Friday, March 30, 2007

Memory Lane down Gujarati Food

Two posts about food in a day!! That means at least two things:
1. I have food on my mind.
2. I don’t have anything else to do. :)
Well, let me leave it at that. Now to get on with what inspired me to write this post. It was this blog
This blog has some mouth watering, mind boggling.... gujju recipes. I am a great fan of gujju food. I was literally going mad looking at all those pictures and recipes. Although, I am not a Gujarati, I spend my entire childhood there and I was the one in our house to love any kind of Gujarati food. Well, rest of my family isn't too keen on food. That explains the size difference between me and them. ;)
Thinking of the Gujarati food does make me nostalgic. You might wonder what is so special about it or you might think its all sweet. But that is far from being true.
To taste real Gujarati food, you need to come to Gujarat. How can someone not like the food? I find that hard to imagine.
The khakaras are quite famous, so is dhokla. Dhokla does make me weak. These days in Bangalore we get dhoklas at food courts in the malls. I can’t pass by a stall featuring dhokla without eating it.
The dhebras...hmmmm....fried puri like but so much yummier than puris. And then there is chundo, the grated mango sweet, spicy all at once. I can eat it with anything or when I eat something I did not like, I refresh my taste buds by eating a spoonful of chundo.
Then there is handvo. You can eat it any time of the day. And the can I forget that? I spent my childhood days waiting for undhiyo party to happen.
And the day it happened, I was one excited kid. We used to go to a farm and there they give 'matla undhiyo' (translated to pot undhiyo). They bake the beans, the sweet potatoes, potatoes etc in earthen pots with their mouths covered with dried grass or something. Then serve these baked veggies with spicy green chutney, also the sweet chutney, sev, oil
We had to take the beans out of their covering, mash the potatoes and them mix all chutneys and eat it. I will remember the taste all my life. Nothing can beat it. Then you have jalebi with it. It is the yellow, crisp jalebi unlike the orange, softer version which I saw in Maharashtra. I love the yellow jalebi. Haven’t eaten it since I left Gujarat :(
The other version of undhiyo which is more cooked vegetable kind is also great.
Then there is this fulvadi with mattho. Fulvadi is fried vadi...not sure of details but extremely spicy and when you have it with curd based mattha, it tastes just perfect.
Oh yes, then there is ‘papdi no lot’ (translated to papdi dough). You wouldn’t have heard of people eating dough but once you taste this you will wonder how the dough can be left to be turned into papdi (similar to papad). The steamed dough is eaten with oil drizzled over it. I am pretty sure, women in Gujarat would hide some ‘papdi no lot’ from family
members otherwise they can never prepare papdi. The oil is poured to reduce the spiciness of the dough.
I can not get enough of Gujarati food. Though the real fact is that I have had it only few times till now. I am not talking of the gujarati thali. That I have everytime I go there but the other things that make the Gujarati food so much more fun. We didn't prepare this at home so I had it only when friends and neighbors used to send them to us. I am thankful to all the people who introduced me to the delightful tastes of Gujarati food. I hope everyone gets to taste it. It will remain with you forever.

Experiments in Cooking and Me..

I am writing this post because I am happy I concealed the lauki (bottle gourd as they say in English) in a dal and had my husband eat it with relish. But mainly because I knew all of you are missing me. I can get quite self-praising (is that the word?) at times, as you can see.
Is your husband a fussy eater? Husband species are meant to be fussy, I believe. I had chanced upon a wonderful methi matar malai recipe on the net and also had methi at home. But I didn’t have enough time to prepare it, starting with separating the methi leaves. I saw a nice, small and tender lauki at Nilgiris’ newly started vegetable section and I knew I had to buy it. I was looking for some vegetable which will be fast to cut and this lauki fit the bill and making it tempting was the fact that it was so tender and without seeds. I don’t like lauki seeds. That is not being fussy. Ok?
But the problem was making my husband eat lauki. I thought of mixing it in dal. He really likes dal. I went home. Took out a cup of toor dal, then I thought let me mix in a bit of masoor, then a bit of chana dal and then yellow moong dal. The dals look lovely and specially the masoor adding orange to yellow. Washed them and kept it soaking in water. Ok, now I am telling you the recipe so that you can get your husbands to eat lauki ;)
See, now I consider myself a recipe guru. Yes, the continuation of the self-praising phase.
I cut the lauki into small pieces and added to the dal(s) and cooked it in pressure cooker along with salt till it gets mushy. You can see the lauki pieces among the dal if you look hard. Till then I put rice to cook and went about tackling the methi which needed immediate attention. Till the dal cooked, I got all the methi leaves in Ziploc bag and hoped they will stay till I get time to cook them. I also got 2 small onions, 3 garlic cloves, 2 green chillies and 3 small tomatoes cut into small pieces. Now take a kadhai and put some oil, add mustard seeds and jeera and hing. Add the onions, garlic and chillies.
When onions are done, add tomatoes and haldi and let it cook till tomatoes are almost mashed. Add this to the cooker. I did this coz adding the dal to kadhai was more difficult :)
Add everest garam masala, little bit of sugar and chopped coriander. Let it boil. This is quite thick in consistency. We had it with paratha and curd and rice. If you are wondering, where did the parathas came from, well, I had the dough ready in the fridge and my experience says old dough makes better roti/paratha. Maybe its just one of my weird beliefs.
For once, I got a good result from my cooking experiments.

Similar thing can be done to brinjal, karela. But this will be more of sambar style with tamarind, jaggery and maybe sambar masala instead of garam masala. I am yet to try it with my husband. This will be more challenging than the lauki.

Monday, March 5, 2007


This weekend, I happened to meet some babies. On Friday evening, I went to see my friend’s baby who is three and a half months old. On Saturday, we went to my cousin sister's house. She has a 10 month old baby. Everyone thinks babies cute. Even I think so, but only if they are other's babies. These little creatures are good to see from far but I am not sure if I would want them in my close vicinity. Babies are cute but only till they don’t start crying, till they don’t start peeing and till their moms are around. Left alone with a baby, I don’t know what I would do. You might think what kind of a girl wouldn’t want babies? Before marriage, I didn’t have any views on babies. At that time, I thought of it as a natural phenomenon -> "All married people have babies."But now, I am not able to figure out why people wish to have babies in the first place. My husband says, people feel it as a miracle that a woman can create a new life and bring it to this world. But I fail to see the miracle part of it. I mean, yes, it might seem like a miracle to someone ignorant but we all know the science behind it. right? And after all, this world is not such a good place to feel proud about bringing someone else also to suffer in it. My husband says, children would be company for old age. We would have somebody for support. This seems good. But I am not sure how much will the next gen support their parents. Somehow I feel pretty sure; they would run away in their teenage, never feeling a thing for their parents. We should be prepared for the worst. Even if by luck, they turn out to be good. Good is again relative, few years ago, marrying someone not selected by your parents was considered bad, now it is ok. Who knows few years later, living with parents might not be considered ‘good’. Why would people want to live their entire lives just for their children so that they can leave them in their old age? Once people have children, I have seen them living, thinking only about the children, never about themselves. I would rather live my life for myself and spend all my money on myself. Yes, I know I am selfish.