comfort food

“One whiff of a savory aromatic soup and appetites come to attention. The steaming fragrance of a tempting soup is a prelude to the goodness to come. An inspired soup puts family and guests in a receptive mood for enjoying the rest of the menu.”
Louis P. De Gouy

Roasted Pumpkin SoupRoasted Pumpkin Soup … comforting, smooth, silky and delicious. I’ve been on a pumpkin high of late. Must be the season. I get drawn to vibrant orange pumpkins each time I visit the local market! The bright orange ones are HUGE, and then there are these little ‘green from the outside and yellow inside‘ ones. Pretty! This humble veggie holds a lot of promise, more promise than I have ever realised.

PumpkinPumpkin Pie is a said thing in our home, but now I am eagerly stepping out to explore and experiment further. Roasted Pumpkin Soup has been on my bucket list for a few years! Why? Because I enjoyed my first ever pumpkin soup with immensely talented and large hearted Jamie in London many years ago. We excitedly met for the Food Blogger Connect, one of the best get togethers of our blogging life. Nascent bloggers, a food centric conference, a relatively low key {as compared to today} meetup … the memories still alive in the head!

’twas a dream come true – Jamie, Meeta, Mowie, Jeanne, Hilda, Beth, Allesio, Pamela, Nic, Sunita. We met up day after day, night after night, eating like there was no tomorrow, splitting our sides like mad folk, painting downtown London red, getting lost incessantly, finding our way again, tripping along in the biting cold. Those were happy November days!

Roasted Pumpkin Soup There have been many food blogger conferences thereafter, loads I have read about, but this one was special! I still remember sharing a Pumpkin Soup with Jamie after a visit to the Marylebone Farmers’ Marketa soup I never forgot. There was a fantastic whole grain bread on the side too. While I still have to make the bread some day, the soup is what I have tried to recreate.

boquet garnieIt isn’t like the one we had that cold winter afternoon, yet the sentiments suddenly came alive. Oh the nostalgia! This is my style of roasted pumpkin soup … roasted pumpkin, a bone stock with gentle fennel and coriander {left over from stock from biryani}, a dash of cream and hints of green chilies! You can make a vegetarian version with vegetable stock if you like.

Roasted Pumpkin SoupGot huge thumbs up from the men at home. They had 2 huge bowls each, slurping through happily. The daughter isn’t a ‘soup person‘ so was excused! Strangely enough, I loved it cold! Must be the weather which has been quite warm of late.

[print_this]Recipe: Roasted pumpkin soup 
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Summary: Comforting bowlfuls of roasted pumpkin soup with delicate flavours of fennel and coriander, and hints of green chili.

Prep Time: 10minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

  • 50g onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 750g cooked fresh pumpkin puree
  • 1-2 green chilies, roughly chopped
  • 1ltr bone stock {or vegetable stock}
  • 75g low fat cream
  • Salt to taste
  • Olive oil {or butter}


  1. Heat the olive oil or butter in a large heavy bottom pan. Saute the chopped onions and garlic for a few minutes until fragrant.
  2. Add the pumpkin puree, green chilies and stock, and simmer for about 30 minutes.
  3. Season with salt, add the low fat cream. Blend once cool enough. Adjust seasoning if required.
  4. Season with freshly ground black pepper and fresh coriander leaves, sunflower or pumpkin seeds maybe a drizzle of cream.
  5. Serve with a crusty wholegrain bread.


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

“Ingredients are not sacred. The art of cuisine is sacred.”
Tanith Tyrr

Savoury Chicken GaletteIt was a savoury chicken galette waiting to happen, or maybe wanting to be baked. It’s a result of blogger interactions, loads of food talk, some food cravings, events missed and repented, flavours virtually thrown into the air and talked about….Savoury Chicken GaletteI missed a picnic a few weeks ago with the Delhi food bloggers bunch. There was so much talk about food, what who was making, baking, getting,  that I had pangs …not hunger pangs but pangs of missing out on something good!  The Great Cookaroo threw in yolks after yolks to make her to go pastry cream from Dorie Greenspans Baking with Julia. I had the book on the shelf. A favourite from a favourite food blogger who gifted it to me from Bangalore. {Thank you again Suma!}

Savoury Chicken Galette Then there was talk of pickled green garlic pesto which immediately threw my tastebuds in overdrive … that sounded drop dead delicious. I wanted some! My chance soon came as a bunch of us met again at the Ty.phoo Tea & Food pairing eventSangeeta  carried a bottle of pickled green garlic pesto for me.

Savoury Chicken Galette with green garlic pestoSmothered on a toast the next morning, it had a comforting homey feel! It had all the hints of the green chutney sandwiches my dad often made … beautiful flavours that teased the palette. As I sat in the kitchen, the laundry machine whirring punishingly in the background, I reached out for Baking with Julia! The book is a winner. Read it, bake from it, drool over it, learn from it. I wanted to bake something savoury that morning, and settled for Cheese & Tomato Galette!

