Mumbai my new abode

I never thought I would ever get an opportunity to sample working and discovering a new city but thanks to a great boss and husband moving bases, this opportunity landed in my lap. So here I am in Mumbai, trying out new stuff to cook for dinner and trying out new tastes. I am consciously avoiding chains that I can get to eat in Delhi so that my food horizons broaden. Will be writing my reviews soon so far I have had Parasi, Gujarati, Mexican, Italian, only in Mumbai cafes and street food here. A few places get my likes , some don’t impress me much contrary to what some people might say.

I have another handicap- as much as I would like to try new places I’m avoiding being too adventurous so that I don’t get Mumbai Belly (read Delhi belly) here, so I try to be innovative for dinner at home. A few experiments that I try on husband have been as follows

1. Garlic bread- All time favourite

Ingredients

1 French loaf or Garlic bread loaf

2 table spoons of butter (I use Amul)

2 small cloves Garlic crushed (depends on how strong do you want it)

Pinch of Salt

Pinch of Pepper

Pinch of Oregano

1 tea spoon Olive Oil

Mix garlic, Olive oil, Oregano, Salt and Pepper in softened butter. Cut the French loaf diagonally into 8-10 pieces. On top of each piece of loaf spoon out the butter mixture, spreading it across the pieces equally. On a baking tray arrange the pieces and let it bake till the bread top is crisp and brown but should be soft from inside.

If the tray is not non-stick  spray a little bit of Olive oil before putting the pieces on the baking tray. You can also jazz up the bread by putting alternate juliennes of tomato and capsicum after you’ve put the butter mixture and bake. Or you could also put a mixture of cheddar and mozzarella on top of the tomato and bake till the cheese has melted and is slightly brown.

2. Vegetable Au- Gratin

1 cup par boiled vegetables- carrots, mushrooms, baby corn, french beans, broccoli, capsicums (red, green and yellow) and potato (all veggies are to be cut into cubes)

2 table spoons maida

2 table spoons butter

Salt to taste

Pepper to taste

¼ cup milk

Ina non stick pan put the maida and sauté it with butter till the maida is slightly brown. Add milk to the pan stirring it constantly so that no lumps are formed. You can add water or more milk if you feel that the sauce is thick or will not cover the veggies. Add salt and pepper to the sauce and pour it over the par boiled veggies, hope the veggies are in a bowl that you want to bake the dish in. On top of the veggies in white sauce add generous helping of cheddar and mozzarella mixture and put it to bake. I usually use  100 degree Celsius for pre heating  the OTG and then keeping the dish at the same temperature till the cheese has melted and has become brown (approx. 5-10 mins) depends if your using a microwave with grill make sure you are using both microwave and grill so that the veggies are hot and the cheese slightly brown.To be served immediately.

3. My take on Cesar  Salad

For the dressing

2 table spoons olive oil

1 table spoon mayonnaise

1 tea spoon white vinegar

Salt to taste Pepper to taste

¼  tea spoon Oregano

1 tea spoon tomato ketchup

For the salad

¼ Ice berg lettuce torn into pieces and put in drinking water with ice

¼ carrot cut into cubes

¼ capsicums cubes (green, yellow, red)

5-6 Cherry tomatoes cut into half

4-5 pieces of Bread croutons

Drain water and dry the lettuce leaves on a kitchen towel , add carrots, capsicum and croutons. Mix all the ingredients for the dressing in a bowl. Mix dressing and the veggies together make sure the dressing is not runny and coates the veggies. The salad is ready to eat, you could keep the salad in the fridge as well, it tastes best when served cold.

To add Hawaiian touch to this, you can also add a few pieces of canned pineapple cut into same size cubes as the rest. For non-veg add cold cuts of chicken or cold fried beacon and mix in with the veggies.

That’s it for now, I would be writting my reviews soon, let me know if you would like a few recipes that I have tried so far

1. Golgappa jaljeera home made (gol gappey ka pani)

2. Phirni

3. Pizza including the pizza base

or

4. Moong Dal cheelas

 

Recipe for a Perfect Evening

So, this is how it goes. Think of a style of cooking. Think of the main character – the meat or sometimes the veggie. For example, you could come up with Malwani and Fish. Or the other way around. Next step is to Google for recipes. After a few rounds you start getting a hang of which recipes to trust. Go as authentic as you can, and keep an eye out for smart recipe writers who will tell you a few substitutes for ingredients which are rare.

Now, add in some friends. Normally, this involves just calling people at the last hour and asking if they would want free dinner, conversation and drinks. On most occasions, you will find some takers. Now, add in some music and get started.

This is my recipe for a perfect evening. There are variations, mostly atmospheric. Sometimes, a bottle of wine comes with the guest and on other occasions – a new CD is unwrapped. I have realized that cooking itself is not so hard. On most occasions, you can cook much better than any restaurant, and there are no major screw-ups which cant be redeemed. There are a few tricks you learn along the way – and you develop your own style like in any other activity.

Yesterday, it went like this. I had come in good time from office, and my wife asked me if I wanted to cook. The answer to this question is almost always a resounding ‘Yes!’. We agreed that the cooking has to be Indian, and the meat has to be from a well fed goat. We quickly ordered mutton and put it through marination – garlic, ginger, turmeric (haldi) – since we were leaning towards the North Indian styles, this should work for most dishes.

I thought of Rajasthani first – Laal Maas- but somehow the look of the dish didn’t appeal . Then somone suggested Rogan Josh. Everyone agreed. I looked up a couple of recipes – and stumbled upon this one. It seemed straightforward and for what it is worth – illustrated!

I have someone to help, so a bit of parallel processing can happen. Onions were cut, cumin was roasted and powdered. As I went along, some adjustments were made to the recipe. Though garlic was already in the marinade , I added some more after the onions were done. Toned down masalas a bit – though I think could have reduced a tad further based on the final dish. I am a big fan of slow fire cooking and for this one, I pulled out the Moroccan tagine we bought from our trip to London a few months back. The tagine – for the unaware – is an awesome invention.. It aids slow cooking, and retains flavors like no other vessel.

There was a small episode in the middle (whats home cooking without one?). I added salt and then my help mentioned that salt was there in the marinade too. A small hell broke loose as everyone blamed the other, before wisdom prevailed and we figured that it wont hurt to taste the gravy on the stove before panicking. It was fine!

We opened a single malt, to go with the cool Mumbai evening, and hooked up Jazz through the laptop. As confidence increased, that the Josh was going to be fine, I messaged a friend to land-up. He hemmed and hawed about wife and kids being tired and then eventually said – what the heck – they can rest, I am coming over.

By this time, the kitchen and the living room start smelling like heaven. Someone or the other keeps opening the lid of the tagine, to check on the dish, to stir it a bit and to take in a whiff. There are arguments about how much more time there is to go – and what defines ready. The meat had started coming off the bone (wow!) and the tummies were grumbling now.

We made kachumber (salad) like in the recipe including the vinegar. Hot chapatis were popped out, and within 15 minutes, everyone was making satiated sounds. The party was over, or at least the food part was. My test is simple, if conversation subsides, and people have a glazed far away look, and chapatis pop out faster than you can count – the dish is a hit. Everyone loved it, and I was a happy man.

So try this at home – no cuisine is too hard and no dish is inaccessible. Happy cooking!