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

Archive for the ‘south Indian’ Category

Off to a great start in Colorado!

In on the side, south Indian, Travel, Under 30 min!, Vegetarian on August 26, 2015 at 9:34 pm

After a long period of careful planning tickets had finally been booked for an extended visit to the US of A. Many changes later, on June 5th, we were on the plane to Denver looking forward to our holiday. Yes, we were going to visit Manisha at home and check out her mountains! I was also hoping to catch up with three very close friends from grad school. We had all moved to Colorado after graduating from KSU. It would be fun to walk the streets with V and show him bits and pieces of what made up my daily life for that one year that I was in Denver. Ten days in CO seemed like a good way to start the vacation.

We were flying British Airways (they have fabulous baggage allowance, by the way, 3 x 23 kg per person!) but not looking forward to the eight-hour layover in London. Heathrow is quite the maze and it took us a couple of trips up and down the airport train, to figure out our holding area for the day. Clearing the security check at Heathrow took awfully long  with a few anxious moments when it seemed like I was going to have to trash some of the expensive Forest Essentials lotions and potions I was carrying as gifts. A mad dash across the security zone to locate V (he and I had been separated half an hour before), a good throw that sent a tube of hand cream sailing above the crowd of people between us (is he a good catch or what!), and I was able to zip my sanctioned clear-plastic bag. Pretty exciting stuff, enough to break a sweat. Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

Green Mango Pickle, Andhra-style

In on the side, Pickles, south Indian, Under 30 min!, Vegetarian on July 25, 2014 at 10:34 pm

mango pickle

I grew up at IITD and and the campus Kendriya Vidyalaya (Central School) was my high school.  KVIIT was also the campus-school for the two other neighbouring educational campuses – the NCERT and JNU.   That was a time when the middle class still sent their children to public schools.  My mother was a teacher in the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan but by the time she managed a transfer to KVIIT, I had already graduated.  Mr Bhujangarao, from Andhra Pradesh, was our Principal in my last two years at school.  He and his family lived on-campus, close to our house, and over the years our families became close friends.  As with all good neighbours, there was much exchange of food and recipes.  We would visit each other often for dinners; Mrs Bhujanga Rao feeding our need for dosai, idly, and upma, and my mom trying to satisfy her two boys with chhole and rajma.  I still remember how I loved the spicy upma, with lots of tomatoes, that she brought for me when I was recovering from some minor illness.  Nothing like Guntur chillies to awaken taste buds flatened by sickness.

green mangoes 2

Our visits continued even after Mr B was promoted and moved a little further in South Delhi, then to Chennai, and even after he retired and moved to Hyderabad.  His older son, also a friend, moved to Delhi a few years ago and we call on him when his parents come visiting.  Krishna auntie still insists we leave after a meal, lunch or dinner – as the case may be, and it is very hard for me to turn down her cooking.  When she was getting ready to leave Delhi many decades back, I  requested her mango pickle recipe.  We knew we would miss her gentle ways and her cooking, but, at least, we didn’t have to live the rest of our lives without her mango pickle! Read the rest of this entry »

Gavar (Cluster Beans) with Peanuts

In Low Fat, south Indian, Under 30 min!, Vegetables, Vegetarian on July 8, 2014 at 6:30 pm

beans

It’s great when you discover a new way with regular ingredients.  It’s even better when the ingredients involved are few and the recipe is effortless.  My friend SK, who knows my love for Southern Indian food, is often my guide and shares new ideas or leads me to lesser known food-blogs that highlight the kind of food I like to cook.  She is a writer and is constantly engaging the characters, such as you and me, around her.  These ‘encounters’ make her a treasure trove of traditional recipes as well.  During one such chat with me, she sketched the dish the maid had put together for her lunch that day.  A basic, peasant-style approach to food, it involved the ubiquitous red chilli as the only spice.  The addition of roasted peanuts, of course, adds to the nutritional content while providing a hint of refinement to what is otherwise a truly minimalistic dish.  It is almost as if you were deconstructing the Maharashtrian-style gavar-bhaji, and trying to retain what is absolutely essential.  The two dishes are similar, yet it is clear that the peasant-style one has been pared down to its essence. Frugal, but, full of flavour.

The finished dish can work as a side to any Indian meal, or even as a salad.  You could replace cluster beans with another vegetable – french beans, peas, cabbage – endless combinations.  Or mix it into cooked rice, as Sangeeta said she did, with some additional oil or ghee, and you have a one-dish pulav/stir-fried rice that is perfect for a packed lunch.  It has won gavar-haters over to this side! Read the rest of this entry »

Simbly South!

In Low Fat, south Indian, Travel, Vegetarian on April 21, 2012 at 7:17 pm

Malpe Beach

Talk about signing up for more than your fair share!  I am an adjunct faculty for a Grad program at a college nearby but ended up with full-time teaching load this semester.  The work load in the office stayed unchanged which translates into ‘busy’ and is reflected in the woeful frequency of posts here the past two years.  Factor in the absence of any kitchen help and you get the picture.  But there must be a silver lining, surely?

I had made a case last time that I was better off without the ‘help’.  Well, I think the fact that I was able to handle the additional work load was in no small way because I did not have to supervise the cooking and cleaning downstairs. In the past four months we have eaten out no more than we normally do; perhaps, even less.  In fact, the folk at Andhra Bhavan might be wondering if all was well.  We have resorted to a meal of bread-and-butter on very few occasions.  The family has had to compromise on the freshness of their roties since I firmly believe they (roties, not the family) are not worth the trouble of the clean-up involved, twice a day.  I usually cook enough roties for two meals and sometimes, with the right accompanying dishes that are best with rice, the leftovers get stretched into a third meal.  Otherwise, I feel our meals have more variety, are fresher (except for the roties!), and there is less waste as I use up ingredients before they spoil.

Lest you think it has been all work and no play let me tell you that in 2012 we have already managed two holidays!  The last week of January found us in Rajasthan walking the gorgeous dunes of Jaisalmer.  Yes, it was the same group that did that arduous hike to the Valley of Flowers five years ago; a bit older, none the wiser.  It was a bit hectic and we have resolved that the next trip together will be to a spa – a luxurious spa, not one of those detox ones where they near-starve you – and just let our hair hang down.

That is precisely what TH and I did early this month when we visited the son, now in his third year at college.  This year he has opted out of the college hostel and is trying out apartment-living with two classmates.  It is gladdening to watch him deal with the mundane and the interesting aspects of living on one’s own and sharing space with others with different backgrounds.  While A is a carnivore, both his roommates are vegetarian; one will eat eggs while the other is a vegan and an animal-right activist to the extent that even roaches get protection!  I wonder what they think of A and his ways!

Kapi, fresh South Indian filter coffee Read the rest of this entry »

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

Read the rest of this entry »

Pickle with Me

In on the side, Pickles, Preserves, south Indian, Vegetarian on January 26, 2011 at 1:00 am

No New Year resolutions for me!  Where’s the point?  Didn’t I promise to turn over a new leaf just a little while back?  I could use the weather as my excuse; you cannot turn over new leaves in the dead of winter.  Let spring arrive…(This post has been in writing for a couple of over three weeks, and I am afraid it almost is Spring!)

Let me wish all my friends here, in this virtual but not make-believe world, a very Happy New Year (while it is still January).  I hope we continue to exchange and enjoy a healthy Madness here.  If writing about food could be quick, I would post everyday!  But it is not. These last two years it has been very busy at work.  Blogging could not be the break I wished.  At the end of the day it is hard to return to the computer for anything other than to read.

backwaters

For all the work, and unusual for us, TH and I managed to squeeze out time for regular breaks.  We had resolved to visit the son mid-semester each semester, irrespective of whether he could/would make the time or not.  Our spring semester visit to Kochi, an overnight journey for him, coincided with his college festival. The following semester, in October, with plans to visit the temples of the Hoysalas, we landed in the middle of his exam week.  We went ahead with the plans anyway and visited the ancient temples of Halebid and Belur.  Once again, it was humbling to be in a shrine where our people have continued to pray for centuries, and I thought again of the little unspoiled temple by the backwaters of Aleppey where our houseboat had moored that night… Read the rest of this entry »

In a pickle

In south Indian, Travel on February 24, 2010 at 4:27 pm

limes and pepper

So I promised to turn over a new leaf…

But in the time that intervened I omitted to share my gastronomic visit to the land where I believe I might have lived in my previous life. In the days of spare gas cylinders and even piped gas (I refer here to liquefied petroleum gas – the kind that is in gaseous form unless pressurised, and not the fuel you run your cars on, which is a liquid but called ‘gas’ because obviously gasoline is too long a word) you would believe that city folks no longer have to worry about going without home cooked food because the fuel ran out. You would be right but, there are always exceptions that prove the rule.

Early one foggy December morn I left Delhi to arrive at my friend’s house in Chennai to an empty gas cylinder. My primary concern was regarding that tumbler of filter coffee the thought of which had put some shine to the early morning rise. Thankfully Tambram coffee snobs (at least the ones I know as friends) do not believe that microwaves render water unsatisfactory for the premium brew. Only after smelling the coffee was I willing to contemplate the situation at hand. At worst I would have to wait to eat my friend’s cooking (do you think she might have planned it?), and we would have to subsist on restaurant and “mess” food. But that is not such a bad thing if you are in idli land! 🙂 Plenty to happily subsist on!

Breakfast at Murugan Idli Read the rest of this entry »

Curry (leaf) Powder

In Chutneys, south Indian, Under 30 min!, Vegetarian on December 5, 2009 at 12:27 am

curryleaf podi

We are well into winter now here in Delhi. Autumn is past; the tiny leaves of Gulmohur have finally done their main shedding. It’s not bare, it never is, but we don’t sweep up a pile of leaves by the gate anymore. This is also the time when a lot of us feel the need to prune some of the evergreens so that there may be just a little more sun on the ground. My curry leaf tree does tend to shade my lime and keeps it from bearing a winter crop. It was also growing a bit too tall with hardly any low handy branches for a quick tempering. So, I had my gardener lop off a few branches last month.

It would have been a shame to have that huge pile of curry leaves go waste. Curry leaf podi has been on my list for a long time. I gathered a bunch of fresh leaves this time, like all the times before, to make into some spicy podi.  I was finally going to have curry powder in my kitchen! Actually, that is not true. I did get myself some of that authentic curry powder on my last visit to the US. My brother-in-law was very kind to give me a big bottle of it which I have used to spice many mixed vegetable stir fries; perfect when I want that exotic twist 🙂 to my everyday Indian.

Read the rest of this entry »

Journeying through Rice Country

In south Indian, Travel on August 14, 2009 at 12:28 am

churners and mashers :)

We decided to make a holiday of dropping A off at his college where he begins a new chapter in his life. I put in extra hours at work, squeezed in that second visit to Calcutta, (and stayed away from the blog!) and we were all set.

But let me start at the very beginning… because there is food there as well…

We started for the airport giving ourselves ample time having learnt our lesson just last month when TH and son nearly didn’t make it to the flight on the day they were to report for admissions! What can I say, we are a very laid-back family!

Yet, I didn’t make time for packing some lunch. I don’t care much for the “gourmet sandwiches” they sell on the flight. But where was the need to worry when we now have a spanking new Terminal at the Delhi Airport with all the choice we need, right? W-r-o-n-g.

Read the rest of this entry »

Along the Konkan Coast

In south Indian, Travel on July 31, 2009 at 7:47 pm

paddy fields...from the train

Idyllic six days of soaking in the monsoon…literally as well.  In these parts, it never rains – it only pours!  I’ll begin at the beginning but am fighting deadlines – how oft am I allowed to use this as an excuse? Also, I have a house full of guests; does that count? Read the rest of this entry »

%d bloggers like this: