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

Archive for August, 2007|Monthly archive page

Bhopal and Hyderabadi Qabooli

In Eating Out, Hyderabadi, Low Fat, Rice, Travel on August 28, 2007 at 8:43 pm

After the poorimadness I was sure I wanted to do an obviously healthful recipe (read – low fat) to restore some respectability to the blog which had gained some kind of notoriety what with the no-holds-barred-deep-fried partying and all. The occasion had demanded indulgence and many of you seemed to agree wholeheartedly 😀 .

But things don’t always go as planned. Life happens. The pictures of my quick low-fat nutritious snack didn’t turnout that great (although the khandvi was as delicious as ever) and the blog was held up at the poori for some time.


railway track

Meanwhile, I visited Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh, ‘the heart of India’. It was a rushed visit with no time free for sightseeing. What little there was, was spent searching for a place to eat. Biryani and kababs were recommended and we spent a good part of one evening looking for them.

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What a Party!

In Bread, Tea Party on August 21, 2007 at 12:06 am

Out they poured…tiny ones, giant ones, white ones, brown ones, thin ones, thick ones, flat ones, puffed ones, plain ones, flamboyant ones, stuffed ones, speckled ones, “…they ran all over …in and out of kitchens, squeaking in their hundreds so that people could not hear themselves speak. They killed all the cats and fought the dogs quite boldly. They were too cunning to be caught in traps. What could be done?” 😆 (from The Pied Piper, an old Tale).

Not quite the belan-wielding avtar that was giving Bee and Jai nightmares, but I sure felt a little like the Pied Piper! It is hard to believe this post led to this party!

The sweet music from my magic pipe led us all to this Party table, which is now groaning under the weight of poories. And what a party it is – there are friends and family, neighbours and roomies, little ones and older ones, guys and gals, singles and couples, married-with-children, extended families, those with blogs, and those without, old faithfuls, and new faces too.

To celebrate 60 years of Indian Independence we covered quite some ground. The South was fully represented by Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh; Maharashtra held up the west; from the east we had Orissa and West Bengal; and North was represented by Delhi, and Punjab. And we also had participation from the Western World – USA! And everyone dressed up too! Yay!

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It’s Party Time!

In Bread, Potatoes, Punjab, Ruminations and rants, Traditions and Customs on August 12, 2007 at 8:54 am

The Party is not over yet! The previous two posts and the comments there have piqued my curiosity. And it’s getting the better of me. 😀

While admitting that poori-bhaji is a national (if not yet international) favourite, I cook it infrequently in this seemingly health-conscious age. I am always reminded of it on the day of Ramnavmi, when I see neighbourhood kids (mainly girls – they are revered on this day only 🙂 ) flitting from one house to the next and their growing piles of poori-halwa and chana.

I am getting the feeling that some of us may have deprived ourselves too long! So, I implore all of you to join in the party and make some poori-bhaji for a change. You could start with a longer walk in the morning or burn it off later in the evening as you go shopping this weekend or the next.

The rules are simple:

  • Cook poori-bhaji this week (Aug 12-Aug 19), write a post about it (with or without a recipe 😀 ), how you enjoyed it, maybe a picture of the meal and/or the family enjoying the meal.
  • Too hot to fry? Go out and get some! The portion will be right, and you don’t have to fry ‘nothing’! Write a post about it, and how you really enjoyed it!
  • Link to this post (which will be updated next week to include my poori-bhaji. Of course, I have to make it again; these pics are from months ago!) You may, if you like, use a Pingback and it will automatically show up in the comments here. Or leave a comment here 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 poori-bhaji! Feel free to provide links to any pictures you may have posted on a photo-sharing site such as Flickr or Photobucket.

Never made poori-bhaji before but would like to join in the party? Here’s the simplest of recipes to get you started! There are suggestions for variations too.

If a health condition prevents you from enjoying these foods, we understand. Responsible cooking and eating comes first. Always.

It is also India’s Independence Day this week, on August 15. Another reason to celebrate! I hope all of you (Indians as well as those of other nationalities) will join in!

Update: Aug 15

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Poori Bhaji

In Bread, Potatoes on August 10, 2007 at 11:19 pm

poori bhaji

The celebration was quite incomplete yesterday. A party without food?!

Today I share with you my recipe for poori-bhaji. I am going to go ahead and declare this a national favourite, with every family having their own take on the batata bhaji that must accompany crispy pooris. In Uttar Pradesh though, poories are sometimes served with pumpkin bhaji that is redolent with ginger; and a fantastic combination that is too.

TH’s family version combined poories with a dry potato subzi. But that was before he got married!

I had worked on my aloo ki subzi for a while by then, and I and my sisters agreed that we had hit the jackpot. It is mightily inspired by the subzi served with poories at all railway stations in India. Affectionately, we also refer to it as station-bhaji. The poori-stall chap keeps a ready stack of boiled potatoes that are transformed quickly into fresh bhaji as sales start to peak around lunch and dinner times.

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Food, Glorious Food

In Ruminations and rants on August 10, 2007 at 2:56 am

I just know this is going to be one of those rambling posts…don’t go away!

When I went to grad school in the US in the late 90s there was much that impressed me. Common knowledge of everyday science was not the least of them. We didn’t get hungry – we experienced a sugar-low; we didn’t need a cup of coffee or tea – but our bodies were craving caffeine. The chemistry behind food and digestion was common knowledge. I, on the other hand, had never thought of food or hunger in this manner ever.

Fancy cafés just outside the Campus walls were great places to hang out and enjoy that giant cup of java, and a mammoth cookie. There was no Starbucks where I was! And I was in Manhattan! Kansas 😉 .

When I returned four short years later, I had modified my teenage dream (though not a teenager anymore) of owning a bookstore. I now dreamed of a bookstore with a café.

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Zafraani Zamodod

In Desserts, Kashmiri, Low Fat, Under 30 min! on August 4, 2007 at 11:19 pm


plain dahi

Zafraan (Persian)/kesar (Hindi)/kong (Kashmiri) or saffron, is the most expensive spice in the world, worth more than its weight in gold. In India it has always been measured in tolas, a unit of measure used for weighing gold (approximately 12gm). Kashmiri saffron with its long and deep maroon strands and a delicate aroma is the most valued in the world.

If you were ever disappointed with your Kashmiri saffron, and wondered what the fuss was all about, it is likely that you received saffron that was blended with the less expensive Spanish or Iranian saffron. A few months back my Mom got hold of a little of the real stuff through a cousin working in Kishtwar (Kashmir). Despite having all her culinary secrets revealed here she gave the entire lot to me! Isn’t she the best?

Very little Kashmiri saffron is exported, most of it being consumed within India. It is an ideal flavouring for Indian desserts which are mostly milk based. Occasionally it is also used in savory preparations such as pulaos and biryanis.

In Kashmir, it is primarily used in desserts such as the Modur Polav, and Kheer. On special occasions it may also be used to flavour Kahva. During weddings it gets sprinkled on top of our much loved zamodod/dahi (yoghurt) served in earthen pots to guests at the banquet, and also on the larger pots of dahi that make up the goodies (including nuts, fruits, and giant balls of rock-sugar, called nabud in Kashmiri, and mishri in Hindi) that the new bride brings with her to her new home. Those of you who have had Shrikhand will know how special dahi becomes with the addition of saffron.

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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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