I am so excited, honoured and proud to present the first guest post in the new series YOUR TURN! by Vidya Sury. When I first read her lovely post I felt in (culinary) heaven and as it is my privilege to pick the title, here goes!
I met Vidya online and enjoyed reading her posts and comments on many blogs. I admire her for her generosity, her warm heart, her lovely and clever writing (remember the A – Z alphabet series at Kaarina’s?), her photography, her zest for life. We share many interests: writing, photography, food, recipes, food markets and a deep love for our families. Somewhat we have started a lively email relationship which is as easy as crossing the backyard to have a cup of coffee with your neighbour next door. When I first mentioned the YOUR TURN! series, Vidya immediately offered to share her gustatory experiences with us. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, dear Vidya!
Now, grab yourself a cup of coffee, make yourself comfortable and enjoy the treat:
Vidya Sury is a happy work-at-home Mom who enjoys life and being with Family and Friends. She earns her calories as a freelance writer and business blogger and is a social media enthusiast. She loves DIY, Coffee, Music, Photography, and Life. She believes that Happiness is a DIY Project. She blogs at www.vidyasury.com and tweets as @vidyasury.
Thank you, Barbara, for inviting me to be the first in your wonderful new series. I am deeply honored!
Dear friends, in Hindu belief, we say that if two people walk 7 steps together they will remain lifelong friends. In weddings the couple walks 7 steps together to the chanting of auspicious mantras to the equivalent of the “till death do us part”.
I wonder, in the digital world if that would translate to reading seven posts/seven paragraphs/seven lines? You tell me. In the meantime, let me welcome you with one of our most popular Indian sweets – the 7 cups burfi. This is sort of like fudge and is easy to make. I am one for easy recipes that taste good – they’re the best sort for me…and I am always looking for no-bake stuff, but only because I don’t use a conventional oven.
7 cups Burfi
Why 7 cups? The name comes from the number of cups of ingredients that go into it. While not charmingly creative, it is very popular because the ingredients are usually available in most kitchens and the sweet can be whipped up in less than half an hour. We have the tradition of offering a sweet, a savory and coffee or juice to every visitor who comes home. During my Grandmother’s days, no one left our house without sharing at least one meal with us! And we continue that practice. So if you visit me – you WILL be lovingly invited to a meal.
Here’s the quick recipe:
You need: 1 cup chickpeas flour, 1 cup freshly grated coconut, 1 cup milk, 3 cups sugar, 1 cup Ghee
Now, cussed with being unable to follow any recipe exactly, I substitute coconut for carrot. Instead of three cups sugar, I use two or less than, making it up with coarsely ground cashew nuts. Yes!
How to make: There are two ways. One is, mixing all the ingredients in a heavy bottomed pan until there are no lumps. Grease a plate with ghee and keep it ready. Then, with the stove on low, heat the contents, stirring constantly. After about five minutes, the contents begin to bubble, and start leaving the sides of the pan. As you mix, the folded over mixture starts to look slightly porous. It is time to turn off the stove and pour the mix on to the greased plate. Shake it to settle the contents. Let it cool. After about five minutes, score the surface. When cool, cut along those lines. Indulge!
Here’s how it looks:
Let me know if you want a step by step recipe!
I grew up in a rather frugal household, where “waste-not want-not” was the tagline. My Grandmother had a green thumb and could grow anything. We always bought whatever was in season. We ate a lot of leafy greens as they were very cheap and made up healthy quantities in a large household. Yet, we always ate absolutely tasty food as Granma was very creative. So was my Mother. In fact, my Mom also believed in presenting things in a pretty way. She would arrange even bread and butter sandwiches in a pattern. We spent a lot of happy times in the kitchen together. Thanks to this, the kitchen is my happy place. I enjoy cooking from scratch and make all my “masalas”. There was a time I encouraged my Mom to market the exotic “masalas” she made – but somehow that didn’t happen.
I love festivals because each of our festivals has a specific menu that I enjoy making. Conveniently, whatever is in season form the ingredients for the menu. For example, for the Tamil New Year’s Day in April, neem leaves, and flowers, which begin to bloom, are auspicious. It is also the time for raw mangoes and everything else that is great for the summer.
Mangoes sprinkled with chili powder and rock salt. Drool!
I am fascinated by how Nature provides us with the right food according to the weather. Watermelons and a variety of cucumbers in summer, fabulous red carrots in winter and so on! Summer is also the time for certain exotic roots and raw fruits that are pickled for the rest of the year.
Right now, along with the regular orange carrot, we get the long deep red juicy carrot – and you can pretty much bet that we’ll have carrot halwa at home until this carrot stops being available! Carrot halwa is a huge favorite at home and very easy to make. I peel and grate the carrots, add a little milk and sugar and semi-pressure-cook them. Then, I add the cooked carrot, condensed milk, sugar, cashew nuts or almonds, cardamom and ghee and heat it until it shrinks to a very thick consistency. The milk is optional, but I like how it adds to the flavor. Sometimes I substitute the condensed milk for “khoya” or thickened milk. It is amazing how quickly this disappears in our house!
As much as we are big fans of the South Indian and North Indian cuisine at home, for my son, it is the 4 P’s of Marketing. He loves everything homemade, including Pizza, Paratha, Pasta and anything with Paneer (cottage cheese). Can you believe I ate noodles for the first time when I was 21 or 22 years old? I still have the sheet of paper on which I wrote the recipe for the traditional Chinese noodles.
Now I am happy to make whatever my son likes and enjoy it with him – as his food choices are largely healthy. Our regular fare consists of vegetable stuffed parathas. I love to make this as it is simple, tasty, healthy and involves minimal washing up. I find it a great choice for packed lunches or when we travel.
Here’s how I make my regular parathas.
Ingredients: To make approximately 10 parathas of 5-inch diameter, 3-4 cups of Wheat flour, a quarter spoon of turmeric, salt to taste, two onions ground to a paste, 3 cups grated carrot/radish/cabbage/potato (you choose), a table spoon of cooking oil. A cup of finely chopped coriander (cilantro). Oil to cook the paratha.
In the pic: rolled out parathas ready to go on the griddle
How to make: Add all the ingredients except the oil in a large bowl, mix and knead. The moisture from the grated veg is enough to hold the dough together. After the kneading the dough, add the oil and continue to knead it. If it seems too moist, add a little flour to reach the consistency where you can divide it into ten or twelve portions. Roll out each ball with a rolling pin. Heat a griddle, and cook the paratha on it. Flip it over to cook both sides. Add half a spoon of oil – can also use an oil spray. Once both sides are done, take it off the griddle. Serve hot with curd, pickle or paneer with gravy. I like it with sprouts salad.
I love soups and salads. Here’s a favorite: Chopped cabbage, capsicum and carrots.
We have a soup for almost every ailment. What a nice thing to fall sick, I used to think as I grew up! I am excited that my kitchen shelf is also my medicine cabinet! Some of my regular home remedies are:
a/ Sore throat? Boil a pinch of turmeric in milk and drink for instant relief. Turmeric has antibiotic properties. Congestion in the chest? Boil a few basil leaves in 200 ml water, reducing it to 150 ml. Add the juice of half a lemon and two spoons honey. Works like magic.
b/ Cold coming on? A spoon of honey in a cup of warm water dissolves that tightness in the chest
c/ Tummy ache or bloat – swallow a spoon of fenugreek seeds with water to ease it. A pinch of asafetida powder in buttermilk Or. Boil two spoons of aniseed in three glasses of water until it reduces to two glasses and drink in small doses for relief. Or. Dry roast a spoonful of carom seeds in a pan and add a glass of buttermilk to it. Pour in a glass and drink to get rid of bloat. I like to chew these seeds rather than process them. Aniseed is also a great digestive and is offered, sugarcoated, at restaurants after a meal.
d/ Toothache? Place a clove in your mouth – the saliva mixed with it acts like an antibiotic and relieves pain
I have a diary full of tips written by my Mom that I treasure.
Barbara asked me if I had a favorite cook book – Yes I do. I have a little stack of cookbooks by some fantastic authors like Tarla Dalal and Sanjeev Kapoor – but I like my Mother’s diary best. I enjoy seeing her notes, usually unrelated to the recipe, which make me laugh and cry at the same time.
Here are pictures of regulars in our kitchen:
Clockwise from top: potato fry, you can see okra, pizza, Dosa, Paratha and in the middle, spring onion being sautéed. Makes a great base for any stir-fry veg.
And my most favorite beverage, which always gets my day off to a fabulous start is this traditional “tumbler” of pure coffee:
Now this has motivated me to write a post about the typical south Indian meal and its ingredients – and why it is considered the most balanced meal. Just know that when you visit India, you’ve got a friend right here!