Showing posts with label accompaniments. Show all posts
Showing posts with label accompaniments. Show all posts

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Punjabi Soya Chunk Sabzi with Peas and Potatoes.


My dad's family migrated to big city Delhi when he was 7 years old. While his parents, my grandparents, got busy adapting to fast-paced lifestyle and establishing the new business, my dad was practically adopted by this very affluent Sikh family next door. In the very Punjabi neighborhood of Filmistan, this family provided my dad with an emotional support and encouragement that helped him stay grounded in his youth after his mom passed. He grew up calling them Mummyji and Daddyji, learnt to read and speak Punjabi fluently, went to Rakab Ganj Sahib with them every week and even started eating eggs and chicken with their family- behind his own parents back, of course.

By the time my brother and I came along, daadaji and daadiji’s home was always this immaculate, white fenced kothi in Filmistan full of huge, turbaned men and one little beeji in elegant white. They were loud and boisterous, gave us hugs tight enough to break our bones and fed us like we had been starving forever. When we were little, the differences between this family that we knew of as our daadaji and daadji  and the rest of our uncles and aunts were very confusing. As we grew up, the story of how this family had helped my dad by pitching in after my grandmother died and my grandfather took time healing from the loss became deeply a ingrained family lore. My dad’s love and gratitude was very obvious when he talked of them as his ‘parents’. 

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. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Slow Cooker Bean and Barley Soup

The leaves have turned color, and are beginning to fall. Looking out the window, there are as many bare branches as the ones with leaves. Evenings are cool, and nippy. My resolve gave way last week when temperature inside the house dropped to 60 degrees - I turned the heating on already, ignoring my resolve to make it into November without it this year….


Oct. 31st 2014. The first signs  of a frosty night in our backyard.
…And believe it or not, I woke up this morning to a frosty, white backyard…..

All of this makes me want to just curl up with a blanket, a good book and a warm bowl of comforting soup…..

Growing up, soup was always a winter luxury in India. The bountiful greens and tomatoes during the cooler months accounted for greater affordability of these veggies. We grew up on clear soups. My mom always started with fresh vegetables, used a pressure cooker to cook them, then pureed and strained them.  

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…..)

Monday, August 18, 2014

Stuffed Sweet Peppers (Baked)

I never knew what to expect of something that’s called “sweet peppers”. Until the day I tasted these at a good friend’s home. Her MIL had stuffed them with a spicy potato mixture, and my friend had baked them to cook. As an accompaniment, they were amazing. Since then, I have made these a few times; both as appetizers and as sides to a main meal. Yesterday, I saw them again in my produce store; so thought I’d share them with you.

Curried Stuffed Sweet Peppers


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 :-)!
_____________________________________________________________


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. 

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, 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. 

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.

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)……

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, January 29, 2013

Simplicity at it's finest- Achaari Aloo

I find it pretty amazing that most of my "memories" of people and incidents are somehow also linked with food. Even when food is not the central focus in that memory; it is still prominent.  Not only does my mind take me back to the day that I'm reminded of, but sometimes the feel and smell of the day is revoked as well.  

Traveling with food comes naturally to most of the families from the Indian sub-continent. My MIL packs a stash of "Pooris" and a boiled potato.  After peeling and chopping the potato, she'd mix in some salt and pepper and it was ready to eat with her Pooris. My parents, and my grandparents before them, always travelled with their traditional  potato preparation called "Achaari Aloo" along with wonderfully crisp "Parathas".  As soon as the "tiffin" opened, the smell of this mix between an achaar (pickle) and a subzi permeated the whole train car.  I have these elaborate memories of us sharing our food with whoever happened to be our neighbor in the train car, or got drawn to our berth by the mouth-watering aroma of Achaari Aloo.  Not even my mom could make this dish taste like my grandma's. Towards the end of every summer vacation at my naani's, we'd get a letter from my dad (this was the pre-telephone era in India) requesting that she send him some of her Achaari Aloo and parathas. Naani always did. And daddy got to the food the moment we got home, and ate it all up. If, per chance, there was some left over, he'd tell my mom that he wanted it for breakfast - this from a guy who never ever liked leftovers......

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 ....

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Dahi-Vada: with Moong Dal; and Das Lakshan Parv

The Jains' observe a week of renunciation and austerity during the months of August-September; and I gave you a glimpse of that in my last week's post on Paryushan. As with any other matter of the heart; the Jain religion is split up in the middle into two major sects. And despite being almost identical in faith and lifestyle, the observances between the two sects vary. Which is why one Jain is fasting this week; ending on Sept 29th - the Anant Chaturdeshi day, equivalent to the Samvatsri in my last post. Which is also why, in my home, the entire experience gets extended to 18 days (A and I come from the two different sects of Jains, and in my zest to neither give up and yet be accepted, I've been trying to assimilate the differences in observance). This year, I've split my observances with my visiting MIL, who is responsible for the 10-day long Das-Lakshan Parv, as opposed to my 8 days of Paryushan. I definitely get the better deal out of this whole arrangement :-))

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Hasselback Potatoes.

I love potatoes. They're the base of my entire food pyramid. If there were no potatoes, there'd be no food on my table. I can't think of a life outside of potatoes. And just for that reason, I can not be a conforming "Jain" - ever :-))

My dad told me that my first word as a toddler was Wa...Wa - except he pronounced it as Wah Wah - which would loosely translate as "Very good"- and that I was pointing to a potato when I said it :-)). He also made it a point to add on that I got this from his side of the family; particularly him. For a very long time growing up, I'd only eat "aloo". Oftentimes, all my mother had to do to make me try some new dish, was to add a potato to it. And greasier the dish, the better I liked it. My favorites- aloo ki tikki, aloo-cutlets, aloo ki Poori, potato chips...and anything else aloo.  Over the years, I've added more favorites to my potato  obsession- Potato salad and  fries for example. And now, the latest- Hasselback potato

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Life's Little Pleasures....

The past month went by in a tizzy. I didn't even realize that the month was over, till I turned a page in Anya's school calendar and came to a whole list of end-of-the year activities. Realized that I'd been so into myself, that didn't even get to notice my garden's summer bounty this year.  Things bloomed, and then died without me sitting outside to enjoy them with a cup of tea and a good book.  

Come to think of it, I haven't read anything substantial in a while. I'm dragging my feet over Reading Lolita in Tehran for over a month now- it's a great book, don't get me wrong- it's just the wrong subject matter for my frame of mind at this time.  And I haven't picked up anything else yet!

Then yesterday, a good friend pointed out that I hadn't written anything on this space for over a month ( did get out a work-related-manuscript; just so you know that I haven't been totally worthless....). To be honest, it felt good that some one had noticed the time gap!! Adulation is extremely ingratiating for the soul.... I pointed her over to to my FaceBook page; but she wasn't buying that. So here I am sitting up, typing away as soon as I got out of bed this morning. For her especially......but hopefully the rest of you have missed my ramblings as well (take the hint sweeties; and start dropping me some tidbits in the comments section or FB....)

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. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Sooji ka Uttapam- veggie no-egg frittata

When I think signature dishes, the ones that instantly come to my mind are my MIL's recipes. Probably because these were the ones that I encountered as 'new' in my adult life, and got to associate with especially her.  One of the first of these that I tasted from her was a Holi special (but we'll leave that for later). The other one is her favorite snack recipe. I've known her to make this up at any of those times when you're feeling hungry for no apparent reason, and meal time is hours away.  She's also been known to substitute this for an early dinner sometimes.  As for me,  I can eat her 'Sooji-ka Uttapam' anytime, anywhere and in humongous quantities - that's how good it is.  Despite my liking for this, I hadn't really tried to make this my own. This was something that was predominantly "mummy' domain- I demonstrated by appreciation by eating it, but leave the actual making of it to her. Although to be truthful, I've tried it a couple of times...and then left it for the experts like her!