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.

 

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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!

Onam Festival & Avial

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Avial: An inseparable part of Onasadya

Onam, the biggest festival of Malayalis, falls tomorrow. For me, the day is all about food, family, friends and a lot of fun. Onasadhya, the Onam lunch, is the most delicious part about this festival of Kerala. It’s a feast, if enjoyed once, will be relished forever!

Legend goes that Onam is celebrated to invite the spirit of King Mahabali, a former king of Kerala in whose reign there was no unhappy person. Meals are strictly vegetarian on Onam and there are essentially 13 food items served on a banana leaf. There are pickles of various kinds, banana chips for crunch, fruits, chutneys, curries, side-dishes, buttermilk and two or three types of payasam (kheer/pudding). Rice is the main component of this elaborate meal.

We Malayalis don’t need a reason to celebrate Kerala cuisine but we look forward to Onam to enjoy a combination of deliciousness on this day. Here, I am sharing the recipe of Avial, a mixed vegetable side dish, without which any Onasadya is incomplete.

Kerala’s Avial 

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Packed with veggies, this Onam special Avial can be relished all round the year

Ingredients:

The following vegetables, peeled and sliced:
Elephant Foot Yam (Suran in Hindi) – 1 cup
Raw Plantain – 1 cup
Winter melon/Ash gourd – one cup
Snake gourd (padavalanga in Malayalam)
Carrot – 1
Beans – 1/2 cup
Drumstick – 1
Raw Mangoes (if available), half a piece

To be ground together:
Coconut, grated – 1 cup
Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
Garlic – 3-4 small cloves
Green chillies – 3

For seasoning:
Salt
Turmeric, a pinch
Coconut oil – 2 tbsp
Curry leaves, a handful
Curd (to be substituted for raw mangoes)

Method: 

In a deep pan, cook together yam and plantain with a little salt and turmeric. Once half done, add winter melon and other vegetables with some more salt and cook till soft but not mushy. Use very less water to cook but make sure it does not get overcooked. Each vegetable should hold its individual identity and taste.

Add the ground paste and cook for a few minutes. Add curd and remove switch off the flame.  Add coconut oil and curry leaves. Serve with rice and rasam.

 

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.

 

Forming Food Friendships at Workplace

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Matar Paneer

Food can be great ice breakers!

I just completed three months of employment at my current workplace and when I look back at my last 10 years of being employed by different companies, I realize that food has been an integral part of how I connect with my colleagues.

Most of my wonderful friendships at work can be attributed to food. When it comes to forming new food friendships, my new workplace is no different.  I have bonded over my new friends at work over food. So much, that one of my senior colleagues keeps wondering aloud how my group of work buddies can talk about food all day! 😀

I firmly believe that colleagues who eat together, work better together. Harvard Business Review’s December 2015 issue focused on the aspect of team building in the cafeteria. It basically talks about how corporations plan expensive outings to encourage teamwork. But a better way to do that now, according to research by Cornell University is deceptively simple: Encourage teams to eat together.

For me, knowing that there is an interesting dish waiting in my tiffin (or of one of my colleagues’), brings an unexplainable excitement to work till lunch. That doesn’t mean I don’t feel like working post-lunch. Because then there is a delicious snack waiting for later! And I have managed to convert some of my colleagues into “Good Morning! What have you brought for lunch?” kind of conversationalists.

While we don’t need the weather to behave in a particular way so that we can talk about food, the rain somehow makes it an even better time to talk about food. This particular post is about my favourite combination during winter and monsoon: paneer (cottage cheese) and matar (peas).

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What’s in your lunch box?

Matar Paneer

Ingredients:

250 gm cubed paneer, fried till firm and light brown
1 cup green peas, boiled till a little mushy but retaining its bright colour
Paste of 2 onions
2 tomatoes boiled and pureed
1 tsp each of chopped ginger, garlic and green chillies
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 bay leaf
1 tsp powdered red chilli
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp coriander seeds powder
1 tsp garam masala
2 tsp ghee (clarified butter), oil or butter
Salt to taste
A pinch of asafoetida (optional)
One cup of water

Method:

Heat ghee and add cumin seeds and bay leaf. Add the onion paste and saute till the raw smell fades. Add ginger, garlic and green chillies and saute. Add tomato puree and all the powdered masalas, except garam masala. Stir fry till the fat separates.

Add peas and paneer along with water and salt. Bring to a boil and simmer till the gravy thickens. Add garam masala and switch off the stove a minute later. Serve hot with roti or rice.

 

 

 

 

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.