Sunday, December 08, 2013

A city under siege......

The city is under a siege. A sudden drop in the temperatures and the city seems to have collapsed under it.

It all started on Thursday evening, when my friend and I had to pick up the kids after school. It was cold, very cold and a drizzle started, just as the car hit the main street. The kind of rain that hurts, when it hits you, sharp and icy, icy cold. A matter of 5 miles, which is covered in about 20 mins. (driving  normally and getting caught at some signals) took us about an hour. 
Driving home was about the same. 
Dallas, is afraid of such weather.
By evening, whatsapp was buzzing with questions, 'is our school closed tomorrow?'  No one knew the answer to that, but everyone seemed to have an opinion about how foul the weather was just about now and how it would worsen by the time the sun was up. 
The kids, however, were sure, there was no school on Friday. They stuck to that. 

Well, whaddya know? The kids were right! By 9:00 pm there was an IVR broadcast announcing that the school was closed due to inclement weather.


We woke up to a dazzling white morning. To people living in places where there is regular snowfall, this seems like nothing, and it is, nothing, but for a city, that knows little to nothing about snow, it comes as  a rude awakening. 
Men and women work from home, stores are swept clean of any and every vegetable, dairy, water and snack. Heaters are cranked up and the roads are clear, of cars, that is. 

Not many want to brave the snow and even worse, the icy streets. It's the icy streets that kept us indoors too. 
It is difficult, to sit at home and play and do stuff with an active 5 year old, who never seems to tire.
2 play dates and playing about in the scanty snow and freezing our axxxx toes  outside and the little one still showed NO signs of wear and tear. 
It was time to involve him in some activity that required minimal effort but good results and most importantly, kept him in one place for a few minutes.

On my last trip to the grocery store, I had, on a whim, picked up a roll of Crescent Rolls dough, the kind that comes in a tube. 
When it is as cold as it was outside ( it was about -7 deg. C, by the by, Celsius in the negative is so much more impressive then 2 digit Fahrenheit, no?), something warm, sweet hits the spot. Like Cinnamon Pull- Apart Bread.

I pulled out the tube of Crescent rolls (the one that makes 8 rolls, I think) from the fridge.
Pre-heat the oven t 375 deg. F ( as per tube instructions)
Melted about 2 tbsp butter
Ina  small bowl, mix 1/4 cup sugar, approximately 1 tsp Cinnamon powder  and 1/2 tsp Nutmeg powder
Clean and prep the work surface.
Pop the tube and pull out the dough
Roll out the dough on the clean work surface and pinch together the triangles to make one big rectangle
Brush the surface of the rectangle with the melted butter
Sprinkle the cinna-nutmeg- sugar evenly all over the rectangle, covering the entire surface. 
Here comes the part when you start the cutting and arranging.
It helps to have  loaf pan ready, greased and all.
Now, using a pizza cutter (which is the best way to cut it) or a sharp knife, cut 3 horizontal lines in the dough.
Now, carefully, lift one strip and place it on top of the other. 
3 strips piled on top of one another, think 3 mattresses piled on top of the other , just so we are clear.
Using the pizza cutter, cut the piled on strips in 4-6 squares, vertically, so they look like stacked pillows in a line.
Now pick up one stack at a time and place it in the pan, like soldiers in a line, not piled on top of one another. Just so we are clear on the placement.
Sprinkle any left over sugar on top and bake in the oven.
The tube says bake for 15 -17 minutes, but I took longer, about 25 minutes. 
At the 15 minute mark, the first pull apart was done, but inside, the rest was all soft and doughy, so I had to bung it in the oven longer. 
It may be my oven, so keep an eye after the 17 minute mark. 
Remove the pan from from the oven, click a picture while it cools and then devour.

It has the child's seal of approval.
Mission accomplished.



We still have a school shutdown and so it's time to do more stuff, indoors.
Stay warm folks! See you soon.
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Thursday, December 05, 2013

Life happens.....

.... just because I cannot use s*** happens, in the title. After all, this is a food blog.
But this is also the space where I laugh, smile, reminisce, thank, whine, rant... you get the drift.

So things were going well, when I last posted, I finally began to believe that bad times were behind me. I was just relaxing into that mindset when, of course, fate has to go and blow the whole thing up in my face.

The first thing that happened was, I started slowing down, specially in the mornings. I would wake up to the alarm and start planning on my day in my head, but the moment I tried to stand up I felt shooting pain in my heel.
This was something that had started when I was visiting India, I had no time to think or do anything about it then. When I came back, I just ignored it, as usual. The thing with pain (and when it impairs mobility) is, you have to sit up (or down, in this case) and take notice.
Turns out I have Plantar Fasciitis
All my plans for a Thanksgiving Dinner with special friends is now postponed until further notice.
It sucks.

