Besanwali Bhindi ( Stuffed Okra with Chickpea flour)


And then there was a ladyfinger. (Stir fry and Ladyfingers, thinking right?)

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Yes, the Indian Ladyfinger is America’s very own Okra! A beautiful green colored long vegetable just like a lady’s fingers.

However, after migrating to the US (post marriage) I was amused to learn that ladyfingers are a kind of biscuit (low density, egg based and sweet sponge like) used as a dessert ingredient and not a vegetable. Ironical isn’t it? :P!

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Besanwali Bhindi (Bharwa Bhindi/Bharleli Bhendi/ Stuffed Okra with Chickpea flour) is one of my favourite stir-fries! Getting fresh bhindi here is a rarity. At least I have not come across a single store that carries a nice sharp stock of it with it’s tails intact (those of you who have shared same pains of selecting amongst broken tailed okras,my heartfelt empathies!)

In childhood, my Aai (my mother) used to be so upset when I used to gobble down all the okra even before the lunchtime. Loved munching on these.

They obviously taste great when the oil dollop is bigger (or so I thought!)

Believe me there are so many people like me who believed that fat, bacon and ice-cream are mandatory sins of the culinary world! The humungous addition of these ingredients alone would make a dish taste out of the world! But, this version of “besanwali bhindi” will change it for all thinkers.

It’s light, time effective and delicious! What more other than a detailed recipe would one ask for?

Voilà!

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Ingredients: (for 2 persons)

  • 20 okras/ladyfingers washed, towel dried and slit lengthwise.(select smaller ones, they are perfectly tender.)
  • 3-4 tbsps. Besan or Chickpea flour.
  • 1 tsp. red chili powder.
  • Salt to taste.
  • 1 tbsp. jaggery or palm sugar.
  • 2 tsps. cilantro powder.
  • 2 tsps. cumin powder.
  • 1 tsp. roasted dried garlic powder.
  • 1 tsp. carom seeds.
  • Oil spray.
  • Oil for tempering.
  • 1 tsp. asafetida.
  • 1 tsp. turmeric.
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds.
  • 2 tbsps. Garam masala (all spices powder).

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  • Mix the besan, chili powder, cilantro powder, garam masala, cumin powder, salt, jiggery, garlic powder, carom seeds and turmeric along with little salt in a bowl. Set aside.
  • Hold the slit okra is a hand and stuff the besan mixture in it. Gently coat the okra into the bowl of mixture after that. This seals the okra and the stuffing well and does not allow the filling to come out while cooking. (Even if it comes out, it still tastes great J). Repeat the same for all the ladyfingers.
  • Heat 2-3 tsps. Olive oil (or any of your choice) in a pan and make the tempering. Add the cumin seeds and asafetida in hot oil and allow it to crackle.
  • Add the stuffed okra in the pan.
  • Oil spray the okra and sauté.
  • The colour of okra changes to a brighter green, that’s when it is cooked well.
  • But, we need the okra to be crisp and crunchy so allow it to crisp on a medium-slow flame. If you fear the okra to burn in the deep pan, add a flat pan (tawa) beneath it until it crisps.
  • And it’s ready!

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I understand that it takes a while stuffing each okra and then crisping it up, but the results are worth the trouble! I have seen a couple of my friends broil it in the oven to crisp it up, you can try doing that and share how! One word of advice though, while cooking okra do not cover the pan with a lid, the gel like saps within comes off and is sticky. It’s not very appetizing to the eyes L.

Serve besanwali bhindi with your choice of bread or eat it JLT! I have had this as an appetizer for many gatherings and it’s a crowd pleaser!!

 

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Day 24: Permutations & Combinations!


Featured imageA serene pleasant morning woke me up early. I began the day with my third day of the 30 day ab-challenge followed by a cup of tea started by me finished by dear husband before he left for the office! What a morning it was!

Did not have a chance to have decent breakfast and was hungry at 10 am! I ate the coconut-peacan fudge I made last weekend! Sorry, was too hungry J.

As the sun came up, our life got busier with his highness Udeet and his kingdom of fantasy! We ponder so many times about what goes on in that little head of our naughty boy! He is on his toes all the time. Never a quiet minute passes by when he is around. Looking at him, we always ponder, what goes on in that little head of his! He’d be crying a minute and laughing the next. He lives a life of an uncrowned prince. A prince that has no thrown to topple him and no fear of losing a thrown he never owned! Never a moment of dullness or colourless, he is full of joy and enthusiasm. He rendered the emptiness of our world that have given us moments of pride and amusement, pain and trouble, but trust me not a moment of sadness or grief.

Yes and in return to all the happiness he gives us, we offer him dos and don’ts always helping him into taming himself to fit into this world of ours. I don’t know if it’s the right thing to do though! I feel rebellious so many times, but just gulp it down with a deep breath. But, are we doing any good to our new generation who look up to us? I have to think hard and read before answering some questions of his. For instance when he says, that boy is not well behaved,he is bad,should I tell him? It’s tough to be so naive and innocent,to top it all honest! I feel the misery sometimes of not speaking up to avoid the truth being told to people around,so I totally understand!

Don’t you think there is a theory of permutations and combinations in it? The one who has it all, never knows of it. The other one who wants it all, never fails to think of it! I look for happiness around me, while he (my son) reminds me that it is within me! And yet I ponder about what goes on in that little head of his!

I m sure if there was or is a device /method to look into how kids think (and why), the first one to own would be me! Their mind is more receptive, agile and sharp than ours-really I m learning every day through him (my son). I fuss over imperfections within me and those outside while he seems to be in perfect unison with the world. Isn’t it ironical? As an adult my ability to accept, forgive and forget should (ideally be) be better than a 3.5 year old. But, it’s not. We, adults are so obsessed with our ambitions and vanity that we barely want to budge. Everyday is a day of learning and we always ponder, what goes on in that little head of his!

Life at 3.5 does appear very contented. Doesn’t it? May it be the same for all the children anywhere in the world, I wish aloud.

Anyway, my mind goes into deep Gyan mode now and then, don’t mind 😛 ! It’s work in progress always J.

We played with cars and raced like one all over the apartment! Sounds familiar? I m sure most boy-moms would find their heart racing with the thought of tripping over one of those hot wheels or fancy remote cars.

So we ate all the leftovers from yesterday for lunch. Now, today I really wanted my boy to sleep in time because we had to go grocery shopping in the evening. The last weekend was so busy that we missed a trip to fresh produce and grocery totally! And thanks to that, I had to make Undhiyo out of my reserve frozen pack L. I hate to make lunch or dinner out of packs, but had no choice. The fresh ground masala made it flavourful 🙂

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Anyway, my son slept at 4 pm or so and hence we could not go to see the work at the house. My husband directly went there from office and returned home. After a round of cricket, we finally left for grocery store. The plan was boys would drop me to the Indian store and I will finish shopping there as well as get my eye brows done (have an event to attend, otherwise they are long enough to give Rapunzel a run for her length) while the boys get dairy from Trader Joe’s. But, our darling son suddenly felt very hungry outside the first stop! The whole drama was to basically eat the desi Ice cream at Nirvanaah there, but we ignored it. Bought him a pack of biscuits and asked him to munch on them while we finished buying fresh vegetables! We have all done the same tricks as a child, haven’t we? Like good parents, we finished grocery there and the boys left for TJ’s and I went into one of these fancy threading parlors!

I puffed 25$ on threading etc. and moved out looking human :P. Urgh, the troubles we women face! I totally hate going to the salon for anything. I m just so lazy when it comes to looking all prim and proper! I have taken that from my Baba (father). I am so lazy, don’t you think? Btw, has anyone ever faced the same felt the same lazy feeling to visit the salon?

By the time I was done, the boys were already there to pick me up.Came home and made fresh rotis for us.

Rohan had calls and was going to be busy until midnight so Udeet was to be taken care of! And you can imagine an hour long ordeal to make him sleep. Rohan finished his first call and came to see us in the other bedroom to find Udeet wide awake! Interesting right? I never imagine how he pulls on reserve battery settings for an hour! Finally he slept and after a tiring long day I fell asleep by his side.

Hope you had a good night too! To permutations and combinations,Cheers!

30 day Ab challenge Announcement


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Fourth week begins! Though I haven’t lost tons of weight, the drop has been study, 3 lbs. in 3 weeks. Its not dramatic but I m still content with it. As long as I m not putting on weight or losing drastically, a steady graph marching towards the target is fair. I have lost some inches though. Haven’t had the chance to measure but my jeans fits loser than before!

