Thursday, June 29, 2006

Mozzarella Salad with Oxheart Tomatoes


Oxheart Tomato Salad with Mozzarella

After I published pictures of an unusual tomato in this post, many of you asked me what variety of tomato it actually was. I didn't know then, because as I mentioned in that post, I took the snaps at a friend's place, and she didn't know what they were called. In her comment, our fellow-blogger Linda was kind enough to point out that it could be an 'heirloom' variety. I had never heard of that term, and I definitely wanted to find out what exactly it was. So, I just found myself on the way to the vegetable vendor at the farmers' market in Düsseldorf's city centre one day. The same place where my friend had bought her tomato.

I was lucky. The French veggie vendor had some more of those tomatoes. To be precise, the 'Oxheart' or the 'cœur de bœuf' tomatoes. It is a variey of beefsteak tomatoes. The ones coming into Germany are grown in France. These tomatoes are grown in the USA as well. Has anybody of you come across it? There is this article on it on Wikipedia; it's in German. Unfortunately, there is none in English.

Anyway, after bringing home this tomato, when I cut it, I saw this beautiful pattern of compartments inside. The slices look like flowers, don't they? So, I dropped all ideas of chopping it up. I had to use those pretty slices just the way they were. The only thing I thought of making with it was the simple Tomato salad with Mozzarella. And that's what I made.


From left to right: Mozzarella slices, Oxheart tomato slices

Recipe for Mozzarella Salad with Oxheart Tomatoes

Serves 2-3 .


1 large Oxheart tomato OR two medium regular tomatoes
One ball of Mozzarella cheese (approx. 75g. - 100g. drained weight. I used the low-fat version with 8.5% total fat content.)
a few Basil leaves for garnishing

For the dressing:
2 tsp olive/walnut oil (I used walnut oil.)
a dash of white wine vinegar (optional)
3-4 Basil leaves, torn
salt & pepper to taste


Clockwise from bottom left: fresh Basil leaves, tomato, pepper mill, white wine vinegar, walnut oil, salad dressing ready to be used


1. Cut the tomato(es) horizontally in not very thin slices. Arrange them on a serving plate.
2. Cut the Mozzarella in slices. Arrange the slices on top of the tomato slices.
3. Mix all ingredients listed separately to make the dressing.
4. Distribute the dressing with a spoon evenly over the arranged tomato and mozzarella slices.
5. Sprinkle some salt and freshly crushed pepper over it, if you like.
6. Garnish with some fresh Basil leaves. Serve.

This salad is one of the few dishes, which take hardly any time to prepare, but are full of flavour in every bite. Moreover, if the tomato slices are beautiful to look at, then nothing like it. :)

Since tomatoes are rich in anti-oxidants, I'd like to send this post as an early entry to Cate's ARF/5-a-day Tuesday. Nandita suggests that I should send it to Kalyn for her Weekend Herb Blogging event. So, I shall do that too.


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Do you know your blog-buddies?

When I saw this quiz on spices by Santhi, I thought : Why not a quiz about our fellow-bloggers? Ok, we don't know each other that well, but there are always a few bits of information to be seen in some corners. :)

By the way, before I start, let me make it clear that the questions are not in any particular order. No preference or priority here. I just went on writing as it came to my mind.

If you know who I am talking about, then just leave your answers in the comments section. I'll publish the answers, when the time is right(!). And hey, if I have not included you in the quiz, it's just that I didn't think of anything quizzy. I appreciate you as a fellow-blogger anyway.

One more important thing: Do you really wanna get into the temptation of reading others' comments? (You must have got caught copying in school exams then!)

----------- Spoiler follows ----------------

Ok, then. Get ready for the answers, Folks.

1. If it is weekend, she must be baking. - Pushpa with her Weekend Baking Sessions

2. No, they don't preach Geeta here. It's just a food blog. - Krishna & Arjuna's World

3. Let's see how her lemon pickle turns out in the end. - Manisha. Check out her lemon pickle.

4. He is a ... well, that itself is a clue. Mela kya? Sorry, mila kya? - Tony with his Curry Mela. The only man running a food-blog apart from VKN .

5. She shows us the 'roads' to healthy weight-loss. A weight-watcher's Utopia? - Neelu of Crossroads.

6. It's two separate bloggers. Both of them have non-Indian partners and both went on separate trips to the US recently. Do you know them? - Meeta and Shammi.

7. She never got to celebrate her birthday in school with her mates. Neither did she cut a cake as we know it. - Ashwini of Food for Thought. Read this post for more info.

8. Her name is Nalyavan. Doesn't sound right? Well, you just have to change your perspective and you'll know it. - Lavannya aka Perspective.

9. She always writes 'without fax'. Sorry, what was that again? - Mythili. She often ends her posts with the words 'without wax'. An important line from this Dan Brown novel.

10. I wonder why she took her turtle-neck sweaters from the US to Mumbai. - Nandita. The answer to this question is here.

Thank you ALL for participating. It was great fun!

Monday, June 26, 2006

A Ton Of Protein # 7 + Nigella Awesome - Dal Fry

Dal fry garnished with chilli powder

One of my blog-buddies, Ashwini of Food for Thought did an informative post on nigella Seeds (Kalonji) a few days back, in which she appealed to the blogosphere in general to let her know about recipes using this spice, since it is not easy to come across any that easily. As she points out in this post, Nigella seeds seem to be under-appreciated in the Indian cuisine. Or maybe there is a treasure of recipes using this spice, which is just waiting to be unearthed. As our first little attempt at unearthing this treasure, some of us food-bloggers are blogging today about the dishes using Kalonji in our informal event, Nigella Awesome. (A take on the British celebrity cookbook author!) Please feel free to blog about your recipes using this black beauty in the coming days. The event should not end today; let this just be the beginning.

What I have got today is the ubiquitous Dal Fry. This is one dish, which we order each and every time we go out to a Punjabi restaurant in India. Although Dal Fry can taste different at every restaurant, it is one of those dishes which you can always bank upon. The recipe that I use for making this lentil dish is by Tarla Dalal. I follow it exactly the way given by her (which is not quite my style really!), because it turns out really well. With a characteristic earthy flavour of the awesome nigella seeds.

Recipe for Dal Fry


Dal Fry shake, anyone? :)


1 cup red Masoor dal (red lentils in the earlier picture)
¼ cup yellow moong dal (yellow lentils in the earlier picture)
1 green chilli, slit
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp grated garlic
¼ tsp turmeric powder
1 onion, sliced
1 tomato, chopped
salt to taste

1 tbsp ghee/oil
½ teaspoon mustard seeds
½ teaspoon nigella seeds (the black seeds in the earlier picture)
1 red chilli

chopped coriander leaves / some butter for garnishing

Method :

1. Wash the dals. Pressure cook them together along with the chilli, ginger, garlic, turmeric, salt and 2 cups of water.
2. Take the chilli out and discard it. Whisk the dal till it is smooth. You could use your hand-held blender for this. Keep the dal aside.
3. Heat the ghee/oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds, nigella seeds and red chilli, once the oil is hot.
4. When the mustard seeds pop, add the onion and sauté till it is translucent.
5. Add the tomato and sauté for another 3 to 4 minutes.
6. Add the dals & 1 cup of water, mix well and bring to a boil.
7. Garnish with chopped coriader leaves or a dollop of butter. In case the Dal Fry is not hot enough for you, you could garnish it with some chilli powder like in my first photograph.

Serve warm with rice/rotis/naan/paratha or phulkas.


Dal fry served with rice and a wedge of lime

As their participation to this event, this is what our fellow bloggers have got.

Ashwini : Achaari Baingan
Krithika : Squash Subzi
Priya : Achaari Aloo, Naan, Namakparas
Shammi : Savoury Cheddar cheese biscuits

Check them out!

Jihva for ingredients

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Sakharbhaat (Mildly spiced sweet rice)

(It looks much better than this actually. My sorry camera could capture only 35% of its beauty.)

It is my father's birthday today. Just the way it has more or less become a tradition at my parents' place to make Puranpoli for my birthday, it always used to be kinda predecided that it would be Sakharbhaat for my father's. That was until his high blood sugar levels were detected. Even now, it is us, his family, who are not in favour of this tradition any longer. He would still be happy to find this dessert on his plate. Because he strongly believes that Diabetes is a curable disease, and that his is nearly cured. :) Well, who said that only children can give their parents a tough time? The opposite is equally possible. That is the reason why I have made this dish only as a virtual treat for him. (Technology is not all that bad after all, is it?) I hope he enjoys it. And so do you, when you make it.

