Wednesday, October 20, 2010


When I launched this blog I wanted it to be interactive with some interesting guest posts to add variety to the blog. I am happy that Dustedoff accepted my invitation and provided me with itistastyma’s first guest post. Dustedoff is not only a blogger but also an accomplished writer and as is obvious from the photos a very good cook. So it is over to Dustedoff.

A Duo of Side Dishes
Though I like cooking, I’m generally too lazy to do fancy cooking on a daily basis. So, most meals at my home consist of a main dish, a side dish (often a salad) and rice, rotis, pasta, whatever. If I’m doing an Indian meal, I like to jazz up the side dish and go beyond a mere salad: a raita, for instance. In the summer, especially, a light and refreshing raita appeals to me much more than a dal or a kadhi.
At their very basic, my raitas consist of finely chopped onions, tomatoes and cucumbers, mixed into whisked yoghurt and spiced with salt, red chilli powder, a little black salt, sugar and sambhar powder. When I’m feeling in the mood for something different, I do a spinach raita (boiled and chopped spinach with yoghurt, finely minced garlic and salt) or an aubergine raita (boiled and mashed aubergine, mixed with yoghurt and salt, tempered with mustard seeds and curry leaves). Or one of these, a little more complex but very satisfying:

Cucumber and Peanut Raita

  • 1 medium cucumber
  • 1 tbsp plain unsalted peanuts
  • 1 cup plain yoghurt
  • 1 green chilli, chopped
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Juice of ½ small lime
  • 2 tsps vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 3 sprigs fresh curry leaves, chopped
1. Peel and grate the cucumber.
2. Dry-roast the peanuts on a hot griddle or frying pan until the skins start loosening and turning black in spots. Tip the peanuts into a plate and keep aside till cool enough to handle; then rub the skins off the peanuts.
3. Coarsely crush the skinned peanuts and mix into the grated cucumber.
4. Whisk the yoghurt till it’s smooth and add to the cucumber and peanuts, along with the chopped green chilli, sugar, salt and limejuice. Mix well.
5. Heat the oil in a frying pan. When it’s hot, add the mustard seeds, which should start spluttering immediately.
6. Wait till the seeds stop spluttering, then add the chopped curry leaves. Stir once, remove from the fire and pour onto the raita. Mix well and serve.

Serves 3-4.  

Arvi ke Kabab

 This isn’t strictly a raita; it’s actually a sort of vegetarian kabab served with an unusual raita. It’s not a family recipe (my mother came across it many years ago in a magazine), but it’s become one of my favourite ways of serving arvi.

For the kababs:
  • 250 gm arvi (taro corms)
  • ½ tsp ajwain (carom) seeds
  • Oil for deep frying
  • ½ tsp powdered coriander seed
  • ½ tsp powdered cumin seed
  • ¼ tsp red chilli powder
  • Salt to taste

For the raita:
  • 1 cup yoghurt
  • 1 tsp Tabasco™red pepper sauce
  • Salt to taste
  • I medium onion, finely chopped
1. Wash the arvi well and boil till tender. Drain and cool.
2. Peel the arvi and flatten each piece slightly between your palms. Don’t press too hard, or the arvi will break.
3. Heat the oil in a wok or kadhai. When it gets good and hot, deep fry the arvi in batches till golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper.
3. Drain away all the oil from the kadhai except about 2 tsps full. Let this oil get hot again, then add the ajwain seeds.
4. Turn the flame low and immediately add the fried arvi. Toss gently so that the fried ajwain evenly spreads through the arvi.
5. Add the powdered coriander seed, cumin seed, red chilli and salt, and mix carefully into the arvi. Remove from the fire as soon as the spices are mixed; longer, and the spices start to burn.
6. In a bowl, put in the yoghurt and whisk till smooth.
7. Add Tabasco, salt and chopped onion into the yoghurt and mix well.
8. Serve the arvi kababs with the raita on the side. You can either dip each kabab into your serving of raita, or drizzle the raita over the kababs.

Serves 2-3. 


  1. Well both the dishes look absolutely inviting although I have never had raita with mustard seeds and curry leaves. Isn't it a typical south Indian tadka?A nice fusion of north and south. The kabab even without tasting it I know is going to be tasty; such dishes always are.

  2. I really liked that sound of the aubergine and spinach raita. will try them soon :)

  3. Looks very tasty.
    I think I am going to try making the raita once myself.
    Btw, at the risk of flaunting my ignorance :-), what is "curry leaf"? Is it "kariya patta"?

  4. @raja : yes curry leaves is kariya patta.

    @Sharmi: I have had spinach raita without the garlic, it tastes real good.

  5. Shilpi: Thanks so much for publishing my recipes! Yes, you're right about the mustard seed and curry patta tadka: it's very South Indian. In fact, I also have some lovely recipes for pachadis - raitas with different vegetables - all of them with this tadka. Tastes lovely! You can even add the tadka to a simple onion and tomato raita with salt and red chilli powder for a different flavour.

  6. Sharmi: The spinach raita is a particular favourite of mine. My mother also makes a baingan bharta which is a cross between the baingan raita and the North Indian style bharta (which has tomatoes). She roasts the baingan, peels and mashes it, then fries a little chopped onion and garlic with green chillies, adds yoghurt to it, fries another 3-4 minutes, and adds the baingan mash along with salt. When she's feeling indulgent, she tops it off with a tempering of zeera fried in hot ghee. Delicious!

    raja: Yup, Shilpi's right. It is kariya patta.

  7. You are right about the tempering of ghee my mum loves to use pure ghee which used to make at home. Sadly now not any more you know you have to be a little careful with sinful stuff like pure ghee.

  8. Hey Shilpi ! your blog on Durga Puja was like as though we actually attended and seen it with our own eyes. Well next year please let me know i would definetiely like to come along with you Pandal hopping . Hope i can make it. This year i could not attend the Chembur Durga pujo as i was away in Kerala during the period... of pujo. Last year i attended and tasted some of the food mentioned by you. But cannot say if it was good as am not very much exposed to bengali food . But yes with Sweet Bengal coming very close to our place we very often have luchi alloo , singhada and benagli sweets .Take care and warm regdrds to your mom n bro.
    See More

  9. Thanks Rajee for stopping by and isn't Durga Puja fun.