Lockdown Diaries: Food special with Mita Mehta, Rekha Somavarapu, Mezze Platter, Priyanka Agarwal

Recently, we’ve all been doing the one thing that we’ve done since time immemorial to comfort ourselves – stuff our face with our favourite food. Whether it’s ordering from online, making it yourself, or waiting eagerly as your parent/spouse makes a delicious dinner. Food is something that comforts us when the whole world around us is plunged into chaos. There is something just so soothing in talking about what you made or ate, and excitedly trading recipes and tips with any and every one – that’s how we Hyderabadis show love! Here are a few recipes for some amazing food from people around the city!         – Devanshi

Mita Mehta
A wealth manager and home decor stylist, cooking has always been Mita’s passion, and this current situation has further magnified her love. The only thing that has changed is that Mita is now focussing on healthy snacking. A firm believer of“healthy treatscan be tasty,” she shares a few recipes that proves her point.

Watermelon Goat Cheese Salad

Ingredients                      Qty

freshly cut watermelon cubes
shredded goat cheese/any cheese
fresh lime juice
orange zest(freshly grated)
roasted and cut walnuts
chopped fresh mint leaves
pepper
one cup
as required
1 tbsp
½ tsp
8-10 pieces
as required
to taste

Instructions

1. Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl and serve.

Papaya Belly Soother

Ingredients                         Qty

Papaya
cultured coconut milk
lime juice half
raw honey
one cup
one cup
a lime
1 tbsp

Instructions

1. Blend all the ingredients in a mixer, and serve chilled.


Rekha Somavarapu
Rekha Somavarapu, the founder and director of the tech start-up Marketfront, is passionate about travelling, reading, fitness, trying out new cuisines, restaurants, and spending time with her friends and family.
For Rekha, festivals are important and celebrates it with a lot of devotion and homemade food. Here are two recipes of popular South Indian festivals dishes prepared during Sravana Masam Varalakshmi puja.

Paramannam/Rice Payasam

Ingredients                         Qty

Rice
full-fat milk
grated jiggery
ghee
split cashews
cardamom powder
1/2 cup
1 cup
1/3 - 1/2 cup
1 tsp
2 tbsp
1/2 tsp

Instructions

1. Wash the rice thoroughly and add to a heavy-bottomed vessel with milk. On medium flame, steam the mix for 15 minutes till the rice is well-cooked. Mash it lightly with a heavy ladle, and let it cool to room temperature.

2. In a heavy-bottomed vessel, heat the ghee, addthe splitcashews to it. Fry till it turns light brown, and then add 1/4 cup water (or lesser if you want it to be thick) and bring to a boil.

3. Add the grated jaggery depending on how sweet you want it to be. Over medium heat, stir the jaggery continuously till it thickens a bit. Then, turn off the heat and let the syrup cool to room temperature.

4. Add the cardamom powder and edible camphor, and mix well. When both the syrup and the rice are lukewarm, mix them well. Offer the Bellam Paramannam as naivedyam, and enjoy as prasadam.

Poornaam Boorelu

Ingredients                                Qty

For the stuffing/Poornaam
chana dal
grated jiggery
water
cardamom
grated coconut
For the outer covering
raw rice
round white urad dal
water
salt
sugar
cooking oil


1/2 cup
3/4 cup
1/3 cup
2
1//4 cup

1/2 cup
1/4 cup
as required
a pinch
1/2 tsp
to deep fry

Instructions

1. Wash and soak the rice and urad dal together for at least 4 hours or overnight. Grind to a slightly coarse paste to the consistency of the batter, adding water as required. Set aside for 1-5 hours. Pressure cook the chana dal with enough water, then grind to a coarse paste without water or mash it with a ladle.

2. In a pan, melt jaggery and water. Strain it with a metal strainer, and then boil the syrup till it becomes frothy. Add the ground chana dal paste, cardamom powder, and grated coconut and mix well. Switch off the stove and make golf-sized balls.

3. Heat the oil to deep fry. Take the ground batter, add sugar, and mix well. Simmer the flame and dip a stuffing ball into the mixture using a spoon. Deep fry the balls in medium flame till it turns slightly golden with brown spots.


Suvidha Mankani
A wife, mother, and an entrepreneur, Suvidha Mankani has spent some good quality time with my husband and kids during this lockdown. It’s been tough for all of us to keep our mind sane, and she has gone through it by keeping herself busy, whether by trying new recipes, reviving her love for art, exploring online webinars, playing board games with the kids, or even working out like crazy. Her cooking endeavours led to these amazing recipes that she was kind enough to share with us!

Creamy Lemon Garlic Chicken with Asparagus

Ingredients                                            Qty

medium chicken breasts
(boneless, skinless)
Italian seasoning
crushed red pepper,
salt, pepper
olive oil
butter (divided)
asparagus (trimmed and cut in 3rds
onion (minced)
garlic (minced)
heavy cream
lemon juice
parmesan cheese (optional)

4
1 tbsp
 
1/2 tsp each
1 tbsp
2 tbsp
1 pound
1/2 cup
3-4 cloves
1 cup
2 tbsp
1/4 cup   

Instructions

1. Season the chicken with Italian seasoning, crushed chilli pepper, salt, and pepper. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken to the pan and cook for 5-6 minutes each side. Remove from skillet and set aside.

2. Add butter, onion, and asparagus to the skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until tender. Add the garlic and cook for just under a minute. Add heavy cream, lemon juice, and parmesan cheese; stir to combine.

3. Return the chicken to the pan and simmer 3-4 minutes or until the sauce has thickened. Taste and adjust the salt & pepper if needed. If the sauce is too thick, add 1/4 cup water, chicken stock or broth.  Serve with Jasmine or steamed rice.

Mezze Platter

Ingredients                                                      Qty

For the Hummus
garbanzo beans chickpeas,
drained and rinsed
garlic
lemon juice
olive or grapeseed oil
white sesame seeds
water
ground cumin
salt
crushed red pepper
flakes optional
chopped parsley optional
For the Tzatziki
grated cucumber
(from about 1 medium
10-ounce cucumber)
plain Greek yogurt
extra-virgin olive oil
chopped fresh mint and/or dill
lemon juice
medium clove garlic,
pressed or minced
fine sea salt
For the Baked Falafel
extra-virgin olive oil
dried (uncooked/raw) chickpeas, rinsed,
picked over and soaked for at least
and up to 24 hours in the refrigerator
roughly chopped red onion
packed fresh parsley
packed fresh cilantro
garlic, quartered
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
ground cumin
ground cinnamon


 
1 can 15 oz.
2 cloves
2 tbsp
3 tbsp
2 tbsp
3 tbsp
1/2 tsp
1/4 tsp
 
garnish
garnish

 

2 cups
1 ½ cups
2 tbsp
2 tbsp
1 tbsp
 
1
½ tsp

¼ cup + 1 tablespoon

4 hours
1 cup
½ cup
½ cup
½ cup
4 cloves
1 tsp
½ tsp (about 25 twists)
½ tsp
¼ tsp

Instructions

1. Put the beans, garlic, sesame seeds, lemon juice, and oil in a food processor and blend until smooth. Add water, two tablespoons at a time, and blend to reach desired consistency. Season with salt, and cumin. Stir, set aside.

To make the Tzatziki:

2. Without peeling your cucumber grate it on the large holes of your box grater. Take a handful at a time and lightly squeeze between your palms over the sink to remove all the excess moisture. Add the yogurt, olive oil, herbs, lemon juice, garlic, and salt to the bowl, and stir to blend.

3. Let the mixture rest for 5 minutes then taste and add additional chopped fresh herbs, lemon juice, and/or salt, if necessary. Serve immediately, or chill for later.

For the Baked Falafel:

1. Preheat oven to 375° F. Pour ¼ cup of the olive oil into a large, rimmed baking sheet and turn until the pan is evenly coated. In a food processor, combine the soaked and drained chickpeas, onion, parsley, cilantro, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, cinnamon, and the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Process until smooth, for a minute.

2. Using your hands, scoop out about 2 tbsp of the mixture at a time. Shape the falafel into small patties, about 2 inches wide and ½ inch thick. Place each falafel on your oiled pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, carefully flipping the falafels halfway through baking, until the falafels are deeply golden on both sides.


Priyanka Agarwal
Priyanka loves food and has never cooked as much as she did during this lockdown. The ultimate foodie, she is a go-to person for suggestions on what to eat at various restaurants. Having started cooking during the lockdown, she realised she loves cooking as much as eating and feeding her friends and family. When she’s not surrounded by food, Priyanka is working – another passion of hers! She shares recipes of two delicious-looking dishes.

Teriyaki Mushrooms

Ingredients                                                      Qty

red bell peppers
yellow bell peppers
capsicum
onion
mushroom stem
teriyaki sauce
cashews
mozzarella cheese
amul cheese
garlic
celery and leek
turmeric powder
salt
For the marination
minced/ finely chopped onions
garlic
oil
teriyaki sauce
bell peppers cut in squares
mushroom

¼
¼
½
½
10
2 tsp
2-3 pieces
2 tsp
1 cube
½ tsp
2 tsp
a pinch
to taste

½
½ tsp
1 tsp
1 ½ tsp
12 pieces
10

Instructions

1. Boil the mushrooms with turmeric and salt. After 10 minutes, add it to marination of oil, garlic, onions, teriyaki sauce and bell peppers. Set aside for an hour.

