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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Misal and Usal- The Favorite Street Food in my City


Misal and Usal are the favorite street food of Maharashtra, and anyone who has not tried this dish on their visit to our city, is really missing something. You are likely to find at every street corner and in every local hotel, the smaller the restaurant, tastier is the dish.

First and foremost, let me tell you the difference between Misal and Usal, or else, you might end up ordering the wrong dish.

You see, both Misal and Usal can be eaten with Indian bread rolls called Pav, to prepare Misal first make 'Usal' which is a water based curried preparation of cooked sprouted lentils and then, when topped with pohay, Chivda, farsaan, raw chopped onions and tomato it is called Misal. This is a healthy food made from tiny dried dark-green beans call matki (Moth beans). Some use the combination of 3-4 different kinds of beans.

Now beware!

Misal Pav is not for people with elite stomach, who are so delicate that even a small innocent chilli can scratch the lining of their intestine and they end up vomiting the whole day and might even need bed rest for a week or two, till their stomach learns to behave itself. 

No,Hello Mister NRI, this is not for you too.  

Many of my NRI friends get vaccinated before coming to India and still risk all that street food only on their last day of their visit.

How sad!

It is the food for rough and tough people who can eat almost everything, not caring about its hygienic values. It is for people who live in Maharashtra and who don’t use wet tissue papers before and after every meal. It is for people who enjoy spicy food that drifts them to nirvana.

The main ingredient that is used in Usal is ‘Goda’ masala.

Now you will ask me how do I make Goda masala? Ask! Ask!

Well...This is a paste which can be made and stored in air-tight bottles to be used as required. 

Okay, here is the recipe:

Ingredients:

150gms small coriander seeds
50gms cumin seeds
50gms dried red chilies
25gms white sesame seeds
25gms dried coconut
25gms cloves
10gms cinnamon sticks
10gms peppercorns
15gms bay leaves
10gms cardamom
1/2 tsp asafetida
I inch turmeric stick

Method:

  • 1.     Roast coriander seeds, dried red chilies and cumin seeds
  • 2.     Roast white sesame seeds and dried coconut separately
  • 3.     Roast rest of the spices separately
  • 4.     Mix all the roasted ingredients and grind it together
  • 5.     Spread it for some time to bring it to room temperature, then bottle it and store it in air tight container.


This Goda masala is what gives that authentic taste to the Maharashtrian dishes.

But if you are in hurry and don’t have a prepared ‘Goda masala’, you could take a cup of grated coconut and one big onion sliced length-wise, fry with garlic(one pod) and ginger(small slice) and grind it with dry garam masala.

Now let us concentrate on preparing Misal Pav




Step 1

In Matki, dried lentils are used. 1 cup of beans are soaked for 7-8 hours, and then wrapped in moist towel for another 7-8 hours till you see the beans sprout.

Step 2

Take marble-size tamarind and soak it in one cup of water, boil it and extract the pulp.

Step 3

Grind the following ingredients into smooth paste: 1/2tsp cumin seeds, ½ tsp peppercorns. ½ tsp fennel seeds, 2 cloves, 1tbsp coriander powder, pinch of asafetida, 5 red chilies, 1inch ginger, 2 medium onions, 2cloves garlic, 3tbsp fresh grated coconut.

Step 4
In a pressure cooker, steam-cook the sprout beans and thinly sliced potatoes. Mash the potatoes when soft.

Step 5

In a separate pan, heat 2tbsp oil and splutter 1tsp mustard, add 1tsp sugar and one finely chopped onion, sauté till light brown.

Step 6

Add red chili powder and the ground paste that you made in step 3, fry till oil leaves the sides.

Step 7

Add the cooked sprouts and potatoes that you made in step 4,

Step 8

Add the ‘goda’ masala, garam masala, salt and the 1 cup tamarind extract pulp that you made in step2

Step 9

Keep it on medium flame and cook it till the gravy becomes thick but liquidy.

