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

D is for Dongnae Pajeon

Dongnae Pajeon (Korean scallion seafood pancakes) has its origin in the Dongnae region of Korea. Legend has it that the residents threw scallions that grew abundantly in the region, at the retreating Japanese army. Dongnae pajeon was created to honor that victory. And the dish was presented at the king’s table. 

Scallion seafood pancakes must be one of the most popular items in any Korean restaurant. However, the regular haemul pajeon differs from dongnae pajeon in that while scallions and seafood are mixed into the batter for the regular haemul pajeon, they are layered and crisped for the dongnae pajeon.

The batter is made from a combination of glutinous and non-glutinous flours. I have used equal quantities of rice flour and all-purpose flour to make the batter for this recipe.

You can use a variety of seafood in the dongnae pajeon. Clams, mussels, oysters, shrimp, squid, and scallops are all perfect for this dish. I have used shrimp and scallops for this version. 

Traditionally, minari, a green leafy herb sometimes known as water celery or chinese celery, is an ingredient in the dongnae pajeon. As the pajeon is very flavorful even without the minari, I decide to leave it out. If you want to, you can use watercress in its place.

Being around Koreatown in Manhattan, I’ve eaten many a pajeon over the years. And I have tried to perfect the recipe and the method of preparing it.

The secret is to get the batter to the right consistency of a thin pancake batter. Then you start going across the scallion pieces in lines, till you have almost covered them. Almost, but not quite.

Then you quickly lay out the seafood over the batter and follow up with another set of lines of batter over the seafood. A drizzle of oil over that, and cover and cook for two-three minutes when it will be time to turn the pajeon over. You are almost there!

Serve with dipping sauce on the side. 

To make the dipping sauce, mix together soy sauce (2 tbsp), rice vinegar (1 tbsp), mirin (1 tbsp), and gochujang, the Korean chili-soy paste (1 tbsp). If you prefer a less spicy dipping sauce, you can use any fermented soy paste instead of gochujang. On the other hand if you prefer it spicier, add a spurt of sriracha. 

D is for Dongnae Pajeon

Difficulty:AdvancedServings:8 servings



  1. Sieve together the rice flour, all-purpose flour and baking powder.
  2. Cut the green parts of the scallions in long pieces, 5 to 7 inches long. All pieces need not be the same length.
  3. Cut the shrimp and scallops into small pieces.
  4. In a bowl, beat the egg together with soy sauce, rice vinegar, and gochujang. Add one and a half cups of water and mix well.
  5. Add minced ginger and garlic to the bowl. Season with salt.
  6. Add the flour mix to the bowl and mix well. Add more water if required, to make a thin pancake batter.
  7. Heat a griddle on the stove top, on medium heat. Oil the griddle.
  8. Lay down a handful of scallion pieces in parallel on the griddle.
  9. Start drizzling the batter in lines across the scallions till they are almost covered.
  10. Quickly place the chopped seafood on top of the batter.
  11. Repeat with another layer of batter on top of the seafood. Make sure you stir the batter before each use as rice flour tends to settle at the bottom.
  12. Drizzle a teaspoon of oil on top of the pajeon.
  13. Cover and cook for two-three minutes.
  14. Turn the pajeon over and continue to cook, uncovered.
  15. Check after two minutes. When sufficiently crisp, remove from the griddle and serve hot with dipping sauce.
  16. To make the dipping sauce, mix together soy sauce (2 tbsp), rice vinegar (1 tbsp), mirin (1 tbsp), and gochujang, the Korean chili-soy paste (1 tbsp).
Keywords:Dongnae Pajeon, Korean Seafood Pancake, Pancakes, Scallions, Seafood

Old Fashioned Coconut Macaroons

If there is any baked goodie that is easier to make than a fruit cobbler, it is a coconut macaroon. A soft slightly chewy center, with a light crisp outside… altogether yum!

Not to be confused with ‘macaron’, the trendy sandwich cookie that has been all the rage recently… that will come later. This is about the egg white and sweetened coconut concoction that is airy and light. But not meringue light, it has some chewiness to it too.

Macaroons have their origin in Italy, during the renaissance period. Initially they were made with almond paste. Later, for the sake of convenience, bakers started replacing the almond paste with either almond meal (powder) or dried sweetened coconut.

The coconut macaroons were popularised by the European Jewish communities who found it suitable for Passover as it was unleavened.

Macarons, the French version which were small round cookies without any coconut added, were developed by the chefs and bakers who accompanied the Italian noblewoman Catherine de Medici to the French court when she became the wife of King Henri 2nd. Like I mentioned earlier, more about them later.

I have made the coconut macaroons with almond and cashew slivers as well, and they do taste great.

However, adding a bit of colour makes you reach straight for them!

Next time, I’ll try spicing them up with some ginger, cinnamon or allspice.

