Saturday, 28 September 2013

Pumpkin Parathas

Pumpkins are a wonderful vegetable. They are loaded with Vitamins such as Vitamin A, Vitamin B, Vitamin C and Vitamin E. They are also anti-oxidant rich and a storehouse of minerals like copper, calcium, potassium and phosphorus. Though they're so good for us, they are often off-putting to people who don't like their flavour or colour. Pumpkin parathas are a great way to make pumpkins a great delight to eat! I can vouch for this because when I shared these parathas with my classmates, one of them said that she hates pumpkins but these she could eat by the dozen!

Pumpkin Parathas


100 gms red pumpkin grated (it is called red but looks yellow)
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsps cumin powder
2 tsps red chilly powder
1 1/2 tsps garam masala powder
Salt to taste
Water to knead dough
Oil to cook parathas


Take the grated pumpkin and the whole wheat flour on a big plate. Add in the salt, the cumin powder, the red chilly powder, the garam masala powder and the salt. Before adding the water to knead the dough, use your fingers to mix this dry mixture well together, so the spice flavour is even.

Add water and knead a firm dough. Remember, pumpkin releases some of its own juices so knead a firmer dough than you use, it will become softer over some time.

Roll out thin parathas and cook on a tawa with oil till both sides turn crispy.

Pack in your tiffins for a great treat!

Pumpkin Parathas packed in my tiffin!

Friday, 27 September 2013

Apple Cinnamon Oats

An apple a day keeps the doctor away. But it can get too boring to eat the same apple in the same way everyday. It has happened to me so I tried my hand at creating something new from the same old apple. And voila! I thought why not use apple with its best spice partner cinnamon in my morning oats? The dish turned out to be good, so here I am sharing away the recipe.

Apple Cinnamon Oats

Apple Cinnamon Oats


3 tsps plain oats
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 apple cut into thin small slices or grated
1 pinch cinnamon powder
2 tsps sugar (or more if you prefer)


Put the milk and oats to heat in a deep pan. Add in the apple pieces and sugar. Let the milk come to a boil.

Lower the flame and let the oats cook in the milk. About a couple of minutes later add in the cinnamon powder. The oats will take another minute on the lowered flame after that to cook through.

Serve garnished with a slice of apple. Enjoy a healthy and filling breakfast!

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Mag ni Dal na Pudla

Based on the response to my post from day before yesterday on Soam, it seems that Gujarati food is quite popular among people! Here is a simple, tasty recipe straight from a Gujarati kitchen: Mag ni dal na pudla. Mag ni dal na pudla have only 4 ingredients in it and can be eaten by Jains as they have no onions or garlic. They are a versatile dish tat make for a very tasty breakfast, afternoon snack or a filling main course too! As they are made of green mung dal with the skins still on, they are very nutritious and a great source of protein and fibre.

There are versions of this recipe from different regions of India. In Marwari kitchens and on Calcutta streets (because of the Marwari influence in Calcutta) they are called moong dal cheelas. Moong dal cheelas, served smeared with different types of chutneys like garlic chutney and corriander chutney, are quite a popular street snack in Calcutta (after puchkas, of course!). In  Andhra kitchens there is Pesarratu dosa which is served for breakfast with upma. Pesarratu dosa however is made with whole moong and have chopped garlic and onion in it, whereas Mag ni Dal na Pudla are made with moong dal and have no onions or garlic. 

Mag ni Dal na Pudla

Mag ni Dal na Pudla


1 cup green moong dal (with skins)
1/2 inch ginger roughly sliced
1-2 green chillies cut into 4/5 pieces each
Salt to taste
Oil to cook


Soak moong dal overnight (about 6 hours at least). Drain all additional water from the dal. 

In a blender, blend the soaked dal with the roughly sliced ginger and green chilly pieces and salt. Add a little bit of water (about 2-3 tbsps) so that it forms a smooth batter of dosa batter consistency. 

