(Lima) Beans and Delhi Cha(a)t

Saturday, January 28, 2006


Over the past 72 hours I have had enough of online poker, casino and pharmacy spamming the comment section of this blog. I know it would be futile to suggest to the spammers to get a life, so I have to perforce go for the only other option--enabling the comment moderation feature.

This is just to let all our wonderful readers know to please continue posting your comments and not fret if they don't show up immediately :P. They eventually will and they are always precious to us.

So please don't stop your compliments and castigations :)


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Peas...fully :)

Let me admit right in the beginning (and I fear crucifixion for this), I was never an ardent pea admirer. I do realize peas are very popular among a lot of food lovers, but I never found them that special. I remember when as children my brother and I used to help Ma shell out peas, Dada (my brother) would always keep popping them into his mouth, unable to resist the temptation. I imitated him a couple of times and wondered why he found them so tasty; I never did.

At the same time, I don’t abhor peas either. This versatile green grain often found its way into a whole range of foods—from curries, to pulao, salads, and I never minded eating it. But mostly, I remained indifferent to its existence and didn’t think any more of it than a mere side (if I may dare say that) ingredient.

However, there are a couple of things we make with this green pod that have no substitute at all. And those bowl me over as well. These are peas parantha and peas kachori—two delightful wonders to be had in the winters. So it is with great joy that I bring motorshutir (peas in Bangla) kachuri or peas kachori for this month’s From My Rasoi theme—breakfast. . The event, hosted by the talented Meena of Hooked on Heat has already proved to be scrumptious affair.

And so here is something for a comfort breakfast, preferably to be savoured on a lazy weekend morning.

Motorshutir Kachuri/Peas Kachori


For filling:

Peas: 500 gms
Ginger: 25 gms
Green chilli: 2-3
Cumin seeds: 1 teaspoon
Asafoetida (hing) powder: A pinch
Oil: 1 tablespoon

For Kachori (pancake) dough:

Flour: 1 kg
Baking powder: ½ teaspoon
Oil: 2 tablespoons

Oil for frying kachoris


Step I: The filling:

1. Shell out the peas or use frozen ones and wash them.
2. Add some salt, chopped ginger, chopped green chillies to the peas and blend into a fine paste. Add a little water if required.
3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a skillet and drop the cumin seeds and asafoetida (hing) powder.
4. When the cumin seeds begin to splutter, add the peas paste and keep stirring, until the water dries out and the oil starts separating.
5. Keep aside and let it cool.

Step II: The kachori dough:

1. Sift flour into a bowl. Add the baking powder, a little salt, and two tablespoons of oil in it. Mix well.
2. Add water and knead into a tight dough of medium consistency (dough should be neither too soft nor too hard).

The grand finale: Making the kachoris:

1. Make small balls from the dough. Roll each ball within your palms, make a cavity and fill it with a teaspoon of the filling.
2. Close the ball and smoothen it by rolling within the palms.
3. Using a rolling pin, roll the balls out into small pancakes.
4. Deep fry until golden brown
5. Serve hot with any chutney/pickle.

Perfect comfort food for a winter morning. And if there’s a cup of hot chai to accompany it, that would be perfection perfected, no?

Take a bite!


Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Celebrating Harvest

January must be special. Not only does it herald a new year as per the Western calendar, it also brings cheer on the faces of farmers across many Indian states, mostly coastal. For this is the harvest season for paddy. In the middle of the month, farming communities in many states along India’s coastline celebrate the fruits of their labour, quite literally. These include states from Eastern, Western, and Southern India.

I have my roots in the Eastern Indian state of Bengal, and although I was born and bred in a city, I grew up hearing tales from my grandma about how she and her siblings would celebrate poush sankranti (as the festival is known in Bengal). She would tell me of the special types of desserts, called pithey and puli in Bengali, the older womenfolk of the house prepared to celebrate sankranti. The same desserts which titti (that’s what I used to call my granny) made with loving care for us. Patishapta pithey (rolled pancake stuffed with milk and coconut filling), shajer pithey (pancake steamed in moulds), gokul pithey (coconut pastry, dipped in flour, fried and dipped in sugar syrup), ranga alur puli (fried sweet potato dessert) , muger puli (made of moong dal or yellow moong lentil)…Notably, most of the preparations use the harvest produce—rice, coconut, date palm juice and jaggery.

Food is vital to our sustenance, and a good harvest is always reason for joyous celebrations. And so even in urban India, and indeed in Indian households across the world, the traditions are still honoured and these delicious specialty sankranti items prepared with reverence and joy.

Patishapta pithey
is a personal favourite of mine and I am glad I can share the recipe with you. It does require a bit of home grown skill, but don’t let that daunt you. With a bit of practice and a lot of passion, you can master the craft of making this wonderful sweet dish.

Patishapta pithey


I For patishapta batter:

Flour: 4 cups
Rice flour: 2 cups
Milk: ½ litre
Sugar: ½ cup

II For Filling:

Milk 1 litre
Coconut: 1 freshly grated
Sugar: 4-5 tablespoons

To make the filling:

Bring the milk to boil. Add the sugar and coconut and reduce the milk to about one fourth the quantity. Now add the raisins and stir some. Keep aside for cooling. The filling should be dry.


1. Make a batter using ingredients of I. The batter should be smooth, of an even consistency, neither too thick nor too thin.
2. Grease a griddle or tawa with a drop of oil. Swirl the griddle around for the oil to spread.
3. Spread 2 tablespoons of the batter on the griddle and swirl the griddle again to spread the batter evenly.
4. When the patishapta starts browning a bit around the edges, place a teaspoonful of the filling lengthwise at one end.
5. Fold the patishapta with the filling carefully from one end to the other.
6. Remove from griddle.
7. Serve hot or cold—it tastes equally delightful. Although when hot, the pithey has a softer texture and tastes just heavenly.

A slice of tradition; a moment to celebrate the tremendous hard work farmers put in round the year to bring us the food we so take for granted. Hats off to all those sons of the soil!


Sunday, January 15, 2006

Simple is Beautiful

This weekend, I am returning to Weekend Herb Blogging (WHB), hosted by Kalyn. For my second entry into this very fun and informative event, I brought a vegetable that I doubt is scarce or rare anywhere. On the contrary, it is very popular across different cultures. Yes, bunnies love it and a lot of humans too. Carrot, it is.

One reason I like the WHB concept so much is the amount of fun learning it brings with itself. Before I decided to write this entry, I didn’t know there were two categories of carrots – Eastern and Western. Neither did I know that this root vegetable was first cultivated in Afghanistan and brought to the Mediterranean some 2000 years ago. My knowledge of the red/orange root was limited to the fact that it was great for your eyes. It sure is, but this sweet vegetable packs quite a few surprises within its slender frame. Health benefits of carrots include boosting immunity, reducing the risk of heart ailments and high blood pressure, healing wounds, cleansing the liver, fighting infection, and improving muscle and skin health. To learn more on this very edible and nutritious veggie, read this article at the Carrot Museum and this one at Wiki.

The recipe I have using carrot is extremely simple, easy to cook, and wonderful in taste. I learned it quite by accident, while watching Madhur Jaffrey’s “Flavours of India” on Discovery Travel & Living. This particular episode featured her traveling to the Western Indian state of Gujarat, which is predominantly vegetarian.

I cooked the carrot dish with a slight variation (by adding just one new ingredient), and was delighted at the result. I don’t know the traditional/regional name for this dish, so calling all Gujarati readers out there to help me with that! For now, we can just call it carrots stir fried with green chilly. Just as simple and unassuming as it sounds, trust me.

Carrots Stir Fried with Green Chilli:


Carrots- 4-6, Julienned
Green chillies- 3-4, slit in the middle
Mustard seeds – ½ teaspoon
Curry Leaves (my added ingredient) – 1 sprig
Lime - 1
Oil for frying-- 1 ½ tablespoon


1. Wash the carrots, chillies and curry leaves and drain excess water off carrots.
2. Heat oil in a skillet and drop the mustard seeds.
3. When the seeds splutter, add the carrots, chillies, and curry leaves. Mix in nicely.
4. Cook till the water from carrot dries out and they turn tender.
5. Add the lime juice and salt and stir for some more time.
6. Serve hot with chapatti, parantha, bread or as a side dish to rice.

As simple as it is to make, this dish tastes great. The sweetness of the carrots and the tanginess of lime juice blend in perfectly with the mustard seed and curry leaves flavour. It was a huge hit at our home.

Here’s hoping you like it as much as I did :)


PS: Kalyn’s blog is also in contention for the Best of Blogs award. You could find the link to vote on her blog. Here’s wishing all the best to you, Kalyn!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Alfajores - Redux

A while back I posted about a typical dessert from my city called "Alfajores". You might remember them, those "cookie sanwiches" with blancmange and lots of powdered sugar on top. Well a few people have asked me to post the actual recipe to make these and, although it has taken me a while (blush) I finally have it here.

There are many ways to make these. The recipe I bring is a very tasty one with a slight modification, it includes some grated lemon skin which wil give the alfajores a very discreet, very nice taste. However, the star of this recipe, and the key to making great alfajores, is a special kind of flour we call maicena. Maicena, also known as cornflour or corn starch (fécula de maiz) is a very sticky bright white powder which will give the alfajores a cream/yellow color and a very unique texture (softer than a cookie but solid enough not to crumble).

