Dhansaak is one of the flag bearers of Parsi cuisine. Traditionally, it is a one pot dish of lentils, meat and vegetables served with brown rice (caramelised rice).  This, however, is my quick and vegetarian adaptation of the popular Parsi dish.

It makes for a great weeknight meal and if you use a pressure cooker, dinner can be on the table in under 40 minutes despite all the chopping and blending.

If you struggle with getting your kids to eat veggies, you will love Dhansaak for the no fuss way in which you can hide the melange of vegetables that find their way into it.

I normally serve it with steamed rice on weekdays but if you have the time and inclination, caramelised brown rice is the best accompaniment.



1 large onion

2 medium tomatoes

2-3 fistfuls of red lentils (masoor dal)

2 cups of mixed veggies – aubergine, red pumpkin, potatoes

a handful of spinach

1/8 cup fenugreek leaves

2 tablespoons dhansaak masala

1 teaspoon ginger-garlic paste

salt to taste

2 tablespoons oil

1 tablespoon ghee (optional)


  1. Heat the oil in a pressure cooker. Add the onions and saute till light brown.
  2. Add the tomatoes and cook till soft.
  3. Now add the ginger-garlic paste, dhansaak masala and cook for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the veggies, spinach, fenugreek leaves and the lentils. Pressure cook for 2-3 whistles. Turn the heat down and let cook for another 5 minutes.
  5. Once the pressure cooker has cooled down, add salt.
  6. Mash or blend the veggies and lentils.
  7. Add a tablespoon of ghee (optional).
  8. Serve hot over steamed rice or brown rice.



Posted in A-Z 2018, Varan | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Cauliflower bhaat

Cauliflower bhaat or cauliflower khichadi was what mum would make when we returned home after a tiring day out. You and I would probably order a takeaway meal but mum used to roll up her sleeves and prepare this cauliflower rice, promising that dinner would be ready in a jiffy. While that claim is absolutely true, this meal is also a throwback to a time when the takeaway as an option didn’t really exist and eating out was mainly to celebrate special occasions.

I must admit that at the end of the day we did enjoy eating a hot and wholesome homemade dinner – it was usually accompanied by prawn pickle or crispy papad and some cool dahi raita(tomatoes and cucumber in yoghurt).

I now find that I often channel my mum and dish up cauliflower rice on weekdays when I’m short of time. It’s still as satisfying, in every way possible.


1 cup Basmati (or any other long grained rice)

2 baby cauliflowers, cut into florets (about 2 cups)

1/2 cup green peas

1 tbsp ghee

1/2 tbsp oil

2 large onions – cut horizontally into thick slices

4-5 cloves

1 inch stick cinnamon

1/4 tsp turmeric powder

1/2 tsp chilli powder

1/2 tsp Pathare Prabhu sambhar masala*

salt to taste

Cauliflower bhaat


  1. Wash and drain the rice. Set aside for 10 mins.
  2. Heat oil, add cloves & cinnamon. Saute till fragrant.
  3. Add the onions & fry till lightly pink.
  4. Now add the cauliflower, peas, salt, turmeric, chilli powder and Pathare Prabhu sambhar masala*. Sprinkle a little water. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes.
  5. In the mean time, heat the ghee in another pan & saute the rice for 3-4 minutes.
  6. Now add the rice to the pan with cauliflower and peas. Add water and cook till done.
  7. Serve hot with some tomato-cucumber raita on the side.


  1. Pathare Prabhu sambhar masala* is a spice blend unique to the Pathare Prabhu community. It is similar to a garam-masala blend but the ingredients are different. If you don’t have access to this masala, you can use cumin-coriander powder (dhania-jeera powder) or omit it altogether.
  2. If you are in a hurry, you can omit step 5. However, you will need to make sure that you add just enough water to your rice so that it doesn’t turn to much. What you want are rice grains that are well cooked but can be fluffed with a fork.
  3. To make a vegan version, simply omit the ghee and saute the rice in a little oil.
  4. You can also add prawns to this dish. Marinade the prawns in lemon, tumeric, chilli powder and salt. Add these after step 4, when the cauliflower and peas have been cooked for a few minutes.
Posted in A-Z 2018, One Pot Meals, Quick Weeknight Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments


Baffad (pronounced buff-aad) is a versatile coconut curry that can feature either chicken or prawns. It is made by grinding chillies and a variety of spices with a splash of vinegar. The pungent aroma while grinding the spices takes some getting used to but even a tiny batch like this one can last for 2-3 uses.

