Saturday, December 5, 2009

Homemade Potato Chips

The month of May in Pune is a time for summer vacation, over-chlorinated swimming pools, Alphonso mangoes and 40º C plus temperatures. It is also time for the industrious Puneri housewife to make homemade kurdai, papadi and potato chips. There isn’t a Puneri worth his salt that hasn’t slipped on or walked over a sheet full of sticky sabudana papad freshly laid out to dehydrate in the scorching summer sun. One of the most common sights of the Maharashtrian summer is an assortment of papads spread over sheets of tarp on roofs, terraces, courtyards and any flat surface that had the potential for catching a bit of the sun, irrespective of its inconvenience to the passerby. I always wondered “Why would you toil for a whole day making the batter, spend another couple of hours laying them in the sun, employ the area kids to make sure the birds aren’t stealing them and in a week you’d have a substandard side-dish that one can totally live without?” Not to mention these are readily available at any neighbourhood store—and really cheap, too. Although I must say, my cricket skills would have been even more lacklustre, if I didn’t have to submit to the rule that if the ball were to land directly on any of Mrs. Natoo’s papads, you’re out!! And as if that wasn’t punishment enough, an addendum to the rule stated that the retrieval of said ball would become the sole responsibility of the batsman.


  • 2 Whole boiled Potatoes
  • Chili powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil for deep frying


  • Using a slicer make thin slices of the potatoes over a sheet of plastic making sure the potatoes do not overlap
  • Place the sheet directly in the sun (or better yet, start the slicing outdoors in the sun) and allow the potatoes to dehydrate for a day or two
  • When completely dehydrated, they’re ready to fry
  • In a wok, take enough oil for deep-frying
  • Put 7-8 slices at a time
  • When slices puff up, remove and place over an absorbing sheet (like a newspaper or tissue)
  • Drizzle chili powder and salt over chips as per taste
  • Serve without guilt

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Bhutta (Fire Roasted Corn on the Cob)

The year was 1988 and my mediocre performance in the SSC exams was followed by successful admission to the science stream at the prestigious Fergusson College with little help from my dear aunt who headed the Dept. of Physics. A decision she no doubt came to regret after going over my attendance record and my report card. As it is common knowledge, junior college is best attended as a casual student and yours truly took that piece of advice to heart. As a result, most of my time at Fergusson was spent either in deep, 'scholastic' discussions at Vaishali or under the eight odd tin sheds outside the main gate that served as two-wheeler parking. The bicycle stand was an excellent alternative to attending class, except for one problem — there wasn't any food readily available. However, all was not bleak among the Hero Hondas! Stationed right outside the gate of the ladies was a bhuttawala. With a pyramid of corn and a large bowl of live coals and the right combination of lemon, salt and chili, his corn hit the spot for many bicycle shed dwellers. The FC road bhuttawala provided the much needed 3:00 p.m. comfort as well as a reason to carry dental floss in the glove compartment of my Kinetic Honda.

  • 1 ear of Corn
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Chili
  • 1 tsp Ghee
  • 1/2 Lemon

  1. Roast the corn over an open flame till it has blackened evenly
  2. While still hot take some ghee in your hands and rub all over the corn
  3. Mix the chili and salt
  4. Dip lemon in the mixture and rub it on the corn while gently squeezing it making sure that the salt, chili and lemon juice are evenly coated on the corn
Enjoy hot, ideally on a two-wheeler under a tree

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Kheema Pattice

Long before Tendulkar and somewhere between Azhar making his debut and Ravi Shastri being declared 'Champion of Champions' India decided that the time was to introduce some Western ishtyle fast food. The result — Big Bite, a culinary hodge-podge that was a cross between a burger and a pita. A small, oblong, lightly-spiced meat or vegetable patty microwaved and stuffed inside a half egg-shaped bun along with onion slices and a generous squirt of Kissan tomato sauce. It tasted every bit as bad as it sounds. The Big Bite logo, too, was a winner. It consisted of the words Big Bite in Times Roman sandwiched between two luscious red lips with a giant highlight. It looked more like an X-rated venture more than anything to do with food. In Pune, the most forward thinking and modern of all politicians, one 'honourable' Mr. Suresh Kalmadi, in all his bearded wisdom, tried to cash in on this 'thing' all the youngsters seemed to be into. He immediately carved a piece out of his Poona Coffee House restaurant and converted it into the cool place where supposedly all the kids influenced by the Break Dance movies would then hang out. Big Bite was a national chain supported by a strong media presence and a good advertising campaign. But the old advertising slogan "Nothing kills a bad product faster than good advertising" held true and Big Bite lost steam faster than it took to microwave the lame meat patties. I guess the answer to the question posed at the end of every Big Bite ad "Don't you feel like a Big Bite now?" was pretty evident. About 50 ft down the same block from Big Bite in Pune, our friends at Borawke's completely ignorant of the competition were doing what they did best — grilling and frying meats. The mutton pattice they served was one of best foods I have ever tasted, and had Big-Bite served that instead, maybe they would still be around.


For filling:
  • 1 lb lamb extra-lean kheema (minced)
  • 2 large onions finely chopped
  • 2 large tomatoes finely chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic crushed or 1 tsp paste
  • 1 tsp ginger paste
  • 1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 4 tsp chopped cilantro
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp garam-masala
  • Salt (or according to taste)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup oil

For Shell:
  • 4 Potatoes boiled and mashed
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 2 cups bread crumbs


  1. In a large pot heat oil on high and add ginger and garlic.
  2. When the garlic starts to splatter add chopped onion
  3. Once the onion browns on the edges, add tomato and stir
  4. Allow it to cook for 5 min
  5. Then add chili, turmeric and garam masala
  6. Allow it to cook for a few minutes
  7. Add one cup of water to make it loose and reduce flame to medium heat
  8. Add the lamb gently and separate it making sure it is completely mixed with the spices
  9. Gently stir and allow it to cook for a couple of minutes till the meatballs are firm
  10. Add rest of the water and stir mixing thoroughly
  11. Turn up heat between medium and high
  12. Allow to cook till it water is completely reduced and only a thick mass of kheema remains
  13. Place aside for 6-8 hours so the spices are absorbed well in the meat

To make Patties
  1. Take a lemon-sized ball of the potato and flatten it
  2. Place a tablespoon of Kheem at the center and fold the potato over it making sure that the filling is completely sealed
  3. Pat is slightly to make shaped like a patty
  4. Beat the eggs in a bowl
  5. Dip the patty making sure all of it is coated with the egg
  6. Then dredge the patty in the bread crumbs

  1. In a wok, heat enough oil for frying 2-3 patties at a time
  2. When oil is hot turn the flame between medium and high
  3. Fry the patties gently (remember these are very delicate and tend to break in the oil if not careful. Also this is another reason to make sure all the water from the kheema is gone)
  4. When the patties are golden brown, remove from the wok

Serve with tamarind or mint chutney

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Guava Raita

There are certain things that schools in India guarantee — a good education, lifelong friendships and a peruwala outside every school gate. For those of you who didn’t go to school in India, a peruwala is a guava vendor and there’s one situated outside each school gate with a black Atlas bicycle and flat cane basket tied to the “carrier” over the rear wheel. The basket lined with grass is quartered with rope to separate the guavas by size and price. In my days, 75 paise (roughly 15¢ in 1988) would fetch you the biggest guava on the cart. It was harmless and inexpensive treat that made recess just that much sweeter. Cut into 4 quarters, each guava would then be filled with chili and salt — the thought of which freaks my firang wife out to this day. The guavawalla is a phenomenon I couldn’t quite understand. Why are there only peruwalas outside school? There’s never an apple cart or even an orange cart. Either way, memories of my post-lunch guava with friends are something I cherish to this day.

20 Monaco biscuits (or salty crackers)
2 ripe Guavas chopped
1 tsp finely chopped Coriander
1 cup Yogurt
4 tsp ground Peanuts
1/2 tsp Sugar
Salt to taste
1 tbsp Olive Oil
1/4 tsp Mustard seeds
1/2 tsp Cumin seeds

Beat yogurt in a bowl till it is a thick liquid
Mix coriander, peanuts, sugar and salt into the yogurt
Gently add the chopped guava into the bowl
Heat oil in a small pot
When the oil is hot add mustard and cumin seeds
When the seeds start to splatter reduce heat and pour the tempered mixture over the guavas
Mix well
Lay out the crackers and place a little dollop of the raita on each cracker

