02 July, 2011

Palak Channa: For the Mother's Soul...

Palak Channa 

Life’s become one helluva of a roller coaster ride to say the least. Juggling work and home with a clingy baby is no plain sailing. It’s not like I don’t have enough things on my plate. In fact, I feel that my plate is so full and I might drop it anytime and never have the courage to pick it up again! I am trying to do everything in my power to walk on razor thin, tight rope of my life balancing work in one hand and home in another. It’s a delicate process which requires lots of courage, commitment, passion and support from loved ones, especially from one’s partner. Thank god, I am lucky enough to have one such man as my life partner.

I have started to work full time from this week. I have been emotionally preparing myself for this stage since weeks. Yet, leaving my baby at day care is much harder than I anticipated. From the moment I change lil one’s cloths to the moment I take him off from his car seat to drop him at crèche, all we see and hear is high pitched wailing and flood of tears. It is really, really difficult to see your baby cry and you feel responsible for all that wailing and crying. Everyday the guilt feeling sets in even before you get up from bed and it’s the same feeling you have whole day. What’s more? It’s the same old guilt feeling that keeps you awake for most of the night. This feeling is not very far from you and can easily drown you within a blink of an eye!

If that was not enough, the ever growing and never ending so called "good" suggestions from my "well wishers" about how to bring up a baby is just like an acid rain on peak summer day! I understand that "you" are good at bring up the baby in "right or appropriate" manner at the "right" environment. But as far as I am concerned, how can you say that you know my baby and understand him better than me? Do you live here with my baby? Do you know what he likes to eat and drink? Do you know what time he likes to take a nap? Do you know when he needs changing his diaper? Do you know when he wants a cuddle simply because he wants one? Do you know what makes him happy and what makes him sad? Do you know what he is scared of? No, you don’t! So please don’t even pretend that you know my baby better than me. And please don’t pass any judgment over how I am bringing up my baby. I’ll ask your suggestion when and, importantly, if I need it!!!

Dear readers, I’m sorry to bore you to death with my rants! I had to get it off my chest at one point or another. I find it really hard to believe that some people try to walk all over me and pretend they are good at everything. It is even more difficult to believe that the person I am talking about hardly knows me in real life! I don’t believe even for a second that I am less of a mother to my baby because I choose to be a working mother rather than SAHM. The guilt of leaving my baby at someone else’s care is nothing new and I am not the first or the only mother who has to go through it. There are millions of women out there who are sailing in the same boat as me. And I know many SAHMs who go through different kind of guilt trip. The argument over pros and cons of working mothers and stay at home mothers is more of media hype than what either of us actually cares about. Well, for one thing we would rather utilise all the time and energy on enjoying with our lil ones than arguing who is better. Nevertheless, there do exist some creatures who would happily spend time at criticizing others and passing their 'gyan' than just being content with their own life.

Did I get annoyed at such person? Yes. Did I get angry at that person’s remarks? Yes. Will I get annoyed with such 'gyan' in future? May be! Am I going to spend more time thinking about what that person said? No, not any more. Why? For one, I have run over time and I would rather spend this little time I have on doing some constructive work which gives me pleasure! Something like sharing recipes and talking about food at a moment. :)

What we have today is some delicious bowl of Palak Channa to lift any sad or suppressed soul! Since my lil one has started to enjoy more complex and little spicy food (read anything that daddy and mommy eat), I have been trying to incorporate more nutritious food sources. Spinach is rich in iron and vitamins and chickpeas are good source of antioxidants and fibres. Our lil sugar pea loves this curry mixed with plain rice and dollop of yogurt which helps to mellow the spiciness of the curry. Just the sight of my lil sugar pea relish this is enough to fill my heart with joy! And watching him dip his finger in a bowl and lick the remaining food is like cherry on top of my favourite cake! This is all a mother ever wants! A total bliss…

Cooked Chickpeas and fresh Spinach for Palak Channa 

Palak Channa (Spinach and Chickpeas simmered in creamy Onion and Tomato gravy)
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 30 mins
Serves: 4-6 people
Shelf Life: 3 days when refrigerated and up to a month when frozen
Recipe Level: Intermediate
Spice Level: Medium to Hot
Serving Suggestion: With any Indian breads or flavoured rice

3 packed cups Spinach, chopped
3 cups White Kabuli Channa/Chickpeas, cooked or canned
2 large Tomatoes, pureed
1 tsp Ginger-Garlic Paste
1 tbsp Fresh Lime Juice (Adjust acc to taste)
1 tsp Sugar/Cane Sugar (Optional but recommended)
1 tsp Jeera/Cumin Seeds
A pinch of Hing/Asafoetida
1 tbsp Oil
Salt to taste

Spices Used:
½ tbsp Channa Masala/Garam Masala (Adjust acc to taste)
½ tsp Kitchen King Masala (Optional but recommended)
½ tbsp Kasuri Methi/Dried Fenugreek Leaves (Optional)
½ tsp Haldi/Turmeric Powder

