Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Masala Scrambled Eggs

I am huge fan of eggs. Meat, seafood, even vegetables I can do without a long time but eggs I need at least twice a week. The best thing about eggs is their versatility - scramble them, fry them, boil them, whisk them to add in desserts or casserole, use them to make batters and egg washes - basically you can pretty much do anything with them. And you know eggs are at their very best - at the time of breakfast. A hangover from the colonial times - but you have to admit they are the crown jewel of your breakfast table.

This post is quick, for breakfast on the go. Our times made for running and not for walking  and in these times cooking can be a trial. So the recipe is for finding flavor, even when you need to dash and run to work. It also can be used for a late brunch or quick snack at tea time. Basically it is a fool proof recipe for any meal time. I serve this with toast, fried sausages and a nice cup of English breakfast tea. You can also make a pot of coffee and fry some tomatoes. I dont like tomatoes by themselves so I leave them out of the mix but go ahead. It does add one more element for your breakfast table.
4 eggs whisked
4 curry leaves sliced
1 small onion sliced
2 cloves of garlic chopped
half a green chilly chopped
1tsp cumin powder
1tsp coriander powder
salt to taste
Oil for cooking
1tbsp coriander leaves chopped

Heat oil. Fry curry leaves and onions. As they brown, add garlic and chilly. Cook for two minutes. The trick to this quick cook is to have the flame on high and stir onions constantly till they brown.
Add the spice powders.
Lower the flame. Pour in the eggs and scramble. Season and fold in the coriander leaves. Serve hot.

Friday, July 11, 2014


There was a post earlier of the myriad tastes of Goa but in the various details of travel, the individual sort of got lost in the telling. So, this post is my attempt to do justice to this place by the sea - Thalassa. And apologies in advance if I tend to wax lyrical for a few extra paragraphs. I visited the place with my sister. We had taken a few days to gallivant around Goa. On that particular day, we had left early in the morning to travel our way around North Goa. As my sister likes to say - we travelled from Aguarda to Ashwen in a 9 to 5 frame. It was exhausting and absolutely exhilirating. We basically biked through all these places  - me at the wheel and my sister at the back google maps at the ready. It was a huge accomplishment. I dont think I have found a place anywhere in India where it has been  easy for a couple of women to travel around by themselves. And this is what I loved about Goa. We saw forts and their breathtaking views, we saw beaches and lost count of the number, we strolled around Anjuna Market - the beads and strings thrumming slightly at the wind coming in from the beach below, we went on a boat ride right into the ocean and saw dolphins gliding in the ocean water.  In the middle of all that we braked for a glass of chilled Kokum soda and toasted chutney and vegetable sandwiches. By the time we made it back to the room and get dressed - we were suntanned and pleasantly tired. But nothing would make us change into comfy pyjamas and just sleep our way to the next day. 
The view from Chapora Fort, Vagator, Goa
So we got dressed and were off. The time we arrived the sun was already touching the water. We made our way through the cobbled path passing the small shop, doors named after Greek gods[they mispelled Poseidon] and an exhibition of seafood on offer today. Finally we came to the restaurant - square tables with wicker chairs. The staff was placing lit candles on the tables. There was a crowd already their eyes glued to the sunset on the other side. And that is when you realize that the place is set on a low cliff and all you can see for miles is the darkening sea. We were ecstatic. As soon as we sat down the candle was placed and menus handed to us. And there were some really good ones. My only regret is that we could not eat our way through the many selections on the menu.
What my sister loved was the vegetarian options in the menu. She is a hard core vegetarian and her mission in life is to find places that serve good options that is not meat. And that is one of the attractions of the place. We ordered Mushroom Saganaki and a shot of Ouzo for starters. The Ouzo was aniseed flavored and warmed your throat as you shot it down and muttered an Opa under your breath. It puts you in a good mood and prepares your palate for the meal to come. In the next fifteen minutes the saganaki is placed in front of you with crusty bread drizzled with olive oil. Ravenous after our all day outing we broke chunks of bread, dippped into the saganaki sauce  and literally gobbled it down. We followed it with spoonfuls of mushrooms and melted Feta. It was pretty darn good. The flavors - the combination of feta, chili, garlic, mushrooms and tomatoes - was so complex and delicious with toasty bread.
 The appetizer was followed by Veg Souvlaki for my sister and Chicken Gyros for myself. Neither of us have a huge appetite. We cannot just keep on eating and eating. For us small portions are all we can manage. And the plates that they give are enormous. The Veg Souvlaki came wrapped in foil with lemony potato wedges, herb salad, pita triangles and tzatziki. The souvlaki was tender skewers of marinated paneer, onions, peppers and tomatoes. Mixing with wedges and the crunch of the salad it was an absolutely gorgeous medley of tastes. The Gyros, on the other hand, was a heaped plate of lemon, oregano roasted chicken, pita bread, tomato and onion salad, fries and tzatziki as well. You spread a pita triangle with tzatziki, put some chicken on top and take a huge mouthful. The crunch of the bread, combined with the yoghurt-herb dip and the melt-in-your-mouth chicken - I will remember that taste for a long time. The dish of the evening was definitely the Tzatziki - this was a yoghurt dip flavored with dill, cucumber, garlic and pepper. It highlighted both the meals so well. We were just dipping our pita bread or our potatoes in the dip and savoring its fresh herby tastes.
The platters were huge especially for the both of us. We barely mangaed to finish the food - we were so utterly full and were in no position to order anything else. I know that the next time I am in town I am going back to the desserts that they have on offer. The moon was high in the air above the rustling coconut trees. The sea was dark and the wind was starting to cool around us. It was time to leave and put the evening into our permanent memory boxes. So book a flight a Goa and find this place in North Goa and enjoy the comforts of a Greek evening.

