Hello, is there anyone there?

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 I and my friends have had a wake-up call and are making an effort to make the time to meet more often.  We remember her and celebrate her; in her death even, she brought friends closer together.  On the one month anniversary of her being gone we got together to cook her favourite food (Mediterranean cuisine) and listen to her favourite music.  I made falafels and hummus using her recipes.

friends Last month we all met again, this time with the son’s birthday as the excuse.  She was always the first person I would invite.  Her daughter is gracefully stepping into those shoes. I am grateful for the friends who joined us and made it as special as she used to.

I have cooked with new ingredients recently. The most recent one was gelatin (if I overlook the Wakefield packaged flavoured jellies that I have used). I used it to make Manisha’s mango panna cotta using fresh kesari mangoes and substituting cream+whole milk for the half-and-half in the recipe. After a very anxious night (for me and Manisha), I was relieved to find a perfectly set panna cotta. But, truthfully, I don’t know what the fuss about the dessert is.  Also, cream+whole milk does not half-and-half make.

Goan sausage and Mangalorean fish

dried fishThis week I have received newer ingredients still: a bottle of toddy, and spicy and aromatic Goan sausage! I am keeping the toddy to make appams with. In this soggy weather, with a limp appetite, I am in the mood for some oogre food. Anyone out there with recipes for how to use the sausage? I have also been hanging on to these salted, dried, small sea fish for a while…What all could I do with those? I’m gonna try with a little help from my friends...

30 thoughts on “Hello, is there anyone there?

  1. reading your posts is a great joy. wish you post more often Anita. between made your karonda relish. it was delicious. you can make nasi lemak or any Malaysian dish with sambal with those small fishes.

    … I am making a fresh batch of the caronda chutney today – it is the time when our bush is laden with the fruit!
    I think that is a swell suggestion – I love nasi lemak! I think there may be much in Malaysian food that needs this ingredient! Thanks!

  2. Glad to see u bck 🙂 ur garden looks so beautiful

    The rain just makes it look so much better…all the dust washed away reveals this lush green! It’s a balm to sore eyes.

  3. I hope you find some delicious use for the “prok” you have there.
    As for the dried fish my Srilankan friend fries them in oil and sautes them with a lot of thinly sliced onions, curry leaves and split red chilies. Yummy. Can be eaten as a snack.

    I like the idea of the pork pulao that Miri has suggested…
    For the fish, I love all these ways that are so different from how Kashmiris cook with dried fish!

  4. Nags of Edible Garden just posted an awesome Nethilli Fry – Try that. That’s the only way I used to like it unless you count nasi goring/ thai food seasoning.

    Goan sausages- definitely Sausage Pulao, slice onions, heat sausages in a large pan and when the fat gives out put the onions and fry. Keep stirring till they brown. Add the rice and stir fry 3 minutes. Add warm water and bring to boil, check salt and then simmer till the rice is done. The sausages will flavor the rice perfectly-no extra spices needed. None whatsoever.

    So good to have your post- keep meaning to call you but don’t know when’s a good time. Definitely not when you’re catching up with Castle 😉 I watched it and it was a little melodramatic by the end. Get Dexter if you can, at first, you may think the violence is too much, but the twists and well written plots draw you in, plus there are 4 or 5 seasons so doesn’t leave you feeling incomplete.

    Good for you and your friends to homour her memory- and why aren’t you describing that delightful spread you have on the table- one dish would be a whole blog post!

    I had meant to write about the falafel recipe. I will. This feast was good too; nothing too fancy; just good old comfort food which made it perfect for the occasion.

    The pulao I will definitely try this week! I did want to cook it with rice on the lines of the Jambolaya that uses spicy Italian sausage! So, thanks for this idea! Nags’ fish fry uses fresh fish….But, I am definitely planning to try some recipes from our West Coast!

  5. bought this interesting Sarla Razdan’s book on Kashmiri Cuisine… Hogaad t, Haak features on page 65….

    I will get to see this much talked about book this Sunday! Though the way we cook with hogaad really stinks up the house! 😀

  6. Your garden distracts me from everything else you wrote…although i liked that too , the get togethers more 🙂

    I am more in a garden mood today as i fought ( not an ugly fight though) with a neighbor today to protect the jamun trees and a mango tree …it’s a government campus and everybody feels free to chop off the trees . So frustrating.

    Sorry for going off the track but your garden pic refreshed me . Thank you.

    In my neighbourhood too this happens regularly. We like the shade the trees give in the summer, but come winter, we wish they would just srivel up and disappear! They reduce the poor trees to bare stumps! 😦

  7. A handful of salted fish ( after being cooked in shallow cast iron pan in oil ) + raw green chillies + raw red onion mixed well into each other and kept to rub the flavors into each other is a great combination with hot rice.

    Goes on the list to try! Thanks, Anrosh!

  8. Good to have you back.
    Here’s what I do to this dry fish. Wash in water, soak 5 min drain and keep. Grind a small handful of green chillies, heat factor to your desire. Fry 2 large red onions till caramalised add chilli mix, fry a bit add a can of tomatoes, fresh is of course better about 4-5 smallish ones. Now fry this on low heat till well fried. Meanwhile deep fry the fish crispy. Add to this mix, salt and red chilli powder add with a tsp of sugar or till taste balance is achieved, fry till oil sort of seeps up. Serve with a dhal and cucumber or go Malay with nasi lemang.

    A very sambal-like recipe! I am giving this a shot tonight! Thanks, Poornima!

    12-07-11: I did and I think I will blog about it!

  9. Welcome back! I keep falling off the blogging wagon and trying to crawl back on while occasionally losing my foothold!
    I see the suasages and dried fish all around me but being vegetarian, I have no idea what to do with them. Can ask my neighbours for ideas if you want them. 🙂

    Please do, please do!
    The sausage smells so yum! I will try my hand at a pulao this week.

    We all have lives outside of the blog as well so it is quite okay to let this slide occasionally… 🙂

  10. Good to hear from you again .Sorry about loss of your friend . I want to mention I tried your recipe for chole and it is awesome my daughter loves it very much. You mentioned about dark chat masala in one of the recipes with white vatana . I have been looking for good chat masala if possible can you pl share your chat masalas (white and dark) with us.


    Chitra, thanks for trying some of the recipes here!
    I source my chat masala from various vendors in Old Delhi; don’t make my own! You should be able to find some recipes online – try them. You might find one you like!

  11. I love the garden picture.. looks like its freshly washed after a Delhi monsoon downpour… ? though I can see some sun and shade. Is that really a grape vine?

    Very much a grape vine! It gives sweet red grapes and the leaves get made into dolmas!

  12. I thought half-and-half was cream + whole milk- it isn’t!?

    It might well be but you cannot make it just by mixing together heavy cream and whole milk. I had to heat my whole milk which, on cooling, separated into two layers with the cream floating on top and the ‘skimmed milk’ underneath (as it always does). Mixing the cream only thickened the creamy layer. The finished panna cotta, therefore, has 3 layers: top fruit, middle cream, and the bottom an insipid skimmed milk, except in the one glass that was repeatedly tested in the anxiety – will-it-set-won’t-it-set. In that, there was a well blended half-and-half bottom layer! 🙂

    1. Pel, it is. But it isn’t a simple 1:1. It helps to do a quick search on this thing called Google. How to make half and half. I have no clue about the Mother Dairy whole milk she uses or why this separation occurred. Now that we know that it separates, I would mix the cream and whole milk, let it sit, siphon off the top thick layer and use only that. Better still, use heavy cream instead. That is what panna cotta is made of.

      What is the fuss about this dessert? I was not enamored initially but it’s easy, comes together quickly (given that you use the right ingredients) and is a wonderful vehicle for berry compotes and other fruit-based sauces. It also perks up a boring fruit salad.

      1. Here’s a theory: could it be that the product known as half-and-half is possible only by using pre-homogenized dairy- as it always is here? This keeps the fat-molecules from sticking together and makes the art of reducing milk extremely-difficult! I don’t know… I have an urge to google or wiki, but I’m sticking to my current thought-stock as my fact-collecting ventures have recently been a source for scrutiny and ridicule… 😀

      2. The long setting time made it separate into the constituents. If I do this again I will mix a couple of times as the first layer sets. The less complicated way, just as Manisha suggests, is to use full cream and forget the calorie-chart for once!

        I might try the gelatin to make that fruit-thing that was on Jen’s blog though…that looked very appealing. Very glamorous as well!

        Pel, some people will have us believe Google has all the answers…I checked her link and all they suggest is mixing milk and cream which I did. It might have to do with pasteurization…but I am not in a hurry to make it again. 🙂

      3. Kitt’s blog. Fruit terrine – use fresh berries.

        You checked my link? My link was to Google search results. There were *many* *many* links on that page. Several of them spoke of the importance of butterfat. O-o

  13. I’m so glad you are celebrating Prati and making it a point to get together often. Her daughter seems to have her beautiful spirit and my heart goes out to her.

    Shilpa of Aayi’s Recipes recently posted a dried fish recipe. She has other recipes, too.

    Your garden looks so lush! Looks like the maali finally made it 😉

    1. Everything grows wild in the rains as it shows in that pic. But, the maali did make it yesterday and it is all neat and trimmed! For now!

      We meet again this Sunday! Celebrating all the birthdays and anniversaries together from now on…bitter-sweet.

  14. Yippee. That means you got it right. Was having sleepless nights here wondering if I conveyed it right!!!

    1. I think I got the idea of it. I will blog the recipe and then you can tell me if I got it right! In any case, it tasted great!

  15. Hello,
    What a pleasure it is to read you blog. I am new here and it feels like home. I enjoy your posts and your recipes remind me of my home recipes..especially the ones that I would get at my grandmother’s house. The picture of the garden is beautiful.

    Happy to bring you a slice of home…keep reading, mustardseed!

  16. There are very few Keralites who don’t like dried fish. And I am one of them. Have seen my mom saute it with chilies, onions, shredded coconut, and temper with coconut oil, mustard seeds and curry leaves.

    Love your garden pic.

    Ah, the exception! Who knows how you will feel about stinky dried fish once enough time has passed? 🙂

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