Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Ugly but Good for You - The Elephant Foot Yam

I've seen this root vegetable at home when I was a kid but it was only when I went to college that I learned how to tackle it. 

I was told it causes itching if cut with bare hands and one had to rub oil on one's hands before touching it. This particular botheration is now over as a lady told me to just wash it well first. However, many prefer to avoid a dish with this yam as they claim it causes itching in the throat. 

So why would anyone want to eat it?

Health benefits, for one thing:

Apparently, the elephant-foot yam is used in Indian systems of medicine such as AyurvedaSiddha and Unani. It is claimed to be a remedy for bronchitis, asthma, abdominal pain, vomiting, dysentery, spleen enlargement , piles, elephantiasis, blood diseases, and rheumatic swellings. 

And it's supposed to be good for us ladies. A bonus is that it's touted on weight loss sites!

Anyway, the method I learned is easy and provides a tasty dish. It was a college bestie who taught me the recipe.

Elephant Foot Yam a la Vaidehi
Wash and peel the yam and cut it into pieces. Let's assume you have about a quarter kilo of it. Place it in a container that fits in your pressure cooker and add a couple of dried red chillies. Cook it for a couple of whistles or till totally soft. Blend it in a mixer, add salt to taste and drizzle with an oil of your choice. Finally, add lime juice to taste and serve with rice, rotis or use as a spread.

Here are some other recipes that I've tried and liked:

A theeyal seems to be a dish from kerala that uses specific vegetables which are boiled or otherwise cooked and served in a kind of gravy containing tamarind pulp, ground coconut and spices such as pepper, dried chillies, fenugreek and others. I also added some drumsticks, those delicious long green things!

Here's another video which brings out the real flavour of things!

Next time I'm going to try Chena Astram.

Now, I'd really love to know if you have a favourite recipe for this bizarre veggie. Please do post your thoughts in the comments. 

Thursday, March 9, 2017


Maash Ki Daal

Mummy, give me some more rice!


  1. Urad dal (white, split), 1 cup
  2. Ginger (juliennes), 1 teaspoon
  3. Garlic (chopped), 6 cloves
  4. Onion (thin slices), 1
  5. Green chili, 1
  6. Cilantro (finely sliced), 1 tablespoon
  7. Cumin seed, 1 teaspoon
  8. Asafoetida, a pinch
  9. Salt, to to taste
  10. Ghee, 1 tablespoon


1. Wash the dal well to remove the frothy surfactants as much as possible. To further reduce the gassiness that a dal can cause, soak in hot water for at least an hour and wash again

2. Cook the dal in a thick bottomed pan with at least double the amount of water ­ some people add some ginger juliennes and red chillies and peppercorns at this point and even salt. To make the dish even more exotic, boil it with a modicum of the whole garam masala spices such as one tej patta, 1 clove, a tiny piece of cinnamon, a soupcon of star anise, etc. You can even pressure cook it but when I do so the dal often gets overcooked

3. In the meantime, as the dal is cooking away, peel and thinly slice the onions, julienne the ginger and finely chop the garlic and cilantro. You can either slit the green chili or dice it and if you're not keen on chili spice, either omit it altogether or de seed it before use ­ do wear gloves or wash your hands well after touching chilies

4. Heat the ghee gently taking care not to burn it and crackle the cumin seed carefully as they should not get too browned. Add the onions, ginger, garlic and green chili until nicely golden

5. Check the dal. If the grains can be easily mashed with your fingers then it's good to go ­ if not cook further, add more water if need be

6. Pour the above onto the dal

The Real Deal 

If you want to make and taste the real recipe, just make sure you cook the dal right 
  1. The finished product should look like fluffy rice 
  2. Heat a dash of ghee and singe a dash of the finest hing 
  3. Pour this over your dal, seasoned only with salt 
I've really not had this dish as cooked by my mother or her sisters, all of whom were raised on the North-West Frontier. I came to know about this dish because my mother often told me that it was my sister's favourite. 
Mummy, give me some more rice! 
Because, apparently, that is how the dish should look. As you can see, I've failed in that sense. To suit expectations, I cook it much as we cook most dals, tadka style. 

In any case, this is a royal dish and can be prepared with the least fuss which is, indeed, the hallmark of true royalty. 

Or you can make it with a lot or a little more pomp and circumstance - garam masala, whole or powdered; onions, garlic, ginger - an elaborate fried garnish.

And you can also go all creative and make it a cold salad dish by cooking the dal rather like a vegetable pulao with green peas, carrots and all and serve it tossed with fresh salad vegetables like cucumbers, lettuce and such.

Saturday, March 4, 2017


Croquettes With Leftovers

My recent addiction to Japanese drama finds me a fan of the croquette! 


