Wednesday 30 July 2008

Whats My Poison - Filter Coffee & CLICK

As I have already mentioned here, I have only recently started drinking tea. I was a compulsive Coffee drinker before that and Barista and Cafe Coffee Day were my favourite places to hang out. In fact we (read college friends) used to meet at CCD almost every weekend. Apart from catching up with each others' lives, general chit chat and pulling each others' legs, mugs after mugs of Coffee were consumed, sometimes a combination of Hot & cold. Mocha, Latte, Espresso, Capuccino, Mochachillo, the Frappes, Kaapi Nirvana (an award winner according to them), Irish Coffee, Chococcino, Tropical Iceberg, Arabian Heights, I could go on. I actually remember all these names (some very generic ones) even after so many years!

But Filter Coffee is what I like the best. Although we used to have Filter coffee at home occasionally, I was brought closer to it during my stay with N & her family. Manni's filter Coffee is what I crave for even now!

I like my Coffee to be strong but at the same not overwhelming. I also like a fair amount of milk & sugar in it. Black Coffee is not for me. I remember this Coffee Vendor at Vashi Station (Mumbai) where we regularly stopped for a hot cup every evening after a strenuous day in our Engineering College. I always specified the kind of Coffee I wanted. 'Coffee bhi zyada aur Cheeni bhi zyada' (Strong as well as with a generous amount of sugar)

Since moving to London, I have Instant Coffee (Nescafe Original) at home and Freshly brewed Coffee at every chance that I get to go to a Cafe (Costa being the favourite & Starbucks comes in a close second). Since GM prefers Tea to coffee, I never thought about making filter coffee for just myself, but I missed it.

I was missing it so much that I brought a Coffee filter, the last time I had gone to India. The Steel one with two compartments, one for the coffee powder and water to be put, and the other to collect the decoction.

Picture 319

To make filter coffee (2 cups), take about 3 tsps of the Coffee Powder (the qty depends upon the kind of Coffee powder & your preference for light/strong coffee), in the upper compartment of the filter.

Boil 3/4 cup water and add it to the powder. Place the inner cover on the bubbling water & coffee mixture and press down a few times.

Picture 301

This bubbling Coffee Decoction is my entry for this month's CLICK, where the theme is Coffee & Tea.

Cover the filter, so as not to let the aroma escape, and wait for the decoction to percolate into the lower compartment, usually takes about 5-10 min.

Heat 1 and 1/2 cups of milk, adding sugar as required. Once the milk is boiling, add the collected decoction to it and only heat for a few seconds and take off the fire. Pour into cups or for a more authentic feel, into small steel tumblers and enjoy!

The decoction is not supposed to be heated, but I prefer to add it to the heating milk as I like my Coffee piping hot and adding the decoction later on to the milk makes it lukewarm.

The choice of the Coffee powder depends entirely on personal choice. Back in India it was MTR and another local brand, the name I have forgotten (Should remember to look it up the next time I am there). Here I chose a Coffee powder, produced in Zimbabwe for the sole reason that the 'Best Before' date for this one was the farthest (still only 2 weeks once the pack was opened) :)

Anyway, the coffee was good. Strong, aromatic and flavourful. So much that GM nowadays opts for Coffee instead of Tea if I offer to make it Filtered!

Tuesday 29 July 2008

Bharli Vangi

Translated in English it means Stuffed -

a) Brinjal - If you are in India

b) Aubergine - If you are in UK

c) Eggplant - If you are in USA

I am really baffled by this. How can the name of a vegetable change so much in the same language(English) as you change countries?

All my life I had referred to them as Brinjals. So when I moved to London and came across 'Aubergines' I thought these might be of a different variety, maybe the long, slender ones were called that. But I found that its the same old Brinjal with a fancy new name!

Another example is the Courgette. Thats Zucchini for you in the US. I have never seen this in India at my local market, so I don't know what it is called over there. I had once bookmarked a recipe to try, which called for Zucchini. I went & searched for it everywhere, not knowing exactly how it looked. While looking for it I passed the 'Courgette' shelf more than a few times but came back home without any 'Zucchini' ! I googled for its image and thats when I found out that they were the same!

Since I have always known it as Brinjal, I will continue with the same name in this post :)

Brinjal is not a favourite with many people. Same was the case with me, but stuffed-Brinjal was always an exception. Even D, who was a chronic Brinjal hater did not mind the stuffed variety. Ofcourse he only had the 'rassa' (gravy) and never touched the Brinjal!

This recipe is considered to be a traditional Maharashtrian dish, made differently by each household. I have never had the same tasting Stuffed-Brinjal at any two places. Here I am sharing my mother's recipe.

