• Laotian Peanuts: Luang Prabang Flavours

    April 30, 2024peppercook

    No 60th birthday is complete without the semi-surprise family vacation! I truly had no idea where we were going until packing 4 days before our vacay. And what a surprise – I would have never guessed we were headed to Luang Prabang in Laos! And what a great time we had!  Laos, officially known as the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, is a landlocked country located in Southeast Asia. Laos is bordered by China to the north, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south, Thailand to the west, and Myanmar (Burma) to the northwest. The Mekong River forms a large part of its western boundary with Thailand. The population of Laos is primarily composed of ethnic Lao people, who have their own distinct language and…

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  • Delicious Kohlrabi Salad

    March 11, 2023peppercook

    Get your crunch on with this delicious kohlrabi salad topped with delicately poached prawns! 🥗🌱 At this time of the year, I always get a huge bundle of kohlrabi (also known as nol khol in Northern India) from my father-in-law’s farm in the hills of Mahableshwar. And I can never figure out what to do with it!  I never knew that kohlrabi is actually a member of the cabbage family and is a versatile and delicious vegetable that is commonly found in many cuisines. The name “kohlrabi” originates from German, where “kohl” means cabbage and “rabi” means turnip. Therefore, kohlrabi is often called a “cabbage turnip” or “turnip cabbage.”  When sliced into matchsticks, it adds a delightful crunch and flavor to salads and stir-fries.  I’ve now started making a crunchy…

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  • Black Bean and Sweet Potato Pie

    October 21, 2022peppercook

    What Covid-19 taught me is that I am a hoarder of food! And that isn’t always a bad thing. Especially with shops shut for months and so many mouths to feed stuck at home. I am also a a creative cook – not much of a recipe person at all. So I had a ton of fun while stuck at home in my kitchen! This recipe was one that came out of my overstocked pantry, when fresh ingredients were at their lowest! There was also a sudden supply of vegetables that usually ended up in the now-much-closed restaurants. Orange sweet potatoes, not much seen in Mumbai otherwise, suddenly became plentiful. What do you make when you have orange sweet potatoes, a can each of black-eyed…

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  • Gulkand (Rose Petal Jam) Yoghurt Cake

    May 26, 2021peppercook

    Being locked at home for virtually a year has given me a lot of time to experiment and play with ingredients! And thank God for Amazon! It has given me a chance to buy and experiment with lots of fun Indian and regional food favorites, both familiar and unfamiliar.  Just a little Covid retail therapy! One very familiar ingredient I rediscovered was gulkand, or Indian rose petal jam offered served in paan or betel leaves. My father loved eating paan, and as we lived in Manila, far far away from the Indian paanwalas, my Mom grew her own leaves.  And to fill the paan, she made her own gulkand (being a non-resident Indian meant making everything from scratch! Not unlike my kitchen life in Cochin.)…

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  • Seva Kitchen at The Pepper Cook Studio

    March 17, 2020peppercook

    I’ve always wanted to run a soup kitchen, inspired by the langars (community free kitchens) serving meals at the Gurudwaras (Sikh places of worship) while growing up in the Philippines. Later in college, I spent several years working in a soup kitchen too.   The city of Mumbai needs community kitchens to serve the people who live on our streets. While my desire was to create a large space where people could come in and eat on tables with dignity, I knew I had to start somewhere small. The second inspiration to start Seva Kitchen came from my study of the Bhagavad Geeta and Vedanta – Hindu philosophy based on the Vedas. Seva is a Sanskrit word that describes the act of selfless service. Seva is an…

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  • Buckwheat Khichdi

    April 24, 2019thepeppercook

    If you had asked me a yer ago what buckwheat groats tasted like, I would have given you a blank stare.  But fortunately, my experiments with gluten-free food have educated me! Most people don’t realize that buckwheat is native to Indian cuisine. While its popularity has been more people looking for glutenfree options in flours (like me), buckwheat has been eaten for centuries as a “vrat” or fasting food in India.  During fasts, cereals are not eaten by Hindus, and buckwheat or “kuttu” flour is one of the many utilised options. Buckwheat, surprisingly enough, is a triangular seed from a plant that  has nothing to do with wheat.  The “wheat” in its name comes from the fact that its flour is used as wheat. I happened…

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  • Banana Flour Banana Bread

    March 29, 2019thepeppercook

    Personally I don’t have an issue with gluten at all, but when my son suffered extreme digestive distress, he was asked to go off gluten completely for three months.  In that time, I accumulated a whole pantry full of gluten-free products to experiment with (and we also ate a ton of rice!) But the outcome was that I was able to develop a whole group of new recipes and learn about innovative ingredients while he was under treatment. One of the healthy gluten-free options I explored was banana flour.  More correctly it was green or raw banana flour.  Green banana flour is simply the raw banana dried and ground with no additives. It has historically been used in Africa and Jamaica, and is now a…

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  • No-Mess Coconut Cardamom Cake

    March 7, 2019thepeppercook

    In January a year ago, my New Year’s resolution had been to cook every single recipe in my Mom’s college cooking-class notebook – now named by some of my Instagram friends as “Mom’s Golden Book,” and that too in order! But the going has been slow, and when I hit “Invalid Cookery,” I decided it was time to skip ahead to baking section! As a bread-and-pizza-only baker, I looked for the easiest recipe to start with (I’m the Goddess of easy!) I found a nicely written recipe in old measurement terminology (1½ – 2 gills of milk!) (a gill I discovered is the equivalent of a teacup or 142 ml.) This recipe is for ANY fruit cake, but I decided to make it with cardamom…

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  • Peanut Butter Chicken – College Cooking

    February 6, 2019thepeppercook

    When I visit my three children in US who are in college, I am always depressed and disappointed by the food they eat. Whether in dorm canteens, or if they live on their own in apartments, in their kitchens, most meals are dismal and consist of some kind of bread, pasta, pizza or fried chicken. Even my eldest son Jaisal, who works, says it is not worth his time to cook! Making your own meals isn’t really that time consuming – it requires just three key ingredients –  planning in advance, buying groceries and making the time to actually cook. And of course, there is the dreaded cleanup. While I will address shopping and keeping a stocked pantry in a separate blog, most simple recipes can…

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  • A 1929 Almond Cake

    January 29, 2019thepeppercook

    “Anuja Aunty can I come and cook with you?”  Music to my ears!  Aashna Sundesha, one of my favorite students had graduated from the school in Mumbai and moved to be a thriving freshman at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. She had just reached home for Christmas break and was excited about recipes she had discovered in class. While taking a course in Old Books, she had come across recipes from 1929, in a book called The New Cookery Recipe Book. I was thrilled that she had thought of me and saved these recipes for us to experiment with together! I loved the idea of delving into a little historical baking! I’m not much of a baker, with the exception of bread and cookies,…

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