A new vegetarian cook book! – Diva Green by Ritu Dalmia


I have always loved Delhi-based Chef Ritu Dalmia for her ceaseless energy, cool ideas, cooking style and everything else in between. She is the owner and head of a restaurant called Diva in the capital, a book writer, a television anchor and one of the top-most chefs in this country. So when I heard that she had come up with a new cookbook, I couldn’t wait to get myself a copy. What made wanting the book even more desirable was the that fact that it was an ALL-VEGETARIAN COOKBOOK!

For those of you who don’t know, apart from writing for Alice on this website, I also have my own space called www.whenharrymetcelery.wordpress.com, where I yap about my vegetarian culinary experiments. This book is something that is totally up my street, giving me endless ideas to dabble with.

Unlike most cookbooks that are divided into cuisines or courses, Diva Green is categorised on the basis of ingredients. Chef Dalmia coolly separates various sections in her book into compartments such as potatoes, pumpkin, greens, fruits, dairies, tomato, etc and lists down recipes that use that particular ingredient in central space.

Though the recipes cut across many Indian and international cuisine, they are easy to make, require minimal planning and fit right into the schedule of a busy cook.

To give you a sneak peek, here is an excerpt from this book….

Sweet pumpkin fritters

Sweet Pumpkin Fritters

My friend John Jackson runs the Royal Malewane, the most amazing lodge in the Kruger National Park in South Africa. John is an accomplished chef and a very creative man and runs the place like a dream. When I was there a few years ago, I was putting on an average of a kilo per day, with two breakfasts – one before the safari and one on our return – lazy lunches and delicious, elaborate dinners. I must admit the main courses did not do for me what the side dishes or the accompaniments did. One of these, which I ordered extras of all the time, was the local pumpkin fritters, a bit savoury and a bit sweet. They were served as a side dish with the entrées, but I drizzled them with maple syrup and ate them as dessert. They are very easy to make and can be done with very few ingredients. Another example of the versatility of the amazing pumpkin in salty or sweet preparations! Waka Waka!


750g ripe pumpkin, peeled, seeds removed and cubed

100g refined flour

1tsp baking powder

A pinch of salt

A pinch of cinnamon powder

1 tbsp sugar

2 eggs

Vegetable oil for frying

A splash of maple syrup (optional)

Icing sugar (optional)


Boil the pumpkin for 25 to 30 minutes, drain it and process it in a blender till it is a smooth purée.

In a clean bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and sugar.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs well and combine with the pumpkin purée. Add the dry ingredients to this and mix well.

Heat a non-stick pan with enough oil to shallow fry. Once the oil is smoking, drop spoonfuls of batter into the hot oil and fry in batches till brown on both sides.

Remove with a slotted spoon and drain the excess oil on paper towels.

Serve with a dusting of icing sugar and, if you want, a drizzle of maple syrup.

Indian cooking in French cookware

Cooking with cast iron is a new ball game altogether. In an Indian kitchen, one seldom finds this hefty cookware item because not many traditional dishes are made using it. But if you think about it, the material can work wonders, especially if used cooking certain authentic Indian techniques. Dum pukht or slow-oven cooking are good examples since the heavy lid often traps in all the moisture and the resultant dish is a juicy treat.

Cooking this way is especially beneficial while cooking dishes such as meats, biryanis, Indian gravies and daals where you want to slow-cook the preparation in order to let the flavours flourish well.

Our latest kitchen-love is a cast iron casserole by French cookware brand Le Creuset. The lusty red tub of goodness is apt for everything from sautéing regular veggies, stir frying, bubbling sauces to even baking cakes. Since it heats up fast, retains temperature and looks so good, it can be used to serve too. What’s more is that using cast-iron pans in place of nonstick pans helps  avoid the harmful chemicals found in the latter and comes with a life time garuntee. 

Red Dish Main rg flat
Mushroom and puffed tofu red salan in our brand new casserole

We first used our casserole to make a fused salan (urdu word for gravy) to be relished with bread or chappati. Since we wanted to give this traditional dish a gourmet lift, we threw in a few button mushrooms and bits of puffed tofu cubes (also going it a protein punch).

