Hassleback Potatoes


Potatoes, we love in all forms, roasted, fried, boiled, mashed, as a filling in parathas  etc etc
And then there is the baked potato. With some beans and cheese. And crisp buttered toast. Need I say more!

A play on the baked potato is this Hassleback version, which gets its name from the Swedish Restaurant Hasselbacken, where it was first served sometime in the 1950s.  I wanted to make these since I first laid my eyes on them.  The other day my greengrocer delivered some king sized tubers and Hasslebacks just had to be made!
I served them with baby Focaccia and creamy coleslaw. And a tall glass of Minty Orange Spritzer. This is the stuff dream summery meals are made of.
IMG_9012Ridiculously simple to make too. Hardly a recipe, so to say. Butter them, cover them, stick them into the oven. Herb them, butter ttem, stick them in again. And done 😀
Tra la la! That simple, really 😀

So you need 4-5 (or as many as you like) large, oblong potatoes

And then for the brushing and filling you need
Some butter or olive oil. I used olive oil for the first drizzle and then butter and herbs for the halfway stuffing and brushing.
For 5 large potatoes, I used 3 Tbsp olive oil and about 4-5 tbsp butter. I added some fine chopped fresh parsley, basil and a tbsp of minced garlic to the butter and mixed well. If exotic fresh herbs are difficult to come by, fresh coriander works beautifully.
This part is as-you-like-it kinds. Flavour them with just salt, butter and pepper and a sprinkle of cheese towards the end of the baking period. Or fill them with fresh herbs.
And yeah that’s about it!

Start with washing and drying the potatoes.
Preheat the oven at 250 C with the rack in the middle and both the heating elements on.
Slice the potatoes stopping an inch before you reach the base, so that they are sliced thin but joined at the bottom. Slice them as thin as you can , say about a cm thick.(I need more practice and need to slice them thinner 😛 )
Cover the baking tray with aluminium foil and brush the potatoes all over with olive oil.
IMG_9029The slices won’t show yet but they will when the potatoes are half done. Drizzle some olive oil, sprinkle salt and pepper over the potatoes and cover them with foil, leaving some gaps for letting the steam escape.
Bake for 30-40 minutes, checking in between for them being a little more than half done. The baking time will vary depending on the size and type of potatoes.
Once half done, the layers will easily spread out. Remove the baking tray from the oven
IMG_9036Now melt the butter and add minced garlic , finely chopped herbs, salt and pepper to it. Spread the butter mix over the potatoes making sure some butter does make its way into all the potato slices. Brush the top with the butter mix and bake the potatoes for another 15-20 minutes till the tops are brown and crisp.
IMG_9038Serve immediately.
Garlicky and creamy on the inside and brown and crisp on the outside, this is a stunner of a potato! Use baby potatoes to serve as appetizers.

Upma- Quick Light Healthy Breakfast


This light and quick fix breakfast is healthy and versatile. You can make it just with the basic tempering of mustard seeds and curry leaves or as many seasonal vegetables as you want, to make a mixed vegetable Upma.
Although it may be made in oil, but the taste of the ghee-roasted upma is unsurpassable.
IMG_8036(This recipe serves 3-4)

½ cup semolina/sooji
1 tbsp ghee
1 tsp mustard seeds/rai
6-7 curry leaves
1 small onion, chopped fine ( can omit if making Jain style)
2 green chillies chopped fine
5-6 cashew nuts, chopped coarse
1 tsp lime juice
2 ½ cups of water
1 tsp of urad dal and chana dal each, soaked for 20 minutes
A handful of fresh coriander

Roast the semolina in 1 tsp of ghee till it begins to change colour and gives a toasty aroma.
In another pan, heat the remaining ghee and splutter the mustard. Keep the heat on medium.
IMG_7585Add the cashew nuts and roast them till they get light brown. Add curry leaves and the soaked dals and stir for a minute.
IMG_7587Add onions and fry them till they begin to brown. Add green chillies (and any vegetables if using) and stir for a minute.
IMG_7589Increase the heat to full. Add water and bring to a boil. Add the lime juice.
IMG_7593Slowly add the semolina, stirring continuously till the upma comes together and loose fudge like consistency is reached.
IMG_7598Sprinkle fresh coriander, mix well and serve immediately.

How to make a Middle Eastern Mezze Platter!

What a fun month it has been!
Exploring realms little known, I thoroughly enjoyed myself!
Got to know quite a few histories and stories and the magic of how food connects.

So now to the Mezze platter! Referred to as the Mediterranean Mezze, the Middle Eastern Mezza or the Lebanese Mezze platter- this is a veritable smorgasbord of delights. It is made up of an assortment of chips and dips, fritters and fries, salads and relishes.
The Food Republic explains it so completely and with a cute illustration to boot!  
Pic Courtesy- foodrepublic.com

The mezze platter (sometimes spelled meze) is one of the more malleable snack trays, varying slightly depending on where it’s being served. It’s a popular way to start a meal in Turkey, Israel, Greece, Lebanon — spanning cultures across the Middle East and beyond. However you serve it or say it, the most important thing about mezze is what it means: it’s Arabic for sharing.

Although this platter is meant to serve as a Starter to a meal, it is quite a meal in itself. I have a feeling after having feasted on these goodies, I would only head towards the desserts.
I tried to get a Mezze platter together and made

I started with making Rob-e-Anar aka Pomegranate molaases.
Pomegranate molasses, as they are an essential part of the Middle Eastern cuisine.
IMG_4969Fattoush- The fresh salad with the crunch of Pita bread croutons
IMG_4817-A delicious Watermelon,Feta Cheese and Mint salad

Some gorgeous Middle Eastern dips
-The walnut and red pepper Muahammara
Green Pepper Hummus
-The smoky Baba Ghanoush
-The fresh cucumber yogurt Tzatziki
IMG_5858and the hot hot Harissa Yogurt dip!

The dips I teamed with
No fry Falafels (I have the regular  fried Falafels on the blog too)
Pita Wedges/fingers
Crisp Lavash Crackers and
Spinach and feta cheese filled Sambousek
And though not a part of the Mezze, two gorgeous desserts
The Rob-e-Anar Kaashta Ice cream
and the Basbousa cake dessert!
Ah!! What a month is has been ❤
Until the next one….

Sambousek- the Middle Eastern brother of Samosa!

Edited1Sambousek! As soon as I read the word aloud and looked a picture of this savoury from the Mediterranean Mezze Platter, I said to myself; Aha!! A brethren of the very popular street snack Samosa- is it! I was delighted when my first reaction was proven right!

The Syrian Foodie says ‘Sambousek is one of these words that is very widely used but it doesn’t have a specific meaning. In essence it is meat filled pies served as a starter, part of mezze spread or a side dish. Sambousek is a very popular dish across the Middle East. The popularity of the dish goes all the way to India. You must have guessed that samosa is a variation of the name’ 😀

These can be fried or baked. I baked them and did not miss the fried version at all! And to add to the joy- these are wholegrain, made from coarse Punjabi aata. If this isn’t snacking heaven- what is!

I filled the Sambouseks with a feta cheese and spinach filling. Play around and use anything you like for the filling, sweet or savoury. I adapted the recipe from Natalie Ward’s wonderful vegetarian blog, where she has made them with fig and feta.

I made 35 small Sambousek with this recipe
For the pastry/outer covering of the sabousek

1 ½ cup whole wheat flour/aata
4 Tbsp Oilve oil
¾ tsp salt
½ tsp fennel seeds/saunf
1 tsp cumin/jeera
½ cup warm water to knead the dough

Add salt and olive oil to the flour in a large bowl.
Crush the fennel and cumin slightly with a rolling pin (to release the aroma and flavours better) and add to the flour.
Mix well and knead well to get a soft and supple dough. Transfer to an airtight box or cling film and leave in the fridge for an hour.

Meanwhile prepare the Filling
A small bunch of spinach, washed and chopped fine
1 small onion, chopped fine
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
A pinch of salt
½ tsp pepper
1 ½ tsp olive oil
100 gms feta cheese ( Can substitute with a mixture of processed cheese and paneer/ cottage cheese if feta not available) cut into small thin rectangles

Heat the oil and add the onion and garlic.
Once the onion becomes transparent add the spinach and cook till all the water evaporated. Season with just a pinch of salt and some pepper. (The feta is salty enough to balance the flavour so the spinach needs very little salt)
Let cool completely.

