Sunday, May 25, 2008

Meme : Table Talk

I was surprised to see this tag from Nandita as I have been really keeping away from the blogger’s community, events and an award though I was posting regularly. There are just a handful of blogs I visit regularly and Doctor’s (as I like to call her) is one such. Thanks Nandita for pulling me out of the slumber.

What’s your favorite table?

picture: www.Chopa.com

I love the Kotatsu, the Japanese tea table. At work we sit on a chair for long hours, so once home I love to squat on the floor. This square table is ideal for a family of four. It can be surrounded by futons or soft cushions depending where I am, in Bangalore the cushion is a must but in Mumbai futon is the right choice. I had wanted it but never ended up owning it after the carpenter created a fuss.

I tend to use my dinning/ tea table for almost everything like writing/ cleaning the veggies and almost always it become an all purpose table. I also love it because it allows me to spend quality time with my near and dear ones.

In Mumbai, the dining table is a six seater with a swing in the same room so I can chat up while serving the guests.

What would you have for your last supper?
Aww this keeps changing with my mood. Currently Bangalore style curd rice.

Let me think of it again, may be death by a Durian is what I’d like.


What’s your poison?
Currently ice tea poured into a tall glass with a perfect slice of lime slid on the edge.

Name your three desert island ingredients.
A toothpick ;)! need to stay off deserts.....but chocolate drip, Hapoos aamras and cubes on vanilla ice cream and fruits to lessen the guilt when I am allowed to have it.

What would you put in Room 101?
a nice perfume...no food...

Which book gets you cooking?
e-cookbooks when I am specifically looking for some restaurant style cooking.

What’s your dream dinner party line-up?
Family it’s been a long time since all of us met up together for dinner. Bal, Somu if you are reading this give us an opportunity soon.

What was your childhood teatime treat?
Maska pav/ brun sliced horizontally and buttered generously, then sliced into fingers just about to hold all digits together. Oh I need to make a pictorial on that one.

Gol Khari/ Butter or Bhavanagari soaked in tea for evenings. Butter is the stiff bread seen in the picture and Bhavanagari is the shev there.

Why childhood, it is still a treat for me and that is what family gets for me all the way from Mumbai, and they get dirty looks at the airport for carrying such stuff separately in large bags with handle with care labels on it, lest the Butters~~ get crushed. :) LOL. V Bhau thank you! I'm still enjoying the last packet.

What was your most memorable meal?
The one I have described here
of garlic naans, made extra crisp, stuffed tomato curry and dal makhani with jeera rice. We licked our fingers, ain't that true desi way of appreciating food? It was special also because we were in a special place.

What was your biggest food disaster?
Cooking
for Blr 5.5 viz Anand, Asawari, Alok, Varsha and Gauri. We decided to make Pudina rice with corn and I made so much that we could have eaten it for 2 full days. They were witness to the disaster. Anand could not stop joking about it as both he and Alok are meager eaters and lanky guys, he kept saying, "Did we give you the impressions that we could eat that much". I packed boxes for distributing to the poor after our dinner and handed it over to them when they left.

What’s the worst meal you’ve ever had?
My only aunt (Aatya) invited me for lunch and served me stir fried greens and rice when I was young. I don’t complain much about simple food served by simple people but this memory refuses to be erased. For me the meal can be tagged worst only when it is served without a care.

Who’s your food hero/food villain?
Hero: Tony Bourdain for his open mind for all kinds of food he tries on his travels across the world, since I am pretty conservative, Indian vegetarianism is my style.

Food Villain: I'll look out for one now that you ask. It's a strong emotion not associated with food, I'm talking of villainy

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Arisi Upma




Sometimes we wonder why family behaves strangely. I have been inviting Uncle M to Blr for a good three years. However he is not able to make it, he is a busy man I do understand. As a daughter I would love to have both Kaka and Kaki over here but they have not been able to visit me. I think I must be lacking somewhere in my expression of love towards them.

Anyways here is Arisi Upma for my Uncle M who loves spicy food. It is a Hyderabadi variation of the regular upma made at the cafeteria at work. Arisi Upma gets its name from the rice meal that is used to make it instead of semolina that is used for regular upma.

Ingredients

1 cup rice meal
2 small brinjals
1 onion
2 tomatoes
1 teaspoon sambhar powder
1/2 teaspoon mustard seed
1 teaspoon split black lentil
1 green chili
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon asafoetida
salt to taste
1.5 cup water
2 tablespoon oil

Heat oil, splutter mustard seeds, fry the split black lentil and add the asafoetida. Fry the onions and then add the rice meal, give it a stir. Add thinly sliced brinjals, chopped chili and tomatoes. Cook till tender. Add water, salt and sugar. Cover and cook till rice meal is done also check if the brinjal is done too.

Uncle M you don't have to go to Hyderabad for this upma, I can make it for you, but yes you will have to come to visit me at Blr soon. I got your pictures though don't demand copyright!


My Uncle M in his indominable spirits!


Aruna Kaki the pillar of strength and Somu


Somu thanks for being with Kaka and Kaki all this while :)


Thursday, May 08, 2008

Bare Necessities




When in school the movie Jungle Book was released and as Regal cinema was just across my school we just had to go for the movie. So the school booked the entire theatre for 2 shows for us. After which for many months we were smitten by this song and we would dance just like Bhaloo during our breaks. Ritu Pal, a classmate did it really well and she would dance in many a music class when we were learning this song.

As I grew up I understood and appreciated Bhaloo's mantra even more. This song is written for kids and I must admit it moulded my mind even at that young age. I feel the need to remind many of the people I care for about this song they might have enjoyed years ago or even if they haven't, they should actively listen to it now.

Does it touch you somewhere? It ought to.

We live in times when careers are so important to us. The Money that is meant to provide bare necessities is not enough for us. We pride ourselves in being global resources, earning salaries that match global trends. We are big spenders on a better home, better car, fashionable hangouts etc. We are in the rat race accept it! We mocked the American culture for this and we are doing exactly the same thing.

Family life is being affected by this rat race. Who could realize this more than a person like me who has lived in a joint family of 18 and now we are just 2 of us here in Blr.

The trends show, now it is more commonplace to see couples living separately by attribute of their career. Is career so important? Gone are the days when people like my Mom who did not pursue a career just to be at home and take care of not only me, her only child but even the rest of the family and visitors too. That is not the norm now but should not one of the spouse be making it possible to be together. It is really sad to see many couples separated by distance. This physical distance then creates ravines in the relationships that go beyond repair.

The women aspires to have any kind of career and some who have good ones want to give their best to it. The men are pushed even harder to be better providers, better schools for kids, better looks to match the women. Yes even looking good is not just a pressure for women anymore.

I know people who cannot sleep as they are working hard so they are on pills and some others take pills to stay awake so they can pack more into the day. Where are we heading by doing this? Why are we playing with the most natural healer that is sleep? Analyse this, is it worth it to invest in your work life that you will be done with in a couple of decades? No one will be able to sustain at the current speed. After the worklife is over you will find the rest of the decades gaping at you and no one around you. Simply because you were not around people who needed you most.

The women need to think, do I need the money I earn for myself or the family? Most times it is for themselves, very few shoulder the family demands equally with the husband, this is true especially in middle class and above in Indian families. There are fewer women who need the money they earn, to support families. The men need to think, is family demanding for things beyond their reach. Who is responsible for setting the expectations right? Both need to think what is it they will achieve by so much compromise on personal life?

Are we ready for a simple life? Else the future is dark.

Yes I am. The process began for me 3 years ago quite slowly but deliberately.

I would like to hear a resounding echo from the people I care for, brothers, sisters, friends and all those who are reading this. Go pick up the phone and say no matter what happens you want to be with people you care for and money is just a medium for bare necessities.

Talmalichi vinanti aahe. This is my heartfelt request to you all.

Are you ready to hold hands and feel the power of two? :)

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Matkichi Usal


It is not an everyday thing to have Matkichi usal on the menu here in Blr at our home unlike in Mumbai. While in Mumbai we would have it almost once a week. In Blr I have to hunt for these legumes.

Matki, Moth or Moat is a small brown bean. It is particularly popular in Marathi and Gujarati cuisine, both make a slight variation of this Usal. Now Usal can be a dryish stir fry made with beans or a liquid curry. We like both the consistencies. It is a dry stir fry when I need to carry in the lunch box and watery for enjoyment at home.

Matki Usal is so much loved among Maharashtrians that it is one of those dishes that is enjoyed at any time of the day. A lightly flavored one for morning breakfast topped with grated coconut, for lunch, as an evening snack converted to a Sprouts Dahi Misal or at dinner time.

