Sunday, March 27, 2016

Chaat Attack - A Burst of 'Desi n Firangi' Flavors

As they say, 'time flies', and it truly does. With memories of past left behind and a glorious future awaiting, the present finds its way amidst the two, balancing them and nurturing itself. At times when I look back, the glimpses of the old posts drive me nostalgic, urging me to leave everything aside and get back in full swing to the magic and charm of writing. The day sooner would arrive when this fascination of mine would find its way ahead of just dreams and thoughts, and when 'time' would give me 'time' to express my love for cooking in form of words again.

The last three years were years of panoptic learning. Though I could not write much, but heaps of knowledge and oodles of experience brought forward another meaning of 'cooking' to me. From a doctor, I turned into a blogger, then a mommy blogger, and then a Caterer. Amsterdam showered its love on me with bountiful challenges. I chose not to just sit back and write, but to take a step further and make this blog 'go live'. With passion of cooking running in my nerves, the brain decided to take the challenge up, where everything would have to be managed alone and in a given time frame. Stress Management and Time Management were the two special attributes that I learnt the most in these two years. And now when I see my old blogs, yes, I feel time flies. The only thing that kept missing from all the fire and passion was 'innovation'. I was sticking to authentic Indian way of cooking with the set recipes as that was what everyone in this foreign land was looking for. Appreciation, love, admiration, encouragement and blessings were all the way and they stirred up the ardor in me to learn more Indian recipes in just the perfect Indian way. My predilection for Indian desserts/sweets and Chaats made catering even easier and interesting for me. I started experimenting on halwas that I had just tasted in royal weddings in Udaipur and soon the fingers, brain and taste buds learnt to replicate them. In winters, I came up with Moong Daal Halwa(Fudge), Badam Halwa, Akhrot/Walnut Halwa, Anjeer Halwa and Gaund Urad Halwa, but still the soul of creativity was missing somewhere.

An year back, some magic happened. As if the fairy godmother of Cindrella had heard my words and came to cast the spell on me; it was unbelievable. The Indian Ladies Event Group in Amsterdam came up with a cooking competition titled 'Mallika-e-Kitchen' with 'starters' being the theme. Thoughts were stormed and innovation found its soul in my cooking finally. The first click for me was 'Chaat', but Chaat had to be really different this time. After hours of rigorous cerebration, the cerebrum finally figured what and how should come on the serving plate. All I knew was that it would be a blend and burst of both 'desi' and 'firangi' flavors. I named it 'Chaat Attack' and won second prize with blessings and love of all food lovers. The platter had five different elements to it, all of which have been mentioned here. At first I decided to put them all straight in a single post, but then thought of showering the magic gradually in installments, so here I go with the first element of the Chaat Attack and the rest shall follow in rhythm. Get ready to dive in the tangy zesty flavors of this desi videshi chaat. :)


1. Firangi Aloo Matar Chaat (Potato Cups with Peas Filling)
2. Strawberry Shots (Pani Puri/Crispy Puffed Bread with Strawberry Lemonade)
3. Rasam Shots (Pani Puri/Crispy Puffed Bread with South Indian Rasam/Tangy Curry)
4. Pizza Chaat in Baked Tart
5. Cone Chana(Chickpea) Chaat

1. FIRANGI ALOO MATAR CHAAT (Potato Cups with Peas Filling)

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4

For the Aloo Katori/Potato Cup - 

1) Boiled Potato (3 medium sized)
2) Corn Flour: 1 tbs
3) Salt as per taste
4)Turmeric: 1/2 tsp
5) Oil: for deep frying

  1. Boil 3 medium sized potatoes and mash them well.
  2. Add turmeric powder, salt and corn flour to the mashed potatoes and divide the mixture is four equal portions.
  3. Take the first portion and shape it like a cup/katori using your palm and fingers. 
  4. Heat oil in a frying pan/wok/kadai. Turn the flame to medium and carefully slide the aloo katori/potato cup in the oil. I usually keep it on the sieved ladle and immerse the ladle in oil. For the first one minute, I let the aloo katori/potato cup sit on the ladle and then I slide it into the oil. 
  5. Fry till the katori/cup turns golden brown. Turn it and let the other side brown as well.
  6. Take it out on a kitchen roll to remove the extra oil. 
  7. Repeat the same for all the katoris/bowls.
For the Matar/Peas Filling -