On a tawa, heat oil, spread the batter using a ladle such that it forms a crepe thicker than a dosa. Cook till it turns golden brown and easily comes off the tawa. Flip over and cook till it turns crispy on the other side.

Serve with your favourite chutney or ketchup or enjoy just as it is!

Golden brown and crispy: Mag ni Dal na Pudla!

Quick Fix Rasam

Rasam is a peppery, spicy tomato broth that originates from the Southern regions of India. It is generally eaten with rice, though rasam wadas also make for a favoured dish in South Indian kitchens. There are many varieties of rasam such as regular rasam, garlic rasam and pepper rasam to name a few. 

This rasam recipe is a quick-fix, 15 minute version of the traditional one as it uses only tomatoes and no lentils because they take long to cook. It is my go-to food when I have the sniffles. 

Quick Fix Rasam

Quick Fix Rasam


2 tbsps oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp asafoetida
8-10 curry leaves
3 medium tomatoes finely chopped
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red chilly powder
2 tbsps rasam powder (corriander powder, fenugreek powder, red chilly powder and asafoetida)
3 cups water
2 tbsps tamarind pulp extracted by soaking it in water and removing the pips
Salt to taste


Heat oil in the pan and temper with the mustard seeds, asafoetida and curry leaves. To this tempering, add in the tomatoes and the turmeric powder, red chilly powder, and rasam powder. Saute the tomatoes with the spice powders on a medium flame till they turn soft and pulpy and the spice powders release their aromas. This takes about 5-7 minutes.

Add in the water, salt and tamarin pulp. Cook till the rasam comes to a boil and then on a low flame for about 3 minutes. 

Serve hot and enjoy as is or with rice!

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

One Food Experience: Soam

Soam, located near Girgaon Chowpatty, bang opposite the Babulnath temple, is a haven for tasty and authentic Gujarati food. It is a vegetarian's delight, that has enchanted meat eaters who are not too fond of vegetarian food. A clear sign of the popularity of this restaurant can be seen by the fact that though we had gone there on a weekday afternoon for a late lunch at around 2-2.30 p.m., we still had to wait in the queue for around 20 minutes before we got a table.

There were two of us who loved the different food experiences of the meal we ordered. I have decided to include both recommendations for the restaurant as the one-food experience you should have at Soam. Both of these, along with the restaurant itself, are really worth trying out!

1. Panki and Guava Panha

Panki is a very interesting Gujarati dish. It is made by spreading a really thin layer of rice flour batter (that has little bit of spices like jeera and turmeric) on a banana leaf and then steaming it in the banana  leaf. It is served on the table in the banana leaf itself, and you need to open a hot banana leaf and peel the Panki off it to eat it hot and fresh, right off the leaf.

Panki on the banana leaf

The experience of eating Panki is one-of-a-kind and very interesting. First, there is a release of aromas and steam as you open the banana leaf. Then when the steam clears a bit, you see this bright yellow colour against the backdrop of the lovely green, that just appeals to your eyes. Then you peel off little by little and enjoy the flavoursome, thin, soft Panki that just melts in your mouth. Ah! There is nothing like it!

Guava Panha

The Guava Panha is a take on the summer favourite Aam Panha. It goes very well with the Panki with its combination of sweetness with an edge of tartness.

2. Farsan Platter

This one is made for those who believe Gujarati food is at its best when its deep fried like my company does (and you can now guess whose recommendation backs this)! It has a great combination of traditional Gujarati snacks like ghugra and dhokla, with the modern touch of Palak Cheese Patti Samosa and Makai wadi.

The oh-so-yummy farsan platter!

Ghugra (top and bottom) is a savoury pea-mixture stuffed in a maida pastry that is folded in a beautiful manner, which takes a lot of skill, along the edges. This is then deep fried and makes a lovely crunchy snack with a spicy filling. Soam made it almost like my granny used to, and that is very good by any Gujarati standards, considering my granny's ghugras were very popular.

