Friday, December 16, 2011

Gniocci mish mash

In my effort to minimise wastage and use up any leftovers I possibly can in my kitchen, the other day I cooked something which I can only call "gniocci mish mash". If I had served this to Gordon Ramsey on MasterChef USA, he would have probably clobbered me. But boy I enjoyed it with all its stickiness, mushiness and messiness, and so did the kids!

So I just mixed boiled gniocci, with the following sauce:
- leftover cream of potatoes, broccoli and cauliflower soup (cauliflower is a natural thickening agent and there was already milk and butter in the soup)
- 1 finely chopped tomato
- some additional fried garlic
- dry parmesan

On top, I sprinkled some burnt garlic and onion flakes, left from a previous khawswe order.


Organic Shopping

There has been a shop in Doctor House, Pedder Road, for ages. The Helath Shop. It was a pioneer in health / organic retail and I remember travelling there every week to get my supplies of healthy snacks. It was a bit run down at that time, the packaging was quite sad and a lot of the products, of doubtful origin. I walked in, probably after an entire year, last week. And wow, what a transformation!

The variety of products is now incredible. They have added more shelves and more brands, including their own, displaying baked, oil free snacks and nibbles (I picked up some onion whole wheat sticks, baked tacos, amla candy and flaxseeds).

They also had a dizzying variety of health drinks and squashes, organic honeys, dry fruits, the entire range of Conscious Foods, organic beauty products, a small selection of health books, supplements, oils etc...

Spotted and noteworthy:

* chemicals free Stevia sugar substitute
* sugar free dark cooking chocolate
* baby organic food

Bean Casserole

A few days ago I bought a beautiful organic bean mix from Conscious Foods (, they do home delivery!!!). There were 6-7 varieties of beans inside - kidney beans, lobia, chickpeas, soya beans etc etc - the colours were beautiful and vibrant, like semi precious stones mixed up in a bag.

I love beans - it's one of the best comfort foods. My mother and grandfather used to make a beautiful beans soup (with butter beans). My grandfather grew beans on his farmhouse near Sofia and I remembering using beans as toys, going through the different shapes and colours (we even had some white coloured ones with red spots all over). Another dish my mother used to make was a bean casserole with smoked pork spareribs. She would cook the meat to perfection, so it actually slid off the bone and fell apart. The whole casserole would permeate the smokiness of the ribs - just too delicious for words!

So I decided to make my own version of a bean casserole.

First I soaked the beans for half a day, and cooked them in the pressure cooker until soft:

I threw away the water and rinsed them.
Then, in a saucepan, I fried chopped up onions and garlic till transparent, and added strips of ham. Fried some more, then added finely chopped carrot, green capsicum and tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste, and loads of dried basil. When it all started becoming a soft, fragrant mess, I added the beans, some extra water, and some leftover Amul tomato puree, and boiled everything on very slow fire for 10-15 minutes.

Served with garlic toast and some dried parmesan sprinkled on top... Bon appetit!

Next time I would love to do an improved version, possibly an original French cassoulet ( with bigger chunks of meat!

Also, I found some fascinating information on the origin of beans on Wikipedia:

