Desi Ishtyle Quenchers!

Yes, we know, we’ve taken quite a hiatus from our blog posting, and we apologize (we do welcome brickbats in our inbox just in case you feel like, er, venting). Anyway, we’re back and we promise you the blog posts will remain just as awesome as they used to be 😀

Summer is officially here and the sun is not being friendly to Bangalore at all this summer. The scorching heat, bad heat waves and humid weather is tiring us out way too quickly and making us uber thirsty. While we never run out of a stash of our chilled beers, we decided to put together a list of some great thirst quenchers for the season desi style.

Lassi:

You couldn’t have been living in India without being familiar with this wonderful drink. Traditional Lassi is a savoury drink sometimes flavoured with ground roasted cumin while sweet Lassi on the other hand is blended with sugar or fruits instead of spices. Enter any Punjabi household and watch how the refills of your Lassi never stop as you wolf down the Makki di rotis. (for the summer, we suggest a refreshing Mango Lassi, a recipe of which could be found here)

 

Kokum Sherbet: 

Kokum Sherbet is synonymous with Indian coastal cuisine and is an extremely popular drink in Mangalore and Konkan regions of Maharashtra and Goa as well. This drink is made from Kokum extract, sugar, and a hint of Indian spices and is extremely refreshing. Kokum Sherbet is an immediate acidity reliever, and is also popularly used in cocktails in Goa to give your drink that kick. Click here for a refreshingly easy recipe of Kokum Sherbet.

 

Aam Ka Panna:

A sip of this fresh, tangy drink really marks the beginning of summer. This sweet, sour and spicy drink is largely consumed in Northern parts of India and renowned for its heat resistant properties. It’s a simple drink made from raw, green mangoes, blended with peppercorns, sugar and a dash of spices to bring that zing into this drink. Beat the heat this summer by storing up the Panna in jugs in your refrigerator. Find an easy recipe here.

 

Nannari: 

This lesser known yet delicious drink comes from the herb ‘Sarasaparilla’, a wonder herb, otherwise known as Nannari. The root of Nannari helps in curing many infections and regular intake of it keeps the body cool, especially during summers. The Nannari syrup is simply made of ground Nannari root, water, sugar and lime juice. This syrup is then used for making that cool Nannari Sherbet recipe. Find the recipe here.

 

Jigarthanda:

Jil jil Jigarthanda is an extremely popular summer drink having originated in Madurai. Jigarthanda literally means cooling the heat, and the ‘Jil Jil’ means ‘Cool Cool’ denoting that the drink cools your body. This is an extremely rich drink and comprises of cold milk, malai, ice cream,  Nannari syrup and Agar Agar (China grass) or Badam pisin (now used in most shops). It is extremely popular in Madurai as it is vastly available in road-side pull ins and small shops. Get a fun recipe here.

 

So those are our favourite desi coolers for the summers. How are you beating the heat? Leave your comments below, and keep Zoinking! 🙂

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Oh, Pancakes!

Pancakes are one of our breakfast foods at Zoink! (well, there are plenty in that list). We love those thick, fluffy pancakes drizzled with plenty of maple syrup that simply makes the pancake melt in your mouth! Mmmmm. Fkgkgkhl. Sorry. Drool on the keyboard. Had to clean. Ah, yes. As we were saying. Pancakes.

Today is February 27, and the Pancake Week has officially come to an end today. Just for you to pancake lovers (and our team), we decided to dedicate this post to the pure awesomeness of pancakes. Yeah, we know. You’ve been waiting for one too.

Extra Maple Syprup for us, please!

So what is a pancake? (lame question, we know; but we wanted the technical answer). A pancake is a thin, flat, round cake prepared from a batter, and cooked on a hot griddle or frying pan. Most pancakes are quick breads; some use a yeast-raised or fermented batter. Most pancakes are cooked one side on a griddle and flipped partway through to cook the other side. Depending on the region, pancakes may be served at any time, with a variety of toppings or fillings including jam, chocolate chips, fruit, syrup or meat. And we just prefer plenty of whipped cream and maple syrup, thank you very much.

The pancake’s shape and structure varies worldwide. There are numerous variations of them throughout Europe. In Germany, pancakes can be made from potatoes. A crêpe is a Breton variety of thin pancake cooked on one or both sides in a special crepe pan to achieve a network of fine bubbles often compared to lace – a savory variety made from buckwheat is usually known as a galette.

So that’s enough history. Pancakes still remain our favourite. And it was (and still is) a luxury to many of us, considering the effort that goes into it. Mums prefer offering pancakes to their kids only when they aim to reward them or when it’s their birthday. Sigh. We tried our hand in the kitchen – flipped the pancakes right outside the pan. Double sigh.

Well, we stumbled upon this video on how to make those sinful pancakes. The painful flipping part is skipped here and they show how easy it is to just toss it the other side when it is evenly browned. That’s the trick apparently. So while we’re off to try this, we suggest you too, and let us know how it goes.

