Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Date and ginger chutney with Tamarind | sonth imli ki chutney...




Sonth imli khajoor ki chutney to be precise. This is a sweet sticky gooey chutney that looks like jam or a fruit preserve. Packed with all the sweet and hot and a little savory and a lot of tangy flavors. All wrapped in one lick of the spoon.

 A complex flavor imparted by an earthy yet tingling kick of dry ginger powder, hot red chilly powder balanced by those juicy bits of dates and a slurry like tamarind jelly. This chutney is used as a condiment with meals or as a topping for many popular chaats. With Dahi vade, with dahi wale gol gappe or with samose..this chutney picks up any snack or meal to a new level.

Here is a dahi vada chaat with this chutney on top and some chopped coriander greens and a few crushed potato chips..It can't get any better.

The recipe is pretty simple and the chutney keeps well in the fridge for about six months. So it is a nice recipe to have in your repertoire. I am sure you have at least one recipe of a tamarind chutney with either dates, Aam papad or even Raisins or Apples. Or Pineapples.

The fruit can be of your choice and the consistency also keeps changing according to the main meal you want to serve it with.

This one is a traditional flavor from UP and goes well with all kinds of chaat.

ingredients...

tamarind 50 gm (seedless sticky tamarind)
Or same amount of tamarind paste from a packet
dates chopped finely 50 gm
jaggery 25 gm or to taste
red chilly powder 1 tsp
dry ginger powder (sonth) 1 tsp Or fresh ginger paste 1 tbsp
garam masala 1/2 tsp (I use this special garam masala, it can be a powder of Laung, Elaichi, Daalchini otherwise, including both kinds of cardamoms all in equal amounts)
salt to taste (1/2 tsp is enough as the chutney is not too salty, adjust salt after the chutney is done)

procedure...

Soak the tamarind in 100 ml water and boil or MW for 2 minutes. Let it cool and mash the pulp and strain the gel like pulp. Discard the solids. You may like to add 50 ml water again to the solids and repeat the process to extract some more thinner tamarind pulp from it. Mix both the filtrates together.

Add the chopped dates and all the other ingredients and boil or microwave the mixture together till it becomes a jelly like consistency. You might like it thinner so stop cooking when your kind of consistency is reached. Thicker chutney lasts longer.

Use as required and refrigerate in an airtight container.


Tamatar ki meethi chutney being an all time favorite, this one comes a close second. It is dangerously addictive as you would want to keep dipping the spoon and licking it.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Hot and garlicky fish steak


This is an old picture of fish steaks fried for dinner some 2 years back. I have been meaning to make this again for some time now and thought of sharing it here instead of dictating the recipe over phone to someone. Waiting for better pictures is not worth if I end up giving every detail and replay the instructions every now and then.

Interestingly, this is the very first recipe of a fish fry I tried on my own. That is when I started eating fish after Mithi was born. I wanted it to be hot and tangy and garlicky all at the same time. Being moi it means the recipe should be quick as well.

It was.

And it kept repeating many times over the years. It's only now for a couple of years that we don't get good fish that easily in the neighborhood and whenever we bring some fish after ages, we want other things to be experimented upon.

This recipe is simple. And it's not a cliche anymore on my blogs. Most of the recipes really are.

The hitch with simple recipes is, you have to follow it to the T. Fewer the ingredients, lesser the chances of any replacements or adjustments.

You know what I mean. If the fish is flavored only with three ingredients, what would you replace?

So the flavors are...Garlic, dry red chillies and preserved raw mangoes.

The good news is, you can use a ready made paste of garlic (if you must), powdered red chilly and a powdered dry mango too (amchoor).

So in this case all three ingredients have suitable replacements :-)

I contradict myself sometimes :-)


I would tell you some more about this salt preserved raw mangoes. In the peak of summers when there are too many raw mangoes around, I pick up a few(say a dozen) peel them and chop them in longish pieces, discarding the stone. Then the pieces are weighed and 20% of the total weight of the raw mango slices is calculated and that is the quantity of salt to be added.


Both the raw mango slices and the salt are mixed together in a glass jar , tightly lidded and kept behind the most used jars on the kitchen shelf. Forgotten till they are needed. Yes, this preserve doesn't need any care till it is required.

So the above three ingredients are made into a paste. about 25 cloves of garlic, 8-10 dry red chillies and 1/3 cup of this raw ,mango preserved in salt. Add salt if using amchoor.

Rub this paste liberally over the fish steaks. Rest for minimum 15 minutes or about an hour in the fridge.


Then heat a pan with oil (I used mustard oil for this one, you can use Olive oil or sesame or even Peanut oil) and shallow fry the steaks both sides till done.

About 5 minutes each side if the steaks are this big. These were about 250 gm each.


A nice crisp crust and soft interiors. This is how a bigger fish steak would result. The same spice mix would result in a crisp fillet or steak if a smaller and thinner piece is used. Tasty any which way.

