Monday, October 09, 2017

Mithai Kandie - A Diwali Special Gift Idea from Nordic Kandie and me!

In keeping with all the Mithai conversations, this blogpost is to share the news of a sweet little collaboration between Thea of Nordic Kandie and me. A limited edition box of Indian Mithai inspired Scandinavian confections. But before I tell you about #MithaiKandie, let me tell you about Thea and her company Nordic Kandie. 

Every culture celebrates festivities with sweets. India being possibly the most prolific in this aspect with mithai being an integral part of our cultural fabric… But I digress. As I was saying, every culinary tradition has special sweets. In Estonia, it is marzipan, a confection of almonds and sugar that is one of the oldest sweets made in Estonia. In fact it has been taken to an art form by Estonian confectioners over the centuries. 
Thea Tammeleht is the 6th generation of the Tammeleht family of Scandinavia who have inherited a historical marzipan recipe, passed down through generations. The family had never thought to do anything with the recipe until she married her Indian husband Thomas who came up with the idea of a confectionary business. And it was a no brainer, really. Historically marzipan was an indulgence for European royalty using the finest almonds. But fine confections of nuts and sugar have been a favourite of discerning Indians throughout the ages as well. Our love of Kaju Katli, Badam Barfi and Pista Rolls are testament to this. So marzipan were bound to be loved! They launched Nordic Kandia Magic in India in February 2014 with a line of gourmet luxury marzipan. Their marzipans, made with specially imported raw materials like mamra almonds from Iran, Belgian chocolate and certified edible gold and silver from Italy did very well and they quickly added Belgian Brews chocolates. (these are Belgian chocolate covered croquant).

I had first noticed them back in 2014 when they showcased their products at the UpperCrust show. And even then I remember mentally making the connect with Kaju Katli and Pista Rolls. So it won’t come as a surprise that I was extremely excited to collaborate on a box of Indian inspired marzipans and chocolates when I was approached with the idea. I met Thea and spent time with her till I understood the process of making the marzipans and belgian brews. I was mindful that I was bringing two culinary traditions together and I had to do it with respect for both. But that said it was fun! I did made a few rounds of mithai stores, had to do a lot of research… Oh my GOD it was so tough to eat all that sweet stuff… NOT!!! 

And it did not help that Thea was on a diet and refused to taste (the lady has some fab control!) Much trial, error and more tasting later, we finally put together a selection of 8 flavours inspired by much loved mithais with a twist of spice here and there. When you have a great product to start with, it is bound to work out fabulously, all we now needed was a little sparkle and bling and we were set! So without further ado, let me take you through our collection of lovely handmade confections that bring together the best of two fine culinary traditions and the talent and skills of Thea and myself. Watch a video of the unboxing of the #MithaiKandie box

And here are the flavours!

Rose Pistachio Belgian Brew: ​An indulgent combination of decadent pistachio ​croquant ​and aromatic gulkand dipped in ​green ​tinted white chocolate and​ finished with pistachios slivers.
Kali Mirch Berry Belgian Brew: Berry croquant sandwiched with pepper infused, slightly salted, white chocolate ganache then dipped in ​red tinted ​white chocolate​ and sprinkled with edible glitter​.
Chai Spiced Caramel Belgian Brew: Caramel croquant sandwiched with chai ​infused ganache. Dipped in ​dark chocolate and finished with edible gold.
Cassata Belgian Brew: inspired by the legendary much loved ice cream, this has 3 layers of croquant - berry, pistachio and caramel and the whole is dipped in white chocolate and kissed with the bling of silver dust. 
Saffron Cardamom Marzipan: Because no festive occasion is complete without the scent of saffron... this marzipan ​is enriched with cashew and raisins​ aromatic of saffron and cardamom​, dipped in golden chocolate and finished with gold dust and pure saffron​.
Kaju Kismis Marzipan: ​Cinnamon scented ​marzipan enriched ​with cashews and raisins and​ finished in in swirls of dark and white chocolate. 
Mango Motichoor Marzipan: ​Inspired by the quintessential motichoor laddus in form, ​this marzipan ​pops with the flavour of aam papad and a hint of salt. 
Pista Roll Marzipan: A departure from our usual marzipans, this one is inspired by the much loved pista roll, with a green pistachio croquant, wrapped in white marzipan. Coated in white chocolate, ​dusted with pistachio ​and ​gilded with ​edible ​silver​.​

I have really had a lot of fun putting these together. And I must admit i do love them myself! Not because I have made them, but because they are a little less sweet than mithai itself, without losing on the aromas and flavours. 

To Order 
The #MithaiKandie special edition box from the Nordic Kandie is priced at Rs. 1000 + taxes. 
You can pick it up from their Mumbai store (Shop #1, Vasant Villa, 3 Peddar Road, Kemps Corner, Mumbai 400036. They are open all days from 10:00 am until  9.00 pm) OR phone/WhatsApp: +91 76661 22211. In Delhi call +91 – 9999709700 for appointments. Website, e-mail: and head office phone/WhatsApp: +91 96996 41112

Mark #LadduDay and World Food Day by distributing Laad Ke Laddu to address hunger and Malnutrition

I am a little late on this one! Between all the stuff that we had happening for Chutney day and preparing for the upcoming festive season, its been a bit crazy. BUT we have all been so enthusiastic about celebrating the food observance days until now, i am hoping the subject of the next one will charm you into joining me in spite of the delay in announcing it. 

Because the next day we are celebrating is one that is close to each of our hearts. #LadduDay! 

‘Laddu Batna’ (distributing laddus) is a given at any happy occasion. But Laddus are not just a mithai. They are special. I like to think of them as the Indian equivalent of the cookies that moms and grandmoms make for their kids in the west. In fact, when you think about it, the very name, Laddu derives from the word ‘laad,’ meaning love. Made by grandmothers and mothers for those they care about, these traditional treats have been in existence from time immemorial. And always embodied caring. Which is why this time I have a different request. Lets make Laddu Day count event more.

At a round table on malnutrition organised by Idoboro that I was part of recently, I gained many insights on the serious issue of malnutrition and the inadequacy of the food packets that are distributed in areas affected by it. I came away trying to figure out what we could do to address this? And then it struck me. Laddus! What makes Laddus REALLY special is the deeper purpose behind them that we have forgotten or are not cognizant of. Laddus were not just treats, traditionally they had a larger purpose as well. They were little power packed parcels of nutrition, full of the goodness of healthy ingredients like jaggery, ghee, flours, nuts and dry fruit. From warming calcium rich til and energy dense atta laddus, to protein packed Maghaz or Besan Laddu and bone strengthening Dink or Gond Laddus given to lactating mothers, laddus have always fortified diets, imparted medicine and supplemented meals. 

So this Laddu Day I have a request. Let us do all the things we did for past food observance days, make, learn and document traditional recipes. But let us make the purpose of this Laddu day bigger by doing one more thing. Many of you will give away food to the less fortunate around Diwali. Instead of outsourcing food parcels, could you consider giving away Laddus? Make them, outsource them to NGOs that make traditional foods and give them away. They are a cost effective, extremely simple and logical solution to addressing malnutrition. Which is also important in the context of World Food Day being observed globally on 16th October 2017. One of the themes this year is to invest in food security and solve the issue of world hunger. The classic, wholesome, long lasting (if made to) laddu addresses so many fundamental issues; hunger, particularly among malnourished children and women, sustainability by using local ingredients which will in turn support our farmers and aligns perfectly with the theme. 

