Food Special: Instagram's veggie queen

Sep 16, 2015, 08:19 IST | Krutika Behrawala

Mumbai-based food blogger Charvi Shah's Instagram account, Cooking In Progress is all about dishing out artfully presented, home-cooked vegetarian delicacies. Tuck in!

  Take a peek into the Instagram account, Cooking In Progress, and you can't help but feel some #instalove. Presenting a smorgasbord of recipes, from the modest Sabudana Khichdi and Badam Ka Sheera to spicy Goan Bhutta Curry, Turkish Mango and Goat Cheese Gozleme, Stuffed Shell Pasta in Two Cheese Bechamel Sauce and even Honey Mushroom Bruschetta, each dish is presented so elegantly that it could easily pass off as fancy restaurant fare. However, all the dishes posted on the account are home-cooked. Plus, they're vegetarian. The brain behind this two-year old account is 28-year-old city-based businesswoman and food blogger Charvi Shah, who now boasts of 903 followers.



A photo posted by Charvi Shah (@cookinginprogress) onJul 23, 2015 at 10:07pm PDT

Shah's affair with cooking began while living in the US as a student, where she would come back to her apartment and try out new recipes for her roomies. Post marriage too, her love for cooking continued and that led her to start this account. She informs, “The idea behind Cooking in Progress is to highlight the fact that vegetarian cuisine can be as diverse, eclectic and glamorous as its non-vegetarian counterpart.” Going beyond simple cottage cheese creations, Shah has also tried out Potato and Asparagus Pancakes, Grilled Button Mushrooms stuffed with kalamata olives, cheddar and parsley as well as Vegan French Toast with Nutella and Strawberries.

Veggie Stuffed Peppers served on a bed of caramelised Mexican rice.

Ask about the reason for presenting her dishes so beautifully and pat comes the reply, “I believe in this notion, you eat with your eyes first.” Most dishes presented on the account are her creations, and even those inspired from the Internet have been tweaked into healthier versions. For instance, she wraps her Chipotle-style Burritos in homemade tortillas. “The tortilla recipe is what I have learnt from my Mexican friends back in the US, but I try to make it healthier by using whole wheat flour in place of refined flour. I also go online and try to learn new techniques from celebrated chefs in the industry,” says Shah, adding that she has learnt to make Biryani from her mother, but can't beat her at ity. “I enjoy cooking Italian food and Mexican would come close second. Baking the perfect chocolate cake (an eggless one) is hard to nail each time. An ounce of an ingredient varies, and it shows on your cake,” she confesses.

Food blogger Charvi Shah
Food blogger Charvi Shah

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Charvi's recipe for Poutine, Veggie Stuffed Peppers and quick-fix breakfast option

Charvi's recipe of Poutine

For the Cheese sauce:
Boiled milk reduced to ¾ or 1 cup
2 tablespoons of butter, softened
1.5 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
1.25 cups of Cheddar cheese, grated (Preferably the yellow one)
0.5 tablespoons of Cayenne Pepper
Salt to taste
For the Fries:
3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into desirable shape
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 teaspoon of corn starch
Oil for frying
Other optional toppings:
1. Salsa
2. Guacamole
3. Sour Cream
4. Scallions, chopped

For the fries:
>> Soak the cut potato pieces in chilled water for 5 minutes to get rid of starch. Remove and drain on a paper towel.
>>  In a separate bowl, take some more chilled water and mix in the sugar and corn starch. Soak the fries again and chill in a refrigerator for 10 minutes. Remove and drain on a paper towel again.
>> In a frying pan, heat enough oil for frying. Once the oil is extremely hot, fry the potato pieces for about 2 minutes. By this time, the potato will be softened, but the will not have acquired any colour.
>> Remove from the oil and drain on a paper towel. Let them cool and reach room temperature.
>> Fry the fries again for about 7-8 minutes till they acquire a beautiful golden colour.
>> Remove and strain on a paper towel.
The above process ensures that the fries are soft and moist from the inside and crispy on the outside.

