Saturday, December 29, 2012

Spaghetti with Soya balls

This is my 50th post and probably the last one of the year. What better way to end the year with recipe that I accidentally discovered. I am sure my vegetarian readers will be very happy with this veg version of spaghetti with meatballs. If you are planning a New Year party at home do try this recipe. It's very healthy since the soya balls are not fried at all.


For Soya balls
Nutrella's minced soya nuggets                  250 gms
Soya paneer or Tofu                                 100 gms
Breads                                                      2 slices
All purpose flour                                       2 tbsp
Garlic (finely chopped)                              6 cloves
Green chillis (finely chopped)                     2
Fresh corriander (chopped)                       2 tbsp
Salt to taste

For sauce
Tomatoes (chopped)                                          2
Onions (chopped)                                              2
Garlic (crushed)                                                 6 cloves
Tomatoes (boiled, peeled and pureed)                6
Salt to taste
Sugar                                                                 1 tsp
Black pepper powder                                        1/2 tsp
Bay leaves                                                         2
Dry basil                                                            1 tsp
Olive Oil                                                            1 tbsp


Soya balls

  • Mix all the ingredients for soya ball together and make small balls with the mixture. 
  • Cover them and keep them in the refrigerator till you prepare the sauce.


  • Heat olive oil in a pan and fry onions and garlic till onions turn transparent.
  • Throw in chopped tomatoes and bay leaves and fry for another 5 minutes.
  • Add the tomato puree, salt, sugar, black pepper powder, dry basil and soya balls and let it cook for 15 minutes.
  • Pour the sauce and soya balls on a bowl of boiled spaghetti, garnish with fresh basil and serve.

Open a bottle of white wine and have a very Happy New Year!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Life of (Apple) Pie

After procrastinating for the longest time I finally decided to bake the apple pie. A little inspiration came from my team mate Anjum so I decided to treat the family members and colleagues to a nice old fashioned Apple Pie. I Googled the recipe which mentioned Granny Smith apples (green apples). Although these apples are juicer yet I decided to stick to the normal apples available in the local market. Frankly I felt a bit lazy to get up and walk down to the supermarket. 

There are 1 crore 10 lakhs and 25 thousand apple pie recipes available on the net (okay, I might not be that accurate) Mine is no different hence I decided to click pictures of every step to make the life a bit easier for the readers. 

So, here you go....


For pastry (makes two 10 inch pie crusts)
All purpose flour                                               4 cups (approx 500 gms)
White butter (straight out of the fridge)              250 gms
Salt                                                                  1 tsp
Chilled water                                                    1/2 cup

For filling
Apples (medium sized)                                    5
Sugar                                                              1 cup
Lemon Juice                                                    2 tsp
Cinnamon powder                                           11/2 tsp
Nutmeg powder                                              1 tsp
All purpose flour                                             1/4 cup
Butter/Ghee                                                    2 tbsp
Egg yolk                                                         1
Milk                                                               1 tbsp


For pastry         
Mix all purpose flour and salt in a dish. Cut slices of butter in it till it becomes a little grainy.

Add water slowly and keep mixing till it forms a ball. Wrap it in a cling foil or aluminium foil and keep in the refrigerator for 4-5 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 220 degree celcius.

For the filling
Peel and slice the apples and toss them in lemon juice.

Mix flour, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg powder in a bowl and coat the apples with this mixture.

Sprinkle some flour on a flat, dry surface. Break the pastry dough into two balls. Roll each to make a 10 inch crust.

Place 1 crust in the pie dish and dot with butter. i used ghee which works equally good.

Pour the filling in the pie crust.

Cover it with the second pie crust and seal the corners.

Make cuts on the top crust to let the heat in. Beat the egg yolk and milk in a bowl and brush it over the top crust.

Bake at 220 C for 15 minutes. Turn the heat down to 180 C and bake for 45 minutes.

Let it cool on the frame.

Cut a nice slice and serve.

Dig in and be happy.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Food Review: Jam Jar Diner, Versova

It took us a few seconds to realize that there hasn't been an earthquake in the store and the shelves are strategically placed to look like as if they are falling over each other. The decor is classic. Wooden cabinets adorn the walls with books, crockery, music CDs, an old tape recorder and a Polaroid camera adding to the old school charm. A couple of staff members were sharpening Natraj pencils to place on every table with Sudoku sheets.

Beatles’ ‘all you need is love’ played in the background and we screamed excitedly spotting the source of the music, “look they have a jukebox!”. The morning couldn't have started on a better note. We headed straight to the mezzanine floor to grab a corner still admiring the taste of the restaurant owners who also own the famous Bonobo in Bandra.