Beans are one of the longest-cultivated plants. Broad beans, in their wild state are the size of a small fingernail, the seeds were gathered in Afghanistan and the Himalayan foothills. In a form improved from naturally occurring types, they were grown in Thailand already since the early seventh millennium (BC), predating ceramics. They were deposited with the dead in ancient Egypt. Not until the second millennium BC did cultivated, large-seeded broad beans appear in the Aegean, Iberia and transalpine Europe. In the Iliad (late-8th century) is a passing mention of beans and chickpeas cast on the threshing floor.
The oldest-known domesticated beans in the Americas were found in Guitarrero Cave, an archaeological site in Peru, and dated to around the second millennium BCE.
Beans were an important source of protein throughout Old and New World history, and still are today. There are over 4,000 cultivars of bean on record in the United States alone.
Most of the kinds commonly eaten fresh come from the Americas, being first seen by a European when Christopher Columbus, during his exploration, of what may have been the Bahamas, found them growing in fields. Five kinds of Phaseolus beans were domesticated[6] by pre-Columbian peoples: common beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) grown from Chile to the northern part of what is now the United States, and lima and sieva beans (Phaseolus lunatus), as well as the less widely distributed teparies (Phaseolus acutifolius), scarlet runner beans (Phaseolus coccineus) and polyanthus beans (Phaseolus polyanthus)[7] One especially famous use of beans by pre-Columbian people as far north as the Atlantic seaboard is the "Three Sisters" method of companion plant cultivation:
On the east coast of what would come to be called the United States, some tribes would grow maize (corn), beans, and squash intermingled together, a system which had originated in Mexico. The corn would not be planted in rows as it is today, but in a checkerboard/hex fashion across a field, in separate patches of one to four stalks each.
Beans would be planted around the base of the developing stalks, and would vine their way up as the stalks grew. All American beans at that time were vine plants, "bush beans" having been bred only more recently. The cornstalks would work as a trellis for the beans, and the beans would provide much-needed nitrogen for the corn.
Squash would then be planted in the spaces between the patches of corn in the field. They would be provided slight shelter from the sun by the corn, and would deter many animals from attacking the corn and beans because their coarse, hairy vines and broad, stiff leaves are difficult or uncomfortable for animals such as deer and raccoons to walk through, crows to land on, etc.
Dry beans come from both Old World varieties of broad beans (fava beans) and New World varieties (kidney, black, cranberry, pinto, navy/haricot).

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Lunch With my Darling T

There are some friends that come into your life and stay... No matter how often you communicate, no matter how often you don't manage to pick up the phone... They are just sent by a higher power to be your guardian angels and make your life better, more fun and more bearable. T is one such friend.

I had not seen her for ages and was so happy when we could finally coordinate lunch on a Friday afternoon. Of course, as it often happens, I got caught up in kids' stuff but this time it was serious - it was regarding my daughter's visa and I had to return to the FRRO office after a certain amount of time to collect it, and this was exactly the time we had planned our lunch!

I was on the verge of canceling when I decided that enough is enough and that I would move heaven and earth to make this lunch happen. That I don't need to be the perfect mother today and be home for the kids' lunch. And that if T could pre-pone our meeting, it would work.

And yes, we managed to meet an hour and a half earlier, have an amazing lunch, catch up (even her mom joined us for a few moments) and T even came with me to the FRRO to keep me company while waiting for the visa to be stamped into my baby's passport.... T, do I tell you enough that I love you??

So, back to our lunch... There is a chain of restaurants in Bombay called Spaghetti Kitchen with I love!! The menu is really extensive and loads of choices of salads, soups, side dishes, pastas, pizzas and mains. I have rarely been disappointed by the food. Their salads are generous, fresh and taste amazing. Their thin crust pizzas are some of the best I have tasted anywhere in the world (proscuitto and rucola, HIGHLY recommended!). I still remember a lunch that my mom and I shared there - grilled fish, salad, pizza, chilled beer, tiramisu and espresso - one of the best I have ever had!!).

So T and I landed at Spaghetti Kitchen at Nariman Point... She first ordered a starter of freshly baked ciabatta bread with white bean paste.

What a discovery!!! I had never tried it before and I just couldn't help digging in! The white bean paste was amazingly light and perfectly seasoned and drizzled with olive oil. The bread was fresh and warm and just what comfort food should be all about. I would go back to just have this dish and a nice little soup... Bliss!

T ordered a Caesar salad for herself, and I ordered a tomato soup and tabbouleh salad with added grilled chicken:

It looked sumptuous and appetising but it ended up being a bit too dry, so I ended up having some more bread and bean paste :-)

The best news was that T, a Cordon Bleu trained chef, who has taken a break from her career in advertising, has decided to try her hand at catering healthy desserts (yes I know it sounds almost absurd, these two words put together) and I can't wait for that to happen! I am sure she will do well. So watch this space...

