Confused weather salad

The weather in Ahmedabad is totally confused these days. So much so, that most of us end up being in a ‘fashion show’, changing clothes every few hours. For instance, in the morning we wear a warmer but then it gets too warm during the day and we change into cotton clothes. By evening, it’s raining and we are in raincoats and by night, the blankets are out 😀

But food is something we all find comfort in, given any weather 🙂 So, here goes my super simple salad recipe with just 3 veggies and 3 other ingredients to make you give it a shot!

Confused weather salad

Ingredients:

Sliced/rounded Carrot

Sliced/rounded Beetroot

Sliced/rounded Cucumber

Salt

Pepper

Lemon juice/balsamic vinegar

Method:

Really? All you have to do is mix ’em all up and eat 😀

salad

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Almond Cake with Peanut Butter frosting for your pooch!

rocket1Wow! It’s been almost a year since I wrote something here. Among other things, what has kept me super busy has been our pet boxer–Rocket! 😀 I remember the day he came into our lives as a teeny little baby, all of 2 months in May 2013 🙂 Extremely vulnerable yet brave, a bit cautious of his surrounding, his eyes gleaming with curiosity but most of all, very friendly and trusting.

When we decided to get a dog last year, my parents were a bit apprehensive because of the “being tied down” feeling that comes with pets. But since the day he came into our lives, there is not a single person in my family or extended family who can imagine a day without him.

So, he turned 1 yesterday and we celebrated his birthday with family, cake, dinner and fun 🙂 Dogs love peanut butter so I baked a Rocket-friendly almond cake with peanut butter frosting and a horrible attempt at writing a message on it 😦 And we also got Rocket a gift–a giant tennis ball 😀 This cake is super easy to bake and I made it less sugary as too much sugar is not good for dogs. Dunno how you all will like this cake but your pet sure won’t be able to keep her paws off this treat!

Dog-friendly Almond cake with Peanut Butter Frosting

Ingredients:

250 grams softened unsalted butter (softened)
200 grams caster sugar
150 grams powdered almonds
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
3 eggs
2 teaspoons of milk
150 grams self-raising flour
1 tablespoon Oil
250 grams Raw peanuts or groundnuts

Method:

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Cream the sugar and butter in a food processor or whisk it by hand. Add eggs one at a time and whisk it till it is fluffy. Carefully fold in the almond powder, the vanilla essence, milk and flour. Pour the mixture into a greased and lined cake tin and bake for 45 minutes. I start checking at 30 minutes as sometimes the cake is ready. Insert a fork and if it comes out clean, the cake is ready. Turn the cake tin upside down on a plate once it cools down.

For the frosting, roast the peanuts in a tablespoon of oil and then blend it in a mixture. You can blend it depending on whether you like it chunky or smooth. Once done, spread it evenly on the cake. I have stored the remaining peanut butter in the refrigerator as a bread spread–one of my easy breakfast options.

 

 

Homemade Indian-style Pizza

Sania, my nine-year-old niece, is one of the most intelligent kids I have known. She is one of the children I have seen right from their birth through each step in their lives. Born as an incredibly beautiful child with amazing, lovely eyes, Sania and I share a bond that I have never shared with any other child. She has this wonderful ability to surprise you by telling you what you are thinking. She can be this wise little lady, almost making you laugh at her unsolicited advice every other minute. Her honesty and livewire attitude are the most adorable qualities besides her quest to be independent about the smallest activity since she was a year old.

I remember how my friends would rush back from college so we could play with Sania at my place. She knows all my friends by their first names, some even by their nicknames, and keeps asking about how each one of them is placed in life. She remembers every little thing about every one. No wonder, I love spending time with Sania also because she takes me through my wonderful past.