Savoury Chicken Galette The galette dough was done in seconds, a Flo Baker recipe from the book. Don’t you love a dough that comes together in a heartbeat, is fuss free, smooth, pliable and uses pantry staples? I didn’t even need to rest it since it held beautifully, winter ensuring a fridge like cold kitchen. {Feedback from batch #2: An overnight rest in the fridge yields a pliable nice dough too.}

Savoury Chicken Galette I used everything I had on hand! Pickled green garlic pesto, mozzarella, chicken salami, then some roasted onion balsamic jam, cherry tomatoes, smoked sea salt, pepper. Finished it off with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and fresh garlic greens.

Savoury Chicken GaletteThe green garlic pesto was a bit spicy / chili for the younger fellow, but hit all the right spots with the daughter and husband who love everything chili! You can find the recipe for the Pickled Green Garlic Pesto {or lehsun ka achaar} on Sangeeta’s blog. Use extra virgin olive oil to get a more pesto like feel to it {as she did for my batch}, and reduce the chilies if you don’t like it too hot! BTW, Sangeeta does great personalised  diet plans too, so do stop by if you need one!

Savoury Chicken Galette You can do pretty much anything with a ‘pastry canvas’ like this. To keep the younger one happy, I made a second lot with roasted bell peppers and onions {roasting done in the Philips AirFryer, 10 minutes was all it took}, topped with sliced chicken sausages marinated briefly in a honey-mustard-garlic mix. Keep it vegetarian with roasted veggies, caramelised onion & garlic jam and feta, maybe tomatoes.  It’s smooth, fun to roll out, and even more fun to ruffle over the filling to give it the characteristic galette feel.


Recipe: Savoury Chicken Galette 
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Summary: A simple, crisp and delicious pastry base which can go sweet or savoury. This savoury rustic pie can hold varied combinations of toppings, vegetarian or non vegetarian, and is great for picnics, snack boxes. The savoury chicken galette can be assembled ahead of time, or even baked ahead and rewarmed in the oven briefly. Recipe adapted minimally from Baking with Julia. Makes 4 6″ galettes.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

  • Galette dough 
  • 80ml ice cold water
  • 45ml buttermilk
  • 120g plain flour
  • 25g cornmeal [makki ka aata]
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 90g butter, chilled cubed
  • Suggested toppings {a combination of any of the following}
  • Green garlic pesto {recipe here}
  • Mozzarella
  • Caramelised onion & garlic jam {recipe here}
  • Chicken salami, sausages etc
  • Cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Sliced and roasted bell peppers
  • Sliced onions {roasted with the bell peppers}
  • Green garlic stalks
  • Smoked sea salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil


  1. Galette Dough
  2. Place the flour, cornmeal and salt in bowl of food processor. Pulse briefly to mix, then add chilled butter and pulse briefly until you get an uneven mix from peas to breadcrumb size bits.
  3. With the mchine running, pour in the buttermilk, followed by most of the chilled water and process until a soft, moist dough forms.
  4. Remove, divide into 2, press into flat disks and chill for at least 2 hours.
  5. Assembling
  6. Preheat the oven to 200C.
  7. Divide each disk into two and roll out to about 8″ circles. I cut the edges round with a pastry cutter, though you could just leave it uneven.
  8. Line a shallow platter with the rolled out pastry hanging over the edges, fill it up as you like, beginning with mozzarella, then gently fold the edges over the filling around the sides.
  9. Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, garlic greens etc over the filling and bake for about 30-35 minutes until the pastry is crisp and golden.
  10. Transfer to a cooling rack, leave for at least 10 minutes, then slide off with a wide spatula. Serve warm or at room temperature with a scattering of garlic greens, fresh herbs etc.


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

“From morning till night, sounds drift from the kitchen, most of them familiar and comforting. On days when warmth is the most important need of the human heart, the kitchen is the place you can find it; it dries the wet sock, it cools the hot little brain.”

Creamy Chicken Pasta Bake Creamy Chicken Pasta Bake … this was one of those meals made on the trot, rummaging through the fridge, cleaning out whatever I could use. Then came the daughters’ call to her brother,  “Whatever she is making smells REALLY good“. One fork dug deep in later, “Man, this is GOOD! Wow!”

Creamy Chicken Pasta Bake It turned out to be an indulgent, comforting meal in a bowl for days like we are experiencing. Cold Cold Cold. Temperatures nearly dipping into the freezer, 1-2° C range, no central heating, hands as cold as ice. Cooking feels good, stirring a pot over a warm fire quite comforting. Chopping is ugh; then again, there needs to be a means to the end I guess. The upside? Loads of fresh winter vegetables. L O A D S!

Creamy Chicken Pasta Bake I’ve made the most of mushrooms, bell peppers and broccoli this season. Mushrooms are dicey though as the older teen cannot stand them, so I need to sneak them in. This time they hid under some lovely garlic butter and olive oil, then disappeared deep into Worcestershire sauce! Life does get so delicious sometimes….

