Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Bollywood Balle Balle

Imagine this. Early Morning, am tuned in to NPR while trying to concentrate on the road instead of dozing off and what hits me but the song "Saawariya....blah, blah, blah". I was not particulalry fond of the movie or the song but it being on NPR at 7:15 in the morning, robbed sleep off my eyes

NPR discusses Hollywood forays into Mumbai, and says,

"And though Hollywood likes to think of itself as the world's biggest movie town, those billion-plus movie-mad Indians are served by a home-grown movie industry — the entertainment machine some refer to as Bollywood — that annually puts out more than twice as many movies as its U.S. competition. Hollywood, no surprise, is hungry for a piece of that market."

To make a place in the Indian market for themselves Hollywood is now trying to produce Hindi Movies. Ok they first tried to woo Indian audience by dubbing SpiderMan 3 in Bhojpuri but the Makad Manav didn't really charm the Indian audience it seems, so they thought ok let us just produce the next WXYZ by Karan Johar. Karan Johar was not in town or whatever and they got hold of Sanjay Bhansali.

"That's why Sony became the first major Hollywood studio to produce a Hindi-language film."

The film was "Sawariya" which failed miserably but,

"Sony executives say they plan on making more movies in Mumbai. There's even a sense that one of these days, movies from India may become as much of a force in the world as Hollywood pictures. " Amen to that

And now Disney is making an animation feature Roadside Romeo for the Indian Market.

And why is this on my food blog, because,

""Culturally, India is much more connected with our own movies and our own stars, much like our food," says Uday Singh, managing director of Sony Pictures in India

NPR Story here

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Yogurt Parfait with Dates

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Weekend is over, it is cold & drizzling out,

3 loads of laundry -- done,
3 dishes cooked for the week -- done,
tomorrows lunch -- done,
the bathroom scrubbed – partly done,

a dinner attended -- done,
Ma-in-laws birthday celebrated -- done,
3 rounds of grocery stores -- done,
Dump the daughter on the hubby – done kind of,

Indian Chinese Restaurant for lunch -- done,
Called up home – done
Found a 24” suitcase for a friend – done
Scour the hardware store to find the perfect color for basement wall – still searching

A single serving of yogurt parfait to be done for the blog -- done
Take the shot -- done
Shared the parfait with D and S (there was only a single serving remember) -- done
Blogging -- waiting

Yogurt parfait with dates and pomegranate

Get some thick yogurt

Drain the whey by doling out the yogurt on a sieve and letting it drain. If you don’t have a sieve use a colander lined with cheesecloth

Add figs and raisins on the bottom layer

Add half the yogurt

Drizzle some honey

Add rest of the yogurt

Add chopped dates, pomegranate seeds, honey and a sprinkle of flax seeds

Refrigerate and serve chilled after an hour

Use any other fruits and layer according to your choice

Blogging -- DONE !!!. This goes to Chandrika for AFAM -- Dates. Heard she is still accepting entries, is she...

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Fish Chops that were Baked

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“What is my color, Mummy”, she said, among all the prattling from the backseat.

The only things I love listening to while driving is NPR, Kishore, Rafi, Asha, Indranil and myself. But as fate has it, as soon as S is strapped into her car seat, she demands NPR to be switched off and the stereo volume cranked up blaring “Malish…tel malish…” or “baranday roddur…” at my eardrums.

On top of this she prattles, stating her opinion about life in general and throws questions at me now & then. I usually get by saying that I need to pay attention to my driving else I may bang onto someone and given my bang-bang history she leaves me alone and continues with her opinions.

This unassuming question caught me unprepared though. I was almost about to bump into the Ford Focus in front as words like racism, apartheid, mutiny, dowry deaths and what not crossed my mind. You know how I over react.

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She was not white and no it definitely didn't look brown.

Was it India, I like my Ma would have steadfastly stuck to fair while the neighbours, the milkman, the bai and everyone else insisted on medium or even dark. Now those are not colors, and I was a dumb child.

Given the L’Oreal swatches and half an hour I could maybe figure out that she might be dangling between Nude Beige and Sand Beige, but of course I couldn’t say that. Whoever says “Please my colour is Nude Beige….arrrrrgh”

And then she wanted a color that was in her Crayola box of twelve’s and not a shade in Benjamin Moore color palette. So I was at a loss and said what a clever, articulate, smart, loving, domestic diva and non-domestic smartass Mommy would do.

I said “What do you think?”

She said “Umm… orange”

Very carefully with fear in my heart I asked “And me…what is my color?”

She said “ You are orange too… baba is orange, thammi (paternal grandma) is orange”

Huh, United Colors Of Benetton, please take note while I have some nicely browned Fish Chops.

