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Saturday, June 24, 2017

Lacche Wala Kairi Paak | Instant Sweet Mango Pickle | From Scratch



Growing up I remember my brother loved this and my nanima (maternal grand mother) would make it for him every now and then when green mangoes were in season.

This sweet pickle is one of DH’s favourite condiments too. That is perhaps one of the reasons why you will find a big jar of this raw mango jam or Kairi Paak (as called in my mom’s place) or Mitha Achar (as called in my in laws place) in my house every year during the mango season. Even though it is a staple in my house, I never have to make it on my own.

Every year either my mother in law or DH’s maternal grandmother sends us a bottle of freshly made Kairi Paak as soon as raw mangoes are available in the market. This year was no different. But, may be it was high time for me to make it on my own, so one fine day that jar broke (Thanks to baby M but thankfully no one was hurt).

When I picked the condiment theme for my second leg of Blogging Marathon, a monthly event that is the brain child of Srivalli, I decided to try this out.

Grated raw mangoes is used in making these. So, the texture of the final product is not smooth. This texture sets it apart from the sweet mango chutney which is altogether different both in taste and process of making.

Lacche Wala Kairi Paak

Ingredients:

200 gm raw grated mango
200 gm sugar
2 cardamom, pounded
10 strands of saffron, rubbed in a mini pestle and mortar with a pinch of sugar and a few drops of water

Process:

1. In a thick bottom pan mix the raw grated mangoes with sugar and heat it. Do not add any water. The sugar will melt as the mixture gets heated.

2. Keep stirring while it is getting heated for about 10-15 minutes and you will see that the strands of raw mangoes will start becoming translucent. The sugar syrup will also thicken.

3. At this point turn off the heat and add the saffron and crushed cardamom pods. Stir well and let it cool completely before storing it in a clean airtight glass jar.

4. It stays well for about 2-3 months when kept in refrigerator. You can use it on bread slices as a jam or as a pickle in your regular meal.



Notes:

1. Do not add water to cook the mango and sugar mixture. Even for rubbing the saffron, just use a few drops. If you add saffron without rubbing, you will not get a nice yellow color in the final product.

2. If you make this in larger quantity, cooking time will need to be adjusted accordingly.

3. Typically, equal amount of raw grated mango and sugar is used. But, you may decrease the sugar quantity to suit to your taste buds.

Thank you for stopping by! Cheers!

BMLogo

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM#77

Monday, June 12, 2017

Roasted Tomato Salsa | How to Make Roasted Tomato Salsa From Scratch


This is my last day of Blogging Marathon under the theme 'Explore Latin American Cuisine' and today I am going to share another Mexican dip that I made to go with my Homemade Tortilla Chips. I make this dip every time, I make anything Mexican for dinner.

It is very easy to make it and the best thing is that it can be made with ingredients readily available in our kitchen. If you like you salsa a bit chunky, chopping roasted tomatoes will do. But, if you like it little saucy, puree half of the tomatoes and chop the rest. I like it both ways but, for this post I have made a chunky salsa.

Roasted Tomato Salsa

Ingredients:
2 large ripe red tomatoes
1 small onion, finely chopped
Handful of coriander leaves, finely chopped
1-2 green chilies, minced
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 tsp sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

Process:


1. Insert a metal skewer into the tomato and roast it on open flame over gas stove till the skin turns blackish and cracks in places. Let it cool a bit and peel the charred skin. Chop the roasted tomato finely.

2. In a bowl add all the ingredients and mix it will. Cover it will a cling film and store in refrigerator. Salsa always tastes better if it is prepared a few hours in advance before serving time.

3. Serve it chilled with tortilla chips or with any other Mexican delicacies.


Thank you for stopping by! Cheers!

BMLogo

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM#77

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Guacamole | How to make Guacamole From Scratch


I first tasted avocados when I was living in Dublin. To tell you the truth, I found it a little too bland for my taste to eat it raw. A few pieces here and there in a salad is fine, but not more than that. But, avocados in the form of this dip is delicious. I can have spoonfuls of it and yet want more.

When you are making tortilla chips, making this dip is a must. In India, avocados comes under the exotic variety of fruits and it comes pricey. So, whenever I buy it, I make sure that I make the best use of it.

More often than not, I find they they are raw when I buy them. so, I keep them wrapped in paper for 2-3 days, till they are ripe enough to be used.

Here is how I make guacamole from scratch - it is an easy, no-cook dip and can be whipped up instantly.

Guacamole

Ingredients:
1 ripe avocado
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 small tomato, deseeded and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
Handful of coriander leaves, finely chopped
1 green chili, finely minced
Salt to taste
Juice of 1 lemon, about 3 to 4 tbsp (adjust to taste)

Process:

1.       Keep all ingredients chopped and minced before setting out to scoop the flesh of avocado as it has a tendency to get brown.
2.       Slit the avocado from the middle and divide into two parts. Remove the stone and using a spoon scoop out the flesh.
3.       Collect the flesh in a medium bowl and using a fork mash it nicely. Add all the listed ingredients and mix it all together. Adjust salt to taste. Cover the bowl tightly with a cling film until serving time.

4.       Serve chilled with tortilla chips. Enjoy!

BMLogo

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM#77

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Homemade Tortilla Chips Made From Scratch | How to Make Tortilla Chips at Home





Past few weeks had been quite busy for me. That is the reason I could not spend any time on this space for more than 2 weeks now.

