Earlier this year, we made a family trip to Palampur, to celebrate my husbands grandfathers 90th birthday. 90 years, can you imagine! And nanaji is a legend, if I may say so. Hale and hearty, and ready with glorious stories of his past, it’s always a treat to spend time with him. For his 90th, he wanted to visit his village in Palampur, the place where he grew up and went to school as a boy, and his home where he had countless memories of play and family.
The last few weeks have been maddeningly hectic. Family came visiting, I went vacationing, then Arjun Singh fell ill and time was spent in nursing.. all in all, action on the blog was lessening.
I'm a poet and I know it.
Anyhoo, I needed to reduce the count of draft posts vs published posts. And I thought I would start by sharing a simple pahaadi recipe with you all. It’s a sweet dish; the simplest sweet treat that anyone can whip up in 10 minutes.
Mitha is essentially a sugar syrup cooked with fennel and boondi, and the memory of the first time I had it is so vivid in my head. The whole family had gathered together for a family occasion, and my naani had called a pahaadi cook to make the meal. We were eating on pattals (plates made out of leaves) and after finishing the main course I went to have the dessert, which was mitha. My mom told me to have it with some rice, and not knowing the right proportion of eating the dish, plus the fact that I eat rice like a truck driver, I took a ton of rice, and then poured an equal amount of mitha on it. Wrong idea. It was too sweet and too syrupy and too thin for my liking. And I complained. That’s when my mom showed me the right way to eat it. She took about a ladle of rice, and about 2 spoonfuls of the mitha and served that to me. What a world of difference THAT made. The mitha was not overtly sweet, and I could taste the fennel more than the sugar. And the whole dish was sweet rice rather than being sweet syrup with bits of rice.
And as is true everywhere, every household has their own way of making this dish. But my father, the awesomeness that he is, has an APL and BPL version of mitha. For those of you who are still figuring that one out, APL is Above Poverty Line, and BPL is Below.. :/ (yeah, I don’t get his sense of humour too at times)
He actually shared the BPL version with me first because he said it’s not that I am poor, but so lazy that I won’t spend more time than needed in the kitchen. How well he knows me. Hugs to you, dad!
I am going to share both the versions here, and depending on how much time and resources you have, take your pick :)
- Ghee, 2-3 tbsps
- Cloves, 2
- Cardamoms, 2
- Cinnamon stick, 1 small
- Sugar, 10 tsps
- Water, 250 ml
- Fennel (saunf), 1/2 tsp
- Boondi, 2 tbsps
- Dry fruits (sliced almonds, raisins)
- In a pan, preferably with a thick base, like a wok or kadhai, heat the ghee
- To this, add the cloves, cardamoms, cinnamon, and dry fruits. Roast them for a minute or 2
- Add the fennel
- Then add the sugar and water, and bring to a boil
- After one boil, simmer the mixture until it reaches the desired thick consistency of a syrup
- Add the boondi, and serve hot with steamed rice
- Sugar, 10 tsps
- Water, 250 ml
- Fennel (saunf), 1/2 tsp
- Boondi, 2 tbsps
- Heat a kadhai, or work. Add sugar, saunf and water.
- Bring to a boil, and then simmer until it reaches the desired thick consistency of a syrup
- Add the boondi, and serve hot with steamed rice
I am sharing this over at Angie’s amazing blog party Fiesta Friday at The Novice Gardener
He: Wha.. what is the dish called?
He: hahah, you mean, teliyamma
Me: No, I mean Teliya-maah
Another of my precious Himachali favourites for you all. Teliya-maah, which simply put, is a daal cooked in lots of (mustard) sarson oil, hence the teliya (meaning oily), and the maah (whole urad/maah dal). I know for a fact when I put this post up, the Sood clan will all have their own versions, tips, tricks etc. That’s another reason why I love putting up Sood recipes on the blog, it helps me add to my treasure trove.
In fact, I already know where I erred with this dish. Not erred so much as gave it my own twist, but to the elders it might be sacrilegious. When the dish is called teliyamaah, the direct interpretation is that it needs to have more oil than maah dal. Honest. Pahaadis love all that oil and ghee. Makes no dent on their hardworking bodies. But people like me, haha, yeah, I can do without the oil. Also, the consistency of the dal is on the drier than mushier side as the oil provides the gravy, not the mushy dal. But for a first time attempt, I tried my best. Hopefully, will get better the more I make it.
This is not a dish that will be an everyday occurrence in a household. It is a special occasion dish. Teliyamaah is an important part of a Dhaam meal in Himachal. Dhaam is served on festive occasions; weddings, mundans, etc; and it is a sight for the eyes, and a feast for the soul. Traditionally, the whole village is invited and a long list of himachali delicacies are served; maani, mandra, khatte bhaturoo, jimikand, meetha,…. it goes on and on.
This isn’t Arjun Singhs’ favourite pahaadi dish as it has tons of raisins in it, and he isn’t a fan of anything sweet in his main course. But I gobbled it up, like I have been doing since tiny girl-dom when I had it for the first time.
- Whole urad dal, 1 cup, soaked overnight (or a minimum of 3 hours)
- 1 large onion, finely sliced
- Ginger, finely sliced, about 1.5 tbspns
- Garlic, finely chopped, 3-4 cloves
- Mustard oil, 5 tbsps (at the least)
- Mixed dry fruits, 1/2 cup (sliced almonds, sliced cashews, raisins)
- Whole spices
- Cinnamon, 1 stick
- Cloves, 3
- Small cardamom, 2
- Big cardamom, 1
- Mace, equivalent of a pinch of powder
- Bay leaves, 2-3
- Salt, Turmeric powder, to taste
- Hing, a pinch
- Coriander powder, 1.5 tsp
- Coriander leaves, to garnish
- In a pressure cooker, boil the dal with 2 cups water, the whole spices (except for the bay leaves), and salt and turmeric
- Once boiled, ensure the dal is dry. If the dal needs to be cooked further to dry out the water, please do. Try and not let it be too mushy, and retain the separate-ness
- In a deep bottomed pan, preferably a kadhai, heat the oil until it reaches burning point.
- Add the bay leaves and hing to the hot oil
- After about 10 seconds, add the onion, ginger and garlic. Saute until the onions turn a beautiful golden brown
- To this, add the coriander powder, and dry fruits and cook for a further 2 minutes
- Add the dal
- If unlike me, you have added a generous helping of oil, then at a certain stage the oil will start leaving the dal which you shall be able to see quite clearly
- However, if the oil is not as much as tradition demands, then you have to be vigilant enough to see the little pools of oil running away from the dal
- Yay: the teliya-maah is cooked and ready
- Garnish with finely chopped fresh coriander, and flaked almonds.
Serve hot with rice.
Today I am sharing a Himachali breakfast recipe that uses just 4 ingredients and makes the yummiest desi crepes you will ever have in your life. Made with wholewheat flour (atta), jaggery (gur), fennel seeds, and water, Babrus are himachali crepes/pancakes (depending on how thick you make them).
Growing up, my brother was quite the fussy eater. Won’t eat rice, veggies, dal, won’t drink milk etc etc. My mom would figure out innovative ways to get him to eat his veggies, but if all else failed she would either feed him chapattis with ghee shakar (ghee and raw sugar), or ghee and our homemade masala namak (Mint and Coriander salt). He would devour those. Another of his favourites was babrus. Mom used to make the most perfect babrus and it was, more or less, a birthday breakfast for him. I tried making these for him for his 22nd birthday, for the first time ever in my life, and voila, they turned out pretty damn good, if I may so myself. Ok, I just did. :P
These are more crepe-like pancakey in form and consistency, one has to be careful of not adding too much jaggery or else the mixture becomes sticky while being cooked. You can also substitute sugar in case you don’t have jaggery, but the subtle sweetness get enhanced with the jaggery rather than sugar.
Since everything in our households is about balancing out sweet with sour, the sweet babrus are mostly served with unsweetened curd and Galgal pickle. (Wish I had some of that pickle with me,my nani had this awesome recipe.. sigh)
Hope you enjoy making it as much as I always do.
- Whole wheat flour (Atta): 1 cup
- Water: 1.5 cups
- Jaggery (gur): 3 tbsps
- Fennel seeds (saunf): 1 tsp
- Boil the water
- Add the jaggery to the boiled water and stir to mix it in
- In a mixing bowl, take the atta and add the fennel seeds to it
- Add the water-jaggery mix to the atta slowly, to make the batter
- I call this the ek-taar test: Pour a little mixture into the bowl (like shown in image) and if the batter falls in a single stream, then its dissolved properly
- Take a non stick pan and keep it on medium heat
- Now taking a ladle of the batter, pour on pan, top off with another ladle-ful and spread it out into a circle (like dosas)
- When one side is cooked a little, drip a little ghee on the babru, on the sides and the center
- After a minute, flip the babru over to cook the other side
- Once both sides are cooked, fold it over and serve warm; The ideal consistency for a cooked babru is like a thin crepe-ish dosa. Not crisp, but soft.
Note: The final product didn’t turn out that gorgeous enough, but in my eagerness to share the recipe and the post, I just folded the oddly shaped, slightly crisp, and twisted babrus to make them look pretty for the pictures.. Don’t worry, even if they break, don’t turn out round, become thick or too thin, they will taste super wonderful. Trust me. try it. Now.
I love lists. Grocery lists. Shopping lists. Lists to get things done in a day. Lists to clear my head, and plan for a future 2-3-5-10 years from now (yep, I totally day-dream, with all rose-tinted glasses and all).
And I had been planning to get in some list based posts on the blog for a while. Food lists, cafe lists, people lists (what would that be like, hmmmm), and then travel lists. But planning was all that I was doing, until Upasna from Life On My Plate nominated me for this super lovely pay-it-forward write-up. Kinda the nudge I needed to get a post going.
And it’s an interesting one. You can always name the 5 top places you want to visit, but 5 places you want to re-visit?? Man, this kept me going for a while. But nonetheless, making a list is what I am good at, so sharing my top 5 Destinations I Would Love To Return To:
Aah, the city of dreams for me. There is just so much happening in London. It was my first experience with a major European city. Farmers markets. The lovely architecture. The streets. How I looked forward to the excitement of taking the train from Derby, on weekends, and seeing all that this wonderful city had to offer. Big Ben, the Buckingham Palace, the bridges, Hyde Park, Oxford Street, the street artists, the London bus, the tube… oh, and the shopping, the people. Amongst my very many vivid memories of my time in London, my fondest is of a day spent at the Brick Lane market. That was my first time ever at a food-from-all-across-the-globe smorgasbordish fair, and boy did that get me hooked. Infact, my friend Pooja introduced me to this part of London, and I am ever so glad she did. I still remember we both had run out of cash (what happens in Soho stays in Soho) and had a grand total of 20 pounds on us. And how we salivated at the sight of all that food. There was Sri Lankan, Chinese, Vietnamese, Mexican, and Ethiopian amongst many others. Best thing ever though, each stall offered you free samplers, so we kinda got the best of everything and settled down to a burrito and some cupcakes.
Next time around: I hope to live in London, and experience it like a true-blue overcoat-wearing, tube-catching, Hyde-park relaxing Londoner than a regular tourist
Last winters, we did a road trip around Tasmania. The husband, I, and his parents. Was a super packed road trip where we covered the length of Tassie (local slang), from Launceston all the way upto Burnie , and then driving down the western coast to Hobart. We also covered the eastern coast of Tassie, all the way upto Wineglass Bay on the Freycinet peninsula. How gorgeous was that, with the white sands and the crystal clear blue waters. Contrasting scenery to the west coast which was all about mountains, and winding roads, and wineyards.
Tassie was an experience I am not likely to forget in a long, long time. Sure, it was gorgeous (poor man’s NZ, they say). Vast undulating stretches of greenery . Cattle grazing lazily on farmlands. Blooming valleys of lavender flowers, rhododendrons, wineyards, apple orchards, berry farms. But more so because, we encountered a different scenery every day, and a different weather experience too. One day it would be bright and sunny, and we would be driving amidst vast farmlands, with cattles grazing and lazing peacefully; and another day it rained cats and dogs, and we were at the outskirts of this beautiful coastal town of Burnie, where we would sit in our car with our coffees and admire the mansion like properties of the retired gentry. The third day, it actually snowed (and there was a mini hailstorm)… in September!!. Tassie kept us enthralled for the duration of our week long trip. Infact, I think Tasmania deserves its own blog post on the sights and sceneries we saw. Coming soon people!
Next time around: Tasmania is known for it’s local fresh produce (berries, dairy, fruit, wine, meat, salmon etc) but we went at the end of winters (southern hemisphere) so local produce wasn’t out and abound. And the rain also played spoilsport. So the next time around, I want to do a full foodie trip across the country. Full foodie, I repeat.
3. Isle of Skye, Scotland
Where he asked me to marry him…. need I say more
Next time around: Orkney islands are on my Scottish itinerary
Choosing one of the many many Indian cities to want to always return to was tough (there’s a whole top 10-15 list I have). Goa crossed my mind, as did Sikkim. But Pune is special for so many reasons. It’s that one city where me, my brother, my mother, and my father have all spent parts of our childhoods in. And maybe that’s where lies the attraction (and the magnetic pull). My father and brother did military graduation from there (National Defency Academy, Khadakvasla), and my ma went to Ursulas convent school in Pune. I did my 3rd grade, and my MBA from Pune (met the mister there too :) ) plus worked there for a year+ when my dad was posted there. Living with my father that year, that’s when I started honing my cooking skills (and he is still my recipe guide, just a shout away). And the days of my MBA at SIMS, Pune has given me my closest friends and super fun memories till date (touchwood).
It has essentially been a city I have grown up in, and revisited at different, crucial junctures of my life, leaving me with fond and bittersweet memories both. Pune, you will always be special for me
Next time around: Visiting my mom’s school, and the place where she and her brood of siblings, along with my grandparents called home :)
5. Himachal Pradesh
Saved the best for the last, I did (Yoda talk). What do I say about Himachal that people who know me don’t know already. It’s where my family belongs to. My dad being in the army, the only times we ever really visited Himachal were our yearly summer vacation trips to Shimla, Dharamshala, Garli, and Dehra. So it’s not like I stayed there for a long time and went to school/college, or worked there. But as corny as it sounds, Himachal is in my blood. I cross the border of the state and it’s like I have come home. Everything about it is lovely. The scenery, the fresh air, the small villages, the people (nicest lot ever), and the food. Aah, the food. You don’t find local Himachali cuisine in a lot of public places, which is a pity, but visit any locals home and you will get a flavour of full pahadi food. Come to my home y’all and you will know what I am talking about. That’s why I started my series of posts on Himachali food ~ a small attempt to capture my family’s treasure trove of recipes. Hope I am able to do justice to the idea.
Next time around: Don’t get me started. I want to do a foodie backpacking trip across Himachal. I want to make buy an apple orchard. I want to make fresh jam and sell it. I want to settle in Himachal. *sigh*
This post was part of a campaign created by Booked.net – Top Destinations to Go There, for a contest they have been hosting the past few months. As part of the campaign, I’d like to nominate these five other bloggers to also take part:
- Pooja Deshpande at A Bit of This and a Lot of That
- Neethi Iyer at Happyness On A Platter
- Nandini at Goan Imports
- Neha Malhotra at The Olive Green Wife
- Karen Humilde at Live Wander Love
Pahadis from Himachal use curd in a lot of our dishes. There is Mandra, where curd and ghee are used in equal proportions and it’s a dish fit for kings, ~ mostly cooked in special occasions, it’s not an everyday feature in households (too heavy duty for roz ka khaana). We also use curd to make Palda, where one can cook any sabji ~ aloo, aloo gobhi, aloo matar, gobhi, gajar matar~ and then add curd in the end; this is a dish that serves as an accompaniment to dal and rice and it’s pretty much a regular weekly feature in my house at least. We also have a curd soup (closest match) called Redu that my brother loves. In all his cranky years of not eating anything, Redu (ray-do) was the one thing he would gladly guzzle by the gallon.
However today I wanted to share the recipe for another curd-based dish that we call Choliya. When I was staying with my dad, back in Pune, I was responsible for weeknight dinners and weekend lunches, and Choliya was one dish I cooked every other week; a) Coz I loved it, and b) it was super simple easy-peasy. I remember having it every other week, in summers, when I stayed with my nani, and she cooked it in the most divine manner possible. SLurrrrp.
Choliya is essentially mashed black chickpeas, cooked in mustard oil and curd, and is served with rice. The more khatta (sour) the curd, the more the flavour of the cooked mash and mustard oil stands out. It’s a simple recipe that uses basic ingredients, but offers an alternative to eating dal with rice, or cooking black chickpeas in regular onion tomato masala. I love it.
Read on for the recipe:
- 2 cups kala channa (black chickpeas), soaked overnight
- Mustard Oil: 2tbsp
- Spices for regular tadka:
- Coriander powder: 1.5 tsp
- Garam Masala powder: 1.5 tsp
- Salt, to taste
- Red chilli powder: 1 tsp
- Turmeric: .5 tsp
- Methi seeds (Fenugreek seeds): 1 tsp
- Mustard seeds: 1.5 tsp
- Curd: 2-2.5 cups
- Coriander leaves, for garnish
- Boil the soaked channas, either by cooking them in a pressure cooker (3 whistles should suffice), or by boiling them in a saucepan. The channas should be soft enough to mash with a regular spoon/ladle
- Mash the boiled channas
- Heat the mustard oil until it leaves its mustardy smell.. burn baby burn
- Add the mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds, they will splutter a bit so do be careful
- Add the mashed channa and cook until it starts leaving oil. This should take about 5-10 minutes. Roast it well.
- Once cooked, add the regular spices (salt, haldi, dhaniya powder, garam masala, red chilli powder). Cook for a minute
- Now to this, add the curd and keep stirring until the mixture comes to a boil (The stirring helps in not letting the curd split)
- Once it boils, simmer it for 3-4 minutes and turn off the gas
- Garnish with coriander leaves, and serve with rice
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,
- Mustard oil – 2 tbsps
- Mustard seeds – 1.5 tsp
- Fenugreek seeds (methi daana) – .5 tsp
- Onions – finely diced, 1/2 of a small onion
- Garlic – 2-3 cloves, finely chopped
- Chickpea flour (besan) – 1 tbsp
- Amchur – 3 tbsp/ Tamarind paste – 2 tbsp
- Gur, if using – 2 tsp
- Black chickpeas/Black eye beans – boiled – 1.5 cups
- Turmeric powder : 1 tsp; Red chilli powder : 1 tsp ; Coriander powder : 1.5 tsp; Garam masala powder: 1 tsp
- Salt, to taste
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.
- In a kadhai, heat the mustard oil to a usable temperature (make it very hot so that it doesn’t sting as such)
- To this oil, add the mustard seeds, methi daana, jeera, onions, garlic and green chillies.
- Once the onions and garlic are slightly browned, add the other spices ~ turmeric, coriander powder, garam masala, salt
- Add the besan to this mixture and cook it until it’s properly roasted (turns slightly brown and gives off roasted smell, not burnt)
- To make it sour: Add imli/amchur ; To make it sour and sweet: Add amchur and gur
- Add the boiled beans/boiled chickpeas/boondi and water to this mix. Bring to a boil.
- 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.
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!
Whenever someone asks me, “so where in India do you belong to?” I never really know what to answer. My family hails from Himachal Pradesh, but as my father was in the Indian Army (infact, still is) we never really lived in Himachal, except for the annual vacation visits. I stayed all over India, in Bangalore, Secunderabad, Lucknow, Missamari, Siliguri, Pune yada yada yada. So the cliched answer would be I am from India. However, if there is one cuisine of India I feel most emotional about, it has to be Himachali food.
Sure, it could be because it is the food I grew up with. But I also grew up eating idlis, dosa, pohas, vada pavs, momos, dal makhani, butter chicken, tunday kabab, chicken 65, biryanis. So that’s not just it.It could be primarily because I feel that a lot of people don’t know how lovely and unique Himachali khaana is. And oh-so yummy. And I kind of also feel proprietorial about it. Plus as the years go by, I feel I need to preserve whatever part of my heritage I can. I tried learning the language and am still taking baby steps with it. I want to live in a village up in the hills but in my reality it is not a practical idea. So if all this translates into me recording a Himachali food diary, in the here and now, so be it. This is a dream I want to make into a reality. (I have this whole road trip charted out in my head, backpacking across Himachal, recording recipes and food habits and making my food journal ~all it needs are the start and end dates, and I wouldn’t mind some company~)
But until that trip happens, let me record the recipes I do know about and share them with you all. Hopefully, you enjoy them as much as I do, or maybe even more.