Thursday, July 02, 2020

Pumpkin Roghan Josh

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Sunday, April 05, 2020

Instant gratification with a No- Yeast Pizza and a 3-2-1 Mug cake

And so I find myself at the computer, for the first time this year, opening blogger and posting on this much loved, but very neglected space. 
I started a new job last year and things got hectic. I applied and got a job as an Sp.Ed. paraprofessional in my son's school. While I have enjoyed training in India, this was an entirely new ball game. 
I've enjoyed every minute of my time teaching and working hand in hand with my colleagues and learnt SO much, much more than the subjects I taught! 

I also learned that I can wake up early, cook, pack 3 lunchboxes, get ready and out of the door to reach school in time, come back home, change and freshen up and head straight to the kitchen and get started on dinner and wind up for the night after looking up and prepping for the next day's lessons.

In short, I am doing what my mother did for us when I was a school going child, though she was not a teacher, but the routine was similar. 

Then, 3 weeks ago, things changed. We all saw the change coming. It was just a matter of when, not if. School announced dismissal on Friday the 13th., I know! how ominous is that?!

I handed out books frantically, got kids to the carpool curb and bundled them in their cars with a hasty, "stay safe now" warning. `
I made one last grocery run, picked up what I could find, not that there was much to get. The stores were all out  of TP or cleaners, out of beans and so many other things. People had gone into a buying frenzy.
Living in an apartment means one cannot stock up on a lot of things, and so, I find myself stepping out once in 2 weeks for what is absolutely necessary and always available for my neighbors who are seniors , if they need anything. I am not hoarding.

I am thankful that I get to work from home and stay safe. I have friends who have to report to work because they are pharmacists or nurses and I cannot help but feel anxious. 
I never thought I'd see mankind on it's knees because of an enemy they cannot even see. 

Being confined as we are, we try to make the best of it. The day passes in home school. Our school has been amazing on this front. on the 18th. of March, the homeroom teachers had their google classrooms set up and running. Students were logging in and completing their assignments, just like they would in school. If it weren't for all the teacher videos to watch  and homework to complete, I cannot imagine how utterly boring it would've been. After all, there's only so much TV one can watch or coloring to do... 

Being at home also means meals to plan, yes plan- something new for me, based on the ingredients at hand and rationing them properly.  
It also means I need to keep it interesting, the same old does not cut it anymore. 
So I attempted 2 new , well, not exactly new, recipes.

The first was a No-yeast Pizza. This was a new for me, no yeast. 
Lately, I have stopped eating pizza outside, I prefer making it at home, with the cheese I buy (that contains vegetarian friendly rennet). 
And so, this recipe had an instant appeal. I did not have to wait for the dough to rise. It was an almost instant recipe. You see the appeal? It can come in handy and also helpful for people who do not have yeast at home or are not into baking or are simply intimidated by baking. But at this time, when going out is an issue ( lock down in case of India and stay at home, in our case), this recipe is very handy. I love the fact that it comes together so easily and is easy to make. I'm definitely keeping this and making it often, even on busy weeknights ( when the world goes back to normal).

I doubled the recipe and that gave us 3, thin- crust 9 inch pizzas

I used 

2/3 Cups All purpose Flour to which I added 2 tsp Baking powder and 1 tsp salt. 
To the dry ingredients, I added 3 glugs of Olive oil and about 1 cup milk ( I use whole milk only) and kneaded the dough in my stand mixer  till it was nice and smooth. If kneading by hand, knead for 10mins.
Cover and keep aside for 15-20 mins.

While the dough rests, crank up the oven (the original recipe calls for 400F, I cranked mine up all the way) . I used my cast iron pizza pan and so preheated it for a long time.

Get the toppings ready. 

When ready to make pizza, make balls of the dough, I made 3, you can make 2 or 4. Your choice. 

Roll out the dough ball to a thin, even flat bread. Prick all over with a fork.

I pre-baked the base for few minutes and then did the final assembly. There was a slight oversight on my part and the base pre-baked a little more than it should have. Look at the pic below, not what you want.

 It is totally fine, absolutely edible, if that's on your mind. but what you want is  a light color on the base. Check the picture below. The top is barely done, but is dry and has a light color. So you want to pre-bake it just for a couple of minutes.

Once the base is pre-baked ( and I don't think this is necessary, but I prefer doing this so there isn't a soggy, doughy bite ), add sauce on top with your favorite toppings,I used onion and colored bell peppers and some jalapeno as that was what I had on hand. Add cheese and bake till the cheese is all melted on top and the base has started browning. It took me barely 5 minutes on my cast iron pan. 

Our meal ended with a quick dessert. 
Sometimes you have these crazy cravings for something sweet (in my case all the time, but we ill let that pass) and want something instant. 
Mug cakes are an amazing way to eat a small portion and quickly! 
But if you want this to be hassle free too, I have just the thing for you! 

See, I love mug cakes for the portion and ease of making, but it still involves pulling out flour, sugar, baking powder/ soda, oil, essence, water or milk... see where I'm going with this?

I found this on a Facebook group among some comments and stored up the idea. 
The last time I went to the store, a week ago, I picked up 

1 box mix Angel food cake
1 Box mix of any other cake you like or have at home.

Open and mix the contents of both the boxes together and store in any container.
When you want to make the mug cake, lightly spry or grease the mug.
Add 3 Tbsp of the cake mix
Add 2 tbsp Milk
Mix well 
Microwave for 1 minute
3-2-1! Done! 
Let the cake cool down slightly and enjoy.
My son likes inverting it onto a plate and eating it. He ate the first one plain.
The second one he smeared Nutella on top and declared it was just what was needed. 

 That's it folks! Stay safe, Stay indoors, Save lives! One day we will look back on this and say, we survived this.

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Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Cantaloupe Jelly

Sometimes I wonder when and how this idea took root in our culture...
Whenever any of our friends or neighbors shared any food with us, my mother would always send me back with their container and she would always send something in it. It was never returned empty. It could be anything small, like fruit, or, chocolates or cookies or even something special she had made. If there wasn't anything special she would add sugar to the container and ask me to return it.

As a child I would also eagerly wait for our containers to be returned. It was fun for me to open and see what was in it. This also gave us some exposure to different sub- cultures and their cooking style and cuisine. This was the time when we did not have computers and internet. Why, we didn’t have a color TV, back then! Without knowing what, we tasted so many different things ( as a child, the name wasn’t as important, just how it looked and tasted).

Even today, I always make sure I never return a container empty, as do most of my friends.

Coming back to this blogpost...
This draft has been languishing, unpublished for a while now, making me feel guilty of neglecting this space that I love so much!

So, here's how I made this jelly a few months ago. All, as a result of  a sweet smelling but, a totally tasteless cantaloupe.
As I was wandering down the fruit aisle in the store, I had this urge to buy a cantaloupe. I like this melon, but the boys don't, so it isn't often that I buy it. But that particular day, I wanted to.So I carefully chose the melon I wanted. It was nice and round with 'webbing' and it had the yellow patch on one side, it also gave a tiny bit when pressed- indicating it was ripe. In short, it was everything a nice, sweet cantaloupe ought to be.
Imagine the disappointment when I cut it, that it was tasteless. Well, it had the tiniest hint of sweetness, but so insignificant that, though fragrant, I could not eat any.
The only alternatives in front of me were consume, in another form or trash.
As always, food wastage is a big no-no, unless it is rancid or very stale..

I poked around a bit and and mishmashed a few recipes to suit my taste.
I decided to use my Electric Pressure Cooker (which has the same functions as the IP) and used the Slow Cook function. That way, I could set it and go out.

3 cups Cantaloupe pieces
1 1/2 cup sugar
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
1/2 tsp Salt
1-2 tbsp Vanilla Essence ( I eyeballed this as I had little left in my bottle)

Add all the listed ingredients to the steel inner pot of the IP and mix well.
Start and set the IP on slow cook mode for 3 hours.
Close the lid and set to seal.
Open lid and stir a couple of times.
At about 2:30 hours, use an immersion blender blend the contents, be careful not to splash yourself,
After the timer beeped, I hit the Cancel button and then set the IP on Manual for about 10 mins. This helped the jelly thicken up.

Cool and store in a clean sterilized jar.
I've read that melon jellies should not be canned for risk of botulism. 
They also need to be consumed quickly. This jelly freezes well.
I needn't have worried. The jelly was very tasty and we loved it over buttered toast. I gave one bottle to my friend and her little daughter loved it too (and that, is how this post was approved!).


