Showing posts with label main dish. Show all posts
Showing posts with label main dish. Show all posts

Monday, February 20, 2017

When my Soup became Dinner!!


Scenario one:
Is that lentil soup?”
No- it’s sambhar ”
What’s it made of?”
Lentils, tomato, onions, water, spices…..
So…it IS lentil soup”!

Scenario two:
What do you do to get everyday protein if you don’t eat eggs or meat”.
All our meals have a bean or lentil dish. That’s protein”.
What kind of lentil dish?”
I cook lentils with water, saute onion, tomato spices etc, add to lentils…
So you make soup
No….it’s a dal. To eat with rice or bread
But it IS a soup”!

Over time, I figured it was easier to to consider my dal as “lentil soup”when eating lunch with colleagues in US.  But, somewhere, at the back of my mind, a soup was a starter- served at the beginning of a meal. The mere mention of soup takes me back to my mom’s  soups- restricted to tomato soup; carrot & tomato soup or spinach-carrot-tomato soup; all spiced with ginger, cumin and salt. She cooked her vegetables, pureed them and then strained them before serving. We’d all get a small bowl of it about 30min before dinner during winter. They were all clear liquids, meant to enhance appetite.Soup as main course; or a full mean was an alien concept.

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.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Daily Dinner (20): Easy Weeknight Lasagna

Have you struggled with time getting away from you? Not wanting to compromise on home-cooked, comforting family meals on a weeknight, and not knowing how to? I do. I can whip up an regular Indian meal for my family of four in an hour or less. But when I hear “not dal-roti-sabzi” again, I draw a complete blank. That being said, I have gotten pretty adept at sneaking and quickly passing off a lot of my food in a newer non-Indian avatar. The girls lap it up. Take my weeknight quesadilla dinner or re-inventing our very own Paav Bhaaji as the vegetarian Sloppy Joes.  But as the girls get older, hoodwinking them is becoming more and more difficult.

Which is why I keep trying out new recipes. The winners always are the cheesy, non-spicy dishes across the board- which is probably why Italian is the food-of-choice for both my daughters. I still use a lot of jarred and boxed ingredients in coming up with a non-Indian meal…but lets just take one step at a time. Today’s story is about my journey in the world of vegetable (mostly spinach) lasagna.

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.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Dee-Day (2): Rajmah-Chawal - a guest post by Harpreet

Friendship hits one with uncanny unpredictability. Many many years ago, when A planned a vacation with a colleague from work in New York, I wasn't expecting to make a life-long friend. They were a newly wed couple- she gregarious and loud, he shy and forever smiling. They complemented each other beautifully. In less than an hour, I knew all about her. Nothing about him, except that he loved her! Soon thereafter, they moved to the West Coast. But we kept in touch, first via email, then the social media.  In the past decade, we've hardly met   twice. But I feel like she never went away. Of the things I admire about her, the biggest is her enthusiasm in all things in life. Like a true-bred Punjaban, she grabs the bull by the horn, and rides on uproariously. A working mom with two daughters, she still finds time to come up with these amazing Halloween costumes for her girls or to go one-on-one dates with her  husband. She had expressed a desire to start blogging when I first started to write. So she was a natural choice to go to for this second guest piece. I am humbled by how quickly she obliged….

Here's Harpreet, with her tribute to her mom, mother-in-law; and of course to herself as a mom with this very quirky Rajmah story. A point to note, she uses the pink Chitra Rajmah variety in her dish. In my previous post, I'd used the dark red beans. The difference, of course, is in the cooking times and meatiness of the texture. Read on for a true authentic Punjabi version of Rajmah:

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)……

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Panchmel Daal- no onion or garlic.

Making Indian dals look appetizing in a photograph has got to be the trickiest thing ever. I haven't been able to master the art at all.  Which is one of the reasons why my dal posts lie languishing away, gathering dust for ages....as did this one. Then, this past weekend, I had the pleasure of dining with some dear friends. Her mom is visiting from India; and she had made Panchmel dal for dinner.  We played the guessing game for a while, then she finally revealed what went in the dal. I was quite surprised; mostly because despite having the same ingredients, her Panchmel tasted so different from mine.  Guess it is all in a mom's touch....!! But then that dinner prompted me to brush some dust away; and picture or not, this old post is going to see the light for for sure.