1. Boiled Dried Peas - 150 gms
2. Ginger garlic paste: 1 tsp
3. Finely chopped green chillies: 2
4. Turmeric Powder: 1/2 tsp
5. Coriander Powder: 2 tsp
6. Red Chilli Powder: 1/2 tsp
7. Cumin seeds: 1/4 tsp
8. Salt to taste
9. Chana/Chhola Masala: 1 tsp
10. Asafoetida: a pinch
11. Oil

  1. Soak dried peas overnight and then boil them in the morning taking 2-3 whistles. (The cooking time may vary based on the quality and type of peas used)
  2. Take oil in a frying pan and heat it. 
  3. Add cumin seeds and asafoetida to it followed by chopped green chillies and ginger garlic paste. 
  4. Now add all the spices and immediately add the boiled peas. Cook this for 3-5 minutes.

For the Dressing:

1. Cherry Tomatoes: 4
2. Cream Cheese - 100 gms
3. Mayonnaise/Hung Yogurt: 1 tbs
4. Dried Mint Leaves: 1/4 tsp
5. Grated Cucumber: 2 tbs
6. Green Mint Coriander Chutney
7. Yellow and Red Bell Pepper for decoration

  1. Finely slice the bottom of the cherry tomatoes to make them sit. 
  2. Now slice the top and scoop/spoon them to remove all the seeds from within.
  3. Prepare Filling Mixture A by adding 4 tbs cream cheese, 1 tbs mayonnaise/yogurt,  and grated cucumber. Fill this mixture in a plastic cone/icing cone.
  4. Prepare Filling Mixture B by adding 4 tbs cream cheese with dried mint leaves and fill this in a plastic cone/icing cone.
  5. Slice the bell peppers in shapes you adore.
Assembling the Dish:
  1. Take the Aloo Katori/Potato Cup and layer it with the Filling Mixture B.
  2. Now top this with the matar/peas mix.
  3. Smear the peas with the green chutney on top.
  4. Take the cherry tomato and fill it with the Filling Mixture A. Place it over the green chutney.
  5. Now embellish the cherry tomato with designed/sliced bell peppers.
  1. The deep fried potato cups be replaced by boiled n baked potato jackets as well. You can boil the potato, cut it into half, spoon out the centre and bake in an oven.
  2. Instead of corn flour, you can also use bread crumbs in the potato bowl for that extra crisp.
  3. Do not store the potato cups in a closed container else they will turn soggy. It is always better to consume them fresh, when on plate.
  4. You can also make a peas curry using tomatoes and onions. This could be a gravy variation to the regular dry peas.
  5. If the potato cups are breaking while frying, that indicates that the binding corn flour has to be increased. 
  6. You can also make shallow fried aloo tikkis/potato patties and use them in a similar way by forming different layers with different elements. :)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Kesariya Mishti Doi (Saffrony Sweet Set Yogurt)

I was bemused, I was confused, sailing deep in some thoughts, I lost my stride, and now I finally see myself here, battling with words to pen down something that can make :P

Blogging for months and then resting for even more makes it so weird when you finally decide to pull your socks on and get back in the old world again. In a few days, perhaps I shall get my ebullience to write with power and grace back....fingers crossed! :)

Didn't know what to start with, was not able to settle on anything from my drafts, and the wintery weather of Amsterdam with almost no sun-light giving me the least zeal to capture even a single good click, I finally squared up on this simple fusion recipe. I am an ardent dahi/ yogurt lover and had been thinking for long to post something that could bring on the sugary sweet flavors from Bengal and some aroma and tinge from Rajasthan. The easiest recipe I could imagine of was this 'Kesariya Mishti Doi', set in a Bengali way and which still tasted like Rajasthani Shrikhand.

With no hanging up of the curd, with no hard work to cream it together, this was indeed the easiest, creamiest yogurt I tasted to my soul. Jumping on directly to the recipe, here I go....


Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Setting Time: 6 hrs - 12 hrs

Health Meter:
Yoghurt, got its name from the Turkish word “yogurur”, which means “long life” .
Not only does yogurt provide your body with active cultures, yogurt bacteria has shown to prevent yeast infections, osteoporosis, and urinary tract infections, relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and help reduce bloating. Yogurt is more than a delicious snack, it also contains ingredients that keep your body healthy!

