Hey! I'm Hetal and here are my adventures in with food. I'm a vegetarian girl and here are my perspectives on what the city has to offer with food and fun! (currently in NYC- but my heart is still in Philly- so the name shall stay)

New Blog- PrettyPolymath.com

Bagels!

There is nothing I love more than a crusty, chewy bagel- preferably sesame seed- with creamy,salty butter. Recently, I have been on a bagel binge- eating 1-2 bagels per day. Instead of having an intervention with myself- I decided to continue with my binge and see if I could create a garlic and sesame seed bagel. I love the combo of the salty garlic with nutty, sweet sesame seeds. You hardly ever find the combo so I decided I shall do it on my own! The recipe is on the low to medium side for ease but definitely a high on outcome. It is a two day recipe so make sure you plan ahead! 

Serves- 12 medium sized bagels      Cook time- Day 1= 3-4 hours   Day 2- 1 hour

For the Starter

2 1/2 cups of warm water

4 cups of unbleached bread fliur

1 tsp of instant yeast

For the dough

1/2 tsp instant yeast

3 3/4 cups unbleached bread flor

2 3/4 tsp salt

2 tsp brown sugar

Finishing

1 tbsp baking soda

semolina flour or cornmeal ( I used semolina)

toppings- sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dried minced onion or garlic, grated cheeses, kosher salt

Day 1

1. In a large bowl- stir the yeast and flour together. Add the water and stir until it gets nice and thick. It’ll create a thick- sticky batter. 

2. Cover the bowl with saran wrap and leave at room temperature for 2 hours. The starter will expand and get all bubbly. 

3. Add the additional yeast,salt and brown sugar to the bowl of starter and stir. 

4. Now add 3 cups of flour and mix in the flour into the starter- forming  stiff dough.

5. Add the additional 3/4 cups of flour and continue kneading. Knead for about 10 minutes or until the dough passes a windowpane test. You can find out to to do the windowpane test here. If it doesn’t pass the test- just continue kneading- work out your arms! I had to knead for almost 20-25 minutes to get to this point. I have awesome biceps :-)  The dough should be fully hydrated- if its flaky- just add a few drops of water and continue kneading. The final dough should be satiny soft.

6.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and spray them lightly with oil. Break the dough into 12 equal pieces and create little balls/rolls and place them on the lined baking sheets. Cover with a damp towel.- Let them rest for 20 minutes at room temperature. 

7. Next- using your fingers, poke a hole in the middle of each roll and stretch to 2-2.5 inches wide to get your pretty little bagel shape. Place each bagel back onto the lined baking sheet and spray lightly with oil once all the rolls have been hole-ified. Cover with saran wrap and let them rest for 20 minutes at room temperature. 

8. Now its time for the awesome float test. Fill a small saucepan 3/4 way up with water. Now place one of the bagels into the water- it should come up and float under 10 seconds. If the bagels doesn’t float under 10 seconds then take the tester bagel and pat it dry and return it to the saran wrap covered baking sheet. Let it rest for 10-20 more minutes and try again. Once the tester bagel floats - put the bagels into the refrigerator overnight. You can keep them in there for up to 2 days. 

Day 2


1. Pre heat your oven to 500 F. 

2. Boil large wide mouthed pot of water and add 1 tablespoon of baking soda.

3. Take the bagels out of the fridge and drop 1-3 bagels ( or however many can fit into your pot without overcrowding) into the boiling water. Boil for 1 minutes on each side-  I boiled them for 2 minutes on each side because I like my bagels chewy. 

4.On the baking sheets - add new parchment paper and lightly spray them with oil and sprinkle with semolina flour. This prevents the bagels from sticking. 

5. Use a slotted spoon and remove the bagels once they are done and lay them onto the floured baking sheet. At this moment add your toppings while the bagels are still wet. Continue with steps 3-5 until all the bagels are topped and ready to go. 

6. Place your oven racks in the middle two slots of your oven- place one baking sheet on each rack and bake for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes switch the two sheets and rotate 180 degrees. Now lower your oven temperature to 450 F. Bake for 5 minutes or until your bagels are the right golden color you want them to be.

7. Cool your bagels on a rack for 15-20 minutes before enjoying! 

Mexican Style Pizza!

Today I was craving some crusty pizza and my dad wanted Mexican, so I combined the two and made Mexican style pizza. My inspiration came from CPK’s tostada pizza. I used the same recipe for the pizza crust from my previous pizza post, just without adding the oregano. Enjoy!

Serves: 3-4 people    Cook Time - 1 hour

1/2 bell pepper chopped

1/2 medium size red onion chopped

3/4 cup of corn 

1 cup of shredded lettuce

sliced jalapenos - to your taste

1 can of pinto beans _ you ca nuse black or kidney instead as well

1 tablespoon of taco seasoning

Mexican cheese 

your choice of salsa

olive oil

1. Pre heat your oven to 430 F. 

2. Make your pizza crust from this post. 

3. Make your beans - Empty your can of beans into a sauce pan and using a potato masher…or your hands…smash the beans up. Now add the taco seasoning and mix well over low heat. After 2 minutes or take it off the heat and put  the beans aside. 

4. Start building the pizza- Spread the beans onto the pizza crust. Then sprinkle on half of each topping ;chopped bell pepper, corn, and onions. Now sprinkle on your Mexican blend of cheese- ad as much as or little as your want. I’m a big cheese fan so I went all in. Now add the other half of the toppings onto the pizza along with the slices of jalapeno. Brush olive oil onto the crust/edges of the pizza. 

5. Bake your pizza for 15-20 minutes or until the crust is nice and golden.

6. Sprinkle the shredded lettuce onto the pizza and drizzle your favorite salsa onto the pizza

7. Get fatty! :-)

Easy, quick, and hits the spot!

Chocolate Dipped Pistachio Cookies

For my baby cousin’s birthday I experimented a little with chewy cookies. These cookies are eggless and amazingly delicious. The nutty pistachios and the sweetness of the chocolate make this cookie one of best cookies I have ever made. 

Cook time- 1 hour     Makes- 3 dozen, 2 cookies/person = 18 people

2 sticks of butter- diced

1/2 cup of sugar

1 1/3 cup of brown sugar

2 teaspoons of vanilla

1/2 cup of applesauce

3 cups of flour

3/4 teaspoon of salt

1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda

3/4 cups of crushed pistachios

melted chocolate- about 4 oz 

Preheat oven at 350 degrees

1. Take the 2 sticks of butter and cream it, mixing very well. (dicing the butter helps it cream quickly- especially if the butter isn’t room temperature) I did this in a Kithen Aide mixer on low for about 3 minutes.

2. Add the white sugar to the butter and mix for 30 seconds. Add the brown sugar to the butter and mix for an additional 2 minutes. Make sure everything is well incorporated and creamed!

3. Add the applesauce and vanilla and mix for 1 minute.

4. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, and salt and mix with a spoon.

5. Slowly add the flour mixture 3 spoonfuls at a time while the mixer is on low. You don’t want a cloud of flour over everything so take it slow. Once all the flour is incorporated mix on medium high for 2 minutes. 

6. Roll the dough into small 1 inch balls and press down. Bake on parchment paper over a cookie sheet. It should take 10-12 minutes for a nice brown color. 

7. Let the cookie cool for 10 minutes. While the cookies cool- chop up the pistachios if you haven’t already done so.  

8. Melt the chocolate in the microwave- mixing every 15 seconds. I used almond bark- which has the same instructions as chocolate for melting.

9. Roll the edges of the cookies in the chocolate- using a spoon to wipe off excess…or your finger- whatever works best. Next roll the edges in crushed pistachios and set onto a foil covered plate. Once the plate is full- chuck it in the freezer for 1 minute to let the chocolate set. Repeat until all the cookies are covered. Enjoy!

More places to eat in Boston :-)

1. Quincy Market- Once again- I visited Quincy Market nearby Fanueil Hall. This time  I went for some chocolate cake from Carol Anns Bake Shop. Super rich, moist, chocolate-y cake made the cold day a little bit warmer. :-) 

2. Mike’s Pastry- Nestled in the Italian neighborhood, Mike’s Pastry is famous for their amazing cannoli. I am not a HUGE fan of cannoli because they make my mouth super dry. But I am always willing to give food a second chance, and I am glad I did. I ordered a caramel pecan cannoli- and it was AMAZING! I kept eating and eating- not wanting to stop and share with my boyfriend. Mike’s Pastry shop totally changed my mind about cannoli and whether you are a fan or not- definitely check them out!

3. In Salem, I went to the Ye Olde Pepper Candy Company, America’si oldest candy company. In there I bought Gibraltars- the first candy ever made in America. They have the consistency of after dinner mints- but the lemon flavor one is delicious. A little tough on the teeth- but delicious with just enough sweetness. 

Dabeli!

Dabeli!

Food of Trinidad!

I went on a trip to Trinidad this break and was able to try some authentic street food and fruits while I was there. A little background on Trinidad: 

-Trinidad is a diverse mixture of Indian, African, British, Portuguese, and Spanish cultures. This is shown in the food in that all the cuisines are somewhat mixed together. 

- There is a LARGE Indian community in Trinidad. This made me super excited to try new Indian style food. 

Trinidad was originally a large agricultural city, with crops like sugar cane,grapefruit, rice, cocoa and bananas. These plants also grow naturally in the rain forests as well. During our hikes we picked mangoes,cocoa pods and a fruit called Portugal off trees and ate them as snacks along our way. Portugal looks like a lime on the outside, but tastes like a fragrant orange/mangosteen mixed together. During our hike up to Mount Tamana we stumbled upon a nutmeg tree and smelled the spiciness of the seed. We also found cocoa trees and split upon a mature yellow cocoa pod. We sucked on the seeds and sucked the sweet and tart white pulp off the seeds. Rhut loved them so much he held onto the pod and ate them while we hiked up. 

We also tried their street food. On our way back from Paria Bay we stopped by Maracas Bay to try the famous Bake and Shark- well Bake and Cheese for us vegetarians.  Unfortunately I was so excited and hungry, I forgot to take a picture. :-( Basically its a pita-like bread filled with raw cabbage, cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, and an assortment of sauces you can pick. I added a sweet tamarind sauce, garlic sauce, and spicy hot pepper sauce to mine. It was AMAZING, I still think about it now and drool. I must find a way to make it here!

After our Mount Tamana hike, Emile took us to get traditional roti and a roti stall in St. James, the Edison Little India of Trinidad. The woman made the roti in front of us and filled it with a curried mashed potato mixture and a green pepper sauce. the aloo roti looks like a mini burrito but tastes oh so Indian. The roti is a mixture of rotlie and naan- soft and chewy.I ate one, while Rhut ate 1.75 - he kept eating until he couldn’t eat no more. 

Out last street food stop was after our Pitch Lake tour.We stopped at the South Oropouche junction to try the kachori, doubles, aloo pie, baigan, saheena, and Solo sodas. We were as gluttonous as anyone could get. The kachori was very different from the traditional kachori that I know of. Trinidad’s version of kachori is a hush puppy made of chicpea flour cut in half and filled with curried chickpea and various chutneys. The baigan was by far my favorite. Baigan is eggplant coated in chickpea flour and fried. I usually hate the texture of eggplant, but this was crispy and crunchy. Saheena reminded me of normal methi na bhajia- except instead of fenugreek leaves they use taro leaves (or dasheen as they call it). Once we were loaded with good food we left with our bellies protruding while we tried fighting off the itis as we drove back home. Rhut lost. 

All this food over the week cost us $15 US dollars for the both of us! Rhut and I were so surprised since most of the restaurants in Trinidad are SUPER expensive. We went to our hotel’s restaurant and were charged $304 TT Dollars (60 dollars) for just soup and pasta. The service was poor on top of that. I would suggest if you ever visit Trinidad, skip the restaurants and hit up the streets- it’s worth it. 

My new travel blog

Homemade “Ritz crackers”
I love simple recipes with simple ingredients. Crackers are that type of recipe. SUPER EASY and SUPER CHEAP. The crackers are sweet and salty and buttery and would be great with some chai or cheese. 
Cook time- 1 hour, Serves: creates 4 dozen crackers
1 cup of all purpose flour ( you can use whole wheat if you are trying to be super healthy)
3 tablespoons of cold butter- chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 tablespoon of sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/3 cup of water
1/4 teaspoon of salt
TOPPING:
1 1/2 tablespoon of butter
2 teaspoons of honey (optional)
2 teaspoons of salt ( plus or minus a few depending on your taste)

Preheat oven at 400 F
1. In a food processor- add flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and pulse once of twice to mix well
2. Add the butter and pulse a few times.
3. Add oil and pulse a few more times
3. Add water a little by little and pulse until a smooth dough ball forms
4. Roll out the dough as thin as you can - without it becoming translucent- and cut out your cracker shapes. I used a small baby cup to cut mine out, but you can use whatever you have handy. 
5. Place the cut out crackers on a lightly greased pan and bake until golden brown ( about 6-8 minutes)
6. While the crackers are baking- in a bowl add the butter, slat, and honey from the topping list and nuke it in the microwave for about 20 seconds. 
7. Once the crackers are done baking brush the melted butter mixture on the crackers and let them cool. 
Enjoy! They are delicious on their own or try them with various cheeses or teas. Plus its great for kids since there are no preservatives or unnecessary additives. 

Homemade “Ritz crackers”

I love simple recipes with simple ingredients. Crackers are that type of recipe. SUPER EASY and SUPER CHEAP. The crackers are sweet and salty and buttery and would be great with some chai or cheese. 

Cook time- 1 hour, Serves: creates 4 dozen crackers

1 cup of all purpose flour ( you can use whole wheat if you are trying to be super healthy)

3 tablespoons of cold butter- chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder

1/2 tablespoon of sugar

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/3 cup of water

1/4 teaspoon of salt

TOPPING:

1 1/2 tablespoon of butter

2 teaspoons of honey (optional)

2 teaspoons of salt ( plus or minus a few depending on your taste)

Preheat oven at 400 F

1. In a food processor- add flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and pulse once of twice to mix well

2. Add the butter and pulse a few times.

3. Add oil and pulse a few more times

3. Add water a little by little and pulse until a smooth dough ball forms

4. Roll out the dough as thin as you can - without it becoming translucent- and cut out your cracker shapes. I used a small baby cup to cut mine out, but you can use whatever you have handy. 

5. Place the cut out crackers on a lightly greased pan and bake until golden brown ( about 6-8 minutes)

6. While the crackers are baking- in a bowl add the butter, slat, and honey from the topping list and nuke it in the microwave for about 20 seconds. 

7. Once the crackers are done baking brush the melted butter mixture on the crackers and let them cool. 

Enjoy! They are delicious on their own or try them with various cheeses or teas. Plus its great for kids since there are no preservatives or unnecessary additives. 



