Pindi Chole

Pindi Chole

Pindi Chole with Garnish

Pindi Chole is a very popular Punjabi chole preparation, that is served predominantly with puri and bhatura. It gets it’s name from Rawalpindi (now in Pakistan) from where it originated. Pindi Chole generally has a darker hue than the other chole preparations and it is a dry dish, with only a small quantity of the gravy coating the chana (chickpeas).

During Ramzaan, we daily have Chole in post-fast meals, primarily because chickpeas are a great source of proteins.Pindi Chole has a more elaborate preparation than the traditional Chole Masala. The highlight of the recipe is that the chana is cooked twice.Typical Pindi Chole is made only with chickpeas, but in my preparation I have also used kala chana (black grams). First, boil the chana in a pressure cooker with adequate water, salt to taste, 1-2 tea bags (for dark colour) and little bit of tamarind or amla (for sourness). This should take 25-30 mins on a medium flame. Meanwhile, in a kadhai, add oil and flavour with some whole spices (bay leaves, cloves, green cardamoms, black cardamom). Add finely chopped onions and cook until translucent.Add ginger paste and cook until raw smell goes away. Add the drained chana and season with red chilli powder, garam masala and chana masala (available pre-packaged). If the chana gets too dry, you can add little bit of the chana water that was used for boiling. Cook this for 2-3 minutes and finally garnish with tomato and onion slices, slit green chillies and coriander leaves.

Chana Dal Salad for Ramzaan

Chana Dal Salad

At home for Ramzaan , we usually have pindi chole along with chana dal salad.This is a very simple salad made with chana dal that is soaked overnight. The chana dal is mixed with finely chopped onions, diced tomatoes, chopped cucumber, chopped green chillies, lemon juice and salt to taste.

Pindi Chole can be either had alone or along with any bread preparations (roti, paratha, puri, bhatura etc). So do prepare this in your homes and enjoy it with your family :)

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Pasta Pomodoro

Pasta with Tomato Sauce

Pasta with Tomato Sauce

My Mummy and Italians have one thing in common. Both take great pride in their tomatoes :) . My mother creates a huge fuss whenever buying tomatoes, picks every single piece by hand, and rejects any tomato that has even the smallest patch of yellow or green :) .No one in our family has yet managed to wrap our heads around WHY she has such a fondness for tomatoes :) . Coming to Italy, some of the world’s finest quality tomatoes are grown here.Tomatoes are a common ingredient in most of the traditional Italian dishes and the quality of the tomatoes can make or break the flavour of the dish. Perfect Italian tomatoes are fresh, bright red and not too sour.

Pasta Pomodoro or pasta with tomato sauce is one of the simple and traditional Italian dishes. Tomato sauce can be prepared in several ways, and consequently this dish too has several varities. Check out my recipe for the tomato sauce.Also for the pasta, I have used the Fusilli variety. To make this dish, boil the pasta till al-dente. Take little bit of olive oil or butter in a pan, add the tomato sauce and cook for 2-3 min. At this stage, you can also add cream or grated parmesan cheese if you want the pasta to be creamy. Finally add the boiled pasta and season with Italian seasoning (dried oregano, parsley,basil,salt etc.). Pasta Pomodoro is ready to serve. And oh, did I mention..this dish is incredibly light and healthy :)

Ending this with a popular food quote

Tomatoes and oregano make it Italian; wine and tarragon make it French. Sour cream makes it Russian; lemon and cinnamon make it Greek. Soy sauce makes it Chinese; garlic makes it good.

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Egg Samosa

Egg Samosa

Egg Samosa

Samosa is not just a very popular Indian snack but also a very versatile one.Different parts of the country have different preparations for samosa. While in the north, aloo samosas are very popular, in the south, onion samosas find more takers. Samosas can not only have different kinds of fillings (potato, onion, chicken, mutton etc.), but can also be shaped in more than one unique way. Although predominantly a savoury snack, Samosas can also be prepared in the sweet form. Yes, in short I believe that an entire book can be written on Samosas :) .