Your Usal is ready, you can have it with Indian bread(pav)

For those who want to eat Misal, wait, there is more.You must follow the next step

Step 10

Take a large bowl, just enough for one serving. Serve the Usal and top it with farsan, chiwda, red chili powder, finely chopped onions, green chillies, tomatoes, and coriander leaves, squeeze few drops of lime juice on it.

Serve it with bread.

Ps: For those who live out of India, the Sev and the Farshan packet you can find it at Indian grocery stores.



Okay I am drooling now………

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Chatting Over a Cup of Tea


Have you ever seen the flower blossom in a tea cup? I hadn’t. Never before!

But yes! This is the moment not to be missed. I had an opportunity to experience this last week at a famous tea house ‘Infinitea’ at Bangalore.

The meaning of tea changes in accordance to its context. Chai-pani is the bribe people give to make their life easier, to avoid long queues and get the work done in a jiffy. Tea-party is the gathering of friends where there is less tea but more oily snacks, where people hold discussions and deals are made. Tea for me is just a chai, a must-have morning cup of tea with milk, sugar and tea-leaves. I may choose to have it at odd times if I am in mood or not have it at all. So when we entered the tea house and was asked if I wanted to have tea, my immediate response was ‘No’

But I soon realized that this was no ordinary tea house when I saw the waiter place the cups, the tea pots, the strainer, and the sand-timer in front of us.



I started to study the menu card. Infinitea peddles a variety of exotic teas like Stupa, White tea, Silver Blossom, Dragon Pearl, Rosette, there was variety that ranged from oolong, black tea, green tea, and herbal, exotic, fruity tea. How do people decide what they want?

It was difficult for my friends to decide too and all of them climb down the stairs from the mezzanine floor where we were sitting, to get the first hand knowledge of what they would like to taste, then came back gleaming, ear-to-ear, pleased at being able to choose the one that was most suitable to their palate.

While we waited for the tea, I looked around. There were posters everywhere. If you have forgotten to carry a book, fear not, there was enough literature and amazing posters adorning the walls that professed that sensitivitea, serendipitea, sensualitea are all linked to tea.



The order arrived, the glass pots with warm water were placed in front of us. He put tea-leaves of different flavors in each pot and allowed it to brew right in front of us as he turned the sand timer over.  Variety of flavors included vanilla milk oolong, Elixir, Enigma and most interesting of all was a black tea bud. This was the most fascinating of all. We watched the bud blossom in warm water, growing in size each second, unfolding a pink flower.


Naturally, I was curious to taste it.

Poured a sip from each pot, one by one tasted the different flavor of different fragrance and loved it.

Infinitea was launched in Bangalore with an aim to offer what is known as the “Champagne of teas” for Indian consumers. This was the first tea-shop to be set up anywhere in the world. The Infinitea logo promises ‘from leaf to cup’ which really means straight from the grower, fresh from the garden to your cup with no middle man. You get Darjeeling tea manufactured in First Flush (April) by June the same year.



Beside great variety of tea, the place offers exotic snacks too. A good two hours were spent leisurely, sipping tea, dinning and then deserts


.
On our way out, some of them bought tea leaves to take back home.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Food Demo at Kala Ghoda festival


When I reached 5-All Day restaurant, Apollo hotel, there were just few people inside the room. It was still early, fifteen minutes before the hall would fill up. Small group of women sat discussing the menu. The chairs were arranged in ten rows which could seat about 80 people. I took the seat closer to the work-station. I was to attend the demonstration of Tartine at Kala Ghoda Festival that was hosted by ‘Le PainQuotidien’ the bakery-cafĂ©.

The table was laden with different kinds of sauces, breads, and other ingredients that the chef would use during the demonstration. A big screen dominated one corner of the room, which would be ideal for people sitting at the back to be able to view the demonstration clearly.