We always knew visitors were expected when we smelt this masala (spice paste) being made. It was mum’s go to dish – the rich flavourful curry was always a hit with baffad novices and veterans alike.

I have tamed it down to suit a 6 year old’s palate. Feel free to turn up the chilli-meter to a level you like.

Chicken baffad

Ingredients for the spice mix:

6-8 red Kashmiri chillies

1 tsp cumin seeds

8-10 pepper corns.

6-10 flakes garlic

1 inch piece of ginger.

2 tbsp vinegar

Other Ingredients:

1 tbsp cooking oil

1 large onion finely chopped

salt to taste

1.5 – 2 cups coconut milk

400 gram chicken, cut into cubes

1/2 tsp turmeric


  1. Grind all the ingredients for the spice mix with a splash of water. This should take about 5 minutes, in intervals of 1-2 minutes. You are looking for a smooth and velvety paste.
  2. Marinate the chicken with salt, 1/2 tsp turmeric powder and 1 heaped tablespoon of the spice mix. (You can also use chicken on the bone.) Keep aside for 20 minutes or longer.
  3. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan.
  4. Add chopped onions & fry well till light pink.
  5. Then add marinated chicken and saute for a few minutes.
  6. Add some water and cook till chickenis almost cooked.
  7. Add the coconut milk and bring to a gentle boil.
  8. Turn down the heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes stirring constantly so that the coconut milk does not separate. Turn off the heat and let it rest for about 20-30 minutes.
  9. Serve hot with steamed rice and some fried prawns on the side.


  1. I used white wine vinegar and that works just fine. The standard version used is the dark malt vinegar.
  2. Freeze the extra masala for the next time you would like to make this. It stays well for about 304 months in the freezer.
  3. You can adjust the quantity of the spice mix, depending on how many chillies you have used and how spicy you like your curry. Remember that the coconut milk will temper it down anyway.
  4. I sometime like to add curry leaves when I fry the onions but to the purists that is sacrilege. So take your pick. 🙂
Posted in A-Z 2018, Chicken, curries, Fish and Meat, Gravy dishes, Meat and Poultry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Aunty Shelma’s soup

Aunty Shelma was a family friend and this story dates back to a rainy Mumbai evening when we went to bid her adieu before she emigrated to Canada.

The evening was a long, chatty one as the adults couldn’t get their fill of memories and continued their ‘ do you remember’ stories well past dinner time. We were getting a bit hungry and fidgety and couldn’t wait to go home. I think it must have been Aunty Shelma’s mum who noticed that we needed to be fed and soon large bowls of hot broth swimming with vegetables were presented to my sister and me. Ordinarily, vegetable soup would have been dismissed without hesitation, but hunger had sharpened our appetites and we tucked in heartily, slurping it all up and, to our parents’ embarrassment, asked for seconds.

Following that evening, for several weeks, mum was badgered with requests for ‘Aunty Shelma’s soup’ (though I’m not sure she had a part to play in its making) at least once a week. I think mum improvised over time, adding and taking away ingredients depending on what she had in the fridge. The staples, however, remained moong dal, spinach, onions and tomatoes with a medley of vegetable scraps. Occasionally, elbow macaroni or potatoes made an appearance. This version features both pasta and a few potatoes making it a hearty, one pot meal.

It’s a great make ahead meal and I find chopping the veggies therapeutic. So whether it’s the warmth and nutrition of the soup bowl that you are seeking, or some cooking meditation, this one provides both aplenty.

Aunty Shelma,  if you are reading this.. thank you for the wonderful memories and this delicious soup.

Aunty Shelma’s soup

Serves 3-4


1 large onion, finely chopped

1 large tomato, finely chopped

1 medium potato, cubed

a handful of spinach leaves, chopped

1 small carrot, peeled and diced

a handful of chopped baby corn

a handful of green beans, chopped fine

a handful of moong dal

2 tablespoons oil

a litre of water

salt and pepper, to taste

1 Knorr or similar bouillon cube or a tablespoon of mixed herbs

a handful (or more) of pasta (optional)


  1. Heat the oil in a deep pan. Saute the onions until translucent. Add the potato, carrot, corn, beans and moong dal. Saute for 5-7 minutes. Add the tomato and cook till soft.
  2. Add the spinach leaves or any other soft veggies, that you prefer, at this stage. Add salt and pepper and saute for another 5 minutes or so. If you are using the bouillon cube, add it now.
  3. Add the water and bring to a boil. Once it has boiled, turn down the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes or so.
  4. Add the pasta at the very end and cook till al dente.
  5. Serve hot with toast



  1. I sometimes replace the bouillon cube or herbs with a heaped tablespoon of pesto sauce, added just before serving.
  2. Instead of the pasta, I sometimes add leftover, cooked rice.



Posted in A-Z 2018 | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Soups, curries and one-pot meals: Easy school night dinners

For the month of April 2018, Varan-Bhaat wakes up from its slumber and takes a bit of a detour from traditional Pathare Prabhu recipes for the A-Z Blogging Challenge.

Our munchkin started Big School (that’s Year 1 for the uninitiated) and it has been a testing time for all of us. The transition from nursery to proper school, earlier starts to the morning, new after school hobbies to explore did not leave much time for leisurely meals.

We’ve experimented over the last few months and what keeps our sanity is having a weekly meal plan.  So the theme for April is Soups, Curries & One Pot Meals – a collection of recipes for busy weeknights in 2018 and all the excitement the rest of the year promises.

The theme has many sources of inspiration and weeknights dinners need to tick many boxes – they need to be quick to get to the table, healthy(ish) and yummy enough to make it to next day’s lunch box.

My usual go to options include one pot meals, soups, dals and curries that are the perfect accompaniment to some steaming hot chapatis, filling salads, bread or rice – perfect comfort food at the end of a long day. Oh, and they need to pass our 6 year old critic’s taste test.

So here are some tried and tested options, some new discoveries and some, well, let’s just call them happy accidents where quick turn arounds times are the star of the meal.

Do give them a try and share your versions on the Varan Bhaat Facebook Page!

Here’s to less stressful mealtimes in 2018. May they all be memorable!

Posted in A-Z 2018, curries, Curries (Kaalvan, varan, sambhare etc.), Gravy dishes, Miscellaneous recipes (non PP), One Pot Meals, Seasonal food, Seasonal Veggies | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Z for Zhinga (prawns) toast

Ok, so Zhinga toast is most certainly not a Pathare Prabhu recipe. This is my mum’s take on the ever popular restaurant favourite.

A lighter and fresher version, with an Indian twist. The bread is toasted  instead of the usual deep fried version. I’ve chosen to halve the prawns instead of using minced prawns and it’s flavoured with lots of chillies and coriander.

So the next time a prawn toast craving strikes, you have a recipe on hand to help you make it at home, Indian style.

Zhinga (prawns) toast

Zhinga (prawns) toast


180-200 grams prawns

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon cracked pepper

2-3 green chillies, finely chopped

salt to taste

1 bunch of scallions, finely chopped  (or 3/4 cup chopped onions)

3 tablespoons chopped coriander

8-10 slices of bread

1 egg

1/4 cup olive oil


  1. Marinade the prawns in the garlic, salt and black pepper for a few hours or even overnight.
  2. Beat the egg with a pinch of salt and keep aside.
  3. In a pan, heat the oil, add the green chillies and the chopped scallions. Quick fry them on a high heat.
  4. Add the prawns and cook till they are pink and almost cooked. Add the coriander. Then transfer the prawns mixture into a bowl to cool slightly.
  5. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil back to the pan and heat it.
  6. Meanwhile, toast the slices of bread on one side.
  7. Lay the prawns mixture on the toast.
  8. Pour a tablespoon of the beaten egg on each toast.
  9. Place the toast face down in the heated pan. Press it down with a spatula for a couple of minutes.
  10. Repeat for the other toasts until you’ve used up the prawn mixture.
  11. Cut the toasts into pieces (optional).
  12. Serve hot.
A close up of the Zhinga toast

A close up of the Zhinga toast


  1. I’ve used pain de mie and served it whole as I quite like the crusty edges.
  2. By halving the prawns, I’ve used about 2 prawns per toast.
  3. This recipe makes about 8-10 toasts.



Posted in A-Z 2016, Savoury snacks, Teatime snacks or Brunch ideas | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Y for Yam (Suran) Vadis

Suran (yam) vadis are one more addition to the repertoire of fasting foods.  Free from grains and everything else that’s to be avoided on days of abstinence. But the one thing they definitely do not lack is flavour. As you bite into them the crisp coating on the outside gives way to a lovely mixture of suran, coconut and peanuts flavoured with cumin and green chillies. You can, of course, up the ante on the chillies but I’ve made these with our 4 year old in mind.

