Sunday, 28 December 2014

Palak ki Chaat

Today I am at a loss for words. It is not the writer's block that I am going through, rather a personal conflict is making me hold back. The cold is intensifying, both outside and inside. And it doesn't help that the fire is dying. Perhaps, a little kindling of the fire is in order to warm things up.

If the kindling is taking time, the best way to cope up with the cold is to embrace it and all that it brings with it. Because every season holds something good, like winters in India are loaded with fresh, crisp greens. I wouldn't be overstating if I said many of us await winters for the green goodness it brings along. However, unless you know how to use these greens, you will be only cursing the harsh winters, much like in life when you fail to acknowledge the good in it only because you are busy fiddling with all that went wrong.

Today's recipe is an assembly of winter fresh spinach leaves that are crisp and golden, which takes a detour from the usual gravies and salads. Topped with smooth sweetened curds, and tangy tamarind and date sauce, this Palak ki Chaat is the perfect recipe for a quick evening snack or a prepare ahead party snack. 

I like the way it's sheer ease and simplicity give it the much deserved elegance and attraction. When served on a platter, the ensemble speaks to the eyes that behold it with as much force as the dripping decadence speaks to the palette. 

The cold is a matter of time and it will pass away, but so will the greens if you choose to let them be swayed away in the winds. Hold on to the good and cherish it while it lasts.

Enjoy the recipe.


Gram flour- 1 cup
Water- 1 and a half cup
Salt to taste
Fresh spinach leaves- 400 gm
Sweetened curd- 1 cup
Tamarind sauce- 1/4 cup
Salt and red chilly powder to taste
Oil for deep frying


Wash spinach leaves thoroughly and remove stems, leaves a about 2 inches of stalk to hold. Avoid using small leaves.

In a bowl, make a slurry of gram floor with water, adding salt to taste. The slurry should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Heat oil for deep frying.

Dip spinach leaves one by one in gram flour slurry and put in hot oil. Don't crowd the oil. Fry only about 4-5 leaves at one time. Deep fry till leaves turn a dark shade of green.

Let cool down.

For assembling:

Take 3-5 leaves in a bowl and top with sweetened curd. Drizzle some tamarind sauce. 

Sprinkle some salt and red chilly powder if desired.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

One-Pot Broccoli & Peas Pasta

Here's a wave to all pasta lovers, so I am waving at myself too. I am waving in glee with this super awesome One-pot Broccoli and Peas Pasta that I just treated myself with. It's creamy, it's tasty and it's so easy to make that it's almost disheartening to miss.

One-pot pastas are a rage over the internet and I would be surprised if they weren't because these recipes take cooking of pastas to a level of surreal ease that must only be met with gratitude. And I am merely a humble lover of pasta who chose to display her gratitude with this easy recipe that is a result of ogling at various pasta recipes in various brilliant food blogs.

I am given to understand that most people stay away from broccoli and I don't understand why. It is a perfectly fine vegetable, pretty and green and everything and they say it's healthy too. I didn't have broccoli until after school when I moved to a city for college. I remember a few of us girls had gone to this restaurant called Moksha in Nagpur and I was elated to find something new in my food. I ate all the broccoli while my friends decided to disregard it and one of my friends painted her nails very coolly ignoring the whole yes and no broccoli chatter on the table and waited for her order.

O.K. That's enough reminiscing.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Leaves of Radish- A Rustic Stir Fry

Snowy white, fresh radishes are in season and the vegetable markets are full of them. Set in piles, these radishes resemble little white mountains from the front. Go around the back of these mountains and you will see little green mountains made of lush, crisp radish leaves.

I find myself a bit different from most people I know, in terms of a taste palette. A good kind of different. I grew up in a household where kids weren't allowed the privilege of moody meals. Not that I made a fuss, it wouldn't have made a difference if I did, except when sick. And today I am thankful that I didn't grow up to be a picky eater; I dread the scenario where I would have missed many brilliant flavors.

My region of India is known for its production of rice. We are big time rice eaters, as is apparent from my love for rice. But what many people do not know about Chhattisgarh is that it is also home to numerous varieties of green leafy vegetables. I know most of them and yet come across many new leaves that I haven't heard of before and don't know how to cook. The ones I know about is because I come from an old line of dwellers of the state and have spent my entire life being fed humble, rustic editions of these green delights that are the recipes of my grandma, now 90.

