Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Some memories and a mixed up Paratha

A decade ago, when I was young and innocent (I hear you tittering..) well, more innocent than I am now and when the world was Bombay / Mumbai and Hindi, the National Language, was (and still is , I believe) , " aneka, janeka, khaneka , pineyka, bOmb (as in shout out loud) nai marneka.." See what I mean here. I met a strange girl. Short and skinny. Haughty to the last drop and with a fringe on her forehead into which her eyebrows would disappear when she disapproved or was surprised, which was often. She was a Delhiite, no doubt about it!

Then one day something happened to melt that reserve..
Yep, that is the reason!! His name is Pittu Kulkarni !! He is 16 years old and SUPER cute! Occasionally Pittu would accompany me to college, he loves a ride in the car and when in the mood would perch on my shoulder and come with me. On these days my Mom came with me to bring him back home and the driver would tag along to drive them back.

As usual, a flock of gawking admirers would collect about him and he would , basking in the admiration, showoff , make noises, call me, yell for my Mom, ask for food, wave and say good-night and good morning, and his favourite, go off into a hysterical cackle!!! One day that girl also joined the throng outside the college and stared... eyes wide with wonder and eyebrows that had long disappeared into that fringe. Slowly she walked up, curious , wondering if the bird was real or a stuffed one, and was it the bird talking or was it the girl mimicking? Pittu on looking at her showed off some more and she smiled. After that we (Lisa is her name) became friends and later BESTEST friends.

She always  raised her eyebrows at my Bambaiyya Hindi.. Perhaps a  "aarey yaar, tereko  maloom hoyenga na woh rasta??  or " chal apan na uus baju se jate hain"  was  murder of the language, if you call it a language!! 

Someone sent me an email a few days ago, reading it I felt all Bambaiyya and remembered all those incidents 

You know you are from Mumbai when.....

Stock market quotes are the only other thing besides cricket which you follow passionately.

You take fashion seriously.

You spend more time travelling than you send at home. 9:47 fast, means something to you.

You think that Delhi copied INDIA GATE from Mumbai's GATEWAY OF INDIA...

You're suspicious of strangers who are actually nice to you.

You consider eye contact an act of overt aggression.

Amitabh Bachan's house is a landmark

When there's no place to breathe in the trains but there's place to play cards and sing bhajans!

You refer to the city as Mumbai and not Bombay .

You say that Pani Puri is waaaaaaay better than Gol Gappa's even when they're the same thing

Every three months you look at your street and say 'Why're the digging the road again?'

You actually pay for your rickshaws by the meter.

You know what the term 'video coach' stands for in the local trains...

'Gheun Tak' is your life ideology.

You aren't surprised when somebody throws a water balloon at you while you're walking on the streets during March.

You can only smile forgivingly about the size of any other city in the world.

Every time you speak Hindi in front of a Delhitite they have the WTF expression on their face.

When while giving directions you say 'Right MARO aur wahan pe ek bridge GIREGA'

You have hung on to dear life at the local door.

When you think everyone who lives to the south(Mumbai) of you is a snob and to the north of you sucks

When u see movie names like 'shootout at Lokhandwala' & 'Ek chalis ki last local' & don't have to ask what the name means

You consider the local train 'empty' when you find a spot for your two feet to stand on.

When 'chalta hai' is the most commonly used word

Everything to the north of Mumbai is UP-Bihar and everything below is Madras

If someone calls u 'aap'-- u start laughing on their faces...

When you call the BEST bus, BST, even though BEST is painted on every single public transport bus operational in Bombay

It takes longer to get off from your house to the station than from one end of Mumbai to another by train.

Being truly alone makes you nervous. Crorepati, Lakhpati, Hazarpati, Chillarpati all travel in local Trains daily-together!

You have learnt how to stand in a queue u treat Mumbai as a country itself when you actually see random people coming to help you

When u have a problem u want to get into the train already that is already in motion & u have 5 hands taking u in..

You are back to work next day after the city is bombed - Truly the spirit of Mumbai

When you allow complete strangers to spend the night in your house because its raining outside and half the city is submerged...

And now coming to the recipe!!! I was always a fan of Parathas and  fell deeply in love with them after my first visit to Lisa's home in Delhi! One one occasion I rolled out 'nice fulka like paper-thin parathas(??)' which was something I always remember with a chuckle!! 

At times I  take shortcuts as I did with this one and  also used up leftovers !! 

I tried these Wraps and had some tofu and beans and spinach left over. 

I am copy pasting the  recipe for the  Tofu marinade and the  Beans - Spinach vegetable, but for the original recipe, step by step instructions and spectacular pictures to make the wraps please  visit Suganya's blog – 1 cup


Coconut milk – 1 cup
Grated ginger – 1 tsp
Grated garlic – 1 tsp
Green chillies – 2, minced
Coriander powder – 1 tsp
Cumin powder – 1 tsp
Garam masala – 2 tsp
Sugar – ½ tsp

Tofu – 1 lb, cut into 6 pieces ( I used medium- firm)
Juice of a lemon

Sautéed Greens

Any greens like chard, spinach, or kale – 1 cup, chopped (I used Spinach)
Onion – 1 small, diced
Tomato – 1 small, diced
Cooked beans like black, pinto, or black-eyed peas – ½ cup (optional) (I used Pinto)
Red chilli powder – 1 tsp

Mix all the ingredients for the marinade and pour over tofu pieces. Let stand for at least 1 hour or overnight. Line a broiler-safe dish with foil. Drain tofu from the marinade and lay them in a single row. Reserve the marinade. Broil until the top of tofu develops brown spots and becomes blistered. Flip and broil the other side until brown spots appear. Let tofu rest for 5 minutes and cut into cubes. Coat the cubes in lemon juice and set aside.

