Tuesday 31 July 2012


Don't kill me for not keeping a promise. Anyway, aren't promises made to be broken ;) Two weeks ago I'd assured you of a healthy recipe. And the post got so delayed that we've turned more healthy than our two-weeks-ago Self! That's the bad news. 
                                                                                                      The good news is that this Green, if followed conscientiously, will make your friends turn green with envy. At your svelte figure :) Ok, now smile. Please people! Don't make me feel so guilty. There's another good news. This is so super-easy to make & so fantastically filling that you'll forget about the delay. Promise :)
                                                                                              Chilke Wali Moong, guys & gals. For nutrition & a fab figure!
                                                                                                                                      Ingredients:[serves 2-3]
1. 1/2 cup whole green moong- soaked for 2 hrs
2. 1 small onion- cubed
3. 1 large tomatoo- cubed
4. 1-2 green chillies- chopped (optional)
5. 1/4 tsp turmeric
6. Dollop of butter(optional)
7.  2 -2 1/2 cup water
8. Salt to taste
1. In a pressure cooker, heat water. 
2. Add the soaked moong, onion, tomato, chillies(if using), turmeric powder & salt, and pressure cook on medium flame to 3-4 whistles.
                                                                                                                                              Serve hot with a dollop of low-fat butter. Tastes equally yum without it too! 

Dekha, bola tha na, itna easy ki gussa bhool jaoge ;)

Eat with roti/chawal if you like. Keep the consistency thick for that perfect taste. 

For a variation, fry the onion & tomato and pressure cook the soaked moong in it. That will entail the use of 1-2tsp oil/ghee/butter.

Sunday 29 July 2012

Coconut Chicken

That Mr.Tiwari becomes a father at 86 is heartening news indeed. Especially for couples who want to get into the family way. TOI aptly carried yesterday's contrapunto as "children are born in hospitals, fathers in court." Rohit Shekhar, Tiwari Jr, gave another memorable one-liner when he said, "I am not his illegitimate son. He is my illegitimate father." One can only imagine how hardened this young man must have become carrying the stigma of  bastardization for his 32 odd years. What will become of the family only time will unravel. Whether the son will take on the father's surname or be the heir apparent, whether the politician will ever openly acknowledge his paternity or whether the mother's stoicism will ever turn to hope, who can ever predict.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        What the news has done to our sensation-starved, socially-networked nation is evident. One young man sees hope for himself,  'if at 86 he can, at 25 I can!' Another attributes such 'power' to ayurveda and the shudh bhojan people ate thirty three years ago! The jibes are endless and won't abate any time soon, going by the mass hysteria. The only two events that gave us such fodder lately is Kaka's passing and the mystery lady in red in the London Olympics who took away India's blink-and-miss global coverage, in the opening ceremony. If we thought it happens only in India, we missed the bull's eye. It happens in Queen's land too, with all their security and civility. Nobody knows for now who that stranger in the red track-top is who took away the vibrance of the Indian contingent's bright yellow. 

If bright yellow is what you want to recreate, you could turn to your kitchen too. That coconut that is lying around can be put to some good use. Just half of it should suffice. Leena's trip to Goa egged me to try this one. Since I couldn't tag along, I tried creating a coastal platter at home. The cloudy skies only helped; the sea of flats that can be seen from my sixth-floor balcony are being viewed as the sea (minus the concrete) and just for now, deceiving oneself doesn't feel all that treacherous. Coconut Chicken for a sultry Sunday, pals. Give it a go(a).
1. 1kg chicken- deskinned & cut into medium-sized pieces
2. 1 large onion- cubed
3. 1 large tomato- cubed
4. 1/4 bottle gourd(lauki) - cubed (optional)
5. 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
For Coconut paste:[Grind 1-5]
1. 1/2 a coconut-grated (use dessicated coconut if you want)
2. 1 tsp coriander seeds
3. 2-3 green chillies - roughly chopped
4. 1 cube ginger- roughly chopped
5. 1/4 cup fresh cilantro(dhania patta)
For seasoning
1. 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
2. 1 tsp whole garam masala
3. 2-3 dry red chillies
4. 2 stems fresh curry leaves
5. 1- 2 tsp white oil
Salt to taste

1. Heat oil. Allow seasoning ingredients to splutter.
2. Saute onion for 2-3 minutes. Add bottle gourd(if using), tomato & turmeric powder and fry for 5 mins.

