Sunday, 16 November 2014

Wedding Break

Ah well.... here goes something I never really imagined myself doing.

But as a Marathi saying goes- "lagna pahave karun". It means that to understand what a wedding entails, get married and you'll know.

I'm getting married in December. I thought I'd be organised enough to be able to manage one weekly blog post at least. But it's been a long time since I have been able to enter the kitchen to cook something new. 

So, I wave the white flag and surrender to the wedding preparation mania! And I accept that even thought I have free time left over from it (whatever little it is), I need some of it to myself and some for both of us and our families.

What I can't stop doing is reading, penning down ideas, dreaming and drooling about food. I will continue doing that and will share all my tales shortly. 

I will continue writing my weekly KYT articles for a few more weeks and maybe take a little bit of a break from them too closer to the wedding.  

Till I see you again,

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Know Your Town (Thane Vaibhav) Article: Spiced Up Parathas

My article dated 31st October in Thane Vaibhav's Know Your Town.

KYT Article 31st October 2014:Spiced Up Parathas

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Mixed Vegetable Soup Recipe

Lights. Food. Fun. Family. Festivity. The festival of Diwali brought with it wonderful celebrations this year.

The festival of Diwali calls for special food. Mom's and grandmom's get together in the kitchen to make yummy faraal of crsipy chakli, spicy chiwda, decadent laddoos, flaky karanjis... oh, such delicious food! 

It's food of festivity. It's food of family togetherness. It's food that you can't resist. It's food you HAVE to eat.    

Mixed Vegetable Soup Recipe

Now that Diwali is gone, it is time to put the stomach to a bit of rest and detox the body a little. Soups are a great way to do this!

Mixed Vegetable Soup Recipe

This mixed vegetable soups has many different types of vegetables and is full of nutrients. The browned garlic and cinnamon powder add two layers of flavours. It has very little oil and no carbs. And it is very filling. 

Mixed Vegetable Soup Recipe

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4


6 medium sized tomatoes quartered
3 medium sized onions quartered
1 cup diced yellow pumpkin
1 cup diced bottle gourd
2 carrots diced
2 tsps cinnamon powder
2 cups water divided
2 tsps oil
8-10 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1 tsp black pepper powder
Salt to taste


Pressure cook the vegetables with 1 cup of water and the cinnamon powder for about 10 minutes.

Puree this mixture to make a thick soup of it. Sieve this mixture.

In a pan heat the oil. Lower the flame and add the finely chopped garlic to it. Fry it slowly over the low flame till it turns brown.

Now add the soup mixture and mix well.

Cover and simmer on a low flame for 5 minutes for the flavour of garlic to seep through the soup.

Add the salt and pepper to taste.

Serve hot!

Friday, 17 October 2014

Know Your Town (Thane Vaibhav) Publication: Homemade Pastas

My article in KYT that appeared this Friday on making pastas at home. 

KYT Article 17th October 2014: Homemade Pastas

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Veg Coleslaw Sandwich Recipe

Creamy and crunchy. Those are the first words that come to me as I sit to write about this sandwich. And that is something I cannot move past as I think of this sandwich.

Veg Coleslaw Sandwich Recipe

But I should move on and talk a little bit about coleslaw. It is foreign to us, after all. Coleslaw is a salad made primarily of shredded raw cabbage dressed with vinaigrette. However, mayonnaise has replaced vinaigrette in many ways, so whatever coleslaw I've had till date has been dressed with mayo.

Veg Coleslaw Sandwich Recipe

I was craving some really good coleslaw day before, but I am off mayonnaise (though I use the veg version) for some time. So I  racked my brains, used some substitutions, and came up with this! A healthy, veg coleslaw sandwich recipe!

Veg Coleslaw Sandwich Recipe

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Assembly Time: 2 minutes per sandwich

Serving size: 8 sandwiches


2 cups grated cabbage
1 cup grated carrots
2 cups hung curd
1 tsp garlic paste
1/2 tsp pepper
Salt to taste

16 slices of brown bread


In a bowl mix together the hung curd, garlic paste, salt and pepper. Whip them well so they form a smooth and even dressing.

