Not quite like mom’s..or mom-in-law’s as the case may be

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We all have that weekend breakfast that mom used to make for us that we crave and associate with home and comfort..for me it’s omelettes. Hearty omelettes with sautéed vegetables turned into sandwiches. Also, occasionally more Indian things like idli and sambar (soft rice cake patties with lentil vegetable soup) or upma (I have no idea how to translate this grain that’s sorta like a courser couscous)

For MTT, the breakfast dish is pohe. It seems simple enough ; a sautéed flattened rice dish with some potatoes in it… And yet, I failed.

The first step of soaking the dried flat rice–turns out I soaked in way too much water and made the rice soggy. The addition of potato–I may have gone potato happy and added way too much. Also, I boiled them first … Making the final texture of my pohe a weird Indian mashed potato.

Strike one.

I will try again in a few weekends. Next weekend it’s all about the omelettes! And that I know I can knock out of the park!

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My first post as a married woman!

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It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, but I was busy in the final stages of wedding planning followed by wedding and honeymoon.

One of the traditional parts of Indian weddings is when the bride returns after the wedding to the groom’s parents’ home, she cooks a sweet dish for the family. I made suji halwa, a semolina based sweet dish where the grain is mixed with ghee and then a sugar syrup and has a polenta-like texture. I added nuts and raisins to the dish.

I was a little nervous to make this dish because I don’t usually make Indian desserts…I had my mom text me a recipe and snuck a look at my phone before going to my mother-in-law’s kitchen…

It turned out very very rich. Good. But very very rich. Though I guess that’s the way it’s supposed to be!

“Keema is my Schtick”

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Keema is an Indian dish made of ground meat cooked with tomato, onion, and spices, usually adorned with peas. I love Keema made with ground lamb, so I decided to go for it today.

I am pretty well versed in Indian cuisine, but one day I was rushing to make a breakfast dish called pohe… Truth be told, I’m not familiar with it but it is a favorite of MTT so I decided to give it a go. The perfect storm of bad events swirled together: lack of time, familiarity, and the all important salt made for an absolute mess.

Today, when making keema, I thought a little too much turmeric fell into the pot… I warned MTT that the color may of off but the flavor was still good. He replied “as long as it isn’t like the pohe …”

I indignantly replied “what? No! Keema is my Schtick!”

It turned out great. And, in the end, the color wasn’t even off.

I only meant to eat one…but…

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I recently acquired a mandolin slicer and am obsessed! And by obsessed, I mean I talked incessantly about it, and proudly showed it to MTT, who didn’t get it at all, of course, until I said “pakoda” (pronounced pakora). A tasty Indian fritter made of various vegetables fried in a graham flour batter, these treats remind me of parties my mom used to throw growing up because she would usually fry these fresh for her guests.

You can make pakodas out of potatoes, onions, chilis, eggplant, cauliflower…lots of options exist.

Today I tried slicing potatoes in my new mandolin slicer and I was very pleased with the results. So of course, I made pakodas. I was nervous because I didn’t have the traditional kadhai (wok) to fry in but the result was surprisingly…appropriate. Reminiscent of the fritters I used to eat when I was a kid, even. MTT and I took turns dunking the golden fried disks in cold ketchup while watching tv…and before we knew it, they were all gone. Oops! I had only meant to eat one…

Still tweaking….not quite right yet

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Palak paneer….spinach paneer…that Indian dish in restaurants with that creamy spinach and fried cheese….for me it is the one who got away.

My first attempt to make palak paneer was when MTT lived with his roommates with limited kitchen supplies….I tried to blend the spinach with a hand mixer I brought from my house. The result was less than ideal, but MTT was kind enough to say “it’s just the texture that’s off…the flavor is there”

I now have both a food processor and a blender in our small but stocked kitchen; so, today I decided to try again.

The result: again the flavor is there, but the texture is problematic. Much improved from the first try, but I maybe put too much water in (which now seems to be separating slightly). Also, I will probably never have restaurant texture creaminess as I won’t ever add that much heavy cream to a weeknight meal….

But, for the corners I cut in the name of calories and considering it’s only my second try, the results aren’t bad. But I still think I will keep working on this recipe a little more….

Worth All the Dirty Dishes: A South Asian Adventure

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Two days ago, I decided it was time to go back to my Indian roots. So, I mixed up a malai marinade (yogurt and spices) in a bowl, added some chicken breast tenderloins, and put the covered bowl away in the fridge for two days.

Yesterday, I thought fondly of the chicken marinating in my fridge and started the next step of preparation: I soaked some rice in water.

Today, I was finally ready to make my meal.

Indian cooking is very simple, though it can require some preparation. Over the years, I’ve watched my mom make quite a few meals like this. Sure, you can marinate chicken right before you cook it and boil rice without the pre-soak. But when you plan ahead you can really elevate the meal.

The Indian tradition of yogurt marinades was referenced recently in Top Chef Masters when the acclaimed chefs were asked to contribute to an Indian Buffet…without the proper ingredients of course. Anyway, the eliminated contestant actually made an “Indian-Spiced Chicken” whose most salient critique was “it wasn’t marinated in yogurt….one of the strengths of Indian cooking is using a yogurt marinade always makes Indian chicken so tender and flavorful…” I felt a sense of pride at that critique; as the most frequently cooked meat in my kitchen, I relish the idea of making chicken soft and tasty.

The perfect accompaniments to this malai chicken is a nice spicy rice pilaf and MTT’s favorite: raita.

Raita is a yogurt side spiced with roasted cumin and other items per personal preference. Today’s went with dill and paprika. I also added tons of grated cucumber like my mom always did when I was little. MTT loves raita. So much so that the man can out away almost an entire container-full. In fact, we discovered his lactose intolerance through his love for raita, because he needs to down a lactaid before he can eat it to his heart’s content.

I served this meal with some lightly sautéed red onions and lemon…a very Indian thing to do indeed.

As we ate dinner, I looked over to MTT and said… “I’m sorry about all the dishes tonight…”. Like a good sport, MTT replied “This food is worth it!”

I asked if he wanted some Rooh Aftza for dessert (more on this later…but suffice it to say it’s a very Indian, summery drink). MTT replied “no, tonight is more of a frappucino kind of night…there are so many dishes, might as well use the blender too!”

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