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Delicious Pineapple Rasam

Pineapple Rasam

Traditionally when my aunt used to make pudachi vadi, she used to serve it with Srikhand – a very sweet rich creamy Indian dessert. I didn’t want to make or buy anything that rich but knew that we would need a little something a couple of hours later after eating the vadi’s.

Anand brought home made rasam recently when we met for dinner and I thought rice and rasam would be a perfect complement to the hearty pudachi vadi. A twist to the traditional rasam, a pineapple rasam is a sweet and sour soup that can be served as is or with rice and a dollop of ghee. Its one of those simple dishes that make weeknight cooking a breeze and yet with its variations (tomato, garlic, ginger, lemon, sprouts, beets or even leafy greens like spinach) keep the family enthused.

I used the ingredients on hand, left out the tamarind pulp and while the rice cooked had a piping hot soup, ready to be served. This is a no fuss recipe with ample of deviations from traditional cooking. Yet its full of flavor and perfect for cool spring evenings!

Pineapple Rasam Recipe

  • 1/4 cup toor dal + 1 cup water
  • Pinch turmeric powder
  • 1 medium tomato finely chopped
  • 3- 4 slices of pineapple finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon rasam powder
  • Pinch of hing or asafoetida
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 cups water

For the tadka or tempering

  • 2 teaspoon ghee or oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 2 – 3 whole red chilies
  • 1 spring curry leaves

1. Cook the dal with water in a pressure cooker with turmeric ( or in a saucepan with lid on for about 30 minutes till the lentils are mushy and disintegrate in the water.)

2. Add the tomato, pineapple, hing, rasam powder, chili powder and salt with remaining water and let this come to a boil. Lower to a simmer.

3. In a separate saucepan, heat some ghee. Add mustard seeds, red chilies and curry leaves and let them sizzle. Add this to the rasam saucepan. It will crackle as you add the seasonings and ghee to the soupy rasam. Let the mix boil for a few minutes.

Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.

Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with rice or as is as soup.

Kolhapuri Misal Pav

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It seems unreal to write a recipe related post when the city is still reeling in the aftermath of the two bomb blasts that shook Hyderabad. Last night around 7:00 pm, during peak hour, there were two bomb blasts in Dilsukhnagar area of Hyderabad. We didn’t know about it till messages started pouring on Facebook from concerned friends and family abroad. We watched live news, devastated about the blasts and in fear. Politicians and leaders made statements partly to cover their asses and party to blame others. It was a sad day worsened by politicians caring for their own benefit than the families in distress.

We were safe in our house and were relieved that our friends and family were safe as well. Today, life was like normal. Office, meetings, day care and even a Ship party. Guess, these things happen in India frequently enough that while you feel helpless and enraged you bounce back to normal quickly. In our safe cocoons of white-collar jobs, gated communities and elite day cares/schools, we don’t have to worry about the same things that a middle class Dilsukhnagar has to. Sad, but true.

So how do you tide over shocking news items like bomb blasts, horrific rape incidents and political apathy? You make friends and hold them close. Check on them and make sure that your little circle is safe. And be grateful that your little corner is safe this time from the general chaos. It helps even when life is less tumultuous. This is true regardless where you are.

One of our favorite recipes to go to when we had friends over in Redmond was Misal Pav – fiery dish from Kolhapur. Literally misal means a medley – a medley of sprouts, fiery kat sauce, crunchy farsan and assortment of toppings. We recently made it as its healthy, one-pot, vegetarian and can be customized a myriad of ways with multiple toppings. Its one of those dishes that taste better as they simmer longer and even better the next day as the flavors blend overnight. Its comforting, filling and nurturing. It can be made spicy or mild though fiery is its signature tone. Diced onions, tomatoes, lemons and crunchy farsan add to the drama of the dish and it can be easily tempered down with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt.

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A perfect companion to this is a crusty bread or a soft dinner roll to soak up all the gravy. Try it when you need comforting – from man-made or nature’s calamities: snow, storm or hurricane. You will feel better after having made it for your loved ones. After all its a dish that tastes better when its made with love.

Kolhapuri Misal Pav Recipe

  • 2 cups sprouts (moong, moth or matki, green peas, lentils, black-eyed peas etc)
  • 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • Dash of asafoetida or hing
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • 1 tablespoon garlic chopped
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon garam masala
  • Salt to taste

For garnish

  •  Farsan, sev
  • Coriander leaves chopped
  • Onions finely chopped ( optional)
  • Tomatoes finely chopped ( optional)
  • Lemons quartered
  • Yogurt
  • Kat ( recipe below )

For Kat or Spicy Sauce

Depending on how spicy you want kat,

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon each of chili powder , cumin powder, garam masala
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup water

1. Heat oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds. Once they crackle, add cumin, hing, curry leaves and let it sizzle for about 10 – 15 seconds. Then add the onions and let them cook for about  5 – 7 minutes till soft. Add tomatoes, chili powder and garam masala. Mix well and let cook till soft and well mixed.

