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Saturday, May 19, 2018

Lets Celebrate #MasalaDay Again

Cooking for self is a feast, you use whatever ingredients you like and feel happy whether the taste is good or bad, and will try again to improve the taste. You can try all the crazy dishes yet receive no complains from self because mistakes are the part of experiences. But cooking for family and friends is a responsibility. We have to be careful and know the taste of the persons for whom you cook. You cannot cook Indian food for European friends who avoid spices nor can you cook Chinese for your conservative people who hate to try new stuff. 

The other day, I cooked cauliflower for my family. I have come to spend some quality time with my family in Spain. I used red chiili powder and my family found my food too hot. I was feeling bad that they could not eat (although I found it quite tasty). But using red chilli powder is risky. There are various kinds of red chilli powders, some are just for color and some very hot. It makes no difference to me, because I have high resistance for hot pepper but my family in Spain avoid chillies for health reasons. Here, in Spain, garlic and capsicum is considered as spicy and is eaten in moderation. In India, red chilli powder is the ingredient used in many garam masalas. Kashmiri red chiili powder is used mainly to give the rich red color to the food. But in families that enjoy spicy food, super hot red chiili powder is avoided, green chilies is preferred ingredient and is healthy too.

In month of May, many Indian families start to grind Garam masala to stock up for the year. Special help is called to dry the spices in the sun and they manually pound the dry masalas. I decided to ask my family and friends about the different masalas that they use in their daily cooking and have found some interesting results.

Most of my friends are using Aseofitida (Hing) in their daily cooking, specially in dhals.  Other ingredients that are regularly used in their cooking are coriander powder (Dhania), cumin powder (jeera) and Turmeric powder(haldi).

Bengali friend uses panch poran that consists of Ani seeds (saunf), Caraway seed (ajwain), Mustard seeds (rai), Black cumin (kalonji), Fenugreek seeds (methi seeds) and asefitida (hing).

Parsi friend uses Cumin seeds (Jeera)  mustard (rai), chilli powder, Coriander powder (dhania), turmeric powder (haldi), khambati sambhar  Aseafitida (hing),  and curry powder.

North Indian friend uses Cumin seeds (Jeera), cardamom (Elaichi), black pepper (Kali mirchi) coriander seeds (Dhania) fennel seeds (Saunf) cloves (Laung) Cinnamon ( Dalchini) Bay leaves (Tejpata) Caraway seeds (Shahi jeera) and dry ginger powder (Soonth)

South Indian friend uses mustard and coconut regularly,

My Sindhi friend roasts and grinds Whole Black Cardamom, Whole Green Cardamom, Cinnamon, Pepper, Cloves, Jeera, Javatri, Nutmeg,Tejpatta and stores in the containers.

It was interesting to talk to my friends about the ingredients they used in their kitchen. One friend uses pink Himalayan salt in her daily cooking. “Pink Himalayan salt has minerals in their natural form, therefore is good for health, it is not processed like table salt.” She said.

Another friend is using organic turmeric in her daily cooking. “I prefer this because of Turmeric's anti - inflammatory benefits . We get this produce from special health food shops who import from India.  They come with certificate of authenticity for purity and non use of pesticide before and after harvesting. Also the consignment is not scanned through X-ray machines.” She said when I ask her for this special choice. “I love the strong aroma.  Only downside I find is the color of the organic turmeric is on the darker side as compared to one available in the normal grocery shops.” She added.

My cousin made a special mention of masala she used for making a drink to stay fit.  It contains 200gms cumin seeds, 100 gms dried coriander seeds, 100 gms fennel seeds. They are mixed well in one litre of water and kept it overnight. Next day they are boiled, strained and is sipped throughout the day.

Many different kinds of masalas are made in my school by differently abled at our CBD and Uran centres. In our school, children over eighteen years are graduated to vocational and home science unit. Parents of the children help children earn their living by helping them learn different techniques like cleaning, drying grinding, measuring and packing. the masala are sold, children earn a regular stipend and it gives them incentive to work.

Masala are used in almost all the recipes, but on daily regular cooking, minimum spices are used. Sharing the recipe my SIL made today for lunch.

Pumpkin and Spinach


200 kg pumpkin
1 bunch spinach
1 medium Onion
1 inch Ginger
1 tbsp Mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 pinch aseofitida
1tsp turmeric
1 tsp red chilli powder
2 tbsp oil
salt to taste
Coriander for garnishing


In hot oil crackle mustard seeds. Add ginger and cumin seeds. Add chopped onions and fry till light brown. Add turmeric powder and red chilli powder. Add chopped pumpkin, stir till tender.. add chopped spinach. Cover and cook till tender. Add salt. Garnish with coriander leaves.

