Friday, 28 December 2012

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup for the Indian Palate

Winter just demands soups. You cannot have winter without craving for soups, just as you cannot have a rainy day without a craving for pakoras and masala chai.

I am bored of the standard tomato soup though I love it and I wanted to try something different. I found this recipe for roasted red pepper and tomato soup and have adapted it for more traditional Indian palate and a kitchen where there is no oven. It turns out to be a lovely thick soup with a light roasted spicy flavour from the red pepper and the tang from the tomatoes. And it makes a good, healthy one-dish meal for those watching out for their weight.


2 red peppers
2 tbsps olive oil
3 medium sized tomatoes
1 medium sized onion
6-7 garlic cloves
1 bay leaf
4-5 whole peppercorns
Salt to taste


Wash the red peppers and dry them, apply some olive oil over them and roast them on the gas stove.

Deskin and deseed them, its easy to deskin roasted peppers. Blend the peppers in a food processor with the onions, garlic and the tomatoes. Heat oil in a pan add the bay leaf and the peppercorn. Add the prepared pepper soup puree and bring to a boil. Add salt to taste. Serve hot garnished simply with a corriander leaf and enjoy the sipping pleasure!

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Thai Red Curry

Look at the beauty of the thick red curry below. I wish I could share the refreshing spicy lemongrassy coconut-y fragrance rising from it and I made it from scratch!

I stumbled upon Thai Red Curry at 14 when one of my favourite restaurants Monis, one of the oldest restaurants in Thane, introduced new dishes in their menu. I took a chance despite reading coconut and I fell in love at first bite! Since then it has always been my preferred order at the restaurant and even at Thai restaurants with a wider menu, I still order this comforting meal.

I have tried to figure out how to make it without having to buy the readymade pastes and having to hunt for the ingredients all over the world! I have finally attempted and cracked the recipe for an Indian kitchen with most of the ingredients now most commonly found in one. The only new ingredient we don't find are the lime leaves, but a trip to Crawford helped me with it. I am sure they are available with certain vegetable vendors (hey now they stock lettuce and cherry tomatoes and broccoli et al!) and next time I will look for them there.

Thai Red Curry (Vegetarian)

For the red curry paste

7-8 whole kashmiri chillies soaked in water for at least 3-4 hours
1 onion
6-8 cloves of garlic
1/2 inch piece of ginger
2 lemon grass leaves
5-6 Kaffir lime leaves (which the vegetable vendor I got from called it nimbu ka patta!)
1 tbsp dhania-jeera powder
Salt to taste

For the curry

1/2 medium sized red pepper diced
1/2 medium sized yellow pepper diced
1/2 medium sized green pepper diced
4-5 baby corns diced
200 ml coconut milk
2 tbsps olive or peanut oil
Salt to taste


Grind the chillies, onion, garlic, ginger, lemon grass, Kaffir lime leaves dhania-jeera powder and salt to make a smooth paste.
In a deep frying pan, heat the oil, add the vegetables and toss them till they are a bit glossy. Add the red curry paste prepared as above and the coconut milk with the salt. Cook till it comes to a boil, you can add a bit of water for adjusting the consistency as you like it.

Serve it with a heap of hot steaming rice.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Starbucks (It Finally Feels Christmas-y!)

My friend and I missed Christmas yesterday, thanks to the really hot weather, the no Christmas trees around our places and me also because of no Christmas Carols or movies!

So today on a whim, we made a bit of a change in our plans for the day, and stepped into Starbucks (because it would be Christmas-y there!) and we weren't disappointed. Starbucks is spread over a decently large area for South Bombay or even Mumbai for that matter. The first thing that hits you, apart from the delightful smell of the coffee, is this space, the lighting, the soft lighting, the Indianised classic decor and for this season, the Christmas trees (there were 2, one large, one small!) and the carols! I was totally floored! We were so happy as it feels like you have stepped into a different world.

The Christmas Tree at the Mezzanine seating level

View of the reception and coffee serving area from the mezzanine seating level

Tree stump-like tables!

Decor shelf with old brass kettles and teacups, old books and some trunks.

 After enjoying the decor for some time and finding ourselves huge comfortable chairs in a corner of the cafe, me and my friend went ahead and placed our orders, a mocha latte, a white chocolate latte (something new, coffee with white chocolate!) and a fudge chocolate chip cookie. The coffees were fragrant and rich with the chocolate but the best part we savoured over was the cookie, it was pure sin. My friend who has stayed in Leeds in England for a year did comment that she couldn't find as good cookies in England at Starbucks as this one! Says quite something, I must say!

