Jan 28, 2010

Indori Kanda Poha and battle of the sexes

Indori: Born and bought up in Indore, MP, India; a foodie to the core; has aloo kachori, bhutte ka keese, garadu and kanda poha in the blood; one with a laid back attitude; easy going; likes to eat namkeen and laung sev with everything.

I have been late for my own event. But if you are an Indori (ref above) like me you would know it is nothing personal. We are a laid back lot, who do nothing in a hurry and take their time getting things done. (Just read the repetitious sentence to know what I mean!).
Which is a problem if you are married to a go getter, “hate lounging in bed”, up at the crack of dawn kind of fellow. There is no clause that makes it mandatory to disclose ‘sleeping in’ preferences before couples get hitched in an arranged marriage.
As a result, the first few months of our marriage were tumultuous, with me struggling to get used to the “leave in half an hour” to mean “leave in half an hour” concept of time. Him on the other hand had to get used to my, shall we say, easy as it goes attitude, in which half an hour could mean anything between 45 minutes to an hour and a half.
On a normal weekend morning I like nothing better than to get up at a godly hour (around 9 AM), make a nice cup of ginger tea and talk about the plans for the day, which may or may not get done by the end of the day. In my world it is perfectly acceptable as long as the meal that you planned on eating turned out right. He, on the other hand will be up at 6.30 AM (an ungodly hour, according to me), paying bills, catching up on emails and exercising. For him, the taste of food is secondary to the act of consuming it.
Nine years later, I still like my weekend breakfast to be poha, Indori style, with lots of onions, fennel seeds, peas and potatoes (the only thing missing are hot jalebis from the neighborhood halwai). He, who has grown up on upma and idli sambhar for breakfast, thought adding veggies to poha was tantamount to sacrilege. “That’s not poha, that’s vegetables cooked with poha!”
But what he didn’t bargain for was the “persistent foodie” that is inherent in every Indori. We may be laidback but we know our food and eventually we will convert you. By the end of our first year, T was making better poha than I and adding the ‘vegetables’ to them with restrained relish.
So here’s our recipe for Indori Kanda Poha that I first posted here, sans any photos. Another Indori Kanda Poha recipe can be found here.

2 cups thick poha (flattened rice)
1 cup onion, chopped 
1 small potato, chopped in thin, bite size pieces
¼ cup peas, frozen or fresh

For Tadka:
1 tsp Rai/ black mustard seeds
1 tsp Haldi/ turmeric
2-3 green chilies, sliced in small pieces
4-5 curry leaves/ kari patta
1 tsp fennel seeds/ saunf (necessary)
1/2 tsp sugar (necessary)

For Garnish:
When the list of garnish ingredients is as long as that of the main ingredients you know it is an Indori recipe. The following are optional but recomended (either one or two or all) to enjoy the Indori experience.

Fresh pomegranate seeds
Grated, dry or fresh coconut
Chopped onion
Lemon wedges
Grapes (you better believe it)
Namkeen/ sev/ chavana
Jeeravan powder (like a chat masala but made just for sprinkling on poha)
Wash the poha twice in water, drain and keep it aside. The poha should be wet like a sponge but not soaking in water.
Heat oil and add mustard seeds. When they start spluttering, add curry leaves and chopped green chilli, fennel seeds and onion. Let the onions sweat on medium heat till they turn pink.
Add haldi and cook till the smell of raw haldi goes away.
Add the chopped potatoes and the peas and salt them. Cover and cook till the potatoes are fully cooked.
Add the poha and mix the onion-potato-peas together. Add salt and a pinch of sugar. Cover the poha with a lid and let it steam on low for 5 minutes.
Turn the heat off and garnish with chopped coriander and the above mentioned toppings of your choice.

And after that delectable feast of Indori poha and chai, I leave you with not one but two like minded fellow Indoris. Because we like nothing better than to talk about food before, during and after a meal.

The following was found here:
I think, Indore is one of the few places in the world where u can set up a small ’’thela’ serving poha -jalebi (Poha is a local dish, jalebi is a sweet dish) and if the taste is approved by the Indoriens, be assured u can earn enough for generations to come. When it comes to food, Indori chatoras stand a class apart. Poha, jalebi, garadu, sabudani ke kichrhi, somose-kachori, patis, khaman, pani puri - u name it and u have it. U come here with a new product and if its passed by the ’chotori jubaan’ of Indorians, don’t b surprised if u become a lakhpati in no time, a crorepati too is very much on cards - it happens only in Indore :-)

Excerpt from Rajat Jain's blog Useless Ramblings:
The other side-effects include missing the delicious Indian food. Being a foodie (and hence, a "bit" overweight) that I am, I obviously miss it. Especially when you order for a Daal Tadka, and get a layer of water above some half cooked and non-spicy cereals. Or when you have to contend with "maide ki roti."
Nah, whom am I kidding? An obsessed Indoree that I am, there was no chance on earth (or in heaven. I don't like hell.) that I could forget carrying Poha—Indoree Poha—with me. Two kilograms of Poha would be enough for 2 months. Or will they? Probably depending on how well I'd control my staple diet!

The poha with all the garnishes is off to Anita's Kitchen and to Sir's Corner who is hosting JFI: Fennel this month, started by Indira.

Jan 15, 2010

Mexican Wedding Cookies for Global Kadai

Does running around for an hour with your four year old count towards a workout? I hope so because it is fun and tiring and a great way to keep a toddler occupied when the 'No TV' policy is still on. It also gave me a chance to burn off the Mexican Wedding Cookies I have been eating since the day they came out fresh from the oven.
The cookies were made for Global Kadai, a wonderful monthly event, started by Cilantro to Indianize international cuisines, one recipe at a time. This month's recipe is by Karen Ginnes and below is my Indianized version of the same.

I added nutmeg and ground ginger for flavor. I wanted to add finely ground almonds but ended up with some chunks in it and they gave a nutty texture to the cookies which tasted like a slightly spicy, less buttery, chocolaty version of the Indian nankhatai. Making the dough was simplicity itself and the cookies took about 10 minutes to bake to perfection.

(Makes about 3 dozen cookies)
1 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup fine sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 + 3/4 cups APF
1 cup almonds, (1/2cup ground fine and the other half coarse)
1/2 cup chocolate chips, chopped coarse
1/2 cup sweetened flake coconut (optional)
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp dry ginger powder (optional)
1/2 tsp instant coffee powder (optional)
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar, for dusting

Cream the butter and sugar together till light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and beat some more.
In a separate bowl, combine all the dry ingredients thoroughly.
Gradually add to the whipped butter till well incorporated.
Wrap tightly in the shape of a log in a plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
Preheat the oven to 325 degree F (180 degree C).
Cut one inch discs out of the log and roll into balls.
Place an inch apart on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 8 - 10 minutes till the cookies are firm to touch.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool and after a minute dust the confectioner's sugar on top with the help of a small strainer.

Note: The coarsely ground almonds and chocolate chips give a bite to the cookies. You can ground the almonds fine or substitute with walnuts or pecans.

I liked the flavor of nutmeg but ground cardamom or cinnamon powder can be substituted.

These cookies are being shipped to Mahima's Indian Vegetarian Kitchen and to Sara's Corner.

Jan 13, 2010

Simplify your life: Turn off the TV

Today, I woke up to a quiet house. Usually, I wake up to the cacophony of early morning news, chatty TV shows and loud advertisement, not to mention weather and traffic updates every five minutes. As far as I can remember I have always woken up to noise whether it was Vividh Bharti (radio) and later Doordarshan (TV).
Except in the summers when we would sleep outside, under an open sky, snuggled in our blankets under the mosquito nettings and wake up to a quiet, cool summer morning. But that was years ago.
Today, T had left for work earlier than usual and had not turned on the TV like he does every morning. The house was so calm when I woke up, it reminded me of those early summer mornings. I warmed my cup of tea (courtesy T) and basked in the quiet warmth of the ginger infused concoction.
Till, my four year old woke up. On any given day, if we are not watching TV our son is, which is most of the time. Today, he seemed content to play in his room without the TV on and I decided not to turn it on till he asked for it.
Well, as it turned out he didn’t ask for it till half the day was over. Instead, he found and played with toys he hadn’t played with in months, we had a quiet breakfast together, went for a haircut, to see a train, took a bath and cut our nails, all before noon!
All clean and groomed, he watched TV for an hour and a half and had his lunch. A play date with a boy on the street and he was ready for his afternoon nap.
After the nap the TV was still off. We played together for a while and after T came home we had tea and snacks together and caught up on our day.
The three of us played pretend fighter pilots for a little while before I headed off to cook. Dinner too was a quiet family affair with still no TV.
Usually, we feed the picky eater while he is watching his favorite movie or cartoon, then the two of us eat together. Today, all of us sat down together and had a quiet meal without the TV blaring and the click of the remote between shows. 
A quick kitchen clean up and we were back building blocks and reading books. Before we knew it, it was an hour to bedtime.
This may sound strange but my son’s bedtime routine includes about an hour of computer games, which I play with him. We decided to stick to it but ended it earlier than usual.
As we prepared to go to bed, we realized how calm our day had been and how much more time we had to interact as a family. T told me he had not even surfed the net or listened to the car radio on the way to work and back home. I did no such thing but just turning the TV off opened up many more hours in the day for my son and me.     
More than the free hours, my life seemed calmer and less complicated. You just have to count the number of times I wrote the word ‘quiet’ in this post (six times, not counting the word ‘calm’).
After harping for so long about wanting to reach my 100th post and agonizing on whether to cook a dessert or an entrée to post, this day somehow seemed more apropos to log as my century.
Tomorrow, no car radio and if I can help it, hopefully no surfing the net. Unless…

If you are leaving a comment, tell me how many hours of TV your family watches? Ours was 7-8 hours between the three of us.

Disclaimer: This is not to say we are packing and donating our TV to charity. But now that we know we can live without watching our favorite shows or listening to the news, we will think twice before picking up the remote.

Jan 7, 2010

Doubt in a bottle

My new year’s resolution is to lay off wine. As if to compensate for the lack of red anti oxidents I decided to join the Project 365  (which is not to be inferred as a daily drinking habit). With only a day into the project my head is already swirling with ideas.
The project requires carrying a camera everywhere you go -- grocery store, a restaurant, the neighbor’s house, on the road, to the gym. The idea is to capture the year with a picture a day.

Since I joined the group six days late, I will be chronicling only 359 Days of DSM (desi soccer mom).
As I write this post it is 1 AM in the morning. The dishwasher is quite and all I hear is the rattling of my keyboard and the drip of the leaky faucet in the sink. Did I mention before I am an insomniac? Any remedies/ cures short of sleeping pills will be appreciated.
Coming back to my doubt in a bottle: I know this year is going to be busy, with tackling three classes in school every Sat, my writer’s meet once a month and a resolve to start writing something every month for critiquing, not to mention getting rid of clutter before the winter is over. That’s right, I like to de clutter in the winter when I am cooped up in the house instead of spring-cleaning when I would rather take a walk.
Right now it is too cold to take a walk, even if it is from the parking lot to the gym. I finally did it yesterday, six days into the new year and I am hoping I’ll be able to make it at least three days a week till Summer, when it will be too hot to walk.
As I lay in bed, tossing and turning, willing myself to fall asleep and counting all the above things I have resolved to stick to, I began to wonder if I have chewed more than I can eat. Is the overeating going to give me a bad case of indigestion? (Remedies for that are also appreciated.) An elder in our family always gave out ten tasks to finish, knowing only eight will be done. I am hoping all ten will be done by the end of the year.
Wish me luck and check out 359 Days of DSM.

Jan 6, 2010

The repost event and another set of rules

My last post, confirmed what I had suspected for a while now. Initial posts on most blogs are like orphans. They sit in the first month, neglected and unread. Ironically, sometimes they are the ones close to the foodie’s heart, either because of the skill level involved in making them or because they are the ultimate comfort foods.
The first few posts are also the precursors to the more polished ones with better photographs and possibly more readers. Sometimes they (the posts not the readers) do get sent for events as reposts but I am not sure they receive the same treatment as the fresh posts.
It is not conventional to ask fellow bloggers, that too at the beginning of the New Year, to revisit their earliest posts. But I am anything but conventional and it has been pointed out to me that mine is not the usual cookery blog (thank you for that comment Radha). So, instead of waiting for my one year blog anniversary or my 100th post to announce an event, I am going to do so with two more posts to the finish line and about four more months to go before Desi Soccer Mom turns one (yes, henceforth this blog will be called Desi Soccer Mom instead of JAYASPACE).

