Chiwda or more tails of growing up.

So when were young or rather younger, we as in my younger brother Deep and I would go off to my Ajjis( grandmother in Marathi)house. Aai and Baba being doctors were busy so would send us there before school began at 1230 .

Since I always had a taste for the savoury or rather the tasty snacky bits I and Deep too would get a bowl of Ajjis chiwda. For the uninitiated Chiwda is snack or pharal made at any time of the year but also predominantly at Diwali the festival of lights.Every family claims that their secret recipe is Manna from heaven .Having been an afficionado since me tender years I can also make vague claims like these..

Makes you happy , makes you smile..all nonsense..

So you need to make this with poha ,( a kind of flattened rice flakes) , which I don’t know the history of.I am not going to say these are hand beaten by young Marathi people in one little lane of Pune , but it could be true..and add some embellishments to my little tail.

Now these rice flakes come in varying thicknesses and this particular recipe is for ” Paratlela pohyachya Chiwda”, which needs the thinnest variety called Pattal poha or Nylon poha.

Poha flakes- 500 g

Oil-20 ml

Ghee- clarified butter-20 g or so..

Mustard seeds black 1/2 t about 1 g if you wanted to be pedantic and weigh it

Cumin seeds/ Jeera- 1 t, 2.5 g

Curry leaves-1 sprig

Green chilli-1-2. Chopped fine ,can go a bit more if you like to burn your taste buds

Garlic -1-2 cloves sliced very thin…cant do it ..go back to post where you learn to sharpen your knife.

Asafoetida- small pinch Ferula asafoetida comes from Afghanistan or Iran and is compounded and mixed with wheat flour usually.. this is typically used as anti flatulent in most indian foods which are snacky or with lentils beans …

Roasted peanuts with skin on typically…yay you can go berserk with quantity here I’ve developed an intolerance over the years but love these still.

Roasted chickpeas skinless called daliya- about 2 T, 25 g or so.

Cashew nuts – 2 T, 50 g or so..if you are feeling rich..can be made without and tastes just as good.

Ok moving on to the method…At the end I’ll share a story of how I eated a whole lot and drove my Ajji mad.

So traditionally the poha flakes are sauteed lightly over a low heat for a long time till they get cripsy..( the typos are deliberately put in to check if you are noticing)

But I like to roast these in an oven low heat so that avoids breaking the grains..so about 120 C for about 30 mins on low fan or zero fan . Turning every ten mins or so.

Then you heat the oil, and add the mustard seeds and crackle them , take off he heat add cumin, curry leaves , chilli garlic , asafoetida and turmeric ( which I hadn’t added to the list of the ingredients so about 1/2 t or 2 g)

Add also the daliya, peanuts and cashew and saute..of course by now you have gotta put back on the heat. This you do till the cashew and the daliya is toasted and cruncheee.

Then add salt and sugar which are also not in the list of ingredients..because U need to gauge how much you want to add here ..and the rice flakes .turn that oven off now and U could use the residual heat to dehydrate mandarin slices or so..

Then continue to saute till the rice flakes are well mixed and not burning..low heat..please.Add in the ghee and check for seasoning and taste from time to time . At this point my wife shouts saying stop being greedy.

Usually I have this stuff stored all through the year like Ajji used to.

She was 70 + when we were kids so I’m pretty sure we harassed her a fair bit without meaning to..there was once I climbed up on the chair took down the container of chiwda and ate it all up.when she woke up from her afternoon nap she was furious…as was meant to be rationed over the next few weeks …ohh the memories..”arree melyano, khetra ni badveen”( meaning, you little brats/ rascals, i want to smack you with my slippers).

The Art of the ” Cully puff” or more heart breaking things ( quite literally)

So this is an ode to something very snacky can be a bite or a bit more substantial it’s all upto the doer / cooker.

I’ve called it the Cully puff after Chef Prakob who would pronounce a curry that way but with absolutely no disrespect..That guy was a master Thai chef , when I was a humble trainee in Delhi at The Oberoi and at India’s first Thai restaurant ” Baan Thai”.

But apart from the name that little introduction had nothing to do with what we are looking to cook.

This little confection can be as fancy pants as you want it to be or a really simple street food in India , where I first ate it. Over the years in many different parts of the world I’ve seen different versions of something similar with various different fillings and varying degrees of sophistication.

