Showing posts with label Daily Dinner Series. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Daily Dinner Series. Show all posts

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Daily Dinner (20): Easy Weeknight Lasagna

Have you struggled with time getting away from you? Not wanting to compromise on home-cooked, comforting family meals on a weeknight, and not knowing how to? I do. I can whip up an regular Indian meal for my family of four in an hour or less. But when I hear “not dal-roti-sabzi” again, I draw a complete blank. That being said, I have gotten pretty adept at sneaking and quickly passing off a lot of my food in a newer non-Indian avatar. The girls lap it up. Take my weeknight quesadilla dinner or re-inventing our very own Paav Bhaaji as the vegetarian Sloppy Joes.  But as the girls get older, hoodwinking them is becoming more and more difficult.

Which is why I keep trying out new recipes. The winners always are the cheesy, non-spicy dishes across the board- which is probably why Italian is the food-of-choice for both my daughters. I still use a lot of jarred and boxed ingredients in coming up with a non-Indian meal…but lets just take one step at a time. Today’s story is about my journey in the world of vegetable (mostly spinach) lasagna.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Dinner for one- Waffle iron Quesadilla and guacamole

This has been another week of by-myself-dinners. This past Friday, we had an event at baby P.'s school. Came back pretty late, the kids tired and ready for bed; and me hungry, but with no motivation to cook just for myself.  

Scoured the fridge, and found some leftover boiled white peas (vatana), home-made 2-minute guacamole (that A should have finished before he left....), some Feta and hummus... and one tortilla.  That out, and my fridge was bare bones...So that is where my dinner came from. Mediterranean Quesadilla.




Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Daily Dinner (18): A classic Punjabi Meal & Sarson Ka Saag

To a Delhite, nothing could get more Punjabi than a meal of makki-ki-roti  and Sarson ka saag -  a green leafy staple that I managed to keep away from; most of my childhood. The only exception was this one time….for some vague reason, we went to my Naani's during the spring break. She lived in a town called Bhatinda at that time - in the heart of Punjab. As always, the whole mohalla descended to meet "Delhi to aayin kudi"…the daughter who came from Delhi. In a blink, we'd been invited to a "Sanjha Chulha" meal next day…..

Sanjha Chula- a beautiful Punjabi culture that I got to witness in the peaceful early 80's. The gali (street) that my naani lived on, was a dead end- and hence perfect for a permanent home to a communal clay oven. Once the decision was made, news spread like wildfire. What a Sanjha Chulha meant was that the whole community would meet at the oven for their evening meal. They brought with them some wood, to feed the fire. And wholesome food- to feed the soul….Most women came with prepared side dishes- typically maa-di-daal, daal makhani or sarson ka saag. And they brought with them prepared dough- all kinds- regular, missi roti, or more often than not- makki di roti. Come dusk; and the chulha was surrounded by big, hearty men on charpais; a cacophony of children running around and  of course; gossiping women that could mould rotis with their palms, stick them into the chulha and not miss a beat…That was my first time “feeling” a community. All rotis went into a central stock; and you pick whichever one you fancied. All the daal and saag were free-for-all; as was the stock of makhan (butter), ghee, gur and lassi (buttermilk).  Here, I couldn’t escape all the beeji’s that insisted on feeding me the makki-ki-roti and makhan drenched sarson-ka-saag to their newest puttar (child)……

Friday, May 17, 2013

Daily Dinner (17): Rajma Rasedaar

This then, is the prelude to last week's post. 

The only thing I loved more than rice growing  up, was Rajma...

The ongoing joke was that for me to get married, my maama (maternal uncles) will have to make sure that I had enough Rajma-chawal to last me my whole life. For no one in Rajasthan (in my naani's world) ate either rice or kidney beans....

My grandma (naani) had not seen Rajma (red kidney beans) till they shifted base to Bhatinda, Punjab.  And then, all the age-old inhibitions came to the front. She never learnt to cook or eat these beans. To her, the color, shape and meatiness of them was a big put off. To some extent she even refused to believe that red kidney beans were a plant product.....not so, though, for my mom's younger siblings. All four of them would scout the neighborhood Punjabi families, and make themselves available at whoever's table was serving Rajma

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, January 12, 2013

Daily Dinner (15): Rajasthani Thali

There were times when my mom categorically, adamantly, insisted that her children never inherited any form of "Rajasthani-ness" from her.  When she was really mad, she'd use her limited vocabulary of the Haryanvi dialect to announce that we were all born Haryanvis (there is that subtle underlying disdain in my soft-spoken, Rajasthani part of the family for my loud and boisterous paternal family.......). That is when dad would point out "pointedly" that she technically herself was a true-blood Haryanvi; and that her Rajasthani-ness was just an effect of her being transplanted there as a baby. And all of this drama, because we three criticized her most cherished meal of Rajasthani Baatis as...well...dirty....

