Naan Therapy

Or should it be 'paratha' therapy …

Archive for the ‘Cuisine’ Category

Popped lotus seeds

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Puffed lotus seed have been part of Indian snack scene for as long as I can recall.I recently found this product at neighborhood market, Sigona’s. They are made here, right in Palo Alto! These have a little clarified butter, a touch of salt and a hint of heat. The entire 1 oz content is 130 calories. They are more substantial than rice puffs, very unlike popcorn, mostly crunchy and a little chewy. Closest in texture is perhaps pork rind Chicharrón. They do not appear to have a strong taste of their own, essentially picking up the added flavors. You can get these puffed and unflavored lotus seeds in Indian grocery stores but they often smell rancid. If you can find good quality unflavored version, then just toss them in hot butter, salt and perhaps some pepper, chili powder or lime. Enjoy with chai or beer.

Written by Som

October 9, 2016 at 4:26 pm

Coconut filled rice crepes, a Bengali delicacy

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Pati Shaptar Pithe/Pitha or coconut filled rice crepes. Pati means a mat, and shapta means simple in Bengali.

Grate raw coconut (or get frozen unsweetened grated coconut and thaw), about two cups, add sugar to taste and stir fry until golden brown. If you wish, you can add a tablespoon of raisins and a tablespoon of toasted and chopped cashew nuts or slivered almonds.

Pitha comes in various shapes. These are the simplest. To prepare the crepe batter, to a cup of rice flour, add a pinch of salt, and a tablespoon of sugar. Add milk, 2% or full fat preferably, until the batter consistency is like crepe. Heat up a non-stick pan. If needed, you can wipe it down with a buttered cloth/brush. Follow cooking temperature regimen for a crepe.

Pour about 1/4 cup of batter and roll it around on the hot pan to form a thin crepe.

As the crepe cooks, it starts to lift off the edges.

Add two tablespoons of filling. Optionally, form the filling in the palm of your hand in shape of a small spheroid.

Roll in form of a fat cigar.

Keep aside while you prepare the rest. These can be eaten warm or at room temperature. To take them to the next level (i.e. not simple), you can bake them in condensed milk as well but they do become heavy. Drizzling some condensed milk on top while not traditional can be an excellent substitute.

During this trip to India, I am seeing some new sweets in Bengal including baked rasogolla (boiled cheese balls dunked in sugar syrup) , Kolkata’s famous sweet and chana pora (literal translation for roasted cheese), a dish very similar to cheese cake.

Written by Som

November 21, 2014 at 6:16 am

Same to same?

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Several meat and lentil dishes served together on an injira, a fermented and steamed crepe. Fundamental flavors are surprisingly similar to Indian food – just imagine this served thali style. Overall tastes were sufficiently different to make it interesting.

Also served with injira on the side. Injira can potentially be made with teff alone but these at Asmara had wheat (gluten) in them. Sigh! Taste and texture wise, these are perfect to mop up curries. I like the fact that they hold up well at room temperature. I am on a quest to replicate these …

If you are going towards Asmara in Temescal, consider checking out Doughnut Dolly nearby. They do run out of doughtnuts and close shop – so adjust your expectations accordingly.

Written by Som

September 19, 2014 at 10:43 pm

Posted in Africa, Cuisine

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Taco Crawl – Catrina’s Taqueria

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Catrinas Taqueria, same site where Tacos Los Gemelos used to be.


We recently moved to a new home in Redwood City, Bay Area’s local Mexicana. Memories of Los Gemelos took us to the spot where Caterina now stands. Yes, the Lavendaria is still next door – bleach smell whafting in threatens to drown out the smell of seared meat. A sensual throaty voice was singing to some not to sensual music. The new owner is clearly fond of the “day of the dead” imagery. And food, well you can rarely go wrong with tacos, fatty bits of pig are fried to crispiness, served with corn tortillas (aah, gluten free….) and topped with spicy salsa.

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Written by Som

September 19, 2014 at 10:25 pm

Posted in Cuisine, South America

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Couple of little tarts

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Filled with home made apple jam and topped with crunchy almond slivers. Cream cheese crust . Cook says that it made the dough much easier to roll. Did not impact texture or flakiness.

Topped with dry figs cooked in ruby port.

Written by Som

August 9, 2014 at 6:49 am

Posted in Cuisine, Europe

First four meals from Munchery

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Perhaps the time is coming that I can get through the day in my jammies accompanied by laptop. I can work from home, get Google express to deliver the non-perishable stuff and now, get Munchery to deliver fresh food.

I recently ordered 8 items from Google express from 5 different stores. Crazy, right? Munchery is reverse of that. You can go to them for fresh food – different chefs, different cuisines, changing menu, local produce, all in one place. You can warm straight out of packaging and eat off it. This has to be the best thing that happened to frequent travelers and pajama lovers. They even donate a meal for every meal you buy. So here is what we tried for two nights, four different chefs, four different dishes. All meals were fresh tasting as promised, well balanced in flavors and ingredients, and reasonable portions.

Vera Cruz Style Rock Cod from Chef Scott Newman, Alum of Robicon and Coyote Cafe

Pan seared cod with basmati rice, light tomato based sauce with fresh vegetables like corn and red pepper. The sauce was very fresh tasting with excellent balance of flavors.

Sweet and Spicy Pollo (Chicken) Cubano by Chef Fletcher Starkey, Alum of Metro@Google

Chicken with rice and beans. I added some chopped persian cucumbers to the accompanying salad leaves. also added the plantain chips. Althugh chicken was cooked to perfection, the sauce for the chicken was tad too sweet.

Salmon with Sala Prezzemolo by Chefs Hayashida & Honda, Alum of Blowfish and Skool

Perfectly pan fried fish, spinach and a bean salad. Green sauce is prezzomolo, presumably parsely pesto with anchovies. This plate was excellent balance of flavors.

Tamarind-Chile Rainbow Trout by Chef Raymond Reyes, Alum of Gather, Michael Mina and Blowfish

Deboned trout, rice with vegetables and smoky chinese greens. Again an excellent dish with great balance of flavors.

Written by Som

June 13, 2014 at 7:07 am

Posted in Cuisine, World

Socca, Indian style

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We found some flowering coriander (aka cilantro) at the farmer’s market today. Normally this is cilantro past its prime but why not!

Harvest some of the flowers and young coriander seeds to make about a tbsp each.

Start with a cup of garbanzo flour, add 2 Tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper, 1 Tbsp of raw coriander seeds, 1/2 tsp onion (aka nigella) seeds and sufficient water to make this into a crepe batter consistency. You can substitute nigella with mustard seeds.

On a hot iron pan, add a tsp of oil. Ladle about 4 Tbsp of garbanzo bean batter and spread into a thin crepe. Cover and cook until the bottom surface is cooked, takes about a minute or so.

Flip and cook the other side. Keep in a covered container until all crepes are cooked. Don’t overcook or they can become dry. The steam from the crepes should keep them moist.

Serve with an indian style omelette – use the harvested coriander flowers, a finely diced thai green chili and finely diced fresh onions.

Written by Som

May 18, 2014 at 7:26 pm

Gluten free puri-aloo

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Buckwheat puri with aloo and yogurt raita

This dish is a different spin on peethi-ki-puri but is equally delicious and completely gluten free.

To make buckwheat puri, combine 1 cup of buckwhat flour with 1 tsp salt and 1 Tbsp mango powder. Add enough water and knead lightly until dough forms. Buckwheat doesn’t have gluten, so the dough will not have much elasticity. Divide into 10-12 dough balls, roll them flat gently with a little rice or buckwheat flour and deep fry one at a time in 350 degree oil.

Enjoy with your favorite potato (aloo) curry and salted yogurt or raita. And follow it up with a nice long hike to work off all those delicious carbs. Here are some photos from top of windy hill summit this weekend.

Skyline Blvd, facing south-west ward and looking down.

Looking east, you can see the salt ponds and Bay.

Looking north-west.

Facing south-west.

Written by Som

May 18, 2014 at 7:08 pm

Posted in Cuisine, South Asia

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Here is to mother’s day!

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Above is post-lunch drink. Chill the fluids – Blanton’s bourbon and Fever tree ginger ale. Combine half a bottle of ginger ale, gingerly, with an ounce of chilled bourbon. Sit back and enjoy this  slightly sweet, slightly gingery, slightly heady cocktail.

Lunch was a gluten free but otherwise a very Indian meal, something any mom would be proud to serve to her brood – buckwheat fritters with potato curry and raita. Sorry no photos – food disappeared before I had a chance to wipe oil off my fingers!

Make a potato curry. If you have a pet recipe, go with it. What you are looking for are curried potatoes with lots of light gravy, not the dry kind. Make a raita – for this meal, plain yogurt with a good dose of black salt is perfect.

To make the buckwheat batter, to 1 cup of buckwheat flour, add a teaspoon of salt, tablespoon of mango powder and 1 tsp of dried pomegranate seeds. Mix, add one cup water and stir until smooth batter forms. Buckwheat and sour flavor are brilliant together, so don’t skimp on the mango powder. This can be made up to a few days ahead. Preferably let the batter sit overnight.

