Cherry Tomatoes

Pics of freshly harvested Cherry Tomatoes from the Garden by Arun Shanbhag
Freshly harvested cherry tomatoes from a friend’s garden. A benefit of watching friend’s house is you get to pick all the ripe vegetables. Delicious! Thank you Vikas.


See more vegetables and fruits: Continue reading “Cherry Tomatoes”

Tambdo Phovu – Red Flattened Rice, v2

Pics how to make Tambdo Phovu poha, red flattened rice by Arun Shanbhag

(During processing these pics, I remembered I had previously written on Making Tambdo Phovu; so, edited the text and added in newer pics.)

Phovu (beaten or flattened rice) freshly mixed with few spices is a staple breakfast of Konkanis. We grew up eating tambdo phovu nearly every day (tambdo for red comes from the crushed red chillis in this recipe). When visitors arrive unannounced, aunts or grandma would quickly mix this snack, usually takes less than 5 minutes to prepare. Since this is simply mixed, it is also called kāláyilo (mixed) phovu. Many households use phova piTTo (powdered spice mix for phovu), but we made this from scratch. Continue reading “Tambdo Phovu – Red Flattened Rice, v2”

Mango Manna

Its mango season and I’m reposting this from a few years ago. Gosh, how I miss shopping mangoes in Mumbai. A case of the best.
Crates of Aapus Mangoes at Jyotiba Phule Mandi, Crawford Market by Arun Shanbhag

In India, the scorching heat is but a small price to pay for luscious aapus mangoes. My mother was irked I skipped lunches and feasted instead on four mangoes, and a few more after dinner. During the last week, I was gulping 6-8 aapus a day, hoping to be sick of them by the time I returned. Alas, in the cafeteria today my eyes searched for mangoes, knowing full well there weren't any. Continue reading “Mango Manna”

Iggy’s Bread: A Photo Essay

Iggy's Bread, Boston; © Arun Shanbhag
Iggy’s Bread IS my favorite bakery in town. Their breads and bread rolls are hearty and made of simple ingredients with no chemicals or preservatives (see comparison at end). My daily staple is their Whole wheat sourdough round, which goes well with Nutella, or even Trader Joe’s crunchy salty peanut butter and fruit preserves. They also serve home made sandwiches and unique pizza creations, … and it is a beautiful store fronting their bakery. Continue reading “Iggy’s Bread: A Photo Essay”

Video: Meera Enjoying Limbu Soda

Meera enjoys going to restaurants. She sits on the table and holds court; surveys other patrons and call out to them: Aye! At our favorite joint: the Kamats Restaurant in Colaba, the wait staff will entertain Meera while we eat. 🙂 Meera loves their idlis, poLo (dosas) and anything we drink.

One of our favorite drinks is the Limbu soda – sparkling lemonade. Meera loves it too. Enjoy the range of Meera’s expressions in this 46 sec video where she sips Limbu soda. *anti nazar* spray.

Notice Meera’s earring. These traditional Konkani “paakLi” were made for M when she was born. Her mother had saved them and got them cleaned and pointed for Meera.

Note: Limbu paani is the plain lemonade and available on most Mumbai streets.

Continue reading “Video: Meera Enjoying Limbu Soda”

Berry Delicious Thick Yogurt

Berry delicious thick yogurt Shrikhand
Ganga’s post on thick yogurt got me salivating. I love shrikhand, especially from Parsi Dairy Farm, Mumbai, but I shudder just thinking of the calories it packs. I’d have to run 5 miles just to burn a cup of their nectarine shrikhand! No thank you! Here is my attempt at making a low-calorie, healthy, dessert. There is such a thing!
Continue reading “Berry Delicious Thick Yogurt”

Turmeric Milk: Soothing Elixir

haldi turmeric ginger milk by Arun ShanbhagTurmeric is an ubiquitous indian spice and a common ingredient of pre-mixed curry or masala powders. Turmeric (haldi, Konkani; haridra, Sanskrit) is also an essential component of fish marinade.

While I take for granted the turmeric used in cooking, I distinctly remember my grandma preparing scalding hot, turmeric milk whenever we had a sore throat or cold. And grandma admonished us to sip it hot, letting it course its way down the back of our throats. Haaiiii! She had alchemized this common root, to a piping hot, golden elixir, which not only got us back to school the next day (unfortunately), but also back on the playground (v good). Something magical about that turmeric milk! If she only knew!
Continue reading “Turmeric Milk: Soothing Elixir”

Quick Lunch: Vegetable Pattis Roll-up

Vegetable Roll-Up

When I work mornings from home, I’ll make a quick lunch before rushing off to work; usually a sandwich or a roll-up.
Continue reading “Quick Lunch: Vegetable Pattis Roll-up”

