Thursday, 23 January 2014

Fettucine in Pesto Sauce

Yesterday I went crazy (read: shopping) at the Crawford Market with my best friend who has come down from New Zealand for a visit.

Shopping at Crawford Market
Shopping at Crawford Market yesterday!

I got a lot of fresh herbs - parsley, Italian basil and Thai basil, quality cheeses - Kraft Cheddar and Kraft grated Parmesan, pasta - Fettucine, sauces- Thai Sweet Chilly Sauce and Hershey's chocolate sauce, and Morde's dark and white chocolate compound from there without putting a big dent in my wallet. And now comes the best part... menu planning and cooking it all!

I picked up two packets of Italian basil for making (surprise surprise) my favourite pesto sauce. I also found the Fettucine (flat noodle pasta) that I have been looking for for quite some time and decided to put the two together into a quick pasta dish for a late lunch today - Fettucini in Pesto Sauce.

Fettucine in Pesto Sauce

Fettucine in Pesto Sauce

Fettucine in Pesto Sauce

Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4


 For the Pasta

250gms Fettucine pasta (if you can't find it Spaghetti or Fusilli will do just as well)
2 litres water
1 tsp salt

For the Pesto Sauce

20-25 leaves Italian basil (2 packets)
5 walnuts deshelled
5 cloves of garlic
2 tbsps olive oil 
1 tbsp grated Parmesan (optional)

For the Final Dish

2 tbsps olive oil
Cooked pasta
2 tbsps pesto sauce
30 ml milk (optional)
30 ml cream (optional)
Salt to taste
2 tsps grated Parmesan to garnish (optional)


Cooking the Pasta

Put the pasta to cook first as it takes the longest to cook. Add the salt to the water and bring it to a boil. 

Put the pasta in and let it cook for 9-11 minutes on the high flame till it is al dente (basically just underdone such that it sticks to the teeth while chewing). Drain and keep.

Pesto Sauce

For making the pesto sauce, first grind the walnuts and the garlic in the mixer. The walnuts will break down faster and better this way so that you don't have to keep grinding for long or risk having chunks of walnuts in it. 

Put in the Italian basil next and grind till the leaves break down to a chutney-like texture. 

If you like the Parmesan cheese and are adding it now would be a good time to do it. Blitz till it is incorporated into the rest of the mixture.

Add in the olive oil last and blitz till it all comes together into a smooth paste.

You can store this in the refrigerator for at least two weeks if you have additional pesto. It makes for a good sandwich spread.

The Final Dish

Heat the olive oil in a pan. 

Put in the cooked pasta.

Add in the pesto sauce and salt and stir well till it coats all the pasta.

You can serve now with grated Parmesan cheese or add in the milk and cream if you wish it creamier. 

Fettucine in Pesto Sauce garnished with Grated Parmesan

I served it with my favourite Tomato Mozzarella Salad to make it a complete meal! It took 30 minutes and was a wonderful break from dal-chawal-roti-sabzi!

My lunch today!

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Indian Spices: Haldi (Turmeric)

Turmeric- haldi, halud, haldar... it is named differently in different Indian languages. But you'll definitely find a name for it in all Indian languages because it is found in every Indian kitchen.

Turmeric powder

Dried turmeric powder is the most common form of turmeric found in each kitchen. It is the powdered form of the aromatic root (rhizome) of a plant grown both in India and West Indies. It has a characteristic golden-yellow colour and a slightly bitter, peppery, peculiar mustard-like aroma.

In Indian cooking, turmeric is used in all curries, meat and lentil preparations across the various regional cuisines. Apart from being a natural food colour that adds a deep yellow colour to curries, it is a natural anti fungal and antibiotic because of which it is added in small quantities to all food preparations.

Turmeric has many health benefits too. Firstly, it has found to be very effective for maintaining a beautiful glow on skin and curing various skin ailments because of its anti-fungal and anti-microbial properties. From time immemorial brides and grooms have had a 'haldi' ceremony before the wedding where a paste made of turmeric, sandalwood and other natural beautifying agents is applied to give the skin a golden glow. It has also been used as an anti-inflammatory agent to treat a wide variety of stomach, liver and other related difficulties in traditional Indian medicine. There are also medical trials being conducted to test its impact on preventing and treating various types of cancer. 

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Dal Fry

It was a cold winter's evening about five years back. We had thrown a small surprise party for my mom's best friend and her husband who were celebrating their 25th anniversary that day. We had gotten a cake and some great food (Paneer tikka masala and some starters) from a restaurant we all love. And I had committed to make my best dish (then) Dal Fry for all.

At around 8 in the evening, aunty's son-in-law (jiju) and my brother came home with all the food from the restaurant. We took our plates and served all the food. We had the first few bites, and then jiju turned to my brother and asked, "Did you order the dal fry? I do not remember ordering it..." I had a huge smile on my face as I tell him, "No, I made this at home". The sound of great laughter followed!

