Showing posts with label Vegetarian. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Vegetarian. Show all posts

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Savory Fenugreek Cookies & The Thirsty Crow

How many times have you heard or for that matter even narrated the story of the ‘thirsty crow’? I have lost count of it …….. Being the most talkative one in our entire dynasty I loved narrating stories as much as I did listening to them. Sometimes I would twist the old conventional stories and fill it with my own imaginative colors to make it a little more interesting. But I never fiddled with the moral of the story. It always ended with the same note ‘Hard work pays off’. 
But I was in no mood for hard work this morning. I am still in the inertia of vacation. The jingle of my lil sister’s wedding bells has faded away, the cacophony of friends and relatives has also melted,  a shopaholic like me shudders at the very name of shopping (although it is just a temporary phenomenon) ……. All I want now is simply stretch my legs and stay cuddled in bed, even when the clock shows 8.30 am on a weekday. The icing on the cake - getting undivided attention of my parents, now that the younger one is gone for good ….. (evil  grin) and being pampered till the extent of getting spoilt. I ignored the ticking clock. The sun rays came piercing on my face as the cool morning breeze swayed the window curtains.  I buried my face into the pillow trying to ignore the sun as well as the constant chatter of Jayanti …… the next most important and indispensable person for Maaafter her family.  She is our domestic help.  If uninterrupted Jayanti can go on for hours complaining about her drunkard and unemployed husband and her nagging mother in law. How much we women love ‘talking’ about our husband and in-laws, no matter to what strata of society we belong to. It was one of those days when she was in the mood of lashing out. Her voice was only getting louder as she scrubbed the utensils vigorously. She was perhaps venting out all her anger and frustration on the lifeless plates and saucers. After all she was the single bread earner for a family of five.  At last I gave up and dragged myself out of the bed.
I rubbed my eyes and walked sluggishly towards the lawn signaling mom for a cup of tea. I picked the newspaper and smelled it. I sniff my newspaper before reading it.  I love the smell of a fresh newspaper and new books. I started with the last page of the newspaper reading my zodiac. There was nothing interesting, so I moved on to browsing local ads to check various deals and sale. I quickly flipped through the pages and read the main news in bits and pieces ……. As always it was about some corrupt Neta or the sky rocketing fuel prices. Jayanti was there with my cup of tea …….. 

As I sipped I noticed a crow sitting on the roof of the house across the street. Water was overflowing from the overhead water tank of that building. This smart crow perched over the pipe and was drinking the water from the overflowing tank. It was cawing …….. as if trying to signal the crow clan about an easy and smart source of water. After some time some more crows joined in. So has the moral of the story of the crow drinking water changed with time? Perhaps!

Preparation Time – 60 minutes

Makes – 30 small cookies


All Purpose Flour / Maida – 1 Cup
Gram Flour/ Besan – ½ cup

Semolina/ Suji – 2 tsp

Unsalted Butter at room temperature – 2/3 cup

Dry Fenugreek leaves – 2 tsp

Cumin – 1 tsp

Salt – 2 tsp (per taste)

Sugar- 1 tsp

Black Pepper – ½ tsp

Baking Powder – ½ tsp

Method of Preparation
Mix All Purpose Flour, Gram Flour and Baking Powder. Sieve to remove any   lumps. Now add the semolina, salt, sugar, cumin, fenugreek leaves and black pepper to it. Again mix all the  ingredients uniformly.
Take the butter at room temperature. Add small amount of the above mixture and mix with the help of a spatula. Repeat till all the dry mixture is added to the butter.  Now with your hands knead the dough till uniform and soft. Keep the dough covered for about 30    minutes. 
Pinch out small balls from the dough and put them on a baking sheet.
Preheat oven to 250 F.
Bake for about 10 – 15 minutes or till the cookies look slightly brown.
Remove on a cooling rack. Cool and store in an airtight container. 

Serving Tips

It’s a savory cookie. Serve with tea/ coffee.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Day around my City and a recipe for Butternut Squash Soup

I hopped into a ‘shared auto rickshaw’ en routed towards the older part of the city, now referred as ‘Old Town’

‘Market Building’ I said as the Autowala looked at me from the rear mirror. The guy sitting next to me in the rickshaw was engrossed texting on his mobile phone, a new one I suppose since the plastic sheet was still intact on the screen. He was sandwiched between me and a college going girl. I stole glances to check out this college chick. Her neatly pedicure and painted nails matched the shade of her lipstick. She wore a lot of junk accessories that pretty well went with her dress ……. But those looked heavier than the books she carried in her bag ! I recollected my yester years as a college student with my neatly oiled and parted hair, courtesy mom (which of course I hated) and practical notes and books that left me sweating.

After checking out my fellow passengers, it was time to check out the life size hoardings of new malls and shops that had mushroomed all over the city . I peeped out of the rickshaw to catch glimpses of some new retail outlets. ‘Auto wale Bhaiya stop’,Ms college girl said in a shrill voice patting on the shoulder of the rickshawwala and handed over a five rupee coin to him. The ‘Autowala Bhaiya’ abided and stopped with a jerk. He grinned at the girl showing his ‘paan’ stained teeth as we rolled away. I was busy looking out trying to catch every glimpse of this ‘Old Town’, where I grew up ……… which all of a sudden looked so new to me !! Tall multistoried malls had taken over the small shops where I usually came with my parents for shopping. The cityscape had changed beyond my imagination …… and I was not very elated seeing those ‘developments’. I was unable to fit myself to this change so quickly. The rickshaw driver turned to me and said ‘Last Stop aa gaya ……. Market Building’. I paid him and walked slowly towards this shopping arcade, the oldest in town.

I was suddenly elated to see that time stood still here. The old paint was falling off the walls of the old but faithful building, there were also some small trees and grasses which had grown over the building. Stray dogs wandered in the by lanes around the carts that sold street food. Young girls and women gathered around the paani puri/golgapa and chaat walas to satisfy their hunger pangs in between their shopping spree. I stuffed myself with some pani puri’s before walking into the glittering lanes of saree and bangle shops. I was glad that the taste of the pani puri had not changed much over these years, except that the carts looked more hygienic and that they used bottled water for the ‘paani’, which came for a price !!

I vanished into one of the oldest lanes that sold sarees ……… My eyes were dazzled by the mirror, stone and glitter work heavy sarees displayed all over the places. They sparked like a million stars under the halogen lights. I could recollect some familiar faces as I passed by these shops. Unaware and confused of what I wanted to buy I walked into one of the oldest saree shops. I know it is not a matter of pride but my knowledge of sarees is pretty limited. To add to my woes and confusion, the sales guy flooded me with an ocean of sparkling sarees, they all looked the same to me ……..And all I could understand was ‘Parvati Saree’ …….. something something then ‘Tulsi Saree’ …………. something something , ‘Balika Vadhu Saree’ ………. something something. I scratched my head and concluded that shopping for sarees all by my own was not my cup of tea. I thanked the sales guy for all his effort and felt sorry for him at the same time for his painstaking effort of convincing an ignorant customer like me.

A fat middle aged aunty sitting at the next counter insisted on a ‘Mera wala blue’ saree. I smiled at a young girl who was draping a beautiful ‘Parvati Saree’ as I walked out of the shop. Once again I vanished into the by lanes ……… lost in some old memories and the glitterati.

Serves – 5
Preparation Time 30 minutes


Butternut Squash – 1 medium size
Rosemary – few

Powdered Cinnamon – 1/3 tsp

Minced Garlic – 2 tsp

Minced Ginger – 1 tsp

Finely Chopped Onion – 1 cup

Butter/ Any cooking oil – 2 tbsp

Heavy Cream – 1tsp for each soup bowl

Water – 2 cups

Olive Oil for drizzling

Salt per taste

Fresh cracked Pepper per taste

Method of Preparation

1.Cut the butternut squash and put it on a baking sheet. Drizzle with some olive oil, salt, fresh cracked pepper. Add strings of rosemary. Bake at 350 degrees F for approx 15- 20 minutes or till soft and baked. Remove and let it cool. Remove the rosemary and mash the baked butternut squash.

2.In a pan, add 1 tbsp butter and let it melt. Add minced garlic and ginger and sauté it for about 5 minutes on medium heat. Add the chopped onions and sauté till the onions turn soft and translucent and there is no raw flavor. Add salt per taste if needed

3.Add the mashed baked butternut squash to the onions. To that add the powdered cinnamon. Stir in all the ingredients well. Add water and keep stirring making sure that the ingredients don’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

4.Cool this mixture and puree it in a food processor

5.Add the remaining butter to the pan and add the puree and let it simmer for a minute

Serving Tips

Serve in Soup Bowls in generous portion and add some heavy cream on top. Eat with bread sticks.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Falafel and a Cookbook Giveaway .....

Birthdays Then ........

The Birthday Boy/Girl is excited and begins the countdown months ahead. The father goes to the nearby grocery store and picks up a packet of hard boiled candy the day before. The packet is opened .... the birthday kid and the siblings gather around with sparking eyes. Father counts the candies and puts them in a plastic bag ...... enough for the classmates and the teachers. Remaining is shared or rather fought over to be shared by the siblings.

On the birthday morning ......... the birthday kid gets special attention, is also pampered by the parents and grandparents. Wears a new dress, goes to temple with his father's riding on their faithful Bajaj Scooter. A special puja is performed by the temple Pujari(priest). Comes back home, distributes the prasad and seeks the blessings of the elderly.
Again the candies are counted one last time before leaving for school. Friends and teachers at school sing the 'Happy Birthday'song. The Birthday kid goes around distributing the candies ....... tries to save some for his special friends.
Mean while ...... a cake is being baked at home. There is a little hustle bustle in the kitchen. The menu for the birthday is decided on the fly. Aunts and women from the neighborhood gather and deep fry Poori's, also a special curry is prepared to go as a side dish .... mostly it's alu, chanaa or chole and not to forget the kheer. The halwai at the street corner caters to the samosa which are served as snacks.
Kids from the neighborhood are invited a day before, may be some friends and cousins from the same city .....
Hanging of balloons and streamers is an optional affair ..... Kids gather during the eve. Birthday fella blows the candle and cuts the home made cake. Friends give gifts to the Birthday boy/ girl ..... They mostly were pencils, Diary Milk/ 5 Star Chocolates/ Amul Chocolates (Yah once upon a time people considered them as gifts), pencil boxes, lunch boxes .... sometimes one or two toys and books.
Mats and bedsheets are spread on the floor. Kids are served on steel plates with Poori and sabji. And in the end kheer is served as dessert.

The kids play and parents chit chat before they call it a day !! Simple isn't it .....

Birthdays Now .........

The Birthday Kid is excited and the parents are tensed. Budget is discussed. Search for restaurant / banquet hall begins months in advance. Parents squabble over choosing the venue and pay a fat cheque to book it. Menu is decided days ahead and it has to be better than the neighbor's or colleagues ..... least at par ! A birthday theme is decided and shopping is in full spree.
Parents buy clothes to complement with the kids ..... may be the color of the balloons too !! An Evite invitation is sent weeks ahead .....

And yes .... I forgot to mention about the cake. This time Mom doesn't spend time in baking one. She is given some concession as she has many more things to bother about .... but yes she does spend a lot more time browsing and gawking photos of expensive cakes .... Cinderella, Winne the Pooh, Spiderman, Dora ... It's an encyclopedia. You tell me.

Well this era is about 'Return Gifts'. Weren't we taught in our childhood about 'Give and Take' .... I am sure this makes the other kids equally excited as the Birthday one. Fair enough !

Gifts are bought and packed in fancy colorful packets to be given away. It has also become a trend to play games at the party .... oh I am not just talking about the kids. The older ones too are roped into it ! Some of them play it even more seriously than what it takes to prepare for the IIT's OR MIT .... the bait - a gift wrapped in a glossy paper.Well I don't deny that it's fun too .....

Food is no more served .... Come on I must be kidding !! You serve it for yourself. Thanks to the buffet system ..... Eat all you want and what you want.

Well time changes and so have we ..... for the better or for the worst !!

So I did celebrate a virtual blog birthday ..... You remember na ? Didn't I treat you all with stuffed bell peppers.
What ?? 'Return Gift' .... Yah Yah I have something.

A book on Mediterranean Cooking.

You will be amazed to know that it has quite a lot in common with Indian Cuisine.
I will be giving away this book as a gesture to thank you all for motivating/ criticizing and helping me come all the way.

The Meditterenean Cook Book for the Give Away .....

Here's the deal ......

You can do anyone or
All of these to participate in this Give Away !!

1) Follow my Blog by clicking the 'Follow' button. You must follow Publicly.
2) 'Like' or 'Follow' 'Food for Thought' on Facebook.
3) Leave a comment on my blog and tell me what you like most about my space. Is it the write up, the photographs or the recipe that draws you to 'Food for Thought'.
4) You can also participate if you are a non blogger. Just leave a comment with your email id and name so that I can hunt you down.

This time the give away is just for US residents. I will be selecting a winner randomly. To increase your chances to get this fabulous Mediterranean cook book you can do all the above.

The Give Away is open till ...... June 14th 2011.

Here is the recipe of Falafel from this book .... I tweaked it a bit though !!

Preparation Time - 40 minutes
Makes - 14 small Falafel


Dry chickpeas - 1/2 cup (soaked overnight or at least 10 hours (will be about 1 cup when soaked through)
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Coriander powder - 1/2 tsp
Red chili powder - 1/2 tsp (per taste)
Garlic - 4-5 cloves
Chopped Cilantro/Coriander - 1 cup
Onion - 1/3 cup chopped fine
Freshly squeezed lemon juice - 1-2 tbsp
Bread Crumbs of 1-2 bread
Salt per taste
You may also add chopped green chili to make it more spicy
Oil to deep fry

Method of Preparation

1. Drain the soaked Chickpeas/Garbanzo Beans/ Chole in a colander till the water is completely drained.
2. Add the garlic cloves,cumin seeds and chickpeas and grind in a food processor to make a coarse paste. Do not add any water. If at all needed add very little.
3. Remove to a mixing bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Mix well.
4. Pinch out small balls, roll them between your palms and then slightly press them to give it a desired shape.
5. Heat Oil in a Kadhai/ Wok and deep fry them on medium heat on both sides till golden brown.
6. Remove on a paper towel.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Where are the sparrows ?? Also a recipe for Banana Bread

The sudden appearance of twigs, old cotton balls and wool in our dining room puzzled us until we looked up. Mr and Mrs Sparrow had found a safe abode in the hustle bustle of the town to build their nest. Maa would sweep away the twigs, dry grass,cotton and feathers every day that would fall off the skylight......

Mr & Mrs Sparrow would fly out of the window every now and then and come back with tiny twigs and grasses in their beaks. It was a lot of hard work for these small birds .... yah making a house is no joke after all ! Be it humans or birds. I and my sister were pretty amused seeing the upcoming nest. After days of hard work the birds had put their nest together. We knew something was happening up there. Maa told us that Mr & Mrs Sparrow were busy decking up a nursery and making a comfortable home before their bundle of joy hatched.

We waited as much as the sparrows and one morning we heard the babies chirp. The chirping was sharp and shrill and would continue from dawn to dusk. The hungry babies kept their parents on the toes. The mother sparrow would fly out of the window and come back with worms in her beak to feed her babies while the father would guard their nest.This was a regular affair for the sparrow family.
I and my sister would pull up a chair and take turns to climb on it to have a glimpse of the babies. They looked ugly without feathers and had small red beaks. Maa warned us from getting close to their nest and we would obediently stare at the babies from a safe distance.

It was not very long when the baby sparrows developed tiny wings and had feathers on them. They looked so similar that t was difficult to differentiate one from the other. It was time for flying lessons. The 'sparrow parents' would teach the babies to fly.
Phurrrr Phurrrrr , the feathered family would fly all over our house ... or rather their house. They would fearlessly perch every where .... on the wash basin mirror, the sink, on the fridge and table top.The dining room fan was not switched on to keep the family and it's babies safe during their flying sessions.
One day they flew out of the window and never came back...... I stared out of the window and waited for days for them to return but alas !! The nest was empty and the birds were gone.I was sad but life took it's course and the memories of the sparrow family faded.

Today after many years I saw sparrows playing in a puddle of water outside my house. I remembered the sparrow family which once made our house their home. And these birds which were once so common have become a rare sight.

So where have the sparrows gone ???


All Purpose Flour - 2 cups
Powdered Sugar - 1 cup
Flax Seed - 1 tbsp
Crushed Walnuts - 1/2 cup
Baking Powder - 1 tsp
Salt - 1 tsp
Ripe Banana - 3
Vegetable Oil/ Canola Oil - 1/4 cup
Milk - to adjust consistency

Method of Preparation

1 Mash the bananas with a fork. Add sugar and oil to the mashed bananas and mix well.
2 Add all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl (Flour + Salt + Baking Powder + Flax seeds + crushed walnuts). Mix these ingredients well.
3 Add the mashed banana mixture to these dry ingredients and mix well to make a batter. If needed add little milk to adjust the consistency.
4 Grease a loaf pan with little oil and add the batter to it.
5 Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 - 60 minutes depending on the oven.
6 Insert a tooth pick or skewer to check if the bread is baked through.
7 Remove to a cooling rack and cut into slices once the bread is cool.

Cutting the bread before cooling it may break it. So allow the bread to cool down before slicing it.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Women in Power ... Letz celebrate with Matar Paneer

It's the victory of Woman Power and the entire nation is celebrating it in grandeur. And I too included myself in the celebration uninvited and am basking in the glory of these successful women across the globe. No I am not into politics or anything but I am a woman and I don't need any bigger reason than this.

Women are in the limelight everywhere .... be it S.Divyadarshini or Sweta Mohanty who topped the Civil Services Exam or even Mamta Banerjee who created history in West Bengal. The entire media is watching these women like a hawk. And so am I listening to their interviews ....

And do I have the right to judge these women ? Yes I do !! Not that I always judge people but definitely them. They are no ordinary woman like you and me. They will be the ones who would be deciding where my tax money would go and would be responsible for taking my country on the path of progress.Hence answerable to everyone.

Mamta Di is definitely not a new face to the media. I have had heard Mamta Banerjee several times before as she had been in the media for reasons right and wrong. And neither am I a big admirer of her Trinumul Congress or for that matter any political party. So I just over heard the interview of Mamta Di. Didi spoke confidently in her funny Bengali English accent during her interview with Barkha Dutt ( Another woman in power). I heard it and it faded from my memory within hours .... after all she is a politician and it is her profession to make a 'Speech' for her living if I may say so.
Well irrespective of her wrong English and her funny accent she spoke confidently. And that is one thing that I must admire in this woman who is ready to make changes to the crippled West Bengal.

BUT I sat down to listen to Divyadarshini the new face of Indian youth who has been basking in the glory of being the topper of the most prestigious and powerful position of India, the Civil Services. She was on Vinod Dua live on NDTV and I was all ears to her.
I am still unable to ignore the amateurish answers that this 24 year old topper gave. And it is not pardonable as she is no ordinary woman ! When asked 'What does the position of being an IAS officer mean to her .... is it just power and fame or something beyond that', Divyadarshini didn't give any definitive answer and it clearly reflected of her low confidence level .... which is unacceptable !!
She is the role model of thousands now and more importantly she would be taking the reigns of reforming the country and making decisions that's not confined to her.

Is she just another high grade brainless pawn that our politicians would be using for their own benefit.

Not to forget the fact that she doesn't know 'Hindi', which is the official language of India. I hope she is aware that she may have to read documents that will be only available in Hindi !! And there is no excuse to this ...... no matter what one argues. Tamil Nadu in not outside India and if you are in the Indian Civil Services, girl you better start taking Hindi tuition's !!

However I thought of still going ahead and celebrating the victory of these women in my own style, in my kitchen !! And on the menu was Roti and Matar Paneer. Nothing Fancy !!

My best wishes to these ladies, especially Divyadarshini.

May the hand which rocks the cradle rule the world. Amen !

Serves - 2
Preparation Time 30 minutes


Onion - 1/2 cup
Ginger - 1/2 inch
Garlic - 2 cloves
Whole Coriander seeds - 2 tsp
Cumin Seeds - 1/2 tsp
Red Chili Powder - 1 tsp
Tomato - 2 (small)
Paneer - 1 cup (cubed)
Green Peas - 1/2 cup
Garam Masala Powder - 1/3 tsp
Milk -1/2 cup
Turmeric - 1/3 tsp
Salt to taste
Oil for cooking

Method of Preparation

1. Grind onion, garlic, ginger, cumin and coriander seeds into a paste.
2. Drizzle a pan with little oil and fry the panner till golden brown and keep aside.
3. Heat about 3tbsp of oil in a wok. Add the masala paste and stir fry. Add turmeric powder, red chili powder and salt and saute till it leaves oil from the side and there is no raw masala smell.
4 Add milk to the masala and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
5 Mix the paneer and the green peas and mix well. Add little water to adjust the consistency if required.
6 Add the garam masala on top and let it simmer for a minute before removing from heat.

Serving Tips
Serve warm with any flat bread, pulao, rice.