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Sunday, 29 April 2012

Shop till you drop and end with soul food Khichree

Shopping is sooooo refreshing and street side shopping is the best.
 I love street side shopping it makes me feel so rich.
Malls are great fun I agree. There's the A/c , there's the wafting perfume, there are sales people who are really nice to you if they think you are going to buy (not browse) and there's lots and lots of parking (even if you pay through your nose for it).
 The street is hot and sunny , you're sweaty and smelly, sales people couldn't care less because they have too many buyers and of course there is no question of parking.
But for me street side shopping is a real high. It makes me feel rich and loaded. The variety is amazing and you can have it ALL if you want.

So I was shopping on Bandra Linking Road this weekend and it was fabulous.
 There was the huge treasure trove of junk jewellery that I picked up and a truck load of sandals in all the possible shapes and colours from the dazzling stalls.
And then in the midst of this heady rush of filling my wardrobe to the seams I spotted this GREAT shop. Its not a stall but it has the stuff and the prices to match.
It is called The Primona Art Gallery
It is hard to miss when you're making the obligatory visit to McDonalds you find it right next door and when you're at KFC it is just across the road. It is a great place to pick up your summer wardrobe just now - they have these oh! so  light clothes that fall so well. The USP of the store though is the owner Mrs Kiran Malhotra who has such good taste in clothes. She has this instinctive knack of picking out just the right thing for you. That is the best quality for impatient shoppers like me who hate to go through hundreds of hangers full of clothes. I just stuck to the changing room and every time I would come out she would have another 5 things for me to try out. And I loved them all.
If youre in Mumbai rush there because they are having this stock clearance sale right now and you will get a fabulous deal.
So I shopped and shopped and got home on the verge of collapse.
Tired  feet and exhilarated minds need soul food that does not require too much hard work and so the obvious choice is - Khichree.
Sublime and filling a great one dish meal after a hard days toil

Super Easy Khichree

  1. In a bowl measure out 1/2 katori rice and 1/2 katori dhuli moong ki dal (yellow dal). Wash them well until the rinsed out water runs clear.
  2. In a pressure cooker heat 2 tablespoons of oil
  3. Add one bay leaf, 1 tsp jeera, 1tsp jeera powder, 1/2 tsp haldi and salt to taste.
  4. Add 1/2 tsp ginger paste and add the washed rice and dal mixture to it.
  5. Fry the rice and dal in the oil for a minute and then add 3 katoris of water.(use the same katori)
  6. Close the cooker and cook for 1 whistle at full flame and then reduce the flame and cook for another whistle at lowest flame. Allow the cooker to cool and then open it.
  7. Mix the kichree with a spoon. If it is too dry boil some water and pour the boiling hot water into the khichree to dilute it slightly.
  8. Eat it really hot with a large indulgent dollop of ghee and some pickle.

Enough calories to perk you up to dress to kill with your new accquisitions

Friday, 27 April 2012

Very easy and quick rajma for the day you dont want to cook

So Friday is finally here.

I've been sooooo looking forward to this Friday.

Tomorrow I plan to give myself retail therapy. The plan is to shop at the roadside stalls on Bandra Hill road and pick up anything that fits my budget and to shop till I drop.

 There are a lot of "I hopes" involved - like -
 I hope it's not too sunny( of course it will be - the kids are starting summer vacation tomorrow - dunce!),
 I hope I can get out at a good time and not get caught in too much traffic (very funny - in Mumbai on Saturday - you've got to be kidding). But anyway I've made up my mind - I'm going to bed early today to gear up for tomorrows trek into retail world.

 Oh and then there's the planned family get together at my cousins place - I'm looking forward to that certainly. She always manages to move into these picturesque houses in the heart of Mumbai - and it's like a resort visit to go there. This time it's another new house and I'm waiting to get there.

So with this elaborate thing planned for tomorrow I didn't want to do anything in the kitchen today.
Saturdays are my days off from the kitchen - I DONT COOK on Saturdays.

But the problem usually is that I switch off on Friday on most occassions. This used to be a rude surprise for my family because they would be hungry and  would realize then that I hadn't cooked anything. So the ever obliging dabba wala across the road would be our saviour for the day.

This was not really working because no food for two days in a row  - meant an empty fridge and that's not such a good thing with a kid at home.

