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

Archive for the ‘on the side’ Category

Udon It?

In on the side, Vegetarian on November 19, 2007 at 11:28 pm

noodle 01

Here are my bundles…three bundles of organic udon noodles (Japanese wheat noodles)- perfect for the three of us. In case the fussy men in this house don’t like – more for me!

Like this clutter-free picture, I am now looking for a simple recipe for these noodles; I hope I can find one that will not involve a major restock of the pantry. From what I have reviewed, a trip to INA Market for some mirin seems inevitable. Do you have a favourite udon or soba recipe?

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My Continuing Discovery of Indian Cuisines

In Eating Out, Maharashtrian, Masalas (Spice Blends), on the side, Tea Party, Traditions and Customs, Travel, Under 30 min!, Vegetables on October 19, 2007 at 2:46 pm

I mentioned earlier the likelihood of my having been a South Indian in previous life. I believe there are people who are offended by this title – South Indian. I know not why. I do understand though, the umbrage at everyone from Southern India being (once) called ‘Madrasi’ by self-centered North Indians. May I add that for my grandma’s generation all non-Kashmiris were Punjabi – likely the only other state they had heard of from their insular position. “So, you married a Punjabi,” she would say.

Southern India is not a homogeneous region; neither is Northern India nor, for that matter, the Eastern or the Western parts of our country. And, just as the cuisine and customs of the Northern plains have a lot in common, the people of Southern Peninsular India also share a long cultural heritage.

While I have established (some might say – followed my tummy to) the general region of my previous birth as Dravidian India, I have not yet been able to point to the exact spot. In my early teens I already knew that Andhra and Tamil food gave me as much comfort as did my mum’s cooking. I relished the everyday-kind dal-based vegetable preparations (which I may not know by their names) served with thick short grain rice; idli smeared with fiery milagai podi was as much ambrosia as was tayir saadam. I discovered Kerala cuisine a little later – in my twenties – though it was confined to the odd fish curry, thorans and pachadis, and the exotic (to me) appams with either avial or ishtu.

flower seller
If you are in southern India be sure to wear some flowers in your hair…strung flowers sold by arm-lengths!

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Whew! It’s Over! Time for Some Breakfast

In Kashmiri, on the side, Rice, Traditions and Customs, Under 30 min! on September 30, 2007 at 9:44 pm

wedding roth
Party fatigue took over. But since I promised a concluding post, I will tell you a little bit more about the wedding and the events after the mehndiraat.

On the morning of the wedding, preparations were on for the Devgon – a ceremonial cleansing of the self to get ready for the next phase in one’s life – entering the grihasta (family) ashram. In India, it has always been said that a marriage is a relationship not just between two individuals but between two families. The living members and those who have passed on to the other realm. On this day the groom and his family first seek the blessings of their ancestors by performing the pitr pooja.

Hindu philosophy believes agni (fire) to be the ultimate cleanser – it can never itself be sullied or polluted, and all are equal before him. Devgon is performed around this sacred fire. The groom-to-be sits by the fire after a ceremonial bath and offers prayers to Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva. All the elders of the family participate in the ceremony and fast till the conclusion of the havan.

kheer and monjjvorDaughters of the family are always a part of the ceremonies with the bua (father’s sister) enjoying an enviable position. She prepares kheer and monjjvor (flattened moong dal vadas) on this day which are offered to the Gods and then distributed to all family members to break their fast. The function is usually followed by a simple vegetarian meal of rice and vegetables. Our lunch that day comprised of a yellow subzi of pumpkin, a fiery red dish of radish and potatoes cooked with nadur (lotus roots), and served over steamed rice with yoghurt. (Read more about Devgon and Kashmiri wedding rituals here).

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Sunny Salubri-tea

In Drinks, From the Garden, Fruit, Low Fat, on the side, Tea Party on September 10, 2007 at 1:17 am

black tea leaves

The spirit was willing…but the flesh very weak. But here I am after a not-too-long hiatus from blogging. I guess, we all need a break now and then, to get the juices flowing again.

JFI:Rice came. And went. Nothing from the Kashmir stables after having admitted “there is much Kashmiris do with rice.” That too when I have, at the least, nine varieties of rice in my pantry! And I had so planned to cook ver, the Kashmiri rice gruel/konji/risotto named after the spice mix that goes into it, that is cooked to kick off all auspicious functions. It will have to wait for some time, though I do have just the rice for it.

Meanwhile, let me serve you something cool and refreshing, while there is still some heat in the sun and warmth in the weather. Just in time for Meeta’s Monthly Mingle: Liquid Dreams.

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Green Chilli Pickle

In on the side, Pickles, Preserves, Rajasthani, Under 30 min!, Vegetables on August 2, 2007 at 9:56 pm

chilli pickle

Almost every region of India boasts a chilli variety with its own unique qualities in terms of flavour, colour, and heat. Kashmiri chillies have a deep red colour but are otherwise mild; Andhra chillies with their bright colour and fiery heat are shown off to great advantage in their pickles; and now we’ve all heard about the bhut jolokia from Assam that holds the world record for the hottest chilli.

Athana in Rajasthan is also famous for its chillies. The long and fleshy Athana mirch is pickled whole and is favoured by the Marwari community. The chillies are slit and stuffed with a mix of spices that include fennel, coriander, mustard, methi seeds, turmeric, and amchoor. A similar large chilli, much like the Bhavnagri mirch, is made into the most delicious mirchi vadas the best of which are to be found in Jodhpur.