The Palak Cheese Patti Samosas (top right) were this fantastic combination of sauteed spinach and cheese stuffed in patti strips and deep fried till the cheese melts. When you bite into a samosa there is the crunch of the patti, followed by the gush of melted cheese with hints of flavour from the spinach. It is a delight in your mouth!

Makai wadi (left of the basket) was a unique corn snack that was steamed and then pan fried. It was a take on the Maharashtrian kothimbir wadi.

Last, but not the least, was the quintessential Gujarati dhokla. I am not much of a dhokla fan (yes, I am Gujju and no, I don't like dhoklas!) but this one was soft and fluffy, steamed perfectly, with just a little hint of spice from the chilly powder sprinkled on top before steaming. I know enough of dhoklas to know it was just like a good dhokla should be.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Hummus Platter

Special occassions call for special creations. My little brother had his 22nd birthday (okay, so he is not so little anymore then!) on Wednesday and I wanted to gift him something made from my love for cooking. He loves trying different types of cuisines that I try at home quite often. So I made something from a new cuisine with my twist to it for him: a Hummus platter. I made the Hummus platter with three types of Hummus: Regular Hummus, Basil Hummus and Spicy Hummus with whole wheat pita bread. He loved it! So it was quite a success!

Hummus Platter

The above picture has the Basil Hummus in the front, the Regular Hummus in the middle, and the Spicy Hummus at the farther end. 

Regular hummus is a post I have already done. You can click on the title to go to it!

Basil Hummus


1 cup chickpeas soaked overnight
5 tbsps seasame seeds
8-10 garlic cloves
6-7 leaves of fresh Italian basil
3 tbsps olive oil
Salt to taste
Water to adjust consistency


Pressure cook the chickpeas. Roast the seasame seeds in a pan on a low flame till they are brownish and release their aroma. Blend with a little water to make the tahini paste.

In the blender, blend the garlic cloves, the basil leaves, the tahini paste and the salt to form a smooth paste. Add in the cooked chickpeas and olive oil and blend. Add water to adjust consistency as desired.

To serve, create a little depression in the middle and pour some olive oil into it (see picture above).

Spicy Hummus


1 cup chickpeas soaked overnight
5 tbsps seasame seeds
8-10 garlic cloves
6-7 leaves of fresh Italian basil
3 tbsps olive oil
1 1/2 tsps of red chilly powder
1 tsp of cumin powder
Salt to taste
Water to adjust consistency


Cook the soaked chickpeas in the pressure cooker. Make the tahini paste by roasting seasame seeds as described above and then blending them with a little water to form a smooth paste.

Blend together the chickpeas, the tahini paste, the garlic cloves, the olive oil, salt and the red chilly and cumin powder. Keep adding water in little quantities till the desired consistency of the dip is reached.

Serve with some olive oil on it (see picture below).

Serve the different types of Hummus with pita bread toasted in a little olive oil and enjoy!

The three types of Hummus served with olive oil on them

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Tomato and Basil Soup

I was watching a food travel show focussed on Italy and on it I heard a celebrated Italian chef call tomato, basil and garlic the 'Holy Trinity' of Italian cooking. Since I love Italian cooking so much, I wondered what can I do to combine these flavours? I thought of making it into a soup, and tried it for the first time today. Now I know why tomato, basil and garlic are called the 'Holy Trinity' of Italian cooking. They make for such a great combination!

Tomato and Basil Soup served hot!

Tomato and Basil Soup


2 tbsps olive oil
8-10 cloves of garlic chopped
5 medium tomatoes diced
2 cups water
4-5 leaves of fresh Italian basil finely chopped
Salt to taste


In a pan heat the oil. Add the chopped garlic and saute till it turns golden brown. To the garlic, add the diced tomatoes and cook till they soften a little and release their juices.

Add in water and salt to the tomatoes and cover and cook till the tomatoes cook through. Blend this cooked mixture in a mixer or food processor till it forms a puree. Strain to get your soup.

Bring the strained mixture to a boil, turn off the heat and then add in the Italian basil.

Serve hot with some croutons or just as it is!

