Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Date N Chocolate Cake

I was trying the chef guideline to get a flat cake top by lifting the cake batter on to the sides. But I didn't do it right so you see the depression in the middle even though the cake had risen well.

This Date N Chocolate Cake is really simple to make and is full of nutritious elements. It is also a very soft cake by eggless standards.


1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup drinking chocolate
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 cups thick buttermilk
1 cup sugar
1 cup fine chopped dates
1/4 cup walnuts and pista
1/4 cup ghee/ butter
1/4 teaspoon raspberry essence
2 teaspoons baking powder

I made this cake almost six months ago for a party and was in the draft for a long time. First sieve all the dry item together, all purpose flour, drinking chocolate, cocoa powder and baking powder. Dust the date and nuts in the flour and keep aside.

Beat the ghee till fluffy. Add sugar and buttermilk and beat again till light. Now fold in the sieved flour mix along with essence. Once homogenously mixed add the dates and nuts. Pour the batter in a greased and floured tin. Bake at 180 deg Cel for 25 mins or till the knife comes out clean when pricked.

Cool in the tin for 10 mins then turn it on to a rack.

I had served with Fig Sauce.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Doodhi ~~ Halwa

You see here Doodhi Halwa or Bottle gourd pudding with charoli nuts and a tiny piece of preserved pineapple for decoration

Many moons ago in Mumbai landed a Marwadi. Like all Marwadis he too thought it was the ideal place to earn money real quickly. This story is of the times when Doodhi halwa was considered a sweet associated with fairs and one could buy things for 2 paise. The Man saw a fair going on in Bandra during the Mount Mary festival. He thought of selling Doodhi Halwa at the cheapest that any one can buy. Now Doodhi Halwa is not a cheap sweet. It needs Ghee, Khava, Dudhi, fuel and manpower. Nevertheless he put up a huge hoarding announcing Doodhi Halwa @ 2 paise. Most Mumbaikar look for cheap deals and this was not something they were going to miss.

There was a huge que in front of this shop. As you know Mumbaikar love to line up every where be it Siddhi Vinayak for Darshan or Samant's at Dadar to buy Chakka on a Dasara day, so there they were. Many wondered why this shop was unlike the usual mithaiwala's. This one was a tent closed from all sides and ust one person at a time was allowed to enter. Another thing one noted was no one seemed to be coming out from the entrance. People enquired curiously. The Doorkeeper informed that people did not want to let anyone share the wonderful experience so prefered to leave from behind the tent. Some smarty pants went to the exit. They saw all the people coming out laughing. They thought wow one had to have the special Doodhi Halwa.

When each one entered they saw an empty tent with a huge Doodhi (bottle gourd) hung at the center of the tent with a string and a board written in Marathi, Doodhi Halwa for 2 paise. All people had a great laugh, Yes it was Doodhi Halwa @ 2 paise. Oscillate the Bottle gourd of course in Marathi means Doodhi Halwa! The typical Indians that we are we keep quite when we are fooled so they kept mum while the Marwadi collected the money and went home happy. Yet they had a good laugh at themselves for 2 paise.

This has been a favorite joke when we were small and always remembered when we enjoyed Doodhi Halwa.

So if you don't want to be fooled make your own Doodhi Halwa.


2 cup grated bottle gourd
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup khava/ condensed milk solids
2 tablespoons ghee/ unclarified butter
2 teaspoon charoli nuts or any other

I like my halwas rich always. So here is how we do it. Heat ghee and fry the khava till pink. To this add the sugar and stir till molten. Do not let sugar caramelize. At this point take the grated doodhi that would be watery and squeeze out the water as much as you can. Pack it tight in the measuring cup add this grated Doodhi to the khava sugar mix and keep stirring. When the Doodhi Halwa leaves the sides of the vessel and forms a mass in the center its a signal to put off the heat. This might take 20 mins max. Decorate with charoli nuts for the old world charm or any other nut of your choice.

Doodhi halwa can be enjoyed warm with Vanilla icecream or chilled just a bit on its own. My version is quite gooey if you like it that way.

Also try Jugabandi's microwave version and Suma's lighter version.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Amba Poli

Amba Poli of a different kind

There are forums to fight plagiarism, I scream, you scream and it just ends there. Lately however my sitemeter gives me a good insight into how plagiarism happens. Someone searches on this blog, many times not another blogger. Then the treasure hunter sends the recipe to a blogger requesting to post the recipe with some creativity from the pirate. I say to myself, "Good we are seeing new creations in the blog world" and mind you without a word of acknowledgement. Then my blogger friends will ask for proof to take action. I am sick and tired of the same game. I do not want to waste my precious energy on such things.

This is an appeal to all bloggers incase some one sends you a request to post their own recipe the least a blogger can do is just verify the originality before being party to plagiarism, I like to believe unknowing that is.

