Doon Chetin| Kashmiri Walnut Chutney

Have you ever tried out Doon Chetin, a walnut chutney in Kashmiri style? I tried it out at home recently, and fell head over heels in love with it, as did my family.

Making Doon Chetin (‘Doon‘ is Kashmiri for ‘walnuts’ and ‘chetin‘ refers to ‘chutney’) had been on my mind ever since our recent trip to Kashmir. I didn’t have an opportunity to savour this chutney in the course of our holiday, so I pledged to make it once I got back home. I made sure to pick up some Kashmiri walnuts (which are believed to be of high quality) and some shahi jeera (black cumin) that goes into the preparation of this chutney. I read up on the Internet, and was lucky to find an authentic Kashmiri recipe for the Doon Chetin. Like I said earlier, the chutney was made recently, and the rest, as they say, is history. I served it as a dip with home-made kuzhi paniyarams, and it was gone in no time at all!

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The Doon Chetin combines some really unusual ingredients – fresh curd, black cumin, raw onion, walnuts, mint and the like. Initially, I admit, I did have apprehensions about whether I would like the taste. What if it tasted too weird? Well, I wouldn’t know unless and until I tried it out, right? So, try it out I did, and I am so glad I did – the Doon Chetin tastes absolutely amazing, rich and creamy, yet light and exquisite, the chillies and mint adding a zing to it, the walnuts contributing their nuttiness, with the faintest of sourness from the curd. Yumminess, I tell you!

Traditionally, the Kashmiris prepare Doon Chetin in a stone mortar and pestle, which gives it a slightly coarse texture. It is eaten with non-vegetarian kebabs or rice dishes, typically. I used a mixer to make the chutney and ground it smooth, which is fine since I was planning to use it as a dip.

Try it out, and I am sure you will love it too!

Here’s the recipe for the Doon Chetin.

Recipe Source: Keep Calm & Curry On

Ingredients (makes about 3/4 cup):

  1. 1/2 cup walnuts
  2. Salt to taste
  3. 2 green chillies
  4. 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder
  5. 2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves
  6. 1 tablespoon onion, finely chopped
  7. 1 teaspoon shahi jeera aka black cumin
  8. 1/4 cup fresh thick curd

Method:

  1. Place all ingredients in a mixer jar.
  2. Blend till smooth.
  3. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
  4. Serve as an accompaniment with tandoori dishes, fried snacks or rice dishes.

Notes:

1. For best results, use thick and fresh curd that is not too sour.

2. Adjust the number of green chillies you use, depending upon how spicy you want the chutney to be.

3. I used Kashmiri walnuts and shahi jeera to make this chutney. In case you don’t have access to them, you can use locally sourced variants for these two ingredients too.

4. Traditionally, this recipe uses Kashmiri red chilli powder, which is low on heat and adds a gorgeous reddish colour to dishes. I didn’t have any, so I used ordinary red chilli powder instead – which is why the colour of my Doon Chetin is not as beautifully brown as it is, traditionally.

5. You can add in a couple of cloves of garlic while grinding the Doon Chetin, too. I skipped it.

6. If you do not have shahi jeera, you can substitute it with ordinary cumin. However, shahi jeera adds a richer, deeper flavour to the Doon Chetin.

7. Dried mint powder can be used in the chutney, in place of fresh mint leaves. If you are using dried mint powder, use about 1 tablespoon for the above quantities of ingredients.

8. I wanted the Doon Chetin to be of a smooth texture, so I ground it in my mixer. You can keep the texture coarser, too, if you so prefer. You may even use a mortar and pestle to make the chutney, as is done traditionally in Kashmir.

9. Any leftover Kashmiri Walnut Chutney can be stored in a clean, dry, air-tight box and stored, refrigerated, for 3-4 days. Use only a clean, dry spoon for the chutney.

10. I served the Kashmiri Walnut Chutney as a dip alongside quick-fix kuzhi paniyarams made from idli batter. The two made for a wonderful, wonderful pair.

What do you think about this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

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This post is for the Ssshhh Cooking Secretly Challenge. I was paired by Priya Mahesh of @200deg for this month’s challenge, who assigned me the two secret ingredients of ‘Walnuts’ and ‘Curd’. Doon Chetin is what I decided to make, using these two ingredients.

I’m also sending this recipe for Fiesta Friday #230, co-hosted this week by Diann @ Of Goats and Greens.

 

 

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Walking Alongside The Almond Trees At Badamvaer, Srinagar

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Badamvaer – prettiness is what meets your eye, wherever you gaze

It was love at first sight with Badamvaer, Srinagar, for both the husband and me. The moment we set foot inside the gates of Badamvaer and caught a glimpse of its prettiness, we were charmed. It was a rainy weekend morning when we visited, in the course of our holiday in Kashmir, and we were lucky to have this beauty almost all to ourselves.

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This was the sight that greeted us, the minute we had stepped foot into Badamvaer. For some reason, this particular spot reminded me of a fairy garden straight out of Enid Blyton’s books.

What is Badamvaer, you ask? Popularly called ‘Badamwari‘, Badamvaer is the Kashmiri name is a gorgeous, gorgeous garden in Srinagar. Like the name suggests, almond trees abound in the place (‘Badam‘ refers to ‘almond’, while ‘vaer‘ is ‘garden’ in Kashmiri). I hear the garden comes alive in the spring, when the almond trees blossom. There are beautiful white blossoms everywhere, and the garden is a sight to behold. When we visited this May, there were no blossoms on the almond trees, but the place was still a sight to behold.

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Multi-hued flowers in bloom, at Badamvaer

The story of Badamvaer begins with the Durrani Fort, a very famous tourist spot in Srinagar. The Durrani Fort stands regal on a hillock called Hari Parbat, on the outskirts of Srinagar. The fort shares space with a few Muslim shrines, a Shakti temple that is sacred to the Kashmiri Pundits, and a Sikh gurudwara.

The Durrani Fort sitting regal atop Hari Parbat, as seen from Badamvaer

It is believed that Emperor Akbar had plans of setting up a new capital around Hari Parbat, which is why he began construction of a fort here in 1590. However, the project was never completed. It was during the Durrani reign in Kashmir, under the reign of Shuja Singh Durrani in 1808, that the present-day fort was constructed.

Emperor Akbar had plans of building Naagar Nagar, a city around the foothills of Hari Parbat, which would house palaces and balconies for the royal family, residences for the noblemen of the court, and army barracks. Thanks to the downfall of the Mughal empire that began at around this time, the city never came into existence. In the year 1876, when Dogras ruled over Kashmir, the then ruler Ranbir Singh got the garden area (as per Emperor Akbar’s original plans, I suppose) planted with almond trees. Over time, the garden began to be known as Badamvaer or Badamwari, the garden of almond trees.

