Monday, September 25, 2006

Taking a leaf out of Mother-in-law's cook book

Peeth perleli bhaji (Vegetable made using (besan) flour)

Quick and very tasty.... yes that is what I'd like to call my Ma-in-law's cooking... even in the short time that I have stayed with her, I had the opportunity to pick up a few tips and tricks.
There was this time she had made bell pepper veg., simple recipe... chop the pepper in biggish chunks cook them with minimum fuss and spices, and once well cooked add gram flour (besan) mix well and cook for a few mins. Done! result, yummy vegetable that can be eaten with roti or better with a 'bhakri'. What Mom also mentioned was that , this particular recipe did not restrict itself to bell peppers... go on, try using it with cabbage... sounds good? Did to me, so last evening I gave it a try.. first I put up a silent prayer.... yes, I did.. M, is used to this cooked by Mom, I wanted to come close to how she prepares it.
All right then, with my trusted knife in hand I ....

Chopped cabbage ( about 1/4 kg.)
Chopped onion (1/2 large onion, and i mean large californian yellow onion)
Salt to taste
1/2 spn Corriander (Dhania) Powder
1/2 spn Cumin (Jeera) Powder
1 tsp Red chilly powder
1/4 spn Mustard seeds
1/4 sp Cumin seeds
3 tbspOil
1/4 spTurmeric
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup Besan
1/4 spn sugar (optional)
Cilantro to garnish

Please note, I have used my judgement in all the ingredients, never measured it so if you try this, use the measures as guidelines only.

Heat oil in a 'kadhai'. add mustard seeds, after they crackle , add cumin seeds, turmeric. Add chopped onion, stir fry a while, add cabbage, mix well, add 1/4 cup water , cover and cook.
After the onion and cabbage are soft, add salt, red chilly pwd., sugar,cumin and corriander powder, mix well, cook for a minute. Slowly add the besan, mixing well at the same time with one hand. Cover and cook for a few mins. so that the flour gets cooked. Do NOT add any water.Garnish with chopped cilantro.
I got a 100% rating on this one!!
Jai ho, Mom-in-law ki jai ho!!

P.S : I made the Parathas again (check the previous post) but this time in 'gheun ka atta' , they turned out just fine and the size was a normal paratha size too!

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Not the usual Chivda

Not the usual Chivda, but then it was not the usual Saturday too! M, had to go to office, some urgent work... well, that spoilt my week end,with nothing much to do apart from moping around the house, grumbling away to the walls...
I was reading this book and suddenly I had this 'attack of the munchies'..
Something spicy, crunchy.... like chivda.. but I had not stocked thin poha, all I had was the normal thick Poha. I'll make do!

2 cups Thick Poha
1 med. size onion finely chopped
2 cloves garlic finely minced
Salt to taste
1/2 spn. sugar (optional)
3/4 spn. Turmeric
1/2 spn. Asafetida
1 spn. Dhania-Jeera powder
Red chilly powder ( how spicy do you like it?)
2 spn. Oil
1/2 spn. Mustard seeds
Few curry leaves

Place the poha in the microwave and run it for a minute. This will make the poha crisp.
Heat oil in a kadhai. Add mustard seeds, after they pop add asafetida. Add turmeric, curry leaves. Add in the finely chopped garlic and onion, saute it till it turns brown and crispy. Add the dhania-jeera powder, add poha. Add red chilly powder, salt, sugar. Mix thoroughly over medium-high heat. Roast the whole mixture for about 5 mins, stirring all the while. Let it cool, then transfer it to an airtight container. This can be made quickly, or u can make this ahead of time and store it in readiness when the next time you have an attack of the munchies!!

The recipe can be tweaked here and there... for example, you can add peanuts, cashews. Garam masala or Kitchen King can be added to give it a different taste.

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Sunday, September 17, 2006


Thank U Asha(Foodie's Hope) for tagging me for this! I'm so excited! Spaz

This is the first time I have had to do something like this! Ok.. ok.... 5 things I want to eat before I die.....
just 5..... Awww Shucks

Well, well, well... if I have to hand in my pail so soon..... Hungry Let's get started !!

