Monthly Archives: February 2013

Salad, Jaipur Ishtyle!

Standard

When I’m not cooking, eating, gossiping, reading or weeping through back to back reruns of Grey’s Anatomy… I teach drama.

And one of my favourite assignments is with a school in Jaipur (The Pink City), Rajasthan

I’ve been going there for about 6 years now. What started off as an annual 10 day trip, has now (over the last 2 years) become a week a month thing. And I’m not complaining… unless it’s winter (like now) & I’m freezing my butt off (I really am!)

The kids are great… enthusiastic & bright. And we’ve done lots of fun & interesting theatre work together. Right from Improv & Mime to Storytelling Sessions with Puppets & last year, I worked with about 300 3rd & 4th graders on a big school production of Indian short stories…. Good times!

The people here are warm & vibrant….. color everywhere…

     Pic 2

I don’t shop much when I’m home in Bombay (well ok, not that much), but I have a weakness for silver, & I get my fix here, along with block-print & tie-dyed cotton fabric, & of course… footwear 🙂

     Pic5jpg     

Pic6

Being in Jaipur is like being on a working holiday. I’m free after 2:30pm, so after lunch & a nap (yes it is absolutely essential to my existence in Jaipur, as I work with nearly 120-150 children a day. I deserve it!!), I take off & absorb the Pink City, take in the sights, the smells & yes, the food!

This time round, however, the cold weather & a bad cough kept me hostel bound my first few days. But Thursday evening it got warmer, so I went for a walk around the old part of the City to buy a stole for my parents’ French friend & catch up with my young cousin Parth. Of course my camera went with me 🙂

         

Winter is on it’s way out, so you there aren’t as many of these thelas  or stalls as you would find November to January. Gajak, Chikki & Rewdi are like brittle, made with Sesame or Peanuts & Jaggery. When I was here in December, almost every corner had Gajak stalls & the rich aroma of gooey Jaggery made you feel all warm & comfy inside.

Peanut Chikki & freshly roasted Groundnuts are found pretty much the year round in Bombay. But here, apparently it is a winter thing.

Dal (Lentil) Kachoris & Pyaaz (Onion) Kachoris are a Jaipur street speciality. These are slightly flattened balls of flour, stuffed with a lentil or an onion & potato filling & deep fried in pure ghee (clarified butter), served with sweet date & tamarind chutney & a spicy coriander & green chillies chutney…. Yum-my!

Pic10

  

 

Our walk through the streets of the Bapu Bazaar, Nehru Bazaar & Johri Bazaar, ended with Raj Kachori at Laksmi Mishtan Bhandaar (LMB) one of Jaipur’s oldest establishments where you get all sorts of chaat / street food in a restaurant as well as Rajasthani thalis (meals), mithai (sweets) & namkeen (savoury snacks).

      

Rajasthani food is packed with spices, but very rich . I’m trying to eat right (yeah right!) I want to  make something that’s healthy using elements of Jaipur street flavour. I don’t have a kitchen to make this here, so if you do try this out, let me know how it turns out 🙂

So here’s a Salad… Jaipur Ishtyle!

Ingredients

  • ½ cup Bean Sprouts (raw)
  • ½ cup Chickpeas (boiled)
  • 1 small boiled Potato (chopped)
  • 1 Spring Onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 small Cucumber (finely chopped)
  • 1 Tomato (finely chopped)

Dressing

  • ½ cup (or more if you feel) Thick Yogurt (beaten well)
  • Ground Rock Salt (to taste)
  • ¼ teaspoon Amchoor (Dried Mango Powder)
  • 1 tea spoon each of Jeera & Saunf (Cumin& Fennel Seeds, dry roasted & coarsely ground)

To Finish

  • Tamarind Chutney
  • Green Chillies Chutney
  • Coriander
  • Aloo Bhujia (deep fried potato vermicelli)
  • Roasted Peanuts
  • Pomegranate Seeds

Method

  1. Whisk the ingredients of the dressing together. Adjust the seasoning.
  2. Pour a generous amount of dressing over the salad, almost covering the vegetables.
  3. Drizzle the chutneys over the dressing & garnish with coriander, aloo bhujia, peanuts & pomegranate seeds.

Enjoy! And tell me how it was 🙂

Advertisements

Prawns with Orange-Mint Sauce

Standard

I grew up in a vegetarian household. Like many Hindus from Gujarat, my parents do not eat meat, poultry or fish. But unlike most, they never forced their views on the subject on my sister and me. The only thing my mother is extremely strict about is “No bringing anything home that is ‘non’-vegetarian!” Eggs are allowed.

So growing up, we could eat what we wanted. It started with a chicken sandwich at a birthday party, and then went on to sharing “dabbas”/“tiffins” or lunch boxes at school, and being invited home for prawn curry rice & stuffed bangda fish (by friends from the Konkan coast) or butter chicken & tikkas (by friends from Punjab, in the North) or Mutton Dhansaak (by Parsi friends). And of course special restaurant dinners or lunches my parents took us to… Italian, Chinese, Thai, Mexican… Like I said before, I come from a family of foodies (only they are vegetarian)!

My sister subsequently decided to turn vegetarian. I struggled & tried doing that for 2 months when I was 16… Then gave up!

Now while I’ve been eating meat, poultry & fish for over 30 years (please don’t try & figure out how old I am!), I only started cooking “non-veg” 8 years ago… when I got married. Because you see, the husband is from the state of Maharashtra… and they are allowed to eat & bring home anything!

Chicken was the first thing that I learnt to cook (on a tour of a play around the U.K. post my wedding…. but that is another story all together). Sea food, which is a staple with my in-laws, seemed complicated to me.

One day, I decided to rise to the challenge & cooked (for the husband, specially!) Prawns in a Spicy Peanut & Coconut Curry with (wait for it) Ripe Jackfruit!!! Oh how he hated it! I still think it was an experiment that worked (for me)… Spicy, Salty, Tangy & Sweet… What do you think?

So after that I got a bit conservative (but only for a bit ;-)) and avoided using jackfruit (ripe or otherwise!) in anything!

Anyway, here’s a Prawn dish that my “navra” (“husband” in Marathi) actually approved of, which also, by the way, can be made with “Whatever’s in the Fridge”!

Oh & do check out how to “Jazz up the Leftovers” at the end of the recipe!

Ingredients

200 gm Prawns

Marinade:

  • 2 tablespoons Ginger-Garlic Paste
  • 1 teaspoon Honey
  • 2 teaspoon Tomato Paste
  • ½ teaspoon Pepper
  • Garlic Salt (to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon Red Chilli Powder (less or more as per your taste)

Image

Note: I would suggest spicing up the prawns with more chillies to offset the sweetness of the sauce.

Sauce:

  • 1cup Orange Juice (I used Tropicana)
  • Zest of 1 Orange (didn’t have any so used 2 lemons)
  • 2-3 Star Anise
  • 3-4 cloves Garlic (minced)
  • 1 inch piece Ginger (finely grated)
  • 1 stalk Celery (finely chopped)
  • ½ cup Mint (finely chopped)
  • 2 tablespoon Sugar (less or more depending on taste)
  • 2 tablespoon Cornflour
  • Butter & Olive Oil

ImageImage

Method:

  1. Mix all the ingredients for the marinade very well.
  2. Coat the Prawns evenly with the marinade mixture, cover & keep it in the fridge while you prepare the sauce.
  3. Heat some butter in a pan & add the star anise.
  4. Once you can smell the spice a bit, add the garlic & ginger & sautee for a few minutes.
  5. Add the zest & celery & cook until soft.
  6. Whisk the sugar, cornflour & orange juice & pour into the pan. Stir well & let it simmer till the sauce thickens.
  7. Take the sauce off the flame & strain it & keep aside.
  8. Heat some more butter in the pan, add a dash of olive oil & toss in the prawns. Stir fry for about 5-6 minutes (depending on the size of the prawns) till they are pink & just about cooked.
  9. Put the sauce back on the flame, add the mint & give it one good boil.

(Option 1 Appetizer) Serve the Prawns with the Orange – Mint Dipping Sauce

(Option 2 Main)  Add the Prawns into the sauce & simmer for 2-3 minutes. Serve hot with noodles or ginger-garlic fried rice.

Image

This recipe serves 2-4 people.

Jazz Up the Leftovers:

A Quick Prawn Thai Style Salad

Grate a carrot, a cucumber & a white radish. Add slivers of bell peppers. Toss in the prawns coated with some of the orange-mint sauce. Whisk together a little honey, some soy/fish/oyster sauce, tamarind water/paste & red chilli paste. Add a splash of this dressing to the prawns & veggies, toss in some crushed, roasted peanuts & you’re good to go! It makes for a healthy, light meal.

Rustic Chicken Meatballs

Standard

I spent the better part of the last week staying over in at my parents’ as my husband was away on a work trip to Goa without me 😦 Goa is on the West Coast of India, by the way… Beautiful beaches, the river, palm trees, churches, temples, the seafood (mmhmmnmm!!)

You get the picture!

Anyway, on the flip side I got to relive my single days again 😀 Gossip sessions with old friends over lunch, Maggi Cup Noodles, hot chocolate & drinks, a dinner date with my dad, marathon daytime soap sessions with my mom!

And the highlight… an awesome day-long bread-making workshop with Reshmy Kurian of Bombay Chow-party.

Image

A group of 7 of us learnt how to bake Pain Ordinaire, Irish Soda Bread & Monkey Bread. Reshmy organized a large spread of accompaniments, including cheeses, cold cuts, and preserves, to go with our bread. So we baked, ate, drank wine & got to know some very interesting people!

Well the husband returned (& I secretly missed him…) So I’m back home & it felt good to be back, so what better way to show it by cooking for everyone!

Once again, no groceries done, so had to go with “Whatever’s in the Fridge”. I found chicken meatballs, a couple of chicken sausages, some cheese, frozen home-made focaccia, spaghetti, loads of  eggs, tomatoes, coriander, onions, garlic, carrots, bell peppers, apart from the usual spices you find in an Indian kitchen.

So I made Rustic Chicken Meatballs to go with Spaghetti & a loaf of home-made Garlic & Cheese Bread (Yes… I almost always have the essentials for bread stocked up!)

Why “Rustic”? Well, I went with the rough & ready way of chopping & prepping & then went ahead & used very Indian flavours!! The end result… A winner with the family, paired with a glass of Red Wine!

Ingredients

For the Meatballs

Image

  • 350 gm Chicken Meatballs (ready-made)
  • 1 cup Bread Crumbs (I used my left-over focaccia)
  • 4 tablespoons Cheese
  • 1 Egg (beaten)
  • 3 tablespoons Coriander
  • Salt, Pepper, Ginger-Garlic Paste (to taste)

 

For the Sauce

  • 2-3 Chicken Meatballs (chopped finely)
  • 1 Cheese ‘n’ Onion Chicken Sausage (chopped finely)
  • 2 Onions (chopped)
  • 1 small Carrot (diced)
  • 1 Bell Pepper (diced)
  • 5-6 Cloves of Garlic (minced)
  • 3 Roasted Tomatoes (Recipe courtesy Reshmy Kurian of Bombay Chow-party.) 
  • 5 Tomatoes (pureed)
  • ½ cup Coriander & Mint leaves (chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon each Jeera (Cumin Seeds) Ajwain (Caraway/Carom Seeds) & Saunf (Fennel Seeds /Aniseed)
  • A pinch of Turmeric
  • Salt & Red Chilli Powder to taste
  • Olive Oil

Method

Meatballs

  1. Add salt, pepper & ginger garlic paste to the egg & beat well.
  2. Mix cheese, bread crumbs & coriander in a flat plate.
  3. Dip each meatball in the egg mixture & roll it around in the bread crumb mixture.
  4. Set the crumb coated meatballs in a baking tray & bake for about 35-40 minutes at 180 C.

WP_001225

WP_001228

Sauce

  1. Heat oil in a wok & toss in the jeera, ajwain & saunf.
  2. When the spices start to crackle, add in the onions & garlic. Cook until they are soft & pink.
  3. Stir in the chopped sausage & meatballs & cook for about 5 minutes on a high flame.
  4. Lower the flame & add in the carrots & bell peppers
  5. Roughly dice the roasted tomatoes & toss into the wok.
  6. Add the pureed tomatoes & season with salt, pepper, turmeric & red chilli powder.
  7. Add 3/4 of the coriander & mint & let the sauce simmer for about 10 minutes.
  8. Gently stir in the meatballs & allow them to cook in the sauce & absorb the flavours for 15 minutes.
  9. Garnish with the rest of the coriander & mint & serve hot with Spaghetti & fresh bread.

WP_001236 WP_001237 WP_001241

This recipe serves 4-6 people

Banana & Strawberry Muffins

Standard

Strawberries Galore!

The guy at the Hanging Garden signal charmed me into buying 4 boxes of strawberries at Rs.100. Of course the “Gujju strawberry lover” that I am, I couldn’t resist the bargain! So here I am with nearly 600 grams of the luscious red fruit and loads of ideas, like this one or this!

