27 April, 2017

Veg Hara Bhara Kabab Recipe | Simple Vegan Kebab Recipes

Learn how to make Hara Bhara Kabab ~ Mildly spiced Indian vegan spinach and potato kebabs flavoured with fresh herbs and aromatic spices

We made these Hara Bhara Kababs exactly a month ago when LD was recovering from another bout of viral infection. When I say we, it means my 6-year-old and I, mom and son team. Cooking with over enthusiastic kid means fun, but it also means mess! I kid you not. The kitchen will end up looking like a bomb sight with flour covered kitchen floor and counter tops, sauce smeared kitchen cabinets, and a child who is covered with every ingredient that went into that pot or pan of food you are making! Then why teach your kids to cook when it means more of a mess than its worth?! Absolutely. Well, there is not just one, but 101 reasons to introduce our kids to the joys of cooking.

Teaching our kids to cook is one of the most basic life skills we can pass on and most importantly, it gives us the opportunity to teach them valuable lessons. I find him curiously touch, smell and taste the ingredients. This natural inquisitiveness of LD turns into total fascination and then surprise when he watches the dramatic transformation the food goes through in terms of colour, texture and size right before his eyes during cooking and baking. The once firm and hard potatoes turn soft and mushy, the delicate, easy to crack eggs become hard when boiled, the crystals of sugar and salt completely gets dissolved, the fruit is turned to juice and how it becomes one of his favourite treat ice lolly when kept in freezer overnight! If this is not magic, then I don’t know what else is?!

21 April, 2017

Bhara Baingan or Stuffed Baby Eggplant Recipe | Simple and Quick Eggplant or Brinjal Recipes

Learn how to make Bhara Baingan or Stuffed Pan Roasted Baby Eggplants ~ Simple and easy spicy pan roasted baby eggplants stuffed with sesame, coconut and spice mix

Time stands still best in moments that look suspiciously like ordinary life!
~ Brian Andreas

I am inching back to routine and virtual world after a weeklong holiday with friends and family. Before I feel too comfortable to this routine of digital lethargy and loose myself in my own little world, I decided to bounce back with some recipe posts that will keep my creative juices flowing. I am yet to pick my camera to shoot food or beautiful spring landscapes despite golden spring light bathing every corner of our home and world around us. My eyes and soul have replaced the camera as they capture the magnificent beauty of this world. One thing at a time… Until then, let me share the recipe of this amazing and ridiculously simple to make Bhara Baingan or Spicy Stuffed Baby Eggplant Roast that I cooked and clicked two weeks ago when my camera was constantly clicking and capturing food in every angle and composition!

I am a huge fan of eggplants and keeping my modesty aside, I make some mean eggplant curries which knocks off the feet of my guests whenever I serve them. Unfortunately, husband is allergic to eggplants and LD is not too fond of the texture of them. Which means the only person who must finish the entire pan of eggplant curries is me! How unfortunate (not) for me!!! As much as I love these little beauties, I find it difficult to spend an hour prepping and cooking them, only not to have a company to share the pleasure of devouring them. So, I end up buying some purple beauties only when I lose couple of night’s sleep! ;)

11 April, 2017

Tawa Paneer Recipe | Simple and Quick Paneer Recipes

Learn how to make Tawa Paneer ~ Griddle roasted Indian cottage cheese and veggies marinated in aromatic spices

When last week LD’s spring break began, I was euphoric! No school meant waking up late, no running around the house prepping breakfast, ironing school uniforms, shouting at top of my voice asking LD to finish his breakfast for hundredth time in a minute, watching my hair turn grey as he finishes his morning business at snail’s pace, pulling my hair in anxiety as he asks hundreds of questions while sitting on a potty, and literally dragging him out of the house and all the way to school to make sure we are just in time before the school bell rings! Only to come back home to sink full of dishes, basketful of laundry, high pile of cloths to be ironed, mountain high work load, photography assignments, answering to dozens of emails, and of course, worrying about what to cook for dinner and if time permits, food photo shoot for the blog!

6 hours of back breaking work later, I am ready to rush back to school to take him for after-school activities and bring him back home. Before I know it, it’s time to make dinner, watch him slowly pick small spoonful of food at snail’s pace for over an hour, snatch the spoon from him hand and shovel what is now ice cold dinner that I slaved to cook, watch my hair turn grey and fall as he slowly brushes his teeth before tucking him into bed after reading half a dozen stories! If I am not snoozing or half dead by then, stare at telly with hubby or stare at the blinking curser wishing and even praying for some words to magically pop in my half dead brain and flow into my finger tips to tap dance on the keyboard for a blog post! By the time I hit the sack, it doesn’t take more than couple of moments to fall into dreamless sleep after my head touches the pillow, if not hit by migraine or insomnia! 7 hours later, I am ready for another day of routine! That’s when I desperately look forward to school holidays…

One week into 2 weeks of spring break, I am ‘almost’ looking forward for the schools to re-open!

05 April, 2017

Rama Navami Panakam Recipe | Jaggery Limeade ~ Healthy & Refreshing Summer Drink

How to make Panakam or Panagam ~ Jaggery Limeade flavoured with crushed cardamoms, peppercorns and dry ginger, a refreshing and healthy summer drink

Today is the ninth and last day of Chaitra Navaratri as per Hindu calendar. Today is also Ram Navami, a festival that celebrates the arrival of Vishnu’s 7th avatar, Lord Rama. Growing up in South India, it meant eating kosambari (cucumber and moong bean salad) while guzzling down tall glass of Panakam (sweet and summery health drink of jaggery and lime flavoured with crushed green cardamom, peppercorns and dry ginger), listening to the tales of Ramayana.

I am not a religious person, but that doesn’t stop me from cooking and eating festive foods. As with any other Hindu festival, Ram Navami is also celebrated with special food offered to the deity called neivedyam. Once the food is offered to the god, it is distributed among people as prasad or prasadam, a blessed food. Panakam is one such food that is made during Ram Navami along with other neivedyams such as kosambari, and majjige neeru (spiced butter milk). They are simple and quite refreshing summer recipes, showcasing the wisdom and scientific reason with great health benefits behind every festival food designed by our ancestors. The word Panakam in Sanskrit means ‘sweet drink’ and as the name suggests, it’s a sweet drink of jaggery and lime flavoured with crushed green cardamoms, peppercorns and dry ginger.

31 March, 2017

Sprouted HuruLi Saaru And Usli Recipe | Sprouted Horse Gram Curry and Stir Fry

Learn how to make HuruLi Saaru and Usli ~ Horse gram sprouts cooked in spicy coconut gravy and garlic and Sprouted horse gram stir fry garnished with grated coconut

“Ajji, can I go out and play?” asked little girl pulling her grandma’s soft cotton saree pallu which was carefully tucked around her slim waist.
“Not today, my princess! It’s too hot outside and we don’t want the fever monster to return”, said grandma as she pressed her cool hand against little girl’s forehead to check her temperature.
“But I will play in the shade, Ajji”, said little voice laced with impatience as she longingly looked at her sister and cousins running around, screaming loudly as they chased one another in a large garden in front of ancestral home.
“I know, my darling! But who will help me with cooking then? Who will help me to open the dabba of bella (jaggery)?”, asked grandma smiling showing her trademark enchanting smile with twinkling eyes and red lips stained with the juice from ele-adike (betel leaf and supari).
“Bella?”, asked little girl with excitement oozing from her voice and eyes. “I will help you Ajji”, quickly came the reply.
“Don’t tell this to anyone, but you are my favourite grandchild”, whispered grandma who must have shared the same secret to every other 2 dozen grandchildren of hers! :)

The soft wrinkled hands lead the small chubby hands to the courtyard outside the kitchen door that connected to open kitchen at the end of the house. The family cook was grinding spices and coconut paste in a large stone grinder that made rhythmic music almost like a lullaby that would put the little girl to sleep as she lay down on her grandma’s lap on hot summer afternoons. But she was wide awake at that moment as the excitement of helping her grandma with cooking overpowered any other feeling! The grandma picked one of large brass container that was stacked neatly on the wooden shelf and placed it on the cool red-oxide floor. She then went and picked a large winnowing tray made of bamboo strands woven tightly onto a rattan frame and sat down on the floor stretching her legs in front. She looked up and smiled at the little girl and patted the space next to her suggesting lil girl to sit.

