Book Review | Around the world with the Tadka Girls

The quote “Food is our common ground, a universal experience” by James Beard fascinated me, and I just could not stop flipping the first few pages and reading the preface and experience of the tadka girls Ranjini Rao and Ruchira Ramanujam. The book Around the World with Tadka Girls brings out a confluence of different cultures of the world with the Indian culture. I love the organization of the book, each of the sections depicts this cross cultural influence, just to take an example of left over Khichadi transforming to Sicilian Arancini or whether its Tirangi Kulfi and Chocolate Bark in the same section. What makes the recipes more interesting are the preludes about the around the world experience of tadka girls, upholding the title of the book in every single page.

The book in appearance as a vintage collection explains itself well and gives ideas around how to use it with notes in recipes talking about the tips, variations, substitutions and serving suggestions. The titles of recipes creatively chosen are interesting and sometimes amusing, but not to overwhelm, it talks about where to start when looking for specific kinds.

The book is well laid out with sections like Breakfast & Brunch, Bites and Brews, Soups and Salads, Bread Basket, Pasta ‘n Rice, Signature Tadka, Sweet Treats, Fiesta Fare and Funnibbles. Each of the section has a good variety of recipes. The ingredients in the recipes are laid out in the order they are used (I always prefer them in this way), with clear cooking directions.

For every cook and baker it also includes measurement cheat sheet and has a glossary of words in the end which would definitely help non Indian cooks trying their hands at the recipes from any of the media.

I would even recommend the book to non cooks just to experience from the preludes, it may actually ignite the spark in you to start a new cooking hobby!

The book is available at all the leading book stores and online on Flipkart and Amazon.

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Achari Masala

Achari masala

Achar or pickle has been an Indian tradition and most households have a family recipe for different varieties of pickles. The blend of different spices that is used to pickle is called the achari masala. Apart from using this masala in the pickle, we can use it to enhance the flavor of curries, pulses and make a variety of starters. It gives a typical Achari taste to the dish. Here is the simple recipe to make this masala.

Achari masala

All you need is

Dry red chilies- 16-18
Coriander seeds – 1 tbsp
Onion seeds kalonji – 3 tsp
Fennel seeds saunf – 6 tbsp
Mustard seeds rai – 6 tbsp
Fenugreek methi seeds – 2 tsp
Cumin seeds – 6 tsp
Salt – 6 tbsp
Turmeric powder – 3 tbsp
Asafoetida heeng – 12 tsp
Dry mango powder  amchoor – 3 tsp

Achari masala

Method of preparation

Dry roast dry red chilies, coriander seeds, onion seeds, fennel seeds, mustard seeds and cumin till slightly browned and fragrant.
Cool for 5 minutes.
Blend in a blender with rest of the ingredients to make a coarse powder.
Store in an airtight container for up to a month in a cool and dry place or refrigerate it for about 2 months.

You can add this powder in curries, dal and can make various starters.

Achari masala

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Aloo Matar ka Paratha

Tired of making plain aloo ke parathe. Add little peas in the filling and enjoy the change. Here is the recipe.

All you need is

Whole wheat flour – 1 cup
Salt – 12 tsp
Oil – 1 tsp
Potato – 12 cup ( Boiled, peeled and grated )
Peas – 12 cup ( boiled )
Garam masala – 12 tsp
Green chili – 1 ( chopped )
Green coriander – 2 tbsp ( chopped )
Oil for frying

Method of preparation

Add whole wheat flour, salt and oil in a bowl.
Mix.
Add water and knead to make a soft dough.
Cover and keep aside for 15-20 minutes.
Mix boiled potato, peas, salt, garam masala, green chili and coriander in a bowl.
Mix nicely.
Make lemon size balls of the dough.
Divide each ball into two pieces.
Dust and roll both the pieces to approx 4-5 inch.
Keep 2 tbsp of filling on one of the rolled piece.
Cover with the another rolled piece.
Seal the ends.
Dust and roll to approx 6 inch disc.
Heat a griddle.
Fry the paratha from both the sides applying little oil till brown spots appear.
Serve hot with curd, achar and butter.

