Aug 22, 2010

It takes two to err… marry

This story is not a work of fiction but the names and identities of people, to some extent, have been changed. If you would like to read more of the story, mention it in the comment section and I will try to post the next part of the story as soon as possible. Due to my bed rest, there is no recipe this time with the story which is written for Of Chalks and Chopsticks, a food fiction event started by Aqua and currently being hosted on this blog.  

Raj and his parents looked at each other incredulously. They didn’t know what to think of Naina. Every few minutes she would excuse herself and go behind the curtain. Having lived in a small flat like this one all his life, Raj could guess that the curtain shielded a narrow hallway which probably led to a bedroom on one side, bathrooms on the other and a small kitchen at the back. They could clearly hear the girl blowing her nose in the sink. From the amount of noise she made, they could deduce safely that the sink was just outside the bathroom, a few feet away from the curtain.

She came back in the hallway again, wiping her hands on her duppatta. Her nose was a beetroot red but she didn’t seem to care. “She is so nonchalant,” Raj thought. “Doesn’t she care who we are? Aai (mother) is certainly not going to be happy,” he thought with dismay.

The nose blowing girl could feel the disapproving glare of the boy’s mother sitting across from her. Naina had to pinch herself hard to stop from laughing out loud. She couldn’t get the image of the woman, all prim and proper in her starched sari, with a band aid on her nose, out of her mind. She knew she had been making excessively loud noises blowing her nose but she didn’t care. The unwritten rules of the matchmaking ritual demanded that she be presented as a docile, homely and sweet natured girl. Ever the rebel, Naina was determined to break every rule. Blowing her nose loudly was a minor infraction in her long list of penalties.

Two years ago, since she had been deemed of marriageable age by her parents, Naina had refused to carry the mandatory tray laden with tea and biscuits or to wear a sari and strings of necklaces to impress the visiting “dignitaries”.

In India, the ubiquitous tea and biscuits are almost always offered to guests.

Her defiance had increased when she found a job working for a major newspaper in Bombay. She was staying with her cousin sister, Priti tai, at the time and was falling in love with the fast pace of the city. Her new job and the financial independence were too exciting and tempting to give up for a life of matrimony. Every time she went through one of the “viewing” sessions, her resolve to resist grew stronger, her violations more severe.

Aug 13, 2010

Chole Palak, not an authentic Punjabi recipe

This is an old post, that almost got lost in the archives of my word documents. It was written in response to Supriya's query if I had the recipe for chole palak on the blog. The chole palak in question were the pairing for the Tibetan bread that he had made. This then, is the old write up with some new reference added in for freshness.

What kind of chole masala do you use? If it is the store bought, then what brand do you prefer? I prefer Sanjeev Kapoor’s Chole Masala. It doesn’t have too much salt and the spices smell fresh. If you make your chole masala at home by roasting and grinding spices, then please share and send it to Aqua, who is hosting this month’s B2B for me. Interested to host it, email me here.

In the past, my attempts at making authentic Punjabi chole, the kind that are immersed in thick, black gravy and the garbanzo beans so soft you could break them with the touch of your tooth, have failed miserably. Before you ask or venture, yes, I have tried Anita’s recipe and mine didn’t even come close to what hers looked like and I am pretty sure they didn’t taste like hers either. I will chalk it to my inability to follow a recipe to a T or the lack of patience with the bhunoeing of the spices.

Recently, Manisha wondered here why the chole gravy needed to be black?  I have not the faintest clue. For me, it brings back memories of lunches I have had as a teenager at Pujabi friend’s homes. The chole were almost always served with white bread and I have to admit the combination was awesome. To this day, if I am eating chole by myself, I toast two pieces of thick sourdough bread to eat with it.

But I digress. A few months ago, in an attempt to finish off a bunch of spinach leaves in danger of wilting in the fridge, I added them to the boiling chole gravy. To my delight, the pinkish/ yellowish gravy started turning black and by the time the spinach was cooked through I had the chole of my dreams or at least the color I desired. Though they did not taste like the authentic version, they looked every bit as good. And since then, I make sure I have spinach on hand before I soak garbanzo beans.