Four years ago, Sania was shown her parents’ wedding album. After carefully looking at all the pics and identifying most guests at the reception, this kid became curious as to why she wasn’t invited to such an important occasion of the most important people in her life. After many failed attempts to make Sanu understand that she wasn’t born to be able to attend the wedding, Sania starts wailing as to why her mommy and daddy couldn’t wait for her to arrive so that she could also be a part of the wedding and show the album to her friends!!! Even as my sister kept wondering how to remedy this instant errupt of emotion, the smart little girl got her recently clicked snap, in which she looks her best, and tells mommy to “paste it between the two of you”. And they continued to live happily ever after..

Today, I dedicate a dish to Sania that she loves the most and can eat at any time of the day, given any quantity: Homemade Pizza. And this is a special Pizza because it is made by her royal self 🙂 Remember, I just said she loves to be independent and try every thing that grown-ups do? 😉 Sania is such a foodie herself that the first thing she asks as she steps down her school bus every day is “what’s for lunch?” Yes, she is totally fussy about food like most kids are but I never had this kind of curiosity or preference for food when I was her age. 

As my sister insists on healthy food for her kids, this is a slightly healthier version of the junk-est of foods. We have used a wheat crust and loads of veggies. We have not bothered to start from scratch as the pizza crust is easily available in the market. As Indian-style, or let me call it the Gujarati-style, pizzas are thin, they more like wood-fired pizza bases compared to the doughy pizzas served at most pizza outlets.

Homemade Indian-style Pizza by Sania

Wheat crust

Olive oil

Cheese

Your favourite toppings. You can choose out of chicken sausages, paneer, corn, onion, tomatoes, bell peppers, olives, jalapenos, mushrooms and so on

For the pizza sauce:

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp butter

1 cup onion

3-4 cloves of garlic, minced

2 fresh tomatoes, boiled, peeled and seeds removed

3 tbsp tomato sauce

1 cup tomato puree

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

Method:

In a pan, heat olive oil with butter. Add minced garlic, tomatoes, paste and puree. Add the bay leaf and the rest of the ingredients. Stir and bring to a boil. Simmer and keep the flame on till it reaches a desired consistency. It should be thick enough to spread on the pizza base.

Once the sauce is ready, grease a plate on which you plan to bake the pizza. Place the pizza base on the plate and spread a large spoon of sauce over it. Sprinkle some cheese over the sauce. Arrange toppings as desired. Drizzle a little bit of olive oil all over the topping. Grate more cheese over it if you like it.

Set the oven on 180 degrees to preheat. Once done, place the baking plate with pizza inside the microwave on a high rack or a grill plate and press start. When done, cut into pieces and serve hot.

You can also cook this pizza on the pan. 🙂 Sania and I shared this pizza over a lot of chit-chat. She may only be nine but her life is on a roll, you see? 😉

Grilled Baby Potatoes and Mushrooms with Mint Sauce

Last week my mom retired from her state government job after 32 years of service. The farewell was as graceful as all the years of her service. Stepping into the campus where I spent a large part of my childhood stirred mixed feelings. While I felt very proud about my mom, I had this sad feeling that I won’t be able to come here as often as I used to. The slopes formed by lawns on which I used to slide down most evenings after school, the canteen where I was given the privilege to decide where every colleague of my mom would sit for lunch, the water cooler area I would rush to when I wanted to hide, the creepy corners where I was not allowed to and even dreaded to go, the little space behind my mom’s chair where she kept a little bed for me to rest after school, the tiny fish pond with lotuses (which was scrapped 😦 by the new director). I took a walk around the campus to show Prash all these memorable spots that I am gonna miss.

My mother smiled across the auditorium as my husband and I entered the large hall brimming with present and former employees. What followed was rounds of praises, shared memories and praises for mom. The entire staff then dropped mom home, where other members of our family and relatives were waiting. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that most of the staff knew almost all of our family and relatives. Now, that’s some bonding at work, which is rare in today’s times.

It was also her birthday that day so once the colleagues left after a round of snacks, ice cream and more good wishes, we took mom to her favourite restaurant these days: Mint Route. The owners, both friends of Prash, are Imagedarlings who make every visit of ours special. We ordered our favourite dishes but decided to try out a different starter/entree this time around. It was a tandoori platter with grilled potatoes, paneer, mushrooms and cauliflower.