Serves 2


  • 4-6 Small Brinjals (Aubergine/Eggplant)
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 1 Tomato, finely chopped
  • 2 tblsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 6-8 Curry leaves
  • pinch of Hing (Asafoetida)
  • 1 tsp Haldi (Turmeric Powder)
  • 2-3 tsps Goda Masala
  • 1-2 tsp Red Chili powder
  • Salt


Mix the chopped onions, tomatoes, 1/2 tsp Haldi, Goda Masala, Red Chili powder and salt to form the stuffing for the Brinjals and keep aside.

Remove the crown of the Brinjals and make cross sectional slits and keep them immersed in water to prevent discolouration.

Stuff these Brinjals with the prepared Onion-Tomato Masala.


Heat oil in a kadai. Splutter the mustard seeds and add the curry leaves, hing and haldi. Put in the stuffed Brinjals and any remaining Onion-Tomato Masala and fry for sometime.

Add 1/2 cup of water or enough to cook the Brinjal. Cover and cook until the Brinjal is cooked. Sprinkle finely chopped Coriander leaves and turn off the flame.


This bhaji tastes best with Bhakri but can also be had with Chapatis/Phulkas. The best way to have it is by mixing some curd with it. The cool & sour curd compliments the spicy Bhaji very well.


Another variation to this recipe includes adding roasted crushed peanuts. This adds a lovely flavour and also helps in binding the gravy together.

The Goda Masala used here is the traditional Maharashtrian Masala Powder, the recipe for the same will follow soon. In absence of this masala any other all purpose masala can be used but the taste will certainly differ.

I am sending to this to Srivalli's Curry Mela.

Friday 25 July 2008

The humble Kanda Pohe

This is essentially our Weekend, or to be precise Saturday, Breakfast. Why weekend? Because thats when we have enough time to sit & relax and savour these tasty pohe. Why Saturday? Because once the weekend arrives, we can not wait till Sunday for this :)

A classic Maharashtrian/North Karnataka snack or breakfast item, Pohe is also a major feature during alliance meetings, so much so that such meetings are humorously referred to as Kanda Pohe :)

For me, Kanda Pohe is as homely as food can get. Agreed that it features on a lot of restaurant menus, but I just cant imagine anyone going to a restaurant & placing an order for Pohe! But I was pleasantly surprised on my recent trip to India when en route from Pune to Nasik, I saw this eatery/joint which served Pohe, only Pohe!They claimed to be the only ones to do so and I would not challenge it at all! The place looked very similar to the ones serving Wada pav and I still regret that we didn't stop for a bite.

Simple, quick to make (10-12 min) and wholesome, this is a tasty option which even serves as lunch for me occasionally when I am alone at home & do not want to cook anything else.

Serves 2


  • 1 tblsp Oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 6-8 Curry Leaves
  • 2-3 Green Chilies, chopped
  • A few peanuts (Optional)
  • 1 medium Onion (Kanda), chopped
  • 1/2 tsp Haldi (Turmeric Powder)
  • 2 cups Thick Pohe (Beaten Rice)
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • Salt


Wash the thick Pohe under water, twice and set aside. This will result in the pohe getting soft & fluffy.

Heat the oil and add the mustard seeds. When they start spluttering add the curry leaves and Green Chilies and saute. Add the peanuts and fry.

Add the chopped onions and fry till they turn translucent. Add the Haldi and mix properly.

Meanwhile add the salt & sugar to the now fluffy pohe and mix well.

Add these Pohe to the tempering and mix properly. Cover and cook on sim for 3-4 minutes.

Add chopped coriander leaves, mix and cover & cook on sim for 2 more minutes. Turn off the heat and add a dash of lime juice and mix. The Lime juice is optional but it adds flavour to the Pohe and for us its a must!


Serve hot garnished with Barik(thin) Sev or any farsan and grated coconut.

Note: Many variations to this recipe are possible. One can use red chilli powder instead of the green chilies, add chopped tomatoes after adding the onions, use finely chopped potatoes (batata) instead of the onion (Kanda) and so on.




Thursday 24 July 2008

The making of Ghee & an award

Ghee (Clarified butter), Toop in Marathi & Tuppa in Kannada, forms an integral part of Indian food & cooking.  A traditional meal during festivals, weddings or special occasions is considered incomplete without a generous serving of ghee over rice, payasa (kheer) and a few other such dishes. Ghee even finds itself in the day to day meals in most of the households in India.

The tempering(Tadka) is taken to a whole new level when the oil in it is replaced by Ghee. Try a tempering with Ghee instead of oil for Dal fry or Kaatachi Amthi(Kattina Saaru) and you will know the difference.

Many delicacies such as Mysore Pak, Besan Laddoo, Shira(Suji Ka halwa) etc get that distinct taste only because of Ghee.

