Vangi is the Maharashtrian name for eggplant or brinjal, or baingan as it is known in Hindi). This is a Maharashtrian recipe that uses a spiced paste to stuff the vegetables. Use the shiny, oval, deep purple Indian eggplant for this dish. You can also use the striped variety. And as Mum says, the thornier the stem, the tastier the eggplant!
One of the highlights in Italy were abundant black tartufi that we sampled almost every other day in meals such as pasta, risotto and scrambled eggs. Local grocers sold an array of merchandise ranging from truffle infused cheese, spreads and meats to truffle-flecked pasta and bread. There were even bitters made from tartufi called “Amaro al Tartufo”. As a nod to my husband who is besotted with everything fungi, we drove through the Crete Senesi region, where we visited the sleepy town of San Giovanni d’Asso to visit the ‘Museo Del Tartufo’. It was unfortunately closed for the afternoon siesta, and the one lonely person we met in the village (who presumably was heading for his siesta), couldn’t tell us if and when the museum would open again for visitors.
Naan is flatbread that is a staple in North Indian cuisine. Traditionally cooked in a clay oven, it is smeared with butter or ghee before serving, and torn into bite size pieces to scoop up curries and vegetables.
I tasted these mock clams at a vegan restaurant and loved them! The next day, I experimented cooking up a batch of oyster mushrooms and was delighted with the way the ‘clams’ turned out! The coating was airy and crisp, and there was a pleasant crunch to it. The texture of the mushroom inside was almost similar to clam strips
One of my favourite ways to cook salmon – an exotic outcome with the least effort. You can leave the skin on the fillet as I sometimes do, in which case, bake it to a crisp for a delicate crunch.
A delicious, bright green soup that feels good all year round. Don’t shirk away from extra effort to zest the lemon – that’s what contributes to the soup it’s liveliness.
From North India, tandoori chicken is either served whole or as large chicken pieces to be eaten with a bread called naan. Both chicken and naan are baked in a clay oven, called a ‘tandoor’. Alternatively the chicken can be cooked in an oven or in a grill (a charcoal grill is the best for this!).
While in Genoa, we sampled Ligurian ‘focaccia’ which was almost nearly similar to the flatbread called ‘schiacciata’ (literally translated ‘flattened’ bread) which we ate while travelling through Tuscany. Seasoned with olive oil and sea-salt, then baked in an oven, it’s characteristic little dimples capture the olive oil and herbs. Crisp at the bottom, but soft on the inside, its toppings ranged from savory (onions, mushrooms, ham or olives) to sweet (honey, figs).
Genoa’s alleyways or ‘caruggi’ in the centro storico or historic center spread in an oval from the harbour and aquarium north to Via Garibaldi and the Piazza de Ferrari. This network of caruggi, too narrow for cars, and often even for a sliver of sunlight to pierce through, teems with people all day through. Cafes, wine-bars, trattorias, groceries and bakeries abound, and the aroma emanating from the wood burning stoves in the focaccerie or bakeries mingles with that of fried fish, coffee and more.
This was a tradition in our home for as far as I can remember – Shrove Tuesday (rather, Pancake Tuesday as I preferred) falls on the day before the season of Lent commences. On that day, I’d return from school to find my mum preparing a batch for the family in the kitchen. Soon, I’d be savouring a plateful of this warm, sweet delicacy – the sweet, succulent filling of fresh coconut and raisins spiked with green cardamom, encased in a silky, soft wrapper. With a cup of hot tea on the side. Jaggery imparts a rich taste to the filling, and I prefer it to using white sugar.
Indians cook a variety of pulses, which include dals (lentils) and beans, and are eaten almost every day as an accompaniment to steamed rice & wheat breads. Predominantly a vegetarian society, it depends largely on cereals & pulses as the main source of protein & energy. ‘Pancharatna’ means Five Jewels, and this stew used five (skinless) varieties of lentil.
This is my mum-in-law’s recipe and is a great accompaniment with basmati rice and daal with a few papads/papaddums on the side. Although Mama Kay is vegetarian, she has cooked the most delicious non-veg food for us. This recipe has some flavors from Tamil Nadu in South India – she attended college in Madras.
There are many fancy juicers available in the market with juice and cleansing diets becoming so popular, but I’ve been using an old Oster blender that was bought initially for crushing ice. It blends the vegetables and fruits fine, and although there are some miniscule bits of fibre here and there I don’t mind consuming them, at least I am not throwing the good stuff away.
1/2 medium cooked beet, chopped
1/2 apple, chopped
2 cups chopped Swiss chard (green, red or rainbow)
1/2 tsp grated ginger
Juice of 1/2 a lime
3/4 cup water
- Place all ingredients in a blender. Adjust the amount of water to create a drinking consistency that you prefer