Indian Masala Omelette with Happy Eggs

Weekend mornings demand a good breakfast, especially if you have had a tad too much wine on Friday evening 😉

I love making a simple Indian omelette and my dinner guests who stayed with us for the night, last Friday, had to be fed a hearty breakfast before they set out to go home. Like my aai I am obsessed with feeding people and cannot imagine sending off guests on an empty stomach.

Luckily, now that I am part of the Happy Eggs Taste 100 Blogger network a  #happyeggtastemakers, I had 2 boxes of these lovely Happy eggs at home, red onion or the Mumbai pink onion which I buy from my fav Indian-Pakistani grocery store and loads of frozen coriander.

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This is a very basic recipe for the Indian masala omelette- with a bit of twist , added in my me . I also love adding in cheese and bulking it up with ham or sausages which I did for my guests, but hubster is a purist of sorts when it comes to the masala omelettes (read fussy hehehe) and so made 2 huge omelettes , one using the recipe that follows and another with the cheese, sausages and Parma Ham – so… so… so… good !!

Indian Masala Omelette

Serves:2

Ingredients: 

  • 1 medium sized red onion or pink Mumbai onion chopped fine
  • 3 Happy eggs
  • 1 green chillies chopped into fairly large chunky pieces- easy to pick out for the faint hearted!
  • a pinch of turmeric powder
  • 1 /4th  tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped coriander
  • 2 large tbsp butter
  • Salt to taste

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Additional Ingredients to bulk up the omlette:

  • 1 cheese single
  •  2 sausages
  •  2 thin slices of Parma Ham
  •  1 /2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1.5 medium sized red onion.

Adding the garam masala is something I like to do as it gives the omelette a fabulous amped up flavour but feel free to leave that out if you aren’t a fan ,

Method:

  • Finely chop the red onion.
  • Chop the green chilli into fairly big pieces so they can be picked out by those that don’t want to chew on them.
  • Crack the happy eggs into the bowl.
  • Add in the chopped onions, green chilli chopped, red chilli powder, turmeric and salt. Whisk with a fork till the mixture foams and is well aerated , this will give you a beautifully ‘fluffy’ omelette .
  • Then add the chopped coriander and mix again.

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  • I add in the turmeric as it has loads of health benefits – it has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a very strong antioxidant, and our guest who do not consume turmeric on a regular basis loved the idea.
  • Now add in the cheese – torn roughly if it using a cheese single or crushed if using a soft cheese or crumbly cheese, sausages and Parma Ham.Lightly beat the egg mixture once more with a fork to mix well.
  • Place a big pan on medium heat and when it begins to heat up melt the butter.
  • See the photo below – when the butter begins to sizzle and pan resembles what you see in the image then it’s the right time to add the egg mixture.

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  • Move the pan around so that the mixture spreads evenly and cook on a low flame for about 2 minutes .
  • When the omelette leaves the sides of the pan ,slightly lift it with a wooden spatula and check , if it has browned it’s time to FLIP ,  you can tell by the aroma wafting around too.6-IMG_9200 (Copy)
  • With a big wooden spatula gently flip over and cook on the other side, I place a lid over my pan at this stage to trap the steam and it also gives me a really fluffy omelette, of course it will fall flat if you don’t serve immediately.
  • Once done, turn off the heat and cut in half using a wooden spatula. Fold and place in between hot buttered toast for a fabulous breakfast.

An Indian masala omelette,served at breakfast with hot buttered toast and hot cups of masala chai , I think is a breakfast fit for a king – Made better with Happy Eggs I say!

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I am so egg-cited to be part Happy Eggs Taste 100 Blogger network, they  sent  me this beautifully packaged cute box with a massive chocolate cookie made using Happy Eggs and a lovely picture of the latest campaign – Top of The Flocks – where Happy Eggs produced an original album of classical music following a study by the University of Bristol looking at the positive benefits of music on hens.The results showed that Happy Hens prefer Bach to Beyonce – they have refined taste these hens! Happy Hens produced 6% more eggs in nest boxes playing classical music compared to pop! Awesome or what?! – always good to know where your eggs are coming from isn’t it?!

Ahem… as you can that by the time I actually got around to taking a photo of the welcome kit , hubster and me had managed to devour most of the cookie …well , don’t blame us  – it was soo yum!

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*With thanks to Happy Eggs for taking me on as part of their Exclusive Blogger Network and  for a complimentary voucher sent with their cute welcome pack . No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review. As always all opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

Lunch at Le Porte des Indes – a review

Influence of the British Raj on India,its culture and their indelible influence on the railways , architecture and the many places of tourist interest is common knowledge but India was also ruled by Mughals,the Portuguese,the French and the Dutch. Each of these colonies bear distinct stamps of a deep-rooted influence especially on the food with some beautiful foods that have become a part of the local community and recipes developed by such confluence of are not only brilliant in taste but also a mixture of flavours that otherwise would not have been combined.

