GaNpati Bappa Morya…

Naivedya : Malai Modak

My favorite Deity is celebrating his birthday today.

I am missing Bombay, I am missing Wadala Math and Krida Mandir and more than that I am missing my family. Even with loud music blaring from speakers and all the vargani politics in Bombay, this festival rocks!

Happy Ganesh Chaturthi, Happy Chavathi, Everyone!

On the day before Chavathi, we have Gauri/VaiNa pooja.

Vaina Pooja 2007

A humble coconut goes from a hard nut to a beautiful woman’s face. All of the dried husk from its shell are removed. In fact, I actually take a knife and scrape on the hard shell to make it as smooth as possible. Each family takes pride in how smooth they can make the coconuts surface. The three “eyes” of the coconut become its face. The top two are applied “KaJaL” to signify its eyes while the bottom one is applied “Shindor” to imply the mouth/lips. The “Shindoor” is orange powder and different from the ” KumKum” which is red. ‘Gaandh’, sandalwood paste is applied in between the “eyes” to signify the ‘bindi’ ( and the ‘Savashini’-married not widowed status). Kumkum is applied on top of the “Gaandh’ and a flower on top of the coconut making the transformation to a ‘Savashin’ complete. At the end of the pooja and just before the aarti, a little ‘diva’ is replaces the flower turning the ‘Savashini’ into gauri/vaiNa. After the pooja, each of the VaiNa is distributed to all the ‘savashin’ females of the house.

Till tomorrow people…

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[Sigh].. Another Change of look.

Yes, yes. I changed my theme. AGAIN.

Let me know how you guys like this one. Lot of you guys had trouble finding recipes in the earlier theme. Now you will find them all on the right side bar. And yes, I promise to update the recipe page. Geez, you guys are making me work!

Also, the RSS links are right below the blog header for your convenience.

I hope things go smoother with this. Cos I really like this one.

Relevant post coming up soon.

The Patholi Pictorial.

This summer I finally did what I had been planning for a long time. I pushed some fresh turmeric root into a pot of soil and prayed. In a classic manifestation of “ask and ye shall receive”, I received. Each of the root turned into a beautiful plant, having at least 10 leaves each. Though the leaves were nowhere near the size that one would get in an Indian market during this season, it didn’t matter because I had the leaves and that means that I could finally make some Paan Patholi.

Patholi is essentially Coconut+Jaggery mixture in rice+coconut paste steamed in turmeric leaves. It is a Konkani specialty and is usually made during Nagpanchami which is when I made these. The magic in this comes from the leaves. It is all about the leaves in fact. They are not just the pot holder here. They impart a very subtle taste to the rice paste during the steaming process that cannot be replicated by any alternative. Well, Banana leaves can be used but it would be a different taste. Good, but not the same. And the aroma, Oh the aroma, to die for. Not before eating a steaming hot patholi, though.

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Turmeric Plants in my patio Garden

For the past four years, I made the patholi in parchment papers in the absence of the turmeric leaves. Shilpa has a great post on that.

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Leaves washed and wiped clean

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Trimmed and lined for the magic

And the magic happens so.

For the rice paste,

Soak

1 cup raw rice

for 1-2 hours. Grind the rice with

1 cup poha/flattened rice
2-3 tbsp of grated fresh coconut
1/2 tsp of Jaggery, grated
salt, a pinch

with as little water as possible,till it forms a smooth paste. With my blender the way it is, I had to add more water and ended up making it more watery than it is upposed to be. It didn’t hurt the end product, but it was messy applying it to the leaf. This paste needs to be not runny at all. You should be able to scoop it up with your fingers and smear it on the leaf, in the leaf’s shape without the paste running over. Once done, keep aside.

For the stuffing,

Mix, slightly crushing it to release the coconut and jaggery juices,

1 cup Fresh coconut gratings
3/4 cup Jaggery gratings
2-3 Cardamom Pods, crushed and powdered

Let the stuffing begin. Line the leaves on a clean table/counter top. Hold the tip of the leaf with your left hand, scoop some of the paste with your right hand and apply the rice paste, starting at the mid vein of the leaf. Start working outwards to follow the shape of the leaves. The hand instructions reverse if you are left-handed, of course. The paste should be applied in as thin a layer as possible without the green of the leaf coming through.Repeat for all leaves.

