Smashed Potato and Corn Bites

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I’d been eyeing Smashed Potatoes on Instagram forever, and I will never understand why I was waiting until now to put them together with a cheesy corn and pepper topping (reminiscent of “corn chili cheese toast” we used to have growing up in India).

These smashed potatoes (baby potatoes that are first boiled, then smashed, and then baked till crispy, almost frittered) are excellent by themselves, dipped into a nice garlicky aioli, or under a soft boiled egg (you know I try to put an egg on everything!). I imagine they would make a wonderful base for a “chaat” (savory Indian street food), topped with spiced yogurt, tamarind chutney and chaat masala (you’ll see that soon enough on the blog). A great side with meat or fish, too, although I have yet to try it.

Make just the potatoes, or top with anything that strikes your fancy, and enjoy the salty, fatty goodness of it all!

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Tiranga Shrikhand Bars (frozen yogurt bars)

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Ever since my friend Shruti told me how to make shortcut Shrikhand (a sweet and creamy dessert from my home state of Maharashtra in India, made with hung yogurt, sugar, ground cardamom and saffron) using Labneh, I must have made it dozens of times. It comes together in no time – whisk together Labneh (extra thick middle-eastern yogurt cheese aka yogurt that is the consistency of cream cheese) and sugar with a pinch of ground cardamom and saffron, and chill in the fridge for a bit. That’s it!

I make it quite frequently to go with elaborate Indian meals – meals that have 7 or 8 other components as it is. So making the shortcut version is an easy win, especially if you make the mango version of it, called Amrakhand (Aam = mango), with mango pureé subbing for half the sugar. I’ve had this idea of converting Shrikhand to a bite-size, easy to freeze format, so that its easy to get a quick taste of it occasionally without investing any time/effort. I thought it would be a great idea to try a “Tiranga” (Indian tricolor) version of it to celebrate the upcoming Indian Republic Day (January 26th).

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[for young chefs] Corn and Cheese Galette (Tart)

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This freeform buttery pastry tart (“galette” in French) is as beautiful as it is delicious – full of sweet corn and cheesy goodness! The puff pastry sheet makes this recipe extra easy and extra quick. In the time it takes for the oven to preheat, your galette will be ready to go in the oven. Anyway who sees (and tastes) this galette will never know just how easy it is to put together! Easy enough to make for our young chefs at home, of course under adult supervision!

Galettes have all of the deliciousness of pies and tarts, with just a fraction of the effort. Following a few basic steps when handling puff pastry sheets opens up a whole world of quick and delicious appetizers and desserts, so its definitely an ingredient worth getting to know! Typically sold frozen (by Pepperidge Farms and Pilsbury), it can be super easy to work with if handled with care!

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[for young chefs] Jam Tartlets

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Super easy and fun Jam Tartlets that come together with just 2 ingredients – 1 puff pastry sheet and half a cup of jam. Easy and fun to make for tiny hands (with a bit of help from mom or dad, of course!)

Just roll out a sheet of thawed puff pastry, cut into 9 or 16 squares (you could also use a round cookie cutter or a glass to make circles instead of squares!), add a dollop of your favorite jam (you could mix and match with different jams!), and bake!

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Ukad (rice flour and buttermilk porridge)

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This recipe is very close to my heart, almost family heirloom status. It’s one of my mom’s favorite recipes, a modified version of which she happily fed my sister and I since we were 7 or 8 months old. Something my grandmother fed my mom since she was a baby herself! It is quick, comforting and resembles a warm hug in food form. Not that I’m biased or anything.

A mixture of rice flour-buttermilk (or yogurt thinned out with water), flavored with finely chopped ginger, green chilies, asafetida (hing) and salt, is cooked in a quick tempering of mustard seeds, sliced garlic and curry leaves (sometimes with turmeric, sometimes without), until its a soft, smooth and tangy pillow. The porridge is served with a drizzle of raw oil, and is to be enjoyed in complete peace and quiet – at least the one you can control, in your head. If peace is eluding you, this Ukad will help you get there. And that’s all there is to it.

Shall we?

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Baked Mandazi (Swahili Sweet Bread)

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One of the things I’m loving about this tea pairing adventure with Simple Loose Leaf is the opportunity to think beyond the usual pairings that we are so comfortable with. Nothing wrong with reaching for Parle-G biscuits with your hot and sweet milk tea, but every so often you come across something so new and different, it stumps you, and in a good way.

The tea that stumped me this week, was Simple Loose Leaf Purple Jasmine Tea: a very unique blend of Tumoi purple broken leaf tea from the Nandi hills of Kenya in Africa, and Jasmine green tea, presumably to round out the intense fragrance of the purple tea. This was the first time I had purple tea, and I found it to be fragrant and very delicate. Combined with the Jasmine green tea, it took on a floral quality, and made me wonder why I had overlooked an entire continent in my tea adventures!

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