A little about this Maharashtrian/Goan dessert: Sakhar=sugar & bhaat=rice. This sweet rice has a wonderful aroma of cloves and cardamom. Traditionally, desserts are always served with the meal itself in Maharashtra (and in many of the Indian cuisines that I know.) So is this one. It is rarely seen at big ceremonies like weddings, at least in the urban parts of Maharashtra. It is a pucca home dessert. And this is how it is made.

Recipe for Sakharbhaat


1 cup Basmati rice
1 tsp lime juice
1 tbsp ghee
¼ tsp salt
¾ cup sugar
a little less than ½ cup water (for the sugar syrup)
2 cloves
3-4 cardamom pods
1 tbsp sugar (for clove-cardamom powder)
8-10 cashewnuts, halved
saffron strands, the more the better



1. Grind the cloves and cardamom with sugar. You could also pound them with a pestle and mortar.
2. Cook the rice with lime juice, ghee and salt in just enough quantity of water, because we want every rice grain to be separate. (If cooking it in the microwave, add only 2 cups of water for 1 cup rice.)
3. Once cooked, spread it on a wide plate/tray with gentle hands, making sure that the rice grains do not break. I often use a fork for this. Let the rice cool down.
4. In the meanwhile, mix the sugar and water and put it to cook. Boil it until you get thick sugar syrup. It is thick enough, if a drop of it, when put on a metal plate, does not run but stays firm. We call this 'golibund paak' in Marathi.
5. Add the saffron strands to the syrup. Add the cooled rice too and cover the pan. Steam-cook the rice for a couple of minutes.


Rice cooking in the sugar syrup

6. Open the lid, stir the rice and steam-cook it for another couple of minutes.
7. Add the powdered/pounded cloves & cardamom and the cashewnuts. Mix them all well with the rice. Cook it uncovered on low heat until all the water has evaporated.


Serve it preferably warm or at room temperature. Sakharbhaat is not really enjoyable, if served cold. It tastes even better the following day. I often take advantage of that, and make it on the previous day, when I am entertaining. That helps me gain more time on the day of the lunch/dinner to prepare other dishes.

Although the procedure looks lengthy, it is one of the easiest desserts to prepare, in my opinion. If you make it once, it is child's play the second time around.

I would like to send this one as my entry to Paz for this month's From My Rasoi event.

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

'Confessions in Groups of Five' Meme

I have been tagged by the ever-friendly Nandita for this meme. Thanks, Nandita. I was really looking forward to being tagged for this one.

5 items in my freezer

1. Frozen vegetables
2. Frozen herbs
3. Frozen strawberries
4. Our first tub of ice-cream this year (It's a yummilicious walnut ice-cream with lots 'n' lots of walnut pieces.)
5. Frozen leftovers

5 items in my closet

1. My broken Mangalsutra. My daughter pulled and broke it last December. I haven't gone to India after that. That poor thing is still awaiting repairs.
2. My perfum bottles. Too precious to be kept on the dressing table coz my little one pulls down everything from there.
3. A couple of sarees and Salwar Kameez sets, which haven't seen the light of the day in the last 7-8 months.
4. Lesser number of hangers than clothes. Some of the hangers are carrying three pairs of trousers on them. :)
5. Dust from the lint of clothes. Eewwww...

5 items in my car

1. My daughter's toys
2. Music cassettes - some with Hindi songs, some with nursery rhymes
3. One Europe atlas, one Düsseldorf Atlas
4. Tissue
5. A chewing gum, which is badly stuck to one of the rear mats. I think it came there clinging to somebody's shoe and then just decided to make our car its home. That darn thing doesn't want to come off at all. Any suggestions there?

5 items in my purse

1. My daughter's and my own health insurance cards
2. Several store loyalty cards. I love the whole business of collecting reward points and then dreaming of all the nice things that I'll get for 'free' by redeeming those points. Oh, how I love it!
3. A one rupee note, which has been there for a couple of years now. There was no reason behind keeping it there in the beginning really. Now I have got superstitious about it.
4. My Driving License
5. My husband's visiting card. Just in case I fainted on the road, they should know whom to call up!

I would like to tag Ashwini, Linda, Nila, Pushpa, Shammi and Sumitha for this meme.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

You guessed it right! - Kohlrabi/Knol Kohl/ Navalkol

You guessed it right, Guys. It is indeed Knol Kohl or Kohlrabi. It is called Navalkol in Marathi. Continuing the discussion on the origin of words, we can again see on this example how a foreign word like 'Knol Kohl' was changed to fit into the local language, and became 'Navalkol'. From the comments to my quiz, I can see that the names for this veggie in other Indian languages are similar (Navila Kosu-Kannada, Nool Kol-Tamil).

