Thursday, July 19, 2007

Dig into a book!

(Unedited version of recipe feature that appeared in mE magazine 15 July 2007)

Have your cookbooks collected dust over the summer? What better than a rainy day to get them out again? Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal did just that. Cooped up at home she aired out her favourite cookbooks and and cooked up her favourite recipes for me.

Some Succulent Grilled chicken!

Thanks to the freezer, there is usually some chicken in the house and this simple but aromatic recipe from a recipe come travelogue called Seductions of Rice seemed perfect for a dry side dish since everything would be served with rice. Written by a married couple who traveled around the world with their children to places where rice is the staple food. It shares recipes for dishes that include rice or are eaten with rice, generously garnished with tales about their travels, rice-growing, rice-eating, and cultural phenomena. This book appeals to the armchair traveler in me with so much to read, and see with the many beautiful pictures of people, fields, harvests, markets, and more.

Thai Grilled Chicken from Seductions of Rice By Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid (The book is available from

3 pounds chicken breasts and/or legs, chopped into 10 to 12 pieces

For the Marinade
2 cloves garlic
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
2 tablespoons chopped coriander root, minced
2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
1 cup canned coconut milk

Prepare the marinade using a large mortar and pestle or a small food processor: Combine the garlic, salt, and pepper and pound or process to a smooth paste. Add the coriander root and pound or process to a paste. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the fish sauce and coconut milk. Place the chicken pieces in marinade and turn to coat well. Let stand at room temperature for about 1 hour.

Preheat a charcoal or gas-fired grill, then place the chicken 4 to 5 inches from the flame, bone side down. Once the bottom side is starting to brown, brush the pieces with some marinade, turn over, and cook on the other side until golden brown and the juices run clear.

Alternatively, the chicken can be cooked under a broiler. Preheat the broiler. Lightly oil a broiling pan, add the chicken pieces bone side up, and place 4 to 6 inches from the broiler element. cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or, until the chicken is starting to brown. Turn pieces over and lightly brush with a little of the marinade. Broil for another 8 to 10 minutes, or until the juices run clear.

An excerpt from the book
For connoisseurs of grilled chicken, Thailand is paradise. Grilled chicken, called gai yang, is a common street food and restaurant specialty, and though it is most closely associated with the regional cuisine of the northeast, each region has its own distinctive ways of marinating and grilling chicken. This recipe is our new favourite version, one we learned while staying in south Thailand near the town of Tap Sa Kae. Coconut milk is added to the marinade, giving the chicken even more succulence and depth of flavour.

A gingery warming pickle!

I wanted to balance the sweet and spicy flavours of my meal with a little sour, and this ginger pickle from Usha’s pickle digest seemed appropriate since it would aid in preventing any sniffles. Always fascinated with the idea of pickles and their associated traditions - I obtained this book out of curiosity. Three years down the line I still browse through it for ideas when I want to try preserving something. “Usha’s Pickle digest”, “The perfect Pickle book” as it says on the cover is a thick volume of 365 pages, the book contains exactly 1000 recipes, is meticulously researched, perfectly cross-referenced and a must have for a pickle lover even if one never cooks from it.

Ginger in lime juice from Usha’s pickle digest By Usha Prabhakaran (To obtain a copy of this book please get in touch with the author at

Time taken: 20 mins Makes: 150 gms

125 g ginger – scraped and chopped fine
30 ml lime juice
3 g turmeric powder
5 g mustard seeds for seasoning
20 g salt
20 ml oil

Combine the lime juice, turmeric powder and salt with the chopped ginger. Heat the oil, add the mustard seeds and allow to crackle. Pour seasoning over ginger mixture and stir thoroughly. The pickle is ready for use and keeps for 1 week and longer in the refrigerator

A hint of sweetness!

Fajeto is a sweet sour dish I grew up eating in my moms gujarati home. So when I saw this recipe in Madhur Jaffrey's ultimate curry bible, I thought it would add a soothing sweet sour touch to my essentially spicy rainy day meal especially since I had a couple of Alphonsos lying around. In a pinch use mango pulp or even frooti if required but adjust water accordingly. This book is a very happy investment if you are into food history and how food travels, the author traces the travel of curry (which she defines as... "for the purposes of this book I have designated as a curry any Indian or Indian style dish with a sauce; just as the british colonialists, who controlled India for four centuries before I was born, defined it. It is not my definition..... but the British definition seems to have stuck, so that is the one I use here.") to different parts of the world.

Fajeto from The Ultimate Curry Bible By Madhur Jaffrey (The book is available from Amazon)

2 tbsp chickpea flour
2 tbsp corn or peanut oil
A generous pinch of ground asafetida
½ tsp whole brown mustard seeds
½ tsp whole cumin seeds
2 whole, dried, hot red chillies
⅛ tsp whole fenugreek seeds
15 fresh curry leaves, if available
⅛ tsp ground turmeric
¾ tsp ground cumin
¾ tsp ground coriander
120 ml natural yogurt
700 ml thick Alphonso mango pulp (sweetened) from a can
1½ tsp salt
½ tsp sugar, or to taste
2 chillies, with small slits cut into them

Put the chickpea flour, turmeric, cumin and coriander in a medium bowl. Very slowly add 120ml water, mixing with a wooden spoon as you go. There should be no lumps left. Add the yogurt, mixing it in with a whisk. Pour in the mango pulp and an additional 475ml water. Add the salt, sugar and fresh chillies. Mix well. Pour the oil into a thick, medium, lidded pan and set over a medium-high heat. When the oil is very hot, put in the first asafeitida and then, in quick succession, the mustard and cumin seeds, the chillies, the fenugreek seeds and, lastly, the curry leaves. Take the pan off the heat. Stir the mango mixture well and quickly pour it into the pan. Stir. Put the pan on a medium heat and bring to a simmer. Simmer on a very low heat for 5 minutes, stirring with a whisk or spoon as you do so. Take the pan off the heat, cover, and leave for at least 30 minutes to allow the spices to release their flavours. Before serving, stir the soup and reheat it gently. Strain it through a coarse strainer. Spoon out some of the smaller seeds - the mustard and cumin - from the strainer and stir them back into the soup to add some colourful flecks.