Wash hands. Have the steamer ready with the water boiling. Scoop the stuffing and put it on the mid-vein of the leaf in a thin line. This is so that when the leaf is folded over, the stuffing is exactly in the middle and the thin line makes sure that the stuffing does not overflow. When the jaggery melts during the steaming, it will start spreading towards a wider surface area.

Fold one side of the leaf over the other length-wise. Press ever so lightly around the periphery of the leaf, so that paste sticks together. Steam for 10-12 minutes till the kitchen smells of all things wonderful. You will know, you will just know.

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Paste applied and stuffing layered on the leaf.

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The leaves folded over the stuffing and ready for steaming

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The patholis steaming away to glory in a traditonal steamer. This is called the ‘peDavaNa’ and was a gift from my mother. A more traditional steamer would have been made of ‘pithili’ (brass, I think).

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A Patholi uncovered and ready to be devoured.

Believe what I say and don’t believe my camera. The photograph does not do justice to the magic that is patholi.

My entry to JFI-Rice, over at Sharmi’s Neivedyam, and RCI-Karnataka at Asha’a Foodies Hope.

Turns out to be a excellent entry to Green Blog project-Summer 2007 over at Deepz, too.

UPDATE Aug 31 :

Just wanted to clarify that you do not eat the actual leaf. You peel the leaf off a steamed patholi, and just eat whats inside. At this point, the leaf has already given all of its magic to the patholi. The actual dish is the steamed rice + coconut paste with the sweet stuffing inside.

The different names for this sweet in various regional cuisines,

Konkani – Patholi
Kannadiga – Genesale
? – Paangi

Aloo Broccoli

Once in a while. you want to try something different. Steer away from the everyday and jazz things up a little. Change the routine and surprise yourself. Take a detour from the simple foods that you have no recipe for, the ones where you just put a few things together subconsciously. Then there are the times where you just want to clear out the fridge.

Aloo-Gobi (Cauliflower) is a no-brainer for anyone who cooks Indian – any region. I am sure that every one of us has tried a variation of this with broccoli. My first attempt at this, I realised that I (& the family) prefer broccoli that is lightly spiced. For all its similarity in looks to the cauliflower, the broccoli has a more pronounced flavor, chlorophyll will do that to you. IMO, less is more where this pretty vegetable is concerned. My second attempt at Aloo-Broccoli was one based on the upkari-vegetables cooked konkani style with mustard seeds and a sole dry Red chilli-I changed the spices a liitle bit. It worked great and is our most favored way to eat broccoli. When more pressed for time or when trying to add healthy sides in our lunch boxes, I microwave-steam the broccoli florets with salt in a covered plate for about 3 minutes. Toss with a little bit of olive oil to coat. Pack it and feel like a domestic goddess for the rest of the day for giving a side in the lunch boxes, healthy one to boot. I give baby carrots this treatment too.

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Recipe

In a 10″ frying pan, take

2 tbsp of Peanut oil

warmed till the oil forms ripples, add-in quick succession-

Turmeric/tumeric/haldi-a pinch
Red Chilli Flakes – to taste, I prefer to be generous here
2 Medium potatoes, cubed

Stir to coat, cover and lower heat to medium low to cook till the potatoes are halfway cooked, about 4-5 minutes. Shake the covered pan in between to make sure they don’t stick. As soon as the potatoes are halfway cooked, add

1 cup of broccoli florets, trimmed
Black Pepper, ground, to taste
Salt, to taste

Normally, I mention salt to taste and leave it at that. But here, I would like to specify that when working with minimal flavors such as in this case, take care not to under-salt it. It also goes along without saying that you shouldn’t over-salt it. Stir gently to mix, cover and cook for another 2-3 minutes till the broccoli softens just enough. Serve with rotis or as a side with rice and Bendi/dal/curry.

The Call for puri…answered.

All inmates, please gather around. Madam has announced a puri party for all bloggers. And when ever Madam beckons, we must follow. What other choice do we have? For at risk is another post from her highness with a long, angry and totally appropriate rant and no recipe at the end. We don’t want to go through that again. And so, we must mix and we must knead and we must roll and we must deep-fry and then try to gulp down those deep fried goodness dipped in some bhaji. It is not going to be easy but we have to do it. It is for the greater good after all.

