[Farmer's Market Series # 2] Madannapet Mandi, Hyderabad (India)


If there is one place bursting with life and something that makes me immensely happy, it is our local vegetable market. By 5 am every single morning, a variety of vegetables pour in from nearby places and vendors setup their stuff at allotted places before the morning rush comes in. This market is called "Madannapet Mandi" and is located in suburbs of Hyderabad.

I love my morning market visits especially with my dad and have been accompanying him since I was a kid. Till today, this is our favorite time together. It was pure fun to walk around with my DSLR in hand the other day and capture few moments. Along the way, the big camera did garner some attention from many curious onlookers and some even asked if I worked for any newspaper. How I wished that was true! :-)

Are you ready to have a peek at a market I have been going every Sunday for the past two and half decades. Scroll down and Enjoy!

Small Eggplants or Gutti Vankaya  (as it called in Telugu) Try this chutney or  Hyderabadi special curry if you have some. 

Penne with Harissa Roasted Cauliflower, Tomatoes, Carrot Strips and Capers


Pasta Lovers, Rejoice. I think today's recipe will make your mouths water (just like mine) and urge you to go for a second serving. I was so mighty happy with the results that I just couldn't wait to share it with you all.


This spicy pasta was made for a long lost childhood friend, whom I was meeting after many years. It was pure fun to catch up what we had missed all this while and a foodie herself, the conversation inadvertently moved on to cuisines we tried, recipes (her latest find - Spaghetti carbonara with Quorn) and favorite restaurants in town etc etc. Out of the blue, she exclaims"Are you still a vegetarian?" quite surprised. Her expression was quite remarkable as if I have had survived through a huge tornedo. "Yes!" I replied firmly, quite annoyed at the stern objectivity of the question.

The tiff between the likes of vegetarians and non vegetarians is age old. The meat lovers wonder what do vegetarians eat and we wonder how can they simply relish food which involves butchering an innocent animal. So many times I have been asked politely and directly if I was a vegetarian by choice or did someone force me into it. I find that question very amusing as I never asked them the same question. It is just the way I am I say to avoid any further inquiries. If they really persist, irritated ofcourse I casually give the blog links of mine and a bunch of others to prove my point that we, vegetarians indeed eat delicious, healthy food with pleasure and relish them without any guilt. :-)




In the beginning of my post, I promised to share my pasta experiment of mine. Haven't I? Without further ranting about veg vs non-veg ( which can just go-on), let just dive into its details, so that you can make some too. Shall we?


Thanksgiving is around the corner. Probably you can make some harissa pasta for your vegetarian friends. The vegetables can be roasted well in advance and stored in refrigerator. On the day, all you have to do is cook pasta, toss these vegetables and capers in olive oil and Serve! Enjoy.


Penne with Harissa Roasted Cauliflower, Tomatoes, Carrot Strips and Capers

Make Time: 45 mins
Serves 3 to 4

Ingredients:

1/2 pound dried penne pasta (or any other pasta)
2 tbsp harissa paste
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp black pepper powder
salt - to taste
1-2 tbsp of pickled capers, drained
1 cup cut cauliflower
2 red bell peppers, deseeded and cut into strips
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 carrot, peeled, cut into thin strips
chopped coriander leaves

Preparation:

In a small bowl, whisk together harissa paste, 1/4 cup of olive oil, salt and black pepper powder. Keep aside.

Preheat oven to 180 C or 400 F. On a baking sheet, spread cauliflower florets, bell peppers, carrot strips, chopped tomatoes and corainder leaves. Top with the harissa dressing and toss so that the veggies are evenly coated. Bake for about 25 to 30 mins until they lightly crispy.

Cook pasta in lots of salted boiling water as per package instructions or until al dente.

Heat few tbsp of olive oil in pan and toss together roasted veggies, capers with penne. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. If you want to increase the heat, optionally add little harissa to pasta. Cook for 4 to 5 mins. Serve and garnish with fresh herbs and cheese (if you wish to).



[Updated - 24th November 2103] - On a special request from my little sister, I made a few boxes of this pasta for her family. :-) Tried the same recipe with Farfalle (bow-tie pasta) as well (pic of the left) and it turned out great.



This is Recipe 64 added to 2013 Recipe Archive. Check out the rest of the recipes too.

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Holiday Baking Recipes | Mini Plum Upside-Down Cakes


I close my eyes and I see a winter coat. Furry, soft, black my favorite color when it comes to coats. The nostalgic dream doesn't end there. We are in a big garment factory and there we are standing in front of aisles of coats. Beautiful ones getting ready to be worn for the upcoming winter. It will be my first winter in US and am secretly praying there will be snow, lots of it so that I could make a snow man.


On that day, after much prodding from my roommates I chose a woolen coat with big buttons but sadly the price was exorbitant. Not something I could afford with my meager salary from working at our University food court. But my heart pleads to go for it...and I did. I was a proud owner of my first ever black furry coat. For many many winters after that, I remember digging my mitten-covered hands into its pockets and walking on snow filled streets. Many coats came later that but the memory of shopping for my first one is always special. :-)


Just like in the 90's, I am still obsessed with fresh or dried aloo bukhara. This ruby colored fruit is from plum/prune family and is a bit tart + sweet to taste. Biting into it takes me back to my grandmom's house where she used to bring home these luscious fruits every time they are in season. Few months ago, a good friend of my dad sent us a bag full of freshly harvested fruit from his backyard. Resisting the urge to eat them right way and making the usual jams or chutneys, I made few upside down mini cakes with them which turned out to be super moist and delicious. :-)


Mini Plum (Aloo Bukahra) Upside Down Cakes

Since the fruit is pre-cooked in the sugar syrup before hand, it becomes slightly mushy once taken out of the ramekins. But it tastes yumm nonetheless and the fine balance of flavors made the effort well worth it. Any other firm seasonal fruit available on hand can be easily substituted in this recipe. 

Makes 6 mini cakes + 3-4 cup cakes

Ingredients:

For the cake batter:

2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup softened unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla

For the topping:

1 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp sugar
1 cup plum wedges

Preparation:

1. Melt a tbsp of butter, sugar and add plum wedges. Mix well until they are even coated and cook for 2 to 3 mins. Turn off heat.


2. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk to combine. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla.

3. Beat well for 2 to 3 mins on medium speed using electric mixer or whisk rigorously with hand.


4. Add flour mixture half cup at-a-time and Mix everything until just combined.

5. Preheat oven to 350 F or 180 C. Grease ramekins with butter and place a layer of fruit at the bottom. Top with few spoonfuls of cake batter and evenly distribute it.


6. Place these ramekins on a baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool for a 5 to 10 minutes. Gently invert each ramekin and unmould the cakes. Serve.



I had just a few spoonfuls of cake batter and plum wedges left. I applied the same technique of layering the fruit at the bottom, topping with batter and baked for 8 to 10 mins until a tooth pick inserted came out clean.  These upside-down cupcakes I must tell you were too adorable to eat. :-)




This is Recipe 63 added to 2013 Recipe Archive. Check out the rest of the recipes too.

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