You know who you are! Are you running out of ideas?
Anyways sharing here a picture of Amba PoLi, Mango leather a friend sent me. This one is brittle unlike the soft succulent ones that we know of in Mumbai. This is from coastal Karnataka.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Thalipeeth Just Zakas !

We went on a 5 day tour last week covering South /West Karnataka. We enjoyed the typical Southern fare only to return home with a craving for Marathi food. What can be more Marathi than thalipeeth. We returned home in the morning hours so it had to be a filling one as we planned to catch up on sleep post breakfast as we had travelled all night in a bus and we had fatigue.

The good things about Thalipeeth are it is multigrain, high fibre and yummy a perfect power packed breakfast.


1/2 cup of five flours ( rice, wheat, chickpea, finger millet, pearl millet)
2 onions
2-3 green chilies (I used ripe red chilies)
2 handfuls chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
1/2 teaspoon red turmeric powder
1/4 teaspoon asafoetida
2 cups water

Mix all the ingredients and make a soft dough. Take a small wok/ kadhai and oil it generously. Preferably use a non-stick wok. Divide the dough into four parts and line it on the walls of the wok by patting the dough ball with the palm of your hand. Make holes in the thalipeeth to avoid puffing. A good thatlipith has to be crisp so it needs to remain flat. See below

Keep the wok on medium heat, cover and roast the thalipeeth till the inside dries out. Check the inside, if its golden it is done. Remove from the wok and serve hot with coconut chutney. Traditionally thalipth is served with a blob of homemade unclarified butter called LOni in Marathi or Benne in Kannada arrey yaar it's Makhan in Hindi.

One tip to remember thalipth can be served only one at a time. Do not make thalipeeth in batches. It looses taste once cooled. To enjoy it thoroughly it has to be eaten hot.

Also the thalipeeth has to be lined up in a cooled vessel else spreading the dough ball is difficult. Else you can use two woks so by the time one is cooled other one is cooking.

I bet you will comment Thalipeeth Just Zakas !

Happy Childrens day to all the kids as well as the adults for I know all adults wish they could be kids again!

All my kiddos, Pranav, Anushka, Anshika, Nirbhay and Sujal.

Have fun. (@)>--

A Marathi saying for this day:

LahaN_PaN Dega Deva Mungi Sakhare_cha Rava.

Which means: God give me the humility of an ant so that I can enjoy the sweetness in life.

My friend Vinaya tells us thalipeeth is called sthaalpishtashtakam in Sanskrit. I guess sthaal means place-pishta means carbohydrates-shtakam means pancake. Vinaya is the broken sandhi correct? I haven't studied sanskrit but love to play with the words. If I am wrong thank me for a laugh, I know you will.
vinaya said...

hey! a very good try indeed. (A: Thats my friend ). The break was suchsthaala (thaali)+ pishta (peeth /carbs) + ashtakam ( eight verse poem)It was actually a eight verse poem which described how intricate and interesting the process of making a thalipeeth is.. grains are roasted at different heat levels ( some more, some less) how they are ground on a "jaate", and how a lovely thalipeeth is made, which tastes divine with loni. I guess the poet must have been a foodie himself, and just might have a food blog of his/her own in those days.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Cucumber Salad

Diwali celebrations are over and people are complaining of overeating all the sugar rich and fat laden food. This cucumber salad is a perfect antidote for the Diwali mania. We had this salad with boiled corn on the cob.


2 big cucumbers peeled and sliced

1/2 cup shredded cabbage

1 big handful fresh cilantro leaves

1 green chili

3-4 cloves garlic

1 tablespoon Mayo (I used eggless)

1/2 teaspoon sugar

salt to taste.

In a salad bowl put the sliced cucumbers and cabbage to chill for 20 mins this will lend the crunch. Meanwhile in a mortar and pestle coarse crush the cilantro, green chili and garlic. Remove the cucumber bowl add the coarse crushed herbs, sugar, salt and mayo. Mix well to get an even coating. Serve immediately.

This perfectly crunchy salad livened by the spice of green chili, cilantro and garlic accompanied with boiled corn on the cob is just what one would enjoy most post all the festivities.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


Tumha Sarvanna Divalichya Hardik Shubechya !!!

Marathi Divali Faral, Karanji stuffed with dry coconut and pedha mix, Tikhat Shev, Rava Ladu, Patal Pohe Chivda, Gor Papdi (my Guju influence).

A Very Happy Divali to All !!!

These Chiroti are coming your way MJ Kaka in celebration of your spirit to fight the odds and for beating them out. We all wish you and Aruna Kaki will be able to continue with your treks to the Himalaya just like the last 18 years once again.