3 medium sized potatoes
4 tablespoons leftover spaghetti/pasta with sauce and all - heat it to dry off excess liquid and further squeeze it out when cool, else the croquettes risk not holding together. Save the liquid to moisten the bread 
1 slice bread
Vegetable oil or any preferred cooking medium. These days I prefer ghee or coconut oil.
Cheese, optional
1. Boil, peel and thoroughly mash the potatoes 
2. Trim the crust off the bread 
3. Use any liquid in the leftover spaghetti to moisten the bread 
4. Squeeze out any excess liquid from the bread and blend it well with the mashed potatoes 
5. Season the mashed potatoes to taste with salt and pepper and any other dry seasonings you like
6. Separate balls of mashed potato and heaps of spaghetti to match ­ the amount of potato mix should always be much more
7. Make a kind of hollow in one ball and gently place a bit of spaghetti there. Cautiously draw the potato mix so that it covers the stuffing.
8. Do the same with the rest and shape the croquettes 
9. Heat the oil well ­ test by dropping a small piece of the potato mix and see if it rises quickly 
10. Lower the fire a bit and gently slide in a croquette 
11. Cook for a few minutes and gently slide over to cook on the other side 
12. Serve with onion rings, slices of lime and buttered bread 
Watch how it's done on a Youtube video

Red Greens? Red Amaranth On The Menu Tonight!

A lot of people dislike eating greens. And, conversely, greens are the main vegetables used by lots of people. But what about greens that are red?
Health Benefits of Amaranth Leaves
I loved my mom's dal saag and I tend to make it often. If I find red amaranth, I grab it. A touch of colour does wonders to food.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Whey Water Soups

I'd briefly used another platform for food blogging but it let me down and I shall be transferring posts from there on Khana Banana. I chose to post this one first as I recently made a very tasty soup. And the same recipe almost holds good. Only this time I added a small handful of coriander seeds and that made it very delightful!
Carrot-Pumpkin Whey Water Soup
Whey Tomato-Carrot Soup

1/2 litre of whey, leftover from making paneer1 tablespoon homemade butter (any butter will do. It's just that I tend to make mine at home)
1 carrot, chopped
3 tomatoes, with slits cut into them
1 or 2 onions, chopped coarsely6 cloves garlic1 or 2 green chilliesA small bunch of cilantro
1 bay leaf or tejpatta
3-4 cloves, optional
Oil for deep frying
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Here's what you'll basically need
I've not used flour, as the soup was thick enough
2. Coarsely chop the onions and carrots. Slit the green chillies so they don't explode on heating. Peel the garlic cloves
You can avoid the chillies if hotness is not your cup of tea
3. Gently heat the butter. I've used homemade butter. You can even use store bought butter or olive oil or any other cooking oil that you prefer
Making butter at home is tedious but rewarding
4. Sweat the onions, garlic, chillies, carrots and bay leaf or tejpatta 
Keep the fire fairly low so nothing burns
5. Add the tomatoes 
I've made slits on them, in case I decided to blanch and peel them
6. Add the cilantro 
Folks add coriander seeds too. I didn't as we use too much in our daily cooking
7. Pressure cook for one whistle or boil in whey. I used a pressure cooker, adding part of the whey with the sauteed vegetables

8. Heat oil 
Use a nice, wide, thick bottomed Kadai/wok (pan)
9. Meanwhile chop some stale bread into cubes 
There are many ways to make croutons interesting and to avoid deep frying
10. Deep fry till golden and drain 
I left them on my tawa which I use for draining fried stuff. It conditions the tawa so that one can fry eggs or make dosas more easily
11. Blend the cooled vegetables 
You could strain it after blending if you want to be fancy
12. Add the rest of the whey and give it a boil, stirring continuously 
Keep the fire low and stir so that the whey does not curdle
10. To serve, garnish with cilantro (I used onion leaves from my garden), sprinkle some coarsely ground black pepper and keep a lime half handy for those who crave a tang 
Add caption
There's nothing quite like soup on certain days, cold days or hot ones, times when you're tired or sick or just for the heck of it
Very filling!

Whey is high in protein which makes this soup very rich and substantial.

I'm a no frills homebody cook and can't find the time to be fancy but you can make this soup as lah di dah as you please by straining out the pulp after pressure cooking. That would be very tedious and you'd need some muslin cloth or such.

Then, you can thicken it by gently sauteing about a tablespoon of plain flour in a dab of butter or olive or any other oil. Just for a minute or two. Switch off the fire and slowly pour in about half a cup of milk, stirring continuously. This will give you a creamy soup.

For further indulgence, garnish with a swirl of beaten cream. Use malai if handy.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Demonetization Strikes On My Birthday: Budget Eating In And Around Amigo Plaza, Colva, Goa

It was my birthday and we were in Goa for a day or two of lazing around.

November 8, 2016, will be outstanding in the memory of many Indians! That night, it was announced on TV that one could no longer use Rs. 500 or 1000 notes!

 As it is we were pretty broke and I needed to find budget places to eat and enjoy.

Fresh fish above all!

I had surfed loads of restaurant reviews to find where's best, which one would suit us. Amigo Plaza, where we were booked, had a lot of eateries very nearby, according to Google Maps.

It was afternoon when we reached. We first walked across the road to a little tea shop and had a decent chai for some Rs.10 each. Then, we set out to explore and it was very exciting to see all the places I had noted online! 

