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Archive for the ‘Tea Party’ Category

Getting it Right

In Ruminations and rants, Tea Party on September 29, 2010 at 11:15 pm

the cup that cheers

Thank you all, for making time in your busy and (sometimes) maddening lives to indulge me once again this year.  Many of you out there (even the silent ones who show up only in the stats!) have become like friends over the last few years, and what better way to celebrate with all of you than by having a virtual tea party! This annual Party happens around India’s Independence Day, and this year, aptly, it is also about our Rights and the Responsibilities that come with them.

There can be no Tea Party without cake and we had plenty of those in all shapes and sizes and flavours! There were spicy puff pastries, savoury and sweet scones, hot chillies and bhel, cooling ice cream cakes, all accompanied by pots and pots of hot teas, and cold coffee! Read the rest of this entry »

Scones for Afternoon Tea

In Bread, on the side, Tea Party, Under 30 min!, Vegetarian on September 5, 2010 at 10:24 pm

tomato and cucumber sandwiches

Have you been enjoying your afternoon tea with friends and family? I have been!

tomato and cucumberThis monsoon the rains have been really heavy and incessant.  Greens generally disappear from the shelves in this season as they spoil in less than a day.  Coriander becomes elusive and very expensive.   The Big Apple stores, thankfully, stock it in sufficient quantity.  But this Friday when I went to restock in the evening they were out and I couldn’t make the all-time tea-time Indian favourite – chutney sandwiches.  When we were kids no birthday party was complete without these. Instead, I had to settle for the other favourite – cucumber, tomato, and Amul cheese sandwiches! I brewed a large pot of tea just for myself (TH is a teatotaler), prepared the sandwiches (not all that dainty, it wasn’t an English tea after all) and had myself a jolly good time.

Today, my parents dropped by for lunch. I served them a most delicious vegetarian lunch which included Kerala-style bittergourds cooked in coconut milk with sour mango (this is now one of my favourite ways to cook karela!), a Maharashtrain style stir-fried bhindi (okra split along the length into two, and stir fried in oil tempered with rai seeds, hing, turmeric, and red chilli powder), pumpkin kootu (using Bee and Jai’s recipe for kootu podi), served with roti and rice. My parents thoroughly enjoyed their meal! As did I. Awesome. Even if I say so myself.

After a brief siesta we needed the afternoon cup. I served it with fruity scones. It was my first attempt at making scones and they turned out rather well. They were light, with a barely crusty bottom. Split, smothered with homemade jam (I served with the quince marmalade as well as this season’s mango jam) they were the perfect accompaniment to our afternoon tea! I recommend them wholeheartedly! Read the rest of this entry »

Let’s have a Tea Party!

In Tea Party, This and That on August 22, 2010 at 3:50 pm

A Mad Tea Party

Image Credit: The Victorian Hub

I think a Tea Party is a fabulous idea (thank you, Aparna) –  what could be a better way to celebrate another year, the fourth, of A Mad Tea Party! The posts may not have been frequent this year but the blog managed good press.  It made it to the top five Indian food blogs on Good Housekeeping magazine (okay, that’s not such a big deal, but it is still good press :)), and starred in an interesting documentary, Feasting, Fasting,  on NDTV24x7.

the tea pot

Around here we really don’t need an excuse to throw a party.  But, an idea, a theme is fun.  In fact, that is how the Party started; we got talking on healthy eating and before you could say ‘no-fat’, we were frying!  A Party is not about making yourself ill, but it is about indulging yourself occasionally, giving yourself the break you surely deserve.  Since the theme this year has veered towards Freedom and the Responsibilities that come with it, we are all free to bring whatever we like to the Party!  Roll, fold, steam, boil, fry, or bake; sandwiches or scones, treacle or tarts, teacakes or coffeecakes, shortcakes or cupcakes (or muffins!), biscuits or cookies, samosas or pakoras, dhokla or muthiya, masala peanuts or chanajor garamyour choice! Get a few friends together, if you can,  and have yourself a real Tea Party.  Cook as much or as little as you like.  Yes, it does have to be a Tea Party, the madder the better! No Breakfast, Brunch, or Dinner recipes; I am hosting a Tea Party! Read the rest of this entry »

Tea in the Afternoon

In Kashmiri, Tea Party, Under 30 min! on June 3, 2010 at 1:12 pm

Shir Chai 01

You all know about my penchant for tea.  Just about any tea.  And Kashmiris have many.  Kahva or Mogul Chai is now almost as well known as the regular chai we drink everyday.  There is another, not seen or heard outside the community, but as loved by us Kashmiris.

Not so long ago even Kahva was unfamiliar and strange to the North Indian palate here in Delhi; the Kahva my mother-in-law offered as a special treat to her kitty-party buddies twenty years ago did not generate much enthusiasm and made me wary of offering shir chai to anyone but family.