Yet the real secret lies in the spice, one may use simple spices for flavoring bean curries but for optimum taste a true Matkichi Usal has to be spiced with Goda masala or Kala Masala and jaggery adding an extra dimension to it. Yes those masalas are the ones that churned discussions all over the blogosphere sometime ago.

Though this is a traditional Marathi recipe it is not much popular with the carnivores that Kolis are. It's too tame for a Koli, almost to the point of dislike. However our family is a Matki Usal freak as much as a dal freak and has therefore earned the comment "Bhat zalet ho!" (They actually mean they have tamed, I won't do transliteration of the comment as I don't take pride in the conversion ;)).


Ingredients

Sprouting Matki

1/2 cup Matki/ Moth Beans

Wash and soak Matki in water all night, the beans should be covered with sufficient amount of water. Drain the water in the morning and put onto a sieve or tie it up in a muslin cloth. It takes a day to sprout in summer, once the sprouts are as big as the beans they are ready for use. While they are sprouting just toss them around to aerate so they don't become slimy. A 1/2 cup of matki gives about 2 cups and a little more of sprouts

Making the Usal

2 cups matki sprouts
1 onion chopped medium
2 tomatoes or 2 tablespoon tamarind pulp
1/2 teaspoon Kala Masala or Goda Masala
1 green chili
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1.5 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon jaggery powder

Heat oil in a wok. Fry the onions till translucent. Add the cut green chilies, turmeric, red chili powder, Kala or Goda masala mix thoroughly. Add the sprouted matki and stir to coat it with the masala and pour water enough to cover the sprouts. Cover and cook. It takes 20 mins to cook well. Check if done by pressing a bean between the finger. Once cooked add the chopped tomatoes and jaggery, boil once. Tomatoes should be added at the end so that the matki is allowed to cook well and quickly. Tartness normally slows down cooking so this needs to be taken care of. Put off the heat. Serve with Chapati or bread of your choice.

To add the Koli untamed attitude to this post I must add my tuppence to the fart manual. Prudes don't read any further, you can go straight to the last line.


"Ada pada kon pada, damboricha ghoda pada". This used to be a game we played when someone liberated themselves while in a group. One points a finger at each member in the group and the one who gets the last word is the artist in hot air creation.

Also

A riddle that was very popular, "Don dongrachye madhin Bhikya Bombalte!" I'll try to say it in English, "Who is this Bhikya(name) that shrieks between two mountains? Guess it? (trying to keep a straight face)

Lets celebrate the Beans 'n Lentils fest with this sweet Punjabi Fart song, please sing together and dance to beats that drown the human sound effects. Dhum, Dhumak Dhum Dhum Dhola Re~~~

Hope Bee and Jai enjoy this post, I did writing it! Thank you!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Orange Choco Marble Cake


We are geared for the festive week ahead with Orange Choco Marble Cake, Mast Ladoo and Chivda.

The Brahmachaitanya Mandir at Bangalore is celebrating the 25th anniversary of Gopal Krishna idol. So we have guests from Mumbai, Pune and other parts of Maharashtra and Karnataka. After coming to Blr and living so close to the temple we have been blessed to meet more like minded people. It reminds me a lot of my native place, Thal. The feeling of belonging to a community that I never experienced in Mumbai as our family was mostly away from it.

So here we are ready to meet lots of people, it will be a time for lot of discussions. I like to be a listener at such times, absorbing the experiences of people from different walks of life. It is amazing to watch and listen to genuine stories and some fibs people tell with such confidence. One meets some prudes that don't think beyond their themselves and their immediate benefits and some emotional ones that make you realize what devotion and submission is, to the greater being. Also people who take themselves so seriously that they forget the work given to them. It is a great ground for learning.

At work too we had a Confluence that drained my energies for the last 2 months, gave me sleepless nights. In the end I am able to say it was a great experience, good learning and earning in the terms of acceptance by a large no.of people. I do not know whether this will make my year of dedication worth while. Hope the people value it, bosses included. I received very good support from part of the team. So to thank them I baked some stuff and took along some Chivda too.

I gave out some fun poor man's awards that totally shocked my team and and I was thrilled to see them smiling a lot and I am very sure they shared the stories of the fun with their spouses and kids.

All this said and done, Shree Brahmachaitanya Maharaj says, "Vayavahar kadhi sodu naye". (One has to be practical in this world).

