The earth turns yet again, the trees lose their leaves and then break out in a flurry of new leaves and flowers. Spring arrives and brings with it the fragrance of newness, of gulmohar and semal and pansies; of gulaal and dust and raw milk. And before you know it, Holi is around the corner and with it, colour returns to a still sombre earth.
And as the earth changes its covering, our tastes adjust accordingly. Gone are the warm, rich tastes of winter and the mouth craves something sweet, yet not overly so, something light yet rich, something crisp yet soft and something decadent yet traditional. Yes, we crave the sweet of the spring – Mawa Gujiya, shining with silver varq and sugar syrup, smelling to the heavens with saffron and elaichi.
Ammiji’s Kesar Gujiya is made at home, in our kitchen with the best ingredients we could find. It’s delicately sweet and stuffed with as much stuffing as we could manage. Of course it’s fried – there are some things that are sacrosanct and should not be messed with, in our opinion. There are almonds and pistachios and cashews and melon seeds; there’s also mace and nutmeg flavouring the inside. There’s silver foil and sugar syrup and sliced nuts and kesar strands adorning the outside. And inside and outside, it tastes of pure love.
Bite into one and you’ll feel the crispness of the coating juxtaposed with the melting interior. Bite into one and you’ll feel the richness of the mawa, the luxuriousness of the nuts and the exoticness of the spices. Bite into one and you’ll feel joy – the joy of spring, of renewal and of hope. Bite into one and you’ll feel what Ammiji’s love is all about.
Good for: 15 days. Refrigerate after receiving.
Ingredients: Mawa, Maida, Sugar, Desi Ghee, Pistachios, Almonds, Cashews, Melon seeds, Green Cardamom, Mace, Nutmeg, Saffron, Pure silver foil
Weight: Each box contains 10 pieces. Approximate weight is 500 gms.
India’s longest season is upon us, and before we know it, spring gardens will give way to parched lawns and leafy greens will give way to dusty, indeterminate hues. This is when you need something to cool you down and bolster you against the heat at the same time. This is when you need Ammiji’s Kesar Gulab Thandai.
Energy-giving nuts like almonds, pistachios and cashews; cooling seeds like melon and poppy; fragrant spices like pipli and nutmeg – all combined with unprocessed, organic raw sugar and spiked with crushed rose petals and saffron to give you a powder that will yield the most delightfully fragrant and nutritious drink you’ll have this summer. Each of the ingredients is carefully chosen to add to the nutritional value of the drink and for their cooling and rejuvenating benefits to the body.
Mix it into chilled milk for a post-workout pick-me-up or in warm milk for a bedtime drink. Add it to fruit smoothies or desserts for a super fragrant edge!
Ammiji loved serving her thandai straight from a Matka into clay kulhads…how will you have yours?
Ingredients: Raw cane sugar, Almonds, Pistachios, Cashews, Melon seeds, Poppy seeds, Rose petals, Saunf, Elaichi, Pipli, Black pepper, White pepper, Nutmeg, Saffron.
Weight: 175 gms
Store in a cool,dry place. You can refrigerate the thandai powder for longer shelf life.
Best before 6 months.
This one’s for our childhood – for all the slumbery afternoons we spent at the backbench in class, trying to wake ourselves up with sucking on imli pedas and spitting the seeds out, or licking up the spicy masala on top of the black aam papad to get our brains working again! This one’s for the queues we would form outside the school at the cart that sold these little morsels of excitement. This one’s for those innocent days when eating something sour would be like a mini adventure, and we’d gorge ourselves on these and feel like we’d accomplished something immense, while our overprotective mothers warned us of dire consequences in the background. This one’s for all the friends who would get bags of these to school and share the wickedness without hesitation.
Take a trip back to your childhood with Ammiji’s Khattey Bombs.
Ammiji’s Khattey Bombs are a curious mix of sour aam papad/sour mango fruit leather and imli/tamarind. Both the wickedness ingredients of our memories, combined beautifully to form little morsels of deliciousness.
We guarantee you, you will not be able to resist dipping into the pouch again and again. And again.
Please note: These candies are homemade and while we were experimenting with them, we discovered that wrapping them in butter paper, in which we wrap our other candies, dried them out. So we chose to individually wrap them in food-grade aluminum foil to preserve their freshness and texture.
Ingredients: Mango, Tamarind, Salt, Black Salt, Mango powder, Sugar
Weight: 175 gms (~15-16 pieces)
Best before: 2 months
Store in a cool, dry place.
Fresh, seasonal red chillies and lots and lots of garlic – there is just so much to love about this fiery chutney!
We all know about Ammiji’s penchant for spice. She abhors blandness in her meals (and in her life too!). While green chillies stay her perennial favorite, it’s the big, fat red chillies that come in during the winters that have her heart. They’re not only so beautifully vibrant to look at, but taste delicious too! So it was but natural that Ammiji would work up some magic in her kitchen from them!
This chutney is the perfect amalgation of red-hot spice from the chillies and the umami from garlic. While most people make their lal mirch chutneys from dried chillies, Ammiji preferred making hers with the fresh red chillies, and then she made sure that she made enough chutney to last her the entire year!
Ammiji’s Lal Mirch chutney goes well with dal-chawal or sabzi-roti. We love it slathered on to our paranthas for that spicy kick that will make you sweat even in the winters.
Ingredients: Red Chillies, Garlic, Salt, Mustard Oil, Mustard seeds, Vinegar.
Weight: 175 gms
Price: Rs 299 (inclusive of taxes)
Refrigerate after opening.
Good for: 6 months
India is a vast subcontinent, with a plethora of indigenous cuisines, each of them distinctly different. We, at Ammiji’s, aim to bring regional specialties to your table, after they’ve undergone Ammiji’s homemade treatment, and have been approved by the matriarch herself. Ammiji is a picky eater and at any mealtime that includes a dish that’s not familiar to her, you’ll hear her muttering about too much salt, or too less spice, or the oft-heard “We never had this when we were young!”. But she’ll persevere, in the interest of foodies everywhere. And then she’ll take that unfamiliar dish, turn it on its head, analyze it to within an inch of its life, and breath new life into it. That’s how we got a garlic bread that was topped with mashed potatoes after we tried to feed her a fancy meal. (That garlic bread is now a breakfast favorite incidentally!;))
Ammiji is partial to pickles and has spent a substantial portion of her time pickling everything under the sun – literally! Her family has been treated to pickled chicken drumsticks, pickled mustard greens, pickled yam and even a hybrid pickle-chutney that’s made of pure spice. So obviously, when it came her turn to pickle beans, carrots, turnips, lemons and green chilies all in one jar, she was predictably excited.
Any Andhra pickle uses chilies and other spices to create fiery magic in the mouth. And when ordinary vegetables like carrots and beans are given the Andhra treatment, they take on a new, special avatar that is addictive and fun. Each time you dig a spoon into this jar, you’ll come up with something special. The carrots are sweetish, the beans are still crisp, the lemon is tangy, the turnips have absorbed the flavors the most and the green chilies are bomb! There’s something for everyone in this one little jar!
This pickle uses groundnut oil as its base since it is neutral enough to let the spices shine through. No preservatives or additives have been used to make this pickle.
Ingredients: Carrots, French Beans, Turnips, Green Chilli, Lemon, Salt, Ginger, Garlic, Cumin, Mustard Seeds, Fenugreek, Groundnut Oil.
Note: Please refrigerate after opening. Good for 12 months if refrigerated.
Kashmir – chinar trees, undulating hills and meadows and the fragrance of saunth and hing. Kashmiri cuisine is about delicate flavours and minimal ingredients – and that is what we have tried to capture in this pickle.
The humble but exotic Kohlrabi or Gaanth Gobhi is presented to perfection in Kashmir’s Monji Haaq, and this pickle tries to replicate that. Kohlrabi is high in nutrition and low on calories – it is a powerhouse of antioxidants and Vitamin C and is often referred to as a superfood. It is available only during a short, limited season – so we decided to make the most of it!
This pickle goes especially well with rice and curries.
Ingredients: Kohlrabi, Garlic, Salt, Black Salt, Red Chilli, Ginger Powder, Mustard Seeds, Mustard Oil.
Good for 3 months.
Refrigerate after opening.
Weight: 200 gm
The monsoon is here. And as the earth goes from a scorching, dusty ochre to a wet, iridescent emerald, we feel the need for touching base with all that’s warm, nourishing and energizing. Because summers are cruel in the subcontinent, and the rains bring with it the promise of brief intervals of respite.
But the monsoon also brings with it its own host of problems – problems that we can forget about while the raindrops cool us down, but which stare us in the face when the sun shows up again. Minor colds, nagging coughs, infections and more dangerous diseases mushroom out with the first touch of rain.
What you need then is natural immunity. And Ammiji’s Monsoon Magic offers you just that. Derived from ancient Ayurvedic wisdom, this mix of natural ingredients is the perfect tonic for the monsoon. The main ingredient of this tisane is Giloy – that wonder plant that in Sanskrit is referred to as ‘Amrita’ – the root of immortality. Giloy is a creeper that often grows on neem trees and in the past few years it has gained acclaim for being a successful combatant to the effects of dengue and chikangunya. Dried stems of the Giloy plant are powdered at home and then mixed with other ingredients to give you a concoction that is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-ageing.
So, cuddle up near a window when it’s raining outside and pour yourself a cup of Monsoon Magic. Watch the magic of the rain while you feel the warmth of Ammiji spread inside. (P.S. A good book and great music are the best accompaniments for this set-up;))
Ingredients and their Benefits:
Giloy – Also known as Guduchi, Giloy provides a tremendous boost to your immune system. It contains various antioxidants that fight free radicals in the body and have anti-ageing properties. It has a soothing effect on both the respiratory system and the digestive system. Apart from this, Giloy also reduces stress and anxiety and has been shown to be an effective supplement in the treatment of both diabetes and arthritis.
Turmeric – Who hasn’t heard about the various benefits of good, ol’ haldi? Turmeric is now being touted as a superfood the world over, but we Indians have known of its miraculous properties for centuries. And that’s why turmeric is used in so extensively in our cooking and homemade remedies. It has magical medicinal properties and when combined with Giloy, will have a miraculous effect on your system.
Lemongrass – Lemongrass is probably what a little corner of heaven smells like. Apart from its soothing fragrance, lemongrass relieves anxiety and soothes the digestive system. It is also known to lower cholesterol and boost the production of red blood cells in the body. It is a powerful herb to fight minor infections.
Tulsi/Holy Basil – Tulsi is revered in India. It is one of the most magical herbs we have and is well known for its effectiveness in curing cold and cough. It also combats minor aches and pains. Again, it is anti-inflammatory and contains powerful anti-oxidants.
Ashwagandha – Ayurvedic tomes are full of praises for this wonder drug. It not only increases vitality, but also energizes your entire system. It is anti-cancer properties too.
Amla – Indian gooseberry, that powerhouse of Vitamin C, plays a vital role in boosting your immunity. It is also effective in aiding digestion and cools your digestive system down. Amla is also a well-known anti-ageing agent.
Apart from these main ingredients, Ammiji’s Monsoon Magic also contains Fennel, Black Pepper, Ginger, Green Cardamom, Cinnamon, Star Anise and Jaggery. Each of them play an important role in gearing your body up to deal with this fickle season’s vagaries.
How to Brew:
Add 1 heaped teaspoon to about 1 and a half cups of water. Put the pan to boil and let it boil till water has reduced to a little less than a cup. Strain and drink in the warmth. You can also add some raw honey if you like your tisane a little sweeter.
If you’re a Punjabi and you’ve delivered a child, you would remember being bombarded with highly nutritious foods that were supposed to provide you the perfect post-partum nutrition. And we’re sure Panjeeri was on top of that list. Ammiji’s way to make Panjeeri even MORE nutritious – she firmly believes she can do that to any dish! – was to make her Panjeeri with moong dal instead of atta or wheat flour.
This Panjeeri was pulled out of Ammiji’s cupboard and dished out to her grand children on any pretext. You have a cold? Have Panjeeri. It’s raining outside? Have Panjeeri. You’re going for a trip? Take Panjeeri with you. You’re in a bad mood? Eat some Panjeeri na! This Panjeeri was the mantra that was supposed to make everything better. And we grandchildren lapped it all up.
Ammiji’s Moong Dal Panjeeri is pure moong dal – no atta, no suji, no other grain. And of course, it has oodles of pure desi ghee and nuts and makhanas. The sugar used for this Panjeeri is raw and organic – we could have preferred using jaggery but Ammiji was insistent that the Panjeeri wouldn’t be crunchy without the sugar. As she said, “Cheeni vi khaani chahidi hai kadi kadi! Haddiyan bandi hain!”
Use it as your post-meal meetha or your daily spoon of goodness along with breakfast. And rest assured that what you’re consuming is pure protein-packed, gluten-free goodness.
Ingredients: Moong Dal, Raw Organic Sugar, Cashews, Almonds, Pistachios, Melon Seeds, Fox Nuts, desi Ghee.
Net Weight: 150 gm
Consume within one month of receiving the jar.
Picture yourself in a small cottage in the hills in the dead of winter. The fireplace is alit. Tiny snowflakes drift past the window. The sound of wind in the trees and the occasional crackling off a log is the only noise you hear. You’re all snuggled up in a throw on the couch in front of the fireplace, warming your toes at the fire and warming your hands with the glass of warm mulled wine in your hands. This is where you’ll take a sip and smile at the pervasive smell of spices and the sheer deliciousness of the moment. And this is the moment we’ve tried to capture in this jar of Ammiji’s Mulled Wine Jam
We took the best Cabarnet Sauvignon we could lay our hands on – Indian, because #vocalforlocal! – and simmered it down with fruits and spices, till it formed a thick, spreadable jam. And then we bottled it up and hid it from Ammiji. Oh, she won’t disapprove, but being a teetotaler all her life, it’ll take a lot of conversation to convince her that alcohol could be converted to jam – and she likes jams! So we’ll take this jar to her when we visit her and get her approval then!
This jam is perfect for your cheeseboard, or your snack platter. Use it with cheese on crackers or smear it on cold cuts. Glaze meat with it. Or simply spread it on crisp toast and have it for breakfast! (Wine for breakfast? The things we do!) And no, you won’t get drunk on this jam. Most of the alcohol evaporates while cooking, leaving behind the characteristically umami, earthy taste of red wine.
Ammiji’s Mulled Wine Jam is made with NO artificial pectin. Just fruits and spices. And of course, no preservatives at all!
This jar will transport you to a winter wonderland – where fireplaces are always lit and snow always falls gently. Where people bundled up in sweaters and scarves sip on warm, boozy drinks while smells of cloves and citrus emanate from the kitchen. Where smiles are easy and conversation smooth. Where vanilla and cinnamon are not just flavours, they’re feelings. (Imagine saying “I’m feeling a wee bit cinnamonny today!” – lovely, no?)
So go ahead and get your jar of winter warmth right now – and make us feel cinnamonny. 🙂
Ingredients: Red Wine (Cabarnet Sauvignon), Sugar, Apple, Orange, Raisins, Ginger, Cinnamon, Cloves, Nutmeg, Star Anise, Vanilla Extract.
Weight : 125 gm
Best Before 6 months
Refrigerate after opening