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.  

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Moong dal recipes- reposting for CWS- Mung beans.

It's gray and rainy and miserable outside. It is also pretty- when take a minute to pause. I've been sitting here by the window staring at the droplets falling across my window (dangerous to have an office with a window at work.....), trying to get some work done and only succeeding in craving for some chai and pakoras instead. I start to look back through my blog, and get hungrier by the minute. So finally, I decide to repost some old entries for an event that I really wanted to participate in, but missed .

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.

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" 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!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Coconut macaroons: and our Halloween Pumpkins

Just as the Diwali excitement seemed to be dying down, I got swamped with "What are we doing for Halloween" concerns. My uninterested "nothing" for an answer did not go very well with little anxious hearts.   "Can we at least go trick-or-treating with Vienna?" asked Anya. "Yes mommy. I be a butterfly with Bienna", chimed in baby P. A and I exchanged a look, 2 looks actually. One with a "no" (yours  truly); and the other with a "let them go" (A, of course). And the decision was made. I called Vienna's parents to ask about the plans, and got invited to a pre-trick-or-treating sweet tooth affair. Which meant that instead of getting to spend a lazy Sunday, I had to come up with something to take to their place.

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

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....

Sunday, October 16, 2011

(Hi)Story of Spaghetti....Squash

There is a history between me and Spaghetti Squash: a fall vegetable that looks like a smallish, oblong fruit I knew of as 'phoot (or fruit) kakdi' in Rajasthan. My extensive googling has not  got any hit to explain this fruit (the phhot kakdi; I mean) to you. So, to draw for you a mental picture, imagine a dull orange colored obling/ elliptical, smooth skinned fruit (sometimes with dark brown stripes along its length), about 8 inches in diameter at its widest. When cut open, the insides reveal very thin skin,   bright orange, melony-flavored flesh and a core that looks just like a melon. The taste, is somewhat in between that of a kakdi (not cucumber- but the long, light green kakdis of North India), and a not-so-sweet melon.  Or, if you know a spaghetti squash; then imagine that on the outside and a not-so-sweet melon on the inside.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Diwali party: starring Kesari Phirni!!

It's the season again. If we've just started thinking about Dussehera in past tense, can Diwali be far behind? The countdown to India's brightest festival has begun: clean and shine.
Meet and greet.
Feast and diet.

Lost and found!!
I'm talking about this picture now, if you're wondering. This picture from last year's Diwali season resurfaced a couple weeks ago as I was cleaning up my desktop to make a move out of my then-job. As I looked at the picture, I remembered how proud I'd been the day I clicked this. It was for a Diwali potluck at A's friend's. I

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sinfully sweet: Shakkarpara for Dusshera

Oftentimes, my everyday life is accented by memories of past that flash out of nowhere. I am, where I was in a different avatar long ago, and I just want to turn the clock back and be what I was and do what I did then. At times, this happens because I'm missing those days. More often than not, I feel like I want my children to experience the little things in life that marked my childhood. And never does this desire hit me harder than during the traditional Indian Holidays, when I think about the celebrations as they used to be - the sights, the sounds and the smells that ushered in our Holidays. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Daily Dinner (10):Another Fasting Thali; and 3 recipes in one!

It's that time of the year again. 

Six months ago, on this very space, I'd ranted about how fasting during Navratris makes me fixated about food. Now, you're going to hear some more of the same :-)). And before you judge me, I don't fast out of coercion. I do believe in all that Navratris stand for. Plus I also feel like, in terms of science, these twice-yearly fasts are a good cleansing for your system. Religion and science put together are a very forceful impact on my mind. 

But then again; this entire universe conspires against me when I'm fasting. How else would you explain that the morning of my first day of fast; my eyes get drawn to a box of gol -gappas that A had bought ages ago? And why did these gol-gappas chose this morning to make my mouth drool? As if this wasn't all that bad, a colleague at work brought in munchkins at 9am; another one brought in some absolutely yum looking chocolate chip cookie bars at 11am and the noon seminar had an array of delicious sandwiches. At the seminar, they never have enough vegetarian options to choose from; but yesterday.....someone was trying real hard to tempt me - is all I can say! That's my rant of the day....

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 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....

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Black & White Wednesday: Ceramic jug

I like souvenirs- just about as much as A hates them. I love exploring the little trinket stores on the boardwalk, antique stores in little towns along the route as we drive to our destination and even the touristy, brightly lit stores designated as "Souvenir stores". A will go to great lengths to avoid my souvenir shopping. An exception to this was his trip to Miami and Key West, right after Anya was born. I asked him to get me a souvenir from there; and he obliged by bringing me this ceramic jug....

