Sunday, 31 May 2009

Mango Shake - It's summers!

One of the few good things about Indian summers (at least for me) is the arrival of Mangoes - the king of fruits. There are several varieties which are grown in India, and the way it can be eaten are many. A simple google search will yield umpteen recipes. But I like to eat the fruit the way it is, and prefer not to use it as an ingredient for desserts, chutneys or any other delicacy.
But since the day we bought our first Alphonsoes this year, my husband has been after me to make "Mango Shake". I finally managed to save a couple of mangoes for this purpose. We had guests yesterday over for lunch and after the heavy meal in the afternoon, both of us didn’t feel like eating a complete meal again at night. So Mango Shake it was (after several other options were rejected). And I couldn’t stop myself from adding a dollop of Vanilla Ice cream to the glasses before pouring out the heavenly and thick shake :)

Ingredients (Makes 2 glasses):
Milk: 1 glass
Mango (Ripe): 1 (medium sized)
Sugar: 3 tsp (You can increase / decrease the quantity)
Lots of Ice cubes

- Peel and cut the mango. Blend the sugar and mango pieces in a blender / mixer till it is a smooth paste
- Add the milk and ice cubes. Blend till the milk and mango pulp are mixed well
- You can add a scoop of mango / vanilla ice cream before pouring the shake into glasses

Why I recommend it?
Actually, if I am given a choice, I would still go for the fruit and not use it in a shake! But I recommend it as a great breakfast option (minus the vanilla ice cream) or even as a dessert.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Chili Cheese Toast

This is my Mom’s recipe, and I do not know where she sourced it from. It was, and continues to be, one of the favorite dishes of my brother.
A few weeks into my marriage, my brother introduced it to my husband. We had bought our new microwave oven then, and were planning to inaugurate it by trying out Vegetable Au gratin. Enter my brother, and he insisted that the dish be accompanied by “Chili Cheese Toast”. My husband’s curiosity and interest aroused, they both set about making it. My Mom always grilled it using her traditional oven, and in its absence, it was grilled using the “new with special features” microwave.
My husband was truly hooked on to the recipe, and after numerous trials and errors since that fateful day, he can now grill it to perfection using the microwave oven.

Bread Slices: 6
Salted Butter: 2 tbsp
Grated Cheese (We use
Amul Cheese. You can use the equivalent substitute available in your city)

Capsicum (very finely chopped)
Tomatoes (very finely chopped)
Coriander (chopped)
Green Chili (Chopped)
Salt / Pepper

- Toast the bread slices in a toaster till they are crisp and light brown in texture. (You can skip this step if you are using a traditional oven-toaster-grill)
- Take equal quantities of butter and grated cheese. Add tomatoes, capsicum (around 1 tsp each), coriander and green chilies
- Add salt (if required, since both the butter and cheese are salted) and pepper as per taste, and mix well till the cheese and butter are well blended
- Spread it over the toasted bread slices. Grill it in the microwave / oven for around 2 -3 minutes or till the cheese has melted and has a golden texture

Why I recommend it?
Goes well as an accompaniment to the main dish, or can be had on its own

High on calories, and is a complete no-no for those on a diet.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009


In North India, Kulfiwallahs are the norm during summers. When I was a kid, every afternoon at around 3 pm, the kulfiwallah would visit our lane, ringing the bell tied to his thela (2 - wheeler mobile "shop"). His timing was perfect - most of the kids were back from school by then, and lunch was also over. The most basic kulfi cost Rs 2, and then there were larger and more "richer" versions priced from Rs 3 - Rs 5.
My Dad is the kulfi making expert at home, and I remember the freezer unit in our refrigerator being stocked with blue colored plastic kulfi moulds (These were given free along with every tin of Nestle Milkmaid, and a kulfi recipe on the back cover of the tin).

This weekend, I decided to make kulfi at home. I read the recipe given by my Mom (she has given me her collection of Nestle Milkmaid recipes collected over the years :) ). This recipe (as well as several others on the internet) called for adding corn flour which I wanted to avoid. So I put in a bit of hard work, and the result was fabulous. The compliment paid by my husband - "I award you Bharat Ratna for making the best kulfi in the world!" - made it totally worth the effort.

Milk: 1 Lit
Sweetened Condensed Milk: 1/2 tin
Saffron: 5 - 6 strands, soaked in 2 tsp of milk
Almond, finely chopped: 7 - 8

- Bring the milk to a boil in a kadhai or a thick bottomed pan
- Reduce the flame to medium, and keep stirring till the milk thickens and the quantity is almost reduced to half. This should take approx 15 - 20 minutes
- Lower the flame, and add the condensed milk. Stir continuously on low flame for another 3 - 4 minutes till the two are well blended. Mix the saffron and the almonds.
- Pour in kulfi moulds or air tight containers. Let it cool for sometime before placing them in the freezer.
- Freeze overnight.