I had heard so much about Le Porte des Indes and Chef Mehernosh Mody who has been awarded Ethnic Chef of Year 2012 at the Craft Guilds of Chefs Awards for people who pay attention to things like that.So when Fiona who blogs at London Unattached asked me to accompany her for a lunch at Le Porte des Indes it was an offer too tempting to pass up!

Le Porte des Indes  literally means Gateway to India .The decor is warm and welcoming and I felt was in some old,Indian palace with intricate wood carvings ,huge artefacts, paintings especially replicas of Raja Ravi Verma’s magnificent originals and stone statutes which reminded of the ones at khajuraho.Indoor plants similar to ones I would see probably at The Taj Hotel in Mumbai, India lots of wooden statues of Lord Ganesha too.

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We started by ordering some drinks I ordered for a Tamarind Martini while Fiona ordered some  white wine.My gin,tamarind and limoncello martini came adorned with a slice of Star Fruit on the side .The sight of the star fruit took me back to my college days when my friends and me , about ten of us would get off the train and trade  the crowded bus journey on way back from school and walk home instead on the dusty footpath – our treat for walking, a tangy snack packed in an old newspaper sold by a haath – gaadi or hand cart street food vendor which included roasted peanuts in shells, tamarind -imli and star fruit slices sprinkled with chilli powder and topped with a squeeze of lime – very ,very tangy but totally fun. On a good day when we had some extra change between us we would follow this up with a fizzy drink from a small shanty opposite the gates of the IIT,Mumbai campus mummm – simple pleasures. Seems so far away now and I only ever see my friends on Facebook and comment on old scanned photographs 🙂

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I fell in love with the beautiful cutlery and the copper plate sighh…

Our starter was Demoiselles de Pondiche’ry – seared king scallops with a hint of garlic in a delicious saffron sauce –  succulent and morish…

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The cuisine is a mix of  French,Tamil and Creole influences and lots of fusion recipes using the chefs imagination.

Next up was a platter of starters with kebabs and a fish called ”Patra ni Machi” or Parsee fish (Patra – leaf , Macchi – fish) this divine fish was made using fillets of sole encased in a mint and coriander chutney steamed in a banana leaf.I remember eating this fish at a Parsee friends wedding feat in Bombay 5 years ago and it had green chillies in a generous amount in the green chutney.There was a mild hint of chilli in our fish ,just perfect, excellent in fact and I could have made more,no wonder this is Chef Mehernosh Mody’s speciality. The other starters on our platter  were Kathi kebabs – spiced lamb kebabs rolled in an egg served with a dark fruity chutney. Murgh Malai Kebabs – tandoori grilled chicken tikkas marinated in a creamy cheese sauce with spices.A twist on the usual onion and potato pakoras we ate Chard Pakoras – red and green chard rolled in gram flour, green chillies,coriander, turmeric and caraway seeds and  fried crisp – very tasty!All this served with  Garlic and Coriander Naan.

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In the picture about L-R :Murgh Malai Kebabs,Parsee fish,Chard Pakoras and in the middle Kathi kebabs.Peaking on the right side corner is a rice cracker with a roughly ground green chilli chutney with a cooling  yoghurt and saffron dip.

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In the picture above is the Pomegranate Raita -Natural yoghurt with pomegranate, a touch of cumin and paprika.We then ate this most perfectly cooked white fish in a rich tamarind sauce steamed in a banana leaf – pure pleasure.

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For our mains we got a large assortment of dishes served Basmati Saffron Pillav Rice, Seed Naan and Red Rice– Steamed organic red rice.

L -R in the photo of our mains platter below:

Tandoori Barra Chops: British Lamb Chops Char-grilled with cinnamon, cardamom and cloves finished with caramelised onions -everything you expect from a tandoori lamb really  – smoky,soft,packed with flavour and juicy ,falling off the bone.Prawn Assadh curry as it is made in Pondicherry with turmeric,ginger, green chillies,coconut, mustard seeds and green mangoes – so creamy and delicious we couldn’t get enough of it scooping it off our plate with our  naan stuffed with spiced lamb.Poulet Rouge, spécialité de notre maison  is a gallic inspired dish – Chicken Slices marinated in yoghurt and red spices, grilled and served in a creamy sauce. Rougail d’ Aubergine: Smoked aubergine crushed with red chilli, ginger and green lime also called  Baingan ka bharta in Hindi.I was most delighted to find we had a portion of  mutton – it is not easy to get goat’s meat locally and this Mutton Braised home style as in Pondicherry with robust spices and laced with coconut milk was a delicious curry with the mutton having soaked up all the flavours of the spices .With the Saffron rice it was very good.Chef Mehernosh Mody also let us in who his regular suppliers who he told us are all local British producers.

