The Story of a Biryani

The Story of a Biryani

Today in the want of a one pot meal, I made a vegetable biryani. It tasted great. Mind you, it took me 10 years to make great biryani.

I am a Maharashtrian, raised in a orthodox deshstha brahmin household. All my life I have religiously munched on whatever my mom cooked. Though she was an ardent devotee of so many gods, for me there was only one religion “ FOOD”. Deshastha is a branch of Brahmins which has Koknastha brahmins on the other side ( this is just for information) . My mom used to cook amazing food. She was a very pious lady and used to cook exactly the same menu during different festivals. For example, for Nagpanchami which is celebrated in Maharashtra, we never remember having anything else other than “ Sakharbhat” and “ Dind” (which is a type of small pancakes) there were many logical reasons behind her cooking. All the food which she used to cook involved seasonal vegetables and grains. Her cooking method never involved a lot of masala or a lot of frying. She seldom used onion, garlic, eggplant in her cooking. I wonder how she used to cook delicious food without using many ingredients.

As I got married to a South Indian household, I was not very sure what to expect because everything was very very new. All I knew that they would be having dosa and idli more than my home. I came to Chennai keeping my mind open and slowly I realized that there is a lot of difference in the cooking method of my mom and south india. Being computer savvy, I could easily get information about different recipes which people had generously put on their portals may be to help people like me.

But to tell the truth “ NOTHING” worked.

I could make the “Kozhumbu” but it quite never tasted like one. I could make “ Sambar” but it used to be much like “Dal” and not the sambar that my people were used to. Idlis were not as they would make and I could barely make good dosas. Those were the starting days of our married life. Couple of years on, I could now make okiesh food which people could eat. They say as you become a mother, you slowly become a good cook. But my daughter also could not completely change the way I cooked. Some poriyals, some sabjis were amazing. I could make soft fulkas from the day one and that was my plus point. But that was it.

After around 6 years, I appointed a cook, Kamakshi. She is from a village near Karaikudi and has worked in a Chettiyar household. An amazing cook and a very efficient househelp, Kamakshi realized the different ways of eating of my household quickly and adapted to the same. She makes great food. She is my first source of knowing authentic tamil dishes. The kozhumbu that she makes is lip smacking and so is the tomato thokku. The rasam made by her has its own fan following. The vegetable biryani that she makes is our staple food on EVERY sunday. The gobi pakodas which she makes as an accompaniment is my daughter’s fav food.  

Before Kamakshi, I could never know the real authentic taste of tamil cuisine.

Every dish is to be made a certain way and that certain way can be known only when somebody makes it in front of you or you have the taste engraved in your mind that you can replicate the ingredients and make the same.

Kamakshi is a god sent help for me to learn from an authentic source. But did I learn with her. NO.

It is her absence which taught me to remember the taste of each dish that she made and replicate the same. Today in the want of a one pot meal, I made a vegetable biryani. It tasted great. Mind you, it took me 10 years to make great biryani. It was not learnt from anybody, I just used my senses remembering the taste of Biryani made by Kamakshi and a lot of ingredients to make it great. Slowly,

I am realizing that good food is more about the exact ingredients that we add at the right time and nothing else.

Cooking is not an art but simple mathematics which I was ignoring all these years and was wondering why my mom never taught me to make great food like her. Perhaps she wanted me to come out of my shell and take my own time to learn cooking so that I love it all my life.

How did I make Biryani?

Prep:

  • Peel a generous amount of garlic and clean the ginger, peeling off its skin.
  • Cut beans ( ½ inch pieces) and carrots in julienne
  • Cut couple of onions ( long )  and dice tomatoes as usual
  • Make ginger garlic paste in a mixer ( I have recently bought a mortar pastle so I made it in that)
  • Make sure you have star anise, couple of cloves, couple of big cardamoms, cinnamon,  bay leaf and fennel seeds. ( if possible take it out and keep it in a plate)
  • For today I got Biryani Masala because I had to make stuff in giffy. If you have the patience and know how to make biryani masala, please make it beforehand. I used “Aachi Biryani Masala”
  • Curd around a cup
  • A couple of spoons of ghee ( clarified butter) and a spoon of ground nut oil.
  • Soaked Basmati Rice ( 1 big cup )

The Making:

