Thursday, 15 October 2015

All about salt ....

Salterie in French means a box to store salt .  Salt has been used since ages  in human civilisation . Its a very important part of our diet .  Promising or vowing on the salt is  considered very sacred and solemn. Was it king Leer who finally understood when his third daughter said " papa I love you as much as salt in my dish . "
A salt    pig is an open salt container with its mouth sticking out like a pig . But it does not have a lid and is usually made of ceramic . So the chances of breakage are more .Salt should be aired as much as possible else it gets clogged and clumpy .   My Brazilian friend taught me to add a few raw rice to the salt  mill - the one  used to keep on the dining table and sprinkle on food while eating . The raw rice will soak in the moisture  of the salt from the mill and it wont clog while sprinkling from small holes .  But we don't use salt or pepper mills on our table much .
 You know my nature , when some thing new comes up, I have to talk non stop about it for days together . So here we go about my new salterie , my old one , the whys and hows ...

For a decade when there were just 2 of us , we didn't use much salt as we didn't cook much. Once the twins came ,  we started buying groceries to stock them and use them in  big quantities.
I bought my first big box of rock salt ( which came along with a plastic box ) from Sainsbury's as we lived in London way back then. it was a plastic box of 1.5  kg .  I have been using it till now , its been a decade since I bought it last .  I use the refill bags of rock salt now from Carrfour ( we have shifted to Paris so ... ) and fill my red and white plastic box with it . They say its inauspicious to wash salt containers so I never washed it .  It  did serve its purpose though it was a bit tough to scrap the rock salt lying at the bottom when the box was almost empty . I use a small plastic spoon to scoop out rock salt from it .  It used to hurt my wrists as the border of this  box  is wearing out . when it was time to scrap  out from its bottom .  You might ask why don't you use a longer spoon . Well the thing is , I have been using the small plastic spoon since day one and the older  a thing gets, the more attached and sentimental you become about it . Its complicated logic but hope you get it .

Like they say , learn to embrace new things .  Nothing wrong in letting go old things . I saw this pretty Salterie on Ebay. It was Ukrainian  hand made . I bought it  without a second thought .  I ordered one for 21 cms but she gave me one  of 15 cms . Said its hand made so not possible to stick to measurements all the time .  I was kinda disappointed. This is smaller and holds only up to 250 gms .  Well I am not the one to complain all the time . If you don't get what you like , then learn to like what you get . I quite liked the wooden salter . It has a hole on the side  to hold a spoon too. Looking for a silver lining , I don't have to hurt my wrists scrapping salt from its rock bottom.  and now it adorns my kitchen shelf .

I find it pretty and ubiquitous at the same time .  Would love your comments on this new  toy of mine. 

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Idli Chatni pudi ... Spice powder for Idli / Dosa

My inlaws are visiting us now for 2 months .  I will become very cold from November so its better that they leave before that . I am not letting this opportunity go . Making my poor / unsuspecting MIL come and teach me  the bits and bobs right from how to hold the ladle whole frying to heavy recipes which take several hours to make . The Sweet soul she is ,  she is more than willing to stand in my cold kitchen and monitor me .
Today I sweet talked her into teaching me her  patented chatni pudi. Its called by various names Molaga pudi / gun powder / Karam Pudi / Idli pudi / Dal pudi ...
Its a melange ( to use a French term ) of various lentils and spices . Its an accompaniment for idlis / dosas and other tiffin items and makes for a quick breakfast  idea .

Channa Dal -1 cup
Udad Dal - 1/2 cup
Tuar  Dal - 1/4 cup .
Chilly powder /salt to taste .
A generous fist ful of Ground nuts
Curry leaves - a few sprigs
Mustard -1 tbsp
methi seeds - 1 tbsp
Coriander seeds - 2 tbsp
Jeera - 1 tbsp
Sesame seeds  - 1tbsp
Jaggery -  2-3 tbsp ( as per taste.  If you have children  in your family , you need to add a bit more . )
Dry desiccated coconut -  2 tbsp
Hing - a few pinches
Tamarind fruit - 1 small lemon sized ball.