First DH fell ill and then it was baby M's turn. When both got well, we had to travel for a marriage ceremony. Travelling with a toddler is so exhausting - there are so many little things to pack for every possible situation. After coming back - unpacking, laundry and getting the house in order! Uff.. the list goes on! To top that my regular maids have left and I feel like I am stranded in the middle of no where. You get my point right! But, then that's life. Nothing always go as planned.

Enough of my rants for today, so, lets talk about food now.

Last month I decided to join Srivalli's Blogging Marathon event for the month of June, so that I could be more regular in blogging here. For my first week, I chose the theme - Latin American Cuisine and spent quite some time exploring vegetarian options for various countries that come under the gamut of Latin America. But, in the end, due to time crunch, I decided to stick to some dishes that I have already tasted many times and I could re-create them at home, thus doing some justice to its taste.

Latin America comprises of 19 sovereign states and many other territories and dependencies. Mexico is one of the Latin American countries. So, I chose to post a recipe for tortilla chips - one of the very popular snack to munch on from Mexico.

Today I am sharing a simple recipe for Homemade Tortilla Chips made from scratch using maize flour. This recipe was shared to me by my sister in law. It is her mom's recipe. The only thing I changed was I used whole wheat flour instead of maida as needed in the recipe. When I searched about homemade tortilla chips online, most of the blogs just used ready made corn tortillas to make them. Since, corn tortillas are not readily available in India, anyone wanting to make tortilla chips at home can try this method of using maize flour - our humble makki ka aata. Since, maize flour is gluten free, we have to add wheat flour or maida to the dough, so that it helps in binding.

Without much ado, let's check the recipe now.


Ingredient:

1 cup maize flour/ makki ka aata
½ cup whole wheat flour/aata
2 tbsp oil
Lukewarm water for making dough
Oil to deep fry
½ tsp salt

Process:

1. In a bowl take maize flour, whole wheat flour, salt and oil and mix well. Using the lukewarm water make stiff but smooth dough.

2. Cover the dough and set it aside for 15 minutes

3. Divide the dough into 7-8 golf size balls. Using some whole wheat flour roll the balls one at a time into round circles of 5 to 6 inches diameter. Slice them into 6 triangle pieces just like we slice pizza. Pierce the pieces with fork.

4. Take the pieces off gently and place on a clean plate. Repeat the process with rest of the dough balls. When done, heat oil for deep frying.

5. Deep fry them in batches till they are light brown.

Notes:

You need to be extra careful while rolling the dough. If you roll it too thin it might break. Use flour for dusting as and when needed.


Monday, May 22, 2017

Virgin Orange Mojito | How to Make Virgin Orange Mojito


Virgin Orange Mojito

Both I and DH love oranges. When these fruits are in season, having fresh orange juice almost every day is a norm. But, one fine day, after we bid adieu to the Indian Nagpur Oranges, DH spotted some imported variety in the supermarket and bought a bagful home. While they looked inviting, one sip of its juice made me cringe – they turned out to be very-very sour. So, I was left with no option but to make a mock-tail out of it.

We all know the classic mojito in its virgin form is made of mint, lemon, little sugar and aerated water. Often sprite and ginger ale is also used. I have seen many flavoured mojito drinks doing rounds on the internet and so, I decided to use those sour oranges in making virgin orange mojito. I like to add a bit of ginger juice in my mojitos – it adds a depth to the overall flavour.

Oranges are out of season now. But, you can use packaged orange juice if you fancy to try this out.

Ingredients:
¼ cup fresh mint leaves
2 cups orange juice (I used freshly squeezed orange juice)
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp simple sugar syrup (sugar syrup prepared by mixing and boiling equal quantity of sugar and water till the sugar is dissolved)
1 tsp fresh ginger juice
Sprite as needed
Ice cubes as needed
Orange slices, lemon slices and fresh mint leaves for garnishing

Process:

In a jar add fresh mint leaves, sugar syrup and muddle it with a spoon. Add lemon juice, followed by orange juice and ginger juice. Stir it nicely.

In two tall glasses, add lots of ice cubes and pour the prepared concoction equally. Top it up with chilled sprite. Garnish with orange slice, lemon slice and a mint sprig. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Paan Ice Cream | How to Make Paan Flavoured Ice Cream at Home



When it comes to cooking, the greatest satisfaction for me comes when I am able to create a flavour in a particular dish exactly the way I wanted. So, when I tasted my paan (betel leaves) flavoured ice cream, I did my little happy dance.

"Meetha Paan" is one of those after-food treats I don't mind indulging in, whenever I get a chance. I remember when I was in my early teens back in my hometown, savouring on a meetha paan was a rare indulgence. But, whenever I had the chance, my special instructions to the 'paanwala bhaiya' were - extra gulkand and no supari (betel nut). The paan vendor had a tiny shop with a number of people flocking in at any point of time. Fresh paan leaves would be kept under a wet red muslin cloth, and there would be an assortment of fillings in various jars kept in a particular order to be folded inside the paan leaf, The vendor would take a fresh paan leaf, slather little 'kattha' and would ask how would you like it filled. A request for extra gulkand would often raise his eyebrow. But, in the end everyone could have a customized meetha pan to savour on.

A meetha pan is a perfect palate cleanser for me - I always put the whole of it in my mouth and my jaws are in for some extra work. Juice from the betel leaves, gulkand, fennel seeds and the various filling creates an explosion of flavours which any Indian paan loving human will vouch for. Here in Pune, we do get good meetha paan, but most of the times they are already prepared and kept in an cool ice box. When you buy one, the vendors typically dip it in rose syrup and lightly coat in desiccated coconut and serve it to you.

Paan Ice-Cream

Sometimes back when I spotted paan ice cream at a very popular ice cream joint in the city, I ordered one. But, it didn't live up to my expectations - it had less flavour of paan and more of mint flavoured mouth freshener. So, I decided to try to make it at home. After reading various recipes online, I realized this ice-cream is very much customizable. You can flavour with a blend of things - just like the way you would want to flavour your customized meetha paan.

I stuck with my fresh cream and condensed milk combination for this ice-cream. Do read the notes for some extra tips.

Ingredients:


250 ml fresh cream
200 g condensed milk
200 ml full fat milk
10 medium size maghai paan leaves, divided.
1/4 cup gulkand
1 tbsp green cardamom
3 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp mithi supari (optional, I used it to impart a note of mint flavour in the ice cream. Mithi supari is a mint flavoured sweetened betel nut based mouth freshener easily available in India)

Process:

1. In a small blender jar, add 5 paan leaves, gulkand, green cardamom, fennel seeds and mithi supari. Blend it to a paste using as little water as possible. Using a strainer, strain it to get the extract.
2. In a large blender jar, add the extract, rest of the 5 paan and cream. Blend till smooth. The paan leaves should be finely blended.
3. Add the milk and condensed milk to the mixture in the blender and blend again till smooth.
4. Pour into a freezer safe container and freeze for 2 hours.
5. Take out the half set ice-cream and tip it into the blender jar and blend it till smooth. Freeze it again till frozen. It will take anywhere between 4 to 6 hours.
6. Take it out 5 minutes before serving. Serve scoops of it chilled. You can relish it with or without topping.


Notes:

1. I like my paan ice cream to be smooth. So, I strained the mixture of  paan leaves, gulkand, green cardamom, fennel seeds and mithi supari to get an extract. If you like coarse bits of it in your ice-cream, you may skip the step of straining.
2. For topping you can use, rose syrup, tutti fruity or even tiny bit of gulkand.
3. Churning it before the final freezing if ice-cream helps to reduce ice crystals in the ice-cream. So, don't skip the step. You may churn it 2-3 times if you like.
4. Another way of making this ice-cream is - get 3-4 meetha pan from the vendor and churn it with milk, cream and condensed milk in the quantity mentioned in the recipe.

Thank you for stopping by! Cheers!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Mango Mastani | How to Make Mango Mastani at Home


Mango Mastani

I am a very big fan of mangoes. Despite that, I have hardly shared any mango based recipes on this space.

Well, there is a reason.

Mangoes are something I really look forward to during the summer months in India. Every year, I think of ‘n’ number of mango recipes to try, but every year I end up enjoying the mango fruit as it is. Mangoes are so delicious in itself that I don’t really have the patience to make something out of it. 

This year, I finally decided to share some mango recipes here and I am making a start today.


I grew up in Assam gorging on the best Langda Mangoes. But, this variety of mangoes is not common in Pune. Here it is all about Alphonso or Haphus Mangoes – they are quite flavourful, luscious and sweet. But, still my heart longs for the Langda Aam. We do them get here for a short while, and I do not miss the opportunity to get a bagful home – I guess they are transported here all the way from Bengal.

The recipe I am sharing here today is Pune special. Soon after we had shifted to Pune some years back, I came across this drink named Mango Mastani and I thought – what a name! While there are no established facts about it but, it is said to be named after Peshwa Bajirao’s wife Mastani. I guess most of us who are into Bollywood movies know about her from the movie ‘Bajirao Mastani’.

Simply put, Mastani drink I am talking about is a very thick flavoured milkshake topped with a scoop of ice-cream, nuts, and chopped fresh fruit. Often tutti fruity or glace cherries are also used as toppings. You can get as creative as you like with the toppings. Mastani comes in many flavours – mixed fruits, pineapple, chikoo, etc. But, since mangoes are in season now I am going to share my how I make Mango Mastani at home.

How to Make Mango Mastani at Home

Ingredients:

Serves 1

1 ripe Alphonso mango, peeled, stoned and chopped into pieces
1 tbsp sugar (adjust to taste)
200 ml chilled milk
1 scoop vanilla ice-cream (you can use mango ice-cream also)
Chopped nuts, fresh mango pieces and tutti fruity pieces for topping

Process:

1. In a blender jar, add the mango pieces, sugar and milk and blend it till smooth. Adjust sweetness to taste if needed.

2. In a tall glass, add the prepared thick mango shake. Top it with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream, chopped nuts, fresh mango pieces and tutti fruity. Serve it immediately. Enjoy!

Notes:

1. You can also add 1 or 2 tbsp condensed milk to the shake. You may have to adjust the sugar quantity as needed.
Thank you for stopping by! Cheers!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Veg Biryani | How to Make Veg Biryani at Home from Scratch


Veg Biryani | How to Make Veg Biryani


Making Biryani at home from scratch was a dream for me. Reading all the recipes online made it look so daunting and time consuming that, for a long long time I didn't even give making it from scratch a thought.


And, it is a fact that making a pot of biryani at home is a time consuming process. But, once you have made the perfect biryani on your own, the feeling you will experience will be no less than that of conquering a battle. Period.

When I make it at home, I just wholeheartedly make this. There are 2 reasons - one is that it will take about 1½ to 2 hours to make biryani from scratch. Gathering all the ingredients, cooking rice, preparing gravy, preparing fresh herbs for layers and onion crisps for topping - there is quite a lot to do. I don't have more than that much time to prepare onetime meal. Secondly, I do not want to diminish my appetite by having some snacks before having biryani. Trust me on this - a biryani tastes best when you are really hungry!

