Chicken Kiev and All That Butter….

I must have been 9 or 10 years old when I first had a bite of Chicken Kiev and fell in love. It was an experience I never forgot and I never thought I would taste it again for a long long time, well until I reached Russia this year. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s go to the beginning first.

Continue reading “Chicken Kiev and All That Butter….”

Himachal Chronicles: Palampur and around

Earlier this year, we made a family trip to Palampur, to celebrate my husbands grandfathers 90th birthday. 90 years, can you imagine! And nanaji is a legend, if I may say so. Hale and hearty, and ready with glorious stories of his past, it’s always a treat to spend time with him. For his 90th, he wanted to visit his village in Palampur, the place where he grew up and went to school as a boy,  and his home where he had countless memories of play and family.

Continue reading “Himachal Chronicles: Palampur and around”

Farzi Cafe : DLF Cyberhub

Everyone in India has been raving about Farzi cafe, and this year when I visited India for my annual vacation it was on my must-visit-and-be-gluttonous list. Weeks went by and we got so busy with family functions, friends, etc etc that the Farzi dream seemed to be slipping away. And then the younger brother came-a visiting along with his adorable girlfriend. No more reason was needed. Husband, me, brother and girlfriend made our way there on a wonderful Saturday afternoon and sat down to eat.

And eat we did. With our eyes, hands, and minds.

Continue reading “Farzi Cafe : DLF Cyberhub”

Wholewheat (Atta) Pancakes with Homemade Berry Compote

Tis the season of berries.. tra la la laaaa!

I told you I love spring, right. Reason # 5001 in my I LOVE SPRING list is because this is the season when berries are a-plenty and a-cheap. And we buy them by the bushel. And then forget about them if they are lying around in the back of the fridge. Uh-oh. Mushy berry alert!

Sundays bring with them the most time for me to make a leisurely breakfast, and for both of us to sit together and be lazy and enjoy our way through the meal. Wanting to be healthy yet have an indulgent brekkie, I decided to make us some atta pancakes, wholewheat for y’all, topped with a homemade berry compote.

use5

Remember the secret formula that I shared that all of us pancake lovers should know by heart?  Well, i decided to test it with wholewheat flour and see if it still worked its magic. Well, I was using plain old atta, and it needed a bit more liquid actually, so tweaked the recipe by adding half a cup more.

To be honest, while I was cooking them, I was slightly put off by how boring they looked, and I was worried that they wouldn’t look pancake-y enough.

use3

But I was worrying needlessly. Once I made them all and stacked ’em up, look! Spot the difference, I dare you :)

use4

 

Ingredients

For the pancakes:

  1. Wholewheat flour: 2 cups
  2. Eggs: 1
  3. Buttermilk: 2.5 cups
  4. Unsalted butter, melted: 1/2 cup
  5. Powdered cinnamon: 1/2 tsp
  6. Baking soda: 1/2 tsp

For the compote:

  1. Mixed berries: 1 cup
  2. Water: 1/2 a cup
  3. Sugar, if needed: to taste

Method

For the compote:

  1. In a pan, mix the berries and water (and sugar, if using) and bring to a boil
  2. Simmer on medium heat and mash the berries in the bubbling water
  3. The consistency of the compote can be reduced to as much as you personally prefer; runny, or thick. The former should take about 20 minutes, while the latter should take about 30 minutes or so.

use1

 

For the pancake batter:

  1. Mix the dry ingredients (flour, cinnamon, baking soda) in a bowl and keep aside.
  2. In another bowl, mix your wet ingredients (egg, milk, butter).
  3. Now add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and voila, your pancake batter is ready, quick and easy. (Also, this batter can be stored in the fridge overnight, so you can actually make it a day in advance and quickly churn out pancakes in the morning, although with the extra fibre that wholewheat flour has, you might have to thin out the batter before making the pancakes)

For cooking the pancakes:

  1. Cover your serving plate with aluminium foil to store the pancakes in, in order to keep them warm while you make the entire batch.
  2. Heat up good quality non stick pan, to medium heat.
  3. Once the pan is nicely heated, take a ladle full of the batter, pour into pan, and using the base of the ladle spread out the batter to flatten it. If you want thicker pancakes (like I do), add on another ladle-full, and then spread out the mix in the pan. Otherwise for crispy, thin pancakes one ladle of batter should be enough.
  4. In about 2-3 minutes, the pancake should be ready to flip over to the other side. Cook both sides to your ideal consistency. If you like well cooked pancakes, keep on for 3-4 minutes each side, while browning both sides. If you don’t want browned pancakes, ensure you cook each side for less than 3 minutes.

use2

To serve:

Layer up your pancakes. Pour the fresh compote and maple syrup on it. Serve with or without fruits. And maybe some cream? :)

use6

Notes:

You can put on the compote before you start the pancakes. Saves time and it should be ready by the time you have made the pancakes.

The atta pancakes might have a slightly fibrous taste to them. If you think you might not be a fan of it, try masking it with some vanilla essence, or adding some dried fruits to the batter. I was brave enough and had them,with dollops of honey and compote :)

You don’t need to add butter or oil in the pan to cook the pancakes, as the batter already has butter incorporated in it. That is why the quality of a good non stick pan cannot be stressed enough.

Can you see bits of the butter bubbling away on the surface??
Can you see bits of the butter bubbling away on the surface??

These were an amazing alternative to the weekend fatty indulgence. 

If you try them let me know how it works out for you. Waiting to hear from y’all!

Homemade Nutty and Cinnamon Muesli

I had been wanting to do this for the longest while. Make a batch of  muesli at home. It sounded so simple. And thanks to the in-laws trips from India, I seemed to have every kind of dry fruit at home. So what was stopping me?

My inherent laziness. That’s all.

And also, the fact that at any given time we have 3 types of cereal lying at home. There’s the healthy bran flakes that Arjun Singh gets home, the Chocolate Pillows (from Aldi) that we both love, and the whatever-be-my-fancy-that-month batch of muesli/granola that I get from the supermarket (this month I am tripping over a dark chocolate and cranberry oat cluster pack from Carman’s Kitchen.. it’s supremely blissful).

I love milk and cereal for breakfast. And especially cold cold milk and a crunchy bite to my cereal. So last week when we ran out of our truck load of cereal (gasp!) and I didn’t want to make a trip to the market JUST for cereal, I decided to make some at home.

And trust me, it’s one of the easiest things on the planet. Plus super healthy too.

You need good quality oats, your choice of dry fruits, seeds, and nuts, honey/maple syrup, sugar, cinnamon and you are good to go. And because you are making this at home, you can control what goes in, the amount of sugar level, the level of crispiness or smokiness you want the cereal to have. It’s all super easy and simple.

Oats:

The thing with making muesli at home is that there is no fixed ratio of ingredients. Obviously the oats are the most in quantity, and it is better if you make it with traditional rolled oats. You can always try making muesli with quick cooking oats but do remember that if you are aiming to make granola (muesli that is baked for longer and thus chewier) and/or granola clusters, then traditional oats get better results. They change texture which quick cooking oats don’t. That’s what gets the oats to bind together and form those yummy crunchy clusters.

Muesli1

 The Add Ons

This is where you make up your muesli mix. Almonds, walnuts, cashews, pistachios, dried figs, dried prunes, dried apricots, seeds, coconut flakes, raisins. Put them all. Or put none. Okay, put some of these at least. It’s not muesli if its just dried oats and milk!

Word of advice: If you plan on adding chocolate chips, fresh fruit etc, do so in the last 5-10 minutes of the bake. Not from the very beginning.

Muesli 2

muesli3

muesli4

The Sugar and Syrup

This is the part where you add the honey or maple syrup or both and mix up everything. I sprinkled some vanilla sugar and a touch of cinnamon.

muesli5

The Bake

After giving it a thorough mix, lay it out on a baking tray and put it in a pre-heated oven to bake at 180 C for 10 minutes. After the 10 minutes, take them out and swirl the mix around with a spatula and put it back in the oven to bake for a further 10 minutes. This is so that the entire mixture gets baked evenly.

muesli6

muesli7

I baked this batch for about 25 minutes, mixing it up twice, and then taking it out of the oven to cool down. Once cool, store in an air tight jar. The smell of the nutty baked muesli will enliven the house.

muesli8

I can’t wait to make my next batch of breaky cereal. This one got over in 3 days. Hope you try it too. And hit me up with  a comment below if you have any questions, feedback, criticism or just want to say hi.

Happy munching!

:)

 

Eat Your Way Through Australia: Seven Snacks From The Land Down Under

#BlogAlong April 2016 invites you to share food stories. This post has been one of my most favourite ones to write and got so much love so I had to share it again with everyone. Come along and #BlogAlong and share your FOOD stories, no limits or holds barred :)

Continue reading “Eat Your Way Through Australia: Seven Snacks From The Land Down Under”

Meetha

The last few weeks have been maddeningly hectic. Family came visiting, I went vacationing, then Arjun Singh fell ill and time was spent in nursing.. all in all, action on the blog was lessening.

