Pesto from herbs in the backyard

Fresh waxy leaves of the Thai basil pot and the green carpet of mint leaves on the terrace garden beckoned me into the kitchen.

I soon found myself collecting both leaves from the pots into a collander. Kids are going to love today’s dinner!

Vegetables in pasta are mandatory in my kitchen. I sauted two large onions and added some bush beans, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower and corn. Once this was cooked to a crunch, I added some raw cucmber and tomatoes, some salt to taste and let it rest.

I collected the main ingredients for the paste – some garlic, cashew, raisins, red chillies, black pepper corns, cinnamon powder and the herbs – mint, coriander and lots of basil.

I quickly dry toasted 100grams of cashew and ground it into a smooth paste with four cloves of garlic, half a spoon of salt, half a spoon of cinnamon powder, two red chillies, half a spoonful of black pepper corns and a spoonful of raisins. Then I added the herbs to the blender along with aome olive oil. Voila!

Penne, once cooked, I added it to this mixture and topped it with some lemon juice and adjusted the salt and pepper as per taste. Dinner was then served!


Cute company in my kitchen

Am in Mumbai chillin’ in my friends place while all our kids have gotten together to have an activity filled summer vacation.

Kids came back from the park and brought back Malai having fresh tender coconut water.

Today’s dinner is vegan pasta with herbs from the terrace garden – basil, mint and coriander.

Kavya, my bestie around the kitchen, opened her eyes and mouth wide when I said, lets do some kitchen experiments with the Malai.

She quickly set up the chopping board and started to chop the coconuts into small bits.

We then added some chocolate powder and cinnamon powder in the blender, added the tender coconut pieces in it along with some water and blended it into a smooth paste. Then we added some jaggery to it and gave it one last whip.

Then she patiently poured the mixture into small shot glasses and put them inthe  freezer to set! Our yummy cinnamon flavoured chocolate coconut pudding was ready!

Maharashtra’s Masala

What doesn’t cease to amaze me is how we have multiple region based cuisines all over India. Invariably, one cuisine seeps through harmlessly to its neighbours territory not just influencing them and getting influenced.

Tanjavur, the district in Tamil Nadu that I hail from is highly influenced by the Marathan cuisine. Sambar varieties, bajjis and upmas that we probably thought as native cuisine are borrowed glories. According to the sangam literature what surely belonged to dravidian cuisine were things like idiappams and dosais made of various millets and rice. Even Idli fermenting technique was something we borrowed from Indonasians.

Visiting Bombay for the first time, my mind was set to taste all the flavours the region has to offer. I believe local flavoura are always best tasted in small shops and roadside vnedors rather than fine-dining restaurants. So, I did walk the length and breadth of Bombay and speak to a lot of people before I went on food walks. Thanks to Zomato, things were relatively simpler to figure out.

Available all day long on menus are Vadapavs, batata vadas at roadside thelevala vendors next to train stations are almost always fresh and tasty in your tummies and super light on your pockets.

Missal pav is a typical protien filled roadside breakfast where Missal is the gravy made of many kinds of pulses, big and small, flavoured with goda masala, which is a speciality of this region. Goda is a ten spice blend, the variation of which is something called a kala masala, addition being sundried fried onions.
Kandha lehsun masala is the other spice mix with onions and garlic mostly used in dry preparations.

kandha poha is a delicacy made of fried onions and beaten rice flavored with chillies, lemon and tumeric. Thalipeeth is another mid-maharashtran speciality. These are thick pancakes made from various   millets, flavoured with herbs and fried onions. These are served with coriander chutney and white butter. Yumm!

Sabudana vada and sabudana khichdi are two preperations made from tapioca balls flavoured with roasted peanuts, green chillies and seasoned with cumin and ghee. They are mainly breakfast dishes and so are quite heavy on the tummy. Being free of onions and garlic, which usually marathis dont cook without, these are mostly fasting food.

Piyush is a local drink made of yogurt sweetened with sugar and flavoured with saffron and cardamom, its heavy alright but its something you shouldn’t miss! The other local drink is the kokum sharbat. Kokum is a fruit like tamarind that grows all along the west of India, largely used as an ingredient to add acidity and tangyness to a dish. The sharbat is a nice drink to start your meal with or even refresh yourself after a long, hot day. The syrup makes an exotic addent to your fridge too.

There is still so much more to explore here in Bombay. My next account is quite detailed as I am about to explore the famous bombayya chaat in a place called Elco market bang in the middle of Bandra.

Foodology of my 37-year-old

On the days I fast, I am mentally tired. I make sure I cook for everyone who requires food and their specific quantities for the day and retire to my other chores.
Today, I woke up and decided to fast as I had eaten in a restaurant yesterday. My better half comes along and says – “I think.. hmm.. maybe I should fast too.” He also did his best to share this with whomever he met during the morning, as he always does and gained all their sympathy, and giving me the stares as though I am the villain who starves him!

I cooked enough for the two kids for the day.

In the afternoon, as is the case always, his fast was coming to an end and he was rummaging through the kitchen to eat. Tv, being his primary activity when home, always makes him crave for food. That coupled with the sight of me feeding the kids totally killed the idea of a fast in his mind! Unfortunately like always, when he decided he has fasted enough. I had no witnesses for this act, sadly! None of those people who took pity on him in the morning got to know how short his definition of a fast is. Its only the good-old boring wife who knows the skeletons in his closet!

He got up vigorously and proclaimed he was going to make dosas for himself. I took pity on him and said – “Why don’t you just keep a cup of rice because there is Sambar and two curries in the fridge.”


He picked up the cooker and filled it with water and left in on the counter. He picked up a dish measured rice with the wrong measuring cup(thank heavens it was dry) then added three tumblers of water to it and realised it had small black weevils. He then washed it in the RO water and drained the water in the sink, again filled water and kept it inside the cooker. The flame was blazing. By the time I got from the kitchen to my work room, the first whistle shot up. Then another, then another. He was going to switch it off when he asked me – ” only three whistles right? ” I said no, it needs a lot more cooking. The cooker seemed to be blowing away whistles at bullet speed, I felt like it was screaming out to me for rescue against this mortal abuse. He let it yell a couple of more times, switched it off. Minutes after switching it off, he rushed into the kitchen, picked up tongs and tried to release the pressure, came back unsuccessful, However, this exercise he did relentlessly a few more times, and the cooker finally gave in – crying white gooey tears and asking for mercy and forgiveness. Deepak was plain brutal. I wondered – was it the hunger or the movie he was watching that was working on him. After all, there is research that says tv screen makes one hyper active!

The moment of truth had arrived and I was so eager to see what happened to the rice inside. once the cooker was opened there it came – a dish full of murky water with rice half cooked lying in its bed staring at Deepak, telling him – “Hey buddy, cooker and I share a special thing. You got to give us our time to do our thing. It doesn’t work otherwise.”