  • Cooker is the best utensil you can make the Biryani in. So use your cooker. I recently bought a prestige clip on cooker which is an amazing cooker serving as a frying pan and a handi. You can use any of the available cookers though.
  • Make the cooker hot and put ghee as well as oil.
  • As it gets warm put star anise, cloves, cardamoms, cinnamon, bay leaf and fennel seeds.
  • In a couple of minutes, the aroma of these spices will prompt you to add onions.
  • Fry the onions for a minute and let it get soaked in the oil and heat till it turns golden brown. Add tomatoes to it.
  • Once onions and tomatoes leave their juice into the oil, add veggies and saute.
  • As they mix together and make a fantastic visual with their colors, add biryani masala.
  • Give it a good stir, some people also add lemon juice but I avoided it.
  • Add curd and again stir well.
  • By now, the whole stuff would be looking like a gravy. Nice and thick. This is the indication of adding soaked basmati rice.
  • Mix it well and add 3 cups of water. ( The Basmati rice which I have is new and soaks less water, check instructions on the cover of basmati rice to prevent Biryani turning into Khichadi ( LOL)
  • Add salt as per your taste.

NOTE: Clip on the lid and DO NOT PUT ON THE WHISTLE ( Thank you Shrilekha for this invaluable tip) in 10 mins please check whether the water content is fine and if it is then your Biryani is ready….Let it rest with the steam.

What are the takeaways:

  • You get a gorgeous Biryani Color
  • Nice Aroma
  • Well cooked basmati grains
  • A great taste.

I am not a fan of garnishing ( and lazy too) but you can always garnish it with freshly cut coriander and pudina… Take pics and post it on social media for extra satisfaction  🙂 🙂

 

Shopping Hacks for Busy Moms!

Shopping Hacks for Busy Moms!

Shopping has always been fascinating. We definitely have vivid memories of Sadhana dancing to the tunes of Jhumka Gira Rey Bareilly ke bazar me. Markets enthuse us with huge amounts of energy. Then let it be the Budhwar Bazar of Mahal or Sitabuldi Nagpur, Kamothe Bazar of Navi Mumbai or the hustling and bustling market of Mylapore, Chennai.

One of the prime reasons why I love marketplaces is that as a buyer I get to meet new people. Engage in a conversation. Talk to them in their local language. And yes here it is how I learned Tamil! We all have that preferred and favorite vendor who we wish to buy from. We trust her trade. We try to reach them for the best deals.

The lights at the night time at a marketplace, the arrangements of vegetables is many times love at first sight.  After a great shopping of grocery, vegetables one often tends to eat up at some local hawker to make up for the tired, dehydrated self. With changing times, we have to acclimatize with the newer situations.

I underwent a transformation when it came to my buying habits, after marriage. Now I had less time at hand to spend with my husband, for me and for the household. It was then, at that time when our late Perippa Mr Vishwanathan told me and cultivated the idea of buying the grocery and vegetables online. Local baniya was a popular online store in Mumbai, then.

And that decision to trust the new found love “APPS” gave my marital life and now postpartum life a breather. Four years and still on, I am a dedicated online shopper for grocery, vegetables, and other daily needs of the household.

Online shopping is indeed an order of the day and how?

 

  • It saves time:- Time for me is money. With my little one demanding all my time and attention, I invest this very dimension of my life very calculatingly. Just a day before if you order, you get the stuff right at your doorstep. No need to stand in long queues of time-consuming billing counters.
  • More variety:- Some of the online stores claim that they have more than 1000 brands of a particular item. I am sorted in this aspect and hence options don’t confuse me.
  • Good quality:- Four years my relationship with online shopping has always been a qualitative one with reasonable rates. And what if you find rotten carrots? Well, you can always return the same and get the money credited to your account.
  • Deals, Offers, and Bonuses:- A huge amount has been credited to my account as I avail many offers and bonuses. Loyalty comes with a price.
  • 24*7 customer care:- Most of the online portals selling vegetables and have great support. You can always chat with them or call them and they are indeed happy to help.
  • What more? Well, you can also avail their gifting facility. Present your loved ones with anything and everything.

Online shopping of vegetables and grocery is constantly evolving. Life becomes easy and hassle-free. Some of the online stores in main cities are

  • Bigbasket
  • Zopnow
  • Godrej Basket
  • Grofers
  • Spencers
  • More
  • Onlinesabjiwala

I am a Bigbasketeer! Are you?

 

How much screen time is too much? Ask you phone

How much screen time is too much? Ask you phone

Little Ms.K is fond of devices, gadgets and all kind of technology. Every gadget that we got home, was first used by her to the fullest. But slowly, she was getting into a habit of using gadgets like all of us do. As a mom, I was terribly worried about the screen time that she used to spend. I have always emphasized on child lead weaning for anything, and this time I was determined that she should get the control of switching off the gadget off by herself. As a 7-year-old, little Ms. K has now weaned herself from all the gadgets which is a relief.

We as parents should also try and use self-lead weaning from these devices. They are very helpful for people in every walk of life but when it becomes an addiction it is harmful for sure.

Recently Apple’s CEO Tim Cook has spoken about how Apple is working on introducing some features in iOS12 which may help all adults and teens keep an eye on how much mobile phones they are using in a day which I would say is a great tool.

What are the things which you will be able to do with iOS12’s manage screen time feature:

Activity report for total time spent in different apps, usage across all the categories of apps.

Apple Screen Time Displayed Categorically

Apple Bed Time The enhanced Do Not Disturb Feature

The Do Not Disturb feature has always been there in iOS devices but now there would be dimming of display and no display of notification till the prompted time.

You can now get your notifications delivered quietly 🙂 group them

Facebook

Get the notifications delivered quietly

 

iOS12

Get suggestions from Siri on which notifications to be kept and which can be managed.

  • You get to see how your screen time is divided across all apps.
  • Choose your downtime with the apps, with the downtime the apps will have a badge stating that they are not allowed to be used during that time.
  • Parents can set up time for children’s usage.  

In the recent interview, Apple CEO, Tim Cook says that they have always kept their users as their priority while designing the ultimate technological experience. Hope the new feature helps us keep the phones at bay 🙂

Disclaimer: All the images are downloaded from

https://www.apple.com/in/newsroom/2018/06/ios-12-introduces-new-features-to-reduce-interruptions-and-manage-screen-time/

The article is inspired from

https://www.apple.com/in/newsroom/2018/06/ios-12-introduces-new-features-to-reduce-interruptions-and-manage-screen-time/

https://www.npr.org/2018/06/05/616980803/transcript-apple-ceo-tim-cook-on-screen-time-controls-working-with-china

 

Bring Back The Clay – Earthenware into the kitchen

Bring Back The Clay – Earthenware into the kitchen

I love earthenware, crockery, glassware in short anything which can be broken easily and does not promise to last long. I love them because I somehow feel that it takes immense efforts to make earthen pots and crockery. The cups, saucers, trays, tea kettle, tea sets are the most favourite things of mine since childhood. While we were kids, we had a huge set of small utensils, which had fridge, washing machine, gas and everything which mom had in her kitchen. We also had a nice tea set made of bone China, it was a miniature and we used to celebrate our tea parties with those tiny cup saucer and tea kettles. So the love of all things like it was innate or may be mom inculcated it. We never had many things in crockery but we certainly had a great set of mugs, tea cups and saucers. Mom was a tea lover and while having tea she used to spend 2 mins on her own ( it used to be her me time) now we call it as hygg practice 😉 anyway, so we had a great set of teacups even then. The water used to be stored in a matka. And she never failed to give a swirl of alum on the water after filling it to keep it purified. Earthenware has its own charm. I have people at home who can not drink cold water from the fridge, for them water from the earthen Pot is a blessing. Yesterday while shopping some Sundry items me and Shrilekha saw this very colourful earthenware shop on the side of Mylapore tank. The girl who was selling the earthenware was speaking flawless English. While running the shop she was also looking after her 2 year old. She inspired me in her own way. I purchased a jar, couple of glasses and a condiment caddy. The colours made me immensely happy. The touch of hand and the effort which has gone to make the pot touches my heart. As I came home, people were amused thinking that I love earthenware, crockery, glassware in short anything which can be broken easily and does not promise to last long. I love them because I somehow feel that it takes immense efforts to make earthen pots and crockery. The cups, saucers, trays, tea kettle, tea sets are the most favourite things of mine since childhood. While we were kids, we had a huge set of small utensils, which had fridge, washing machine, gas and everything which mom had in her kitchen. We also had a nice tea set made of bone China, it was a miniature and we used to celebrate our tea parties with those tiny cup saucer and tea kettles. So the love of all things like it was innate or may be mom inculcated it. We never had many things in crockery but we certainly had a great set of mugs, tea cups and saucers. Mom was a tea lover and while having tea she used to spend 2 mins on her own ( it used to be her me time) now we call it as hygg practice 😉 anyway, so we had a great set of teacups even then. The water used to be stored in a matka. And she never failed to give a swirl of alum on the water after filling it to keep it purified.
Earthenware has its own charm. I have people at home who can not drink cold water from the fridge, for them water from the earthen Pot is a blessing.
Yesterday while shopping some
Sundry items me and Shrilekha saw this very colourful earthenware shop on the side of
Mylapore tank. The girl who was selling the earthenware was speaking flawless English. While running the shop she was also looking after her 2 year old. She inspired me in her own way. I purchased a jar, couple of glasses and a condiment caddy. The colours made me immensely happy. The touch of hand and the effort which has gone to make the pot touches my heart. As I came home, people were amused thinking that this is another new experiment but after drinking that thirst quenching water everybody was impressed with the attempt. Today while chitchatting we discussed about bringing back the clay pots for cooking and storage…I am sure it will bring back old memories and also would bring in some flavour in food which is long lost.