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The almond trees that abound in Badamvaer aka Badamwari

Badamvaer used to be a popular picnic spot for Kashmiris in the 1900s, from what I understand. Slowly, though, the place fell into a state of neglect and disrepair, and local footfall kept reducing further and further. It was in the year 2007 that J&K Bank took up the project of bringing Badamvaer back to life. The garden was painstakingly cleaned up and landscaped all over again, a new lease of life handed to it. Over time, locals and tourists alike began to return to Badamvaer, and the Kashmiri picnics began happening here, all over again. The J&K Bank continues to undertake maintenance of the garden till date, and has done a really good job at it.

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Inside Badamvaer aka Badamwari

Badamvaer boasts of some stunning landscaping and extremely beautiful flowers, which had us going all ga-ga.

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I had never seen roses in this particular purple-pink before Badamvaer happened. Can’t get over just how pretty this shade is!

The huge climbing roses that are everywhere in Kashmir are present here as well, of course.

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A much-coveted selfie and photography spot within Badamvaer, which the climbing roses have chosen to adorn

Apart from roses in many hues, the garden is full of exotic flowers that only a place like Kashmir can have in such plenitude.

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Pansies are all over Kashmir, and so they were in Badamvaer too. Is it just me or can you spot a face in these flowers, as well?

Badamvaer also offers some lovely views of the mist-shrouded mountains that surround it.

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The beautiful structure that houses a well, in the midst of Badamvaer

I wonder why Badamvaer is not as popular among tourists as, say, Nishat Baugh or Shalimar Baugh is. I never read about Badamvaer on any of the travel blogs I checked out, while researching for our trip – I am so thankful our tour operator suggested we visit this lovely haven! When we visited, there were absolutely no tourists around – just some locals and school kids busy picnicking. Well, good for us!

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This part of the garden took my breath away, it was so beautiful on that sun-kissed, rain-drenched day. And, this school kid insisted on getting into my picture!

I love how Badamvaer has managed to retain an air of purity, of cleanness and freshness, how it is still untouched by commercialisation in spite of being such a gloriously beautiful locale. I really hope it stays that way.

We spent a good couple of hours in Badamvaer, just walking around, basking in the beauty all around us, soaking in the place.

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An Indian mynah we spotted, nestling in one of the trees in Badamvaer

It is quite a huge garden too, one that deserves to be walked around leisurely and explored slowly, to one’s heart’s content.

A metal bridge running over a stream from a man-made fountain, in Badamvaer. Pretty, ain’t it?

Badamvaer was quite the weekend hang-out spot for locals from 2007 onwards (after the garden got a new lease of life) until recently, with dance performances and cultural programmes happening here. However, the performances have been temporarily put on hold as of now, considering the political unrest and upheaval in Kashmir in the last few months.

A fountain, in the midst of Badamvaer

Here’s hoping peace finds its way to Kashmir soon!

That’s the washroom in Badamvaer! Can you guess?

If Badamvaer is pretty now, I can only imagine just how gorgeous it would be with all those almond trees weighed down by white blossoms, in spring time. I hope to be able to return to this place some time, to see that phenomenon in person.

The husband and the bub, enjoying a leisurely walk in Badamvaer

So long, Badamvaer! I hope to meet you again, soon!

If you ever find yourself in Srinagar, don’t miss visiting this hidden gem. Highly recommended!

Tips for travellers:

  1. A visit to Badamvaer can be combined with one to the adjacent Hari Parbat fort and Old Srinagar, where there is loads to see and do and explore.
  2. There is a small entry fee that needs to be paid, to enter Badamvaer.
  3. If possible, try to time your visit to Badamvaer with the blooming of the almond trees in spring – it is totally worth it, I hear.

 

 

Chatpati Vegetable Khichdi

By now, you guys probably know that our family is one of big khichdi fans. Khichdi often finds pride of place on our dining table, in different versions and flavours. We love experimenting with different types of khichdi!  The latest type of khichdi I prepared was a Chatpati Vegetable Khichdi, with chaat masala adding a lovely, refreshing, tangy flavour to it.

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The Chatpati Vegetable Khichdi turned out absolutely beautiful! It made for a lovely change from the usual Vegetable Daal Khichdi we make with garam masala in it. I was in the mood to indulge and topped the khichdi with some grated cheese too, which elevated the dish to a whole new level.

I have used Rozana Sona Masoori Rice and Moong Daal from Popular Essentials to make this Chatpati Vegetable Khichdi. Popular Essentials is a Bangalore-based brand which offers a variety of groceries, and I have been trying out their products for some time now. I like the quality and taste of their products, the secure packaging and the super-fast delivery. Popular Essentials’ products are available on Amazon, in case you are interested in checking them out.

The chaat masala I have used in this khichdi is from Ciba Taaza, a brand that offers a variety of interesting Indian spice mixes, all made using traditional recipes. The masalas are made without any artificial colouring or flavouring agents or preservatives. I have been using spice mixes from Ciba Taaza for a while, and absolutely love their freshness, fragrance and taste. They are available on Amazon, too!

Now, let’s check out how to make the Chatpati Vegetable Khichdi, shall we?

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

  1. 3/4 cup rice
  2. 1/4 cup moong daal
  3. 1 small carrot
  4. 1 small capsicum
  5. 1/4 cup shelled green peas
  6. 6-7 beans
  7. 2-3 medium-sized florets of cauliflower
  8. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  9. 5-6 cloves of garlic
  10. A few stalks of fresh coriander leaves
  11. 1 tablespoon oil
  12. 2 pinches of asafoetida (hing)
  13. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds (rai)
  14. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)
  15. Salt, to taste
  16. 1/2 cup turmeric powder
  17. Red chilli powder, to taste
  18. 2 tablespoons chaat masala or to taste
  19. Cheese, as needed

Method:

1. Wash the rice and moong daal together thoroughly under running water a couple of times. Drain out the excess water.

2. Pressure cook the washed and drained rice and moong daal together with 3 cups of water, for 4 whistles. Let the pressure release naturally. Keep the cooked rice and moong daal aside.

3. Peel the ginger and garlic cloves. Chop the ginger into small pieces. Grind the ginger and garlic together into a paste, using a mixer, with very little water. Keep aside.

4. Peel the carrot and chop into finely. Chop the coriander, capsicum and cauliflower finely. Remove strings from the beans, and chop them finely too. Keep aside.

5. Grate cheese finely. Keep aside.

6. Heat oil in a pan. Add in the mustard seeds and let it pop. Add in the cumin and asafoetida, and let them stay in for a couple of seconds.

7. Now, add the chopped carrot, cauliflower, beans and capsicum to the pan, along with the shelled green peas. Add in the ginger-garlic paste. Cook on medium flame till the vegetables are cooked, but retain a bit of a crunch. You may even sprinkle some water on the veggies, if required.

8. Once the vegetables are cooked, add the cooked rice and moong daal to the pan. Add in 1 more cup of water, salt to taste, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and chaat masala. Mix well. Cook on medium flame for a couple of minutes, stirring intermittently. Switch off gas.

9. Serve the Chatpati Vegetable Khichdi hot, with loads of grated cheese and chopped coriander sprinkled on top.

Notes:

1. Ghee or butter can be used to make this khichdi too, instead of the oil I have used here. I have used just 1 tablespoon of oil, but you can use more depending upon your personal taste preferences.

2. You can use more or less chaat masala, depending upon your personal taste preferences.

3. I have used Amul processed cheese here. You can use any variety of cheese you prefer, in as much quantity as you want.

4. You can use any other veggies you want to, to make this Chatpati Vegetable Khichdi. I have used whatever I had handy in my kitchen.

5. Use more or less water, depending upon how grainy/soft you want the khichdi to be. The above measurements yield a well-cooked, soft khichdi.

6. I have cooked the vegetables and the rice-moong daal separately, instead of dumping everything into a pressure cooker. This ensures that the veggies retain a little crunch to them, and do not get overly mushy.

7. This khichdi can be served on its own, and does not really need any pickle, papad or raita as an accompaniment. Make sure you serve it hot, though, so the grated cheese you add on top melts and adds to the taste of the khichdi.

8. This post is in collaboration with Popular Essentials and Ciba Taaza Spices. I was requested by the brands to test some of their products. The opinions expressed about the products here are entirely my own, entirely honest, and not influenced by anything or anyone.

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I’m sending this recipe for Fiesta Friday #230, co-hosted this week by Diann @ Of Goats and Greens.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me in your comments!

Low-Oil Thai Green Vegetable Curry

It is no secret that the husband and I love Thai cuisine. We often choose Thai food when we go out for lunch, and I make Thai dishes at home quite often too. You will find a variety of Thai dishes – from Thai Tom Yum Soup and Thai Fried Rice to Thai Raw Papaya Salad and Thai Peanut Noodle Salad – on my blogs.

I have made what you would call ‘a cheat version’ of Thai Green Curry several times, substituting ingredients that I can get my hands on for the authentic ones. I would use lemon balm instead of lemongrass, for instance, or Indian ginger and paneer instead of galangal and tofu respectively. Recently, though, I went hunting for proper Thai ingredients like bird’s eye chillies, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, tofu and lemongrass, and a ‘proper’ Thai Green Curry came about. Of course, it tasted awesome – quite close to the Thai Green Curry we have sampled and loved in restaurants.

In case you have never tried making Thai Green Curry at home before, let me tell you that it is super simple. Just get together the right ingredients, and the cooking is a breeze! It is a super flavourful dish, too. What’s more, the curry can be made with just 1 teaspoon of oil – what more do you need from a dish, eh?

Here’s how to make Thai Green Curry with 1 teaspoon of oil.

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

To grind to a paste:

  1. A 2-inch piece of galangal, chopped
  2. 2 tablespoons coriander stems, chopped
  3. 1 tablespoon brown sugar or jaggery
  4. 4 Thai bird’s eye chillies, chopped
  5. 2 dry red chillies, each broken into two
  6. 2 kaffir lime leaves, torn up
  7. A handful of lemongrass leaves, cut up
  8. 6-8 garlic cloves, peeled
  9. 6-8 shallots aka small sambar onions, peeled and chopped
  10. 1 tablespoon coriander seeds (sabut dhania)
  11. 1 tablespoon cumin (jeera)

Other ingredients:

  1. Salt, to taste
  2. 1 cup thick coconut milk
  3. A dash of lemon juice
  4. 1 teaspoon oil
  5. 3 cups of mixed vegetables (babycorn, zucchini, capsicum, broccoli, carrot, beans)
  6. 100 grams tofu, chopped into cubes
  7. 2 kaffir lime leaves
  8. A few Thai basil leaves

Method:

  1. First, we will get all the vegetables ready. Peel the carrot and chop into batons. Remove strings from the beans and cut into batons. Cut the babycorn, zucchini, broccoli and capsicum into medium-sized pieces. Keep aside.
  2. Grind all the ingredients for the paste together till smooth, in a mixer, using a little water. Keep aside.
  3. Heat the oil in a pan. Add in all the chopped veggies, 2 kaffir lime leaves, and salt to taste. Cook on low flame till the vegetables are cooked, but still retain a bit of a crunch. Stir intermittently. Sprinkle a little water every now and then, if needed, if you feel the vegetables are sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  4. Add the paste we ground earlier, to the pan. Add in the tofu cubes. Keeping the flame medium, cook for 2 minutes or till the raw smell of the paste disappears.
  5. Now, still keeping the flame medium, add in the coconut milk. Mix well. Cook on medium flame for 1 minute. Add a bit of water if you think the curry is too thick. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
  6. Switch off gas, and add in the lemon juice. Roughly tear the Thai basil leaves and add them to the pan. Mix well. Serve the Thai Green Curry with steamed rice.

Notes:

  1. I used a 200-ml store-bought pack of coconut milk to make this Thai Green Curry, which comes to just about 1 cup. Alternatively, you may make the coconut milk at home, too.
  2. The kaffir lime leaves can be replaced with lemon zest. Similarly, the galangal can be replaced with Indian ginger, and the Thai bird’s eye chillies with Indian green chillies. Lemon balm can be used in place of the lemongrass, too. Paneer can be used in place of tofu, and Thai basil can be substituted for Italian basil. However, if you want the taste to be authentic, or at least close to authentic, please stick to the original ingredients.
  3. Adjust the quantity of bird’s eye chillies that you use, depending upon how spicy you want the Thai Green Curry to taste.
  4. You can use any other vegetables of your choice to make this Thai Green Curry. Green peas, mushrooms and cauliflower are some veggies that would go well in this curry.
  5. It is important not to overcook the vegetables. They should be just cooked and should retain a crunch to them. Overcooked veggies will lead to a mushy, tasteless curry.
  6. Ensure that you cook the Thai Green Curry on a medium flame only. Do not cook the curry too much after adding the coconut milk.
  7. I have used jaggery to make the spice paste for this Thai Green Curry.
  8. You can make a zero-oil version of this curry as well. Add about 1 cup of water to a pan, then add in the vegetables and cook till are done but retain a bit of a crunch. Then, proceed to add in the tofu, the green curry paste and coconut milk, and make the curry as outlined above.

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Foodie Monday Blog Hop

This recipe is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. The theme for this week is ‘Vegetables Cooked In 1 Teaspoon oil’.

I’m also sending this recipe to Fiesta Friday #229. The co-host this week is Liz @ Spades, Spatulas & Spoons.

Thai Tom Yum Vegetable Soup

The weather in Bangalore has been quite weird, lately. One minute, it is bright and sunny, the other the skies turn dark and it begins to pour. Winds bend trees one minute, and the next moment there’s a 360-degree turn in the weather, with calm, clear skies. With these weather changes has come lots of illness, minor and major. Many of the kids and parents in the bub’s school have been going through viral fever and sore throats, and the same is the case with our neighbours. The bub, hubby and I have been battling a nerve-racking cough that has been lingering on and on and on. It has been disturbing our sleep, giving us painful sides, generally keeping us restless and not in the mood to do anything. There have been a few bright spots in the midst of all this restlessness, including the days I made a beautiful Thai Tom Yum Vegetable Soup from scratch. 🙂

The hubby and I love ourselves a well-made bowl of Thai Tom Yum Vegetable Soup. We opt for it whenever we visit a Pan-Asian restaurant, or I resort to ready-to-use packets (which aren’t great for health, I know!). This time around, I took the pain of hunting for authentic Thai ingredients like galangal, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, bird’s eye chillies and tofu, and made the soup from scratch. The effort paid off – the Thai Tom Yum Vegetable Soup turned out absolutely wonderful, quite close to the soup we have tried out and loved in restaurants. It was just the perfect salve for our tired throats, and we loved it so much that I went on to prepare it quite a few times over.

Why don’t you try making Thai Tom Yum Vegetable Soup, too? It is so apt for the rough weather changes that Bangalore is in the grip of, these days.

Here’s the recipe.

Ingredients (serves 2-3):

For the stock:

  1. A handful of lemongrass leaves, cut up using scissors
  2. A 2-inch piece of galangal, chopped and crushed with a mortar and pestle
  3. 1 heaped tablespoon fresh coriander stems, chopped up
  4. 2 Thai bird’s eye chillies, chopped up
  5. 2 kaffir lime leaves, torn roughly
  6. 4 cups of water

Other ingredients:

  1. 1 teaspoon oil
  2. A small piece of zucchini, finely chopped
  3. 2 medium-sized mushrooms, finely chopped
  4. 2 pieces of babycorn, chopped into rounds
  5. A small piece of tofu, chopped into small cubes
  6. A small piece of carrot, chopped into small cubes
  7. 2 medium-sized florets of broccoli, chopped small
  8. Salt, to taste
  9. 1 tablespoon soya sauce
  10. 1-1/2 teaspoon sugar
  11. 1 Thai bird’s eye chilli
  12. 2 lemongrass leaves
  13. 2 kaffir lime leaves
  14. A dash of lemon juice
  15. Some finely chopped coriander leaves, to garnish

Method:

  1. We will first make the stock for the Tom Yum Vegetable Soup. Take all the ingredients listed under ‘For the stock’ in a saucepan, and place it over high heat. When the water begins to boil, turn the heat to medium. Let the water boil for about 5 minutes on medium heat. Then, strain out the leaves and other ingredients and keep the water aside. The water should have absorbed the flavours from the ingredients and should be greenish in colour.
  2. Now, we will proceed to making the Tom Yum Vegetarian Soup. In a pan, heat the oil. Add in the chopped zucchini, baby corn, carrot, mushrooms and broccoli, along with a bit of salt. Saute on medium heat till the vegetables are partially cooked.
  3. Now, add in the tofu and the stock we prepared earlier. Slit the Thai bird’s eye chilli length-wise and add them into the pan, as well as the lemongrass leaves (cut into large pieces) and the kaffir lime leaves (torn roughly). Let everything cook on medium heat for a minute.
  4. Add in the soya sauce and sugar. Mix well. Taste and add salt if needed. Let everything cook together for a minute more.
  5. Switch off gas and add the lemon juice. Mix well.
  6. Remove the lemongrass leaves, the Thai bird’s eye chilli and the torn kaffir lime leaves. Ladle the soup, piping hot, into serving bowls. Serve immediately, garnished with some finely chopped coriander leaves.

Notes:

1. If you don’t like very spicy soup, you can skip adding the Thai bird’s eye chillies to the pan (along with the tofu).

2. Use more or less of the bird’s eye chillies, depending upon how spicy you would like the soup to be.

3. A tablespoon or so of Thai red curry paste can be added to the soup, while adding the tofu, too, for extra flavour. I skipped that.

4. You can use ordinary powdered jaggery or palm jaggery to the Thai Tom Yum Vegetable Soup, instead of refined sugar.

5. Be careful while you are salting the soup. Soya sauce contains quite a bit of salt in it too, so it is better to add in a little less salt.

6. You can even add in garlic, tomatoes and shallots while preparing the stock for this soup. I like the soup without these ingredients, so I skip them.

7. Ensure that you remove the Thai bird’s eye chilli, lemongrass leaves and kaffir lime leaves from the soup before serving it.

Did you like the recipe? Do let me know in your comments!

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I’m also sending this recipe to Fiesta Friday #229. The co-host this week is Liz @ Spades, Spatulas & Spoons.

Indian Spiced Orange Salad

Bored of eating oranges the usual way? Use them in this bright and beautiful Indian Spiced Orange Salad!

I have used Indian spices to delicately spice this salad, which is extremely flavourful and delicious. It is a medley of sweet and tangy and spicy in every bite, and would make a refreshing addition to any meal.

Here’s how to make this Indian Spiced Orange Salad.

Ingredients (serves 2):

  1. 2 large fresh oranges
  2. About 10 almonds
  3. 1 tablespoon honey
  4. Salt, to taste
  5. A dash of red chilli powder
  6. 1/2 teaspoon roasted cumin (jeera) powder
  7. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander leaves

Method:

  1. Dry roast the almonds in a pan, on medium flame, till crisp. Take care to ensure that they do not burn. Keep aside and allow them to cool down completely.
  2. Peel the oranges and remove all the seeds and fibres. Roughly tear the segments into bite-sized pieces using your hands. Transfer the orange pieces to a large mixing bowl.
  3. When the almonds are cool enough to handle, chop them into slivers. Keep aside.
  4. Add salt to taste, honey, cumin powder, chilli powder, almond slivers and finely chopped coriander to the orange pieces in the mixing bowl. Mix gently.
  5. Transfer to serving plates and serve immediately.

Notes:

1. The oranges that I used were a good mix of sweet and tart, so I didn’t feel the need to use any lemon juice in the salad. If you think your oranges aren’t too tart, you could add in a dash of lemon juice.

2. Skip the honey if the oranges are too sweet. Use more honey if needed, depending upon your taste preferences.

3. Roasted peanuts, walnuts or cashewnuts can be used in place of almonds. The lemon juice can be substituted with vinegar, the red chilli powder with finely chopped green chillies, and the honey with maple syrup, palm sugar or any other sweetener. Similarly, you can use torn basil or mint leaves in place of the coriander.

4. You can use a mix of sweet lime (mosambi) and orange to make this salad too.

5. Make sure all the seeds and tough fibres are removed from the oranges, before proceeding to make this Indian Spiced Orange Salad.

