Thursday, April 28, 2011

Daily Dinner (6): A (almost) Jain Thali


Ending up with my "naani-centric" food on the table one night this week wasn't intentional. It just happened to be that I'd had to cook for lunch that morning, and I needed something that could be put together with minimal chopping and cook-time. So, I found a turai (ridge gourd) in my fridge. But I got greedy and tried to make up the quantity, so I'd have left-overs for dinner as well...and added the moong-ki-mangodi to it; ending up with my grandmother's quirky combination of turai-mangodi ki sabzi. However, driving back home from work, I realized that getting the kids to eat this sabzi for dinner would be an uphill battle, that I'd lose nevertheless; not to mention that I was craving something "soupy" for my sore throat. Which is how the "moong dal" idea evolved. It took A's observation for me to realize that our dinner that night was essentially free of all root vegetables and tomatoes to make it true to the "Jain" tradition- very similar to the dinners we'd eat at our naani's.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Brunch with Bread and Vegetable Rolls

Growing up, I looked forward to weekends not only because the school was closed, but also because our day started with skipping beakfast (that is, the regular milk and cereal) in favor of a special Sunday brunch. Plus, we could eat together in front of the TV- watching epics like Ramayan or Mahabharat, not to forget Star Trek, Superman, Mickey Mouse and Tom & Jerry. All together, we're talking at least 2h of unrestricted TV and food time every Sunday morning. I especially remember the years that Ramayan and Mahabharat were being aired. My mom would actually bring her cooking supplies- everything except the stove that is- into the TV room. And dad and I would help her with the prep work while watching our program. So she rolled the flour while we filled the pastries for samosa or stuffed pooris, or dad and I made cutlets while she prepped the herbs for chutney. Then she ran back to the kitchen and cooked everything up in the 15 min. commercial break, and we'd eat together when the episode resumed to air. Even after TV ceased its hold over us in our teenage age years, we kept up with the Sunday brunch tradition.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Food For Hungry Soul: Chane ka Nimona

A decade ago, my marriage to a UPite (Uttar Pradesh, a state east of Delhi), outside the chartered territory of the Haryana-Rajasthan-Delhi tristate area, caused quite a furore amongst the older generation of my family.
'They have nothing in common with us' was an oft-repeated refrain from my uncles and aunts. 'You'll have a lot to deal with culturally', they warned. 'They eat very different food- it will be an inconvenience for Guddo' - reminded my naani, very gently, but worried enough to slip out the much-hated (by me) childhood endearment. 'How dare you agree to let our only grand daughter go across the river', thundered my naana referring to the the River Ganges, a geographical and symbolic divide between two of the most fertile, similar and yet disimilar, states in India. My dad fretted and fumed about his decision for days but then decided that his daughter had been brought up liberally enough in the huge metropolitan melting pot of Delhi to be able to take a few cultural diversions in her stride.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Daily Dinner (5): Navratri Thali with Buckwheat Vegetable Pancakes


Day 2 of Navratri fasting, and I was already missing food...a lot. These 9 days of fasting eliminates all grains, legumes and a host of spices from our food, two-times a year. While I am pretty liberal when it comes to restricting my regular spices, I do make an effort to eliminate grains. Like all these past years, my initial promise to myself was that I'd only permit myself fruits during   Navratri - one; or maybe two, times a day. And just like always, this promise barely lasted the first day of fasting. A while ago I wrote about how fasting always seems to draw my mind's eye towards food. I actually proved this point yesterday when during the drive back home,every traffic light I crossed seemed to me a big plateful  of forbidden food- savory stuff, not the sweet-like-fruit food. The wheels in my mind whirred and started taking me to spots in my pantry and fridge that I'd vowed to forget about.  This wasn't going to work....and so my new resolution was to serve myself a full thali of Navratri food