A typical family get-together will begin with rounds of Kahva as we wait for the folk to gather.  There may be some matthi or pastry puffs or tchot (nan-like leavened flat bread) that someone is sure to have brought along.  Then we will all proceed to stuff ourselves to the gills on the traditional fare that is mandatory at a Kashmiri gathering.  It may seem repetitive to TH but we never tire of our rogan josh (curried mutton) or mutsch or kaliya or yakhni or haak or monjji or dum olu or panir or nadur (lotus stem) or palak (spinach).  Yes, that is pretty much the standard menu you will find at any Kashmiri party.  After having just finished the richest meal imaginable, we will all likely say yes to a cup of this salty milky tea.  In fact, the party isn’t over till we do.  Of course, there are always a few poor souls who will decline in favour of “Lipton Chai” aka regular Indian black tea that the entire country loves to drink.

Read the rest of this entry »

Blue cheese anyone?

In Tea Party on March 20, 2010 at 5:20 pm

blue cheese crackers

Stinky foods – how we love them!  Of course, we don’t necessarily all agree on which ones stink and which don’t.  Sometimes, we may even find them aromatic!  Take hing or asafoetida, for example.  I doubt if there is an Indian who would denounce it because it stinks.  In fact, we may even believe it imparts our food an added layer of complexity.  The European world relinquished this foetid resin a long time ago only to make other stinkier foods their cherished delicacies!

While Anthony Bourdain feels that a life without stinky cheese, amongst other less loved foods, is not a life worth living at all, Samar (who I only recently discovered is also a food writer!), thinks all kinds of dried stinky sea food is divine. I love my onion and garlic and am planning to give dried fish another shot very soon. I like what fish sauce does to Thai curries; even shrimp paste. I don’t think Brie stinks. In fact, I love most cheeses I have come across. But, blue cheese, for all the snobbery associated with this moldy one, has been a different story altogether. I cannot swallow it. I actually gag.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mad Tea Party: Express Indian

In Ruminations and rants, Tea Party, This and That on August 24, 2009 at 12:38 am

It was hard to come up with a title that had already not been used!  Quick Indian Cooking, Express Cooking, Simple Indian Food, Quick and Easy Indian Cooking, and my own section, Under-30-minutes! And yet, people want to continue to shroud Indian cuisine under difficult and complex.  Complex – I sure hope it is!  How can you expect simple from a culture that can say ‘cook’ in 1652 different languages! Even when we use just 5 ingredients to create a dish, it still turns out with shades of complexity!  But that, I think, is the sign of a cuisine that has evolved… over millenia, in our case.

The notion that Indian Cuisine is too complicated, too time consuming, and too rich is widespread.  That should make us a nation of smart (though idle), fat people. Which, urban India might actually be – fat, not idle – but I digress.  We have another Party coming up.  For the First one we all fried poori and served it with potato bhaji.  For the Second Party we chose to share our deep fried love with batata vada in its many avatars.  For this Third Edition, I am thinking we should address some of  Manisha’s concerns and see how we can help dispel the notion that Indian cooking is all about toiling in the kitchen, deciphering complicated techniques and recipes, and dousing it all in some heavy cream before serving.

India is the flavour of the season.  Which means that more people than ever before now know where to look for it on the globe.  There is also a growing awareness about the  myriad mini-Indias that exist within her, complete with their own language, culture and, of course, cuisine.  In India there is nothing known as Indian Food, or curry powder, for that matter!  We do have Kashmiri, Punjabi, Maharashtrain, Bengali, Andhra, Tamil cuisines…. which itself is a nomenclature quite inadequate to express the distinctive regional variations found within the states!  In cultural complexity it will not be an exaggeration to equate India to the European Union where the States of India are akin to the European member Nations!  European – a complex cuisine?  You bet!  Break the whole into its parts, and the mist starts to lift.

So, how about we find some of the less complicated gems from within the regional Indian cuisines and bring them to the Party – A Mad Tea Party – III? The dish should have six ingredients (or less), and it should be possible to cook it in 30 minutes (or less).  Time needed for soaking ingredients, rising time etc, need not be included into this calculation.  Essentially time when you can be fully occupied doing something else entirely is exempt from inclusion.  If you like, you may also subtract unsupervised time such as “pressure cook for 10 min,” “cover and cook for 15 min,” if no stirring at all is needed, as in the cooking of soaked beans and lentils in a pressure cooker.  This will ensure that those of us not having access to canned products or not wanting to use such processed ingredients are not disadvantaged on account of time.

If you can make a meal of it in the stipulated 30 minutes, all the better for it.  Since frozen vegetables are part of our lives now, these are permissible.  For those who would like to use fresh, veggie preparation time may be indicated separate from the other preparation and/or cooking time.  The essential part being, that it should be possible to cook the dish in 30 minutes of active time, using whatever shortcuts available to us today.

