Kokum amti with steamed rice

Kokum is a sour fruit belonging to the mangosteen family. It is native to the Western Ghats region of India and is widely used in Maharashtrian and Konkan cuisines. The combination of kokum, garlic, cumin and chilli powder give this amti its distinctive taste that is quite unlike other coconut based curries.

My favourite way to eat this kokum amti is with steamed rice and crispy potatoes, just the way Aji (my grandmother) used to serve it.

This recipe has a very special place in my heart. When I was new to cooking, Aji would often include recipes in the letters she would write me. I have preserved these hand written letters ever so carefully along with the fond memories of this amti.

Aji’s recipe for Kokum amti


1 cup coconut milk

1/2 cup grated coconut

2-3 pods garlic

1/4 teaspoon Cumin seeds

4-5 peppercorns

1/4 teaspoon Chilli powder

Salt to taste

2 pieces of Kokum

1/4 teaspoon rice flour

1 tablespoon oil

Kokum amti


  1. Blend together the grated coconut, garlic pods, peppercorns, chilli powder and salt until you have a smooth and velvety paste. Keep aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a deep pan. Add the asafoetida and cumin seeds. Saute till cumin seeds splutter.
  3. Now add the paste of coconut and spices and saute on medium heat until it changes colour to turn a mild pink.
  4. Turn down the heat and add the rice flour. Add the coconut milk and stir to avoid lumps. Simmer on medium heat until it reaches a rolling boil, stirring constantly.
  5. Turn down the heat. Add the kokum and stir briefly. Take the pan off the heat and let the kokum soak in the coconut curry for at least an hour or so.
  6. Heat on a mild flame and serve with steamed rice and crispy potatoes or a spicy prawn pickle.


  1. I have modified Aji’s recipe slightly. Instead of blending the cumin seeds with the cocounut, I like to saute them lightly.
  2. I also use rice flour instead of chickpea flour as I am allergic to besan (chickpea flour).
Posted in A-Z 2018, Curries (Kaalvan, varan, sambhare etc.), Quick Weeknight Recipes, Vegan | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Jardaloo chicken

Apricot chicken makes for a change from the usual chicken curries. It is an unusual combination and the sweetness of the apricots balances the spices beautifully.

It’s one of the little one’s favourite chicken curries and served with steamed rice makes weeknight dinners a simple affair.

Jardaloo chicken


250 – 300 grams boneless chicken

1 big onion, finely chopped

a handful of coriander, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon, turmeric

1 teaspoon chilli powder

1/2 teaspoon Pathare Prabhu sambhar masala*

6-8 jardaloo (apricots), deseeded

salt to taste

2 tablespoons oil

1 teaspoon ginger-garlic paste


  1. Marinade the chicken with salt, turmeric powder, chilli powder, Pathare Prabhu sambhar and ginger garlic paste. Keep aside for 10-15 minutes.
  2. In the meanwhile, in a flat bottom pan, add the oil, finely chopped onion and coriander. Crush with your fingers until you have a coarse paste. This should take about 10 minutes.
  3. Put the pan on medium high heat. Add the marinaded chicken pieces and mix so that they are covered with the onion-coriander paste.
  4. Add 1/2 cup water, put the lid on and cook till the chicken is almost cooked.
  5. Add the jardaloo (apricots) and simmer till done. Make sure that the apricots do not turn to mush.
  6. Serve hot with steamed rice.



  1. This serves two.
  2. If you don’t have the Pathare Prabhu sambhar, use the rest of the spices and do not substitute with cumin-coriander powder for this recipe.
Posted in A-Z 2018, Chicken, curries, Gravy dishes, Meat and Poultry, Quick Weeknight Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hummus and carrot sandwiches

Hummus and grated carrots might sound like a strange sandwich filling. I discovered this combination while exploring a newly opened cafe near work. They had peri peri hummus and carrots in some delicious brown bread. This is the inspiration for this ‘no recipe’ post. I, however, am partial to sourdough and that’s what I have used here.