A senior couple sat next to me. They included me into their conversation, informing me the citation of all the events that they would be attending during the 9 days festival, their favorite being food and literature. Gradually the hall began to fill up, all the seats were occupied and there were about dozen standees. Each person was given the menu, recipe card and one pair of muffins. The evening looked good. It is important to watch food demonstration on a full stomach to be able to concentrate on the tutorials.

I munched on muffins.Soft and sweet, they melted easily after the first bite flooding my mouth with sweetness.

With brief introduction of the chef, the restaurant and about the festival, the demonstration began. All eyes fixed on the big screen and an occasional glances at the chef, we all sat enthralled watching each dish, drooling on every presentation.

Chicken and Pesto Tartine with Brie cheese &Pears



  1. 1.     Chop the roasted chicken breast into cubes and add pesto (basil+oliveoil+salt+pepper) and Mayonnaise to make chicken-pesto mix.
    2.     Apply butter to the toasted bread.
    3.     Spread the chicken-pesto-mayonnaise mix.
    4.     Place the sliced Brie cheese on it.
    5.     Place thinly sliced pears on.
    6.     Cut into triangles.
    7.     Insert sliced cucumber and thinly sliced radish between the triangles.
    8.     Spread chopped tomatoes on it.
    9.     Add more pesto sauce on it.
    10.   Decorate it with rocket leaves and parsley.
    11.   Serve it cold


Roasted Chicken &Smoked Mozzarella Tartine with Basil Pesto & Tomato


  1. 1.     Thinly slice the roasted chicken.
    2.     Apply butter to the toasted bread.
    3.     Arrange the thinly sliced chicken on the bread.
    4.     Spread thinly sliced green apples over it.
    5.     Cover it with thinly sliced smoked mozzarella.
    6.     Put it in the oven for 5 minutes or till the cheese has melted.
    7.     Cut it into triangles.
    8.     Insert thinly sliced cucumber and thinly sliced red radish between the triangles.  
    9.     Drizzle basil pesto on the top.
    10.   Add chopped tomatoes.
    11.   Decorate with arugula leaves and dill sprig.

    Mushroom & Chevre Tartine with Balsamic Peppers.





  1. .     Make the mixture of chopped mushrooms and white sauce.(butter+flour+milk).
    2.     Roast (red+green+yellow) pepper, remove the skin and thinly slice them.
    3.     Mix Balsamic vinegar and salt to it.
    4.     Butter the toasted bread.
    5.     Apply the mushroom mixture to it.
    6.     Cover it with balsamic roasted pepper juliennes,
    7.     Sprinkle goat cheese on the top.
    8.     Bake it for 5 minutes.
    9.     Cut the bread into triangles.
    10.   Insert thinly sliced cucumber and thinly sliced radish between the triangles.
    11.   Place arugula leaves on the top.
    12.   Decorate with salad leaves.


Buffalo Mozzarella Tartine With Olive Spread And Marinated Tomatoes



  1.      Thinly slice the tomatoes and Buffalo Mozzarella cheese.
    2.     Toast the wheat bread.
    3.     Apply butter and black olive paste (Olive tapenade) evenly on the bread.
    4.     Arrange tomatoes, mozzarella slices and arugula leaves alternately.
    5.     Bake it for 5 minutes till the cheese melts.
    6.     Cut it into triangles.
    7.     Drizzle basil pesto on it.
    8.     Garnish with thinly sliced cucumber and radish.
    9.     Serve warm.
Mint Lemonade




  1.      Make the basic mixture using 30ml orange juice, 40 ml lime juice, 150ml water and sugar syrup.
    2.     Take a heavy bottom glass and muddle a few sprigs of mint leaves in it.
    3.     Add little hot water to the mint sprigs and allow it to seep for few minutes.
    4.     Add ice to fill up glass.
    5.     Add the lime-orange mixture. 



With demonstration complete it was time to feast.






Sunday, February 5, 2012

Dish Of The Day - Thali

Thali, also known as Indian platter


This delicious platter comprises sol curry, dhal, matki, aloo-gobi, srikhand, salad, rice, chappati, pickle and papad
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