24 March, 2017

Kadai Mushroom (Karahi Mushroom) Recipe | How to Make Restaurant Style Kadai Mushroom or Karahi Mushroom

Learn how to make Kadai Mushroom or Karahi Mushroom ~ Semi dry spicy curry of mushrooms cheese and bell peppers cooked in a spicy tomato gravy flavoured with freshly ground spice mix

Imagine your food without spices. Unimaginable, isn’t it? They are the best ingredients to include in daily cooking as they not only add flavours and colours, but also bring out complex and rich flavours from the food itself. Almost every cuisine of the world has not gone untouched by a sprinkle of spices, but none of them embraces the spices close to its bosom as Indian cuisine which unashamedly uses these flavourful spices to the brim! Everything from curries to chai, our food and drinks brims with spices.

Throughout the past, there has been great wars fought for these spices; some won and some lost leaving path on the map marked with riches, blood and sacrifices. The spice routes were formed, lands were plundered and looted, innocent blood was shed, and a lot was lost in a quest for Indian spices which as the history says was so valuable that it was worth more than a gold in weight! Such was the lure of spices which makes them not just mere ingredients in Indian cuisine, but a way of life…

17 March, 2017

Lasooni Dal Palak Recipe | Quick and Easy Dal or Lentil Soup Recipes

Learn how to make Lasooni Dal Palak ~ Garlic flavoured lentil and spinach soup

As my mother complained about hot weather in India, unusual for this time of the year, I just wished I was at home in India as I gazed at grey skies wearing my winter jacket, snow boots and my hands tucked inside my jacket pocket to keep it warm! Spring in India is much hotter than the summers here in UK and the signals how brutal the summers are going to be. With air conditioning turned on during spring season, especially in the night, I can just imagine the kind of summer India is going to welcome in couple of weeks. I hate hot weather and the only thing that made the heat bearable was the arrival of summer bounty, especially mangoes. But given a choice, I will gladly take the sweaty and hot sunny days over the gloomy cold weather. I thought I was immune to it, and to be frank, I didn’t even care for the weather as I did enjoy the cold winters especially coming from a hot tropical country where the sun shines for 365 days a year! But I guess this is what happens to someone who hasn’t seen the face of sun god for weeks!

This winter by far been worse one during my 10 years of living in the UK. It feels like a big joke when the leader of first world says climate change is a fake news when we are still in the clutches of ruthless winter god even after mid-March! With terrible mood swings and low energy, I can’t wait to get enough of Vitamin D in summer. But if days continue to be this cold and gloomy, we might as well skip spring entirely and welcome summer! ~sigh~ Maybe it’s time to plan a trip to some sunny part of the world, or just cook something that brings the colours of summer in a bowl… Since the first one seems like out of reach as hubby is buried under workload, the latter is the only choice as of now…

10 March, 2017

Belgaum Kunda Recipe | How to Make Belgavi Kunda

Learn how to make Belgaum Kunda or Belgavi Kunda ~ Sweet caramalised milk fudge from Belgaum, North Karanata

The festival of colours and love, Holi is just around the corner marking the arrival of spring and new beginning. This Hindu festival also signifies not only the end of winter, but for many it’s a day to meet friends and families, play and laugh, drench one another in rainbow colours, forget and forgive, and repair broken relationships. Holi is also celebrated as a thanksgiving in most part of North India for a good harvest. For me no festival is complete without some sweet dishes to not only sweeten our mouth, but also our life. I have this wonderful sweet dish called Belgaum Kunda or Belgavi Kunda from North Karnataka today which is made by reducing and curdling the milk and cooking with caramalised sugar syrup.

