Posted in Biryanis, Pilafs and Rice based Dishes, Recipes

Tava Pulao – the next best thing to PavBhaji!

Juhu Beach style Tava Pulao of my favourite ways to jazz up dinners without a fuss. It’s just rice tossed with Pavbhaji style wet spice base. It is rustled up on huge iron Tavas which are used to make Pavbhaji by the street side sellers usually from leftover spice base of Pavbhaji. Now, i don’t have a humongous tava that is as wide as my arms spread out wide, but a little Jugaad here and there and we can infuse that clanking of metal spatulas and the smell of Amul Butter, ginger garlic, finely chopped coriander and Pavbhaji masala bubbling up steadily on the Tava into our meals. I haven’t eaten it at Juhu Beach a lot, but I have seen several maestros aka Pavbhaji Walas at work and believe me, watching them work their magic is nothing short of a conductor at an opera. It’s not easy to keep up. The Turkish Salt Bae guy has got nothing on these Thelawalas when it comes to dexterity. A quick swipe lands a large chunk of butter on the tava. A shake of a sprinkler drizzles some beautiful red orange spice mix into the melting golden pool of butter. Another quick grab and sprinkle movement means a ladle full of puree ( precooked tomato paste, I am guessing ) is ready to tango with the spices and butter. A handful of veggies go in next ( I have added a lot more than capsicum and onion, which are staples. Feel free to throw in a few chunks of paneer though). Finally, the most difficult arm movement to master in my opinion, using that steel masher to bring together everything into the centre and making a homogeneous mix of spices and vegetables where each of them still has an presence but they are no longer merely ingredients. They are the elixer that is Pavbhaji now! Add a handful of rice and chopped coriander and Voila! That’s chef-d’oeuvre I call Tava Pulao! Do yourself a favour and don’t adulterate it with a mountain of cheese. Not that it is a crime. But don’t forget to pair it with Raita or Buttermilk.

The image is from my own instagram account and can be found here

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Posted in Daals/Lentils/Sides for Rice, Recipes, Traditional Gujarati Recipes

Gujarati Kadhi – Not soup, not a sauce, just pure, heart warming bowl of comfort!

Gujarati Kadhi is describe by different names, one of which is a tangy yogurt sauce or soup, served as an accompaniment to a multi-component Gujarati Thali, more often eaten with rice or pulaos or sipped on its own. How I see it, calling a Gujarati Thali or any Indian Regional Thali for that matter, a multi course meal is a bad fit. Because unlike a course wise meal, a thali is not bound by eating sequence or order of eating rules. Like our DNAs, our food combinations are pretty unique, taking a bite from here and there, a bit of heat here, a little tang there, punctuated by a morsel of the sweet of the day to satisfy every taste bud on the palette. And in the same way, every Gujarati enjoys Kadhi on their own special occasions and their own customised combinations and situations. Here are some of those tales, some personal, some fictional and some in between! It’s a long read, but some days I like pouring my heart out.

The image is from my own instagram account and can be found here

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Posted in Appetisers, Recipes, Traditional Gujarati Recipes

Idadaa | Khatta Dhokla | White Dhokla !

Idadaa or Khatta Dhokla is a Gujarati savoury snack made by steaming an overnight fermented batter of Rice and Urad Daal. It is soft, savoury and delicious to say the least. To pronounce Idadaa correctly, the first da is pronounced softly and the second strongly, like Daa in Darwin. It is served on its own as a snack, or as a side as a part of the more varied Gujarati Thali/meal as a savoury side to sweet things like Aamras and often Doodhpak ( a kind of Kheer/Rice Pudding ) as shown below.

The image is from my own instagram account and can be found here

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Posted in Indian Curries, Kitchen 101, Recipes

Paneer Bhurji – Soft creamy paneer scrambled with spices!

For me, there are two kinds of Paneer, the one I make routinely, dryish not so spicy or indulgent. And then there is another Bhurji which is a rare phenomenon, once in a while Bhurji Pav occasion of celebration. I know that most people associate rainy nights with Fried food, Bhajiya and Bajjis and the sorts. But on the kind of nights when it rains as if there will be no tomorrow, when the pitter…patter…drippp…droop.. glupp symphony is accompanied by an occasional thunder, something reminds of this Paneer Bhurji. When street creatures huddle – half wet, half dry and fully miserable – under whatever they can find, I crave this. Those souls, for whom the streets are both their workplace and the place they crash in after a long day, use tarp to shelter themselves, the kind ones cuddle their street pets with them. The unlucky strays crouch under whatever dry shelter they can manage. On nights like these, you groan at your smartphone because, either the Ola Uber and their ilk have very few cabs running on the roads. Or because Swiggy tells you that due to bad weather conditions, their executives cannot service your area. But if you go back to times before Ola, Uber and Swiggy made us to painfully dependent and stripped us of the small joys of life, every street corner in the Metros had a Bhurji cart dimg brisk business. It was mostly Egg Bhurji, but one particular cart I knew also served Paneer Bhurji, as concession to those who are “Vegetarian in Tuesdays and Fridays” and their kin. In any case, the assembly, apparatus and ambience remained the same. A huge iron tava perched atop a kerosene stove, continously heating, has almost hypnotic powers. The troika of sight, smell and sound work harmoniously to warm your insides and draw you closer to the cart. Pretty much every Bhurji that takes birth on that Tava looks similar. Beautiful ruby red colour, a free flowing smooth consistency and the broth speckled with scrambled eggs, or scambled paneer. It is deftly swiped with a flat spatula on a plate, two fluffy pav are swirled around in some butter and leftover masala and placed next to the pooled Bhurji, almost taking a dip into the pool. Some sliced onions, a miserable wedge of a lemon but who is complaining. I am already won over by the aroma. Recipe for the Bhurji is now up on the blog! 💕

The image is from my own instagram account and can be found here

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Posted in Fiction, My Bibliothèque, Short Stories

{ Book Review } – All The Names They Used For God by Anjali Sachdeva!

All the Names They Used for GodAll the Names They Used for God by Anjali Sachdeva
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

All The Names They Used For God is a motley of tales that has everything from tragedy to mythology to science to human despair tied together to discuss the known and the unknown in this world. It is a collection of short stories, quite eclectic in nature and not one bit preachy or sermon-like to be honest. I have to make this clarification because that is the impression the name would give you. But the stories are more human than religious and a nice mix of subjects and themes.

The image is from my own instagram account and can be found here

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Posted in Food and Drink, My Bibliothèque, Non Fiction

{ Book Review } – In Defence of Food: an Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan

In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto

In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In a pill sized summary, the book tells us to ” Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” It opens with this and it is also all that it has to offer to us. But it ends up winding 200 pages filled with small portions of excellent food wisdom, some of which is pretty common today, and large portions of extremely boring, number crunching information, which I found so exhausting that I ended up not even bothering to fact check them: I just speed read them and moved on. I felt that what was 20, may be 40 page manifesto about eating in moderation, mostly local and vegetarian was stuffed with two beanbag worth of fillers to make it sound impactful. But those 20 pages are something that I found to a really interesting perspective on food. So hang in there for those, it was worth it.

The image is from my own instagram account and can be found here

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Posted in Indian Curries, Recipes, Traditional Gujarati Recipes

Sev Tameta nu Shaak!

Sev Tameta nu Shaak ( Sev added to a cooked gravy of tomatoes, a dab of jaggery and a few basic spices ) for the evening when you lose track of time panicking about something and realise that you are “cannot-afford-to-spend-more-than-10-minutes-on-fixing-dinner” kind of desperately hungry! Sev Tameta nu Shaak is quite popular in Gujarati, specifically Kathiyawadi, restaurants. Tangy, garlicky curry of 🍅, trailing ruby red oil with crispy Sev added to it makes for a beautiful sensory experience when eaten out doors, sitting on a ખાટલો | charpoy, on a chilly winters nights with fresh off the stove રોટલા | hand crafted millet rotis smeared with ghee. Bite into a fried green chilli ( mild ) or a hand smashed onion on the side, and all five senses feel an indescribable bliss. But the origins of the curry remain a classic “chicken or egg” conundrum to me. Whether it was a quick-witted and impromptu invention by a quick thinking lady of the house on a day when the guests arrived unannounced and then it made its way to restaurant menus because of the popularity. Or if it made a bold, sensational entry in home kitchens at the demands of clamouring kids and husband who wanted to eat out, I cannot say. All I can say is that the combination is 🔥!

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Posted in Dips, Raitas and Sides, Kitchen 101, Recipes, Traditional Gujarati Recipes

Ghee Gaud / Ghee Gol – and some happy memories of a Gujarati childhood!

ઘી ગોળ | Ghee Gol or Ghee Gaud is Jaggery mashed with Ghee until smooth, shiny and silky. Since the last time I shared it in one of my meals, it has had quite a few requests. So I decided to get it up on the blog asap.
If I were to be absolutely candid, I am a tad bit hesitant and awkward as I type this. Because never in my mind ( or in any true blue Gujarati’s mind ) does it occur that Ghee Gol needs a separate post. It is like making instant noodles , it is easier than making instant noodles. It is a no brainer that it is more wholesome than instant noodles / ramen bowls. But for us Gujarati kids, ( ‘kids’ part is purely metaphorical, I am old 🤣) , it is more close to our hearts than one can imagine because it is one of those very very early solid foods we eat. Mostly used variety is the Desi variety, deep brown to amber in colour. But sometimes the light, honey coloured beauty called Kolhapuri jaggery / Chikki wala Gud would appear too. Once our milk teeth sprout, our primary introduction to sweetness other than fruits is jaggery. As we grew older, it became our energy / granola bar when rolled into a fulka/chapati/rotlo leftover from lunch, just before we skip out of our homes to play. After that, Ghee Gol blends into the cacophony of adulthood. Never quite disappearing out of our diets, but never do our minds acknowledge it. It makes guest appearances at Uttarayan in Chikkis or in Golpapdi when we are traveling. It doesn’t matter if the travel is 2 days long or 20. Most Gujaratis have a dabba of Golpapdi stashed somewhere. We exhibit our Theplas in full glory but hoard our Golpapdi surreptitiously, rationing the supplies to make it last longer! And then when we grow older, we indulge in nostalgia like I am doing. I could go on without making any more sense so I will stop. There is a richness in jaggery’s sweetness that makes one feel warm, fuzzy & cosy. The recipe starts & ends in the name itself. But then I felt may be, it is uncharted waters for people who are unfamiliar with Gujarati food. So here it is. Adding the process below.

The image is from my own instagram account and can be found here

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Posted in Dystopia, Fantasy, Fiction, My Bibliothèque, Science Fiction

{ Book Review} – The Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu!

The Paper Menagerie and Other StoriesThe Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It would be extremely easy for me to club The Paper Menagerie into Science Fiction genre. And technically, it would not be so wrong either. It is an anthology of 15 stories each of which picks one thread from a varied range of human frailties or whims and then takes you on a story telling trip where the reader would easily want to believe the supernatural and otherwise unbelievable. In my humble opinion, Liu dabs a few strokes of sci-fi, fantasy and dystopia on a predominantly chromatically dull backdrop of human values & thought process for a few bursts of colour. Or may be to he does it to make his stories more believable because humans do behave strangely more often than not and without much rationality too. There is a smattering of historical fiction too which makes us introspect if we, as a race, have evolved at all. I found many readers describing it as speculative fiction and the word intrigues me. Because yes, the book did cause me to speculate, in a healthily curious way. The author has put together a collection of his works and once you have read it, it is no surprise to you that the stories have been finalists/shortlisted or won several prestigious literary prizes.

The image is from my own instagram account and can be found here

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Posted in Indian Curries, Recipes

Shahi Paneer – Rich, Luscious but Easy restaurant style gravy!

Today, Shahi Paneer isn’t a big deal or a speciality for dinner for me but as a kid, I was so so fascinated by it. Creamy, silky orange gravy a little on the sweeter side than the paneer Butter Masala with fat Paneer chunks floating around. Paneer was such a rarity then that I remember mom making sure one of us didn’t monopolised or took more than our share of pieces 😆. So, before YouTube and Blogs came out, we used to buy those small satchets of spice mixes ( often from small brands like Suhana and Rasoi Magic ) hoping to recreate some of that magic in our kitchens. Dissolve the mix in milk, simmer, add cream and viola!!! The Shaahi Paneer would appear magically on the dinner table making dinner an eagerly anticipated affair. Not too different from Open Sesame for a middle class Indian kid, no? 😁 To be honest, those satchets were pretty ordinary, but it was still had an enigma around them from the minute they were put into the shopping bag and until it was made into curry. Good ol days! 💕 Sigh! Now ofcourse I make it frequently, and it is no longer a novelty and make it more frequently. But those portioned pieces of my childhood have brought me more joy than the today’s unlimited portions at the restaurant buffets. I have made this recipe several times now and it comes out perfect every single time. Hope you like it! ☺️💕

The image is from my own instagram account and can be found here

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