Dim Poshto: Eggs in Poppy Seeds Gravy

image1 (6).JPGNavratri is my favourite festival! In Gujarat, the cities takes on a whole new appearance during Navratri.

But for the last couple of years, I have been really excited about attending the Durga Puja in Ahmedabad for the amazing energy around the pandaal and most importantly, the delicious fish delicacies. I have made some wonderful Bengali friends over the last one year and that makes this year’s Durga Puja even more special for me.

As the Ahmedabad skies cleared up this morning, my enthusiasm for attending the puja tonight has doubled and I made Dim Poshto, a delicious combo of eggs in a rich poppy seeds’ gravy to mark the festivities.

My recipe is the same as that of Egg Masala, except with the addition of poppy seeds paste and coconut milk. There are three steps to the recipe:

  1. Soak poppy seeds for an hour and grind them to a paste
  2. Boil eggs and marinate them
  3. Cook a gravy

Dim Poshto

Ingredients:

Poppy seeds (half a cup, soaked for an hour and ground to a paste)
Eggs 4 nos
Onions 2 medium, chopped
Ginger-Garlic paste, 1 tsp
Green chillies 4 nos, chopped
Whole red chillies 2 nos
Turmeric, a pinch
Red chilli powder, 1 tsp
Coriander powder, 1 tsp
Garam masala powder, 1/2 tsp
Clove, 2-4 nos
Bay leaf 1
Mustard oil 4 tbsp, for frying and gravy
Salt to taste
Water

Method:

Boil eggs and cut them in halves. Marinate them in salt, turmeric, coriander powder, garam masala, red chilli powder and a little oil and keep aside for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, heat oil in a pan and shallow fry the eggs with the yolk side down. Turn them over carefully and cook till the masala turns brown. Keep aside.

Once the poppy seeds remain soaked for an hour, grind them into a smooth paste with green chillies.

To make the gravy, heat oil, add clove and bay leaf. Add onion and ginger-garlic paste. Stir and cook till the onions turn translucent. Add turmeric, coriander and red chilli powder. Add water to prevent the mixture from sticking to the pan. Cover and cook. After a couple of minutes, add the poppy-green chilly paste. Bring it to a boil and cook till you get the desired consistency. Serve with a drizzle of mustard oil on top. Tastes best with hot, steamed rice.

 

How I met the Panzanella Salad (with recipe of course)

By Pratiksha Thanki (https://pratikshathanki.wordpress.com/)

So you are in Lucca, a small Italian town near the Ligurian coast, thinking of Luca Brasi from The Godfather and how amazing it is that you have managed to come to this town where you had no idea you will end up until the hotel was booked. There is no reason why you should be there, and that’s the best part of it.

There is a Puccini concert at 6 PM at the church. You reach there at 6:05, and the tickets are still available. Half your friends are not keen on it. You could listen to Puccini any old time on one of those free classic radios you play on the internet. But you will get to breathe the outside Lucca-air only for a few hours, till you leave in the morning that is. This is just a stop on the way after all.

So you are outside on the square where the locals are celebrating some festival since two days. You are at the tail end of it. Three different tents are preparing food, but they are not selling it yet. You don’t understand it at first. You look around, there are signs that a rock concert had just finished before you arrived. Long haired men are winding up on a stage, looking cool and formidable at the same time. There is a sports corner with a tent full of sporting equipment. Kids are playing badminton.

And suddenly people start filling up the square. They line up in front of those three carnival food tents. You line up too. Your friends split up to go check out other tents. You decide to meet at a bench under a tree. You reach the counter, and you realize the food is free. Why? Because it is a state-sponsored food festival. You feel awkward accepting free food, but carry on with your pack anyway. And take it to the bench. Friends have their own loot. There is a baguette sandwich with prosciutto. There is a pasta pack, obviously.

And then there is a salad in your pack. You start on it with your plastic fork. One bite, hmmm. Second bite, this is Delicious. Third bite, hey there are big chunks of bread in it. Bread soaking with olive oil, vinegar, Italian herbs and something else, you guess it must be that Lucca-air you were so fascinated with. There were some shallot pieces, peppers, basil, tomatoes, olives, chunks of feta cheese and something else, that surprise that bread can be turned into something so satisfying and intriguing at the same time.

You have to get home, google Lucca Bread Salad and find out it is called a Panzanella Salad. You keep making it weekly till you get tired of it. Then you feel like sharing it with your friends. And you find a way to do it. There you go:

Panzanella Salad Recipe:

Ingredients:Ingredients.jpg

  • A hunk of bread, chopped into cubes (preferably a ciabatta, baguette or any whole wheat bread will do)
  • 2 big tomatoes
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 cup chopped peppers (green, yellow, red, orange, any colour you get or all of them)
  • ½ cup cheese of your choice (preferably feta cheese or Parmesan)
  • salt, pepper, oregano flakes to taste
  • A chopped fruit (a peach, an apple, a plum, anything that can be cubed in the same size as the bread, peppers, tomatoes and onions)
  • Generous amount of olive oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons of Balsamic vinegar or any fruity vinegar you can get your hands on
  • Freshly chopped basil leaves

Method:panzanella-salad

Chop everything preferably in the same size (this is a personal preference), though it can be in any shape or size. Throw in the vegetables, cheese and bread together in a big bowl, drizzle some olive oil on it and mix it well. Now add the salt, pepper, oregano, chopped basil any other Italian herbs or spices of your choice, add balsamic and more olive oil and mix it well. Put the bowl on the side to set for an hour, or just simply dig in right away if you can’t wait. It tastes better after things have settled in.

You can control the amount of oil used in the salad and skip the cheese and that makes it a very healthy thing that gives a good balance of carbs, proteins, vitamins and what not. It can also stay in the fridge for a day or two, you can make it ahead. But don’t keep it lying on a fridge shelf for longer than two days.

Then you think of the Lucca-air and think of how something so non-complicated can make you feel so fancy just because it is called Panzanella and you got hold of it in Lucca.

Enjoy!

Paneer Corn Masala

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Spice up the rainy season with this delicious Paneer dish
There is something about Paneer. This fresh cheese is common to households in South Asian countries. Also called the Indian cottage cheese, paneer is a rich source of protein for vegetarians.

A variety of dishes–from hearty, royal curries to light and refreshing salads–can be made using paneer. My lunch box on Mondays is all about paneer. In fact, cooking a rich paneer curry on Monday mornings has sort of become a tradition, for me. And since it’s monsoon in India, I decided to combine paneer with a monsoon favourite: corn to make a delicious Paneer Corn Masala Curry!

Paneer and corn together make a wonderful combination. The sweetness of the corn enriches the milky flavour of the paneer.

Paneer Corn Masala

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Paneer Corn Masala
Ingredients:
200 gm Paneer (homemade or store-bought)
100 gm sweet corn
Onions-2 large, sliced
Tomatoes-2 medium, chopped or sliced
Green chillies-2, slit
Ginger-Garlic paste-1 tbsp
Fennel seeds-1 tsp
Cumin seeds-1 tsp
Red chilli powder-1 tsp
Coriander powder-1 tsp
A pinch of turmeric
Garam Masala-1 tsp
Oil-2 tbsp
Ghee-2 tbsp
Fresh cream-2 tbsp
Coriander leaves to garnish
Salt to taste
Water – 1 cup

Method:

In a pan, add cumin and fennel seeds and let them splutter. Add onions, green chillies and ginger-garlic paste. Saute till the onions turn translucent. Add tomatoes and saute till they soften. Add a little water, cover and cook till oil separates. Keep aside to cool.

While the sauce mixture cools, cut paneer into cubes and shallow fry them in oil. Keep aside. Boil corn till soft, drain water and keep aside.

Once the ingredients for the sauce cools, blend it in a mixer till it is a thick, gravy-like consistency. Heat ghee in a pan, add this mixture to the pan with some water if the gravy is too thick. Add turmeric, red chilli powder and coriander powder. Let the masala cook. Add the paneer and corn and let it simmer. Add garam masala and switch off the stove. Add cream and coriander leaves for garnish. Enjoy hot with chappati, paratha, pulao or plain steamed rice.

Delicious Grilled Cheese

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Gooey, buttery, crisp, salty Grilled Cheese Sandwich! Comforting in all the right ways!

August is the month when Americans celebrate National Sandwich Month. And this post is a tribute to my all time favourite food–the Grilled Cheese Sandwich!

It’s not only one of the simplest foods but also one of the most versatile foods. Imagine a delicious Grilled Cheese for breakfast/lunch/snack or as soup accompaniment for dinner! Grilled Cheese is perfect for any time of the year. It’s great for kids’ lunch boxes but can also be perfectly comforting for an adult. Bet you can’t say no to a buttery, gooey, salty, crisp Grilled Cheese!

My recipe is different from the Classic Grilled Cheese as I have used a bit of feta along with cheddar for this sandwich. You can use any cheese like the American yellow and white cheese, Swiss cheese or Muenster.

Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Ingredients:

2 slices soft sandwich breads
2 spoons full of Butter
Grated Cheddar and Feta, used in proportion to the bread

Method

Heat a flat or deep pan over medium heat.
Evenly apply butter to both the slices of bread.
Place the bread on the pan with the buttered side facing down.
Flip the breads and divide the cheese evenly on both breads.
Once the cheese begins to melt, flip on slice gently on top of another.
Press lightly and keep turning the sandwich till the crusts are golden crisp and the cheese has melted.
Serve hot.

 

Kanji Payar: Ritualistic Rain Food

As rains beat down the parched earth last night, my city rejoiced with some ritualistic rain foods. In India, it’s amazing how one relates to rain food depending on the state or region they belong to.

For example, people in Gujarat start queuing up outside shops selling hot dalwadas at the first hint of rain. This crunchy deep-fried food is served with sliced onions and fried-salted green chillies along with a steaming cuppa masala chai.

If you are from the northern part of the country, I am sure the rains will make you crave for bhutta (corn on the cob) and spicy pakode.

Khichuri with Ilish Maach during monsoon have a special place in the heart of Bengalis while Keralites (at least the ones I know) wait for monsoon to make the humble and nutritious kanji-payar (rice porridge with moong dal).

Yes, you guessed it right. This post is about Kanji-Payar, which is like a warm hug during cold, rainy nights. But most of all, this post is about a dear friend of mine, a non-Keralite, who loves this comfort food of Keralites and can have it all around the year.

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Vinay Umarji, whom I met about eight years ago, has been like the kanji-payar in my life. Boring usually 😀 but an indispensable part of my life. He is the kanji payar that I need after I have had a series of wrong food choice.

He is quite goofy, like Mr. Bean but smart and highly intelligent. Of course there are things that I dislike about him but the good in him overpowers the irritating things about him. The most irritating thing about him is that he repeats everything you say! But one quality (among many) for which I have high regards for him is that he really doesn’t bother what people think or say about him. He is a perfectionist when it comes to work and no, he hasn’t paid me yet to say all these good things about him.

I had been wanting to dedicate a post to him for years now but the right moment came today: When I shared exciting news about my life with him and he had the same exciting news to share with me about his life! At first I thought he was just trying to irritate me by repeating what I said! Moving on to the recipe for kanji payar…

Kanji Payar

For kanji:

Wash one cup Kerala red rice and cook it in a pressure cooker with 4 cups of water for at least 4 whistles. Once done, season it with salt.

For payar:

image1 (9)Soak whole moong dal in water for at least 4 hours or overnight. In a pressure cooker, cook the dal with a pinch of turmeric and salt to taste. Blend one cup shredded coconut, a pinch of cumin, three shallots, four or five small garlic cloves and some water to  make a paste. Add this mixture to the boiled moong dal and cook till the first boil. Switch off the stove and add a tempering of mustard seeds, 2 split red chilly and curry leaves in coconut oil.

Enjoy the steaming bowl of kanji payar while you watch the rains.

 

 

Spicy, sour, sweet Prawn curry!

I love cooking prawns. And last Sunday was about a delicious prawn curry from my most-frequented vacation destination: GOA!

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My bowl of bliss!

The recipe I used is of NDTV’s Chef Aditya Bal. I have made this before during summers but this time it was special because I had just spoken to him a couple of weeks ago for a food related event that my company was hosting. I admire this chef because his recipes are healthy (he is a model-turned-chef) and easy to follow.

This particular Goan prawn curry has a very strange mix of ingredients. It is a combination of ripe mangoes, jaggery, tamarind and spices, making it a very interesting, sweet-sour-spicy affair!

Goan Prawns Ambot Tik with Kerala Rice and Pappadam

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Ambot (sour) and Tik (spicy) in Portuguese, this dish is traditionally made with fish by Goans. As I did not measure my ingredients, I am going to the recipe straightaway.

I cooked about 500 gms prawns with salt and turmeric in water till they were half done. Drained them. You can keep the stock for later, in case your gravy is too thick.

I roasted the following and made a paste out of it:
Cumin, fennel seeds, red and green chillies, black pepper and coriander seeds in 2 tbsp oil.

I fried this paste in 2 tbsp oil and then added soaked tamarind water (I prefer fish tamarind), a small piece of jaggery, a few cubes of ripe mango, one cup of coconut milk and prawns.

Then, I added some salt and let the gravy thicken. You can temper it with the usual mustard-red chillies-curry leaves, which I skipped.

 

 

See food, eat food!

colourfulA friend of mine is on a ‘see food’ diet. She sees food and eats it.

This friend is tall and definitely not overweight. But she loves to go on silly fad diets and then when they don’t work out, she gets frustrated and goes on her ‘see food’ diet.
So, when she called to say that she’ll be over for dinner, I knew most conversations would ultimately end with her complaining about her imaginary weight gain.  I dragged myself to the kitchen, checked my refrigerator for a quick recipe and found some frozen prawns. Yes! Sea food!
Made a quick prawn cocktail and some broccoli soup to go with it. The recipe can be made in a healthy and an unhealthy way, depending on the dressing. I chose the cheese sauce dressing instead of the vinaigrette. Serves my friend right for fussing over food so much! 😉
Prawn Cocktail
300 gm Prawns (fresh or frozen) de-veined
Lemon Juice from a small lemon
Salt
Olive Oil
Half Cup Water
Pepper
Fresh Spinach Leaves
Bell Peppers, one red & yellow each
Mushrooms halved
Cheese sauce, according to taste
To soften the frozen prawns, I added half a cup of water with salt and brought it to a boil. Once the water dried up, I removed it from heat and drizzled olive oil, pepper and lemon juice over it.
To make the prawn cocktail, I sauteed the vegetables in a teaspoon of olive oil. I did not add salt as the cheese sauce has enough salt. Added the prawns and the cheese sauce and done!