And here are the unconventional but strict rules to my event, which I have decided to call 'The Repost Event' that begins today and ends Feb 6:

Rule No. 1: Choose not more than two food related posts out of the first 10 posts on your blog.
Rule No. 2: Do not just repost but rewrite your old posts. Add, subtract or edit to the post. In short dress it up or down. For ex tell your readers why you decided on that particular post. Or what made you learn or make that dish and post it. I am looking for posts similar to this one.  
Rule No. 3: To get around Rule No. 2. If you think your post is perfect and the text does not need any editing, at least take the effort and put up a different, if possible better photo. Add value by talking about some interesting/ funny comments you received on that post. 
Rule No. 4: Link back to the original post so readers can compare. Lines similar to: “This was my original post” or "This is what I posted before" should do the trick. 
Rule No. 5: Repost the edited post and send with a 300px wide photo to jayawagle(at)gmail.com. Add a link to this post and write ‘The Repost Event’ in the subject line.

the repost event
In return for following my rules, I swear to follow these rules (sarcasm intended):
Rule No. 1: I will post the roundup in a timely fashion, by second week of Feb, barring any unfortunate circumstances.
Rule No. 2: I will not solicit on your comment form for participation in my event.
Rule No. 3: I will not insist that you be a follower of my blog to participate.

Happy reposting foodies. 

Jan 4, 2010

Sabudana Khichdi 101 and a litany of rules

I was on a high after mastering the art of making sabudana khichdi from a friend of mine.

For the longest time I could never get the consistency of the sabudana khichdi right. I searched the net, I consulted friends and I even woke up at 5 AM to watch my sister-in-law make the khichdi. I experimented with different soaking methods over a week. An empty jar of sago later, I was no closer to making a soft khichdi then well… before the full jar.
Then one day, after eating one of the best s.khichdi at my friend R’s house, I told her I wasn’t leaving till she taught me how to cook it. She graciously took me under her wing and taught me. We soaked the sago together and I went back the next morning to learn how to make it.
These are the sago pearls of wisdom she imparted me with and now I pay them forward, once again! I did them once before here.
Pearl No 1: Wash the sabudana twice in plenty of water. Soak it overnight with ¼ inch of water on top of the sabudana. Cover the pot and forget about it till next day morning.
Pearl No 2: Use as little oil/ghee as necessary. Too much oil/ghee will make the sago pearls harder.
Pearl No 3: Once all the ingredients in the karahi are mixed, put the heat on low, cover the pot and forget about it for at least 10 min.
1 cup Sabudana, soaked overnight or at least an hour
1 potato (boiled or raw), cubed
1 tbsp ghee/ oil
¾ cup roasted crushed peanuts
1–2 green chillis
1 tsp jeera (cumin)
Salt to taste
Lemon juice and cilantro to garnish

Soak the sabudana overnight. The sago pearls should have become soft and almost doubled in size.
Heat 1 tblsp oil/ghee in a karahi. Add the jeera. Once it starts to splutter, add the chopped green chillis and the potatoes.
Meanwhile, mix the sabudana and the roasted peanut powder together with salt and a pinch of sugar.
As soon as the potatoes are cooked, add the sabudana mixture, stir and mix well.
Check for salt and chili. At this point, you can add more salt or red chili powder if needed. Cover the karahi, turn the heat to low and walk away for 10-15 min.
Come back and check. The sago pearls should be soft and plump by this time. Turn off the heat, sprinkle some lemon juice, garnish with cilantro and serve hot.
Alternative cooking in the microwave:
Add the cooked potatoes and green chillis to the sago mix and pop it in the microwave. Cook on high for a minute and then covered for another 30 seconds.

Note 1: If the soaked sago turns out sticky, it had too much water. Next time, use a little less.
Note 2: Do not be tempted to keep on checking on the sago during the soaking process. Walk away.
Note 3: Excessive handling of sago during the cooking process will make it sticky. On the other hand, if you feel the sago is a little dry, sprinkle a few drops of water or some lemon juice and cover. The steam will soften the sago.

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