2. Take about 2 -3 tablespoons of this mix and set aside to make kat or a spicy sauce.

3. Add the sprouts. Season with salt. Add a cup of water and let this simmer on low heat for 20 – 30 minutes till the sprouts are well cooked. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

4. For Kat : Take the onion- tomato mix in a separate sauce pan and sauté this in oil. Add water, chili powder, salt and garam masala. Bring to a boil and lower to a simmer.

Serve the misal piping hot along  the kat and garnish platter. Top misal with kat, lemon juice and farsan with a side of pav for a satisfying vegetarian meal.

Paneer in Tender Coconut Gravy

Ready to eat paneer in tender coconut

We had a fantastic weekend – the kind that makes you want to rewind to Friday night all over again. Sure, even on a mundane Monday I want to rewind to Friday night so I can make weekend special and different and not so routine. But today, after a weekend with friends and family, get-togethers, clinks of wine glasses, laughter and teasing, I want to savor it even more.

Friday night started with Varun’s favorite kaka and mavshi joining us for dinner. He was so over-joyed that he didn’t sleep till past midnight. On Saturday, after dinner and paan,  he went over to Sushil- Athika’s house with Krish bhaiyaa and Bhavya didi to sleep but came back after 15 mins as he missed his mama! Same story on Sunday night where post dinner with friends, he wanted to go home with Aarvin and told me to stay at home while he goes out. Made my heart skip a beat. He is growing fast!

Anyways, back to Saturday night dinner. Inspired by our Kolkata trip, I wanted to make something Bengali for Sushil- Athika. An accomplished cook and baker, Athika loves food. We love what she makes. Her recipes are so detailed that her husband, a novice, followed them to the T and came up with finger licking curries for her baby shower. Single handedly for 30 odd people on first attempt. Impressive!

Paneer in Tender coconut

I decided to make a vegetarian version of Daab Chingri or prawns in tender coconut shell. Soft paneer and red bell pepper for the color and crunch. Cooked with tender coconut meat and then steamed to a delicate perfection in the shell. Traditionally the curry is cooked in the shell in a water bath for an hour or so. But I decided to fake it and made the curry in the pan and then steamed it in water bath to let the subtle tender coconut taste seep through.

Paneer and tender coconut gravy

The subtle flavor of tender coconut is very refreshing. The texture and the aroma is a change from the typical Indian curries that are heavy with either cream or spices. Its smooth and almost sweet – a perfect base for fresh paneer , tofu and any other vegetables that you choose.

The presentation in green shell adds to the drama and makes an amateur fake a professional finish! If you really want to impress someone with least amount of effort this is THE perfect recipe. Try it for a special night or to for a dinner party or just to perk up a wintry weekend into a tropical delight! I am dying to make this again with prawns!

Paneer in Tender coconut shells being simmered in water bath

Paneer in Tender Coconut Gravy

  • 2 green tender coconuts – water ( 1 1/2 cups water) and flesh ( 1/4 cup) removed
  • 2 tablespoon mustard oil + 1 tablespoon vegetable oil or canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil ( for sautéing red bell pepper)
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 large bayleaf
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5 -7 green cardamoms
  • 1 green chilli finely sliced
  • 3- 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 inch knob of ginger root , peeled and then minced.
  • 3 small onions finely chopped
  • 300 – 400 grams paneer  or tofu
  • 1 bell pepper diced
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste

For the water bath

  • A large pot to hold both the coconut shells
  • 4 cups water

1. Carefully carve the top of tender coconut with a large enough opening so that you can fill the gravy back in. Also try to carve in a single piece and retain the head piece so it can be used as a lid while the gravy simmers.

Save the water in a bowl and then scoop out the meat with a spoon. Keep the water and the meat aside.

2. Heat both oils together ( vegetable oils cuts the bitterness of mustard oil). Once heated, add the mustard seeds, bayleaf, cinnamon stick , garlic and chopped green chilies. Let them sizzle and then add the onions. Fry the onions for a few minutes with the rest of the spice mixture till they are well cooked but not browned.

3. Take this onion spice mixture and remove the cinnamon stick and bay leaf. Blend it smooth with coconut meat and ginger root along with a cup of coconut water.

4. Add oil in the same pan and sauté the red bell pepper till they are partially cooked. Add the paneer and sauté it for about half a minute. Then add the pureed coconut mix to the pan. Add salt, a bit of black pepper and cinnamon stick and bay leaf that was removed before pureeing. Let simmer for couple of minutes. If its too thick add some more coconut water to thin it out. Taste for seasonings and adjust per taste.

