My canvas for food, photography and life.....

I believe that there is a deep association between food and memories.. every recipe has a story behind it...some long..some short....
So grab a cup of coffee, pull a chair and enjoy the little stories that I share with you.....some with recipes.....some without ....

A wonderful poet once said "The universe is not made of atoms ; it's made of stories"... And I couldn't agree more.....

Monday, July 21, 2014

Steaming Hot Veggie Momos

The Mumbai rains continue to bless us with their wonderful showers. And somehow, whenever it rains, everyone here starts craving for some deep fried bhajiyas (fritters). But personally, do you know what I crave for? I crave for some steaming hot momos with some spicy dippings with a piping hot soup or some tea. Its somehow like a mass neuro programming thing. As if it is assumed that everybody is supposed to crave for this deep fried stuff. Weird, huh?

Even when one goes to a movie theatre, again its the same mass programming. Somehow everyone in the entire world, imagine the entire humanity, is supposed to want to eat popcorn while watching a movie. Ok, once and for all, I want to just say it out.. I don't like popcorn! Have you ever asked yourself that question? Do you really like popcorn? :) If the answer is yes, well good for you.
But there are some odd apples like me who don't, so then earlier there would be very limited options for me to eat out there. But now in many of the movie theatres here, you get hot steaming momos and a whole lot of other options. So I am happy! :) Maybe there were some more odd apples who pushed the case.. ;) And my little one enjoys these too. Momos is the one thing, where he readily eats all the visible stuffed veggies without any negotiations at all.. :)

The momos in this particular recipe are made with a mix of millet and whole wheat flour hence the brown covering. Filled with yummy veggies.....Very easy to make.... Doesn't it remind you of the sweet steamed hot modaks? Yeah, the technique is exactly the same but the covering and fillings are very different though...
Ingredients :
For the covering :
2 cups millet flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup water
a pinch of salt
For the filling :
1/2 cup finely chopped cabbage
1/2 cup finely chopped carrots
1/2 cup finely chopped capsicum
1/2 cup finely chopped spring onion
1 tsp five spice powder
1 tsp finely chopped garlic
1 tsp oil
salt to taste
Recipe :
1. Mix all the ingredients for the covering and knead into a soft dough. Keep aside.
2. Take a sauté pan and sauté all the vegetables and garlic in a bit of oil.
3. Mix in the five spice powder.
4. Cook till the vegetables are soft and keep aside for cooling.
5. Make small roundels of the dough and flatten them into small circles.
6. Fill one tsp filling in it and close the covering.
7. Steam the momos for about 7 to 8 minutes and serve piping hot with the dipping of your choice.


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Warm Whole Wheat Bread on a Perfect Rainy Day!!

Whole Wheat and Millet Rosemary Bread.....
What an awesome day today!! The Mumbai rains have finally arrived! It's been raining throughout the day here. It's night now and its still raining. And perfectly, I had to meet some dear mommy  friends for breakfast. And what a perfectly suiting spread! Cups of hot tea, samosas and jalebis! Oh God!! Killer stuff early in the morning on a rainy day! No place in the stomach till dinner though! :)
Sometimes, we underestimate the people that are around us at any point in time. I am so blessed to be living in a place with very wonderful people and all our amazing kids!... who have their own interconnections! :) and in-turn connect us all. Makes you think.... you had to meet these people and help each other on the way. Makes you accept the present with some comfort, solace and see meaning in what's really happening at this point.....
So after breakfast, we picked the kids up after school and the rains still wouldn't stop. The weather was so awesome...totally loving the greenery around and the coolness in the air! I felt so inspired to bake some fresh warm bread... Rains have that inspiring effect, I guess.. makes you want to bake, write, go for a walk... generally feel good about life...
For me, in this season, the wonder for life gets even more increased, when you actually think about how the whole process of rain and clouds formations happens and how different elsewhere it is on earth at the same exact time...It is amazing to just think about it ....makes you want to write a beautiful novel full of such wonderings.... maybe one day. :) Right now, at this point, if I can just focus and be a good mommy to this little one and be a good person that's enough...

