I mentioned I was doing a catering gig for Christmas. This is the opening course. Ragda patties with raita, green chutney, and persimmon and pomegranate chutney.. 
The patties were made with potatoes, homemade paneer and spices (Kashmiri chili powder, whole cumin, fresh herbs, and others). My raita had pickled red onions, cucumbers and lemon zest. The green chutney was mainly Indian green chilies, cilantro, and lime juice. The persimmon chutney had persimmons, pomegranates, and lime juice! 

I mentioned I was doing a catering gig for Christmas. This is the opening course. Ragda patties with raita, green chutney, and persimmon and pomegranate chutney.. 

The patties were made with potatoes, homemade paneer and spices (Kashmiri chili powder, whole cumin, fresh herbs, and others). My raita had pickled red onions, cucumbers and lemon zest. The green chutney was mainly Indian green chilies, cilantro, and lime juice. The persimmon chutney had persimmons, pomegranates, and lime juice! 

Scalded milk chips dusted with caramel and sea salt? Wait, what? Did I just come up with that? 
I just burn the bottom of my paneer pot and didn’t scrape it until I took out the whey and the curds. The curds, I turned into paneer, the whey I used in my palak broth, and the scalded bottom, I used to make this crazy thing! 
I poured hot milk over the scalded bottom and scraped it gently in large sheets once it loosened. Then I put it on a plate and let it “dehydrate” overnight. 
I had some caramel sugar crystals — I ran them through my spice grinder with a little bit of sea salt. I seasoned the chips. And I ate them. I think it actually works.  High-res

Scalded milk chips dusted with caramel and sea salt? Wait, what? Did I just come up with that? 

I just burn the bottom of my paneer pot and didn’t scrape it until I took out the whey and the curds. The curds, I turned into paneer, the whey I used in my palak broth, and the scalded bottom, I used to make this crazy thing! 

I poured hot milk over the scalded bottom and scraped it gently in large sheets once it loosened. Then I put it on a plate and let it “dehydrate” overnight. 

I had some caramel sugar crystals — I ran them through my spice grinder with a little bit of sea salt. I seasoned the chips. And I ate them. I think it actually works. 

Black lentil dal with homemade paneer, toasted papad, lime and amla pickles, jeera and mint rice, veg entre of the day (at Culinary Institute Of America). My teammate and myself whipped this up in 45 minutes. Papad and the pickles are store bought. Papad was roasted on the grill. 
We reserved the whey from the paneer and made a vegetable stock with it. Cooked the lentils in the whey — gave it a tangy profile. We used South Indian spices in this dal, though we used urad dal. Curry leaves, kasthuri methi, jeera, mustard seeds, ajwain, mirch, coriander, turmeric and garlic / ginger / onions. 
We deep fried the paneer for color and texture, and seasoned it before adding to the lentils. 
The rice was cooked in a vegetable stock and finished with butter, toasted cumin, cilantro and mint. 
It was a good day!  High-res

Black lentil dal with homemade paneer, toasted papad, lime and amla pickles, jeera and mint rice, veg entre of the day (at Culinary Institute Of America). My teammate and myself whipped this up in 45 minutes. Papad and the pickles are store bought. Papad was roasted on the grill. 

We reserved the whey from the paneer and made a vegetable stock with it. Cooked the lentils in the whey — gave it a tangy profile. We used South Indian spices in this dal, though we used urad dal. Curry leaves, kasthuri methi, jeera, mustard seeds, ajwain, mirch, coriander, turmeric and garlic / ginger / onions. 

We deep fried the paneer for color and texture, and seasoned it before adding to the lentils. 

The rice was cooked in a vegetable stock and finished with butter, toasted cumin, cilantro and mint. 

It was a good day! 

Tawa pulao — Indian vegetable fried rice. That cast iron griddle is a tawa. Tawa pulao is not very common in Mumbai but it’s fun to indulge when you do run into it. This is essentially a stir fried rice. Pulaos come from the Middle East… and they go right in your tummy! 
Near Crawford Market, Mumbai, India High-res

Tawa pulao — Indian vegetable fried rice. That cast iron griddle is a tawa. Tawa pulao is not very common in Mumbai but it’s fun to indulge when you do run into it. This is essentially a stir fried rice. Pulaos come from the Middle East… and they go right in your tummy! 

Near Crawford Market, Mumbai, India

Olympia is an iconic joint for Mumbaikar. At breakfast they serve the famous keema, a minced mutton fry with vatana or green peas and masala that is spiked with green chilis and whole spices. It’s served with white bread usually. 
I like mine on a two egg omellete with chapati. It was my favorite breakfast during my tandoor days in Mumbai. Also, if you get lucky, you’ll coincide with buffalo milk chai. They don’t have this all the time but when they do, it’s a delight.
Olympia, Colaba, Mumbai High-res

Olympia is an iconic joint for Mumbaikar. At breakfast they serve the famous keema, a minced mutton fry with vatana or green peas and masala that is spiked with green chilis and whole spices. It’s served with white bread usually. 