I’ve previously written about fasting foods in Fasting and Feasting in True Maharashtrian style so without further labouring the point, let’s get straight to the recipe.

This is a simple dish with some basic ingredients. This version makes about 6-8 patties (or pattice as they are called in India).

Yam (suran) vadis

Yam (suran) vadis


300 grams yam, chopped and steamed

2/3 cup grated coconut

1/2 cup roasted peanuts

1 tablespoon cumin seeds, roasted

1-2 green chillies, finely chopped

salt to taste

1/4 cup vegetable oil


  1. Grind the peanuts and the cumin seeds to a fine powder. Keep aside.
  2. Mash the yam. Add in the coconut, chillies, salt, ground peanuts and cumin powder. Mix well.
  3. Divide the mixture into an equal number of balls and flatten them into patties.
  4. Heat some oil in a wide pan and cook the patties until they are golden brown on both sides.
  5. Serve hot with some cooling buttermilk.

This also works well with most tubers and root vegetables like sweet potatoes (rataali).



Posted in A-Z 2016, Savoury snacks, Teatime snacks or Brunch ideas | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

An eXtra special cuppa – Masala milk

In my mind, masalyache doodh or masala milk is permanently associated with the Ganpati festival. This used to be part of the ‘naivedya’* on the tenth and last day of the festival. Everything was extra special on that day. Emotions were heightened, and were a heady mix of relief that the ten days of festivity had been successful, sadness at the impending visarjan* of the idol and the exhaustion that accompanied hectic days of receiving visitors, cooking for everybody and generally being on your best behaviour.

The masala milk was offered to the deity in a large silver goblet, a symbol of thanksgiving and a celebration of faith, community spirit and merriment. After the puja and the visarjan, it was then distributed to everyone present.

It feels apt to include this here today, as the A-Z 2016 Challenge draws to a close soon. It’s been an especially challenging one this year for more reasons than one but an immensely satisfying one, as usual. Another April well spent!

Cheers to the spirit of the A-Z and to the fantastic Blog-A-Rhythm community!

Masalyache doodh (Masala milk)

Masalyache doodh (Masala milk)


1 pint whole milk

4 tablespoons sugar (more, if you prefer)

a few strands of saffron

2-3 tablespoons almonds and pistachios, shelled, blanched and chopped very fine

1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg powder



  1. In a thick bottomed pan, heat the milk, slowly on medium high heat. Stir so that it does not burn.
  2. When it starts boiling, add the sugar. Stir continuously on a medium high heat for about 25 minutes until it is reduced to half.
  3. When it starts to thicken, turn the heat down a bit and keep stirring for another 5 minutes.
  4. When it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, add the nuts. Stir well for a couple of minutes and then take it off the heat.
  5. Add in the spices and the saffron.
  6. Serve warm or cold.

I prefer it warm because you can taste the individual flavours of the spices and the saffron that the heat helps release,.


  1. Naivedya – the first meal or morsel is offered to the deity that is worshipped and only then can the family eat any of the food that has been cooked. This first offering of food is called naivedya.
  2. Visarjan – immersion of the deity/idol in water after the festival. This is a common practice in India and a way to bid the deity goodbye until the following year.
Posted in A-Z 2016, Desserts, Festive food | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

W for Walnut chikki (Walnut brittle)

Traditionally, chikkis or brittles are made to celebrate Sankranti, the harvest festival. The usual way is to make them with jaggery and include peanuts or sesame seeds – warming ingredients for early January when it’s not quite spring. My grandmother (Aji) and my mum also make a fabulous version with puffed rice.

This one is unique as it uses sugar as the base and is studded with walnuts – both quite uncommon in a chikki. The addition of ghee or butter gives it a lovely caramel flavour that goes really well with the nuts. The best part – you don’t have to wait till Sankranti to make it.

The recipe calls for the walnuts to be crushed so that they can be easily coated. I’ve left them whole because I wanted something akin to candied walnuts. This has meant that you get a texture that’s crackly but not a jaw breaker as most chikkis tend to be. If you have been to the dentist as many times as I have, you would want to be careful. 🙂

If you don’t enjoy chikkis or brittles, these make a lovely topping over icecreams and custards. Simply crush them with a rolling pin and sprinkle over your dessert.

