Thursday, 31 May 2012

Teaser: Re-ilish-ed

Not one of the most photogenic recipes, but stay tuned for
(Bone-in Hilsa steaks steamed in a traditional mustard sauce)

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Ooey-Gooey Chocolate Brownies, the Express way...

I cannot even begin to tell you how much I love a perfect piece of walnut brownie. I think I became a chocolatier just because I cannot resist the combination of chocolate, walnuts and flour together. And so, this happens to be the most addictive fast recipe that I can ever share with you.

To continue with my microwaving ventures, this recipe is the pride of my eye. As brownies are great even cold or at room temperature, it is the best gift to carry to a party, potluck or to a heart broken friend’s place. And just imagine how much cheaper this would be to the extremely expensive pastries that u normally take to these places. This recipe is quick, it takes less than 20 minutes from start to finish, and yet quite dangerous; you will not be able to stop munching on these lovelies!!


100 gms Gourmet Chocolate Dark from Antara Chocolates company (approximately 6 ½ pieces)
2 eggs
4 tbsp veg oil
A pinch of salt
6 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp coffee (it’s not enough to make a mocha cake, but coffee just does something to the chocolate that it tastes much better.)
¼ cup roasted walnuts
6 tbsp flour


Yes guys, a brownie is made with real chocolates. This is the secret ingredient that gives that gooey texture and an immensely tasty chocolate flavour that we all love and adore!! But when working with chocolate, be very careful as chocolates can catch and burn easily. To melt the dark chocolate, either grate or break them into small pieces, and microwave for 15 seconds at a time. After every 15 seconds, swirl the chocolate around, till you get lump free and shiny melted chocolate. 100gms of our chocolate should take about 30-45 seconds to melt perfectly. The time will vary according to the temperature of the chocolate pieces and the microwave wattage. Once melted, keep it aside to cool a bit, while you work with the other ingredients.

In a mixing bowl, cream together the eggs and sugar till it’s nicely combined. As this recipe doesn't use a rising agent like soda or baking powder, whisking of eggs is very important and has to be done vigorously.

Now combine oil, salt and coffee in the creamed sugar and eggs mix, before adding in the cooled melted chocolate. Be very-very quick while mixing the warm chocolate in eggs making sure that the temperature of the chocolate does not cook the eggs. Mixing the chocolate little at a time, while constantly whisking it; helps the most. 
Combine the nuts and the flour, and mix it well in the batter (till u can’t see any dry flour left). Out of experience, I have noticed that if you mix flour to the nuts before adding it to your cake batter, the nuts tend to distribute evenly throughout the cake, without settling in the bottom.

Put the batter on a greased brownie pan and microwave it on high for 3 minutes. Perform the toothpick test to assure that the cake is cooked through. Deliciously addictive brownies ready in minutes...


Sunday, 27 May 2012

Teaser: Ooey-Gooey Chocolate Brownies, the Express way...

Gooey chocolate-y Brownie, the Express way!!
Stay Posted!! Recipe coming up soon..

Friday, 25 May 2012

For the Starters...

Life in a big city is very simple!! Workdays, weekends and booze.. Be it the sophisticated bubbly or the very collegian old monk with coke; preferences may be a lot but need, boils down to one.. To be merry!!! Friday night, office-over, a handy preferred poison, someone by your arms and a kitchen to rummage through... But boozing without snacks is a crime. And thou shalt never commit that!!

So I will dedicate this article to all those who want to learn how easy it is to be NOT a criminal. Order for your favourite flavour of chips and whip up a yummy hung curd dip to start with. How??? There you go:

Get that tub of yoghurt out from your refrigerator and put it in a clean kitchen towel to drip off the excess water.

While the curd hangs on your sink (hung curd :P); chop finely some olives, capsicum and carrots. You may even process it in a food processor, if you posses one that is!! (Coughs out loud.. I don’t!! Donation, anyone??)

Now whisk the hung curd in a bowl with some sugar and rock salt, as to your taste. Now add the tiny veggies and for that really cool tinge, add a hint of the solution in which the olives were kept.

Season well with pepper, oregano, and viola!! 7 minutes flat and a gourmet hung curd dip ready. So why wait; quickly gulp down your first peg... Cheers!!!

