Beat the blues

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Recently, I got a chance to visit London, which I happens to be the most beautiful city I have ever been to. I was there for more than two weeks, and eating outside food for this long was not in my plan. So, one day, being tired of all fancy food, I craved for a simple raita. But, I only had the store-bought yogurt with me, which is something I loathe. Can I possibly be making a yum Raita out of it? I asked myself and went ahead anyway.

Pyaaz ka Raita is one of the dishes my mother is famous for in our huge community. This recipe goes back to the days when she used to live in a desert in my maternal home. Pyaaz ka Raita was made with fresh curd and chopped onions, and it hardly took any time to cook. Which is why, it used to be made a lot in the house. And it tastes yum. So, it wasn’t like anybody was adjusting with it.

For me and my brothers, this Raita is what our home is all about. After returning from a family trip or at the end of a long day when all feel tired, it is this recipe that comes to our rescue. Even in those busy Sunday mornings when a guest kept us busy, my mum manages to cook this Raita and impresses one and all.

So, the next time you’re clueless in the kitchen, tired of the colourful veggies, need something simple and tasty, you know what to cook. You will thank my mother for this one, I promise!

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Recipe: Pyaaz ka Raita

All right, so I generally make this Raita in an earthen pot that I got from Dastkar exhibition (Delhi). When I cook this way, it comes out to be nice with a great texture. You can cook this in a mixed metal skillet as well. We don’t use non-stick pans, and I hardly connect with them so you could avoid them too. Do I make sense?

So, first, we will cook the onions on high flame with the spices. In fact, my mum just adds the onion with the spices and tosses it a bit. You don’t need to cook the onions till it’s completely soft. You just need to mix the spices and let it be crunchy.

The second step is to add the slightly beaten curd. This is a quick process. You see, it took me quite some time to crack this dish. It is simple, but there’s this one rule.

Cook the onions on high flame. Add the beaten curd. Switch off the flame. Transfer the Raita in another pan. Cook the onions on high flame. Add the beaten curd. Switch off the flame. Transfer the Raita in another pan. Cook the onions on high flame. Add the beaten curd. Switch off the flame. Transfer the Raita in another pan.

This way, you will get a Raita that has crunchy onions, and because you transfer it into another vessel, it won’t curdle. So, are you ready?

Ingredients

½ tsp cumin powder
a pinch of asafoetida
¼ tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp red chilli powder
fresh curry leaves (I didn’t have it when I clicked the picture)
salt to taste
oil for tempering the spices
¼ tsp black sesame seeds
1 big onion, chopped
2 green chillies, long-slit or chopped
coriander, chopped
½ tsp coriander powder, optional
1½ cup curd (I use homemade curd that is fresh and lightweight, but you could use those tight/stiff/thick looking store-bought yogurt that comes in a plastic box. Though, I avoid those completely)

Method

1. Add oil in a skillet. Add the curry leaves, asafoetida, turmeric and red powder, cumin, and sesame seeds, and green chilies. Sauté it for 10 seconds and add the chopped onion. Remember, the flame is on high.

 Add salt, coriander powder and sauté for a minute.

  1. 3. Now, add the beaten curd and chopped coriander leaves. Stir it ever so quickly and transfer the whole thing into another bowl (in room temperature). This will give it a nice texture. Voila! The Raita is ready!

My mum serves it with roti, jowar ki roti (sorghum) or bajre ki roti (pearl millet). In the picture, you can make out a thali (prepared in last winter). To keep us warm, we keep having bajre ki roti and lots of jaggery in the colder months. With this type of roti, I like to have lots of clarified butter or ghee as well. During summers, you could have this Pyaaz ka Raita with crispy jowar ki roti (it’s gluten-free, rich with nutrients and my mum keeps sending me a small bag of it every couple of months so that I’m never out of it.)

I hope, this Raita helps you beat the blues that might hit you when you are stuck in a weird situation, a clueless dinner prep time or after an uninspiring day at work.