Showing posts with label vegetarian. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vegetarian. Show all posts

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Curried grits- Indianizing a Southern staple!

Hard to believe it’s been almost a year since I first “invented” this dish.

We were driving back from Niagara- Toronto last summer with extended family. Tired, cranky, bickering children and 7h in a closed car were enough for us adults to throw in the hatchet. Unable to find any decent places to stay a night, A resorted to calling a close friend in Connecticut. Gracious host that he was, he welcomed us with open arms despite no prior notice. We arrived late that night, and went straight to bed.

The next morning, I woke up to find this friend in his kitchen, reading labels off a box and frantically talking on his phone. As I walked in, he quickly bid goodbye, and grinned at me sheepishly.

“I was talking to my wife- seems like I bought the wrong stuff. She’d said she’d tell me how to make upma for breakfast, but now you will have to eat buttered toast instead”. He stared morosely at the box in his hand.

“What’s that?, I asked. He quietly handed me a box of Quaker quick grits.

“She asked me to buy Sooji. I went to store, and described what I wanted. The guy showed me this box, so I bought it. I am so tired of eating butter-toast”

Turned out that his wife was visiting family in India for a few weeks, when A invited himself over. And this friend forgot to mention this fact when we called. His wife didn’t want her uninvited guests to not feel welcome in her absence, so she was trying to be a long-distance hostess through her husband. And now, we had a long-distance couples’ quibble on hand!


I ended up making upma out of grits – much to our friend's happiness, and his wife’s enormous relief when I texted her a picture of it, thanking her for her hospitality! The recipe below is a simpler adaptation. Those of you who are familiar with upma can try your own variation. For the rest, this is my everyday curried grits.

Curried Grits



Quaker Quik Grits - 2 individual packs
Frozen peas and carrots - 1/2 cup (soaked in water to thaw)
Onion chopped - 1/2 of a small onion
Spices to taste - salt, red chilli powder and a hint of turmeric
Water - 1 cup
Oil - 1Tbsp
Cumin seeds - a small pinch
A dash of lemon and some cilantro to garnish at the end.


  1. Heat oil in a wide pan, and splutter cumin seeds. 
  2. Add the onion, saute till translucent and golden.
  3. Drain and add the frozen peas and carrots. Cover and cook for 4-5 min till they soften.
  4. Mix in the grits. Dry roast on low flame with the vegetables for 1-2 min.
  5. Add the spices and water. Keep stirring to avoid clumps.
  6. Turn the heat to low, cover and cook until the water is absorbed. Stir frequently to avoid sticking to the bottom. Quik grits do not take more than 4-5 min to cook. I let them sit covered for a couple of minutes before serving.
My two cents: I had never heard of grits before, forget about eating them. When I opened the box, the powder sure looked like our sooji, which would explain why the store lady guided our friend to it. Turns out, that grits is a coarse meal made out of corn. Call it corn-rava, if you want. Takes up the flavors just like our regular rava upma and tastes great! 

Highly recommend it for a quick, healthy, filling and gluten-free breakfast fix!









Monday, February 20, 2017

When my Soup became Dinner!!


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

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

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

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Crispy Chiwda - Teatime snack

One of those things where familiarity breeds contempt. 

Crisp, sweet and savory Chiwda was a staple growing up.In the days when not much packaged products were available or used, my mom would make large amounts of this snack to munch on. Especially during the summer vacation, whether it was as I watched TV, or read, or because my dolls needed a snack on a lazy summer afternoon while mom took a nap!

In the past few years, I have started making it more frequently as well. And slowly, my daughters have begun to like it. They still aren't as crazy about the Chiwda snack as I was at their age....but then, they have so many more options to choose from. Anya likes it more than Baby P; and just like me, she sneaks up a bowl to munch on while watching TV or reading.I usually make a small portion of it every other week on a weekend...and think nothing about it at all.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Daily Dinner (21): Weekend Indulgence - Paalak ki Poorie


Once in a while, I give in to indulgence- in the name of children, award to self for good behavior, or just because….

Weekends are especially tempting. I find it harder to stick to a diet and exercise regimen when I am at home all day. Goodies beckon, and everyday lunch salads are the furthest from my mind. It is a good thing that the kids love poories - the fried Indian bread. To break the guilt, I do keep a little green (as in salad) on the side. Plus, I try to sneak in veggies in the poorie itself for the kids.

Every mom I know of has her own way of making this universal kids’ favorite. But here’s how I make my Paalak ki Poorie for an indulgent weekend meal.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Ghee - A guide to slow cooker version.


Ghee is the name for anhydrous butter fat, an ingredient originating and deeply revered in IndiaAyurveda, the ancient medical science of India, recognizes ghee as an essential part of a balanced diet, and celebrates it as a  symbol of auspiciousness, nourishment and healing. Ghee is the very essence of butter; the end result of a long, slow, careful clarification process that removes all the moisture, milk solids and impurities. The butter is melted and the simmered long enough to boil off all the water, during which time it separates into layers and the fat takes on a buttery taste. Ghee is the layer of clear butter fat. The slow cooking needs to be precise, or else the fat layer burns and darkens easily.

One of the oldest memories I have is of my grandmother making ghee; and of me relishing every ingredient in the process. Naani began by starting to collect malai (milk fat) - she would buy cow’s milk for days, and simmer boil it for hours on end in a bronze pot. After the milk cooled down, she skimmed off the thick layer of fat that formed on the top of the milk. She was always gracious enough to ladle out large spoonfuls of this malai into our outstretched bowls. We’d layer our parathas with sugared malai for lunch, instead of the boring sabzi.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Warm Comforts - Savory Oats Upma

About a year ago, while I was still working at the University, a new student joined our group. After a long time, Having a fellow-Indian to talk to at work place meant that lunch-time conversations often meandered towards reminiscing about food in India. A month or so later, her husband went to visit his parents in Southern India, and when he returned, she came bearing some gifts for me. One of which were packets of the very popular, "Maggi" brand instant oats breakfast. Apparently, that product had recently been launched in India, and she really liked the convenience of it for breakfast. You essentially had to pour out the ingredients into a bowl, put in some water, zap it for a couple of minutes in the microwave and you had a warm bowl of Indian breakfast.

"I never eat Maggi"; I informed her, referring to the widely popular instant noodles available in India. "I hate the smell of it."

"This one isn't the same", she said. "This is made of oats and tastes like Upma. You do like Upma, don't you?" 

That is how I ended up with 3 packs of this Maggi Oats Upma product. 


The packs languished in my pantry for a few months. Then one night, I found myself alone, hungry and craving something warm without having to go through the pain of cooking or cleaning after. Rummaging through, I found these packs again. With no other alternative in sight, I decided to go for it. 5 minutes later, with a warm bowl in hand and a Hallmark movie on demand for company; I decided that I actually liked what I was eating. It was a tad too spicy for my taste, and still had that artificial flavor after-taste; but it was comforting and hearty.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Chawal ka Paratha- Reliving Childhood.


I have been told that kids should learn to eat everything. And that offering them with a choice is spoiling them for life. But believe me, if catering to foodie likes and dislikes is spoiling, then I was a thoroughly spoilt brat as a kid! And I changed when I grew up (not all, but quite a bit!)….

For many of my growing up years, I refused to eat roti. Eaten the traditional way, it got my hands dirty, food got under my fingernails, and I complained about smelly food fingers after lunch at school. I’d only eat whatever I could with a spoon. That pretty much made rice or sandwiches the only option for school. I wasn’t ready to even consider anything else. Then one day, my mom packed my school lunch with stuffed parathas, filled with rice – with the reasoning that she was still giving me rice - and I got a new food to love for life!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Taking Navratris West- with Sphagetti Squash

I have compiled a few of my go-to Navratri recipes from 2013 here and from 2012 here.

But me being me, what do I do when the stomach’s growling with hunger, and I want something “good” to eat while fasting? Sometimes, “good” for me is just another way of saying “out of the mundane routine”. Off and on, I try recipes and sometimes tweak it a bit to make it adhere to rules of my fasting. This year has been especially trying since we couldn’t get to do Indian grocery before the fasting week began. And so I got stuck with improvising.

I did have a little bit of Sama ke chawal and singhora flour. Not enough to tide me through the week though. So I have been living on whatever I can conjure up with groceries I can buy from local stores. One day each of aloo ki sabzi and zucchini had me wanting something “good”. The third day to satisfy my wandering mind and growling stomach; my dinner was a clear spinach-tomato soup and this  wannabe salad with Spaghetti squash – a fun vegetable that looks like spaghetti after it’s been cooked.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Going green- Simple lunch salad.