 So now I do a "one dish" thing on Friday -
 it has to be something versatile that would go with rice roti and bread.
Also I make it in large quantities so that it can in an emergency  -  tide us over the next day as well.
AND - importantly it should be a family favourite  - because no one wants to eat - Kaddu ki sabji on Friday

So one of the things that has become a Friday staple in my kitchen is Rajma
My recipe calls for no effort on the part of the cook and the emergent dish can easily be modified and given a different twist for every meal that it is carried forward to

Very Easy and quick Rajma curry

  1. Soak a katori (or more ) of rajma in a lot of water. I like to use Kashmiri rajma but I know some excellent cooks who swear by the light coloured rajma seeds as well. When you soak - make sure that the water level is way above the rajma. at least 2 inches above the rajma seeds. It is best to soak overnight but in case you forget like I frequently do - Just use hot water to soak the rajma instead of regular water and soak it for two hours - that is good enough
  2. The next step is washing the rajma well. This in my opinion is the most tedious part of the cooking and I hate to do this. But anyway the rajma needs to be rinsed well at least 3 times
  3. Now put the rajma in a pressure cooker with about 8 times the amount of water.
  4. To this water add one chopped tomato, one chopped onion and a tsp of ginger garlic paste.
  5. Also add 1 tsp rajma masala and 3/4 tsp salt or to taste
  6. Close the cooker and cook it on full flame for the first whistle and then reduce the flame and cook it for another 20 minutes at the lowest flame.
  7. Allow the cooker to cool and then open it
  8. In a very small kadhai - heat a tablespoon of oil and add a teaspoon full of jeera. When the jeera splutters, turn off the gas and add a tsp of jeera powder.
  9. Pour this over the cooked rajma
  10. Turn the gas on again and simmer the rajma on lowest flame for 10 minutes
That's it! You're done!

And this is such a versatile dish that it allows at least three modifications into other yummy food

That's for another day. Right now I'm hungry. That rajma is going right inside me!

Thursday, 26 April 2012

A spicy dal to uproot the bad mood

Some days start off very badly. Mine did today.I woke up grumpy. We had been fighting over the A/c temperature and had spent the night grabbing the remote from each other.

Then like all bad days - things just kept getting worse.

I had a tiff with my 5 year old daughter over her hair -do. She wanted it one way and I insisted that was not for school days. And suddenly we were in the middle of tears.

 The breakfast got stranded half way with her insisting that she had a stomach ache. We drove to school in an icy silence.

 At the school gate however the parting was too much for both of us and we did kiss and exchange a "love you", but then after that she was on the other side of the gate and I was left nursing my grumpy ill temper on this side.

The morning was spent doing nothing in particular - not even indulging in my favourite blogging.

Caution and diets were thrown to the winds and two big bars of chocolate were devoured in an attempt to placate the ugly witch with the nasty temper. Plans were made to chop off the unruly mane.

 Then just as I was about to leave to go chop - chop - chop at the hair stylists, I saw a bowl of dal staring up at me from the kitchen shelf. A leftover roti was commissioned from the fridge and the dal was attacked. Five spoons of the comfort food in my stomach and I was a different person. Every spoon full after that made things look better and better.With the next helping I scooped up the red chillies as well and sqeezed their dangerous red juices into the dal and slurped it up. Wow! amazing.

The hing and the chillies had collectively kicked my world back into form again. The world looked good again and I was ready to blog
Blog about the magic called Dhuli masoor ki dal - an inconspicous pink lentil that could be transformed by a little bit of haldi, namak, hing jeera and saboot lal mirch into a magical potion that over took even the famed tried and tested feel good property of Chocolate

Masoor ki dal ( comfort food for troubled minds)

  1. Take a katori of dhuli masoor ki dal and wash it well until the rinsed off water runs clear
  2. Put it in a pan with three times the amount of water and add 1/2 tsp haldi and 3/4 tsp salt to it.
  3. Boil until the dal is cooked and starts looking brownish yellow instead of pink (about 10 minutes)
  4. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a small kadhai, add 2 whole red chillies, a pinch of hing and a tsp of jeera.
  5. When the jeera splutters, pour it over the cooked dal
  6. Mix well and simmer the dal for another 5 minutes or until the bubbles disappear
Your magic potion is ready

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

I love weekend lunches. In my family we always prefer going out for lunch over dinner.
 It's more relaxed, you can eat more, feel less guilty ,sleep when you get home in the afternoon and work off some calories in the evening walk.

So typically on Sunday, when the house has been cleaned and the prolonged obligatory baths completed, we head out for LUNCH. Now this is not at 13:00 hrs - we're still talking 11:00 hrs.

 It's a leisurely drive on roads that are almost irrecognisable without the crazy traffic. We cruise into a parking spot without the proverbial eagle eye in operation and without getting cursed for our good luck - and we're all set to go. Surprise! surprise! we left home only minutes ago - not hours. Ah! how I love such surprises.