Ceramic Jug's a beautiful jug; with yellow-beaked black birds and shining green leaves. Yellow-green vines make it's spout and handle. I just haven't figured out what it's meant for. There are no marks to show where it is from. A was prudent enough to throw out the packing before giving it to me, so I don't even know if it's supposed to be used or not. The spout is closed off, so it can't be used for pouring liquids - that I tried. As a result, it's sat there in my kitchen cabinet, the lone shot of color amidst my stark white dishes - and a reminder of the time when A went shopping for my souvenir.

Today, I've decided to show it to you via Susan's Black & White Wednesday. Feel free to let me know your thoughts on what it could be used for...

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.

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....!!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Once upon a vacation.....and an open palm chair for B & W Wednesday

We've had quite a slow summer this year. Being sick and recuperating took away most of the season. The girls have been pretty forgiving most of the time. But when Anya saw summer slowly ticking away, she asked to go to the beach 'just one time before school'. Thanks to Irene and a last minute cancellation,  we found a 4-day rental in Ocean City, Maryland. I wasn't completely convinced of getting good beach weather so soon after the hurricane, but we took our chance. The ocean was surprisingly calm, and blue skies dotted with kites.

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!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Sweet Fruits of Summer: Black and White Wednesday

My vegetable patch has been a late bloomer this summer, and a slow one. It isn't producing nearly as much, or as often as I'd like it to. But whatever I get, is precious. And I always archive my harvest in pictures. Here's my first attempt at documenting my trophies with black and white photography! This tomato was the star of my salad, while the pepper went into the aloo-shimla mirch ki sabzi.

Sweet Fruits of Summer:
A bell pepper; and an heirloom tomato.

Posting for Black and White Wednesday

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.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Echoes of Silence

I skipped along, marching step for step.                                    
My tiny hand curled around your finger tight.                            
Innocent and bright-eyed, happy and free,                                            
Every time I looked up at you,                                                 
I saw you smile down at me.                                                                

A vision flashed across my eye, I didn’t care,             

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Two year birthday, Rakshabandhan....and Besan-ka-Laddu.

Time flies...literally. Can't believe I started writing this blog two years ago today. I haven't really marked any milestones for my writing till now. But today, as I sat here penning my thoughts, I realized that my first post on this blog also celebrated the festival of Rakshabandhan. A nostalgic look back, and I realize that I wrote down the recipe for Paneer Nargisi exactly two years ago. So let me begin by thanking you all for your readership and support. I've made many new friends through this blog, and have gained a lot of exposure in the blogosphere. It couldn't have been possible about you all.

Another co-incidence is that my recipe for today is a Mithai (sweet) - just what we need to celebrate both a festival and a birthday.

Monday, August 8, 2011

When life hands you lemons.....For Chalks and Chopsticks

   I've been a silent reader of a food-fiction event called Of Chalks and Chopsticks for a very long time now. I'd like to say that I've pretty much read every piece of writing that appeared on this platform. I've even made up a bunch of stories; and imagined myself winning kudos from all those awesome writers in this group. If you haven't heard of me till now, that's probably because you can't get in my head. Today, my heart won. This is my first entry to celebrate the revival of Of Chalks & Chopsticks. Hope you like it...and if you don't; I'll just make Shikanji out of all the lemons you throw at me!

   Nimit gazed up at the sky. And sighed. What was it- like maybe his millionth sigh. He'd been sitting out here in the scorching sun for sure felt like hours. He'd tried reasoning with Malini through closed doors...and porch screen...and then through the kitchen window. He'd even threatened to break down the doors if she didn't let him back in. She just turned on her heels  and went about whatever she was doing on the stove.  

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. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A July update; and sweet welcome to August.

This past month was a god-send in terms of catching up with my reading. I was on complete bed rest for the first two weeks, and up and about with restrictions for the other two. Between hours of wait time at doctor's office and the luxury of chauffered drives to those visits, I managed to browse through numerous magazines. Then after I got my fill of day-time soaps and started to get antsy, A even drove me to the library to replenish my reading. Of the four books that I picked up, I actually finished three (and a half)- a pretty good feat considering that of late, I have really fallen behind. Now that I am back to work, reading times will again be few and far between. Till then, here is what I read.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Is this hot or what? Spicy, Tangy Imlaana.

The heat wave last week was painful. Even our poor old window air conditioner struggled to keep its cool. One of the days last week I remember I checked weather on A's iPhone, and we in Philadelphia, were hotter than our families back in Delhi. 
Between trying to keep my stiches from the surgery dry to prevent itching and  frequent demands of "can you make something cold to drink", I was just this close to losing it all. Which is when I was hit with a 3-way sword.

"Mommy, Anya finished off all the black juice", baby P wailed holding an empty Coke bottle.

"Can I just eat ice for dinner tonight?"; from Anya - forever looking to get out of having to eat..

"I have a headache from this heat- I think I'll lay down for a while. Do we have something cold to drink?" This was A.

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.

Friday, July 22, 2011

This & That; Plus some more. (And an almost recipe)

Raspberry Sharbat/Preserve
I was supposed to post this piece in June. But as always; more late than ever! This is what comes of excessive planning; is my lesson to myself. I had my blog posts for June all very well organized in my head. The content, the themes, the events. And it actually went well for the first couple of weeks, and then - life happenned; figurately speaking of course! Which is all right, because now, I get to not only talk about what I read in June this year, but also what culinary inspirations came out of it!

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

Friday, July 8, 2011

A cup cake is.....a cake in a cup

The summer of 2007, we were a work place full of pregnant ladies. 3 to be exact; all due within 4 months of each other. Looking back, I think only two of other female colleagues had escaped the pregnancy bug that summer; only because they were not committed yet! Plus we had many other friends that got pregnant that year. We had loads of fun comparing notes on aches and pains, doctors' visits and all matters icky related to pregnancy. We'd spend more time onliine looking at baby sites and ultrasound pictures than working! Those were fun times.... and it was that summer that I came across this recipe...rather the recipe came across my way.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

One Step Forward, Two Back.....

Life has such a tendency to throw you out on a spin when you least expect it, to leave you breathless and open-mouthed and wanting to ask SOMEONE "now what the h*** did YOU do that for?"  I really wish there was a way to rewind life periodically and take a peek at what went wrong where. I don't even want an 'Edit' control ....just a plain 'Review', and then the "Aa Haa!' moment.  Then maybe I wouldn't begrudge all the punches that seemingly come out of the blue and shatter my mirrored wall of Existence. If I had my answers, SOME answers, I'd probably take all that came my way with a grin and a pinch of salt. As of now; I'm left pretty much feeling like a beached fish after a flash flood. There is absolutely no sensible explanation to my last week...any way I look at it.

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!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Baking basics: Jeera Biscuit

I spend a lot of luggage-space bringing back food from India, both when we travel (which isn't often enough) and when I get my MIL to visit us. This past month, while A was busy finalizing his mom's travel plans, I was scribbling down hundreds of "most wanted" items. Then everything went haywire when he told me the new Airlines baggage policy, and asked me to pare down my almost nothing! The first things that got thrown off the list were my Jeera Biscuits, ostensibly because these are available in Indian stores in US. A refuses to believe that somehow the ones from back home are just different. Not to mention that they evoke special memories for me..........

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Daily Dinner (7): An Indi-Mexi Thali and a Quiz

Today's post is a lost-and-found affair. I took this picture and uploaded it, but it got lost amidst the cluttered desktop. Then I found the pic again, wrote a writeup, and thought I'd saved and posted it. Recently, while cleaning  up my laptop, I came across the picture again. Before deleting, thought I'd check back to confirm that I COULD  delete it...and realized that this post was nowhere on my blog. Keeping my fingers crossed,  hoping that  today I'll finally push the "PUBLISH"  button after this write up is done and not lose it for the third time.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Awards and Tags....

I am walking on cloud nine, to say the very least. Fajeeda, of Faji's Hot Pot, has passed down a plethora of awards to me. Now I've drooled over these awards displayed on your blogs, and wistfully pined to get them myself. But never in my dreams did I imagine that I'd actually get them. So thank you, Dear Faji, for visiting my blog and liking it enough to send these awards my way. I can't tell you how this gesture has inspired me. I will always cherish this first award moment and this will definitely go a long way in keeping the motivation to blog alive in me.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Beat the Heat: With Spicy Hot Kaanji

Maturing in the sun- Kaanji
This past Friday, while I rambled on about my backyard and flowers, I also showed you a picture and asked you to guess what was in that bottle. My friend Ila was the only one who took a guess, and she is right on. The bright red thing is indeed Kaanji: a common spring time drink in Northern India, especially Delhi. Right around Holi season in mid to late March, the vegetable vendors back in Delhi brought out some exotic looking vegetables. I especially remember Gaanth Gobi (Kohlrabi) and Kaali Gaajar; both of which my dad took quite a fancy to. Apart from using Kaali Gaajar (Purple carrots) in salads, my mom invariably made a large  bottle of  Kaanji that my dad loved. 