I have been celebrating #IndianFoodObservance days with Rushina whenever I could. Last year too I had blogged about Garam Masala used in Sindhi Cuisine. You can find the recipe HERE

I am so happy that my friends and family cooperated in my research. My special thanks to Pakeeza Merchant, Deepa Betrabeth, Taruna Goyal, Vijaya Das, Poonam Desai, Renuka Mir, Usha Galani, Vimloo Shivdasani, Maya Mirpuri, Rani Ramchandani, Devka Mansukhani, Aruna Doshi, Dhana Tiwari, Lata Sharma, Nalini Poduval, Kasmira Balsara, Bela wanwari, Anita Mantri, Sonal Manjalani, Pooja Mohinani

Thank you so much......

Monday, April 2, 2018

To Market, To Market, To Celebrate #SabziTarkariDin

One more day to celebrate with Rushina, this time #SabziTarkariDin, one more reason to blog……

You can only see what is in season when you visit your local vegetable market. There will be many carts selling same selected vegetables or fruits at very reasonable price. I never like to bargain with these vegetable sellers and most of the time I don’t even ask them the rates, I just buy what I want. If they make extra money from me, its their karma.

We don’t bargain at big Supermarkets so why haggle over the price at the local market? Let them make the money nah, they too have family to support.

When we go for shopping at the big food mall, we are likely to see whole range of fruits and vegetables, fresh and exotic, some food mall stock all the vegetables from all over the world..some of them frozen to the core and quite tasteless too..having lost their nutrients while travelling from one country to another sometimes. Have you checked price? might faint. Many a times, when I have picked a packet of some exotic vegetable or fresh herb, I have put it back to the shelf when I eye at the price label. 

“Are you mad? You will spend Rs300 for just this vegetable? Put it back” I scold myself.

But the local market place will always sell fresh fruits and vegetable..Especially if you go to a small town market away from the main city. Recently I went to Karjat for a weekend and was surprised at the rate of the veggies sold there. All the vegetables were in abundance, very fresh and very economical. Most of the vegetable were at Rs20 a kilo. My friend, who has a farm house in Karjat, regularly visits these markets and comes back with car full of veggies for her family and friends. Not only were these fresh and seasonal  but they were very tasty as well.

But no matter what season it is..bananas, celery and potatoes are always tasty and always a good buy

This morning my friend called me and told me that the flower of elephant foot yam is available in the market. Now I have never seen it although my other friends always cooks it when it is in season. I was curious (ofcourse) she told me that its expensive. Told her not to bargain with the vegetable seller and just buy it at whatever the cost (Rs200 a kilo).. she got me 400grams.

So here I was..went to google aunt to do some research on flower of elephant foot yam, spoke to few friends asking them how they would make it.

Then cut into pieces to see the inside

Then did the most foolish thing...I bit into it to get its raw taste....

Oops..not a good idea..because..i didnt even wash it at first..after a small bite..washed it properly, peeled and took a bigger had woody taste and lips and chin were scratchy and some blisters on my tongue..I spat it out..cleaned my tongue several times till the itching stopped.

But yes..I cooked..following the recipe of a mutton dish

I first cleaned all of it, peeled it.salted them for few hours….then deep fried it.

Then cooked it in black pepper and tomato gravy.

The #TarkariSabziDin was celebrated by food bloggers all over India and I was able to catch few live coverage..

Like I saw the organic kitchen garden of Saffron trail and she showed us how to plant veggies at home...without any fancy equipments at all.

Made a virtual tour of Pali Market with Rushina and Kalyan.

Some celebrated with a potluck of foodies of Mumbai  at foodblogger Shital Kakad’s cozy home..

I Loved watching Monika shopping in the Bangalore market with her son.

Also saw the live coverage of the walk with DFW to the whole vegetable market in Delhi, Azadpur Mandi, Asia's largest wholesale market for fruits and vegetables 

I hate going to crowded vegetable markets because I am afraid of slipping on rotten leaves that lay scattered in the path but this markets that were visited by foodbloggers were quite clean and spacious and I was very happy to do the virtual tour with food bloggers.

Enjoyed #SabziTarkariDin and #IndianFoodObservance day with all the food-bloggers from the comfort of my home, while I was busy cooking the flowers of Elephant foot yam for my guests. I also made exotic salad, Guacamole from the buttery avocado, Sesame fragrant rice, roasted chicken and fried fish on that day


400grams Flowers of Elephant Foot Yam
2pods of cardamom
1tsp black pepper
1/2inch ginger
2 green chilies
1 bunch Spinach
1tsp turmeric powder
2tsp coriander powder
2 tbsp coriander leaves
salt to taste.


