Showing posts with label Jain. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jain. Show all posts

Thursday, February 23, 2017

A taste of home: 2-ingredient Kalakand

One of the things I didn’t see made at home was sweets. Growing up in India, it was easy to step out to a halwai ki dukan (sweetmeat shop) and choose whatever caught your fancy. My mom usually made a couple of basics like halwa and kheer in her kitchen to mark a holiday, but we bought the rest. As with everything else, it’s easier to shift the responsibility of not being able to make desserts to my life as a child in India J.

It was hard to live without Indian sweets after moving to USA. Throughout my first pregnancy, I craved for boondi-ka-laddu and kaju-ki-katli.…..Things weren’t the same 15yrs ago – we had one small grocery store that sold Indian staples, and the variety of frozen food that you see today was non-existent. Even if you did drive 1-2h to the big grocery stores, things didn’t exactly taste like they should have. Over years, the sweet taste buds kind of dampened, and I started forgetting things that I’d liked in India. And then, as my daughters grew older and got to eat sweets that our friends brought back from their trips to India, my forgotten love re-ignited. We started to ask visiting friends and family to carry boxes of Indian sweets; just so the girls could enjoy them.  

Very recently have I started learning how to make a few of the common sweets at home. To many of you, these would appear trivial; for me anything that the girls decide to like, is a triumph!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Crispy Chiwda - Teatime snack

One of those things where familiarity breeds contempt. 

Crisp, sweet and savory Chiwda was a staple growing up.In the days when not much packaged products were available or used, my mom would make large amounts of this snack to munch on. Especially during the summer vacation, whether it was as I watched TV, or read, or because my dolls needed a snack on a lazy summer afternoon while mom took a nap!

In the past few years, I have started making it more frequently as well. And slowly, my daughters have begun to like it. They still aren't as crazy about the Chiwda snack as I was at their age....but then, they have so many more options to choose from. Anya likes it more than Baby P; and just like me, she sneaks up a bowl to munch on while watching TV or reading.I usually make a small portion of it every other week on a weekend...and think nothing about it at all.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Daily Dinner (21): Weekend Indulgence - Paalak ki Poorie


Once in a while, I give in to indulgence- in the name of children, award to self for good behavior, or just because….

Weekends are especially tempting. I find it harder to stick to a diet and exercise regimen when I am at home all day. Goodies beckon, and everyday lunch salads are the furthest from my mind. It is a good thing that the kids love poories - the fried Indian bread. To break the guilt, I do keep a little green (as in salad) on the side. Plus, I try to sneak in veggies in the poorie itself for the kids.

Every mom I know of has her own way of making this universal kids’ favorite. But here’s how I make my Paalak ki Poorie for an indulgent weekend meal.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Chawal ka Paratha- Reliving Childhood.


I have been told that kids should learn to eat everything. And that offering them with a choice is spoiling them for life. But believe me, if catering to foodie likes and dislikes is spoiling, then I was a thoroughly spoilt brat as a kid! And I changed when I grew up (not all, but quite a bit!)….

For many of my growing up years, I refused to eat roti. Eaten the traditional way, it got my hands dirty, food got under my fingernails, and I complained about smelly food fingers after lunch at school. I’d only eat whatever I could with a spoon. That pretty much made rice or sandwiches the only option for school. I wasn’t ready to even consider anything else. Then one day, my mom packed my school lunch with stuffed parathas, filled with rice – with the reasoning that she was still giving me rice - and I got a new food to love for life!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Taking Navratris West- with Sphagetti Squash

I have compiled a few of my go-to Navratri recipes from 2013 here and from 2012 here.

But me being me, what do I do when the stomach’s growling with hunger, and I want something “good” to eat while fasting? Sometimes, “good” for me is just another way of saying “out of the mundane routine”. Off and on, I try recipes and sometimes tweak it a bit to make it adhere to rules of my fasting. This year has been especially trying since we couldn’t get to do Indian grocery before the fasting week began. And so I got stuck with improvising.

I did have a little bit of Sama ke chawal and singhora flour. Not enough to tide me through the week though. So I have been living on whatever I can conjure up with groceries I can buy from local stores. One day each of aloo ki sabzi and zucchini had me wanting something “good”. The third day to satisfy my wandering mind and growling stomach; my dinner was a clear spinach-tomato soup and this  wannabe salad with Spaghetti squash – a fun vegetable that looks like spaghetti after it’s been cooked.

