Raw beauty

Nothing beats the warmth of a flavourful chutney on a chilly winter morning. This one was an eye-opener for me for I skipped the baby fenugreek leaves from adding to my list. I always find it admirable when you can create something in the kitchen in minutes; especially when there is a use of the healthy ingredients. And hence this chutney scores high for me. A handful of items, a bit of hand-pounding (oh, I love using the mortar and pestle) and a great aroma to go with it too. Try it and you won’t get enough of it! Here’s its quick recipe: clean and wash the baby fenugreek leaves, dip them in hot water once to remove its bitter taste, pound it with cumin seeds, green chillies, salt and garlic and there you have a fresh and earthy chutney to relish with rotis!

PS. I’m sorry I haven’t been so active on this space lately. I was on bed rest for long and this November, I was blessed with a healthy baby boy. But I promise to be back with more writing soon. Anyhow. Have a blessed and thrilling holiday time, you guys!

Ivy Gourd, anyone?

I could never get creative with this veggie that is Tindora (Ivy Gourd). But this quick recipe is just what I needed. Just like that quick cabbage Gujarati dish, Sambharo, this version of ivy gourd offers a fresh flavour and a crunchy texture to your Indian thali.

Also, there is something else I would like to mention here. You know the issue with the trending smoothie bowls that are made with nut pastes and nut milk, garnished with seeds, etc is that they just don’t look appealing to my tummy. I need these local recipes and follow the traditional way of cooking. That’s what I call food, and which is why you will never find those on my blog.

So, anyway, here’s how you can make this:

Wash and cut some tindora (I really don’t know what to call this as I haven’t had it in my kitchen before) length-wise. In a skillet, add some oil, a pinch of asafoetida and turmeric powder, slit green chillies, curry leaves abs of course, cumin and mustard seeds. Stir this for five seconds then add the ivy gourd to it. Now add some salt and cook this for 30 to 45 seconds, and remove from flame. Lastly, add some lemon juice and chopped coriander leaves and you’re good to go!

I like to have this salad (yes, it’s a bit cooked, but it’s salad for anyway) with my usual fare of roti and sabzi.

Let me know how you like this.

An uncommon feast

Yesterday, on the occasion of Nirjala Ekadashi, we didn’t cook any of the common grains like wheat and rice in the kitchen for it’s considered the biggest Ekadashi of the year.

Apart from fruits and Dudh Chai, today’s menu comprised homemade potato chips, Rajgira ki roti (amaranth), potato curry, Sabudana ke khichdi (tapioca sago), Samak ke chawal ki khichdi (barnyard millet), chaas or buttermilk, lassi (sweetened buttermilk), aam ras (hand-pressed mango juice), Singoda ke pakode (water chestnut flour fritters) with grated potato filling that was served with coriander chutney. Mind you, all this was seasoned with rock salt.

The sweet dish of the day, however, was Aloo ka halwa (potato porridge). Dear dad was given the duty to make this (only he has the patience to stir the large slotted spoon continuously) and of course that was accomplished with some finishing touches given by my mum.

Here’s how he made it: Roast the boiled and mashed potato in ghee (until you can see the ghee on the sides). This may sound easy but it’s not, as you don’t want to brown the potato. Next, add a cup of hot water and sugar with saffron threads and cardamom powder to it. Keep stirring till the water and sugar gets absorbed well. And there you have it; it’s that simple!

So, yesterday, every member of the family observed a fast and rather enjoyed the scrumptious fare of food items that was prepared in the kitchen. What are your favourite potato dishes?

A hint of bitterness

Fenugreek seed is one of the superfoods in an Indian pantry. As a kid, however, and even today as a grown up 30-year-old, I haven’t developed much liking for it. And so, most of the times, I just remove it aside in my plate when I see it in my curry or Kadi (made with buttermilk). The elders in my family, however, love fenugreek seeds (methi or मेठी as we call). My dad used to try feeding me Methi ki Kadi–that my mum makes especially for him–ever since my childhood days, but I always ran away when he brought a big morsel towards my face.

With age, however, I have started liking the flavour it gives to the Kadi or any other dish, but there’s still a long way to go. Yesterday, my mum made Methi ki Kadi with a side dish called Methi ki Launji (or loon-jee). It’s extremely healthy as it keeps digestion in check and controls inflammation. But there’s more to it. Methi ki Launji is both sweet and tangy in taste, and has a hint of bitterness to it; at least I feel so, unlike my dad. The raisins in it add a soft element to the dish, and it surely gives you a break from the regular vegetable recipes.

Recipe: Methi ki Launji

Ingredients:

3/4 cup – fenugreek seeds, salt to taste, oil for tempering, 1/4 cup – raisins (soaked for half an hour), 1.5 tsp coriander powder, 3/4 tsp red chilli powder, 1/2 tsp turmeric powder, 1 tbsp sugar, 1/2 tsp mango powder, a pinch of cumin seeds and asafoetida.

Method:

Boil the fenugreek seeds (my mum simply boiled it for 20 minutes); once done, strain it and keep it aside. Now take a kadai (skillet), add oil (according to your preference), and let it heat up a bit. Add the asafoetida, cumin seeds, turmeric powder and quickly add the boiled fenugreek seeds and the raisins. Now add all the other spices, salt and sugar. Let the fenugreek seeds soak in the spices for about five minutes and switch off the flame. Serve it with a parantha or roti.

I think when I start eating Methi ki Kadi and Methi ki Launji wholeheartedly, my dad would surely be proud of me. For this, according to him, is the good stuff! Make this and tell me how you like it.

Khoka, one of the wonders of Khejri tree

During our summer vacations in Jaiselmer, we kids munched on these Khokha pods and spit its seeds aside. It was something that was done while playing or talking to the cousins. It requires no cooking or washing. Khoka is mostly sweet in taste but not overtly sweet. When the Leeli Sangri (the green pods) grow up on the Khejri tree, they become stiff in texture (when not plucked from the tree) and are called Khoka.

When a bag of Khoka is kept in a room, its sweet fragrance takes over so much so that you can almost find it difficult to bear; but not me! I love it! My Nani got this bag full of Khoka for her eldest son, Deenu (one of my dear Mamas).

The nearby deserts of Jaiselmer enjoy the goodness of Khejri tree; each stage of the tree gives back to its caring keepers. No wonder people worshipped trees back then. And for someone living in the desert, each tree mattered so much!

It’s her day

My blog is all about my mother; it’s my personal journal where I save my mother’s recipes. When I got married into a different community and in a different state, I started to notice the difference and valued Marwari food, especially my mum’s hand-cooked food even more. She never gave us stale or leftover food; she knows how to cook a meal in 15 mins and we have always had freshly made food on our plates. Food trends never mattered for her, but native grains did. In spite of having three kids, mum managed the kitchen extremely well. Abundance, that’s what her kitchen is all about. Abundance of food to feed the family, nearby animals and birds and the underprivileged. Even when we did face a financial crunch, mum never let us feel that we have less; our platter was always full with healthy and flavourful food. One thing I have inherited from her is her love to feed the family and friends without praising herself. Good food is meant to feed souls not your ego; and she is the one who taught me this. For my mother and I, it’s not about how perfect the food is but how we can share with more people around us. I hope I succeed in my endeavour to save all her recipes through my blog; it might take years, but I hope I do my best. Can I cook like her? Not in this lifetime, but I will keep trying till I breathe my last. And so, today, I want to wish all the mothers of the universe, on earth and in heaven, a happy Mother’s Day! A mother’s magic never ends even if she is far away amidst the stars or just a feet away.

Standing in the queue

I paint my dreams auburn, when I know they’ll never come true, when I know they’ll be broken again.

Sometimes, I just feel life is about sailing by.

But if you live a slow death, yes, there can be such times, you need to look at the other side of life.

Look into the mirror, see those freckles and eye circles, the strands of white hair that act like a crown on your head, that chapped smile and hopeless eyes.

And force a smile. May be, just for one more instance, pray, saying that this time, God will paint your dream pink and make it true.