If I have sandwiches so frequently, it makes sense to bake my own bread...huh? It's fresh and healthy. Made of a mix of whole wheat and millet (nachni) flour. You can slice it up and put on various toppings of your choice or make a nice big sub-sandwich for yourself..:) Here goes the recipe....
Recipe :
Ingredients :
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup millet flour
1 tsp instant dry yeast
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 th cup water
milk to brush on top
few sprigs of rosemary
Recipe :
1. Mix together millet flour, whole wheat flour, salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl and mix thoroughly.
2. Add in the instant dry yeast and mix properly
3. Mix in the water and thoroughly knead the dough till smooth and soft.
4. Cover with a soft kitchen napkin and keep aside for 2 hours
5. After 2 hours, again knead the dough for a few minutes and keep aside covered for another hour in the bread pan.
6. Top with rosemary sprigs and brush the top lightly with some milk.
7. Bake for 30 minutes and keep for cooling.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cup Brownies

This is one of my favourite recipes. For that matter this is any Mom's favourite recipe. So you have whole wheat flour, bournvita and a chocolate chip mud brownie.. microwaved in 4 minutes!! What more would you want?.... All you have to do is whisk up about 5 to 6  ingredients and microwave them for 4 minutes and that's it! A dream in a cup! Essentially, the ingredients are of a chocolate chapatti.. :) My son loves it and usually I serve it to him with some fruit.. so the cherries. They are not really a part of the recipe but they go well with it. You can even add any raisins, almonds or any nuts that you may want to, in the batter. You can make them in advance and simply microwave it for about 30 seconds, so that its warm and gooey before you eat it.
Make a whole big bunch of small cups and share it guilt free with your friends and neighbours. Spread some love and joy around in your own simple way.
"All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt" ;)
 - Charles M. Schulz
This is again one of the posts, where I simply could not leave out any pictures. To me, all of them are so perfect, slowly bringing out the whole process with such self explanatory that today, I actually did not feel like writing anything at all and taking any attention away from them. It's just pure visual food art... Njoy!!
Here goes......

Ingredients (Makes about 4 small ramekins) :

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tbsp. bournvita
1 tbsp. cocoa powder
4 tsp sugar
2 tsp oil
2 tbsp. cut chocolate chips
1/4 th cup milk

Recipe :
1. Mix together whole wheat flour, bournvita, cocoa powder, sugar, oil and milk.
2. Whisk together till smooth batter. Add more milk if required
3. Divide the batter in ramekins and sprinkle choco chips on top.
4. Microwave for 4 minutes till done.


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Steamed Fenugreek Dumplings in Tomato Sauce

Have you ever eaten this amazing traditional Indian Gujarati dish called Oondiyu? It is simply delicious. It has a whole lot of different vegetables in it. But everyone who has ever had this dish will confess to one thing..... that the best part of this dish are the amazing deep fried Methi (fenugreek) balls in it. :) It's almost like a treasure hunt. Everyone is hunting and digging in the pot to find these yummy nuggets...
So, that's where the inspiration for my dish came from. What if one could just make a healthy dish out of these delicious Methi balls? Not deep fried.... But steamed! How amazing would that be? And how healthy is that!! :) So this dish is more like  "Gnocchi meets Methi Gatta" :). Totally delicious though! I could eat this every other day and the best part is that even the kids love it....Wow! Now a kid eating methi is a dream come true for any Mom! ;)
Methi or  fresh fenugreek leaves are these beautiful greens very easily available all over India. And if you are elsewhere then you would find it in dried form (Kasoori Methi) in the local Indian shops. You can easily use any of the two, fresh or dried in this particular recipe. Also it is extremely flexible you can eat this with any version of bread or rice or even with spaghetti (A veggie version of spaghetti and meatballs). I prefer to stick to my bulgur wheat though..  ;)
The balls are made with a mix of whole wheat flour and semolina...Gnocchi style, but without any egg or any oil in it and then simply steamed in a steamer for a few minutes. I have then simmered them in a basic tomato, onion and garlic sauce but one can simply simmer them for a minutes in a store bought Marinara Sauce too if you are short of time.