For Onion Paste:
2 medium Onions, quartered
2-3 Kashmiri/Byadagi Chillies or any mild chillies (Optional)
½ tbsp Coriander Seeds
½ tsp Jeera/Cumin Seeds
2 tbsp Coriander Leaves along with stems, roughly chopped
1 inch Cinnamon Stick

Palak Channa

Ground all the ingredients listed under onion paste to smooth paste without adding any water.
Heat oil in a pan and add cumin seeds and hing.
When cumin seeds start to sizzle and turn golden brown, mix in ground onion paste. Keep stirring on the medium flame for 2 minutes.
Add ginger-garlic paste and crushed kasuri methi leaves if using and mix well. Let it cook for another 3-5 minutes till the oil separates from the paste and the paste becomes quite dry. This is a very important stage as undercooked onion paste will turn the curry bitter.
Now add pureed tomatoes, channa masala or garam masala, kitchen king masala and turmeric powder and mix well. Let it cook for 4-5 minutes.
Add cooked chickpeas and chopped spinach along with sugar and salt to taste and let it cook for 7-10 minutes on medium flame.
Adjust the seasoning and turn off the gas. Mix in lime juice and keep it aside for 10 minutes for all the flavours to blend well.
Serve this delicious bowl of Palak Channa hot, garnished with chopped coriander leaves and lemon wedges, with any Indian flat bread or flavoured rice and enjoy.

Palak Channa

Use around ¼ tsp tamarind paste in place of lime juice for sweetish sour flavour.
This curry develops more flavour over night and tastes better on next day. So make sure you have enough leftovers.


  1. Whoever that person is, don't let them get to you. It's so much harder on the parent to drop off a baby or child at any type of school environment than most would imagine. I used to work in a daycare environment and I promise you the baby stops crying shortly after you go. They don't understand where the one person who is always there is going. Soon after you go they find something else to do even the tiny babys), they find some hair to pull, toys to throw or something. It doesn't make them happy immediately but does wind up being a good experience for them if you've put them in a good place, which I'm sure you have judging by the emotions of your post. Not all parents care, I can tell you do. Don't be guilty. You aren't doing anything wrong. You are trying to ensure the best for your family and your precious little one.

    As for balancing work and home, the best I can offer is to try using a slow cooker if you have one and of course a pressure cooker to save time when you can. You can make healthy meals without spending all your free time in the kitchen. It's okay to use a few shortcuts like buying pre-cut veggies or frozen veggies for those nights when you are too tired while making these adjustments. Try not to pressure yourself too much while you're learning to balance things, it's not good for you.

    Things will get better each day. Keep going and you'll soon see some benefits and have some happy moments that will take the guilt and stress away.

  2. This looks amazing and your blog is looking beautiful!

  3. Love this curry Sia! Will try them out.

    And dont worry about the baby he will be fine. I went through the same process when I left mine behind. It is natural.

  4. Delicious bucket of channa. I so love the combination with palak. Yummm :)

  5. Sia,
    so glad to see you back. I kind of use most of the ingredients while cooking channa masala got to try this variation with palak.

    The first few days are the hardest Sia but there are good days and not so good days. It took me longer to get used to it than the kids.

  6. Parenting styles differ, so do what u deem best for ur baby. No mother will ever do something she thinks harm or be unsafe for her child.
    Others will offer suggestions, if u like an idea accept, if not, ignore and more importantly, don't let it get to u.
    Keeping a child in day care is heartbreaking , in my case i am a full time mommy and the first day my baby went to school, he cried- I cried and I sat in the car for 2 hours I could not budge, not that i could do anything , but I could not go from the school knowing he was in there, crying. It hurt like crazy. So i kinda understand what u are going thru.
    If there is one thing I have learnt from all this is, children are stronger than we make them out to be and adjust well to new surroundings. So keep cheerful and be strong. Hugs to u and P!

    On the food front, where i live, there is this one small food joint ( basically a place where univ. students eat) who makes a killer chana palak, urs looks like that, will try soon!

  7. We hear you, Sia. Absolutely understand your POV, here's to ignoring the busybodies and wish they disappear from our lives. How nice to have your baby enjoy some wholesome khana after all the bawling!

  8. Oh sweetie!! Welcome to mummyhood! You've finally zeroed in on the number two emotion of a mama's life, guilt :-)

    Now, I know you don't like taking advice, but here's some from me who's been part of both the SAHM, WOHM world. The guilt is always there, and will probably last a lifetime. But there is one more emotion that's much much bigger than guilt, love. And as long as you concentrate on that pretty emotion, everything else really doesn't matter one whit.

    And your palak chana looks gorgeous! I make a similar dish with butternut squash, but now have to try out yours :-)

    PS - Ignore those busybodies who give you advice (including me) The most important thing in your life is Parth, and nothing will even come close to the love that you have, and surprisingly will continue to grow as he grows up.



