It’s almost end of August, and predictably the monsoon season is expected to last till mid of September. These days North India is damp and grey, the frogs are having a ball and I deal with it all by keeping myself busy in the kitchen. I love the thunderstorm, the lightning in between the clouds and the shades of grey during the day itself. I make myself a strong cup of coffee and flip the pages of cookbooks in search of new recipes. During this entire season, we are enchanted by the craving for spicy food, nice Indian dishes that go very well with the rain – Aloo Paani, Fulori and now Karonde Mirch Ki Sabzi. Yesterday morning I went to the market and came home with beautiful Karonde (natal plum) having natural vermillion shades. I had no special plans for them, they just were the most attractive looking thing at the vegetable stall. Without having any recipe in mind I got a full bag of Karonde. But there was no revelation. I still didn’t know what to cook. My mind kept asking “what goes well with rain?”
This year, it rained like never before. It poured cats and dogs. Waking up to the sound of water gushing down, no sunshine, is almost a routine for a month now. The rain in North India always seems more dramatic somehow than rain anywhere else I have been before. Largely, because when it rains for a while, the streets begin to flood with water in a most disgusting fashion; perhaps using boats and knee high boots seems like a sensible decision to reach your destination. Being house arrested due to rain for days we have ample time to read, cook, chatter and capture the mood of the season in digital frames. The sound of the rain, beating down heavily on the windowpanes – is enough to break the afternoon silence. I find myself oddly pleased in the midst of this raining chaos to continue the normal humdrum of life: cooking and writing. Hence, the weather is perfect to talk about this simple, unglamorous Pahadi Aloo Paani Recipe that makes me feel grounded, happy, contented and connected to my Kumaoni roots.
Thinking what to do with leftover naan? Make Naan Pizza. You will surely thank me for this easy naan pizza recipe. Last week, we had a dinner party and guess what, due to some last minute cancellations we were left with extra butter chicken and naan bread. And the next day, butter chicken naan pizza was our quick dinner. Naan pizza layered with rich tomato sauce and topped with butter chicken tastes simply divine. Don’t be stringent while adding cheese, after all, pizza tastes so much better with extra cheese. The combination of butter chicken and cheese is a guaranteed riot of flavors. This particular naan pizza is phenomenal because it has two of my favorite things – first butter chicken, I adore butter chicken. Secondly, super thin and crisp crust. Why is it so amazing? Well, actually, I think I know why (crispy outside, soft inside).
In India, everyday meals are an integral part of the food culture. Three full meals a day is the food ritual that we usually follow in our routine life. These three full meals are the combination of rice, flatbread, lentils, vegetables, yogurt and protein either in the form of cottage cheese (paneer), egg or meat. This seems like a hell lot of food but each ingredient or dish on the plate has a meaningful purpose and adds to a balanced diet. From sorting the menu in advance to grocery shopping and then finally skillfully executing these meal plans every day for each course requires a lot of advance planning. As a food blogger, I am often asked what my everyday meal is like? Is it always fancy, gourmet and styled as one can see on my blog or do we eat simple meals as well? To answer, all those curiosities, we curated this series – 30 Everyday Indian Meals.
Have you ever had Dahi Lauki? It is bottle gourd cooked in a subtle yogurt based sauce without any onion or garlic. It kind of works like a healing, comforting food that you crave for, after an array of food indulgences. You can dip hot Chapati into this Dahiwali Lauki, relish it with steamed rice or if you are too tired to make any sides, then enjoy a bowl full of it just like that. So delicious and satisfying in its simplicity. I like to make it on days when somebody in the family is in need of a wholesome and light meal, the kitchen help is on leave or on occasions when we come back home from a party empty stomach. Dahi Lauki is one such curry which has rescued me on many such gray days. This is a minimal effort curry but high impact sort of affair that fits just right for summer suppers.
The charm of summer in Delhi is the lack of inspiration around. We miss the enticing last summer. We were in hometown, Nainital, far away from the rest of the world, where summer is for perfect family picnics, trekking expeditions, local berries and seasonal fruits. But by the time winter came, we started missing the urban civilization and buzzing lifestyle. And to experience that, we shifted our base to Delhi – the heart of the nation. Summer in Delhi is deserted – the only sound is of an occasional bird cuckooing in the garden or a slow, rusty leaf falling from the tree. As described by the famous writer Ahmed Ali, Delhi summer is the season of ‘unending noon’. But even in the midst of such dullness, the beautiful hue of Jamun (Java Plum) inspired me to step ahead and play with the flavors of the fruit. Hence, the result is Jamun (Java Plum) frozen Yogurt.
It’s summertime! Time to experiment with the refreshing combination of lemonade and the cooling mint! This year we have this guaranteed revitalising Nimbu Pudina Sherbet Recipe for you. How is it better than regular lemonade recipe? It has plenty of mint, mint, and mint. Hence, you can call it mint lemonade as well. You don’t have to work hard or use your credit card to earn this reward. It’s the simple and satisfying reward of saying no to the store-bought overly sweet drinks and saying YES to the invigorating DIY Mint Lemonade instead. All you need to get your homemade mint zest, honey, and yes, you guessed it, lemons!