Friday, October 30, 2009

Autumn, Fall and I

SEASON of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;

Friday, October 23, 2009

Thali ka Baingan....

I don't remember the incident clearly; but just the sight of baby eggplants is enough to remind me of one chilly, but bright and sunny, Delhi afternoon ages ago. I must been all of 4 or 5 yrs. old. I remember my mom and "4B wali auntiji" sitting on our balcony, gossiping over Mooli drenched in lemon juice and chaat masala. And they were giggling about something. Aunty had also brought along some baby eggplants that she was going to prep for the evening, and my mom had her knitting handy. Then auntiji said something about "baingan", and they both broke into fresh guffaws, enough to make me look up from whatever I was doing. And then aunty let her baingan roll in the thali, point towards me and repeat her remark about "Thali ka baingan".

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Dal for Dessert anyone? Moong Dal Halwa

A study in contrast applies perfectly to this famous dessert. My dad used to call Moong daal a poor man's feast. According to him, it was the most abundant produce in the state of Haryana in Northern India while he was growing up, and hence the cheapest. And yet, it is used to make the most coveted sweet of that region. The recipe is simplicity personified, and yet so hard to master! I could never understand why my mom only made it on birthdays and Diwali, seeing that it only used 3 basic ingredients. Now, I do. This has got to be the most tedious, time consuming and fattening dessert ever! Don't get me wrong- I still love eating it. It is just that, making it is so....tedious (did I mention that before?)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Diwali is in the Air

The festival frenzy finally caught up with us. We enrolled Anya in language and culture class this year. So, the first weekend this month she came all abuzz with stories of Diwali that her teacher told her. She had a zillion questions, which I had to google to provide the answers! And the excitement caught on. We accepted a flurry of Diwali get-together invitations from friends just so A could get a feel of the festival this time. One of the invitations we went to came from her culture class teacher. For this pooja gathering, we had to bring a Diwali crafts activity, some Diyas and a traditional Diwali dish from our part of India. So, A and I sat together and made this simple rangoli with crafts sand. I drew it for her and she glued the sand down. A bit tacky, but not bad for the first attempt by a 7 yr old, huh! I was going to send this to the Kids delight Event, but am too late now. Wish I could have done this post a day earlier...sigh! Anyhow, we had the rangoli and diya, and then I had to think of a dish to take to the potluck. And as always, I was running late at work. The quickest dish I could think of was Kheer. In our household, makhane (lotus seeds) are thought to bring prosperity and are key ingredients in the kheer made during Diwali. So that's what I made.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Green Bean!

Love it or hate it. I grew up hating it. To me, it tasted horrendous, I hated the smell of hing that my mom always used for cooking beans, and it made me blow air at both ends!! But all my hee-hawing had no effect, and I'd have to eat up my beans just like everything else. My happiest dream those days was to grow up and move away from my mom, so I'd never have to eat beans again (beans were just a part of huge list, but more on that later...). And when I did grow up and move away, I avoided beans like dead cat.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Soulful Soups

My friend sent out a mass email last week to brainstorm kids school lunch ideas. Two weeks into the school year, and she was exhausted- or so she said. I've been packing food-to-go for my daughter ever since she was born and considered myself an expert on this. So I made a lengthy list for my friend and sighed with the satisfaction at the job well done as I hit my "Send" button. Two minutes later, another friend on the mailing list emailed me a one-liner tagged with hundreds of smileys: "You forgot Campbell's Alphabet Soup!" That was true, sad but true. How could I forget that most kids love the Alphabet soup? My daughter actually learned her alphabets from those tiny pasta letters! Thanks for putting me in my place, my friend- I no longer consider myself an expert on kids school lunches! In my defense, the soup is usually my after-school thing , for those cool fall evenings. It is so easy to make, that you'll give Campbells a competition if you try it! Plus you can dress up this same basic recipe and end up with yummy minestrone, for those "I'm not really hungry for food" days. Enjoy the soup's warm comfort on those nippy evenings with these three easy recipes.