Sunday, October 28, 2007

Salad, sabzi, or both and a weekend brunch idea :)

I am sure you are all familiar with the days, when you get back home tired and really hungry: the times when you don't have much energy to do some elaborate cooking, but would still love to have some yummy food! On one such day last week, i felt really lazy to cook much, yet craved something spicy and filling. In this bus, i had been dreaming about making some baked vegetables in some cilantro based marinade. When i got home, i checked out the vegetables in the fridge and wondered what all to use. Finally, i decided to go for some bell peppers, some mushrooms, a lil' paneer and some spring onions and marinate them in a cilantro based marinade. The cilantro chutney/marinade was made by simply blending together cilantro, green chillies, ginger, garlic salt, salt and lime juice. I mixed the marinade with the veggies in the baking dish and the whole thing looked really appetizing. I then wondered, if i should go for a salad, a sabzi or both :-D. I decided to take some in a bowl as a salad, which was yummy! and put the rest in the oven. As i feasted myself upon the lip-smacking chutney-vegetables combo, i simultaneously had been making some baked vegetables, which turned out to be equally delicious, if not more :-D. I am sure you all have your own variations on this theme, here's my version:

Baked vegetables in cilantro marinade:

We need:

  • 1 big bell pepper (chopped into bite-sized pieces)
  • 2 Roma tomatoes (sliced)
  • 20 or so bite sized pieces of paneer
  • 1/2 cup sliced crimini or baby bella mushrooms
  • 1 bunch spring onions (chopped)
For marinade:

  • 1 small bunch/3/4 th cup equivalent chopped cilantro
  • 1 serrano pepper or 2 green chillies (adjust chillies to your taste)
  • 1 inch piece of ginger
  • 1 tsp. lime/lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. garlic salt
  • Salt to taste

Grind together the ingredients for the marinade. Mix these with the chopped vegetables. In case you are making the salad, leave the spring onions and chill the salad in the fridge. Mix the chopped spring onions before serving.

The salad :)

For making baked vegetables, mix the marinade with all the chopped vegetables and let rest for 15-20 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 F meanwhile. Bake in the oven for about 35 minutes, mixing once in between (or till the bell peppers are tender-rest of the stuff doesn't take long to cook). The end result should have slightly crisped paneer and well done bell peppers, with some thick gravy. If you want grilled vegetables, add less marinade, and bake a lil' longer. Enjoy the baked vegetables with crispy toast :).

The sabzi :)

As i was having the salad, i wondered about all those laments that one gets to hear from time to time, as to how Indian food doesn't have much to do with salads! Indian cuisine boast of such an enormous variety of salads, from the lovely koshimbirs, to kosumbari, to the sundals, raitas and pachidis and the regular kheera-tamatar with lime, salt an pepper and many many more. Just that we don't label them as "salad" :-D.

Oh, and here's a quick weekend brunch idea. i am sure again that many of you make this in your own way as well. i am talking about the sandwich made with (aloo ki) sabzi :-D. i use left over aloo sabzi (dry) or any dry sabzi, stuff it in the sourdough or rye bread, along with a lil' skim mozzarella or five cheese blend and toast it on tava/griddle. i'll be honest with you, i use a lil' ghee (just a cpl. of drops) to toast :-D. It gives such a heavenly aroma!

Here's a quick aloo ki sabzi-a zero oil version:

We need:

  • 1-2 potatoes (boiled/microwaved and mashed)
  • 1/2 tsp jeera/cumin
  • 1 ripe tomato
  • 1 bunch spring onions (optional)
  • 1 tsp. grated ginger
  • 1 clove garlic (chopped fine, optional)
  • 1 chopped green chilli
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. lime juice or 1 tsp. sour curds
  • Chopped cilantro for garnish

Wash the potatoes and keep them in the microwave for cooking. It takes about 4 minutes per potato, and 7 minutes for two potatoes in my micrwave. Alternatively you can boil the potatoes. Meanwhile, heat a pan and dry roast the cumin seeds till they release the aroma. Add the tomatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the grated ginger and onions and garlic, if using. Stir and cook for a cpl. of minutes. (By now the potatoes should be done. Quickly peel them and mash them roughly). Add the microwaved/boiled and mashed potatoes to the pan and mix. Add the salt and souring agent of your choice (lime juice or curds) and mix well. If the mixture is getting too dry or sticking to the pan, drizzle some water. Cook for another 5 minutes with occasional stirring. Add the green chillies and cilantro.

Enjoy as a sabzi/side dish or as a sandwich/parantha stuffing :). Don't go by the picture, it tastes really good :).

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Food, festivals and memories :)

For people like me, festivals, food and memories form a heady combo :). Food and festivals go hand in hand and create everlasting memories. The celebrations one enjoys together with the family, the meals on cherishes with the loved ones, they all hold a special place in our book of memories :). Navaratri time is one such festival in India, when people celebrate togetherness, weave memories and have lots of fun. Food ofcourse plays a central part here too, like any other Indian festival. The word Navaratri blends the word Nava, meaning nine and new (the two meanings of the word "nava" blend well together here) and, ratri meaning night. The nine new nights, the beginning of a new season.....There are two navaratris, one celebrated during the month of Ashvin (Assu in Punjabi), leading to Mahanavami and Vijayadashmi and another one during the month of Chaitra (Chetar in Punjabi), leading to Ram Navami. The Ashvin Navaratri is one of the most popular Indian festival, celebrated across different Indian subcultures.

In Punjabi, Navaratri time is referred to as Narate/Navratre. Both Assu and Chetar Narate are celebrated with equal fervour. People f(e)ast through the Narate and celebrate Sri Durga Ashtami and Maha Navami with lots of festive foods. Throughout the Narate, people worship the various forms of Mother Goddess. To me, this festival reflects the celebration of womanhood.

During fasting, ideally one is supposed to eat light, stick to mostly fruit diet or "phalahaar", no whole grains, no salt etc. However, that usually makes way for the alternative sources of yumminess :-D. People enjoy goodies made out of swaang (literal meaning, pretend) da chawal (samo), singhare da atta (water chestnut flour)-relished as rotis, choora and halva, kuttu de atte di roti (rotis made out of kuttu flour) etc. Salt is replaced by kala loon/kala namak/sendha namak (black salt). The sabzis, daals and kadhis are made sans and onion, garlic and even tomatoes! People enjoy the laddoos/pinnis made out of jaggery and red amaranth seeds (boor, seel, rajgira). Read some notes about samo and rajgira here.

I'll confess, i used to fast when i was a lil' kid :). The fun of doing things together with my friends was what drove me to sustain on bananas and other fruit for the whole day, with an occassional treat in the form of khatte wale aloo :).

Its a simple dish, made out of potatoes, dry spices and tamarind. Really yummy and tangy, and has a lovely deep brown color! I recently made it as an ode to good old times :). Here's how we make it:

Khatte wale aloo:

We need:

  • 3 potatoes (peeled and cut into big cubes. I use Russet/Idaho varities)
  • A pinch of hing/asfoetida
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin (jeera)
  • 1/4 tsp. kalonji (nigella seeds)
  • 1/2 tsp. coriander powders (dhania powders)
  • 1/4 tsp. turmeric
  • Red chilli powder (to taste)
  • 1 tbsp. thick tamarind pulp
  • Salt to taste (people who fast traditionally use black salt)
  • 1/2 tsp. oil (preferably mustard) or ghee

In a deep vessel, heat the oil/ghee and temper the hing, followed by cumin and nigella seeds Now add the coriander powder and turmeric and mix. Add one and half cup water to this and bring to boil. Now add cubed potatoes, salt and chilli powder, cover and cook the potatoes on low heat till done. Stir in the tamarind pulp and cook for another 4- 5 minutes. Serve hot with thin phulkas. Enjoy :).