To get the Sambousek together

Divide the dough into two.
On a well floured surface roll out about 3mm thick and cut out circles.
Place a spoonful of spinach filling in the centre and top with a piece of feta.
Moisten the edges of the dough circle and bring two opposite ends up and seal.
IMG_5593Now bring the other two opposite ends up and seal. (A gujiya maker can be used, but I really found this shape very cute J )
Transfer them to a greased baking dish and brush the sambousek with olive oil.
IMG_5596Bake in a pre heated oven at 180C till they brown. Brush very lightly with oilve oil or butter and serve hot.
(These can be cling filmed and stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.  Take them out ten minutes before the baking and proceed.)
Serve with Tzaziki and Harissa yogurt dip.



Lavash- Crisp Whole wheat Crackers!

Lavash is a thin flatbread from the Middle East, specifically from Armenia. It can be made soft and used to make wraps and rolls. I made the crisp version, Lavash crackers and served them with Tzatziki and Harissa Yogurt sauce. Lavash crackers are also served as a part of the Mediterranean Mezze Platter.

In Armenian villages, the dried Lavash is stacked high in layers to be used later, and when the time comes to rehydrate the bread, it is sprinkled with water to make it softer again. In its dry form, left-over Lavash is used in Iran to make quick meals after being rehydrated with water, butter and cheese.
In Kashmir it is known as Lavasa or lavase and is a popular breakfast bread.Lavase pieces with green walnut kernels folded between them are considered a delicacy.

Lavash crackers are really simple to make and can be easily stored for days. Enjoy them as an appetiser with a dipping sauce or just nibble on a couple with your cuppa. They reminded me of the Sesame Thins I had made; only these are the savoury version of those!
I made them with Aata (whole wheat flour).
(This recipe serves 4)

1 ½ cup Aata/Whole wheat flour (half whole wheat and half all purpose flour may be used)
2 Tbsp sesame seeds, a mixture of black and white
1 tsp salt
¼ cup Olive Oil
½ cup water
1 Tbsp oregano or mixed seasoning (optional)

Pre-heat the oven for ten minutes and 180C and grease a baking tray.
Toast the sesame seeds lightly.
Add salt, olive oil and sesame seeds to the flour and rub with your fingers to mix well.
Add the water slowly and make a soft pliable dough.
Divide into four.
IMG_5553 (2)
Roll out really thin, almost see through thin.
Cut out a circle and slice into triangles.
Transfer to the greased tray and brush the top with oil.
Bake till golden and crisp.
Recipe sourced and adapted from here.


No Fry Falafels with Unleavened instant Pitas aka Chapati Pitas!

Simple chapatis don’t cut much ice with my boys, so I play the sneak and ‘Lebanise’ them sometimes 😉
Rolled small and thick and nicely puffed up, chapatis make crisp unleavened Pita pockets. Off late I have started making no fry falafels thanks to my dear friend Sonal Kalra’s wonderful recipe. I now cook the chick peas before I  grind them rather than grinding them raw. Also, I pan fry them in very little oil rather than deep frying them. As they get made very often in my kitchen, this healthy variation is a blessing. And honestly, we don’t miss then fried ones.

You need
A cup of cooked chick peas/kabuli chane/chhole
1  medium sized onions, chopped into cubes
6 Tbsp fresh cilantro/hara dhaniya, chopped coarse
3 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped coarse
5 cloves garlic, chopped coarse
1 tsp salt
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp roasted cumin powder
1 Tsp lemon juice
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
Oil to brush the falafels
2-4 Tbsp bread crumbs (Add slowly only as much needed to bind the falafels)

Drain the chickpeas well and grind them coarse. Do NOT add any water.
Grind the remaining ingredients (barring bread crumbs)
Mix the two.
Now slowly add breadcrumbs, a tsp at a time, so that the falafel mixture comes together to form patties.
Make all the patties as per desired size.
Pan fry the patties on a non stick pan brushing slightly with oil till they are browned on both sides.
We had them with some green pepper hummus, stuffed into our chapati-Pitas 😀

Whole Wheat Pitas

You can always got the traditional way and make the dough with yeast. I have gone completely whole wheat off late.
Knead the pita dough with 4 cups of aata/whole wheat flour  with a tsp of salt, 1 tsp of instant yeast (bloomed in half a cup of warm water and 1 tsp of sugar) and rest it for a couple of hours. Here it is all doubled up and proved.
Roll out small flatbreads
Bake at full heat in the oven till they puff up and brown.
Alternatively make them on the stove top on a heavy griddle.
These will be browner than the Maida/All purpose flour pitas, but as good in taste!

