Food for Thought

It’s Time For Me To Hibernate

Hi Everyone!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on the blog and the reason for that is- I’m a little under the weather. I’ve got a stubborn case of tonsillitis, and its been keeping me from being my usual happy self, so I have decided to take a little break from blogging until next month. I’ll finally be done with my endless assignments and exams so it’s going to be a fresh new start AT HOME! Gosh, it’s going to be great, I can almost smell the freedom!

Meanwhile, I’ll definitely be dropping into WordPress from time to time to read your lovely posts and make sure I’m updated with the latest. Thank you for all the love and support, everyone. It means the world to me.

Awesomeness coming your way in a month’s time! Stay tuned.

With Love & Lots of Butter,

Little Chef

Advertisements

Breezy Breakfast Bowl

Dear Foodies & Friends,

These past few weeks have been long and rough, but I finally decided to take a breather and head out to the city for some lunch! I can’t tell you how AMAZING it felt to get away after being cooped up in one place for so much time. The day was bright and sunny, and my hair danced with the breeze. Not even the crowded bus ride afterward could rain on my happy parade.

You know those cravings you sometimes get that just don’t go away no matter how hard you try? Well, for the past few weeks all I could think about were some plump, juicy momos. Luckily for me, my boyfriend is a wonderful, understanding person (It’s also possible he wanted me to stop saying ‘momo’ in a sorrowful voice every few hours :P) so he agreed to come with. Lunch was SO yummy, and definitely worth the wait. I gorged myself silly.

It’s that time of the year when I start feeling a little homesick. I haven’t really been home for more than a day since the semester started, and my little brother flew the coup to start college too, so mum is on her own now. We’ve got holidays coming up in about two weeks and I CAN’T WAIT TO GO HOME!!  Back to mum’s cooking, the kitchen, sprawling over The Cranberry (my ruby red bean bag) and of course seeing my amazing, goofy friends. I’m just counting down the days and already have a list ready of some recipes I want to tackle.

Breakfaaaast!!

Speaking of mum, one of the ground rules in our house has always been eating a healthy, ginormous breakfast. If we didn’t, we weren’t allowed out of the house, even if it meant getting to school late! It’s a habit that’s stayed with me, and I try to make sure I don’t skip morning meals. Now, during the week that’s not such a difficult thing to do, but on the weekend, it’s a nightmare. I’m a couch potato and usually wake up after breakfast hours are over at the mess. So lately, I’ve taken to buying some ingredients ahead of time so I can put together a decent meal that’s delicious and convenient. That’s how this recipe came about. I’ve always been fascinated by colourful breakfast bowls, and though there are limitations on the fancy ingredients one can buy on a student budget, I decided to go ahead and give it a try. This is my humble, healthy, and super easy version of a complete breakfast bowl. It’s delicious, and mom approved. Doesn’t get any better guys!

IMG_0476

Breezy Breakfast Bowl

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients

IMG_0493 (2)

  1. 1 Cup of vanilla or strawberry yogurt
  2. 1 Cup of oats (I used strawberry-apple)
  3. 1 Banana
  4. 1 Tablespoon of shaved almonds
  5. A handful of cereal (I used mango stars, find them here)
  6. About 3 ripe plums/ or strawberries (they weren’t in season)

Directions

1504511642192-01-01

STEP 1: Cook the oatmeal according to the instructions on the packet, with milk rather than water so that it comes out nice and creamy. Dilute it a little if you think the oatmeal is a bit gloppy. Let it cool to room temperature.

IMG_0473 (3).JPG

STEP 2: Pour the yogurt over the oatmeal and smoothen the surface. Top with the cereal, banana, almond, and plums (or berries). Try to arrange everything so it looks nice and pretty, et voilà! Bon Appétite! 🙂

IMG_0476 (2).JPG

P.s. Use coloured yogurt if you can find it!

I took this bowl around my hostel and it was empty in no time! 😀

A Very Stuffed Omelette

Dear Foodies & Friends,

Exams are OVER! I’m so happy and relieved at the same time. Finally some semblance of normalcy. On the downside, my sleep pattern is all out of order. Last night I woke up at three in the morning, and spent a good hour walking around the corridors listening to music. You can imagine how zombified I was this morning. The weather here is no help either. It’s at least 30°s C (79° F)  in Hyderabad at the moment and humid too. So far my solution has been to gulp down liters of water, which on hindsight hasn’t really helped, since I now feel like a disoriented stuffed balloon, and no one likes repeated visits to discrepit public bathrooms.

