mostly about food and cooking, but also the stories about the Bread and the Butterflies!

Archive for November, 2006|Monthly archive page

Refrigerator Pickles

In Low Fat, Preserves, Under 30 min!, Vegetables on November 29, 2006 at 5:46 pm

Mooli and beet Pickle 02

Fibre, over at 28 cooks, wrote about vegetable pickles. I bookmarked it and then let it slide (going back to drool on the picture now and then). And then Tea at Tea and Cookies wrote about her version of radish pickles and I thought I absolutely must make these. And then she posted about them again. What was I to do?

You may have had all kinds of pickles (and there is no limit to the variety in Indian pickles!) but, as far as I know, these are the best looking pickles. Ever. One look and you will not be able to keep yourselves from making them for very long.

Even that blog-her friend of mine who is on a diet plan :) . This is no oil-based Indian pickle, but more like a salad just waiting in a jar.

I looked at the other links from the above blogs and then tweaked the basic recipe to suit the ingredients I had at hand. Without further ado, let me get to the recipe. The pictures sell the pickle! It sits in my fridge like a glowing ruby, getting deeper every day.

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Giving Thanks with Corn, Potatoes and Carrots

In Bread, Potatoes, Tea Party, Vegetables on November 23, 2006 at 11:27 pm

cornbread
cornbread

Divali starts the festive season. Actually, Dussehra does. And now it is Thanksgiving, and all the blogs are reflecting this. Since most of the Indian food-bloggers are US based, it is all over the Indi-blogs as well, and we can safely assume, it is now another Holiday we can lay claim to. And Indians never shy away from embracing a Holiday – another day to goof off from work, another day to partay!

Holi, Divali, Eid, Ramzan, Gupurab, Christmas, and New Year – they are all as Indian as chai. And we are beginning to get attached to Valentine’s Day as well! The Government of India presently has seventeen (!) official Holidays in a year!

The first time I found out about this very American holiday, I was intrigued that it did not involve religion! It does involve ‘the Pilgrims’ though – but that is just another word for colonisers, no? Most of us associate this holiday with ‘giving thanks’, but the truth may have become ‘coloured’ over time. For some perspective you can look up No Thanks to Thanksgiving, and if it is too ‘coloured’ for you, this article in the Seattle Times tells us a bit about the real Thanksgiving menu!

Kamla got me thinking about what Thanksgiving means to me (and you can listen to the podcast interview!); I can tell you that it is about sharing what you have and also about accepting what is different in others. That is something I personally experienced in all the Thanksgivings I spent in the US. My friends shared their tradition, their home, and food with me. In fact, on my first Thanksgiving, I was a total stranger to the host family. And yet there I was, with my kheer*, featured on their hand-made menu cards, which we all signed at the end of the long laid-back lunch. I still have mine!

Thanksgiving

The menu today, authentic or not, featured potatoes (mashed potatoes), corn (cornbread with cumin and coriander), carrots (baked carrot fries), stir-fried vegetables, and mango relish. The turkey was missing, and I would have loved to use the drippings to make the gravy for the mashed potatoes. Since last year, turkeys have become available at the INA Market in Delhi. And one small turkey is my entire year’s chicken, mutton, and fish budget, combined! Thanks but no, thanks.

Bring on the food – it’s Thanksgiving! And thank you, America, for sharing your tradition with me.

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All the Goodness of Eggs

In Eggs, Low Fat, Under 30 min!, Vegetables on November 18, 2006 at 11:13 pm

Eggs 01

I have never been into fad diets. Nor do I reposit my faith in pretend foods. Why would anyone eat I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter when you can have the real thing which is Butter. But when I was younger I did attempt ‘altering’ my diet occasionally.

To find an alternative to tasty butter-toast, I would quick-cook a bunch of ‘green’ things – onions, tomatoes, sweet peppers, sometimes mushrooms, lots of coriander, some mint and green chillies – season it with salt and pepper and serve it on toast. A delicious alternative you will agree.

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Adai, the Other Dosa

In Bread, Rice on November 14, 2006 at 8:48 pm

Adai
Let that ‘potato soup’ post sit for another month. I’m going to write about the adai.

By now you all must know all there is to know about the various kinds of idlies and dosai. But, wait a minute, if you are not from the South, you may not have heard of this less-famous cousin, the adai. Less famous, but I would crown this one as the King.

At the homes of the two Tambram schoolmates of mine, adai was cooked more often than the more seemingly popular (at least in North India) rice-urad dal dosa. The batter for the adai is coarser and never is it spread thin like the paper-dosa. A thin dosa, incidentally, is something I don’t care much for. I like my dosa to have some ‘meat’ on it. No wafer-thin anorexic looks for me. I wouldn’t be surprised if it is actually a North Indian ‘intervention’. Is it?

I have been making these for years…I went without adais for a very long time though. There were Tamil classmates in college, a bunch of then in fact, but for reasons unknown they would bring only paranthas for lunch! At last CY Gopinath starting writing on Tamil food in the TOI (in the early 90′s perhaps). And I waited with abated breath every Sunday…and one day he wrote about the adai (and other dosas)! I am sure I must have actually jumped for the joy of it! Not much to the recipe really. He wrote a short paragraph that I have preserved all these years (should probably get it laminated).

