My name is Simmi Sareen and I have been writing Bombay Foodie for the last ten years. This blog is my place to tell food stories. But more importantly, this is the gateway for me to meet fellow foodies.
Last month, I discovered a hydroponics grower in Mumbai called the Herbivore Farms. They grow salad leafs and chards and herbs and once a week, send a box over to your home. The lettuces are so fresh, it just automatically makes for healthy salad eating. Then there's chard: I added it to stir fries and Asian style miso fried rice the first week. This week, I made green soup.
Anna Thomas' soup is less recipe, more a canvas to do with as you please. The first time I'd made this soup a few months back, it was with spinach and coriander and spring onions. This time, I used the swiss chard and carrot top leaves. It turned out pretty amazing both ways so make use of whatever green leafy vegetable and herbs your fridge is overrun with at the moment.
Anna's original recipe uses arborio rice to thicken the soup. I used a potato which works equally well. Don't be stingy with either the slow fried onions or the lime juice; both contribute to most of the flavour in this one. Here's your recipe:
Ingredients 2 bunches of whatever leafy vegetables or herbs or combination you like 1 small potato 1 small onion 1/2 inch piece of ginger 1 tsp salt juice of 1 lime olive oil black pepper
Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a small pan. Add finely chopped onions, stir to coat with oil, then reduce the heat and let onions cook slowly until browned.
In the meantime, start your soup. Peel and dice the potato. Wash the greens, remove any tough stalks and tear/chop roughly. Peel and grate the ginger. Add the potato to a largish pan with 1 litre water and 1 tsp salt. As the water starts to boil, add the greens and the ginger. Reduce the heat and cook until the potato is tender and cooked through. Add a bit of the simmering liquid to the onions, stir and add them to the soup. Turn off the heat and let cool.
Puree the soup in a blender until smooth. Return to the pan to heat. Stir in lime juice, add some freshly ground pepper and if needed, more salt. Pour into bowls and finish with a drizzle of olive oil.
Buckwheat is the grain of choice when it comes to fasting in India. Every navaratri, my mom makes paranthas with what's locally called 'kuttu ka atta'. The dough is made with a combination of buckwheat and mashed potatoes, then rolled out and shallow fried in ghee. It's delicious enough to make atheists like me pretend we're fasting. But because this is fasting day food, you don't do much to the paranthas beyond eating them with yogurt.
The Russians on the other hand make a fine art of topping their version of buckwheat pancakes, the blinis, with salmon and caviar and sour cream. The pancakes themselves are a bit bland though, a pale match to the dark beauties that Indian kuttu paranthas are. So why not combine the two, I thought. Make a base of mini buckwheat paranthas Indian style, then load them up like a blini. The resulting dish packs quite a punch.
So ditch the idea of buckwheat as a fasting day food and go make these indo-blinis. I topped mine with a red pepper and walnut pesto and a dollop of whipped feta, ending with a sprinkle of pink pepper and dried mint. But truly, any creamy topping of your choice will do. The parantha recipe follows.
Ingredients 1/2 cup buckwheat flour 1 large potato, boiled and mashed 1 tsp ghee, plus more to cook the paranthas salt warm water
In a bowl, mix together buckwheat flour, mashed potato and salt. Add ghee and rub together until the potatoes are mixed through the flour and the mixture looks crumbly. Add enough warm water to form a dough. Knead lightly until the whole thing comes together.
The dough is quite a tricky one to work with so your standard rolling techniques won't work. Instead, take two sheets of parchment paper. Take a golf ball size piece of dough and put it in the middle of one parchment sheet. Top with the second parchment sheet and press the dough until it is rolled into a thin layer. Remove the top parchment sheet and use a cookie cutter to cut out small paranthas.
Heat a non stick pan. Brush the top of the rolled parantha with ghee and plonk it, ghee side down, on the pan. Cook on a low heat so it's fully cooked through. Then brush the other side with ghee, turn and cook until both sides are brown and crisp.
Once you have enough mini-paranthas, arrange them on a plate and add toppings of your choice. Make sure you have something creamy (cheese, labneh, sour cream) to cut through the dry nuttiness of the paranthas.
Some dishes take you by surprise. In the middle of a quiet dinner, they grab you and force you to sit up and take notice. It's even more surprising when that dish happens to be soup. It happened so at a dinner with my friend Chris. We started off with his lovely homemade bread and salad and then he brought this soup in. A soup with punchy flavours that also freezes well. I eventually got the recipe off Chris and I now make this often, leaving bowlfuls in the freezer for a rainy day. You should too!
Ingredients 250 grams yellow pumpkin, cut into chunky cubes 250 grams potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes 1 small onion, peeled and roughly chopped 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced 1 small carrot, peeled and sliced 1 leek stem, washed, cleaned and roughly chopped 1-2 celery stalks, washed, cleaned and roughly chopped 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 10-12 peppercorns Roasted pumpkin seeds and dill to garnish
Find the largest saucepan you own and heat the olive oil in it. Add peppercorns, roast for 10-15 seconds in the oil and add all the vegetables to the pot. Give everything a good stir, then add enough cold water to cover the vegetables.
Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until the potatoes and the pumpkin are soft. Blitz everything with a blender into a thick, creamy soup. Add a tsp of salt (or enough to suit your taste) and check if it's thick enough for your liking. If not, put the soup back on the simmer for the water to evaporate and for it to thicken.
Serve topped with roasted pumpkin seeds and sprigs of dill. Makes a great wholesome meal with some toasted sourdough bread.