Sunday, September 28, 2014

Kokum Chitranna

We love Puliogare, and when you have eaten the best at Melkote you crave for the authentic once in awhile. However everyone keeps telling tamarind is not good for the bones and muscles, especially if you do not want to aggravate arthritis and other inflammatory diseases. Unlike Tamarind, Kokum is safe and has a lot of medicinal properties without any harmful effects.

I wanted to try Kanda Lasun masala in an unusual recipe. Also the Kokum agal was up in my mind just because Nupur found it so irresistable. So here is an original creation from My Kitchen Lab.


4 cups steam cooked Kolam rice
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
handful of curry leaves
1/4 cup lightly crushed shelled peanuts
1/4 cup Kokum agal or home made extract
1 teaspoon of sugar for balancing the sourness (optional)

Heat oil in a wok. Splutter the mustard seeds and curry leaves. Add the shelled crushed peanuts and fry till golden. Fluff up the steam cooked Kolam rice. Add it to the wok. Sprinkle the Kanda lasun masala over it. Mix well. Cover and cook for 5 mins.

Lastly drizzle Kokum agal over the rice. Give it a nice stir with a delicate hand. Ensure you are not breaking the grains of rice. Sprinkle a teaspoon of sugar to balance the sourness of Kokum only if you must. Cover and cook for another 5 mins so the rice gets the faint pink color of Kokum. Switch of the heat and give a single stir.

Enjoy the Kokum Chitranna hot or cold either way it tastes delicious.


1. Strength of agal varies with brand so add tablespoon by tablespoon at a time and check for souring quotient in the rice. Mine is quite a sour agal.

2. We are wimps when it comes to spice, you can hike up the spice level with as much as Kanda lasun masala you want or less. Again same trick add a teaspoon at a time and keep tasting as you mix.

How to make Kokum extract at home:

Soak the required quantity of kokum in boiling hot water and leave it for 30 mins. Squeeze out the extract. Sieve it to remove any fruit skin in the extract. Use as required.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Malvani Vade

Mumbai's immigrants during the textile boom came from Malvan, Kokan. They came to the city in hordes to work in the textile mills. Most mills were located in the Parel, Lalbaug and BhaikhaLa/ Byculla areas. That is where the chawl culture came into being. Pigeon holes for living, cramping groups of 10 men in the kholis. The Malvani workers came to Mumbai as bachelors or left behind their families in the villages if they were married. The Chakarmaani as the workers were known earned meager wages for back breaking work of 12 hours in the mills. At the end of the day making their own meals was a huge task. So women who had accompanied their Chakarmaani to Mumbai came up with an enterprising idea of feeding these workers in their own homes. Thus Parel, Lalbaug and BhaikhaLa saw the mushrooming of Khanavali, simply put places to eat.

The Khanaval was a blessing for the workers, for a small sum paid monthly, they got good home cooked food to sustain them in this city. The women who ran them were loving called Kaku/ Maushi/ Vahini by these men. The atmosphere was homely and men were made to sit in rows on the floor or pangats just like in joint families and served lovingly. There would be a fixed menu each day rotating through the weeks. The workers could request for a certain dish of their liking and depending on the majority vote it would be made for them mostly on Sundays. Oh yes and like any family Sunday meals were special in the Khanaval. The Khanavalwali Kaku would ensure that there was mutton or chicken cooked in onion coconut masala in the traditional Malvani style. These had to be accompanied by a fried bread made from rice and lentils and made aromatic with spices, the Vade. The combo of Kombdi Vade were bliss for the Chakarmaani, after which I am sure he went back to his kholi and had a siesta dreaming about life back home in Malvan and even doing a Pandu Hawaldar sequence with his wife.

Later these same areas saw the rising of little Malvani eateries and Kombi vade became popular beyond the Chakarmaani. People from other communities started patronizing these places too. This combo became so famous that many people who had not tasted it wondered what Kombdi Vade was? Is it a single dish? Are the Vade stuffed with chicken? So let me deconstruct it for you, the Kombdi in the name stands for the chicken gravy which is mopped up with the fried bread or Vade, which is the second part of the name.

Many a times I received requests from readers for a recipe of Malvani Vade and I have taken it a step further to give you a wonderful product from AnnaParaBrahma. So here's to the launch of Malvani Vade peeth!