5. Put the water bath on low heat. Take the gravy and fill it in the empty coconut shells carefully. Place the shells in the pot. Cover with lid and let it cook for about an hour.

The gravy stays warm in the coconut shells even after you take it off the heat. Serve with warm rice or pilaf.

Hyderabad Restaurants

As promised, this is the list of restaurants we have tried and tested and the ones on the wish list. We have tried these places for dinner and its been almost always ala carte.

I don’t go for buffets unless they are highly recommended or unless I like the place on a prior visit. Buffet’s almost always have poor fare and lower quality.

There are virtually no hole in the wall places primarily because we are still adjusting to Indian palate and I don’t want us to catch a stomach bug (especially Varun!).

Restaurants we love: If you are visiting us, chances are we will take you to one of this.

  • Ohri’s Tansen – Ambience, live sitar music, north indian food, impeccable service.Go early around 7:00 -7:30 pm to avoid crowds. Drinks and chaat are particularly good.
  • Urban Asia – Young and buzzing,live music, Pan Asian food. Make reservations for window side table overlooking the Jubilee hills traffic below. Salt and Pepper prawns and drinks are highly recommended.
  • Little Italy – Vegetarian, Italian thin crust pizzas, homestyle pastas and a decent wine collection. Love everything on the menu.
  • Westin Brunch @ Seasonal Tastes– Obscene variety and perfect opportunity to be wasted on drinks and food if you have nothing else to do on a weekend. Live music, awesome dessert bar and separate children’s play area with kids menu.
  • Four Seasons – Kebabs and Mutton Biryani. Go in a big group to taste the variety of this place can offer.Lassoni chicken kebab are highly recommended.
  • La Cantina – Mexican food by pool side. Strong drinks, nachos, and a delectable tres leches cake ever. Live music. Need I say  more.
  • N Grill – Patio dining on a balmy evening, European/Italian. Mostly businessmen,families. Patio was a hit with Varun. Service is slow but food is good.
  • Chutney’s – South Indian food. Period. Extremely busy and fast paced. Time at noon to avoid the morning breakfast/brunch crowd and lunch folks. Thali, idlis, wadas and traditional dosas are highly recommended.
  • Mainland China – Indo-Chinese, friendliest service.
  • Vadapav factory- Hole in wall, wink and you miss joint doling out vada pav in this southern city.
  • Sweet Nirvana – Pastries and bread (havent tried their European dinning restaurant)
  • Paradise – Mutton Biryani. Have to go here at least once.
  • Taj Falaknuma – High tea, palace, grandeur.
  • F Cafe and Lounge – Drinks , walking distance to home. Decent crowd and good music.
  • Park (Hyderabad) – Location, Views and Chicken Biryani!

Been there, done that, may not go again

  • Sahib , Sindh and Sultan – Setup in an old Indian railway coach. Mughlai food. Heavy and greasy.
  • Ohri’s Urban Tadka – Typical north Indian. Nothing that you don’t get anywhere else, but good for weeknight dinner.
  • N Asian – Liked it initially, but Urban Asia is better
  • Prego – Great Italian food, but pricey and pretentious. Mostly business folks
  • Dialog in the Dark – Unique dinning experience in the dark
  • Cakes and More – Run of the mill pastries, ho hum.
  • Subway, Kondapur – Slow service. Why should anyone eat here when there is four seasons right above it?
  • Hyderabad House – Chicken biryani and salaan was better than Paradise but it’s better as a take out place than eat-in.
  • Testa Rossa – OK food, great staff with kids. Smokers made us leave the place early though Varun had fun running around.
  • The Square @ Novotel buffet – Pricey, OK food, OK variety. Westin is a better bet in that price range.
  • Ista – Multi-cuisine. Went for burgers which were OK. Will go only if Microsoft pays for it.

Wish List – Can’t wait to try these

  • Cinnamon Fusion – Multi cuisine
  • Angeethi – Indian
  • Ohris Serengeti – Indian
  • via Milano – Italian
  • Bikanervala – North Indian, chaat, street food
  • So Restaurant – Continental/European
  • Kibbeh Lounge- Lebanese
  • Taj Krishna – Brunch recommendation
  • Sigree – North Indian
  • Khaan Saab – Hyderbadi food and Biryani
  • Kerala Kitchen – Kondapur , Kerala cuisine
  • Pista House – Haleem, Highly recommended.  Almost always get sold out within an hour of availability.
  • Shadab – Biryani
  • Yellow Spice – Loved the one in Powai, Mumbai.

Have any recommendations that we must try? Drop a comment below!

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