A Moment of Bliss

Coffe Bean, Inox, Nariman Point, Mumbai... A sinful caramel shake with a huge dollop of "fat free" cream on top, and reading ELLE on my iPad... What more can a mother of two ask for??

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Seen on TV...

Gosh... When the flu strikes, it strikes! My son went down first, then he gave it to my 1 1/2 years old daughter (there is nothing more excruciating than listening to a baby's hoarse cry and moaning with discomfort through the night). Now it's my turn to moan and sip some heavenly chicken soup (forever grateful to my mom who taught it to my cook):

The saving grace of my miserable day was watching an episode of Rachel Allen: Bake!
I am not a big fan of Rachel Allen, but I had programmed my satellite box to record the episodes anyway. And wow what a good idea that was. I loved this particular episode.

She first taught a class of beginner cooks how to make basic cookie dough. Then gave them an array of really exciting toppings to chose from. Some really tempting combinations they came up:

- white chocolate, dried cranberries and orange zest
- chocolate and ginger
- poppy seeds and orange zest (!!)

So next on my list: making my own cookies!!

Next, she baked the most amazing Walnut Cake With American Frosting. I could literally taste it with my eyes - the base looked incredibly moist and rich and the frosting, oh my, made the cake to look like a cloud straight from heaven. I managed to find the video and recipe here:



Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A little trick...

It's very hard to find good, ripe, red, plump tomatoes in Bombay! So every time I make pasta with tomato sauce, I never manage to get the lively, vibrant, deep red I want. If I end up putting commercial puree, I can always sense the slight preservative taste... And I don't like it.

So when I was making spaghetti with tomato sauce last weekend, I added a red bell pepper to the fresh tomatoes I was pureeing and voila...

Beautiful, fresh, vibrant red and a subtle sweetness that made the sauce awesome!!!

Instant Chocolate Mousse

Nigella, oh, Nigella!!! Only YOU can come up with an absolutely delicious, gourmet chocolate mousse which requires no raw eggs, no setting and no fuss whatsoever.

G loves chocolate and I have always wanted to master at least one chocolate recipe to spoil him with. And what I found awesome about this one, is that it did not contain raw eggs. So I could also give it to the kids, should their fussy highnesses decided to have a lick!

It took me exactly 15 minutes by the clock, from the time I took out and laid out the ingredients, utensils and dishes, till the time I chucked it into the freezer!

Here is the recipe, from the culprit's page itself (for all those who want to buy "Nigella Express", most of the recipes are now available on her website, so don't waste energy and money!!):

When you haven't got time for overnight setting in the fridge or you don't want to use raw eggs, this mousse is perfect. In fact, at all times, constraints or not, it is chocaliciously gorgeous.

150g mini marshmallows (bought them from Nature's Basket)
50g soft butter (Parsi Dairy non salted butter is my current favourite)
250g good dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids), chopped into small pieces (used the cooking chocolate from Maker Arcade which is far from dark and far from packed with cocoa solids! So to compensate, I added a heaped table spoon of Hershey's cocoa powder while whisking the cream)
60ml hot water from a recently boiled kettle
1 x 284ml tub double cream (I used a packet of Parsi Dairy fresh cream)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Put the marshmallows, butter, chocolate and water in a heavy-based saucepan.
Put the saucepan on the hob, over heat, though keep it fairly gentle, to melt the contents, stirring every now and again. Remove from the heat.
Meanwhile, whip the cream with the vanilla extract until thick, and then fold into the cooling chocolate mixture (I had my Masterchef moment and poured the chocolate mixture into a bowl, which I popped into another bowl full of ice cubes, to cool it faster) until you have a smooth, cohesive mixture.
Pour or scrape into 4 glasses or ramekins, about 175ml each in capacity, or 6 smaller (125ml) ones, and chill until you want to eat. The sooner the better!

I felt my mousse was a bit too liquid, so I put it in the freezer until it got a creamy, sticky, slightly toffee-like consistency, with beautiful tiny little bubbles on top.