What this is essentially is a flaky pastry triangle or rectangle filled with mix of vegetables quite spicy of course and potato…something which we could afford to buy for 2 Rs at one point of time ( approximately 5 cents ) when I was in college in 1988-90. The place making this since closed down and moved to my delight 200 mtrs away from my house in Pune . Santosh bakery where they would bake these in a wood fired monster sized oven and then they would be a queue of people lined up to buy them burning hot from the oven.oozing trans fats ( who knew there was such a thing in the 90’s) these were quite amazing.

So here is my take on them. This recipe makes about 8 .

Flaky or puff pastry – 250 g / get a good quality one pre rolled if you can or you can pay me to teach you how to make it.

For the filling.

  • Peeled and chopped brown onion -1/2 / 50 g
  • Boiled and peeled potato- 1 medium /200 g
  • Oil – 20 ml
  • Cumin seeds whole – 2 g/ 1/4 t
  • Ginger and garlic paste or chopped -20 g
  • Turmeric -1/4 t / 1 g
  • Curry powder 1/2 t / 3 g
  • Coriander leaves chopped -1 sprig
  • Mint leaves chopped -1 sprig ( U can add more of this and coriander they are there to aromatise the filling.
  • Green peas-1 T or about 20 g
  • Carrot 1/2 small about 25 g or can be replaced with frozen mixed vegetables

Turkish pide /Tanzhong style

This remains one of my favourite breads to eat…like a few dozen other, but truly a nice pide/ or its relative the barbary naan bread are sooo good with a stew or a grilled chicken kebab , to mop up some curry, or even simply like in a panini s/w.

will update more when im riding the train today in Sydney…

And what can be more fun than juggling a cup of latte ,praise the Lord for cups with lids.

So we first need to the make this sticky paste which is called tangzhong in china and shokupan in Japan where you cook some starch with a liquid and then use that as a base for your bread .this allows for the bread to absorb more water , which allows for the bread to stay cottonsoft for a lot longer without any other additives .

So for that first I took

Milk 300 ml and cooked it with 30 g of flour and butter to make a kind of a bechamel or white sauce. Keep 1 spoon separately.Cool that down till you can touch it with your fingers and add about 100 ml water .( Very important that it’s not too hot or you going to kill them yeastie babies

Then to that you add 6 g of yeast, and 10 g sugar and 10 g salt mix lightly and add flour 400 g( I used 50 g spelt, 200 whole wheat and 150 regular. I then just lightly mixed it up .

Then I proofed it in the fridge with some plastic wrap so it doesn’t get dry.

Then you knock it back , gently and divide into 4.round it up and leave it for a few minutes.

Then you sort of elongate the dough and make it into a rectangle shape . Dimple the top and proof again.

Test the side by touching the side.if it springs back immediately it’s not ready to bake just yet.

Prrheat your oven to 200 C and brush your bread dough with diluted bechamel+ 30ml of olive oil which you have saved in the first step…didn’t save it..Curses ..

Then top it with sesame seeds ,Nigella and I used some fennel too with some cracked salt.

Bake for approximately 14-16 minutes turning midway through the cooking process .brush with olive oil when done and serve..

Pumpkin Pie!!

This is a very american Thanksgiving dessert, and sometimes not that popular with the rest .Partly i giess due the texture and the colour.But properly made it can be very satisfying and nice, alomst with a cheesecake type consistency.

so for this we need

  1. Flour 120 g
  2. butter-60 g
  3. sugar – 30 g
  4. Egg – 1/2

This wil give you enough pastry to make one pie and have a bit to spare.Crumble the butter sugar and flour with your fingertips .Add the egg and knead very lightly to form the dough. /line your pie tin with the pastry evenly and rest for atleast 15-30 minutes before par baking .Par bake at 170 C for 15 minutes.

For the filling we will use.

  1. Pumkin puree – 250 g
  2. eggs -1.5+ use up the half leftover from the pastry.- no waste
  3. brown sugar-150 g
  4. cinnamon- pinch
  5. dry ground ginger – large pinch
  6. allspice- pinch
  7. melted butter- 20g
  8. evaporated milk -240 ml

to make the filling whisk eggs with sugar and then add the rest of the ingredients.use a stick blender to blend all of it smooth.

Pour it into your par baked pie crust and cook for 10 mins at 1170 c, and then lower temperature to 130 C for a further 30-35 minutes.the filling should be barely set.

allow to cool down and then refrigerate and serve.

