Megha Jandhyala has a Doctorate in law, with her academic work focusing on the intersections between law, culture, and development. She now spends her time tasting and writing about food and wine. She is passionate about wines from all over the world, but she is especially interested in emerging wine regions like Valle de Guadalupe and Coahuila in Mexico and Nashik in India. She explores the relationship between wine and food in her writing, with a focus on cuisine from the Indian subcontinent. She hopes to highlight the ways in which wine and different expressions of South Asian regional cuisine can enhance one another, sparking new conversations in the process.
I know this is an unseasonable post, but it just so happens that I have been craving cold coffee recently. I think it’s because we went to a dosa place for lunch the other day, and I ordered a delicious Indian style cold coffee, post lunch. Ever since then, it’s been on my mind. So, as much as it seems like a more appropriate drink for the summer, I’ve been whipping up cold coffees for myself these days.
It also reminds me of my best friend from high school, who used to be obsessed (and I am not exaggerating, she didn’t use to be able to get through a day without at least a glass of the stuff) with cold coffee. I miss her and I am nostalgic for the good times we shared together. Oh, to be young again 😉
Sometimes nostalgia makes foods and drinks that much more enjoyable! So if you’ve been missing cold coffees too, read on and make yourself some! And if you’ve never had some before, try it out, as trying new and strange concoctions can be as joyful an experience as reliving past good times 😊
An espresso maker (optional)
2 handfuls of ice (you can add more or less according to your preference)
Coffee (either a shot of espresso, or 1-2 tsp of instant coffee)
1 cup of milk (dairy, almond, coconut, or any kind really)
I am not really a breakfast person! Ever since I’ve discovered compote, however, my mornings are looking a little more cheery 🙂
Compote is a great addition to a parfait, waffles, pancakes, and crepes!
Here is a super simple recipe to make your own blueberry compote!
A small (about a quart) heavy bottomed saucepan
1 cup blueberries
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tsp lemon zest
1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1. Bring the sugar and water to boil in the saucepan at medium-high heat. Swirl the pan around a bit to make sure the sugar isn’t stuck at the bottom. Let it cook for 6-8 mins until the mixture thickens a bit.
2. Then, add in the blueberries, lower the heat to medium, and stir gently. Cook the berries for about 5 minutes. If you’re using frozen berries, cook the berries for a little longer, about 8-10 mins.
3. Take the pan off the heat. Add in the lemon zest and juice and mix well. Let the compote sit for about 15-20 minutes, until it cools.
4. Pour it into a little jar and refrigerate and use it whenever you need it. I wouldn’t store it longer than a week or so, though.
You can enjoy it with cheese and crackers or on all sorts of breakfast items! Like this yoghurt parfait:
I wasn’t always a huge parfait fan. If you follow this blog, you know that I mostly only eat chocolatey sweet things. But then, we went away for a weekend this June, and had this delicious parfait every morning at our Bed and Breakfast:
On a side note, we stayed in a boat house on the water in Catalina Bay, in the Kawartha Lakes region and it was absolutely lovely! Here are some photos of the place:
Our hostess was very gracious and kind, and the real bonus was that there was a resident kitty at the B&B!
But I was telling you about the parfait: it’s been a hot summer, and I’ve really been craving some creamy, berry filled parfait ever since our trip. So I went ahead and made some this morning:
If you’d like to give it a shot, here’s how:
A small thick bottomed saucepan
A grater or zester
Spoons, a spatula, and a whisk
1 cup yoghurt
1/4 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup blueberries (frozen or fresh)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1-3 tsp granola (you can go here, if you want to make your own (you can skip the coconut if you don’t like the idea of blueberries with coconut))
1. First, we’ve got to make our compote: Bring the sugar and water to boil in the saucepan at medium-high heat. Let it cook for 6-8 mins until the mixture thickens a bit. Add in the blueberries, lower the head to medium, and stir gently. Cook the berries for about 5 minutes. If you’re using frozen berries, cook the berries for a little longer. Take the pan off the heat. Add in the lemon zest and juice and mix well. Let the compote sit for about 15-20 minutes, until it cools.
2. Whisk the yoghurt and vanilla together in a bowl.
5. Serve the compote and yoghurt together in a new bowl. You can do it in whatever way looks nice to you. I did this:
I think mangoes are an abomination. My partner, on the other hand, absolutely loves them. Today, on the first warm day we’ve had after a cold and miserable winter, he asked me to help him make a mango lassi. He wanted to drink it while he watched a big soccer match that he had been looking forward to watching.
(As it happens, soccer is another thing that I detest. In fact, soccer and mangoes may be the only two things he and I consistently and steadfastly disagree on.)
Since I find him somewhat more charming than I find mangoes objectionable, I decided to take up this most challenging of challenging tasks: making something I would hate having to consume myself. I did some reading, asking around and thinking and came up with this concoction. He loved it!
(My love was tested today because the lassi had to be tasted whilst I was making it 😬 and I will say that it wasn’t horrendous, which is high praise indeed.)
The process is simple, quick, and easy (quite unlike most of my other recipes 😝), if you’re interesting in replicating it.
A knife and cutting Board
A Mortar and Pestle
1 Mango, chopped coarsely
2 Cardamom Pods, crushed to a powder
3-6 Tbsp Yoghurt/Dahi (depending on how thick you like your lassi)
8-12 Cubes of Ice
Chilled Water (optional)
Honey (optional, depending on how sweet the mango is)
A Pinch or Two of Ground Pistachios for Garnish (optional)
Throw all the ingredients (except the pistachios) in a blender and blitz them. Stop when you like the consistency. If you like your lassi thin rather than thick, you can add chilled water to it, little by little, until you arrive at a consistency you like. Blend it one last time and then serve immediately, topped off with ground pistachios (if you like them).
In some ways, Rajma is to North Indian cuisine what Macaroni and Cheese is to North American cuisine: it is ubiquitous and seen as a comforting food that reminds one of home. Rajma is also similar to Mac and Cheese in the sense that it is often made badly. And bad Rajma is especially like bad Mac and Cheese in that it’s often bad because its texture is all wrong.
Having said that, it takes a bit more time to make good Rajma than it does to make a decent Mac and Cheese. Moreover, and this might prove to be controversial, I think Rajma represents a more complex harmony of flavours than Mac and Cheese does.
As you can see, I love Rajma! And as it happens, I’ve recently put together a delicious Rajma recipe, which I am very excited about. If you’d like to give it a try, here’s what you will need:
A Pressure Cooker (if you don’t have one, you could just use a large saucepan)
A saucier pan or a saucepan
A Cutting Board
A Bowl and a Plate
2 Cups Red Kidney Beans, soaked for at least 7 hours in a lot of water
3 Cardamom Pods
1 Large Bay Leaf (or two small leaves)
1/2 Stick of Cinnamon
1 Tsp Cumin Seeds
1 Red Onion, finely diced
3 Large Cloves of Garlic, crushed
1 Inch Piece of Ginger, grated
4 Green Chillies, chopped coarsely
1 Tsp Cumin Powder
1 Tsp Coriander Powder
1-2 Tsp Garam Masala
1-3 Tsp Chilli Powder (adjust the amount of chilli to your preferred spice level. If you use 3 tsp (which I do) the Rajma will have a bit of a kick to it ;))
1/2 Tsp Turmeric Powder
Salt, to taste
2-3 Medium Tomatoes, chopped
3-4 Tbsp Oil or Ghee (I prefer ghee; here is my recipe, if you want to make it at home)
As much butter as you like 🙂
A Sprig of Coriander/Cilantro, optional
Note about Serving Size: This makes enough Rajma for 6 people if they’re eating modest portions or if it is served with something else, like a dal (lentil) or a vegetable or chicken based preparation (as it generally would be in, in India).
1. Drain the excess water out of the bowl/pan in which you soaked the beans. Add about a half cup of water to the beans and cook them in a pressure cooker, on medium-high heat, until the whistle of the cooker goes off about 4-5 times. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, place the beans in a large saucepan and cook them with several cups of water until they become soft and cooked through. You can figure out if the beans are properly cooked by squishing one between your finger (or between two spoons). If you’re able to press through the bean and reduce it to mush, the beans are done are ready to be used in the recipe.
2. Pour the oil into a saucier or saucepan. Place the pan on medium-high heat. Once the oil becomes sufficiently hot (you can test the oil temperature by adding a cumin seed to the oil and seeing if it begins to sizzle) add in the cumin seeds. Just as the seeds begin to pop, lower the heat to medium and add in the cardamom, cloves, bay leaf, and a stick of cinnamon. Toss these about in the oil for a bit, until you can smell their fragrance.
