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

Archive for the ‘Vegetarian’ Category

Tchaman Kaliya (Paneer in a milky broth)

In Kashmiri, Potatoes, Under 30 min!, Vegetarian on October 24, 2010 at 10:37 pm

Paneer kalia, radish greens, andhra daal

Paneer is de rigueur for a Kashmiri vegetarian spread.  Good high-fat milk is hard to come by in mountainous Kashmir since there are no water buffaloes; low fat cow milk is what you get.  Despite this, dahi (yoghurt) and paneer are plentiful and a regular part of the diet.  On days fasting is prescribed, all Kashmiri Pandits practice vegetarianism; even those who may not be fasting.  Observing periodic dietary restrictions are to be found in most faiths and belief systems, be it Ramzan for Muslims, or Lent for Christians. Us Hindus seem rather fond of fasting and have created an immense variety of them.  To add to the fun, each fast comes with its own rules: what is kosher, what is not, or the length of the fasting period (half a day to up to an entire month).  You may also chose the frequency of fasting: weekly, fortnightly, monthly, or yearly.  If you like to walk your own path, well, you could even customise your fasting routine.

Some food preparations are so intricately tied with f(e)asting that it is hard to imagine anyone would cook them on ‘normal’ days!  Breaking of a fast with specific foods also brings a special significance to those foods and further intensifies the link between our memories of events and places with the food we eat.

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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 »

Sourdough Bread

In Bread, Vegetarian on July 11, 2010 at 11:15 pm

My best loaf!

It has been a busy summer in the office despite the short break from teaching.  The son is home after completing his first year of college.  No, I have not been busy cooking for him.  Young men who need not work through the summer prefer to spend long hours playing mind-numbing games on the Net.  This cannot be done during daylight hours because the computers are occupied by parents working to pay college fees.  Nights turn into days and days into nights (for the son) and we are lucky if we catch him at lunch.

It was good that we whisked him on vacation the moment he was home and managed some ‘quality’ time before he could react!  Around the same time my sister also visited us and it was great to extend the vacation and spend time together.  Even she was complaining that I haven’t been very regular with my blog posts…

grapes of summer Read the rest of this entry »

Potato chips anyone?

In on the side, Potatoes, Under 30 min!, Vegetarian on February 10, 2010 at 11:52 am

potato chips

Winter seemed almost over.  The sun was out from behind the fog and days were back to being like they are in Delhi – bright and shiny.  There were signs of spring and I was determined to turn over a new leaf.

You have to make the most of spring in my neck of the woods; you blink and you might have missed an entire season.  Not so fast.  We are back to gloomy overcast days; with added rain, for good measure.  Which is all fine; who needs summer along before spring has had a chance.  Just that I decided to put the sunshine to good use and make a batch of home-style potato chips which are an essential ingredient in my chiwda.  Long story short – Lord Indra got a whiff, took a peek, decided to stay.  I thought I would get around him and make sure I had chips that stayed white as if they had received their two days in the bright sun.  Yup, the sun does different things for different people – some it bleaches, others it tans.  Determined to save my chips from browning I heated the oven, turned it down all the way to barely warm, set my cellphone alarm for 10 minutes, and went up to the office with my cup of tea. One hour later…
…toast!

potato chips
Yes, these are from last year’s batch! :-)

Well anyway, it was good weather for potato soup, which is what we ate for dinner last night. Read the rest of this entry »

Curry (leaf) Powder

In Chutneys, south Indian, Under 30 min!, Vegetarian on December 5, 2009 at 12:27 am

curryleaf podi

We are well into winter now here in Delhi. Autumn is past; the tiny leaves of Gulmohur have finally done their main shedding. It’s not bare, it never is, but we don’t sweep up a pile of leaves by the gate anymore. This is also the time when a lot of us feel the need to prune some of the evergreens so that there may be just a little more sun on the ground. My curry leaf tree does tend to shade my lime and keeps it from bearing a winter crop. It was also growing a bit too tall with hardly any low handy branches for a quick tempering. So, I had my gardener lop off a few branches last month.

It would have been a shame to have that huge pile of curry leaves go waste. Curry leaf podi has been on my list for a long time. I gathered a bunch of fresh leaves this time, like all the times before, to make into some spicy podi.  I was finally going to have curry powder in my kitchen! Actually, that is not true. I did get myself some of that authentic curry powder on my last visit to the US. My brother-in-law was very kind to give me a big bottle of it which I have used to spice many mixed vegetable stir fries; perfect when I want that exotic twist :) to my everyday Indian.

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Cranberry Beans

In Kashmiri, Low Fat, Potatoes, Under 30 min!, Vegetarian on November 12, 2009 at 7:46 pm

cranberry beans

It’s nippy tonight – it has snowed in the mountains and it is raining in Delhi.  Some beans and rice is just what I would like…

I was lucky to get a little of the stash of fresh cranberry beans that a cousin brought over from a visit to the valley and shared with my mom who, indulgently, shared it further with me.  I had never seen these beans fresh before.  They are called thool razma in Kashmiri. Much rounder than the regular kidney beans, they do indeed, resemble tiny spotted eggs!  I had never cooked with them or even eaten fresh ones before so I asked my mom for some general directions.  She suggested I cook them with potatoes using the usual Kashmiri combination of fennel and dried ginger powder. Read the rest of this entry »

Walking down memory lane…

In Fruit, Kashmiri, on the side, Preserves, This and That, Under 30 min!, Vegetarian on November 1, 2009 at 1:02 am

Quince

If you take a good look, you will find that the majority of the posts on this blog are around memories. Mostly memories about food. Yet, from the moment Manisha announced her IFR: Memories I seem to have been at a loss for words! Her deadline, extended, is looming and I can feel the pressure as she churns out post after daily post on IFR.

Many of my vivid memories are around food, which must be true for a lot of you. Despite nostalgia rendering most things pink, resurrecting food of our memories usually turns out well. Unless you are attempting to recreate your mother’s cooking. That one is hard to get spot on. Few can rival a mother’s prowess. Hopefully, our children will look at our cooking the same way, and we will have our spot in the limelight.

This summer, for example, before setting off for college faraway, the son finally awarded me a 10-on-10 for my rogan josh. He also added that not only had I cooked a swell rogan josh, I now had my own secret ingredient for it! Which was true – I had tweaked my mother’s recipe a tad – I added a teeny weeny bit of ground mace. What was I to do – after trying in vain to match her rogan josh for ten years, I rebelled and made it better :). Well, not really. By that time I had likely put in my time – the minimum requisite to get certification – behind cooking rogan josh to have finally got the art down. Yes, recipes evolve…in an effort to better your mom’s cooking when you can’t make it just like her. I bet my son’s food memories are starting to stack up. Read the rest of this entry »

Classic Shrikhand

In Desserts, Low Fat, Maharashtrian, Under 30 min!, Vegetarian on September 30, 2009 at 11:29 pm

shrikhand

My previous post didn’t quite make the cut for Express Indian: 6-ingredients-or-under because I had one ingredient too many and there were some protests that I was breaking my own rules. Little do you know that we Delhi-ites are like that only; we know rules are made so that they may be broken!  Nor are we about to turn over a new leaf just because the Commonwealth Games are round the bend and the honourable Minister of Home Affairs P. Chidambram feels we ought to mend our ways. Some things take time.

Meanwhile, here is another Express recipe, this time from TH’s home state of Maharashtra: second to none, the Shrikhand, a creamy dessert that comes together in no time and involves no cooking.  But do plan ahead, more so if you are planning to make the chukka (hung curd) at home.  Shrikhand tastes best if you allow 12-24 hours for the delicate  flavours to meld.  Some like shrikhand to be really smooth and achieve this by passing the mix through a sieve.  In our house we like some texture to shrikhand and skip this step.  My mother-in-law used to add a few spoonfuls of malai (clotted cream) to the chukka.  Every now and then there would be a tiny nugget of the soured malai that gave the shrikhand an additional richness and texture.  But gone are those days of buying fresh water-buffalo milk every morning (long live low-fat lifestyles), skimming the malai off, adding some yoghurt for culture, and collecting it over the next week or two to make butter and ghee. The buttermilk from churning this cultured clotted cream made the best kadhi. Undoubtedly. Sigh.

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Palak Panir

In Low Fat, Punjab, Under 30 min!, Vegetables, Vegetarian on September 18, 2009 at 10:26 pm

Palak Paneer

I have been cooking a lot of express-Indian these past few months. In fact, my usual cooking is reasonably Express, and predominantly Indian. But this was additionally challenging because I was looking for 6 ingredients or less. I am going to take some creative license and add oil to the list of not-to-be-counted ingredients. There is just a tablespoon of it anyway.

Yes, really. And, no cream. Sorry to have been the harbinger of this disappointing information but it is true that in the ‘real’ palak-panir (pah-luk-pun-nir) there is no cream. The creamed-spinach is likely the contribution of some restaurant-cook to fulfill the expectations of Indian food (quasi-Punjabi-Mughlai in most restaurants abroad) shimmering in that layer of floating fat. You do serve sarson-ka-saag makhan mar ke (splattered-with-butter) but not palak panir. Or, maybe, the name-change that this dish underwent when it was exported to the Western shores might have had something to do with this. Palak-(ka-saag)-panir got mixed up with the aforementioned saag and somewhere along the way became saag panirSaag is the generic word for ‘greens’ in Punjabi, but when used by itself usually refers to mustard greens. I believe I have come across recipes (on food blogs) for mustard greens cooked with panir. Inspired? ConFusion? I will keep my counsel.  Maybe Punjabi-kudi can shed more light on this subject… Read the rest of this entry »

Dolmas (Stuffed Grape Leaves)

In From the Garden, Low Fat, on the side, Rice, Vegetarian on June 28, 2009 at 1:02 pm

I know, I know – I have been neglecting the blog.  I think i might have writer’s block.  The thing with writing is that you must just keep at it; that’s the only way to get past it.  You cut yourself some slack, waiting for inspiration to strike, and before you know it you have arrived at Writer’s Block!  Sticky place, that.

the vine

Yet it’s not as if it has been an uneventful month.  The Big News is that the son has graduated from highschool. Pappu pass ho gaya!! :D Not just that, he has also managed a place at a good college down South to study the subject he wishes to.  Yes, if all goes as per plan, he is slated to become an engineer in four years.

This is also a month of birthdays in the family, and everyone is a year older.  The son can vote now.  As for me, well… I don’t think 44 is any kind of a milestone…  After 40, they seem to whiz by.

Yet, this birthday ended up special in many ways.  The day began with the usual phone calls from my Mom and sis.  Then my neighbour T walked in to wish me and reminded me about our lunch appointment – yes, T took me out to lunch!  It was after a very long time that I actually liked everything I had ordered at a restaurant.  Thank you, T, for a wonderful afternoon!

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