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

When Everything is Yellow

In Tea Party on April 22, 2008 at 4:21 am

I was gushing about the April Fool’s Blog Swap to my schoolfriend. She was not very impressed and instead she drove the conversation in another direction:

So you meet these people on the Internet and they become your friends?
Um, yeah. Well, some of them even become very good friends…
How do you know if the woman isn’t really a neurotic man or a psychotic killer? And when you do meet him, he stabs you in the back!

Gulp! I sent a very sharp knife to Anita recently and was angling to be adopted. What was I thinking?

So my post began when I started writing it almost two weeks ago…

Life has served a few surprises since then and I have been at a total loss – numbed into inaction and unable to digest the news. It’s the big C. One of my closest friends has been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor and unfortunately the prognosis is rather bleak. While she snapped into action, writing list after list of things that needed to done; I switched off and slept. As did this post – until we met to celebrate her and her life. We laughed, we hugged, we cried and we laughed some more – each of us hoping for a miracle. The mood switched from very sombre to reflective and appreciative of what we do have at this very moment – and fortunately for all of us, that is the mood that persists.

Blessings from above

So, pour yourself a cup of tea as I dedicate this post to my friend Francie and do my best to hand this blog back to its soul. Tea is an important ingredient for a party on this mad blog, right?

Perfection

It’s been a stormy spring in Colorado with the weather swinging between tee-shirt-and-shorts weather to winter coats every other day. Just last week we went from a bright, sunny and windy 82F to cold and snowy 32F in less than 24 hours. And while some of you might recoil in horror, this is typical spring weather for us. March is the snowiest month for the mountains, followed by April. And we don’t complain when some of that white goodness brings moisture to us in the semi-arid foothills. It’s very normal for us to fire up our grills and have a barbecue on the patio one evening, and then huddle over a warm soup or stew the next evening as we watch the white come down. April also happens to be a celebratory month for my family and I. It’s a time when we bring out the family album and rib Medha for not being invited to a small but special party, our wedding. It is also the month that I really got my food blog going. My other food blog, that is. And each year, we celebrate by having a special home-cooked meal.

This year, Gujarati kadhi was on the most-wanted list. Especially since I have been able to reverse engineer to perfection the kadhi that Vimlaben brought with her straight from Nadiad to Hoboken. Over a decade and a half ago , when my sister first told me she had a ‘housekeeper’, I did not know what to expect. There she was, a diminutive lady dressed in a sari with sock-clad feet and a voice that bounced off the walls and made them reverberate. We warmed up to her immediately and she reciprocated with simple yet very satiating meals. Vimlaben had her quirks – very little hing and next to no turmeric powder but lots of ginger and a truckload of garlic, whenever she could get away with it.

Our anniversary dinner was an ode to many. Gujarati kadhi for Vimlaben, vangi bhath because we like to take a dip every now and then, kaachi-paaki for my sister’s mother-in-law who has had a great influence on my cooking, and lime pickle to remind us of the goodness of the sun. All vegetarian to honor my friend Francie. And, all yellow! Naturally, the drink of choice was a light beer. Medha had orange juice.

all yellow

Vimlaben ni Gujarati Kadhi

  • 2-3 tsp oil
  • 2 cups low-fat or fat-free yogurt, slightly sour
  • 2 tbsp besan or gram flour
  • 4-5 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • pinch asafetida, or not
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1-2 hot green chilli peppers, sliced into two vertically
  • 8-10 fresh curry leaves
  • 6 cloves
  • 1/8 tsp turmeric powder, or not
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1.5 tbsp sugar (use about 1tbsp Indian sugar, since it is sweeter)
  • 6-7 sprigs of cilantro, chopped fine
  • salt to taste
  1. Whisk the yogurt with besan until there are no lumps. If you see any lumps, break them with your fingers and whisk some more.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and toss in mustard seeds.
  3. When they crackle and pop, add asafetida, followed by cumin seeds, green chillies, curry leaves, and cloves. Ensure that the spices do not burn.
  4. Add turmeric powder and then add the yogurt and besan mixture.
  5. Turn the heat to medium and stir the mixture briskly for a couple of minutes until it thickens ever so slightly. You will feel the change in consistency as you continue to stir.
  6. Only then add water slowly to the mixture, while stirring and mixing continuously.
  7. Fish for the green chillies and discard them. Their job is done.
  8. Add grated ginger and sugar.
  9. Bring to a boil at least 3-4 times. Each time the kadhi threatens to boil over, reduce the heat and simmer for a few minutes and boil again. If you have the time, allow it to simmer for as long as possible instead of bringing it to a brisk boil each time. If you do simmer it for a long time, be sure to adjust the amount of water (and salt) to bring it to a pouring consistency that is not too thick.
  10. This kadhi goes from the stove to the table. So just a few minutes before serving, add the chopped cilantro and continue to simmer until you are ready to take it to the table.

