Abhik Mukherjee’s Nashta For His Ragas Live 2020 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 everything pictured in the above thali: coconut ghee rice, coconut dal, chaat okra fries, jeera aloo, raita, coconut burfi, and Nani’s puris.
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 the 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). It is important to 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: jeera aloo and okra fries.
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.
Though it was the very first food he tasted as a baby, our son Arav (seven years old as of this portrait) has always proclaimed he hated dal, and would have to be coerced to eat it every time it was on his table.
Everything changed this November. A few weeks ago, he was reading “What’s Cooking at 10 Garden Street?” by Felicita Sala (a book Santa had given him nearly a year ago), and he came upon the below recipe for Coconut Dahl.
We He made it, and has dubbed it the best dal in the world. And it was a perfect accompaniment to the rest of this thali, and the music of Abhik Samarth and Dibyarka.
It is pretty darn good, and the friends and neighbors we shared it with agreed, texting me things like:
“Ok, so, that was EXCELLENT, and I’m not just being polite. Please let Arav know his coconut dal with rice was absolutely delicious, like, rivaled to any versions I’ve had before.”
Jothan in Brooklyn
We highly recommend “What’s Cooking at 10 Garden Street?” by Felicita Sala, as a gift for your friends and family this holiday. It’s as beautiful as it is moving. Pick it up at your local bookstore and maybe, some of the required ingredients on the way home, too.
Chaat Okra Fries
Chaat Okra Fries
Okra fries with chaat masala might be one of my five desert island foods.
Boil potatoes in salted water until about 90% cooked. Drain, and when cool to the touch, remove skins and chop into bite-sized pieces. Keep aside, uncovered to cool off and dry out a bit.
Meanwhile, prep all other ingredients: dry spices into one small bowl, kasuri methi in another.
Set a medium-sized skillet pan to medium heat. When hot, add the ghee and allow to melt, swirling in the pan. Add the cumin seeds and swirl to coat. When fragrant and about to sputter (could be less than 1 minute) add ginger-garlic paste and chilis.
Continue to cook about 1 minute until it smells of nice cooked garlic, then reduce the heat and add dry spices (turmeric, coriander, cumin, chili powder).
As you add the kasuri methi to the pan, rub it between your palms or fingertips to ground it a bit more. Stir and cook for a minute and enjoy that lovely fragrance.
Add 2 tbps of water and continue to cook, melding the flavors. If it begins to stick, add a bit more water. After a couple of minutes, it should thicken. Add potatoes and salt, stir to coat, cover, and cook for another few minutes, covered and over low heat. The potatoes should take on the flavoring, but not get mushy
Enjoy with poori, or chapati, or with dal and rice. No wrong answers here, just deliciousness.
1cupdesiccated coconut (unsweetened!!)fresh or frozen
1/3cupraw cashewscoarsely chopped
4cupscooked rice, cooledbasmati or sona masoori
1dried red chili snapped in half,seeds optional
Easiest is rice from the prior day, kept in the fridge. To quickly cool fresh rice, spread it out on a cookie sheet or large tray uncovered.
Reconstitute dried coconut by adding a bit of boiling water (start with ~1/3 cup) and set aside. Have remaining ingredients ready to throw into the pot very quickly.
Set a large skillet pan to medium heat. When hot, add 1/2 tsp of ghee. Once it melts, add cashews and stir to combine. Cook for just a few minutes, stirring frequently, until golden brown. Remove from pan, putting into a small bowl to add back later.
Return the same large skillet to medium heat and add the remaining ghee. When melted, add mustard seeds. Shake the pan a bit, then cover. In a minute or two, mustard seeds will pop. Reduce heat to low and add curry leaves and red chili, being careful of their momentary sputter.
Add cooled rice, breaking it up with your hands as you do (if it's not already broken up!). Stir to coat, and cook for 3 minutes. Then add coconut, salt and cashews and stir to combine, continuing to cook until heated through. Taste and add salt if needed.
Enjoy with your favorite dal or curry or just by itself cuz it's that delicious. 🙂
I have never before used a recipe for raita – I just add water to yogurt, add finely diced veggies that I have on hand (almost always red onion, plus tomato or cucumber, depending on what I have around), and then add some combination of coriander or cumin powder, chopped cilantro leaves and salt to taste.
For this portrait, without having time to gather family recipes from Abhik, I’ll point you to Swasthi’s Recipes. Her site is where I head whenever I need a quick online reference for Indian food. Sure, we have tons of family recipes and many cookbooks, but when I need something outside of our tradition, 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 of India!
Make the dessert first so that it can set.
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: Cut a piece of parchment paper or grease a cookie sheet or other flat platter.
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 (5-10 minutes depending on the size of your pan and your heat source), add the cardamom (and rose essence if using). Continue cooking until the mixture comes together into one lump. Avoid overcooking, lest it becomes too dry.
Set: Pour it on the ghee-greased platter and press it down with a spatula until it starts hardening.When it's set a bit and is cool to the touch, cut into diamonds. A large knife is usually sufficient but you may want to try a pizza cutter.
Someday, I will discover a more precise indication of doneness than “coming into a lump”. Even today, sometimes I miss the mark. And once, I got so impatient I added 2 tbsp of almond flour I wanted to use up, just to thicken it a bit. It was very tasty.BUT, even if it is overcooked a bit and becomes crumbly, it is still a great topping for ice cream, yogurt, fruit crumbles… it just takes on a new purpose in life. 🙂
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