Showing posts with label Make-ahead. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Make-ahead. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tzatziki, Indian Style. Lauki-ka-Raita

The title isn't misleading at all. If, being of Indian origin,  you've ever liked Tzatziki; that's probably because your tastebuds are so very attuned to the dahi concoctions with various members of the Cucurbitaceae family. I've yet to find a fellow-Indian who said they didnt like Tzatziki. At the middle- eastern places that I eat at , my favorite game is to guess if their Tzatziki leans more towards tasting like our kheera-ka-raita; or lauki-ka-raita!

A raita basically refers to savory, spiced yogurt (dahi) in our culture. And if you add any fruit/vegetable to it, it becomes a raita.  A must at almost any meal, dahi becomes a raita at special occasions or for guests; sometimes even if we want a change of taste from plain old dahi.  Unlike here in the US, sweetened yogurt is not on menu on an everyday basis. I got dahi-cheeni (yogurt with sugar) as a kid only if I'd been exceptionally good some day. Or one spoonful when heading out for exams or interviews (sweetened yogurt is considered auspicious in most parts of Northern India, and believed to bring good luck).  Fruit-flavored yogurt was pretty much non-existent during my time in India, and till today, I haven't developed much of a liking for it. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Munch bowl: Sprouted chana chaat

A common saying I've grown up with, is that sprouting whole legumes makes it easier to digest them.
Back in India, my mom did a lot of sprouting; especially during the monsoons - our favorites being whole green moong beans, moth bean (Turkish gram) and  kala chana (Bengal gram). While I loved to eat mung and moth sprouts raw, the chana was another story. Even after being sprouted and slightly sautee-ed; the gram is extremely chewy. And the lazy bum that I was (am); I dismissed chana sprouts by justifying that the effort-to-satiation index was (is) just not worth it.  

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Coconut macaroons: and our Halloween Pumpkins

Just as the Diwali excitement seemed to be dying down, I got swamped with "What are we doing for Halloween" concerns. My uninterested "nothing" for an answer did not go very well with little anxious hearts.   "Can we at least go trick-or-treating with Vienna?" asked Anya. "Yes mommy. I be a butterfly with Bienna", chimed in baby P. A and I exchanged a look, 2 looks actually. One with a "no" (yours  truly); and the other with a "let them go" (A, of course). And the decision was made. I called Vienna's parents to ask about the plans, and got invited to a pre-trick-or-treating sweet tooth affair. Which meant that instead of getting to spend a lazy Sunday, I had to come up with something to take to their place.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Khasta Kachori: and our Diwali memoirs!

The other day, a friend and I got talking about traditions - especially surrounding our festival season. We reminised about all the preperations that went into Diwali celebrations back home; and then about all the short cuts we take trying to celebrate this huge day after work; in the US.  Kind of sad, but true.


I loved Diwali back home. I can still relate to the excitement that preceeded the days between Dussehra and Diwali. School life came to a virtual standstill; as we were too excited to be learning anything. So instead, we had a week of talent shows, fancy dress competitions, traditional wear days, and arts day where we created numerous rangolis, kandils (paper lanterns) and diyas for our home. Mom got busy with superloads of laundry that included everything from drapes to bed covers. She was a good

Sunday, October 16, 2011

(Hi)Story of Spaghetti....Squash

There is a history between me and Spaghetti Squash: a fall vegetable that looks like a smallish, oblong fruit I knew of as 'phoot (or fruit) kakdi' in Rajasthan. My extensive googling has not  got any hit to explain this fruit (the phhot kakdi; I mean) to you. So, to draw for you a mental picture, imagine a dull orange colored obling/ elliptical, smooth skinned fruit (sometimes with dark brown stripes along its length), about 8 inches in diameter at its widest. When cut open, the insides reveal very thin skin,   bright orange, melony-flavored flesh and a core that looks just like a melon. The taste, is somewhat in between that of a kakdi (not cucumber- but the long, light green kakdis of North India), and a not-so-sweet melon.  Or, if you know a spaghetti squash; then imagine that on the outside and a not-so-sweet melon on the inside.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Diwali party: starring Kesari Phirni!!

