The Paneer Parantha

Best paneer is not from the market, it is from the kitchen. Prepare by curdling the boiling milk (with vinegar). Draining the liquid, squeezing through a thin cloth and pressing with some weight.

If you do not know the process, experiment a little. You can not go wrong, no-one till date has gone wrong.

Now you have paneer, think about all the other stuff you like, ajwain (carom, Bishop’s weed), salt, red chillies, onion. Add them to the crumbled paneer. Use this stuff as a filling. May use cilantro for visuals and aroma. Up-to you. Green chilly, same remark applies.

Whole wheat dough, take a ball, and use the filling. Lift the sides and cover itself. Roll a nice flat circular chapati out of this.IMG_20150924_170412 IMG_20150924_173557 IMG_20150924_173606 IMG_20150924_173619

Place this on the hot griddle, bake one side, flip over, bake on the other side. NOW….only now paste a little oil on this side. Flip over, repeat the oil application. Keep a spatula to press the parantha (after oil application, chapati becomes parantha).

If pressed properly, on the right places, and the gods in heaven benign, it may even puff up. Even if it does not, it is delicious to look at and heavenly to eat.

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Butternut Squash curry Indian Style, Little oil

IMG_20150910_154852 IMG_20150910_154900 IMG_20150910_154920 IMG_20150910_155059 IMG_20150910_155104 IMG_20150910_155254 IMG_20150910_155307 IMG_20150910_155856

I had a small Butternut squash and I thought about cooking it. We in India generally use pumpkin for preparing curry, well, same family, so why not. And when Halloween is so near.

In Dehradun city, North India, in 1987, we used to eat at some restaurants who prepared a delectable dish with pumpkin a little sweet and sour, and a bit mushy, I tried to recreate my fantasy.

So peeled and cored the squash, as you see and cut in small pieces. I took two tomatoes and peeled them (tomato skin left in curry is loosely hanging around and shreds are conspicuous by their presence). Tomatoes should be felt, no seen. I cut the tomatoes in small pieces, and kept an inch of ginger whole ungrated (my grandkids do not like ginger shreds on their palate but fragrance of ginger ok. I wanted to add some Cayenne Pepper, but avoided again because young children were involved. In go two cloves of garlic beaten to submission, but left intact.

So, out comes a cooker, heated and with a little canola oil (canola is Canadian Mustard). Added fenugreek seeds to splutter, and then added the squash and tomato pieces. Pumpkin is always made with addition of Fenugreek, not regular Cumin in North India, don’t ask me why. I never asked my mother. And now I can not….she is smiling from above.

I added one teaspoon of turmeric concentrate, a little brown sugar (sweet variety….not the drug), turmeric powder and salt. cooked it under pressure, but no whistle. Too delicate for that. I decided to cool the cooker under tap after a while. All was guesswork. I love to take risks in the kitchen.

Ended with a little curry powder, (garm masala) and a hint of EVOO for the kids. I am sorry, I in a hurry did not take the photo of the hot stuff and its cold now. having been in the fridge last half an hour that I am typing.Squash curry

So little was left over, I am delighted.

If nk (that is me) can cook, so can you. Do not be afriad to take risk (in the kitchen). Never.

Indian Bread Again

Roti….chapaati 101,

The basics

Presumably, the dough making is not a rocket science, but rolling chapati and cooking first on a griddle and then on a flame is/maybe. Hence photographs. Some cooks add flours of other grains in wheat flour. Some cooks prefer a stiffer dough, my preference is for a softer dough, which gives softness to the bread. Some cooks insist that the dough should rest a while, at least 30 minutes, I prefer it not to rest at all, and love the dough that way. Again North Indians prefer to have coarse flour.

My rolling pin has ball bearings and makes it easy, and fun thing to roll. I do not wash it, only scrub with the back of a knife for any sticking dry dough. Always wash my hands CLEAN before touching flour or dough. No rings in the finger is a good policy. Alternately I do not touch flour or dough by hand. Use a spoon. Even for making small balls, I use a spoon, take a small portion and start rolling, untouched by hand till then.

