Himachal Chronicles: Palampur and around

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.

Continue reading “Himachal Chronicles: Palampur and around”

2015: The Year That Was

It’s December already? Wasn’t it the start of this year just a teensy while back? I feel like a goldfish, purely because I’m trying to remember what all I got up to in the past year, and I just am unable to. It all flew by in a whiz. Pffffft.

I do know where some of my last few months went; being so caught up with work and home that the blog was ignored. But see how loyal I am to our monthly #BlogAlong, that Upasna, Pooja and I host every first Sunday of the month. It’s pretty much the one thing that I make sure I post to the blog lately. So much to share with you and so little I actually am. I am not going to jump the gun and start spouting my New Years resolutions, not just yet. However what I do want to share is my favourite memories of the year that was 2015.

This post is a part of the 3Girls and a #BlogAlong monthly link-up, hosted by Pooja from A Bit of This and a Lot of That, Upasna from Life On My Plate, and yours truly. The theme this month is Flashback 2015

Lately, Arjun Singh and I are saving all our moolah and energy for our trip to the Great Barrier Reef for New Years Eve, so most of the weekends go by binge-watching The Walking Dead. So when I sat down to write this post and recapped some fun times, all I could picture were zombies running after me. Ugh. Not good. So flash-backed a bit more, and realised it wasn’t all zombies and lazy time. 2015 was special in so so many ways, and the following are just a few of my favourite blog posts of the last one year.

The Hobo Road Trip: 5 friends, one car, 6000 kms, and some epic memories

We drove all the way from Melbourne to the Gold Coast and back, meandering here and there, and created memories to last a lifetime. Along the way, we discovered this trippy little town Nimbin, the story of which I shared with you all a while back. What a trip. haha.

Nimbin8
Hooligans in HoboLand

Starting my #MarketsofMelbourne series for the blog

I love markets, and Melbourne has a gazillion of these. Ranging from farmers markets, to art and craft, to food festivals, its a crazy smorgasbord here. Just another reason for me to get up and go market-walking every other weekend, but hey it’s all for a good cause, innit. (Albeit I am behind on the posts, but too many markets, one little me: Hold on for 2016, it’s going to be market heaven here :) )

And did I mention that my blog post on the Esplanade Market, right here in St Kilda, got covered in Elle China. Woot Woot!

Elle Feature
Elle Feature: Esplanade Market, St Kild

Spectacular New Zealand

Oh New Zealand, what can I say about you that others haven’t raved about already. Until I figure out other unique ways to describe the Kiwi country experience, you all can read my post on the adorable little seal pups I visited off the coast of Kaikoura in South Island here.

Cuteness Maximus
Cuteness Maximus

The Intoxicating Barossa Valley

A vacation which consisted of wine-tasting, lazy strolls in wine-yards, and lots of me and him time. Do I need to list out any other reason at all why this made it in here? :) Yes, there is so much more to do in Barossa other than wines, and which you should definitely experience them when you are there. But the wines, oh the wines, I swear it’s like it’s literally in the air up there.

Wine Wine and More Wine
Wine Wine and More Wine

When My Recipe Got Featured On Buzzfeed

What a win! And it was a Himachali recipe of mine, to boot. It’s not like I am super creative or a hyper-perfectionist or pull out all stops with the food styling and my food photography with the blog. All I want to get right is the detail and the colors. And then one day I wake up to tons of traffic on the blog, directed from Buzzfeed, and you just smile to yourself, knowing yes, that’s a Win for today!

This got Buzzed
This got Buzzed

The #BlogAlong

2015 is also special because this is the year I started my blog link up party with two absolutely delightful blogger gal-pals and we LOVE it. Every month, we get alarm-clocked by the enthu-cutlet (you know we heart you Pooja), and then we put on our blogger hats and come up with our topics for that month. It’s pretty much an endless discussion on food, and travel, and then some more food. The way to our hearts is ALSO through our gluttonous stomachs. And eyes.

We hope you are enjoying the #BlogAlong as much as we are. This is as much your link up party as it is ours, and we want you to tell us if you have any exciting ideas for us to #BlogAlong about in 2016.

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Phew. I did manage to get up to a lot this year. No wonder I am so tired. Haha. The last month of this year and I are going to continue to make some wonderful memories, and ring in 2016 with its wonderful delights. Am glad I had a chance to recap some of my favorite blogging memories with you all, and I cannot wait to read a round up of yours.

 

This post is a part of the 3Girls and a #BlogAlong monthly link-up, hosted by Pooja from A Bit of This and a Lot of That, Upasna from Life On My Plate, and yours truly.

The theme this month is Flashback 2015, and you’re all invited to the party!

BlogAlong

It’s YOUR turn now. Your best memories, lessons & learnings, musings & deliberations; #BlogAlong with us & tell us what stood out for you this past year!

To #BlogAlong with us, here’s what you have to do:

  • Write and publish a new post on the monthly topic, or share an old post you might have written around the theme. All posts are welcome, as long as they are relevant to the current topic!
  • Add the #BlogAlong badge to your post (grab the badge codes from the sidebar on each of our blogs) & link back to at least one of the hosts. This helps to promote everyone’s hard work.
  • Follow your hosts!
  • Join the party by clicking on the inlinkz button below, and adding your post to the blogroll.
  • Comment on each other’s posts and spread the love.
  • Promote your own and fellow bloggers’ posts on Social Media using the hashtag #BlogAlong.

The link-up will remain open from the first Sunday of the month, until the end of the month…!

 

Meetha

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.

Meetha, or as they say it in our side Mitha. Mitha feat

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.

Mitha4

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 :)

Mitha5

Version 1

Ingredients

  1. Ghee, 2-3 tbsps
  2. Cloves, 2
  3. Cardamoms, 2
  4. Cinnamon stick, 1 small
  5. Sugar, 10 tsps
  6. Water, 250 ml
  7. Fennel (saunf), 1/2 tsp
  8. Boondi, 2 tbsps
  9. Dry fruits (sliced almonds, raisins)

Method

  1. In a pan, preferably with a thick base, like a wok or kadhai, heat the ghee
  2. To this, add the cloves, cardamoms, cinnamon, and dry fruits. Roast them for a minute or 2
  3. Add the fennel
  4. Then add the sugar and water, and bring to a boil
  5. After one boil, simmer the mixture until it reaches the desired thick consistency of a syrup
  6. Add the boondi, and serve hot with steamed rice

Mitha1

Version 2

Ingredients:

  1. Sugar, 10 tsps
  2. Water, 250 ml
  3. Fennel (saunf), 1/2 tsp
  4. Boondi, 2 tbsps

Method:

  1. Heat a kadhai, or work. Add sugar, saunf and water.
  2. Bring to a boil, and then simmer until it reaches the desired thick consistency of a syrup
  3. Add the boondi, and serve hot with steamed rice

Mitha3

 

I am sharing this over at Angie’s amazing blog party Fiesta Friday at The Novice Gardener

 

Teliya-maah

He: Wha.. what is the dish called?

Me: Teliyaa-maah

He: hahah, you mean, teliyamma

Me: No, I mean Teliya-maah

He: hahahaha

Me: Grrrrr

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.

Final2

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.

 

Saute onions and spices

Caramelised onions

 

Add the dal

 

And the star: the dry fruits

Ingredients

  1. Whole urad dal, 1 cup, soaked overnight (or a minimum of 3 hours)
  2. 1 large onion, finely sliced
  3. Ginger, finely sliced, about 1.5 tbspns
  4. Garlic, finely chopped, 3-4 cloves
  5. Mustard oil, 5 tbsps (at the least)
  6. Mixed dry fruits, 1/2 cup (sliced almonds, sliced cashews, raisins)
  7. Whole spices
    • Cinnamon, 1 stick
    • Cloves, 3
    • Small cardamom, 2
    • Big cardamom, 1
    • Mace, equivalent of a pinch of powder
    • Bay leaves, 2-3
  8. Salt, Turmeric powder, to taste
  9. Hing, a pinch
  10. Coriander powder, 1.5 tsp
  11. Coriander leaves, to garnish

 Method

  1. In a pressure cooker, boil the dal with 2 cups water, the whole spices (except for the bay leaves), and salt and turmeric
  2. 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
  3. In a deep bottomed pan, preferably a kadhai, heat the oil until it reaches burning point.
  4. Add the bay leaves and hing to the hot oil
  5. After about 10 seconds, add the onion, ginger and garlic. Saute until the onions turn a beautiful golden brown
  6. To this, add the coriander powder, and dry fruits and cook for a further 2 minutes
  7. Add the dal
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. Yay: the teliya-maah is cooked and ready
  11. Garnish with finely chopped fresh coriander, and flaked almonds.

Serve hot with rice.

 

Final1

Dal, Palda, and Rice

Aah, the Himachali favourite. Ralli mili daal, palda, and rice. Slurp Slurp Slurp.

Ralli mili daal is a mixture of 2 dals, split urad and channa. Soaked overnight, cooked the next day until it is all soft and thick, and tempered with onion, garlic, jeera and the all-important desi ghee.

Palda is a simple sabji that is cooked with a little excess masala and oil, because right before serving we add curd to it. One can make this with potatoes, cauliflower, peas, carrots , whatever you like. I personally love it with potato and peas, or cauliflower. The taste of that slightly crispy, salt, turmeric, and oil infused sabji with the khatta curd. Yum yum yum.

For me, this combination is what rajma rice is to Punjabis, or maybe poha to Maharashtrians. A constant feature of our dining table, and ready in a jiffy.

My mom would make it for karva chauth, and diwali dinners every year, and boy, her pahaadi family never got sick of it. And never will.

dpc2.jpg

Secret: we call it daal bhath palda at home (bhath is pronounced phuth). But you have to hear us say it to know how musical it really seems.

Try it. You will love it too.

Read on for the recipes:

daal1.jpg

dal2.jpg

For the dal:

 Ingredients

  1. 1/2 cup chilka urad dal, soaked overnight
  2. 1/2 cup channa dal, soaked overnight (You can mix the dals and soak them together)
  3. 1/2 an onion, finely diced
  4. 2-3 garlic cloves, finely diced
  5. turmeric, 1/2 tsp
  6. red chilli powder, 1/2 tsp
  7. pinch of hing (asafoetida)
  8. 1 tsp coriander powder
  9. 1 tsp garam masala
  10. 1 tsp of grated fresh ginger
  11. 1 tbsp ghee
  12. 2 green chillies, sliced
  13. 1 tsp jeera
  14. salt, to taste

Method

  1. In a pressure cooker, boil the soaked dals with the turmeric, salt, hing, and ginger. I usually cook it for about 3 whistles on high heat, then lower the heat and let it cook for 10-15 minutes more, and turn off the gas
  2. In a small pan, heat the ghee, and add the jeera, onions, garlic, and green chilly
  3. Once the onions are browned, add the coriander powder, garam masala powder
  4. Add the tempered masala to the dal in the cooker
  5. Adjust seasoning to taste

 

palda1.jpg

palda2.jpg

For the palda

Ingredients

  1. 1/4 Cauliflower/2 Potatoes, chopped to small pieces, or peas, 1 cup
  2. 2 cups curd
  3. 1-1.5 tsp tumeric powder
  4. 1 tsp red chilli powder
  5. 1.5 tsp jeera
  6. 1 tsp coriander powder
  7. 1/2 tsp garam masala powder
  8. 2 tbsp mustard oil
  9. salt, a little more than usual (the curd will absorb the salt, so extra is needed)

Method

  1. In a pan/kadhai, heat up the mustard oil until it starts to smoke up
  2. Add the jeera and all other dry powders (turmeric, chilli, coriander, garam masala, salt)
  3. Add the vegetable(s)
  4. Cook the vegetable(s) until soft
  5. Turn off the gas
  6. After about 5 minutes, add the curd and mix through.
  7. Adjust seasoning to taste
  8. It is preferable to add the curd right before serving the food. In case preparing much before the actual meal time, heat up the dish, and then add the curd after turning off the gas.

 

dpc3.jpg

 

Choliya

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.

Choliya1.jpg

Choliya2.jpg

Read on for the recipe:

 Ingredients

  1. 2 cups kala channa (black chickpeas), soaked overnight
  2. Mustard Oil: 2tbsp
  3. Spices for regular tadka:
    1. Coriander powder: 1.5 tsp
    2. Garam Masala powder: 1.5 tsp
    3. Salt, to taste
    4. Red chilli powder: 1 tsp
    5. Turmeric: .5 tsp
  4. Methi seeds (Fenugreek seeds): 1 tsp
  5. Mustard seeds: 1.5 tsp
  6. Curd: 2-2.5 cups
  7. Coriander leaves, for garnish

Method

  1. 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
  2. Mash the boiled channas
  3. Heat the mustard oil until it leaves its mustardy smell.. burn baby burn
  4. Add the mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds, they will splutter a bit so do be careful
  5. Add the mashed channa and cook until it starts leaving oil. This should take about 5-10 minutes. Roast it well.
  6. Once cooked, add the regular spices (salt, haldi, dhaniya powder, garam masala, red chilli powder). Cook for a minute
  7. 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)
  8. Once it boils, simmer it for 3-4 minutes and turn off the gas
  9. Garnish with coriander leaves, and serve with rice

Choliya3.jpg