Rosemary Roasted Chaat Masala Chickpea Salad with Pomegranate

chaat masala chickpeas

Chaat, is I think one of the most popular street foods in North India. And, it is spicy as hell. Like tears running down  your cheek sort of spicy and there is nothing like any food you might have eaten. You will see scores of people lining up outside chaat shops waiting to inflict that sort of spicy pain on themselves!

It is also responsible for what is called “Delhi Belly”. If you go to a suspect shop for your chaat, you can go down with a nasty stomach if the ingredients (like yoghurt and the water) aren’t of sound quality. Even with this fear, you will rarely have anyone say no to chaat. It is that good. Now chaat is almost never made at home. It is strictly what you would eat ‘out’. It isn’t more difficult than the scores of Indian recipes but I guess it is one of those foods you like to eat when you go out and are out and about in the streets and happen to desire something spicy. Now the reason chaat is called chaat is because it is a mixture of spices. Lots of tangy stuff.

Chole or chickpeas in India are made very differently from how I have them in this recipe. But I guess that’s the fun of creating. Chickpeas in India are always made the mushy way way, here they are crunchy. I have also toned down the heat in this recipe and you really can adjust still further to suit your palate. This is a fresh dish and its very healthy. You can make it ahead in time and take it to lunch or you can add it as a healthy side dish for dinner. Whichever way, it is simple, delicious and is beautiful to look at.

chaat masala chickpeas

chaat masala chickpeas

chaat masala chickpeas

chaat masala chickpeas

chaat masala chickpeas

chaat masala chickpeas

chaat masala
1 tsp roasted coriander seeds
1 tsp chili flakes
1 tsp roasted cumin seeds
1 tsp dried mango powder
7-8 whole black peppercorns
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black salt

to prepare
Grind all ingredients together in a mortar and pestle. Set aside.

roasted chickpeas
3 cups chickpeas (from a can)
2 tbsps chaat masala (see recipe above)
2 tbsps fresh rosemary leaves
2 tbsps olive oil

to prepare
Preheat oven to 400°F/205°C.

Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Gently wash the chickpeas and layout on a kitchen towel to dry. Make sure to pat all excess water off. While you do this you will notice the skin coming off. I like to take the skin off but you can leave it on if you like. It is a lot of work to take them off!

After you have dried them put them on the baking tray and roast for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile mix the chaat masala, olive oil and rosemary leaves.

Take out the chickpeas after ten minutes and rub the masala mixture on them and put back in the oven to roast for another 15-20 minutes or till the chickpeas have nicely browned.

rosemary roasted chaat masala chickpea salad with pomegranate
arils of 1/2 pomegranate
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves (roughly chopped)
1 red onion sliced in half moons
1 tsp chaat masala
2-3 fresh green chilies, finely chopped
1 tbsp lime juice
salt and pepper to taste

to put salad together
In a deep bowl, toss the cilantro leaves, roasted chickpeas, red onion, green chilies, lime juice, chaat masala and salt and pepper. Sprinkle the pomegranate leaves at the very end.

This salad can be eaten warm or cold.

 

 

 

Persimmon Lassi with Turmeric and Cardamom

Persimmon Lassi

Lassi is a popular drink in India, especially in the summer. Yoghurt or dahi occupies a big part in Indian food. You will almost always find it at every meal. It is used to calm your mouth down because of all the spices and chilies. It serves as the balance to hot spicy food and also to cool you down on a super hot day. It is always served cold and is never boring.

Lassi is no different actually. It is made from yoghurt and is used for the same purpose as yoghurt at meal times. There is nothing like a chilled glass of this yoghurt drink on a sweltering hot day. Traditional lassi is pretty simple and is made with just yoghurt and water with some spices, like cumin, mint, salt.

We grew up drinking the stuff and it really was our version of a smoothie.

We don’t have persimmons in India. And today was my first time tasting one. I wondered if it might be good in a lassi. I can safely say it did not disappoint. The fruit tastes amazing! I added some turmeric in this lassi too because turmeric does not have a strong flavor by itself and in India is used for its color and for its many medicinal qualities.