As for this vegetable, I have seen that it is not very popular in India (at least in Maharashtra) because it has a strong smell, which many find obnoxious. I remember, I used to be one of the very few ones in my class in school, who used to bring this vegetable for the packed lunch, in their 'dabba'. Having said that, I must mention that it is a popular and much-loved vegetable here in Germany. No wonder then that one of its names, Kohlrabi, happens to be German. (Actually, I feel that the roots of the name Knol Kohl are also German. Knollenkohl, maybe. What do my German-speaking readers think?) However, an interesting fact is that the 'Kohlrabi Capital of the World' is in Michigan, US. Read here more about it.

Well, anyway, what I made with it is a simple Maharashtrian preparation. Navalkolchi Bhaji.


Navalkolchi Bhaji served here with wholewheat chapatis

Recipe for Navalkolchi Bhaji

Serves 3-4 as a side dish.


3 medium sized Kohlrabi
¼ cup Chana Dal
½ tsp chilli powder
a pinch turmeric powder
2 tsp jaggery (optional)

1 tsp oil
½ tsp cumin seeds

chopped coriander leaves for garnishing


From left to right: Chana dal, whole peeled Kohlrabi (above) and diced Kohlrabi (below), Kohlrabi peels


1. Wash the Chana Dal and soak it in ¼ cup water for about half an hour.
2. Peel the Kohlrabi until all the fibre is gone and you have only the smooth flesh. The fibre neither cooks well nor does it taste good. If the Kohlrabi is fresh and tender, then it won't need much peeling. Please refer to the earlier photgraph for this.
3. Dice the Kohlrabi in bite-sized pieces. Pressure-cook the pieces until soft. Roughly, they take the same time to cook as lentils.


Clockwise from top: coriander leaves, cooked Kohlrabi dices, soaked Chana dal

4. Heat oil in a pan. Once it is hot, add cumin seeds and let them splutter.
5. Add the soaked Chana dal with the water, turmeric powder and the cooked Kohlrabi and steam-cook it for a couple of minutes.
6. Then add the chilli powder, salt and jaggery. Let the Bhaji simmer on low heat for about five minutes.
7. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve warm with chapatis/phulkas or rice and dal.

1. Cabbage can be cooked in the same way. Only that it does not require pressure-cooking. It can be added raw with the soaked Chana dal.

Enjoy this vegetable and wish you a Happy Longest Day!

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Monday, June 19, 2006

Do you know this vegetable?


Do you know this vegetable? And no, it's not Lady's finger. ;-)

Low-fat Sweet Lassi with a hint of Rose


Low-fat Sweet Lassi ready to drink

The mercury has again gone up here in Düsseldorf. It wasn't exactly warm last week, but the weekend has been nice and summery. It has been, yesterday as well as today, bright and sunny. Ideal weather for going to a park or generally doing something outdoors. But you know what? Hubby dear has got hay fever! The doctor has told him : Whenever it is nice and sunny with clear skies and gentle breezes, don't go out. Isn't that sad? :(

Well, anyway, since the World Cup is on, sitting at home is not really boring. And if your hands are holding a glass of a cooling drink to sip onto...hmm, not a bad idea is it? :) What we had today to cool our throats after shouting 'Goal Goal' several times is this Lassi. Easy to make, low-fat and very satisfying. Here is how I made it.

Recipe for Sweet Lassi

Makes 3 glasses.


3 cups chilled, plain low-fat youghurt (I used readymade yoghurt with 0.1% fat content.)
1 cup chilled water
heaped ¼ cup sugar
heaped ½ tsp salt
½ tsp pure rosewater (not essence)
a pinch jeera powder (for a very subtle spicy hint)

ice-cubes (optional; I did not use any)
some more brown/white sugar to coat the glass rims (optional; only for garnishing)

How to decorate the glasses:

1. Spread the sugar meant for garnishing in a saucer. Take the glasses and wipe their rims with a piece/slice of a lemon. Dip the glass rims in the sugar and let them get coated with sugar crystals. Like this.



Keep the decorated glasses aside.

Method for Lassi:

1. Add all ingredients to the blender attachment of your food processor/mixer.
2. Blend them together until well-mixed and frothy.
3. Pour into the prepared glasses, add the ice-cubes, if using and serve.

