HijiBiji -হিজি-বিজি

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Dreams and A-Junior's Chicken Stew

We all dream. 
(I am talking of normal dreams which we "see" when we sleep and not the dreams which parents talk about, the ones which we "should see")
Some of us even have the ability to remember the dreams after waking up the next morning, to the smallest detail. I am one of them. 
A-Junior has inherited this talent. Most mornings when I wake him up, it starts with either of the two:
Maaaaa, it is too early..I want to sleep more.
Maaaa, you know what I dreamt last night?
Considering the rush morning hour, when our lives are totally governed by the clock on the wall, both responses are usually handled with a strict, 
"Quick quick, get up ..we will be late".
Some days the story ends there with a sulky face, some days the dreams dominate and A-Junior just needs to share the dream in between brushing his teeth , changing his clothes, eating his breakfast and numerous "quick quick we are late"  warnings from me.
Recently, one comment of his has made me a "bit" more patient as a listener to his early morning dreams.
One day:
I was  ironing his shirt, mine waited on the side table, the microwave was beeping in the background and the clock was ticking away.
He enthusiastically began with, "Ma, you know what I dreamt last night? Garfield was actually very full and he burped and...."
I cut him mid way saying, "I am busy Arno, quick quick , we will be late"
He said, " Ma, jama istri korte to tomar kan lage na"
(Ma, you do not need your ears to iron a shirt)
He has a point.I should listen more. The shirt and the iron will stay but the sharing of the dreams not.

He will grow up.
After completing his own dream story, he also claimed ,"Mom, my friend says that at the end of his dream, the names and titles come scrolling from below, like in movies"
I said, "really?Quick quick,  ..we will be late"
[Totally between you and me] I remember one funny dream from my younger days. (This was just before my higher secondary exams so most of you would excuse its weirdness)
This is not made up. Really. Some of by best friends may even remember and nod their head as they read this.
I dreamt that I was going for my exams to a different city and was traveling by train. Amitabh Bacchan and Rajiv Gandhi were in the same train. Both of them were also going for the same exams. Rajiv Gandhi had long hair (like AB) and both of them where studying the bones of a frog from the same biology book when I entered the train compartment. The first thing I said to RG was "hey, you have long hair like Amitabh Bachchan". At this point Amitabh Bachchan looked up from his book and smiled at me!  SMILED AT ME!!

Okok...in my dreams...so what?

On a day when A-Junior's dream temporarily shifted from being a windowwasher to a chef, he made a "Chicken Stew".

Chicken Stew

He used:
  • Chicken: 1 kg
  • Onion: 1 (large)
  • Tomato:1
  • Garlic : 3-4 cloves chopped
  • Carrots:1 chopped
  • Potato: 2
  • Capsicum: 1
  • Beans: a handful  (chopped)
  • Cinnamon: 2 small sticks
  • Cardamom: 5-6
  • Black pepper (whole)
  • Bay leaves: 3
  • Garam masala powder: 1 tbsp
  • white oil or butter

Ready steady cook:
  1. In a heavy bottom pan, heat 2 tbsp of oil .
  2. Add the whole spices  (cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, bay leaves).
  3. Saute for a few secs and then add the other vegetables.
  4. Saute for 4-5 mins and then add the chicken and the chopped tomatoes.
  5. Cook for a a few minutes.
  6. Add the garam masala and the salt.
  7. Add water (or chicken /veg stock). Cover and cook.
  8. When it is fully cooked, add a dollop of butter on top and switch off heat.
  9. Enjoy with bread or rice.

All the spices.....

All the veggies and chicken.....

Some knowledge transfer....

Into the pan.....

Papa needs a drink while cooking..so do I!!

Enjoy with bread...


