Coming to Mumbai and being here for over a month I realize that I really live quite a sedentary life in Holland. It is what I have got used to there. And meeting friends from some 20 years ago I have also realized how much I have changed. Truth is I am very different in Holland and being back, being around people I really really like its like I have come back to life. Holland is very laid back, quiet and I cycle about in peace, working at a slow pace. As much as one can appreciate that, I am used to a fast paced life having been born and brought up in India. I don’t think we know the meaning of slow! Even though some people may contest that!!!!! And I am a workaholic and I had forgotten what it is like to be in the midst of it all. In this crazy flurry of activity. And, I love it!
I have so much to tell about this amazing adventure of mine and I don’t know where to start. So, let me start from the very beginning.
I arrived in Mumbai on June 1. To stifling heat. My first reaction was Oh God I don’t want to be here. I wanted to run back home. Because another thing to know about me, I hate change. I may embrace that change very quickly and I love the fact that I can adjust really fast, but my first reaction is to always resist it. And I resist it strongly too. No half baked reaction. It is always a full on, screaming shouting one!
As I know this about me, the next day I was fine. Not loving the heat but loving the complaining of it, loving the ‘I’m in a new city, and discovering new things bit’, A LOT.
Immediately the day after arriving I went to work. And, on my first day I met a big star in Bollywood, Saif Ali Khan. Now I have never been start struck and have never really wanted to meet a film star because I am uncomfortable around anyone I can’t relate to. But, since the shooting of the film I have become somewhat of a fan of Mr. Khan. He is so well educated, and so very polite. Every time he has spoken to me, he has spoken to me with respect and has been genuinely friendly. One doesn’t expect that from as big a star as him. I am intrigued by anyone who can stay somewhat humble at that level. He is so full of style that one cannot but like him if they were to meet him.
So the first week was spent learning a bit about the film business. Learning how many people are involved in making a film. This film is a small budget, Indie film. A small budget also means a smaller or medium sized crew. Even then there are loads of people that make a film a film. And it is all-fascinating to watch how the wheels turn.
The movie is set in the night, so we all had to get used to sleeping in the day and being awake at night. That happened surprisingly easily. It’s the getting back to the day routine that is proving more difficult!
This recipe is for Saif Ali Khan, even though he may not know it! He is a total health nut which of course endears him to me even more.
This tomato tart is the bomb. It is so flavorful that it will leave you wanting more and more and more. Fusion cooking at its best because who ever makes tarts in India, I ask??? No one. Not in the usual repertoire of Indian cooking.
So this tart has an amazing base, then its covered with a delicious cilantro or dhaniya pesto. Then you layer it with the sliced onions and then the tomatoes. Lastly you add my absolute favorite, paneer. Paneer is a big favorite amongst vegetarians in India. And if you haven’t eaten it already and do now, you will understand why.
So please first devour this tart first with your eyes because it is that amazing to look at and then with your mouth. Your belly I assure you will be very happy, if you do!
And thank you to Saif for being such a lovely person, it was great meeting you and I hope you feel better soon..
- Ingredients for the Tart Shell
- 1½ cups plain flour + 1 tbsp
- 125 grams butter, cold and cut into cubes
- 1 egg, beaten
- ½ tsp salt
- 2-3 tbsps cold water, if needed
- For the Cilantro Pesto
- 2 cups lightly packed cilantro leaves
- 30 grams walnuts
- 30 grams parmesan cheese, grated
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- salt and pepper to taste
- For the Filling
- 2 big heirloom tomatoes (any other variety will work just fine too)
- 2 small red onions, sliced
- 1 tbsp mustard seeds
- 30 grams paneer, crumbled or cut into slices
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- A few mint leaves
- To prepare the tart shell, preheat oven to 200°C.
- Make the dough by mixing the flour and salt in a bowl. Add the butter and use your hands, to break in the butter until the mixture has a crumbly texture. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the beaten egg, stirring the mixture until the dough holds together. If it’s not coming together easily, add a tablespoon of ice water.
- Gather the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic foil and chill in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes take out of the refrigerator and on a lightly floured surface roll it out. Once the dough is large enough to cover your tart tin, roll the dough around the rolling pin then unroll it over the tart pan. Press into shape. Prick the bottom with a fork and blind bake for ten minutes.
- Take out of the oven and set aside to cool.
- To prepare the cilantro pesto, place all ingredients into a blender and blend till a smooth paste. Set aside.
- To prepare the filling, cut the tomatoes and sprinkle with salt. Set aside for ten minutes. We do this to extract some of the liquid content out of the tomatoes. This ensures that the tart shell doesn't become soggy. After ten minutes pat dry with kitchen towels.
- To put together, preheat oven to 205°C.
- On the cooled tart shell, spoon out the cilantro pesto and spread evenly.
- Next spread out the onion slices and then the tomato slices. Sprinkle the mustard seeds on top.
- Drizzle the olive oil and then sprinkle the salt and pepper.
- Bake the tart 10 minutes before putting the paneer.
- Bake for a further 20 more minutes.
- Sprinkle some chopped mint leaves after the tart is out of the oven and serve hot.