Distributing Laad ke Laddu. 
This #LadduDay my team at APB Cook Studio and I have pledged to make and distribute packets of Laad ke Laddu in underprivileged areas of Mumbai. Towards this goal, I have brought together my students from the certified ‘Food and Nutrition’ course’ at Sophia Centre for Women’s Studies and Development where I lecture to create laddus that address the specific nutritional requirements in children. Using these and with the help of the food community, chef friends, food bloggers and Good Samaritans who will come together at the studio on the 13th and 14th, we aim to make 200 packets of laddus. The aim is to distribute these  nutritionally fortified laddus in underprivileged areas of Mumbai on 15 Oct which is #LadduDay with the help of Robin Hood Army. We could do with all the help we can get, so if you would like to volunteer and join us, please call us on 022-42152799 or email us at 

Also if you are not in Mumbai, or cannot get to the studio, do the same thing in your area or your city. Friends in food communities all over India are coming together to do this in other cities too. Why don't you?.

And since it is Diwali and we are all making sweets, lets also document recipes if we can. There are of course, thousands of laddu varieties in India but every home has a favourite, special laddu. With Diwali around the corner, celebrate the culinary diversity of India. You could also do any of the following to celebrate #LadduDay.  I am listing all the other things you can do for ​#LadduDay below, but if you do nothing else, please do make and distribute as many or as little Laad ke Laddu on the 15th! 

1. Document your family’s signature laddu by making it and sharing it. 
2. Learn to make a new laddu from another community of India.
3. Organise a laddu exchange!
4. Can't make laddus? Do the next best thing; eat them. How hard is that?
5. Share pictures, videos or stories and memories of your favourite laddu on Facebook, Twitter,
Instagram or WhatsApp.
6. Chefs, restaurants and food outlets can run #LadduDay specials by serving or making unusual
7. Eat, make, gift or write about laddus but whatever you do, remember to share the same using
the hashtag #LadduDay.

Read more about world food day

Kuch Meetha ho Jaaye...? On Mithai (Indian sweets) and their Importance in our Culinary DNA

From the Halwai breakfast spread at Suryagarh. 


First of all, abject apologies for any narcissim  he above picture exhibits (hopefully my happy face makes up for it!) This is a picture from the Halwai breakfast spread at Suryagarh. The property has an in house halwai whose creations use local ingredients and culinary know-how. And they sweeten one's whole stay, from in-room amenities, at breakfast, for post meal desserts and as nightly pillow gifts,. It was one of my favourite discoveries from my visit and it made me fall in love with the property even more.  As easy as it sounds, it takes a lot for a hospitality brand to invest in local food and promote it. And I really respect their commitment to this aspect. This picture also sums up everything about Mithai, the variety, and the Indian love for it (as embodied by my expression!) 

Now for some serious sweet talk! Stay with me through October and November as I explore the sweetest aspects of Indian Cuisine…. sharing history, recipes and more! And please do join in the conversations! Leave a comment on your favourite mithais or even what you would like to see in this time about mithais? 

Kuch Meetha ho Jaaye...? On Mithai (Indian sweets) and their Importance in our Culinary DNA

Diwali is here! And for anyone with a sweet tooth, it’s the perfect time to be in India. Diwali (also known as Divali or Deepavali and the Indian festival of lights) is a Hindu festival but is celebrated by everyone. And it is extravagant, as all festivals are, full of colour, light, celebration and mithai!  

‘Mithai’ meaning sweet confection, itself derives from the word ‘meetha’ which means sweet; the taste on the tongue, classified as one of the six tastes (or rasas) by Ayurveda. The word meetha is also commonly used to classify Indian sweets and puddings. But nomenclature aside, meetha or mithai has huge significance in India and encompasses a wide spectrum of sweet offerings, from homemade kheers, laddus, halwas to more exotic offerings sourced from sweet makers called halwais or mithaiwalle.

“…Kuch meetha ho jaye?" asked Amitabh Bachchan in an advertisement, promoting chocolate a few years ago. I found the use of this oft-used phase so clever! Because it so tidily summed up the collective Indian attitude to sweets and put chocolate squarely in the running with traditional mithai. Loosely translated the phrase means “the occasion calls for sweets” but encompasses so much more! In India … kuch meetha ho jaaye is a part of our collective psyche! We do not need too much of a reason to “mooh meetha karo” (sweeten the mouth) but Diwali perhaps the biggest celebration in the country, gives us the biggest reason. So get ready for a mithai extravaganza!

Mithai have a standing at every moment. Perhaps because the sweet taste is the first taste we perceive, sweetening the mouth, our thoughts and the environment is considered important at the start of any endeavor. In the form of the simple dahi – cheeni (sugar stirred into natural yoghurt) proffered to those leaving for an important task like an exam or an interview, or as best wishes for a journey. As laddus, they embody the care of mothers or grandmothers. As halwas or other home-made sweets, they are a means of celebrating and sharing joy that overcomes all barriers of caste, creed or religion. Distributed whenever an occasion presents itself, whatever it may be… from guests at dinner, to milestones of life; success in exams, a new car or home. Weddings are arranged with “ab toh mu meetha kijiye” (celebrate with a bite of something sweet), the birth of a child will have laddus being distributed. A salary raise or promotion will have an individual bring home a box of sweets. And a box of mithai is deemed the most appropriate gift to present when calling on friends and family because even routine social calls are never made empty handed in India. And if you are on the other side, the housewife caught out by a surprise guest, misri (larger bits of plain sugar or gud (jaggery) will do in a pinch, but there will always be some form of mithai to offer guests in the home – usually secreted away from little hands…

And there is no compromise on the quality of the mithai. A philosophy that probably stems from the fact that underlying the celebratory properties of Indian sweets is their use as prasad, or offerings to the Gods in religious ritual. Mithais make perfect offerings to place before god, and each of the gods in our pantheon have their own favourites. In fact that is probably why mithaiwallas build legendary reputations on the basis of asli ghee and the purity of ingredients! The most famous of these divine addictions is that of the genial Elephant god, Lord Ganesha to the modak; pyramids of rice flour stuffed with coconut and sugar. Not only do gods have their favorites but most religious occasions will call for a special preparation or the other. Sankrant, the festival celebrating the advent of spring for example; on this day sweets made with sesame, laddus, chikkis (brittle) or halwas make their presence felt in various parts of the Country. Similarly, gujiya for Holi, patashs and khilone (sugar toys) at Diwali, marse ke laddu on Shivratri, phirni for Ramzaan, sevaiyaan for Eid, we even have special laddus and mithais for fasting days like makhana kheer, kaddu ka halwa and more!

To classify things with a very broad brush, Laddus, Halwas, and Kheers are the mainstay of home kitchens, typically put together with ingredients that are easily sourced and needing very little skill. More elaborate mithais are the premise of Mithaiwallas. halwas laddus and kheers all go back to the origins of Indian cuisine.

