Pizza in summer?

With May coming to an end, the temperature is rising by the day and at times like this it becomes hard to think up something that is light and easy on the stomach. Looking at my fridge the other day, I came upon some whole wheat pizza bases and decided to make – what else? – a pizza. So I immediately made some pizza sauce and put together a pizza with fresh ham, paneer, onion rings, tomato slices and Arugula. Go’s shredded mozarella makes light work of grating cheese for Pizza and a sprinkling of oregano adds to the flavour .

Carrot soup sounds more wholesome and suitable for a winter meal but I found it a perfect combination for this summery pizza. Once again I steamed a carrot and then sauted it with olive oil and flour before blending it into a smooth soup. Of course I added some water for a thinner consistency and topped it with a dash of fresh cream for added taste.

And the dessert of course was a no brainer – with diced Alphonso mango, a dollop of vanilla ice cream and a generous drizzle of Hershey’s chocolate sauce.

Now why would anyone turn up their nose at such a meal?

Shankarpale for Diwali and all year round

My grandmother used to love making these tiny diamond shaped goodies all year round and very often I would come home to the house smelling of them being fried to a crisp golden brown as granny fished  them out of the kadahi with her big zhara or slotted spoon. This year with little P being around to enjoy Diwali and at the age when he appreciates finger food, I decided to make them myself. Made of wholewheat flour and pure home made ghee just slightly sweet, they are the perfect little bites for little tykes on the go.These don’t look too good because I’ve been out of the kitchen and out of practice for a bit, but I assure you they taste great.

Here’s what I did:

I got together

  •  3 -4   cups of whole wheat flour or maida or a mix of both
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of milk or water
  • 1 cup of pure ghee
  • Ghee for deep frying

I sieved the wheat flour and kept it aside while I put the sugar, ghee and milk in a pan and brought it to a quick boil.

I took the pan off the fire and added as much wheat flour as could be absorbed to make a nice soft dough. Since the liquid was hot, I made sure to use a spoon to stir in the flour! Then I kept the dough aside for a while.

A few hours later, I kneaded the dough once more and then rolled it out into pastry sheets about 2-3 mm thick and ran a pastry cutter wheel through it to make the diamond shapes. In the meanwhile, I kept some ghee in a kadahi to heat up and then slowly added the diamond shapes one by one. I reduced the heat a bit and fried them till the ghee stopped bubbling and the shankarpale turned golden brown.

I took them out with a slotted spoon, draining off excess fat and allowed them to drain and cool on a kitchen towel. Then I stored them in an airtight tin to open up on Diwali day.

Nota Bene

Shankarpale which look simple enough to make can be quite tricky. If you substitute the milk with water as many people like to do, or even reduce the quantity of ghee your shankarpale can become hard enough for you to break a tooth! But if you more or less follow this recipe, you will get perfectly crunchy yet melt in your mouth shankarpale to die for.

Equally misleading is the amount of time you will take- plan for at least half an hour because the shankarpale take time to cook but an easy way out would be to use a wide mouthed shallow kadahi or a deep frying pan which will hold more shankarpale than the regular kadahi!


When good and wholesome is absolutely yum

Unfortunately more often than not good and wholesome is also sorely lacking in taste. For the past two months we’ve been following a diet that has been good and wholesome – fatless, sugarless, saltless and unfortunately often tasteless. Of course this has led to a cumulative weight loss of at least 15 kilos ( for the entire family) but has also led to severe cravings to eat something good and wholesome and simultaneously YUM.

Fada and whipped yogurt

Returning home  from a day out on our “farm” I had this absolute urge to eat something different, something wholesome, something specially meant for a chilly February evening. So I thought of rustling up some “Fada nu Khichada” or a vegetarian wheat based khichadi, my all time favourite  at the iconic eatery SWATI in downtown Mumbai famous for its “snakes” . Khichada is a mix of rice and lentil and was normally served in my home while growing up, on wet rainy days or when the tummy sorely needed some special care.

So I took 2/3  cup  broken wheat, 1/3 cup  moong dal and washed them together and let them soak for around 5 minutes. While they were soaking, I peeled a potato and cut half of it into tiny wedges, chopped half a tomato into small wedges, and cut up two florets of cauliflower into tiny pieces and cut four French beans into tiny pieces.

I added 1 tablespoon of ghee in a pressure pan and let it heat up on high heat taking care not to burn it. When it was hot, I added 1 green cardamom, 1/2 ” piece of cinnamon, 4 cloves and 4 pepper corns. To this I added a pinch of asafetida  1/4 tspn  each of turmeric and red chilli powder. Then I drained off the water and added the broken wheat and dal  to the spice mix sizzling in the pan. I sauted it for a bit and then added the vegetables and continued sauteing for another minute or so taking care not to scald it. To this I added 1/2 a cup of  whipped curd, 1/2 tspn salt and 1 1/2  cups of water to cook the khichada. Khichada is gooey and well cooked so it needs more water than normal i.e. the total quantity of liquid should be twice that of the dry ingredients. I added some salt, put on the lid and the pressure and allowed it to cook for 4 whistles.

I am now going to eat it with whipped curd over which I poured some red chilli powder in hot ghee and perhaps a deep  fried udid dal papad to provide the crunch…………..

If this is not wholesome and yum, I wonder what is!

If you allow the wheat and dal to soak for longer, you will have to cook it for less whistles ( 3) and you can reduce the quantity of water as well. Khichada starts drying up as it cools down so you may have to add some more water  just before serving ( and of course heat it up!) to make it gooey

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