The Summer dishes list

12:29 PM

Summer, I must have mentionned it many times already, takes the toll of of us all here in Mumbai. The most common complaint from my friends is about cooking, there is nothing more daunting and torturing than standing in front of a hot stove for hours when it is already steaming hot outside the kitchen.

Many confessed they would just be about fine to live on just veggies, dahi, and salads, but end up cooking more than they want because their in-laws or husband refuse to change their habits. I have others friends who would love to go off the beaten track but don't know how.

I myself am not bound by traditions, and since DH likes his north Indian food in the tiffin, I delegated the task to the maid ages ago. It is not worth the hassle for me to cook these anymore when we can afford a compromise that works for both parties.
And while I love to cook, Summer is that time I keep it to a strict minimum, as a rule (albeit unspoken) I don't spend more than 15 minutes standing in front of my stove in the Summer, a dish can require longer cooking and still be a Summer dish, as long as it doesn't pin me to the kitchen the whole time. I put a list of things that makes it to the menu during the Summer, some continental, some Indians, as long as it fits my no sweat requirement it is fine by me.

Here is the list of dishes that made it to my lunch table (dinner is almost always just fruits and yogurt during the hot months):

Prawn Canapé

Idli with tomato chutney 
A breakfast dish in theory, but try it for lunch, it is filling enough, and if you cook the idli in the rice cooker at the same time you prepare the chutney, you have a a dish in 15 minutes with only about 5 minutes of prep time and stove cooking.

Rocket and mango salad

Aloo methi salad

Potato salad
This is a good old Summer classic of continental cuisine, and it can be made a million way, it all start with boiled and cooled down potatoes that you cube, add mayo, dahi, olive oil or a vinaigrette for the dressing, spring onions, parsley, walnuts, sultanas, chunk of pineapple, or apples or anything else if you wish, and you have a filling dish.

Chicken wraps
You can grill the chicken the night before, of roast a chicken in the oven, make chapati from scratch or buy those precooked one to spare you a sweat session, make a dressing with Mayo or dahi, and season as you wish, with wraps you can let your imagination go wild, and of course is you are vegetarian, you can make paneer or tofu wraps.

Chargrilled chicken served with fries and a garlic mayonnaise
Make the fries in the oven, grill the chicken chunks on a hot griddle, and crush fresh garlic in store bought mayo. A dish ready in 20 minutes because of the fries baking, the chicken needs minutes to grill.

Pasta salads 
Another classic, just cook some pasta the night before, store in a air tight container, add you choice of fresh veggies, or meat, or both, make a dressing with olive oil or mayo, season with herbs, and voila!

Raita served with naans and a green salad
I love a cucumber, tomato and onion raita, but whatever works for you will do great. Naans will cook in minutes, the dough need to rest for an hour at least, so knead it when it isn't too hot yet.

Dosa with dal and chutney 
Dal cooks itself in the pressure cooker for the most part, dosa takes minutes on the stove, and the same applies to a chutney, which you can cook the night before, or early in the morning.

Oven roast chicken and roast tomatoes served with rice 
The ultimate no sweat dish, the chicken cooks along with the tomatoes in one baking dish for about 45 minutes, the rice goes in the rice cooker, all cooks without you having to be more than a few minutes in the kitchen. The chicken needs to be rubbed in mustard and sprinkled in herbs, and you need to remember to pour a little water in the baking dish mid cooking.

Karela fry (bitter gourd) 
Served with chapati or rice and some yogurt (dahi) on the side.

A slightly pricey option, but all you need a little practice to get it right. The rice cooks in the rice cooker before being cooled down, then making the seaweed rolls can be done quickly once you know how. They can be made with cooked prawns and canned tuna over here since raw fish is a risky thing to try. There are tons of vegetarian options as well.

And of course there are all the sandwiches variant I won't list there, too many of them. And contrary to what people might thing, vegetarian sandwiches are as filling as non-veg ones provided you include a protein part to it, be it cheese, paneer, or tofu, or even a rich heavy filling like avocado. If you prefer sticking to Indian food, the best is to downsize. Make it or a vegetable, or a dal dish served with chapati, use fresh dahi or a cucumber salad as a cooling filler side dish. In Summer most people feel less hungry anyway.