Just when I  thought medicines and a bit of care would settle that.... then I go ahead and suffer another set back.
On the day of my last post, we had a break-in, in our apartment and my Nikon DSLR was stolen.
It was a big shock for me and fair broke my heart.

This sucked even more.

Still does

Much as I'd like to forgive, I cannot and have (and still do, when I look at the place I kept my camera kit) roundly cursed the wretched thief (you know, the Hindi filmy drama types (polite version here), "main tujhe shraap/ shaap deti hoon, papi, bhrasta duratma, tu insaan kehlane ke layak nahi...chor, daku, goonda-mavali.. types. )

The whole process of research and evaluation and reviews and all that has to be gone through again, but this time, there is a bit of hesitancy. I am.... not ready. But I do want a camera.
I feel horrible, when I see my son sitting with a particular look on his handsome face and the fact that I cannot capture every detail of it, as  a memory, when I am old. My blog feels lost without it. I know I do not blog regularly, but I still need a good camera.
I do.

So for the time being, I will try and post recipes and take terrible pictures with my iPhone. 
I am also  trawling the blogosphere for recipes to try out. And that is why I love Pinterest. People everywhere are doing everything possible. My favorite section is the food and drink section, of course. I pin recipes, some that I want to try immediately and some in the near future and then some, I may or may not try, but boy! they look (and read) good. For example, a few weeks ago, I had a Soup, Salad and Sandwich lunch and made my favorite Tomato Soup
The recipe is fairly simple,
Blanch 5 Roma Tomatoes in boiling water, peel and puree ( I also sieve them to get rid of the seeds)
Chop 1/2 Onion
Peel and chop 1 Carrot ( I place the chopped carrot in a microwave safe bowl, add 3-4 Tbsp water and microwave for 2 mins. - till tender)
In a  deep saucepan, heat Oil ( I used Olive, but sometimes I just use Canola or even butter) and saute the chopped onion.
Once the onion is translucent, add the cooked carrots and stir them around for a while, add the tomato puree and about 2 cups of water ( I just use the regular coffee cups, not the real measuring cup) and add / crumble 1 Veg. bullion cube. Let it all boil. I use my immersion blender at his stage to puree everything to a smooth consistency.
Add 2 tbsp. sugar, salt to taste and dried Oregano and reduce the heat to medium and let the soup come to a boil.
Lower the heat and add about 3/4 cup milk while stirring and cook for a few mins longer (use 1/2 cup heavy cream, if you are not calorie conscious)
Serve hot with or without croutons and a dash of black pepper.

- Black pepper can be added  while cooking as well (with the oregano) unless you prefer it mild.
-If you have vegetable stock on hand, please use that instead of water ( or the veg. bullion cube).


For the salad, I adapted the recipe from here,and just adjusted the amount of peanut butter ( I get migraine with PB,but I still indulge, once in a few months). The salad is all that it looks, good and filling and packs in a good amount of protein and vegetables and makes it all so enjoyable. I am a recent convert to salads and am enjoying  different versions that can be made and thankful that it's not just lettuce (not that I dislike lettuce, but it gets boring after a bit). I have been toying with the idea of substituting almond butter for peanut butter so I can make this more often.      

Vegan and Gluten free salad full of protein


For the sandwich part, I took the small liberty of calling a burger a sandwich. I found this burger patty recipe. Thyme is a new addition to my pantry, thanks to this wonderful recipe. The patties freeze well and can be re-heated and used when you want a quick, but filling and nutritious meal. 
I made these on my cast iron pan, which heats up quickly and brown the patties well with a crispy cover, just how I like it.
But now, I have a new grill and I am looking forward to making my burger patties (and more) on this.

I am looking at replicating the Panera Bread Panini which has sun dried Tomato Pesto and tomato and mozzarella cheese, oh yum!

Do you  have a grill? Please do share your ideas and suggestions in the comments section.

I'll see you all soon, hopefully with cheerful news and some yummy recipes and food adventures to share.
Till then, take care and stay warm!

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Friday, November 15, 2013

Apple Muffins ( Made with Oil)

Last week I picked up Cortland Apples at the store. They looked really nice, well rounded and plump, one that would tempt Snow White.
Cortland apples are snow white inside and are tart. Better suited for baking or making a chutney, IMO. 

 I decided to bake. Something simple. Baking is not my strong point. I have regular bouts of panic and a low self-image whenever I plan on baking, but of course, I don't give up. I follow every word of the recipe and watch the oven like a hawk every time I pop something into it. And they say baking is therapeutic. Hah!

So to start with, I searched high and low for a recipe that suited my requirement. Simple, required just 2 apples and I could use ingredients that I had at home.

I found just that!

I made these for Children's Day (celebrated in India on 11/14) for my little one (who takes it for granted that I can bake) and also (virtually) for young T (My BFF Lisa's son), who has touching faith in my culinary abilities. He rates my baking skills highly (and that, is what makes me want to bake, this innocent faith that the boys have in me).





I have modified the recipe slightly. For the exact recipe, click here. 

To start with, this recipe yielded more than 12 muffins ( I have a 12-standard sized cupcake pan). I'd say 16, maybe. So I made 12 muffins and  used a pie dish to make a smallish cake which was cut into wedges. 


1/2 cup Canola /vegetable or other neutral oil
1/2 cup Granulated sugar
3/4 cup Demerara sugar (original recipe calls for dark brown sugar)
1 large Egg
1 cup buttermilk
2 Cups Unbleached  All Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Baking powder
1 teaspoon Baking soda
1/4 teaspoon Salt
**1 1/2 tsp ground Cinnamon
2 Apples (I used Cortland), peeled and chopped

Pre-heat the oven at 375 deg. F. Grease the pan or line it with liners and grease them and set aside.

Beat the Oil and sugar together. 

* The original recipe calls for using the granulated sugar and just 1/4 cup of the brown sugar to be mixed in butter and beat it till fluffy. I have used oil instead of butter and did not reserve any sugar, but creamed it all at once.

Add the egg and mix well, scraping the sides of the bowl as required.

Slowly add the buttermilk.

Add the Flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.

Gently fold in the apple.

Add the mixture to the ready muffin pan / liners, dividing equally.

Bake for 30 mins or until a toothpick inserted, comes out clean.

Cool the muffins in the pan for about 10 mins and then on a rack.

Enjoy as a tea-time treat or in the lunch box or when you want.


NOTES:

* If you have reserved any brown sugar, sprinkle it on top of the batter and  then bake.
**The original recipe calls for 1 Tbsp. of ground cinnamon, I dislike a very strong whiff of cinnamon and therefore used just 1.5 tsp. 

These muffins are deliciously moist because of the oil and the apples, of course and mildly sweet.
(those who do not like fruit pieces in their food (as they tend to become soft) may not approve. )

The reserved sugar will provide a nice crunch when baked. The next time I will try it or make a streusel topping.



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Friday, November 08, 2013

Blondies

I am so glad October is behind me now. It was a month full of anxiety and stress, luckily, all is well now. It taught me many things and gave me many reasons to be thankful for in life. 
I learned to overcome my fear and face tough situations. Also to think on my toes. I learned who my real friends are. 

I am ready to relax and enjoy what is left of 2013. Diwali was like a fresh beginning and I was in good spirits and made Diwali goodies and enjoyed snacking, without any shame guilt. 
With 5 days of Diwali goodies and total Indian food, I wanted to divert my mind to something a little different. 
In an ideal world, I should have been eating salads and light meals, but... we do not live in an ideal world, do we now?
So I decided that the party had to go on, just in a different direction. 
Also it was Thursday, the day my little one has chess class after school and which means he and his 2 friends (who come back with me) are hungry after school. 
On most days, I carry fruit for them, it keeps them full until we reach home and they get their milk. but the bananas were kinda spotty brown, the kind that kids turn up their noses at. 

So it was simpler to make or bake something. Just that I had only 1 egg and I am not so confident when making egg less cakes ( and the one I have bookmarked needs dates, which, I did not have on hand) and I was itching to make blondies. There are any number of recipes online, just google and get it. After poring over a few, I went ahead and made these. They are VERY simple to make, a 5 year old can make them and I intend to let my little one do just that, next time- with 'dark chocolate chips' as he pointedly told me, several times (with each bite, to be precise). My excuse, I was in a hurry ( and to myself: where are those chocolate chips anyway? I know I have them, somewhere).

So if you are in a hurry and want to make something quick and sweet and tasty, try these. 
Blondies, for those who are wondering, are brownies, minus the chocolate. Dense, moist, gooey and oh-so-good that you want another piece! 

You need:

1 stick / 1/2 cup unsalted Butter
1 cup Brown Sugar
1 large Egg
Hefty pinch Salt (about 1/8 tsp)
1 cup All Purpose Flour
1 1/2 tsp Vanilla Essence
Chocolate /Butterscotch chips ( or nuts, if you prefer them)

Preheat the oven at 350 F.
Grease a pan that you will use to bake the blondies in ( I used a square cake pan and sprayed it with non-stick PAM)
Sift the flour and salt and keep it ready
Melt the butter ( microwave it in short bursts), you want just melted, not bubbling ( that would be, almost ghee)
Add the sugar to the melted butter and beat until creamy
Add in the egg and the vanilla and mix well
Add the flour + salt and mix well
Transfer to the greased pan and bake in the oven for 25 mins ( or till a toothpick inserted comes out clean) 
Cool in the pan for about 10 mins and then transfer to a rack to cool completely. I left the pan cooling and went to get ready to go get the kids from school, no harm done. I sliced them in the pan and cooled them just a tad more, to pack them an go (and of course, take pictures).


-I carefully added butterscotch chips, each blondie had one, just so that there would be no comparisons when I handed them out to the 3 hungry ( and sometimes cranky) kids. Next time, I will add about 1/4 cup small semi-sweet chips and stir them in.

-Other options are, toasted nuts- chopped, M&M's.

-I got 16 blondies ( and I kept the edge on one side- as you can see in the pictures-for myself, I love 'em)


That's it at my end. and oh! I am planning a Thanksgiving party this year!  I am so excited about it, planning the menu and reading recipes..... What is happening in your part of the world? Drop in and leave a comment.
Hope you all have a sweet weekend ahead.
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Friday, October 25, 2013

Wishes come true, but be careful, what you wish for............

I believe it was in the 9th. grade, when I read the story,'The Monkey's Paw'. I still remember the chill of horror that descended over me when I first read it. Up until that time, I had never considered any 'side-effects' of wishing. 

Like everyone, I wished, in various degrees of desperation, for many things, some trivial, some not so. There came a short lived phase when I fasted and prayed, trying to sometimes please one God and sometimes another. 

Time brought with it, many changes. Studies, work, later, marriage and moving to the USA shortly.
Many people around me remarked how lucky I was. Maybe I was. But there were times, when I confess, this 'lucky' feeling did not mean a lot. Do you get that feeling too?

I missed my parents a lot. I met them 3.5 years ago, when we went to India, for my son's second birthday. I would keep begging them to visit us. They would say yes, something would come up and it would get postponed. I'd beg again, something else would come up, they would alter their plans. This went on and finally I started planning, daydreaming of what I would do when they visited me. I would dream of driving them around, going shopping with them. At times, I lost it, I would have imaginary talks with myself in the car, imagining them with me. I'd come home from a small holiday and when I spoke to my parents, I'd tell them how beautiful such-and-such a place was, how they would have enjoyed being there and maybe we can visit once they were here.
I would envy my friends when their parents visited. I just desperately wanted to see my parents. 
That was all. I just desperately wanted to......

Then on 4th October, I called  my parents, as usual, around 9:00 pm, knowing my father would be waiting to talk, before the news began. His cell phone was switched off. this was highly unusual. His cell phone is always switched on and near him. I called on the home number, sense of unease increasing with every second. My Mother answered the call on the 4th. ring. Her first 'Hello' sounded like she had been thru a wringer. 
With all my senses tingling (yes, yes, tingling sense is not just for spider-man) I tried to find out. All she said was, " oh, it's all okay, Baba is a bit tired today and has taken a tablet to sleep"  Sleep? why so early? I can understand him missing dinner but not the news, what is wrong?
And then in a slightly shaky and almost squeaky voice she said it was all okay. I knew she was not telling me something. I lost it. I knew something was terribly wrong and she was being very evasive. The last time she did this, my Father was in the hospital with a broken arm. I hung up on her abruptly and called my cousin and told her to get it out of her. After that , unable to sit still, I rang my BFF Lisa and asked her to find out too. 
Within 10 minutes, I had the information I wanted. Wanted, no... no!  This is something one NEVER wants to hear. But, I got the truth. My Father was in the hospital. He had suffered from a stroke, one, luckily confined only to his facial muscles and vocal chords. The moment I heard those words, my head started swimming. My cousin had to bellow on the phone to make me conscious of the fact that she was talking. I wanted to see Daddy. He is alive and in the hospital. I want to see him. Nothing else registered. 

Making a call and asking M to come home was the work of an instant. But what about everything else? What about Little S? In times like these, we realize who our real friends are. The minute my friends Sujata, Sonali and Sunanda heard of the news, they pitched in.
Within the hour, my plans were finalized. I was going to India, for 12 days. M and I got down to planning, you see, I had to have my VISA stamping done. Now those among you, who are on a VISA, like me, will know the trouble and anxiety that this topic raises. Paper work, documents to carry, photo copying, panicking. We placed a call to my co-sister and arranged for her to pay my VISA interview fees and then made the appointment, it had to be done the first week I was in Mumbai. By 8:00 pm, my ticket was booked and on Saturday morning, I flew back to India. As the boarding was announced, I called my Mother and told her I was coming. I did not want to say anything before that, she would have tried to convince me to stay back and wait as my father was getting better. I was not having any of that. 

My close friend picked me up at the airport and was very supportive throughout. Thank you. Exhausted and terribly anxious, I met my Mother at the hospital gate, who as she met me looked like a huge mountain-load of tension had rolled off her! As I stepped quietly in the room, I saw him, dozing, pale, his cheekbones standing out, a slight droop to the mouth that always smiled and made jokes and related funny anecdotes, a feeding tube inserted through his nose.  I had made up my mind to be strong and cheerful and oh, so many things!  All that flew out of the window at this sight. All I could manage was a "hello, Daddy" in a tearful voice and just hug him and weep. And he kept patting me, re-assuring me, even in that condition and saying he was going to be 100% okay. 
His vocal chords were affected. He had very little control over those. Little by little, after the first meeting I found out what had happened. My parents had gone to the doctors office, routine visit and when my Mom went to get the case-paper (like signing in), within seconds, my Father had had the stroke. Things happened rapidly, but Somebody up There, loves us! Help was also given with equal rapidity. 
I am so proud of my Father. He could not talk, but he wrote down everything that he was feeling and gave it to the doctors. They said it helped them diagnose and give medicines quickly. In fact, he did way, way better than a regular patient. The clarity of thought and lucidity of language left the doctors amazed. He was in the hospital for a week and getting bored. Oh yes! That's my Daddy. He wanted to go home and when the doctors started the semi-solid food and took that offending and intrusive feeding tube off and would sign his discharge papers, the first thing he told the nurse was to set the IV drip a little faster, he wanted to go home for dinner!  I did a little jig! 

He is home now, recovering a little more, with every passing day. I am back home with my boys. 
The two weeks I spent in India went by like the wind, full of tension and worry over my Father's health and at how M was coping handling Little S on his own, for the first time. 
I got to meet my parents, but not in the way I had imagined. Not the way I wanted to. 

I want to thank my dear, dear friends, from the bottom of my heart, for all their help. Without their support it would have been impossible.
While I was in India, I did not contact anyone, did not intimate anyone, I know you will understand, but I apologize for not communicating at all. My focus was different. 

For all those, who were not near to help- physically, I want to thank you for your concern and prayers, they helped. 

I am a *very* lucky girl. I have a loving family and loving, concerned friends who are with me, always. I cannot wish for more. 
I do not want to.
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Friday, October 04, 2013

Rewarding Sweetness!

EGG LESS OATMEAL COOKIES

A couple of weeks ago, M and I arrived at a decision, after a lot of dilly-dallying and needless to say, argument. We (read: persuaded by yours truly), decided to enroll our 5 year old for Religion and Language classes at the Hindu Temple.
And so begins our Sunday duty of taking the child to the Temple. I am not a very religious person but childhood conditioning has it's hold on me and I do know my shlokas and aartis. I want my son to know some too. But there is another motive to all this too. Reciting Sanskrit shlokas, I believe help in clarity of speech, specially when speaking the Mother tongue (and hence the language classes too) my son understands every word of Marathi I speak but refuses to reply  in the same language. He shrugs his  small shoulders in a comical way and declares it is too difficult. Humph! Okay! learn it in a class then!

What with school and homework on a daily basis along with other activities, he is one busy kid! There is so much happening around him, he is leaning to read and write ( spelling tests every week!), do math and science and social studies... whew! 

Caught up in all these activities, I sometimes forget how much he is learning and soaking up facts.
Just last week, we were driving back home after classes and I, with all the intention of striking the iron while still hot, blah, blah... started talking about what the 'Auntie' had covered in class, about God being everywhere. He looked thoughtful for a couple of seconds and then replied," like germs are everywhere?"
The husband and I burst out laughing. That's sweetness for you! That's innocence for you! 
Well, sweetness does not go unrewarded. And what better than to reward it with something sweet! I made a batch of egg less Oatmeal cookies that are oh-so-delicious! 


With the start of a new school year, I also made a few new friends. At the school bus stop. Waiting for the school bus ( which is always late, sigh!) has only one positive outcome, we get to know each other just a bit more.
On one such day, my friend, Samata, came armed with these fantastic Oatmeal cookies and oh my God! I wanted the recipe and she, the sweet girl, shared it.

 
These cookies are egg less, they have flax meal and they have oats. These are good! They also helped me to get over my fear of egg less baking. 
The cookies are crunchy and sweet (of course) and a slight tang from the cranberries make them a wonderful treat.  And to top it all, they are easy to make.

You need:

1.5 sticks Butter 
1 cup Brown Sugar
1 tsp Flaxseed powder/ Flaxmeal, blended with 1/4 cup of water 
1 tsp Vanilla 
3/4 cup Flour
1/2 tsp Baking powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Cinnamon 
3 cups Oats 
1 cup Cranberries
Preheat the oven at 350 F.

Cream butter and sugar together. 

Blend flax seed with water until foamy.

Add this  and vanilla  to butter.

Sift flour salt baking powder and cinnamon. 

Add dry and wet ingredients. Mix well.

Now add oats and cranberries

Line a tray / cookie sheet with parchment paper

Drop 1 tbsp of the dough, 2 inch apart. Flatten by hand.

Baked for 12-15 mins edges are brown n center is little wet.

Cool on wire rack and store in an airtight container

Enjoy ! 

Have a great weekend folks! 

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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Dudhi Muthiya

Tea time snacks are a big hit with me. I like having a little something to munch on with my cuppa. For as long as I remember, I have always dipped something in my tea.
Raise your hands of, as a  teenager or an adult you have downed an entire packet of Parle-G biscuits with your tea! I know I have.
For those who grew up in India ( and are in their late 20's 0r 30's) , they will identify with what I have to say.
As soon as 4 O'clock sets in ( and you do not have to look at the clock) most tea addicts will have what we call 'talab'( if I am not mistaken). As if on auto pilot, the lady or in some cases the man of the house will start making tea. While the tea brews,  the 'khau che dabbe' are pulled out and an assortment of biscuits ( or cookie as you might want to call them, I'll stick with biscuits), khari (made with  puff pastry ) or jeera butter (not butter- as in the spreadable one, this is different).
Dipping a biscuit or khari in tea and eating it was routine. 

My Mother and her siblings are all tea addicts! For them, it's tea-time, anytime! 'Chaha chalel' ( I don't mind a cup of tea) was a given when we visited each other. My Uncle would visit us late evenings, sometimes. He would come from Thane to Wadala on his motorbike and when he sat down and heaved a sigh, he would say, " Akki, chaha taak na!" (Akki/ Akka= elder sister, please make me a cuppa). After the refreshing cup of tea, he would take me for a big round on his bike much to my delight! 
My Aunts were no different! Nor am I.  
Often when I am at a friends home and she asks if I want tea, I rarely refuse and of course, if they are at mine, I will make ginger-tea.

Over the years, hot buttered toast, Marie biscuits and Parle G and many a times chivda have played kho-kho with each other. And now, we have a new contender. Muthiya! 



I had heard of Muthiya and seen packets in the frozen aisle, however, I never felt like picking one up, just to try.

Then one day, Sonali shared some with me and I loved it! I finished what she gave me and shamelessly asked for seconds.
Of course I asked for the recipe. And having tasted fresh Muthiya, I was not going for the frozen version. I wanted to make it at home.

I made these a couple of times, but they did not taste as good, something was not clicking. It did not taste as good as the one I had tasted at Sonali's. I was disappointed, thankfully I was not ready to give up.

I made very few changes and finally arrived at what worked for me. The result! Tasty Muthiya, as you can see.





You need: 

One Medium sized Bottle Gourd / Lauki/ Dudhi- peeled and grated (discard the spongy interior and seeds)
1 Cup Whole Wheat flour / Atta
1/2 Cup Besan /Chickpea Flour
1/4 Cup Rava/ Semolina ( coarse)
2-3 Green Chilies ( about 1 tsp) or less, if you prefer low heat
1 inch piece Ginger 
2 Tbs Sugar
3-4 Tbsp, Plain thick Yogurt ( start with 2-3 Tbs and go on adding the remaining as required)
Salt to taste
3-4 Tbs Oil
1 Tbs Baking Soda
2-3 Tbs Lemon Juice
1 tsp Turmeric / Haldi
1 tsp Red chili powder ( optional)

TEMPERING:
2 Tbs Oil
2 tsp Mustard seeds
Few Curry leaves - optional
2 tbs Sesame seeds ( I usually eyeball this ingredient. We like the crunch and so I am liberal in it's use)
Minced Cilantro to garnish.

Pulse the ginger and green chilies in the mixie and make a paste. Alternatively, use a mortar-pestle and pound it to a smooth paste. 

Slice off the top and bottom of the gourd. Peel the outer skin off. Grate the gourd/ lauki. Do Not  grate the spongy inside and the seeds. Set aside.

Mix the flours and semolina. Add the ginger-chilies paste and all the remaining ingredients (oil, sugar, yogurt, turmeric, lemon juice and red chili powder- if using) except the ENO fruit salt.
Squeeze the grated lauki /bottle gourd and add it to the above mix.

At this stage, set the steamer on the stove. Prep the steaming plate, grease with oil / cooking spray.  As the water comes to a boil,  add the baking soda to the mix above and bind in to a smooth dough. This will be sticky, scrape the dough off your hands, oil them if required and  knead it gently.

Make 4 equal sized portions and with oiled palms, make 'logs' of the dough and set them gently in the steamer. 
Cover and let them steam and cook for about 20-25 mins or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Cool the logs and cut into rounds. I prefer making small bite size pieces (quartering every round). 

Heat 2 Tbs oil in a non-stick pan. Once the oil is hot ( not smoking) add the mustard seeds. As the seeds pop, add the sesame seeds and curry leaves. 

Add the Muthiya pieces and mix gently, coating the pieces with the seeds.

Let the Muthiya pieces sit in the pan for a minute or so until they have a golden brown color and a slight crunch on the outside.

Take off the heat and garnish with minced Cilantro and serve with a hot cup of tea.




Notes:

- Muthiyas make an excellent snack on the go. They are filling and also a healthier option than chips! 

- Adjust the heat as per your liking.

- These can be frozen and eaten at a later date.

- They  have great shelf life and make a good 'picnic/ traveling' food option
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Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Aloo Paratha with a hint of Fennel

"Aaarrgh! I'm not well. My stomach hurts, something terrible " I groaned. 
"Come out in 2 mins., it will stop hurting", my Father would say.
knock...knock...knock.... my Mother would rap on the bathroom door
I refused to open the door and kept groaning, loudly.
" It's 7:45, come on, hurry up!"
"Noooooo...aaaaa, ouch!"
This drama would continue for another 5-8 minutes, until it was 'safe'. 
Around 8:00 I'd step out and weakly totter to the bed and curl up with a comic book, fully aware that it was too late to be sent to school.

I went to a school which started at 11:00 a.m, except on Saturdays, when we had to reach school at 8:00 a.m.

I liked the part where I could wake up at 7:30 am, do a bit of left over homework, get ready and walk to school with my group of friends. 
Come Saturday, I would transform from a happy-go-lucky child to a whiner, clinging on to my sheets like my life depended on it and bleary eyed, droopy faced, petulant child. One whom, I am sure, the parents wanted to pick up and dunk in a pool of ice cold water or at least slap on the head with a sock full of wet sand.
I would whine, crawl and creep  in to the bathroom and refuse to come out. I would, every Saturday, complain of a severe stomach upset which would cripple me and refuse to budge until I was allowed to stay home. My parents had no choice, we lived in apartment (office quarters) and had just one bathroom.
Of course, I was not allowed to stay home every Saturday, but believe me, I got away with quite a few! But I always wonder how they put up with all that, especially when I compare it to how angelic my son is. 
With a proper school routine, things have sort of fallen into place. We wake up early, Little S wakes up without a fuss, which I must admit is very surprising for me. 

With this routine, lunch boxes also come into play and I have to make something that he likes. This does not mean he will eat it all, un-unn! A week down the line, he comes home with a half-eaten lunch box and saying that he does not have time enough to finish it.
2 breaks, lunch and snack and my boy does not get time to finish the small portions. Well! He'd have time if he ate more and talked less!

Last week, I made these Aloo Parathas, with a small twist. The thing about Aloo Parathas is, there are SO many versions! I make this version often and it has always been well received. This new variation is also approved by M, Little S and my friends too.
Why is this version different? It has a hint of fennel seed. That is what makes it different! 



2 large Russet Potatoes ( boil, peel and mash / grate)
2-3 Green Chilies
1 tsp Fennel seeds / Badishep
Ginger, a small knob (grated, 1 tsp or a little more)
Salt to taste
1- 1.25 tsp Cumin Powder
1-1.25 tsp Coriander Powder
1 tsp Garam Masala
1-2 tsp Lemon juice ( I used the ready to use and used about 2 big squirts- please adjust sourness to taste)
Salt, to taste
2 hefty pinches Kasuri Methi
2 Tbsp Cilantro, finely chopped
Butter /Ghee
Dough for cover

For the Dough:
2  cups Whole Wheat flour ( Atta)
dash of salt
1- 1.5 tsp Bishop's weed /Ajwain
Water


Make the dough. If using a food processor, add the dough, salt, ajwain to the bowl and set it on the 'dough' setting. Slowly add water thru the feed tube and make a soft and pliable dough.

If you are making a dough without a food processor, place the dough, salt and ajwain in a mixing bowl and make a well in the center, slowly add water and knead into a soft and supple dough ball.

Cover and set aside.

Make the stuffing.
Grind the green chilies, ginger root and fennel seeds with a pinch of salt to make a paste.
Add the paste to the mashed potatoes along with the rest of the spices mentioned above (up to cilantro) and mix well.
Taste and check for flavor and salt. Add  salt or spice if required.

Set the griddle on Medium- High and  prepare to make parathas.
there are two ways you can make these Parathas.

Method 1. Take a lemon sized ball of dough and roll it out into a 4 inch  flat-bread, add a heaping of the potato mixture ( roughly the same size as that of the dough).
Pull up the sides of the dough and close them around the potato mixture. Remove any excess dough on top and flatten it, like a patty. Dust with flour and roll out a flat bread about 6 inch in diameter.
Transfer this paratha to the hot griddle and shallow fry in ghee/ butter or oil until golden brown spots appear on both sides.
Do not skip the ghee/ butter or oil.

Method 2. - simpler, IHO.
Take 2 key lime sized balls of dough. dust with flour and roll out circles ( 4 inch diameter).
Dust with  bit of flour and take one circle, place potato mixture on it and spread it out, ever so gently,now place the second rolled out circle on top.
Seal the edges, firmly with your fingers and sprinkle some flour on top and roll the paratha, gently.This will ensure that the potato mixture spreads out evenly

Transfer to a hot griddle and shallow fry in ghee/ butter or oil.

Serve hot with pickles/ yogurt.

*NOTES:

- I prefer the second method, though slightly labor intensive. This ensures that the outer cover is thin and the filling spreads evenly (this sometimes is a problem with method 1, I am left with just dough in the middle and the mixture spreads to the outer ends.)

- Method 2 is also useful when the potato mixture is very soft - this is seen when a particular variety is very soft and pasty ( ex. red potatoes)

- This is a very forgiving recipe, you need not measure the spices , you can eyeball- as long as it is a reasonable amount, and still get delicious results.

- Sneaky Mom tip: I add a pat of butter in the potato filling and then cover it up and roll it in t a paratha for my son. This keeps the paratha super soft - specially in lunch boxes, and adds to the taste.
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Monday, August 26, 2013

Stuffed Buns

And so it begins! The first day of school and my little one starts Kindergarten. In my last post I mentioned how eager I was for school to start. 
But just last night, I was not so sure. I wanted to cling on to him a bit longer.

M and I made the last day of vacation special for Little S. We wanted it to last just a bit longer. 
We all went to the pool last evening and the son taught the father how to swim! 
That said, Little S is brave enough to swim with his vest on. But, he did give his Daddy 'precise' instructions ( and yes, they were correct). So when Little S splashed away from us, we both collapsed and at one time went under, laughing. 
Little Boys, ROCK! 

From today, we start lunch-boxes too. I have been reading on many blogs that kids prefer non-messy food as well as 'good looking' food. So as I understand, it translates to some Indian and some non-Indian food.
Thankfully, in S's school, there are many Indians and hopefully, no one saying, "eeewww, what's that yucky thing" ( yes, I have read that too, on some blogs and was saddened that the author's child had to face it.) how vastly different when I was a school going child, almost everyone would bring poli-bhaji ( roti / flat bread and vegetables) and  any snack made at home and it was always shared with a big group. Nobody turned up their noses or said "eeeww or yuck".

But all things considered, I want to make it easy on the child too. I want to pack lunches that are easy for him to pick and eat and more importantly, nothing that will leave a stain on his clothes.

This is also an opportunity for me to introduce ( or in my case, re-introduce) foods that he has said 'no' to, rather firmly. 
Would it be bad parenting if I send these re-introduced foods in his lunch box, hoping that if he is hungry enough, he will eat?




I found these Masala Buns over at Raks Kitchen and immediately wanted to try them.

I made these buns with a different stuffing, which is one of my favorites. But it is a very versatile recipe and you can use the stuffing you want.

For example, the sprouted mung filling for a healthier twist or the famous batata-wada bhaji will taste fantastic.
For a non-Indian twist, a cheese flavored with some pizza sauce -filling which I am sure, children will love. And here is an idea, pat some Nutella in and bake. Who doesn't like Nutella?! I only hope that the Nutella does not leak and come out. Any tips on this? Please do share your inputs in the comments.

There are endless combinations, it is up to you. 


I am hoping I will be able to share some recipes that I make for my son's lunch box and I would love to hear from you as well. What do you make for your child's lunch box or snack time in school? Please share your ideas.

Here's to another year in school and wishing all itty-bitties Good Luck!  Study hard, play hard and shine on! 
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