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?”
June is here, and suddenly we stand on the cusp of summer. Heat at its peak, flora, and fauna at their dullest mood and there is almost nothing inspirational around. The scent of ripe mangoes and musk melon almost overpowering, every time we open the door of the fridge. The daylight lingers till late evening, and the skies have become that piercing bright blue. These – these few of my observations among many – whisper ‘summer is here’. And how to miss making Aam Ka Achaar (Mango Pickle), an Indian summer ritual that is common to almost every household.
If you have ever visited the lush green hill stations of Kumaon to spend a quiet summer vacation, you might have tasted Pahadi Kheere Ka Raita aka Cucumber Raita. Nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas, Kumaon is bestowed with a maze of mountains, lush greenery, and breath-taking landscapes. The culture, cuisine and the rich heritage of the region are still an untold saga to the rest of the world. Many renowned food historians and novelists have captured the essence of the cuisine in their writings, though. From the ancient times, Kumaonis have been famous for their bravery, warrior skills, and enduring honour. Like the persona of the natives, their food is simple, subtle and comprises largely of locally grown greens, vegetables, herbs, and grains.
Recently, I was given a very original gift. A box of dried mango slices (sabut amchur) and a heritage recipe from the late grandma’s recipe journal. This was my first trial with the dried mango slices. When the market is loaded with the abundant produce of kaccha aam (raw mango) the wise house ladies like my mother, slice them and later sun-dry the raw mango slices to preserve them. The raw mango slices which I received as a culinary souvenir were the last from the last year’s batch. So I decided to get little adventurous with them and explore the sweet and spicy blends. This time of the year around summer, Sweet and Spicy Amchur Ki Launji is simmering in most of the kitchens of the neighbourhood. Ever since I was a child, Amchur Ki Meethi Chutney always fascinated my taste-buds. It is so hard not to scoop a chunk of launji from the jar using your fingers and lick it. But we used to relish Amchur Ki Launji in a refined manner as well by spreading it in between the Paratha or Puri.
Mint and Pomegranate Raita is a delicious combination of mint, coriander, and pomegranate pearls. The freshness of mint and coriander definitely make this raita a summer favorite packed with the goodness of pomegranate. The red in those pomegranates just make me feel bright and energized. Loaded with pomegranate pearls, mint, coriander, yogurt, green chilies, garlic and spices, it is my favorite raita I’ve made ever.
Mint and Coriander Chutney Recipe is quick to make chutney that can spice-up any appetizer, especially Indian Chaats. No Indian street food fare is complete without spicy, flavorsome condiments. These condiments not only bring colors to the table but also provide a layer of flavors to the food. And green chutney is one such profound condiment. Green Chutney is fresh herb blend and perhaps the most common way of using mint and coriander in an everyday Indian meal. It takes a little effort to combine few basic ingredients and prepare chutney at home. It is a type of natural outburst of viridescent color. It is a bold and mint perfumed condiment mainly composed of fresh herbs. The addition of green chilies, garlic, ginger all together prepend to the taste of chutney. In India, green chutney is drizzled over just about anything from fruits to roasted meats, deep-fried fritters to Chaats. And it surely does make a difference to the character of the dish.
Bathua Raita Recipe is easy, delicious raita side dish prepared with yogurt and Parappu Keerai, a variety of local greens. The hint of garlic, green chili, and the bold mustard flavor give a sharp edge to the flavor of the Bathua Raita. The Bathua Raita is an absolute winter favorite when the lush green bathua leaves start resurfacing in the vegetable market. This particular condiment is a lunch hour special, served with Yellow Dal Tadka, Mixed Vegetable Sabzi and piping hot Phulkas. The combination of simple, fresh bountiful winter produce on the dining table screams out loud its winter spell of the year.
There are surely no shortcuts in life to happiness. The tale of Jugaadulal and his amusing shortcuts conveys an impactful message in a subtle manner with a dose of satire. The message is loud and clear each one of us has to work hard, plan ahead to cherish those countless moments of happiness in life with our loved ones.