Belgaum, located in the state of Karnataka is a cultural city known for its rich multi-cultural heritage, architectural splendour, remnants of a rich and colourful historical background and for its natural beauty. A swathe of mesmerising emerald green landscapes with breath taking waterfalls and misty hills, Belgaum is a home for many religious monuments and architectural wonders oozing old world charm that is sure to satiate your spiritual and aesthetic loving soul. Just an hour’s drive from Dharward, my home for 4 years of engineering studies, this city of Belgaum had left its mark on my life with a sense of pure bliss. Although my limited student budget didn’t stretch very far, it didn’t stop my wanderlust soul from making several trips to this beautiful city that enticed me with its historical charm, rich culture and cuisine.

03 March, 2017

Achari Aloo Recipe | Indian Roast Potatoes with Pickling Spices

Learn how to make Achari Aloo ~ Tangy and spicy baby potato roast with pickling spices

I was staring at the blinking curser on my laptop for the past ten minutes, desperately hoping for some words to come flooding from my mind to tip of my fingers. But alas, my mind seems to have its own agenda and all I can think is summer days where I can lounge away in the beach with a book in my hand, sand on my toes and the warmth of sun rays kissing my face. But at the moment it feels anything but summer as the temperature stubbornly refuses to rise in spite the fact that the days are growing longer…

Spices used for Achari Masala/Pickling Spices for Achari Aloo

After staring at the blinking curser for another five minutes, I decided to step out and get me a nice cup of green tea with ginger and honey to lift my spirit on a grey and windy day. As the kettle hissed as it boiled water, there was a sudden shower of hailstones from the skies, hitting angrily at the glass window panes. The pearls of ice that looked like a thermocol balls looked pretty on the lawn and reminded me of my hostel days in Dharwad where we collected them in buckets to pour them down from the terrace at unsuspecting visitors! The fond memories made me smile and shake head at our silly, harmless pranks. Ah, those carefree days of student life where fun was the mantra of life! My lips curved up with a nostalgic smile and it remained there as I sipped my tea watching the hailstones bounce off the floor and then settle comfortably. Halfway through my cuppa, I saw the clouds part and sun come out with all his glory and kiss the pearls of ice and melt them into a small puddles. Ah, the very unpredictable British weather! One minute it is raining, the next there is hailstones and the moment later the sun is shining only to hide behind the dark clouds as though a naughty boy has been sent back to his room while trying to sneak downstairs after way past his bedtime!

15 February, 2017

Fresh Turmeric and Ginger Pickle Recipe | Kachchi Haldi Aur Adrak Ka Achar

Learn how to make Fresh Turmeric and Ginger Pickle or Kachchi Haldi Aur Adrak Ka Achar ~ Pickled fresh turmeric and ginger in salt and lime juice

There's something soul satisfying about working with fresh ingredients which takes you down the memory lane and warms your heart with nostalgia! Especially when it something that’s difficult to source when you are thousands of miles away from home, like this fresh turmeric roots. After making a unique winter dish of Rajasthani Raw Turmeric Curry (do check this recipe and cook some if you haven’t already), I decided to make another favourite recipe that takes me back home, to the carefree days which coloured my hands and heart with sunshine yellow hues... I am talking about a very simple and easy to make Kachchi Haldi aur Adrak Ka Achar or Raw Turmeric and Ginger Pickle.