Now for the second peg of the night, you can’t possibly be eating the same thing. The alcohol in your system will guide you to your fridge and search for another delectable snacks. And as usual, I have a solution.

Stack up on a stock of salted crackers. Now rummage thru your fridge and take out yesterday’s left-over veggies (anything without bitter gourd and eggplants is welcome).

Put it through a slotted bowl and wash away all spices. Now chop one small onion and in a little oil fry it till light brown. In goes the veggies and mash everything well with your ladle. 

Now season it with your favourite dried or fresh herbs, salt and pepper. Once its dry and looks quite like a delicious mash, take it off the heat and spoon a tsp of the mash on the crackers to make your signature bruschettas, made in seconds..

For the third peg; screw it!! At this point even frozen bread is an awesome snack!!!


Thursday, 24 May 2012

Fast, Furious and Simple Sandwiched Dhokla

Recently I got asked a wonderfully pertinent question by my friend who is starting off her culinary life; “what kitchen gadget should I invest in, the first.” Spat came my reply, a good convection cum microwave oven; microwave for fast heating, while the convection part is for baking cakes and roasting chickens. I cannot even begin to emphasize on how important these technologies are, and it’s foolish to buy an oven which doesn't boast either of them.

An Indian kitchen uses a microwave the most. Since my childhood, I have seen my parent’s microwave used exactly twice a day, every day. Maybe that precision is what keeping that microwave alive and kicking till today. They still believe it’s the way to re-heat food, including my mom’s favourite rosogullas. But not something u cook a dish in. So I thought I will share in a few quick recipes that anyone can make in a hurry and serve it with √©lan!! It’s one of my go to recipes whenever I have unannounced guests over.. I have some million different ways to serve it. But this happens to be the best amongst all.

Inspired greatly by our favourite Indian snack item; Dhokla, this is my version to make this fast, furious and simple Sandwiched Dhokla!!


  1.        1 cup chickpea flour
  2.        2tsp salt
  3.        ½ tsp garlic paste
  4.        2 tsp ginger paste
  5.        2tsp oil
  6.        2 tsp eno (1+1)
  7.        1 cup of water (1/2+1/2)
  8.        A sugar solution made with ¼ cup water and 2 tbsp sugar
Tempering spices;
  1.       3-4 slit green chillies
  2.       Some oil for tempering
  3.       1 tsp each of whole jeera (cumin) and rye (mustard)
  1.      Paneer slices
  2.      Fresh herbed Green chutney

Take two bowls and divide equally the first five ingredients between them.

In half a cup of water, mix one tsp of eno. Quickly incorporate the bubbly mix in one of the prepared bowls and mix well, without deflating the bumbles while no lumps remain.

Now pour the mix in a microwaveable dish and microwave on high for a minute. What we are looking at is a firm surface on top to contain the paneer slices, but it should not be all cooked through.

Once your pan is out of the microwave, dip the paneer pieces (both sides) in herbed Green chutney and place it on the half cooked dhokla in the pan.

Now make the bubbly mix with the second prepared bowl and pour it on top to cover.

Transfer it into the microwave and cook it for about 5 minutes. It should look firm and cooked through in the centre. You can use the famous tooth pick test to ensure that the Dhokla is all cooked through.

Cut it neatly in squares while you heat oil for tempering. Pour in the tempering spices and let it sizzle for a minute or two in oil.

Once it stops spurting substantially, pour the hot tempered spices along with the oil on top of the prepared, resting dhoklas.

Let the dhokla soak up the sugar solution, by spooning on spoonfuls of the solution all over its surface. This step will moisten the savoury sponge and impart a fuller-all rounded taste on your palette.

This is a nice, easy and a never fail recipe which provides a wonderfully quick twist to our favourite snack of all times!!


Coming up next

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Fish & Chips, My Way!!!

Fish and chips!!!!#$@%$#^%$^@!!! Really, what is this combination??

I have tried my best to like these both together, but somehow, I aint able to.  Whether it is in form of an overly greasy, eggy and deep fried Leopold version or in my somewhat healthy tawa-grilled version, both haven’t really got me to fancy this odd combination of a dish!! So, I am basically keeping these two dishes different.

First up, my Fishy Bharwan Grilled:  whole soft sea pomfret which is first marinated and then stuffed with a fresh herb filling mixture. This dish is awesome on its own. I serve it with a nice dollop of seasoned curd or raita.

For the potato dish, I chose a relatively healthy option of baking Cottage Fries. Though hubby enjoyed the chips, I didn’t. The effort to get it crispy is a bit too much and obviously, time consuming. As I didn’t like it, I am not sharing the recipe here. I will be working on a new faster recipe for crispy chips and get it out here pretty soon. But in case you wanna know this particular recipe, leave a comment down below!     

Fishy Bharwan Grilled


2 Cleaned & dried whole Pomfret, which is cut length wise to make a pocket.

A big bunch of fresh herbs of your choice, I always use Cilantro
Green chillies to taste
3-4 small cloves of garlic
A small piece of ginger (about an inch)
Green mango paste (optional) to taste
1 tbsp brown sugar or I used plain sugarcane jaggery
Semolina, enough to coat the fishes well
Salt, pepper and turmeric powder to taste
2 tbsp Oil


Firstly, marinade your fish in some salt, pepper & turmeric and let it stand. Salt drives out the water, so to keep your dish less soggy, put it upon a wirerack with a dish at the bottom to collect the fishy water.

Now put all ingredients, except oil, semolina and fish, in a blender or a food processor, and process it to a tick paste. Taste and season well.

In the pocket of the marinating fish, stuff in the fresh filling mix.

Dip these filled fishes in a bowl with semolina and coat well. The moisture on the skin will be enough for the semolina to stick.

Preheat your tawa or grill pan.

The biggest rule in grilling is to never oil the pan, but the meat that will go on the pan. Oil the fishes well on one side and put that side down on the hot pan.

Let it sizzle for a while (3 to 5 minutes, depending on the fish’s size) undisturbed, on a medium to low heat. Don’t try to move it around, or the cooked side will break away from the fish and you will have a very tasty fish keema (mince) to enjoy, but not an elegant whole fish to serve.

After a while when the sizzling lessens significantly; oil the other side of the fish and carefully turn to let it cook on that side. Fish cooks pretty fast so keep an eye, and keep the flame on medium low. Once cooked to your liking, switch off the heat and let it rest in the pan for 5 minutes before serving.

A wedge of lemon and seasoned-flavoured savoury curd for the fish, along with a side of crunchy salad... A beautiful meal made in minutes!!


Saturday, 19 May 2012

Vanilla-Milk Jelly with Chocolat-Shaves

And finally, the day dawned when I would write about the most requested recipe till now on Zouqh... Really guys, I love hearing from you. Thanks for all the great compliments, likes and critical observation of my pictures and posts. Knowing something to improve on, really excites me and gets me to challenge myself harder...

Enough of chit-chatting already, now to the pride of my eye: the jiggly Vanilla-Milk Jelly with Chocolat-Shaves. It is a super awesome recipe and a great alternative to those calorie filled ice cream for this summer. Served cold, this amazing low-sugar recipe fills your mouth with creamy goodness that we so love about of ice-cream, but renders exactly ¼ th the total calories. I did a simple elegant vanilla flavour, but you can go on and try any other flavouring as your heart desires. I would be posting some more versions of this basic recipe during my monsoon write-ups. So keep yourself posted here for updates!!

This is last in the series of Pride of cows’ recipes (reads: i finished my two litres, and i yearn for more!!). The pure creamy texture of the milk gave a nice dimension to the recipe. For a creamier version, use half and half buffalo milk, but please don’t substitute the milk with cream. That really is not required in this one.



In a heat proof pan, pour about 150 ml milk and sprinkle on the gelatine. Leave for 5 minutes without stirring.

Now stir in the sugar and set the pan over a low heat.

Cook gently over low heat, stirring constantly until the sugar and gelatine dissolves completely.

Remove from heat and add the remaining milk, Vanilla extract, and mix well.

Though this step is optional, yet to get a nice smooth finish, strain the hot mix into a measuring jug. This will take care of any un-dissolved particles and give our jelly a smooth texture.