Procedure :

  1. All you have to do is snip the packet open. 
  2. For 1 cup of Peeth/ Flour add 3/4 cup of boiling water to it.
  3. Knead the dough.
  4. Cover and keep aside for 30 mins.
  5. After this oil your palm and fingers. 
  6. Pinch out lemon sized balls of the dough and make a smooth one.
  7. Pat out the dough ball into a round disc thicker than you would for a puri. You can also use a plastic paper to pat out the vade if you find the dough is sticking to your hands.
  8. Heat oil and on medium heat fry until golden.
  9. Remove and drain on a paper napkin.
Serve the Vade with a chicken curry in the traditional Malvani style or for the vegetarians like me any gravy dish with your favorite veggies. I made Suran bhaaji on this day as a mock chicken curry that works really well with the Vade.

A self respecting Malvani swears by Kombi Vade his Mum makes. Now you can have the same magic in your own hands too. It's on the E-shop check it out. Send me a mail to to buy it now. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Recognition In Femina, page 66, Oct 2014 Issue

This is the cover of the Oct 2014 Issue in which the article 'Life beyond curry' by Kalyan Karmakar of Finelychopped is published. He does a regular feature called Belly crawl in Femina on all things food.

In this article he talks about how the Indian food representation in restaurants across the world and for that matter even in India is so singularly Punjabi.

He has wonderfully explained with references from his own Bengali cuisine how everything Indian is not a curry. Kalyan shares the stories of five bloggers who document their unique regional cuisines and traditions. He spans the Bengali, Parsee, Koli, Assamese and Tamil cuisines in this article highlighting the rich variation across the country.  Along with me are Sandeepa (Bong Mom's cook book) , Nandita (Saffron Trail), Perzen (Bawi Bride) and Gitika (Gitika's Pakghor). 

I got a copy for myself that's going to be treasured. I have been a reader of Femina since teenage and it feels awesome to see my name printed in it along with all the other lovely bloggers.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A special edition of 'Koli yet Veg' class for Nupur

Thanks for a fantastic time Anjali! Your Dad is wonderful n Gauri was superb company. Will write again from the US.
As soon as Nupur went back home she wrote this note to me. A testimonial of the wonderful time we had together.

We have known Nupur for almost 9 years through her blog, One Hot Stove. Her A-Z Maharashtrian cooking series was a hit, it ran from Sep 2005 till Mar 2006. The blogs have bound us through shared stories of our pets, families, hobbies, passions and life. So meeting her was a natural extension of our online friendship.

She was here in India after almost 5yrs to be with family. I feel honored that she planned in advance with me for this class. As I write this she would be on her way back to the US.

She had requested me to do a short version of the class and so we decided on 4 dishes to be taught. I suggested the dishes and she chose the menu from it.

Here is what we cooked ...

1. Valacha Birda
2. Rice Roti
3. Kokum saar
4. Potato onion bhaaji
5. Vali Lasun chutney

What's a meal without...

6. Rice
7. Badampak er Shengdanepak
8. Rice Papad and Mirgund

So these completed the lunch menu but not in the picture.

My architect friend Gauri joined us for the class and her daughter Srishti gave company for lunch.

We talked so much that the time just flew by and before we knew we were saying good byes and farewells. Partings are incomplete without gifts isn't it? So we exchanged food gifts what else do you expect food bloggers to do. Nupur gifted me spicy mango, chipotles and Habanero pepper seeds quite a lovely chili theme in addition to Basil seeds and her favorite oatmeal soap and like a true voracious reader that she is an Agatha Christie. 

My gifts to her, Vaal, rice papads, Badampak er Shengdanepak and my chai masala.

As always people who attend my class always ask for my masalas, Nupur too bought my Koli Masala and can't wait to see what she churns up with it.

Updated : Read here Nupur's post about her experience of this session of the 'Koli yet Veg' class.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Delicious and Healthy that's Soulfull for you!

It was a day of running around and I do it only on the weekends when the driver is available. It aint easy traveling from Navi Mumbai to Kalyan to meet our friend's family who had just lost his father then to Chembur to see my Mothe Baba and Mothi Aai who are homebound and as we were passing by we popped in at another friend's. By the time I was home I was dead tired. These days I do not have much stamina, I realize that I cannot go on like I used to in my younger days. 

