Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Recipe: Toffee Bananas. An initiative for #SeedTheRiseChallenge by Mahindra Rise.

Some recipes remind you of a certain moment. They take you back in time, and transport you to the exact place, the exact feeling, the exact fragrance. Much like the scene from the movie Ratatouille where the food critic takes one bite of the dish and is instantly transported to his childhood. I have a similar story to share.

When I was a kid, we used to travel by train to and from our native place, Karwar. It was an annual visit for Ganesh Chaturthi, back in the day when all the "modern" things were still not available in villages so we used to carry everything for everyone from Mumbai, and it wasn't possible to take it all on a flight. We used to travel by Nethravati Express as it was one of the only trains that had a pantry. The main reason was the delicious fried Bananas that were sold on the train, fresh out of the pantry, and it was something me and my brother looked forward to every year!

Years passed by, convenience took over everything else and we started taking flights every year. The memories of the fried Bananas got lost somewhere till I was watching an episode of Food Safari on TV and someone cooked Toffee Bananas. It was an instant trip to the train journeys and the happiness. I just knew I had to recreate this.

Call it the perfect opportunity, but #SeedTheRiseChallenge happened just at the right time for me. We are paying homage to the hardworking farmers of India and celebrating with recipes of ingredients that are largely produced on our soil. Bananas had to top the list, and I knew I had to make these! Seed The Rise Campaign is a crowdfunding initiative set up by Mahindra to help improve the lives of Indian farmers who have been betrayed by the bad weather. Working with 5 NGO-led projects across India, the campaign is looking to raise Rs. 2 crores in public donations. What's more - each donation will be matched by Mahindra to double the benefit for the farmers. Check out their website to know more or to donate You can also watch their TVC here: 

Coming back to the recipe, it is super quick, ready in 30 minutes from start to finish, and is so easy that it is almost unfair for something so easy to be this delicious! Here it goes:

Toffee Bananas
Serves 2
Takes 30 minutes
Recipe credit: Darwin from Food Safari


2 Bananas
1/2 Cup Flour
2/3 tsp Baking Powder
A pinch of Salt
1/2 Cup Corn Flour, plus a little extra for dusting.
1/3 Cup Cold Water
Oil for frying
1/2 Cup Sugar
Ice, for ice bath.

Heat a pan for frying, with a level of about an inch of Oil.

Mix the flour, baking powder, salt and corn flour in a bowl. Add cold water and mix the batter by hand, so as to not form lumps. It should be a thick consistency, but also easy to pour.

Chop the Bananas as per preference. I chopped them diagonally into thick slices. Take some corn flour in a plate and dredge the banana slices in it. This helps the batter stick to the otherwise slimy Banana slices.

Once the Oil is heated, coat the Banana slices with the batter and fry till golden on both sides, about 3-4 minutes. Don't crowd the pan with too many slices, as that can lower the oil temperature. 4 slices at once is a good amount! You may need to adjust the consistency of the batter with cold water as you go, it tends to thicken as it sits.

Drain the fried Banana slices on a paper towel. Mean while, heat up the sugar on medium in a non stick pan. Add few drops of water if desired, and wait patiently till it turns into a gorgeous golden caramel.

While this happens, ready a bowl with lots of ice and water and keep ready.

Once the caramel is ready, add few slices of the fried Bananas to it, coat them well and immediately add them to the ice bath. Repeat till all slices are done. The ice water shocks the caramel and turns it into a super crispy exterior.

And that is it! Toffee Bananas are ready. Just imagine biting into these crunchy goodies that are oozing with melt-in-the-mouth Banana goodness inside! I recommend all of you to try it soon! :)

Monday, October 19, 2015

My fascination with Kolkata and Durga Pujo. #MishtiMoments

Image Credit: Speaking Photos/Google Images.

I have been thinking of writing about my travels on this blog for the longest time, but a number of factors keep stopping me. 'What about my blog identity? It is a food blog after all, you know'. Oh, 'what will people think?' or 'I don't wanna be someone who comes off as the one who jumped into the barrage of budding travel photographers.' or 'will I ever be able to keep it up?' But then I thought, hey, it IS my blog, and whatever I do is the blog's identity. Besides, what is food without travel anyway? If you've read my About Me, you'd notice that is exactly where I have always wanted to take my blog. So I have decided to go ahead with my travel escapades.

Image Credit: Images

I have always been in awe of Kolkata. I have never visited that side of the country, and it has always fascinated me. My friend Poulami, who lives in Kolkata, probably doesn't know that I imagine in awe, every time she describes a place she went to, or the food she ate, or how ecstatic she gets when she brings fish every weekend to cook at home after a tiring work-filled week. When I was a kid, my  mother, being a flying crew used to have layovers at Calcutta and would bring back Roshogolla, Sondesh and Kheerkhodom. All I remember from that time is feeling very, very happy after devouring all those treats! As I grew up, I grew fond of Jhal Muri, something I hated as a kid, and always wished to stuff my face with Puchkas. I had my first full Bengali meal at Bhojohori Manna in Oshiwara. Even for a meal at a restaurant, it was truly a warming experience and the food was absolutely delicious.

Image Credit: Google Images
Every Bengali I have ever known is over the moon ecstatic every year during the Durga Pujo period. Houses are tidied up, new clothes are shopped for, everything and everyone is so happy to welcome Ma Durga :) Now forgive me if I get this wrong, but it is all in my imagination. I'm hoping it would all be a déjà vu when I actually experience it. I am waiting to go Pandal hopping from one place to another, and just immerse myself in the electric atmosphere, where the city stays awake for 3 days and 3 nights straight. I want to eat all the delicious food from Luchi Alur Dom in the morning to Sukto, Bora, Daal, Chutney, Shob Melano Torkari all through the day. Not to forget Kosha Mangsho, Chingri Malaikaari and a healthy dose of desserts from Sondesh to my favorite Bengali food item ever, Mishti Doi. I have pleasant memories of having one little cup of Mishi Doi every day from Mother Dairy, back when I lived in Delhi. It was not available everywhere during those days, but thankfully nowadays it has become easy to find this Bengali delicacy for us, which not just tastes great but is also packed conveniently.

Durga Pujo has already started and the atmosphere is happy and electrifying! Tell Mother Dairy your #MishtiMoments in the form of a picture or a video on their microsite, and you could win prizes up to Rs. 1 Lac! Happy Durga Pujo to everyone! :)

Friday, July 24, 2015

Recipe: Kesar Phirni and Rose Phirni!

I am of the firm belief that food binds religions together. I love that people of all faiths indulge in the food specialty of every religion, not to mention even take part in full fledged celebrations all around the world. I feel honored to have friends who come over to our house during Ganesh Chaturthi and help around the kitchen while making ukadiche modak for the deity's offering, or when all of us go together to a Gurudwara and do seva together. Me and my brother go around our apartment complex every year without fail, with a plate full of faraal (a variety of sweets and savoury snacks including laddu, karanji, chakli, barfi etc.) during Diwali to the doorsteps of all the families regardless of what their religion is.

This year I missed out on visiting Mohammed Ali Road during the holy month of Ramadan. For those of you who don't know, Mohd. Ali Road is THE place to be during this month, with an overdose of food awesomeness along the streets ranging from Keema Pav, Kebabs, Offal masala, Biryanis, Baida Rotis, Ice Creams, Malpuas with luscious Rabdi, Gulab Jamun, Halwa Poori... The list goes on and on! Just because of the excellent offerings, this place has become the go-to destination for every foodie in Mumbai and off late a popular place for curated food walks as well. I must confess, I have never been to Mohd. Ali Road before. But every year, someone or the other brings lots of packed goodies home and at least I get to devour them.

I have been so upset about completely missing out on all the yummy things, especially my favorite dessert - Phirni. Phirni is kind of a rice pudding which originally has its roots in the Middle East. You can find versions of this dish all over the region. Here is a special tidbit: Whenever there is a special occasion at home I ask my mom to make Phirni for dessert and she always, always makes Kheer instead. When I argue with her, she tells me that it is the same thing. But it isn't. Kheer can be served warm or cold but the awesomeness that is Phirni, needs to be served chilled. Not just that, Phirni is made out of coarsely ground rice whereas Kheer can also be made out of whole rice. By now, I am sure you can already tell that I really have missed my dessert.

I went to the market to get milk and thanks to Mother Dairy's price drop by 2 rupees I stocked up on multiple packets of milk. Which is why I could make not one but two kinds of Phirni! I prefer Mother Dairy milk to make my Kheer and Phirni as it definitely yields better results over the skimmed milk variety which is usually consumed in my house. #TooGoodForTwoLess indeed! Mother Dairy has been a trusted name since its establishment in 1974 for all things related to dairy. I, for one, am a sucker for their Mishti Doi among other favourites such as their Dahi, Paneer and Ice Creams! So here's the recipe for Kesar Phirni and the original Rose Phirni! :)

Serves 4
Takes 40 minutes + Chilling time. 

1/2 Cup Basmati Rice
1 Litre Mother Dairy Milk
3/4 Cup Sugar (I use less, you can add more if you like but this works just fine)
6-8 Cardamom pods (Elaichi), powdered (alternatively 1 tsp Elaichi Powder)
12-15 strands of Saffron (Kesar)
4 drops Rose Water
8-10 Blanched Almonds
8-10 Pistachios, slivered.
Aluminium Foil, cut into squares that fit the circumference of the serving bowls. 


Heat the milk in a thick bottomed non stick pan till it comes up to the boil. While the milk is heating up, grind the rice in a spice grinder to a coarse powder, make sure it isn't too fine. 8-10 pulses do the trick for me.

Reserve 2 tbsp milk when it reaches a decently warm temperature. Add the saffron strands in this milk and set aside for later.

Place the Almonds in a microwave safe bowl and cover with water. Microwave for 90 seconds. Let them cool slightly and then peel them. Slice or chop as desired. Set aside for later.

When the milk comes to a rolling boil, reduce the heat to low. Add in the ground rice and sugar. stir constantly so as to avoid any lumps. Note down the time at this point. Keep stirring occasionally. Do not cover your pan.

Give the mixture around 10 minutes, and then add in the Almonds and Cardamom Powder. Give it a good stir. If you are making Kesar Phirni, add in the saffron strands as well. (I divided my milk mixture into two and added Saffron to half of it, since I was making two types of Phirni)

Save some Almonds for garnish and add the rest to the Phirni and continue to cook till the rice is done and the desired consistence is reached. The Phirni should be set in the bowls upon chilling, but it is important to know that Phirni thickens as it cools, so a slightly pourable consistency works best.

For the Classic Rose Phirni, turn off the heat and add in the Rose Water. Give it a good stir. Let the Phirni cool till it reaches room temperature. Transfer the Phirni to bowls and garnish with Pistachios and Almonds. I used Rose petals as well.

Place Aluminium Foil squares on the bowls and press so that the surface of the foil touches the Phirni. We do this because Phirni forms a skin on top if left uncovered, and that is not very desirable. Chill the Phirni bowls thoroughly, and remember, serve them chilled too! :)


Friday, March 20, 2015

Two Recipes with Dal! Dhokla and Mulligatawny Soup!

Did you guys know that World Water Day is around the corner? I, for one, have been in the water-wasters club for many years, with brushing my teeth leaving the tap on. While this is one of the major habits one needs to change in order to conserve water, there are many more (especially in the kitchen) which won't take much getting used to and will in turn impact our water conservation practices in a hugely positive manner. Here are a few:

1. You do not need to use a lot of water while boiling vegetables. The idea is for the water to just cover the vegetables in it. Instead of pouring out the water, you can use that flavourful Vegetable Stock in place of water while cooking your next meal!

2. Don't use water to defrost food. You can just leave the frozen food in the fridge overnight instead!

The good folks over at Tata I-Shakti have taken a great initiative during this #WorldWaterDay to make everybody aware of these little things, while also talking about their wholesome unpolished Dals. I have made the switch recently, and I could not be happier. Not only does 1 cup yield more Dal as compared to polished Dal, these Dals only require 2 cycles of rinsing as opposed to 4 times with the regular polished variety. Not to forget that the Polished Dals also are stripped off of their nutritional content.

