Maani

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Growing up, dal and rice was a constant meal feature for lunch at home. How I loved eating dal and rice with my favourite pickle, or even simply curd. But most of the times, my mom also added another accompaniment to this meal : Maani. And when all of this got leftover, the next day for breakfast, she would tudko it all together. Tudko as in cook up some onions in ghee/oil and then add the leftovers to this, heat them through, add salt, and tudke chaawal (tempered rice) would be ready. In fact, in a lot of our family get-togethers that’s all we consume and look forward to. We all purposefully make more than necessary, because we wanted to have tudke chaawal for breakfast the next day.

Coming back to the dish on hand, I grew up eating a sweet and sour version of Maani, which my mom made with amchur (dried mango powder) and very little gur. So it was definitely more sour than sweet, but tangy. However, my mom in law is from Himachal too (yayie!), and in her house, the dish is called Khatta, which means sour. She uses only imli as the souring agent and that’s the version my husband loves. In fact I am addicted to it too and we both fight to finish off the bowl. But I miss the amchur-gur version of it also as it has it’s own unique taste when paired with a simple black dal and rice.

While the dal (chana and split urad mix) and rice are the basic items in the meal, Maani is what adds the zing. It is essentially a sour/sweet and sour dish which is made up of besan (chickpea flour) imli/amchur/gur and small black chickpeas (kala channa), or black eye beans (rongi), or even boondi and potatoes.

So read on for the recipe,

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Ingredients

  1. Mustard oil – 2 tbsps
  2. Mustard seeds – 1.5 tsp
  3. Fenugreek seeds (methi daana) – .5 tsp
  4. Onions – finely diced, 1/2 of a small onion
  5. Garlic – 2-3 cloves, finely chopped
  6. Chickpea flour (besan) – 1 tbsp
  7. Amchur – 3 tbsp/ Tamarind paste – 2 tbsp
  8. Gur, if using – 2 tsp
  9. Black chickpeas/Black eye beans – boiled – 1.5 cups
  10. Turmeric powder : 1 tsp; Red chilli powder : 1 tsp ; Coriander powder : 1.5 tsp; Garam masala powder: 1 tsp
  11. Salt, to taste

Method

You can choose to make this dish with chickpeas/beans/boondi/potatoes. Do keep in mind that if using chickpeas or beans, do boil them before hand or pressure cook them so that they are soft. And if using potatoes, then chop them and add them at the proper time and cook them through. If using boondi, then no need to take any extra cooking precautions.

  1. In a kadhai, heat the mustard oil to a usable temperature (make it very hot so that it doesn’t sting as such)
  2. To this oil, add the mustard seeds, methi daana, jeera, onions, garlic and green chillies.
  3. Once the onions and garlic are slightly browned, add the other spices ~ turmeric, coriander powder, garam masala, salt
  4. Add the besan to this mixture and cook it until it’s properly roasted (turns slightly brown and gives off roasted smell, not burnt)
  5. To make it sour: Add imli/amchur ; To make it sour and sweet: Add amchur and gur
  6. Add the boiled beans/boiled chickpeas/boondi and water to this mix. Bring to a boil.
  7. Lower the heat and simmer until it reaches the consistency you like. Turn off the gas and finito! Serve with dal and rice.

My father (supervisory recipe checker) did not want me adding any touched up images of the final product. Let the actual colour shine through, he says. So I complied to his wishes.

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Note: If you are making this dish with potatoes, then add chopped potatoes at step 6 and simmer until the potatoes are cooked through. Also, I have added some curry leaves to the tempering (along with mustard seeds and the rest, but that’s just a personal preference, it isn’t mandatory or anything. Whatever tickles your yummy-bone!

Most of the ingredients measurements have been given on a not very precise scale, am being honest. I have been cooking this dish for eons and know what works for me. BUT having said that, I am here to help. If you like the dish more sour, then skip gur and cook it with imli. If you want to try the sweet and sour, then use amchur and gur. And once cooked, adjust seasonings of either to your own personal taste.

I am also linking this post to my friend Pooja’s #bitofthisandlotofthat weekly writing challenge. This week’s theme was childhood memories and while I haven’t delved into a whole specific story behind this,  my mom cooking all of these yummies remains an integral part of all my childhood memories. Plus, I really wanted to kick off posts on Himachali food, so in a way Pooja’s challenge gave me the boost. And I spoke a little about here http://wp.me/p4ALtY-cn

Click here to head over to her blog if you want to know more about the challenge and contribute. And contribute you should. It’s so much fun to read so many collective stories at the end of the week. Am loving her blog and this challenge!