Pour in decorative jelly moulds or a simple ramekin, cover and chill for several hours (even overnight) or until set.

Once it’s set, carefully tip it out on a plate. Grate some of our delicious 50% to 60% dark chocolate on top and serve. The bitter sweet dark cocoa contrasts very well to our Milk Jelly. It’s a match made in heaven, which fills your mouth with contrasting, yet so delicious flavours! After all, opposites do attract!!


Perfect Fast Food: Grilled Prawns!!!

Fast food, that is actually good for you!! Yeah u heard it right.. Prawns are the perfect fast food on plate that you can ever think of. These tasty little treats are a permanent resident in my freezer. Whenever I crave for something quick and tasty to eat, they bail me out always.

This is hardly a recipe, but here is what I generally do with them.

  • Defrost the prawns and let it stand for a few minutes in a simple marinade of salt pepper and turmeric.
  • Now smear on some oil over the meat and put them on a hot griddle or tawa. 
  • Let them sit prettily sizzling away, till each piece of prawn is half cooked. While they are cooking on one side, please remember not to disturb them till the meat is half cooked. The flavour lies in perfect caramalization of the meat, and so i repeat, don't disturb the prawns till they are half cooked with a nice grill mark on them.
  • Once u reach that point, flip them and cook for another couple of minutes on the other side. Look for the meat to turn white, or if you have the tail of the prawn still on, (which I highly recommend, as its ton of flavours) then look for it to turn red!!
  • Sprinkle on some lime juice and you have a perfect little tasty treat for yourself!! 
Now u tell me if that was not fast? Its perfect to toss over a bowl of boiled seasoned pasta, noodles or rice. Or make a great little drink like Sangaria and enjoy these as munchies along with it..


Thursday, 17 May 2012

Savoury Custard Pie

Everyone told me, milk creates dessert... I rebelled to this thought. Obviously we know abt the famous white sauce, but I wanted something more daring. Something like, savoury Custard Pie with lots of milk and veggies, but no cheese. See, the theory behind was that putting in a large quantity of milk will provide a rich dairy taste that we all love and like; making it light and healthy, in the same time!!

Another good reason I wanted to make such a recipe was because I was bored out of my wits while looking at such milky white pictures I have been uploading for a while now. I needed colours in my life and what better colour than this pretty dish. Once out of the oven, I lightly sprinkled on some parmesan, utterly avoidable!!! I did it, for the sake of a pretty picture.


Veggies: Pretty much whatever you like and your fridge has.
Meat: purely optional, but if you want you can use some cooked chicken breast or cold cuts, as your heart desires.
3-4 tbsp olive oil
Parmeggiano grated to decorate (optional)
1 egg
1 cup plain white flour
1¼ cup milk
Black pepper
2 tsp of dried herb of your choice; I used thyme and oregano
2/3 tsp garlic paste


Preheat the oven to the hottest temperature possible. In a roasting pan, put in the olive oil and heat it through for a minute or so.

In the meanwhile prep your veggies and meat in a big dice, as shown in the pic. This way the veggies will cook maintaining their shape.

Now mix in the veggies with the hot oil and evenly spread them over the roasting pan. Bake these for 20 minutes at 220deg c.

Prepare the custard in the time it takes for the veggies to cook. In a large mixing bowl or jug, crack in the egg and pour in the milk. Lightly whisk the egg and get it incorporated in the milk. Now slowly in three additions, add the flour. Whip till you get a smooth lump free mix.
Now season it with salt and pepper as per your taste, and add the flavouring herb and garlic paste. Mix well and keep it aside till the veggies cook.

Once the veggies are cooked, season them well with salt and pepper, and pour in the prepared custard.

Return to the oven for 30 minutes, till the custard has puffed and become golden on the edges. Lower the temperature to 200 deg c and continue cooking till it’s crispy on the edges and soft and fluffy in the centre. It should take another 15 minutes or so. Garnish it with a light sprinkling of parmesan and enjoy the milky goodness of a Salty Custard Pie!!!

Tip: The rich taste of Pride of cow’s milk really didn’t let us miss cheese in this recipe. In case you are not too sure if your brand of milk will work well for this recipe, you can put in a tsp full of milk powder in that and mix well to combine. That will enhance the dairy taste, though keeping it light on calories!