Persimmon Lassi

Persimmon Lassi

Persimmon Lassi

Persimmon Lassi

Persimmon Lassi

Persimmon Lassi

Makes 2

1 persimmon
1/2 cup full fat yoghurt
3/4 cup cold water
3-4 cardamom pods
1/4 tsp turmeric
2 tbsps honey (or according to taste)
pinch of cinnamon
ice cubes

to prepare
Peel and remove the flesh of the persimmon. Roughly crush the cardamom seeds in a mortar and pestle.

Add all ingredients (except cinnamon and ice) in a blender and blend till smooth. If you need more sweet add more honey.

Pour in glasses filled with ice cubes. Sprinkle with some cinnamon and serve immediately.

 

Stamppot Bombay Burger

Stamppot Bombay Burger

I have lived in Holland for some ten years and have never quite warmed up to the food. Might have to do with me being mostly vegetarian. If two cultures could be as different as could be in food, it would be Holland and India. Dutch food is all about heartiness and simplicity and Indian all about layers and layers of complex flavors put together.

Now I was always taught never to turn my nose on food, but those that know me well know how finicky I am. Oh yes, I’m not fun to take out to dinner. I do try and respect every kind of eater though.

Having said that…

I have never quite understood why the Dutch Stamppot is so bland. Now it doesn’t get much heartier than this. It is potatoes, mashed, with vegetables that are also mashed with a big chunk of meat. Now this is a poor mans meal in Holland compared to dal (lentils) and roti (Indian bread) in India. But that’s where the comparison ends. Even as they are the simplest and cheapest meals in both countries, the Dutch stamppot is about convenience and the Indian one is about convenience AND flavor. I’m trying not to be judgmental but I guess I can’t help myself. Why wouldn’t you add some spices to this simple dish? Well, I’m going to try just that today and merge with one of the most popular street foods in Bombay called Vada (burger/patty) Pav (bread) or Bombay Burger. It is food on the go. Stamppot is not, but it is simple. It is after all mashed veggies. So, I’m going to be very Indian and add layers… Now I made the buns myself too and they came out delicious! I will be uploading the recipe another time. I think this one is quite extensive by itself… So let’s begin!

collage

bombay burger

Indian Dutch Burger

Indian Dutch Burger

Indian Dutch Burger

Indian Dutch Burger

tamarind chutney
100 grams tamarind
40 grams jaggery
1 tsp roasted cumin powder
1/2 black salt
1 tsp dried ginger powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp chilli powder
1 1/4 cups of water

to prepare
In a pan, add the water and tamarind and bring to a boil. Lower heat and stir so both ingredients are well combined. Around 5 minutes. Strain through a sieve and put back in the pan and add the rest of the ingredients. Bring back to the flame and cook on low heat for around 10 minutes or until the jaggery (a kind of sugar) has completely melted. Let the chutney be a little thin as it will thicken on cooling. You can add a tablespoon of water at a time if not thin enough. Set aside to cool.

coconut garlic chutney
2 tbsp crushed garlic
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
2 tsp red chili powder
salt to taste

to prepare
Combine all the ingredients in a mixer and blend to a coarse powder.

cilantro mint chutney
2 cups cilantro
2 tbsps mint leaves
2-3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp lime juice
3 fresh green chilies (or to taste)
1 tbsp water
1 tsp sugar
salt to taste

to prepare
Combine all the ingredients in a mixer and blend to a coarse powder.

stamppot bombay burger
500 grams potatoes, boiled and mashed
4 cups packed chopped kale leaves
1 tbsp ginger paste
1 tbsp garlic paste
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp asafoetida
6-7 curry leaves (I used dried)
1 tbsp lemon juice
3-4 fresh green chilies, chopped
1/4 tsp garam masala
handful cilantro, chopped
salt to taste
6 soft brioche buns

to prepare
Pound the green chilies, ginger and garlic using a mortar and pestle. Heat the oil and add the mustard seeds. When they start to crackle, add the asafoetida and curry leaves and saute for a few seconds. Add the ginger garlic mixture and saute again for 2-3 minutes. Add first the kale and cook till the kale reduces in volume, around 3-4 minutes. Add the potatoes and all dry spices, except garam masala and mix well. Fry for 10 minutes till the potato mixture starts turning a lovely golden brown. Add the garam masala, lemon juice and the chopped cilantro. Mix and take off fire. Let cool.