A perfect drink for lazy summery afternoons or evenings!
Barbara of Tigers and Strawberries has been very kind and has accepted this post as my entry to her event The Spice is Right III: The Perfumed Garden. Thanks, Barbara.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

A Ton Of Protein # 6 - Tomatochi Aamti

I saw this wonderful looking tomato at my friend Mrs. G's place the other day. Luckily, I had my digital camera with me, so I could photograph it. Isn't it beautiful?

By the way, none of the traditional Maharashtrian dishes ask for tomatoes. None whatsoever. Maybe a proof of the fact that tomato is not indigenous to India? When they are used in a dish, they are often a substitute for some other sour ingredient like tamarind or kokum. Having said that, I must mention that this vegetable (or is it a fruit?) has been accepted well in the Marathi cuisine and the dishes made with it are utterly delicious. One of them is this Dal with tomatoes. It is like any other Dal, which you too must be making every other day. I mean, I didn't really have to do a post on it. But then how else would I show you the photographs of that attractive tomato? It deserved a proper post to go with it, didn't it? So, here it goes.

Recipe for Tomatochi Aamti

Serves 4.


½ cup Toor dal
1 large tomato (or 2 small ones), diced small
a pinch turmeric powder
¼ - ½ tsp chilli powder or 2-3 green chillis, cut into ½ inch long pieces
approx. ½ cup hot water
a pinch sugar to balance the taste (optional)
salt to taste
chopped coriander leaves for garnishing

1 tsp oil
¼ tsp mustard seeds
¼ tsp cumin seeds
a pinch asafoetida (optional)
7-8 curry leaves


1. Pressure-cook the Toor dal with 1 cup of water. Mash it well so that no lumps remain. Keep it aside.
2. Heat the oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds. When they start to splutter, add the cumin seeds.
3. Add the asafoetida, if using. Add the curry leaves.
4. Add the green chillis, if using (not the chilli powder, though). Add the diced tomato(es). Please take care at this step, because the oil tends to jump high at this point, and is likely to cause burns. To avoid this, you could cover the pan as soon as the tomato pieces are added.
5. Let the tomato pieces cook a little. Then add the turmeric powder, cooked Toor dal and hot water. If using chilli powder, add it now.
6. Let the mixture come to a rolling boil. Add salt and sugar, and continue boiling the dal on high heat for about five minutes or till it reaches the consistency/thickness that you like.
7. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves. Serve piping hot with rice or phulkas/chapatis.

Tomatochi Aamti served with rice

This is one of the simplest Aamtis and can be prepared with the most basic ingredients of Indian cooking. It is one of my favourite ones. However, my fondness for it is nothing compared to the love my cousin, R has for it. He can have it every single day of the year - for lunch as well as for dinner. (That's 730 meals! Omigosh!!)

Anyway, R, this post is dedicated to you.

Jihva for ingredients

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

'Ten dishes I miss the most' meme

Ashwini and Revathi have tagged me for this meme. We are meant to write about what we miss most of our moms' cooking. As I have mentioned here, my cooking is equally influenced by my mother and my mother-in-law. It would be unfair then, if I wrote only about my mom's cooking. Although I have a really looooooong list in my mind, I will try and restrict myself to five of my mother's dishes and five of my mother-in-law's. Let me begin then.

What I miss most of my mom's cooking:

1) Simple everyday subzis: My mother cooks a lot of different vegetables. Hardly any vegetable that is easily available in Pune's markets fails to make an appearance on the dining table, and all of them taste so good. It is thanks to her, that I have always been an 'unfussy' eater.
2) Goda Masala: This essential ingredient in Maharashtrian cooking looks rather easy to make. I have a few recipes for it too. However, my blend of Goda Masala and hence the subzis cooked with it never taste as good as my mom's.
3) Ice-cream: My mother has a simple, no-fuss method of making this without any ice-cream maker. But the kind of ice-cream she makes is divine. You should taste her mango ice-cream - smooth (no crystals whatsoever!), creamy and very mangoey. Baskin-Robbins and the likes can hang their heads in shame.
4) Gulab Jamun: jokes! All balls of the same size, with an appetizing dark-brown complexion, cooked to the centre and dunked in a wonderfully aromatic, cardamomey sugar syrup. If I am around while she makes the Gulab Jamun, I eat them in every stage : the raw dough, hot fried balls just out of the pan, Gulab Jamun still warm in the sugar syrup and Gulab Jamun well soaked in the sugar syrup. The Gulab Jamun are never seen around beyond this stage, because they are all resting in my tummy by then.
5) Puranpoli: I love her Puranpoli, and she knows it. So, if I am in town for my birthday, then everybody knows what the menu for lunch/dinner would be. Well, this year too I will not have that pleasure.

