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

Archive for the ‘From the Garden’ Category

Caronde Hari Mirch ki Sabzi

In From the Garden, Fruit, on the side, Pickles, Under 30 min!, Uttar Pradesh, Vegetarian on June 21, 2016 at 7:56 pm

Caronde 02

The summer bounty of produce from the garden that can be made into chutneys, pickles, and jams has started. The first to arrive are the fallen mangoes that I usually make into a quick-pickle or a sweet mango chutney. But, this year, owing to Mum’s house crawling with workers (we are renovating) there weren’t many left for us. In fact, most of the low-hanging fruit disappeared from the trees while still quite green.

The army of kids of the caretaker in the neighbour’s house have also been very kind to pluck a good portion of the higher-up fruits off the tree that abuts the common wall. I will likely have fewer mangoes that will need to be processed into jam. They have also had a free run of the carondas from the bush that is planted in the front yard. Limes have started ripening; I plucked a few from my tree this morning.

My dad remembers his ‘foraging’ days in Kashmir and lets the children be. The caronda shrub is heavily laden and has yielded enough for them and us. I shared some with friends and neighbours as well. There should be an even bigger crop around September, after the rains. That is when I will make Caronde ki Chutney to keep till next year. To start the season off I made this simple caronde-mirch ki sabzi, more a pickle than a sabzi really, that takes all of ten minutes to put together. It makes a great accompaniment to North Indian food and is just the kind of side to perk up those taste buds overwhelmed by this muggy weather. Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

Whole Wheat Spinach Burger Buns

In Baking, From the Garden, Vegetables, Vegetarian on December 4, 2015 at 5:34 pm

Spinach Buns 07

Time for another tested recipe. If you try these once you will never go back to the industrial kind. That’s the thing with home-baked bread, even when made with only maida, it ruins you for the mass-produced bread. Thankfully, when made in small quantities, it is easier than cooking roti which we do as a matter of daily routine.

Mom had given me a load of blanched spinach from her garden. At first I wanted to make palak-panir. But I was hoping to send along some bread when the son left after Diwali holidays and decided to use the spinach in the bread instead. I love the spinach pavs served at Cafe Lota and this recipe is inspired by those really-green buns. It’s a different matter that the spinach made the bread seem too healthy to the son and he would have none of them. This when he doesn’t like the bread he gets in Pune!

Thanks to my smart phone I’m losing fewer recipes these days. Instead of committing my experiments and their results to memory I now jot down the ingredients into ‘notes’ on the phone right away. I had noted down exact measurements for the ingredients as well as the yield and there they were for my easy reference.

Here, then, from the phone archives, is the recipe for the spinach buns I baked last month and shared pictures of on Instagram. Notes and pictures from my very smart and handy Mi4. Read the rest of this entry »

Toasting a Half Century

In Drinks, From the Garden, Fruit, Preserves, Road Trip, Travel, Under 30 min! on August 5, 2015 at 4:49 pm
Road Tripping!

Road Tripping!

I’ve been away a while. Well, we were planning this vacation-of-a-lifetime, a six-week holiday in another part of the world! How many people can manage that today! The preceding month was crazy at work; the blog had to take the backseat again. Vijay was at his desk till an hour before we were to leave for the airport. We didn’t even get the time to dig out winter woollies from the big trunk in the storeroom. I was going to arrive in the US with no fashionable warm clothes. The taxi arrived and V was still to shower and eat. Eventually, we did manage to zip-up the cases and leave for the airport in time. As long as we had money and passports, we didn’t need to worry.