1. RamPrasad ladoos (that's what he calls them)-Baba made.... when I was a kid, my Father would make these . Simple to make and SO very tasty... only when Baba made them. He would patiently roast the wheat flour in ghee till it was this wonderful honey colour... in which he would add jaggery, cardamom ! The fragrance would spread in the house and I would be drawn towards it like Garfield to food! I sure miss that a LOT!

2. An everyday meal cooked by my Mother. Aaaaahhh! sitting at the dining table and eating a meal, Mom serving piping hot, puffed up 'fulkas' just off the stove...

3. PuranPolis - Aaji (GrandMother) made... No one can make puranpolis like her! No one!! She used tomake them during Ganesh Utsav.... my cousins and I would be torn between doing justice to her wonderful steamed 'modak' or puranpoli, but we tried hard, reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeal hard! Needless to say, we kept her very busy (kinda selfish, you would think, but one bite of that luscious puranpoli, and you would have done just what I did, pig out!!)

4. All the varieties of Chaat and street food. I had pani puri in an Indian Restaurant last evening..... Terribly disappointed, is the mildest term I can use.... so I wanna have pani puri at 'Kailash Parbat' along with the mix chat (mmmmm!) and with Lisa, I love to watch her to try hopelessly to stuff the whole puri into her mouth (bad manners,I know,I know, but very amusing all the same!)... and pani puri again at a nondescript place in Thane- East(sindhi colony) where this guy who is a lawyer by education, but sells Chaat for a living .. awsome stuff! PavBhaji at ' Achija's' with my hubby, we both just dig it! Wada Pav on the street corner near our Chembur home.Veg.Frankie at Shivaji Park. Ganneh ka rass on a hot day at a 'Rasvanti Gruh' behind Ruia College. Kulfi, late at night, when a kulfiwalla comes with the 'tokri' on his head, shouting , 'kulfffiiiyyyo'.

5. Garam Cutting Chai - This has to be with my bestest friend Lisa, and in our college canteen.We both survived on 'cutting chai' and wada pav in our post graduation days. Aaaahh! miss those times, in that dingy little canteen, noise all around.. Mama (the owner of the canteen) yelling to one of his boys, "Ay Raja, don cutting an ki ithe... pori kadhicha thamblyat, chal lavkar kar re baba, damlayt bicharya... kaay deva haal haal re hyanche..." (Hey Raja, get 2 cutting here, these girls have been waiting for a while now, make it quick, they seem tired, oh God! the poor tired things....)

I tag : Hema , Vineela

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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Plain Jane cookies.

I'm still on the 'baking bug'.... this time it was cookies! I wanted to eat simple plain cookies... no raisins, no choco chips.... nothing, maybe I was thinking of the simple nankhatai back in India I used to enjoy so much.
Though something I ate with enjoyment, I had never dreamed that one day I would make these! I don't know, but somehow, I had this idea that 'baking' was largely done only by Catholics (my Catholic friends in school used to bring cake slices baked by their Mom on Christmas or their Birthday and none of the Maharashtrian / SouthIndian friends did this- our B'day cakes were 'Monginis' made!) Well, tender years and funny ideas!

M and I both like cookies, in fact I know very few people who don't... ofcourse there are those on a diet and they have to feign disinterest! but.. this is not the time to talk of diets and feel guilt ridden! Time to bake a batch of lovely, crispy , home made cookies, and watch with satisfaction as they disappear!

Simple ingredients :
1 Cup All purpose Flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
1/2 tsp. vanilla essence
1 tsp. baking soda
5 - 6 tbsp. unsalted butter (softened butter- NOT careful!)
* careful with the butter too much will make a mess of the cookies. I added it spoon by spoon.

Sift the flour, baking powder, cardamom powder. Mix the butter and sugar and beat together till the color turns lighter and it looks creamy.
Add vanilla essence, mix in the sifted flour. Knead into a dough. Cover with plastic wrap and leave for a while.
Preheat the oven. Make small balls of the dough by rolling it in the palm and lay them on the baking tray, keep a little distancce between the dough rolls.
Bake at 180 degrees C for almost 20-25 mins.

Confessions and lesson learnt :
1. I totally goofed on my first batch of cookies...too much butter... they 'ran' into one another :(
2. The heat was too much -absentmindedness- the cookies turned out looking like dark chocolate cookies instead of the end result as seen above :((
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Friday, September 08, 2006

Baking Eggless Banana Bread

... Taking inspiration from fellow bloggers.......

