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Archive for the ‘Tea Party’ Category

It’s time for some Deep Fried Bedmi Love

In Bread, Deep Fried!, Potatoes, Tea Party, Uttar Pradesh, Vegetables, Vegetarian on February 9, 2012 at 3:46 pm

The first month of this year is history already.  How time flies!

After some fumbling this season, old man winter got into his groove here in Delhi.  The weather has been at its frigid best for the past 6 weeks even though we celebrated Basant Panchami  (the fifth day of Spring) last Saturday.  I even poured myself a glass of kanji while preparing dinner the other day. But, the thaw has certainly started and if you blink the short Spring will be over.

In the fast pace of 2011 many celebrations got left out.  No one got a birthday cake :shock:.  The blog anniversary was overlooked since there was no time to come up with a theme, announce a party, or be a proper host to all of you.  But, it is always party-time at A Mad Tea Party where we celebrate food as just that – nourishment; food that satiates, the kind that engages all our senses.  Mindful eating without dissecting what is on the plate.

bedmi poori

One-dish-themed blog-events are now commonplace.  The poori-party might have been one of the first of that kind but it was quite by accident.  None of the subsequent celebrations were a patch on that first party.  From that party on, I have made a concerted effort to fry poories more often.  Every time the son visits for holidays, poori-bhaji features on the breakfast menu on one of the days.  Just the once maybe, but it is sure to be there.  Then, for Ram Navmi I indulge the little girl in me who misses doing rounds of the neighbouring homes to gather loads of prasad be part of the ritual to revere the goddess in all girls, by cooking poori, halwa, and kala chana.  That adds up to at least three poori-frying sessions a year!  And if there are friends or family visiting (and it is cool enough to fry in the kitchen) then it is likely they will get some deep fried love!

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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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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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Getting it Right

In Ruminations and rants, Tea Party on September 29, 2010 at 11:15 pm

the cup that cheers

Thank you all, for making time in your busy and (sometimes) maddening lives to indulge me once again this year.  Many of you out there (even the silent ones who show up only in the stats!) have become like friends over the last few years, and what better way to celebrate with all of you than by having a virtual tea party! This annual Party happens around India’s Independence Day, and this year, aptly, it is also about our Rights and the Responsibilities that come with them.

There can be no Tea Party without cake and we had plenty of those in all shapes and sizes and flavours! There were spicy puff pastries, savoury and sweet scones, hot chillies and bhel, cooling ice cream cakes, all accompanied by pots and pots of hot teas, and cold coffee! Read the rest of this entry »

Scones for Afternoon Tea

In Bread, on the side, Tea Party, Under 30 min!, Vegetarian on September 5, 2010 at 10:24 pm

tomato and cucumber sandwiches

Have you been enjoying your afternoon tea with friends and family? I have been!

tomato and cucumberThis monsoon the rains have been really heavy and incessant.  Greens generally disappear from the shelves in this season as they spoil in less than a day.  Coriander becomes elusive and very expensive.   The Big Apple stores, thankfully, stock it in sufficient quantity.  But this Friday when I went to restock in the evening they were out and I couldn’t make the all-time tea-time Indian favourite – chutney sandwiches.  When we were kids no birthday party was complete without these. Instead, I had to settle for the other favourite – cucumber, tomato, and Amul cheese sandwiches! I brewed a large pot of tea just for myself (TH is a teatotaler), prepared the sandwiches (not all that dainty, it wasn’t an English tea after all) and had myself a jolly good time.

Today, my parents dropped by for lunch. I served them a most delicious vegetarian lunch which included Kerala-style bittergourds cooked in coconut milk with sour mango (this is now one of my favourite ways to cook karela!), a Maharashtrain style stir-fried bhindi (okra split along the length into two, and stir fried in oil tempered with rai seeds, hing, turmeric, and red chilli powder), pumpkin kootu (using Bee and Jai’s recipe for kootu podi), served with roti and rice. My parents thoroughly enjoyed their meal! As did I. Awesome. Even if I say so myself.

After a brief siesta we needed the afternoon cup. I served it with fruity scones. It was my first attempt at making scones and they turned out rather well. They were light, with a barely crusty bottom. Split, smothered with homemade jam (I served with the quince marmalade as well as this season’s mango jam) they were the perfect accompaniment to our afternoon tea! I recommend them wholeheartedly! Read the rest of this entry »

Let’s have a Tea Party!

In Tea Party, This and That on August 22, 2010 at 3:50 pm

A Mad Tea Party

Image Credit: The Victorian Hub

I think a Tea Party is a fabulous idea (thank you, Aparna) –  what could be a better way to celebrate another year, the fourth, of A Mad Tea Party! The posts may not have been frequent this year but the blog managed good press.  It made it to the top five Indian food blogs on Good Housekeeping magazine (okay, that’s not such a big deal, but it is still good press :)), and starred in an interesting documentary, Feasting, Fasting,  on NDTV24x7.

the tea pot

Around here we really don’t need an excuse to throw a party.  But, an idea, a theme is fun.  In fact, that is how the Party started; we got talking on healthy eating and before you could say ‘no-fat’, we were frying!  A Party is not about making yourself ill, but it is about indulging yourself occasionally, giving yourself the break you surely deserve.  Since the theme this year has veered towards Freedom and the Responsibilities that come with it, we are all free to bring whatever we like to the Party!  Roll, fold, steam, boil, fry, or bake; sandwiches or scones, treacle or tarts, teacakes or coffeecakes, shortcakes or cupcakes (or muffins!), biscuits or cookies, samosas or pakoras, dhokla or muthiya, masala peanuts or chanajor garamyour choice! Get a few friends together, if you can,  and have yourself a real Tea Party.  Cook as much or as little as you like.  Yes, it does have to be a Tea Party, the madder the better! No Breakfast, Brunch, or Dinner recipes; I am hosting a Tea Party! Read the rest of this entry »

Tea in the Afternoon

In Kashmiri, Tea Party, Under 30 min! on June 3, 2010 at 1:12 pm

Shir Chai 01

You all know about my penchant for tea.  Just about any tea.  And Kashmiris have many.  Kahva or Mogul Chai is now almost as well known as the regular chai we drink everyday.  There is another, not seen or heard outside the community, but as loved by us Kashmiris.

Not so long ago even Kahva was unfamiliar and strange to the North Indian palate here in Delhi; the Kahva my mother-in-law offered as a special treat to her kitty-party buddies twenty years ago did not generate much enthusiasm and made me wary of offering shir chai to anyone but family.

A typical family get-together will begin with rounds of Kahva as we wait for the folk to gather.  There may be some matthi or pastry puffs or tchot (nan-like leavened flat bread) that someone is sure to have brought along.  Then we will all proceed to stuff ourselves to the gills on the traditional fare that is mandatory at a Kashmiri gathering.  It may seem repetitive to TH but we never tire of our rogan josh (curried mutton) or mutsch or kaliya or yakhni or haak or monjji or dum olu or panir or nadur (lotus stem) or palak (spinach).  Yes, that is pretty much the standard menu you will find at any Kashmiri party.  After having just finished the richest meal imaginable, we will all likely say yes to a cup of this salty milky tea.  In fact, the party isn’t over till we do.  Of course, there are always a few poor souls who will decline in favour of “Lipton Chai” aka regular Indian black tea that the entire country loves to drink.

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Blue cheese anyone?

In Tea Party on March 20, 2010 at 5:20 pm

blue cheese crackers

Stinky foods – how we love them!  Of course, we don’t necessarily all agree on which ones stink and which don’t.  Sometimes, we may even find them aromatic!  Take hing or asafoetida, for example.  I doubt if there is an Indian who would denounce it because it stinks.  In fact, we may even believe it imparts our food an added layer of complexity.  The European world relinquished this foetid resin a long time ago only to make other stinkier foods their cherished delicacies!

While Anthony Bourdain feels that a life without stinky cheese, amongst other less loved foods, is not a life worth living at all, Samar (who I only recently discovered is also a food writer!), thinks all kinds of dried stinky sea food is divine. I love my onion and garlic and am planning to give dried fish another shot very soon. I like what fish sauce does to Thai curries; even shrimp paste. I don’t think Brie stinks. In fact, I love most cheeses I have come across. But, blue cheese, for all the snobbery associated with this moldy one, has been a different story altogether. I cannot swallow it. I actually gag.

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Mad Tea Party: Express Indian

In Ruminations and rants, Tea Party, This and That on August 24, 2009 at 12:38 am

It was hard to come up with a title that had already not been used!  Quick Indian Cooking, Express Cooking, Simple Indian Food, Quick and Easy Indian Cooking, and my own section, Under-30-minutes! And yet, people want to continue to shroud Indian cuisine under difficult and complex.  Complex – I sure hope it is!  How can you expect simple from a culture that can say ‘cook’ in 1652 different languages! Even when we use just 5 ingredients to create a dish, it still turns out with shades of complexity!  But that, I think, is the sign of a cuisine that has evolved… over millenia, in our case.

The notion that Indian Cuisine is too complicated, too time consuming, and too rich is widespread.  That should make us a nation of smart (though idle), fat people. Which, urban India might actually be – fat, not idle – but I digress.  We have another Party coming up.  For the First one we all fried poori and served it with potato bhaji.  For the Second Party we chose to share our deep fried love with batata vada in its many avatars.  For this Third Edition, I am thinking we should address some of  Manisha’s concerns and see how we can help dispel the notion that Indian cooking is all about toiling in the kitchen, deciphering complicated techniques and recipes, and dousing it all in some heavy cream before serving.

India is the flavour of the season.  Which means that more people than ever before now know where to look for it on the globe.  There is also a growing awareness about the  myriad mini-Indias that exist within her, complete with their own language, culture and, of course, cuisine.  In India there is nothing known as Indian Food, or curry powder, for that matter!  We do have Kashmiri, Punjabi, Maharashtrain, Bengali, Andhra, Tamil cuisines…. which itself is a nomenclature quite inadequate to express the distinctive regional variations found within the states!  In cultural complexity it will not be an exaggeration to equate India to the European Union where the States of India are akin to the European member Nations!  European – a complex cuisine?  You bet!  Break the whole into its parts, and the mist starts to lift.

So, how about we find some of the less complicated gems from within the regional Indian cuisines and bring them to the Party – A Mad Tea Party – III? The dish should have six ingredients (or less), and it should be possible to cook it in 30 minutes (or less).  Time needed for soaking ingredients, rising time etc, need not be included into this calculation.  Essentially time when you can be fully occupied doing something else entirely is exempt from inclusion.  If you like, you may also subtract unsupervised time such as “pressure cook for 10 min,” “cover and cook for 15 min,” if no stirring at all is needed, as in the cooking of soaked beans and lentils in a pressure cooker.  This will ensure that those of us not having access to canned products or not wanting to use such processed ingredients are not disadvantaged on account of time.

If you can make a meal of it in the stipulated 30 minutes, all the better for it.  Since frozen vegetables are part of our lives now, these are permissible.  For those who would like to use fresh, veggie preparation time may be indicated separate from the other preparation and/or cooking time.  The essential part being, that it should be possible to cook the dish in 30 minutes of active time, using whatever shortcuts available to us today.

The rules are simple:

  • Cook an Indian party dish* using  not more than 6 ingredients (not counting salt and chillies), in 30 minutes max. (from the kitchen to the table). The chosen dish need not be fat free but, must not be swimming in grease of any kind, including fresh cream.  Write a post about it (with or without a recipe D ; list the ingredients used and the time taken to prepare the dish) – the region it belongs to, how you enjoyed it, maybe a picture of the dish and/or the family enjoying the dish. (Old posts don’t count!)
  • Deadline: You have till September 13 to do this.
  • Too hot to cook? Go out and eat one of these light dishes at a restaurant! The portion will be right, and you don’t have to stew even for 30 min! Write a post about it, and how you really enjoyed it!
  • Link to this post. You may, if you like, use a Pingback and it will automatically show up in the comments here. Or leave a comment on this post which will lead us to your post!
  • Don’t have a blog? You can still join the party; just leave a comment here about how you enjoyed your easy Indian dish! You may, if you like, provide a link to any pictures you may have posted on a photo-sharing site such as Flickr or Photobucket.  I will include your name in the list of those who participated!

* Any dish that you think you will include in a Party menu for your friends counts as a Party Dish.

Have a Party!