A Slice of Life

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At the clinic…

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We took N to the doctor for his teething problems. N has been teething badly and doesn’t sleep well at all. On the way to the doctor, I had a chat with N and asked him to tell the doctor about the pain. I also told him that the doctor will ask him to open his mouth wide so that he can see his gums. N knows the story where Krishna opens his mouth and his mom sees ‘Brahmanda’ (world), so I used that story and said N also should open his mouth wide.

Cut to the clinic. N is plonked on the table. Doctor asks him ‘How are you N?’ Promptly comes the reply, “Hallu bou, galla bou, kai bou” which means ‘Teeth – pain, cheeks – pain, hand – pain”.  The doctor got his torch out and said, ‘Open your mouth’. N opened his mouth wide and after a second, he points to his open mouth and says ‘Brahmanda’! The doctor didn’t realize and when I told him the story, he laughed out loud. N and his Brahmanda!

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Written by A

October 4, 2010 at 7:27 am

Posted in Baby Update

Random!

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It’s been a while since I blogged about N, so here are some random things about him.

1. He talks and talks and talks. He can form short sentences and hold a pretty decent conversation with anyone. He can sing almost all songs that I sing to him – lullabies, rhymes, anything at all. He has taught himself ‘Vakra tunda maha kaaya’ and recited this on Ganesha festival. We were thrilled! He knows all the stories now. If I miss a part in the story, he promptly tells me.

2. Whenever I am knitting something, he comes and asks me ‘Who is this for?’ If I say ‘you’, he is all happy. If the answer is anything else, he sulks and goes away. If he needs my attention when I am knitting something, he promptly says ‘No sweater’ and makes me stop knitting.

3. His favorite object is concrete mixer – the ones used in construction sites. He wants one but I have no idea where I can buy it. I mean the toy, of course!

4. He loves playing with kitchen items. Cooker, mixer pots, pans, pots, spoons – everything is in the kitchen. When I need something to cook, I need N’s permission to use it. He is so interested in cooking, he watches me attentively when I cook and knows some recipes by now. He can make omelette, rice, sambar, curry – all theoretical, of course. We think he will make a great chef!

5. We tried finger painting yesterday and N loved it. He loved the feel of wet paint on his hands.  He was surprised that I didn’t stop him from getting his hands dirty. I too loved the experience. It was as if I became a child again.

Written by A

October 4, 2010 at 7:13 am

Posted in Baby Update

Weaned!

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One of my biggest worries when it came to N was his addiction to his bottle. He was so attached to it and dependent on it that I was afraid he was going to enter college with a bottle in his bag. He was never a sound sleeper and I suspected his disturbed sleep on his bottle. He would search for his bottle all around him even in his sleep and would wake up crying if he didn’t find it. When I had many sleepless nights in a row, I decided to take things in my hand and wean him off the bottle.

First step was to let N know that the bottle was going away. I told him a story about a crow and its teeny, tiny babies which are hungry because they don’t have a bottle to drink milk with. N was so concerned he voluntarily gave the bottle and asked me to give it to ‘ka-ka’. I left the bottles in the balcony and after a few minutes, the crow took the bottles away and left some chocolates for N. So good so far.

Come afternoon, his nap time and the kid refused to go to sleep without a bottle. The moment I said ‘nap’, he would say ‘bottle’. Eventually, the day turned to night and he hadn’t taken a nap. No crying, atleast. So good so far.

He had a good dinner and said ‘sleep’ and added ‘bottle’ to it. I reminded him about the crow and he had this sad expression on his face which clearly meant ‘Why did I ever give the bottle away?’ I told him a story, sang him a song and he fell asleep in a few minutes. Not bad!

After two hours, N woke up screaming and asked for bottle. I reminded him about the crow, but no use. He demanded that the crow get the bottle back because ‘it’s mine and I want it now’. I gave him gems and he went back to sleep. This went on for a couple of times all through the night and none of us had a good sleep. Thank God, I had decided to leave the bottles in the office, otherwise I would have weakened and given him the bottle.

After this horrible night, I wasn’t looking forward to the next day, but it was relatively uneventful. N took a nap and slept well in the night. He did wake up a couple of times, but there was no screaming or flailing arms or stomping feet. From then on, it was a smooth sail. He had this sad look in his eyes for a few days and it tore my heart. I felt so sorry for him that the object of his affection went away. Thankfully, it didn’t affect him emotionally. Overnight, there was a complete change in my little kid. He started behaving all grown up, he was a big boy now, you see, because he no longer used a bottle. He drinks milk in his new, bright orange cup and he loves it.

Looking back, I am extremely lucky that things went so smooth for me and N. Thank God and thank the mothers on my parenting forum. Now that he is weaned, there are certain changes in his routine.

Pros
1. N sleeps really well in the night. From waking up every 2 hours to sleeping like a log all through the night, it has been a welcome change. Only mothers can understand when I say ‘He sleeps through the night’.
2.  His appetite is much better. He eats a good three meals a day and snacks in between, 2-3 cups of milk a day and he is set.
3. He is all grown up now. It might be my illusion but N has this grown up look now. He talks differently and behaves differently. Even my mom agrees with me on this, so it may not be an illusion after all.
4. He is slowly learning to fall asleep on his own. You see, I never tried the no-cry solution or the CIO technique to make him learn to fall asleep. I know he is going to learn that when the time comes. Till then, I don’t mind singing for him until he dozes off.

Cons
1. Since he doesn’t use a bottle anymore, it takes longer to put him to bed. A story and a song isn’t enough any more. It usually goes on for 2 stories and a couple of songs. It sometimes takes an hour and on those days, my husband finds me asleep when N is happily playing next to me.
2. Making him drink from a cup during the day is a bit hard.

All said and done, weaning worked like a charm for me. I am kicking myself why I didn’t try this earlier!



Written by A

September 7, 2010 at 3:03 pm

Masala Puri

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Ever since Shilpa of Aayi’s Recipes posted a recipe for Masala Puri, I had been dying to try it. A friend of hers got this recipe from a gaadi-wala in Vijayanagar, Bangalore and passed it on to her. The recipe is authentic, coming from a gaadiwala, and Shilpa has yummy photos that accompany the recipe.

I didn’t have all the spices called for in the recipe, so I substituted in my own way. I used store bought puris and dream of making these puris at home one day. Sigh, a girl can dream, right? The dish turned out tasty and was gone in minutes! Next time around, I know I need to make this in a larger quantity.

Ingredients:
Serves 2

1 cup Green Peas (If you want to use dry peas, soak them overnight. If using frozen peas, soak for 2-3 hours)
1/4 cup Toor Dal
2 cups of Water
1 big Onion, finely chopped
2 Tomatoes, finely chopped
Coriander Leaves, minced
1 tsp Red Chilli Powder
Puris (Store bought)
Fine Sev (Store bought)
Salt
Dry Spices :
1/2 tsp Cloves
1″ Cinnamon
1 tsp Coriander Seeds
1 tsp Cumin Seeds
1 tsp Peppercorns

Green Chutney:
1/2 cup of Coriander Leaves
3-4 Green Chillies
1/4 cup of Water
Salt

Grind all the ingredients to make spicy, green chutney.

Sweet Chutney:
You can get the recipe from any blog. Here is one. Or use the Smith & Jones Bhel Puri Chutney, like me.

Method
1. Dry roast all the spices.
2. Pressure cook toor dal and peas separately. I mean, in different containers. Nobody is stopping you from pressure cooking them at the same time.
3. Grind the spices and toor dal together. Dal will add some thickness and consistency to the gravy.
4. Transfer the ground spices and dal to a flat bottom pan and heat it.
5. Add the cooked peas, red chilli powder, salt and water and bring it to a boil. Make sure the gravy is not too thick or not too watery.
6. When serving, break 4-5 puris in a plate. Spread a ladle of gravy on the puris. Add the finely chopped onion, tomatoes and coriander leaves. To make it extra spicy, add a bit of green chutney. If you like it a bit sweet, add the sweet chutney. Sprinkle sev generously. Eat!


I am sending this to Nupur’s Blog Bites#3 event. This entry also goes to Priya’s Cooking with Seeds – Cumin seeds hosted at Sara’s Corner this month.

Written by A

May 13, 2010 at 11:01 am

A Different Mango Pickle

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Summer is the time when women get busy to re-stock their kitchen with long lasting food items like paapad, red chilli powder and pickles. The last one, pickle, is ubiquitous all over India and you will see jars of freshly made pickle kept out in the sun. While these pickles have a long shelf life and are savored all year round, the one that I made is for immediate consumption.

This pickle is called as ‘Palu’ in my household and my husband calls it ‘Gatka’. No matter what you decide to call it, this pickle will taste great with rice or roti. Green mangoes are known for causing acidity (or what we call pitta), so to counteract this, we add methi powder (or methi seeds if you don’t have powder handy) and it gives a different taste to this pickle.

Palu or Gatka or Sweet Mango Pickle

Ingredients

1 Green Mango, medium sliced
1/2 cup Jaggery. The actual amount would depend on how sour the green mango is
1/2 cup Water
Oil for seasoning
1 tsp Red Chilli Powder
1 tsp Methi Powder or Methi Seeds
1 tsp Mustard Seeds
1 tsp Fennel Seeds, optional
8-10 Curry Leaves
A pinch of Asafoetida
Salt to taste

Method

1. Microwave the sliced green mango. Transfer the slices to a microwave safe bowl, sprinkle some water and microwave it for 2 minutes. Depending on the kind of mango you choose and the power of your microwave, this time is variable. Microwave till the slices are soft to the touch and they look cooked.
2. If you don’t have a microwave, don’t sweat. You can cook the slices directly in the pan after you give a seasoning. Just hold on till I come to that.
3. Heat oil in a saute pan. Add mustard seeds and let them splutter. Now on low flame, add the curry leaves, asafoetida, red chilli powder, methi powder or seeds and the fennel seeds.
4. Add the cooked mango slices, jaggery, water and salt. Bring this to a boil until the water becomes thicker. Once this is done, you will see this as a homogeneous mixture rather than mango pieces and water together. Check out the photo to see the consistency.
5. If you have not microwaved the mango slices, then this is the time to cook them. Add the raw slices and the water. Cover the pan and cook the mango slices until they are soft to the touch. Adding salt quickens the cooking time. Once they are done, add more water if required.
6. Taste it and see if the tangy-sweet balance is to your liking. If not, add some more jaggery until it suits you fine.
7. Take it off the heat and enjoy it hot with rice or roti. Transfer it to an air tight container and refrigerate it once it comes to room temperature. This can be stored upto 2-3 weeks in refrigerator.

Serving suggestions

Tastes really good with curd rice. Try it with upma or kanda pohe and see the same old dishes take on a new taste. This is a favorite with kids since it satiates their two main taste buds – sweet and sour. You can make it more spicy and less sweet to suit the adult taste buds.

Written by A

May 7, 2010 at 12:20 pm

Posted in cooking, food, Pickle, Recipe

Jaangri

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Jaangri or Imarti or Jaangir is a close relative of Jalebi. Many people assume they are the same, but they are not. While Jaangri is made of urad dal, Jalebi is made from maida and needs overnight fermentation. And, of course, they taste different.

When I saw Harini’s recipe for Jaangri in Blog Bites #2 roundup, I knew I had to try it. I love Jaangri and I didn’t know it was so easy to make. When Nupur announced the third edition of Blog Bites, I decided to try Harini’s recipe for this event. Since the theme of Blog Bites #3 is adaptation, I will explain what change I have made to the original recipe. I did not use food color, but used some saffron to get the color. Simple, huh? This adaptation is more out of necessity – I didn’t have any food color handy and didn’t want to buy either because honestly, how many recipes do you know which call for food color?

Jaangris Ready!

Jaangri
Makes 8-10 pieces

Ingredients

Urad Dal, 1 cup
Rice 1/4, cup
Sugar, 1 cup
Water – Just enough to immerse the sugar
Saffron threads, 8-10
Oil for frying

Method

1. Soak Urad Dal and Rice for 3-4 hours. Drain all the water and transfer to a mixer pot. Grind them finely with as little water as possible. Don’t be impractical and not use water at all – your mixer will curse you. Add a few drops of water at a time until grinding becomes a possibility.
2. Take a thick enough plastic cover and cut a small hole in one corner. You are basically making a cone. If you are familiar with mehndi cones, you know what we are trying to do here. I am sure you can use a cloth for this, but I haven’t tried that method.
3. For the sugar syrup, place sugar in a thick bottomed vessel and add enough water to immerse the sugar. Add the saffron threads to it and heat this. Keep stirring in between and once you get one string consistency, take it off the flame.
4. Heat oil in a wok. Pour some batter into the cone and when the oil is really hot, squeeze out the batter through the hole and try to shape it like jaangri. I know it is easier said than done. Make two rounds at the center and draw petals around it. Fry on low flame till it is golden brown.
5. Dunk the jaangri in the sugar syrup and take it out after 3-4 minutes.
6. Serve the jaangri hot.

