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. Continue reading “Caronde Hari Mirch ki Sabzi”
Mangoes are definitely the silver lining of the Northern Indian summers. Unlike in some southern Indian states (and further east of India) where mangoes are available year round, in Delhi we have access to both green and ripe mangoes only through the summer. Or, maybe, I should say that we have seasons other than summer and therefore, our fruits and vegetables change as the seasons roll! Another silver lining of living in the heat and dust bowl that is the North India Plain!
The superior pickling mangoes, such as Ramkela, arrive after the first monsoon showers. Evey year I make batches of mango pickles though the quantities I now make are more proportionate to the moderate amounts we consume. Amongst the mango pickles I make is the Punjabi kind to which I sometimes add karonde and chickpeas. The Andhra-style mango pickle with garlic and loads of chillies is a favourite of ours, especially the son and I; it makes a great combination with besan-paranthas. Since the last few years I have also started making Shilpa’s (actualy, Varada’s!) konkani-style shredded mango pickle. At the start of mango season, I also make a quick pickle from the fallen Amrapali mangoes in my mom’s backyard using my own pickling spice mix, or, sometimes, the K-Pra brand amba lonche spice mix from Maharashtra. Continue reading “Green Mangoes”
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.
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!
Continue reading “It’s time for some Deep Fried Bedmi Love”
After the popularity (and blog success) of Shakuntala’s Aloo ki Ras Bhaaji, I had been trying to get her to teach me something new. She hails from Western UP in North India and I incorporate a lot of North Indian influence in my everyday food. This essentially makes my everyday food only a variation of hers. Last week I decided to try her version of Aloo Palak (spinach with potatoes) that is a variation on my Punjab-type.
Aloo palak is a popular no-fuss Punjabi dish. A long long time ago we lived briefly in West Delhi where the population is mainly Punjabi. On the way back from grocery shopping my Mom would sometimes pick a kulhar (a disposable terracotta take-away container) of aloo palak from Sardarji’s dhaba to serve at dinner.
Those were days when there were open, unbuilt-upon areas available where a woman could set up a make-shift tandoor, dug into the ground, and provide roti-making service to other harried housewives at lunchtime in the peak of summer. I remember my mom occasionally sending me and my younger sister with some dough, flour, and ghee to get them made into hot tandoori rotis. There was some nominal charge per roti for the baking and the lady also got to keep the dry flour and any ghee that did not get used up.
It used to be fascinating to watch the woman pinch off the dough and pat it into a thick roti, place it on a hand-held cloth padding for the final slap onto the hot surface of the glowing tandoor. One by one they would go in. She would then pick her hooked metal spike and dislodge one from the clay surface and flip it onto the hot coals to briefly cook the other side before pulling it out.
Continue reading “Aloo Palak (Spinach with Potatoes)”