My friend had packed some stuffed brinjals for us and all I needed to make is something to go with it. Roti was out of question. Just in time I remembered I had a pouch of Adai mix from Soulfull from the goody bag which we received at IFBM2014.

I had one look at the nutrition panel and felt happy that this was something that fits my criteria of healthy. Here is a link on how to read the Nutrition panel that you may find useful.

Now was the taste test. For me the first thing is smell. I have a sharp sense of it and I do depend on it to tell me if the packaged food is good or bad. I cut open the Adai mix packet and it smelt of fresh toasted dals that reminded me of chutney pudi. I love chutney pudi BTW and this was promising.

I followed the instructions on the package and made the batter. Spreading out the batter on a heated nonstick griddle, drizzled some ghee and cooked it until brown on both sides. It tasted lovely but since the batter is not fermented I did not like much the thick pancake style adai. I am talking texture here.

Instead I thinned down the mix by adding additional amount of water almost 2 cups plus more to an almost buttermilk like consistency. It was the rava dosa that was dancing in my head, I wanted something crisp, lacy and delicious to boot. 

So on a hot non stick girddle I sprinkled little cold water and it sizzled some more as the water drops danced on it. Then with a deft hand I poured the batter quickly to form a nice lacy coat on the griddle. It looked so beautiful, just what I wanted and as it cooked I drizzled some ghee. The dals in the mix and the chili made my taste buds all so ready to taste. It was perfect! 

You could actually eat it without any chutney but we had stuffed brinjal so we ate with it. Unusual combo but tasty and Soulfull nevertheless.

Adai is a traditional breakfast dish but I think its a perfect mini meal when you are hungry anytime of the day. A Soulfull packet makes it an instant meal, cut open, add water and make in 5 mins.

On another day. After my pranayam which I do for 45 mins I was feeling starved. I had no patience to put together a breakfast and I am not a person who can start a day with a glass of milk. I found another tiny pack of Chocofills from Soulfull. I muched on them while I watched my tea boil on the stove almost meditatively. I could not believe that the cover was delicious ragi and it was filled with silky chocolate. Yum, you can give it to kids too.

I know for sure Soulfull has ingredients packed into pouches just like I would do it myself. You know it that I am a person who cooks from scratch and for me to like this brand they surely must be working well on their product.

This is not a paid review. Though the products reviewed here were given complimentary to us at IFBM2014.  I genuinely found them good so had to share it with you. We all like to have some products in our pantry that make our life easy, this is definitely one brand that you can depend on. They have an online shop for your convenient ordering.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Storage and Handling of Dried Fish

Detailing here the procedure for storage of dried fish.

The increasing fascination for exotic foods has led people to try cooking with dried fish. You spend a handsome amount on buying or importing it. However many are not aware about how to store and care for it. So here are some tips.

  1. Always ensure that you are handling dried fish with absolutely dry hands. 
  2. Always measure out quantity of dried fish you need for a recipe and keep back the rest while your hands are still dry.
  3. Ensure that you wrap the dried fish in newspaper.  It helps to keep it dry.
  4. Store in airtight container.
  5. Once in a fortnight zap the dried fish in a microwave for 30secs; 250 gms at a time. Mircowaving helps disinfection and increases shelf life. Always spread it on a tray and do not pile up. Let is cool completely and put it back in the airtight container.

Remember dried fish you buy from AnnaParaBrahma is sundried in natural form. We do not use any preservatives, we do not do sulphurization. Hence as a natural process it undergoes degradation just like any of your pantry staples like grains, pulses, flours, pickles etc. If you take proper care you will enjoy the stock of dried fish for a longer time.

Enjoy the natural goodness!

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

What was the Day 2 like at the #IFBM2014?

 A corner piece at Aloft Cessna Park, Bangalore our venue for IFBM2014

Day 2 Started with raised expectations from the previous day.

From our horrid experience of getting stuck in the Marathahalli traffic for 2hrs the previous night we decided to first reach Aloft Cessna Park and have breakfast at their restaurant, The Nook. The breakfast buffet was really large and varied with Indian as well as continental items. I enjoyed the croissant with my coffee a lot and was all set for a full day like the schedule promised.
I am glad to share that I won a two day bed and breakfast plan at Four Point Sheraton, Vashi for reviewing Aloft Cessna Park in my last post on Day 1 at IFBM2014. Thank you! Starwood Hotels, looking forward to enjoying your hospitality once again.
The day began with a professional guidance session on Search engine optimization (SEO) by Ashish Verma. It was one session that the bloggers totally focused on like they were in a classroom in college. There was lots to learn for everyone, from tools to analytics and tips. Hoping to use them well to market the blog and tune well with my audience.

