Tomato Soup with a hint of Garlic

There are few things better than rich tomato soup on a cold day. Growing up, Ma would make regularly for us a big batch of her version with tons of pepper..Dad was then posted in Dharamshala and she had to deal with two kids with perpetual runny noses in winters. As the temperature fell, she would take out this huge soup pot and concoct a batch that was oh so warming…Well but here Mr. A is allergic of pepper and goes into a sneezing marathon if there is any form of pepper in the food so we kinda avoid..I came up with this desi version with butter, cloves and garlic and sometimes I would add fresh basil leaves for another flavour dimension… As for the actual soup, it only takes about 35 minutes and is quite simple to pull together. And when served with some crusty bread for dunking? It is a perfect way to welcome winters and the start of soup season!

Ingredients For the Tomato Paste
  • 3 large Tomatoes
  • 4 cloves of Garlic
  • For the Soup
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2-4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt to taste
  • Chopped fresh basil, for serving
  • Crusty bread, for serving
  • Instructions For the tomato paste:
  • In a pressure cooker, take the quartered tomatoes, add the cloves and salt as per your taste and half cup of water and cook for 3 whistles. Let the pressure release and then let the mixture cool down and then blend, strain and keep aside
  • For the Soup:
  • Then, add the butter to a large stockpot set over medium heat. When hot, add in the garlic, onion and cook for about 5 to 6 minutes, until tender. Stir in the tomato paste. Add oregano and pepper if you wish to. Mix to combine then bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat and continue simmering for about 15 to 20 minutes, to allow the flavours to meld. Remove from the heat.
  • You can either blend the soup or just serve it instantly if you don’t care much about the bits garlic in there. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as needed. Serve garnished with toasted oats and bread on the side for dipping.
  • Hope this soup keeps you warm this winter…look forward to more of my soup recipes up on my bellydriven kitchen section…

    Gajar ka Halwa Tart

    The season of red carrots is here and this is one of my favorite recipes to carry to a winter potluck. A spin on the traditional Carrot Halwa, this recipe is quite a hit amongst my peers here. This recipe was also featured in Pune Mirror in a blogger feature a while back. If you have a sweet tooth you will definitely love this one from our archives Ingredients: For the tart:
    • Oreo cookies: 16
    • Melted butter: 70g
    For the Gajar ka Halwa
    • Carrots – ½ kg
    • Ghee – 4 tbsp
    • Sugar – ½ cup
    • Full cream milk – 250ml
    • Cardamom Powder – 1 teaspoon
    • Dry Fruits – Almonds, Pistachio, Raisins, Cashew Nuts (A handful)
    Instructions:
    • Wash, peel and grate the carrots (gajar).
    • In a heavy bottomed pan add 3 tablespoon ghee and once the ghee is hot add grated carrots along with half a cup of sugar. Dry roast stirring continuously till the water evaporates from the carrot.
    • Lower the flame and add milk to the carrot mixture. Let it cook on low flame for about 35 minutes or more till the milk evaporates leaving behind thick khoya.
    • Add condensed milk to the pan now and let the halwa simmer, stirring continuously for another 30 minutes until all the condensed milk evaporates
    • In a separate pan take 1 tablespoon ghee and roast the dry fruits till they emit a nutty aroma. Add these to the halwa along with the cardamom powder.
    • Your gajar halwa is ready. Make sure your Gajar ka Halwa is cool before you start assembling your tarts
    Assembling the Tart
    • Remove the tart shell from the tart moulds and fill the tart shell with the gajar ka halwa. Garnish with shaved almonds and pistachios. Add some silver dust to give it that festive look.
    • This sure is one community dessert, savor it with friends and family…you can thank me later

    The Makhana Trail Mix – For those little hunger pangs

    Come winters and there is one thing that is very common at the Mehrotra household, we make a big batch of the makhana trail mix and we have it with copious amount of ‘adrak wali chai’. This Fox Nut mix has a little bit of everything, there are almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds and the goodness of peanuts that come together with a tempering of ghee. It is healthy, kid friendly and immensely satisfying…There are days that I am so glad that Little M asks for this mix instead of the surgary treats to munch on. Here is the oh so simple recipe:

    Ingredients For the trail mix
    • Makhana – 1 ½ cup
    • Almonds – ¼ cup
    • Cashew – ¼ cup
    • Peanuts – ¼ cup
    • Pumpkin Seeds – 1 tablespoon
    For the tempering
    • Ghee – 1 tablespoon
    • Cumin seeds – 1 teaspoon
    • Turmeric Powder – ½ teaspoon
    • Red Chilli Powder – ½ teaspoon
    • Curry leaves – 10 leaves
    • Salt to taste

    Instructions 1.In a large wok mix all the ingredients under the trail mix and dry toast them till they are golden and crunchy. 2.Take a small tempering pan and add the ghee and heat, once hot add the cumin seeds, curry leaves, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and salt. 3.Pour this tempered ghee on the roasted trail mix and combine together and roast the mixture till all the ingredients are coated the tempering spice mixture. 4.Take the mixture off the heat and let it cool to room temperature and store in an airtight jar.

    Chuda, Kadali, Nadiya Chakata – Flattened Rice, Banana and Coconut Mash

    One of my earliest memories is of my Ai saying- Peto kana hauchi? Chuda Kadali khai de, saboo bhalo heye jiba…As I said in one of my instagram posts, this recipe is every odia mom’s peto kharab remedy and on the go breakfast as it keeps one full for a long long time. This recipe will definitely not make into cookbooks but this is a part of every odia child's genetic constitution. I grew up with this and now when I see my little one enjoying it the same way. I give myself a pat on my back all the while wondering why I didn’t post about this before.

