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.

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