Taco for party

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I started writing this as a set of individual posts of all the elements of a taco party, then I thought it should all be in one place. In one ready to reference post. It is also time for Diwali parties and while you do the tikkas and the kebabs, a Taco Party is more fun, it is a welcome change to greasy Indian takeaway food used for parties and it somehow brings people to a table, which is what parties are for.

So if I have to entertain people at home, then I have an inclination towards tacos as party food. And I think its fresh. A lot can be made ahead, and very freezer friendly too. The leftovers are again freezer friendly . Think Guacamole on toast with a fried egg for breakfast.

So this post is about getting ready to set up a taco party. From scratch. Yes.

Another reason I like them is that they leave scope for a seasonal twist. So when it is the season of mangoes and I had to had to make a mango salsa. A combination off sweet and sour mangos, with a dash of chillies and salt and cilantro. Thats it. A surprise to the taste buds.

So from the salsa to the guacamole to the tortilla itself. All are customisable.
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For the tortilla:
1/2 cup maize meal
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 pinch salt
1/2 cup (approximately) lukewarm water
2-3 tbsp oil/ ghee/ butter
1. Take a bowl and mix all the dry ingredients.
2. Slow add the warm water and knead. The warm water helps in the binding and rolling of the tortillas. Once the dough is smooth, divide into approximately 6-8 balls.
3. Heat a flat bottomed pan, and grease it with oil/ ghee/ butter.
4. Roll out the dough into chapatti like discs. If you are not good at that, don’t fret, just use a roti maker or tortilla maker.
5. Place a rolled tortilla on the pan and cook both sides. Cover with a cheese cloth to keep it soft. For freezing, let it cool and freeze with butter paper in between each tortilla.
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For the Tomato Salsa:
1/2 kg ripe red tomatoes
1 onion minced
1 handful cilantro/ coriander leaves chopped
2-3 green chilies minced
3-4 tbsp olive oil
To taste salt

1. Roast the tomatoes on an open flame. Instead of boiling them to remove the skin I like to roast the tomatoes. It just imparts a smoky flavour to the salsa.
2. Cool and peal the tomatoes. Mince the tomatoes by hand or roughly in a mortar and pestle the idea is to leave it slightly chunky
3. Mix all the rest of the ingredients and the salsa is ready.
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For the Guacamole:
2-3 ripe avocados
1 onion minced
1 tomato minced
1 handful cilantro/ coriander leaves chopped
2-3 green chilies minced
3-4 tbsp olive oil
2-3 lemons juiced

1. Split just ripe avocados into two. Use a spoon to carve the pulp out of the avocados and use a fork to mush/pulp the avocados. Avocados discolour very easily so squirt the lemon juice and stir. Add the rest of the ingredients.
2. Store in the fridge till it is time to serve,
3. One more tip. Avocados are bland and sometimes require adjustment of the lemon juice and salt. So taste and adjust.
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For the Yogurt Dip (a great replacement of sour cream)
1/2 kg Yogurt
2-3 cloves Garlic
Salt to taste

1. Take a cheese cloth and hang the yogurt for about 3-4 hours.
2. The hung yogurt is creamier. Use a balloon whisk and grated garlic and salt to taste.

For the Kidney Beans
1 cup kidney beans
2-3 large Tomatoes
2-3 large Onions
1 tbsp cumin powder
1 tbsp coriander powder
1 tsp red chilli powder (use the one whose heat you like)
1-2 cups water
2-3 tbsp chopped cilantro/ coriander leaves
2-3 tbsp oil/ ghee
Salt to taste

1. Soak the kidney beans overnight. Cook the kidney beans till tender. You can use a pressure cooker to expedite the process.
2. Add the oil in pan. Once the oil is heated, then add the chopped diced onions and sauté. Remember to keep the heat on low. Once the onions start to cook add the chopped diced tomatoes and cook. Its better to cover and cook to ensure that you onions and tomatoes sweat well. Add salt at this stage to hasten the cooking process.
3. Once the onion and tomatoes are pasty add the spices and water and bring it to boil. Then add the cooked kidney beans and cook till the means are coated in the paste. Add the cilantro/ coriander leaves and they are ready.

Add a Salad:
250 gms cherry tomatoes
2 cucumber
1 carrot
1/2 lemon juice
1-2 tbsp olive oil

1. Slice the cherry tomatoes and julienne the carrot and cucumber.
2. Add the lemon juice and olive oil
3. This easy salad is a great way to add a fresh crunch tot he tacos. You can vary it as per your liking and seasonal vegetables

Assembling the taco:

Cheese of choice

1. Take out all the best bowls for the guacamole, salsa and the yogurt dip and the salad and the beans. I like to use colourful bowls and mix an match them
2. Grate some Jack Cheese and Cheddar Cheese
3. Use a microwavable platter for tacos, so that you can reheat them.
4. Your work is done. Now allow your guests to stuff their face with tacos that they make for themselves as per their taste.

P.S.
Watch
Netflix – Riverdale – Mystery, drama – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5420376/
Movie – Ordinary People – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0081283/

Listen –
Koop – Koop Island Blues – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0W3MpOU3OUU
Radiohead – Creep – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XFkzRNyygfk
Jem – Keep on Walking – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ww5CYMI0V34

Read
Blog/ Webpage: http://inkimageideology.blogspot.in
Book: Old Man and the Sea – Earnest Hemingway – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2165.The_Old_Man_and_the_Sea

Poem

FINISTERRE

The road in the end taking the path the sun had taken,
into the western sea, and the moon rising behind you
as you stood where ground turned to ocean: no way
to your future now but the way your shadow could take,
walking before you across water, going where shadows go,
no way to make sense of a world that wouldn’t let you pass
except to call an end to the way you had come,
to take out each frayed letter you had brought
and light their illumined corners; and to read
them as they drifted on the late western light;
to empty your bags; to sort this and to leave that;
to promise what you needed to promise all along,
and to abandon the shoes that brought you here
right at the water’s edge, not because you had given up
but because now, you would find a different way to tread,
and because, through it all, part of you would still walk on,
no matter how, over the waves.
– David Whyte

Charnamrita inspired breakfast bowl

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I vividly remember two occasions when I have had a Panchamrita/ Charnamrita. One was when my aunt had taken us two sisters for attending some Puja in an old haveli in Lucknow. I remember asking for a second helping of the 1-2 tablespoon serving that we were given. And the other time when a dear friend’s mother had summoned me to help mash bananas in a big pot of cold milk and yogurt mixture. I was then made aware that this has to be done by hand only.

Panchamrita/ Charnamrita is the offering to the Divine and then consumed also by those making the offering. Yogurt, milk, ghee, honey, sugar, Indian Basil. Dry fruits, and bananas are added by others.

Because it is so tasty I thought about using the same ingredients with the addition of roasted Amarnath and Foxnut, which is very popular food during this fasting time and making a breakfast bowl.
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Ingredients:
1 cup Yogurt
2 cup Milk/ Coconut Milk
1/2 cup Honey (you could use a combination of sugar and honey)
1/4 cup Ghee
2 Bananas
1/2 cup Dry Fruits of your choice
1 cup Roasted Foxnut
1 cup Roasted Amarnath seeds
2-3 sprigs Indian Basil

1. Soak the torn Indian Basil leaves in the milk for a few hours.
2. Peel and mash the bananas in the yogurt. I did it by hand, just for the memory. It is fun. You can try it.
3. Mix the milk, ghee and honey into the banana yogurt mixture. Once every thing is assimilated add the dry fruits, roasted foxnut and roasted amarnath seeds.
4. Divide into bowls and serve.
5. Its another great bowl of food post a morning yoga flow.
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A mouthful of coconut (energy balls to the world, laddoos to Indians)

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Rituals in India include coconut in many ways. It is considered auspicious and is a staple across the vast coastline of India. It is now that the world has woken up to the possibilities of coconut and its dense nutritional value is fast gaining dominance in cooking, the world over.

