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Goa is the smallest but the richest state(from Wikipedia) in India. Known for the beautiful beaches, places of worship and world heritage architecture – no wonder this state is visited by large number of international and domestic tourists each year.

Apart from the picturesque landscape and rich culture, the Goan cuisine   is another reason people visit this place often. Very distinct from other Indian cuisine, Goan cuisine is influenced by Hindu origins, four hundred years of Portuguese colonialism, and modern techniques. Being located on the West-cost of India along Arabian Sea – sea food, coconut milk, rice and local spices are main ingredients of Goan food. Let’s explore some of the unique dishes from Goa.

Pomfret Fry:

Pomfret fry- palatesOfIndia

Pomfret fry- palatesOfIndia

If you eat fish and had been to Goa, what’s the first thing comes to your mind when you remember this place? The cool breeze from the Ocean and the delicious smell of the fried Pomfret  from the sea-side small restaurants. (and of course Fenni  )

Whole pomfret marinated with ground spices and tamarind and fried (alternatively grilled on open fire for a healthier choice). Can be eaten with rice, bread or just as an appetizer.

Sannas:

Sannas - palatesOfIndia

Sannas – palatesOfIndia

When you see it, it looks a lot like idlis  but tastes completely different.  These are  a spongy steamed rice (and coconuts) cakes a and usually made on religious occasions. One interesting fact I learned that the rice and coconut paste is fermented with toddy (palm alcohol).

Prawn Caldine:

Prawn Caldine - palatesOfIndia

Prawn Caldine – palatesOfIndia

Caldine is a Portugese  dish made with fish or Prawn. Prawn cooked in a coconut & tarmarind  based gravy  with local spices.  Most Goans will tell you that their favorite food is fish/prawn caldine with rice.

Crab Xec xec:

Crab Xec Xec - palatesOfIndia

Crab Xec Xec – palatesOfIndia

Xec xec (pronounced as shek shek) is thick medium spiced gravy from roughly ground coconut. While you can make xec xec with any sea food or chicken – Crab xec  xec is the most popular version. The locals claim that this is a favorite for master batsman Sachin Tendulkar; can’t confirm but do not see any reason not to believe .

The rich thick gravy is served with bread or over rice.

Bebinica:

Bebnica-palatesOfIndia

Bebnica-palatesOfIndia

Bebnica-palatesOfIndia

Bebnica-palatesOfIndia

Bebnica-palatesOfIndia

Bebnica-palatesOfIndia

You just cannot visit Goa without trying this delicious dessert Bebinica. It is basically a layered (7 or 14 layers – go up to 100) cake where each layer is added after the previous layer is cooked – you guessed it right, a very cumbersome process but with a satisfactory end result.

Fatima da Silva Gracia, author of the book ‘Cozinha de Goa’ mentions this legend behind the dish that a nun called Bibiona of the Convento da Santa Monica in Old Goa  made it with seven layers to symbolize the seven hills of Lisbon and Old Goa and offered it to the priest. But, he found it too small and thus the layers were increased.
Please follow this link for recipes

“Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home” – John Howard Payne

I have travelled a lot inside India and probably can describe each state from first-hand experience, just the way I saw and felt about it. But when it comes to the place where I was born and raised and call home, I get weak in the knees. Pure, simple and unpretentious -like first love. Heart still skips a couple of beats whenever I listen to the tune of “Rangabati” or “Bande Utkala Janani”.  Brings back the memory of a perfect childhood and all the delicious food made by grandmother, mother and aunts.

Yes, the food – that’s what this blog is about :- ) . Oriya food is as humble as the state itself. Very few ingredients, simple preparation and leaves you content.  Though there is a vast variety of food, I would limit this blog to the food I grew up with.

Pakhala Bhata & badi chura

Absolute comfort food for a hot afternoon that promises a peaceful nap  right after. A must in my household everyday during  Summer vacation. This is nothing but a fermented rice (or alternatively yogurt mixed with rice) accompanied with Saaga (greens) , Machho Bhaja (Fish fry) and Badi Churra (spicy crushed badi)

Badi Churra is a simple and delicious side food made with fried( In mustard oil)  & crushed Badis (you will get in Indian store) and mixed crushed green chillis, chooped onions, chooped cilantros, chopped tomatoes and salt.

pakhala - palatesofindia

Mansa Kasha

Mansa kasha is one of the most famous nonveg  food . It is a dry mutton (goat meat) dish made with Indian spices and eaten with rice or bread.

Dalma

Lentil -but not your usual Indian daal. It is cooked with vegetables (But not Sambar either   ) and flavored with dry roasted cumin seeds. Mostly served with fried bread (Paranthas).

Dalma-palatesofindia

Machha Besara

Fish prepared in a gravy of mustard paste and yogurt(or tomatoes). The bitterness from the mustard paste and the sourness from the yogurt gives it a very unique taste  and balancing these two flavors distinguishes a perfect  cook :-). Serve hot over white rice.

Besara- palatesofindia

Amba Khata

Raw mangoes cooked with sugar, spices and salt. A sweet and sour delicacy often served as a side dish with rice.

Amba Khatta – palatesofinida

Kakara pitha

Kakara pitha is a sweetmeat must for any festivals or special occasions. There are many varieties of it but the one favorite in my household is made up of coconut and wheat flour.

Kakara-palatesofinida

 

Please follow this link for recipe

“Exotic” seems like an understatement when you refer to this wonderful, colorful land. Sand dunes, lush forests, mountains and grand forts & palaces; no wonder this is the most popular travel destination in India. But alas, this is not a travel blog. But this is also a place where cooking is considered an art form and cuisine has given a distinct identity to the region. Rajasthani cuisine has evolved under the influence of factors like lack of water, lack of green vegetables etc.
If you are writing a blog about Rajasthani food, it is just outrageous to start with anything but dal-baati. So without further ado ->
Dal-baati:

dal-baati

palatesofIndia

Baati is a hard, unleavened bread cooked in desert area of Rajasthan. It is particularly popular because of the long shelf life, nutritional value and it needed very less water to prepare. It is said that during the war time when long lasting food was a requirement; the only solution was to bake dough of wheat in bulk. This baked dough was later named as Baati. Since then it has travelled for deserts to regular households to the upscale restaurants in India. Baati is always eaten with dal (lentils) and ghee (clarified butter). Add Churma to the plate and you get a heavenly wholesome meal.
Churma:

Churma

palatesOfIndia

Churma is a Rajasthani delicacy usually serverd with dal-baati. It is made with coarsely ground baatis mixed with ghee clarified butter), jaggery/suger and dry fruits.

Pithode Cake:

Pithode Cake

palatesOfIndia

Pithode ia another popular dish from Rajasthan. You mix chick-pea flour (besan) with various spices and make paste with water. You cook this mixture in low flame. Once cooked, the mixture is poured in a plate and speeded evenly and cut into pieces. These pieces/cakes can be either deep fried or shallow fried.
Laal-Maas (Red meat curry)

Laal maas

palatesOfIndia

This is a royal traditional non-vegetarian dish very popular in Rajasthan. Lamb cooked in a very rich bright red gravy – this dish can be as hot as you want. Remember the bright red color comes from the red chilies.

Please follow this link for recipe

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word Punjab? Beautiful green and yellow mustard farms or the spectacular golden temple or the hustle and bustle of Chandigarh in sector-17? For me, it is bais number phatak (Gate no. 22), near Sahni bakery in Patiala – my home away from home for a good 5 years of my life in New Delhi. This is where my very good friend’s parents lived and I visited during all festivals. My true encounter with Punjabi cuisine was through her  late mother who always cooked delicious traditional Punjabi meal during our Punjab visit.

Punjab is a state in northwest India. Most of the Punjab is fertile plain and agriculture is the largest industry. Punjabi cuisine is very rich with liberal use of with butter, cream, clarified butter and cheese. People are normally very hard-working and the calorie rich diet provides the fuel for all the hard physical work.

When we are talking about traditional Punjabi dishes, the list just has to start with “Makki Ki Roti” ( flat bread made up of corn flour) and “Sarson Ka Saag” (mustard green). So, let’s dig this delicious combination and more.

Makki Ki Roti & Sarson Ka Saag

Makki ki Roti & Sarson ka Saag - palatesOfIndia

 

“Makki Ki Roti” is a flat bread made from cornflour. Corn flour has lot less adhesive strength than regular flour which makes it difficult to handle and hard to make. This is generally made in winter and served with “Sarson Ka Saag”.

“Sarson Ka Saag” is a curry  made with mustard green, spinach, onion, ginger, garlic, green chilis and served with butter and “Makki Ki Roti”.

Butter Chicken (Murg Makhani)

Butter Chicken - PalatesOfIndia

 

This Indian dish from Punjab is most popular and is served in most Indian restaurants all over the world. The Makhani sauce is made with tomato puree, butter, spices like cinnamon, coriander, cloves, cumin. dry fenugreek leaves and fresh cream.

Chicken is marinated with yogurt, garam masala, chili powder, coriander powder, turmeric, ginger & garlic paste and lime juice. This is then grilled (traditionally cooked in tandoor) and added to the Makhani sauce.

This is served with naan (indian flat bread) or steamed rice.

Dal Makhani

Dal Makhani - palatesOfIndia

 

Dal makhani is a treasured staple food in Punjab. This dish is a type of lentil boiled with ginger, garlic, green chilis and salt. Then the boiled dal is cooked with red onions, garlic, garam masala, asafoetida powder,chili powder, tomatoes, butter and fresh cream. Traditionally this is cooked in low flame for hours on charcoal giving it a rich creamy texture.

This dish is best served with naan.

Lassi

Lassi - palatesOfIndia

 

Lassi is a very popular yogurt based drink in Punjab. There are many variation of this drink such as Sweet Lassi – made from yogurt, sugar and optionally rose-water and/or fruit juice with a layer of cream on the top; Salted Lassi –  made from yogurt, salt, water, mint leaves and optionally  ginger, green chilis and other spices.

Lassi is enjoyed chilled as a hot-weather refreshment mostly served with lunch.

Please follow this link for recipe of the above

A decade and a half ago, when the world was a much better place to live, a few of us decided to visit Shimla. It was a very exciting trip for me as this was the first time I was going on a trip only with friends without any  adult supervison at all. We were a group of girls in their teens going from Delhi to Shimla.  We took an overnight train from Delhi to Kalka and then the toy train from Kalka to Shimla. The five hour journey in the toy train through hills and valleys and beautiful small villages like Dharamsala, Barang is still fresh in my memory. Also fresh in memory the beauty of Shimla, fun-filled  four days with friends and the delicious food.

Himachal Pradesh is a mountainous state situated in western Himalayas. Food is very simple but nutritious, mostly consisting of rice, breads, lentils and vegetable. The food is pahari (pahar = mountain) cuisine with a strong influence of cuisines from Punjab and Tibet. This week I tried some traditional pahari dishes like Khatta, madra and some punjabi influenced dishes like aloo parantha and rajma.

Khatta

Khatta - PalatesOfIndia

Khatta - PalatesOfIndia

 

Khatta is a simple dish made with chick pea flour, dry mango powder, corriander powder, chilli powder and boondi (a chick pea flour based snack). It tastes a lot like kadhi and goes well with white rice.

Madra

Madra - PalatesOfIndia

Madra is a very traditional Himachali dish made with chick peas, yogurt, coconut, onion, ginger, garlic, chili powder, corriander powder, almonds and raisins. I must admit that I was a little uncomfortable with the chick peas, yogurt and raisin combination but was pleasantly surprised by the end result.

Rajma

Rajma -PalatesOfIndia

Rajma (kidney beans) is a dish very popular in Himachal and rest of the north India. This is a Punjabi dish with a strong influence on Himachali cuisine. This is kidney beans cooked in onion, tomato, corriander powder, garam masala. This dish is served with white rice.

Parantha

Parantha - PalatesOfIndia

Parantha - PalatesOfIndia

Parantha (Indian bread) is a dish common in all parts of India. My memory of Shimla is mostly different kinds of stuffed (potatoes, cauliflower, raddish etc) paranthas. For Aloo parnatha (Bread with potatoes), you make a filling out of boiled potatoes, ginger powder, corriander paowder, chili powder, corriander leaves and green chilies ( You can make the filling with the ingredient of your choice). You then make the bread with this filling inside. Servev with butter or yogurt.

Please follow this link for recipe of the above dishes.

Since we already talked about Rajma and paranta, let’s explore the pujabi cuisine next week.

“If there is a heaven on this earth, it is here” once said Jehangir, the great  Mughal emperor, and rightfully so.
Yes, you have guessed it right!!! We will start our journey from the beautiful state of Jammu & Kashmir. This is the northern most state of India and home to several valleys. I have never been to Kashmir, but very soon I will. However I have some very close friends from Kashmir and I am lucky to grow up on the ever delicious Kashmiri cuisine.
Kashmiri cuisine has evolved over hundred of years. The first major influence from Kashmiri Pundits (the Hindus in the valley) and subsequently from Timur, Uzbekistan, Persia and Afganistan.
The unique thing I find about Kashmiri cuisine is that it avoids usage of Onion, garlic, tomatoes etc which are very essential to otherwise Indian cuisine.  So, if you are served with Rogan josh with a very thick onion/tomato based gravy- you know it’s NOT authentic Kashmiri Rogan josh 🙂
I tried the following dishes in my kitchen following the authentic recipe and would like to share them with you all.
 
ROGAN JOSH


 

Rogan means oil and josh mean heat. So this dish is lamb (or goat) cooked in oil and intense heat. The dish has thin yogurt based gravy with spices like cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, clove, cumin, aniseed, fennel ,saffron and of course Kashmiri chili powder (for heat and color). Kashmiri chili powder is not as hot as the regular chili powder, so a lot can be used to get that intense red color without adding too much heat.
It is said that Rogan Josh was brought to Kashmir by the Mughals. All I can say about this is that this is the best lamb dish I have eaten in my life.
Best served with Indian bread/ rice and red wine.

 
KASHMIRI DUM ALUV


 

Being from Orissa, I grew up with dum aloo (or we call it “Aloo dum”). But Kashmiri dum aloo is different as again this is yogurt based gravy with no onion/garlic. In the Kashmiri version of dum aloo (dum aluv) ,the potatoes (small size or baby potatoes)  are deep fried and then cooked slowly at a low flame(the word dum means slow cooked) in a yogurt based gravy with kashmiri spices (cardamom, cinnamon, ginger powder, fennel, cumin, caraway seeds, black pepper, kashmiri chili powder, asafoetida, cloves and turmeric).
Best serverd with Indian bread or Kashmiri pulao (see below). My favorite is dum aluv with kashmiri pulao and Iced tea cocktail.
 
KASHMIRI PULAO


 

What can be a better comfort food than piping hot fragrant rice with fruits and nuts on a cold day? That’s the reason may be why this is so popular in Kashmir where the weather is usually very cold. Kashmiri pulao is a very rich rice( long grained basmati rice) dish cooked in milk, heavy cream, cardamom, cinnamon, saffron and mixed with dry fruits (raisins, almonds, dry apricots) and garnished with fresh fruits like grapes, apples.
This is a very satisfying dish which tastes delicious with a simple raita or dum aluv or rogan josh.
 
CHICKEN YAKHNI


 

Yakhni is a very authentic Kashmiri dish. The spices used and preparation method is very different than  traditional Indian food. Yakhni is a yogurt based gravy cooked in spices like fennel seeds, giger powder, cumin seeds, garam masala, cloves, cardamom, chilli powder and bay leaves. You can make yakhni out of lotus roots(nadir yakhni), meat (mutton yakhni) or chicken (chicken yakhni). I tried chicken yakhni and it was delicious. 

Best served with rice and white wine.
 
KAHWAH


 

Kahwah is the traditional green tea recipe that originated in the valley. This tea is made with boiling green tea with saffron strands, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves. It is served with honey and crushed almond.
On a cold snowy day, sipping a hot steaming cup of kahwah can make you feel like you are already in heaven  i.e.  The heaven on this earth..Kashmir!!!
A food blog about Kashmir cannot be complete without the mention of “WAZWAN”. Wazwan is a thirty-six course meal. The preparation of wazwan is considered an art is and the pride of Kashmir culture and identity. Rogan josh and dum aluv mentioned above are part of wazwan.

Please follow this link for recipe of the above dishes.

If you know of any authentic Kashmiri dish, please share here or send me the recipe and I will post it here.
Next time we will explore the mountains of Himachal Pradesh…….stay tuned