Monday, December 23, 2013

Orange Nankhatai - Indian Shortbread Cookie


This year has been one fine year. From the arrival of my little sunshine, having family and friends visiting all year round and getting to work on photography and food assignments - I feel totally blessed. To make sure I make most of the family time, the blogging has taken a small step back but I'm so excited about the coming year and what it holds.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Pumpkin Orange Halwa and Latest work for Ecru

Pumpkin was never a major part of my life growing up and not something we made at home often. Weekend eat outs would sometimes have pumpkin desserts which we devoured but never requested Ammi to make. Then, there were community dinners that sometimes featured pumpkin halwa, which I liked but still preferred Ammi's bottle gourd halwa, carrot, apple and pineapple halwa hands down.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Two Chef and A Waitress - Nuqat 2013

Last week, I was lucky enough to be tiny part of a dinner hosted by Chef Mariam Al Nusif and Chef Dana al Tourah at Bayt Lothan for the organisers and speakers of Nuqat 2013, a local platform that brings forward creatives from all over the world.

The supper was themed around pooling together local produce and talents. All the greens and dairy was sourced locally from Sharq Organic Farm and some from Mariam's own farm.


Monday, November 11, 2013

Ras Malai - Sweet Milk Dessert with Dumplings

He didn't look nervous. There was a certain untouchable calm on his face that didn't match my own trembling self. My mom invited them inside the house, had them seated,  he and his mom. I peeked though the little opening in the kitchen outwards to the hall. I wondered why his calmness should surprise me. Hasn't he always been that way - calm, composed and confident.

Momentarily my eyes drifted from his face to the freshly fried samosa, that were being picked out of the kadai (wok) by my sister, arranged religiously onto the platter, neatly aligned, triangular crisp garam masala scented pastry. Should I eat one? I contemplated and decided against it. The flaky pastry might get stuck in my teeth I feared. My younger sister, went looking in the pantry for vintage tea saucers, that only came out for special guests. Oddly, the golden rim and dainty floral design with blushing rose pink roses matched my own dress.


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sweet and Sour Pumpkin - Khatta Meetha Kaddu

This last year when I got to spend a whole lot of time with Ammi (mom), I was reintroduced to pumpkin, a vegetable I loathed in savory preparations as a child and never quite embraced into adulthood. Infact, I was amazed at the voracity with which my siblings looked forward to the lunches that involved pumpkin.


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Amaranth Pea Fritters (Amaranth Vada)

We rushed through the narrow passage hunting down our seats in an attempt to get the window seat. It was for the first time we three sisters were travelling alone and we debated for a while who's going to be the odd one who had to sit with someone else. Being the eldest, I sat my younger sisters together and took to my separate seat anxiously waiting for who would come next to mine.

A huge lady walked to the seat and before she settled, I wondered if she would fit into the cramped economy class seats with barely any leg room. Would she be able to get up if I had an emergency nature's call? What if she snored? The feeble mind of a 13 year old.


Sunday, September 29, 2013

Rai waale Aloo - Curry Leaves, Mustard Seeds Tempered Potatoes

Despite of what it may look like from my Instagram feed, I have been skipping lunch way often lately. Been pampered with always having someone to share meals with lunching on my own is something I still haven't got used to.  I reason being carried away with work and being busy, but at the core of it,  
I just can't bring myself to cook for one. To break something that's almost becoming a habit, I challenged myself to cook and blog about meal for one.  And hoped there are people out there who are like me.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Beetroot Orange and Mint Juice

My aunt makes beetroot juice all the time, serves it at room temperature in a bowl more like beetroot water with thin slices of beetroot swimming in it that are supposed to be picked up with a fork while you drink the water with a spoon. She calls it a salad and throws in sliced cucumber as well. 

I have often debated with her why it isn't really a salad but also failed to come up with an alternative name for it. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Labneh Fig and Thyme Tart with Pistachio Almond Crust

Recently, I bumped into an old friend. We smiled at each other, looked into each other's eye for more than normal and we moved on.

Our friendship had ended abruptly. We both got to a point where we knew we had to go our own ways before things got bitter but despite of it, we dragged along for a long time until one day. One day I didn't take her call. When friendship or for that matter any relationship doesn't create any positive energy, I move away. Without much words, because words always fail me in times of extremity.


Saturday, September 7, 2013

Steamed Masala Whole Chicken (Murgh Musallam) and Rice with Peas

The giveaway for The Green Kitchen cookbook is still open! Don't miss a chance to win a signed copy here

I often felt that when he wasn't in his dishdashahis ways where much more casual, his questions more unassuming and random. Perhaps that's why when my ex boss asked me what my favorite last meal would be, I wasn't surprised. Or it was because he had recently learned about me being a food blogger, I'm not sure.

Without the usual 'what would be the best answer to this' approach - I unhesitatingly answered roasted chicken. I knew immediately I have disappointed him with the answer. It wasn't  a fancy lobster dish like his, it wasn't even a unique Indian recipe, it was just roasted chicken. 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Iced Hazelnut Masala Chai Latte and a Giveaway

This giveaway is now closed! The winner is Zainu. The winner will be contacted shortly and will have to respond with an address within 48 hours, if not another winner will be chosen. Thank you all for participating.

We left home rather prepared. It was July after all and the Indian monsoon showers could knock any time now. With a translucent crumbled rain coat and a few neon red bags of potato chips, a custom my sister has accustomed us all to follow while riding a bike with her, we headed to the explore the country side.

Half way through our journey it came. An outburst of seemingly heavy rain hushed away as soon as it appeared but left us all dripping. Ek kadak garma garam chai (a strong hot tea) is what we wanted as we shivered on the bike, the wind chilling us to the bones. Luckily, a tea stall is never a few minutes away in India. Some crispy pakoras (deep fried vegetable fritters) tucked in a greasy newspaper in one hand and hot tea in another, we aahed in delight.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Gulab Jamun With Rose Ice cream

She brings together the dough explaining as she goes how a delicate dough like gulab jamun's doesn't require much of kneading. I shake my head, staring out of the window, watching the raindrops slowly slide from the roof. Having heard of 'how to make perfect gulab jamun' lesson before I had given up on ever mastering them.

'I'm not going to bother making them Ammi (mom)I can do with store bought I'm sure' I said. She nodes her head in disagreement, why on earth would anyone want to buy gulab jamun instead of making them. For her, it's a recipe she knows my heart, a thing to be made on whim, the reliable fall back dessert she has mastered over 20 years.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Rose and Rooh Afza Ice Cream


The blue paint is chipping off some of the benches, while others are glossily newly painted over the old paint in attempt to hide the distress the wood has seen in last 15 years. The walls are covered entirely by advertisements, the same ones I saw as a child. Adverts of ice creams and drinks they no longer serve or even manufactured still proudly hanging in all its glory despite the wear and tear. A particular poster with a girl next door model, in her gypsy top and rugged jeans advertising cola heightens the 90's appeal of this tiny cafe in my hometown in Rajasthan, India. 

While sitting there waiting for our orders, it was as if time has stood still, I was still the adamant 10 year old, insisting with Papa on getting one more ice cream and the owner would hand me another kulfi without Papa's consent. 'Le lene do - saal main ek baar hi toh aati hai India'  - Let her have it, she only comes to India once a year, he would tell Papa.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Rhubarb and Cardamom Cake

The morning rays stream in abundance through her kitchen window where she and her humble three burner stove stands. Her henna colored white hair glitters like gold, the untamed golden sun makes her lines and wrinkles even more visible. She leans forward for her almond shaped marble mortar and pestle, never placed an inch further from its designated place.

She pulls her spice drawer and picks out the glass jar, labelled 'elaichi' in indecipherable Hindi writing, not that she ever reads or requires labeling.  But most treasured spices always got a glass jar and a label. The rest, found their fortune in plastic containers.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Spicy Roasted Chickpeas, Kale and Mango Salad

Recently, I asked my sister if she knew about Kale, she instantly replied with "The New Godleaf". Well, I couldn't deny that, everybody seems to be eating Kale and surprisingly the trend has also caught up in India where people are cultivating it at  home gardens. Indians take very well to bitter leaves and vegetables, so Kale is sure to please.

Of many things I love about Kale, one is it's such a sturdy leaf. Unlike spinach, it doesn't wilt into a messy ugly green. Infact when flash cooked, it's shiner and glossier than raw.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Chicken Tikka with Cherry Tomatoes, Onion and Arugula Salad

What a roller coaster ride last year has been. From giving up corporate job, being a new mommy, a few medical hiccups, seeing my little sister get married and a lot of travel thrown in, I have barely had a chance to catch a breath. Inevitably, the blogging has suffered. But now that I'm back and finding a new regular routine, I feel more inspired than ever. 


Monday, June 17, 2013

On The Streets - Udaipur

The other day when the clouds were strikingly gray and the sun disappeared behind them, we hit the streets assuming it's going to rain. I have been meaning to photograph the essence of monsoons in India and the early rains this year were quite promising. But, as nature had it, it didn't rain. The pleasant weather however had the streets bustling with people (and animals) eager to enjoy the street food with family and friends.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Paper Thin Whole Wheat Wraps

The daily produce is laid in front of us on the ground on a wide Indian motif printed, bright and summery red square cloth. We sit on it, with our legs folded, crossed under. Perhaps a posture only Indians can relate to as relaxed.  We teasingly argue about who gets which task to perform. The herbs have to be washed and dried, the cluster beans deveined, the stem plucked of the green chilies and the most sought after task - peel and cube the mangoes, so that one would enjoy sucking the last remaining flesh off the seeds after it's all done. It's messy, but none of the vivid mustard color flesh can go to waste, the king of fruits deserves that respect. 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Watermelon Rose Squash

Is it summer yet? It is here in Udaipur or at least the sight of watermelon is a good sign. Watermelon evokes sweet childhood memories of sitting around a round cutting board, mom meticulously and flawlessly slicing the melon while we sat waiting for our slices and contemplating whether the melon was sweet enough or will require a sprinkle of black salt. 

While sharing meals together is important, fruits like watermelon gives an equal opportunity to bring family together. That is one reason, one tradition so dear to my heart, I'm often reluctant to do much with watermelon.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Lemon, Carrot and Dates Pickle

The sun has started playing peekaboo as the winter bids its final goodbyes. The grey and gloomy clouds are giving way to bright cherry sun only to return with cold breezy winds by evenings. That's also how my life has been in the last year. Like a sweet and sour pickle.

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