Yesterday we made a salad of boiled eggs and potatoes and made this dressing to go with it. The salad BTW was eaten with a platter containing boiled rice, mutton boiled with spices, grated raw mango, mutton stock, raw cucumber sticks and a single large slice of batter fried aubergine.
Boiled egg yolks x6
Olive oil, 7-8 tbsp
Pepper, fresh ground, 2 tsp
Salt, to taste
Chives, chopped, 3 tbsp
Garlic, chopped, 10 cloves
Water, 1 – 2 tbsp per preference for dressing texture
Mix it all well
Mix dressing well with the potatoes and eggs, or whatever else you’re using.
If you don’t have chives, use strong onion instead. You could also use a blend of mustard oil and olive oil to get a similar short of sharpness.
Twelve years ago, I posted a dish called Pan Haggerty, about which you can also read a bit more here. Yesterday, for dinner, we made a slightly different version of this dish and it turned out quite nice.
This recipe was created for The Right Side of Life, a Safal community on Facebook. If you’re interested in eating healthier and involving food in different aspects of wellness, this is a group for you. We’re planning lots of activities and content for this group that I’m sure you’ll love!
I find quite a few of us don’t like the taste of mongre-aloo, conditioned as we probably are since childhood. This version has a very different format, thought the flavours remain somewhat the same and doesn’t need much attention, though it takes a while to cook.
The quantities of the ingredients are your call, as they depend upon the size of the pan you’re going to cook in, the number of layers you’re going to apply, the thickness of the slices and so on.
Mongre, washed and finely chopped
Potatoes (I used new potatoes that don’t need peeling), finely sliced
Cheese (I used Gouda and some mozzarella), optional
Garam masala powder
Take a non-stick, preferably heavy bottomed pan.
Add a layer of sliced potatoes to cover the surface.
Sprinkle the potatoes with salt (very important), chilli powder, garam masala and mongre.
If you’re using cheese, sprinkle some evenly all across
Repeat steps 2, 3 and 4 until the pan is full.
Place the pan on low heat, covered, until the top layer is cooked.
Serve directly from the pan to individual plates at your table.
On step #3, the salt is important as it’ll cause the potatoes to shed water, which will then generate steam, which will cook everything. Skipping layers with salt may result in uncooked bits.
Use a little salt per layer and remember the total amount will add up with each layer.
On step #6, if the top is cooked, likely the rest is cooked too.
At home, we’re good if the potatoes have a bit of bite, instead of being completely soft. Your call.
If you don’t have a heavy bottomed pan, or if you’re using a thin pan, or if your lowest flame is too high (as is mine), put your pan on a roti-tawa, as I’ve done in one of the pictures. This will prevent the bottom layer from burning.
Every so often, we meet up with missionaries from a certain Christian order and talk about the Holy Bible and related books. These missionaries are all bright young men, usually far from their homes and families, sometimes their countries, in addition to being polite, friendly and excellent company for discussions of this sort. Having been in their position decades ago, if there’s one thing I absolutely love doing, it is cooking for them.
One of these chaps was 19 years old, and had already lived away from his family for a long time, almost all on his own in the big, wide world. Made us reflect on how sheltered a life Cherie (17 yo) is living.
Two of these young men dropped by yesterday, and after we were done with our discussion, all of us trooped into the kitchen where they peppered us with questions (this was our first meeting) while I cooked for our supper. On the menu this evening, was a Spanish omelette, accompanied by coleslaw, buttered toast and Coke.
This recipe serves 6 as a light meal. The dish however is substantial, easy to cook, easy to eat and tastes quite good. It tastes good when cold/room temperate too, and is a good idea for a picnic or to carry on a train journey as the first meal unwrapped. Leftovers can be made into sandwiches, stuffed into pies or other pastry or rolled into wraps among other ideas.
2 Potatoes, large, diced
2 Onions, large, diced
1/2 Cup Chicken, boneless, chopped
10 Pods Garlic, chopped
Handful Coriander, fresh, chopped
2 – 3 Green chillies, finely chopped (optional)
10 Eggs, beaten
1 tsp Peppercorns, pounded
For the tadka / tempering
10 leaves, Kadi patta
1 tsp Black mustard seeds
1 tsp Ginger, fresh, finely chopped
Cheese, grated (optional)
Oil for cooking
Salt to taste
Non-stick frying pan large enough to hold the lot
To make it:
Immerse the potatoes for about 8 minutes in boiling water, then drain and let dry.
Heat oil in a pan, add the potatoes, stir from time to time, until cooked through.
Add onions, garlic, chicken, black pepper and if using, green chillies too. Saute for a few minutes until the chicken is cooked. Add the chopped coriander. Mix well.