In a heavy bottomed pan,  fry the 3 lentils separately till reddish brown.  Keep the dals aside separately .
In the same pan , fry ground nuts  , sesame seeds , desiccated coconut ,` methi seeds  and curry leaves separately .  You need to lightly fry the chilly powder too .  Keep them all aside in different bowls to cool down .
In the same pan then , fry 2 tbsp of oil  fry the mustard seeds / Cumin seeds and Coriander seeds  till they sputter  and become reddish .

In a mixer / blender , first lightly powder the channa dal . When its coarse , add Udad and Tuar dals  and give one round of blending . It can remain coarse at this stage  .

Add the rest -Groundnuts / curry leaves / mustard / jeera / sesame / jaggery / coconut / hing / tamarind / salt / chilly powder  and give  a nice whirl in the mixer . It should not get too soft  .
Once ground into a thin coarse  consistency, remove it and let it cool down .
Store in an air tight container . For a family of four this should remain for  a month or so and my family eats idlis / dosas etc fairly frequently .

Monday, 11 November 2013

Review- INDIA restarant - India 20, rue du Débarcadère 75017 Paris

It was our 18th wedding day yesterday . We decided to  celebrate it  along with our 7 year old twins.
We first had a dekko at the Christmas decorations  at Lafayette and Print temps . People from world wide come to have a look and get their ideas for window dressing .
Here is a pic of myself at the  Lafayette window with Anu.

Then it was time for dinner.   It was our first visit to this restaurant .We heard about this through  our friends who gave it a 5 star rating .
Personally I am wary of the so called Indian restaurants. Most of them are ( for want of a better word ) Balti restaurants run by Bangladeshis / Pakistanis or Sri Lankans .
How ever we read good reviews on the net and decided to give this INDIA restaurant a try. 
Well for starters , the ambiance was good . I personally don't approve of god's photos or idols  at eating places.
They had heavy bronze statues of many gods like Nata-raj / Ganesha etc., I suppose nowadays to show that you are 'Indian' they need to do all this .
The waiter came almost  immediatly after we have settled down.The fact that we were the first ones that evening might have something to do with it .
We gave our orders - Vegetarian Bhajji  for starters .
coke for Nachi , Orange juice for Anu, Lassi for myself  and Sri.
For the main course it was Vegetable Biryani , Raita , Tadka dal , Paneer makhani  for us / puri and channa for the twins .
The  drinks and aperitif came very quickly .
The waiters were attentive . They did just enough chit chat and not long and lengthy monologues about  how life was 'way back home' and how it is here blah blah . No forced talk  and  no forced familiarity in their talk.
 they cleaned our first course and brought the second course soon. The biryani was simply wow with the decorative almond shavings with just a hint of mint.
The panner dish was superb and not the usual 'melting' paneer found in Balti restaurants. The quality and the quantity was just enough for us . We managed to finish all our dishes  and felt just-heavy   ( not too heavy ).
The twins remarkably finished their puri and channa . That itself speaks volumes of the quantity and  quality of the food .
The only dish they can improve is the raita -yoghurt with vegetables grated. The vegetables  should be crunchy  and added in the last minute . Here its all blended in and made a smooth paste.
The price is fine its not very costly. For a family of four ( sans wine) it comes to approximately 100.00 euros. 
 Well its celebration time so why not spend a few pennies on yourself  once in a while.
All in all, it was a good expeirence for us .
INDIA restaurant 20, rue du Débarcadère 75017 Paris is worth a visit.
Here is  a pic we took .

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Deshasta Marathi side dish - Thencha .

