Monday, December 26, 2011

Makke Ki Roti Sarson Ka Saag! Winters Just Got Better

Come December and you can get the smell of fresh greens and festive sweets. Winter is the gorging season. With so many seasonal vegetables and easy digestion, the winter calls for big celebration. The secret ingredient to this recipe is homemade butter, lots of it. So indulge and enjoy the greens of this season.

Sarson Ka Saag with Makke Ki Roti

Sarson ka saag and makke ki roti is a seasonal speciality of Punjab. This winter meal is very popular in North India. It is said that the saag should not be cooked after the winter harvest in Punjab, Lodi.  With freshly made butter sarson ka saag is traditionally eaten with makke ki roti. This is the short version of the recipe. Traditionally, sarson ka saag was made in the villages of Punjab with fresh greens from the fields. The mustard leaves along with other green leafy vegetables were cooked hours on a wood fire. The slow cooking on wood fire adds to the flavour of the greens. With this short version you can enjoy the goodness of the winters in Punjab with this yummy winter recipe.

Serves 2


Mustard Greens (Sarson ka saag), cleaned and blanched 4 cups
Spinach (Paalak), cleaned and blanched 4 cups
Bathua, cleaned and blanched 4 cups (chenopodium in English but the stores here label it as amaranth leaves)
Mustard Oil (Sarson ka tel) 3 tbspn
Garlic (lehsun), peeled 5 cloves, crushed and chopped
Onion (pyaz), chopped ½ cup
Tomatoes (tamatar), chopped 1 cup
Salt (namak) to taste
Asafoetida (hing) ½ tspn
Butter (makkhan) 2 tbspn


Grind the precooked mustard leaves, spinach and bathua together.
Heat 2 tbspn mustard oil in a pan till it begins to smoke. Allow the oil to cool a little, add in garlic and onion. Add in tomatoes once the onions turn translucent. Allow the tomatoes to cook until squishy.

Add in salt and the greens; allow them to cook on a low flame till it begins to leave the sides and the oil separates from the mixture. This will take approximately 20 minutes on low heat.

Heat 1 tbspn mustard oil to smoking point in a different pan. Allow the oil to cool and then add in asafoetida. Add this mixture to the sarson ka saag and stir. Cook on medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes. Turn off the heat and serve with butter and makke ki roti.

Makke Ki Roti

For 12 Rotis


Maize Flour (Makke ka atta) 1 cup
Whole Wheat Flour (Whole Wheat Flour) 1 cup
Salt (Namak) to taste
Vegetable oil (Tel) 3 tbspn.
Unsalted Butter (Makkhan) 1 tbspn.


On a flat surface, take maize flour and whole wheat flour and make a well in the centre.
Add in salt and approximately 1 cup water while mixing it in the flour with your fingers. Knead well and make dough. Rub in 1 tbspn. oil and knead again. Allow the dough to rest for a few minutes.

Divide the dough into twelve equal portions and round them up. Take each round, flatten it on a flat surface and dust with flour. Roll out the dough into thin discs, the size of your palm. Make sure they are even on all sides.

Heat a tawa or flat griddle and cook the roti on both sides. Smear it with some oil on both sides while cooking. Cook it till it gets little dark spots on either side.

Add in tablespoon of butter in both, the saag and the makke ki rotis for the yumminess factor. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Lean Dinner For Two; Thukpa

For those of us who love to eat, Thukpa is for a fitter you. The best part of this meal is that it fills you up without too much fuss and you get to everything you love in one bowl, literally. Enjoy my very first step towards a single chin, Thukpa.

