Tuesday, 31 January 2012


And as they were walking in the park, one of the friends said, 'Look! Such beautiful fruit!' Both friends ran towards the tree & saw a carpet of red on the green grass. They looked up to see which tree these had fallen from. And what they saw amazed them more. The tree had no leaves & yet it was laden with these reddish-yellowish fruit. Certainly they were edible? And they picked up a fruit each to taste. A cautious bite & YUM! It was sweet & sour! Much like the Indian ber
So they picked up as many as they could fit into their pockets & proceeded on their outing.
One friend ate some & threw away some because they were going bad. The other friend bottled them & made them into pickle...

She put mustard oil, some green chillies, some ginger juliennes & salt 
in the jar where she had kept the fruit.

And let it stay for 15 days. [If only the sunshine was bright, she could have put the jar in the sunlight & it would have happened faster]

Every 2 days, she would give the jar a shake so the salt mixed well.

After 15 days, when the fruit had softened, she ground some spices & added it to the pickle.
She used: 1 tsp each of cumin, coriander & mustard seeds.
                     1/2 tsp of fenugreek seeds
                     Red chilli powder

All the masala was ground & put in the jar & left to be pickled.

Yesterday she took out some to give to her friend. And her friend loved it!

The two friends are planning to go to the park again. This time with a carry bag...

Sindh is In

I had first eaten Sindhi Kadhi in Mala's tiffin. If there has ever been a healthy eater, it is Mala. When others gorge on oily samosas, Mala squeezes the oil out of that sinful fried snack & then pops it in her mouth. All the while mouthing, "I shouldn't be eating this." 

Having cooked for many years of her life, she has now handed the reigns to Amma, a cantankerous, old lady, who is a surrogate mother-in-law. Amma has been with the family for many years now & dominates not just the kitchen but the entire household. She and Mala share a love hate relationship. Mala loves healthy food; Amma hates it. In the clash of Titans, they have settled for the 'you win some, I win some' path. On days when Mala's lunch box has a tough chapatti, you know who has won!  

The delicious curry took my fancy so strong that I learnt the recipe & made it the very next day. That lasted for 2 days & lest I should forget it, made it again two days later. Which lasted for 2 days again. In a 7 days calendar, my family had Sindhi Kadhi for 4 days. My mother finally rebelled(all that teenage tantrum is being given back to me with interest;)) & said enough is enough and she doesn't want to have it, nutritious though it be, for the next one month!

I will leave you with the recipe & let you take it forward as you want :)

Ingredients:[Check pics for better understanding]

1. Mixed vegetables- cut in small pieces
2. Besan- 2 tbsp
3. Cumin & Coriander seeds - 1/2 tsp each
5. Fenugreek seeds- 1/4 tsp 
6. 2-3 dry Red Chilli
7. Asafoetida - 1/4tsp
8. Cumin & Coriander powder- 1/2tsp each
9. Turmeric- 1/2 tsp
10. Red chilli powder- acc to taste
11. Ginger(chopped/grated)- 3/4 tsp
12. Tamarind paste- 3/4 tsp
13. Salt- to taste
14. Oil- to cook
15. Coriander(chopped)- to garnish

  Step 1: Put asafoetida(hing) in hot oil. Add the whole spices till they splutter. Also add the haldi.                    
  Step 2: Add besan(gram flour) & fry till golden brown. 
  Step 3: Add coriander, cumin & red chilli powder & fry for 2 mins.                              

   Step 4: Add the onion & ginger & fry for 2-3 mins.  
Add the other vegetables & mix it well, fry for another 2 mins.
  Step 5: Pour water & let the vegetables cook for 15-20 mins on medium flame. Add salt. 
Keep stirring every 5 mins to check that besan does not form lumps.

Tip: Because of the variety of  vegetables, this invariably becomes a large dish. Always use a big utensil to make Sindhi Kadhi.
  Step 6: When the vegetables are cooked, add tamarind paste & let curry simmer for 5 mins. 
   Step 7: Garnish with chopped coriander.
 Serve hot with plain rice.
For those who do not like the raw coriander taste, let the chopped coriander mix with the curry & just the flavour remain.

Sindhi Curry is traditionally eaten with rice. All you dieters out there, try it with chapatti if you like!

And hey Mala, get well soon!

Monday, 30 January 2012


Gurlz, you sure have read this one about Newton.That he would forget to eat his meals & after eating, he would ask his housekeeper for food because he had forgotten that he'd already eaten!
Issac Newton behaved like that not because he was an absent-minded scientist but because, you guessed it, he was a MAN! All men are absent-minded. QED. 
Kitna din kuch meetha nahi bana apne yahan is as common a lament as The Gent not finding his glasses. All the while it was right there. On his nose. 
Tearing out your hair in exasperation will not help. In an era of excessive hairfall, it may not even be wise!Bonding with other female friends is therapeutic at such times. For all my comrades sailing in the same boat, I have one suggestion. KEEP IT BASIC.  Hail the multi-tasking global women of the 21st century!
Keep it simple,mates. It's a Sunday. You want your rest too! Make him a Shahi Tukda with a difference.

Will take you 10 mins to make. And then you are ready for The Iron Lady. Meryl already bagged the Golden Globe for it.

All you need is:
1. Bread
2. Sugar
3. Oil/butter to cook

How to: Warm oil/butter in a shallow
bottomed pan.

Put the bread slice on the warm oil & spread out sugar on top.

Turn the bread carefully & let the sugar caramelize.

Let both sides become golden brown.
Put sugar on both sides if you like. 

I normally put it on one, it's as delicious
 & half as fattening :)

Serve hot. 
And graciously receive the compliment, "wow, kya mast bana hai! Kitne din baad meetha bana na aaj!" Relax Lady, don't reach for your hair...

Yummy Mummy

Once there was a plum. A beautiful red plum. The child picked it up excitedly & bit into the juicy fruit. And immediately her expression changed. It was SOUR! She had heard stories about sour grapes but sour plums...That was a disappointment!Mom was always telling stories. Why had she not told her about sour plums?!
Mother had come into the room just in time to catch the child's bewildered look. She smiled her mum-like smile and then did some magic....

She cut the plum into pieces(except, of course the small bite that was already in the child's tummy!); chopped up one whole apple; took a small cube of ginger; chopped a green chilli & tossed it all into the blender. She added 2tsp of sugar & 1/2tsp of salt & ground it all into a CHUTNEY!

Mom then served the delicious sweet & sour chutney with the egg chila that she had made for breakfast. 

                                                                                              Moms always know so much! 

And that day the child learnt a great Truth about life. That a thing can be sour by itself. But if it mixes with the right company, it can become nice & sweet.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Go Global

If you ever see this in my house, don't panic! It is my weekend off. You will still be served. And served well!

Nitin takes over the kitchen over the weekend. We met Nitin in the B&B in our early days in London when both of us were looking for accommodation. Call it a divine design that we soon became housemates. I see it as a karmic debt that I am repaying. Why else should I be cooking for someone without getting paid for it & with whom I am not bound by biological or marital ties!

Nitin is a good guy. He is disciplined, makes sense when he talks, and talks only when required. Add to that the fact that he is into pranayam & meditation, gangs up with P for the gender war & reads spiritual books. That makes him a winner all the way.
Having lived outside India for a large part of his life, his taste is eclectic & experience diverse. We benefit from both :)

Nitin made Fajitas for dinner tonight & I was free to click pics for my post. Small mercies :)
As you read more about Fajitas here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fajita, let me run you through the recipe.

This takes you about 25 mins to make & 10 mins to wash it down with red wine. Teetotalers can settle for a health drink or juice. 

1. Tortilla (1 pack had 8)
2. 1 cup chopped Bell Peppers (various colours add to the zing)
3. 1 cup chopped Zucchini 
4. 1 cup chopped Mushroom
5.  Roast chicken slices(the Indian Salami)
6. 1 tbsp Salsa Dip
7.  1.5 tsp Fajita masala
8. Salt & Pepper to taste
9. Olive oil to stir fry the veggies
10. Mayonnaise 
The Tortilla  he used

Step 1: Chop the vegetables. You can cut them into juliennes(long thin pieces) if you want.

Step 2: Fry the chopped zucchinis first for 3 mins.

                                                                                Step 3: Add the mushroom & bell pepper & stir fry on medium heat till done. Ensurethat the vegetables remain translucent & don't change colour.

 Step 4: Add salt, pepper, salsa dip & fajita masala when the vegetables have softened. Cook for another 1 min & keep off the flame.
Tip: Go easy on the salt. The salsa dip, chicken slices & mayonnaise, all have salt . 

 Step 5: Warm the tortillas & spread mayonnaise on it. Lay out a line of veggies on one side &  make rolls.


The Veg fajitas are ready :) Warm them
 a little if you want & dig into it. 

 Step 6: Lay out the chicken slices on the tortilla and roll them up. Chicken Fajitas ready to bite into!
Nitin loves fajitas for its colourful veg content. What excites you about it? Write to me. And Bon Apetite!

Hindi Chini

Food does what diplomats are unable to. It blurs borders & brings people together in unthinkable ways. The Hindi Chini bhai bhai refrain is a childhood memory. Till recently when China captured the global market like never before & bhais turned competitors.As our neighbours hone their English language skills & threaten us of our BPO jobs,  there is always the solace of food. 

The Vegetable Manchurian is a delectable Indo Chinese dish that is a hot favourite with vegetarians & non-veggies alike. The last dinner I hosted found such a fan following with the Veg Manchurian that the hum ghaas phoos nahi khate guests gave the humble vegetarians stiff competition! 

I did not know Leela then. She heard about the ekdum hit recipe from one of my guests, tried it at home & now Leela & I are connected. You cannot help but like Leela. She gets you water when you visit her; talks  with an adorable Bihari drawl of janti hai, jab hum gaye they na wahaan; tells you of all the sales that are happening in & around London; the places to visit & the brands to buy. In a cold world, Leela has retained her naivety like few can. She is a sweetheart. And not because she made Veg Manchurian yesterday & mailed me a pic :)

Pic from web

1. 2 cups grated cabbage
2. 1/2 cup grated carrot
3. 3 tbsp cornflour
4. 1/2 cup chopped onions

5.1 tbsp chopped garlic

6. 4 chopped green chillies(deseeded)

7.  1/2 cup chopped spring onion (for garnish)

7. 1 1/2 tbsp soya sauce

8. 1/2 tsp sugar

9. 1/2 tsp pepper powder

10. 1/2 tsp ajinomoto

11. Salt to taste
12. Oil to cook


Pic from web
  1. Squeeze out the water from the cabbage and carrots.
  2. Add 2 tbsp cornflour &  some salt to the veggies & mix well. Make balls.
  3. Deep-fry the balls till they turn golden brown in. [Keeping them for later makes them leave water. It will break while frying then]
  4. Heat oil  & add the onion, garlic and green chillies.Saute until the onions are transparent.[Do NOT make the onions golden brown]
  5. Add the pepper, salt, ajinomoto, soya sauce, sugar and some water and bring to boil.
  6. In the remaining cornflour, add some cold water and make a paste. [Always make a paste of the cornflour & add to the gravy; powdered cornflour will form lumps & not mix]
  7. Add this paste to the boiling liquid and simmer it till it turns to thick gravy.
  8. Add the deep fried balls and simmer for 5-7 minutes.
  9. Garnish with chopped spring onions & serve hot.

Veg Maunchurian goes well with fried rice, Chinese fried rice or noodles.
You can also make it as a dry dish & serve as starter. Scintillates the taste buds & leaves you hankering for more :)
Ma adds grated ginger to the manchurian balls for added taste. Play around as you like. Experiments lead to discoveries!
Thank you for the picture Leela. Looks yum. Leela's husband, Dhiri, was so tickled in his buds that he has promised to take her for the Chinese New Year celebration that is happening in Russell Square, tomorrow :)

Friday, 27 January 2012

Lauki Lazzatdar

I hated lauki as a child. All kids do. Then ma came up with 'chokher jyoti bhalo hoye , chool bhalo hoye'(good for the eyes, good for hair) in lauki's honour. I was not convinced. That did not stop her from feeding us with the harmless veggie though. That was the thing with disciplining those days. You were not given too many choices. If there was food on the table, you had to eat it.Period.

I am aghast at the options available to children these days & the tantrums they get away with. The apparent  emancipation of women has resulted in the parents unable to spend too much time with the kids and giving in to their demands all too easily, to make up for their absence. Wherever we are heading as a civilization only time will tell...

Meanwhile it took me a life threatening surgery to take stalk of where I was headed. I took to pranayam & vegetarianism with a vengeance. And never looked back. That was three years ago. Since then, I've had more lauki in my life than all my lifetimes put together :) 
Thank you Baba Ramdev.

Not only have I come to love it, I even recommend it to people for reasons of health. And happiness. Nobody gets a size zero by eating pizzas, wassay ;)

Try this recipe. Simple. Tasty. Healthy. Lauki Lazzatdar for you, ladies,gentlemen & kids!

1. 1 small lauki(or 1/2 if you wish)
2. One medium/large potato
3. 1 tomato
4. Whole green chilli/Red chilli powder
5. Zeera(cumin seeds)-1/4 teaspoon
6. Turmeric powder
7. Garam masala powder-1/4 teaspoon
8. Salt to tast
9. Oil to cook

Peel the lauki & potato. I used half lauki to serve three.Cut them into cubes & soak them in water till your oil heats up.

In the hot oil, add zeera till it crackles.

Fry the potato cubes for 2 mins & then add the lauki pieces.

Add the red chilli powder. I used Kashmiri Red Mirch powder which gives more colour than pungency. 

Add the tomato cubes & fry for 2 mins.

Add 1/4 teaspoon of garam masala. 

This is the purest garam masala powder I'm  using. My masi sent it all the way from Delhi. The man grinds the masala in front for you so you can't be fooled into buying fake spices.
The aroma of your dish once you add this is hard to describe.


Fry all the ingredients, add salt, & give 
the cooker 2 whistles, one at high , one at 
Serve hot with chappati/ pitta bread.
The reddish colour of the otherwise bland dish is thanks to the tomato & kashmiri mirch. The dhaba look of the dish makes it more palatable for the family. And earns you kudos!
Go green , people!