Teaser: Vanilla Jelly

A jiggly Vanilla Jelly!!

Stay posted!! Recipe coming soon...

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Coco-nutty Goodness!!!

One of my favourite ways to have milk with jaggery (Jaggered Milk, LOL!!) is as dessert. These simple coconut cakes are just wonderful and pairs very well with our flavourful milk. And as the ‘Pride of cows’ milk is creamy in nature, this is just the perfect way to enjoy the goodness and taste alike!!

The ingredients cannot get simpler than this. The only thing that you have to take care is the right proportion and proper measurements.


½ cup fresh coconut finely ground
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup semolina (roasted optional)


Very simple indeed... In a wok, take all three ingredients and with a sturdy spoon, mix them well.

Once thoroughly mixed, put it on a medium to low flame and constantly stir it, till the mix comes together as a dough and leaves the sides of the wok. This can take anywhere from 5 to 8 minutes.  Make sure to constantly stir it while the heat is on, as the semolina can easily catch on the sides of the wok, and burn.

Once your dough is formed, neatly press it in an oiled plate and leave it to set, covered with aluminium foil. You can even refrigerate to cool it down faster.

Once set, cut it as big or small as u wish and serve with Jaggered Milk on the side.

Alternatively, I like to microwave these cakes in the Jaggered Milk for a minute or two on high. This way the flavours get mingled and pack in a punch better taste!! Serve it luke warm in winters and fridge cold during summer.


Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Jaggered Milk!!

During a friendly conversation over coffee, my long lost school friend mentioned something about an expensive brand of milk she tried once. She claimed it was better than any tetra pack that we drink from everyday. For a while now, it’s been a bit of worrying snag for me that we drink milk straight out of a cardboard pack, which doesn't even stay refrigerated. I keep wondering how many temperature differences it endures and still claim to be healthy. In our textbooks, we have always read how milk, or for that matter any dairy product, is very reactive which leads to it being spoiled easily. Then how do we ignore that and yet get ourselves these cartons every day??

So with such doubts in my mind, I went forth to try this milk that she so very praised. In came the milk man with two litres of milk, packed and sealed; along with a beautiful book explaining what happens behind the farm door.

Pride of Cows’ the name really befits them as they really take a lot of pride in their cows. Believe it or not, cows are kept in barns with instrumental music to hear and are given a buffet to decide on what they want to eat. These cows are given the five star spa treatments while the milking process is all mechanical with no human touch involved. Ah! I read in amazement...
The cynical I, was not convinced. After all it’s the taste test that the milk had to endure. So I broke the seal and boiled the milk vigorously for 2 minutes and let it cool. The much elusive thin layer of white cream-film formed within minutes of cooling down. So far so good! The thin white layer ensured that it was 100% cow’s milk, no adulterations done by mixing in other stuff, including preservatives.

I made a simple recipe which was devoured by my very finicky hubby, within minutes of making. It’s my favourite healthy way to drink milk that requires:


1/3 cup dates/sugarcane jaggery
2 cups milk


You cannot get simpler than this, can you? Melt the jaggery in a microwave or on the stove, and then slowly add in the warm milk. Mix it vigorously so that no lumps remain. Serve it hot or refrigerate it for a couple of hours, to be had cold.

This is one of the healthiest, yet the tastiest way to drink milk. No added refined product like sugar takes the health quotient of this recipe to the max. Nice, odour-free milk like that of ‘Pride of cows’ is perfect for this recipe. It can be easily poured in a mug and enjoyed or made into a beautiful dessert (coming up next!!). 
Whichever way, it still remains very healthy and amazingly yummy!!


Saturday, 12 May 2012

Teaser: Savory Vegetable Custard

Earlier yesterday, the mailman arrived with goodies from Manchar!!

which transformed into...

A savory veggie custard!!! Stay posted, recipe coming soon!!

Friday, 11 May 2012


So two hours and at least 2 Sangaria down, what do you do now... Good news is that, all the science-y part of the recipe is over. No more of measuring or waiting but simply to taste and make. The first thing you should do once your dough has risen, is to preheat the oven to 220 deg Celsius with your pizza pan in it.

