Showing posts with label Side dish. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Side dish. Show all posts

Aug 24, 2011

Kindergarten Chronicles and Sprouting Arbi Fry

Past few days have been an emotional roller coaster for me. My five and a half year old started kindergarten yesterday and last week was spent preparing for school, buying school supplies, going to meet the teacher, going to buy new clothes… Every day was a reminder that my baby is growing up, fast.

When I could not find clothes for him in the toddler section, I ventured into the ‘big boy’ section. No more cute T-shirts with “Mommy’s Boy” written on them. From now on it was all solids, stripes and plaids. I almost cried on the floor of the shop except I remembered that he still liked his Toy Story backpack and I had to go look for a matching lunch box.

Fortunately, I found the TS lunch box while shopping for school supplies. Once the mile long list of markers, pencils, erasers, folders and notebooks was done, I was back at home preparing for his first day of school. Lunch was agreed upon, a PB&J sandwich, pencil box filled according to the teacher’s specification and clean socks and clothes were ironed and ready for next day.
Sprouting Taro: my entry to Susan's B&W Wednesdays

Amidst the weak long running around, I totally overlooked the arbi (taro root) lying in the pantry. It is a vegetable reserved for the kid's dad, just like this one is. In Maharashtrian households, arbi is called alu and the stir fry alu chi bhaji.  The picky eater that I was, I never did take to it.  My mom would cook it with some potatoes thrown in to camaflouge the arbi.

As an adult, my fondness for arbi stops at the musty, earthy smell that emanates from it. Unlike bhindi (okra), it is not a sticky vegetable when raw. But boil the little spuds and the starch oozes out and seeps into the water it is boiled in.  From there, it is all downhill – peeling, chopping, stir frying is a big sticky mess. The good news is that with enough frying, the stickiness goes away and the vegetable turns crispy with a meaty bite to it, not unlike crispy, stir fried boiled potatoes.

To avoid the stickiness of the arbi, you can do one of the following two things:

1. Peel, chop and stir fry the raw arbi roots. It will take longer to cook through but you will avoid a sticky mess on the chopping board and the knife.
2. Do what I do and par-boil the arbi. It will still be sticky but not as much, plus it will cook faster.

Alu chi bhaji / Arbi Stiry Fry

5-6 arbi roots
1 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp ajwain seeds (carom seeds)
1/2 tsp asafetida powder
1 tsp red chili powder
Salt to taste
Wash and remove as much outer fibers as possible. In a microwave proof shallow container cover the arbi roots with enough water. On high power, zap for five to six minutes. Let cool and peel the skin. Cut into thin half moons or quarter moons.

Heat a non-stick pan with a tablespoon of oil. Turn the heat to medium low and add the turmeric powder, carom seeds and asafetida powder. Give it a quick stir, taking care not to burn the carom seeds. Add the red chili powder and the cut quarter moons. Mix in the arbi with spices so that the arbi is coated evenly with turmeric powder. Add salt and cook till done through and crispy.

Serve with whole wheat tortillas or as a side with rice.

Apr 21, 2011

Business of being busy and an easy okra stir fry

This week has been busier than usual for me. Since it is Easter this Friday, the kid’s school had an Easter egg hunt on Monday. For the uninitiated, the hunt involves each kid carrying about a dozen candy filled plastic eggs to school and handing them over to the teacher. The teacher collects all the eggs, scatters them in the playground and lets the kids loose to hunt for a dozen eggs. One hopes that the kid doesn’t come back with the same eggs he turned in the first place. I ended up filling up two dozen of the multicolored ovals, because the kid got invited to a friend’s backyard Easter egg hunt the very next day.
 Eggs, eggs and more eggs.

Maybe it’s just me, but the last thing a five year old needs is two dozen candy filled eggs. Thankfully, my kid cares only for the occasional bouncy ball that may find its way in one of the eggs. The candy, he just dumps out or shares it with his friends.
If two Easter egg hunts weren’t exciting enough, we finally finished staining and filling up the 6x6 sandbox that he finished building last week. It had been sitting empty for almost a week before our good neighbors helped us haul 33 bags of sand back home. After an hour of hauling and emptying the 50 lb bags, the sandbox was full, the kid was happy and we were exhausted.
Yes, it is as big as it looks! (6X6)
No dinner was cooked that day. We had some eggs and bread, the kid a rava bhakri, which will be a post for another day. Today, after another exhausting day of dentist appointment, bathroom cleaning and carting the kid to and fro from school, the dinner was simple. The kid had dosas with leftover dal from the morning. He got a vegetable Panini for me from his office canteen which I had with some guacamole that he made and a few asparagus that I stir fried on the skillet.

For him, I made bhendi chi kurkurit bhaji (stir fried crispy okra). I say for him, because I have never liked the slimy vegetable, even though it turns crunchy and not-at-all-slimy when cooked to a crisp on slow to medium flame. But he likes it, so every so often I will pick up a bunch of okra for him. He likes it with a little bit more oil than usual and with lots of caramelized onions. So that’s how I make it.

Bhendi, Bhindi, Okra, ladyfinger. A cross-section of the slimy veggie

Do you see a pattern here that I mentioned in my last post, about doing things for each other? Though I have to admit, cooking okra this way is ridiculously simple, with just red chili powder and salt to spice it up. However, I am told that the sweetness of the caramelized onions and the crisp bite of the okra is a divine combination. My brother and sister swear by it and so does my better half. So, I give you bhendi chi kurkurit bhaji, which loosely translates to crispy stir fried okra.
I do have a few tips at the end of the post to get the crisp okra that is so desired but so easy to mess up into a slimy sludge. So do read them carefully before you go chopping and stirring some okra and onions in your pan.
Bhendichi Kurkurit Bhaji
1-2 tblsps oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red chili powder
1 cups of chopped onion, preferably red
2 cups of okra, cut into thin circles or slim stripes
Salt to taste

Heat oil in a wide pan and add the mustard seeds. As they start to sputter, lower the heat, add the turmeric powder and stir. Quickly add the red chili powder and the chopped onions, followed by the okra.
Our goal here is to minimize stirring in order to prevent possible sliminess that may occur. Sprinkle salt to taste, gently stir everything and cook uncovered on medium low flame for 20-25 minutes or till cooked through and crispy. Stir in between as needed. Serve with chappatis, dal and rice.

Try to stir the okra as little as possible. The more you stir, the slimier it will get.
Do not and I repeat, Do Not, cover the pan at any stage of cooking the okra. It will get slimy.
Try to use a pan with a bigger surface area so as not to crowd the okra and subsequently steam it. The less crowded it is, the less slimy it will be.
Don’t put any water or liquids of any sort in the pan.

Apr 15, 2011

Made for each other – Lauki and Chana

This post was waiting to be written for the last few days and not the least because I am hosting MLAA-34. As a host, it would be rude of me not to cook a legume based dish. Yet, every time I sat down to write, some distraction would occupy me before I had to call it a night. Yesterday, it was this rant of Sandeepa over at Bong Mom's Cookbook. She took the words out of my mouth when she questioned why women swoon over a husband who does simple chores around the house and call the woman he is married to lucky.

As one of those “lucky woman” I can tell you, my better half does do a lot around the house, from making the weekly vegetable stock, to making the daily morning tea, unloading the dishwasher and cooking the  occasional risotto. But he does the chores around the house for the same reasons I do the rest of the drudge work and duties of a chauffeur, teacher and entertainer for our five year old. It is a marriage and a partnership where everyone pitches in to the best of their abilities.
As a gesture of appreciation for all that I do around the house, he tries to keep the work stations clean and dishes to a minimum when he cooks. I, on the other hand, cook his favorite vegetables, as and when it suits my fancy. Like lauki (bottle gourd) cooked with chana dal, which incidentally is also my favorite way of eating this bland vegetable. I like my chana to have a bite to it but since he likes his mushy, I make a concession for him and pressure cook the concoction to his liking. I do draw the line at his mom’s bhakri which is a thick tortilla made with stiff dough of whole wheat flour mixed with turmeric, red chili powder and plenty of oil. It takes a lot of muscle to roll out those delicious rounds of dough and after one try, I decided I did not care much for making them.
Bottle Gourd

Lauki, dudhi, bottlegourd.

The lauki chana dal sabzi, on the other hand, is quick, almost fool proof and is a “made-for-each-other-combo”. At least that is what I wrote when Manisha put up her photo of lauki dal on Facebook and my comment got an instant ‘like’ for it. So Susan, here is, hopefully, the first of my at least two submissions to your brilliant event.

Lauki Chana Dal

4 cups of lauki , peeled and cut into bite size chunks
1/4 cup chana dal, soaked in water for at least 2-3 hours
1 small tomato, cut into chunks
1/2 vegetable stock or water

For tadka or tempering:
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp asafetida
4-5 cloves of garlic, minced fine
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp dhana-jeera (cumin coriander) powder
1 tsp garam masala or sabzi masala
Pinch of sugar
Salt to taste

Heat 1/2 tbsp of oil in a 3 or 4ltr pressure cooker. Add the cumin seeds, asafetida and minced garlic. Turn down the heat so the garlic cooks and softens but does not burn. Add the turmeric; stir it till the raw smell turns fragrant.
Drain the water from the chana dal and toss it in the garlic, cumin, and turmeric infused oil. Add a dash of salt, stir, and let cook for two minutes. Add the red chili powder, dhana-jeera and garam masal. Stir and add the chopped tomatoes. Cover and cook on medium heat till the tomatoes get mushy.

Bottle Gourd

Cross section of dudhi/ lauki/ bottlegourd.
Courtesy: Indianfoodrocks
Add the chopped lauki, salt to taste, mix everything gently. Add the vegetable stock and bring everything to a gentle boil. Put on the lid and pressure cook for one whistle.
Wait for the pressure to subside, transfer the dal lauki to a serving bowl, garnish with coriander and serve with rotis.
Note: The spice proportions are what work for me. However, lauki being a bland vegetable as well of varying sizes, feel free to add more of the red chili or garam masala if you like it spicier. The above proportions are for the big lauki I had, which yielded four cups chopped.

If, for some reason, you do not own a pressure cooker, cook the lauki and chana dal in a lidded pot. Cook till the chana dal is tender and the lauki is cooked through.

A reader of mine in India once wrote to me that she found my baingan bharta bland because she followed the exact spice proportion in the recipe. I will reiterate what I told her, “Taste buds in our family are somewhat dulled from living in the US. Always go with your normal proportion and gut when adding spices and/or heat to any recipe on this blog, unless stated otherwise.” So, go ahead, don’t hesitate before adding that extra pinch of garam masala.

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.

Dec 30, 2009

The year errr… nine months in review

In an ideal world my last post of the year would have also been my 100th post. But my world is anything but ideal so even though I was reaching hard for a century, I fell short by four posts.

As I write this post, there has been a second helping of snow in Texas. Technically, this is the third time it has snowed but the first time it was just for a few hours. The second time we had snow flurries the whole day and when it stopped the snow stayed on the next day. We had enough to make a snowman and have a snowball fight. Of course, we didn’t do it cause it was cozy and warm inside.

But I digress. Coming back to my eight months in review that starts in the month of April. I remember it was the beginning of spring and I felt it was a good day to start a blog. Of course, like all things I do in my life, I did not give it much thought but jumped right in.