Sunday, 30 March 2014

The missing coins and the Indian Shepherd's pie

The boy is nine, thinks he is nineteen.
The parents (like all parents) are struggling to accept the fact that their boy  is "growing up". 
The mother struggles a bit more (Women, nature, umbilical cord etc etc). The father struggles too but hides it nicely (Men, strong, less expressions etc etc).
So one fine morning (last weekend), the boy decides that he is grown up enough to go and get some groceries from the local market. Alone.
Ma nods (hesitant nod), Papa nods (confidence galore).
The supermarket is 10 minutes walk from our house and has two main road crossings. There is also a tram line running parallel to the road. Don't forget the bicycles. ..and the pedestrians....and...
There you go...the mother talking!!
Honestly, for a moment I thought ..No way, such a SMALL BOY!!
Anyway, he left with 5 euros in his pocket  to buy a packet of salad leaves. A-senior was going to make Shepherd's Pie and we needed some salad to go with it. A few minutes after he left, the mom quickly put on her jacket and walked till the first crossing, "just to keep an eye". (The father smiled but am sure he was happy that she did so). The boy was nowhere in sight. She paced back and forth a bit. May be walk to the second crossing and wait? 
Her phone rang.
"Mom, I am done with the shopping and have just started walking towards home"
I had no clue he had his phone with him. (The phone is only "allowed" if the parents think it is necessary).
I ran back home, opened my jacket and tried to look as if I was sitting on the sofa all this time.Within 5 mins a very confident Arno walked in. 
Big smile, a sense of achievement, pride written all over his face.
Ma:  Well done Arno. Any problems?
Arno: No! (surprised look saying WHY should there be a problem)
Ma: Good. So do you have the change back? How much did the salad cost?
Arno: 1.29 euro.
Ma: So what should you get back? (Indeed she never loses a single chance !!)
Arno: 3.71 euro ?
Ma: Ok.....so show me the money.
Arno starts to count the money he got back and it was 2.70 euro!!!
Awwww!!!.....I will never forget his face. The pride and happiness from a minute ago just vanished. He felt miserable. Unfortunately it was the closing time of the super market so we could not go back to challenge the cash guy. Not good. Poor fellow.
 Ok first day, excused. But a 15 min long lecture surely followed on how to count the money back at the cash counter.
Next day early morning , Arno wanted to go to the supermarket again. We let him. This time the mother was a bit more chill. Really. (Father? off course super chill!!)
Deja vu.  Again a 5 euro. Phone rings.
"Mom, my cookie is 2.30 and I got back 2.70. I counted properly."
His face was beaming again when he came back.
Indeed the boy has grown up!!! Time flies!!!

Now to some food. Life is no good without the food.

Indian Shepherd's Pie. 
(Disclaimer: Shepherds can be of any nationality. Our Chef-herd is Indian and wanted to have cumin and coriander powder in his pie .) 

A-senior used:
  • Minced lamb : 800 gms
  • Red onion:1 Large
  • Carrots: 2
  • Garlic: 3 cloves (chopped
  • Tomato: 1 (chopped)
  • Potatoes: 1 kg
  • Carrots: 2 (finely chopped)
  • Peas: 1/2 cup (frozen is also ok)
  • Cardamom: 2
  • Cinnamon: 2 sticks
  • Bay leaf: 1
  • Cumin powder: 1 tbsp
  • Coriander powder: 1 tbsp
  • Pepper and Salt
  • Butter (optional)
  • Olive oil ( any white oil)
Ready steady cook:
Boil the potatoes and peel them. Mash them while hot with a blob of butter, some salt and freshly ground pepper. It should be smooth and a bit creamy.

In a pan , heat the olive oil . Add the whole cardamom, bay leaf and cinnamon.
Add the chopped onions and garlic. Fry for a while.
Add the carrots and peas. Saute for a while and add the lamb mince.

Cook for a while till the lamb is cooked properly.
Add the cumin and coriander power. Add the chopped tomato. Cook till everything is mixed properly. The final product should be a bit juicy not very dry.
Preheat the oven to 190ºC.
Take an oven proof dish and pour the lamb mixture in it.. Now add the mashed potatoes on top and with a fork carefully spread it to make an uniform layer.
Let it cook for 40 mins.

The Indian Shepherds Pie is ready.....
Eat with a salad  or steamed vegetables. 

This post is sent to "East or West, Food is the Best" online event hosted by Kolkata Food Bloggers.