On this blog post I will be sharing 2 recipes from my kitchen, that waste minimal amount of water. First one is a healthy take on the globally favourite Dhokla, which I have been making with Moong Dal off late. Not only is this healthier, I have used the soaking water to blend the soaked Dal, instead of pouring it down the drain and replacing with fresh water.

The second recipe has a story of its own. It is the world famous Mulligatawny soup. Mulligatawny soup comes from Mooluga Thanni, which literally translates to Pepper Water. It was served to the soldiers during the British Raj in India, just because they demanded there be a Soup course. Well, the British left, they took the recipe with them, and heavily anglicized it to suit their palate. They added meat to the soup, thickened it with Coconut Milk, but I am not complaining, for I am a huge fan of this dish! It may be a bit lengthy but it is really easy, and the final product will blow your socks off. I guarantee it.

So, without further ado, I present these two recipes to you, one by one!

Recipe: Moong Dal Dhokla
Serves 6
Takes 20 minutes plus 4 hours soaking time.


1 cup Tata I-Shakti Moong dal.
2 cups Water
An inch of ginger
2 Green Chilies
2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Red Chili Powder
1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder
A pinch of Asafoetida (heeng)
1 tsp Oil plus some more for greasing
1 tsp Eno Fruit Salt or Baking Soda

For the Tempering:

1.5 tbsp Oil
1 tbsp Mustard Seeds
1 tbsp White Sesame Seeds
2 Green Chilies, Chopped
6 Curry Leaves
A pinch of Asafoetida
3/4 Cup Water
1 tbsp Sugar (optional)

For Garnishing:

A handful of Coriander leaves, chopped.
A handful of Grated Fresh Coconut, scraped.


Soak the Moong Dal in 2 cups of water for 4 hours. Drain it but reserve the water.

Grind it in a blender with the Chili and Ginger. Use the reserved water (add more if desired) to get the pouring consistency like that of a Dosa.

Set up your steamer on the stove. Grease the steaming plate with Oil. I used 2 flat plates.

In the mean while, mix in the Turmeric, Red Chili, Asafoetida, Salt and Oil and give it a good stir. Just before adding into the steamer, add in the fruit salt and mix well with a steel spoon such that the batter is fluffy. Pour it into the two plates and set them in the steamer.

Steam for 12 to 15 minutes, then turn the heat off and let it stay for another 2 minutes. In the mean while, make the tempering.

Heat up a small pan with the Oil. Add in the mustard seeds, when they pop add the Asafoetida and the chopped chilies, followed by sesame seeds and then curry leaves. Let them splatter. Top this up with water and Sugar if desired, and let the mixture come to a boil. Turn the stove off and keep this aside. You can choose to skip the water soaking step, but I like my Dhoklas moist.

Remove the Dhokla from the steamer and cut them into desired shapes. Soak them with the water from the tempering, and add the tempered goodness all over them. Garnish with Coriander leaves and grated coconut. Serve with chutney!


Recipe: MulliGatawany Soup
Serves 4 to 5
Takes 1 hour

An inch of ginger
6 cloves of Garlic, finely minced
1 large Onion, finely chopped
1 Green Apple, peeled and diced.
½ Jalapeño, finely chopped (optional)
2 tbsp flour
½ tbsp. Coriander Powder (Dhania Powder)
1 tsp. Cumin Powder (Jeera Powder)
 ¾ tsp. Turmeric Powder (Haldi)
4 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock (You can use 4 cups of normal water, and add a stock cube to the masala while cooking, or you can also use plain water)
¾ cup Tata I-Shakti Red Lentils (Masoor Dal)
A handful of Coriander leaves, chopped.
½ cup Coconut Milk
Salt and Pepper, to taste
4 tbsp Oil
A cup of cooked Basmati Rice (You can substitute with Brown Rice for a healthier alternative)
A dollop of Yogurt, to garnish.

Soup: Heat 2 tbsp Oil in a deep pan over medium high heat. Sauté the Ginger, Garlic, Onion and Jalapeño until the Onions are translucent. Add in the Apples and give them a minute, then add Coriander Powder, Cumin Powder and Turmeric Powder and stir till the masala blooms. At this point, also add in the Stock Cube if you're planning to use one. Top up with Water/Stock and pour in the Red Lentils. Let this come to a boil.