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, February 19, 2015

Gobhi ka Paratha- Cozy Comfort of a Cold Morning.


The humble cauliflower; and the mighty peas –possibly, two of my dad’s favorite things.

Sometime in November, the sabzi-wala bhaiya would come all excited and call out for my dad, announcing that he had procured the first cauliflower and peas of the season. My dad would hurry on downstairs. Then, they would engage in at least a half-hour haggle on prices; the bhaiya, unrelentingly adamant that his prices were reasonable, and my dad, equally strong-willed about making a good bargain. Finally, they always came to an agreement on “wholesale prices”, and my dad came back laden with 5kgs of fresh peas and 5kgs of cauliflower. The next half hour- my mom hemming and hawing about shelling all those peas and my dad trying to calm her down by saying that he’d help- which of course was the biggest lie ever!

Then I remember those afternoons when I came home from school to find my mom sitting on the balcony in the winter sun, elbow-deep in shelling peas. She not only seperated the sweet pea seeds, but also skinned the tender shells of new peas to make another one of my dad’s favorite – “matar ke chilke ki sabzi” (more on that, later some day….). Sometimes, I helped her. More often than not, the peas went straight in my mouth!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Sweet and Spicy Cranberry Chutney


Chutneys are pretty forgiving. You mix, taste, add some more, and repeat till you get it just right. Chutneys are also very ….um…lickable - for the want of another word. They just don’t taste right until you lick it right off your finger, roll it around your tongue for a bit and end your adventure with that loud, satisfying smack of “tch” that seemingly, unknowingly came out of your own mouth…..

Growing up, chutney was always an integral part of a meal served at home. The simplest thali would have a dal, a sabzi, a chutney, pickle and papad accompanying the bread. Mostly, our everyday condiment was the fiery green coriander chutney - with minor, season-appropriate variations. I couldn’t tolerate the amount of heat my parents were accustomed to , so sometimes my mom would sweeten it up with a bit of jaggery - and I’d eat that with everything. This everyday chutney is a quick fix, uncooked relish- sort of like salsa. All you need to do is zap up the ingredients in the food processor. No cooking required. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Creamy Broccoli, Carrot and Green Tomato Soup



That is how I feel about my soup fad. When I am feeling hungry, and lazy - and the weather’s too cold to drag myself out from under that fuzzy throw, or when I need a meal-for-one in a hurry, thats when I think of soup. Personally, I also prefer those thin watery soups rather than the chunky stews for these cold-weather cravings. That way I can curl up with a hot mug in my hands and sip on my soup like I do a cup of chai- not bothering about even lifting a spoon !!


I do a partial fast one day a week, giving up all grains and allowing just the fresh vegetables and fruits. Mostly, on that day I eat fruits for lunch and a smoothie or juice for dinner. This past week, however, was annoyingly cold. Plus I could hear my stomach rumbling right from the moment I woke up. All I wanted for lunch was something hot and filling. Which is how the soup craving started. The kids were away, and I had to think of just myself. Which meant I could experiment with stuff that they wouldn’t touch by a mile. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Chatpate Aloo - Cranberry Tinged Potatoes!!


Today, I’ll just tell you a story to prove how randomly my thoughts flutter….

Or, as A would tell you - how “wrongly circuited” I am!! :-) 

This past weekend, I spent some girl time with a dear friend. She was in my neighborhood, running errands. So I invited her to stop by for a cup of “chai” and chit chat. Over our cuppa, we talked about children (of course) and husbands (obviously!!), and other unmentionables extremely important to vent about for a woman’s emotional growth (!!). Spent, and exhausted….until the conversation meandered to what  she had bought from our Produce store -  amongst other things, she had a bag of fresh cranberries.
  “What’ll you do with them?”, I asked (needless to add, she is one big one to look up to as an incredible cook!)
   “Did your mom ever make Karaunde-wali-mirchi?", she asked. “I make a chilli relish using cranberries instead of the Karaunda.” (if you don’t know what I am talking about, please be patient and read to the end of this post here…..)

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. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Dee-Day (3) : A special guest post….

