Spark joy?


I was in no mood to cook. It was the weekend, and at least once or twice a week, it’s no big deal to order food from outside. Right? But, we really didn’t want to step out for long, so we took a look at the various restaurants, which could deliver food at our doorstep. And, I liked none of them. Wasn’t up for Biryani, no noodle dish, no pizza, or any other thing. Nothing created a spark in my mind, and I thought, I might as well feed our hungry selves and get over it.

So, the menu was set, as usual a last-minute task that I excel in. Dal Tadka, whole-wheat Tandoori Rotis and Coriander salad. I was excited for the coriander part only. It sparked joy (Marie Kondo style).

As a young girl, I always thought what these coriander leaves were meant for in a salad or side-dish like this? Aren’t these supposed to be meant only for garnish? My aunt, Tamanna Mamiji, who’s my mother’s sister-in-law, made this quick recipe with super fresh coriander leaves. “My mum used to make it and feed us when we were kids,” she once told me.

The truth is, I could eat my Rotis with it, without any other sabzi. It’s tangy, spicy and fresh. Also, this mix of coriander leaves and lemon juice, is loaded with vitamin C. Goes out and shows, how one shouldn’t underestimate small or simple things. And that night, never did I imagine that this tiny side-dish could do the trick for me, and boost my dull mood.

Who likes to step out in winter anyway? Go, try this coriander sabzi, salad or side-dish–whatever you may like to call it–that can be made in less than five minutes.


Recipe: Coriander salad (serves one or two)


1 cup fresh coriander (roughly chopped)
juice of half a lemon
salt to taste
¼ tsp red chilli powder
a pinch of cumin seeds


In a bowl, mix all the ingredients. Mix well for 30 seconds and you’ll notice that the size of the coriander batch has shrunk a bit. Salt does it, I think. When it does, go ahead and serve it with a hot Roti.

An old melody


I’m at my mum’s place these days, as mum wants to buy my outfits for my brother’s wedding that’s coming up next month. But I have decided to stay back for more as we need to take care of the Sangeet (one of the most important wedding functions for us). From selecting the songs to convincing the family members that things would be all right at the Sangeet, there is a lot that needs to be looked into.

Today, however, the best part came when I got to know that the ladies of the family (who are in the same city) need to make badis to mark the start of the wedding festivities in the house. When my mum announced this to me in the morning, I was delighted as making badis in the morning or noon sunlight on the terrace is something I could recollect from my childhood. I absolutely loved it as a kid when mum used an old cotton saree to make badis. Never did I care about its recipe, but it was just her and one of my aunts drying the badis in the sun and the whole thing never ever looked tedious to me.


Mum soaked 1.25 (an auspicious number for such important events) kg of yellow moong dal for a few hours, and made its paste with a dash of turmeric powder. We took the paste in a white tub, a big spoon, a small copper jug (with water and mango leaves), and a copper plate (with kumkum powder and rice) for a little pooja (prayer) that was supposed to be done before making the badis. Now, not always do we perform the little pooja, but because this activity was only a signal of the start of the wedding preparations, the pooja had to be done. Each lady got a tikka on her forehead (with soaked kumkum powder and rice grains). There were a few plastic covers that we spread at one of the corners of the terrace that had some shadow. Then, there were those plastic airtight bags, a pair of scissor, a small piece of jaggery and a bottle of oil that neighbour aunty suggested to spread on the red plastic sheet before making badis.

Soon, the ladies started singing songs for lord Ganesha and drawing the badis. Some ladies drew broken lines and some of them created dots with the dal paste that was filled in the zip-lock plastic bags. The scissor was used to create a small hole before adding the paste though. These badis were supposed to be kept in the sun for the entire day. In the end of little activity, one of my aunts gave little jaggery blocks (decorated with gota lace) as a token to thank them.


Later in the evening, mum, dad and I went to the terrace and brought all the badis home. The badis had sticked well on the plastic, so we had to use a knife to remove them quickly.

In Jaiselmer, we use badis in sabzis like Papad ki sabzi, Gawar fali badi kachari ki sabzi, etc. All ladies of my family have a bottle of badi in their kitchens. And somehow, it’s always considered auspicious. I’m assuming one of the reasons could be the many health benefits of moong dal.

Whatever the case might be, I’m always curious to know what happened in the kitchen when my mum and beloved aunts were growing up as kids. How tough their life must be and but, yet so beautiful. “Oh, we had no money. We never had the luxury of unlimited and family food. But we were still happy. Not like these days where people are always dissatisfied with whatever they get to eat,” says my aunt, whom we call Bhua (my dad’s sister). These days, there are endless kitchen products available in the stores that we fascinate for. I wonder who fascinates homemade things like badis.

Collecting hope

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I never got to spend time with my in-laws in my six years of marriage, as I’m getting to do so these days. My mother-in-law is suffering from brain aneurysm, and she had to admitted again in the ICU for a couple of days, as her present medicine is really strong. As I write this, I’m thinking to make her some masala tea, that she’s craving inside the ICU. The hospital is a strict one, so I will hide the tea flask in my purse and hand it over to the nurse. Hopefully, she will allow my MIL to have it.

So, I’m cooking a lot for my father-in-law (my MIL can only eat the food served at the hospital) these days, though I have to make sure that the food simple, whatsoever. I really don’t want to goof up with the dishes I serve to him. You see, my quest for cooking good food will never end. As I’m growing older (turning 30 this month), my likings are changing too. And rarely do I crave for a royal spread as it is. And, hey! It’s not a beautiful thali that we have at home on daily basis. Just the basic items. A green chutney, raita (yogurt) and a salad (for lunches) are enough. And may be a sweet dish, every once in a while (for dinners). You will never three curries/sabzis in my thali or 10 bowls of goodies on the platter at one go (hate Instagram for that, as the food pictures make me question the simple food I have at home). Just saying.

Mostly, a dish made at home turns out to be a winner when its ingredient list is small and its flavour intact. My in-laws, especially, are into simple food, and this is the one rule they go by. When I try to act like a wannabe chef and serve dishes that are complicated, it doesn’t go well at the dining table. For them, it has to be a no-nonsense vegetarian fare. I have seen cases of constipation and gas taking place after such foolish attempts, when I try to fool around in the kitchen. Actually, I’m still trying to learn which foods trigger such issues for them. And, with time, I’m learning to go with whatever that can be cooked simply, without any overload of the so-called fancy ingredients and dishes.

It was only two days back, when my mother-in-law came home after spending couple of days at the hospital. She slept really well that night, and loved being at home. It was Dussehra morning, when I asked her about the special dish to be made. She said Kheer. However, around 9AM in the morning, we noticed that she was looking lost for a few minutes, and we rushed to the hospital, fearing a clot in her brain. And the angiography report showed just that. After about a couple of hours in the hospital, she was transferred into the ICU. We three (my father-in-law, my husband and I) had spent 12 hours strolling around the hospital, and at 11PM, we came back home. She said she missed the watching the Dussehra festivities. And, there was no Kheer in the kitchen.

Recipe: Kheer

My father in law cooks occasionally, but whenever he does, it’s always a precise procedure. His Kheer (rice and milk pudding) is liked by us all, and we always try to copy what he does. From the measurement to the stirring, everything matters when it comes to preparing Kheer. During winters, he always asks us to prepare this Kheer often at home, over phone calls. Here’s his recipe.


2 litre milk
2 fist rice
150 to 200 gm sugar
saffron threads, cardamoms and its powder, raisins, coarsely crushed nuts (all optional)


1. You need to wash the rice properly, and soak it for at least 15 minutes.
2. In a deep vessel, add the milk, and once it boils, add in the soaked rice (remove its water).
3. Once you add the rice, make sure the flame is in its lowest speed. And you should be able to see little bubbles in the sides, which means that the Kheer is getting cooked.
4. You need to stir the milk and rice mixture, every couple of minutes. Make sure the vessel’s bottom is clean; if you don’t stir from time to time, the Kheer will stick on the bottom.
5. After 20 minutes, check if the rice has been cooked. Also, now, you will see that the milk has turned a little yellow in colour. We don’t want a runny, water-like consistency. The milk should get a bit thick and creamy.
6. Add in the sugar, as the final step. After about five minutes, shut the flame. Add the seasonings, according to your choice. My father-in-law likes to keep it simple.

Now, as I write this, I’m waiting for my mother-in-law to return home soon, with good health. I keep thinking of all the simple dishes that she cooked for us, these days in the kitchen. In my next few posts, I will be uploading a few of the things that she made in the kitchen. And, I hope, this Diwali would be a really special one, with her at our side. A smile on her face, and her heart content as it always is.

What’s your special wish for this Diwali?


Break the monotony

There’s something about me and Asian flavours. I feel like I was born to like Soy sauce. Add this sauce to my rice, soup, noodles and even my salad, and I will eat with a big smile. So, last weekend, I was raking my brains yet again, as to what to cook! Seriously, there’s no dearth of inspiration on the net, but there’s just so much in my kitchen, and only so much I can make of it.

Cucumber is one thing you’ll always find in my fridge. English cucumber, to be precise. So, I  happened to scroll for some recipes on YouTube, and I found this weird recipe of smashed cucumbers. Chef John of Food Wishes is one of my favourite YouTube food vloggers, and I loved how he made this salad, and I went ahead and tried it.

You know, you always like the steps involved in a recipe, and the many ingredients that it calls for, but in reality, only simple recipes can save your day. Because when you’re really hungry, all that matters is how quickly you can cook up a dish.

Raw dishes like salads are something I’ve always enjoyed. Contrary to my weight, which is extremely low, I should be eating fat, carbohydrate, protein and high-calorie food items. But, who cares! There’s something about the freshness, crunchy texture and dressing that I’m always lured towards all sorts of salads, and recently, Asian salads have taken the focal light. No wonder, sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds on my bowl, and I will never leave my salad.

Recipe: Chinese-style Smashed Cucumber Salad

Okay, first things first, it’s not compulsory for you to take only cucumbers. You can always take more veggies like bell peppers and spring onions, for colour. But I liked how chef John made it, and I don’t want to disturb his dish much. I didn’t have rice vinegar, so I added lemon juice. And you can always add more seeds like toasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds to make it more healthy.


1 English cucumber, washed
1 tsp red chilli flakes
½ tsp salt
½ tsp sesame oil
½ tsp sugar
juice of half a lemon
½ tsp soy sauce
½ tsp toasted sesame seeds


It’s all about smashing the cucumbers. I covered mine with a muslin cloth, and lightly smashed the green boy with my pestle (copper hamam dasta). This is done to give you a taste of its natural flavour. Also, you don’t have to completely murder it. Just crush it from the middle and quickly cut it with a knife. Add the chopped cucumber in a bowl, followed by the rest of the ingredients. Garnish it with toasted sesame seeds, but believe me, do as you please. You don’t have to follow any rules!