Showing posts with label Drinks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Drinks. Show all posts

Monday, April 14, 2014

Dee-Day (1): Buttermilk - a guest post by Sharmila

Sharmila is a better story-teller than I am; and you will get a glimpse of that from her own blog  that she recently started. Several years ago, I heard her name through mutual friends. I knew she was an accomplished dancer along with being a full-time scientist and mom. I had even tried to recruit her as my older daughter's dance teacher through the mutual-friend-grapevine ....without success. So when this said friend asked if Anya would like to participate in a Bharatnatyam-based performance that Sharmila was tutoring; I jumped at the invite. That is how I met this incredibly graceful young mom balancing her multi-faceted life in a very competitive manner.  Recently, I reacquainted with her through our Hindi school. Here, I got to know that she's broken some  big boundaries by marrying a North Indian - an act, that I am sure, comes with a rich, aromatic, north-south amalgamation that keeps her on her toes. I found it commendable that she was bringing her son to Hindi school, so he could get a sense of where his father comes from; all the while enriching her kids' lives with traditional ways from her part of South India (both her kids speak fluent Tamil).  That is what prompted me to ask her to write a little piece for MLS...Sharmila's vision and strength are very forthcoming in what she has to say about herself before we go on to her recipe:

On Family Traditions: 
I grew up in a place far from the bustles of a city. I like my family's traditional way of doing things. For example, blenders were there, but my mom used only stone grinders. My parents were very particular about giving pure, natural and organic food to all of us. Regarding life's aspects, they were like most other Indian parents who believed in marks, ranks and grades, but first came discipline. They did not teach us to stoop and touch the feet of elders, but taught us to respect and treat everyone fairly, irrespective of age, status and caste. They taught us to be righteous, confident and warm. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Holi again,….Vade-ki Kanji?

Last year, on Holi, I rambled on to you about Thandai and my quick fix of my mom's version….

Today, I want to air my rant about a snow day….

Whoever wakes up on Holi to be greeted by a good sprinkling of powdery white instead of the vibrant reds and yellows of Spring? We did, today. Officially, Holi in Philadelphia was a snow day. We even had a two-hour delay at school….Guess Holi lost it's battle to St. Patrick's Day here!!

On the bright side, we had our share of fun over the weekend. Good friends, family, food and color. It was pretty good.  While I don't have any good pictures of us colored to share on a public platform, food; I definitely shall. I managed to make a small batch of gujhiya (watch this space for more on this traditional delicacy…) while my MIL whipped up a good-sized batch of besan-ki-barfi (just a teaser herevisit me again soon…. :-)) and Vade- ki -Kanji . Now I've talked to you about the Kanji that I grew up with….made with black/purple carrots... that was a Holi ritual at my parents. I loved it. The one that my MIL made, I don't recall seeing my mom make it. Don't know if the reason is personal preference, or a regional diversification…..

Monday, January 6, 2014

Tulsi-Adrak ki chai: warmth for your heart.


Boy, is it cold outside! We've had 3 rounds of snow storms, and rain, at least the same many times as well. We even got a snow day at work this past Friday. I entertained myself by making Instant Coffee- Indian style (more on that later) and a perfectly well turned out Banana-Berry bread. Now they predict a severe weather watch for tomorrow as well. 

But this morning, as I smelled my morning cuppa made with the newly acquired prized ingredient while gazing out at the pouring rain, I was reminded of my mom…again. Her go to cure for everything monsoon  - getting drenched, runny nose, body aches - was a cup of milky, aromatic broth, generously infused with wild-growin Tulsi leaves on our balcony. I was so used to tea with Tulsi  that my first couple of years in USA I felt truly deprived and tried desperately to get a plant survive with me. I got them multiple times from our local temples, but the seedling never grew healthy enough to be useful. Then I gave up. I tried using Italian basil in my tea- didn't even come close to my needs. And until recently, I had even forgotten how heavenly a Tulsi infused chai smelled like….But let me start from the beginning…..

Monday, August 26, 2013

Of 150 ramblings; 4 years; and things gone right....

When the dashboard threw out the number at me, I was surprised. Didn't know I could persist as long as I have, in this blogging atmosphere. A bit over 4years (started on Aug 9th 2009), and this post today will be my 150th. Just goes on to say that I jabber too much :-) Jokes aside, it's your support through all this time that kept the motivation alive.  This blog started as a means to relieve some of those feelings that threatened to suffocate me. It stayed private for a few years, open only to some family and close friends. My Life & Spice became a public blog at the insistence of my "bitter-better half" :-) And there has been no looking back since......

 I couldn't have done it without either A or those of you who are regulars at the blogger site and those that keep the encouragement flowing through my Facebook page. It is for you all that I keep it up through everything else that comes up in everyday life, sharing my trials and errors in the kitchen.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Of Shakes and Mangoes.

Summer in India, and mangoes are two sides of the same coin. Can you envision one without the other? Summer brought with it initially the green tart unripe kairis- which would instantly be used up to make Aam kaPanna, ambi –pudina ki   chutney or ambiyari daal. As the sun ripened into a ferocious, blistering orange so did the mangoes. The tart turned to juicy, and the savory turned to sweet.  Rather than waste an over-ripe mango, you just made mango shake with lots of sugar in it.

Back again in my grand mother’s place, making a mango shake was a fairly communal event. The aam-wala was a maali from the neighboring orchard who loaded up his donkey with fruit that fell off the trees. Often he’d just plonk himself on somebody’s verandah asking for water to drink. Once the lady of the house came out, he’d expertly cajole the “bai” to taste his fruit.  A little sweet talk, a lot of haggling, and a deal was made.  Then he’d call out in a loud voice letting the neighbors know how this bai approved of his fruit, and what a deal he was giving her. More often than not, he’d attract several more customers. A few hours later, his donkey went home a load lighter...while the aamwala got loaded up :-)) 

Monday, April 29, 2013

A breakfast to remember- Carrot and Orange juice

Our juicer got a new lease of life this weekend...and I had nothing to do with it. It was A's insistence. He remembers it off and on. Actually, he's the one that bought our machine a decade ago. Sadly, it hasn't been used as many times as the years it has lived in our house though. I knew that's what would happen to it when he brought it home one day from Macy's, excited as a kid, ostensibly for a very pregnant me.... I've lived through the juicer experience with my mom. Back then, it was a brand called Inalsa- might sound familiar to those of you growing up in India in the 80's. A brand new company at that time, exclusively sold and serviced through door-to-door sales, and came with a box-ful of attachments. 
Too expensive- my mom said.
I can take care of that- said daddy.
I don't need all that stuff in the box. Who needs a juicer when we have a juice-shop around the corner.
He's a filthy fellow. And his glasses are dirty.  (My dad really was a germ phobic....)
I still don't need it- too many little things to put together and clean up afterwards.
I will do the setting up, and cleaning. You get get the fruits washed and ready for juicing. I am there for everything else. (A typical Main Hoon na...clause, that works well putting an end to inane arguments...)

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.

Friday, January 18, 2013

My "cook" shelf is growing...


A quick note...to break the monotony of all the other writing I've been doing today....

Last week A came back with a bunch of books for me from the library's bin-sale.  Apparently he thinks that since I write mostly about food in this blog, I have a keen "interest " in cooking.  Little does he know that the best vacation I ever had was the one where all the food came with the lodging, so all I had to venture out was from the pool to dining room :-)) 

At any rate, now I am the proud owner of 5 cook books- the first one is going back to the library bin since it has almost no vegetarian dishes, the second one are "slow cooker" recipes- again mostly meat. But doesn't matter since I don't own a slow cooker- yet.  I  doubt if I even glanced at the other ones. The one that caught my eye and I most certainly intend to use is the one that is sort of like a diary where you can jot down the name of the restaurant you dined in, along with your order and comments.  Going through the month of December in this diary I found a whole page with printed matter.  Curious, I went through it....

Thursday, October 4, 2012

One More ode to Milk: Harira


Never realized how much pain the poor guy was in. I thought I'd been treating him well....he'd never complained. But then he never says much (anything) rather. Three months (four plus one day actually, but who's counting) into his mom's visit at ours, and all of A's desires (of the foodie kind....hold those other thoughts :-))) seem to be rearing up their mighty heads like a giant, multi-headed monster.  Or crawling out the crevices like those never-dying cockroaches. Pick whatever sounds more scary to you...not that I care, not really.... 

It started subtly enough. He saw Parathas for breakfast instead of sugar free dry tea rusks; I saw red flags on his cholesterol count at the next doctor's visit.  Then came elaborate mid-morning and mid-evening snacks. While he decided to pay heed to the "sugar is good for health" mantra; and started wolfing down ladoos and gaundh ki chakki (more on that soon- I promise) after every meal;  I was  calculating calorie per serving ratio and trying to stomp visions of insulin shots. Then came his first demand...for Nishasta. Not only did he ask for it, he even told his mom to teach ME how to make it....That did it... the whole decade plus of training to rein him in unravelled that very instant. All of my "we've got to eat healthier" got quickly drowned into by the "you earn to live" and "how can traditional be not-healthy" philosophy. Right now,  I should rein in whatever is popping in MY mind before it gets printed in indelible ink for posterity to come.....

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, August 31, 2012

Nishasta...milk, the Indian Way.

I was never a milk person....all my life I remember hating the white stuff, and my mom trying her hardest to make me have my pre-requisite 1 cup-a-day during the growing-up years. As far as I recall, she tried all the additives/ flavorings available in the market-  which was pretty restricted at that time. We finally settled on Nescafe-flavored, unsweetened milk for my breakfast; and even that, I'd try to skimp out on, most times. My constant whine being that milk 'smelled'. All that would change during the summer months when we went to my naani's place. During my stay there, I became a milk guzzler for some reason. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

A cuppa chai.....

Nothing's as comforting; or as nostalgia-evoking; as a cup of Chai....

My parents began their mornings; and ended their work day; with some alone time together.  Just the two of themselves, and their cups. My mom's without sugar; my dad's with honey. They planned all things important at this time- their monthly budget, holidays, celebrations, our future and theirs. As I grew older, I learned to leave them alone with their thoughts in the mornings. With their Chai in the evenings, we talked about our day at school and my dad's day at the court. My mom listened to all three of us, and said very little. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Soda-cream: Perfect Summer Chiller

This post has been sitting there, ready to be posted for 10 days now....just a sign of how crazy things have been this summer till now. Finally, today I get to upload it. We are 2 and half weeks ion summer vacation at this point....and the girls are thoroughly enjoying themselves....


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Our first week of summer vacation went by lazily. The girls were excited to stay home; and be with their grandmother all day. They woke up late, ate all the Indian junk food that came out of their daadi's bags, and watched TV all day.  Despite that, it didn't feel like summer to me. The weather's been cool, cloudy and somewhat wet. So this past week, when the TV forecasts rang out a heat wave warning; I got excited for my girls. My summer vacation list includes: lazy afternoons, grandparents AND heat!  

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Is this hot or what? Spicy, Tangy Imlaana.

The heat wave last week was painful. Even our poor old window air conditioner struggled to keep its cool. One of the days last week I remember I checked weather on A's iPhone, and we in Philadelphia, were hotter than our families back in Delhi. 
Between trying to keep my stiches from the surgery dry to prevent itching and  frequent demands of "can you make something cold to drink", I was just this close to losing it all. Which is when I was hit with a 3-way sword.

"Mommy, Anya finished off all the black juice", baby P wailed holding an empty Coke bottle.

"Can I just eat ice for dinner tonight?"; from Anya - forever looking to get out of having to eat..

"I have a headache from this heat- I think I'll lay down for a while. Do we have something cold to drink?" This was A.

Friday, July 22, 2011

This & That; Plus some more. (And an almost recipe)

Raspberry Sharbat/Preserve
I was supposed to post this piece in June. But as always; more late than ever! This is what comes of excessive planning; is my lesson to myself. I had my blog posts for June all very well organized in my head. The content, the themes, the events. And it actually went well for the first couple of weeks, and then - life happenned; figurately speaking of course! Which is all right, because now, I get to not only talk about what I read in June this year, but also what culinary inspirations came out of it!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Beat the Heat: With Spicy Hot Kaanji

Maturing in the sun- Kaanji
This past Friday, while I rambled on about my backyard and flowers, I also showed you a picture and asked you to guess what was in that bottle. My friend Ila was the only one who took a guess, and she is right on. The bright red thing is indeed Kaanji: a common spring time drink in Northern India, especially Delhi. Right around Holi season in mid to late March, the vegetable vendors back in Delhi brought out some exotic looking vegetables. I especially remember Gaanth Gobi (Kohlrabi) and Kaali Gaajar; both of which my dad took quite a fancy to. Apart from using Kaali Gaajar (Purple carrots) in salads, my mom invariably made a large  bottle of  Kaanji that my dad loved. 

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Refreshing Goodbye to Summer!

Summer's over in our part of the world. And the realization hit me full force when my daughter received a welcome-back-to- school note from her class-teacher-to-be yesterday evening. School starts, summer's over. Officially! So while she spent the next hour chirping excitedly about her teacher's note, I sat with my little camera, reliving my summer. That is when I realized that I've been really tardy about updating my blog this past few months. I've been pre-ocuupied, and over-whelmed. Plus, my MIL was visiting us; and with all the weekend entertaining that we did; it didn't leave me much time for myself.