Mortar, pestle and bliss!

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In India, women get to learn a lot of cooking techniques and recipes from the time they spend with their mothers and mother-in-laws in the kitchen. And if both of them–that is, your mother and mother-in-law–belong to different corners of the country, you have some amazing kitchen stories to be discovered. That’s certainly my case.

One fine, crisp morning, I curiously spotted my mother-in-law pounding something in one corner of the kitchen. Her name is Rajbala and she resides in Haryana. She was adding a few ingredients in the mortar and pestle, and later, emptied the paste in a steel box. When I ate it with my paratha, I tasted the world’s best raw chutney.

I have had the usual coriander chutney umpteen number of times, but a fenugreek one totally blew my mind away. I love the taste of garlic and I like curd in every form. My MIL picked up some fresh leaves from her kitchen garden and transformed the simple food ingredient into a powerful punch that pleased my taste buds like never before.

My lesson? Have this healthy chutney for breakfast and stay away from cereal packets and cold-pressed juice bottles. We Indians use fenugreek in various dishes. Personally, I use it in theplas, my roti batter and curries, but using it in my chutney is a sure hit. Its tangy flavour and smell is cheer magic.

Often, I get tired of the heavy, creamy curries and crave for something raw and simple to eat. Be it a freshly cut salad or a fruit chat, raw dishes touch my soul and are good for the body too. I have always had a craze for such recipes and dive right into the raw dish first, that is served on my plate.

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I guarantee, you will be ready to eat this chutney for your breakfast, lunch and dinnertime. Here you go:

Recipe: Methi ki chutney or fenugreek chutney

Pound a handful of fenugreek leaves and 4-5 cloves of garlic. Now add salt and 2 tablespoons of fresh curd. Pound for some more time. As soon as you see the ingredients have blended well, remove the coarse chutney into a glass or steel bowl. Eat it with a paratha or roti, or have it with your tikkis or pakoras.

Notes

Pounding is an enjoyable yet tough job. You don’t want to pound so much so that you faint. So keep the chutneys grainy. That’s the beauty of it.

Winter comfort

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Vinod aunty, my mum’s friend (and neighbour for more than two decades) is an ardent cook. Talk about the importance of cooking everything at home, and she’ll proudly say: Eating homemade food is the best feeling. Apart from my mum, it’s her who has always encouraged me to make everything at home. Whether it takes time or effort, it’s all worth it. Originally from Udaipur, Vinod aunty has truly used her cooking talents–not to miss her home science degree–and has successfully kept traditional recipes alive.

As a child, I remember when she sent us her day’s special dish in a tray, only for us to taste. On one such occasion, I tasted the raab. Basically, it’s boiled buttermilk. But, when you sip it, you can feel its healing effect. Whenever I used to be down with the winter cold, she used to send me a cup of hot raab. Sitting on the bed, I used to pray to recover soon, with my spoon clacking against my bowl of the nourishing raab.

Recently, when I caught cold, I realised that I have to try making my favourite ‘recovering’ drink. And, guess what? It’s damn easy! I have pledged to make it often. Thinking of which, I fret I will have to set the curd even more often. Nevertheless.

Also, dear readers, in the image above, I have gone way too much with the cumin seeds. You might want to control a bit. Happy Winters!

Recipe: Raab

In a pan, heat a teaspoon of ghee. Add two pinches of cumin seeds. Let it splutter. Add a glass of buttermilk (thin consistency) and salt as per your taste. After a few minutes, add two tablespoons of boiled rice. Remove from the flame after one or two boils.

Notes

Make sure the curd (from which you make your buttermilk) tastes mildly sweet (meetha). Avoid using sour (khatta) curd. Also, you can use uncooked rice and cook it in the same pan.