One cold day, about twenty-eight years ago, my mother entered a coffee shop in Italy and ordered a hot chocolate. It was the first time she ordered one in Italy, since she had just moved there with little Casper, my brother. What she got surprised her; the cup was hot and steaming, but this was not hot chocolate, she thought. The consistency of whatever they had just served her was thick and almost not liquid anymore; it looked creamy and thick at the point she thought it was some sort of pudding.
So we in Bombay have no such thing as winter or autumn- or any such cozy concept. What we do have, however, is a lot of enthusiasm & hope Come November, there’s that lingering hopefulness that the temperature will drop just a wee bit; enough to cozy up on our couches, all snug in woolen things & nurse a warm bowl of something comforting…just.. like ..in ..the.. movies…….
My enthusiasm waits for no season- so although the weather is far from wintry, my new fave is the gorgeous Roasted Pumpkin & Feta Salad, I’m dying to share!
Deliciously sweet & salty with crunchy pine nuts-a warm bowl of this salad makes a healthy TV dinner for the laziest evening at home.
Red pumpkin-1/2 kilo roughly
Feta cheese-1 cup
Pine nuts-a handful
Coriander- a small bunch
Olive oil for tossing
Salt & freshly ground pepper
What you do is:
- Skin, deseed & dice up red pumpkin into 1” cubes.
- Season the pumpkin & toss in a little olive oil.
- Lightly brush a griddle pan with olive oil & roast the pumpkins on a medium heat- till tender & slightly charred. You could also roast in oven.
- Place in warm bowl & add crumbled chunks of feta cheese & toss.
- Chop up coriander & finely slice the red onion.
- Toss ‘em in with the warm pumpkin & Feta.
- Roast a handful of shelled pine nuts till toasty brown. Toss in.
- Serve warm with a wedge of lime!
Delicious & ready in a jiff-I told you, it’s mad easy!
Paddu or crispy dosa balls- to put it literally, if not authentically- is probably the easiest snack I’ve ever made. A South Indian breakfast or snack, the perfect Paddu uses simple ingredients- all you need is dosa batter + a Paddu Pan and a little magic!
So last evening, armed with my newly acquired Paddu pan & ready dosa batter I’d whipped up a bunch of these totally delicious little treats in a matter of 15 minutes. All thanks to this awesome family recipe shared by a fiendishly foodie friend of mine from Bangalore!
Would be a crime if not shared, so here goes !
Bite-sized Paddus – delicate, delicious and mouth-wateringly perfect!
First, you have to trek down to the nearest local market and hunt down this cast iron pan with little hollows- the infamous Paddu Pan, boys and ladies! Stores that cater to South Indian cookery, also selling Idli steamers, should stock these.
Now, all you need is:
2 cups of dosa batter
1 small finely chopped onion
1 green chili finely chopped
1 inch or less, finely minced ginger.
A handful of delicately chopped coriander leaves- I generally go bananas with coriander so a couple handfuls is what I’d chuck in!
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon asafoetida
salt to taste (if previously not added to the batter)
A handful of dried Poha ( flattened rice flakes) You could avoid this; as Poha makes the batter thicker.
A little oil or ghee for greasing the pan
Easiest method ever!
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Keep aside! That’s it- batter’s ready to go
The Paddu Pan
Heat the paddu pan on medium flame. Lightly brush oil/ghee in each hollow of the pan, just so that the batter does not stick to the pan.
Spoon in the batter into each hollow of the pan and cover the pan let the paddus cooks on medium heat, for about 10 minutes. Covering the pan would help building up steam, so it’s a good idea to pop on a lid. Be patient here and resist trying to flip over the little guys before time!
Once the tops of each little paddu looks steamed and partially cooked flip em over with help of a small spoon. Watch your knuckles; coz the pan gets real nasty when hot! Allow this side to cook uncovered for another couple of minutes. Both sides should turn a nice golden brown with a crunchy surface! The centre should be puffed, softer than the crust but well cooked.
Remove from the heat and pop ‘em into your favorite serving platter! A delicious coconut and coriander chutney makes a great accompaniment to these piping hot little wonders!
The toughest part comes now- trying to keep your hands off a piping hot platter of this gorgeous bite-sized snack that’s delicate, delicious and mouth-wateringly perfect! I’m diving back in.
Landed me a truckload of these gorgeous , not-too-sweet, perfectly crunchy and melt worthy ‘Om’ biscuits from V.B. Bakery, Bangalore!! Subtly flecked with Carom seeds or Ajwain, these bad boys are so light that no matter how many you scarf down, you find yourself reaching out to grab the next handful!
So the next time you have generous and food centric friends trekking over from Bangalore beg them to carry you a bagful, it’s the only sane thing to do.
To make doubly sure, give them the address as well
Sajjan Rao Circle, VV Puram, Bangalore
Plus for the overzealous there’s always the fascinating option of baking em at home! I know I am going to have to give it a try…
Makes: Eight 12″ Sticks or Sixteen 6″ Sticks
1 cup flour
1 tsp Ajwain or carom seeds
5 tsps Sugar; or to taste
1 tsp DryYeast
4 tbsps lukewarm water
3 1/2 tbsps Oil (Vegetable or sunflower)
1/2 tsp Salt
In a large bowl, combine the yeast, sugar and lukewarm water. Let stand for 10 minutes until bubbly and foamy.
Stir in flour, salt, Ajwain and oil into the yeast mixture. Stir together with a wooden spoon or beat with an electric mixer or just use your hands and knead until the dough is shiny, elastic,and soft, 3 to 5 minutes.
Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Toss the dough well to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and let the dough ferment at room temperature until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 180 deg C. Line a baking sheet with a parchment paper and keep aside.
After 2 hours, Punch the dough and Knead by hand on a lightly floured surface until very smooth and soft. Divide the dough into 8 equal parts. Using floured hands, stretch and roll each piece of dough into a thin 12-inch-long breadstick. Place the breadsticks about ½ inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. And set aside for about an hour till the dough slightly rises.
Bake at 180 deg C until golden and crisp, about 15-20 minutes. Transfer the baking sheets to a rack and let the breadsticks cool completely.
Recipe adapted from;
Occasionally, I get into these fitness binges & stuff my fridge with fruits of all types. And, as these outbursts last no more than a few hours, I’m often left with a huge amount of quickly-softening & over-ripening fruits! Never a good thing.
A frantic search on the net led me to this GORGEOUS recipe that turned a load of neglected pears into this decadent & delicious little dessert!
Had to share my version
Makes: two 9-inch tart cakes
For the pears:
- About 4 pears
- 1 1/2 cup water
- 1 1/2 cup red wine.
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
For the cake:
- 1 1/4 cup brown sugar- finer in texture the better.
- 100 ml red wine
- 150 g butter, I used salted.
- 100 g dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
- 1 Tbsp whiskey
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup buttermilk1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 cup flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
You Have to
Make the pears:
Peel pears and slice in half, removing core and stems. Place in a saucepan with the water, red wine and cinnamon. Make sure the pears are submerged, so a medium sized pan is the best fit! Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 20-25 mins until tender.
Remove pears from pan & keep aside liquid. Slice each half lengthwise so you have quarters, set aside for cake.
Simmer liquid for about 15-20 mins until reduced by half to a thick syrup, cool and set aside. This is the stunning sauce for the cake & the BEST part; so gorgeous & rich!
Make the cake:
Preheat oven to 180C, lightly butter base and sides of two 9-inch removable base tart tins.
Lightly whisk eggs in a medium bowl, set aside.
Now for the tricky (but rewarding) part! Spread sugar in the bottom of a large heavy-based saucepan. Cook over medium heat; do not stir until the sugar turns to liquid around the edges. With a large metal spoon gently drag the edges into the centre, continuing until all sugar is melted.
Remove the pan from heat, once the sugar is lightly caramalized, and immediately pour in the wine, stir vigorously but very carefully until the bubbling subsides and mixture is smooth. Again, be really patient during this step, as the contents of the pan are REALLY hot!
