Category Archives: Random bits and bobs ..

Chintu..the brave boxer with the largest heart

We have always been a family of dog lovers and have had many a dog all of whom have touched our hearts in a unique way.. Chintu was one such who beat the odds all the time and had such an optimism about him that was heart warming to see .He loved us all to bits and would sulk if he saw another pup getting some cuddles more than what he did ..

This story is about how he beat the Russel’s viper and survived his snake bite the time around 1998/99.

I worked in OAS Bombay at the time and would often go back home to Pune to meet my parents and all the doglings.. One such evening when I landed home it awas evening I saw Aai and Baba on the platform/ deck outside the house and a prone Chintu.

Apparently they saw him barking in the bushes and then attack something which they found later to be the dead body of Russel’s viper.He then took a few steps toward them and collapsed.

Then being doctors they decided they must do whatever it could be to save our brave boy.Deep my brother went to Sassoon hospital to grab antivenin and atropine.

We sat up all night alterately holding him while Baba my father injected him every hour with antivenin and then Atropine . The next day I had to return back to work and Bombay. In the morning our boy Chintu woke up and took a few woozy steps but made a full recovery.

A year or so later he would leave the house to go-to Talegaon where he spent the rest of his days on our family friends poultry farm .

Sometime later in another dog Anamika got bitten too but couldn’t be saved. She did leave for us two lovely gifts whom we named after her and a friend’s sister Anne Marie and Mika who had stories of their own.

Green papaya chutney/plastic chutney

When I worked at the Oberoi Grand in Calcutta many years back, there was a very popular condiment they would make all the time from Green papaya .they would call it plastic chutney because the papaya would get almost transparent look to it like a sheet of plastic.

The way to make it quite simple.

  • Green papaya peeled and thinly sliced – 1 roughly 300 g
  • Sugar – 300 g can go lesser really upto you
  • Mustard seeds- 1/4 t
  • Nigella seeds- pinch
  • Fennel seeds – pinch
  • Turmeric – 1/4 t
  • Ginger peeled and chopped – 20 g
  • white vinegar – 25 ml
  • Salt to taste

Combine all ingredients and add about 100 ml water.

Simmer till tender and check seasoning.

Chill and refrigerate in a clean bottle and use with any kind of foods really.

Salsa rojo

This is rustic semi hot and spicy sauce which is perfect for roast chicken but would work also for meatballs / albondigas or on fish ..hell I would even serve as a dunking sauce for a crusty baguette.. the recipe here is good to make in bulk and freeze.. just add the cream before you decide to serve it

  • Tomatoes over ripe even – 500 g
  • Garlic cloves peeled – 3-4/10 g
  • Onion brown peeled half -50-60 g
  • Vegetable oil-1T/ 20 g
  • Salt- to taste
  • Chipotle chilli for the smoky taste ..1-2
  • Chicken stock -200 g

Take a heavy bottom carbon steel or cast iron pan and heat it .when quite hot add every thing inside except the stock.. the idea is to get all the vegetable charred and black almost..just one step away from burnt…

Cool down and blend till smooth. Us the stock to adjust consistency. Check seasoning .

I also typically add some cream- about 100 g and pepper to finish the sauce..

Dosa part DEUX – Sambar

This is not a recipe for a dosa but more like the mini me for your dr evil or the thorn for your rose. Don’t tell me your mum makes it better than this…I’m sure she does but a it’s not a competition..every one has their own version..this is my own

These are the accompaniments for that delectable fermented pancake or the steamed rice cake the idli .there will be part trois absolutement for the two chutneys ..too but that’s not today..the train I’m writing this in will reach much before that.

So for the dal we need either tur/ Tuvar dal or a mix of tur dal and masoor( the red lentil).we will make one pot full of sambar it’s hard to put down how many portions we can get out of it.

