There’s more to cabbage

I always used to end up thinking a dish to two that I could do with cabbage. But, not anymore. Thanks to my neighbour aunt in Surat, Vinod aunty, who is an ardent lover of street food. She introduced me to this amazing grill recipe and I must say, it’s the best thing she could tell me. She is elder than my mom, and we still connect so well. All because of our love for food.

I also end up doing the same bread recipes, and finishing that packet of bread can become a task for sure. But when my fridge has cabbage, I know I’m good. Over to this Surati style cabbage grill recipe that calls for a handful of ingredients only, and tastes delicious. Keep those letters in capital though.

Recipe: Cabbage grill (perfect for that 4PM hunger strike at home)


Finely chop some cabbage. The quantity depends on how many grill sandwiches you want to make; I take half a cabbage for three people). Finely chop a green chilli. You can take one more if you want to keep the heat meter high. Chop half a capsicum. Now, take a wok, add in a tbsp of oil. Dump the chopped veggies into it. Add salt and a good pinch of black pepper (I like to go overboard with this ingredient though). Let the mixture soak the water. We need to half cook the cabbage here. Once done, take it off.

Now, take two slices of bread. Apply some coriander chutney (coriander leaves, ginger, salt, juice of half a lemon, green chillies and cumin seeds) on both the sides. Add in the filling that we just made. Add some cheese if you want to. Now grill this sandwich and serve it with some tomato sauce.

I would love to hear from you, so let me know how you like the taste of this recipe! Ciao!

PS. This dish always reminds me of Surat, and how a good bread toast with green chutney can make for an excellent snack. My nostalgia with the city I grew up in never ends, no? Anyway. Make this at home and you will taste a slice of Surat’s food scene, too. All right, enough.

A December in Surat


I hate flying; particularly, taking flights from Delhi to Surat. But, because of the recent reduced air fares or inflated train ticket prices, I take the former option more often. I was going for a month-long trip (November-December) to Surat, my parents’ place from Gurugram (where I live with my husband).

After my 7AM flight landed, I was already hungry. Of course, I had better things to eat here than the breakfast served on the flight. You see, I’ve gone on my dad. We share a lot of habits. One of them is, being impatient, when hungry; and to eat whatever you actually want to eat, without shame or guilt. For example, if I have to eat a particular dish that none of the family members want to eat, I will still go ahead, cook it and eat it. I have to; there’s no other option.

And just when my parents came to pick me up at the airport on a beautiful Sunday morning, I wanted to eat Tameta Bhajia (tomato fritters). I had to eat it. Dumas is the near the beach area, from where you can catch a sight of the Arabian Sea from far. And near the beach entrance (which is a rather muddy place), at the crossroads, is the Bhajia shop, where 4 to 6 people at a single stall, sell these mouth-watering fried items.

You get Aaloo Bhajia (potato pakoras or fritters), Tameta Bhajia and I believe, Onion Bhajia; out of which, I love Tameta Bhajia! You know, in this particular fritter version, you dip a slice of tomato with a layer of coriander chutney into a gram flour batter, and fry it till golden in colour. When you bite into the sizzling hot and crunchy Bhajia, you can actually taste the steamed tomato in it. The best part is, you don’t even have to dip your Bhajia into a chutney, as it’s already stuffed inside.

My parents were not even surprised to see the long queue at this tiny food stall. “It’s Surat. Anything is possible! People love to eat! So what, if it’s 7.30AM in the morning? It’s the best way to start your Sunday morning, right?” I thought in my head. After about 25 minutes, my dad returned to the car with a pack of Bhajias. And I knew it was my day. I could see my soul return him a big smile! I and my friends have been coming to this spot since our school and college days and each bite of the Bhajia brought back so many memories and happy faces.

At home, we had preparations going on for my brother’s wedding. One such afternoon, around 12.30PM, I was out to get some craft material that my creative cousin asked for. I was at Sargam Shopping Centre, on my two-wheeler. After buying the craft item, I realised that it was the perfect time to hit the Khaman seller, whom I could view from across the street. He only comes and sets his food cart around 12.30, five to six times a week; and I was more than happy to see Kaka’s face, which brought back fond school memories. This junction was on our way, where we school girls used to take a halt after school, and snack on some soft and flavourful Khaman that was served with chopped onion, nylon sev and tempered green chillies.

