W is for Welsh Rarebit

A slice of hearty bread topped with a spicy cheese sauce and grilled… that is Welsh rarebit, a comfort food if any dish can be called that. Served hot, it is one step (or many steps) above the grilled cheese sandwich of our daily lives.

As the name signifies, it has its origin in Wales, among the peasants who often substituted cheese for meat as meat was too expensive. An earlier version named ‘caws pobi’ (meaning toasted cheese) can be traced back to medieval and Tudor times, at least since the 1500s. Before the name Welsh rarebit caught on towards the end of the 18th century, there was a period of time when the dish was called ‘Welsh rabbit’ as seen in a cookbook from the year 1725. Some historians are of the opinion that it was perpetrated as a joke. Anyone remember the Boaty McBoatface episode of a funny name?

Anyways, the dish is popular in many parts of Britain and the rest of the world. It has a place of honor in the Welsh cuisine as one of the earliest traditional dishes of the region, with September 3rd celebrated as the Welsh Rarebit Day.

Though there can be variations in the recipe with more/ less mustard or the inclusion of Worcestershire sauce or cayenne, beer and cheese are the constants. The best cheese for the dish is a sharp cheddar. This is a very easy dish to make, with just a few ingredients and steps to follow. 

If an egg is served on top of the toasted bread and cheese sauce, it is called a buck rarebit.

Interesting fact: There is no existing word ‘rarebit’ except in relation to the dish; no noun, no verb, no word at all.

W is for Welsh Rarebit

Difficulty:BeginnerServings:4 servings



  1. Heat the butter in a pan over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the flour and stir to combine.
  2. Continue to cook, stirring, till the flour starts to get brown, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Add the cayenne to the pan. Give it a quick stir. Take care; cayenne burns very quickly.
  4. Whisk in the beer using a silicone whisk.
  5. Add the mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Continue to whisk till the mixture has thickened.
  6. Turn heat to low, and add the cheese, stirring well until you get a smooth mixture.
  7. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Remove from heat and pour into a flat container to set. The sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a day.
  9. When ready to prepare the dish, set the rack on the top slot of the oven and pre-heat the oven to broil.
  10. Lightly toast the bread slices and spread the sauce thickly on the bread slices.
  11. Place under the pre-heated broiler until the cheese is bubbly and the toast starts to brown.
  12. Serve hot immediately.
Keywords:Bread with cheese, Cheese, Welsh
Vada Pav

V is for Vada Pav

Vada Pav is the quintessential street food of Mumbai, the city previously called Bombay. The name literally means ‘fritter’ and ‘bread’… it is exactly that, a potato fritter coated in batter and fried, placed in a piece of bread and served with dry garlic chutney. 

The dish as it is, is not very old. In the 1960s, there was an effort to develop local businesses in the food industry and experimentation with new combinations resulted in vada pav, which was an instant hit. 

Vadas of various types have been a part of the Indian cuisine for centuries. The pav was introduced to India by the Portuguese, initially in the territory of Goa which they started to rule in the 16th century. A bit of interesting history: the port of Bombay was given to the British as part of the dowry of the Portuguese princess Catherine of Braganza when she married Charles II of England, in 1661.

The word pav comes from the Portuguese word ‘pão’ meaning bread. 

Today vada pav is considered a symbol of Mumbai street food, though it is popular in many parts of India, especially in the state of Maharashtra where Mumbai is situated.

As can be expected of a dish so popular, there are many versions of the recipe, with minor differences. I have used onions in the recipe here but many versions do not include them. Similarly, sometimes several chutneys – green chutney, tamarind chutney, garlic chutney etc – are added to the dish. I have used only dry garlic chutney here. You can find recipes for more chutneys or buy them in Indian grocery stores, if you would like to try the dish with them.

The Vadas are fried in hot oil. You can use a deep fryer or fry them in a small pan of heated oil, taking extreme care with the hot oil to prevent fires or burning.

Pav is a bit softer and sweeter than regular bread and is available in most Indian grocery stores. If you can get them, use them, as they make a difference to the end product. If not, dinner roles can be used.

This is one of those dishes that taste better outside than indoors. And they travel well too. So try them on your next picnic!

V is for Vada Pav

Difficulty:IntermediateServings:6 servings


    Garlic chutney

  • For the batter

  • For the filling

  • To assemble


  1. Dry roast the peanuts on low heat till they start getting brown spots. When they are cooled, remove the skins and set aside.
  2. Using a food processor or a mortar and pestle, grind the garlic, coconut, peanuts, cayenne and enough salt to form a rough mixture.
  3. To make the batter, mix together all the ingredients, with enough water to bring it to the consistency of a thick pancake batter. Set aside.
  4. Heat the oil in a largish pan, over medium heat.
  5. Add the mustard seeds to the hot oil. They will splutter and tend to jump out of the pan. So be sure to use a splatter screen.
  6. When the mustard seeds have finished spluttering, add the asafetida, if using. Immediately, add the onions, green chilies, ginger, garlic, and curry leaves if using, to the pan. Stir and cook till the onions start getting brown.
  7. Meanwhile, roughly mash the potatoes. Don’t overwork the potatoes into a dough.
  8. When the onions are golden brown, add the mashed potatoes and enough salt to the pan. Mix well.
  9. Turn off the heat and add the chopped cilantro leaves and mix well. Set aside till cooled.
  10. When cooled, form into uniform sized ball shapes.
  11. Coat each ball of filling in the batter, and deep fry in hot oil till crisp.
  12. Slit each of the pav down the center and toast on a buttered pan for a minute.
  13. Place a few salad leaves, some garlic chutney and a vada, slightly flattened, in each pav. Serve with additional chutney on the side.
Keywords:Aloo Vada, Batata Vada, Bombay Street Food, Mumbai Street Food

Fruit and Nut Banana Loaf

After a trip to the food store or the farmers market, there are some fruits that go straight into the refrigerator… like grapes, peaches, nectarines or any kinds of berries. Other fruits like apples, oranges, grapefruits and bananas are always left in the fruit basket. Mainly, because they don’t need refrigeration but also because space inside the refrigerator is rather scarce.


