Feature | Walking through the streets of Old Delhi on a cold winter morning #winter #food #props #delhi

‘Food is not rational. Food is culture, habit, craving and identity.”
Jonathan Safran Foer

Old DelhiThere can be nothing better than an impromptu walk through the streets of Old Delhi on a cold winter morning. Unplanned turned out even better. One day, a couple of weeks ago, I tumbled out of bed feeling restless and tired of work. The cold had been getting to me, work progressing slow and somewhat unsatisfactory! I needed a fix, and for me it was an instant decision.

Old Delhi With Mr PAB away in HKG, it was a free day. I literally tumbled out of bed into a very foggy and cold morning. Then bitten by the familiar addictive ‘old delhi bug‘ once again, within the hour I was on a train into the beautiful old city. The experience is always enriching, and to my delight, I found this impulsive visit an eye opener.Old Delhi 3For me, Purani Dilli or Old Delhi, or the walled city too as it is sometimes called, is synonymous with two things. Prop shopping is the big bait for the incorrigible prop collector that I am. And obviously, some of the best places to eat in Delhi is the other. It’s the ambiance that charms you, tempts you to go back over and over again – the flavours, the sights and sounds, the cacophony!

Old Delhi No North Indian food is complete without sweets, and the streets of the old city do not disappoint! Having never been to Old Delhi during the peak of winter, I was elated to dive straight into a light, airy and heavenly bowl of the elusive Daulat ki Chaat. Pure love!! It was everything Pamela Timms wrote it to be in her beautifully written book on Old Delhi – Kheer, Korma & Kismet! In the back of my head, the pages of her book turned, one by one. So much connect. Felt like kismet.

Old Delhi A quick chat with the gentle, sweet salesman and a few quick clicks later, I set off towards Jama Masjid. I wandered down the street which is home to some of the best restaurants in Delhi that offer old world rustic charm. Fresh, artisan food, aromatic, as spicy as you like it, flavours hard to find elsewhere. It was early and I wasn’t hungry for a meal, so just took in the flavours wafting through the air while lunch was being prepared. No sense of urgency at all, a languid charm, a nip in the air, lots of tea brewing everywhere..

Old Delhi Like most restaurants in Delhi, there is plenty of choice on offer here, though mainly North Indian cuisine. Since I was alone, I had plenty of time to take it all in. One place that caught my eye was a tiny little eatery offering Wazwan, Kashmiri cuisine. The tables already full with folk enjoying a late breakfast or an early lunch perhaps, the restaurant owner, an old man, was quite happy to chat with me. Old Delhi We talked about Srinagar since I had been there just last year, typical dishes {goshtaba, rajma, haaq, tabaq maaz, rogan josh}, that they cook everything on the first floor, how people come from far and wide to eat their food. I was really tempted but alas, with no appetite, instead opted for a nice cup of Kashmiri Namak Chai {salted tea}. What a revelation. Salty tea … deep, earthy, warming. Almost soup like! The best part was that the old man refused to take money for it. And that stunning samovar… a thing of everlasting beauty!

Old Delhi The samovar reminding me of why I was here, but sadly the shop I went in search for was shut. Quite disheartened, I hailed a rickshaw back to Chawri Bazaar and reluctantly stopped at a random copperware shop. Must have been my lucky day as the owners were more than happy to oblige! I returned giddily happy with stuff I fell in love with, stuff they couldn’t understand why I was so happy to buy. Once cleaned up, it shone. And how!!Old Delhi , food propsSpirits revived, it was another rickshaw ride again, this time to Khari Baoli as I had a promise to keep. Since it was past noon, the market is packed. Being Asia’s biggest spice market, trading is at a frenzy. The crowds carry you along, and it’s easy to get lost in all this mayhem. Visit it during winters as in summer the crowds can be pretty overpowering if you know what I mean. Bought some enamelware for a friend, some dry fruits that are always a part of the shopping list, took in the sights, sounds and smells… then very satisfied headed back to the train station. It was time to go back.

Old Delhi With a head full of memories and a bagful of goodies I reached home cold, exhausted but so so happy! I love any trip into the old city. The next trip will be on an empty stomach and with friends. The charm beckons you, the aromas call your name … kormas, rotis, rusks, sewain… it’s a food paradise. A food prop paradise too if you are lucky!

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Cooking | Baby Mustard Greens Indian Stir Fry … #freshproduce #NorthIndia #vegetarian #stirfry #healthy

“The easiest diet is, you know, eat vegetables, eat fresh food. Just a really sensible healthy diet like you read about all the time.”
Drew Carey

Baby mustard greens stir fry 800Baby Mustard Greens Indian Stir Fry  … quick, as spicy as you like it, simple and fuss free. Fresh produce is one of the highlights of winter in North India, and mustard greens a quintessential favourite. Someone asked me the other day if I only bake, and I almost gawked! I cook more than I bake, or maybe equal amounts. I love to cook, and love trying new stuff. I just don’t blog it often enough.

