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

Archive for the ‘From the Garden’ Category

Thayir Sadam – Curd Rice

In From the Garden, on the side, Pickles, south Indian, Under 30 min! on May 11, 2018 at 7:37 pm

It’s summer and the mangoes are maturing on the trees. The blazing sun keeps all of us indoors – it’s the sanest thing to do. Appetites are waning and you are perpetually parched.

“I hate summer!” you may be tempted to say. But then you remember the mangoes. And the phalsewala who has started doing his rounds. The trees of Delhi come into their own in the summer. The orange of the Semul in early summer has given way to the crimson of Gulmohurs and the trailing yellows of Amaltas.

In the North Indian plains, the mango blooms in early March. The inflorescence consists of hundreds of delicately perfumed flowers that bring the bees in droves. Naturally, not all flowers become fruit and not all fruits reach maturity. A large bunch will perhaps have a dozen mangoes at the most. Most of the fruit falls to the ground through the growth period. We (my Dad) have two trees of the Amrapali variety which grows into a luscious sweet fruit with deep orange pulp when it ripens in early July.  When it is green and immature it is tart enough to make a good pickle. But the tiny mangoes that make up the first lot of the fallen fruit end up in the compost pit. Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

Kohlrabi Pickle

In From the Garden, Kashmiri, on the side, Pickles on February 17, 2018 at 8:38 pm

I can’t have enough pickles it seems; the previous post too was on pickling. Pickling is cool (again) and you are likely to see a lot of talk about them. Lacto-fermentation is trending. Me, I’ve always loved a good pickle and the process of making a perishable vegetable last longer. Pickles are a great way to use the abundance from your garden where the entire crop of any one kind tends to ripen all at the same time.

Monjji anchaar, (L) Feb 2016, (R) 2018. Oh, how the monkeys have ruined my once-lush palms!

There is so much nostalgia associated with many seasonal pickles that the mere act of making one brings all those childhood memories flooding back. Kohlrabi, monjji to Kashmiris, is much more than just any vegetable to them. I am not exaggerating when I say that it is a reminder of our homeland, our homes with the kitchen gardens, our community, our market streets, especially now when we have all been removed from it. As for all people who have known exile, the longing for things that represent that homeland only gets deeper. Monjji anchar (kohlrabi pickle) might once have been that pickle found in every kitchen cupboard in Kashmir, but today, for many of us, it is a lot more.

As in desserts, the Kashmiri Pandit cuisine is pretty limited in its repertoire of pickles. We have just one recipe for pickling, only the vegetables get swapped. You may use kohlrabi or cauliflower. If you are feeling very rebellious you could go all out and use onions. Read the rest of this entry »

Bitter Lime Pickle

In From the Garden, on the side, Pickles, south Indian, Under 30 min!, Vegetarian on December 2, 2017 at 8:25 pm

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find. Even in an extremely urbanised city like Delhi, with hardly any real wilderness left, you will be pleasantly surprised how nature escapes the boundaries we set for her. Plants like bathua (lamb’s quarters) and kulfa (purslane) are common enough. I even found a large patch of sotchal (common mallow) growing wild in Purana Qila one time.

Last year K, my house help, put before me a bag of citrus growing on an unoccupied plot in her colony that no one wanted and was only attracting monkeys and their destructive antics. It looked a lot like our santara, the regular Indian orange; the peel and sections were on point. But there was nothing orange-y about their juice. The juice was sour and bitter, in equal measure. Loathe to see beautiful fruit laid waste she brought me a few confident that I would be able to make something of them.

Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

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 »

%d bloggers like this: