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

Archive for the ‘Vegetarian’ Category

A Peanut Chutney from Marathwada

In Maharashtrian, on the side, Travel, Under 30 min!, Vegetarian on October 1, 2016 at 7:10 pm

somewhere-in-aurangabad-04

There is this chunky peanut chutney from the Marathwada region of Maharashtra that’s a bit like a well-kept secret, a hidden gem, in a plethora of side dishes served all over Western and Southern India. Maharashtra has a portion of the thali reserved for these itsy-bitsy additions to the daily meal that make them special. Davi kadey, Marathi for on-the left-side, is the side of the thali reserved for a multitude of condiments, from salt to pickles, from a wedge of lime to chutneys of all kinds, a side that is almost completely missing in my Kashmiri thali. Exceptions only prove the rule. I think we allowed rice to find its way into that corner as well.

peanut-chutney-03

A lunch with three things on the left side: peanut chutney, green tomato chutney, and cucumber raita.

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 »

Preserved Labneh (Labneh Korat)

In Dips and Spreads, on the side, Preserves, Under 30 min!, Vegetarian on May 28, 2016 at 4:08 pm

labnek korat 10

Labneh is a staple in my fridge. It is versatile and we love to lather it on to toasted bread or roti for a quick breakfast on the run, or serve it with crackers over drinks. Imagine my delight when on my recent trip to Jordan I discovered that it was possible to ‘pickle’ it! This meant I could share my love for both, labneh and pickles, with friends in one jar!

At home, we are not drinking much milk these days and I end up turning most of it into dahi.  When I run out of containers to make dahi in and it’s staring at me from every shelf in the fridge, it’s time for labneh-making. Now, it seems I have an even better deal with these labneh balls. I have served them earlier as cheese balls rolled in nuts and spices but didn’t know that I could put them in a jar, drown them in olive oil and have another pickle of sorts on my hand. They have their own name too – Labneh Korat (Balls of Labneh!). They make a handy addition to a breakfast or mezze spread.

So here is this traditional Levantine recipe for my pickle and preserve loving readers. To prepare the labneh for making balls it needs to be drained longer than for making a regular creamy spread; 12 hours or overnight should do the job. Place a large piece of muslin over a non-reactive pot and tip dahi into it, mix in a good amount of salt – most of it will drain away anyway with the whey. Tie into a bundle and hang to drain overnight. Untie and transfer the drained dahi into a bowl. Taste and mix in more salt, if needed. Labneh served in Jordan is extremely salty which also helps preserve it for longer. Preserved this way it can stay for six months to a year! Read the rest of this entry »

Hemp Seed Pesto

In Dips and Spreads, on the side, Under 30 min!, Vegetarian on March 2, 2016 at 2:42 pm
hemp pesto 04

hemp pesto

Last week I made this pesto, my first, for dressing the fresh pasta we were planning to make later for the Simply Italian Workshop. I didn’t realise till I opened the blog that the previous post had also featured this little-used ingredient. The pesto is very good and I’m going to go ahead and share the recipe here anyway. Get your hands on native bhangjeera, many times cheaper than the nuts of the Pinyon Pine (some species of which are now threatened). It is also a great way to use up all that wonderful basil growing in your pots right now because spring will be over soon and the basil gone all to seed. It’s handy for making a quick sauce for pasta, to use in sandwiches, and also for spearing on fresh dinner rolls.

red and green pasta

red and green pasta

red white and green pasta

making fresh pasta

Red, white, and green – we made three kinds of pasta (no pasta machine) for the workshop! Read the rest of this entry »

Apple Soup

In Fruit, Low Fat, Soup, Under 30 min!, Vegetarian on January 16, 2016 at 1:02 pm

applesoup 01

It got nippy and there it stayed, just nippy. Kashmiri people divide winter into three sub-seasons associated with the intensity of the cold. Right now, we are in the middle of the 40-day period of Chillai Kalan, the harshest part of winter that starts on the night of the winter solstice. It is followed by a 20-day long Chillai Khurd, and then it peters out into a brief 10-day Chillai Baccha, before the herald of Spring in March. Many of our festivals and rituals, as seen in our winter celebrations, are closely tied to a shared history with Persian Zoroastrian traditions.

In Punjab Lohri celebrations, with the ceremonial communal bonfire, mark the coldest night of Winter. Lohri, which was two days ago, on the 13th, came and went with nary a shiver. We were still walking around in the lightest of sweaters here in Delhi. It was far from the coldest night of the winter it is expected to be.

But, the morning after, the clouds rolled in. It hasn’t rained but the Western Disturbances, as they are called, have brought in some chill and the resultant cheer, to Delhi-winters. There should be snow in the mountains too!

Chilli

Read the rest of this entry »

Bhang ki Chutney – Hemp seed chutney

In on the side, Under 30 min!, Vegetarian on December 17, 2015 at 2:59 pm
bhang seeds2

Roasting bhang (hemp) seeds

I learned about this very intriguing ingredient only recently, on a work trip to Pithoragarh, Uttarakahand, two years back. I too wanted to know how much of a buzz it was going to provide. While it is borne on a plant more famous for its associations with the hallucinogen marijuana, the seeds are not psychoactive. They are, in fact, a commonplace pantry ingredient in the mountains.

The hemp plant, domesticated in China as far back as 2800 BC, is quite the wonder-crop and can be used to make rope, paper, fabric, biodegradable plastics, and even construction material. Did you know that the word ‘canvas’ is derived from cannabis? In the 17C and 18C it was a very popular crop, even mandatory in many states of the United States. In 1794 George Washington recommended, “Make the most you can of the hemp seed and grow it everywhere.” Till 1985 India had no narcotics policy. The NDPS Act enacted in 1985 under pressure from the USA still includes within it a special provision relating to cannabis that allows its cultivation for industrial purposes and for obtaining seeds.

Some people will warn you against eating it while others will tell you that it is another superfood that has all the 20 amino acids we need, in addition to the right mix of the fatty acids. But, if there is one thing I know about the magical properties of food it is that we don’t really know enough. We are only beginning to scratch the surface on how our health is tied to food and nutrition, hardly enough to make the kind of claims that science so frequently does. Just look at how we have flip-flopped over the last half-century on carbohydrates and fats. Unfortunately, in India too we have started to over-analyse our food, breaking it up into its constituent nutrients in an attempt to eat healthy. It seems to be a losing battle. I wish it wasn’t a battle at all.

I’m glad we had that poori-party when we did! All that frying, as it turns out, was not such a bad idea at all! I even went so far as to say I needed to eat more red meat! “Because food is not just fuel for the body, it is nourishment for the soul.

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 »

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 »

Bake your own Burger Buns

In Bread, on the side, Tea Party, Vegetarian on May 11, 2015 at 4:48 pm

buns02

I don’t know about others, but I feel a sense of liberation when my maid calls her day off. My brain starts buzzing with plans of things I want to cook to make the most of her absence, dishes that I prefer prepping for myself even when she is there. It doesn’t include making roti. You’ll be surprised the lengths I’ll go to just to avoid cooking our daily bread. To keep me in good spirits Kumari, the maid, calls off often enough and I get to break the routine roti-dal-subzi meals. Like today.

In an ideal world, she’d take all Sundays off but I’m glad that she usually let’s me know ahead. This Saturday she informed me that she was planning to take Monday off. I started planning! 🙂 I finished off the leftovers last night. Today there will be pasta for lunch – the tomato sauce is simmering gently on the stove. I might fry some eggplant, if I feel inclined [later: I didn’t.]. Dinner is going to be vegetarian burgers with home-made buns. Lately, I have been on a pantry-cleaning mission and ingredients that have been around for a long time are getting special attention. Every bottle of spice, or blends, and every container of strange ingredients sitting around, is destined to be consumed before the summer is out. With the second fridge also chock-full, that might well be wishful thinking but I should certainly have a cleaned-out pantry before the year is out. Then I can look forward to stocking it up again with new ingredients from near and far.
Read the rest of this entry »

Tchoek Vangun hachi – cooking with sun dried brinjals

In Kashmiri, Under 30 min!, Vegetables, Vegetarian on April 2, 2015 at 3:59 pm
tchoak wangun 05

Tchoek-wangun, Kashmiri khatte baingan, cooked with sun-dried eggplant

Drying is one of the oldest and easiest way to preserve food.  In a country with plentiful sun it is only natural that we should have a tradition of using the sun’s energy to process food. You will find wadi varieties from all over the country. Bengalis put their bodi into many dishes including shukto, Southen India gives us vadams and appalams in addition to celebrating dried vegetables in, the most delicious of all ‘curries’, the vatahkuzhanmbu. In Uttarakhand mountain cucumbers are combined with urad-dal to make wadi. Punjab’s famous wadis which come in various flavours (with plums, with tomatoes, and regular – all spiced up with generous amounts of black pepper) can be combined with the blandest of vegetables to lift them out of the ordinary. From the state of UP we have mangodi, small wadis made with mung dal. Kashmiris make sun-dried spice-cakes and call them veri. Pickles that have been cooked in the sun for a while are found all over the country.

Read the rest of this entry »