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Monday, March 23, 2015

Book Launch of a Cook Book : Great Grandma’s Kitchen Secrets

When I received an invite to attend a book launch titled ‘Great Grandmas’s Kitchen Secrets’, I was fascinated. It was a double celebration. Sharing the age-old family recipes with the world and celebrating a birthday on an auspicious day of GudiPadva. It was no ordinary birthday. It was a huge celebration of a milestone for the celebrity Susheela Pathak celebrating her 96th birthday on this big day.


This was quite inspiring! I was very touched by the love and the unity of her large family. Imagine living long enough to see three generation. There were grandchildren and even great grand children present for the launch, happy that they would be able to carry on the traditional recipes for many years more. Her family claimed that she is the senior most living author in India and is currently in consideration for Limca book of records.

Many film and theatre personalities were present at the launch, and many stories told. Her friend of 75yrs of friendship had some memorable stories to share.

Her journey with writing books began at age of 90years, when her grandson asked her to pen down fables so that he could share with his children who were in America at that time. Shrimati Susheela Pathak has written two storybooks, one on idiom and this latest book on recipes that has been also translated in English to reach a bigger readership. She plans to write a new book on house-hold remedies too. I begin to realize that one should never stop living; life has great surprises in store for us.

The English edition of ‘Great Grandma’s Kitchen Secrets’ was initially hand-written in Marathi. Besides tradition Maharastrian recipes like Sanja, gud papdi laddos and Mohri ki Mirchi that she had learnt from her mother, there are more than 150 old, new, and modified dishes along with recipes for left over food.

There are some helpful tips too f

“While making baigan barta, before you roast the whole brinjals, apply mustard oil on the skin and insert garlic cloves. It will be well done and also not cause flatulence.”  


“To make fluffy puris, add two spoons soojee to the cup of wheat flour and knead in soda water. Poories will remain fluffed for long time after it is fried.

There was a small demo of mixing of Poha bhel by chief guest Sachin.

We were served the delicious plate of chaklis and poha bhel and some fresh juice.

The favorite dish of Aaji (as she is lovingly called) was a take-away of 2 Pooran Poli, Amti Masala and chili pickle for every guest. I enjoyed the pooranpoli with chili pickle. The masala I plan to use when I cook dhal the next time.

Sharing a leaflet (page65) from her book of the ‘Mustard Chili’ that I enjoyed during snack time


1/4kg Green long stemmed chilies
1/4kg Mustard
1/4kg salt
1tsp Fenugreek seeds
1tsp turmeric powder
1tsp asafetida
2tsp oil
Lemon juice from 12-15lemons


Wash the chilies and cut into small pieces. It will get deseeded automatically. Separate the seeds and keep the pieces aside.

Clean mustard seeds. Grind them fine in a mixer. Add salt and cup of water. Grind them well together

Add turmeric and asafetida

Shallow fry fenugreek seeds till they become brown. Grind the fenugreek seeds separately.

Add lemon juice extracted from 12-15 lemons

Add chili pieces and mix well.

Close the lid tightly, seal it with cloth.

Keep stirring ever1 or 2 days. This chili mustard has a shelf life of many years.

Whenever you wish to consume it, remove small portion and temper with oil seasoning.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Cheti Chand- A Sindhi New Year

A lot has changed over the years. 

Morning I called upon my neighbor to wish her ‘a Happy New Year’..Well! There was not much sign of the celebrations of Cheti Chand in a Sindhi house. Celebrating Sindhi festivals have narrowed down to attending a Sindhi Mela, (community festival) in the evening, where there are cultural shows and traditional food on sale, but other than that there is no sign of celebration in any homes.

Cheti Chand is the important festival in Sindhi home (or rather it used to be during my growing up days)

I used to wake up to the traditional hymn devoted to Lord JhuleLal during early hours. There used to be fragrance of sweetened rice and cooked Chana in the kitchen. Early morning Mom used to make preparation to go to temple and offer her prayers by making bharano Chej.

At the temple, she and other women would make molds from flour dough shaping one mold in round shaped base for large crystalized sugar, decorated with silver edible foil and dry fruits while another dough molded into a shape of lamp with the stuffing of cloves and cardamom on its side and pure ghee with a wick for used for lighting the lamp. These molds along with sweetened rice, cooked Chana, fruits, biscuits, flowers, vermillion and few coins were placed in a big tray. She would place the tray on her head and turn 360 degrees, offering her prayers to Jhulelal. Later she and other ladies would go to the seashore to feed the fishes. They would sing Lal Sain’s Panjaras and Palav to seek His grace

Not many youngsters do observe this ritual any more. Like Sindhi language, Sindhi traditions are gradually fading too. Not many are aware of the story behind it.

Cheti Chand is celebrated on the first day of Chaitra month known as Chet in Sindhi. It is celebrated in the honor of the birth of Ishtadeva Uderolal, popularly known as Jhulelal, the patron saint of Sindhis. On this day, people worship water- the elixir of life. Followers of Jhulelal observed Chaliho Sahab that meant that for forty long days and nights, they underwent rituals and vigil on the bank of Sindhu. Fasting meant, no new clothes, no shoes, no shaving, no use of soap. The clothes were just rinsed and worn. Days were spent offering prayers to God Varun seeking solace and salvation. After 40 days of Chaaliho, the followers of Jhulelal celebrated the occasion with festivity as ‘Thanks Giving Day’ During the festival there used to be long procession and Sindhi folk dance called ‘Chej’ was performed during the procession.

However, thanks to Sindhi community who do try their best to keep their culture and tradition alive. After 65 years of migrations, with Sindhis scattered all over the world, many communities around the world do make an effort to keep the tradition going. New ventures are started, children are encouraged to participate in the cultural shows and a special delicious traditional Sindhi Cuisine is cooked in some houses even till this day.