Thencha is a very popular side dish at any festival or functions  of Deshasta Marathi community. It can be served powdery , liquidy or pasty . The basic recipe of the Thencha is given below .
Thencha simply means pounded. This dish has involves  no hassles and takes just over 5 minutes to prepare .
I am giving below my aunt Lalitha Mausi's recipe.
Needless to say ,  she ( like my mum )    learnt it from my gran - Madras Ajji .

Ingredients :
Coriander leaves  finely chopped - 1 cup .
Green chillies                                - 3 or 4  ( The more the tangier ).
freshly grated coconut                   - 3 tbsps .
Ginger                                           -  1 inch piece.
Thick curds                                    - a few tbsps .
Salt                                                - to taste.

To season

Oil      ( coconut or sesame )                                              - 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds                                                                    - 1/2 tsp
broken udad dal pieces                                                      - 1/4 tsp
broken red chillies                                                              - 1

Finely chop green chillies .
Grate ginger .
Take all the ingredients and pound in a pestle  with the mortar.
Or grind coarsely in a mixer / grinder.
You can  vary the consistency of the curds depending on your requiremements - add more if you want it to be watery or remove it if you want it to be  a thick paste.

You can add coarsely grated garlic too  . Garlic , as a rule is not included during festivals and functions .  Hence I have not included this in my ingredients list.

As a final step heat oil and add the in mustard  and udad dal seeds .When they start sputtering finally add the red chilly and add this to the tencha dish .
This serves as a side dish to almost anything .

Good , Bad or Ugly - I like to hear  them all .   Do  send me your feedback.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Shahi Tukda - Dessert of the Mughals.

ngredients (serves eight-ten sweet-toothed people)
1.  10 slices of stale bread
2.  ¼ lb (100 g) unsalted butter (and some extra for buttering the baking dish)
3.  Oil for frying
4.  ¾ cup (200 ml) full cream milk
5.  ¾ cup (200 ml) double/whipping cream
6.  2 cups (500 ml) double cream
7.  Sugar syrup
8.  ¾ cup (200 ml) water
9.  1 ¼ cup (330 g) sugar
10. Seeds from 4-5 cardamom pods
11. 2 generous pinches of saffron
12. Garnish
13. ½ cup (65 g slivered) slivered almonds
14. ½ cup (65 g) chopped pistachios
  • Lightly grease a two-quart (two-litre) baking dish and set aside.
  •  Cut off the edges of the bread and slice in half on the diagonal.
  • Place a frying pan on medium heat and generously smear with some butter and oil (approximately two tbsp) and fry the bread slices till lightly toasted on both sides. (Repeat this step until the whole batch is done.)
  • Transfer the fried bread pieces into a single layer in your baking dish; reserve any extra pieces.
  • In a jug, stir together, milk and double cream. Slowly pour over the bread pieces.
  • While the bread pieces are soaking up the creamy liquid, combine water, sugar, cardamom seeds and saffron in a saucepan and boil over high heat.
  • When the sugar mixture starts changing colour to deep amber and slightly thickens, take off heat (will take approximately be five-seven minutes to thicken.)
  • Pour half of the extra double cream (500 ml) on the bread slices followed by the sugar syrup.
  •  If left with additional pieces of bread add more layers to the baking dish by pouring in the rest of the milk-cream mixture and waiting for the bread to absorb the liquid, followed by the remaining double cream and sugar syrup.
  •  Let the bread mixture sit on the counter for 20 minutes before placing it in a pre-heated 180c (350-F) oven.
  •  Bake for 35 minutes until the bread is puffed up, glowing in the colours of saffron and caramelised sugar and ever so creamily soft. Garnish with nuts just before serving.
Note: This dessert can be served hot or cold, the choice is yours!

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Class of Alain DuCasse .

