Fusion platter

This recipe is my way of having good food with tastes across the world fused into one platter. Actually it is great way to empty your pantry before going shopping for the next.

My daughters are on a low carb diet while my husband and I love to have little rice. This worked very well for all of us and had a grand meal. My daughters omitted rice but gorged on the rest of the spread.

Sweet Boondi (Besan drops in Sugar Syrup)

This recipe is a result of my severe sweet cravings

during lockdown. At times in the evenings, I love to have a small serving of sweet Boondi with puffed rice. This drove me to the experimental spree and it turned out pretty well.

Makes enough for 4 small snack bowls

Ingredients 1 cup of Besan (chickpea flour)

1/4 tsp baking soda

Few drops of good edible red colour

1 tbsp oil +oil to deep fry

For sugar syrup :

1 cup of sugar dissolved in 1 cup of water with one whole green cardamom. Boil these together for five minutes and keep aside.

Procedure :

Mix besan with 4 tbsps of water. Water has to be added slowly and mix with a whisk. Add 1 tbsp oil, mix well, cover and keep it to rest.

After half an hour, remove the cover, add baking soda and mix well.

Take oil to deep fry in a deep dish and heat it to a moderate temperature. It should neither be very hot nor less hot. The theory is, as soon as you put the drops in oil it should start frying.

It hardly takes a minute or so for the drops to be ready to take them out from the oil.

The kitchen tool used for this is the same as the ones used to deep fry things. The steel ones with holes and is called jhanjhri or chaanta in bengal. It is available online and is known as boondi jhara.

As soon as the oil gets suitably hot, take a ladle of Besan batter and put it on the boondi jhara and hold it just on top of the wok and use back of a flat serving spoon to spread it, So that the small drops fall in the oil and starts to fry.

This whole process has to be done on medium flame. After one batch of frying is over, wash and wipe it dry the jhara to get ready for the next batch.

When the last two batches remain, add few drops of red colour and mix well in the batter. Repeat the same process and fry all. Keep it one bowl.

Now take the lukewarm sugar syrup and add all boondi together and let it soak for five minutes after which pour everything over a sieve and leave. Let the excess sugar syrup drain and now your sweet Boondi is ready. Store it in the fridge. It stays good for almost a month.

Aloo Paratha (Flatbread with Potato Stuffing)

This is one of the most loved Indian recipes and I have always been asked for the recipe. Today I am sharing my way of making this. This particular recipe varies from kitchen to kitchen as to how many spices to be added or how to knead the dough. It would actually depend on your scale of measuring your spice level. People in some states India like it very flavoursome and spicy while some like to keep it mild. Likewise, when I recently made it for a few non- Indians, I kept it really mild with salt, pepper, butter and a few Indian herbs namely mint, coriander leaves and kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves). The result was awesome and people loved it.

Preparing this recipe will come in three stages namely kneading the dough, making the potato filling and final assembly.

Makes 8 parathas

Ingredients for the filling

1/2 kg potatoes boiled, drained and mashed without lumps

2 tbsps Tomato paste

1 tbsp of Spice blend of dry roasted and powdered spices namely cumin seeds, coriander seeds, red chillies(Combine and roast all the spices in a wok, powder them and take one tbsp of the powdered spice)

1 tbsp each of finely chopped coriander leaves, green chillies finely chopped, freshly grated ginger, fresh mint leaves.

I have tried making this with dried coriander leaves, mint leaves and green chillies. You can always use dried herbs if you don’t find the fresh ones.

1 tbsp lemon juice

Salt to taste

1 tsp Butter

Procedure for the filling

Take a micro waveable glass bowl. Peel the boiled potatoes and mash them with a fork till there are no lumps. Now add all the spices that suit you. Omit the ones you dont have or don’t want to incorporate. Add tomato paste, butter and salt and if you are adding dried herbs this is the time to do so. But don’t add the fresh ones at this stage. Mix them well. Microwave on high for two to three minutes by pausing after a minute and mixing again with a fork to ensure uniformity in cooking. Add fresh herbs now. Mix well and keep aside.