A spicy side!

Since I already had coconut and there are usually green chillies in the vegetable compartment this recipe from a little self ublished book appealed to spike the meal with. Although written in Marathi and strictly a recipe book with a lot of recipes following the “a little this and a little that” routine of old style community cookbooks it enlightens on little known cuisine of Maharashtra - Karwari cuisine. The author is a 73yr old lady who took ill and was confined to her bed. She spent that time documenting all her traditional Karwari style recipes that her daughter had published in the form of a book.

Olya Mirchichi Amti – Green chilli and coconut curry from Prerna Karvari Svayampakachi By Kumud Borkar (To obtain a copy of this book please get in touch with Lily Aluwalia at

Time taken: 20 mins Serves: 4

5 green chilies
200 g shredded fresh coconut
6 cup Water
1 ½ tbsp Tamarind extract
A pinch of asafeaotida
½ tsp sugar
¼ tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp turmeric powder
10 – 15 curry leaves
Salt and to taste

First grind coconut, tamarind and salt to a fine paste. Slice chillies lengthwise. Then heat ghee in a pan and add asafeotida and Mustard. Allow to splutter. add Haldi and curry leaves and then chillies. Fry well and then add coconut paste, water, sugar and bring to boil. Adjust salt. Sere hot with Rice.

Somethig aromatic and delicious!

An Indian kitchen will always has papads in it and a recon mission into my freezer yielded a couple of packets of frozen fresh coconut so I decided to make Pappadavalli – a curry of fried papadams in an aromatic spicy sauce from Grains, Greens, and Grated Coconuts: Recipes and Remembrances of a Vegetarian Legacy which I hail as the community cookbook of the new era. Shedding the black-and-white run through recipe after recipe format that treasured cookbooks of this ilk have suffered under the yoke of for ages because cooking was not considered important enough I love this book because it shatters two myths; that South Indian food is VIDS (Vada-Idli-Dosa-Sambhar) and that Kerela cuisine is all non vegetarian by showcasin the traditional Hindu vegetarian cuisine of central Kerala. A bright green and terracotta cover invites one one to immerse oneself into it. In addition to a wealth of delicious recipes for cookbook aficionados like me (who like stories with their food), there is a wealth of information to be gleaned – a chapter on the history of the spice trade in Kerala, insights into the cultural background of the traditional Kerela Kitchen as well as that of the royal family of Kochi of which the author is a member, culinary customs, festivals colored with anecdotes of the authors own growing years.

Pappadavalli – fried papadams in spicy sauce from Grains, Greens, and Grated Coconuts: Recipes and Remembrances of a Vegetarian Legacy By Ammini Ramchandran (For more on the book and the author visit Peppertrail. The book is available from iUniverse, Inc., and

Pappadavalli is one of those innovative simple curries that appear on the dinner table during the monsoon season. When fresh vegetables are scarce, sun-dried summer vegetables and even pappadams are substituted in their place. Following is a recipe using store bought pappadams.

Time taken: 30 mins Serves: 4-6 as a side dish

2 cups + 2 ½ tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp urad dal
1 ½ cups fresh grated coconut
4-5 dried red chillies
½ cup fresh curry leaves
1 tsp tamarind concentrate
Salt to taste
½ tsp turmeric powder
6 Pappadams cut into 1 inch pieces

Heat half a teaspoon of oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat and panfry the urad dal. When the dal turns pink, add the coconut and red chilli peppers and pan fry until the coconut turns golden brown. Reserving eight curry leaves for the garnish add the remaining leaves to the skillet. Stir well, remove from the stove and cool for five minutes. Using a blender grind the pan fried ingredients with just enough water to make a thick smooth puree. Dissolve the tamarind concentrate in two cups of warm water. Combine the tamarind concentrate with salt and turmeric and cook over a medium heat. When it starts boiling add the spicy coconut blend and stir well. Bring it back to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 mins. Heat two cups of oil and deep fry the pappadam pieces. Remove the cooked curry from the stove add the remaining two teasoons of oil and the reserved curry leaves and sprinkle the pappadam pieces on top. Stir gently. Serve hot with rice.

Food preparation and styling by Rushina Munshaw – Ghildiyal
Photos – Bharat Aarti Mrigank

1 comment:

passionforlife said...


You have a lovley blog out there. Great pics I must say.

I had beens earching for Usha's pickle digest for a long time now. Thanks for her email ID. But could you kindly let me know at how much her book is priced. I know its not nice to ask the price but I dont know if I could afford one, thats why I am not mailing the author directly. If you wouldnt mind, kinldy mail me or reply here itself.

Thanks & Rgds,