Wednesday, February 25, 2009



[A Simple recipe for the ultimate Mughlai dish]



An delicious excerpt from my mouthwatering Foodie Adventures Book APPETITE FOR A STROLL

If you want a first impression of the authenticity of a “Mughlai” Restaurant, the first dish you must order and taste is a “Do Piaza” and it will give you an idea of the standard and authenticity of Mughlai Cuisine you can expect there.

Indeed the “Do Piaza” may be considered the culinary benchmark to judge and evaluate a Mughlai Restaurant.

And if Do Piaza [Mutton or Chicken] doesn’t figure on the menu, you better order Chinese or Continental, or stick to the ubiquitous "Punjabi" Butter Chicken-Naan routine!

“Do Piaza” means “two onions” or rather “double onions”.

Now how did this dish get its name?

Maybe it’s apocryphal, but legend has it that this delicious dish was invented by Mullah Do-Piaza, a renowned and celebrated cook at the Mughal Emperor Akbar’s court. One of the Navaratnas (nine jewels), it is said he could conjure up culinary delights using only two onions, and a Mughlai dish cooked in that particular style is called a “Do Piaza”.

Water is not used at all when cooking a Do Piaza.

Onions (Piaz or Pyaaz) are used twice – hence the name “Do” [“Two”] Piaza, or Pyaaza, spell it whichever way you like.

Come Dear Reader and fellow Foodie; let’s together cook a Chicken Do Piaza. It takes time, but it’s easy.


First cut a generous number of onions (the more the onions the sweeter the gravy) into rings, yes separate onion rings.

Now, in a large cooking vessel, put in the chicken pieces, add a liberal amount of curds and mix well. Copiously layer the chicken-curd mixture with the onion rings, cover with a tight lid and set aside to marinate for at least an hour.

Remember, do not vigorously mix in the onion rings; just liberally layer the chicken-curd mélange with the onion rings.

After marinating the chicken-curd-onion ring mixture for an hour or more, place the vessel on a slow fire with the lid on, and let the chicken cook slowly in its own juices and those released by the onion rings, till the onion rings are reduced to a pulp and, finally, the liquid almost dries up.

This is the first “Piaza”!


In another pan, pour in and heat pure ghee and fry sliced onions (the “second” piaza) till crisp brown, add finely chopped ginger and garlic, bay leaf, slit green chillies, cardamoms, cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns, and then an adequate amount of chopped tomatoes, stir and fry on slow fire, and when the ghee separates, add the chicken [cooked in curds and onion rings] from the first pot, and stir fry till well browned and the gravy becomes nice and thick.

I don’t like to add garam masala, turmeric, red chilli powder, or any other spice powders; but if you like it, go ahead.

I always find it best to taste the gravy and add the minimal amount of salt as necessary almost at the end of the cooking process.

Remember, do not add water at any stage or you will ruin the dish.

A “Do Piaza” cooks in its own juices – during both the first and second “piazas”.


Place in a serving dish, squeeze a lemon, garnish with fresh green chopped coriander and your Chicken Do Piaza is ready to eat.

But first let’s “visually” savour the Do Piaza in our mind’s eye.

It looks appetizing – nicely browned generous pieces of succulent mutton, in translucent juicy onion rings in scrumptious gravy.

It smells good too – heavenly mouth-watering aroma wafts towards you making you smack your lips and salivate in anticipation of the gastronomic treat that awaits you.

It tastes marvellous – absolutely delicious, not spicy hot, but mild and flavoursome, the unique sweetish zest of onions is discernible and as the heavenly medley of flavours and fragrances synergizes inside you, and you feel a sense of supreme satisfaction.

Relish the Chicken Do Piaza with hot chappties, phulkas or even a piece of soft fluffy pav, and you will experience sheer bliss.

Dear Foodie - if you want to relish more such delights and enjoy appetizing food writing why don't you get a copy of APPETITE FOR A STROLL by just clicking the links below:



Copyright © Vikram Karve 2009
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Sugar Cane Juice




A hot dry scorching afternoon in Pune.

I am feeling terrible – my spirits totally drained out – my throat parched, my insides dehydrated, and my whole body desperately thirsty.

Suddenly I see fresh sugarcane juice being made, in one of those ubiquitous “prehistoric” hand-carts, sugarcane is being crushed between two wooden rollers, a hardy man moving the overhead handle round and round, till the sugarcane is fully drained of its juice. In between he presses in pieces of ginger and juicy lemon with the sugarcane, and goes round and round extracting the last drop, and soon in my hand I have a tall glass of cool frothy sugarcane juice.

I sip. Close my eyes to heighten my inner senses.

Ah! So soothing. Stimulatingly refreshing and revaitalizing. Blissfully ambrosial, like nectar. A real thirst quenching elixir.

The sugarcane juice is very very lip-smackingly yummy, the ginger and lemon add a zesty tang to the deliciously sweet taste, every sip fortifying, invigorating, revitalizing, and soon I feel delightfully perked up, rejuvenated, and in the best of spirits.

Let me tell you one thing – you get the best sugarcane juice in Pune – no doubt about it. I have had sugarcane juice all over, but nothing can beat the sheer quality and lovely heavenly taste of the sugarcane juice get in Pune.

You don’t believe me! Okay, just go across to Shanipar in the heart of Pune and check out a fresh glass of sugarcane juice at Murlidhar Rasvanti Gruha [Established 1947], or at any renowned “raswanti gruha” or “usa che gurhal” in Pune and you will know what I am talking about. Maybe it’s got to do with the quality of sugarcane, maybe it’s the ginger and lemon that do the trick.

Well the “smart” youngsters of today may consider it infra dig to drink sugarcane juice and prefer colas, but for me – I love fresh tangy refreshing sugarcane juice anytime.

They say sugarcane juice is healthy, strengthens your organs like your brain, heart, stomach, kidneys, eyes and sex organs, has plenty of protein and iron, prevents sore throat, cold and flu, and is a panacea for many ills, but I don’t know all that – I just love a tall cool restorative glass of sugarcane juice on a hot dry afternoon.


Copyright © Vikram Karve 2009
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

GREEN CHILLI ICE CREAM - Appetite for a Stroll





[ An excerpt from my book APPETITE FOR A STROLL ]

It’s been a long long time since I’ve relished a bowl of “Green Chilli Ice Cream” but the zestful stimulating taste still lingers on my tongue.

Never before had I enjoyed eating ice cream so much. It was indeed a unique and passionate eating experience. Let me tell you about it.

I love ice cream. A friend of mine told me that there is a place opposite the Chowpatty Sea Face in Mumbai India that serves “green chilli” ice cream. I didn’t believe him. I have savored myriad flavours of ice cream but “green chilli ice cream” seemed a bit far fetched. On questioning, my friend confessed that he had only heard about it, not eaten it himself.

The very concept of green chilli ice cream whetted my curiosity so much that at sunset I was standing in front of Bachelorr’s (that’s the spelling on the menu card) Ice Cream and Juice Stall, my appetite fully stimulated by a long brisk walk.

It was there on the menu card – Green Chilli Ice Cream. I ordered it and walked with the bowl to a lonely bench nearby to enjoy the eating experience in glorious solitude.

The ice cream looks a creamy pink (not chilli green as I had expected it to be).

I close my eyes and smell the ice cream – a nice sweet milky fragrance, a bit fruity; certainly no trace of the piquant penetrating sting of chillies.

With a tremor of trepidation I spoon a bit of the green chilli ice cream on my tongue.

My taste buds are smothered by a sweet mellifluous sensation as the cold creamy ice cream starts melting on my tongue. I am disappointed, feel conned – it seems it was just hype. This is run of the mill stuff. Or is it?
Wait a moment!

As the ice cream melts away I suddenly feel a sharp piercing fiery taste that sizzles my tongue, stings through my nose and penetrates my brain. My tongue is on fire and, like instant firefighting, I instinctively spoon a blob of ice cream onto my tongue.

The cool ice cream quenches my burning tongue with its almost ambrosial taste but the moment it melts away I am zipped like a rocket with the sharp punch of the green chillies.

So that was the art of eating green chilli ice cream. Hot and cold. Scorch and quench. Sting and soothe. Contrasting sensations. Like Alternating Current.

Sharp tangy kicks burning through the cool syrupy sweetness till your system is fully perked up. And a trace of the biting tangy flavour of the green chilli remains within me for a long long time as I walk away.

Green Chilli Ice Cream doesn’t satiate – it excites, stimulates, gives you a “kick”, zests you up. It’s a truly passionate delight. I searched for it everywhere in Pune, but couldn’t get it.

So I’ll have to wait for my next trip to Mumbai to enjoy my favourite zesty ice cream again! Bachelorr’s has many other exciting and different flavors too, but I love Green Chilli.

Dear fellow Foodies, the next time you are in Mumbai, after your busy hectic day, head for Chowpatty at midnight and relish a bowl of green chilli ice cream.

And do let us know how you enjoyed the experience!

And if you want to relish more such delicious foodie adventures why don’t you read my book APPETITE FOR A STROLL – to know more just click the links below:

Happy Eating!


Copyright © Vikram Karve 2009
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.