Category Archives: Food

Goodbye to the jalfrezis and and kormas.

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I came across this post on The Guardian’s blog and it got me thinking. Recently a couple of friends and I were making plans to try out a restaurant called Rice Boat in Versova. Its specialties are reputedly along the lines of gassis, spicy fish curries and appams. While finalising plans, one of them piped in saying that it supposedly did not have an extensive vegetarian menu. I felt a little bad. I was the only non-vegetarian in the group and somehow it did not seem fair.

Even at a not-so-recent lunch to a south American burger joint in Bandra called Bembos, with fellow blogger Nandita, I realised that vegetarians usually have only one choice — a veg burger. But this place gave vegetarians a little more choice — a burger patty made with rajma. Though I don’t know how it tasted, at least there was some thought put into it. I mean something like KFC was certainly not made keeping in mind vegetarians, was it?

Though a large part of India’s population is vegetarian, menus often don’t reflect this. And most are not even exciting. Potato, paneer, matar, mushrooms and mixed vegetables — all these in some form or fashion. Some of the better ones will even have baingan bharta and palak dishes. Of course even I love a well-made bharta but not the unspeakable mush that is served as it.

But rarely have I found an interesting combination which used the colours and flavours well. Of course, here I have to add that I have not been “only veg” restaurants that boast of fine dining.. or even specialty cuisines.. Little Italy, for instance.

As a child, I have always loved the colours in a vegetable market. Vile Parle (east) has one of the more impressive array of veggies, in an open market setup. I would buy vegetables I would not eat but liked how they looked. Even in Delhi, where vegetables and fruits are far superior, my choice was always the colour — tomatoes, carrots, beetroots, green leafy vegetables, yellow mangoes, green bananas, red apples, bright cucumbers.

Anyway, I occasionally get pangs to turn a vegetarian and realise that paneer and aloo is not my idea of nirvana. And though I hate the bitter gourd, to eat it made well, is a luxury I’ve never had.

Try some spice

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Experimentation is fun as I am discovering. Experimenting with what you may like to do, the people you would like to be with or even ingredients in recipes you couldn’t earlier pair — all is extremely entertaining. I guess reading all those food blogs had to rub off!

A few months ago, on one of my many grocery trips, I came across tea bags of the Kashmiri Kehwa. Though its not one of my favourite teas, I thought a nice, fragrant change would do from the fruit-flavoured ones I preferred.

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The kehwa in a tea bag in an incredibly fragrant but light brew. Fragrant enough for your colleagues asking what you are drinking.. A couple of cups (and weeks later) I realised why not try and imbue this incredibly fragrant tea into a cake.

Nothing like a light cake with a delicate flavour and light traces of spice. And these are what I got. Beautiful risen, a little too white for my taste but incredibly fragrant.

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¾ cup self-raising flour

¾ cup plain flour

1 egg

3-4 tsps oil

1 cup strong brew of Kehwa ( I used four bags)

½ cup sugar (brown sugar is better; better avoided if sugar is already brewed with the tea)

1 tsp ground cardamom

¾ ground cloves

1 tsp cinnamon powder

– Preheat the oven

– Mix all the ingredients while the tea cools somewhat.

– Make a well in the centre and add the egg and 2 tsp of oil

– Add the brew to this mix by the spoon

– Alternating it with oil (Oil is not really necessary but a spoon or two helps)

– Put in a greased pan, especially one for cupcakes and bake away

 

All those who ate ‘em loved ‘em, but me in my true nature, I thought it could be bettered with some oil.