The famous Leda which was too expensive for us and many other such fancy places are to the left of the little road from Amigo Plaza. Most of these places cater to the Russians.

All over the place you see Russians of all shapes, sizes, ages, genders and more, dedicatedly "enjoying"  a beach vacation. And I was much reminded of Soviet posters one saw as a child and of a hilarious comedy film I watched as a child.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

A Nibble At The Seagull, Mattancherry@F&B

Last year when I visited Mattancherry I was alone. It was something of an adventure for me as I went there alone by bus. I crossed the railway tracks from the Amrita Hospital and, asking around, I caught a bus to the Marina. It was unbelievably cheap and I was also told that there are more comfortable buses, also very reasonably priced. Alas, it's a little hard to ask around and get such relevant information.  
"The Orange Bus are low floored and air conditioned. They are comfortable and cost Rs 10 for first 5 km and then Rs 2 for every km. The Yellow Buses are non air conditioned low floor buses. They link almost all the suburbs to the city centre and are ideal for budget travellers. "
It was mainly to enjoy the ferry that day.

 I ate at a very humble place, a very reasonably priced meal. I can't say it was memorable but neither do I feel that I would get anything I would really like in a fancier place. That's just fussy old me!

However, this time, we were told about The Seagull

Monday, September 26, 2016

Satvic Food, Kochi, August 2016

Though I appreciate all kinds of world foods and have realised that tastes are formed early on and by many individual factors, I tend to most relish Indian vegetarian food, especially the South Indian variety. Even in this narrow definition there is diversity as the foods of Andhra or Karnataka are quite different from those of Tamil Nadu or Kerala. 

By and large the cuisine of Kerala is equated with seafood delicacies and, in the mood of the present times, with a particular kind of meat. And it is true that these preparations are often quite tasty, albeit with high chilli quotient. 

In contrast, it is rare to find samples of benign "home food" type meals in restaurants. Thus, I was lucky to get to eat at the Amrita School of Arts and Sciences, Kochi. The food is tasty, simple yet always diverse in content. The one steady factor is the superb amla pickle.

Compared to the 80s when I used to visit Kerala frequently, the variety and quantity and quality of vegetables has increased. The brown things in the foreground are called elephant-foot yam

Gourds of various kinds are also popularly used in the cuisine of Kerala. 

While, once upon a time, bananas were almost the only fruit served at the average home in Kerala, today fruit stalls line the roads and routinely offer exotic varieties such as the hairy red rambutan you see in the front row.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Breakfast and Coffee at Pune Airport, August 8, 2016

Most often I prefer to pack food for a travel, given my tummy woes. Those picnic meals have been delightful!

However, this time round, our gas cylinder ran out and the spare cylinder insisted on leaking.

I was quite grateful as it prevented me from embarking on a wild cooking spree. 

And so it was that the first thing we did on reaching Pune airport was to head for the new restaurant: Sugardough.

The place is quite nice but the food (idli, vada) was quite indifferent.

The decor is cheerful enough and it's quite relaxing to sit around there with a group of friends and chat the time of day away as some Air Asia staff were doing.

Service is slow though there seem to be enough people to handle the work. You can get all the very same stuff you see all over the airport - nothing new or unique to Sugardough.

I'm always tempted to buy something out of the above kind of offerings but am worried that I'll be paying more.

After breakfast, we checked in and then it was time for some coffee. Not too bad but how delightful it would be to be able to have some Indian filter coffee. Why can't we have an Indian Coffee House at every airport in India?

So far, Pune airport has not proved itself much in terms of F&B.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

A Bit Of Neither Here Nor There about Food Films From Here And There

At one time, folks used to say that eating scenes characterised Bengali films. We explained it away with the infamous famines. This was in the Seventies.

In the Eighties, I observed some very prominent focus on eating in Tamil films - including songs that highlighted food somehow.
This is a song about leftover rice and some fish curry. At one point, the heroine, in fact, mimes the gestures of grinding the masalas. 

Yet, for all the food related names, even Bollywood, with its Cheeni Kum and Lunch Box, has not given us a food centric film. 
There are several Hollywood names on lists. But I can't remember one where food is the real star. 

Whereas French cinema has plenty. Do try and get your hands on L'aile Ou La Cuisse for I can only give you a teaser of things to come 

However, it was only when I found the Korean Let's Eat - you can watch a trailer here -  and Fermentation Family that I could claim that there really existed films where food hogged the limelight. The Koreans have a host of films and dramas revolving around food.

But it's only when I ventured into Japanese that I found food a star! I've already drooled over Tampopo but almost every Japanese film or drama I've seen, especially of late, has a thing with food, from the cutest Bento Boxes to an almost obligatory scene involving talking with your mouth full. 

Quite a few of them are exquisite experiences and I recommend Little Forest: Summer and Autumn but in the meantime here's a music video from Little Forest: Winter and Spring

I would really like to know if you have any favourite food film, especially if it's from a region I have not covered here - please do let me know in the comments section.

I leave you with a trailer for one of my all time favourite food films from Japan.

And, of course, there are bound to be books on the subject!