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.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Herb-Roasted Tomato & Basil Soup

Its Tuesday. Saturday is THREE whole days away. Work has been slightly busy since I have a presentation coming up at the end of this week, and I wanted to keep dinner as simple as possible, and in sync with our on-going resolution to eat healthy (excuse the chocolate mousse, but we have our weak moments!)
Soups are the easiest and healthiest route to a filling, delicious dinner for Vineet and me. The large batch of tomatoes stashed in the fridge (that were beginning to go soft!), made our decision much easier. This is a slight twist on a traditional tomato soup. Its loaded with the goodness of carrots, celery and (ofcourse!) tomatoes with the fresh basil giving it a beautiful peppery flavour. Enjoy!

This recipe is quantified to make 4 medium or 3 large bowls of Soup.

- 5 nos. medium Tomatoes
- 2-3 cloves Garlic,sliced
- 1 large Onion, diced
- 1/2 cup Celery, diced
- 1/2 cup Carrots, diced
- 10-12 fresh Basil leaves, chopped
- 1 -1/2 tbsp Extra-virgin Olive oil
- 1-1/2 tbsp Olive oil (to sautee veggies)
- 1 tbsp Dried Thyme
- Cracked Black pepper &
- Salt to taste

1.) Pre-heat the oven to 180 deg C. Take 4 of the tomatoes. Cut into quarters. Lay out onto a baking tray. Drizzle the extra-virgin olive oil over the tomato. Dust the tomato wedges with the dried thyme. Roast in the oven for about 40 mins.

2.) Meanwhile, Heat the Olive oil in a saucepan. Saute the chopped Garlic and Onions till soft. Add the Celery and carrots and saute. Cover the pan with a lid and let the veggies "sweat" and cook in their own steam.

3.) Chop the 5th tomato into chunks. Discard seeds. Chop the basil leaves. Add the chopped tomato and basil leaves to the saucepan and replace the lid. Cover and cook till the carrots are soft enough to mash with the back of a spoon. Switch off the heat.

4.) Dissolve the soup cube in 1/2 a cup of hot water. Transfer the Sauteed veggies to a blender. Puree on pulse mode. Add the dissolved soup cube & water, and the roasted tomato wedges. Add a little more water (another 1/2 cup) and blend till the soup is thick and smooth.

5.) Transfer the blended soup back into the saucepan. Drizzle an additional 1 tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil on top if you like (i do!). Pour the milk into the soup and bring to a full boil.

6.) Garnish with a sprig of basil leaves and enjoy with some toasted bread! :)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Tandoori Chicken

Ahh! Tandoori chicken.... we made this at home for the first time ever last night...and i'm still dreamy eyed... Spicy, juicy and deliciously scorched in parts, this is probably the yummiest version of cooking chicken the healthy way.

- 700 g Chicken, mixed parts like thighs, drumsticks and breast pieces
- 2 tbsp Salt
- 1 large Lime
- 1 cups strained/ hung Yoghurt
- 2 tbsp Ginger-Garlic paste
- 4 tbsp Everest Tandoori chicken masala
- 1 tbsp red Chilli powder
- 2 tbsp Butter (melted)

1.) Wash and clean the chicken. Trim any skin or visible fat with a pair of sharp scissors. Rub the chicken pieces with the salt and lime juice and set aside in a bowl for 15 mins.

2.) Strain the yoghurt using a thin cotton fabric to remove most of its water content (about 30-40 mins). Whisk together the hung yoghurt, ginger-garlic paste, tandoori chicken masala, chilli powder and a little salt. Pour over the salt & lime rubbed chicken pieces.
Cover and marinate for atleast 2 hours or preferably overnight in the refrigerator.

3.) Remove the marinated chicken from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature. Meanwhile, preheat the 'grill' on your oven. Shake off the excess marinade from the chicken and set it on a wire-rack. Drizzle some of the melted butter over the chicken and grill till its nicely browned (about 12-15 mins each side)

4.) Once cooked, allow the chicken to rest for a few minutes. A few rings of sliced Onions, a big squirt of lime juice, and Eat up!

If you cant find the Tandoori chicken masala, you can make some of your own. You need:
3 tbsp ground Cumin + 2 tbsp ground Coriander + 5-6 ground Cloves +1 tsp ground Cinnamon + 1 tsp Turmeric powder + 1 tsp red Chilli powder.

Super-Quick Chocolate Mousse

Making desserts is probably my most favorite activity in the realm of cooking, and even more so when it involves chocolate. The best part about using chocolate, is that it goes beautifully with so many ingredients... coffee, rum, nuts, fruit... and yet, its wholesome and delicious all on its own. The greed-inducing glistening dark chocolate, the smoothness of the cream, and slightly bitter aftertaste of the liqueur, makes this chocolate mousse unadulterated evil :) Gelatin gives the mousse a soft jelly-ish consistency. But since I wanted to get this done VERY quickly, I referred Nigella's chocolate mousse recipe which uses marshmallows. I tweaked the flavors a little and voila! I had 6 glasses of Mousse in a 15 minutes!

- 150 g plain Marshmallows
- 50 g unsalted Butter (soft)
- 250 g Plain dark chocolate (bar or chips)
- 60 ml hot Water
- 250 ml heavy Cream
- 1 tsp Vanilla Essence
- 30 or 60 ml Baileys Irish Cream liquer
(Or Dark Rum / or / Black coffee) (as per taste)
- 1/4 cup Almond flakes (toasted) to garnish

1.) Put the marshmallows, butter, chocolate chips in a non-stick saucepan. Heat gently. Pour the hot water over the mixture to help the marshmallows melt. Keep stirring to keep the mixture from scorching.

2.) While the marshmallows melt, whip the heavy cream & vanilla essence in a seperate bowl till its nice and thick. Fold into the marshmallow mixture gently. Add the Baileys Irish cream or rum at this point and mix gently.

3.) Scoop the mousse while its still warm into tall glasses or dessert bowls. Allow it to set in the refrigerator for atleast an hour or two.

4.) Toast the almond flakes on a non-stick pan or in the oven and sprinkle over the chilled mousse right before serving. Yum!

I have also made another version of this using fresh strawberries. I left out the Rum/Coffee and used only the vanilla essence to flavor the chocolate. Also, I allowed the mousse to cool just a little bit (room temp) in the saucepan itself.
I layered the mousse using fresh sliced strawberries. So, a layer of sliced berries, a scoop of mousse...3 or 4 layers, of glistening chocolate and luscious berries...Mmm... fabulous!

Seriously, does it get any easier than this?

Pasta Salad with Tomatoes & Olivada with Yoghurt marinated Grilled Salmon

Weekends are god's way of showing us that he loves us...It gives us the extra time to do stuff that we put off on the other 5 days of the week - like spring cleaning, doing laundry, catching up on sleep, and....guiltily updating your cooking blog that is 2 weeks overdue :(
For a while now I've been trying to experiment with Salads that are more "main course". I came across some very interesting Pasta salad recipes on, and these seemed to be a perfect choice for main-course salad meals. This Pasta Salad with peppers, tomato and Green Olivada, is all vegetarian, and we enjoyed this served with a grilled fillet of Salmon. Needless to say, it was a very satisfying meal, and a nice break from our usual weeknight dinner :)


Ingredients for Olivada:
1 large clove Garlic, peeled

1/2 cup pitted Green Olives, roughly chopped
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata Olives, roughly chopped,
2 tbsp Capers, drained
1 tbsp Red wine Vinegar
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp Red chilli flakes
1/4 cup Extra-virgin Olive oil

Ingredients for Salad:
1 cup Whole-wheat pasta ( I used Fusilli)
1 cup Cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup fresh Mozzarella balls
2 tbsp fresh Oregano / or Basil, chopped
1 Red bell pepper (capsicum), finely sliced

Method for Olivada:
1.) Mince the garlic clove in a food processor. Add the Olives, capers, and all other ingredients except the Olive oil.
2.) Process on 'pulse' mode till chunky. Add the olive oil little by little and puree the mixture into a thick-ish paste-like consistency. Set aside.

Method for Salad:
1.) Cook the pasta in salted boiling water till its cooked, but not too soft and still has some 'bite'. Drain the hot water and pour chilled / iced water over the cooked pasta to keep it from cooking with any residual heat. Let it drain and transfer to a large mixing bowl.
2.) Drizzle the pasta with some extra virgin Olive oil and season with freshly cracked pepper and gently toss to coat.
3.) Add the halved cherry tomatoes, sliced bell peppers (capsicum) and mozzarella balls.
4.) Add the Olive paste (Olivada) and toss to coat the pasta and vegetables. Best served chilled.