Living in a town or state doesn't mean that one will know all about its cultures and traditions and secret recipes. But I pity those who don't try to learn and remain ignorant. I used to be very surprised when I was young that many of my friends didn't know about most of the recipes I so fondly adored. I learned later it was because their moms had come from different cultures and so they didn't know the magic of those recipes. But then, my mom came from an altogether different lifestyle too, and I am glad that she adapted to her new surroundings. She learned all that my grandmother taught her in the kitchen and also mixed her own style to it. It is so endearing to watch my mom ask my grandmother for instructions for some old recipe even today. My upbringing matters to me. I do not want any part of my culture, however small, to slip into oblivion. I may not be able to help every cause, but I will do what I can and this recipe here is one such effort.

I picked the leaves of radish for this post today for two main reasons. One, radish is in season, and two, it is available everywhere in India and elsewhere so you cannot nag me about availability. It is rather a very humble recipe but since radish leaves are usually thrown away, the fact that it is a recipe dedicated to the leaves makes it interesting and different.

The flavor profile of radish leaves isn't much different from that of the radish itself, sharp and tangy, slightly bitter too. The leaves are coarse and cannot be used in in a salad or in a sandwich as such. I do however hope that this recipe will multi task as a stuffing for parathas and sandwiches. I enjoyed it today with my staple diet, chapati and dal and of course rice. Every time I have something like this, it gets me in a similar mood as today and I feel proud of my rustic-chic palette that I acquired from my home and from living in different cities in the country. But most of all I think it was possible only because I am open to various flavors without bias and prejudice. Everything I can eat, I will eat and I will remember.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Eggless Vanilla Cake with Christmas Special Icing

There's a chill in the breeze and Christmas prep everywhere. Christmas really rings the holiday bells and reminds me of the time when I was a kid in school and eagerly waited for the winter holidays; not much has changed in that regard. It is still the best time of the year and one cannot help but be enveloped in the much awaited joy that spills all around Christmas time.

With less than 10 days to go, the homes, the streets, the shops are all decorated in the familiar red and green, white and gold. Meanwhile the blogosphere too is abuzz with Christmas greetings, holiday ideas, Diys and my favorite of all Christmas special recipes. There is a whole lot of awesome Christmas special recipes being posted by food bloggers all over the world and I wanted to be a part of it, too.

Traditional Christmas recipes are numerous and fabulous, however, sometimes a simple idea can give your year round favorite recipe a Christmas flavor. This post today is in that spirit. For my Christmas celebrations, I decided to go for my easy, simple, fail proof vanilla sponge cake recipe and dressed it up for Christmas in white, red and green.I didn't really have to make much effort but the beauty I had in the end was remarkable. For a while I didn't even want to slice my cake, but what needs to be done needs to be done, right?

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Microwave Carrot Rice

It is becoming increasingly difficult for me to go without posting a rice recipe in a whole week. It is as if the more I love rice and show it by 'monging" it, the more it loves me back by presenting itself to me in new ways and today it is a Carrot Rice, the microwave way.

I don't cook rice in microwave much. This recipe was told to me by my aunt and it was so simple, so elegant, so flavorful that I almost squeezed her in delight. (Yeah! I squeeze people!) It is probably the most austere of all rice recipes I know..umm.. may be it's a close competitor of my Clove Rice in that respect. You should check it out too if you like this one. 

It is carrot season and when it is carrot season you've got to use carrots. Makes sense, right? A carrot rice is possibly the most that could be done with carrots after carrot halwa, soups and salads. But knowing me, you'd probably not object if I kept Carrot Rice at the top of the list. 

Colorful rice recipes are always a winner when it comes to a get together or even for a special Sunday meal. Most of the times color to rice is imparted by use of various vegetables like bell peppers, peas, corns etc. and carrots too, like in this Colorful Bell Peppers Veg Fried Rice, but all that can become a bit a demanding especially if you are short of ingredients in your pantry. That's when comes to rescue this one ingredient that does all the work that goes into making a colorful rice. And the best part is that it actually releases its colour in the water in which it is cooked, thus giving the dish a beautiful hue without an ounce of effort.

I think this is the beginning of my microwave love for cooking rice. It is so simple and easy and light. I am going to try more simple flavors like this one. What color should I go for next? Green??

