All I was thinking about during my looooooong flight to Mumbai, “The deliciousness I’m going to eat”. As expected our short trip was filled with yummy food, love, laughter and much needed family-time.
Disclaimer: This post does not capture all the deliciousness we ate!
My five favorite meals during my recent trip to Mumbai:
Simple savory rice crepes (neer dosa) are my mom in-law’s specialty. The cherry on the top was learning how to make sambhar (spicy tangy daal with veggies) from my father in-law!
2. Traditional Malvani-style crab curry at Mom’s.
3. Shrimp fritters, sheekh kebabs and dhanshak at ‘Sodabottleopenerwala’ Restaurant.
A newly opened restaurant that mainly serves Parsi food with great decor and ambience. Menu was innovative, tasty and interesting! Kolmi Fry – onion fritters stuffed with spicy marinated shrimp; the minced lamb kebabs were succulent and finally the Parsi special Dhansak was served in a stackable tiffin lunch box set with caramelized rice and salad!
4. Cheese Pav Bhaji at a local restaurant (the staff was busy watching cricket on tv).
My guilty pleasure. Lots of grated Amul cheese.
Fresh crusty buttery bread (pav). Spicy vegetable curry (bhaji).
Nostalgia. Took me back to my college days.
5. Bangda Bhattu (Indian mackerel fish masala) at Panna Mami’s.
Freshly ground byadgi mirchi*.
Marry and become Bangda Bhattu.
*spicy dried red chillies
Opposite of holidays. Weekdays in January.
Opposite of Christmas baking. Wholesome ingredients.
Opposite of staycation. Work travel in full swing.
Few weeks into 2016 and I’m craving some healthy comfort food in a bowl.
For most Indians — daal with white rice is comfort food and a staple diet. Growing up I was never a fan of white rice (#tastepreferences). Daal — I loved and enjoyed by itself like soup. One can argue that since I was eating everything else it really wasn’t a big deal. My mom learnt the trick though — she realized I loved biryani/pulao i.e. rice preparation with spices, veggies or meat! And that’s how it all started my love affair with rice preparations.
There are literally infinite permutations and combinations of making daal and rice. My favorite pair – panchmel daal [daal made using 5 (panch) types of pulses (lentils, peas or bean etc.)] and makai ki khichdi [makai = corn; khichdi = rice cooked with turmeric and mild spices]. You can easily substitute any type of rice you have in your pantry – I typically use brown rice. It is an adaptation of a regional favorite from the state of Rajasthan in India. Rajasthan is where the ‘Thar desert’ is located in India — the regional food is influenced by ingredients available in the arid region.
The panchmel daal and makai ki khichdi combo completes the trifecta – simple, flavorful and healthy! Even if you make daal-rice regularly this pair is the way to go to take it up the notch. Don’t you love a dish that is versatile enough to be easily doable on a weekday (“comfort food in a bowl”) but has complex flavors deserving a spot at a dinner party? Trust me the ginger-green chilli flavor will leave a lasting impression on your taste buds!
I’m sure you can enjoy the panchmel daal with simple white basmati rice and corn khichdi by itself (or as a side) but for me it is a pair that should always be together! Try it and let me know what you think.
Adapted from: http://www.sanjeevkapoor.com
MAKAI KI KHICHDI
*the recipe calls for five different daals – feel free to use any that you have in your pantry!
Looking forward to (even) more travel foodie explorations in 2016!
Happy Near Year everyone — from myfoodsquare.
These are a few of my favorite things
Baking croissants, Yoga, sing-along, charades
Pictionary, Sound of Music
Austrian food, Vermont
von Trapp lodge, mountains, with my wonderful team
My most memorable travel work week so far!
The Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, VT is owned and run by the family whose story inspired the famous Hollywood classic, Sound of Music.
It was truly an Austrian getaway – the lodge is nestled in the mountains and still managed by the Trapp Family.
The drive up there was gloomy, rainy and a little scary (driving in heavy rains with trucks and mountainous roads can be intimidating to say the least) — but I made it just in time for our team baking class! Croissants baking to be specific. We learnt it takes 3-days to make buttery, flaky, heavenly croissants . Our instructor had graciously prepped the dough so we were able to “fast-forward” certain steps.
They baked it for us and we were able to enjoy them for breakfast the next day — after our relaxing team Yoga class (overlooking the mountains)! I have heard, read benefits of doing Yoga in a group — but I experienced it as well.
We enjoyed most meals onsite except one night we tried a local wood-fire grill place called The Bench in Stowe. The menu at the lodge has Austrian/European influence including homemade sausages, speciality cheeses and finally, desserts – apfelstrudel and black forest cake (from the bakery where we learnt to make croissants).
There was live piano music, Sound of Music sing-along, my first snow for this season, holidays in the air and we watched the Sound of Music movie one night! It was magical.
On my way back home I made two quick stops – Ben & Jerry’s factory tour and Lake Champlain chocolates — both are proud to be from Vermont and location-wise they are just few miles from the lodge – down the mountain, before getting on the freeway so literally on the way. I enjoyed free sample of the sweet cream & cookies ice cream (Ben & Jerry’s) and picked up spicy hot chocolate (Lake Champlain) for my ride home.
Until next time — Trapp Family lodge and Vermont in general — I was intrigued, mesmerized and nostalgic — such fond memories. Will be back soon!
myInspiration for holiday baking this year:
Recent trip to Vermont.
Light dusting of snow.
Clearly Vermont left an everlasting impression on me. More about my Vermont trip in an independent ‘travel’ post. It deserves that recognition.
These cakes baked in mini-loaf pans are pretty for holiday gifting. I was able to give individual gifts to both my work teams and some friends. They look and taste awesome!