I bought a huge pack for myself; but before that, Kaka gave me a handful of Khaman and asked me to have it, before my turn came. None of the people from the queue got it, and I couldn’t stop blushing. He did recognise me, I muttered. For many, this Khaman was their only lunch item.

You know, I sometimes wonder how these things taste the exact same even after decades. I mean, it’s been a decade or even two, us school girls coming here for Kaka’s Khaman. The taste of the Khaman till today is the same, just like Kaka’s innocent smile. Sound memories, these.

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Apart from the usual Vrindavan’s Cold Cocoa and Chana Jor Garam chaat (flattened black chick peas) that we get on the roads in the evenings, wintertime in Surat stands out because of a few special delicacies. Ponk (green ripe Jowar seeds) tops it all. I was buying a gift item for my brother and sister-in-law; and after about an hour of strolling from shop to shop, I knew what to go home with. After voicing my order loudly in the middle of the crowded stalls near Rangila Park, I bought a huge batch of steamed Ponk, some Ponk Vadas, smooth green chutney and a small batch of Lemon Sev to go with it all.

I haven’t seen Ponk anywhere in the country but Surat. They say cities like Baroda also have it; but mainly, it’s a Surati food item. A lot of my cousins buy it in bulk and take Ponk to their respective cities for their friends and families. Ponk is very nourishing for health, and the wintertime delicacy that is rejoiced and relished by all Suratis. The basic steamed Ponk is soft in texture, and extremely fresh in taste. And the hot Ponk Vadas have spices and condiments in them, which make it a perfect winter snack item that you can have in mornings or evenings. At social gatherings and parties, people don’t miss adding these Ponk dishes in their menus. It’s a must.

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What makes Surat a truly rich city is its food. Be it the poor, the middle-class or the rich, everybody in Surat likes to hit the street food vendors and eat their heart out. No wonder, the city’s food scene is famous. Those who haven’t been here, can only wonder what one attains by eating such delicious and historic food items on the streets, footpaths and in every nook of the city. We don’t crave for restaurants, in Surat! Never. I craved for some homemade Undhiyu, another Surati wintertime dish, but didn’t get a chance to have it.

Having lived in Surat for more than 23 years, I cannot even begin to tell you how much I miss the Surati street food. I left the city seven years ago. Which is why, I can say, it was a special December, indeed.

The little things in life

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In Surat, almost every snack stall, general store and even some of the chemists, sell packets of Thepla. When hunger strikes, Thepla is the ultimate go-to food item for us, especially when one is at office or is travelling. Packed with a small pouch of pickle, a Thepla pack makes for a complete meal. When I was studying in Bengaluru, I totally missed the snack items that are sold in every nook of Surat. That’s when I decided to learn Gujarati snack items including Theplas, as craving for them sucked.

So, there I was, attending one of Niru’s Cooking Classes. I was serious like hell. I had to learn Gujarati farsan items. If you’re living in Surat, you might not take the load of learning these snacks; but my experience changed that completely. The thought of making my own farsan excited me. From now on, I would be able to make them in my own kitchen, wherever I go, I thought. And, truly, it helps me even today. I live in Gurugram and no place sells Theplas. Mumbai still had it. Also, in North India, greens are available mostly in winters only. So, these days, I try to make the most of fenugreek leaves; given its good nutrient factor.

I remember my neighbour aunty’s daughter used to live in France once upon a time. She used to knead the dough with a lot of curd, and it lasted her for days together; her daughter could enjoy these even in France!

Initially, it took me a hell lot of time in preparing the dough. The ingredient list didn’t seem to end. With practice, however, I now know it by heart, and it takes me only a few minutes to add all of them at one go!


Garlic is the hero when it comes to Theplas. One of my brothers always wants the garlic flakes to be seen on his Theplas. You can, however, skip it if you’re a Jain. If you like crispy Theplas, have it fresh, right after you’ve cooked it. And, if you like your Theplas to be soft, make a pile of them, keep them in the Roti dabba (box) for half an hour or more, and they will turn soft. Also, you need to roll a Thepla into a very thin round sheet. That’s one of the secrets of making it well. You can’t be making it thick like a Paratha. Unless you don’t care of its resemblance to the original Thepla.

Today, my husband said he will have a long day at work. So I packed about six to eight Theplas extra for the evening.

If you are planning to hit the road, don’t forget this snack goodie. It’s not only delicious to eat, but is healthy as well. Also, if you have lots of guests staying over, and the breakfast menu is freaking you out, just prepare this dough and serve them hot and crispy Theplas. Make sure you have some mango pickle or curd to go with it, and you’re set.

