Strawberry tart with Lemon Curd

My entry for
Spice Cafe's JFI Lime-Lemon

Oh my! The lemon in my picture looks as big as a pear. I guess in general lemons, like most other produce in America are supersized. I usually use lemons to finish off dishes, to add that bright top note. So I was stumped coming up with something that would highlight just the Lemon / Lime taste. I had just made a lovely Lime vodka using verdant Lime peels dunked in vodka for about a week. No photos though.

Thats when I came accross this recipe for Lemon Curd from Epicurious. Lemon Curd is generally used to fill tarts, pastry shells, top Cakes and cookies. My curiousity piqued, I tried out the recipe for the JFI event by coffee. The Curd part refers to the consistency of the Lemon curd filling. You can find the recipe for the tart shell here.

I must confess I went with the strawberry more for the visual impact.I was not sure that the tart strawberries would pair well with the equally tart lemon. To my surprise when I wolfed down the tart after taking the photographs, the strawberry went with the lemon curd filling really well. I could really taste the fresh fruit.

Lemon curd is a simple recipe, you can always fill pre baked pie shells purchased from the market with as much lemon curd as you prefer, and top it off with the fresh fruit of the day. I have some Lemon curd left over from this and will attempt to make some lemon curd mousse ( recipe and photo to follow).


Marcha ane Rai na Kuria : RCI Gujarat

This is my last minute entry for Mythili's

Gujarat is dry desert region and this recipe really shows their love for chillies and pickles. In a Gujarati village, I saw fresh chilies picked in the morning from the Vadi, roasted over charcoals, skinned and served with a little salt to accompany the simple lunch of Bhakri Ane Shaak. Gujaratis have a whole repertoire of pickles that they pickle only with lemon and salt which include roots such as fresh turmeric root and mango turmeric( manga inji).

This recipe is a simple Gujarati fresh pickle recipe from my best friend's mom.


Green Chilies
Lemon Juice
Rai na Kuria (Mustard Flakes easily available at your local Indian grocery)

Slice the green chilies vertically. Remove all the seeds. Split the chilies into four. Place in a glass jar with tight lid. Add two table spoons of lemon juice for every half cup of green chilies.Add water until the chillies are submerged. Salt until fairly briny like sea water. Add about one table spoon of rai na kuria. Put the lid and set aside for 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator. Serve as a pickle with roti and shaak. After two or three days, the chilies will become brown and thats when you know they are ready. Enjoy


Mexican Series #1 Flour Tortilla

My first introduction to the tortilla was bad. In my innocence, I bought a packet from the nearby American supermarket ( "Wow the supermarket has rotis!"). Heat them up, close your eyes tight and imagine Home and mom and garam garam rotis and then eat - not half as bad. Let them go cold though, hoo boy, its like biting into rubber.

Hand made tortillas, corn or flour are really good. They are soft and melty and are the base for the best enchiladas,quesadillas, burritos and taquitos.Corn flour tortillas dominate most of Mexico while of Maida or Allpurpose flour tortillas are found in Northern Mexico.

Ill begin this series on Mexican food with flour tortillas one of the building blocks of mexican cuisine.

Ive run into a couple of recipes for Flour tortillas(eg. from 30 min Vegetarian Mexican) but they usually duplicate the rubberiness of the supermarket tortilla. Exactly the opposite of what you want to do.

Most books on mexican food I checked always referred back to Rick Bayless and his first book, Authentic Mexican. This recipe for flour tortillas comes from Authentic Mexican, and it makes killer tortillas.Soft and crumbly mmm mmmm....

A note on special equipment: If you already make rotis or parathas, No special equipment is required for Flour tortillas. Just use your rolling pin and some flour to dust the surface and you are good to go.

Wheat flour tortillas Recipe:
(Tortillas de Harina)


3/4 pound(2 3/4 cups) all purpose flour
5 tbsp lard or vegetable shortening
3/4 tsp salt
about 3/4 cup very warm tap water

1.The dough: Combine the flour and fat in a large mixing bowl, working in the fat with your figners, until completely incorporated. Dissolve the salt in the water, pour about three fourth of it over the dry ingredients and immediately work it in with a fork, the dough will e in large clumps rater than a homogenous mass. If all the dry ingredients havent been dampened, add the rest of the liquid(plus a little more if needed). Scoop the dough on your work surface and knead until smooth, it should be a medium stiff consistency - definitely not firm but not quite as soft as bread dough.

( Should be roughly like a roti dough consistency, a shade softer).

2. Resting: Divide the dough into 12 portions and roll each into a ball. Set them on a plate and cover with plastic wrap and let rest at least 30 minutes ( to make the dough less springy and easier to roll.

3. Rolling and putting it on the griddle / tava.
Roll out the tortilla like a normal roti.It is best if you use a heavy cast iron tava or else your usual roti tava should do in a pinch. The tava should be hot. After 30 to 40 seconds, when there are browned splotches underneath, flip it over. Bake 30 to 45 seconds more, until the other side is done. Donot overbake or the tortilla will become crisp.

Remove and wrap in a towel.

Cooks notes: For roti makers this is a very easy process. The results are far, far superior to supermarket products, so the time invested yields good results. You can make a stack of these and store them in the referigerator or the freezer. To store in the freezer, first take a baking sheet, and lay out the tortillas in a single layer. After about an hour you can stack them up on top of each other and then put them into a ziplock bag.


Book Reviews: Heat & Kitchen Confidential

HEAT by Bill Buford

As an ardent foodie, I spend a heck lot of time thinking and doing food. Cook it , take pretty pictures, write about it and finally eat it. Sometimes I wonder if I missed my calling as a maharaj, bawarchi, khansama or chef with my own paper hat painting my kadai canvass with mirchi , sriracha and jalapeno. But then I wonder what it would be like to be a professional cook, to cook all 365 days in a year. These two books are an attempt to gain some insight into this What if?

Chef Anthony Bourdain is familiar to many of us from his No reservations show on the Travel channel. Watch it on youtube below- Good for a few laughs at the least. His autobiographical book- Kitchen confidential published in 2000 is his and a professional cooks life described with no saucy detail left out.

Bill Buford on the other hand is one lucky son of a gun. A writer by profession , by his own admission, an amateur cook, knows enough celebrity chefs, AND gets to go work for them (the professionals) AND even publishes a book about the experience.

Both books complement each other, the professional and amateur providing fascinating insights into the inner workings of the restaurant business. I would definitely recommend reading them both.

Now Anthony Bourdain often resorts to shock jock posturing, casually flinging incendiary comments,- on vegetarians, "Vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter-faction, the vegans, are a persistent irritant to any chef worth a damn..." Emeril and many other people who attract his ire. Behind all this posturing though, is a story of an attempt to make a living by cooking. His intertwined drug addled personal epic distracts from the essential business of cooking which he does manage to describe in good detail. He points out, rightly i think, the importance of consistency over any sort of " artistic" delusions in professional cooking. The business itself is well covered from the birth pangs of restaurants, to menu planning and organizational skill required by chefs , to effective management tips.

To me as a woman, his descriptions of the professional cooking workplace sounds like a very sexist hell, male dominated and crude.

What i took from the book was the insight that the humble line cook is the star of the professional kitchen and an unthinking military style following is a very prized commodity in an underling but despised in a leader.

Bill Buford is more obsessed with actual food. The best pasta, the best meat and so on. He tries to learn how to make the best pasta by working at Babbo, Mario Batalis flagship restaurant in New York. I like Bill's book mostly for the gossipy stories of Mario Batali ( Ha he was a pot head too!) and Babbo. As for Bills quest for the best pasta, i found myself caring.... not so much. He is obsessive about details, going on and on about finding out when the egg made its entry into pasta dough. Maybe if this book was on indian food, i might have been interested. I am a cook and know that most of the time I just wing it. The first occurence of egg in pasta was most likely an accident, and in the nature of food, an un documented one.

In sum, both books are cool for their eye opening insider view of the restaurant business. Anybody willing to do it for indian restaurants?


Crema de Elote ( Corn Soup) & Jalapeno poppers

Soup recipe from
Rick Bayless: Authentic Mexican
Regional cooking from the heart of Mexico

Yield: About 1 quart, 4 servings
21/2 to 3 cups fresh or defrosted corn kernels
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
11/2 tbsp cornstarch
2 cups milk, plus a little more if needed
2 fresh chiles poblanos, roasted , peeled, seeded and finely diced
1 cup thick cream or whipping cream
About 1 tsp salt
1/2 cup crumbled mexican queso fresco or feta
2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley for garnish

1. Prepare corn kernels if using fresh else defrost frozen corn and place in Blender
2. Saute Onion in 2 tbsp buttter until translucent and minced garlic, cook until garlic is done.
3. Add the onions garlic and corn starch to Blender along with the corn. Puree finely. Donot add water
4. Heat two tbsp butter in pan and add the puree. Stir until the mixture is thickened, a couple of minutes.
5. Add the two cups of milk and simmer covered for fifteen minutes.
6.Strain the mixture, remove the fibres of the corn and return the resulting smooth and silky puree to the stove. Add the cream, poblanos, salt and simmer for another ten minutes. Adjust thickness to liking
7. Garnish with cheese, parsley and serve in warm soup bowls.