Thukpa – Spicy Chicken, Vegetable and Noodle Soup

Thukpa is an East Indian soup, made with meat, vegetables and noodles or dumplings for thickening. It is a meal in itself, complete with proteins and carbs. In this recipe I have used chicken and some bacon for flavouring. You can use pork belly, lamb, seafood or a combination of meats to suit your preference. For vegetarian Thukpa, simply skip the meat or chicken and add in a combination of vegetables that you fancy. 
Serves - 2


Chicken, boneless, cut into chunks 2 cups
Lemon, juice 2 tbspn
Red chilli 2
Salt to taste
Vegetable Oil few drops
Bacon 2 rashers (Optional)
Spring onion, chopped 1 cup
Ginger 1 ½ inch, chopped
Garlic, peeled 5 cloves
Carrot, chopped  ½ cup
Beans (any green beans), chopped ½ cup
Tomatoes, chopped 1 cup
Spinach, cleaned ½ bunch
Mushroom 5, quartered
Chicken Stock 3 cups
Noodles 1 cup
Sugar 1 teaspoon
Soy Sauce 1 tbspn
Vinegar 1 tbspn (use lemon juice)
Basil a few leaves
Coriander Leaves, roughly chopped ¼ cup
Scrambled Egg on top (optional)


Crush the red chillies. Rub in salt, half the crushed red chilli and lemon juice to the chicken chunks.

Heat oil in a deep pan, and then add in ginger, garlic and the chopped white bulbs of spring onion. Stir in and allow it to cook until the onion turns translucent.

Now, add in carrots, beans and cook on a high flame for two minutes. Add in the chicken, then the spinach, mushrooms, tomato, salt and crushed red chilli. Stir and cook on medium heat.

Add in the chicken stock and bring it to a boil. Now, add in noodles or dumplings, allow the thukpa to thicken. Add in sugar, soy sauce, basil, coriander leaves and lemon juice or vinegar. Top the Thukpa with scrambled egg for garnish.

Enjoy the flavour riot!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Mad House Grill, Pune; It’s a Mooo… Point!

Name: Mad House Grill, Pune

Location: Lane 6, Koregaon Park

Contact: 020 26124779

Date of Visit: 14th December, 2011 [Dinner Hour]

Do you believe in a dining experience rather than just a dinner? Then you will definitely appreciate Mad House Grill. I have to give full marks to the marketing strategy of this place. It is really popular among my peers. The ‘All you can eat Steak’ nights and Sunday Brunch for six hundred bucks sounds really tempting. Coming back to their selling points, I had heard about Mad House Grill a lot thanks to facebook, my sister, her friends, my friends, my brother and many more wanting to take the ‘All you can eat Steak’ challenge. I have to admitted, I was tempted to see myself go up on that wall of fame. Nonetheless, I passed the challenge bit and moved on to just trying out their steak.

Mad House Grill is among the few places that serve beef steak in Pune. I am a hardcore carnivore and a big fat Steak fan, literally. It’s like falling in love, the first time you try out your favourite food. I remember the rare cooked pepper steak with cream, mushrooms and shallots, in my third year of catering school, ahhhhh! Heaven had come alive. The rare cooked steak in cream and mushroom sauce at Mad House Grill was nothing like that, not even close. Before this latest steak experience at Mad House Grill I used to believe that no one can go wrong with steak. I was wrong. The beef quality wasn’t good; it was chewy instead of tender and juicy. The cream and mushroom sauce had no flavour, it was bland. The mashed potato was sweet with chilli flakes and no flavour again, spinach on the side was tasteless. It was hard to find something flavourful on this plate that would make that meal convincing or satisfying. Similarly, the much recommended garlic steak in tomato sauce, medium cooked, was comsi comsa, although the tomato sauce had more flavour than the cream sauce. The accompanying sausages and veggies were tangy and interesting. If you are about to visit this place for its steak, then drop the idea now and save yourself the fuel.

The chicken broth was okay. The sizzling brownie and ice cream, well, thankfully you can’t go wrong with that. Don’t get me wrong the menu was alright. When I went through the list of items, it offered many options, even for vegetarians and non-beef eaters. Yet, considering that ‘Steak’ is what they are selling, something in the kitchen ought to have gone wrong that day.

It was a beautiful evening though. These little restaurants are what make up this warm, welcoming and care free city of Pune. Mad House Grill invites you, literally. With its big round lamps and live musicians playing those lovely, romantic songs bring out the romance of the city and the Pune life. Mad House Grill really gives you the perfect feel of Pune, with its casual dining, beers and wines for the evening and the sweet melodious live music which makes up for a wonderful dining experience. Besides the reasonable dishes here and service with a smile, doesn’t hurt. The owners are really warm and friendly, they do give due attention to customer needs and satisfaction, which wasn’t usual, yet wonderful. It was a beautiful evening, Mad House Grill made it a beautiful evening.

Ambience: Very Good 8/ 10
Value For Money: Very Good 8/ 10
Menu: Very Good 8/ 10
Service: Very Good 8/ 10
Food: Good 7/ 10
That Thing About This Pace: Very Good 8/ 10
Very Good Ambience + Very Good Value For Money + Very Good Menu + Very Good Service + Good Food+ Very Good That Thing About this Place = Very Good
Rating : 8/ 10

Friday, December 9, 2011

BASIC Cake Recipe

Everyone’s making cakes. Birthdays, Wedding Anniversary, Christmas, New years Eve, the indulging season is here again. Recently, many people have asked me how you go about making a Basic Cake. Well, there are two methods. The first Basic Cake recipe does not require an electric hand-mixer. The second Basic cake recipe involving a creaming method may require an electric hand-mixer (although in my days in the catering college, we struggled while creaming the fat with our palms!). To check whether the cake is cooked, insert a fork in the centre, if the fork comes out clean, the cake is cooked. While mixing the cake ingredients, be sure to mix in one direction, either clockwise or anti clockwise direction, to make the cake light and fluffy.

1st Basic (Sponge) Cake Recipe

Eggs 3
Vanilla Essence or Nutmeg ¼ tspn
Sugar 90g
Flour 90g
 Baking Powder (sieved with the flour) ¼ tspn
Butter, melted 60g


  • Preheat the oven at 180 degree Celsius.
  • Beat the eggs with an egg beater. Slowly incorporate the sugar and beat the eggs and the sugar together, until it foams up. Add in vanilla essence. Do not over-beat, once the foam has formed, lightly beat for 1 minute.
  • Sieve the flour and baking powder together. Incorporate the flour and melting butter part by part.
  • Add in a part of the flour from the side, fold it into the egg mixture from the side, with the help of a flat spoon or spatula. Be sure not to over mix, to keep the mixture light and fluffy.
  • Incorporate one part of butter in a similar manner. Slowly, add in all the flour and all the butter into the egg mixture.
Mix it along the sides, so as to avoid over mixing.

  • Grease a cake mould with fat on all sides and dust it with flour, to avoid the cake from sticking onto the mould OR Line the cake mould with butter paper on all sides.
  • Turn the cake batter into the mould, tap it on the bottom to even it on top.
  • Bake for 25 – 30 minutes at 180 degree Celsius.
Cool it for ten minutes.
You may loosen the sides with the knife before turning the mould onto a plate.

2nd Basic Cake Recipe (Creaming Method)


Butter 80g (Soften)
Sugar 115 g
2 eggs
Vanilla Essence / Nutmeg ¼ tspn
Flour 115g
Baking Powder ¼ tspn


  • Preheat the oven at 180 degree Celsius.
  • The butter should be kept at room temperature for sometime and should be soft before use, not melted.
With the help of a hand mixer, cream the butter in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy.
Add in the sugar, part by part and cream with the hand mixer until the mixture is light and fluffy.

  • Beat the eggs with vanilla essence and add them into the sugar and butter mixture. Mix it well.
  • Sieve the flour and baking powder together. Add in the flour into the mixture. Do not mix.
  • Fold in the flour into the mixture with a spatula by running it along the sides. Once the flour is incorporated, you can add in raisins or chopped almonds if you like, and fold again.
Mix it along the sides, so as to avoid over mixing.

