Rushina Munshaw-Ghildiyal is one of the most popular personalities in the Mumbai foodie world. The lady who is one of the first foodies in India to write an Indian food blog (her blog is called A Perfect Bite), also runs APB Cook Studio: a place where food connoisseurs across Mumbai learn cooking and baking. She is also a gastronomy writer, food stylist and a food consultant. Recently, she was seen on TV with David Rocco in Dolce India.
Albert Einstein once said, “If you can’t explain simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” As I was reading her cookbook, I drew a lot of culinary inspiration from Rushina’s wonderful treasure trove. In her book A Pinch of This, A Handful of That, the simplicity of choicest family dishes is what drew me to try several of her recipes in the past few weeks. The book is a collection of those recipes which Rushina has collected over a period of time. Some are her own recipes and some are the tried-and-tested recipes from her family members, friends, neighbours and acquaintances. While these enticing recipes are straightforward, these show Rushina’s innovation with ordinary ingredients. I loved the idea of Papad Nachos in one of her recipes. Her signature Congee recipe made with poha (beaten rice) does sound delicious, as do other recipes in her cookbook!
A Pinch of This, A Handful of That is a collection of recipes which generally don’t need hunting for ingredients. The moment I started reading the book autographed by Rushina, I was immersed into the book. In the book, she has explained about each recipe and how those recipes are linked with her life. I loved reading the food memories at the beginning of each recipe. Even the name of each recipe has a story behind it. For instance, the Mayo Mutton Curry does not have mayo in it, but the name came from the fact that Rushina graduated from the Mayo College in Ajmer. Nairobi Butter Tava Prawns has a story associated with the author’s father, and whenever the author travelled to Nairobi with her father, this dish was cooked there by the poolside, on slow fire.
Rushina’s recipes prominently reflect Gujrati cooking. Traditional recipes, such as Undhiyu, Handvo, Aam papad, Khandvi, Dhokla, Mohanthal and Chundo are there in the book. At the same time, recipes like Spaghetti in spinach sauce, Carrot cake, South African bunny chow, quesadillas and Pomegranate chocolate mousse (with the recipe for homemade pomegranate molasses) are there to try. And hey, a section of the book is just devoted to different kinds of teas!
The food photographs are a pleasure to watch in this book, although few recipes are accompanied with photographs. We tried a few recipes from the book: Ukram’s ambadi dal, Osaman and the Chundo. We were satisfied with all the three recipes. With Rushina’s permission, I am sharing her awesome Chundo recipe here, which I made recently. I wager, Rushina’s cookbook has a carefully and tastefully chosen recipe collection, and her family favorites are a must-try.
- Firm Rajapuri raw mangoes: 3
- Sugar: 1½ times the volume of the mangoes
- Salt: ½ cup
- Turmeric powder: 1 tbsp
- Red chilli powder: 2 tbsp
- Cumin seeds crushed coarsely: 1 tbsp
- Wash the mangoes and dry thoroughly. Peel and grate them. Measure out the quantity of mango in cups.
- Measure out 1½ times the same volume of sugar and set aside.
- Mix the mangoes with the salt and turmeric powder and set aside for about 30 min.
- Take handfuls of the grated mango and squeeze gently to remove the excess water. Transfer the squeezed mango to a clean stainless steel thali or tray.
- Add the measured sugar and mix well.
- Tie a piece of muslin cloth over the thali or tray and place in the sun.
- Allow to bask in the sun for 8–21 days. This means that it goes out every morning (after a stir) and comes in every night. As Rushina suggests, you will know your pickle is done when the sugar has melted into a syrup and has a 1½–2 string consistency.
- Stir-in the chilli powder and the crushed cumin seeds. Always take care not to touch a wet spoon to the pickle.
- Add the chilli powder and crushed cumin seeds while still hot.