Andhra thali at Gonguura

Guru Purnima – 3 Lessons I’ve learnt from food

I haven’t had a permanent teacher in my life, someone to constantly look-up to; I believe in taking life lessons from every person that I meet or interact with, the work that I do and all that I experience while traveling, reading or even watching a film. But, in the past few years I’ve realized that I’ve had a constant teacher around me – Food. Whether I was cooking, eating or talking to friends, chefs and fellow food bloggers, there was always a lesson to take away; at times to make me better at what I do and at times to help me realize my own potential. Here’re the lessons that I’ve learnt from food; as an eager eater, enthusiastic cook and a professional food writer.

1. What we eat is what we become
Now, I don’t mean you’ll become a big fat pig if you eat bacon. What I mean is, that the food absorbs the energy of the cook and when we eat that food it gets transferred to us. Around 12 years ago, when I was living alone in Mumbai, I ruined my dinner. That was first for me and I was angry at myself for I had to make do with a bowl of Maggi; I was in a bad mood and an absolute negative space. That was when I realized that the mood you’re in reflects in your cooking. I spoke to my mother the next day and she confirmed my thought; it made me understand why her cooking, which was brilliant on most days, would be below average at times.

Recently, when I was interviewing Chef Thomas Zacharias of The Bombay Canteen, he re-iterated the lesson stressing over the point that happy cooks produce great food. And that’s not it; the principle applies on animals too. Research shows that cows produce better milk when they’re bred in a happy environment.

2. We should and must not judge other people’s choices
I had learnt this lesson way early in my life – never judge people based on their choices. I was a hard core meat eater, but was brought up on a balanced diet of vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian food. My non-vegetarian dad never made fun of vegetables or called them ghas-phoos and my vegetarian mom never looked down upon the meat eaters. I continued this practice as I grew up, with food as well as life. So, while I might have my reservations about certain kind of food, I would never judge you based on what you eat or what you do in your life.

3. That there’s a universal language
And that language is food. You might not be able to converse with people because of the language barrier, but offer them food and you’d suddenly start understanding them. The way people eat, their mannerisms, their likes and dislikes tell us so much about them. Food is the biggest ice-breaker when you don’t know how to kick start a conversation.

Being an extrovert, talking to strangers doesn’t come naturally to me, but it always gets easier when food is the common topic of interest.

Do you have lessons that food has taught you? Share with me in the comments below because I would love to learn more.

7 Easy And Healthy Breakfast Recipes – #2

Do you remember the 7 Easy and Healthy Breakfast Recipes I had shared a few days ago as a part of my Instagram project – #NoWhiteBreadBreakfast? Well, I have managed to add more recipes to the project and thought I would compile them. This time I made a mix of classic Maharashtrian, south Indian and Punjabi dishes along with some muffins and a quick-fix super healthy breakfast bowl.

Whole wheat sugarfree banana muffins

Whole wheat sugarfree banana muffins

 

Whole Wheat Sugarfree Banana Muffins
• Sift 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, add 1 tsp baking powder and baking soda each and keep aside
• In a separate bowl take 3/4 cup of powdered jaggery, 3/4 cup oil, 2 egg yolks, 2 large mashed bananas and mix well
• Beat the egg whites separately
• Divide the flour mix and egg white into three parts; fold one part flour and one part egg white into the jaggery and oil mix, repeat with remaining two parts; check the consistency and add yogurt if the batter needs to be thinner
• Line the muffin tray, pour the batter to fill up 3/4 of the mold; sprinkle some sugar over it if you like
• Pop it in the oven for 15 mins at 180 degree Celsius; insert a toothpick in the centre to check if done (if the toothpick comes out clean, your muffins are ready)

Overnight Chia Seed Pudding

Overnight Chia Seed Pudding

Overnight Chia Seeds Pudding
• Soak about 3 tbsp chia seeds in 1 cup of milk (you can alternatively use coconut milk, almond milk or soy milk)
• Add 2 tsp powdered sugar; 1/2 tsp vanilla essence and put it in the fridge
• In the morning the chia seeds will swell up and your milk will have a thick pudding like consistency
• Top it with the fruits of your choice, some muesli and flax seeds.

Note – Chia seeds are absolutely healthy and a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, magnesium and iron. You’ll find chia seeds at a gourmet store. Crawford market in Mumbai is the best place to buy them from. You can also use Halim Seeds to make the pudding. They function like chia seeds, are equally healthy and available easily at local grocery store at cheaper price.

Maharashtrian Kande Pohe

Maharashtrian Kande Pohe

Maharashtrian Kande Pohe
• Wash 1 cup thick poha under running water; mix salt, 1tsp sugar, juice of 1 lime with poha and keep aside
• Heat 1tsp oil in a pan and fry a handful of peanuts, keep aside
• Heat about 2tbsp oil in a pan, throw in 1tsp rai, 8-10 curry leaves, 2 chopped green chillies and let them splutter
• Throw in two thinly sliced large onions and fry them on low flame; when the onions turn light pink add one diced potato; add 1/2 tsp red chilli powder and 1/2 tsp turmeric; cover and let the potatoes cook
• When potatoes are done switch off the gas and mix in peanuts and poha
• Sprinkle a little water, adjust salt and keep it covered till it’s time to serve.
• Top it with thin sev, coriander and eat.

Tip – never re-heat the poha, it’ll get dry.

Rawa Upma

Rawa Upma

Rawa Upma
• Dry roast 3/4 cup rawa till it’s light brown and set aside.
• Fry a handful of peanuts in ghee and set aside.
• Now heat 2 tsp ghee in a pan and add 1/2 tsp rai, 5-6 curry leaves, 1/2 tsp each of chana and urad dal, 1 chopped green chilli, 1/2 tsp grated ginger.
• Add 2 chopped onions and sautee for 2-3 minutes.
• Add 1 chopped tomato, 1/4 cup peas, fried peanuts, roasted suji and mix well.
• Add about 2 cups of butter milk, salt to taste and let it cook till the water is soaked up.
• Garnish with green coriander and a spritz of lime and serve.

Tukkar/Leftover Roti Poha/Sindhi Selmani

Tukkar/Leftover Roti Poha/Sindhi Selmani

Tukkar/Leftover Roti Poha/Phodnichi Roti/Sindhi Selmani
• Heat oil in a pan; throw in sliced onions and sautee them.
• Add tomatoes, green chillies, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, dhanajeera powder (this is a mix of dhaniya and jeera powder available at local grocery store), anchor.
• Chop leftover rotis into small pieces and throw in the mix.
• Add roasted or fried peanuts.
• Add salt to taste
• Garnish with coriander and serve with a spritz of lime.

Note – I am on an ayurvedic diet and have been told to stay away from leftover food (baasi khana) so I made fresh rotis for this.

Sewai Upma

Sewai Upma

Sewai Upma
• Heat oil in a pan; throw in rai, curry leaves and green chillies and let them splutter.
• Add sliced onions and sautee them for a while.
• Add chopped potatoes and green peas; cover and cook till the potatoes are done.
• In the meanwhile boil rice sewai in water for about 5 minutes.
• Drain off the water and add the sewai to vegetables.
• Season with salt and garnish with lime juice and green coriander.

Banana and Kale Smoothie

Banana and Kale Smoothie

Kale and Banana Breakfast Smoothie
• Take one ripe banana, 3-4 kale leaves, 1 cup soy milk, 1 tbsp flax seeds and sugar (optional).
• Blitz them in the blender.
• Pour it in the glass, top it with sunflower seeds and drink.

Potato Crust Pie – The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society: The Literary Kitchen #7

“I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.”
– Mary Ann Shaffer, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Imagine if it were true, wouldn’t it be the most amazing thing?

Potato Crust Pie - The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel pie Society: The Literary Kitchen #7

Potato Crust Pie – The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel pie Society: The Literary Kitchen #7

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society came to me through a recommendation from a book club that I am part of (checkout The Sunday Book Club on Twitter, they’re awesome). The book tugged at my heart and I think you have to be a real cynic to not fall in love with it instantly.

I am developing a love for books set during and right after World War II and while The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a work of fiction, it paints quite a real and believable picture of the occupation. The book is a beautiful collection of letters between Juliet Ashton, a British author in search of a subject for her next book, and the residents of Guernsey island who formed the literary society during the German occupation during World War II. The society is formed quite by accident when the residents find themselves breaking the curfew. The society eventually becomes a part of their life and also a way to break away from the life of scarcity and darkness.

Also Read: Felix Felicis – Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince: The Literary Kitchen #6

When I picked up the book I was a bit curious about the inclusion of Potato Peel Pie in the name of the book club. That was answered a few pages into the book.

“Will Thisbee was responsible for the inclusion of Potato PeelPie in our society’s name. Germans or not, he wasn’t going to go to any meetings unless there were eats! So refreshments became part of our agenda. Since there was scant butter, less flour and no sugar to spare on Guernsey then, Will concocted a potato peel pie: mashed potatoes for the filling, boiled beetroot for sweetness, and potato peelings for the crust. Will’s recipes are usually dubious, but this one became a favourite.”
– Mary Ann Shaffer, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

I knew I wanted to make the potato peel pie from this book when I read the description. Only, I didn’t want to use Will’s recipe. I wanted to make something more flavourful with ingredients other than just potato that would make the Guernsey folks happy; they had been living on bland and almost no food for far too long. All I knew was that my pie crust would be of potatoes and potato peelings. The recipe was developed entirely at my friend Amrita’s house for a lunch that she was hosting (she also taught the recipe in her cooking workshop this Sunday). We made the pie crust like potato latkes and prepared a quiche like filling with mushrooms, spinach and cheese. The addition of bacon came from the point that the literary society was found right after a roasted pig dinner, something that was kind of illegal during that period.

While we were eating we drizzled a bit of Sriracha over the pie and trust me, it worked wonders. So go ahead, experiment all you want with the accompaniments. Add a bit of chicken in the filling if you wish. Bake the pie, put your feet up and do read the book with a mug of coffee or tea on the side. It’s also started raining in Mumbai, so yay!

And, do you know that my recipe for Felix Felicis was featured on Buzz Feed last week? Go read it here.

Harry Potter - Buzz Feed

Potato Crust Pie with Spinach and Mushrooms

Ingredients:

For Pie Crust:
Medium sized potatoes – 4
Egg – 1
Salt to taste

For the filling:
Spinach – 1 cup (chopped)
Mushrooms – 1 cup (sliced)
Egg – 1
Cheese (Mozzarella) – 1 cup (grated)
Milk – ½ cup
Basil leaves – 3-4 (chopped)
Oil – 1 tbsp
Pepper – ½ tsp
Salt to taste

For topping:
Crisp bacon bits or caramelized onions

Method:

Pie crust:
1. Pre-heat oven to 200 degree Celsius.
2. Grate potatoes along with the peel.
3. Lightly beat one egg and mix with the grated potatoes. Add salt.
4. Grease a 9 inch pie tray and set the potato mix in it like the pie dough.
5. Bake it in the oven for 30 minutes.

Filling:
1. Heat the oil in a pan and sautee spinach and mushrooms separately.
2. Lightly beat the egg and mix in milk, grated cheese, spinach, mushrooms and basil leaves.
3. Season with salt and pepper
4. Pour the filling in the pie crust and put it in the oven for 20 mins at 180 degree Celsius.
5. Let the pie rest on the rack for a while before removing it from the tray.
6. Top it with bacon bits or caramelized onions and serve.

Potato Crust Pie - The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel pie Society: The Literary Kitchen #7

Potato Crust Pie – The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel pie Society: The Literary Kitchen #7

Credits:
Cooking – Shirin Mehrotra and Amrita Kaur Ramsinghani
Styling and Photography – Amrita Kaur Ramsinghani

Cafe Review – Le 15 Cafe, Colaba

Poached Eggs With Tomato Sauce at Le 15 Cafe, Colaba

Poached Eggs With Tomato Sauce at Le 15 Cafe, Colaba

For past few days, we’ve been scrolling through Pooja Dhingra’s (of Le 15 Patisserie fame) Instagram timeline to get the glimpse of her new café in Colaba. Dhingra has brought in her Le Cordon Bleu classmate chef Pablo Naranjo Agular to head the kitchen. Designed by The Bus Ride Design Studio (who’ve also designed the Bombay Canteen and Tilt All Day among others), the Parisian interiors are colourful and flowery with huge windows letting in enough sunlight. The upholstery has been designed by fashion designer Masaba Gupta; we loved the bright pink and blue cushions. Continue reading

Felix Felicis – Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince: The literary Kitchen #6

“Oho,” said Slughorn again. Harry was sure that Slughorn had not forgotten the potion at all, but had waited to be asked for dramatic effect. “Yes. That. Well, that one, ladies and gentlemen, is a most curious little potion called Felix Felicis. I take it,” he turned, smiling, to look at Hermione, who had let out an audible gasp, “that you know what Felix Felicis does, Miss Granger?”
“It’s liquid luck,” said Hermione excitedly. “It makes you lucky!”
The whole class seemed to sit up a little straighter. Now all Harry could see of Malfoy was the back of his sleek blond head, because he was at last giving Slughorn his full and undivided attention.
“Quite right, take another ten points for Gryffindor. Yes, it’s a funny little potion, Felix Felicis,” said Slughorn. “Desperately tricky to make, and disastrous to get wrong. However, if brewed correctly, as this has been, you will find that all your endeavors tend to succeed… at least until the effects wear off.”
“Why don’t people drink it all the time, sir?” said Terry Boot eagerly.
“Because if taken in excess, it causes giddiness, recklessness, and dangerous overconfidence,” said Slughorn. “Too much of a good thing, you know… highly toxic in large quantities. But taken sparingly, and very occasionally…”
– J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

Felix Felicis - Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince: The Literary Kitchen #6

Felix Felicis – Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince: The Literary Kitchen #6

Continue reading