The following six weeks turned out to be a vacation to remember. Friends and family shared generously their time and their homes and we got another peek at the amazing country that is the USA. How much of it I will be able to recount here I don’t know – it took me over a month and five posts to cover our 10 days in Ladakh last year! But I love to go back and re-read all the travel posts here. It is surprising how much we forget as time passes. The brain stores but foggy memories and none of the detail. I do want to remember this trip. I turned 50 last month and this vacation turned out to be quite the celebration! It wasn’t planned with that in mind though.

raising a toast

Read the rest of this entry »

Sauteed Zucchini

In From the Garden, Under 30 min!, Vegetarian on March 4, 2015 at 1:02 pm

That time when deciding what to cook is a difficult task, is back.  Cauliflowers have lost their spunk and cabbages are looking blanched. [Another winter has gone by without an attempt at making kimchi. Sigh.]  Now that bottle-gourd juice has become the new diet-fad they can be found on the shelves the whole year round but the season when they, and other gourds, are at their best is still around the bend.  Zucchini, surprisingly, is looking beautiful; must be an early season squash.  Last week I brought home a good-looking specimen but I was not in the mood to cook it a-la-tori.

zucchini

Dinner ingredeints

I picked out my Italian cookbook from the bookshelf and checked it for zucchini recipes.  As is my habit, I  looked at the colour pictures first to see if I could spot something quick.  There was a picture, almost part of the background,  of a bowl piled high with zucchini rounds and labelled, quite simply, Sauteed Zucchini Rounds.  That was going to be dinner, along with Herb Pasta (wholewheat spaghetti) with Double Tomato Sauce (to which was added a generous handful of fresh fennel fronds).

Read the rest of this entry »

Fennel Frond Salt

In From the Garden, on the side on February 12, 2015 at 4:51 pm

fennel salt 10

The last few weeks I haven’t put much work into the few pots on my terrace that qualify as my urban terrace garden.  Yet, it rewards me so!  I had just thrown some fennel seeds from the spice jar into a grow-bag and they all sprouted into a small jungle of sorts.  I knew I needed to thin it but was loathe to throw the thinning away.  For the time being they looked pretty enough in a bouquet combined with the white and yellow flowers of the blooming brassicas.

fennel 01

Read the rest of this entry »

Calamondin Caipirinha

In Drinks, From the Garden, Preserves, Under 30 min!, Vegetarian on November 21, 2014 at 12:09 am
calamondin caipirinha

Calamondin caipirinha

calamondins

Calamondins

Growing up, I had no idea we could eat this fruit.  There were many bushes on the big mound of the Rose Garden at IIT Delhi.  While playing there in the summer evenings, we would try to avoid the gardeners’ eyes and pluck a few.  They were too sour to really be enjoyed.  One time I and my sister ended up with throats so sore that we never ventured near another narangi.  Sometime back kumquats surfaced on Indian food blogs and I thought maybe the idea needed a rethink.  But no one I knew cooked with them.

A couple of months back we were at Vijay’s cousin’s house for dinner, and his wife, Jyotsna, a fantastic cook, served us narangi pickle made much the same way I make my sweet and sour lime pickle.  The fruit was from the trees her mother-in-law had planted outside their ground floor flat. Even in a mature pickle the fragrance of the fruit was remarkable.  She told me the next crop would be ready soon.  I reserved a portion of the harvest and early this  month I got a call from her that the fruit had been plucked and I’d better collect my share as soon as possible.  I went that very morning – there was no time to waste – and brought home the bounty.

Read the rest of this entry »

Pickled Grapes

In Birds and Bees, From the Garden, Fruit, Low Fat, on the side, Pickles, Under 30 min!, Vegetarian on June 10, 2014 at 8:16 pm

grapes BW

Hot, hot. It’s a dry sauna in here! You could actually fry an egg on the sidewalk. And yet some things, native plants and creatures, thrive in this heat. At the moment, I am functioning with hardly any house-help. Kumari is away (for more than a month now) to her village in Bihar; Babloo, the presswala (for those who may not know, the chap who wields the “press” or iron, to iron our clothes!), also from Bihar, went away for a few weeks to make the most of his children’s summer vacations (he got back this morning!). He was also filling in for Chandu, who comes weekday mornings to wipe down the cars. So, I have had my hands more than full. The gardener, though in town, was a bit down in spirits, and there I was, watering the plants every other scorching evening. Yes, it doesn’t cool down even in the evenings. It become less hot, but never cool, till the monsoons arrive. No wonder we make so much song and dance about the Monsoon Season; yes, it is its own season – Saavan – in these parts, and much celebrated in Indian literature, paintings, and music.

