Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Pineapple and coconut salsa - Indian Inspired

Most times it's easy to plan the main course, but it's hard to plan starters that are delicious and won't fill you up. I love starters and if I had my way, I would skip the main course and survive on starters and desserts.

Spicy, tangy, sweet and flavorful. I love this Indian inspired salsa as a topping for burgers, as a side or on papad.



This post was written under pineapple threat. Literally! A few weeks months back I had a friend of mine over for lunch and I made this salsa and served it with papad - my friend loved it. Few weeks down the line I get a call from her,  she complaint that she spent an hour on the blog and did not find it, "what category have you put it in". It's not on the blog was my prompt reply, I gave her the recipe and she asked me to blog it (she did not want to write down the recipe - my case that she's lazy). Last week she came and gifted me a pineapple and told me to "blog it".

She also called me lazy and stuck up, as I thought this was a silly recipe to post....well, we will discuss the lazy & stuck up part in another post. For now here is a way to earn a pineapple.

This is  a great starter to serve for parties and I have seen it often becomes a topic of discussion. It's tastier with tinned pineapple, but when you have fresh - I love to use fresh.
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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Spicy cream cheese salsa dip

How to make a no-cook, quick dip. Creamy n' spicy. Absolutely delicious. Great for a movie or game night.



Important stuff 

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One more of the google products retires into an e-fossil. So if you still want to follow me - you can do that via email, social media or an e-reader or a goggle account. There are lots of ways to keep in touch ...if you are on blogger using friend-connect do post the same message for your readers. 

And now back to the mundane....

Teen is in love with dips, if she could have it her way she can survive on cheese (her first second love, first being chocolate) and dips...and if it is a dip made from cheese ohhh well...the boring veggies are 'the best thing ever'. The Mr on the other hand is quite picky about dips...all my friends love my roasted pepper dip but he will eat it only if there is nothing else.

Teen was watching tele and enjoying the dip and the Mr walks in, peers into her plate - she hands him a carrot dipped.. I was waiting for, "do you have anything else..." on the contrary what I hear, " oh wow, how come she gets this, can I have some too " Well, she gets it because she laps up my dips and does not insult it...I take my dips seriously you know. lol !!

A lot of carrots and celery and crackers were consumed. I hope this love story  with dips is here to stay, both of them are eating their veggies. Both claim they are not picky eaters...ahem! They eat alright, but with drama and a lot of feed back. I don't mind indulging them...after all they are my target audience ;)

On another note, did my first food video. I can't believe I did it. Well, it was Prerna from Indian Simmer, who started the initiative. Thanks so much..Prerna, loved making it. But, the need patience for that, I swear, I would have killed myself. Hope you guys like it. No one was injured in making of this video.. ;)

Here it is....
Let me know if you guys like it :)

I think I could have made it even shorter, but I guess you can spare 2 minutes and 45 seconds from your day to watch this :)) next time - under 2 min for an easy recipe like this one.

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Thursday, January 21, 2016

Holige/Obbattu/Puran Poli - A traditional Indian Dessert

Holige or Bele obbattu or puran poli. Flaky crust and melt in the mouth filling, always served with a dollop of ghee. The caramelized jaggery with lentil gives it it's earthy aroma that makes the dessert.

I do believe the texture of obbattu is slightly different for puran poli - puran poli has a dryer and softer texture, obbattu is more flaky.


This is going to be one long post. If you don't have a cup of coffee with you...this is the moment.

 I admire traditional recipes. Going through my blog last week I realized that even though I cook traditional meals, I don't post as much - working on it in 2016. We do live a fast pace life where we are all running against  time and we are almost always running to keep up. Back in summer the only thing that would take my mind of my to-do list was long nature walks...just made me step back and live in the moment. That was exactly how I felt yesterday, cooking in my kitchen. I was transported back to my childhood, literally lost track of time and for once I was not running. Let's take a step back from easy heat n eat meals to wholesome traditional recipes. It's not just for the palette...wish I can put it into words.

A couple of days ago, Usha, my friend, sent me a pic of banana leaves....well as she expected I called her up to ask her all about it.. Thankfully, she had bought some for me, I don't know how the conversation progressed but we decided to meet up to make some obbattu. It's not that you cannot make it with out banana leaves...but traditionally it is made using it and served in it as well.

We had a blast to say the least, the whole cooking process we were almost on mute and working with our hands, lips  sealed.... our hands kept working and once in a while we exchanged glances with a nod of approval. It's only when the camera came out and I was taking pictures that we were giggling like school girls...I do pretty crazy things while shooting.  I must have shocked or maybe impressed  Usha with my calisthenics skills, standing on tables, almost hanging of the kitchen lamp, getting my sock stuck to the step-stool, just to name a few.

I think I loved the way the obbattu turned out, flakey thin crust and soft and melt in the mouth filling, loved the flaky layers. It's a perfect recipe for a special occasion, worth every ounce of effort. If you do not have 2-3 hours to make this, do not venture into it.

Thanks Usha for all the help.

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Sunday, January 17, 2016

How to capture steam in food photography : DIY

How to create a storm in a tea cup ? 


This is my second post on how to capture steam in food photography. For the beginner post click here. 

Here it is for everyone who requested a second tutorial...

Have you ever as a child, added paint between a sheet of folded paper and rubbed it. Then opened it to find interesting patterns...capturing steam is a lot like that. You know you will get a beautiful pattern of steam, but you will not know what the pattern will look like.

In the beginner post I covered the peripheral aspect, more about the set up.

For a person who has worked with steam and has been successful, but wants to add more drama and movement. Here is how.

Do away with the tripod. Tripod was a good idea for a beginner, so you can press continues shutter ( burst mode), so you do not have to re-heat the warm beverage and can take multiple shots, while the steam does its work. We are going to get more flexible and creative.

Having gotten a bit of experience, it might be a more rewarding exercise to have freedom to move 360degrees, so you can get the best possible steam you can.

Camera setting : there is NO magic setting for steam. I have images in all ranges of shutter and aperture settings. Keep a deeper (sharp) DOF*, you do not want the steam to melt into the background.  However, if you want a soft dreamy look, don't listen to me.  However, either ways I highly recommend to keep the ISO to the minimum you can. Steam is nothing but vapor and you do  not want it to merge with noise due to high ISO to dilute the nice crispness you could achieve with a low ISO. Do not underexpose the shot, it will not capture a lot of small details (light steam). Adjust a good exposure with the available light.

Background : Have a dark background, either in the form of a surface or prop, or  a dark shadow. To capture steam in a white background is to try and look for a black cat in a dark room. (literally - not in reference to metaphysics or philosophy)

Light: nice and bright light, for a good exposure. Even though you may have a dark background, you still need good light to capture a white steam.  Backlight and side light: after years of capturing steam, that's probably one of the best directions to get the storm in a tea cup.

Framing : top down shots do not work that well. 45 degrees is ok, but for good drama  go eye level - to capture the nice dramatic vertical movement. Portrait orientation helps.

Props : when you are using a coffee mug or tea cup, it's better to have a narrow mouth. So the heat loss is reduce and you can have steam coming for a longer time - you seem to get more swirls too.

Most important : use your eye, before you start shooting, place the warm beverage in the setup and walk around it - 360 degrees, to see which angle the steam is most visible. The camera will only capture what your eyes can see.

Finally take a lot of extra shots, sometimes you get beautiful swirls or long dancing shapes ...even hearts.

I hope I have not missed anything. If I have I will add to it.

*What is sharp DOF?


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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Cheesy baked sweet potatoes

Spicy cheesy baked sweet potatoes


Sweet Potatoes remind me of my days in hostel. It was almost two decades ago  (feel like an antique) when I was doing my degree in marketing, one of the cheapest foods available was roasted sweet potatoes with chaat masala and dash of lime.

Chaat masala reminds me of amchur and a funny story - real story.

Last week I went to the nearest Indian grocery store, the store has changed owners, so it has this new guy as the owner. ( local friends, you know which store I am talking about). I had 3 things on my list, but then I always end up buying 5 times more than what's on my list, that's another post.

I was looking for amchur in the spice aisle and out of no where he (owner of the store) crept up on me speaking his native language in fluent loquacious. I politely reminded him in hindi that I am not from his native town...he gave me a sympathetic grin and asked me how he could help me. I was the lesser mortal, first I was not bi-lingual like him and second I was searching his store. "Amchur" was my sheepish response, I was almost apologetic about my existence, let alone have the audacity to buy amchur. He looked around a bit and.... his next question in a heavy native accent, "Why do you need it?" - almost accusingly. I almost felt interrogated and responded in a feeble tone, for choley, sabji, chaat-masala, I rattled a few other names. He disappears into aisles of lentils, rice....

I saw him walk towards me with 2 masala boxes, I was relieved that he found it, they must have changed the place after the new ownership, I though to myself.  He walked closer, narrowed his eyes, raised his left brow...."see" ...all I saw was choley masala and chaat- masala. "Amchur" I said loudly. " I know that" was his instant response, followed by  "read the ingredients, it has amchur in it, why you need amchur, when it is in it". I was sooo amused....

Story 2

Yesterday I was buying some fruits and veggies. I saw dragon fruit, usually it is not as fresh...this crop was gorgeous. I thought, I could take a few photos and got a few. When I was at the casher, I asked her to bag it separately, obviously I did not want it to me injured. She asked me why....I told her that I wanted to photography it. She narrowed her eyes ( same eye narrowing, but different store) and laughed ...."just google it, you will get pages and pages of photos....."

Must be my face, maybe, I look like a moron !! Not everyone found my story funny, teen rolled here eyes and said," mom, you should have said something"

Back to the recipe, teen loves cheese, that kid can live on cheese, swim in cheese ...just like her grandpa ( my father-in-law). They have a lot in common and cheese absolutely stands out. They will never refuse cheese in any form, any time of the day....

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Monday, January 11, 2016

Indian Masala Dubba -1

Indian Spice Box- You cannot cook if you do not know your spices, an insight into the spice world.
Spices, Spices uses, spices description, food photography


My friend Dolphia, Deeba and me  were talking about spices and how we love to shoot spices. There is something so sensual about spices. Dol suggested we do a post on spices, why one? Let's do a series on spices... 3 spices a month - covering about 36 spices for the year. So The Indian masala dubba was born - this is our project for 2016. 

Recipes will be optional, so some posts will have recipes, others maybe not. The spices are not picked in any particular order. 

This month we bring you...

Nagella Sativa
Ajowan Caraway 

The first image has an interesting story. It was a dark cloudy kind of day, so I placed the nigella on the floor, by the patio door, for more light  and was taking pictures. On the dinning table, just next to the door, I had kept the other spices. Behind me was a large pot of money-plant. I was about to knock over the plant, to save it I held on to a flimsy shelf on the dinning table (was planing to use it as a prop) the shelf collapsed on the spice jars....lucky none of the glass jars broke...instead I had a beautiful mess. I was so mad with myself and looked up to see ...such a pretty sight. Straightened out the spoons a bit...and there you go ! 

Since I am a spice geek - I have done a short book on spices on Steller. Check it out 

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