Salt the flowers, wash and deep fry. Keep it aside
In a pan, stir fry cardamom, black pepper, ginger and green chilies
Add the deep fried flowers , stir to mix it.
Add spinach, tomatoes, turmeric, coriander powder and salt.
Mix and cover on low flame till tender
Add coriander leaves and black pepper
Serve with chappatis.

I have been celebrating #IndianFoodObservance days with Rushina whenever I could and have blogged......

Waiting for another Food observance day….

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Exercising Away To FBAI Dialogues- A Conference: Part Two’

Hope you are back here again to read the second part of my blog on the event that I attended. 

One thing good about this conference was that It was very vibrant and entertaining. There were many distraction to keep you away from dozing off. For example- on each table, there was a box of ‘Soul flower’ emitting heady fragrance, there was a beautiful lilly at the table- a feast for the eye..then there was an hand santizer by Godrej, some sweets, water by Kelzai….all reminding us of the sponsors of this event. And also there were Zumba and Bollywood music to dance away the blues.

And the talks were interesting too

David Cananzi- F&B Wizard spoke about Curation of healthy menus at home. In India, we have privilege of having fresh vegetables and fruits, we should use it to our advantage. He spoke about most important facts that you must include in our daily diet. He stressed the need to cook with your soul, it must suit your life style, you must know your ingredients - their taste and their nutrient value, use fresh vegetables. If you have to save it, store it in freezer to retain their freshness. “If you wish to be healthy, you must follow your instinct” he said.

Rachna Chhachi – nutritionalist and cancer coach, cures people without medicines and works with autistic people. Its all about lifestyles that you adapt to discipline your mind. Reduce the quantity of food, don’t overeat, eat 30% less. Look at your plate, half of it should be raw. Eat right oil and fat, include nuts in your daily diet. Keep everything in view and think what you want to do. Take fresh look at why you need to be happy.. Nutrition, exercise and sleep are investment plan for health. Believe in 8 hours sleep, enjoy healthy meal and avoid junk food. “Learn to chill-enjoy your own company, eat slowly and enjoy food” she said.

Eefa Shrof- A fitness and lifestyle coach spoke about mind-body fitness. Being thin does not mean that you are fit. You can be thin but not healthy, you can be fat but healthy. Ask yourself as to why you wish to be thin? And if your reasons are convincing you to become thin that should inspire you to loose weight. Most importantly, remember that heart should be taken care of and you don’t have to reduce muscles to become thin. Follow the advise of an experienced trainer. “In giving out exercise and nutrition programs, a trainer aims to help, not please the client” said she.

Ranveer Brar – spoke about how he keeps fit as a celebrity chef. People ask him as to how can he be a foodie and still be thin?. He said that prayers can give fitness of the soul, but eating the right food at the right time gives fitness to the body. We were sent in this world to be happy and food is the essential instrument to happiness. Our ancient wisdom understood that food was the key. We all have memories of our grandmother who told us what and when to eat, without giving any reasons. Even if you protested and asked for answer, she would just nod and ask us to follow because she believed it. In today’s world we look for answers for any myth that has been passed down through centuries. We believe only if it is confirmed by western philosophy. We have to understand our relation with food. It doesn’t have to be tasty, it should also be nutritious. You must know its reaction and its usefulness to your body.”A true foodie will find the medicinal value of food, believe and find its nutritional value too.” He said.

Saloni Malkani hosted a Panel discussion on re-imaging modern Kitchen with Kalyan Karmakar, Smita Deo, Sujit Patil and Vaishali Shah.  Kitchens have changed a lot over the years. It used to be gathering place for whole family and now it is small space, specially in big cities. Kitchen should reflect who you are, the way you have styled it. The display of food jars, ingredients, gadjets that you use and the vairiety of things that one sees in your kitchen reflects your identity. Vaishali spoke about how she has remodeled her bedroom into one big kitchen where whole family meets. “Kitchen won’t be seen as close spaces in future, but as an open place for the whole family to meet” said Vaisali Lahoti Shah, the lead designer of Godrej Interiors.

Rushina Ghildiyal, the food consultant spoke about substituting Indian ingredients for exotic ones. Instead of cutting on food, its better to exercise. If we are grown up eating certain kinds of food, we tend to stick to that. The fact is that we don’t market our own products, we have forgotten to eat grains such as Millet, Ragi, which is more healthy. We should eat more protiens and eat food that is grown locally in your country, if we don’t buy local food then farmers might stop farming and move on to different profession. Just because certain food works best in certain eco system and envirnoment, it may not necessarily work for you in your country. “Its all about adapting knowledge. Whatever is suitable for you, use it to adapt to your parameters.” She said,

The day ended with Rumba. Music is not only for dancing at the discos. It can be adapted as an exercise for healthy living and lifestyle.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Exercising Away To FBAI Dialogues- A Conference: Part One

It’s a choice we make, sometimes we have to cancel one event to attend another event and eventually might disappoint somebody during such decisions. But I have wonderful friends who understand me and did not crib when I cancelled my weekend trip to Pune with my group of friends and decided to attend this #wellness conference organised by FBAI at JWMarriot-Juhu.