Since I had a small quantity of fruit, I did not buy or use pectin, instead I relied on the natural pectin in the fruit.
This isn't a 'firm' jelly.
The sweetness level is mild (compared to store brought jams and jellies) which suited us perfectly.

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Thursday, June 20, 2019

French bread dough- 2 ways

Wait a minute! It's mid-June... My last post was so long ago. I have neglected this space. I cook a lot, take random pictures on my iPhone and then forget all about it. Well not exactly, I do post on my Facebook Page. But that's as far as it went over the past few months. 

This year brought us some nice surprises. 
The best highlight was the Utah State Taekwondo Championship. 
Like every year, S was participating.  But this year, he wasn't keen on it (he was willing enough when I enrolled him for the tournament). Nevertheless, he trained hard for it in the 2 weeks time that we had. This time, he was competing as a Black Belt, the stakes were high and he was super intimidated. He kept making small errors, ones that would cost him precious points. He would groan and get frustrated. And just 2 weeks before the tournament, he had a birthday invitation from his friend and that tilted the scales! He cried and sulked and was also willing to not go to the tournament for the party. 
It was traumatic for us, the parents! But we managed to convince him, we told him, as soon as the tournament was over, we zoom him to the party and M, a very careful driver, promised him to drive fast (this from a person who always drives 5/ 10 below the posted speed limit is saying a lot). Now all we needed was luck to favor us and that we wouldn't have to wait for a long time. At such events, there are delays and the categories are set and the athletes just have to wait their turn. Patience is key.  We've  been to tournaments where S would do one event in the morning and had to wait for 4+ hours for the next event call. 
But as luck would have it, S's events (Poomsae and Board breaking) were announced early! That gave him hope (and we heaved a huge sigh of relief).
Well, if ever hard work and tears have paid off, it was on that day! S won Gold in both the events! 
He was thrilled! So were we. For 2 years now, the gold medals had evaded him, but this year, he did it! I am just so proud of my baby! 
And yes, we made it in time for the party! 

The day was tiring for all of us and the exhaustion of the training and the driving like crazy to reach the event, the win and then zooming to drop him off at the party, whiling away time till we picked up S again was just too much and all I wanted was to sleep. Laundry and other things can wait, but not hunger. But I wasn't in any mood to make anything, much. And I was craving pizza, but not store brought. I wanted the brand of cheese I wanted, so it made sense to make it at home. 
But I did not want to make the dough. 
See where I'm going with all these random, chaotic thoughts?
I just decided to buy the dough and accordingly popped in the store.  The lady at the counter however told me that they did not have pizza dough and then convinced me that most people took home French bread dough and used that. I was convinced (I still did not want to make the dough from scratch and so I was willing to risk anything now). So, armed with the dough 'baguette' I came home and decided to try this.

To begin, do the prep. 
Chop the veggies you want.
Pull out the pizza sauce.
Grate the cheese (if you have a block)
Then, pre-heat the oven at the highest setting.
While the oven is heating, take a piece of the dough. The size depends on how well you can roll the dough. You can go from personal pan to X-large. 
Make a ball of the dough.
Dust the (clean) counter top with cornmeal and place the dough ball in it.
I used my rolling pin to roll out the dough. 
Prick the dough with a fork.

Apply sauce on the rolled pizza dough and add  grated cheese and toppings of your choice.
Carefully transfer the pizza in to the oven and bake.
Depending on your oven, it should take between 8-12 mins for the pizza to bake. So keep an eye out.
Once the base looks nice and brown and the cheese has melted, pull it out.

Slice it and eat it! 

The French Bread dough did not disappoint. The base was excellent and we enjoyed our meal.
I kept the unused dough in the fridge, unsure what to use it for, I mean, we did not want pizza again, it was not enough to make a loaf. Anyway, I'll see what to do... attitude helps in such cases.
A good nights sleep gives good ideas. 
The next day I made some kofta curry and decided to make naan from the left over dough in the fridge.
Once the dough was at room temperature, make even sized balls of the dough.
This depends on how much dough you have left over and how comfortable you are rolling it into the typical teardrop or round shape.

