Sunday, October 28, 2012

Growing Tomato

This post is a log I will maintain as the days, weeks and months pass... Will publish it afresh every time I update it. Go to the latest update at the end of the post.

Day 1: (Planted in the week of 10th June 2012)  Found a rotten tomato in the fridge. Did not want to throw it in the Daily Dump so squeezed out the seeds in a container that I had kept ready for sowing seeds. The container is a 1 litre milk carton filled with hay 3/4th and 1/4th with planting soil. I forgot about the seeds until after 4-5 days.

Day 4-5: (16th June 2012) Seeds sprouted, couple of inches of sprouts with leaves. I noticed the sprouts today and am thrilled!

Week 3:
The real leaves forming shape now.

8th Sep 2012: @ 3 months

There were four tomato plants that grew strong in a cluster, I accidentally broke one while replanting them. Now there are 3 growing in 3 corners of a wooden crate lined with a plastic bag. The media in the crate is 10 inches hay, topped with 10 inches planting soil and 1 inch compost from my Daily dump. This transplanting was done a month ago and soil went down to sit with the hay quite a bit. The 1 inch compost also acted as mulch for the plant. One FB friend suggested nipping the apex to get more branches and it worked. In a month I think they will need support.

Month 5: 28th Oct 2012

The  tomato plant is about 4ft now. It is flowering since couple of weeks. These are the captures in the last 2-3 weeks. I have added a 3inch layer of compost with the dual aim of feeding nutrients and mulching for a good yield.

I have been nipping the suckers (the branches that spring up in the notches) since a few weeks, so the plants have fewer branches but every week I see fresh flowers.

 Tomato blooms and the hairy stalks

 Wilted flowers and swollen ovaries. I felt such joy seeing the baby bumps :)

 There they are baby Beefstakes!

Will post the pictures of the vine ripened tomatoes once they are ready. Am sure you will be checking here.

The beefstakes ripened on the plant but gave miniature fruit the size of small grapes. When the other plant started flowering I removed the Beefstakes from the crate. Topped 5 kgs soil. It turned out that the other tomato plant was a Roma.

 16th Dec 2012: The Roma are rewarding.

 12 Jan 2013: At peak season 12 tomatoes!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Saat Kapache Ghavane

Kavita young and demure had just married Shailesh and come to live next doors to my Cousin Vijay’s place. When I’d visit Virar and if my SIL was at work this lady would take care of us in her absence. Lovingly she would help my SIL with all the extra work that came with visitors. She had quit her job and in this remote suburb there was not much of an employment opportunity available except as sales staff in shops. This was 10 yrs ago. Later after the birth of her daughter she was completely home bound, without support of family she managed everything herself. She then started a crèche with a few kids coming in for the day. As the trust built with people she started cooking for the kids at an extra cost and their Mom’s did not have to bring them in with food for the entire day, what a relief for those working Moms. Soon requests followed for dinners. She started cooking and distributing Poli –bhaaji.

Finally on 7th July 2009 she got her first big order for a housewarming party, she had to cook up a 20 item menu for 50 people. She did a fabulous job with a helper in tow. Today she has a shop at home from where customers pick up lunch packs of Poli/ Bhakri-bhaaji thru the window. On fasting days, Mondays, Thursday and Saturdays there is Sabudana Khichadi. Other snacks are sold thru out the year too along with the Modaks on Chaturthis and Vinayakis.  Alu Vadis and Kothimbir vadi steamed rolls are available that you can take home slice up, fry and enjoy.

This woman works so hard and supports the family in every way. So here is what we are joining hands at.

This Diwali, Annaparabrahma launches Diwali Faral hampers and we are accepting bulk orders in joint venture with Kavita and her team of home cooks. The team is trained on recipes from Annaparabrahma. The quality is monitored by me, personally. The packaging will be done by my creative cousins. Shailesh, Kavita's husband will help with large scale deliveries and the supplies etc. Watch out for more on this blog in the days to come...

I have always wanted to write about this woman of substance on this blog. So here is a recipe she shares with us…

Saat Kapache Ghavane

This recipe gets its name from the technique used for layering, seven times the ghavane with the coconut filling. Kavita learnt this recipe from her Aai. It is a traditional recipe from Malvan made to welcome a guest at home. Malvan is abundant in paddy and coconut so that is what is available easily to a homecook when a surprise visitor needs a special treat.

The skill of the cook is in folding the layers without tearing the ghavane as they are turned over, certainly not for a novice cook. Selecting the rice for the ghavane to cooking them right is where experience plays an important role.

The griddle used here is a very traditional one called Kahili in Koli


For the Ghavane
1 cup Medium aged rice
Salt to taste
3-4 cups Water

For the coconut filling
½ cup Jaggery
1 Fresh grated coconut
¼  teaspoon nutmeg and cardamom powder

Begin with the Coconut stuffing preparation. This coconut jaggery mix is called Chun is Malvani. In a wok mix in the fresh grated coconut and jaggery, heat it. Keep stirring till it leaves the sides of the wok. It should have the consistency that can be sprinkled on the ghavane. Remove from heat and mix nutmeg and cardamom powder for fragrance.

Making the Ghavane batter. Wash well and soak the medium aged rice in enough water for atleast an hour. We choose medium aged rice as we need a medium sticky rice batter which when cooked will give crisp on the outside and soft on the inside crepes.

After one hour of soaking discard the water. Now put the soaked rice in a blender. Add equal amount of water. Grind to a fine paste. Finally add water to get a watery batter. It should be thinner than dosa batter. The final batter should be about 1litre. Add salt to taste and let is sit for 1 more hour.

Now take a well-seasoned griddle, as I mentioned above we use the Kahili here, oil it well. Heat on high. Pour the thin watery batter into the griddle. Start from outside and move inwards. The first time you make a round crepe or ghavane. Cover and cook for a minute. Remove the cover. Do not brown it. Sprinkle the Chun or the coconut jaggery mix for the stuffing on half the side of the ghavana and turn over.

Now here is where an experienced hand exhibits the skill, leave the folded and stuffed ghavana on the griddle. In the half empty griddle pour batter to get a half moon ghavana. Let it cook for a min. Then sprinkle some more Chun. Now the first folded whole ghavana is turned over on to the new halfmoon ghavana. Now you should have half space empty on the griddle. You are done with three layers. Similarly repeat the steps for 4 more such layers of ghavana and Chun. Ensure you pour just enough batter to get thin crepes and carefully turnover without tearing them. When you are done with the seventh  layer of ghavana fill with Chun and turn over.  Put off the heat. Remove carefully the layered Ghavane onto a serving dish by inserting a spatula under the last layer and holding lightly on top with your palm down so the layers do not topple or tear.

While the ghavane are still warm cut through the layers with a sharp knife into wedges.  Press lightly to make the layers stick as they cool.

A single Saat kapache ghavane serves 3 people generously.

Kavita insisted on making a simple ghavana to go with a chutney and savory Matikichi usal. She said a visitor would be served the entired dish and since it is sweet to offset the sweetness would be a single plain ghavana with the savory. Those are stories from the past, it is known visitors were fed in the manner even when puranpolis were made or a gula cha sheera was made. They would be fed with the dessert in the main and only a small portion of the regular meal to complete the celebration. That is the culture to treat the visitor as God, Atithi Devo Bhava!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Fish Cake

My bro joked, he wanted a Fish cake for his 30th birthday! As a vegetarian kid he would always pick up the Fish shaped mawa barfi from Parsi Dairy. Yes I am talking about the Mawa ni Boi.

I did not have a mould and time was a constraint so I took a short cut. I bought 250 gms of Mawa Barfi from Jhama's in the neighborhood and cut it with a pizza cutter and a knife to shape it like a fish. 

steps here for you to try it

1. Select a barfi covered with Silver varakh/ edible foil. Put the entire sliced slab of Mawa barfi onto a serving plate.
2. With the pizza cutter shape 3/4 of the slab like an eye or Oval. 
3. The 1/4 that forms the tail can be shaped with a sharp knife.
4. Cut a V first for the tail then cut out the sides. Save the cut side for the fins.
5. Cut out triangles for fins and place them on the sides.
6. For the eyes, create tiny grooves and fill them with strawberry crush. The Mawa ni Boi always had red plastic discs for eyes and my bro always wanted to eat them when young, we had to do a magic trick to discard the plastic eyes before he could pop it into his mouth. Hence I used the strawberry crush to make everything edible. 

My bro was thrilled with this fish cake that took him down the memory lane! Any kid would love it, and he even though an adult with his own family is still my kid bro right?

Well the Fish has a symbolic importance for Parsis. You find it on all their religious buildings and so the Mawa ni Boi is gifted for LUCK in that community. Well but for my bro it has always been Fish Cake.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Homemade Mascarpone Served With Kiwi

Tubs of Mascarpone lured me in the mall. I have spent double the amount of money on it than when I made it at home. Plus homemade is pure Mascarpone, no preservatives and absolutely fresh. The thrills of making such stuff at home is inexplicable.

How hard is it to make it at home, you think? As easy a paneer I would say. Only thing here you just stop the heat once the cream just swells a bit. No don't look at me that way, you have to try this in your own kitchen to understand what I am saying.

Let me put it down for those interested in this recipe and directions.


1 litre carton of Amul Fresh Cream, its 25% Fat
2 tablespoon of lime juice

In a double boiler heat the cream to boiling point. Add the lime juice. You will see cream go from a pure white to a off white color and swell slightly due to coagulation. Boil for 2-3 mins with stirring. The coagulation is more like a thickening. The lumping as it happens when making paneer does not happen here. Put off the heat. Let it cool.

Wet a large kerchief or muslin cloth. Take a bowl, place a strainer over it. Place the wet cloth in the sieve. Carefully pour the thickened cream into the cloth. Tie it up like a bag to avoid overflow. Keep the bowl with the strainer in the fridge to drip for 24hrs.

You will get this mass of soft creamy Mascarpone cheese.

Mascarpone cheese goes best with fresh fruits me think! When I made a small batch to test in my kitchen lab I sweetened it with sugar and vanilla extract and served it with Kiwi.

Later made it again for the A Glamorous Heart Cake.

Deeba is an experienced soft cheesemaker besides an awesome baker, she rightly advised me to store the Mascarpone in an airtight container in the chiller of the fridge. I was worried if the cheese would get spoilt since I needed to make it in advance for the cake. She dispelled all my doubts. I had stored away a cup of the extra cheese for a gorgeous dessert that you must come to see here next...

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