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Bathue ka Raita

Bathua is a green that is available especially during the winter season. It’s very healthy and rich in minerals and vitamins and can be incorporated in out diet in various ways. This bathue ka raita is easy to make and is very refreshing and delicious. Here is the recipe.

All you need is

Bathua leaves – 2 cups
Yogurt – 1 cup
Salt to taste
Black salt – 12 tsp
Roasted cumin powder – 14 tsp
Red chili powder – 14 tsp

Method of preparation

Pick the leaves and discard the stems from the bunch of bathua.
Heat water in a pan and when it comes to a boil, add the leaves.
Cook for 2-3 minutes.
Strain.
Grind the leaves in a grinder to make a smooth paste.
Whisk the yogurt till smooth.
Add the bathua puree, salt, black salt, roasted cumin powder and red chili powder.
Add little milk if you want the raita thinner.

Notes – You can also add a green chili while grinding the bathua.
You can give a tadka of cumin seeds and heeng to the raita if you want to make it little different. Just heat a tsp of ghee in a pan. When the ghee is hot, add 12 tsp cumin seeds and a pinch of heeng. Pour this tadka over the prepared raita.

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Parwal Do Pyaza

Parwal is a vegetable from gourd family. It can be prepared in many ways. Today I have made a parwal do pyaza where it is cooked with lots of onions and spices. Here is the recipe.

All you need is

Parwal Pointed gourd – 8-10
Oil – 4 tbsp
Dry red chilies – 3-4
Black peppercorns – 5-6
Cloves – 3-4
Black cardamom – 1-2
Green cardamom – 2-3
Cinnamon – 1 inch piece
Onion – 2 cups ( Thinly sliced )
Ginger – 1 inch piece ( crushed )
Garlic – 5-6 cloves ( crushed )
Tomato puree – 2 tbsp
Thick yogurt – 2 tbsp
Coriander powder – 3 tsp
Turmeric powder – 12 tsp
Kashmiri red chili powder – 2 tsp
Roasted cumin powder – 12 tsp
Garam masala powder – 12 tsp
Salt to taste
lemon juice – 2 tsp
Fresh coriander to garnish

Method of preparation

Wash the parwal and peel into alternate stripes.
Cut it into 2 pieces and remove any hard seeds if there.
Add parwal in  apan and add 14 water.
Cover and cook till parwal are little soft.
Add oil in a heavy bottom pan.
When the oil is hot, add dry red chilies, black peppercorns, cloves, black cardamom, green cardamom and cinnamon.
Fry for 20-30 seconds.
Add onions and fry till pinkish .
Add ginger and garlic and fry till onions are golden brown.
Add tomato puree and yogurt and cook for a minute.
Add coriander powder, turmeric powder, red chili powder, cumin powder, salt and garam masala.
Add half cup of water and cook for 1-2 minutes.
Add the parwal and mix well.
Add another 14 cup of water and cover the pan.
Cook the parwal on very low heat for 10-15 minutes till done.
Add lemon juice and mix.
Garnish with fresh coriander.
Serve hot with phulka or rice.

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Mughlai Murgh Korma

Mughlai murgh korma is a traditional Mughlai recipe. It has a rich and creamy gravy made with coconut and almonds. Here is the recipe.

All you need is

Chicken – 1 and 12 kg
Vinegar – 2 tsp
Ghee or oil – 14 cup
Onion – 2 cups ( thinly sliced
Bay leaves – 2
Green cardamom – 3-4
Black cardamom – 2-3
Cloves – 5-6
Black peppercorns – 8-10
Cinnamon stick – 1 inch piece
Javitri – small piece
Ginger – 2 inch piece
Garlic – 8-10 cloves
Almonds – 14 cup
Grated fresh coconut – 3 tbsp
Green chili – 1
Yogurt – 1 and 12 cup
Maida – 1 tsp
White pepper powder – 1 tsp
Kashmiri red chili powder – 2 and 12 tsp
Coriander powder – 2 and 12 tsp
Turmeric powder – 12 tsp
Salt to taste
Saffron  – A good pinch
Kewra essence – 8-10 drops
Rose water – 1 tsp
Garam masala – 1 tsp
Lemon juice – 2 tsp
Fresh cream – 2 tbsp

