Brinjal Pickle: Marking Achaar Din for Indian Food Observance Day


 

Pickling has several  connotations in many parts of the world. Very simply put it means preserving food in brine or a vinegar immersion. We find pickled foods almost everywhere, right from cucumbers, gherkins, kimchi, carrots to even meats and seafood. Now pickles can be quite diverse and can say a lot of one’s culture. For instance in most european countries picking could mean preserving the vegetables in a simple brine solution and hence tend these to be more acidic in flavours. Where as here in the Indian sub continent the process of pickling lends a complexity of flavours quite tart and mingled with sweet and spicy notes.

Pickling is an age old tradition in India, albeit a dying one due to easy availability of ready made pickles off the market shelves.I have very fond memories of my grandmother and my aunts looking forward to the summer months when Mangoes are plenty. The green mangoes especially along with a host of spices, sugar and oil makes up a delicious pickle which serves up as an accompaniment with our meals. There are various varieties of pickle here including Lime, green chillies,mixed vegetables and even meats and sea food.

Well recently we celebrated Achaar Day in India. This translates into Pickle day as a part of Indian Food observance Day here in Mumbai.This is a wonderful initiative by the lovely blogger pal Rushina. She messaged me to come and join her for her AchaarDin potluck last weekend. Unfortunately due to a prior commitment I was  unable to attend this event, However I promised her a Achaar recipe that evokes childhood memories for me and my family.

My Grand mom,Mom and aunts would often make this Brinjal pickle which we would relish as kids.With Anglo- Indian blood from my maternal genes this could well be coined under lost Anglo Indian recipes…This pickle takes me back to my maternal grandmothers kitchen where often the aroma’s of this pickle wafted through the house. I have tweaked it a bit by giving it my own touch. It’s just as good (so I think) Will have to send some across to my mom and my sister  to sample some.I’m nursing some allergies at the moment and all I can do is stare at this wonderful and easy pickle for the moment.
But I would love for you to try this recipe out. This can be eaten hot or cold and stays well for 3-4 when refrigerated.

Brinjal Pickle:

Ingredients:
1/2 kg small brinjals
3-4 pods chopped garlic
1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
5-6 curry leaves
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon roasted cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/4 teaspoon asafoetida (hing)
1 teaspoon chilli powder
5 tablespoons groundnut Oil
3 tablespoons White vinegar
2 tablespoons powdered jaggery (gur) or sugar

Method:

Wash the brinjals and cut into quarters
Add a little oil and fry the brinjals till semi cooked.
Remove them and keep aside
In the same pan add the balance oil and temper with mustard seeds and cumin seeds.
Add the chopped garlic and ginger garlic paste and fry for a bit.
Next add in all the powdered spices. and fry.
Add the fried brinjals and cook till almost done
Add in the vinegar and jaggery powder.
Cool and store in an air tight container.
Must consume within 2-3 days

Achari Aloo: Potatoes cooked in Pickling Spices

Food Like A Loving Touch Or A Glimpse Of Divine Power Has The Ability To Comfort…

IMG_2713

 

Let’s say we all have our Comfort foods.I for one crave a simple meal especially after a busy day at work,perhaps when I’m low and even especially after travelling and being away from home for awhile.It also has a lot to do with the kind of flavours one grew up on.I spent a large part of my childhood with my grandparents.My grandmother was a great cook and while meat and fish dishes were a regular  at the dinner table,she cooked a variety of vegetarian meals as well.And yes potatoes were always the family favourite.She would often make potatoes with onions and spices and this was very often made it to our lunch boxes..There are certain flavour’s that linger on and taste just like childhood.Well here is a recipe that reminds me of my grand mom’s cooking,and curiously enough, instantly transports me back  to her kitchen.Well of course food that is linked to childhood nostalgia often brings on a cooking marathon in my kitchen,partly from the incessant desire to revive traditional cooking.

I too tend to cook potatoes in different forms.While my  son loves them either as a baked potato or in a salad,the husband loves them curried with a riot of spices and onions.This is my favourite way of making potatoes which replicates my grand mother’s recipe with  a few variations. Continue reading

My Amritsar Diaries: The Golden Temple,Street Eats & A Recipe

IMG_2494

A vist to The Golden Temple Amritsar had been on my “Must Visit List” for quite many years now,amongst various other destinations in India.We have recently relocated to India for awhile and the hubs and me have been bitten by the weekend travel bug.More specifically the long weekend travel bug,almost as though it is now imperative to have a travel plan in order albeit a short one.This is precicesly what did just last weekend.

The Golden Temple Amritsar (also known as the  Harimandir Sahib) is not only  a prime religious place of the Sikhs, but also a symbol of human brotherhood and equality. Everybody, irrespective of cast, creed or race can seek spiritual solace and religious fulfilment without any hindrance. It also represents the distinct identity, glory and heritage of the Sikhs.

HOW TO GET TO AMRITSAR:

  • We choose to fly to Delhi and then flew to Amritsar after having spent a couple of days in Delhi.
  • There are direct flights from Mumbai-Amritsar as well.
  • You may choose to even try travelling by train or bus from Delhi.

ACCOMODATION:We went by a friend’s recommendation and stayed at Ramada,Amritsar.It was a very comfortable stay.Well appointed rooms,clean and good service.The stay included a complimentary breakfast with a traditional menu and a a reasonable continental fare too.The hotel is centrally located and just a ten minute rickshaw drive to the Temple.Best of all it is walking distance to a lot of the eateries and food stuff store.You may even choose from Trip advisors pick of 10 best hotels if you wish:

https://www.tripadvisor.in/Hotels-g303884-Amritsar_Punjab-Hotels.html

SOME TIPS TO KEEP IN MIND WHILE VISTING THE TEMPLE:

The Harmandir Sahib is open to all persons regardless of their religion, colour, creed or gender. The only restrictions on the Harmandir Sahib’s visitors concern their behaviour when entering and while visiting:

  • Maintaining Purity:
    • Upon entering the premises, removing one’s shoes (leaving them off for the duration of one’s visit) and washing one’s feet in the small pool of water provided;
    • Not drinking alcohol, eating meat, or smoking cigarettes or other drugs while in the shrine
  • Dress Code:
    • Wearing a head covering (a sign of respect).Ideally women should carry a scarf and men a handkerchief to cover their head. Alternatively you may buy the head gear from vendors outside the temple.
  • How to act:
    • When listening to Gurbani,, one must also sit on the ground while in the Darbar Sahib as a sign of deference to both the Guru Granth Sahib and God.
  • The Harimandir Sahib runs a  free kitchen, serving 100,000 people on average daily. The meal consists Indian Roti,some lentils and rice.While this is free,it is always nice to leave a small donation that is used towards running of this kitchen.This kitchen is solely run by volunteers.

MUST EATS IN AMRITSAR:

  1. KESAR DA DHABA:This is probably Amritsar’s oldest family run restaurants serving up delicious Amritsari delicacies like the the famous Stuffed Lachha Parantha’s ,Channa’s and Dal fry.One has the option of either ordering a full Thali which consists of two paranthas,dal fry, channa,salad and a raita or you may choose to order a la carte.We went along with a plate of the Paneer stuffed Kulchas, Palak paneer and some Channa.Just one word for this food.Finger linking good.And yes of course one could not leave this place without sampling the ever so famous Phirni( Rice pudding flavoured with saffron).This was a soul satiating meal,yes calorie ridden but worth every calorie consumed. This iconic place is a must visit whilst in Amritsar.I of course could not resist the temptation of wandering off into the kitchen to see how these delicious Kulchas and Lachha paranthas were being made.

IMG_2482

Paneer Stuffed Lachha Parantha with Dal

IMG_2472

Phirni: Ground Rice Pudding 

IMG_2470

So what really is a Lachha Paratha?

Well a Parantha is essentially Indian flat bread made from either wheatflhour or All purpose flour.In the case of the Lachha parantha  is further layered and stuff with either mashed potatoes or cottage cheese. There are several ways of making this one is by covering the thinly rolled out pastry with oil, folding back and forth like a paper fan and coiling the resulting strip into a round shape before rolling flat, baking on the tava and shallow frying. Another method is to cut a circle of dough from the centre to its circumference along its radius, oiling the dough and starting at the cut edge rolling so as to form a cone which is then squashed into a disc shape and rolled out. The method of oiling and repeatedly folding the dough as in western puff pastry also exists, and this is combined with folding patterns that give traditional geometrical shapes to the finished parathas.

Do see some of the images below that will give you a fair idea of the way these paranthas are rolled out.

Roti Collage


IMG_2478

 

IMG_2479

2.Lassi:This cooling and refreshing drink made from Yogurt and water can be had from pactically any of the restaurants or dairies in Amritsar.The choice is between a sweet or salted one.I prefer the sweet one. These come in large portions,so one can either share this on have this much before or after a meal as it does fill you up quite a bit.

SWEET LASSI

IMG_2506

 

3.Gurudas Jalebiwala:We discovered this quaint vendor while walking down the streets of Amritsar one morning.I was actually looking for some sweets to bring back for the family in Mumbai,when the hubs had an insane craving to eat some hot Jalebis that were freshly being made by this street side shop.Jalebis are made from sweetened and fermented batter which is deep fried in circular shapes and then soaked in sugar syrup.The best part of our  food trail was that one could just order a small portion that could be shared.This way we got to savour many delightful treats in Amritsar.The perfect way around a city is to eat your way through it and that’s exactly what we did in just two days of being there.

collage Jalebi 2

PIPING HOT JALEBIS

IMG_2512

4.Bhai Kulwant Singh: Now if there is one thing that keeps Amritsar ticking is the small hole in the wall places that serve up some brilliant food.Well it would be a pity to leave Amritsar without devouring the famous Amritsar Kulcha and Chole said the hubs.So we settle for this small un assuming little roadside eatery that was packed to the brim even at 11 am in the morning.We both have a plate each of the stuffed Kulcha which is served with some spicy hot Chole (chickpeas) and a side of some chopped onions and pickle.Just perfect for a mid morning brunch as we were leaving that afternoon.I very much recommend this place and it’s fairly close to the Golden temple as well.After all it’s places such as these that have stood the test of time and warrant authentic local flavours.

Amritsari Kulcha with Chole

IMG_2505

Two other very popular places in Amritsar are Beera Chicken corner and Makhan Fish which is known for its Amritsari Fish.These were highly recommended by friends,unfortunately we did not have time to visit these.

5.Food stuff to bring back from Amritsar: Now if you are like me,the only souvenirs I enjoy taking back home are food ingredients that are typical to the place I visit.I had heard about Amritsari Wadiyan( Dried dumplings made from lentils)  Papads and all the fabulous fresh north Indian Masala’s.So we decided to head to a store close to the hotel that seemed to stock all the local flavours.We were quite fortunate to find The Dry Fruit Corner store just outside our hotel.This place stocks some very authentic local flavours and the best ever quality of dry fruits as well.The walnuts and almonds in particular are great quality.My loot is quite evident from the image below…Some Amritsari Rajma (red kidney beans) along with the Rajma Masala and some Paratha masala and of course the ever famous Wariyan,which i cooked up as soon as as I got hoe.The detailed recipe included too.What’s even better is this store delivers their food products for a minimum charge too.Infact my next package has just arrived and I can’t wait to cook up the Rajma too.

STORE: Amritsar Dry Fruit Corner

Goal Hatti Chowk,Hall Bazar Amritsar

Telephone:0183-2541174

Mobile: 98880-66880

collage of food producys

IMG_2824

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2-3 Wadiyan
  • 3 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
  • 1 medium Onion (chopped finely)
  • 2 Tomatoes (pureed)
  • 1 medium Potato (Diced)
  • 1 green Chilli (chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon ginger-garlic paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 4 tablespoons Yogurt (whisked)
  • Chopped coriander for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat  1 tablespoon Oil in a a pan and roughly brake up the Wadiyan and fry them for about 5 minutes or until slightly reddish.Keep aside.(I prefer to shallow fry these,you may deep fry if you like too)
  2. Now heat the remaining oil in a pressure cooker. Temper with some cumin seeds.
  3. Now add the chopped onions and fry till medium brown.Then add the ginger garlic paste and fry further till brown.Add the turmeric and coriander powder.
  4. Then add the pureed tomatoes and cook for about 7-8 minutes till oil separates.
  5. Now add the fried Wadiyan and chopped potatoes.
  6. Pressure cook for about 7 minutes.
  7. When the steam is released open the cooker and whisk in 4 tablespoons of yogurt and mix well.
  8. Garnish with freshly chopped coriander.

