Friday, June 29, 2007

Mutter Kheema



Our convent school was never really equipped for taking large number or students on trips and whenever an attempt was made it was an utter disaster that made for some really great memories. One of the great features of these overnight trips was that the food would be prepared by the students themselves. A great idea in theory. But not when the cooks in question have barely mastered long division. Never a great selling point, but looking back the trips were fun. The destination was always a small sea side village or one of Shivaji's many forts. Or in some cases both. When I was in high school, we went on one such trip to Sindhudurg. Sindhudurg was Shivaji's invincible fort in the Arabian Sea a couple of miles from land. We set camp on the beach right opposite the fort. We attempted to cook on kerosene stoves, but it was a disaster. The chapatis were rock hard, the fish was burnt and everything has a strong aroma of kerosene. Eating this food was mandatory or you'd face the wrath of a strict bearded teacher and his ruler. Sneaking out to eat was a good option. I found a small restaurant which a woman ran out of her home. She served the food on two cots outside her house. Although the food was so-so and the meat was extremely questionable, it was completely edible in comparison to what lay in store back at the camp. Here I had mutter-kheema for the first time and fell in love with the combination.

Ingredients.
I lb lamb or chicken kheema (minced)
1 1/2 cup green peas
2 large onions finely chopped
2 large tomatoes finely chopped
5 cloves of garlic crushed or 1 tsp paste
1 tsp ginger paste
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp turmeric powder
1 1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp salt (or according to taste)
3 cups water
1/2 cup oil

Method
In a large pot heat oil on high and add ginger and garlic.
When the garlic starts to splatter add chopped onion
Once the onion browns on the edges, add tomato and stir
Allow to cook for 5 min
Then add chili, turmeric and garam masala
Allow to cook for a few minutes and add kheema and green peas
Stir and allow to cook for a minute or two
Add water and mix well
Turn heat to medium and allow to boil till water reduces by 1/2
Keep cooking till meat is tender
Serve with Chapati, Sourdough Bread or Basmati Rice.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Vanga Batata Bhaji



There's no story to this dish. This is just a delicious dish my mom used to make. I just happened to make it the other day and thought I'd share.

Ingredients

2 medium Potatoes cubed
2 large Brinjals (Eggplants) cubed
1 large Onion finely chopped
1 large Tomato finely chopped
1/2 cup Peanuts crushed
1 tsp Chili Powder
1 tsp Garam Masala
1 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp crushed Garlic
1/2 tsp Ginger paste
1/4 cup Olive Oil
Salt to taste

Method
Heat oil in a pot and add garlic, ginger and onion.
Sauté till onions are translucent and brown on the edges
Add tomato and stir till it becomes a homogenous paste
Add garam masala, turmeric, chili and stir
Add potatoes and 1cup water
Allow to boil till potatoes are cooked
Add eggplant and boil till most of the water evapourates leaving a pasty sauce
Add ground peanuts and keep stirring for 5 min
Garnish with chopped cilantro
Serve with Rice Bhakari or Naan

This recipe is for Nupur's RCI June: Maharashtrian Cuisine!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Tawa Pizza


Before pizza became a mainstream food in Pune, there were only a handful of places that made pizza. The place that was most famous for it's pizza in the pre-chain restaurant era was Supreme Pizza opposite Sambhaji Park on J.M. Road. Supreme's pizza was pretty much a slightly thicker version of Masala Papad that could scrape the roof of your mouth raw. The sauce was slightly modified Kissan ketchup and the cheese was Amul. For those of you who might not know, Amul is to cheese what Tofurkey is to Thanksgiving. The pizza was baked by arranging it in a small tawa like utensil and then shoved into this contraption that was pretty much like a Weber Grill, but not quite. But for whatever reason the Supreme pizza was delicious and one couldn't find parking for blocks around the small shack. I think Supreme is still around, but since the arrival of Pizza Hut, Domino's and some other Indian Pizza chains, the small family owned Supreme has lost the 'Supremacy'. Now, they just cater to the Pav Bhaji and Milkshake crowd. And perhaps bake the odd pizza for someone who wants it just for old time's sake.

Ingredients:

(Chappati Dough)
2 cups Wheat Flour (Chapati flour)
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Oil
1/4 cup Milk
Warm Water

(Pizza Sauce)
1 can Crushed tomato
1 tsp Garlic
1 tsp Fresh Oregano
1 tsp Fresh Basil
2 tsp chopped Parsley
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp Pepper (optional)
2 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Toppings
Mozzarella / Cheddar Cheese, Chopped Onion, Mushrooms, Peppers, Italian Sausage, Grilled Chicken (or whatever you like)

Method
Mix all the ingredients for the dough and knead adding warm water till you have dough with a nice consistency
Place aside and allow to rise for an hour
In a pot heat Olive Oil and add Garlic, Basil, Oregano and Parsley.
Saute and then add crushed tomato
Allow to simmer.
Roll the dough slightly thicker than a Paratha
On a Tawa, slightly cook the base
Shut off heat and turn the base so that the uncooked side is to the bottom
On the cooked side spread the sauce so that the whole base gets a little sauce
Make sure not to make the base soggy
Add cheese and toppings
On a very low flame heat the pizza in the Tawa with a lid on.
Serve when the cheese is melted and the toppings are cooked

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Good Night



If there's any milkshake that's capable of bringing all your boys to the yard, it's probably the Good Night. Unfortunately, it will also put them to sleep as soon as they arrive at said yard. One of my favourite restaurants in Pune that I must've mentioned a million times here is Darshan. The juice and milkshake menu at Darshan went filled an entire section of the menu. The king of the shakes however was the Good Night. A dieters nightmare, this milkshake was so heavy that it would put you in a food coma within the hour. Hence the name. It was a mixture of whole milk, cream, chickoo, figs, dried fruit and nuts. Served in a tall beer mug and topped with homemade ice-cream and some shopped nuts for good measure. My other favourite part about the Darshan menu was a disclaimer on the first page which I am sure annoyed the waiters a lot. It simple stated "The person serving you is a needy student. Do not lower his morale by offering him a tip. Calling him brother or 'bandhu' is the best tip you can give him." I have heard that they recently removed that little note.

Ingredients
4 Chickoos peeled with seeds removed (Or one pack of frozen chickoo)
2 Figs quartered
3/4 cup mixture of Almond, Pistachio, Cashew
1/2 Cup Raisins
2 cups Whole Milk
1/2 cup Whipping Cream
1/2 tsp Saffron

Method
Put the ingredients in the blender in the following order.
Raisns at the bottom, then nuts, chickoo, figs, cream, milk and saffron
Run the blender on the smoothie setting.
Keep blending till the raisins have been broken down completely

Serve in a tall glass with chopped nuts and a dollop of vanilla ice-cream

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Goan Vegetable Curry


In the last 20 years, my family has had more weddings at Hotel Shreeyas than I care to remember. Coz' when one thinks of a nice romantic wedding, clearly the first thing that comes to mind is Shreeyas. My first memories of Shreeyas were going to have Thali there. 6 Rupees for a plateful of 12 odd items, 9 of which you'd would never touch. The unenthusiastic waiters would occasionally visit you to replenish your plates with food that could be described as tolerable at best. Still, Shreeyas never kept running out of loyal customers. My father was one of them. He took us there every so often and I would keep praying that they'd have the two things I could push down my gullet. Actually, the two things I did like at Shreeyas were the yellow potato bhaji and one delicious vegetable dish in a coconut sauce. I think it was Goan vegetable curry with a 'brahmini' twist. And I loved it. It made the trip to Shreeyas bearable.

Ingredients
4 cups assorted vegetables chopped. (Broccoli, Cauliflower, Zucchini, Capsicum, Baby Corn, Snap Peas, Carrots, Tofu).
5 cloves Garlic crushed
1" Ginger thinly sliced
2 cups low-fat Coconut Milk
1/4 cup Oil
1 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp Chili Powder
1 tsp garam masala
Salt to taste

Method
Heat oil in a large pot
Add garlic and ginger till garlic turns brown
Add vegetables and sauté them in the oil
Add turmeric, chili and garam masala.
Add coconut milk and Salt and allow to simmer till vegetables are cooked.
Serve with basmati rice.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Idli