Many decades ago, my life came to be haunted by a devil-in-disguise. He broke my carefully-kept toys, tore my cherished books and ate up all the chocolate that I’d been saving “for later”. All I did was cry lodes of tears on daddy’s shoulders as he tried to comfort me by saying “now your toy (or book or candy) is gone. What can we do. You stop crying and I’ll get you more….”. As far back  as I can think , he got away with everything.

And yet, my most vivid memories are those of seeing him walk for the first time. Or leading him to his kindergarten class. Or him seeking me out in school with tears in his eyes because someone had been bullying him. My dad told me that he named him Amitouj - the celestial bed rest that Brahma reclines on - because he was going to be my pillar of comfort when he grew up. Somewhere along the way, I named him Divyu - because I wanted his name to have the same initials as mine. 

Today, my younger brother is still a devil. But I have seen his comforting side when I was hurting the most. He’s all grown up. But he’s still my first baby.

In 2009; on my vacation to his place in Abu Dhabi, my mom told me that he’d become very good at cooking. She said, “some things, he cooks even better than me”. At her request, he made me a dinner - his signature “tadka wali dahi”, as my mom called it. Since then, I’ve been pestering him for the recipe. Today, he’s decided to share it with me; and you. Read on ahead….from the mouth of the devil himself :-)!
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The journey to my culinary expertise started in year 1999 when I moved from Delhi to Mumbai. Taking national integration to core I moved in with 3 other gentlemen: one from Bengal – representing East, One from Andhra Pradesh – representing South, and the other from Sholapur on the west coast of India.  I completed the missing link from North – Delhi.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Fire-roasted corn on the cob: Welcome Monsoons


A trip to the Indian grocery store yesterday reminded me instantly that the month of Shravan must have begun! Back in India, the Monsoons in the month of Shravan not only brought an end to the intense heat wave in Delhi, but also ushered in the festive season. As with everything else, my unforgettable memories are those of food- starting with vendors selling litchijamun and Phalsa, followed by the appearance of Pheni and Ghevar in the sweet shops. And who can forget those charcoal-roasted bhutta sellers that sprang up on every corner. Sprinkled with masala and neembufire roasted corn cobs are the quintessential Indian street food during the monsoons.

My mom and I bought those bhuttas every evening during the rainy season. This ancient old man in a ratty turban would materialize out of nowhere when it was time. He lined a few bricks in a semicircle, and filled the middle with charcoal that he lit for fire. On top of this make-shift fire-pit, he placed a largish, semi-circular jaali. As he fanned the fire with a large woven palm-leaf pankha with his left hand, his right rang a loud, clanky brass bell. Slowly, a crowd gathered around him. Children returning from school, some with their moms in tow. Neighborhood “aunties”, just waking up from their afternoon nap and ready for a small snack and big gossip. Younger kids, fed up from being locked inside their home all morning and hankering to be taken out for some air. As he removed the silk and husk from the corn; orders rang all around him - masala, mirch-masala, extra neembu, light-roast, charred…..He gave everyone a nod, without looking up. And yet, he never made a mistake. Everyone got what they wanted. He was sold out within an hour- and he always returned the next day with more. As the rains waned, the old man disappeared again- only to return the next year. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Minty Cool Iced Tea


Summer’s officially here. And, as if I still had doubts despite the weather, Baby P shows me  her paper countdown  chain every day after school. As of now, our wait will be over in just another 2 days. Because that is when schools officially close down for summer vacation. These last weeks of school has been busy with all the field days and Sports Days and Graduations. Pretty tiring, in my opinion. Everyday the girls have been coming back red-faced from school hankering for something cold to drink.  After I had done the inexhaustible amounts of juice, lemonade, buttermilk, Aam ka panna, I gave up.

"What “something cool” do you want every day?”,  I asked Anya and Baby P.
I don’t know. Just something good”…was Baby P
You could buy iced tea. I like that.”…was Anya.
You are a kid; you can’t have iced tea. It has caffeine in it”….said I; to no-one in particular, glaring at them both.
Sure I can. We have it at school at all the parties”. Anya told me.
And daddy lets me have it when he buys it from Wawa. So I can have it too”, informed Baby P.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Kheer: The slow cooker version.

Kheer, or rice pudding, has got to be the easiest dessert to make in the world…and one of the most frustrating.