Mushroom and puffed tofu red salon

Ingredients: 1 cup button mushrooms (halved), 1 cup tofu puffs, ½ cup vegetable oil, 250 gm onions (thinly sliced), 200 gm curd, 1 tsp cumin seeds,  1 tbsp coriander seed powder, 1 tsp black pepper powder, 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste, few cloves, 3 green cardamoms, 1 stick cinnamon, red chilli powder as per taste, ¼ tsp turmeric powder, salt to taste, ½ tsp garam masala powder, pinch of ground mace and nutmeg, 2 tsp oregano leaves (finely chopped)

Method: In a wok, heat oil and fry the onions until brown and crispy. Remove from fire and blend it into a smooth puree. Add whisked curd and cumin powder to it and mix well. In a pan, heat oil and add ginger-garlic paste and all the spices. Sauté for a few minutes and add coriander seed powder, red chilli powder, turmeric powder and salt to it and mix well. Add in the curd and onion paste and allow the gravy to bubble for a few minutes. Add water if the salan seems to thick. Add mushroom and tofu puffs to it and sprinkle garam masala and mace and nutmeg powder on top. Garnish with oregano leaves and serve hot.

 Tips for working with cast iron

  • Wash your utensils by hand using warm water and a sponge or stiff brush.
  • To remove grease, scrub it with salt and water. Stubborn food residue may also be loosened by boiling water in the cast iron vessel.
  • Always thoroughly towel-dry your cast iron utensils before packing them up.
  • Store them in dry place.
  • Cast iron is naturally non-stick, but with every use, it tends to lose it’s non-stick quality. To bring it out again, grease it with vegetable oil before use.

Apart from the casserole, we are also lusting  after other goodies from Le Creuset.  Here is a peek. 

Tagine and bean pot
Availability in Mumbai: All Indigo Deli
Availability in Delhi: Sham Di Hatti, 1A  Khan Market, New Delhi: 110003
Also contact: info@lecreuset.org


Introducing Celery

Alice wanders with Celery
Alice wanders with Celery

You know you’re doing something right when a friend reads your blog, comments, encourages and even guest posts for you. You already know Celery but a formal introduction is in order as she partners with me on Alice Wandering… and we take this blog to the moon and you with us. 😀

Sonal Ved
Sonal Ved

Sonal Ved is a camera-shy writer, food critic, vegetarian baker and a blogger at When Harry Met Celery.  After a stint at a popular Mumbai-based tabloid, she is now consulting for bakeries. Buying exotic cheeses in the name of research, taming her kitchen garden, collecting cookie cutters and lunching during ‘work’ hours are her hobbies.

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Spa lunch at Koh | Girly day out

As promised to each other and you lovely readers, Sonal (of whenharrymetcelery) and I have been catching up for lunches and snacks, gossiping, laughing and reviewing the newest menus in town. Koh by Ian Kittichai at the Intercontinental, Marine Drive has introduced set lunches and we had to honour our long standing invitation to try them out. So we did and we’re filling you in.

Spa Lunch at Koh by Ian Kittichai
Spa Lunch at Koh by Ian Kittichai

The chef is a dear friend of Sonal’s and we relied completely on his recommendations. He suggested we taste the appetizers he sends for us and then choose from one of the set lunches. I opted for the spa lunch while Sonal opted for the classic. Of course, we didn’t forget desserts. 😛

Food tasting : Koh by Ian Kittichai

Sonal rates the experience 3/5. Here’s what she has to say:

Lemon Grass Cooler
Lemon Grass Cooler

Lemon grass cooler
There is no better way to take revenge from this scorching heat than with a glass of this lemon grass cooler. Hinted with ample lemon grass, this mildly-frizzy nectar is served as a pre-meal drink to stir the appetite for courses to come. Continue reading Spa lunch at Koh | Girly day out

Soup with orange sorbet and tasteful panna cotta | 36 Oak & Barley

It’s been a while I’ve eaten out. The new adherence to a healthy diet is to blame. But you know I love food and trying out new places. Monday night I wandered to 36 Oak & Barley with Sonal Ved for a bloggers’ dinner. Presenting an account in her voice:

Cheese and crackers | Photo: uwyo.edu
Cheese and crackers | Photo: uwyo.edu

Alice and I, match like cheese and cracker. While she is bursting with knowledge on fashion and all-things-girly; cooking and all-things-food are my forte. After a food riot at Le Pain Quotidien last year, Alice vowed to do more fun posts with me. Blog posts that involved lots of catching up, cake and calories. Back then, I didn’t have a blog of my own, so we never really got down to business. But three months ago, I started whenharrymetcelery and we saw this as a good opportunity to go get together once again. Here is the first of the many to come.

Restaurant review: 36 Oak and Barley

It would be technically incorrect to start a food review with the last course first. But even after 12 hours of savouring your last bit of cloud-like panna cotta, if you are hazy-eyed, all is fair.

Continue reading Soup with orange sorbet and tasteful panna cotta | 36 Oak & Barley