Halwa garnished with slivers of Almonds
It is speculated, that halwas may have Arabic origins. These dense, sticky confections that would be equivalent to puddings, are typically made from one prominent ingredient like a flour, lentil, fruit, nut or vegetable, cooked with ghee (clarified butter) and a sweetener like jaggery or sugar. Usually served hot, they are much loved comfort foods. Which is why come winter and one looks forward to sweet desi carrots and gajjar (carrot) halwa made from them. And heavy monsoon rains will often have my husband remembering atte ka halwa (halwa made from unbleached flour) that his mother makes. Halwas can range from simple flour, semolina or variations made with vegetables like carrot and doodhi (white gourd). Different variations of these are made through the year, based on seasons and availability of ingredients. More exotic offerings include beetroot, akhrot (walnut) badam (almond), pyaaz (onion). I have also had the good fortune of tasting a very interesting (name not withstanding) ghosht halwa made by Osama Jalali. It was subtle, not at all meaty and quite delicious!

My Nani always advised giving my kids a couple of these Maghaz laddus
with a glass of milk when they were fussy about eating. Laddus were a way
to supplement diets. 
Had a kid, passed an exam, bought a car? Well ‘laddu batna’ (distributing laddus) is a given. If halwas are the Indian equivalent of puddings then laddus are that of cookies. But laddus not just any mithai. They are special. With their very name stemming from the word ‘laad’ meaning love, Laddus are the physical manifestation of maternal love, made by grandmothers and mothers for those they care about. These traditional foods have been in existence from ancient times, first documented mentions appear in the Mahabharat and Sushruta Samhita. And here is what makes them REALLY special. Laddus had a deeper purpose. They have traditionally been little power packed parcels of nutrition, full of the goodness of healthy ingredients like jaggery, ghee, flours, nuts and dry fruit. From the warming tils and atta laddus made in winter to the protein packed maghaz or besan laddu our grandmothers fed us to the bone strengthening dink or gond laddus that are given to lactating mothers, laddus fortify diets, impart medicine and supplement meals. And carefully shaped and packed, embossed with impressions of fingers and hands, they tell a very special story of love… home made with ghar ka ghee, lots of patience and love.

Garhwali Jhangore ki Kheer
Dairy based sweets are the third category of homemade desserts. Milk and dairy products like cream, paneer, chenna, khoya and yogurt all play a huge part in the Indian diet and as a result, we have a vast variety of dairy based sweets in our repertoire. The simplest would perhaps be milk kheer, the Indian version of rice pudding. This basic concept of rice, milk and sugar cooked to a pudding consistency makes its appearance all over the country, Kheer as it is known in the morth, is doodhpak in Gujarat, payesh in Bengal and payasam in South India. When it is made with soaked, coarsely ground rice it becomes the delicate phirni redolent of rosewater. Kheer also has many variations with the rice being substituted with other cereals like sago, millets and grains, seeds like lotus and even vermicelli, pulses and more.

Bal Mithai from Uttarakhand is made of Khoya. 
Dairy based sweets also include variations made with other forms of milk, such as reduced milk rabri, eaten as it is or topping other sweets, rabri and imartee are a marriage made in heaven, for example. Rabri is also the base for Kulfi Indian ice cream. Milk cooked down till it is solid results in khoya, an ingredient used to enrich many dishes including sweets. Simple khoya sweetened and flavored is used to make a host of mithais like laddus, burfi and peda. Sweetened khoya enriched with nuts could be used to stuff other things like the little fried half – circle shaped puff pastry sweets variously called gujiya in the North, ghughra in Gujarat and karanjee in Maharashtra. Split milk results in another fabulous ingredient, paneer and its Bengali avatar chenna that is made into sandesh. Yoghurt is also used to make a repertoire of light, addictive sweets like srikhand (cardamom infused sweet yoghurt) which is much loved in Gujarat and Maharashtra and the addictive misti doi (milk sweetened with jaggery and set in earthenware) made in Bengal. 

Homemade sweets hold a special space for Indians, but mithawalla’s dabbas are not too far behind! Over generations Indian sweets have crossed community and state boundaries to be embraced throughout India and our mithai shops are testament to this. Enter one and you will find options from dry to syrupy, that will boggle your mind in all their technicolor glory! Available for your selection are legions of dry mithai variations. From khoya based pedas and barfis to marzipan like nut based pista rolls, kaju katli, and a variety of their brethren. From dry fruit based anjeer rolls, date bites to pastry based balushahi, gujiya and so many more, all in a mind boggling array of sweetness! And at the syrupy end of the spectrum you will find syrup soaked options like gulab jamuns (reduced milk balls soaked in thick sugar syrup), rosso gullas (chenna balls in light sugar syrup). A happy marriage of rasgullas and rabri is the ras malai in which flattened rasgullas are soaked in rabri. Another positively delicious variation is cham cham, an oval shaped denser version of rasgulla soaked in syrup that becomes a malai sandwich when a generous slather of sweetened cream is sandwiched between two cham chams. Other syrup soaked sweets include the squiggly jalebi and imartee.

A true mithai connoisseur can map India by sweets alone! As Sadashiv Amrapurkar’s character shows us in the movie Hum Saath Saath Hai with his penchant of arriving in every scene with legendary mithai from all over the country. (Watch it again and take notes, you will have a checklist for a sweet-sweet journey across India!) Uttarakhand ki Bal Mithai, Amritsari Pinni, Agre ka Petha, Mathura ka Peda, Lonavala fudge, Laksar ki Jalebi, Mysore Pak from Karnataka. Travel from Kashmir in the north to Kanyakumari at the southernmost tip, from Gujarat in the west to Arunachal Pradesh in the east and you will find local sweets in every part of India. Of course most of the popular sweets are ones that are found at stations along the main train lines. There is lots more to explore when you go into cities, bazaars and actual homes. And like the confectioners and chocolatiers, patisseries and bakers of the west, Indian mithaiwallas also hold cult status!

Indian mithai makers, be it in homes or bazaars, create a vast range of magical offerings from a surprisingly small handful of easily found core ingredients: sugar, clarified butter (ghee), milk, flour from grains, nuts cereals or pulses, seasonal vegetables and fruit, rice or wheat. To these may be added nuts to enrich and sweet spices like rose, fennel, cardamom and saffron. Other locally available ingredients too could come in creating even more nuances but one thing is for sure, only the finest ingredients go into Mithai, as it is the belief that a generous use of the best ingredients will result in superlative offering to share on happy occasions. And that is where the brilliance of Indian mithai is!

This is a joyous time in India. All over the country Indian sweet makers, or halwais, have been busy gearing up for their peak season. A period of feasting, socializing and sweets, sweets and only sweets! Toh chalo…. Kuch meetha ho jaaye?

Saturday, September 23, 2017

About Green Garlic and a mouth watering Green Garlic Chutney for #ChutneyDay 2017

Green Garlic and a mouth watering Green Garlic Chutney 

The first sign winter is coming at my table is the appearance of green garlic, leela lehsun, leelu lasun or lilva (depending on which community you belong to). And that time is almost here , to the absolute joy of all who know me, because come Green Garlic season and I make this simple Chutney by the kilo for Team apb and a whole bunch of frends and family. 

Green garlic is a culinary treat that does not receive its due recognition. Mince it raw and add as a garnish to salads, soups and stir-fries, pound into a paste with pine nuts to make a green garlic pesto or stir the paste into Mayonnaise to make green-garlic aioli. Steam or poach the green stem in chicken stock and puree to add to soups, savoury custards or soufflés. Chop fine, sauté and add to eggs in all forms. 

Garlic is believed to have originated in either India or larger Asia and has been a part of Asian cuisines for millennia. Green garlic or Garlic chives are very young, tender versions of the garlic we all know and love. They are picked really early, long, long before they grow into bulbs, divide into separate cloves, are harvested and dried. Green Garlic looks a lot like a tiny green onion. A tender single clove with a bunch of hairy threadlike roots at one end and a couple of long grass like green leaves at the other. When using in cooking, typically the roots are trimmed off and discarded and both the white and green utilized, with any yellowing tips discarded. Green garlic has a softer flavour profile than the mature garlic bulb. While it can be used anywhere you'd use regular garlic, its flavour profile really comes into its own in recipes that highlight its less intense, far more verdant flavour that is a result of its green shoots. Really Green Garlic is best when minimally cooked. 

Interestingly Green garlic features in the winter cuisines of both sides of my family. In the Gujarati cuisine I grew up with it is celebrated it in a variety of ways including as the main flavour in the legendary Undhiyu. In the Garhwali cuisine of my marital home it features as a condiment to spice up winter chaats and an earthy millet porridge called Jhangora or Paleu. 

Green garlic has been part of the Indian culinary scape for eons but it can add fantastic new twists to some traditional dishes. Stir it finely chopped into Rasams and shorbas. Add to flour when making dough for rotis or parathas. Pound into paste and stir into raitas and Idli batters. Chop fine and sauté large batches, then crack eggs over to make a Parsi cuisine inspired ‘Lilva per eedu’. 

There are so many ways to love green garlic! Here are my two favourites. Pahaadi Namak is a gloriously fragrant condiment from Garhwal in which green garlic is pounded with salt and green chillies to a coarse paste. Left to itself it slowly dries out into a powder that is fantastic sprinkled on anything! The other is my signature Green Garlic Chutney; coarsely chop up 2-3 bunches of garlic and a handful of chillies, heat 2 tbsp of fat of choice; oil, ghee, which is better or bacon fat (which works event better). Add the chillies and stir fry till white blisters appear on them. Add the garlic and stirfry till wilted, shiny and bright green. Add salt generously and mix well. Put in a bottle and use to liven up anything from kichdi to dal rice and even pasta! 

Green Garlic Chutney
This is a simple chutney made in my Gujarati ancestral home kitchen. Beautiful Green Garlic is punchy and the green chilli and salt zing it up. I have modified it slightly to intensify flavours. Its perfect with Dal Rice
2-3 Bunches Green Garlic
Handfull of cillies
2 tbsp of ghee/oil
1 tbsp salt (or to taste)

Heat the ghee or oil, add the chillies and stir fry till white blisters appear on them. Add the garlic and stir-fry till wilted, shiny and bright green. Add salt generously and mix well. Put in a bottle and use to liven up anything from kichdi to dal rice and even pasta!

My Green Garlic Chutney in all its glory!

This is Recipe 2 pf my #PledgeARecipe for #ChutneyDay 
 Check out Recipe 1 - A video of Bhune Tamatar ki Chutney on my Facebook Page.

Garhwali Til Ki Chutney for #ChutneyDay 2017



This chutney is mainly prepared during winters and is great with toor dal and steamed rice or with Gahat Ke Paranthe. It can also be used as a dip for various snacks. This chutney is usually made with “bade nimbu” large lemons that people normally have growing in their kitchen garden. They are quite huge, so one is generally enough, but can be substituted by the other normal ones. Til chutney is more common in Garhwal but Bhang chutney is made in Kumaon. It can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks.


200 gm sesame seeds a handful of coriander leaves
2-3 garlic cloves (optional)
1-inch piece of ginger
2-3 green chilies
juice of 1 bada nimbu or big lemon or ¾ cup juice of small lemons
½ tsp sugar (optional)
a handful of mint leaves
1 tsp roasted cumin (optional)
salt to taste

Dry roast sesame seeds in a pan on a moderate flame for 4-5 minutes. Take care not to overdo it. Once done place in a grinder with coriander leaves, garlic cloves and green chilies. Add lemon juice and grind to a fine paste. Adjust salt and sugar. 

Note - A variation of this recipe is the Mooli and Til Chutney. Cut a couple of moolis into finger - length sticks and leave them under a fan to dry for a couple of hours. Then add them to the chutney with chillies cut in half-lengthwise.

Friday, September 08, 2017

A call to action! Pledge a recipe for #ChutneyDay on Sept 24, 2017 - Lets make it awesome!

Its time for me to start bugging everyone for another Indian Food observance day! 

Thank you for all the support got all the Indian food observance days so far, from #AamAchaarDay to #PapadBadiDay #MasalaDay, #PulaoBiryaniDay to #ChaiPakodaDay (more on that on my post on Indian Food Observance Days ). With each food observance day, more and more people have joined the call to action, and together we have grown, learned and shared more and more. And now I am sending out a message so all of us can get together to celebrate #ChutneyDay on 24th September 2017. And this time I have a goal. I want us to collectively target to document 250 chutneys. 

250 should not be difficult at all for us. After all we live in a country where we probably have thousands of chutneys. In fact, more accurate to say, perhaps would be that we have a chutney (or three!) for every Indian cook or chef! Because every cuisine, home and dialect has favourite, special chutneys. So, my dear Indian Food community, lets get to work! Please talk to mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, all those expert cooks in our homes, pull out those family recipe books, community cookbooks, scribbled notes, rack your brains for recipes and let us work together to document at least 250 chutneys of India by 24th September, 2017.

Ways to celebrate #ChutneyDay on 24 Sept 2017

Pledge a Recipe -  On Sunday, September 24, we plan to share 250 links to videos and blogposts on Chutney - collating memories, stories, pledged recipes and other interesting information on chutneys contributed by the food fraternity at large ( on blogposts or via videos on their channels). For this we are asking Chefs, food lovers, food bloggers, home chefs to create recipes posts, videos and blogposts and share the links to these with us by 21 September, so we can compile it all and share it on our larger #ChutneyDay plan. You could pledge a recipe (or more) too!  

Make Chutney! Food lovers, make your family’s signature recipe for Chutney, with your family, especially children! Make it, eat it, celebrate it, and if you can tell the world about, please do, with hashtag #ChutneyDay.

Host a #ChutneyDay Festival - If you are a chef, food outlet owner or a restaurateur, feature a special chutney encourage your customers to try it. Tell us about it on social media.

Host a #ChutneyDay Exchange - Get together with friends and family and do a #ChutneyDay exchange - get together with foodie friends, each of you make large batches of your signature chutney, meet up for chai and exchange signature chutneys with friends. Take home a bunch of new chutneys to brighten up your meals!

Whatever you choose to do, remember to use the hashtag #ChutneyDay on Sunday, 24th September 2017 and share what chutneys you are cooking, eating, your memories, recipes your family makes and stories about Chutneys.

Looking forward to a delicious #ChutneyDay with you. This one should be as easy as saying Chutney!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Fasting-Feasting. Understanding the concept of Shravan, Faraal and food eaten at this time

Fasting Feasting (The Concept of Shravan or the Fasting month as it is observed in India)

August, along with being the peak of the monsoon season will also bring with it the month of Shravana, the fifth month of the Hindu calendar that begins from Chaitra. Shravana is also the most auspicious month of the Hindu calender. On the Purnima or full moon day of this month and during the course of the month the star 'Shravan' rules the sky which is why the month is called Shravana. This month is full of innumerable religious festivals and ceremonies and almost all the days in this month are auspicious. The entire month of shravan is observed as one fasting, in which all tamasic or “heaty” foods are shunned, including non-vegetarian foods. This is mostly because digestion is considered sluggish during this season.

