Showing posts with label appetizer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label appetizer. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Creamy Vegan Borscht

I had heard about Borscht several years ago- from a Russian colleague. The way I remember that story was her complaining about having to change her mom’s signature Borscht recipe because her Jewish husband wouldn’t eat it. So she switched to her mother-in-law’s recipe; and wasn’t that great a fan of it as her own (obviously….). I don’t recall what went into particular version, but I remember looking it up online and deciding that I wouldn’t like it because it had Beets in it.

After all, I am a staunch beet-hater (even though I’d never tasted them in my life….until I made this Swedish pickled beet salad)

The second time I looked up Borscht was maybe a year ago…again, from a newly-arrived-to- US couple from Armenia. They were educating me about the many vegetarian dishes from their country that I could eat - all because not only had I tread forth and tried out their potato pancakes, but actually liked them. They gave me a quick run down too…and again I convinced myself that I would never eat something with beets- or cabbages…..

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-

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Weekend Morning Brunch with Samosa

We grew up in a time when schools and offices in India dictated a 6-day work-week rule. To re-affirm Sunday as his day off from work, my dad did all the things that he normally wouldn’t on a week-day. He was always an early riser, but on Sundays, he made tea for mom and himself.   He also let her sleep that extra half-hour - a big concession since he was a stickler for time and schedule. My dad was also a foodie, as well as overtly conscious of hygiene. He loved eating spicy chaat and “gourmet" food; but then insisted that his digestion-related issues were because of the unhygienic conditions of the roadside stalls rather than his over-eating. In his mind, the perfect solution was to start a Sunday Brunch tradition where he insisted that we break free of the dal-roti-sabzi routine and cook something “special". My mom wasn’t too keen initially; but he promised her he would help her with getting the brunch started. And he kept his promise as far back as I can remember….

One of the first recipes I remember him bringing home is that of a Samosa. He had it on a piece of a greasy, lined notebook sheet, with step-by-step diagrams for my mom to follow. He said he’d given 10 rupees to his favorite roadside-samose-waale-panditji for the recipe. Mommy was so miffed, that she refused to make it for him. So him and I sat down with a bowl full of all-purpose flour and emptied a big jug of water to make the pastry dough. And then, we were stuck- for the recipe said to break the dough into balls while we had a river of white gooey stuff in our bowl…nowhere near a dough that you could break balls out of….The samose-waale-panditji, in all his wisdom, hadn’t bargained for complete novices trying to replicate his recipe. 

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.....

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.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Seyal Bread- or Bread Upma

The very first childhood friend I can recall was a very pretty little girl who lived two doors down from us. She was a year older than me. We met when we hadn't even started school, and remained friends till her marriage right after graduation. Those early years, we were inseparable. She was Sindhi, and I loved her mom's food. Around 4pm, her mom would stand on the balcony and call me- that was her tea time, and she always made a warm "tiffin" to go with it, which I devoured.

Those early years, all our dolls married each other....until that last time......

My uncle brought me a life-sized baby doll that could walk, talk and blink her eyes from some far-away land. The day after I showed off my "Rosie" to my friend, she fished out an old moth-eaten bean-bag doll and declared that we should have a massive wedding for them. All aflutter, I agreed. we set up a roof-top tent on a warm summer evening. My mom stitched up a red dress for Rosie, while my friends' doll got boys' clothes and a turban. The menu included those little sweet Sindhi rotis that I think were called Loli; and my mom's chole-chawal. We were happy enough to invite our younger siblings to the wedding, and serve food in my "real" China dinner set- again a gift from my sailor uncle from some mysterious land.  Our brothers provided music by beating out-of-sync on their drums, while my friends' younger sister was the designated gypsy dancer. All went smoothly.  My bride arrived in my brother's prized, battery-operated car. We sang, danced and had a very fun wedding. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Shakargandhi-ki-Chaat - Easy Peasy Lemon Sqeezy

Through winter and spring in Delhi, Shakargandhi was a common sight at vegetable vendors. Stacked right next to the potato piles, the two were barely distinguishable. My mom had 2 ways of cooking up this tuber- the first, bury them deep underneath the koyla and wood. in the angeethi (wood-burning stove) and not worry about it for a couple hours at least; gave the best, smoky, juicy shakargandhi ever, The second, teeny-bit less on flavor, but definitely faster was to use a heavy iron tava (griddle) on a very low flame. She never cut up the shakargandhi, and she never used oil. And I could never resist either version....
 
Here in USA, I tried to make Shakargandhi on a hot tava like my mom. Never got it. They got too mushy, the flesh stuck to their skin, and I got very little out of them. When my mom came to visit, she tried to make them as well, without success. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

My "cook" shelf is growing...


A quick note...to break the monotony of all the other writing I've been doing today....

Last week A came back with a bunch of books for me from the library's bin-sale.  Apparently he thinks that since I write mostly about food in this blog, I have a keen "interest " in cooking.  Little does he know that the best vacation I ever had was the one where all the food came with the lodging, so all I had to venture out was from the pool to dining room :-)) 

At any rate, now I am the proud owner of 5 cook books- the first one is going back to the library bin since it has almost no vegetarian dishes, the second one are "slow cooker" recipes- again mostly meat. But doesn't matter since I don't own a slow cooker- yet.  I  doubt if I even glanced at the other ones. The one that caught my eye and I most certainly intend to use is the one that is sort of like a diary where you can jot down the name of the restaurant you dined in, along with your order and comments.  Going through the month of December in this diary I found a whole page with printed matter.  Curious, I went through it....

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 10, 2012

The saga of Gobhi Manchurian

When we were in school, there weren't many options for eating out - at most, this indulgence was restricted to an occasional evening of eating typical Delhi street food- chaat, gol-gappe, aloo-tikki or samosa with my mom.
When I got into college - run by a very prominent NGO from South India - I acquired a serious taste for South Indian fare that the college canteen offered (those idlis were definitely to die for). A little later, strengthened by our scholarships and some allowance from our parents, we ventured out to nearby "restaurants" - where you could either get South Indian; or so called Chinese. I always gravitated towards the South Indian fare at these excursions, just because someone, somewhere told me that the "soy sauce" used in Chinese food was made from fish.  In a country, at a time, where food labels were practically non-existent, it was easy to accept information from others (it may be hard to believe; but there was an era when iPhones or Google were unheard of :-)) The only Chinese food I'd eat was fortune cookies!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Desi Sloppy Joe Or Paav-Bhaji

Very early on in our marriage,  I learnt that A was a huge fan of Western Indian cuisine - a consequence, he explained, of having lived there for a big chunk of his "after-school-life".

Very early on in my role as a mother, I learnt that Anya won't try A's favorite Paav-Bhaaji unless I could convince her (or  SHE could convince herself) that her 'non-Indian' classmates also ate the same thing. 

This is how the "Indian Sloppy Joe" came into existence in my house.  And believe it or not, it was actually Anya who coined the term.  She must've been in preschool when at sleep-time one day she excitedly told me that her classmate had brought a Sloppy Joe for lunch.

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!

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.  

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, 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.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Weekend Chronicles- with Bread Pakora


Quite an eventful week it turned out to be. 

First came the earth-shaking excitement of a 5.9 magnitude earthquake in the middle of the work week. Nobody could figure out what was responsible for our jiggling PowerPoint, shaking building and electricity blink during our weekly meeting. Of the various explanations put forth, the first one was that a plane had crashed into our building; afraid of a WTC repeat, most people prepared to jump out the windows (thank goodness everyone in the group is scared of heights- even if it is just the 4th floor).  Then we moved on to an equally outrageous subway explosion (the lines do run under our building) and a relatively sensible truck-crash with our building's loading dock (that happens to sit right below the conference room). The truck story also assumed explosive proportions by speculating that it might be a gas-tank truck: the one which brings huge cylinders of oxygen, nitogen and other medical gases to us. It was a breathless-with-fear South American colleague that mentioned an earthquake. The excitement that followed was astronomical!  The rest of the meeting, we brainstormed whether we sat on  dynamic earth plates, if End of the World Prediction included August 2011 and   whether to evacuate or not!!