The word ‘pickle’ comes from the Dutch pekel or German pĆ³kel, meaning salt or brine, two very important components in the pickling process. Throughout history pickling was a necessity, as it was the best way to preserve food for a long period of time before canning came into picture. Pickles are created by immersing fresh fruits or vegetables in an acidic liquid or saltwater brine until they are no longer considered raw or vulnerable to spoilage, hence extending their shelf life to months and some for years. Pickles have been around for thousands of years, dating as far back as 2030 BC in India. It is believed that pickles originated in India and the cucumbers were the first to be pickled in the Tigris Valley. As one of the earliest mobile foods, pickles filled the stomachs of hungry sailors and travelers, while also providing families with a source of food during harsh cold winter months when fresh produce were hard to grow or source. (Source: History in a jar)

03 February, 2017

Rajasthani Haldi Ki Subji Recipe | Fresh Turmeric Curry Recipe

Learn how to make Rajasthani Haldi Ki Subji or Fresh Turmeric Curry ~ Fresh turmeric and green peas cooked in a spicy, creamy tomato and yogurt curry

Curry lovers all over the world are familiar with one ingredient without which you can’t imagine cooking curry! I am talking about one of the most popular spice turmeric which leaves yellow stains on everything which it comes in contact with. It’s one spice that’s been traditionally used as a spice in Indian, Asian and African cuisines for more than 4,500 years! So what made this quintessential ingredient for curries and stews to migrate to fancy (not) things like Turmeric Lattes, cold pressed juices, smoothie bowls etc? What is it about this stone age staple that suddenly graduated into some kind of super food in the last couple of years?

Turmeric has always found its way into our dinner plates every single day. There isn’t a savoury dish in our home that goes untouched without a sprinkle of this gold dust. I grew up hearing about the healing properties of turmeric since I was a toddler. One sneeze and my grandma would run to her kitchen to make me a cup of Turmeric Milk or Kashaya with a generous pinch of turmeric. According to her there isn’t a cold or sore throat can’t be healed with a warm cup of turmeric milk. A scratch, a cut or deep wound was healed with a coat of turmeric paste either prepared by grinding the fresh turmeric root or by mixing ground turmeric with water. Pimples, skin problems? No problem. Ground turmeric from fresh roots or powdered form mixed with sandal wood paste or gram flour or milk or fresh cream had always been our choice of face mask for any beauty treatments. The trust we have on this golden hued spice was not born a year or couple of years ago, but since over 4,500 years ago which is now backed with scientific researches making turmeric one of the most admired super foods of the century.

20 January, 2017

Lime and Fresh Green Peppercorn Pickle Recipe | Pickled Green Peppercorns and Limes in Brine

Learn how to make Lime and Fresh Green Peppercorn Pickle ~ Pickled Indian limes and fresh green peppercorns in brine

‘Sacred’ is a very special word that I use for pickles. Pickles, a heart and soul of Indian cuisine is the most precious condiments without which our meals are unimaginable and well, incomplete. The word pickle is an emotion and it screams ‘home’. Whichever part of India and Indian subcontinents we might come from, a smudge of pickle on a plate has the capacity to make even the simple meal of dal and rice seem more appetising. For Indians, pickles are not mere a condiment, but an integral part of the meal and a tasty accompaniment which keeps us connected to our roots even when we are thousands of miles away from our home and homeland.

As a child, my first food memories revolves around pickle. Come summer and my ancestral home would transform into a buzzing pickle factory. Pickle making was a family effort and everyone in our large joint family had a role to play in this most exciting process. There were special mango trees cultivated in our family estate specially reserved for pickling. These pickling mangoes had right amount of acidity, texture and crunch for making the perfect and most delicious pickles. It was my grandfather’s role to make sure that the farm workers plucked the mangoes at the right time before they matured, taking care not to drop them on the grounds as they reduced the shelf life. Most mangoes were pickled before they developed hard stones and some were left on the trees to mature for other varieties of mango pickles. As a child, I remember watching the workers expertly climb a century old mango trees and pick the mango bunches and carefully stock them in a wicker baskets hanging next to them in a long rope. Once the basket was filled to the brim, it was carefully lowered to the ground where it was emptied into huge wicker baskets lined with gunny bags. Thousands and thousands of tender mangoes were then carried back home where the ladies of the house eagerly waited.