Category Archives: Appetizer

Kaanda Bhajjias & the Pouring Rain


The Monsoon has hit the City & the view from my parents’ bedroom is this…

Or a variation of this… Sometimes Darker, Stormier, Rainier & Prettier!


It’s my favourite time of the year! The incessant rain, thunder, the cool breeze or insane winds, the strange sepia-grey light in the morning, … flooded streets, cancelled meetings, rain holidays, stalled trains, traffic jams not withstanding!

These are the days you want to ditch your umbrella (it wouldn’t stand a chance anyway with the crazy wind!), get into your flipflops, splash into puddles on the promenade by Marine Drive, bite into hot, spicy corn-on-the-cob, roasting slowly & deliciously on charcoal while you get drenched to the bones! Sigh… been a while since I’ve done that!

Right now though,  I’m glad I’m under house arrest & enjoying the rains from the indoors. It has a bit of romance of it’s own… hot cups of coffee or chocolate, music to go with the mood, a good book, a blanket to cuddle into & a Bombay rain staple… Bhajjias! 

Bhajjias or Pakoras as they are called up North, are little deep fried crispy pieces of goodness that are perfect with a hot cup of tea in the gorgeous rainy weather! You have Batata / Aloo (Potato), Mirchi (large green chillies), Daal (Lentil), Paneer (Cottage Cheese) & even Bread Pakoras!

But our family favourite… actually the Bombay street favourite… are Kaanda Bhajjias… light, crisp batter-fried Onion Fritters!

With everyone at home on a rainy, rainy Saturday evening, & a rained out India vs Pakistan Cricket Match on TV the weather & mood were perfect for these. And guess what… I could make these as my ban from the kitchen has been lifted!


  • 8 large Onions (finely sliced)
  • 4 Green Chillies (finely chopped)
  • 2 inch piece of Ginger (grated)
  • 2 teaspoons Jeera / Cumin Seeds
  • 1 teaspoon Haldi / Turmeric Powder
  • 1-2 teaspoons Red Chilli Powder
  • Coriander Leaves (finely chopped)
  • 5-6 tablespoons Besan / Chickpea Flour
  • Salt

Note: You could increase / decrease the quantity of Green & Red Chillies depending on how spicy you’d like the Bhajjias to be. These were moderately hot.



  1. Mix together the onion slices, green chillies, ginger, cumin, turmeric, coriander leaves & red chilli powder in a large bowl.
  2. Sprinkle enough Besan / Chickpea Flour to coat the onion slices. Make sure that there is enough to coat & hold the onions together without making it thick & batter-y.
  3. Season with salt & mix well.
  4. Take handful of the onion mixture, squeeze together to make sure it holds its shape & drop into a deep wok of hot oil.
  5. Fry till a deep gold brown & serve hot with Mint Chutney or Spicy Tomato Sauce.

Note: It is very important to season with salt at the very end, just before frying, that way the onions do not lose water into the batter. It’s necessary to keep any moisture away from the batter so that the Bhajjias get all crispy & crunchy 🙂

This recipe serves 4



I’ve been a teacher for about 13 years. But nothing thrills me more than being on the other side! Okay, maybe not while I was at school… or maybe the last year or 2 at college! I’m talking about now. I enjoy being a student! The idea of entering a space with the specific aim to learn something new, or to do something you’ve done before in a different way… so exciting!

After I graduated, whenever I got a chance I would enroll in short courses or workshops – Comparative Mythology, Languages, Pottery, Dance, of course Theatre! But over the years I got caught up with work & home & generally life, that I didn’t really land up being a student “just because”!

Last year, call it a mid-life moment or an epiphany or whatever, I decided that it’s now or never! So I took time off, did not take on much work (it helps that I freelance!) & enrolled in a baking course. Those 6 weeks at baking class were something else! And I promised myself that I’m not going to lose out on any opportunity to learn… new techniques, new cuisines… whatever catches my fancy!

So I attended a workshop on South East Asian CookingBread Making  & yesterday I spent 2 hours learning more about making Quiches at The  Pantry, a French style cafe-bakery, courtesy Brown Paper Bag Mumbai.


I did a bit of reading up on Quiche and was pretty surprised to find out that the French dish has its origins in Germany. In fact the word “quiche” has its roots in the German “kuchen” (cake).

WP_001385A Quiche is a pastry crust with a filling of eggs and milk or cream which, when baked, become a custard. Quiche Lorraine is originally an open pie with a filling of custard with smoked bacon or ham and cheese, usually Gruyere.  The bottom crust was apparently made from bread dough originally, but that has since evolved into a short-crust or puff pastry crust.f6b2b111-4578-4245-8504-b01faa7ed5c9

It is a versatile dish, perfect for a light meal, part of a brunch, a miniature one would do well as an appetizer & you can play around with the ingredients. Spinach, Mushrooms, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Corn, Smoked Chicken… mmmm! The seasoning is fairly simple too, salt, pepper, a bit of nutmeg. So it is really important that one uses fresh & really good quality ingredients especially the cheese. The surprise ingredient for me in the Spinach Ricotta Quiche that we made was Sesame Seeds… I didn’t think that they would use that in French cooking!

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I’ve made shortcrust pastry before & quiches too. Usually one uses ice cold water & butter & you leave the pastry to rest for at least an hour so that it binds well… but yesterday since the cafe was converted into a teaching space & there was a time constraint, the ingredients were at room temperature & we could not leave the pastry to rest. And guess what? That worked too 🙂

And what was awesome too was that the recipe booklets that they gave out, had proportions for single, individual servings. So if one afternoon I get a sudden craving for a Quiche,  it would be pretty easy & quick for me to experiment a bit with the filling & rustle one up! And when I do, I will post recipe & better pictures 🙂


Prawns with Orange-Mint Sauce


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!


200 gm Prawns


  • 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)


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



  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.


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.