As 2016 draws to a close, I look back at it and wonder, was there a year that had so many ups and downs?
The high was my trip to India, spending time with family and catching up with my besties from college. That one day brought back a surge of those wonderful 5 years and we just went back to being Seenagers (Senior Teenagers). These girls made the 5 years of college the best ones of my life! We shared so much, laughter, tears, food, secrets. Just thinking of them makes me smile.
The lows were, I lost my uncle and aunt, within a week of one another. Many of my closest friends also lost their loved ones and it was just one blow after another.
I'm glad this year is almost over.
Here's wishing everyone a very happy new year. May 2017 be a really, really good year for all of us.
The conclusion on 2016 brought about one more change for us, as a family. We have moved and will spend the next few days settling in.
As controversial as this may sound, I'm happy to be out of Florida. It is beautiful, no doubt. But, yes, there is always a but!, it had way too many reptiles for my liking. They just made my life plain miserable.
I am not one of those intrepid women who walk fearlessly when they see half a dozen lizards right in front of them, who just make a 'shoo' sound and pad on, watching in delight as the creepy, dirty little buggers scurry hither and tither.
So, I'm happy, where I am.
I will miss my friends though. That is the sad part about moving. This time I had a mixed up group of friends from all over India. Among them was my friend S, who is from Odisha (formerly Orissa).
My introduction to Odiya cuisine was at a potluck, in Los Angeles, a long time ago. my friend B had made this fantastic red tomato and dates chutney. I was bowled over. And now, S taught me this Amba Khatta which is equally delightful.
This khatta (or curry, if I dare call it that) is a fantastic blend of sweet and spicy with the wonderful mingling flavors of the panch phoron (5 spices) which when mixed with fluffy, piping white rice will have you wanting second and third helpings.
Begin with making the Masala Paste:
1 tsp Mustard Seeds
1/3 tsp Jeera (Cumin seeds)
3 fat cloves Garlic
Ginger, half the size of garlic.
Soak all the ingredients for about 10-15 minutes and then grind them to a fine paste.
Start with one large mango (sweet but firm to the touch, I buy mine at Aldi). Wash it well and cut into large chunks.
Add water to a saucepan, tip in the mango chunks and bring it to a boil.
Cook the mango pieces till tender.
Once cooked, strain and set aside.
In a deep sauce pan heat 2 tbsp Oil and add 1 tsp of *Panch Phoron .
Once the panch phoron seeds pop and sputter, add in the masala paste made earlier. Saute this paste on medium- low for about 5-7 minutes.
To the masala paste, add salt to taste, 1/2 tsp turmeric and 1 tsp Kashmiri red chilies powder (or a blend of Kashmiri and cayenne). Do not make it spicy, it will just spoil the overall taste.
Add the mango pieces and add 2 tsp. Sugar.
Cook until the spices and mango flavors come together, about 5-7 mins. Not exceeding 10 mins.
Serve with white rice.
I have this Panch Phoron blend I use. It is from a cook book borrowed long ago from a library and I haven't a clue which one. My apologies that I cannot link it. But I am not taking credit for what I have been only following for some years now!
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp Cumin seeds
1 Tbsp Fennel seeds
2 tsp Nigella Seeds
2 tsp Brown Mustard Seeds ( I use black as it is the only one I usually buy)
1/2 tsp Fenugreek seeds
Mix the seeds and store, use as needed.
To all my friends and readers, A Very Happy New Year!
See you in 2017. Till then, stay safe and stay happy!