Friday, 5 December 2014

Thick and Creamy Tomato Soup

A winter eve, a tomato soup and a good book.

This morning I woke up begrudgingly, not wanting to come out of the warm cocoon my quilt had turned into during the night. This, and me having overslept, confirmed the onset of winters.

Last week I attended a family wedding and ate all the fat and carbohydrate rich food that are an important part of Indian weddings. So I have been taking a break and trying to compensate by opting for healthier options, mostly fruits and vegetables and milk. Add to it a crazy busy schedule and then it becomes easier for me tell you that I haven't been cooking much. 

But today was different. It was cold, I wanted something warm and healthy and I had the time for it. I couldn't think of anything other than a tomato soup, a thick and creamy tomato soup. It was easy simultaneously work and cook this because of the cooking intervals. And honestly, it doesn't even require too much work. A little chopping, a little sautéing and a little boiling. That's all it takes.

I had a version of a tomato soup at the wedding, which I could only call tomato water. I am one who doesn't mind whether my soup is thin, thick or creamy. But I am picky about the flavors. I don't have to tell you where that tomato water went. 

This tomato soup that I made today is of a moderate consistency and can be easily thinned down or thickened by adjusting the quantity of the vegetable stock used. I didn't use any thickener. I didn't need to. It was perfect the first time I checked it for seasoning, to my absolute delight.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Fresh Guava Salad

A guava salad.

Any other day, I wouldn't even have thought of it. But today, I had in my possession what I can only call the best guavas I have ever had. Being one who prefers being oblivious to guavas in the fruit markets, fruits seller's cart or in the fruit basket at home, these guavas definitely had some mettle to make me hail them. I had only gone to the kitchen to get some water and I saw these large, beautiful, fresh looking guavas sitting on the kitchen counter. Well, I don't like guavas but others in my family do.

It was about time for lunch and I thought I would make a salad. And I did. The usual cucumber, onions and tomatoes salad. But all the while I kept eyeing the guavas. Call me crazy, but I thought they were smiling and staring at me. Finally, I picked one and decided to slice it for lunch, too. As I began slicing, I took a bite. And that's when all changed.

The guava was perfect, and I am not overstating. It was fresh and full of soft watery crunch and had the kind of sweetness that comes only with perfectly ripened fruits. Without a doubt, it was the best of guavas. I might have seen a white light with that bite. I don't remember. But that's when I decided that this sweet freshness deserves a salad.

And I didn't need much. I did not have to do anything complicated. I didn't have to whip up a fancy salad dressing, just a little bit of seasoning. All I had to do was find something that would match the freshness of these fruits. That's how came the sweet limes in the picture. And I added a few home made sun dried cherry tomatoes, well, they were almost dried.

The result was this gorgeous salad I never thought I would make.

On an unrelated note, I think I am becoming much salad savvy these days. Huh! Good for me.

Guava, diced - 1 cup
Sweet lime, peeled and chopped into bite sized pieces- 1 nos.
A few sun dried cherry tomatoes
Kosher salt to taste
Red chilly flakes to taste


Toss all ingredients together in a bowl.


Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Besan wali Pyaz

Certain recipes taunt us from the memory . They sit there and laugh at us while we rack our brains to find something new to eat. They secretly smirk at our good natured foolhardiness and wait patiently until we realise that an old recipe, like an ancient artefact dug out of ruins, becomes new when pulled out from the deep recesses of memory.

I am mulling over this today because this recipe here was one such smirking little snob until I decided to bring it out in the open for everyone to see and put an end to its enigmatic condescension.

LOL! Looks like I have stretched my metaphor too far. Let's talk like normal people would about their food.

This recipe here today is a very simple process of caramelising onions with chickpea flour and spices. It is a recipe I think I prepared after 3 years, hence the ancient artefact metaphor. It used to be my favorite "go to" recipe when I was short on time, vegetables and energy. It is actually a preparation from my mom's kitchen. I used to love having it for lunch in school. Granted, it's a comparatively dry preparation and didn't really sit well with only parathas in the tiffin, but the heart wants what the heart wants, or in this case, the tongue.

I cannot recall what triggered me to take up this recipe today, nevertheless, God bless it! Today's meal with this Besan wali Pyaz not only broke a rut but also brought a refreshing bout of happy memories.

You will enjoy this most with hot, buttered chapatis and a good dal like this Yellow Dal Fry.
I like it with rice too. And at times I have also used it as a filling for grilled sandwiches and stuffed parathas. It never disappoints.


Onions- 2 cups, sliced
Besan (Chickpea flour)- 1 cup
Mustard seeds- 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
Red chilly powder- 1 tsp
Coriander powder- 1 tbsp
Garam masala powder- 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Oil- 1/4 cup


Dry roast chickpea flour. Set aside. 

Heat oil in a pan.

Add mustard seeds.

When spluttered, add onions and little salt.

Cook covered on low flame until transparent and soft.

Now add roasted chickpea flour and all powdered spices.

Mix well and cook for another 5-7 minutes.

Serve hot.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Eggless Chocolate Cake (Vegan)

What's better than the smell of a cake baking in the oven? It's the smell of a chocolate cake baking in the oven.

I have taken to consuming too much chocolate lately, especially in caked and baked goods. This eggless chocolate cake recipe today is a result of that slowly shaping addiction. I had been craving a chocolate cake since I was sick last week. I waited until my sister came home for her semester break and then we baked this cake together as I measured, sifted and mixed ingredients together, preheated the oven and put the cake to bake and she sat in the kitchen watching the latest episodes of Castle on my laptop. She is usually a sweet little help, but this time she said that she would help only if I let her do the batter mixing and pouring it in the cake pan and not just fetching me the whip or greasing the pan. I weighed my options and let her stare on the laptop screen.

I caught a whiff of my chocolate cake after about 20 minutes of baking. I excitedly asked her if she could smell it too. She cringed her nose and shook her head. Finally I went to take the cake out of the oven and that was when she said that she could smell it. And I thought the one who cooks is generally the last to smell his dish.

The cake was beautifully risen and spongy. I let it cool and set about making arrangements to click it. I always have to overcome the temptation of trying to take the cake out of the pan before it cools down. There's nothing like warm cakes, and this one was a chocolate cake of all things!

I think no matter how many cakes I bake, I will always feel the same excitement while taking a knife to it. It is an unspoken reward to find your cake perfectly baked, soft and stiff at the same time. No gooey thing sticking to the knife. It is satisfaction on a deeper level than just having a cake. I understood this when I started baking.

This is an easy recipe to remember and to put together. Enjoy this cake.

P.S. This one was all gone before I began writing this post!


Flour- 1 and a half cups
Baking soda- 1tsp
Salt- 1/2 tsp
Cocoa powder- 3 tbsp
Sugar- 1 cup
Water- 1 cup
Oil- 1/3 cup
Lemon juice- 1 tsp
Vanilla extract- 1 tsp


Preheat oven at 180 degree C.

Sift first four ingredients together in a bowl, twice.

In another bowl, dissolve sugar in water. Add oil, lemon juice and vanilla. Stir well.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir to form a batter. Do not over mix. Avoid lumps.

The batter will not be very thick.

Pour batter into a greased 7" cake pan and tap it on kitchen counter to remove any bubbles.

Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Take out  of the oven and let cool in the pan before removing it.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Apple Cinnamon Smoothie

I don't drink tea in the morning, like most Indians do. I don't drink coffee in the morning, like most Americans do. And I stay miles away from drinking milk too, during any time of the day. So last week when I was supposed to catch an early morning train home after I had stayed the night at my aunt's in another town, she didn't know what to make me have before I left. I told her that I didn't need anything and that eating so early in the morning makes me kind of sick. But she would hear none of it. She wanted me to have parathas of all things! After some more resistance from my side, finally she sternly asked me to wait for 5 minutes and then have whatever she gave me without speaking a word, or she wouldn't let me go. I had no choice but to oblige.

And was I glad I did! As I waited, all I heard was a blender whir in the background for only a few seconds and then a glass being placed on the kitchen counter. A moment later she appeared in front of me holding a tray with a glass full of what looked like milk to me from afar. I pulled a long face. I mean a really long face. And then she smiled and handed me the glass. I reluctantly took it and looked at what I thought was milk. It was then that I saw it wasn't milk. Well, I mean there was milk in it but it was a smoothie. Made me a little happy. Then I took a sip. I was happier. It was an apple smoothie. I grinned at her. She looked smug.