Before you begin to roll the naan, heat a tava on medium-high flame. Do NOT use non-stick tava or pan. I used my anodized tava similar to this, cast iron is also good. 
Set a small cup of water on the side.
Get ready to roll the naan.
Dredge the dough ball in some flour and using a rolling pin, slowly roll out the dough applying gentle pressure, evenly.
Once the desired shape is achieved ( don't roll the dough very thin), Apply water to one side of the dough and then pick it up and place it on the hot tava, water side down.
This will help the naan to stick to the tava.
After about a minute, the underside should be done. 

At this point, increase the heat and pick up the tava (the naan still sticking to it) and flip it,  hold the uncooked side a little away from the heat. The heat should cook the second side and make it puff up in spots, just like a tandoor cooked naan. Move the tava in a circular motion as needed to ensure that the entire surface gets cooked. 

With a spatula, take the naan off the tava and apply butter/ ghee generously on the top. 

If you like, you can add sesame seeds/ cilantro to the naan. Just sprinkle the seeds / chopped cilantro on the rolling surface and then roll the naan. When you place the naan on the hot tava, the seeded/ cilantro side will be face up.

To be on the safe side, keep a 'fulka grill' (pictured below) ready as well. 
Sometimes the naan will not stick well to the hot tava and will come off, when you see it isn't going to stay glued, place the uncooked side down on the grill and let it brown. 
Once done, apply butter.

Serve warm with a vegetable entree of your choice.

That's it from my side. I hope this time I won't slack off. I have enough drafts to work on!

Here's wishing you all a wonderful summer ! 
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Monday, December 24, 2018

A test of strength and endurance and the Quickest Tomato Soup (inspired by OPOS ) for comfort.

October 2017 was an important month, for us. My son earned his Recommended Black Belt in his Tae Kwon Do training. 

We were that one, very crucial year away from the coveted First Dan Black Belt. We were given a folder with the curriculum and what was required to test. 
It was a lot, I thought. How will my baby do all that?  I watched him during his classes. I saw him do well in his forms and weapons classes. I saw him falter and get nervous during his sparring lessons.

As the weeks went by, his skills got better and I sighed with relief. But, we went to India for the summer and while that was a fantastic trip, it robbed us of 2 months of lessons, It was a lot to cover up. How was my 10 year old going to do this? That was the mom in me. Over protective and anxious. 

As the time for the test came closer, he trained harder than ever. 
And finally, it was time. 
The testing was a 2 day affair. Day 1 where his physical strength and endurance were tested. 
As I sat chewing my nails and worrying, he kept doing all that was demanded. He panted and held his sides after every test, his face and hair slick with sweat. Some of the other aspirants lay down with the exertion, only to stand up in a minute for the next test. Every muscle in his body was sore and screaming for rest. 3 hours and 1 water break later, we trudged  home, exhausted.
At the end of the day, we were happy, exhausted and above all, in need of comforting food. Since we had gone over the estimated time, All I could do was whip up this amazingly quick Tomato Soup and grill some cheese sandwiches on the side. I OPOSed the soup  (recipe below) and it was ready before my sandwiches! 

To continue... Day 2 was an all day test, which ideally would've begun with a 5k run, but weather did not permit it, so that was postponed. The written test, poomsae, weapons, sparring, self-defense and board breaking were the order of the day. 
As a parent, no matter of how much you support your child and push him / her to excel, when you see your child getting kicked and punched in sparring or surrounded by 4 other black belts who kick, punch, pull, push, pile on to him and he defends himself, you want to just get on the mat and wallop the daylights out of them and save your baby! It was the hardest 30 minutes of my life. I wanted to jump in that fray and save my baby, in hind sight, I do realize that any of those black belts would have kicked my a$$. These kids are strong. 
I remember when S was practicing for a tournament (his kicks for the board breaking event) and I held a target for him to kick. He almost broke my wrist with the first kick!  I love my boy, I love how well he can kick, but I refuse, point blank, to hold anything he wants to kick. I refuse to be reduced to a mewling adult writhing on the ground in agony. 

It's been 3 weeks since the test and we finally have the results. 
Li'll S has earned his First Dan Black Belt! 
I am SO very proud of him! 

To come back to the recipe... 

As always, I must first add, if you are interested in learning about this One Pot One Shot method  by Chef Rama Krishnan , begin at the very beginning. 
Do this ( follow the link to learn all about how to standardize your pressure cooker)
Follow the lessons one by one and then, once confident, try other recipes. 

This is the quickest soup you will ever make from scratch. 