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We also had a  selection of chutneys to go with the naan.Though I was stuffed I was hoping I could manage to have some dessert. After all a grand meal like this is not complete without some Indian sweets!;)

Fiona had to leave in a hurry and only managed to taste some the many treats on our mixed dessert platters.

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L-R : Frozen dessert – Rose flavoured kulfi -the indian home-made ice cream with no artificial flavourings or stabilizers, made using  Jersey & Guernsey Milk with pistachios ,followed by a mini chocolate filled samosa – thin pastry stuffed with chocolate and deep-fried ,Belgian Dark Chocolate Mousse(55% Cocoa Solids)  served in traditional leaf cup – in India its is common practice to serve desserts in a dried leaf folded into the shape of a cup especially at large public gatherings like the Sarvjanik Ganpati Festival and during Navratris – these are bio-degradable and much better option over plastic or foam cups, a fruit tart and a slice of mango carved artistically.

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Chef Mehernosh Mody then took me on a tour of the premises .There is so much room for big parties in the Maharajah room which is very tastefully done up antique Indian artifacts, the Shamiana perfect for weddings and a lovely,a fully private big dining room with French colonial decor  for corporate lunches too.If that is not enough there’s a Jungle Bar complete with cane furniture ,palm trees and tiger skin rugs so while you sip on a tropical signature cocktail called Karma which has – oh yes coconut juice and vodka, you can pretend your on the beautiful shores of Pondicherry ne Puducherry with pristine beaches of blue water and warm silky sand and are about to set  off  for a hunting expedition in a while with your buddies! Did you know that Puducherry meaning New Town is also referred to as ”The French Riviera of the East”? 

That’s not the talented Chef  Mody also conducts live cooking classes in the restaurant where the chef and his team unravel the mysteries of Indian cooking , explain the intricacies of the spices and how to cook a great Indian Meal – fab idea for team building exercise I say where you actually eat the fruits of your labour!

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The Beautiful dome of the former Edwardian ballroom this adds to the grandeur of the place.

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One of the private dining rooms, notice the beautiful statues at the back? 🙂

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At the Jungle Bar it was common practise for patrons to throw peanut shells across the floor and then walk all over them on crunching shells!Fun I say.

For the images of the dome, the private dinning room and Jungle bar – Image Courtesy -Le Porte des Indes

Disclaimer: With many thanks to Chef Mehernosh Mody, the attentive team at Le Porte des Indes and Fiona. I was not required to write a positive review and was not compensated monetarily for this post.Like all my previous posts about events and reviews, ALL opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

“Find the menu on Zomato and follow me on Zomato ”

La Porte Des Indes on Urbanspoon

Square Meal

Vangyache Bharit- वांग्याचे भरीत (Baingan ka Bharta) (Smoked Aubergine)

I have noticed that I have become a bit more inclined towards celebrating festivals after coming to London , maybe its out of being homesick during festive times and also to ensure that I remember the traditions involved I guess. ‘Makar Sankrant’ is  a Hindu festival celebrated by my community ”Maharashtrains” with great pomp and enthusiasm as it heralds the season of Harvest. Similar to this festival is Lohri which is celebrated by the Punjabis in the North of India, Pongal in the state of Tamil Nadu , Uttaryan in the state of Gujrat. One festival so many names and so varied ways of celebrating! Its not only in India that this festival is celebrated it’s also welcomed in Nepal, Sri Lanka ,Cambodia and Laos amongst others!

My mother always used to make a smoked aubergine vegetable dish called Vangyache Bharit – written in Marathi as – वांग्याचे भरीत on Makar Sankrant so I decided to make it too for Sankrant this year which was on the 14th of Jan’14. We also exchange small ladoos made of sesame seeds and jaggery called ”Tilache Ladoo” and wish each other by saying ”tilgul ghya god god bola” (तिळगुळ घ्या गोड गोड बोला) It means that we shall forget and forgive any past bitter exchange of words and start afresh with this sweet offering and only speak sweet words of love.

The recipe is modified in various regions of the state of Maharashtra and also the variety of vanga/eggplant/aubergine or brinjal as we know it in urban India, is different in various parts of the state and in various states of India, of course differing due to climate and soil .Aai ( meaning Mother in Marathi language – my mother tongue) always looked for the light green vanga or eggplant with white stripes  on its skin which she rightly said tastes way better than its darker purple skinned cousin.

Aai’s recipe which I will share now is how we have always made this dish at home. There are several variations and styles depending on which part of Maharashtra you hail from and also various sub-cultures and availability of local ingredients and palates.I guess what makes this recipe so special is that it brings back happy memories of childhood, festivity ,celebration and the unmistakable smoky and rich vanga (eggplant/aubergine) taste with the crunchy red onion and a slap of hot spicy green chilli mixed in between ,all balanced so well with the various masalas that go into this bharit ummm!

