Sausage & Green Lentil Curry

Sausage & Green Lentil Curry1

“Green lentils with a kick

Taste-worthy of every lick

A stew for the cold

For the mighty & bold

Herbed & spiced

With vegetables diced

With crusty ol’ bread

For a yummy dinner spread!”


1 cup green lentils, boiled [don’t drain the liquid]

2 Italian chicken sausages, casing removed and crumbled/finely chopped

1 small red onion, sliced lengthwise

2 plum tomatoes, diced

½ cup carrots, diced

1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 small green chili, finely chopped

1 bay leaf

1 dried red chili, broken in half

½ teaspoon cumin seeds

1 tablespoon coriander powder

1 teaspoon roasted cumin powder

¼ teaspoon turmeric powder

½ teaspoon garam masala

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

4 tablespoons light olive oil

A small bunch of fresh coriander, roughly chopped

Salt to taste

Sausage & Green Lentil Curry2


Heat oil in a non-stick skillet. Add cumin seeds, bay leaf & dried chili and cook for a minute. Add garlic, ginger, fresh green chili and cook till the garlic begins to brown. Stir in the onions along with a little salt. Cook till they turn translucent. Now add the tomatoes, along with remaining dry spices. Cook covered on a medium-low flame till the tomatoes are tender and oil begins to separate. Crush any big tomato chunks and add the sausage & carrots. Sauté till the chicken is fully cooked and then add lentils, ½ cup water & fresh coriander.  Cover and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes. Serve hot with a dash of cream / yogurt & warm crusty bread. Healthy, wholesome & absolutely delish!

Try this, and other scrumptious dishes at my upcoming dining experiences!


Sausage & Green Lentil Curry6

Hosting Tips & A Photo Essay

With spring in full bloom, it's time to dust off the cobwebs from that pile of party invites.

Whether you are a pro-host, or one who struggles with putting out an appetizer table, these simple tips will help you make your night just a tad fancier.

Also check out my latest recipes for inspiration, some upcoming supperclub meals and my very first PopUp dinner in NYC this June! And if you can't be bothered entertaining, but love a feast, contact me & join my table instead. It's always dressed to host you!



1. Spring is all about color. Not only should your dishes be dressed up with fresh produce, even the table deserves a little love. Use old wine bottles to create DIY vases that look oh-so-adorable with a swig of flowers!

photo 1

2. Be creative. Use wine tumblers to serve entrees like rice based dishes. Why you ask? Well, why not! Isn't it simply beautiful?


3. Mix & match ingredients. Play around with food - sometimes the strangest of combinations create the most mind blowing bite. The jar of olives in your cupboard, the almost-stale bread, the endless bunch of kale ....are not quite as unworthy as you think. This dish - a spicy chicken dumpling served atop a creamy curried cauliflower puree was an absolute hit at my dinner!


4. Get people in the mood. The only thing worse than bad food at a party, are bored guests. Get the happiness started with little shots that help break the ice and get the conversations flowing. Trust me, it'll work.


5. Something fresh. Salads - an element that most Indian meals are devoid of. Add an individual sized  seasonal salad, like this squash & cucumber 'spaghetti' w/ pickled radish & cilantro lime dressing, to your buffet table. Not only is it uber simple to put together, but it will also add a vibrant crunch to your meal. Oh, and chill your dishes before serving - it will keep the crunch that much longer!


6. A Giveaway. Who doesn't love a little competition. Incorporate an easy game into the evening, with a winning gift of something edible, something handmade or something you prize - like a cookbook. Not only does it encourage interaction, it shows you off as the power host you now are...

Okra Lentil Curry

Okra Dal3“Make a pledge, starting today,

To add a vegetable, to your lentils everyday.

Wholesome & tasty, it adds something new,

Without complicating, your daily stew.

Experiment to taste, peppers red or leaves green,

Chop em all up, so they can’t be seen.

I know you’ll love it, get ready to be surprised,

And worst case? just eat it with french fries!”