6. Serve the Indian Spiced Orange Salad immediately after preparation. Do not let it sit for too long – it will then begin to release water and become tasteless.

Did you like the recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

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Foodie Monday Blog Hop

This recipe is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. The theme for this week is ‘Salad Recipes’.

I’m also sending this recipe over to Fiesta Friday #228.

 

Pattarveliya| Patra| Gujarati Steamed Colocasia Leaves

The heart-shaped leaves of the colocasia plant – also called pattarveliya, arbi, elephant ear or taro – are considered a delicacy amongst several cultures in India. The most common way of consuming these leaves is in the form of rolls, usually with a paste made of gram flour and one or the other souring agent spread over them. There are little variations in how different parts of India cook these rolls – the Gujaratis call them Patra, and use sesame seeds, jaggery and a hint of garam masala in them, for instance, while the Pathrode of the Udupi-Mangalore regions uses ground rice, coconut, curry leaves and urad daal. I’m a big, big, big fan of the Gujarati-style Patra made using these colocasia leaves!

Growing up in Ahmedabad, Patra would be a common tea-time snack at our place, sometimes store-bought, often home-made. They suit my taste buds just fine – a medley of sweet and sour and salty and spicy. We also loved them because they were so healthy – they are steamed, after all, with no oil, and how much oil to use in the tempering depends entirely upon you!

Back in Ahmedabad, Appa would get big bunches of colocasia leaves when he returned from his weekly round of the local vegetable market. I would get overjoyed to see the big green leaves peeking out of his cloth bag, because that meant that delicious patra would soon be in the making in our kitchen. 🙂 When I shifted to Bangalore, I was so disappointed to see colocasia leaves not very commonly available. After a few years of missing them badly and grappling with the sad, wilted leaves we would sometimes get hold of in certain stores only, I began growing them at home! Yes, that’s how much I love my Patra! 🙂 The dish you see above is made from home-grown colocasia leaves – just how awesome is that?!

Gujarati-style patra is not a very difficult thing to make. The proceedure is quite simple, actually. What it does need is a bit of patience and practice – with time, the movements of cutting the stubborn nerves off without damaging the leaves, that of spreading the gram flour mixture evenly on the leaves, that of rolling up the leaves together, that of steaming them in a way that water doesn’t touch them, become more and more natural and easier. So, if you are about to make patra for the first-ever time and the proceedure looks daunting, please don’t worry – just keep at it and it will become all smooth in time! The end result is totally worth it, I tell you.

Here is how to make Patra, Gujarati-style.

Ingredients (serves 2):

For the colocasia leaf rolls:

  1. 4 medium-sized tender colocasia leaves
  2. 3/4 cup gram flour aka besan
  3. A small piece of tamarind
  4. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  5. 2-3 green chillies
  6. Salt to taste
  7. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  8. 2 pinches asafoetida powder
  9. 1 teaspoon garam masala
  10. 2 tablespoons jaggery powder

For the tempering:

  1. 4-5 tablespoons oil
  2. 1 teaspoon mustard
  3. 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
  4. 2 pinches asafoetida
  5. 2 tablespoons fresh grated coconut

For the garnishing:

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander leaves

Method:

First, we will get the colocasia leaf rolls ready.

1. Wash the colocasia leaves thoroughly. Pat dry gently with a cotton cloth.

2. Use a pair of scissors to trim down the stem and thicker veins on the leaves, taking care to ensure that the leaves don’t get cut in the process. Keep aside.

3. Soak the tamarind in a little hot water for at least 10 minutes. When it cools down, extract a thick juice from the tamarind layer. Keep aside.

4. Peel ginger and chop finely. Chop green chillies finely. Grind both of these ingredients together in a mixer, using a little water. Keep aside.

4. Take the gram flour in a large mixing bowl. Add salt to taste, turmeric powder, garam masala, jaggery powder, 2 pinches of asafoetida, the tamarind extract and the ginger-green chillies paste. Mix to a smooth paste using a little water – it should be thick and not too runny. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.

5. Spread out the biggest colocasia leaf on a clean work surface, face down. Spread some of the gram flour paste evenly over the entire surface of the leaf. Place another leaf over this, face down, and spread some paste all over it too. Similarly, place another leaf on top, spread some paste, place the last leaf on top, spread the last of the paste. Fold the right and left edges of the leaves together, inwards. Then, roll all the leaves together tightly, from top to bottom. Place the prepared roll in a colander to steam evenly.

Now, we will steam the colocasia leaf roll.

6. Take 1 cup water in a pressure cooker bottom. Place a tall stand over it. Place the colander with the roll atop the stand.

7. Close the pressure cooker and put the whistle on. Allow 4 whistles on high flame. Let the pressure come down naturally.

8. After the pressure has entirely gone down, open the pressure cooker and allow the roll to cool down. When the roll is cool enough to handle, cut it into pieces that are neither too thick nor too thin.

Now, we will temper the pieces.

9. Heat the oil in a pan. Add the mustard and allow it to pop.

10. Add in the sesame seeds and the asafoetida. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds.

11. Lower flame to medium. Add in the cooked colocasia pieces. Stir gently to coat the pieces evenly with the tempering.

12. Add in the grated coconut. Mix gently. Cook for a couple of seconds on medium flame. Switch off gas.

Lastly, add the garnishing.

13. Add the finely chopped coriander to the pan. Mix gently. Serve the patra hot – they are best had straight off the pan, but can be had cold too.

Check out the following pictures to get a clearer idea of how to make Patra.

Top (left to right): Trimming the stems on the colocasia leaves and spreading the gram flour paste on them; Centre: Rolling up the leaves together; Bottom: Left – the roll ready to go into the pressure cooker; Centre – the roll placed in a colander to cook; Right – the roll cooked and ready

Notes:

1. You can even deep-fry the colocasia leaf rolls, if you want. I prefer the non-deep-fried version, just a simple tempering as above.

2. Do not add more than 4 medium-sized colocasia leaves in a single roll, otherwise it will become too large and unwieldy. If the leaves are too big, roll them 2 at a time.

3. Some people add garlic to the gram flour. I usually don’t.

4. You can do the tempering with ajwain aka carom seeds, instead of mustard – too. I prefer the mustard, though.

5. Amchoor powder can be used instead of tamarind, to add sourness to the patra.

6. Make sure you use a tall stand inside the pressure cooker while steaming the colocasia leaf roll. No water should enter the colander in which you will place the roll.

7. A colander helps in even steaming of the roll, rather than using a closed vessel.

8. You can use red chilli powder instead of green chillies, to spice up the colocasia leaf roll. Use as many or as few green chillies as you want, depending upon how spicy you want the roll to be.

9. Choose fresh, tender colocasia leaves to make this dish, preferably with black veins. Don’t choose mature leaves, as there are more chances of them causing itchiness on your tongue and in your throat.

10. A steamer can be used to cook the colocasia leaf roll, too. We prefer using a pressure cooker instead.

Did you like this recipe for Gujarati-Style Patra? Do let me know in your comments!

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I’m sending this recipe over to Fiesta Friday #228.

Highlights: World On A Plate – 2018

VR Bengaluru in Whitefield, Bangalore, saw a 3-day culinary festival, World On A Plate, happening between June 8 and 10, 2018. For the uninitiated, World On A Plate (popularly called WOAP) is one of Bangalore’s biggest foodie festivals, which aims to bring together food enthusiasts from all spheres, from across the globe – foodies, food brands, masterchefs, stalwarts from the food industry, restaurants, food critics, food bloggers and journalists, and the likes. I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of World On A Plate – 2018, the third edition of this festival, which happens to coincide with VR Two, the second-anniversary celebrations of VR Bengaluru.

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Chefs Sarah Todd and George Calombaris at the World On A Plate – 2018 media meet

Chef George Calombaris and Sarah Todd (both of the MasterChef Australia fame), famed Indian chefs Saransh Goila, Ajay Chopra and Ranveer Brar, and pop star-cum-culinary enthusiast Anaida Parvaneh were some of the chefs associated with the event this year. At the exclusive masterclasses held as part of WOAP – 2018, foodies got a chance to learn from these celebrity chefs. Patrons were also offered an opportunity to engage in a tete-a-tete with the chefs and to pose for photographs with them. This year, Chef Calombaris had also curated a special 4-course meal for WOAP-2018, in co-ordination with Toscano. I could not be part of the masterclasses or the Calombaris-special menu because of paucity of time (and thanks to not keeping too well!), but I loved the little of WOAP – 2018 that I insisted on being a part of.

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Chefs Saransh Goila and Ranveer Brar in a solemn mood, talking about celebrated food writer Anthony Bourdain’s recent demise, at the media meet

At an exclusive media meet held on June 9, Jermina Menon (VP-Marketing, Virtuous Retail – South Asia) spoke of her excitement at being associated with World On A Plate the second time in a row.

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Ms. Jermina Menon speaking at the media meet for World On A Plate – 2018

Kiran Soans (CEO of Gold Rush Entertainment, the principal organiser of this festival) said, “This edition of World on a Plate is bigger in scale and size and guaranteed to be an unparalleled culinary journey for connoisseurs and aspiring chefs.

He also spoke of GiftAMeal with HUG – an initiative to collect funds for the underprivileged as part of a hunger management program, something that World On A Plate and Gold Rush have supported for three years now. In the year 2018, the program aims at giving away 1,00,000 free meals, something that I absolutely love and highly appreciate.

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Mr. Kiran Soans speaking at the media meet for World On A Plate – 2018

The media meet was quite enlightening and interesting, with Chef Ranveer Brar speaking of the differences in food culture among the various cities of India. He spoke of how Bangalore is a great space for food innovation, thanks to the people being quite open to experimenting.
Chef Saransh Goila spoke about the need for a formal body to certify food bloggers and writers. He also went on to speak, very interestingly, about the need for a chef to balance humility with social media popularity, especially in these modern times.

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Top: Chef Saransh Goila, speaking at the media meet for World On A Plate – 2018; Bottom: Chef Goila’s Goila Butter Chicken, presented at the venue

The media meet also offered us, food bloggers and journalists, a chance to sample a few dishes put together by Chef Sarah Todd, Chef George Calombaris, Chef Saransh Goila and Chef Ranveer Brar.

Chef Goila presented his signature Goila Butter Chicken, which Chef Calombaris fondly referred to as ‘the best butter chicken in the world‘.

Chef Todd presented Kolhapuri Slow-Cooked Lamb On Betel Leaf, while Chef Calombaris presented Potato Skordalia With Black Garlic & Walnut.

Chef Ranveer Brar, known for his innovative fusion ideas, presented Burnt Miso & Chocolate Matcha Modaks.

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Left: Chef Sarah Todd speaking at the media meet for World On A Plate – 2018; Right: The Kolhapuri Slow-Cooked Lamb On Betel Leaf, presented by Chef Todd at the venue

I didn’t sample the non-vegetarian dishes, of course, but loved the two vegetarian ones that I did. Chef George Calombaris’s Potato Skordalia With Black Garlic & Walnut was exquisite, with curry leaves adding an Indian touch to the jacket potatoes.

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Left: Chef Calombaris speaking at the media meet for World On A Plate – 2018; Right: Potato Skordalia With Black Garlic & Walnut, presented by Chef Calombaris at the venue

Chef Ranveer Brar’s dish was utterly gorgeous! It was sheer beauty inside and out, a very well-executed blend of Indian and international cuisines. The green matcha modaks were oh, so pretty, the miso-and-chocolate filling complementing the exterior perfectly. The aam ras the modaks were served in added a burst of flavour to the dish!

Left: Chef Ranveer Brar speaking at the media meet for World On A Plate – 2018; Top Right and Top Bottom: The Burnt Miso & Chocolate Matcha Modaks presented by Chef Brar at the venue

Some of the best-known restaurants of Bangalore city set up stalls at the event, including Caperberry, Smally’s, Punjab Bistro, Sindh Kitchen, Nasi & Mee, Sodabottleopenerwala, The Whitefield Arms, Rajdhani and Siam Trading Co. The atmosphere at these stalls was charged, not unlike that at a fair.

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A few of the food stalls at World On A Plate – 2018, at VR Bengaluru

Many of these restaurants are places I have always wanted to try out. Every single one of these stalls had some really lovely food on offer, and I had a tough time trying to figure out what to taste and what not.

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The Sodabottleopenerwala stall at World On A Plate – 2018, at VR Bengaluru

Patisseries like Smoor, Aubree and Lavonne: Academy Of Baking Science & Pastry Arts offered some of their beautiful creations for sale at World On A Plate – 2018. I had a gala time walking through these stalls, checking out this and that, taking pictures.

Some gorgeous sugary confections on sale at the Aubree stall, at World On A Plate – 2018

I abstained from treating myself to a dessert, but was still on a high by the time I had finished ooh-ing and aah-ing over all of those delightful confections, merely by looking at them! 🙂

Top left: Melting Apple, a very interesting-looking dessert from Smoor; Bottom left: Cake pops from Lavonne; Top right and bottom right: Special desserts created for World On A Plate – 2018

I love events like this because they help me discover unique food products and ingredients. World On A Plate – 2018 was no exception. Soya-based vegetarian meat by Good Dot and beautiful, beautiful, organically grown cherries sourced from Jammu by Healthy Buddha were my cherished discoveries at the event.

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Left: Vegetarian Meat by GoodDot, on display at World On A Plate – 2018; Top right: Vegetarian Meat Chilli Chicken; Bottom Right: Vegetarian Keema

I loved the Vegetarian Meat Chilli Chicken and Vegetarian Keema that I sampled at the GoodDot stall and, now, I can’t wait to cook with these products in my kitchen!