A heap of homemade biryani, raita and some onion slices - that's enough for a hearty and filling meal.

My best tips if you want to try this recipe will be:

  • Read the recipe several times before starting out. 
  • Get all the steps clear in your mind. 
  • Check if you have all the ingredients handy in your pantry. 
  • Lastly, make it when you have at least 3 leisure hours at hand. You can't make a good biryani in a hurry!
Making good biryani has its own learning curve. You have to make it a couple of times to get the hang of getting it perfect every time. The first time I made it, I largely followed this recipe. In my next several attempts, I made my own additions and changes to bring you this recipe today. Do check the notes for some extra tips.

I must add here this was the first thing I shot to share on the blog after the long blogging break I took after having my baby. It was already evening by the time this biryani was ready and baby M was taking a nap. On an impulse, I set the dish and took out my camera and clicked away!

Without much ado, let's hop over to the recipe.

Inspired from here

For the rice:

Ingredients


2 cups Basmati rice (I used Fortune Biryani rice – these are extra-long grains of basmati, specially meant for biryani)
2 tbsp ghee
2 clove
1” cinnamon stick
2 green cardamoms
Small piece of mace
1 black cardamom
10 saffron strands soaked in 1 tsp milk and rubbed in pestle mortar.

Process:

1. Thoroughly wash and drain the rice. Soak it in fresh water for about half an hour.

2. Boil about 8 cups of water in a large vessel to cook the rice. When the water comes to a boil, add all the whole spices. Drain water from the soaked rice and add the rice to the boiling water. Cook the rice uncovered till they are half cooked.

3. When about half cooked, drain the rice in colander and pour cold water over it to stop the process of cooking. When all the water is drained, pour the ghee over the rice.

4. Take about ½ cup of cooked rice and add rubbed saffron to it. Keep it separately till needed.

For the vegetable layering:

Ingredients

Veggies:
½ cup fresh beans, chopped
½ cup green peas
½ cup cauliflower florets
1 cup carrot, peeled and chopped
½ cup paneer cubes

Handful of cashew nut halves

Gravy:
2 tablespoon broken cashew nuts
1 tablespoon khus khus (white poppy seeds)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 large onion, boiled and made into paste
1 bay leaf
1 piece of cinnamon
4 cloves
2 cardamom pods
2 teaspoon ginger paste
2 green chilli chopped
1 teaspoon garlic paste
3 medium tomatoes, blanched and pureed

¼ tsp asafedita
½ tsp turmeric
2 teaspoons chili powder

½ teaspoon cumin powder
½ cup full fat yogurt
1 teaspoon biryani masala (I use Eastern Biryani Masala)
Salt to taste

Process:

1. In pressure cooker, add the chopped veggies. Add about 1 cup water and cooked it for 1 whistle. Switch off the gas immediately and put the cooker under running tap water to cool it down. Open and drain the veggies. Reserve the water in which the veggies were cooked. Alternately, you can half cook the veggies in a pan of boiling water.

2. Soak the cashew, khus khus for half an hour in warm water. Grind it into a smooth paste using little water. Keep aside.

3. In a large pan or Khadai heat oil. Add the bay leaf, asafetida, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the chopped chillies, ginger and garlic paste. Add cashew nut half and fry them till light brown and toasted. Stir and add the onion paste. Fry the paste for 5-7 minutes, till it starts looking brown.

4. When onion paste looks cooked add cashew and khus khus paste. Stir and cook for 2 minutes and add pureed tomatoes. Stir well and cook for 5-7 minutes.

5. Take the pan away from heat and add the beaten yogurt and still constantly to prevent the gravy from curdling. Take the pan back on heat and add rest of the spices. Stir and now add the half cooked veggies and paneer pieces. Add the reserved vegetable stock, stir and cover the pan. Cook on low heat for about 10 minutes. When done, oil will separate from the sides of the gravy. Set aside.




Layering and Topping:

For layering
½ cup chopped cilantro leaves
¼ cup mint leaves (see notes)
2 tablespoons ghee

Toppings:

Ingredients
1 large onion
Oil for deep frying

Process:

1. Peel the onion and cut into 2 halves. Slice them very thin.

2. Heat oil in a Kadhai for frying the onions. Fry them in batches till they are dark brown and crisp; do not overcrowd the Kadhai. Drain the fried onion on paper towel. You can make these fried onions in advance.

When all these things are ready, you are ready to layer the biryani. (See Notes) Take a large baking dish and depending on its depth, you can go for 2 or more layers. Grease the dish and add 1/4th of the rice followed by chopped coriander and mint. Add ½ of the gravy followed by rice, coriander, mint again. Add rice followed by rest of the gravy. Top it with remaining rice. Sprinkle the reserved saffron rice on top and drizzle ghee over the rice.

Cover the baking dish with an aluminum foil and bake in an oven preheated at 180 C for 15 to 20 minutes. Turn the oven off, and let the biryani sit in the hot oven another 10 minutes.

When serving the biryani, top with the fried onions. Serve it hot with raita or yogurt.

Notes:

1. It just takes a few minutes for half cooked rice to get fully cooked, so keep an eye. Over cooked rice will give a mushy and stick biryani. The rice should have a slight crunch.

2. Adding whole spices while cooking rice makes them more fragrant.

3. I cook the veggies in pressure cooker to make the process faster. However, if you are skeptic about putting a hot cooker under cold tap water, cook the veggies in a pan of boiling water till they are half cooked.

4. I like to have 2-3 layers in my biryani. However, if you like you can place 1/2 of the rice, then the entire gravy and top it again with rice.

5. It is best to keep everything ready and layer the biryani about an hour before serving. The chopped fresh mint in the layering tends to go bitter if left for longer. If you need to layer in advance, I suggest skipping the mint entirely in layers. You can however, use mint as garnishing right before serving.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Sixth - The Legend of Karna by Karan Vir - Karna Trilogy Part 1


The Sixth - The Legend of Karna by Karan Vir - Karna Trilogy Part 1

When I got the opportunity to choose a book from a list of titles by leadstartcorp to review, I was instantly interested in this title The Sixth - The Legend of Karna by Karan Vir. Readers who have followed by blog will know that I have a special liking for books based on Indian mythology. This book is not entirely mythological, but a blend of two stories from two eras, running parallel and culminating into something interesting for the readers. This is the debut book of the author and is supposedly Book 1 of his Karna Trilogy.

Karan vir Oberoi is the main protagonist of the novel. He is a real estate tycoon living in New York. But, something has not been right in his life of late. He is experiencing recurring dreams of an ancient warrior clad in golden armor and golden earrings. There is a sense of déjà vu, and he feels as if the warrior wants to tell him something. Even though he tries hard to make some sense of his dreams - he ends up being entirely baffled by it. His business associates also see a difference in his attitude and swings in his mood at work. When Karan's mother comes to know about these dreams, she advises him to go back to his roots- India, to get the answers he is seeking. Amidst all these, there is someone who is plotting against Karan and hatching plans to assassinate him. Karan however, miraculously survives the attempt and heads to India where his destiny awaits him.

Running parallel to Karan's life is Karna's story. He is the one he dreams about. We all know about Suryaputra Karna, the unsung hero of Mahabharata. He was Kunti's first born and was eventually treated as the 'Sixth' Pandava at the end of his eventful life. Hence, the author has aptly named the first book of his Karna Trilogy as 'The Sixth'. Karna was known to be benevolent king; he defied social customs and traditions to achieve immortal glory by his virtues and skills. He became the king of Anga and the most trusted man of Duryodhana, the crown prince of Hastinapur. We all know how his association with Duryodhana ultimately sealed his fate.

All of you who have grown up watching the legendary serial Mahabharata on Doodarshan will probably agree that when you think of Karna from Mahabharata, the face of actor Pankaj Dheer will come floating in your mind. Since, then many other versions of the epic have been aired on various channels, but I never had the chance of watching any of those (and I am glad about it). So, the face of Karna in my mind stays the one I saw in my childhood days. But, after reading this novel, a new face of Karna has surfaced in my mind. Thanks to the liberal use of sketches and graphics throughout the novel.

Even though I am not very good at spotting typos, a couple of them did come to my attention. That is something that can be done away with by the editing team.

The premise of the book sounds promising. While most of us already know about Karna, it is interesting how the author tries to amalgamate Karna's story into Karan's life. However, as a reader I did feel the flow of the story could be better. There were parts that could be elaborated, for example - the part where Karan braves a terrorist attack while on a business trip and saves his business partner. His journey in India also seemed to be rushed upon. Also, I really couldn't gauge the character of 'KPS' as he made fleeting entries here and there in the story in the style of a Bollywood villain. May be the author has intended it that way. But, somehow it didn't work for me. Since the story will span three volumes; there are too many unanswered questions when the first part of the trilogy ends. That does rouse the curiosity of the readers and all that can be done is, wait for the next book of the series to be released.

I am looking forward to the next book of the series as I am curious to know what happens next in Karan's life.

I received this book for Leadstart publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Thank you for stopping by! Cheers!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Shrikhand | Creamy Saffron Cardamom Yogurt | How to Make Shrikhand from Scratch


Shrikhand

Flavoured yogurts are a rage these days, specially fruit flavoured ones. But, for me when it comes to flavoured yogurt, it has to be the traditional Indian Shrikhand. Although it is eaten throughout the country these days, it is said to be native to the states of Gujarat and Maharashtra.

I don't like the ready to eat shrikhand you get in most supermarket aisles - they are made too sweet and seem to have some artificial flavor. The good news is that it is so easy to make Shrikhand at home. Serve it with your regular meal or make it as a dessert for a party menu - it will shine on both occassions.  It is good for your gut and a must-have in these hot summer days.



It is just that you have to plan it advance as you are going to need hung yogurt/curd for making it. If you can get your hands on Greek yogurt, you can whip this up in no time.

Looking for some other dessert ideas with yogurt check out, Mango Shrikhand (Amarakhand), Mango Yogurt Delight, Misti Doi and Blueberry Fool.

Making hung yogurt/curd is pretty easy too - but, it takes some time.

Here is how you can make hung curd. 

Line a sieve with muslin cloth and pour your regular yogurt over it. Cover with a lid and leave it in your fridge for 3-4 hours- overnight is even better. The whey from the yogurt will drain out slowly leaving behind a thick creamy hung yogurt/curd. If you have 2 cups of yogurt you will get about 3/4 or at most 1 cup hung curd.



How to Make Shrikhand from Scratch at Home:

Ingredients:

450 ml hung curd ( made from 1 liter of regular full fat homemade curd)
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp powdered sugar ( adjust to taste - you may like it more or less sweet)
3-4 cardamom pods, finely powdered
10 saffron strands, soaked in 1 tsp milk and rubbed in a pestle and mortar.
Chopped pistachios and flaked almonds for garnishing.

Process:

1. In a large bowl add the hung curd, sugar, powdered cardamom and rubbed saffron. Using a whisk, mix everything together till all the ingredients are well blended and the yogurt is smooth and creamy.