I know, I know, the sensible thing to do would be to keep the door open and get some ventilation going, but we have around a dozen cats roaming about, and for some reason they can’t resist the urge to hide under our beds. They sit there meowing in great contentment (no doubt hatching surprise attacks upon our poor unsuspecting souls ). On other occasions they sneak into cupboards and nestle themselves comfortably in our belongings. This dog lover is not pleased. Hostel life, I tell you.

If you’d like to know more about some of our past animal-related adventures (or fiascos dare I say?) click here. They’re hilarious I promise, in the most catastrophic way.

Stuffed with cheesy veggie goodness!

Moving on to these AMAZING eggs! I made this dish at the start of the semester but never got around to posting it. My friends have been requesting it for ages! It’s a stuffed vegetable omelette with lots of cheese, and perfectly soft, golden eggs. Delicious! I love how versatile eggs are, scrumptious in just about every cuisine! They even look adorable (Humpty Dumpty comes to mind, poor Humpty). I have so many memories of egg-decorating for Easter, and lots of fun hunting around. The smell when I’d find a rotten one hidden away though? Ooof, disgusting.

Getting back to my recipe! This dish is hearty and great for every occasion. And just to throw in another plus? It’s pretty as a picture. You’ve got to try it. 😀

Nom!

Stuffed Omelette

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Print

Ingredients

Eggs In a Pan

  1. 4-6 Eggs (depending on the size)
  2. 2 Tomatoes plus a few cherry tomatoes, for a little burst of flavor
  3. 1 Onion
  4. 200gms of Mushrooms
  5. 100gms- 150 gms of Spinach
  6. Salt
  7. Pepper to taste
  8. A Teaspoon (or two) of milk
  9. A knob of butter
  10. 2-4 Slices of Cheese
  11. Sriracha (optional)

  

Directions

Pretty as a Picture!

STEP 1: Whisk together the eggs, salt, pepper, milk and set aside. In pan, add some butter and oil to a pan and fry the onions and mushrooms until they are both golden brown and well caramelized. Remove and keep aside till needed.

Ingredients

STEP 2: Wilt the spinach lightly making sure not to overcook it, the lightly fry the tomatoes, just to remove the raw edge. Clean the pan and add in a knob of butter. Pour in the eggs and swirl around. When they are partially cooked, add in the slice of cheese, and vegetables.

Bon Appetit!

STEP 3: Fold over the omelette (Make sure you aren’t clumsy like me and get burned in the process), and remove from heat. It will cook through in the residual heat. Make sure the eggs don’t brown, or they will be overcooked. Toss some cherry tomatoes through a little olive, salt and pepper, sprinkle on some parsley Et voilà! Bon Appétite! 🙂

P.s. Add some sriracha on top for a spicy kick!

Aloo Sabji [The Potato Life Chose Me]

Dear Foodies & Friends,

Exams are right around the corner and I am FREAKING out! I’m still utterly clueless and confused about everything, so hopefully by some miracle (or two), and with several mugs of hot tea, things will fall into place. Hopefully. I’ve had to take on some additional responsibilities on campus, so I apologize for not replying to all your lovely comments. I have read each and every one of them ❤ and I can’t express how grateful I am for all your support.  Once September the 1st rolls by you’ll all receive a reply. I promise.

IMG_0626

For now, here’s the final recipe in my Rasam rice trio! Aloo Sabji (Potatoooes of course!) It’s been a while now, so just reminiscing about it is making my mouth water! These exams can’t get over fast enough, I tell you. Soon I’ll be back in my little faux kitchen ❤

Beans poriyal

If you haven’t read my previous post on the most coconutty green beans, catch it here! I LOVE vegetables, and potatoes are high on my list of favorites. Aside from the few little oddballs (I love you guys too) in my life who aren’t fond of these scrumptious little tubers, the world loves potatoes! So this recipe is for all you happy folks out there. Enjoy and help spread the love for Indian food! 🙂

IMG_0641.JPG

Aloo Sabji

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  1. 4-5 Small potatoes or three large ones
  2. 1 Teaspoon mustard seeds
  3. 1 Teaspoon cumin seeds
  4. A few curry leaves
  5. 1 Onion, finely chopped
  6. 2 Large garlic cloves
  7. 2 Tomatoes
  8. 1 Teaspoon of garam masala
  9. Half a teaspoon of chili powder
  10. Half a teaspoon of amchur powder (dried mango powder)
  11. Quarter teaspoon of turmeric
  12. Salt to taste
  13. A few coriander leaves
 

Directions

IMG_0626

STEP 1: Fry the mustard seeds, curry leaves, cumin and chili. Add the finely chopped onion and garlic to the pan. When the onion is translucent, stir the potatoes, and a few tablespoons of water to speed up the cooking process.

STEP 2: Add in a quarter teaspoon of turmeric powder, amchur (raw mango powder),  and half a teaspoon each of garam masala and chili powder. Mix well to incorporate all the spices.

IMG_0639.JPG

STEP 3: Let the potato cook through, before adding the tomatoes in the last few minutes of cooking. (Not before the potatoes have had atleast 20 minutes in the pan), garnish with a few coriander leaves, Et voilà! Bon Appétite! 🙂

Green Beans & Lots of Coconut

Dear Foodies & Friends,

Back in June during the last week of my vacation, I went slightly loco in a supermarket and bought lots of colorful plates and bowls for the blog. Thanks to baggage constraints, much of it was left at home. I have been teased on many occasions for packing so much luggage, it’s hard to tell if I’ve brought clothes or snuck in a human or two.  No apologies though! Plating up is so much more fun when you’ve got colorful cutlery. If only I could have brought it all.

I can’t be trusted in places full of produce, cooking items and of course, bookstores. I’d love to be in one right now, slumped in a bean bag, nose stuck in a book, sniffing happily at the smell of fresh parchment (alright, maybe that last part sounds a little creepy, but I’m sure there are others like me right? Let me know, all you book loving people out there!) Anyhoo, I digress.

Last week I promised to put up some recipes of side dishes that I made for dinner along with rasam and rice. If you haven’t read that post yet, do check it out here! It’s delicous!

Beans poriyal

Today’s recipe is ‘beans poriyal’. It’s a dish with tender beans cooked with fresh or lightly roasted coconut and is a staple in every South Indian household. I haven’t met a single person who doesn’t love it. Every time my mom makes poriyal at home, I ask for extra coconut over the top, so you can bet I was pretty generous when I cooked it myself! 😛 Here’s the recipe.

Beans & Coconut

Beans Poriyal

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Rasam, beans karamadu & Aloo Curry

Ingredients

  1. 150 gms of green beans
  2. 1.5 tablespoons of fresh or toasted coconut
  3. 1 teaspoon of mustard seeds
  4. 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
  5. Half a teaspoon of dal
  6. 1-2 chili peppers
  7.  A few coriander leaves
  8. A few curry leaves
  9. Salt to taste

 

Directions

Contrast!

STEP 1: String the beans and chop it into small pieces. Set aside. Heat some oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds, jeera (cumin seeds), the curry leaves, chili and dal. Fry until the seeds pop and the curry leaves give off a wonderful scent.

Garnish!

STEP 2: Add the beans to the pan with some water so that the vegetables cook through. This ensures that the beans don’t brown or burn. Season generously with salt. Mix the coconut through, top with some coriander leaves, Et voilà! Bon Appétite! 🙂

True Love is a Steaming Hot Bowl of Rasam.

Dear Foodies & Friends,

FINALLY. After a three-week slump, some introspection and a lot of self motivation (“you will STOP being such a potato”) I’m back on the blog with my favorite recipe in the entire universe! Rasam with steamed rice (and vegetables, but we’ll leave those for a future post or two! 😛 ).

Rasam & Kai

Things here on campus seemed to be heading towards an endless downward spiral. The whole disaster started off with half the girls in our hostel falling sick. None of us could figure out why, but there were likely many causes- the water, and highly unpredictable weather being just a few. Anyway, after spending days in bed, moaning like a zombie, and dressing without a care in the world I was in no mood to confront work and classes. I guess you could say it got a little too overwhelming. Cooking is my favorite form of therapy, and while I have been doing some of it now and then, I didn’t want to put anything up until I really felt like I could give it my all. This is my passion and I really want to be able to do it justice. So I decided that taking a little sabbatical to sort my fuzzy head out wouldn’t be the worst idea. And noooow, back to the FOOD!

Rasam has always been my favorite dish in the entire world. It’s a tangy, mildly spicy soup (for lack of a better word) served with a vegetable side dish (or dishes) and rice. Every time I go home it’s the first thing my mom puts on the table, and it’s absolute perfection. I feel like it’s got some kind of special healing powers; One bowl of rasam when I’m  sick, and things instantly feel so much better. Also, did I mention just how delicious it is? My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Here’s the recipe!

Rasam, beans karamadu & Aloo Curry

RASAM

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Rasam.

Ingredients

IngredientsRasam!

 

Directions

Isn't it perfect?