I was on a high after having mastered the art of making sabudana khichdi from a friend just days ago. I was making it every weekend and felt like sharing the secret to a non-sticky sabudana khichdi with the world. The picture was taken as an afterthought on the dining table, with my son’s toys scattered around.
A few other random recipes followed, some with pictures, some without. I was yet unaware of all the other amazing food blogs out there.  I just went exploring through the ‘Next Blog’ button. That is how I chanced on Dips’ Centaur Cooks. Through her, I found Vaishali’s wonderful, passionately vegan blog, Holy Cow, Recipes from a Vegan Kitchen.
Following few comments led to Supriya’s tasteful Red Chillis and the Holy Grail of Indie blogs, Jai and Bee’s Jugalbandi. Jugalbandi's monthly photo event was one highlight of my monthly posts as I tried to take better pictures every month. I am most proud of this one:

Of course, RC’s Food World blog aggregator introduced me to a whole new world of blogging. One blog led to another and soon I was chasing blogs like one tries to count the stars. In the end, I had to curb my enthusiasm and detox myself of the wonderful but addictive world of blogging.

By then I had also found the world of food events and there came a time when everything I posted was with the intent of entering in an event. I become obsessed with it to the point of exhaustion. You just have to look at the months of June and July. I was in full swing, with every post geared towards an event.

Thankfully, I got out of that phase quickly. Now, I do enter a few events but I don’t stress myself out.
August was the result of my putting on a few pounds and logging my eating habits for the whole world to see.
By the end of that month, I was spent and two pounds lighter. I was also learning to relax with my posts and not try to force myself to write.
September was the month to brew some old memories and long forgotten recipes, not to mention two cathartic rants.

October saw fewer posts but by then I was no longer worried about posting something every couple of days and was taking my time with each post.
I had discovered Sra’s witty blog When my soup came alive and Manisha’s Indian Food Rocks the previous month. It was Diwali time by then and a total of my seven posts had either Diwali recipes or an entry for Sra’s unique The Write Taste event. Rock on Sra!
I would have completed the 100 post mark in mid December if I had been more active in November (only 4 posts!). But I was busy with going back to school (College for non USA reader), my final papers and presentation.

I even missed my monthly book club review, This Book Makes Me Cook, that I had been religiously doing every month since July. It is a wonderful group of bloggers, headed by Simran of Bombay Foodie, who choose and review a book at the end of each month. We also try to create a recipe based on the book. If you would like to join our book club, drop a line to Simran or any of the other members and we will welcome you with open arms.

December started with only 10 posts to go and a steely resolve to hit the century.  Of course, the gods of fate conspired with a fun filled family holiday spent visiting children’s science and history museum and planning for my son’s fourth birthday.
So here I am, at the end of December, with four more posts to go but no more days left in the month.
It was still worth it though, making friends over the blog and meeting them on FB. Finding out about networked blogs (Thank you Vaishali) and trying to take better pictures of the food.

I will be remiss if I don’t mention a very witty blogger and now a good friend, Ann of Split Pear Personality. I met her through the book club (correct me if I am wrong Ann) a few months ago. If any one can make a recipe read funny it is Ann. Check out her left over Shepherd's Pie or the Counterfeit Appams.
Last but not the least, a special mention goes to Sangeeta of Banaras ka khanna, who despite personal adversity cooks delicious, regional foods from her kitchen in Delhi and puts it on her blog for the world to benefit from. You are a hero Sangeeta. Keep on blogging and smiling.
This brings us to the end of my post which is being shipped off hurriedly to Srivalli’s Best of the Year, just before the deadline ends.
Hopefully, the next two weeks will see me hit the century post.
Here's wishing everyone a very happy and prosperous 2010.

Nov 26, 2009

Sprouted whole Moong Usal

And how to sprout moong beans?

One hot, humid day, I forgot to grind my soaked moong dal rice mix and it sat on the counter the whole day. The next day I found my whole moong was sprouting tiny buds. So, I grinded the mix for my dosa and then proceeded to soak some more sprouted moong dal for my usal (not to be confused with usual).

The process of sprouting beans/ legumes is easy but does take time so planning a day or two ahead is necessary. Here is the easy 1-2-3 step to sprouting beans (okay, so there are more than three steps to doing this. But it is still easy).

1. Soak in plenty of water for 8 – 10 hours or overnight.
I used 3 cups of water to soak 1/2 cups of moong beans

2. Drain all the water. The beans will have doubled in volume and become plump and soft.

3. Take a damp cotton towel/ dish cloth and dump the moong beans in the center. Loosely wrap the ends around, put it in a covered pot and keep it in a dark, warm place (ex. under the stove top, in the oven or covered by a bigger pot).
4. Forget about it for 24 – 30 hours.

5. Take out the bean pot, open the dish cloth and behold glorious sprouted moong or any other beans of your choice.

You may be tempted to ask, “Why go through the trouble of sprouting the beans?” and here’s my answer. The benefits of sprouting beans are many. The sprouting process not only doubles the volume of the beans it also increases the vitamin, mineral and protein content of beans and decreases the calories and carbohydrate content. Plus they taste good even raw. So go ahead and sprout some beans today and cook them the usal way.

The usal is just a simple sauté of onions, garlic and tomatoes with some garam masala thrown in for good measure. For the purist in search of the authentic, adding a little grated coconut will achieve the desired result. I usually omit it in pursuit of retaining the earthy flavor of the moong beans.
Supriya of Red Chilies recently posted this version of cooking moong beans which is also super easy and tastes delicious.

1/2 cup moong beans, sprouted
1 small onion, chopped fine
1 tomato, chopped fine
2-4 garlic cloves
1 tbsp grated coconut (optional)
1 small potato, chopped into cubes (optional)
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp turmeric
1 green chili, chopped fine
1 tsp garam masala
Cilantro for garnish

Grind the onion, coconut (if using), tomato and garlic cloves.
Heat a tablespoon of oil in the small, 3 liter pressure cooker. Alternatively, use a pan with a tight fitting lid. Add the mustard seeds and lower the heat when they start popping.
Add the cumin seeds, green chilli, turmeric powder and garam masala. Let it cook for 30 sec before adding the onion-tomato paste.
Cook till the raw smell of onions turns fragrant and the watery paste turns thick. This should take about 10 min on medium flame.
Add the sprouted moong beans, adjust the water and put the cooker lid on. Turn off the heat after one whistle.

If using a pan, add the tight fitting lid and cook for about 20 minutes or till the beans are cooked through but not mushy.
Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with chopped cilantro. The usal can be eaten as a side with dal and rotis or as a main dish with rotis.

Notes: If cooking in a pressure cooker, make sure to turn the heat off after one whistle. If not the beans will still taste good but will not hold their shape and will be mushy.

If using, add the cubed potato before adding the onion-tomato paste. Coat it with the spices and cook for a few minutes.

The sprouted moong bean usal goes to Susan's MLLA-17, currently hosted by Sra of When My Soup came Alive.

Sep 20, 2009

Growing pains and stuffing Anaheim peppers

As an angst ridden (read dramatic) teenager in the late 80s, I had a volatile relationship with my mother. I was in the “know it all” phase and sensitive to any remark or objection from my mother. The arrogance of youth and the inherent need to rebel would bring the worst out of me at the slightest provocation. I would take it as a personal attack on my right as an enlightened youth. I picked up quarrels with my mom at the drop of a hat and went without talking to her for days on end or giving her the cold shoulder.

As I saw it, it was my right to rebel. If she suggested I wear bright colors I would fill my wardrobe with grey and beige. Looking back on those days, I shudder to think the kind of hell I must have unleashed on my mom – demanding freedom but not wanting the responsibilities that came with it. I had yet to learn to embrace humility that is so essential to earn respect.

During that ‘difficult’ phase my mother would try to teach me basics of cooking, since I was of that “age” (how she found the patience or the desire for it, is beyond me). Initially I rebelled because I didn’t want to be one of those girls who excelled at cooking from an early age and settled down to a life of domesticity. In my day dreams, I had a higher purpose in life; I wanted to do something worthy of leaving an impact on future generations. If only that girl could peek into the future… Today the most impact I can hope is to have on my progeny, who is as rebellious, if not more, as me.

Ever since I became a mom, I have a renewed appreciation and admiration for all that my mom did for us three siblings. Between juggling a full time job and bringing up three kids she would try to find innovative ways to make us, especially me, eat a variety of vegetables. Stuffing Anaheim peppers with potatoes was one of her more successful recipes and she would make it as often as time would permit. Stuffing the peppers was my job and I saw it as her way of gently easing me into the drudgery of cooking.

Sulking, I would sit on the kitchen floor, stuffing the peppers and muttering under my breath. Secretly, I enjoyed the process of neatly cutting a slit along one of the edges, deseeding the peppers and then stuffing them with the prepared potatoes. There was a rhythm to the production and I didn’t want to acknowledge it but I loved the food prep. I suspect my mom knew it too.
Last few years have been a blur of establishing a married life, starting a family, house hunting, acquiring stuff and raising a kid. My mom and I are best friends and rarely argue over trivial issues.
Now I am trying to ease my son into eating veggies other than potatoes. I take him grocery shopping at Sprouts FM and it is a lot of fun to see him point out all the veggies and fruits. The fact that he helps me pick them does not in any way hamper his resolution to not try them.
When I saw the peppers in the store I thought of my mom wondering that first time, many years ago, what she could do to make me eat it. I could envision the sizzle of the peppers roasting in the kadhai and the sweet peppery smell of the charring skin signaling dinner time. I wondered if my son would try them and decided not to push my luck.
Traditionally in the north the peppers are stuffed with kneaded chickpea flour but potatoes are sometimes stuffed as an alternative. The peppers were spotted and cooked shortly after Manisha announced her IFC: Memories event. I knew I had the perfect memory (admission of guilt?) to ship off to her along with the basket of mangoes (Dare I add a smiley Manisha?).
This is also one of the many apologies, long overdue, to my mom for my brattish behavior.

4 – 5 anaheim peppers
1/2 tbsp of olive oil

For the stuffing:
4 – 5 potatoes, boiled and mashed
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tbsp red chili powder
Salt to taste

In a kadhai or wok heat ½ tbsp of oil, turn the heat to low and add turmeric, fennel seeds and red chili powder. You want the raw taste of turmeric to turn fragrant before adding the mashed potatoes. Add salt and combine. If the potatoes are tinged yellow all over, you know the salt and chili have been incorporated.
Cut each pepper in three pieces and slice lengthwise. Deseed the end pieces and keep aside.
Let the potato sabzi cool down a little before stuffing the peppers.

Heat a non stick skillet or pan with a wide flat bottom. Add ½ tbsp of oil and swirl it around to coat before adding the stuffed peppers. You don’t want the peppers to overlap and steam. The goal here is to char the skins all over or as much as you can. So do it in two or three batches.

Cook the peppers in a single layer on medium heat, turning them around every few minutes as the skins start charring. I like to crisp the potato sabzi which is sticking out the slit end because that is the best part and I save it up to eat last.

Once all the peppers are charred and cooked, transfer to a serving dish and serve with toor dal and rotis.

My son stuck to his resolve and did not try it. Come to think of it I should have spiked it with his khichdi. That’s what my mom would have done.

The stuffed peppers also go to IVW: Indian currently hosted by Erbe in Cucina and the brainchild of Vaishali of Holy Cow.

Sep 9, 2009

Green beans and moong dhal sabzi

Serves 4 as a main dish and 6 as a side dish
In our marriage, T prefers sabjzis and I am happy to have bowls of dhal to eat with rotis or rice. He is not a fussy eater but it has taken a lot of prodding on his part for me to start eating more than the few veggies (read potatoes,, spinach, fenugreek, cauliflower and peas) I have eaten since childhood. When he ate this green beans sabzi at a friend’s house he asked me to get the recipe. Of course I had to tweak it a little by adding some split moong dal* and the result made us both happy.
1/4 cup split moong dal
1 lbs frozen French cut green beans or 2 cups of fresh green beans, cleaned and chopped
1 tsp black mustard seeds (rai)
1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
1 tsp turmeric powder (haldi)
1 tsp asafetida powder (hing)
1 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp Everest sabzi masala
Salt to taste
Wash the moon dal three times and soak it in double the amount of water for half an hour. The dal should plump up a little. Discard the water and keep aside.
Heat a tablespoon of oil in a karahi and add mustard seeds. As they start to pop lower the heat and add cumin seeds, turmeric, asafetida and red chili. Roast it for a few seconds before adding the moong dal. The dal will start to plump up in the oil. Add some salt and roast for about five minutes before adding the green beans. Add the sabzi masala and salt. Mix the dal and beans together, cover with a lid and cook for 15 minutes before turning off the heat. Serve with rotis and curry.
*Note: The amount of moong dal can be cut in half or a few tablespoons if you prefer the beans over the dal.
I am sending this off to Susan's brainchild MLLA – 15 being hosted by Sia of Monsoon Spice and to Vikki’s Side dish with chappati event.

Aug 12, 2009

Weight Watching: Day Three

Click here for Day Two

I usually eat two rotis for lunch and dinner but today I had enough dough left over from the night before to make only one. Also, I have started brushing my teeth once I have finished a meal. It helps me not crave snacks between meals besides keeping my breath minty fresh.

Breakfast: One cup of tea, a hardboiled egg and a cup of cereal (1/4 cup raisin bran and 3/4 cup cheerios with one cup of 1 % milk).
Lunch: One roti with left over batata ros (potatoes in onion tomato gravy), half a cup of homemade yogurt with a teaspoon of sugar. A few pieces of watermelon for dessert craving.
Evening Tea: 1 cup of tea with 2 tsps of sugar.
Dinner: Two rotis with toor dal and broccoli, potato sabzi. Half a cup of yogurt with a teaspoon of sugar.
Exercise: 20 min brisk walk around the neighborhood, again in flip flops.
Dessert: A nectarine before flossing and brushing teeth.

Potato broccoli sabzi (stir fry)
Serves : 2 as a side dish and 4 as a main dish.
This is a very simple Indian style of making stir fry in which, unlike the Chinese stir fry, the vegetable are cooked tender. You can interchange cauliflower and broccoli; add peas and any other left over vegetables in the fridge. I had an orange bell pepper and some button mushrooms left over. The spices are not many and when I cook a couple of different veggies together, I like to add the salt and masala powder in increments to each veggie as it goes in the pan. This way all the veggies get spiced up equally.
2 potatoes, diced into small cubes
1 bell pepper, cut into long stripes
1-2 cups of broccoli, chopped into bite size pieces
4-5 button mushrooms, chopped

For tadka:
1/2tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp sabzi masala/ garam masala (I used Everest sabzi masala)

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a deep karahi or wok and add the mustard seeds. As they start to sputter, add the cumin seeds and turmeric powder. Roast on medium heat for a minute before adding the potatoes. Add a little bit of chili powder, sabzi masala and salt. Cover and cook for a few minutes, before adding the broccoli. Once again season with chili powder, sabzi masala and salt. Cover and cook for a few more minutes before adding the bell pepper and the mushrooms. Finish off the seasoning and cook till all the veggies are cooked through.
Garnish with cinlantro and serve with toor daal (lentil soup) and rotis.
The broccoli potato sabzi goes to Viki's Side Dish with Chapati event.

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