The menu consists of burgers, sandwiches, pancakes, waffles, bar snacks and more. We decided to stick to the breakfast section and ordered a Red Velvet Pancake (Rs 140), Popeye – poached eggs, creamed spinach, cheddar, jalapeno waffles (Rs 201) and Eggs Kejriwal – fried eggs, green chilies and cheese served on toast (Rs 178). The last one was ordered just out of the curiosity generated by the name. We sipped on our apple pepper juice (Rs 140) and earl grey tea (Rs 78) while waiting for the breakfast. The juice was served in an old style jam jar or barni and that’s how we figured out the idea behind the name.

Our order took a little time but arrived fresh and hot. The red velvet pancakes were fluffy and soft and were served with whipped cream. We felt that either the pancakes or the cream needed a little sugar; the staff served us some sugar on the side that we sprinkled on the cream. Popeye had beautifully poached eggs served on crispy jalapeno waffles with a topping of spinach and cheddar cheese. It was a little heavy on salt since jalapeno, spinach, cheddar have a lot of salt content in them. The poached eggs however were perfect; the yolk was neither too hard nor too runny.

The dish with the most amusing name was very simple - fried eggs and cheese on toasted breads with a topping of fried green chillies. It was like something you make at home to fix a quick breakfast. While digging in we wondered why it was called Eggs Kejriwal and came up with different reasons, finally we asked the staff. We were told that the dish wasn’t named after a certain activist. It is named so because a local guy of the same name liked his eggs fried and served on toast with cheese and green chillies; a dish served in Mumbai clubs.

On our way out we spotted a jar full of Phantom Cigarettes. The staff offered some to us and we left happily but not before posing with them.

Must try – Popeye, red velvet pancake
Meal for two – Rs 1000 (taxes included)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A trip to Bhandardara

Bhandardara is Maharashtra's sleepy Hamlet set amidst the Sahyadri mountains and is best visited during monsoons. But we (me and my husband) decided to go there last weekend mainly to get away from the fast life, social media and noise. We took an early morning passenger train from Dadar and reached Igatpuri around 9 am. From Igatpuri we took an auto rickshaw which cost us Rs 500. Other options are to either take a cab which will cost you around Rs 1000 or take a shared rick till Ghoti and from there take a shared jeep to Bhandardara. There are ST buses too from Igatpuri to Bhandardara but can not be relied on due to low frequency. A drive from Mumbai to Bhandardara takes around 31/2 hours.

We reached Bhandardara and checked into our room in the MTDC resort by the Arthur lake. There are other small hotels too with rooms but none gives a view as beautiful as the MTDC resort. 

Beautiful Bougainvillea flowers adorned the roads and the lake sides.

I sat there by the quiet lake...

and scribbled on my notepad.

For lunch we went to a restaurant in the small market which serves Maharashtrian, Chinese and regular North Indian food. MTDC has a canteen too but we don't think that they cook in very hygienic conditions. We ordered 2 rice plates which came with dal fry, ussal, chhole, chapatis and rice. 

The food was good but very spicy and we were dreaded by the thought of eating the same food for dinner when my brother-in-law called and told us about this small place called Kaka Gujarati Thali . The only catch is that you have to inform the owner at-least 2 hours in advance and he'll prepare the dinner for you. On our way back we told him to prepare 2 thalis for us, each thali costs Rs 120.

After a little afternoon nap, a walk on the hills and by the lake and watching the Sunset we went for dinner at around 8pm. Yes, villages have early evenings hence early dinner. We were served a thali with lovely kadhi, aloo ki sabzi, sev ki sabzi, salad, hot rotis and khichdi. The food was fresh and very homely with no overwhelming spices. The owner, a middle aged Gujarati man, serves you as if you are his guests which makes the experience even better.

We called it an early night since we had planned to go for early morning boating in the lake and watch the Sunrise. The view was beautiful as we saw Sun coming out from behind a hill while we sat in the middle of the lake. It was quiet, serene and enchanting. In all the excitement I forgot to take the camera along and couldn't take pictures of the beautiful Sunrise.

For breakfast we went to the same Gujarati place to grab a plate of hot poha. While our breakfast was getting ready we couldn't stop ourselves from hogging on the yummy bhajias and batata vadas with chai at this nearby stall called Jai Hind.

Since we wanted a quiet weekend we stayed away from sight seeing but if you want you can go and check out the Wilson Dam, Mount Kalsubai, Agastya Rishi Ashram, Ratangad Fort and Amriteshwar Temple.

If you want some time off and be with yourself away from the fast paced world, I'd say you visit Bhandardara.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Grilled Rawas with Lemon Butter Sauce

Over the weekend I decided to be a little experimental and cook some rawas. Since my sister is pregnant and is not allowed to eat too much salt or oil I opted for grilling. I asked my dad to bring rawas fillets and honestly he didn't have any idea about rawas or fillets since he mostly cooks rohu in very Bengali or North Indian style. Still, he went to buy it and when he asked the fisherwoman to cut the rawas into 3 big pieces he was told, "rawas ka 3 piece? Wo toh Negro khata hai." Now I would not want to delve into that statement and make any sense out of it. Anyhow, he got the fish cut in regular curry style pieces and the MasterChef in me tried to make peace with it. While the way of cutting fish did not make any difference to the dish we had to remove bones while eating it. So, if you end up in a similar situation don't panic, the fish will grill alright. Just remember to remove the skin before serving it.


