Gogji-Nadir (Turnips with Lotus Root)

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!

turnips and lotus root

Continue reading “Gogji-Nadir (Turnips with Lotus Root)”

Tchaman Kaliya (Paneer in a milky broth)

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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Getting it Right

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! Continue reading “Getting it Right”

Scones for Afternoon Tea

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! Continue reading “Scones for Afternoon Tea”