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Taste lies in the dip. Coconut and Peanut Chutney

I used to hear that having a child, is like a rebirth for the mum. Well I never understood till I experienced. The body transforms and undergoes so much that no words can do justice to the emotional and physical transition. It takes time to absorb it all. The perplexity of the challenge. And one such challenge to see your reflection in the mirror.

I have been blessed with 2 lovely kids. Which is a subtle and beautiful way of saying, that I was hit by this catastrophe twice. Can't say which was a harder blow, but the combination of both, left me in a body, which looks alien to my older self. Yet its the only one I am in twenty hours a day, seven days a week. How I wish I could just change into a better looking and fitting me. Yeah, wish!!!

So here I'm shying from the mirror, even after 2.5 years of my 2nd pregnancy. I know holding to this reason seems like such a lame excuse, when you have such diva mums around. Each one more ravishing than the other, leaner and fitter than even the Shipa Shettys of the world. But then my story, is much my own, as is my body. It won't change just by looking at anyone else. The change has to come from within. In this crazy schedule of juggling kids and their schedules and their tantrums, the effort of bringing a lifestyle change is not easy. Yet is, when the mind-shift changes.

Thankfully my alien body and not so alien mind, have found solace in making that extra effort for the change. So when I would not even hear of the word diet, yet few good things are happening in my kitchen:
  • Olive oil has replaced sunflower/canola oil.
  • Whole wheat atta flour is fortfied with soya/oats and ragi flour.
  • Meals are becoming more high protein-low carb.
  • Whole wheat flour is used in baking too
  • Snacks are becoming healthier with boiled chickpeas, popcorn, or roasted foxnuts.
  • Fruits are being eaten more
  • And water consumption is definitely on a high.
Rest is work-in-progress :)

While we try to follow many western trends and diet plans to loose weight or to become fit, we sometimes ignore the simple Indian food that can help us in doing so. One such great dish is Idli – with only 39 calories, per idli. Idlis contain no fat, no saturated fat and no cholesterol. So why are we not having more of it??

Today I'm going to share two delicious chutneys, to relish your yummy idlis with. One is the common coconut chutney and the other not so famous peanut chutney. Both are great to have idli and dosas and are really easy to make.

Coconut Coriander Chutney Recipe:

  • Blend together - 1 bunch cleaned coriander leaves (thick stalks removed) + 1/2 cup freshly grated coconut + 1 tbsp roasted chana / 1 tbsp sattu ka atta + 2 green chillies 
  • Once blended, add salt to taste and a squeeze of lime. Add water to adjust consistency. 
  • Prepare tempering, by heating 1/2 tbsp oil. Add one dry red chilly and 1 tsp mustard seeds and 2-3 curry leaves. Add this tempering to the prepared chutney. 

Tempering is optional. 
The ratio of coconut and coriander can be varied as per liking.
You can also add curd, to adjust consistency.
You can make the chutney as smooth or as coarse as you prefer.

Peanut Chutney Recipe:

  • Dry roast 1/2 cup peanuts. When slightly cold, remove the skins. 
  • Add skinless roasted peanuts, 2 dry red chillies and 1 clove of garlic to a grinder and make a bit coarse paste, with little water. Add 1 tbsp tamarind pulp and blend again.
  • Now add salt to taste, pinch of sugar and 1/4 tsp chaat masala. Add water to adjust consistency. 
  • Prepare tempering, by heating 1/2 tbsp oil. Add 1 tsp mustard seeds and 2-3 curry leaves. Add this tempering to the prepared chutney. 
Tempering is optional. 
You can add pinch of turmeric powder, to get bit of color in this pale chutney. 
Using sugar is also optional.
You can make the chutney as smooth or as coarse as you prefer.

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Chana Masala for hearty brunch

"Staying connected is easy. But connecting truly is not."

My phone beeps, and even while cooking, my fingers move mindlessly to check the notification. I'm trying to teach multiplication to my son, and once again the phone beeps. My phone flashes lovely pics of my schoolmate's daughter's birthday party. Before I even realize, I have “liked” the image and written some generic message on her wall, while my son is waiting for the next instruction. Seems like my phone has become the most privileged one; getting the most undivided attention at all hours of the day. However mundane and meaningless the trigger of that beep is.

My social world is expanding. At least in the virtual world. I am connected to everyone possible. From childhood classmates, to forgotten relatives. From neighbourhood mums to hobby groups. From blogger buddies to my son's batch mates' mothers. Yes everyone. But I wouldn't even know the surname of many or birthdays of most. And just forget about knowing anything about their nature, likes or personalities. After all we are just 'socially connected'. Yes that's how I define these virtual relationships. Though it might be mundane, yet a necessity. To be connected to a world outside your four walls. Specially when you are in a foreign country, away from your loved ones.

But like in all things, balance is the keyword here. Its very easy to fall prey to the trappings of social network, and to stop appreciating the world around. To respond to the beeps than to notice the expressions of the people around. To replace the real for the virtual. And that's when you need to switch off the gadgets, and go for a walk. Breathe the fresh air and smell the roses. And to have a real conversation.

Thankfully, I am blessed to have good company in Dubai. Friends, with whom I can chat and laugh and have coffee. Mostly with kids, when they play endlessly. But sometimes without too, where we are not distracted by the antics of the little ones.

Last month I hosted one such brunch at my place. After all this is something, which you cannot relish virtually. The menu was a mouth watering Punjabi one – kulcha chola, hariyali paneer tikka, mango lassi and brownies. Even writing that menu, is making me crave for more :) Wish I was able to take more pics, before it all vanished.

Chana Masala/ Amritsari Pindi Chola Recipe
(A Punjabi style spicy chola/chickpea semi dry curry. Perfect with soft kulchas, naan or even parathas)

1/2 cup chola/ chickpeas (soaked overnight)

2 tbsp oil
1 bay leaf
1 black cardamom
2 cloves
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 large onion, finely chopped

1 tsp ginger- garlic paste
2 green chillies, slit lengthwise
3 medium tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato puree/paste
Salt, to taste
Pinch of sugar
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1.5 tsp Chola Masala/ chaat masala 

1/2- 1 tsp red chilli powder

1 tsp garam masala
1/2 -1 teaspoon of tamarind paste/ amchur powder/lemon juice

1 tsp kasturi methi (crushed)
2 tsp tea brewed in 1/2 cup water or 1-2 tea bags

For serving:
Chopped onion, chopped coriander leaves, ginger strips and lemon slices

  1. Pressure cook chickpea with salt and enough water, till done. (about 4 whistles).
  2. In a pan, heat oil. Add whole spices (bay leaf, black cardamom and cloves) to the hot oil. Let it fry then add the cumin seeds, and let it sizzle. Then add the chopped onion and ginger garlic paste. Saute well, till light brown.
  3. Then add the chopped tomatoes. And the dry spices (coriander powder, chola masala, cumin powder, red chilly powder and pinch of salt and sugar). Cook on medium high heat, till tomatoes are soft and masalas are cooked and oil separates.
  4. Add tomato paste and tamarind paste/amchur powder (mango powder), and cooked chickpea. Let the get well blended with the chola. Cook for 5 mins. Taste and adjust salt and spices.
  5. Now add the brewed and strained tea and dried kasturi methi and over and cook for few mins. The color will get darker. Add more tea if you prefer darker color. Finish off with garam masala and squeeze of meon.
  6. Garnish with chopped onion and coriander leaves. Serve with warm kulcha or bhatura or naan. Its delicious in every way. 

  • Like most Indian curries, this one too is a perfect amalgamation of all flavours – salty, spicy, sour and sweet. So do taste and balance the flavours, as per liking.
  • You can add any souring agent, tamarind is the best, though bit strong os we prefer amchur (mango powder). Even lemon juice does the work.
  • Dry pomegranate/ anardana adds a unique flavour to this dish. But in absence of that, a good variety of Chola Masala helps. Every masala blend will be different, so while using one, keep a check on other spices. I prefer to start with less and add more, as needed.
  • Tea is what gives this chola the characteristic black color. You can add tea bags in the pressure cokker, while cooking chola or add later (as I did). But if you prefer non-black curry, skip tea and add 1/2 tsp turmeric powder.

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11 easy sweet treats for Holi

My dreams are not black & white. They are in turquoise, peach and lime green. Yes in specific shades of my favourite colors. My wardrobe is the same. Not segmented by styles, but by swatches of colors. These myriad shades, fill my life with umpteen emotions. With love, care, bliss, solitude, laughter and so much more...

So when there's a festival of colors, then it has to be on top of my list. Holi, is one such festival, we all look forward to. A festival, to celebrate life in all its colors. Full on.

And on another sweet note, the blog gets a rebranding and its own domain. Taste Junction is now Taste Melanger, and here's the new logo. Hope you like it.

So here I'm compiling some really easy and yummy sweet dishes for this special occasion. Plan ahead and I'm sure each one of you can create a lovely spread, made with love and warmth. 

Wishing all of you and your family a very Happy Holi in advance. Have a colorful dream!

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Welcome to the sweet world of chocolates

It's the perfect muse in the world of taste. It's bitter-sweet taste tantalizes the taste buds and the satiny finish and creamy texture, takes ecstasy to a new level. It inspires the culinary gurus to create an array of desserts, and becomes centre stage at every spread and gatherings. Yes we are talking about the sinful chocolate here.
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Welcome the new year with comfort of old - Swedish Visiting Cake

Welcome 2015. Welcome January. You are one lucky chap. The rest of the months act funny, play pricey, bring lots of mixed goodies and earn a bad name. But never you. You are always the goodwill ambassador, whom everybody loves to welcome in their home. After all, you bring the ray of hope with you along with announcement of the new year. We love to wait for you, to say goodbye to the year gone bye, and to get ready for new set of excitements and events of our lives. Yes you really are one lucky chap!