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These fish chops were baked instead of frying. Fish Chop or Macher Chop is something which every Bengali household holds a patent on. They are traditionally deep fried and also the actual macher chop has a spicy mashed potato casing stuffed with spicy fish stuffing.
I did not want to use to much potato so did not make the version with the casing this time. The fried ones taste better and if you want to you can deep fry them. I wanted to bake and not deep fry so I tried out the baked version over the weekend.


Fish Chop

Made 15 of them. sizes were on the smaller side though

What You Need

Onion Paste ~ 8 tbsp
Ginger & Garlic paste ~ 2 tbsp

Tuna ~ 2 cans of Light Tuna in Water. My Ma who does not get tuna uses fish filet , cooks them and mashes them to a kind of a paste !!!
Mashed Potato ~ 1 cup (I cooked 2 large size potatoes and mashed them up.)

Tomato Ketchup ~ 1 -2 tbsp. I used Maggi Hot & Sweet which is a spicy yet sweet tomato sauce
Red Chilli Powder ~ 1 tsp or more depending on your spice level
Bhaja Masala or Garam masala ~ 1 tsp loosely packed
Raisins ~ 1/3 cup

Green Chillies ~ 6-7 or less
Fresh Green Corriander ~ finely chopped about a handful

Sugar ~ 1/2 tsp heaped
Oil ~ 3 tbsp for making the stuffing + 1 tsp for greasing the tawa/griddle

How I Did It

Making of Mashed Potato (Yeah, as if you needed to know that)

Boil 2 Potatoes large sized. I used my Pressure Cooker. You can also microwave if you know how
Got rid of the skin
Mashed them with the back of a flat spatula till there were no more lumps and added a little salt and red chilli powder. Smooth it was. Used 1 cup of this. Leftovers if any, were had with rice with and a dash of mustard oil and green chillies


Make the Onion Paste
Make the fresh Ginger-Garlic Paste. You can always do this beforehand as I do. You can also use straight out of the jar.
Open the can of tuna and drain all the water . Best to dump it on a sieve and drain the last drop of water out.


Heat Oil in a Kadhai/Frying Pan
Add the Onion Paste and about 1/2 tsp of sugar and fry till they turn pinkish brown
Add the Ginger-Garlic paste and the chopped Green Chillies and sauté till the masala looks done
Add the drained tuna and cook mixing the masala well with the tuna till fish is cooked
Add 1 tbsp of my all time favorite Magii Hot&Sweet. Go with your favorite if you have any
Add the 1 cup of mashed potato
Add Red chilli powder and salt
Fry till the masala mixes well with the whole stuff.
Sprinkle a little of the Dry Roasted Masala
Add about 1/2 cup of chopped corriander to get that fresh dhaniya smell
Add the raisins
Cool and keep aside

Make small flat round balls of this mixture. Not very flat they should have a 3rd dimension.
Dip in a batter of egg wash, roll in bread crumbs and refrigerate for half an hour or more

In a flat non-stick Tawa or griddle smear about 1 tsp of oil or grease with Pam spray.
Brown the fish balls on both sides.
Sprinkle semolina/sooji on a baking tray and arrange the browned flat balls on it. Alternately you can lightly grease the bake tray and put the balls on it.
Heat oven to 400F.
Bake for 30-40 minutes (this time may vary). They would be nicely browned by this time.
Enjoy with some home made chutney or my favorite Maggi Hot & Sweet

But seriously what do you say when your kid asks such questions, whatever part of the world you are from ? Do we just let them figure it out or do we really need to find the right color ?

Edited to Add: First of all maybe I should make it clear, S asked this question out of pure interest, more I think because she was wondering what she would paint her paper figurine ( a life size paper cut out of herself) with.
I don't think there were discussions as such in her school, those discussions will surely come later.

Trivia:Fresh tuna is an oily fish, high in fatty acids. But when it's canned, these fatty acids are reduced to levels similar to white fish. So, although canned tuna is a healthy choice for most people, it doesn't count as oily fish.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Fresh Snow

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Do you ever cry ? Not the kind of crying at the time of immense grief or sorrow. Not crying in happiness either. Crying when your pent up emotions need a release, the anger needs a way out, the stress needs to be busted. Yes counting from 1 to 10 and further and deep breaths might help. Hitting the source of anger with a slingshot works even better. But try getting into the shower, let the water flow over you in force, and let your tears down.
The warm water gushing over you, mingled with the fresh smell of your body wash and the tears just flowing. You don’t need a shoulder to cry on, a shower works better.