After it has cooled, divide in to 6 portions and form into balls.

gram flour batter
3/4 cup gram flour
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp red chili powder
pinch of baking soda
1 tsp oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup water

to prepare
Mix all ingredients in a bowl well. Be careful there are no lumps. Batter should be the consistency of pancake batter.

to put burger together
oil for deep frying
red onion slices

Heat oil in a wok.

Drop each potato kale ball into the batter and coat well on all sides. Place in the hot oil and fry each side around a minute or till they are nicely browned. Set aside on a paper towel to soak any excess oil.
Slit each bun in half and smear tamarind chutney on one side and the cilantro mint chutney and coconut garlic chutney on the other side.

Flatten the burger on to the bun and place slices of red onion. Cover with second half of bun.

Enjoy with a glass of nimbu pani (lemonade) or hot cup of chai.

 

Roasted Cumin Black Quinoa Pilaf with Cauliflower Steak and Cilantro Pomegranate Pesto

Black quinoa pulao

Pilaf or pulao, as it is called in India, has always been my favorite. For two reasons, one it is super fast and two, it is so delicious! If you are Indian you know what I mean when I say cooking Indian takes hours! If you love the preparation of the meal as much as cooking it, like me, you do love Indian. But, sometimes you just don’t want to cook or have run out of ideas, right?

Pulao was always mama’s go to meal when she didn’t feel like cooking or was just low on ideas. Pulao is so versatile. It can be made with just about anything from meat to vegetables to lentils, spices and even nuts if you want to make it rich in flavor. It really is the most informal meal put together with whatever leftover groceries you may have in your refrigerator. Isn’t that great?

My favorite pulao was made with just cumin and green peas. That’s it. Ready in 15 minutes. And, I used to eat it with tons of ketchup (yeah you heard me!) and Indian achaar. It is one meal I just cannot stop at, with even two helpings… That’s how delicious it is.

This pulao is vastly different because I tried it with black quinoa. But, no less delicious.

Black quinoa pulao

Black quinoa pulao

Black quinoa pulao

for the cauliflower steak
1 large head cauliflower
2 tbsps olive oil, divided
2 tsp freshly grated ginger
3-4 cloves garlic pulp
1 tsp cumin
2 tsps whole coriander seeds
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp nigella seeds
2 tsps chili powder
1 tsp kasturi methi (dried fenugreek leaves, available easily at an Indian store)
1 tsp turmeric
3-4 fresh green chilies, chopped (or according to taste)
Handful of cilantro, chopped
Salt and pepper

to prepare
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F.

Remove the leaves and trim the stem end of the cauliflower, leaving the core intact. Using a large knife, cut the cauliflower from top to base into 1 inch thick “steaks.” Season each steak with salt and pepper on both sides. (Reserve loose florets for another use.)

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Sear the cauliflower steaks, about 2 minutes on each side. Gently transfer the steaks to a baking sheet lined with baking paper.

In a pan dry roast the spices for around 2-3 minutes till you get a distinct fragrance. Grind roughly.

Mix the spices with the remaining olive oil. Rub this mixture onto the seared steaks, well. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes. Half way through flip the steaks. They should look nice and browned when they come out. The fragrance will be insane!

cilantro pomegranate pesto
2 cups cilantro
2-3 cloves garlic
seeds of half a pomegranate
20 grams walnuts
40 grams old cheese ( I used Old Amsterdam, but you can use any old ripened cheese, Parmesan works really well too)
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

to prepare
In a food processor or with a hand held mixer, process all ingredients till smooth.

for the pilaf/pulao
1 cup black quinoa
1 tbsp cumin (lightly roasted)
1/2 tbsp oil
1 3/4 cup water
juice of half a lemon

to prepare
Rinse the quinoa well.