  9. Good 2 see u back wid d posts sia inspite of ur busy schedule..I wish you all d best for all these challenges..:)Nice chole..love this one anytime..:)

  10. @all, thank you.

    White Bhabhi, it is really good to hear from someone who has actually worked at day care and understands what parents and a child go through. Thank you for taking time and lifting my spirits. And yes, I don’t think I can ever survive without pressure cooker :)

    @White Bhabhi, Archana, Indo, Manasi, Tadka Pasta, Michelle I try and not to get bothered by such people and their remarks. But it was one of those days where I had put my guards down. I came bk home after very long and hectic day at office and there was this email fm so called well wisher! It completely spoiled my mood and my day. I know that my baby is fine and happy at day care coz he is getting adjusted to the new environment, making new friends, learning new things and also having great time. And I know for a fact that he is under best care that anyone can provide apart from his parents. I have even seen some kids who refused to go back home at the end of day when their parents come to pick them in the evening. The initial stage of staying away from him after one full year is very hard for him and for me or for any parents. And the feeling of guilt that I have about not being with him is something that will ever go away even after a month or two when he happily settles in his day care. I may mellow with time but it never goes away, does it? :)

    @Michelle, Manasi, I am not against someone giving me suggestions or sharing their experience. After all we learn from others all the time. But I have a problem with someone who has never met me in real life passing wrong judgement on me about the way I bring up my baby without any knowledge. I find it totally unfair and uncalled when they think I have made all wrong moves and I have chosen a wrong path when it comes to taking care of my child! Now that hurts.

    I cried a lot when I left P at day care for the very first time in front of his care taker. Usually I am good at hiding my emotions but that day nothing stopped me from making a complete fool of myself in front of others. If not now then may be some 3 years later I would have done something like this when my lil one starts school. (Just like u Manasi:) we mommies take much longer time than our babies to adjust to new phase of life. and yup Michelle, I completely agree with u that guilty feeling will last lifetime :) Thank u ladies. Your positive comments have lifted my mood and made me feel so much better.

  11. Happy to see u back..palak chole rocks...

  12. Happy to see u back..n chole palak rocks:)

  13. Sia very touching writing...i am also sailing on the same boat but never dared to write or tell anbody other than my mom..

    Intially i did leave my kid in the day care and both of us suffered a lot because of it and at the end continued work from home option again . but from last three months i have started working again full time and this time my parents offered me to look after him for me in the native. so i go and se him once in 15 days.. :( i have so much guilt in me nd i have been telling myself that when he grows i will tell him y i left him there..i do here lot of things from the so called "well wishers" and it hurts a lot..but pls dont get that into u..

  14. Dear Sia,

    Bottom line is this: When you are with your child, be there with your child. Love and relate honestly. You will make mistakes and discoveries that are mutual. You, your husband and child will learn and grow with this life you are building together. There are as many different styles of parenting as there are flowers in this world.
    Just be open to exploring, trying and learning. With a compassionate approach to living and learning all will benefit. Love your recipes and honesty.


  15. Thats a wonderful recipe...cann't take my eyes from the clicks amazing dear...hatoff to u.

  16. I am so sorry that you are having a hard time adjusting to your new routine! I think mommy guilt is one of the worst things ever! Nobody said motherhood was easy!! We all go through it all the time!
    I am a SAHM and I work from home when my daughter takes her afternoon naps or sleeps at night. It’s hard and very tiring. I think it’s never easy. I spend all the time with my daughter but after I started blogging I feel guilty about spending so much of my time and energy on something other than her!! I think there is no end to it.
    As moms we will take the blame for everything. But we need to be easy on ourselves! We do EVERYHTING we can for our children and we are doing our BEST. The most important thing is that we LOVE them more than anything and we know it! I think having time for ourselves is also very important as happy moms make happy families :)
    About well wishers and their options - all I can say is that we just have to learn to live with it! Everybody seems to know my baby better than me! lol

  17. I totally hear what you mean about the all-knowing "well-wishers". I had to contend with just one for the most part when M was born and it enough to drive me nuts. Best to ignore them (which is difficult, I know!) or stop them by changing the subject whenever they start off their well meaning advice giving. Hang in there, Sups. You'll find your own ways to handle these folks. Enjoy the baby!
    The chana curry looks good!

  18. The curry sounds exotic, and the snaps are awesome.


  19. i understand perfectly sia,as my case is a bit different than urs,have inlaws at home n so called well wishers sympathise for my MIL than me:)
    n i am pictured beautifully as a mean person who has taken away their precious time,though decision of looking after the baby is wholly theirs that too for two n half hours a day!as m working part time now...still so called well wishers never stop calling home to enquire n sympathise with MIL..

  20. Sia, I can understand how hard it must be during the initial days. It will be alright soon. There was a time when my kids were happy going there and I was left feeling unwanted..hahah..channa looks awesome!


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