While fasting in some form or the other manifests itself in all religions the Hindu religion has various days of fasting throughout the year. For Hindus, fasting is also prompted by the seasons, time of day, and solar and lunar cycles. In this regard, fasting takes on an aspect of health as well by maintaining the body's equilibrium with that of the larger forces of life. Most festivals involve some form of fasting as well, which again goes some way in nullifying the excesses of celebratory feasting.
I remember as a child looking forward to my Grandmother’s fasting days. On those days she would sit apart from the rest of the family for her one meal of the day. We were not aware of the religious connotations of these days then. We just waited for her to be done so we would get to finish the leftovers. There were a host of “treats” we grew to love and look forward to at those times.

There was the deliciously textured Sabudana khichdi - soft globules of sago, steam-cooked to perfection so each particle was separate, with surprising chunks of savoury potato and bits of peanut that caught between your teeth to surprise you. As delicious and my personal favourite was the Morio. This is a dish made from a granular flour called Morio by the Gujaratis it is called Veru Arisi in Tamil. It was cooked like a khichdi in sour yogurt with potatoes and peanuts and seasoned with green chillies. It retained it’s grainy texture on cooking an the chunks of potatoes that were cooked with it absorbed the sourness of the yoghurt and he spiciness of the chillies most deliciously!

What we did not know then was that these things we looked forward to as treats actually had a religious connotation, that they were meant as a form of prayer and self-sacrifice in an attempt to get closer to God. The very word for fasting “Upvas” means to get closer to God. Fasing for eons now has been a penance, a process of purification, physical, emotional and mental, and is accompanied by pursuing good thoughts, good words and good deeds.

The original concept of fasting entailed a deviation from one’s normal lifestyle and devoting one’s day to introspection. The fasting person was supposed to distance himself from the trivia of day-to-day life and think only about God. As any worldly pleasure would distract him from this purpose, he was supposed to follow a simple routine. Hence, rich food was avoided and a simple diet was taken to sustain the body. The intention was neither to starve the body nor to indulge it.

Not only are there many days and reasons to fast in the Hindu Calender, there are also various fasts. At it’s simplest a fast merely entail avoidance of certain foods for a period of time. Meat eating Hindu factions might avoid meat or vegetarians might give up tamasic (heaty) foods. A more moderate fast might involve imbibing of only liquids. Fasting at it’s strictest would involve taking only water for a number of days and requires a cessation of most external activities. The essence of fasting is to eat simply and only enough to sustain oneself for the period of fasting.

The most prevalent method of fasting in the Hindu religion has been that of phal aahar. Charaka and Sushruta two of the major authors of the Ayurvedas classified edible plants into seperate groups and the Phala varga is that of fruit. The word Phala when combined with ahaar which means food or diet comes to mean a diet of fruit but over time it has grown to encompass in a larger sense all foods not raised with a plow or cultivated in contrast to “anna” or cultivated foods. This was the traditional diet ascribed to ascetics hermits and householders who were fasting.

What is 'allowed' during a fast and what is not is mostly a question of perspective but Foods such as grains, lentils, radish, onion, garlic, all salt other than rock salt, hing, red chilli, fenugreek, (methi seeds), jaggery, turmeric, mustard seeds, sesame, betel leaves, maize, rice in all forms, vegetable oil, any thing spoiled, or remaining from a prior meal are proscribed. They are believed to be either tamasic (heaty) and not to be consumed on the day of a fast.

Allowed foods include milk, and certain milk products like yogurt, butter milk, butter and ghee. Vegetables include some gourds like the Dudhi and Parval, Root vegetables like Potato, Suran, Ratalu Kand), Sweet Potato, Arbi and spices like the Green chilli, Coriander, ginger, Dried ginger, (sonth), Lemon, Fruit, Cumin, dried fruit and nuts, sago, (tapica, sabudana), rock salt, (sendha namak), sugar, rock sugar (misri), black pepper, clove, cardomom, rajgeera, coconut, peanut, Shingara, Buckwheat, Arrowroot. Whatever their origins, all of the items of it is harvested from existing sources rather than cultivated. In fact I recalled my grandmother used to source one kind of grain for fasting days. This intrigued me, as all grains cereals and pulses are prohibited on fasting days. On doing a little research I found out that a foodgrain called Shyamaka also known as Apasthamba WAS in fact allowed to ascetics. Just goes to show how innovative one can get in the search for flavor!

The Upvas meal that I recall, was a full Thali. , There was a Kadhi made of made up of Yoghurt thickened with Shingare ka atta or flour made from Water Chestnusts, The vegetable would usually be a spicy potato subzi, Pooris would be made from Rajgeera flour and in the place of rice there would be Samwat ke chaawal or Parsai ke chaawal. There would also be a Khandvi made from Shingare ka atta or a potato pattice stuffed with coconut and coriander or crushed peanut. Dessert would be a kheer made from Sweet potato, Shingare ka atta or Sabudana!

Glossary of Ingredients

Singhare ka Atta is flour made from Waterchestnuts. Water chestnuts have been a part of the culinary annals of India for eons. This flour qualifies as a fast ingredient because the Shigara occurs naturally and is harvested when in season. About 2/3 of the plant floats just beneath the water surface, with only its upper leaves floating on the surface, it has white flowers that submerge after pollination to facilitate fruit formation. The plant bears edible nuts in hard-shelled fruits which resemble the head of a water buffalo with two large curved horns hence the name Shingara and it is these nuts that are made into flour that is used as a staple during fasts, to make chapattis, paranthas, sweets vadas and also as a binder or thickening agent.

Morio, Veru Arisi, Vari che Tandul Sama or Khodri is a wild grain which is ground into flour. The seeds are sun-dried, then threshed to remove the husks. When roughly ground it is cooked like rice, in salted water. The fact that is found wild and harvested and also considered a 'cool' food makes it a viable choice ion fasting days.

Samwat ke chaawal or Parsai ke chaawal are tiny, white, round grains almost like a mini Saboodana. They do not separate on cooking but stay a bit soggy and can replace rice in any recipe.

Kootoo ka Atta is dark in color, but quite tasty and known rich in fibre. It is used in much the same way as the Singhare ka atta, though slightly rougher in texture.

Sendha Namak / Lahori Namak or Rock Salt is considered light and calming in nature as compared to sea salt which is considered slightly heaty. It has no distinct flavor of it’s own so one does not miss ordinary salt and it can be used in the same quantities as ordinary salt. This along with the fact that is harvested from open mines makes it a viable substitute for salt in Fasting food.

This is the unedited version of the article 'Fasting Feasting' that appeared in Savvy Cookbook Issue of August 2005. One of the first articles I wrote on food.

Shravan food in MumbaiMy grandmothers Shravan recipes.
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Thursday, August 10, 2017

Shravan recipes from my Granmothers and where you can find Shravan Foods in Mumbai!

