Saturday, 22 February 2014

Sweet Defeat is mine

Shevgyachya Shenganche Pithle (Drumstick and Besan Curry)

The writing on my (Facebook) wall this evening:

Can't be bothered to cook ANYTHING.

But the lissom green drumsticks the husband has got from Footscray Market are brandishing themselves ...

And the luscious baingans beg indulgence...

Get up and cook something, Shruti... Sigh...

After a while, I dared say:

I wish someone would cook what I want for me!

I want shevgyacha pithla and bharli vaangi...

Some friends commiserated:

If nothing else, just make mau bhaat (soft rice) and have it with tup ani methkut for now

Don't cook. Make yourself some tea and order out. Watch a good film.

I am sorely tempted:

I think I will do just that! Thanks ladies! - so what to order?? Get up and order something, Shruti... sigh...

Another friend sees my plight:

 Good one Shruti ji....hope at last u ate something ha...ha...

I concede defeat:

I actually got up and made drumstick pithla and baingan fry!!!

The lissom drumsticks and the luscious baingans won! I have no problems conceding defeat! Sweet Defeat is mine!

Shevgyachyache Pithla (drumstick pithla)


2 shevgyachya shenga (drumsticks) cut into 3-4 inch-long pieces
1 small onion, chopped
½ cup gramflour or besan
Salt to taste
2 tbsp ground jeera-khobra (desiccated coconut and lightly toasted cumin, crushed coarsely)
About 3 cups of water
1-2 tbsp oil
A pinch of hing
1 tsp mustard seeds
A large pinch of haldi
½ tsp red chilli powder
2 tbsp chopped coriander to garnish


Heat the oil in a large kadhai and add mustard to splutter. Then add the chopped onion and sauté for a while. Then add the hing, haldi and red chilli powder and sauté for a minute. Then add the cut drumsticks and 2 cups of water and cook on low-medium flame until the drumsticks are tender. Remove the sticks from the water with a slotted spoon. Adjust the water as per your requirement. Then gradually sprinkle the besan, a little at a time, and keep mixing continuously to avoid very large lumps from forming. Small lumps are ok, in fact the pithla tastes better with some small lumps.

Add salt to taste and the jeera-khobra mixture and stir lightly. Introduce the drumsticks back into the pithla. Cover and cook for a short while until you see white steam emanating from the sauce.

Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve hot with rice, bhakri or poli. Goes well with pita bread, too. 

And don’t forget that toop (ghee)!

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Eat the blame

Tomato Chutney for Idly

Someone I know has been waiting for breakfast since 4 am this morning, all showered and ready to wallop idlys at that Godly hour.

Anticipation rising as rapidly and inexorably as the idly batter, that someone, none other than the husband, even woke me up at seven in the morning, fearing I would have a sleep-in Sunday.

Sigh… being a willing, enthusiastic - and I suppose, if I may say so- a good cook, sure has its many minuses…

So not only do I get woken up at an ungodly hour for a Sunday, but also have this crazy impulse to make it a full Monty with idly, sambaar, coconut chutney AND a south Indian restaurant style tomato chutney…

I have only myself to blame for the tomato chutney. But a mistake is a mistake, I think Zen. I don’t have to feel guilty or ashamed …and the husband can eat it the blame, I mean tomato chutney…it’s very tasty. :)

Tomato Chutney for Idly

1 small onion chopped
1 large tomato diced
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp chana dal
1-2 dry red chilly
1-2 green chily
1 tsp minced ginger
4-5 curry leaves
¼ tsp methi seeds
A pinch of haldi
Salt to taste
1 tsp oil

For the tadka/ tempering
1 tsp oil
½ tsp Mustard seeds
A generous pinch of hing


Heat oil in a pan and add the chana dal and methi seeds. As it starts to brown a little, add chillies, curry leaves, chopped onion, ginger and haldi, and sauté for a few minutes. Add the tomato and tomato paste, a little water and let it cook for 6-7 minutes. Turn off heat and grind the chutney when the mixture cools. Remove onto a serving bowl.

Heat a tsp of oil in a small pan, add the mustard seeds and as they begin to splutter, add the hing and turn off heat.

Pour this tadka / tempering over the chutney and serve with idli or dosa. Goes well with pooris or theplas.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Callout Canapés

Lauki Methi Muthiya

I am not sure how it was with you, but when we were kids, we would barely be home from school, when friends would call out to “come to play”.  

We wouldn’t even plan anything really, but somehow we seemed to know instinctively when to gather round our “watering hole”.  Ears to ground would pick up the rumble of Manisha’s Dad’s motorcycle entering the ‘gully’ and Babita would know her friend was home from school.

Dada’s friends would ride their bikes over to their friends homes, sit balanced on bikes with one leg propping them up and the other ready to pedal away at the merest hint of refusal, and “call friends out". If there was no response, or a ‘no’ was the response, they would pedal away to another friend's house and call him out.

We would ravenously gobble up something before we were out of the house-  agreeing over our shoulders without even listening to warnings to be back home before dark.

That ‘something’ would be anything like policha laadu (laddu made out of leftover chapatis and sugar/gur and ghee) or sakharamba / gulamba poli (mango preserve and chapatis) or shikaran poli (banana and milk and sugar with chapati) or poli with kakvi (molasses)… dahi-saakhar – ok, the chapati or poli was the staple fixture.

Unless, of course, Mother made some interesting eats like muthiyas or ‘mutke’, chole or beetroot cutlets. On such days, friends would be invited to come in and have a bite, if they hadn’t already sniffed their way in.

Not that they needed any invitation. Our doors were always open for friends and neighbours, who would walk in and out freely.  On the rare occasion a friend had to knock, the door would be answered to let them in, not to be questioned as to what they wanted or who they were after.

However, knocking was the protocol when we knew intuitively that a particularly difficult parent had to be tackled. 

“Auntie, Auntie, can Babita come to play?”

To this day I don’t understand why we Indians have to use a name twice while addressing someone. Or even when describing or emphasising something.

“ My Uncle has brought nice nice toys for me. Can she come to play – please, please?”

No parent, difficult or otherwise would have the heart to refuse such double entreaties.

The spontaneity of play has now gone the way of the woolly mammoth.

Today’s kids have SMS, Snapchat, Watsap and whatnot to track each other’s whereabouts. Younger kids have play dates organised by parents… these often turn into elaborate almost ritualistic sleepovers…

Actually I am not qualified to talk about this topic, as my experience is now dated. My kids are long gone past this stage and my grandkids are not yet on the horizon…

Imagine my delight on hearing a call out from my past the other day, when my Facebook friend Umita wrote on my timeline, “We're missing you on Facebook. Please come back soonest.”

I have been very busy lately and dealing with a lot more than just work, so busy that for the first time in almost two years of writing the blog, I haven’t posted for nearly a month!  That should explain this sweet solicitation.

But I haven’t busy enough not to allow myself to be utterly delighted by this hark back to my childhood.

So I invite my friends on Facebook and the blogsphere to come in and have a bite of these muthiyas.

And oh, by the way, just as everything has changed, the muthiyas have also donned a modern look and now sport a hip name – Muthiya Canapés.

1 cup grated lauki (bottle gourd) – keep the juice
½ cup chopped fresh methi leaves or 2 tsp Kasuri methi
½ cup besan(chickpea flour)
½ cup jowar (sorghum) flour
½ cup Spelt or atta flour
½ cup yoghurt, slightly sour
1 tsp sesame seeds
½ tsp poppy seeds
1 tsp green chili paste (or more)
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp ajwain (carom seeds)
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
A large pinch of hing (asafoetida)
A pinch of turmeric
A pinch of Eno’s Fruit Salt or cooking soda
1 tbsp oil
½ tsp sugar
Salt to taste
Oil to shallow fry

In a large mixing bowl, mix all the ingredients except the oil and yoghurt. Check and adjust the taste. Then add the oil and yoghurt and mix until it forms a soft but firm dough like texture. 

Sometimes the juice from the lauki is enough to make the dough. If not, use a little some water to get the ingredients into a dough.

Make mediun sized logs with the dough and place them on a greased steamer and steam them for about 20-25 mins.

When cooked, let the logs cool completely. You can store the logs in the fridge or freezer, depending on when you want to use them.

You can serve these muthiyas in different ways. The simplest is to eat them hot with a little oil poured on it.

Or cut the logs into thick slices and toss them lightly in a hot tadka made of oil, mustard seeds, slit green chillies, red chillies, curry leaves and sesame seeds. Garnish with chopped coriander and grated coconut.

You can also add chunks cut out of these steamed logs to a mixed vegetable dish to simulate the muthiyas of undhiyu.

Alternately, if you want to turn them into canapés as shown in the picture for your next ‘do’, shallow fry the slices and once cool, arrange any suitable topping such as potato salad in yogurt or a thick chutney and prop some garnishes on top.