Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Coriander/ Cilantro/ Kothimeera chutney

The festival season has started in India but i am not yet in the mood for festive dishes. I want to try new dishes, alright. But i find that i have bookmarked too many recently and can't decide which ones to try first. Or maybe its just that i am still gloating over the success of my last venture. The peanut butter cookies became such a hit, more so than the chocolate chip cookies, that i am still jumping in joy every time i remember it. How could something so simple please so many people so much? My neighbours and their little girl liked it, my father-in-law who usually doesn't like anything crunchy liked them so much that there weren't any left for my mother-in-law to taste. And last Sunday my cousin and her friends kept eating one after another when they only started out with a small piece for taste test so they could politely tell me they liked it. I can't remember being happier about cooking/baking anything else, the only exception is probably this cake . So now i am eager to make something that beats those cookies. Suggestions anyone? Nothing too difficult though, OK?
Meanwhile, because i still have to feed myself and the guy i live with, i can't really stop cooking until i find that next big thing.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Starfruits and Pink Guavas and South Indian Temples

On Janmashtami (also called Krishna Jayanthi or Krishnashtami) which was last Monday this year according to the lunar calendar, me, the husband and his parents went to a visit the temples at a nearby place called Chilkur. One is a temple of multiple Hindu Gods and is called the Swami Narayan Temple. This Hindu temple is present in many countries abroad too and the largest Swami Narayan temple abroad is in London. I went to the London temple and it is exquisite with beautifully carved interiors and statues of Gods and Goddesses, and so peaceful. You should definitely visit if you have the chance.
Swami Narayan Temple at Chilkur
The Vedic school (Gurukul) adjoining Swami Narayan Temple

Friday, 26 August 2011

Eggless Peanut Butter Cookies

There's a little girl who lives across the street from us and we can see each other when i come out into our balcony and she comes to their kitchen balcony. And every time she sees me, she gives me a cute smile and an excited wave while shouting 'tataaa'. Their family moved into the apartment opposite our house about a year ago, when the kid was about 6 months old and she grew up before my eyes. She now shows off her bangles and her dress and any other accessories pointing at herself and then pointing at me to make me look. Her mother tells me how much the kid loves bangles and wears them for the whole length of the arm if allowed.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Chicken Burger with minced chicken

I have been a lover of junk food, for as long as I can remember. When instant noodles first came into the market, I had to pester my parents to buy me some. I loved the street side samosas and mirchi bajji in my hometown so much that when I came home from my college hostel during my engineering days, dad would oblige me by bringing these street snacks on his way home from office. And on such days, I would be allowed to have my fill of such deep fried ‘nothing good for you in it’ junk food to the extent of skipping home-made dinner. I haven’t changed.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Capsicum Fry/ Bell pepper curry

Of late i find my mother and mother-in-law both experimenting with foods, trying out new combinations of vegetables for curries, that is almost surreal. They have no access to the Internet and my mother is a working woman who rarely watches TV (she most definitely believes it is the idiot box). And i find them dishing out delicious curries with never-heard-before combinations, and i am the one reading through dozens of food blogs. I was talking to my mother during the week and after some usual chit chat, she generally asks me what i made for lunch and if i have nothing to blabber about, i ask her the same. And she shocked me with a curry she made with chukka kura (sorry, but couldn't find the English name for this. It is a sour leafy vegetable and usually cooked with lentils similar to spinach) and sorakaya (bottle gourd). Has anyone ever heard of this combination before? I know I never did. 

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Indian Chicken curry

When I call this Indian chicken curry, i mean it as opposed to Caribbean or African or Thai etc, because we now know that there is curry in so many different parts of the world. I refrain from giving a region specific name within India, like calling it Andhra Chicken curry, because i am not cooking this from any recipe and would be reluctant to pass it off as an authentic local item just because i hail from there. This rather is the curry i spoke about here, the one i learnt from my husband and the only variety of chicken curry he seems to prefer.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Varalakshmi Vratam - Ulli Garelu/ Vada

In continuation with my previous post, this one is to share with you my recipe for vada. These are called garelu, minapa garelu or ulli garelu in Andhra Pradesh. It is a mandatory offering to the Goddess Lakshmi for Varalakshmi vratam and after the worship (puja) is over it is also offered to another married woman assumed to be the Goddess.
Other than as an offering to Gods, it is also kind of a royal breakfast item. If you visit an Andhra household and you are served Garelu for breakfast, it means that you are being treated as King or even God. When the bride-groom first (and every subsequent time) visits his in-laws' house, he will be served Garelu along with lots of other foods of course. Garelu are a favourite in my family, both before and after marriage and i seemed to be the exception. It was only after i started making them myself that i started to appreciate the taste, texture and richness of this fritter type snack. Now i look forward to making them, for more opportunities to serve to my husband and in-laws, and to eat them too :)

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Varalakshmi Vratam - Semiya Payasam, Pulagam

Varalakshmi vratam is considered an auspicious day for married Hindu women. It is observed on the second Friday in the month of Sravan of the Hindu calendar and Goddess Lakshmi (the Goddess of wealth and prosperity) is worshipped on this day. The details on how this festival is celebrated is written very well here, so i won't re-write the whole thing again. I would only like to share with you how i have celebrated it in my home with my mother-in-law, what we cooked and recipes for some of those. It is considered auspicious to offer the Goddess five varieties of cooked delicacies and five varieties of fruits. We made Purnalu (Boorelu), Payasam, Garelu (Vada), Pulihora (Lemon Rice) and Pulagam. And the fruits were bananas, apples, grapes, pomegranates and sweet lime.
My mother-in-law made Purnalu as i am yet to learn the process for it and i cooked the remaining four items. The recipe for lemon rice, i have already posted here. Only this time, there were lots of cashews in it. In this post i will tell you how i made payasam and pulagam. And you need to wait till my next post for the recipe for Garelu.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Mushroom Manchurian - Wet and Dry - step by step

On the last day of our recent holiday, an hour before boarding the train, we went to a nearby restaurant to have some snacks and to get dinner packed for the overnight journey. Having had our fill of dosas and puris over the previous three days, we ordered a plate of Mushroom Manchurian which was listed under 'Chinese snacks'. Indianised version of Chinese food is huge in almost all parts of India. From small mobile street stalls to fancy restaurants, there are many who serve "Chinese" food in India. But if you have ever been to China, you would know that it is something completely different. No is the answer, if you are asking me if i have ever been to China. But i talked to a good friend who did go, who was there for a few months for an IT project. And heard him complain about how there was nothing to eat in China. He never expected a problem when going there because he was eating "Chinese" in Kolkata (or you may know it as Calcutta) all the time. Eventually, he did adapt quite well and bragged about being able to eat peanuts with chopsticks. Apparently that's not the easiest thing to do.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Tandoori spiced chicken legs

My go-to chocolate cake is in the oven as i begin to write this. I needed to do some baking so i could coax myself back to cooking. Back from the short holiday, i have become a reluctant cook. Suddenly i want to be served hot food without having to cook it. Not that i had to start cooking as soon as we came back. I wasn't even asked to cook the day we returned. We went out for lunch and the husband generously bought me my favourite biryani even though it wasn't his favourite. Or maybe it was (t)his pampering that turned me into the reluctant cook. To see how much more pampering i could get away with! Didn't have to wait long to find out. I had to cook lunch yesterday and today but we have plans for Sunday. (We finally booked our tickets to watch the Harry Potter finale in 3D on the largest screen in Hyderabad. I can't wait!) So to get me through the rest of today and tomorrow, i am baking. Somehow baking has always felt like fun. Unlike cooking that can sometimes be a chore, especially when cooking the same curries for lunch repeatedly week after week. And it is not the repetition that i am complaining about, because i can bake the same chocolate cake every week and not get tired of it. Any thoughts on why that is?
I was digressing. Anyway, about the whole reluctant cook thing, last night the husband surprisingly understood my predicament and said he would cook the tandoori chicken legs by himself for dinner, the chef didn't even want a helper. And i think for the first time in two years, i accepted the leave granted and sat in the living room watching the new season of Masterchef Australia.
Since i didn't go into the kitchen, i don't have clicks of the husband's masterpiece from last night, though he repeatedly told me what delicious juicy chicken he had prepared. The pictures you see here are from a few weeks ago. And i was so hungry at that time, i could not bring myself to get an extra clean plate for the final pic. Excuse the laziness, please.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Simple Upma with Semolina/ Rava

We have been away on a short trip early this week. To visit the Lord Venkateswara at Tirumala, Tirupati. The richest God in India for many decades until quite recently when the secret treasure of Lord Padmanabhaswamy was unearthed. The train trip to another city meant no cooking for three whole days and eating lots of the South Indian breakfast items not just for breakfast but for lunch and dinner too. I love south Indian breakfast items. As much as i love rice, i can go without it for days if you feed me poori, dosa, upma, idly and variations of them and not necessarily in that order. You would think three days of eating them would be enough for anybody. Oh no, not me. It left me longing for more. So much that i woke up this morning with a craving for a hot breakfast. And served in bed, preferably. OK, who am i kidding. That's not going to happen anytime soon.