And oh, letting you into a little secret here: The small, shot glass sized plastic containers were left behind by Moshe's when they catered at home for Bella's birthday. They were used to set jelly for the kids and tiramisu for the adults. I found the size and shape perfect for small desserts, and safe for little kiddie hands. So I conveniently "forgot" to return them.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Dinner For Two

I am trying, really hard, after my girls lunch exploit, to at least try and cook avery other day, something light, simple (my motto - KEEP IT SIMPLE!!) and nutritious for the family, instead of our cook's tedious and boring Indian concoctions. I have realised that if I plan it properly (from the previous day or in the morning, while the kids are at playschool), I am relaxed while cooking and the results are better. I also try to cook as frugally as possible, using whatever I have at home, and incorporating any leftovers I can.

So this is what we had for dinner yesterday:

I hand picked tomatoes at Nature's Basket. I wanted them really ripe and as perfect as possible and whoever has shopped for tomatoes in Bombay can vouch this is not an easy task. I peeled and de-seeded two tomatoes (the seeds part was used in a tomato pasta cooking in the meanwhile for the kids). I chopped the flesh in symmetrical cubes and tossed them in crushed garlic, extra virgin olive oil, chopped basil leaves and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.
I used a pastry brush to spread some olive oil on bread slices (I used Anjali Mukherjee's diet bread) and put them under the oven grill for 5-7 minutes. Topped the bread with the tomatoes and voila...

I defrosted a packet of chicken legs and cut out the meat (I used the remaining bones and bits of
meat to make a stock, now in the freezer, ready to be used to cook pasta). I marinated the meat in lemon, garlic, olive oil and garlic chili dip from Fabindia. In a pan, I made crispy bacon (cook without adding any oil, on slow fire, for 15-20 mins). I removed the bacon and in the same pan, I stir fried the chicken pieces and set aside. In a salad bowl, I chopped up some onions and a piece of avocado just about to get spoilt. Added some mixed salad leaves and seasoned with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Tossed it all up and layered the chicken and bacon on top.

Highly recommended - a chilled glass of beer!!!

A Lunch by Nigella

A few days ago, I invited over a few girlfriends for a relaxed lunch. LE, sadly, is leaving Bombay for good, and although we have gotten drunk together a record number of times (for my standards) in the last 2-3 months (I am also counting the Sri Lanka girls trip!!), I was keen to have her and a few others over when we can actually have a relaxed, coherent conversation, over some light, healthy food.

Well I am the queen of order-ins and catering!!! My favourite for continental food is Pronto's ( My guests always rave about it, especially the lasagna and the burnt garlic mashed potatoes are incredible!! And their signature dessert, chocolate devastation, lives up to its name!

Another caterer I was considering was Lotus Blossoms (, owned by Radhika, a friend from Indus International. It's Thai delicacies have earned quite a reputation in Bombay and recently, at a friend's dinner party, I thouroughly enjoyed their raw papaya salad, citrus fruits salad, tom yum soup and coconut and water chestnut dessert, all served in stylish shot glasses (there were also some delicious satay chicken and tofu skewers).

However, consider who was coming for lunch:

ML, who makes EVERYTHING from scratch, including her own panacotta and recently, an almonds and zucchini dish that I am not ready to forget

LE and VK, domestic godesses par excellence ("swimming pool" cake anyone? Ms LE can maybe share the recipe!!!)

RB, another incredible amateur chef

Gosh, that was seriously intimidating!! I could go wrong both ways - by ordering commercially prepared food, or by attempting to cook everything myself and failing miserably at the task.

I decided to be brave and cook every single dish myself. And, boy, I enjoyed it!!!

I scored a few books looking for inspiration and the absolute winner was Nigella Lawson's "Nigella Express: 130 Recipes for Good Food, Fast". All the recipes were simple, quick and interesting. And seemed easy enough to lower my risk of failure... The book had been on my shelf for at least 3 years now, but besides flipping through it once in a while, I had never attempted any of the recipes.