    Monday, 17 March 2014

    Nolen gur-er Sandesh

    Long  long time back, there was a time in my life when I thought I would write Haiku in Japanese. 
    Or become an astronaut.
    Or swim in the English channel ?
    But this? No, not even in my wildest dreams!

    Compliment 1:
    He comes back from work. 
    He looks at the dining table.
    He smiles.
    He says, " Tui banali? Nikhunt! Ekdom dokan er moton!!"
                     [You made this? Flawless!..Just like in the shops!!"]
    She beams.
    She smiles.
    She says , "Ekta kheye to dekh age"
                     [Eat one first!]
    Ooh lala...Romance at its best...way to a man's heart through his stomach etc etc....

    Compliment 2:
    He comes back from school with a friend.
    Friend is  born and brought up in Holland. Parents are from Iran.
    He looks at the dining table. Friend looks at the dining table.
    He asks, "Can I have one Mama?"
    Friend asks, "Can I also have one, A's mother?
    Both assume that these are cup cakes. Happy excited faces. First bite and  both faces change expression.
    I am shattered !
    Expressions continue to change ..from happiness to shock to surprise to happiness again.
    Phew, what a relief!
    Friend asks, "Can I have one more please?"
    He says, "Why don't you make them everyday Mama?"
    She beams.
    She smiles.
    Ooh lala...the mom does a quick jig with  joy....(mentally)

    She herself is smitten by the sheer beauty of the stuff. 
    The colour, the texture, the smell ---absolutely fantastic.
    I know, by now you must be wondering where her modesty went! 
    Modesty gayee tel lene! (To hell with modesty for this one time! Please please!).
    I am so pleased with myself that I ....I.... don't know! My cooking-related-happiness even crossed the bounds of the "Rosogolla" achievement.
     [Shy smile, modesty coming back]

    Ok, I did not dream about making Nolen gur-er shondesh, ever in my life...But am thankful to whatever crazy state of mind inspired me to do that.  The end result was worth all the effort. 
    (No I have never written haiku in Japanese , am not an astronaut and definitely cannot swim anywhere beyond my local pool. )

    Without any more introduction stories, let me take you to winter time in Kolkata. This is the time when the city basks in the low intensity sunshine and celebrates the cold weather with fresh vegetables, monkey caps and nolen gur. Nolen gur is the reigning queen of all sweet winter tastes.  Rosogolla, Sandesh, Doi, Pithe, Icecream...name it and Nolen gur has imparted its sweet smell and taste to all of them.

    Nolen Gur-er Sandesh

    I used:
    Full fat milk: 2 liter
    Lemon juice (OR vinegar)
    Nolen gur (jaggery): 300 gms (adjust to your taste)
    Raisins & Pistachios For garnish.

    Ready steady cook: 
    • First bring the milk to a boil.
    • Switch  the flame to low and gradually add the lemon juice little at a time while stirring with a spoon.Cheese is formed.

    • Strain it in a light muslin cloth. For this specific sandesh, you can hang the cheese for 20-25 mins so that it is soft and a bit watery.
    • Let some cold water run on the hanging cheese. This will reduce the smell of the lemon (or vinegar) used to curdle the milk.
    • Once cool, knead it properly so that there are no lumps at all.The end product should be smooth and soft.
    • In a non stick pan put 3-4 spoons of water. Let it warm up fast and then lower heat to  low.
    • Add the nolen gur (pieces) . This sandesh is on the less-sweet side. So adjust sweetness by adding a few spoons of sugar, if needed.
    • Let the gur melt very slowly. Keep stirring so that it does not stick to the bottom.

    • When fully melted, put the cheese....and mix...all in LOW HEAT..very important.
    • Keep mixing till cheese-gur mix starts to leave the side of the pan. if you touch , it does not stick to your finger. ( it took about 30-40 mins in my case)
    • Switch of heat and try to make the balls while they are hot (warm). Once cold, you cannot shape it.
    • Garnish with raisins and pistachios. 

    Thursday, 27 February 2014

    Memories with Madhabi-r Mon-matano Alu-r dom

    Makeup "happened" to me only a few years ago. Before that I was clueless.
    [I can see some heads nod in agreement.;-)]
    So much so that the first time my mom saw me with eyeshadow on she commented,
    "Tor boro khatuni jache..Chokher charidike ki kali poreche ! naki shei liver er problem ta abar?" 
    (You are working too hard...you have black circles around your eyes , or is your liver problem back?)!!
    I screamed.."Maaaaaa, that is make up"!
    Now, with more years added to life, a bit of make up has become quite "normal". Some people may also say it has become a "necessity", but such people are not my friends on FB.
    Anyway, it reminds me of a conversation I just had with Arno.
    Early morning. Mother son duo in the bathroom. Son is brushing his teeth while the mother is in front of the mirror trying to apply her "normal" make up. It requires lot of concentration from the mother to gently apply the eye liner on the eye lid which recently has started showing some rough contours. Again some people might call them "wrinkles". These people are also not on my FB friends list. Mother's concentration is broken by a sudden question from the son. She realizes that all this time son was observing her with full focus.
    A:  Ma, meyera eye rong kore, lips rong kore, naak rong kore na keno? 
    (Girls colour their eyes, their lips, why not the nose?)
    Me:  (No clue how to answer this + the sudden question also disrupted the focus and the eyeliner goes out of line..not a happy situation, hence not a good answer!!) Naak colour korle to clown lagbe, tai kore na!!
    Arno looked pretty satisfied with the answer. I was not.
    Can someone give me a better answer? 
    The recipe I am going to share with you today has a very special memory attached to it. 
    I call it Madhabi-r Mon matano alu-r dom.
    Many many years back, in the hostel of BHU, some girls became very close friends. Some girls from Durgapur bonded specially with some girls from Ranchi. (no jokes please, Ranchi is also famous for the lovely waterfalls they have!!)
    They shared their lives 24/7 in the hostel which made them "friends forever".
    Luckily I am one of them.
    We needed to take the night train to reach Varanasi from Durgapur or from Ranchi. The night journey required our mothers to cook and pack dinners for us to eat in the train. I can still remember the grey sleeper berths, the dimly lit train interiors, the whole night chats, the antaksri sessions , the pinch of homesickness, the excitement of meeting friends again, the black coat ticket checkers, the pitch darkness outside the windows, the smell of the packed food, the monotonous sound of the wheels on the tracks as the train chugged towards Varanasi....

    At some point of time, we dozed off only to be woken up early morning by the  "Chay-O, CHAY-o" of the tea vendors as the train entered the station of Mughalsarai. 
    Once we Durgapurians reached the hostel we waited eagerly for the Ranchi girls to come in.
    Firstly it was the excitement of meeting them after so many days of vacation. Secondly the left overs from the dinner packed by M's mom. Whatever M had left over in her tiffin box vanished in seconds as we hugged each other with shrieks of delight and happiness.

    Madhabi mostly packed "daal er kochuri and alu-r dom". 
    [Masi mero na please...your name makes the recipe more romantic]
    I can still see myself using the last piece of the kochuri to wipe off the remnants of the  alu-r dom from the remotest corners of the tiffin box.  This Alu-r dom had an unique taste. Even today if I close my eyes and think very hard about it, I can taste it on my taste buds. 
    So getting the recipe of this alu-r dom was like a dream come true. Thanks S for collecting it from M and sharing it....

    I cooked it. It tasted delicious. It reminded me of Mashi (Madhabi). It reminded me of Varanasi. It reminded me of the fantastic hostel life I had. It reminded me of my "friends forever".

    Madhabi-r Mon-matano Alu-r dom

    I used:
    • Baby potatoes : 1 kg
    • Tomatoes :- 4 large ones
    For the dry masala :
    • Sauf/ fennel seeds : 2 tsp
    • Jeera /cumin : 2 tsp
    • Dhania /coriander seeds : 2 tsp
    • Methi/ fenugreek seed : 5-6 seeds
    • Dry chillis : 3
    • Hing/ asafoetida  - 1/2 tsp
    • Amchur/ dry mango powder - 1tsp (Optional)
    • Salt  to taste

    Ready steady cook
    1. Boil potatoes and peel them .

