Showing posts with label vegetables. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vegetables. 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.

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, 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. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

15-bean Vegetarian stew in a slow cooker

Today, I want to talk about now. No stories, no memories.

A couple weeks ago, a recipe of Panchmel Dal that I's submitted to a fabulous event called My Legume Love Affair, first started by Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook was chosen to be a winner of the giveaway. As a result, I became the proud owner of a gift basket sponsored by Hurst Beans.  Then, in a separate pack, Susan sent me this great looking soup spoon. I couldn't wait to try the great bean selections I'd got.


My Gift from Hurst Beans courtesy Hurst Beans.

Friday, October 4, 2013

10 Recipes for Navratri

Tomorrow marks the beginning of Navtri- literally translated: nine nights.

Navratris come twice a year- a whole 8-days of fasting with a pretty rigid diet rules.  The one in the fall is especially important though. Bengalis celebrate it as Durga Puja, and Gujrati festivities include girls in pretty clothes dancing Garba all night. Punjabi community in our part of Delhi was known to set up community praying events known as Mata-ki-Chowki; was pretty fun, albeit a bit loud!  Traditionally meant to celebrate the power of Goddess of Durga, the win of good over evil- in my home it was celebrated by  7 days of all fruit and vegetable diet with a celebration of the girl child on the 8th day.  No real festivities for us - just the fasting and praying. As a child, the real incentive was being invited to all our neighbors houses for a meal; and a token gift. 

Although religion does play a major part; it isn't all that drives my fasting ritual. Growing up, my brother and I had a pretty dismissive view of religion and tradition. In our minds, if it was tradition, it was ambiguous and meant to be discarded. Till some one twisted religion into science for me. I fast- because it detoxifies. A gluten-free diet every 6 months can be extremely beneficial to overall health. ...and girls, in a patriarchal Indian society, are pretty precious. So no hard feelings for giving them a week of fun and festivities :-)

Monday, August 26, 2013

Of 150 ramblings; 4 years; and things gone right....

When the dashboard threw out the number at me, I was surprised. Didn't know I could persist as long as I have, in this blogging atmosphere. A bit over 4years (started on Aug 9th 2009), and this post today will be my 150th. Just goes on to say that I jabber too much :-) Jokes aside, it's your support through all this time that kept the motivation alive.  This blog started as a means to relieve some of those feelings that threatened to suffocate me. It stayed private for a few years, open only to some family and close friends. My Life & Spice became a public blog at the insistence of my "bitter-better half" :-) And there has been no looking back since......

 I couldn't have done it without either A or those of you who are regulars at the blogger site and those that keep the encouragement flowing through my Facebook page. It is for you all that I keep it up through everything else that comes up in everyday life, sharing my trials and errors in the kitchen.

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. 

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

Friday, April 12, 2013

Ebinyebwa or Ugadan Peanut Stew: A New Twist to Navratri.


Food somehow has a way of bringing people together....

There have been times that I've had random strangers walk up to me, and comment on my home-packed lunch. Many times, I've done the same. A lot of students have asked to, or offered me, a taste of what we've got for lunch.  Many a times, I have picked up a recipe or two following our interaction over food. The two that immediately come to mind, and that I've shared on this space are Buckeyes, and Watergate salad. There are several others, random scraps of paper, that are just waiting to be tried.   Waiting for me to garner up my courage and take a dive....But rarely have I had a vision of the occasion that I would try the recipe at flash before my eye while hearing someone speak of it; until now.

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.

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......

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.

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.  

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Blackeyed Pea Soup for a rainy day

The days are definitely shorter now; not entirely due to turning back the clock to end daylight savings time either. There's a nip to the morning air,  trees are more bare than beautiful and this past week, my drive to work has been accented with lots of rain and fog. We're definitely getting to the days where a hearty bowl of hot soup can cheer up even the hungriest of the back from work/school crowd.  I am not really a huge 'soup' person. Mostly, I feel that the 'daals' I make every night should pass off as 'soups'......if you know what I mean.  So my occassional real-soup-making is limited to weekends when the family rambles in with a "we're hungry again"....like maybe 10 minutes after eating lunch! The girls like only tomato soup and will pick out everything that they can; till I get sneaky and add in an occassional carrot and puree it in there. A doesn't care. Sometimes I feel like he eats just like he does everything else...with a wandering mind. Which is why when his eyes actually focus on what's in front of him is my cue that he liked his food.  With this bowl of black eyed pea soup, I got A's focus everytime, plus a clean plate from Anya AND a request for "white ball daal" for two consequetive days from baby P!

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....!!

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. 

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