In a pan, heat the oil and add the roasted cumin. Once they start to sputter, add the rinsed quinoa. Fry for around 3-4 minutes. Add the water and cook on medium heat till water evaporates. This will take around 20 minutes. Fluff and set aside. Just before serving mix in the lemon juice.

to put together
In a deep dish scoop the quinoa pilaf and place one of the steaks on top. Place some chopped cilantro on top and eat with the cilantro pesto.

 

Spiced Apple Cake

Spiced Apple Cake

“You’re expected to be sad in the fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintery light.” ― Ernest Hemingway.

fall

fall

fall

This is the season of melancholy. The warm deep colors, the rain, the dark evenings. Yet it is the last burst of beauty that nature offers before it gets frozen. I live in a part of the world where rain is in plenty, during fall. It just makes the melancholy grow in a sweet delicious stab doesn’t it?

I hold my melancholy close to my heart. It really is my best friend. It makes me question things (sometimes way too much). Melancholy is the stuff of the most beautiful songs, the most amazing art and the most heart wrenching poems. Melancholy is a good thing. And, it makes autumn that much more beautiful.

Spiced Apple Cake

This cake is drenched in Autumn. It’s color, its taste, and the feeling it invokes as you eat it. This is no traditional dutch apple tart. I wanted to capture the fragrance of autumn, and this cake does just that.

Spiced Apple Cake

Spiced Apple Cake

adapted from Delia Smith’s “Cakes”

225 grams self raising flour
4-5 apples (I used Elstar), around 550 grams
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp ginger powder
1/8 tsp nutmeg powder
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
75 grams butter (softened)
175 grams light brown sugar
grated zest of one large orange
1 tbsp lemon extract
3 tbsps milk
icing sugar (for decoration)

to prepare
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F.

Sift the flour, baking powder and the spices into a large bowl. Chop the apples into small slices and . Place in a bowl and toss with one tablespoon of the sieved flour mixture.

Add the eggs, butter, milk and sugar to the rest of the flour. Using a hand whisk, combine for about 1 minute, until its a creamy consistency. Next fold in the orange zest, lemon extract and sliced apple.

Spoon the mixture into a prepared cake tin that has been buttered and floured. Level off with the back of a spoon. Bake in the center of the oven for about 50 minutes, or until the cake feels springy in the center when lightly pressed. Cool in tin for tin minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack. Lightly dust with some icing sugar before serving, with a cup of hot steaming tea.

 

 

Hazelnut Cake with Chocolate Rum Buttercream

hazelnut cake

so I’m officially obsessed with this hazelnut chocolate combination. Here’s how this story went:

A few months ago while cycling to school, the trees were as green as green could be. And they were all laden with this hairy green fruit like thing. We didn’t pay much attention, just enjoying the beauty of the green hue. A few weeks later and the hairy fruits were generously strewn all over the same streets. But only now they were brown. A week or two further and they had been flattened by all the cars that rode over them. But, we still didn’t show much interest in discovering what they were. Just a little bit of a, ‘what could those possibly be?’, from Charlize.

One day Charlize said to me she saw a mother and a daughter picking the strange fruit off of the streets quite vigorously. Our curiosity was heightening but we funnily enough still didn’t get off our bikes to investigate further. We can be so damn lazy sometimes!

A few days later when picking up from school, I saw Charlize from a distance, running towards me, yelling super excitedly. I couldn’t understand a word of what she was saying. The closer she got, I could vaguely tell that she had some creepy things in her hands. I was about to screech with fear at what she could possibly be bringing to show me when she let them fall at my feet. And out fell the hazelnuts too.