But today, I am going to talk only about Egg Samosa. This recipe is straight from mummy’s kitchen, as I haven’t really come across it anywhere else :) . This used to be one of our “look-forward-to” and “eat-as-many-as-you-can” snacks in the Ramzaan meals :) .Preparation for egg samosas is a very simple, three-step process. First step is to make the scrambled egg (egg, chopped onions, coriander leaves, green chilli, salt) and allow it to cool. The scrambled egg should be properly scrambled and should not have too much moisture (so no tomatoes please!). Next step is to make the samosa dough (maida, little oil, water, salt). Last step is to roll the dough into roughly 5″ diameter, put the filling in center, moisten the circumference with water and then finally fold into a semi-circle, and tightly press the edges. Deep fry until light golden brown.

You can also get hold of special samosa cutters from the market. These cutters are basically used for getting more even and styled edges. Samosas can also be shaped as cones instead of semi-circles as I have described above.

For those of you who have never had this before, Egg Samosa may sound a little strange in the beginning. But trust me, when you eat it, you will be in heaven :) . So do prepare this in your homes too!!

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Movie Catch Up Time

I was skimming through my movie collection this week to kill time and found these three movies which I had never seen before. Generally, before watching a movie, I read the plot summary in imdb, just to make sure that it’s worth my time and interest. But since my broadband had ditched me , I dived straight in. And out of the three I saw, two were really good :) while one ended in regret….deep regret!! Here are the movie reviews.

Chariots of Fire (1981) : This is a sports movie, based on two British sprinters trying to make it big in the 1924 Olympics, the physical and emotional struggles they face while they prepare and their ultimate triumph. The theme song from this movie has a really catchy tune and it was played repeatedly in the London Olympics 2012. If you watched Bhaag Milkha Bhaag and felt let down by the over-the-top dramatization and pathetic editing, then give this movie a try. It does not take the audience on a make-believe emotional ride, but is inspirational nevertheless, living up to the adage of “short and sweet”.

The Last King of Scotland (2006) : This movie is based on the regime of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, who became  a household name for terror worldwide. The script weaves a fictional tale (loosely based on real life) set on the background of historical facts.A Scottish doctor who comes to Uganda to help the poor, becomes friends and then foes with Idi Amin, and narrowly escapes from the jaws of death. Now I had heard all kinds of horrible stories about Idi Amin(the jerk used to keep severed body parts in his fridge). Thankfully, the viewers are spared these gory details. The screenplay includes several violence scenes but little on human torture. Watch it, if you want to know more about Idi Amin.

Secretary (2002) : Now, this is the one I ended up regretting watching :( . This movie is about a young girl who is recently released from a mental hospital and who takes up a job as secretary in a law firm.Her relationship with her over bearing boss soon evolves into a typical Dominant Submissive Relationship, and that’s the underlying theme of the movie. Frankly, I had no idea where the movie was headed, until it was too late. I had a sick vomiting sensation for one whole day after watching this.However, if you are a fan of the Fifty Shades trilogy which has been on the best-sellers list for quite sometime now, then this movie will probably be worth your attention.

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The Godfather Weekend

The Godfather

The Godfather

Last weekend, the broadband connection in my flat went kaput! :( .Deprived of my primary mind/time/soul occupying agent, I settled down comfily with my portable hard drive which holds my prized movie collection. There was nothing better to do, as it was raining like dogs and cats outside. And I decided to watch Godfather, all the three parts, which promised to provide me with 9 hours of effortless entertainment.

This was only the second time I was seeing Godfather, a movie which I know all guys swear by, or at least the ones who consider themselves as macho ;) .Last time when I saw this movie, all I could remember at the end was the relentless and exhausting violence and bloodshed. This time I thought I would keep a watch out for the more subtler things.So I have compiled this list of quotes below, which I find kind of wise, witty and inspiring (btw, I love collecting movie quotes and dialogues :) ).And, I hope you would enjoy these quotes as much as I did :)

A man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man.