What I miss most of my mother-in-law's cooking:

1) NanKhatai: She calls these cookies Narayan Katar. So much for adapting the word to become more tongue-friendly. But the cookies are addictive. No one can eat just one!
2) Coconut Chutney: My ma-in-law prepares various kinds of coconut chutney to go with the yummy goodies for breakfast every day. All of them are too good to resist. When I am in Bangalore at her place, I suddenly forget all my 'healthy eating' fundas and start looking at the good properties of coconut. Cholesterol? What's that?
3) Breakfast: Having mentioned the chutneys, I must say that they are not the only attraction. The daily ritual of breakfast itself is something to look forward to. And mind you, she always prepares it on her own. My help comes into the picture, only when she starts cooking for lunch/dinner. If getting pampered at your in-laws' place is being lucky, then yes, I am lucky.
4) Curry leaves chutney powder: Spicy and yummy! I always get one large bottle full of this, whenever she comes to visit us in Pune or we visit her in Bangalore.
5) Konkani vegetable preparations: The vegetables that make an appearance in her kitchen are very different from what my mother cooks. Her selection is more of typical coastal produce, much of which was unknown to me until marriage. However, it is because of her cooking that I took to all those veggies, the very first time I ate them. I find it great, because bringing in variation in my cooking is quite easy for me, using the double set of veggies (my mum's and my MIL's) that I am familiar with.

Oh God, I just did a preview of this post and my, I have written a pretty long meme, haven't I? Thank God, that neither my father nor my father-in-law ever took any interest (much to their spouses' dismay) in cooking. Imagine how much I would have written otherwise!

I would love to read some more memes, so I am tagging Luv2Cook, Meeta, Mythili, Nandita and Veda.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Toasted Sandwiches with Cabbage Bhaji

Toasted sandwiches with Cabbage Bhaji served with mint chutney and tomato ketchup

The kind of guessing games we food-bloggers have for each other remind me of Navratri during my childhood. Back in those days in Pune, Dandiya was nearly non-existent for us Maharashtrians. What we as little girls would celebrate was 'Bhondla/Hadga'. During those nine days, each one of us would host it one evening in the garden or on the terrace of our houses. There used to be an elephant drawn either with Rangoli on the soil or with a chalk on a slate in the middle, and we girls used to go around it in a circle, holding each other's hands and singing the Bhondla songs. All the Bhondla songs were traditional, innocent songs passed down the generations. Many of them were funny too.
There used to be a set of roughly ten songs, with a particular song, which was always sung in the end. This song used to end with the words '...khiraapatila kaay ga?' (meaning 'What's for Prashaad?/What is the special dish today?) Now, this is where the food part comes in. This 'Khiraapat' used to be a special dish often made laboriously by the mother of the host girl. Sometimes, it used to be several dishes. The rest of the girls had to guess that dish/those dishes, until which the food would not be served. Our mothers too - very sweet of them - used to come up with rare dishes or combinations, which used to be difficult to guess. I still remember us begging to the host girl to tell us the name of the dish after about half an hour of futile guessing and salivating mouths. However, I used to enjoy it the most when I was the hostess, and I used to so test the girls' patience. (Wicked me!) Those were fun days.

I rarely hear any young girls talking about Bhondla these days. I wonder how many of them even know about it. Are the days of innocent fun gone then? Is it only something like 'Jhankaar Beats Dandiya Nite' that interests them now-a-days?

Anyway, let's come back to our little guessing game with Cabbage Bhaji. All of you were great, I must say. I love the enthusiasm with which you went about guessing the end product. All of you were correct in guessing one important thing : That I used the Bhaji as a filling/stuffing for something. Well, as you must have already noticed, I used it as a filling for toasted sandwiches. Here is how I made them.

Recipe for Toasted Sandwiches with Cabbage Bhaji

Makes 8 sandwiches.


1 recipe Cabbage Bhaji
16 bread slices (I used some white and some wholewheat bread slices.)
Butter for brushing the outer surfaces of the bread

Cabbage Bhaji and bread slices

1. Remove and discard the chilli pieces from the Bhaji, if you don't want them in your sandwiches.
2. Divide the Bhaji into 8 portions and fill it into the bread slices to make 8 sandwiches.
3. Brush some butter on the outer surfaces of the sandwiches.
4. Toast the sandwiches in a Sandwich Toaster until golden brown. (Normally, the Sandwich Toaster takes care of this part.)


