Prawns, baby squid, amaranth, malwan curry, dried fish stock

March 21, 2015 Leave a comment

Amaranth leaves are like the poor man’s spinach and I’ve always been fascinated by their color. They have a neutral taste that goes well with prawns without overpowering their subtle flavors.

Clean prawns and baby squid, add turmeric and salt, refrigerate for half an hour
Malwan masala – Dry roast coriander seeds and red chillies, grind with ginger, garlic, coconut milk
Soak dried fish (I used bombil but dry prawns would work well) and kokum in warm water for an hour


Sauté finely chopped onions and garlic with curry leaves in coconut oil
Add squid and prawns and stir for couple of minutes
Add malwan masala, stock and bring to boil
Stir in amaranth leaves and simmer for 10/15 minutes
Rest for 15 minutes and serve

Categories: Cooking Tags: , , ,

Summer dessert – Poached papaya with mint and vanilla ice cream

March 21, 2015 Leave a comment


Papaya cooked liked this has a texture of ahi tuna and it is a quick fix dessert if you just have the fruit and ice cream at home.

Keep sugar + water to boil
Add diced ripe papaya
Bring it boil and add fresh mint, orange juice, orange rind, cinnamon powder
Reduce heat and simmer for 45-60 mins or till syrupy
Serve hot with ice-cream and freshly chopped mint

Categories: Cooking Tags: , ,

Arancini with Mackerel, cauliflower, sweet potato, thai/konkani curry

March 8, 2015 Leave a comment

It started with Mackerel. The old koli lady in chuim village had a spare produce day. “All boys have gone to play Holi”. The thing which stood apart were the mackerel. Three for 120. I wanted something green and spicy to match the oily fIsh so picked up some fresh coriander, fat green chillies and some ginger and garlic to go with it.
Added coconut milk to tone down the heat and instead of plain rice thought Arancini balls would go well.



– Clean, salt, and add turmeric to mackerel steaks. Refrigerate.
– Lightly saute cauliflower florets and thinly sliced sweet potato in coconut oil and keep aside
– Curry: grind fresh coriander, roasted cumin and coriander seeds, roasted green chillies, Ginger, and garlic with coconut milk
– Soak kokum with warm water
– LIghtly fry mackerel with onions till slightly browned, add curry paste, kokum water and bring to boil. Add veggies and simmer for 10-12 mins. Rest.
– Arancini: mix cooked rice (I used Arborio) with cheese and 1 egg and season well with salt and pepper. Make balls, dip in egg white, roll in rice flour and deep fry.
– Assemble and serve.

Categories: Cooking Tags: ,

The weekend project – Sous-vide and Indian style lamb chops

August 26, 2012 1 comment

Well, I hadn’t made Lamb in a while nor I had used my sous-vide cooker lately.  When I came across a lovely dish of Lamb Chops made Indian style by @AmritaRana and the possibility of improvizing sous-vide style with Indian cooking, it seemed worthy of a weekend project.



This dish has the heft of onions and tomatoes gravy, flavor of ginger and garlic and aromatics of bay leaf, whole peppers and garam masala. I used a dash of sriracha in my marinade to add a little extra punch. Typical Indian meat cooking process has two stages; marination and stewing. I introduced sous-vide cooking between the two to have evenly cooked lamb infused with marinade flavors without running the risk of marinade burning and tasting like charcoal. Cook Lamb medium, 60 degree C for 2 hours, and bring it back to the stewing process with rest of the onion and tomato gravy to finish it off. For the gravy, basics are to use onions, tomoatoes, ginger, garlic and chilles. There is a fair amount of leeway, especially in dry spices, for individual cooks to work with. I used bay leaf and whole peppers but star anise, cinnamon and aniseed would compliment this dish as well.  

Cheers and happy cooking!

Categories: Cooking Tags: , , ,

Big Night (1996) – A movie with a big stomach

August 1, 2012 Leave a comment

I never liked Tony Shalhoub (recently of TV series Monk fame) and his brand of social awkwardness gets to me. With that kind of baggage, a movie where Mr Shalhoub co-stars, had to have something to get me hooked. Even if the movie that we are talking about is a cult movie in certain circles where a new ramen joint is mentioned in hushed tones and snorting cheesecakes is not uncommon. 

The director has taken a simple plot of two brothers, Tony’s character as the chef and Stanley Tucci’s character as the Maitre ‘d, trying to make their restaurant a success and woven in complexities of life and business in it. What makes the movie work is one phenomenal dinner sequence and the insight on the basic struggle between originality and popularity in restaurant business.

In the dinner sequence, it’s simply joyous to see Tony Shalhoub’s character enjoying the sight of his guests loving his food. The risotto course with Italian colors and the fabulous Il Timpano course, a drum shaped stuffed pasta, are worth waiting for. In the end, beauty of this movie lies in battle between Tony’s and Stanley’s characters. It’s a choice between originality and popularity, between being Spielberg or Bergman. Pascal, their villainous and well to do neighbouring restaurant owner, brings the insight home to be true to one’s character.

Big Night is a heart-warming and stomach-pleasing watch.