Most of the routine remains the same diet wise. If I have to compromise my diet for something so urgent then I make amends accordingly. In a busy mommy-full day it’s difficult to keep up with the walk or diet regimen. Instead of carrying the guilt to the next meal, I start a fresh from the next meal during the day. Guilt tones down your pace of weight loss anyway. Any such bearing on mind leads to stress, so I rather keep it easy and clear. Don’t you think it makes sense? Take a deep breath and think about it stress free J.

Getting physically stronger and building a good core is my goal eventually. The overwhelming exhaustion after running, cleaning, cooking, washing around the house along with my son sometimes bogs me down. But, thanks to the lifestyle changes in the last 22 odd (okay, I know 22 is an even number :D) days have helped me gain some energy and enthusiasm for work. A month ago I used to get totally depressed cleaning over and over again or doing repetitive work but now because we clear up by 10,I get more time for myself. Though pulling through the day along with blogging at least 3 posts a day is extremely hectic (I understand the pain of working mothers a little better now).I manage to push off 2 posts while Udeet naps in the afternoon or early in the morning while he is asleep (ahh , these days he wakes up with me so early morning posts are a luxury)!

Two of my friends and me have decided to take up the 30 day ab challenge for the month of June starting from Monday, 1st June 2015(Meena and Rupali are my fitness buddies for this project). Both of them finished their dues for the day 1 of the challenge. I was tied up with few calls until late hours of the morning so could not do it in the morning and had to do it in the evening after tea. Meena and Rupali actually managed to motivate me to do it.

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Monday after the calls, I quickly rushed to fix us some lunch. Last week I got 2 cauliflowers thinking that there would be enough time to try out the Gobhi ka Shorba from Hari Nayak’s book, but could not make it then. When I opened the book for the recipe, the main ingredient was not cauliflower but vegetable stock! Did not have a store bought one neither had enough veggies to make one by myself. So made simple Carrot, Peas and cauliflower Sauté and rotis for Udeet. I ate the leftover Waalachi usal for lunch.

After much convincing His Highness agreed to nap after his bath but I was so drained (from the busy weekend) that me snoozed for while too. Was woken up by husband (who came from office) and then I decided to look into blogging something. Good Lord! I had to finish logging for whole of the weekend! And zapity-zip transferred all notings from my phone notes to the word document.

Soon after that I began making rotis and vegetable pulav (vegetable pilaf) out of leftover sabji from Sunday. The dinner was quick and Udeet was so tired that slept sooner than expected. Monday night, I was up till late and finished composing few of my posts for later.

Whoa, the day was packed!

Tuesday morning I finished my target for ab challenge # Day 2! Felt so nice to do it early in the morning! It took 5-7 minutes to finish the sit-ups and crunches etc. I m sure looking at the exhaustive timetable, it’s soon going to take more than an hour to finish! But, looking forward to it! Waiting to shed the flab steadily!

Started teaching Udeet subtraction today! He liked it and was pretty fast with numbers! I was surprised and shocked! My mind thinking: “My son good at Math?” Wow! I was a disaster with Numbers! He has gladly taken after my father and Rohan! I am happy as long as he inherits my looks :P. He looks exactly like me!

Today’s lunch was a fasting recipe, but extremely low calorie enriched with protein and carbs. I made some Samo Rice with jalpeno peppers, cumin, olive oil and potato. Simple and elegant dish very similar to Upma (Savory semolina pudding) /Sanjã! But,this version is pure white in colour! To me such meals are comforting. You cannot eat a lot of it at one time, but it’s sumptuous!

I figured out what was wrong with the camera settings that were causing focus to blur out in few pictures. I had forgotten to shift the mode to Manual and kept clicking pictures in auto mode itself. That’s why the focus kept moving all the while. Anyway, lesson learnt. Check camera settings before clicking :P.

But I am a bit absent minded (heard most mothers are J) and sometimes cook without the flame on. Seriously, I have to come over this pretty soon. I have been evading driving car also for all these years, but now just no time for that after we move into the house! Lot of challenges to conquer this year, but I have no choice! I have to! Do you also have a set of challenges to conquer? Share how you plan to face them!

Udeet wagged his nap today! Slept barely for an hour. I wasn’t able to achieve a lot posts wise but managed to pass through the new column on my blog called “the glutton in me”.

By the time I finished Udeet was up already!

Today was one of those days when a housewife needs to think out of the box. We were busy over the weekend and could not go for fresh produce and grocery. My wheat flour pack had just ½ cup flour left! Mixed Chickpea flour and Organic Barley flour and made Rotis for us!

I cleaned up sooner and just went to bed! The blogging, renovations and the move, 30-day ab challenge, saree pledge pact (i have big newson that front) and lots more! Life is a full house at the moment for me! How about you??

Mango on the Double <3


Summers in India meant fun filled times! The school would be shut for nearly 2 month long break and holidays were full of activities!

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My mother’s parents lived in Bombay itself, so we would stay with them for some days. Many folks from my mother’s side of the family have their birthdays in May (including me) and we all would have one cake amongst us to celebrate. 2 of my older cousins,my youngest aunt and me-all may babies would be blessed together by all!

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Being an only child I used to wait for summers to arrive and vacations to commence because my favourite cousins would come all the way from Nagpur to Bombay.That was the only time my loneliness as an only child would disappear! And my mami (Maternal Uncle’s wife) and cousins would land in Bombay a day before my birthday. The first thing she would ask me was “Moti (I was 10lbs at birth and hence nicknamed Chubby fat baby by her lovingly!), “what would you like me to make for your birthday?” For years my reply was a request to make Chinese Hakka Noodles and Hot-Sour soup! If given a choice, I would still request her for the same! She is one of the greatest culinary giants in my life! Her personality in general has an amazonic influence on my personality! (Hmm, may be she should be one of my feature Inspire US, what say? :P)

As we grew, all of us (me and my cousins) became very busy with studies and life in general. I still loved them dearly but the distance and lack of personal interaction drifted us away.

Thanks to technology though we are connected well in spite of living in three different countries (US, India & Australia). The youngest of us is Dha (4 years younger) while me and Wik (my cousin brother) are of exactly the same age. Like childhood, we still gang up against Dha by keeping silly secrets from her (As silly as we ate chicken together etc.)

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My cousin Wik hated mangoes (weird, right?). Me and his younger sis Dha would pounce upon the opportunity for him to turn down a wedge of mango or glass full of mango milkshake and share it amongst ourselves!

Yes, one more reason  why I loved summer’s back home was we could enjoy unlimited Alphanso mangoes! The emperor variety amongst the king of fruits!

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My Aai (mother) would make her special Mango Ice cream for us and serve it in style with Mango Milkshake in one of the fancy tall glasses. The tall glasses were not very common in late 80’s. And these were one of those rare times when food/drinks would be served (read: allowed) inside the bedroom where we made a huge tent house out of quilts and sheets (And what not!). My grandma’s bedroom had an A.C then so we used to feel very exclusive about ourselves. It made us feel so special.

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Back then, such things really mattered to the kids. With so much technology and random wealth (read: luxury as necessity became easy) finer things have lost their value, don’t you think? A box full of mangoes made me happier than a new gadget or new necklace. My grandparents would give me 10 INR as a birthday gift and I was still happy. Happiness seemed more real and meaningful.

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I see the change in and around me. Some things I like,some I have to accept but there are those I just don’t come to terms with. I feel our needs have gone from this to that and wants have no bounds. Most of our problems arise out of such complicated expectations from and of life. I sometimes feel stuck with my idealistic ways and wish to change.  Perhaps I lack enough determination to accept ideals have no reason to survive out of Bible or Geeta. The only logical question is would the change be acceptable to the pseudo (kiss blown in air environment) environment? Perhaps ,only time can tell.

After tall nostalgia comes the simple version of “Mango Milkshake with Home-made Saffron Mango Ice-cream”.

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Ingredients: (3-4 cups of Mango Milkshake)

  • 3-4 scoops of Mango Saffron Ice-cream.
  • 1.5cup milk (1% organic milk is perfect. I tried making it with almond milk, but boys did not like it. I would not recommend it either J)

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  • 1/4th cup of mango pulp (home made or store bought) or 1 whole Alphanso mango cubed.
  • 1-2 tsps. Vanilla essence. (Vanilla essence accentuates the flavours better. That’s the reason all the cake and cookie recipes have Vanilla listed in them. It helps kick the basic flavor of a fruit or just elevate the richness of the flavours. Try it! Mom’s additions never go wrong!)
  • A great blender!
  • Sugar if required.