2. Pour into individual serving bowls. Garnish with chopped pistachio and flakes almonds. Let it rest in refrigerator and take it out at the time of serving. Serve chilled.

Notes:

1. You can also pass the yogurt mixture through a sieve for best results. But, it will be a bit messy with a couple of more utensils to wash.

2. Do not using a electric blender to mix it as it tends to liquefy the yogurt. You can however use an electric whisk to make things easier.

Thank you for stopping by! Cheers!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Book Review | Fables from India – A Collection of Short Stories by Uday Mane


The blurb says:

A King's negligence costs the Prince his eyes. How will the King make amends?
 A farmer is torn between resurrecting his wife and upholding his duties. What will infuence his choice? 
A jester lives two lives - Masked for others. Unmasked for himself. His masked side brings happiness to everyone. But what brings happiness to his unmasked side? 
A magnificent tree bears fruits of different kinds, but the King wants it to be cut down to serve justice. How will the tree defend itself? 
An orphan boy is in search of the world's bestselling book. Will he eventually find it? 
A dog struggles to uncurl his tail. Will he break the curse that curled his tail in the first place? 
A young boy and his pet lamb are separated from each other. Will their friendship stand the test of 
time? 

Set in the ancient times, Fables from India, is a collection of 22 profound and unheard stories from a country known for its storytelling.

I received this book from Leadstart Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Reading Fables from India by Uday Mane felt like I was reading some folk tales – simple, short, easy to understand and with a moral message. To give you an idea – the stories in this book are like those in Panchatantra.

Do you know what exactly are fables?

Wikipedia says --

Fable is a literary genre: a succinct fictional story, in prose or verse, that features animals, legendary creatures, plants, inanimate objects, or forces of nature that are anthropomorphized (given human qualities, such as the ability to speak human language) and that illustrates or leads to a particular moral lesson (a "moral"), which may at the end be added explicitly as a pithy maxim.


This is the kind of book I would like to keep aside for my son to read when he grows up and takes to reading. Having said that, I must add that if you are into reading serious and complex short stories this book might not appeal to you. The stories are way too simple and straightforward for adding some depth to the characters or for adding some unexpected twists and turns to mundane plots. But, if you are like me - who read slow and ponder over what you have read, you may well revisit your moral science lessons and see how well you are applying them in your life now.

The book can do well if it is targeted to young readers between the ages of 8-12 years. Adults may read out these stories to their kids for some moral lessons.

There are 22 fables in the book are about kings, queens, common people, animals, life, death, and magic. Some of the ones I liked reading includes – "The Farmer and the Magic Objects" in which a husband seeks to resurrect his dead wife, "The Sacred Tree of Khamur" in which a tree speaks to appeal to a king to change his verdict, "A Night for the Demon" where a queen leaves her husband every fifteen days to spend a night in the jungle, "At Heaven’s Gate" where a child asks God why he took away his father from him. There were some more stories with profound messages and were a pleasure to read, but there were a couple of them which I couldn’t appreciate much - like The Jungle laws and Langu’s Calling.

One thing that didn’t work for me after reading this book was the title of the book. When I saw the title – Fables from India, I was really hoping for some profound stories from the land known for its story telling. But, I was a bit disappointed there. More than half of the stories didn’t seem to have any connection with India, or even ancient India as a matter of fact. Some seemed to be from Persia or Middle East, while some felt to be universal. So, I think the book could have been better named.

Overall, a light read that you can read or read out to your kid as bedtime stories.



Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Purple Delight | Black Grapes and Pomegranate Cooler | Summer Cool Drinks



Colours are an important spice of life.  Imagine your life without colours – boring right? I believe it is the same with our food – it should be colourful and pleasing to eyes. When I was thinking about all the cool drinks I was indulging in this summer, I realized they were all of different colours. My Kairi Panna is a soothing shade of green as I use a lot of mint in it; the Masala Chaas is as usual white, my Herbal Iced Tea was a bright shade between orange and brown. That’s when I thought of creating a different coloured drink to sip on.

I had lots of black grapes and pomegranate in my refrigerator and with these two star ingredients; I set on to make a drink. When I was done, I was pleased with the result at hand, so much so that I took it to a friend’s place for her to taste. She has become my unannounced official taster for most experiments in my kitchen. When she okay-ed it, I made it again the next day and while sipping on it, this name – Purple Delight came to my mind.

The other day when I met her and amidst our usual banter, I told her I have named the drink – Purple Delight and she was into a riot of laughter.... which reminds me of another spice of life - laughter. Laugh as often as you can and be with friends who can make you laugh out loud.

The pomegranate juice typically has a slight bitter note in the end which compliments beautifully with grapes juice which is sweeter. A dash of lemon juice adds a subtle tang to the overall flavour and the spices adds some earthiness. If you want to try something different from your regular lemonade, try it for sure.



Purple Delight

Serves 4
Ingredients:

1 cup black grapes
1/2 cup pomegranate pearls
2 tbsp sugar syrup (optional)
1/4 tsp black salt
1/4 tsp black pepper powder
1/4 tsp roasted jeera powder
Soda water to top up
Lots of Ice cubes
2 tbsp Chopped grapes and pomegranate pearls for garnishing

Process:
1. In a blender jar add the grapes and pomegranate pearls and churn till pulpy. Sieve the mixture to extract the juice.
2. Add the juice to a large jar; add sugar syrup, black salt, black pepper and jeera powder. Stir well. Add this to 4 medium glasses.

3. Add some ice cubes to each glass. Top up with soda water. Garnish with chopped grapes and pomegranate pearls. Serve chilled.


