Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Holi Greetings, and some chit chat...

I tried explaining Holi to my colleagues at work today- and all that came to mind was it is a Spring festival. But trust people to come up with interesting "observations"! I pulled up some pictures on the net, and a student asked- why is everyone wearing white? And why do you put on colors? The explanation I concocted on the spur of the moment- because white is the color of winter, and we're covering it with colors of Spring- sounded so right, even to my ears.....that I let them assume that this was age-old wisdom, rather than a fabric of my imagination :-)

This year, I've been pretty lazy. Haven't done anything to mark the day. But then, I was never a Holi person. It takes a special kind to love all the rowdiness and noise that accompanies Holi celebrations in India :-) The images that do crop to mind are ancient....

Monday, March 25, 2013

Daily Dinner (16): Comfort Food

The common complaint now-a-days is that I love Baby P more than her older sister. And all because (a) I never "yell" at Baby P and (b) I always give her what she wants to eat. What is lost in all this adolescent tantrum-throwing frenzy is that (a) all my yelling is mainly to make "someone" finish her meals and not sit with them in front of her, perplexed as to the purpose of the plate in front of her....and (b) all baby P wants is dahi, dal and roti - which is pretty much what I cook for an everyday dinner. I don't see where the complaints are coming from, just as much as the complainant doesn't see the reasons I have put forth in front of you today....

Anyways, in order to appease the 10-going on- 16 in my life, we've set aside Fridays to be the non-Indian food days. Doesn't work though- I still get accused a couple times during the week of favoring the younger one. This past week, hoping to set some things straight, we had Soup and Pasta dinner at least 3 times. Anya was happy, I sustained myself on soup all 3 nights, and Baby P got leftovers from the freezer.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Making Paneer at Home...a pictorial


I don't usually do this. It is so much more convenient to buy a block of Paneer from the store than actually make it. But sometimes, when I run out of choices and am craving for something specific (like today), and a trip to Indian store is not even a remote possibility, or if I need fresh crumbled Paneer for preparations like Paneer ki bhurji, I do this. I did explain making Paneer at home here, but here's a quick pictorial from today. 

Paneer

Put milk to heat .....

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Shakargandhi-ki-Chaat - Easy Peasy Lemon Sqeezy

Through winter and spring in Delhi, Shakargandhi was a common sight at vegetable vendors. Stacked right next to the potato piles, the two were barely distinguishable. My mom had 2 ways of cooking up this tuber- the first, bury them deep underneath the koyla and wood. in the angeethi (wood-burning stove) and not worry about it for a couple hours at least; gave the best, smoky, juicy shakargandhi ever, The second, teeny-bit less on flavor, but definitely faster was to use a heavy iron tava (griddle) on a very low flame. She never cut up the shakargandhi, and she never used oil. And I could never resist either version....
 
Here in USA, I tried to make Shakargandhi on a hot tava like my mom. Never got it. They got too mushy, the flesh stuck to their skin, and I got very little out of them. When my mom came to visit, she tried to make them as well, without success. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Khumb Matar

If you grew up in Northern India, you've probably heard kids refer to wild mushrooms as "Saamp ki Chatri" or a snake's umbrella. The local kiddie legend is that snakes seek refuge under these mushroom umbrellas during the rainy season, and leave their poisonous sting in them. No doubt aimed at keeping pesky little curious buggers from eating those wild mushrooms..... the fable totally instilled a gross dislike of mushrooms in me. Most of my childhood, I never saw mushrooms other than the ones that sprung up on the sidewalks during monsoons.  Yes they came up for sale in the high-end produce stores, but we never got them. My aversion for them was fanned by these old-wives "Jain" tales of how mushrooms harbor live bugs inside their fleshy "umbrellas". And if you ate them, you had to atone for taking millions of little lives :-)) Didn't help that when I came up to major in Botany in college, the first fact about mushrooms we learnt was that it is a "parasitic fungus" - instigating nightmares about flesh-eating, mold-like mushroom spreading it's roots inside my gut and choking my innards to death.......all in all, I hate mushrooms.