Friday, September 6, 2013

One for the failures


I know I have shut down myself once again from writing and I cringe at that thought almost everyday I see my blogger button on the menu bar. 7 long months have gone without me penning down my food thoughts in this wonderful space of mine. I went through a lot of ups and downs in my personal front and a 'deeper' down in the food life. After the "kalyana sapadu" my cooking skills have been impaired. After bragging for months about how good I am at the kitchen repeated failures stuck me at the wrong end of life.

The brownie that I used to make often suddenly became the worst challenge ever, a simple kuruma became a vegetable slush, after so much Chinese cooking for years the black soy chicken looked nothing like the 'Chilli chicken' I posted before. I have never felt ashamed about anything but that piece of solid sand bars I called spring rolls, I unfortunately served it to someone too. How can I ever forget the burnt stuffed buns?? I have always been a safe person in the kitchen and the past 2 months saw continues bruises and burns on both my hands. Sigh!!

Ahh!! my bad I think. It sucks to know that the simplest things in life looks extremely complicated and complex. I am not a dot to dot recipe following person but still I used to get good results but suddenly things looked bad and I had to stop.

But I can never explain why some one will want to visit my page. I never check the number of visits or tell anyone about my blogging traits. Facebook has no idea about my blog so does most of  my friends and family. I keep hiding and I have no idea why I should. probably because I am this 'private' person I believe I am. But still I got some page visits, people even commented and I felt real guilty. I felt sorry for this space which needs more love and affection from me.

After so much thought I some how made myself sit down and click the 'new post' button just to stay afloat on the blogging world.

Veena's Acchu

I know I talked about the bad things but very few good things happened too. One good thing I will call : Veena, a typical mallu mother who adores her husband just the same way as I do. We clicked the third day  on a four day trip to Holland and still keeps clicking every day on Skype or in person. This was the time I had finally made myself accept the fact that Geneva was no place to find friends. That is the reason why I took 3 days to accept this women and then there is no turning back.

She by far has no interests what so ever in cooking but that never stopped us from bonding. Even though I talk about my cooking skills, I failed to impress her with the food. The spring rolls happened with her and I stopped talking about food since then. The only thing that we both talk about will be our children. She has a 3 year old and mine is 2 now, the kids like each other so much and that itself aided the friendship. Veena has a lot of friends here in Geneva and I was really not surprised to find that. Since then I have made quiet a good lot of friends who are wonderful and make me happy all the time.

Venna and I often share food these days and I really fell in love with her mother's prawn chutney podi and pulli pickle. I am going to steal the recipe for sure, they sure are generation passing recipes. I might post the pictures if I ever make them :)

Repeat failures means going back to the basic right? Oh ya I have been making a lot of typical south Indian food for a while and it is BORING. But I have no choice and here comes Veena with her idiyappam machine so that I can make myself fall in love with the south Indian noodle again.

 Coming back to the basic means a lot to me, mentally I am preparing to move on and find peace with what ever happened. Somewhere in the near future a prim and proper pie is going to pop up in this blog, if luck permits.

Thin Idiyappams

Idiyappam or string hoppers is one of my favorite breakfast dishes. The only problem here is the acchu or machine we use to press the hoppers. My mum makes thick iddiyapams which I hate so much. I adore the thin iddiyams which is a sight to see at Saravana Bhavan. I always thought it was impossible to find a acchu that will make thin iddiyapams back then. After marriage I never thought of it since we were living under the idly roof and Saravana Bhavan was 1 km away from our house.

After the Geneva moving it was oven, baking, adventure blah blah and never iddiyapam. When Venna told me about hers I was tempted because we no longer live under idly roof and the nearest Saravana Bhavan is 3 hours away in Paris. She gladly lent me her machine which gave super results and tasted yum with the kuruma (my amma's recipe) that somehow made a good appearance after a long time.

Almost a year later mama and I felt home with the iddiyappams. It made our day. Our little two year old is a fussy eater now. She is not in when such magic happens at home and wont give a try. There will always be a  next time with her. She will definitely like it if she eats it.

For me it is more like a ray of hope that will show me the way to continue falling in love with cooking and experimenting. Thank you to all those people who had the heart to read my "stuff" and comment.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

The kalyana sapadu ( wedding food )

I am a wedding person and I am definitely not the crying person. I don't cry at weddings, I did not cry at mine, not a single drop. I was one of the HAPPIEST brides ever!!. The fact that two people are committing themselves for a life long journey makes it the best thing. But the 'romantic' person in me will suggest falling in love be the first best thing, it is always the most craziest thing, ever. 

Lets go to this wedding thingy, mine was a typical south Indian ARRANGED marriage and with not so many rituals to bother about. It sucks for me :(. I love traditions and customs and rituals in a wedding, they make the wedding for me. When some one is getting married, either friend and family I never go to the receptions but the wedding which is the most glorious thing to watch. I love getting dressed up too, that's mainly cuz I am a little girly :p. In India weddings are celebrated the way they should. Every region has its own way of celebrating the union and how I wish to witness all of those different weddings to just have the kick of it. I have been begging mama to marry me again, christian style gown and all. He wont will he??

I suck at photography !!

Leaving the wishes apart the best thing about any wedding will be the FOOOOD, I have added two more'o's to specify its importance and presence. The whole of Tamil Nadu will have the same menu for the wedding I guess, its been the same all the time. Kerala weddings too have the almost same except for the number of payasams and few sides. I remember eating six varieties of payasam for Kannan chittapa's wedding.

I even remember so many of my friends wanting to book the same food cater (who catered for my wedding) for their weddings too, it was THAT good:) Even though the reception food was grand the wedding day food is the most precious one to me. This is because mama and I were eating together for the first time as a MARRIED couple and we had this small custom which is the highlight of all. The bride should serve the groom food, you know it is like getting the right to serve him food for life long. Believe me I took it very seriously. Till date I don't let mama serve food for him( unless and until I am away or we are on a fight), I get so angry that he CALLs me to do it for him :).

It has been a long time since I went for a wedding and ate the wedding food. I keep telling mama to find out if any one of his friends at work are getting married. Looks like most of them have got married and the one's who might get married are not close enough to invite.

Reliving memories are not very easily done but we somehow pulled it this year. Since 2009, the 13th of every December has become the most unforgettable day of our lives. The day the knot was tied, three times. The day my name, my address and my life changed forever. I cannot describe with words what I felt that day  even now, after 3 years.

But I can describe what happened the next 13th, the wonderful 1st anniversary. Mama took me to see the Taj Mahal, isn't that wonderful?? But the funniest thing is that we fought all the way. We stayed at Pat anna and Pavi mami's place in Delhi and drove in their car to Agra. I don't remember how the fight started but it lasted for two full days, even in front of the Taj Mahal, so embarrassing I know. The other two had no idea how to settle it between us, poor them. I don't remember anything else other than us arguing in the flight back home the following night. Oh it is a nightmare and I really wish to go back to the Taj and come out with good memories.

The next anniversary was supposed to be nice. We were all packed to travel to Geneva. Mama would come on the 10th celebrate the 13th and take us by 15th. How simple was that?. I guessed wrong again. Mama came home with some kind of a food allergy and he looked like he was bit by insects all over his body. He was red and bloated and I was SHIT scared. I remember running to the hospital the next thing he landed and it continued for a week that followed. In between all this mama was WORKING day and night. I felt so much let down and sad that whole week. Poor poor mama, he lived on steroids. I really did not imagine me setting foot in Geneva, ever. The nightmare had another face now. It was a miracle that we some how made it here and the memory of mama all blown up will be the joke of the day. On the day of our anniversary I wore my wedding silk saree to just feel what I felt as a bride two years back. It was the moment for the day for me.

This year when the date neared mama asked me what I wanted. I asked him for a proper candle light dinner in one of the 'fancy' restaurants right away. It has really been two years since we went out for a proper dinner, just the two of us and I really miss the first year sometimes. There is no use blaming the baby and she has always been good to us. The only question mama asked was "What about Babbi?" I said "She will sleep". Even though we have moved forward in so many things we were still not comfortable with a babysitter. I was actually planning to cut her afternoon nap so that so will go to sleep in the evening and wake up to have dinner then play and sleep. And she will sleep all through the dinner and wake up while coming home. We had to keep our fingers crossed right from the start. As a thumb rule mama did not tell me where he was going to take us.

We planned nothing else as it was a working day and mama had to go to the office. But I promised myself that I will bring back some memories for us by cooking the whole wedding meal within three hours. I planned for a week of what the menu should be. Since all of them are typical south Indian dishes I had to walk up and down to the Sri Lankan store in minus degrees. God was seriously trying to help me cuz it is impossible to find banana leaf in Geneva out of all places and I found a perfect banana leaf (from Thailand)  that will bring back so many fine memories.

Having planned for an elaborate meal I needed so much support from the baby. If it is one of her cranky days I am done for good and if she hits or bangs herself  then I wont even have a simple lunch on the table. It is like usual in my family to cook ten items for important days and so they felt nothing cool about my idea. My GM still cooks all the ten for her anniversary so I cannot brag about it to her. Since she is my recipe support calls from Geneva flew to India very often that week. When I finalized the menu it looked long and surprisingly appetizing for mama when read from his shoes.

The list goes on with

Shallot and green chili pachadi
Okra curd kichadi
Cabbage thoran
Urad dal vada
Parupu Payasam

not bad right? It is really not hard to cook all these. The only thing is pre planning the vegetables : cut and stored in the fridge the day before.

The day started with mama and I exchanging our gifts right after midnight when Babbi was all asleep. This is important because it is impossible to admire anything with a cranky\ sleepy baby no matter what. The break fast was white chocolate sauce with croissant  a real french breakfast. Mama had to zoom to office, he promised to stay a little more during lunch since he knew I was into something. 

Then started the madness of running, I had to cook all these in three hours. I somehow cooked everything except the urad dal vada since I wanted it to be pipping hot while serving. The only item that caused problem was the payasam, it tasted good but sat on the plate like jam rather than its usual liquid state.

After washing and wiping the banana leaf clean I pinged mama to come home and he replied a OK.My heart was beating so fast since I had no idea how he will react. I really felt happy because it was the first time that I had cooked like a maniac and made so many dishes in such a short time. 

Mama had no words, first he was surprised and next completely moved. He was so proud of me and I was so proud of my little baby who had actually given her gift in her own way by being good and allowing me to cook.

So it happened the lunch that was so complete and enchanting. we were full of memories of the day that went by 3 years ago. The best part was when I ate from the same leaf that mama ate. It is another part of tradition which I find very romantic. Mama was not very happy about my choice but I was too happy to bother. We do share our plates mostly since I am too lazy to wash another plate :P but the leaf was going to the trash.

As for the dinner, it was FANCY: much more that what I asked for. If you are dining at Kempinski, then you will know the real meaning of FANCY. Thank you so much Mama. I had no idea why my baby was being so wonderful that day, she slept the whole dinner time and the moment she got up we RAN like hell!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Traditionally mama's :)

According to me food has no boundaries and I never shy away to try new things even when most of the times I fail with the choice. Food has this universal language of love that I understand and love it back the same way. But when I married a person who strictly believes anything outside his comfort zone is not food, I was in TROUBLE. I have miserably failed in making him change his food attitude and I sulk about his taste buds that are deaf to my pleadings. Even though he feels bad for me he has never asked me to make anything other than rice and kolambu all these 3 years. SIGH!!

Theeyal and Carrot thoran

The only food that will make mama show all his teeth and smile like he has won the bumper will be the traditional Nagercoil cuisine. Even though he was brought up in Chennai he can never stop singing praise of the place and its food culture. It was one of the reasons why he wanted an arranged marriage. Same food same habits and same same stuff. He is boring and DULL you see. Unfortunately I am a big time REBEL when it comes to such things. I have always been a 'Chennai' person and that is my identity no matter where I go. I was brought up in an entirely different fashion and indo Chinese is a weekly affair for us. Amma knew to make biscuits, cakes, jams and tomato ketchup. It was no fancy to have cutlets at home and paneer butter masala was made anytime and any day. This is my mother we are talking about, a generation that has passed. How experimental should I be?? 

 I love Chennai food so much, I love 'Chennai sambar' if that is what is bothering you. Amma does not know how to make it and I still haven't got the recipe from my friend who forgets it the first thing. So I try to make a new sambar from every blog possible to identify the lost taste, mama will eat it cuz it is SAMBAR so no issues. 

Kara kolambu

For at least a year I cooked traditional food everyday (cuz he wont eat anything else) and if I really felt sorry for me I would make subji with roti (only for me) in the evenings. I really wanted to escape the trap of being done with the same old stuff again and again. Mama is someone who can consume rice for all the three meals in a day and he SUCKS big time. I basically hate rice and imagine the fights we would have based on the food we eat. His phobia for vegetables adds fuel to the duel that even happens now. He complains about every damn vegetable and recently it is the mushroom that gets hit hard. I am so afraid that Babbi will follow his footsteps and that creeps me more. She already throws tantrums if I make beetroot rice for her :( just like mama. SOB. 

Now that we have moved out for good he is compelled to eat 'STUFF' that was never on his list, not even in his dreams. The (read: his) list is not so big and thank heavens for that. But I am expected to cook these every day, there you go the killing part. If i press a little harder and buy things regularly i can bring back the one year for him but that will kill the foodie inside me. I really don't hate them as i suggest all the time, its just too boring to live a life out of rice.To just see a wide smile on his face I cook the following and make sure my soul lives (joyfully) too. Amen.   

Okra gravy with beans thoran
The first and foremost in the list will be SAMBAR .  I knew this even before we were married. All he would say is " I can eat sambar every day (every damn day!)" .  I should have picked the clue and ran for my life but I  said the vows. Maybe I thought he was joking, now I am the joke here. I think I will write a separate post for his sambar love and dedicate it to him. It is the compulsory Friday food or else the WORLD will END!!

Moving on, I already specified it is Nagercoil cooking that makes mama's heart sing so this post is full of all the Nagercoil stuff that I make for him. I really don't have the complete list of them, only those he likes and the ones I know to make and the ones I remembered to take pictures of :)

I learnt one recipe at a time from my maternal GM who is a rock star when it comes to such food. But she is from Trivandrum, Kerala, so there will be a lot of influence from the Kerala side too. I was loaded with the family masalas from amma and GM so it was not a problem to make any of the dishes in question.

The basic ingredient is the COCONUT which my mother never used so often. Hence I am really not a coconut lover and I can live without eating it forever but mama CANNOT. HE loves coconut even in biscuits so I brought coconut for him. Two big coconuts for one fortnight, I would break them and scrape them for two whole hours and freeze them. This is really a back breaking process but I had no choice. Plus I can never do stuff quickly. An entire evening will vanish in front of my eyes. Now we get ready made scrapes for one franc here and I am glad, I cant spend time scraping when Babbi is around changing the temperature of the stove. OH!! she scares me sometimes.

Price-y shallots

Next ingredient will be the shallots or small onion or sambar onions which is like impossible to get here. Only when there is a real need to impress mama I go out looking for them. They are very expensive and I have found a better substitute here, the big red onions which are again rare but not rare as the shallots.

The first kolambu will be the THEEYAL both white and black, mama is not much fond of the white so I only make the black version. The only difference here will be the coconut that is roasted hard to look dark brown. Of-course the color is enhanced by the coriander powder and chilli powder along with shallots. I use my imagination to make this kolambu a bit more fancy like adding curry leaves or vadagam to the coconut. Mama likes three vegetables in his theeyal: the drumstick, pumpkin and yam. So when ever we see drumstick in the Indian shop we go for the grabs. Pumpkin surprisingly is available in more than five versions here and I get to try them all. The best side dish will be carrot thoran and egg omelette (onion and green chillies).  I have a knack for cooking matching matching food and I never change the order.