And then we begin ordering -
Since we're teetotallers and on other days loyal to our balanced diets - we go the whole hog on these lunches. There's hardly a starter that we haven't ordered by the time we are through with our respective choices and the poor waiter is looking us up and down incredulously. Shamelessly enough we plod on and order drinks and ask him to come back later for our lunch order.

So we spend a good hour and half chomping away on the starters, lazing and basking in the shaded afternoon sun and generally catching up on the weeks gossip. (On weekdays our only conversation is via mobile phones - we're too grumpy to talk in the morning and too tired to talk at night)

Then comes the time to order lunch. Now this is a slightly touchy issue or rather was - until I picked up a crucial recipe. I would always order - Dal Makhani (kali dal) and my husband could not see any sense in a otherwise fanatic non-vegetarian ordering dal at a restaurant especially since dal makhani is always ridiculously overpriced everywhere. 

Then one day I decided to root out this contentious issue from our otherwise peaceful Sundays and this is the recipe I picked up.
It is so easy and so low on oil that I now make it on any odd day - not necessarily waiting for a Sunday. I have stopped ordering this dish at restaurants and that has brought down my restaurant bill considerably


For most of the time the dal is pressure cooking (25 mins) or simmering (10 mins) on it's own. The only human touch is in frying the tomatoes (5 mins). So 5 mins is about the only time invested. And there's no makkhan (butter) in the makhani - so eat all you like 

  1. Measure out a katori of sabut Urad ki dal. Wash it well until the rinsed out water runs clear
  2. Put the dal into a cooker with about 8 times the amount of water
  3. Throw in 2 whole red chillies , A tsp of ginger garlic paste and 3/4 tsp of salt
  4. Close the cooker and cook it on high flame until the first whistle and then on lowest flame for another 20 minutes.
  5. Turn off the flame and allow the cooker to cool
  6. Meanwhile - Heat a tablespoon of oil in a kadhai
  7. In this oil fry 1 chopped tomato
  8. Add a tsp of ginger garlic paste to the fried tomato
  9. Turn off the flame and add 2 tsp of kasoori methi to it.
  10. When the cooker cools open it and add the fried tomato to the dal
  11. Add a glass of milk to the dal to dilute it and mix well
  12. Simmer the dal on the gas at minimum flame for 10 minutes
You can add more milk if you like or simmer for longer if you like the dal very thick.


Tuesday, 24 April 2012

A "maidless Tuesday"

What a Tuesday! Just when I was hoping for the week to settle into it's own pace after the mad rush of Monday - MY MAIDS DECIDED TO TAKE OFF TOGETHER!
So contingency plans had to be employed quickly.
Okay I'll manage without the dusting and the Jhaadoo - Pocha but what about the dishes?
Commission the easiest clean up menu -
  1. Chane ki dal
  2. Palak  paneer
  3. Rotis from the dabba wala across the street
I don't know about you but years of household chaos have taught me that I should REALLY utilize the weekends.
So over the weekend - I always keep a lot of stuff ready in airtight containers to be commissioned on days like this.
All time favourites are -
  • Half kilo chopped onions
  • Half kilo chopped tomatoes
  • Some ginger garlic paste ( I go with store bought)
  • Two bunches of Spinach / palak - boiled with some salt and ginger garlic paste and pureed in the food processor
  • Of course frozen paneer packets
So I put all these to good use to minimize the use of pots and pans that I would have to wash.

Chane ki dal
The trick with chane ki dal is that you have to wash it really well before pressure cooking it to minimise the mess in the kitchen.
  1. Put the washed dal in the cooker with a teaspoon of oil and some salt.
  2. Cook it for one whistle on full flame and the next on minimum flame.
  3. Allow the cooker to cool
  4. In a tadke ki kadhai ( a tiny katori like kadhai with a long handle) heat a tablespoon of oil.
  5. To the oil add 1 bay leaf, a tsp of jeera and 1/2 tsp of haldi
  6. Add 1 1/2 tsp of sugar to this.
  7. As the sugar starts to brown, pick up the kadhai and pour the contents over the cooked dal
  8. Simmer the dal with the tadka for 10 minutes.
  9. Pour out the dal into the serving bowl immediately and use the cooker to make Palak paneer
Palak paneer
  1. Heat some oil in the cooker
  2. Add a tablespoon of chopped onions and when they are fried add a tablespoon of chopped tomatoes. Sprinkle a very minute amount of salt on the tomatoes so that they cook quickly. (There is some salt already in the spinach puree so we need to really watch it)
  3. Now pour the spinach puree into a micrwave safe bowl and pour the fried onion and tomato over it. Mix well
  4. Add the paneer cubes and mix
  5. Microwave for 3 minutes at 100% power.
Ta -da - we have just the cooker and the tadke ki kadhai to wash and we're done with the cooking.
Thank God for the good sense that prevailed over me on the weekend!