Sauté onions, tomato, and greens until the greens are wilted. Add cooked beans, season with red chilli powder and salt.

While I enjoyed the wraps, I was not too keen on eating them the next day, so all I did was:

Used the mashed marinated Tofu
Mashed the beans and spinach mixture
Added salt, a hefty pinch Turmeric, 1/2 tsp (approx) red chile pwd. ,
1/2 tsp each cumin and coriander powder and a dash of lime juice.
To this mixture I added Wheat Flour and made a soft Dough.
Cover and let the dough rest for 20-30 mins.
Heat a tawah ,roll Parathas. Shallow fry with a bit of ghee /oil.
Serve hot with ketchup or pickle!
*the Wheat flour was  not measured, I used my judgement and  added only as much  as needed to yield a soft pliable dough.

These make a good quick meal, ideal for lunch boxes and are very healthy too!  The Tofu- Beans  combinaton  (I guess) make the parathas soft.
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Monday, January 05, 2009

Herbed Rice with Julienne Potatoes- Aloo Pulao

On a recent visit to the library to return movies and books ( and paying a fine for late returns) I picked up a cook book. The main library has quite a good collection of Indian cook books. That may be because there is a lot of desi population here.
Every time I step into the Indian store it is interesting to see that many non-Indians enjoying our cuisine and some even with little chits of paper, buying ingredients neatly listed.
Back to my list now! This weekend my in-laws will join us.This is their first visit to us and indeed to the USA. Things finally fell in place with their VISA and the ticket and now they are very eager to meet their Grandson! I am eager to meet them and at the same time a bit nervous.. I was a newly wed 3 years ago and stayed with them very briefly. There wasn't enough time to get to know each other and hardly any to note their likes and dislikes in re food.
Aah! here is where the hubby steps in, did you say? Naah! he has been away from home for job and projects for nearly a decade and isn't that well up in the home department. All he can guide me is, " they don't eat onion- garlic..rest, umm... dunno, you ask them"
No onion - Garlic, this opened up a new line of thought. So far I never really gave it so much thought, chopping an onion here, mincing a bit of garlic there.. you know how it is. There are dishes I make without these, but in my already nervous state of mind, I drew a blank. So I feverishly scanned the cookbook section in the library and found this and knew I had found a good thing!
Hare Krsna cuisine is famous as is their philosophy .
The recipes use simple everyday ingredients found in almost all pantries and very few which need a visit to the Indian store.
Since rice is a staple on our dining table, I tried this recipe and the resultant taste was this amazing flavorful rice that can be eaten on its own or paired with a simple raita for an enjoyable lunch or dinner.
I cannot wait to try out some more of these superb recipes!!

Recipe source here

Serves 4

1 cup Basmati Rice
2 medium size Potatoes
1 1/2 tbs, finely shredded or minced fresh Ginger
2 tsp Finely minced Green Chilies (+/- as per taste)
1/4 cup fresh grated or shredded dry coconut, lightly packed
2 tbs chopped Cilantro
3 tbs Plain Yogurt
3 tbs Peanut Oil or ghee
6 cloves /Lavang
1 1/4 inch Cinnamon stick
1 small Bay leaf
1 1/2 tsp Cumin seeds
1/2cup Fresh or frozen Peas
1 tsp Salt
3/4tsp Turmeric
1 tsp fresh Lemon or Lime juice
2- 2 1/4cups Water
1 tsp raw Sugar
1 tbs Butter or ghee
lemon wedges for garnish

Clean, wash, soak and drain rice.
Wash, peel and cut the potatoes in julienne strips, 1 1/2 inch long and 1/2 inch wide

Combine the ginger, cilantro, green chilies, coconut and yogurt in a bowl. Mix well. Drop in the potato strips . Stir to coat and allow them to marinate and in the meantime prepare the seasoning

Heat oil /ghee in a heavy bottomed saucepan over a medium high heat. Add cloves, cinnamon stick, bay leaf and cumin. Fry until Cumin seeds brown. Add marinated potatoes and stir-fry until light brown

*Add the rice, fresh peas, salt,turmeric, lemon or lime juice, water and sugar. Stir and quickly bring to a full boil. If using frozen and defrosted peas,add them to the rice about 5 mins. before the end of cooking

Reduce the heat to low and cover with a tight fitting lid. Simmer gently without stirring for 20-25 mins. or until the rice is tender and fluffy and all the liquid is absorbed

Remove the lid, turn off the heat and add 1 tbs ghee or butter, cover and let the rice sit for 5 mins.

Serve hot with lemon wedges.

*I usually do not cook rice on the stove top, at this stage I simply poured all the ingredients in my electric rice cooker and set it to cook on its own
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Saturday, January 03, 2009


We just got back from a short and much needed holiday. A perfect way to end the old year and ring in the new one! 
We saw this  bright duck  bobbing on the water and were captivated by  it's vibrant  colors and the peaceful expression. 
That's what I'd want for everyone I know, a calm and peaceful new year!!
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