Why I recommend this dessert?
Try it and you'll know why!

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Summers & Home-made Iced-Tea

May is peak summer time in India. I woke up today – a Saturday, and a day off from work - to see the sun shining brightly as ever. Should I step out and increase my risk of early wrinkles and bad skin, at the cost of getting a few household chores completed? Nah! Of course not. So what if my “weekend to-do list” keeps growing in length. I shall first pamper myself and then think about it. That I should feel guilty about the entire day gone waste is not an issue at all, or atleast not an immediate concern.
Half an hour later, I found myself watching the election news on television. And giving myself a pedicure (that was due for almost a year!). And sipping chilled iced tea.
Iced Tea - that's what I needed to refresh myself...and refresh it did.
Many of my friends prefer the instant iced tea powders available in the market. But I have always preferred home made one. And it really doesnot take much time or effort.
This recipe is thanks to my Dad, who taught it to me when I was 10 (so much for delegation of responsibilities at an early age).

Ingredients (To make 1 glass Lemon iced-tea):
Water: Half glass
Sugar: 2 tsp (or as per taste)
Tea Leaves: 1/2 tsp or 1 Tea Bag
Juice of half a lemon (approx 1 1/2 tsp)
Ice cubes: Lots

- Add water and sugar in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Sugar can be added at a later stage also, but I find this simpler
- Add the tea leaves to the boiling water, and let it boil for few more seconds
- Remove the pan from heat, and cover it for 2-3 minutes
- Add the lemon juice
- Strain it in a glass and add chilled water and ice cubes. Stir it till the ice is dissolved and the concoction is cooler. At this stage you can refrigerate it, which is preferred if you are not in a hurry like me.
- Fill the glass with ice cubes and enjoy :)

Why I recommend this amazing drink?
- Nothing refreshes you like a glass of ice tea on a hot summer day, especially on a lazy Saturday!

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Corn Potato Snack

This recipe was suggested by my Mom, when I was hosting a party for a few of my colleagues, and did not know what to serve as starters.
It’s a quick recipe, and can be made in less than 15 minutes if you have boiled potatoes stocked in your refrigerator!

Corn Kernels (Fresh or frozen): 2 cups
Boiled Potato (cut in small cubes): 1 Cup
Green Chili (Finely chopped): 1
Cumin Seeds (
Jeera): ½ tsp
Oil: 1 tbsp
Juice of half lemon
Salt: To taste

- Microwave / boil the corn kernels till they are soft. If you are using frozen corn, it should not take more than 5 minutes in a microwave oven. For fresh corn kernels, they should be done in 10 minutes
- Heat the oil in a pan. Add the cumin seeds. Once they splutter, add the chopped green chilies. Stir them till they start changing color
- Add the potatoes, corn kernels and salt. Stir fry for a minute
- Add the lemon juice just before serving. Do not heat once the lemon juice has been added

Why I recommend this snack?
- Its quick and easy to make
- Works best with alcoholic beverages

Colorful Vegetable Soup

This was a favorite soup when I was in UK during winters. It’s relatively easy to make. Especially simple if you have frozen veggies at hand.
Adapted from Sanjeev Kapoor’s recipe of Celestial Vegetable Soup, with come variations of my own.

Frozen Peas: ¾ Cup
Mixed vegetables (chopped Carrots, Broccoli florets, cauliflower florets): 1 cup
Mushrooms (Sliced / quartered): 8 – 10
Capsicum (Red / Yellow / Green): 1 cup (cut in cubes)
Onion (chopped): ½ cup
Spring Onion greens (chopped): ¼ cup
Corn flour: 1 tbsp
Oil: 2 tbsp
Salt: To taste
Vegetable Stock / water: 3 cups
Whole dry red chili (crushed) / Chili flakes: ½ tsp

- If you are using fresh vegetables (peas, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower), microwave them in 2 cups of water for 5 min, or boil them on the gas stove for 5 – 7 min
- Heat oil in a thick bottomed pan. Add the chopped onions, and sauté till they turn translucent
- Add the (frozen) peas, mixed vegetables (frozen / boiled) and stir fry on medium heat for 2 – 3 minutes
- Add the mushrooms and capsicum and stir fry for another 2 – 3 minutes
- Add half the spring onions and stir fry for another minute
- Add the vegetable stock / water and bring to a boil. Add the salt, and lower the flame
- Dissolve the corn flour in half cup of water and add, stirring continuously
- Add the crushed red chilies and the rest of the spring onions
- Boil on high heat for another 1 – 2 minutes.
- Serve immediately

Why I recommend this soup?
- Apart from being colorful, I find it different than the rest of the “Mix Vegetable Soups”. The crushed chili adds that zing to the flavor, which is very different from the pepper normally used
- It allows flexibility and you can add corn niblets, tofu, paneer and / or french beans based on your choice.