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Easy Peasy Spaghetti

I love mid-week holidays, like the one I had today. They are more fun when I have the right ingredients in my refrigerator to cook up a storm! Today, was one such great day. I had some fresh Italian basil in my refrigerator and I managed to use it up in a few dishes. I will be posting all the recipes soon!

The first recipe I cooked again was the Easy Peasy Spaghetti. I have always liked the flavour of garlic, fresh Italian basil and olive oil together; I have used it in the Italian Style Tomato and Mozzarella Cheese Salad as a fantastic dressing. So I thought, why not use it to make a very basic pasta. I chose spaghetti simply because I like how you can eat it by twirling it all around the fork! The dish got great reviews, and it became one of my favourites to cook too. The best part about this dish, apart from its easy recipe, is that it tastes great when cold too and can make for a very good tiffin recipe for kids. 

Easy Peasy Spaghetti

Easy Peasy Spaghetti


100 grams spaghetti 
3-4 tbsps olive oil
10 cloves of garlic finely chopped
7-8 leaves of fresh Italian basil finely chooped
Salt to taste


Cook the spaghetti as per the instructions on the packet. These vary for different brands so you can rely on the packet instructions as your best guideline. Drain the water and keep aside.

Heat the olive oil. Add in the garlic and fry till they turn reddish brown. Now add the cooked spaghetti and the salt and mix well. Lastly, add in the basil leaves, turn off the heat and mix them in.

Serve hot with a drizzle of olive oil in traditional Italian style!

Easy to cook and full of flavour!

P.S: Italian basil has a sharp flavour when raw but it turns sweeter on cooking. So add it last to the dish and turn off the heat immediately after adding the basil. The basil will lose some of its raw sharpness in the heat that remains in the dish, but will not become too sweet such that it will not go well with the garlic. 

Monday, 16 September 2013

Tadkewaale Dahi Chaawal

 You know how some dishes are so regular and frequently made in your home that you take them for granted. And then you are talking to someone from a different background, and you realise that they have never even heard of it. This happens very often in schools, where I remember, I used to eat the sambhar rice my friend used to get in her tiffins with such relish, whereas she used to enjoy the 'new' Gujarati dishes my mum used to pack in my tiffin.

I was just having a chat with my neighbour who is a Punjabi when I realised that this dish, tadkewaale dahi chaawal, that is so common in Maharashtrian and South Indian kitchens, was almost unheard of for her. I love this dish, because it's quick and perfect for a meal after a long and tiring day when I don't feel like cooking. I have had a long day of internship today, so I turned to this simple dish for refuge. I remembered the conversation I just had with bhabhi, and I thought I should share this recipe!

Tadkewaale Dahi Chaawal


1 cup cooked rice
5 tbsps of yoghurt
Salt to taste

For tempering

2 tbsps oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
10 curry leaves
1 dried red chilly


Mash together the rice,  yoghurt and salt to form a creamy mixture.

Heat the oil in a tempering vessel. Add in the mustard seeds and the cumin seeds. When they begin to crackle, add in the curry leaves and the dried red chilly. Fry the tempering for about 30 seconds. Pour on the rice and yoghurt mixture.

Mix the tempering in and enjoy!

Tadkewaale Dahi Chaawal

Tip 1: You can add white udad dal to the tempering and let it fry a little till it turns reddish brown. Then pour this on the rice yoghurt mixture. It adds a lovely crunch and flavour to the dish.

Tip 2: This dish is fantastic for the hot summers and best had when chilled. Make it about half an hour before serving. After mixing in the tempering, cool in the refrigerator for that time.

Tip 3 (from a loved one): You can also add white seasame seeds to the tempering for a great flavour. It has been tried and tested, and I will try it too now! 

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Breakfast Challenge Week 5: Bread Butter Jam (A Cool Tip)

Hahaha! Yes, that was my breakfast today. Today, was one of those lazy mornings that I was not up to letting my alarm wake me up. So I used whatever 5 minutes I had left over from my 15 minutes to quickly toast two pieces of bread, slather them with butter and mango jam and eat it with great relish.

