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