Tag Archives: cooking

Introducing: Indian meal recipes + Granny’s Green Masala Masoor daal

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My journey in the culinary world started with Baking. Yes, BAKING! Neither chopping vegetables, nor with a simple salads. Nope, I did not help in cooking. I dived straight into baking, head first. And I loved every bit of it.

I was young, naive and also not the one responsible for preparing our daily meals. Our meals did not involve baking. It was mostly rice, curry, vegetables and something fried on the side, like fish. It was simple and nourishing. I couldn’t be intrigued, it was the food I grew up eating. I honestly didn’t find it interesting to even attempt to understand it better. I said I was young and naive, so just stay with me here and don’t roll your eyes.

At that time, I was still studying and Baking was my ‘extra curricular activity’. A hobby that I engaged in to keep occupied in my spare time. Although a hobby, it meant a lot to me, A LOT! and still does.

As I continued this journey, I discovered the world of blogging. I connected with bloggers. I also met people who blogged about regular/ daily home cooking. Simple soul-food, comforting and nourishing. Back then I wouldn’t have used these words to describe it. But anyways, I wondered why would someone blog about Indian home cooking, don’t we all know it already. Truth is, I didn’t. And what I didn’t know is that years later I would be the one struggling, frantically making calls back home and jotting down recipes and going back and forth these blogs to prepare a meal. Blogs, which feature regional Indian curry, rice and vegetables, turned out to be my lifesaving grace.

Initially, it was just to put some food on the table and later to beat the monotony, that I started trying out different recipes. Who knew there would be a thousand different ways to make daal? Ok, that’s exaggerating, but you get the drift. Indian food, as complex as it may seem in terms of flavours, is equally challenging in terms of techniques. How thin in consistency should the neer dosa batter be ? or how long should you leave the idli batter to ferment? These are somethings you learn only by doing. It all takes time and practice to get it right.

So while I have started stalking family members in the kitchen each time I visit my country, I am also going to share with you some of these recipes here. These are mostly my family heirloom recipes, recipes that they adopted from other sources, some traditional manglorean recipes, recipes that are successful attempts of my experiments, recipes that might help someone somewhere stuck in a dilemma regarding what to cook for the next meal. I will document these recipes under the ‘Indian Meals’ tab.

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Since you have been so patiently reading, I will leave here the first recipe. It’s something my grand mother used to prepare often and one of my favourites.

Green Masala Masoor Daal

Step 1: Cook the Daal

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Whole masoor daal (Whole red lentils)  1/2 cup
Onion 1 medium, chopped
Tomato 1 medium, chopped
Oil 1 1/2-2 tbsp
Salt to taste

In a heated pressure cooker, add oil and saute the onions till translucent. Next, add the tomato, salt.Add the daal and sufficient water (almost 2 inches above the daal). Cover the lid, top it with the whistle and pressure cook it for 4 whistles. Once done, allow the cooker to cool for 15 mins before you remove the whistle and open the lid. Once done, add the green masala paste.

Step 2: Prepare the Green masala paste 
(This paste can be prepared in advance and stored in the freezer for upto a week. Just thaw it to room temperature before use. Do not confuse this with Green Chutney, it’s different)

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Coriander leaves with stalk 1 bunch ( 3/4 cup when chopped)
Ginger 1 inch
Green chillies 2 (spicy ones)
Cumin seeds (Jeera) 1/2 tsp
Turmeric 1/2 tsp
Bafat masala 1/2 tsp (optional)
Salt to taste

Roughly chop the coriander and ginger. In a mixer, grind all the above ingredients to a paste. Avoid water, if required add very little water only to aid the grinding process. Add the green masala paste to the daal and simmer on low-medium heat for roughly around 7-8 mins. The raw dark green colour of the masala should change to a bit brownish olive green or mehendi green. Once done, take it off the heat and temper it (add the tadka).

