Radha Krishna Bhavan – Tooting , a review

On a dreary Saturday afternoon a few weeks ago after my weekly Indian shop form Dadu’s at Tooting, not feeling particularly in the mood to cook , we walked into Radha Krishna Bhavan for an early lunch . The place was open and barring one table we could pick and choose where to sit , unusual for a Saturday afternoon , little did I know that minutes later the place would be buzzing with activity.

 

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This is a sea food lovers heaven with authentic ,well balanced south Indian cuisine. We ordered a starter of spicy Vadas – flat, fried lentil dough spiced with green chillies and onion , this was crunchy and delicious and just the thing needed on a boring Saturday afternoon when the weather was playing traunt ! (£2.95)

 

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The first thing I noticed was the many sticker on the glass outside with various ratings from the Good Food Guide, Square Meal etc  and a bright yellow mini menu saying ”3 courses for just £5.95′ ! Super ! That definitely drew us in.

 

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But we decided to go a la Carte and ordered for some Kerala Fried Rice (£4.50)and Kerala Fish curry (£7.50) .The fish curry was yum but the portion size was a bit small to share , same with the rice and we found the rice had more than a generous use of oil but it was delicious all the same.

 

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Hungry for more we decided to experiment with some Vellappam – a pancake made of fermented rice with ground coconut and coconut milk with a  lacy egg like appearance . These were light yet  filling and 2 panckakes per dish came with the curry at a combined price (£7.95 ) .The pancakes were mopped up with the accompanying  curry –  a spicy King Fish Malabar.

 

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With no room left for dessert after this we decided to skip and just get ice lollies on our way home 😉

 

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I’d definitely recommend you visit Radha Krishna Bhavan if you are looking for delicious and authentic  flavours of South India at budget rates in a clean , welcoming atmosphere with quick service head (opposite Sainsburys on Tooting High Street)

 

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*This review was written by me of my own accord . I bore the expense of this meal. All views  expressed as always are my own and no monetary compensation of any sort by provided to me by either the restaurant or any other third party.All opinions expressed are valid for this particular visit .

Uni brings Nikkei Cuisine to Victoria

The largest Japanese settlement outside of Japan is in Peru and the unique fusion cuisine that is Japanese Peruvian is called Nikkei.Fiona invited me to accompany this time to discover Nikkei , she is an award-winning freelance writer and marketing consultant who currently writes about travel and London lifestyle for a number of publications and runs her own London lifestyle blog called London Unattached.

So it was a bright summer Monday afternoon that I trooped in Uni (the Japanese word for the sea urchin, a Japanese delicacy) restaurant and sushi bar designed by Andrew Martin, in Belgravia minutes away from the travel hub that is Victoria station.

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I was shown to a cosy table downstairs.

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For starters I got some steamed edamame with a spicy chilli and garlic sauce (£4.50) and some refreshing green tea served in a typical cast iron heavy pot which I would love to have as part of my growing food prop collection which now occupies every corner or of our tiny rental flat much to the chagrin of my hubby – I guess the last straw was trying to pass off a very heavy cast iron pot as a ‘place to keep his usb drives and wire hehehee

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I had happily managed to forget my phone at home and therefore Fiona tried in vain to inform me of her delayed train. Blissfully unaware of this I sipped my tea and munched my edamame all the time trying to ignore some stuffy banker type folks on the table next to me talking shop – how boring…

So when Fiona arrived she managed to move us to a bigger table away from the ‘big boy talk’ as she aptly called it and onto a table where I could dump my bags and lay my camera lens and other paraphernalia – I do not travel light …

To make life easier we chose to have bento boxes for our mains and mine came with the udon noodle and fish cake soup while Fiona had a light Miso soup. I was feeling ravenous by the time the soup arrived and devoured it in a flash! (£24.5 per bento box – comes with soups, salad, sushi, & maki, main dish, side, rice and dessert)

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Nabe Udon  – Noodle and Fishcake Soup with Prawn Tempura.

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Beautifully light Miso Soup

My Bento box had Kaiso Wakame  – seaweed salad ,prawn and carrot tempura, main of duck tataki – seared duck breast finely sliced and dressed with mirin and soy, fried rice and sashimi selection. The duck tataki was deliciously morish, I also loved the seaweed salad and the sticky fried rice with the sashimi was very filling.

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Fionas bento box came with steamed rice and anticucho sauce  black cod and was very appetising , to read in her own words read her review of our lunch at Uni here.

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We washed down our Bento lunch boxes with some chilled sake.

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The very polite manager came and urged us to experiment with some of the Nikkei range from the menu and we were served two stunning dishes.

Tiraditos of Yellowtail with kizami wasabi,Yuzu and fresh mint presented in a creative and stunning display, it was delightfully fresh, sharp in taste with a delicate balance of colour and flavour. (£15.5)

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Wildly beautiful looking salmon tartare tacos with cucumber,tomato,masago and creamy miso were crunchy and melt in your mouth creamy all at one once exploding with a light flavour in every bite – delicious! (£6)

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Stuffed to the gills now I had to walk around click a few pictures and allow for some space to be created in my tummy to fit in some dessert 😉

To my amusement the very attentive young lady on the staff showed us how the colourful lamp shade were made from bottle of campari that could be detached and well glugged , given it was a hot summer afternoon I think it was a great idea that Fiona ordered us some Pisco Sour shots instead ;).Never having tasted these before I downed them in one go much to my own peril, the sake already in my system the shot gave me quite the buzz!

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Thankfully my cooling Matcha Gelato worked wonders and cooled me down several degrees -phew!

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Fiona managed to stay light with desserts too with a selection of fresh fruit.

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The creation of former Nobu chef Rolando Ongcoy, the menu at UNI offers a good selection of grilled meats ,fish, sushi,sashimi, selection of tempura and maki. The Peruvian influence is prevalent throughout UNI’s menu, ceviche and tiraditos peruano included.

The bar area upstairs also has plenty of seating on high stools and around the bar, perfect for knocking down Peruvian fav’s like the pisco sours or coconut-based Chilli Mojito.

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Victoria being a very office space kind of area is lucky to have Uni in its midst now, with bite sized healthier meal options ,seven- dish bento boxes for short lunch hours are on offer at a price of course. So the big banker boys and girls can have their financial pow-wow meets in the fancy cubicles or basement vaults if you please which can seat about 10 – 12 people, and if the huge ice buckets with bottles of chilled Moet and the power talk we overheard from the table next to us are anything to go by then Uni is already a haunt for these suited and well heeled office folks!

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  • Website:Uni
  • Opening Times: is open for lunch and dinner, Monday to Saturday inclusive

*With  thanks to Uni for the invitation. No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review . All opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

Uni on Urbanspoon

Square Meal

Dinner at The Brasserie , Tower Guoman – a review

On the day of the Mens Singles Final when Djokovic won  the match against Roger Federer ,I had an invite to go dine with a few fellow bloggers at The Brasserie at the Tower Guoman. I must admit the match was so engaging that I was glued to the tv and only in the game that I was just to nervous to watch so I dragged myself out and kept pestering a dear friend of mine in whatsapp till she gave me updates of almost every move on the court …. I was hoping that Djokovic would win and also hoping that the match would end before I hopped onto the tube and lost network… Lets just say that all invisible divine forces were with Djokovic ( and me )that day coupled with his awesome performance, just as I was about to get into the tube… there it was..,… message I was hoping to see on whatsapp…. ‘He won’… which led to a very comical impromptu gig on the staircase by me watched by bemused passers by…heck a good win deserves a dance ..at least ! Bonus points to all those who also watched this match to oogle at Boris Becker …teehee

After that I needed a refreshing drink and just as I was settling in the beautiful area  just outside the Guoman, an open air bar  and siping my cocktail gazing up the Tower Bridge was perfect. Chilled Prosecco, Cocktails and Mocktails flowed while we chatted up with the manager who also had dinner with us later .Meeting my friends after Food Blogger Connect was fun and camera lens choices, food photography ,the Wimbledon final results and the stunning view dominated our conversation. Before long the rain decided to play spoil sport and we were ushered inside to our huge table at The Brasserie.

I took the seat the far end of the end but the view from any where inside is just as brilliant , it’s the first time I was so close to the Tower Bridge and you can be guaranteed you will have the best seats in town at The Brasserie with superb views of Butlers wharf thrown in.

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The table was neatly laid out with our special menu for the evening there and fresh bread , warm and just out of the oven with 3 different dips arrived.

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Our rustic bread selection with truffle oil and olive oil.

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To go with our Rustic Bread selection we had the smoked paprika dip – the bright orange one and my fav of the 3, one with chives in the middle and a plain one which I found a tad too salty.

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I choose to have the Grilled Vegetable and Goat Cheese Tart to start off my meal with – it sounded very appetising – Tomato olive salsa,balsamic reduction,pine nut,sekura cress – hummm yes please.

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The thin crisp  pastry base was not one bit soggy or eggy, the grilled Manchego cheese ( a cheese made in the La Mancha region of Spain from the milk of sheep of the manchega breed) tasted great in combination with summery veggies like asparagus and grilled peppers and the salsa was very good ,I loved the taste of the olives and hints of fennel, the cress made the whole dish so fresh not just to look at but to taste too.

The Head chef Kamaldeep Singh (left) and his colleague decided to take us through the process of how the new menu was created , the origin of ingredients and basically make us hungry for more!

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Madeleine seated next to me choose the other option as her first course :Peppercorn Cured Beef Carpaccio – Manchego cheese , home cured tomatoes,charred artichokes,mizuna and micro cress. I was avoiding red meat that so was very happy to photograph her dish and ask how it tasted but equally satisfied with my light tart.

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The carpaccio was hammered thin and artichokes placed over – it looked great, to find out in her Madeleine’s own words what she thought of her dish go check out  her review here.Very happy with my first course, I expected the second course to deliver and impress me a bit more. Must say my Pan-Fried Fillet of Sea Bass served with diver scallop,caper crushed potatoes,mixed bean salsa and ‘sauce vierge’  did not fail to do so. It looked amazing and I had to photograph it from various angles – we food bloggers!

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But  this was simply delicious and worthy of praise for more reasons than one – made using farmed sea bass responsibly sourced scallops, a lighter than most sauces that usually accompany a fish main the scallop sat one a delicious pea puree and cream base.

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The mixed bean salsa tasted great with the morish caper crushed potato, the cress balancing off the dish in a subtle way.Nayna my vegetarian food blogger friend chose to have the Spinach and Ricotta Raviolli made with heirloom tomato salsa and served with freshly made basil cream sauce , to read her views go onto her blog here.Our first wine of the evening accompanied the first course , Vidal sauvignon blanc from New Zealand , aromas of gooseberry, passionfruit and guava lead into a palate that exudes tropical and passion fruit flavours.

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After that very satisfying sea food dish ,we moved onto the next course , I stayed away from red meat again and the Garden pea,mint and pecorino cheese risotto was fabulous for me , I love my rice and many a times I really need some to complete my meal and make it me feel full, maybe a psychological thing but coming from the coastal side of western India ,fish curry and rice is our most staple everyday far.One of the staff members asked me where I was from and when I said Mumbai, pat came the next question which I was sort of expecting – was the sea bass as good as the Pomfret, well no! For me pomfret is the king of  all fishes on this planet – but its a matter of what taste one has grown up with and our method of cooking is also so very different. But yes Sea Bass , Salmon and Basa are my favorite buys,best eaten fresh on the day of purchase ,hate frozen fish,tastes muddy and weird in curries especially.

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The  pecorino cheese added a subtle tangy taste to this very morish and filling risotto, its easy to get this dish so wrong because often the seemingly easier to make dishes are the toughest to produce to perfection . I am a great fan of the risotto that my elder sister hubby makes , he is a trained chef but now a very busy and senior marketing head honcho so it’s very rarely that we meet and even more rarely that I get to eat the risotto he makes. Ah sweet nostalgic family moments, only truly good food can bring on such an attack for me.. 🙂

By now the light had really faded and my risotto photo and all that follow look terrible!

I must admit Madeleine was very kind and allowed me to have a taste of burnt celeriac which I loved with some of the calvados sauce I scooped it off her plate with from her Confit of Gloucestershire Pork Belly. She enjoyed  my cheesy risotto too.

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The 14 hour low heat cooked pork belly looked so very appetising, the burnt celeriac adding to the earthiness of this dish,the cinnamon compliments the pork  and the savoy cabbage and compressed apple give it a tart almost tangy twist on the side. This was washed down with several glasses of a full bodied Chilean Merlot – Errazuriz , almost opulent with notes of berry and cassis fruit.

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It’s at this point that I slipped into blissful food coma and saw this beautiful rainbow emerge right in front of my eyes… the photo does no justice to the what we actually saw…

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That is us at the table – L- R – Bintu who blogs at Recipes from a pantry, Nicki who blogs at Baking Beardy,seated opposite her is Fiona who writes an award-winning blog – London Unattached,Nayna – who blogs at  Simply Sensational Food her other blog is Citrus ,Spice and all things Nice, and the lovely Madeline who blogs at Kitchen Journeys and documents heart healthy recipes at From the Healthy Heart.

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Was too full by now and the dessert platter served with a large shot of margarita in shot glass lined by sugar , managed to cut the sweet taste that was bound to settle on the palate after cheesecake ,a panna cotta that failed to impress because I was expecting the usual wobble and a refreshing pista flavoured ice cream  – my fav from the selection.

As we strolled out for an impromptu photo session and gazed happily at the beautiful Tower Bridge,I couldn’t help but wonder that though the exterior of  the Tower Guoman leaves one wanting the view of two world Heritage Sites – Tower Bridge and the Tower of London certainly makes up for it!A massive refurbishment project is on the cards too.A few more plus points include a convenient location within easy reach of the financial district, Canary Wharf, the Excel Centre, London City Airport, historic Greenwich, the West End and Westfield Shopping Centre. Also the newly launched menu at The Brasserie definitely warrants a visit. The menu is bold and one where the chefs have really gone the extra mile to hope that if they try ambitiously to achieve the Zero Mile Ingredient mark and grow their own herbs fresh on the terrace garden which is to come alive very soon!

The staff was very polite, genuinely attentive and ensured we had a great evening.

*With  thanks to The Tower Guoman for the invitation. No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review . All opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

The Brasserie at the Tower Hotel on Urbanspoon

Square Meal

Achari Mutton Curry – Mutton in a rich pickle flavoured curry.

I had tasted Achari Chicken a few years ago when we were all at my bosses house in Pune and one of my buddies who is a trained chef made Achari chicken and roti’s for us in a flash ! It tasted so divine!

When I was to fly to India for an unexpected development when my ma-in-law’s health suddenly went downhill and she was due for an open heart surgery on the 7th of Nov, I had to do something to lift hubby’s spirits and comfort food had to be manufactured. A good afternoon nap after a reasonably heavy meal of mutton curry and rice sounded like just the thing.

Fresh Mutton was procured but I didn’t have any puree’s to marinate them in and then a brainwave happened ! I got out my most treasured bottle of mango pickle made by my sister’s mum in law who is an expert with pickles and makes a minimum of 10 varieties every summer, these are then packed and sent all over the world !!

I really didn’t want to use up all the pickle but for a kilo of mutton I just had to , ah well small scarifies for the larger good I say 🙂

Serves :4

Marination Time :overnight + 30 minutes , more if freezing overnight

Cooking Time: 1.5 hours on hob and 30 minutes in pressure cooker

Ingredients:

  • 1 kilo mutton curry pieces
  • 1/2 bottle of mango pickle – about 250 gm of pickle
  • 2 heaped tablespoons of freshly ground ginger garlic paste
  • 1/2 tub of yogurt – 200gm
  • 2 medium sized tomatoes
  • 3 small red onions
  • 4 heaped teaspoons red chilli powder
  • 3 heaped teaspoons turmeric powder
  • a pinch of asafoetida
  • 2 bay leaves
  • a small stick of cinnamon
  • 4 heaped teaspoons coriander and cumin mix powder
  • 3 and 1/2 tablespoon oil
  • 4 boiled eggs peeled and sliced into halves.

For the Chilli Marinade:

  • 3 green chillies
  • Juices of 1 lime
  • 1 large tablespoon oil
  • 1 heaped teaspoon red chilli powder

Method:

  • Wash the mutton pieces thoroughly and then pour the pickle over them and add the ginger garlic paste and mix well such that each piece coats well in the pickle.
  • Ideally I would marinate this mutton overnight to really let these flavours seep deep into the fibers of the meat,also as as mutton curry takes longer to cook than lamb it is necessary to ensure that for full maturity of flavours to develop marination must be for over 5 hours.
  • Cover the meat with a plastic cling film and leave in the refrigerator overnight, do not freeze unless the temperature outside is over 35 deg Celsius as at that temperature if the cooling in the fridge is not good the meat may go bad. If freezing the mutton allow at least 4 hours to totally defrost by first moving from freezer to fridge and then keeping it outside.
  • Pour the yogurt over the marinated meat and mix well,leave aside for 20 minutes
  • Just when you are ready to cook the mutton peel and roughly chop red onions into chunks and also made big pieces of the tomatoes and puree them in the food processor.
  • In a large vessel heat the oil and add a pinch of asafoetida, sautee the bay leaves and the cinnamon stick for about 30 seconds on a medium flame.
  • Then add the  red onion and tomato puree , sautee in the oil ,stirring well and let it simmer on a low flame with 1 cup of water.
  • Add red chilli powder,turmeric powder, coriander and cumin mix powder.
  • Let this cook for about 10 -12 minutes.
  • Now add the marinated mutton and add enough water to make a good amount of gravy , if you are going to use the pressure cooker then add a little extra.
  • Cook on a medium flame for about 1 and a half hour , in a pressure cook give it 8 whistles.
  • Mutton pieces have a lot of fat attached on the sides which also adds to the oil used for cooking hence I have used less oil.I am unable to eat the overtly oily curry which leave a huge layer of oil on the top if allowed to stand.
  • Now for the spicy dip, slit the green or red chillies lengthwise and dip into the oil and red chilli powder mix and add the juice of one lime.
  • When the curry is cooked serve hot on a bed of steaming hot rice with half a boiled egg.For extra flavour bite into the fiery red chilli with the lime-chilli mix.It’s not for the faint hearted though, but if you really do manage to relish the aftertaste of hot chilli you can safely say that you can now eat any fiery dish without breaking a sweat or getting the runs, a sort of baptism by fire food ritual!! One only for only for the brave souls!This powerful blast of heat on the tongue will see your forehead  dotted with beads of sweat.Truly a labour of love.

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The resulting mutton curry is rich in flavour and served hot with fluffy Jeera rice it is such a satisfying and comforting meal. But the best bit is when you leave the balance of this curry overnight , the next day the taste is so much better I’d almost choose left over curry over the fresh 😉

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Highly recommend serving this curry with a cooling curd side dish – half a cup of yogurt mixed with  with sliced red  onions and cucumbers ,seasoned with a pinch of salt , half a spoon of sugar and 1 heaped teaspoon of toasted cumin powder ,garnished with some freshly chopped coriander leaves.I’d wash down the meal  with butter milk or a good glass or two of a full bodied red wine .

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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:

Prawn Khichadi (Pulav/Pilaf/Poolav)

This is NOT just a  recipe,it’s a Family Heirloom passed down from generations and cooked with great relish by my mother-in-law and her mum who is now 82 years old and still can stir up a some to-die-for finger licking dishes !

But before I start off rattling the ingredient list , a ”slice” of some history about the origin of this rice and prawn union.Coastal cuisine in the western Indian state of Maharashtra relished by the Maharahstrian community relies heavily on the use of all versions of the coconut , the most potent form being as part of the goda masala. This and of course the abundant availability fresh sea food has given birth to many delicacies many of which most are age-old like this dish.

It’s also my prized comfort food and guarantees a great Sunday afternoon nap 🙂 and will ensure your crowned kitchen queen and master chef of all things nice hehehehe

Ok here goes, the ingredient list – This dish serves 2 adults for 2 meals with 2 generous helpings each and leftovers for the next day.

  1. Prawns or Koolambi as they are called in Marathi – 500gm
  2. Plain rice – I use basmati , I use 2.5 cup measures of my rice cooker measure
  3. Bay leaves -3-4
  4. ”Goda” Masala
  5. Tumeric Powder
  6. Red Chilli powder
  7. Half a slice
  8. Cooking Oil
  9. Salt to taste
  10. Ginger and Garlic Paste
  11. Wet coconut grated and make a fine puree with it – the wet coconut is available as a frozen product at any Indian Grocery store – use about a handful.
  12. Two Large red onions finely sliced
  13. Cinnamon (Dalchini)- 3-4 large bits
  14. Few cloves
  15. Green Masala – Use a bunch or coriander and 2 green chillies and give them a spin in the mixer , store this fine paste in the freezer and use as and when needed, it’s one of the most basic marination masala’s in most Maharashtrian non veg dishes especially sea food.

Method:

  1. On a pan on low heat saute one finely chopped onion and the fresh wet grated coconut till the onions starts to caramelise, after this cools give it a spin in the mixer and make a fine paste.
  2. Marinate the washed rice in some the above wet grated coconut and onion paste,some goda masala, a squeeze of half of a lime,salt ,ginger & garlic paste and some Cinnamon. Keep Aside.
  3. De-vein Prawns , wash under tap water and marinate with red chilli powder,turmeric and green masala.
  4. Take oil in a vessel and saute the marinated prawns for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Heat Oil in a vessel big enough to cook the rice and prawns together that will hold the water as well , add the cloves , remaining cinnamon and one very finely chopped red onion, add the marinated rice and stir it , do this on a low flame .
  6. Then add the marinated prawns and water , for rice dishes water is always double the measure of the rice used so for 2.5 cup measures of rice use 5 cups of water.
  7. Cover and cook on a low flame.
  8. Serve piping hot with curd or pickle .
  9. I generally serve this with a spicy Curry.

Spicy Curry

In a pan heat some oil and add asafoetida one pinch , add puree of 2-3 large red onions and one tomato and puree of 1 handful of wet grated coconut , season with red chilli powder , turmeric,salt, green masala, goda masala and cook on a low flame with enough water to ensure a thick curry , Amp up the red chilli powder and green masala to your level of tolerance of spicy food !

Do let me know via comments if any of you made this dish and what you though of the recipe !

P.S: Forgive the poor image quality , I have a Simple Canon Camera which I am unable to use too well  and add to that the total lack of any photography skills but well the food   tasted awesome :), that’s what counts right , hehhe!

Update in 2013

A few days after I published this recipe ,A gifted me my first DSLR Camera – a shiny new Canon 600DS and I’ve been clicking away like a happy bunny ever since 🙂

To my absolute delight he helped me add a new lens to my kit and gifted me a 50mm f 1.8 lens this year on my birthday.It’s great for close up food shots and true to it’s reviews it works well in low light conditions.

Here’s an example:

The image below is from my kit lens where am struggling to fit everything in frame and focus on the prawns, I have sharpened the image,adjusted light and cropped it using Picasa 3.

Ingredients for Prawn Khichadi with old lends

 

Now see the difference in the image below, I love how the prawns are in sharp focus and how am able to easily adjust and fit everything in the viewfinder.I have adjusted light and sharpened the image very slightly, I am truly pleased with the results 🙂

prawn khichadi with new lens

bay leaves n cinnamon in pan

prawns sautee with khichadi spices

 

prawn khichadi plated n styled

 

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Ressurecting LEFTOVERS !

 

Heya all ye blog readers, followers or mere net trawler’s !

I have a simple yet effective way of resurrecting plain white boiled/steamed rice and conjuring up a tasty spicy dish to allow for a guilt free ,time saving recipe which will not only help you NOT die of guilt for throwing away rice that’s perfectly OK but just stale and also having teh pleasure of cooking an easy peasy meal all on your own. Of course it’s NOT my own recipe but a hand me down from my mother ! GAAH and YOU actually thought I was that creative …giggles to herself and continues typing …

Well you need , yes ! Of course my dear genius some leftover white plain cooked rice.

Depending on bow much rice you have say roughly a medium sized soup bowl for example , you will need :

1.2 tablespoons oil

2.2 cloves of garlic with skin

3.1 medium sized red onion finely chopped and I mean FINELY !hehehe I like trying to sound very professional , am just joking here , chop it how you will !

4.few fresh green lovely curry leaves.

5.Turmeric Powder

6. Salt to taste

7.Chilli Powder

8.Pinch of Asafoetida

9.  A pinch of each Jeera (Cumin seeds) & Mohri (Mustard Seeds)

10. A tiny squeeze of lime

11. Some finely chopped freshly coriander for garnish

12. One or two green chillies chopped

Ok now heat the oil in a pan , add the Hing (Asafoetida powder) , add the Mustard seeds and Cumin seeds and wait for the mustard seeds to crackle in the hot oil, then add the garlic finely chopped with the skin and let it turn brown and crisp , believe me,it adds a power packed punch to the flavour of the rice,then add some green chillies chopped to a size that you can pick them out if you don’t want to set your tongue on fire ! Then,in go the curry leaves and the chopped red onion,after the onions are nicely tossed and turned in the oil to give them just the soft and crunchy texture you need,toss in the rice and slightly turn it with your hand before you do to prevent it from sticking , it should open up so that the flavours of the tadka (seasoning ) touch EACH grain and coat it with their heavenly goodness !

Then add the turmeic powder,red chilli powder and mix well,cover the vessel and cook on a very low flame so as to prevent the rice from sticking to the pan at the bottom. Steam for some time and open the lid,squeeze a generous bit of lime(everytime I think LIME or LEMON , I think of the way Jamie Oliver talks about it and uses it generously in MOST of his preparations, I am LOVE with LIME !) on this dish and garnish with fresh coriander, you can even add a few bits of chopped fresh tomato of you like.

Serve HOT with any curry or ”leftover” dal reheated.

I LOVE eating this plain with a big dollop of curd or plain yogurt too !

See told you it was eay peasy !

Shahi Khichadi

I have decided to finally upload some of the recipes which received a lot of comments on my Facebook food album and I ended up sending out the recipe by email to many of contacts . Here is one of the easier and more popular ones . When I was a kid when my mother said ”khaichadi” in response to what’s for dinner ? it usually meant that one of us feverish and needed something gentle on the tummy or one of us was trying to recover from an upset tummy .Of course the taste of the boiled rice and green gram halved and with skin on or the yellow version without skin , is ultimately satisfying a great comfort food when served piping hot with a dollop of ghee and some warm milk ,a good night’s sleep guaranteed !

But my version is spicy ,with a tasty twist and a lot of fun to cook and even more fun to eat .

I adopted this recipe from the way my mother makes khichadi and also from how my pal S of http://www.jainfoodie.com makes Jain Dal Khichadi . I choose to call it Shahi meaning Regal or Royal here because it is rather a posh version of the humble boiled version. Khichadi meaning an Indian for a slurpalicious RICE and lentil dish cooked like a pulav /pulao/pilau /pilaf.

Ingredients (enough to serve 2 with second and maybe a third helping !)

  • Rice 1 cup
  • A Mix of the following in equalish parts in the same cup used to measure the rice – Massor Dal also called Red Lentils-split and skinless, Moong Dal also called Green Gram yellow we will use the  spilt skinless variety and the split green moong dal with green skin on , Urid Dal also called Black Gram halved with skin ,some Toor Dal also called pigeon peas – yellow spilt and skinless .
  • 1 large red Onion
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 2-3 Bay leaves
  •  Bits of Cinnamon bark
  • 2 cloves of garlic smashed with skin on
  •  2 green chillies
  •  Jeera / Cumin
  •  Hing / Asafoetida
  • Salt to taste
  • Red Chilli Powder
  • Turmeric Powder
  •  2 small potatoes
  •  Few Curry leaves
  •  Few Cloves
  •  Few black whole peppercorns
  • 18. Oil for sauteing
  • Some Ghee – maybe 2 spoons – Clarified Butter

Method :

  • Wash the rice and lentils and place them in a pressure cooker ,add 4 cups (use same cup as the one used to measure the rice and the dals) of water and another to make it a little softer than regular rice ,pressure cook till 4 whistles are done.
  • Once the steam slowly releases from the cooker , you can open the lid and it will look like the picture below but a bit different in colour because when I made this I was short on red lentils so didn’t add them . Actually even you make this dish with rice and only yellow moong dal it will taste just as good 🙂

  • While the cooker is cooling down ,chop the potatoes into longish strips and stir fry them in hot oil till they turn brown, add some salt, sprinkled over them just as they get done, these potato fries are our garnishing to add that REAL REGAL or SHAHI touch to the dish . Once done keep them aside and STOP yourself from munching on them before your dish is ready , my husband managed to gobble quite a few ,pretending he was helping me ”stir” the onions while I clicked pictures ..grrrrr

  • Now Lets prepare the tadka /tarka or the tempering. First slice the onion and the tomato vertically into thinish slices .
  • Add oil about 2 large tablespoons into a pan and one teaspoon of ghee just for flavour and aroma , when this mix is hot add some hing , then add the jeera and the crushed garlic and the 2 green chillies spilt along the middle lengthwise as it opens them up and allows the pungent seeds to spread through the tempering , one kick ass way to add that hotttt KICK to the dish ,trust me this one is explosive spicy HOTT as it has all the ingredients to help the taste explode in your mouth, saute till the garlic is brown and the garlic’s skin starts to crackle , then add the cloves, the whole black peppercorns , bits of the barks of Cinnamon ,curry leaves, bay leaves and keep stiring this mixture to prevent charring or over heating ,it will look like in the picture below :

  • Then add the chopped onion, It should look like the picture below:

  • Then after a while when the onion has begun to turn a lovely pinkish ,brownish colour and looks the picture below it’s time to add the tomato .

  • Now add the vertically sliced tomato slices , I can assure you that now the potent aroma of all those lovely spices and the onion are stirring up quite an appetite inside you and making you hungrier every passing minute .

  • I dislike chunky bits of tomato floating in my mouth while I gobble up the khichadi so I jus a flat wooden spatula and gently ensure that the tomatoes are totally mashed  in a way that allows the mixture to become one entity, it should look like in the picture below :

  • Add just a bit of red chilli powder and some turmeric powder to the mixture above and add salt to taste ,Now add the cooked rice and lentil mixture to the above tempered mix of spices ,onions and tomatoes ,mix well stirring well, add salt again enough to flavour the rice and lentil mix .

  • It’s almost done , just keep this on a low flame for about a minute or two to allow the flavours of the spices to penetrate deep inside the rice and lentils .

  • The SHAHI KHICHADI is now ready to be garnished! Yay 🙂

  • WOW now doesn’t that look awesome ? I am quite proud about this creative production from my kitchen , hope you relish it as much as I did errr we did , hubby had to agree 🙂
  • If you fear that all the spices may be a bit too much for your sensitive palate prepare a quick cooling cucumber and curd accompaniment . Beat 2 spoons of set yogurt or thick flowing yogurt and add tiny square bits of fresh cucumber , season with a bit of salt ,some sugar and some jeera powder to taste .

Enjoy !

South Indian Food – A family obsession !

Ever since I immigarted to London ,it’s been a year by the way ,already (!), I get these craving sto go eat some certain type of food that is so commonly available in Bombay that one take sit for granted .

But once you live abroad and you know that you are a self confessed FOODIE , it becomes a real thrilling task to keep a track of all the places that offer “AUTHEHNTIC” Indian food !It’s easy to get confused by the number of options available but clearly many of the places do not live up to expectations of “AUTHENTIC” Indian taste or simply fail mierably on offering basic service or are just so grubby looking one wouldn’t want to sit after setting foot inside !

There are marked ghetto like area’s in London,namely East Ham,Croydon,Tooting,Wembley and ofcourse the FAMOUS South Hall, which are easily accesible by the tube which serve up some really authetic Indian food in the form of mouthwatering delicacies at awesome rates !

My most favourite for south indian snacks – I crave MEDU VADAS and Doa’s with a passion at times and I head staright to Tooting to SARAVANA BHAVAN !

The first time I visited a branch of SARAVANA BHAVAN was at East Ham after the Roayl Wedding . I did manage to catch a glimpse of the beautiful ,now Duchess of Cambridge,  Kate Middleton .She was waving to the cheering  crowds whowent absolutely MAD when the car inw hich she was travelling passed us by , she ofcourse was then taken to the abbey to wed her Prince Charming ,my husband and me never made it anywhere near Buckingham Palace to watch the famous kiss on the balcony but yes we did manage to see it live on a MASSIVE screen set up at one of the branches of the HOUSE OF FRASER and all the people who had crammed themselves inside actually sat down on the floor and a very gracious member of the staff served us a yummy fruit flavoured bubbly as soon as the couple was married on screen, with millions viewing teary eyed, the world over!After watching the wedding we decided to escape the crowds of Central London and the thousands that were moving out from the streets after having waved to the Princess. So we rushed over to Victoria Station before the tubes became suffocatingly over crowded or worse !

On a whim I suggested we head to East Ham  to dig into some really good south indian snacks.

I must confess it was LOVE at first BITE  for me at SARAVANA BHAVAN, they are present in many locations worldwide and I frequent 2 of their branches in london , the one at EAST HAM and the one at Tooting. Noteworthy feature is that they have an impressive JAIN MENU , since my closest buddies here are a Jain couple, S even has her own Jain Food blog(!),it is always a challenge to find tasty JAIN food options in London. For the uninitiated JAINISM is a religion in India and one of the aspects is that followers are quite strict with NOT consuming onions and garlic in their food.In the past few months I have learnt so many recipes which I didn’t know existed all thanks to my JAIN buddies ,not to mention that S is an exceptional cook and stir up the most amazing recipes in a matter of minutes.My tummy is witness to many such preparations, she also her own versions for Bombay’s most popular street foods!

Anyway back to our discussion about south Indian snacks,The upma was so tasty at SARAVANA BHAVAN- EAST HAM , I was transported straight to Matunga where I often head to a place called ANAND BHUVAN to savour their yummy dosa’s vada’s idli’s and my favourite comfort food BISIBELE BHATH– a rice and dal dish all spiced up , dish which satisfies the mind as much as it does the tummy and is extreemly healthy and good on the pocket too .Here’s a few blog links to someyummy recipes for  this dish :

http://mysoorean.blogspot.com/2007/02/bisi-bele-bhath.html

http://madhusvantalu.wordpress.com/2007/09/24/bisibele-bath-a-classic-karnataka-dish/

ANAND BHAVAN is a traditional south indian UDIPI joint in Matunga East in Bombay. The food is exceptionally taste , the service is warm, the look and feel of the place is totally old world and charming to say the least ,something like walking into an old irani restaurant for “maska pao and cutting chai”.

I had ONE  photograph, I had clicked using my Nokia E63 in 2010 of ANAND BHAVAN , here it is:

ANAND BHAVAN is THE BEST place to eat yummy south indian snacks according to me as there are a zillion outlest in close viccinity in Matunga thanks to the large south Indian community that resides there ,but nothing as quaint an experience and so good on the pcoket as ANAND BHAVAN .

