Monsoon treats

Debarati Palit Singh
Thursday, 20 July 2017

Chefs share their favourite dish of the season and recipe for you to enjoy as well

Monsoon is all about throwing caution to the winds and enjoying the rains and pleasant weather, and indulging in delicacies like Onion Pakoda, Cheese Maggi, Paratha, Samosa, Chaat and so on. Right now, calories should be the last thing on your mind.   

While we keep digging into the munchies, we ask chefs from across hotels in the city what is their monsoon favourite and how they cook the delicacies for others to relish too. 

Hemant Surana, corporate master chef, Pride Hotel, Pune
The dish I love: Kothimbir Chi Pudi
Why I love it: I love it for the taste, and the diversity of flavours, which thankfully is due to the variety of spices and the almost infinite permutations and combinations. Like Kothimbir Chi Pudi, most Maharashtrian foods are aromatic, which makes them rather addictive.
My memories: Once my daughter Shreshtha came home from her busy hostel life and insisted me to join her for momos available at a shop near our home. As it was raining heavily, I stopped her from stepping out and promised to make her some momos at home. But then I thought of making Kothimbir Chi Pudi (Maharashtrian-style momos). It was not only appreciated by her but by everyone in the family also and to this day, I keep making the dish in monsoon. I have also introduced it in the hotel. 

Kothimbir Chi Pudi
n Brown onion, finely chopped.    1 small
n Spinach, finely chopped...    1 bundle 
n Fresh coriander, chopped..    2 bundles
n Ground cumin seeds..    2 tsp
n Chana Dal, paste..    150 gm
n Garlic cloves, finely chopped..    2 
n Fresh ginger, finely chopped..    2 tsp
n Ground nutmeg..     a pinch
n Plain flour..    300g (2 cups)
n Salt to taste
n Water..    125ml (1/2 cup)
n Olive oil to grease
n Butter..    40g
n To make the momos, combine the chopped onion, spinach, coriander, cumin, garlic, ginger, chana dal paste and nutmeg powder in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge. 
n Place the flour and salt in a bowl. Make a well in the centre. Pour in the water. Use a wooden spoon in a cutting motion to mix until almost combined, adding extra water if necessary. Use your hands to bring the dough together in the bowl. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes or until smooth. Place in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 20 minutes to rest. 
n Brush a large baking tray with olive oil to lightly grease. Roll 1 tbsp of dough into a ball. Use the palm of your hand to flatten. Use a rolling pin to roll out to an 8 cm-diameter disc. Holding the dough disc in the palm of your hand, place 1 tbsp of the seasoned mixture in the centre. Bring the dough together to enclose the filling, pleating and pinching the edges to seal. Place on the prepared tray and cover with a damp tea towel. Repeat with the remaining dough and mixture to make 24 momos. 
n Add enough water to a wok to reach a depth of 5 cm. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium. Brush a large bamboo steamer with olive oil to lightly grease. Place one-third of the momos in the steamer and cover. Place over the wok and cook, covered, for 12 minutes or until cooked through. Transfer to a large plate. Repeat, in 2 more batches, with remaining momos. 
n Heat half the butter in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Cook half the momos for 2 minutes or until bases are crisp. Repeat with remaining butter and momos. Serve with Tomato Besan Achar. 
Tomato Besan Achar 
n Olive oil to grease
n Tomatoes, ripe...    4  
n Fresh red chillies, coarsely chopped...     2  
n Mustard oil..    1 tbsp 
n Garlic cloves, finely chopped...    2 
n Fresh ginger, finely chopped..    2 tsp
n Besan..    2 cups 
n Curd..     2 cups
n To make the tomato achar, preheat oven to 200°C. Brush a baking tray with olive oil to lightly grease. Place the tomatoes on the tray. Roast in oven for 45 minutes or until the skin loosens. Set aside until cool enough to handle. Use your fingers to remove the skins and discard. Place the tomatoes in the bowl of a food processor. Add the chilli and process until smooth. 
n Heat mustard oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until soft. Add besan, stirring, for 30 seconds or until aromatic. Add the tomato mixture. Reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or until the mixture thickens slightly. Season with salt and pepper. 


Arjun Sunar, head chef, Classic Rock Coffee Co., Kalyaninagar
The dish I love: Chicken Lasagna

Why I love it: It’s my favourite dish and I use specially created homemade cheesy pasta for it.
My memories: When I was in college, it used to be my signature dish and my friends would ask me to make the dish for our trips to the mountains during the rains. It brings back lots of fond memories.
Chicken Lasagna
n Chicken, minced..    1 kg
n Garlic, chopped...    4 tbsp
n Celery, chopped..    3 tbsp
n Onion, chopped..    3 tbsp
n Thyme.    1 tbsp
n Red wine..    60 ml
n Lasagna sheet.    12 
n Tomato sauce..    2 cup
n Cooking cream..    2 cup
n Parmesan cheese...    1/8 cup
n Mozzarella..    2 cup
n Salt..    1 tbsp
n Pepper..............................................1 tbsp
n Bring lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna sheet for 8 to 10 minutes, or until al dente. Drain, rinse with cold water and set aside.
n Take a saucepan. Put the garlic, onion and celery and sauté. Put the minced chicken. Cook for 10 minutes, add tomato concasse. Cook for 5 minutes. Put the cooking cream, remove from saucepan and mix the Parmesan and Mozzarella cheese.
n Spread 1/3 of the pink sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Cover with the chicken mixture and top with 3 lasagna sheets. Repeat. Top with remaining sauce and sprinkle with remaining Mozzarella cheese.
n Preheat oven to 180°C. Bake for 45 minutes in the preheated oven.


Manu Nair, corporate executive chef, Southindies, UpSouth and BonSouth

The dish I love: Banana Pakoda

Why I love it: Raw banana isn’t starchy. Its structure is such that when dried it gives out a subtle taste and isn’t heavy. So it’s not hard to digest. Nowadays,  people are becoming diet conscious, so we mostly make them in airfryer. 
My memories: I am from Kerala and the monsoon there is beautiful. As a kid, I used to play in the rains and after coming back home, my grandmother would make hot pakoda. Banana Pakodas were a regular item during monsoon. I have beautiful memories surrounding the dish. In fact, I used to wait for the rains so that I could gorge on all kinds of pakodas.   
Banana Pakoda
Serves 4 to 5 people
n Banana...     5 
n Besan / gram flour.    300 gm
n Rice flour..    1 tbsp
n Kalonji/ onion seeds..     a pinch 
n Red chilli powder..    a pinch
n Hing...    a pinch
n Oil...     2-3 tbsp
n Chilled water...    300 ml
n Chaat Masala...     a pinch
n Salt to taste  
n Oil for frying
n Take five bananas and peel off the skin. Cut the banana in thin slices. Put in water so that it doesn’t discolour. 
n Next, take gram flour and rice flour in a bowl, add hing, red chilli powder, onion seeds and salt.
n Add 3 tbsp of oil and rub it with your hand in the besan/ gram flour so that the besan gets coated with oil. 
n Then add 300 ml of chilled water and mix with the gram flour.
n Keep checking the consistency of the gram flour. It shouldn’t be watery but thick. 
n Then coat the banana with gram flour batter and put it in hot oil. 
n Fry till deep brown and remove and toss with a pinch of chaat masala. 
n Serve hot with tamarind chutney or tomato sauce.

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