I'm a poet and I know it.

Anyhoo, I needed to reduce the count of draft posts vs published posts. And I thought I would start by sharing a simple pahaadi recipe with you all. It’s a sweet dish; the simplest sweet treat that anyone can whip up in 10 minutes.

Meetha, or as they say it in our side Mitha. Mitha feat

Mitha is essentially a sugar syrup cooked with fennel and boondi, and the memory of the first time I had it is so vivid in my head. The whole family had gathered together for a family occasion, and my naani had called a pahaadi cook to make the meal. We were eating on pattals (plates made out of leaves) and after finishing the main course I went to have the dessert, which was mitha. My mom told me to have it with some rice, and not knowing the right proportion of eating the dish, plus the fact that I eat rice like a truck driver, I took a ton of rice, and then poured an equal amount of mitha on it. Wrong idea. It was too sweet and too syrupy and too thin for my liking. And I complained. That’s when my mom showed me the right way to eat it. She took about a ladle of rice, and about 2 spoonfuls of the mitha and served that to me. What a world of difference THAT made. The mitha was not overtly sweet, and I could taste the fennel more than the sugar. And the whole dish was sweet rice rather than being sweet syrup with bits of rice.

Mitha4

And as is true everywhere, every household has their own way of making this dish. But my father, the awesomeness that he is, has an APL and BPL version of mitha. For those of you who are still figuring that one out, APL is Above Poverty Line, and BPL is Below..  :/ (yeah, I don’t get his sense of humour too at times)

He actually shared the BPL version with me first because he said it’s not that I am poor, but so lazy that I won’t spend more time than needed in the kitchen. How well he knows me. Hugs to you, dad!

I am going to share both the versions here, and depending on how much time and resources you have, take your pick :)

Mitha5

Version 1

Ingredients

  1. Ghee, 2-3 tbsps
  2. Cloves, 2
  3. Cardamoms, 2
  4. Cinnamon stick, 1 small
  5. Sugar, 10 tsps
  6. Water, 250 ml
  7. Fennel (saunf), 1/2 tsp
  8. Boondi, 2 tbsps
  9. Dry fruits (sliced almonds, raisins)

Method

  1. In a pan, preferably with a thick base, like a wok or kadhai, heat the ghee
  2. To this, add the cloves, cardamoms, cinnamon, and dry fruits. Roast them for a minute or 2
  3. Add the fennel
  4. Then add the sugar and water, and bring to a boil
  5. After one boil, simmer the mixture until it reaches the desired thick consistency of a syrup
  6. Add the boondi, and serve hot with steamed rice

Mitha1

Version 2

Ingredients:

  1. Sugar, 10 tsps
  2. Water, 250 ml
  3. Fennel (saunf), 1/2 tsp
  4. Boondi, 2 tbsps

Method:

  1. Heat a kadhai, or work. Add sugar, saunf and water.
  2. Bring to a boil, and then simmer until it reaches the desired thick consistency of a syrup
  3. Add the boondi, and serve hot with steamed rice

Mitha3

 

I am sharing this over at Angie’s amazing blog party Fiesta Friday at The Novice Gardener

 

Teliya-maah

He: Wha.. what is the dish called?

Me: Teliyaa-maah

He: hahah, you mean, teliyamma

Me: No, I mean Teliya-maah

He: hahahaha

Me: Grrrrr

Another of my precious Himachali favourites for you all. Teliya-maah, which simply put, is a daal  cooked in lots of (mustard) sarson oil, hence the teliya (meaning oily), and the maah (whole urad/maah dal). I know for a fact when I put this post up, the Sood clan will all have their own versions, tips, tricks etc. That’s another reason why I love putting up Sood recipes on the blog, it helps me add to my treasure trove.

In fact, I already know where I erred with this dish. Not erred so much as gave it my own twist, but to the elders it might be sacrilegious. When the dish is called teliyamaah, the direct interpretation is that it needs to have more oil than maah dal. Honest. Pahaadis love all that oil and ghee. Makes no dent on their hardworking bodies. But people like me, haha, yeah, I can do without the oil. Also, the consistency of the dal is on the drier than mushier side as the oil provides the gravy, not the mushy dal. But for a first time attempt, I tried my best. Hopefully, will get better the more I make it.

Final2

This is not a dish that will be an everyday occurrence in a household. It is a special occasion dish. Teliyamaah is an important part of a Dhaam meal in Himachal. Dhaam is served on festive occasions; weddings, mundans, etc; and it is a sight for the eyes, and a feast for the soul. Traditionally, the whole village is invited and a long list of himachali delicacies are served; maani, mandra, khatte bhaturoo, jimikand, meetha,…. it goes on and on.