It's time to Feast errr Fast again! The month of Shravan is here and words like Faral and Upvaas are being bandied about amongst Mumbai's gastronomically inclined. Eateries big and small around the city have also introduced fasting foods to their menu. If you are gastronomically inclined do take the trouble to find out what all the fuss is about.
With all the things that have been happening, more than ever this year I am filled with nostalgia for the past. As a child I remember waiting with anticipation for days when my Grandmother fasted. i was blissfully ignorant of the religious connotations of those days then, we just looked forward to the leftovers. She would sit apart from the rest of the family for her one meal of the day that comprised of a variety of “treats” we grew to love and look forward to at those times. Fluffy deliciously textured Sabudana khichdi - soft globules of sago, steam-cooked so each particle was separate, generously studded with chunks of savory potato and fragments of peanut.

You will find an article I did on Shravan for Savvy cookbook years ago here, and modern fasting recipes that can be served as a five course meal using allowed ingredients such as Shravan Almond and Coconut milk soup, Shravan Minted Sago salad, Shravan Baked Potato with Coriander salsa, Shravan Saffron Sama “Risotto” and Shravan Pomegranate squares here.
And here is a rather nice article in Midday for some interesting Faraal picks from around Mumbai. 
Here are traditional recipes from both my grandmothers.

Moriyo /Morio / Sama ni Khichadi /Sama Ni khatti Ghensh from my Dadi (Paternal grandmother) (Serves – 1-2, Time 30 mins)
My personal favorite was the Morio. A a dish made from a granular flour called Morio by the Gujaratis and Veru Arisi in Tamil. Cooked like a khichdi in sour yogurt with potatoes and peanuts and seasoned with green chillies, it retained it’s grainy texture on cooking and the chunks of potatoes in it absorbed the sourness of the yoghurt and the spicyness of the chilies most deliciously! 
200 gms Samo/Morio
150 gms potatoes (Boiled, peeled and diced)
1 cup /200 ml sour buttermilk/sour yoghurt
2 sprigs of curry leaves
400 ml water
½ tsp rock salt or to taste
1 inch piece ginger, grated
2-3 green chilles, chopped
1 tsp roasted jeera powder (roasted cumin seed powder)
For the tempering
2 tbsp oil
½ tsp cumin seeds
2 dry red chilli

Wash and clean Sama thoroughly. Strain of water and set damp Sama aside for 30 minutes in the same wet condition. In a large wide mouthed Kadhai add the rock salt chillies, ginger and cumin. Add all three of them to water in a wide mouth kadhai. Add salt and heat it to boil. To temper heat the oil in a small pan, add the Cumin seeds, allow to crackle and add the Curry leaves and Red chilles. Add tempering to the seasoned and spiced water. Add the damp Samo to the flavoured liquid and llow it to cook properly on a medium flame for 10 - 12 minutes. Add the buttermilk/sour yoghurt at this stage along with boiled potatoes. Mix thoroughly. At this point the consistency should be that of a loose runny porridge. If the water has dried out, add a little more and simmer for an additional 2 minutes. Take of flame, cover and allow to stand for 10 minutes. Serve hot.

Stuffed Pattice from my Nani (maternal grandmother) (Serves 2 Cooking time 1 hour)
½ kg potatoes, boiled
100 gm fresh coconut grated,
½ bunch coriander, finely chopped
½ lemon juice
rock salt to taste
½ tsp cumin powder
1 tsp ginger and green chilli paste
2 tbsp arrowroot flour
peanut oil for frying

In a bowl, mash the potatoes well. Add in the salt and 1 tbsp of the arrowroot flour. Mix well and set aside. In another bowl, mix together the coconut, cumin powder, coriander, salt, lemon and ginger and green chilli paste. Dust hands with a bit of arrowroot flour. Make a thin disk of the potato mash on your hand. Place ½ a tsp of the coconut filling in it. Bring the potato disk together around the filling to make a small ball. Roll in a little arrowroot flour and fry in peanut oil till golden. Do not stir it too much as it might burst.

Maharashtrian fasting food
To get a taste of Maharashtrian fasting food, try places like Panchshikar Ahaar at Girgaum, Aaswad Upahar and Mithai Griha in Dadar and Kutir Udyog in Thane, look for Upvaas Thalipeeth (shallow fried pancakes made of Bhajani or fasting flour; a special mix of Vari, Sabudana and Rajgira flours), Sabudana Thalipeeth (shallow fried Sago, potato pancakes), Peanut Curry or Danyachi Aamati (curry made of ground peanuts and flavoured with chillies and cumin),  Batatyacha Kees (A Spicy Maharashtrian take on hash browns) and its Sweet Potato Avatar tossed with crushed peanuts; Ratalyacha kees), Ratalyache kaap (Sweet Potato Slices and Sago chips coated in Sugar and the creamy Sago Sabudana Kheer.

Dadar offers a range of popular eateries such as Aaswad, Prakash and Gypsy Corner for Maharashtrian Shravan Food. But my favourite is Vinay Health Home in Girgaon. Their Faraali Missal, Thalipeeth, Sabudana Vada are to die for. ALso try thier regular menu.

Gujarati Fasting dishes
Gujarati Fasting dishes use almost the same ingredients but interpret them into Gujarati style dishes like Kutti na dhokla (dhoklas made of Buckwheat flour), Farali handvo (Potato and Buchwheat flour savory cake) Farali Pattice, Rajgira Puris, Dahi Bateka Kela Nu Raitu (Banana, Potato Raita),  Rajgira Thepla (a special version of Thepla made with Amaranths flour), Kand na bhajia (Yam Fritters), Suran Bateka nu shak (Yam and Potato Subzi). For between meal snacks they have a lot to pick from Bateka no Chevdo (Patato Chivda) Bateka ni katri (Potato wafers), Masallawalla Makhana (spiced, fried Lotus seeds) Guvar ni Sukavni (Fried Guvar that has been dried first.   For dessert there are Doodhi Halwa, Shrikhand and Kopra Pak (coconut halwa).

Soam, the 12 year old establishment at Babulnath has been celebrating Shravan every year since its opening. This year the menu  is bigger then ever! Featuring dishes starting from snacks, like Faraali Pakodi Chaat, Sabudana patties, Faraali Dahi Bhalla, to main course including Faraali Kofta curry with Rajgira Paratha, Faraali Sama Pulav, stuffed puri and Singdana Usal. desserts include faraali malpua, kesar kopra paak and Sweet potato Gulab Jamun. Check out the Faraali Gold Coin Faraali Daal Dhokli and Faraali Idli and sweet potato Sambhar.

Soam Faraal Utsav for the season of Shravan till August end.
Sadguru Sadan, Chowpatty, Mumbai, Soam
Meal for two: Rs 700

Saturday, July 29, 2017

A Chai Pakoda Trail through Mumbai on 30th July for #ChaiPakodaDay

So if you know me, you have to have heard that I have been calling out for all of us to celebrate Indian Food Observance Days recently.  Each of the days has seen more and more excitement! And so I am super excited to share that this month we are celebrating #ChaiPakodaDay on 30th July.
More people than ever before, Food bloggers, food lovers, restaurants and more are coming to gether to celebrate Chai Pakoda Day. And it is not surprising! After all who wouln’t want to celebrate the special relationship between chai, pakodas and baarish we have in India ?