I like mine on a two egg omellete with chapati. It was my favorite breakfast during my tandoor days in Mumbai. Also, if you get lucky, you’ll coincide with buffalo milk chai. They don’t have this all the time but when they do, it’s a delight.

Olympia, Colaba, Mumbai

India’s cooks are true masters of garnishes lending textural contrast as well as fresh flavors, color, shine and kick to already excellent dishes….
Clockwise from the upper left: Fried papad or lentil crackers, spicy lemon pickle, bindhi Jaipuri or spicy deep fried Indian okra, mint and cucumber juice, mattar or pea pulao with crispy onions and coriander, gobi khadi pakoda — deep fried cauliflower in rich yogurt broth, subz makhni — vegetables braised in a tomato sauce thickened with cashews
Arthithi Hotel, Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu High-res

India’s cooks are true masters of garnishes lending textural contrast as well as fresh flavors, color, shine and kick to already excellent dishes….

Clockwise from the upper left: Fried papad or lentil crackers, spicy lemon pickle, bindhi Jaipuri or spicy deep fried Indian okra, mint and cucumber juice, mattar or pea pulao with crispy onions and coriander, gobi khadi pakoda — deep fried cauliflower in rich yogurt broth, subz makhni — vegetables braised in a tomato sauce thickened with cashews

Arthithi Hotel, Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu

Chicken tikka three ways  — three classic flavors familiar from my tandoori days in Mumbai: Creamy saffron, tandoori chicken, and green chicken! 
The details on this dish were excellent. The trio was certainly cooked very consciously. Only the yogurt marinated tandoori chicken has strong enough of a flavor to stand up to a decent char and there you have it, it has an excellent amount. Each piece was tender and well cooked. The haara (green) chicken had a garlic and green chili forward flavor with a sweet coriander balancing the whole thing. Classic combination! 
My chardonnay from Bourgogne was the first glass of wine I had in two months!
This was at one of my favorite restaurants so far in India. The Dupleix in Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu High-res

Chicken tikka three ways — three classic flavors familiar from my tandoori days in Mumbai: Creamy saffron, tandoori chicken, and green chicken! 

The details on this dish were excellent. The trio was certainly cooked very consciously. Only the yogurt marinated tandoori chicken has strong enough of a flavor to stand up to a decent char and there you have it, it has an excellent amount. Each piece was tender and well cooked. The haara (green) chicken had a garlic and green chili forward flavor with a sweet coriander balancing the whole thing. Classic combination! 

My chardonnay from Bourgogne was the first glass of wine I had in two months!

This was at one of my favorite restaurants so far in India. The Dupleix in Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu

The ominous planet on my plate is technically a poori / puri: A puffed balloon of a bread! This giant version is called a bhatoora / bature. It’s originally from Punjab but orbited down South. The chole (spiced chickpeas) was a classic southern chickpea fry with sweet spices, tomatoes, cashews and coconut. 
Again the fun factor is on the front. When you pierce this thing the first time, a cloud of steam emerges. You’ve gotta watch out! 
Surguru Spot, Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu High-res

The ominous planet on my plate is technically a poori / puri: A puffed balloon of a bread! This giant version is called a bhatoora / bature. It’s originally from Punjab but orbited down South. The chole (spiced chickpeas) was a classic southern chickpea fry with sweet spices, tomatoes, cashews and coconut. 

Again the fun factor is on the front. When you pierce this thing the first time, a cloud of steam emerges. You’ve gotta watch out! 

Surguru Spot, Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu

A samosa a day, keeps the doctor away! Huh?

Well, I surely anticipate my daily samosa every morning. Each vendor prepares them differently and differences abound between northern and southern parts of India. 

The samosas in the south have a thinner crust much like the Turkish yufka (i.e. Muska borek). They are rarely stuffed with potatoes, often have cabbages, carrots, lots of onions and sometimes southern flavors such as coconut chunks, mustard seeds and curry leaves. 

The northern samosa is usually a larger portion, stuffed with potatoes and peas — and for some a complete meal with chutneys. 

Yea, most samosas soak up a lot of fat and will clog your arteries. But who needs such big arteries anyway, clog them away! 

My father adores these things. It was a ritual for him for the longest time to solve the Cumhuriyet Sunday crossword puzzle, with a palmier, and a cup of tea on Kınalı Island in Istanbul.

Only years later did I come to enjoy the flaky layers of dough, the varying degrees of caramelization, the crunchiness, and the noise that just fills your head and stops everything else around you once you bite into them! 

Baker Street, Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu