Roasted pumpkin & garlic soup

I’ve been mildly obsessed with oven-roasting vegetables. In the last two weeks, I’ve made two huge batches of heirloom tomatoes (much to my family’s profound bliss), and now, this roasted pumpkin and garlic soup. I knew that the tomatoes would shrink in size upon roasting, but little did I know that all those 12 plump fruits would reduce down to yield just a small jam-jar sized amount! The taste is elevated 12-fold though, so it’s most definitely worth it. Quality over quantity.

My unbridled love for garlic is no secret. Here, it is roasted along with the pumpkin for extra flavour, and then the soft pulp inside is squished out with your fingers. Got to love some hands-on garlic action!

Velvety and smooth and loaded with all things good for you (I even left out the cream that the recipe called for), this soup effortlessly straddles the fence between comforting and complex all at once – that’s the killer combination, right?

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We all know that a good steak is a tried and tested classic that is simple to cook, as it is delicious to eat. For a slightly different take on it, I like to serve it with this gorgeous rosemary-garlic butter. Inspired by the French version of Steak frites – steak and fries – it is often served with some variation of herby butter generously dolloped over melting morsels of meat.

This meal feels so overly indulgent yet so quick to rustle up, that I feel like I have my steak-routine down pat  : I know exactly how long the steaks have to cook for, to attain my desired level of doneness and even how long it takes for the butter to soften, which mostly I have to admit is all quite a last-minute frenzy with me beating the hell out of it. Maybe I shouldn’t have started with how I had the routine down. But notwithstanding a bit of kitchen chaos, this dish still delivers every time. Total win.

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The best part about doing a roast is that the leftovers can be reincarnated into multiple ways through the week – shredded into salads, sandwiches, quesadillas (kudos, Nigella), the bones used to make the best chicken broth..the list is endless. I recently stumbled upon a recipe that uses leftover chicken in meltingly cheese-y nachos (why didn’t I think of that?!) One of these days, I might end up making a roast JUST for the rich pickings afterward.

Looking back at my other posts, I realize that I’m almost always rambling about garlic and orange zest. For the sake of continuity (cheeky, I know) here’s one more. You know how cinnamon is categorized as a “sweet” spice? Not in the sense that it can be used in desserts, but that it has an almost sweet-ish flavour when you cook with it in savoury dishes? Similarly, unlike the strong bite and pungency that you get from raw garlic, roasting it mellows the acrid burn without compromising on its flavour. The aroma of roasted garlic wafting through the whole house is just an added bonus.

Roast chicken is not something you’d come across often at restaurants in India even today; so you could say that it is somewhat of a fancy dish for us here. If you’re really lucky, a couple of good restaurants will flaunt them on their Christmas menu once a year. But back in the day, at a time when ovens and other fancy kitchen gadgetry were not available in the country, my grandmother apparently used to make a roast in a pressure cooker! Trussed, stuffed, the works. I remember her mentioning this to me a while ago, so I just called her to confirm the process before blogging about it – first she boiled the chicken in a pressure cooker, and then basted it in a pan to get colour on it. Genius! Things are way simpler now though, and all you require to serve up this magnificent bird is a handful of ingredients..and a lot of patience (still working on that). Now, in a country that’s very far from traditional roast chicken dinners, the legacy continues..
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