I am excited to announce that The Cook's Cottage has now moved to a new home with an all-new design. It is still a work in progress, but I look forward to bringing you new recipes and insights over the coming months. If you had bookmarked this page (thecookscottage.typepad.com), please change it to the new URL, www.thecookscottage.com. I will be taking my old Typepad website down shortly.

Onward and Upward!! TheCook'sCottage has moved...

I am excited to announce that The Cook's Cottage has now moved to a new home with an all-new design. It is still a work in progress, but I look forward to bringing you new recipes and insights over the coming months, and introducing a few new recipes from my soon to be published cookbook, "The Classic Konkan Cookbook".

If you had bookmarked this page (thecookscottage.typepad.com), please change it to the new URL, www.thecookscottage.com. I will be taking this version of the website down within the next few weeks.

Click here to carry on to my shiny new website!

Making Paneer at home

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A thousand moons ago or more I wrote a post about making Paneer /Cottage cheese at home.




The basic method remains the same, but I now own a nice little digital food thermometer. And that makes all the difference! These are now available everywhere in Pune and I am so thrilled with mine. It comes with a holder, like a pen, which keep it clean and safe from damage. Its read out is in both Fahrenheit and Centigrade .

I also use a nice fabric "Multipurpose bag" made by Sandhya Chirputkar (sandhya.chirputkar (at) gmail.com) to drain and wash the curds. Paneer bag


2 litres milk .You can use full cream milk or pasteurized and homogenised double toned milk .If using raw milk, bring it to the boil and then cool down to 120 F.

100 ml white vinegar or the juice of two lemons


1.Heat the milk to 120 degrees F. Check the exact temperature with the thermometer. 

2.Slowly pour in the vinegar while stirring the milk gently. Keep stirring for 2 minutes while the milk separates and forms the curds.

3.Cover and let stand for half an hour.

4. Pour the curds into the fabric bag and drain the whey  or pour through a muslin lined strainer. Reserve the whey for use in chapathi and pastry dough.

5. Squeeze the extra whey out of the curds. Gather the edges of the muslin together or bag and wash the curds in running water. This gets rid of the extra vinegar or lime juice .Squeeze again and let the curds drain for half an hour in the strainer or in a  5 inch paneer maker.The more water drained out leads to a firmer curd which can then be cut into cubes. 

6. Two litres of milk will produce about 350 gms of paneer. 

7. The  only difference in using full cream milk is that the texture of the paneer is creamier. 

8. If you use the paneer raw in salads or on bread you can add a tablespoon of cream to the curds at the end. Add a pinch of salt for taste.




Gingerbread loaf with apple sauce

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During the dreary days of monsoon one feels like tucking into hearty and warming food. And there is nothing like adrak to heat up ones waterlogged and flagging spirits . Put small chunks of ginger in chai and boil away till the tannins from the tea leaves make the spoon stand upright in the cup .

And then cut yourself a thick slice of this delicious moist bread made with Soonth ( ginger powder ) and Kakvi ( sugar cane treacle ).


225 gms of chopped tart, greenish apples/ About 2 apples

1 tbs water

2 tbs ground sugar


85 gms butter

60 gms light brown sugar

2 tbs Kakvi.(sugar cane treacle)

1 egg


225 gms maida ( white flour)

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp dalchini (cinnamon powder)

1 tsp soonth ( dried ginger powder)


Heat your OTG or oven till 180 degrees.

  1. Cover and boil the apples with the sugar and water till soft. Mash well and set aside till cool .
  2.  Melt the butter with the Kakvii and brown sugar. Cool a little and add the egg and whisk till mixed.
  3. Add the cooled apple mash and stir.
  4.  Mix all the dry ingredients, the flour, baking powder, ginger and cinnamon.
  5. Mix the dry ingredients into the butter and apple mixture. Stir till smooth.
  6. Spoon into greased loaf /tube tin. 7. Cook in 180 degree oven for 40-45 minutes. Check by inserting a fork into the loaf. it should come out clean. Remove and cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning out.
  7. You can sift some caster sugar on top or make a ginger icing sugar to prettify the bread. I just like to eat it plain.
  8. Certainly brightens up a rainy day!!