Walnut Chikki

Walnut Chikki


100 grams walnuts

100 grams sugar

1/2 + 1/4 tablespoon ghee


  1. Use the 1/4 tablespoon ghee to grease a plate. Keep aside.
  2. In a heavy bottomed pan, add the sugar and the 1/2 tablespoon ghee.
  3. On medium high heat, keep stirring the sugar.
  4. Once it starts to melt and caramelise, reduce the heat but keep stirring so that it does not stick to the bottom or burn.
  5. Once it has all melted, add the walnuts and stir quickly to ensure that they are coated with the caramelised sugar.
  6. Pour this mixture onto the greased plate and smoothen with your spoon, the best you can.
  7. Cool. Break into pieces and pop one in your mouth.
  8. Store the rest away or you’ll be there munching on them till they are gone in minutes.
Posted in A-Z 2016, Desserts | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

V for Vaangyache Kaap (Fried aubergines)

Vaangyache kaap are thinly sliced aubergines, spiced and shallow fried. These are different from the bhaje/bhajias/bhaja as they are variously known in India. The bhajias are dipped in a chickpea (besan) batter before they are fried but the kaap are simply dredged in dry rice flour.

I love these as appetisers as you can taste all the flavours and textures which are often lost when they are served with a meal. You can taste the crunch of the coating, the spices the aubergines have been marinaded in and the mushy texture of the vegetable, itself.

Although you can serve it with some dipping sauces, they will be quite superfluous as the aubergine is really the star attraction here.

Give them a go and I’d love to hear what you think.

Vaangyache kaap

Vaangyache kaap


1 medium aubergine, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon paprika or chilli powder

3/4 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon Pathare Prabhu sambhar masala*

salt to taste

1/3 cup rice flour

oil, for frying


  1. Wash the aubergine slices and soak them in some salted water for about 15 minutes. Drain.
  2. Add the spices and the salt. Mix well and ensure that each slice is coated with the spices.
  3. Keep aside for an hour or two, or longer, if you can.
  4. In a wide pan, heat the oil.
  5. Dredge each slice of aubergine in the rice flour and place in the pan. The heat should be medium-high.
  6. Flip the slices when they are golden, ensuring that they are evenly cooked on both sides.
  7. Drain in paper towels.
  8. Serve hot.


Posted in A-Z 2016, Accompaniments, Teatime snacks or Brunch ideas, Vegan | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

U for Ukadlelya Shenga (Boiled Peanuts)

This is certainly a strange choice of a ‘recipe’ but if you’re looking for a snack that brings the family together and away from their devices, this one is hard to beat. All the cooking it involves is boiling peanuts in their shells, in salted water.

We used to gather around our dining table, on a Sunday afternoon, over a large pot of these ‘shenga’ (pods) and talk about everything under the sun. You knew that everyone was enjoying them when the table went silent and all you could hear was the cracking of the pods, muted munching and see happy, dreamy smiles and the pile of ‘shenga’ rapidly dimishing.

Move over, fancy salted edamame! We have had boiled peanuts long before you appeared on restaurant menus.

Ukadlelya shenga aka Boiled Peanuts

Ukadlelya shenga aka Boiled Peanuts


300 grams of raw peanuts in their pods

1 large pot of water

1 heaped tablespoon salt



  1. Heat the pot of water.
  2. Add the salt before it starts boiling.
  3. Throw in the peanut pods. Make sure the pods are all submerged in the water.
  4. Cook for about 30-35 minutes or until done. (Test one after 25 minutes. If the peanuts taste cooked, take them off the heat.)
  5. Serve warm. (Don’t forget empty bowls to chuck the pods into.)

Enjoy the peace and quiet at the table and watch this become a favourite family ritual.

Do you have foods that bring your family together?


Fun fact:

Did you know that spiced peanuts are called Congress Kadlekai (kadlekai – peanuts, in Kannada) in Karnataka? Apparently, this is to do with the split of the Congress party into two, in the late 70s. Since peanuts also split into two, they were called Congress and this has remained a popular moniker. It used to make me smile to hear the street sellers peddling their wares – ‘congress’ kadlekai . 🙂

Posted in A-Z 2016, Teatime snacks or Brunch ideas | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

T for Thaalipeeth (with red pumpkin and peas)

Thaalipeeth is a popular Maharashtrian griddlecake or flatbread – made from a variety of grains, or a combination of a few. Veggies are not a common ingredient, though my mum does add roasted and mashed aubergine, on occasion. This red pumpkin and peas combination is more unusual. I discovered it quite by accident and decided to experiment with it. The original recipe had a list of ingredients with hints and tips, but the rest was left to the chef’s intuition. So I made up the measurements on the fly.

