In Bread, Deep Fried!, Potatoes, Tea Party, Uttar Pradesh, Vegetables, Vegetarian on February 9, 2012 at 3:46 pm
The first month of this year is history already. How time flies!
After some fumbling this season, old man winter got into his groove here in Delhi. The weather has been at its frigid best for the past 6 weeks even though we celebrated Basant Panchami (the fifth day of Spring) last Saturday. I even poured myself a glass of kanji while preparing dinner the other day. But, the thaw has certainly started and if you blink the short Spring will be over.
In the fast pace of 2011 many celebrations got left out. No one got a birthday cake :shock:. The blog anniversary was overlooked since there was no time to come up with a theme, announce a party, or be a proper host to all of you. But, it is always party-time at A Mad Tea Party where we celebrate food as just that – nourishment; food that satiates, the kind that engages all our senses. Mindful eating without dissecting what is on the plate.
One-dish-themed blog-events are now commonplace. The poori-party might have been one of the first of that kind but it was quite by accident. None of the subsequent celebrations were a patch on that first party. From that party on, I have made a concerted effort to fry poories more often. Every time the son visits for holidays, poori-bhaji features on the breakfast menu on one of the days. Just the once maybe, but it is sure to be there. Then, for Ram Navmi I indulge the little girl in me who misses doing rounds of the neighbouring homes to
gather loads of prasad be part of the ritual to revere the goddess in all girls, by cooking poori, halwa, and kala chana. That adds up to at least three poori-frying sessions a year! And if there are friends or family visiting (and it is cool enough to fry in the kitchen) then it is likely they will get some deep fried love!
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In Bread, Punjab, Vegetarian on December 5, 2011 at 7:23 pm
A lot has happened in the past four weeks since my last post. I am back to eating foods through the week that are usually reserved for weekends!
It’s not a very long story, actually. Over the past few years I gave into TH’s helpful insistence on delegating more housework to the maid so that I had less on my mind and hands. But that is more complicated than it sounds.
There are two kinds of people: those who like to have extra hands to do their work, and those who wish they could do without. If you have a slight OCD regarding how you want things in your home and kitchen, you may have to start by teaching the maid everything. And then you have to remind her constantly (about the same thing) in a kind of continuing education for her (which has nothing to do with your OCD). If you can look the other way, then it is all fine and dandy. I cannot. I cannot drink out of cups with the lightest tea-stain; I have to have my veggies cut exactly so; the rug centered, the doors shut, and the windows open. All this takes supervision. I mean, really super-vision! One time I caught her about to chutney a roach along with the coriander! I don’t know how I saw from the corner of my eye what she could not while putting the ingredients in! Enough to say that after that there was little chance of her being allowed to cook unsupervised. To me it always felt as if the maid was in control of my time!
Pizza dinner on Monday
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In Preserves, Travel, Vegetarian on November 3, 2011 at 1:40 pm
For all my extra time and planning for Divali, I got far less done than usual! I had forgotten that one of the days I was counting as a bonus was actually the day I teach from 9 to 5! But it was not a completely lost cause. The huge cauldron of chiwda I made kept all happy. The ladoos turned out well as always and there were enough to last until Sunday! The son’s stash is all packed and ready to be mailed. I know, I procrastinate there as well! But to him Divali means chakli, which I am yet to make. I plan to get to it this weekend and also plan to record the process here before I lose the precious family recipe.
The mountains already!
