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Archive for the ‘Easy Indian Recipes’ Category

The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is that good people do nothing – you must be the change that you want to see in the world

For me to quote Gandhi is an irony – I respected him but was never a pacifist, I abhorred any form of injustice and could never keep my big mouth shut…be it slapping someone  double my size who was eve-teasing a timid classmate on the bus to refusing to bribe a police man who had wrongfully confiscated our kinetic honda….there are “n” number of incidents in my life where my choices decided my place in life and it is a place I am happy in…of course there are moments where I have the “what if” questions in my head but I am happy with the majority of the choices I have made in my life…I am ok with not grazing with the herd…and standing out, if  I believe I am walking the right path…

A realization I had late in life in my 8th week of pregnancy was that my baby was what I eat…so I started my treks to the sunday farmer’s market…slowly as my pregnancy progressed I made new friends in the market, people I knew by name – who sold me the freshest eggs, the sweetest strawberries, the strangest looking sunchokes, sumptuous pies, locally sourced honey, and many other things…I learnt that Zucchini flowers could replace pumpkin flowers in the fritters I made that reminded me of home…for the past 6 years I have been mind fully moving a lot of our eating habits to organic foods…watching Aamir Khan’s “Satyameva Jayate” made me feel good about my decision. To A my brother who tells me I have a tendency to over-correct…whatdya say now? This week has been mind-opening  food wise with a constant deluge of movies like : Food Fight, Ingredients and Toast

Why do we revisit our life as we know it at least twice ( for sure) in our lives :

  1. On New Year’s Eve
  2. On our Birthday’s

The years are galloping by – don’t know when I left the teenage and hit adulthood and have been officially middle-aged for a while now…any regrets, of course a number but my perspective now is to look at the glass half full vs. half empty. Does that mean I have become Ms. Sunshine & Sweetness….not really — I still terrorize K2 to write a journal, take a nap, eat healthy stuff….and nag K1 to take the garbage out, listen to me (yeah like that’s happening),  cut the veggies etc….but I do believe this year I learnt to prioritize what matters most and I think what matters most is My Family — I love them and I know that they define me and my existence. I have prioritized happiness – I know life is not always fair and maybe I don’t get what I want or deserve, yet when I take a step back and get a handle on where my life is, I feel grateful…I feel blessed and I choose happiness. I have prioritized inner peace – I choose to kick out that ANT  that was trying to make a place in my mind…making me question the purpose of living, futility of existence etc. etc…I have prioritized health be it my weekly treks to the Farmer’s Market, my foodie adventures in my local market, cooking grains with weird names ( quinoa, farro, amaranth…) or my energizing Zumba classes, relaxing Yoga classes and nature walks with the 2 K’s…

Breakfast yesterday was a blast from the past…something Ma used to make time and again for  me and I am keeping the cycle going –  the little guy loves all things eggs. I am sure y’all have your own version of good old scrambled eggs and toast.

For akoori (parsi scrambled eggs) and Toast

  • 2 Organic Jumbo Brown Eggs ( Olivera Egg Ranch)
  •  4 Egg Whites
  • 2 Thai Chili Peppers (Teng Lee Farm) – finely chopped
  • 1 vine ripened Tomato (Rensendiz Farm) – finely chopped
  • 1 Purple Spring Onion (large) (Rodriguez Farm) – finely chopped
  • Fresh Cilantro (Rodriguez Farm) – finely chopped
  • EVOO
  • Organic Turmeric Powder, Roasted Cumin Powder
  • Beckmann’s Oat Bran Bread

Add 1 tbspoon of EVOO to wok. When the oil heats — add the turmeric and cumin powder – it hisses and sizzles. Then add the chopped onions and the chillies (no chillies for K2). Once it has browned ( go with your gut, its all about the smell and the look). add in chopped tomatoes and cook. While the tomatoes are cooking I break the eggs in a bowl and lightly whisk with some salt ( I used some pink australian sea salt that I had, that I needed to use). Add the eggs to the mixture. Stir till the eggs reach the consistency you like ( I like it really well-done, not soft and runny). Add some organic TJ’s Ketchup (maybe a spoonful, don’t ask me why, I just like it this way).  Sprinkle the cilantro on top.

In parallel make your toast -I usually enjoy my toast with my akoori…one bite of toast and one bite of the egg — some kind of heaven that is. K2 likes his toast with Nutella or Chocolate Peanut Butter and K1 with regular peanut butter 🙂

For me the meal takes me back to childhood but I am conscious that every bite of this meal is locally sourced/pesticide free/organic . This is one of the fool-proof meals that K2 will eat without a single complaint. I usually pair it with a bowl of cut peaches or strawberries to make it a breakfast-dinner kind of a meal for him (when I am unusually tired or usually lazy 🙂 ). Sending this over a topic close to my heart : Let’s Cook: Kids Specia being hosted by Tickling Palates

How do I plan to spend my birthday – work, hug my son, work some more, talk to Bapa, work some more, hug K1, work some more….have a really lovely meal ( I am really craving Ethiopian….why is it that the Peninsula has no good Ethiopian?)…So Another year goes by and life goes on too…

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I wonder why it has to be “sick as a dog“…not a cat, rat, parrot or a chimpanzee…actually wait a minute, given “J’s” close encounters of the parasital kinds in Feb and all the TLC we have given to get that sick ol’ guy back on his 4 feet…maybe it kinda sorta makes sense. In this case the “sick as a dog” describes me (and A – my visiting brother). Here’s what happened…”B” was down from India…partied much (or that’s my version and I stand by it) passed the virus something to A that he oh! so lovingly just had to share with his beloved sister “M” (yes me…the resulting BAM! is still resounding in the back aches, the coughs and the voice lost and the ever-friendly viral fever…not really willing to leave for good)…
Work load hasn’t eased up and I really don’t expect it to ease up oh! for at least the next 12 months…joys of working on a 1.0 release and all that ( reality is I love it and wouldn’t have it anyother way…) but this darn viral flu thingie is pulling me down…I am shuffling like an old hag, haven’t cooked till today (don’t ask me how we survived Subway, some unappetizing one-pot rice thing I called Khichidi, Panda Express, Trader Joes, Whole Foods and one good meal cooked by A when he was feeling a little better….joys of having a spouse who REALLY can’t cook). Anyway, I was ready for a comfort meal today (and it ain’t happening in my kitchen without me moving….), so I made something simple in 20 minutes…it may be frowned on by ANDI for the lack of so-called immunity building stuff….BUT I savored every bite of it…so go figure !!!

Here’s what I did :

  1. Boiled a pound of white potatoes+ 2 cups of rice in a pressure cooker (if you have a super big PC, great you can do both together at one go) – 5 minutes
  2. Squeeze 2 big Meyer Lemons
  3. Peel the white potatoes and cube
  4. Keep the following things on hand : Raw Peanuts, Curry Leaves (fresh)
  5. For Tadka : Hing, Mustard, Urad Dal
  6. Salt to taste

In the wok (and I used just one) :-

For the potatoes :
  1. Add Oil, about 1 tablespoon (try using a neutal one)
  2. Add hing when the oil is hot and then add the mustard and urad dal. When the tadka is dancing in the wok, then hit it with the curry leaves followed by 1/2 teaspoon of Turmeric and 1/2 teaspoon of Red Chili Powder (reduce it if you have a wimpy spice tolerance level )
  3. Add the potatoes. Cook for 10 minutes  or till potatoes go crispy on the edge like in the picture
  4. Salt to taste

For the Lemon Rice :

  1. Add Oil, about 1 tablespoon (try using a neutal one)
  2. Add hing when the oil is hot and then add the mustard and urad dal. When the tadka is dancing in the wok, then hit it with the curry leaves followed by 1/2 teaspoon of Turmeric and the raw peanuts
  3. When the peanuts are cooked through, add in the lemon juice
  4. Add in the rice
  5. Salt to taste
Dinner was done in 20 minutes….truth be told it exhausted me but my stomach thanks me now. Comfort for me right now is the warmth of my bed on this cold day…a simple yet fulfilling meal…a hug shared with my son….a conversation with loved ones…
Comfort for me…something I keep running back to time and again is this book A had got almost 30 years back in school…which I have kept…it is a “shloka” book. Every time I need to quiet the mind or bring it some comfort, I pick it up and read it and I find comfort…it has along with prayers, this treasury of sayings and I share one with you –
What is defeat? Nothing but education, nothing but the first step to something better…
This blog post goes to Kirthi’s Kitchen for her event Serve it – Stir Fried — an event ideated by Denny who aptly says “We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection” and to Sravani for her event : Vegan Diet

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I picked up three different editions  of “Positive Discipline” this week – (a) Positive Discipline for Pre-Schoolers (b) Positive Discipline for Working Parents and (c) A-Z of Positive Discipline. I don’t know how successful I will be in reading and incorporating the principles of the book into my life but as I say to myself everyday  take”baby steps”. K2 is mostly a bright, mentally exhausting engaging and precocious precious  little boy BUT even he has his off-days. His school has a reward system : every child starts the day with a sunshine, they can over time either get a rainbow (if they did something extraordinary) or a cloud (if they did something wrong) or a storm (something really wrong and the parent gets summoned)…K2 in 50 days of school has two rainbow and two clouds and multiple off-days. I love the fact that his teacher Mrs.B lets me know of the off-days (K2 not that much)…he does not want me talking to Mrs. B about him because he knows that he “loses” some privilege on the cloud/off-days days. So here is our conversation from yesterday:
Me: So why was yesterday an off-day K2
K2: Ma, I had my listening ears sleeping and so I didn’t listen to Mrs. B
Me : You know that is bad right!
K2 : Yes, but my listening ears are all awake now with you Ma (notice the slight-a-bit brown nosing)
Me : Well, I guess then you can hear clearly that you lose TV  privilege today
K2 : What about the computer?
Me : No
K2: ipad?
Me: No
K2: Leapster
Me: No
K2 (in tears) : What can I do then?
Me: Eat your parathas and work on a puzzle and some drawing homework

 K2 eating dosas on the kitchen counter as his Ma makes them for him…one of his favorite foods is dosas.

More tears and negotiations later….K2 did exactly that. But I fear that my tough love might be psychologically impacting the brat…hence the need for positive reinforcement (the eternal Pavlovian dog)with a book like the above mentioned …what journeys has parenting been taking you in?

There is an incessant cold filling my world…it is the precursor to winter and the chills and I would trade it in any day for the warm sun…I prefer the warmth and sunshine. Both K2 and I are prone to the winter sniffles, so I am trying to bolster the immunity system with a lot of warm foods (kapha alleviating foods) and chyvanprash for K2…we will see how successful I am with this. Anyway, while I was at the library picking up the parenting books, my eyes fell on another book “Sukham Ayu“and I was hooked. According to Ayurveda, Ayu or life is a synthesis of the body,senses, mind and soul. For there to be positive synergy, there needs to be balance. Balance is delicate and comes with moderation and the recognition of what food goes with one’s system and what doesn’t…For example – I absolutely adore spicy, heavy “goat curry” but don’t have it often (think 2-3 times a year)…the reason being that my tongue rejoices at first taste while my body revolts…there is this heavy sense in the stomach followed by severe heartburn. Unfortunately, even though the head says no, there are times when I give into the temptation knowing the repercussions. The first recipe that I tried from this book was a “soopa” or a “soup”….I made the Vegetable and Lentil Soopa today and that will be our dinner with toasted multigrain bread.

 here is a picture of the soopa pre-blending….check out the beautiful orange hue from the pumpkin.


Ingredients:
  1. 2 cups cut pumpkin ( Halloween remnants)
  2. 1 cup Lauki/bottlegourd
  3. 1 cup Cabbage
  4. 1 cup Green Beans
  5. 1/2 Cup of Mung Dal
  6. 1/2 cup finely chopped Onions, 4 cloves of garlic
  7. Ghee, Salt, Pepper 

Steps:

  • Pressure Cook the first five items
  • Now fry the onions and garlic in a tad bit of ghee
  • Now take the veggies and the sauteed onions and garlic and blend in a blender ( I did it in my magic bullet)
  • Add back to the saucepan and simmer for a minute or two. Add salt ( they recommend rock salt, all I had was sea salt) and pepper to taste. I added toasted cumin powder and cinnamon powder too ( this was not recommended in the book but I felt like it).
  • Sprinkled Fresh Cilantro and enjoy with toasted multi grain bread.

Sending this recipe across to Vardhini  @ Vardhini’s Kitchen for the Zesty Palettes Series : Halloween Fiesta and Srivalli of Cooking4allSeasons for the Soups and Salads Mela  and I promise there will be more recipes to come from this book.

The truth my friends is the words of a Al Stewart song that someone had once penned for me – “Nothing that’s forced can ever be right, if it doesn’t come naturally, leave it”…different context but the words still ring true…if the philosophy of Ayurveda and mostly vegetarian eating sound strange just leave it…

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Imagine my horror when an 8 year old tells me her 4 year old sister has a crush on my 5 year old boy…ONLY the 11 year old standing next to me saw the jaw drop, the look of utter panic…she didn’t probably see the palpitations and heart “stops”…but she did give me an understanding smile. When did my little boy join a world where the girls in his class watch – Hannah Montana and talk about “girl friends et all”…Thankfully, my son is still at the stage of Diego and Caillou…he mostly ignores the comments and focuses on playing, drawing, crafts and puzzles but I know the external influences will soon impact his behavior and ideas. I won’t be the mother who is the naysayer but I definitely won’t say I am comfortable with this. We soon forgot about it to loud bollywood music and uncoordinated dancing (mother and son).

Today is Diwali — yet it was a full school and work day – so we had to make do with short cuts. For food we made a wonderful “mush” called Khichidi to warm our souls and lighten our stomach. In India Diwali is all about sweets, puri and aloo, heavy dinners and lunches and we decided to go the opposite path….khichidi is like a “mush” a thick porridge like creamy consistency — the simpler you keep it the better it tastes.

Detox Mush Khichidi
1/2 Cup Brown Rice
1/2 Cup  Moong Dal (slightly toasted)
1/2 Cup Fresh chopped veggies (carrots, beans)
1/2 Pack Pacific Foods — Creamy Organic Butternut Squash Soup
Fresh Cilantro, 1 Half Lemon, Chili Oil (if you so please)

Heat Ghee in the pressure cooker. Add Hing (Asefotida) if you have it, when it sizzles add turmeric powder and grated fresh ginger. Then add the chopped veggies. Fry for a minute. Now add the brown rice and the moong dal — fry it for a minute. Instead of water, I add the soup in lieu of water. I let the pressure cooker go 3 whistles….check salt and season if needed. Now squeeze in the lemon, sprinkle the cilantro and if you need an added kick add the chili oil (mine is from Trader Joes). Enjoy Mush Khichidi with a glass of spiced buttermilk….
p.s :- The Rangoli is made with sidewalk chalk and the diyas are environmental friendly tea lights.Happy Diwali !!!

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What do you get when you couple an overly zealous nutritionista with an equally health conscious freak…someone who is looking at every meal that she is feeding her family with “evaluative” eyes – it was when K2 looked at me…rolled his eyes…and sighed  like the drama king that he is —Parathas…AGAIN ( let me clarify these are not regular parathas – they are made with equal proportion of whole wheat and millet (jowar) and are stuffed with grated, cooked and lightly spiced broccoli, carrots and sweet potatoes..teamed with a cup of yogurt and apple) that I realized that I needed to loosen the leash a little. An article “Food Trends Men Hate”on Yahoo brought home this point amply…if interested you can read the article here.
I have to admit to doing some of the things mentioned in the article (and then some more)…from plying reluctant K1 with Tofu (gullible K2 ate it thinking it was cheese, he still loves it…note to self – train them early) to bringing home beanitos instead of regular chips which K1 still refuses to touch….the list goes on and on. Anyway when I said I am loosening the leash…I really am (ahem! at least trying to…). When I was young my mother made a scrumptious snack called “Shakkarpara”…mostly during Diwali. Every Diwali, the house was cleaned out, the pandit ( the religious cook) was summoned and he cooked on a huge wok outside and he dished out amazing dishes like the Malpua ( a crispy fried pancake like dish) , Rabdi ( tastes like condensed milk only 1000 times better), Coconut Burfis, Gulab Jamuns, Sev….the list goes on.But I mostly looked forward to the Shakkarpara and Namakparra (nimki)…

I rolled up my sleeves and tried to recreate the magic of days past…when life was uncomplicated, carefree….there was no thought of nutrition or heath as we gorged ourselves on sweets, savory dishes, exotic meat dishes…of course, the way my mother made her Shakkarpara was this with Maida and with a sugar syrup which thickly coated the fried crisps. I made a few changes to the traditional and if I may say so, I was not only surprised but absolutely loved the recipe — this one is a keeper.This recipe goes out to Radhika of Tickling Palates for the event : Diwali Special

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/5 cup sugar (add Stevia if you want to avoid sugar, I used Turbinado Organic Brown Sugar)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp ghee ( I make mine at home from Organic Valley Butter)
  • 2 pinches of finely ground cardamom powder
  • a pinch of salt, a pinch of baking soda
  • Saffola (Canola or any healthy oil for deep frying)

Sieve the whole wheat, they usually do this in India but I skip this step. I warm the milk slightly and add to the flour and start kneading…same with the sugar and the 2 tbsp of ghee. Once the dough is pliable I covered with a wet cloth and kept aside for an hour. Then I started rolling out the dough in circles (much like a paratha)…I used a regular knife and cut it into diamond shape (or sort of a diamond shape….work with me here). Finally deep fry the diamonds. Enjoy as is (that is how K2 enjoyed his…see above). I had mine with a hot cup of herbal tea — Mighty Leaf (African Nectar).