Could that be?? Is that how hazelnuts are born? That beautiful amazing nut hidden in that very creepy shell? And, then began our careful picking of the this beautiful nut. We spent many days picking out the perfect one. And had so much fun squealing about the fact that they were free! “Mama, do you know how much these cost at the grocery store? These are free!!!!!”

It really is my hero for the week. My butterfly. And this cake a labor of love.

hazelnut cake

hazelnut cake

hazelnut cake

hazelnut cake

adapted from here

285 grams hazelnuts
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp instant coffee powder
1 tbsp cocoa powder (unsweetened)
6 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar, divided
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon rum (I used coconut infused rum)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

for the chocolate rum buttercream
340 grams unsalted butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
3 tbsps agave nectar or maple syrup
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsps rum extract
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup powdered hazelnuts (from above)

 

to prepare
Preheat oven to 175°C/350°F.

Grease and flour the bottoms of two (or one as in my case) 9-inch round layer cake pans with removable bottoms.

Finely chop the hazelnuts in a food processor. Set aside 1/2 cup of the hazelnuts for frosting (there should be around 3 cups left). Mix and sift flour, coffee powder, and cocoa; add 3 cups of powdered hazelnuts; mix thoroughly.

In a medium bowl, beat egg yolks with an electric mixer; add 1/2 cup of the sugar gradually and keep beating until very thick and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Beat in the lemon zest, rum, and vanilla.

In a separate large bowl, beat egg whites until frothy; add remaining sugar slowly while beating. Beat until soft peaks form. Fold in the egg yolk mixture to the beaten egg whites. Sprinkle a quarter of the dry ingredients over egg whites and gently fold until batter is partially blended. Repeat with second and third portions of the dry ingredients. Spoon last portion over batter and gently fold until just blended. Do not over-mix.

Gently spoon equal amount of batter into each cake pan, spreading to edges of pan. Bake 25 minutes or until top springs back when touched with fingertip. cool; remove from pans.

For the buttercream, whip the butter until soft and smooth.  On low speed (of a hand mixer), add the powdered sugar, mixing until fully incorporated, and then add the agave nectar (or maple syrup), cocoa powder, vanilla extract, rum extract and salt.  Mix in most of the powdered hazelnuts, reserving only a handful for the decoration. Taste for sweetness and add more powdered sugar if necessary.

Spread the buttercream between the layers, and on top.  Sprinkle with the remaining hazelnuts and eat away!

 

Red Yellow Beetroot Salad with Radish, Beetroot & Brocolli Sprouts

Beetroot Salad

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”
― Albert Camus

Fall with all its colors and the hearty food it brings, to me is the king of all the seasons. It fills your heart with romance, doesn’t it? Its like all the streets with all the fallen leaves have been set on fire, in your heart and for your eyes.

We get only red beetroot in India so when I saw these at my grocery store, my heart skipped a beat. To the eye, beetroot is not the most beautiful looking vegetable on the outside, but oh it is a stunner when you cut it open. The color, the form… gorgeous. And when I cut open these beauties, the sight was just stunning. And they tasted ever so sweet.

There really is nothing to this salad but it is so incredibly healthy. You’ll feel good about yourself when you’re done eating. If you still feel somewhat hungry, you can always set some on a piece of french bread. Pour yourself a chilled glass of white and I guarantee you will be in heaven!

Beetroot Salad

Beetroot Salad

Beetroot Salad

Beetroot Salad

Beetroot Salad

will feed 3 people

6 medium size beetroot (red, yellow, whatever you like)
handful of radish, beetroot, broccoli sprouts (you can also use alfa alfa, bean, mung bean or any other sort sprouts you like)
2 tbsps olive oil
splash of balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

to prepare
Preheat oven to 200°C/395°F.

Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Wash and dry the beetroot and place on the parchment paper. Splash with olive oil and roast for 20 minutes. (I liked mine with a little bite but if you like your beetroot soft then do for another 10-15 minutes more).

Allow to cool and then peel the skin off and slice into circle.

Place on a large plate. Place a handful of the sprouts all over the beetroot and splash with balsamic vinegar. Eat immediately and with joy!!!