It makes for a light and health dinner, served with some soup or a salad and dinner can be on the table in under 15 minutes.

It also makes a handy travel snack and it’s been a life saver on quite a few flights when the 6 year old turned up his nose at the kids’ meal.


150 grams hummus

2-3 teaspoons of peri peri spice powder or 1-2 teaspoon of peri peri sauce (depending on how spicy it is)

4-6 slices of sourdough

2 tablespoons of salted butter (optional)

1 large carrot, finely grated (approx 1 cup)

salt to taste



  1. Lightly butter the slices of bread.
  2. Mix the carrot, hummus and the peri peri powder or sauce. Add salt, if required.
  3. Spread the desired quantity of the carrot-hummus mix on a slice of bread and top with another slice of bread.
  4. Serve with soup or salad for a light and delicious evening meal.


  1. Do not toast these sandwiches. It results in an unbelievable mess.
  2. Baguettes are also a great alternative to the bread.
  3. For a vegan version, omit the butter or use an olive oil spread.
Posted in A-Z 2018, Quick Weeknight Recipes, Savoury snacks, Teatime snacks or Brunch ideas, Vegan | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Green Pepper boats with mince

Green Pepper Boats are a carb-light version of a Shepherd’s pie.  This does need some planning and prior preparation if you are planning to make it for a weeknight supper and from scratch. It’s quick to assemble once you have all the ingredients sorted.

The notes section of the recipe provides some tips on prior preparation.

In this version I have used chicken mince and Indian spices as a twist on the original recipe.


Ingredients for the minced Chicken:

400 grams minced chicken

3 tablespoons oil

3 medium onions, finely diced

1-2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 1/4 teaspoon ginger garlic paste

1 cup peas

1 tablespoon biryani spice mix

½ teaspoon chaat masala

salt to taste

Ingredients for the potato mash:

1 tbsp salted butter

3 potatoes, boiled and peeled

½ teaspoon chilli powder

salt to taste

Ingredients for the peppers:

4 green peppers, halved and deseeded

1 tablespoon oil

½ teaspoon cumin powder

½ teaspoon chilli powder

½ teaspoon garlic powder

Salt to taste

Green peppers with mince and mashed potatoes


  1. Preheat the oven at 200 degrees C for about 10 minutes. Arrange the peppers on a baking tray.
  2. In the meanwhile, in a bowl, add 1 tbsp of the oil, cumin, ½ teaspoon chilli and garlic powders. Add salt. Mix well and brush this mix over the cut peppers.
  3. Bake or grill for about 25-30 minutes. (This can be done a few hours in advance or even the previous evening.)
  4. In a pressure cooker, heat 2 tbsp oil. Add the chopped onions and saute until pink. Add the ginger-garlic paste and continue sautéing. Now add the tomato paste, peas and the biryani spice mix. Mix well.
  5. Add the chicken mince to the pressure cooker and mix well so that it is coated with the onion-tomato-spices mix.
  6. Add 1 cup of water and pressure cook for about 5 minutes. After the first whistle, turn off the heat and let the pressure cook cool down.
  7. In the meanwhile, mash the boiled potatoes and add salt, ½ teaspoon chilli powder and 1 tbsp butter. Mix well and keep aside.
  8. Once the cooker has cooled, check if the water has evaporated. If there is still some left over, saute on high heat, stirring constantly until there is no more water left. Taste and add some chaat masala, at this stage, if required.
  9. Take off the heat and start assembling the green pepper boats.
  10. Spoon the chicken mince into the peppers. Top with some mashed potato. Add some grated cheese, if you prefer.
  11. Preheat the oven on 200 degrees C for about 7-10 minutes. Place the tray of stuffed peppers in to the oven until the potatoes are lightly browned or the cheese is melted.
  12. Serve hot.


  1. Advance prep can include grilling or baking the marinaded peppers as well as cooking the mince. Both can be done a day in advance.
  2.  You can also make a vegetarian version using potatoes. See the image, below.
  3. I used 2 green peppers, halved, and 3 boiled potaoes. I sauteed the potatoes and a handful of peas with cumin, chilli powder, salt  and chaat masala. These ingredients are separate from the quantities listed above.

Green pepper boats with potatoes

Posted in A-Z 2018, Chicken, One Pot Meals | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fish Patiya

You may well be familiar with a dish called Fish Patiya but there are numerous versions of this tangy and tomato-ey fish curry and this is the one I’ve grown up eating.

Every Saturday my dad and my ajoba would go to the fish market to stock up on fish for the week. With all the cleaning and gutting involved, lunch would be a simple affair with rice, curry and fried fish or fried prawns. The more involved preparations and any curried versions of fish and prawns were reserved for later in the week.

My sister and I looked forward to this one in particular, served with a plain dal and steamed rice so that the rich flavours could be savoured.

As you may know by now, I temper the spices down quite a bit for our little man. Feel free to turn up the volume on the chilli powder and turmeric. Just don’t forget the vinegar. It gives this dish its distinctive taster.

I hope this becomes as regular on your menu as it is on our weeknight meal plan.

Bon appetit!



250 grams cod fish or any other white fish, cut into large chunks

2 large onions, finely chopped

2 large tomatoes, finely chopped

10-12 curry leaves

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon chilli powder

1 tablespoon vinegar

salt to taste

1 tablespoon coriander, chopped



Fish patiya


  1. Heat the oil. Add the curry leaves and saute until the oil is fragrant.
  2. Add the onions and tomatoes and fry till  the oil separates.
  3. Add the fish, salt, dry spices and the vinegar.  Mix well.
  4. Add enough water to cover the fish. Cover and let cook for about 10 minutes or so or until fish is cooked.
  5. Add the chopped coriander, stir and take it off the heat.
  6. Serve with steamed rice and plain dal.


  1. I use white wine vinegar although malt vinegar is fine too. You might want to taste the final dish and add more vinegar, if you prefer. You want a tang without the vinegar overpowering the taste.
  2. If you prefer a spicier version, add more of the chilli powder. Do not add green chillies.
Posted in A-Z 2018, Fish, Gravy dishes, Quick Weeknight Recipes, Seafood | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Eggs over tomatoes

Eggs over tomatoes is a versatile dish that can be turned into brunch or dinner. This, again, is my ‘one pan’ adaptation of the much fancier version that mum used to serve us. Think of it as an Indian version of Shakshuka or simply a deconstructed masala omlette gone crazy.

The tangy tomato-onion-garlic mixture adds depth to the eggs and makes for a super quick dinner, served with toast or even some hot parathas to mop up the juices.

Mum used to crush some potato crisps over the top, just before serving, for an added crunch. I do too, if we have any handy.

Eggs over tomatoes


3 eggs

2 large onions, finely chopped

3 large tomatoes

1 tablespoon garlic

1 teaspoon ginger (optional)

2-3 tablespoons salted butter

1/2 a teaspoon turmeric

1/2 a teaspoon chilli powder

1/2 a teaspoon cumin-coriander powder

1/4 teaspoon chaat masala

1 tablespoon coriander leaves, finely chopped

salt to taste


  1. Heat a large pan. Add the butter. When it melts, add the garlic and saute for a couple of minutes.
  2. Add the onions and saute till light brown.
  3. Now add the tomatoes. Saute for another 2-3 minutes and add the ginger. Cover and cook till soft.
  4. Now add all the dry spices and salt. Mix well.
  5. Make 3 wells in the masala and crack an egg in each.
  6. Cover and cook for 2-3 minutes, till the eggs are done.
  7. Uncover, garnish with coriander and serve hot over a paratha or a slice of toast.


Posted in A-Z 2018, Quick Weeknight Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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