3. Add the chicken pieces and fry on high flame for 3-4 mins.

4. Add the cocunut paste, mix well, add salt, close the cooker and give it 2 whistles on high flame.  

 1. You can make this in the wok if you are not using bottle gourd. Cover the wok and let chicken cook on sim for 15 mins, in that case.
2. DO NOT use water. The coconut, the chicken, the bottle gourd- all release water!                                                                                        


Please don't go by the kalonji seeds in pic 2. 
hurried case of masala-dabba cleaning made some wanton kalonji land in the dhania compartment!

Serve coconut chicken with steaming plain  rice. Tastes delectable. The coconut gives the chicken able companionship; the lauki reminds them that its health over taste. As the ingredients battle it out, you go, enjoy the finger-licking experience....

As this goes public, I am told Madhura Honey is the Lady in Red. The gate-crasher at the London Olympics gets maximum Fb clicks today ;)


Tuesday 17 July 2012

Oil-Free Hara Murgh

Posting a chicken recipe in saawan may be nothing short of sacrilege but the fact remains that in a diverse country like India not everyone follows the same rituals at the same time of the year. Thank all our Gods for all their small mercies. 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The other day the maid took a day off. On being questioned the next day, she revealed they had a tyohaar. They make halwa, kala chana etc & offer it to their God. Sounded suspiciously similar to what North India does for Navratras. What God do they follow, I venture further. Humlog Allah ko maante hain. With names like Seema & Julie who would have ever guessed! Seema is the mother, Julie, her first born. The younger ones are Ruby & Alisha. I tell her, her daughters have real filmi names. She beems in pride. Humlog ke gaon mein aisa hi naam rakhte hain, didi. 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Didis can nag big time. Kaun sa gaon hai aapka? Turns out her village is near Banaras. They celebrate all festivals. Their names transcend religious barriers. There is no jaat-paat ka kich-kich. What an ideal situation, I think. How radical are these illiterate farmers! They could teach a lesson or two to the 'leaders' who ignite discrimination for their vested interests. And keep the issue burning for want of a constructive agenda. 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The progressive poor come to cities, the men take up work on the construction sites, the wives work as domestic help in the apartments in the vicinity, the children go to the neighborhood school, they make more money than they did back home & keep wondering why it still isn't enough. Bahut kharcha hai yahan didi. I couldn't agree more. 
                                                                                                         It is Saturday morning. We are having French-toast for breakfast. Seema comes in to work. I suggest she eat before starting. Kya banayein hai? Anda hai? Hum anda nahi khate hain. I express surprise, I thought she was a non-vegetarian? Nahin, khate hain, lekin abhi saawan chal raha hai na. Oh okk and I give her plain bread & chai. She scrubs the gas stove as if washing its sins & takes out the frames & cleanses them too! Here is a devout Muslim who goes vegetarian in saawan & keeps her roza too. And here is a Hindu Brahmin who posts chicken recipes in saawan & is unapologetic about it....

1. 1kg chicken- deskinned & cut
2.  250 gms palak - washed & chopped
3. 1 large onion - cubed
4. 2 tomatoes- cubed
5. 1tbsp roughly chopped ginger & garlic
6. 2-3 green chillies- chopped
7. 2 tsp whole garam masala(cardamom, cinnamon, clove)
8. 1 tsp turmeric powder
9. Salt to taste
1. Arrange layers of (from bottom) chopped palak, onion, tomato, ginger & garlic, chillies, chicken pieces & whole garam masala in a pressure pan/cooker.

2. Sprinkle turmeric powder & salt, close the lid of the cooker & give the Hara Murgh 3-4 whistles, two on high flame & the rest on medium. 

3. Open lid to find chicken cooked & water from palak giving it gravy. Let the dish simmer on high to reduce water & make it more palatable.