On the Durga Ashtami day, or Jyot, as it is known in Punjabi, people invite lil' girls home for a feast. This is called Kanjak Pooja. Kanjak literally means lil' girl. The lil' girls are literally worshipped and enjoy a great feast and are given really pretty presents including beautiful bangles, red chunnis/duppattas/scarves with golden/tilla boder, toys and some pocket money. As lil' girls, my friends and i used to get together and the night before Durga Ashtami, we would apply mehndi and have lots of fun together. The traditional Jyot fiesta includes sooji halwa or kadah (made with either jaggery or sugar, along with cardamom, sometimes saffron and garnished with roasted almonds, raisins or thinly sliced dried coconut ), bhangoor (pronounced like angoor, with the Punjabi BH sound, which is actually a combination of P, B and H sounds rolled into one), which is dry savory dish made from black gram or kale chane, which are soaked, boiled and then cooked in oil and dry spice powders like a lil' hing, dhania and jeera powders, amchoor and chilli powder etc, pooris or phulkas , and dahi-bhalle (vadas in yogurt). The dahi bhalle are kept simple for the festival. No sweet and green chutneys here. Just simply flavored with salt, ground black pepper, roasted jeera and red chilli powder. The bhalle usually are fried in mustard oil and are usually spiced with whole or ground black peppers, very lil' hing, salt and red chilli powder. And yet the taste eclectic! There is certain way of enjoying the kadah, bhagoor and poori, and it is the best way to enjoy it!! You keep a poori in a plate, flatten the poori, top it with kadah/halwa and top it all with some bhangoor, roll it and enjoy!

The Narate culminate in the Dussehra, which is the day to enjoy Ram Leelas and in Punjab, it also marks the first day of welcoming and enjoying the new sugar-cane crops :).

Here's to the cultural pot-pourri that India is, a beautiful land with so many diverse festivals and customs. Lets enjoy each festival by sharing smiles and celebrating our diversity, which also marks our unity.


This is my contribution for the JFI-Dussehra, being hosted by dear Vee of Past, Present and Me. JFI celebrates the different ingredients of our food and culture, and is a get together envisaged by dear Indira.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A really different, really healthy aloo-gobhi :).

Yes, indeed-its different! One, its really simple to put together (the only things you chop are aloo and gobhi) and two, its a zero oil recipe! And it packed with flavor! I have previously posted Mom's aloo-gobhi recipe, which ofcourse is an all time favorite. Today's recipe, retains the key spices from that recipe: ginger and green chillies and combines them the tangy taste of sour curds. I made it this weekend, and i had to share it with you :). Oh, talking about sharing: here's a cute piece of diary turned one y'day :-D. Blogging has been fun. So, here's to blogging and fun :).

Dahi wali aloo-gobhi

This dish is a simple one, but really yummy! We marinate the aloo and gobhi in a mix of sour curds, grated ginger, garlic salt, green chillies, cumin and coriander powders and salt, cook the aloo-gobhi first on low heat and then on high heat, and there it is: zero oil, flavorful aloo-gobhi.

We need:

  • One Cauliflower (cleaned and cut into big florets, check the recipe mentioned above)
  • 2 Russet/Idaho Potatoes (peeled and cubed)
  • 1 cup sour curds (i used store-bought fat free yogurt, to make it almost completely fat free)
  • 1 tbsp. grated ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic-chilli salt ( i used Cholula brand, you can use any other brand garlic salt or 1 clove crushed garlic, which should work just as well)
  • 1 tsp. each cumin and coriander (jeera and dhania) powders
  • 1-2 green chillies (chopped)
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh cilantro for garnishing

In a bowl, mix all ingredients except aloo, gobhi and salt, to make the marinade. Coat the aloo and gobhi pieces with this marinade and let rest for 10-15 minutes. Now you can choose one of the two ways to cook this dish:

Either tranfer these pieces and any remaining marinade into a pan. In this case, cook on low till the cauliflower florets are tender (takes about 25-30 minutes).