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Image Credit click here 

Serves:2 -as a main with chapatya(Marathi for Indian Naan Bread also called chapatis in Hindi)

Preparation Time :15 minutes

Cooking Time:25minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 large vanga/baingan/eggplant/aubergine
  • 1 large red onion
  • 2-3 green chillies
  • 5-6 large cloves of garlic
  • a few mustard seeds
  • Cumin/Jeera
  • Garam Masala – 2 heaped tsps
  • Salt to taste
  • A pinch of hing/asafoetida
  • Turmeric – 1.5 tsp
  • Red chilli powder – 1.5 tsp
  • Oil – 3-4 large tbsps
  • Coriander/Cilantro to garnish

Method:

  • The beauty of this dish lies in the deep and rich smoky flavour of the eggplant , I would love to use charcoals and do this bit on a open rustic fire but well I make do with my hob.You could use the oven  but it will take much longer but directly on the hob – though a bit messy , it’s quicker! Roast the eggplant completely turning it on the side and moving it up an down so you don’t miss any bits.

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  • Allow this to cool and then charred skin will come off easily.

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  • Mash with your hands in a smooth mass of soft cooked ,smoked eggplant.

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  • While the eggplant is smoking on the hob , finely chop one large red onion.
  • Skin the garlic and use a mortar pestel to smash the green chillies with the garlic
  • In a  dry saucepan ,add the oil and after it is hot , add a pinch of hing/ asafoetida  and mustard seeds , as the mustard seeds begin to pop add the cumin seeds and the garam masala powder and  the finely chopped red onion and stir it often till it turns colour and is still crunchy to taste.

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  • Now add the turmeric and red chilli powder
  • Then stir in the ”thecha”(Marathi for the green chilli and garlic mixture) and saute’ till the raw garlic becomes one with the mixture.Vary the green chillies depending on your personal tolerance of heat
  • Reduce the flame to a low and add the eggplant mash into this mixture and stir well so as to ensure equal distribution of the onion and all other flavours.
  • Cook with lid for under 5 minutes.
  • Garnish with finely chopped coriander/cilantro.
  • Serve with hot chapatya or steamed rice and dal.
  • We also enjoy this cold , cool the dish completely and serve with a generous helping of set curd/yogurt.
  • My aai didn’t add tomatoes to this and at times used some goda masala as well as it has dry grated coconut which can really alter the taste.
  • For Baingan Bharta add one finely chopped tomato as well after the onion has been fried.

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I found some very interesting variations to my recipe here are a few :

  1. For a recipe using Tamarind try this 
  2. For beautiful photos and an open air fire used to smoke the eggplant see this
  3. For a recipe using freshly grated coconut try this

I am adding this recipe into the Made with Love Mondays blog link love started and hosted by the lovely Mark aka Javelin Warrior – very interesting to read how that name came about !

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Just linked up to In my Veg box with Onions as the theme for April’2014 hosted by Tina who blogs at The Spicy Pear and created by Nayna who blogs at Simply.Food and CitrusSpice . I wasn’t able to download the logo for April but here’s a general logo that Nayna uses.

 

 

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Egg Curry/Anda Curry/अण्डा कारी from my college days

Egg curry and soft paav or square buns are the most common hostel food that one can make with a saucepan,some eggs and a few basic ingredients.It is hugely popular as a filling,tasty curry and there are as many variations as the imagination, ones budget and availability of ingredients on a particular day will allow 🙂

This version is what I always make and is sort of derivative of what would be made in the North of India.I sometimes like to make it into a coastal flavoured one by adding fresh grated coconut but that’s only if I want to make it posh but that’s very, very rare. After all this is a quick ,save the evening sort of curry!

It’s National Curry Week and it’s wonderful to see how Britain has embraced an Indian food habit and made it, its own over the years, spinning off British Indian versions of popular Indian home cooked curries.

I wanted to start of my posts for National Curry week with this one because of how easy it is to make and a great recipe for students everywhere 🙂

Serves:2

Total Preparation Time :20 Minutes

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs and use the same proportion of 2 eggs per person to scale up (for very hungry fells the more the merrier 😉
  • 2 medium-sized red onion finely chopped
  • 2 medium-sized tomatoes
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 heaped tsp garam masala
  • 1 heaped tsp cumin powder
  • 1 heaped tsp coriander powder
  • 2 green chillies
  • 1 tsp ginger paste
  • fresh coriander to garnish
  • 1 clove of garlic finely chopped
  • a pinch of asafoetida
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil – it’s easier on my conscience , use any oil or butter or ghee in dire straits!