STEP 1: Cook the lentils in a pressure cooker, or if like me you don’t have one, then simmer it for ages (approximately 30-45 min) until it’s well cooked and combined.  The lentils cook really quickly in a pressure cooker so do use one if you’ve got it. For the rest of you hostel/student folk, bare with me! This dish is worth all the time it might take.

Just a bit of Garnish!

STEP 2: Add the spices, salt, and chopped tomatoes into a pot along with the water and bring to a boil.  When the tomatoes have broken down and the spices are well combined, pour in the dal and simmer for a further ten minutes.

IMG_0604

STEP 3: For the final garnish (tadka), heat the ghee/butter till smoking point, then add the mustard seeds (you know they’re ready when they explode with a popping sound), the jeera and the curry leaves. Pour over the rasam with a few coriander leaves Et voilà! Bon Appétite! 🙂

 

A Lazy Lemon Tart

Dear Foodies & Friends,

A lot of my recipes involve a little trip down memory lane and this one is no different. During the holidays when I was younger, we would head over to Washington D.C to visit my cousin. These were sight-seeing trips, so every day we’d have an itinerary planned, to visit The Smithsonian, Washington Memorial, the aquarium and so on. My aunt would  pack us little snacks and goodies for the journey, and off we we’d go. Of these, my favorite were her little lemon bars. They were gooey, crumbly, lemony perfection and I’d asked for them all the time. It’s been years since I’ve had one, but the memory of them is so vivid I can almost taste it. Since then, I’ve moved on to lemon tarts, cakes and macaroons!

I love all things lemon (read my Lemon Cake recipe here for more!) and this recipe was something I made when I had a real craving for some yummy lemony goodness, but no patience to muck around making an actual tart shell. It’s fun, less time consuming, and easy on the pocket too; perfect for a student lifestyle (or any other for that matter! :D)

Here’s how you make it.

LEMON TART

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Lemon Tart
Now if I could just transfigure it into a lemon bar 😛

Ingredients

Ingredients

 

The whole tart!

Directions

When life gives you lemons!

 

STEP 1: To make the lemon curd, mix together the lemon juice, zest, butter and sugar in a heatproof bowl. Place over a water bath so that the curd can cook in indirect heat. Whisk together the eggs and combine with the mixture. Stir often so that the eggs don’t scramble, and the curd forms a thick, glossy consistency. Remove from heat and place in a refrigerator to cool.

Lemon Tart

STEP 2:  To make the faux-tart, roughly grind the biscuits (I used a rolling pin and a ziplock bag) and combine them with the cinnamon, sugar, butter and vanilla. Line the sides of your dish and blind bake. Set in the fridge to cool.

Just a yellow blob
Looks like a giant scotch egg! 

STEP 3: When both elements have cooled down, spoon the lemon curd into the tart shell and place it back in the fridge to set and become more firm. Take it out when you’re ready to serve, Et voilà! Bon Appétite! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Moving Mountains & Shifting Hostels

Dear Foodies & Friends,

After a blissful, annoyingly short stay at home, I’m back on campus and in a new room. The past few days have been so crazy and intense. We had to move out of our hostel to make way for the new batch of first year students and I had a LOT of luggage and knick-knacks.

The journey down two flights of stairs and up again, laden with suitcases fit to burst any second amidst the many cats, toads and centipedes was already horrible. To make matters worse, there were extra kitchen supplies, dirty laundry and random objects (why do I own so many?) that I lugged up in a giant jute rucksack.  I must have looked like a skinny, harassed Grinch. Not all for naught though, there was light at the end of the tunnel- a bigger room!

IMG_20170621_211533-02

Light up the room!

That’s right folks. I’m now the proud resident of a room that’s about a foot longer than my old one. Every inch of space is precious to me, especially with my little food dreams, so this makes me quite happy. I’ve already started getting things in order and decorating my side of the space with lights, posters and other funky things. This arrangement is going to be in place for year, after which we get our own single rooms. 😀My wall!

I AM SO EXCITED! I’ve really taken some time out to figure out where I see myself in the next few years and what I want to do with my life. Everything seems to point towards a career in food. It’s my biggest passion and I love being able to use my love for art and creativity and combine it with cooking. Don’t get me wrong, I am enjoying my law courses, but after a lot of introspection I’m not sure if I see it as a fulfilling path to follow. Being here right here, right now though, I’m going to give it my best, and really concentrate on my work. During my downtime, I’ll cook my heart out. I’ve already got plans for a little kitchen corner! We’ve got a long weekend coming up soon, so there’s gonna be lots of cooking.  The challenge now is to come up with innovative, delicious recipes that are hostel friendly and set some goals so that I can balance the two contrasting spheres of my life. This is an exciting time for me, and I’m so happy that I have you all to share it with. Stay tuned for more food and craziness!

