Showing posts with label Events. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Events. Show all posts

Friday, January 20, 2017

Meetha kha, Meetha Bol. Til ki Patti

“How many harvest festivals do Indians celebrate?” was the smart-aleck Anya question this past weekend.

Reason- I had made Til ki Patti (Sesame seed Brittle) at home; and was forcing her to try a bite under the pretext that it was a special dessert made for Harvest celebration as marked by Makar Sankranti.

My first reaction was annoyance. Her tone really had that early-teen disdain for everything “parent”. One deep breath later, I figured that if she asked that question; she probably remembers the other Harvest Holidays and stories that I have told her and Baby P. This is good, in fact- better than good. After all, isn’t the goal to make them aware of our special traditions and celebrations?


So I ventured into my convoluted, Wikipedia-verified version(s) of  why we celebrate Sankranti. Anya rolled her eyes and went back to doing whatever she was doing, but remained close and kept her earphones out of her ears. A big enough achievement, under the circumstances. Baby P hung on to every word, asked tons of questions and chattered on while I tried to google apt responses for her. Somehow, she made me wish that I could hold on to her years a little longer….having a teenager on hand is surely a trial!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Gujhiya- Taditional Holi Recipe


Wishing you all a bountiful spring- Happy Holi!!!

If Holi is here, can spring be far behind? 

Traditionally marking the beginning of Spring in India, Holi used to be quite an affair in Delhi. After hours of running around with water pistols, colors and water-balloons, we would return home exhausted and ready to curl into sleep. Except that our mom had a different idea... she, for the first time since winter set in, would make us take cold water baths. All my childhood years, I remember being bathed in ice-cold water with our teeth chattering while my mom scrubbed away the colors of Holi from inside our ears and hair. It seemed like hours before she considered us clean enough to step in anywhere inside the house. And all through the ordeal, she kept repeating that since it was spring time, we had to start bathing in cold water….

After a tiring day and her ruthless cold-water scrubbing, lunch this day was usually something good - hot and deep fried. Mostly pakoras, the sweet saffron rice called Zarda, and a cup of warm milk to beat the cold- followed by a short nap. Late in the afternoon, my dad's friends gathered in our house for a "mushaira". Not quite sure what went on there, but they laughed loud and made plenty of ruckus. All the "aunties" would pack their kids and their knitting, and meet up in the neighborhood park themselves for some "girl time". Before my mom left for the park, she and I would ply the uncles with goodies to sustain them for a few hours - pots of Kanji and Thandai, Mathi, Gujhiya and besan ladoo - all from my mom's kitchen. By the time we came home, the uncles usually had eaten them all!!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Turning a Page; and a Year.


“Hope
Smiles from the threshold of the year to come, Whispering 'it will be happier'…” 

---Alfred Tennyson--

Sometimes, there are years that you can’t wait to be done with. Other times, the year flies by in a blink. Thinking back a year might make you laugh out loud, smile with love or cry your heart out. The year changes, we turn a page in the calendar and hope for things to change. In recent years, through this space, I have started taking a peek back at the year past; and re-living moments that weren’t significant enough to be etched in memory forever, but momentous enough to deserve a mention.  Well over a week into the year 2015, I want to recount to you some of the tiny, unforgettable moments that made up my 2014. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Slow cooker Rabri

Hard to believe that fall is knocking on our doorstep.

Just as hard as believing that I haven't touched base with you all for more than 5 weeks now. For some reason, time slipped away un-noticed. Doesn't mean I haven't been cooking or wanting to share. Just never did. 

Summer ended on a whirlwind vacation to Puerto Rico. I need to get back to you with highlights from that trip, soon. Then a flurry of activity with back to school, teacher meetings and beginning of all other hustle and bustle. And then the girls' birthdays. In my family, both the B-Days fall within a week of each other. Which means a massive partying spree in September.  It is just now that life has taken on a semblance of normalcy befitting routine. 

For want of a better reason- I decided to come back to this space with a recipe that several of you had a chance of tasting recently. Rabri. This was a last-minute addition to my daughters' birthday party menu. Initially, I had decided that the cake and Gulab Jamun would suffice as desserts. Somehow, the morning of the party, I started having misgivings about my decision. Store-bought desserts didn't exude the kind of personal touch that I like my guests to experience. While I have made Rabri before the traditional way, this was my first time making it in a slow cooker. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Vrat-Ka-Dosa: A Navratri Special

Here's another one for Navratri fasting.

Except that this time, I chose not to fast the whole nine days...I am just doing the two days; as religiously mandatory. 

But this gives me a chance to share with you an awesome experiment from 6 months ago.  A gluten-free Dosa! I was pretty excited when this turned out as well as it did. Great for satisfying those cravings when you're in a starving mode :-)

The two ingredients used here in this recipe are not grains, unlike the rice and lentils used in a traditional Dosa (Indian-style crepe). In place of rice, we use what is called sama-ke-chawal in Hindi. The name is a misnomer, since the tiny rice-like grain is actually  a seed of wild grass Panicum that is considered a pseudo grain. It's a naturally fat free, low calorie seed that resembles broken rice (see below for nutrient information).