Notes:
1. The black grapes I used were quite sweet. If you are using grapes that are tart, adjust sugar syrup quantity accordingly.

2. It is best to consume it fresh and chilled.

Thank you for stopping by. Cheers!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Book Review - Half Pants Full Pants by Anand Suspi


“This is a book about childhood, best enjoyed after you have left it behind.”

What the renowned filmmaker RR Balki has to say about the book:

"After Malgudi Days, I could never imagine that somebody could create another childhood classic for adults to regain their innocence even for a few hours. Suspi’s tales would have made R K Narayan smile. Oh! That beautiful Kannadiga gene!"



'Half Pants Full Pants' by Anand Suspi is an endearing read. It is the author’s debut novel where he recounts his real-life childhood tales from Shimoga, a then sleepy town in the state of Karnataka.

This book was sent to me by paperboatdrinks (Hector Beverages) and was with me for over 2 months before I picked it up to read. Well, as the adage goes – better late than never; I am so glad to have read it. Reading it was such an amazing experience. As I turned pages after pages of this book, I often got transported to my own childhood days and to my own stories. A wave of nostalgia often hit me and I wished if I could relive my childhood again. It is perhaps our lives' biggest irony - when we are kids, all we want to be is grow up and when we do, we wish we could travel back in time and enjoy the pleasures of childhood again.

There are altogether 38 stories in the book – some from the half pant days and other from the full pant days of the author. And each one succeeds in evoking a sense of nostalgia in the readers. In some way of the other most of us – from the pre-internet and gadget-free childhood days, will be able to relate to these real-life childhood tales of the author in some ways or the other.

The first story in the book revolves around a popular idea that did the rounds in my school days too – when a coin in put on railway track and a train passes over it, it turns into magnet! Back then, I didn’t have any mean to check it. The author being the son of a railway employee had the opportunity to find out the truth of the idea first hand. But, instead of a magnet what he got was a 5 paisa badly shaped chapati!



The author has had a fair share of adventures in his childhood. Some of them are exclusive to him – how many of us can boast of driving a train? I guess none of us can boast of that. But, there are so many other anecdotes - on fighting mosquitoes to imagining self to be some sort of detective (most of us must have been thorough that phase after reading famous five books), to climbing trees, saving pocket money, to delving deep into philanthropy, to detesting gourds (same-pinch), and so on. One thing that is sure this book will do to you - it will make your revisit your childhood.

Thank you Anand Suspi for crafting a book of your childhood tales; and thank you paperboats for publishing it so that it could reach the readers.

Highly recommended. You can buy it on Amazon or Flipkart. It makes for a great gift to friends and family.

Thank you for stopping by! Cheers!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Chikoo Ice-cream | Sapota Ice-cream | How to Make Chikoo Ice-cream From Scratch

Chikoo Ice-cream

I have always been a fruit lover. My mom never had a chance to complain that I didn't had my share of fruits. The same cannot be said for veggies though - it was a different story altogether. Till date, I am very much a fruit person - in fact, there are very few fruits that I don't like much.

Few years back, when I had the fresh fruit flavoured ice-creams at Naturals, I was sold to the idea. Since then I am in love with all sorts of fresh fruit ice cream. So, here I am today with a fresh fruit ice-cream - made with chikoo fruit. Chikoo is quite a sweet fruit and is particularly great in ice creams. I had some ripe chikoo fruits and I couldn't think of another better way to use them. I went ahead and made this ice-cream and I am so happy with the results.

Here is would like to tell you that when I was a kid, I didn't get to eat chikoo much. You see, this fruit wasn't local to my hometown and in those days eating local and seasonal was the norm. I remember having it first time when we had gone to visit our grand parents.  I remember enjoying it - it was sweet, tender and succulent. Today, I relish a scoop of chikoo ice-cream as much. Now,  I have one more weapon in my arsenal to beat the Pune heat this summer. The recipe is a breezy one, with no fancy ingredients. You can double or triple the recipe if you want to make it in bulk. 

Here is how you can make it.

Ingredients:

3-4 medium sized ripe chikoo/sapota/sapodilla
400 ml full fat milk
250 ml fresh cream (25% fat) - I used Amul fresh cream
200 g or 1/2 tin condensed milk - I used Amul Mithai Mate



Process :
1. Boil the milk in a thick bottom pan on low to medium heat till it is reduces to half in volume. It will take about 20 minutes or so. Keep stirring it while it heats to avoid burning. When done, let it cool down to room temperature.

2. Peel the fruit and cut them into chunks. Remove the seeds.

3. In a large blender jar, add the chikoo chunks and blend till finely puréed. Add the reduced milk and blend it for a few seconds.

4. Add cream to the mixture and blend it for another 1 minute. Now add the condensed milk and blend again for a minute so that the mixture is uniform.

5. Tip the mixture thus prepared to a freezer safe container. Put on the lid and freeze for 2 hours.

6. When it looks half frozen, take it out again and blend it in the mixer one more time and then put it back to freeze.

7. It will take about 5-6 hours to set. Take it out 5 minutes before serving. Scoop into serving bowls and enjoy!

Notes:
  • These can be frozen in kulfi/ popsicle molds for chikoo kulfi.
  • Use chikoo that are perfect ripe and not overly ripe and mushy for best flavor.
  • Instead of chikoo you can use equal amount of custard apple/ sitaphal pulp to get sitaphal ice-cream.
Thank you for stopping by! Cheers!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Yellow Moong Dal Dhokla | How to Make Moong Dal Dhokla From Scratch |Gujarati Steamed Snack


Summer is the season to stay away from oily and greasy food. No 'pakoras' and 'wadas' for me - at least till the rain sets in. So, when I think of snacks these days - I think of all the healthy things I can indulge in and things like Khaman Dhokla, Khandvi or a bowl of hearty Chickpea Salad comes to my mind. 