MATUNGA , a suburn in BOMBAY,INDIA,also has a huge market selling every imaginable fruit and veegtable erquired for south indian cooking and regular cookingas well , shops selling traditional clothing, a temple,a dance school , a NALLI store and ofcourse shops selling freshly ground coffee powder , just one whiff is enough to take you staright to Chennai I suppose :).You there is a unique quality about this suburb that there are pockets that feel diecidely south indian , some extreemly Gujju dominated and some so very Maharastrain. It’s this amazing way of different cultures mixing and offering such a mindboggling variety of culinary experiences that makes Bomaby much of what it is today. A cosmpolitan city with a rocking attitude, a space for and BY everyone so to speak.It’s a city that liberates and ofcourse because it is an ISLAND city the best and most breathtaking sea side experience is yours for a taking.I could go on and on but I wish not to ramble, because there will always be a large part of BOMBAY in everything I write about .

Though at my in laws place there is a huge debate over which of these many south indian outlets really is THE BEST .My mother in law likes another small but great place bang opposite the station called SHARDA BHUVAN, she like the fact they are still so old world with no A/C and no fancy seating but that the charm of the place really and the food is amazing ,really , she often heads there eraly morning before she heads to the library at FORT to get some steaming hot idlis and chutney followed by the traditional Filter Coffee- aah !My hubby is a fan of HOTEL RAMA ASHRAYA and has a particulary yummy sweet prepartion that he heads there to gobble ona regular basis with one of his buddies.This one is a short walk from SHARDA BHAVAN and  HOTEL ARYA BHAVAN, is set between flower shops and a coffee powder shop and faces the lane which has the local post office,which in turn is surrounded by about a dozen flower shops selling garlands big and small and an apt place to pick some for a visit to the temple or for a wedding.

Now my dad in law likes a totally different place,it’s called HOTEL ARYA BHAVAN,it has seating at a basement level ,is hot and humid and crammed but the food is tasty and the loaction is spot on!

South Indian Restaurants or UDIPI joints as they are more popularly know are so popular in Bombay and so easily accessible in Bombay that one gets really used to just popping in and eating an idli or a dosa and walking out happy, the whole thing about craving such ood in London is trying out several such places and coming up with THE BEST and a second best, I have picked mine already.Ofcourse SARAVANA BHAVAN is “THE” best  in terms of the quality of food and the number of loactions, additional brownie points for the Jain Menu ofcourse, now there is another outlet called DOSA and CHUTNEY , they have 2 branches one at Tooting and another at Croydon in London, they also offer Non vegetarian options ,my favourite is Kottu Rice,it’s a spicy rice dish with meats,veggies and a Sri Lankan roti ! They serve generous protions, the prices are very good and the place is clean not to mention the sevice is swift as well , I normally wash down a spicy dish like Kottu Rice with a delicious Mango Lassi or followu up a dosa with a hot filter coffee :).The staff is friendly and I often reach there on a lazy weekday , eat some lunch and then do my grocery shopping !

I am right now walking this streets of Bombay especially MATUNGA, in my mind right now and taking a million pictures , I promise myself that I shall do justice to this post by uploading pictures when I do go to Indian this year , I simply cannot wait now!I do plan to visit all my favourite haunts including BADE MIYA for kebab’s and hopefully catching a glimpse of SRK who is said to visit them at times ( a famous rumour in my college days’s),eat berry pulao at Brittannia , ofcourse gulp down unlimited amounts of PANI PURI at Elco ,Bandra and the list goes on and on and on!

P.S: Loads of information about MATUNGA and the many Udipi Joints on http://mumbai.burrp.com/

Masoorachi Aamti or Red Lentil Curry

Masoorachi Aamti or Red Lentil Curry – Recipe adaptation from Mother, Mother in Law and a close CKP friend – Saai who loves to stir up some spicy CKP fare and generally succeeds at it 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 2 measures of Masoor Dal (Red Lentil) with their brown covers intact and whole
  • Mustard Seeds
  • 2-3 Garlic Cloves
  • Green chillies 2- 3
  • Curry leaves about 5-6
  • Jeera (Cumin Seeds) – tiny spoonful
  • Freshly grated soft white coconut
  • Goda Masala – mommy made is so much better than the one from the shops but well

(**This is a mix of various spices readily available in Asian Grocery stores it’s basically a mixture of dry coconut roasted with a mixture of atleast 10 different spices, best of all it’s avaialble to buy online at itadka.com ,it’s so EASY PEASY grin grin grin  heres the link ,refrigerate this pack to increase shelf life ,yayay so many tips from me , don’t YOU just LOVE me , if u better dont just READ this make n slurp it all ALONE, drop me A LINE and thank meeeeeeeeeeeeeeee)

  • Coriander Powder
  • Ginger Garlic Paste

(Coriander and Chilli paste – 2 small sized bunches of coriander pureed with 2-3 green chillies – freeze and use on demand, handy and 1 of my 5 “save your face” purees for unwanted guests popping in at odd hours – the other 4 are listed at the end of this recipe)

  • 3 medium sized onion red – chopped fine
  • Asafoetida(Hing or Heeng)
  • Turmeric
  • Red Chilli Powder
  • Dhania Powder
  • Jaggery

Aamsul 2-3 soaked in lukewarm water to release it’s juices trapped inside the gorgeous maroon folds – Amsul – also called kokum or Garcinia indica, a plant in the mangosteen family (Clusiaceae)

  • Fresh leaves of Coriander chopped fine for dressing

 Process ( Once a Chemistry student and a retail employee stay that way forever , instead of “PREPARTION” I choose the word ”Process” which is drilled into a Retail Managers brain like young parents making their kids rote learn alphabets)

The masoor dal can be done 2 ways for stage 1 of this process, 1st is the short cut which I love as I suddenly get an urge mid evening to cook this typical CKP recipe to appease my urges to run to Heathrow n take the next flight to my parents home in Pune ,hummmmm, so we soak the masoor dal 2 measures feeds 2 adults with a ravenous appetite and leaves some to spare.

