It was a simple problem.
1. One craves parathas made from scratch. Ergo, one makes parathas from scratch.
2. One simply cannot eat more than two parathas at a sitting.
3. The making of said parathas requires a bit of planning and elbow grease.
4. Umm, lets just say, I am built for distance, not speed. Ergo, I would rather make a stack of 12 parathas at a go than two parathas in a jiffy.
5. Parathas don't keep well.
6. Stalemate (pun unintended)

And so I embarked on a quest for home-made parathas that could be frozen and eaten later. I tossed and turned, looking for solutions. And then, I was dipping into Dim Sum when inspiration struck. (Side note: Have you noticed how many good things happen over Dim Sum? Marvellous really.) But I digress. The point is, I was delicately cutting leek pockets into demure bite-sized pieces, completely entranced by their fluffy, crispy perfection when the old neurons fired. This, I mused, is what I want the texture of my parathas to be. Almost instantaneously, the vision of Ming Tsai, in his blue shirt, smiling and confident, appeared in my head. Of course! I almost clapped my hand on my forehead: the Blue Ginger Cracker Dough! A ha! I would make parathas with the blue ginger cracker dough recipe. If it works for Ming Tsai's scallion pancakes, surely it would work with parathas...

I was unstoppable. I wanted to rush home and slave over a hot stove. I hunted down potatoes. Mashed them and chucked in ginger, garlic and green chillies to make a robust filling. One that would have any truck driver in the Punjab twirling his mustache with unfeigned approval. I made the dough with whole wheat bread flour, yeast, one tablespoon vegetable oil and water. Gave it plenty of time to sit and rise. Sure enough, it doubled. Fortunately for me, the dough was easy to work with and lent itself to the folding and fussing that makes a paratha the lovely, fluffy crispy thing that it is.

The Verdict:
The whole wheat bread flour in the dough made the parathas heartier than the usual version made with atta. I see this as a positive change. In addition, the parathas held their fluffiness better than the traditional atta-version. I froze a batch to use in a week. The whole wheat - spiced potato mix is quite unbeatable, although I'm sure peas and/or cauliflower would be a nice variation. I've cut up parathas into little wedges and served them as an appetizer. Also tried working the dough into quesadilla and pocket shapes. All in all, I think the whole wheat version of the cracker dough will work quite nicely to make a robust, hearty paratha.

Paratha How-to on the web, pretty pictures and all
1. Spinach and cheese version - yum!
2. Bureka Boy's unstoppable cauliflower filling!
3. A mixed dal version thats on my mind...



Much good food has been consumed over the last few weeks and I owe you a bunch of reviews. Now that I finally have a minute to catch my breath, heres the skinny! Lets start with Gusto (pun unintended)!

Gusto is a lovely Italian place on Alexander, right next to the Toad and across from Bamba Bistro. Housed in the gorgeous Medical Arts building, I've driven past/walked by Gusto often, making mental notes to stop by. Look at that picture below), you will start to appreciate my will power! Its almost impossible to resist the temptation to step into this charmingly stylish cafe. The interior is full of vibrant colors and interesting little tchotchkes. The high ceilings and windows make all the difference. I like the layout - there isn't a bad table in the house. You could sit facing the other diners or you could be looking out the window. Alexander Street is a good place for people watching - so its a win-win situation!

My inner cautious-ness led me to suggest Gusto for lunch. When I'm trying a new place, I usually head there for lunch. Most places are less crowded and less pretentious over lunch! I had one of their daily specials: Baked Acorn Squash with Parmesan Risotto, served with a Baby Spinach Salad. It was very good. The portions were perfectly sized. The acorn squash was cooked to perfection, soft, golden and fragrant without going overboard on the butter. The parmesan was fresh and not greasy. Both these features earns Gusto many points in my book. Too often, restaurants try to over-compensate for lack of flavor by slathering food in butter and/or olive oil. The salad was extraordinarily simple - baby spinach and little shavings of parmesan. Every leaf was fresh and crisp, the cheese was creamy and tart, not overly salty. My dining partner (my boss!) tried the Chicken Pastina soup and the Italian sausage panini. Both were fresh and flavorful.

All in all, its the kind of place that you could go to with your co-workers for lunch in the middle of a weekday. Reasonably priced, flavorful food with enough choices to please everyone. Our waitress (who was, incidentally, unusually chatty but not in a creepy way) pointed out that its also a popular date place, especially in the evenings. I could see why - the interesting-looking chandelier and sumptuous curtains somehow set the right mood: casual yet intimate. There you have it - Gusto has my blessing! Go try it!

Gusto on the web:
1. Reviews on RocWiki
2. Official Gusto website


Grey matters

I am like the Phoenix this week, gentle reader. Rising from the ashes, so to speak. A happy tangle of neurons used to live in the top storey. Firing madly. And now they float in a broth of caffeine, alcohol, fear and sleep deprivation. Sigh. Pass the chocolate!!

Tried simulating domestic goddess-hood by making Nigella Lawson's famed Banana Bread, from 'How to be a domestic goddess'.


- Substituted whole wheat flour and a tablespoon of wheat germ
- Half white sugar + half brown sugar.
- 6 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons yoghurt

The verdict:

Rum soaked raisins are the ticket! I will admit that I had my doubts - I sat on my hands, desperately fighting the urge to chuck in chocolate chips. To my disbelief and delight, the bread was fabulous. Gorgeous to look at, excellent texture and taste. Full of that sweet banana goodness. The almost rustic heartiness of the whole wheat is a nice foil for the sultry echoes of the rum/raisin combination. There is of course, the small matter of what to do with raisin flavored rum...


Previous banana bread ideas included this Banana Crumb Muffin Look-Alike. But ever since Nigella's Banana Bread (above), there hasn't been that much motivation to look for new recipes! Meet other banana bread aficionados at Not Quite Nigella's Banana Bread Bake Off!