Once smooth, add in the butter & stir until mixture turns glossy. Add the chocolate and continue to stir until melted. Stir in whiskey.
Pour a little of the chocolate caramel into the beaten eggs, whisking vigorously. Pour egg mixture back into the pan with the remaining chocolate caramel and whisk until smooth.
Whisk in all remaining ingredients – buttermilk through baking soda – until smooth. Pour half the batter into each prepared pan. Gently place 8 quarters on top of the batter.
Bake for 25 minutes until just firm in the centre. Cool completely in tins before removing sides. Serve a warm slice with a scoop of the best vanilla ice cream plus a drizzle of the reserved wine sauce!
Recipe adapted from this gorgeous original:
Today, for the first time ever, I left a film before the end. The film in question was James Wan’s latest horror The Conjuring, which has been aggressively trailered for months. In the same ball park as films such as this year’s disappointing Dark Skies, this seemed like a better than average attempt at getting the haunted house genre right.
There is no Greater Love Than the Love of Eating
~ Britannia & Co – Since 1923
Trips to Town (or what suburban Bombayites like me call the land & sea beyond Bandra, anyway) are never complete if you don’t indulge in some good food & aimless jaywalking. Last week, I’m happy to say, I did both in good measures.
So post my customary stroll to the roadside bookstalls, I decided to try my luck at getting a table at Britannia & Co-this being a second attempt at elbowing my way into one of Bombay’s busiest & most talked about Iranian eateries.
Being a weekday, and an hour or so post the regular lunch rush hour, I was soon escorted to a cozy, checkered table – jaw agape at all the retro loveliness around me. The interiors alone, antiquated & eccentric, confirmed that I’d not be leaving anytime soon-coz I could stay for half the day just taking in the mazza. However, at Britannia & Co, this is not to be- as for others to enjoy a lovely meal, it is the right thing to leave as soon as you’re done demolishing your meal. (I may have borrowed this from one of the many house rules prominently displayed at the Co.)
Pallonjis’ Raspberry Soda
Anyway, before I knew what was happening I found myself ordering a fizzy raspberry soda- in a real glass batli- a Dhansak with brown rice & yes, The Berry Pulav.
Before I go any further & lose my audience, I have to come clean….see, I’m sort of vegetarian…except that I indulge in seafood & eggs, so in reality, I’m a confused & voracious foodie, who has a selective streak.
Great, that out of the way, you’ll understand why I ordered the Egg Berry Pulav instead of the much revered & politically correct Mutton BP. Let me quickly get to point that the Pulav is EVERYTHING it is said to be. Everything. Aromatic, but not cloyingly so, steaming long grained rice, rich caramelized onions, nutty & wholesome with just the right amount of cashew nuts for crunch, surprising little potato dumplings & the deliciously tart berries – my good sweet Lord… The Chefs at Britannia & Co do not stint on these berries (or the Zereshk, imported from Iran, I’ve been told). Piled high on the Pulav, with an indulgent flourish, these tangy babies are what completes this unique masterpiece & will have me queuing up for another platter again & again.
Egg Berry Pulav
The Dhansak & yummy brown rice, tho holding their own strongly, got my divided attention, so my drooling details on this dish could be kept for a later date.
I managed to top off the delicious meal with the also notorious & fascinatingly wobbly caramel custard-sweet & clean with the right amount of awesomeness.
Delicate Caramel Custard
When I did dig myself out of the comfortable Victorian confines of the Co., profusely thanking & almost bowing in reverence to the kindly owner (with the cutest old cat, snuggled on his desk ) I found my self in the setting sunlight, happy & dazed- in suspended animation- a state of bliss- I know there’s a song in this somewhere…
Britannia & Co-
Wakefield House, 11 Sprott Road, 16 Ballard Estate, Ballard Estate, Fort,
022 – 2261 5264 and 022 – 3022 5265
The cutest cat, snuggled at the front desk.
Kindly owners, make guests feel at home.