Monday, August 18, 2014

A lil Persian tale

Today is the Persian New Year so Navroz Mubaarak.

As I sit in office reading up about all sorts of Parsi delicacies being made and had on my FB timeline while my lunch of bhindi and roti awaits I end up writing this post to mitigate my food pangs somewhat. There is no other way to keep away from it all you see.

The kids at the flag hoisting earlier in the day

This independence day we visited a small little restaurant in the quaint streets on Hauz Khas village a place which holds a lot of happy memories for us.

We planned an evening with friends whose daughter is part of all family portraits my 3 year old draws. So the six of us set out for the Hauz Khas village from our far away village of Dwarka. The idea was to explore the neighboring Deer park and then go on to Faarsi which was our target for the evening.

The girls were super excited and created quite a commotion at the back of the Scorpio while we adults tried to have snatches of conversation between telling them to pipe down.

Welcome to Hauz Khas Village

Hauz Khas village has become the favorite haunt of the foodie as well as the party animal of South Delhi. With restaurants, pubs and more in every crook and niche. With a huge parking space the place is easily reached by Car or you can take the metro till the Green park Metro station and hop on an auto from there.

could have been so beautiful algae filled lake - shame on you DDA
Post parking we walked into the Deer Park which brought back many childhood memories of early morning walks, feeding the deer and squealing at the rabbits. It's so sad to see such gorgeous places not being attended to well. So well located and yet so ignored by the powers that be. A little care and attention could turn this place into such a delight and not to mention a non-mall option for Delhiwallahs to hang out at.

After an hour long walk in the park and checking out the lake we were prepped well for dinner and snaking through the narrow streets of the Village landed in front of Faarsi.

the pretty entry

Done up in the blue and jaali work which so connotes all things Persian, Faarsi turned out to be a small eatery with a large menu. Specializing in Persian, Turkish and Lebanese cuisine Faarsi is essentially a takeaway and delivery joint with a few seats thrown in for those who want to catch a quick satisfying bite or two.

the sitting area

Having had stints in the middle east both our friend and the partner oohed and aahed through the menu and finally chose what to order while we the women folks tried to get the girls to settle down.

Predictably enough we started with a mezze platter which apart from the customary salad, kabab, kibbeh and pita bread came accompanied with so many delicious dips that quite honestly I would have been happy with just the dips and some pita bread to go with it. A hummus, baba ganoush, labneh, toum, tabbouleh  and more whose names I forget were totally the rockstars of our meal.

The to-die-for dips 

The mezze platter - we gorged on three of these
We however didnt stop at that but continued on to shish taouk kebabs and also shawarmas. Both these dishes are popular across Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Israel with minor variants.

The Shish taouk served on pita bread with a side of salad, hummus and pickled veggies

The shish taouk kebabs werent really as great as we had expected them to be for being used to portions in the middle east the ones here frankly felt inadequate nor was the chicken shawarma the partner had as fulfilling though my lamb shawarma was quite satisfying.
My Lamb Shawarma 
The other lady in the group was a vegetarian and her platter had cheese samosas, paneer & veg cigar rolls, falafel and the dips and bread.

The Veg Platter - the vegetarians can survive too ;)

Overall we had a hearty meal at a pretty reasonable cost and came away satisfied and with a doggie bag as well for we had not been able to finish all that we had enthusiastically ordered. The only sadness they didnt pack us the dips :(

Though we had hoped to we never quite made it to having the baklava the unique sweet dish that most of middle east swears by. It makes another trip essential I guess.

Baklava - till the next time

Some pictures have been taken from the official Faarsi site while all others are self clicked.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Friendship and its many flavors

Image from Google

"Growing up we had one TV channel DD and double censorship reigned. One imposed on the content by govt. the other on viewing hours by parents. Our real entertainment was friends. Whether playing games, munching on snacks made by one of the moms or retelling pranks played or books read. Friends were what kept us involved, engaged and happy. We didn't know of friendship day then, friends were everyday. 
Now with multiple channels of entertainment and engagement I guess we need a special day to remember our friends as well. So that's how I have spend my hours today reliving memories of friends the very many I met at various points in time. Some I am in touch with some sadly not. Hope to correct that someday."

Was my FB post on the occasion of Friendship day and many friends remembered the simpler, saner times we lived in with a tinge of nostalgia. 

