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Friday, October 5, 2012

Pav Bhaji (Bread with mashed veggies)

If you have ever been to Bombay..oops.. Mumbai, especially if you have wandered on the chowpatties or streets with roadside food vendors, you must have noticed a guy with a big masher mashing away something on a huge flat round griddle or Tava. On the same tava he is frying some crisp pav or bread. You got it right my dear foodies, I am talking about Pav bhaji, Mumbai's favorite street side food.
Pav Bhaji literally means 'Bread with vegetables'. A spicy magical concoction of veggies like - potatoes, cauliflower, peas, tomatoes, onions, capsicum -  all of them mashed until they lose their individual identity. A Pav (in Marathi for bread) crisp fried with Amul butter is served alongside. Sides and garnishes include slice of lemon or chopped onions or raita or cucumber and onion slices; every vendor has his own style.
But one thing that no one forgets is the blob of butter on top of bhaji...yummm.

Pav Bhaji
Pav Bhaji
Pav Bhaji - Recipe
Onions - 1 + 1/4 cup, finely chopped
Tomatoes - 2 cups, finely chopped (substitution : tomato paste)
Capsicum / Green Pepper - 1/2 cup, finely chopped
Potatoes - 2-3 medium sized
Cauliflower - 1 cup
Green Peas - 1/2 cup
Garlic - 3-4 cloves (substitution : garlic paste - 1 teaspoon)
Red chilli powder - 2 teaspoons
Pav Bhaji Masala - 2 tablespoons
Turmeric powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Coriander leaves - handful, chopped
Lemon - 3-4 wedges
Salt - As per taste
Oil - 1 tablespoon
Butter - 4-5 tablespoons
Pav (Substitution : regular sandwich bread)

1. Boil cauliflower, peas and potatoes. Peel the potatoes and mash all these veggies and set aside.
2. Make a paste of the garlic cloves and 1 teaspoon of red chilli powder.
3. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large pan and add the above (garlic and red chilli) paste and turmeric powder.
4. Add 1 cup of finely chopped onions and saute' until the onions are soft.
5. Add finely chopped tomatoes and capsicum. Saute' until everything is soft and well cooked.
6. Add rest of the red chilli powder, pav bhaji masala and salt and mix well.
7. Add the mixture of mashed veggies and mix well.
8. Add a cup of water, cover and cook.
9. Mash the bhaji with the potato masher and let it simmer for 10 minutes.
10. Adjust salt and chilli or masala.
11. Slice the pav and butter it on all sides. Fry it on a tava / griddle until lightly browned and crisp on all sides.
12. Take the rest of 1/4 cup of finely chopped onions. Sprinkle a little salt, red chilli powder and salt on these. This masala onion can be served alongside bhaji or as garnish.
13. Garnish the bhaji with chopped coriander leaves and 2 teaspoons of amul butter or more ;-).
14. Serve along with a wedge of lemon and the masala onion and the crisp buttered pav.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Thai Chicken Massaman Curry

Situation - You receive a phone call saying your husband's Uncles and Aunts are visiting for a couple of days. Sometime back, your knowledge base was updated that they love trying out different cuisines, provided the food is spicy. Alright, so here's your chance to impress them.

Solution - To your rescue... comes Thai cuisine....hot and spicy just like we Indians love, yet a distinct flavour, easy to make and hence easy to impress ;-).

But let's play safe...the closest cousin of Indian Chicken curry is the Thai Chicken Massaman Curry. Massaman is just an old word for Muslim, cause that's where the origins of this curry are. This curry is heavy on spices and just like other Thai curries uses coconut milk to tone it down. Chicken can be substituted with beef, mutton, lamb or tofu. Spices like - Red chillies, cloves, cinnamon, cumin, coriander seeds, black peppercorns is what makes this curry hot and spicy. Now you will say, 'That is exactly what we use in Indian curries'. But wait, there are some Thai cuisine - specific ingredients like Galangal, Fish sauce, Lemongrass, Cassia leaves and shrimp paste that sets this curry apart from the Indian curries.

Thai Chicken Massaman Curry
Thai Chicken Massaman Curry


Thai Chicken Massaman Curry - Recipe
Chicken - 1/2 Kg. (I used boneless here)
Potato - 1 medium sized, cubed
Onions - 1/2 cup, roughly chopped
Roasted peanuts - handful
Cinnamon - 1 inch stick
Cassia leaves - 2-3 (Substitution : Bay leaves)
Coconut Milk - 1 and 1/2 - 2 cups
Paprika - 1/4 teaspoon
Fish sauce - 1/8 teaspoon (Substitution : soy sauce)
Sugar - 1/2 teaspoon
Massaman curry paste - store bought or homemade - see the recipe below.

For Massaman Curry paste: (Or just get a packet of Massaman Curry paste from store)
Dry red chillies - 2-3
Black Peppercorns - 2-3
Cloves - 2
Cardamom - 2
Coriander seeds - 1 teaspoon
Cumin seeds - 1 teaspoon
Ginger - 1/2 inch piece
Coriander stalks - 1-2
Lemon grass - 1 stalk
Garlic - 3-4 cloves
Shallots - 1 small
Mace - 1 small piece (Hindi : Javitri)
Shrimp paste - 1/4 teaspoon (Can be found in Asian supermarkets)
    Dry roast peppercorns, cloves, cardamom, red chillies, cumin seeds, mace and coriander seeds. Ground these spices. Make a paste of these powdered spices, ginger, coriander stalks, garlic, shallots, lemon grass and shrimp paste. This paste can be stored in the refrigerator for a week.

1. Heat oil in a pan. Add Cinnamon and Cassia/ Bay leaves.
2. Add 2-3 tablespoons of the Massaman Curry Paste and saute' until fragrant.
3. Add cubed chicken pieces and mix well with the paste. Cover and cook for a minute.
4. Add Coconut milk and Paprika and mix well. Add half a cup of water and cover and simmer for 3-4 minutes.
5. Add onions, potatoes and roasted peanuts. Add fish sauce. Fish sauce is for Thai cuisine, what soy sauce is for Chinese. But you can always substitute it for soy sauce or salt, if you don't find one in the stores.
6. Add sugar and water and let simmer until the oil separates or chicken is cooked.

Serve hot with the fragrant Jasmine rice. (Substitution : Basmati rice)