So here I am, back after a very long time and with a very humble recipe, which to me is pure comfort.
Day in and day out, our routine is what keeps us going, something like hamsters. When I look back, I keep thinking, 'all' that time just gone!
Now that vacations have started and Li'll S (who just turned 7!) is home, I plan my day around him ( isn't that the case everyday?)
The last few weeks involved an apartment move (yet again) and I was up to my neck in boxes and cartons. That too has passed and here we are, settled in our new apartment and I'm happy that the kitchen, like most apartments, is not an afterthought! I have space to move about!
Lets go back to the comfort food zone. We all gravitate towards soul-satisfying food when we are tired, cranky, grumpy or just want to feel good.
I remember this one time I had a horrid cold. This was after I had braved one of Mumbai's rain storms, you know how the story goes. Lashing rain, roads flooded and public transport comes to a grinding halt and people wade in the dirty water to reach home.
I did just that.
And I caught a cold.
The next day, as I sat sniffling, with a big box of tissues, dabbing my nose and watching some Bollywood Masala Movie, the maid who was swabbing the floor stopped, watched the movie for a few minutes and then turning to me said, " Tai, tula kadhi pyayla pahije. Sardi sathi changli. Majhi Aaji mala nehemi dete.." (You should drink kadhi, it's good for colds. My Grandma always made this for me.) My mother made me kadhi, hot soul warming, tasty and satisfying. I have always loved kadhi and to me it is comfort food.
M likes 'varan bhaat', and he can eat it everyday. I like it too, but just not as much. And he does not like kadhi. And I love it. You see where this is going?
So I have a solution, one that works for all 3 of us.
I make this 'Takatli Palkachi Bhaji'. This goes well with steaming white rice as well as fulkas. It's a perfect alternative for me since it doubles up as kadhi as well as bhaji.
Like most comfort food recipes, I am so used to making it, I do not use any measurements, I eyeball everything and it is a forgiving recipe.
You Need: ( these are approximates)
4 Cups of Chopped Spinach
3 Cups Plain Yogurt
2-3 heaped Tbsp. Besan
3-4 cloves of Garlic
2 Tbsp Oil
1 Green chili
1 tsp Mustard seeds
3-4 dry Red Chilies
Salt to taste
1 Tsp Sugar
To start off, I clean and chop fresh Spinach ( I buy the big box at Sam's club and pull out spinach by the fistfuls, using about 4 fistful bunches at a time) approx. 4 cups.
Blend about 3 Tbsp. of Besan in 3 cups of Yogurt with enough water and set aside.
Heat about a Tbsp. of oil in a saucepan and once it is hot, add the green chili and then Spinach, mix well, cover and cook it till wilts.
Once the Spinach is cooked, lower the heat and add in the yogurt + besan mix. Add another cup of water and stir well.
Turn up the heat and let the mixture come to a boil as you stir. Add the salt and sugar.
Once the kadhi has boiled, lower the heat and let it cook and bubble for about 10 mins.
The tempering (tadka) is added on top. Before you start the tadka, peel and smash the garlic, I prefer this to systematic chopping, but you can chop it finely if you prefer. In a small tadka pan, heat oil. Add the mustard seeds and as they start popping, add the asafetida and carefully add the garlic. As the garlic turns a nice golden brown add the halved red chilies. I sometimes add curry leaves, but it is optional.
As the chilies turn bright red, switch off the heat and tip the tempering into the kadhi. It will sizzle, be careful.
Mix well and turn off the heat under the kadhi. Cover and leave it aside to let the flavors mingle, about 10 mins.
Serve hot ladling it over steaming white rice or with fulkas.
The kadhi thickens as it cools. So adjust the amount of water according to your preference.
If the yogurt is sour you might want to add a tsp. sugar to balance it out.
You can use Amaranth ( maath) leaves instead of spinach.
For a variation and when in season, add some fresh Fenugreek leaves.