Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Phodni Mirchi / Capsicums in a spicy sesame paste

I am almost at the end of my holidays, actually the end of my son's school holidays, since all our travel plans revolve around that. Once his school starts, its back to the grind again and I start counting days to the next break.
We have been eating out at restaurants and been invited to so many lunches, plus Ma has been making all her specialties at home. Its been a treat and unfortunately, really showing up.
Got to get back home and hop back onto that dreaded treadmill !

phodni mirchi1

Phodni(Foe-d-nee) Mirchi is a Maharashtrian dish which is usually made with green chillies, but Ma has always made it with capsicums instead, since we never ate very spicy food at home. 'Phodni' ~ tadka or tempering and 'mirchi' ~ chillies. This has a zingy spicy taste, almost like a pickle and goes well with a simple dal and some hot rice

It can be stored for 3-4 days in the refrigerator

Phodni Mirchi

What you need -

4 green capsicums
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
juice of half a lemon
1.5 tbsp oil
1/2 salt

To roast and grind-
3-4 green chillies
1.5 tbsp sesame seeds / brown til (white til can also be used, but not the 'nylon' variety)
8-10 fenugreek / methi seeds
a pinch of asafoetida / hing

What you do with it -

Wash and dry the capsicums and green chillies
Chop the green chillies into big pieces and the capsicums into small pieces. Set aside
In a pan, heat a tbsp of oil and add the capsicums and the turmeric powder and roast well
The capsicums should retain a slight crunch, so don't cover the pan
Once done, transfer to a bowl and allow it to cool
In the same pan, add half tbsp oil and roast the green chillies, methi seeds, sesame seeds and hing
The sesame seeds tend to splutter a lot, so be careful while roasting this
Powder this in a blender, without any water
Add it to the cooled capsicum, with the salt
Sprinkle the lemon juice over it and serve with rice and dal

Monday, May 21, 2012

Aamras / Mango puree

The best thing about the summers in India is the abundance of mangoes. There are almost 70 varieties of mangoes cultivated across India. In Gujarat, the mango season starts as early as mid March and goes on till the first few weeks of July. The kesar is my favourite one, which is as good as the famous Alphonso, but not as exorbitantly priced..
I love eating mangoes as is, but a favourite combination is Aamras (Aam - mango, Ras - Juice) with puris. This is quite a popular dish in Maharashtra and Gujarat.

aamras puri

The thali places in Ahmedabad have aamras on their menu every summer. In addition to all the little bowls of vegetables and kadi, there is a bowl of aamras, which is filled every time you are nearing the end. My son is too small to have an entire thali, so he always gets a little plate for the puris and a bowl for aamras. The people serving are extremely attentive to him, despite the unending rows of people seated to eat and they fill up his bowl with aamras every time they pass by. He is always overawed with their service.

Here's a picture of a regular Gujarati thali. You will have more farsaan and sweets, in a fancier looking thali, if its a more upmarket restaurant

Pic Source: Sanjiv Khamgaonkar for CNNGo.com

My little fellow has been having mangoes after every meal these last few weeks. Ma made aamras puri when my cousins came over for lunch last week. He had that and then mango ice-cream for dessert. He is on a mango diet these days and totally loving it !!

The Raspuri variety is the best for the pulp, or you can use Alphonso, or a combination of the two. This time we used one Alphonso to add to the sweetness.



What you need -
(Serves 4-5 people)

8 ripe raspuri mangoes
1 alphonso mango (This adds to the flavour, or you can just make do with the raspuri)
1 tbsp sugar, if required
1/4 cup water
1 cardamom (optional)

What you do with it -

Soak the mangoes in water for about half an hour - this makes it easier to remove the pulp
Peel the skin off the mangoes and soak in the water
Remove as much pulp as possible from the mango as possible, using your hands
If using the cardamom, peel it and add the seeds along with the pulp
Blend the mango pulp with sugar. Use as much sugar as required
Squeeze the remaining pulp from the skin of the mangoes and add to the blended pulp
Blend once more for a smooth consistency
Serve with hot puris, or refrigerate for an hour and serve cold as a dessert

Friday, May 18, 2012

Fresh fig and goat cheese salad

I've been having a little too much fun since I landed in Bangalore. Meeting up with friends, visiting new restaurants across town and having family around - it really doesn't get better than this..I really dread that in a couple of weeks, I will be back to the grind. Early morning alarms, packing my son off to school and the hot, hot Ahmedabad weather..

Toscano, the very popular Italian restaurant with branches across Bangalore has opened one more at a new mall close to Ma's place. I've been there thrice in three weeks and still can't get enough of it !

fig and goat cheese salad

The last time I was there, we ordered for a salad that had fresh figs, apricots and feta with rocket leaves that tasted divine. The leaves were fresh, the feta delicious and the dressing just perfect with the sweet fruits
I then happened to visit Godrej Nature's Basket store and couldn't resist buying some goat cheese - this one was the French chèvre, recommended by the very helpful person at the store. The chèvre was creamy and crumbly.

A mild dressing, some lettuce and a generous amount of figs and chèvre and it was the nicest salad I have made so far !!
This was part of my Mother's Day dinner menu

Fresh Fig and goat cheese salad

What you need -
(serves 4-6)

10-12 lettuce leaves
8 fresh figs
5-6 walnuts
100gm goat cheese

1.5 tbsp honey
1 garlic clove crushed
juice of one lemon
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp crushed pepper

What you do with it -

Combine all the ingredients for the dressing and set aside
Break the walnut into smaller pieces and toast them lightly
Wash and dry the figs and cut into quaters, lengthwise
Tear the lettuce and arrange in a plate
Place the figs over it
Cut the chèvre with a light hand and spread over the figs
Sprinkle the dressing over the salad and then top with toasted walnuts

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mango smoothie

This Mother's day turned out to be a fun one ! My son made me a card thanking me for all the 'work' I do..I am glad that he acknowledges it this early in life :) He was quite insistent that I make a card for my mother, but I told him I would cook for her instead

My brother brought over lovely flowers and a delicious cake. My sister-in-law and I cooked up dinner. Our menu that day was mango smoothie, feta and fig salad, thyme roast potatoes and angel hair pasta with mushrooms in a creamy garlic sauce, with the cake and some chikoo ice-cream from Naturals for dessert


Ma has always been very open to trying different cuisines and she enjoyed this dinner. The photos don't do much justice to how tasty it all turned out. There were far too many complaints about how people had to keep waiting for food because I needed to click pictures for my blog...
I did start cooking pretty late that evening and so hurried up with the pictures and I just realized as I am typing this that I do not have any pictures of the angel hair pasta
Here's a sample of the rest of our dinner that night...


Starting with the easiest recipe here, will post the rest soon...
What did you do for Mother's day ?

Mango Smoothie
(makes 6 glasses)

What you need-

5-6 ripe mangoes (I used the raspuri variety)
1 ripe banana
1/2 cup curd / plain yogurt
1-2 tsp sugar, if required
10-15 cubes of ice

What you do with it-

Peel the skin off the mangoes and squeeze as much juice off the skin as you can
Cut the remaining to pieces
Peel and cut the banana
Add the sugar and curd
Put all these ingredients into the blender along with the ice and blend for 3-4 mins
Serve cold with a mint leaf for garnish

Monday, May 7, 2012

Kothu Parotta / South Indian style minced parottas with egg

Kothu Parotta. And yes, its Parotta, not the North Indian parantha / paratha, but the very South Indian parotta. We were in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, a southern Indian state, for a wedding, when I saw the roadside food stalls with boards of 'Parotta'. I imagined they had just got the spelling wrong, but then realised that this parotta is so completely different - its made of maida, its layered and flaky.

kothu parotta

There were veech parottas that were thin and long and of course, the kothu parottas, in which the parotta is chopped and then thrown into a large wok with a lot of spices, onions, tomatoes, egg / meat, some gravy and served !