You need :
2 Ltr. Pressure Cooker ( make sure that you have standardized it)
5 Tbsp Water
1 small onion chopped
3-4 Tsp Butter
1 clove of Garlic
4-5 Roma Tomatoes ( about 250 gms.)

Slice the tops off the tomatoes and de-seed.
Chop the onion. 
Peel the clove of garlic. 

In the Pressure cooker, Layer as follows:

Add the water at the base.

Top with Butter

Add the Garlic clove

Add the onions 

Layer tomatoes on top.
I had these tiny tomatoes, so I just lobbed them in.

Seal the pressure cooker with the weight / whistle and cook on high for 5 minutes. 

Switch off the heat and release pressure, carefully. Use a spatula to lift the weight slightly to let the steam escape.

At this stage, if you want, carefully lift and discard the tomato skin ( I always do).

Add salt and pepper powder to taste. Add a spoonful of sugar to balance the flavors. I did not add as the little orange tomatoes were sweet and they balanced it out.

Blend the tomatoes. I used my immersion blender. 

Add water/ stock if needed to dilute the soup to suit how thick you want it. 

There you have it! All done. 
Add croutons, a splash of cream if desired. 
Serve hot. 
Check out the other OPOSed recipes here.

Wish all those celebrating, a VERY HAPPY AND MERRY CHRISTMAS! 


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Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Beans Kootu (a South Indian stew made with french beans)

My father had a very good friend, Oak Kaka. My dad and he would address each other as 'Maharaj'.  He was a very jovial person and had the merriest, twinkly grey eyes. He liked cricket as much as my father does and would often join  my father to watch a match.
I absolutely dislike cricket. Never understood the charm of grown up men chasing an itty-bitty ball like madmen.
But the men-folk loved it.
What I liked was, the colorful language that flowed freely. Oak kaka was outspoken in his criticism of any foul by any Indian cricket team member. His voice carried in to the other rooms  and I picked up the new vocabulary, eagerly, like any kid!

When the riots erupted in Mumbai in the '80's,  we all heard horror stories where people were stopped in the middle of the street and asked what religion they belonged to. What would you reply when you are faced with some fanatic, holding a weapon in your face? If you said one religion and he was the other, he'd slice you up, without a moments thought!
Oak kaka was stopped on a street when he was hurrying home, to safety. I only heard bits and pieces, but the gist was, he was yanked out of his cab, a sword was held to his chest and he was asked what religion he followed. Nothing but sheer presence of mind saved him, that day. He stammered out, "Parsi" and was let go. I thought that was brilliant! 

Oak kaka like french beans, They were his favorite veggie. He called it 'furshi'.
When I made this kootu (koot), I thought of him and felt that he would have enjoyed it as much as the simple stir-fry

A couple of months ago, I made a new acquaintance. R, had moved in to our apartment community in the summer and we met through common friends, when out for a morning walk. 
That's one of the things I enjoy on my walks, the crisp cool breeze, the absolutely beautiful mountains on all sides, the clouds hanging low and chatting with friends as we walk.
One day, R called some of us to her home for a small religious function and served us lunch. She made this kootu, which was delicious. I had to get the recipe.
The following week, R showed me how to.

Since then, this is one of our favorite ways of eating french beans. Ladled over piping hot, white rice, it is absolutely lip-smackingly delicious.

You need:

2 cups Beans, chopped
1 Tomato, chopped
1 cup, Toor and Moong Daal, cooked together and mashed
A key lime sized ball of tamarind soaked in 1/4 cup warm water and extract the pulp (discard the solids)
1tbsp Sambar Powder
1 Tbsp Cilantro, chopped ( tender stems ok)

To grind :
1 tbsp Chana daal
1.5 tbsp Coriander seeds
1-3 Dry red chillies ( adjust to suit your tolerance for heat)
1 tbsp Coconut ( fresh, grated) (you can add more, but I don't like it too 'coconutty')
Salt to taste

To Temper
2 tsp Oil
1 tsp Mustard seeds
Pinch Asafetida
Curry leaves

Wash the toor and moong daal in 3-4 changes of water and pressure cook the daals (add twice the amount of water )till soft and mushy.

Wash, de-vein the beans and chop.
Chop the tomato in cubes
In a small pressure cooker, add 2-3 tbsp water at the bottom and then add the beans and tomato.
Pressure cook on high for 2 whistles. Immediately release the pressure.