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…..

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Another Year Gone By.....


...and what have I done?
Plenty; but not enough......
As a part of self-improvement plan, I aspired to, and got into a fellowship program. Whether the goal came of  a need for a mid-life career change, or a sense of underachievement, is irrelevant. Just the odds of competing against kids almost half my age, and succeeding, was fulfilling. It hasn't been easy going back to the life of assignments and grades, but I've survived half a year...and I look forward to actually getting back in a classroom at the receiving end this Spring.
I've kept up with this space here...sporadically, but surely. Writing this blog and hearing back from all of you has been uplifting in my darkest moments. Lets just suffice it to say that through you, I've managed to fill in a niche as close to my loved ones as possible.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Giving Thanks.


The beginning of this week- A came home from work and told me. Some one we knew, not very well but well enough, had passed. I knew he had cancer. In fact he had had a surgery less than a week ago. He'd been delighted when I went to meet him in the hospital. " The prognosis is good"- he wrote for me since his tracheostomy prevented him from speaking. "The doctors give me at least 3yrs, but I'll show them how to beat it". Five days later, he was dead. The news left me shaken up. Made me realize how fragile and precious life is. And how obscure, the line between being alive and not. Though  Thanksgiving is not a traditional holiday in our family, today, I needed to look back at my life and give some measure of thanks. 

First of all, I feel blessed to have my life as it is today. There have been ups and downs, trials and tribulations. But that is what is meant to make us stronger. So I'll take whatever came my way and learn to be thankful. My past made me what I am today, shaped my dreams and hopes and expectations. I'll live up to them, and work towards a spiritual contentment, a sense of balance.

Monday, November 11, 2013

A blast from the past: Kalmi Vada

My MIL claims not to be much of a cook herself. But the truth is, her discomfiture in the kitchen makes her one of the better home cooks I know of. She measures and tastes and strives for perfection when most people, including yours truly, get side-tracked by their own confidence into serving without tasting first.  One of the first things I remember from her kitchen was this delicacy she called Kalmi vada.  I had been married barely about a month,  when she made these for the Holi festival over a decade ago.  I remember she'd sounded surprised when I said that I'd never eaten those before. Apparently,  Kalmi vada is a Rajasthani snack....never saw it made in my Rajasthani side of the family though.....

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Gulgule: A Childhood Favorite


Holidays have this way of creeping up and evoking nostalgia. Long forgotten memories, of people and things that we have taken for granted for too long....and when life gives you a breather, you turn back to realize that those memories have gotten a lot hazier than you ever thought they could. 

Today we celebrated Karwa Chauth- an annual ritual I grew up with - a day, that my mom described as her day off. For according to tradition she couldn't touch any needles.  Without her sewing machine or knitting needles, she had the whole afternoon to while away. And she did that by spoiling herself and me. She couldn't eat or drink till moon-rise. But that didn't keep her out of the kitchen. Together, we made a whole bunch of goodies for the special dinner at night; went shopping for red glass bangles and bright red vermillion, oiled, washed and braided our waist long hair. Around mid afternoon, she sat me down to listen to the "katha"- mythological folk-lores glorifying the day of Karwa Chauth- before handing me a plate of the mouthwatering, strongly fennel-flavored Gulgule.

Friday, October 4, 2013

10 Recipes for Navratri

Tomorrow marks the beginning of Navtri- literally translated: nine nights.

Navratris come twice a year- a whole 8-days of fasting with a pretty rigid diet rules.  The one in the fall is especially important though. Bengalis celebrate it as Durga Puja, and Gujrati festivities include girls in pretty clothes dancing Garba all night. Punjabi community in our part of Delhi was known to set up community praying events known as Mata-ki-Chowki; was pretty fun, albeit a bit loud!  Traditionally meant to celebrate the power of Goddess of Durga, the win of good over evil- in my home it was celebrated by  7 days of all fruit and vegetable diet with a celebration of the girl child on the 8th day.  No real festivities for us - just the fasting and praying. As a child, the real incentive was being invited to all our neighbors houses for a meal; and a token gift. 

Although religion does play a major part; it isn't all that drives my fasting ritual. Growing up, my brother and I had a pretty dismissive view of religion and tradition. In our minds, if it was tradition, it was ambiguous and meant to be discarded. Till some one twisted religion into science for me. I fast- because it detoxifies. A gluten-free diet every 6 months can be extremely beneficial to overall health. ...and girls, in a patriarchal Indian society, are pretty precious. So no hard feelings for giving them a week of fun and festivities :-)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

For the love of Gaundh- Traditional Jain Gum-Nut-Coconut Brittle.