The rules are simple:

  • Cook an Indian party dish* using  not more than 6 ingredients (not counting salt and chillies), in 30 minutes max. (from the kitchen to the table). The chosen dish need not be fat free but, must not be swimming in grease of any kind, including fresh cream.  Write a post about it (with or without a recipe D ; list the ingredients used and the time taken to prepare the dish) – the region it belongs to, how you enjoyed it, maybe a picture of the dish and/or the family enjoying the dish. (Old posts don’t count!)
  • Deadline: You have till September 13 to do this.
  • Too hot to cook? Go out and eat one of these light dishes at a restaurant! The portion will be right, and you don’t have to stew even for 30 min! Write a post about it, and how you really enjoyed it!
  • Link to this post. You may, if you like, use a Pingback and it will automatically show up in the comments here. Or leave a comment on this post which will lead us to your post!
  • Don’t have a blog? You can still join the party; just leave a comment here about how you enjoyed your easy Indian dish! You may, if you like, provide a link to any pictures you may have posted on a photo-sharing site such as Flickr or Photobucket.  I will include your name in the list of those who participated!

* Any dish that you think you will include in a Party menu for your friends counts as a Party Dish.

Have a Party!

Another chance – a piece of cake?

In Desserts, Muffins and Cookies, on the side, Tea Party, Under 30 min! on May 18, 2009 at 6:13 pm

Despite what you might be beginning to think. I haven’t fallen through any hole and disappeared from the surface of this earth.  Though, I came pretty close to just that this past weekend.

Given the hectic work pace of the past month, a fleeting thought that this might be our last chance to find some time with a young son on the threshold of adulthood (and college), and the by-now oppressive Delhi summer, we decided to steal a quick trip into the neighbouring Himalayan foothills.  A few calls and we were booked for an extended weekend in the tea gardens of Palampur.

But I am not going to be able to tell you anything about the tea there.  We never made it that far.  We had a nasty accident just a few hours out of Delhi and are really lucky to have made it back at all!  It even seemed a bit surreal after the crazy moments of the actual crash for the first few seconds of which we did not even know what was going on.  There we were turned 180 degrees and looking at the giant trailer that had just fish-tailed us!  Thankfully, the truck loaded with reinforcement steel wasn’t going too fast and came to a stop without dragging us too far or crushing into us further.  It was all over in a matter of seconds.  I looked around – all seemed okay, got out of the car and walked over to the side…. I was pretty amazed at my steady steps!

Good karma. :)  And another chance at A Mad Tea Party!

A silver lining of the botched trip was that I was able to be in town for a visiting friend.  Shilpa was going to come over with her daughter and friends for A Mad Tea Party.

Read the rest of this entry »

Getting into Spring: Paneer Tikka

In Low Fat, on the side, Punjab, Tea Party, Vegetables, Vegetarian on March 13, 2009 at 10:04 pm

kanji

Spring is here and Delhi is a riot of colour. There are the myriad shades of green and now the blooms. To all this, Holi added its bright colours this week.

skewered

It has been a while since we joined in the revelry that Holi is but a party is always welcome. My MIL would always make fruit salad on this day. But who can handle all that cream in this day and age. One Holi we ate homemade pizza and ordered ice cream. If I feel like I will sometimes make gujiya, the traditional Holi sweet here in the North.  [Some other traditional Holi recipes here.]

This year all I did was cut up great looking purple carrots and start the process of preparing a cooling fermented drink… (yes, Pel are you listening?) As it turns out, it is a traditional drink for Holi second only to the frothy bhang! It is an apt one alright – with that deep purple colour…

While you wait for that recipe, here’s the one I promised last time – great party fare this one too. Read the rest of this entry »

Paneer Tikka Parties, and other things

In on the side, Punjab, Tea Party, This and That, Uncategorized, Vegetarian on February 28, 2009 at 10:00 pm

labne
My entry for Click Feb: Cheese!

It has been a very busy time for me on the personal front this time. First my sister was visiting from CT, and now I have a friend visiting from Chennai. From Monday will start the stress of the XII Boards for the son. But it hasn’t kept us from having a jolly good time. The kitchen has been buzzing with activity.

Read the rest of this entry »

Divali Treats: namak pare

In Maharashtrian, on the side, Tea Party, Traditions and Customs, Vegetarian on October 27, 2008 at 7:17 pm

reading corner
The lights are up!

Yesterday, on dhanteras (the thirteenth day of the Hindu lunar month of Ashwin), I gathered up some enthusiasm to get the Divali cooking underway.  There was no way I could have shopped for gold – the prices are at a record high and the market at a record low.  Making Divali treats seemed to be just the thing to get the festivities off to a happy start. The easiest munchies to make are shankarpare and namak pare, one sweet, the other salty.

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