Serve these sandwiches hot with any relish/chutney (e.g. mint and coriader chutney) or tomato ketchup. They are perfect for those evenings, when you crave for something 'snacky', but don't want to go for any fried/fatty stuff like burgers or cutlets.

At my parents' place, the Sandwich Toaster used to come out whenever my father used to be away on tour. Us three ladies - my mother, my younger sister and I - would then have such 'harmless junk food' for days together. Sigh, those were the days...

Anyway, let me just come out of that nostalgia mood and send this recipe over to Cate for her ARF/5-a-day Tuesday event. Off to Sweetnicks.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Cabbage Bhaji - What did I do with it?

Cabbage Bhaji
This is a simple and quick-to-make Bhaji made with cabbage. I have used white cabbage, but Savoy cabbage or Brussels sprouts can also be used to make it. It is great for dieters too.
It is very much a side dish on its own, but I did not serve it as a side dish. I used it as an ingredient in 'something'. Can you guess what I made with it?

In the meanwhile, here is the Recipe for Cabbage Bhaji


4 cups shredded cabbage
3-4 green chillis
a generous pinch turmeric powder
salt to taste
a pinch of sugar (optional)
chopped coriander leaves for garnishing

1 tsp oil
¼ tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp cumin seeds

Clockwise from top: a wedge of whole cabbage, coriander leaves, shredded cabbage, green chillis


1. Heat oil in a pan. Once it is hot, add mustard seeds. Once they start spluttering, add the cumin seeds and let them splutter too.

2. Add the shredded cabbage, chopped green chillis and turmeric powder. Sprinkle a little water.

3. Cover the pan and steam-cook the cabbage. Stir it every now and then, especially if you are not using a non-stick pan. Sprinkle some more water, if you see the cabbage sticking to the bottom of the pan.

4. Add sugar, if using. Add salt, stir the cabbage and steam-cook it further until it becomes as soft as you like it.

5. Garnish with the coriander leaves and serve it with chapatis or rice and dal. *

*But but but, I didn't serve it with any of these. I served it as a part of 'something'. Can you guess what that 'something' is?

Thursday, June 08, 2006

A Ton of Protein # 5 - Matki Farasbee Bhaji (Green beans cooked with Moath sprouts)


Matki Farasbee Bhaji

Etymology, the origin of words, has always fascinated me. Especially the words brought into Indian languages by European traders and colonial powers. Many of them are so well incorporated in the local languages that it is often hard to believe that they were 'foreign' once upon a time.

For example, the Marathi word for soap. A soap is called 'saaban' in Marathi. Mind you, the 'n' is not pronounced like 'n' in English, but is a distinct nasal sound written phonetically as 'tn'. (Click here for the audio key for 'tn'.) The point is that this word which has this distinct Marathi sound is not even Marathi. It is derived from the Portuguese word 'sabão'. No wonder, because the Portuguese ruled much of the coastal region in Maharashtra before the Britishers arrived. Moreover, there was no concept of 'soap' in the Indian culture before the European traders arrived. The toiletries used by us before that were totally different. (And maybe healthier too, because they were Ayurvedic??)

'Farasbee', the Marathi word for green beans is another such example. It comes from 'French beans' in English. Now, French beans is just a way of preparing green beans and not a vegetable in itself. Also, these beans are not indigenous to India. Maybe the 'natives' (who were perhaps working as cooks for the Gora Sahib) heard only this term whenever they saw these 'new' beans. And when they tried to say it, their Marathi tongues forced them to say a word which fitted better in the pronunciation pattern. So, French beans became Farasbee. And if the pronunciation could be changed to become more 'local sounding', then cooking the vegetable to suit the local palate could have been no big issue. Let the Sahib have his bland French beans. What we will serve on our brass thalis is 'Farasbee chi Bhaji'. :)

What I have got for you today is a version made with Matki/Moath sprouts. High in protein and a perfect marriage of local beans with 'phoren' ones.