Monday, 23 April 2012

So the weekend came and went. Mumbai was really hot this weekend and since I'm planning to get my killer tan at the swimming classes , I stuck indoors. I always plan to get a lot of stuff done over the weekend, primarily in the house clean up department, but very little actually gets done. With husband and baby at home, if anything the house looks even messier on Monday than it did on Friday. There was a time when I would really fret about this and drive myself up the wall and send hubby and baby scuttling to their respective hideouts, but now I've given up. I still make plans, I start the weekend all gung ho - but as soon as the newspapers and all the supplements make themselves into the door, I just give in to the temptation of curling up on the sofa and reading recipes into the sunset.

 It is really a very very strange thing about me and I think most foodies that we like to read very very complex recipes that use exotic ingredients and state of the art gadgets to make. It's something like science fiction to us I think.. I don't think anyone ever attempts these recipes. Nor do people go looking for these astronomically priced dishes to taste them - but we LOVE to read about them. It's like  food porn maybe - you imagine and you feel happy.

So there I am snuggled in a corner with my weekend hobby - reading recipes - when the phone rings -

Oh! its my friend! "Come over for lunch" I say.

 And then as I put down the phone I'm racking my brains for the simplest recipe which does not require fancy ingredients and that will fill really jam the satiety centre of the brain And of course not require too much scrubbing of dishes later.

So on the menu now is
  1. Jhatpat chicken - without chopping
  2. Garlic bread with cheese - the healthy way
  3. Chocolate icecream

JHATPAT CHICKEN - without chopping
  1. Wash up a kilo of precut skinless chicken - 1Kg
  2. Peel and halve 1/2 a kilo of medium sized potatoes
  3. Take a pressure cooker ( I like to use pressure pans from prestige because theyre easier to cook in)
  4. Heat a tablespoon of oil in the pressure cooker
  5. Add 2 tablespoons of Biryani masala / Biryani pulao masala (these are must haves for Sunday emergencies)
  6. Fry the masala for 30 seconds
  7. Tip in the chicken and the halved peeled potatoes
  8. Add salt to taste and a cup of water
  9. Close the cooker and give it one whistle on full flame and then reduce the flame and give it another whistle
  10. Turn off the gas and allow the cooker to cool
  11. Open the cooled cooker and heat the dish uncovered for 5 minutes on full flame so that some of the fluid evaporates and the gravy thickens
  12. Serve


Well of course the garlic bread is baked by the baker - not me certainly!
  1. Slice the garlic bread with a bread knife such that the slices are still held together at the bottom of the loaf
  2. Take 2 teaspoons of butter in a bowl and mix in a tablespoon of grated cheese. If you have the time and can allow the butter to melt good - if not - just mix extra hard
  3. Spread a little bit of this mixture in between the slices
  4. Preheat the oven at convection mode at 200 C for 10 minutes
  5. Place the loaf on a baking tin and put it in the pre heated oven to bake for 10 minutes at 200 C
  6. You're ready to serve

When I have my way it is always Mississpi mud from Baskin Robbins


If you try this recipe Id love to hear from you

Thursday, 19 April 2012

7 pm at night is this crazy time for me. We're just back from the park, dinner has to be on the table in 20 minutes, we ( at least me and the baby) have to eat,I have to get her to brush her teeth , take a shower and get into bed by 8:30 PM.. Thats the lights out time for my kid. So it's a race against time with a dwadling baby in tow.
So surprise surprise when in the midst of this whirlwind of activity pat comes the question - "Mamma how did you make what you gave me for tiffin today?"

 She was actually asking for my cheese slice and egg dhamaka recipe! I stopped in my tracks. Did we have a prodigy here - a masterchef in the making?

"Why do you want to know?" I asked.
" My friend Krishna shared my tiffin todday and she loved it. She wants to tell her Mom the recipe so that she can bring it too"
Wow that was a compliment. A recipe enquiry and from none other than the biggest critic - a five year old! Was I thrilled? Thrilled enough to stall everything and waltz around the hall with her .Yes!

So that was all the encouragement I needed. Today on the tiffin menu was cheese paratha.