Two days later, I was about to leave from work when Prash called to say he is cooking Tandoori aalu and mushrooms for me 🙂  What can I say? An ordinary day just became special. Here’s Prash’s version of grilled potatoes and mushrooms with mint sauce, dedicated to the years of service dedicated by my mom 🙂

Tandoori aalu and mushrooms with mint chutney

(Grilled potatoes and mushrooms marinated in yoghurt and served with mint sauce)

Baby potatoes boiled 500 gms

Button mushrooms 250 gms

Yoghurt or hung curd

Roasted chana dal (You can also use roasted besan/gramflour)

Ginger-garlic paste

Salt

Kashmiri chilli powder

Chaat masala or a pinch of amchoor

Oil

Mint chutney ingredients:

Mint leaves 250 gms

A handful of coriander leaves

Curd

Garlic

Green chillies

Salt

Method:

Peel the baby potatoes and prick them with a toothpick or a fork. Keep aside. Clean the mushrooms and cut them into half. Keep aside. Grind the roasted chana dal. In a bowl, take some hung curd, add the ground chana dal or gramflour, ginger-garlic paste, salt, chilli powder and chaat masala. Mix well. Marinate the potatoes and mushroom in this mixture for about 15 minutes. Pre-heat oven and grill the potatoes and mushrooms. My oven runs on auto-grill mode so I really do not bother with the temperatures. I suggest you grill the potatoes and mushrooms till they are nicely crisp and brown 🙂

For the mint sauce, mix all the ingredients and serve with the ready potatoes and mushrooms.

Veg Clear Soup

hot and healthy

So, I have been away from the blog for almost a month now. For the beautiful reason that my childhood friend Ragi Pillai was getting married. The wedding was as special as my dear friend and my partner in innocent crimes during school and college 🙂 Am back from the wedding and the vacation with truckloads of happy memories, one of them being planning a diet chart for my bestie…

Rags had started having soups, salads and fruits for dinner a month before the D-day. Sharing with all the would-be brides an easy, low cal, nutritious clear soup recipe to make you look fit and glowing on your special day…dedicated to the most amazing, gutsy, beautiful, intelligent and loving girl…love u Rags! ❤

Veg Clear Soup

Fresh vegetables floating in clear stock

Ingredients

Following vegetables 1/4 cup each:

Carrots chopped

Spring Onions chopped

French Beans chopped

Lettuce (Use cabbage if you are fine with the taste)

Button Mushrooms cut into halves

Green Peas

Green Chillies (optional) chopped

Soy Sauce

Salt to taste

Pepper

Tabasco

1 tsp Oil

Method:

In a medium-sized pan, boil all the vegetables till tender. Drain vegetables and keep the stock for further use. In another pan, heat oil, add the vegetables and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the vegetable stock, soy sauce, salt, pepper and 2-3 drops of tabasco.  Simmer for 5 minutes. Serve hot.

Masala French Fries

About two weeks ago, we went out to watch a movie after work. As the movie was to start at 10, we had little time to go home or out and have dinner so we decided to eat at the multiplex itself. Being a fairly new and the best multiplex in town, we expected the food to be above average.  However, the first bite into the Mexican salsa sandwich and it threatened to take off the flavour of the much looked-forward to movie :-/  The french fries were just okay and Prash couldn’t eat the chilly cheese toast beyond the first slice. Well, that inspired me to write about the masala french fries that I frequently make. The cheese chilly toast and my version of the mexican salsa sandwich follow as well, all dedicated to the brilliant movie and the super-excellent performance by my favourite actress since 2005: Vidya Balan!