It was worth it. Really. There is always something new to learn. I agree, most of the things you hear in any conferences, are mere repetitions, you have heard them many times, but still, you read between lines and there is always one thin layer of knowledge that clings to you.

So here I was, early in the morning (shooing away my maid to finish her chores quickly so that I could step out. Registration, coffee and meeting everyone with brief hello (I am listener, I talk very little , i am more of an observer and I am boring too) so it was best to walk into Yamuna room. The session started with exercises and Yoga - thus the group of foodies and bloggers were charged with wellness #FBAIdialogues.

The session started with Vicky Ratnani, who took us to Sasson docks through his short film and gave us the experience of shopping for fish early in the morning. His message was clear, “Eat fresh, eat local” He gave the example of eating tomatoes, which when cut fresh, you just add lime, salt, pepper and olive oil and it tastes so good but if you store it in fridge for a week and then eat, the same tomato will taste different. The nutrient are much higher when fresh. He stressed the need to buy local seasonal food and support farmers. Indians have always been eating turmeric and other spices, they have always used coconut oil in cooking but its western culture who are now discovering the nutrient value of Indian way of cooking. “Its better you pay the farmers than you paying the doctor” he said.

This was followed by the conversation with Fitness blogger – Anandita De, Founder of Risqueby. The discussion was on (What else?) fitness ofcourse. How to stay fit by eating right kind of food. She stressed the need to be aware of what you eat. “Avoid white color food, avoid oil, and in short eat in moderation.”she said

Mr CSNageshwaran of Vikroli Cucina spoke about Godrej food trends 2018  and made us aware that people are moving towards healthier food habits.

Trupti Gupta spoke about including Walnuts in our daily diet and how it can take us to healthy lifestyle. There are hundred types of diet and there is no formula for following it in a particular way, we have to eat in moderation and understand what are our body’s need. Including nuts in our daily diet is very important. “Walnuts are good for brain. They are lightest in digestion and they help us fight stress and pollution” she said.

Naina Setalvad gave her real life example telling us what to eat to keep healthy. Today’s food promote gluttony, increasing illness, violence and creates criminal minds. You are what you eat. You become selfish and irritable when you eat wrong kind of food. She stressed the need to go back to traditional way of eating, to avoid junk food, processed foods and fat. “No spices can be absorbed by fat” she said.

A short break for brunch was very satisfying with well thought out spread of nutritious food. There were salads, soup, desserts and fruits. Loved the Goan Fish curry..Yummmmmmm!! loved it..I am still drooling...want to go back for more....

Post lunch, a session with Sameera Reddy who spoke about magical Mom’s diet.

In a panel discussion of well balanced meal, moderated by Sameer Malkani, there was interesting discussion with participants Payal Kothari, Tara Mahadevan, Mira Manek and Kunal Vijaykar. We all are born with hunger instinct. We have conscious and sub-conscious mind. When we understand all kinds of cravings and make our diet to suit our body’s needs, twisting the traditional food with healthy diet, we can make a proper decision about what is good for us. We all are conditioned to eat certain kind of food, we have to journal our activities and write about our craving and what we have to avoid. “Ask yourself if you are healthy, what and how you should eat.” Said Kunal who has lost weight by adopting the right kind of diet.

Tanushree Mukerjee in conversation with Saloni Malkani spoke about mind,soul and body transformation. Everything is in our mind. You have to make a decision to stay healthy and you can achieve a goal. She does everything: yoga, exercises, weight lifting. While travelling she carries fruits. "You have a choice to choose right kind of food. Feed your body, not your emotion” she said.

Aditi Dugar, the owner of the beautiful restaurant Masque spoke about power of regional cooking. Food is about personal story. Every household have their own signature garam masala. Culinary journey is to know what food is all about. Many are retelling their story in a modern way. If the story is based on culture of Kashmir, for example, their techniques, their seasonal food , their spices, makes  all the differences. She has travelled widely to understand the different culture and she employs modern concept to the regional cooking at her restaurant.

I am very sleepy now...can't write more..zzzzzzzzzzzz.....

To be continued……… stay tuned.... for Part two HERE

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