Okra Dal1


¾ cup yellow lentils (toor dal), soaked for 1 hour in warm water

1 plum tomato, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

½ teaspoon fresh ginger, crushed

1 small red onion, diced

1 cup okra, cut into 1 inch pieces

5-6 stalks of fresh coriander, stems removed and roughly chopped

1 dried red chili

½ teaspoon cumin seeds

½ teaspoon cumin powder

2 teaspoons coriander powder

½ teaspoon dry mango powder (amchoor)

¾ teaspoon garam masala

¼ teaspoon turmeric powder

½ teaspoon red chili powder (more if you want it spicy)

A pinch of asafetida (hing powder)

4 tablespoons olive oil

Salt to taste

Okra Dal4

Heat oil in a deep-bottomed pan. Add cumin seeds and wait for them to start spluttering. Add the garlic & ginger and sauté for a minute. Mix in the onions and cook till they turn translucent – a couple of minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, along with all the dry spices. Mix well, cover and cook on medium-low flame till tomatoes are soft & tender. Crush them well with a spatula and then add in the okra. Stir for a few minutes and stir in the lentils [you do not need to drain them]. Mix well and add approximately 4 cups of water. Turn heat to medium-high till the mixture comes to a boil. Then turn the heat down to medium and let it simmer for about 45 minutes-1 hour, till the lentils are soft and fully cooked [the time does depend on the quality of lentils and the hardness of water]. Continue to cook for 5-6 extra minutes till the consistency is thick and creamy. Sprinkle fresh coriander, remove from heat and serve hot with rotis, rice or bread.

Okra Dal2

Okra Dal5

Okra Dal6

4 Culinary Finds in & around Durban, South Africa

DrankensbergPanoramaWhen people think of South Africa, they think apartheid, history and a few scattered beaches. Rarely does anyone think food. But after traversing miles of sun-bathed vineyards, conquering grueling hikes & engulfing waves, jumping off cloud-high bridges & driving down spotless roads, people get hungry for more than just adventure. Thus, knowing places that serve up delicious fare in my 'hometown-in-law' always comes handy.
I spend at least 2 weeks every year in South Africa. Housing the big five, it also happens to be home to my husband's family ;)! My trips are always about quality time with the in-laws, baking gooey brownies for the nieces & nephews, exploring the Drakensberg mountains near Durban and of course, letting the sleuth in me dig out those tucked away cafes and culinary spots! To me, no holiday is complete without any of it. 
Below is a list of some places I have loved visiting. Whether it's the food, coffee, decor, ambience, the crowd or a simple memory, each place has a special place in my heart, and today I'd like to share it with you.
Puppy Love at Freedom Cafe: An old shipping container houses this quaint coffee shop and brunch spot for the Durbanites. Nestled away in the popular & artistic Musgrave district of Durban, this is surely a midday go-to date spot. With a distinct love & theme of dogs, the cafe is adorned rustic seats and plenty of colorful curios. And as though the concept wasn't creative enough, each cup of coffee comes with little dog-bone shaped biscuits. Just the sight makes you go 'awwww..'. I'd go back just for those!  
Coffee & Cakes at I Want My Coffee: Yes, I absolutely do. This quirky spot near the Gateway mall in Umhlanga is the place to go for a tall iced latte & a light bite - all while soaking in the relentless Durban sun. With communal tables, plenty of books, wall-full of writings and a range of sweet & savory options, you will never feel alone here. The cafe also boasts of unique home-made coffee flavors such as orange cinnamon or chili chocolate (what!). Oh, and their lamingtons are delish! So, next time you're in surf city over the holidays, gather some cheer with their ever-smiling baristas and give this little birdie a try. 
Beer Tasting at Claren's Brewery: A short trek from Durban, but totally worth it. Situated in the quaint & arty town of Clarens in the Free State, this bar-cum-brewery is surrounded by everything that should surround a beer - mountains, art, color, sun & smiling faces. With an in-house roastery and a range of beers & ciders to chose from, this is exactly the boost you need at the end of that breathtaking hike!
Oh, and if beer isn't your poison, there are also an aromatic roastery next door churning out the best coffee in the region - the popular Highlands Coffee!

Bunny Chow at The Grove, Chatsworth Centre: Bunny chow! Where do I even start. Legend has it when Indians first migrated to South Africa, as laborers in the sugarcane plantations, they required a meal that was not only wholesome & flavorful (yes, we Indians have very strict palates), but also easy enough to carry to the field. Think grains, meat, bread etc. That's when the ladies decided to hollow a loaf of bread, and package the curry inside for them to carry. Pretty brilliant if you ask me. And definitely delicious! Anyway, Bunny Chow is somewhat of a culture in Durban. With each spot vouching to serve the 'hottest curry in town', there are a handful that the locals love. The Grove, situated in the old Indian area of Durban, is one such place. Don't expect an ambience when you go here. Walk in, take your pick from the extensive menu, wait with bated breath for it to arrive and then devour it with all your might. You might need a few bottles of water and a handful of wet wipes on the side. But the feeling in the end of it all will make you float. Spice lovers, your satisfaction is guaranteed. 

Farro & Chickpea Risotto

Farro Chickpea Risotto

"Creamy yet not, with a nutty bite

Wholesome yet flavorful, and a colorful sight.

Healthy too, for gluten there is none

Mix & match your veggies, have some fun!

With hints of spice, it craves the hunger

Ah! a warm welcome, on this day of thunder."


1 cup chickpea curry (recipe : either this or this. Leftovers from your favorite Indian take-out will do as well)

1/2 cup Farro, thoroughly rinsed

1 cup mixed vegetables (I used carrots, asparagus & red radish)

1/2 cup spinach leaves, washed and roughly chopped

2 teaspoons fresh coriander, finely chopped (for garnish)

3/4 cup low sodium vegetable stock (chicken/beef stock can be used as well)

1 teaspoon light olive oil

1/2 teaspoon cumin powder

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Salt, pepper to taste

Mix the Farro with the stock and bring to boil. Once it's half cooked (about 5-6 minutes), reduce to a simmer and add the chickpea curry. Let it cook on medium heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, till most of the liquid has been absorbed by the Farro. Once done, remove from heat, cover and leave for another 5-6 minutes.

In the meantime, heat oil in a non stick skillet. Add the cup of veggies, along with the dry spices and saute for a quick 1-2 minutes, till they just begin to brown. Stir in the chickpea Farro cooked earlier and give it another quick stir. Finally add the spinach leaves and saute till they're just wilted. Garnish with chopped coriander and enjoy hot.

A delicious gluten-free & vegan weekday dinner!

29. Dining Experiences : A Visual Journey

It's the 29. Busi-versary! {err, do you have a better word for it?}

Last year on this very day I launched the 29. Private Kitchen. Without a firm idea of the direction I was headed in, I decided to just cook my way through it. And that is exactly what I have been doing!

With a busy start to the year [in a good way!], more & more people are rolling up their sleeves to dig in to some Indian Tapas. Well, high time! Thus, the 29. kitchen has been anything but untouched. And although I might have been less-than-prompt at posting recipes, I always have enough photographs to keep you occupied. Here is a snippet of my culinary journey through Jan & Feb 2014...

[Unless otherwise mentioned, all photography is copyright of 29.Calories]

Pickled Potato Cracker Cups - Photo Courtesy Suite3-Oh-6

Sweet Potato Chaat - Photo Courtesy Suite3-Oh-6

Vegan Fritters - Photo Courtesy Suite3-Oh-6

29. Business Cards

Water Station

Spicy Potato Cups

Tandoori Shrimp Cakes

Eggplant Kulcha Bites

Choco Coconut Tarts

Red Bean Salad Cups

Spouts & Kulcha Chaat



Tandoori Meatball Chaat


Sweet Potato Bites

Appetizer Buffet

Mint & Veg Biryani

Carrot Halwa Custard Parfait


Date Tea + White Chocolate Truffles


This Week in Food Pictures

"A busy week it's been
Successes, failures & new challenges seen,
A lot of cooking, yes lots
From little puddings to flavorful pots,
Trials & errors, recipes that repeat
Bites with crunch, and those with heat,
Events & dinners, people new
Reviewers, readers, and comments few,
Here are the snippets, simple & clean
Of food, colors, and the week that's been..."

It's been one busy week! While I work on the recipes, here are some pictures from all the adventures this week. If only these could fill you up eh!

Come try my food at one of the upcoming dining experiences! Got a large group? No problem! Contact me to discuss a private tasting.

Carrot Pudding with Burnt Sugar Pot De Creme

Event Buffet Table

Curried Cauliflower Soup 

Vegan Semolina Halwa with Orange Compote

Masala Minced Chicken Sliders with Beer Shooters

Popcorn & Chocolate Bread Pudding

Mint Chicken Tikka Salad on Bread Cups
Vanilla Cupcakes with Pomegranate Swirl

Spicy Tomato Brown Rice

“A dash of red
On a day so white,
That welcoming spice
In a meal so light.
It adds a kick
To an energy drain,
This cold cold weather
Does freeze the brain!
Warm & fragrant
You want that spoon,
Fill your mouth shamelessly
And just swoon….”
2 cups brown rice, boiled (leftover rice from your Chinese takeout works well too)
1 small red onion, sliced lengthwise
4 plum tomatoes, diced
½ green pepper, diced
2 dried red chilies
6-7 curry leaves
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
½ teaspoon roasted cumin powder
½ teaspoon mustard seeds
1 tablespoon coriander powder
½ teaspoon garam masala
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 tablespoons light olive oil
A bunch of fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
 Salt to taste
Heat oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds, chilies, curry leaves, garlic and ginger and cook till the seeds begin to splutter. Add onions and cook for another few minutes till they turn translucent. Now add the tomatoes, green pepper and all the dry spices. Turn flame to medium-low, cover and cook till the tomatoes are tender. 
Uncover and add the tomato paste along with ½ cup water. Cook till the mixture begins to simmer and then add the rice & mint leaves. Mix well, adjust seasoning and cook for a few minutes till the rice has absorbed any excess liquid. Serve hot with a dash of yogurt and crispy poppadams. Warm yourself with this delicious dish at one of my dining experiences!

Recipe by Request: Chickpea Korma with Roasted Squash

You gave me a shout. And I always answer. 
Here is my recipe to a quick Thursday curry lunch, filled with flavor, spice & creamy goodness. I wasn't planning to post it so I don't have too many photographs, but hopefully the recipe will suffice. 
Oh, and for those who care, it's gluten free & vegan. Hello health!
1 cup garbanzo beans, soaked (2-3 hrs) and pressure boiled (or replace with canned chickpeas)
1 small acorn squash, peeled and diced
1 plum tomato, diced
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1/2 red onion, sliced lengthwise
1/2 green pepper, diced
3 curry leaves
1 dried red chili, broken in half
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
2 teaspoons tomato paste
4 tablespoons light olive oil
Dry Spices
1+1/2 teaspoon coriander powder 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes (more if you like the heat!)
1 tablespoon Indian Chana masala (available at all India stores)
1 teaspoon Indian Mutton masala (available at all India stores)
Salt & Chili to taste

Season the squash with a dash of olive oil, salt, pepper and 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder and roast in a 400F oven for 15 minutes, till soft and golden. Keep aside.

Heat the oil in a non-stick pan. Add the curry leaves and mustard seeds and cook till the seeds begin to splutter. Add the garlic, onions and dried chili and cook till the onion turns translucent. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste and all the dry spices. Cook on medium flame till the tomatoes have broken down and completely cooked. 
Now add the squash and green pepper and cook for another minute or so. Lastly stir in the chickpeas, liquid and all. Mix well and let it all simmer on low flame for at least 15 minutes, till most of the water has been absorbed. The thicker the curry, the creamier the texture. Check and adjust seasoning and turn off the heat.   Garnish with slivered almonds & fresh coriander and enjoy with Roti, Basmati Rice, Cous Cous or Quinoa.
Try this recipe and more yummylicious bites at my upcoming Dining Experiences [Follow my culinary experiments via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest]


Top 10 Recipes & Tidbits From 2013

From exciting experiments to fearless failures, 2013 was a momentous year in the kitchen for me. It was also a year of my first half-marathon, lots of travel (4 different continents!), buckets of coffee, never-ending TLC from family, some downs but many many many ups. 

And as I welcome 2014 with new resolutions, earnest smiles, test recipes and you - my ardent readers, I can't help but look back fondly on some of my favorites from last year. Here is a list of my top 10 recipes (in no particular order).

Make me happy and leave me a comment with your picks will you?

1. Savory Jalebi for the beer guzzlers
2. Caramel Bread Pudding for those with a sweet tooth
3. Curried Guacamole for them Guac fans
4. Carrot Halwa Cheesecake or Parfait for those who love a twist
5. Okra Chips for the healthy
6. Masala Gobi Pizza for the experimental
8. Truffled Mushroom & Cheese Samosa for the bite-sized
9. Whole-Wheat Gougeres for the fancy french
10. Wonder Tea Recipes for all those who need to stop calling it 'chai-tea'!

Not to mention the fun I had creating, plating, feeding and [not] cleaning up for all my dining events! For memory sake, here is a photographic recap of some past events from 2013 - makes me pull my collar up high ;)

A big 29. shout out to all of you who made 2013 more-than-memorable! And remember, keep eating your way through 2014. 

Christmas Colors - The Meal That Closed 2013!

"To those who came
And smacked their lips,
To those who thanked
And taught me tricks.
To those who support(ed)
And taste it all,
To those who fearlessly
Told me to get some balls.
To those who are patient
People old & new,
To those who with me
Bid 2013 adieu!
I love you much
With a heart so true,
Here's to 2014, and cooking
Many more storms for you..."

29. wishes all it's readers, supporters, commenters, criticizers a very very happy Holiday season!
Today I hosted the EatWith Management team for my last meal in 2013. Personally, it was a great deal. The team who has been monumental in helping me grow, market and keep working on what I love were actually in my living room. And thankfully, did not leave disappointed.

My meal was inspired with the colors of christmas - Red, Greed and a touch of Gold. And no, I don't believe in food colors. Why use artificial 'helpers' when nature offers so much. Don't believe me? Scroll down for the pictures and you'll see!

I started the team with warm Lentil Soup with a dash of Chili Sesame oil. Sounds strange? Try it - the Indian spices with a slight chinese kick was quite a combination. Be careful though, don't add too much. The soup was paired with spoons of curried chickpea hummus & homemade wholewheat crackers (baked namak paare). Notice the red, green & golden?

The conversation started just as the courses were heating up. I served
- Spicy Spinach Chicken in Bread Cups w/ a dollop of cream cheese. Inspired by all things green and similar to my Spinach Corn Deep Dish Pizza Bites.

- Masala Gobi (cauliflower) with Potato Fritter Nests & smashed Avocados. Yes please! My take on a sort of a deconstructed Aloo Gobi. This was an experimental dish but the combination did wonders, specially the spice from the gobi, crunch from the fritters and the creaminess of avocados! One satisfying bite. Inspired by the gold twinkle of the season. I also served some chilled Pomegranate & Mint tea along for those who might need some help with that tingling heat. 

- Last but not the least was the South Indian Tomato Brown Rice w/ Mint yogurt & homemade wheat crisps. Inspired by the happy red, I think this won the show - both by taste & presentation!

(PS-I was too excited to get pics of the first two, but will upload them when I make them next time!)

I ended the afternoon with Fig Milk Pudding Truffles dipped in a gooey dark chocolate ganache. And of course,the sprinkles for added happiness. I sneakishly grinned as I watched the guests play which-sprinkle-color-do-I-like-more? I think red won. Paired with some warm Cardamom Masala Chai, this had holiday written all over it!

The best part. The sunset decided to join in the fun and co-operate with my color theme! Bye bye 2013.

To try any of these dishes or teas, join me for my upcoming Dining Experiences in 2014, or contact me for a private tasting! I'll see you there.

Leftover Lesson : Tomato Chicken Puff Pastry

“Another kitchen trick for you
For that pile of thanksgiving meat,
Transformation is key
To a great new treat.
Warm and crusty
A mid-afternoon winner,
Dip in your soup
And add zest to your dinner.
Bite & savor
Lick those fingers clean,
After this leftover makeover
None will left to be seen..”

This time of the year I feel overwhelmed with leftovers. In the excitement of the holiday season, I am entertaining (and experimenting) continuously. So there are bound to be spillovers that no one can stomach. Also, I hate repeats during my dinners, so that usually adds to the pile up. Leftovers, on the other hand, are great to be creative with - specially for appetizers and quick snacks. Here is one of many ways to use that turkey/chicken roast shreds from your thanksgiving dinner. After this, hopefully, you shall not see them for another year!
1 cup leftover chicken or turkey roast, shredded
½ cup leftover grilled vegetables, diced – I used green pepper, red pepper & carrots
1 large plum tomato, diced
1 spring onion, finely chopped
½ red onion, finely chopped
½ teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 green chili, finely chopped
1 teaspoon coriander powder
½ teaspoon cumin powder
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed and rolled out

Heat oil in a non-stick pan. Add the ginger, garlic chili and both onions and sauté till transparent. Stir in the tomatoes along with all dry spices. Cook till tomatoes are tender. Now add the vegetables & meat, and cook on high heat for a few minutes till all ingredients are well mixed. Remember the meat and vegetables are already cooked, so you don’t want to overcook it. Remove from heat and cool.

Put a few tablespoons of the mixture on the rolled out pastry and roll into a disc. Cut into 2 inch pieces and bake at 400 F for 15-20 minutes, till the pastry has puffed and is light brown. Serve hot with chili mayo.

The Last Lunch : A Thanksgiving Photo Journey

"Here's a little jingle
To start your holiday,
Food, fun & family
Or whatever makes you yay!
You don't have to be special
To enjoy a meal warm,
Eat with strangers 
And still soak up the charm..
Put on your best shirt
And grab that festive cheer,
Celebration is about you
So come make friends dear!"

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today, I hosted the last EatWith lunch in my apartment. No, I am not quitting. No ways! Just moving apartments.

In the true spirit of the holiday, my menu was an Indian-Inspired-Global-Style-Thanksgiving-Tapas : if there ever were such a thing! The idea was to go beyond America while enjoying Thanksgiving, and bring in that global palate in an authentic 29. style - by fusion or presentation. Thus, each course was served in a style popularized by another country/cuisine, but boasted of Indian flavors. Confused? Read on, you'll know what I mean.

We started on the streets of India. A warm Chicken Chili Soup with winter spices, paired with crisp Cumin Sweet Potato Poppers. 

It was a small group this time so I tried my hands at a sit down meal as well. It was different, and quite enjoyable actually!

The mains courses were:

1. A truly American inspired Turkey Fritters served with a sweet spiced mango chutney and Alfalfa sprouts. It's Thanksgiving, there had to be Turkey!

2. Traveling to Mexico, the guests had a go at Roasted & Spiced Eggplant Tacos with a cold carrot slaw.  [recipe coming soon]

3. Ending the savory courses with an Italian take on pilaf was the Curried Cauliflower Orzo Pilaf, served with some sprinkles for a crunch.

The journey had to bring you back to India eventually. So, the sweet showcase was a Semolina Coconut Pudding with a pomegranate burnt sugar glaze & cinnamon cream. A warm, silky end to a great holiday lunch. Thanks to all those who came, and hello to all those who I'll be seeing at my next few meals...

29. Dinner Recap : The Warmth of Spice

Another dinner. Another menu. And another hell-of-a night! 

I know you're all itching to see the pictures so without saying too much, I'll jump right into the star of the show - the 29. table. 

The welcome bite was themed to bring warmth on a cold autumn evening - a Hot & Sweet starter combo of Spicy Red Cabbage Rasam Soup & Sweet Mango Chutney Crackers. Delish! Both were 29. first timers and more successful than I had anticipated them to be! No complaints there.

The mains were:
1. Grilled Tilapia and Curried Cauliflower Puree served in Gol Gappas. A perfect combination of silken warmth and that ever endearing crunch.

2. Roasted Eggplant Pinwheels sautéed with vegetables & spices, served in a chaat form. The little boats made it look rather cute - if I may say so myself! The flavor of roasted (almost charred) eggplant sure did a dance in everyones' mouth. A sure keeper for future events.

3. Chicken & Lentil curry served atop Brown Rice Ajwain Pulao , finished with warm Alfalfa sprouts. A slight asian touch on an otherwise typical Indian dinner dish. If anyone was still hungry, this filled in the gaps just right.

The sweet end to it all was my second experiment of the day. A smooth Carrot Chocolate Pudding served with Cinnamon Cream. I usually make this with rice, like kheer, but decided to use a bunch of sweet winter carrots instead that were threatening to take over my refrigerator. The result was, to say the least, a great end to a creatively enjoyed meal. And the sprinkles brought an early christmas cheer to my gathering. Oh joy! [recipe coming soon]

Was this my most-loved menu yet? Someone did ask for an autograph, so perhaps it was. But only till the next one.

Want to try the next 29. menu? Sign up for one of my upcoming events!

October on a Plate : A Photo Essay

"A warm greeting
With a touch of spice,
Feeding strangers
29. does like!

Colorful soup shots
To begin the treat,
Then a few sticks, cups & rolls
Sans any meat.

While the wine does air
The fritters come out,
Talking and mingling
With flavors all around...

Moonlight on the bridge
With water sparkling bright,
The flavorful chicken next
Is just as great a sight!
Conversation grows loud
There is humor in hunger,
The warm curried bowls
Cause a mini stir!

With tummy's growing full
The end is [sadly] nigh,
With a sweet ol' sigh...

And as we wind up
Another night of celebration,
I get a few hugs
And an imaginary ovation.

Thank you to those
Who love my unique feast,
I know I'll cook forever
If you just promise to eat...."

Check our upcoming events or contact us to book a private tasting today!

29. Let's Lunch Event - EatWith Your Eyes

Curried Sweet Potato & Coconut Soup Spoons. A delectable way to begin a Friday. Don't you agree?

29. opened it's doors to a truly diverse group this afternoon. A retired teacher from Argentina, a student from upstate NY, an HR consultant from London/Korea and a Wall st journalist from right here, NYC.

I greeted them with some Iced Clove & Mint Tea & a spoonful of Curried Sweet Potato & Coconut Soup. Yum! My surprise nibbler for the day was a roasted pepper and cream cheese dip served in little Tostitos scoops. I find these things so cute!

The main act was:
1. Grilled Mixed Veg Kebabs - marinated in cumin, coriander, garlic, fresh mint & lime juice, these are a light & colorful way to start a mid-day meal.
2. Fishcakes with Tomato Chutney - as always, a crowd pleaser! 
3. Chicken & Pea 'Sticky' Biryani w/ Cumin Yogurt - In favor of [always] experimenting, I served the yogurt in little glasses on the side. Oh, and I stuck a coriander stalk in each biryani to make it look like a little bonzai pot. How fun & adorable! 
4. Indian Trifle Parfait - with luscious layers of sponge cake soaked in milk, raspberry jam and a personal favorite, chocolate custard! Remember what I always say about chocolate? It's a miracle waiting to happen in your mouth.

A lunch should always be this special. Specially if it welcomes the weekend.

Come join me in my next culinary adventure. You will leave fascinated, full and with a range of new ideas you never thought you needed!

Hello Sweden! A Night of Transformations & Tapas

"Down from Sweden
Picturesque & green,
To the jungle that's NYC
With skyscrapers mean.
Marvels & buildings
That beg to be seen,
Tours & studies
From Brooklyn to Queens.
Amidst the work
There were treats in mind,
A tingle of taste buds
Seeking that unique find.
So in quest of adventure
For fun, food & wine,
This great group of Swedes
Stopped by 29..."
A team from the biggest Swedish architectural firm in NYC? A study themed on "Transformation" in the boroughs? Well, 29. just had to have a peek. I'm quite nosy like that.

Transformation is really the foundation of what I do. So it was an absolute pleasure when a group of 10 visitors wanted to carry that very theme from their tour to their taste buds. What an honor! Not to mention fun.

The night started with a call from the Swedes saying they have gotten off at a wrong subway station. Oh hell, a 20 minute walk in an unknown part of town - not to mention the humidity? Not a great way to start an experience I'd say. But all smiles at the door, they were the most conversational, comfortable, curious, receptive & beer-loving group I have fed. And thankfully they were hungry too.