For the cheese sauce:
>> In a sauce pan, melt the butter on medium heat.
>> Add the all-purpose flour and stir continuously to make the rue.
>> Add the boiled milk and whisk continuously on high heat.
>> Add the cayenne pepper and blend.
>> Stir for 3-4 minutes on high.
>> Add the cheese and blend continuously till the cheese melts.
>> Taste and adjust salt.
Your cheese sauce is ready
For the Plating:
>> Plate the fries when they are hot.
>> Pour over the cheese sauce.
>> Pour the rest of the optional sauces as per your taste.
>> Garnish with scallions and serve.

Charvi's Recipe for Veggie Stuffed Peppers
Ingredients for the sauce base:
5 tomatoes (large, boiled, peeled and pureed)
100 gms tomato puree (Homemade or Dabur)
2 onions (Medium, pureed)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
3 tablespoons of Chilly sauce
1 tablespoon of sugar
Salt to taste

Ingredients for Stuffed Peppers:
5 large coloured peppers (Chop off an inch from top, de-seed so that they are absolutely clean from inside, also slice a tiny bit from the bottom of each pepper so that the peppers can stand)
3 tablespoons of olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 small tomatoes, finely chopped
2 small onions, finely chopped
½ cup brown rice, boiled
1 cup, Cheddar cheese, grated
8-10 black olives, chopped into ringlets
8-10 jalapenos, chopped
¼ cup of black beans, boiled and semi mashed
¼ cup of red kidney beans, boiled and semi mashed
100 gms of readymade tomato puree
Basil leaves, finely chopped into slivers
2 teaspoons of cumin powder
Pepper powder
Salt to taste

Method for the sauce:
>> Heat the olive oil in the medium saucepan. Add the pureed onions and saute for a minute.
>> Now add the pureed tomatoes to the pan and mix. Stir the mixture over medium-high heat, till the rawness of the tomatoes disappears.
>> Add the readymade tomato puree and chilly sauce and stir for about 2 minutes.
>> Add the salt and sugar.
>> Stir for about 2 minutes more. Switch off heat.
Your sauce base is ready.

Method for Stuffing:
>> Heat olive oil in a large saucepan, add garlic and saute.
>> Once the garlic starts sizzling, add the chopped onions and stir fry.
>> Once the onions turn translucent, add the tomatoes and tomato puree and saute for about a minute.
>> Now add the cooked rice, 3/4 cups of cheese, olives, jalapenos, black beans, red kidney beans, salt, cumin powder and a pinch of pepper powder and mix well for about 2 minutes over low flame.
>> Switch off heat and mix in the basil leaves.
>>  Stuff the peppers generously with the mix and keep aside.

Cooking method:
>> Pour the sauce in a greased baking dish.
>> Arrange the stuffed peppers.
>> Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake in a pre- heated oven for 45 minutes over 180 degrees Celsius.
>> After 45 minutes, remove the foil cover and garnish the pepper tops with the remaining cheese. Bake for another 15 minutes, uncovered.

TIPS: You can add more veggies like mushrooms and zucchini to the stuffing. You can make some more of the sauce base and add the same to the stuffing mixture instead of the readymade tomato puree.

Baked Fruit Toast

Baked Fruit Toast

>> A loaf of multigrain bread, sliced into 1/2 inch thick slices
>> Seasonal fruits and dry fruits of your choice (I use apple, tangerine, pear, pomegranate and prunes) chopped into small pieces
>> Nutella
>> 2 tablespoons of honey
>> 1.5 teaspoons of lemon juice
>> 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder
>> A pinch of salt
>> Slivers of almonds and walnuts to garnish
>> Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius
>> Lightly toast the bread slices in a toaster. Keep aside.
>> Mix chopped fruits and dried fruits in a large mixing bowl. Toss well.
>> Add honey, lemon juice, cinnamon powder and salt. Mix well.
>> Gently place the fruit mix over each slice of lightly toasted bread.
>> Place the fruit toast on a lightly greased (you can use butter) baking tray and bake for 7-8 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius.
>> Remove from oven and let it cool for under a minute.
>> Add the Nutella spread over the fruit toast, as per taste. Garnish with slivers of almonds and walnuts and serve hot.

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