Image

I finally zeroed in on Banana & Strawberry Muffins.

photo (8)

The combination of these 2 flavours is one of my favourites! The sweetness of bananas with the slight tartness of strawberries… very fresh!

photo (10)

I decided to go in for an egg-less version because I wanted to bake for a group of 7 lovely ladies I call the Real Housewives of Walkeshwar 😉 I am directing a play with them right now. I love their energy & enthusiasm. After juggling their schedules with home, kids, husbands, work & social commitments, they still manage to make time to rehearse with me on a little production they are going to perform at a fundraiser at their children’s school. And these talented women have been feeding me delish & exciting food every single rehearsal! So these muffins are for them. Most of them follow the Jain religion & are vegetarian, hence the egg-less version. I found this recipe on Eggless Cooking.

Ingredients

Wet Ingredients

photo (11)

  • 1/2 cup  / 120 gm Butter 
  • 1/2 cup Yogurt (beaten well)
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 2 large Bananas (mashed)
  • 1 cup / 150 gm Strawberries (chopped)

Dry Ingredients

photo (12)

  • 2 &1/4 cups / 250 gm All Purpose Flour (Maida)
  • 1 cup / 200 gm Brown Sugar 
  • 1 &1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt 

Note:

I used Nutralite (a table margarine  instead of butter as some very staunch Jains don’t eat butter either & I didn’t want to take a chance.

The batter was too stiff so I added 2 extra tablespoons of Yogurt & 2 tablespoons of milk to loosen it up.

I powdered the sugar so that it would mix easily

I used 1/4 teaspoon salt as I didn’t have unsalted butter.

My Secret Ingredient!

photo (14)a

  • 80 gm White Chocolate (chopped)
Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F/180C for 15 minutes. Line a muffin tin with paper liners and spray it lightly with non stick cooking spray.
  2. Melt the butter and set it aside until it cools down to room temperature.
  3. Beat the yogurt well with vanilla extract & mix it in with the mashed bananas
  4. Add the butter to the above mixture when it is completely cool.
  5. Sift together the flour, cinnamon, salt, baking soda & baking powder. Add the sugar & whisk the dry ingredients.
  6. Toss in the berries to the above. Make sure that all the berry pieces are coated with the flour mixture so that the fruit does not sink to the bottom of the muffins.
  7. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
  8. Stir in the white chocolate chips.
  9. Do not overwork the batter or else the muffins would become dense.
  10. Fill each muffin cup with the batter using an ice cream scoop.
  11. Bake it for about 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean.
  12. Remove the pan from the oven and place it on a wire rack for the muffins to cool before you could remove it from the pan.
photo (9)
(This recipe makes 16 mid-sized muffins)

Welcome to my Kitchen!

Standard
Why The Odd Hour Kitchen?
Well that was my life until recently… A long series of odd hours, unstructured days, no particular pattern or routine… The restless Gemini that I am, I love this lifestyle!
However a whirlwind life in the theatre, among other things affected our (the husband & mine) eating habits. We’d be back from a late, late rehearsal & Diggie (the aforementioned husband), would sheepishly ask, “There’s nothing to eat no?”
Then depending on my mood… And the love I felt for him right then… He’d be munching on banana chips or an exotic salami and cheese Spanish style omelette at 2 am.
Oh yes, and with no time for grocery shopping… I’d have to get creative with whatever’s available in the kitchen.
What’s Cooking in my Kitchen?
Oh that would totally depend on my mood, the weather, who’s coming to dinner, the song, movie or book I just heard, watched or read… And of course… what I am craving!
That aside a lot of what I cook depends on what’s available at home or at the local grocer. I do make an effort to stock up on baking essentials, and chocolate… ‘coz you never know…
Like I made this Whole-Wheat & Oatmeal Bread with Figs, Honey & Walnuts the weekend Bal Thackeray passed away…We didn’t have milk, eggs or anything substantial…and of course the shops were all shut… but I had all the right ingredients for this yummy & healthy bread!

Image

 This is my Jowar & Bajra Loaf with Cinnamon-Star Anise Butter & Herb Butter. I made it as part of an assignment in my Baking Class where we had to come up with our own Gluten Free Bread.
Image
Coriander Pesto Rolls that I made for the MasterChef India try-outs! Yes I did audition. No I didn’t make it! But was fun trying anyway!
Image
So that’s a sneak peek into the kind of stuff you will find here! Will post recipes very soon!