3. Increase the heat to medium-high again and add in the chopped onion and sauté it until it begins to brown.
4. Now, reduce the heat to medium again and add in the ginger, garlic, and chillies. Toss them about constantly, until the raw smell of the garlic dissipates.
5. Next, add the cumin, coriander, garam masala, and chilli powders to the pot, along with salt, and stir everything together. Let the masalas cook in the oil for a minute or two, before adding the chopped tomatoes to the pot. Stir well, cover the pot, and let the this tomato-onion-masala mixture cook on low-medium heat for about 8-10 minutes, checking on it and stirring as needed every few minutes. You will know the mixture is cooked enough once the oil starts to separate from the rest of the ingredients.
6. At this stage, I recommend fishing out the bay leaves, cardamom pods, cloves and cinnamon stick. This is so the finished product feels smooth and creamy, without little bits of crunchy spices ruining the overall mouth feel of the dish,
7. Finally, add the cooked Rajma to this mixture, along with a cup or two of water and loads of butter. Cover the pot and let the beans cook with the onion-tomato-masala mixture for about 4-6 hours, on low heat, stirring intermittently. This slow cooking will allow the flavours to intermingle and “mature”.
6. Serve the Rajma with rice or roti and yoghurt! (My current favourite way to eat it is with a Rumali roti.) You can garnish the Rajma with a sprig of fresh coriander/cilantro, if you like. Enjoy!
If you like Nutella, but find that it is too sweet and simultaneously neither quite hazelnutty nor chocolatey enough, then you know exactly how I feel. In my quest for a perfectly rich and nutty butter, I have tried various different brands, including Patchi and Neuhaus. None of them really hit the spot, unfortunately. The problem was their texture, their weak chocolate flavour, and the fact that I could taste only a hint of hazelnut flavour in them.
Then, it occurred to me, a few years ago: why not make my own butter? I’ve tried various versions of my own butter since then, but this recipe is now my favourite! This butter’s texture is rich and velvety and the flavour is a perfect balance of dark chocolate and the unmatched, gloriously nutty flavour of real, toasted hazelnuts. A quick note: the more you like the dark chocolate you use in this recipe, the better the butter will taste.
Here it is, poured over a slice of bread, looking so delightfully smooth and glossy!
If you want to try making some yourself, this is the equipment you will need:
A food processor or powerful blender (I use a Blendtec)
A baking tray
A tea towel
And here are the ingredients you will need:
35-45 g sugar (based on your taste) (I use castor sugar but if your processor/blender is not too powerful, I recommend using icing sugar) (you could also use maple or agave syrup, to taste)
172 g good quality dark chocolate, to taste (my favourite is Cotê d’or)
A pinch or two of salt.
2 tsp vanilla essence or hazelnut flavouring (optional)(I use this one).
1-2 tsp of hazelnut oil (optional)
1. Toast the hazelnuts at 350 F in a baking tray for about 15 minutes, until they turn light brown and fragrant, tossing them periodically.
2. After they’ve cooled, place them at the centre of a tea towel/kitchen towel. Wrap the nuts securely in the towel and then roll the wrapped up nuts on any hardish surface. This will help remove their skins. After you’ve rolled the nuts about for a bit, open up the towel, and pick out the skinned nuts. Repeat this step if there are still a lot of nuts with skins on them.
3. Toss the skinned nuts into a food processor or blender and grind them up until they turn into a smooth butter.
4. Melt the dark chocolate in a the microwave or over a bain-marie. If you have a powerful blender you can skip this step.
5. Throw in the melted chocolate, sugar, a pinch or two of salt (to taste), a teaspoon or two of vanilla essence or hazelnut flavouring, and a teaspoon or two of hazelnut oil.
6. Blend everything until it feels smooth enough to you, and there you have it! Your own homemade chocolate hazelnut butter!
My favourite way to eat it is on bread with some homemade peanut butter! Mmmmmm!
Right off the bat, I should clarify that I am not much a coffee drinker. When I do drink coffees though, I love flavoured, rich, creamy ones! So if you’re a coffee snob, this post isn’t really for you :p
If you’re still here, then you like coffees that sound, smell, and taste like dessert! And given my well-known love for Nutella, it’s only right that my first coffee post is about a Nutella latte.
Just look at those rich colours!
