bombay lemonade

bombay lemonade 

Summer days were hot in Bombay (Mumbai) but I eagerly awaited for their arrival because it meant the end of the school year. The days would be marked by pool time, trips, and reading a whole lot of comics (my mother would only let us read comics during the holidays, they'd go up otherwise so we could focus on the school year, though I don't think it did any good!). There was also one particular portion of the day that I really looked forward to, my moment to indulge in street snacks. I'd get a little pocket money, every day from my mother which I would diligently invest in some sort of snack. The choices were many and my desires generally larger than my actual ability to consume so I'd have to plan my week out such that I'd be able to taste almost everything summer had to offer.

mint and lemons

Since the weather got pretty hot, it was necessary to cool down with something cold. My cooling agents were generally tall glasses of freshly squeezed sugarcane juice , limeades or lemonades, each of these babies would be flavored with a combination of spices and fresh herbs making the the perfect thirst quencher and refresher. 

squeezed lemons and ginger 

I've made my version of my favorite lemonade that reminds me of those happy summer days spent in Bombay. Fresh is the key here, fresh lemons and ginger with mint are infused into chilled water while  lightly crushed toasted cumin gives a hint of earthiness to the drink. If you aren't a fan of fresh ginger, skip it. I also used molasses as the sweetener because M's mom makes her own on the farm from her sugarcane crop every year and it is the best and she keeps me stocked. 

This lemonade is best drunk as soon as it is made as I've noticed the flavors of the cumin and ginger are lost within a few hours. Also, fresh mint tends to darken after several hours. I tend to make this drink less sweet but feel free to play around. Have a wonderful weekend, friends!

Here are some of my favorite reads from this week;

bombay style lemonade

bombay lemonade

yields: 4 servings


1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 cup lemon juice (two large lemons), freshly squeezed
3 inch piece ginger root, freshly peeled
900ml chilled water 
3-4 tablespoons light molasses
8-10 mint leaves, fresh
8 thin lemon slices, freshly cut
ice cubes and a few thin slices of fresh lemons

1. Toast the cumin seeds on medium high flame in a small saucepan for about 15 seconds until they just begin to turn brown. The cumin seeds are ready as soon as you can smell their aroma. Immediately transfer them into a mortar and crush them gently once with the pestle. Don't over crush them. If the cumin seeds burn during the toasting and turn black, discard and start again.
2. Add the toasted cumin seeds along with the lemon juice into a large pitcher. 
3. Place the ginger root in the mortar and crush it with 1/4 cup of the chilled water to form a slurry and extract the ginger flavor. Pass the slurry through a tea strainer or small sieve over a small bowl and press the pulp with a spoon to get all the juice out. Transfer the extracted juice to the pitcher along with the molasses.
4. Stack the mint leaves over each other and then slice them into thin strips with sharp knife. Put the mint leaves in the pitcher and add the rest of the chilled water. Stir to combine the ingredients, taste to make sure the lemonade is sweet enough, if not add more molasses. Add the slices of lemon and stir. To serve, stir the contents of the pitcher and then pour into chilled glasses containing ice cubes.

bombay granitas

Thanks to you guys, I had a wonderful start to the week, actually its been the perfect start! A Brown Table's Chilled Almond Milk-Drunk cake was featured by the wonderful people at The Kitchn as part of their "Most Delicious Links" series. To celebrate here is a fun recipe that I hope you will try and love. I know the thought of having granitas in February sounds weird and makes me sound a tad bit crazy, but it does feel like spring and now the weather man says it will be another six weeks of warm weather. Who knows if a dusting of snow will rear its ugly head. Despite these factors, my Bombay granitas are here to stay. Let me explain why I named these granitas after Bombay. If you have ever traveled to Bombay (or Mumbai), you must have definitely heard of its characteristic and wonderful street food known as "chaat". If you haven't, well then you must put it on your bucket list. Chaat encompasses the delicious savory snacks that you will perhaps see on a wooden cart of a street vendor who will harbor tons of sweet and spicy snacks. From little pan fried potato cakes served with creamy garbanzo beans to freshly pressed sugarcane or lemon drinks flavored with roasted spices served with ice, chaat certainly holds its own unique and special place in Indian cuisine.

