Thursday, August 30, 2007


I haven't seen the movie yet! I kept thinking Ratatouille was the name of the cute rat and then I saw Nandita's (of Saffron Trail) Ratatouille with Cochiglie rigate and I thought "That sounds like a dinner with the movie, but how did they bring their dinner in the theatre (coz the movie is not on DVD yet)?". I am glad I read ahead and found what Ratatouille actually was :) So, I did try the yummy treat using Nandita's recipe. My only changes - I didn't have thyme, so I skipped that. I used japanese eggplant instead of the roasting variety. And I was in a time crunch so I used canned chopped tomatoes instead of fresh ones. Canned tomatoes are usually more tart, so next time I would like to use fresh tomatoes. We had Ratatouille with conchiglie ( = shell pasta Pronunciation: con-KEEL-yay), topped with fresh basil and a cherry tomato (from my colleague's kitchen-garden) with some Italian flat bread on the side.

I *loved* the taste, the fennel tasted wonderful and took the flavor to a different level. Fresh basil gave the preparation the perfect kick! Hubby declared there was 'some' flavor in the pasta that he didn't like - he couldn't pin-point what though! That makes life a little harder as I don't know what not to use the next time I make it :)

But overall, it made a very delicious, filling, healthy dish bursting with flavors! That's exactly how I like my food :) Thanks for the great recipe Nandita!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Aloo poori

Anita's call to make poori-bhaji is how I got in the craving mode for pooris! I saw her invitation, and then these golden wonders started puffing up all over the blogosphere. I knew I had to make them!

The taste of poori soaked in tari-wale (tari = rassa = gravy) aloo always takes me back to my grandma's dining table. When we would visit her, the days would start at 8 am on the breakfast table with some yummy treat. Different types of parathas, poori-aloo, sandwiches etc. and a glass of milk are the clearest in my memory. By the time the table was cleared out, everyone was given a say in what we wanted for lunch. More often than not, lunch would be some kind of tari wali sabzi like rajma, chole, kaale chane, lobia, kadhi etc along with one dry side like bhindi, alu-gobhi, baigan ka bharta, dahi and rotis. We almost always had a tea time snack. You would think we didn't need dinner after all that! But we always had dinner!! And that would be some kind of whole grain lentil like ma ki daal, chana, urad, masoor and tuar occasionally and a vegetable. It's funny how I love talking about these things!

Poori aloo would always remain my favorite lunch item. My wonder-mom used to make it so fast I can hardly believe it! She would slice raw potato. Heat oil, add jeera, red chilli and turmeric, add potatoes and salt. Cover and let them cook and added a pinch of amchur (dry mango powder) when they were done. In the meanwhile she would fry 4-5 pooris in 4-5 minutes and there it was! My favorite lunch. A slice of pickled mango always went in with the aloos in my sectioned lunch box. So by the time I ate my lunch the oil from the pickle would be soaked by the aloos. Yum yum yum, those were the days when excess oil was a delicacy :p My dad would never eat pooris, may be that's why they hardly showed up outside of my lunch box. Except for the end of navratri when we would eat pooris with very lightly spiced kaale chane and sooji ka halwa. And yea, sometimes she would make them when papa was on a tour :p Those would be tari wale aloo that we would eat for dinner with pooris. That is the recipe I used this time. I can remember this one time when mom made this sabzi and it was sweet! We couldn't figure out what happened... finally we blamed it on the extra sweet tomatoes and somewhat sweet potatoes. The mystery was solved when I took a gulp of water from the same water bottle that mom had used to make the sabzi. It so turned out that my little brother who was sugar crazy had made this discrete sugar syrup that he could sip on without anyone noticing. Ha ha we still laugh about it!! Specially when I see how my brother avoids excess sugar now :)
That's a little too much rambling now.... Here's the recipe.

For tari-wale aloo -
1. Boil/microwave 2-3 large potatoes. Cool, peel and dice them.
2. For the tari/gravy - Heat a little oil. When hot, add some mustard and cumin seeds. As they begin to splutter, add a pinch of heeng (asafoetida), 2-3 curry leaves and a green chili slit into 4 parts (seeds et al.).
3. Add pureed tomatoes (about 2 cups of puree if using fresh tomatoes). Half of that should be sufficient if you are using concentrated puree.
4. Saute and let the tomato puree cook well till it begins to leave sides.
5. Add a pinch of turmeric, a tsp of red chili powder, a tsp of coriander powder and salt to taste.
6. Add boiled potatoes and mix well.
7. Add 1.5 cups water and simmer till you get the desired consistency.
8. Add a tsp of dried methi (kasuri methi).
9. You might need to add a pinch of sugar if your tomatoes are too tart.
10. Garnish with fresh cilantro.

For the pooris - This is not the first time I made pooris but I did experiment a little bit. Here's my lesson for what not to do :)
1. Take 1.5 cups of whole wheat flour and 0.5 cup of rava (sooji/semolina/cream of wheat). Knead into a firm dough with some oil and salt.
2. Roll into small circles and deep fry in hot oil.
3. Result - great looking pooris but they were too crispy to be eaten with a curry. I like my pooris softer than that!
4. Lesson learnt - Do not add rava if you are planning to eat them rightaway. And if you want to add rava, don't add so much!

