Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Bombay Toast Sandwich

I love fixing a sandwich on quick cook days and find Bombay Toast Sandwich a perfect one. Having spent substantial amount of time in Bombay (I prefer to call it Bombay instead of Mumbai), the city has grown on me in leaps and bounds. I have fond memories of clutching my aunt's palm and clinging to her out of fear of getting smashed in the face in a jam-packed train; our umpteen visits to Chowpatty, Juhu Beach, Marine Drive and Nariman Point which were a great childhood memory and sheer bliss. Nariman Point near Victoria Terminus (VT) being a busy business centre, has tiny stalls where vendors sell their quick eats, all and this outside gigantic tall buildings employing numerous top notch executives who squirmed out during quick lunch breaks like honey bees to grab a quick bite from these tiny portable stall vendors. For a small sum of 7 rupees, we could pack a quick toast sandwich slathered with Amul butter, overstuffed with cucumber, tomato, onion and boiled potatoes drizzled with chaat masala, green chutney and tomato ketchup all grilled to perfection. After numerous trials my aunty successfully replicated the recipe and shared it with me. Now, the sandwich bhayyas are spread everywhere in busy areas around Bombay. Needless to say, the days when I miss Bombay, this sandwich takes me back to the nostalgic trips we took on sultry summer evenings.

We have an artisan bakery near my place and the baker bakes the freshest of breads of different kinds. We get French Baguette, Kaiser Rolls, Portuguese Rolls and Ciabatta as well. Of all, my favorite is Portuguese Rolls which reminds me of the Laadi Paav we get in India. Instead of using regular plain white bread, I used the humble Portuguese Roll to fix an overstuffed Toast Sandwich. I've made this sandwich several times and it instantly transports me to the Bombay I knew.

~ Bombay Toast Sandwich ~
Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 5 minutes

Yield: 2 servings

Sandwich Bread - 1
Amul Butter
Chaat Masala - 1 teaspoon
Cheese (Mozzarella) - 2 tbsp

Vegetables -
Boiled Potato - 4 slices
Capsicum (sliced) - 4 slices
Cucumber discs - 4-8
Tomato discs (optional) - 2
Onion discs - 2

Green Sandwich Chutney -
Coriander leaves - 1 cup
Mint leaves - 1/2 cup
Green Chillies - 2
*** Grind all of the above to a paste with little water ***

Add the ingredients of the chutney and grind to a smooth paste and set aside. Boil the Potatoes, slice them into discs and set aside. Get all the vegetables chopped into discs. Take a face open side of sandwich and slather liberally with butter on both the sides. Slather green chutney now on both the sides. On the base side of the bread, place cucumber discs, tomato discs, onion discs and capsicum discs. Place potato discs now and sprinkle chaat masala liberally. Add salt if desired. Cover with the other bread slice, add chunks of butter and cheese if desired. Grill on a hot griddle or Panini maker. Slice as desired and serve hot.

Note - You can use three slices of bread and make a club sandwich.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Vegetable Pizza

We both love Vegetable Pizza. Recently, for a get together with friends, one of my dear friend made Pizza from scratch topped with Artichokes, Olives and Mushrooms. I felt it was the yummiest one I had eaten; it had a very gourmet flavour. She shared the recipe with me and vouched for the Jamie Oliver touch to the Pizza dough. I tried this at home; the flavour was very cheesy, gourmet and my choice of cheese meshed beautifully with the vegetables. Both of us love trying and tasting various cheese, especially European ones and this recipe just served the purpose right.

Jamie Oliver opines that the dough be prepared 24 hours in advance for better results, it can be stored in a cling wrap in the fridge and used the next day. I was tempted and gave a resting time of couple of hours. I was amazed at how little amount of planning yields the perfect Pizza.

~ Vegetable Pizza ~
Preparation time: 6 hours

Cooking time: 40 minutes

Size: 8" Pizza

Pizza Dough -
All Purpose Flour - 4 cups
Extra Virgin Olive oil - 3 tbsp
Salt - 1 tbsp
Sugar - 2 tsp
Luke warm water - 1 and 1/2 cups
High active yeast - 1 sachet ~ approx. 1/2 oz.

Pizza toppings -
Black pitted Olives - 1/2 cup
Mushroom (sliced baby Portobello) - 1/2 cup
Green Bell Pepper - 1/2 cup
Green Olives (optional) - 1/2 cup

Pizza Sauce -
Crushed Tomato (medium) - 2
Parsley - 1 teaspoon
Mixed herbs (Rosemary, Thyme) - 1/2 teaspoon
Oregano - 1/2 teaspoon
*** Grind to a smooth paste in blender and discard the juice, retain the pulp mix ***
*** One can also use Marinara sauce - store bought ***

For garnish - Red chilli flakes, Oregano, Garlic powder
Cheese - shredded Mozzarella (80%) and shredded Monterrey Jack (20%)

Pizza Dough - Mix the wet ingredients of olive oil, water and yeast. Water should be lukewarm and not hot. Allow the yeast to form a bubbly froth for 10 minutes. Add the dry ingredients now which is flour, salt and sugar. Stir gently with a fork and knead to a smooth pliable dough to form a ball. Coat with a teaspoon of olive oil finally and cover with a wet cloth and leave in a warm oven for an hour with the light on. After an hour the dough will double up in volume. Punch it to let out the air and knead again. The dough will be elastic now. Dust the work surface with flour, roll out a Pizza of desired shape and transfer to a cookie tray lined with foil. Dust the foil with olive oil and flour. Proceed with the toppings.

