Have you tried Mira's mezze?

Updated: Dec 08, 2019, 09:14 IST | Anju Maskeri | Mumbai

A Juhu teenager's cookbook tells you how to create over 40 dishes using just four dips, while doing your bit for charity

Mira Shah with mother Tanvi at the book launch at Juhu's Soho House. The duo started curating the recipes three years ago. Pic/Sameer Markande
Mira Shah with mother Tanvi at the book launch at Juhu's Soho House. The duo started curating the recipes three years ago. Pic/Sameer Markande

It's Friday evening and Mira Shah, 17, has wrapped up a biology exam to make it in time for the launch of her book at Soho House Mumbai in Juhu. The class 11 student of Jamnabai Narsee School is a pro at juggling academics with her interests. Her new cookbook, The Millennial Kitchen: Easy Recipes For Millennials, co-authored with mother, Tanvi, is proof. Centred around batch cooking, the book contains 45 simple, nutritious recipes, all aimed at resolving the one question that most millennials return home with: What's for dinner?

"It's not just for millennials, though," clarifies Mira, who started curating the recipes three years ago. "It's also for first-time cooks wondering where to begin, working professionals strapped for time, and seasoned chefs looking for fresh inspiration." The book tells you how to make four organic dips from scratch and use them to whip up a variety of dishes including vegan quesadillas, Mediterranean rolls, pesto risotto, and chicken roulade. All proceeds from the book's sales will go to Akshay Patra Foundation.

The 130-pager holds recipes for occasions from party starters and cool platters to meals for one and two. There's also a section dedicated to Mira's weekly meal plan, a day-wise break-up of how the teen has balanced bingeing with healthy snacking. "It is a personal guide to how I made sure that every single meal I ate in a week was exciting and different, while bursting with flavour and nutrition. So, if I'm having a sliced avocado with Himalayan pink salt for breakfast, I balance it with a wholesome dinner of minced red pesto kebabs, steamed broccoli and creamy labneh dressing."

At the time of curation, Mira says, the idea wasn't to create a hardbound, but to experiment with recipes for amateur bake sales that she and her mother would conduct at their Juhu home. Most of the glorious, sun-lit food images in the book have been clicked in their balcony. "When we started, the idea was to feed people and channel the funds into a charitable cause," says Tanvi, a handbag designer and avid cook.

It all began in 2014, when the Shahs were on a holiday to London and saw a local gurudwara truck feeding the homeless. "My younger son Vir suggested we do something similar for the underprivileged in Mumbai," she says. On returning from Amritsar, Tanvi and Mira started Cook For A Cause —a home kitchen that donated 100 per cent of its profits. They made dips and oil-free pickles and sold it to friends and family. It wasn't long before they were inundated with orders.

"Whatever money we raised was donated to an orphanage in Mumbai. Later, when we wanted to go and see the children we had helped, but the authorities did not allow us. That left a bad impression because we weren't clear whether the funds were being utlised well," says Tanvi. Although the family wanted to go out on the streets and mass feed the homeless, they realised the laws didn't permit them to. "In India, an individual is not allowed to randomly step out and feed people, unless they are part of a temple trust or hospital." Meanwhile, Mira enrolled herself in a mentoring programme called The Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA) at The American School, BKC. "They advised me to put it all down in a book and sell it for a cause because how long could I sustain the bake sales. There was no chance that I could turn it into a production kitchen. A book would ensure longevity," says Mira.

Cream-free creamy pasta

150g green or red pesto
200ml milk
15ml olive oil
5g coarsely grated fresh garlic (optional)
250g cooked pasta
A pinch of coarsely ground black pepper
A pinch of oregano
A pinch of chilli flakes (optional)
Truffle oil (optional)
20g shredded Parmesan, Pecorino or Grana Padano cheese
Salt to taste

Cream-free creamy pasta

Whisk pesto in the milk and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a non-stick saucepan and sauté the garlic (if using) for 2 minutes on medium heat. Add the cooked pasta and stir so the oil coats the pasta. Now add the pesto milk, stirring continuously. The nuts and cheese in the pesto will transform the pasta into a creamy delight. Add black pepper, oregano, chilli flakes and check for salt. Loosen with a splash of milk if required.Drizzle the pasta with truffle oil (or your favourite oil) and top with grated cheese and chopped parsley. Serve hot.

Mediterranean roll

4 medium-sized tortillas (approx. 8.5" diameter)
25ml olive oil
50g zucchini, cut lengthwise
50g red cabbage, cut lengthwise
50g onion, sliced lengthwise
150g mixed coloured capsicum, cut lengthwise
200g hummus
Sriracha or hot sauce of choice (optional)
Salt to taste

Mediterranean roll

Roast the tortillas for 1-2 minutes on each side on a flat pan on medium heat. Set aside and keep warm. Add olive oil to a non-stick wok and add all the veggies except the
capsicum. Sauté for 3-4 minutes on medium heat and then add the peppers. Sauté for a further 3-4 minutes and set aside. Spread 50g hummus on one side of each cooked tortilla. Splash with the hot sauce and divide the veggies equally between the four tortillas. Roll and serve cold. If you prefer them hot, then brush the outside of the rolls with olive and heat through on a frying pan for 2-3 minutes on each side. TIP Sautéed onions with spinach and some parmesan go well as a filling in this roll.

The Millennial Kitchen is available for Rs 999 on www.amazon.in and across bookstores

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