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Watermelon Salad

As April approaches, temperatures in Pune begin flirting the 40º C mark. But the sweltering heat also brings with it some very familiar sights. There are mango stalls on every corner, as are the “barf gola” people. Naral Pani walas are everywhere. And my favourite of them all, foothpaths and roadsides lined with mountains of watermelon. When I was in art school in Pune, college used to let out at 1:15 p.m. A sweet spot during the day in the summer months when the tar on the roads has just begun to melt, but it’s nowhere are hot as it’ll be at 4:00 p.m. As I traveled from my college on Tilak Rd to my residence on Law College Rd, I passed MES college on Karve Rd. Outside MES college was a watermelon vendor with atl east a 25 metre long wall of melons lined up against the college walls all the way up to the main gate. And just next to the main gate stood his watermelon slice cart. A small cart with blocks of ice that was stacked in steps which were in turn lined with red rexine cloth. The top of the steps was reserved for a photo of Balkrishna that had clearly seen better days. 3 remaining tiers were lined with wedges of juicy red watermelon in ascending order. Rs 1.50 would fetch you the biggest wedge, which at times was as big as the wheel of a scooter. It was just what was needed on a summer day as a buffer between college and a nice home cooked lunch. Sliced into pieces and served on a weathered plastic plate it really hit the spot. And as if that wasn’t enough, it was dusted lightly with pepper and salt. And of course, you could always take home a whole melon if you so desired. Simple pleasures, good times!

2 cups Seedless Watermelon cubed, preferably cold
1 Tsp Feta Cheese
6 Black Olives sliced
10 Mint leaves crushed
1 tsp Orange Zest
1 tsp extra virgin Olive oil

Place all ingredients except cheese and oil in a bowl
Sprinkle the cheese and drizzle the oil over it
Toss the salad gently and serve.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sev Batata Dahi Puri (SBDP)

I can admit without any resentment that I have spent the better part of the mornings of growing years at Hotel Vaishali. There’s no other place that embodies the slow paced, there’s-always-tomorrow sprit of Pune city more than Hotel Vaishali. Any regular visitor can tell you with their eyes closed what the scene at Vaishali is like in the mornings. Sadly, they can also name the people who will be there at any given time and the area in which they might be sitting. I first started visiting Vaishali for the food. I have yet to find a single thing or item on the menu to complain about. However, years went by, and although the food never took a back seat, mornings at Vaishali became more of a social event than a strictly culinary visit. Although, as fun as the mornings at Vaishali were, evenings at Vaishali just as awesome. And the one thing that made that possible was that the Chaat bar would open at 4:30 p.m. And the crowning jewel of the Chaat bar was the hero of the evenings, the Sev Batata Dahi Puri known simply as “The SBDP”. I have eaten this dish pretty much all over the country, but none even comes close to the SBDP at Vaishali.

2 boiled Potatoes, cut into small cubes
1 finely chopped Onion
2 finely chopped Tomatoes
1/4 cup Cilantro finely chopped
1/4 cup Mint finely chopped
1 pack Chaat Puris
1 cup Yoghurt, slightly sweetened and whipped
1/2 cup Tamarind Pulp
1/2 cup Date pulp
2 tsp Jaggrey
1 cup Sev

In a pot boil 2 cups of water and add the jaggrey, date pulp and tamarind pulp stirring it to make sure it is a homogenous mixture
Reduce the mixture to half or till it is a thick liquid
Place aside and allow it to cool
On a plate place a few puris (if the puris are puffy, make a hole on one side and place with the hole facing up)
Place potato on the puris (or in)
Place the tomato and onion on the puris (in that order)
Using a teaspoon drizzle the Tamarind chutney over the puris so that each puri gets at least a spoonful
Drizzle some yoghurt over each of the puri (1/2 tsp per puri)
Top generously with Sev
Garnish with cilantro and mint
Serve immediately before puris get soggy

Friday, July 3, 2009

Kheema Meatball Curry

Shivaji Market situated a few blocks to the south of Main Street, is the centre for all things meat in Pune and the central wholesale market for meat, poultry and seafood in the city. This is the place you’d go to if you wanted the freshest and the best meats. Most families serious about their non-veg get their meats from here and every family has their favourite vendor who apparently has the ‘best’ meat or fish. Getting is from someone else is tantamount to throwing money down the drain. Shivaji Market is probably one of the smelliest places in the city and not the prettiest of places. It has four major sections—poultry, meat (mostly lamb), fish and vegetable. It is very colourful, full of character (and characters) and a photographers dream. A late uncle of mine had an obsession with buying the freshest meat. The meat trucks delivered the meat around 7:00 p.m. He would go the market around 7:00 and hang out in the smelly gala (stall) with our family butcher. He would then order some prime cuts of the freshest meats from the butcher making small talk about nothing. Of course, it’s another story that this meat would then sit in the freezer at home for many days, thus leaving it’s freshness redundant. This obsession with buying things fresh and then keeping them in the fridge runs through my extended family. The butcher did have the best mutton. Kheema (minced meat) is one of my favourite mutton dishes, although I would only eat it if the mutton was minced by hand and not by a machine. The meat minced by hand on a butcher’s block is much chunkier and thus tastier as compared to the machine cut version. And it stays really firm and juicy when making meatballs.