I planned the menu a week in advance, along with a detailed shopping list and the crockery and cutlery I would need. I wrote down all the stages of prep and actual cooking, with approximate timings, and in what order to cook what. It really helped me to stay in control and not run around the kitchen like a headless chicken on the day of the lunch.

The menu was:


Vegetable sticks and dip - the only dish made by my cook, but under my instructions - it's a regular in our household. It's fresh, it's light and it does not fill you up so much that you can't enjoy the main course.


Warm potato salad (Nigella)
Slow roast tomatoes, goat cheese and arugula salad (Nigella)
Maple syrup chicken (Nigella)
Salmon and couscous (my own invention)

DESSERT: Bailey's Tiramisu (Nigella)

The tiramisu and dip were prepared the previous day, and the chicken was marinating through the night, just to be popped into the hot oven the next day, to roast for a couple of hours. The rest of the dishes involved minimum cooking / frying or standing over a hot pan. Just assembling some beautiful ingredients, cooking lightly some of them and then last minute assembling everything together. With proper planning, this meal could be a WINNER for any ladies who love to lunch at home!!!

An extremely simple starter, always a winner! People always ask for the dip recipe. Here it is:

Full fat yoghurt
Crushed garlic (about a tsp)
Extra virgin olive oil (a drizzle)
Crushed walnuts
Finely chopped dill
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix everything in a bowl and refrigerate before serving.

Can be served with carrots, white radish (mouli), baby corn, bell peppers, plain chips, bread sticks, cucumbers, etc...

About a kg of baby potatoes
4 scallions (I used fresh onion), finely sliced
1 tbsp garlic infused oil (I used crushed garlic and plain olive oil)
8 slices of bacon
1-2 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp whole-grain mustard
1) Bring a pan of salted water to a boil and tip in the potatoes. Cook for 20 min or until tender, then drain and cut in half. Nigella leaves the skins on, but I peeled mine, leaving just a few skins on for a rustic look.

2) Put the potatoes into a large bowl and add the scallions (fresh onion).

3) Heat the oil in the warm potato pan and cook the bacon until really crispy. Remove onto a paper napkin.

4) Take off the heat and add the vinegar and mustard. Give a little stir, then tip in the potatoes and scalions and toss everything together before transferring to a serving bowl. You can leave it like this for an hour or so.

5) Crumble the bacon and sprinkle on top.

(the avocado was my own addition and it complimented the cheese and tomatoes amazingly well)
1/2 lb rocket or spinach salad
7 ounces of soft goat’s cheese
1 batch of moonblush tomatoes*
1 tablespoon of lemon juice (I used balsamic)
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons of chopped fresh mint
1 ripe avocado, sliced
1) Arrange salad leaves in a large dish.

2) Make a second layer of the the cooked-down, intensely red moonblush tomato halves (recipe below). Reserve the juices from the tomatoes roasting pan!!

3) Scatter slices of avocado, then scoop out spoonfuls of the soft goat’s cheese and dollop it here and there.

4) In the same dish the tomatoes have been cooking in, whisk together the lemon juice and oil and pour over the salad. Scatter with the chopped mint.

Moonblush Tomatoes

1 lb (about 24) of cherry or other baby tomatoes (I used normal tomatoes which I sliced into long boat shapes)
2 teaspoons table salt
1/4 teaspoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
2 tablespoons of olive oil

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Cut the tomatoes in half and sit them out cut side up in an ovenproof dish. Sprinkle with the salt, sugar, thyme and olive oil. Put them in the oven, and immediately turn it off. Leave the tomatoes in the oven overnight or for a day without opening the door. (I did not have the time to do this, so I popped the tomatoes in the oven, on the oven baking rack, along with the maple syrup chicken. So they were inside for about 2 hours, on slow fire. That did the trick).

This was my own recipe.

A few slices of salmon fillets, frozen
Sliced red and yellow bell peppers, zucchini
Pine nuts
Lemon juice
Olive Oil
Chilly garlic dipping sauce from Fabindia's organic collection

1) Marinate the salmon cut in strips for an hour or so in a mix of the dipping sauce, lemon and olive oil. Heat a heavy bottom grilling pan and grill / saute the salmon on both sides. Set aside.
2) In the same pan, stir fry the veggies and pine nuts, using the leftover salmon and marinade juices.
3) Cook the couscous according to the instructions on the packet.
4) Toss everything together.

MAPLE CHIKEN AND RIBS (I used ONLY chicken drumsticks)
12 chicken drumsticks
1 cup apple juice, as sharp as possible
4 tablespoons/1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 star anise
1 cinnamon stick, halved
6 unpeeled garlic cloves
1) Put the chicken pieces in a couple of large freezer bags or into a dish. Add all the remaining ingredients, squelching or everything together well before sealing the bag or covering the dish.
Leave to marinade in the refrigerator overnight or up to 2 days.

2) Preheat the oven to 200C/400 degrees F. Pour the contents of the freezer bag into 1 or 2 large roasting trays and cook for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, by which time everything should be sticky and glossed brown.

AND you can find the recipe for IRISH CREAM TIRAMISU on Nigella's site, here: It was AMAZING and it took me not more than 45 minutes in total to make it (the previous evening), despite a screaming 15-months old strapped into a high chair next to me, throwing wooden spoons and measuring cups on my head and trying to have a lick of Bailey's!

Lovely Leftovers

My mom has visited a lot in the last 3 years to help me take care of the kids. Although we fight a lot during her visits, I love it when she is around... I know, it sounds illogical. But when she is here, I eat better, dress better, take better care of myself and the house. She pushes me to make this extra effort in life.

One of the things she has helped me a lot is to manage the kitchen. I never realised the terrible amount of wastage my kitchen was producing. But my mom brought along her generation's unique blend of frugality and taste for fine, yet simple food. She can toss an ordinary tomato salad, bake some cheese on toast and pour herself half glass of sparkly, bubbly beer - I can't think of a more satisfying and light meal!

Anyway, I was thinking about all this on my way back from my son's school and decided I will make myself of a meal of only leftovers. This is what I found at home:

- leftover kids' tomato and carrots pasta
- some fresh tomatoes
- arugula, fresh onion and parsley just on the verge of wilting
- chicken stock, ready to put in the freezer, with the bones still inside, and some tiny, juicy bits of chicken

So I this is what I had:
- salad made of arugula, parsley, fresh onion, boiled chicken bits, and a dressing of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar
- the pasta, with a drizzle of tobasco
- salted lassi (yogurt with water and a sprinkle of salt)


Monday, November 14, 2011

Our anniversary dinner...

... was ordered in hamburgers from Pronto's, with chips and Coca Cola...

BUT we had candle light on the terrace and two delightful babies sitting on the steps, chattering in the background and begging for chips like little puppies...

Sorry for the terrible photograph!


I saw this interesting-looking long and thin veggie, sold in neat bunches, at a vegetable vendor in Chandigarh, and bought some to try it out. Turned out this was moongra, or radish pods.

My mother-in-law cooked them like a normal indian-style vegetable, with some onions and turmeric and potatoes, and... I did not like them. Could not even finish a spoonful of them. However, it remains a fascinating little vegetable for me, and I surfed the net to find out more...

* Moongra is not such a well known vegetable and aloo moongra is not a common sabzi. Some call it singri while in English it is known as rat tailed radish. The taste of moongra is similar to radish (mooli). Moongra goes well with potatoes as they balance its sharp taste.

* They come in varying length - while the long ones have obviously been bred for easy handling. There are brown-to-black oval-spherical seeds borne in tapering bean-like seedpods called mogri seeds. You can eat radish pods raw or cooked. The raw flesh has a crisp texture and a pungent, peppery flavor, caused by glucosinolates. The seeds of radishes grow in pods, following flowering that happens when left to grow past their normal harvesting period. The seeds are edible, and are sometimes used as a crunchy, spicy addition to salads.
· The sharp flavours of radish pods make them a popular ingredient for different chutneys by pounding these with some green chillies, and mixing in salt and yoghurt.
· Radish pods are also great in salads and stir fries.
· You can cook radish pods with the everyday zeera (cumin) -hing-haldi-mirch tadka or may add potatoes to make aloo mongre ki subzi.
· The radish pods can also be added in kadhi or a typical mixed vegetable preparation.
· In Europe, the pods were often pickled and served with meat. The spicy seeds are sometimes served raw as an accompaniment to beer in Germany.
· Radish pods are rich in ascorbic acid, folic acid, and potassium. They are a good source of vitamin B6, riboflavin, magnesium, copper, and calcium.
· One cup of sliced red radish bulbs provides approximately 20 calories, largely from carbohydrates
· Radishes are suggested as an alternative treatment for a variety of ailments including whooping cough, cancer, coughs, gastric discomfort, liver problems, constipation, dyspepsia, gallbladder problems, arthritis, gallstones and intestinal disorders.

* I found an amazing recipe for "Tingling Moongra" on - maybe THIS is how I should eat it next time!!!???

Something Round, Something Delicious

It's funny that my last post before my long blogging sabbatical, and my first post after my rebound, are both about Chandigarh... Well. I do eat there. A lot. And every time I come back, my clothes are a bit tighter. Even my post pregnancy jeans, which I wear from playschool to a night out with friends... Sigh... But that's another topic altogether.

This Diwali holiday in Chandigarh was all about... parathas. For breakfast, lunch and dinner. Plain, stuffed, in every possible delicious form... That's all the kids wanted for each of their meals, and that's all I wanted to indulge in. How could something so simple taste so heavenly warm, crumbly, soft and comforting??

First of all, the wheat flour (atta) which is not your ordinary packaged variety. My mother-in-law buys it freshly ground from the chakki (mill). And believe me, the difference is huge, to say the least. Absolutely nothing to do with the commercial variety I get at the local supermarket. Well, I had, for a second, nightmarish visions of what the chakki would be like - like, infested with mice for example... But I quickly dismissed all negative thoughts and... ate.

We had plain parathas, with a brush of butter.
We had spinach stuffed parathas (which reminded me of spinach bjorek, a Bulgarian layered pastry delicacy that my grandmother used to make).
We had paneer stuffed parathas - OH... MY... GOD... with tomato and onion salad and yogurt.
We had paneer and broccoli stuffed parathas with loads of butter - but hey, there WAS broccoli inside for a healthy touch, right??

My feeble attempts to recreate these parathas here have been a complete flop in terms of flavour. Luckilly, I can still fool the kids with the local variety and they still love it...

Other things that we indulged in in Chandigarh:

* Chinese takeout - chicken & lemongrass soup!
* Chicken biryani made by Babli Massi, Gurtaj's delightful aunt
* Chocolate slice from Nik Baker's (the local IN bakery) with loads of vanilla ice cream
* Mutton curry maison
* Fresh & tender lettuce leaves
* KFC takeout!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

It's the end of 2011...

... and my last post is from 2009! Gosh... so much has happened and my life has changed dramatically. Two pregnancies, which brought on plenty of food aversions (could not even look at non-vegetarian, coffee, chocolate, mushrooms, most Indian food...), then two kids in tow (and a miraculously recovered appetite & a newly acquired sweet tooth!!!)... But of course all this is not an excuse that I have not even looked at my blogs for 2 years. Recently, at a moms' meeting, someone told me they checked out and loved my blogs (this one and "The Firang Diaries")... I felt both elated, and like a complete fraud!! Did people actually READ my ramblings?? Then, I went on a girls trip and we were all checking out a common friends' blog on food and I thought, hey I can do BETTER!!! Then, I logged on today and found out I had 4 followers!!! 4 precious, totally neglected followers... I know it's a tiny number, but the fact that these people took the effort to follow my thoughts really touches me and I THANK them!

And although my kitchen exploits have been extremely rare lately, this blog is about much more than making food. It's about discovering it, appreciating it, reading about it, tasting it etc... Which gives me plenty of opportunity to write.

So here I am, and please don't give up on me!!!