Till the time the beans cook, start the next prep.

Make the spice paste. In a pan, heat just a couple of drops of oil. Add the chana daal, the coriander seeds and the dry red chilies. Toast till the daal turns light golden , the coriander seeds are aromatic and the chilies turn bright red.
Cool and then grind with the fresh shredded coconut adding a little water to get a smooth paste.

In a deep sauce pan, heat oil for the tempering, Add the chana daal, mustard seeds.

Heat 1 tbsp oil. Add mustard seed, chana daal and curry leaves. Once the mustard seeds pop, the daal bronws (not too dark, please!), add the cooked beans and tomato.

Add Tamarind water and let it come to a boil.

As it comes to a boil, add the sambar podi and mix well to ensure there are no lumps.

Add the cooked and mashed daal. and mix well. 

 Now add it the masala paste (the one that has coconut in it) and cilantro.

One rolling boil and its ready to serve.

 This kootu tastes best with plain white rice. A bit of pickle and papad only make it taste better ( and you over eat!, but in a good way).

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Friday, September 21, 2018

The story of a dog named Quilla and a recipe for Bottled Tadka, inspired by OPOS Style.

For as long as I can remember, I've wanted a dog. 
I would, in my childhood, come home with random puppies I'd adopted from the street. Every time I did this, my mother would shut the door in my face. I was never allowed to step in. 
My heart would break, every single time. 
To make up for that, I befriended every dog in the colony I lived in. But it was never the same. I needed a dog of my own. 

My son is also very fond of dogs, just like I am. He wants needs a dog, but M, is against the idea. 
My heart just shattered into a million fragments, I had wild hopes that my dream would come true after my marriage... my son is sad too. 
To compensate, we go to the Humane society and walk dogs. 
It isn't the same. 

So, in September, for the Labor Day, I planned a small getaway. We went to Kanab. My plan was to visit the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary I've been planning this vacation since last winter.
We set up our volunteering session (it's a 3 hour shift) and in return, we could take a dog  with us, to our hotel room, for a sleepover! It was the closest thing to owning a dog, just for one night. 
We did a tour of the sanctuary and then volunteered. The afternoon was very hot and so dog walking was out of question, we did the cleaning up part and then helped with doggie dinner time.
If you want any details, leave a comment or email me and I will share all I know.
For now, I will let the pictures do the talking

It starts here, the Sanctuary is located in Kanab, with a stunning backdrop of Angel Canyon. It's a sprawling facility which accommodates dogs, cats, horses, pigs, birds.  You need your car to go from one point to another.
It all starts here.
 We wanted to work and volunteer with dogs and were assigned  to Fairways. Volunteer duties vary, in the mornings it involves feeding and walking the dogs. We were there in the afternoon, so our duties involved cleaning, filling the pails with fresh cool drinking water and then feeding.

My boys on cleaning duty. If you must know, I was on poop cleaning duty :) poop- diaper... once a mom, always a mom! 
I was looking forward to our doggie sleepover more than anything! At last, all our jobs were done and we got to meet 'our' dog, Quilla. She is a Pit bull Terrier mix.
M, who is usually *very*.... very wary of dogs  also warmed up to her. She is the sweetest thing. All she wanted was cuddles and to be loved and we made sure she got plenty of those.
Our reward for volunteering
 It was so much fun, taking her on walks, well, she took us for walks, I must admit. The best part was how happy, S was around her and talking to her. He'd go, "no, Quilla, nooo. Follow me, come on ! come with me.... " specially when he saw others watching and smiling. Because she was just too strong for him, I held on to her leash, Li'll S just walked by her, chest puffed out because he had a dog. 
I strutted a bit too (~ blush~). I couldn't help it.I was just so happy! 

Giving me company
 She is such a quiet dog, we did not hear a peep out of her all evening. And so intelligent! She sensed that M was a bit nervous... so she would go up to him, crawling on her tummy and look up at him, her tail wagging and eyes silently demanding love. She got what she wanted, every single time.

 Where Li'll S and I were concerned, she didn't need to ask! We were more than ready to hug her and pet her! We needed it more than she did, I guess.
It's ALWAYS hug time! 
This was the best part of our holiday. The next day we went to Bryce Canyon National Park, it was beautiful. We also had fun in the snow fall at Bryce Point. All in all a very happy holiday.

