There’s something about the Diwali festival, that gets me all excited and ready to pull out fried snacks and sweets that are otherwise a taboo. This entree is a speciality and the recipe comes down from the maternal side of my family. In the olden days, all the women family members would gather together in the huge courtyards and kitchens and create these delicacies over a couple of days before Diwali. These would then be divided among the family which would in turn be gifted to friends. It was called Diwali Nasta and people would be invited to partake in it.
Today, no one has the time or the energy to create these foods. People hire out maharajs (cooks) or buy ready-made sweets and savoury items. But my family, prefers to make a couple of entrees ourselves. This is one of them. It’s a laborious and time intensive process, but the results are superb.
Let’s not beat around the bush here, diet food is not always fun. And no matter how many recipe sites I go to or posts I surf through, I don’t usually find a recipe that brings a smile to my lips the way French Fries does! Why does diet food always need to be bland and uninspiring?
When I started off cooking for my diabetic husband knocking processed foods, carbs, fats and sugars was a priority. Salads became a must have. Then came the ordeal of making greens interesting and innovative. I mean how many kinds of salads can you make?
I love desserts. And I like them even better if they are easy to make and come with fresh ingredients–something I’ve learnt to indulge in post my die-hard fascination for MasterChef. Yeah I am a sucker for food shows and to meet Gordon Ramsay stands very high on my Bucket List. But till then I am happy to devour every cookbook of his and lay my hands on every recipe he has published. He seems to have the right knack of simplifying the most horrendously tricky procedures and making it super simple! But enough about my gushing love for him…
This is not one of his recipes, but is a version of Martha Stewart’s creation. And what I like about it, is its simplicity. My first restaurant, Skie Grille, in Utorda Goa was all about food off the grill, may be that’s why this recipe is close to my heart. Or may be it’s just the ease in creating it–all it takes is 5 minutes and can be made with ingredients found in every pantry.
I’ve often had to entertain large groups of friends and family who don’t want me spending time in the kitchen when they are around. And yet they expect, yes I do spoil the ones I love, a three or four course meal.
The first time I was asked to stay out of the kitchen, I freaked! My meats and accompaniments were not done, the dessert was in the oven, the drinks were flowing but the starters were still being assembled. Disaster. There I was scooping out pies and spooning out fillings into little tartlets even as I guzzled my own ice filled glass of the poison of the day! Though the evening, or rather early morning, ended up with everyone being fabulously drunk on food and spirits, I ticked myself off mentally. No more last-minute cooking for this group of friends.
A fussy eater that I am, I’ve never found the right spice mix for my burgers. Having worked with spices and herbs over time, I’ve finally zeroed down on one that appeals to my senses. What’s better is that this recipe can be tweaked to suit different taste buds. As long as love the taste, who cares about fractions and permutations and combinations!
This recipe can be adapted to create a diabetic friendly and diet friendly version. The pure herb mix can also be used as a rub for pork and beef steaks.
This is one of my favourite sauces. Add it to a grilled chicken salad, fry onions in it for a sandwich or top it on chips or stuffed tacos…it lends flavour to any entrée.
If you are looking to jazz up this sauce a wee bit more, feel free to add some whisky or rum to it, giving yourself enough time to burn the alcohol off during the cooking process.
If you use dark brown sugar, you will get a darker shade of sauce.
If you use whole grain mustard, the sauce will be denser, but you can use English Mustard too. The best way to make a sauce is to keep tasting it, and making your notes as you add ingredients. Once you find the right proportions to tickle your taste buds, your recipe and variations with help you achieve the same product, time after time.
Burgers have to be sloppy. There’s no other way to devour this gigantic piece of absolute delight. But that’s not where the expectations end! Every teeny-weeny morsel has to burst with a unique marriage of flavours that comes from its spicy, sour, tangy, meaty, creamy and fresh ingredients.
When I started creating these burgers, I knew little about flavours and textures and it was all about slamming a seasoned meat patty between 2 slices of a toasted bun. With French fries, tomato ketchup and mustard for an accompaniment, the meal was basic but filling and left me satiated.
However over time, I started to experiment with flavours and textures. Minced pork was added to minced beef, minced beef was mixed with minced chicken, pork and chicken were minced together with garlic and believe me each one of these different combinations, ticked different taste boxes.
So, how does one start making a tandoori dish without a tandoor?
Leave that for the oven to figure out.
All you need to care about is–buy the best (read freshest) fish available, gut it, clean it, slash it and marinate it in this five-minute marinade.
The coolest thing about it, is the longer it is marinated the more robust and enhanced are the flavours. Which makes it perfect entree for a party. The crispy skin, golden glow tandoori fish is quite a “pick-me-up” on any dinner table. What’s more you can garnish the plate with some onions that have been left soaking in vinegar, sugar and salt till they have achieved a pinkish tone; and freshly chopped tomato and cucumber to create an absolute down to earth, homely and eye-catching platter.