  • Tur dal.- 1/2 cup / approximately 120 g wash rinse and soak.Cook either in the pressure cooker approximately 2-3 whistles or in the pot till it’s soft and mushy. Add a qtr spoon of fenugreek seeds during the cooking time
  • eggplant -30-40 g cut in cubes
  • small red shallots – 4-5 peeled called vengayam in Tamil they give a hint of sweetness to the lentil
  • Drumstick( not the chicken kind)/ Moringa / Murungakai-1 cut into 2 inch pieces . Give a unique flavour to it
  • Tomato small / 75 g cut into large dice.
  • oil 10 ml
  • mustard seeds -1/4 t / 2 g
  • Asafoetida- pinch prevents you from becoming Gassy classy ..
  • curry leaves – 1 sprig fresh or dry..
  • dry red chilli – 1/2 small one
  • turmeric-1/4 t..yup the same thing which goes in your latte but with no sugar
  • Sambar masala podi/ powder use mtr or brahmins – 1/4- to 1/2 t
  • Tamarind -5 g soaked in 50 ml hot water
  • Ghee – 10 g to add in the end ..for that flavour burst

Heat the oil and add the mustard seeds they should start to pop and crackle . Add also the asafetida , curry leaves the powdered spices and the cooked lentils.

Then simmer with the cut vegetable till vegetable are tender and add tomato and tamarind. Add ghee right in end for the extra oomph

Raan -sublime slow braised leg / shoulder of lamb

So…theres this slow braised kind of lamb which I’m sure had it’s origins in the Levant region or with the Ottomans.. in the middle east it’s quite the custom to serve a braised / roasted whole lamb for a feast.

Since we don’t have Tyrannosaurus sized ovens at home and because a raan is an Indian version of the middle eastern thing we will use the lamb leg . You could use a shoulder..if you like that’s perfectly fine . The idea is to get it so tender that when you touch it with your fork or fingers the meat should be easy to tear off ..kind of like the Galouti kebab invented for the toothless Nawab but not as melty..but you get the general idea.

The first step is to get a whole shoulder or leg of lamb, not too big approximately 1.5 kgs -2 kgs..a day and half before you want to eat this any faster and you swiftly lose the plot..its not meant to be fast food.

So

  • Lamb leg / shoulder bone in( better flavour)-1.5-2 kg
  • Plain natural yoghurt- approximately 200 g
  • Red chilli powder bright red in colour not crazy hot- as much as you like/ or 1/2 t
  • fried onions – approximately 2 T or 35-40 g
  • Ginger chopped/ ground- 20 g
  • Garlic chopped / ground- 30 g
  • Nutmeg grated – very small pinch .grate it fresh it’s better but not too much it can be toxic and and we don’t to overpower the meat flavour
  • Turmeric – yup the stuff they add in these new fangled lattes these days – pinch
  • Slit green chilli- 2-3 depending on how much heat you want..
  • Roasted cashew – 1 T ground to a paste .. this is optional but adds some thickening to the sauce and makes it richer.

So we are going to poke the lamb with a fork or the tip of a stout sharp knife , minding those fingers we don’t want you bleeding all over the beautiful meat.

Then we combine all the ingredients and rub it into the meat with some salt ..cover it all up and keep it overnight in the fridge .

The next day if you want this for dinner then you need to start in the morning and slow roast this with some water or better still lamb stock..

So the way to do this is keep it In a deep dish/ roasting pan lined with baking paper + foil underneath .then set your oven to 170C/ 375F . Add liquid ( stock or water) till it’s atleast 1/3 rd upto level of the meat . Then slow cook this and baste several times so it’s stays moist .

The liquid helps the break down the connective tissue in the meat faster and converts it to gelatine( but that’s the science behind it). We use science to make yummy food. We also test the lamb for doneness the old fashioned way.. poke it till the meat is fork tender .almost falling off the bone.. ( no this is not eaten medium rare or pink ) .

When youve achieved this take off the heat and flavour with some fresh mint and a pinch of garam masala .In some of our hotels we would flambe this with some dark rum but I believe this was more for the ” Oooh Aahh ” factor ..let’s save the rum for the chocolate truffles ..

Serve with hot parathas basmati rice or Turkish bread . Best eaten with a crowd as a part of a few more food offerings .more is good in this case.