Welcoming winter

hellowinterIt’s that time of the year, again! Winter is slowly setting in and there is plenty of winter produce available already in my city. Bright, green leafy vegetables, colourful fruits and fresh herbs. Winter is also the time when my city, Ahmedabad, hosts many food and music festivals.

Winter is the best season to gorge on a variety of Indian delicacies, which also hold nutritional properties. From undhiyu paired with hot puri to sarson-da-saag paired with makki-di-roti, from hot rasam to sweet gajar-ka-halwa, from bajra-methi theplas with homemade white butter to the spicy thotha paired with bread. Winter is also the time when a variety of delicious side dishes come out of the kitchen. Among the most popular ones are aathela amba haldar (pickled yellow turmeric), green garlic chutney, sliced radishes, garlic-chilli chutney, white butter, mint chutney, roasted or fried green chillies, etc.

Winter is also the time for both clear or rich soups and salads because the produce is so fresh around this time of the year. So, last night, I made creamy roasted pumpkin soup and paired it with a very easy-to-make stir fried paneer and vegetables.

Processed with Moldiv
Processed with Moldiv

Roasted Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin, sliced – 500 gm
Garlic – half-a-clove, peeled
Olive Oil – 2 tsp
Stock or Water
Cream/full fat milk – 3 tsp
Salt & Pepper

Heat oil and add sliced pumpkins with salt. Pot roast it till the sides catch a lovely golden brown colour. You can also roast it in the oven at 220 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Remove and pressure cook till two whistles. Keep aside till it cools down. In the same pan, roast garlic till it gets a light brown colour but should not burn.

In a blender, mix together roasted garlic and pumpkin and blend till it is of a creamy texture. Put the mixture back on the stove, add stock or water, according to the desired consistency. It should still be creamy. Before removing from the stove, add a pinch of pepper. Serve medium-hot, garnished with fresh cream or full fat milk.

Stir-fried Paneer and Vegetables

Paneer (marinated with a pinch of salt, turmeric,
coriander-chilli powder) – 250 gm
Grated cabbage, carrot, spring onion and green garlic – 50 gm each
Soya sauce – 1 tsp
Green chilli sauce – 1 tsp
Ground Pepper
Olive oil – 1 tsp

In a pan, heat oil and saute the marinated paneer. Transfer into the serving bowl. In the same pan, add vegetables, stir fry for 1 minute and add the sauces and pepper. I do not add salt again as the sauces contain salt. Stir again. Add on top of the paneer, mix well and serve hot.









Pasta in Spicy Red Sauce on Grilled Eggplants

Here I am. Stuck in office at 10:30 pm because of heavy rains, flooded roads, traffic blocks and several calls from concerned friends and family asking me not to venture out till water subsides. I have checked various website, talked to some not-so-busy colleagues and even played games on my iphone.

Rains are associated with hot, spicy, yummy food. And I would love to curl up on the couch with a generous helping of my favourite pasta recipe while it drizzled outside. But this is no drizzle. And the more it pours, the more I am reminded of chilli flakes for the heat, the anger in people stuck in traffic and some like me at office. So, here I am. Posting my all time favourite recipe with some extra chilli flakes dedicated to the rains in Ahmedabad today, which I describe as the beautiful, romantic blushing bride who turned into an annoying wife in no time.

Spicy Pasta in Red Sauce on Grilled Eggplants
Delicious penne in slightly spicy red sauce served on a bed of juicy, oven grilled eggplant slices


For the pasta

Penne pasta 200 gms

Two medium-sized tomatoes, boiled, peeled and deseeded

Tomato sauce (optional)

4 Garlic cloves, crushed

1 tsp Chilli flakes

1/2 tsp Basil

Thyme & Parsley (optional)

3-4 Olives

Olive oil


For the eggplant

One large Eggplant

Olive oil


Dried Oregano

Method: Bring three cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add salt. When it starts to boil, add pasta and a teaspoon of olive oil to keep the pasta from sticking. The pasta usually carries instructions about the time needed for cooking. Keep checking to ensure it does not get overcooked. Once done, drain and put under cold water to stop from cooking further. For the sauce, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan. Add garlic and chilli flakes. When the garlic gets a stlightly brown tinge, add the boiled and peeled tomatoes with a pinch of salt. Cover and cook till the tomatoes are of sauce consistency. Add tomato sauce at this stage, in case you like the pasta a little sweet. Once the sauce is slightly thick, add the cooked pasta to this mixture with a half a teaspoon of dried or fresh basil.

For the eggplant, I simply hold it over the gas stove for a minute till the skin thickens and can be pulled off easily. Once done, I remove the skin and cut them in to large, round slices. Put these slices in cold water and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Remove, pat dry and sprinkle some salt and oregano. Drizzle olive oil on an oven tray or a plate that can be put in to the oven. Line the eggplant slices. This goes in to the oven for about 30-40 minutes at 200 degree temperature. Once done, spread the eggplants on a serving plate and pour the heavenly pasta on to the bed of eggplants. Garnish with some green or black olives and you are ready to go 🙂