Indian Chaat — Ragda Pattice

Indian Chaat Ragda Pattice--best had with a dollop of tamarind-jaggery chutney
Indian Chaat Ragda Pattice–best had with a dollop of tamarind-jaggery chutney and some raw mango

Yet another street food speciality of India, the Ragda Pattice sells for anything between Rs 30 to Rs 300 a plate depending on where you indulge yourself. But I must tell you, the crispiest pattice are sold by the roadside where the potatoes are seasoned with chillies and crisped up in hot oil. may be even tossed in flour before it hits the smoking oil which renders it its goodness.

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Som Tum or Green Papaya Salad

papaya saladI was introduced to this dish as a 10-year-old. I hated it then. I hated the beans and cherry tomatoes that went in it. It was only when I entered my 30s that I developed a taste for Thai food and boy, has that been a revelation. I’ve tried to Thai-lise every dish I can make, mimicking tastes I’ve gathered over my many trips to Thailand. But the Som Tum will always hold a special place in my heart, I learnt to make it the authentic way from a road vendor on Soi 16, who even let me whip up the dish and use her wooden mortar and pestle to make it with her. :)  On that trip back home, my bag was full of food stuff–squid ink pasta, sticky rice, wild rice, sauces, salt, chilli and a wooden mortar and pestle.

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Strawberry and Spinach Salad with Toasted Almonds

Yummilicious salad: a perfect accompaniment to any protein
Yummilicious salad: a perfect accompaniment to any protein

When I first read about this combination, I wrote it off as “eeks–cant be”. Then when I bought The Flavour Thesaurus and stumbled on various combinations that were supposed to be meant for each other, my thoughts were drawn to this recipe I had read a long time ago. I mean who in their right state of mind would combine spinach with strawberries and onion! But boy does it work…the textures, flavours literally play bursting bubbles with the taste buds.
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Grilled Chicken stuffed with Pepperoni and Cheese

Chicken stuffed with pepperoni, cheese and jalapenos
Chicken stuffed with pepperoni, cheese and jalapenos

Now this is a dish I can devour, no matter when it’s made. It’s simple, rustic and packed with flavours and has all my favourite ingredients. What’s more it gets put together in a jiffy and looks exotic even if it is served with a simple salad like the Sweet Potato, mint and Pomegranate Salad listed here. I’ve added a recipe for Gucamole, just to get the entree, rich in vitamin C.

My fridge is usually stocked with chicken breasts, its one of the easiest and most easily accessible protein element. This pepperoni came all the way from Germany, the last bit of our shopping :( and to add to my pleasure I had some mozzarella cheese again from Amsterdam. I love travelling only because I get to eat foods of the world and bring back home flavours I love to experiment with.

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Puran Poli

This  Indian traditional sweet stuffed roti is cooked in most house holds on festive occasions.
This Indian traditional sweet stuffed roti is cooked in most house holds on festive occasions.

Desserts define Indian tastes, there are as many different types of creations as there are may be cities in the country. Look at this really simple sweet dish for example–the puran poli. Every state has its own way of making it. Where people in Maharashtra use channa dal (gram), those in Gujarat use toovar dal (split pigeon pea), people in the Konkan belt (where Goa is situated) add coconut to it and those in Karnataka serve it with a tamarind chutney to enhance the flavours. Just one dish, but so many variations. What’s more almost every house cooks some of these traditional sweets during festive occasions, and this puran poli definitely belongs to that category of ‘must makes’. Traditionally its made during Holi, just after the bonfire is lit.

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Egg Curry

Indian Egg Curry,  a meal that satiates all taste buds
Indian Egg Curry, a meal that satiates all taste buds

This simple classic dish, can be made in a million different ways, why in India itself there are many ways of creating this lip smacking delicacy. The Kerala Egg Curry is subtly spiced sauce made with coconut milk; the Mangalorean recipe calls for use of boiled eggs, coconut and red chilies; the Punjabi Egg Masala or anda curry is a spicy curry with boiled eggs,spices and cooked in onion, tomato gravy; the Kolhapuri egg curry has robust flavours and is made by grinding spices along with poppy seeds, the Shahi Egg Curry is rich and is made with cream and sprinkled with kasturi methi and the Gujarati egg curry…am joking most Gujarati’s stay away from all things non-vegetarian, unlike me. My recipe is a combination of flavours I have come to love and understand better over time.

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Paneer Jalfrazi

Not the traditional recipe, but one that is almost oil free and high on flavours
Not the traditional recipe, but one that is almost oil free and high on flavours

A quick fix hearty meal, is what this is. Jalfrezi is a type of Indian dish in which pieces of vegetables are fried in oil and spices to produce a dry, thick sauce. Since there is no gravvy involved, it can be stirred up in a matter of a few minutes. Jalfrezi can be made as spicy as you wish and in that lies its success to cater to different tastes. The other main ingredients include capsicums, onion and tomato. History dates the Jalfrezi back to the British Raj and  according to a new poll, the Jalfrezi is the most popular choice in Britain’s 10,000 Indian restaurants. This is not the traditional way of cooking this dish, but this quick fix recipe has all the flavours intact without being doused with oil.

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Dal Dhokli

Traditional Gujarati Dal Dhokli
Traditional Gujarati Dal Dhokli

This is as traditional as it gets! A Sunday afternoon lazy lunch with piping hot dal-dhokli. Its a perfect combination of proteins and carbs or rather dal and roti, but all mixed into one dish…the Indian pasta as my cousins often call it! Just like pasta, this dish needs to be made on the spot and served hot to really relish it. What’s more it can be enjoyed as a one-pot dish or you can enjoy it with some steamed basmati rice too. Either way, this is one dish that grows on you and can be made as festive as you wish–with simple easy additions of broken cashew nuts, raisins and dried dates (kharek).

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Sambhariya

Sambhariya, a speciality from Gujarat
Sambhariya, a speciality from Gujarat

It’s not often that I get into the mood of eating typical indian food but when i do a few dishes from my state always find their way into my kitchen. Sambhariya also known as olio is one such speciality of Gujarat. A winter food it is best eaten with bajra na rotla and khatta meetha moong, made with lots of garlic and yoghurt.

The flavours in this dish come from the marriage of coconut with coriander and the dry spices and of course lots of oil. Though the dish when presented seems like an awful lot of work, its the pre cooking that takes the longest. But if you can access grated coconut nothing like it.

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