    2. Dry roast the seeds for the masala separately, starting with dhania seeds and let them cool

    3. After they cool , grind them all together.
    4. Grate the tomatoes and throw the skin.
    5. Heat oil in a  pan and fry the potatoes to a golden brown colour. 
    6. Remove them from the pan and in the same oil fry the tomato paste till oil leaves the paste. Add a pinch of asafoetida.

    7. Add sugar and salt to it.
    8. Add the potatoes to this cooked tomato paste.
    9. Mix in the roasted ground masala. 
    10. Add amchur. Stir for a while on low heat.

    Enjoy ......
    Thank you Madhabi for such a wonderful timeless recipe...

    Thursday, 20 February 2014

    Saraswati Pujo and Ghugni club

    Saraswati pujo in Holland
    Ma Saraswati is unique. She is the only one whose power is felt and recognized big time by the young generation in India - The generation that needs to study and face continuous exams, weekly, monthly, first terminal, surprise tests (name it and we have it in the Indian education curriculum). With so many exams to handle, we do need a bit of support from the Goddess of studies. Therefore on Saraswati Pujo we pray with full devotion to get her blessings.
    Saraswati Pujo had been a very memorable occasion for me when I grew up.  Those non-TV, non-computer, non Facebook days were different. Fun was more "real" and more "interactive"--hence the memories more long lasting. It immediately triggers up so many fond memories.The small street pandals, the saree-clad girls, the hunger before the anjoli, the forbidden fruit called "kul", the khichuri bhog....are so fresh in my memory even today. The day was designed in a way to make the children feel important. The involvement, the responsibility, the fun -- whether it was gathering money for the street pujo (Chanda tola) , or making flower garlands (bright yellow and orange marigolds) or ironing the saree (off course one of mom's) or chopping the fruits (prasad).... 
    Girls wore sarees. As Ma tied the saree tightly around my waist warning me for the 100th time to be careful with it, I loved every moment of the "saree-clad-grown-up" moment.
    I walked towards the puja pandal carefully trying not to trip over the saree, hair wet from the shower (no, I did not have a hair dryer), hunger gurgling in my stomach (how can the Goddess bless you if you are with a fully satisfied stomach?)...there was a certain feeling which I can still "feel" today but cannot express adequately on paper. I am sure, most of you from my generation can feel it too.
    The early morning shower to get ready for the puja and the fasting part were the two difficult bits (January is a cold month and fasting was/is never my cup of tea). I did it because it was still  a small price to pay in exchange for the blessings that were absolutely needed for the history and the geometry exams.
    As I stood in front of the idol , eyes closed , I think I prayed with full genuine devotion. I repeated what the priest said during anjali and hoped all those Sanskrit words only meant, "O God of studies,give me your blessings so that I can pass the exams"! I asked HER to focus more on MY geometry and history exam papers. When Ma asked me to put some books near the idol (her blessings are showered directly on the books near her), I inevitably chose history and geometry books. Looking back, I feel, without her blessings I could not have managed these two notorious subjects on my own!!
    This year, I was surprised to see Facebook messages wishing "Happy Bengali Valentines Day " on Saraswati Puja. On further investigation, I came to know that in Bengal, HER role has become a bit broader now. Bengalis have started giving her more responsibility as the God of love. Clearly, she has been asked by her boss to move out of her comfort zone (studies, music, culture etc) and broaden her skills into the zone which is clearly a more difficult one to crack. Maybe a short crash course has been planned in her GPA as well. ("Learn about love in 21 days?"). She is struggling. She told me in an exclusive interview here.
    This time during Saraswati pujo , S proposed "Ghugni" for the evening snacks. Not only that, he also proposed that WE the members will be cooking . Fantastic idea!! Five volunteers (read food lovers) volunteered!!