Place the aloo-gobhi in a baking dish and cover with aluminium foil. IIf using the baking method, bake the aloo-gobhi at 400 degrees F for 30-40 minutes and transfer the contents to a pan.

From here on, the method is the same:

Now add salt to the aloo gobhi and cook on high heat to dry all the liquid. This takes about another 10 minutes. The end result should be a well done, non- soggy, non-mushy aloo gobhi. Garnish with cilantro and enjoy with chapati or paranthas. Trust me, you won't miss the oil!

Notes: 1.Baking with yougurt/curds retains some liquid even after 30 minutes, hence cooking in the pan is essential. It not only dries up the liquid, but also makes the aloo-gobhi firm yet well cooked.
2. The marinade is really yummy! Add some boiled and mashed potatoes or some fried eggplant slices to it and enjoy a yummy raita!

Monday, October 15, 2007

FAHC: Share a smile :)

Words synonymous with food/khana are integral part of our vocabulary, they indicate sustenance, comfort, connection, affection and whole lot more to all of us. A lot of fond memories are woven around food and eating. However, food also indicates survival, the most basic necessity of life.....It always gives one immense satisfaction to feed someone, to share some food.....because your share the spirit of life, the spirit of survival.

By extending your hand to help feed children, you can share smiles, and this instinct to live.....

By contributing whatever lil' you can, you can help a great cause. Nothing is too lil' or too small to share. Every bit counts-do your bit today. Share a smile.....

Fellow blogger V.K. Narayanan (VKN), from My Dhaba has taken up a wonderful initiative, called Feed A Hungry Child (FAHC). is a not-for-profit charitable organization formed in a collaborative effort of the like-minded people from all around the world. It aims to replace the empty plates of the underprivileged children and replace them with ones of food. While FAHC addresses the holistic needs of each children it supports, it believes illiteracy, malnutrition, and other concerns can only be addressed when hunger is appeased.

Immediate Mission:

  • Join the fight against global poverty.
  • Help feed hungry children one by one.

Larger Vision: aims to improve the lives of a good many underprivileged children in their efforts to support themselves, their families, and their communities by giving them the chance for better food, better education, better healthcare, and other welfare.

Lets join him in his effort and extend whatever help we can. VKN and Indira (Mahanandi) have together invited everyone to come, join and share.

Along with Indira, Sh. Suvir Saran (well-known chef), Anjali Damerla (Supreme Spice), Bee and Jai (Jugalbandi), Manisha (Indian Food Rocks), Shilpa (Aayi's Recipes), Padmaja (Spicy Andhra), Mythili (Vindu), Siri (Siri's Corner) and Richa (As Dear As Salt), have come up with some great raffle prizes for the participants too! The prizes include Ammini Ramachandran's great book (Indira), Suvir ji's lovely books (Suvir ji), a beautifully packaged set of spice extracts (Anjali), a fantastic book on digital photography (Bee and Jai), beautiful ready-to-wear saris for lil' girls (Manisha), a fair-trade gift hamper from the UK (Padmaja), a beautiful painting, which is Shilpa's own breathtaking creation, a gorgeous, customized platter, hand-painted by Mythili Rachel Ray's "30 minute meals" by Siri, and lovely gourmet dark chocolatefrom Richa! The list is growing fast. Find out on how to enroll for the raffle at Mahanandi/Jugalbandi.

Fellow bloggers, if your read this, please support the FAHC cause on your blog. Readers, friends, lurkers, please share whatever you can through the Chip-in button in the side-bar, or contribute in other possible ways. Sharing always feels good :).