Method:

  1. Boil the eggs in an open saucepan and leave aside to cool
  2. Roast the chopped red onion on a saucepan and spritz it in the mixer with the chopped tomatoes and green chillies.(If you want a coastal touch add 2 tbsp of fresh grated coconut in this mixture and puree it together,ensure to use atleast 3 finely chopped garlic in the pan as they set of the taste of fresh coconut beautifully)
  3. In a saucepan heat the oil and add a pinch of asafoetida,then add the chopped garlic and roast till it’s a light brown ,then add the ginger paste,turmeric,red chilli powder,garam masala,coriander and cumin powders.
  4.  Stir in the onion and tomato puree.
  5. Cook on a low flame for 2 minutes.
  6. Then add some water to make a gravy like consistency and ad the boiled, peeled eggs after cutting them in half, add salt and cook for a further 5 – 6 minutes.
  7. Serve with hot chapartis/naan bread,paav,soft fresh wholemeal bread or with steaming hot boiled white rice – to make the rice taste heavenly drop a blob of butter, the steam trapped in the grains of rice will melt the butter into a golden pool of gooey goodness – pour the egg curry into this and enjoy the best and simple pleasures of curry!

Anda Curry

Looking for a Curry Recipe? You might also like:

Irani Bakeries Still Soldiering On

Guest Post by Mrinal Kulkarni who blogs at Retro-Reflections.

Since childhood bakeries have held a special fascination.The exotic and delicious goodies displayed in the glass counters and shelves often led me to press my face against its glass  to peer even more closely.Not to mention the whiff and aroma of freshly baked bread and rolls further tantalizing the pallette. To own a bakery then became a childhood  dream.Though I knew that could never be, visiting one was on my daily agenda .

Living in colonial cities like  Bombay,Coonoor, Wellington, Madras and up  north  in the hills of Musoorie and Shimla through the 50’s,60’s and the 70’s saw a plethora of bakeries almost around every street corner.Each one having  a special quality of its own.

Finally settling down in Bombay and  during my growing years I  perceived bakeries in a different light.Living in a suburb,the area was practically surrounded by at least five to six  bakeries.But these bakeries were different with cafes attached.They belonged to the Iranis who did a brisk business throughout the day and late into the night. Their  method of working, the fare they offered, the ambiance that was created around them made it so popular especially the simplicity sans any  frills. Some of these bakeries had  two sections – a  variety of breads—pau, whole sliced  bread,bun and  brun pau and  bakery products like mawa cakes,cream rolls and the other section was a tea space  with grayish white marble-topped square tables and black chairs against a backdrop of dark brown glass cupboards stacked with different utilities like groceries (the range which expanded over the years). The walls were often adorned with pictures of old Bombay or English countryside. These small joints  eventually began to be known as cafes.These  small  café spaces or little tea and cake joints were in existence for a long time. They excluded an old world charm.Daily samplings soon became a regular  feature for  tongue tickling treats and a place easily accessible and affordable for all.The goodies were not eye-catching nor were they colourful but tasty and tantalizing.The entire aura around these little cafés  was alive and buzzing  which attracted attention of any passerby.The high-and  low-pitched voices of the Irani owner giving orders, the chatter of the Irani errand boys executing  the orders, the clatter of crockery and a general bonhomie that went with it was just as alluring and endearing as to what they were serving.Whiffs and aromas of all kinds made you want to sit around (literally in a no-time bound frame of mind) soaking in the milieu and drinking endless cups of sweet mana——the Irani  chai.

The bakeries were owned by Iranis who  migrated to India,from Iran  to Surat,a flourishing commercial city on the west coast of India, in search of some lucrative  enterprise.They came to India in the late 19th century.Most of them who migrated were not well versed in the literary sense  but possessed astute business sense  and were  proficient  in the business of baking – as  this was their traditional business and the only enterprise they understood.Soon they set up Irani cafes all over the city which  became synonymous with the city’s landscape. A unique feature of an Irani café was that many of them were situated at corner of the street.It is believed they acquired these corner spaces as the Hindu shop-owners were superstitious about setting their own shops there as they felt it would not prosper.

As mentioned earlier one could, or rather one wanted to  linger on in the café for hours.It served as a meeting  place for some,an appropriate setting for both serious political and social discussion for others and leisurely conversation for all and sundry.This space cut across all classes and community.The sweet and delicious hot cuppa-dunked with the typical Irani khari (a buttery and subtly flavoured light flaky biscuit which almost disintegrated  before you could put your mouth to it) was and still is to die for….

The word “Irani” conjures images of old-fashioned  bakeries,wine shops, restaurants and its delicious fare with their typical names——the ubiquitous maska pau (thick yellow butter slathered on a small round of fresh bread, the pau,the origin which dates back to the time of the Portuguese who first introduced this now hugely popular bread in India, particularly Bombay.These cafes, bakeries and restaurants have evolved over the years, introducing several other items on their menu. Khari chai and bhurji, mawa cakes to name a few. At one time almost half the Irani population in the metropolis was  involved in  running of these enterprises (a tradition dating back to almost 100 years) which at one time thrived but now facing stiff competition from modern type of bakeries and deli.The famous Irani bakeries which were one of the famous landmarks of Bombay and visible at strategic corners in most suburbs are practically non-existent except for a few which are trying to be a bit more aggressive  to compete with the modern cafes. However,today the baking process too has changed — all traditional breads baked in wood fire ovens have been replaced with modern energy efficient ovens.