For the Parathas

Ingredients

250 gms of wheat flour

100 gms of refined flour

2 tbsps of oil or ghee (clarified butter)

1 tsp salt

Water as required to knead.

Procedure:

Add the dry ingredients to the kneader and run it once to mix everything. Now, add water and run it. The kneaded dough is ready. Cover it and keep it.

The final assembly

  1. Take your dough and roll two rotis half the size of normal roti.
  2. Keep one aside and the other on the rolling board.
  3. Take out two tbsps of stuffing and spread on the roti on the rolling board leaving the sides.
  4. Take the second roti and put on top of the stuffing sealing all the sides with your hands.
  5. Then roll both the rotis together dusting it with flour so that they dont stick to the rolling board.
  6. Put the non- stick tawa on the burner and let it get adequately hot.
  7. Keep oil or ghee or melted butter in a bowl with basting brush .
  8. When hot, turn the flame to medium and put the paratha on it.
  9. Press gently with a spatula to make sure every part of the paratha is cooked uniformly.
  10. This should take you around 3-4 mins.
  11. Flip it and let it cook on the other side too.
  12. When both the sides look cooked(when there are brown spots on both surfaces), brush oil or butter or ghee on both the sides and fry on high.
  13. It will puff up, once it is cooked.Take it off the heat and serve or store in a bowl with lid. Make sure to line the bowl with a padded cloth in the bottom and on top.This prevents the parathas from turning soggy.
  14. Serve with pickle and yogurt.

I have an easier version though. Knead 500gms of flour with grated boiled potato, finely chopped coriander, green chillies, ajwain powder, red chilli powder, salt to taste, oil and garam masala powder and water. Let the dough rest for a while. Roll the chapatis and cook on a tawa .

Minced Chicken Kababs

This recipe is very useful when you have very little chicken in your freezer yet you want to make a snack. It really goes well with evening tea or coffee. Indians really love their savory snacks.

Makes 12 kababs

Ingredients 1

1/2 cup Bengal gram dal or chana dal soaked in 1 cup of water for two hours

1/2 cup of breast boneless chicken chunks

1/2 of an onion

1 peeled clove of garlic

A small piece of peeled ginger

1 dried red chilli

1 bayleaf

Salt to taste.

Ingredient 2

1/2 cup of boiled and chopped potatoes

1/4 cup of finely grated carrots

2 eggs

1/4 tsp garam masala powder

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

2 tbsps finely chopped coriander and mint leaves combined

1 tsp of finely chopped green chillies.

Procedure

Put ingredient 1 in a pressure cooker. Cook for two whistles.

Wait for the mixture to cool down. Then blend it and empty onto a bowl.

Add one egg and ingredient 2( except the second egg) and mix it properly.

Make round patties and dip in egg and shallow fry on both sides till it turns light brown.

Serve with sauce or chutney of your choice.

Caviar on Crackers

This is a very easy snack and my family’s favourite. I had crackers with me but toasted bread also works well. I made the creamy white layer by beating hung curd with a whisk and added salt and white pepper powder. I chopped an onion, a tomato and coriander leaves for the topping. I had two types of caviar : red and black. I layered the crackers with hung curd, topped it with caviar and chopped veggies. It tastes heavenly.

Crabmeat Filling for Sandwiches, Wraps and Canapes

In these rationing and trying days, my pantry gives me the pleasure of my lifetime. I found some crabmeat in my freezer and I had fresh bread with me.

And here was the heavenly combination that I made earlier and had made wraps and canapes also. Actually speaking, this is just a filling or can work as a dip with nachos or fries.

Makes 10 sandwiches

Ingredients

1/2 a cup of crabmeat

2 tbsps of mayonnaise

2 tbsps of cream cheese

Few sprigs of herb of your choice. I used finely chopped coriander leaves.

1/2 of an onion finely chopped

1/4 of a tomato (seeds removed) finely chopped

1/2 if a spring onion green chopped

1 tsp each of mustard sauce, tomato sauce, any hot sauce

A squirt of wasabi paste (optional)

1/4 tsp of black pepper powder

Salt to taste

1 tsp of olive oil.