Another interesting story on Shivaji Market by The Cook's Cottage

I lb lamb extra-lean kheema (minced)
2 large onions finely chopped
2 large tomatoes finely chopped
5 cloves of garlic crushed or 1 tsp paste
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
4 tsp chopped cilantro
1 lemon
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp turmeric powder
1 1/2 tsp garam-masala
Salt (or according to taste)
3 cups water
1/2 cup oil


For meat balls
In a bowl mix thoroughly the Kheema, ginger-garlic paste, cilantro and 1/2 tsp salt and juice of 1 lemon
With greased hands, make small balls 1” in diameter and place aside

For curry
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 it to cook for 5 min
Then add chili, turmeric and garam masala
Allow it to cook for a few minutes
Add one cup water to make it loose and reduce flame to medium heat
Add the meatballs gently and making sure they are coated with the curry
Gently stir and allow it to cook for a couple of minutes till the meatballs are firm
Add rest of the water and stir gently taking care not to dissolve the meatballs
Turn up heat between medium and high
Allow to cook till it reduces by half and a thick gravy remains
Serve with chapatti or basmati rice.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Aaamras (Alphonso Mango Pulp)

When I was young the Deccan Gymkhana area was filled with Brahmins who crossed the river from the old city and settled in and around what is now Erandwane. We had one such senior Puneite who lived in our lane. He was by all means a sweet and kind old man with some solid 60s fashion. He was a very close friend of the family as well and he taught us many useless things that only old people can. My fondest memory of him is watching him eat his daily alphonso during mango season. Every afternoon after his lunch he would lay a newspaper on the ota (stone platform) outside his house. He would then sit with a ripe alphonso mango, a glass of water wearing and a pair of scissors wearing his striped blue pajamas and a sleeveless t-shirt that was once white. Slowly he would begin devouring the alphonso, enjoying every bite to the fullest till he reached the pit. He would then proceed to suck it dry till it could be sucked no more. This is when it got interesting. He would then place the mango on the newspaper and proceed to remove whatever yellow matter may still be left from the little grooves of the pit using his fingernails. Once satisfied, he would then cut the fibers of the pit and eat them. And finally, a dip in the glass of water to make sure every last bit of mango has come off completely would end this unequal struggle between him and the mango. And anyone who has ever had an aplhonso will agree, it is that good!

2 ripe Alphonso Mangoes
1/4 cup Milk
1 Tsp sugar
Pinch of Saffron (optional)

Soften the mango using fingers
Squeeze out all the pulp of the mango
Add milk, sugar and saffron and mix it thoroughly
Serve cold with hot fluffy pooris

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Hummus Cauliflower Sandwich

In my entire time in Pune city, the only place that came close to delivering a delicious mouth-watering sandwich that could rival Marzorin, was Jaws. Anyone who has lived in Pune in the 90s can remember Jaws. If you weren’t a vegetarian, you couldn’t go to Camp without at least considering if there was a possibility of a sandwich at Jaws. Jaws was famous for being the first place in Pune that served a real grilled beef burger. It was run by a couple of fresh graduates in an old British Raj style bungalow that looked like it was once army property. The restaurant wasn’t really part of the bungalow and was situated in the verandah. The seating was on concrete benches haphazardly scattered across the dusty parking area, Western music playing on loudspeakers that clearly couldn’t handle the sound. There was a room with a table tennis table where one could play for a token fee although no one went there to play. It was all about the burgers and the best chicken roll you ever had. Great burgers, Frankies, rolls and shakes made from the simplest recipes and ingredients. Food for the young, made and sold by the young. It was the cool place to be, although nothing about the place itself was cool. The sad part about Jaws however was that they didn’t have anything in the way of vegetarian foods except for an alu Frankie and that would be a problem in a mixed group. Hanging out at Jaws has definitely been one of the childhood memories of my college days. Jaws disappeared as the guys who ran it found real careers. It was one of the best places to eat and to be in Pune and sadly, it’s a thing of the past.

