Jan 15, 2015

Tilkut- til gud ladoo

Til-gud khaya, god god bola./ Have tilkut ladoos, and say only sweet things all year.
The traditional greeting on Sankranti, in my adopted state involves one of my favourite sweets. One that I have never even attempted making, because I saw no need to. Today, however, I felt like making it, and after finding that most recipes were pretty similar, picked one at random and went ahead and made it. The trick, of course, is in finding the 'end point', which I got surprisingly easily today.

1 cup sesame seeds
2/3 cup jaggary
1/3 cup water
2 tbsp ghee
2 tbsp cashenuts

Roast the sesame seeds in a pan on low heat till they are golden brown in colour. Keep aside.
Heat the water, add the jaggery, and simmer over low heat till it starts caramelizing and forms a ball when you add a drop of syrup in cold water. This should take 4-5 minutes. Turn off the heat.
Add the sesame seeds, broken cashewnuts and ghee, and mix thoroughly.
Let the mixture cool down a bit, then take one tablespoon of mixture in your palm and pat into a round shape.
Make all the ladoos while the mixture is still warm, and leave it to set.

Jan 14, 2015

Kovil Sakkarai Pongal

We have an optional holiday today, and I was in two minds whether to take a day off or not. One of the strongest things in favour of me taking a day off was that I could then make Shakarai Pongal as I had done the previous two years. The recipe I follow is my mother's, and it cannot be whipped up in a hurry. But a little bit of searching led me to a couple of recipes for "Kovil Sakkarai Pongal", which seemed much easier. I adapted them to my taste, and did come out really well. (That I ended up taking a day off is a different story altogether).

1/2 cup raw rice
3 tbsp moong dal
1/2 cup jaggery
2 1/2 cups water
3 tbsp ghee
A pinch of salt

Cardamon powder
Nutmeg powder
Heat 1 tbsp ghee, and roast the moong dal till brown.
Add washed rice, salt and water, and pressure cook till the rice gets really mushy. Mash it well.
Powder jaggery, and dissolve it in just enough water to make a syrup (gently heat the water to make it dissolve).
Remove any impurities that may be floating on the surface, and add to the mashed rice. Mix well. Stir in 1 tbsp ghee, and cook on very low flame for 5 minutes.
Seperately, heat the ghee, roast cashewnuts till golden, then add raisins. Once it fluffs up, turn off flame, and keep aside.
Add nuts and cardamon powder and nutmeg powder. Mix well and serve.

Jan 11, 2015

Honey Chicken

Sunday dinner tends to be Chicken, This weekend, it was a sweetish chicken, which I served with mashed sweet potatoes

For Dry Chicken
1 large curry cut chicken
4 tbsp soya sauce
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp paprika powder
Salt to taste
2 tbsp sesame seeds
2 tbsp melon seeds
3 tbsp torn basil leaves

Wash the chicken and pat dry. Marinate for 30 minutes in a mixture of soya sauce, Worchestershire sauce, honey, lemon juice, paprika powder and salt.
Heat the oil, add the chicken pieces in batches and cook so all sides are evenly done (about 2-4 minutes per side). Return the chicken to the pot, add the remaining marinade, cover, and let it simmer on low heat for 10-15 minutes.
Add sesame seeds, melon seeds and basil leaves, cook for an additional minute, and serve.

For Mashed Sweet Potatoes
2 large sweet potatoes
2 tsp chilli flakes
Salt to taste
1 tsp butter
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Boil the sweet potatoes till soft. Peel and mash.
Add chilli flakes, salt, butter and lemon juice, and mix well.

Jan 10, 2015

Fusilli in creamy tomato sauce

Another of those days when everyone wanted something different- Thing One wanted pasta in creamy sauce, Thing Two wanted a tomato based sauce, and I craved burnt garlic. This recipe was modified from my earlier 'creamy tomato pasta', but with sufficient burnt garlic to interest even my pup.

6 (fat) cloves garlic, diced
2 tomatoes, chopped fine
4 sprig fresh basil leaves
2 tbsp olives

Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp butter
2 cups milk
2 tbsp cornflour
200 gms pasta

Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet, wash, drain and keep aside.
Heat the butter, add the garlic and heat till it is slightly burnt.

Add chopped tomato, and saute till the tomatoes turn mushy. Push with a spoon to mash coarsely.

Add torn up basil leaves (keeping one or two aside for garnish). Add salt and pepper to taste.

Add the milk, and bring it to a boil. With a small quantity of milk, make cornflour paste, and add to the rest of the milk with constant stirring. Cook on a low flame for 2 minutes and take off the fire.

Mix the pasta, garnish with olives, and serve.