If you would like uniformly shaped macaroons, you can pipe the mix through a star nozzle onto the baking sheet. I am usually too lazy for that; I just shape them into balls by hand.

I like to imagine Nora (the chief protagonist of Henrik Ibsen’s ‘A Doll’s House) eating coconut macaroons, though Ibsen just uses the generic ‘makroner’ and not ‘kokosmakroner’ in the original Norwegian. Though coconut macaroons are a typical Christmas treat in Norway today, it is unlikely that coconuts were commonly available in the Oslo of 1879, the play’s setting. Still, I see Nora munching on coconut macaroons and they definitely had little specks of red glace cherries on them! 🙂 So here is to the Noras of the world…



Old Fashioned Coconut Macaroons
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: European
  • 1 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 cups sweetened shredded coconut
  • 10 glace cherries
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp coarse salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees farenheit.
  2. Prepare two rimmed baking sheets with parchment.
  3. In a large bowl, thoroughly mix together the condensed milk, vanilla extract and the coconut.
  4. In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites using a hand-held electric beater, till stiff peaks form, for about three to four minutes.
  5. Using a spatula, gently fold in the beaten egg whites into the coconut mixture, being careful not to overmix.
  6. Lastly sprinkle the salt grains on the mix lightly blend in with the spatula.
  7. With moistened hands, form small balls of about 1 ½ inches diameter and place on the baking sheets, 1 inch apart, giving the macaroons space to expand while baking.
  8. Bake in the preheated oven, for about 22 to 25 minutes, till the top of the macaroons start to brown.
  9. Transfer to a cooling rack and they are ready to go!
  10. Note: These can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for three weeks, that is, if they last that long!


Quick and Easy Strawberry Cobbler

Life has been lazy, lazy these days. After all, these are the days of ‘lazy hazy crazy days of summer’, right? Unfortunately lost in the excitement of summer, is the routine of regular cooking. Actually that was the case ever since I came back from my winter stay in the tropics, where all I had to do was appear at the dining table to be pampered with mouthwatering food, all my favourites  Now I had to get back to my regular routines. You can survive only so long with eatouts and takeouts and leftovers and quick fix solutions. But the lazy bug had bitten me real hard and I needed a magical cure to defeat it.

So, I devised a plan to cook (or rather bake) a bunch of stuff I love to cook and eat and serve… like fruit cobblers, coconut macaroons and flancocho and tres leches cakes. I knew… I knew what it will do to my weight, but who is afraid of a few desserts in the season of fresh vegetables and long walks? Pffft!

First in the plan was a strawberry cobbler. Fruit cobblers are great in that they do not need much sugar to taste great. The natural sweetness of the fruit is brought forward by the concentrating of flavours that happen while baking. So winners all around.

A strawberry cobbler right out of the oven, with the fruit still bubbling in red juicyness and fragrant… a mental image of that was inspiration enough to get off my butt and into the kitchen! 🙂

Apparently, cobblers are fairly newcomers on the food scene. The British settlers in America found that it was impossible to make their traditional puddings with the ingredients available to them in the new land.

I have been trying to determine the etymology of the word ‘cobbler’ without much success. My best guess would be that the name originated from the cobbled together appearance of the dish when done.

This cobbler can be frozen, tightly wrapped in aluminum foil. However, do not warm it up in the microwave; that will totally ruin it. The oven at 350 degrees is the only way to go.

The best thing about fruit cobblers is that you can whip them up in a jiffy… you see some excellent ripe fruit in the farmers’ market and 30 minutes after you get them home, the cobbler can be starting to bubble in the oven. That quick and easy!

The strawberry cobbler comes out great whether you use fresh strawberries or frozen. If using frozen, make sure that you use whole strawberries and not slices which tend to sort of disintegrate.

Adding a bit of strawberry liqueur can give the cobbler an extra oomph, but that is strictly optional. The strawberries on their own provide enticing flavour enough.

Though fruit cobblers are made from mixed fruit as well, I prefer the single fruit varieties with their individual personalities and flavours.


Quick and Easy Strawberry Cobbler
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
  • 3 cups fresh or 2 cups frozen strawberries
  • 1 ¼ cup all purpose flour
  • 6 tbsp sugar
  • ½ tsp lemon zest
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • A pinch salt
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 tbsp strawberry liqueur (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Clean and husk the fresh strawberries and slice them in half. If using frozen ones, leave them whole.
  3. In a medium bowl, gently mix together the strawberries, 3 tablespoon sugar, 2 tablespoon flour, and the lemon zest. Also, add the strawberry liqueur to the mix, if using.
  4. Arrange the fruit in a 8 or 9 inch baking dish. For something I’m not planning to cut into exact rectangle pieces, I prefer round baking dishes; they are much easier to clean! 🙂
  5. To make the topping, mix together the remaining flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Cut the butter into small pieces and rub into the flour mix till it resembles coarse bread crumbs.
  6. Sprinkle just enough milk over the flour and gently stir together, till it starts to come together.
  7. Distribute the topping uniformly over the strawberries in the baking dish, till the fruit is more or less covered. Small gaps in the topping does not matter.
  8. Bake in the center of the preheated oven, for 30 minutes or till the topping is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling.
  9. Serve with vanilla bean ice cream or whipped cream.

