Banana Strawberry Smoothie

I’m addicted to smoothies for breakfasts in summers and love to have an array of fruits ready at home which allows me try different flavour combinations!

I do not like bananas much! However this time around I had a change of heart and added a frozen banana. It lends a creamy texture and the strawberries masked the banana flavour for me.

I cannot stress enough how good strawberries are for us. It is loaded with essential nutrients and contain antioxidants which shields the immune system from many diseases. It also lowers the risk of diabetes, strokes and cancer. Is this the reason I eat them ? Not completely, I love them!

Fruit Bowl

The shiny and lovely red brightening many fruit bowls and just plain regular oatmeal. If I skip smoothies, I pack myself an box of fruits and granola bar. It make breakfast more exciting while at work!

Boxes of strawberries lined up neatly on supermarket shelves remind me of my summer trips to Mahabaleshwar. It is a small hill station some 300 odd kilometres away from Mumbai. A few kilometres away is Panchgani where Mapro is located.

They have berry farms and as I kid, I recollect going there and having the fresh strawberries and later having them served with vanilla icecream. They also had a strawberry cream which was a hit with my family!

Smoothie2

Serves : 2

The Magic happens in : 5 minutes

Ingredients
1 frozen banana diced
1 cup fresh strawberries diced
1 Zespri kiwi diced
1/2 tsp super seed powder
300 ml strawberry juice / mix fruit juice
Few fresh strawberries and blueberries to garnish

Blend all the ingredients together and serve them immediately!

Smoothie1

You could add honey or agave syrup if you want the smoothie to be on a sweeter side.

Until next time happy cooking! 🙂

Chatori Galli – Barsha 1

I love eating street food and the mere mention makes me go weak in my knees! Such is my fascination with chaat vendors that I should be given the most loyal customer award for visiting Elco, Bandra Mumbai traveling to the other side of the city just to eat the pani puri and papdi chaat.

I find very limited good chaat houses in Dubai unlike India wherein there is one in every corner of the street. I came to know about Chatori Gali in Al Barsha via Twitter. Some one strongly suggested that I visit them for their jalebis.

Chatori Galli

This is a relatively small dining place just behind Mall of Emirates and a stone’s throw away from Bikanervala which is more popular in the area. Just a disclaimer, I have tried these dishes reviewed over 5 visits and found them to be consistent.

I started by trying the Gol Gappe (Delhi) or Phuchkas (Bengal) or Pani Puri (Mumbai). It is hollow fried crisps filled with a sprouts / potato mixture and downed with flavored water. I wasn’t impressed. It lacked serious amounts of masalas and that “ahhaa” factor.

We next moved on to try Raj Kachori, deep fried round flattened ball filled with a stuffing of lentils, cubed potatoes, sprouts, well beaten yoghurt and chutneys and garnished with sev.

Raj Kachori

The Kachori in itself was quite dried out and hence not crisp and was overloaded with yoghurt. There was very minuscule amounts of stuffing and hence it was another ‘No’ for me.

Pyaaz Kachori

On a side note, the Pyaaz Kachori (Onion stuffed) was great in comparison.

We also tried Ram Ladoo, a popular snacking dish in North India. These are deep fried moong dal (split green gram skinless) and urad dal (split green gram skinless) balls served with spicy tangy green chutneys garnished with grated raddish. It was average and needed to be soaked in the chutney before serving them. That’s how it’s traditionally served, maybe I had high expectations!

Ram Ladoo

The best memories I have had of Ram Ladoo are in my teens when I visited Amritsar and ate them at a small time vendor. He soaked them in Kanji, a popular Punjabi fermented drink made with red carrots, turnips, beets spiced up with rock salt, red chilly powder and mustard powder. He later topped them with spicy hot green chutney and radish! Drool worthy!

Moving on to the review, we proceeded to order Bread Pakoda, now this won me over completely. Bread slices sandwiched with a spicy mashed potato mixture coated in chickpea flour batter and deep fried.

Bread Pakoda

It had a generous sprinkling of chaat masala. It was served to us piping hot and with a side of coriander and tamarind chutneys.

