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

Archive for 2011|Yearly archive page

Calling it a year

In From the Garden, Low Fat, Maharashtrian, Pickles, Preserves, Random Musings, Under 30 min!, Vegetarian on December 28, 2011 at 12:34 am

It has been a mixed bag this year; from the very bad to very good.  All years are like that but losing a dear friend earlier this year was a dip that was really low.  Even winning Third Place in a National Architectural Design Competition, a rare enough achievement, was tinged with the knowledge that I couldn’t share the news with her, my buddy through those years of design school.  We would meet only a few times a year – mostly on birthdays and anniversaries. I am not a phone person so we never had long chats on the phone either.  Maybe, it was enough just knowing I could call her if I needed to.  Now, I catch myself thinking about her every single day.

UD Studio, 1986I and my friend, 1986

On the work front, it has been the busiest year for me.  The coming year is poised similar.  Which is as well (except that it has meant just ten blog posts, if I get this one in, for the whole year!).  It means I don’t bother the son, now in his third year of college, with daily phone calls.  I usually catch up with him on the weekends though he and his dad chat online more often.  Presently, he is home for the holidays and has promised to not game through the nights so that we can see him at lunch and through the rest of the day.

narthagai limes and mango ginger

Narthangai limes and mango ginger for pickling…from a year ago

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Sunday Brunch: Gobhi Paranthas

In Bread, Punjab, Vegetarian on December 5, 2011 at 7:23 pm

Gobhi Parantha
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
Pizza dinner on Monday

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A Persimmon Autumn

In Preserves, Travel, Vegetarian on November 3, 2011 at 1:40 pm

Hachiya and Fuyu persimmons 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!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 »

Getting ready for Divali with multigrain waffles

In Bread, Tea Party, Under 30 min! on October 21, 2011 at 8:34 pm

Divali is round the corner.  I always take some time off from work for this festival, usually the two days preceding it.  That gives us enough time to prepare a few of the traditional goodies.  My offerings are tame compared to the quantities and variety my mother-in-law used to make.  But it is also a smaller family now.  With the son away at college it is just TH, the father-in-law, and I.

This time I have an additional two days, the weekend, starting tomorrow.  I am hoping to translate this into more goodies; perhaps even try something new.  Thankfully, none of us have any diet restrictions, not even my octogenarian father-in-law!  I ordered the groceries today and my pantry is stocked.  Much is on the cards – the usual namakpare, shankarpare, paparia, sev, chakli, ladoo, and karanji for the day of Lakshmi pooja.  Like always, I am going to be making my own flour mix for chakli.  I will also get milled the mix I prepared (last year!) for thali peeth – the mix of lentils and grains is waiting for the right amount of rice to be added before it can be ground.  I am like that; not on top of all things in the kitchen.

multigrain waffles

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Couch Potato

In Drinks, Eating Out, on the side on October 1, 2011 at 11:11 am

drink
L’aperitivo Italiano at The Grey Garden

I have been vegging the last two days.  TV and the couch have been a major part of this weekend.  Before the weekend comes to an end I think I should clear a few pending things [too late…it’s midweek already almost end-of-week the weekend already!].  Reviews for one…

Washington Apples

In March this year (yes, you cannot depend on me for a timely post) I was sent a box of picture perfect Washington apples by the India representatives of Washington Apple Commission(!).  I was invited to a tasting session which I declined since my 9-6 time is usually spoken for during the workweek, and hence, the delivery.  Each one of those seven specimens (Braeburn, Cripps Pink, Fuji, Gala, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious and Granny Smith) were easily amongst the best apples I have ever eaten.  Crisp, juicy, and flavourful.

The only problem with the apples is that they are not local.  Far from it.  They really are from Washington, USA!  I was hoping that they had just been named after some Washington varieties grown in Himanchal.  It is one thing to occasionally try out exotic fruits (and ingredients) but quite another to eat apples on a regular basis that are flown in all the way from the US of A!  Is it the same as Indians in the US splurging on the recently-allowed-to-be-exported Alphonso?  Perhaps not since our own apples here are neglected for lack of proper storage and transportation facilities.  Look for good apples from Kinnaur and Kashmir; crisp, with just a hint of tartness.  It is impressive that the imported ones sell at all since they are priced at double the local ones (Rs90 vs. Rs 180/kg!).  But, then in summer Delhites will buy the ones imported from New Zealand at almost Rs300/kg!  I think I might be too middle class for Delhi. If only we would import quince… Well, we could encourage the Kashmiris to plant some more quince trees instead, I suppose.  Here’s a promise – if I am ever safe to return to my homeland I will start my own quince and sour cherry orchard! Read the rest of this entry »

Cinnamon Rolls

In Baking, Desserts, Tea Party on September 15, 2011 at 11:51 pm

Cinnamon rolls

I’ve had these on my mind for some time. A long time.  Even though the dough is like your basic bread the decadent sauce takes it to another level.  And yet it is not as sinful as cake (err…if you leave the sauce out, that is).  It comes together easily with just a little wait for the yeast to do its thing.

After ogling at many house-and-garden magazine in the college library while at graduate school, I finally succumbed and subscribed to one – Cuisine.  Low annual subscriptions for most magazines in the US make them affordable even for poor students from India. When you are home sick, missing your husband and your little boy, there is much comfort to be derived from staring at pictures of delicious looking food; it’s not called food porn for no reason.  Cuisine was 44 pages of only food, no advertisements.

I had a very basic kitchen then; not much in the name of gadgets except for a blender.  I don’t recall attempting any of the recipes I would drool over but all the issues of Cuisine were packed along with the text books and brought home to India.  Even today,  whenever I am feeling a little out of sorts, I sit down with some of my cookbooks and look for something I might want to cook (not for the next meal, necessarily).  It never fails to improve the mood even if it might mean butter-toast for dinner!

One of the recipes that I did finally try out were these sinful cinnamon rolls (sorry about the off-colour pictures; they are from two years ago when I hadn’t yet figured out white-balance, much to Manisha’s consternation).  They are as decadent as they look especially with the sticky caramel sauce; skip the sauce only if you need to diet.  I give in to occasional gluttony; we are all worth it. Read the rest of this entry »

Peanut Sambal

In Chutneys, Dips and Spreads, on the side, Tea Party, Under 30 min! on August 25, 2011 at 10:20 am

peanut sambal

[As is usual, this post has been a few days in writing…]

I hope you are having a great feast today on our beloved Krishna’s day of birth.  Today we celebrate a God whose myth recognizes and cherishes much in our very flawed human lives: the innocence of childhood, a mother’s love, the exuberance of youth, trusted friendships, the power of love, and duty above all.  He has been the inspiration for artists, musicians, and writers through ancient time and present.  His love of food, particularly fresh churned butter, laddoo, and of course, Sudama’s sattu makes him a legendary foodie as well.  While today your feast may consist only of vegetarian, grain-free dishes, tomorrow you might want to have a different party.

On most weekend evenings TH and I sit ourselves down with the tipple of choice and munchies such as these on the side.  There is usually a dip: fresh-made tomato salsa or tzatziki.  On Sunday, when the maid gets her day off , I celebrate my freedom from having to supervise her.  I know – you can’t live with them, and you can’t live without them.  In any case, I am planning to get the maid out of my kitchen for good.  She has been sick and out of circulation for the last three months and I have honestly felt more in charge of my time since I don’t need to disrupt my time in the office to plan her work!  It is so much more efficient when I plan for myself.

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Dried Fish!

In Chutneys, on the side, south Indian, Under 30 min! on July 15, 2011 at 7:47 pm

Kashmiris have hogaad, (ho- from hoakh – dry, and gaad – fish), tiny dried fish that are cooked with vegetable or greens to up the nutrient quotient, or simply fried in oil to a crisp and served on the side. My mother would add tiny amounts of hogaad to the bags of other foodstuff we would carry back to Delhi from what used to be annual summer visits to Srinagar. The hogaad was out of pure nostalgia I am sure. To my credit, I did taste it every time she cooked some. I wonder how I overcame the stink.

dried fish in Munnar

A year ago browsing around in the market in Munnar I saw piles and piles of all kind of dried fish and other sea creatures. I was struck by the same nostalgia. So I ended up buying a 100 grams of medium-sized dried fish. As you can tell, I cannot tell my fish. I only know big, small, medium or tiny. I gave some to my mother to cook, who is now a vegetarian. She cooked it out of love (and nostalgia) for me and my dad. My dad does not care for hogaad; never did. I tasted some of it and couldn’t figure out why we bother. I have been looking at my portion of dried fish in the jar…for awhile.

nasi goreng

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Hello, is there anyone there?

In This and That on July 8, 2011 at 7:35 pm

terrace 2011

It does seem like I have dropped off the deep end.  With these very occasional posts there is definitely a risk that this blog might start to resemble the beautiful end-of-year notes that some of my American family send.  A busier work schedule directly translates into reduced blog activity.  The sharp increase in assignments happily coincided with the son leaving home for college.  It made the empty nest that much more easier to deal with.  Internet and mobile phones also provide a sense of connection.  Facebook does have its uses!

The free time I do get I spend watching some recorded TV (the current favourite, after going through all the seasons of Castle, is House),  reading some of my favourite blogs (design as well as food related), and getting inspired in the kitchen or at work.

food Read the rest of this entry »

A Sense of Loss

In This and That on May 10, 2011 at 10:30 am

Light house

It really is true; the good die young.  My dearest friend of 30 years is gone. Words are inadequate to express the sadness I feel.  She was my companion all through five years of college.  Together, we did many things for the first time.  She was a beautiful person.  I can hardly believe I am using the past tense when talking of her.

All I want to do is talk about her.  Or, listen to others talk about her.  She is an inspiration to all who knew her.  I was fortunate to have her in my life.  The other day we met for lunch and talked about our children; they are both almost 20.  We were so proud of the good job we had done.   At the time I had little idea how much of a good Mom she truly was.

Happy Mothers’ Day to all the Moms – you are the best!

Find my friend, Pratibha, mentioned here: A Delhi Summer, Appams with avial, Palak-Panir, and moongre ki sabzi.  She was an irregular reader of this blog but did leave a comment once.  Prati, you are missed so much.  Family birthdays and special occasions will never be the same.