This isn’t Arjun Singhs’ favourite pahaadi dish as it has tons of  raisins in it, and he isn’t a fan of anything sweet in his main course. But I gobbled it up, like I have been doing since tiny girl-dom when I had it for the first time.

 

Saute onions and spices

Caramelised onions

 

Add the dal

 

And the star: the dry fruits

Ingredients

  1. Whole urad dal, 1 cup, soaked overnight (or a minimum of 3 hours)
  2. 1 large onion, finely sliced
  3. Ginger, finely sliced, about 1.5 tbspns
  4. Garlic, finely chopped, 3-4 cloves
  5. Mustard oil, 5 tbsps (at the least)
  6. Mixed dry fruits, 1/2 cup (sliced almonds, sliced cashews, raisins)
  7. Whole spices
    • Cinnamon, 1 stick
    • Cloves, 3
    • Small cardamom, 2
    • Big cardamom, 1
    • Mace, equivalent of a pinch of powder
    • Bay leaves, 2-3
  8. Salt, Turmeric powder, to taste
  9. Hing, a pinch
  10. Coriander powder, 1.5 tsp
  11. Coriander leaves, to garnish

 Method

  1. In a pressure cooker, boil the dal with 2 cups water, the whole spices (except for the bay leaves), and salt and turmeric
  2. Once boiled, ensure the dal is dry. If the dal needs to be cooked further to dry out the water, please do. Try and not let it be too mushy, and retain the separate-ness
  3. In a deep bottomed pan, preferably a kadhai, heat the oil until it reaches burning point.
  4. Add the bay leaves and hing to the hot oil
  5. After about 10 seconds, add the onion, ginger and garlic. Saute until the onions turn a beautiful golden brown
  6. To this, add the coriander powder, and dry fruits and cook for a further 2 minutes
  7. Add the dal
  8. If unlike me, you have added a generous helping of oil, then at a certain stage the oil will start leaving the dal which you shall be able to see quite clearly
  9. However, if the oil is not as much as tradition demands, then you have to be vigilant enough to see the little pools of oil running away from the dal
  10. Yay: the teliya-maah is cooked and ready
  11. Garnish with finely chopped fresh coriander, and flaked almonds.

Serve hot with rice.

 

Final1

Avocado Feta Toast with Mushrooms and Spinach

How yumm-azing does that sound, especially if you are one of those freaks like me who loves avocados, spinach, AND mushrooms; the uber-healthy trifecta. Read on for something super-easy and super-scrumptious.

Oz cafes have a ton of amazing breakfast options. There’s the Shakshuka (turkish style eggs baked and topped with a spicy tomato sauce and chorizo), indulgent French toasts, omnipresent pancakes with an assortment of too good to be true toppings, Big Breakfasts, omelettes, and so on. (I could go on and on, typing and drooling).

A popular vegetarian breakfast option is avocado on sourdough toast which can be served with a side of eggs, or mushrooms, or even without. Having never ordered that (coz I am of the belief that when I order out, I will only order that which I will not make at home, so its mostly over-indulgent french toasts or million-toppings pancakes or potato rostis yada yada yada…) I always stored the idea somewhere in the back of my head.

avotoast2

Avocados are an extremely versatile vegetable. You can use them as spreads, as dips, as salad fillers, and they are even super useful in baking. So using basic ingredients like bread, mushrooms, spinach, feta and avocado, here is a simple yet scrumptious breakfast plan, which doesn’t leave a mound of dirty pots and pans in its wake. Big yay!!

  1. Avo on Toast:

    • Crumble the feta cheese so you can sprinkle it onto the toast
    • Peel and scoop the avocado out into a bowl
    • Mash it
    • Add salt, pepper, oregano, and chilly flakes as per your taste
    • Toast 2 slices of preferred bread to make them crunchy
    • Spread the avocado mash on to the toast
    • Sprinkle the feta cheese on topAvo Toast1

      2. Sauteed mushrooms with spinach

    • Slice the mushrooms
    • Heat butter in a pan
    • Add the sliced mushrooms
    • Saute them for about 5-7 minutes
    • Switch off the gas, and add chopped spinach
    • Season with salt and pepper
    • Serve warm with the avocado toast

avo toast3

Serve warm.

And like I say, now the world is your avocado bowl. Mash it, spread it, slice it, season it the way you like it. And then satisfyingly, eat it :)

 

Avotoast4