1. Full Cream Milk: 500 ml
2. Sugar: 1 and a half tbs/ as per taste
3. Few saffron strands
4. 2 tbs yogurt culture/ curd

  1. Take 500 ml of full cream milk in a heavy pan/wok and take a boil. 
  2. Now let the milk simmer and keep on stirring in between to avoid any milk sticking to the bottom. Continue heating till the milk reduces to half. 
  3. During this process, the cream will start floating on the top. If you want to have clear, smooth yogurt, then keep removing the extra cream layer and save this in some box for other use. 
  4. If you like to have creamy, layered yogurt, then you may slide n stick the cream layers on the sides of the pan and top them over the milk at last, just before setting.
  5. When the milk has reduced to half, add sugar to it and give a quick stir.
  6. Let it rest and go luke-warm.
  7. Now take two small earthen pots/ bowls/ cups and pour the warm milk in them. 
  8. Add yogurt to these and give a stir. 
  9. Add the saffron strands and cover them.
  10. Keep these pots/bowls in a warm place for 6-12 hrs (Till the yogurt sets and water leaves the side of the pot/bowl.)
  11. If you like that sour tinge, then keep them for a longer while. 
  12. After the yogurt is properly set, refrigerate it for 2 hrs and serve chilled.

  1. If you are setting the yogurt in an earthen pot, then put slightly hot milk in it so as to make the vessel warm. After some time, when it becomes luke warm, add yogurt to it. If you directly put luke warm milk in an earthen vessel, the curd/yogurt might not set as the vessel remains colder.
  2. Never add yogurt to hot milk. It will cause curdling of the milk. Never add it to cold milk else the yogurt will not be formed and set. Temperature plays vital role in making yogurt.
  3.  Either keep the vessel in some warm place, or in a heated oven, or the best way is to keep it on another big vessel containing hot water/milk. This is my mum's trick. She always sets curd by keeping the bowl over hot milk pot/vessel. By the time the milk cools down, it gives enough heat to the yogurt bowl to set it. Her yogurt sets up in 3-4 hrs usually; mine takes a longer time. :)
  4. Never immerse the yogurt bowl in the vessel of hot water. Rather, cover the bigger hot water vessel with a flat lid/plate and put your covered yogurt bowl over it. 
  5. Don't be eager to touch the yogurt bowl every now and then to see if it got all set or not. Also, never move that pot/bowl here and there. Shifting and moving affect the setting process adversely. 
  6. The milk is already sweetened, hence the yogurt will be sweetened as well. No need to add sugar to it later, neither do you need to cream it up. Serve it as it is...creamy, sweet n yummy! :)

Friday, April 26, 2013

Corn n Cheese Bruschetta

Yonks passed and I felt asleep, intoxicated with dreams and memories of past, the childhood and the adolescence. With each passing day I grew lazier and my inner zeal happened to run on a vacation. Sometimes a break is so badly needed, actually needed for good. So guys, with no regrets, I just returned from one.
As vacations are dreamed to be reposeful, I inevitably had some. With ounces heaping on, especially to a person who essays hard to put on some weight and still can't manage to get by any way, this amplification was a bountiful achievement. :P

Since I am talking about calories and weight gain here, I had to undergo a rich diet n regime, wo bhi mumma ke haath ka swadisht khana and then resting, watching television and sleeping the day long. This was perhaps like going to gym for weight reduction for others, which is definitely not as easy as it sounds. For a person like me, who doesn't like to sit even and keep working the max of hours with a small kiddo who keeps you on toes the whole while, this resting phase was not an easy intruder. But gradually it picked up, and indeed so well that now it's so damn tough to get back to the old routine. :P
I cooked and baked seldom in the last three months and was a binge eater most of the time. But then here comes the most beautiful thing I baked ever: scrumptious, beauteous, cheesy Bruschetta that I made with home-baked bread in my newie loaf tin.
The aroma of freshly baked home breads is irresistible. Much easier than it ever sounded to me, baking is just another world of cooking. To most of the Indians, as far as I have understood and known, baking is a not-so-easy type of a thing. Possibly the reason behind is an attempt that never took place, because once you start doing it, it slides smoothly and converts you to a baker soon. Yes, there are blunders and mistakes that might happen while baking, but who said you can make chapathis or curries flawless all the time. It's all that is there in your mind that makes it simple or tough, whether it is dealing with life situations or baking/cooking. So guys, here I give you an idyllic glance of what came out of my oven:


Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Baking Time: 5-10 minutes (for the final toast/grill)
                     30 minutes (for baking the bread/base)
Makes 8 bruschettas

Bruschetta, from the Italian word "bruscare" meaning "to roast over coals" is made by toasting whole, wide slices of a rustic Italian or sourdough type bread. It is an antipasto from Italy whose origin dates to at least the 15th century. It consists of grilled bread rubbed with garlic and topped with olive oil, salt and pepper. Variations may include toppings of tomato, vegetables, beans, cured meat, or cheese; the most popular recipe outside of Italy involves basil, fresh tomato, garlic and onion or mozzarella. Bruschetta is usually served as a snack or appetizer. In some countries, a topping of chopped tomato, olive oil and herbs is sold as bruschetta.

For the Base:
1. All Purpose Flour/Maida: 1 and 3/4 cup
2. Active Dry Yeast/ Instant Yeast: 1 tsp
4. Luke Warm Water: 1/4 cup
5. Butter/Olive Oil: 2 tbs
6. Warm Milk: 1/4 cup (use only if required) + 2 tbs for brushing
7. Baking Powder: 1/2 tsp
8. Curd/yogurt: 2 tbs
9. Salt: 1 tsp
10. Sugar: 1 tbs

For the Topping:
1. Sweet Corn Kernels: 1 cup
2. Capsicum/Bell Pepper: 1/2 (finely chopped)
3. Tomato: 1 (finely chopped)
4. Garlic Cloves: 5 (finely chopped)
5. Cheese (Mozarella/ Cheddar): 1 big cube
6. Olives: sliced
7. Olive oil/ Butter
8. Basil, dried herbs and oregano
9. Salt to taste
10. Ground Pepper
11. Chilli Flakes (optional)


