Arhar Ki Dal is an everyday comfort food to which most us are hooked. Arhar Dal Fry is one lentil curry which without fail accompanies steamed rice or garam garam phulkas for lunch in most of the Indian households. My love affair with this humble lentil curry started at an early age. Anyone who is familiar with the Kumaoni food culture would understand my fondness for this dal. In most of the Kumaoni households, the lunch menu often consists of dal-bhaat (lentil-rice) and when we say dal, by default, we are referring to arhar ki dal. There is an unsaid, soul-satiating comfort in mopping up the piping hot arhar dal fry with steamed rice (bhaat) that too sans using any cutlery. And till date arhar ki dal with rice remains my favorite comfort food, no second thought about it.
The regular Aloo Paratha is too dull for me. That is the reason I am always looking ways to combine aloo stuffing with some additional flavors to create a wholesome flatbread. Sometimes, back we shared the Makki and Aloo Ka Paratha. This time, it is Aloo Methi Paratha. Packed with excitement; that describes the Aloo Methi Parathas best of all! The mashed potato mixture is tucked inside the flavorsome fenugreek-laced dough and rolled out to make pillowy parathas. Who could say no to them? Served with simple raita, freshly churned white butter and aam ka achaar, these Methi Parathas are one of our favorite winter breakfast. Almost, a weekly ritual all over the season, till the family had enough of them.
Who doesn’t love a good, delicious homemade Chicken Biryani for lunch? But many of us fear the grisly Biryani making process, which is a test of one’s patience and perseverance. I’m the kind of person who is always in need of the cheat recipes for the lazy days. Whether it is my 30-Minute Butter Chicken Recipe or Leftover Chicken Biryani both comes handy on days when I am in no mood to spend hours in the kitchen. Such recipes are a great way to restate the leftovers from the previous day sitting in the fridge. So I’m super happy to be bringing this leftover chicken biryani recipe to you. From scratch, quick and easy, and loaded with bursting real biryani like character. All that you can achieve in less than an hour. Trust me on this!!
Like many other curry recipes on the blog, Pakodi Ki Sabzi is too courtesy mom’s recipe book. But this one, in particular, she learnt from her bania (a business community in India) friend much later in life. A no onion/garlic eating regime is quite common in many Indian households but definitely not ours. We follow this kind of strict diet only during certain festivities or mourning, else we are very much in love with our onion and garlic masala. So this friend of mom’s is a pro in no onion/garlic cooking. There is a strong sulphur-rich aroma hanging in the air of her kitchen, maybe because she profoundly uses ghee, jeera and hing tadka for cooking most of the dishes. And we as a kid found that peculiar smell weirdly pleasant and tempting. So we were introduced to this Pakodi Ki Sabzi by this lady (mum’s friend). And much later, when I started exploring the intricacies of local food, found that Pakodi Ki Sabzi is quite a popular recipe in many parts of Northern India.
At this moment in time, I’m happily married to the man of my dreams — who with much love prepared for me Chana Dal Pulao on a lazy, Sunday afternoon. A conventional Punjabi Recipe, simple and flavoursome. Post a long vacation in Singapore, he offered to make me lunch, about five years after we got married. I was taken aback by surprise. The man who only enters kitchen trailing the aroma of good food, talking about cooking lunch. To many of you, it may sound no out of the box story. But for a woman who waited from the first day of marriage for this moment, it was surely an exceptional day. And around then is when he, cheerful and enthusiastic than ever, walked through the kitchen door. I was already on cloud nine. There were butterflies in my stomach like I had on the day of our first date. But that was not the end of panic and pangs. For someone, who never stirred even a pot of milk, cooking main-course meal seems like an uphill task.
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.
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.