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 :)