Step 3: Tempering/ Tadka

Oil 1 tbsp (sunflower oil)
Mustard seeds 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida (Hing) a pinch
Curry leaves 5-6
Garlic cloves 3-4 (crushed)
Dried red chillies ( small, round ones) 2

Heat oil in a tadka pan. Add mustard seeds. When the seeds start to splutter, add the asafoetida, curry leaves, garlic and dried red chilles. Allow it all to sizzle for a minute and quickly transfer it to the daal and masala mixture and cover for a minute or two. Serve hot.

Tastes best when consumed with steamed rice, vegetable and something crispy on the side like papad or along with steamed rice and a fried fish. 

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Our Favourite Green Chutney

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On a random occasion, just to beat those ‘in between meals’ hunger pangs, I thought of making chutney sandwiches. I grew up in Mumbai so the spicy chutney sandwiches available street side was on my mind. I looked up a recipe from an old book, mostly on Manglorean cuisine. The ingredients being commonly used in Indian households, I had everything I needed at hand.

That evening, the hungry monsters glorified chutney sandwiches beyond my expectations. So much is this chutney popular in my home, that sandwiches or no sandwiches, just the plain chutney is devoured as condiment with lunch or dinner instead of the pickle. It is a pantry staple made every week. You can also tweak the spiciness or tang as per your liking. And the best part? I can make a big batch and store it in the fridge for the coming week and can easily make toast sandwiches anytime.

Slather it on buttered toast slices with cucumber and tomato stuffed sandwiches like we do or even add it to wraps. I will try and share more recipes with you to use this chutney. For now, here is how you can make it.

Time taken: 5-8 mins if you have all the ingredients at hand.

Ingredients:

  • Coriander leaves a bunch
  • Green chillies 2-3 (spicy ones)
  • Garlic flakes 5-6
  • Ginger half an inch
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Salt to taste

Method:

  • Roughly chop the coriander leaves, green chillies, garlic and ginger. (I prefer chopping them as it makes the grinding process easier since I refrain from adding water – see notes)
  • Add all ingredients in a mixer. Grind till it forms a thick paste.
  • Store refrigerated in an airtight container. Stays good this way upto a week.

Notes:

Refrain from adding water while grinding. The lime juice and the water remaining on the coriander after washing it is sufficient for grinding. Adding salt, also makes the ingredients release water. Adding water will only make the chutney very runny which is not the desired consistency.

 

 

Sweet Coconutty Hand-pies

I am now slowly reeling over the indulgent and gluttony-behaviour inducing Christmas celebrations. It has been a good year. When I look back, I am thankful for all the blessings. Crossed many milestones, traveled, made new friends. This year has been close to my heart. I will treasure the memories forever.

I did miss celebrating Christmas back home and with family. But Dubai has given me a new home, new family. And because the year has been so kind, I wanted to make Christmas special and culminate the year on a sweet note. We decided to make all the Christmas sweets at home. Just like the way we do it back in India.

For me it was the first time I made the sweets by myself, with the man being sous chef 😉 And in my attempt to make these treats, I stumbled upon  a lot of tricks and techniques. More on that, I will share with you later.

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For this Christmas, I (or rather we) made and shared goodie boxes with all home-made sweets. We made a mix of modern and traditional christmas sweets. We made Christmas Cake, Marzipan, Tandlache ladoo (red rice ladoos), Date rolls, Shankarpala (or Tukdey), Kaliyo, Gingerbread cookies. And a special fusion item – Sweet Coconuty hand-pies.

I actually wanted to make the traditional Nevries, but like some magical influence, I was drawn towards baking. Well, it was no magic, I just didn’t want to deep-fry the cresent shaped treats and preferred baking instead. Et Voila!

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Sweet Coconuty Hand-pies

Makes approx 8 medium hand-pies that serve well as dessert or snack for high tea.

For the filling:

  • Jaggery grated 2-3 tbsps
  • Fresh Coconut (grated) 1/2 cup
  • Almonds, powdered 1 tbsp
  • Semolina/ Rava 1 tbsp
  • Nigella seeds/ Kalonji 1/2 tbsp
  • Sesame seeds/ Til 1tbsp
  1. In a pan, dry roast the sesame seeds, nigella seeds, semolina, almond powder till fragrant and keep it aside.
  2. In the same pan, dry roast the grated coconut till fragrant and the oil is released a bit. While this is still hot, add the above mix to it. Add the grated jaggery. Use a spoon to stir and ensure the jaggery has melted and combined well with the rest of the mix.
  3. Keep aside to cool.