Then soak it in water for about 20 minutes , the traditional route is to soak the masoor for about 10 minutes and pressure cook with 1 or 2 whistles so that it doesn’t go too soft as it will not absorb the marvellous flavours of all the spices we are to add in the kadhai.

Heat 2 large generous tablespoons of oil in a wok, no weight watchers tip this huh? Indeed!

Add mustard seeds and wait for them to pop but please be carefull not to burn them, one classic error here is that there are 2 types of mustard seeds, one variety is slightly big and the other one is smaller n more packed with flavour according to my mother , I dare not disagree , the only reason I use the smaller variety is that it gives me an ego boost each time I do a phodni and don’t burn them.

Then add Asafoetida, crushed garlic cloves in their skin as the skin turns a tasty caramelised brown adding to the visual delight of the process of tempering a curry or dal! then when the garlic is starting to brown add the curry leaves , green chillies , jeera and then  a generous spoonful of the fresh grated coconut (fresh from froizen is fine by me too) then , stir in the goda masala – 2 generous teaspoons, coriander powder ,turmeric , a big blob of ginger garlic paste and coriander chilli paste and stir this wonderfully aromatic mixture till it starts to brown , then add the chopped onion  and stir it now n then , let the oil work its magic in the onion allowing it to brown so that it secrets it juices and adds the typical flavour that a powerfull pungent red onion has pack3ed inside each leaf ,umm , mouth salivating isn’t it by now reading this , it should that’s the whole point my friend .

Now when this mixture is nice and ready, drain the water from the soaked or boiled par-masoor dal and toss it into the kadhai, stir in enough water to cover the lentil n then some and cook it till it almost done, when your almost done pour in the water of the soaked amsool and the dunk the amsool in along with salt to taste and bring to boil.

Season with finely chopped fresh as ever coriander and serve piping hot with phulkas dripping with ghee (clarified butter) or the plain old boiled white rice.

As you lick your fingers n the plate don’t forget to thank your daddy for giving you an internet connection which allowed you to see my divine blog n stir up this delightfull dish !aww come on now did u really buy your laptop and your internet connection on your own ! Atta girl!

Key (reminds me of my Chemistry textbook in school years)

*C.K.P stands for Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu a sub section of the Maharashtrian community in India and they generally hail from the coastal regions and hence are rather partial to freshly grated coconut and amsool in their food, not to mention their love for fresh fish and mutton, oh yeah!

*Dal used loosely to refer to the uncooked Lentil and AMTI a Marathi word meaning cooked curry.

*Coriander = Cilantro

*Jeera – Cumin (what were you thinking?)

*Aamsul – this is typical to the Konkan region, a divine coastal region the state of Maharashtra State which gave the world the gorgeous Madhuri Dixit Nene, a Bollywoood actress par excellence better known for her elastic waist and dance moves that can drive hordes of men wild and in their make the women of these bubble green with jealousy and is now to be honoured and hence waxed err , have her wax statue placed at the one and only Madame Tussads at London, hence I shall visit the wax museum ONLY after her wax replica is unveiled, yes sir! On a serious note it is also called Kokum or Garcinia Indica (Fruit indigenous to the west coast of Maharashtra State in India- i.e. Konkan, Ratnagiri etc .Incidentally apart from the Wiki link for more info on Aamsul , I came across another food blog with a very good explanation about the fruit and have pasted the para from the blog below with the links the blogger has inserted intact and alink too in case anyone wants to visit the blog,it’s got some really good recipes , get clicking

!)

कोकम/अमसुल” (wild/red mangosteen-available in powdered forms too,but its better to use the fruit) are one of the very popular ingredients in Indian food.The outer rind of the fruit is a very popular culinary ingredient in all Maharashtra and in particular Konkan. The fruits are beaten with sticks to separate the rind from seeds. The rind is repeatedly sun dried after soaking in the pulp juice.

People in the Kokan region (Maharashtra) and Southern India often add it in various delicacies (from cold-drinks to soups to vegetables & dips).Dried/Wet Kokum or Amsul is available at most Indian stores in the bay area.Sour in taste,it has medicinal qualities and is used as an anti-allergic.

Raw Mangosteen is called Murgala (Karnataka), Punampuli (Kerala), Murgal (Tamil Nadu) ,Kokum(Gujarat),Kokum/amsul/ratamba/birund (Maharashtra) & Tintali (Orissa).It is called Atyamala, Raktapurak, Vrikshamla,chukra or tintidika in Sanskrit.

Blog credit : http://cookwithmoi.blogspot.com/2009/10/wild-red-mangosteen-soup.html

*Phodni – Marathi for tempering

*Kadhai – Hindi and Marathi for Wok, easy or what?!

*Phulkas – Also called chapattis or the delightful Indian Bread soft and fluffy and fresh off the pan has ghee smeared on it to pack some punch a many many calories 🙂

The other 4 SAVE ME NOW pastes are:

* a garlic ginger coarse paste,

* Finely grated fresh white coconut paste,

* Tomato red onion puree -1:3,

*And the best one for last aye? – few onion chopped lengthwise n lightly roasted in a kadhai (wok) with fresh white coconut finely grated till they turn slightly brown , then churned into a paste in the mixer )

Pic 1 :The saucepan contains oil heated and then the asafoetida, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, then the garlic , chopped green chillies and curry leaves and last but the best one GODA masala

Pic 2 :Chopped red onion added to the mix

Pic 3: That’s the dal cooking

Pic 4 & 5: All done , the AROMA is filling my senses and transporting me into my MIL’s kitchen , I want to HUG her nowwwwwwwwwww

P.S: Will post pictures to compare the 2 sizes of Mustard seeds at a later date , I am now going to be too busy slurping my amti (dal) off the plate 🙂