Add in the grated cabbage and carrots and mix well. The dressing should coat the vegetables well. 

Taste and adjust seasoning.

To make the sandwiches, spread a 1/2 inch thick, even layer of the coleslaw between the two breads. Cut diagonally or vertically and serve!

Saturday, 11 October 2014

New Food Beginnings

I realised something new yesterday. I am entering a new phase of cooking. And there are newer and exciting things I have to learn now.

I got engaged in May and am getting married in December. I have started cooking a bit at my to-be home too. I made my garlic dal a few days back, some mixed vegetable soup day before yesterday and aamti (dal) last night. As I have been cooking these dishes and getting feedback about them, I've realised that there are so many newer things that I have to learn about cooking for myself and other people.

I've been a lover of Indian cuisines and a lot of international ones. I've always experimented with them in my kitchen to create and eat what suits my taste palate. And not all of them are always going to be hits. The garlic dal with it's flavouring from slowly cooked garlic was a hit. But the soup (which I like a little sour) needed some onions while steaming to balance out the sourness with their sweetness.

So you see I have a lovely new learning goal coming up for my cooking. Four die-hard foodies. Some common taste preferences. Some completely different ones. Everyday cooking. And finding the right balance of tastes for all.

Oh, I'm not worried. I'm looking forward to the learning and the feedback. I know there are going to be hits and misses. It's always been a part of the game and will always be. It's finding those hits and replicating them that I am looking forward to! Because learning something new is always fun! 

Friday, 10 October 2014

Know Your Town Articles: Catching Up

I've ben completely swamped these last two weeks with shifting adn wedding preparations etc etc. So I am finally catching up on my blogging (before I rush out for some more wedding shopping!). 

I've had two more articles printed in Thane's only local newspaper's Friday supplement Know Your Town (and I have officially become a regular columnist and all!). Here they are for you!

Thai-in Up Your Kitchen on 26th September, 2014

Know Your Town (KYT) article 26 Sep 2014

Kabhi Kabhi Kadhi 3rd October 2014

Know Your Town (KYT) article 3 Oct 2014

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Top 10 Mumbai Street Foods (Vegetarian)

Mumbai is a foodie heaven. So many different cultures reside here that there is a diversity of food available here. There are dishes here that suit every taste palate. Every street food lover will find something here that he/she will really enjoy!

This is a list of my top 10 favourite Mumbai foods. Now for some wada pav to eat!

1. Wada Pav/ Vada Pav

My recipe of Wada Pav can be found here.

Wada Pav/ Vada Pav

Wada pav has often been compared to Indian burger. I disagree, strongly! Wada pav is a very unique dish in itself. Mashed potatoes are slowly cooked with ginger, garlic and basic spices. Then they're coated in a gram flour cover and deep fried till crispy. They're then served in a pav (a bread) with mint-corriander chutney or tamarind-jaggery chutney or a dry roasted garlic chutney. Each bite is poetry of soft pav, crispy spicy wada and pungent and sweet chutneys.

While any street corner will have a shop or cart selling wada pav, some of the highly recommended places in Mumbai to have wada pav are Ashok wada pav (near Kirti College, Prabhadevi), Anand wada pav (Vile Parle), Aram Milk bar (CST) and my favourite for its amazing chutney Gajanan wada pav (Vishnu Nagar, Thane). 

2. Pani Puri

Pani Puri
Image from:

Golden crispy puris are slightly broken on the top.  They'refilled with boiled ragda (white chickpea), boiled potatoes, boondi (gram flour fried balls), tamarind and jaggery chutney. The whole puri is then dunked in pungent and sour mint water. Open your mouth wide and pout the entire puri in. And then let the juices flow!

You can have a wonderful version of this firecracker of a dish at Elco (Hill Road, Bandra), Prashant Corner (Panchpakhadi, Thane), Sindhi pani puri house (Chembur). 

3. Frankie

My recipe of veg frankie can be found here.

Veg Frankie Recipe
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.

There are Tibbs outlets all across Mumbai that I would recommend. Their Dadar outlet opposite Shivaji Park is still one of the best places to eat it at! 

4. Pav Bhaji

My recipe of Pav Bhaji can be found here.

Mumbai Pav Bhaji

The Mumbai Pav Bhaji is a very famous dish that needs no introduction. The bhaji is a mixture of mashed vegetables cooked with onions, garlic, tomatoes and specific spices for a long, long time in a kadhai or the thick iron tawa. Pav is a special bread which is roasted with a big dollop of butter just before serving, so that when you pick it up the butter just drips from it. Eat it with your fingers, lick them, repeat! 

For me, pav bhaji is only the one at Cannon Pav Bhaji (opposite CST station). Other places serving good pav bhaji are Sardar Pav Bhaji (Tardeo), Amar Juice Center (Vile Parle West), and Shiv Sagar (Opp Singhania school, Thane).

5. Dosa

Paneer Schezwan Dosa

Be it the classic dosa or dosa with a twist, Mumbai takes dosa to another level! The picture above is that of a paneer schezwan dosa, where the vegetables, boiled noodles and paneer are cooked with schezwan sauce, tomato ketchup, chilly sauce, soy sauce and vinegar on the dosa as it cooks itself. And then this is served on the side. Who'd have thought of flavouring dosa like this?

For your classic dosas go to any Udipi in and around Matunga and King's Circle like Madras Cafe, Ramashray and Mani's. The Mumbai version of dosas can be found at Khau Galli Dosawala (Vallabh Bag lane, Ghatkopar East), the dosa waala outside the amin gate of Kalina campus of University of Mumbai, and Vikas Complex Dosa Waala (near Vikas Complex, Thane).

6. Indian Chinese

My recipe of Hakka noodles can be found here

Veg Hakka Noodles
Like with other cuisines, we Indians have our own spicy version of Chinese cuisine called Indian Chinese. You'll find this version of Chinese on roadsides as well as in fancy restaurants all over Mumbai. Hot spicy Manchow soup with fried noodles, crispy Manchurian balls, salty and tangy Hakka Noodles, punjent Schezwan Rice, sweet and sour American Chopsuey are names that will make any Indian salivate. We love this version of Chinese and are pulled to it again and again.

7. Mumbai Sandwich

Mumbai Sandwich, Image from :

Mumbai sandwich with it's pungent corriander-mint chutney, vegetable filling and unique way of toasting using a hand toaster on an open flame is another famous street food in Mumbai. A sandwich is something that can be eaten any time of the day, and hence you'll always find large crowds outside sandwich stalls throughout the day.

One of my most favourite places to eat a Mumbai sandwich is the sandwich stall outside St. Xavier's college. He makes sandwiches with the most delightful fillings like spinach cheese, navratna kurma, chhole, maggi. You name it and he might just have a sandwich version of it!

8. Ragda Pattice

My recipe of Ragda pattice can be found here 

Ragda Pattice Recipe
Delhi may have it's aloo tikki, but Mumbai's ragda pattice can give it a run for it's money any day! A soft yet crsipy aloo patty is served topped with a spicy white chickpea curry and tangy, sweet and pungent (yes all at the same time) chutneys, onions, crunchy sev and corriander leaves. That's a mouthful of ragda pattice for you!

9. Misal Pav

Misal Pav

Misal Pav is another street food you shouldn't miss in Mumbai. In this dish soft unroasted pavs are served with a garlicky, onion-y, tomato-ey, spiced curry of legumes like moong and matki topped with crunchy salty farsaan and chopped tomatoes and onions. Dip the pav in the gravy and gobble it up. Follow it up with a spoonful of the misal topped with farsan. Heaven!

10. Thalipeeth

My recipe of thalipeeth can be found here. 

Thalipeeth Recipe

This one is an unusual choice and may not usually appear on Mumbai street food conventional lists. However this is something you should definitely try if you are in Mumbai! Thalipeeth is flatbread made by flattening dough made of a flour of slow roasted pulses with onions, chillies and corriander with your fingers on a tawa and then shallow frying it. It is crisp on the outside yet soft on the inside and has a lovely melody of tastes from the flours, onion and corriander. 

Monday, 29 September 2014

Lebanese Style Chickpea Salad Recipe

I'm back from the land of tikkhat (pungent) shev bhaji, smoky flavoured bharit (roasted brinjal mash), and sweet creamy badam shake. I've been to Jalgaon for a long weekend to meet my brother who has moved there 2 months ago for his job. And like always, I've associated the place with it's food.

Lebanese Style Chickpea Salad
 Before I left for the trip, I came up with this lovely salad recipe. A refreshing Lebanese style chickpea salad. It can be put together quickly and makes for a good mains or even a starter.

Lebanese Style Chickpea Salad
The smooth creaminess of the yoghurt plays well with the sharp flavour from the garlic. Added to this are the hints of nuttiness from the tahini paste that surprise your tastebuds and comfort them!

Lebanese Style Chickpea Salad
Lebanese Style Chickpea Salad Recipe

Preparation Time: 8 hours (soaking time for chickpeas)

Cooking Time: 25 minutes (for pressure cooking the chickpeas and cooling them)

Assembly Time: 5 minutes

Serves: 4


For the salad

2 cups white chickpeas (kabuli chana/ chhole chana) soaked overnight
4 cups water (for cooking the chickpeas)
2 medium sized onions finely chopped

For the dressing

4 tbsps yoghurt/ curd
2 tbsps tahini paste (recipe here)
4 cloves of garlic
Salt to taste


Pressure cook the chickpeas with the water and some salt till they're done. It takes about 15 minutes.

In a blender, blend together the yoghurt (you don't need to hang it, the tahini paste thickens it enough), the garlic cloves and the salt to make the dressing.

Drain the excess water from the chickpeas and let them cool a bit.

Mix the chickpeas and the onions in the salad bowl.

Add in the dressing and let it coat the salad well. It helps to use your hands and fingers for this!

Serve fresh. I have garnished it with a few slices of pickled jalapenos. You can garnish with corriander leaves or flat parsley leaves.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Know Your Town (Thane Vaibhav) Publication: Easy Party Finger Foods

Dear Readers,

With all your love, Salt and Pepper (With a Lot of Spice!) is scaling new heights. I am now going to be a regular food columnist with Thane Vaibhav's Friday supplement Know Your Town (KYT).

Easy Party Finger Foods, KYT, Thane Vaibhav. 12th September, 2014

For more detailed recipes of the above, you can visit:

Pan-Seared Aubergines with a Yoghurt Dip:

Cheesy Sweet Corn Canapes:


Hope you'll join me on this journey and enjoy the articles!

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Singapore Food Adventures: Bubble Tea and Iced Tea with Jelly

Bubble teas were my first ever Singapore food adventure.. My to-be sister-in-law (who was my lovely host in Singapore) knows I love tea. So the day I landed and we passed by a bubble tea shop she told me, "You should definitely try this!"

Passionfruit Bubble Tea from Agantea
The best way I could find to describe a bubble tea was to call it a 'tea falooda'. Basically, it is flavoured iced tea, with or without milk, with tapioca pearls, jelly chunks, coconut-y noodles etc. This drink is meant to be sipped and chewed. It fulfills your thirst and sweet food cravings in one glass!

Lemongrass Iced Tea with Lime Jelly at Toastbox Singapore
Another interesting tea beverage I had was the lemongrass iced tea with lime jelly. It's a very simple concept. Sweet and cold lemongrass iced tea is served with thin slices of lime jelly on top. It makes for a refreshing drink for the hot and humid Singapore weather.

When you're in Singapore, switch from your regular cup of coffee to these local tea beverages for a pick-me up!

Where to Find Them? There are bubble tea shops at every corner, mall and metro station in Singapore. I personally preferred agantea for the variety of flavours and milk-less bubble teas. I had the lemongrass iced tea with lime jelly at Toastbox, a franchise selling Kaya toast and more. They have many restaurants around Singapore.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Healthy Falafel Rolls Recipe

Falafels are an integral part of the Lebanese, Palastenian, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines. Like any traditional dish, there are different versions of its recipe and preparation. The underlying similarity among them is that they are made of chickpeas. It's the herbs and spices that vary across cuisines.

Healthy Falafel Rolls Recipe
Falafels are traditionally served in a pita pocket with dips, condiments and pickles to spice it up. In my healthy version, I've shallow-fried the falafels instead of deep frying them (though the recipe remains the same if you wish to deep fry them) with little effect on the texture and wrapped them in a whole-wheat roti (an Indian unleavened bread) instead of a refined flour pita.

Healthy Falafel Rolls Recipe

Preparation Time: 8 hours (overnight soaking of chickpeas)

Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Assembly Time:  2 minutes per roll

Serves: 4


For the Falafels

2 cups chickpeas (kabuli chana) soaked overnight
1 medium onion finely chopped
2 tbsp finely chopped flat parsley
2 tsps cumin powder
2 tsps corriander powder
2 tbsps sesame seeds
1 tbsp gram flour (besan) for binding
3 tbsps olive oil
Salt to taste

For the rotis

3 cups whole wheat flour
2 tbsps whole wheat flour for sprinkling
1 1/2 cups water
1 tbsp oil

For the Lebanese Yoghurt Dip

1 cup hung curd
2 garlic cloves crushed
Salt to taste

For Serving

1 medium onion cut into thin slices
3-4 pickled jalapeno slices per roll



Cook the chickpeas in a pressure cooker till done (about 15 minutes). Drain the extra water.

In a grinder, coarsely grind the chickpeas.

Add in the onion, chopped flat parsley, cumin and corriander powder, sesame seeds, salt and gram flour and make a dry mixture.

Make 1 inch balls from the mixture, flatten them a little and shallow fry on both sides on a medium high flame. Make sure they turn golden brown on both sides to get the falafel crispiness.


Knead a pliant dough out of the wheat flour and water.

Use the oil to ensure the dough doesn't stick onto the plate or your hands. It will make for a better mixed dough.

Make a dough ball of 1 inch diameter. Sprinkle some dry whole wheat flour on the rolling suface, use a rolling pin in circular motion between both hands till you get a thin roti.

Heat a flat griddle and roast the rolled out roti on both sides till done.

Lebanese Yoghurt Dip

In a bowl mix together the hung curd, crushed garlic and salt. Whip together till you get a creamy smooth mixture.

Assembling the Rolls

Whole Wheat Rotis for Healthy Falafel Rolls
First take the roti and arrange the shallow-fried falafels on it.

Whole Wheat Rotis and Falafels for Healthy Falafel Rolls

Now add a layer of the creamy Lebanese yoghurt dip

Whole Wheat Rotis, Falafels topped with Lebanese Yoghurt dip for Healthy Falafel Rolls

Finally add in the onion slices, pickles and some parsley leaves.

Healthy Falafel Rolls

Roll it all together and serve!

Healthy Falafel Rolls

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Spiced Lettuce Cherry Tomato and Olive Salad Recipe

I am my biggest critic.

The End Result of the Salad
So when something I've made gives me this result at the end, I am the happiest!

Now let me show you what was at the beginning of this...

Spiced Lettuce Cherry Tomato and Olive Salad
Surprised? Yes! It was a salad!

Spiced Lettuce Cherry Tomato and Olive Salad
With less than 4 months to my wedding, weekend invitations for lunches and dinners from our extended family have started pouring in. So after some wonderful lunches that are quite filling, I crave for lighter meals in the week. A light and filling meal that I always turn to are salads, especially lettuce based ones. So here's a recipe I recently tried of a Spiced Lettuce Cherry Tomato and Olive Salad.

Spiced Lettuce Cherry Tomato and Olive Salad Recipe

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Assembly Time: 5 mins
Total Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 2


For the salad

15-20 iceberg lettuce leaves separated from the bunch
10 cherry tomatoes sliced in half
2 tbsps olive slices

For the dressing

1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tbsp lemon juice freshly squeezed
Salt to taste

1 tbsp Mayonnaise (eggless)
1 tbsp whole grain mustard sauce

For serving

1 tsp grated parmesan cheese (optional)


Wash the lettuce leaves thoroughly. Fill a large bowl with cold water and ice and soak iceburg lettuce leaves in it for 10 minutes to make them crispy. Remove the leaves from water and pat dry.

In a salad bowl put in the refreshed iceberg lettuce leaves, the cherry tomato halves and the olive slices.

In another bowl, mix together the Extra Virgin Olive Oil, lemon juice and the salt and stir well with a fork. Add the dressing to the salad and toss well.

Put the mayo and the mustard in small dollops on the salad such that it can be mixed with it while eating.

Sprinkled grated parmesan cheese and serve fresh!

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Singapore Food Adventures: Thai Food

Ah, to fall in love all over again!

The first time I had Thai food was at a local restaurant about 12 years back. At that time Thai food had not gained popularity in my little corner of Mumbai (Thane). So they served only two dishes, the quintessential Red Thai Curry and Green Thai Curry. I fell in love with the creamy and coconuty spiciness of the curries with the first fiery spoonful. And the love affair never stopped.

Now that I've been to Singapore with a better understanding of Thai food and more adventurous tastebuds, I've fallen in love all over again with this cuisine. These are the dishes in Thai cuisine that have made my tastebuds sing Hallelujah! 

Stir Fried Greens

Stir Fried Greens

There is one thing all of us agreed on, Thai cuisine really knows how to treat vegetables. This dish used only oil, slowly browned garlic and salt as spices. However, the main taste in the dish was the fresh, original flavour of the greens themselves. It may seem simple but it will require quite some experience to get the balance just right! 

Thai Pineapple Fried Rice
Thai Pineapple Fried Rice

This is fried rice taken to another level. Thai sticky rice is stir fried with vegetables, egg (optional), fried cashews, hint of turmeric and diced fresh pineapple. The pineapple adds a delicate fresh sweetness to this dish that is enhanced by the slight pungency of the turmeric. The vegetables and fried cashews add a crunchy texture to the rice that sticks to your teeth. And when it comes to your table served in a pineapple boat, you can't stop smiling at it!

Pad Thai

Pad Thai

Pad Thai is a popular street food. It is believed to be introduced to Thailand by Vietnamese traders. Soaked rice noodles are stir fried with bean sprouts, cut up tofu, eggs (optional), vegetables and local sauces. It has the traditional Thai taste profile with a balance of sweet, sour, pungent and salty. 

Thai Dessert: Black Glutinous Rice with Thai Mango in Vanilla Sauce

Black Glutinous Rice with Thai Mango in Vanilla Sauce

Believe it or not, the black sticky rice is black in colour naturally. There are no food colours added to it. I had seen this dessert on a food show and was intrigued by how popular a dessert made of black rice was. Now I completely understand the why! The sticky sweet rice simply melts in your mouth. Have it with the mango and vanilla sauce and there is a burst of different kinds of sweet flavours in your mouth. 

Lemongrass Juice
Lemongrass Juice

If you think lemon juice is great, you're going to flip over lemongrass juice. That's what happened to me. It has the citrusy flavour of lemons and lemongrass without the sour taste of lemons. This drink hits the right notes for me. 

Where to Eat Thai Food in Singapore?

For the Mains I found the most authentic and pocket friendly Thai food at small restaurants in the Thai quarters near Nicoll Highway. I would recommend at least one visit there. Food courts in malls or outside specialising in South East Asian cuisine also serve good Thai food. For more pricier options, Bali Thai is a great place. 

For Desserts: Honeymoon Desserts located at Bugis junction has a wide range of Thai desserts. 

Monday, 25 August 2014

Singapore Food Adventures: Turkish Food

Singapore is true multi-cultural country. It has people from many different regions across the world living there. They've managed to bring their own cultural heritage to Singapore and preserve it. You will, therefore, find a lot of different cuisines in Singapore, not just from regions of South East Asia, but beyond that too.

One of the cuisines I tried here was Turkish food. Turkish cuisine has many influences which also include Middle Eastern cuisine (think dips and Mezze platters), Mediterranean  (think olive oil and fresh vegetables), Caucasian cuisines (think kebabs and dolma).

Here's a short introduction to the foods in Turkish cuisine that I've tried.

Turkish Mezze Platter

Turkish Mezze Platter

The word mezze in Turkish means "taste, flavour, relish". Mezze Platters are usually a dish of various savoury and creamy dips and snacks served with local breads. The dips that we had were: hummus the quintessential dip made of boiled chickpeas, sesame paste (tahini), lemon juice, garlic and olive oil (for the recipe, click here)Baba Ghanoush which has roasted eggplants with sesame paste and garlic, muhammara dip made of tomatoes and green onions with spices, cacik dip of yoghurt, dried mint and cucumber etc. The platter also had a dolma (stuffed snack) of vine leaves stuffed with cooked soft rice flavoured with tangy gravy and spices. 

Lavash Bread

Lavash Bread

We had Lavash, a leavened bread that puffs up like a bhatura when cooked in the oven, to scoop up the dips in the mezze platter. The lavash bread comes topped with black sesame seeds that add a great texture to the bread.

Kebab Platter
Kebab Platter

Turkish cuisine loves it's charcoal grills and serves a wide range of succulent and spiced up kebabs. The kebabs are served like a plated meal with rice, pan-grilled vegetables, rich gravy on the kebabs and herbs and spices to top it all off.

Having had all this heavy food, we needed something to wash it off and digest it, right? So we had:


Ayran is a salty yoghurt drink, kind of like our chhas.

Turkish Mint Tea
Turkish Mint Tea

Being a tea lover I have heard a lot about Turkish mint tea and now I've had it too! Turkish people have tea at breakfast and throughout the day. The mint tea has a strongly brewed full-bodied black tea served with fresh spearmint leaves.

Where to Find Turkish Food in Singapore? Arab Street area has many great restaurants serving authentic Turkish cuisine. Here I would recommend visiting Alaturk and Nasreen.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Singapore Food Adventures: Korean Barbecue

Barbecues have always appealed to me. The smoky charcoal and the red hot grill, the skewered vegetables and meats, the sizzling sounds of the grilling and roasting, and the spicy sauces create an experience that is unparalleled!

Korean Barbecue at Singapore

Since barbecues fascinate me and I like trying out different cuisines, how could I have missed this?

The basics of Korean barbecue are the same as we know of barbecue to be. There are different skewered and marinated meats which are then grilled on an electric barbecue (I am guessing fire safety in the mall). Then it is slathered with a sweet and sour barbecue sauce with hints of paprika and cumin and a pungent chilly sauce. She asked me before putting on the chilly sauce as it is "spicy" but the Indian palate could easily go: bring on some more spice!

I was happy to see was that there were two or three vegetarian options, which to most Indian tourists abroad is like hitting jackpot!

Where to find Korean Barbecue?  I came across this stall serving Korean barbecue at the food court in the Bugis Plus Mall. 

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Punjabi Chhole Recipe for Chhole Bhature

I find it fascinating to learn about local food traditions. And one of the ways I love to do that is by talking to people and asking them questions. My curiosity and love for food ensure that most of my conversations are sprinkled with questions and discussions about food.

It was during one of these conversations with my neighbour that I found out that there are two versions of chhole. One version is the curried version with the tomato and onion gravy that is had with rice. The other is what is had in the classic street food combination of Chhole Bhature. Bhature a fried bread made of a refined flour dough fermented overnight. Bhature are best described as huge (each is at least 10 inches in diameter), soft and spongy. 

Punjabi Chhole for Chhole Bhature

This made me curious, so I asked her for the recipe of the Chhole Bhature version of chhole. It turned out to be a very easy preparation with very basic dry spices. And it has no onion or garlic, which makes it perfect for Jain eaters. The trick of the dish is to let it simmer in the pan for as long as possible to bring out the spices in the dish.