My association with thaalipeeth is with winters, when the wind is blustery and your body needs some warming foods. Even when mother nature is playing truant and raining down unseasonally (and we’ve certainly witnessed our share in the last few weeks) – these make an ideal weekend brunch option.

Thaalipeeth with red pumpkin and peas

Thaalipeeth with red pumpkin and peas


150 grams whole wheat flour

2 tablespoons rice flour

1 tablespoon sesame seeds, lightly toasted

300 grams red pumpkin, peeled and coarsely grated

1 cup peas

1 tablespoon ghee or oil (for kneading)

3-4 tablespoons ghee, melted (for cooking)

salt to taste

2-3 green chillies, finely chopped

1 heaped teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon black pepper, finely ground

1 tablespoon cumin powder

3-4 tablespoons coriander, finely chopped




  1. Microwave the grated pumpkin for 2-3 minutes, until it is cooked enough to be mashed with a fork.
  2. Microwave the peas until cooked.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, add the whole wheat flour, rice flour, sesame seeds, ghee, salt, chillies, coriander, paprika, cumin powder and black pepper. Mix well together with your fingers.
  4. Once the pumpkin and peas have cooled slightly, add these to the mixture. Knead well with your hands. The pumpkin and peas are quite moist and the mixture does not need any additional water for the kneading.
  5. Knead until the dough has come together and is slightly stretchy.
  6. Divide into equal number of balls. This recipe should make 10-12 balls.
  7. Heat a shallow frying pan. Add a teaspoon of ghee and swirl it around. You should have enough to roast these thaalipeeth.
  8. Now apply a little ghee to your fingers and palms. Flatten each ball on your palm and make a hole in the centre. (They should look like flattened doughnuts.)
  9. Place it onto the frying pan. Swirl the ghee around or add a few drops to the centre and sides of the thaalipeeth. Cook till golden and then flip over and cook the other side.
  10. Drain on paper towels.
  11. Serve hot.

They are great on their own but you can also serve them with a cooling yoghurt-cucumber raita.






Posted in A-Z 2016, Savoury snacks, Teatime snacks or Brunch ideas | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

S for Shankarpale

These sweet and crunchy crackers are an eternal favourite in India. They are called Shankarpale in Marathi and shakkarpara in Hindi. Shankarpale are essential deep fried, crisp and sweet diamonds (or squares) of dough. They form part of the Diwali sweets repertoire but are not limited to the festive season. They are great for snacking, if a tad weighty on the calorie front. (Most good things usually are.)

These were among our favourite after school snacks and were stored in big airtight stainless steel boxes. Part of the plan, I now think, was to make them harder for us to get to. They certainly are addictive and I remember Aai rationing these out, balanced with some fruits or other healthy snacks. Some early lessons in portion control and eating a balanced diet.

I loved watching these being made – the dough being kneaded, then being rolled out. My favourite bit was the curly cutter that gave the shankarpale their zigzag edges. Much to our 7 year old delight, sometimes, we were even allowed to help cut these into shape. Of course, you can always cut them with a knife and they will taste just as good. I have a slightly modern version of the traditional cutter. It is still quite new and shiny, but I hope that by the time our 4 year old is all grown up it will have the distinguished patina of one that has delighted generations of shankarpale fans.

Here’s to creating teatime memories that will be cherished 20-30 years down the line, as I do today. 🙂



This version of the recipe makes about 2 cups of Shankarpale. Just enough for 2-3 to snack on.


150 grams whole wheat flour (atta)

25 grams semolina

80 grams powdered sugar + 1 teaspoon to sprinkle

1 tablespoon ghee

1/4 cup cold milk or water


  1. Stir the semolina into the flour and mix well. I use a whisk to ensure even distribution.
  2. Add in the sugar and ghee. Sprinkle some cold milk (or water) and knead well. You may not need all the milk (or water). What you are aiming for is a stiff dough.
  3. Let it rest for about 15 minutes.
  4. Roll into evenly sized balls.
  5. With a rolling pin (a wine bottle will do just fine), roll each ball into a disc 3mm – 5mm thick.
  6. Cut into desired shapes. (I prefer diamonds.)
  7. Heat oil in a thick bottomed pan.
  8. Fry the shankarpale until golden brown.
  9. Cool and dust with some of the powdered sugar.