I greeted them with little shots of spiced buttermilk with celery sticks - a rather cooling treat after the long walk. While they munched on slight variations of mince chicken & potato chaat bites, I started on the menu. With each dish themed around their study and showcasing it's own 'transformation', the night finally went uphill....

1. Curried Eggplant Sliders - my version of the Indian Pav Bhaji made with curried eggplant & a mixed salad for that slight crunch. The warm & soft brioche buns only added to the melt-in-the mouth taste. Yes, there is a slight french fusion here!

2. Tilapia Fishcakes w/ Tomato Chutney - these did a vanishing act. Perhaps it was the combination of tangy chutney with a smooth & spicy fish cutlet that worked the taste buds. Or perhaps the bite sized portions were just too convenient to pop in. All I can say is I will definitely be making these for future events. (Psst, notice how I didn't even manage to get a pic!)
3. Beans & Chicken Biryani w/ Cumin Yogurt - I don't have a recipe for this (yet), simply because it was an experimental (read accidental) discovery. I cooked basmati rice in a chicken version of my Indian Chili and voila! I love yogurt and I believe in adding it to everything - in this case it was the flame fighter for those who needed it. Try cooking your rice/grains in a pre-made (or leftover) Indian curry next time. You will be surprised at the flavors that develop. 

4. Kalakand Truffles w/ Chocolate Ganache & Crushed Nuts - something I have made over and over and over. And always received the same reaction - 'OMG! what is this!'. My proudest showcase of how you can transform any Indian sweet into something low on sugar, lighter on the palate and in a form recognizable to all. And what I can say about chocolate. Chocolate is chocolate. Sneak a spoon of it anytime, anywhere.

Amidst the view and tapas, one of them fell asleep on the couch. Overfed? Bored? Jetlagged? Whatever the reason, I couldn't be happier that they made themselves at home.
[Update] - And they revisited! Read all about the second dinner here.
Check out my upcoming events to plan your own night of Indian Tapas!

29. Navigates NYC : A Tale of 3 Tea & Tapas

Tea time is about introductions, food and conversations. So what better a way to get acquainted to something new, than over a few cuppas?

Today, a few ladies who are new to New York (much like myself) visited the 29. kitchen. Held in collaboration with NYC Navigator, it was a Tea & Tapas Pairing afternoon. What is that you ask? A quirky way to make people have 3 varieties of Indian teas, along with some flavorful (a.k.a slightly spicy) bite sized treats. With questions and curiosity, stories and sharing, wows and wondrous looks, we pretty much talked about everything under the sun. Women.

It was also a great way for me to tell others that Indian tea is not only Masala chai, and Indian food is not only curry. Here is why.

The menu was short and simple, but each pairing had a story.

1. Tangy Corn & Pea Crackers paired with Cardamom Black Milk Tea : We started our afternoon on  the streets of North India. A place where swarms of tired shoppers relax with a cup of 'masala chai' and roadside 'chaat' (street snacks). The combination of sweet milky tea with a crunchy snack is enough to wake the dead, leave alone perk up a dissatisfied spender. Gotta keep boosting the economy I say.
2. Spicy Chicken Mince Cups paired with a chilled Fresh Mint & Clove Tea : Our journey then moved to a sophisticated Indian restaurant that doesn't exist. The spicy chicken mince curry that sat atop crusty bread cups did not need selling. With no signs of leftovers, the cool mint tea was a a fire extinguisher for those weak at the heart of spice- including myself! A refreshing palate cleanser, before the grand finale....
3. Carrot Milk Pudding Truffles paired with Ginger & Date Tea : We then headed towards our last stop. The sweet market. If nothing else makes you happy, this surely will. The warmth of ginger and subtle sweetness from the dates, made this pairing truly candied. And the best part? It's good for you! The combination of dates, ginger and carrots made this course a wholesome one, and while you were licking your fingers clean, your body was smiling back at you. Oh, and the dollop of chocolate on the truffles was my wild card - everyone needs a little treat now & then.
Want to taste this menu? Join me in my next Tea & Tapas Pairing!