I always buy the big tins of processed cheese. They make much more sense and minimize the mess and the wastage. I know a lot of people who have a big problem with handling the cheese and getting it out of the tin.
My way is - to cut away the top and the bottom of the tin with the tin cutter, Push in a knife at the edge between the cheese and the tin and turn the kinfe around the tin once to loosen the cheese from the tin. Then I just push from one end and the cheese cylinder pops out at the other end. Then I just pick up the whole cheese cylinder and grate it on the grater and store the grated cheese in an air tight box. So there's this cheese that's always handy to add taste and health to any dish.

Cheese paratha - a fabulous snack -
  1. I like to take a large piece of dough to make the paratha (about double the size of what i would take for a roti.
  2.  I roll it out with the rolling pin to the size of roti ( a very thick roti)
  3. Then place some grated cheese in the centre of the roti and bring the edges of the roti together and close it up - like a pouch.
  4.  Flatten the top of the pouch and dunk it in dry flour and roll the rolling pin on it to flatten it out. So its back to looking like a paratha.
  5. Turn it over and roll on the other side to flatten it some more.
  6. Now place it on the tawa with the flame at high.
  7.  Turn it over lower the flame and spread some oil on it with a spoon.
  8. Turn it over again and fry this oiled side.
  9. Oil the other side as well and fry it.
             Thats it!

The trick is to keep the paratha small (in diameter). It should be in the stomach in about six bites. Also spreading less will ensure that there are no breaks in the dough through which the cheese comes out.
Hey this is addicting . I'm back on my blog again. I'm talking to myself out here  - only it is much better than that. So yes  we're signed up for that swimming class now. My friend chickened out at the last minute and so now I'm going alone with two five year olds. Talking of five year olds - my daughter now has two tiffin breaks and that's the one thing that really ticks me off about her going to class I. Every morning I rack my brains to fill two tiffins, and for a slow eater like my baby it has to be compact as well. So I need this energy packed dhamaka that goes in , in about 5 bites. This morning I hit upon this brilliant marriage of french toast and cheese sandwich and thats what I gave her.  Here goes

Cheese slice and egg dhamaka

You need -
  1. A cheese slice (available from Amul etc.)
  2. 2 slices of bread
  3. 1 raw egg
  4. 1 tablespoon oil
  5. 1 teaspoon butter (optional)
This how you go -
  1. Break the egg in a quarter plate.Any plate actually will do but a quarter plate is the right size to dip in the bread.
  2. Stir the egg a bit so that the white and yellow parts mix
  3. Take one slice of bread and place it on the egg. Allow the bread to soak up the egg as much as possible
  4. Place a cheese slice on the side of the bread facing you (which is not yet egg soaked)
  5. Cover the cheese slice with another slice of bread
  6. Flip over the tower of bread slices and cheese slice so that the top bread can now soak in the egg.
  7. Heat a tablespoon of oil in the frying pan (add a teaspoon of butter to this oil if you like)
  8. Place the egg soaked cheese slice sandwich in the oil. Fry one side and when it is done flip it over and fry the other side. It is a good idea to fry at medium or low flame so that the egg does not burn on the outside and the cheese melts slightly inside and holds the bread slices together.
  9. Make sure you lift out the sandwich before the cheese melts so much that it starts dripping onto the pan.
  10. Take the sandwich out on an open paper napkin and dab both sides to soak up as much oil as possible.
  11. And Voila! we're ready to go!
Note - I dont' put any salt into the egg because I find the cheese slice and bread make it salty enough - but if you like you could add a little bit of salt to the egg

Ta-da for now.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Oh my God! I'm actually in Blogosphere! I'm so excited! It's almost like being Alice in wonderland and stepping into a different world for me. Me -thirty something, busy Doctor (not just now), aspiring and sometimes successful homemaker, great Mom (in the words of my 5 year old daughter) and now also BLOGGER! I want to squeal in delight and I think I can risk it just now because there's no one in earshot, so here goes Wheeeeeeee!
For all you seasoned bloggers out there who are now turning on indulgent smiles you have no idea what a great step this is for a non blogger. I have been toying with the idea of blogging for the past 4 years. I have opened this site at least 10 times in the past 6 months but chickened out at the continue button and today Ive finally done it. Well the plan is to write about shortcut cooking in India, especially on weekdays when CRAZY is the only appropriate word to describe life as it exists and I am trying to perfect this art.Today ofcourse I'm just so excited that I cant even begin, my shaking hands are making too many typos. So I'm going to continue later. Right now my friend is here and we're off to register ourselves and our daughters for a swimming class. So see you guys.
I'm not sure anyone is listening and I feel like I'm talking to myself. I feel like a teenager on her first day of college. It feels good - just like anything new does. O.K now I just have to go . For whoever is  listening - see you later!