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Thursday, January 25, 2018

Dal Divas Potluck

There was rice, bread, papad, achaar and then there were dhals..a great variety of dhal from different parts of India. All dhals were carefully cooked with great interest and all tasted good! Rushina Ghildiyal, the main flame behind this event of celebrating Dal Divas, invited us all to her APB Cook studio to showcase our speciality.

How could I miss?…since I was in Mumbai this time, I was keen to attend this one.

Rushina has been promoting Indian cuisine since some time now and there have been series of events organised by her, observing different days like Biryani day, pickle day, bhajiya day, masala day, vadi day, but I have always missed it for some reason or other….

Although I have blogged on it..whenever I could... you could read it

Chutneys my family enjoys around the globe

Dhal Divas too, I would have missed because there was another commitment that got cancelled and luckily I was able to attend.

It was a potluck with all the women showcasing their speciality. Rushina made a list so that there were no repeatition.

I was asked to make green split dhal. Now dhal is a comfort food, not that I eat everyday (no, not when I make Chinese, Italian or continental, not even when I make non-veg) when I eat dhal..its only dhal. A complete meal by itself.

I was asked to share my recipe… it is…I cook with instinct, no measurements, no fixed methods..

I boiled 2cups of green split dhal, adding 1tsp of turmeric powder in a pressure cooker. After 3 whistles, I put off the gas and went for a bath.

Till then dhal had cooled off and it was safe to expose it. Mixed it well, added 2 cups of water and kept it back on the burner. Boiled dhal also tastes good, if I would just add salt and black pepper and eat as salad,it would be nice but I  decided to cook it.

Added 3 chopped tomatoes, 2 inch grated ginger, 5 green chilies and a small bunch of chopped coriander leaves. The phone began to ring.

“What are doing? Are you free today?”
“No, I am making dhal for Dal Divas day”
“I want too”
“Ok ..will send you.”

Went back to the kitchen to mix the dhal. Chopped spring onions and garlic.

Another phone call for another small chat. This one wanted to taste too. I must remember to make bigger quantity next time. (Or not answer the calls when cooking small quantity)

Also must remember to keep my phone away from kitchen.

Kept a tiny deep pan on another burner. Deep fried spring onions in 2tbsp of ghee. Added the burnt spring onions to the dhal.

Added more ghee to the pan and deep fried chopped garlic till it was dark brown. Added this to the dhal mixture.

I must taste to check if it is proper. Added salt to adjust the taste, added mango powder to add sourness, added peri peri sauce for pungent taste and added cardamom powder for flavour.

If I like it, its good enough.

Got dressed and left for the potluckparty. Reached the venue after one hour, a bit delayed because of too much traffic.

I was in for a surprise. Chef Ashish Bagul of BKC Trident was to demonstrate four different dhals from East, West, North and South of India.

There were cholar dhar

Mohini moong dhal fit for royalties

Vala chi amti

Khade maash ki dhal

I am reminded of my NRI friend who had visited India and was amused when she heard series of pressure cooker whistles from different kitchens at lunch time. Dhal is best cooked in pressure cooker and then there is tempering done that is not only for flavours but also for improving the nutrient value of the dish and helping to absorb many hidden nutrients in the vegetables.. Pure ghee is the perfect choice for tempering dhals and different regions of India use different combo of tempering depending upon the climate and the culture of that place.

I am not sure if any other place in the world has such a big variety of dhal preparation like in India. But it’s the tempering that makes Indian dhal so interesting and so aromatic.

The kitchen was filled with strong aroma of food..such lovely fragrance of ghee and spices, that I couldn’t wait to taste.

I wanted to taste all the dhals…24 different dhals. I tasted them all and relished it. All these ladies are great cooks. (You might wonder if I have large appetite to try them all..but I did not eat accompaniments, no rice, rice, no bread, no roti)

Made new friends, learnt new techniques, a great day to celebrate.

DalDivas was fun……. What did you cook on 25th Jan? share the link of your dhal if you did…..

Friday, December 1, 2017

Mushrooms and Veg Mock Duck

Mock duck can was sitting on my shelf for quite sometime but I needed an occasion to cook. It arrived finally this week when a group of vegetarian women friends decided to have pot luck in my house. One thing good about inviting women for lunch is that none will come empty handed. They have to bring something.