Location: Thalassa, Vagator Beach, North Goa
What to try: Everything mentioned aboved, Also try the spanakorizo, spanakopita on offer
Rating: 4.5/5

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Street Style: Momos from Delhi

It rained last night. Finally, after a summer from one of Dante's circles of hell, the gods have been kind enough to let Hyderabad have an entire night of cooling rain. Although the cool is slowly vaporizing into a humidity, the first rains for this year will always remain a fond memory. For me, rains mean a hot cup of chai and reading a good book while it pours and thunders outside. In my childhood days, it would usually rain in the afternoon and almost immediately would be followed by a power cut. We would run around unplugging all the electrical equipments before running to the terrace and feeling the rain on your face. Then, of course I would find a secluded spot by the windows and read whichever book I was obsessed with at the time. As I got older juice or even bournvita turned into a nice cup of hot, brewed chai
Fast forward to the present. Once the rain was well underway and the chai was poured into the cup, hunger struck and with it cravings. Cold weather always reminds me of Momos with hot and sweet chilli sauce. And the best place to have them in India is on the streets of Delhi. And when Delhi is literally freezing around, all you need is a plate of momos, dip it in the chili sauce and let the warmth spread through your body. The momos themselves - soft wrapper which melts in your mouth giving way to lightly spiced cabbage or chicken filling - they hit your taste buds first before kicking chili around the back of your mouth. The first heat spreads though your throat, chest going all the up your nose which starts watering. And it makes you ecstatic. You move on to the next one and then the next until you realize that you have cleaned your plate. And your face is on fire. 

 That is where I have melded my childhood and the place where I am now. A hot cup of chai, a steaming plate of momos and the color burst of spicy sauce. From buttery softness to a punch of chili and finally the soothing touch of sweet. They form the perfect compliment to the storm outside. If you are in the vicinity of the capital, take a metro anywhere - Sarojini, Janpath, Hauz Khas, Karol Bagh, M Street - anywhere basically, you will see the vendor standing by the road. There will be steamers at the ready, sauce covered in plastic wrap and a stack of paper plates. Once you order your choice, the cook will open the lid, waving away the steam to reveal to white steaming pleated dough. He is generous - there will be at least six stacked on to the paper plate. He will then ladle the sauce around the momos and then hand you a hot plate. In the cold, with your collars turned up against the cold - the heat of the plate is calming. 