    Not just Lasagna, but Prawn Lasagna Roll Ups

    Savoury, Creamy and Succulent, what is it about Lasagna that always leaves us craving for more? Here is an easy dinner date idea with endless possibilities for variation. In this recipe tender lasagna rolls are filled with a ricotta-spinach-prawn mixture, and baked in a special sauce. Combine these roll ups with a classic salad and some garlic bread on the side and you have got an amazing meal that has date night written all over it. Ok Ok… if you don’t have a date… do make it for the family dinner and if you are single, just pack them in individual portions and pop them in the freezer. Let me tell you making Lasagna is fairly easy, but making Lasagna Roll-Ups is FUN! Add your favorite meat or sea food and explore an all new dimension altogether. Let your imagination wander…. Here is my recipe for Prawn Lasagna Roll-Ups…

    Kankada Jholo- Odia Style Crab Masala Curry

    Lately I am feeling terribly homesick even though I just came back from a wonderful trip to Bhubaneswar. I miss getting spoilt and the aromas from mommy’s kitchen . Highlight of my little one’s holiday checklist this time was a visit to the zoo and a boat ride so her Aja enthusiastically planned a trip  to the Nandankanan Zoological Park and the Chilika Lake especially for her. We had a great time not only on the boat ride to the Kalijai Temple Island along with that we got to relish the local seafood preparations. That was a day well spent, hubby and daughter gorged on the famous chilika crab masala and I settled for prawns. We also carried back with us some fresh crabs that mommy cooked for us at home the next day that we tucked into  with utmost gusto. This is her recipe and now that I am back in Pune and missing home terribly I recreated mommy’s Kankada Jholo. This is one of my favorite ways to cook crab and I enjoy it with a mound of rice topped with a dollop of ghee. So, here goes the recipe for Kankada Jholo- Odia Style Crab Masala Curry...

    Macha Tarkari – Odia Style Rohu Fish Curry

    If you have been following my blog, you would know by now how much my family loves fish, that includes my 3 year old little one. This recipe is a nostalgic one, one that was an integral part of my life as I grew up. Though we moved around and changed cities a lot, all thanks to being an army brat, my mother made sure that odia cuisine was a staple at home, she always said that never forget your roots and odia food was her way of making us keep in touch with ours. And even though I don't live in Odisha anymore, my parents do, and being married to a punjabi, this is my way of making sure that my little one is exposed to the food culture of both the worlds. I beam with pride when my little one now demands for fish curry. All thanks to my mother who with her efforts made me and my brother always tuck in food with utmost gusto, exposed us to multiple cuisines and now she does the same with my little one. Macha Tarkari / Macha Aloo Jhola is the one that my mother used to prepare for lunch. Macha in Odia means Fish;  and Jhola means to a light gravy.  So, if you are looking for a light, simple and flavor packed   fish curry, then this odia fish curry recipe is definitely a keeper and worth a bookmark.

    Prawn Curry & Rice Crepes

    Your search for a super easy dinner ends here. Be prepared to wow your family and friends with this delicious combination of prawn curry and rice crepes. I can eat these delicate, lace textured crepes anytime of the day. All you need is a bunch of basic ingredients and a squeeze bottle, you are good to go. If you’re into DIY, you could always use an old water bottle, and nail three holes onto the cap. You can enjoy these crepes with the curry of your choice, such as vegetable, chicken or fish curry.

    Oven Baked Chicken with Herbed Aioli

    This is my basic, go-to grilled chicken perfect for a quick weeknight dinner. You can serve the chicken breast fillets as mains with a salad on the side, topped with cheese on a toasted bun, chopped up in a quesadilla or, as I often do, sliced over a baguette drizzled with some aioli. At first glance, you may think there are too many steps and the list of ingredients is too lengthy. But trust me, the steps are extremely quick. And all of the spices listed were ones I already had in my spice cabinet.

    Party Cups with Salsa Mexicana

    I made this recipe for an impromptu get together at home. Super easy to make, this impromptu appetizer is the right combination of tart and crisp. Nothing beats a fresh batch of salsa with party cups. If you're looking for a fresh salsa recipe with lots of flavor, this one is an excellent choice. The salsa is made with fresh tomatoes and peppers, and it is seasoned perfectly with cilantro and lime juice. Besides finding firm ripe tomatoes and seeding them, the key to this salsa is adding plenty of lime juice and salt, and not skimping on the chilies.

    Katla Machha Jholo – Fresh water carp with nigella infused tomato gravy

    Going to the fish market is never a chore for me, thanks to my father who made me a part of all those Sundays when he went on a fish buying spree. Being in the army made us change towns often but with every new city we moved to, we looked forward to go around hunting for the best fish available. A lot of hits and misses happened till Papa settled for his favorite fish guy. We just moved cities and one of my first posts in a forum on Facebook was “Where can I get good fish?” and with each new suggestion I went around Pune looking for the best fish that I could get. A visit to a fish market, although a smelly and a noisy experience can be worthwhile especially for fish lovers. Being an Odia, I love the hustle bustle, aroma and the chaos of a fish market but for my Punjabi husband, the opposite holds true. But he eats fish with as much gusto as me…

    Fire Roasted Eggplant Dip- Baba Ghanoush

    A creamy and really scrumptious dip from the Middle East, Baba Ghanoush, actually means Spoilt Dad in Arabic. I call it a much creamier companion to the hummus. My version of the Baba Ghanoush includes simpler ingredients…roasted eggplant, tahini, garlic and salt and for a more flavorful dip I use cumin, lemon and a little smoked paprika… Use this dip as a smart tidbit with lavash, vegetables, sliced bread or baked pita chips.