Snow does wonders to me as you can see even if I don’t have to clean the driveway or the car. Here’s to the first snow of the season.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Toor Dal Chutney

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Toor Dal Chutney

I love filching from hotels. No not towels, linens, curtains or furniture but soaps and sometimes shower caps. Guess it is in my “purani jeans” that I inherited from my great Indian Middle Class brethrens. I am however no cheapo filcher, I carry away body wash and cutesy soap bars only from good and reputed hotels and not from every Days Inn owned by the patel brothers. (The days Inn might have recycled my soap but the better ones definitely trash them and don't re-use them if the wrapper has been torn and the soap sniffed at, so though filching is morally wrong I think I am helping the economy by not letting them throw away tiny unused soaps. God please forgive me)

The little S who according to the in-laws is 60% like my dear sis-in-law and remaining 39.99% like her Dad, the darling Hubby, has inherited the last but not the least 0.01% from me and that is alas the love for Hotel Toileteries. She goes gaga over the little soap bars that the Hotel has, treasures them, brings them back home and uses them on special days.

Now, the hubby who has been travelling extensively the last few weeks, came back home around midnight yesterday. The way he keeps fleeting in and out of the house, you would think it was his in-laws and not mine, who are visiting. But why do I complain, I get peaceful nights to sleep in, without the high pitched snoring that jolts me every now and then, isn’t that what every female wants?

Anyway, knowing little S’s love for those soaps and also because he did not have the time to get her anything, he had filched two white and green soaps from the hotel and gave them to the little girl along with a small stress ball with a lot of hype and excitement. The little girl’s face lit up when she saw them, excited she ran around showing everyone in the household the two precious soaps and the ball. She became benevolent and offered to share one of them with me too. She literally danced around and hugged D for her lovely gifts.

She hadn’t been half as happy seeing the puzzle and the Melissa&Doug magnetic board I got for her from Amazon two weeks back.

It was so beautiful to see her contented and happy with those tiny things. May she remain the same always, happy with what she gets and not asking for more. Amen.

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Toor Dal Chutney added to Guacamole as a dip

India is an amazing country with 1.5 billion people, 28 different states, 7 Union Territories, and 1652 different languages.

In a country with such diversity it is not surprising to have a vast difference in cuisines from the North to South, The East to West and basically from each corner to the other.

So while Toor Dal is a must in the South Indian cuisine and hugely celebrated there, it is not often used in the cuisine from the eastern Region. The Moong and the Masoor are the dals which are favored over Toor here. So while my Ma will never ever run out of Moong or masoor, she will have to run out FOR toor if you wish her to cook it on a random day.

Both me & D have developed a love for sambhar however and I do stock Toor Dal in my pantry and also make sambhar often. The other way I make Toor dal is the way a friend from the UP belt taught me. The UP belt also love Toor Dal with dollops of ghee with their chapatti and I love their dal tempered with red-chillies, whole cumin seeds and garlic.

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Toor Dal Chutney with Idli

Since I have not tried Toor Dal any other way I wanted to give toor dal chutney a shot and googled thus “toor dal chutney blog”. I came up with this, this and this. So be it, I decided and made a mean toor dal chutney, combining everything I read and things I consider to be a stamp of South Indian Cuisine. Refer to these blogs for exact measurment. This is my entry for JFI-Toor dal hosted by Lovely Linda who blogs at Out Of The Garden


Toor Dal Chutney

This is what I did

Dry Roasted toor dal and dry red chillies till the toor dal was slightly browned and I could smell the warm aroma. Soaked them in water for 15 minutes.

Heated 1tsp oil and lightly sautéed a clove of garlic.

Put the roasted toor dal, dry red chilies and garlic in a grinder and made a fine wet paste.

Added salt and tasted. It still lacked what I felt was the south Indian flavor

In the 1 tsp of oil added some mustard seeds, a pinch of asafoetida and few curry leaves. Added the seasoning to the paste.

Mmmmmmmm…something still missing

Added a little tamarind paste and a little sugar.

Yes, yes, yes…loved it. Had it with mini rava idlis that I made out of MTR mix. But I loved the chutney by itself too.

Day 3

There was still Toor dal chutney left, no more Idlis and the household kept saying "the chutney was interesting" whatever that meant

Also I had some avocado and had made some guacamole with finely chopped red onions, lots of corriander leaves, green chillies, lime juice, salt and a little olive oil.

Since I was going to send this to the innovative Linda, I thought why not and added the guacamole to the toor dal chutney or vice versa, in 1:1 ratio.

I actually liked the result though the corriander leaves dominated the flavor.

Give it a try if you have both in hand as the next dip for your chip

Trivia: Toor dal or split Pigeon peas is also known as tuvar dal and arhar dal. They contain high levels of protein and the important amino acids methionine, lysine, and tryptophan. The Indian subcontinent, Eastern Africa and Central America, in that order, are the world's three main pigeon pea producing regions.