    The Ghugni club (one chef substituted by her husband, sorry A.;-))
    As the day approached, I did panic a bit. A bit.!! Cooking 1.5 kgs of ghugni matar is no joke.
    Bengali ghugni is a very sensitive recipe (like many other recipes). We BONGS are very sensitive about two things, food and homeopathy medicine. Ghugni needs the right kind of matar ("chana" is not acceptable). Matar (pronounced Motor :Hoton kon karke gol) is round and white and has to be boiled to the right softness. The definition of "right softness" is very strict. WE do not forgive. So the tiny bit of panic is justified!
    Raw material was acquired by S, distributed amongst us and the cooking began. ONE single recipe had to be chosen to ensure uniformity in the taste and the idea was to mix all five to ensure no "whose was the best?' discussion later on!!
    An international phone call was made. The reason is Munna. She makes the perfect ghugni I have tasted till date. 
    So..." Hello Munna, how are you? How is chotokaku? Can you tell me how to make ghugni?"..........all of that in one breath!
    Thanks Munna....the "mixed" ghugni turned out to be delicious.

    I used:

    • Matar: 500~ 700 gms
    • Onion: chopped ( ~ 1 cup)
    • Garlic: chopped (~6 pods)
    • Green chilli: finely chopped (3)
    • Tomato: Chopped (1 large)
    • Ginger:  paste ( 2 spoons)
    • Cardamom: 3 whole
    • Cinnamon stick: 2  ( 1 inch pieces)
    • Cumin powder: 1tsp
    • Garam masala powder: 1tsp
    • Salt to taste, turmeric

    • Chopped onion
    • Chopped coriander
    • Chopped green chillies.

    Ready steady cook:

    1. Soak the matar over night.
    2. Wash and drain. Pressure cook them so that they are soft but not mushy (remember how sensitive we are about this?)
    3. Drain the boiled matar and keep aside.
    4. Heat oil in a pan. Add the cardamom and cinnamon.
    5. Add the chopped onions, chillies and garlic. Fry for a while till onion turns light brown and then add the ginger paste.
    6. Next add the chopped tomatoes, cumin powder, little salt and turmeric.
    7. Cook till tomatoes are fully cooked. (oil starts separating).
    8. Add the boiled peas, the garam masala powder and mix well.
    9. Add water.
    10. Cover and cook till they are all mixed nicely.
    11. Check salt. 
    12. You can also add coconut pieces  and  bhaja masala....there are many variations to add to the taste.
    Ghugni ready!!!

    Tuesday, 28 January 2014

    Life & Murukku :Twisted but beautiful!!

    Life is beautiful. There is no doubt about that.
    We laugh, we smile, we sulk, we fight ......all of these and much more together makes life what it is.
    Some twists yet beautiful !
    With each year in life, the most important realization I have is that one needs to find the beauty in each situation that he or she faces everyday. Whatever happens try to find the positive side. Keep trying. It is like an exercise..trying to extend your back to reach your toes.(No I cannot do that, it is just an example!)
    I have a friend who was shocked to read my blog on my father's operation description and I have a friend who complimented me on being able to find humor in the situation. It is really how you want to look at it. There is no correct or incorrect way! Sab kuch relative hai yaar!
    By now (after all the lecture given above), I almost feel a bit Baba Ramdev-ish doing his Pranayam claiming that it will solve all problems in life!!
    (If Pranayam does not help, his other principles may come in handy, hilarious!)
    No, my intention is not to bore you with a lecture, neither have I mastered the art of looking for the positive things in life. All this is just a monologue, an effort to digest some smart comments made by my 9-yr old. This lecture above is not for you. It is for  ME!
    It is aimed at pacifying MY head. I also tried to extend my back and touch my toes! Pranayam too.
    Nothing helped.