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Greek Cucumber Salad

In Dips and Spreads, Low Fat, on the side, Under 30 min!, Vegetables on July 25, 2007 at 11:12 pm

greek cucumber salad
This is my son’s favourite salad. And it is, perhaps, the oldest recipe in my repertoire. I read the recipe in National Geographic Kid’s, NatGeo’s magazine for children, when I was about 13 years old, and have been making it since.

Yes, it is very much like the Indian cucumber raita. But with a twist. This raita includes lime juice, which I had thought odd, since dahi is already a little tart. But am I glad my young mind didn’t decide to omit it! I have a rule of sorts – the first time around I try to stick to a recipe as much as possible, substituting only if an ingredient is unavailable.

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Axe Soup aka Bottle Gourd Peel Chutney

In Chutneys, Maharashtrian, on the side, Under 30 min!, Vegetables on June 25, 2007 at 1:02 am

doodhi peel chutney
Kulhadi ka dalia is the Hindi translation of the Russian folktale Axe Soup that I read many summers ago. It is a version of Stonesoup, and a story that I find similar to this bottle gourd peel chutney.

You’ve all probably heard some version of the story in your childhood. In Stonesoup the message is more about the pleasure of sharing and the good that comes from cooperation. The Axe Soup carries a subtle lesson about human management – how to use the inherent greed in fellow humans, of wanting to get something out of nothing, to get out of others more than they are willing to give.

But little do we expect to ever come face to face with legends outside of books of tales.

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A Delhi Summer – On the Streets

In Dips and Spreads, Eating Out, Low Fat, on the side, Ruminations and rants, Tea Party, Travel, Under 30 min!, Vegetables on May 16, 2007 at 8:10 am

It is not easy to sum up an old city like Delhi, with all the layering, in one post. And I am not planning to attempt it.

In this city of 10 million people there is no getting away from the crowd. There are people everywhere, and they continue to pour in – from smaller cities and the villages. The biggest influx into Delhi was in 1947, during the Partition of the country, when many Hindus and Sikhs from West Punjab (now in Pakistan) sought refuge.

It is only natural that a city 3000 years old has imbibed influences from all over the world, and these are reflected in its culture – art and architecture, language, and of course, in its cuisine. The Persian influence is prominent in the Mughlai cuisine, though the Punjabi flavours predominate today. But whosoever came and settled here had to deal with the hot and dusty summers.

Amaltas
An Amaltas in all its glory

Not that that is an entirely bad thing. How else would the mango :-) be so sweet? While the temperate world revels in its fall colours, we have a green green spring followed by the vibrant summer. The sun makes our greens shine, the reds brighter, and the yellows sunnier. Who can rival the Gulmohur (Delonix regia) or the Amaltas (Cassia fistula), when it comes to a show of colour?

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Patode/Alu Wadi (Taro Leaf Spirals)

In on the side, Tea Party, Vegetables on May 10, 2007 at 5:32 pm

taro leaves
Taro leaves (also called not to be confused with Elephant’s Ears) from the garden

This blog has become a ready reckoner for the family and myself where I record family recipes and favourites. You will not find any disaster stories here (who can tell the future though? :D ).

We are quite a mixed bunch in the family, and now spread all over the world. There are mostly Hindus, one Muslim, a few Christians, and a couple of atheists thrown in for good measure :) , with skin tones varying from white to black through all the gold tones, in my extended family which now counts Kashmir, Maharashtra, USA, Gujarat, UK, Punjab, Karnataka, Uttaranchal, Bihar, West Bengal, and Kerala as represented. I am talking first cousins and Aunts and Uncles only. Since marrying into a Maharahstrian household there is much that has been added to my repertoire which is unfamiliar to some of the rest of the family (you’d think!). Over the years they too have developed a taste for this cuisine and enjoy cooking some of their favourites in their own kitchens. Maharashtrian banana koshimbir (a left-side item) getting mistaken occasionally for dessert by the Kashmiri relatives notwithstanding :D . And, I might add, some Maharashtrians have lunged for the mujj chatin expecting kheer! :lol: And this is not the half of it.

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Whole Wheat Pita and some Labneh

In Bread, Dips and Spreads, Low Fat, on the side, Tea Party, Under 30 min! on April 11, 2007 at 3:10 pm

labneh

The Arab-middle east-North Africa region, even the Mediterranean, have much that can be thought of as a common food heritage with the Indian subcontinent. The use of spices such as cumin, peppercorns, nutmeg, and bayleaf provide for the linking aromas, and the prominence of lentils and beans as a major ingredient in everyday food also speaks of a shared history. I find the similarities even more striking with North Indian food.

It is a cuisine for which the Indian palate needs no gradual tuning. We can embrace it in a bear hug the very first time we meet.

Besides the similarity in the use of spices, lentils and beans, as also vegetables, I find the plentiful use of yoghurt and the variety in flatbreads another reason for its easy adaptability to the Indian meal time. Even when meat is part of the meal, it is never the meal itself, and will always be served with some bread akin to out roti/parantha, and maybe a small bowl of dahi, the kind that has become better known as Greek-style yoghurt.

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