Peshawar to Pune- Chef Altamash Iqbal

Weekends in Pune can be a social whirl . With a bewildering choice of events to attend, from book readings to jazz concerts, presentations on the craft of stained glass, art show openings accompanied by the requisite wine and cheese, and one is hard put to decide which occasion to go to, since most of these are free and open to all.  

Many events now are built around the still relatively new interest in food. Farmers markets with nary a farmer to be seen, Organic Fairs with a lot of additives , restaurants hosting flea markets  and such like are the order of the day. 

Several of these events are held in five star hotels as they have large spaces but now  malls have jumped into the fray of events to attract more visitors to their stores.

Nitesh HUB, till recently known as Koregaon Park Mall , had organised a  chef interaction on their premises recently with Altamash Iqbal, the chef behind Riwaz, a restaurant at the Ritz Carlton in Bangalore. showcasing  the cuisine of  the North West Frontier, a new, rather dashing term for what basically remains tandoori and dum pukht.

Chef Altamash chose to demonstrate two dishes , strangely enough vegetarian, from a region known for the predominance of mutton , dairy and lentils in their cuisine. I mean its Baluchistan, Peshawar and Malakand!

Nevertheless he spoke to an interested audience. On show were a Mushroom Galouti with Porcini and Morel Soil, and a Stuffed Potato with Kadhai spices and Curried Yogurt.

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What was interesting about the galouti was the morel soil,  which was made with toasted almond flakes served along with a porcini espuma made of pureed porcini. The mushroom cutlet was made of ground field mushrooms cooked with onions, ginger garlic , cashewnuts and some spices. It was smooth and very kebab like and the porcini foam and shimeji mushrooms added a rather special flavour. Beautifully plated, with edible flowers and a smidgen of mango sauce, it was a pleasure to eat and we could all have done with seconds.

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The stuffed potato was a scooped out potato leaving a shell. While the chef had pre cooked the potato shells to save time, they are to be deep fried till golden. He then made a tasty mix of cottage cheese, crushed almonds. ginger peas and chillies , sauteed and lightly mashed and filled into the shells. This was then marinated in yogurt and powdered spices and baked for a few minutes. The yogurt was tempered with kadhai spice , made of coriander, cumin, cloves, cardamom and cinnamon. Again the plating was interesting, the stuffed potatoes sliced into perfect rounds and served with the tempered spiced yogurt and a sprinkling of micro greens which were delicious ... this one being from sprouted green gram.

Chef Altamash, a personable young man with an obvious relish for creating new dishes,  fielded  questions from the audience while cooking and even shared a few interesting tips with us.  He said most people  today use foil instead of a pastry to seal the dish for dum pukht  and the trick to making an unforgettable Dal (Bukhara/Makhani/ Kala / Maa) call it what you will, is to add some rajmha  and channa dal to bind the dal plus an amount of cream and butter equal to the weight of lentils used ! 

My afternoon was well spent , having picked up some valuable tips for my home cooking from a true professional and an introduction to several ingredients new to me. Not to mention the delicious food  !! 

Khaansaab- Right Royal Cuisine in Pune

It is difficult to stand out in the restaurant scene in Pune today. New places open every week and the Puneites taste buds are spoilt for choice. 

New on the block in Magarpatta, at the popular Season's mall, is Khaansaab, a restaurant that bills itself as the frontrunner in the cuisine of the northwest frontier.They are a franchise of the well known flagship restaurant of the same name in Hyderabad. 