Wishing all my visitors a ‘Happy New Year’

Happy to share the recipe of ‘Sweetened Rice’ called ‘Tehri’ from page no 123 in my book on #SindhiCuisine


2 cups rice
1cup sugar
2tbsp Ghee
A pinch of saffron thread
2green Cardamom
4-5 raisins
2tbsp fresh coconut, cut into strips
Salt to taste


1.   Cook rice in one cup of water and very little salt, cardamom and saffron. 
2.   When rice is half cooked, add sugar and ghee and cook till tender.
3.   Garnish with almonds, raisins and coconut strips.
4.   Serve hot with papad and yogurt.

5.   Alternatively you could also serve with spicy cooked Kara Chana.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Dessert Plating On The Table Top

At the party that I attended at Krabi, (in Thailand),the highlight of the evening was the dessert on a cold plate. Now this was the first time I was to witness the art with food on the table, a kind of Rangoli with different kinds of dessert plated on the table to be scooped off directly with a spoon.

The chef and his assistants started decorating the cold-plated table with desserts of different shapes and sizes making spectacular designs that didn’t bleed but remained fixed to that spot forming the most spectacular design on the table.

From a distance we could only see the black plate, but there has to be some kind of grid pattern on the plate for them to do so symmetrically.

 The chef came with a tray of different desserts in small bowls and started to drizzle the blobs on the cold plate 
He worked with much concentration, spooning the blobs forming the symmetrical design on the board.
 Everybody stood there transfixed, admiring his art
 there were nuts and pretzels, liquid nitrogen frozen mousse
It reminded me of the Rangoli, the only difference that this was the food and we could actually eat it…..
small glasses containing flavored desserts were placed in symmetrical pattern around the flat designs and that gave it 3d effect
Would I be able to make such dessert at home? I was not sure, because first, I should have a cold plate or a silicon mat and secondly, I need to learn the science behind molecular gastronomy.
 But the final effect was wonderful. Everybody rushed to table, especially children who were anxiously waiting for the chef to finish his art so that they could just try different combinations of such great variety of desserts.

Later, I learnt that the sauces are actually a gel of different agar concentrations that has been set into solids and then blended to form viscous fluid to form the required shapes.

 This dessert is never boring because everybody takes the spoonful with different combination and every bite has a different experience.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Women’s Day Celebration at MiaCucina At 'A Perfect ParTea'

  When I self-invited myself to my cousin’s home for lunch last Saturday, I was not in the know that his wife was not in the town. He answered the doorbell, gave me a quick hug and rushed to the kitchen to complete the task. He had prepared Italian Cannoli for lunch. Not an easy recipe, mind you. He had cooked soya-beans filling, rolled it in garlic flavored tomato paste and layered with cheese. It was a delicious dish.

So who says Kitchen is women’s domain?

No, my cousin is not a chef, and not even a house-husband, its just that when is wife is away, he can cook a decent meal for himself and his guests.

But yes, food is the favorite topic of conversation amongst women. So that afternoon, he drove me to my venue at 'Mia Cucina' (Powai) for the celebration of women’s day hosted by Rushina of APBCook Studio fame.

The room was vibrant with excited murmurs of women from different walks of life, Chefs, entrepreneurs, house-wives, all with a common interest- Food!

The session started with Ashwin Rodrigues talking about ‘CasablancaWines’. It was an interactive session, wine-tasting event of white sparking wine and rose colored fruity wine.

This was then paired with different flavored cheese. Mansi Jasani introduced cheese as ‘just a controlled spoilage of milk’. There were different flavored cheese, some melt-in-the-mouth feta cheese and some aged and smoked cheese. A special mention can be made for the curry leaves flavored ‘Le Pondicheri’ cheese that won the brownie points.

Chef Sunjay Kotian rocked the stage with his delish fig salad, introducing the use of Olive oil in his specialty dishes pointing to the fact that virgin oil be used solely for salads and other olive oil to be used for normal cooking. Four different types of Salad leaves were tossed with dressing of fig sauce, topped with feta cheese, garlic flavored croutons and grated beetroot. He also cooked Spanish Chicken Paella.

Time tickled quickly, but Chef Kainez of TheobromaIndia was quite efficient. She prepared soft, vegetarian green mango and ginger tea cakes in jiffy, each bite so delicious that just one cake was not enough.

While we feasted on Teacakes, we watched short clips from the latest documentary film  ‘India’s Daughter’ Highlight of this event was the beautiful poem on ‘being a woman’ recited by Tess Joseph who had worked on this project along with Leslee Udwin.

This was a fun event; the room was packed with more than 50women. There is always something new to learn from such kind of events. My sincere thanks to Rushina, who takes so much effort to bring women together from all walks of life

Like all food events, the take-away food-gifts are always trendy. The loot that I brought back home

‘Old monk salted caramel sauce’ and ‘Arugul almonds pesto’ by Amrita’s Life ki recipe
‘Madelienes’ by Anurita’s Eighth
‘Cinnamon cookie’ and ‘Nutella sea salt cookie’
by Ruchika’s House of Cookies
‘Organic chai masala’ by Roweena’s Fatfree Almost
‘Tropical nut mix’ from APB Cook Studio’s lust Pantry
‘Classico olive oil’ from Bertolli
‘Feta’ from The Cheese Collective
‘Cooking sheets and frying pan foil’ from Asahi Kasei

Okay, I am thinking of feasting on those Cinnamon cookies and make some fresh salad with tropical nut mix and Feta cheese…and maybe later, try that Chai masala too…..
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