For The Bread:
  1. Add the yeast and sugar to luke warm water (1/4 cup) and let it stand for 10 minutes till it starts frothing.
  2. Sieve the maida/all purpose flour; add salt and baking powder to it.
  3. Now add 1 tbs butter/oil and yogurt to the flour and mix well. Make a well in the center of the flour and slowly pour in the yeast water mix. Keep on kneading and adding slowly till a sticky soft dough is formed. If you find that the water is not enough, then add in some warm milk slowly. The dough will be as soft as the dough we make for naan/chapathi.
  4. Knead it well after greasing your hands with some oil, till the dough becomes pliable and soft (I did that for around 10 minutes). 
  5. Now grease the outer dough with little oil to avoid drying and keep it covered with a wet clean cloth/cling wrap in a warm place for about an hour or more (till it doubles up in size).
  6. After one hour, when it's doubled, deflate it gently with your palms and shape it into an elongated roll so as to fit in a bread loaf/mini french loaf tin.
  7. Place the dough in the greased loaf tin.
  8. Brush it with milk on the top.
  9. Cover this with a wet, clean cloth/cling wrap and keep covered for almost 30-40 minutes (better an hour) for rising again. It should double up in size again and look well puffed.
  10. Pre-heat the oven at 160 degrees Celsius for 10 minutes. 
  11. Now transfer the loaf/cake tin on a baking tray and take off the cover/cloth/wrap. Bake for 25-30 minutes at 160 degrees Celsius till the top turns light golden brown.
  12. Once it is baked, place it on a wire rack to cool.
  13. On cooling, slice the loaf into 8 big pieces. The loaf will be crusty and hard on top but soft within. You can wrap it in a cling film and keep for some time to make it softer.
  14. These bread slices can be used in multiple ways. You could make some fresh garlic breads, bruschetta, or just relish them with butter. 
  1. For Bruschetta, drizzle some olive oil on top, dress up with garlic, and some grated cheese. Embellish further with olives, corn, bell pepper and tomato. Sprinkle basil, herbs, oregano, salt and pepper. 
  2. Toast/grill for 4-5 minutes. If you want them crispier, increase the toasting time.
  3. Also, you could go the other way. Toast the slices first till they turn crisp n light brown. Then spread some olive oil and follow with the toppings and serve as it is (without grilling/baking the topping). 
  4. Traditionally, bruschetta are toasted over the embers of a fire, then rubbed with a clove of garlic and drizzled with your best extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled with salt. This is a great way of letting the true flavors of a fresh, golden-hued olive oil shine through. Also, it lends itself to a myriad of fresh and marinated toppings too, you are likely to find it generously topped with either chopped, ripe tomatoes and basil, a purée of fresh fava beans and garlic, sun dried tomato spreads, or whatever vegetables are in season at the time.
  1. If you are using instant yeast, use the same amount.
  2. There's another way of making the dough in which all the ingredients are mixed together and dough is formed; no separate frothing of yeast in water is required. This is good when you are using instant yeast. Although I prefer the original method.
  3. If the dough is not rising because of the temperature (i.e. it's not warm), you can place the dish containing the dough over a vessel filled with warm water (and not dipping in the warm water). This will help providing the right temperature for rising.
  4. I kept the dough in the closed oven for rising, with the light on. This gave the perfect temperature and environment for rising, and it puffed up double in just 45 minutes. You can also keep it in sun-light which is warm enough to ferment it.
  5. Baking timings vary according to different ovens, but this cannot be baked in a microwave oven without convection mode.  
  6. I prefer to brush the dough with milk before keeping it for rising again. Don't touch the dough after it has risen, whether to shift, or out of curiosity. It will deflate it, and then it won't puff again and will sink in. If you want to brush it after rising, make sure you do it very softly, so as not to deflate it.
  7. The risen dough looks well puffed, also it sticks to the neighboring balls, but don't try to separate that. Just transfer the whole tin to the oven and cut the baked loaf into slices once it has cooled down . 
  8. If you wish to use eggs, you can skip the baking powder and curd/yogurt to the dough.
  9. Bake the loaf only till the top turns light golden. If you bake it further, the upper crust will harden.
  10. While toasting the bruschetta, make sure you do not over-toast else the base will over-char and go hard.
  11. The toppings can change with the waves of creativity your brain forms. From spinach bruschetta to mushroom bruschetta, from mint leaves to thyme, just anything can empower it with its distinctive flavor.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Chandrakala (Stuffed Sugar-coated Pastry)

Chandrakala, sounds so similar to 'Chandrakanta' and thus takes me to the golden era of Doordarshan Cinema, those Sunday morning specials, the 'Jungle Book', ' The Ramayana', ' The Mahabharat' and then this color-blasted catchy story of the beautiful  princess 'Chandrakanta'. Though Chandrakanta has nothing to do with Chandrakala, except for the fact that both of them are surprisingly enticing. 

Well, I had my first encounter with this dainty delight some 3 years back when I saw it sleeping beside guziya in a sweet shop. It looked like guziya, but was roundy-round, and then had that shiny lustre to flaunt its beauty along with the lovely curls on sides. I was gazing at it with so much love and that day I thought that would try this for sure someday. Years passed in a flash of light and suddenly I went back to the memory lane, recalling this sweet and decided to make this for Diwali. I had no idea about how to turn it on sides and seal it, but had firm determination to give a try at least, and if it would not work, then I would switch to my regular guziya moulds and use up the mixture there. By God's grace, I learned to turn it after 3 unsuccessful trials. In the beginning, I didn't know how to go about and was trying to seal the edges with distant turns, but in the next two trials, the trick just clicked and I reached the moon (with no help from any videos o you tube! :P). 


Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes

For the Pastry:
1. Maida/ All Purpose Flour: 3 cups
2. Ghee/ Clarified Butter: 1/2 cup (for the dough)
3. Warm Water: for preparing dough
4. Ghee/oil: for deep frying

For the Filling:
1. Khova/ Mava/ Reduced Milk: 200 gms
2. Powdered Sugar: 1/2 cup or as per taste
3. Chironji: 2 tbs
4. Almond flakes/bits: 1/4 cup
5. Raisins: a handful (optional)
6. Cashew Nuts: a handful (optional)
7. Grated coconut: 1/4 cup (optional)
8. Elaichi/ Cardamom Powder: 1 tbs

For the Sugar Syrup: 
1. Sugar: 3 cups
2. Water: 1 cup

  1. For preparing the dough, take the maida/APF in a bowl and add ghee to it. Mix well with your fingers till you get a crumbly structure. Take a handful of flour and press it hard in your fist; now rest it slowly on the loose flour and see if it can still keep up its shape. If the flour loosens immediately and falls apart, then you need to add a little more of ghee. The ghee should be enough to loosely bind it.
  2. Now add warm water to prepare a soft dough (like that for poori). 
  3. Cover it and let it rest for 20 minutes.
  4. For the filling, take the khova/ mava in a heavy bottomed pan and heat it.
  5. Keep moving the laddle continuously to avoid any sticking at the bottom. 
  6. The khova will become loose on heating and will start melting. Keep stirring till it becomes slightly golden and starts leaving the edges of the pan.
  7. Take it off fire and let it cool.
  8. Once it has cooled down, add the powdered sugar, dry fruits, cardamom powder and grated coconut to it. 
  9. The mixture might be slightly sticky if the khova has not dried well, but that will hardly make any difference in the taste. 
  10. Keep the mixture aside.
  11. In the meanwhile, when the khoya is cooling down, prepare the sugar syrup. 
  12. Take 3 cups sugar and 1 cup water in a heavy bottomed wok/ vessel and take a boil with frequent stirring to dissolve the sugar completely . Simmer for 2 minutes and leave it warm.
  13. For preparing the pastry, divide the dough into 20 equal parts and make small balls out of them. Also, divide the khova mixture into 10 equal parts and make small balls with each of them.
  14. Now take two dough balls and roll them separately like small pooris.
  15. Place one poori on a flat surface and place the khova ball in the centre of it. Wet the rim of the circle with some water using your fingertips. Now place the other poori over it to cover it completely. 
  16. Now the main trick lies in curling and swirling the edges to give the perfect shape. Press the entire rim gently with your fingers to merge the two pooris or circles. Now start turning/bending the rim within, with each turn getting over the prior one, and thus making a chain like structure. This art of bending and twisting will come with time and practice, so have patience in your first go. It took 10 minutes for me to understand and figure out how to bend accurately, but then it just came automatically. 
  17. Once the whole structure is well bound and locked, keep it aside, covered with a wet cloth. Stuff 3-4 pastries at a time and then start frying.
  18. In the meanwhile, keep the ghee/oil for heating. The ghee should not be fuming hot neither cold. It should be be just right, that is when a part of dough is immersed, it should rise up immediately but not turn brown.
  19. Keep the flame on medium-low, and slide the pastries in the ghee. Deep fry them on both the sides till they become golden.
  20. Sieve them out and immediately immerse them in the warm syrup. Take them out after 30 seconds and carefully place them on a plate in a vertical position, so as to let the excessive syrup drain out.
  21. If the sugar syrup has become too stringy, white and crystalline, then warm it again with a few drops of water.
  22. The perfect syrup will always give a shine, while the overdone one will turn white.
  23. Let the sweet rest for 30 minutes, so that the syrup coating can dry up. 
  24. Serve with some almond flakes and loads of love. :)
  1. The khova/mava should be fresh, else the whole sweet will get spoiled.
  2. You can always keep the filling as sweet as you want. Since the pastry is already sugar coated, so I preferred keeping the filling mildly sweet. 
  3. The dry fruits can be of your choice. If you wish to store this sweet for more than 2 days, then avoid using raisins and fresh coconut.
  4. Avoid refrigerating, else the outer crust will go soggy.
  5. It's always better to finish off khova sweets within 2 days else they need refrigeration, and then the crust doesn't remain the same crunchy. 
  6. You can also make guziyas with the same filling and dough; just that the sugar syrup coating is not required there. 
  7. If the sugar syrup is too thin, then it will not dry up and thus the sweet will stay slightly sticky, and if it is too thick and crystalline, then it will go all white white and flaky, so make sure you prepare the perfect syrup. Anyway, it will still be delicious. :)
  8. Don't keep the rolled dough too thin, else it will break on bending and curling. 
  9. Chandrakala generally has a thicker crust than Guziya.