350 g x 2 nos, Salmon fillets
1 cup Yoghurt (slighly sour)
1-1/2 tbsp Cumin powder
1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
1 tsp Red chilli powder
1 tsp Ginger-garlic paste
1 wedge of lime
Salt, to taste

1.) Mix the yoghurt with the rest of the spices and other ingredients. 
2.) Rinse the fillets under running water and pat dry. Make 1/2" deep slits in the flesh of the fish. 
3.) Rub the marinade all over the fillet and allow it to marinate for atleast 2 hours or preferably overnight.
4.) Heat the grill. Shake of excess marinade from the fillet and grill under high heat till nicely browned to your liking... I like the meat to be slightly scorched in parts... yum! Allow the fish to rest for a few minutes. Squirt some lime juice and Eat up! 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Spiced Grilled Chicken with Tomato-Shallot Chutney!

Ingredients: (For Chicken)
2 Skinless Chicken breasts
4 tbsp Olive oil
1 long red fresh Chilli, chopped
1 tbsp chopped Garlic
1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
1 tbsp Cumin seeds
1 tbsp Fennel seeds
6-7 Basil leaves, chopped
1/2 cup Red wine Vinegar
1 tsp Brown Sugar (or white)
Salt, for sprinkling, to taste

Method: For Chicken
1.) Heat 2 tbsp of the Olive oil in a pan. Add the chopped red chillies, followed by the chopped garlic, turmeric, cumin and fennel seeds. Add the chopped Basil. Stir fry for a few seconds.
2.) Slosh the red wine vinegar in the pan and add the brown sugar. Switch of the heat. Add the remaining 2 tbsp of oil and allow the mixture to cool down.
3.) This mixture is now the marinate for the chicken. Wash the breast pieces and pat them dry. Using a sharp knife, make 3 to 4 slits diagonally in the thickest parts of the chicken. Coat the chicken with the marinade using your hands. Rub the marinade into the slits cut in the chicken. Transfer into a metal or glass bowl, cover and marinate for at least 3 to 4 hours, or if possible, overnight.
4.) Pre-heat the grill to the highest temperature setting. Lay the chicken on metal wire racks and grill for about 12-15 mins on each side.
5.) Allow the chicken to rest for about 3-5 mins inside the oven before serving.


Ingredients: For Chutney
1/2 cup Baby onions, halved
1/2 cup Cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tbsp Olive oil
1 tsp chopped Garlic
1/2 cup Red wine Vinegar
2 tsp Castor sugar
2-3 tbsp Soya Sauce
2-3 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce

Method: For Chutney
1.) Heat oil in a saucepan. Add the chopped garlic, followed by the halved baby onions. Sautee till the onions are browned.
2.) Add the red wine Vinegar. Stir in the castor sugar, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and allow the mixture to thicken.
3.) Add the halved cherry tomatoes, Soya sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Cook till the tomatoes soften. Switch off heat. Cool before serving.

Spoon a generous amount of chutney over the Chicken and serve along side some crusty bread. Best enjoyed with a glass of White wine :)

Real Thai, by Real Thai

Vineet and I are BIG fans of Thai food and have been wanting to cook Thai for a long time now. Although we love the commercially popular, red, green and yellow curries and raw papaya salads of the Thai world, I wanted to try something different ... something that real Thai's cook in their kitchen's regularly... put simply, almost a Aloo-gobhi-daal-chawal equivalent of Indian food.
Sudapim and Panintra, my Thai friends from work, offered to teach me... they shopped for all the ingredients, noted down and very patiently explained how things were done :) This is 100% aunthentic... and I quite enjoyed playing sous chef this time around...
Quantified to feed 2-3 persons, the Thai line-up for this post is:
1.) Thai Raw Mango Salad
2.) Chicken Basil
3.) Thai Chicken Soup
4.) Sudapim's Stir fry Garlic-Shrimp!


2 medium raw Mangoes
1 large Onion
1 small bunch Coriander, roughly chopped
5-6 tbsp Roasted Peanuts, coarsely ground
3-4 tsp dried Shrimp
1 red Padi Chilli
2 tbsp brown Sugar
1 tsp Fish sauce
2 tsp Soya Sauce
1 Lemon

1.) Wash and dry the mangoes. Peel using a vegetable peeler. Cut into thin-match stick- like strips. A traditional Thai technique to make these shredded mango strips is to hold the peeled mango in one hand. Using a sharp knife, make quick dices in the flesh length-wise. Then hold the knife parallel to the surface of the mango, and shave off the shredded pieces. Transfer into a bowl. Set aside.
(This can be tricky and I almost diced my thumb off a couple of times... so if you tend to be as clumsy as me, then stick to the safer option of actually cutting them normally...Will take slightly longer, but at least you have all fingers intact!)