1 cup Hummus (Click here for hummus recipe)
10 slices of Wheat Sourdough Bread
1 Cauliflower finely chopped
2 tbsp Olive oil
1 tsp fresh cracked pepper
Salt to taste
1 sliced tomato
Heat the oil in a pot and add black pepper to it
Once the pepper starts to splatter add cauliflower and salt
Stir and close lid
Cook for 15-20 min till the Cauliflower is soft and slightly browned on some flowerets
Allow it to cool
Take two slices of bread and apply hummus on the inner sides generously
On one of the slices add a layer of cauliflower
Top it with a couple slices of tomato
Place the other slice of bread with the hummus side inside
Press to make the sandwich firm
Serve as a snack

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Chana Saag

being the educational capital of India, everyone had in their friend’s circle a group of out station students who had come to for a better education, especially during their college years. Of course choosing my group of friends to hang out with proved that no amount of education can improve poor judgment. Most of my out station friends were as good in the kitchen as Maninder Singh in his early years with the bat. On the positive side, you’d always have a group ready to go on a culinary adventure. Although, these kids mostly had their list of staples they’d visit and order the same thing day after day. On Deccan Gymnkhana, behind Karachi Sweet Mart and a few waves short of being immersed in the Mutha river, there was restaurant by the name on Purab. A basically non-descript restaurant that served Punjabi as well as South Indian foods. Purab was a favourite of one of my friends and he had a standard order—Paneer Bhurji with 3 rotis. I remember sitting across the table and watch him eat the same week for weeks at a time. Enough to make you never want to eat it again, but that never affected him. Purab had the standard Punjabi menu. Although I avoided most things with Palak in it, the waiter once mistakenly brought me Chana Saag instead of plain Chana. And much to my surprise it was not only edible, but quite delicious, too. Ever since, I have used Chana Saag to help me get my much-needed serving of greens.

1 can Chickpeas (cooked)
2 bags Baby Spinach
1 large Onion finely chopped
2 tsp Tomato paste
1 tsp Garlic paste
1/2 tsp grated Ginger
1/2 cup heavy Cream
5 Green Chilies chopped
1 tsp Turmeric
2 tsp Garam Masala
2 tbsp chopped Coriander
Salt to taste
3 tbsp Cooking Oil

In a pot heat the oil on medium heat and add garlic, ginger and chilies and stir
As they start to splatter, add onions and stir and allow it to cook till golden brown on the edges
Add tomato paste and coriander and allow it to cook for a couple of minutes
Add turmeric and garam masala and mix it thoroughly
Add spinach, stir, reduce heat and place lid on the pot
Keep stirring occasionally even after spinach has reduced completely
Remove from heat and allow it to cool
Once cool blend the cooked spinach with heavy cream
Pour it back into the pot and add chickpeas
Allow it to simmer for 20 min on medium heat with the lid on
Serve with bread

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Kala Chana Usal (Stir Fried Bengal Lentils)

I grew up on Prabhat Road in nicer times; when the air SPM index was way below 100. Breathing was easier, washing hands didn’t make the sink muddy and Deccan Gymnkhana was the shopping area for fresh fruit and vegetables in addition to sundries. Vegetable shops ranged from huge fruit and vegetable stalls to small ones, like women sitting on a damp jute rag with small portions of cilantro or pieces of young coconut for 25 Paise each. The most interesting shops were on the side where Karve Rd met Prabhat Rd. There were 3 levels of shops / vendors on this street. The concrete shops starting with the Oil Depot at the apex, Vrindavan which was once a tea house, the school (Shishu Vihar) in the middle of nowhere, followed again by some oil depots, grain shops and then the Central Book House which never sold a book you actually could use. After the concrete shops was a layer of semi-permanent low-level shops that sold anything from bangles to brooms to poorly made plastic items. On the next level were the small herb and spice vendors that would have just one or two things to sell. One such lady sat outside the Latay Oil Depot and sold sprouts. It was the only one of its kind and in spite of being so small, was the place to go for fresh sprouts. I don’t quite know why no one else had sprouts. The sprout lady had become a landmark on that street although she occupied less that a 3 feet X 3 feet area. Anyone who has ever shopped there definitely knows who this person is. The last time I visited Pune, the pollution had gone from bad to worse, especially near Deccan Gymnkhana. And these small vendors sit at street level right next to the main Deccan traffic light where hoards of poorly maintained vehicles spew petrol and diesel fumes. It would be a shame to see this little market go away. And although I can claim that 90% of the sprouts I ate in Pune came from this frail lady, I hope for her sake that she along with her friends has relocated. Or better yet, retired, breathing some cleaner air in her village and munching on some nutritious sprouts.

