Monday, June 25, 2012

Mango Custard Tart

Has the Mango season gone? If shaken from sleep I would ask; may be my family thought that. Yeah I have eaten that many Mangoes, the Hapoos kind only! Full paisa vasool and like starved people we got back to Hapoos with a vengeance. It was almost like we were back from Hapoos exile, back to Mumbai and as much Hapoos as we want.

So I never really had time to make anything with Mangoes. Who cooks with Hapoos? It has too be bitten into and licked to the core or pulped with hand, no destruction in blender please. At the most it can be cubed for more civil consumption.

Just recently I started following a blog that has the essence of Bangalore though the author lives in Mumbai. Note to self: Am I missing Banglore already? Anushruti got me with that farewell to mango season song, I echoed it instantly. This recipe suited best my criteria of not cooking a fruit so revered. Thanks to her for this inspiration to make a crowd pleasing Tart.

I used her recipe for the Tart shell but I used ghee instead of butter. The custard recipe from the packet of Crown Custard powder and then gave it my spin. Trying to impress people at home with some artistry huh!


For the Tart shell

1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup ghee
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp lime juice
5 to 6 tbsp icy cold water

Mix both the flours together in a bowl. Rub in the ghee and sugar till crumbly.

Sprinkle the lime juice and the water and knead into a ball.

Chill for about 30 minutes in the fridge, the ball wrapped in cling film.

Roll out the dough to 1/8 inch thick. With the recipe it was exact dough for the 7 inch Tart pan that I used!

Prick with a fork all over and bake in a preheated oven at about 180 deg C for about 25 minutes or till it leaves the edges of the pan and looks like a golden lace.

Allow to cool completely.

For the Mango Pulp

Wash, peel and pulp a ripe Hapoos Mango. It must be only Hapoos! Yes I am a Hapoos fanatic, accepted.

For the Custard
Follow the recipe on the Custard Powder Pack. I used Vanilla flavor Crown brand.

2 heaped tablespoons in 1/4 litre milk is the proportion that I used. Cook as per instructions and let it cool for 10 mins.

Then pour the custard into the Tart shell. Let it settle and level into the shell.

For the Marble Effect Design

Spoon the Hapoos pulp. Just one spoon for one blotch, onto the custard. Run a knife and swirl around merrily. Feel proud like a great artist, an abstract one. Only you know how easy that was while you let everyone Ooh! Ah!

Leave it to Chill in the fridge for as long as you want. We did not have patience, it chilled for an hour until dinner got made and out it came to please the crowd.

Wipe your drool, pick up that napkin...

Friday, June 22, 2012

A Different Take

What do you think this is? Rosogullas floating in? If you are a bong you haven't seen anything like it or may be you have. Tell me that you have, after reading about my twist to Instant Rasmalai.

My friend Gauri brought me some Nolen Gur, the one made in small round cups. The first thing I did with it was to pop it in the mouth like a chocolate. The next was this Rasmalai, I dissolved a generous amount of Nolen gur in milk and added the canned Rosogullas to it. I squeezed out the sugar syrup from the canned Rosogulla straight into the Nolen gur infused milk and then dunked them in to regain shape and the sweetness of the flavorful Nolen gur. When I use Nolen gur I don't use any aromatic spices, they are not required, I just let the sublime sweetness rule. Oh! but serve them chilled, won't you?

If you don't have canned Rosogullas, no problem just chill the Nolen gur milk and enjoy it served in a tall glass just like a Frappe`.

Most times with my family I try to adjust, if I am unsuccessful at it then I just step aside. With appliances that you are unhappy with, you have an advantage unlike family. You would not like to dump an appliance when you have spent some moolah on it. I was unhappy since day 1 till this brainwave last week, full 3 years or almost, after I bought it. 

I was planning to buy a sandwich maker. I am back in Mumbai and back to eating bread, the only change is now I eat brown. So sandwiches get made a lot for breakfast, dinner or anytime quick bite. That's when it struck that I can salvage the roti maker and convert it into a sandwich toaster. Yeah but the lovers of 'Kadak' still complain. I am ok with a golden on the outside, hot toasted sandwich, it is still a crunchy bite. Pictures are a proof.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Talod Handwa

Talod is a brand I loved for their Nylon Khaman Dhoklas. Now found this Handwa packet and I was thrilled. It made a instant lunch for 2. 

There is a recipe on the back of the pack. What kind of a food blogger am I, if I had to follow exactly what they say and then put it up over here. So here is what I did.

