Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Happy Holidays!

Wish each one of you dear friends a very Happy Holiday Season and a very Happy New Year!

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See you all in the New Year.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Carrot Onion Oothappam (Indian Pancake)

Do we appreciate the common and mundane as much as we do the interesting and the extraordinary? I certainly don't! my response to a query "How is it going?" is usually "the same old nothing interesting". Once the mundane turns to awkward you understand in a second that the mundane is far more comforting than we give credit for.

Taking the bus or train to work is mundane as it can get, hop in the bus or train, read a book, fall asleep, dream do whatever, a routine as boring as it gets, till your reverie is rudely interrupted by an abusive passenger who picks on another passenger and starts abusing him loudly and gets on his face,. everyone around him is hoping that the abuser does not turn his attention on them and get very busy with what they are doing. Luckily the passenger did not let the abuser get the better of him and was smart enough to ask the driver to call the cops (the driver should have called the cops long before it reached that point but).

The second the word COP was mentioned the abuser started sweating and wanted to be let out of the bus, though it was on a busy highway. The driver was asked to get the bus on the shoulder and wait for the cops, they came asked a bunch of questions and took the abuser off the bus to question him, meanwhile a cop who checked his bag found a gun, a real small one. Fortuntely he did not see the need to pull it out. Anyway the abuser was taken off the bus and we rode the rest of the way in silence. The minute we got off the bus we burst out laughing, like we had stopped breathing for the entire time, happy for the moment the mundane returned.

Carrot Onion Oothappam
Well Oothappam, is a mundane everyday breakfast back home but here for us it is usually dinner :) nothing spectacular nothing fancy but comforting just the same. On a cold winter nothing to comfort like good old oothappam.

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1. Slightly sour idli batter
2. Grated carrots
3. finely chopped onions

1. Mix ingredients 1-3
2. Pour a laddle of batter on a hot dosai pan (griddle)
3. Spread it around in a circle
4. sprinkle a few drops of oil
5. Flip and cook on the other side

Serve with some Tomato/Onion chutney or even with sambhar or idli podi

Another comforting picture on a cold winter day. Shrimp Gravy cooking!

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Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Sweet Potato, Black Eyed Peas Soup

We got the first snow of the season! The roads were clogged, it took 3 hrs to travel 10-15 miles which normally takes about 45 minutes during rush hour. Unlike our brethren up north we don't deal with snow that well bringing pretty much everything to a stand still around here. DD was disappointed that her school was not closed, if they had she would have used the time to do some important activity like playing on her DS or the Computer :( Kids!!!

It would be appropriate to say that winter heralds the start of the soup season. Soup the comfort food that brings a warm glow to the insides. Tasted this wonderful hearty soup on Thanksgiving at our friend's house. Thanksgiving and winter also brings sweet potatoes into sharp foucs. There is mounds of them piled high in the grocery store but not many dishes that I know of where they can be readily used. Boiled is how we most often eat them. The Sweet Potatoes are left chunky but soft and with the addition of the black eyed peas to give some texture, a perfect one pot meal.

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Recipe Source: Land O' Lakes

Serves 4 as a Main Course
1. 3 Medium Orange Sweet Potatoes skin removed and cubed
2. 1 1/2 Medium sized Ripe tomatoes
3. 1 Cup Black Eyed Peas
4. 1/2 Onion Chopped
5. 5 Garlic cloves chopped
6. 1 tbsp tomato ketchup (or tomato paste)
7. 1 tsp pepper powder
8. 1 tsp red chili powder
9. a handful chopped corriander leaves
10. 2 1/2 Cups Chicken Broth (any broth would work)
11. 2 tsp butter or ghee
12. Salt to taste

1. In a heavy bottomed pan, heat the ghee and saute the garlic and onion till soft.
2. add the cubed potatoes and saute for a few minutes
3. add the tomatoes and black eyed peas and saute for a minute
4. add the pepper powder, chili powder and tomato sauce
5. add the broth and bring it to a boil, adjust salt
6. Reduce the heat to medium and let simmer till the potatoes are cooked. It should retain its shape and not fall apart
7. Just before turning off the heat add the chopped coriander leaves

Tastes fantastic with a side of garlic bread.

Novel Reading:
Critical - Robin Cook
More my kind of book, medical mystery

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Tori Ambat (Pigeon Pea Curry)

I made a deal! Yes to cook and post since she does not get Pigeon Peas fresh or frozen in her part of the world. Purnima of Cook was commenting on the other Pigeon Pea dish I had cooked and it brought back memories of her shelling them as a child. On checking how she remembers them being cooked, she gave me this delicious recipe. I have never seen fresh pigeon peas in their pods but I do get the frozen ones. The dish is also heading over to JFI-Toor Dal hosted by dear Linda. Purnima,the smell of the pigeon peas cooking was wonderful so was the dish. The family loved eating it with both chapathis and rice.

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1. 3/4 Cup Pigeon Peas
2. 1 Potato peeled and cubed
3. 1/4 Red Onion chopped fine
4. 1 tsp ghee (Purnima said coconut oil)
5. 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
6. salt to taste

1. a cherry sized tamarind ball
2. 2 tbsp coconut
3. 2 red chilies (I did not have badegi chilies)

Blend the above to a smooth paste adding a bit of water

1. In a sauce pan boil the pigeon peas and potatoes with salt (1/4 cup water)
2. When the potatoes are almost cooked add the paste and bring it to a boil
3. In a separate pan heat the ghee, season with cumin, add the onions and saute till slightly brown and add to the peas,
4. Cover with the lid for the flavors to blend in.

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Tori Ambat, Anita's Sookhi Gobhi Aloo, Chapati

Serve with chapatis or rice.

Novel Reading
The inheritance of Loss - Kiran Desai
I have read so much about the book, it having won the Booker Prize and all. The prose is beautiful but the fact that the tale is sad all around is what bothered me and the cynic in me also sees hypocrisy, the main reason why I don't want to read English books by authors from the subcontinent.