Ingredients :
For the steamed dumplings :
1 bunch fresh methi leaves
1 cup whole wheat flour
4 tsp semolina
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp finely cut garlic
1 tsp finely cut green chillies
1/4 cup water for dough consistency
salt to taste
For the tomato sauce :
3 tomatoes
1 onion
2 tsp garlic
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp red chilly powder
salt to taste

Recipe :
For the Methi dumplings :
1. Clean the methi thouroughly and remove the roots and cut only the leaves finely.
2. Mix all the ingredients with the leaves in a mixing bowl and make it into a dough.
3. Make small balls of the dough.
4. Take a steamer and boil water in it.
5. Once the water has started boiling, put some parchment paper on the steamer.
6. Arrange all the balls on the paper and cover and let the steam for about 10-12 minutes.
7. Check if cooked and remove and set aside.
For the sauce :
1. Boil the tomatoes and onions, garlic and ginger.
2. Liquidise the tomatoes, onion, garlic and ginger in a blender.
3. Add few drops of oil in a sauce pan and cook the liquidised tomato puree in it.
4. Add chilli powder, sugar and salt in this and simmer for few minutes.
5. Then add the methi balls in the tomato sauce and let it cook for about 5-7 minutes.
6. Serve with cooked bulgur wheat or any bread of your choice.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Simplicity on a Plate.....

Spicy Pan Fried Brinjal Slices with Whipped Curd, Tomato Jalapenos Chunky Salsa and Bulgur Wheat... Simplicity on a plate.....
It's just four simple components put together in a delicious and a light meal.. Once you have tasted this goodness and the lightness that you feel after eating this.. you will not feel like having anything heavy. You will immediately sense the denseness in your energy and not want to feel like that ever again. As if your soul is now become fully aware and in control of everything and you simply can't hide anything from it and give into temptations..
You know, I have been thinking a lot about why my food preferences have changed like this ..overnight and so naturally. And it all boils down to how my body and heart feels about it. I am not trying to advocate actively any way of eating. It's entirely up to you and your preferences. Even for me too, becoming a complete vegan is not yet on my radar. I still need my curd and latte coffee. So, in a way it's about just simply listening to your body. It's a part of holistic way of living. If you truly believe that everything is made of energy then it will slowly percolate in every aspect of your life...the way you interact with others, the way you think, the way you eat too...It's just a conscious way of living. So every time I eat, somehow consciously, a thought enters my mind.. Do I really need to eat this? Does my body really need this? How will I feel after eating this?
"The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions."
 - Ralph Waldo Emerson
So driven by the need to find out what is exactly happening to me, I was researching several articles on why a person's food habits can change so drastically. I came across several articles on vegetarianism and karma and negative energy and toxicity. And all of them made total sense to me. And then, I came across this article on how eating vegetarian food helps to increase your vibrations and then in that particular article there was a debate about whether sea food can be a part of this or not. And that got me thinking....Ever since I was very young, like most kids, I was extremely fascinated by dolphins and the other day co-incidentally, I was reading up on some research done on dolphin consciousness.
Did you know that dolphins have a very well developed consciousness? Extensive studies have been conducted on this subject and many parallels were found to human consciousness. It seems that they may share human's ability to reflect upon, monitor and regulate their states of mind. Not only that, they have the ability to recognise their loved ones through a unique signature whistle that each dolphin possesses. They respond and communicate with each other through this system of their signature whistles. They even call out to each other when they are separated. It is simply amazing!
Now begins the part where you wonder, what does all this have to do with me and food? Then a thought comes to my mind...would I eat this gentle being...who calls out to and recognises his loved ones, grieves and communicates? No, definitely not! Would I eat this cute little pet goldfish that I have in a fish bowl? No, not him too!! Then how come I could be OK to eat anything midsized in between, without thinking, just because of my conditioning?? Whoops!!  Once this thought crosses your mind, you can never be the same again! Never was I more convinced that I am on the right path and I should listen to my body and my thoughts and they do guide me correctly in every way possible. And it is not easy, people around you may call you rigid, but come to think of it, it is they who are being rigid by wanting you to eat that stuff and not allowing you the freedom to choose consciously....Live and Let Live!! Literally!
So again, just to be clear, I am not trying to preach any particular way of eating out here. I am simply penning down my own journey which I myself find so intriguing, as if I am observing it all happening from a third person point of view.
Coming down to our dish for the day :) it truly is simplicity on a plate. The star of the meal though are the pan fried brinjal slices marinated in a mint and chilli chutney. And then the plate is put together with some smooth whisked curd, a chunky salsa made of tomatoes, onions and jalapenos and then ofcourse my dear bulgur wheat. Here goes the recipe.....

