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Archive for the ‘Dips and Spreads’ Category

Preserved Labneh (Labneh Korat)

In Dips and Spreads, on the side, Preserves, Under 30 min!, Vegetarian on May 28, 2016 at 4:08 pm

labnek korat 10

Labneh is a staple in my fridge. It is versatile and we love to lather it on to toasted bread or roti for a quick breakfast on the run, or serve it with crackers over drinks. Imagine my delight when on my recent trip to Jordan I discovered that it was possible to ‘pickle’ it! This meant I could share my love for both, labneh and pickles, with friends in one jar!

At home, we are not drinking much milk these days and I end up turning most of it into dahi.  When I run out of containers to make dahi in and it’s staring at me from every shelf in the fridge, it’s time for labneh-making. Now, it seems I have an even better deal with these labneh balls. I have served them earlier as cheese balls rolled in nuts and spices but didn’t know that I could put them in a jar, drown them in olive oil and have another pickle of sorts on my hand. They have their own name too – Labneh Korat (Balls of Labneh!). They make a handy addition to a breakfast or mezze spread.

So here is this traditional Levantine recipe for my pickle and preserve loving readers. To prepare the labneh for making balls it needs to be drained longer than for making a regular creamy spread; 12 hours or overnight should do the job. Place a large piece of muslin over a non-reactive pot and tip dahi into it, mix in a good amount of salt – most of it will drain away anyway with the whey. Tie into a bundle and hang to drain overnight. Untie and transfer the drained dahi into a bowl. Taste and mix in more salt, if needed. Labneh served in Jordan is extremely salty which also helps preserve it for longer. Preserved this way it can stay for six months to a year! Read the rest of this entry »


Hemp Seed Pesto

In Dips and Spreads, on the side, Under 30 min!, Vegetarian on March 2, 2016 at 2:42 pm
hemp pesto 04

hemp pesto

Last week I made this pesto, my first, for dressing the fresh pasta we were planning to make later for the Simply Italian Workshop. I didn’t realise till I opened the blog that the previous post had also featured this little-used ingredient. The pesto is very good and I’m going to go ahead and share the recipe here anyway. Get your hands on native bhangjeera, many times cheaper than the nuts of the Pinyon Pine (some species of which are now threatened). It is also a great way to use up all that wonderful basil growing in your pots right now because spring will be over soon and the basil gone all to seed. It’s handy for making a quick sauce for pasta, to use in sandwiches, and also for spearing on fresh dinner rolls.

red and green pasta

red and green pasta

red white and green pasta

making fresh pasta

Red, white, and green – we made three kinds of pasta (no pasta machine) for the workshop! Read the rest of this entry »

Peanut Sambal

In Chutneys, Dips and Spreads, on the side, Tea Party, Under 30 min! on August 25, 2011 at 10:20 am

peanut sambal

[As is usual, this post has been a few days in writing…]

I hope you are having a great feast today on our beloved Krishna’s day of birth.  Today we celebrate a God whose myth recognizes and cherishes much in our very flawed human lives: the innocence of childhood, a mother’s love, the exuberance of youth, trusted friendships, the power of love, and duty above all.  He has been the inspiration for artists, musicians, and writers through ancient time and present.  His love of food, particularly fresh churned butter, laddoo, and of course, Sudama’s sattu makes him a legendary foodie as well.  While today your feast may consist only of vegetarian, grain-free dishes, tomorrow you might want to have a different party.

On most weekend evenings TH and I sit ourselves down with the tipple of choice and munchies such as these on the side.  There is usually a dip: fresh-made tomato salsa or tzatziki.  On Sunday, when the maid gets her day off , I celebrate my freedom from having to supervise her.  I know – you can’t live with them, and you can’t live without them.  In any case, I am planning to get the maid out of my kitchen for good.  She has been sick and out of circulation for the last three months and I have honestly felt more in charge of my time since I don’t need to disrupt my time in the office to plan her work!  It is so much more efficient when I plan for myself.

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The Mangoes are Sour

In Chutneys, Dips and Spreads, From the Garden, Low Fat, on the side, Preserves, Tea Party, Under 30 min!, Vegetarian on May 20, 2008 at 8:29 pm

chopped mango

A big chunk of my readers live outside India. And all of them will appreciate how I have tried not to rub salt on their mangoes wounds this year. There has been no talk of mangoes, whatsoever, on this blog so far this year; no debate on which mango is the King, or that mango is King.

But ’tis the season and you all have access to reasonably good unripe sour mangoes. Sour mangoes are loved all over Asia, cooked with dal, with vegetables (it is the perfect foil for bittergourd), or enjoyed as a relish such as Pel’s nam prik wan kap mamuang khiew. And when you don’t want to fuss, just slice them up, dip in salt, and taste nirvana. Not as much fun today when my teeth sour much too quick, but a favourite summer activity when we were kids. Read the rest of this entry »

Greek Cucumber Salad

In Dips and Spreads, Low Fat, on the side, Under 30 min!, Vegetables on July 25, 2007 at 11:12 pm

greek cucumber salad
This is my son’s favourite salad. And it is, perhaps, the oldest recipe in my repertoire. I read the recipe in National Geographic Kid’s, NatGeo’s magazine for children, when I was about 13 years old, and have been making it since.