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Spread #1: cream cheese with sun-dried tomatoes

In Dips and Spreads, Low Fat, Tea Party, Under 30 min! on November 12, 2006 at 9:30 am

sun-dried tomato dip
As I said, there are many tastes that we try to recreate within the limitations of the Indian home kitchen. Earlier the challenge was the unavailability of the fancy ingredients. Now, when most are readily available, I sometimes refuse to buy ‘ordinary’ ingredients such as Philly cream cheese or sun-dried tomatoes if they’re going to cost an arm and a leg. There are others like fish sauce which I must. I haven’t looked for a recipe yet, and doubt if TH will be all that understanding if I stink up the house instead of just the dish I am going to eat all by myself. Believe it or not, I’m the only one who likes Thai in this house!

Now, the cream cheese base I use here is something I have used for years and years. But I used to call it curd-cheese till I had Philly for the first time. So, on my return to India, I knew cream cheese would not be hard to get.

Sun-dried tomatoes?? How to get these without burning a hole in the pocket for something that is basically not so dear? Brace yourself people, here comes another tip that will save many of you who may be the quintessentially penny-pinching Indians (like me :) . It’s a good thing!) some moolah, or help out those of you away from what we erroneously call ‘civilization’, or even those who just want to have more control over what goes inside.

Now, all of us have heard of cooking with dried vegetables, right? Nothing new there. In Kashmir it was very common to dry most vegetable for use later in the winter months when everything would be blanketed in snow. Turnips and turnip greens, egg plant, cauliflower, and even bottle gourd! Dried vegetables have a unique taste and smell all their own. As does hawgaad, the tiny dried fish cooked with other things. I never liked that; only smell, no meat.

If you can dry gourd, you can pretty much dry anything, I thought. And Italians obviously dry the tomatoes in sun?!

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Bagels for Breakfast

In Bread, Tea Party on November 9, 2006 at 8:03 pm

bagel 01
Many of you lucky readers live in the US where you can have a decent bagel whenever you like. Now, did I just provide all of you with an opening to vent?!! Well, anyway, the rest of us in India and similar places don’t have any kind, as can be expected. But those of us who have spent some extended time in the US are aware of the bagel and its place at breakfast.

And we get nostalgic about them. I used to like mine especially smothered with cream cheese. Part of the nostalgia was because it reminded me of the taelwor (this is the best I can do spelling a Kashmiri word), a small sesame covered bread baked by the neighbourhood kandur (baker), available all over Srinagar. These are ‘evening’ breads, meaning they are available later in the afternoon, in time for the afternoon tea. The taelwor is especially good with sheerchai, the salty milky tea that is topped with malai (cream) and considered a digestive after a heavy meal! It is dense and chewy like a bagel – a good bagel is supposed to be chewy, right?

And Nandita’s invitation to bake for WBB#7 was the perfect excuse to make them again. But I couldn’t find the recipe I had used a couple of years ago. It had been simple enough but I didn’t want to just wing it. After a quick Google check and a review of a couple of recipes, I decided Carolina’s was almost like the one I had used. And she assures us it’s the real McCoy. So ladies (and the few gents out there) get ready to bake yourselves the perfect Jewish bagels and show them New Yorkers that we are right up there with them.

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VCC Q3 2006, Voting Has Begun!

In Ruminations and rants, Traditions and Customs on November 5, 2006 at 7:22 pm

Many of you out there already know about the Virtual Cooking Competition (VCC) that was started by VKN at My Dhaba. The third (quarter) edition entries are currently in and all of you can participate in voting for the entries of your choice. The theme for VCC Q3 2006 is Festival Foods (any cuisine).

Check out the delicious spread here and decide the wining entry. I am off to cast my vote!

Instant Gratification: Rava Idli

In Low Fat, Under 30 min! on November 4, 2006 at 12:30 pm

rava idli
Back to my favourite cuisine, food from Southern India.

The down side of this cuisine is that a lot of the quick-cooking foods require planning ahead – at least by a 24 hours! I am talking here of the breakfast/tiffin items such as the dosai and the idli. But a couple of weeks back I had this urge to have idlies, and I wanted them that very minute.

I had heard of rava idlies but never made them. Actually, never had them either.

Let me take a moment here and tell the non-natives about the correct pronunciation before these become popular in the West as super healthy fluffy fat-free breakfast thingies and everybody starts talking about them, and NDTV decides that the American pronunciation is the correct way to say the word. I kid you not – have you never heard their ‘nature’ correspondent, whats-her-name, say Him-la-yaas for what is the bloody-lofty Himalaya! (Correct pronunciation: Him-aa-la (rhyming with ‘the’)-ya (like ‘yuh’). And someone should also help them with the right way to say ‘Mumbai’. It’s not Moom-bye. It’s cute when Americans say it (just as my friends thought it was ‘cute’ when I said ‘vet’ when I meant ‘wet’!), but for Indians to forget the name of the lofty sentinel in the north – too cute.

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