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

A chutney, strange lemons and a meme :)

A cpl. of days back, dear Mansi lovingly said, "Your next post better have some peach in it" :). So, here i am, with some peaches. I have a question for you, dear reader-how many people do you know who purposely pick sour/tangy/un-ripe peaches :-D. If you are reading this, you sure know atleast one: moi! I love peaches, actually i LOVE peaches. When i have peaches in my kitchen, i just have them as such-i don't even wait to cut them ;). I prefer yellow peaches and ectarines to white ones, because of their sweet n' tangy taste. To be honest, i don't have enough self-control to cook with fruits. The best dessert for me is to peel/cut a fruit and enjoy it. At the most i pair it up with some home-made frozen yoghurt/ice-cream. Mansi, then, had me real worried. I had to make something out of a fruit. That demanded a lot of self-control. Hence, i decided in favor of semi-ripe peaches/nectarines, hoping that i won't finish this dish even before i began making it, by gobbling up the fruit :-D.

The next worry was, what to make with tangy nectarines.....i looked up Google, and saw the words "Peach" and "Chutney". I felt grateful, immediately headed for the kitchen, prepared my version of the chutney (which included finishing up half of the fruit as i was dicing it!), got back, read the recipe from Google, decided to add a lovely ingredient (roasted walnuts) from it to jazz up my version a bit. The end result was great, a khatti-meethi (sweet and sour) chutney!

Here's the original recipe (It uses tomatoes, raisins, Vanilla syrup, and a lot of ground walnut-more sweet relish like chutney. Kids would really enjoy it). And the following is my version:

Nectarine chutney:

We need:

  • 2 yellow nectarines, diced (i started with three, but ate one!)
  • 1/4 onion (chopped)
  • 1 tbsp. grated ginger
  • 1-2 green chillies (chopped)
  • 1/2 tsp. each cumin and coriander powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp. lime juice (optional, to be used if you use really sweet peaches)
  • 2 tbsp. coarsely ground walnuts
  • 1 tsp. oil
In a pan, heat the oil and saute' onions and ginger. Add the cumin and coriander powders and the chopped green chillies. Stir and add 1/2 cup water. Now add the diced peaches and salt. Stir, cover and cook the peaches on low till they are tender.
Cool down the peaches (at this stage, it makes a nice side-dish too). Grind into a smooth paste. Add coarsely ground walnuts to the chutney, mix and enjoy :).

When i had a spoonful, the taste reminded of the traditional sweet aloobukhara/plum chutney.....which gets a lot of its flavor from the ground walnuts too. So plz. don't miss out on this ingedient. I thank the chef Mr. Frankenthaler for this ingredient. I finished this in one sitting :-D.

This goes to Mansi for AFAM:Peach/Nectarine. AFAM is a great, fruity get-together envisaged by Maheshwari from Beyond the Usual.

Now over to some interesting stuff from the supermarket:

I was at the Whole Foods Market in Westwood to pick up some vegetables when i sighted the following.....

Needless to say, it was spellbinding.....i looked around, with my cell phone ready to take a picture, trying to find someone to get permission for the same. One of the staff saw me, gave me a broad smile and said,"it is worth a picture, really" :). Now, i won't keep you guessing about it.....look right below to find the answer!

Buddha's hands.....thats the name for this grogeous beauty.....its actually a citron and apparently originated in northeastern India. I had never seen this one before, so it was quite a pleasant surprise.....

I also saw these cute looking fruits, the tamarillos. They really look like eggplants....(i actually did buy some golden eggplants y'day, will post pictures next time i write about eggplants). I think i'll buy them once to see how they taste. From what i read, seems like they would be great. Any ideas on this, anyone.

And now its time for a me-me :). Dear buddy Sra from "When my soup came alive" tagged me for the "life in fours" here's me, talking about me :-D.

Four places i've lived:

India (Amritsar, New Delhi, Bangalore), my beloved country
New York City
Los Angeles

Four jobs i (dream i) had:

Owner of the best cafe' and pastry shop in your neighbourhood (or your neighbourhood chai-wallah)
Cook ;) at your favorite bistro (or your favorite dhaba)
A loving and beloved teacher
Owner of a cute lil' book store

Four favorite places i've holidayed:

Home (thats blissful, i tell you: people cooking for you, caring for you) :-D
US, for the lovely cities on both East and West coasts
Goa and Kerala, for their breathtaking beauty
New Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad for the shopping sprees ;)

Four favorite foods (only four, not fair!):

Mom's Rajma chawal, namkeen churi and paranthas (how Punju!)
Kara baath, shavige and rave idli
Haak/dum olu/ kalan/ moong-masoor daal/ kadhi with plain rice
Chaat-pakodi: gol-gappas, tikkis, samosas, paav-bhaaji, khatte laddu, bhel-poori etc.

Four places i would rather be (as per my current mood):

Sitting outside in sun with a good book
Santa Monica-Third Street Promenade
My buddy Golden Girl's home, for a chai and upma that we would cook together
At a neighbourhood Indian restaurant, for lunch with MD

Four bloggers i would like to tag:

Richa@As Dear As Salt
Pel@Elaichi etcetera
Shweta @ Fresh Flavors

Please take it up at your leisure :). Enjoy :).

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Thoughtful paneer :)

Isn't that a thoughtful and lovely name for a dish :). How else could i have named a dish, that was born out of deep thinking ;). This month, dear Sunita wants us to think about saffron/kesar/zafraan/kong/keshar/kumkuma, a really pretty, fragrant and alluring spice. So, i had no choice, but to put on my thinking cap and dish out something that would celebrate this spice :). Saffron usually graces a lot of Indian sweets and rice dishes such as pulaavs and biryanis. Now, i usually make sweets only when i have friends visiting and i had already prepared some plain rice for dinner. So, i was more and more inclined to prepare a savory side dish featuring saffron, to go with my rice :). A look into my fridge had some paneer waving at me.....and we all know how well saffron goes with dairy :). Hence the thoughtful paneer :).

This thoughtful dish brings together paneer, sour curds and a blend of spices, with saffron playing all the three major spicy roles: as an aromatic spice, a pretty garnish and a gorgeous coloring agent :). This dish also brings together the different flavors: saffron and shah-jeera for the warm, fragrant and bitter-sweet note, sour curds for the tangy taste, black pepper for the hot factor and a combination of cinnamon and star anise for mellow sweetness. The spices used along with saffron here complement its flavor, rather than overpowering it. I didn't have Indian saffron with me (which i consider to be the best), so i used whats available locally (which is quite good too). The end result was a really flavorful, fragrant and delectable side-dish :).

So here is how i thought out this dish:

Thoughtful paneer:

We need:

  • 25-30 bite size paneer cubes ( i am not sure about the weight of the paneer block i had, hence this measure)
  • 1 cup sour curds
  • 2 tbsp. milk
  • A pinch of asfoetida/hing
  • 1/4 tsp. black cumin/shah-jeera
  • 1 star-anise/badiyun-khatai
  • 1 small cinnamon stick/dalchini
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper/kali mirch powder
  • Salt to taste
  • A few strands of saffron
  • 1 tbsp. oil
In a deep, flat pan, heat the oil and pan-fry/toast the paneer cubes to light brown. Drain on a paper towel and set aside. Next, splutter hing and shah-jeera in the hot oil, followed by star-anise and cinnamon. Roast the spices till a mild aroma is released. It takes about a minute-take care not to burn the spices. Now add one cup water to the pan and bring it to boil. Add the toasted paneer cubes and cook for 5 minutes on high. Meanwhile, mix the black pepper powder and salt with curds and whisk it well. Reduce the flame and slowly add this mixture to the paneer while stirring (to avoid curdling). Simmer on low heat for another 10 mins. The gravy should thicken at this point. Switch of the flame. Dissolve 4-5 strands of saffron in 2tbsp. warm milk and mix well with the paneer. Top the dish with few more strands of saffron and cover and let rest for few minutes before serving. Goes very well with plain rice and a spicy side dish/pickles of your choice :). Tastes even better the next day.