Creamy Chicken Pasta Bake This was one of those times in the kitchen when I felt like The Pioneer Woman or then the Domestic Goddess. Every pat of  butter, every dribble of cream seemed justified in this incessantly cold weather. I cannot even begin to tell you how wonderful the kitchen smelt … warm, garlicky, buttery and oh-so-comforting! Sometimes that little bit of extra fat makes life so much more worthwhile.

Creamy Chicken Pasta Bake 7The mushrooms were kept veggie company with bell peppers and garlic greens. I love the added flavour garlic greens lend to a dish. Mushrooms and Worcestershire sauce also make for great pairing. I didn’t know that but tasting en-route endorsed it. For that matter rosemary, buttah and chicken make for great bedfellows too.

Creamy Chicken Pasta Bake The creamy chicken was meant to be served over pasta, but the kids woke up really late. That meant a late lunch so I figured I could bake it altogether briefly. It’s wonderful how the creamy sauce got into every little crevice of the pasta. A quick grating of mozzarella and a handsome dash of smoked paprika {from Juberfam & Mittal; excellent stuff} made us all sing out loud.

Juberfam & Mittal gourmet products  This is a good one bowl meal, warming, filling, indulgent with some oven roasted potato wedges on the side. Oh, and a warm broccoli salad too. Crisp, full of flavour and really nice. Thankfully, broccoli has ended the battle of the greens with the kids! They know 6-7 florets are ‘mandatory‘; now quite enjoy it. I am yet to win the battle of the cauliflower!

Broccoli SaladThe salad plate is a classic white one from Urban Dazzle. It’s reasonably priced and one that I really really like. Aesthetically designed, slightly tilted and handy to have on hand, it beautifully doubled up as a cake platter on my recent Tea Rose Fondant Cake.

Tea Rose Fondant Cake It’s got a nice rounded base which tends to hold any extra dressing juices. Keeps the salad from getting soggy.

Broccoli Salad The tilt towards the front gives it a good feel. I served a cold potato buttermilk salad in it a few days ago. That is one of our favourites and a great way to enjoy spuds! YUM!

Cold potato salad

Before I go on to the recipe, I’d like to thank Turmeric n Spice for having me over in her series “Inspiration form the Blogging Community“. I truly enjoyed being there.

[print_this]Recipe: Creamy Chicken Pasta Bake your picture

Summary: Creamy, cheesy, indulgent and comforting, this is a great one bowl meal for cold winter days. Make ahead and bake just before serving. Maybe you can do a broccoli salad and oven baked wedges alongside. Serves 6-8

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp extra vigin olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped fine
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • 200g button mushrooms, sliced fine
  • 750g chicken thigh tenders, cut into bite sized pieces
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 bell peppers {1red/1yellow}, chopped fine
  • 4-5 garlic greens, chopped fine with stalks
  • 1.5 tbsp plain flour
  • 1.5 cups plain milk
  • 200ml low fat cream {or half & half}
  • 50g cheddar, grated
  • 350g fusilli, cooked al dente
  • 100g mozzarella, grated
  • 1tsp smoked sweet paprika {from Juberfam & Mittal}


  1. Heat butter and olive oil in a heavy bottom pan. Add the chili flakes, dried rosemary and garlic. Saute until garlic turns light golden and fragrant.
  2. Add the mushrooms, sprinkle a little salt and saute over high heat until mushrooms turn golden brown and give up all their moisture. Add the Worcestershire sauce and mix well; then add the chicken tenders. Season with salt and pepper and saute over high heat until lightly browned.
  3. Sprinkle over the flour, mix to coat chicken pieces, and then pour in the milk. Stir continuously until the sauce thickens.
  4. Reduce heat to simmer, add the cream and grated cheddar and simmer for 5-7 minutes. 
  5. Stir in the chopped bell peppers and garlic greens, taste and adjust seasoning, then stir in the cooked pasta. 
  6. Divide the pasta and chicken mixture into serving dishes, casseroles etc, top with grated mozzarella, sprinkle over smoked paprika and some more garlic greens if you like.
  7. Bake at 180C for 15 minutes, allow to stand for 10 minutes and serve.

Recipe: Simple Broccoli Salad your picture

Summary: Crisp, flavourful brocolli salad.

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

  • 2-3 heads of broccoli, broken into florets
  • 1-2 tsp salt and 4-5 cups water
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Dressing
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, sliced fine
  • 1-2 tbsp pickled red & green peppers {or jalapenos}, sliced
  • 1 tbsp white sesame seeds
  • Sea salt & pepper


  1. Blanch the florets in boiling salted water for 2 minutes, drain well and toss in 1 tbsp of olive oil. Reserve.
  2. Dressing
  3. Heat remaining olive oil in small saucepan, add the garlic and sliced pickled peppers. Simmer until the garlic is fragrant and light golden.
  4. Add the sesame seeds and simmer until they turn light brown and begin popping.
  5. Pour over broccoli, toss, grind pepper over it, throw in some sea salt and serve warm or at room temperature.


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

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