It takes very little for one to realize that they have let themselves go. What one does with that realization, is another matter. 

Here is my 6-month journey against extra baggage accumulated unknowingly. My moment of realization was pictures of our summer trip to Disneyland posted by extended family on Facebook. I couldn't believe what I saw of myself in those pictures. I have always had body image issues; but this photo was beyond my wildest dreams. My clothes appeared to be stretched thin. My mommy-waist had definitely grown some new, and pronounced, bulging additions. Earlier that month, at my doctor’s, the scales had tipped at 12 lbs. higher than my normal weight- but I had chosen to dismiss that. The doctor had advised me to get “more active”; but I had convinced myself that “I had no time”. 

I went to Facebook and looked at that photograph every day for at least a week before making my mid-year resolution …. I started small- the goal was to lose 5 lbs before the end of the year 2014 (this was sometime in August). The means were ambitious- I was going to diet (no big deal for me…) AND Exercise (way huge of a commitment…..). The reason was not just vanity – agreed that I wanted to look better, but I also wanted to feel healthier. My kids are growing up, and are fairly independent. So " I have no time" didn't quite  cut it. Why should I not be able to steal away an hour a day for myself? I told myself (repeatedly, I must add) that I deserve that hour, that I wasn't taking away my “quality-child-time” by doing this and that the world wouldn't stop if I didn't finish all the chores on my to-do-list. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Gujhiya- Taditional Holi Recipe


Wishing you all a bountiful spring- Happy Holi!!!

If Holi is here, can spring be far behind? 

Traditionally marking the beginning of Spring in India, Holi used to be quite an affair in Delhi. After hours of running around with water pistols, colors and water-balloons, we would return home exhausted and ready to curl into sleep. Except that our mom had a different idea... she, for the first time since winter set in, would make us take cold water baths. All my childhood years, I remember being bathed in ice-cold water with our teeth chattering while my mom scrubbed away the colors of Holi from inside our ears and hair. It seemed like hours before she considered us clean enough to step in anywhere inside the house. And all through the ordeal, she kept repeating that since it was spring time, we had to start bathing in cold water….

After a tiring day and her ruthless cold-water scrubbing, lunch this day was usually something good - hot and deep fried. Mostly pakoras, the sweet saffron rice called Zarda, and a cup of warm milk to beat the cold- followed by a short nap. Late in the afternoon, my dad's friends gathered in our house for a "mushaira". Not quite sure what went on there, but they laughed loud and made plenty of ruckus. All the "aunties" would pack their kids and their knitting, and meet up in the neighborhood park themselves for some "girl time". Before my mom left for the park, she and I would ply the uncles with goodies to sustain them for a few hours - pots of Kanji and Thandai, Mathi, Gujhiya and besan ladoo - all from my mom's kitchen. By the time we came home, the uncles usually had eaten them all!!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Vegetable patties- Anytime Snack.

Another one of those forgotten foods from our times in India.

Patties were a staple in all Delhi University South Campus college canteens. Our post-lunch, mid afternoon chai time would not be complete without a few orders of these delicious, mouthwatering accompaniment. Between the ten of us classmates, a few plates of patties vanished before they appeared on the table.

Living here, I didn't see them for a very long time. And with time, memories dimmed. Then, on one of my visits to a friend in New York (the one who taught me the badam halwa), I had a chance to taste them again. My friend's neighbor had made them, and I remember being so awed at her ability to be able to recreate that magic. Another few years later, at a picnic potluck, another friend offered to bring patties.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Gobhi ka Paratha- Cozy Comfort of a Cold Morning.


The humble cauliflower; and the mighty peas –possibly, two of my dad’s favorite things.

Sometime in November, the sabzi-wala bhaiya would come all excited and call out for my dad, announcing that he had procured the first cauliflower and peas of the season. My dad would hurry on downstairs. Then, they would engage in at least a half-hour haggle on prices; the bhaiya, unrelentingly adamant that his prices were reasonable, and my dad, equally strong-willed about making a good bargain. Finally, they always came to an agreement on “wholesale prices”, and my dad came back laden with 5kgs of fresh peas and 5kgs of cauliflower. The next half hour- my mom hemming and hawing about shelling all those peas and my dad trying to calm her down by saying that he’d help- which of course was the biggest lie ever!