This post here, has languished in the draft format for more than 15 days now. It was meant to be a quick one, to coincide with the occasion that it is associated with; namely the Jain fasting days of Paryushan or Das Lakshan Parv. But time flew by quickly. And life got busier than it has been all summer.  I will try to get a bit more organized and regular, but meanwhile, this is what you've been waiting for - another one of my MIL's specialities. She's made it every year that I've been with her during these days of fasting. The first couple of times, I didn't pay much attention. But then last year, by the time I figured that I'd like to know how to make it, she was already done. So this year, I was ready. Made sure she made it on a weekend, at a time when I was around, and got to see it being prepared first hand. As far back as I can recall, this is nothing that I ever saw in my own home.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Teej Greetings- with Malpua/ Indian Pancake

Today, I learnt this morning, is Shravani Teej.....the festival of swings and mehendi.

For many many years in my growing up years, the first rains of monsoon would begin an impatient wait for Teej. More often than not, I knew it was around the corner when some strange messenger rang our doorbell with a box-ful of goodies for my mom - saree, red and green bangles, bindi-kajal-sindoor, toe rings, mehendi and mouth watering sweets made especially for my mom by her mom.....The D-day I'd see my mom deck up in all her finery, and dream of looking as beautiful as she did then; someday.

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...)

Friday, April 12, 2013

Ebinyebwa or Ugadan Peanut Stew: A New Twist to Navratri.


Food somehow has a way of bringing people together....

There have been times that I've had random strangers walk up to me, and comment on my home-packed lunch. Many times, I've done the same. A lot of students have asked to, or offered me, a taste of what we've got for lunch.  Many a times, I have picked up a recipe or two following our interaction over food. The two that immediately come to mind, and that I've shared on this space are Buckeyes, and Watergate salad. There are several others, random scraps of paper, that are just waiting to be tried.   Waiting for me to garner up my courage and take a dive....But rarely have I had a vision of the occasion that I would try the recipe at flash before my eye while hearing someone speak of it; until now.

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, December 31, 2012

A New Year (Almost) Wish.


Many years ago I resolved never to bother with New Year's resolutions, and I've stuck with it ever since. - Dave Beard

Now that we’ve survived Doomsday 2012 and the holidays are winding down to a close, it’s time to come to terms with the impending change on the horizon: 2013. The end of the year brings in time to reflect over the last 12 months, and what lies ahead. We look forward to new beginnings and possibilities, leaving the past behind. Now that we’re at the brink of saying goodbye and welcome all at the same time, 2012 strikes me as one of those very eventful years that went by faster than most…

Despite my optimism for the coming year, it is hard to neglect the adverse events that bring this year to an end. In the last month or so, as an American of Indian origins, I felt an immense heartache for all the innocent victims of senseless actions; be they the innocent children in school shootings of Connecticut, or the young, unnamed girl in Delhi, India who lost her battle for life yesterday. My prayers go out to them and their families. There is no greater loss than of those loved, and no greater sorrow than an untimely farewell.

In retrospect, I'm thankful for all good things that happened, sorry to have made some mistakes, happy to have moved on and grateful for all opportunities. The New Year, as it dawns, brings forth promises of a better tomorrow. So lets embrace the unknown…….it is now time to let go, and start afresh. The New Year, will be a New Me; as some one said- a blank book of 365 pages to write in. And I wish to be able to fill it in with cheer and smiles. I’ve made no resolutions, set no goals. For to me, each day brings forth its own challenges that I must overcome. And I shall prevail.

So that is it….

A Happy New Year to You. Put on your hats, bring out your party shoes.  And thanks for sticking by me all these years. I look forward to seeing you around.







Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Pop goes the cake....


It's never too early to start thinking Christmas. Heck, Christmas started the minute our Thanksgiving dinners got cleared away.  Since last week, I only hear Holiday music on my radio and I've watched at least 5 feel-good Christmas movies on Hallmark.  So I wasn't really surprised when the pre-meeting talk at work today turned towards Holidays, calories and Cake Pops; instead I was immediately reminded of these that I'd made at Christmas last year.  Came back, fished out the picture; and here they are.  Not the prettiest looking pops, I concede. But this was absolutely my first time working with chocolate (if we forget my Buckeyes, that is). So cut me some slack. And here's how I made these cake pops......

Friday, November 2, 2012

All Love; No Food!! Karwa Chauth


This is totally an unplanned post- just a few ramblings for today. 

This morning, I told Anya that she should take a bath and dress up in her Indian clothes after coming back from school. 'So what are we celebrating? Diwali? And I realized she has no idea of what today marks. So here I am, just trying to relive my memories for her.

My excitement at home for Karwa Chawth would begin the evening before; when my mom (with me in tow, of course) went out and bought a big bagful of sweet and savory mathris and fenni (thin vermicelli thats slightly toasted and sweetened). Where we lived, these goodies were very seasonal- you saw them for maybe 2-3 days around Karwa Chauth.  Then we'd trek all the way down to the local kumhar (potter) and pick out a karwa (clay pot) for her pooja the next day.  Third step, invariably, some place where she could buy new chooris (glass bangles) - always red, and always with a big splash of gold in them. I got my share of these too. Finally, we stocked up on some big red bindis and a new bottle of vermillion sindoor.  All spent, we'd stop at last for a treat of some gol-gappe and chaat in preparation for the extensive fasting the next day .

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 ....