2.) Peel and cut the onion in half. Slice finely, to more or less match the size of the mango strips. Add to the shredded mango.

3.) Finely chop the Padi chilli, shred the coriander leaves by hand and add to the salad bowl. Add the dried shrimp and toss gently.

4.) For dressing: Heat a non-stick saucepan. Dissolve the sugar in about 1/2 cup of water and bring to a full boil. Add the fish sauce and soy sauce and continue to boil till the sauce thickens and becomes sticky. Add the coarsely ground roasted peanuts. Switch off heat and allow the sauce to cool a bit.

5.) Pour the sauce over the salad and toss gently to mix well. Garnish with a few sprigs of coriander and sliced red padi chilli (if you can handle the heat!).


Made with Minced chicken (kheema), and enjoyed with some piping hot steamed rice!

250g Chicken, minced (kheema)
1 bunch Thai Basil leaves (sweet basil), torn
3-4 cloves Garlic, minced
2 tbsp Fish Sauce
2 tbsp Soy Sauce
1 tbsp Oyster Sauce
1 tsp Sugar

1.) Heat the oil in a thick bottomed wok or kadhai. Stir fry the minced garlic. Add the chopped padi chilli followed by the roughly torn basil leaves.
2.) Add the Fish sauce, Oyster sauce and sugar, followed by the minced Chicken. Add the Soya sauce and continue to stir fry till the chicken is cooked. Enjoy with steamed rice.

Warning! The contents of the pan might suddenly catch fire while you stir fry... Don't panic - like I did - and just lower the flame and let the fire go out naturally :)


Tom yum soup is a kind of Thai soup that is known for its broth which is both savoury, spicy, and sour. This soup is incredibly flavorful, very light on the stomach and extremely healthy. Sudapim's only special instruction is to not 'stir' the soup as it boils - That might be to allow a slow release of all the flavors of the soups ingredients.

5-6 Chicken drumsticks
2 large Tomatoes, cut into large chunks
8-10 button Mushrooms, cut in half
1 large onion, cut into large-ish chunks
1-1/2 Knorr Chicken/Vegetable soup cubes
3-4 Lime leaves, cut into thin strips
2 stalks, Lemon grass, bruised
1-1/2" pc of Ginger, sliced into rounds
2 Lemons
2 tbsp Fish Sauce
2 tsp roast Garlic
1 bunch Coriander,roughly chopped

1.) Heat 3-4 cups of water in a thick bottomed pot. Add the chunks of Onion, Tomatoes and Mushroom, and allow the them to simmer in the water. Dissolve the Knorr soup cubes into the simmering broth.
2.) Bruise 2 stalks of lemon grass using a mortar pestle or the blade of your knife. Add it to the soup, followed by the ginger.
3.) Cut the lime leaves into thin strips and add it to the pot, along with the fish sauce and roasted garlic.
4.) Bring the soup to a full boil. Reduce heat and add the chicken drumsticks. Keep boiling till the chicken is tender and cooked.
5.) Switch off the heat and add the lemon juice and coriander and allow the soup to rest for a few minutes. Tom YUM, Indeed! :)


This is something chef Sudapim concocted herself... It's a super quick and very yummy stir-fry shrimp, flavoured with basic Thai sauces - fish sauce, oyster sauce and Soya sauce (What's not to like, right?)  The thai padi chilli, adds a lot of heat, so have a glass of chilled water on stand-by! :)

12-15 Prawns/ Shrimp, shelled & chopped
1-1/2 tbsp Vegetable oil
2-3 Garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp roast minced Garlic
1 red thai padi Chilli
1-1/2 tbsp Soya sauce
1 tbsp Fish sauce
1 tbsp Oyster sauce
1 small bunch Coriander, chopped
1 lime, to squeeze

1.) Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan. Stir-fry the chopped garlic and padi chilli.
2.) Add the Fish sauce, the Oyster sauce and the Soya sauce, followed by the roast garlic.
3.) Add the chopped shrimp. Stir fry and cook for a couple of minutes. 
4.) Garnish with copped coriander and a squirt of lime juice.