Sunday, 31 December 2017

2017 - The year that was ....

And just like that, another year has flown by.
Another eventful year that was, for me.
2017 was good to me; after a long time I could finally breathe, laugh a little and felt assured in my heart that all will be well .... always.
The year started off with what we love best ... a road trip .... to Hampi and then on to Bangalore, on the very first month of the brand new year.
And then a trip to Rajasthan almost at the same time.
And then again in summer.
And then again in October.
Being with the family healed me a lot.

And then in September I went to the US of A again. This time it was a longer trip and I got to visit a lot many places, share food and stories and lots of warmth and laughter with many friends and new people. I also got to cook Indian food for a few, which was the highlight of my travels.

Coming back, we made a quick short trip tp Goa too, after ages.
Visited our old haunts as well as some fabulous new places and enjoyed the food scene in Goa all over again.
If you are following me on Instagram, you will know as I share there.

I am surprised that inspite of all my travels and such a hectic year, I managed to post regularly ... at least four to five posts every month. Makes me feel real proud of myself ... because god knows how difficult it is for me with my illnesses.
Posting regularly took a backseat only after I got introduced to Instagram. That pressure of writing when I can't think of anything was gone.
All I had to do was to click a snap and post it. Sometimes with the recipe. And that was it.

So, here I am sharing with you some photographs that I have posted on insta but never made a post here.
I have mostly shared my snacks and my lunch plates. And at times some dinner plates too.

Inspite of making the Luchi numerous times, I still have not made a post on it.
So here is my snap of the verily loved Phulko Luchi. With the shada aloor torkari.

This year, I have not been able to do much with the winter sun as I have not been keeping well for a while now. But did make some Kuler achar and some Mirchi ka achar to go with our parathas.
 Here is a collage of some of the lunch plates that I had shared on Insta.

I had also shared a glimpse of my kitchen and some of my new toys there. 

The most significant thing that I could do this year in my kitchen was rustle up a real biryani.
The real chicken biryani, step by step, complete with the addition of the saffron and other essences as well as the birista.
Was pretty chuffed with the way it turned out and helped in soothing the souls that were hurting at India's disappointing loss in the cricket ground that day.

Today, while I sit here, struggling to type in a few words to round off the year with, I realise that not everything is always perfect. Even if it is a year.
After a beautiful year, I am rounding it off with a high fever that refuses to come down below 101 degrees for the last 4 days. While the man struggles in the kitchen.
So much for my showmanship in my kitchen and my culinary achievements.

I just hope the next year treats me well.
All I want is a little health and happiness.
And some peace everywhere.

All I want is to be able to do what I want to.
All I want is some genuine love and warmth everywhere.
And some more.

All I want is to be able to feed at least one child everyday.
May no one ever go to sleep hungry.

Here is wishing you all a very happy brand new year!
May you find and be able to share a lot of love and happiness!!
God bless!!

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Besanwali Bhindi / Okra cooked with gram flour

Bharwa bhindi
I have been intending to make some posts on the bhindi / lady finger / okra, for a while now.
But either I run short of time or the dish, even if it turns out to be tasty, does not look worthy of a photograph.
I do click anyway but those photos languish in the pending folder and then get poofed into oblivion after a while.

But when I made this recipe of the bhindi, I knew I had so share it; good photograph or no.
The reason I fell in love wit this dish was due to that combination of the saunf / fennel seeds, gur / jaggery and hing / asafoetida.
I had learnt to make a Gawarfali ki sabzi  with this combination long back and have often used it for a few other vegetables too.
Nothing worked as well as it did with the okra.
I was tempted to add some crushed peanuts as well .... since the original recipe had it, but did not as I was not sure how the peanuts would go with the okra.

Nonetheless, the dish is one of my most loved Okra dishes.
And has no slime at all in it.
While I have kept the okra long, with just a slit in the middle, you can chop it up too.
Only it tends to dry up faster when chopped, which in turn renders the besan dry too. On the other hand, the lengthwise pieces hold more moisture and helps the besan to hold on to it.

Besanwali bhindi

Need :

Okra / Bhindi - ¼ kilo, cleaned, washed, dried and cut into half lengthwise ... only halfway
Gram flour / Besan - 2 tbsp
Fennel seeds / Saunf - ½ tsp
Jaggery / Gur - 1 tbsp, powdered
Coriander / Dhania powder - 1 tbsp
Turmeric / Haldi powder - 1 tsp
Red chilli / Mirchi powder - 1 tsp
Asafoetida / Hing - a pinch
Mustard oil - 1 tbsp
Salt - to taste

How to :

Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed kadahi / wok.

Add the saunf and the hing.

Let in the bhindi and stir it well.

Add haldi + salt.

Cover and cook till bhindi is done.

Remove cover and stir it well, spreading it around so that any moisture left slowly dries up.

Add the dhania powder + gur + mirchi powder + besan.

Mix well and cover for a while for the besan to cook.

Remove cover and turn and toss so that everything mixes well.

Make  sure the besan does not burn .... if it dries up too much, give a sprinkle of water for extra moisture.

Remove from heat and serve hot.

Besan bhindi
This goes best with hot rotis.
But it is great on the side with plain rice and dal too.


Saturday, 23 December 2017

Motorshuti bhaja / Stir fried fresh green peas

 motorshuti bhaja
 Winter is finally here. I mean not by the names of the months but by the temperature outside.
We have been missing the real winter for the past couple of years in Pune. But this year it has turned real cold and the fresh, crisp air outside has that perfect smell of winter ... dry leaves, smoke from a faraway bonfire mixed with the beautiful, sweet smell of the Eucalyptus leaves that waft around in the light breeze.

I step out on to the balcony every evening to catch the gorgeous sunsets. And to watch the stars come out. These days the sky is so clear that they sparkle a couple of shades brighter. And the new moon comes up looking all shiny and clean.
Needless to say, I love winters.
I can knit all I want to, wear the ones that I have knitted earlier, enjoy my hot cuppas of sometimes tea or coffee and soups at other times.
I can sit in the sun for longer times ... my bay windows are now awash with sunlight ever since the sun has shifted south.

I have recently twisted my knee ... yes, how can the year go by without my falling ill properly at least once .... and am confined to rest right now.
I do try to hobble around and rustle up quick meals but my leg turns too painful and I go back to my corner in the sofa. Near the window, in the sun.
And do what I do best ... knit. 
And reminisce.
Which I do a lot these days.
Of days gone by, of the winters of my childhood.
Losing the elders of the family one by one, memories are the only things that stay with me these days.
So I think of the winters of my childhood, the breakfasts of crisp, toasted bread and poached(fried) eggs ... sitting out in the sun.
Lunches of steaming hot stews. Teatimes with cakes at times and traditional snacks at other. 
And it was from one of those memories that I made this traditional, simple stir fry that spells winter as well as memories for me in many ways.

This used to be a favourite evening snack for us at home.
Ma would make this with the fresh green peas, soft and oh so sweet, that the season brings, and that have been freshly shelled.
Iin the afternoon, after lunch, Ma and the other kakimas would sit out in the soft winter sun in the uthon / courtyard ... some drying their long hair, some knitting .
All around, there would be achars/ pickles sunning as well as  batches of boris here and there. 
The breeze from the pond, which was so welcomed in the summer, would make them shiver and draw their shawls around them a little more.
Thamma would be there too, soaking in the sun, eyes closed and narrating small incidents ... mostly form the past.
The house helps would join in too, enjoying the leisurely time.
They would bring along with them small pending jobs .... one of which was the shelling of peas.
We children would drift in and out, picking up handfuls of freshly shelled sweet peas and munching on them.

motorshuti bhaja
While I love raw peas in about everything .... I add them to my egg scrambles / anda bhurji, stir fries, upma, uttapams, salads and muri / puffed rice, I love this stir fry just as much.
In the evenings, when at a loss as to what to make to accompany the evening tea, Ma would rustle this up while Jethima would prepare the muri.
She would add a dash of mustard oil and some chanacchur to the muri. ( It will not be the regular moshla muri ). And serve them in individual bowls.
At times, the muri would be tempered with some kalo jeere / nigella seeds and dry red chillies too ... but only if it has turned soft. This tossing on heat crisps the muri up as well as add some flavour too.

Meanwhile Ma would temper some heated mustard oil with kalo jeere / nigella seeds and whole dry chillies. Then she would add some chopped onions and stir fry them till just soft. No browning.
And then tip in a bowlful of shelled green peas and a pinch of salt.
The peas will release water and everything will turn soft.
Just a few tosses ( you may cover and cook it for a while too ... but not for too long ) and it is done.
They would top the muri and the bowls would be handed out to everyone ... along with some thick, milky ada cha / ginger tea.

I can still see everyone sitting around the dining table, some sitting on the low window sill when there are no empty chairs left, some even on long, low bench that stood near the wall at the far end of the dining room .... munching, sipping, talking, laughing, discussing dinner's menu.
The dining room would no longer be cold .... there was so much love and warmth all around.
The peas would be so soft they would just melt in the mouth. And the crisp muri was the perfect foil, with its crunch.

motorshuti bhaja
Here is my bowlful of muri and motorshuti bhaja that I made one evening.
I had shared it on my Instagram and my facebook page .... but then memories overwhelmed me and I decided to make a post too.
For you.
And for posterity.

Hope you have a wonderful winter.
Have lots of hot food and make loads of memories.


Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Pui data Alu Begun Shorshe diye / Malabar spinach stalks cooked in mustard paste with potatoes and brinjals

pui data shorshe diye
 Recently, when I was visiting the other side of the family in Rajasthan, the lady who helps out in the house came up to me one day and asked when will I be going back. Taken aback, I asked why did she want to know.
All she said was to inform her a day before I left.
This lady is a Bengali and loves me to no end.
The moment she sees me, she turns all chirpy, smiling and joyous. Father-in-law says a drastic change comes over her.
It is not that I chat with her all the while. On the contrary I hardly talk to her except for once in a while.
All I do is smile at her ask about her welfare.
And take care that she is not burdened with any extra work due to our visit. And make sure that she gets whatever food is cooked at home .... fresh ... and whatever snacks and sweets we get home.

She on the other hand, like a child, would insist that I make her tea. Everyday.
I have no idea why.
I make the worst tea in the world. Even I cannot drink tea made by my own self. And so stay away from making tea for anybody at all. That is one job that B fulfills beautifully ... if we have guests it is B who makes tea.
But for this lady, it has to be me.
I love the fact that she knows I make the most terrible tea ever, and still insists that I make it for her.

So I was a little taken aback at her blunt question.
And forgot about it.
The day we were about to leave for our journey back, she came up to me and handed me a huge bag, saying "Eta tomar jonne Boudi."
I started to protest at her gifting me something when I looked in and found the freshest and most gorgeous of Pui looking up at me!
Shiny, fresh green leaves and with the juiciest of stalks.
I was so overjoyed that I hugged her.

She knew I loved Pui and had remembered!
I was so touched.

pui data shorshe diye
After reaching home, I immediately stocked my freezer with fish and used the Pui in every possible way known to me. The leaves were so fresh that I even boiled them and added just Kasundi and devoured with plain rice.
This medley I made because I had some potatoes and brinjals lying around. Had some mustard paste in the freezer ... so added a couple of cubes. And voila!
A veggie dish was ready in no time for lunch.

Sharing this with you today in this quick post.

Need :

Pui data / Malabar spinach stalks - cleaned and cut into small sizes
Potatoes - cut into thick strips
Brinjals - cut into thick strips
Onion - cut into slices
Green chillies - slit
Mustard paste
Kalo jeere / Nigella seeds - a little
Haldi / Turmeric powder
Mustard oil- to cook
pui data shorshe diye
 How to :

Heat the oil in a wok / kadai.

Add the Nigella seeds and the green chillies.

Add all the vegetables and stir well.

Add turmeric powder + salt. Cover and cook till vegetables are done.

Remove cover, add the mustard paste and a little water, if needed, and mix well.

Add a little sugar, cover and cook till everything dries up.

Serve hot on the side with rice and dal.
pui data shorshe diye
Here is a shot of my lunch plate that late autumn afternoon.