I’m gonna make him an offer he won’t refuse.

Mr. Corleone never asks a second favor once he’s refused the first, understood?

Mr Corleone is a man who insists on hearing bad news at once.

If anything in this life is certain – if history has taught us anything – it’s that you can kill “anybody”.

Finance is a gun. Politics is knowing when to pull the trigger.

Never hate your enemies. It affects your judgment.

It’s dangerous to be an honest man.

Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.

Power wears out those who do not have it.

Never let anyone know what you are thinking.

Your enemies always get strong on what you leave behind.

The higher I go, the crookeder it becomes.

It’s not personal. It’s business.

Friends and money are like oil and water.

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Pesto Pasta

Pasta with Pesto Sauce

Pasta with Pesto Sauce

I love everything that speaks, smells or looks even remotely Pasta. It’s not only my ideal comfort food but also my first preference whenever I have to cook something in a hurry. In fact, I am so addicted to it as a bachelor, that I may run short of rice and flour in my pantry, but Pasta will always be well stocked ;)

Simplicity is the corner stone of my food philosophy; and that’s what you have in Pesto Pasta. Pesto Pasta is a cold pasta dish and tastes best with spaghetti pasta. To make this, cook pasta till al-dente, drain and mix in the pesto sauce. Check out my Pesto Sauce recipe here. There’s no need to add any olive oil, as pesto sauce already contains lots of olive oil. You can also optionally sprinkle grated parmesan cheese(if you can afford it’s exorbitant price) on top, if you like your pasta with creamy texture. One can also add olives and cherry tomatoes to the pesto pasta for more variety.

Enjoy yummy Pesto Pasta with your family. It can be served as a main dish and is great for bonding over family meals.

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A Saucy Affair

Pesto Sauce and Tomato Sauce

Pesto Sauce and Tomato Sauce

I am a big fan of Italian cuisine, and sauces form a crucial component for a majority of Italian dishes. They are used for dressing meat and vegetable dishes and also for dressing my evergreen favourite dish, Pasta. Two such famous mother sauces in Italian cuisine are Pesto Sauce and Tomato Sauce.

The key ingredients for Pesto Sauce is Parsley leaves, few Basil leaves, a handful of nuts (preferably walnuts or pinenuts),garlic cloves (2-3), salt to taste and a good helping of olive oil (mind you, no water!!).All these ingredients (minus the olive oil) are first coarsely grinded in a mixer and then olive oil is added little by little, till the herbs and the nuts are finely grinded. A key tip to get the pesto sauce with perfect consistency is to add a generous helping of olive oil. Olive oil when used sparingly, makes the pesto sauce sticky and hard. And don’t worry about the excess oil. Olive oil is edible and considered as good for health.

As for the tomato sauce, there are several ways to prepare it. I have used the classic combination of tomato and basil.First immerse the tomatoes in simmering water for 5 minutes, then remove and peel off the skin .Now dice the tomatoes and cook in a pan with little bit of olive oil. Add a handful of fresh basil leaves and thinly sliced garlic (optional). Add salt and sugar to taste. Cook for around 10-15 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft.

Store the sauces in glass jars and refrigerate. They should stay fresh for at least a week.

If you have a busy lifestyle, then these homemade sauces are not just a money saver, but also a massive time saver. And when used as dressing for pasta, they taste just as yummy :)

I will soon be posting about my pasta recipes made using these sauces. Till then, Bon Apetite :)

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Gulgula

Gulgula

Gulgula

Gulgula is one of those rare sweet recipes which can be prepared in a jiffy. It is a deep fried, sweet snack which is very popular in north India. And as some of you may have already guessed, the concept is very similar to fried donuts :)

And now for the surprise ingredient. It’s not made from maida, which is used in most sweet and savoury snacks.And it’s not made from besan, the mother flour for all pakoda dishes. It’s core ingredient is Atta (whole wheat flour), the other Holy Grail of all Indian Flours :) . And since Atta is good for health, Gulgulas make for a very guiltless dessert :) .

To prepare gulgulas, one needs to first prepare the batter. The batter is made from atta(1 cup), sugar(1 cup), saunf, water, curd(1 tbsp), oil(1 tbsp), fruit salt(a pinch). The consistency of the batter should be thick enough(yet soft enough) to very slowly drip away from a spoon. Traditionally, Gulgulas are round in shape, but getting the perfect round gulgulas comes only with practise. To deep fry the Gulgulas, pour the batter from a spoon into the oil. As the batter slowly drips from the spoon and lands on the hot oil, it will form a rough round shape.Fry for around 5 minutes or until dark golden brown.

Gulgulas is one of those sweets which taste better when homemade. And if you are a person with a sweet tooth, then this is a must try dish. Trust me, Gulgulas, when prepared correctly, are unputdownable :)

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Aloo Bonda

Aloo Bonda

Aloo Bonda

Potatoes are very popular in the erstwhile state of Bihar in India, where I come from.Bihar is in fact one of the largest cultivators of potato in India. Hence in Bihari cuisine, potatoes form an integral part of a large number of dishes, almost as integral as onion is to Indian cooking.And one such dish is Aloo Chop, otherwise known as Aloo Bonda.

Aloo Bonda is a very popular snack and street food, especially in north India. When I was small, Aloo Bonda and Samosas used to be our favourite snacking items for the evenings, which we would purchase from the kinara shop.As kids, we simply used to love it! And my fascination with this dish continues even now :)

Well the recipe for Aloo Bonda is very simple. There are two components to the dish; the potato stuffing and the batter used for the coating. For the stuffing, boil potatoes in a pressure cooker for 15 minutes, then peel and mash them. Now take tiny amount of oil in a pan, fry some chopped onions and green chillies, add some coarsely crushed peanuts, and finally mix in the mashed potatoes. Add salt to taste and a pinch of turmeric powder (for yellow colour). Fry this for 5 minutes, allow to cool, and then shape into golf-sized balls. Next prepare the batter with 1 cup of besan, 1 tbsp of rice flour, a pinch of fruit salt, salt to taste, and any choice of powdered Indian spices. The batter should be thick enough to form a uniform coating around the potato balls. Finally dip the potato balls into the batter and then deep fry them for 3 minutes.Yummy Aloo Bonda is ready to serve!

I know people love to have competitions over gulab jamuns :) . I am ready to have one over Aloo Bonda ;)

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Bread Pakoda

Bread Pakoda

Bread Pakoda

Pakodas is one of those versatile Indian snacks which can be made from probably anything under the sun, including your regular sandwich bread. Pakodas with tea is an evergreen snacking item prepared in households as well as sold by street vendors.In fact, Pakodas would probably rank next after panipuri and chaat, in the popularity ratings for Indian street food.

So this brings me to the dish, Bread Pakoda. Bread Pakoda can be prepared in more than one way. The simpler way is what you can see in the picture above. Bread triangles are simply dipped into the pakoda batter and deep fried. In another variation, bread is used in sandwich form with a stuffing of mashed potato (the stuffing is upto your imagination), and is then dipped into the pakoda batter and deep fried. And of course, the bread can be cut into any possible shape.

The key to the flavour is the composition of the batter. In my recipe, I have used 1 cup of besan, 1 tbsp of rice flour (for crispness) and 1 tsp of fruit salt (for fluffiness). The batter can be seasoned with any of the regular Indian spices( chilli powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder, cumin powder etc. ) and salt to taste.I have added chopped coriander leaves for extra flavour and colour. The consistency of the batter is important to ensure even coating around the bread. Also the oil should be neither at very high temperature (uneven cooking) nor at too low temperature (bread will soak the oil).

I hope you will prepare this dish at your homes and enjoy it as much as I did :) .

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