Showing posts with label side dish. Show all posts
Showing posts with label side dish. 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, 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)……

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, 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...

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!

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."

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Creamy Potato Salad with cottage Cheese


I saw two of my former colleagues some time ago. They were both standing by a food truck outside ordering huge portions of sinful-looking delicious food with enormous sides of fries- french fries for one and onion rings for the other.  All the while, were excitedly pointing out to each others mid sections whilst bursting into giggles every second.  They were so immersed with each other that they totally did not see me.  I slid away unnoticed, and made a mental note of which one was having a boy, and who would be holding a tiny, pink bundle soon. 

Seeing them by those food trucks also made me nostalgic. When I was pregnant with Anya, I developed a serious sweet tooth. Not only did I crave sweets, I craved only one sweet- 'boondi ke laddoo'. At that time, there were no real Indian stores around campus that sold sweets. Yes you could buy dal-atta-chawal, but that was pretty much it. Both my mom and MIL tried sending me ladoos from India with friends- but one guy forgot them at home; and the other had to surrender them at the Airport Immigration. All my unfulfilled craving came to me in the form of a 5 pound 1ounce bundle who'd eat nothing, except serious sugar.  My mom said that my baby was so tiny and so fussy because I didn't get those ladoos..

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.  

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Baingan-ka- bharta: Bring on Brinjals!!


It took me a while to start calling a baingan; an eggplant. Back in India it was always Brinjal in English. My dad was actually pretty convinced that the English derived the word Brinjal from Hindi baingan. Knowing my dad, he probably made up that assumption. But he sure believed it. When I told him that Americans called baingan an eggplant because it sort of looks like an egg; he dismissed it with his typical 'oh what do you know voice'.  His arguement; 'baingan may be long, or short,  skinny or fat, round or egg shaped; BUT they're PURPLE. Hence, they don't look like eggs!' Sometimes, I wish I'd had a chance to show him the white eggplant that I used for my stuffed roundels recipe. That would have scored with him somewhat...I think....!!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Daily Dinner (9): A Festive Thali: and Chana Masala my way.

Back in North India, you'll often hear the saying that the month of saawan, along with cooling Monsoons, also ushers in the festive season. Almost every week from now on till summer, we see an array of festivities, and an alternating pattern of Fasting and Feasting. As a child, I waited anxiously for the first rains - looking forward just as much to an uninhibited soaking in those much-awaited showers as to the other fun things - Mehendi on my hands, fragrant mogra in the hair, a home-made swing in the doorway leading out on to our terrace and tons of goodies from my mom's kitchen. Everything came alive  during the rains; and I loved the smell of summer-baked earth and new grass. Then came those vendors with baskets on their bicycles selling all sorts of seasonal delicacies- phalsa, jamun, fire-roasted bhutta with tons of lemon and masala and sand-popped popcorn.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Two of a kind- Koftas Baked & Fried


Ever heard of a saying: 'Necessity is the mother of invention'. Never did it ring so true  for me as this past month. Just about two-weeks of a restricted diet was wrecking havoc on my sanity. How long can one survive on moong-dal khichdi and bland, soupy lentils- I ask you. So as soon as the doctor mentioned returning to a regular diet- I was escatic.Except 'no fat, and low spice' rule sort of dampened the enthusiasm a bit. I realized that I'd have to come up with some way of keeping abreast with family food, along with taking care of my delicate digestion. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Deliciously Simple to Simply Delicious: Pindi Anardana Gobhi

I realize that the time I spend per week on this blog has gone up tremendously these past two months. (My bro rubbed this fact in yesterday when I talked to him- some things never change. I mean annoying siblings- let me not distract you however). But then I have a past as an obsessive journal writer.... As a kid, when I kept my daily journal, I wrote; oblivious to exams or laborious home works. Even getting punished for missed bed times didn't deter me. It was a beautiful navy blue leather-bound diary that I wrote in. And I tied it up with a rubber band and hid it under my pillow. The second one was brown leather. Then one day, my bro found them. And read them. And told everyone (my parents, that is, AND his buddies) my secrets from in there (see the relevance here- same annoying younger bro...). That was way too much exposure for a shy, melt-in-the-background tween/teen like me. I never wrote again. My dad tried, but I didn't. I think I burned my diaries in  an anti-sibling protest......

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!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Daily Dinner (6): A (almost) Jain Thali


Ending up with my "naani-centric" food on the table one night this week wasn't intentional. It just happened to be that I'd had to cook for lunch that morning, and I needed something that could be put together with minimal chopping and cook-time. So, I found a turai (ridge gourd) in my fridge. But I got greedy and tried to make up the quantity, so I'd have left-overs for dinner as well...and added the moong-ki-mangodi to it; ending up with my grandmother's quirky combination of turai-mangodi ki sabzi. However, driving back home from work, I realized that getting the kids to eat this sabzi for dinner would be an uphill battle, that I'd lose nevertheless; not to mention that I was craving something "soupy" for my sore throat. Which is how the "moong dal" idea evolved. It took A's observation for me to realize that our dinner that night was essentially free of all root vegetables and tomatoes to make it true to the "Jain" tradition- very similar to the dinners we'd eat at our naani's.

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.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Thats Some Hot Stuff- stuffed Poblanos

My life's spiraled quite out of control recently. Both at the personal, and professional front. The last month went by so fast, with the major fasting (Paryushan and Das Lakshan festivals for us) and feasting going on. Both girls celebrated their b'days within a week of each other. We had parties for their friends from school, and our friends. Then came Ganesh Chaturthi, and another round of festivities. Even though traditionally Ganapati is not a big festival where I come from, I have friends who celebrate it with all the fervor that I've come to associate it with .

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

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Something Happy, Something Sad, but All Delicious!!

August has always put me in a fast-forward mode. Since my childhood, I've greeted the month with growing excitement - the weather started cooling down a bit after sizzling summers, we could begin to see my favorite fruits- oranges and grapes at the vendors, plus the festivities began with Teej festival around this time. I loved putting on Mehandi and going out to shop for Ghevar, Shakkarpara and red and green glass bangles with my mom. When I was very little, my dad would even string up a rope in the bedroom doorway to make a jhoola for me to swing on. Teej meant Rakhi was around the corner, bringing forth another round of festivities and other goodies to enjoy. In the recent years, however, August has taken on a more melancholic symbolism for me. It reminds me of our days in the hospital, waiting on my dad in the ICU and our nights at home praying for his recovery. I still wait for Rakhi as before, not only for the festivities, or because I miss my bro, but because I can't seem to forget that that was our last celebration as a family with my dad. Now I just wish for the month of august to roll by fast, so I can banish my ghost of memories into a dark closet.