Recipe: Thepla (the original fenugreek version)

According to Niranjana (my cooking teacher back in Surat), it’s best to knead the dough and make the Theplas right away. Don’t keep the dough aside; prepare it right when you will use it. No point in keeping the dough for long, as you might as well keep the Theplas on your kitchen counter for later.

Also, a lot of people in Gujarat and Maharashtra prefer sesame seeds to be added in their Theplas. I don’t see it in Niranjana’s recipe, and I would like to stick with it.

There are two secret ingredients that can be used to make your Theplas soft like clay dough that are mentioned here.

Lastly, if you like this recipe, secretly thank Niranjana Joshi for it, as the recipe is inspired by what she taught us. She’s my star! I still save the recipe booklet she gave me from the world, wrapped in a printed cotton bag somewhere in one of my bookracks. Holy stuff, this.


Wheat flour (around 4 to 5 cups)
fenugreek leaves (washed, dried and chopped)
salt to taste
sugar – 2 tbsp
chilli powder – at least 1 tsp
turmeric powder – ½ tsp
fresh curd – 2 to 4 tbsp (I use what I have in hand)
oil – 2 to 3 tbsp
a pinch of asafoetida
coriander leaves – chopped (optional)
rice and bajra flour – 2 tbsp each (I always forget to add these)
ginger garlic paste – at least 2 tsp 
green chilli paste – ½ tsp (optional)
oil to roast the Theplas on the griddle


1. Tawa griddle (I use a round cast iron one)
2. Wooden Roti press to press the Theplas while roasting (if you can manage without it, no need to buy it)
3. Rolling pin


1. Mix all the ingredients. If you’re planning to go on a long trip, add more curd. This will act as a preservative and will keep your Theplas fresh for long.
2. Roll out a thin Thepla, and roast it like a Roti with a little oil.
3. Serve with a cup of fresh curd or pickle.


On a cold January morning


I was craving for a typical Mahrashtrain street food while shopping at a complex in Gurgaon. It had just been a few months we moved in the city, and my husband was as clueless as me. We were happy to spot a Vada Pav outlet in one of the corners of the complex, which apparently is a popular food chain here in Delhi NCR. But. The first bite itself broke my heart. The sole reason I didn’t like that Vada Pav was that it had a frozen vada inside (I could sense that) that was reheated before serving.

Back in Surat, we used to go to a Vada Pav street seller near Experimental School. The guy at this street stall, dipped the potato balls in the thick gram batter, fried them in oil (in front of us) and served that inside a Pav (a bun). The freshly fried vada is the star of his dish. And here I was, looking at my Vada Pav at a popular Vada Pav chain in Gurgaon. Was I disappointed? You bet. That was the time I decided to learn to make it at home. Yes. Time can teach you a lot of things. Without questions, the homemade Vada Pav turned out heavenly and I promised myself I will never eat one outside in Gurgaon, again.

A few months back, I was in Surat, and one of my neighbours (Pooja Bhabhi) sent me a plate of homemade Dabelis. It is a Kutchi dish, which has the goodness of fried/roasted peanuts and lots of other sweet and sour flavours. I loved it! After coming back to Gurgaon, I checked out a YouTube video of how Dabelis are made. Guess whose video I ended up watching? Tarla Dalal’s! Dear readers, I love Tarla Dalal! Nobody in India can replace her charm. I have a few vintage copies of her cookbooks, and I treasure them like none other. I was extremely happy to see her teach me this street food.

Then, I ordered Galaji’s Dabeli masala from, and cooked it the way Tarla Dalal instructed in her video. Was it delicious? You bet.


So, today morning, as I was shivering in the kitchen (thanks to the cold) I thought of using the leftover buns and make this recipe again. The dash of red colour from the pomegranate seeds and the white colour from the grated coconut made my dish look way too appealing. Luckily, I also had some tamarind chutney. I had to pound some fresh raw garlic chutney, though. I and my husband were up for a treat!

By the way, we were craving  for a glass of homemade pomegranate and beetroot juice (with a few apple pieces and mint leaves). He chopped the fruits and grind them in a mixer, and I strained it in a muslin cloth. A minute later, we gulped down the fresh juice in utter silence. After a minute, we broke into a hearty laughter. Was it a blessed morning? You bet!