My Father is a strict Vegetarian. Not even eggs.... I remember in my childhood, he would never eat my birthday cake... I used to feel bad , but I always cheered up when he would let me have what would have been his piece of cake! But in those tender years, I could never figure out how Dad felt happy on his Birthday! Mom would make a traditional sweet and that was celebration? Well, well, grown ups are funny!
Well, this is not for a birthday, neither is it a cake, but I'm sure Dad will love this EGGLESS Banana Bread. I picked up this recipe from Nandita's Saffron Trail.
We got the bananas from Von's.. and I kept watching when they would be fully ripe and soft, spotted but not black.... and today morning after talking to Mum and Dad, I felt a wave of memories sweep over me.... This one is for you Dad.

11/2 Cup Flour ( I took 1 cup All purpose and 1/2 cup wheat flour)
1 cup sugar
3 Ripe bananas
1 tsp. baking soda
1/3 cup butter
1/2 tsp. cardamom powder
1 tsp (French) vanilla essence
Pinch salt
2 tbsp Milk

Preheat oven to 350°F. Mash the bananas. Melt the butter. With a wooden spatula, mix the melted butter in the mashed bananas. Add the sugar,v.essence, milk, baking soda and mix well.Last, add the flour- mix.
Pour into a greased baking loaf pan. Bake for about 45- 50 mins. check if baked by inserting a toothpick / knife, if it comes out clean, the bread is baked.

Cool on the rack. cut into slices and serve warm ( I could not wait to get my greedy hands on it! it was smelling heavenly!! I gobbled up a piece - just to check the taste you know!!)

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Tuesday, September 05, 2006


One friend went back to India last week, he was with us for a last cuppa coffee, and before going he gave me this bag and said..".. you can use it better than any of us.." Eh? My blank face must have spoken volumes more than my bleak "Thank You". Curioser and curioser... (Alice in Wonderland, guys!).. When I opened the bag (after he left) I found a bag of Thalipeeth BhajaNi(a flour mix).. AHA! Just the thing for a Sunday breakfast !
Thalipeeth was and still is among one of my favourite snacks...I remember the times when my Mother used to make these for me.. I used to love sampling even the dough, so tasty!

The ready Thalipeeth, hot off the stove, would be served with a dollop of fresh home made butter. I would eat it with just the butter or for variation with yogurt or sometimes ketchup..

So this Sunday I made Thalipeeth... lucky for me I got the bhajaNi (flour mix). I had searched for it in the Indian Store here , but no go. I even contempleted making the bhajaNi, but that meant grinding which is not an easy task when u don't have the heavy duty grinders as in the home land. But for those who want to make the mix just follow the recipe below :

The proportions given in RUCHIRA- the cook book are as follows :

4 cups Bajri

2 cup Jowar

1 cup Urad dal

1 cup Chana dal

1/2 cup Wheat

1/2 cup Rice

Roast all the daals, wheat and rice let it cool down. Grind it to a fine powder. Bhajani is ready.*Pour some hot water on the Jowar and roast it on low fire.The Thalipeeth will become crisp.

A word of caution : Bajri becomes bitter if kept for a long period.

In the Indian stores out here we can easily get Jowar/ Rice/wheat/Besan . So here is an alternative to the traditional flour, and a quick one too:

1 cup of Jowar Flour

1 cup of Rice Flour

1/2 cup of Besan

1/2 cup of Wheat flour

Jeera and Corriander powder

1 Onion Finely chopped

1 spn. Red chilli powder /3-4 green chilies finely chopped (vary as per individual taste and liking)

Salt to taste

1/2 sp. Turmeric

A Dash Asafetida


Take all the above 4 flours in a plate.Heat some oil(3 spoons) pour it on the mixture of the flours.(Mix it with a spoon as it is hot). Add the remaining ingredients and mix the dough well.Make small balls and pat the thalipeeth using the palm, here I used a smooth polythene (a lays chips bag cut open), applied a bit of oil, so that the dough would not stick to the sheet . Do not pat it too thin, then bore a hole in the middle and roast with some oil on the Tawa. It does eat up a good bit of oil, but that gives it a wonderful appetising smell and texture and taste. Serve hot with a dollop of butter.

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