A cool tip I have learnt and can share is when applying butter, make sure you apply it on the hot toast. Nothing absorbs butter like hot toast... the effect is simply awesome!

Friday, 13 September 2013

Life Lessons

Spend an hour in the kitchen with a mother, and along with recipes you will learn some of life's greatest lessons!

One Food Experience: Cafe Mangii

Last minute plans to go and eat at one of your favourite restaurants are always awesome! Cafe Mangii is one of my most favourite restaurants to eat in Mumbai. Cafe Mangii simply makes a statement that a combination of a relaxed ambience, good service, perfectly made and presented food with every dish and a great variety on the menu, you just can't go wrong!

The one food experience I would recommend at Cafe Mangii is their Poached Pear Salad Entree. This salad is a great refreshing combination of pears poached in spiced red wine, fresh crispy arugula leaves with creamy crumbled feta brought together by a balsamic reduction dressing topped with caramelised walnuts. There are a variety of flavours: spice and tartness of the pears, the slight fennel-like pungency of the arugula leaves and the distinct flavour of the balsamic reduction, balanced out by the neutrality of the feta cheese with hints of sweetness from the caramelised walnuts . And the texture combination of this dish is just perfect! The crunchiness of the walnuts, the crispiness of the fresh arugula, the softness of the cheese  make it a well-rounded dish in terms of textures. The creator of this dish can take a bow!

Poached Pear Salad in all it's glory!

A disclaimer to this recommendation is that balsamic tends to have a very distinctive flavour that not everyone in India may like. But, of the five people I know who have eaten this salad, four have liked it, so that is a good ratio!

For a more detailed review of Cafe Mangii, you can see the Spice Rover's review

Breakfast Challenge Week 4: Chocolate Banana Oats Smoothie

I have heard a lot about breakfast smoothies and seen a lot of recipes. But I have never tried them really.

Smoothies are fruits and flavours, and sometimes oats, blended in milk to make a thick shake. There are many variants of smoothies too. There can be made with fruits and yoghurt blended together with honey for a low calorie version of the smoothie. They are quick and easy to make, nutritious with milk, fruits and oats, delicious and very filling. Today, I tried making a smoothie for the first time with milk, bananas, chocolate and oats. One glass of it in the morning at around 8 a.m. had me going till 12 noon.  

Chocolate Banana Oats Smoothie

Preparation Time: 7 minutes


2 tbsps oats
1 large banana/ 2 small bananas
150 ml milk
1 tbsp drinking chocolate
1 tsp sugar or 2 tsps honey (optional for sweetness)
3 cubes ice (optional)


Soak the oats for about 5 minutes. Chop the banana. In a blender, blend together all the smoothie ingredients. Add ice if you wish; the milk I had was using was cold, so I did not need it.

Pour this rich thick shake into a tall glass or a go-cup and enjoy! 

Chocolate Banana Oats Smoothie enjoyed in the balcony!

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Breakfast Challenge Week 3: Anna's Tomato Cheese Sandwiches

I have been getting pretty nostalgic about Xavier's days for the last couple of days. Today morning when it was raining, I was reminded of (again) of rains in the first quad, where the water would flow from the terrace via the gargoyle's mouths to the ground and make a very interesting sound on the stone basketball court of the first quad. Sigh. Xavier's.

And that brought me to memories of breakfasts at Xavier's! Especially those at Anna's mess! One of my regular favourites were his tomato-cheese sandwiches. So on that nostalgic note, today's breakfast was anna's simple and filling tomato-cheese sandwich. I can say great things about how the sandwich tastes, like how the acidity of the tomatoes, balances the saltiness and richness of the cheese and the sprinkle of pepper and salt just add an edge of spice to it. But no, to me the taste is as simple as those times were: it's the taste of mornings of Xavier's!

Anna's Tomato Cheese Sandwich

Preparation Time: 3 minutes


2 slices of bread
1 cheese slice/ 1/2 cheese cube/ 1 tsp cheese spread
1 tomato sliced into 4 round slices
Sprinkle of black pepper powder
Salt to taste


Toast the bread if you wish. It will add about 3-4 minutes to the preparation time. Spread the cheese spread over one slice or put the cheese cube slices/ cheese slice on it. Add the tomato slices. Sprinkle the salt and pepper on these slices. Close the sandwich with the other bread slice and enjoy the sandwich!

The taste of Xavier's mornings!

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Breakfast Challenge Week 2: Masala Upma

Today is one of those rare mid-week 'holidays' for me. The only advantage of this 'holiday' is that I do not have to travel and so I had some more time to prepare a breakfast and savour it. I have still put in an eight hour work day for projects and assignments.

 My breakfast menu for today was a twist on the upma I make almost frequently - masala upma. I have had this recipe in my head for some time and I tried it out today. It has had great results and so I am sharing it with you.

Masala Upma

Preparation Time: 15 minutes


2 tbsps oil
2 tsps mustard seeds
1 tsp asafoetida powder
10-15 curry leaves
2 tbsps white udad dal
1 medium onion finely chopped
2-2 tsps rasam powder
1 cup rawa
3 cups water
3-4 tbsps lemon juice
Salt to taste


Put the 3 cups of water to boil.

In another pan, heat the oil and temper with mustard seeds. Add  in the asafoetida powder and the curry leaves. When the curry leaves crackle add the udad dal and fry till it turns reddish. 

To this add in the onions and saute them for 1-2 minutes till they start to release the oil. Add in the rasam powder and cook it in the mixture till it's aroma releases a couple of minutes later. Add in the rawa and roast it well.  

Add the boiled water and salt and let the rawa mixture cook in it for 5-7 minutes till the rawa cooks through and the mixture has the consistency of thick porridge. 

Serve hot with lemon juice. This goes very well with filter coffee!

Masala upma in all its glory!

My leisurely breakfast today morning: masala upma and filter coffee. 

For the days when I have a time crunch, I can prepare the dry upma mixture one evening before and store it in the refrigerator after it cools down to room temperature.  The next morning I would simply have to boil water (3-4 minutes) and cook the upma in it (about 7 minutes) and I will have hot upma ready in about 10 minutes!  

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Breakfast Challenge Week 1: Masala Oats

I have started skipping breakfasts again. My schedule has started getting extremely jam-packed again and I stay up late at nights to complete my work. So I end up choosing the extra half an hour of sleep in the mornings over making and eating breakfast. Hence, I have made a deal with myself. I am going to divide up the half hour into 15 minutes of additional sleep time and 15 minutes of breakfast time. I will make dishes for breakfast that are healthy, filling and take only 7-8 minutes to prepare, so I can eat them at a decent pace too. And if they take more than 10 minutes to prepare, then I should have enough time to pack them up in a tiffin and eat them on my hour long commute (thank you Mumbai city for that!) Needless to add that since I am giving up 15 minutes of precious sleep for cooking them, these recipes better be delicious! This of course has the added advantage of giving me more blog posts to write!

In the Breakfast Challenge Week, the first recipe is Masala Oats. As we all have often heard, oats have a lot of health benefits and make for a hearty and healthy breakfast. Yes, there are a variety of flavoured (sweet and savoury) oats available now in the market. I have tried and liked some of them but I do not want to eat them much over the long run as they do have preservatives. For me, they are okay once in a while when you are in a real crunch, but not an option I would go for everyday.

Masala Oats

Preparation Time: 6 minutes


2 tsps oil
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
3 tbsps oats
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp chilly powder
1 1/2 tsps Kitchen King masala or garam masala
1 1/2 cups water
Salt to taste
1-2 tsps tomato ketchup (optional)


In a pan heat the oil and add the cumin seeds.

When they start to turn red, add in the oats, and the turmeric powder, chilly powder and Kitchen King/ garam masala. Dry roast them for about 30-40 seconds till the masalas release their aromas.

Add in the water and salt. Bring to one boil. Then lower the flame and simmer for about 3-3 1/2 minutes till the oats are cooked and it has a porridge-like thick soupy consistency.

Serve in a bowl. Add in the ketchup if you wish to have a tangy flavour (this kind of reminds me of eating Maggi noodles with ketchup, especially when it is made with the Kitchen King masala)

Enjoy your quickly prepared breakfast!

Healthy, hearty and quick: just how I like my breakfasts!

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Indian Spices: Dhaniya (Corriander Seeds)

My blog is named "Salt and Pepper (With a Lot of Spice!) after a conversation with a friend about the richness of spices in Indian food. The conversation started when he was telling me about how he had been to UK and eaten their all-time favourite "fish and chips" and found it bland. "It was seasoned only with some salt and maybe pepper, nothing else! No wonder 'foreigners' go crazy when they eat Indian food. It has so many spices, you can't but like it!" I agreed. And that's why when I started writing this food blog, I wanted to honour our variety of spices that go beyond the classic 'salt and pepper'.

In these series of blogs I plan to write on the varying Indian spices that are used everyday in kitchens across various regions of India. If there is one spice that is common to kitchens across India, though in varying forms, it is corriander. So the first blog of the Indian Spices series is dedicated to it.

Corriander Seeds

Corriander seeds are also known as 'dhaniya' in Hindi and Punjabi, 'dhaana' in Gujarati, 'dhaane' in Marathi. They are used in various ways in Indian cuisine. The whole seeds can be used while tempering, like in Gujarati Kadhi. Corriander powder can be used as a spice by itself like it is primarily used in Marwari cuisine. Gatte ki sabzi, aloo mangodi, Rajasthani  bhindi, dal-chawal-'kath' are famous Marwari cuisine favourites that are flavoured with corriander powder. The seeds and the powder have two different flavours. The seeds have a citrusy overtone, whereas on roasting and grounding, the powder has an earthy smell. I am always reminded of the frangrance of the hot earth cooling down after the first showers when there are corriander seeds being roasted and ground nearby.

Corriander seeds are most commonly used in spice mixtures. In Gujarati kitchens, we have 'dhaana-jeeru' which is a spice powder made with a mixture of 80-90% roasted corriander seeds and the rest being cumin seeds. This 'dhaana-jeeru' powder is a quintessential flavouring for our daily food and is one of the three spice powders (apart from turmeric and chilly powders) stocked in our everyday spice boxes. In Maharashtrian kitchens, there is 'goda masala' which is used for flavouring in everyday cooking apart from turmeric powder and chilly powder. 'Goda masala' also is made of 90-95% roasted corriander seeds and 10-12 other spices like 2 types of cumin seedsbay leaves, 2-3 types of red chilly, cloves, 2 types of cardamom, dried coconut etc. In Punjabi kitchens, their everyday 'garam masala' powder has 50-60% corriander seeds with other spices ground into a fragrant mixture.

Corriander seeds have a lot of health benefits also. According to ayurveda, corriander seeds are a great aid in digestion. Corriander seeds are suitable for all the three types of bodies: vaata, pitta and kapha. Unlike other spices, corriander seeds are cooling and do not cause pitta. Corriander seeds also have anti-bacterial properties that can help fight bacterial infections such as salmonella. 

Thursday, 5 September 2013

One Food Experience: Theobroma

Theobroma's is a bakery and patisserie with branches in Colaba, Peddar Road, Powai and Bandra. I believe they make the best desserts in this corner of the country. They have the most delectable pastries, danishes, croissants and macaroons. The one food experience I would strongly urge you to have at Theobroma's is their Tiramisu.

Tiramisu is a rich creamy Italian dessert having layers of pastry/ or ladyfingers biscuits (traditional version) with mascarpone cheese, whipped egg yolks and cocoa.

Tiramisu of Theobroma's

The first thing you will notice about this tiramisu is how easily the spoon cuts through all the layers, like a knife through molten butter.

All the lovely layers of the Tiramisu

And when you start eating it, there is coffee, there is cocoa and rich creamy textures of the cheese. It is a delight with every mouthful, that makes you want to go "Oh!". No wonder Theobroma's (literally food for the Gods) is so aptly named! Kainaz Messman, take a bow! 

A cup of Tiramisu costs Rs 90 (without service taxes) and is worth every penny, and then some more...

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Filter Coffee

I have always loved filter coffee. There is no comparison to its aroma, perfect amount of slight milkiness and 'just-about' sweetness. And who can forget the fun of pouring it from one tumbler to another to make it all frothy! Filter coffee experience is just incomplete without it! Whenever I go to an udipi or the Banana Leaf, I always order one, whatever the time of the day.

Much as I love filter coffee, I have never tried it at home. Yesterday, I saw (rather was led to it by its aroma) a packet of filter coffee grinds from a local Matunga shop at the small grocery shop near my house and I picked it up. Because of the beautiful fragrance coming from it, I thought it's definitely worth a try!
Today morning I finally tried my hand at making filter coffee and I managed to nail it! To keep the theme going, I also made upma with it for breakfast and had a great headstart today!

Filter Coffee

3 tsps filter coffee grinds
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup milk
Sugar to taste


Bring the water to a boil. Take the coffee grinds on a chhalni and put it on your serving cup or mug or steel tumbler. Slowly pour the boiled water in a very thin trickle over it. Traditionally this is done through a brass filter, but I do not have one, so I adapted the method and used a common everyday chhalni definitely found in all kitchens. Please see picture below.

The aroma of a great morning: filter coffee grinds!

Boil the milk in a separate container and add it into the coffee. Add in the sugar.

Take another tumbler or mug and pour the coffee from one to another from a height of about 1/2 a foot to 1 foot in a trickle. Do this till the sugar dissolves and the coffee has a layer of froth on top.

Serve piping hot!

Filter coffee and upma

P.S. This coffee needs real filter coffee grinds that are 100% coffee beans. Instant coffee powders have only 70% coffee beans and the rest are chicory beans. You can easily buy filter coffee grinds in Matunga (Central suburb) near kabootarkhana if you're in Mumbai. At a lot of places otherwise local tea-only shops also carry at least two varieties of filter coffee grinds.

P.S. 2: I have submitted the picture "The aroma of a great morning: filter coffee grinds!" for the The Colour Me Photography Challenge Series  for the September Colour Me Brown Challenge. 

One Food Experience: Starbucks

Starbucks has a great coffee menu and some really interesting food. The best part about their food is that it is very fresh, for example, a friend of mine loves the chicken mozzarella turnover that they serve because it tastes very fresh. We've noticed the trick to it is that it comes half-baked and the last part of the baking is done at the store giving it a very fresh feel!

The one food experience I would recommend at Starbucks is their White Chocolate Mocha and their Fudgy Chocolate Chip Cookie. The White Chocolate Mocha is a steaming, frothy mug of white-chocolate rich flavourful coffee topped with delicious whipped cream. The cookie? You just have to eat it to believe it! It's fudgy, chocolaty, dense, and gooey and VEGETARIAN. My best friend who has studied in the UK for a year and hung out quite a bit at Starbucks reading for her course, said this cookie was better than any with-egg cookies they serve over there. I can think of no higher praise for this cookie. 

Fudgy Chocolate Chip Cookie and White Chocolate Mocha (right front)

Needless to add this food experience is a very rich one and is not for the health or weight conscious. But if you can let go of it for one coffee experience, this is totally worth it! 

Monday, 2 September 2013

My First Newspaper Publication!

Your's truly in Saturday's newspaper... a huge half page article on my recipe contributions! 

The dream of seeing my name in the newspaper comes true! 

This one is for my granny... the start of it all, in cooking, in reading and writing...

The recipes can be found on my blog: 

1. Punjabi Dal Makkhani Simplified

2. Maharashtrian Aamti

3. Marwari Panchmel Dal

Enjoy these!