Mocha latte, White chocolate latte and Fudge Chocolate chip cookie

Me enjoying our time at Starbucks! (check out the huge chair!)

We did not have anything else as we had gone pretty close to lunch, but we do plan to go there again soon to try out the sandwiches that captured our interest.

Overall a good coffee experience!

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Frankie (Vegetarian)

Frankie is one of Mumbai's favourite pick me up meal. A potato-vegetable, paneer, egg or chicken filling drenched in ketchup, chutney, mayonnaise, or schezwan sauce, with fresh shredded crunchy onions, cabbage, carrots served in a soft roti, is a good substitute for a meal, on the run.

My version of the frankie is a very simple and healthy version of the roadside snack, with inputs from my grand aunt who loves cooking too (it runs in the family!)

Frankie (Vegetarian)


For the roti dough

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tbsp oil
Salt to taste

For the pattice

4-6 medium sized boiled potatoes
Salt to taste
2 tsps chilly powder
3 tsps amchur powder
2 tsps chaat masala
2-3 tbsps cornflour or maida
Oil for cooking

For the mint chutney

30-40 mint leaves
15-20 corriander leaves
Salt to taste
2 green chillies
1 tsp lime juice

Other ingredients

2 medium sized onions
2 parts salt 1 part chilly powder 1 part amchur powder and 1 part chaat masala for sprinkling
Tomato ketchup
Oil for cooking


First knead the dough as you would for rotis (it's a great way to use up leftover rotis!). Roll out rotis and roast them till half done on both sides.

For the pattice, mix all the masalas into the boiled potatoes well, shape into cylindrical flat pattice and shallow fry till golden brown on both sides.

Grind the mint leaves, corriander leaves, chillies, salt and lime juice with a little water (1 tsp) to make a refreshing mint chutney.

To assemble the frankie, cook one side of the half roasted roti using oil till done and flip and apply a little oil to the other side. As the other side cooks on the tawa, apply the ketchup, the mint chutney, place the pattice, add the onions (and other veggies like shredded cabbage, carrots if you prefer), sprinkle the masala. Roll the frankie and cook till the other side is done.

Serve hot with ketchup and chutney!

Monday, 24 December 2012

Corn Chaat

We Indians can 'chaat' anything up: fruits, vegetables, pulses.... name it and we're ready with our handy lemon, chaat masala, chilly et al to spice up the most boring of things! I tried this chaat recipe shared by a colleague of my sister and it turned out yummy!

Corn Chaat


1 cup boiled American corn
1 medium sized onion chopped
1 medium sized tomato chopped
2 tbsps lemon juice
1 tsp chaat masala
1/2 tsp amchur (dried mango) powder
1/2 tsp rock salt
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp pepper
 Salt to taste

Chopped corriander to garnish

Mix up all the ingredients well in a bowl. Garnish with the chopped corriander and serve.

Note: You can substitute the corn with cooked pulses like brown or green chana or sprouts and it will be just as yummy!

Monday, 10 December 2012

Cannon Pav Bhaji: My Happy Meal

Mumbai pav bhaji has always been famous; but there is pav bhaji and then there is Cannon pav bhaji!

Located right outside CST (earlier VT) station, this place has been a landmark for years! The first time I had their pav bhaji was when I was in the 6th standard (about 12 years back) and was going to Birla Auditorium for an awards function and the taste hasn't changed since. It was also our Saturday special when we were studying at Xavier's (because it fits right into any college student's budget) and was on our bucket list of things to do when my friend came back from England after a  year! 

The pav bhaji made in huge quantities over these old cast iron tawas tastes the same from as far as I can remember it: perfect combination of spices, veggies with an overload of butter that just melts in your mouth (see the pic and you will see what I am talking of). This flavoursome (and not too pungent) mix of vegetables is served with two pieces of bread (again) drenched in butter! The best thing to wash it down with is the masala chhas they serve (its spicy, cold, tangy and yummy!)

Cannon Pav Bhaji with a just right overdose of butter and masala chhas: Our Happy Meal!

Cannon also serves misal pav, gajar halwa and wada pav, but I have never tried them because I go there for the pav bhaji and the masala chhas and that's what I stick to! The proof lies in the long queue of people, at any time of the day, having hot fresh pav bhaji right off the tawa!