But let me back track a little bit here.  So the way baatis were cooked in my grandma's home in Rajasthan was in a chulha - a little area on the kitchen floor outlined on 3 sides by a clay wall about 6 inches high. Naani used pieces of wood in here to create a cooking stove.  More often than not, the high temperature required for the first spark of flame to burst out of wood was achieved using uplay underneath the wood.  These little sun-dried cakes of sawdust and (please ignore the grossness that follows) cow dung smolder, rather than flame, and reach temperatures high enough to light up the kitchen fires for a long time.  And baatis were buried deep underneath inside the chulha to cook. You just brought them out, dusted them off, and ate them with the inevitable daal, churma and ladles of ghee.  Us city dwellers, instead,  turned our noses up at Naani and her "dirty" baatis, and opted for rotis instead.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Daily Dinner (14): Vegan Thali; Navratri special


The last day of Navratri fasting is today. Glad to have made it through one more time. These days are pretty easy as far as traditional fasting goes. You only give up grains and legumes for the 9 days; so there's a lot left outside of the diet to eat.  

I followed a one-meal a day diet, restricting my spices to sendha namak (rock salt), green chillies and cumin (can't think of cooking without jeera at all :-)). Also allowed myself 2 cups of chai or coffee a day- one for breakfast, and one to get over the 3o'clock sugar crash at work :-) And finally, I also permitted myself one or two fruits at around noon- some days were more hectic at work than others and even the colleagues could hear my stomach rumble ....

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Daily Dinner (13): A bowl full of warmth

There is a generous amount of nip in the air...and driving down to the temple this morning, I noticed the leaves have started turning color as well. Though expected, the morning chill has been somewhat hard to take. I feel like this summer went by too fast...

And then yesterday, when the girls brought home a pumpkin to carve, it definitely felt like winter (or autumn) was here to stay. I had come back from work, frozen to the bones...a couple of hours in a walk-in cold room trying to run an assortment of samples through will do that to anyone. So frozen, and craving the molten warmth of a nice, home made soup; this was our dinner last night.  A bowl of warm soup with breadsticks.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Daily Dinner (12): Simplicious Yakhni Lauki

When I was in bed sick last year,  friends around us took care of feeding me and my family for a very long time.  Although I was on restricted diet, A got a taste sampler from all over India.  After the first week of liquids only, when I could eat semi-solid foods, a friend called and told A that she was going to bring me some kadhi, and Yakhni in the evening.  

 "Yakhni? Why didn't you remind her we're vegetarians?" 

"She must know- mustn't she? We've met at so many socials and broadcasted this fact to everyone.
Do you even know what Yakhni is?"- A retorted.

" Of course I know what that is- Yakhni is a Kashmiri meat dish. They even make it during Shraadh ceremonies (ancestor worship ceremonies that are very strictly satvik in my place- which meat is definitely considered not). And even the Kashmiri pundits (priests) eat it. She's Kashmiri- maybe she thinks that if pundits eat it,  we'll eat it too. I don't think Kashmiris really get what we mean by being vegetarians"

"All right, don't fret it", A said. "When they come, we'll ask her again."

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Daily Dinner (11): Meal- for- one- Vegetable Pulao

A's been travelling a lot recently. Don't get me wrong- it's not that I miss him when he's gone or anything like that (we've been married too long for me to be missing him- like really missing him).....I'm just telling you that he's been gone a lot recently. Although he doesn't do anything to help me around the house (as if I hadn't told you that a zillion times already); when he's gone, my tasks get multiplied 10-fold (just can't figure that one out for the life of me).  With him away, I find myself over exhausted and more irritated than usual (which he'll tell you isn't possible- the irritable part, I mean). With him gone, I also lose my reason, and my motivation, to cook. When he leaves, we spend the first couple of days polishing off the leftovers. By the third day or so, my girls get to choose between Maggi noodles or takeout Pizza (which makes them jump with undisguised joy, and makes me wonder why I spend so much time in the kitchen at all....). If he still isn't back, the girls get to eat cookies-and ice-cream for dinner while I make myself another cup of chai and glare morosely at my dried out toast (which dried because it sat too long while I sorted out which of the two girls had a bigger scoop of ice-cream in her bowl).  Most times, that is when fate intervenes and A comes back home - after calling me from the airport to let me know that he didn't get to eat lunch either (I'm not making this up- he always says that...) - and I thankfully gather my pots and pans and plan a menu in my head again.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Daily Dinner (10):Another Fasting Thali; and 3 recipes in one!

It's that time of the year again. 

Six months ago, on this very space, I'd ranted about how fasting during Navratris makes me fixated about food. Now, you're going to hear some more of the same :-)). And before you judge me, I don't fast out of coercion. I do believe in all that Navratris stand for. Plus I also feel like, in terms of science, these twice-yearly fasts are a good cleansing for your system. Religion and science put together are a very forceful impact on my mind. 

