Daily inspiration

IMG_20170904_203540_587 - CopyMonotony. We certainly need to strive hard to break it, constantly. There are so many things that can stress you out. Sometimes, you can’t stop thinking about how things could be better. But, then, you have to let go of your worries, and start breathing; once again.

As a homemaker, and, now, as a freelance writer, I have to find joy in every household chore. Cooking, however, is something that takes a lot of my mental work. ‘What should I cook today?’ is the question that kills my mind every morning. I do enjoy cooking; and when I don’t, I feel that something is missing; but, cooking, as a daily chore can be extremely monotonous. And, many a time, I fail to live up to it.

And, come on, I can’t be making pasta, hot and sour soup, Japanese-style salad or a chia seed drink daily to feel better. I have to face the veggies! Before preparing every meal, I see the veggies in the fridge and find none of which I feel like eating. Creativity and veggies hardly go hand in hand during the week, for me, at least.

Nonetheless, when you play with textures and flavours, you can, I believe, break the monotony. We never got new items to eat every week in my mum’s kitchen. But, still, almost all the dishes that she made, had us kids drool them. Like this Mirchi ki sabzi.

It looks hot, but it isn’t. It is tangy in taste and soft in texture (can be mashed easily) and goes perfectly with my roti or rice. What I really like about it is that it doesn’t go stale easily. So, I always end up enjoying it the following day also. I can imagine, in a climate like that of Jaiselmer’s, this dish fits aptly.

Till date, I haven’t been able to crack my mum’s exact recipe, but, that said, I’m not afraid of trying it again an again. So, the next time you see these green chillies in your vegetable market, add some in your cart/basket as well. I hope you try this recipe, and feel a little better about the ‘daily cooking’ process. Remember, we have to constantly break the monotony, or else. Well, or else, you might end up picking up the phone and making the food orders ever so often. What do you think?

Recipe: Mirchi ki sabzi (green chilly sabzi)


7 to 10 green chillies (these are thick and long green chillies that are milder than the small ones; don’t mix them with fat green chillies that we use for mirchi pakodas)
1 tsp black sesame seed powder
1 tbsp coriander powder
½ tsp mango powder (optional; I didn’t use it in my recipe)
2 tsp peanut oil or any oil
salt to taste
2 tbsp cream (I used homemade malai); you could use milk if you don’t have fresh cream
½ tsp cumin seeds (optional)
2 pinches of asafoetida
¾ tsp turmeric power

1. When you buy your green chillies, wash them and make sure all the water has dried up before you make this sabzi. Now, chop them and throw them inside a strainer. Make sure there is a plate below. You basically have to remove the white seeds inside the green chillies; so, you can keep moving these chillies lightly in the strainer, so that the seeds separate.
2. Now, heat oil in a small skillet. Add the asafoetida, cumin seeds, turmeric powder; stir for 2 seconds and add the chopped green chillies. Make sure the heat of the stove is not on high. If I don’t pay attention, I end up coughing.
3. Stir it for a few times till you see the chillies more than half cooked. Now, add the spices and salt. The coriander and sesame seed powders are the winners of the dish.
4. Once you stir in the spices and let them cook for about 3 minutes, add a tsp of malai or cream. Now, add as your dish requires. This will soften the texture and reduce the heat of the chillies as well.
5. After about 3 more minutes of stirring, switch off the flame. I usually have this with hot whole wheat or sorghum rotis.

Dear aubergine

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The first time my mum gave you in my school lunchbox, I saw a live worm scrawling towards me just as I opened the box. I ran for my life in the corridor, promising not to touch or even look at you ever again.

It so happened that after my marriage, deciding the daily menu became the hair-pulling chore of my new life. My cook at the time in Mumbai suggested your name, and I shouted a no. She still persisted. I had to try you for her talent’s sake.

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And you were wonderful. Your aroma was rustic and the smokey flavour was different than the usual dishes. Little did I know that I will fall for you at the first bite and you became a weekly thing then onwards.

It was on one Sunday morning, when I and my husband visited the farmer’s organic market here in Gurgaon. Just when we were stepping out of the place, I ended up at this stall that was selling clean potatoes and herbs. You were there, too. A woman picked you and asked the seller to check if there were no worms, and he passed it. I hadn’t tried any of you in the past few months, as the season wasn’t right. But it being spring, I picked you with pleasure and stuffed you inside my jute shopper bag.

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I got you home, after which I roasted, peeled and cooked you with utter joy. Thank god for the spring!

And I was back with a mantra. I will never run away from you, my modest aubergine.

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Recipe: Baigan ka Bharta/Roasted Aubergine


1 medium-sized aubergine
1 onion, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, paste
1 green chilli, pound to paste
1 tsp of ginger paste
1 tsp turmeric powder
1½ tsp red chilli powder
1½ tsp coriander powder
½ tsp garam masala
½ tsp cumin seeds
A pinch of asafoetida
salt to taste
1 tbsp oil
coriander leaves, chopped


1. After washing the aubergine or eggplant, poke holes on it with a help of a knife. Put it on the stove and keep turning it from side to side, every minute. You want to cook it from inside, and from all sides. You might also have to make it sit for it.
2. After about 15-20 minutes of roasting, remove it onto a plate. After about a minute, start peeling it. Cut the top side and start cutting it length-wise. Here’s when you want to spot any worm, and make sure there isn’t one. If I see one, I don’t touch my kitchen counter for hours.
3. Meanwhile, chop your veggies and make a green paste of green chilli, ginger and garlic.
4. Take a pan, heat some oil in it. Once hot, add the cumin seeds and asafoetida. After a few seconds, add the other spices and quickly stir and add the green paste. Stir.
5. Throw in the onion and keep stirring. Avoid getting the spices stick on the pan.
6. Add the tomato and salt. After a minute of cooking time, start mashing the entire thing.
7. Next is the roasted aubergine’s turn. Mash it all well, and let it cook for about two more minutes. Keep stirring, as the spices tend to stick on the pan. (I hardly use any of your fancy non-stick pans; don’t mind my repeated mentions.)
8. Add the garam masala, and garnish it with coriander leaves. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any garnish that day. But it hardly mattered.