For fish
Rawas                            750 gms
Dried mix herbs              2 tbsp
Lemon juice                    2 tbsp
Black pepper powder     1 tsp
Salt to taste
Olive Oil                         1 tbsp

For lemon butter sauce
White wine                      60 ml
Lemon juice                     3 tbsp
Cream                             2 tbsp (I used fresh malai from milk)
Unsalted butter                2 tbsp
Chopped parsley             1 tbsp
Salt to taste            



  • Clean the fish fillets and marinate them in dried herbs, lemon juice, black pepper powder and salt. Rub the marinade on all sides of the fish properly. 
  • Cover them and leave for at-least an hour, the more the merrier. 
  • Preheat oven at 180 degrees.
  • Once hot set the oven for grilling.
  • Rub a little olive oil on all sides of the fish and place it on the griller.
  • Let it cook for 30 minutes. Don't forget to turn them over after 15 minutes so that they cook from both the sides.
Lemon butter sauce
While your fish is grilling you can quickly make your lemon butter sauce. I took the recipe from here and it's pretty simple.
  • Pour wine in a saucepan and simmer over medium heat till it's reduced to half.
  • Add cream and let it simmer till it gets a sauce like consistency.
  • Add butter, lemon juice, parsley and salt and stir constantly to make a smooth sauce.
  • Add a little water if you find it too thick or simmer for some more time if it's too thin.
Pour hot over the grille rawas fillets, garnish with some chopped parsley and serve.

Food Review: Cafe Sundance, Churchgate

When the iconic Sundance Cafe shut 2 years ago it broke a lot of hearts. There was a lot of nostalgia attached to this place where many youngsters went for their first dates, had many unforgettable meals or had their first steak. A couple of restaurants opened in its place but couldn't bring back the same magic. Last month Sundance Cafe reopened and brought back a lot of memories for the ex-patrons. After reading about it on twitter and going through a couple of reviews I decided to check it out myself. But the only hiccup was that I didn't have anything to compare it with since I never went to the old Sundance. So while I was able to give a fresh perspective it was essential for me to know how it was like back then. Help came via Twitter in form of Prachi Joshi of Deliciously Directionless, a banker turned blogger who was a regular at the cafe in her college days.

We met for lunch and as soon as I entered Prachi told me that the look of the cafe has completely changed. The old Sundance didn't have a very posh looking furniture and the mezzanine floor used to be so cramped up that it was almost difficult to sit there. Well, now the restaurant looks a lot more sophisticated. The wall behind the reception is made into a showcase and there are models of antique cars, typewriters etc, placed in every shelf. One shelf also stacks some old Archie comics. We went on the mezzanine floor and grabbed a table. There's a small bar in the corner too but the guests can not sit at the bar.

We were handed over the menu which was printed in a style of a newspaper. While going through it Prachi realised that the menu has been completely revamped. She was a little disheartened to see the famous turtle burgers (burgers with bread shaped like a turtle) missing. The current menu is a mix of American and European dishes.We ordered 2 pints of beer, perfect for a hot afternoon and Mushroom Puffs (Rs 280). The puffs were not very oily, soft and stuffed with mushrooms and goat cheese. While we liked the light bites both of us found the portion a little small. While we were downing our beers the Chef served us two small cups of Mushroom Cappuccino - a very light mushroom soup served in a coffee cup with a little froth on the top. Prachi immediately decided to try making it at home.

For the mains we decided to stick to the burgers. Prachi ordered a beef tenderloin burger (Rs 385) and I opted for a fish and chips one (Rs 385). The cafe has also put up a little challenge for those with big appetites, it serves a 20 OZ beef tenderloin burger stuffed with bacon, eggs, cheese and vegetables (Rs 900). If you manage to finish it all by yourself it's free. while we were going through the menu our burgers arrived sitting pretty on a wooden platter with a portion of fries and salad on the side. Fries were served in a French fry holder or a deep fryer. The fish burger had a fat, crispy and juicy piece of fish coated with a mayonnaise sauce. If we had any plans of ordering more food they were wiped out once the burgers arrived.

After stuffing ourselves with the huge burger we somehow managed to secure a small corner of the stomach for dessert. we ordered the only dish available on the menu, blueberry cheesecake which was not too creamy, mildly sweetened and without a heavy dose of blueberry topping. We finished our meal and stepped out, Prachi for a little shopping trip and I back to work.

So, while the new Sundance Cafe has not retained anything except the name the food is great and worth a try.
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