Located on the first floor of the mall the space  is large, with a lounge area  for cocktails and starters for those who do not want to tarry and a fairly expansive dining area. The tables are well set out and the arrangement gives a feeling of room to spare.There is a private dining area with a long table for those who wish to host their own parties as well,

In keeping with the "Royal " theme the settings are glitzy with chrome plated chargers and goblets in gold and silver. I am not sure how 'Royal' ties up with Northwest frontier as the latter is known for the ruggedness and harshness of its terrain and there is nothing to suggest those qualities in the decor. A couple of kitchy paintings of warriors on horseback and crossed swords  is the one bow in that direction but this contrasts painfully with the rest-  a large chandelier and carved chairs with velvet upholstery. The red curtains draped along the front windows are not in the best taste either.

We begin with a couple of mocktails as Khansaab have not received their liquor license as yet. This situation will not last long as they expect to open their bar soon with a complete range of drinks but if you are keen on a drink with your dinner  it might be  good idea to check before booking.

The Coco mocktail is cool if a little oily. Coconut milk mixed with soda would have been nice if the soda was more fizzy. Their Apple Pineapple ka Panna is much better. A fresh tasting drink of roasted apple and pineapple with a hint of cumin and kala namak , it goes well with the appetisers that followed.

First off -give the Paya Shorba a miss . Made with lamb trotters it is very salty and, with bits of grease and gristle floating around, is most unappetising. 

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From their huge selection of starters the Malai Paneer Tikka is outstanding. Creamy, melt in the mouth paneer with a filling of cashew nut paste, finished in a clay pot, I could  make a meal of just this. The taste of the Roti pe Paneer ki Boti is also excellent- morsels of paneer in a mint chutney with freshly chopped onion rings served on delightful small puffy rotis. However it was served cold and this was disappointing.  Another interesting vegetarian appetiser is the Tandoor Bharwan Khumb, with spinach stuffed barbecued mushroom with a sprinkling of cheese. Forget the Corn Cheese Kurkure. a nice idea with a tasty filling, it fails completely because of  the pastry which is tough and not at all crisp as it should be.  

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From the selection of Non vegetarian appetisers go for the Murgh Malai Chandi Kabab. Superb with its generous lather of butter and a smoky flavour from the char grill. I don't  much care for the Sarsone Mahi Kabab as I am not a fan of Basa fish which has no texture at all and is always a bit slimy on the tongue. How much better a surmai or pomfret would be ! Gosht ke Gappe is another nice idea which does not work out. The poories/ gappe are not crisp, in fact  they were quite soggy, and the mutton slivers topped with sev seemed quite alien to the whole.

From the choice in the Main course we like the Baingan Bharta with olives and the Bideshi Sabzi Desi Masala  though it is  a bit run of the mill in its tomato gravy. This gravy finds its way into many other dishes which are fine when eaten individually but might be an overload of sameness if ordered together.

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Choose the Dal KhaanSaab, a kala dal with a difference . It goes beautifully with the Shahi Malai Paratha. I always say that the quality of a restaurant can be gauged by the dal on offer and, in this instance, Khaansaab does itself proud.

Again the main course sea food choice,  Kadai Jhinga Amritsari, isn't great. While I like the fact that the jumbo prawns are not floating in a sea of red gravy there is no particular Amritsari taste about it and the crushed coriander seeds are a bit overwhelming combined with the other spices. Highly recommended on the other hand is the Rajwada Raj Ghosht, excellent tender pieces of lamb with a strong flavour of smoked cloves. Delicious !

From the desserts we try the Khubani Ka Meetha, which seems hurriedly prepared and not a pleaser, and the Flambeed Gulab Jamuns which are too large, stodgy, with a thick skin and a brandy which does not soak in, making it very inedible.

Our dinner is memorable for the excellent quality of the ingredients , from the vegetables to the meat and poultry. Each dish is presented well . The service is good and we were not short of attention.

All in all this is food to remember and  we think Khaansaab will be a winner especially as all the dishes are priced most reasonably. We plan to return soon for the promised "bater", (quail) and another helping of the Malai Paneer !


Address: First Floor East Wing, Seasons Mall

Magarpatta, Pune

Meal for 2- Rs 1500 without drinks