Shira – Cream of Wheat Pudding: Ultimate Comfort Food

Shira cream of wheat pudding Soji halwa Arun Shanbhag

I could have a tough day at work, or come in cold and shivering from shoveling snow. On days when things just don’t go right and you start wondering if the Universe is conspiring against you. I walk in the front door and get a whiff of roasting wheat, … Yaay! Its Shira for dessert! What problems? Continue reading “Shira – Cream of Wheat Pudding: Ultimate Comfort Food”

DuddaLi: Arrowroot Pudding

Indian Dessert Arrowroot Pudding

Arrowroot powder is the starch component of the perennial tuber, marantha, found in tropical forests. Starch from these tubers is believed to be of a higher quality compared to potato starch or corn starch, as it has a neutral taste when used in cooking. Continue reading “DuddaLi: Arrowroot Pudding”

Omega-3s and Grilled Salmon: Food for the Heart and Brain

Salmon being marinated with spices for grilling by Arun Shanbhag
Come spring, I can’t wait to fire up the grill and throw some salmon on it. Not only is grilled salmon one of my favorite, salmon is also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. These essential fatty acids improve heart health, have anti-inflammatory properties and as recent research informs, improve brain function. Yaay! Continue reading “Omega-3s and Grilled Salmon: Food for the Heart and Brain”

Phova Dosa: Beaten Rice Crepes

I am well-fed. Thanks to all foodies on my “Food to Live For” Blogroll (see sidebar), M is inspired to try various dishes. After adapting Sailu’s recipe for our Boston home, M made these delicious Phova poLo with our own onion chutney for brunch.

Phovu (beaten or flattened rice) is a staple of Konkanis and I have previously posted our traditional breakfast, Tambdo Phovu.

The poLo in this recipe reminded us of the konkani delicacy surNoLi. The surNoLi recipe is very similar to the poLo here, with the addition of soyi (grated coconut), the batter being fermented more and the poLo laid heavier (daaTh). In another variation, the batter is mixed with jaggery resulting in a sweet surNoLi.

Pics of making Beaten rice crepes or Phova Dosas by Arun Shanbhag
Continue reading “Phova Dosa: Beaten Rice Crepes”

Fast Food: Murugan Idli

“Fast Food, Coz Enlightenment is Too Damn Slow!”

In Chennai, after our migraine-inducing Saree Shopping binge, our driver recommended we try Mugugan Idli. A very interesting place! There was a long line and we had to wait about 30 minutes to get a table. But once inside, the service was very fast. Despite it being a Idli place, we all ended up ordering different types of dosas! In lieu of plates, servers bring banana leaves, which we wipe clean. Another serves several different types of chutneys on each leaf (plate). The dosas are brought on a tray and a server (with gloved hands) carefully places each dosa on our leaf.

M got this psychedelic Onion Uttappam. I was like: I want that! Mumbai-side, the onions are usually minced; here these sliced onions give it an artistic touch!
Picture of Onion Uttapam at Murugan Idli Shop Chennai
(click for larger image)
Continue reading “Fast Food: Murugan Idli”

Tambdo Phovu – Red Flattened Rice

Pics how to make Tambdo Phovu poha, red flattened rice by Arun Shanbhag

Phovu (beaten or flattened rice) freshly mixed with few spices is a staple of Konkanis. Growing up, we’d eat tambdo phovu (tambdo – red) nearly every day for breakfast. If not for the main dish, at least as a side. I prefer it sprinkled with a little sev, or served on the side (see pic below). When visitors arrive unannounced, the women would quickly mix this as a snack. Since this is simply ‘mixed’ it is also called Kalayile (mixed) phovu. Continue reading “Tambdo Phovu – Red Flattened Rice”

Raagi Bhakri

During summers in Bhatkal (Karnataka), every morning we were treated to Raagi-neru. A watery concoction of raagi ground with a bit of coconut and jaggery. My grandmother advised that this would keep our insides cool from the summer heat. We’d hurriedly gulp a few glasses and dash into the orchards, chasing dragon flies!

I recently saw two recipes for Raagi Roti (or Bhakri) and convinced M to give it a try.We followed two similar recipes; one by Latha from Yum Blog! and the other by Asha of Foodies Hope. There are slight variations, so go ahead and check them out.The bhakri had a nice earthy taste and was slightly gritty. The red onions and chillies gave it a nice zing and did not need any chutney to go with it. It did dry my mouth, and I gulped a couple of glasses of water and juice. I quickly chomped down two bhakris and was surprisingly full for the rest of the day. It sits strongly in your stomach. This ability to fill you must be an important reason why raagi is a staple amongst the poor laborers in Northern Karnataka. This would be a great snack to power you on a long hike.

Ingredients (essentially from Latha’s post)

  • Raagi flour – 1 cup; see making Fresh Raagi Flour
  • Cilantro, finely chopped – half bunch
  • Red onion, 1/2 of medium sized, finely chopped
  • Green chilly pepper, 2 finely chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • Method:

  • Mix ingredients in the least amount of water and knead into a smooth soft dough.
  • Set aside for 15 minutes.
  • Spread a few drops of oil on a hot tava (pan), place a ball of dough and pat it to a pancake. Try to get it as thin as possible.
  • It helps to rub oil on your fingers to prevent them sticking to the dough
  • Roast covered over medium heat
  • Flip and roast other side as well.
  • Don’t crisp, but leave soft.