But then again; this entire universe conspires against me when I'm fasting. How else would you explain that the morning of my first day of fast; my eyes get drawn to a box of gol -gappas that A had bought ages ago? And why did these gol-gappas chose this morning to make my mouth drool? As if this wasn't all that bad, a colleague at work brought in munchkins at 9am; another one brought in some absolutely yum looking chocolate chip cookie bars at 11am and the noon seminar had an array of delicious sandwiches. At the seminar, they never have enough vegetarian options to choose from; but yesterday.....someone was trying real hard to tempt me - is all I can say! That's my rant of the day....

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Daily Dinner (9): A Festive Thali: and Chana Masala my way.

Back in North India, you'll often hear the saying that the month of saawan, along with cooling Monsoons, also ushers in the festive season. Almost every week from now on till summer, we see an array of festivities, and an alternating pattern of Fasting and Feasting. As a child, I waited anxiously for the first rains - looking forward just as much to an uninhibited soaking in those much-awaited showers as to the other fun things - Mehendi on my hands, fragrant mogra in the hair, a home-made swing in the doorway leading out on to our terrace and tons of goodies from my mom's kitchen. Everything came alive  during the rains; and I loved the smell of summer-baked earth and new grass. Then came those vendors with baskets on their bicycles selling all sorts of seasonal delicacies- phalsa, jamun, fire-roasted bhutta with tons of lemon and masala and sand-popped popcorn.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Daily Dinner (8): Rajasthani Missi Roti (Plus a repost)

If I had to pick out anything absolutely essential, stand alone compnent to a North Indian meal, I'd point to the roti (chapati) or the unleavened tortilla-like flatbread. This may sometimes be the only ingredient in a thali; and yet enough for sustenance.
And I'm not talking only about those who can't afford to pay for food. Growing up, I had a cousin who'd only eat his roti with ghee-boora (powdered sugar mixed with butter). My treat at my naani's home used to be roti rolled around a thick spread of fresh malai (milk cream) sprinkled with sugar. My mom loved to coat her rotis with ghee- mirch (red pepper powder mixed with clarified butter) with a raw onion on the side. And on hot summer days, I remember coming home from school and sitting down for a lunch of Rajasthani Missi Roti with a glass of chilled Matha (spiced butermilk). This roti was the informal, no-frills attached at-home thali.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Daily Dinner (7): An Indi-Mexi Thali and a Quiz

Today's post is a lost-and-found affair. I took this picture and uploaded it, but it got lost amidst the cluttered desktop. Then I found the pic again, wrote a writeup, and thought I'd saved and posted it. Recently, while cleaning  up my laptop, I came across the picture again. Before deleting, thought I'd check back to confirm that I COULD  delete it...and realized that this post was nowhere on my blog. Keeping my fingers crossed,  hoping that  today I'll finally push the "PUBLISH"  button after this write up is done and not lose it for the third time.

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.

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

Friday, March 25, 2011

Daily Dinner (4) : Palak aur Khubani ka Kofta

The last few days went by in a blur. If I didn't have all the leftovers from the past weekend's Holi get together, we'd have eaten out all week. Yesterday night, it was time to take stock of the groceries again. Basically all I could find was a half-bag of spinach, 3 potatoes, one sad tomato and an onion. I definitely did not want to eat Paalak-aloo yesterday. Actually I was just not in the mood for a run-of-the mill everyday dinner. So just decided to experiment a bit. I remembered reading about a spinach kofta some time ago. Although I did not have the details of that recipe, I felt like I  could do it.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Daily Dinner Series (3): How Green Was My Dinner!!

 We've been slammed with the green brigade this whole month. The first week of March,  baby P's daycare celebrated Dr. Seuss's birthday, which meant that they read the same books over and over again. Now P has an exceptional fondness for 'Green eggs and ham'; but I hid that book away after failing to make her understand why she can't eat eggs and ham for breakfast. She re-discovered her love at school during the Dr. Seuss week.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Daily Dinner Series (2)

Continuing with the Dinner Series I announced last week, it is time to share another weeknight dinner with you. This is actually from Wednesday, but got too busy to be able to post it for you all. One thing I've realized is that my home is not really lighted well enough for my 8pm photography expeditions. I am getting pretty frustrated now. I see all these blogs with fabulous, almost staged, pictures. And all I have are shadows in places they shouldn't be, and the wrong color palette. I

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Announcing : Daily Dinner Series

I know- I am too inexperienced in blogosphere to be announcing any series. But humor me. The idea has been nibbling at me for a while now. In my 10yrs in US, I've answered questions about my vegetarianism a million times. The disbelief has given way to acceptance, and even admiration, in the past decade. But I still get asked if my meals constitute a balanced diet or not. So with this series, I am trying to set a record straight- so to say.