Add the eggs, mix well and let the lot sit there, on a very low flame, covered, until the top is firm-ish.
Flip the entire omelette on to a plate and put it back into the pan, so what was on top, is now at the bottom. Do this a couple of times till the omelette is cooked from within.
If using cheese, place the cheese on top of the omelette and cover it so it cooks.
Flip the omelette onto a platter for serving.
Heat some oil, splutter the mustard seeds, then add the kadi patta and ginger, fry for a bit and pour it on top of your omelette.
Serve hot, with toast and tomato ketchup.
For step #4, if necessary, keep it the oven with the top element turned on. If you don’t have an oven, heat a roti-tawa really well, and place the tawa atop the pan, not touching the eggs, so its heat will cook the eggs from the top. The same methods can be used to melt the cheese in step #6.
If you want a classic omelette, omit the cheese, chillies, chicken and final tadka. Replace the coriander with flat leaf parsley.
We order all our seafood using this app called FreshtoHome. An order placed in the evening results in delivery between 9am and 11am, and I’m speaking of Greater NOIDA. Another reason I like using this app, is the variety of fish delivered is restricted to what they have in stock, and not what the local residents prefer buying.
This means, we have access to lesser available varieties of seafood, such as clams, mussels, shark and all manner of other species, in addition to their being fresh and free of preservative chemicals.
We picked up a batch of tiny clams this time. Remember to clean your clams thoroughly, including picking out bits of seashells as well as soaking them for a while in water so the sand that’s inside them can sink to the bottom. Even better was a suggestion from a friend, Apolina, a marvellous cook. She suggested they be placed in a sieve that’s partially immersed in water, so the clams stay on the sieve while the sand filters down.
How do they taste? If you’re new to seafood, clams are a great place to start, as they don’t have that strong fishy smell that quite a few sea creatures tend to bring along with them. Some of us, like me, think it’s an aroma, while others think it’s a stink. Your call. Clams have a bit of a bounce and in my opinion, must retain that bounce. They mustn’t be mushy or extra soft and all of that – do that to your red meat – cook the living daylights out of it, as contradictory as that sounds. Seafood? We have to be a little more delicate. So there’s a bit of a bite in clam meat, a slight bounce and a distinct aroma and flavour that you’ll come to associate with molluscs.
Cooking was quite simple. When using coconut milk, make two versions – one thin and the other, thick. The thicker one is used to finish the curry, while the thin one is for cooking. The thicker one is prone to curdling and must be treated delicately.
Tom yum paste, 50g
Onions, 2 large, sliced
Potatoes, 2 medium, diced small-medium
Coconut milk, thin, 500ml
Coconut milk, thick, 200ml
Oil, 2 tablespoons
Heat the oil
Fry the onions for a bit
Add the tom yum (or other) paste
Fry a bit more
Add the clams; fry
Add thin coconut milk and potatoes; mix well
Cover and simmer for 8 – 10 minutes while the potatoes (and clams) cook.
Add thick coconut milk and simmer for another 5 minutes.
Serve with hot rice.
Remember to clean them well.
Did I mention cleaning them properly is important?
I’m trying to post regularly, yet again, and want to try documenting the stuff we do in the kitchen. It helps to have something to refer to.
It’s Saturday and this is breakfast in bed for the girls.
When we spend more time eating from a platter with multiple ingredients designed to be eaten together and to complement each other, we take more care in choosing what we put in the platter and then have to contemplate nearly every bite. This results in slower eating, more conversations, more time spent together, smaller portions and ultimately, greater satisfaction.
The eggs were slowly cooked so the whites wouldn’t crisp up, which none of us like, potatoes were boiled and then grilled with the tomatoes in a grill-pan, broccoli florets blanched, broccoli stem trimmed and the tender portion chopped, cucumber sliced and a spoonful of olives to go with the potatoes.
A spoonful of spicy spring onion jam spread on a burger bun brought in a burst of flavour and was the central point of the platter. Freshly squeezed and chilled orange juice to wash it all down.
Altogether, simple to put together, interactive and easy to eat, all altogether satisfying. We realised later there was no meat on the platter and that’s a good thing. We’re trying to reduce our consumption of meats and such meals help.
Broccoli, florets, blanched
Broccoli, stem, trimmed and chopped
Potatoes, boiled, sliced and grilled
Tomatoes, halved and grilled
Eggs, very slowly fried and drained
Cucumber, peeled, trimmed and sliced
Oranged, juiced, with pulp
3 Spring onions, chopped
1 tsp Garlic powder
1 tbsp Balsamic reduction
1 tbsp Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Burger bun halves
Jam: Put all jam ingredients in a pan and cook to a soft mush.