A few weeks ago, with no spinach or any other green to turn my chole black, I resorted to the original tea leaves method. Lurking in an overlooked corner of the kitchen I had found a half empty box of tea bags. I popped one in the cooker with the soaked chana and eight whistles later the beans were all black and soft and ready to eat as is.

Encouraged, I followed Anita’s tip and roasted the onions and ginger garlic paste with the chole masala (store-bought) till everything was a luscious black color. Added some fresh tomato puree which did nothing to change the color of the gravy and then added the darkened chana to it. The result was exactly what I wanted and it looked and felt like what Anita would have made, I think. We had it again with the Tibetan bread and it was good to the last bite.

Here’s my Indian pairing for his Tibetan bread.

Serves 2

1 can garbanzo beans or 1/2 cup of dry beans soaked in plenty of water overnight
1 tea bag (black tea)
1 small onion, chopped fine
1 small tomato, chopped or pureed
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
1 tsp chole masala/ garam masala
1/2 tsp dhana jeera powder (cumin-coriander powder)
1/2 red chili powder
1 bunch of chopped spinach (optional)

Pressure cook the garbanzo beans with the tea bag for 6-8 whistles or whatever it takes for your cooker to get them cooked through.

Heat a tablespoon of oil. Add the onions and sauté till almost brown and fragrant.

Mix in the ginger garlic paste and the dry spices (chana masala, dhana jeera and red chili powder).

Cook on medium low heat till the raw smell of ginger garlic and the dry spices turns fragrant. Continue cooking till everything starts looking dark and mysterious.

Add the chopped/ pureed tomato and cook for another five minutes. Do not under any duress add canned tomato puree. It is way too tomatoey and will change the color of your gravy from a dark black to a muddy pink.

Mash a couple of tablespoons of chickpeas in the cooking mix and stir. Add the cooked chana and the liquid it was cooking in to the onion-tomato mix and boil on medium till the gravy turns thick, about 20 minutes more.

If using spinach, add at this point. They will turn the gravy even darker. Serve with roti, naan, bread or rice.

Manisha made Rest of the World Chhole.

The chole palak go to Simona of Briciole who is hosting Susan's MLLA #26. 

Before I leave, here's a shout out to Sra, who is there for me via email when I need to bitch about another blogger trend I am not happy with. Check out her blog for some "humor" and some amazing fiction, if you are feeling down and low.

Another shout out to Jacqueline who has started The Food Blog Diary to chronicle the numerous events and giveaways happening in the blogosphere. She graciously put both my events on the blog within hours of receiving my email.

Aug 10, 2010

Tales of a female Nomad

There is no greater irony or joy than to read tales of wanderlust and cooking when confined to bed. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, reading Rita G Gelman’s tales of travelling like a nomad transports you from the cozy comfort of your bed to the pulsating rhythm of a Zepotac village in South America. Not your idea of a vacation? Try renting in Mexico with its vibrant colors and stucco houses. It inspired Gelman to write a children’s book. It just might inspire you to paint or sing or may be wear a bright green blouse. Anything can happen when a nomad follows her instincts, trusts strangers and goes with the flow.

Did I mention, she is almost fifty years old when she embarks on her wanderlust, travelling from one country to another, visiting remote tribes untouched by modern civilization and cooking at communal fires with local women? The nomad falls in love with Bali, Indonesia, and settles down for four years. But the death of her spiritual father and master, prompts her to travel again. She settles again, for a year, in New Zealand, but a nomad isn’t a nomad unless she is moving.

As I write this review, Gelman is still out, travelling, making friends, connecting with locals and living the life of a nomad. Gelman receives kindness and friendship of strangers and gives back in her own unique way; teaching English, writing catalogues for an art gallery or reading her children’s books to kids all over the world.

Forget Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love, which starts out as an adventure in self discovery and ends in an exercise in self-indulgence. Gelman’s Tales of a female nomad shows that self-discovery is about living in someone else’s shoes and discovering your $250 shoes are nothing better than leather and hide.

I wanted to cook the Thai red curry or the coconut fish mousse Gelman learns to make while living in Thailand. My confinement limits me to where I can’t even whip up a salad of tomatoes, cucumbers and onions that she makes for a visiting German couple. So I will leave you with our book club founder, Simran, who made Nasi Goreng.

Still not in a mood to read Tales of a Female Nomad, head on over to Sra's for the third edition roundup of Of Chalks and Chopsticks. It is still food fiction, but not as long as a novel and available online.

There are more book reviews at Food for Thought, hosted by Jain.

Aug 8, 2010

Back to Basics roundup

An idea born out of an impulse turned into a Basic event. I was honored to receive so many entrees and due to personal health problems couldn’t post the roundup earlier. Here it is at last, clubbed into categories. But first, a special mention:

PJ, who likes to seduce our taste buds with her delectable dishes, gets the top billing for sending not one, not two but eight kitchen basics. Her basics are enough to get a novice started on Indian cooking and then some more. So taking a cue from her first entry, we will kick off with

Podis and Chutneys:

PJ’s Kootu Podi is a spice mix for Kootu, and the recipe is her mom’s.

A staple in every South Indian kitchen, PJ’s Milagai Podi is loved by her family and eaten with everything from idlis and dosas to rice.

Another spice mix from PJ, this time a multipurpose mix for those times when the regular podis are out of stock and there is no time to cook a side dish.

A fresh coconut brought back memories of her mom’s chammanthi podi. Swathi tried to recreate it with a recipe from Vanitha magazine and came out a winner.

RC’s talent for cooking appetizing food and clicking gorgeous pictures is surpassed by her generosity. She took time out of her busy schedule to share an old family recipe passed down from her husband’s grandmother. This traditional recipe of Chitranna Gojju, mixed with some warm rice will transport you back to simpler times.

She goes by the letter J and swears by her mom’s green chutney. It is a staple in her kitchen and she pairs it with everything from chaats to dal bhaat.

I have to mention Soma’s radish, cilantro, mint chutney which she entrusted to me before going on vacation. If you haven’t checked this creative lady’s recipes and clicks, you are missing out on a delicious culinary feast she offers every week on her beautiful blog.

Freezing and canning:

If you get an abundance of peas every summer Pari will teach you how to freeze fresh peas so you can enjoy them long after the season is gone.

Her food really rocks and so do her adventures in the mountains. But then she mixed up dates and sent me her tip a month early. Little did she know that her early entry saved me some limes and pennies going down the drain? Check out Manisha’s tip on what to do with sad looking lemons and an awesome margarita recipe.

If blueberries or any other kind of fruits are a scarcity in your part of the world, you may want to freeze some when they go on sale. That’s what Aqua does when she scores a stash. Check out her tips and a delicious recipe for blueberry pancakes.

If pancakes are not up your alley, her hearty mushroom stock certainly is. Find out how Aqua makes a big batch and freezes it for future use.

If you thought freezing stops at stocks, fruits and juices, think again.

Nivedita will show you how to make tomato rasam and freeze it.

Radha asked me if a guest post by her sister-in-law would qualify. It not only qualified but passed with flying colors. Homemade salsa, canned at home and available all year round with the twist of a lid. You bet!

Butters, vegan and non-vegan:

The very first entry, received hours after the event was announced, was sent by the very creative and talented Sunshinemom. Here are her instructions for making coconut butter and cream from scratch. If you don’t have the patience for the extraction process, still head on over to her blog and check out her beautiful clicks.

This second post of Nivedita's goes to show what happens when I make a snarky comment (name one Indie blog that hasn’t posted a recipe on how to make ghee?). She not only made the ghee, she made it from scratch. If, like me, you have been making ghee from butter, you are taking the easy way out. Witness how to collect the cream for a number of days, churn it, make butter, wash it, heat it and reap the rewards of a pot of pure gold goodness that even the gods can’t refuse.

Then PJ sent me her much simpler but fragrant version of making ghee and I had to eat my ghee words. She adds a special touch to her ghee by adding a curry leaf and a few fenugreek seeds. And now I do it too.

Lemons, jackfruits, poppy seeds and filter coffee:

She literally made lemonade when life gave her lemons. With this basic lemonade concentrate, RV relives memories of her childhood vacations at her grandparent’s home and serves a chilled glass of nostalgia in the harsh summer heat.

This master of words didn’t think she had anything to contribute. Then Sra remembered and sent me the instructions for ‘Operation Jackfruit’.

When the master chef and expert event organizer, Srivalli, checks your rules twice before sending an entry you can’t help but feel flattered. Check out her tips for roasting, grinding and storing poppy seeds paste.

Everyone’s favorite Bong Mom, with a song in her heart and magic in her fingers, spins a telling tale of childhood rebellion, ritual and poppy seed fritters. Can you ask for more on a rainy day?

I was in love with filter coffee on the sip. If you are like me, check out Nivedita’s step by step clicks to make the decoction and then prepare a cup of Joe that will give Starbucks a run for its money.

Basic recipes and preps for the Indian kitchen:

Just when my idli batter was refusing to ferment, Niloufer sent this basic idli batter recipe. Check out her creative soccer idlis she made inspired by the world cup.

Diyva’s grandma taught her this basic masoor dal and passed on the secret ingredient to give it that special touch. Head on over to her blog to find out what it is.

She decided to chronicle her basic recipes for her kids when they were no longer content with staying on the other side of the kitchen counter. The Cooker, shares with them how to make rice on the stove top and in the cooker.

If you like bananas but didn't know you could eat their blossoms too, PJ will tell you how to prepare banana blossoms.

Did you know you could also cook the banana stems? Again, PJ will enlighten you how.

Need to blanch tomatoes in a jiffy? PJ will show you her trick. All you need is a microwave, water and some tomatoes.

I almost missed my own event but managed at the last minute with a vegetable stock flavored with fennel, cinammon and cloves, made by him every weekend.

If I have missed one or misplaced an entry, please accept my apology and reach me here or leave a comment below. I will promptly add you to the roundup.

An excellent roundup, already up for a couple of days, is at Sra’s. Pop on over to read some appetizing food fiction Of Chalks and Chopsticks.

Aug 3, 2010

Vegetable Stock for the soul and of Chalks and Chopsticks

If you missed me talking about my tale of tardy and of begging hosts for a couple of days past the deadline, here’s another one for the record. I have been late for my own event. I had grandiose plans of posting not only how to make a basic vegetable stock but how to make pasta at home and toss it with pesto made from home grown basil.

All I have managed before the grace period (Aug 5th) expires is to post this robust vegetable stock which has the distinction of being made by him. It is a part of his weekend ritual to chop and dice carrots, celery, onions and any other veggies that may have been left over from the week. He will then proceed to make a simple stock that will last us a week. 

Unlike store bought stocks, you can adjust the amount of salt you put in and this is a fat-free version of the more buttery stocks, where the veggies are first sautéed in butter before being boiled in water.

I have never frozen the stock because it gets added to soups, dals, risottos, curries, khichdis and pulaos I make for the family over the week. The picky eater is unaware that the khichdi he is eating has concentrates from carrots, celery, mushrooms and onions.

Here’s his (not the kid but the spouse) simple but delicious vegetable stock that adds a layer of flavor to everything it gets added to.

Vegetable Stock (adapted from the book, Zuppe, Risotti, Polenta!)

1 medium onion, chopped in big pieces
1 carrot or 8-10 baby carrots (chop the big carrots in 3-4 pieces)
2 celery stalks, chopped in fours
A few stalks of cilantro (optional)
Leftover veggies like spinach, greens of every kind, broccoli, mushrooms, peas and cabbage.*

Whole spices: (add more of the following for a spicier version)
4-6 black peppercorns
1-2 cloves
1/2 stick of cinnamon
1 tsp of fennel seeds
1 bay leaf (optional)

Put all the ingredients together in 4 ½ pints of lightly salted water. Bring to a gentle boil, lower the heat and simmer for an hour. The stock will reduce and get a dark tinge brown to tan, depending on the veggies used.

Let cool, before straining and transferring to air tight containers. Keep in the refrigerator for up to ten days. I always use up the stock by the then so I can’t vouch for the stocks fridge shelf life. If you do not have immediate plans to use it all up, freeze it in ice cube trays. Once frozen, remove and transfer to a freezer container or Ziploc bag.

*Avoid starchy vegetables like potatoes and do not overdo the broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower, for obvious reasons.

Other vegetable stock recipes:

Aqua’s Mushroom Stock
Sunshinemom’s Vegetable Stock


Of Chalks and Chopsticks

If you are wondering why I am announcing two events in the same month, in back to back posts, I chalk it to my obsession with multi-tasking and my inability to be organized. I had committed to hosting Global Kadai at the beginning of the year and promptly forgot about it. And how could I not get obsessed with Chalks and Chopsticks? I was itching to host it since it started and so I begged the trio who started it all. The three gracious ladies,  Aqua, Sra and Bong Mom , agreed to pass the baton on to me and there was no way I was going to pass it up. Since the announcement is three days into the month, I will take some self-imposed liberty and make the deadline three days late, or better still five days, just so it is easy to remember.

If you haven’t heard of (and I can’t imagine you not having heard of it by now) Of Chalks and Chopsticks, let me clue you in. This is a monthly event, conceived by Aqua and calls for food inspired fiction or fiction inspired by food, whichever way you want to looks at it, from bloggers and non-bloggers alike. Here are the rules:

Send in your entries at this address by September 5th.

The subject line should say: Of Chalks and Chopsticks – 4

The email should provide:

The Blogger’s name

Title and URL of the post

Some information, borrowed from earlier editions

The writing should be original, i.e. yours.

There is no word limit or theme – you can write on anything as long as the story has food as a centerpiece. That is, a food related/ themed story.

The story could be based on real life, just make it sound like a story and not a regular post.

Old posts are accepted but a new one is always more exciting.

These posts can be shared with other events.

Link you post to this and Aqua’s post.

PS: This is not a part of the original rules but I will make one anyway. Try to pen an intelligent, cogent piece of writing, even if it is just a paragraph. If you have a great story idea but are not sure of your writing skills or coherence of the story, send it to me or one of the writers for a look over. We can give you suggestions and help you out the best we can. And please, keep the use of excessive exclamations out!

For inspiration and some excellent stories, stay tuned for Sra's roundup.

Aug 1, 2010

A tale of independence, Baingan Bharta and Global Kadai

Mrs. Mohini Kamath was chopping a mountain of onions while the two big eggplants cooked in the oven. She brushed away the tears trickling down her face and started on the garlic. She always liked to mince the garlic with some chopped onions mixed in. With the heat of the oven, the tiny apartment had become cozy and she started humming a Bollywood tune as she washed the tomatoes and started chopping them.

Aren’t we in a good mood?” she said to herself as she peeked into the oven to see if the eggplants were charred. She decided to give it a few more minutes before she turned off the oven. “They won’t have the same smoky flavor as back home but it is better than cooking it in the microwave,” she had explained to Naina the first time she oiled and put the eggplants in the oven.

Naina didn’t know how to cook. All she managed in the mornings, before Mrs. Kamath arrived at her apartment was a weak cup of tea. “I have to give it to that girl. She listens when I tell her something which is more than I can say of my own flesh and blood.”  She remembered how she had told Naina to grate some ginger in the tea and boil it a little longer. Now, stepping in from the harsh winter outside, Mrs. Kamath arrived to a hot, steaming cup of adrak wali chai (ginger tea).

My own daughter-in-law never offered me a glass of water,” she thought as she took some wheat flour and started kneading it with water. She did not realize she had stopped humming and was kneading the dough with a ferocity that would have surprised her if she could have seen herself.

It was ironic, she thought, how a cup of tea offered by stranger could make her feel appreciated. “Is that what happens when your family disappoints you?” she wondered.

“Aunty, this is so yummy!” Naina had come looking for her in her room. “How did she know I made the food?” She could overhear the guests appreciating the food she had slaved over all day, crispy Aloo Tikkis, spicy Baingan Bharta, creamy Aloo Dum, hearty Palak Paneer, subtly flavored jeera rice, Vegetable Pulao and cardamom infused Shikhand.

She waited for her son or his wife (that’s how she thought of her nowadays) to tell everyone that she had made the food. But all she heard was her daughter-in-laws’ “Thank you,” in that exaggerated accent she put on in front of company, as if she was the one who made all that food.

“Why are you in your room Aunty? Come out and meet everybody,” Naina had implored her. How could Mrs. Kamath tell her that she had been instructed by her son to stay in her room till the party was over and all his friend’s had gone home? She wanted to believe it was “his wife’s” instructions he was following, but she knew that it was as much her son’s wish as hers.

“Ma, you must be tired after all the cooking. Why don’t you rest in your room while the party is on? You will get bored anyways,” he had said but she knew what it really meant: “You are good enough to cook the food but not meet my friends.” She had been banished with a movie to watch on the small television in her room. Now, this strange girl had strolled into her room with a knock and was asking her to come out.

Na beti (daughter), I am tired. I want to watch this movie and then go to bed,” she had tried to muster a smile but her lips failed her.

“That’s ok aunty, I understand,” Naina had said with a knowing look and went away.

She had come back a few days later, when Mrs. Kamath was alone in the afternoon. “Aunty, I was in the neighborhood and thought I will check on you. May I come in?” she had asked.

Eager for company and a friendly voice she had let her in. Over a cup of tea Naina told her what she had come for.

“I know I am asking you this behind your son’s back but if I asked him, he would just turn me down. I was wondering if you would cook for me and my husband. We both work long hours and we love your cooking. We will pay you $600 a month,” Naina had said.

Mrs. Kamath had never in her life thought she would cook for other people for a living. She had lived a comfortable, middle class life in India, taking care of the house and raising a son while her husband worked. She had never felt the need to work the way some of her friends did, delegating cooking and household chores to maids. Then, she had looked down her nose at them. “That is karma for you,” she thought. If two years ago someone had told her she would be living in this foreign land and considering cooking for young couples who did not have the time or know-how to cook, she would have scoffed.

After her husband’s death, she had started to feel lonely and when her son asked her to move to US with his family, Mrs. Kamath accepted immediately. It took her all of six month to convert her savings to dollars, sell off the house and move into her son’s house.

“What a mistake that was,” she muttered as she remembered how her status in her son’s house had been reduced to that of a maid who cooked, cleaned and laundered. If only her son had more time to sometimes sit with her and chat. Or if the grandkids would gather around her and hear the stories she had wanted to share. Instead, they would go from school, to different activities and in their free time watch TV rather than spend time with their “old” grandma.

“What do you think, Aunty?” Naina’s voice had brought her back from her reverie. “Like you said beti, I don’t think my son would like that,” she had replied with a tight smile.

“Will you at least think about it?” Naina had asked her before leaving.

It had taken several months for Mrs. Kamath to finally decide to leave her son’s house. In the end, she figured she might as well get paid and appreciated for what she did for free every day.

But before she could leave, she had to learn how to drive. Mrs. Kamath smiled as she thought of the day she had asked her son to teach her how to drive. “Beta (son), then you or bahu won’t have to bother with groceries and supplies,” she had reasoned. She had surprised herself with her guile. Once she had her driver’s license her independence would be complete.

Naina and her husband, Ajit, had helped her get a cheap apartment and a few of their friends had hired her as a cook. She brought Ajit’s ten year old reliable car and she was all set to embark on her new journey.

She had figured out that with her savings and her income from cooking for a few families, she could live comfortably. On weekends, she had started babysitting, not only to supplement her income but also to while away her time.

Her son and daughter-in-law were not happy at what they perceived was her desertion. “What will people think?” was her daughter-in-law’s concern. Her son tried to dissuade her in his own way. “How are you going to manage by yourself? You don’t know enough English to get by. Why do you want to leave?”

How could she tell this son of hers why she wanted to leave and be on her own? All her life she had always put the interests of others before her and she had been happy to do it, or so she thought. Here, in this land, away from relatives and friends, she finally had a chance to try it out on her own. She wanted to do what she liked doing best but with dignity and respect. Mrs. Kamath knew her son wouldn’t understand. She could only hope that one day he would. Till then, she had the baingan bharta to finish.
(End of fiction)

This piece of fiction, written for Of Chalks and Chopsticks, conceived by Aqua and hosted by Sra, is based on some of the older women I have come across in the US. They work here as cooks and nannies. For many of them, food is the only tie that connects them to their roots back home.

Mrs. Kamath’s Baingan Bharta (eggplant mash)

1 large eggplant
1 tsp of cumin seeds
1 tsp of turmeric powder
1 big onion, chopped fine
1 green chili, chopped fine
5-6 cloves of garlic, minced fine
1/2 tablespoon of ginger-garlic paste
2 medium sized tomatoes, chopped fine
1 tsp of dhana-jeera powder (cumin-coriander)
1 tsp of garam masala
A handful of peas (optional)
Cilantro for garnish

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Oil the eggplant, put it on a cookie sheet lined with foil and bake it in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Turn off the oven and leave the eggplant in the cooling oven.

Heat a couple of tablespoon of oil in a heavy skillet. On medium heat, add the cumin and turmeric, stir for a minute till the turmeric starts smelling fragrant.

Add the green chili and chopped onions. Cook till onions turn translucent, about 5-8 minutes on medium heat. Halfway through, add the chopped garlic and the ginger-garlic paste.

Toss in the garam masala and dhana jeera powder as the ginger-garlic paste starts giving off a delicious aroma. Stir for a few minutes before adding the peas and the tomatoes. Cover and cook till the tomatoes are mushy and the peas are tender.

Meanwhile, take the eggplants out of the oven and gently peel off the charred skin. The oil should make it easy to peel. Chop the skinless eggplant, making it as mushy as possible.

Add this to the cooking tomato-onion-peas mix. Add salt and cook for another ten minutes before turning off the heat.

Garnish with chopped cilantro and some lime. Serve with chapattis or rice.


July has not only been one of the hottest months in our neck of the woods, it also has been a busy month for me. I have been constantly falling behind in my posts. This story should have been up and running by 31st of July but since I was running late, Sra graciously let me submit it before she did the roundup. If you liked my story and want to read an excellent piece of fiction on first love, head on over to her blog.

Speaking of which, my roundup for the B2B event will be up after the 5th of this month. So, if you have any last minute entrees, send them in.

Is it against the protocol to announce another event before the roundup? I don’t know, but Cilantro’s Global Kadai rules stipulate that I announce it on the first of August. So sticking to the rules of the host, I would like to challenge you to Indianize tofu. There is a wide array of possibilities here, for example, substituting paneer with tofu to make palak tofu or making tofu stuffed paranthas instead of aloo paranthas. If you live in a part of the world where access to tofu is limited or nil, try making your own, like this. With so much creativity out there, I am pretty sure there will be some great recipes. Here are the simple rules:

1. Make an Indian recipe using tofu as the main or one of the ingedients.

2. Include a link back to this post and to Cilantro's original post.

3. Make sure the recipe is an original one. If it is adapted from another blog or a recipe book, give it its due credit and link.

4. The last date for submission is September 1st. If you are late by a couple of days, email me at this address. If I haven't posted the roundup, I will accept and include your entry.

5. Older posts are welcome as long as you link them to this event announcement and Cilantro's. No need to repost them.

6. Don't have a blog, but have a great recipe to share? Email it on the above address with your name, location and the name of the dish. You will get your name on the blog and we will get another recipe for our collection.

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