Ingredients  and Recipe:

For Spicy Brinjal Slices :

1 medium sized brinjal
1/2 cup mint leaves
2 green chillies
juice of half lemon
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp oil for shallow pan frying

Recipe :

1. Cut the brinjal in roundels
2. Make a chutney by mixing together mint, green chillies and lemon juice in a blender till it becomes a smooth paste.
3. Marinate the brinjal slices with the mint chutney, turmeric powder and red chilli powder.
4. Shallow fry the brinjal roundels in very less oil in a pan till fully cooked and slightly crispy.

For Salsa :

1 tomato finely chopped
1 onion finely chopped
2 tsp jalapenos finely chopped
1/2 tsp black pepper powder
1/2 tsp tomato ketchup
few basil leaves

Recipe : Mix together all the ingredients finely and keep aside.

For bulgur wheat :

1 cup bulgur wheat
1 and 1/2 cup water

Recipe : In a vessel put the bulgur wheat and the water. Put it on heat and cook for about 8-10 minutes

For Whipped Curd :

1/2 cup curd
1/2 tsp sugar
salt to taste

Recipe : Mix all the ingredients and whip together till smooth.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Cumined Bulgur Wheat with Mixed Soy Vegetables....

Yeah, So here, I'm back. I have come to realise one thing about me...I have to keep cooking and baking! Whether I have a daily cook or not, whether I get paid for it or not, whether my day requires me to do ten other things or not....I just have to keep doing this for my own well-being. And how lucky am I, that I can use it for the health benefits and pleasure of people around me too!!
Funny as it may sound, Cooking, to me is not so much about eating at all.... but it is about creating something with my full being, however simple it may be. If I stop doing that, then everything around me starts slowly getting affected. Generally people misunderstand that if you like to cook, then it is assumed that you must be a big foodie or eater too. But these are two different things and should not be mixed up at all. Creating and consuming are two completely different activities. And when we mix them up we go down the tracks. I completely understand when chefs do all work and simply just pass on the plates to the counter. That itself is a complete act. I remember my Mom would create all these awesome dishes and feed everyone and when it would be her time to eat, she would herself be eating some curds, raitas and some tiny portions of stuff. So, what I am trying to say here, is that just because my relationship with what I eat has changed dramatically....I cannot stop cooking and appreciating the smells, aromas, colours and textures and capturing them in pictures, letting it out in the universe to all the amazing readers...spreaded across God knows which part of the world!! Thanks to Google!! I cannot stop doing all that. I have also come to realise that blogs have their own energy.The Stats will simply amaze you.. even if you have been away and absolutely inactive for the longest time...They go on....
So coming back to food, you will mostly find veggie stuff out here, from now onwards, unless I cook something else for somebody in the family. Thankfully, the family has been extremely supportive with whatever changes that I go through and in the choices that I am required to make for it. Like I said, the higher self of everyone knows everything and is helpful and is knowingly a part of each other's journey. So nowadays I eat really simple stuff with loads of veggies and pulses and beans. Thankfully, I stay in India so being a vegetarian gives me a whole lot of variety to choose from. I have become that person who goes to McDonalds and eats McAloo Tikki!!! :) Can you beat that!! Bye Bye to my dear Filet-O-Fish and Tuna Subs!! Sometimes I can't believe it myself and the best part is that it has been so effortless! :)
Last few months, my dinner has been usually a toasted sandwich with different vegetables with a cup of coffee and my lunch is usually some veggies or pulses with bulgur wheat (daliya/lapsi). To me, bulgur wheat has been my ultimate find. Most satisfying and fulfilling. I don't eat any chapatis or white rice or brown rice anymore. I am done with that. I just don't feel like it. But I love my bulgur wheat!! Sometimes when someone calls home for dinner or lunch, I secretly want to carry my own box of bulgur wheat with me!! :) I won't be surprised if Vanilla Bites..becomes Bulgur Bites soon.. ;)
You will find it in most Indian or Middle Eastern grocery shops. It is cooked just like rice but the texture is a little nuttier than rice. More like couscous. It is extremely fulfilling and the best part is its versatility. You can eat it along with any kind of preparation. I even eat it with a thai curry or any spicy curry made whichever style or simply with some whipped curd. Trust me, I have even eaten this with sambar, curd, papad and pickles and it is most delicious. Even a single serving of it is very filling. Nutritionally, it falls in the whole grain category which means that it contains the endosperm, germ and bran of wheat. So essentially it is a great source of protein, fibre and iron.
So, today I made simple mixed vegetables in garlic, ginger and soya sauce and cumined bulgur wheat. It is a very quick, light and a wholesome meal made in under 15 minutes. Here goes..
Ingredients : 
For Mixed Ginger, Garlic and Soy Vegetables :
2 cups Chopped Vegetables (carrots, broccoli, babycorn, Capsicum)
1 table spoon finely chopped ginger
1 table spoon finely chopped garlic
3 table spoon dark soya sauce
1/2 tsp black pepper powder
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp red chilli sauce
1/2 tsp oil
salt to taste
For Bulgur Preparation :
1 cup bulgur wheat
1 and 1/2 cups water
1/2 tsp cumin seeds