I know a lot of my thoughts on nutrition and health are  based as much on gut instinct as learnt knowledge from books, blogs and the internet.Unlike most other folks I know I can’t  dismiss the “touchy-feely” in my life.In the business world “touchy-feely” is taboo but more often than not that primal gut instinct aids us more than most other skills…human beings have a tendency to be “organizational icebergs“…a public face and a private face…I find that pretty tiresome…how can you de-personalize or compartmentalize12-14 hours of your work life. I can’t…anyway there my friends I give you the excellent concept of “touchy-feely”…trust your gut, practise WYSIWYG and be true to yourself…then life will be sweet all the way…just like my awesome Shakkarparas.
p.s: k2 turned 5…another milestone, and more to come!!!

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Some random scribbles in the notebook on a random sort of a day at a random sort of time:

What do you do when you are feeling blue
Maybe whine, frown or mope,
Or do you sigh, grieve sulk and moan?
Maybe punch a pillow (someone) real hard? 

The sky is blue,
The water is a turquoise blue
My son’s room is blue,
What’s the color blue got to do with a foul mood?

If you were feeling red would you still be in bed
If you were feeling green would you need some codeine?
If your feeling yellow would you go to the clinic pronto,
Blue I think is –  for jumping in and having fun all day

The past 3 days have been quite miserable, intermittent rain showers, cold and a lack of enthusiasm to do much except listen to Carpenters …hearing the news about Steve Jobs made it worse :

The world has lost someone who has truly changed the way we live : a visionary, a creative genius…

What do you do when Life throws you a curve ball – you try to catch it aka you try to maintain a semblance of normalcy…so for me that normalcy meant watching – Michael Madana Kamaraj, a hilarious tamil movie from 1990 – the dvd that I fortuitously found lying in a drawer that I was cleaning and who isn’t ready for a good mindless laugh at a time like this…K2 is sitting and working on his homework and suddenly he looked up and said – Ma, I am hungry, can we eat something !!!

I rummaged in my overflowing freezer. I picked the Annie Chun – Chicken Cilantro Mini Wontons which I pan-fried and steamed and made a dip sauce with low sodium soy sauce, mirin, minced garlic and brown sugar. That is always a sure winner with him (he ate 8).
I also made “Muri-Mixture” — something I hadn’t had in ages but which I associated with good memories – I made it in less than a minute
 

  1. Muri (Puffed Rice)
  2. 2 drops Mustard Oil
  3. Haldi Ram – Navarattan Mixture
  4. Chopped Red Onions (in my fridge)
  5. Thai Red Chilly ( minced – in my fridge)

Put it all in a bowl…mix and enjoy! K2 got a kid friendly version without chillies or red onions. If I was more inclined I would have added some cilantro leaves and some fresh chopped tomatoes. Sending my “Muri Mixture” over to Srivalli’s event – Kid’s Delight Party

I am almost done with my movie – K2 is done with his homework and I am not so “blue” anymore…yet there is a sense of poignancy…a sadness that won’t go away today and I am ok with it remaining : RIP Steve. You sure rocked my son’s world with the ipad2 !!!

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IMs are chatty…informational, work-oriented…for me never a medium that leaves me with something  profound to think about…yet yesterday B told me via IM – You are dealt the cards you are dealt and you learn to play…Something to think about right. So I refused to be that Joe…some guy in the cartoons from the 1940s with a perpetual cloud over his head.

I grabbed K2 and we did his homework – yes we added a little bling (not called for but oh! so enjoyed) with glitter glue and we had so much fun doing it — it is something called a friendship quilt (who would have thunk this mom got creative…hey if I see you sniggering quit it…this is someone who couldn’t draw a straight line). When we were all done and K1 got home, I wore my dancing shoes and went to a zumba class — some me time, lots of sweating…and I felt better.

And today…I focused on soul food…if you asked me what is the one thing I “yearn” for in all things food…it is not Dalma or Kosha Mangsho or Rosgulla…I know…I know…I am betraying my north-eastern heritage….what I crave for is : Mor Kuzhambu and Kothavarakai Poriyal ( kadi and guvar subzi with a south indian twist).

And guess what…I made it today and savored every bite of  food in my bowl ( V- thanks for being patient during my recipe check-in, it turned out fabulous !!!). Life is slowly looking up…of course it is not perfect…it never will be, I don’t have answers and maybe I never will. and I am ok with it…Que sera, sera.Whatever will be, will be.The future’s not ours to see.

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