Tuesday, March 29, 2016

My favourite go-to Indian food blogs

Like all good things, a wonderful four-day-long weekend has come to an end. It almost seems like Sunday didn't happen, and I have plunged right into the heart of Monday after a lovely relaxed Saturday night! Returning to the grind is never easy and last night I found myself doing a mental calculation of all the meals that need to be prepared to get us through the week. This, as most people would agree, is no easy feat. It involves complex arithmetics involving ingredients available at home, multiplied by number of meals, divided by free time available after work to complete the task! And, as much as I love to spend time in the kitchen, most week nights - if I am cooking at all - it is a struggle. Having said that some kind strangers have helped lessen the burden by sharing with people like myself, some incredible recipes that are easy to cook and delicious to eat. For me, three websites stand out. These are my absolute favourites when it comes to Indian food, and I think it's time I put in a little thank you note to all of them. The photographs are of some of dishes I made, although these are not my week night choices. The ones I make on week nights are generally never photographed!

The websites are arranged alphabetically, simply because I can't make up my mind as to which I like more than the others! :) 

Bong Mom's CookBook 

The goddess of modern Bengali food blogging, Sandeepa's blog (and book, check it out here) is a treasure trove of fantastic recipes along with witty anecdotes from her life. I have tried innumerable dishes following her instructions and they have always turned out yum! I purchased her book sometime in 2013, and it continues to remain a prized possession that I know I can turn to, when in need of Bong food.

Flavours of Mumbai

I discovered this site only recently after Rupak recommended it for a prawn recipe. I tried it out, discovered a great deal more - innumerable recipes that I know I will try out very very soon. Here is a photograph of a Prawn Masala Dry dish that I tried out. 

Prawn masala dry

Veg Recipes of India 

This is the ultimate website for vegetarian Indian recipes. Period. There can be no argument, no debate on this statement. Very often when I have vegetarian friends coming over for lunch or dinner, I only check out this site! I can say with confidence that if you enjoy eating vegetarian food, there will be something for you here. The thing that makes this website stand apart is the fact that it offers multiple variations of the same dish. For example, the photograph I have here is using a recipe for Dal Fry (restaurant style). For those looking for a simpler dish, there is one called Dhaba-style Dal, which is similar but not quite the same :)

Arhar dal fry

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Local delicacies from Ema Keithel, Imphal

It has been a crazy month in many ways. And that coupled with the fact that my PC sort of gave up on me meant no way to blog really, except over the phone – not a pleasant experience by any means. But that is not to say that we have not been eating well or not experimenting with food. Spring is my favourite season and the best time of the year to enjoy outdoor meals, picnics, tending to the kitchen garden, and trying out new things :) I have only recently learnt about Navroz – a festival celebrating spring. Navroz as I learnt has its origins in Persian and Zoroastrian cultures, and it is celebrated in many parts of South and Central Asia. I am really excited to try out a couple of great Navroz recipes that I have collected from the web and would be sharing my experiments with you all shortly.

The other great thing is that Len is back from Manipur after a long break and we have lots of goodies stocked up in the pantry. All of these are from the all-women's market in Imphal, known as Ema Keithel. These are all local preparations of the maiteii community, locally made mostly by women in their homes. Rice puffs, jaggery, and sesame seeds are essential ingredients.

From left to right

1. Sweet-and-sour tamarind lumps. These are great after a heavy meal and help in cleansing the palate.

2.Puff rice and jaggery discs. Very similar to the Bengali moa, the only difference I find is in its unusual shape.

3. Puff rice powder balls. A perfect accompaniment with a cup of sweet tea infused with ginger.

4. Jaggery and peanut discs. Very similar to gurpatti, very common in northern India.

5.Jaggery and peanut lumps. Very similar to the discs (no.4) but better. These are nuttier and have soft sweet flavour. I can pop ten of these and eat them in a single sitting!

6.Sesame discs. The most unusual of the entire lot, this one is a total winner. It has black sesame seeds and jaggery. The texture is nutty and yet it has a lovely melt-in-the-mouth flavour.