I would have gotten to the chakli surely this past weekend but TH, almost on the spur of the moment, decided enough was enough and it was time to take the car on a long drive. Off we were early the morning after Divali. There was hardly any traffic to speak of all the way from Delhi to Narkanda! I have promised myself more such holidays every year! We left home at 6am, and at just 11:00 we got our first glimpse of the mountains. We did stop for a breakfast of tandoori aloo paranthas and chai at a wayside dhaba at around 9:00. I hadn’t visited Shimla so we took a midday break there for a couple of hours. The Mall is a great place to walk forbidden as it is to all traffic. Smoking is not permitted in public spaces in Shimla making the Mall a great place to hangout. Read the rest of this entry »
In Pickles, Preserves, Punjab, Vegetables, Vegetarian on March 2, 2011 at 8:19 pm
Something strange is going on with the weather. We have had the wettest spring ever and the frequent showers have kept the temperatures down. I start my day wearing a vest by habit and then within an hour find myself going back down to change into a full-sleeved sweater. Climate change? Maybe that is too drastic but this is definitely not our usual Spring.
I did indulge myself in some typical spring activities anyway, such as drinking kanji and enjoying the sunshine; the spring did start out sunny. Mid-January found us traversing the city on a few occasions. One Sunday morning was spent at the IGNCA viewing Delhi: A Living Heritage exhibit. On our way back we decided to criss-cross a little and take in the city lights. We found ourselves joining the crowds watching the rehearsals for the Beating the Retreat ceremony. We stood there awhile, soaking in national pride and such emotions.
Another Sunday afternoon we first hopped on the Metro, took the city bus next, and then walked to the National Gallery of Modern Art where we heard the very articulate Anish Kapoor talk about his work (and even enjoyed a cup of tea with him!). Later we walked from the NGMA to the Chinmaya Mission auditorium for TH’s student’s Kuchipudi dance performance, and then took the Metro back home. Read the rest of this entry »
In on the side, Pickles, Preserves, south Indian, Vegetarian on January 26, 2011 at 1:00 am
No New Year resolutions for me! Where’s the point? Didn’t I promise to turn over a new leaf just a little while back? I could use the weather as my excuse; you cannot turn over new leaves in the dead of winter. Let spring arrive…(This post has been in writing for
a couple of over three weeks, and I am afraid it almost is Spring!)
Let me wish all my friends here, in this virtual but not make-believe world, a very Happy New Year (while it is still January). I hope we continue to exchange and enjoy a healthy Madness here. If writing about food could be quick, I would post everyday! But it is not. These last two years it has been very busy at work. Blogging could not be the break I wished. At the end of the day it is hard to return to the computer for anything other than to read.
For all the work, and unusual for us, TH and I managed to squeeze out time for regular breaks. We had resolved to visit the son mid-semester each semester, irrespective of whether he could/would make the time or not. Our spring semester visit to Kochi, an overnight journey for him, coincided with his college festival. The following semester, in October, with plans to visit the temples of the Hoysalas, we landed in the middle of his exam week. We went ahead with the plans anyway and visited the ancient temples of Halebid and Belur. Once again, it was humbling to be in a shrine where our people have continued to pray for centuries, and I thought again of the little unspoiled temple by the backwaters of Aleppey where our houseboat had moored that night… Read the rest of this entry »
In Kashmiri, Low Fat, Under 30 min!, Vegetables, Vegetarian on November 26, 2010 at 7:37 pm
Winter has set in Delhi. We have had some rain this week which has further brought down the temperatures and I am beginning to regret not airing out the winter wardrobe ahead of time when the days were sunny and bright. The sun will be back in our winter soon enough and we will be found lazily shelling peanuts outside during breaks from work, or while waiting for transport. Oh, but there’s a change to that script. Those of us who have got used to Delhi’s awesome Metro may not be able to indulge in this litter-generating activity. Imagine, not-littering might become a habit with the denizens of Delhi! Hope floats!
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In Kashmiri, Potatoes, Under 30 min!, Vegetarian on October 24, 2010 at 10:37 pm
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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In Bread, on the side, Tea Party, Under 30 min!, Vegetarian on September 5, 2010 at 10:24 pm
Have you been enjoying your afternoon tea with friends and family? I have been!
This 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 »
In Bread, Vegetarian on July 11, 2010 at 11:15 pm
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…
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In on the side, Potatoes, Under 30 min!, Vegetarian on February 10, 2010 at 11:52 am
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…
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 »