Insight: The oil floating(pic 4) is animal fat & not any that has been externally added. 

 Serve hot with plain rice & enjoy health & happiness. 

                                                                   Before making this recipe, I'd wanted to fry the cooked chicken for an added jazz. But the simmer-and-condense-gravy formula worked so well that an absolutely oil-free chicken dish was the result! And nobody's complaining :) 

Friday 6 July 2012

Hot Sams

Apne desh ki mitti ki khushbu aaj lautne ke baad pehli bar naseeb hua! It finally rained enough for people to smell that saundhi si khushboo that raindrops on a parched land produces. A smell so delicious that one could just eat it! For a long time in life I thought I was the only one who ate mitti, slate pencil, chalk & broken pieces of the flower pot. Till Yashoda, of the Mahabharat fame, uttered that one dialogue that made me feel inclusive. 'Kanha, tune mitti khayee?!' What also made the dialogue memorable to our young minds was the accent with which the actor pronounced 'mitti'. It was a highly Americanized 'ch' sound where a plain Indian 't' could have done. Bhaiyu & I laughed about Kanha's michti eating for years. 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      People grow only in age. And in waistline. Mentally, we remain just what we were when we ate chalk on the sly. For fear of ridicule. Somebody sees you doing it one day, she admits how she loves it too, and gradually, before you know it, the teachers are complaining about chalks disappearing rather fast from the chalk-box. From one, now you are a whole gang of youngsters who like it earthy! Is that why so many of us become teachers ;) All along I thought, I'd become one because I liked checking notebooks. After a decade I stopped being one cz I'd had enough of corrections and did not want a frozen shoulder any more! Evolution, eh? 
                                                                                                          Delhi & NCR is looking greener after this evening. But the city that is almost freezing is Bangalore. Imagine my horror when I saw Bhaiyu wearing a woolly jacket the day before! As I saved myself from falling off the chair, Tuli gave her classic one-liner. 'Itna din se humlog tumko hamesha jacket mein dekhe hain, ab hum dikhayenge!' And to tease me more, Ma is making samosas at home and sending me pics! In the searing heat of Delhi, I could not get myself to post that recipe. Today just seems like the ideal evening. And if the collective consciousness of the Delhi/NCR junta is to be trusted, the weekend should be pleasant too.
                                                                                                Ingredients:[makes 8-10]
1. 1 cup maida
2. 2-3 tsp refined oil
3. 1/4 tsp salt
4. 1/2 cup water (add gradually)
1. 2 boiled potato - roughly chopped
2. 6-7 boiled gobi florets
3. 1/2 tsp zeera powder
4. 1/4 tsp coriander seeds
5. Chilli powder- as preferred
6. Salt to taste
1. Knead the maida by adding all ingredients. Make into tough dough.
2. Crackle coriander seeds in hot oil. Add the potato & gobi and fry well. Add the salt & zeera powder, mix well, remove from flame.
Leave aside for 10 minutes to cool.
Tip: Add green peas, peanuts & freshly chopped coriander for extra zing.
3. Make equal sized balls with the dough. Roll out like a big poori & cut into half.(see pic) 
4. Take each half, roll it like you do a paper packet(thonga), fill the stuffing, line the inside of the open side with water & stick it tight. (see pic)
5. The samosas should 'sit', that ensures you got the shape right.

6. Deep fry on medium heat till uniformly golden brown.
                                                                                                                                                       Serve hot with ketchup.

                                                                                               Bangalore wasis please note: It has rained in The Capital & national capital regions too. We can make our samosas & eat them this weekend!