Panchmel dal- as the name suggests- is a mixture of five dals; or lentils. You usually mix the lentils with comparable cooking times. In my family, the mix is made up of skinned moong dal (split green gram), red masoor dal (whole red lentils), chane-ki-dal (split Bengal gram), arhar (split red gram) and urad dals (split black gram).  Panchmel dal as a preparation was always considered a delicacy and held in high esteem; reserved for special occasions, such as a son-in-law's visit. Typically served as an accompaniment with baati, or missi roti with dollops of hot, melted ghee on top...

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Bhature - A Punjabi Flat Bread

I just came back from a 10-day vacation. My plan, apart from doing everything else you do while on vacation, was to catch up with blogging. In anticipation, I loaded up a few pictures, and saved a couple of draft versions of posts.  While I was doing that, I realized that this space of mine has become therapeutic to me. Writing relaxes me; but I have also become addicted to all the lovely comments that you all leave me. The last 10 days, I actually had severe withdrawl symptoms.

The one day I remember, is while visiting some family in Sweden. She made Chole-bhature for dinner. But somehow, her dough for Bhature got too sticky. They were hard to roll, and wouldn't puff up. I asked her her recipe, and realized it was quite a bit different from mine. So I figured, I'd share how I make this quintessential Punjabi flat bread. This may not be an authentic recipe, but this is how my mom told me I could make a fairly sticky dough manageable...and it works quite well.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Bhindi ki Sabzi- without the slime....


A couple years ago, I went looking for okra seeds to plant in my little vegetable patch. The lady at the counter in this quaint little organic farm stared at me for a while before finally speaking out her mind...."why on earth would you want to plant okra?" The confusion must have shown on my face, because she went on to elaborate...."okra is nasty...slimy and gross. Pick something else to plant- I have cucumbers, tomatoes- everything else except okra."

By the time I walked out of that nursery, I realized that the world can be divided into okra-haters like the plant lady; and okra-lovers a.k.a moi.....

Till that conversation, I had not even noticed the slime that okra generates when cooking. After that, I became obsessed with trying to find a way to cook crispy okra....

Friday, May 17, 2013

Daily Dinner (17): Rajma Rasedaar

This then, is the prelude to last week's post. 

The only thing I loved more than rice growing  up, was Rajma...

The ongoing joke was that for me to get married, my maama (maternal uncles) will have to make sure that I had enough Rajma-chawal to last me my whole life. For no one in Rajasthan (in my naani's world) ate either rice or kidney beans....

My grandma (naani) had not seen Rajma (red kidney beans) till they shifted base to Bhatinda, Punjab.  And then, all the age-old inhibitions came to the front. She never learnt to cook or eat these beans. To her, the color, shape and meatiness of them was a big put off. To some extent she even refused to believe that red kidney beans were a plant product.....not so, though, for my mom's younger siblings. All four of them would scout the neighborhood Punjabi families, and make themselves available at whoever's table was serving Rajma

Monday, March 4, 2013

Khumb Matar

If you grew up in Northern India, you've probably heard kids refer to wild mushrooms as "Saamp ki Chatri" or a snake's umbrella. The local kiddie legend is that snakes seek refuge under these mushroom umbrellas during the rainy season, and leave their poisonous sting in them. No doubt aimed at keeping pesky little curious buggers from eating those wild mushrooms..... the fable totally instilled a gross dislike of mushrooms in me. Most of my childhood, I never saw mushrooms other than the ones that sprung up on the sidewalks during monsoons.  Yes they came up for sale in the high-end produce stores, but we never got them. My aversion for them was fanned by these old-wives "Jain" tales of how mushrooms harbor live bugs inside their fleshy "umbrellas". And if you ate them, you had to atone for taking millions of little lives :-)) Didn't help that when I came up to major in Botany in college, the first fact about mushrooms we learnt was that it is a "parasitic fungus" - instigating nightmares about flesh-eating, mold-like mushroom spreading it's roots inside my gut and choking my innards to death.......all in all, I hate mushrooms.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Humble Beginnings: Khichdi

In a country as diverse as India, where language, religion, clothes, celebrations....anything you name,  changes within a few miles, the humble Khichdi holds fort as one unifying force. Gujrat may like its khichdi with Kadhi, and the Southern states may call it Pongal, it still remains a rice and lentil comfort food across India. In Eastern India, it represents traditional Pooja food. At many Kali Baris in Calcutta and at the Jagannath temple in Orissa, we've been handed this out as Prasad after a Pooja. Around the locations that I'm familiar with- Rajasthan, Haryana and Delhi- it is a simple dish strictly meant for family times, never ever made for guests or visitors. According to Wikipedia, Khichdi, believed to have originated in South Asia, went global with the British who concoct their own version with fish and eggs and call it Kedegree! And recently, I came across the mention of an Arabic dish called Mujahadra that is nothing but ....our Khichdi

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.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Daily Dinner (12): Simplicious Yakhni Lauki

When I was in bed sick last year,  friends around us took care of feeding me and my family for a very long time.  Although I was on restricted diet, A got a taste sampler from all over India.  After the first week of liquids only, when I could eat semi-solid foods, a friend called and told A that she was going to bring me some kadhi, and Yakhni in the evening.  

 "Yakhni? Why didn't you remind her we're vegetarians?" 

"She must know- mustn't she? We've met at so many socials and broadcasted this fact to everyone.
Do you even know what Yakhni is?"- A retorted.

" Of course I know what that is- Yakhni is a Kashmiri meat dish. They even make it during Shraadh ceremonies (ancestor worship ceremonies that are very strictly satvik in my place- which meat is definitely considered not). And even the Kashmiri pundits (priests) eat it. She's Kashmiri- maybe she thinks that if pundits eat it,  we'll eat it too. I don't think Kashmiris really get what we mean by being vegetarians"

"All right, don't fret it", A said. "When they come, we'll ask her again."

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Daily Dinner (11): Meal- for- one- Vegetable Pulao

A's been travelling a lot recently. Don't get me wrong- it's not that I miss him when he's gone or anything like that (we've been married too long for me to be missing him- like really missing him).....I'm just telling you that he's been gone a lot recently. Although he doesn't do anything to help me around the house (as if I hadn't told you that a zillion times already); when he's gone, my tasks get multiplied 10-fold (just can't figure that one out for the life of me).  With him away, I find myself over exhausted and more irritated than usual (which he'll tell you isn't possible- the irritable part, I mean). With him gone, I also lose my reason, and my motivation, to cook. When he leaves, we spend the first couple of days polishing off the leftovers. By the third day or so, my girls get to choose between Maggi noodles or takeout Pizza (which makes them jump with undisguised joy, and makes me wonder why I spend so much time in the kitchen at all....). If he still isn't back, the girls get to eat cookies-and ice-cream for dinner while I make myself another cup of chai and glare morosely at my dried out toast (which dried because it sat too long while I sorted out which of the two girls had a bigger scoop of ice-cream in her bowl).  Most times, that is when fate intervenes and A comes back home - after calling me from the airport to let me know that he didn't get to eat lunch either (I'm not making this up- he always says that...) - and I thankfully gather my pots and pans and plan a menu in my head again.

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.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Rajasthani Khatta Kadhi: A meal out nothing (almost)!

A friend who fasts one day a week was contemplating the other day about her dinner options - restricted as she was by the rules of her fast. She said she was bored out of her mind eating aloo-tamatar every time that she fasted. And somehow, in trying to brainstorm onion and garlic free choices for dinner with her, the topic of Kadhi came up. I suggested it; and she looked shocked.  Apparently, she's never made this North Indian staple without the quintessential onion. And as far as I can think, in my home, we've never used onion in Kadhi. Yes, you could add onion pakoras in it, if making Punjabi Kadhi. But it isn't required, and tastes just as awesome. In fact, the Rajasthani version of Kadhi, known as the Khatta Kadhi in my home, is a lighter, more liquidy dish than the Punjabi Kadhi so popular in Delhi. It is also my go to dish on the days that my fridge is glaringly empty of all vegetables - including potatoes and onions!! A very simple, 2 ingredient dish (you basically need yogurt and a few Tbsp of besan to make this), this is a hands down winner in my choices for onion-less meals. And I really recommend this friend of mine to try it some time....


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.