Following it was a session by Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal on Good food writing. She had structured the contents well and gave some good tips for writing. She pointed out how crucial it is to be able to describe a flavor and that the experience around food is only secondary. Not just that she was the only one of the speakers to hand out notes. Just as we were looking into the brown paper envelops to refer to the notes as she begun; the room was filled with squeals of joy. Rushina had gifted each one of us 4 of her foodles, yes those food doodles that she is famous for. I plan to get them laminated and use them as table-mats and recipe cards too.

After these two lovely learning heavy sessions we were moved to the Refuel corner, its supposed to be Aloft's grab and go offering but by now we were slowly getting used to the lingering. Once again an elaborate spread of freshly made apple crumble, blue berry cheesecake, passion fruit almond financier, Pineapple cake, Rum and raisin fruit cake, sandwiches etc. were laid out for the bloggers. We were learning the trick now of trying to taste more than to eat more. So we picked a few things we liked and shared a few morsels of different items from others plates to avoid wastage.

Post tea was a session by Aparna Jain of Partrige Publishing. This turned out to be my most favorite session. Aparna's honest experience sharing on publishing her own 'The Sood Family Cookbook' and the travails and (not so many) tribulations of a cookbook writer. Her hilarious style of presentation got the audiences engaged and involved too in her stories on self publishing vs finding a publisher. OK and she also busted some myths, like I could become rich by writing a cook book. My dream, my poor dream, I heard a voice hum continuously in my head somewhere. Ha! but I will still write even if I publish or don't. Readers I am asking you, would you buy my book?

We carried this light mood into The Nook. All the aspiring cookbook writers in the avatar of food bloggers had got a reality check and yet our energies were high. High enough to devour the lavish buffet. Aloft Cessna Park yet again was sweeping us off with their hospitality. These here are just the starters...

Thank god! after lunch it was an interactive panel discussion with food bloggers from within the community. They were up there at center stage to discuss the scene beyond blogging. It was interesting to hear how Sanjeeta KK of Lite Bite has blossomed into a professional food stylist, Kalyan Karmakar is now full time into food walks and how his market research background still helps him get some other assignments.

There was Harini Prakash, who made us privy to her dream which is soon to be a reality.  The Tadka Pasta girls who shared their story on getting their book published and they are already onto their second one!  Then ofcourse there was Rushina again this time to share her story of setting up the A perfect bite cook studio. A totally inspiring session as most bloggers are trying to go professional with avenues thrown open by blogging.

I would like to mention here, if you have missed my past posts on my Experience with me sessions. Check them out. I do Koli food and culture events and if you are in Mumbai I'd be glad to do it for you. 

Also hope you have already noticed the E-Shop tab on top of this page. There are some truely authentic ingredients there that you will die to have in your pantry. If you haven't ordered yet you must now!

The final was with a Master class by Aloft Cessna Park's own Executive chef Sameer Luthra. The set up for this masterclass was very well thought out. Unlike the last one bloggers did not have to clamber to get a view of what was cooking. Bloggers were seated at a level higher than the workstation for the chef. The camera projected a view of the work area and so we could watch larger than life display. Chef Sameer created two dishes Eggs baked in hash browns with glazed bacon and Sole en pappillote. Pappilote is a techinque to cook in paper. The bloggers requested me to explain to them what Sole fish (follow my #knowyourseafood on Fb and twitter) was, so I spoke on how to identify, its habitat and availability. This was my moment of respect from the bloggers as a expert on Fish, felt chuffed about it!

It was time for the team that took care of the food fests at Aloft to take a bow.

With that ended the 2 days of Indian Food Bloggers Meet. We were loaded with gifts from our 24 sponsors and this is how my friend displays it before we packed it into my check-in luggage.

This entire event was excellently organized by our Fab4. Take a bow ladies...

Finally we hugged and parted with promises to do it again and again. So long farewell, until the next time.

On Trail