 Or you can sit at one of the stalls of Dilli Haat and order a couple of plates while you talk with your friends and upload pics into your Instagram account. Anywhere you go, you can be sure that you are going to have a plate of awesomeness. So if you live in Delhi, go have momos. If you are visiting Delhi, go have momos. Just plan a trip to Delhi anyway and go have momos. And if you feel inspired or nostalgic then come back and make a batch of your own. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Street Smart: Aloo Tikki Chaat

I love standing by stalls - heat/rain - no barrier, just digging into whatever particular food that I was in the mood for that day. Panipuris, Chaat, Kachori Chaat, Pav Bhaji, Dahibara aludum, Vada pav, Dosa, Chuski, Momos, Chicken chops - there is nothing that you cannot find in the streets of India. You move from north to west to east and then down south - you will find variations of various food in its most deliciousness when you turn every corner. And you have your favorites in all those places. I mean you have to have jaleba from the corner of Chandni chowk[Delhi] when it is freshly fried and then dunked on to sugar syrup before being handed out to you. Or have Dahibara Aludum from Naya Sarak[Cuttack] and follow it up with ice golas to soothe your burning throat. And I could write entire posts on the multifarious street food from all corners of India.
 But, this is just the beginning. The paeans and odes to joy will follow in the wake of more blog posts. Bear with me when I do that. You know that I am justified. So coming back to this post - I am probably beginning with one of the easiest to make at home snacks or quick dish to served at a street food themed party. And it is delicious. And easy to make. Need I say more. The recipe for the matar curry is my beginning post for this blog. It is simple but remember - for this recipe you need to add one more whistle. This will give make your curry a more stewy version and perfect canvas to build your chat for the crowd. Check out the recipe at here.
Make your tikkis:
4 medium potatoes boiled
2tsp red chili powder
2tsp garam masala
2tsp cumin powder
a handful of chopped coriander leaves
Oil for frying
Mash the potatoes. Add the rest of the ingredients. Mix everything together. Make small balls and then flatten it with your palms.
Heat oil in a frying pan. Fry tikkis till golden brown on both sides.
Assembling your Chaat:
Matar curry
3 medium onions sliced
2 lemon wedges
Coriander leaves chopped
Sev depending on how much you want[Haldiram's Aloo Bhujia is a good choice but check out your local shops for cool combinations]
Imli ki chutney
Put the curry at the bottom of the bowl. Add a tablespoon of chutney
Arrange the tikkis - maybe three to four per serving.
Put some onions on top.
Sprinkle lemon juice. Then sprinkle coriander leaves and sev.
Serve with bowls of lemon wedges, coriander leaves and sev for the guests to pile on when they want.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Vegetable Pulao

Somedays you just act on instinct. You just pull out ingredients from the fridge and start chopping and cutting randomly. Suddenly a dish starts to form on its own and you know it is good. Thats the thing about improvisation - you add this here and that there - and construct your own dishes making them taste good and impress everyone around you. Making pulaos is an art, you need to have just the right ingredients, the right flavors and the right techniques. And there can be disasters - oh yes they can be - but if you can get it right everything is good.
 This is not exactly a proper pulao. In fact, it is a cross between pulao and a fried rice. And to make things easier, you can make it in a rice cooker so you can just let it cook at the flick of a switch. This recipe is a celebration of the vegetables in the supermarket. It contains leeks, red and yellow bell peppers, carrots, mushrooms and cucumbers. And lets me clarify - the cucumber is for the raita that goes so well with this pulao. This contains some really mellow flavors making it perfect to have with any type of curry or sabzi with raita. This recipe is a good one to have in your repertoire when you have people over the dinner or a special Sunday lunch. You can add different vegetables like cauliflower when they are in season, beets, peas or even fry paneer[just repeat the mushroom process] and make a really hearty rice dish for a grand occasion.

