Monday, September 7, 2009

Handvo (Indian Lentil Cake)

1 cup rice
1/2 cup each of toor dar, masoor dal, moong dal and chana dal
1 cup curd
1 cup cut spinach
handfull methi (fenugreek) leaves
1 carrot shredded
1/2 cup green peas
1/2 cup bottleguard shredded
2 green chillies
3 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp Eno
3 tbsp oil

For tempering:
few curry leaves
sesame seeds
dry whole red chillies
mustard seeds
shredded coconut

  • Mix the dals and rice and soak them in a covered vessel overnight.
  • Drain the water, add curd, lemon and green chillies. Mix well and grind the mixture to a fine paste.
  • Set it aside for 3 hours.
  • Add all the vegetables, salt, turmeric, ginger garlic paste and mix well.
  • Now just before preparation, add Eno and mix it vigorously. Now your Handvo mixture is ready.
  • Take a flat bottom deep non-stick pan as shown below.
  • Grease it on all sides with oil.
  • Pour the remaining oil and heat it. Add the tempering. When it starts spluttering, pour the handvo mixture in the pan.
  • Don't mix it. Just cover it with a lid and cook it on a low flame for 15 mins.
  • Keep checking in-between to see it's not getting burnt. You can prick a fork in the mixture and if the mixure doesn't stick, it's cooked.
  • Now you have to flip the side. Gently lift the Handvo from both the sides and turn it over. You can use an extra plate or a tawa to help turn it over.
  • Cook the other side for another 15 mins. Turn off the heat.
  • Let it rest for 15 mins in the pan with the lid covered.
  • Ready to serve.

Serving Suggestions:
Serve with pickly or chutney.

You can add any vegetable of your choice.
If you don't have some of the dals, substitute it with dal of your choice.

Alu Gosht (Aloo Gossht)


1 Kg. Mutton
½ kg Potato -peeled and cut into pieces of 1 to 2 inches.
¼ tsp. turmeric (Haldi) powder
1 tsp. chili (Lal Mirch) powder
3 tbs. coriander (Dhaniya) seeds powder
2-3 medium onion –chopped or sliced
½ cup oil
1 tbs. ginger (Adrak) paste
1 tsp. garlic (Lehsan) paste
1 tsp. garam masala powder
6-8 cloves (Laung)
6-8 black pepper (Kali Mirch)
2 black cardamom (Bari Ilaichi)
1-1½ tsp. salt (according to taste)
1 cup fresh coriander (Dhaniya) leaves
2-3 green chilies – chopped
1-2 Lemon


Fry the onion in oil till brown. Remove the onion and grind.
Add haldi, dhaniya, mirch, garlic, ginger and salt in the oil. Fry with little water till it dries.
Add mutton and ground onion and cook till water dries again.
Add 3 to 4 glasses of water, cover and cook till the meat tenderizes.
When meat is almost done add potatoes and cook till the potatoes are cooked and the required gravy is left. Cook throughout on low heat.
Garnish with fresh dhaniya, green chilies and lemon.
Serve with naan.
Serving: 6 – 8 persons

Prawn Shrimp Pakoras (Pran Shrmp Pakoraas)

  • Prawns 12-15 medium sized
  • Green Chillies 3
  • Ginger 1 tbsp
  • Garlic Cloves 3-4
  • Coriander 1/4 cup
  • Red Chilli Powder 1 tsp
  • Turmeric Powder 1/4 tsp
  • Spice Powder 1 tsp
  • Salt 1 tsp
  • Gram Flour 1 tsp
  • Chinese Salt 1 tsp
  • Capsicum 3 tbsp
  • Onion 2 tbsp
  • Soya Sauce 2 tbsp
  • Spring Onion 3 tbsp
  • Oil 1 1/2 cup
  • Pepper Powder 1/4 tsp
  • Pinch of sugar


  1. Mix all the ingredients for the batter.
  2. Dip the cleaned prawns in it and deep fry.
  3. When it turns reddish brown, drain and remove.
  4. In a pan heat oil, add chopped garlic and when it turns to golden brown, add chopped ginger, green chillies, onions and capsicum and toss them well.
  5. Add the fried prawn with salt, pinch of sugar, pepper powder, Chinese salt and Soya sauce.
  6. Toss it well adding a little water.
  7. When half cooked, add the spring onions and mix well.
  8. Serve hot.

Gonocco Fritto (Gonoco Frito)

Gnocco fritto

Preparation: 2 hours
Cooking: 5 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

This is another delicacy from the Emilia Romagna region of Italy, the homeland of tagliatelle and piadina bread. Gnocco fritto can have many different names depending on the province, so you may find that it is also called “torta fritta” (Parma) or “chisulino” (Piacenza). In north Italy it is quite common to have it as “antipasto” (starter), but increasing the quantity it can also serve for lunch. It is very easy to prepare and like piadina bread, you can have it with any sort of sliced cured pork meat (salame, pancetta, coppa, mortadella, culatello, prosciutto crudo, prosciutto cotto) or soft cheese (crescenza, stracchino, mozzarella, gorgonzola). I used to eat gnocco fritto in those old trattorias along the river Po`, during hot summer evenings, and of course you couldn’t have it without half a litre of vino della casa.....



  • 300 g (11 oz) Plain flour
  • 25 g (1 oz) Pork lard
  • 15 g (½ oz + a tiny bit) Fresh yeast
  • 4 g (1 tsp) Salt
  • 160 ml (5 fl oz + a tiny bit) tepid water
  • Sunflower oil for deep frying


Put the flour onto a working surface and make a little well. Put the pork lard in the centre of the well, then add the salt to the flour and finally dissolve the yeast into the glass of tepid water before adding the water to the flour. Mix everything together using your hands and work the dough for 10 minutes.

Using your hands will help melt the lard so that it evenly mixes with the other Ingredients. The dough’s consistency should be the same as for pizza or bread dough.

Once the dough is ready, put it into a container and cover with a kitchen cloth or film and let it to rise for a couple of hours.

After two hours the dough will have doubled its size. Now, it’s time to put it back onto the working surface. Spread a bit of flour onto the working surface so that the dough will not stick to it during the following stage.

Using the rolling pin, make a large disc roughly 4 or 5 mm thick.

Then, using a pastry wheel, cut some rectangles, size 10x8 cm and don’t be worried if you get some with different sizes, like 10x6 cm or 10x7 cm; it will work whichever way you do it. Also, if you want diamonds or squares instead of rectangles, make yourself at home!

Here we have a closeup picture of my rectangles. If you have small pieces left around the perimeter of the disc, with awkward shapes, keep them because they will work fine.

Meanwhile, you should have started to heat the oil up and here we need really hot oil. I suggest using sunflower oil at 190-200 °C (a deep fat fryer would be a safer option, also because it would be easier to control the temperature).

The best thing to do is to fry one or two rectangles at a time so that the oil doesn’t drop its temperature.

When you drop the rectangle into the hot oil you will see that it will stay in the bottom of the pan for just few seconds, then it will float and after few seconds again, it will inflate. Then, fry each side until they are golden in colour. Usually, it takes 20-30 seconds per side, if fried between 190°C and 200°C, but it could be less if the temperature of the oil goes up, so stick to the golden colour thing rather than time.

This is the rectangle floating.

This is the rectangle inflating.

This is when the bottom side has been frying for 20 seconds and now I am turing the gnocco on the other side.

This is the gnocco once turned and nearly ready to be taken out. Keep frying all your rectangles and put them into a large container where you have previously laid some kitchen paper. Also, see the video below.

Bread & Egg Soup (Bred &Eg Sup)

Bread and egg soup (a.k.a. Zuppa alla Pavese)

Preparation time: 10 mins
Cooking: 2 mins

Difficulty: Easy

Zuppa alla Pavese is a soup made with stock, bread and eggs. Despite the simplicity of the Ingredients, this soup is regarded as a real delicacy and I totally agree with this opinion. The recipe comes from Pavia, a city not far from Milan, and it seems that it was invented by a farmer during the time of the “la battaglia di Pavia” in 1525 (the battle of Pavia). The legend says that the king of France, Francis I, lost the battle against the emperor Charles V, and tired and wounded found refuge in a farm where he was served with this soup. Whether the legend is true or false, it doesn’t matter; certainly the recipe is very old and probably traces back to a few centuries ago, when wars and plagues made the food scarce and people were forced to cook with what they had. It’s a very nourishing soup that I usually prepare for lunch during cold weather.



  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Large slice of bread
  • 1 Beef stock cube (to be dissolved in ¾ pint of boiling water)
  • Enough Parmesan cheese (grated) for a generous sprinkle
  • A generous knob of butter
  • An oven proof dish to contain the soup

Note 1: the Ingredients in the list are for one person, but if you have guests, always consider 2 eggs and 1 slice of bread per person. About the stock, I had all the ¾ pint for myself so, in case of guests, prepare more stock.

Note 2: eggs must be absolutely fresh and I would not use anything that is not organic.

Note 3: in the past, stale bread was used for this recipe. Use whatever bread you want but a home made loaf of countryside bread is the best bet!


Before we start, put your oven proof dish in the oven because we need it hot for a later stage (you can set the oven to the minimum, but I recommend the use of oven gloves when it is time to take the dish out of the oven). Next, cut a slice of bread.

Remove the hard crust and cut the big slice in two parts.

Prepare the stock, dissolving the stock cube in ¾ pint of boiling water.

Now, take a shallow pan (a frying pan will do the job) and melt the butter.

Fry the bread until both the sides are golden brown.

This is the kind of colour we have to achieve.

Once the bread is ready, take the oven proof dish out of the oven.

Put the bread inside the dish, pressing it down so that it stays on the bottom of the dish.

Break the eggs over the bread.

Now, a generous sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

The dish is ready for the adding of the stock. The stock must be boiling hot (not simmering) so raise the heat before adding it into the dish.

We add the stock to cover. The heat of the stock will partially cook the eggs. You can cover the dish with a plate and leave the dish alone for one minute or two, then you can serve the dish.

With this soup the eggs will never be thoroughly cooked, but this is it and I cannot change the tradition. However, if you are serving the soup to children or old people, you may consider poaching the eggs before laying them onto the bread; then you add the stock. Alternatively, before adding the stock, you can pass the dish under a grill, in order to cook the eggs, but you need to be careful not to burn the bread. Try it and find the solution that best suits you.

Feel free to add some ground black pepper if you wish.

Buon appetito

Mussels &Potatoes (Musels & Potatos)

Mussels and potatoes (a.k.a. Uncle Vittorio's mussels & potato bake - Cozze e patate)

Preparation: 30 minutes (this includes the steaming of the potatoes)
Cooking: 20 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Uncle Vittorio in action - Italy (July 2008)

This is another example of how to match seafood with potatoes. It is a simple and delicious dish and also very cheap to make; fortunately mussels are not expensive - not yet! and potatoes are probably the cheapest Ingredients you can buy in a veg shop. This recipe is from the South East of Italy and has been passed to me by my uncle Vittorio (he is from Puglia region of Italy), an excellent cook who I regard as my mentor. When I was a little boy I spent lots of time with him in the kitchen and many of the recipes you can see in this website come from his day to day home cooking repertoire.



  • 1 Kg (2.2 lb) Fresh mussels
  • 1 Kg (2.2 lb) Potatoes
  • 4 Eggs
  • 60 g (2 ½ oz) Parmesan or Pecorino cheese (grated)
  • A small bunch on flat leaf parsley (finely chopped)
  • 1 Fish stock cube
  • 2 Cloves of garlic
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper for seasoning


Take a deep pan that is suitable for use in the oven and spread some olive oil in the bottom. Alternatively you can use a roasting tin, but it is important the tin has a lid (later, you will see why having a lid is important).

Slice all the potatoes, making slices 2- 3 mm thick.

Form the first layer in the bottom of the pan, by laying the potato slices.

Once the first layer is completed, drizzle with some olive oil.

Then, sprinkle with black pepper. Now, make a second layer and repeat the oil and black pepper stages. If you have enough potato slices, make a third layer, as I did for this recipe. If you are using a larger roasting tin you may get a couple of layers only, which is fine anyway.

This picture shows my third and final layer. As you can see, I am not adding any salt, but just black pepper. The reason why I am not adding salt is because the fish stock I am going to add at the next stage will be salty enough to season the potatoes.

Prepare some fish stock. Dissolve one fish stock cube in 450 ml (¾ pt) of boiling water.

Now, put the pan on low heat and add a couple of ladles of fish stock.

Next, cover with a lid and steam the potatoes for about 15-20. Here, we want the potatoes “nearly” cooked because after, at a later stage, they will complete the cooking in the oven.

If you think that after 15 minutes the inside of the pan is to watery, you can remove part of the liquid with a spoon or you can complete the 20 minutes taking away the lid, to dry it a bit.

Meanwhile, chop the parsley.

Break the eggs into a small bowl and stir with a fork.

Add the parsley.


Add the Parmesan cheese, while you are stirring.

Check that the batter is not too runny but at the same time not too firm.

Season the batter with black pepper.

Season the batter with salt, but not too much because the Parmesan cheese is already salty. Set the batter aside.

Put some olive oil into a large pan that can contain all the mussels. Heat the oil on high heat and then add the garlic (sliced).

After a minute or two add the mussels into the pan.

Give a quick stir using a big metal spoon, so that all the mussels are coated with the garlic flavoured oil.

Cover with a lid and leave it for 3-4 minutes. Here, we don’t want to overcook the mussels because later they have to go in the oven, we just need to open them using the heat.

This picture shows the mussels that have opened. If you want to know more about this technique check the following links:
Fish preparation or the recipe Gratin of mussels because it is paramount that you know how to deal with mussels.

For each mussel, get rid of the empty half-shell and lay the other half with the good stuff attached onto a large tray.

Meanwhile, the potatoes are ready, they are now steamed and have also absorbed most of the stock. We can now proceed with the next stage.

Using a spoon, tip some of the batter inside the half-shell containing the mollusc.

Cover the surface of the top potato layer with the half-shells as shown in the picture. When you are doing this job, pre-heat the oven to 200°C (gas mark 6).

For this recipe I have used only half of the mussels available because I have used a small diameter pan, however if you are going to use a large rectangular roasting tin, I am quite sure that you will need all the mussels available (1 kg). Next, put the pan into the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes, uncovered.

This is the final result after 20 minutes cooking.

This is a closer view so that you can have a better idea of what it should look like.

Then, it is just a matter of serving it in the fashion you like and don’t forget a glass of chilled white wine.

Buon appetito!