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Method:

  • Fill in all the ingredients in the blender pot and blend.
  • Once it is frothy add a scoop of ice cream and serve J

Eating mangoes and delicacies made of mangoes would be the highlight. I think it was more about eating them together that made it special. Today, in US we have mangoes all round the year but never feel like eating them anymore. I miss you my wonderful cousins L

I m reminded of an old gazal (a distinct variety of light music) by Jagjit Singh that sums up the essence of childhood and makes one feel the lack of life in youth. The simple joys of innocence that one misses in the adulthood that an adult would give away everything including his youth to get his childhood back.

“ye daulat bhii le lo, ye shoharat bhii le lo
bhale chhiin lo mujhase merii javaanii
magar mujhako lautaa do bachapan kaa saavan
vo kaagaz kii kashtii, vo baarish kaa paanii” 

Perhaps a sip of my childhood memory might take you back to your own childhood! Enjoy the ride into nostalgia!

Honey-Pecan-Rice Kheer (Sweet Honey-Pecan & Rice Pudding)


“Do you have a sweet tooth? Ahh, no let me ask again. J Are all the teeth you posses craving sweet all the time? 😛 If you do, don’t hold off now! ” I will explain why J.

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My boy loves sweets. To help me continue his love affair , I have to research and tweak traditional recipes (with white sugars of course). Things mothers do to let our kids have a prolonged love life J (oh, but he is all of 3.5 years-rolling your eyes, aren’t you?).

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The making of the rebel :

As a child I loved the traditional “rice pudding” (tandulachi/chawal ki kheer) my Aai made. I inherited the like for it from my maternal grandpa “Nana” (literally means the youngest one, but he was addressed as Nana by his great grand kids too J). Unfortunately in Maharashtra, this kheer/pudding is made as a part of mourning meal. So, it isn’t commonly made in a Maharashtrian household. However, my Aji (grandma) made it for me (and Nana of course). This was like the beginning of my rebellion against blindly followed tradition:P.

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It involves a bit of hard work and preparation to make this pudding well. But, all work and no play, mommy sure does not know how :P.

The traditional recipe involved White rice (used brown rice but you can used quinoa too) and Sugar. My grandma often switched sugar with jaggery (like palm sugar-its healthier and natural). I however used honey in this one, but organic brown sugar tastes equally good. The proportion would differ due to different consistency/qualities of sugar or sweet element to be used.

Artificial Sweetners:

My POV is that its better to use white sugars than artificial “sweetners”. If death follows, then let it be by regular sugar and not by pseudo sugars, what say? 😛

Agave too has its ups and downs. But, it’s totally personal choice. In the words of Anthony Bourdain, “No Reservations (From the author J)!!

 Presenting after a long preamble the Real deal J

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Ingredients: (for 20 small bowls)

  • 1 gallon 1% fat organic milk (we are strict about using organic stuff, but you can choose the regular milk).
  • ½ gallon half and half.
  • 3-4 cups of water.
  • 7-8 strands of saffron.
  • 2 tsps. Cardamom powder.
  • 2 tbsps. Ghee/clarified butter.
  • ½ cup unsalted pecans (you can add variety of dry fruits, except peanuts, dried apricots, cranberries and raisins).
  • Upto 1 cup organic honey. (Taste and check if you need less or more. I used about ½ cup and a little more.)
  • 5 cups brown rice (Washed and dried in a clean towel. Roasted over 2 tbsps. ghee and then ground into coarse grit.)
  • 1 star anise (my addition, gives it a peppery kick. But it’s optional).

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Method:

  • Roast the rice: The rice needs to be washed well and dried on a clean towel. We need to do this well or it will burn sooner while roasting. Heat a deep pan and roast the rice on the clarified butter. Roast until aromatic. If using white rice, the colour change will be the sign to look for (white to golden). Grind it into coarse grits. Set the rice aside.
  • In the same deep pan, bring the milk and half-half to a boil. Reducing it to half is easier since half and half will save you time.
  • Add saffron strands, crush in between two palms, cardamom and start anise. Allow the milk to simmer on low flame and infuse the saffron fragrance. Reduce the milk to half.
  • Add the rice grit in the milk pan.
  • It thickens sooner because of the starch in rice. So, keep the water handy. Add the water gradually.
  • Boil, allow the rice to cook completely now.
  • After the rice cooks add the honey. Adjust the quantity as per taste.
  • Boil it again and switch the burner off.
  • Add the nuts. Allow it to cool.