Punjabi Chhole for Chhole Bhature

Punjabi Chhole Recipe for Chhole Bhature

Preparation Time: 8 hours (to soak the chhole)

Cooking Time: 45 minutes

Serves: 4


2 cups white chickpeas
4 cups water

2 tbsps oil
3 tsps roasted cumin (jeera) powder
2 tsps turmeric powder
3 tsps red chilly powder
2 tsps garam masala powder
4 tsps corriander powder
Salt to taste

Onion rings (optional) and lemon wedges to serve


Thoroughly wash the white chickpeas under running water. Soak them in the 4 cups of water overnight for at least 8 hours.

Pressure cook the chickpeas for 4 whistles till they're done. Drain the extra water from the chickpeas.

In a saucepan (preferably iron saucepan or kadhai) heat oil.

Lower the flame and add in the roasted cumin powder and the turmeric powder. Fry for about 15 seconds.

Bring the flame to a medium high and throw in the boiled chickpeas. Give it a good stir.

Now add in all the other spices - the red chilly powder, garam masala powder and corriander powder. Add in the salt to taste. Mix all of this well with the chickpeas.

Keeping the flame at a medium high, let the chickpeas simmer with the spices for about 5 minutes, ensuring that you constantly stir them.

Lower the flame and let the chickpeas cook with the spices for another 15-20 minutes. Stir constantly so that the spices don't burn.

Serve with lemon wedges and onion rings, parathas and dhaniya kadhi

Punjabi Chhole for Chhole Bhature Paratha and Dhaniya Kadhi

Monday, 11 August 2014

Singapore Food Adventures: Indonesian Bamboo Cakes

Imagine you're walking down a narrow street in a colourful and crowded market. At its corner you see a small cart piled with colourful little steamed balls. You almost walk past it, till you see a certificate of skill in making Indonesian Bamboo Cakes displayed on the cart. Wouldn't you stop and try it?

That's exactly what happened to me! And that was the day I tasted these delectable Indonesian Bamboo Cakes.

Indonesian Bamboo Cakes at a Street Cart in China Town Singapore

I ordered a mix of the available flavours in the Bamboo Cakes and got this box for $2 only! These bamboo cakes are made of palm sugar, cardamom and coconut wrapped in a rice flour paste. They are then steamed in bamboo pipes.

The steamed cakes have a very delicate texture. The palm sugar, coconut and jaggery add on to the mild nutty flavour of the steamed rice flour making it a delicious dish to eat.

Oh, and these are completely vegetarian, so no worries there for all vegetarians!

Where to Find Indonesian Bamboo Cakes? I found them in the Chinatown market. If you get down at the Chinatown MRT station, walk down as the road goes and take the first right where the eateries start, you'll see this at the corner of the street going towards the right. 

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Singapore Food Adventures: Breakfast Like A Local

Let's start at the very beginning,
A very good place to start
                                - The Sound of Music

As I was thinking about what should I write first about from all the crazy food adventures I've had in Singapore, the notes of this song played in my head and I said, why not? So here I am starting at the beginning, the first meal of the day: breakfast!

A breakfast that is close to the Singaporeans' hearts is Kaya Butter Toast with some Kopi (coffee) or Teh (tea) to dip it in.

Kaya Thick Toast with Kopi at Toast Box Singapore

Kaya is a spread made by slow cooking coconut milk, sugar and eggs till the sugar caramelises giving a golden colour and rich taste to the spread. Kaya toast can be made using a thick toast or two thin slices of bread. In both versions, there is a thick slab of salted butter and a thick layer of kaya, either on top or between the two slices. The slightly salted buttery taste brings out the caramelised sweetness of the kaya on the toast.

Kopi or coffee is a local coffee blend that makes a strong brew. It is served with evaporated milk (think condensed milk, minus some of the sugar) which makes lends a distinctively delicious taste and consistency to the coffee.

If you ever go to Singapore, do breakfast like a local!

Where to Find Kaya Toast and Kopi? Small tea shop and eateries selling Kaya toast and kopi are everywhere. Just walk into one of these and enjoy the authentic experience. There are also chains of brands like Toast Box located in malls or individually around Singapore that serve Kaya Toast too.