I am not much for fruits or milk but together they are my thing. Having that apple smoothie then I decided to make this post. Now, my aunt's version was different than this one. It was a humble, delicious smoothie made of only apples and milk, some sugar may be. For mine, I decided to take it a level further.

Those who know me know that I love cinnamon. So it shouldn't be a surprise that I added cinnamon to my apple smoothie. Then there's vanilla. And that's about enough for and come to think of it , about a healthy breakfast apple cinnamon smoothie.

Here's the recipe. Enjoy!


Full cream milk- 1 cup
Peeled and chopped apples- 1 cup
Sugar- 1 tbsp (optional)
Vanilla extract- 3-4 drops
Cinnamon powder- 1/2 tsp


Take all ingredients and blend together smooth,

Sprinkle some cinnamon powder.

Pour into a glass and serve.

Friday, 21 November 2014

DIY Savory Indian Snack Mix

Having been terribly sick over the week, I realised this contrary to popular belief, "when sick, you will do all things except the things you would love to". Cooking, in this instance, which explains why I have been unable to post anything here.

Over the week, being propped up on medication which made me sleepy, I had to manage writing articles for clients among other editing and proofing work. I am sure the way I would look at my laptop screen would fetch me the nickname "Squinto" had my friends been around. Nevertheless, I did the work as and when I could but what I desperately missed was cooking. I knew it would make me feel better. I kept imagining various flavors in my mouth and wanted to cook but all energy I had was spent on staring at the laptop screen and moving the fingers on the keyboard.

That was until this morning when I woke up feeling slightly better and decided it was time to create something for myself. Well, a smaller part of this determination was due to my feeling better and the larger part was due to me wanting to have my favorite snack mix that is made of beaten rice. It helped that the recipe did not require much effort. I was sick and I was craving a particular thing. Could you blame me?

It was pure luck that I had all things available. Oh well! It's a snack mix. There are no hard and fast rules about what to add and how much to add. So when I say all things were available, it is because I did not have to be stuck because of a missing ingredient. That's what I like most about snack mixes.

This particular snack mix is probably the humblest version of a snack mix I could create and though I had my doubts, it proved to be one of the best and easiest snack mixes. I am munching on it as I write. It is a pleasure, indeed. But I am squinting again and feel like the fever is catching up to me again. I better finish this fast.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Clove Rice

It's Sunday afternoon and I am writing post lunch. A big, delicious, lazy Sunday lunch. To be honest, I feel like dozing off. This reminds me of my days back in college. The hostel mess had a fixed daily menu and on Sundays we got jeera rice and chhole with raita and a sweet of some kind. And I still harbour this suspicion that our Sunday lunches used to be spiked because as soon as we had lunch we would be engulfed by sleep. I mean it would take literally 10 minutes to fall asleep, no matter what time we woke up that morning and then we used to wake up as if from an unconscious state and sometimes with drool on the pillow.

Today my lunch was the same menu except for one item. I decided to go for my new favorite, clove rice. I love jeera rice but there were two reasons to make this switch today. One, I wanted a change in flavor and two, I wanted to share it with you guys.

Rice is my weak spot and every now and then I want to do something with it that isn't too complex and does not involve a lot of labour. Decidedly, this clove rice has become my favorite rice with whole spices. It has a brilliant neat flavor and all with just one simple ingredient, cloves. Since Indian gravies are so rich and full of flavors, a clean and simple rice with a pronounced flavor is all it takes to make a complete meal. This clove rice is one such rice recipe that neither falls flat like plain rice nor does it overwhelm.

I have had this rice about 4-5 times now with a simple dal, palak paneer, once with plain curd and today with chhole. Every time I have found that this rice complements everything so well that there's no scope to complain. Apart from the flavor itsef, my content might have to do something with the fact that it breaks the dull monotony of jeera rice in my meal. Whatever the reasons, I am truly fond of this rice and recommend you try this for your next Sunday lunch or whenever you please.

My eyes are droopy, I am definitely going to sleep after this.


Long grain rice- 2 cups, soaked in water for at least 20 minutes and drained
Ghee (clarified butter)- 2 tbsp
Bay leaf- 2 nos
Cloves- 10-12 nos
Green chillies, slit- 2 nos
Salt to taste
Water for cooking


Heat ghee in a pressure cooker.