Method of preparation

Wash the chicken and apply vinegar on it.
Keep aside for 45 minutes to an hour.
Heat ghee in a pan.
Add onions and 12 tsp salt and fry on medium heat till golden brown
Remove on a plate through a slotted spoon.
In the same pan, add bay leaves, green cardamom, black cardamom, cloves, peppercorn, cinnamon and javitri.
Fry for 30 seconds.
Add chicken and fry on high heat for 5-7 minutes till slightly browned.
Meanwhile in a grinder, grind the fried onions, ginger, garlic, grated coconut, almonds and green chili to make a smooth paste.
Use little water if requires to grind.
Add the ground masala to the pan once the chicken is browned.
Whisk yogurt with maida and it to the pan.
Add salt, white pepper powder, red chili powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder and saffron to the pan.
Add a cup of water and let the chicken cook for almost an hour on low heat.
Add kewra essence, rose water, garam masala, lemon juice and fresh cream and cook for 3-4 minutes.
Serve hot with Naan or Zaafrani pilaf.

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Salted Caramel Sauce

Salted caramel sauce is a very versatile sauce which can be used on top of your ice creams, or dip the apple slices or even make milk shakes. This is very easy to make at home and can be refrigerated for about a month once made. Here is the simple recipe to make your own salted caramel sauce.

All you need is

Granulated sugar – 1 cup
Unsalted butter – 75 g
Heavy cream – 12 cup
Sea salt – 1 tsp

Method of preparation

Heat the sugar in a pan over medium heat.
Whisk the sugar when it starts to melt.
Keep whisking till the sugar has melted and then remove the whisk.
Now just swirl the pan and cook the sugar till it is deep amber in color.
This is the most important step.
The sugar can burn in just a few seconds, so take extra care.
If you have a candy thermometer, cook the sugar till it reach 350 degrees F.
When the sugar has reached the desired color, add the butter and whisk till it is combined.
Remove the pan from heat and add the cream slowly.
Whisk till combined and the caramel is smooth.
Add the salt and mix well.
Cool the caramel sauce and store in a jar.
You can refrigerate it for about a month.

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Palak Corn Curry

Palak and corn curry is a healthy and delicious curry. I make this quite often as it is liked by all in the family and goes well with roti, paratha, poori or even rice. You can use either fresh corn or frozen corn to make this curry. Here is the recipe.

All you need is

Spinach – 250 g
Baking soda – a pinch
Oil – 5-6 tbsp
Dry red chilies – 3-4
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Onion – 1 cup ( thinly sliced )
Garlic – 5-6 cloves ( chopped )
Ginger – 1 inch piece ( chopped )
Tomato – 12 cup ( chopped )
Coriander powder – 3 tsp
Red chili powder – 12 tsp
Garam masala powder – 12 tsp
Corn – 3 cups ( boiled till soft )
Salt to taste
Lemon juice – 2 tbsp

Method of preparation

Pick the leaves from the spinach bunch and discard the stems.
Heat water in a big vessel and let it come to a boil.
Add 2 tsp salt and baking soda and spinach leaves in the boiling water.
Cook for 2 minutes.
Drain the spinach and run under ice cold water.
Blend in a blender to make a smooth paste.
Keep aside.
Heat oil in a heavy bottom pan.
When the oil is hot, add cumin seeds and dry red chilies.
Add garlic and fry for 10 seconds.
Add onion and ginger and fry till onions are slightly browned.
Add tomatoes and fry for a minute.
Add coriander powder, red chili powder and garam masala powder.
Add half cup water and fry for 3-4 minutes.
Remove the pan from heat.
Let it cool for 10 minutes.
Blend the onion mixture in a blender to make a smooth paste.
Keep the same pan on heat.
Add the onion paste to the pan.
Add the spinach puree and a cup of water.
Cook for 2-3 minutes.
Add the boiled corn and salt to taste.
Cook for another 2-3 minutes.
Add lemon juice and mix well.
Transfer in the serving bowl.
Garnish with fresh cream.
Serve hot with paratha, poori or rice.