                                                                                                    Thank you for the inspiration :)

Wednesday 4 July 2012


Bubun has taken to dalia & I'd to post this for him. A little ironic considering it is his birthday today and instead of murga which he so loved when he was small, I am doing a health food for him. This also has to be for Inayat who has taken his first step towards healthy living by buying his first packet of dalia. 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Years ago when we were all school goers, Bubun & Babai were our neighbours. The younger of the two siblings, it was when Bubun was recuperating from a surgery that I had made the first dalia for him. That taste has apparently stuck, as it happens with most firsts of our life. He was discharged on 4th July & he came back to a very decorated house and we made the most of his birthday that year. Aah, to be alive and to be young!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        That operation bonded us so much that the two of us made a pact- whoever went for a party would bring back food for the other! And whenever we burped after a hearty meal, we would say, 'murgaa' with relish whether the bird was part of the platter or not. Life was one long party till one didn't realize when the shamiana had wrapped up and the guests all gone.
                                                                              Dalia/Porridge is a dish I'd first eaten at the college hostel. They made it in milk & it was sweet. Who taught me the namkeen version I just cannot recall but I seem to have thrived on dalia all my life. First to escape the avoidable mess food & later to fight flab. It used to be the regular broken- wheat-pieces dalia that I picked from stores. Made with daal, like khichdi, and eaten with a dollop of ghee, tasted yum. For the past three years, I've moved to multi-grained dalia(pic right) that has a host of ingredients packed in it. I pick it from the Patanjali Yogpeeth outlets that are now all over the world. 
                                                                                Ingredients:[serves 2]
1. 1/2 cup dalia 
2. Chopped vegetables- whatever you have
3. 2 cups water
4. 1/4 tsp turmeric - optional
5. Salt to taste
6. 1-2 tsp oil(only)
1. Saute the chopped vegetables in minimal oil.
2. Add the dalia & fry for a minute or two.

3. Add water & salt and pressure cook on medium flame till 3-5 whistles.
                                                                                                                                                   Mutli-grained dalia, because of its various ingredients, takes time to cook. 

Serve hot. Add ghee for flavour. Or go the low-fat butter way. 

I'd recommend neither of the two. Eat it as it is. You've sauted the veggies in oil, remember!
                                                                                                   Happy Birthday, Bubun! US celebrates its birthday with you. Lucky they :) 


Have you ever met anyone who does Italian seasoning with masoor dal? Or talks of mozzarella cheese as if it were an attractive dame? Or someone who finds non-vegetarian fare the most unimaginative because the area to experiment with, is the vegetarian? No? So probably, you haven't met Saurabh Vig, as yet. 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The Principal Partner (Marketing & BD) in one of the leading training services of the country, Saurabh is a charismatic personality, who has risen to great heights in the current organization because he 'applied himself'. He goes on to explain that though he had none of the skills that training normally requires, he was quick-witted & sharp. He picked up the ropes faster than his peer and wields a clout today that his contemporaries don't. As a business meeting turned to the less-formal food discussion, one almost knew by gut that this is an association that will go long. 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        That night I was making nenua for dinner. A vegetable looked down upon by the populace,  the Sponge Gourd/ Vegetable Sponge/dhudul(Bangla) is a favourite in my house. What makes it more sought after is its medicinal properties. The dried fruit is what becomes the loofah, used as a bath scrub. That, only if we are growing it in our garden. Which, currently, we are not. Apartments often don't give you the luxury of a garden. If forty potted plants can be called a garden, well mera dil garden garden ho gaya :) 
                                                                                                   Nenua made with chana dal is a delicacy that the health-conscious digs. A big bowl of this is good to go for dinner as the body gets its quota of greens & protein(the dal). The spice used is minimal & to chalao one litre cooking oil for a month is upto you. Ok, make that two if one sounds too parsimonious! 
                                                                                                     Here's a pretty pic of dhudul from the web before we go on to the recipe.
Dhamargava, Sponge Gourd, Indian Medicinal Plant                                                                                                       

1. 1/4 cup chana dal- soaked & boiled
2. 5-6 large nenua - peeled & cut (see pic)
3. 1 medium onion- chopped
4. 1-2 tejpatta(bay leaves)
5. 1-2 dry red chillies/as preferred
6. 1/2 tsp zeera(cumin seeds)
7. 1/2 tsp turmeric
8. 1/2 tsp ginger paste/grated
9. 1/2 tsp garam masala powder
10. Salt to taste
11. 2 tsp mustard/refined oil to cook (not more!)
1. Soak the chana dal for atleast an hour. 
Boil with a dash of grated ginger, salt & a pinch of turmeric on medium flame to 2-3 whistles. Use just 1 cup water. 
Do not overcook. The dal should remain whole. 