    Scene: [ a very common one in almost all households with children]
    Son had just finished playing with a friend who was visiting. Mother comes upstairs.
    Mother checks son's room. Looks like it had just been hit by an earthquake measuring at least a 7 on the Richter scale. 
    Son (as if nothing has happened ) looks at her and asks " Ma , can I watch Sponge Bob now?"
    Mother reminds herself that she is a patient person.
    Ma: What? Have you looked at your room? First clean.
    Son: But ma....
    Ma: I do not want to hear ANYTHING...first clean your room.
    Son: later ma..why now?
    Some of the nerve endings inside the mother's head start to vibrate (what patience?)
    Eyes spark and ears smoke!!
    Ma : I want it to be cleaned NOW!
    Son : But why do I (caps lock) have to clean? Why ME?
    Mother silently saying OOMMMMM trying to pacify the rattling nerve endings.
    Ma: WHOSE room is it? WHOSE toys? WHOSE friend ?
    Son: and WHOSE son?
    This is EXACTLY the moment I felt the need for Baba Ramdev's Pranayam...........
    ..........trying to find the "beauty" in this situation!!

    Some other "twisted" tasty stuff!


    I remember when I was very small, a colleague of my father gifted my mom with a "Murukku -maker". She used it a couple of times (maybe once, ma?)and then we did not see it anymore. Murukku was always a favourite...stayed a favourite but the store made ones. Over the last few years, as my love for cooking increased, I started trying new things. I remembered our old "Murukku -maker". Ma could not locate it anymore but my boudi send me a new one. Thank you boudi. So I went full blast into the MURUKKU MODE!!

    Murukku maker
    I used:
    • Besan:  2 cups 
    • Rice flour: 1cup
    • ghee or oil :1 tsp
    • Cumin powder: 1 tbsp
    • Red chill powder : 1/2 tsp
    • Asafoetida(optional) : 1/4 tsp
    • Sesame seed (optional) : 1 tablespoon
    • Salt : to tast
    Ready steady cook:
    1. Mix the ingredients to a soft dough using sufficient water.
     2. Use the murukku maker to make coils onto a plastic paper. This is the tough part. Full focus required. No multitasking ....

    3. Carefully take it off the plastic and put it into hot oil and fry on medium heat for 3-4 mins.
    Sprinkle the sesame seeds on some. 

    Please do not look too carefully at the photo. I had the heat on high so most of them have turned dark brown. ...the one in the center is crying for an ambulance!

    Wednesday, 15 January 2014

    New Year with New enthusiasm and Glimpses of Spain

    Happy New Year.
    Another year- new challenges and new opportunities!
    This is how we all begin at the beginning.
    All positively charged up to face the world!
    New year resolutions to be made!
    Bubbling with energy and determination!
    A fresh start...
    A new begining...
    ...and then the alarm goes off on the first working Monday!
    I realize that it will be the same old bugging alarm clock trying to wake me up at 6:30 am every morning..no change there! Same old challenge of trying to locate the clock in the dark with refusing-to-open-eyes  to shut it up! Same old opportunity as in going to work!
    No no, it is not my intention to spoil your high spirits with my alarm clock story. NEW challenges and the NEW opportunities do exist!. The problem is that at this point I can only hear the OLD alarm clock. kik kik.. kik kik.. kik kik.... I am sure things will get better from here....once I successfully locate the alarm clock in the dark!
    Let me go back a few steps...start with something positive...a very nice year ending.
    The vacation to Spain in December was spectacular. Nature was beautiful, food was delicious, wine was out of this world, people were warm and friendly, traveling with best friends, there was no dishwasher to load...what more could I want?
    On top of that, thanks to the recent movie "Zindagi na milegi Dobara", the holiday already came with a pre-cooked-romantic feeling (How can I forget Hrithik Roshan in the movie?..and that too when I saw the movie on big screen!). Some of the scenes got etched in memory (do not ask me which. Assume that I am talking of natural beauty only..sea, sky, mountains etc...;-).
    The drive from Malaga to Estepona along side the sea was fantastic..almost magical.
    The sky and the sea shared their colours so generously. It was difficult to see where the blue of one ended and the blue of the other began. During sunrise and sunset, more shades of orange and red were added to the magical scene. The horizon was one thin line in between these blending colours trying desperatedly to keep their identities separate as the sea and the sky.
    It felt like I can watch this scene forever.

    Then comes food.
    Before I went to Spain, the scales showed 70 kgs (liar liar!). This is also on the high side (I know) but I keep defending with excuses of how with my height this is not that bad and how much more bones weigh in general and bla bla bla. When I came back the needle did not stop at 70 anymore..it moved on to 71 (expected)..then to 71.5 (really??)...then to 72 (now I started feeling hurt)...then to 72.5 (C'mon needle, stop or I will get down from the machine)...
    Yes it did stop here reluctantly but kept on trembling at that point as if it was made to stop against its will. I, still a bit dazed from the shock, took no risk and hopped on to the other scale, a digital one this time.
    This is a conspiration!!!...the numbers rolled and rolled till they stopped at 72.60 kgs.
    I hate all of you. You digital-dumbo! (@#$!@$$@#!@#!@^&^&$%^)

    Senorita is very upset.
    After I regained composure, I looked at the positive side of the numbers. What else could I do? ALL those extra kilograms (2.6 to be precise) pointed in one direction.
    Food in Spain was fabulous. Eating (and drinking) could not be stopped.
    The chefs in the hotel cooked delicious meals one after the other. The maximum physical activity required from me was to unfold the serviette and place it on my lap before each meal!
    No looking back...it was a vacation after all. Kilograms will come and go....
    Serrano Ham --delicious!
    We traveled to a few famous places in the region. Sevilla, Cordoba, Malaga,..So much to see..so much to enjoy..so much to photograph.Whether it was the magnificent churches or the romantic bridges or the orange-covered trees on the side streets or the painted hanging pots or the spotless white villages on the mountain side or the winding roads that led to them....everything was picture perfect. Our cameras went click click click.......
    Oranges everywhere
    The white villages of Andalusia
    One place that we visited had a special significance. Gibraltar.
    This was a name which, till date, I could only relate to my Geography teacher and the map pointing class. Never ever in my dreams did I think that one day I will be standing on that small piece of land that I struggled to find on a map years ago.
    It was exactly the same feeling when I stood on the Sahara desert. It was like a page of the Geography book infront of me.

    Today I have something Spanish for you. You should get some of the kilograms as well.
    TAPAS -- A Spanish way of eating appetizers ( it is difficult to stop eating.)
    We had a lot of Tapas in Spain but one stuck in my mind because of its simplicity and taste.
    An evening on the streets of Cordoba. We stopped at a small restaurant to grab a cup of coffee. While placing the order, our eyes fell on their menu card for Tapas. Hunger surfaced (yes, even though the late lunch was still intact in the stomach). Beware, in Spain hunger can surface anytime.
    So we ordered a few tapas dishes.
    One of them was called the Espinacas con Garbanzos.
    In simple language  you can call it "Spinach and Chickpeas" but it would be a crime not to use the fantastic Spanish name.
    So ladies and gentlemen, for you today.....

    Espinacas con Garbanzos
    I used:
    • Chickpeas (boiled):  1 can
    • Fresh spinach: 500 gms
    • Bread: 1 slice (cut in small pieces)
    • Onion: 1 (chopped)
    • Garlic c: 2 small cloves (chopped)
    • Tomato puree: 1 spoon
    •  sweet pimentón (or red chillie flakes)
    • salt to taste
    Ready steady cook:

    1. Fry the slice of bread in olive oil till it is brown and crisp.
    2. Boil the spinach in water with a pinch of salt for a minute. Drain well and set aside. 
    3. Make a paste of 2 tbsp of chickpeas, the fried bread and 1 tbsp of olive oil. Keep aside.
    4. Fry(saute) the chopped garlic and onions together.
    5. Add the chillie flakes/pimenton and then the spinach. 
    6. Add the chickpeas and the tomato puree.
    7. Cook for 2-3 mins and add the bread-peas paste you made earlier.
    8. Season with salt and pepper.
    9. Cook on medium heat for 15 mins.

    We had it for dinner with bread.........Healthy, Spanish, Delicious.......................
    Buen provecho. Mucho gracias....

    Fried bread in olive oil