Fresh nectarine and pear fruit in this granita are gently spiced with several heavenly aromatic spices and doused with a little fresh ginger and lemon juice that lend a fresh and bright flavor. This spiced fruit granita is excitingly refreshing and soothing, don't let the spices scare you away. You can find all of them at your local grocers. This recipe is simple, fast and easy and only requires a blender or a food processor to puree the fruits together.You could also dunk a good sized scoop of this granita into a flute loaded with champagne for a Sunday brunch or perhaps even Valentine's Day. Now before I forget, let me remind you about the deadline to the cookbook giveaway which is getting closer and in case you haven't entered, hurry up and go to the Contest for more details. The "Encyclopedia of Sandwiches" is a great book on classic and modern sandwiches loaded with some gorgeous photographs that will make you very, very happy and of course hungry.

bombay granitas

yields: 4-6 servings


chaat spice mix
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground black salt
3 cloves
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon green cardamom seeds
1/2 teaspoon dried ginger powder
1/2 teaspoon coriander/cilantro seeds
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon powdered Kashmiri chilies or cayenne pepper

1 medium sized ripe pear
4 nectarines
1 tablespoon fresh ginger root juice
juice of one fresh lemon
1 cup sugar
2 cups water
a few fresh mint leaves to garnish

1. Heat a pan on a medium flame and gently toast the cumin, coriander seeds and pepper till they get light brown and immediately transfer to a cool surface to prevent them from burning. 
2. Using a coffee grinder or blender, grind the toasted spices and the rest of the ingredients in the spice mix till you get a fine smooth powder. Store in an air-tight container where it will stay good for a few months.
3. Prepare a syrup by boiling the water and sugar together till completely dissolved and take off the gas and let it cool to room temperature. 
3. Peel, core and de-seed the pears and nectarines and then chop the fruit into large chunks. Put the fruit into a food processor along with the lemon and ginger juice and attach the lid. Begin to pour the sugar syrup into the food processor while pulsing the fruit pulp and juices to a smooth puree. 4. Transfer the fruit mixture to a freezer-safe pan or bowl or container and stir in one teaspoon of the ground chaat spice mixture. Cover with cling film or a lid and freeze overnight or for at least 4-6 hours. Before serving, scrape the granita out with a metal spoon/fork into pre-chilled drinking glasses and garnish with fresh mint.

roasted tomato soup and a cookbook giveaway

This originally began as an episode of cleaning out the refrigerator but what I found ultimately ended up as a  soup. I went a bit festive here, the soup has strong Indian and Portuguese influences. I seasoned the soup with fragrant cumin seeds that are a mainstay of many Indian dishes and a little Portuguese chorizo sausage. An avocado and a Thai chili were added to give this tomato soup add a bit of coolness and a bit of heat. If you are vegetarian, skip the sausage or try a vegan chorizo sausage. I've tried a couple of vegan brands of sausage and there are some truly delicious varieties that really do taste no different than regular meat and are sometimes even better. The nutty flavor of the roasted cumin seeds bring the flavors the tomatoes and the garlic together with the other ingredients. I like a hint of cumin with tomatoes, it does something magical to the sweetness and acidity of the tomato. The avocado cream adds a bit of freshness and lightness to the soup.

I have some exciting news, A Brown Table is finally hosting its first giveaway. Its been long overdue but I wanted to thank everyone for visiting my blog and sending me their support and well wishes. For this contest, I will be sending the winner a copy of one of my favorite books on sandwiches "The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches" by Susan Russo. Not only are the recipes fun but the photographs are absolutely delicious. The rules are simple, all you need to do is;
1.Visit my Facebook page and click the "Like" button and then share the page with a friend(s)
2.Then shoot me an email at nikarama [at]abrowntable[dot]com with your name and email, so I can contact you if you win.
This contest is only open to residents of the U.S. and Canada and will end on at February 6th, 2012. The winner will be chosen randomly and I will announce the winner's name in a post soon after. Good luck to everyone!

roasted tomato soup with avocado cream


3 lbs tomatoes 
2 links of chorizo sausage
2 cups water
1 garlic bulb
2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 thai chili 
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons chopped cilantro
1 medium sized avocado
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 450F. Slice the tomatoes in half and spread them on a baking sheet. Take the garlic bulb and slice it in half and leave the skin on it. Put the garlic on the baking sheet and then drizzle one teaspoon olive oil and cumin seeds on the tomatoes and garlic. Roast the tomatoes and the garlic in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove the garlic from the pod and transfer them along with the tomatoes into a blender. Add the chili, water and blend till completely smooth. In a stockpot, add the rest of the olive oil and heat on a medium flame. Remove the sausage meat from the casing and scramble the meat in the stockpot. Cook the sausage till it browns, then add the tomato puree, the sugar, turmeric, vinegar and bring the contents to boil. Immediately reduce the flame and let the soup reduce to a gentle simmer. Cover with a lid and cook for another 15 minutes. In the meantime, grind the avocado, 1 teaspoon of the cilantro, lemon juice to a smooth creamy paste. Season with salt and pepper. Serve the avocado cream as a dollop on top of the tomato soup in individual bowls or on the side.  

Note: As always you can adjust the consistency of the soup by adding more water and controlling the heat by using less chili and/or discarding the chili seeds.