As someone who loves a good meal, cooking one, came to me as a natural passion. I belong to a family where meal times consisted of not just food, but also noisy conversation centered around the events of the day and discussing the menu for the next. (ah yes, we are a greedy lot! )

For the most part of my life so far, my contribution in the kitchen was assisting mom and my duties were limited, to chopping veggies and laying the table. Then along came the great Indian wedding, and I was suddenly the queen of my very own kingdom. My curiosity about this magical world, coupled with an enthusiastic sous-chef (my husband, Vineet), led me to take on the challenge of preparing meals on a daily basis, and not succumbing to the convenience of hiring a cook.

This blog is a product of my experiments with food (not all are life threatening :D) for my fellow culinary enthusiasts - especially the newly weds and hungry bachelors and is dedicated to the women who've inspired me in the kitchen;
Aji (s),Ma and Nigella Lawson.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Papaya-Orange Breakfast Smoothie

Breakfasts are the first meal of the day, that most of us including me, skip most of the times simply because we have just no time to put things together before we need to haul our reluctant selves to work...This section on beverages, which is not limited to non-alcoholic beverages (do I hear a, "thank god!" from you boys?) is my attempt to come up with something easy, delicious and healthy... basically, breakfasts-in-a-glass.
This recipe is super-healthy, low on fat and sugar, best made with freshly squeezed orange juice, and seriously takes all of 2 minutes if you take care to peel and cube the papaya the previous night. 

1 small Papaya - peeled, de-seeded & cubed
(approx. 2 cups cubed Papaya)
1 cup Orange juice
1 cup Yoghurt (dahi)
3 tbsp Honey ( Or 2 tbsp Sugar)
6-8 Ice cubes

Just stick everything in a blender, and give it a whirrrrrrrrrrr! Add  a few tablespoons of chilled water or a few more ice cubes if you feel its too thick.
Pour into a glass and sprinkle some ground nutmeg. Drink up! :)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Mushroom Mania!

Yet again, Saturday has rolled around 5 days too late... I'm tired of this nasty habit it has! Well anyway, as always, I like to welcome the weekend with something special... its my way of celebrating two days of much needed R&R at the end of the week. So here go this weekend's specials! A mushroom gravy I concocted by throwing together a few whole spices and some onions, and Baked eggs with tomato, that are perfect with some grilled bread and butter! Bon appetit!!

1 pkt. White button mushrooms - cut into halves depending on how big/small they are
2 medium Onions - thinly sliced
1 large Tomato - chopped
1 medium Potato - cut into 1/2" cubes and par-boiled
1 tbsp Ginger-Garlic paste - preferably fresh
1 tsp Turmeric powder
1 tbsp Cumin powder (jeera)
1 tbsp Coriander powder (dhania)
1 tsp Red Chilli powder
1 tbsp Black peppercorns- coarsely ground
Whole Spices:
1-1/2" stick Cinnamon + 2 Black Cardamoms + 4-5 Cloves + 1/2 tsp Black peppercorns (whole) + 1 tsp Fennel seeds (saunf) + 1 Bay leaf (tej patta)

1.  In a small bowl, measure out and set aside all the 'whole' spices. Heat oil, and all add whole spices except the bay leaf. Saute the spices till they're fragrant and start to sizzle and pop. Add the bay leaf and stir for a few seconds before adding the chopped onions and the ginger-garlic paste.

2. Fry the onions till they're nicely browned, stirring occasionally. Add the chopped tomatoes and cover the pan with a lid. Allow the tomatoes to cook in their own juices for a few minutes. Add the potatoes, Turmeric powder and Red chilli powder and cover again for another 2-3 minutes.

3.  Add the chopped mushrooms. Add the remaining powdered spices - the Cumin powder, Coriander powder and coarsely ground peppercorns. Add 1/2 a cup of water and cover and simmer for about 5 minutes till the mushrooms are cooked. Garnish with chopped coriander right before you serve.

4.  Eaten best with fresh rotis, and sliced onions witha squirt of lime, but tastes equally stellar with plain steamed basmati rice.

5. Burrrp! .......umm.... Ooops!

Baked Eggs with Tomatoes

This receipe makes for a light dinner for two. Serve it up with some toasted bread with or without a blob of butter. Its best made with cherry tomatoes as they keep their shape and don't wilt  into paste while cooking like ordinary tomatoes do, and also they look so pretty on the plate :)

1-1/2 tbsp Olive oil
2 medium Onions - finely chopped
1 Red Chilli - fresh, deeseeded and finely chopped
1 Garlic clove - sliced
1 Small bunch Coriander - chopped
500 g Cherry tomatoes - cut into halves
1 tsp Sugar
4 Eggs

1.  Heat The Oil in a frying pan. Add the chopped Onions, red chillies and garlic and cook for a few minutes until soft.
2.  Add the cherry tomatoes, sugar and part of the chopped coriander and let the mixture bubble away for a few minutes until the sauce is thick.
3.  Using the back of a wooden spoon, make 4 dips in the thick sauce. Crack an Egg into each. Cover with a lid and cook on low heat for about 6-8 minutes till the eggs are done to your liking. Garnish with Coriander and serve!

For a slightly more indulgent version of the same receipe...
Preheat the Oven to 180 deg. C. Once the sauce has thickened as per Step-2, transfer it into a oven-safe baking dish. Make the dips in the sauce and crack the eggs into them as per Step-3. Sprinkle a generous quantity of grated cheese (cheddar, since most of us have that in the fridge anyway) and bake till the Eggs are cooked and the cheese begins to bubble and brown.
Allow it to rest for a few minutes in the oven. Garnish with the chopped coriander and gobble it up! :)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Cinnamon rubbed Salmon with Couscous & Harissa Yoghurt

This past week has been a teeny-tiny bit stressful at work. Come Sunday, and I was in a mood to treat us to some good lunch, at the same time I din't exactly feel like spending half my morning in the kitchen (Yes, I'm up on Sunday mornings, so that I get a chance to experience "doing nothing"!). I usually pick up 'Good Food' (Asian edition) published by BBC to read on the train to work from time to time. I was flipping through it this morning when I came across this receipe that seemed healthy, and super quick that I'd been meaning to try for a while, and so, I did :)
I stepped out to pick up the ingredients that I was going to need, but couldn't find any Harissa paste, so I used Jamie Oliver's recipe and whipped up a jar of my own :-).
Also, friends in India, don't get worried when you read Greek yogurt, I'm aware that it isn't easily available in India yet. Greek yogurt is a Creamy thick, yogurt, that is not as tangy/tart as regular yogurt - Use a bowl of fresh homemade or shop-bought Dahi hang it in a clean muslin cloth to drain most of the water out till you get a creamy, thick yogurt. This isn't the exactly reciepe to make 'Greek yogurt', but it will do, and most definitely save you a couple of hundred rupees :)
Personally, I  loved the flavour of the cinnamon and honey against the natural saltiness of the salmon, and the home-made harissa and greek yoghurt gave it the necessary tang and spice. If you like grilled Salmon, i recommend you try this, tonight! :)

125 g Couscous
2 tbsp Raisins
1 small bunch Coriander
1/2 tsp Cinnamon powder
150 ml Vegetable stock ( 1/2 cube dissolved in 150 ml of hot water)
1 tbsp Honey
1 tbsp Olive oil
2 salmon fillets ( about 300g each)
2 tbsp Harissa paste
1/3 cup Greek Yogurt
Salt + Cracked pepper for final seasoning if you like!

1.  Rinse the Salmon fillets under running water for a few seconds. Lay them into a baking tray lined with aluminum foil (the foil makes liefe easier, since you dont have to struggle with cleaning the baking tray afterwards).  Miix together the Honey, Olive oil and Cinnamon powder. Rub this mixture gently all over the fish and grill in a preheated oven @ 180 deg C, for about 12-15 mins, till the fish is nicely browned and cooked through.

2.  In a heatproof bowl, mix the Couscous, raisins and some of the chopped coriander. Pour the hot vegetable stock over it and cover with a lid and let it stand for about 6-8 mins, till the couscous soaks up all the liquid and fluffs up.

3.  Swirl together the Harissa paste and yogurt and chill for a couple of minutes in the refrigerator.

4.  Fluff the couscous, and divide onto 2 plates in a pile. Lay the piece of grilled salmon across it. Put a dollop of the Harissa yogurt on top, garnish with the remaining chopped coriander. Crack some of the black peppercorns and sprinkle some table salt (if you like) and EAT UP! :)


Harissa is a Tunisian hot chilli sauce commonly eaten in North Africa whose main ingredients are Piri piri chili peppers, serrano pepper or other hot chillis and olive oil. It is a standard ingredient of north African cuisine but is not also commonly used in Moroccan cuisine. I had a tough time finding Harissa this morning, so I figured that I'd try and give it a shot and make it myself. Needles to say, I surprised myself with how easy it was! 100% credit to Jamie Oliver for the super-easy receipe!

1 tbsp Cumin seeds (Jeera)
1 tbsp Coriander seeds (Dhania)
1 tbsp Carom seeds (Ajwain)
3 large Garlic cloves (chopped)
1 small Red Capsicum (roughly chopped)
3 fresh Red Chillies ( roughly chopped)
1 bunch fresh Coriander (roughly chopped)
1/2 tsp Salt
3-4 tbsp Olive Oil


1. Dry roast the Cumin, Coriander and Carom seeds. Roughly grind using a mortar-pestle. Set aside.
2. In a mixer, blend the red capsicum, chillies, coriander, garlic and the dried powdered spices along with the Olive oil.
3. Pour into a airtight bottle (preferably glass) and pour some olive oil on top. This layer of oil will help keep moisture out of the paste, and help it keep longer.
4. Cover and store in the fridge.

For those of you who are wondering, when else you will get a chance to use this harissa paste, especially if this is the first time your trying it out, mix it into the yogurt and simply use it as a dip with nachos :) Its yummy, don't waste it! :)