Archive for indian cuisine

Payatham Paruppu Masial ~ for CCC#56 July Week 4

Payatham Paruppu Masial

Payatham Paruppu Masial ~ Saturday evening snack

Hello friends! This is part of July Week 4 Cooking From Cookbook Challenge Group.

Cooking from Cookbook Challenge from Cooking4allseasons

After last week’s struggle to choose one recipe from too many cookbooks, I started looking early this week. The result? I recalled all the books I’ve rediscovered over the past month — and I had no trouble choosing something! I’m sure there’s a lesson to be learned here. For me this has been a great exercise in both spontaneity and discipline (the former I have to a great degree — the latter I sorely lack!). Mostly I appreciated the fun of cozying up with a good cookbook evenings! Thank you, Srivalli, for the chance to participate and I hope you keep the CCC Challenge going πŸ™‚

Dakshin

Dakshin ~ by Chandra Padmanabhan

I’ve had this book for years — mostly I enjoyed the photos and marveled at the sambhar recipes — some of which call for a *teaspoon*?!?! of toor dal. Someday I’ll try one one of those but I couldn’t bring myself to boil a teaspoon or two of dal in the hot summer kitchen. Instead I chose a quick recipe for a lazy Saturday night. I love the fragrance of fresh moong dal and this simple yet delicious recipe showcases it well. I made a few changes — added fresh brinjal from the garden and switched up the tadka process — but I was very happy with the end result. I now have work lunch for the week!

fresh garden veggies

fresh from the garden ~ brinjal, jalafuego peppers, and baby cilantro
(the summer squash went elsewhere!)

Payatham Paruppu Masial (Mashed Green Gram Dal)
From DakshinVegetarian Cuisine from South India by Chandra Padmanabhan

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For the dal:

1 c green gram dal (split moong)
3 c water
Juice from lemon-sized tamarind
6 green chiles, slit (I used 1 giant jalafuego)
1/2 tsp turmeric
salt to taste
chopped fresh cilantro

Fresh brinjal, chopped small (my addition)

To temper:

2 tsp ghee
1 tsp mustard seed
1 red chile
1/2 tsp hing (I used garlic instead, and plenty of it)
few curry leaves (I am out of fresh, so used some curry leaves powder above)

Wash and drain the dal. In a heavy pan, add dal and water and bring to a boil. Turn heat down, cover halfway, and simmer gently 1 1/2 hrs, stirring from time to time (I added chopped brinjal in the last 30 minutes). When cooked, remove from the heat and set aside. Do not drain.

adding the brinjal

adding the brinjal to creamy moong dal

Heat the ghee and add the tempering. When mustard splutters, add green chiles, tamarind juice, turmeric, curry leaves, and salt. Simmer until raw smell of tamarind disappears*. Now add undrained, cooked dal. Simmer until blended.

tadka

doing the tadka in my new tiny blue tadka pan!

Garnish with cilantro and serve, hot or warm, with rice or roti.

*I put the slit greenΒ jalafuego chile, tamarind water and salt into the dal the last 30 minutes, along with curry leaves powder. In my tadka I had mustard seed, red chiles, and chopped garlic only.

Payatham Paruppu Masial

It’s finished! (and a bit messy)

So there you have it, quick and easy mashed moong dal from Dakshin. Makes me want to cook the whole book!

brinjal and korean squash

Tomatoes and brinjal, with korean squash climbing the trellis!

juvenile downy woodpecker

cute little juvenile downy woodpecker ~ they have a red cap when young πŸ™‚

Happy Sunday!

 

 

 

 

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Cooking Out Of the Box, Literally ~ CCC#56 July Week 3

 

biryani from a mix

lamb biryani ~ out of the box

Hello friends! This is part of July Week 3 Cooking From Cookbook Challenge Group.

Cooking from Cookbook Challenge from Cooking4allseasons

I hope you won’t think I am completely crazy when I tell you that I couldn’t settle on a recipe from a cookbook this weekend! But I promise I didn’t resort to an online search πŸ™‚

It’s garden time in the north woods, and around here that means eating from the fridge and freezer to make room for all the good things to come. I found a pound of frozen lamb and made up my mind to use it in a biryani. After scouring my cookbooks (and I did search some good ones, including The Bombay Palace Cookbook by Stendahl and A Taste of India by Madhur Jaffrey), I found myself too lazy to start toasting and grinding. I had my lamb, but needed inspiration. I found it in a little pink box, which has lived in a cupboard affectionately named “little India” for over five years now — ever since I moved to the north woods of Michigan.

the front yard

leaning apple tree and euonymus bushes in the front yard

Over the years I have learned the difference between freshly made spice mixes and the packaged variety. I am not ashamed, however, to say I use packaged masalas — especially when I’m cooking something in a hurry for work lunch, etc… or when I am plain lazy. Searching in little India, I came across a little pink box of MDH Bombay Biryani Masala. Magic!

bombay biryani masala from MDH

the box from which I cooked!

Now I do use packaged mixes from time to time, but I do not often follow the recipes on the boxes. Why not use the recipe on the back of this? It was perfect. All the whole masalas were in the pouch along with the ground spices. I dug out a pair of reading glasses (yep, getting older!) and got to work. I switched up a few things here and there but basically followed the box recipe, which I give below, along with the changes I made. It came out great, I must admit!

Bombay Biryani a la MDH

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Wash and soak 1 lb basmati rice in 2x [its volume of] water for 20 minutes. (I had only 9 oz and used that).

Marinate 1 lb meat or chicken on the bone (I had boneless lamb), cut in cubes, in a mixture of ginger paste, garlic paste, salt, yogurt, and lemon juice (no measurements are given for this! I used about a cup of yogurt, 1 TB ginger paste, 1 tsp garlic paste, 1 TB lemon juice and very little salt –Β  seeing that’s the first ingredient of the packaged masala!).

Chop 6 oz (I used 8 oz) onions and 8 oz (I used 12 oz) potatoes into half inch dice. Fry in 4 oz vegetable oil (this was way too much for me so I used 1 oz ghee and 1 oz grapeseed oil, and that was a luxury!) until onions are brown and potatoes are cooked. Add 7 oz (I used 9 oz) chopped tomatoes and one pack of MDH Bombay Biryani Masala; mix well until tomatoes are soft. Add the meat and 3 c water; cover and simmer until meat is tender and liquid has mostly cooked down. Salt to taste.

Boil the soaked rice until half the water remains. In a large [dutch oven], layer the rice with the meat mixture. Add remaining water and steam until rice is fully cooked. Serve with yogurt or raita.

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The MDH Bombay Biryani Masala contains: salt, coriander, dried plum, red chili, fennel, mango, cassia, musk melon, turmeric, cumin, cloves, cardamom amomum seeds, garlic, black pepper, green cardomom, nutmeg, and mace.

I added: 1 small eggplant, cut into cubes, and 1 c frozen carrots

This was SUPER spicy and excellent actually, with the biggest black cardamoms I’ve ever seen included in the mix.

MDH bombay biryani masala

the contents of the spice pouch from MDH Bombay Biryani Masala

I am sure biryani is not a new process but my cooking photos are below — I added cashews and golden sultanas poached in ghee at the end — it was Saturday night after all!

veggies for biryani

tomatoes and masala added to the browned onions, potatoes, carrots and eggplant

lamb has been marinating in yogurt and gg paste

lamb is added, after marinating in yogurt, ginger and garlic

mix well!

mixed well and ready to cook

biryani base cooked

the biryani base is now cooked down and super-spicy!

the rice is added

layered with rice and ready to finish

garnished with golden sultanas and cashews

garnished with golden sultanas and cashews fried in ghee

biryani is done!

it’s done! gently turning it over

So there you have it — my “out of the box” lamb biryani. I made raita with — what else — some MDH raita masala (and one of the first little cukes from the garden).Β  I took a few pics but it was missing something — finally I figured it out. The pickle!

lamb biryani

lamb biryani with cucumber raita and mango pickle

Incidentally — the history of MDH spices (my favorite packaged mixes with the exception of sambhar podi, for which I turn to Sakthi) is very interesting and also inspiring. You can read about Mahashaya Dhampal, founder of the modern-day company, here; it is worth a look πŸ™‚

And now, it’s time to start sifting through the cookbooks for next weekend. Happy Sunday!

bush pickles

bush pickles — cucumber for raita came from these!

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Tamba di Bhaji with Rainbow Chard ~ for Cooking with Cookbook Challenge

cookbook shelf

part ofΒ  our collection of cookbooks

Hello friends!

This is part of July Week 2 Cooking From Cookbook Challenge Group.

Cooking from Cookbook Challenge from Cooking4allseasons

Actually, this is my first post for S’s Cooking from Cookbook Challenge #56. I’m sorry I didn’t get in last weekend but I’ll try to do two posts on another weekend to make up for it. I hope that’s ok πŸ™‚

rainbow chard

rainbow chard

This was the perfect challenge for me, because I collect cookbooks. When I moved from Massachusetts to the north woods of Michigan, one of the first things I wanted unpacked was my collection — at least some of it — and Dear G obliged by building a bookshelf in the kitchen right under the new spice cabinet! Now it’s overflowing with his cookbooks and mine — maybe time for a new shelf this fall? πŸ˜‰

I was so glad to get back to the bookshelf and away from the omnipresent online search for recipes. I spent several happy evenings this week dusting off some old friends from the collection, until I finally settled on a recipe from this tome:

India Cookbook by Pushpesh Pantrainbow pages

photo page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

India Cookbook by Pushpesh Pant – I just love the rainbow-colored pages of this one!

This giant book even comes in a “rice” bag!

book bag

cookbook bag!

ingredients for tamba di bhaji

ingredients for tamba di bhaji ~ simple and delicious

It’s garden time again, and the end of June/early July has been H-O-T hot! Thank goodness for that, because everything got a late start due to a lingering winter. We were nearly a month behind starting. However, as mom reminds me, my papa used to say the best garden he ever had was planted on the 4th of July! We were a bit ahead of that.

I have no complaints as there’s plenty of goodness in the gardens already. The early harvest includes mountains of swiss chard in every color. I thought their deep green leaves and rainbow stems would be a good substitute for red amaranthus leaves called for in the recipe I chose for the challenge. Dear G moved the peppers down to the back garden to change things up this year, and they are growing like mad.Β What a delight it is to go traipsing barefooted through the back yard, into the pepper plantation and pick out a fresh green chile for supper.

peppers and okra

part of the pepper plantation and okra in the fore

tender stems of rainbow chard

tender stems of rainbow chard

Tamba di Bhaji (with Rainbow Swiss Chard) adapted from:
INDIA Cookbook by Pushpesh Pant

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1 tsp grapeseed oil
1 onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1-2 green chiles (I slit mine)
1 large bunch swiss chard – washed well, tender stems chopped and leaves shredded
1-2 TB grated coconut (mine is frozen)
fresh curry leaves or curry leaves powder
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

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Cook the chopped tender stems in a small amount of salted water, about 10 minutes. Hold aside.

In your stir-fry pan, heat the oil over medium heat and add onion. Cook until nearly translucent, then add garlic and green chile — also curry leaves if using fresh. Cook a further 10 minutes and add the shredded chard leaves.

Stir well. Cover and cook 10-15 minutes, or until chard is wilted well. Sprinkle some water to be sure nothing burns. Stir in the tender stems, add curry leaves powder if using, coconut, and salt to taste. Mix well, reduce heat to low, and cook a further 5-10 minutes. Serve hot with rice for a quick supper. Also – don’t forget the black pepper at the end as it really makes the dish.

We had ours with Thai sticky rice – G’s new favorite.

supper!

tamba di bhaji with rainbow chard

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Thanks Srivalli for bringing back the Cooking From Cookbook Challenge Group just in time for summertime veggies! I am already inspired for next week πŸ™‚

early girl tomatoes

early girl tomatoes bleaching out

 

sweet peas

sweet peas in summer? only in the north woods πŸ˜‰

part of the back garden - tomatoes and eggplant

part of the back garden ~ brinjal and tomatoes with marigolds galore

korean squash climbing the trellis

korean squash is already climbing the trellis

summer squash and okra

potatoes in boxes to the rear; back end of the pepper plantation; summer squash and baby lebanese zucchini plants; okra and garlic chives to the left

gongura seedlings

gongura seedlings

monarch on milkweed

all of dear g’s hard work planting and maintaining milkweed finally pays off with a beautiful monarch butterfly

Happy Sunday!

 

 

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Jacques Pepin Meets Solai ~ Braised Baby Potatoes and Green Jackfruit in Coconut

garlic

home grown garlic ~ the first time!

We dug some early potatoes last week and they’ve been drying out/curing on a rack in the back room with the garlic dug in July. Today I brought everything outside — trimmed the stems and roots of garlic, brushed the remaining dirt from the potatoes, and sorted through it all in preparation for storage.

trimmed garlic

nice and neat and ready to eat!

The smallest potatoes were starting to turn a bit soft so I brought those inside, scrubbed ’em up, and thought of Jacques Pepin’s braised-and-browned-in-butter baby potatoes. One incarnation of that classic, delicious recipe lives here.

I had no chicken broth on hand, but I did have this wonderful emergency coconut milk in the fridge. I also had a can of green jackfruit. Immediately I thought of Solai’s amazing palakkai pirattal recipe, to which I always add more potato than called for… ring ring… hello? Fusion calling! This one is rich with butter, but soooo tasty.

Baby Potatoes and Green Jackfruit Braised in Coconut

1 can green jackfruit, rinsed to remove acidic taste, cut in small pieces

3-4 cups baby potatoes, washed well (cut larger ones in half)

3 TB butter

1 tsp fennel seed

1/2 tsp cumin seed

1/2 tsp mustard seed

small piece cinnamon

2-3 black cardamom

1/2 tsp red chili pwd

1/2 tsp turmeric

3-5 cloves garlic, chopped

So Delicious-type coconut milk to cover halfway (about 1 cup)

Salt and pepper to taste

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baby potatoes and jackfruit

baby potatoes and green jackfruit waiting for a bath in spiced butter

Over med-high heat, melt the butter in a wide pan and add the whole spices, red chili and turmeric pwds, and fresh garlic. Saute a few moments, then add cut jackfruit. Stir to coat with the masala, then add baby potatoes and stir again to coat. Let it sizzle on medium-high heat 5-6 minutes, stirring to prevent burning.

coat with spiced butter

bathing in spiced butter

Now add coconut milk to cover the veggies about halfway, stir to combine, and bring to a simmer.

add the coconut milk

swimming in flavor!

Once simmering, prick the potatoes with a fork, lower the heat to med-low, cover, and cook about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. By now the potatoes should be tender — uncover and lightly press on each potato to crack it. Leave the cover off and cook an additional 5-10 minutes, or until most of the liquid has been absorbed.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Switch off the heat and serve hot with rice or bread — alternatively, allow to cool completely and eat the next day (even better!).

yummy baby potatoes and green jackfruit in spiced butter

it’s ready!

After a few warm days the garden is really starting to produce…

kentucky blue pole beans and tomatoes

kentucky blue pole beans ~ about 4 qts! with marianna’s peace and lemon boy tomatoes

korean squash blossom

korean squash blossom

korean squash

and the korean squash ~ variety pum ae

lebanese zucchini

lebanese zucchini are catching up

kai lan or gai lan - chinese broccoli

for autumn ~ kai lan or gai lan ~ chinese broccoli ~ quick growing radish interspersed

moolie-cat-in-a-basket

moolie-cat-in-a-basket

Happy Sunday!

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Kohlrabi Sambhar — Take Three

coneflowers

coneflowers in the perennial bed

I always get a kick out of revisiting old posts – especially when I’ve been away from the blog awhile. Such have been my recent evenings, lazily going back in time and rediscovering lots of fun and food. It’s quite relaxing until it makes me hungry and I find myself rummaging in the kitchen — in search of something quick to whip up to quell that late-night craving!

We’re finally beginning to pick a few things from the garden — most everything is a month behind this year due to a chilly spring. Tonight I snapped up the three kohlrabi plants that had actually formed a bulb — most were stolen by slugs until I learned the cornmeal trick, but that’s for another day. I salvaged a few nice looking leaves and peeled the baby bulbs, thinking I’d cook them with the greens for something simple at work tomorrow. If you’ve never tried them, the aroma of fresh kohlrabi greens simmering is one of the greatest culinary delights! I learned this long ago from Anita, and I have made her delicious monjji haakΒ countless times since.

This concoction was merrily bubbling away tonight when suddenly I wanted more. I wanted sambhar. I remembered its two previous incarnations here and here, but I wasn’t so ambitious. Then I remembered the sweet and sour khichiri I made last week when G had an upset stomach. Oh, such a happy revelation for my lazy self! All I had to do was toss that into the simmering pot, add the cubed kohlrabi, some sambhar powder and just a splash of tamarind water and voila! Instant, if somewhat uninspired, kohlrabi sambhar, my very favorite, appeared before my eyes, complete with built-in rice πŸ™‚

instant kohlrabi sambhar

instant kohlrabi sambhar

garlic and baby kohlrabi

baby kohlrabi on the right, on the left is garlic!

baby kohlrabi

the baby kohlrabi forming a bulb

Happy Monday!

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Happy Gardening from the North Woods!!

potted herbs 72217.JPG

potted herbs in the north woods – basil, thai basil, cilantro, and dill

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fresh dhania from the garden

Hooray for summer weather!

I am in arrears again — posting arrears! Do you even remember me, friends? I remember you all! πŸ™‚

School had barely ended last August when the busy autumn appeared and I was consumed with job-hunting and visiting back to my kids and my folks in Massachusetts. The visiting was a huge success.

Home again to Michigan, dear G and I settled in for the end of winter here in the North Woods. January and February were quite mild , but it turned out to be a long, chilly March into spring. Over the winter months we organized the garden seeds, and did some indoor planting with the new grow-shelf! This has turned out to be a perfect set up, and not expensive at all.

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lots of little tomato and eggplant seedlings under the grow-lights!

This year we are trying some dwarf tomatoes. The Dwarf Tomato Project strives to combine heirloom tomato size and flavor with smaller plants for smaller spaces. I am excited and have high hopes for fabulous tomatoes with less disease/trouble! You can check it out here:

Craig LeHoullier’s Dwarf Tomato Project site

Spring finally did arrive and with it a new job for me. I was lucky enough to land a job as a legal assistant for a local attorney — just what I hoped for! It’s a total career change and I have so much to learn — thankfully my new boss is patient and a great teacher. That said, I barely cook on the weeknights now — all this using one’s brain at work is tiring! πŸ˜‰ That means weekends are made for cooking and gardening. Although I don’t grow cauliflower, I love the huge $3 heads that appear this time of year — one could make meals for a week! Tonight I chopped one in half and came up with this mixed bag from a variety of sources — mostly Chef Harpal Singh and Manjula’s Kitchen πŸ™‚ I also cheated with a can of Progresso Vegetable Soup — that stood in for tomatoes as I had none. Do you guys ever watch cooking videos? I love them! Anyway, here’s my takeaway from those and thanks to the chefs! πŸ˜‰

Spicy Cauliflower Yogurt Masala Gravy

For the base:

2 tsp canola oil or ghee

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp fennel seeds

1 tsp mustard seeds

2 tsp ginger-garlic paste

1 medium onion, sliced thinly

2 tomatoes, chopped (or cheat, like me, with a can of soup!)

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp red chili pwd

2 tsp dhania-jeera pwd

1 tsp amchur pwd

1/2 tsp garam masala pwd

1/2 large head cauliflower, cut into florets (about 4 cups)

For masala yogurt gravy:

2 TB oil or ghee

1 tsp kalonji seeds

2 TB besan

1 tsp garam masala pwd

1 tsp kashmiri chili pwd (optional)

1 c yogurt, beaten smooth

salt to taste

fresh cilantro to taste

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Make the base:

Heat oil or ghee over med-high and add cumin, fennel, and mustard seeds. Let them sizzle and add ginger garlic paste, stir a few seconds, then add onion. Lower the heat and cook 10 minutes, stirring, until onion is golden. Add the tomatoes (or soup) and the turmeric, red chili, amchur, dhania-jeera, and garam masala powders, along with a good pinch of salt. Mix well, reduce heat to med-low and cover. Let this simmer for 10-15 minutes until tomatoes are cooked or soup has thickened. Use an immersion blender to mix this all to a smooth gravy. Add cauliflower florets and 1/2 cup water. Mix well, cover, and cook over med-low until cauliflower is done to your liking – about 10-15 minutes for tender.

Make the masala yogurt gravy:

Meanwhile, in a small pan, heat the oil or ghee over medium heat. Add kalonji, let them sizzle, then add besan and cook, stirring well, for 4-5 minutes or until toasted and fragrant. Add garam masala and optional kashmiri chili pwd – mix well. Off the heat, add the beaten yogurt and mix to combine. Add this to the cauliflower base mixture and stir well. Cover and cook on low for a further 5-10 minutes. Taste for salt, add fresh chopped cilantro and it’s done!

cauliflower masala.JPG

Perfect for rice as it makes lots of rich, spicy gravy — this one is a keeper.

I miss my blog hopping and all of my dear friends, so hope to spend some time doing that over the remainder of the summer — it will be fun to see who is still around!

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I’ll leave you with some pics of the little gardens in the north woods πŸ™‚

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African queen potato-leaf var.Β  – baby tomatoes

bee bath 72217.jpg

bee bath full of petoskey stones from lake michigan

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black krim tomatoes from seed – in the front herb garden with horseradish, my nana’s rhubarb, and a few weeds πŸ˜‰

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korean squash growing up the trellis — corn behind

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dear g built a two-step deck for the tomatoes!

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orient charm, orient express, and thai long green eggplants – they love to live in pots on the tomato deck

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giant mariachi pepper plant – a fresno type – hope they will ripen to red!

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lemur in bee balm πŸ™‚

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Ringing in the Season with Curry Leaves Galore

tiny christmas tree
our tiny tabletop tree ~ complete with clementines and christmas candy

When I moved to northern Michigan, I knew I would miss the proximity to the Indian and other Asian grocery stores that I loved so much. Now, nearly two years later, I have learned to handle this minor inconvenience. I shopped around town and discovered ghee and a few other staples at Meijer’s supermarket — who knew? Meijer’s even boasts an expanded produce section — think bottle gourd and small brinjals and greens of every description — once I even found fresh methi there and I nearly cried!! I found a Latin American store which sells rice and tapioca flours, dried chiles and cumin, and many great veggies such as chiles, cilantro and limes which are cheaper and fresher than the supermarket variety. I grew my own Korean radishes in the garden for making kimchi. The one thing that eluded me was curry leaves.

Then I happily stumbled upon NJ’s Grocery in the tiny village of Lake Leelanau, on the beautiful Leelanau Peninsula. NJ’s is a sweet little hometown grocery store, offering the usual everyday groceries, produce, its own small meat counter and deli, and… homemade Indian cuisine!? How lucky could I be? Just a half hour’s scenic drive up West Bay from work there was a tiny Little India awaiting me, complete with a few dals and spices on the shelves. One look at the dishes on offer and I knew someone must have access to … ahem … the elusive curry leaves. Of course I am not shy, so I asked πŸ™‚

Rosie, the kind lady in the kitchen, was good enough to sell me some of her stock of lovely curry leaves — albeit frozen — which I otherwise would have no hope of obtaining. This is what I have been using in sambhar and other dishes since I arrived in the north woods. Then I traveled back to Boston for Thanksgiving last month. I ventured out with little m on a shopping extravaganza. From Patel’s in Waltham I scooped up bags of Haldiram’s cornflakes mixture (dear G’s fav!), some of my fav Gujarati fafda, a few harder-to-find spices, and about 10 packages of dreamy looking fresher-than-fresh greener-than-green curry leaves to carry home with me.

fresh curry leaves podi
precious cargo ~ fresh curry leaves and the tasty podi they made!

Back in the north woods, I immediately cooked up several sambhars and curries absolutely loaded with my fragrant find.

chicken curry with curry leaves galore!
chicken curry with curry leaves galore!

I froze a couple of packages, but I can *get* them frozen now. I searched and searched for the perfect way to preserve my bounty. Finally I decided on this tasty-looking recipe from Sangeetha of Spicy Treats. I made it tonight and it is absolutely divine! I followed Sangeetha’s recipe with few changes — I increased the garlic, reduced the red chilies, and forgot the jeera! 😦 Nevertheless, I was so happy with the way the toasted curry leaves ground to a fine powder with the fragrant dals and hing… the first time I have made a podi that came out so soft and … well … powdery! Thanks for the great recipe, Sangeetha πŸ™‚

curry leaves podi with rice and ghee
the fresh curry leaves podi with rice and ghee… mmmm

Of course, I saved a couple (ok, a few) packets of curry leaves from the deep-freeze because… I now am sufficiently encouraged to try my hand at ISG’s famous sambhar powder!

rice with curry leaves podi and ginger-lime rasam
the yummy curry leaves rice with ginger-lime rasam from Anushruti’s Divine Taste ~ another delicious recipe!

pinks and gibby
pinks and gibby are sleeping by the fire ~ all is cozy in the north woods

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Gardening in the Cool of the North Woods

back garden complete with bat house
the little garden in the north woods ~ the red house on the pole is the bat house that dear G built to entice the creatures to our yard and gardens ~ first he built the house, then he hauled in a tree trunk and affixed the house to the top, then he *dug a hole* to set it in the ground ~ he is so clever πŸ™‚

Hello friends!

I’m thankful to say that the 5th term of school is over and there are still a few days before the 6th begins. We were able to take a quick trip to the Upper Peninsula in search of boats and birds and agates… then home to tend the gardens before heading back to work tomorrow.

grand sable dunes
sunset over grand sable dunes in the UP ~ storm rolling in

It’s been a very cool summer — things are growing, but s l o w l y….

back garden
the little garden out back ~ corn tops out at about 8′ high!

brussels sprouts
brussels sprouts growing in the big garden ~ waiting for fall to produce

korean radish
korean radishes have been a surprise success ~ I’ve already made Maangchi’s Kkakdugi with a few!

korean squash
korean squash baby with blossom waiting to open

maybe a kobocha?
winter squash have been another surprise success ~ this one’s a mystery ~ buttercup? kabocha?

pepper plantation
the pepper plantation is flourishing in spite of the cool weather

ridge gourd blossom
beautiful ridge gourd blossom

summer squash
summer squash was planted late

sunflowers
sunflowers bring the goldfinches and other birds

Tonight I made rasavangi with the first of the brinjals (yep, first! in August!?) and a Korean squash. It was based loosely on this recipe from Sruthi’s Kitchen — completely delicious!

Sadly the tomatoes all have a disease which is killing the foliage — but doesn’t seem to stop the fruit from growing. Here’s hoping for heat to ripen them before frost.

How does your garden grow?

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Pumpkin Sambhar ~ Literally!

During my short break from classes, I am having a blast just going to work and coming home — sometimes even having a day off like today. I was poking around for something to do with a leftover ‘pie pumpkin’ from the fall. After Halloween, a local farm stand had these for fifty cents apiece and I couldn’t resist — I bought three. Two went out to the deer.

two fawns
two fawns at the bird feeder in broad daylight ~ that’s how cold it is and how hungry they are

With the last pumpkin, I thought I might make this pumpkin soup in a pumpkin.

As usual when I have time on my hands (a rare occurrence these days!), my mind started turning after reading the recipe. I decided it would be far more fun to make sambhar. OK, I know, when is it NOT more fun to make sambhar? Never! But this sambhar is baked in the pumpkin.

I made a regular onion sambhar with some carrot as well. I added fennel seeds and fresh garlic to the usual tadka, and a pinch each of ginger powder and nutmeg powder with the sambhar powder. A little extra tamarind water offset the sweetness of pumpkin. I made the sambhar on the stovetop, but did not cook the veggies all the way. I hollowed out the pumpkin, rubbed it with oil outside, and filled it with the half-done sambhar. Baked in a 350F oven for about two hours, the sambhar came out delicious. The fringe benefit was the pumpkin bowl — its softened insides bathed in all the spices and just waiting to be scraped out into the sambhar. A little bit of trouble but well worth it!

pumpkin and onions
hollowed out pumpkin with unusually small regular yellow onions ~ I treated them as sambhar onions and they worked perfectly

sambhar ~ ready to bake in a pumpkin
all ready to bake ~ I covered the pumpkin with its natural lid for the first hour ~ then removed the lid and baked an hour longer

voila ~ sambhar in a pumpkin!
voila! sambhar in a pumpkin bowl ~ perfect comfort food for the cold weather

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Back To School

office assistant searching for APA citations...
my office assistant ~ searching for proper APA citations πŸ™‚

After years away from school, I found a way to finish my bachelor’s degree online!

This is very exciting… but I don’t have a minute to breathe.
I work, I study, I sleep. When I study, I am lost in a sea of APA citations. When I sleep, I have nightmares about APA citations.
I think one could get a PhD in APA citations alone! 😦

But all work and no play makes a grumpy Linda πŸ™‚

Tonight I took an hour off to make to a dish I have been craving ever since I left Massachusetts — months ago now. I have canned jackfruit in the cupboard, which is what I always used. Somehow I had convinced myself that I didn’t have time to make it. I wasn’t worth it? HA.

Why do you suppose we deny ourselves permission to do the things we love best? Well, leaving social science behind, suffice to say that this evening, at long last, I made dear Solai’s jackfruit pirattal once again.

If you have never tried Solai’s jackfruit, I say, do! It’s beyond simplicity and beyond delicious. Plus it gives me reason to forage in the spice cupboard I took over in the north woods, which around here is affectionately known as “Little India”. :):):)

In the first three weeks of school, I have made A grades. The rice is nearly done. My kids, DG, and the kitties are cozy warm in their respective beds. All is right with my little world… and I hope, with yours too πŸ™‚

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