And, dig into this sinful dessert! I love it with roti or puri (I know so many carbs right?). But, I have taken a typical Buffet way here and have it as a dessert after my salads J.

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This rice pudding is connected to my childhood. Hence, every time that I make it, it transports me to the Wonder years of my life. Can food do this to you? What’s your guilty pleasure nostalgia? J

Vegan Shammi Kabab with Pear Chutney


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Groomed to be an architect and classically trained by my father, so my work ethic and value system is pretty much old school. At college, my peers disciplined my understanding of dynamic aesthetics, ergonomics, balance and art. Even though not practicing the profession I was trained for the nuances still remain and enchant my fancies often. And totally attracts me to people and places of artistic imagination as well as value.

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I love my food to taste as well as it looks and vice-a-versa J. In the artistic world the shades of red stand for love and romance. So, this Valentine’s day (and our 6th meeting and wedding anniversary, story to be discussed later J). I made these Vegan Shammi Kababs for my bestie Rohan (also my husband :P)-healthy and lite!

It’s again a very simple, on the go recipe!

 Ingredients:

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  • 1 whole bunch of green onion, washed and finely chopped.
  • 1 medium sized red onion.( I grew up eating red onions and my husband ate white ones. So, we decided to use dish specific onions. We carry red and whites both :P).
  • 1 boiled beetroot-shredded.
  • 1 Cup chopped cilantro.
  • ½ packet of organic tofu-crushed.
  • Salt to taste.
  • Garam masala (all spice powder) as per taste.
  • 2 tsps. Cilantro powder.
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds.
  • 1 green chili chopped (optional).
  • 1 tsp. Carom seeds (ajwain).
  • 1tsp finely chopped garlic.
  • 3-4 tbsps. bread crumbs
  • Olive oil spray to shallow roast.
  • 1-2 slices of bread-broken into pieces.

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Method:

  • Mix crushed tofu, shredded beetroot, green onion, cilantro along with all the spices and chili.
  • Add salt, garlic and bread in the above mixture.
  • Mix and make small balls, flatten them to make a patty.(I made cylinders instead, but it’s your choice totally).Set aside in the freeze for 3-4 minutes.
  • After few minutes, take the kababs out of freeze. Dip each cylinder or patty into the breading.
  • Heat a flat plan and spray some oil on it. Arrange the kababs on it.
  • Cook on each side until crisp.
  • Serve them with love to loved ones J

 They tasted well with my pear chutney but tomato sauce is perfect!

 Btw, wish to share an achievement in the family.. a little bragging 😛

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After coming to US, I met Sheetal, my husband’s cousin but a very good friend of mine. She came from an art background and we shared a lot in common including the love for Tom Cruise (what say Sheetal? J).

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But, the most striking of her was her talent to create artistic endeavors. She is a master of pottery, painting, stitching and yes cooking too! I’d take this opportunity to congratulate her on her venture On the fencewhereby she showcases all her artsy-work. Proud of you girl and everything that you do with so much perfection, finesse and pride!

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What more does one need? Great food, great company and a reason to celebrate J Party begins now!!

Shahi Sheera-E-Azam (Sheera-The Royal Sweet Semolina Pudding)


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Sheera” (Sweet Semolina Pudding) is not a stranger to any Indian kitchen. However, traditional recipes demand equal portions of ghee (clarified butter) and sugar that make it so rich as well as delicious. Expensive ingredients like Saffron, Cardamom, Nutmeg, Nuts & good old milk give it a Royal Touch. I like to call it Shahi Sheera-E-Azam.

In Hindu households, it is made for Satyanarayan Puja or any other religious fares that require an offering to be later distributed amongst friends and family.

My Aai (my mother) made this Sheera at least once a week, because we simply loved it. My Baba (my father) had a sweet tooth that my son has inherited gladly J He digs sweets. If kids here in the US find comfort in Macaroni & Cheese, Udeet (my son) has his heart and soul set in this Sheera!!