Samosa Chaat

We tried Samosa Chaat, it was delicious. They served the samosa piping hot and were quite generous with the chutneys (thank goodness!), as a result, me and my guests were vying to get the last bite. Gluttony!

On another visit we tried “Parathe wali Galli ke Parathe” this immediately took me back to the bylines of Old Delhi in Chandni Chowk where Sahil first took me for a date many years back shortly after we visited the magnificent Jama Masjid.

For old time sake, we ordered the Parathas, you can choose two from the various varieties of parathas available. We ordered aloo pyaaz (Flat bread stuffed with spicy boiled potato and onions mix) and Gobhi (Cauliflower stuffing). Usually parathas are cooked on a tawa (flat griddle) but this particular type of parathas are deep fried in a wok.

Paranthe Wali Galli ke Paranthe

The parathas are served with Chole (spicy and tangy chickpea curry), Kaddu Ki Launji (Pumpkin cooked downed with spices and mildly sweet), Aloo Sabzi (Potato cubes in onion tomato gravy), Mixed cauliflower and carrot pickle smeared with mustard powder, a few pieces of tomato and cucumber and sweet chutney. Unfortunately since we have ordered this twice, I can’t seem to find the picture with Kaddu ki Launji.

I loved the Aloo Sabzi, it was quite spicy but I savoured every morsel of the paratha dipped in the sabzi. Yumm!

As for the parathas, I could not have beyond one piece. The parathas were crisp on the outside but all that deep frying made them too heavy.

Bedami Aloo

We moved on to Bedami Aloo. Bedmi is an another popular breakfast option served in Chandni Chowk and Old Delhi. It is a puri (deep fried puffed bread) made with wheat flour and ground lentils, either skinned black gram dal or green gram dal.

The accompaniments which come along with the Bedami Puri are same as the parathas. We were keen on having it only with the Aloo sabzi and asked to be served the same instead of the Chole and Kaddu Ki Launji. Again great dish and a must try once you visit this place.

Sarso Ka Saag - Makai Roti

We also ordered Sarson Ka Saag with Makke Ki Roti. Sarson ka Saag is mustard leaves and spinach leaves cooked with spices in and usually mustard oil. Makke ki Roti is flatbread made with maize flour, easily available in Indian grocery stores here. It was delicious and was served with a side of jaggery and raddish.

Tawa Paratha & Raita

If you are looking for a lighter option than the parathas then you can also opt for the various menu options like Methi Roti, Gobhi Roti or Missi Roti. I chose Tawa Paratha (Wholewheat flatbread cooked on a disc shaped griddle) with Boondi Raita. Simple home style dinner option.

Kadhi

I tried the parathas with Raita and once with Kadhi Pakoda, it was simply delish. The Kadhi was punjabi style, buttermilk cooked with gram flour, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds and red chilly powder.

Vegetable Poha

We also tried Poha, it was a nice light snack. Poha is flattened wife flakes cooked with onions, peas, mustard seeds and garnished with peanuts, coriander leaves and Sev (Savoury Gramflour Vermicelli).

It was just good to be had with a side of masala chai. The tea served at Chatori Gali is prepared fresh and they use Lipton tea bags for the same however I did skip this on my subsequent visits. I don’t blame them, I’m quite picky about the masala chai I have.

Thandai

Sahil tried Thandai, it is a chilled drink made from milk, ground dry fruits flavored with kewda, rosewater, saffron, sugar and fennel seeds. This one was made with store bought syrup and sparingly topped with almond flakes. He found it quite refreshing. Their drinks menu also has fresh juices, Kanji, Fresh Lemonade, Lassi and Milkshakes.

Motichoor Ladoo

In desserts, we tried the Motichoor Ladoo, it was quite dry and not good enough.

Let’s move on to the sole reason you should visit Chatori Galli, which is their Jalebi. It’s deep fried flour shaped in spirals and soaked in sugary syrup flavored with cardamom or saffron at times. It’s difficult to explain what a “jalebi” is and hence the pictures below:

Jalebi In Making

It was crispy, crunchy and supremely heavenly. It tasted divine and was just the thing you need to taste on a day when you feel under weather. When dipped in the Rabdi, it is a killer combination!