Goes perfectly with a beverage of any kind. There won’t be much left to put away so no airtight tins necessary. 🙂

If it’s a savoury version, you prefer, you might like the Tikhat Papdya, spiced with cumin and black pepper.

Posted in A-Z 2016, Festive food, Teatime snacks or Brunch ideas | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

R for Roath (Spiced semolina cake)

Roath rhymes with coat, announced our 4 year old as he munched on a piece over the weekend. If you are not familiar with this semolina cake, now may be a good time to give it a try. It is the perfect counterfoil to spicy or oily snacks as it gently balances the tastes in your mouth so you can enjoy every bite. Roath is made from semolina soaked in milk, sweetened, and then gently spiced with cardamom, nutmeg and a dash of saffron.

My earliest memory of roath is eating it in my great grandmother’s house when we visited her. Mothi Aji, as she was called, enjoyed churning out a great variety of delicacies for us to snack on . (It does run in the family!).We used to enjoy great chunks of this cake, served with a spicy helping of her famous tikhat rawa or pangojis. She lived alone, shopped and cooked for herself, eschewing all offers of help until she was well into her nineties. Her zest for life has certainly been passed down to my Aji who is cut from the same cloth.

Pathare Prabhu cuisine has been influenced by Western techniques like baking and has adpated a number of dishes that owe their origins (and their yumminess) to the confluence of these styles. Roath is one such example and I do hope you enjoy it.

Roath - a gently spiced semolina cake

Roath – a gently spiced semolina cake


1 cup rawa

3/4th cup sugar

150 ml warm milk

2 + 1 tablespoons ghee (approx.)

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon powdered cardamom

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

a handful of pistachios

1/4 cup raisins soaked in a little milk

a few strand of saffron soaked in a teaspoon of warm milk


  1. In a bowl, add the semolina and 2 tablespoons ghee. Rub the ghee into the semolina with your fingertips. Now try and squish this semolina mix into a ball. If it retains the shape, the ghee is sufficient. If it crumbles away, add an additional tablespoon of ghee and rub it in.
  2. Add the warm milk into the semolina till the mixture is thinned down but not runny.
  3. Keep this aside for an hour so that the semolina can absorb the milk.
  4. After an hour, add the sugar and mix well.
  5. Now add the soaked raisins, spices, saffron. Mix well.
  6. Pour into a greased baking dish and bake at 180 C for about 25 minutes or till the top is golden.

Serve with some spicy snacks and a steaming cup of coffee.

I think it makes a great breakfast cake too!


Posted in A-Z 2016, Desserts, Teatime snacks or Brunch ideas | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Q for Quick brunch : Shikran

It’s difficult to explain this dish. If you’ve never eaten it before, it’s simply mashed up bananas, sweetened and then thinned down with some milk. If you are familiar with it, I hope it reminds you of many happy meal times.

When my mum and her siblings were of school age, most families in the community ate a big meal first thing in the morning. Packed lunches were rare and school was a 10 minute dash away. The lunch break was a quick one and mum and my uncles would sprint home for a generous helping of shikran-chapati. Hot chapatis torn into pieces and soaked in the cool shikran. It was wolfed down in seconds leaving some satisfied tummies and happy kids. The simple joys of a childhood in the 40s…

Needless to say, we’ve heard this story many many times in our childhood, over a happy lunch of…you guessed it – Shikran-Chapati.

I still turn to it as comfort food when I don’t feel like cooking or when I need a healthy mid-morning snack.  It always takes me back in time and makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. (The pictures, sadly, do it no justice.)

What’s your secret time machine? Do tell and spread the love.




2 large ripe bananas ( 1 per person)

1 cup milk (1/2 cup per banana)

2-3 hot chapatis

a sprinkling of sugar (or more, if you like it sweeter)


  1. Mash the bananas with a fork.
  2. Mix well in the milk. Add sugar, if using.
  3. Tear the hot chapatis into bite sized pieces. Soak them in the milk-banana mixture for about 5-6 minutes.
  4. Enjoy the peace and the sounds of a satisfied tummy.


This is a great way to use up ripe bananas and makes a great breakfast too.I must confess, I do use up my stale rotis in this too. 🙂

I make this with almond milk since I went off regular milk a few years ago. Equally great – I can vouch for it.

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