So, let's do it :)


1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup cornflour
2 teaspoons baking powder
100grms. margarine
1/4 cup powder sugar
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon grated lemon skin
shredded coconut


1. Sift flour, cornflour and baking powder together.
2. Beat margarine with powdered sugar until the mix has a creamy texture.
3. Add yolks, one by one, and little by little add the fine ingredients (from step one) and the grated lemon skin.
4. Make a ball of this dough and let it rest for 20 minutes (TIP: Don't leave the dough inside the mixer's glass recipient, better leave it on a table)
5. Scatter some flour on a flat surface and using a rolling pin work on the dough until it is 1/2cm (about a fifth of an inch) thick. Then cut circles of 5cm diameter (2 inches).
6. Bake the circles until they are not quite brown. Let them cool down completely. Once they are cold, make little sandwiches with blancmange (manjarblanco). Learn how to prepare it here.
7. You can seal the edges with blancmange and then roll the alfajor over shredded coconut.

So there it is, try them and let me know how it went :D Enjoy!!


Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Eid Mubarak!

The lovely Eid moon, captured from a certain New Delhi terrace.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Pasta with red sauce

Hey there everyone!

Hoping you all had great holidays. With all the xmas and new year's craze, I wasn't able to bring my last dish in the series of my pasta posts, but don't think I forgot :)

This one might be the easiest of the lot. It's a simple dish of pasta with red sauce, but the secret to this sauce is in the flavor. This one is a bit spicier than the usual.

For this dish, you will need a few things. First of all, see if you can get elbow-shaped pasta. However if you can't, no problem, it goes great with elbows, fussili, tubes or even simple spaghetti.

Next, you need to get spaghetti sauce, which will be used as a base. In Peru we call this sauce "Tuco" and it's made by the people in Maggi/Nestle. It's a salty red sauce with little chunks of meat. I imagine you can use Ragu or something similar.

So, let's get to it :D


1/2 kg. pasta (elbow-shaped preferred)
3 liters water with 4 spoons of salt
2 tins of Tuco (spaghetti sauce) - each tin is about 250gr
1/2 cup Ketchup
1 chopped aji
3 chopped garlic cloves
1 tablespoon oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup water
salt to taste


-Boil the pasta in the 3 liters of water. The usual procedure. Then rinse.

-In a pot put the spaghetti sauce (tuco), oil, ketchup, parsley, garlic, aji, water (the 1/2 cup), salt and heat until it boils.

- Serve the pasta with this sauce. Spread a generous amount of parmesan cheese.

Voilá. You should get something that looks like this (you can see I used both elbows and tubes):

Hope you enjoyed these pasta dishes I've been sharing with you. These are some of my favorite. Try them at home and be sure to let us know how it went :)

Bon apettit !


Friday, January 06, 2006


As I peeked into the inbox for this blog, a sweet email smiled back. It said,


Our editors have selected your newsfeed to be featured in one of our Top 10 Sources sites. You can view the site that features your feeds by clicking here.


The site's About page says:

"At Top 10 Sources, we publish a daily "Top 10" site of the best newsfeeds on the Internet. Each day, our team of editors picks a topic.

Then, we find the ten best sources on the Net on that topic that offer newsfeeds- whether they're blogs, mainstream media, or anybody else publishing great stuff online. We subscribe to their RSS feeds and present them to you in a fresh, new site using our aggregator technology."

Aren't we honoured? It sure feels good to get surprises like that and share the virtual stage with 9 other phenomenal Indian food blogs. Do check the link to see all of them!

And lest I forget, thanks to the Top 10 Sources editors :)


Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The chill is biting...

and the weatherman says, this is going to be one of the severest winters hitting Delhi. That became evident no sooner than the new year rolled in. The sun playing hooky far too often, steely cold waves, and even a light drizzle earlier this week--winter has started showing its harsh face to us.

All you want to have in such a season is something hot. If it's also fried and crispy, would you complain? I certainly wouldn't. And so I made this little wintry treat to bite off the chill with mugfuls of hot chai to accompany it. Egg lovers, do join me for this savoury indulgence. It can be made in minutes, so let's get frying!

Egg Pakoda


Eggs - 4-5, hard boiled, mashed
Potato - 2 medium sized, boiled and mashed
Bread slcies - 3-4
Onion - 1 medium sized, chopped fine
Garlic - 4-6 cloves, chopped fine
Green chilli - 2-3, chopped (or more if you want it hotter)
Tomato ketchup - 1 tablespoon
Green chilli sauce - 1 tablespoon
Mustard powder - 1 tablespoon
Salt, pepper
Bread crumbs
Oil for frying


1. Bind all the ingredients except bread crumbs and oil. Make a tight dough.
2. Take a small portion into your palms and give it a shape of your choice.
3. Cover the pakora with bread crumbs
4. Heat oil in a skillet/frying pan and fry the pakoras.
5. Serve with kecthup/salad.

We had them with ginger pickle and the combination was perfect. This is certainly something I will be making more this winter. The dipping mercury is commanding me to, after all!

I hope you like it too :)


Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year!

May this year be filled with mirth, love, and peace for planet earth. May this be the year when wealth, care, and food are distributed wisely :)