Rushina trained as an animator, but found her true calling as a food writer last year. She loves to read and gravitates toward historical subjects. She is a believer of "the old ways" and will go to unbelievable lengths to document traditional recipes. She is also a follower of the Slow food movement. Based in the multicultural city of Bombay/Mumbai (that she loves) Rushina, freelances as a food journalist and Travel writer and is working on a book on the evolution of the cuisine in the Garhwal region. Her culinary interests also lean toward the history and evolution of food. Her food of choice is Chinese (Indian Chinese) and she could survive 300 days a year on soup alone with no complaints. The other 65 she would supplement her diet with pickles and chutneys! Please read Rushina's blog for more recipes: a_perfect_bite and read her article on the tradition of pickling in india
First Course – Soup
For this course I have chosen a delicious Dal Soup my mom makes keeping in mind the Brazilian and Italian tradition of eating lentils (Dhuli Masoor) on New Years Day, they believe these bring good luck and prosperity because their circular shape symbolizes coins.
Serves 2 -3 as a main course and 4-5 as a Soup
Preparation time – 5 mins. Cooking time – 15 Mins.
For the Soup
1 cups Masoor dal, washed thoroughly under cold running water
6 large tomatoes
5-6 cloves garlic
1 inch piece of ginger
1/2 tsp. chili powder (optional)
6 Cups Water (or stock)
For the Tempering
1 tbsp. Ghee
2 Bay leaves
½ inch stick of Cinnamon
Pav from the local bakery.
Onions Chopped fine
Combine everything in the “For the Soup” section and pressure cook for 1 whistle (or cook in a pan till the Lentils are cooked through and tender), Cool a little and process in a blender. Strain and return to a large pot. Temper just before you serve.
To temper (If the soup has cooled down please reheat before you start with tempering) Heat Ghee, add the spices and stir till aromas are released. Quickly pour tempering over the boiling Soup stir and cover. Only uncover at the Table.
Serving suggestions –
Serve with chopped onions and Lemon wedges and butter on the side as a soup, or add fresh Pav a Cachumber of Onion Tomato and Cucumber chopped fine and steamed rice and make this a quick wholesome supremely satisfying meal for the morning of the 1st of Jan when you do not feel like doing anything….
Second Course – Main
The Southern Americans eat black eyed peas which they believe brings good luck because their round shape symbolizes the shape of a coin. Greens are also traditionally eaten and are said to symbolize paper money. A common southern dish is Hoppin John – black eyed peas with rice which I found a little bland by itself. Closer to home I found a Nepali recipe that makes for a spicier version of the combination. Serve with a Spinach Raita for the green quotient.
250g basmati rice,
100g black eyed beans (lobia),
3 medium sized onions (sliced),
2 tomatoes (cut into quarters),
1 tsp cumin seeds,
1 tsp mustard seeds,
1 tsp turmeric powder,
2-3 red chillies,
4 tbsp butter or ghee,
1 inch piece of cinnamon,
Salt to taste.
Soak black-eyed beans for a minimum of 3-4 hours or overnight. Soak rice for an hour. Drain both Peas and rice and set aside.
In a large Pan, Heat 1 tbsp of oil, fry half the quantity of the sliced onion and set aside for garnishing.
Heat the oil in a pressure cooker, add the cinnamon, cloves, cumin and mustard seeds and allow to crackle.
Lower flame and fry the rest of the onions till golden brown.
Add in the rice and black-eyed beans, stir in spices and continue to cook over a low flame for another 5 minutes. Add enough water to cook the rice and the beans.
Garnish with the brown onions.
Spinach - 1 bunch (about 1/2 Lb)
(You can also use frozen spinach)
Yougurt - 1 cup
Ginger - 1/2 an inch
Green chilies - 2 (or more if you like you raita spicy)
Salt to taste
Oil - 2 tsp
Mustard - 3/4 tsp
Garlic - 2 flakes (optional)
Chili powder - 1/2 - 1 tsp
Wash spinach and cut. Grate ginger and chop green chillies. Stem Spinach with the ginger, green chills and salt. Or microwave. Let cool and add the yogurt.
To temper, place oil in a pan and add mustard. When the mustard begins to splutter, add crushed garlic and fry until the garlic turns light brown. Add this to the yogurt mixture.
Third course – Dessert
For the dessert course I have combined traditions from Greece and Spain. Either serve one of these or serve the Vassilopitta topped with the Grape Salad and integrate two traditions into one course!
The Greeks eat Vassilopitta, a cake in which a gold coin has been baked. The cake is served in a sequence, the first piece is set aside for St. Basil, a founder of the Greek Church, the second for the home, and the remaining is distributed amongst family members, from oldest to youngest. Whoever finds the coin in their serving of cake will have a lucky year.
Vassilopitta – St. Basil's Cake.
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
3 cups flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 cup milk, heated 20 sec in microwave
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup blanched slivered almonds
¼ cup white sugar
Preheat oven to 350F.
In a medium bowl, beat butter and sugar together until creamy.
Add flour and mix.
Add eggs one by one, mixing after each egg is added.
Add baking powder to the warm milk and then add to flour mixture, blending well.
In the same container the milk was in, mix the baking soda and lemon juice, add to flour mixture and stir well.
Pour cake batter into a greased 10" round pan and bake 20 minutes.
Sprinkle sugar and nuts on top of cake and bake for approximately 30 minutes more, until cake is done.
Cool on a rack for 10 minutes. Serve cake warm.
According to Greek tradition you should cut a hole in the bottom of the cake (while cooling it) and add a foil-wrapped coin in the hole. Slice cake and serve, ensuring everyone knows there is a coin in one piece so that they don't bite on it.
The Spanish eat 12 grapes at midnight – one with each chime of the clock, one grape for good luck for each of the 12 coming months in the new year, Don’t know about luck but it sure does result in a riot of laughter squeezing it's way around a mouth full of half-eaten grapes! This is seen in other Latin American countries as well, but began in Spain.
Frosted Grape Salad with spiced Cream and port - a recipe by me Serves 1
1 cluster of 12 Grapes per person (pick up different types green, black, red, purple.
2 egg whites
2 Tablespoon Whipped cream
To make frosted grapes.
Clean & dry grapes and cut into small clusters.
Dip each cluster in slightly beaten egg white. Drain (1 good shake) off excess. Dip in granulated sugar & drain dry on a rack.
To serve spoon port onto a chilled saucer. Spoon whipped cream into the middle and gently place the bunch of frosted grapes on top.
For Tea on the first of January. (Make some ahead of time and put them out with tea on the 1st of Jan 2006.)
In the Netherlands, these "Dutch Doughnuts" are served New Years Day. Their round shape is said to symbolize "coming full circle" and completing a year's cycle. Eating them on New Years Day will bring good luck in the coming year. An apt substitute because it is so similar is the North Indian Gulgula, made by Garhwalis on celebratory occasions alongside the Pakoris.
100 gm: Wheat Flour
200 gm: Jaggery
5 gm: Fennel seeds
200 ml: Mustard Oil
1/4 tsp: Water as required
1 small banana, mashed
Sweet Spice Powder
Powdered Sugar to dust (optional)
Soak and dissolve jaggery in hot water and cool it.
Make a paste of flour by adding jaggery and water.
Add, mashed banana, Raisins, fennel seed, sweet spice powder and mix well.
Heat the oil in a pan and put a spoonful of the mixture in the oil when it has heated up properly, deep fry spoonfuls of batter. (Dust with powdered sugar to make them look like Oliobolen).
You could even make pancakes if you are frying shy.