food for the soul

Five of many things about me!

1) I have had wonky teeth almost all my life. Only when I realised that I was nearing 30(I turned 30 this year, so please don’t think I am very old) I decided to fix my teeth. I am glad I did because I see many people smiling at me these days.

2) As much as I love cooking and feeding my loved ones, I also love being fed and taken out to eat. Be it for a posh night out at a fine dining place or a greasy Takeaway or a child friendly Italian, my gluttony is a sight of embarrassment everywhere.

3) I sort of hate low-fat versions of anything. Except maybe double cream. Because I am a believer. I would rather eat a small portion of the proper malai kulfi than a big cup of a low fat one. I like to reduce portions than substitute. But what I haven’t understood yet is how small should it be really ūüôą

4) I am not skinny. I don’t wish to either. I think I like the way I am. Just about average is what I am. Although, I may not be as proud when it comes to my mind. Ha, I go mental about some really silly things and I have very weird OCDs. So, overall, an average looking person with a birdbrain.

5) I don’t eat chocolates! Maybe once or twice a year.That’s all.

As a matter of fact, I am glad you made it this far to know about me. So, I leave you with an interesting recipe as a reward for taking your time to read until this point.

It’s sort of a challenge to come up with ideas to cook sprouts differently. One could simply throw them in a salad or make a curry. I have tried making sprouts sandwiches too. They are mighty good. But one Sunday, when I decided to fry¬†pooris for lunch, I also had some leftover sprouts in fridge. And there you go, this dish was born. All I did was slightly cook the sprouts with salt, turmeric and chilli flakes. Next, let it cool and stuffed them into pooris. It was a little tricky at first but as it cooled even more, it became a lot easier to roll and fry. So, the next time you make pooris, try stuffing them with these humble mung beans for a lovely change. I don’t have step by step pictures but I will try to update the post when I make it the next time.


I served it with tadka dal and khatti meeti aloo(sweet and sour). Perfect Recipe to help you get your Sunday nap in order.

 

Featured Image source: Google 

From farm to plate(About my parents farm)

When I was little, I didn’t think I would ever learn to cook. I thought cooking was one of those menial tasks and it involved no amount of fun. Maybe because our¬†mother never let us help her much. The best she wanted from us was that we helped her decide what to¬†eat¬†and that we finished what was served. But, as I got older and a little wiser if I may say so, I started to realise that there was¬†more to cooking¬†than merely chopping and mixing.

Have you ever stopped for a moment and thought about where the tomatoes or spinach that you eat came from? No no, I am not that kind of a person who grows her own vegetables and eats only from her own garden. But I am the kind that likes to go pick stuff from the farm preferably or to the least from the market. I find it comforting. I am a little more independent here¬†in London than in Chennai, so I end up buying way too much and often times from very expensive organic shops. I do this with a slight hope of avoiding those greasy takeaways that we do every now and then. Buying too many vegetables is one way of making sure that i almost never want to waste any of it and less of hearing that ” we have eaten out so much this week and we should be spending less bla bla” from the husband. But only the one who cooks can understand the emotions¬†of another isn’t it??? So,When I do cook, I try to use the best possible ingredients.I don’t make what I made the¬†day before or sometimes even a week before. I love food cooked with different coloured vegetables and a reasonable amount of flavour. Apart from trying to make it healthy,I do¬†all of the above¬†to earn that well deserved break from cooking. So when we eat out, I feel a little less guilty.

But here comes the best bit, I am actually very pleased to tell you that my parents own a small farm in Chennai which is a few miles away from our home. And ever so often we get some lovely greens and other vegetables delivered to our house. What a blessing!!! And every time my mother tells me on the phone that she cooked some really delicious stuff using our own farm fresh produce, I would feel so jealous. The last time while I visited home, I was lucky enough to have tasted lots of food made with vegetables from the farm. And needless to say, today I am a bit nostalgic and missing all the food and fun.

Here are some pictures of the produce from the farm which I clicked last year.

 

The Entire lot_MG_6979

The white long ones are Banana Stems which make for an amazing South Indian Style Kootu/Lentil coconut gravy.

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Raw Bananas, Guavas and Vazhapoo(Banana Stem flower)_MG_6981

Musmusukai Keerai(Mukia maderaspatana)

Usually served in the form of Kootu(Curry with lentils and coconut)

_MG_6982

Agathi keerai(Sesbania Grandiflora)

Usually served as Kootu or a dry stir fry with Toor dal and coconut

_MG_6983

Manathakkali Keerai (Solanum Nigrum)

Usually served as Kootu or a chutney

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Helpers around the farm and the house_MG_6993

The bunch of leaves below the Banana Stem flower is Murungai Keerai (Drumstick leaves). This is a very tasty one and usually cooked in Sambar or added to dosais and adais. 

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Banana stem flower (Best had as Kootu or a Vadai(Dumpling)_MG_6997

 

Agathi Poo (My mother made an amazing thokku(Pickle) with this flower and it was out of the world.  I will find a picture of this pickle and post it sometime soon. _MG_6998

 

The little black beauties in the picture above are fresh manathakkalis/black night shades/sunberry. These berries are sun dried and added to kara kuzhambu(a spicy tamarind based curry).

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I hope you enjoyed this post ūüôā

 

The joy of simple food!

Did you know that Indians eat yoghurt/curd rice which is just rice and yoghurt mixed together? Okay, it’s more of a south Indian thing than a “Indian” thing actually. A daily affair in every south Indian’s home if I may say so. It may sound like I am over exaggerating a very simple combination or some of you may even call it a strange one. But the fact remains that there is nothing quite like finishing a meal with this “Thayir Sadham” as we all fondly call it in tamil. We sometimes have it as the only meal just so it helps the tummy to recover from all the junk we often eat.

It is mostly had during lunch but some people prefer having it for dinner too. As with many other dishes, this too can be served with variations. The most common is tempering it with mustard seeds. It shouldn’t surprise you if I now say that it appears on every wedding food menu. One, because it is loved by people of all ages and two, it is very easy to cook. On such occasions, it is a little more dressed up with fruits like grapes and vegetables like carrots and nuts too. And tempered¬†with ginger, green chillies etc etc. Infact, I know a lot of¬†people who even add butter to it to this already creamy deliciousness.

Goodness knows what a brilliant lot we are when it comes to food.(I maybe a little biased here being a south Indian myself) But dear reader, if you don’t think I was right then I suggest you first have a plate of Masala dosai or a bowl of curd rice with some potato fry and then think again.

Now, as we are all aware that eating too much white rice may increase the risk to diabetes and so on, I don’t see why we cannot switch some meals to healthier types. Especially, when we can get easy access to so many wonderful substitutes like Brown rice and Millets. I personally love millets. They are so easy to cook and tastes even better than white rice. Although I don’t compromise all the time. For e.g I like to cook white rice for a good bowl of drumstick sambar. But for a mixed yoghurt rice, I think millets are my favourite.

millet curd rice 3Here is a picture of a millet yoghurt rice tempered with mustard seeds and curry leaves we had last week.

This was heaven right there.

I have such warm memories of devouring this dish after so many trips that we have taken over the years. Every time we come back from a trip, the only thing we crave for is some curd rice so we can all drift off to sleep right away. Yes, it is such a good sleep inducer I tell you.

There is no real recipe to this dish. You can add or not add any of those extra bits I mentioned. Here are a few suggestions:

  1.  If you are a beginner and want to experiment on how rice and yoghurt might even taste, then I would suggest you try doing this with plain basmati rice first. Simply cook rice normally and mix it with plain or greek yoghurt and a pinch of salt. 
  2. If you want to go one step further, heat up some oil, throw in mustard seeds and curry leaves, finely chopped ginger and green chillies. Add all of these along with rice and yoghurt. 
  3. If you want to go over the top, then follow step 1 and 2 first. Then, add green and black grapes(of course without the seeds). Then grate some carrots and cucumber. Garnish with nuts of your choice and for that extra prettiness add a few pomegranate seeds.

Now, can you begin to imagine how good this can be really????