Friday, May 27, 2011

@ Random

We've seen the brightest, sunniest days of the season this week.  And that's left me with a lot of feel-good feelings that I have to vent.  I came home from work yesterday to a quiet house: A had taken the girls swimming. That one hour of solitude gave me a chance to sit out on the deck and soak up the beauty that lay there. My lawn actually looks lush now, no brown anywhere and more grass than weeds. A big change from just a week ago when I thought it'd be brown all the summer. And I absolutely love the smell of fresh cut grass- sort of reminds me of the earthy smell of the first monsoon rain back home. The outdoors is so inviting and cheery ....bright sun, a riot of colors everywhere.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Temptations: WaterGate Salad

Last weekend I hosted an all-women get together for friends from my Sunday school group.  This was the first time I was involved in any volunteer activities with this group, and understandably, felt totally like a fish out of water. The highlight of this event for me was a promise of girls' time out, without kids or husbands, and live cooking demonstrations for 2 secret dishes. The guest list, menu and activities were all planned by willing volunteers who devoted a load of time working out the details. My responsibility was barely to make sure that I provide the space,  disposables and co-ordinate parking space....

Wait...did someone say parking?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Khau na...Jhaal Murri

It all began one fine day in September of 2002. I called A and informed him of my decision. He raised all the due concerns a new dad-to-be should, and I rah-rahed him down with my new-found confidence of a soon-to-be first-time mom. I had found the perfect solution to our fast-approaching childcare needs. This woman I'd found was a grandma missing her grand-kids back home in Bangladesh, she did not want to care for more than one infant and she knew how to change diapers. My child would have her undivided attention and love during the day, unlike in a daycare. And she could show me how to change diapers. Perfect.

"But she hardly speaks Hindi, and not a word of English", A said.

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!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Effortless, Eggless Cake Bake

  1. We've been going through a bag of Entermann's mini donuts every two days, at least since after my birthday in the first week of March.
  2. Baby P peeks into the oven every other day and asks me what's cooking in there.
  3. Anya has actually started supplementing snacks with fruits.
  4. A was caught red handed snacking on the girls' gummy vitamins, and made quite a case for himself when questioned.
I've ignored all these tell-tale signs of sugar deprivation in my family for quite some time now.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

With a heavy heart.....

I really don't know where to begin writing this...for this piece of writing, the end is the beginning .

Sometime on Tuesday night before the Mother's Day last year....Wednesday, May 5th in the Middle East,  my brother was desperately trying to reach me. I missed all those calls from him because both A and I'd left our phones downstairs in the kitchen that night. As soon as I went downstairs at 6am, Wednesday morning for us in USA, I saw the call log. And I knew....I knew, because my brother and I had a pact. He was not to call me on my cell phone unless.......

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.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Brunch with Bread and Vegetable Rolls

Growing up, I looked forward to weekends not only because the school was closed, but also because our day started with skipping beakfast (that is, the regular milk and cereal) in favor of a special Sunday brunch. Plus, we could eat together in front of the TV- watching epics like Ramayan or Mahabharat, not to forget Star Trek, Superman, Mickey Mouse and Tom & Jerry. All together, we're talking at least 2h of unrestricted TV and food time every Sunday morning. I especially remember the years that Ramayan and Mahabharat were being aired. My mom would actually bring her cooking supplies- everything except the stove that is- into the TV room. And dad and I would help her with the prep work while watching our program. So she rolled the flour while we filled the pastries for samosa or stuffed pooris, or dad and I made cutlets while she prepped the herbs for chutney. Then she ran back to the kitchen and cooked everything up in the 15 min. commercial break, and we'd eat together when the episode resumed to air. Even after TV ceased its hold over us in our teenage age years, we kept up with the Sunday brunch tradition.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Food For Hungry Soul: Chane ka Nimona