This recipe is helpful more when you have to work on a few other side dishes too. Doesn't need much preparation and gets fried in a flash.

The ingredients in one place...
fish steaks 4-5 steaks weighing 250 gm each
(these were Rohu steaks)
garlic 25 cloves 
(peeled or with skin, it gets homogenised in the blending process)
dry red chillies 8-10 or to taste 
(use more than you think will be enough, the raw mango preserve nutralises the chilly to an extent) 
salt preserved raw mangoes 1/2 cup or amchoor 1.5 tbsp
(see the details above)

Blend everything in a mixie jar till a smooth paste is formed. No need to use water if using the preserve. Little water will be required wen you use the amchoor.

Some of the paste may be left over and can be used for a similar fry with either potatoes, Colocacia or bitter guards. Can be frozen too till the next time you make this fish again.


Now friends, don't call this blog a ghaas phoos vegetarian blog.

Banaras people eat every thing edible and the Ganges is generous to bless them with fresh fish all the time. Those sitting in Delhi are not that lucky though :(

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Looking for a Sunday brunch in Delhi ?



You have an option where you could find some good Lebanese mezze, a variety of salads with some good cold cuts and cheese and Italian, Indian and Mediterranian main course spreads. Let me tell you where I was this Sunday.

Once again a bunch of Delhi bloggers met for a leisurely gupshup session and to sample a Sunday Brunch. Good company good food.The place was Cafe on 3 at Double Tree by Hilton.

Sid Khullar of Chef at Large, Parul Pratap Shrazi of The Shirazine, Charis Alfred Bhagianathan of Culinary Storm and  Rekha Kakkar of  My Tasty Curry make a good bunch of people on a weekend talking about food and vegetarianism and how a Ravioli that was a Torellini in fact, was looking unappetising when dunked in a beetroot sauce, the only attraction was the perfect sliver of a Parmesan :-)
We all agreed on this one. More or less.

The Cafe has introduced a Sunday brunch that looks quite good for families with young kids too. Some live counters whipping up chaats and kerala appam by the poolside would be good for parents who find a sit down meal difficult with kids.Some action going on is always interesting.

A nice cozy feeling as I entered because an assortment of fresh breads on display was the first thing I noticed. Always a nice feeling for someone who loves to bake breads.


The ambiance is good, would have been better if it was a winter's day. Third floor dining hall with a terrace attached and an infinity pool is a good sight and one wants to linger on if the sun is not so harsh.



The food was good. There was quite a variety in terms of cuisine as well as dishes.

I liked the refreshing salad counter with many dips and cheeses (not in picture) on the right side.



This Shawarma from the Lebanese mezze counter was good , the roasted eggplant salad with feta on the side I liked particularly.


The continental fare included Herb roasted baby potatoes, sauteed vegetables, Pan seared Polenta with tomato coulis, Cottage cheese steak with Bar-be-que sauce, Grilled fish with butter caper sauce, Pan seared tenderloin steak thyme jus and Braised lamb shank with star anise sauce.

Each one of these was really very good, the Polenta I liked particularly as it was quite moist and seeped well in the tomato coulis. Everything on this counter was great.


I tried the Aleppy fish curry with appam in the last and that was such an awesome preparation that I forgot to click a picture. True complement to the dish I devoured slowly. The vegetable stew was great too, very mild spicing, very coconutty and absolutely yummy for me. Highly recommended.

North Indian menu was looking great but couldn't taste as I was quite full by this time.

In the Oriental menu I liked the Lamb with hot garlic sauce , quite succulent and flavorful.

Other dishes on the Oriental menu were Chicken with burnt chilli sauce and mixed vegetables with sichuan sauce and fried rice and hakka noodles etc. I could never taste them all but the menu is certainly tempting.

Most attractively displayed were the desserts, or is it always the case?

Or may be I like those tiny individual serving bowls better :-)


And these assorted dried and fresh fruits, biscotti and short breads to coat with the hot melted chocolate from this fountain that is not in the frame. I like.

Coated some strawberries and felt like a kid :-)

Other desserts I particularly liked were the Coconut mousse , the light, fluffy texture and mild sweet taste, exactly the way I like. And a sprinkling of roasted coconut powder. Perfect. A must try.


Second was an equally light but more moist strawberry mousse. I finished the bowl. Recommended.

Others on the desserts counter were a Linzer tart, Mango mascarpone cream, a Vanilla panacotta with assorted fruits as a topping and English fruit cake.

Kheer, Boondi laddoo, Khoya burfi and even Balu shahi were there if you like the Indian sweets.

Priced at INR1100 plus taxes(without alcoholic beverages) and INR1300 plus taxes (with alcoholic beverages) per person. I see a good value for money as there is a lot to choose from and you would definitely find something you like.

Location Mayur vihar, New Delhi.