Saturday, December 31, 2016

Vasai Kala Krida Mohotsav 2016


VASAI KALA KRIDA MOHOTSAV was started 26 years ago in 1990 with the aim of increasing the awareness about the arts and sports. Today it has grown into a huge banyan tree from the first sapling that they planted. This year the celebrations started on the 26th Dec'2016 and will conclude today, 31st Dec'2016.

I feel truly honored to be invited to judge the Salad decoration competition even if it meant going to the other end of the city. The venue is the Chimaji Appa Ground for the sports and New English High school opposite the ground for all art and cultural activities.

I was going to Vasai after 2 decades so decided it was good time to catch up with friends. Our friends the Phatak's swished us to their home. It is so serene a village so close to Mumbai that no one wants to move out from there. For all the 30-35 years Phatak was working at Sachivalay with my father he did "up-down" in Mumbai parlance even though it was hard for him to commute. There are many Vasaikars like him. This area is culturally rich and blessed with natural beauty and has proximity to the sea. The denizens of Vasai village are proud of their heritage and have taken good care of it.

 The beautiful surroundings of Phatak's home. 
You see him plucking a magnolia for me. Incredibly sweet!

When I finally went to the venue we got to watch this power packed and invigorating dance, The Dangi Nitrya. It reminded me of my nephew's performance when he was a school boy on this same stage.


After couple of dances we were led to the venue of the Salad decoration competition. Participants started flowing in and started working on their carving and executing the idea. Kavita my friend and business associate was also invited to judge. We read the rules and set parameters accordingly for scoring.




As they worked we chatted them up on what they were creating and if they had prepared a few things and then brought to the venue. A few of them had done it. So we noted that obviously those who created everything from scratch at the venue scored more. A lady had made amazing tasting cooked corn n paneer salad but was not plated properly neither was there creativity in the decoration, so we told her how she needs to work on the decoration skills. There was one participant who made a quinoa salad with basil pesto but the pesto killed the salad. Also while she highlighted quinoa as healthy grain she used dyed desiccated coconut for decoration. The items used in decoration were not included in the tasting salad, that is not how it should be. One girl made colorful flowers in a lake theme which looked very pretty but the raita did not match the beauty in taste. Another had done excellent assembly of the salad but the carving was done at home. So she lost the chance to top the competition. After every event the results were announced and prizes awarded immediately. 





This was the top entry. Everything was done at the venue and the Mexican salsa tasted good too.

A big thank you to Archana Arte for inviting me for this mohotsav. Psst...You must watch her new show on Youtube 'Ruchkar Mejwani With Archana Karwar Special' 6th January onward every Friday!

After the event we decided to check out the Rangoli competition which was outstanding. Here are some of the most fascinating entries.

The most revolting rangoli for vegetarians and animal lovers. It was so real that I took a step back shocked by it. Yet I appreciate the amazing skill of the creator!

I wanted to feel that cloth!

Topical

This entry was totally awe inspiring and my most favorite!

With that signing off for this year on a very foodie note and see you in the new year. Hoping to bring you lots of entertainment through my blog and activities.

Wish you and yours a delicious food filled year ahead!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

On the Sodabottleopnerwala #DadarParsiTrail with Kalyan Karmakar



I hate BKC with its glass facades. I am a Colaba and Fort girl after all but walking into this restaurant I feel totally at home with all its quirky artifacts and notice boards. There are very few well maintained Irani cafes left in Mumbai and these guys are doing a great job of reviving that golden era of the Irani cafes.

Its been long since I've been reading Mohit Balachandran's fascinating blog Chowder Singh and I got to meet him in person last Sunday. He and his team had organized the #DadarParsiTrail with Kalyan of Finelychopped.net. Mohit calls himself the head Masalchi of Sodabottleopnerwala, so he was there to take care of us all through the trail.

We began the day by trying the new breakfast menu introduced at the restaurant. There was a range of egg omelettes that everyone was trying. The Parsi style poro in standard form, the angry poro with notched up heat and the meaty poro with crisp bacon bits. I being a vegetarian opted for the Mawa cake and since Christmas was around the corner we were coaxed to eat some plum cake. The angry poro and the meaty poro was appreciated at the table but the standard one could have been better was what I heard. The plum cake was dry so I requested for an orange juice to swallow it down. They bake inhouse, the paos both naram and kadak were fresh and made everyone happy. 


As we looked around, that is the bar you see in the picture below. The tables in the middle area are surrounded by round backed chairs unlike the Belgian straight back chairs that characterized the Mumbai's Irani cafe's of the yore. Those bentwood chairs meant business, eat and go. You could never really relax in those chairs. Sodabottleopnerwala corrects that.


In all its quirkiness, the black boards and notices the one that inspired Nissim Ezekiel to write a poem adorn the walls.



Oh yes you can buy the bakes over the counter right at the end.


Every corner of the restaurant is packed with quirky artefacts.  After some random clicks. We got out for some pics and a kick-start to the trail that we were there for. Kalyan's book "The Travelling Belly" was unveiled to the group and we wished him success!

Later Kalyan's MIL shared her recipe for Parsi poro since the variety of Pora are the theme in the restaurant's breakfast menu. After which we got on to a mini bus and were driven to Dadar.


Our first stop was at the Cafe Colony, it might confuse people who are not familiar with the geography. The colony it refers to is the Hindu Colony. This cafe is at the end of the Hindu colony road that touches the Tilak bridge. Its an Irani chai place that has its own bakery and also doubles up as a provision store. The non vegetarians had chicken curry and kheema ghotala with lovely large n soft paos. While a few others who like me were vegetarians opted for Irani milky chai and bun maska which was excellent, definitely didn't want to be eating dal and pao. Aga and Mirza the father son duo insisted we taste the mawa cake and everyone agreed unanimously that it was quite good, infact better here.

Next we crossed over to the other side of the road to the Parsi dairy outlet and got to taste the rose lassi, it was mildly rose flavored probably with Kalvert's syrup or was it Rooh Afza? but was lovely. The lassi being a full fat one as is expected of Parsi Dairy farm and its rich tradition had a slight tang and was quite possible to get a mooch if you decided to indulge. The famous milk drops were quickly pocketed by everyone for later. Some people sampled the Kulfi too, I gave it a skip.

Here's me telling my memories of the Mawa ni Boi that made for my cousin's unusual birthday cake every year.

On the way to the Parsi colony and my backyard I narrated the history of Perviz Hall and my family connection to it on Kalyan's request. May be I should do a separate post on it. Unfortunately it was already past 2 pm and it was closed. However I am sure the trail participants got introduced to the place for Parsi tea time snacks and now that they know the location will go back there when they can to buy the goodies.


Our trail culminated at Zinobia Schroff's home for a lunch sponsored by Sodabottleopnerwala. We were welcomed with a ginger lemon squash and happy squeals followed on smelling kavabs being fried. Zee's cooking is healthy and flavorful. I loved the veg Dhansak and pattice served along with fresh kachumber and lagan nu achaar. There was chicken dhansak and chicken kavabs for the non vegetarians. There was ravo in takeaway boxes for dessert, I am not a fan of ravo so carried it home for the husband.

Finally after thanking Mohit and Kalyan for the lovely experience we parted ways laden with take home gifts from the restaurant.

That evening I dipped the Khari in milky ginger tea and enjoyed at home with my husband. The box also had assorted 'pepes' kissme, melody, poppins that delighted the child in me as well as AC. The wrapped plum cake that we returned with was a little more moist and we liked it.

Reminiscing about a day well enjoyed with old blogger buddies and new friends.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

YOUR DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO PARSI PICKLES I and II, DECEMBER 16-17, 2016

 Part I :

With the flick of my finger I picked it up from a tiny single serve jar she had brought it in, and a close look told me it was not an achaar but a chutney. But then Bawas do everything differently. They call it Lagan nu achaar. Their achaars are mostly made with cane sugar and mustard oil or may be a neutral oil in the modern day. If compromised on these, the taste is not the same. For a community that learnt to eat pickles after landing in India, they have created a lovely variety of achaars of their own... Read more

In this part you also get to meet our Queen pickler Zinobia Schroff. Yeah she is on my Eshop.

www.annaparabrahma.com



Part II

In the first part of the series on Parsi pickles, we talked about the history and traditions of pickling in the community. It introduces you to the whole range of Parsi pickles: Gharab nu achaar, Methia nu achaar, Bafenu, Lagan nu achaar or Gajar mewa nu achaar, Kolmi nu achaar, Tarapori patio, Vengna nu achaar etc. Read more



The best news is that all these PICKLES are available only a click away. If you want to cook up a full fledged Parsi meal at home, then you must try our fantastic range of Parsi  MASALAS, dhansak Dhana Jiru , Garam masalas too.


Sunday, December 11, 2016

Fried Herring Roe

Tareli Bhing ni Gharab or Gaboli in Koli


In this past week the fish monger, no not a Koli but a Muslim from UP came to my door. His eyes shinning. I refused to buy and then he animatedly said Bhing ni gharab che! My husband does not eat gharab nu achaar so I asked him if he was interested in the gharab for a fry. He gave a nod, more than him I was excited about cooking with it.


As a kid I have enjoyed many a Gaboli as we Koli call it. It would be boiled or steamed with salt and turmeric. Then sliced up into roundels. Some times it would be fried after slicing. Mostly eaten as a side in a meal with rice and curry or rice roti. Ofcourse the Gaboli is smeared with salt and Koli masala and left to sit for 30 mins before frying.

The Parsis however don't boil it. They directly apply the usual jeeru lasan paste marinate it in the fridge for 30 mins and then fry it. They divide the gharab into chunks and enjoy it with rotli or pao.

What ever you do if you don't want a crumble like mess of the eggs don't cut open the sac when it is raw. Cook and then cut into roundels or chunks. My friend Sayantani who is a true blue  bengali tells me they infact open the sac and clean the eggs to free from membranes mash it and then make fritters out of it.


If you are from the coastal region gharab or gaboli / fish roe would be a delicacy you would have heard of if not tasted it. Yet for those who do not know, it is the ovaries of the fish. The ovary sac contains densely packed tiny eggs. They resemble grainy semolina or are rather like poppy seeds. This one you see here is of the seawater fish Herring in English or Bhing in Gujarati or Pala in Koli. The fresh water Herring is popular in Bengali and North Eastern cuisine as Hilsa or Ilish. In that region the fish is sliced across along with the egg and enjoyed in a curry or as a fry.

In season while the Parsis enjoy it fried, the Bawis are clever to preserve them as pickle to be enjoyed thru the year. The best time for Gharab is during monsoon and a couple of months after. Then its unavailable for the rest of the year. 



In the pic you see a chiffon saree with a Gara border.

When I had shared a snippet of it on FB my schoolmate Aban Setna educated me about it, "This is French embroidery. It probably looks identical on the reverse side. No one does it anymore. Cherish it!"

"These are Petit Point borders and were embroidered separately and had a backing. The backing is attached to the saree, the front side remains pristine. Ladies would make these in their spare time. The smaller the stitches and knots, the smoother and finer the finish. It is a lost art."

Its priceless for me. My MIL died in 2003. She wouldn't have imagined leaving this behind for me but I feel blessed to have received all her things and I cherish it with all my heart.

Friday, December 09, 2016

Pao In the Pudding

Pao in the pudding or Pao nu pudding

So the December day came and went. Thru the day we went around doing our stuff. AC as usual in his grunge style n state. He is very superstitious about personal life and I am the kind who lives life without carrying burdens of the world. So I just let him say things. Finally in the evening he had a bath and announced, "Lets go to Jogger's park". Finally stepping out at 8pm. We chose to take the bike. Rode all the way to find the ticket counter being shuttered. He stood there cursed the guy some. Then finally without consulting me decided to ride upto Juhu. On reaching Juhu hearing no breeze we just decided to go and eat something. It was such a flop evening that he chose to apologize about the impromptu plan. 

My plan was to take him to a fine dine in South Mumbai but he did not want it. So this was our first anniversary non celebration. Yet what we loved is biking around, especially on our way back from Juhu. Riding on Mumbai roads after 10.30 pm is very refreshing for a tired soul. 

I had made this Pao nu pudding the previous night and you know him he easily makes a dinner of it. Ofcourse 4 pao weren't enough so there was Pao no French toast too to fill him up.

Plus I made sheera also on the anniversary morning. I am a stickler at performing duty to a fault. 

This Pao nu pudding or Pudding made with the Mumbai Pao is a Parsi favorite. Parsis like Christians of Mumbai eat a lot of pao and the leftovers get made into pudding or french toast.  If you want to make your own pao, you have my recipe on this blog. It is the first recipe of Mumbai pao on the Internet. Yes believe it or not!

So make the pudding from scratch if you feel like it. On this day I made the pud with store bought pao. Parsis adapted many western especially British recipes to local ingredients and this pao nu pudding is a great example of that. The pudding laced with vanilla essence and elchi - jaiphal (cardamom - nutmeg) is so Parsi but I am a snob so I use homemade Vanilla extract. Yeah that is one thing I am working on my husband moving him from the artificial flavors (Raspberry soda!) and processed foods (packet wet masalas) to more natural choices. Hard to change a Parsi but I will. 

Ingredients

4 nos. pao or bread rolls
2 teaspoons Amul butter
0.5 teaspoon cardamom - nutmeg powder
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
2 eggs 
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups milk

1. Use a square baking dish. Brush it with butter. 
2. Cut the pao horizontally but still should hold together. Open each one like a book. Apply butter to all 4.
3. Now place the pao in the dish. 
4. Pre heat the oven at 180 deg celsius.
5. Now in a mixing bowl break the eggs, add the sugar and milk and beat it up till the sugar dissolves. This is your custard mix.
6. Add into the custard mix the Vanilla extract and cardamom - nutmeg powder and give it a stir.
7. Now gently bathe each pao with the spice and fragrant custard mix. Press down the pao lightly if they float up.
8. Place the baking dish in the oven on the middle rack. Bake for 35-40 mins at 180 degrees Celsius. 
9. The top will be nice brown and will look dry. As it cools it will collapse down a bit. Don't worry it tastes awesome all the way.
10. Cool for 30 mins and serve warm or chill for an hour in the refrigerator minimum and enjoy cold.

Serve each pao in a fancy plate. Enjoy.

Who does not love a good bread butter pudding? and this one is localized by the Parsis and shared here by a Bawa's Koli bairi.

Khaojo peejo, majena rejo! Eat and Drink, be happy!

A dish like that gets polished off in minutes.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

The Lifesaver Tatraveli Kolmi

A Parsi style stir fried prawns



You have read it repeatedly here that my husband eats only a specific menu in a week after which we rotate it. Dhansak - Curry rice - Dhandaar - Veg pulao - Kolmi no Pulao for lunch. Dinner is fried fish - chana ni daar - masoor - eeda no poro. How I feel limited in creativity! 

There is this simple Parsi style stir fry that He loves. It goes perfectly with Dhandaar or rotlis and as an add on in meals, filling in for the non veg component and gets eaten quietly without a murmur. 

Its an express recipe everyone must have in their repertoire so sharing it here for all the friends and readers who asked for it when I posted it on social media.

Ingredients

15 nos. Fresh large prawns, peeled and de-veined.
1/2 to 1 teaspoon Parsi Jeeru lasan masala as per your capacity to handle heat.
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 tablespoon oil
1/4 cup water

Marinate the cleaned prawns in the jeeru lasan masala and turmeric powder for atleast 30 mins in the fridge. Heat oil in a deep pan or concave tava. In the hot oil add the marinated prawns. Cook for 2 mins and then add the 1/4 cup water. Cook till oil separates. Remove if you like it tender after total 5 mins of cooking. 

My husband likes the prawns chewy something he is used to since childhood so I cook for 10 mins before removing from heat.  



Here is Sharmila's rendition of my recipe after I shared it in my network.
It celebrates our friendship and all those warm chats thru the
 #DecadeOfAnnaParabrahma


Parsi Jeeru Lasan Masala

Ingredients

1 whole bulb of garlic
2 teaspoon cumin seeds
10 - 15 Kashmiri red chilies
0.5 teaspoon salt
15 ml Vinegar or juice of half a lime

Grind all the ingredients together on the stone grinder to get a smooth paste. You can achieve the same smoothness with a mortar and pestle.

This paste is used to marinate seafood before frying or using in a curry.

It is used as a tenderizer for meat and poultry too.

Jeeru Lasan is integral to Parsi cooking.





Saturday, November 19, 2016

Vasanu : A Parsi Winter Fudge

We have these tiny saucers which are perfect to portion out Vasanu for a daily dose as long as the cool weather lasts.

My husband, AC is a true blue Parsi and on arrival of Nov which heralds the winter season he starts searching the cupboards for THE LIST and reciepts. The reciepts are from Motilal Masalawala the iconic specialist for ingredients shopping for Vasanu.



The orders are placed for the huge list of ingredients. Discussion are made on the phone with AD a chuddy buddy. It is a yearly ritual that these two Parsi boys have followed for more than 30yrs. They get together to make Vasanu.

Toasting all the ingredients in Chokhu or Shudh ghee  

Vasanu is a fudge made with this humongous list of ingredients. It is based on the principles of Unani and Ayurved. The ingredients that go into it are some warming spices, energy giving nuts and ghee. Our version of Vasanu is made from pure ghee no compromise on that and is rich in proportions of nuts. We like to slice dates into it to give a slight bite. The dominant taste of sonth or dry ginger is so pleasing to the winter affected throat while the slight crunch comes from fried goondar or edible gum.

Making the Chaasni or sugar syrup

Check check, yes its solidifying and setting. I want it scoopable says one, the other wants it cuttable. We stop at scoopable.

It was such fun to watch my husband being so enthusiastic about making Vasanu, for he is someone who does not even know how to boil an egg. On the actual day it was simply adorable to watch both AC and AD bustling around. The banter between them was hilarious and they behaved like school boys kicking each other in jest.

Finally dividing it between the two.

This year AC and me are planning to share with all who want. It tastes better when made in large quantities. So here's presenting Cooper's Vasanu. Tadah!


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