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

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

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......

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Reposting for Herbs and Flowers-Fenugreek

I had all intentions of entering a new dish for Herbs and Flowers event this month. I actually had two recipes in mind that I was so excited about. But lazy me. Never got the time to get to an Indian store to buy Methi leaves.

Then, on Friday- Friday the 13th, in case you guys missed the significance- I drove towards the parking lot of my bank to get cash; for my Indian store guy doesn't take credit. And drove right into  the ledge of a flower bed. Major damage to my almost brand new Lexus. My first accident since I started driving full time. And all thoughts of getting the  money or cooking that night evaporated. We actually ate out on Friday - A's attempt to ease me out of my crying spell!!. Am still feeling low. So please, please be my friends and just accept these reposts. I'll post the new recipes as soon as I recover from the shock of a 1200$ repair estimate!

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.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Daily Dinner (5): Navratri Thali with Buckwheat Vegetable Pancakes


Day 2 of Navratri fasting, and I was already missing food...a lot. These 9 days of fasting eliminates all grains, legumes and a host of spices from our food, two-times a year. While I am pretty liberal when it comes to restricting my regular spices, I do make an effort to eliminate grains. Like all these past years, my initial promise to myself was that I'd only permit myself fruits during   Navratri - one; or maybe two, times a day. And just like always, this promise barely lasted the first day of fasting. A while ago I wrote about how fasting always seems to draw my mind's eye towards food. I actually proved this point yesterday when during the drive back home,every traffic light I crossed seemed to me a big plateful  of forbidden food- savory stuff, not the sweet-like-fruit food. The wheels in my mind whirred and started taking me to spots in my pantry and fridge that I'd vowed to forget about.  This wasn't going to work....and so my new resolution was to serve myself a full thali of Navratri food

Monday, March 7, 2011

An Aquired taste: Aloo- Methi ki Sabzi

I was so apprehensive about buying a house in the suburbs 4yrs. ago. We were moving out from the school campus into a more 'family-friendly' zone, except that everything was so far away.  Where earlier I could  hear even my neighbor's breath through the apartment's walls, now I'd see no one until I  drove down a mile (that's a slight exaggeration, but you know what I mean). So, one of the first things that the FM's did  to seal the deal with us in exchange for our signature at the dotted line, was to drive us down to what they claimed was the 'best produce store ever'. "You won't get anything like the stuff here at any grocery store", they claimed.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Golden Sunshine: Makkai ka Zucchini Paratha

Unexpectedly, it is a beautiful, warm and sunny day today. A taste of spring to come . After months of cold and snow, it is nice to see the sun come out bold and bright. I may sound cliche, but seeing the sun come out and light up everything did ease my gloominess - part of which was as a result of my recent health problems. The snow has really started to melt and I can see bald patches in my lawn, where grass will spring up...soon, I hope. The trees look like they're ready to sprout and I can't wait to start thinking about a vegetable patch again this year. I've spent the past couple of hours sitting outside, and just soaking up the beauty of this day. And reminiscing....

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.