Cumin in My Spice Cupboard

Cumin, can be added to many curries as a seed or ground into a powder. In fact, one of the popular spices in most curries IS cumin, believe it or not.

Cumin Seeds

Cumin Seeds

Cumin Seeds

Cumin seeds are slightly crescent shaped with ridges appearing lengthwise around them.  Don’t let the seeds fool you, they may look dry and dusty but the magic is all inside.  In seed form they taste earthy with pungent undertones.

Cumin seeds are used either at the initial stage of cooking a curry or they are popped in hot oil and sprinkled at the end as a garnish.  The hot oil enhances the deep and nutty aroma of the spice. The flavor of the cumin really kicks in when it is cooked.

The most dramatic of techniques, to intensify its flavor, would be to fry it in a little oil or ghee, at a really high temperature until it starts popping. Becareful not to burn them at this stage. If you do, it is best to throw it out and restart with some fresh oil. Continue reading

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Masala Eggplant in Jersey City

Conjuring up this dish brings back fond memories of living in a highrise apartment in Jersey City, right along the Hudson River. The whiff of the nigella seeds toasting in oil, reminds me of floating blocks of ice gliding across the river in front of me as I peered out of the large windows framing the Manhattan skyline.

Masala Eggplant Close up

Usually in the evening, with my pots simmering away in my awesome little kitchen – I’d sit near the window and gaze across the river into the city, waiting patiently for my husband to come home. Now, now, don’t get carried away with your imagination, it was not like an Indian movie…and I was surely not wearing a sari. Well not on that day anyway 😉 Continue reading

Dhokri or Dhokla – Steamed Savoury Cake

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Dhokri is my comfort food… I ate a lot of it whilst growing up and could count on there being a plateful of dhokri at any given event.  Apart from being a delicious mouthful Dhokri does make for the perfect finger food.  The lemony yellow snack would shine away as if peeking out from behind a cloud – heavy with rain. The tangy sponginess accompanied by the snappy crunch of the sesame seeds, laced with the herby aroma of the cilantro will have you salivating unapologetically.

Dhokri is a slightly spicy and tangy savory snack mostly made in Gujarati homes.  It has the texture of a light sponge cake.  The bulk of the recipe is made with chickpea flour and the dough is tied with either buttermilk or yogurt, along with several spices and left to ferment overnight.  It’s then steamed in trays, cooled, cut and garnished with fresh cilantro, sesame and black mustard seeds.  It does seem kind of daunting at first, but believe me once you get the hang of it, it’s ‘putsy peasy’. Continue reading

Mango Pickle – Keri jo Aathnu

Mango Pickle

Methi (fenugreek) Mango Pickle

Summer, Oh wonderful Summer!! We wait endlessly for summer to roll on by and when it does… It seems we get busy pickling, jamming, bottling and stuffing summer into containers to savor in the winter months that lay ahead.

This weekend I picked up a bag full of green mangos, available at this time of the year. If you’ve never had one, maybe this summer will be a first. Green mangos are quite unlike their yellow counterparts. They are quite tart and crunchy to munch on. Basically, they are the raw version of the voluptuous yellow orbs that frequent most grocery stores.

My mum, the best damn cook I know, would cut the unpeeled green mangos into long slivers. Sprinkle them with cayenne pepper and salt, and serve it as a condiment with our main meal of the day. My sister and me, would later make mango pickle sandwiches and eat it as a snack. The pillowy softness of the thick slices of bread slathered with butter and layered with the mangos were absolute perfection… I’m drooling right now! Continue reading

Dhaar with Vegetables – (Lentil and Vegetable Curry)

My Mums Recipe

As a child and well into the years after I got married, I absorbed as much as I could from my maternal grandmother regarding her cooking and recipes.  I  would gaze at her for hours, mesmerized by the effortless way she made ingredients come together.  She would make barfee – a sweet Indian confection similar to fudge, with a balanced sweetness complimented by the creaminess of the ghee – that held it together.  It was never overly sweet.  Her rotis were the best I’ve had and, as a matter of fact, many folk lucky enough to be in her realm would vouch for that too.  A hot ghee smeared roti, perfectly toasted on top to reveal a crispy layer against the pillowy softness of the bottom layer, begged to be eaten with her homemade mango jam.

 

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Dhaar with String Beans and Potatoes

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