Yes, it is very much like the Indian cucumber raita. But with a twist. This raita includes lime juice, which I had thought odd, since dahi is already a little tart. But am I glad my young mind didn’t decide to omit it! I have a rule of sorts – the first time around I try to stick to a recipe as much as possible, substituting only if an ingredient is unavailable.

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Mango Jam

In Dips and Spreads, Fruit, Low Fat, Preserves on July 17, 2007 at 8:09 am

 mango jam
Nothing compares to the taste of organically grown fresh produce from your own garden. It is seasonal, it has ripened naturally, and made it to your table with the smallest ecological footprint possible.

But if the bounty is large you may be left with a lot even after you have shared it with friends, family, neighbours, and house help. That is when you fall back on the age old methods for preserving fresh produce. Sun-drying, and freezing are the easiest.

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A Delhi Summer – On the Streets

In Dips and Spreads, Eating Out, Low Fat, on the side, Ruminations and rants, Tea Party, Travel, Under 30 min!, Vegetables on May 16, 2007 at 8:10 am

It is not easy to sum up an old city like Delhi, with all the layering, in one post. And I am not planning to attempt it.

In this city of 10 million people there is no getting away from the crowd. There are people everywhere, and they continue to pour in – from smaller cities and the villages. The biggest influx into Delhi was in 1947, during the Partition of the country, when many Hindus and Sikhs from West Punjab (now in Pakistan) sought refuge.

It is only natural that a city 3000 years old has imbibed influences from all over the world, and these are reflected in its culture – art and architecture, language, and of course, in its cuisine. The Persian influence is prominent in the Mughlai cuisine, though the Punjabi flavours predominate today. But whosoever came and settled here had to deal with the hot and dusty summers.

An Amaltas in all its glory

Not that that is an entirely bad thing. How else would the mango 🙂 be so sweet? While the temperate world revels in its fall colours, we have a green green spring followed by the vibrant summer. The sun makes our greens shine, the reds brighter, and the yellows sunnier. Who can rival the Gulmohur (Delonix regia) or the Amaltas (Cassia fistula), when it comes to a show of colour?


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Mint and Walnut Chutney

In Chutneys, Dips and Spreads, Kashmiri, Low Fat, Under 30 min! on April 17, 2007 at 9:15 pm

mustard fields
Mustard fields, Punjab

Spring arrives early in the Northern Plains of India. The Hindu calendar marks Basant Panchami as the first day of spring. Basant coincides with blooming mustard fields, and it is from these perhaps, that the colour yellow has come to symbolize spring to us. If you have ever seen a mustard field in spring you will know the magic I am talking about. Reading about spring and cherry blossoms on other blogs also reminded me of Kashmir. Blossoms of the cherry and the almond trees herald the arrival of spring in the valley.


If anyone likes warmer weather it is my potted mint. After looking sad all winter it perks up at the sight of spring. As the bright green leaves begin to grow they find their way into a lot of things in my kitchen – omelettes and scrambled eggs, cold soups and salads, refreshing jal jeera, and into many a chutney. All of you probably have your favourite recipe for mint chutney. As do I.

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Whole Wheat Pita and some Labneh

In Bread, Dips and Spreads, Low Fat, on the side, Tea Party, Under 30 min! on April 11, 2007 at 3:10 pm


The Arab-middle east-North Africa region, even the Mediterranean, have much that can be thought of as a common food heritage with the Indian subcontinent. The use of spices such as cumin, peppercorns, nutmeg, and bayleaf provide for the linking aromas, and the prominence of lentils and beans as a major ingredient in everyday food also speaks of a shared history. I find the similarities even more striking with North Indian food.

It is a cuisine for which the Indian palate needs no gradual tuning. We can embrace it in a bear hug the very first time we meet.

Besides the similarity in the use of spices, lentils and beans, as also vegetables, I find the plentiful use of yoghurt and the variety in flatbreads another reason for its easy adaptability to the Indian meal time. Even when meat is part of the meal, it is never the meal itself, and will always be served with some bread akin to out roti/parantha, and maybe a small bowl of dahi, the kind that has become better known as Greek-style yoghurt.

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Tomato Chutney

In Chutneys, Dips and Spreads, Low Fat, on the side, Preserves, Tea Party, Under 30 min!, Vegetables on March 30, 2007 at 10:38 pm

tomato chutney

Tomayto-tomahto, tamahtar-timahtar. What a vegetable! Yes, yes, I know, technically it is a fruit, a berry. And a berry good one it is 🙂 . So good that even Kashmiris have begun to include it into their traditional recipes, tamatar-baingan being among my Dad’s favourites. But there’s no Kashmiri recipe today. Let’s do another one for ‘the left-side’, the side reserved on the Maharashtrian thali for pickles, relishes, and chutneys.

There is this tomato chutney I make that uses just a few ingredients. I watched Sanjeev Kapoor make it many years ago on his very popular show Khaana Khazaana. I didn’t note down the recipe but since the ingredient list was short I was able to make a very decent chutney when I tried it soon after. I have made it many times since but always going by ‘feel’ as most of us who have been cooking for a considerable time tend to do. When you do that, it becomes hard to write recipes down. This blog is becoming a repository where I must commit to measurable units. Already, I check here for a couple of my own recipes! So, today I measured as I went about adding the ingredients.

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