Michelin is a motor  Tyre company which does anonymous checks on restaurants and  chefs. It publishes each year a list of world wide  classy restaurants and places to eat and their chefs.
Their stars are very much valued.
There are just a few of 3 star Michelin chefs in the world. We can count them on our figures. Many chefs commit suicide when their stars are removed or denied.
It’s a matter of honor and prestige .
One such chef is Alain DuCasse. He has 3 stars to his credit .
.He runs several classes here in Paris.
One such class is  of desserts.   I got this gift from Sri on my birthday .
I reached  on time   and there were some 10-12 students along with me .we were given one thick heavy cotton apron and some papers to write notes on ( with pencils of course  ) . the recipes were also printed and given to us  but in French .
Wow the kitchen is master class.

Each and everything there was WOW .
The man himself is simplicity personified. Here we think this big man who gets written about in big mags and papers must be pompous and snob nosed. But no he was simple smiling but also very strict with is students.
The first step was to create the base pate ( base pie dough)
He had already  made boxes with required amount f butter / cheese/ cream / flour etc,.
The students were asked to come  one by one . he made sure that all of us got hands on . among the students 2 were professional chefs.
2 -3 others were like me who had this class as a birthday gift.
A few were running their own restaurants .
The rest were house wives. U can see that they belonged to the upper echelons . many female students had grace and they were just ‘ housewives’ .  I can imagine  how they run their kitchens so much class and grace .
Wow  what a  class what grace alain had while cooking .
He was so strict he used to come over and look behind all our shoulders to see if its fine or not .
He had a couple of students who to used to come in / clean up  /arrange and leave quietly. The class lasted 4 full hours and we had to stand the entire time . it took a lot of effort from all of us to scrub/ whip/ cut / knead / boil/ stir . The ovens were transparent ( scrubbed squeaky clean ) so that we could see the  flour rising .
We did pate ( base ) for pies  , creams with berries for fillings / profiteroles( its like a bred filled with cream ) / éclair stuffed with cream … the usual popular French desserts
When we were cooking I felt it is going to be too sugary and heavy .
The last piece was when we sat down to taste .
At that time it tasted not that sweet but yes a bit heavy thanks to heavy cream and butter.
What he says is right- we won’t make all such dishes daily so when we do it once in a while why not use 100 % butter and cream. Why spoil it with low fat cream and butter  which wont taste so rich.
The kitchen utensils/ the spoons / the table/ the cutlery were spic and span. No wonder he is a star chef. I have taken pics and will try to paste them.
The apron was given to us as a souvenir .  it was a worthy gift. Now I cant wait to  bake  my own desserts in my own oven in my own house .

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Lamb's lettuce dal.

We had a packet of lamb's lettuce lying since a few days. Neither of us is a salad's person. So I tried this lamb's lettuce dal and it came out very well to my surprise .Lamb's lettuce is a bit difference  from the normal lettuce. the leaves are slightly darker and smaller in size . Its also very slippery. You should be careful while chopping it .

Lamb's lettuce coarsly chopped - 2 cups .
Tuar dal                                      - 1/2 cup .
Green chillies                             - 2
Ginger /garlic paste  ( optional ) - 1/2 tsp.
Salt                                             - to taste.

For seasoning
Mustard seeds /  broken udad dal / one red chilly/ curry leaves /Sesame oil.

1. Boil and mash the tuar dal very smoothly and keep it aside .
2. In a heavy bottomed kadai, take  1 tbsp sesame oil and add the lamb's lettuce  chopped leaves.
3. close the lid and let it  fry for a few minutes on slow fire . Very quickly they will reduce to half their original quantity.
4 .AFter 5-10 minutes , once they are 'cooked' , add the boiled tuar dal .
5 . Add salt and close the lid again  to let it simmer.
6 .Finally take a smaller kadai.
7.Add 1 tbsp sesame oil ( or any oil of your choice) , add the ingredients for seasoning .
8 .Once they splutter, add the seasoning to the dal mixtue .
9. Garnish with lemon juice / coriander leaves as per your wish.  Tastes heavenly with hot rice .
10. If this is made a bit thick, then it can be had with chapati too.

Do try this and mail to me at .