Add bay leaves and cloves. Wait 5 seconds.

Add rice and stir well to coat with ghee. Add slit green chillies.

Keep flame low and fry for 4-6 minutes with frequent stirring.

Add sufficient water and salt. Stir.

Put on the lid and cook on high flame for 2 whistles,

Let pressure release before opening the lid.

Mix gently to loosen rice grains.

Serve hot with gravy of choice.


Warm water before adding to rice. It prevents sticking of rice grains to each other.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Spring Onions with Split Bengal Gram

This Spring Onions with Split Bengal Gram recipe is one of those rustic recipes that you grow up eating and the kind you miss when when you move out of your home. There are recipes that are local to a region and community which are not heard of by others. This is one of such recipes. Certain combinations of ingredients in a dish would become your favorite, if only you knew about them. This is one of those combinations. I am only aware of this recipe because my mother makes it and she came to know it after she got married from my grandmother.

Hearing "spring onions" one thinks of garnishing, salads and soups or Chinese recipes such as spring onion rolls. A spring onion curry doesn't cut the list. A spring onion curry with Bengal grams is not even far fetched. But the concept of it so humble and delicious that it needs to be out there in the world for every one to know for themselves. 

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Spinach and Pomegranate Salad with Walnuts

The last time I posted a salad recipe, I was set on using veggies that are not available in my town and spent an entire day travelling back and forth another town to procure them. But this time I decided to use what I had and the result is this beautiful fresh salad. I am in love with the colors and the juicy crunch of pomegranate in this salad. I have to admit that otherwise I do not like a lot of nuts in my salads, but walnuts add a welcome flavor addition in this one so I cannot complain too much.

A fresh, uncomplicated salad such as this one is what's cheering me today because there are too many complications to deal with in life anyway. Why make a mess of your food too when there's simplicity to your rescue?  Much like this salad I posted earlier and this one here today, there are times you go out of your way to get the things you want and then one day you have to settle for what you can get because no matter how hard you try to go out and get the things you want, you can't because it's a rainy day; and even if you manage to get on the road somehow, others couldn't have.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Kurkuri Bhindi

This bhindi recipe is one of the many reasons to fawn over it. Kurkuri Bhindi aka Indian Fried Okra is the holy grail of all bhindi recipes. It is super crispy and crunchy, which is why "kurkuri".

It so happened that one of the fellow home cooks on Instagram posted a picture of these mouthwatering, thin, crispy strips of bhindi last night. You can check out his version and mine here and here. A want arose and from there this post wrote itself. This is one of the recipes I had been wanting to post forever and seeing that picture then gave me the push I needed to go ahead and do it.

Think of this okra as potato chips. No matter how hard you try, you can't stop at one. I had a hard time keeping my paws off it as I was clicking pictures for the post. It was made all the more difficult that these looked so great on camera. I wonder if that's how photographers feel about models!

This recipe one of those recipes you should keep in your bag of handy, easy, quick recipes. You will be using it all the time as sides and snacks.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Garlic Spinach with Tomatoes

Garlic, good! Spinach, good! Tomatoes, good! Throw them together in a pan, even better.

Hi all. With today's post I am beginning a series of posts we'll be calling "Three Ingredient Thursdays". These posts will use only three major ingredients and will be easy to prepare. These will be great for quick fix, flavorful meals.

Today's recipe is Garlic Spinach with Tomatoes. The name says it all and it is as easy as that. This recipe can be prepared in just minutes and serves as a great side dish or a full meal if you are on the lookout for healthier meal options. It is very light and fresh and smells great.

Spinach season has just begun and I had a whole kilo of incredibly fresh baby spinach with me. I couldn't resist going for this recipe for my lunch today. Well, that and because I didn't really want to have what was cooked for lunch today. I am not a picky eater, but sometimes the heart wants what the heart wants, or doesn't, in this case. So as lunch was being served, I washed some of the baby spinach, chopped some garlic and tomatoes and was on the table with my dish even before everyone started eating.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Salted Makhana

Before we get to the recipe, hear my Salted Makhana story.

Scene 1.
Me to mom: "Mom, do we have makhanas at home? I want to post a Salted Makhana Recipe on the blog."

Mom to me: "Yes, we do have makhanas at home and you only want to roast them for yourself, not for a blog post." 