And then there are those which just can not do without a serving on ghee. Puran Poli, Moogachi Khichadi, Dal Baati, Varan-Bhat etc.

And how do you get this Ghee? Back in the villages, it is unimaginable to 'buy' ghee. It is always made at home with fresh butter which also is home made. But it is not always possible with the packet/bottled milk that we get in the cities(Mumbai in our case) barring a few brands such as Gokul. My mother in law for example always makes butter at home(in Pune) & subsequently the ghee.

To make butter, the cream floating on the milk  after boiling it, is collected for a few days till the quantity is substantial. This cream is then churned to get butter. The churning can be done manually using a ladle or a 'ravi' (used to make buttermilk/taak/chaas) or in a mixer on a medium speed setting taking care not to blend the butter in the process! The cream has to be churned till the butter separates and only water is left behind.

This butter is then heated as described later to get the ghee.

When its not possible to make butter at home, we used to get the butter from the market and then make the ghee at home. But not any butter would do. The quality & the taste of the ghee is entirely dependent on the type of the butter used. We used to go searching for the right kind of butter until we found a dairy in Dadar, which sold 'Belgaum Loni', (Belgaum is a district city in North Karnataka where my native place is located and Loni means butter in Marathi) which is the closest to the home made butter in our villages.

When I moved to London, this was the biggest difficulty I faced - getting the right kind of Ghee. Getting the ghee alone was a task in the first place. Most of the Indian stores here supply Ghee but the choice is limited to just 2-3 brands. After having tried all of them, I compromised with the one which was most readily available, since taste was not a criteria at all as they were all the same. There was a point where we were so fed up of the substandard ghee that we stopped using it in our food altogether. This did have a plus point as I did not have to worry about the calories at least from one source :) but as mentioned earlier there are times when Ghee is an absolute necessity.

So I was really happy when my friend N (staying in US) mentioned about making the ghee at home! Her idea was simple - use the unsalted butter available in the super store. I tried this a while back and it has been a regular with me since then.

I use Lurpak unsalted butter and find that not only is it very close to the Ghee being made using Belgaum Loni back home, but it also is more economical than buying readymade Ghee. I use 1 Kg of butter and that yields almost the same amount of Ghee.

Melt the butter and heat it on a medium flame.


While heating the butter, some scum will be formed on the top. This has to be removed from time to time.


The butter has to be heated until it turns into clear yellow golden coloured Ghee.


Strain and store in dry bottles.

The residue left behind is called Ghashi in kannada and I dont know of any of its use but we liked to eat it and actually fought for it!

And now for the award. Easycrafts of Simple Indian Cooking has given me the Friendship Award. Thank you so much EC.


I am passing on this award to:

Swapna, Raaga, Siri, DK, Srivalli, Nags, Pooja, Arundathi & Sandeepa.




Tuesday 22 July 2008

Mixed Dal

There are times when you just don't want to eat the same old regular stuff, thats when you start thinking about how you can spice up things and come up with a new/different dish. After all Necessity is the mother of invention! And if that dish turns out to be a healthy one all the more better!

One such necessity led me to pick up all the Dals/lentils  available in my kitchen and this mixed Dal was created. Now since there are so many lentils and a couple of legumes involved, this is a protein rich dish which will have me hunting for even more lentils & legumes when I make it again and this time it will be a deliberate attempt and not one born out of necessity :)

Serves 2



  • A mix of various lentils & legumes, I used the following in equal quantities
    • Chana Dal (Chickpea)
    • Masoor Dal (Split Red Lentil)
    • Toor Dal (Pigeonpea)
    • Moong dal (Split Green Gram))
    • Lobhiya (Black eyed Beans)
    • Whole Moong (Green Gram)
    • Whole Urad (Horsebean)
  • 2 tblsp Ghee (Clarified Butter)
  • 1 tsp Jeera (Cumin seeds)
  • 1-2 pinches of Hing (Asafoetida)
  • 1 tsp Haldi (Turmeric powder)
  • 2 cloves of Garlic, chopped
  • 2 Green Chillies, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 tsp Garam Masala
  • 1 tsp Coriander Powder
  • salt


Pressure cook the Dals till tender.

Heat the ghee in a pan and add the jeera. Add in the hing & Haldi. Add the garlic & chillies and roast.

Throw in the onion & tomatoes and cook till the tomatoes are soft. Add the Garam Masala & coriander powder and mix well.

Add the cooked Dal, salt and some water and cook till the Masala is incorporated into the Dal.

Add chopped coriander leaves and turn off the flame.


This tastes great as a side with Roti/Phulkas and Bhaji and can also be paired with steamed rice.

This protein packed Dal is my entry for Eat Healthy-Protein Rich event hosted by Sangeeth at Art of Cooking Indian Food.