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I follow my Aai’s (my mother) recipe to the T. There are some recipes that are traditional, some conventional and the rest are Aai made J (mother-made), don’t you agree? The bucket list for India trips or when Aai is visiting is standard, starts with Sheera, Besan Ladu, Khavyachi Poli (sweet cheese bread-Maharashtrian speciality), methi paratha (fenugreek infused Indian bread), Omlette (trust me it’s the best thick crepe ever), egg paratha so on and so forth.J But, these days when she meets me, she has a bucket list of her own :P.

 Anyway, so here’s the blissful version of my Aai’s J

 Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fine semolina-roasted well. (It could be done in microwave, but you need to adjust the timing based on your microwave)
  • ½-3/4 cup organic clarified butter/ghee. (My mother does not go heavy handed on the ghee for obvious reasons.)
  • ¼ cup warm water.
  • ½ cup milk.
  • 3 tbsps. Cardamom powder.
  • 2 tbsps. Powdered pecans, cashews and almonds.(I used to call whole nuts into sheera or anything as garbage “kachra”,so my mother started powdering all nuts. It still is a great trick to get those power nuts into your kid’s tummy easily!)
  • 5-7 strands of saffron soaked in warm milk.
  • Upto 1 cup sugar (I use organic brown sugar. It gives better taste. But you can use completely white or brown or a combination of both.)
  • 20 minutes of your precious time.
  • Last but not the least, love and selflessness J. It is believed that at Gurudwaras the Khada prasad (wheat flour sweet pudding) is made while chanting the holy name of god, with dedication and love. The positive energy of the Gurudwara and chants fill the prasad with warmth and goodness that the taste is pristine of the offering. My Aai says that when a mother makes it with all her heart, any food could taste better. So make sure, you are physically and mentally in the moment J. It will taste nothing but awesome, the proportions and recipe does not matter much then.

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 Method:

  • Take a wok/kadhai and heat the ghee. I add a spoonful at a time.One can always add more, but cannot take out if it’s a lot. Moreover, it thickens when kept aside after the sheera is made, leaving in bits of solidified ghee. If you happen to microwave it, the ghee just oozes out and it tastes greasy as a bite. (I know lot of fuss, please contact my aai for getting all these ideas into my head :P) Add the roasted semolina/suji/rava in it and sauté.
  • Add the warm water first into the mix. The semolina absorbs all the water, so make sure you stir continuously while adding to avoid chunks of semolina.
  • Now add warm milk gradually and stir again. Make sure there are no lumps.
  • Next add the sugar, mix well. You would notice that all the almost-dried up mixture turns moist as the sugar melts.
  • Add the saffron-milk, cardamom, powdered nuts/whole nuts, nutmeg (optional)-set the gas on slow and mix.
  • Add some milk or water and simmer for a minute or two.
  • Sheera is all set to be launched into your appetite J

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I have fond memories of Sheera..

When I got married to Rohan, this was one the first cooking adventures. Every Friday, I made something distinct (yeah, it anyway turned distinct because quite a few misfires happened on the way :P-but that’s normal isn’t it?) and we ate it together. Back then, we did not have a car or a sofa, but we still were happy. Happiness cannot be bought or sold. You just create it and own it. I feel amused browsing through social networking sites these days how our generation equates happiness with expensive rewards. There is nothing against PDA, it’s about the attitude. Every generation suffers through it’s own “karma”. Our generation is the victim of expensive Gadgets, perky holidays and branded desires.

My father was one of the most acclaimed geo-tech consultants in the world. But, he lived a very simple life. He taught me to value little things and people. He probably missed on giving me an expensive birthday gift, but he still gave me all the wonders of the world. He never chased a Mercedez-dream, he chased his ambitions and won them. At 71,when he passed away-as fallen as I was; his death was the most valued memory for me. No medical interventions, no reasons of pain. He died a man of legend, he earned through it. Happiness is from within. He was a happy man, a common man of achieved dreams and desires.

There’s more to each of us than glamour. The veiled heart that needs to be revealed and make this world a non-materialistic place to live. Don’t you think?

We need a toast of Sheera for sure J. Enjoy the simplicity of bites in the modest and humble settings, the celebration of togetherness.