It was a flash invite and unplanned one. but within two hours, all arrived with dish in their hand, all cooked their own speciality. those who didn't cook went to buy cake or ice cream. There were Dahi wadas, paneer in greens, doklas with coconut chutney, cauliflower with potatoes, veg briyani, and then there was also veg black chocolate cake and Gokul ice cream. A big variety..totally Vegetarian.

I only made veg mock duck, mushroom potatoes stew.

I normally don’t eat canned food but this is something that I relish. My friend asked me what is this Mock duck?  Well, it’s a gluten based vegetarian food made of wheat gluten, oil, sugar, soya sauce and salt. It has its flavor from stewing gluten products in soya sauce and MSG.

There were some fresh mushrooms and potatoes  too in my fridge, so cooking this combo was a perfect choice.

Mock duck and Mushroom, both have the tendency to pick up the flavors of the ingredients in which they are cooked. So it will taste good if it is kept for marination for one-two hours.

Early morning, I marinated mock duck and mushroom in
1 cup curds,
1inch grated ginger,
 I tbsp garlic paste,
 2 green chilies,
1 tsp garam masala,
1 tsp turmeric powder,
2 tsp coriander powder,
1 tsp red chili powder and salt.

Ready to cook? Put on your apron and begin

In a pan
heat 2 tbsp oil.
Add 3-4 cloves,
1 large bay leaves,
 4 green cardamons,
1 star anis,
2 dried red chilies,
1 inch cinnamon stick,
1 tsp cumin seeds.
Add 1 chopped onion.

Mix till light brown. 
Add marinated mock duck and mushrooms. 
Add one chopped potatoes. 
add 6-7 green chilies(makes it spicy, so beware)
Mix it well.
Add 2 finely chopped tomatoes.
Mix and keep stirring till oil separates.
Add half cup water.
Cover and keep it on low fire for twenty minutes.
Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

Serve with freshly baked rotis

 Tell me the truth...Are you drooling? Believe was very tasty!!!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Chutneys My Family Enjoy Around The Globe

When I go to my home in Tenerife to spend some time with my family, my brother always makes a big bottle of chutney for me before my arrival. One thing good about chutney is that it tastes better when it matures. It can be kept for days and can even be enjoyed with just a slice of bread.

In Spain, food is bland (according to our Indian standard). My family also eat bland food (they feel that we spoil the original taste of food by adding chilies in the food) But I can never enjoy Indian food without chilies. Not that Spain don’t have interesting chutneys (Mojos- as they are called in Spanish) they have great variety of Mojos.

Chutney (as it is called in India) have different names in different countries like Sambal, Salsa, atchara, Mojo or Sauces.

My cousin, Paddhu Lalwani, who lives in Barcelona sent me the recipes of some famous mojos.. There is Romesco, Ali-oil and tomato mojo that you eat with bread.

To make Romesco,
·       Roast in the oven 1/2cup almonds, 5-6 cloves of garlic, one inch bread slice and one tomato.
·       After roasting, we must de-skin the tomatoes and crush the garlic.
·       Meanwhile we have to roast 2 medium sized red capsicum on an open flame till they are charred.
·       Peel off the charred skin and put in the mixer with roasted ingredients.
·       Add vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper (according to your taste).
·       Mix it to a smooth paste.
·       Can keep upto 5days.

 All my cousins around the Globe (specially in Asia) enjoy the spicy food and a chutney is the must-have accompaniment. For this #ChutneyDay celebration, I got in touch with my family members around the world and spoke to them about chutneys and sauces that they enjoy on the other side of the globe. It was interesting to learn about the different types of chutneys that is enjoyed all over the world.

For some years I have lived in Surinam, and really relished the local cuisine but that was long time ago. I still remember the mango chutney that they would serve at the parties. It had the pungent flavor. I asked my cousin Rakhee Khiani, from Surinam,(who still lives there) to share the recipe of local Bilimbi chutney that I used to enjoy. (This chutney is served at every wedding lunch) Birambi are like amla (goose berries) but this chutney is made from long green ones.

Bilimbi is cooked in a pan with little raw mangoes, garlic and masalas like turmeric, cumin seed powder, coriander powder, fenugreek powder and mustard powder. (Nowadays the masalas are sold in packets), the mixture is cooked till the water dries up. Then they are mashed and stored in bottles.

I asked my niece, Gina Balani, from Curacao, about the favorite chutney that the local enjoy in her city. She spoke about Salsa Rosada that she enjoys the most which is simply a mixture of mayonaise and ketchup. Lime juice, salt, ground pepper and tobasco are added.

This tastes good with fries, chicken, and specially sea food. It is extremely popular in Columbia and South America. It is also available in bottles and she said that it tastes delicious. I have asked her to get me that salsa when she next visits me.

Talking of sea food. I was zapped when my niece, Rinku Chugani, from Phillipines sent me this pictures of fish called Bangus or milkfish with Calamansi flavored soya sauce  (Calamansi are very small green, round limes, like lemon but sweeter than lime.

In her city of Manila, people enjoy eating Atchara with grilled or barbacued chicken/pork/fish. Atchara is a vinegered unripe papaya, served similarly to Indian achaar. It is sweet and sour (not spicy). Also filipinos like ‘Bagoong’ a shrimp paste eaten with sour mango that tops the greens in the picture.

When my sista, Gitoo Shafizada, send me the picture of this Peppe chutney from Lagos, I was drooling. It looks so tempting. 

This African Peppe Chutney has a peculiar taste of scotch bullet,  which is one of the strongest chilies. Grind scotch bonnet chillies, garlic and fry in palm oil. Add little salt. Some put tomatoes to reduce the heat of the chillies. This is a versatile chutney that can be used as a condiment, dip or appetiser component.

I spoke to my Sister-in-law, Preeti Mirpuri, from Bangkok and she immediately went to her kitchen to make her favorite sauce and sent me the picture

She took a small bowl of soya sauce, added chopped garlic, green chilies, red chili powder, lime juice and sugar. (for non-veg version, she adds fish-sauce) This sauce tastes very good with stir fries. She simply pours this sauce on hot rice and enjoy just that. “It gives good flavour” she said.

Flavour is what one likes and chutney normally enhance their taste with garlic and chilies. I asked my niece, Kanchan Shadadpuri, from Dubai, if she knew of any emirati chutney. In restaurants in Dubai, they normally serve cheese rolls with sweet and tart mango chutney. But she didn’t get time to click a picture for me. She was holidaying in Singapore and send me the picture of Sambal ranggup that she bought for herself.

This sambal contains soy oil, chili, shrimp, garlic, anchovy, sugar and salt. Its ready to serve. You can just add to rice or noodles and serve with egg, cucumber, tomato, etc. It is product of malaysia,

There is a food stall just opposite my aunt’s house in Loas. They sell Klao niaw (sticky rice), Loas’ most famous dish. Loa consumes more Klao niaw than any other country and it is eaten with practically all Laotian dishes. My cousin, Pooja Mohinani, sent me this picture(clicked by her sis-in-law) of the street food sold  there.

picture courtesy: Sonam Wadhwani

I was most interested in the Garlic Chutney they sell. I had loved it when I had visited her. It is simple - made from roasted garlic, red chilies,  and tomatoes. No salt is added to it, they use soya sauce and ajinomoto. Typical accompaniment to foods in Laos is fresh mint, spring onions, lime, garlic and chilis.

Rushina asked me if I could share any traditional chutney recipe. I love making chutneys and most of the time, the recipe is hardly repeated. I have shared my recipes on my blog several times. 

You may check my post on Red Chutney On my Plate 

In my book ‘Sindhi Cuisine’ I have recipe of Mint Chutney that is normally found in every Sindhi homes. We have it with deep fried snacks like patties and samosas, or simply have it as Chutney sandwich.

here is the recipe..

·       The recipe is on page 105 of my book on Sindhi Cuisine. 
·       Mix together 1cup chopped fresh mint. 1 cup chopped fresh coriander leaves, 8 cloves garlic cloves, 8 green chilies, 1tsp sugar and 1 tsp salt.
·       Grind them to a smooth paste.
·       Transfer it into the bowl and add 2 tbsps of tamarind pulp.
·       Store it in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.
·       The taste improves with age.

It has been raining heavily since last two days and I am like stuck at home. My neighbors were bored too and waited for my invitation to come to my house. One friend fried potatoes and brinjal bhajiya.

Come over” I said, “bring your bhajjiya, I have mint chutney at home

So while we watched the rain from my long french windows, we munched on bhajiyas and chai…rains and bhayiya always go together and with my spicy chutney, my evening was wonderful.

This post was written to celebrate #ChutneyDay. I am with Sheila Raheja Institute of Hotel management – SRIHM and I #PledgeA Recipe for #ChutneyDay with RushinaMG on 24th Sept.

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