[philiptellis] I love food, and I like writing about food. Follow me as I follow my nose, seeking out gastronomic delicacies wherever I find myself

Monday, April 18, 2011

Minestrone Soup

My mum would make minestrone soup for us when we were kids. This was back in India, so it was news to me when I found out that it's actually an Italian classic. It's traditionally a fall/winter soup, but with neither season showing up in India, it was more or less a year round evening soup. Searching online for recipes brought up many different ways of making it, with different ingredients. I got the gist of it, and decided to try my own. This is what I came up with:


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1½-2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp mixed herbs (I used sage, thyme and marjoram)
  • 3 medium sized potatoes cut into cubes
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1.5-2 cups kidney beans (Rajma beans in India), pre-boiled (I used prepared canned beans). Drain them.
  • 2 cups diced tomatoes (along with the juice)
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup shell pasta (uncooked)
  • 2 Tbsp baby spinach
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Salt to taste


  1. Heat the oil in a 3-4 quart (litre) pot
  2. Add the garlic and fry on medium-low for a minute
  3. Add the herbs and fry for about 20-30 seconds while stirring
  4. Add the carrots, potatoes and beans and fry for 1 minute
  5. Add the tomatoes and mix so that everything's coated with the liquid from the tomatoes
  6. Add the mushrooms and the vegetable stock and increase the heat to high until it just starts to boil
  7. Add salt and pepper (I grind the pepper directly into the mixture), and mix
  8. Add in the pasta and spinach, and reduce heat to medium. Cook uncovered until pasta is ready.
  9. Turn off the heat and serve sprinkled with parmesan cheese
We also got a large loaf of sunflower-honey bread which we lightly crisped in the oven at 300℉ for 3 minutes.

The soup came out well and serves 7-8 people as a meal in itself.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

The Waffle Special

At King's Circle/Maheshwari Udyan in Mumbai, is a little Softy shop known as Just Chill. Originally called 7-11, it was renamed after the Mumbai train bombings on July 11, 2006. This family run softy shop has been popular among local college students for decades, and the prices haven't changed much since I first visited about 14 years ago. They have a variety of special softies (see photo of menu), but the one that I always go back for is the Waffle Special.

Making the waffle specialThe Waffle Special is their largest speciality softy, and to make it requires a pilgrimage around the store. It requires ingredients from every corner, and a specific order to adding them. It's also the most expensive item on the menu, and at twice the price of their other specialty items it's a rare treat for a college student. The first time I tried it, I was hooked. Back in college a few of us would pool in cash to get one, and while it's easily affordable today, it still tastes much better when split with a friend.

Three flavours of softy, nuts, caramel, waffle chips, chocolate sprinkles and two types of chocolate sauce all filled into a huge waffle cone that's been sealed on the inside with chocolate sauce so it doesn't leak. It takes a while to get through, and it's very hard to eat without a spoon. Definitely on my must visit list when I'm in Mumbai. This is what it looks like when done:
Finished product
Just Chill is to the right of Café Mysore and on the Eastern Express highway.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Wheat Berry Salad

I've made this a few times using different styles and it's come out well on all occasions. The main ingredient of this salad is whole wheat grains and it's really healthy and tasty.


  • 2 cups wheat berries (also known as whole wheat grains)
  • 3 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Lemon juice to taste
  • 1/4 cup dried + sweetened cranberries
  • 1/4 cup dried apricots, chopped
  • 1/4 cup mixed raisins
  • 1/4 cup toasted and sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions


  1. Place wheat in water such that the water level is approximately 2 inches above the wheat. Soak for 8 hours. (You probably want to do this overnight)
  2. Drain completely and then cover with water again to approximately 2 inches over the wheat. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low.
  3. Allow to simmer for 1 hour.
  4. Drain completely.
  5. Toss in oil
  6. Add in vinegar
  7. Add in cranberries, apricots, raisins and almonds and toss
  8. Add salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste
  9. Just before serving add in green onions.
  10. Serve warm or at room temperature


We tried a few variations that came out nicely. First, you could use olive oil instead of sesame oil, but you might need more than 3 tablespoons. If using Olive Oil, Balsamic Vinegar tends to go better than Rice Wine Vinegar. You could use other kinds of nuts as well. We tried Pecans and Pine Nuts.

Once the wheat is cooked, preparation is quick. You can cook the wheat a day in advance and refrigerate, then heat it in the microwave or on the stove just before adding other ingredients.