Thursday, February 25, 2010

Happy retirement, Dad and mom........

Wow.... today is that day..our parents are finally bidding adieu to a place that has been home to them for so many years...

Doha (Qatar) has been where dad spent the past 40 years, and my mom has shared nearly 35 years there, herself. My siblings and I have spent a few years of our childhood and all our vacation time there too...

I used to wish for my parents to live in India , when my brother and I had to stay away from them for my schooling...but it wasn't meant to be.

Both of them took on a lot of responsibilities at an early age, and have taken care of each and every one of those with panache. I hope they have a very long and trouble-free retirement and enjoy time without any more burdens....

Amma and Acha, may your life forward be everything you hoped for...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Miniature paintings of Jaipur

During our trip to Jaipur in December, I also got to meet some great artists who were award winners in the Miniature Art. This is handed down through generations.

We got a live demo of how they do it. The vibrant colours are from grinding semi precious stones like malachite, corals , conch shells, gold and silver on a rough surface, mixing it with a solution that ensures the colours hold fast, and they draw with a brush with a very fine bristle, that the artists make themselves...

The above outline of an elephant was done in a couple of minutes, including the preparation of the paint...

There were intricate and very very expensive paintings stacked and hung all over the stall....many were done on old stamp papers and looked centuries old...sadly we were requested not to take pictures of the beautiful paintings...

But I could not come away without atleast a small sample, and so I chose the painting of the elephant.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


This was a salad my daughter and I enjoyed for lunch yesterday.

She loves the yellow bell peppers and so I decided to make a salad largely to her taste. That is to say, without too much black pepper, or chilly powder I otherwise add...and I have to say that everything blended so perfectly, it did not need anything else...

Yellow bell pepper - 1 large (cut into bite sized pieces)
Tomatoes - 2
Salami - 2 slices (shredded..i used smoked chicken salami)
Feta cheese - 1 tbsp - crumbled
Spring onion - 1 (white and green, chopped)

For the dressing
Garlic clove - 1/2 a cloved (minced or finely grated)
Olive oil - 1 tsp
Vinegar - 1/2 tsp
Sugar - a pinch
Salt to taste (since feta cheese is salty, please account for that when you measure the salt)

Beat all the ingredients together to blend the dressing well. I usually add some freshly cracked black pepper to this.

Now just put together all the ingredients and the dressing and toss well....the salad is fresh and crunchy, and the feta is just perfect with the dressing...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Chicken stew for the Side Dish Showdown

Side Dish Showdown Blogger Event

The chicken stew I usually make is made with with coconut milk, in a pressure cooker.. this is something new for me...a combination of many stews shown on cookery channels, obviously, with my own take on them..

I am entering this one for Reeni's Side Dish Showdown on her blog Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice . Check the link to get more information on this event.

One rule that Reeni had stipulated, was to think outside the box, and I think that this one really fits that bill... maybe it is not very new in some parts of the world, but to me, the flavours were really new and I am absolutely sure that I will make this a lot more times.

Chicken - 300 gms (about 4 pieces of Boneless chicken thigh)
Please note that I just used the boneless pieces as I had them at hand... you can use the usual pieces with bone.

Chicken stock - 2 cups (or more if you want more gravy)

Celery stalks - 3 nos
Onions - 3 large ones
Garlic - 6 cloves
Mince or finely chop the celery, Onion and garlic

Carrots - 2 (peeled and cut into cubes)
Potato - 2 (peeled and cubed)
Tomatoes - 3 to 4 large one (chopped -you may add canned tomatoes)
You may add any vegetables that you like.
Olive oil - 1 tbsp
Masoor dal - 1 tbsp (Orange/yellow lentils)
Black pepper - 1 tsp (cracked)
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp (it is a practice in Indian cuisine to use turmeric whenever we cook meat. So if you do not want it, please omit.)
Red chilly powder - 1 tsp (use sweet paprika if you do not want the heat)
Worcestershire sauce - 2 tsp
Garam masala - 2 tsp (all-spice or any curry powder maybe used)
Vinegar - 1 tbsp
Sugar - a big pinch
Salt to taste

In the olive oil, lightly brown the chicken pieces. Take and keep aside.

Now brown the minced onion, celery and garlic till the oil comes on top. Add the turmeric and chilly powders.
Add the masoor dal and half the chicken stock.

Once the dal becomes soft, add the vegetables, the rest of the stock, chicken, Worcestershire sauce, cracked pepper, garam masala powder, vinegar, sugar and the salt to taste.

Bring the whole thing to a boil, and turn the flame to low, and leave it for about 20 to 40minutes. It depends on how soft or crunchy you like the meat and vegetables...

Garnish with some spring onions or chopped tender celery leaves .

Superb side dish for basmati rice, bread, Aapam, or Parathas... We had both rice and parathas and relished every mouthful .
To add more depth, add some wine to the stew.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Dal and Rava upma (yellow lentils and semolina)

Yesterday was Mahashivrathri and I took the orikkal, complete with keeping awake the whole night. So I was awake till 6:00 AM. In that spirit, I was actually going to post a recipe for 'Sabudana Khichdi', the only food I had for more than 24 hours. But I just googled it and saw more than enough recipes of the same.

So instead, I am posting yet another experiment of mine this past week. Instead of making just the normal rava upma, I decided to add some dal to it. It was quite a tasty combination, and with a pappad, it is a full meal.

Oil - 1 tsp
Mustad seeds - 1 tsp
Jeera/ cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Yellow lentils /dal - 1/2 cup (I used a mix of masoor and thur dal)
Onion - 1 large (chopped fine)
Ginger piece - 1 inch (grated or cut very fine)
Turmeric powder - a pinch
Red chilly powder - a pinch
Green chillies - 2 (cut fine)
Rava/ semolina - 1 and 1/2 cups
Water - 3 cups (more or less)
Salt - to taste

Heat oil, splutter mustard seeds, add the jeera, then add the onion, ginger, and green chillies.

Once the onion is yellowish brown, add the turmeric and red chilli powders and fry well. Now add the 3 cups of water, add the dal and cook well. I did not use the pressure cooker for this at all. If mixing the dals, they have a slightly different cooking points. Once the dal comes to a boil, keep the flame to medium, put a lid and cook for about 15 minutes for the dals to cook.

Once the dal is cooked to your satisfaction, add the salt and then then the semolina. Mix well, keep the flame on low and cook for 5 mintes. Add a few drops of lemon juice and some ghee for added taste.

For extra colour, you can add a freshly grated carrot, cooked green peas and a bunch of coriander leaves (cut fine).

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Brinjal Pickle

This was my first attempt at a pickling, other than Inji curry.

I haven't followed any traditional way of pickling, this is strictly my own experiment and I am happy with the results.

I used the green long brinjals for this.... have no idea how the purple ones will be..but I think carrots and dates will also be great if pickled this way.

Green brinjals - 500 gms (3 )(cut round into 1 and 1/2 inch pieces, then sliced thin)

Mix with two pinches of salt and keep for 5 to 10 minutes to draw out the bitter taste .

Mustard seeds - 1 tbsp
Uluva/methi/fenugreek seeds - a pinch
Ginger - a 1 inch piece (sliced thin)
Sugar - 1 tbsp (or more if you want it sweeter)
Vinegar - 1 cup
Oil - 2 tbsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Paprika /kashmir chilli powder - 2 tsp
Salt to taste

Remove the brinjal pieces from the liquid that comes out and pat the pieces dry with a towel.

Heat the oil, add the mustard seeds, and when they split, add the fenugreek seeds. Add the brinjal and ginger and saute well. Now add the sugar and saute till the sugar melts and coats the brinjal well. Mix the chilli powder and turmeric powders in approximately 1 tbsp of vinegar to make a smooth paste and add that to the brinjals. cook till the raw smell is gone and oil comes on top. Now add the rest of the vinegar and salt and take off the stove.

Store in clean glass jars once it is cool. I have no idea about the shelf life. So I kept the bottle in the fridge.

It is great with curd rice and gets over very soon...

Monday, February 8, 2010

Surajkund Mela (fair)

This weekend we went to the annual Mela in Surajkund. We were supposed to go last year, but our plans had to be cancelled.. so this year we were quite determined to go.. It was a two hour drive from our home..

It was very sunny, so we came away fast.. there were a lot of nice things being sold. There were stalls from Egypt, Thailand, Thajikistan etc , but there were so many people surrounding those stalls, that we could not even get a peek in.. !!!

A lot of VIPs like Shahnaz Hussain had come, and there were an abundance of foreign nationals...The atmosphere was festive and colourful with lots of performances like puppet shows, folk dances etc.., and lots of yummy food from different states.......

Am sharing a few snaps here

Blue Pottery from jaipur

High wire act ..!!!
Puppet show - my daughter's favourite

Irresistible Pottery - works of art

Loved the colours

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Warli painting - acrylic on paper

Warli art is said to have originated in Thane - Maharashtra, of India a couple of centuries ago. It is said that the villagers, especially the women folk used this type of art to decorate the walls of their houses . Most homes had thatched roofs and mud walls. So Warli paintings originally had a mud brown background, and they used to paint with a mixture of rice paste and water.

It is a very interesting form of art and can be completed in very little time. Also, even people who cannot draw very well can do this . I did this painting today, in about 50 minutes...!!!

It is a great way of depicting day to day events, festivals , marriages or other occasions...

There is no need for symmetry and the figures are very easy to draw.. with a few bent limbs, it is so easy to denote movement ....

Try it out and have a great time

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Fish and chips

Whenever we went to our parents during vacations, our dad used to take us to his company club and this was one of my favorite items on their menu. When hit with a fierce bout of nostalgia, I just had to have this . I had no idea about the original recipe, so I winged it and I am sure I will definitely make this again....

This is not the traditional fish and chips recipe.

Fish Fillets - 500 gms (I used King/Surmai fish)
Ginger garlic paste - 1/2 tsp
Lemon juice - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt - to taste

Few drops of oil

Marinate the fish in all the ingredients and keep for atleast 20 minutes. Dust the pieces with 1 tsp of plain flour/ corn flour just a minute before frying.

Shallow fry the fish. Since the fish was very very fresh, I did not overpower it with too much seasoning.

I also blanched some broccoli and peas, sauteed in butter and made french fries. A few slices of tomatoes.

I also made a dip

Mix mayonnaise and curd in the ratio 1:2. A pinch of salt, a spring onion finely diced and a few drops of tomato ketchup.

Toast some bread and voila...a very nice dinner is ready!!!!