Bring 2 or more cups of oil to about 350F in your favorite deep frying vessel. I am loving rice bran oil. Any high temperature oil is fine. Keep a paper towel lined cookie sheet in 250 degree oven. This is to keep the fritters warm while they are made in batches. Drop a tablespoon of batter at time in the hot oil. Fry unti the bubbles minimize. Transfer to cookie sheet.  Depending on the size of your frying vessel, you may be able to make up to 6 fritters per batch.

Ideally you want to serve the fritters as soon as they are cooked. But you can indeed keep the fritters warm in the meantime. Serve fritters with potato curry and raita for a not run-of-the-mill meal.

Written by Som

May 10, 2014 at 1:51 pm

Soufflés at Cafe Jacqueline

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Special of the day – Oyster and spinach soufflé with gruyère cheese. Fresh lemon slices were placed on our plate and the hot soufflé served on top. The heat released the lemon flavor which permeated each serving.

Strawberry soufflé… Last time we had strawberry soufflé this good was 10 years ago at Cafe Jacqueline. I wish they made small soufflés and then one could really try em’ all.

Cafe Jacqueline in San Francisco North Beach area is a romantic little restaurant. But ideally, you want to go with some friends so you can sample the best of the lot. If I could eat more, I would have loved to try her French onion soup as well as her Grand marnier soufflé.

Written by Som

March 8, 2014 at 4:21 pm

Posted in Cuisine, Europe

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Is this a French-Canadian dessert?

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Slab of brie, toasted pine nuts, drizzled with maple syrup …

Written by Som

March 8, 2014 at 3:55 pm

Posted in Cuisine, Europe

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Frittata, a parisian breakfast

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When you are not traveling, the trick is to eat like you are. It cheers up the day. This one is one of my favorites when I want to be in Paris. Croissant would be even better but currently I am off gluten.

Slice of frittata with green leaf salad


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Written by Sachin

February 17, 2014 at 1:31 pm

Posted in Cuisine, Europe

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Making your own brand of bubblies

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Combine Mastrad Purefizz Soda Maker and a cheapish bottle of wine. This was an awful Loire from Trader Joe’s but addition of bubbles made it more than drinkable.

Written by Sachin

February 17, 2014 at 12:06 pm

Posted in Cuisine, Food, Low sugar, World

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A 60 minute egg

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After watching David Chang on season one of The Mind of a Chef, we gave in to the temptation and bought ourselves a makeshift sous vide machine (DorkFood temperature controller and a slow cooker). And here is the first 60 minutes egg at 143F as per Lucky Peach’s Egg Chart.

60 minute sous vide egg at 143F, yolk is runny but slightly thickened

Served on a bed of butter sauteed home grown chard, chard prepared like nettles in nettles and egg recipe, slow roasted tomatoes prepared like in tomato raisins recipe, and shavings of parmigiano-reggiano.

The egg is to weep for, with happiness of course. However there is a real hint of sadness too, popularity of sous vide will change the meaning of “hard as 20 minute egg”.

Written by Sachin

September 12, 2013 at 3:06 am

Peethi ki Poori, lentil stuffed fried Indian bread

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Peethi ki poori served with potato curry

No pain, no gain. This is one of the more complex of Indian breakfasts that is better left to special occasions.

Peethi: Soak 1 cup dry Urad lentil, whole or broken with no husk, overnight, grind in a food processor so it is not a complete paste with no additional water. Add 2 green chilis, 1 tsp salt, roasted and crushed black peppercorn. In a heavy pan, heat 1 Tbsp of vegetable oil. Add a pinch of asafoetida and 1 tsp cumin seeds. Cook for 30-45 seconds until fragrant and add the processed lentil. Cook until the mass becomes sticky dough like. Let cool. This can be made upto a couple days in advance.

Potato curry: Peel and chop one large Idaho potato, in 1.5 inch cubes. In 1/4 cup water, add 1 tsp turmeric powder, 2 Tbsp sour yogurt and 2 Tbsp of tomato paste and make into a smooth paste. In a pressure cooker, heat 1 Tbsp oil. Add 2 whole red peppers, 1 tsp dry urad daal, 1 tsp mustard seeds, 1 tsp cumin seeds until they splutter and add the tomato-turmeric paste. Stir until fried and add the potato pieces. Stir to coat, add 1 tsp salt and add 2 cups of water. Pressure cook at medium for 5 minutes after the pressure builds up. Switch off and wait for pressure to subside. You can keep like this this for upto two days. When ready to eat, warm up, crush some of the potatoes with the back of your spoon, adjust for salt and add 2 Tbsp of chopped coriander leaves.

Poori dough: Take 2 cups of whole wheat flour, add 1 Tbsp vegetable oil, 1 tsp salt and necessary water to make into smooth dough. Let rest until ready to use. Heat oil for deep frying and maintain temperature while you roll out the poori’s.

Now get ready to put together the meal.
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Written by Som

July 14, 2013 at 5:31 pm

Aam ka achar, making mango pickles from scratch

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Cut and sun-dried green mangos, mixed with whole spices and topped with mustard oil.

What sells for pickles in Indian grocery stores is not particularly tasty or visually appealing. Often it is an over-salted,  pasty textured mass of disappointment.

Here is a young mango pickle recipe that is relatively easy to make if you have access to healthy dose of summer sun.

During early part of summer, you will find green mangoes in Indian grocery stores. Pick 4 mangoes that are super firm. Firmer they are, better they are for the purpose. Also gather some spices, you will need turmeric powder, coriander seeds, nigella seeds (aka kalounji), fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds, black peppercorn, and mustard oil.

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Written by Som

July 14, 2013 at 3:52 pm

Baci di Dama cookies with homemade nutella

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Baci-di-dama cookies with homemade nutella

It sometimes feels as if David Lebovitz is an integral part of our kitchen curriculum. These Baci di Dama cookies are via him except we substituted almond flour for hazelnut flour. Whatever you do, don’t substitute the rice flour out. They imparted a nutty flavor that held up against the vast amounts of butter, chocolate and nuts in this cookie.

I wish we still had the batch of hazelnuts a good friend got us from Oregon. But those hazelnuts had participated in making of homemade nutella based on yet another of David’s recipes. Instead of chocolate, we used the nutella as filling.

Even without the filling, the cookies are amazing. With the filling, the cookies are superlative. If you are facing a weekend where your choice is between home improvement and making cookies, go for these please and  I promise you that you will gain an year of life.

Written by Som

June 23, 2013 at 6:00 pm

Ginger-y banana bread

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I think I am one of those who buy bananas hoping that no one would eat them so I could make banana bread later. My go to recipes for banana bread these days is David Lebovitz’s site. He seems to have a tropical appreciation for this particular fruit. This time, starting with David Lebovitz’s recipe, I made following modifications:

  • Whole wheat flour
  • Yogurt instead of sour cream
  • Ginger syrup instead of sugar from “the ginger people” brand
  • Guittard’s white chocolate chips
  • Crushed kernels of allspice instead of cinnamon

Needed to be baked for 60 minutes but the result is again a super moist banana bread with overtones of ginger and allspice. Next time, I have to try the upside down banana cake.

Written by Som

June 23, 2013 at 5:38 pm

Home made kale chips

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Clean and dry two cups of kale leaves, cut into large bite size pieces. Place in a bowl and add 1 tsp of olive oil. Use your hands to evenly coat all leaves. Sprinkle salt and ground flower pepper (sichuan pepper). Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment and cook until dry in a 200F oven. A 350F oven will dry in 15 minutes or so. Higher temperature causes the leaves to brown but doesn’t seem to effect the taste. Crowding will cause uneven drying. In my oven, I have to turn the leaves every 10 minutes or so.

Enjoy! At least try. Imagine a marching band of kale superfood molecules going through your blood vessels and sucking up the cholesterol buildup in their wake. I like kale chips. Perhaps not as much as I like potato chips but when the local market is flooded with kale, it is hard to say no. And chips are better that sautéed greens, at least some of the times.

Written by Som

June 23, 2013 at 9:42 am

Posted in Californian, Cuisine

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Nettles and eggs

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Following recipe serves two. Start with 2 packed cups of greens. In principle you can use a variety of greens including spinach or arugula but I chose nettles because that is what I had at hand. Wash and spin dry.

In your favorite omelet pan on which eggs don’t stick, add 1Tbsp butter and nettles. Sprinkle a pinch of salt. Cook until barely wilted. Break open four eggs, gently.

In a separate saucepan, clarify 1Tbsp butter and fry a pinch of ground spices (seeds of one green cardamom, 4 whole black pepper kernels, 2 allspice kernels). Add this to the cooked eggs and serve.

Written by Som

June 23, 2013 at 9:22 am

Posted in Californian, Cuisine, Food, Lactose Free, Recipe

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