While I strike a balance of the two different worlds this Orange Choco Marble Cake actually symbolizes that. Life has a marble effect. It is not homogeneous. The flavours must complement each other, the tartness and the sweetness. Come to think of it I enjoy both equally. I am gearing up for a practical decision that I have skirted for a long time.

Oh after this rambling I must give the recipe here, it is a food blog after all.

Ingredients

for the orange layer

1 cups all purpose flour
3 tablespoons Tang
1.5 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 cup oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup milk
3 tablespoon vinegar

for the choco layer

1 cups all purpose flour
4 tablespoons Cadbury's cocoa powder
1.5 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Mapro's Chocolate syrup
3/4 cup sugar
1/8 cup oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup milk
3 tablespoon vinegar

To prepare the cake tin/ loaf tin

1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon all purpose flour


Prepare the tin first by coating it with oil and dusting with the flour. Keep aside.

Take to big bowl and work simultaneously on both. Mix together all the dry items.

Choco bowl: all purpose flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Sieve to homogenize and aerate.

Put the milk and vinegar in a small bowl and blend. As the milk curdles add the oil, butter, sugar and chocolate syrup and make it frothy.

Fold in the flour mix lightly. Keep the batter aside

Orange Bowl: all purpose flour, Tang, baking powder and salt. Sieve to homogenize and aerate.

Put the milk and vinegar in a small bowl and blend. As the milk curdles add the oil, butter, sugar and make it frothy.

Fold in the flour mix lightly.

Now in the prepared tin, scoop out the orange batter first then add the choco batter then top with orange layer again. Now pass a knife through the batter like a wave, this will give the marble effect once baked.

Preheat oven at 180 deg Celsius for 10 mins. Push the tin in and bake till done. Since I used a loaf tin it took me a good 35 mins to bake.

For the icing

50gms butter
2 tablespoons orange zest
50 grams fine granular sugar

Whip all the ingredients together.

Let the cake cool completely. Turn out the cake on a serving dish. Spread the orange butter cream on the cake. This spread is grainy and different for an icing.

The cake has wonderful flavors, is visually appealing and incredibly soft for an eggless cake. I think I have found a secret to moist cakes in this recipe

I must credit this recipe to a whole study I did of all the recipes of eggless cakes, marble ones, orange ones and chocolate ones too all facilitated by the Google we love.

Weekend Music:

Saturday was a Wham day: careless whispers, last christmas, jesus to a child etc. All my favorites.

Sunday was Marathi Music day:
Man Udhaana Vaaryache
Garvaa
Shankar Mahadevan Live - Marathi - lAjUn hAsaNe

Any non Marathi (especially SI) guys wooing Marathi girls go catch Shankar Mahadevan for a crash course. Gosh his wifey is one lucky Marathi Mulgi.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Chutney Pulav

Chutney Pulao, Vegetable kurma and papad

Chutney is a generic name for an All Indian dip. When an ingredient losses identity in the process they say it its turned into a chutney rather I would like to say when flavors merge to give birth to some yummy dip, it is of course a chutney.

When one needs to build bridges between the South and Maharashtra. When someone born in one state but parents are from a different state and loves some one from a different state, then Bambaiya for it is chutney! LOL

This rice is made with a chutney when one needs something fast and quick. Mostly for people with least interest in food and thats when we foodies who slog so much to create something different everyday can just put up our feet and relax.

This chutney pulao is to make peace between a Marathi and is pudina(mint) rice for a Kannadiga (what?). ;)

Ingredients

2 bowls cooked Sona masuri rice
1 Onion chopped fine
1 cup mint leaves packed tight
1/2 cup cilantro
2-3 green chilies
1 teaspoon sugar
1 lemon juice
salt to taste
1/2 cup mint leaves chopped coarsely

1 tablespoon oil
1/4 cup cashew nuts

Grind together mint leaves, cilantro, green chilies, sugar, salt and lemon juice to make a chutney. Save.

Heat oil, fry the cashew nuts to a golden color, add onions and fry till translucent. Add the chutney and stir for 3-4 secs. Add the cooked Sona masuri rice and mix well. Why only Sona masuri? Coz the Kannadiga won't eat any other. Put off the heat and mix in the chopped mint leaves.

Put the rice in a mould and unmold onto a serving dish. One can garnish it with a sprig of mint.


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