Sindhi Kadhi

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This post is an ode to my maternal grand parent’s house and visits to their house during summer holidays. My maamiji makes the best Sindhi Kadhi and I can’t stress how good and firmly the flavours remain etched in my mind till date.

My other favorite recipes from her kitchen are Bharwan Bhindi and Besan Bread.

Maamiji used to spoil all us kids with treats from her kitchen. I remember we all used to assemble at their terrace, fly kites or play some silly games and she used to get us onion bhajjis and bread pakodas with ketchup.

After relishing those hot snacks, we used to queue up at a shop which used to sell coloured popsicles in different flavours. I used to go for Kaala Khatta always.

Ahh! Those were the good old days. Nostalgia is precious!

Off to the post, I have always found Sindhi cuisine very underrated. It needs to be given it’s due. My favourite Sindhi cuisine recipes are Sai Bhaji, Koki Paratha, Lola (you read it right, that’s what it’s called!), Dal Pakwan and Sindhi Kadhi of course.

I have been fortunate to have many Sindhi friends while growing up. Later on our extended family also welcomed my cousin bhabhi’s who were Sindhi. The best part about Sindhi’s is that they really love their food and are happy, good at heart people who value close bond with families and friends. That’s just how Punjabis are!

Alright! Enough of family melodrama from my side, on to the recipe. I am not sure if this is the best recipe for a Sindhi Kadhi however this surely is loved by my family.

Sindhi Kadhi4

Ingredients
4 tsp canola oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
12-15 curry leaves
1 tsp finely chopped ginger
2 green chillies finely chopped
6 tsp besan (gram flour)
5 fresh tomatoes pureed
1 1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp red chilly powder
3/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 cup drumsticks
1/2 cup lady fingers
1/2 cup cluster beans
1 potato diced
1 carrot diced
1 1/2 tsp tamarind paste
Salt to taste
500 ml water

In a frying pan heat some oil, add lady fingers, carrots and cluster beans and sauté them for a few minutes until they are soft.

Take them off heat and set it aside.

In a thick bottomed vessel, heat some oil and add mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds and curry leaves.

 

Sindhi Kadhi1Once they splutter, add finely chopped ginger followed by green chillies. Sautee for a bit and add besan. Roast it in oil until it becomes fragrant and gets a new brown hue. This usually takes 5-8 minutes.

Keep stirring the mixture else the besan can stick to the bottom of the vessel and get burned easily.

Add the drumsticks, potatoes and the sautéed vegetable mixture to the mix.

Sindhi Kadhi3

Add pureed tomatoes and cook them well. You can add all the spices, tamarind paste to the mixture at this point and give it a good stir.

Add water and let this simmer away for 20-25 minutes with a lid on.

Keep stirring the mix at regular intervals. Once it has reached your desired consistency, take it off heat.

Serve with fluffy basmati rice, papad and some aloo bhajjis.

Sindhi Kadhi

Until next time, happy cooking!

Meeting Chef Sanjeev Kapoor

The Dubai Food Carnival happened earlier this month and brought back memories of the lovely time I had there.

This was almost 10 months back but today when I glanced through the pictures, the memories of that wonderful afternoon spent seeing my culinary idol came rushing back!

I hesitated posting about my experience for the longest time but then reminded myself that this blog is my journal for the highs I have had when it came to my blogging journey. So here I share this great moment with you all before we see another edition of the Dubai Food Carnival.

So how did this all begin, read on. Facebook contests have been lucky for me (touchwood!). I got to travel on an all expense paid trip to Paris and Amsterdam late 2013 and I thought nothing gets as awesome as this.

And then cut to late March 2014, I saw this contest by Melia Hotel about a Meet & Greet Opportunity with Sanjeev Kapoor, a complimentary meal at his much acclaimed restaurant Signature at Dubai Food Carnival.

Chef Sanjeev Kapoor

I participated with bated breath and to my utter amazement I won the chance. I had anyways bought tickets for Dubai Food Carnival to see his cooking demonstration.

I rushed to collect the winner’s pass and was a bundle of giddy nerves until next afternoon. The cooking demonstration started and Chef Sanjeev mesmerized everyone with his humble anecdotes and stories. The one thing which stuck me was how grounded and unassuming he is about his success.

Maybe this quality is what has helped him reach where he is now. The best thing is how he likes to keep things and food simple. He discussed how his wife makes the best biryani and fondly remembers the tasty Gujrati food his mother-in-law makes.

The funny re-collection of his encounter with dealing with the myth that Indian food is spicy and just loaded with chillies, when he was working in New Zealand. The dish turning out to be a bestseller on the restaurant menu after a customer requesting to make it spicier over there was quite amusing.

Midway through the demo, he showcased how simple tweaks to the way simple ingredients are handled can help home cooks create restaurant style plating and garnishes.

Tikkis

He asked someone from the audience with good knife skills to volunteer. I jumped at the opportunity.

With shaking hands, he handed me a potato and asked me to make cuts similar to a hassle back potato but in a nice square shape.

Call it stage fright or me being star stuck with him around, I managed the cut well but forgot the square shape. He being the gentleman simply complimented me for the knife skills and getting the cut right. He jokingly said that here I will gift you the knife, if the organizers allow me!

Also take this opportunity to thank Joselin from Melia Hotel and the great team at Signature by Sanjeev Kapoor. As a part of the contest, I was also treated to a meal at their stand at Dubai Food Carnival.

I loved the Makai (Corn Flour) ki Roti, Sarson Ka Saag (Cooked Mustard Greens) and the Paneer Tikka Masala they did.

Sarson Ka Saag

Paneer Tikka

The revelation was the Lemongrass flavoured Buttermilk topped with roasted cumin seeds, very refreshing!

Lemongrass Buttermilk

Sahil had some meat dish and Galouti Kebabs and my man was grinning!

Chicken

Galouti Kebab

Why I revisited these pictures after all these months? I missed the Food Carnival this year as I was on a vacation and I realized it’s been close to a year already. Phew! Time does fly. Better late than never! 🙂

Apart from that I was also craving Sarso Ka Saag and thought of the one I ate at Chef Sanjeev’s restaurant stand. Utterly delicious with the Makke Ki Roti topped with white butter!

Apart from this I also got all my cookbooks signed by the chef extraordinaire. It makes me happy every time I flip open one for some inspiration.

Next time around August last year, I got a chance to see Chef Sanjeev Kapoor at his restaurant “Options” while they were hosting the Independence Day Dinner. While we spoke, he gave some honest life lessons in embracing positivity in life and taking the burnt toast with a smile.

More food stories to follow as I do a round up of events I attended in 2014 and how it was one eventful year!

2nd Blog Anniversary! :D

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It’s a moment of rejoicing as my humble blog completes two years this week! 26th October that is.

I’m grateful to all of you who read my blog and encouraged me to write/cook. I’m a tad late in posting this since did not have Internet at home for over 5 days.

The past year has been quite an enriching experience, with the learning curve being the steepest. Getting more serious to hone my skills, I have frenetically gone beyond my comfort zone to learn new techniques, all the while splurging heavily on new equipment and cookbooks, experimenting with new ingredients, cooking a lot more and, as fate would have it, had the chance to meet my culinary idols as well.

The icing on the cake had been the trip to Paris which is a dream come true for any gourmand.

Paris

 

Disneyland

Arc De Triumphe

Since my interest lies in baking, there couldn’t be anyplace better than Paris to savor the finest of the patisserie and desserts.

Chocolate Tart

Delices De France

Apart from the sightseeing the beautiful city, I was most ecstatic about the gastronomic heaven I was about to delve into. I had a fantastic experience visiting the quaint little cafes on the park enroute to Louvre and savoring the best of the world at the oh-so-elegant Champs-Elysées.

Cafe Angelina

One gastronomic memory that would stay with me forever would be the visit to the iconic Cafe Angelina and the heavenly macaroons from Les Marquis de Ladurée.

Macaroon

 

 

Jeff de Bruges

Galeries Lafaytte and Jeff De Bruges tempted me to splurge beyond my means, as I packed in gifts for co-workers and family (Damn the baggage allowance of airlines).

Amsterdam

Having Amsterdam in transit was a blessing in disguise, as a world of artisan food awaited me. While the mindboggling variety of cheese from Dam Square had me go overboard, the hot chocolates and Stroopwafels ensured I come back to the beautiful city someday to savour more delights with the husband in tow.

Pasta

Old Amsterdam Cheese Store

Noteworthy of the stores I visited were the Old Cheese Shop and a small chocolate shop named Jamin.

Jamin

 

Bakes

My baking supplies for the next few months were taken care of thanks to the splurge in Amsterdam!

While Paris & Amsterdam might have introduced me to many new & unique gastronomic treats, the trip back home to India after few months taught me few more lessons in authentic cooking.

Sarson Ka Saag

A road trip to Punjab was a rich condiment of heavy-duty food, making me realize that good food sometimes is very simple (as cooked in villages), and sometimes it’s quite technical like served at high end restaurants.

Neemrana

Neemrana

Another road trip to Neemrana Fort was an absolute delight, where the expansive Thali served is a food fit for nobility. The Rajasthani cuisine there is something to write home about.

Rajasthani Thali - Neemrana

Sitting at the upper deck of the centuries old fort, taking in the stellar views of the villages & fields and enjoying the sunset is an experience that goes beyond words could describe.

Tea Break - Neemrana

 

Neemrana Sunset

The year gone by was by far the luckiest for me, as I had the chance to meet many chefs whom I revere. To start with, I had a chance to meet my culinary idol Sanjeev Kapoor. I come from a household which watches his popular program Khana Khazana religiously and seeing him twice this year in person was a dream come true.

Meeting Chef Sanjeev Kapoor

First at Dubai Food Carnival and later at the Independence Day dinner at his restaurant Options by Sanjeev Kapoor. Family back home hovered over the Whatsapp pictures I sent them from these events.

Interacting with him made me realize that whatever heights you reach in culinary stardom or whichever field you represent, being humble is the quality that never ceases to attract most. In just a few minutes, he taught me some life lessons, the best being: If you dream of doing something, then do take the risk and pursue the passion. Do not wait for the perfect timing and remain positive at all times!

Another personality I adore and met was Camellia Punjabi, as I attended her cooking demo session at the Emirates Literature Festival and was blown away on simple kitchen hacks that would sort out your weekly meals.

Meeting Camellia Punjabi2

Sahil and I had a very candid chat with her as she signed her cookbook for us.

 

Meeting Camellia Punjabi

Meeting Camellia Punjabi1

We had a great time discussing how she feels that true traditional fare is a rarity to find in restaurants these days and how average dishes get passed on as gourmet food. We asked her to write a new cookbook to which she gushed, while she found it amazing to see a young couple cooking together and bonding over food. She was brilliant!

George Calamboris

Finally, after watching so many seasons of Masterchef Australia, I had the honor of attending a cooking demo by Chef George Calamboris himself, and relish his wonderful food. He is a magician and enthralled the crowd with his wit and humor.

The past year also saw me get busier with requests from friends to make mithais (sweets), cakes, granola bars and biscotti’s.

Granola Bars

Bakes1

Birthday

Their belief in my culinary skills was heartwarming, and I tried to do justice to that. Hosting get-together and parties helped me learn more about timing, multitasking and plating.

I had the pleasure of having my first ever article published in SALT back in April, a monthly e-magazine by the prestigious FBAI (Food Blogger’s Association of India).

SALT

I personally take the opportunity to thank Mr. Sameer Malkani, Founder FBAI and Mr. Elson Sequirera, Editor FBAI. At the time of writing this article, I have submitted another article which is due to be published in their upcoming issue.

All in all I feel happy looking back on each of the milestones.

So what are the key mantras for the year to come? I have prepared a mental list of sorts. That is one thing I am good at, making lists. However I need to follow them to the written word a lot more.

I am going to try not to wait for the perfect prose to go along with the blog posts. I will not look for perfection, but post as and when I cook. The fact is I cook much more in real life than I get to post about. I am going to not procrastinate further on sharing my kitchen diaries with everyone.

I humbly take this opportunity to thank everyone who made this journey of blogging such a joyride. Your each comment, social media mention, email, message and likes mean a lot to me. It makes me feel that I am doing something good out here.

Thank you once again and until next time happy cooking!

Like I said last year as well : A prayer in my heart, a song on my lips and spatula in my hand, I love my life! 🙂

 

Onion Fritters – Kanda Bhajji

Well here I was trying to continue the Middle Eastern spread on the blog featuring recipes on Tahini and Hummus and then my TL got swamped with tweets and updates on how it’s raining cats and dogs in Mumbai! And I missed the rains terribly!

I completed 3 years being in an expat in Dubai on 28th July! 3 years since I started on this eventful journey to Dubai, living in desert land has being difficult.

Missing the simple pleasures of being in your own country amongst your close circle of family and friends.

Missing important celebrations, where you are a part now only by way of a Skype call, time out with friends, Mumbai monsoons, Frappe at CCD, the lush green gardens in Delhi, the local grocer, chaat and some desi shopping.

But with every such missed opportunity, Dubai has been super kind to me! The city is very welcoming. I find the pace of this city very much like Mumbai. It’s now that I feel like home in Dubai.

Life has been challenging living far away from the comfort of family but here is where me and Sahil set up our home and I’m glad we did. This was one journey which brought us closer than ever!

The thing which I miss the most after my family is Mumbai monsoons! A stroll on beach side, enjoying a cup of masala chai, hearing the pitter patter of the raindrops on the window. When the mist collects on the window panes, writing the special someone’s name with your fingertips on the misty window, listening to cheesy love songs on repeat mode, reading a book and so on!

With these memories came in the thought that if I were in Mumbai, I would have opted to work from home and would have enjoyed hot snacks and endless rounds of chai while lazing away with family!

So being dreamy eyed I thought about my absolutely loved monsoon favorite – Kanda Bhajjis like they say in Mumbai or Onion Bhajiya (fritters). Here’s how I make them at home:

Comes Together in 15 minutes
Ingredients
1 3/4 up besan / gram flour
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp carrom seeds
3/4 tsp roasted cumin powder
2 green chillies finely chopped
1/4 tsp red chilly powder (add more if you can handle it)
2 tsp hot oil
1/2 tsp chaat masala
Water as required
Handful of coriander leaves finely chopped
Salt to taste
Canola Oil to deep fry

In a mixing bowl, sift the besan and add spices, salt and mix it well with a fork.

Now add little water as per the consistency you like. I thin the batter until the back of the spoon is coated well. The batter should not be too thick else the bhajiyas will be too dough like.

Add the green chillies, coriander leaves and onions well with your finger tips and try to get incorporate some air while mixing them all together, this will help making the bhajiyas light and fluffy.

Add 2 tsp of hot oil from the kadai which will be used for deep frying. These are tips from my grandmother and they really make a difference!

Deep fry spoonfuls of batter in the hot oil and let them cook well on low to medium heat. Don’t be tempted to keep turning the bhajiyas often. Flip them over once they have beautiful golden brown color on each side.

Onion Bhajji

Serve with green chutney, tomato thokku or just with ketchup. Enjoy these!

Until next time happy cooking!

Mango Milkshake

April was a great month, I had extended family over and my parents also paid me a visit. I did all the touristy things by taking a week off from work, stayed home, shopped till I literally dropped and ate out most of the time.

My parents brought in a carton of my favorite Alphonso mangoes and me and hubby squealed with joy. This meant we had access to our favorite fruit. We knew gulping down tall glasses of mango milkshake would be the norm for the next week or so.

Fresh Mangoes

Mango is the national fruit of India and Alphonso mangoes are supposed to the best of all the varieties when it comes to flavor and texture. It is widely grown in Ratnagiri region and it is commonly known as “Hapoos” in Maharashtra, a state in India from where I belong. Mangoes are rich in Vitamin A and C and also strengthens the immune system.

In my parent’s house, summers meant making the most of the seasonal produce. Mango Milkshake, Home made mango ice cream, Smoothies, Aamras puri, Mango Shrikhand, chopping up raw mangoes to make pickles and using the semi ripe variety to make mango chutney, the many ways in which my mom and grandmother used to incorporate this wonderful fruit in our daily routine.

I have fond memories of eating raw and semi-ripe mango cut in chunks and seasoned with rock salt and a pinch of red chilly powder outside my school from a vendor. But my favorite part was mango milkshake, many people use vanilla ice-cream in the milkshake to make the texture creamier but me and Sahil love mango to be the hero of the drink. Here’s how we make mango milkshake at our place.

Ingredients
3 ripe Alphonso Mangoes
500 ml Full Fat Milk
4 tsp white sugar
A few drops of vanilla essence (optional)
A few ice cubes

Peel and chop up the beautiful juicy ripe mangoes. Just look at how pretty they are, don’t be tempted to dig in! 😛

Cut Mangoes

I always submerge mangoes in cold water for a few hours before using them. This also lowers the heat quotient in the fruit.

Add the cut mangoes with sugar in a blender.

Mango + Sugar

Reduce or increase the amount of sugar as required depending on how sweet the mangoes on hand are. I have experimented with substituting the sugar with honey and brown sugar but did not like the taste hence chose to stick to the classic.

Manho Pulp

Blend it well and then add milk. You may add vanilla essence or crushed cardamom powder to enhance the flavor towards the end. I keep alternating between one of these as per my liking.

Mango Milkshake

Blend well and add few ice cubes. Give it a mix again and serve it chilled and top it with some cut mango pieces or chopped nuts. I used cashews and a few raisins.

Mango Milkshake 1

Serve with a smile!

Eggless Chocolate Walnut Brownies

Weekends usually mean having family over for lunch or in evening for snacks and some drinks. I have a dear brother-in-law staying here in Dubai for the last 6 years. He helped us settle in when me and husband were newbies around here and is our only close family out here.

He got married a few days back and I’m currently in New Delhi, visiting home for his wedding. He came over to discuss his last minute anxieties and we were happy to share his joy. To celebrate this occasion, I decided to bake some brownies, who doesn’t like a chocolate chip brownie served with a dollop of vanilla ice cream. A late post but as they say it’s better late than never!

I’m posting this today on my Mum-in-law’s birthday.

Brownies3

Ingredients
Serves : 4
Prep Time : 10 minutes
Baking Time : 28-30 minutes

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup caster sugar
1/3 walnuts chopped coarsely + 2tsp to garnish
1/3 cup of canola oil
1 cup of milk
1 tsp of vinegar
1/2 tsp coffee powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
Handful of chocolate chips to garnish
A pinch of salt

Pre heat the oven at 180 degrees Celcius.

Sieve the flour, baking soda, cocoa powder and salt.

Mix the milk at room temperature with coffee powder and vinegar and set aside

Mix the caster sugar to the dry ingredients.

Mix the oil and vanilla extract to the milk mixture.

Add the flour mixture and the milk mixture together and blend well.

Add chopped walnuts to this and fold the mixture gently.

Pour the batter to a well greased pound cake pan and top it with chopped walnuts and chocolate chips.

Batter

Bake for 25-30 minutes until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Brownies 1

Cool the brownies completely before cutting them in neat squares.

Brownies
Serve with a dollop of vanilla ice cream and cut strawberries.

Brownies 2

The brownies will stay well up to 3 days.

Chocolate Truffles

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I work at a fun company and any commercialized festivals or days get celebrated with quite a gusto. With half of the team who loves to eat, our lunch conversations are discussions about where we dined last night or which is the new place we should order office lunch from.

The Gifts

On Valentine’s Day this year, we had our version of Secret Santa and I got gifted a cookbook by a dear colleague. My love for cooking and cookbooks is well known in my co-workers. My subscriptions of BBC Good Food, BBC Housekeeping and Ahlan Gourmet land at my work place every month.

IMG_1528

I got gifted the “The Golden Book of Cooking” I love this since it stays true to the classics and the recipes have not been played around with.

I promised my colleague I would make him a sweet treat from the book and hence the truffles. I have adapted this easy to make and more easier to devour them. So one evening post work, we settled with our coffee mugs with Burj Khalifa (Yep! Flaunting)  as a backdrop and relished these bite sized treats.

IMG_1573

100 grams Lindt Milk Chocolate
100 grams Lindt Intense Mint Chocolate
200 ml Ellie & Verve Full Fat Cream
2 tsp unsalted butter

To Decorate:
1/4 cup Hersey’s unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup Desiccated Coconut
1/4 cup Chopped Almonds / Flakes
1/4 cup Pistachio Slivers

In a saucepan, heat cream over medium heat and bring it a simmer.

On a double boiler, melt both the chocolates. You may want to coarsely chop the chocolate bars or simply break them with  fingers.

Once the chocolate is melted, add butter and cream mixture and blend well.

Adding butter to the mixture gives a nice sheen to the mixture. Take the mixture off heat and refrigerate overnight or for a minimum of 3 hours.

Use a melon ball scoop to make small balls. Grease your hands well with butter and shape the balls.

Coat the chocolate balls with descicated coconut, cocoa powder, almonds, pistachios, sprinkles or even with drinking chocolate.

Refrigerate the truffles for some time so that it acquires a nice form. This mixture gave me about 22 truffles to be precise.

The truffles would stay well for 3 days if refrigerated. You can also make them in batches and give this as favors to guests after dinner.