If you’d like to make one too, here’s what you need:
A shot of espresso brewed in a Nespresso, some other espresso machine, or a Moka pot
A shot of espresso
1/2 to 3/4 cup Milk
1-3 Tbsp Nutella
1. If you’re using a Moka pot, make up a shot of espresso in it. If you’re using an espresso machine, skip this step.
2. Froth up about a half cup of warm milk. (I use an Aeroccino milk frother and I highly recommend it!) Pour the foamy milk into a cup.
3. Smear your Nutella all over the bottom of a different, preferably wide-bottomed cup. Pour some warm milk into the cup and swirl it about until the Nutella dissolves.
4. Pour the Nutella milk into the cup with the frothed milk.
5. If you made the espresso using a Moka pot, pour the espresso into the cup with the milk.
6. If your using an espresso machine, on the other hand, place the cup with milk in the machine, and let the espresso flow into it.
When I first ate ceviche in a restaurant in San Francisco, I wasn’t particularly impressed. It tasted ok, but there was nothing about it that really spoke to me or got me excited. Then, we visited a friend of mine in Panama and everything changed! I had ceviche made fresh and on the spot by a street vendor, and I was actually amazed. It was beautiful in its simplicity.
I’ve tried ceviche in different cities since then, doing some research on where it’s supposed to be the best. I am now a committed ceviche lover; it’s my favourite raw fish dish!
Until recently, I’d never tried to make it, but my visit to Miami this spring inspired me! I came back to Toronto and found myself craving really good ceviche. The ceviche at Seven Lives (my favourite cafe in Toronto’s Kensington Market) is pretty good, but given how far away the cafe is from where I live, and given how frequent my cravings for ceviche were, combined with a sudden urge to try making something new, I decided to give throwing together my own ceviche a shot.
I read several articles and blogs, over an afternoon and then biked over to my neighbourhood fish shop, Beach Fish House (which is absolutely wonderful, by the way; they sell sustainably fished seafood and it’s always really fresh! (I also grabbed some lovely Peonies)).
Here is the result of all my reading:
You should try making it too! Here is a dish one can make quickly and easily, and it’s almost guaranteed to taste good as long as you use good quality ingredients! Of course, the selection of ingredients and the proportion of the ingredients is important too. Overall though, it’s a relatively simple dish to put together.
So go for it!
What follows is a recipe for a pretty basic ceviche. Once you are comfortable with the dish, you can play around with it by adding or substituting other fish and/or by adding various fruit and other flavours to it (like mango, or watermelon, or orange juice!).
Two small notes though:
Size and Shape of the Fish: The shape and size of the fish pieces you use in the ceviche, along with the amount of time you leave the fish in the lime juice, will determine the texture of the fish. This is because it is the acidity of the lime/lemon juice that “cooks”, breaks down, or softens the flesh of the fish. I like to cut the fish into cubes to ensure more even cooking (as the lime juice “cooks” the fish from the outside. You can cut the fish into whatever sized cube you like, however, the smaller the cube the faster the fish will “cook” in the lime juice. I find it’s easier to control the process so that I can stop the “cooking” process at the right time, if the cubes are a little larger.
Time: As for the time, for tuna, I like to leave the fish in the lime juice for any where between 12-15 minutes. The acidity of the lime or lemon juice one uses can vary. So around 12 minutes in, I will try out a piece of fish and see if I like it. Equipment
One big bowl
A good quality knife for the raw fish
A cutting board
A citrus juicer (optional) Ingredients:
One red onion
A small bunch of cilantro/coriander (adjust to taste, I use about 1/3 cup)
1-2 jalapeños, maya habenero peppers, or Thai green chillies
1/2 cup lime/lemon juice
1 pound sushi grade tuna (make sure the fish is fresh and handle it safely. Carry it on ice from the store is possivle and place it in the fridge over ice as soon as you get home)
1. Dice the red onion up evenly and place it in the big bowl.
2. Chop the cilantro/coriander and green chillies up and add them to the bowl, as well.
3. Juice the lime/lemon and add it to the bowl, tossing all the ingredients together.
4. Cut the tuna into small cubes about a centimetre sized. (See note above about size and shape of the fish).
5. Toss the fish into the bowl with the rest of the ingredients and mix them together gently.
6. Salt if you like.
7. Set the bowl aside and wait for anywhere between 12-15 minutes.
8. Enjoy your ceviche with some Tortilla chips (preferably homemade !).
I made a little tortilla, roasted it until it was crisp, and then placed the ceviche on it 🙂 (I will write a separate post about how to make tortillas soon! In the meantime, you can go here.