Dal Fry

This memory is so clearly etched in my memory that whenever I make this Dal Fry, I am reminded of those words.

Homemade Dal Fry

Dal Fry

Preparation Time:
2 hours (including soaking time for the lentils)
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes

Serves: 4


2 cups cup toor dal
4 cups water

For the dal

2 tbsps peanut/ sunflower/ olive oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp asafoetida powder
2-3 dried red Kashmiri chillies
1 medium tomato finely chopped
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red chilly powder
2 tsps corriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
2 tsps garam masala powder
Salt to taste

For the second tempering

1 tbsp peanut/ sunflower/ olive oil
2 tbsps ghee (clarified butter)
2 green chillies thickly sliced
8-10 cloves of garlic finely chopped
15-20 fresh corriander leaves finely chopped


Soak the toor dal in the 3 cups of water. Pressure cook with another cup of water apart from the water already in the dal till it is cooked through.

In a deep pan, heat 2 tbsps oil.

Temper with the cumin seeds, the asafoetida and the dried red Kashmiri chillies.

Add in the chopped tomatoes and the turmeric powder, the red chilly powder, the corriander powder, the cumin powder and the garam masala. Fry the tomatoes and the masalas till they release the oil.

Now pour in the cooked dal and add salt. Stir it in well.

Lower the flame to simmer, cover the dal and cook for another 10 mins till the masalas seep into the dal.

In a small pan, heat the oil and ghee for the second tempering. Add in the garlic first, then the green chilly and the corriander last. Fry for about 30 seconds and pour over the dal.

Cover and cook with the second tempering for another 5 minutes.

Garnish with corriander leaves and serve hot with rice, jeera rice or rotis.

Dal Fry with the second tempering


Monday, 13 January 2014

Salt Pepper and Spice Tip #1

When you cook a lot, read greedily about food or spend hours with experts in the kitchen, you learn a lot of small and big things - what we often call tips. Here is my attempt to capture all this knowledge that goes beyond recipes - the Salt Pepper and Spice Tips

I will begin this series with my most favourite tip of all times about food and cooking!

Stay tuned for more Salt Pepper and Spice Tips! 

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Pink Guava Curry- An Adapted Recipe

Hello, again! I am back!

It has been a lovely vacation with loved ones, full of food adventures and lazing around doing nothing more than eating, sleeping, reading and chatting. The reading also included a lot of food-related reading and thinking which has helped me bookmark or write down a whole selection of recipes I want to try or haven't written about yet. With all of these ideas buzzing around in my head, my fingers are itching to cook and write!

I came across the BBC Good Food India magazine when travelling back from my vacation and I have read it twice already from cover to cover. They had a whole write-up on recipes with pink guavas that are in season currently. I enjoyed this article immensely, especially because they had only one dessert recipe and the rest were all great savoury dishes. 

Pink Guava Curry: Doing Something New

The recipe idea that I really liked among the others was the pink guava curry. However, it had jaggery to sweeten it a little, which I don't like, despite being a Gujju. So I change a few ingredients and the steps in cooking (like adding the curd at the end) and made a slightly different and quite yummy version of this recipe. 

Pink Guava Curry

Pink Guava Curry Up-Close

Here is the adapted recipe as I made it in my kitchen.

Pink Guava Curry - An Adapted Recipe

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

Serves: 4


2 tbsps oil (peanut/ sunflower/ olive)
1 tsp mustard seeds 
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp asafoetida
6-8 curry leaves
1 green chilly sliced into 3-4 pieces
1 medium sized tomato chopped
3 semi-ripe pink guavas deseeded and diced into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup warm water
3 tbsps curd
1 tsp red chilly powder
1 1/2 tsp garam masala
Salt to taste

Fresh corriander to garnish


In a pan heat the oil and temper with the mustard seeds, the cumin seeds and the fennel seeds.

When they begin to crackle, add in the asafoetida and curry leaves. 

Once the curry leaves start to splutter, add in the green chilly and fry it for 30 seconds till it splutters. 

Add in the tomatoes and saute them till they soften and start releasing the oil. Keep stirring the tomatoes to prevent them from sticking to the pan. 

Now add in the pink guavas and stir them so that the tempered tomatoes mix evenly with them. 

Lower the flame, pour in the warm water, and cover and let it simmer for about 5 minutes till the guavas cook through. the best way to check is to use the edge of the stirring spoon to cut through a couple of pieces. If they give in easily, then the guavas are cooked. If they are hard, cover and simmer for another 2-3 minutes till they cook through.

After the guavas cook, tip in the curd, the garam masala and the salt. Keep the flame lowered as cooking the curd on high heat will lead it to sour quickly.

Add in the garam masala and season with the salt. Give it a quick stir to mix well.

Garnish with fresh corriander and serve hot!