1 lb fresh Green Bengal Lentils (not dried)
1 tbsp oil
1 twig Curry Leaves (around 10)
1/2 tsp Chili Powder
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1/2 tsp Maharashtrian Goda Masala
1/4 tsp Mustard Seeds
1/2 tsp Asafoetida (Hing)
Salt to taste

In a wok, heat the oil.
Add curry leaves, mustard seeds and asafoetida
As the mustard seeds start to splatter add the chili, turmeric and goda masala
Once the spices start to froth, add the lentils and stir so that they’re all coated with the spices
Allow it to cook covered for a few minutes stirring occasionally
Garnish with lemon and cilantro
Serve with bread or rice and yoghurt

Friday, February 27, 2009

Spicy Fish Sticks

Schools in Pune organized “Fancy Fetes” as a means of raising much needed funds. My alma mater would raise more money in 3 days with a fete than it could with the meager alms received through ZP funding in a year. The maths for this was simple. Host a huge fair on the school grounds by asking students to contribute as well as sell raffle tickets and massive corporate sponsorships would fill the void. Parents would be asked to volunteer their services in supervising the student run stalls of games or refreshments. For a college student, the most important part of going to a school fete was the large collection of young women and supporting schools was as far from anyone’s mind as could be. Besides the games including the large central hoopla and the obvious collection of pretty girls, my favourite part of these fetes were the stalls of home made foods run by parents. Delicious home ‘ishtyle’ food was presented in paper plates that were inevitably covered with grass or sand. One year, I came across a stall run by one of the parents that was selling fish and chips. Of course, besides the name, it had no resemblance to the actual beer battered British namesake. This one actually had some taste and packed a spicy Puneri punch. Every year after that, I tried looking for the fish and chips stall, but never saw it again. Maybe the woman had a special recipe that made it so delicious. Maybe it was the smell of the sand which was soaked to keep dust from rising or maybe it was being back at school to play with everyone you ever knew that made the fish taste so good. No matter how many seafood shacks I visit, I know I’ll never taste the same fish again, just as I know that I can never go back to school and play with the same friends again.

1 lb Halibut (or Pomfret) filet cut into sticks
1 tbsp fresh garlic paste
1/3 tsp Turmeric
1/2 tsp Chili powder
1/3 tsp Garam Masala
1 tsp Lemon Juice
Salt to taste
2 cups Besan (Chickpea Flour)
Oil for deep frying

In a large bowl mix all the ingredients except fish and besan to create marinade.
Add a few teaspoons of water if necessary
Add fish sticks and mix thoroughly till the fish is covered with the marinade
Allow it to marinate for a few hours
Heat the oil in a wok
When oil is hot, reduce heat to medium
Dredge the fish sticks in besan
Deep fry till golden brown
Serve hot with a slice of lemon

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Toor Dal Khichidi (Pigeon Pea Rice)

My wife grew up in San Diego very close to the Mexican border; a place blessed with the best rice and beans North of the border and something she misses dearly. I would never attempt to cook rice and beans (as it would inevitably taste like an amateur hack job) especially for someone who has grown up eating it. As I thought about the Mexican rice and beans, I couldn’t help but think about the Maharashrtian khichidi. Cheap and downright delicious comfort foodthat never fails to transport me back to Pune. I have fond memories of being fed soft khichidis topped with ample ghee whenever I was feeling a bit under the weather. On one such occasion I introduced my wife to this humble food with spectacular results. Although, a lentil khichidi can never replace rice and beans as my wife’s favourite food, I think it is pretty high up on the list based on the requests I get to cook it.

2 tbsp cooking oil
1 cup uncooked Basmati Rice, washed
1 cup Pigeon Peas, washed (or Moong Dal)
1 Onion finely shredded
1 tbsp Tomato paste
1½ tsp Maharashtrian Goda Masala
½ tsp Cumin & Coriander seed powder
¾ tsp Turmeric
½ tsp Chili powder
½ tsp Asafoetida
½ tsp Mustard seeds
½ cup chopped Cilantro
Ghee for garnish
Salt to taste

In a medium sized pot heat the oil and temper mustard seeds
Add chopped onion and stir and allow it to cook till light brown on the sides
Add Cumin & Coriander powder, Chili, Turmeric, Asafoetida, Goda Masala and stir for a minute
Add the Rice and Peas and stir for a minute till it is a homogenous mixture
Add 2 cups of water, salt and stir in cilantro
Allow it to cook on medium heat stirring occasionally and adding water as needed
Keep cooking till peas are cooked and mushy
Serve hot garnished with cilantro and ghee with pappadum and pickle