I have been super excited at everyone that’s jumping in to celebrate #ChaiPakodaDay so this time, to celebrate and to do my bit, I’ve curated a little #ChaiPakodaDay food trail of Mumbai on Sunday 30th July (tomorrow). Joining me will be Vernika Awal of Delectable Reveries and Tiyash Sen of The Pressured Cooker. The idea is to explore Mumbai from a pakoda shaped lens!
Our day will begin with a tasting of Anaida’s Sour sweet cherry pakodas at the Soda Bottle Opener Walla, Powai. This is a Irani cusiine inspired pakoda created by Anaida in which sour cherry jam and pistachios are stuffed into sweetened rice ball, crumbed and fried. Its so delicious!

Next on our Pakoda Map is the JW Lounge at JW Marriott, Sahar. They have a new Monsoon Menu that’s fablulous and we are going to dip into a few western fries or firangi pakodas, like beer battered onion rings and fried calamari. (FYI there are also many non pakoda options to try for the rest of you, The lounge is a lovely place to savour the Mumbai monsoon from a dry, luxurious vantage!

Leaving the restaurants behind, we head Santacruz next where a bunch of food bloggers willare gathering for a pakoda potluck. The WhatsApp group for this party has been buzzing with pakoda and bhajiya ideas ranging from the traditional to the quirky so this is going to be quite fun, tasting a mélange of pakodas from communities across India.

Our next stop will be Ladu Samrat at Parel; an eatery that is part of the the varied Mumbai culinary legacy, offering simple but delicious classics like laddus, farsan and fried yumminess.  Looking at grazing through batata vada, kanda bhaji and sabudana vada before we head to our next stop.

Our pakoda map then goes on to Soam, opposite Babulnath Mandir.  It is a habit for many people (me included) to pop into Soam around 4pm for a quick snack of chai and their farsan platter that includes a makai wada, ghugra, dhokla and spinach samosa. On Sunday though, we will sampl the Farali fries from their Shravan menu. And maybe a nibble or two of their sizable bhajiya section with a cup or three of their amazing chai!

And though it is not on the map, after eating all this, I have ambitious plans to end our pakoda trail at Ling’s Pavilion, Colaba with a platter or two of corn curd, wontons and fried deliciousness like only they can do!

If you are in one of the areas, drop in and say hello?

In case you want to step out to celebrate #Chai Pakoda Day, heres whats happening…
Soda Bottle Opener Wala outlets in Mumbai have an ongoing #ChaiPakoda Day festival featuring 5 regional Indian cuisine experts showcasing Pakoda’s from their cuisines. Other outlets in India are offering a free pakoda on every chai ordered on Sunday, 30th July 2017.

Soam at Girgaon has an ongoing Shravan menu currently which features Farali Fries alongside their regular menu. They will also offer a special pakoda with every chai ordered to celebrate #ChaiPakodaDay on Sunday, 30th July.

The O22 at the Trident, BKC has a special menu on for the monsoon, as does the Lounge Lobby at the Grand Hyatt featuring fried treats with steaming cups of tea.

I hope this food trail encourages you to go exploring for pakodas in your own neighborhood. But if you have engagements that day or just can’t head out, Do please fry up a batch of your favourite pakodas,  enjoy it with a mug of chai and if so inclined, take pictures and share with all of us through social media.
Wishing everyone a spicy, crispy and tasty #ChaiPakodaDay!
And do remember to use the hashtag #ChaiPakodaDay.


Saturday, July 15, 2017

Jumaelay Halo! Kutchi Bhatia Cuisine Excerpts from an article I wrote in 2005.

A journey into the history of an unknown community and their food-ways …

Food is essential for human life. However, humans view food as much more than basic sustenance. With sustenance we also apply great significance to the foodways we grew up with. India plays home to myriad religions, cultures and communities, each of them with their own foodways, One such unknown community is the Kutchi Bhatia Community. Descended from a warrior race, Kutchi Bhatias are today largely engaged in trade and commerce, a field in which they have done immensely well. The food they eat is unique in its simplicity and fresh flavor. It is often also hidden under the classification of Gujarati food.

The Kutchi Bhatia Community has a very interesting history. While legend tells of their having descended from Lord Krishna himself, closer in history tangible evidence pinpoints a period some time in the 6th century, when a Raja Bhoopat ruled Lahore. Famous for his valour, courage and administrative shrewdness, the dynasty he founded came to be known as the Bhatti or Bhati dynasty from which the word Bhatia is derived. The Bhatias successively founded Tannot, Deraval and Jaisalmer in A.D. 1156 and ruled successfully until the reign of Raja Mulraj (1316) when the Bhatia race was threatened with extinction.

The Jaisalmer fort had been under siege for a year and with his resources dwindling, Raja Mulraj was forced to take a decision that changed the future course of the Bhatia community. The aged and the young were secreted out of the fort while the king and his army launched a bloody do-or-die offensive! They lost, however, their women choosing death over the dishonor of capture. The remnants of the Bhatias that had escaped the fort, eventually made their way to Punjab. They changed their occupations from that of Kshatriyas or soldiers to Vaisyas and took to trade or agriculture.

Over time they spread out into areas of Rajasthan, MP, Halar and Kutch. Time and Geographical distance factored in and the community fragmented. The root culture was the same but marked albeit subtle differences in the lifestyle, language and larger changes in food habits - due to diet being adapted to locally available ingredients - made themselves apparent. Eventually it was the Bhatias that settled in Kutch that earned the name “Kutchi Bhatia”.

While Kutchi Bhatia food is classified under Gujarati food, there is a marked difference in the cuisines. It does not manifest itself in the names of the dishes; in fact there are a lot of dishes common to both Gujerati and Kutchi Bhatia food. The difference is noticeable in the style of preparation of dishes. Where Gujarati food tends to be oily and leans towards sweet heavily spiced fried foods, Kutchi Bhatia food happens to be one of the healthiest Indian communal cuisines today.

Food is cooked with fresh seasonal ingredients and comes to the table, steaming hot, and straight of the flame. The use of oil is minimal and flavorings lean toward the Surti style with a predominance of leelo masallo (or fresh green masalla), usually a combination of Ginger and Green chilies. The use of garam masalla is minimal and spicing is used to compliment the dish being cooked, at no point overwhelming the natural flavor of the food. Unlike Gujarati food, the sweetness quotient of gur or sugar is selectively used. Gur or Sugar are only added in dishes where a balance of flavors needs to be achieved like in the yoghurt based Kadhi or Khatta Mug (whole mung cooked in yoghurt) or tomato based dishes where there is a need to alleviate the acidity of the tomatoes.

The other difference lies in the inherent ability to innovate of the Kutchi housewife. She will try and vary the menu at each meal, ensuring that along with a new vegetable the Daal is also alternated, either with different Daals or with other preparations like Gol Kokum ji kadhi or Osaman. Rotis might also be alternated with Jowar or Bajra rotis, in which the dough for each roti is mixed individually and flattened by hand.

Some of the most traditional meals of the Kutchi Bhatias aside from the classic Jowar and bajra rotis served with lehsun Chutney are Chutti Khichdi and Osaman – Unlike normal khichdi, Chutti Khichdi made by cooking the daal and rice separately. The daal is cooked in extra water till it splits, the water is then drained and reserved, and meanwhile rice is added to the daal and cooked to a khichdi consistency. The reserved water is then spiced, and made into a Rassam-like Osaman, light, delicate, fragrant with Coriander and Curry leaves and tender coconut. Osaaman may also be made of Dal alone, in which case it is served alongside Lachko Dal in which the  solid dal left after straining out the cooking liquid is temopered with ghee and asafeotida.  