This arrangement is fine with the apples and oranges, as they keep fresh for ages and get eaten fairly soon. Haven’t studies shown that fruit outside the refrigerator gets eaten way before those inside? 🙂


It is a different story with the bananas, though. They sometimes refuse to go along with the plan. One day they are sitting there looking pretty and the next time I look, they are all covered in brown spots. But that doesn’t matter, I can easily take care of them. After all, don’t I have a bunch of recipes for over ripe bananas? From banana bread to muffins to cream pies, they are all delicious. Sometimes I purposely ignore the bananas in the fruit basket till they reach that pulpy stage!


One of the easiest things to make with very ripe bananas is a banana loaf. And this past weekend, I got around to making a quick banana loaf to be part of a brunch I was planning.


This banana loaf has a very generic ingredient list. You need half a cup of dried fruits and half a cup of nuts. In any combination. I used a mix of dried apricots, plums and raisins. And almond slivers and walnut pieces for the nuts part. Actually, a banana loaf is a smart way of using up the last bits of fruit and nut in your pantry!


And the process is rather simple too. You mash the bananas…


Add the eggs and beat them together with other liquid ingredients.


Add the chopped fruits and nuts.


Finally add the flour and gently mix everything together.


Pour the batter into pans and it is ready for the oven.


One of the best things I like about a banana loaf is the fragrance of it baking in the oven, filling the whole kitchen.


Teamed up with eggs and grapefruit, it will make a wonderful breakfast.


Not only is this banana loaf easy to make, it is pretty much healthy too. As the banana provides most of the sweetness, you wouldn’t need to add much sugar. Also, instead of butter, this is made with vegetable oil. So an overall winner!


Fruit and Nut Banana Loaf
Recipe type: Bread
  • 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 or 3 very ripe bananas
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp orange juice
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup dried fruit
  • ½ cup nuts
  • 1 tbsp orange rind, without the inside white part
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degree farenheit.
  2. Butter a 9 inch the loaf pan or two smaller ones.
  3. Mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Chop the dried fruits and nuts roughly.
  5. Thinly slice the orange rind. Or, if you prefer, you can mince it.
  6. In a large mixing bowl, mash the bananas with a fork.
  7. Add the brown sugar and orange juice and mix well with a hand-held beater.
  8. Add the eggs and continue beating.
  9. Add the vegetable oil and beat thoroughly.
  10. Gently blend in the chopped fruits, nuts and orange rind.
  11. Add the flour in batches and blend in.
  12. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pans and bake in the center of the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or a skewer inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean.
  13. Place the loaf pan on a cooling rack and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  14. Any leftovers can be frozen for later.

Zucchini Carrot Bread for Breakfast

Recently, I have started going to zumba classes. I mean, how could I not join? The classes are being held in the ground floor party hall of Condoville. That means that I can walk down as-is, literally. And it is being held after work hours. And all my friends are going… Enough reasons, right? And it is very enjoyable, indeed. The trainer An-hel has been in the fitness business for 20+ years and really knows what he is talking about. So when he suggested that I enhance my almost non-existent breakfast to make it a bit more substantial, I considered it an idea worth trying. And so far, it has been going good.


So these days, I’m looking at healthy breakfast options. Not the routine stuff, but something a bit more attractive… which doesn’t take a lot of time in the morning. Going through my recipe files, I came across this breakfast bread… slightly on the sweet side, and choke full of veggies. Seemed like the perfect solution, and when done, the zucchini carrot bread turned out to be exactly that.


This is a basic recipe for a simple cake, made interesting by the addition of grated zucchini and carrots. And flavoured with spices and yes, orange zest, which is my favourite! The good thing about this recipe is that it is very flexible. You can add as much of the veggies as you like to the mix. That is what I did. Added twice the quantity of vegetables when I prepared it. Only, it will add to the denseness of the bread. But for breakfast, I really do like that.


In the recipe, I have provided the standard measurements. If you really want your zucchini carrot bread light and airy, go with those measurements. On the other hand, if you want to make it into a healthy option, don’t be afraid to increase the quantity of the vegetables.


Another flexible part, is the sugar. You can use the quantity provided in the recipe and you will have a fairly sweet bread. But I prefer my breakfast foods just with a touch of sweetness. So I halved the sugar. And believe me, it turned out perfect for breakfast.


And the orange zest… that is exactly what gives this bread that morning quality, that jolt of freshness that gets you ready to face whatever the day brings along. So don’t be stingy with that, I would say.


And finally, I used a flat shallow pan as I did not want too thick slices. The zucchini carrot bread can be baked in a deeper pan if you would prefer thicker slices.



Zucchini Carrot Bread for Breakfast
Recipe type: Breakfast
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¾ cup grated zucchini
  • ¾ cup grated carrots
  • 1 ½ tbsp orange zest
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup chopped nuts (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
  2. Mix together the dry flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  3. Beat the eggs and sugar together.
  4. Add the oil to the mix and beat well.
  5. Using a flexible spatula, blend in the grated zucchini and carrots, and the zest.
  6. Add the flour in batches and mix together. Do not overmix.
  7. Fold in the chopped nuts, if using.
  8. Transfer the batter to a buttered pan and bake. Baking time will vary depending on the depth of the pan. When a skewer inserted into the middle of the pan comes out clean and dry, the zucchini carrot bread is done.
  9. Enjoy with a good cup of coffee!