Jalebi & Kulfi

We however had the piping hot jalebis with their stick kulfi. The kulfi was quite creamy and not too sweet and good way to end a hearty meal.

Matka Kulfi

The Matka Kulfi was pretty looking in the earthen pot but did not taste as great as the Stick Kulfi.

Visit Chatori Galli with a big appetite, the service is quite off sometimes mainly due to how busy the place is in evenings. However we have found a friend in Sandeep, a great guy who takes pleasure in serving you well.

Until next time, Happy cooking 🙂

Other Locations: Oud Metha / Meena Bazzar, Bur Dubai

Disclaimer : All featured dishes and meals were paid for my me and this post is not a sponsored one.

The India Pavilion – Mall Of Emirates

I love Mall of Emirates, that was the first place Sahil took me to. It was my first outing when I came to Dubai some more than two and half years back. In the first week of being in Dubai, I visited the mall thrice. There are many firsts associated with this place, the first movie, the first grocery shopping, the first big splurge, the first coffee date (with the husband of course!) and so on.

That’s my go-to place for movies or shopping. On one such tiring shopping spree, we ended up at the first level food court of Mall of Emirates and visited The Indian Pavilion next to Vox Cinemas.

Papad Chatni

It offers good Indian good and the prices and service is pretty decent too. The restaurant provides complimentary fried papas with green chutney and pickle. How nice! Who doesn’t like a good crunchy one!

The restaurant has an interesting concept of ordering mains which is a complete meal or a platter in itself. It comes with an accompaniment of roti (flat bread) or pilaf rice, 2 falafels / aloo tikkis (potato patties), cucumber raita, home style split yellow lentils and mixed salad.

Baigan Bharta Platter

I ordered the Baigan Bharta, it simply means roasted and mashed aubergines cooked with spices. I loved the roasted smokey flavor of aubergine with green peas in onion and diced tomato gravy. The green peas required to be blanched a bit more, they were quite firm.

Baigan Bharta

The Bharta cooked at my place by my grandmother used to have more of tomatoes giving it a rich red color but in the restaurant it was with less tomatoes. I liked how they finished the whole dish with red chill infused oil. This was a hit!

Achari Paneer Platter

We also ordered Achari Paneer Mutter, that’s cottage cheese and green peas cooked in a spicy brown gravy of onions and spices. The cottage cheese was slightly tossed on a pan since it had browned on the edges. It was spicy and I loved the heat in the gravy, it was finished with a garnish of coriander and chili oil.

Paneer Tikka Masala Platter

We also ordered Paneer Tikka Masala on one visit, the paneer was soft and the gravy was tangy but not overtly spicy. The red onions, capsicum and tomato wedges were char grilled and we could see the sides browned evenly.

Paneer Tikka Masala
I am a gravy person and would have loved if it came with little more gravy. Nevertheless it was a good dish with a side of butter naan.

The accompanying pilaf was fragrant and mildly spiced, the dal was the best part of the platter. I can keep going back to this restaurant just for their yummy dal. It is perfect home cooked version of split yellow lentils tempered with green chillies, finely chopped onions and tomato.

The aloo tikkis (potato patties) served had a nice crust on the outside and were piping hot inside, the mashed potatoes had a strong flavor of roasted cumin. It also had soaked chana dal and grated onions.

Mixed salad and cucumber raita provided a refreshing feel to the otherwise spicy platter.

Lamb Madras Platter

Sahil enjoyed his Lamb Madras style, as per him, it was cooked nicely with hot red chilled and curry leaves. But it was quite basic, it was good but that great.

Add On

Being an ad guy, Sahil loved the packaging of their wet tissues and even clicked it as a reference. He finds them quite fragrant.

On a side note, I have also tried their Masala Dosa which was pretty soggy and not up to the mark. The restaurant has consistently disappointed us on it’s desserts. We once ordered Phirni which was served to us hot traditionally it is always served cold and the gulab jamuns they do were quite average hence we keep skipping the dessert order.

However when in MOE and in mood for good Indian food priced decently, I would visit them for more!