This article besides highlighting their popularity  takes a look at the  plight of the existing bakeries which still occupy certain pockets of the city and are still popular among young and the old who still want their usual fare of  brun maska or khari and chai to drink at leisure and watch the world go by.

What makes these Irani bakeries tick? Obviously its mouth-watering fare – the brun maska (a hard round bun which is oh so soft inside  which when you cut when hot and slather blobs of  butter and dip it in tea is sure to leave a slick of melted butter on the surface –that’s the way its supposed to be eaten. Have it with kheema(minced meat),scrambled eggs with green chillies onions and tomato (akoori) or plain fruit jam , it delicious all the same.Each café puts up its own menu of the day but brun maska, mawa cakes and khari are  constant.

The bread making process  in Iran goes a long way back.Even before the  Iranis migrated to the city of dreams, bread making  in Iran was a traditional process; bread was prepared and baked at home in special ovens.The practice is still carried out in most villages.Each bakery specializes in a special kind of bread and they do not bake other kinds of bread simultaneously. Irani breads are of a wide variety. Barbari  made of white flour is thick and popular among the Turkish people . It is a specially type of leavened bread that seems to have been introduced in Iran fairly recently like the  European style bread. It  is  a long  narrow loaf about 2 to 3 ft long  inch thick and 2-3 ft long and 8-12” wide. It is separated before baking to give it an added crispness and is sprinkled with sesame seeds. It needs to be eaten soon after baking as it becomes stale quickly and is often used as breakfast bread.  La vash made of white flour is thin and several lavash are enough for one person, is of Armenian origin. Sangak is also thin but made from brown flour. It gets its name from the process of baking it on a bed of heated pebbles instead of the wall of the oven , which gives bread a very crisp and irregularly surfaced texture.

Barbari Bread

Image – Courtesy Iranian.com – Barbari bread

La Vash

Image -credit Wiki – La Vash Bread

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Image credit Wiki – La Vash bread stacks

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Image credit Wiki – Sangak

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Image credit Wiki – Sangak goes into a hot oven

Taftoon or Taftun is made from white flour and is thin but oval in shape.Taftoon and La vash  are baked thin against the wall of the oven and differ primarily in the type of wheat (whole wheat or white) is used to make them.

La vash is very soft. In rural areas many families bake their own bread on a weekly basis and produce a hard La vash which is softened at the time of use by sprinkling a little water on it.

Naan In Iran is a kind of flat bread which is brought directly from the bakers who are called naanva i.e. a naan baker.

Acorn bread was made in ancient Iran. A small bread oven and the remains of acorns were discovered by archaeologists in Iran to conclude that ancient Iranis did bake bread using acorn flour, over 3000 years ago.The Ayapir cultural heritage team found almost 40 kinds of plants species at the ancient site of Izeh in Khuzestan Province, Iran , a dig carried out prior to the rising waters of the reservoir of Karun 3 dam.

To quote Hajir Kiani, the head of the team, “the acorns’ resistance to the elements made it an important foodstuff for the local people. Different parts of the oak tree such as fruits and leaves were used as food and medicinal purposes . The tools found in the mountains when compared to tools found in the present day nomads of the region prove that the baking method  has been almost the same for the past 3000 years.

The Bakhtiari nomads who currently live in the region grinding acorns with a grindstone, then put it inside a basket made of thin branches of the almond tree and put the basket in the stream for about a week. This helped to remove the bitter taste of the acorns.The acorns expand and gradually turn into dough within a week. The only thing to do is to pick up a handful of dough , knead it well and put it on the fire to bake”.

Religiously speaking, bread is treated with so much respect among the Iranians. Muslims are taught to avoid dropping bread on the floor or under feet or dumping it in a disrespectful place.Unused bread is used as feed for birds.

The type and quantity of bread found in the Iranian meals can to some extent be understood as an artifact of traditional dinning habits. During earlier times , the custom was to sit on the floor , a large cloth called sofrah would be spread out and the bowls and platters containing the various dishes put on it. Formerly, there were no plates and cutlery instead thin sheets of flat bread served as plates and for eating from utensils or for  scooping  up morsels of food. The art of fine dinning and etiquette was absent. It was only  under European influence ,use of tables and chairs forks and spoons became common especially in urban areas. These have been described in detail by European travelers who came to Iran.

Grain crops such as wheat and barley are well-suited for cultivation in the arable areas of the Iranian plateau and have been growing there since ancient times . Wheat was used to make a variety of breads that form part of the daily diet. In towns and cities , it is customary to buy bread freshly made from one of the many neighbourhood artisanal bakeries. That is why bakeries cook their bread three times a day, early morning, noon and in the evening . Scenes of crowded bakeries at this time is very common. Since most of the people come to buy bread at the same time, bakeries have long queues at rush hours and families prefer to send male members especially teenagers to buy bread.