Cloves add a wonderful dimension to this Nadiadi kadhi. The flavor hits you in the back of your throat and it leaves you wanting more and more of the same. What I also like about this kadhi is that it is not overly sweet and the sugar actually complements this flavor, instead of competing with it. It can be served with plain steamed rice, too. Or a vegetable pulao.

Notes:

  • Most seasoned cooks add water to the yogurt mixture before heating it. I prefer to heat the yogurt+besan mixture until it thickens and only then add water slowly to the mixture. It serves two purposes: the yogurt never curdles and the besan cooks quickly, avoiding what is often called the “raw smell” of besan.
  • You could keep the green chillies but we prefer the flavor of green chillies and the heat of the cloves rather than have the heat of the green chillies compete with the cloves.
  • You could omit the sugar but then this would not be Gujarati kadhi anymore. And it certainly would not be Vimlaben ni kadhi.

I am sending this yellow meal to Barbara for LiveSTRONG With A Taste Of Yellow 2008.

It’s been a fun month and a great party! We did manage to trick folks well into April even though most of you didn’t really buy the blog swap. But seriously, have you come across a better April Fool’s trick? Anita and I could not have pulled this off if we did not share a very interesting friendship, separated as we are by several thousand miles and having never met. No! Ours is not an internet romance and we don’t want to marry each other. But there is a connection – a bond – that is difficult to put into words.

I have very few close friends, making each one very dear to me. And I have even fewer of the kind who will tell me that I need to use a tissue on my nose or pull out that pesky chin hair. Anita is like that. She gives me her opinion, no holds barred. Sometimes when I don’t want to hear it, too. So knife or no knife, I would not trade our relationship, online or not, for anything in the world.

So with a toast to those gems that make our lives colorful and special, I hand this blog back to its rightful owner. It’s a Mad Tea Party again!

Swirly

She will be back soon, people! Pictures of fields in your browser coming up …

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  1. Hugs to your friend Francie. The big C hurts. Hurts the person, and everyone around them. Best wishes to her from a stranger, who was once around someone who was impacted.

    It does. And thank you.

  2. The kadhi is warming me up from the inside out. Thanks for generously sharing a recipe that it took you years to perfect, no doubt.
    My best wishes to your friend…I’m glad you two have each for love and support during this difficult time.

    It’s simple flavors. And yes, it took me years before I finally got it right. I am so thrilled that I make it on a regular basis and the cloves are a little too much for Medha right now. But she will get used to it soon enough. And thank you for your wishes for my friend. She is lucky in that respect – she has a huge army of support.

  3. Thank you Manisha. A lovely entry. I’ve sent you a private email. Thanks for supporting LiveSTRONG With A Taste Of Yellow.

    Thank you so much, Barbara.

  4. What a beautiful post! And Happy Anniversary Manisha!

    Thanks, Shankari! It was a quiet but wonderful family dinner that we shared.

  5. very heartwarming post, i’m sure your friend will be touched.

    vimlaben’s kadhi is very similar to my family’s, except we add a cinnamon stick, fenugreek seeds and a couple dried red chilies to the tadka as well. it produces a nice intense heat. she sounds like a real hoot.

    Thanks!

    My sister’s version includes a cinnamon stick and fenugreek seeds in the tadka. And as a final touch, she adds a pinch of ground cloves and a pinch of cinnamon towards the end. Vimlaben was like a member of the family and my sister is still in touch with her and visits her every so often.

  6. hugs to you, francie and your knife-wielding friend, dear manisha.

    Thanks! Francie is so incredibly strong. I hope some of it rubs off on me. And my friend with the kitchen implement? She’s a riot.

  7. Hugs, love and best wishes to Francie. You are so right, we must appreciate the blessing called “this moment”…..

    And thanks for the lovely kadhi recipe! I am with you about using cloves.

    Here’s to friendship and the beutiful heart-warming moments that make life so special. Happy April, happy everyday.

    Thanks, Musy. Spring is about the joy of new life. So yes, Happy April!

  8. Sorry to hear about your friend. Gosh life rushes at us unexpectedly at times. I try my best often to live in the moment.

    Yes, our conversation was going to be very trivial and suddenly everything changed. Make the most of every moment. I am still learning to do that.

  9. Heart warming. In these days when even friendships have expiry dates, you guys have done great by holding it together even being thousands of miles aparts.

    Thanks and yes, ours is a friendship I treasure. I can’t imagine anyone else letting me walk all over their blog like this! :D

  10. Manisha, no words can say it right but I hope your friend, and you, have as easy a time as you can – I do wish her a miracle. And this post made nice reading – friendships, esp girl friendships, are important. And happy blogiversary!

    Thanks, sra! And, yes, girlfriends are very important – I never thought I would ever say that. But it’s true. And who knew that I would be celebrating IFR’s blog anniversary here on AMTP! I guess I really made this my blog, eh?!

  11. Manisha, truly wishing Francie with heart-felt good luck!
    Wow you both truly pulled off a month of prank, n unique one, as unique as I find your shared Kadhi! I take up this opportunity to let you know that it feels great to share experiences with you too!! Your opinion has great value and a different perspective, which I truly respect , your posts shake me up! :) Thanks for that support (of course I too hv no knife on me! :D )Tks for all of those precious advises, looking forward to see you on IFR!
    HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TO YOU BOTH!

    Thanks, Purnima! The prank was a lot of fun and a lot more work than we thought it would be.

  12. What a lovely post. Thanks for the recipe. My prayers go out to your friend.

    Arundhati, thank you! The kadhi is very simple and for variations, you could try what Alpa mentioned or my sister’s version.

  13. A beautiful clouds-with-sunshine sky, a beautiful meal, the hint of a wonderful warming cup of tea, a beautiful tribute… and even a recipe at the end! :D

    Hugs and best wishes to Francie; she is a brave one. It is always a great blessing to have the love and support of family and friends. How lucky we are to have our friends, far from perfect, and quirky families!

    Eventful Aprils you have, Manisha. May they always have more fun than pain…

    The sunbeam curtain is from last summer in Maine. It felt like we were being blessed, truly. And, yes, even a recipe. ;-)

  14. The C hurts. But it can only hurt the body not the mind and the spirit.
    Best wishes to your friend.

    Yes, that was the best prank ever!!
    Happy Blogiversary, Manisha.

    Thanks for all your wonderful wishes and thoughts, TC. Maybe we should pass the baton around and say OK, next April, it’s your turn!

  15. …I almost didn’t read the last line! I post other pictures too! :roll:

    Well, then! Prove it, I say.

  16. wonderful post….best wishes to francie…..may your spirit be strong always…manisha and anita…you rock!! we’ll gladly be your fools for exciting stuff like this!!

    Thanks, Arundati. Maybe next year we won’t do anything and that will be our prank. Everyone will be looking for a prank and there won’t be any. And that will be the prank! (Oops! Maybe I should not give it away?)

  17. Lots of good wishes to Francie.
    The reason you have good friends (knife wielding or not) around you dear Manisha is because you are such a wonderful friend yourself.

