Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A week of rain

I almost skipped yoga class last Wednesday because of the downpour, and here I am, feeling lazy to go to class this evening because it's still raining. I haven't seen the sun for a full week! I am thoroughly enjoying the cool temperatures and the steaming cups of chai with fresh mint that go with.

All this rain has mostly kept us indoors and I have been crafting a fair bit. I finished knitting a knee-high sock and cast on for the second one, and I finished sewing a couple of tops and a skirt. Quite productive but they still have to be photographed.

I do, however, have photos of some of the things I cooked over the weekend. You may have noticed that a lot of the photos that I have been posting here lately (especially of dinner) are rather dark. I have been playing around with the settings on my camera in an effort to take better pictures in low light conditions without the flash. Seems like I am now able to shoot dark photos with less of a blur!

I'll try and take some photos of my sewing this week. In the meanwhile, here are a few from the weekend.

Tamarind rice
Tamarind rice with vaal

Alu saag
Aloo saag

Sweet potato chips
Tea time snack: spicy sweet potato chips

Chilli paneer
Chilli paneer in-progress

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Pomfret in a green curry

One of the things I like most about cooking in India is shopping for the ingredients. It takes a while, mind you, but it's always nice when the vegetable vendor recognises me with a smile and the grocer asks after my husband if he hasn't seen him for a while. It is a very personal shopping experience and sometimes I have to avoid certain stalls simply because I'm in a hurry and can't chat!

Pomfret in a green curry

When it comes to buying fish, however, I rely on my aunt or mother. I'm not really sure how to recognise 'fresh' fish. Last week, I got some pointers from our neighbour (a different one from the last post) and bought some pomfret from the lady who sells fish door-to-door.

Pomfret in a green curry

I used my grand mum's recipe, given to me by my aunt. Here's what I did:


1 smal onion
1/2 cup grated fresh coconut
3-4 green chillies
4-5 cloves of garlic
1/4" piece ginger
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp corriander seeds
3-4 pepper corns
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
1 lime-sized piece of tamarind soaked in water
1 bunch fresh corriander (cilantro)

1/2 kg pomfret
1/2 tsp tumeric
2 medium-sized tomatoes, cut in quarters

To make:
  1. Wash and salt fish. Set aside in a collander.
  2. Grind first 11 ingredients in a food processor. Add water as required to make a thick paste.
  3. Heat saucepan. Add oil and the fabulously green paste and tumeric. Fry for 5 minutes.
  4. Add fish. Cook a while, add quartered tomatoes.
  5. Cover saucepan. Turn gas off when fish is cooked completely.
  6. Serve after 5 minutes.
Pomfret in a green curry

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Fire in the house

Stuffed brinjal
Wangi aka brinjal aka aubergine aka eggplant.

When I tasted the bharleli wangi (stuffed brinjal) my neighbour brought over the other day, I immediately wanted the recipe. She was happy to share it, so I went over on Monday and watched over her shoulder and took notes as she made some. She even sent me back with some of her special Kolhapuri masala.

Stuffed brinjal
It's the deeper red masala on the top of the photo. I added way more peanuts than shown in this photo.

Turns out that once each year, they visit their preferred masala shop in the old part of the city and pick up ingredients for a batch of masala which they then grind and store for the entire year. This year they made 3 kilograms! The masala includes corriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, onions seeds, cloves, and tens of other spices, giving it a rich, complex flavour.

Stuffed brinjal

So I made some bharleli wangi last night. And...it was absolutely delicious but way too spicy. About ten times too spicy! Seriously. I guess I didn't realise the full potential of the special masala.

Stuffed brinjal
So spicy, I almost forgot to take a picture once it was ready. Left overs.

But I still have some unused masala and I plan to make it again one of these days. My neighbour didn't specify any measures or proportions, so it's just a list of ingredients, really. To help me remember:

Finely chopped onions
Cumin seeds
Kolhapuri masala
Turmeric powder
Roasted+ coarsely ground peanuts
Roasted+ground cashew nuts

Mix the above ingredients together. Wash brinjal, cut tip of stalk keeping base intact. Score brinjal, cutting almost all the way to the stalk. Saving some of the mix for later, stuff spice mix into each brinjal carefully.

Heat oil, throw in some cumin seeds, sugar (a pinch, for colour), add remaining mix, stuffed brinjal, water. Cook. Add chopped fresh corriander. Serve.

Hopefully take two will be significantly less fiery!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Built by me: Simplicity 3835

I had cut out the pattern to make view C several months ago but never got down to sewing it. That's certainly not because it's a complicated one! I've used this pattern at least three times before so it was a good way to dust off my sewing machine, which incidentally needed some coaxing before it started working again.

Simplicity 3835

The fabric is a bright cotton-silk blend. I cut out size 4 but used 1/2" seam allowances instead of 5/8". I could just as easily have cut out size 6 and stuck to the 5/8" seam allowance. I used back darts for some shaping and skipped the elastic for the sleeves and neck to give it a more classic look. Besides, I wanted to tweak the pattern a bit to make it a little more challenging!

Simplicity 3835

In lieu of the elastic, I made some pleats on the sleeve caps and gathers around the rest of the neck, and used bias tape to finish it. Initially, I didn't make any neck gathers but it was gaping pretty badly, so I had to incorporate a few.

Quick, easy and a pop of colour to compensate for grey monsoon skies!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Super sized

Super size
Chicken tikka kathi roll - possibly my husband's favourite snack!

We were gone four months, and now you can "upgrade" your meal at the local kathi roll joint.

Super size
Add a bag of chips and iced tea.

It's still a very tasty bite!