Tomato chutney was a special Sunday treat when I was at boarding school. My friend A, whose parents taught at the school, would let our group of four friends know that mom was making some tomato chutney later. We would quietly sneak up to their place (we had to be sneaky because we weren’t allowed to visit teachers in their home even if we were friends with their children — it was just one among hundreds of stupid rules probably made for the hell of it) and waiting for us would be a loaf of bread and the spicy, tangy, tomatoey relish.
How many times have you been to a barbecue and been severely disappointed by the selection of store bought burgers and hot dogs with a bare minimum of condiments? It happens to me all the time.
Since it’s 4th of July week, I’ve been thinking about barbecuing all week. Even though I love grilled vegetables, I wanted to grill something with protein. Store bought veggie burgers and soy hot dogs were not an option. They always taste bland to me.
Many of the ingredients and techniques in this recipe seem a little unusual. I mean, what the heck is a hyacinth bean? And what! You want me to use a pressure cooker? And, yes I’ll admit this does take a little time to make.
But I know if you make it, you won’t be sorry!
This mixed vegetable casserole, known as Undhiyu, is a much loved Gujarati dish that was traditionally baked in a clay pot buried upside down with a charcoal fire above. My mom just cooks it in a pressure cooker but can also be baked in the oven.
I often think of eating warm corn on the cob or Bhutta as we call it in Hindi on cloudy, rainy days. I know it seems weird because here in America, we often associate corn on the cob with summer and barbecue. But in India, fresh corn becomes available in the rainy season. When the corn season starts, the streets are suddenly flooded with makeshift corn vendors, with their push carts piled high with freshly picked, succulent corn cobs.
When we were kids, my friends and I would stop at the corn cart to buy fire roasted corn while on break from boarding school in Panchgani (a hill station in India). We’d walk up to the vendor, select the cob we wanted to eat, watch him peel the husks away and throw it onto his tava (an iron wok like contraption) lined with sand and charcoal with a healthy flame going.
There is no vegetable quite like Okra (Bhendi in Hindi, Bhinda in Gujarati, also known as Lady’s Finger in English). My very favorite okra dish is a bharela bhinda nu shaak.
Most people have strong opinions about the slimy vegetable – they either love it or hate it. If it isn’t obvious by the fact that I’m posting about it, I absolutely love Okra! Aside from being my favorite vegetable, this underused vegetable can be incredibly versatile. It can be used as a thickener in soups and stews like gumbo, it can be pickled, fried and can be cooked into a variety of side dishes. I love the chewy texture and the subtle flavor. As a child, I insisted that my mom make me a simple dry okra shaak each week. We had it so much that my parents would groan every time I asked for okra. Luckily, they were nice enough to put up with my childhood okra obsession and we continued to eat it regularly.
Growing up, my mom would often make puda, savory gram flour pancakes, as a quick lunch or snack when we were in a rush. Puda are super quick because all you do is shred up pretty much any vegetable you have on hand like zucchini, carrots, beets, boiled potato, peas…trust me anything goes and mix in some gram flour, salt and water. Then you just cook the batter like pancakes and
serve them with chutney. Super simple! Puda is something I rediscovered in my mid-twenties long after I’d moved away from home and had a craving for them. I made some with carrots, the only vegetable I had on hand, and really enjoyed them.