The topping can be as many as there are stars in the sky. Choose whatever you want and get it ready!! Read on what I did with this freedom and how I topped pizza, my way!!!


For the tomato “cheats” sauce:

5 tbsp Tomato ketchup
½ tsp fresh garlic paste
Dried herbs of your choice; I used some oregano and thyme.

Ok, I don’t believe in simmering tomatoes for hours and hours with meat and stuff to make a sauce which wont even shine out. Can you even begin to calculate the amount of LPG it’s gonna require. Though I did find a cheats version of cooking the best tomato sauce with fresh ripe tomatoes, within half the cost, but for a pizza top only, its not worth it! I will share my secret fresh sauce for a pasta dish later, but here I feel a simple no-cook sauce works wonders!!

Also don’t be tempted to buy the jarred pizza or pasta sauce. Invest that sauce money on a good quality, bigger quantity ketchup instead. These jarred sauces are nothing but ketchup spiked with lots of oil and some dry, mostly synthetic flavours. The organic ones are good, but hell expensive. And trust me after you make this no-cook sauce by combining the ingredients mentioned, you are gonna fall in love with it and make a full jar and store in the refrigerator to have it with masala omelettes and stuff.. it will stay up to a week or so in refrigeration!!

Just combine the ingredients and taste. If you want to spike it more with garlic, be my guest.

Now to the topping of your choice:

I made a half and half of mutton pepperoni and bacon with cottage style veggies on the side.

The assembly

Roll out the dough in your desired thickness. I adore and enjoy the thin crust and hence I am gonna make the recipe for that. However you can roll it less and make a bulgy thick crust pizza. The cooking time for both will differ tremendously and depending on your oven, it can be close to double the time it takes for a thin crust.

Now take the heated pizza pan (or any other flat plate or a cookie sheet), and sprinkle it with the corn meal or semolina. What this does, is, it makes the pan completely non-stick and your pizza gets an extra crunch.
Put in the rolled out dough on top and lightly brush it with some olive oil.
Top it with some of your no cook sauce. Remember though; don’t go overboard with smearing. Moderation in the topping is the key to light & crispy base.

Pile on all the topping you want in a single pretty layer. Top it with some fresh mozzarella and some real expensive but amazingly flavourful Parmigiano Reggiano. Use the other jarred parmesan if you want to, on your own risk. After tasting parmeggiano, I sweared myself off that jarred muck, for good. The real stuff is expensive, but the flavour is worth it.

Cook the pizza in a hot 220c oven for 20 minutes on the top-most rack. Once the veggies seem cooked, spike down the temperature to 200c and cook for another 10-12 minutes, till the edges of you base has turned golden and crispy.

Viola!! And here comes your very own master creation. There are very few joys in this world which compares to the joy of looking into something that you made and it turned out damn hell, pretty well!!! This is a no fail, but yet a healthy version of our first love fast food, and you guys should definitely enjoy it to the fullest!! 

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Sangaria- the perfect cocktail for a restless wait!!

So your Dough for pizza is rising, and you need something to do in the meanwhile. Y not be up and merry!! Afterall, making a cocktail knowing that you would be the one devouring it in itself is a merry thought to have... So what are you waiting for, get the bar rolling!!!

This Sangaria is a fruity fresh way to start a hot summer day!! With all the hoo-hallah about the health benefits of tender coconut, it has become a regular guest in almost every household here. And why shouldn’t it be, the sweet, mildly flavoured liquid is perfect to couple with vodka, and a punch of citrus. Ah!! Heaven I tell you.  The recipe is quite simple and take your imagination to the wildest to spike it more stronger.. But for me its as follows:

60 ml plain or citrus vodka
60 ml tender coconut water
60 ml freshly squeezed orange juice
Few sprigs of mint
Two small diced piece of watermelon


Put all these in a nice shaker with loads of ice cubes. Shake it hard and well!! Do the Padukone-shake-dance if you wish, and pour in your cocktail glass.
To prep your cocktail glass, drop in another neatly diced, deseeded water melon piece. Pour in your cocktail and decorate with a sprig of mint on top. This makes just the perfect one glass of cocktail. Change the measurement and make a big batch, as much as u wish!!

