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

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!

Monday, November 28, 2011

A treat for your tastebuds! Nargisi kofta

I am so deprived of tools required to be blogging....

These past months havs been absolutely catastrophic. First,  baby P, in one of her naughty moods, started to run off with my camera, tripped over the carpet and dropped my very prized possession. I was so upset that I actually gave her a time out before realizing that I'd to ask if she was hurt in the fall as well:-)) Since that day, I can't seem to get clear pictures with this Canon that I'd spent days researching before I bought it. But I've plodded along- photoshopping a lot, trying to get my pictures to look sort of like they're supposed to. While waiting to decide whether to buy a new camera or not, I transferred the old pictures out of there and drafted a few posts with genuine intentions of clearing up the back log.

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.

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.

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 20, 2011

Chane ki Chatni: My Dad's favorite


Bengal Gram Sprouts: Chane ka saag
A couple weeks ago, I had asked you all to guess this plant from my kitchen garden. I was so sure that no one will have seen this sprout often enough to recognize it! I'm actually surprised  that a couple of you guessed it right- and that's you two; Meera and Seema. Well good for you- goes on to show that you're experts in matters pertaining to kitchen basics! It isn't always that those living in cities can identify the source of our food. This sprout in question on the left is Kala chana (Bengal gram), widely used in Indian cuisine in its myriad avatars.  Here, I am going to talk about one more use for it. This post is more talk, less recipe. So, bear with me as I bore you with the simplest recipe ever on my blog yet!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Spin a yarn in Spinach - Palak Paneer

There are two reactions/incidents that come to mind when I think about today's choice for my recipe - a good and a not- so- good. Both memorable days in my cooking history. Lets start with the not-so-good and get it out of the way first.

A colleague at work asked me what my lunch was. I was still new at this job, and the only source of cultural diversity. His expression told it all...he didn't really want to know. When I asked him why, he said that my dish looked all gooey, that there was no texture to it. 'Vegetables are supposed to be crisp and el dente', he said. 'Mashed potatoes are all gooey', I said. 'Yeah well, they're potatoes, not veggies'. Needless to say, he turned down my offer to at least try a bit from my lunch before hitting the 'Dislike' button.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

To Fry or Not To Fry? Crisp Okra Fry

I’ve been working on some of these blog posts for so long, that I’d practically forgotten that they were still not posted. The delay was in part due to laziness, and part due to circumstances. To get around laziness, I’ve decided to impose a rule on myself – at least two posts a month- with deadlines of the 15th and 30th. Whether circumstances allow or not, is still to be seen. I will definitely try my best though. And for now, humor me by pretending that this one belongs in November, even though it’s posted on the first day of December.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Find; and A Dish.

Last month, when a new Wegmans opened in our area, I just had to go there. For those of you who don't know of this food store, it is one of those in league with Whole foods and Trader Joe's. May even be slightly higher end than those. And I'd heard so much about this store from a friend....So I went there...hubby and girls in tow. And we looked and looked and looked. I just couldn't recognize anything in there. Not only the brand names they carry are different from the ones in a regular grocery store, but they had hundreds of things that I didn't know what they were.

" Are you going to buy anything or not?" asked my husband seeing that my shopping cart was gloriously empty after about a half hour, except for a water melon and a jar of almond butter.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Simple Pleasures : My Favorite Comfort Food

I started this blog as a punching bag for my bottled up thoughts and frustrations, accompanied with food of course - for you can't let the guests leave hungry! It was meant to wrap around my moods; that I could pursue at my pace, with no pressures or deadlines to meet. That is why I have tried never to write around event announcements. So that day when I stumbled upon this leftover makeover announcement, I didn't really pay much attention. Except that little poke in the back of my brain that kept pointing towards my favorite food in the whole world. I had to have it, and I had to write about it so I can share it with you all. Just because this dish is such a unique and refreshing makeover of leftover rice. I haven't seen or heard anyone outside of my family to even know of this prep. And that brings us to the story for this post....

So, if you've been good about following me (did you get the pointer :-)?), you'd know by now that I'm part Rajasthani. My mom and her two brothers grew up in western Rajasthan, almost bordering Pakistan. That is where we went every year for our summer holidays, till I went to college. Naani's home is a magical place during childhood. Now I look back with nostalgia; those days, we laughed at our endearing, but very earthy naani and her small dusty town. Compared to big city Delhi, my naani's town was an overgrown village. Very dusty unpaved roads, streets crowded with strays, especially cows and pigs (I'm not kidding!!); and my naani's whimsical foods. Bari aur papad ki sabzi stands out the most in my mind, followed by turai ke chilke ki sabzi and tarbooz ke chilke ki sabzi. I hope all of you reading this know hindi, because I can't even begin to translate these things. My dad and I would actually sit and snicker about what naani was going to serve right under her nose. I'm sure she knew what we were upto, but she never complained. This is where my earliest memory of Chawali is from.

Despite the initial skepticism, I found that I loved it. But when mom actually started making this at home in Delhi, especially for me, that is when dad switched camps and he and my bro started snickering at mom and I! I've kept up with this dish though. It is my favorite comfort food and an excellent use of leftover rice. Moreover, now both my daughters love it. I now actually make sure I have leftovers the day I make plain white rice, so we can enjoy this the next day. Here's the recipe for you.
Chawali
(Rice in a milk-based sauce)
Leftover rice: 1 measure
Milk: 1 1/2 measures
Water: 1/2 measure
Ghee : 1tsp
Cumin seeds 1/2 tsp (for tempering)
Red chilli powder : 1/2 tsp
Salt: 1tsp (suit to taste)
  1. Heat the ghee in a saucepan and splutter your cumin seeds in it. Add the chilli powder and let it smoke for a min or so. My mom said that the more you let the chillis burn, the less pungent they become, and in this dish, you don't want the heat, but the color from chilli powder.
  2. Add the water now- stay away for the ghee is going to spatter like crazy. Protect yourself at this point.
  3. Now add the salt, and let the water come to a wild boil.
  4. Next add your milk. Again, my mom said that if you mix milk and salt, you'd curdle the milk. So make sure your salt boils in water for a good 2-3 min before putting the milk in.
  5. Finally, add your leftover boiled white rice, and let the whole thing come to a boil. Lower the heat for a few min.
That's it. If you're brave enough to try it, let me know what you think about my Chawali!  

My two cents: None what so ever. I love this dish and my daughters too. Naani used to break up a chappati into small pieces and dump it into my Chawali, so I've also called this preparation Chawal ki sabzi. Actually, that is exactly how I present this food to my daughters (and myself). They get to eat rice, bread and milk all in the same bowl; making me the happiest mom on earth!! Oh, and just a thought- I always make my rice with a tsp of salt. If you don't, then you might need to adjust it accordingly in your Chawali.

Linked to:
Cooking without Onion & Garlic at Ammaji's recipes