A decade ago, my marriage to a UPite (Uttar Pradesh, a state east of Delhi), outside the chartered territory of the Haryana-Rajasthan-Delhi tristate area, caused quite a furore amongst the older generation of my family.
'They have nothing in common with us' was an oft-repeated refrain from my uncles and aunts. 'You'll have a lot to deal with culturally', they warned. 'They eat very different food- it will be an inconvenience for Guddo' - reminded my naani, very gently, but worried enough to slip out the much-hated (by me) childhood endearment. 'How dare you agree to let our only grand daughter go across the river', thundered my naana referring to the the River Ganges, a geographical and symbolic divide between two of the most fertile, similar and yet disimilar, states in India. My dad fretted and fumed about his decision for days but then decided that his daughter had been brought up liberally enough in the huge metropolitan melting pot of Delhi to be able to take a few cultural diversions in her stride.

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

Friday, March 25, 2011

Daily Dinner (4) : Palak aur Khubani ka Kofta

The last few days went by in a blur. If I didn't have all the leftovers from the past weekend's Holi get together, we'd have eaten out all week. Yesterday night, it was time to take stock of the groceries again. Basically all I could find was a half-bag of spinach, 3 potatoes, one sad tomato and an onion. I definitely did not want to eat Paalak-aloo yesterday. Actually I was just not in the mood for a run-of-the mill everyday dinner. So just decided to experiment a bit. I remembered reading about a spinach kofta some time ago. Although I did not have the details of that recipe, I felt like I  could do it.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Encore! Tadka Idli.

 The weather has certainly cleared up quite a bit. Grass looks a lot perkier, and little shoots of daffodils are breaking ground in my flower beds. Looking at the bright sunshine and temperatures in mid 50s, we thought  last weekend that we'd go to a park and initiate the picnic season. Before we could settle on a  menu, our plans got washed away; literally. Heavy rains Thursday night into Friday left all the surrounding creeks and rivulets overflowing, with flash flood warnings. All our favorite picnic places turned into mini swamps. Rather than lose the opportunity to get together, our friend R suggested we come to her place.

Daily Dinner Series (3): How Green Was My Dinner!!

 We've been slammed with the green brigade this whole month. The first week of March,  baby P's daycare celebrated Dr. Seuss's birthday, which meant that they read the same books over and over again. Now P has an exceptional fondness for 'Green eggs and ham'; but I hid that book away after failing to make her understand why she can't eat eggs and ham for breakfast. She re-discovered her love at school during the Dr. Seuss week.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Daily Dinner Series (2)

Continuing with the Dinner Series I announced last week, it is time to share another weeknight dinner with you. This is actually from Wednesday, but got too busy to be able to post it for you all. One thing I've realized is that my home is not really lighted well enough for my 8pm photography expeditions. I am getting pretty frustrated now. I see all these blogs with fabulous, almost staged, pictures. And all I have are shadows in places they shouldn't be, and the wrong color palette. I

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.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Announcing : Daily Dinner Series

I know- I am too inexperienced in blogosphere to be announcing any series. But humor me. The idea has been nibbling at me for a while now. In my 10yrs in US, I've answered questions about my vegetarianism a million times. The disbelief has given way to acceptance, and even admiration, in the past decade. But I still get asked if my meals constitute a balanced diet or not. So with this series, I am trying to set a record straight- so to say.

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, February 1, 2011

A week from my January Diary

I woke up in a haze of pain. It was all dark, and I was alone. But the beep of monitors and the pain assured me that I was still in the hospital. How long had it been, I wondered. What did the surgeon find- the worst as he had expected; or the middle ground I’d prayed for? And my pain seemed to have spread from my stomach to pretty much everywhere. Was too weary, so just my eyes close again……...don’t know what day it is.
Jan 21st 2011: When I came home from work, I knew it was going to be a busy weekend ahead. I had a long list of things to do's- earlier done, the better. But I was pretty beat up then, tired, and quite edgy. After a simple dinner, I started a load of laundry, put my feet up and watched the girls play together while A wrapped up work. By 10pm, I was in bed, exhausted.

Jan 22nd 2011: That nagging tiredness and unease was still here this morning. But nothing's wrong with me. Took a quick mental note of my monthly calendar. It definitely isn't that time yet. So I shake myself up, get breakfast going and shake the kids out of their beds for swim class. A doesn't budge- who knows when he went to bed last night. Rather than be late waiting for the designated driver, I drive the girls to their class. After lunch, I settle them in front of the TV, as I start checking off the to-do list. Clean house (that cleaning lady skipped again this week), get the guest bed room ready (A was having a house guest over to stay with us Monday through Wednesday), one more load of laundry; and packing! And there was this blogging event that'd caught my fancy- so I wanted to especially make something to write about. A helps me with some cleaning and by 8pm, I am done everything except packing. That'd have to wait. I wasn’t up to it. After feeding the girls and tucking them in, I'm in bed by 9pm.

And I drift off to sleep thinking about tomorrow – our 11th wedding Anniversary. A friends’ carpool was taking our older one to her Hindi class, and another friend had offered to watch baby P during that time. A & I could do something together- a movie and lunch sounded perfect. With that plan, and a smile in place, I fall asleep.

Jan 23rd 2011: It isn’t morning yet- it’s pitch black outside. But I’ve been up for hours. Very uncomfortable. I get up to go the bathroom, and that leaves me breathless. My head is spinning and I feel nauseated. I make it to the bathroom, and heave in the sink. My stomach turns inside out. I spend the next few hours huddled over the toilet bowl. Drained of energy, I call out for help. A helps me back in bed, and I ask him to put a trashcan by my side for the rest of the night. It’s still 4:30am, so I ask him to sleep in with baby P. I am vomiting every few minutes for the rest of the day. I’ve heard of a stomach bug going around and all I can think of now is to protect the kids from catching it from me. I banish everyone from my bedroom, and make A go around the house with Lysol and Purell every hour.
I will feel better tomorrow.
And we’ll celebrate our Anniversary when we go to Cancun on Thursday.

Jan 24th 2011: The nausea is gone, thank goodness. But my stomach hurts – no doubt from throwing up all day yesterday. It also feels much distended to me. Our house guest has arrived, but I’m in state to meet her. I send my apologies, ask A to make me some vegetable soup and get ready to feel better soon. A has some meetings to go to, and I let him. Soon I am left breathless by a wave of pain in my abdomen. I lie there sweating, unable to breathe for I don't know how long. Then I curl up, and cry. The rest of the morning is lost. A calls around 2pm to ask about me and I barely reach the phone crying for him to come back. He comes home to find me shivering in bed with a fever of 102, and an acute stomach ache. He calls the Doctor’s office.
A fever and ache following stomach flu is nothing to worry about in a healthy person, the nurse informs us. If those are your only symptoms, you can come in for an office visit tomorrow afternoon.We accept.

Jan 25th 2011: The doctor didn’t find anything wrong with me, despite her battery of tests. I’ve been in bed with a hot water bottle held against my stomach for 3 days now, but the pain is worse than ever. I feel 4 months pregnant. We leave the doctors’ office with a prescription; follow up appointment for tomorrow and an assurance that we’ll still make it to Cancun.

Jan 26th 2011: I’m thankful when we get a call pushing up our appointment by an hour. One look at me the doctor orders us to the ER. We’re expecting a big snow storm and ER is the only place they can help me. By 6:30pm, I’m writhing in pain despite heavy doses of morphine. That’s when the surgeon came in and announced his verdict.

Surgery is your only option. The appendix has ruptured, you have massive peritonitis, and it might have some gut involvement too. We have to take the appendix and part of the gut out, and wash your abdomen.

While I get hysterical, A arranges for the girls to stay the night with friends.

Jan 29th 2011: I’m finally awake. The pain is still intense, but I am sitting up. And A brings the girls to visit me.

Jan 30th 2011: I request an early discharge- I’ll be better off at home.

A tells me I was in the ICU for a day and in the recovery ward for another day before I opened my eyes. I had acute appendicitis, but no gut involvement. Thankfully. I am looking at another 2 weeks of recovery period. However, between yesterday & today, I have felt good enough to pen this down.

To share with you my hopes, and my fears. And also, my blessings.

I'm blessed for being on the road to health again; and for my circle of friends who jumped in to help in my hour of need - with child care options, food, and by just being there.

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.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tilgul Kha, Goad Goad Bola

A new year, and a new round of celebrations. Come January, and most Indians begin to prepare for the first of the four harvest celebrations. In my part of India, it is called Makar Sankranti and is the only Hindu festival celebrated on January 14th, based on the Solar calendar instead of Hindu lunar calendar. In Delhi, the boisterous street-wide celebrations actually begin the night of Jan 13th with Lohri- the Punjabi version of celebrating this season of harvest. Loud drum beats, bhangra, bonfires with popcorn, gajjak and rewri would set the mood for Sankranti celebrations in our home the next morning.