Abhik Mukherjee’s Nashta For His Ragas Live Morning Performance
A portrait from Brooklyn and The World
Abhik Mukherjee suggests a typical breakfast to enjoy during his 10:00 am EST slot with Samarth Nagarkar and Dibyarka Chatterjee, for the Ragas Live Festival.
Ragas are aligned to times of day, and it is said for them to be most fully felt, they need to be played and heard at those times.
Similarly, since Abhik will be playing at 10:00 am EST from Brooklyn, NY, he has suggested some lighter fare to align with the timing of their performance
Any type of Indian nashta ( breakfast) will go with it. Say puri, kachori, or aloo paratha. Overall, you can have any sort of light vegetarian thali like dal, chawal, sabji (2 types) followed by a sweet dish and raita.
Abhik Mukherjee, on what to enjoy for his morning performance
Let’s break that down:
puri and kachori are types of fried bread
aloo paratha is a breakfast flatbread that we often see on menus in the USA
thali refers to a grouping of foods on a plate of the same name, like an individual-sized buffet 🙂
chawal is rice
sabji refers to vegetable side dishes
Below, you’ll find the recipe for 2 different dals, Nani’s puris, and coconut burfi. For the other items that I don’t have examples to share from this project, I’ll point you to Swasthi’s Recipes. Sure, we have tons of family recipes and many cookbooks, but when I need an Indian recipe reference, we head to Swasthi’s. She’s also got great step-by-step photos and many tips and explanations so her site is particularly great for those not familiar with the cuisine!
I’ve had the pleasure of hearing Abhik play live many times, Samarth at least twice, and I believe it will be my first time hearing Dibyarka. Incidentally, the last time I saw Samarth, it was for a Court Series event where yours truly made a giant pot Pav Bhaji for all attendees to enjoy afterward.
Really looking forward to this set and the accompanying breakfast feast. Good thing, I have little apprentices to help me.
Here’s how to make quick work of your thali:
Make coconut burfi (recipe below). Make first to allow to cool/set.
Make the dal – double the recipe because freezing some for a busy day is amazing.
Set jeera rice to cook & make the dough for puris
Make sabjis : zzz and zzz
Make raita & then begin making the puris
Plate and serve! Bonus points if you can serve it on a large plate with lots of smaller bowls, like a proper thali.
Though we watched and helped make pooris in Nani's Hyderabad kitchen many times, we hadn't perfected our own in our Brooklyn kitchen. During the Covid-19 pandemic, we called Nani over FaceTime to have her help us along.
Coursebread, Side Dish
CuisineIndian, north indian, south indian
Keywordfried bread, poofed bread
heavy-bottomed pot for frying
1cupatta see below
1/4cupwaterplus more as needed
sunflower oil (to fry)
In a medium bowl, mix the oil into the atta and salt until crumbly. Add 1/4 cup of water and mix until combined. If more water is needed, slowly add more – a teaspoon at a time – careful not to add too much. You want the dough to come together and be elastic-y but not sticky! For this recipe, no need to knead or rest the dough.
Working quickly, make small, 1-inch balls (just shy of a golf ball) and set aside, covered. When all balls have been made, begin rolling them out to 1/8 of an inch thick with a rolling pin, carefully making them as round as possible, without too much fussing. Keep them aside until all the balls are rolled out.
In a heavy-bottomed pot good for deep frying, add sunflower oil until it is about 1/2 inch deep. When very hot (when one small bit of dough floats, it's hot enough), carefully slide in your first poori, holding one side and allowing it to slip into the hot oil. It should float and within seconds, it should begin to poof up and brown on the underside. Spooning a tad of oil on top will also help it to poof up. As soon as it poofs up, use tongs to flip it over and allow it to brown for a second or two. Remove poori with tongs and allow to cool on a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat for remaining discs of dough.
In Hyderabad, Nani most often serves these for breakfast along with aloo curry (potato curry), but our second favorite combo is channa masala (chick pea curry). It's also delicious with simple scrambled eggs.
Pooris have variations all over India. Choice of flour(s) and fat vary by area, which in turn changes the need for the dough to rest – or not! This represent’s Nanis’ version.
Atta is a wheat flour found in Indian stores. It is not exactly whole wheat nor unbleached. Prior attempts with whole wheat flour were not successful but I’ll keep trying with various ratios and report back.
Here’s the dal that is most frequently on our table, and is a favorite with friends.
Meghna’s Tomato Pappu
This is a thick, flavorful dal with a tart kick from tamarind. Eat it with pulau or plain basmati rice, and perhaps an additional protein like Indian omelets or chicken 65 (recipes for both on this site).