The cherries from Healthy Buddha were so fresh and lovely, they disappeared within minutes of my bringing them home. Now, I’m all eager to get my hands on more of their gorgeous produce!

Left: A sweet decorative piece at World On A Plate – 2018; Top right: Green burgers at Smally’s; Bottom right: The gorgeous cherries that I picked up at the Healthy Buddha stall

Overall, it was such a beautiful experience for me, being a wee li’l part of World On A Plate – 2018. I wish I could have done more, explored more, tasted more, learnt more, but I am glad I got to do at least this. Well, next time…!

I hope you were part of the event this year, too!

Were you at World On A Plate – 2018, too? How was your experience there?

Bread Rolls| Bread & Mixed Vegetable Cutlets

Eid is just around the corner! Here’s wishing good times to all those who are celebrating! 🙂

Today, I present to you a recipe for Bread Rolls or Bread & Mixed Vegetable Cutlets that you can make for Iftaar, the routine breaking of the fast during Ramzaan. You can also make these on the occasion of Eid, a hearty and nutritious vegetarian snack.

I have extremely fond memories associated with Bread Rolls aka Bread & Mixed Vegetable Cutlets. In the almost 36 hours it took to travel by train from Ahmedabad to Madras, while I was growing up, Bread & Mixed Vegetable Cutlets would make for my morning breakfast. I remember them tasting awesome (I’m not sure if I would still say the same about them!), and being all excited about having them because they were such a novelty for me – we never made them at home ourselves.

I also remember my school friends bringing home-made Bread Rolls in their snack boxes, and offering me a taste. I would adore them, and we would end up exchanging our boxes – they would happily gobble up my idlis while I munched on their Bread Rolls.

The bub was introduced to Bread & Mixed Vegetable Cutlets at school, and she happened to adore them. Like mom, like daughter, eh? When she came home from school grinning like a Cheshire cat a couple of days – because the snack was her favourite Bread & Mixed Vegetable Cutlets – I absolutely had to learn how to make them at home. I spoke to the parents who had sent them, understood how they had made them, and began making them with a few customisations. Now, they are a regular snack at our place, and a much-loved one, too!

I make these Bread Rolls with tonnes of vegetables and whole wheat bread, and use home-made garam masala to spice them. I use a dosa pan to shallow-fry them, with minimal oil, as opposed to deep-frying. They turn out absolutely delicious in taste, perfectly crisp from the outside, soft from the inside, just the way we like them to be.

At a lot of places, I find Bread & Mixed Vegetable Cutlets containing either too much of potatoes or too much of bread. The recipe I am going to tell you about today will help you avoid both these situations. These measurements will give you the perfect cutlets – perfectly balanced ones, with no one ingredient overpowering the others. Do try it out!

Here’s how to make the Bread & Mixed Vegetable Cutlets.

Ingredients (makes 18-20 cutlets):

  1. 4 medium-sized potatoes, boiled, peeled and mashed
  2. 2 medium-sized onions, finely chopped
  3. 1/3 cup shelled green peas
  4. 1/3 cup grated carrot
  5. 1/3 cup finely chopped cabbage
  6. 1/3 cup finely chopped beans
  7. 1/3 cup finely chopped capsicum
  8. 1/3 cup finely chopped cauliflower
  9. Salt, to taste
  10. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  11. 2 generous pinches of asafoetida
  12. 1/2 tablespoon garam masala
  13. Juice of 1 lemon, or to taste
  14. 4 tablespoons bread crumbs + more as needed to coat the cutlets
  15. 3-4 tablespoons finely chopped coriander
  16. 2 tablespoons of slivered almonds
  17. 8 slices of bread
  18. 4 green chillies, finely chopped
  19. A 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  20. 1 tablespoon oil + more as needed for shallow-frying

Method:

  1. Heat the 1 tablespoon oil in a pan. Add in the chopped onion, carrot, cabbage, beans, capsicum and cauliflower, as well as the shelled green peas. Salt lightly. Cook on medium flame till the vegetables are half done – they should be cooked, but retain their crunch. Switch off the gas, and allow the cooked vegetables to cool down entirely.
  2. Grind the ginger and green chillies to a paste in a mixer, using very little water. Transfer the paste to a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add the peeled and mashed boiled potatoes to the mixing bowl.
  4. Soak each of the bread slices in water for just a second, then squeeze in between your hands and drain out all the water. Add the drained bread slices to the mixing bowl.
  5. To the mixing bowl, add the 4 tablespoons of bread crumbs, lemon juice, asafoetida, salt to taste, garam masala, turmeric powder, chopped coriander and slivered almonds.
  6. Once the cooked vegetables (the carrot, capsicum, beans, peas, cabbage, cauliflower) have completely cooled down, add them to the mixing bowl too.
  7. Mix all the ingredients in the mixing bowl together thoroughly. Shape patties out of this mixture. Keep aside.
  8. Heat a heavy dosa pan on high flame. When it is nice and hot, turn down the flame to medium.
  9. Spread out some bread crumbs on a large plate. Dip two of the patties in the breadcrumbs, evenly coating them, and place them on the hot dosa pan. Spread some oil around the patties, and cook on medium flame till the bottom gets brown and crisp, ensuring that they do not get burnt. Then, flip the patties over, add a little more oil around them, and cook till crisp and brown on the other side. Transfer to a serving plate.
  10. Prepare all the cutlets in a similar manner. Serve hot with hot green chutney, kasundi, tomato ketchup or sauce of your choice.

Notes:

1. Cooking the Bread & Mixed Vegetable Cutlets on a dosa pan ensures that minimal oil is consumed, as against shallow frying in a deeper pan.

2. To make bread crumbs, just tear a few pieces of bread roughly and grind in a mixer. Alternatively, you can use store-bought bread crumbs, too.

3. You can use either whole wheat bread or white bread to make these Bread & Mixed Vegetable Cutlets.

4. Chana masala can be used in place of garam masala, too.

5. Increase or decrease the number of green chillies you use, depending upon how spicy you want the Bread & Mixed Vegetable Cutlets to be.

6. You can add any vegetables of your choice to these cutlets, but the ones I have mentioned above are the usual suspects. These are the veggies that go really well in the making of Bread & Mixed Vegetable Cutlets.

7. Make sure you soak the bread slices for just a second and then immediately drain out all the water from them, before proceeding to add them to the cutlet mixture. Over-soaking of the bread slices or retaining too much water in them will cause the cutlets to get soggy.

8. The above quantities of bread, bread crumbs and vegetables are perfect to get cutlets that are just right – neither too much of veggies nor too much of bread.

9. I prefer cooking these Bread & Mixed Vegetable Cutlets on a dosa pan, but you could deep-fry them too. If you want to deep-fry them, dip the prepared patties in a thin paste of maida or wheat flour and water, then coat evenly with bread crumbs, then proceed to put them in smoking hot oil. Deep fry on medium flame till evenly brown on both sides, ensuring the cutlets don’t get burnt.