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  1. loveonthebeach.wordpress.com3:51 PM

    I do not know how the women in India handle cooking in the summer! It gets to be about 25C in England and I sweat my butt off. My in-laws always say that a sandwich is just a snack and my husband only likes them if they have a warm filling - so high maintenance!! ;)

  2. Well I think that in a lot of cases, women just suck it up and do what is considered "proper" for their husbands, if said husbands knew how nasty it gets in the kitchen in Summer and were to help with the cooking, I bet there would suddenly less heavy meals coming out of said kitchen during the hot months.
    sandwiches are indeed considered a snack over here, so is pizza, and maggi noodles. All of these have over 300 calories, definitely NOT a snack, but then I estimated the calories in a full North Indian meal at about 600-700 calories on average, so maybe this could be the reason. In Europe we consider a fruit, or 2-3 cookies a snack, anything else is a meal, including the 4pm "Gouter" which is the French equivalent to tea time in UK, this is a meal in itself, even if what is served are small sized pastries, fruits, or cookies.

  3. I'm a foodie, I never really got used to one cuisine over another which is probably why I still eat a lot of continental food, I also eat other Asian cuisine, but it is too much work in this heat which is why there isn't anything Asian on the menu apart from the Sushi. I think the only thing that changed with me having being introduced to Indian cuisine is that I now prefer dishes that come with a gravy or are moist enough, in the past I could omit the gravy with a chicken breast or steak, not anymore.

  4. apple3:22 PM

    It is true that cooking Indian food in heat is a problem. In Indian villages, women used got respiratory diseases from inhaling the fumes of the mud stove. Now, they uses "smokeless chulas" which collect the fumes and send it out.

    It is true that Indian meals are elaborate. We are used to home cooked meals, so everything else is snacks for us. Benalis cannot eat without their fish, which they need every day and Punjabis cannot do without their dal and roti. Although, Punjabi and South Indian foods consist of one or two dishes, like idli sambar or dal roti, which kind of cuts down on the cooking time. North Indians and East Indian have more elaborate meals. On top of it, meany Indian men don't know how to cook, which is a pity. For Indian food, you got to chop the vegetables, soak the rice and do all sorts of things which are more time consuming than the actual process of cooking. There is little like pre-cooked ingredients which you can put in the food though we have idli mixes and ginger-garlic pastes these days. The main problem is we expect somebody to cook and serve food to us, which is not always possible these days with fast pace of life. I tried cooking but was frustrated by the amount to time and patience required for it. I simply marveled at the patience of women.

  5. I think more and more men will know how to cook with them spending a few years working in another city after graduation and not yet being married, even if they are basic dishes. We live a much much faster paced lifestyle these days, heck even in Europe my generation will not do as elaborate meals like my grand am still does because a lot of things have to be slow cooked, we simply can't spend hours in a day in the kitchen on top of working outside the home, and even for stay at home moms like me it is though with all the children related activities.
    The other day I was showing a video of a thing called rotimatic to DH which is available in Singapore, the machine mixes atta, water and oil to preset quantities and all you need to do

  6. All you need to do is enter the number of rotis you want on the electronic display, the degree of softness you desire and poof the machine will prepare fresh atta and cook your rotis without you having to do anything else, apparently it can make one roti per minute. The day that appliance make it to India I know a lot of ladies that will go for it, myself included because that will mean you can get freshly cooked roti anytime. With our urban fast paced lives, a machine like this is much welcome

  7. Jonita Andrews9:28 PM

    I really find wraps and roasts the easiest. It doesn't take much of our time. Since u mentioned them try this Kolkata egg roll. Its easy peasy. All u need to do is buy some frozen paratha( not chapati) from the Indian store fry an egg and chop some onion and cucumber slices and sprinkle ur fav spices n seasonings. Those rolls are so famous here in the u.s that the Mexican restaurants have been serving them. :) its so good that u wont feel the need to add any kind of meat or veggies.

  8. Ohh that is one I'll have to try! By fired eggs you mean scrambled eggs or an omelette?

  9. The egg is put on the pan like omellette and then the pratha is fried over it.

    It is a very common Bengali delicacy and now found all over the country.

  10. Jonita Andrews11:03 AM

    U need to fry an omelette for that. Place it on the paratha add the julienned cucumbers and chopped onions and finally sprinkle ur fav spices. I do hope you get frozen or readymade parathas there. Because making one from scratch is so tedious and I never really mastered how to get those fine circles on the parathas. My sister in law told me the stores sometimes don't stock them. :)

  11. Yes we have them frozen, in fact thanks to the brand ID we now even have them precooked and packed fresh at room temperature, they just need to be warmed a few seconds ona hot tawa. I never mastered these circles on them either, and judging by their wide popularity in supermarkets around here in their ready made avatar, neither have most of the Mumbai crowd :-)

  12. Thanks for the link, I will try them sometimes this week, that really really looks tasty.

  13. apple2:46 PM

    It is surprising that you have never eaten this. This is very common street food now. It comes in different types of filling from cheese, mutton, chicken etc. You do eat street food do you, golgappas, chaat, vatata vada, pou bhaji, bhelpuri etc.

  14. Yes I do eat street food and love it. How on earth did I never see an egg roll? Maybe they are less popular in South India. In Lucknow I am usually stuffing myself with aloo tiki and golgappas, in Mumbai I have tried different chaats but for some reason it is the kachore I go after the most.

  15. Have you eaten the famous tunda kabab of Lucknow or the Lucknow biryani?? or Galauti Kababs. Lucknow's cuisine and cultural heritage is world famous.

    This story is more appropriate for galuti kabab with the toothless nawab. Tunde was named after the chef who had only one arm. The chaats and kachoris are more tasty in Benaras, Lucknow and Allahabad. Most the street food actually originated in Uttar Pradesh and later spread to different parts of India.
    There was one very funny and famous story about lucknow nawabs (aristocrats). Once two nawabs met on the railway station. As one was boarding the train, he saw the other. He said "Phela aap" (you first, sir). The other in his courtesy said "Nahin, pehle aap" (No, you first, sir). Meanwhile, the train took off leaving the two stranded on the station. This is the extent of courtesy Lucknow was famous of. This became a famous joke about the what excess courtsey and formality does. As one famous Indian poet said "There is great inconvenience in formality. Those who are not formal have a more peaceful life."

  16. Lucknow is indeed a foodie paradise, and I LOVE galauti kababs, DH and I even learned to make them at home. Chaats obviously taste better over there, but I found decent kachore in other places, aloo tiki, not so much, it has to be in Lucknow, nothing comes close to it elsewhere.

  17. apple2:56 PM

    Being a foodie I think you would be interested in these queer street foods

    This fellow mark wiens has many videos on the you tube. He has travelled all over India and Asia and
    tastes different foods.

  18. I am sure you have not eaten this. This is Haldiram’s special Rajkachori

    This is the amazing recipe of
    the dish. When I first ate it at
    Haldiram’s, I was amazed. It was cruncy, sweet, sour, tangy. What is more it was something between a snack
    and a full meal. BTW, have you have
    eaten at the Haldiram’s restaurant??

  19. Anonymous9:34 PM

    A very interesting list. We have tried the karela stir fry dish today with chapathi and dahi and it was so yummy. especially having dahi as a side dish to it made a ton of difference. Who knew that bitter tasting veggie would turn out to be so good. I seriously think ppl should stop always trying to buy those so called exotic veggies like broccoli and zucchini and concentrate on the local produce. Back home we would never go near broccoli with a ten foot pole and here ppl are ready to shell insane amount of money. In fact I found a veggie which looks like tiny squash almost my thumb size and it tastes so good. I don't know the English name for it though.

    1. In fact, forget what I wrote below, India is the second largest broccoli producer in the world after China. And it has helped local farmers in certain areas get more independant financially :

  20. Broccoli belongs to the same family as cauliflower. And is actually grown in India, but markets bank on the fact it is a lesser known veggie that is not used commonly in Indian cuisine to sell it as a premium, and very few farmers grow it to because there isn't a lot of demand yet. I am all for variety on the plate, and broccoli has a season, India, they are usually far cheaper and tastier in the Winter months.
    I think the tiny squash thing you are referring to is the one known as Tinda in Hindi and coccinea in English.


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