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Chatpati Shakarkandi Spicy and Tangy Sweet Potato

All of you must have made Chaat using potatoes and have relished it. I have done a little change and used Sweet potatoes instead of potatoes and the result was a yummilicious, spicy and tangy chaat. If you have the chutneys ready, the chaat can be assembled in just a few minutes. Here is the recipe.

All you need is

Shakarkandi Sweet potato – 12 kg
Oil Ghee – 2 tbsp
Coriander and mint chutney – 14 cup ( recipe is here )
Tamarind chutney – 14 cup
Curd – 12 cup
Salt to taste
Roasted cumin powder – 1 tsp
Red chili powder – 12 tsp
Chaat masala – 1 tsp
Green chili – 1 ( chopped )
Green coriander – 2 tbsp ( chopped )
Lemon juice – 2 tbsp
Pomegranate seeds – 14 cup
Nylon sev – 14 cup

Method of preparation

Wash the shakarkandi nicely.
Pressure cook for one whistle.
Peel and cut into small pieces.
Add ghee or oil in a pan and fry it till slightly golden brown.
Remove from the pan.
Arrange the shakarkandi in the serving plate.
Top with the coriander chutney.
Sprinkle the tamarind chutney.
Now add the curd.
Sprinkle salt, red chili powder, roasted cumin powder and chaat masala.
Sprinkle the lemon juice.
Garnish with green chili, green coriander, nylon sev and pomegranate seeds on top.
Serve immediately.

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Nargisi Kofte

Nargisi kofte is a traditional Mughlai dish where boiled eggs are wrapped with flavored mince meat and deep fried and then simmered in a rich and creamy gravy. The meat used traditionally is Goat’s mutton. Here is the simple recipe to make this exotic dish.

All you need is

Eggs – 6 ( boiled and peeled )

For gravy

Mustard oil – 6 tbsp
Onion – 2 cups ( thinly sliced )
Ginger – 1 inch piece
Garlic – 5-6 cloves
Green cardamom – 3-4
Black cardamom – 2-3
Cloves – 3-4
Black peppercorn – 8-10
Cinnamon – 1 inch stick
Bay leaf – 2
Yogurt – 1 cup
All purpose flour – 2 tsp
Tomato puree – 2 tbsp
Coriander powder – 3 tsp
Turmeric powder – 12 tsp
Kashmiri red chili powder – 3 tsp
Garam masala powder – 12 tsp
Salt to taste
Kewda essence – 6-8 drops
Rose water – 1 tsp
Fresh cream – 2 tbsp

For the egg coating

Mutton mince – 12 kg
Green chili – 1 ( finely chopped )
Fresh coriander – 3 tbsp ( finely chopped )
Salt to taste
Garam masala powder – 12 tsp
Egg – 1
Bread crumbs – 12 cup
Cumin powder – 12 tsp
Oil for frying

Method of preparation

For the gravy

Heat mustard oil in a pan till it starts to fume.
Switch off the heat and let the oil cool a bit.
Switch on the heat.
Add onions and fry till golden brown
Remove the fried onion with a slotted spoon from the pan.
Blend the fried onions, ginger and garlic in a blender using little water to make a smooth paste.
Heat the remaining oil in the same pan.
Add green cardamom, black cardamom, cloves, black peppercorn, cinnamon and bay leaf and fry for 20-30 seconds.
Add the onion paste.
Whisk yogurt with all purpose flour and add it to the pan
Add tomato puree.
Cook for 2-3 minutes.
Add coriander powder, turmeric powder, red chili powder, garam masala powder and salt.
Add half cup water and cook for 8-10 minutes.
Add kewra essence, rose water and fresh cream.
Cook for 2-3 minutes.

For the egg coating

Mix all the ingredients for the coating in a bowl.

Assembly

Poke small holes on the eggs using a fork.
Divide the coating mixture into six parts and wrap each boiled egg with one of the part.
You can slightly wet your hands while coating the eggs with mixture.
Deep fry the eggs till golden brown from both the sides.
Cut the egg into half.
Add the eggs in the gravy.
Garnish with coriander.
Serve hot with laccha paratha.

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