Happy Cooking! 🙂

Know Your Lentils!

Being based in India, lentils are quite the staple for us. And not just that, it’s also a great comfort food bringing back fond memories for us where our Mums used to chase us to feed us Daal-Chawal. So once we did move away from the comfort of our homes, we all crave for that yummy Dal, but for the life of us can’t figure out what Daal is even used in the first place. We had one of our team members in the supermarket once calling her mother and asking, “Ma, what Dal do you use to make that Dal at home?” Yeah, true story.

Hence, this is a simple guide for the few kinds of Dals you have and will come across your life, and what you should do with them.

Moong Dal

1. Moong Dal: 

India’s signature vegetarian dish, the Dal Fry, ordered fondly by North Indians while living in South India and the ‘perfect’ vegetarian gravy is made by this beautiful yellow Dal. These are actually mung beans that have been skinned and split, so that they’re flat, yellow, and quick-cooking. They can also be fried and make for unhealthy yet delicious snacks that finish quickly in the house. Yes, this is the dal you use to make that dal at home.

Toor Dal

2. Toor Dal:

This is the dal which most South Indians would you be familiar with, as it is the main ingredient that goes into the much loved Sambhar. Whole toor lentils are yellow with tan jackets, but they’re usually sold skinned and split.  They have a mild, nutty flavor, and they’re often cooked as a side dish or ground into flour.  They’re sometimes sold with an oily coating, which you should rinse off.  They are also known as Pigeon Peas to the rest of the world.

3. Urad Dal

Urad Dal

Black Dal/Kali Dal, again very popular in both North and South India, and absolutely delicious when cooked right. These lentil-like beans have black skins covering creamy white interiors.  Whole urad dal derive their strong, earthy flavor from the black skins and are often used in curries.  Split urad dal retain the skins and also have a strong flavor.  You would use this dal to make your favourite Dal Makhani. This dal also goes into making those yummy Idlis and Dosas.

Channa Dal

4. Channa Dal:

Another variation of the Dal curries, the Channa Dal often has a nuttier flavour to it. With their sweet and nutty flavor, these are the most popular dal in India.  They’re made from splitting a small relative of the chickpea in half.  They’re a dull yellow and are renowned for causing flatulence (erm…), which Indians try to counter by adding asafoetida to the dish (yay!).

 

5. Rajma: 

Rajma

Ok, so this is not considered a lentil per se and are known to the world as red kidney beans, but this staple is considered Rajma dal in India. The red bean is not of Indian origin and was brought to the Indian subcontinent from Mexico. They are a good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber, and also slow the rise in blood sugar after a meal, help memory, provide antioxidant effects, give you energy, and provide fat-free high quality protein. See? Tasty is good for your health too! 😛

Before we sign off, we wanted to share the recipe of an awesome Dal Makhani dish that will make you lick your plates clean! 🙂

Dal Makhani

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup whole black lentils and a handful of dried red kidney beans, soaked overnight

    Zoinkalicious! Dal Makhani

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium-sized tomato, finely chopped
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • Fresh coriander leaves, chopped for garnish
  • Water, as needed
  • Salt, to taste
Method:

1. Heat oil in a pressure cooker and saute onions till lightly browned. Stir in salt, chilli powder, ginger-garlic paste, and tomato paste and fry for a few seconds.

2. Add in the chopped tomatoes and cook for a few minutes to combine well. Add lentils and beans, and enough water to cover them. Pressure cook for 15-20 minutes till lentils are soft and done. Stir in milk and let it come to a boil.

3. In a separate pan, make a tempering by heating butter and whole garlic cloves slit in the middle. Stir the tempering into the lentils and garnish with fresh coriander leaves.

4. Serve warm with soft, fluffy Naans.

 

Book of the Month: Like Water for Chocolate

Must read for food lovers.

Recipe books are not thrilling for the typical reader and story books are not thrilling for cooks. But when a love story is poured into a recipe book, you have a combination that is arousing to the senses like few other books would ever do.

Laura Esquivel gives you a story of a woman in love and whose only outlet for expression – passion, agony, ecstasy that is being in love- is through food. The title ‘Like water to chocolate’ refers to the Spanish phrase which alludes to the boiling point of extreme emotions like anger, passion and sexuality.

Love and Food.. the two essentials!

 

 

We all have our moments when we reached out to food to express. Sometimes it’s eating that tub of ice cream or a bar of chocolate when you had the most horrible day. Or baking a cake because you can’t contain the excitement or just want to try something new. Or missing Amma’s mango chutney she makes whenever we fall sick. Or eating ginger cookies and getting nostalgic about the ones that grandma used to make 🙂 And just like food is universal, so is love. We’ve had our crushes, fallen in love, got bruised, picked up the pieces and for some lucky people, had their happy endings.

Which is why when the combination is put forth, the result is something which is entirely relatable and yet, Laura’s added her own secret ingredient which makes it equally elusive and magical.

The book is told in 12 parts, one for each month of the year and each starts with a recipe. When we start reading , it seems more like recipe book which incidently has a story woven in. But slowly and steadily, keeping the kitchen and cooking as the central point, she builds her characters and the complexities between them. The main point of the story revolves around Tita and Pedro who are unable to come together because of social customs and traditions. It is Tita’s joy,frustration,anger which gives fruit to marvelous culinary delights and recipes.

One of the things we loved about the book was the revelation of ingredients- the various permutation and  combinations which we had not though of before. One of the key turning points in the book revolve around quail in rose petal sauce.  Rose?! Who would have thought of adding roses to meat? Then there are the culinary secrets, like how to make the most perfect cup of hot chocolate! How are we not supposed to love such a book?

It’s hard to believe that this is Laura Esquivel’s first book because she displays a wonderful sense of balance. Sometimes she overwhelms you with recipes, the descriptions of it’s preparation and we are lost, mesmerised by the scents that’s arising from the stove.

Then just as suddenly we are swept away in emotions and drama of the story. More over the language is highly reminiscent of Marquez’s “One hundred years of solitude”  since it’s written in ‘magical realism‘. It’s a work of a wonderfully talented writer who knows her food.

All in all, whether you are someone who loves to read or just someone who loves food and cooking then this is a book that you have to get hold of.

Ps: Do let us know what you thought about the book. Or if you try one of the recipes! 🙂

The Joys of Comfort Food!

You know when you have those bad days and you feel Murphy is stalking you and you really feel like banging your head somewhere? Happens to us too. Imagine after that awful day, you seat yourself amidst the warm interiors of your home and bite into some wholesome goodness of food that brings back sweet childhood memories and takes you to your ‘happy place’. Your happy place. And this Zoink! post is going to be just about that – truly loved comfort food.

With everyone being busy to finish work by year-end deadlines, targets to be met, plenty of gifts to be bought and lots of crazy family togethers to attend, we figured that a reminder on the simple comfort food you like will put the cheer right back in you this holiday!

P.S. These foods are in a random order, so there is no ranking here.

Yummy Parathas!

1. Parathas:

This love affair began for us when we were children and volunteered for child labour in the kitchen and happily flattened out those dough balls (while we stole some to make our own dough models). Delicious Parathas stuffed with onion/potatoes/cauliflower/fenugreek topped with that blob of ghee make us very happy, even now.

Bless your soul, Maggi Noodles!

2.  Maggi:

Nothing speaks comfort food to Indians than hot and delicious Maggi. This nationwide loved dish is immensely popular and  has more than a thousand variations among many homes, and is the one dish many find solace in. Maggi with cheese, with chillies and capsicum, with corn and paneer, with chicken strips and tofu, with butter and sweet and sour pickle – the list is endless. And so is our appetite for Maggi. It remains the number one comfort food for many of us till date.

Creamy delicious mashed potatoes!

3. Mashed Potatoes:

You know that creamy consistency of starchy delicious potatoes that you would just ball up in your mouth when you were in the kitchen with your Mum? We remember it too. Those hot potatoes mashed up nicely, smoothened out with heaps of butter, cream and milk, and a pinch of nutmeg, to give it that immaculate flavour. Somehow, no dinner was complete without this.

Mom's hot, comforting Chicken Soup!

4. Hot Chicken Soup:

Mum’s perfect cure for you when you were sick, and something you’ve never outgrown. Drinking the perfect, well seasoned hot chicken soup takes us back to those childhood days when we were sick, cuddled up in bed, and Mom would walk in with a large bowl of her cure-it-all soup and nurture us with plenty of TLC. And we want all of that TLC again. Hence, there will always be a special place that chicken soup occupies in our hearts.

Rajma Chawal

5. Rajma Chawal

For a lot of the North Indians, Rajma Chawal is what speaks of home. The aroma of this rajma with all of those special masalas conjure up a sort of a Homecoming dance by many North Indians, who appear to look deeply languished, but ready to fall in love again. Somehow one bite of this delicious red rajma gravy with that semi-burnt spicy Bhindi makes us agree wholeheartedly.

Curd Rice with Pickle!

6. Curd Rice:

This is the South Indian equivalent of the Rajma Chawal. As children, many were allowed to skip whole meals as long as they downed curd rice. It’s a part of the meal that is considered indispensable to most South Indians, as it was what their mothers fondly fed it to them narrating all these animated fun stories and assuring them that they’ll all be ‘heroes’ some day 🙂 We still spot many curious customers at restaurants who stare at that larger than life European/Indian/Chinese buffet and grin when they find their precious curd rice and run to it like gleeful Rugrats.

And that, is Zoink!’s comfort food that makes us happy. Sure, with a country as large as ours (read: subcontinent) there are going to be more than a hundred different types of comfort foods that appeals to all of our readers. And we can’t wait to hear them all from you. Do leave your comments below! J

And, wish you all a happy and Zoinktastic! New year!