The perfect Rawa Dosa

I learn so much at CaL every day (Chef At Large, the food forum where my food love blossomed)! I had an urge to have rawa dosa the other day and tried my buddy Amruta Iyer’s fabulous recipe with perfect results. And thanks to dear Sushma Ayyalasomayajula for her oh so yum sambar recipe.
Ams and Sush- you rock girls!
Here is the link to Amsie’s perfect rawa dosas.
And here is my plate of yum!


For the rawa dosas you need

(Makes 6-7 dosas)
A cup of coarse semolina/sooji/rawa (roasted and cooled)
3 tbsp rice flour
1/2 cup of curd
A cup and a half of water (can add more if the batter gets thick)
2 large green chillies, chopped fine
½ tsp Asafoetida/  heeng
1 medium onion, chopped fine
A small bunch or coriander, chopped fine
Salt to taste
Oil as needed for making the dosas.

Mix the rawa, rice flour,salt,curd,onions,green chillies,coriander,asafoetida and beat together with a ladle so that it blends well.
Slowly add water to make a liquidy,runny sort of batter. Rest for 15-20 minutes.
Heat a non stick pan.
Splash some water and let it evaporate.
Spread a ladle full of the batter from the outer periphery of the pan. Fill the larger gaps with very little batter, but let some gaps remain for the characteristic webbed effect of  rawa dosa.
Alternatively, scoop some batter in your palm and throw splashes of it on  the pan, creating the web. This needs practice and a safe distance from the hot pan and hence, for beginners the ladle method works better 😀
Lower the heat and drizzle oil around the dosa and over the the holes/gaps.
Cover and let cook on low heat for about 3-4 minutes.
Uncover and increase the flame to full.
Once the edges brown,flip and cook for a couple of minutes.
Serve hot!

Before making the next dosa, mix the batter well so that the semolina settled at the bottom mixes well.
If the batter feels thick, add some more water.
Let the pan heat nicely before making the next dosa.
Serve it with this wonderful Andhra style tangy Sambar like I did!

Onion-Yougurt Tawa Sandwich with some Fresh Grape Juice

Another sandwich! Can we ever enough of them? I guess not. I love desi sandwiches as much as I love the fancy ones. Remember my Desi Tawa Masala Sandwich! A sandwich with juice makes for a perfect summer meal.

This one’s a memory from my teenage years and I reckon most kids who grew up in the eighties and nineties fixed themselves this yogurt spread quick- fix-delight!  There are probably a variety of ways this sandwich is made. Here I share the way my granny made it and then my Mum. I could fix this myself when I was about 13.

It takes five minutes to make and packs a punch.

You need
White or brown sandwich bread
Some oil to brush the pan
Some mustard seeds/rai
10-15 curry leaves

For the spread
A cup of thick yogurt/curd/dahi
A medium onion chopped fine
A large green chilly chopped fine
A small bunch of coriander chopped fine
Salt to taste
½ tsp red chilly powder
¼ tsp asafoetida
(I sometimes like to splutter some mustard seeds in a tsp of oil, add some curry leaves and asafoetida and add to the yogurt spread)

Heat a non stick pan and brush it will oil. Drizzle a few drops in the centre.
Spread the slices with the yogurt mix.
Once the pan heats up, splutter half a tsp of mustard seeds and throw in a few curly leaves.
Quickly place the sandwich on the mustard seeds.
Press down with a spatula so that the sandwich browns well all over.
Brush the top lightly with oil.
Flip the sandwich and brown the other side too.
Serve hot. It doesn’t really need any dip, ketchup or chutney.
Best enjoyed with a tall glass of chilled juice.
Grape Juice
I blitzed a cup of grapes with half a tsp of sugar, some rock salt,chat masala and a dash of lime and it was a fabulous meal!
Shannu, who blogs at  Food Passion and Love ,gave me the fabulous idea of this refreshing juice. Thanks Shannu 😀