Then I remember those afternoons when I came home from school to find my mom sitting on the balcony in the winter sun, elbow-deep in shelling peas. She not only seperated the sweet pea seeds, but also skinned the tender shells of new peas to make another one of my dad’s favorite – “matar ke chilke ki sabzi” (more on that, later some day….). Sometimes, I helped her. More often than not, the peas went straight in my mouth!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Punjabi Soya Chunk Sabzi with Peas and Potatoes.


My dad's family migrated to big city Delhi when he was 7 years old. While his parents, my grandparents, got busy adapting to fast-paced lifestyle and establishing the new business, my dad was practically adopted by this very affluent Sikh family next door. In the very Punjabi neighborhood of Filmistan, this family provided my dad with an emotional support and encouragement that helped him stay grounded in his youth after his mom passed. He grew up calling them Mummyji and Daddyji, learnt to read and speak Punjabi fluently, went to Rakab Ganj Sahib with them every week and even started eating eggs and chicken with their family- behind his own parents back, of course.

By the time my brother and I came along, daadaji and daadiji’s home was always this immaculate, white fenced kothi in Filmistan full of huge, turbaned men and one little beeji in elegant white. They were loud and boisterous, gave us hugs tight enough to break our bones and fed us like we had been starving forever. When we were little, the differences between this family that we knew of as our daadaji and daadji  and the rest of our uncles and aunts were very confusing. As we grew up, the story of how this family had helped my dad by pitching in after my grandmother died and my grandfather took time healing from the loss became deeply a ingrained family lore. My dad’s love and gratitude was very obvious when he talked of them as his ‘parents’. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Sweet and Spicy Cranberry Chutney


Chutneys are pretty forgiving. You mix, taste, add some more, and repeat till you get it just right. Chutneys are also very ….um…lickable - for the want of another word. They just don’t taste right until you lick it right off your finger, roll it around your tongue for a bit and end your adventure with that loud, satisfying smack of “tch” that seemingly, unknowingly came out of your own mouth…..

Growing up, chutney was always an integral part of a meal served at home. The simplest thali would have a dal, a sabzi, a chutney, pickle and papad accompanying the bread. Mostly, our everyday condiment was the fiery green coriander chutney - with minor, season-appropriate variations. I couldn’t tolerate the amount of heat my parents were accustomed to , so sometimes my mom would sweeten it up with a bit of jaggery - and I’d eat that with everything. This everyday chutney is a quick fix, uncooked relish- sort of like salsa. All you need to do is zap up the ingredients in the food processor. No cooking required. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Creamy Broccoli, Carrot and Green Tomato Soup



That is how I feel about my soup fad. When I am feeling hungry, and lazy - and the weather’s too cold to drag myself out from under that fuzzy throw, or when I need a meal-for-one in a hurry, thats when I think of soup. Personally, I also prefer those thin watery soups rather than the chunky stews for these cold-weather cravings. That way I can curl up with a hot mug in my hands and sip on my soup like I do a cup of chai- not bothering about even lifting a spoon !!


I do a partial fast one day a week, giving up all grains and allowing just the fresh vegetables and fruits. Mostly, on that day I eat fruits for lunch and a smoothie or juice for dinner. This past week, however, was annoyingly cold. Plus I could hear my stomach rumbling right from the moment I woke up. All I wanted for lunch was something hot and filling. Which is how the soup craving started. The kids were away, and I had to think of just myself. Which meant I could experiment with stuff that they wouldn’t touch by a mile. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Daily Dinner (20): Easy Weeknight Lasagna

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

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

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Chatpate Aloo - Cranberry Tinged Potatoes!!


Today, I’ll just tell you a story to prove how randomly my thoughts flutter….

Or, as A would tell you - how “wrongly circuited” I am!! :-) 

This past weekend, I spent some girl time with a dear friend. She was in my neighborhood, running errands. So I invited her to stop by for a cup of “chai” and chit chat. Over our cuppa, we talked about children (of course) and husbands (obviously!!), and other unmentionables extremely important to vent about for a woman’s emotional growth (!!). Spent, and exhausted….until the conversation meandered to what  she had bought from our Produce store -  amongst other things, she had a bag of fresh cranberries.
  “What’ll you do with them?”, I asked (needless to add, she is one big one to look up to as an incredible cook!)
   “Did your mom ever make Karaunde-wali-mirchi?", she asked. “I make a chilli relish using cranberries instead of the Karaunda.” (if you don’t know what I am talking about, please be patient and read to the end of this post here…..)

Monday, September 1, 2014

Dee Day (4): Mysore Masala Wrap by Priya Joshi

Blogging has introduced me to many new friendships. 

Reminds me of how we used to reach out to make pen pals back in my childhood. All through middle school, we were required to send out letters to unknown kids around the world and make new friends. My most enduring friendship was with a Japanese girl called Asuki, with whom I exchanged mail for close to 4 years and with a Nigerian girl who kept in touch for almost two years. The hardest part of making pen-palship, for me, was reaching out to people. The inherent hesitation of "what if…..” Always, at the end, I came away feeling that people are actually nicer and easier to get to know than I actually think. 

When I invited guest bloggers for Dee Day on MLS; I didn’t get the outright response I was hoping for. I mulled on the idea of reaching out to fellow-bloggers that I admire; but hesitated. Until one day, that I stumbled upon Priya’s space at  Food and More. I wrote to her before I could lose my nerve….and was pleasantly surprised to get an instantaneous answer! In her own words; Priya is "a happy housewife and freelance writer who started a blog in 2014." She thinks cooking is an art. She belongs to typical gujrati family. Her inspiration to cook is her momwho, Priya says, " is the best cook...….

As for me, I think that her blog, that she started in 2014, is a wonderful amalgamation of old and new. And I am happy to have made a friend!
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Hi every one,

I am Priya Joshi founder http://foodandmoreblog.blogspot.in .I started this journey by writing guestpost in many websites which inspired me to start my own blog.I would like to thank DEEPIKA who gave a space in her blog for guest-post. I feel very happy- awesome to write this guest post in your blog Deepika, thank you very much for this opportunity.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Stuffed Sweet Peppers (Baked)

I never knew what to expect of something that’s called “sweet peppers”. Until the day I tasted these at a good friend’s home. Her MIL had stuffed them with a spicy potato mixture, and my friend had baked them to cook. As an accompaniment, they were amazing. Since then, I have made these a few times; both as appetizers and as sides to a main meal. Yesterday, I saw them again in my produce store; so thought I’d share them with you.

Curried Stuffed Sweet Peppers


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Dee-Day (3) : A special guest post….

Many decades ago, my life came to be haunted by a devil-in-disguise. He broke my carefully-kept toys, tore my cherished books and ate up all the chocolate that I’d been saving “for later”. All I did was cry lodes of tears on daddy’s shoulders as he tried to comfort me by saying “now your toy (or book or candy) is gone. What can we do. You stop crying and I’ll get you more….”. As far back  as I can think , he got away with everything.

And yet, my most vivid memories are those of seeing him walk for the first time. Or leading him to his kindergarten class. Or him seeking me out in school with tears in his eyes because someone had been bullying him. My dad told me that he named him Amitouj - the celestial bed rest that Brahma reclines on - because he was going to be my pillar of comfort when he grew up. Somewhere along the way, I named him Divyu - because I wanted his name to have the same initials as mine. 

Today, my younger brother is still a devil. But I have seen his comforting side when I was hurting the most. He’s all grown up. But he’s still my first baby.

In 2009; on my vacation to his place in Abu Dhabi, my mom told me that he’d become very good at cooking. She said, “some things, he cooks even better than me”. At her request, he made me a dinner - his signature “tadka wali dahi”, as my mom called it. Since then, I’ve been pestering him for the recipe. Today, he’s decided to share it with me; and you. Read on ahead….from the mouth of the devil himself :-)!
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The journey to my culinary expertise started in year 1999 when I moved from Delhi to Mumbai. Taking national integration to core I moved in with 3 other gentlemen: one from Bengal – representing East, One from Andhra Pradesh – representing South, and the other from Sholapur on the west coast of India.  I completed the missing link from North – Delhi.