  • Grease a cake mould with fat on all sides and dust it with flour, to avoid the cake from sticking onto the mould OR Line the cake mould with butter paper on all sides.
Turn the cake batter into the mould, tap it on the bottom to even it on top.

  • Bake for 25 – 30 minutes at 180 degree Celsius.
Cool it for ten minutes.
You may loosen the sides with the knife before turning the mould onto a plate.

Variation: For Chocolate Cake, reduce flour by 20gms and add in 20gms of cocoa powder in its place.

For Simple Icing:


Butter 30g
Icing Sugar 70g
Vanilla Essence few drops


In a mixing bowl, add in softened butter and with the hand mixer, cream it until light and fluffy.
Add in the sugar and vanilla essence and cream it until light and fluffy.
Spread it evenly for icing on the cake.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Beyond Dirty Pictures or idlis and dosas; Fashionably South!

Name: South Indies, Pune
Location: Ganesh Khind Road, Next to Pune Central, Shivajinagar
Contact: 020 41047272, 020 41057273
Time of Visit: 6th December, 2011

I can get a yummy idli and dosa for thirty bucks around the corner. Why should I spend over three hundred bucks on South Indian food? That’s correct, vegetarian South Indian food. I’ll tell you why? This is no regular dosa and idli quick service joint, South Indies is an exquisite South Indian fine dining experience. A chain from Bangalore, South Indies is a one of its kind in Pune.

It is beyond the South Indian food we know; dosas, idlis, appams and stews. The lunch buffet spread of South Indies includes authentic curries, rasam and sweets from the four southern states of India. The ambience and service are classy, contemporary and keeping with the state of the art fine dining restaurants in Pune. While the service was fabulous, the best part was that the staff was well informed about the cuisine, the dishes being served as well as the company.

The buffet spread was not very extravagant in terms of the variety of dishes, but each of the dishes was top class in terms of flavour, freshness and quality. A rare instance in the world of buffet spreads. They have an ala carte menu with an interesting selection of soups, starters and main course, which very unique and interesting. This menu is a breath of fresh air from Indian restaurant cliché, the paneer tikka masalas and Veg Kadhai. For Vegetarians especially, this place is reasonable and a must try.  

From the rasam, green apple mulligatawny soup and podi (gunpowder) idlis to the poppadums, sambhar and stew each item on the buffet had a distinct flavour, yet subtle and tasty. The appam and stew in particular was by far the best I have eaten. If you think that nothing can beat chicken and beef stews from Kerala, you ought to try their small onion stew you will begin to rethink your preference. The appam was delicate and by far the best that I have eaten. There were dosas, idlis and chutneys as well, and they were fantastic. Yet, I preferred the vada curry, mushroom preparation with crispy, lachhaa Kerala parathas and coconut rice over them. For a meal that does not give you stomach problems and sweets to die for, you must try South Indies.

Haven’t you eaten the same old chocolate mousse and gajjar halwa a million times? You may not get over it, but you have to try yummy payasam and sweet made with potatoes with pumpkin halwa. It is unique, tasty and perfect. With the flair bartending mixing trick of filter coffee by the server the afternoon ended quite pleasantly. So, what are you waiting for Punekars? You have the passion for food and an appetite for searching something new. I bet, this is a menu you can’t memorise but that which you will remember. Go ahead, you will love it!

That Thing about this place is that it is a breath of fresh air from the same old menus where you don’t need to read the menu to place the order. This place is fashionably touching your Indian cords.

Ambience: Very Good 8/10
Value for Money: Very Good 8/10
Menu: Very Good 8/10
Service: Excellent 9/10
Food: Excellent 9/10
That Thing About This Place: Excellent 9/10

Very Good Ambience + Very Good Value for Money + Very Good Menu + Excellent Service + Excellent Food + Excellent That Thing About This Place = Excellent

Rating : 8.5/ 10