And I thought I was done with the celebration of this occasion created I suspect by some greeting card companies and perpetuated by media.

However it was not to be and a circular from the daughter's school informed me that they would be celebrating "Friendship Day' at school on the 6th. She was to take along chhole puri and juice as her contribution. 
So I set a reminder on the phone to myself and last evening soaked the kabuli channa. Having done that I thought well if she is going to be celebrating the day at school then why shouldnt I do the same at work as well?

A colleague at work had asked me for a cake sometime back so I thought why not bake one and take it to work as well?

I decided to do an Irish cream cake since after all I was baking for adults.
Also I have had a Bailey's Irish Cream gifted by a friend for sometime it seemed appropriate for the occasion so two cakes got baked - one for home and one for work. My 3 year old girl is super excited about whisking and really is a big help. For this cake too most of the whisking was done by her. 

I poured some chocolate syrup on top....and a few granules of sugar

Since I baked the cake first let me give you the recipe of the cake first and then we shall come to the Chhole.

Bailey's Irish Cream Cake - for adults ;)

1/2 cup butter - since we mostly have butter in solid form deciding on a cup measure could be difficult melt it by keeping at room temperature. I use regular Amul butter and not white butter. If you use white butter add a pinch of salt. Dont if using Amul/ Mother Dairy etc. they come with added salt anyways.
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs - incase you wish to make an eggless one substitute with 1/2 cup curd for each egg whisk the curd with a pinch of Baking soda till smooth 
3 tsp instant coffee - I used Nescafe
1 tsp Vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour/ maida
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup Bailey Irish Cream
2 Tbsp milk 
1 Tbsp chocolate chips

  1. Sieve flour and baking powder and keep aside 
  2. Mix butter and sugar and whisk well. Add the eggs one at a time and continue to whisk
  3. Add Vanilla extract, instant coffee and irish cream and whisk again
  4. Add the flour mix a tbsp at a time to the mixture and keep whisking rigorously - remember the best thing you can do to your cake is to whisk it well
  5. Add the milk at this stage to get the right consistency - whisk some more
  6. Pre-heat the Oven at 185 degree C for 5 minutes
  7. Coat the baking tray with a lil olive oil and dust some flour 
  8. Pour batter into baking tray, sprinkle some coffee powder and add the chocolate chips on top
  9. Bake for 30 minutes at 185 degree C - I use the convection mode of my microwave for this. Since my setting is for 185 degree C I bake for 30 minutes in case your is higher or lower please adjust time accordingly.
  10. once done let the cake sit in the oven for sometime so that it can absorb the ambient heat
  11. take it out after 15 minutes and let it cool on a rack 
Serve as is or with a bit of chocolate syrup or Irish cream added. 

Enjoy :)

Now for the Chhole Do Piyaaza

250 gms kabuli chana
4 onions chopped
1 Tbsp garlic
2 tsp garam masala - I use the bengali version which has just clove, green cardamom and cinnamon
2 Tbsp ginger powder
1 tsp kashmiri lal mirch
1 tbsp black pepper powder
1/2 tbsp amchur (dry mango powder you can substitute with tamarind juice as well)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp coriander powder
2 Tbsp tomato puree
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp sabut jeera
a pinch of Hing 

salt to taste
2-3 bay leaves
Green chillies and coriander for decor

  1. Soak chana over night
  2. Pressure cook the soaked chana with 2 chopped onions (keep the rest of the onion for later), garlic, salt and 1 tsp Garam masala. Once you get a whistle lower the flame and let it cook for atleast fifteen minutes or till the chana is cooked well
  3. In a kadhai heat the oil add the hing, bay leaves, Jeera and let it splutter - add the remaining onion and let it cook till onions turn translucent
  4. Add turmeric powder, Kashmiri lal mirch, black pepper, puree, coriander powder, ginger powder and amchur and a lil bit of salt - mix everything well and let the mix start releasing water
  5. Fry the mix for 2  minutes more sprinkling lil water to ensure it doesnt burn from time to time
  6. Add the boiled chana and give it a good mix
  7. Let it all simmer for five minutes 
Serve with a garnish of green chillies and coriander leaves with puri, paratha, naan or even plain rice with some salad on the side.