Procedure

Combine all the ingredients except onion, tomatoes, spring onion green and olive oil.

Mix it well and keep it aside.

Take olive oil in a small shallow pan and once hot, add onion and fry till translucent. Then add tomatoes and saute. Now add spring onion greens and turn off the flame.

Add this to the mixture in the bowl. Mix well and store it in a box. Use it when required. Spread it on a slice of bread and cover it with another slice.

Or let a dollop of it sit on a cracker or canape. This looks very decorative as a snack on a platter.

Or spread it on a tortilla and make a wrap. Let your imagination run wild.

Beetroot Delight

This recipe is one of my favourites. When it comes to beetroot, people especially children don’t seem to like it. But the preparation I am sharing with you now, is one of the best tasting vegetarian food ever. This is also offered to Gods in temples in South of India. I have added a few things of my choice in this recipe.

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 beetroots (peeled and grated)

1 green chilli chopped very fine

2 tbsps of freshly grated coconut

1 tbsp of oil

1/2 a tsp of mustard seeds

1 tbsp of mixed pulses like chana dal, split urad dal and tur dal

A pinch of asafoetida

2 cloves of garlic peeled and finely chopped

Salt to taste.

Procedure

Take a shallow pan with lid and put it on the flame.

Add oil and once hot, add mustard seeds. Let them crackle and then add asfoetida and chopped garlic.

Now add the mixed dals and then add grated beetroot. Saute and now cover and cook for ten minutes on low heat. Don’t add water.

After 10 minutes remove the lid and mix everything and now add grated coconut and green chillies.

Mix everything well and let it cook uncovered for a few more minutes. You can add red chilli powder if you want it hot because beetroot tends to tender a sweet taste which is why it isy not like by many.

This is usually served with plain rice. If there are leftovers, this can be used as an excellent colourful dip or raita when combined with hung curd or thick creamy yogurt.

Daliya(Broken Wheat) Khichdi

This is very filling and has all the benefits of dal, wheat and vegetables. It is normally had with dahi as accompaniment and of course, ghee. Today is Ashok Shoshti for Bengalis that is the sixth day of Chaitra Navratri. Women fast on this day for the welfare of their children. But since I cannot observe fast rigidly, I came up with this idea. Soak Daliya and yellow split mung dal overnight. In the morning, add cumin seeds, hing, red chillies, cinnamon stick and bay leaf in hot oil. Add whatever veggies you like. I added, green peas , carrots and potatoes. Saute well and the add tomatoes. Add haldi, garam masala powder, dhania powder, salt and when everything blends well, add soaked daliya and dal. Add water, pressure cook for two whistles. Your healthy khichdi is ready.

Chicken Seekh Kabab Curry


In times of rationing my pantry, I came up with something I would like to share with you. I had some Meatzaa Chicken kababs in my freezer and a tomato gravy with garlic. I sliced an onion, sauteed it, added sliced kababs and cooked for five minutes. Then I added my tomato paste and garam masala powder. Covered and cooked for a while and added freshly crushed kasoori methi and some cream before finishing it.Add salt to taste.

Patate Douce(Sweet Potato) with Cream

This is a very humble sweet potato that my daughter introduced me to, in Paris. I tried many simple recipes such as steamed patate douce, boiled, sauteed and deep fried version. Believe me, it tasted heavenly in every possible way I tried. The recipe I am sharing today is the sauteed one with butter and sugar. I peeled and cut the vegetable into strips like the way we cut french fries. Soak it in water and keep it aside. Take a tsp of butter for 200 gms of patate douce and heat it. Once done drain water and sautee it. Cover and cook till fully cooked. Raise the heat and sprinkle a tsp of sugar on top. Fry it for a while. Serve it with a dollop of fresh cream or ice cream. The same can be done with boiled, steamed and deep fried version as well. A very simple yet sweet and satisfying end to a meal. Since this vegetable is not available everywhere, it can be made with our own sweet potato.