Fresh produce, Winter, North IndiaSo turning a corner near home yesterday, I chanced upon this young lad selling a cartload of farm fresh vegetables. The greens caught my glad eye and I hit the brakes. They weren’t the normal greens we see everyday. They were tiny, or rather baby, mustard greens … fresh, tender and absolutely delightful. All I could think of was ‘I wish I had my camera‘. The next best thing was of course to buy some, take it home and shoot! So I bought a bunch of stuff for a princely Rs100 {less than $2} and raced home in excitement.

Baby mustard greens stir fry North Indian winter is incomplete without a meal of sarson ka saag and makki ki roti. It’s a dish I make often through the winter, yet this year I haven’t got there for some silly reason. The upside of course that winter is longer and colder this year, so there’s plenty of promise of the dish showing up in the days to come. Since that is a more involved dish to make despite the several shortcuts I take, the Baby Mustard Greens Indian Stir Fry seemed a simpler option.

Baby mustard greens stir fry A quick consultation with Sangeeta who rules the roost for fresh produce and is a ‘food knowledge bank‘ in my eyes, and I knew what I would make. I cooked up a simple stir fry … loads of green chilies and loads of flavour, and served it up with one of my favourite non vegetarian dishes – a chicken korma. Kept the leaves whole for this since they were small and tender, yet you can always chop them up.

Baby mustard greens stir fry& Chicken kormaAlso feel free to reduce {or increase } the green chilies. they add a nice touch of heat served alongside the mild and flavourful Awadhi Chicken Korma, which incidentally is one of our family favourites. That korma, shared here and seems to get better each time we make it! It’s simple and uncomplicated too, with staple pantry ingredients.

 

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

Desserts in Glasses| Dark Chocolate Oat & Walnut Pudding {eggless} & a Cranberry Cocktail Fruit Jelly…

“I am starting to think that maybe memories are like this dessert. I eat it, and it becomes a part of me, whether I remember it later or not.”
Erica Bauermeister

Dark Chocolate Oat & Walnut Pudding Dark Chocolate Oat & Walnut Pudding {eggless} … with the festive season well underway, it’s always the more the merrier when it comes to desserts. Leave it to me, and I would pretty much try and squeeze and recreate every dessert to fit into wine glasses, or any glasses for that matter. There is something quite ethereal and fun about it. Convenient and quick too!

Desserts in glassesThis is what the year is probably going to be like. Quick recipes. Fun too. Hopefully will get a handle on the techs behind the camera. The healthy, or rather healthier twist is also going to rule. Feels like a lot more chocolate through winter, and then loads of summer fruit in the hot months. So much to look forward to.Nutcracker 1 800I am a huge believer in individually portioned desserts, preferably in glasses. It’s fun to layer in them, fun to see the visual delight they offer and fun to see kids faces light up while holding a stem glass. That I also play around with different sizes and kinds of glasses is a personal choice. I need to break the monotony of life, of setting, of serving and of course of taking photographs.

Cosmo chocolate puddingSo this is a recipe I recently did for Cosmopolitan India. The criteria was interesting … an original recipe, easy to cook, shouldn’t take longer than 20-30 minutes to put together and most importantly, it should boast ingredients with ‘beauty benefits’. Create anything you like as long as it will do the skin some good. OatsI have been working a LOT with oats of late, especially with my association with Fit Foodie. Well oats are good for the skin too, as a scrub, as a face pack, and of course ‘in a dish to eat’!! Chocolate and honey fitted right in! Just my kind of recipe, and one that went well with the theme!Dark Chocolate Oat & Walnut Pudding

So Good for You!
Oats are big on anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that battle skin probs, and they work as a natural moisturizer. Dark chocolate repairs dry skin, shields against UV rays, erases fine lines and wrinkles, adds shine to locks, and promotes hair growth!

I did another interesting dessert in a glass for a magazine I write for. It was a Cranberry Cocktail Fruit Jelly, which appeared in Abraxas NU this December. The recipe is festive, it’s fun and it’s make ahead! See…
Cranberry Tropical Fruit Jelly Page_2On another note, I was thrilled to be featured in the VOGUE India, Food & Drink Guide 2015 … doing what I like to do best! The guide showcased ‘food bloggers who are excellent photographers’. Yours truly found mention there!

cats

Vogue India, Food Guide 2015

Cheers to the new year. What is your favourite ‘dessert in a glass’ OR favourite way to serve dessert?

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

 

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