And so my family did something that they usually go through only once a month. They sat down for a puri- bhaji breakfast. The sacrifices they make for this food blogging world that I have entrenched myself into brings a ache to my heart. Or it just might be all that peanut oil. I will never know. So here goes, Anita, all for you and your son and your cat.

Poori bhaji

Now, puri with the potato bhaji is breakfast, but puri with anything else is dinner at my house. don’t ask me why. It is how it has always been and how it will always be. The spouse just enjoys his puri dipped in coffee. I need the bhaji with it and there are rigorous training sessions with my kids to make sure they like their puris just like mom does. It is working on the son, not on the daughter. Traitor!

And now as I am helping myself to the cooled puris off my plate, what with the photographs and all, I am thinking maybe Anita’s rants are not all bad. If fact, Anita, I think you should have more of these. Let the anger out baby and let’s Party!!!

Happy Independence Day!

Happy Independence day to all my readers. India celebrates 60 years of Independence today. Having enjoyed 30 years of that myself, all I can say is, I am very grateful.

We all read and heard about the famous speech Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru made on midnight, August 1947. The full speech is a revelation, it is not the fist-pumping, we-did-it, the-battle-is-over speech. It recognizes the work ahead, that the battle has not been won, it has just started. We won our freedom, now we need to keep it. It is hope and it is joy. I love reading this speech especially the first two paragraphs which I reproduce here.

Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity.

At the dawn of history India started on her unending quest, and trackless centuries are filled with her striving and the grandeur of her success and her failures. Through good and ill fortune alike she has never lost sight of that quest or forgotten the ideals which gave her strength. We end today a period of ill fortune and India discovers herself again. The achievement we celebrate today is but a step, an opening of opportunity, to the greater triumphs and achievements that await us. Are we brave enough and wise enough to grasp this opportunity and accept the challenge of the future? [link]

Click on the link to read the full text. Wiki has the full text of the speech , too. From wiki, I found this link which recounts the writings of an American woman who actually witnessed the Indian Flag go up on 15th August, 1947.

“the multitudes had gathered as far as the eye could see in the two-mile long parkway approach to the Secretariat, on tops of buildings, in windows, on cornices, in trees, perched everywhere like so many birds. The raising of that first flag was the single most thrilling experience of the entire celebration …. The first who spotted it pointed like eager childen; others … looked up and tried to push their way to a vantage point so they too could see this miracle. For a few minutes there was almost a subdued hush over the whole crowd; then a soft bass undertone slowly swelled until, perhaps when the flag reached the top,… there was a breathtaking roar of cheering, shouting, and excited cries which others said penetrated to the hall inside and made their spines tingle. While I was being stirred by the sheer power and grandeur of the spectacle,… the Indians either stood mute, immersed in their own overwhelming thoughts, or were shouting almost uncontrollably. It was a grand emotional experience that left most of us with shaky voices or complete inability to speak.”

Read the full article here.

Happy Independence Day to all my readers!

I Am OK…

Aayush has moved onto preschool. For the school, it is just transferring him to the class next door. For me, it is his first step to growing up. For him, a whole new batch of kids, bigger class and teachers that treat him more like an adult and less like a kid. He walked into the class this morning with me, his hand in mine, looked around the new surroundings and gulped twice. I bent down, intent on staying for a good while longer till he is comfortable in the new class.

“Aayush, I can stay for a while, if you like.”

He looked at me, gulped down hard to stop the lone tear in his right eye from falling amd said ina very low voice,

“You can go.”

Then, he smiled wobbly and said in a more firmer voice,

“I am OK..”

With that, he let go of my hand and walked over to one of the drawing boards. I stood there uncertainly and then slowly started backing away towards the door when he wouldn’t look back and seemed intent on drawing. He didn’t look back till he heard the door open and then gave a wide, real smile this time before waving me off.

I walked back to my car in a haze. This was the first time I got that feeling. He is growing up. There was a lump in my throat as I drove away, I did not feel that way even on the first day, I dropped him off at the daycare. He is becoming independent and much as I am proud of him, I am going to miss his clinging. The practical side of me is telling me that it is good thing and in good time,too. Anoushka has reached a age when she has started the clinging-to-mommy business right now. But, sometimes feelings have nothing to do with practicality.

There is a lump in my throat as I type this post. As I go to pick him up today, I gulp down the lump just as he had this morning. “I am OK..”, I say to myself just as he had to me this morning. There is Anoushka.