After I passed out of Abhinav Kala Mahavidyalaya in 96 and my visits to Bajirao Rd were limited to the telephone exchange. There are a number of things I miss about my old college neighbourhood. Places like Saras Baug, Hindustan Bakery and most of all Wadeshwar. On Bajirao Road right opposite the telephone exchange there is a small place called that sells the most delicious idlis you'll ever eat. You wouldn't come across it unless you knew of it as the actual place is on the first floor, almost 10 metres above the footpath. 90% of Wadeshwar's business comes from Idli-Sambar. Two hot idlis in a bowl with a generous helping of Sambar that came out of a tap. And back then it was all at a very reasonable price or 2 Rupees making it a highly sought after destination for cheap bastards like yours truly. It was also a great place to sketch as some really interesting, senior gentry from the ‘old city’ frequented the place. Really the sketching wasn't as interesting as watching feeble, slightly bent, old city folk who would struggle to get to the top of the stairs, settle down with a bowl of boiling hot idli-sambar and just inhale it. The sale of idli sambar at Wadeshwar is so high that the sambar was kept in a horizontal, high capacity tank and poured on the idli by means of taps placed at one-foot intervals. I always opted for the idli-chutney, as I was afraid of spilling any sambar on my clothes. Looking back, it was kind of pointless, as I didn't own any clothes that weren't already paint-stained.

Ingredients
1 cup Rice
1 cup Urad Dal

1/2 tsp Salt.
Oil

Method
Soak Rice and Urad Dal overnight in separate containers.
Coarsely grind Rice and Udad Dal separately using sufficient water till you have a the consistency of medium thick batter
Mix Rice and Urad in a container
Leave overnight and allow it to ferment
Add salt and stir to flatten the batter
Grease the idli pans and fill them to about 3/4th capacity
Steam the idlis for 10 min
Serve with sambar and chutney

Monday, June 4, 2007

Bhel



I grew up on Prabhat Road and our park was Kamla Nehru Park or KNP, as the college kids that order their chai "one by two" called it. My fondest memories bhel are outside the large iron gate of KNP. Bhola bhel was our "bhelwala". No real reason, that's just the guy my mother would take us to. A balding man on the wrong side of fifty with a pushcart and a permanent burnt umber complexion from making bhel under the scorching Indian sun. His pushcart had a hand painted board that advertised Bhola Bhel next to an anatomically questionable picture of Shankar. The glass containers that contained the papri and rice puffs were adorned with fading pictures of Bollywood stars whose star had faded decades ago. He cut onion really fine with a speed that would put the finest Waring chopper to shame. With a thick handle bar mustache and a cheery disposition he never failed to make serious small talk, even with his youngest customers. And for 70 Paise (in 1978) he would serve you Bhel on a single page of a glossy magazine and a little square from a slightly thicker cover would serve as the spoon. I would run back to the park with my friends and we'd sit under the biggest mango tree and enjoy Mr. Bhola's Bhel to the fullest with a spiced side of green chili. Sadly, Mr.Bhola is now making Bhel in heaven and the spot where his cart used to be is occupied by a chaiwalla. It was very relaxing to watch him make Bhel and I had watched him make it enough times to know the recipe by heart. So I dedicate this recipe to Mr. Bhola. Long after he has gone may his recipe live on in many corners of the world.

Ingredients
1 Cup Puffed Rice (Mumra)
1 Cup Farsan (Or a mixture of Sev, Papdi and Gaathi)
1/2 Onion chopped
1/2 Tomato finely chopped
1/4 Raw Mango chopped (optional)
2 tsp Coriander finely chopped
1/2 tsp Green Chlli Paste

For Tamarind Chutney or buy it here
1 Cup water
1/4 cup Tamarind Pulp
1 tsp Jaggrey or Brown Sugar
1/4 tsp Cumin Paste
1/4 tsp shendelon-pandelon (Black Rock Salt.)

Method
In a small pot boil all the ingredients for the tamarind chutney.
In a big bowl mix puffed rice, farsan, onion, tomato, mango, cilantro and 4 tbsp tamrind chutney.
Add little chili paste according to your spice tolerance.
Serve in a small bowl garnished with Sev and Corainder.