I remember my naani making it on a wood-burning chulha. She set the embers down to real low and placed her milk on it first thing in the morning.  She went about her daily business after that, never forgetting to come back and give the milk a good stir every so often. The milk simmered, and thickened until lunch time. This is when she put the rice and other goodies in. More simmering….Just after lunch, all four of us grandkids could take it no more. It was sheer torture…the aromatizing smells coming out of the pot; and our grandma guarding it like Cinderella’s stepmom. Late in the afternoon, the handi was transferred into a wide-mouthed paraat filled with chilled water from the well. And there it cooled until grandma deemed it ready enough to eat; which was always, frustratingly, after dinner.

My mom, in the expensive city trying to conserve Natural gas used for cooking, started using a pressure cooker. She’d cook the rice a smidgen with water; then transfer cooked rice with milk, sugar and everything else into a heavy bottomed cast iron kadai. Her simmering was limited to maybe an hour or so, but since she couldn’t get the flame low enough, she was constantly watching her pot. Her kheer was good; but naani’s was better.  My mom always blamed it on the low quality milk she got in the city.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Lemons and lemonade…..

Bright and shiny; like the sunshine that makes them mature - lemons invade Delhi's vegetable scene at the peak of summers. 

Summer mornings at home always started with a freshly squeezed lemon in a glass of warm water sweetened with honey - to cleanse the system, my mom said. 

We came back from school, sweaty and hot - to be handed an ice-cold glass of Shikanji - to beat the heat

When dad returned from work in the evenings, even sweatier than us because he chose to walk the 2km stretch from the bus stop to home, he preferred his lemonade tart and spicy - with just a hint of fresh roasted cumin seeds. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Kiwi-mango-grape chutney: A relish to relish.

I've had met several people in person through this blog. 

Several of my friends who land here (and haven't tasted my actual cooking!) are impressed. 

The ones more familiar with my abilities in the kitchen just go through my blabs; and move on….for if I can make something- they KNOW they can definitely make something better…..

And yet, sometimes, I CAN come up with a winner- at least in terms of taste. Remember my mango chutney that I concocted out of A's ridiculously priced pineapple-mango purchase? Here's another one of those "trash to treasure" stories.

I returned home one day last week to find unwanted kiwi fruit slices from two kiwis. They were virtually raw, hard as a rock and extremely sour.

"Blend them in with your spinach soup"- my MIL suggested.
"Toss 'em out"- was A's suggestion.
"I can't imagine them in a soup; or in the trash"- was me.
So they languished on the kitchen counter for one whole night and a day.

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…..

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Sprouted Moong Dal- Healthy teatime tiffin


Sprouts were quite a favorite of mine in my younger days. My mom had them going almost every other week. Whole moong in the summer,  moth ki daal during monsoons and kaala chana for winter. The way I remember her doing it was to pick and soak the grains in the morning, and then tie them in a moist muslin cloth. She let the bundle hang in her kitchen sink. The sprouts came almost within a day. I’d usually wait 2-3 days till when the sprouts were about an inch (or more) long before attacking them….

…And that brings us to the actual eating preferences in our home:

1) I loved my sprouts raw. Just sprinkle them with a little salt and garam masala, and some lemon if you wish. Some might argue that you have to use a spoon, I just picked at each sprout individually and popped it in my mouth. Worked best for “soft” beans like Moong daal. And tasted best in the hot summer months.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Swedish Red Beet salad (Rodbetsallad) - an adaptation.

This summer our vacation took an impromptu, unplanned detour through the three Scandinavian countries. Although rushed, the trip was amazing. Being handicapped by language, I had many escapades in Norway- hilarious in hindsight, but really frustrating then. At one time, I had a collection of 9 bottles of water- all weird tasting- when all I'd asked for in all the supermarkets was clear, unflavored water!

Sweden was different. We were met with A's cousin and her family - so language was no barrier.  The first day we were treated to an all-Indian breakfast, lunch and dinner. By next day, the host's young daughter could take Indian no more. So, she laid out a breakfast of several different kinds of cereals, breads, cheeses and condiments - all surprisingly foreign-looking. A being more adventurous tasted first- and I nibbled from his plate before getting anything on my own.  The breads were good, and the cheeses better; but I'd prefer American breakfast cereal any day to their cereal. That leaves out the outstanding-