The festival of Makar Sakranti and Batata Wada/Aloo Kofta

Batata wada 2

Makar Sakrati is big in my home town,actually Huge! There is excitement in the air almost a fortnight prior to the festival. On January 14th every year, the Jaipur sky is dotted with colourful kites and their arrival is announced by loud music from every rooftop right from 5 AM in the morning. Sunglasses clad eyes and band-aid clad fingers are seen on every roof top! It is a lovely time of the year. Miss you Jaipur!

Colloquially referred to as Sakrat, it is a day made for feasting on snacks- the fried variety. Large batches are fried and sent to the roof and empty serving plates keep coming back to the kitchen for refills along with jugs of lassi and chaach! There are pakodas/bhajiya, samosas, kachoris, and then the much loved Batata Wada/aloo kofta.

Call it Batata Wada, Aloo Bonda or Kofta, it is as yum! Garlicky and spicy potato masala dipped in gram flour batter and deep fried, what is not to love!
Batata wada 1
To make about 20 Aloo Koftas you need

For the Filling
4 large potatoes, boiled peeled and mashed
5-6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped fine
1 tsp fine chopped green chilli
1 tsp grated ginger
1 Tbsp chopped fresh coriander
1 Tbsp oil
½ tsp heeng/asafoetida
1 tsp mustard/rai
4-5 curry leaves
1 tsp salt
½ tsp red chilli powder
¼ tsp turmeric powder
¼ tsp mango powder/aamchoor
1 Tbsp oil

Heat the oil and add heeng and rai. Once the rai crackles, add the curry leaves,ginger,garlic,green chilli and onions.

Add salt, chilli powder, turmeric and mango powder when the onions turn brown.
Add the mashed potatoes and mix well.

Take off the heat and add coriander.
Let cool and make small balls.
For the batter
Besan/chick pea flour-  1 cup
Minced garlic- 1 tbsp (or less if you find it too pungent)
Water- ¾ cup (add slowly to make a medium thick batter)
Salt- 1 tsp
Red chilli powder- ½ tsp (or less as per taste)
Turmeric  (Haldi)-  1 fat pinch
Mango Powder (Aamchoor)- ¼ tsp
Garam Masala- ¼ tsp
Green chillies,chopped fine- 1 tsp
Fresh coriander, chopped fine- 1 Tbsp

Mix all and slowly add water to make a medium thick batter.
Mix well with a balloon whisk.

Dip the potato balls in the batter and deep fry.
Serve hot with coriander chutney.


Stuff into pav with some chutney to enjoy Bombay style Wada Pav!


Batata Wada Overhead_wm

Aloo Tikki


I serve Aloo ki tikki in a number of ways and across occasions. As a party starter, kids get-together, evening chai or a complete meal in itself. When serving as a starter, I make tiny mini ones. To be honest I am partial to making tiny versions of snacks. I do it with kachoris as well as samosas.
Sometimes they make for a complete meal and that’s when I make them king size and serve them with chole, mint coriander chutney and  sweet tamarind chutney.The faithful tikki has never let me down.

I make them with a dal and peas stuffing when serving for a meal. This is the simple un-stuffed quick make tikki!

This recipe makes 20-25 small tikkis

4-5 large potatoes, boiled, peeled and mashed
5-6 slices of bread, soaked, squeezed and crumbled
1 medium onion, chopped very fine
1 Tbsp fresh coriander, chopped fine
1 tsp green chilli, chopped very fine
½ tsp ginger, grated very fine
1 tsp salt
½ tsp red chilli powder
¼ tsp garam masala
¼ tsp mango powder
A pinch of black pepper powder
Mix all the listed ingredients well.
Make small tikkis.
Deep fry in medium hot oil, or shallow fry in a heavy bottomed pan alternating the heat between high and medium. Keep an eye at all times. We are looking for a nice brown crust.
Serve with green coriander chutney and tomato ketchup.

IMG_at 3_wm