We had our aloo-poori dinner with boondi ka raita and while we were in the mood to indulge, Parthiv fried some papad too :)


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

WaterMelon Orange Crush

I have never stopped complaining how much I miss Indian oranges. Some varieties of tangerines I have had in the US come close to the fruit I love the most, but tangerines are not always available and they are not the 'same'. I think that could be a reason why I have never embraced Tropicana as real orange juice. I like the taste but its not 'orange' juice for me :)

I normally buy a pack of Tropicana on my grocery store visit. We finish almost all of it and then it hits the weird point where it sits in the refrigerator waiting to be rescued. That last serving! This time when Parthiv tried to rescue the poor juice, I thought why not blend it with the last of this ultra-sweet seedless watermelon. So we put all that was left of the orange juice in the blender, threw in watermelon chunks, added ice cubes and blend blend blend.... Two of my very dear fruit flavors came together very well. I was ready to finish it when I remembered I own a blog now :) So Parthiv took some pictures and here it is! A nice way to spruce up the not-so-orange orange juice :)

We have tried watermelon with lime, ginger, mint etc. but this was a first for oranges. I am quite sure the flavor would have been a blast if I had used fresh orange (or tangerine :)) juice.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Malai Koftas and Memories

First time I made malai koftas was on a special demand from our dear friend R's mom (who we lovingly call Masi). Masi thought that being a Punjabi kudi I would know how to make malai koftas. Sadly enough, I didn't! Malai koftas may sound very Punjabi but I doubt they are cooked commonly in Punjabi homes (not in my home at least!). But I couldn't let her know right (specially when I was just beginning to know this sweet lady)? So Parthiv and I made them just like this! And funnily enough I still think thats the tastiest thing we ever made :) And thankfully masi agrees!

We have made these koftas multiple times since then. Making them in large batches and getting together with a group of friends has been the norm! Too bad I don't have a picture to share. I will upload it the next time I make these creamy koftas.

I would certainly not classify these koftas as exactly healthy, but if you don't mind eating greasy restaurant made pseudo malai koftas once in a while, you surely won't mind these!

They do take some effort and time. Though the list of ingredients and steps look daunting, they are pretty easy to make. You can always make some extra koftas and deep freeze them. They are as good as new when added to fresh gravy!

I am not great with my measurements as I am taste-till-you-get-it-right kind of person. Make adjustments as you think appropriate.

For Koftas (makes around 8 koftas) you need -

Boiled potatoes - 2 large
Grated paneer - about 1 cup
Green chilli paste - 2 tsp
Green cardmom powder - 1/4tsp
Ginger paste - 1 tsp
Bread slices - 2
Coriander (dhania) powder - 1 tsp
A few raisins
sugar and salt to taste
Oil for deep frying

Directions for koftas:
1. Mash the potatoes and bread, mix salt and half of green chilly paste, keep aside.
2. Grate paneer (microwave it for a few seconds to make it real soft), add ginger paste, rest of green chilli paste, salt, a little bit of sugar, green cardmom powder, dhania powder and mix well.
3. To assemble koftas - make a ball of the potato mixture, flatten it and fill the paneer mixture in it, top with a raisin and make a ball again. So it would be a potato ball with paneer inside.
4. Heat oil in a kadahi or wok. Deep fry the koftas on medium flame till the koftas turn golden and crisp. keep aside.

Ingredients for gravy:
Oil - 1 tblsp
Cloves - 2
A small stick of cinnamon
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Ginger paste - 2tsp
Garlic paste - 1 tsp
Tomato paste - 1/2 cup or pureed tomatoes - 1 cup
Cashew powder/paste - about 8 cashews
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Coriander powder - 2 tsp
Creme - 1/2 cup or Half n half 1 cup
sugar and salt to taste

Directions for gravy:
1. Heat oil, add cumin seeds, a few cloves, some cinnamon sticks, let them crackle. Then add ginger paste and a little garlic paste. Saute for a few seconds.
2. Add tomato paste or tomato puree. If you are using store bought tomato paste you might want to dilute it a little.
3. Saute well till tomatoes begin to leave the sides.
4. Add finely ground cashew paste. Mix well, you can add poppy seed paste also if you prefer.
5. Add turmeric, red chilli powder and dhania powder, mix well.
6. Add creme/half n half. Add a little water accordingly.
7. Stir on medium heat till gravy reaches the right consitency. You don't want it to be too thick as the koftas absorb a lot of gravy.
8. Add sugar to taste and stir.
9. Add salt right at the end and stir.

To serve:
1. If your gravy has gotten cold, heat it well.
2. Add koftas and heat
3. Don't stir too much or the koftas will break.
4. Garnish with fresh coriander and creme or grated paneer.

Serve with sirke wale or nimbu wale pyaaz (onions soaked in vinegar or lime), naan or parathas or jeera rice.

This can easily be converted into a Jain recipe if you use raw plaintain instead of potatoes and skip the garlic.

Friday, August 17, 2007


Welcome to my blog :)

I have been a silent spectator of this magical world of food blogging for quite a while now. It's just like the wizarding world, visible only to those who look for it! (Forgive my obsession with Harry Potter). I love cooking and I love FOOD more than I love cooking.

The very first food blog I came across was Nupur's OneHotStove and I have to give her a great amount of credit as I start my own blog now. So starting from 'that' hot-stove, I went on to discover the food-blogging world. The beautiful pictures and the delicious descriptions that so many creative bloggers and great cooks put in. Sometimes I can almost feel the aromas wafting out of my computer screen (okay, not to be taken literally but quite close!). Oh! the love of food!

My friends recently asked me for some recipes. As we started talking about my recipes my dear friend M prompted me to start blogging them. My husband Parthiv gave me a push and here I am!

I hope I will keep this blog alive and kicking and bring 'Fresh Flavors' from my kitchen to yours!