Masala French Fries

A slightly healthier, Indian version of oven-baked french fries…

Ingredients

Potatoes 1 kg

2 small Onions chopped

1 Tomato chopped

2 Green Chillies chopped

Coriander Leaves chopped

Salt

Pepper

Chaat Masala

Red Chilli Powder

Parmesan cheese (optional)

How to go about it:

Wash and remove skin of the potatoes. Cut them into sizes of 1/4th inch thickness. Remember, if the potatoes are cut into thick slices, they may not crispy fry. Boil the sliced potatoes in some water and one tablespoon of salt till they are 75% done. Boiling the potatoes before frying or baking them will get you crispy, golden french fries. Drain the potatoes and transfer them to a bowl. Drizzle some salt and olive oil before you bake them in a 450 degree F oven for 25 minutes, flipping twice until crisped, cooked through and golden.In another bowl, mix together the vegetables, add fries, pepper, red chilli powder and chaat masala. You can also add some parmesan cheese and send them back into the oven for 5 more minutes. Serve hot with some ketchup and green chilli sauce. It’s a favourite and easiest-to-cook starter during parties at my place!

Grilled Prawns with Lemon Butter Rice

Sometime in July 2010, Prash and i went to Udaipur. While the lakes, palaces and the narrow, busy lanes are what Udaipur is usually remembered for, it is this low profile German restaurant there that has drawn us to Udaipur several times after that visit. A very unusual yet beautifully done place, this restaurant offers sumptuous Mediterranean food on its limited menu. There we had some amazing Greek gambas (shrimp/prawn) with lemon butter rice. The restaurant served us 6 large prawns on a bed of great-tasting rice. The second time we went to the same place a year later, the restaurant ran out of large prawns and served us some medium prawns. We were cool with it, obviously but the owner, a sweet German, himself came up to our table to apologize and even gave us a discount for not having large gambas in stock 🙂 Now, that’s what you call a real ‘atithi devo bhava’ attitude! Check out my version of the Greek gambas with lemon butter rice, dedicated to the love of my life and the good times in Udaipur!

Greek Gambas with Lemon Butter Rice

About: Marinated prawns grilled to perfection, served on a bed of tangy, buttery hot rice

Ingredients: (Serves 2 )

For the gambas:

Large Shrimps/Prawns (u can also use medium prawns) 500 gms

Garlic 1 clove finely chopped

Juice of half a lemon

Butter 200 gms

Salt

Pepper

Red chilly flakes or powder

For the rice:

Basmati rice 2 cups

Juice of half a lemon

Salt

150 gms Butter

How to go about it:

Clean and devein the prawns. Make sure you remove its digestive track- the black thin line that runs on its body. Leave it in a colander while you make the marinade. In a bowl, mix chopped garlic, butter, salt, pepper and chilly powder/flakes. Mix it well and add to the prawns. Give it a good mix to coat the prawns with the marinade, while taking care the prawns do not break. Refrigerate or simply keep aside for 30 minutes.

Wash basmati rice, add 2 cups of water and bring to boil in a pan. You can also add a teaspoon of oil at this stage to ensure the rice does not stick. Another way of cooking rice is to pressure cook it but cooking it in an open pan and draining the remaining water takes out most of  the starch in the rice. As basmati cooks pretty soon, I turn off the gas in 7-8 minutes and cover it for 2 minutes before draining the water. Stir with a fork, add butter, salt and some lemon juice. Keep aside till the prawns are ready.

Next, spread the prawns on a microwave safe plate and place it over the grill in the oven till it is cooked perfectly. You can also put the prawns on skewers and grill on the barbeque. To serve, place rice on a plate and add prawns in the centre on top of the rice. Enjoy 🙂

Hello world!

A teaspoon of love! That’s what I add to anything I cook. Although I don’t clearly remember  since when I became so fond of cooking, I my guess is it was after I met Prash.  May be it had to do something with travelling more and exploring various new eateries in town with a special company 🙂

Here I am not just writing down recipes but also dedicating them to all those who have inspired me to whip up a dish. It could be a special meal I had with those I care about, a delightful snack out a colleague’s tiffin or even a memorable food talk with an acquaintance  …just about any food that reminds me of someone!