Recipe :
For Mixed Vegetables :
1. Take a saute pan and put the oil  in it.
2. Then add ginger and garlic and sauté for a minute.
3. Then add all the chopped vegetables and stir and sauté for about 5 to 7 minutes on high heat.
4. Add soya sauce, pepper, sugar, chilli sauce and salt and mix it well.
5. Add a few drops of water if you feel it is getting too dry.
6. Cook for about 5 minutes more and serve.
For Bulgur wheat :
1. Take a vessel and put the bulgur wheat and cumin in it.
2. Add water in it and then put the vessel on the gas.
3. Cook for about 8 minutes and serve.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Sweet Steamed Modaks

So here goes... the sweet steamed modaks for the Ganesh festival .... not bad huh? Modaks are basically sweet steamed dumplings with the outer covering made of rice flour and the filling inside made of coconut, jaggery, saffron and elaichi essence. And I couldn't stop myself from adding my ever favourite cinnamon to make them my own. This is the first time I ate modaks with a different level of consciousness :) Ofcourse who wouldn't after toiling over them till late night!! :) But I loved every bit of it. Once you get a hang of it. You get into the flow of it...and it becomes effortless. 

Let me admit though that modak making is not something that is very new to me. It was a ritual that I have been a part of since childhood. The festival was celebrated at my mother's side of the family and on the morning of the Ganesh Chaturthi day all the women of the family, my mother's sisters and sister in laws and my cousins and my sister-in-laws would sit around in a big circle on the ground with the rice dough and the coconut filling in the middle and happily chat away while merrily making the modaks together. We little girls (at that time :)) were also given a bit of dough and some filling to try our hands at . But it was more of just a play dough thing for me.. not to be taken too seriously.. But our far from perfect attempts were also highly appreciated. One person was assigned the task of steaming them and would take them back and forth in the kitchen and steam them. Only after all the modaks were done..the prayers would begin..  followed by an elaborate traditional lunch.. The menu was fixed and it tasted super yummy especially on that day. This continued every single year and  this predictability gave a great sense of warmth and comfort to all of us....My mother was the youngest of all her siblings and had a special place in everyone's heart. And she was always super excited about this day and her absence gets amplified to the highest possible degree on this occasion especially at that place. Incidentally, it is also her birthday today...followed by my father's birthday after a gap of a day. It used to be a big birthday week for both sides of our family. How many things can a person keep running away from? Sometimes your own subconscious mind just has enough of being lost and smacks you awake.. and you wonder, what just happened? and you slowly begin to see everything with new eyes....

They say... Lord Ganesha is the lord of new beginnings.. and I am glad that guided by my little angel.. I could take a fresh canvas this year and create a new picture for him....... :)

 Ingredients (Makes about 20):
500 gms rice flour
2 and 1/2 cups water
2 cups grated fresh coconut
1/2 cup jaggery
2 tsp saffron and elaichi essence
1 tsp cinnamon powder
2 tsp water mixed with 2 tsp oil
Recipe :
For the dough :
1. Heat 2 and 1/2 cups water.
2. Put the rice dough in a large mixing bowl and mix the hot water in it slowly.
3. Gently mix and knead the dough to a rolling consistency. Add more water if required.
For the Filling
1. Take a wok and mix together coconut, jaggery, cinnamon powder and the saffron and elaichi essence.
2. Turn on the gas and roast this for about 15 minutes. There is no need to add any oil or ghee. The jaggery will slowly melt and make the mixture a bit moist. Turn off the gas and let this cool to room temperature. You can make it 3-4 days in advance and store in the refrigerator.
For assembling :
1.Make small balls of the rice dough and roll them in small circles. Put the filling inside and shape them into the modaks either by hand or by the moulds. While doing this you can use the water and oil mixture to moist your hands and the mould.
2. Steam these in a steamer for about 6-8 minutes and serve hot with ghee.