Pullicurry with cauliflower fry

The second most alluring food will be the PULLICURRY. It took me almost two years to make a perfect pullicurry that passed mama's taste buds. I used to add pepper to make things worse and now I don't  That alone was the major difference maker. Again mama likes this with drumstick and raw banana which we don't get here. He says drumstick leaves add so much taste to pullicurry and I am yet to try it. I love my pulicurry with okra and it is the best. The best side dish will be cabbage thoran or cauliflower karaporiyal and egg omelette.

The third on list will be the OKRA COCONUT KOLAMBU which again happens rarely but I really love to cook this dish. This is one of my GM's special. Amma used to make this often too cuz i love Okra so much that i miss it like hell here. I am game to walk to the Indian shop almost every weekend to just buy 250 grams (expensive) of those little angels. The first thing i will make on Monday will be a stir fry with these okra and eat them right away giving mama a very meager share. My veg phobic husband does not care at all. That is the reason why i don't make this kolambu very often, i just cant wait. This is mostly a mid week kolambu and goes real well with beans poriyal or thoran.

More kolambu with cabbage poriyal

The KARA KOLAMBU is one dish that is really not a part of 'traditional' cooking but still mama loves it. I don't make it very often cuz it involves roasting and dry grinding and blah blah. How I wish I had got my GM's kara kolambu a.k.a maya kolambu mix :(.  But the smell of it is what gives me the kick to eat it . It just fills the house with its presence and that is why mama too likes it. It is not that hot as the name suggests and it goes well with chips and beetroot thoran ;) that is how I like it.

The MORE KOLAMBU is the finest of all. I love the taste and smell of it. I make it almost every week and it never pisses me, ever. We just love it with any kara poriyal. There you go a win win situation. Even though we love okra morekolambu the most, zucchini morekolambu is our next favorite especially after coming to Geneva. It tastes too good with zucchini and I don't have to worry about finding some in Migros or Coop.

Oh! it is the Pumpkin 

The PUMPKIN KICHADI loves mama so much that no matter how hard I try to make it taste bad it tastes good. Even though it is not my favorite kichadi or pachadi( I still have doubts about it) I make it very often. One major reason is that pumpkin is good for health and mama finally has a vegetable to love. This goes well with any karakolambu and even rasam but I stick to curd rice( loads of curd, thick and white and I don't even have to make it now!!).  May be that is the reason why I gained weight psst I was blaming the lasagna and cheese. 

No taste difference: pumpkin kichadi
Finally there is one thing that is the real "saviour" during tough times. When mama carves for rice during non rice days he simply makes some RASAM and rice all by himself just to show me his ability to COOK. I HATE his rasam mainly cuz he adds ketchup to it. *GROSS* I know, but I cant tell him that. He thinks it the next best invention on this planet. I just let him have his moment of false glory and thank heavens for what I had cooked earlier. The rasam I make is a typical traditional rasam, my GM's rasam podi will never fail to impress any one and mama loves it. If chicken fry is on the making then rasam it is that we go for. This particular dish has no coconut or shallots in it. I love rasam too, especially amma's beetroot rasam :p !!

There are so many other stuff like the eriseri, olan, aviyal, kootu, kichadis and pachadis which are hard core traditional. The list is too big. Fortunately the mama guy seems to not have any love for those things except the above said. He has so many specifications on how I must cook these, I let them pass through the other ear when I am given instructions. They look very harmless I know but the problem here is that he wants to eat them again and again and AGAIN :(

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

IDLY post :)

Our very own idly needs a post in my blog, it is a shame for a true Tamil wife/mother to not have one. I HATE idly so much that I hesitated, come on I need to make some, click pictures and WRITE about it. Not a good start I know but that is the truth. It is probably inherited you see, my dad hates it more than me. My mom still complains about how my father runs away to catch the first bus to office if he knew idly was on the making. My father would at least find bliss in the saravana bhavan outside his office. But my brother, poor little Bala will even stay starved for the whole day rather than touch those white mud pies. Both the men complain about how lucky I am to have escaped the idly clutches. See, I told you. What do you expect me to do now??

This is how mama eats
MAMA loves idly must be my line considering our jodi porutham (match). I even thought he did for at-least the first 2 years of our marriage :O. He would find solace with idly almost every morning(big story), it was that creepy. But there was a day when he confessed about his idly love, he carved for Dosa and not idly. Good god, 'I am saved' I thought, even I love dosa so much. HUGS to DOSA :).

It all started since I was so small that I don't remember , ya baby kinda small. Since then I have no liking for idli says amma. So I grew up without any change to the liking part. When I got married and moved in with mama amma gifted me a table top grinder hoping that in some light years I will start making idli batter. You see idly is staple to every Tamil family, almost a regular breakfast on the table so it is mandatory to have a wet grinder, of-course I did not touch it, it was safe in the loft cuz I needed space for my big microwave. We still ate idly almost everyday though. It was a regular for me to travel all the way from velachery to mogappair in D70 A\C bus to get a big dabba full of amma made idly batter. It actually worked for us, mama wanted a good breakfast and idly would give him that feel. I had to JUST make the chutney, ya the most troubling part. I guess I still have not made a chutney that passes mama's test. As for the wet grinder it stays unopened in amma's store room, dear dear.

Later when mama moved to Geneva he carried our preeti mixer all the way with high hopes of making idly batter with it. Poor soul ended up making a batter that smelled too bad he had to throw it away. I was so happy when he told me that, I did not have to make idly and mama will have to find solace with corn flakes and brown bread. Mama always thought eating corn flakes for breakfast is a SIN.

This is how I eat
When I came to Geneva I found out that he used split urad dal for making idly, such an innocent/ignorant mama. He also has no idea how grinding using the mixer will affect the texture, taste and color of the idly, did I leave the smell in my list??. It was my grand mother who helped me with the color part. She told me that the grinding process MUST NOT heat the batter, which mixer does. This will result in pale yellow color and sometimes with a batter that will stink. She suggested me ICE CUBES rather than water, and she is more than brilliant. It works fine till date.

 In order to show off I brought some PROPER urad dal from the Srilankan store and showed him the difference. I had to make idly to show mama the white batter that did not smell  I will never tell him my ice cube secret and I hope (he is damn busy) he wont read this post. Now that we have white white batter (that did not raise properly)  rock hard white idly's are all that I made. I gave up the idly(dosa) idea forever so did mama, so much disappointment you see. Making urad dal vada is much more easier and mama will never say no. But I was craving for some dosa all the time. I made adai, moong dal dosa and rava dosa to comfort me but nothing can beat the REAL dosa, can it?.

Forever never happens to idly I guess. It all started again when one of our Indian friend Raj shifted to India forever. He gave us so many of his cooking masalas that triggered mama's failed experiments (the biriyani & fish fry. lol). Along with those came this lovely blue packet, 1 Kg udhayam urad dal. Oh my god, I felt so happy to see a perfect HOME (Tamil Nadu) BRAND food product. It was nostalgic. I wanted to make idly  again because it is commonly considered to be the best food for toddlers and I have one walking here and there. Not just that, amma was pestering me like anything. She said I was NOT feeding Babbi properly. duh!!. I had to give up finally, I really wanted some real dosa. This time the taste was much better (batter rose a bit, oven style) but the softness was something impossible to achieve.

This is how Babbi eats

That is when I remembered Selvi athai, she cooks extremely well and her idly's are drool worthy (yes, idly's. I like them RARELY). She was happy to share the secret with the newly married me (3 yrs back). I went to her place in Bangalore and she had made soft and irresistible idly's much better than Saravana bhavan, I swear. She said AVAL(rice puffs) did it, the magic ingredient. I asked amma to make use of it when she made batter for me and Amma never did so (brutus).

After almost 3 years I wanted a packet of aval to make my own batter. I got some from the Indian store( far away in Gare), the Srilankan store did not have any :(. This time I followed so many precautions  My batter had raising problems and Switzerland is to blame. It is always cold here :(( I wish you could see me cry). I read somewhere that the hand (hot body) that mixes the batter finally gives some positive raising results. I am always cold to touch and the other two are hot bodies. I can't ask 
babbi to do it so mama with a proud face did it for me.

NO, it did not help in the batter raising. The next morning I got up to check my batter. It did not raise at all :( MAMA did not mix it properly :P But I did not give up, I knew it was the temperature and the goddamn oven( my baby) did not help in the raising. That particular morning was really a good morning, the sun was all up and not so much cloudy around. But when I check ed the outside temperature it read 13 degrees. Ya, it is very common here to have a very clear sunny day with coldddd temperature, ok this is not cold considering real cold, but cold enough for idly batter not to raise.

Batter right from the mixer

I took my batter clad dabba and placed it right in front of the sun rays that fell inside the house and waited for a few hours. Hurray!! sun did it for me finally. The batter was all up and looked so convincing. I was very happy that I started making my amma's special idly sambar right after lunch to woo mama when he comes home in the evening.

Idly and sambar as evening snack and dinner, how does that sound?. Mama was all over it and he loved it. I loved it too but with my special idly podi. Babbi loved her kutty idly with sugar. The idly remained soft even after two hours of making. Hot idly's might often cheat us by being soft but they turn hard right after 5 minutes but this one was a grand success. I am a proper Tamil wife after all, I make good idly for my husband. PEACE

The batter was over in two days and I hardly made any dosa , sigh!! looked like we were way too desperate. I had to make batter the next week and this time I concentrated more on dosa than idly. It was a happy week for us. who will say no to dosa and chicken curry?? not my family, Babbi included.

Blessed by the sun

The next week I asked mama if he wanted some more of madness and he quietly admitted that he was BORED with idly. Two weeks and that is all he could take it. The marathon was over, he has finally fallen in love with the brown bread, nutella, apricot jam, maple syrup and honey. That's how he has his bread but I am fine as long as there is no chutney or sambar involved.

Weeks later we spent our Saturday in Luzern. I spotted an Indian restaurant that read "kanchi" and I was so delighted. I said mama "This is definitely a south Indian restaurant and let's go eat some dosa. you will love it"  ( I prefer anything but INDIAN outside, but mama ;))

He said " You make good idly and tasty dosa, I don't miss them anymore" Awww, wasn that so cute ?? no it was not, he still was bored with the stuff. Look whose kidding, I know the man like the back of my hand. Why on earth will he miss urad dal vada for anything?? That's let-us-go-catch-the-train-soon talk :p. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Diwali special :)

This diwali was NEW for me and my family. First time away from my parents, grandparents and my lil bro. Oh!! how much I miss them. Moving abroad has really made me close to my family and I miss them the most during these days. Festivals in my house is a BIG affair and diwali will be the best of all. Starting with the new dress purchase a month before, the two time crackers buying, the murukus that amma and GM makes, the special gulab jamun that pops up on the table the diwali morning. I have really missed a lot haven't I?

Diwali SPIRIT :P

But things have to change someday and I always knew that. But there are things which wont change too like the gulab jamun, new dress and muruku which happened right here in Geneva  I still wish for the blessings from my grandparents which is like the best thing about any festival back home. Talking to them over the phone was actually not enough for me. I was with my parents the whole day on skype and got the diwali feel transferred through internet. My bro did not burst crackers this year and he reasons to global warming. I am so proud of you Bala. Amma told me what she and GM had made for diwali other than the regular muruku and gulab jamuns and I craved for some.

My first ever MURUKU

I also had few things to flaunt to my parents. For my happy diwali I made some yummy goodies that mama adored all the way. Then the new dresses that Babbi and I wore. I also got some candles from the Christmas sale to lighten up my diwali. It was fun lighting them and playing around with the wax and err....showing off. 

Lets begin with the goodies part here. Muruku and diwali is like sky and blue for me. From a very small age I have seen the muruku making process in my family during every diwali. It starts with buying the rice and sunflower oil. Washing and drying the rice on one of amma's cotton saree, under the fan. Grinding the rice in the mill and finally setting up the kitchen so that amma can move here and there. Usually amma and our maid sit together and do the work due to the large scale production of murukus. Just few kilometers away my grandmother will do the same thing. Later they will discuss about how good their murukus have come. Then they will talk about the extras: thatai, badhusha, milk sweeet, barfi  etc. 

The best of all!!

I started pressing my muruku from the mold when I was 16 or something. It was fun and I had the patience to make tiny tiny muruku which is my special. Of course I get to eat to them and no one else can touch them. Now that I am capable of making my own muruku amma is just so proud of me. The basic problem with me making muruku will be the muruku making acchu which I don't have. I could have brought one from India a couple of months ago but I forgot, stupid me. Yes, it never occurred to me even once. Only when the diwali talks began between amma and me it struck like a bolt. But I was very confident about making my own kai muruku : stupid crazy me. Who was I thinking I was??? Thank god it did not happen. Something else happened though.

It is Christmas season here the shops are stocked with cookie cutters, chocolate making moulds, jelly moulds and what not. I wannna grab them all actually but I can't, they are seriously over priced. But there was this one small hand gun used to pipe butter creme and make biscuits which kept sitting in my mind all the time. I somehow convinced me that this was a better muruku making machine too. I told mama about it and showed him the gun once. He told me to buy it then and there but I wouldn't budge it was a tad bit expensive and I wished for a sale very badly. 

Mama who really felt the diwali tension got it for me and said just one thing. 

"Don't complain if it is not the right one" oh ya it was the right one and I owe him big time, which he will not know about :P

The GUN :)

It was very easy to get the age old family recipe and make muruku. But not from scratch though. I cheated with the rice, used ready made rice powder. I will not do that again. The muruku tasted OK-good but the texture and color was a big disappointment for me. Nothing like amma's muruku. Oh I was sulking all day. 

There is this other item that is constant for diwali in my house. The gulab jamun will be it. when I was small I would go to sleep eating muruku and when I get up the next morning amma will give gulab jamun to me. I did not know how it came to the table since amma did not make them until ten in the night. But later I found out that amma left the gulab jamun for the last. I have no clue why. But one thing about her jamuns are the flavors  She will add vanilla essence or cloves or rose water or cardamom powder or some new flavoring and it will always suit the jamuns.

Oh!! yum yum yum

I knew I can make my jamuns from the scratch but I had two things that was bothering me. One will be the list of items I was planning and if I was going to make most of them in a single day then I will be in big time trouble. Next will be mama of course, he thought I was over stressing and kept warning me now and then. With the baby around it is very difficult and I was a little sick too. He still does not understand that I might feel healthy if he let me do them and not keep bothering me. So we got a gulab jamun mix from the indian shop and it made things much easier (mama was happy too). Amma used to buy the MTR brand and I wished to get one for me too. But I must not complain and Geneva was kind enough to have one for me, considering its history with Indian stores. 

This one is mine  :)

The moment mama came from office he wanted one jamun, I was frying the final batch by then. Mama felt so much in ease when he saw the jamuns swimming in the jeera. Oh he loved them. Ate around 5 at a time and he wanted more. He was talking all day about how they melt in his mouth and gave out the most pleasant feeling. That my dear people felt like eating some. Babbi who had difficulty biting the muruku with just 6 white teeth became a fan for the jamuns too. 

Tide white :)

The two more items in my list are not regulars at home but I wished to make them when I came across the recipe in Rak's kitchen. The blog itself is a find for me, it is loaded. But the pictures make me feel ashamed, so much perfection.

 Amma used to make them long ago and then she stopped making them like the cakes. But I wanted to make those for mama mainly cuz we run out of snacks most of the days and mama will end up whining about how hungry he gets in the evening. Now that our house is stocked with both the hot and sweet versions of diamond biscuits mama is a happy man.

Hooked on to them :)

I have one more special diwali item to talk about. a few days ago Boo (Bhuvaneshwari Balakumar), one my closest friend who lives and works in the US sent a mail. This busy women seems to have made her first ever rava laddoo that she claims to have tasted so good. It looked much more appetizing I say when she sent the pictures of them. Diwali is not complete with ladoos but mine was complete with this virtual ladoo that Boo had made. I hope you had a lovely diwali Boo. I loved those bowls which had so much Christmas spirit in them, wish I could have one for me :)

Boo's ladoos and that RED BOWL :)

Now that the food part is over the diyas are the only one's that gave me the diwali spirit. Mama came home early to be with me so that I wont feel bad. I think the jamuns play a good part in he coming home early, lets not talk about it shall we??( he might read)

It was very windy that day and the diyas wont sit lit on the balcony. So we took them to the front and creep-ed out some of the neighbors (who are french). LoL I am kidding. They wont mind, I was not bursting crackers and creating scene. Now that I say it we really have a lot of place to leave rocket and flower pot on the balcony. Next time I am going to buy some crackers, get permission from the police (I think I must) and have a better diwali with mama and Babbi :)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Lamb and Me :)

This blog is almost full with animals now :P. If I can eat the mighty horse why not the tiny little lamb?? LOL that sounds evil-y carnivorous. I am nothing but a chicken lover who does not MIND trying new meat, not just meat any new food in that case. I have never shut myself from the mysterious asparagus or Brussels sprouts or the onion look-alike fennel. These vegetables are tried and tested and accepted in my kitchen and they some how find a way into mama's tummy too. I am still on my way trying every lettuce variety possible since Geneva is full of it.

Lamb/agneu is a very famous meat here, next to beef. This particular meat is something we kept avoiding for a very long time. That is mainly due to our hatred for the goat meat, its always linked together if I am not wrong. Mutton as in is a bit more chewy for our taste and hence we never brought it even in Chennai. I love mutton biriyani without the pieces, yes I am a no-mutton-pieces-mutton biriyani person, the KUSKA person back home. Mama is ok with the mutton paya for his appam at Midnight masala restaurent right there in kodambakkam, no other paya impressed him like that one did. Other than these two dishes mutton is no way our favorite.

The rack looked much elegant :(

When mama lived in Geneva all alone and happy he had the chance of eating out a lot, which he thinks were not successful  Of course he has no idea what to order HERE, I do with all the TLC experience. :D. He once told me that he ate Lamb at cafe des sources and loved it( one of time HIT). He also told me that he would take me there once I come to Geneva. Which you all know NEVER happened. I only half blame mama here, with Babbi awake eating outside is a nightmare especially in restaurants. She will never sit in her stroller( wigging, crying, biting the belt)  and let us enjoy food for starters and then she will want to get down, pull the table cloth, hold the fork, play with the knife and mess with the interior decorations. We are always left with take away and that sucks, the outside feel is always missed.

My first taste of lamb happened to be the Doner kabab from Istanbul and I will kill to have some more. I am that crazy about doner kababs and Istanbul is the BEST of them all. I have to tell here that I had no clue about the taste of lamb, I was more than excited to eat than to distinguish anything inside the wrap. I mostly stick to chicken kabab wrap if possible, so does mama. We did not find any difference between the two meats though.

Since I am much more spirited in terms of food, I had my eyes on the lamb section for my own cooking experiment someday. It looked like I had to make one for myself to see how it tastes and feels like. The rack of lamb being the most expensive cut is the most enjoyed form of lamb here.

Fortunately a sale was on few months back and I got a small rack of lamb and proudly brought it home. It was the first time I tried cooking fennel and both turned out pretty good. I prefer cooking vegetables along with any protein and some times even with fish.

The veggies!!

I play a lot with the marinate but I strictly stick to making spicier versions because mama hates sweet meat. With a simple marinate I cooked lamb for the first time. I had to read numerous blogs to really understand what I wanted out of it and how it will taste. I had to slightly cook it before I placed it inside the oven to grill. It is a general fact that the color of the cooked meat must be pink (really have no idea what PINK) but I felt it was under cooked in that color and let it sit for some more time. I really don't mind over cooking meat sometimes rather than killing myself with some bacteria.

Since I had no idea how these things actually taste in restaurants what I made tasted great to me. Mama  too liked it and Babbi was much too small to know what was going on.

Months later a day popped up in my life that really brought back so many memories. Amma was on skype as usual and all of a sudden she asked me if I need my microwave anymore. I am so pathetic sometimes, when I got married I was very stubborn about buying a new microwave for my baking and usual heating. Mama had to buy me a huge glossy black Samsung microwave which costed around 12k in 2010. Along with it came a small recipe book which was something to me. It was officially my first recipe book other then the one I was writing. I had bookmarked some of the recipes to try and was quiet successful with them. There was one recipe that I wanted to try so badly but I  hesitated a lot considering the meat used : mutton. But it stayed in my mind all the time and when amma kindled the memory back I felt the need to make it. Now that I am more of an experimental cook I need to know how it tastes like.

The sambar look :)

The famous Hyderabadi Dal ghost is the dish in question. I remember buying my first packet of masoor dal after reading the recipe assuming that I would cook it back in Chennai. I have never seen my amma buying a packet of it and I did not know what to do with it. Seems like it has its own set of dishes that really amused me with taste. Then it became a regular in my kitchen cabinet and now Babbi also eats it as one of her 'dal' of the day. 

Split red lentil aka Masoor dal

The meat which never happened two years back had to happen now. I had to tell mama my plans since we were shopping together that weekend. He is well know to select the best meat from the lot. Even though we liked the lamb rack we did want to have more of it quiet often so when I told mama about dal ghost he was really not interested. He asked me if I really wanted it. Suddenly out of curiosity he asked me what it is. I just told him it is "mutton sambar". 

Just minutes later I lost mama and the stroller he was pushing. I waited for some time and really felt lost, maybe I went out of radius. I started looking for mama and there he was standing right in front of the lamb section looking for the best pack.

The juicy lamb pieces need limelight

That is when it struck me, SAMBAR has jinxed him for life. He was very serious about the search and finally I get to decide which cut I wanted. I got 450 grams of boneless meat, juicy and fresh back home with a proud face. Mama with a much happier face gladly allowed me to make Sambar, it was not even Friday and he knew I will make some on Friday too. The joy is in-explainable. 

I divided the meat into two. One for dal ghost and one for some mutton cutlets to go with the gravy. I cut the meat for dal ghost into tiny pieces so that it will look more appetizing. 

Cutlets : no deep fried, no guilty

I followed Sanjeev kapoor's recipe like bible except for the half teaspoon sugar which I felt was not necessary and the dish was not very spicy actually. If there was one ingredient I felt made the dish for me was the lemon juice. I also pressure cooked the meat to make it more soft. 

The fresh taste of the dish will remain in my heart forever. Since mama and I were in a not-talking-post- fight mood it was impossible to ask him if he liked it. I had to let it pass to my dismay.

As in for the cutlets, it is a piece of cake. The recipe is written everywhere in my head and pulling it out was nothing but easy. I liked the combination , it worked well for me. Ofcourse I had no idea what mama thought. His frowny-big-face did not give up any information and that made me very sad. He did take more than two servings of dal ghost and at least five of those cutlets which means he liked it but still :(

It was crispy :)
Next day after the patch-up phase things were looking good in terms of talking for the both of us. All of a sudden mama said " I loved the dal ghost, it was very nice"

There you go I felt like jumping here and there. He has never commented about the food until I asked him  for and  remembering it the next day was a one time life experience. Having had two jackpots in one single day I celebrated with some dal tadka ( he hates it!!! LOL) on Friday. You cant expect me to eat sambar two times a week :P

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Runaway it's the ......BEETROOT :)

Mama has a phobia for vegetables, yes you read it right VEGETABLES. He has this huge list of I-don't-like-them vegetables which is like "all" of them. 

When I got married and came home to cook for my brand new husband he threw a shocker at me. He hated almost all the vegetables I had brought to cook for the week Carrots :nay!! cabbage :yuk !!, Snake gourd : are you kidding?, radish : hmmm not a bad idea, cabbage: is it even eatable? cauliflower: only deep fry and Beetroot  POISON!!Aaaaaaaa (scream).

 Imagine my state, I really thought he was ILL ;) . It was tough, very tough to survive with his fondness to vegetables. I believed pleasing him with food is like IMPOSSIBLE.

I am really not exaggerating here and mama will agree to this whole heatedly  He was so disturbing at first, nothing will fall into his "I-love-this" slot except for the stupidest POTATOES. We had nothing in common except for the non vegetarian dishes at first. We had trouble even with the egg scramble method, lol its still going on. 

 It was so much torture for him to eat carrot poriyal , not that it tasted bad. If it had tasted bad he would even skip lunch. He accepted nothing subtle  If I make kootu I know he will cry to get past it, its that serious. Dal tadka was the killer of them all, I have to eat it all by myself and he will go ahead with curd and pickle.

I have to talk about my side here. I adore vegetables better than so many vegetarians, so many of my veggie friends have a small list of vegetables that they 'mind' eating. But I never had such list and I am very proud of it. I never eliminate vegetables from my diet. I was made to respect them since childhood hence I never forget to incorporate them into my non vegetarian cooking too. I am that close and mama was that far.

Nothing could stop me when I found my love for cooking, he was all the "Guinea pig" I had and I cant let him have his way. It was very tragic for mama at first. he had to eat all of them so that I wont get hurt. LOL I had to blackmail him into doing so. Slowly I started cooking all those he hated and altered the recipe every time so that something would make him say yes. Kootu was weekly special and he still hates it. He does not understand how good it is for his health. I made sambar every week to let him know that I still was ready to cook what he wants. Slowly things changed. Now mama is more of a real person who can digest the fact that vegetables will be a part of every meal we eat. Not that he loves them he just wont show faces which is much more better. 

Probably GENEVA is the reason for this change in mind, here there is no comfort of getting okra, drumstick, Indian spinach or bitter gourd. We have to live with beans, carrot, cauliflower, cabbage, Italian tomato, white onion, only fall time pumpkins, occasional radish and bio beetroot  That is it the list is over. Can you believe it? I was really stressed over this problem when I moved here. There are 20 varieties of salad lettuce and greens which is of no use when it comes to Indian cooking.

 I watched mama eat carrots with love cuz he had no choice but he still wouldn budge, beetroots are his enemy. In Geneva beetroots are very special and uncommon so it is only available in the BIO / ORGANIC section and sometimes we cant find them. So when ever I get a chance I grab a packet for me much to mama's disappointment. You can even see the worry in his eyes, I always feel glad about it. Today after so many days I decided to make some poriyal with beetroot and I felt responsible to forewarn mama.  I gave a wide smile and said I was going to make"beetroot" while he got ready to work. Quiet taken back he left with out telling anything. 

When he came home for lunch he first checked what I had 'actually' made assuming that I lied. NO I NEVER LIE when it comes to beetroot. It was fun to watch his reaction, he said "really you made them. I thought you were kidding" LOL

Come on mama will I ever make food your way unless and until I want to eat it "that" way? and you hardly have a 'that' way :P