 

Mindful Eating – Unlearning and Relearning

Mindful Eating – Unlearning and Relearning

The first and foremost memory that I have of food is the “Dahi Poli” which I used to have in my grandma’s mud house. The dahiwali used to bring dahi in mud pots from her village in the morning and Aaji used to make hot phulkas during the same time. I used to eat 1 fulka happily at the age of 2-3 years. I never knew what was mindful eating then, but as I understand the Dahi ( Yogurt) was locally sourced and fulka was made by Aaji. Some years before when I was obsessed with counting the macronutrients in the food. I still could find that the meal of Dahi Poli around 11 AM was the best that I could have as a child and also as an adult. It was valid then and is valid now. Then what was missing in between?

After my graduation, I started working and the timings were really bad. I was always in the obese category but now with odd timings and odd eating pattern, I started putting on the considerable amount of weight coupled with a lot of acidity. Then started the part called unlearning.

Unlearning: –

Rice has simple carbs, chapathi has complex carbs. Groundnut oil is bad for health. Sunflower oil or Karadi oil is good for health. Never touch a Mango, Banana, Chickoo, it will put on weight. Have more green leafy vegetables etc were some more health secrets that I started living by. I worked out sincerely and did not eat well as per today’s standards. I reduced my weight several times in my life and bounced back to more, those many times. I never thought about mindfulness while eating post my graduation. I worked in different cities, ate whatever was available and I cook. Post marriage, I again started working out pretty regularly and reduced around 20 kgs by not eating well as per today’s standards. I never touched Mango, Milk, Chickoo, Banana and my favorite Guava during those days. Unlearning the mindfulness which Aaji ( grandma ) and Aai ( mom ) passed on to me was a major drawback. I ended up having IBS ( Irritable Bowel Syndrome) which is a group of symptoms like diarrhea, constipation, stomach pain and vomiting. 3 years of acute IBS brought me back to rethink the overall food habits and there is where I started relearning.

Relearning:

Mindful eating needed to be incorporated back to my lifestyle. But before that I needed to fix some things. Groundnut oil made entry to the kitchen with sesame oil from Kachchi Ghani. Switched to cow’s milk and homemade curd. Incorporated grain shuffle like one grain each day . It included eating jowar, bajra, wheat, rice ( normal white rice), nachni on a specific day in a week. Started having pickles, papads and homemade jams. All desserts which are homemade were welcome. It included Puran Poli, Coconut Burfi, Laddoo, Semiya Kheer, Shakkarai Pongal, Modak . Bringing ghee back on varan bhat helped bloating and weight loss. I can not specify in words how happy I am to include all this back in my food. You can see me a couple of pounds here and there but that does not matter to me as I have food which makes me happy. Since last 3 years I am having Banana everyday in the morning which has immensely helped curing IBS. No cramps, no constipation and bye bye to diarrhea. Bringing grandma’s wisdom back in life brought me back to life. As I have a spoonful of shakkarai Pongal laden with ghee and sugar, I say that there is nothing better than believing in your natural palette and trusting your instincts while eating. This is as they say – Mindful Eating. I have found myself through mindful eating, have you?

This post is a part of the Godrej Food Trends Blogging Contest hosted by FashionableFoodz in association with Vikhroli Cucina and should not be repurposed, republished or used otherwise. The content herein is owned by the blogger. Godrej Food Trends Blogging Contest, FashionableFoodz or Godrej is not responsible for any infringement caused. #GodrejFoodTrends2018Contest  #GFTR2018