So, one fine day when I was feeling inspired I decided to try making yellow moong dal dhokla instead of this regular khaman dhokla. I pretty much made it the same way and the results were good. These Dhoklas are packed with nutrition and tastes best when eaten fresh with dollops of green chutney and tamarind chutney. If you are making in bulk, you can reheat it in microwave with some sprinkling of water and they are as good as fresh.




Yellow Moong Dal Dhokla

Ingredients:

1 cup yellow moong dal, soaked overnight 
1 tbsp ginger- chili paste
1/4 tsp hing
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp ENO fruit salt
Oil for greasing the dhokla plates

For tempering

A sprig of curry leaves
2-3 chilies
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp sesame seeds
1/2 to 1 tsp red chili powder
2 tbsp oil
Handful of chopped coriander leaves




Process:

1. Drain the water from the soaked moong dal. Tip the soaked dal into a grinder jar and using about 1/4 cup water grind it to a smooth paste.

2. In a large mixing bowl, add the moong dal paste. Add rest of the ingredients except ENO. Mix it to form a batter. If it seems too thick add water little by little till you get a pouring consistency batter. 

3. Add water to dhokla steamer and put it on high heat. Grease the plates on which you will pour the batter.

4. When steam starts forming in the steamer, lower the heat to medium. Add ENO to the prepared batter and stir gently. Pour the batter into the greased plates and place them inside the steamer. Cover and steam for 15-20 mins.

5. When done, take off the lid and check for done-ness. Take the plates out. Set aside to cool while you prepare the tempering.

6. Heat the oil for tempering. When hot, add the mustard seeds, sesame seeds, green chilies and curry leaves. When it splutters add the red chili powder. Take it off gas and spread the tempering over the Dhokla.

7. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves. Serve with green chutney, tamarind and dates chutney or good old tomato ketchup.


Notes:

1. This recipe requires no fermentation. ENO is used for leavening, so put the batter to steam as soon as you add it.

2. Moong Dal need to be soaked over-night for best results. So, a bit of planning is needed if you want to make these.

3. I have used a dhokla steamer to make these. If you do not have it, then use a large kadhai or saucepan with lid to steam. You can use a can tin that fits into the saucepan to steam the batter in.

4. I used 2 around 6" inch plates for this quantity of batter. If you are adding all of it in one smaller plate/tin, you will have to steam it 10-15 mins more.


Thank you for stopping by! Cheers!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Herbal Ice Tea | How to Make Herbal Ice Tea from Scratch | Summer Cool Drinks





I have never been an ice tea person. I do order it some times at food joints, but it has never been one of my go-to cool drinks.

But, after trying this recipe I am a convert. I wouldn't mind saying that this herbal ice tea has become one of my latest favorite chilled drinks to beat the heat this summer. 

Long ago, I had tried a fruit punch recipe that used tea decoction and it turned to be a super flop. Since, then I was wary of trying any drink recipe with tea decoction in it. But, when I chanced upon a herbal ice tea recipe in one of the cookbooks I own ( did I tell you I am a hoarder of cookbooks?) I decided to give it a try.

The recipe involved making a herbal decoction first - a combination of lemongrass, ginger and mint. The recipe did interest me; but I had an even better reason to try it. Sometimes back I had planted lemongrass and mint in my terrace garden and I was delighted at the idea of using my garden produce.



The best thing about this recipe is that you can prepare the herbal decoction in bulk and freeze them in ice trays and use them when needed. You can play around with the ratio of the herbs, depending on which herb flavor you want to be prominent.

Here is how you can prepare the herbal decoction:

1/2 cup ginger, washed, peeled and grated.
1/2 cup lemongrass leaves, washed and chopped
1/4 cup mint leaves
1" cinnamon stick

Process:

1. Add all the listed ingredients in a saucepan and add 500 ml water. Bring it to a boil and then simmer it on medium heat for 15 to 20 mins.

2. Turn off the heat and cover the saucepan. Let it cool completely before straining. Strain and set aside the herb extract.

3. You can add another cup of water to the residue and simmer it for 15 mins. The decoction prepared the second time will be milder in flavor. You can combine both the extracts thus prepared or you can store them separately. If you do not need to use the entire decoction in one go, freeze them in ice cube tray. When frozen fill them in a zip-lock bag.




Herbal Ice Tea

Makes 2 tall glasses

Ingredients:

2 teabags 
100 ml boiling water
10-12 herbal ice cubes or about 60 ml of the herbal extract
3 tbsp simple syrup ( sugar syrup prepared by mixing and boiling equal quantity of sugar and water till the sugar is dissolved)
300 ml chilled water
Ice cubes, mint leaves and lemon slices to garnish (optional)

Process:

1. Add the tea bags in boiling water and let it steep for 10 mins. Take the tea bags out and set aside the tea decoction.
2. If you are using herbal ice cubes, add them to the warm tea decoction so that they melt faster. Else add the herbal concoction equally into two glasses. Pour prepared tea decoction. Add simple sugar syrup and top with chilled water. 
3. Add ice cubes, mint leaves and lemon slices as desired. Stir and serve chilled. 





Notes:

1. Add a squirt of lemon juice for Herbal Lemon Ice Tea.
2. You can add the herbal ice cubes to your regular lemonades for added flavor.

Thank you for stopping by. Cheers!

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