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Showing posts from 2010

Toasted coconut & Sesame Shortbread

Christmas for me in terms of memories were localized to Nairobi, Kenya, where I spent a chunk of of my growing up years. Our neighbors were Goan & I can still mentally taste the Christmas platter of home made goodies that used to be sent up the week of the 25th. Cheese straws, fruitcake, Karanji's filled with coconut & sesame..these were the first things that came to mind & acting on my thoughts i decided to whip up a batch of shortbread cookies with the aim of incorporating the flavors of karanjis which are deep fried traditional festive desserts made with coconut, common to western India ( in addition, shortbread , is possibly one of the few cookie recipes that do not compulsorily call for eggs which I try to work around due to my inherent lethargy!)
Shortbread is a cookie made primarily from flour, butter & sugar. Its  a classic Scottish dessert &  due to the expensive ingredients that went into it, it was reserved for special occasions such as…

Restaurant review: Alice's Tea cup, New York City

Even as I type this note, a part of my brain wonders what I'm doing trying to write a restaurant review... So, rather than treat this with such an objective eye, Let me just rephrase this as a blog entry on an almost perfect brunch session with a friend, on a cold rainy December Morning.
 Coming to think of it, sampling one entry on a menu does not even remotely qualify as a review, but Kudos to Jyoti Ananth, for her awesome selection of venue & menu..
 Alice's Tea Cup has 3 locations in NYC, & we picked the one on E 64th St or Chapter 2 as they refer to it on the website.  There was a wait of about 30 minutes ( a sure fire way of determining the popularity of the restaurant) & they were prompt in calling us on our phone to let us know that our table was ready.
The restaurant itself is housed in one of those cute quaint brownstones so characteristic of NYC. The furniture so adorable in their cobbled English country cottage style. The adjacent table w…

A New York State of Mind....


With the Advent of the holidays, a must see seasonal attraction of New York City's infinitely fascinating facets sets up tent in Union Square & Columbus circle. The last time I had roamed this awesome bazaar was a decade ago in the waning days of  grad school. When the opportunity to do this again arose, boy! did I grab the opportunity. This time I had a mission, the food stalls! (not that the others were of no use, boy the kinds of knick knacks from all over the world on sale there, you have to see this to believe it!).
 For those of you who are wondering what the %^&^% I'm jabbering about, let me back track. The Union square Farmers Market is a part & parcel of life in New York city.. Remember the scene in 'You've got mail' where Tom Hanks & Meg Ryan grab a bag of Pretzels & fresh flowers & sit down wondering how they keep accidentally bumping into each other? That's the spot! (http://www.grownyc.org/unionsquaregreenmark…

MO GO (make one get one) Thanksgiving!

This was such a crazy caper that I wasn't even sure if I should post it as a recipe with any shred of respectability. Making 2 different dishes with the exact same veggies (& yes I mean the same, Not two portions of vegetables cut up & used differently, NOOO, that was the weird part, ended up reusing the same vegetables..But hey... it seemed the eco friendly  thing to do..), but then the end result was pretty tasty & was worth repeating a second time for the Camera. & so here it is. *Drumroll*

1. A Roasted cream of pumpkin soup ,


2. A mixed vegetable dip served with Pita bread. (which can alternatively be served as a vegetable with Indian Roti or Paratha)


The take home message from this pair of dishes is that a spice can singularly  & absolutely redefine the culinary origins of a dish irrespective of the  chief ingredient used. The soup is, for practical purposes, the quintessential all American offering, the key herb here being Sage which is Med…

Cabbage with Muscles: Brussels Sprouts!

Ever seen those cartoon shorts where there is this endearing looking lil baby animal with Bambi eyes looking so helpless? & the BAM!!! it suddenly lunges at you with fangs & claws bared? (Didn't they have such a lizard in Jurassic park as well, timid chirpy thing that squirted a tarry toxin??). Every time I look at a Brussels sprout, that is what comes to mind!
The first instinctive reaction to a brussels sprout is the same as that towards any tender baby vegetable, the expectancy of a delicate & mild texture.. but make no mistake, one feel of an outer leaf from a sprout instantly reminds you of a leafy equivalent of shoe leather!

for more info, click on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brussels_sprout
This cabbage relative packs a punch in terms of flavor & textural mouth feel. It has a more robust flavor compared to regular cabbage & does not release as much liquid when sauteed. This makes it an ideal vegetable to be roasted or stir fried.
This thank…

Lavender Badaam (Almond) Cake

It seemed SUCH a sacrilege to trifle with something that is such an integral part of South Indian dessert  confections, that the crazy part of me JUST had to do it!! Of course, I did justify to my self in my head & one of the most valid sounding excuses for the Badaam cake was.. Hmm.. Almonds are very much a part of Mediterranean cuisine & the best Saffron is supposed to come from Spain (Also Mediterranean).. & Guess what? So is Lavender.. or some such convoluted logic like that!
The Traditional Badaam cake was always a Diwali tradition growing up along with such fantasy confections such as Wheat Halwa (Fantasy, only because I could NEVER get it done the way my mom used to & I don't even want to try!!). As one progresses in age, the nostalgia of all things associated with ones childhood comes to the fore & begs to be passed on to the next generation. Yes, our mothers used to drum it into our heads & the full extent of their words settle upon…

Sinfully Divine: 'Lehiyam' Truffles

Ask any South Indian Tam Bram about the most defining aspect of Diwali goodies & chances are that the reply will be 'Lehiyam'. Whatever the traditional offerings may be from home to home,' lehiyam' is a mandatory part of Diwali prep.
For those of you unfamiliar with 'lehiyam', the closest comparison I can think of is a 'Chyawanprash'. If you're unfamiliar with both these terms, Lehiyam is a spicy tonic made primarily with fresh Ginger with a blend of other  spices (which vary between family recipes) in a syrup made from Gud (Jaggery).
This confection literally started out as a joke when my husband asked me what I was making for Diwali but surprisingly its turned out to be a great variation for truffles & Boy am I glad I stumble upon this at home rather than @ the Godiva parlor. That would have been such a 'Now why didn't I think of it' moment.

For the Lehiyam you need:

Image courtesy: organiccoriander.com 1 tbsp Cori…

Thattai Biscotti

The most well known of all savory 'snack' or 'Bakshanam' offerings in South india are indubitably the 'Murukku' & 'Thattai'. The former are those 'snake like' coiled things that Chetan Bhagat describes in his book 2 States & the latter is christened with an  unflattering moniker that literally translates as 'Flat' in English. But, these are staples in the South Indian pantry, savored at leisure with the afternoon tumbler of Filter 'Kaapi' (Coffee).
As beloved as these snacks are, the art of making them at home is going extinct. For one thing, they're both deep fried and Murukku atleast, is notoriously labor intensive. (For a beautiful nostalgic description of the entire murukku  making process, I'll refer you to Ammini Ramachandran's book 'Grains Greens & Grated coconut,  page 241)
 For many of us in the US, we have adapted to an alternate comfort snack that we relish with our Starbucks co…