Tag Archives: Mango

Good times are made of food and laughter

Nibbling a bar of chocolate, over a delightfully fat book, tucked into the window seat by the frangipani and bougainvillea. Heralding the various seasons of childhood – lightly salted and deliciously sour jamuns, biting into the year’s first mango or green apple, shelling water chestnut by the dozen. Standing by the ice-cream truck, making the all-important decision of which flavor to choose. The meal cooked by my grandma especially for me. Street food and ice lollies with friends, graduating to midnight feasts and food experiments gone wonderfully off-track. A hot cup of tea after being drenched in a sudden monsoon shower. The perfect afternoon, a languid picnic or a late lunch, with the setting sun lingering on to share the laughter. My best memories invariably involve some form of food, the clink of glasses, good conversation, broad smiles, and being perfectly content in the moment. As I am sure do yours. Do share,  in the comments, would love to listen to your favorite food memories.

This weekend was spent adding to list of good moments over home-made meals. The family got together over drinks and dinner, followed by a sleep-in breakfast and some lazy splashing in the first swim of the summers. While the brother-in-law put together the Bloody Marys, I made grilled zucchini nachos topped with roasted tomato salsa, refried beans and a cheesy yoghurt dip. The salsa and the dip have sort of become my signature potluck dishes and this weekend also marked a first in which a neighbor friend asked for my recipe. For the record, I wrote them out on pretty paper, and successfully resisted the strong temptation to stick on cut-outs of golden stars and hearts. It is not every day that I get asked for my recipes.

Grilled Zucchini Nachos with Salsa and Refried Beans
Grilled Zucchini Nachos with Salsa and Refried Beans

Roasted tomato salsa. Adapted from here.
Roast over an open flame, three large tomatoes, till charred. Peel and chop. Heat some oil in a pan and cook till soft, one chopped onion and some green chilies. Add the tomatoes along with some vinegar, salt, pepper, tomato puree, and chopped coriander. Cook for two minutes. Chill till serving.

Refried beans. Adapted from here.
Soak overnight 1 cup of red-kidney beans. Pressure cook, for five whistles, the beans along with one tomato (chopped), half an onion (chopped), some green chillies and salt. Drain and reserve the water. Heat some oil in a pan and fry the remaining half of onion (chopped). Add some chili powder, cumin seed powder, a dash of butter, and the cooked beans. I blended the hot mix into a puree, adding the reserved water, for a smooth consistency. You may choose to mash it by hand. Leave some beans whole to add to the texture.

Grilled zucchini nachos from here.
The simplest recipe ever. Slice into ¼ inch thick rounds, some zucchini. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill for a couple of minutes each side, in a hot pan.

To assemble, layer the nachos and top with the salsa, refried beans, some yoghurt dip. Grate over some cheese, if feeling indulgent.

I wanted to experiment with grilled potato nachos as well. Something for next time, I guess. Will tell you how it goes.

Meanwhile, write in with your favorite food memories.

Lonesome Saturday Evening and the Promise of Summer Desserts

This pleasant Saturday evening, I wanted to go watch a stand-up comedy with the following description: “Having turned 40 this year, Vaz (the comedienne) focuses her wit on the challenges of ageing in a culture that worships youth, her decision not to have children and the stress that accompanies this choice, as well as her constant struggle to overcome her obsession with housework.”

First, I spent half an hour on the phone convincing my recently turned 40 friend (with an obsessive compulsive cleaning disorder) to do a girls’ night out. Despite my earnest promises to get out of my pajamas and get into a presentable dress and heels (the things we do as trade-offs), she refused. Turns out that she had to stay at home and tutor her son before his history exam. And probably obsess over cleaning the dinner dishes.

Mango Kulfi
Mango Kulfi

Next, I dished up my husband’s favorite snack, trying to persuade him into being company. I would never ask someone to accompany me if I did not think they would enjoy themselves more than I would. Given our decision to be part-time aunt and uncle and not full time mom and dad, and his absolute belief in cleanliness coming before godliness, you would think that he would jump at the offer. But no, he would rather play a round of tennis and then do a round of dusting around the house.

My plans to laugh hysterically scuttled, I decided to spend the evening baking. Yesterday, I had resolved, that this weekend I would learn to bake layered cakes and had was looking forward to trying the hummingbird cake. Going out to buy the cake pans (which I have been meaning to for a long time), I ended up purchasing additionally a bundt pan (which I have been resisting to for a long time). Side note: Was psycho-ecstatic at seeing the first mangoes of the season at the departmental store.

Fact: If you have a newly bought bundt pan, you shall day dream about and google/food blog search gorgeous looking bundt cakes and fail to do a single thing about buying any of the ingredients you need to actually make them. Not wanting to give up hummingbird cake dreams, I found the perfect sounding bundt recipe for it. Only to be unable to make it, not having either pineapple or cream cheese at home. Darn. Not to be so easily dissuaded, after some feverish browsing, I stumbled across this delicious looking chocolate chunk orange cake. Now normally, not being big fans of the fruit, we never ever have fresh oranges lying around. But lo and behold, we have today, the exact number needed to make the cake. I sighed, because I was certain I was out of fresh cream. I bet you can imagine my excitement, when my desultory poking around in the kitchen cupboard, actually unearthed a tetrapack of usable cream and some dark chocolate. Hallelujah! I could practically smell the organgey-chocolatey baking aromas.

Except we are out of eggs. Or rather, we have only egg nestled in its container, lonely and morose. Like someone else’s friends, the egg’s near and dear ones were probably doing housework (in that special heaven where eggs went, after they became omelets.)

I have settled, therefore, to blog. Having no exciting or new recipes or pictures or baking stories to share with you – I turn to an old one from last year. I had meant to blog about mango kulfi last year, but missed doing so during the mango season. This is seriously too great a summer dessert to not sample, at least once in your life. And so easy-peasy, I bet you will not get it wrong, even if you tried to.

Mango Kulfi
Mango Kulfi

To make this, simply combine 2 ½ cups (500 ml) whole milk, ¼ cup milk powder, ½ cup condensed milk and ¼ cup sugar in a pan and bring it to a boil. Reduce and simmer for a while, till the mix thickens. Though the recipe does not call for you to do, I kept stirring it and anxiously peering at it and sniffing it. It smells divine, by the way. Once the mix has thickened (mine took twenty minutes), take it off heat and let it cool completely. If you get onto the phone with your mom, at this point, like I did, to share kulfi making excitement, she will stress on the cooling part, like mine did. You see, if you add an acidic fruit like mango to anything hot, it will instantly split. Now don’t say you already knew that. I did not, so was quite taken in by the science of it all. While waiting for the mix to cool, chop and puree some mangoes. You need about 1 cup of pulp. Mix the pulp in. At this stage you can add some chopped or slivered almonds and some saffron infused milk. Set into kulfi moulds (6 as per the recipe) – or pour into ramekins or porcelain dishes. If using the latter, cover with some foil. Freeze. Resist opening the freezer every ten minutes to check whether it has set.

So there you have it. A great dessert to usher in the summers. Go get some mangoes now. And let me know if you are free tomorrow evening and do not have any plans to lovingly vacuum the house. Game for tomorrow’s show?