Pizza Toppings - Roll out a 8" pizza out of the dough. Gently press the entire edge with 1" gap to provide elevation for the pizza toppings not to spill out. Prick the fork evenly into the pizza dough. This prevents the pizza from puffing up in the oven. Pre-heat the oven at 425 F. Add the sauce now leaving 1" border. Sprinkle liberally with Oregano. Add the toppings of Bell Peppers, Mushrooms and Black olives. Sprinkle olive oil liberally. Seal the vegetables with cheese of choice. Add the cheese with low melting point first and finally seal with cheese of high melting point. Bake in the oven at 425 F for 40 - 45 minutes.

Plating - Garnish with oregano, garlic powder and red chilli flakes. Enjoy with soda or beverage of choice.

Note - Use cheese which can withstand high melting point in the oven. I prefer Mozzarella or Parmesan blended with flavoured cheese like Monterrey Jack or Fontina which also melts perfectly (all shredded). Whole milk cheese has high moisture and melts well for a nice tasting Pizza. Use Olive oil in dough as well on topping as it gives the necessary gourmet flavour to the Pizza. Bread flour works better instead of All Purpose flour and gives the desired crispness to the base. I used All Purpose flour for the Pizza dough.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Spicy Cucumber Wedges (Masala Kakdi/ Masala Toushey)

With the sun shining in the horizon and piping hot summer days, I reach out to the cool foods to stay hydrated. Lucky me, I got a big loot of Kerby Cucumber from the Indian grocery. I yearn for the ones we get in India which are light green skinned. This one known as Kirby Cucumber comes very close in terms of taste, flavour and freshness. In Marathi, they are known as Kakdi and in my home its known as Masala Kakdi. In Konkani, Cucumbers are known as Toushey. The ones we get in US are palm sized, tiny and ideal for small bites. I also recall these sold on Bangalore street by cart vendors during summer season for a paltry sum of 2 rupees a Cucumber, slathered liberally with masala and lime juice.

During hot summer days, Mom chopped these beauties into wedges and serve as a salad item. Its a very simple one but I wanted to document the recipe for sheer nostalgia! The tender Cucumbers are juicy, full of water and less seeded. Spruce up with spice powders of your choice.

~ Masala Kakdi ~
Processing time: 5 minutes

Kirby Cucumber - 4
Red Chilli powder - as per taste
Black Pepper powder - as per taste

Wash and peel the skin of Cucumber, you could also retain them if needed. Chop them into halved wedges. Sprinkle salt, black pepper powder and red chilli powder. Great as mid day snack and salad.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Paneer Kalia ~ Bengali style

I love Bengali food, thanks to my dear friend Deltu who got me into the habit of eating true Bong food. This was many years back. Through her I got to learn the importance of Paach Phoron, a blend of five spices which add the authentic taste to any Bong dish; numerous ways to make Koccha Kela, serve the raw banana plantain vegetable as a side dish with chopped vegetables cooked in mustard oil or pan fry them with little Haldi, I also learnt how to make Begun Bhaaja which is tiny thin slices of Aubergine marinated liberally with Haldi and Salt and then pan-fried in mustard oil. This along with host of other dishes like Aam Tok, Maccher Jhol, Jhaal Muri, Aloo Posto, Fish r' Chop, Kolkata Kathi Rolls, I could go on. Though I must confess, Aloo Posto is my favorite and the dish can roll me into a peaceful slumber for good 2-3 hours in the noon.

Recently, I tasted Paneer Kalia at a Bong friend's place. This is my version of Paneer Kalia as per the faint memory of the dish I sampled. The taste of this dish is very faint and non-spicy with subtle flavours of Yogurt making it ideal for kids and tiny tots. I am not a big fan of Yogurt however the flavour of yogurt disguised in a curry took me by surprise. Traditionally, Kalia dishes are thick and semi-dry in texture and do not have a runny curry like texture opines my Bong friend, I added little broth to my curry since I was pairing it with Roti and ginger-garlic paste to spruce up the flavour.

~ Paneer Kalia ~
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 15-20 minutes

Paneer (cubes) - 2 cups
Green Peas (fresh or frozen) - 1 cup
Yogurt - 1 cup
Red Chilli powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Turmeric powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Cumin-Coriander powder - 1 tablespoon
Tomato paste - 3 tablespoon
Ginger-Garlic paste - 1 tablespoon

In a deep bottomed pan, heat few spoons of oil/ghee, coat the bottom of the vessel evenly with ghee/oil, add ginger-garlic paste and tomato paste. Saute for a while till it forms a clump and oozes out oil. Add the spice powders now and switch to a low flame. Add Yogurt as well, don't worry if it begins breaking down. Add the Paneer pieces and Green Peas and adjust water and salt as desired. Cook on low flame for about 2-6 minutes or till completely cooked. Serve hot with Rotis.