It's the season again. If we've just started thinking about Dussehera in past tense, can Diwali be far behind? The countdown to India's brightest festival has begun: clean and shine.
Meet and greet.
Feast and diet.

Lost and found!!
I'm talking about this picture now, if you're wondering. This picture from last year's Diwali season resurfaced a couple weeks ago as I was cleaning up my desktop to make a move out of my then-job. As I looked at the picture, I remembered how proud I'd been the day I clicked this. It was for a Diwali potluck at A's friend's. I

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sinfully sweet: Shakkarpara for Dusshera

Oftentimes, my everyday life is accented by memories of past that flash out of nowhere. I am, where I was in a different avatar long ago, and I just want to turn the clock back and be what I was and do what I did then. At times, this happens because I'm missing those days. More often than not, I feel like I want my children to experience the little things in life that marked my childhood. And never does this desire hit me harder than during the traditional Indian Holidays, when I think about the celebrations as they used to be - the sights, the sounds and the smells that ushered in our Holidays. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Mix it up: Black Bean Salsa

I find entertaining to be very stressful. Don't get me wrong- I love  company. I just hate the little jiggles of worry that come with planned partying.  I worry about the house not being clean, about things not being right before the guests arrive. Most of all, I worry about not having enough food on my table. With that in mind, chips and store bought salsa and/ or guacamole.is a staple, as well as an emergency go to, for my entertaining.  Then last year, a dear friend introduced me to her black bean salsa....and I fell in love. When I asked her what went in the salsa, her response was very characteristic of her - "beans, and corn; then keep tasting and adding things till it tastes right...."! Knowing her, this is probably what she does. And actually, the first couple of times I made it, that was the approach I took. Lately though, my right brain has been niggling at me to standardize the recipe - that's my training in science; sometimes it interferes at home. As a result of this cross-boundary interference, the last couple of times I made this salad/salsa; I actually noted down what I put in there. And as with any good standardization that I do at work, today I figured it was time to document a protocol for this :-)) Here goes....

Monday, September 19, 2011

Tried and conquered! Besan ka Dhokla

It isn't easy for me to tell you this. Actually, the confession downright hurts. The recipe that you are going to read about here; is as basic as it gets. However, it has taken me years to get it to work. The fact of the matter is that I am not very kitchen savvy (here is your cue to humor me and insist that I am.....)! What I am, is tenacious. Sometimes I can make things work - like the dhokla below- and then I get to show you a pretty picture and gloat about it through your words. Often times, things don't go as expected, and I just hush  the matter up and you go on thinking that I'm a genius at work.Which I totally am. I insist you to go on believing that and reaffirming it to me. But let's come back to this later. First the dhokla story.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Two year birthday, Rakshabandhan....and Besan-ka-Laddu.

Time flies...literally. Can't believe I started writing this blog two years ago today. I haven't really marked any milestones for my writing till now. But today, as I sat here penning my thoughts, I realized that my first post on this blog also celebrated the festival of Rakshabandhan. A nostalgic look back, and I realize that I wrote down the recipe for Paneer Nargisi exactly two years ago. So let me begin by thanking you all for your readership and support. I've made many new friends through this blog, and have gained a lot of exposure in the blogosphere. It couldn't have been possible about you all.

Another co-incidence is that my recipe for today is a Mithai (sweet) - just what we need to celebrate both a festival and a birthday.

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.

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.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Summer Sizzlers: Tandoori Sabzi Skewers

One of the last weekend get togethers I hosted before my impromptu hospital visit was for some friends that we hadn't seen in a long while. Every time we set up a meet-together, we had to rethink our plans - either at their end or mine. So this time, when they asked if we could meet, I agreed; disregarding the fact that A was away that entire week on a work-related trip.  As Saturday came nearer, my anxiety mounted. A wasn't coming back till late Saturday afternoon, which meant that I'd be on my own for the preperatory phase of this get together. Not to mention that the summer was really heating up. Not really feeling up to conjuring up an elaborate Indian meal; I decided leave the responsibility of the main meal for A and his outdoor grill. My menu was going to be:
  1. Fresh lemonade

Monday, June 13, 2011

Baking basics: Jeera Biscuit

I spend a lot of luggage-space bringing back food from India, both when we travel (which isn't often enough) and when I get my MIL to visit us. This past month, while A was busy finalizing his mom's travel plans, I was scribbling down hundreds of "most wanted" items. Then everything went haywire when he told me the new Airlines baggage policy, and asked me to pare down my list....to almost nothing! The first things that got thrown off the list were my Jeera Biscuits, ostensibly because these are available in Indian stores in US. A refuses to believe that somehow the ones from back home are just different. Not to mention that they evoke special memories for me..........

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.

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. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Temptations: WaterGate Salad

Last weekend I hosted an all-women get together for friends from my Sunday school group.  This was the first time I was involved in any volunteer activities with this group, and understandably, felt totally like a fish out of water. The highlight of this event for me was a promise of girls' time out, without kids or husbands, and live cooking demonstrations for 2 secret dishes. The guest list, menu and activities were all planned by willing volunteers who devoted a load of time working out the details. My responsibility was barely to make sure that I provide the space,  disposables and co-ordinate parking space....

Wait...did someone say parking?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Effortless, Eggless Cake Bake


  1. We've been going through a bag of Entermann's mini donuts every two days, at least since after my birthday in the first week of March.
  2. Baby P peeks into the oven every other day and asks me what's cooking in there.
  3. Anya has actually started supplementing snacks with fruits.
  4. A was caught red handed snacking on the girls' gummy vitamins, and made quite a case for himself when questioned.
I've ignored all these tell-tale signs of sugar deprivation in my family for quite some time now.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Encore! Tadka Idli.


 The weather has certainly cleared up quite a bit. Grass looks a lot perkier, and little shoots of daffodils are breaking ground in my flower beds. Looking at the bright sunshine and temperatures in mid 50s, we thought  last weekend that we'd go to a park and initiate the picnic season. Before we could settle on a  menu, our plans got washed away; literally. Heavy rains Thursday night into Friday left all the surrounding creeks and rivulets overflowing, with flash flood warnings. All our favorite picnic places turned into mini swamps. Rather than lose the opportunity to get together, our friend R suggested we come to her place.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Raising the Bar- Carrot Haandvo

Apparently, the sweet and savory combination is a love it or hate it deal. There can be no happy middles here. I fall into the 'love it' camp. And I believe I get this from my mom's Western Rajasthan genes. Most of the north-west belt of India mixes sugar and salt in everyday food. I can almost hear my dad, who was more of a northern-Haryana product, scoffing at food with this kind of presentation, as in my naani's dal-chawal-boora-ghee combo.

We'd spend the whole 5 weeks of summer vacation at my naani's, without eating rice even once. This is probably why I remember the only time that we got to eat rice at her place was when my dad had come to pick us up - it was a rule that my naani imposed on him - and my naana (grand dad) suggested that rice be served for lunch as a special treat for my dad. And I, who loved rice enough to want it for every meal, was ecstatic. The request was nothing short of a major catastrophe in the kitchen though, for my naani's bhandara (a large room designated as grain and spice storage for the whole harvest year) was lined to the roof with sackfuls of wheat - but there wasn't a grain of rice in the house. I remember my youngest uncle being sent out to buy rice with special instructions as to whose farm it should come from. And if my memory serves me right, then my uncle 'paid' for that rice with an equal amount of my naana's best quality chana dal.