Our family always found picnics to be a great way to welcome the new year. The breeze in the air along with the winter sunshine is just the picture postcard way of a perfect family day. At least in Dubai, where this season is too good to be true. Not too cold, to pack us inside, not too warm to make us isolated from the pleasure of winter. Just pitch perfect. So a holiday is one where the whole city can be found in the outdoors. Mall visits can wait till scorching summer, when we would be forced to hide. Till then out we go....

And as comforting are the traditions of mid night parties on new year eve, and picnics on bright new day, same comfort we solicit from food most of the times. The sweet taste of freshly home baked cake, just soothes your senses to a comfort zone. Like the friend you had grown up with. Whom you can bank forever. At any time of the day and night. This recipe is also like that. Unpretentious, bankable and comforting.

The recipe of Swedish Visiting Cake was shared by the baking goddess Dorie Greenspan in her book, and she mentioned that it was friend's mother's recipe. Thanks so much lovely lady, where ever you are, for sharing, this gem of a recipe which is sheer buttery goodness with a sweet topping of almonds and sugar and smells heavenly of vanilla and lemon zest. Now if you are wondering about the rationale behind the name of the cake, then that's an easy one. This delightful cake is so easy to whip, that you can bake it right when you see visitors approaching. And it would be ready by the time they settle down for a cup of coffee. Intrigued? Get your baking pan out then.

Swedish Visiting Cake Recipe
An easy, buttery and delicious tea cake, which can whipped in a jiffy!
Recipe Source - Dorie Greenspan

  • 1 cup + 1 tbsp sugar (for sprinkling)
  • 1 tsp zest of lemon/orange
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla 
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 120gm butter (melted and cooled)
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 tbsp choco chips 
  1. Preheat oven at 180 degree. Line an 8/9 " baking pan
  2. Take a large bowl and rub lemon zest to sugar. Add eggs, one at a time and whisk well, after each addition.
  3. Add salt and flavourings.
  4. Add the flour and stir till mixed. Then fold the melted butter to it. Do not over mix.
  5. Scrape batter to prepared pan. Top with almonds and choco chips (if using) an sprinkle sugar on top.
  6. Place in oven and bake for about 25-30 mins. Place outside for cooling.
  7. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Note - Some melted butter will remain on top of batter, unmixed and that's fine.
Use of cardamom and choco chips are not part of the exact recipe. 

Sending this yummy cake to the Bake Fest#39 being hosted by Vardhini of Cook's Joy.

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Festive Baking - Croissants

Reposting this old post for the Bake Fest. Enjoy!

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Virtual Festive Party - Bake Fest #38

The world of blogosphere works on the same principles like the real world in many ways. You make friends, you share joys and sorrows, you connect and you celebrate! Even in this virtual world we make ways to share the joy of good food, the aroma of our kitchen through virtual events. Such events not only bring strangers closer, but also makes us familiar with new and appetising recipes. So let's welcome one such yummy event - Bake Fest!

Started by Vardhini of Cook's Joy and a dear friend, this series has been running successfully and now is in the 38th edition. I'm sure with the festive season here with Xmas and New Year, there's going to be lots of yummy baking in your kitchen. So simply share it here, for a great party!

The event runs from 1st December to 31st December. The rules of entries are: Dec 1st - Dec 31st.
1. Send in any recipe that has been baked / broiled.
2. Only vegetarian or vegan recipes please. I normally accept eggs in baking and hence eggs are allowed.
3. Usage of the logo is appreciated as it helps spread the word.
4. Link to this post and Vardhini's Bake Fest announcement page. 
5. If sending an old entry, it needs to be re-published with the links.
6. You can send in any number of new entries and a maximum of 2 old entries.

If facing a problem in posting, then mail me at - anamika.arun@gmail.com. Looking forward to some yummy treats! Happy Baking!!

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Souqs, Sea and Skyline: Doha - Travel Diary

“Round the corner there may wait, a new road or a secret gate.” Tolkein

I had it all planned. And then “Life” happened.

That should be the summary of my life. But no, not in a sad, remorseful way. But in a beautiful reflective way. Only when we embrace the unexpected, we experience anew. And this is exactly what happened to me last week. A sudden trip to Doha. As guests of Qatar Tourism Authority.

It was a mundane day. Rather a bad day. A day when you are home sick, brought to extremes by your little kids. When you think, nothing is right. Yes one of those days, which every mommy can relate so very well. And then I saw this e-mail, in my inbox. To quote, “I am contacting you on behalf of Qatar Tourism Authority. We are very inspired and impressed by your blog, and would like to invite you for a trip to Qatar on the occasion of the Qatar Summer Festival 2014
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A crowd pleaser - Paneer Makhni

 The beautiful garden of the resort was glistening with the golden lighting. The drinks were getting mixed flamboyantly, the pretty ladies were elegantly showing off their solitaires and the music was trying to find its audience. As the party was getting warmed up, the sublime quietness couldn't be mistaken.

At that very precise moment, she entered. Dressed to kill, in that bold yet so sophisticated red dress. The white stilettos, added not just height, but lot of grace and poise to the demure beauty. Many pairs of eyes turned quickly to greet, while others preferred to show ignorance; while making a mental note to know her in person. 
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