During any festivities, yogic or ritualistic fasts, coconut and preparation from coconut is very common. So are coconut laddoos. Traditionally the coconut is cooked in milk, which I have replaced with coconut milk to become a completely plant based dessert.

The other thing done is that if coconut sugar is used the flavour is stronger and makes the laddoos more vegan friendly.

These are great post work out treats for me.
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Ingredients:
100 gms Desiccated coconut, plus some extra for rolling the laddoos in
50 gms Raw/ unrefined/ coconut sugar
1 tbsp Coconut oil
200 ml Coconut milk

1. Heat a heavy bottomed wok or pan. Ensure it remains on low heat all the time. The temptation to turn up the heat and expedite the process of cooking is very high. We are conscious cooking these days, so just enjoy the fragrance wafting in the house while preparing this. Also this will ensure that these coconut laddoos remain as white even when cooked
2. Add the coconut oil to the pan and the desiccated coconut and gently stir. Continue stirring till the decimated coconut is still white, but slightly toasted through and before it changes colour. Add the coconut milk and the sugar and continue stirring. Stir over low flame for about 8-10 minutes
3. Once the mixture is no longer loose and starts to leave the sides and comes together, turn off the heat and allow to cool for about 5 minutes. I like my laddoos to be very soft and hence I almost have a wobbly structure to my laddoos. But if you like a little more bite, cook the mixture a little more, till it is as dense as you like.
4. Once cooled, add some oil to your palms and form balls laddoos. Roll the balls/ laddoos in desiccated coconut and allow to cool. You can store it in the fridge as well, but they will fast disappear where ever you try to hide them.
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Potato Pancakes (Potato Chilla)

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The way of life in India and Yoga, is the current inspiration to the Western World. Especially the food we eat. We are traditionally whole grain and coarse grain and plant based eaters, with a vast variety of methods of cooking and a multitude of spices and thats probably why once Liz Hurley had once said that its easy to be vegetarian if you are eating Indian.

But twice a year at least, we give up grains as well. Once such time of the year started yesterday, the start of the Hindu month of Kartik, the end of Shradha (Autumn). This is the weather transition period and characterised by special food for the next nine days. The food is special because the focus is on a complete plant based diet, minimal to no spice and no table salt or sugar. Unrefined sugar and jaggery are allowed. And salt if at all required is Himalayan or Rock salt.

I am a vegetarian and I usually eat quite mindfully and since I travel a lot, sicking to 100 percent plant based diet for all meals can be tough. But this time around I am not travelling, so I decided to not eat grain for the next nine days. Its a tough challenge at hand and since I feel that some fun recipes can help kill the monotony of the food that you all are having at this time of the year.

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The quantity below makes 2 pancakes and serves one person. Multiply the portions as per the number of people.
Ingredients:
1 boiled potato grated
2 tbsp water chestnut flour
1 tbsp chopped dill
1 green chilli chopped
1/2 cup water
1 tsp ghee
2 tbsp yogurt
1 tsp mint chutney (just blend 1 green chilli, 1/2 cup mint leaves and 1/2 cup raw mango, 1 pinch rock salt, splash of water)
2 tbsp pomegranate seeds

1. Heat thoroughly a non stick pan. Add some ghee on the pan and spread with a brush.
2. In a bowl add the grated potato, water chestnut flour, green chilli, dill and water. Whip through till well mixed. The batter should not be too thick of thin. It should coat the back of a spoon.
3. Pour half the mixture on the non stick pan and spread evenly using the back of a spoon. Do not make the pancake too thin.
4. Now its time for patience. Do not touch the pancake till the edges have started to brown, else it will be difficult to turn and might break. Once the edges are browned, flip it over and gook on the other side as well. Repeat this activity with the rest of the batter.
5. Serve with yogurt, mint chutney and pomegranate seeds.
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Mango Loaf with NO ADDED SUGAR

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Mangoes. I guess we are so busy enjoying the fruit on its own when it is in season, that we forget that mangoes make for a great fruit to cook with. In keeping with the same aim, I tried to bake a mango loaf, just like a banana bread.

