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 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 🔥!

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

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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 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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Posted in Biryanis, Pilafs and Rice based Dishes, One Pot Meals, Recipes

Tehri – a potful of simplicity, comfort, winter produce and deliciousness!

So, I had heard about Tehri on and off from friends for about a decade, Tehri being a very popular weekend meal consisting of a rice and vegetables cooked in a pot with minimal spices for a lot of families in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Or so I have been told by friends. And due to my unfamiliarity, those conversations always ended in ‘Yes, it is kind of like Pulao but not the same.” sort of ending. But over the years, I have realised hardly any Indian recipe is standardized across homes. Each of them have their own special touch and if nothing else, they are most certainly modified to accommodate the whims of a fussy family member. However, one thread of commonality did rise to the top – Tehri is mostly not about opulence or grandeur. Tehri is mundane, it is a respite from the routine, both for the tummy and for the person who usually handles the workings of the household and the kitchen. So, vegetables may vary, spices may vary – some add turmeric, some do not. Some add whole spices to the tempering, some do not even add the standard cumin and mustard seeds. And so on. But no one adds richness to it, like nuts or so. And most commonly, mustard oil is the medium of tempering, although Ghee is fairly common now, may be because a lot of folks find the mustard oil strong and pungent. I respectfully disagree. I think, the rest of us, have never learnt to handle it correctly. The process of heating it until it starts to smoke and turns paler yellow really takes away that pungency in m observation. But, to each their own and I never tire of repeating it. So here is my version of Tehri without further ado.

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

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Posted in Indian Curries, Recipes

Baghare Tamatar | Tamatar ka Salan – juicy, ripe tomatoes cooked in a thin, flavourful broth of sesame seeds, peanuts and spices!

If you are even vaguely familiar with the cuisine from the Deccan Plateau, often called the cuisine of the Nizams and their princely legacy, I am pretty sure you would have heard of the brinjals cooked in a nutty, slightly sour and aromatic base, where the final dish is called Baghare Baigan. Baghare Tamatar are cooked in a very similar way in the same flavourful base. Some people even drop hard boiled and lightly fried eggs into this same base after cutting into half. In fact, the curry called Ande ka Salan is again pretty similar to this version. So, call it what you like best and if you do eat eggs, add some! Or else skip them like I did. It tastes awesome the either way.

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

Continue reading “Baghare Tamatar | Tamatar ka Salan – juicy, ripe tomatoes cooked in a thin, flavourful broth of sesame seeds, peanuts and spices!”

Posted in Indian Curries, Recipes

Al Yakhni , Bottle gourd cooked in a mustard oil flavoured, yogurt based broth with fragrant spices!

My relationship with bottle gourd, aka Lauki/Gheeya/Doodhi, is pretty complicated. I have got nothing against its taste which is, to be honest, pretty neutral. But I did not grow up eating several versions of curries made with Lauki. We Gujaratis love our Doodhi Na Muthiya and Doodhi Na Theplas/Dhebras but Lauki doesn’t really shine in those preparations. It definitely adds a lovely moist texture to them and helps make soft Muthiyas and Theplas without adding too much oil ( moisture from grated bottlegourd does the trick ) but I suppose most moms employ the vegetable here in order to feed fussy kids not the budding vegetable connoisseurs. So the only curries I prepare with bittlegourd is the standard Gujarati Doodhi Chana ni Daal nu Shaak and the slightly more interesting Doodhi ma Gaanthiya nu Shaak . And occasionally the one with potatoes. So you would understand why I need to expand my bottle gourd repertoire. And Al Yakhni is exactly and endeavour to do that. Internet tells me that while typically Yakhni is a meat broth and yogurt based preparation in Kashmiri cuisine, here it is nothing but Al ( bottle gourd ) cooked in a thin yogurt ( curd ) broth redolent with fragrant spices. It is also redolent of the three spices that are iconic to Kashmiri Pandit cuisine: fennel | Saunf, dried ginger | Saunth and asafoetida | Hing. While these three spices are used here and there in Gujarati cuisine, it is nothing like how Kashmiri Pandits do it, its magic! Without further ado I will jump to the recipe.

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

Continue reading “Al Yakhni , Bottle gourd cooked in a mustard oil flavoured, yogurt based broth with fragrant spices!”