Locations : Level 1, Food Court – Next to Vox Cinemas, Mall of Emirates / Spinney’s Umm Suqeim

Pricing : Average AED 120-150 for meal for two

Homemade Granola Bars

Thou shall be more regular with the blog! I usually keep repeating this to myself but never get around to clearing the drafts in my folder. Nonetheless here I am, if you are someone who enjoys a good breakfast then read on.

It’s one of the most blissful feelings waking up early on weekday and fixing yourself a good hearty meal just when life takes over. An empty stomach growling on a busy work day in the middle of a business meeting is never a good call.

I’m not much of a morning person but having a steaming hot cup of masala chai followed by breakfast definitely helps me begin the day beautifully.

It’s actually an indulgence for some but for me it’s a necessity. I never ever skip a breakfast.

I usually like savory in my breakfast so most mornings consist a sandwich, toasted brown bread layered with peanut butter or labneh and topped up with tomatoes, carrots, cucumber and some crumbled feta or cheese.

Other days I like a hearty poha or upma but it’s a task to make them and means dedicating 20 minutes in the morning for this. Then there was a phase where all I would want to eat was granola bars so I loaded the pantry with some oats and honey crunchy granola bars.

After spending a fortune on store bought artificially sweetened and calorie heavy variety, I decided to bake some at home. I baked some chewy granola bars fews weeks back and some more over the last fortnight for Mum-in-law to take them home.

I personally love them to be crunchy however since mum-in-law was in town, I decided to make them chewy so that she can eat them easily.

Granola Square

Prep Time : 10 minutes
Ready in 20 minutes

Ingredients

3 cups organic oats
1/2 cup chopped mixed nuts (I used walnuts and cashews, the ratio was 70:30)
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup cranberries
1/2 cup almond meal
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup date syrup
2 tsp brown sugar (skip if you want them to be less sweet)
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla essence
A pinch of sea salt

Pre-heat oven at 175 degrees Celcius.

Toast the Oats slightly, it gives them a good crunch. You could toast them in the oven for 3-5 minutes or just dry roast in a wok.

Granola

Mix oats, chopped nuts, raisins, almond meal and cranberries really well in a big mixing bowl.

Granola Mix 2

On low heat, add oil, sugar, peanut butter, honey and date syrup in a saucepan and keep stirring it so that it does not stick to the bottom of the same.

Sugar Syrup

Take off heat once all the ingredients have blended well, add vanilla essence and mix well.

Pour the hot mixture over the oats mixture and with the help of a spatula mix them well.

Scrap the mixture from sides of the bowl and let it rest for a few minutes.

Grease a baking tray and layer the oats mixture on the same. Bake for 20 minutes and voila you are saying good bye to hungry mornings!

My first attempt at this was not that great and I wasn’t happy with the shape for the granola bars since I tried them in a 9 inch cake mould. I just couldn’t find my baking tray.

So there you see chunky bits of granola however this time around I spend some time on doing my prep right. I used a baking tray and dumped the mixture on the same.

With help of greased spatula I spread the mixture and had a thin layer on to the tray. You can even grease your fingertips and flatten the mixture on the surface.

Let the mixture cool down for a while before you cut them in neat squares. Store in an airtight container, they will stay well for a 7-10 days.

Granola Bars
The sides which were uneven at my end were crumbled and used as granola later on. I simply topped them with yoghurt and fresh diced kiwis and strawberries! Win 😀

In the next few posts, I would be bringing you my experiences from my recent and the very first trip to Paris and Amsterdam. Till then, happy cooking 🙂

Bombay Bites Restaurant Review

It’s been a long gap after which I have started posting my old blog posts pending in my ever increasing drafts folder. Work has been crazy off late, leaving me with no time. However I have been cooking to my heart’s content in the last few weeks given the dinner parties I have been hosting for friends and family. Here’s a post I wrote when I was craving Mumbai street food. Read on to know how I found some yummy street food.

I miss Bombay, also known as Mumbai, my home city and there are days when all I want is, to pack my bags and sit at Worli Seaface especially this time around the year. Anyone who is from Bombay will tell you this that Bombay rains are to die for. The scenic lush green cover that the city adorns itself in, the waves splashing against the shores, the odd teen selling cutting chai and chocolates to the lovey-dovey couples holding hands at the sea side, kids jumping in puddles of water on busy roads while returning back from school, the mums reprimanding them. The city has a character and the rains lend it one.