Categories: Exploring Tags: , ,

BeliEats reviews Eleven Madison Park: A dash of Davis to shake up the old guard

July 29, 2012 6 comments

“Needs a little Miles Davis”, observed Moira Hodgson, restaurant critic of the New York Observer, on her review of Eleven Madison Park. Whatever Ms Hodgson meant by it, the feedback was taken literally by partners Daniel Humm and Will Guidera and they came up with a list of 11 words describing Davis and hung it on their kitchen wall. Some of these included cool, endless reinvention, inspired, forward-moving, fresh, collaborative, spontaneous, vibrant, adventurous, light and innovative. Five years later and the restaurant has not only bagged three Michelin stars but is also ranked among top 10 in the world today.

The story of how the team rebuilt a restaurant is as fascinating as what they serve. I decided to hear some Miles Davis on the way home from EMP and the word that came to mind ‘panache’. There is a lazy sensuality in Miles Davis’s compositions that EMP has extended to its service and its fare. Davis was also known for being at the forefront of Jazz innovation and stylistic development for over five decades. Not a bad role model for any restaurant or business to have!

In other departments, EMP has each table attended to by more than one server. The result? Carefully choreographed service with an appearance of delightful spontaneity. The lengthy printed menu has been replaced a chic 4×4 grid just listing ingredients. The dishes are modernist with light sauces, local ingredients and varied cooking techniques. Consider the Nova Scotia Lobster tail poached with zucchni, avocado, and mint. The dish had the creaminess of poached lobster balanced by crunch of Amaranth, freshness of zucchini flower and mint, added creaminess of avocado, all wrapped in a savory foam. Or then the ‘egg cream’ in which a server mixes orange syrup with cocoa flavored milk and seltzer right on the table for a cool menu separator. But this doesn’t stop EMP from tipping its hat to old New York traditions like the clam bake. A small kettle with clam chowder arrived on a bed of pebbles and sea weed along with a bowl containing clam, chorizo and corn and corn husk containing zucchini bread.

At the end of the meal, I was invited to visit the kitchen. I stood behind a small makeshift table to observe the kitchen and the chef, all set to make a space-age cocktail for me! What’s a space age cocktail? Think of a slushy made out of gin by mixing it with liquid nitrogen and then ladled cherry foam into a vat of liquid nitrogen to fast freeze foam into pink orbs. These orbs were then served over a bed of bing cherries, gin slushie, and swirling liquid nitrogen in a tumbler glass. I tapped the orbs, melting it into the slushie and scooping it up in a bite of refreshing and cool drink. Fancy!

As I write this, EMP has embarked on the next stage of reinvention by offering an extravagant, participatory, close-to-four-hour ode to the romance and history of New York ( “A restaurant experience only lives in your memory,” said chef Daniel Humm in one of his interviews, and I think no amount of writing or photography can accurately capture it.

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Catch and Eat – A Red Snapper meal in Costa Rica

July 12, 2012 4 comments

I have grown up in a vegetarian household, where there was a huge premium on growing vegetables and respecting the seasons; I couldn’t say the same about sea food. It had been a small wish of mine to catch fresh seafood, oversee preparation and have it freshly cooked. If I think deeper, the driving instinct for this had been less of hunting and more of understanding the environs where fish live and knowing enough of their behavior to be able to hook one! 

I recently got an opportunity during a surfing camp trip in Costa Rica. The day started with a surf lesson at 6 in the morn and then reported at the beach for my fishing trip. Buenos dias, its a good day for fishing, said Escobar my captain. I looked up, and it was a clear day, light breeze and thin clouds. Holding my flip flops in my hand, I waded through the water and was helped into the boat by Julio, the first mate. Within 20 mins of heading into the ocean, the coast had all but disappeared. Here we cast out first lines with plain lures. Within 10 minutes we got two tugs and had two lovely 1 ft silver tuna aboard. Well, this ended pretty soon, I thought. These are just baits for bigger fish, says Julio, as if reading my mind. This was getting more serious than I imagined. It was a bit of a struggle getting those juvenile tuna aboard and the thought of something bigger on the end of my line was daunting. While I was thinking this, the tuna had turned into bait and was in the water. After couple of miscues, Julio felt a big tug and called me over to hold the rod. This was a strong powerful fish. After about 10 minutes of reeling in and fish making a run, we finally could see the fish and if was a Red Snapper! At around 35lb and 3ft, a big one to boot!

It had lovely pattern on it skin and a really toothy predatory mouth. Soon our captain gutted and filleted it. Escboar also passed a small morsel to have sashimi style and after dipping it in sea it tasted salty fresh. I took a fillet  for my lunch and donated the rest to Escobar’s and Julio’s families. On reaching the beach, a Chef by the name of Luis in El Pescador restaurant cooked a lovely fish curry out of my snapper.

A traditional fish meal in Costa Rica consists of grilled fish with rice, pinto beans and salad. On my request to have a curry, Chef Luis was very excited and it turns out he was an admirer of India and its cuisine.  His interpretation of a curry turned out to be one with pan-fried fish with mustard, plantains, potatoes and peppers! It was sweet, tart and deliciously fresh. All in all, a lovely meal to cap off a brilliant day.