Wonton/ Hun tun

Will write about one of my fav appetizers here coming soon as soon as I finish walking many kms.

I learnt how to make these not in some random little tea shop in Canton like some of them famous people claim.

Nah that’s not for me I instead had to make these as per order(8 ) for every portion and sometimes for banquets at the Krishna Oberoi a luxury hotel in Hyderabad. For banqueting they were ordered in dozens so the chef would tell out to me.” Hey bamboklat in the break just make 125 dozen wontons”. What the *#”@’:&_&–..

So I had to get pretty fast at it or would get no break at all….This was when I was a trainee from the Oberoi school of hotel management..and we were treated like the lowest of the low by all. The staff hated us cos at some point of time we would become their bosses / supervisors and the supervisors would think yeah right , let’s see if this young fella can take as much torture as I think he can…no how about 24 hr shifts..yeah just have a nap on the oil drum in the dry store .

Ok before we go far far away in the tales of the enchanted forest..lets go back to these delectable morsels.

You will need to find a good source of wonton/ hun tun wrappers somewhere in your town.too hard to make from scratch and they are reasonably cheap to buy ready made .1.9$ at local supermarket in Sydney and can be used also to make teeny tiny spring rolls ( also make a 85 dozens of those Yash) and Shu Mai/ sui Mai .

For the filling we need

  • Chicken mince – 250 ( can use a mix of chicken and prawns )
  • Chinese rice wine ( Hua Tia chiew)-5 ml
  • Chicken stock powder/ Ji Jin – pinch
  • Light soy sauce- 2 ml or so
  • Celery chopped fine- 5 g
  • Coriander stems -2 g
  • Cracked pepper- pinch
  • Sesame oil – 2 ml
  • For the outer we will use store bought wrappers ..we’ve already said why before in the rambling stuff written above.
  • so you fold the wrapper in half and then twist it amd stick them behind each other to form that funky shape.(hmm you probably are going to need a video or so to get it right).
  • but once i do that you can poach or fry these beauties and sing happy songs!!

Shokupan/ aka Hokkaido milk bun

There is a kind of pull apart bread we eat in Mumbai / Bombay called pav .this recipe doesn’t taste anything like that.

What the$#@&-++, you must be thinking , why bother mentioning it then . because the Hokkaido milk bun hmb for short looks like pav ladi we get in India but tastes far better and is akin to a pav wearing foundation and make up sitting in a fancy car.

So the way to make it is also diffferent slightly more complex. We take a small amount of flour and milk and cook it to a paste. What this does is allow the rest of the dough when finished to get more soft and fluffy.( Because of complex chemical reactions..,you dont want to know all the details.

  • Flour 450+50 g
  • Milk 225+100 ml
  • Sugar 10 g
  • Salt-10 g
  • Yeast active dry-10 g

so now once we have weighed our stuff ,we measure out flour and take 50 g separate and cook it with 100 ml milk till it gets to be like a gel and gluey. This is called Yudane in Japan and tangzhong in china.we are not going to sit and examine which one came first or why they even work. Suffice it to say that they do.

Then you add the rest of the liquid ( milk ) in this case to the gluey mix and whisk it up .cool it till gets blood warm then add the sugar salt flour and yeast in that order.dont change the order otherwise you could kill the yeast.Also don’t put in yeast in hot dough which also is the way of the seppuku( honorable suicide ), because yeast will die above 50 odd degree and you will be left with a stone to pelt at your enemies .Bam blam..whiz..

Add 20 g of butter and 20 ml oil to dough and knead it in

Ok so we have arrived at that happy moment where the dough has been amalgamated and yeast is ready to multiply and make CO2 to make holes and allow your dough to rise. For this at home what I do is heat up water in the microwave and keep the dough next to it .( In a bowl).

Then preheat your oven to 190 deg C…the USA guys have to do a google search to find out what temp they need to achieve. Ok sorry it’s about 425 F.

Then the big piece of dough you knock back or de gas and divide into 20 pieces ..

Shape them into round balls and elongate them slightly.

Put back in the microwave with water till they get nicely proofed.

Then brush with milk and melted butter butter and bake for approximately 15-18 mins

stories of foods from the world over, laced with a hint of sarcasm and some black humour, its not for everyone, but then never was meant to be..