2. Heat oil in a wok. Add the cumin seeds, dry red chillies & tejpatta and allow to crackle.  
Saute chopped onion in the seasoning.
3. Add the nenua pieces, mix well, add salt & turmeric and cover the pan.
Keep to medium flame & let nenua cook in its own juice.
4. After 10 mins, check for tenderness, add the boiled chana dal with the water, and let curry simmer for 5-7 mins. 
Keep wok covered. Open lid if you want to dry the gravy.
5. Add the garam masala powder, let simmer for a minute and remove from flame.

                             Serve hot with roti. Or eat a whole bowl of this as it is. Healthy Eating, people!
Waiting for your exotic recipes, Saurabh :)

Sunday 1 July 2012


Congratulate me friends. I took to the wheels after more than a year. And reached home unscathed. That calls for a double pat. Of course what I don't intend to tell anybody is that my throat went dry, my hands went clammy, I almost forgot the order of the ABC- the accelerator, the brake, the clutch, and it did not help my cause that the papers had published a research that most accidents are caused by women mistaking the accelerator for the brake. You don't want such thoughts to flood your mind when you are in the driver's seat. 
                                                                                                                                                                                                            Hardcore feminists will cry hoarse to debunk the infamous notion that women make  pathetic drivers. And I'd whole-heartedly agree. On the face. Just that peeping honestly into my own past will make me a little uncomfortable going on a morcha with the bravehearts. Preeti is witness to my biking skills. Once, as we were riding back from school on our bicycles, I rode into an uncle expecting him to change sides. It did not matter to me that he was on the right side & no traffic rule lays down that the driver taking a right turn shouldn't do just that. The gentleman was on a scooter and when I opened my eyes, I found myself on his back seat & he trying hard to keep his scooter from falling. The front tyre of my cycle was distorted to a hitherto unknown geometric shape and Preeti wore a look on her face that said wait-till-our-gang-hears-about-this-tomorrow. I was fully conscious, the sporadic amnesia that makes you forget your cycle has a bell & a brake had left me and I felt an intense urge of laughing out loud. Uncle paid ten rupees for my bike repair & we gratefully rode home.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       That was atleast better than riding to the edge of the Beldih lake to save myself from an oncoming truck. The cycle fell taking my school bag with it, I fell with it, the kind auto-walas rushed to my aid with the older ones admonishing me for my lack of sense & the younger ones wondering why they don't have driving licences for cycle riders as well. With memorable instances like these that light up my canvas, it was in everybody's benefit that my drive today happened at 4pm. No sensible soul is out on the streets in this scorching heat, the cows behave themselves & the odd pedestrian sees a bewildered face behind the steering and quickly changes direction. For a ten minutes distance on an deserted road, I honked 6 times(why take chances with safety), refused to change gears twice(why do they have to have gears at all? Just give me an automatic car & see me vrooming around) and, much to my credit, remembered my ABC. 
                                                                                                                                         Gala sookh gaya with all the gyan that followed. Or whether with the real experience, who is to ever tell! Make me a cool drink please, somebody. A variation of the traditional thandai I could do with now. Need all the dry-fruit energy that the drink offers. Just for today let me have my dose of sugar & fat. And from tomorrow I promise to go back to my healthy ways. Huff puff, phluueeze. Do you have: 
                                                                                                                                                1. 1/2 ltr cold milk[serves 2]
2. Sugar to taste (I used the batasha sediments that were left)
3. Handful of cashew & raisins
                                                                                                                                         Thank God you do. 
                                                                                                                                                    1. Grind the sugar & dry fruit first.

                                                                          2. Add the cold milk (boiled & cooled in India; straight from the bottle in the West) & vanilla essence and blend.

                                                                 Serve cold. 

                                                           As Dalia says, it is important to keep the Self satisfied first. Keep yourself cool this summer, people. And in all summers to come.
                                                                                                                                       Just one friendly request before I sign off. If you see anyone resembling me driving towards you, please change tracks. Believe me, I've never been this serious with a request before.