 Iranian cafes and bakeries started by the Iranian immigrants in the 19th century  provided cheap food and good company in a leisurely setting.

After coming to India, the Irani bakeries modified their typical Irani bread to suit the taste buds of the Indians as well as specialize in a whole range of eats from garlic bread, shrewsberry biscuits, mawa cakes and to the bun maska and brun maska fare ( a bun or crusty bread sliced horizontally and generously slathered with butter dunked in paani kum chai (strong milky tea) which is usually eaten in the bakery itself  either standing near the entrance or some bakeries do provide for a small tea space where a few chairs and tables are laid . This is usually a quick fare which is satisfying and wholesome.Those cafes with ample  space provide full meals of  akoori on toast ,chicken/mutton patties, kheema pao, lagaan nu custard, falooda (chilled milk with rose syrup, vermicelli and basil seeds).

Honest to a fault the Iranis believe in offering good value for money but have lost ground in the bakery business due to the northerners taking over bakery business.Today the bread is baked elsewhere and through contract.The owners are totally dependent on the delivery.

Living near a Irani café,I  have had several opportunities to meet the owners and understand their problems and methods of survival. It has been a fascinating journey for them when they set out but a hard struggle now and yet they are popular. Often Sunday morning with its  special menu like kheema rice and mutton biryani, long queues are seen.Is this a sign of survival  if so how many more years. The second and third generation of owners certainly do not want to be behind counters.They want to explore the whole wide world  like their counterparts. Will they succeed or come right back into the business,one doesn’t know.

Interview with some Irani owners just might reveal  whats on their mind. So look out for the next read on the Irani cafes and their owners.

 Mrinal blogs at retro-reflections.

 

Pomfret Fish Curry – Flavours of Konkan and a Bengali Bhaja with spring onions and potatoes

When anyone asks me what I would like as my LAST meal,I always say I’d like some fried pomfret so naturally when I go Indian grocery shopping I always check for this fish. Though I must admit, nothing beats the flavours one gets from fresh fish.But well just have to make do with frozen fish as the one I love is a Pomfret local to waters of the Indian Ocean.

This is a relatively simple recipe and does not require much effort but the marination is key as it can really give depth of flavour which is what we need.

I had 3 of these beauties to cook and couldn’t resist getting them to pose for my camera all dressed with the dangerously delicious spices that I rubbed into the fillets.

Pomfret with all the spices that are used in the curry.

Serves: 4 (with rice and a vegetable dish included)

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium sized white pomfret
  • 2 large tbsp coriander and green chilli paste
  • 1 tsp  of ginger garlic paste
  • 1 1/2 tsp Red Chilli powder
  •  1 tsp Turmeric
  • 3 -4 cloves of garlic cloves with skin on
  • 2 tbsp grated coconut
  • a pinch of Asafoetida/Hing to dust into the oil
  • 2 tbsp refined oil
  • Juice of 1/4th of a lime
  • Salt to taste

Method:

Ok it’s relatively easy making fillets after this fish has thawed thoroughly as it has very few bones, I like to remove the bit in the front with the eyes and the tail and also remove the fins then make fillets the size fit for a curry or fry.

  • Wash thoroughly and marinate with red chilli powder, turmeric,salt ,ginger- garlic paste,coriander- green chilli paste and set aside for at least 40 minutes.
  • After the marination is done,heat oil in a saucepan,add asafoetida just a tiny spritz and throw in the crushed garlic cloves with their skins on and as they start to brown add the marinated fish n toss it around for about half a minute.
  • Add enough water to cover the fish and cook on a low flame.
  • As the water begins to boil add in the finely grated fresh coconut and stir in well till the curry is nice and thick.
  • Simmer till the fish is cooked and squeeze the lime into it.
  • Serve with steaming hot rice and allow yourself to enjoy this simple yet classic fish curry, an everyday fare in the houses along the coast of Konkan and a great treat in ours.

These beautiful flowers are on stalks of fresh spring onion!! Unexpected, I know right?!! My ma (in-law) very patiently chopped these stalks, created this cute little spring onion floral display and the whole idea of this photograph with books we are currently reading is hers.

Spring Onion Bouquet

I was so excited to see them and had to buy myself two bunches and look for a Bengali Bhaja or bhaji (Marathi) sabji/sabzee (Hindi).Found a lovely food blog called Hamaree Rasoi and you can read the recipe here.

Peyajkoli Batata bhaja

Spring Onion and Potato Bhaji

Needless to say the meal was supremely satisfying and we all slept with gentle snoring now and then …tmi- oh yes totally 😉

Pomfret curry with steamed rice and pejaykoli bhaja

Pomegranate Chicken Curry using Chobani Yogurt

For my next recipe using Chobani Yogurt, I made a spicy chicken curry  main dish, the curry can be made less spicy as per taste by reducing the quantity of red chilli powder and garam masala used.