As always on a road trip, I prefer to carry my Electric Pressure Cooker / Instant Pot with me. We eat out during the day, but for dinner, after a long day of hiking or walking and climbing, we love home made food. Simple and uncomplicated, comfort food. 
For my family, this translates to making Khichadi (rice + moong daal+ tadka / tempering) and pickles.  Yogurt, if available.
I usually make khichadi packets, add water and salt to taste and cook. But this time, I did not plan well, so washing and drying the rice and lentils in time was difficult. The risk of carrying damp rice and lentils is, they become sticky and moldy. Its goes in the trash bin, To avoid that, I carried rice and lentils separately and decided to wash and cook as needed. and I made Bottled Tadka. 

Now, if you are wondering, if she is carrying an IP, whats the issue? Make a tadka in the inner pot, right? Wrong!  The thing is, I did not want to carry all the ingredients for the tadka : oil in a small bottle and ziplocs with spices. I made my life easy with this hack! 

For those of you who haven't heard of OPOS (One Shot One Pot) technique,  it is exactly as the name suggests, one pot cooking, in one shot developed by Chef Rama Krishna. 

The idea is to layer food in a sequence and cook it on high heat, in a 2 liter pressure cooker. Because food is cooked on high heat, it's pressure baking. The convenience is the best part.. well, that and the fact that the foods retain a vibrant color and taste great too! 

*If you are interested in learning this technique, there are simple rules to follow ( this only ensures your success). The first thing to do is, standardize your 2 liter cooker. Watch the entire video and follow the timing, Once this is done, go on to other recipes. 

To make Bottled Tadka, this is the basic and simple version. You can make variations to it. I make this version as I find it useful for almost all dishes I opos.

In your 2 liter pressure cooker ( wiped clean of any moisture), add 1 Cup of Oil. I used Canola.

One Cup oil

To this, add 1/4 cup Mustard seeds / Rai/ Sarson/ Mohori

1/4 cup Mustard seed
Add halved red chilies. I added about 15-18.
Halved red chilies
 Add some curry leaves. I had dried curry leaves my aunt gave me. If you are using fresh curry leaves, wash and pat the leaves dry and then add them.
Add curry leaves
If you have asafetida in the 'stone' form, add it now. If you use powdered asafetida, like I do, do not add it. just wait.

Now close the lid and start the stove on High Heat. This is the time you need to be a bit alert. Start a stopwatch on your cell ( it gets easy after a few tries, but initially, the stop watch helps). You need to keep listening to the mustard seeds popping sound. 
In my case, the popping started at about 2 minutes and 25 seconds. 
As soon as the popping slows down, whip the cooker off the heat ( in my case, since I have coils, they stay hot for a long time and hence I just whip the cooker off the heat and set it aside on a cool coil) and let the pressure settle normally.  I had the cooker off the coil by 3 minutes,
The pressure will settle quickly. Open the cooker lid, the oil is still very hot. Add asafetida and stir it in. Done! 
Add asafetida to the hot oil

 Let the tadka cool. Transfer it to a clear glass bottle and once it is room temperature, it is ready to be refrigerated and used as required.

You can make variation to the tadka as per your requirement. If you need a tadka with lentils in it, like Urad and Channa Daal, to make it a South Indian tadka, add the daals after the mustard seeds.

Ready to be bottled
This will stay fresh for a long time in the fridge. Maybe a month. But I use it every day, and for daals / amti/ sambar/ rasam so I have never really checked how long it stays fresh. 
The thing is, when I was in India for 2 months over summer, I made a big batch of this for M and he barely used a quarter of it. I used the rest after coming back home and it was still good! 
Bottled and ready

The above mentioned quantity made one bottle full, in my case, I used a Priya Pickle bottle I had. I got this bottle full and a couple of tablespoons over that. 
OPOS, Bottled Tadka, OPOS bottle tadka

This tadka can be used to temper not just daals, but simple vegetable stir-fry ( french beans, potato masal for poori or dosa, ivy gourd) and can also be added  when making khichadi (like I did on this road trip) or to dahi-butti (yougrt rice). All you need is a bit of pickle! mm-mm-mmm! 

That's it from me today. Hope you all have a fantastic weekend, doing just what you please! 
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