Jaangri being fried

Notes

1. You can start with the sugar syrup first. Keep it on low flame so that when the jaangris are fried, your sugar syrup is ready.
2. If you find that the batter is too watery, add some rice flour to it to salvage it. I know it will alter the taste, but altered jaangri is better than no jaangri, right?
3. The sugar syrup should be hot when you put jaangri into it, so you might have to reheat it in between.
4. Since we are not using food color, jaangris will not be as orange as you see in the stores. They will have a mild golden color.
5. Jaangris I made turned out really tasty. The only problem I had with this was they lost their crispiness after a few hours. Store bought jaangris are not soggy, but mine were. I have no idea why and if anyone of you has a clue, please let me know. The next time around, I want to make perfect jaangris!

I am sending this to Nupur’s Blog Bites #3.

Written by A

May 5, 2010 at 9:17 am

Kadhi in an earthen pot

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Kadhi is a sour-n-sweet dish made from buttermilk or yogurt. The basic recipe is to add a thickening agent like besan to buttermilk and give this a tempering of mustard seeds, green chillies , turmeric and curry leaves. The recipe gets customized in different places and cultures. Gujarati kadhi tastes mildly sweet and has pakodis or vegetable dumplings in it. In North Karnataka (where I come from) we skip the pakodis. I love the way my Mom makes it – sweet, sour Palade (that’s what we call it), which can be had with rice or sipped as is. When I first tasted the Kadhi that my mother-in-law made, I was in for a surprise. While my Mom’s variety is mild in taste, my mother-in-law’s version was an explosion of all possible tastes in the mouth. She uses raw spices and this gives the Kadhi a totally different taste. This, in my opinion, is better as a standalone drink, it doesn’t taste that great with rice.

The recipe that my mother-in-law follows is supposedly very common in Jalgaon or Khandesh. Kadhi appears regularly in their diet and is even made in weddings. Since most weddings in Jalgaon happen in summer, Kadhi is offered to guests as a cooling drink – follow the recipe and just keep the Kadhi in a refrigerator and there it is as a thirst quencher. Buttermilk is of course good in beating the summer heat – add a few spices to it and the Kadhi goes down really well.

I usually make Kadhi in a normal steel vessel, but after the recommendation from my mother-in-law, I tried making it in an earthen pot. She is right, Kadhi tastes totally different and has that mild muddy taste to it. You can make it in any vessel you want – you will enjoy it all the same. If you choose to use an earthen pot, make the tempering in a steel vessel, pour in the buttermilk and then pour the contents to the earthen pot. Bring the Kadhi to a boil in the earthen pot. You can make the tempering in an earthen pot, I am sure, but I have not tried it.

Kadhi Simmering

Kadhi – Jalgaon Style
Serves 2

For Buttermilk:

1 cup Curd or Yogurt or 2 cups of Buttermilk
1 tsp Jowar flour (You can skip this if you don’t have it. Substitute with besan)
1 tsp Besan or Chickpea flour (2 tsp if you don’t have Jowar flour)
1/2 tsp Jeera powder
A pinch of Garam Masala
Salt to taste
3-4 Citric acid crystals, optional

For Tempering:

1/2 tsp Mustard seeds
1/2 Jeera
4 Peppercorns
4 Methi seeds
4 Clover
1 tsp Dagad phool
5-6 Garlic cloves, finely cut
3-4 Green chillies, finely cut
4-5 Curry leaves, cut

Method:

1. Add water to yogurt/curd and whisk to make buttermilk.
2. Add jowar flour, besan, garam masala, jeera powder and salt. Whisk again.

3. Heat oil in a vessel. Wait till the oil is piping hot, I mean real hot.
4. Gather all these ingredients in a big enough table spoon – mustard seeds, jeera, peppercorns, garlic,  clover, methi seeds, dagad phool, green chillies and curry leaves. When the oil is hot enough, then toss all these at once into the vessel and cover the vessel.
5. Keep the vessel covered and let the flame be high. After 1-2 minutes, the aroma of spices will begin to spread. Don’t worry if you smell something burnt. The key to this Kadhi is the burnt tempering.
6. Pour in the buttermilk to the vessel. Keep the vessel covered. You may want to switch on your chimney now.
7. Bring the Kadhi to a boil – on low flame and with frequent stirrings. The latter part is very important – if you don’t stir often enough, the buttermilk will lose its homogeneity.
8. Add salt. Add citric acid crystals if the buttermilk is not sour enough.
9. Garnish with coriander and enjoy it hot. Alternatively, bring Kadhi to room temperature, refrigerate it and enjoy it cold.

Kadhi All Ready

I am sending this post to Thanda Mela hosted by Srivalli.

Written by A

April 27, 2010 at 6:25 am

Posted in cooking, Drink, food

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