P.S.: For me the sweetness was great as I used a pretty sweet orange and tender-coconut. If you want to spike up the sweetness, you can make simple mint syrup, and keep it handy. After all a bit more sugar and mint has never harmed anyone, just got them a bit more talli!! :-p 
Minty Syrup

(You will have more syrup than you need. Save for other cocktail uses)
· 1/2 cup water
· 1/2 cups sugar
· 1 cup mint leaves, loosely packed
Place sugar and water in a pot over heat until sugar dissolves. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature and place mint leaves in mixture and muddle. Allow mint leaves to steep for 20 minutes. Strain and discard leaves. (Depending on the fine-ness of the sieve tiny pieces may remain).

Wednesday, 9 May 2012


PIZZA!! I have a theory; Indians like and eat pizza much more than the creators- Italian and copyrighters- American (always first to patent, but never to create... have I told you that the country has even patented ‘bhang’ chocolates.. beat that now!!!) Anyways, coming back to our point, PIZZA is regarded with a great respect in India. I have had the cheap 50 bucks worth ones and then the posh 1000 + worth ones. But trust me when I say, this recipe makes one of the best tasting pizza that you will ever taste. I know, its a project in its own way. The time that the dough will take to rise! The time that the pizza will take in the oven to be made! In that time though, you are actually doing no cooking but chilling around the house, lounging in front of the TV, making a beautiful pitcher of summery sangaria... etc. etc. etc.

But once done, I guarantee you a slush of such emotions, like: why didn’t I make more & when would I try it again!! However daunting the task is, you would go back to make it again, the very next weekend.

A good pizza has to start with a beautiful flavourful base. Anywhere outside your house, that base is made with refined flour and chemicals that are totally useless in your body; even though the word ‘’whole-wheat’’ screams through. But at home, there is no fooling. I make my pizza with ‘Chapatti Atta’ I get from my neighbourhood miller. Its wholesome, whole wheat and oats mixed and, ground in front of my trusted eyes. And I love the nutty flavour that it so amazingly and subtly imparts to my pizza!! Try this once atleast, before dismissing the idea..

Now to get started, the first step has to kneading and proofing the dough (D-Oh)!!

1 cup lukewarm water (41° C–46° C)
3 cups whole wheat flour
3 tbsp. honey
11/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. olive oil plus extra for spreading on dough
2 tsp. yeast
1-2 tsp. Cornmeal/ semolina

First of all, check the yeast you got from your grocer. Depending on which city or area you are in, you may get a choice between instant yeast or active dry yeast. I always choose the latter as it is twice cheaper than the instant ones and somehow in the Mumbai climate, it tends to shelf and work better. But if you have instant yeast, no worries just don’t do the first step and mix the yeast directly in with the water, wheat, honey, olive-oil and salt.

1.       Proof the yeast: Take half a cup of lukewarm water and mix in the honey. Once mixed thoroughly, add the 2 tsp of those little yeast globules, give it a stir with the spoon and let it stand for five minutes or so till there are tiny bubbles all over the surface of water and the mix looks kinda creamy.
2.   Now take the wheat flour in a big mixing bowl and dump in all the ingredients, except cornmeal. Mix and knead till you form clean springy dough, which springs up after you dent it slightly.
First timers, don’t fear the sticky fingers that normally happens in the beginning, but as you mix the ingredients, the dough will stick to itself and away from your fingers. Scientists call this process gluten formation, and oh we so love this exact gluten!! If you follow the measurements as I have given here, it will look just as the picture here. It should not stick, but if it does, keep a bit of the flour handy but use it ever too stingily, till it looks exactly like the picture here.
3.       This is enough to make two, medium to large pizza. So if you are only in the mood to make one, stick the other piece of dough round in some oiled cling film. Double wrap it in some foil and freeze it for later use.
Once frozen, this dough will stay for at least two months or so. Just on the day you intend to cook with the frozen dough, defrost it for a night in the refrigerator or do as I do, stick it in the microwave and defrost there. Once defrosted, leave it to double for 2 hrs or so, depending on the temperature of your kitchen!!   
4.       For the half that you intend to make right away, form it into a smooth round ball. Make sure that the top surface doesn’t have any cracks. If any crack appears pinch it together and form a smooth ball. Basically you are making the dough airtight in itself, so that the yeast germinates and the air doesn’t have a place to escape from. This air is wat will double the dough ball and make a fluffy crispy pizza base!!
5.       Now in an oiled bowl, let the dough rise til its double in size. The time taken will depend on the temperature. I normally leave my dough in the bowl, covered with a clean kitchen towel, inside the microwave for 1 hour to 1 and ½ hours. Wait till it doubles. This wait will be rewarded with a crispy yet fluffy pizza.