And there I was, holding a fork bearing a clump of steaming risotto, trying to pay equal attention to the textures in the rice, the points of view wafting between the seated nine and being careful not to forget the wine. The risotto was perfectly done, not too mushy nor too hard, neither too cheesy or at all greasy and it went perfectly with the glass of white at my side.
I had walked into my host, Alessandro’s home, 20 minutes late, hoping he hadn’t started cooking, looking forward as I was to observing an Italian cook a quintessentially Italian dish in an Italian home. Commercial food at the end of the day is mass produced and cannot hold a candle to good home cooking, as much as they might dim the lights and glorify the chef. Fortunately, Alessandro hadn’t started on the risotto and a few minutes later, invited me into his kitchen.
A steel stockpot lay bubbling on the stove, a pile of frizzy, grated parmesan in a bowl alongside a little chopping board with sliced porcini mushrooms and another bowlful of soaked, drained and chopped mushrooms, just below a shelf with a glass container full of amber liquid – soaking saffron. The oven was cold and atop it was an aluminium roasting tray containing a thick tenderloin, tied with string, sprigs of rosemary jutting forth, the bottom of the tray covered with a roiling mixture of juices, wine and olive oil.
Beside it was a stack of plates with what looked like east European design, which I couldn’t help but fondle. “That Czechoslovakian dinner set was a present from my mother when I entered the diplomatic services”, said my host, noticing my interest.
In another corner was a kitchen scale laden with half a pack of Carnaroli rice. “I’m cooking for 10 people, so it’s 700 grams of rice”, said Alessandro, as he removed his jacket and stood in the middle of the kitchen rolling up white shirtsleeves. Preparing to make the first course of the evening, he quickly made the transition from diplomat to cook.
“You have to treat your risotto like your wife”, said the cook, “never leaving its side as it cooks and giving it all your attention until it is done”, and true to his words, he never left that pot for a single moment. “The rice must be touched as little as possible”, he added, in a somewhat contrasting addition to the ‘wife’ analogy.
There are very few sights as satisfying as watching a knob of butter melt in a hot pan and that’s what we started with. Moving on, the rice was toasted until the pot exuded the telltale aroma of roasting grain, at which point a few generous glugs of white wine were added. Some moments after, the cook shifted his attention to the bubbling stock pot. “The rice and the stock must be at the same temperature”, he murmured, as he ladled stock onto the rice, gently stirring around the edges until the stock was gone, leaving in its place a gentle creaminess that would be the high point of the dish later.
“I don’t like using too much butter in the house”, said the cook as he continued feeding ladle after ladle of stock to the rice, “but with risotto, there is no choice”. Simple words that highlight the importance of food, culture and tradition all at once. “Get yourself a spoon from that drawer there”, he instructed, “and taste some of this”, which I did. The rice wasn’t done yet, still bearing a bit of crunch, though it was getting creamier and I could taste the mild flavours of mushrooms, toasted grain and butter. I was looking forward to his definition of ‘al dente’. About 25 minutes after starting, the rice was pronounced done, saffron and mushrooms having been mixed in and word was sent from the kitchen to the guests, asking them to please be seated.
Then came the final and perhaps the most important step – the addition of large amounts of grated parmesan cheese and butter, the whole lot coming together to create a pot full of creamy, flavourful risotto. Turning his attention to the stack of plates, Alessandro ladled a portion of rice into each, smartly slapping the bottom until the rice spread out flat over the plate and passed it to Gloria, their cook, who garnished each platter with slices of porcini mushrooms and a few strands of saffron before sending it out to the dining room. A few minutes later, back in a jacket, the cook returned to being a host and we seated ourselves at the dining table.
So, there I was, eating fork fulls of that delicious, steaming risotto – creamy and buttery and cheesy and mushroomy, sipping a perfectly paired wine and quite content to sit back and listen to the conversation at the table.
Conversation is an underrated part of our meals, and judging by most couples I see dining out, a dying art too. Seated at our table were a historian, a hotelier, a bureaucrat and a food writer, mingled with a legation of diplomats, with perhaps three generations between the lot of us. The resultant waves of conversation were nuggets of experience, perception and opinion that one would be otherwise hardpressed to find – thoughts that were expressed with all the eloquence one gathers over a lifetime of living; every one at the table clearly had.
Our meal continued with slices of roast tenderloin, dollops of mashed potatoes, flavourful gravy, more wines and finished with a pie stuffed with delicately flavoured ricotta cheese and an assortment of chocolate truffles and bon bons.
I have no doubt there is finer food in my future, nor am I likely to find myself bereft of interesting company. Superlative versions of both however, at the right time, in the right place are unlikely to be found quite so quickly, making this an evening to remember.