Feel motivated to try your hand? GA (go ahead, old telex lingo)

Dough ready to be rolled
Dough ready to be rolled
Rolling Zero
Rolling Zero
Rolling 2
Rolling 2
Rolling1
Rolling1
Removing from Marble plate to the griddle
Removing from Marble plate to the griddle
On the HOT Griddle
On the HOT Griddle
Ready to Flip
Ready to Flip
Flipped/Cooking on the other side
Flipped/Cooking on the other side
Cooking directly on the flame
Cooking directly on the flame
Cooking on the flame
Cooking on the flame

Indian Bread

Roti….chapaati 101,

The basics

To understand how to prepare Indian Bread or Roti, or chapaati, (it is nearly same, but each home has a little different version). It is circular by convention, and flat and thin. It is made of whole wheat flour, a little coarse in North, and fine in other states, some use all purpose flour. Coarse flour absorbs more water and cooks slowly, less contact area on the griddle, simple physics. A Gujaraati bride’s skill is tested by the thin-ness of her chapaati! Ghee applied on one side should appear on the other by permeation.

Three steps (“Small step for you, but long steps for mankind”, said Neil Armstrong)!

1. The dough….Never think you can’t do, because you can. Take whole wheat flour, and water, and a thick large spoon or a similar object (for mixing and maneuvering), which you can manage. A large Pan with elevated sides will help. Add flour and add water, very playfully, and enjoy mixing the two with your spoon or whatever you chose. You may end up with a slurry, but don’t you worry. You may end up with the flour getting all over you, it is edible and washable stuff!

If too thick, add a little more water, if slurry like, add flour. In India a USD buys you 4 lbs of best flour, you can surely play with it and if you can’t get a plastic clay consistency by end of the day, discard it, feed to the cow, wash your hands and be happy again. We will try another day.

I am sure you will get it, because Robert Bruce got it, oh, that is another story.

2. Preparing the thin round form…..The rolling pin and a slab are your instruments. Take a part of your clay and roll it with the pin anywhichway, till it is flat and thin. Keep on adding dry flour on top and bottom, more like the Sumo wrestlers’ ritual. Try it, you will love it. Roll it thin, and more thin. If it looks like Australia, it is OK, if it looks like a football, American or Indian, you get a B+.

We want to cook it and eat it, not keep it in Smithsonian, you got the point.

3. Cooking on the concave griddle (tawaa)…….Lift the flat, circular (or whatever) thin soft piece of art, and with a flourish, transfer to a hot griddle. Not cold, and not burning hot, mildly hot, so that Roti takes a while getting cooked, it will change color, it will tell you when to flip it with a tong (chimta) to cook on the other side.

3A. Cooking on the flame, or hot plate……..This part is as easy or as difficult as you make it. Indian mothers insist that if their d-in law can not manage to have an all puffed up Roti….it is time for harakiri (mother in law or d-i-l, I don’t want to know). Do not let it deflate your ego one bit if you can not get it. Smithsonian is NOT waiting for your flying saucer!

Again, my advise is not to allow anyone to advise you, you can improve your own game by playing. Here there are no opponents, If you are able to eat it, it is a good roti. Send me your photos, I mean your Roti’s photos, I will send you mine. Meanwhile look at the tools of the trade.

To mix flour and water
To mix flour and water
Water jug
Water jug
Rolling pin and the marble base
Rolling pin and the marble base
Tong (chimtaa) tuning fork style
Tong (chimtaa) tuning fork style
Concave Griddle
Concave Griddle

Indian cooking, with no oil

IMG_20150511_211240Cooked French beans with carrots and potatoes in a North Indian “Sabzi” to be eaten with chapatis.

The Carrot is an “English” carrot lighter than the Indian variety, and is less juicy and less sweet, it does not get squished. hence preferred.

This has no oil added and is a pretty simple dish to prepare. all the time taken is in dicing one carrot, potatoes (two medium), and a pound of beans with ends clipped. I like my vegetables washed and skinned (pesticides reside in the skin….so do the vitamins and minerals…but…) Everything cut small for ease of cooking. Time taken in winters and in summers are different, ambient in summers is 32C in kitchen, and in winters 10C. So after the Pressure cooker emits first whistle and we switch off the gas on the stove, the remnant cooking in winters is not that prolonged as in summer, you got the point! I also chose to add two diced tomatoes.

Loaded the French beans, potatoes, carrot and tomatoes in a three liter cooker and added 50ml or so water. Also a little turmeric, two chopped green chillies, chopped ginger, some coriander powder, and a little salt. Closed the lid, waited for the whistle and switched off the gas immediately after the whistle.

Garam masala (Curry powder) and lemon juice (a tea spoonful) was added after the pressure in the cooker had come down on its own, that is the cooking time. Tomatoes juices mixed with the 50 ml water, and the coriander gives the dish the required “body”. I did not add any onion, garlic, or cilantro leaves, because they overpower the delicate aroma of the beans.

Aroma unfortunately does not travel on the internet circuit. Sirf ehsaas hai ye rooh se mahsoos karo. I am sorry, even ehsaas and rooh can not be effectively translated in English language.

“Season it, and season it again” my favorite chef says. I love those guys who love to cook, simply by feel. It is heavenly. Ever seen an accomplished artist painting by measurements. The scale is for school kids. Same is true for kitchen, scale is for the novice. What says thou?  I taste the beans, adjust the seasoning, and taste it again. Heavenly!

English carrot
English carrot

HAPPY MOTHERS DAY

Amazon is celebrating Mothers’ Day, next Sunday the 10th May, with offers, and inviting people to purchase goodies for their moms. Whatever you love your mom for, or whatever you remember most about her. Gifts to remind her of those moments you cherish.

Noble thought!

Dad being mom

I found this really touching.

DELHI ROADS, 80db+ NOISE LEVEL

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These plugs are life saving devise for anyone who travels by an auto rickshaw (we Delhiwallahs call it a “three wheeler”. Good plugs cut out the noise substantially. The tired feeling after 20 kms of travel is mainly because of the noise.

You get to your destination fresh. Half of the noise is due to your own “Three Wheeler” 🙂

Another life saver is a gas mask…………the exhaust pipe of buses and trucks are designed to belch their output directly into the three wheeler, and your driver manages to keep it that way, for fun and kicks.

Our obsession with HARD work

An Old Story

Long ago, a TV set (Black and White) used to cost Rs 2000, three months’ salary of a person, equivalent to Rs 100,000. in today’s money terms!

My cousin used to repair B&W TVs. One Sunday I accompanied him on a service call. It was a truck driver’s house. F90+ temperature, daytime. Brijesh opened the TV from behind. Tried all the tricks, his ustaad had taught him. After half an hour he was as clueless as he was in the first 5 minutes. He was sweating, so was I. The host’s wife offered us some cold drink. Brijesh concluded that the trouble with the set was more serious than what he thought.

I thought the owner would be shouting at us for being untrained and useless. He looked at us, sweating, and complimented Brijesh for trying so hard. He even paid him fifty bucks. I learned my lesson.IMG_20141007_0014

Our obsession with size

Lets hear the moms talking in the old and new scenarios:
  • उसका बेटा कितना छोटा है और दिन में चार रोटी खाता है, तू दो भी नहीं खाता.(Her young son eats four Roti, you don’t eat even two)
  • मैं बेटे के लिए भेजती हूँ पांच किलो घी  हॉस्टल में, एक महीने में कुछ तो खायेगा ना. (I send four Kg butter-fat in a month to my son)
  • उसने एक मिलियन का लिया था, अब उसको बेच दिया और कैलिफ़ोर्निया में ही बड़ा घर ले लिया है. (He sold his one million house, and got another one in CA, USA.)

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In the office scene:

What is your order-booking till now, I have exceeded 300 million?

His cubicle is not as large as Patel’s

Featured image

Our organization is Rs 70,000 crores, there are 60,000 employees!

I have 1500 sq foot house, with a large yard behind, and three baths.

footfalls, eyeballs, branches, (Big bazaar-Pantaloon) space after next expansion, all excite us.

Planted 30000 saplings on the Green Day (how many lasted one year?)

Even wettest place, yes wettest place, highest peak (we think Nepal is India, try telling that to the Nepalese), longest day, biggest glacier, hottest chilli mirchi (as if we manufactured them!)

size size size size size

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We Indians are obsessed with bigger, longer, higher, costlier.

Like what my friend Dinesh said there is a defective gene somewhere in the South Asian race, that prompts us to talk more about size than quality. I would guess there is a co-relation with heart disease somewhere. “His parents both lived to 90 years of age (and made everyone around them miserable!)”. The successful among us work 14 hours a day (solving crosswords). Maximum number of open heart operations by one doctor (how many were unnecessary?).

Did we ever talk quality? Were five Pandavas better than 100+1 Kauravas? Whom would you chose, the Ekta Kapoor assembly line of dramas, or Shoojit Sarkar’s rare cinema? Did we ever celebrate a Warren Buffet, who lives in a small house, drives a small car and gives 24 billion (yes billion, not million) to charity! Why? There are such people who are not obsessed with this longer and stronger stuff, but they are a minority.
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Freud the great would have winked reading the subject of this blog; and you?