Another classic meal is Khara and Mitha Chavda. Khara Chavda are spicy besan panckaes and Mitha chavda are fermented wheat pancakes that are are sweetened with gur. The spic and sweet pancakes are usually served together.

A proper Kutchi Bhatia meal will consist of a Daal, one or two vegetables, thin ghee dabbed rotlis or Phulkas and some form of salad, all washed down with copious amounts of Chilled Kutchi “beer” or Chaas. There might be a dessert and a farsan preparation to augment the meal if there are guests. It is also the endeavor of the Kutchi Bhatia cook to achieve a balance in flavors. Salty, sweet, spicy and sour, all make their presence felt on your palette at every meal, either through a combination of ingredients or through a combination of dishes i.e. if a dish is characteristically sour it will always be accompanied with a sweet one. A classic example of this is the delicious combination of Kadhi with Puran Polis. (The Kuchi Bhatia Puran Poli is different from its Maharashtrian counterpart in that it is made with tur daal instead of Channa Daal.)

Vegetables served are seasonal, cooked by themselves or in combination with other vegetables or ingredients to best reveal the characteristic flavor of the vegetable. There will be some amount of water added to the vegetable, and it will be cooked to a tender but firm to the touch consistency. Vegetables served are always moist and in light gravy either of the juices released by the vegetable itself or made with onions and tomatoes. Some classic combinations include, Fansi (French beans) cooked with fresh grated coconut, Sambhariyu – assorted vegetables stuffed with spices besan and coconut and cooked in its own juices, Guvar, turiya and Kola – a combination of Guvar, Ridge Gourd and Pumpkin, Doodhi Tameta jo rasavalo shak – white Pumpkin and tomato and Kela Methi jo shak Plantain and Methi subzi. Vegetables are always garnished, some like with fresh green coriander.

Vegetables will also be on the plate in the form of a Salad like the Khaman Kakdi - a refreshing blend of cucumber, crushed peanuts and tender coconut, Kanda Tameta jo Salad – wilted onions and tomato salad, Gajar tameta jo salad – wilted Carrot and tomato salad. There will usually be Chutney and a variety of pickles to pick from as well. The Chutney is usually a fresh one made of Coriander or more seasonal ones like the Raw mango Chutney in which raw mango is ground with cumin and Jaggery.
The pickles made by this community deserve a special mention, in that they are very unusual and delicious. They are also simply made. Some classic pickles are the Methambo – more of a cross between a chutney and a pickle, made of Mango, the Methambo is a combination of sweet jaggery and sour green mangoes that are just beginning to ripen, Davara – a green berry that is made simply by marinating in salt and turmeric and the delicious green pepper pickle in which green pepper is preserved in salt and lemon juice.

The sweet preparations of the Kutchi Bhattias are varied, and a lot of them are common across Gujarati and Rajasthani food but they do have some typical favorites, like the Dudh pak a spiced milk preparation with rice, like a thin Kheer. They also make Srikhand, Mevavati and a host of other sweet dishes. One of the most unusual sweetdishes, that is rare even among the Kutchi Bhatias themselves, is the Tapkhir jo halvo or Arrowroot Halwa. Rarely made today this unique dish is quite delicious and very pretty with the golden translucency of Arrowroot and Saffron.

Today the enterprising Kutchi Bhatia community continues to be an adventurous and enterprising community that comes to the forefront in all their endeavors. Traces of their royal genes are still evident in their tall statures, fair skin and aristocratic appearance. Today the community has spread all over the world and they continue to do well in whatever field the pick and with each step they take, their cuisine travels with them, a link to their illustrious past.

Lachko or Kathan Daal

Time 30 minutes, Serves 4-6

1.5 cup Tur Dal
¼ tsp Turmeric powder
¼ tsp Asafeotida
1” piece Ginger, sliced
1 tbsp Ghee
Salt to taste

Combine the Tur Dal with 9 cups of water, in a cooking pot. 
Add the sliced ginger, and turmeric. Bring it to a boil. Lower flame and leave to simmer.  
When cool strain out the liquid for Osaman and keep aside. 
Heat ghee in a small pan, add asafeotida and let is splutter (30 seconds). Pour this over cooked split gram. Churn the cooked gram to smooth consistency. Return to heat, add salt and let it simmer for about 10 minutes. When it is thickened to a porridge consistency, take it off the gas and serve hot with rice, Kadhi or Osaman.

Osaman (Spiced split gram Water)
½ cup Yellow split gram
1 tsp Ginger–chili paste
4-6 pieces Kokum
3-4 tbsp Jaggery
½ tsp Turmeric powder
For Tempering
1 tbsp Ghee
2” piece White radish, thinly sliced
1 Green chili, slit
¼ tsp Fenugreek seeds
¼ tsp Mustard seeds
¼ tsp Cumin seeds
¼ tsp Asafetida
A few curry leaves
To Garnish
Grated coconut and coriander leaves

Pressure-cook the split gram with 8-9 cups of water. When cool, churn well and add ginger-chili paste, kokum, and jaggery and turmeric powder. Boil this for 10-15 minutes. Heat ghee in a small pan; add fenugreek, mustard and cumin seeds. When they splutter, add asafetida, curry leaves, chili and radish. Pour this tempering over Osaman. Simmer it for 10 minutes. Garnish with grated coconut and green coriander leaves. Serve hot with Kathan daal and rice.
Serves 6

Kobi ja Muthia (Cabbage Dumplings)

Time 1 hour 
Serves 4-6

1 cup Wheat flour
½ cup Gram flour
200 gms Shredded cabbage
1 tbsp Ginger and Green chilli paste
1 tbsp Oil
¼ tsp Soda
½ tsp Sugar
¼ cup Yogurt
Asafeotida, a pinch
Salt to taste

For Tempering2 tbsp Oil
1 tsp Mustard seeds
2 tsp Sesame seeds
3-4 pieces (Boria Marcha) Round red chilies
Curry Leaves 2-3 sprigs 
Asafeotida, a pinch

To Garnish
Finely chopped coriander leaves and grated coconut

Mix both the flours and add, oil, salt, sugar, soda and asafetida. Sprinkle a little salt over cabbage and set aside for 10 minutes. Then mix the cabbage and yogurt to the flour mixture. Take a little oil on your palm and bind the dough. Divide it into two. Shape each one in a cylindrical shape and place it on oiled sieve. Steam the Muthias for 15-20 minutes. Remove from sieve and let it cool. Now place them on chopping board and slice them into 2cm. Thick slices. Heat oil in a frying pan, add mustard seeds, when they splutter, add sesame seeds and asafetida. Finally add chilies and curry leaves. Add steamed Muthias to this tempering and mix very gently to coat the tempering to all the pieces properly. Fry them until slightly crisp. Garnish with coriander and coconut and serve with green chutney.

Green Coriander Chutney
Makes 1 cup
1 bunch Coriander leaves, chopped
½ cup Coconut, Freshly grated
1 tbsp Peanuts
1” piece Ginger, chopped
3-4 pieces Green chillies, chopped
1 tsp (each) sugar, salt and cumin seeds
Juice of 1 lemon

Chop coriander leaves coarsely. Put all the ingredients together in a grinder and make a thick paste. Use a little water if necessary. Serve with any savory dish.