Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Rajasthani Kadhi

This is a simple and soulful dish. Back home we have it as a daily accompaniment with our dinner. Papa calls it Rajasthani soup and slurps it using his hands towards the end of the dinner to show how this delicacy should be actually enjoyed. I would not suggest you to engage in slurping but do give this a try.

You will need:
2 bowl of curd (soup bowl)
1 tbspoon chick pea flour (besan)
Salt to taste
1/3 tsp Turmeric

For tempering
Ghee 1/2 tbsp
Mustard seeds 1/2 tsp
Jeera/Cumin seeds 1/2 tsp
Heeng/Asfoetida one small pinch (optional)
Methi/Fenugreek seeds 1/4 tsp (optional)
A sprig of curry leaves (optional)
Corriander leaves

Now lets get set and go!

Whisk curd with chick pea flour , salt and turmeric. Whisk well so that the flour is blended smoothly and no lumps remain. That's easy and quick. And if the curd is too thick add a little water.

Heat ghee in a wok/deep pan. When it is hot pop in all seeds, asofoetida and curry leaves. Next add the whisked curd and keep stirring. It is important to keep stirring or else it will coagulate. Keep stirring on medium flame till it boils. Now stop stirring and let it simmer for 5-10 minutes. Add water so that the Kadhi is not thick. It must have a running consistency.

Top it with corriander leaves.

P.S Use discretion while cooking and enjoy and a nice Rajasthani Kadhi. This is supposed to have slightly sour taste, so it is even better if you have a little sour curd at hand.

Lessons learnt!

The handsome couple came in with their little baby asleep in her pram. We ushered them in and Linus helped Jerome with his coat. We sat down for a chat, and Jerome told us Gelmit (I hope I have spelt her name correctly) did not speak very good English. I made it a point to speak slowly, so that she could understand us.

This was my first introduction to a French couple. I observed that they were soft spoken and very courteous. They were interested in viewing our Indian Marriage. They were amazed at the colors in marriage. It was the first time I noticed myself: colors!

I served them aloo chat as a starter. I explained them what a 'chaat' means. I had said, when mix spices and tamarind and marinade potatoes or chic peas or other things, they become a 'chaat'. They appreciated that I had not made it hot, and they loved the tangy tamarind and green chutney's flaovr in which slices of boiled potatoes had been marinaded in. I had topped the chaat with peanuts and onions and tomatoes.

After an hour's chat we served dinner. We taught them how to eat with their hands. They were delighted. They loved the mild palak paneer and aloo dum. But what bowled them over were pooris. Never had they had 'puffed Indian bread' as I introduced them to pooris. 'Nan bread', was the only Indian bread they had tried before.

'You can make a career out of cooking', Jerome humored me, when Linus told him that I had cooked the entire table spread. The guests waited for us to start so that they could take cue of how to eat. I smiled and crushed my aloo with the poori indicating how they can break the baby potatoes in the gravy without using a knife!

After the dinner, I made cold coffee with vanila ice cream. Gelmit loved it!

And now few lessons that I learnt:

While cooking earlier in the day, I had popped in green chillies in hot oil without slitting them (I thought I had slit them, but one of them was not slit), that chilly burst out. Luckily I was standing away from the wok. I later rationalized that hot air must have filled inside through the one end where I had cut the chilly and the pressure increased and it burst out! Phew, a close shave.

I realized the importance of microwave as I sorely missed it. Before serving the dinner I had to re heat and then pour each time in the serving dish. Microwave is really handy.

Another thing was the peas pulaw got cold eventually. Dinner for the French is an indulgence. They will not rush but relish. As we proceeded from pooris to pulaw, it was no longer steaming! I have no solution to what I should do the next time.

Another mistake that I made was, I had rolled the pooris before they arrived so that I would have to only fry them, but by the time they came and then before dinner was announced the pooris had got a little dry. I wonder how to balance entertaining host and getting into the kitchen to prepare a little bit (like rolling pooris after they have come?)

There have been a couple of ocassions now that I have had people for dinner. As an independent hostess I still have so much to learn. We just had fun back home, helping mom set tables and entertain guests. Now there are lessons I have to learn.

You might like to leave your tips and relate any of your experiences in hosting a well planned dinner. I would love to hear from you. You might make it a post in your blogs and let me know. If you have already done that, I would love to know and take a peek.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

French couple for dinner

We are having a French couple for dinner today. I really wonder if an Indian dinner would suit their palate. I have tried to add less of green chillies and red chilly powder to all the dishes. I wonder if they will enjoy it.

It is evening time, I am almost done with cooking. I was cooking under tremendous pressure today. Firstly FRENCH guests, next they are hubby's colleagues and finally hubby is not home to taste and tell me if it tastes just right.

I do not know if we all pass through this phase, when we wonder if it is tasting good or not and wonder if the quantity looks less... oh my gosh...

The menu for the day is:

Aloo Chat

Palak paneer
Aloo dum

Dhaniya Chutney

Peas Pulaw

Hmm... I have not included dessert. I will just serve icecream. Have reminded hubby to enquire what wines would be suitable. Oh my GOD... thats to give it a French touch!

Hmmm.. I will post tomorow about the result of the dinner. And recipe of kadhi too. And and and, my experience hosting an Indian dinner to a French couple.

So long..
bhook lagi!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Cooking Stories

Like it always is, daughters follow their moms to their kitchens at one point point of time or the other. I specifically said daughters not because I do not believe sons cannot cook well, it is just a matter of my observation in households that I was raised in. So, like any other daughter I did my bit to follow mom to the kitchen.

It seems strange, now to reflect how I came to cooking. In Nepal (where I was raised), Dashain or Dusshera is a big time festival. And this is the time that the household staff leaves for their respective homes. We always had Nepalese as helps and they would no matter what take leave. So, the ten-days vacation would turn into a 'help mommy in kitchen' exercise. From simple things like serving father and uncles to chopping tomatoes to stirring 'kadhi' and trying out of fancy a hand at rolling chapatis, I did think of myself as a cook of some sort.

Papa, as all papas are, would praise me to no end. He would exclaim, here is my little Tarla Dalal. I should add here that when I started writing a bit (my articles were published in the National Daily of Nepal, the Kathmandu Post), he had declared I was the next J.K Rowling. Hmm, sorry for digressing but I just felt a lump in my throat thinking he must be quite disappointed by now. I write sporadically and have not sent anything for publishing for ages now (I might add after marriage!).

Well, I was telling you there was something strange that made me learn. My mother would not enter the kitchen during her '3 days' period. It was then that she would stand outside the kitchen and tell me add just another spoonful of oil, keep your face out of the kadhai, and pray don't burn the jeera.

From those times, to time when my friends would drop in to have pav bhaji that I made, and baigan kaa bharta that I would have to make since it was just my and papa's favorite, I did think I had in me to become a good cook.

My only intention of cooking good food was a very secret one. Only to be revealed here now: I loved my mother's haath kaa khana (food prepared by her), and I could visualize myself being a mom someday ( I wonder how could I, I am scared at the moment and think I am still a kid and cannot think of other kids!!). Very well in that vision I would want the kid(s) to love what I would cook for them!

With studies and all, we had little to do in kitchen. After engineering and MBA, mom would often complain that she felt she had guests in her house rather than kids. And guests who would threaten her with ' i am not going to eat' if provoked with any kind of parenting.

I would sometime give in to her increasing bickering and make something for her. How I now realize that we can crave for food made by others for us. I made pizza, pav bhaji and paneer kaa sabzi. This was my forte. No more. But what I did, I did well. Only I needed lots of assistance, please chop this for me, and now could you stir that for a moment while I rush with this phone call. And then shout from upstairs..did you switch the stove off.

I used to bake cakes too. Once I go back to Kathmandu, I will get my recipes and post them. Since baking is something that you have to follow to the spoons and cups!

Now now, what I was thinking of telling you was, this little kitchen that I own for now. After shaadi (wedding) for a long time it seemed like I in deed was staying at a friend's place. With a dear MIL, I got the instruction to keep away from the hot Kolkata's kitchen. I promptly obeyed, you see!

So, until I came to Swiss, I was happily eating without any parenting for almost 8 months. Then came this house and this kitchen, all by the lake. How I thought it was like playing dolls. Only that the toys had become bigger in proportion to match the real things. I remember cooking over done rice here and hubby had called me a novice to my utter chagrin in the initial few days. How I had to make him believe that I could cook. And that accident was just because we had 'rice cooker' back home.

I had trouble identifying toor daal from chana daal. For more than a week I was cooking chana daal thinking it was toor daal. Thats exactly what I thought I had bought from Migros (a retail chain here), as I wouldn't be able to make out the French name. I did struggle trying to pressure cook chana daal to a mushy level, so that I could whisk it into sambar (South Indian Daal/dish) like consistency. Hubby did have lot of suspicion about my culinary abilities by this time.

But soon I got used to my kitchen, the masalas that I had brought from India (imagine no mustard seeds and no mango powder). With simple meals we progressed day by day. And then sister came to visit me in another month and brought me all the masalas that I could dream of. I still have kalonji, which I do not know which recipe calls for. Finally I found out the Indian store here too!

Hubby now tells me I have learnt and am learning. I tell him I knew all the while! He tells me I am cooking stories!

Monday, April 16, 2007

The kitchen queens

So, why are there no new posts? Hubby inquires.

Hmm, there is hardly anything I can actually put up. Food blogging is not an easy cup of tea! I put up my excuse. But the hubby (as hubbies are) is not letting me go just at that. He takes his dig, 'ego problem' , 'no one visiting your blog'. I tell him how I have not been taught to measure while cooking, one such important thing while writing a recipe. This I realize when I try out dishes from other food blogs.

For now, as a gesture of thanks and for my easy reference for later, I am going to list down recipes I have tried and enjoyed from the food blog universe, ever since my introduction to this heavenly part of the web. I have tried to put them in the chronicle order as they appeared on my dining table!

Matar Puri from Susarla's Kitchen

Food Lover's Chiroti Paratha (that I have come to call spiral parathas and make both aaloo paratha and gobhi paratha using her technique)

Food Lover's Tomato Chutney

Priya's Kadala Chana with a twist (where I do not add the coconut at all)

Sri's Methi Thepla
(my only twist is instead of ginger/garlic/chillies/cilantro paste, I add a little cilantro chutney which has ginger and green chillies, thats because I keep cilantro chutney handy for parathas and its quick use )

Sri's Pulaw
(again, I do away the GG paste and put just a little cilantro chutney, cause I had it handy and do not use garlic so extensively, however I am sure the pulaw did not become green)

Palak Paneer from Mahanandi
( I followed the recipe to the words except omitting to add the kajus all together, tasted heavenly)

Bhatura from Vee

Moong Daal Chilla from Ashwini's Food for thought

Hmm, I am hoping to try pineapple chutney and Aloo posto from Sandeepa's cook book soon!

Thats all for now!

Long live the kitchen queens.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Paneer Roll

The story first!

Last week I had bought flour tortillas thinking that they would make my loner's luncheon easy. Some quick wraps with leftover veggies, I had imagined. But I survived the week without needing to open the tortilla pack. And then on Friday when I bought Paneer to make matar paneer for a lavish Saturday lunch. Linus insisted we will have paneer rolls.

So, we will have paneer rolls, I chimed in. And then sat down to google. After reading a few recipes I settled to Tarla Dalal's recipe (available only to members of her site) and with a few variation thrown in, there it was a great paneer roll.

So here is how I did it:


For the marinade:
1/4 cup of well beaten curd
1 teaspoon chilli powder (measurement alterable to taste)
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder (haldi)
¼ teaspoon Bengal gram flour (besan)
½ teaspoon chaat masala
½ teaspoon kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
½ teaspoon garam masala
salt to taste

1 cup Paneer cut into cubes
1/2 cup tomatoes (deseeded) cut into small cubes
1/2 cup capsicum diced
1 tsp oil
A little butter
1 Onion cut vertically
1/2 lemon
Tomato Sauce/Ketchup

For the wrap
4 flour tortillas

Tinkering in the kitchen:

  • Mix the marinade items in a bowl and then toss in paneer and tomatoes . Leave it for 10 minutes.
  • Heat oil in a non stick pan, saute capsicum for 2-3 minutes.
  • Now add the paneer mixture and saute in high flame for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionaly.
  • The filling is ready now.
  • Take the tortilla and place it in a heated tawa with a little butter, flip sides add a little butter again. Take it off the tawa when it is nicely browned.
  • Put the filling on the centre as shown in the picture, garnish with onion , squeeze a little lemon , a bit of tomato ketchup and then wrap it tightly. You can use tissue paper to hold it secure also.
  • And then yum eat it or make another one!

As soon as we rolled the tortilla our temptation knew no bounds and we immediately had the first one. Hence the photo is the pre-rolled one!

My variation from the original recipe was using Tortillas instead of chapati. Not adding, ginger paste and garlic paste to the marinade mixture. And majorly my input was garnishing the roll with onion, lemon and ketchup.

Credits : Tarla Dalal for Inspiration
Linus for suggestion

Monday, April 2, 2007

A(nother) food blog starts

Hello !

I was almost tempted to write Hello World, the way one does while writing the very first program in any computer language. Well, here is my first attempt on food blogging, and thus the temptation of a programmer(an outdated one now!).

From an engineer to an MBA, a writer to a cook, I hope I can do justice to this food blog. I am a novice but I love cooking, I love trying out recipes. It was by chance that I landed upon a food blog. With the help of blog rolls I jumped and hopped all over the places. Sometimes as a ghost reader, sometimes putting my comments.

Having tried in these 3 months some 6 new recipes, I am not at all armed to write down my creations but I have now a raring appetite to try new recipes and post them. And I do tweak recipes and add my variation depending upon (un)availibility of ingredients.

May be this blog will not serve as much interest to other food bloggers who are great at their jobs, but at least it will serve as my online journal to recipes tried and tasted!

The next post will be about Kathi Paneer Roll, tried with variationn on saturday, credits to Tarla Dalal for the recipe and hubby for photos.