Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tzatziki, Indian Style. Lauki-ka-Raita

The title isn't misleading at all. If, being of Indian origin,  you've ever liked Tzatziki; that's probably because your tastebuds are so very attuned to the dahi concoctions with various members of the Cucurbitaceae family. I've yet to find a fellow-Indian who said they didnt like Tzatziki. At the middle- eastern places that I eat at , my favorite game is to guess if their Tzatziki leans more towards tasting like our kheera-ka-raita; or lauki-ka-raita!

A raita basically refers to savory, spiced yogurt (dahi) in our culture. And if you add any fruit/vegetable to it, it becomes a raita.  A must at almost any meal, dahi becomes a raita at special occasions or for guests; sometimes even if we want a change of taste from plain old dahi.  Unlike here in the US, sweetened yogurt is not on menu on an everyday basis. I got dahi-cheeni (yogurt with sugar) as a kid only if I'd been exceptionally good some day. Or one spoonful when heading out for exams or interviews (sweetened yogurt is considered auspicious in most parts of Northern India, and believed to bring good luck).  Fruit-flavored yogurt was pretty much non-existent during my time in India, and till today, I haven't developed much of a liking for it. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Creamy Potato Salad with cottage Cheese


I saw two of my former colleagues some time ago. They were both standing by a food truck outside ordering huge portions of sinful-looking delicious food with enormous sides of fries- french fries for one and onion rings for the other.  All the while, were excitedly pointing out to each others mid sections whilst bursting into giggles every second.  They were so immersed with each other that they totally did not see me.  I slid away unnoticed, and made a mental note of which one was having a boy, and who would be holding a tiny, pink bundle soon. 

Seeing them by those food trucks also made me nostalgic. When I was pregnant with Anya, I developed a serious sweet tooth. Not only did I crave sweets, I craved only one sweet- 'boondi ke laddoo'. At that time, there were no real Indian stores around campus that sold sweets. Yes you could buy dal-atta-chawal, but that was pretty much it. Both my mom and MIL tried sending me ladoos from India with friends- but one guy forgot them at home; and the other had to surrender them at the Airport Immigration. All my unfulfilled craving came to me in the form of a 5 pound 1ounce bundle who'd eat nothing, except serious sugar.  My mom said that my baby was so tiny and so fussy because I didn't get those ladoos..

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Sooji ka Uttapam- veggie no-egg frittata

When I think signature dishes, the ones that instantly come to my mind are my MIL's recipes. Probably because these were the ones that I encountered as 'new' in my adult life, and got to associate with especially her.  One of the first of these that I tasted from her was a Holi special (but we'll leave that for later). The other one is her favorite snack recipe. I've known her to make this up at any of those times when you're feeling hungry for no apparent reason, and meal time is hours away.  She's also been known to substitute this for an early dinner sometimes.  As for me,  I can eat her 'Sooji-ka Uttapam' anytime, anywhere and in humongous quantities - that's how good it is.  Despite my liking for this, I hadn't really tried to make this my own. This was something that was predominantly "mummy' domain- I demonstrated by appreciation by eating it, but leave the actual making of it to her. Although to be truthful, I've tried it a couple of times...and then left it for the experts like her!