Do not use too much saffron. Its a garam taseer (heat producing) spice. A few strands are more than enough to get the desired color and aroma. Kala jeera should also be used in suggested amounts, excess leads the dish to taste slightly bitter. I like that taste actually, and hence the excess in the picture :). But if you like it mellow, then stick to 1/4 tsp. kala-jeera.

Good show Richa and Pel, this indeed drew influence from Kashmiri cuisine :)

Here a few saffron flavored favorites from blogosphere: do check them out.

Zafraani zamodod and kheer (Anita)
Kesaria (Richa)
Kesari bhath (Ashakka)
Zafraani Pulav (Manasi)

Enjoy :).

Monday, October 1, 2007

Plantain-Palak sabzi :)

Huff-puff! I am finally here :-D. I had promised dear Mandira that i would be posting my entry for JFI-Banana over the weekend.....which just flew by ;). So, here i am, i my usual late-lateef avatar, posting a last minute entry for JFI, one of my favorite events. JFI celebrates one special ingredient each month and was envisaged by dear Indira from Mahanandi.

I love bananas as a fruit, they are just yummy! They help energize a tired mind, as they boost the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter. My favorite way of having bananas is as a chaat, with cut bananas, guavas, with some cayenne pepper, salt and lime juice thrown in to jazz it up :). Or as spicy banana raita. Or as such! I particularly love the lil' Yellaki bananas that we used to get in Bangalore. And as a vegetable, the plantain and raw bananas make my day as a part of Kalan, Undhiyu, Mocha ghanto and many more dishes :). Even the banana stem is edible and delicious. Read more here about bananas and plantains :).

My first experience of eating banana as a vegetable was really unique (kinda'). I was in fifth standard then, a lil' girl who would only think of school, playing and her cats, besides ofcourse food :-D. One of those days, the normal daily routine in our village came to halt, there was a curfew in the village.....for fifteen days, with just half an hour allowance time a day to buy essentials! No fresh vegetables and fruits would be in sight. Fortunately, we had a Kalpvriksha (as its been rightly referred to in ancient texts) planted in our haveli.....the banana tree came to our rescue, supplying us with the much needed freshness.....For those few days, we cooked and ate raw banana, enjoyed the ripe fruit and felt fortunate and blessed.....

I am pretty sure that the particular banana preparation that Mom made was more or less like arbi sabzi with gravy, somewhat like this. And indeed raw bananas and plantains work well like that, with or without eggplants. They also make yummy khatte kele ki sabzi, like here. Or a quick and delicious sabzi with Punjabi wadis. But all said and done, had it not been for the necessity driven consumption of raw bananas as a sabzi, i would not have discovered this goodness in life that early, certainly not in a Punju culinary way!
For JFI though, i wanted to make something i combined greens with raw plantain and gently spiced them. The result was delicious!

So here goes:

Plantain-palak sabzi:

We need:

  • 2 green plantains (cut into discs/circles)
  • 1 (9 oz.) bag baby spinach (chopped)
  • 1 heaped tsp. grated ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. Shah-jeera (black cumin)
  • A pinch of strong hing/asfoetida
  • A pinch of turmeric (optional)
  • Red chilli powder (to taste)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp. lime/lemon juice
  • 1-2 green chillies
  • A pinch of garam masala
  • 2 tbsp. oil
First, lets peel the plaintains and cut them into 1/2 cm. thick circles. In a pan, heat oil and splutter the shah-jeera. Add hing and let it release the aroma. Add the grated ginger and saute' for a minute or so. Add the plantain slices and stir fry till they change color into slightly pale/brown. This would help avoid the raw and slimy feel. Add the chopped spinach, salt and chilli powder. Stir and cover to cook on low heat till the plantain slices are tender. Add lime juice, 1-2 broken green chillies and a pinch of garam masala. Let rest for 5 minutes. Serve hot with chapatis or rice. Enjoy :).

Sending this with lots of love to dear Mandira. My apologies to you, sweetie, for the delay. Hope you'll enjoy it :).