With love & lots of butter,

Little Chef

A Slice of Apple Pie

Sometimes I wish I could take my favourite memories, experiences, feelings and just bottle them up. I’d visit them whenever I want, like a pensieve of sorts (forever a Harry Potter fan). One of the wonderful recollections I’d include in this fantasy bottle of mine would be Christmas morning in Ohio. Every year I’d wake up to the heady, sharp, and tangible smell of cinnamon mixed with the aroma of bubbling apples. Outside, the ground would be covered in an endless sea of delicate white, and some of our neighbours’ lights would still be on in the wee hours of dawn. On some of these days every year, we would try to bake an apple pie. I say try, because most of the time it turned out to be a hilariously epic failure, albeit a delicious one. We never could get the pastry right! So instead, we’d scoop out the apples and eat it like a crumble. At some point we stopped making apple pies altogether.

My Childhood Home

I started this blog last December, to celebrate my love of food and cooking. Ever since then I’ve tried to recreate some of the food I already love, and experiment with recipes that I’ve never tried before. This apple pie is one of many such concoctions. The poor thing is a bit deflated because I didn’t use as many apples as I should have, and looks a bit unseemly in my photographs, but I LOVED IT!! Even disasters can produce sweet little successes, and this one’s mine.

1497204301986 (2).png

APPLE PIE

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Print

Ingredients

Untitled

Screenshot_20170611-223126 (2)

 

Directions

A Slice of Pie

  1. For the rough pastry: Mix the flour and cold butter together in a chopper. Lumps are fine; they make the pastry light and puffed up. Slowly add in the water. You only want enough to form a workable dough. Do not overwork the pastry. Wrap it in clingfilm and refrigerate to firm up.
  2. For the apple filling: Peel and chop the apples, adding them to a pan with a giant pinch of cinnamon, a few drops of vanilla, brown sugar and a dusting of nutmeg. 
  3. To assemble the dish: Roll out the pastry, using extra flour to make sure that it doesn’t stick. Place one half of it to form the bottom layer. Blind bake for about 10 minutes just to make sure that the pie’s filling doesn’t make it soggy. Top the pie with the other half of pastry and decorate it as fancy as you’d like! Et voilà! Bon Appétite! 🙂

Apple Pie

Ratatouille with Fresh, Clean, Well-Seasoned Perspective

I fell in love with Disney Pixar’s film Ratatouille the first time I saw it. It was quaint, and artistic; a passionate celebration of food and France. I was one of those little kids who had imaginary friends and tea parties. Silly I know, but it gave me comfort. In my mind, that’s exactly how I saw Gusteau- a comfortable looking version of Casper the Friendly Ghost, complete with his starched white chef’s hat. I imagined him popping up beside me, rotund like Humpty Dumpty, providing little tidbits of advice and comfort. I’d present my dish to a raptured group of diners and like a play, the curtains would close to the sound of a thundering applause.

Well, none of that theatre and flourish ever happened, but I did finally make Remy’s recipe. It still transported me to dreamland, and made me truly appreciate the essence of the film. Even the most humble of foods can be a masterpiece. As Chef Auguste Gusteau said, “Good food is like music you can taste, color you can smell. There is excellence all around you. You need only to be aware to stop and savor it. With those happy thoughts, here’s my recipe for the perfect Ratatouille. Just like in the movie.

Untitled (2)Ratatouille

STEP 1: To make the sauce for the base, roast the bell peppers over a low flame until the skins are charred. Peel and set aside. Fry the onions, garlic and ends of the vegetables (waste not, want not!) with the fennel seeds and rosemary. Blitz to form a fine puree. Screenshot_20170525-222329 (2).png

STEP 2: Using a slicer, chop the vegetables into fine circles. The finer the vegetable, the easier it is to mould it into the desired shape. Spoon some of the sauce over the bottom of the tray and lay a round of each vegetable, overlapping them to form spirals. Roast in the oven at 180 C, till the vegetables are cooked through. 

Screenshot_20170525-233957STEP 3: This is the really fun part! Get yourself a mould and fill in the ratatouille in a circular motion, topping it off with a section of vegetables (eggplant, zucchinis, and tomato) Place the mould over a plate and gentle ease it off. Finish off with a generous smothering of sauce around the ratatouille. Garnish with some chive or basil,  Et voilà! Bon Appétite! 🙂

Screenshot_20170525-221955.png
Couldn’t resist an excuse to get my furry book into the picture