A little background: Raagi is also called African millet or red millet, and was introduced into India four millenia earlier from Ethiopia. In Maharashtra it is called Nachani and in Konkani, we call it Nanchano. The raagi crop grows well in arid lands making it popular amongst farmers in parts of the dry Deccan plateau. The seeds once harvested are also resistant to insects and spoilage and another reason raagi has become a staple of farmers. And it unusually brings vital amino acids to an otherwise starchy diet.Give it a try! Eat Healthy!

Almond Pista Milk


Last year on my return from the Kailash Manasarovar yatra, I had a severe case of acid reflux which was affecting my throat and vocal chords. Apparently, eating foods cooked in an unknown quality of oils and lying in sleeping bags (without pillow) can cause this. Of course, my intense running also brings up stomach acid and aggravates it. In addition to medications and other dietary changes, my doctor recommended that I stop drinking coffee! I could not imagine starting my day without a double shot of espresso. But I loved running more. So for several months I drank green tea in the mornings (and yawned at my desk). I came upon Masala Milk Mix in the grocery store and loved its refreshing taste. My mother noted that it was easy to make the powder at home and that got me started on grinding my own Badam Pista Milk Mix.

Now, I start my day with a warm cup of Badam Pista Dudh. I still drink about half a cup of coffee after lunch. My acidity problems have been essentially resolved and I feel great.

Easy to make.
Continue reading “Almond Pista Milk”

Dill Idlis: A Konkani Delicacy

During this summer, we had parents, siblings and their families visiting. In addition to catching up on gossip, we were constantly eating various dishes that the women conjured up.

And they made one of my favorites, Dill Idlis (Dill is called Shaepi in Konkani). These idlis represent the marriage of the South Indian staple idli with the aromatic Dill, popular in coastal Maharashtra. Dill Idlis are primarily made along the northern coastal Karnataka (Konkan).

In making these idlis, the key is to retain the subtle taste and gentle aroma of dill, which is later complemented by warm tuup and honey while eating. So here is the brief recipe and a few pics.

Fresh Dill
Pics of Making Dill Idlis - steamed rice cakes by Arun Shanbhag
Continue reading “Dill Idlis: A Konkani Delicacy”

Idli Sambar: Its whats for brunch!

Idli Sambar: Its whats for brunch!

Of late, I was craving idlis. First it was Lakshmi, who tormented us with her pati's excellent idli making skills. Then at the Konkani Sammelan we had idli sambar for breakfast, and I only got one serving! Considering the long lines, I felt guilty and did not go for seconds. *Yes sad!*

But the ever-vigilant M dearest noticed my silent suffering. She soaked the dal for two days, ground it, fermented if for a day and on Saturday morning made delicious idlis. She even made the perfect sambar, just the way I liked it – from scratch and by blending all the spices. And with lots of eggplant, peppers and potatoes. I like the gritty feed. No powders were used in the preparation of this sambar!

And yes! I went for seconds, … and thirds!

Sugarcane Fields: Making Jaggery

Photo of Farmer in rural india offering Jaggery or Gur by Arun Shanbhag
Farmer offering Jaggery or Gur in Karnataka

On a recent visit to India, we took a cab from Belgaum to Badami to see the exquisitely carved cave temples. The route goes through some of the most rural and poorest parts of North Karnataka, with whole families helping in tilling the fields, sowing, weeding and harvesting. See post on peanut farm. Sugarcane (kabbu) fields lined both sides of the country road. We passed this one with a small set-up to make jaggery (unrefined brown sugar, or gur) from the cane juice. Continue reading “Sugarcane Fields: Making Jaggery”

Badshah – King of Cold Drinks

Falooda at Badshah Cold Drink, Mumbai Arun Shanbhag

As kids growing up in South Mumbai, we often went to Crawford Market and environs for most of our shopping. Abdul Rehman St for stationery, Lohar Chawl for all our electrical stuff, Paidonii, Zaveri Bazar and wherever. To this day, the wide variety of things you can buy there amazes me. I saw my favorite 'Nutella,' much cheaper in Mumbai than here in Boston. 😦 My cousin and I walked till we dropped; then rested at > Badshah Cold Drinks.

This 100-year old institution has quenched millions of parched throats. It has the widest selection of fruit juices, milkshakes and icecreams. I spend a few minutes browsing the entire menu and as usual, end up ordering what I always order – Royal Falooda. Rose Syrup, vermicelli from maize flour, milk, sabjah (black seeds) and topped with vanilla icecream! Heavenly! My cousin brother tried the Mango Falooda! The bill was less than Rs 90 (< 2 USD).

Fruits arrayed behind the counter. Can you spot the peeping worker?
Falooda at Badshah Cold Drink, Mumbai Arun Shanbhag

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