Love to all my family and friends !!!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Dr. Roopa's Bhuni Arabi

Two weekends ago when Uncle Dheer visited us he took us to meet his old friends. In his usual style he told us this family is special, J.Nath paints South Indian life on his farm in Kodaikanal and his daughter and SIL have lived with the tribals for 10 years. Yet inspite of this introduction I reluctantly agreed to go visit the family that's when I realized over the years I am turning more into a recluse.

J. Nath, The painter and his painting

We were greeted at the door by a young girl, Gayathri. I was told she is the grand daughter of J Nath. As we stepped in the painter himself appeared from a room inside greeting Uncle Dheer in Punjabi. This is Dr. Roopa he said pointing to his daughter. Namastes exchanged and we settled down onto the sofas. We went in to a room where Jayaji, his wife was resting. To my surprise she talked to me in Marathi. After the initial awkwardness there was a change in mood. Roopa was cooking for all of us single handedly, so I went to ask if I could help. I saw she was roasting some besan. While the tomatoes bounced in the boiling water. She was making sabut moong dal with tomatoes, cauliflower and boiled Arabi lay on the side. Curious I asked what the powder was, she enlightened me, besan, dhania, jeera powder.

As I meddled in her way, I got to know that she taught at Rishi Valley School where her kids studied. I was quite curious to know what she taught by now knowing that she was a surgeon and her speciality, Community and Public Health. As we talked I found out that She was from Fort Convent, Mumbai a sister school to my school. I soon discovered I was with a highly evolved family. Deva was not at home that day, I missed a chance. Both Roopa and husband Dr. N. Devadasan served the tribals in the jungles of Gudalur for 10 years until couple of years ago when Roopa decided to focus on her children while Deva continued his research on the tribal health. Read all about these change makers here.

It is such a pleasure to listen to Roopa talk about everything around her and that affects the common man. Even J Nath felt proud of his daughter as he was listening to the discussions we were having, oscillating between health, medicine, alternative medicines, her time with the tribals, spiritualism, music, painting etc. Yes were with them for atleast 6 hours. Dad got up from the sofa twice in an attempt to leave, as he does not like to stay on at any place till the host feels discomfort. Each time J Nath would ask him to stay on longer. Post lunch he got the tea made and served us the famed Ginger biscuits from Kodi. While we enjoyed the hot tea, it was fun to hear a brief on the painter's life from him. He is childlike and a great storyteller. I was watching him as he talked animatedly about life before Mumbai happened and and now the reclusive life he leads along with Jayaji in Kodi.

We talked about many things and some of Roopa's words will ring in my ears for a long time.

On alternative medicine:

"I am trained in allopathy, but having lived with the adivasis and watched and heard alternative medical practitioners, in all these years. I see no conflict in medical rules. I have gone out of the framework and have realized, Who am I to come between the healing process and the sufferer? I would like to be known as a healer rather than a doctor."

On life of the adivasis:

"We the city bred consider ourselves to be civilized but we need to learn from the adivasis their evolved knowledge of survival. We only take from nature but I have never seen an adivasi collect a tuber for a meal without planting an eye back into to the soil."

On the tough choices she has made in life:

"I have been able to hold together."

As we take leave, I hear her telling Uncle Dheer about a new school, she and Deva are starting soon.


At lunch Roopa treated us to a Punjabi meal of Roti, Cauliflower, Bhuni Arabi and Sabut Moong Dal! Cauliflower stir fried in a bit of butter topped with generous amounts of ground pepper and salt. It was nice and crunchy and tasted yummy. The Sabut Moong dal was flavoured with blanched tomatoes and spiced with a dash of red chili powder and turmeric. Rotis served hot off the tava. My favorite was the Bhuni Arabi. Here is the recipe I mentally registered as I watched Roopa cook and after tasting it I had declared to her that it was going to be a post on my blog. You will agree with me that Dr. Roopa is a fabulous cook but a even more a highly evolved human being just like the rest of her family.


1/4 kg Arabi/ Colocasia tubers

2 tablespoon chickpea flour

1 teaspoon corriander powder

1 teaspoon cumin powder

1/2 teaspoon red chili powder

1-2 teaspoon dry mango/ amchoor powder

1 tablespoon oil

salt to taste

Boil and peel the arabi, keep aside to cool in a plate. Meanwhile in a wok dry roast the chickpea flour till it gives an aroma. Add corriander, cumin and red chili powders and roast for another 5 mins. Pour the roasted powder over the arabi. Shake the plate so that the arabi rolls in the flour and it gives an even coat. Now heat the oil and roast the spicy flour coated arabi till brown. I actually missed watching the last step as I was outside in the living room talking with her father. I forgot to ask her about it.

My dedication to this lady whom I have begun to admire and hope to stay in touch with is a healthier version of the same recipe.

Boil the arabi with tamarind and peel. Keep aside to cool in a plate. Meanwhile in a wok dry roast the chickpea flour till it gives an aroma. Add corriander, cumin and red chili powders and roast for another 5 mins. Skip the amchur powder as we have already used tamarind. Pour the roasted powder over the arabi. Shake the plate so that the arabi rolls in the flour and it gives an even coat. Now in a preheated oven broil the spicy flour coated arabi till brown.