This was my very first time with a kothu parotta and I loved it ! I had the muttai kothu parotta, or egg kothu parotta. After that, I have made it at home a couple of times, with leftover parottas. Making parottas at home, is something I am still hoping to master. You could use frozen parottas, left over parottas or even, leftover chapatis. This dish uses up the leftover chapatis and makes for a quick dinner when you are too bored to cook something elaborate...

kothu parotta bowl

ID, the popular idli batter people in Bangalore, have come up with parottas now. I used this for making the kothu parotta

Kothu Parotta

What you need -

3 parottas
2 onions
2 eggs
1 tomato
1-2 green chillies
1" piece cinnamon
3-4 cloves
1 tsp saunf / fennel seeds
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
a pinch of turmeric powder
1/2 tsp dhania / coriander seed powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper powder
1/4 tsp garam masala powder
2-3 tbsp milk
3-4 tbsp oil
handful of curry leaves

What you do with it -

If using frozen parottas, fry or microwave them as per the instructions
Cut the parottas in long strips and then diagonally, so you get diamond sized pieces, about an inch long
Put these pieces in a bowl and then sprinkle the milk over it. Keep it aside
Chop the onions, tomatoes, green chillies. Beat the eggs in a bowl and set aside
Beat the eggs and set aside
In a large work / deep pan, add a tbsp of oil, and then add the cinnamon, saunf, cloves
After a minute, add the green chillies, curry leaves and onions
Fry for 3-4 mins and then add the turmeric powder, chilli powder, dhania powder
Saute for a minute and then add the tomatoes, salt, pepper and garam masala
Add the beaten eggs and quickly scramble it. Allow it to cook for 2-3 mins, adding a tbsp or two of oil to it
Add the parotta pieces and stir well
Serve hot with a chutney or raita

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Fresh mango pickle / Kothle lonche

Life's been good since I've reached Bangalore. Being with my family and friends is always wonderful, and to add to it, the weather is at least 10 degrees lower than Ahmedabad !! It rained the day I reached and its been a nice pleasant weather ever since...

I've been visiting my favourite places to eat in Bangalore and in one of the places, where you get Mangalorean style food, I had this absolutely yummy fresh mango pickle. I even had a second serving of this pickle at lunch that day !

fresh mango pickle

This fresh pickle or kothle lonche, as its called in Konkani, is almost always on the traditional wedding lunch menu. These lunches, however simple or lavish, are traditionally served on a plantain/banana leaf. There is a particular direction in which the leaf should be placed and an order in which the various items are served. It starts with the salt then the pickle, and then the servers start with the stream of side dishes, rice, kheer, etc...
This pickle is made on the same day or perhaps a day before and served fresh. I remember eating this pickle like a side dish at most weddings.

It does not have oil and there are no preservatives, so it can't be stored for too long. Mango pickles generally have the skin on, but in this one, the skin is peeled so that it doesn't change the texture too much when you are eating this pickle.

My aunt has sent across a bunch of raw mangoes and Ma promptly made this pickle the next day.

mango pickle

Fresh Mango pickle

What you need -

2 raw mangoes
1" piece ginger
1-2 green chillies
1 tsp mustard seeds
15-20 methi seeds
a pinch of asafoetida / hing
10-15 red chillies (if using byadgi chillies, lesser if its a spicier variety)
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp salt

1 clean and dry glass bottle with an air-tight lid

What you do with it -

Wash and peel the mangoes. Cut it into tiny pieces
Peel the ginger, wash and dry completely and chop finely
Wash and dry the green chillies and cut really fine
In a cleaned and dried glass bottle, add the turmeric powder, hing, salt, mango pieces, ginger and green chillies
Grind the mustard, methi and red chillies to a smooth paste, adding as little as required
Add this ground masala along with the lemon juice to the mangoes in the bottle
Mix well with a dry spoon and close the bottle with an air tight lid
This pickle should be stored in the refrigerator and used within 3 weeks, since it is a fresh pickle and has no preservatives or oil


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