  1. I used only half of the amount of oil mentioned in the recipe. Both for mixing and for the seasoning.
  2. The mass for the Hadwa was provided with 1 cup of coarse grated bottle gourd.
  3. Instead of pan roasting/ shallow frying with the seasoning. I preferred to use the microwave+grill mode. Microwaved for 5 mins. Then unmoulded on the stand and grilled for 20 mins.

It turned out delicious and filling. Handwa or as I have always known it "Handwo" will soon be tried in my kitchen from scratch yet I know I can depend on Talod on a lazy day.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Growing Cha Paati

In Koli lemongrass is called Cha Paati or Tea blade getting its name from the one big use as a flavoring in the morning nectar. In Marathi it gets the name Gavati Chaha again from the fact that it is a grass and its use in tea. To visiting friends, an offer to share a cup of lemongrass tea always ends up into extended conversations. Many simply love the citrus laced flavor that it imparts. In a cup of tea, it can brighten your day like nothing. The aromatics in it lift the mood. It's antifungal, disinfectant properties does wonders for those treacherous sore throats and coughing bouts. Though in India we use only the blades, the bulb has found a place of pride in oriental cooking especially the soups and the strongest flavor does lie in the lower end of the grass.

This grass was potted by my bro Sumeet. The day he wants to bribe me he promises me a cup of his specially brewed lemongrass tea. Men who were trying to woo me some how found this as a ply after reading this post is my guess. They sweared to make me a cup of lemongrass cha every single morning. If that was the only thing that I looked for in a man I would have been married long time ago. Such is the effect of lemongrass.
Planting and Growing lemongrass is very easy. Like any grass it just proliferates without any effort in the tropics. Lemongrass is native to India and found in many South Asian countries. The best thing is, its a perennial.
    1. S used a large 10 litre pot for planting lemongrass.
    2. Ensure there is a small hole in the bottom of the pot for draining excess water.
    3. Layer the bottom with an inch or two of gravel.
    4. The growing media is planting soil with just a few handfuls of compost.
    5. He had got a bulb of lemon grass that he just stuck into the soil.
    6. Sprinkle water to moisten the soil. Do this every day, about 1/2 litre of water a day is good to keep it lush.
    7. Ensure enough sunlight, more the better.
    8. When the lemongrass grows more that 2 feet tie it up so that the blades don't spread around making the plant look like a weed.
Saee suggested trimming the tips of the blades to get a denser aromatic content.

Harvest :
Clip the ends to use fresh. Once in six months trim about 1 foot length of the tips of the grass.

The grass can be cut into bits and spread on a plastic sheet. Dry in the shade to use later. The good thing is, it retains the aromatic oils on drying and can be used in the same way as fresh lemongrass.

Some uses:
  • Infuse your drinks with lemongrass like I did in MaTha.
  • Make a Kora Cha to jump start your day.
  • Make an ayurvedic disinfectant by crushing lemongrass and sprinkling on your compost.
  • Use it in Oriental cooking to add the special touch of home grown.

The bundled magic

It's the season, I am enjoying my weekend...a mid morning sipper of Kora Cha... a book in hand in my nook in the Green Balcony

    Wednesday, June 13, 2012

    Featherlight Okra

    Remember the Mango boy, the witty Aamir Khan, my friend and colleague, he took us, few friends to dine at the Sarovar Portico in Mahape. There were few things on that buffet menu that were striking yet the crisp fried Bhindi was a class apart. It got a thumbs up from all of us sitting around the best table in the restaurant, the round one ofcourse. 

    The Bhindi made our chatter as crisp as ever, it was after 7 long years I was meeting my buddies. The men all ears for who was upto what and especially the hot babe on the floor. We were part of a huge team and for many it was their first job. I was one of the older people in that team, I'd hated their brashness then. Most times I was low key at work but after moving on to a larger part of the org, I missed all the fun and the people until I caught up with them couple of years ago on Facebook. At the diner, We shamelessly bitched about every one from work and went down memory lane of ragging people, our kiddish fights and name calling; intruding chat logs, ok that one I did not do, it was the guys!

    The original deep fried Okra that we loved

     Photo credit : Nitin Sharma

    We did not realise how quickly it was midnight, the gentleman that Aamir is, he dropped all of us home reminding us that the next day was a Monday.

    Now when I look at my team mates, its a good feeling to know they are doing well in life. Many chose partners from the team itself, they have morphed into such loving caring family people. I got to know they had organized a prayer for Mahesh Shetty, an ever smiling face we lost in the Mangalore plane crash in May 2010. People who value friendships, people who have the ability to give to another when the world restrains from sharing.