 

The Perfect Pint

Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy – Benjamin Franklin

Circa 2008…

My first experience with tasting Guinness was at a friends midnight birthday celebrations. The guy loved his beer, and his best bud had procured a can of Guinness. Now this is somewhere way way back when we all had just started working, and we were all newly exposed to

a) Pay-cheques, and b) Huge departmental stores that stocked international liquor

So come midnight, we all sing along the Happy Birthday song, cut the cake, mess up the birthday boy, the guys clink up the cans and we all line up to sip the ambrosiac Guinness, as the guys almost referred to it. I sipped, and almost spat it out. (Don’t hate me, this story gets better!). For the life of me, I could not even imagine the big deal the boys were making about Guinness. It tasted like ash. Give me wheat beer any day, I claimed. They rolled their eyes, and went back to their beloved can.

Cut to 2013..

It’s the Easter break in the UK, and I am on a backpacking trip across Ireland. (All alone for 5 days and that’s a story for another day, laddies!). Anyhow, I am in Dublin, and doing what you are supposed to do. Looking for Leprechaun gold, sipping the Irish coffee, laughing along with the locals, and I can see this land LOVES its Guinness. If you have been to Ireland, you know how much the locals love their ale, and Guinness is like the God of beers for them. It’s not just beer. It’s like super-beer or something.

So I did the touristy thing and signed up for a visit to the Guinness storehouse.The tour area is built like a giant pint glass, and within it there are multiple levels. At each level, you experience a particular stage in the beers life. You start your tour at the bottom of the glass, under which you see the 9000 year lease that Arthur Guinness took on the St James Gate brewery in Dublin. And you end at the top, the Gravity bar which offers you panoramic views of Dublin.

Taken from michellebates36.wordpress.com

Fun fact: If this pint glass was full, it would hold 14.3 million pints of Guinness.

As part of the tour one gets to learn how to pour a perfect pint of Guinness and then drink it. I was kicked about the pouring but was worried about finishing it. I was thinking where could I find a secret drain to trash it all down. ( I know you all really want to kill me now). So all the tour guides around me kept telling the crowds that nothing could beat the taste of fresh from the tap Guinness and in my head, I am overly smug, and going blech blech and blech! I was just here to kick it off the checklist.

Reached the bar, and listened to the all-important mantra: Tilt the glass, fill it till it’s 3/4th full, wait till the froth settles and then top it up. My turn came up, and I went and poured me some.

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Seemed to do a good enough job. And there, I had it, my first pint of freshly poured Guinness ever. Time to sip it and smile with the others.

Ok, here goes… hesitant sip bracing for the ashy taste Hmmm.. that’s not ashy at all.. it’s actually nice..sips a bit more.. this is really yummy.. gulps half of it down Yowzaaa!!!

Where was this all my life? I couldn’t believe I had been in Dublin for a day now and this was the first time I was having it. Just 2 more days here to savour super-fresh Guinness. Gotta step on it right away. (I think I made up for it on the rest of the trip ;) )

I was hooked. And for me, till date, Guinness is the perfect pint of beer I have ever had. And that is the magic of freshly poured Guinness. Got to leave you with a cliche…

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I am linking this post to the weekly challenge my friend Pooja has going on in her blog.  Head over to her blog to know more about her and her diaries :)

Further Links:

Want to know more about the Guinness storehouse? Visit here

Want more exacting detail on pouring the perfect pint? Click here

And a fellow blogger has written a super wonderful post about Dublin and Guinness specifically. Click here to read more.

Spring Sangria

Spring is passing us by super quick and a hot HOT summer is around the corner.  The good thing about these seasons is that it’s the time to Disco.. NOT.. but to guzzle cold smoothies, chilled coffee shakes, and best of all, sparkling sangrias. Plus, I am one of those weirdos on the planet who is NOT a fan of red wine as is, but give me a glass of red wine sangria and I guzzle it by the gallon. I kid you not.

I love the color, the fizz, the fruit. I wanted a refreshing glass of sangria filled to the brim with berries, no apples or pears or crunch, and topped off with sparkling soda and ice. And I went and made me some.

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Norms dictate I give out a recipe, and some ingredients with measurements and servings yada yada yada. But I say, it’s a sangria; don’t think too much. Just drink up.

A little bit of everything sweet, and a lot of wine makes a happy girl. And I am sure you agree. I am linking this post to the #bitofthisandlotofthat weekly challenge being hosted by my dear friend Pooja on her blog