I have used Chobani Pomegranate Yogurt as it lends a subtle but noticeable tangy twist on the palate.

Serves: 2

Prep Time: 35 minutes including the chopping and slaving bit

You will need:

  • 4 chicken breast fillets chopped into chunks which are curry pieces, yet not totally bite sized.
  • 2 large tablespoons Chobani Pomegranate yogurt
  • 1 large green chilli chopped into big pieces
  • 1 large red spicy red chilli chopped into big pieces
  • Salt to Taste
  • 1 tsp Turmeric powder
  • 2  heaped tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp Garam Masala
  • A pinch of Pepper powder
  • 2 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 3 small red onions finely chopped
  • 1 heaped tsp fresh ginger garlic paste

Method:

  • Heat a sauce on a medium flame and add 2 large tablespoons of sunflower oil
  • Sautee the chopped onions and the ginger garlic paste till the onion changes colour
  • Then add the chicken pieces and reduce the flame , when the chicken changes colour reduce the flame to the bare minimum and stir in the Pomegranate favoured Chobani yogurt. Do this before the chicken begins to cook to run juices as at that stage the yogurt will not be able to lend it flavours to the cooked meat.
  • Then add in this order the red chilli powder, the chopped red and green chillies, the garam masala and the pepper powder, mix well and stir ,then add enough water for the chicken to cook and to allow for some thick gravy . Add just enough or else much will dilute the whole curry and make it will become one big mess- just in case it does, take a deep breath and add 2 small completely boiled or 1 medium-sized potato mashed well into the curry ,it will soak up the excess water but then one needs to adjust the salt and red chilli proportion as well.
  • Now add the salt and mix well. Adding salt before the rest of the ingredients somehow alters taste to a large extent. Cook the chicken on a low flame with lid on checking occasionally and stirring as well. Yes one needs to fawn over the pot like one would over a pesky but adorable toddler. Humm, well now this should cook fairly quickly, check by jabbing a piece of chicken with a blunt knife.
  • I choose to serve this Pomegranate Chicken with boiled basmati rice cooked with garden fresh green peas.
  • Serve with some red onion by the side and freshly chopped coriander (cilantro) for that fresh and tasty garnish.
  • Serving suggestion – serve with boiled basmati peas pilaf/pulav/poolav lightly flavoured with cinnamon and bay leaves – again made with just a tiny drop of oil to sautee the bay leaf and cumin seeds.So good ummm

Chobani Pomegranate

 

 

 

Pomegranate Chicken - Chobani

Sunday Special Lunch – A Family Tradition

What a Sunday Roast is to a traditional English Family Sunday Lunch is what the combination of Spicy Chicken Gravy and Jeera rice or layered Chicken Biryani is to my family . My sister and me have grown up eating these divine yet simple dishes prepared with great passion and with great efforts by my parents.Almost all the  ingredients were freshly procured on Sunday morning and accompanying my dad to get the chicken was part of the whole excitement for me . It was my mum’s way of getting me out of her hair is what I learned years later 🙂

Last year when my husband and me decided to move to London , I was super delighted when my parents visited a few months later. My parents had promised they would cook us their Sunday special and  my hubby would  watch and learn they created these dishes.

I shall start with my personal favourite Chicken in thick gravy and Jeera Rice ,followed by Layered Chicken Biryani in the next blog post. Hope you will enjoy cooking up these yummies and creating happy family memories of your own.

Chicken in thick gravy-Ingredient List:

  1.  Medium sized Chicken cut and deskined, usually available at any good butcher shop , ask for pieces suitable for a curry.
  2. 3 medium sized tomatoes and 4 red onions pureed together
  3. 1 Large bunch of coriander and 2 long green chillies pureed.
  4. Oil
  5. Turmeric Powder
  6. Red Chilli Powder
  7. Garam Masala
  8. handful of finely pureed grated fresh coconut
  9. Ginger Garlic Paste
  10. Finely Chopped coriander to garnish

Method:

  1. Wash the chicken pieces and marinate with a large spoonful of red chilli powder and turmeric, a generous blob of ginger garlic paste ,sat and some puree of the coriander and chilli paste.
  2. Take a large vessel and on a medium  add oil, when it is hot add the onion- tomato puree and sautee it till the colour turns a dark pink , add some ginger garlic paste ,salt , turmeric and 2 large spoons of garam masala.
  3. Then add the grated coconut puree and remaining coriander and chilly paste.
  4. Saute well and then add the marinated chicken .
  5. Add enough water to cover the pieces and enough to ensure good amount of gravy.
  6. Pressure cook for 3 whistles in a pressure cooker.
  7. Serve hot with steaming hot jeera rice and cucumber curd mix to balance off the heat.

As you will notice most ingredients are not accurately measured as would in a cake recipe , that’s because baking is really an exact science whereas curries especially this one function on judgement , it gets better with time , trust me , I have grown up eating this one 🙂