2. Take oil, garlic leek, onion, and celery and toss it till the onions turn light brown. Add the capsicum, bell peppers, and mushrooms stems. Then add teriyaki sauce. Make it like a paste by cooking till it’s soft.

3. Add the mozzarella, and processed cheese and your paste is ready. Heat some oil in a pan. Meanwhile, skewer mushrooms filled with stuffing, and bell peppers. Fry till it turns brown and a little more to add a charred flavour. Serve hot.

Tomato Bruschetta

Ingredients                                Qty

multigrain bread
tomato
parmesan cheese
chopped garlic
olive oil
oregano
chopped fresh basil
salt
as required
4
2 tsp
8 cloves
2 tsp
1 tsp
2 tsp
to taste

Instructions

 1. Toast the multigrain bread, and then apply olive oil on it. In a bowl mix all the other ingredients, the spread on the toast and serve.

Pesto Sauce Mushroom Bruschetta

Ingredients                                            Qty

For the mushrooms
Mushrooms
olive oil
garlic finely chopped
mixed herbs- oregano and parsley
chilli flakes
For the pesto sauce
Chopped fresh basil
roasted almonds
roasted cashews
cheese
garlic
olive oil
salt
For the mushrooms
10
2 tsp
6 cloves
1 tsp
to taste
For the pesto sauce
1 cup
5
5
2 tsp
5 cloves
2 tsp
to taste

Instructions

1. Sauté the mushroom in olive oil with all the other ingredients. Grind all the ingredients for the pesto sauce together till it becomes a paste. Add the sautéed mushrooms to it. Toast the multigrain bread, and then apply olive oil on it. Spread the mushrooms on the toast and serve.


Aarti Badruka
Aarti, along with her mother-in-law Usha Badruka, runs Orange Feathers Events. During this lockdown, she found her passion for cooking and came up with a few great dishes andhappily shared the recipes with us.

Bisi Bele Bath

Ingredients                                    Qty

Rice
toor daal
bisi bele bath/sambar masala
tamarind paste
small jiggery
asafoetida
cumin seeds
mustard seeds
ghee
dried red chillies
turmeric powder
red chilli powder
curry leaves
garlic
salt
carrot, beans, bottle gourd,
radish, potato, onion, tomato
1 cup
½ cup
3 tbsp
3tbs
1
½ tbsp
½ tbsp
½ tbsp
3 tbsp
4
1 tbsp
1 tbsp
8-10
10 cloves
to taste  
carrot, beans, bottle gourd,
chopped into big cubes

Instructions

1. Soak a cup of rice and half a cup toor dal for 2 to 3 hours. In a cooker, add ghee and when heated, add asafoetida, cumin seeds, chopped garlic, onions, tomato, and vegetables of your choice.

2. Then add the soaked rice and dal, along with salt, red chilli powder, bisi bele bath or sambar masala, turmeric powder and a small chunk of jaggery; give it a good mix.

3. Add water, stir it well, and cook in a pressure cook for 3 to 4 whistles. When cooled, add tamarind paste, stir, and boil it again in the cooker. In another vessel heat ghee and mustard seeds.

4. When the seeds begin to splutter, add curry leaves and dried and broken red chillies. Pour this chauk to the cooked bhat, garnish with fresh coriander leaves on top, and serve steaming hot. Can be served with Moong Daal Pakodas.

Vegetable Biryani

Ingredients                                                   Qty

cubed potato
cubed carrots
cubed beans
finely chopped fresh coriander
finely chopped mint leaves
ginger garlic green chillies paste
sour curd
turmeric powder
garam masala
kasturi methi
black salt
ghee
saffron
shah jeera
fried onions
cardamom
black cumin
cloves
cinnamon
bay leaf
basmati rice
1 cup
1 cup
1 cup
½ cup
½ cup
1 tbsp
1 cup
½ tbsp
2 tbsp
1 tbsp
½ tbsp
4 spoons
¼ tbsp
½ tbsp
1 cup
2
2
2
2
2
2 cups

Instructions

1. In a bowl, add sour curd, all the vegetables, coriander, mint leaves, ginger garlic green chilli paste, and half of the fried onions. Then, add all the masalas – garam masala, turmeric powder, saffron, salt, black salt, kasturi methi, and ghee and give it a good mix. Set itaside for 3 hours.

2. In a pan, boil water and add cardamom, black cumin, cloves, cinnamon, bay leaf, and then add basmati rice and let it cook. When done, strain the water and keep the rice aside.

3. In another pan, add ghee and shah jeera. Add the marinated vegetables and cook for 25 minutes on a medium heat with a lid. Make sure you keep stirring in between.

4. Take a microwave-friendly big bowl and add a layer of rice at the bottom, followed by masala in between, then add a layer of rice, and garnish with lots of chopped fresh coriander and fried onions. Heat it in the microwave and serve hot with raita or salan.