There is something about the farm in full bloom, the birds happy with themselves, bees humming, butterflies swarming around, and our two dogs furtively chasing away the monkeys (who want to uproot our vegetable patches!). The entire happy cycle of nature makes my soul sigh in satisfaction.
This season we got bushels and bushels of corn from our farm in Mahabaleshwar. And strawberries. And radish. And beans. And cauliflower!! And so many other small batches of pure organic vegetables. The taste and inherent sweetness of the freshly plucked organic vegetables is a world apart from what we get in cities.
We had freshly plucked corn, and we all decided to have Corn Pulao.
This is a really simple recipe, very easy prep and damn tasty to boot! Just before adding the rice, you will realise that the corn looks so good, and it tastes and smells good too. At this point you can easily not add the rice and serve it as a veggies with any kind of roti! (we almost did that, as the smell was making us go crazy – and we were fast loosing patience).
Serve it with yoghurt and papad! Or eat it plain! You can easily increase or decrease the spices. What I have written in my recipe is not a very spicy version. The yoghurt, balances the spices.
I hope you like the recipe as much as all of us did!
PS: here is the link to the youtube video to make your life a tad easier!
Cheers and Ciao!
Rich blend of spices – sookhi aloo ki sabji
Lot of good things happen in Mahabaleshwar. One of the finest things is – something about that place makes people want to cook.
The kitchen is airy and has huge windows opening out to our kitchen garden. The fact that it’s a biggish sized kitchen also makes it easier to have people milling around and experimenting with various home grown and organic ingredients.
I had my cousin uncle and aunt over. The fact that he is my age does not deter me from calling him uncle. Some childhood habits just don’t get out of your system….
It’s that time of the year again, when our farm in Mahabaleshwar is thriving and blooming. The entire farm is disrupted during the monsoons, which are heavy, non stop and torrential. In fact Mahabaleshwar gets the second highest rainfall in India, next only to Cherrapunji.
Just before the rains are predicted to stop, (and these predictions never come true!), we start planting some seeds in a sheltered area. Once the rains stop, the seeds are now seedlings and can be re transplanted in pots or beds. It’s a lot of work! The soil has to be turned, aired and new top soil has to be spread. Since we plant over almost 2 acres of land, it’s a busy time for all of us.
Seeing the seedlings burst forth into vegetables and flowers is the best thrill and pure fodder for my soul. I love the city but off late ever so often I just want to vacate my senses and vegetate with the vegetation.
This year started with a wild, wild and massive bush of Basil. So much that I did not know what to do with it. I plucked them and got them back to Bombay, still pondering in my head and actually stressing over not wasting this lot. It was fragrant, the leaves heavy with taste. I decided to make Pesto and sell it to my customers.
I came home and experimented with a batch. It was perfect, green and luscious. I bottled it and announced the sale, and it was gone within hours! All the bottles were booked!
Over time, the green becomes pale and dark. So if you want really bright green pesto, make it on the spot and use it. Making it a day in advance allows all the flavours to steep. But if you want to use it as a dip, or in an open sandwich, then make it on the spot.
Basil grows very easily in home cultured pots. And mind you, it can grow wild. Now when you have too much Basil, and your heart is breaking at the wastage, you know what to do with it.
We were all having fondue, and one of our friends did not like the smell of the cheese. So I made Pesto Pasta for her and her husband. I do believe the plate was polished off!!! 😀
I hope you enjoy making this recipe, because there is no better smell than that of, fresh basil, smooth virgin olive oil and fragrant new garlic.
We were in Amritsar recently, and the fresh vegetables caught my friends eyes and she really wished to take some back home.
Alas! We had all shopped so much (and hey! it was cold, we had heavy jackets as well!), that our bags were collectively over weight. My poor bereft friend had to let go of the farm fresh vegetables. But to make things a wee better we had true Punjabi Warian with us.
Many years back I had Matar Ka Nimona at my cousins place. I remember eating bowl fulls much to her delight and finally to her dismay. She was worried I would get an upset stomach!!
This is actually a dish famous in Uttar Pradesh. It is mostly made during the winters when the peas are fresh and juicy. Wadi (Warian is Punjabi) in Uttar Pradesh, is made with fresh white pumpkin, urad dal, and garam masala. It’s dried in the heat of summer and remains intact for the year round.
I made this recipe many times last year. It’s very suitable to the Indian palate. Too alien for foreigners. It goes well with any kind of Indian Roti. Even tastes good with rice.
You can easily avoid the onion and garlic and reduce the spice quotient. But some amount of spice is definitely needed, don’t do away with it totally. I prefer to make this without the onion and garlic.
There is something about this dish, which appeals to me greatly. The mouth feel of the pea paste and a subtle hint of flavour left behind by the cooking wadi, and then of course the wadi itself, along with a soft pillowy taste of potatoes cooked in the simmering gravy. The gravy tends to thicken as it goes, and thickens even more when it’s left till it is consumed. So, adding enough water is essential, and just before serving (if made a little ahead of time) add a little salted water and cook till boiling and serve immediately.
Try and get small fresh peas. That will lend to the dish an inherent sweetness, which when combined with the garam masala of the wadi makes it resonate in your mouth.
My grand mom made the best Chole in the world. It was a hand me down recipe from her mother who was according to me was an un hailed, un acclaimed legendary cook worth atleast a couple of Michelin Stars. Not only did she cook like her hands were blessed by the gods, but she also remembered amongst the dozens of grand and great grand children, who thronged at her home each summer, what each of us loved to eat. Our stomachs and souls were in heaven when at her home. Every morning, no matter how early we woke up, we would find her tinkering in the kitchen, singing bhajans to her beloved Krishna. I asked her one day if she has any recipes written down – and she looked at me like I was asking her if Krishna liked dance music. Every single recipe, and there were thousands in her repertoire, was stored in her head. And not once was there a variation in what we ate. Each and every time over the years the dishes tasted the same – tasty, heartwarming and soul stirring.
My nani, handed me this recipe of Chole, very casually over dinner one day. I scrambled up and wrote it down. Over the years, I have also perfected this recipe with trials and error. And while it still does not taste like how she or her mom made it, it stills holds good on it’s own….
Fondue and a Picnic. That’s what the heading should be! We were in Mahabaleshwar, my friend Nishi and me. Every day, pre-lunch we opened a bottle of Prosecco and made short work of it. We would keep chatting and pouring a small finger worth (for two reasons- one – it felt like we were drinking less, and two – it kept chilled while we drank.)…
The Daughter made another demand — I’m so pleased she has got into cooking! The chef in me feels fulfilled and the mom and me feel happy! 😛
I make this salad very often at home. It needs to be served really really chilled, so it is a good idea to make it a wee bit in advance.
It’s a messy salad though! Be prepared for a white moustache and a few drips down your chin! But it’s worth the dishevelled look you will sport while eating it.
Look for crisp cucumbers with a clean green interior. I always cut off the side of the cucumber and taste it before using it. Sometimes cucumbers can be very very bitter, and even one bitter cucumber in a salad of 20 cucumbers can spoil the entire dish. Taste it and throw it away if its bitter. (You can always chuck it in the compost pile of course!)
The yoghurt should be thick, so hang it for an hour or so if you want. There is zero neatness in this salad, so there really isn’t any right or wrong way to fill it. Slice the spring onions really thin and small. Garlic can be upped as per your taste. To my mind, too much garlic takes away the sweetness of the yoghurt and the original taste of the cucumber.
I add a little of chilli flakes, but you can always add some herbs too – parsley, thyme, oregano. Don’t use very strong herbs. Again – it takes away the original flavours.
The boats can get very wobbly, as the base is rounded. You can slice off a small part of the cucumber from the bottom to make a little steadier base. But – mostly, it will wobble and fall a little to the side, but if the yoghurt is not too drippy things should not slide out and drip into the plate.
I’m attaching a quick video for you.
I hope you enjoy this salad. Do write in.
As always – Cheers! and Happy Times!
Being Indian, and bought up on typical desi meals, Dal has been a staple dish served over lunch and dinner. After years and years of eating dal – Dal tadka, Gujarati Dal, Dal Langarwale, Kaali dal, etc etc, all felt so mundane – so overrated and so damned boring. At some point, I just lost faith in Dal!!
At a wedding recently, I saw the tag read Sailani Dal. Now that sounded completely new and something I had never heard of, let alone eat. I timidly tried a spoon, hoping my boredom towards dal would not bias my taste. My eyes sprang open, and my mouth instantly watered for more. I quickly filled up a soup bowl and made a meal of the dal.
The taste, the different flavours stayed in my mind for the longest time. It’s like one of those right moments when you read, smell or taste something, your senses just inhale it and push it deep into your conscious mind, keeping that memory forever fresh. And at any time when you bring it to your mind, it feels like it happened only a few moments ago.
Completely besotted, I went online for a hunt for the word “Sailani”. What was it? Turns out, it was the Maharaja of Sailana who invented this recipe. The Sailana’s hail from the Indian, Princely State of Madhya Pradesh. They were avid foodies and revamped recipes not only from their hometown but from all over India. In the 1980’s a book of their recipes was published but is no longer available easily.
The dal itself is super easy to make. Even the ingredients are minimal. The recipe calls for Toor (Arhar – Split pigeon peas). I urge you to use the best quality spices while making the Sailani Dal. Eat it with rice, or roti – it’s up to you. But eat it you must-
PS_ dedicating this recipe to my baby girl Kanak, who sits far away in the USA. She had loved this dal when I made it for her. HEY! Kanak – do try this out and send me pictures. KISS KISS!!