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For the hand-pie dough:

  • Plain flour/ Maida 200 gms
  • Butter 100 gms, cold and cut into cubes
  • Icing sugar 2 tbsps
  • Egg yolk 1
  • Ice cold water (a few tbsps)
  1. Take the flour and sugar in a bowl, add the cold butter and using your fingers keep cutting through the butter and flour, till the entire flour resembles grainy sand like texture.
  2. Add the yolk and combine. Add a tbsp of cold water at a time, to bring the dough together. Stop, just till the dough comes together. You don’t need a well kneaded smooth dough, just need a lump come together.
  3. Refrigerate it for 30 mins. This will help the butter to remain intact and not melt away while rolling.
  4. After 30 mins, take it out and start rolling it between parchment sheets.
  5. Cut into rectangular shapes and add little bit of the filling ( a tsp maybe).
  6. To seal the edges, dip your finger in water and run through the edges. Fold the hand-pies and using a fork, crinkle them.
  7. Poke a few holes on the top with a fork.
  8. Bake at 175 degrees C for 10-12 mins.
  9. Take it out of the oven and brush with egg wash for a golden hue on top.
  10. Bake again with only top side heat for 5 mins.

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Celebrating Mumbai Food Blogger’s Day with Chef Sanjeev Kapoor

The Mumbai Food Blogger’s form a versatile group of people from different backgrounds sharing a common passion for food.

Mumbai Food Bloggers with Chef Sanjeev Kapoor

Food writing, restaurant/product reviews, food styling, food photography, food consulting, cooking workshops are topics of interest on which you will usually find the members in their element.

6th November, we marked this day as the Mumbai Food Blogger’s Day. Thrilled as we all were to be invited by Chef Sanjeev Kapoor and his team to celebrate this day with them. Undeniably, this has been the best ever Food Blogger’s Meet so far.

The Chef is in the Kitchen!

We were in for a cook and chat session. Almost all of us were star stuck and with mounted eagerness to learn form the man who has spent years bringing a modern outlook towards Indian cuisine.

From here on, I summarize my key learnings from our rendezvous.

Creating an aura:
A spectacular dish produced is not just about tasty food. It needs an aura surrounding it, to be presented as a complete package that influences all the senses. The aroma, the flavours, the textures, of the dish together create an experience in itself.

Mushroom Risotto filled Puris with Tomato and Basil soup shots

Science and Art of cooking:
There is an underlying science when it comes to cooking. Like how gluten works in the dough to result in softer chapatis. One may or may not be able to explain the science. One needs to understand the science of cooking to then make it an art.

Focus on ‘art’ or beautifying a dish without understanding the science can have adverse effects on the resulting output.

Understanding ingredients:
Understand the use of ingredients. We have fixed associations in mind and recognise the ingredient by its association with a dish in which it is most commonly used.

For example, cardamom, the first thing that comes to mind will be to create a dessert. However, cardamom in itself has a distinct flavour. It is necessary to distinguish flavours of the ingredients in isolation.

Understand it in depth and detail, its preparation and taste. Learn its impact on the palate. Salt is used to add taste, a little more or less can affect the taste of the dish drastically.

Puris filled with Chocolate pearls with Vanilla coffee shots

Break the rules:
Do something differently, learn something new.
More importantly, to create something, always have an open mind.

Jamun Bhapa Doi

Wrapping up the session, Chef Sanjeev and his team spead out a lavish lunch for us.

A heartfelt ‘Thank You!’ to Rushina for organizing this for us.

Rushina M Ghildiyal with Chef Sanjeev Kapoor

P.S: Wanted to mention a little note stating what Rushina says about Food Blogger’s

Its important to understand that Food bloggers, do what they do out of passion on their time, at their expense & should be recognized as such.
They are not freeloaders who will write for free meals or a way to placate a client when print media does not carry your brand.