The rainy season is almost over now but it was pouring cats and dogs in Bombay for the last week for so and talking to my folks back home, hearing them taking it easy and enjoying afternoon siestas followed by masala chai with onion bhajjis, I started missing home and the rainy season even more.

I was craving Pav Bhaji and thus began my quest to look for the same. I turned to Twitter to ask for suggestions. Many options were floating like Sukh Sagar, Kailash Parbhat, Aamchi Mumbai, Mumbai Express.  I have had Pav Bhaji at Sukh Sagar and Aamchi Mumbai and it was kinda average.

I eventually went to Bombay Bites, it is based in Bank Street in Bur Dubai. The owner is from Mumbai and prides himself in his Maharashtrian roots. It started as a cafe where only snacks were served, I first had a Misal Pav and Vada Pav over there last year and never went back since it is a long drive from my place in JLT.

This time around we realized that they have taken over a bigger place and opened a full fledged restaurant next door.

Bombay Bites

We tried their Pav Bhaji and it was yummy. It sure left me satisfied, if you after a fancy presentation and a fine dining experience this is definitely not the place to be. But it has got good flavorsome food.

When I first paid them a visit, it was the mango season. The owners had specially bought Alphonso Mangoes which are the speciality of Ratnagiri region in Maharashtra. The texture and flavor of this variety of mango is best for milkshakes, ice creams, preserves and smoothies. They had displayed the bounty just at the entrance to the restaurant, it was enough to make me salivate at the thought of ‘Aamras’.

Aamrkhand : Aamras

Aamras is mango pulp flavored with a very faint hint of elaichi (cardamom) powder. I also followed it up with Aamrkhand, it is mango flavored Shrikhand. It is a traditional dessert made from strained yoghurt mixed with sugar and then flavors are added. It is best served chilled with hot pooris (deep fried Indian bread)

The Pav Bhaji came complete with tava (flat pan) roasted pao (Indian dinner rolls). The best thing about the bhaji is it is doused with spices and not subtle at all. It is really spicy and has the “Aaahaa” factor in every morsel. The complimentary finely chopped onions and lemon wedges play havoc on the palette.

Pav Bhaji

We went there again last week, this time around again we had the pao bhaji and followed it up with Kesar (Saffron) Dryfruit Milkshake, it was loaded with the goodness of nuts and a hint of saffron on top. It was quite a heavy option and Sahil did not touch my dessert later and this doesn’t happen ever!

Dryfruit Kesar Milk

I was reminiscing about Juhu Beach hence ordered Kesar Falooda. It is a chilled dessert. Again I was ecstatic with the result, a tall glass made a grand entry with even layers of fine vermicelli, basil seeds, pistachios, almonds, three scoops of vanilla ice cream, jelly, chilled sweetened milk, almonds and topped with rose syrup.

Kesar Falooda

Everything about this was wonderful. It was just perfect to be had after the spicy meal I had just devoured.

I think in a city where you have many eateries promising you Mumbai style street food, this is one of best of the crop. It is priced very affordably. Finding a parking spot can be tricky on weekends, I usually end up here during weekdays.

Chat up with the owners, they are a friendly couple. I spoke to them in Marathi and the conversations which followed had me walk out smiling!

Disclaimer : All featured dishes and meals were paid for my me and this post is not a sponsored one.

Oats Masala Idli

My love for traditional Indian fare is well known and I have discussed this in my previous posts. I do not like to tamper with the classics but sometimes you like to give it your own twist. One such craft master whose expertise is well known Michelin star awarded Chef Vineet Bhatia who owns Rasoi in London, Geneva and Indego by Vineet in Dubai.

I have been following his culinary journey to Indian cities looking for unique flavors and incorporating his own take on them in his popular series showcased on “Twist of Taste” on Fox Traveller with his beautiful wife Rashima in Season 1 who used to uncover the tourist attractions or shopping secrets the city had to offer.

In the first season of the show, Chef Vineet made Tomato Sev Rice with Ghatta Sabzi(Gramflour dumplings in tangy sauce)and Shikari Murg. Being a vegetarian I substituted the chicken with paneer and the result came out well. My husband loves this recipe so much that now even when I do not have the Paneer(Cottage Cheese) handy, I just make the ghatta sabzi with sev rice. This looks pretty too, recipe to follow soon 🙂

Tomato Sev Rice

I even tried the Besan Chilla stuffed with Dal served with a side of crispy okra. Unfortunately I’m not able to find a picture for that as yet.

I was at my mum’s place last month and was catching up on Season 2 wherein this recipe for Oats Masala Idli was showcased. I immediately tried this recipe since I knew it would be great as a evening snack. Healthy, nutritious and a quick savoury dish which can be served to a hungry army in a jiffy.

Oats Masala Idli

Ingredients
1 cup oats
1/2 cup semolina
1 cup yoghurt
2 tsp fresh coriander roughly chopped

Tempering
2 tsp oil
1 tsp urad dal
Few fenugreek seeds
7-8 curry leaves finely chopped
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
2 green chillies finely chopped
1 onion finely chopped
1/4 cup grated carrots
Salt to taste

Dry roast cooking oats and semolina in separate pans on medium heat and keep it aside.

Whisk yoghurt and add the oats and semolina to it. Blend well and let the mixture rest for a while.

Now prepare the tempering, heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds, once it splutters add curry leaves, fenugreek seeds, urad dal, green chillies and let the flavors get infused.

Add onions and cook them until they are translucent. Now add grated carrots to the mixture. Add salt to taste, you may also add coriander powder I skipped this.

Saute them for a minute and take it off the heat. Allow it to cool for sometime and then add this to the oats mixture.

Add fresh coriander to the mixture and blend well.

In a idli steamer, pour little water and grease the idli moulds with little oil. Add a spoonful of batter to the idli moulds and put them in the steamer.

Cover the steamer with a lid and let it cook for 7-8 mins. This mixture yields 18 Idlis in total.

Uncover the goodness after a while and serve with Garlic Rasam, Tomato Thokku, Coriander Chutney or Tiffin Sambhar.

Spicy Peanut Balls

I like to work with left overs in the fridge. The most common left over in my kitchen happens to be cooked rice. Some days you do not want to go the traditional route and make a dal, curry or stew to go along with left over cooked rice from the night before.

Whenever I’m out at a book store I either gravitate towards the cook books featuring appetizers, baking, party food or books on entertaining and hosting dinner parties. I came across this recipe in “Party Food & Appetizers” and I immediately bookmarked it to try out later. I picked this cook book from Borders.

Cookbook

I have made this recipe many times with a slight changes and it has consistently been a crowd pleaser. It’s amazing how people try and guess what these were made with. I usually cook a batch of rice and leave it for 2 hours to cool at room temperature before I start making this. I first made this for a dinner party I hosted for my colleagues and served it with an assortment of dips to choose from like Creamy Spinach Dip, Homemade Hummus, Tomato Roasted Pepper Dip and Tzatziki.

Look wise they almost seem like “Falafel” but are crunchy and crumbly at the same time.

Spicy Peanut Balls1

Cooking Time : 20 minutes
Ingredients

2 garlic cloves
1 tsp ginger
2 green chillies finely chopped
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp caster sugar (optional)
2 tsp soy sauce
3 tsp coriander finely chopped
2 cups cooked rice
1 cup peanuts coarsely chopped
Bread crumbs as required
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt to taste

In a blender, put garlic cloves, ginger, green chillies, coriander, peanuts, sugar, turmeric powder and salt.

You can choose to dry roast the peanuts before hand. They would add to the crunch.

Blend well and now add soy sauce and lemon juice. If your guests can take spice, add chilli sauce. I prefer Nando’s Peri Peri sauce.

Add cooked rice to the mixture one cup at a time and blend until it turns in to a slightly sticky mixture.

Remove in a bowl and add bread crumbs as required for binding. I also use bread crumbs sparingly to coat the spicy peanut balls before deep frying. As per the original recipe, roasted peanuts were used to coat the balls.

Grease your palms with little cooking oil and shape in small round balls. Deep fry and serve hot with tomato ketchup.

Until next time happy cooking!