Warm Three Bean Dip

Though the name refers to a dip, this actually is not a dip. The only apt word I can think of is ‘scoop’. Instead of dipping your chip into something, you are scooping something with your chip. You get the idea!


Beans are one of the most ancient crops consumed by human beings. Historical evidence points to its consumption in regions widespread in Asia and South America, starting 7th millennium BC. Actual cultivation started later in the 2nd millennium BC. Today, it must be one of the most common staples present in all cuisines around the world.

Strictly speaking, beans like fava beans (broad beans) belonging to a particular species can be called ‘beans’, but in modern usage, the word has become a synonym for pulses or legumes as well. Then there are other thing being called ‘beans’ though they are in no way connected to the actual beans. Examples are coffee bean, vanilla bean, coco bean, etc.


The beans’ claim to fame is that it is the chief food item that meets the protein requirements of vegetarians. According to nutrition experts, beans are comparable to meat in terms of calories, but far superior when it comes to fiber and water content. One cup of cooked beans provides about 12 grams of fiber, while meat has none. In addition, beans are high in antioxidants, and are good for digestive tract health.


Instead of the particular varieties of beans used here, you can choose any of your liking.


The molcajete goes well with the ancient crop of beans as it is also an ancient tool. It was in use during the times of the Aztec and Maya cultures. It is carved out of a single block of basalt stone. Comes in very handy in the kitchen.


Despite all the good it does, beans have this unfortunate blemish on its reputation due to its tendency to produce flatulence, giving rise to numerous stories and jokes. Soaking in water to which a pinch of baking soda has been added, or cooking with spices like coriander and cumin are supposed to overcome this problem. Again, in my opinion, moderate quantities will not cause any such problems.


The dip or scoop is served best with sturdy tortilla chips. And, if you like to spice it up a bit, try it with pieces of pickled jalapeno on the side… truly kicks it up a notch. A quick lunch or a snack, with hardly any effort!



Warm Three Bean Dip
Recipe type: Snack
  • 1 cup butter beans
  • 1 cup red kidney beans
  • 1 cup black beans
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lime
  • 1 bunch (4 or 5) scallions
  • 1 bunch cilantro leaves
  1. If using the cans of already cooked beans, drain and wash the beans. If using dry beans, soak them for 6 hours ahead of time and boil them.
  2. Thinly slice the scallions and cilantro leaves.
  3. Juice the lemon.
  4. Using a molcajete (traditional grinding stone from Mexico), crush the garlic cloves. If you do not have a molcajete, you can use any other means for the crushing.
  5. Add the three beans and crush them, along with the garlic. It is not necessary to make each bean into a paste; a rough crushing will do. It is good to leave a few whole beans uncrushed.
  6. Scoop out the crushed beans into a serving dish.
  7. Add the olive oil, lime juice, and salt, and mix well.
  8. Add the sliced scallions and cilantro and blend in.
  9. Keep aside for 30 minutes at room temperature for the flavours to meld.
  10. Serve with tortilla chips and crackers to scoop.


Rice Crispy Treats

While I was clearing my kitchen store cupboard I found a bag of marshmallows long forgotten. So I kept them aside and waited for my girls to come back from university for the holidays to make some rice crispy treats. I just wanted to bring back those fun filled days when we used to make these sorts of snacks quite often.  My younger daughter was the one who insisted that I should go and get the recipe for rice crispy treats from a “big book” when she was in Year 2. They were learning “how to write instructions” as part of their literacy curriculum and she wanted me to make them for her right away.


According to Wikipedia, Rice Krispies Treats were invented in 1927 in the USA by Malitta Jensen and Mildred Day at the Kellogg company home economics department.


Rice Crispy Treats are a sweet snack made from rice cereals, melted butter and marshmallows. There are many variations to this treat – like replacing marshmallows with caramel or adding condensed milk to the mixture or adding chocolate chips, nuts etc. This is a snack equally liked by both children and adults and is so simple that even a novice can make

Care should be taken not to burn your palms when the mixture is being packed into the prepared tin. A silicone spatula can be used to do that.


Rice Crispy Treats
  • 40 grams Butter +1 tbsp to prepare the tin
  • 150 grams Marshmallows
  • 2 cups Crispy Rice Cereal
  1. Butter a 9 inch square baking tin.
  2. Heat the butter till it just melts in a thick bottomed pan.
  3. Stir in the marshmallows and heat till it’s melted.
  4. Remove from heat and add rice cereal and mix well.
  5. Transfer into the buttered pan and pack well using a spatula.
  6. Leave it to cool and cut into squares.