10. Crumbled paneer or cheese can be added to the cutlets too. Alternatively, you can garnish the cutlets with grated cheese, just before serving them.

Did you like the recipe? Do tell me in your comments!

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Foodie Monday Blog Hop

This recipe is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. The theme for this week is ‘Eid-Special Recipes’.

I’m also sending this recipe to Fiesta Friday #227. The co-hosts this week are Lizet @ Chipa by the dozen and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

 

Check Out The Summer Menu at Farzi Cafe, UB City!

Farzi Cafe is a name that needs no introduction. The place is, I think, best known for adding quirky twists to ordinary recipes and the dramatic presentation of food. The out-of-the-box plating at Farzi Cafe has been known to titillate – no wonder the dishes here are so widely Instagram-ed and Facebook-ed.

At a recent bloggers’ table, a few of the city’s foodies (including yours truly got a sneak peek into the ongoing Summer Menu at Farzi Cafe’s UB City-Bangalore branch. The Summer Menu includes various exciting new drinks, dishes and desserts, all of them bearing the cafe’s signature off-beat presentation style. I tried out some of the vegetarian and non-alcoholic offerings from the Summer Menu, which will be available for a month or so more. There were a few dishes that I fell in love with, while a few others did not quite tantalise my tastebuds. That said, the presentation of every single thing brought to our table managed to blow me away!

Here is the low-down on the dishes we sampled from the menu and the stars of the show, for me.

Drinks

I absolutely adored the mocktail I chose from the Summer Menu, Litchi Panna Desire, the perfect cross between the tangy aam panna and sweet litchi juice. It was very well done and utterly refreshing, the sweet and sour perfectly balanced. This is one drink I would highly recommend here!

The Strawberry Lemonade, a non-alcoholic mix of strawberry and lemon juice, came a close second. It was beautifully done too, the sweet and sour well balanced and complementing each other perfectly. The drink was quite the beauty too, a pretty pink, presented in a glass with a ‘tail’. 🙂

Top Left: Strawberry Lemonade; Bottom Left: Farzi Rita; Centre: Litchi Panna Desire; Top Right: Chuski Margarita; Bottom Right: Bottle Ka Gin

The Chuski Margarita (a mango margarita served with a desi ice gola), Bottle Ka Gin (a gin-based drink served in a light bulb, with magical effects), and Farzi Rita (a cocktail served in a tall glass shaped like the Eiffel Tower) won full marks for presentation. My fellow foodies were thrilled with these cocktails!

Soup & Appetisers

The Desi Curd Rice Poppers With Smoked Tomato Chutney were simply mind-blowing! What are these, you ask? Well, curd rice coated with batter and deep-fried till crisp and absolutely delicious, served with a gorgeous South Indian-style roasted tomato chutney. Trust me, I don’t like anyone messing with my curd rice – it is soul food for me, and I want it as simple as can be. Farzi Cafe, though, had done a real good job with these poppers – they were super-duper delish! The roasted tomato chutney they were served with was delish, too. Highly recommended!

Top Left: Desi Curd Rice Poppers With Roasted Tomato Chutney; Bottom Left: Harissa-Spiced Paneer Tikka served with Tadka Cream; Right: Curd Rice Tikki Chaat with Dragonfruit Scoops

The Curd Rice Tikki Chaat With Dragonfruit Scoops, another starter that used the good ol’ curd rice, was absolutely gorgeous, too. The curd rice, here, was converted into a delectable chaat, served with pretty scoops of dragon fruit and a beautiful tikki, and the end result was finger-lickingly delish! Again, highly recommended!

Harissa-Spiced Paneer Tikka served with Tadka Cream and Paanch Phoron Paneer Bhurji Tarts were the two starters that were presented next. Both of these were not bad, but weren’t brilliant either. They, sort of, paled in comparison to the two lovely starters we started off with. I fared similarly with the soup we sampled next, an Avocado & Mint Gazpacho served with Jeera Namak Paara – though quite unique and beautifully presented, it was not something my tastebuds relished.

Top Left: Avocado & Mint Gazpacho with Jeera Namak Paara; Bottom Left: Paanch Phoron Paneer Bhurji Tart; Top Right: Black Sesame Chicken Tikka served with Sesame Ash; Bottom Right: Santrewala Chicken Tikka

The Black Sesame Chicken Tikka served with Sesame Ash and Santrewala Chicken Tikka were thoroughly relished by my fellow non-vegetarian diners. I loved the look of both these dishes, too!

Main Course

The Daal Khichdi Risotto With Papad Crisp And Achaari Butter was so very blissful! It was comfort food in the form of a simple and homely arborio rice khichdi, served with achaari spice-infused butter and crunchy papad. If khichdi reminds you of home, too, this is one dish-with-a-twist that you must absolutely try out here!

Top Left: Daal Khichdi Risotto served with Papad Crisp and Achaari Butter; Bottom Left: Andhra Chilli Chicken Thatte Idli served with micro herbs; Right: Charcoal Appam with Paneer Ghee Roast and Podi Dust

It was love at first bite for me with the Charcoal Appam served with Paneer Ghee Roast and Podi Dust. The black appam was fluffy and utterly gorgeous, the ghee roast absolutely heavenly. The cottage cheese was succulent, beautifully spiced, bursting with rich flavours. This you shouldn’t miss out on, at any cost!

I heard wonderful things about the Andhra Chilli Chicken Thatte Idli from my non-vegetarian counterparts, too.

Desserts

I loved the Flourless Chocolate Cake With Tanguery Mousse And Orange Crumb, a perfectly made, super light intense chocolate cake, served with orange-flavoured cream. Brilliant, I say!

The Peanut Butter Mousse Taco with Banana Kulfi & Caramelised Banana did not blow the socks off me, sadly, pretty as it looked. There was a bit too much of peanut butter and banana in there for my liking.

Top Left: Peanut Butter Mousse Taco with Banana Kulfi & Caramelised Banana; Bottom Left: Flourless Chocolate Cake with Tanguery Mousse & Orange Crumb; Right: Feni Nest with Chhena Balls & Flavoured Milk

The Feni Nest With Chhena Balls Served With Flavoured Milk is one of the prettiest desserts I have come across. Shaped like a bird’s nest, this one was so beautiful I resisted digging a spoon into it. I am so very glad I did, though, for it tasted even better! Everything about it was just perfect – the flavoured milk was sinfully rich and gorgeous in taste, complementing perfectly with the soft, soft, soft chhena balls and the feni. Don’t miss this!

In hindsight

I think Farzi Cafe – UB City’s Summer Menu surely is exciting. There are quite a lot of interesting new drinks, dishes and desserts to try out! Do check it out if you are in the vicinity!