangles she wore, her sign of being "Akhanda Saubhagyawati" an eternally lucky women though here it refers mainly to staying married till death did her apart from my Dad.

She always came to Mumbai to see me loaded with home made NaraLi Pak and Badam Pak made by Anya from Thal.

It is Mom's anniversary today and have scheduled this post for publishing at the exact time she left me. 

"May your soul be happy and peaceful wherever you are! I do not mean to pull the strings from the past but want you to be free. Yet I remember you for you were my Mother, my Aai in the past :D"
 So on this day presenting to my readers her recipe of coconut burfi which is called NaraLi Pak in Thal. 

Ingredients

2 cups fresh grated coconut (only white flesh)
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup milk
3-4 cardamoms
2 teaspoons ghee to coat the plate

Combine all the coconut, sugar and milk together and put in a heavy bottom pan. Keep it on heat and keep stirring with wooden spatula. Maintain medium heat. Let it boil while you stir. It will start thickening. Keep moving the spatula. Drop one grain of the mix on a plate and if it dries quick and solidifies, it is time to remove the mixture from the heat. Peel and separate the cardamom seeds. Keep the peels for flavoring tea. The seeds must be crushed and added to the thickened coconut sugar mix. 

Grease a plate with ghee and spread the thickened mix of coconut and sugar on it. Let it cool. When it is semi solid. Score it and make shapes of choice. I made small 1X1 inch squares. Once completely cooled and set. Run the knife through the scores and cut out the pieces. You can store this NaraLi Pak for a month in an airtight container. In the fridge it can last you longer. When Mom made it, it lasted us only 2 days no matter what quantity. Now I think these 35 pieces that I made will last me long enough to be handed out to the visitors I get not so often nowadays.




Saturday, July 10, 2010

Naturo: Real Fruit to surprise you!

Naturo Is a brand that stands for a new taste and fresh ways of preserving fruits. It  is dried in controlled atmosphere. There are two varieties with sugar and without sugar. I have tried these
  • Strawberry bar - no added sugar
  • Jackfruit chips - dried, no added sugar : I adore these the most!
  • Mango Candied Fruit

Loved all three. I am not paid to recommend but I must say I am a fan!

Must Thank Dheer Uncle for introducing this brand to us almost a couple of years ago however  now the products are more visible in the supermarkets so writting about it here.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Tzatziki, Ek Greek Koshimbir

Tzatziki is served as dip with almost anything Greek. I guess there is a recipe of curd and cucumber wherever cucumbers are grown. This Koshimbir is unique because the cucumbers are pureed along with herbs and topped with olive oil.

I did not know until I made this a whole meal that it is traditional to serve fresh triangles of bread along with Tzatziki! Mad angles can be used for snack time.


This bowl is a memento from Khushi for making it to her naming ceremony. Thank you Rashmi for inviting!

It is the first time I made something in large quantities so that we could enjoy it for longer time.

Ingredients

2 cups Hung curd
1 cucumber
1 handful Mint leaves/ Dill leaves
2 green chilies
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon Olive oil
salt to taste

Prepare the hung curd by tying one liter of thick curd in a muslin cloth. You will get 2 cups of thick creamy hung curd after 3 hrs.

In a chutney grinder puree the cucumber with mint leaves or dill leaves, green chili, garlic and salt to taste. I don't like dill so I used Mint instead.

In a large bowl remove the hung curd. Mix it with a wooden spatula to make it lump free. Pour the pureed cucumber on to it. Mix well. Drizzle Olive oil over it.

Tzatziki is a dip so goes with roasted veggies or if you are a meat eater with roasts. I served it with toasted bread triangles. This was a simple meal in itself for us when we thought we had feasted too much on the days prior to this. Consensus deliciously finger licking!

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