1 leek sliced
2 onions sliced
6 gloves garlic chopped
1 green chilly chopped
1 red bell peppers sliced
1 yellow bell peppers sliced
2 carrots sliced
6 green beans sliced
1 packet of button mushrooms sliced
1 and 1/4 cup rice
1tsp pepper
2tsp red chili powder
2tsp garam masala
salt to taste
Oil for cooking
Water for cooking rice
Juice of half a lemon
Coriander leaves chopped

Switch on your cooker. Add the oil and wait for two minutes.
Add the leek and onions and fry for 6 to 7 minutes. You dont need it browned just softened and infuded into the oil.
Add the garlic anc chilly. Cook for two minutes. Tip in all the vegetables and fold everything in.
Add the rice and sprinkle the pepper, red chili powder and garam masala. Fold in the rice. Add twice as much water. Cover with the lid and let it cook.
Toss the sliced mushrooms with red chili powder and garam masala. When the rice is done, heat the oil in a frying pan. Fry the mushrooms till browned.
Mix the mushrooms into the rice. Sprinkle lemon juice and a handful of chopped coriander leaves. 
Toss everything together and serve.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Leftover Takeover: Chicken Samosa

After the first re-heating, there are very few times that you want to go back for another helping of one paricular dish. And thats the time when you pull a rabbit out the hat and make something ingenious with the dish. Well, the author tries. This particular dish is not very ingenious but it is a tasty way to use up leftover chicken curry or masala and it certainly is a very good snack for evening tea. Vegetarians, stop right here.
I posted a recipe for chicken curry earlier which forms the basis for this dish. You can heat this up and vaporize all the water out of the curry. And make some dough for the curry to fill in to. If you are in the mood -  like I was - then you could make your dough from scratch. The recipe from Julie Sahni's Classic Indian Cooking gives excellent results. I am going to include the recipe here if you want to make your dough but otherwise you can buy store-bought samosa patti available in Spencer's or Big Bazaar. It cuts down your cooking time drastically and makes this recipe really leftover takeover. The trick is to get all your various dishes ready so as to assemble and fry your samosas quickly.

Samosa Dough:
1&3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup oil
1tbsp salt
1/2 cup water
Sift flour and salt together. Heat all the oil.
Make a hole in the flour. Add the oil. Mix it together with a fork. The oil will be too hot to handle otherwise. The mixture should resemble coarse crumbs.
Add the water slowly and knead it to a smooth dough.

Making Samosas:
Chicken Curry
Samosa dough
Chopped onions
Lemon wedges
Oil for frying
Chop the chicken into small pieces. Mix with chopped onions. Sprinkle the juice of lemon and fold everyting together.
If you are using samosa dough, make balls and roll out into rotis. Cut it in half. Fold the half circles into one side. Fill the cones with the filling. Seal the edges with water.
Heat oil in a pan. When the oil becomes smoky, add the samosas. The oil should sizzle in contact. If it does not, you need to let it heat up for a few minutes more. Fry till samosas are golden brown. Serve hot with red chili sauce and a nice cup of tea.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Quick Pasta

When it is midnight and you are hungry, you just grab whatever is on hand and make a quick snack. Or you put out pretty bowls and make a batch of quick and easy pasta. And trust me it always works. Thanks to the many imports into the country and the boom of online grocery shopping, we have come in touch with a lot of culinary inspirations that earlier were rare to be found. Also, the Indian palate has changed over the years. We no longer make do with gluggy pasta with lot of milk and cheese. Instead, there is parmesan to be sprinkled over, breadcrumbs to be added or a little mascarpone to be touched into the regular tomato sauce.
And thank God for that. I prefer a little garlic and chili sauteed in olive oil and spaghetti tossed through it and served with a cheese grated over the pasta. And in those hours of midnight, this little treat is all you need.

Spaghetti as required
1 packet of mushroom chopped
4 cloves garlic chopped
1tbsp red chilli flakes
1tbsp oregano
pinch of salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese grated as required
Olive Oil as required
Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Add spaghetti as much as you require.
As the spaghetti cooks, heat olive oil. Fry garlic and red chili flakes.
Add mushrooms and fry. Sprinkle with oregano, salt and pepper. Cook for ten minutes until the mushrooms is all out of its water. If you like you can add tomatoes and cook for ten minutes more.
Remove a cup of water from the boiling pasta. Drain spaghetti.
Add the pasta water to the pot. Adjust seasonings. Toss the spaghetti through the sauce.
Remove from heat and mix it all the way through. Portion into bowls and then add a little cheese on top.