Turn the heat to medium low, cover the pan and let this go for 30-45 minutes, until the Dal gets cooked. Throw in the chopped Coriander leaves. Purée 75% of the ingredients to a smooth velvety goodness, while letting the remaining 25% be chunky, for a superb textural contrast. You'll thank me later!

Return the soup to the pan on a low heat, and add in the Coconut Milk. Give it 3-4 minutes, then season with Salt and a generous cracking of Pepper.

To Serve: Place a small handful of boiled/cooked Rice in each bowl, and top it up with Soup. Garnish with a dollop of Plain Yogurt. You can also add a squeeze of Lemon Juice. People also serve this 'best-soup-they've-ever-had' with pan fried/roasted Cashews or Almond slivers. I'm salivating already.

Note: You can make this recipe with Chicken as well (traditionally it is made with Chicken), in which case you will need 200 gm of Chicken sliced into cubes. Pan fry them before you start the Soup process, for 90 seconds on each side, and remove them. Continue with the Soup recipe as above. Throw the Chicken pieces in along with the Coconut Milk at a later stage and cook for 6 minutes instead of 3! I made mine with Chicken :)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Recipe: Sprouted Moong (Green Gram) Falafels!

Wow, at the beginning of this journey with Tata Salt Lite I did not know if I would be able to stick to the schedule and be regular with my blogging. This is my last post for #slite and I'm going to miss this so much, that I have decided to stick to Tata Salt Lite from now on. Thank you so much for letting me invent and play around in my kitchen, and discover so much more about myself while doing so! Thank you for also giving me a medium to convey to the world the importance of no sodium salt!

I took few days to think about the perfect last recipe, or a grand finale, if you will. I thought of a Brown Rice Phirni, a Cauliflower soup, an epic stir fry and so many more items. But then I realised I didn't do anything with Sprouts and considering they are such an important part of my daily life, it is unfair to them. So I was brainstorming with my bestie all the way in Singapore, when she mentioned I could make Sprout Falafels. What a brilliant idea! Not to mention how utterly genius this is, it is also insanely healthy, and a good high protein alternative for people like me who get tired of eating Sprouts just as is. It all seemed like it would work out on paper, but nothing is ever sure till you actually execute it so I did a test run. I am so happy with how these turned out! You can either bake them or pan fry them in very little oil, like I did, have it with Hummus, or stuff it in your pita, roti, have it with bread, or just as is!

Sprouted Moong Falafels
Serves 2
Takes 15 minutes


1 cup sprouted Moong/Green Gram. (You can use any kind of sprouts)
5 cloves of Garlic
1/2 an Onion, finely chopped.
A handful of mixed herbs, finely chopped. (I used coriander, mint, parsley)
1 tsp Roasted Cumin powder
Tata Salt Lite, to taste
1/2 tsp All spice powder (can be substituted with brown Garam Masala powder)
juice of half a lemon.
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
2 tsp Olive Oil.


You can either use lightly steamed Moong or raw Moong for this recipe as you desire. If you want to use steamed Moong, place them in the microwave, sprinkled with some water and microwave on high for a minute. You'll need to let them cool down before proceeding. I used raw sprouts.

Pulse the sprouts in the blender, in short 2 second bursts, till it resembles a coarse powder. We do not want a paste. Remove them in a mixing bowl. Add in the garlic and pulse that as well, add to the sprout mix.

Now throw in the Onion, herbs, and the powders. Add salt and mix everything together.

In a spoon, take the lemon juice and add the baking soda to it. Pour the froth into the mixture and combine everything again. Gently make bite sized rounds of falafel, and place them on a plate. I made 8. Put them in the fridge for 5 minutes.

Heat up a non stick pan on medium high with the Olive oil. Put in the falafel rounds and slightly flatten them. Let them be undisturbed for a minute. Flip them over, lower the flame to medium and finish cooking on the other side, approximately 3 to 4 minutes.

Serve hot!


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