Long before the gluten free diet became popular, and well before I had even heard of Celiac disease, my mom cut wheat out of her diet. She noticed that she felt better when she didn’t eat wheat so for a while we ate a ton of rice dishes along with other lesser known grains like millet and sorghum.
When she switched our diet, my mom started making rotli (flat breads) with rice flour. Although it is eaten in some parts of Gujarat and South India, it is not all that common. Rice rotli are softer than the regular whole wheat rotli we ate and much whiter. And they were delicious. (more…)
When I was in college I barely cooked. I lived with my brother who, especially back then, didn’t like to eat much. We pretty much lived on fast food and Doritos. But Upma was one of few things I did cooked back then, since it was fast, easy and one of the few things he would eat.
When I was younger, my mom always made Upma. She didn’t like us eating sugary breakfast cereals in the mornings, she would insist we eat something warm and filling instead. Or as she would say, a “hot breakfast” or “hot snack.” We often had upma along with a hot cup of chai for breakfast. So yummy! (more…)
One of my favorite things about food is how closely it’s attached to memories. Egg burjhi is one of those special dishes that transports me back in time. The second I see or taste the simple flavors of it memories of boarding school come flooding at me.
When I was in 9th grade, my boarding school class went on a camping trip. We got to live in a small cabin in the Sahyadhri mountains and go hiking, mountain climbing and rappelling. We did trust exercises to promote bonding, ate a bunch of delicious food and enjoyed the clean mountain air. (more…)
A couple of months ago I was doing dishes and staring at the little curry leaf plant that grows next to my kitchen sink. It suddenly occurred to me that curry leaves might go well with peaches. I love finding new ways to combine herbs and fruit. Herbs can add a wonderful surprise to the flavors of fruits.
I often add lavender, thyme, rosemary and basil to lemon bars, fruit pies and fruity cocktails. But I’d never had a combination of curry leaves and peaches before and never heard of anyone else trying it but I thought it would work. So we headed out to the farmer’s market to get some peaches to test my theory. (more…)
Whenever anyone asks me where they should go when they visit India, one place I like to suggest is McDonald’s. I usually get a confused expression looking back at me. “No, seriously,” I have to insist. The McDonald’s in India are so different from anywhere else in the world, they have to be experienced, especially if you are vegetarian.
I was in India when the first McDonald’s opened in 1996. It was such a big deal. It was all over the news because it was the first western chain opening in India. There was a lot of controversy because McDonald’s depends so much on the selling of beef, the sacred cow. But mostly the people around me, my friends at school and everyone I knew were really excited about the new, cool restaurant. (more…)
Palak Paneer is one of the most popular Indian dishes in the U.S. Spinach and cheese is such a classic combination, think of Spinach Florentine or even spinach artichoke dip which has a cheesy base. Personally, I don’t really like spinach even though I eat it pretty often. I have to dress it up with lots of garlic or, well, cheese. I love the combination of spinach and cheese. There is something about spinach that comes alive when cheese is added. It becomes infinitely more delicious than when it’s on it’s own. (more…)
I love foraging. I love to go out to some hidden part of the city to pick my own food. Last year we went out foraging with some friends for nasturtium flowers and seed pods. We had flower pesto for lunch and I took the capers home to pickle. Sadly, we missed the nasturtium bloom this year but we have been talking about foraging for fennel for at least three years. I’ve always wanted to experiment with fennel pollen, but there is only a small window of time in the summer when you can find it. (more…)
Baaflu is a refreshing mango drink made from raw mangoes. Raw as in unripened. It is the perfect summer drink. Even though we drank a lot of lemonade while growing up in India, to me this mango drink is synonymous with summer. My mom would make large batches and I would guzzle down glass after glass until it was gone.
Baaflu or Aam Panna as it’s know in Hindi is made with raw green mangoes, sugar, salt and cumin. It’s sweet and salty and tart at the same time with a hint of smokey cumin. Deliciousness! Traditionally, in India it is said to be a cure for heat stroke. (more…)
I think of picnics as a major part of Indian culture, so much so that school field trips were even known as “picnics.” We would picnic to “National Park” in Bombay, or my family would often picnic at the beach.
I used to talk about having picnics a lot in Virginia but it took a while for Steve and I to get around to it. But one year for his birthday I decided to take him to Shenandoah National Park, a beautiful spot in the Blue Ridge Mountains a few hours from where we lived. It was a perfect opportunity to finally have our picnic. Steve requested some typical American picnic foods like potato salad. The only problem I have with potato salad is the mayonnaise. (more…)
Steve and I went to a bluegrass jam and barbecue last weekend at a friend’s house. Steve’s been playing bluegrass guitar for a few months now.
He’s always practicing around the house. And now it’s as if we’ve always been surrounded by bluegrass music. I’ve learned a whole bunch of songs and can sing them start to finish from memory (you probably wouldn’t want to be around me while I’m doing it though, because I’m a terrible singer). He goes to a lot of bluegrass jams, where a bunch of musicians get together and play music and I often tag along because I really enjoy the music.
I wanted to bring something that fit the theme of a barbecue. (more…)
Eating healthy lunches just got a lot easier for me. Lunch is always such an issue. Over time Steve and I somehow accidentally divided up breakfast and dinner duties. But lunch isn’t so simple.
Neither of us has claimed “lunch duty,” so it tends to get ignored until the second that I’m hungry. I am always trying to eat healthy but forget to plan ahead and end up eating crap all too often. (more…)