Pizza or any bread making is a science. There are steps that you need to follow and measurements that you need to exact. Hopefully you all should give it a try, at least once. See the difference in the taste and then I guarantee you, you will never buy those funny plastic like pizza bases that is available in the mkt.

“Pizza to top: Part 2” will follow in soon, keep checking the space!! Let the “D-OH” rise as of now!! Cheers!! 

Coming up next...

Pizza from Scratch!!

Semolina Porridge or Sooji Halwa: The most comforting dish, made in a jiffy…

In one of her episodes in Nigella Bites, she shows how the mamma bear makes a comforting dinner for her and two cubs; wherein she poured milk over some pieces of stale bread and sugar… Though I love adore and worship her in my kitchen, but I couldn’t help smirking that this was a comforting dish for mamma bear, (involves no cooking at all), but the cubs.. Would they enjoy it as much??

I don’t think anyone can appreciate the texture-less soggy bread and milk. It’s easy to make. Yup!! But what about flavours??

For me, my comfort dish has to be the infamous sooji ka halwa or sheera, or semolina porridge. Infamous for all the calories it tends to put on your body in form of fats that will never be used. But, nonetheless, if you can enjoy a buttery piece of croissant or a sugary piece of creamy pastry, then definitely you can enjoy a katori (bowl in Hindi) of this lovely halwa. I have worked on the calories and tried to keep it to the minimum most. But remember, it is a dessert and it is wonderful to taste buds!!

¼ cup oil
¾ cup Semolina/sooji/raava
½ cup sugar
A pinch of saffron
¾ cup milk
6 pods of cardamom, a bit punctured to release the flavours but not the seeds.
A handful of your favourite assortment of nuts; I used almonds and walnuts roughly chopped
1 tsp of ghee/ clarified butter to end it with a subtle flavour (optional)
A pinch of salt


In a pan with high sides, mix in the milk, saffron, cardamom and sugar. After stirring briefly for 30 seconds to give saffron a head start in getting dissolved in the milk, put it on a low –low flame and let it heat gently.

In another pan with high sides or a wok, pour in the oil and let it heat up slightly.

Now fry the chopped nuts (saving some for garnish later on) in the oil for about 30 seconds or so, till it gets a bit of colour.

Pour the sooji/semolina in the oil with nuts, while you constantly stir it around. Its very important to keep the flame on medium to medium low as semolina has a tendency to catch and burn easily. A wire whisk would be the perfect tool to stir the porridge around.

Once the semolina is fragrant and light brown in colour, carefully pour in the hot milk & sugar mix. Please note, the sooji is gonna bubble to madness when you add in the milk, so a careful approach would be to take it off heat, mixing the milk & sugar all in, and then putting it back on heat.

On the medium flame, keep stirring the porridge around till the liquid kinda evaporates and porridge forms a bowl in the centre of the pan/wok.

Keep cooking it till you see the oil separating from the porridge. At this time add in the teaspoon of ghee and stir well to combine. Let it off the heat and serve in a pretty dish garnished with the remaining chopped nuts. Cheers!!

P.S.: Traditionally, the halwa is made in ghee or clarified butter and the liquid added is always water.  Obviously, the flavour of the ghee and sooji is mind-blowing and the porridge tastes amazing. Having said so, this way of adding this small amount at the end and heating it through also gives off a great flavour profile, while you lessen the calories and fat substantially. Adding milk enriches its flavour and somehow suits the saffron more than water. I have always felt saffron is better coupled with warm milk rather than warm water. But to each, his own

If you guys try my recipe than do let us know about it and how it went; here: 



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