Jan 7, 2015

Chini mitti ki bharni

I was never very fond of pickles when I was a kid, and naturally so- how many kids do you know who like pickles, but I loved the huge Bharnis in which the pickles were stored. My mother had glass bharnis, but a friend's mother stored stuffed red chilli pickles in Chini mitti ki bharnis.
My generation has little time for making pickles- buying bottles from the grocery store is so much more convenient- and gradually, those bharnis disappeared. But my fascination with them never went away.
Which is why, when I saw some bharnis at an exhibition recently, I didn't hesitate before picking a couple up. When you have bharnis, you need pickles to put in them, which served as the impetus for making the gobi-gajar-shalgam achar.

Long may my fascination with traditional vessels continue!

Jan 6, 2015

Clear sweet corn chicken soup

You may not call what passes for a winter in Bombay, a winter. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't indulge in warm soups. My first attempt at a clear sweet corn chicken soup was much better than anticipated. 

1/3 cup shredded cooked chicken
1/2 cup sweet corn
1/2 onion, chopped fine
1/4 cups celery chopped fine
1 tsp cornflour
1 egg
1 tsp lime juice
1 tbsp butter or olive oil
4 cups chicken stock or water or a mix of the two
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil/ butter, sauté the onions till transparent. 
Add celery, sweet corn and chicken and sauté fir 2-3 minutes
Add chicken stock/ water and bring to boil. Reduce heat and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes
Meanwhile make a paste of cornflour and keep aside
Also beat egg white with lime juice and keep aside
When cooked, add cornflour ensuring no lumps and simmer for a minute
Gradually pour in the egg white, stirring with a fork to ensure it cooks evenly. 
Add salt and pepper to taste and serve hot. 

Jan 5, 2015

Gobi-gajar-shalgam achar

One of my most vivid memories of the first week as a new bride in my marital home is of breakfast. Thankfully, those were the days before size zero brides, and I had no qualms about wolfing down steaming hot stuffed paratas with gobi-gajar-shalgam achar. Seeing their "Madrasi" bride tuck into the typically Punjabi breakfast must also have reassured my in-laws about my ability to fit into a new culture.
Unfortunately, however, that was the first and last time I got to eat gobi-gajar-shalgam achar. My mother-in-law didn't make it herself, and the stuff you got at restaurants was at best a poor attempt at replicating the classic dish.
This winter, I was determined to attempt the recipe myself, and before I could change my mind, bought the ingredients, and even cut the vegetables and kept them to dry. It was easier than I expected, and I wonder why I never attempted it all this while.

1 Kg vegetables (a mix of cauliflower florets, carrot slices, turnip cubes)
65 gms mustard seeds
65 gms salt
150 gms jaggery
150 gms mustard oil
150 gms vinegar
5 tsp Garam masala
100 gms ginger-garlic paste
25 gms red chili pwdr

Cut the vegetables, and leave them out to dry for 6 hours (I put them in a preheated oven with the heat off).
Heat the mustard oil, let the mustard seeds splutter.
Add the vegetables, fry the vegetables lightly and keep aside.
In the same oil, add ginger-garlic paste, and saute till the raw taste goes.
Meanwhile, heat the vinegar in a pan, add the jaggery, and stir on a low heat till the jaggery dissolves completely. Turn off the fire, and let it cool down.
Mix all the ingredients, including the dry masala. Pour into a sterilized jar, cover the mouth with a piece of cloth, and keep in the sun for a week.

Jan 3, 2015


Growing up, Teratipal was one if the few traditional Tamilian desserts I liked. Over the years, the taste waned, but lately, I have been wanting to taste it. 
Since it is not easily available in sweet shops, and because leaving things to slow cook is not something I shy away from, I decided to make it myself. 
Now, my mother makes the second best Teratipal in the world (the best being her mother), so I am spoilt. But, this wasn't too bad, if I say so myself!

1 litre milk
1/3 cup sugar*

In a thick bottomed vessel, bring the milk to boil. 
Reduce the flame, and keep it cooking till the volume reduces to 1/4th. In the meantime, every time the top thickens, mix it well to bring it back to the centre. 
When volume reduces, add sugar, and continue cooking till the water released by the sugar dries up completely. 
Serve hot or cold. 

*- I used a bit less

Jan 1, 2015

Lemon Chicken

When it comes to chicken, for one reason or the other, I don't seem to follow recipes ever. This was whipped up on a day when there was not enough time for marination, and I didn't feel like making a "buna hua" chicken either. Since there was a bok choy in the fridge, that went into the dish, and it came out pretty good.

1 curry cut chicken
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
1 head buk choy
Salt to taste
1 tbsp chilli flakes

Wash and clean the chicken. Prick holes in it using a fork, and marinate in a mixture of (half the) olive oil, lemon juice, salt and chilli flakes for about 30 minutes.
Heat a pan, heat the remaining oil, and toss the chicken on medium heat till well browned (about 10 minutes).
Add the reserved marinade and shredded buk choy, cover, reduce to a low flame and allow it to cook for about 20 minutes till the chicken is well done.