This arabi preparation is among the best I have tasted. It can be served as a starter not only that it can be made in advance and hence an ideal recipe for a party.
Updated on 27th Dec 07
The taste of Arabi flavored with amchoor is the taste of rustic Punjab but tamarind converts it into a more southern experience. Use little tamarind so that it is not overwhelming.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Wild Greens, HonegoNe Stir Fry

Name the Wild Greens you see here.

They are runners with green globule like flowers. Probably these are babies. My Sopu/ leafy vegetablewala tells me it is called HonegoNe in Kannada. He knows he has met the right person to teach about new veggies. These are supposed to be good for the eyes. What are they called in English or any other Indian language?

He sold that entire lot in the basket for just Rs.7. These take a lot of time to clean and like all leafy vegetables that demand thorough sorting and cleaning can be cooked only on the weekends. This lot was so fresh that it had an instant pick me up effect on me. My Dad tells me we get them in Mumbai too when the adivasis of Thane and nearby areas visit the city. So they are very cheap but a rare treat.

These greens are new for me so they deserved full respect. So well it had to be a simple stir fry with just a dash of oil.

Here is what I did:


1 lot HonegoNe greens chopped fine
2 big Onions sliced thin
2 green chilies chopped
2 teaspoon oil
salt to taste

Heat a wok and on high add oil and fry the onions till translucent. Add the chopped green chilies and the chopped HonegoNe greens. Stir fry till dry. Add the salt at the end just before putting off the heat. This is important as greens before cooking are voluminous and after cooking shrink to give very little bhaaji and salt required is very little.

We enjoyed this HonegoNe sopu/bhaaji with the famous Belgaum bakri (not a goat but what Marathis call Bhakri) made by an enterprising women's group. So when I'm lazy I know what to do. These Jolad rotis are dry and thin like khakara and last almost a month. Just before eating they have to be warmed over a flame like a papad. The HonegoNe sopu is fragrant and can be enjoyed the best in this simple form.

A glass of spicy butter milk to wash down this dry combo is a must and you might be complimented with a burrrp!

I learnt a little more on Lakshmi's Taste of Mysore.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Quick Fix Chinese Meal

I used to love the Knorr soups though I don't follow the exact measures on the packet. I make the soups thinner than the cover directs as that's how we like our soups. So when Knorr introduced their Chinese ready mixes I had to keep them handy for those times when I am pressed for time. Yes though both of us like to cook at times we like to take a shortcut as much. We tried the Hakka Noodles sauce mix and the Chinese chili. Following the direction is easy. I had to post this review for my brother who loves Chinese food. We made the Chinese chili using baby corn, onion and capsicum. While for the Hakka noodles I used just onions and capsicum. My touch to this ready to make meal was the use of mustard oil, that gave a spicy sharpness to these dishes. The noodles were my usual Ching's.

It is in no way gourmet food but meant to satisfy a gourmet's craving for good food instantly that is the success of this brand. I am also blessed that my Dad quite a gourmet of Indian food does not complain about International cuisines that I try from time to time or such quick fixes.

Here it goes to Click, an event for all good looking things conceptualized by Bee & Jai at Jugalbandi

Friday, November 02, 2007

Extra Terrestrial Specimen

Our friend Gauri Dutt has adopted the bong culture credit to her husband, Shom . Lately her sasural Kolkata has been in news due to the celestial body observed in the area. So when I opened that packet she sent me with her Dad, Uncle Dheer, I exclaimed, "Is this an extra terrestrial specimen. A closer look told me it was a special gift from my fave chikki shop , I had written about earlier, a Maganlal's creation. At Maganlal's they are not just visionary they push themselves to create new delites like these. If you haven' t guessed what it is by now, let me be explicit. It is a chikki, Dud! If you knew that one, tell me what variety is it ? Well it is the black sesame seed chikki. Ain't they innovative! To read all about the benifits of black sesame seeds click here.

When I was on a weight loss program back in 2002. My dietician had prescribed 2 teaspoons of black sesame seed for snacking for my 4 o'clock hunger. She guides Miss India's too so this is a much tried and tested prescription. It helps prevent hairloss during weight reduction, provides fiber and satiates hunger she said. Gosh it reminds me of days when I was the fittest with glowing skin and hair and P showered compliments on me. Can history be repeated?
Update from Gauri: Sesame plants are flowering in the fields and will be ready for harvesting by Dec and then it is time for Sankrant and Tilgul, sesame ladu. This is an example of how the Indian traditions are ruled by the seasons, needs of the body for the season and the spirit of celebrating the harvest. The black ones are with husk and the pale ones are the dehusked ones.

On Trail