Cooks Notes: I totally forgot to add the cornstarch and did not miss it in the soup at all. American corn is very sweet and to those who donot like sweet soups, well -beware. I left in some seeds of the poblano for a slight kick and for added measure , seasoned the soup with both black and white pepper. Also added some roasted red pepper, finely diced. Also added some mexican oregano to soup before straining for added flavor.

Jalapeno Popper recipe
Cooks notes: The jalapenos had a beautiful crust, but the pepper stayed raw during the frying. Next time I will slightly steam the peppers before hand.

Onion Rings

Recipe from Michael Chiarello Foodnetwork


V Day bfast: Onion & Jalapeno Quiche

Recipe modified from Epicurious


Spinach Pesarattu without rice

My entry for Sugs Healthy Eats WBB

Healthy eating is always a challenge. A long list of No's- no fats, no oils, no carbohydrates and a shorter one of yes's- High in protein and fibre. Proteins are also kind of tricky, they almost never occur in pure form in nature, they are bound with carbohydrates. Fibre is easy as an idea - it basically bulks up your food and promotes a feeling of satiety or fullness. But it comes in two forms - soluble and insoluble. If look at the nutrition label on oats, youll see that it has both forms in a fairly high percentage. In practical terms, it means that the less cooked your vegetables are,the higher fibre content you get from them.

Pesarattu is, as far as I know, a traditional dosa or crepe like Andhra breakfast. I once had a MLA Pesarattu in a hyderabadi restaurant- a pesarattu stuffed with rava upma. Yumm!

Traditionally the recipe has an equal amount of rice and mung dal, spiced with green chillies, ginger and curry leaves. Rice makes the pesarattu crisp. In general i think indian food tends to be very carbohydrate heavy. So, I have done away with the rice altogether and made sprouts from the mung.

The Ingredients in my Pesarattu are

moon sprouts
green chillies medium sized
fresh ginger
Fresh spinach chiffonade , i.e long strips

Indian mung sprouts are not exactly the same as Chinese Mung sprouts. Chinese mung sprouts are much much longer, perhaps a lot healthier too. They look like this. Chinese Mung sprouts are a mere 30 calories per cup, whereas Indian mung sprouts are in the range of 180 calories per cup.

An easy way to make sprouts: Soak moong beans in water overnight. Drain the water completely and keep the sprouts in a casserole / insulated hot dish. This ensures good sprouts even in cold climes.

Without rice, making a crisp dosa is easy if attention is paid to some details in the recipe. Once the moong is sprouted, grind the sprouts with green chilli, ginger. Very important donot add salt until right before making the dosa. Salt causes water to separate from the batter. Salted batter separates making it difficult / impossible to make the dosa. Also make sure , to not add more than a tablespoon or two of water while grinding the batter.

This is the time to bring out your teflon coated pan. Make sure the pan is hot enough before making the pesarattu. A drop of water put on the pan should sizzle instantly.

Once you put the pesarattu batter on the pan, immediately sprinkle some shredded palak / spinach on the back. I like a lot of spinach actually - it give a nice buttery taste. This is one of those times where frozen spinach just wont do. Fresh spinach shines through in taste.

You can use pam oil spray instead of using oil straight away. I find i use less oil that way. The dosa crisps up nicely. Flip the dosa for just a second and remove to serving plate. Serve immediately.

Any type of chutney, tomato , onion etc goes well with this pesarattu. I like a combination of low fat yoghurt and raw onions.Because the spinach is just wilted, i think it should retain its nutrients and fibre better.

In terms of measurements, this recipe goes like this:

1 cup moon sprouts
2 green chillies medium sized
1/2 inch fresh ginger
Fresh spinach chiffonade , i.e long strips

Grind the first three ingredients. Add salt just before making the pesarattu crepe. Sprinkle with the spinach chiffonade. Flip. Serve with chutney.

Makes three four to five medium sized pesarattus.

A Foodie Diets: Sambharela Moola

Moola is gujarati for Radish( as apposed to the other moolah that is so very hard to come by :)). A very low calorie dish , really good even as a salad with a splash of yoghurt. I also like the simplicity of the dish.


Radish, white or red cut in cubes
Radish greens if available
Curry Leaves
Lime Juice
Salt to taste

Heat a little bit of oil, add mustard seeds and wait for them to pop. Then add asofoetida.Add the cut radish and also the radish leaves if any on top of the radish. Add turmeric, salt to taste and saute until the radish turns translucent, which is how you know they are done.

Squeeze half a lime on top and you are done.

If you are like me and like a little bite to your food, finish while the radish is just done.

Enjoy with yoghurt.


Stuffed Potato :: Bharwa Aloo

From: The spice Box: Vegetarian Indian Cookbook
by Manju Shivraj Singh

My submission for DK's The Potato Fe(a)st

6 medium raw potatoes peeled
8 tbsp oil, divided
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 medium onions, ground
6 cloves garlic, ground
1 tsp ground ginger root
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp cayene pepper
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup yoghurt
salt to taste
1 tbsp raisins
1/2 tsp cloves
a few mint leaves or coriander leaves for garnish

Cut off the top quarter of the potatoes. Keep the tops. Carefully scoop out the center of each potato, using a knife. Save the pulp. Heat 2 tbsp of oil. Add cumin, onions and garlic. Cook till onions are golden.

Add the spices, tomatoes, yoghurt, salt. Cook. When the tomatoes are tender add the raisins and potato pulp. Cook 10-15 minutes more.

Stuff the spice mixture inside the potatoes and cover with the tops of the potatoes. Secure with a toothpick on each potato. Set aside any extra spice mixture.

Heat the remaining 6 tbsp of l and add cloves. Fry 1-2 minutes. Add the potatoes, fry and turn them till they are light brown. Cover with a tight lid and cook until they are tender.
Pour the remaining spice mixture over the potatoes. Garnish with mint or coriander.

Cooks notes: My potatoes did not get as tender just by covering with a tight lid, I added the remaining spice mixture and maybe around 1/2 cup of water to make sure the potatoes ended up soft enough.

Very yummy recipe though.The Raisins really provide a nice contrast to the heavy maasala. Serve with Puris.

Aloo Bonda


Boiled Potato
Green chilli
Coriander leaves
Red onion, finely chopped.

In proportion the red onion is only about 1/10th of the potato. Mix all the ingredients but besan very well. Make small balls and referigerate for about ten minutes. Makes for easier handling while frying.

Mix besan and water to a consistency a little thinner than dosa batter.

Fry and serve with green coriander chutney. Or serve on pav.


Stuffed Bhindi

Recipe adapted from

½ teaspoon turmeric powder
2 teaspoons coriander powder
1 teaspoon chilli powder
2 teaspoons saunf powder
¾ teaspoon dry mango powder
A pinch of Hing (asafoetida)
2 tbsp besan
Salt to taste

Mix. Slit the Bhindi from tail to head, leaving about 1/2 inch from the head. Stuff.
Fry in a large shallow pan , making sure not to overlap the bhindi. About ten minutes later, take a couple of spoons and turn over each bhindi so as to have even browning on each side.

Serve with dal and sabji.


Kadai Paneer

1 tbsp ghee or corn oil
1/2 tsp crushed dried chillies
2 red or yellow peppers, seeed and cut into strips
1 red onion sliced into 1/2 inch thick
1 pound paneer cut into batons
2 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves
1/2 tsp dried fenugreek leaves crumbled
juice of 1 lemon
2 inch piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and julienned

Basic Kadhai sauce:
1/3 cup ghee or corn oil
1 oz garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp coriander seeds, coarsely pounded
8 red chillies, coarsely pounded in a mortar
2 red onions, finely chopped
2 inch piece fresh ginger root
3 green chilliies
1 pound fresh ripe tomatoes finely chopped
2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground garam masala
11/2 tsp dried nugreek leaves
1 tsp sugar( optional)

To make the sauce, heat the ghee in a pan, add the garlic and let it color. Stir, then add the coriander seeds and red chilies. When they release their aromas, add the onions and cook until they start turning a light golden yelow color. Stir in the ginger, green chilies and tomatoes. Reduce the heat to low and cook until all the excess moisture has evaporated and the fat starts to separate out. Add the salt, garam masala, and fenugreek leaves and stir. Taste and add some sugar if needed.

For the stir fry , heat the ghee in a kadhai, wok or a large frying pan. Add the crushed chillies, pepper strips and red onion. Stir and saute over high heat for under a minutee, then add the paneer and stir for another minute. Add the sauce and mix well. Once everything is heated through check for seasoning, add a touch of salt if required. Finish with the fresh cilantro,fenugreek leaves, and lemon juice. Garnish with the ginger and serve with naan.

Cooks Notes: I like to first saute the paneer in a little oil and then soak it in hot water to make it soft. Because paneer available in the US is not as fresh as it is back home. I also reduced the total number of chilies by half, because it was too hot for me.
2 heaping tbsp caster sugar
2 eggs
12/3 cups whole milk
6 cups all purpose flour
11/2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp salt
31/2 tbsp vegetable oil

Donot knead too much or the naan will become stretchy. The best way to have a good naan is not to bake it but broil it. Use a heavy cast iron pan, heat it under the broiler and then place the uncooked naan on the cast iron pan and watch it carefully, it will brown very fast.