Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Pav bhaji

Pav bhaji is nothing but a mish mash of vegetables that is simmered in onion and tomato sauce and spiked with a wide variety of spices. To me, the Pav bhaji is much much more than just a snack or a fast food. It is a quick meal that can be made in a hurry or that can be grabbed on the go. It is that perfect combo meal of butter toasted rolls and a vegetable gravy which again has oodles of butter? Still with me?? Good!!

This dish almost always takes me back to my growing years in Bellary. My sister and I would frequent this fast food joint. This joint was actually a small push cart with "Himalaya Paani-Puriwala" written in bold letters. To us girls, he made the best street food in the world. Even to this day, I cannot think of anyone else who makes a better kachori chaat than he does. Apart from his Kachori chaat, one thing that we really enjoyed was his Pav bhaji. 

The memory of "bhaiyya" (that's what we called him) making the bhaji and toasting the rolls on a huge skillet is still fresh in my memory. First he would place this skillet which was at least a foot and a half in diameter on a kerosene stove and add a very large dollop of butter. Then went the vegetables and then went this pre made sauce. We would watch in awe as bhaiyya mashed the vegetables and the curry changed color right before our eyes. Then he would tear a packet of rolls, slit them and slather them with butter. And these rolls would be roasted on the same skillet along side the bhaji. To me, it was nothing short of magic. All my senses would come alive and by the time the pav bhaji would be served, we would be salivating.

As I said earlier, to me Pav bhaji is a full meal. I normally make Pav bhaji for dinner and round it off with a huge glass of lassi. If you think the quantity of the bhaji is a little too much, then do not fret. Because they taste even more delicious the next day. With enhanced flavors, they can be eaten either with rotis or sandwiched between two slices of bread. The recipe that I share today was given to me by a friend in Dar. I have made quite a few changes to her recipe. I have made this quite a few times and it has always been a hit with my family and friends. I really do hope you like it!!

Pav bhaji recipe:
Preparation time: 20min
Cooking time: 25min
Serves- 4

Ingredients for the bhaji:
Butter- 3tbsp
Onion- 1 large, finely chopped
Ginger- garlic paste- 1tsp
Potatoes- 2 large, peeled and cubed
Carrot- 1, large, peeled and cubed
French beans- 10, chopped
Cauliflower- about 12-15 florets
Peas- 1/2 cup
Bell pepper- 1 small, finely chopped
Tomato- 3, 1 finely chopped and two pureed
Salt- to taste
Sugar- 1/2 tsp
Turmeric- 1/4tsp
Paprika powder- 1tsp
Pav bhaji masala- 1tbsp
Black salt- 1/2tsp
coriander leaves to garnish

For the Pav:
8-10 ladi pavs
Butter to toast the pavs
Pav bhaji masala - optional

To serve:
One large onion- finely chopped
Coriander leaves to garnish- 1tbsp
Lemons- 2 chopped into wedges

For the bhaji-

  • Heat butter in a thick bottomed pan and add the chopped onion. Once it turns transcluscent, add the ginger-garlic paste and fry till the raw smell goes.
  • Add the potatoes, carrots, beans and peas and fry till they are tender.
  • Stir in the Cauliflower florets, chopped bell pepper, salt, sugar, turmeric and paprika powder and sauté for 3-4mins more.
  • Add the chopped tomato and tomato puree, mix well, add two and a half cups of water and cook covered till the vegetables are completely cooked.
  • Mash the mixture with potato masher. Add the pac bhaji masala and black salt and mash some more.
  • Allow the bhaji to simmer for five more mins. If you feel the mixture is thick then add half cup of water and allow the mixture to cook for two mins more.
  • Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with toasted PAv
For the Pav:
  • Slit the Pavs vertically and spread butter generously on the insides of the bread.
  • Place the pac buttered side down on a pre heated skillet and toast till brown and crisp.
  • Turn the pac and toast on the other side as well. Use more butter if required.

To serve:
  • Place a cup of bhaji, two toasted Pavs, chopped onions and lemon wedges on a plate.
  • Top the bhaji with extra butter and pav bhaji masala if required and garnish with coriander leaves and serve immediately.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Chunky Minestrone Soup

It's winter in my part of the world. The days are shrouded in fog and mist and the nights are chilly and dry. These days, you can find me drinking piping hot rasam Rather than eating it with rice. Evenings are spent curling up on my favorite couch and sipping on coffee or tea. Apart from all these, I am constant looking out for recipes that will warm up my cockles. This soup was a result of one of those searches.

The minestrone soup which literally means "big soup" is one of those classic winter soups that will instantly warm you up to the bones. A tomato based soup, that can be made without any set recipe. Yes!! It's true. Just throw in a lot of veggies and beans and some pasta into the tomato broth and soup is done. Isn't that simple? I think with this soup, you can't really go wrong. The only thing you have to pay attention to, is not let the vegetables get mushy. They have to be tender but never over cooked.

The best part about this soup is that, you can vary the vegetables that go into it. Don't be afraid to include left over greens or beans into it. This soup is a great way to empty the vegetable bin in the refrigerator.

Since this soup is filled with vegetables, cheese, beans, and pasta, it can make a complete meal all by itself. Just pair this with some sliders or any crusty bread and I assure you. You will the most hearty and a nourishing meal ever.

Chunky Minestrone Soup recipe:
Preparation time: 20 min
Cooking time: 15mins
Serves- 4

Macaroni or fussili pasta- 2tbsps, cooked and drained
Olive oil- 2tbsps
Bay leaf- 1
Onion- 1 med, finely chopped
Garlic- 2 cloves, crushed
Tomato- 1 med, finely chopped
Salt to taste
Black Pepper powder- 1/4 tsp
Paprika powder- 1/2tsp
Tomato puree- 1/2 cup
Carrot- 1 small, cut into cubes
French beans- 3-4, cut into cubes
Finely chopped Cabbage- 2tbsp
Red Kidney beans- 3tbsp, cooked and drained
Sweet corn kernels- 2tbsps
Red, yellow or green bell peppers- 2 tbsp, diced
Dried mixed herbs- 1/4tsp
Parmesan cheese to garnish

  • Heat oil in a thick bottomed pan and add the bay leaf and the chopped onions and fry till the onion turns pink.
  • Add the crushed garlic and fry till the raw smell goes. Stir in the chopped tomato and fry for a min till it turns soft.
  • Add the salt, pepper, Paprika powder and the chopped vegetables and fry for two mins more. Add half a cup of water and allow the vegetables to cook till tender.
  • Stir in the red kidney beans, sweet corn kernels and the tomato puree and allow the mixture to cook for 3-4min more.
  • Add the cooked pasta and cook for a minute more and take off the heat.
  • Ladle the soup into individual bowls. Garnish with shaved or grated Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.
  • If you feel that the soup is a little too thick, then add more water or stock till you get the desired consistency.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Two grain honey Granola

This granola is our new breakfast flavor. We just can't seem to get enough of it. If I reach out for this healthy mixture for breakfast, S reaches out for this as and when he pleases. He says it just tastes great as a snack. I can't tell you how gratifying it feels when S says that. I have been making granola for quite some time now. Earlier, I used to make this granola for a long time. But after I moved to Nairobi, I came across Barley flakes. That was when I decided to experiment more with Granola. I have experimented a lot with different flavors and nuts before coming to this recipe. This mixture is something that S said was the best. 

Although this recipe is great, it is not a hard and fast recipe. This is more like a template that can be customized in a hundred different ways to suit your tastes.

This granola is crunchy. Very crunchy. If you have this for breakfast with some fresh fruit and milk/yogurt then you are sure to be satisfied for a long long time.

Two grain Granola recipe:
Preparation time: 1hr
Baking time: 40min
Makes approximately- 12 cups
Serving size- 1/2 cup

Old fashioned Oats- 3 cups
Barley flakes- 3 cups
Nuts- 1cup, chopped and lightly toasted (I used a mixture of almonds, cashews and Pistachio)
Pumpkin seeds- 1/2 cup
Sunflower seeds- 1/2 cup
Salt- 1/2tsp
Honey- 2/3 cup
Oil- 2/3 cup
Vanilla essence- 2tsp
Dried fruit- 1 cup (I used a mixture like dates, figs and apricots)
Golden raisins- 1/2 cup
Dark raisins- 1/2cup


  • In a large bowl, combine the ingredients from oats to salt and mix well.
  • In another small bowl, combine the honey, oil and vanilla and mix till well blended.
  • Add the liquid mixture to the oats mixture and mix well with hands. Make sure that mixture is well combined
  • Line a baking sheet with Parchment paper and spread the mixture in an even layer and bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 30-40min or until golden brown, stirring every ten minutes.
  • Allow the granola to cool down slightly before stirring in the dried fruit. Let the mixture cool completely before storing in airtight containers.


  • If barley flakes are not available then substitute with wheat flakes or equal measure of oats.
  • Make sure to use old fashioned oats. Quick cooking oats destroys the texture of the granola.
  • You can spice up the granola with spices like cinnamon or cardamom powders.
  • If you prefer chunky and clumpy granola then do not mix the granola while baking. Press the wet mixture with the back of the spatula before baking. After baking, the granola can be removed from the pan in chunks and stored in airtight containers.
  • You can add orange zest to the granola if you prefer some citrus flavor.
  • Make sure that the nuts are not toasted too much as they can burn while baking.

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