Me: "What? No! I want to post it as a DIY snack idea, just like I did for Salted Cashews."

Mom: "We'll see. I know what happened to those cashews. You barely saved any to take pictures for the post."

Me: "Yes, yes. We'll see."

Scene 2.
I roast the makhanas, and pop a few in my mouth as soon as they are off the pan. My mom gives me the "I told you so" look. I ignore her and go about clicking some pictures, sneaking a few more, now away from her watch. I bring the bowl back and keep it on the kitchen counter, turn to leave and mom says to me, "You took a bowl full to click the pictures and are returning it only half full. What happened to the rest? Did a crow eat them?" I say, "Yes, mom. That's exactly what happened." And quickly leave. 

Scene 3.
It's evening. I am lurking in the kitchen. Mom is making tea for dad and herself. I ask her, "Should I bring some makhanas? Dad hasn't had them yet." She says, "Sure. Bring some. By the way, did you post the recipe?" "No, not yet." I say between mouthfuls. She smiles and leaves with her tea. I think to myself, "Oh! Damn it Apurva! Control yourself."

Scene 4.
I enter the kitchen quietly. On tip toes. I don't flip on the light and use my cell phone's backlight to find the jar that contains what I want. I open the cupboard, careful not to make any noise. I can't find it. Where is it? Why is it not here? Did I finish it all already? No. I am sure I didn't. Oh! If only I could switch on the light. No. I can't. It's 3 a.m. What if mom wakes up for water or something and sees me here! No. I can't take that chance. I move about the kitchen searching for my precious makhanas. Suddenly something ran across my feet. I let out a high pitched scream and jump with fear. Dad and mom come to the kitchen and switch on the light to find me wide eyed and a small mouse scurrying around. Dad asks me, "Are you all right? What happened?" Mom answers him, "She will be all right when she finishes all the makhanas. Let's go."

Yes. That's how much I love these. Why, you ask? Well, they are freaking awesome!
You guys read how to make them and let me see if I can find more in the kitchen.

Homemade Salted Cashews

Few things compare to salted cashews, fewer compare to the salted cashews made at home. It is festival time in India and there is no way to celebrate it right without munching on rich dry fruits.

Oh, don't get me wrong! Sweets are great during festivals but it can get a little too much for many, like me. Any friends you meet, any relatives you visit during festivals are offering and expecting you to stuff on the sweets they acquired specially for the occasion from the best shop in the city or made at home with love. But honestly, people like me who hit their sweet limit on day 1, sincerely look for a way to not offend their hosts by saying no to the sweets and be able to relish anything else that is served to please them. So keeping this in mind, I like to add something salty like these cashews and makhanas on my serving tray. It also adds variety and richness to the festive snacks. There is another reason why I include these on my Diwali menu, they are so damn tasty! *wink*

Salted cashews are very easy to make at home and in my opinion taste much better than those bought from the market. They can be served on their own or can be used to prepare different snack mixes. And the best part is that you don't have to wait until festivals to make these. These are perfect as a quick travel snack, movie time munchings or tea time bites. Bottom line, it is good to keep these handy at home.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Almond-Raisin Potato Balls + Chilly-Raisin Chutney

"Oh Sunday! You're here. And what a particular delight you are today. You are a Sunday on Navratri. That deserves special treatment. Don't you worry. I have taken care of everything. You won't be disappointed."

Hey folks! Please excuse my Sunday rantings. It's been a long time since I got a Sunday to myself. And clearly, I am too pleased about it. And I bet you all are too. But is the Navratri Sunday daunting you with the difficult choice about what to make that will satisfy you and your family without you crossing the safe fasting zone? You will be happy to know that I have a solution. Aww! You are welcome.

Stop. Stop! Don't think about having sabudana wada or sabudana khichdi. It's the fourth day of Navratri and haven't you had enough of it already? I am sure if you aren't saying yes out loud, you are slowly swearing it under your breath. Cool it now. I said I have a solution. It is these savoury yum balls of potato. I decided to call them Almond-Raisin Potato Balls, well, for obvious reasons. But that wasn't enough. I wanted to serve it and serve it right. So I paired them with this incredible sweet and spicy Chilly-Raisin Chutney. I know. Sounds hot! It is.

Enjoy this recipe with your family. Not just during Navratris, but on any occasion.