I just wrote a post about my favourite quick snack: paneer bhurji rolls. As a companion post, I thought it would make sense to write about how to make paneer at home. It’s actually very easy and absolutely worth it, given how amazing fresh paneer tastes!
All you need is:
2 litres whole milk
1/4 to 1/2 cup lemon juice (you could also use lime juice)
A cheese cloth
A large saucepan
Pour the milk into the saucepan and bring it to simmer on medium heat (to about 200 F). Keep scraping the bottom of the pan so that the milk at the bottom doesn’t burn.
Take the pan off the heat.
Add the lime juice to the milk, place the lid on the pan and leave it be for about 10 minutes.
Check on the milk. It should have “broken” with the solids separated from the whey. If this has not happened. Add some more lime juice.
Strain the “broken” milk through a colander lined with a cheese cloth.
Then try and squeeze as much of the whey out as you can. I like to tie the ends of the cheese cloth to the top of the tap over my kitchen sink (very securely) so that gravity does the work for me and the whey just drips down slowly.
Once most of the whey is out, place the paneer (still wrapped in cheese cloth) on a plate. Place a second plate on top of the paneer. Then place some heavy books on top of the plate. I like to also place some paper towels on the lower plate around the paneer to soak up the extra whey.
In about 30 minutes, the paneer should have hardened into a nice block that you can now use 🙂
The one thing I hate about busy days is that one doesn’t get to sit down and properly enjoy one’s lunch. I hate rushed meals, you see. So on days when I am swamped, I just eat cookies or brownies for lunch and make up for it with two delicious dinners when I get home.
I know, however, that this isn’t the healthiest way to go about things. And sometimes, I miss being able to eat something spicy and not-sweet for lunch (followed by a brownie, of course). That’s where this roll comes in.
It’s inspired by the concept of a Kathi roll and quite easy to assemble. So if you make the bhurji the night before, it becomes an easy snack to put together for lunch on a busy day. And you can eat easily while you work on something without getting your hands all messy 🙂
If you want to try making it, here’s what you will need:
1/2 pound paneer (for instructions on how to make it, go here; you could also buy some at Indian stores, but freshly made homemade paneer really is several orders of magnitude better than the store bought kind)
2-5 tablespoons of vegetable or sunflower oil or ghee (go here for my recipe)
1 medium sized onion (ideally red; diced)
2 cloves of garlic (crushed)(optional)
2 green chillies (ideally, the slender, thai ones) or 1 habanero (chopped);
3 medium-sized vine ripened tomatoes (you can use more tomatoes if you like your bhurji a little more tangy and sweet) (diced)
Salt to taste
1-3 teaspoon red chilli powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 lime or lemon
Rotis (for more on how to make rotis, go here; you could also use tortillas or buy pre-made rotis at an Indian store, but I wouldn’t recommend it).
Take the Paneer and chop it up into little small pieces. You can also process it in a food processor until it is broken up into fairly small chunks (not larger than 1/2 inch cubes).
Add the oil/ghee to a frying pan. Heat the pan at medium-high heat.
Once the oil seems hot (test it with one small onion piece) throw in the diced onions and sauté them until they are slightly browned.
Throw in the green chilli and sauté it as well. Reduce the heat to medium.
Add the tomatoes and toss them about in the pan.
Add the salt and all the masalas (red chilli, coriander, cumin, garam masala, and turmeric powders). Toss the contents of the pan until the spices are well-distributed.
Place a lid on the frying pan and let the tomato-onion-spice mixture cook for a few minutes, until the oil separates from the mixture (stirring intermittently).
Toss in the paneer chunks and stir well, breaking up the paneer in the pan even more as you stir.
Cook until the paneer looks well cooked but still moist. You can taste it after a few minutes and decide whether or not you want it cooked some more.
Take the pan off the heat. Squeeze lime juice on the paneer bhurji, to taste. It’ll add a bit of tartness to it that I love!
Place a roti or tortilla on a plate. Spoon the bhurji into the centre of the roti.
Roll the roti up, so that it looks like a burrito.
Your snack/portable lunch is ready 🙂 I like eating it with yoghurt (I am a yoghurt fiend!)