    Aamir has to explore a career in stand up comedy besides he is our go to foodie guide. Nitin & Dipti  amaze me with their ability to bind people together which is a rare quality today. Shrijit, is managing his Rock star bro's career so well. Hoping to see you whenever possible, Aamir, Nitin & Dipti, Shrijit, Amol & Sujata. Aakash for speaking to us long distance. It was a lovely evening I spent with you guys. Thank you Aamir!

    Back in my kitchen, I had to recreate a healthier version of that Bhindi. The secret to a featherlight Okra is to slice it thin on the Mandolin and grilling it to perfection in the microwave.

    Follow the steps and I promise you the best crisp Bhindi you have tasted ever, I swear it.


    1/4 kg Okra
    2 teaspoons oil
    Red chili powder

    Wash and pat dry the okra. Cut off the tops and tails. Hold the thick side and slice wafer thin on the mandolin into a largish bowl. Add the oil onto the okra. Mix lightly with your figers to coat the okra with oil. In a single layer spread the sliced okra on the turn table glass itself. Set the oven on microwave + grill mode at 600 power mark. In burst of 3 mins grill the okra for a total of 12 mins. Then remove the turn table onto the counter. Make sure you are placing it on the pot holder, else the hot glass might crack if the counter is cold or it touches water spilt on it. Now sprinkle some red chili powder and salt as per your liking. I needed 2 large pinches of salt and 4 pinches of red chili powder. Mix with a tong and place back the turntable into the oven and grill for another 3 mins.

    Remove into a serving bowl and let it cool a bit before you eat. Serve with dal-rice or chapati and tomato onion koshimbir gives it best company. This makes an awesome starter to go with drinks if you prefer it that way.

    Saturday, June 09, 2012

    Pull Apart Garlic Rolls

    Some pictures are so enticing that you are compelled to try that recipe. Nags, of  Edible Garden
    had got me with those Pull apart rolls. It took me time to actually try it out is all my fault. This recipe is a keeper and I am going to make it repeatedly.

    I am adding this recipe here to the Remake category, that stands for the recipes that I tried from other blogs and that have helped expand my repertoire, and what I did with the recipe. While I referred to Nags recipe, I doubled the measure of ingredients to serve a family of six. Now when I am writing this post I realized Suhaina of My Singapore Kitchen had originally made with the same measures as me. I however used only half the butter as Suhaina. I prefered to slather the garlic butter and sprinkle the cilantro before rolling up, just to give it more air to improve the layered effect with less butter. I get the yeast to bubble up before mixing with the dough as I use active dry yeast, its easier to mix a liquid than dry globules. This enable a homogenous proofing of the dough. To liven up the rolls further I added finely chopped green chilies.

    Thanks to both the cooks they turned out a hit with the family. Even before I could get a picture, 4 pieces were gone. These pictures are not just to tease you, go try them out, listen to me or you will regret.


    For the bread
    3 cups Maida/ White flour
    1 cup water
    1 tablespoon active dry yeast (Blue bird brand)
    1 teaspoon salt
    2 tablespoons sugar
    2 tablespoons Olive oil

    For the Filling

    Garlic Butter
    15 to 20 cloves garlic chopped fine
    25 gms of Amul butter softened

    Mix together in a bowl to use later

    For the sprinkles inside

    1/2 cup chopped cilantro
    4 green chilies chopped fine

    For topping
    2 tablespoons sesame seeds

    Making the dough

    Warm about 1/2 cup of water just about warmer than body temp. Add a teaspoon of sugar and yeast to it. Leave it alone to froth for 10 mins.

    In a large bowl measure out the flour. Add the bubbly yeast. Add rest of the 1/2 cup water. Add the rest of the sugar and salt. Knead untill smooth and lump free. Include oil and knead again for 5 mins. Grease lightly a clean bowl with little oil, place the dough ball in it and leave it to rest until doubled and airy. Under tropical conditions it take anything from 30-45 mins.  

    Then sprinkle some flour on the counter and knead the proofed dough for 5 mins. Divide into four equal parts. Roll into balls and then roll out flat into 4 sheets in an elongate form like a rectangle. Do this one at a time. All sheets should be of the same size.

    Divide the garlic butter, the cilantro and chopped green chilies equally to be used in the 4 sheets.

    Spread the garlic butter. Sprinkle the green chilies and cilantro.This way we need less butter and still get lovely layers.

    Roll up tight and keep aside.

    In this fashion. Roll up all 4 sheets.

    Then place all the rolls parallel to each other horizontally. In case one of them is short roll further to elongate. All four should be same sized. Then cut into 3 inch parts like shown here. I got 20 rolls this way.

    Now cut side up, line the rolls in a baking tray. I used a 9X11 inch tray for this. Cover the tray with a cling film and let them proof for another 1 hr.

    Once the rolls double up they will fill up all the gaps. 

    Brush the doubled rolls with molten butter.

    Lastly top up with sesame seeds.

    Preheat the oven for 10 mins at 180 deg centigrade.

    Bake for 25 mins or a little more till the top is golden.  Pull out of the oven and lay it to cool. 

    No sooner you do that hands will reach out to grab a warm bite into these buttery pillowy  garlic rolls. Four of mine were gone in a swish and had to keep the rest away for a soup and rolls dinner that night.

    Recommending you must try.

    Wednesday, June 06, 2012

    Stuffed Apple Gourd

    Bharwan Tinday or Stuffed Apple Gourd

    Sumeet brought home Tinday or Apple gourd and I was like "What do I do with these?" 

    I have cooked Tinday just once while we were still in Blr. He then suggested the recipe of stuffed Tinday. He had tasted it at his friend Sardar Raj's home. It was made by Raj's Mom. I was daunted by that reference, obviously. How could I match a senior Sardarni's cooking skills, these women are awesome cooks. Plus stuffed Tinday is home turf for them as this vegetable is used abundantly by the people of Punjab.

    Now I was challenged by my bro. Based on what I knew, what goes into stuffing Karelas in Punjabi households I decided to use the same stuffing with some additional aromatic spices. Tinday or Apple gourd look like green tomatoes but are as bland as gourds can be. Yet these absorb a lot more flavour from the spices turning this recipe with a gourd into just something you may want to call a favorite.

    Take a look at what I did with the Tinday and tell me if it is Punjabi enough. Sumeet did like it a lot but avoided comparing my attempt with the Sardarni. Yeah many studies say younger siblings are diplomats ;)

    Well I liked it too and this is going to be made quite often now on.


    1 kg Apple gourd/ Tinday / Dhemshe
    1/4 teaspoon asafoetida
    2 tablespoon oil to fry

    For the stuffing

    2 onions sliced thin
    2 teaspoon coriander powder
    1 teaspoon cumin powder
    1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
    1 teaspoon red chili powder
    1 teaspoon dried mango powder
    1/2 teaspoon sauf / fennel powder
    1/2 teaspoon dried ginger powder / sonth
    1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
    salt to taste

    First the prep, Wash the Tinday and pat dry.

    Slice off the tops with the stem intact. Keep aside, we will use these to decorate the final dish.

    Peel the skins and with a spoon scoop out the centers. Save the centre flesh.

    Now lets prepare the masala. In a bowl add the thinly sliced onions, the chopped cilantro and all the lovely spice powders and salt. Mix gently.

    Chop up the scooped out center flesh that we saved above and mix into the masala. Fill the wells in the gourd with the masala. Pack more masala in by pressing down with your thumb.

    Now in a shallow frying pan arrange the Tinday. Drizzle the oil between the gourds. Cover and cook for 10 mins. Then if you have extra stuffing left sprinkle it over the gourds and add a cup of water around the gourds. Cover and cook till tender, about 15 mins.

    Once cooked remove the Tinday onto a platter and decorate them with the caps that we saved in the beginning. The family would want to grab the Stuffed Apple gourd as soon as it is served at the table.

    Sunday, June 03, 2012

    Growing Methi

    In Thal my Koli people are very fond of Methi or Fenugreek. They love it as a herb and even in their sweet, can't believe it read about it on Methiche Ladu! This influenced my likings a lot too. For me Barik Methi or Young methi is always associated with Thal, we would get those tiny herb bundles from only the village if someone was visiting us. It made a rare appearance in the Fort Market if the farmers from Vasai brought it to sell. It is considered quite exotic as it is not easily available. This herb is very delicate and has almost no shelf life. It is best used in half a day of harvesting. My father like a true Thal born Koli loves barik methi and I started growing it just for him. Growing methi is very easy. The real challenge is harvesting it and cleaning it before cooking.

    In my post on the beloved Barik Methi Moog Dal of Kolis from Thal I had talked about how my grand aunt grew methi. Though I follow almost the same steps I grow it on a semi soil medium. This may be useful for urban gardeners like me who have a limited space and resources.

    I grow methi is three stages 
    • Soaking
      1. Measure 1/4 to 1/2 cup methi/ fenugreek seeds.
      2. Add the seeds in a jar and cover with 4-5 inches of water above the seeds.
      3. Soak them in water overnight.
    • Sprouting
      1. Drain the soaked seeds into a basket or mesh.
      2. Let the sprouts come out a few cms.

    • Planting
      1. I use a big planter plate, 12 inches to grown Methi. It is just right in depth for Barik methi, as it will grow only 4-5 inches. When I need to grow big Methi I can use a deep pot or a crate with more growing media.
      2. Ensure there is a small hole in the bottom of the pot for draining excess water.
      3. Layer the bottom with an inch or two of coconut coir or hay. I had collected coconut coir from the coconuts used in my kitchen for the first time. The second time I used  the hay from the crate in which the mangoes were delivered.
      4. Fill up to the brim with planting soil upto 2-3 inch. The total growing media should be approx. 5 inches.
      5. Sprinkle the sprouts over the planting media.
      6. Sprinkle water to moisten the soil. Do this every day.
      7. Cover thinly with dry leaves/ saw dust /  or a wet muslin cloth to protect from birds picking the sprouts.
      8. Ensure enough sunlight, but not direct.
      9. In a week I got 5 inch tall Barik Methi.
    Make sure you are not over watering the plant. This herb requires less water and a growing media with low water retention.

    Harvest : 
    Pluck the methi young and harvest the entire lot for single use if you are making a curry.

    Cleaning for Use:

    Pluck clumps of the methi and tie lightly with a thread. Wash off the soil thoroughly shaking off the grits. Do this 4-5 times to get rid of all the dirt. This cleaning is a very important step if you want to enjoy the pain of labour that you put in growing the methi.

    With 1/4 cup seeds you will get enough harvest for just spiking a curry with methi leaves. I made a Tomatochi Bhaaji and spiked it with Barik methi.

    With 1/2 cup seeds I got enough to make Barik Methi Moog Dal, it serves 4 generously. Felt so happy with the harvest and my recreation of my Aaji's recipe. This was a gift for my fave MJ Kaka last Sunday.
    Some uses:
    • Use for garnishing in salads, it gives nice crunch and a flavor of the robust herb.
    • Use my recipe of Barik Methi Moog Dal or create a recipe of your own and share it here.
    Note: Depending on your weather conditions, the time for soaking, sprouting and growing will vary hence I do not use Day 1, 2, 3 a parameter to monitor my gardening. 

    This is 15 days old Methi (28th Oct 2012)

     1 month old methi

    I can't go to a farm to pick my food as I live in Mumbai so why not bring the farm into the kitchen!

    Saturday, June 02, 2012

    MaTha: It's Summer Time And When The Weather Is Not Fine

    The summers call for many drinks to cool the hot bodies. MaTha or herbed n spiced buttermilk is a sure way of quenching the parched throats.

    It's a much better drink than your sugar laden ones, I need not stress on that. MaTha tastes best when cooled in terracotta pots with the flavor of clay lending a nice aroma but unglazed terracotta is difficult to clean as it is porous so the next best thing are there ceramic tumblers. They don't lend the earthy taste but definitely take you straight into the lush green villages where the cool breeze blows and summer calls for sitting out on hand woven cots to beat the heat while everyone discusses life as it goes by at a snail's pace.

    MaTha is a lovely drink that refreshes you without giving you a sugar high yet the spices and herbs get your blood circulation going. I remember consuming bottles of MaTha when I used to visit Gujarat for work after sweating it out in the summer sun that blinded any one walking the Industrial areas.


    1 cup thick curd


    few leaves of Pudina
    handful of cilantro
    1/4 green chili
    1 small knob of ginger, skin peeled
    couple of blades of Lemon grass (not traditional)
    salt to taste

    Crush to paste using mortar and pestle, all the masala ingredients except lemon grass. Use salt  to get the aromatic oils release faster.

    In a bowl beat the curd well, transfer to a bottle and make it to 1 litre by topping up with filtered water. Slip in the gently bruised lemon grass blades into the bottle. Don't crush lemon grass, the splitters will cause you to choke if you don't filter the liquid. Leave them whole and long so you can just pull out the lemon grass blades just before serving. Chill it for couple of hours.

    Before serving shake the bottle to mix well, remove the lemon grass blade then pour out the MaTha into the tumblers.

    Hand out to thirsty visitors and family members a chilled glass of MaTha and they will bless you for the welcome drink.

    The cool cover that makes our summers bearable, a look outside the window and I feel relief when I am at home and the sun is burning outside in the high skies, while the Gulmohar blazes on the earth...I am drifting into a slumber.

    On Trail