Paruppu Urundai Kuzhambu
I love South Indian food, but I don’t havea clue as to how to cook some of my favorite dishes. Dhosa and idli sambhar are a few dishes that  known to be from South India, but are also famous for being notoriously hard to make at home. Today I decided to start small and found a recipe off Sharmis Passions website. As usual I found I had a few missing ingredients and substituted them with other items. Enjoy!
Cooking time: 1 1/2 hr ,Serves: 4-6 people
Urundai
Toor dal  - 1 cup
Channa dal (Kadala paruppu) - 1/2 cup
Onion - 2 tbspGinger paste - 1 tbsp
Garlic paste - 1 tbsp
Coconut grated(optional) - 3 tbsp
Dried red chillies - 4 (to remove some heat, remove a few seeds before hand if you want)
Fennel seeds - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste
Coconut Paste
Coconut - 1 cup
Big onion – 1 small chopped
Tomato – 1 small chopped
Sambhar/soup/Kuzhambu:
Oil - 4 tbsp
Fenugreek seeds - 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds - 2 tsp
Small Onion – chopped
Tomato - ½ small chopped
Curry leaves – 4-5 leaves
1 lime- squeeze
Small piece of jaggery (can be substituted with ½ tbsp of brown sugar)
Red chili powder- 2 tsp
Coriander powder- 2 tsp
Turmeric- 1 tsp
Salt to taste
1. Soak the toor dal and chana dal in warm water for 2-3 hours. 
2. In a food processor add all the ingredients under the urundai section.  Blend well.
3. Make small balls with the urundai mixture and set aside.
4. In a sauce pan heat the oil. Add the mustard seed and wait for them to crackle and pop. Next add the fenugreek seeds, onion, curry leaves and tomato. Let this cook for 3-4 minutes. 
5. Add 5 cups of water to the saucepan along with the turmeric, red chili powder, coriander powder, jaggery, lime juice and salt. Let this come to a boil.
6. Once the water start boiling drop the urundai balls into the water slowly. DO NOT STIR!!! it will fall apart and you will have mush. 
7. Let the balls cook in simmering/boiling mixture for 5-10 minutes, the balls will start floating to the top when they are done. 
8. At this point add the coconut paste to the saucepan and gently stir. Let it simmer until the the gravy gets thick. Cool and enjoy! 
 
 

Paruppu Urundai Kuzhambu

I love South Indian food, but I don’t havea clue as to how to cook some of my favorite dishes. Dhosa and idli sambhar are a few dishes that  known to be from South India, but are also famous for being notoriously hard to make at home. Today I decided to start small and found a recipe off Sharmis Passions website. As usual I found I had a few missing ingredients and substituted them with other items. Enjoy!

Cooking time: 1 1/2 hr ,Serves: 4-6 people

Urundai

Toor dal  - 1 cup

Channa dal (Kadala paruppu) - 1/2 cup

Onion - 2 tbsp
Ginger paste - 1 tbsp

Garlic paste - 1 tbsp

Coconut grated(optional) - 3 tbsp

Dried red chillies - 4 (to remove some heat, remove a few seeds before hand if you want)

Fennel seeds - 1 tsp

Salt - to taste

Coconut Paste

Coconut - 1 cup

Big onion – 1 small chopped

Tomato – 1 small chopped

Sambhar/soup/Kuzhambu:

Oil - 4 tbsp

Fenugreek seeds - 1/2 tsp

Mustard seeds - 2 tsp

Small Onion – chopped

Tomato - ½ small chopped

Curry leaves – 4-5 leaves

1 lime- squeeze

Small piece of jaggery (can be substituted with ½ tbsp of brown sugar)

Red chili powder- 2 tsp

Coriander powder- 2 tsp

Turmeric- 1 tsp

Salt to taste

1. Soak the toor dal and chana dal in warm water for 2-3 hours.

2. In a food processor add all the ingredients under the urundai section.  Blend well.

3. Make small balls with the urundai mixture and set aside.

4. In a sauce pan heat the oil. Add the mustard seed and wait for them to crackle and pop. Next add the fenugreek seeds, onion, curry leaves and tomato. Let this cook for 3-4 minutes. 

5. Add 5 cups of water to the saucepan along with the turmeric, red chili powder, coriander powder, jaggery, lime juice and salt. Let this come to a boil.

6. Once the water start boiling drop the urundai balls into the water slowly. DO NOT STIR!!! it will fall apart and you will have mush. 

7. Let the balls cook in simmering/boiling mixture for 5-10 minutes, the balls will start floating to the top when they are done. 

8. At this point add the coconut paste to the saucepan and gently stir. Let it simmer until the the gravy gets thick. Cool and enjoy!