CourseEntree, Main Course, Vegetables
CuisineIndian, south indian
KeywordDal, pappu, tamarind, Tomato
A large pressure cooker, makes quick cooking of the dal
Food processor to finely dice the tomatoes if you have it, but I prefer to do by hand.
1cup yellow dal
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 1/2 tbsp salt, divided
3 cupstomatoes, finely dicedabout 6
1inch cube of tamarind pulp, reconstituted in hot water
5tbsp ghee or sunflower oil, or salted butter…. but ghee is the best
3tsp cumin seeds
1.5 cups onions, finely diced about 1 large
20curry leavesat least 🙂
Chop the tomatoes and keep aside (or wait until dal is cooking if you are using the food processor).
Boil some water to reconstitute the tamarind, pressing it with a fork to break it up in the hot water, and microwaving it to continue to soften and make a paste. Keep aside.
Put dal, turmeric, 1/2 tsp salt and 4 cups of water in a large pressure cooker, and when it reaches pressure, cook for 8 minutes and release using the quick release method.
While dal is cooking, chop onions and prepare spices and curry leaves.
By now the dal is likely done so when pressure is released, remove the cover, set heat back to medium, and add the tomatoes, and remaining salt. Stir to combine. Add the tamarind by pouring and pushing it through a fine mesh sieve. Add more boiling water if further reconstituting is needed, but don't add it until you taste later. Let it all cook for some time, stirring every so often and scraping the sides and bottom to ensure nothing sticks (and add water if needed).
While the tomatoes cook into the dal, heat ghee in a fry pan over medium heat, and when hot, add the cumin and mustard seeds. When the seeds begin to sputter/pop, add the onions. Stir to combine, and cook until onions begin to become translucent, then add the curry leaves. Continue to fry until onions brown slightly. Turn off the heat and keep aside until the dal/tomato is ready.
When tomatoes have cooked into the dal, add the onion mixture to it and stir to combine. Continue cooking at medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Then turn the heat down to low and continue to cook a bit until the desired consistency (see note below), at least another 15 minutes to really meld the flavor.Taste it and adjust tamarind and salt accordingly. Cooked in the afternoon and kept warm in the pressure cooker, you'll barely need to reheat it for dinner. Or, even better, let it cool and pack it up into the fridge or freezer for another day.
Both in typical Indian homes and in restaurants, dal will typically be the consistency of a thick soup that can get soaked into rice a bit. We prefer ours a bit thicker. Not so thick that it would be like a dollop on the plate, but it also wouldn’t be sloshing around the plate.
Lately, my husband will taste the dal and say “you put a lot of tamarind… add a tiny bit of salt…. Actually, it’s good,” which just may be his way of coming around to my version of his mom’s tomato pappu. 😉 It’s one of my fave foods, but this recipe is decidedly my version.
The recipes I’ve based this on often recommend not to cook the dal too long… that seeing the chunks of dal adds flavor. We disagree and like it to be more on the mushy, blended side. Similarly, like a tarka flavoring, some recipes will call for minimal additional cooking after the onion mixture has been added. We like the flavors to meld, and even get towards the “it’s even better the second day” phenomenon.
Seven-year-old Arav has been asking to make this dal after reading it in a book. We’ll be making it this weekend. It’s from the wonderful book “Whats Cooking at 10 Garden Street?” by Felicita Sala. It’s as beautiful as it is moving. Pick it up at your local bookstore, for you or your holiday giving!
Chawal + Sabjis + Raita
Since time was tight to get recipes from Abhik, and I do not have recipes for these dishes on the site yet, I will send you to tried and true Swasthi’s Recipes.
Mmm… coconut burfi! I’ll have to remember to take a photo this time. Thanks to Shehalatha-aunty for the awesome cookbook! When we can’t eat at your table, it’s the next best thing.
Adapted from "Indradhanush – Seven Day Vegetarian Menu" by Snehalatha Ravindra.
KeywordBurfi, Coconut, Ganesh, Indian Sweet, Mithai
2cupsdesiccated UNSWEETENED coconut
Prep: Grease a cookie sheet or other flat platter with a rim.
Cook: In a thick-bottomed pan, mix coconut, sugar, milk & ghee. Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly.When the mixture begins pulling away from the sides of the pan, add the cardamom (and rose essence if using). Continue cooking until the mixure comes together into one lump.
Set: Pour it on the ghee-greased platter and press it down with a spatula until it starts hardening.
Cut: With a knife (or pizza cutter!) cut into squares or diamonds. Tip: doing this before they cool all the way makes it easier.
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