Left to right: whole and chopped green beans, sprouted Matki

Recipe for Matki Farasbee Bhaji


2 cups chopped Green beans (approx. ¼ kg. will yield 2 cups)
1½ cup sprouted Matki/Moath
a pinch turmeric powder
1 tbsp Goda Masala (or any other not-too-overpowering-the-taste Masala)
1 tsp chilli powder (or to taste)
2-3 tbsp crushed jaggery or Muscovado sugar
3 tbsp fresh/frozen grated coconut (optional)
salt to taste
½ - ¾ cup hot water
chopped coriander leaves (optional)

1 tsp oil
½ tsp mustard seeds
a pinch asafoetida


Clockwise from left: chopped green beans, sprouted Matki, grated coconut


1. Heat the oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds and let them splutter. Then add the asafoetida.
2. Add the chopped beans, sprouts and turmeric powder. Sprinkle some water on them. Cover with a lid and steam them till they are cooked yet have a slight crunch.
3. Now add the hot water and all the other ingredients. Let the Bhaji simmer very gently for 3-4 minutes.
4. Garnish with some more chopped coriander leaves or grated coconut.
5. Serve warm with phulkas/rotis/Bhakri.

Easy? Very.
Tasty? Very very!!

Jihva for ingredients

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Berry Easy Yoghurt Cake


Strawberry Yoghurt cake with white chocolate-dipped strawberries
This cake can be considered as one of the milestones in my baking adventures. (Oh Boy, I am so good at making myself sound important!) I started baking cakes rather early. Late school days, as far as I remember. It was with my mother's help, who is a meticulous baker. Also, she has a degree in Home Science, so she used to see to it, that we used the correct amount of all ingredients. I always used to enjoy it, although it sometimes used to be a tiring experience. Because
a) We didn't have a hand-held blender then. My mother still doesn't. Turning the batter by hand can definitely take the sweat out of you towards the end.
b) Being very particular about the quantity of the stuff that goes into it, checking whether none of the utensils/spoons are wet, making sure that you turn the batter always only in one direction can at times be strenuous for the brain.
But as I said, it still used to be fun. Also, the delicious cakes that then used to come out of the oven (which, by the way, was a basic model with no temperature regulator) were always so delicious, that we (my younger sister and I) would look always forward to the next baking session.

So, this particular cake, that I have baked for the Jihva for Ingredients event, was the one which shook the basic foundation of cake-baking for me. It was N, my ex-colleague in UK (French by birth and tired of all the Froggie jokes & presents), who gave me this recipe. By the way, she did not really give me the recipe, she just shouted it out from across the desks. Moreover, the quantities were all approximate. Like she said (read yelled): Two-three eggs. Two-three eggs??? How can anybody be so casual about this? It has to be either two OR three eggs. Same was the case with baking powder. She said that she always used self raising flour for this. But what if I want to use regular flour? Well, I had to work it out myself.

All said and done, N was very very charming. And so is this cake. And the recipe is more so, because it does not require any measuring cups or spoons. What do you measure the ingredients with then? Well, yoghurt pots. That's right. Yoghurt pots. To be precise, a yoghurt pot. You use the same pot, which has the yoghurt that would go into this cake. Great, isn't it?
And yes, N, this post is dedicated to you.

Recipe for Easy Yoghurt Cake

In the centre: Strawberry yoghurt;
In the outer circle, clockwise from top: egg, flour, sugar, egg, oil, sugar, egg, flour, flour


1 pot strawberry yoghurt with real strawberry pieces (I assume that the quantity is 150g. everywhere.)
3 pots self-raising flour (I used two pots white and one pot wholewheat.)
2 pots sugar
½ pot vegetable oil (I used sunflower.)
1 egg (as opposed to the three featured in the earlier picture as well as in the introduction)


1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
2. Grease a loaf tin. (I use one made of silicone. Can it technically be called a 'tin'?) Line the base with greaseproof paper, if you like.
3. Beat the egg in a bowl.
4. Add the yoghurt. Measure sugar and oil with the same pot. Add them too and combine well.
5. Measure the self-raising flour again with the same pot, add to the batter and mix thoroughly. You could add all of it in one go, in case using a hand-held mixer. If turning the batter by hand, adding two spoonfuls at a time makes it much easier.
6. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 35 minutes or until a skewer/knife inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.
7. Take the tin out of the oven and let it cool for five minutes.
8. Turn the cake out on a wire rack and cool completely before serving/storing in an airtight container.

Easy? I told you so.

Strawberry Yoghurt cake

Some handy Notes:
1. In case not using self-raising flour, adding 2 tsp of baking powder to the regular flour gives the same results.
2. You could use yoghurt with any fruit. My personal choice, however, is always strawberry.

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