Why a mango loaf, because I thought that it can be a great base for stone fruit and yogurt or mascarpone , just like or better than a typical pound cake. And its true. Freshly pureed mango is airy and hence the cake is surprisingly light without any egg white whipping involved.

I served these with honey and fresh mangoes. You can choose any fruit and greek yogurt or whipped cream or better still mascarpone cheese. I was skeptical about using or not using vanilla extract in this recipe, worried that the cake will turn out to be more eggy than mongo-ey. But thankfully, they turned out to have only delicate mango flavour
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Ingredients
125 gms butter
2 eggs
1 cup mango puree
100 gms all purpose flour
155 gms fine polenta
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp whole oats for garnishing on top of the loaf

  1. Cream the butter and the mango puree. Add the eggs one at a time and whisk through.
  2. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and fold the cake. Be careful to do this delicately so that the air incorporated in the mixture is not released.
  3. Pour the mixture in a parchment paper lined loaf tin of 10 inch length. Sprinkle the whole oats on top and bake in a pre heated oven at 180 degree centigrade for 45 minute or till a poked skewer comes out clean.
  4. The loaf will rise and tends to split down the middle. Don’t worry about that.
  5. Serve with fruit of choice and cream/ icecream/ cheese.
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    P.S.
    Watch
    Netflix – Ranch http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4998212/
    Movie – Binge watch all the LOTR series https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lord_of_the_Rings_(film_series)

Listen
John Mayer – Love on the weekend – John Mayer – Love on the Weekend (Audio) – YouTube
Gary BB Coleman – The sky is crying – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71Gt46aX9Z4
Caught a Ghost – Time Co – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_LqBYI10fM
The Black Keys – Gold On The Ceiling – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6yCIDkFI7ew

Read
Blog – Urban outfitter and the content on the blog is ever illuminating. http://blog.urbanoutfitters.com

Book – The Glass Castle by Jeannette https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7445.The_Glass_Castle

Poem:

Still I Rise
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
’Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

– Maya Angelou

Inspired Shroom 

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I was in Tallinn, this summer, meeting a friend, on a road trip in the Baltic. The Baltic in summer is full of fresh produce, with the markets wafting with the fragrance of ripe strawberries and farmers with cherry stained aprons offering the fruit in an array of yellowed to bright beautifully maroon sweetness.

One of the definite places to go visit in Tallinn is Telliskivi – art district, creative city. And boy it does not disappoint. Some of the street art had me staring for what could have been an eternity. And though till date I have not shared any picture on this blog other than that directly related to food, this time I feel compelled. It remains not just a gem in the Baltic, but also a great place for discovering art. With a bouquet of boutiques and stores offering knick knacks for everyone.IMG_3820

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From top;

A home furnishing store in Telliskivi loomelinnak

One of the many cafes and what beautiful blue sky

Is it a cat or a rat or a mouse with a grouse? Graffiti on the walls

Those eyes, they had me. Captivating. the best wall art I have ever seen

The Petunia dotted cafe balcony overlooking the parking

This whole old warehouse district is dotted with old carriage ways and station wagons done up to become cafes and old communist factory floors house lovely restaurants. One of the most popular one is F-Honne, known for its daily fresh bake of the regional brown bread, which is by the way on the house with unlimited balsamic and olive oil to dip, is a more or less perfect example of  industrial design done right. Here I had a spring mushroom soup, the flavour of which was surprisingly asian and close to Thai, fresh, simple button mushrooms, lemony, zingy and just the right tang to balance the coconut milk broth.

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The Interiors of F-Honne http://www.fhoone.ee

And I have here tried to recreate that same soup. Surprise, surprise, there is a cheats way of doing it added to the tip section, right before the post script. Do not miss it.
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Ingredients:

For the curry paste:
1 handful Thai basil
1 handful coriander leaves (with roots)
2-3 kaffir lime leaves and kaffir lime skin
2 inches lemon grass
1 green chilli
1 clove garlic
1 medium onion
For the soup:
500 gms button mushrooms (thoroughly washed and evenly diced)
400 ml light coconut milk
2 tbsp cooking oil ( I used ghee)
1 lemon
Salt to taste

  1. Blend all the ingredients of the curry paste in a blender, with a little water. Only one 1 table spoon per person is needed. So the rest can be easily popped in the fridge for later use.
  2. Add the ghee to the pan, and sauté the mushrooms on slow heat. As the mushrooms start to render the liquid add 2 table spoon (1 tbsp per 250 gms.  of mushrooms so that the flavour is not overpowering) of the curry paste and continue to sauté on low heat.
  3. This needs to cook for about 15 minutes. Please be careful not to turn the heat up. Once you see that the mushrooms are cooked and the curry paste that coats the mushrooms has lost colour, add the coconut milk and 400 ml water. Allow the broth to simmer for 15minutes or so on low heat.
  4. Cook till the broth reaches the consistency you desire and add the seasoning as per taste. Add the juice of one lemon, or as much as you like.
  5. Garnish with springs of mint, coriander leaves, thai basil, or basil flowers. 

Cheats Tip:
Skip the whole curry making step, and add 1 table spoon of thai green curry paste. Almost no one will notice.

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P.S.
Watch
Netflix – Blood Line http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3520702/
Movie – The Blind Side. A great story for weekend watching if you have not already. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0878804/
Listen
Lost on the River – When I get my Hands on You (I think this is 1/4 Mumford Sons in here ) -https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zcMvZeFSuXE
Water – Jack Garratt https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFuhB8N2CLk
You and I – Wilco – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=USjuOWLyWIQ

Read
Blog – I need to lear a lot from here about social media management. In the mean time why don’t you try. https://www.agorapulse.com/blog
Book – Into the water by Paula Hawkins https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33151805-into-the-water
Poem:
Like all the rest of her poems, the poem does not have a title and is called by the first line of the poem.

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

– Emily Dickinson

Spicy Green Broth

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So you want to make the kids eat more greens. You yourself are bored with the kale and the chard in your salad day after day and you wish if only you could somehow have your greens and not feel bloated or constipated with all that iron either? Do you recollect that as a child chutneys made of fresh coriander or mint or a combination of both were a staple in India.

Or you think a green soup and you think it will have maybe blanched spinach or bok choy, which is boring. But what if we meant fresh coriander, mint, thai basil, green chillies, lemon, garlic, ginger, the nutty creaminess of cashew and melon seeds garnished with coconut cream. Seems a lot of work with the ingredient list, but its not. It is all about a quick blitz in the processes and a single boil and there you have it.

The soup requires very little cooking and will save your digestive track from over exerting while you are still recuperating from any illness or antibiotic course and still provide abundant nutrition in the spicy broth. This recipe is inspired by Heidi Swanson’s Near & Far Green Soup. If you have any nut or chilli allergies, please skip them altogether.

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Ingredients:
1 bunch mint leaves
1 bunch coriander leaves
1 bunch thai basil
4-5 cloves garlic
1 inch ginger
2-3 green chillies
1/2 cup cashew
1/2 cup melon seeds
1 tin coconut milk
1 lemon
3 cups water

Soak the nuts for 2 hours. This helps in getting a smoother texture.
In a food processor blend the mint, coriander, thai basil, ginger, garlic green chillies and the soaked nuts. Blend till very a creamy paste is formed.
Boil 3 cups of water. once it starts boiling add the coconut milk. Turn off the heat.
Add the paste to this hot liquid. Stir and serve.
I used basil flowers and coconut milk and a squirt of lemon juice as garnish. This soup is a great base for adding vegetables and noodles for a full dinner. On its own its a great broth to ease a congestion and cold and flu symptoms.
You can also let it rest and serve cold with grated/sliced cucumber.
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P.S.
Watch
Netflix – Black Mirror – Recommended by my Geek Confidante, this British Series is a dark and satirical examination of modern society https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDiYGjp5iFg
Movie – Chasing Ice – Follow National Geographic photographer James Balog across the Arctic https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eIZTMVNBjc4
Listen
We dedicate this section this time legends and the best mixes and covers on sound cloud
Bob Marley – Jammin – https://soundcloud.com/waldvolk/bob-marley-jamming
The Doors – LA Woman – https://soundcloud.com/mrfortunerisin/la-woman-tribute-the-doors-jim
U2 – The Elevation – https://soundcloud.com/maverickv8/elevation-mav

Read
Blog – I’ve spent the past few weeks, absent. In more meanings of the word than one. You know you’re doing something right when something, someone, consumes every moment of your existence. Every waking thought and feeling. Every drifted dream and sleeping movement. It’s always been that way though. I choose something, someone, to love, and allow myself to fall into complete absorption. Utter submission. Both mental and physical. That, for the most part, is the reason why commitment and I can never co-exist. I lose myself in the consummation of another. Neglect. Savagery. Desire. Its bloody work built for the brave. Stomaching the entire flesh of a person, devouring every inch of their shrunken soul. It’s no easy feat, to navigate between the impulses of passion and thirst. Creation. I starve for creation. We burn together, brilliantly. And flame with it. Until the remains of decayed being are singed blackly wax enough to bloom into a new form of heightened living. I cling to the light, the white heat found in the crevices, the cracks, the fragments of self. who would not want to read more. http://www.butterandbrioche.com/gather-autumnal-supper/
Book – A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There – Aldo Leopold – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/210404.A_Sand_County_Almanac_and_Sketches_Here_and_There
Poem -Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
End Entry Content

– Robert Frost

Whole Grain Tortillas

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Mexican and Tex Mex food is a hit with kids and adult alike. I love it too, more because  I love any chance of indulging in fresh guacamole, salsa and sour creme.

But think party food and think how to feed the kids and you do know that tortillas are an answer.But we don’t want that much gluten added to our already sedentary lifestyle do we?  And thus I decided to make some for quesadilla for a party. Trying such food on adults first and then finally was loved by the kids too.

In making these whole grain, low gluten, they end up being made with a super grain and vegan too. Ragi and some whole wheat flour do the magic here and you don’t miss the flour at all, plus an interesting colour. Great to make ahead and store in ziplock pouches.

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Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup wheat germ flour
1 1/2 cup ragi flour
1 tbsp roasted flax seed
5 tbsp sesame oil
1 1/3 cup luke warm water (Based on the Rh Factor of the place that you live in and the season this quantity can vary. The idea is to have a soft dough. If the dough is dry add 1-2 tbsp of water and if the dough is too sticky, leave it outside to dry out a bit, then dust with a tbsp of whole wheat flour and the dough will come back together)

1. Mix the whole wheat flour, ragi flour and flax seed in a bowl

2. Transfer the mix onto the kitchen counter. Make a small well in the middle and pour the oil. Rub the oil into the mixture till it looks similar to sand.

3. Use Luke warm water to knee the dough to a soft ball.

4. Allow the mixture to rest for 20 minutes.

5. Divide into 16 balls and roll out the dough using a rolling pin.

6. Heat a skillet. Cook each tortilla evenly on each side till some brown spots are visible on the tortillas. Cool and store.

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P.S.
Watch : movie – Munich (2005)
Listen – River by Leon Bridges – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Hegd4xNfRo
Read- The Narrow Road to the Deep North -Richard Flanagan

Seriously adult PBJ (Peanut Butter Jam) Sandwich

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Peanut Butter Jelly/ Jam Sandwich. Childhood favourite. American Classic. PBJ. Hunger satiate-r . Things childhood was made of. I still remember the 5 PM hunger pangs that were sometimes only demanding a PBJ sandwich and a glass of milk.

My travels to America brings me to hotel morning breakfast buffets and quintessentially they always have these grape jelly and peanut butter blister packs and I do indulge in the rare slathering of the peanut butter on warm toast and the grape jelly.

Same is the case when am home, just that the peanut butter needs to be gourmet (not off the rack, pasty kind) and the jam or jelly, self made, washed down with a well brewed cup of darjeeling tea. But on a good day, when I am feeling really indulgent and I have some guests at home I re-interpret PBJ sandwich to an ice cream sandwich, where the meringue in the ice-cream stands out with a hint of chilli in the jam and salt in the peanuts, it sends the senses into a cold frenzy and just steals the show every single time.  I am going to try to flambé it one day.

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Ingredients:
for the Ice cream:
750 ml whipping cream
250 gms meringues
1-2 tbsp icing sugar
1tbsp vanilla extract

for the berry jam
500 gms strawberry, hulled and cut in chunks
1 red chilli, deseeded if you cannot take the punch
150 gms brown sugar
1tbsp lemon juice

for the peanut brittle
100 gms roasted salted peanuts, off the packet and toast them a little
75 gms brown sugar

  1. Whip the cream. Use a very cold vessel to whip the cream to soft peaks. add the vanilla extract and sugar and whisk again.
  2. Add Meringue. Break the meringue into bits and fold into the cream. Line a loaf tin or similar tray with cling film. Pour the mixture and freezer for a day.
  3. Macerate the strawberries with the sugar. Add the chillies and simmer over gentle heat. Cook till the strawberries are soft and the liquid attains a syrupy state. Do a tasting at this stage to ensure that the strawberries are not too tart. If they are, add more sugar till it reaches a sweet and slight sour state. Add the lemon juice to finish.
  4. Caramelise the sugar. For the brittle take a heavy bottomed pan and heat the sugar through. Do not stir. Once the sugar starts to melt, shake the pan slightly to evenly spread the heat. Since we are using brown sugar, further caramelisation  is not needed.
  5. Add the peanuts. Once the sugar has melted add the roasted peanuts. If the peanuts are not salted, add a pinch of sea salt now.
  6. Pour the mixture on a greased plate. Once cool, pound it with a rolling pin to break in into crumbs. Don’t worry if they are not even. its better that way if you have some chunky pieces.
  7. Assemble the sandwich. Take the ice cream and cut a thin slice. Place it on a plate. Top it with the strawberry and chilli jam/ compote. Place another slice of ice cream on top of the compote. Sprinkle the peanut brittle crumbs on top. Dig in and watch the plates being licked

Tip 1 – you can cheat on the ice cream. I made mine from scratch. But you could just buy a brick of your favourite one and use that. Tubs are not recommended as we need the slabs to cut into bread like slices.

Tip 2 – works best in prime berry season. Use red berries for the drama. Strawberries/ raspberries/red currents. All three are great and they provide a different dimension/ texture to the jam/ jelly element of the ice cream sandwich

Tip 3 – you could buy your favourite Peanut Brittle and crumb it. I made mine from scratch again.

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P.S. Since we are celebrating childhood, some more things to remind us of those days.

Watch: I would recommend two movies which were shown in school when I was bidding adieu to my all girls catholic convent in the last month of standard X and being oriented to tackle the big bad world.
Movie:
Dead Poets Society – Robbie Williams remarkable work. The film is an inspiration for every generation and a must watch specially for every growing up child. “Make your lives extraordinary’ . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=veYR3ZC9wMQ
Beaches  – a moving tale of two best friends and their lives.

Listen: Not straight from childhood, but lovely and reflective.
Thats how I got to Memphis – by Bobby Bare where Memphis signifies life. https://itun.es/in/D37bB?i=453492193
Jolene – This song was the was all over the 59th Grammy and you can pick any version. Do give Miley Cyrus cover The Backyard Sessions a listen. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOwblaKmyVw
Come back from San Fransisco – The Magnetic Fields. A very soulful song that can make you want to sit with a cup of tea. https://itun.es/in/FfXXp?i=264705367
La Vie en Rose –  we have heard this song on runways and a multitude of films. Edith Piaf at her best. Various other artists have rendered this song including the great Louis Armstrong. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzeLynj1GYM

Read:Take a moment and then some more.
Blog:
Nigel Slater, he is not the cook who writes but a writer who cooks. He does write a lot with reference to memory and as an avid gardener myself, I look forward to his garden writing and photographs. www.nigelslater.com
Poem:
Walt Whitman : O me! O Life! is like a chapter from my school poetry class, Dead Poets Society and also life itself. “that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse.” https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/51568
Book: To Kill a Mocking Bird. In 2006 this book was regarded as “ a book which every adult must read before they die”. http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2657.To_Kill_a_Mockingbird

Carrot Top-ped, nothing funny about this one

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A white rabbit with an orange carrot and we all think of Alice in Wonderland and childhood attempts at finding the rabbit hole.

Come winters and carrots flood the market. All 3 colours, orange, red and black. Sometimes the yellow ones as well. In india one of the most sought after winter desserts is carrot halwa. Carrots slow cooked in milk for upto 3-4 hours and finished off with some dry fruits, ghee and cardamom and a dash of sugar. Most households don’t make it anymore. The corner sweet shop caters to this childhood nostalgia.

Not to forget the love for carrot cake though. Slathered with a generous cream cheese topping and warm cups of tea. I use a small carrot always in my fresh tomato soup, or tomato pasata. It adds some sweetness which masks sour tomatoes if any.

While we all know that carrots are a rich source of beta carotene and vitamin A, carrots can be a boring vegetable, especially if you plan to feed the children or the carnivores who don’t find vegetables interesting at all. I am not a carnivore, neither a child but this vegetable I only enjoy, combined with my orange juice in the morning, carrot cake loaves or sometimes like this Roasted Baby Carrots with Herbed Yogurt Dressing with the flavours of dil all the way

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Roasted Baby Carrots with Herbed Yogurt Dressing

1/2kg          baby carrots
4-5             cloves garlic
1bunch      fresh dil (I love dil, especially with roasted potatoes)
2tbsp         olive/ sunflower/sesame oil
2tbsp         lemon juice
1pinch       salt
1cup           greek yoghurt

  1. Wash and clean the carrots. I hate grit in the mouth and therefore I keep the heads with the leaves on only if the baby carrots are from my own vegetable patch, freshly uprooted and cleaned. If brought from the market I remove all the greens. Here too the baby carrots are whole (sans any greens), they have not been beheaded and they have been very thoroughly washed.
  2. Prep the carrots. Spread the carrots on a large tray (line the tray with parchment if not using a non-stick tray). Drizzle oil, lemon juice and mix it all on the tray, ensuring that the carrots are coated with the oil and the lemon juice. Sprinkle a few sprigs of dil and garlic on the tray
  3. Roast the carrots. Put the tray on the top shelf of the oven at 190 degree centigrade and roast for upto 40 minutes. The outer skin on the carrots will shrivel and will make them sweeter.
  4. Prepare the dressing. Mince the roasted garlic from the carrot tray into the yoghurt. Chop finely a handful of dil and add to the yoghurt. Season with a pinch of salt.
  5. Serve. Tumble the roasted carrots on a platter, I used a wooden slab. Pour the dressing on top of the carrots and enjoy.

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