A note from a co-worker sums it up pretty well, “I wanted to thank you so very much for that lovely little cake that you sent home with us! It was delicious, so light and just sweet enough. And that little pan you put it in I am using for nuts, to put out when I have guests. So very thoughtful.”
For me this cake takes me back to simple, uncomplicated desserts and I relish every bite. The Christmas tree cake topper makes it look so festive!
Adapted from: Silver Palette Cook Book (cake) and toppers.
WHITE WINE CAKE
CHRISTMAS TREE TOPPERS
WHITE WINE CAKE
CHRISTMAS TREE TOPPERS
I love lentils. I should clarify. I love lentils now. My sister S adores lentils – masoor aamti along with (as she would say it), “hot hot” rice. One of our favorite family story is when she was 6 years old she woke up in the middle of the night crying. Apparently she forgot to eat masoor aamti with rice! Since then whenever my mom cooked masoor aamti she made sure S ate it with rice to her heart’s content!
I, on the other hand, loved sprouted vaal usal (field beans curry). It deserves a separate post since it is a popular regional speciality. Tedious prep work but still my favorite! S hated it.
Around the same time (I was probably in 3rd or 4th grade) I stopped eating masoor aamti. I can’t seem to remember the exact reason besides the fact that we each had our favorites.
Few years later I finally gave in and went for a cup of masoor aamti. The tomatoey-spicy concoction has a meaty and rich flavor that was and still remains memorable. I couldn’t believe it — I stayed away from it for years!
Now that I’m a genetic counselor by profession I am intrigued how genetics plays a role in our taste preferences. I came across an interesting article on the Smithsonian website called, “The Genetics of Taste”, that concludes genetics, nature and of course nurture play pivotal roles in what we enjoy and avoid!
My favorite the sprouted vaal usal (field beans curry) I have to say has a mild bitter taste. Our tongue carries a receptor called TAS2R, some people carry a ‘sensitive’ form of this receptor and are able to taste bitter chemicals. The TAS2R gene might explain whether we enjoy certain veggies with open arms or move them to the side of our plate. A version of the gene in turn can play a role in our sweet preferences!
My masoor aamti dilemma though was not resolved. If we have “bitter genes” and “sweet genes” I’m sure we have “sibling rivalry” one as well!!
Masoor aamti is a perfect weekday recipe! Any kind of lentils need some time to soak in water to speed up the cooking process — doesn’t have to be too long. To work smarter I typically soak it in the morning before I head out to work and cook them in a pressure cooker (2-3 whistles) or use slow-cooker in the evening. The cooked lentils then get mixed with the spiced onion-tomato mixture I describe in detail below.
The recipe I’m sharing uses a slow-cooker (crockpot) – the thought of lentils simmering in the spices is comforting and perfect as a soup for the wintery months ahead!
To learn more about genetics and taste check out:
Adapted from: myMom’s recipe[recipe title=”Masoor Aamti” servings=”2″ cooking time=”2 hrs (slow cooker recipe)/30 mins (pressure cooker) Prep ~2 hrs (soak) + 20 mins” difficulty=”easy”]
Looking for a non-traditional side dish for your Thanksgiving meal? Highly recommend myMom’s Jeera Aloo (cumin-spiced baby potatoes)!
I love the simplicity yet bold flavors of this dish. Absolutely adore every bite – combination of cumin, ginger, curry leaves and spicy green chillies! This dish is not supposed to be super-spicy — if you cannot tolerate any heat minimize or skip the green chillies all together. The cumin seeds and fresh ginger will do their magic!
Jeera Aloo is a very popular dish from North India that my mom adapted to suit my family’s taste buds! Growing up we ate with rotis. The cute baby potatoes and the aroma brighten our dinner table. If you have a picky 5 year old or want to introduce new ethnic tastes to your family this would be my go to dish! After all, Indian food isn’t all about creamy, spicy, bright-red curries.
Cumin (aka jeera) is the star of this dish and that’s all you will think about when you take a bite. If you haven’t experienced the full flavor of cumin this is your chance. I dream about it!
Adapted from: myMom’s recipe[recipe title=”Jeera Aloo” servings=”2″ time=”40 mins Prep 15 mins” difficulty=”easy”]
I visited Pittsburgh (my first time) recently for a conference — turned out to be nice place! I thought it would be different (not exactly sure what I was expecting) – when you travel quite a bit for work it is hard to know what to expect sometimes.
It is not like Philly.
It has many bridges.
It is apparently safer to walk as compared to taking a cab (per a local restaurant owner).
Unexpectedly good food scene.
Decent Fall colors.
And yes, I did set foot in the Heinz Stadium — hello from my Boston fan!
My travel foodie experience was great — for the first night I tried an Argentinian place in the Strip District (Gaucho Parrilla). Crazy huge blackboard menu. You order first and then the server brings the food to the table. Seafood and potatoes side are worth trying. The highlight was definitely the campfire sweet potatoes side dish (with toasted marshmallow and all)! The food was freshly-made and flavorful — not spicy hot but had a nice blend of spices.
Conferences are great for networking and socializing. I get to meet some of my old (and new) friends. I explored Pittsburgh restaurants with my partner in crime, P — we tried Argentinian, Mediterranean and finally, a gourmet meatball place – Mercato right near the convention center — nice variety of options for all tastes (including vegetarian meatballs), huge portions and a nice vibe. You can get your choice of meatballs — as a slider (I went for it), or over pasta etc. with variety of sauces/sides. For dessert we enjoyed their freshly made ricotta doughnuts with powdered sugar (similar to beignets) with chocolate sauce! We were in heaven.
Wrapped up my trip with a local-dish “pierogies” — European/American version of dumplings with a cheese-potato filling cooked in butter and fried onions. Yum!
Until next time Pittsburgh. Go Pats!