    Happy anniversary to you & hubby and to IFR! I love how your recipes come from such amazing people :)

    Here comes the chief troublemaker! :-D Thank you! Most of all for suggesting that we carry this through for another week – even though it became just one more post much later than a week.

  18. What a special post. The soothing kadhi and heart-warming snaps. Love the evening light. My wishes to your friend, Manisha.

    Thank you, Suganya. Maine is gorgeous like that.

  19. my best wishes to ur friend, Manisha. the kadhi looks yummy.. I am still in the learning stage.
    …and Wishing a very Happy anniversary to u and ur blog..:D

    Siri

    Siri, I am also in the learning stage. :-D And, thank you!

  20. Nice recipe Manisha. Kudos to you for directing so many good wishes your friend’s way.

    Happy Anniversary too.

    Thank you and I think it did help!

  21. Happy anniversary, Manisha! Beautiful meal. Your friend is in my thoughts and prayers. Hang in there!

    Thanks, Kalai and please continue to keep Francie in your prayers.

  22. I usually know exactly what to type in a comment- not so here. Even though I’ve never met your friend, my thoughts have returned to her many times in the last few days, and to you. I wrote more after that, like three different attempts. I like the yellow, I like the ode to Vimlaben. Know that I’m around if you need someone to talk to, OK?

    Thanks, bud. You will probably hear from me. Right now, we’re taking it one day at a time.

  23. Thank you all so very much for your kind thoughts and prayers for my friend Francie. I think it all came at the right time. She underwent an almost 8 hour surgery yesterday, part of which she had to be awake through. Frightening and very overwhelming. The good news is that she was awake and alert after the surgery. She is at the best neuro-oncology center in the US and we are looking forward to welcoming her home in another 2 weeks or so. Please continue to keep her in your thoughts and prayers. She’s an amazing woman and those of us who know her are very lucky to have her in our lives. Thank you, again!

  24. A big hug to you Manisha and Francie will be in my prayers. My mother is a big C survivor. Now I don’t take a day for granted and I know that prayers help.

  25. This meal looks so refreshing. I am planning to make it for our Sunday lunch this week. I have some red cabbage on hand so I will try the kaachi-paaki with those.
    Thanks, Manisha for posting.

  26. hi manisha..
    this is the same shilpi who at first reacted so terribly with this all swaping stuff…but i guess u understand the bond that is present between the bloggers and readers…i came to anita’s blog when i was a novice in cooking and felt very bad for not cooking good for hubby…its this blog that tought me to pour love while cooking….and its almost 100 percent sure shot successful recipes….now i can say that i cook quite decent…so i am kind of emotional with this my first ever blog and that is magic of anita…

    but then with your post ..i can see that you have done justice with the soul part :-) and party is again catching up!!!

    and hopefully your friend will be alright soon…when such thoughtful friend are with her…

  27. Best Wishes for Francie…
    I was not really visiting here else I would’ve cried out loud and called up Anita that what is all this swapping business going on your blog?
    And indeed it was a great AF trick…Thank God I was spared!
    Anyway nice post….
    Cheers!
    Skeety!

  28. Manisha, this is the most emotional post from you till date!

    May Francie heal and God give strength to her. When the C hit my family we didn’t get any time. It was all over in 25 days and that was 14yrs ago. It changed everything in life.

    She must count her blessing that she has support, good medic facility and TIME! She will be in my prayers.

    She needs to be surrounded by positivity all the time and friends and family must smile thru all of this even when it is hard and I know that is happening.

    As for Anita and you, don’t they say opposites attract. Yes people look at us weirdly, who have internet friends but what do they know?

  29. I love this post and your blog. What beautiful pictures and recipes you share! I am sorry for the hard time you and your friend are going through. Take care,
    Fiona.

  30. Sorry to hear abt your friend, manisha. Fortunately Ihave never had to face this scene with my friend. Admire her courage and my prayers are with her!Maybe you should stay on here..this blog suits you.:)

  31. I came to find Francie’s name, and learned you had an anniversary too! Many happy blessings to you and D, and to IFR. And to dear Francie and her family, much love and prayers, too.

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