Worth Switching to Fortune Rice Bran Oil: Subz Kheema with Paneer & Soya

 

 

Watermark Suba kheema

 

 

An eternal debate for me has been making a conscious and healthy choice with regards to the Cooking Oil I use in my kitchen.For many of us seem baffled with the various alternatives available on the supermarket shelves and in stores.

I for one have  been using Sunflower Oil for some time now and have been on the look out for a lighter and a healthier alternative. Having moved to Mumbai just about a year ago, I’d been following many debates on the best medium of Cooking Oil.All though  one may argue and have multiple views on this topic.I’m very conscious of the Oil used for regular cooking in my kitchen as using good Cooking Oil is of prime importance for my family’s well being.That said and coupled with some extensive research made me realise that it was perhaps time to explore using Rice Bran. And just as well,this 5 kg pack of Rice Bran Oil arrived from Fortune Foods last week.

 

 

IMG_7566

Rice Bran Oil is extracted from the rice husk and has some great health benefits.It is  enriched with multiple nutrients like Oryzanol that makes it extremely healthy and heart friendly. Rice Bran Oil is a new entrant in the market and soon becoming fairly popular with those looking for a healthier option.

Some key benefits Include:

  1. Cholesterol lowering oil: Heart friendly.
  2. Oryzanol: Improves HDL/LDL ratio. Healthier heart.
  3. Balanced PUFA/MUFA ratio: Cleaner blood vessels.
  4. Balanced Fatty Acids#: Balanced nutrition, balanced health.
  5. Tocotrienols & Phytostrerols*: Anti-cancer properties.
  6. Squalene: Improves skin tone and delays wrinkle formation.
  7. Vitamin E: Helps maintaining balance of nervous system.
  8. Natural antioxidants: Protection against diseases.
  9. Ferulic acid^: Stimulates hormonal secretion, rejuvenates health.
  10. Low oil absorption: Healthier food.

Information source: http://www.fortunefoods.com

Here is a super easy vegetarian recipe that I made up over the weekend using Fortune Rice Bran Oil.

Verdict:Well it’s been about a week of cooking in this Oil and I’m very happy to have made the switch to Rice Bran Oil.I personally find it much lighter than most other cooking oils’ I’ve used.It’s fairly odourless and a mild and pleasant flavour.Best of all it has a high smoking point and that works really well for the Indian Cuisine especially deep frying and stir frying.

Subz Kheema with Paneer & Soya Granules

Ingredients:

  • 1 Large Onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 Tomatoes (diced)
  • 350 grams Paneer (Cottage Cheese)
  • 150 grams Soya Granules (Soaked in warm milk)
  • 50 grams green Peas (par boiled)
  • 1 teaspoon ginger-garlic paste
  • 1-2 green chilies (finely chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon Zeera (Cumin seeds)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Garam Masala
  • 2-3 Tablespoons Fortune Rice Bran Oil

Directions

  1. Soak the Soya granules in some warm milk for about 30 minutes and then squeeze out the milk and keep aside.
  2. Next crumble the Paneer.
  3. In a pan heat some Oil and let it heat.
  4. Add the jeera and let it splutter and then add in the onions and fry well.
  5. Next fry the ginger-garlic paste for a few minutes.
  6. Now add in all the spices and mix well.
  7. Put in the diced tomatoes,fry well and add some water so they cook well.
  8. Once the spices and tomatoes are cooked add in the soaked soya granules and fry for about 8-10 minutes.
  9. Lastly add in the crumbled Paneer and mix well.
  10. Sprinkle with garam masala and garnish with some chopped coriander.

Disclaimer: The above thoughts and views expressed on Rice Bran Oil are part researched from reliable  Internet sources and some information derived from the Company website.The Recipe is my  initiative to promote Fortune Rice Bran Oil which was sent as a complementary sample for me to use.

Gatte Ki Kadhi

 

Gatte watermark

It’s meatless Mondays and Thursdays too, during the week. While the dear husband prefers meat, he’s quite happy to settle for a vegetarian meal a couple of times. Here is a recipe for Gatte Ki Kadhi which is a Rajasthani delicacy. Quite easily a delicious gram flour dumpling in a yogurt based curry. Continue reading