On that first evening when I picked up the hose, I also decided to turn the pots to get even light on the less exposed sides. And, there was this tiny nest in the Ficus in the corner! The mystery of the chirpy sunbirds tailorbirds every morning explained! I rotated the plant back, so that the nest continued to stay hidden. A few days later, I became the anxious “carer” not having spotted the parents birds all afternoon and believing the nest to have been abandoned. I took a peek, and there they were, four tiny hatchlings in the nest! Google came to the rescue as always and I researched on how many hours hatchlings can survive without parent attention. I learned, with a heavy heart, that it is best to leave them alone and not care for them even if they have been abandoned. Ah, but come evening, there she was, the mother tailorbird! All was well after all. I resolved to take no more peeks lest I scare the parents to abandon their babies.

Read the rest of this entry »

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

Read the rest of this entry »

Dolmas (Stuffed Grape Leaves)

In From the Garden, Low Fat, on the side, Rice, Vegetarian on June 28, 2009 at 1:02 pm

I know, I know – I have been neglecting the blog.  I think i might have writer’s block.  The thing with writing is that you must just keep at it; that’s the only way to get past it.  You cut yourself some slack, waiting for inspiration to strike, and before you know it you have arrived at Writer’s Block!  Sticky place, that.

the vine

Yet it’s not as if it has been an uneventful month.  The Big News is that the son has graduated from highschool. Pappu pass ho gaya!! 😀 Not just that, he has also managed a place at a good college down South to study the subject he wishes to.  Yes, if all goes as per plan, he is slated to become an engineer in four years.

This is also a month of birthdays in the family, and everyone is a year older.  The son can vote now.  As for me, well… I don’t think 44 is any kind of a milestone…  After 40, they seem to whiz by.

Yet, this birthday ended up special in many ways.  The day began with the usual phone calls from my Mom and sis.  Then my neighbour T walked in to wish me and reminded me about our lunch appointment – yes, T took me out to lunch!  It was after a very long time that I actually liked everything I had ordered at a restaurant.  Thank you, T, for a wonderful afternoon!

Read the rest of this entry »

Caronde he Caronde

In Bread, Chutneys, From the Garden, Fruit, Low Fat, on the side, Preserves, Punjab, Tea Party, Under 30 min!, Vegetables, Vegetarian on July 19, 2008 at 12:25 am

caronde ki chutney

Please don’t mention Caronda* for some time…it is in every jar I had spare!  There is no room for any more pickles or preserves…As I mentioned last time, I made some caronda chutney a week ago, to use up part of my Dad’d harvest from a bush I planted about ten years ago in the front yard of their house.  I used the idea of a sweet-tangy Indian chutney such as saunth (sweet and sour tamarind chutney) or a mango chutney made with unripe mangoes.  The effort was much appreciated. Since it was a trial batch I got just enough to fill two tiny jars that I sent off to my mum and sister.  The next batch was a repeat of the recipe and this time the effort yielded a big jar – plenty, I thought.

There were still some carondas left which then went into a pickle, pits and all, along with some unripe mango, lotus root, and green chillies. I keep that stoneware jar in the sun, what little there is of it at this time, bring it in every evening, and give it a good stir.  It is looking good.

So far so good.  My mum liked the relish a lot.  She doesn’t eat too much pickle because of the high salt content.  I told her that pitting the fruit was a pain in the rear.  She pitted about a kilo with the help of her maid and presented it to me.  I had thought more like: ok, here’s a recipe you might like to try… But I came home and made my third batch of caronda chutney.  This batch had fewer ingredients – I had already used up my dates; no gur – I couldn’t be bothered; less sugar – I had used up a lot of sugar in the past couple of weeks between the caronda relish and the mango jam, and was making statements with big exclamatory marks regarding the sugar content of the chutney.  The fruit for this batch had ripened further on the plant, was a deeper pink, and there was a subtle change in texture too.  What a pretty pink it turned in the pan!  And the texture – why, it reminded me of sour cherries in syrup!  The slight crispness as you bite into one was so similar!  That made me Google for recipes using sour cherries and I found a bunch that hold promise for next year!  I make no promises…but there might even be Caronda Liqueur on these pages one day!

Read the rest of this entry »

%d bloggers like this: