Two Chutneys – Onion & Coconut

Onion Chutney

  • 2 big onions, big dice
  • 2 dried chillis (spicy)
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh ginger, skinned and rough chopped
  • 1 small tomato, diced
  • Small piece of white meat of fresh coconut
  • Pinch salt

Instructions

  • Saute all ingredients for 10 minutes, until softened.
  • Put ingredients into food processor/blender and grind until relatively smooth, but small chunks might remain.

Coconut Chutney

  • 50 gm small chana dal
  • 1 small piece white meat of fresh coconut
  • Few coriander leaves
  • 1 fresh green chilli
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 tsp. oil
  • Pinch mustard seeds
  • 5 fresh curry leaves

Instructions

  • Mix the ingredients (chana dal, coconut, coriander, geen chilli and salt) in a bowl and then put into a food processor/blender and grind.
  • Add water (add 1 tbs. at a time) to get right consistency, which should be not too liquid
  • Saute in a little oil (1 tsp.) the mustard seeds and curry leaves, about 2 minutes, until lightly cooked.
  • Put mustard seeds and curry leaf oil on top of chutney for flavor.

Makes 1 cup each

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Okra and Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 4 tbs. oil, split
  • 1/4 kilo (about 1/2 pound) okra or lady fingers, as they are known in India, sliced into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1 potato, diced
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • Pinch jeera powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Instructions

  • Heat saute pan without oil.
  • Once hot add 2 tbs. oil and continue heating.
  • Add lady fingers and cook until browned and not gummy, about 5 minutes.
  • Remove lady fingers from pan and put in bowl.
  • Add 2 tbs. oil to same pan and heat.
  • Add potato and  cook until soft, about 10 minutes.
  • Add lady fingers back into pan with potatoes and stir.
  • Add spices, mix and serve.

Makes 1 1/2 cups

Vegetable Fried Rice with Prawns

Just because I haven’t posted recently doesn’t mean we aren’t eating!

Ingredients

  • 1 c. white rice
  • 3 tbs. oil
  • 1/2 c. beans, chopped
  • 1/2 c. scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 c. cauliflower, chopped
  • 1/2 c. carrots, chopped
  • 1/2 c. green peppers, chopped
  • 1/2 lb. prawns
  • 1 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. green chili sauce
  • 1 tsp. tomato sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground pepper

Instructions

  • Heat 1 tsp. oil in pressure cooker and then add rice and two cups of water.  Close pressure cook and cook on medium heat for 3-4 pressure pops.
  • Let pressure cooker cool.
  • Heat large pan with oil.
  • Add all the chopped vegetables and saute about five minutes or until vegetables have softened.
  • Add prawns, soy sauce, green chili sauce, tomato sauce, salt and pepper and cook until prawns are just done.
  • Add prawns and vegetables to rice.  Mix and serve.

Makes 4 cups

Utensils in an Indian Kitchen

When we first moved to India we went shopping for kitchen things.  As with every country there are special foods and the pots and utensils have been made to suit the cuisine. You’ll recognize most of these items and will find in future posts how (and why) they are used.

  • Saute pot

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  • Pressure cooker

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Observation: I just learned watching Annette cook that when using a pressure cooker you use the number of times the pressure valve (at the top) pops as a unit of time measurement. Rice cooks in 3-4 pops, potatoes 3 pops, etc.  And pressure cookers while sounding scary (they are just blowing off steam – literally!) are truly amazing at speeding up cooking times!

  • Blender (with small chutney sized bowl)

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  • Marble rolling board and pin

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You can see the size of this relative to my foot (nice nail polish, right?!).  It is small, but quite heavy and cool so the perfect spot to roll the dough.

  • Chapati pan (not edges) and flat wooden spatula
  • Dosa pan (with edges)

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  • Oil pot (this is pretty small, probably holds 1 cup and has a little ladle in it)

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  • Other special spoons – the ones on the left and center are general use and the spoon on the right for making dosas since it is more like a ladle, but flatter

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  • Metal bowls and covers – so simple and so useful but used for food mixing and storage

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Scrambled Eggs with Onions and Tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 2 – 3 tbs. oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/8 tsp. tumeric powder
  • 2 small tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 eggs

Instructions

  • Heat oil in saute pan
  • Add chopped onion, chili powder, tumeric, tomatoes and salt and cook for 10-15 minutes until very soft.
  • Add eggs and mix vigorously to scramble them so there are no big pieces of yolk or egg whites.
  • Cook for a few minutes until eggs are cooked through.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

Observation: Tumeric is primarily used for coloring and to kills strong odors, in this case eggs!

Chana

Ingredients

  • 1 small onion, rough chopped
  • 1 small tomato, rough chopped
  • 1 heaping tsp. garlic paste (chopped)
  • 1 tsp. coriander powder
  • Pinch tumeric
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 3-4 tsp. coconut milk
  • 2 tsp. fresh coriander leaves
  • 1 c. chana beans, soak for 3 hours in water (chickpeas!)
  • Pinch mustard seed
  • 6 fresh curry leaves
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Instructions

  • Blend onion, tomato, garlic paste, coriander powder, tumeric, chili powder, coconut milk and fresh coriander leaves until smooth
  • Heat pressure cooker base
  • Add 3 – 4 tsp. oil after cooker is heated
  • Continue to heat oil for a few minutes
  • Add pinch mustard seeds to oil, cook for 30 seconds
  • Add fresh curry leaves and heat for a minute
  • Add onion and tomato blended mixture, stir together and cook for five minutes on medium-high heat.
  • Add 1/4 c. water to blender to get rest of sauce out and add water mixture to cooker.
  • Add drained chana beans and salt.
  • Mix and make sure the mixture isn’t too thick.  Add additional water to right consistency.
  • Close pressure cooker and cook on medium heat about 15 minutes, but really by the number of pressure releases.  Every time the top pops it is a unit of cooking time.  So this dish requires 3 – 4 pressure releases before the dish is done.  DO NOT OPEN THE PRESSURE COOKER IN THE MIDDLE!

Makes about 2 cups

 

Methi Paratha

Ingredients

  • 2 tbs. oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 handful methi leaves (Fenugreek) soaked in water to clean
  • 2 1/4 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. jeera powder (Roasted Cumin powder)

Instructions

  • Heat oil in saute pan
  • Add chopped onion and saute for about 2 minutes until cooked
  • Take methi leaves from water and squeeze out liquid, add to oil and onions
  • Cook for a few more minutes until methi leaves are wilted
  • Add mixture to flour and add salt and jeera powder.  Hand mix a bit to distribute ingredients evenly.
  • Add about 1/4 c. of water slowly and knead dough until it holds together, but isn’t sticky.
  • Cover and let sit.  The dough won’t rise, but you want to make the parathas last so they are warm!
  • When you are ready to eat, break the dough into 6-7 evenly sized balls and roll each out on a cool surface using extra flour to prevent sticking.
  • Heat the chapati pan well (about 5 minutes) on a medium-high heat.
  • Add the parathas one at a time and cook for a few minutes on each side, flipping at least three times (so each side is cooked twice).  When you first put the paratha on the pan add a little oil to the side that is up and spread it around.  Do the same when you flip the first time to the first side that cooked.  (Did that make sense?!)
  • Flip using a flat spatula.
  • Cook until both sides have brown spots.
  • You’ll find that later cooked parathas will cook faster because the pan is hotter.
  • To keep parathas warm put them in tinfoil and continue cooking until all are ready.

Makes 6 – 7 methi parathas

What do we eat?

Amazingly enough after being here over two months we aren’t hankering for non-Indian food.  That doesn’t mean we don’t periodically go out and enjoy a bowl of pasta, but generally we are very, very happy eating Indian food every day.

I think this is because of the immense variety and wonderful flavors.  The spices are incredible (I’ll do a separate post on that!), the breads varied and we haven’t found eating vegetarian to be difficult.

Paneer provides the protein.  They call it cottage cheese here, but it is more sturdy in structure than our cottage cheese.  There are lots of ways to include paneer in your diet.

Because India is a poor country things are really available seasonally.  Right now we are in summer so the mangos are really starting to appear (they need a few rains to make them even sweeter), jackfruit, and other seasonal fruits like mash melons (looks like cantaloupe to me!) and watermelon.

Right now because of the mangos Annette is making mango lassis daily.  They haven’t been too hard to consume.  So this might be breakfast.

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For us lunch is usually leftovers from the night before.  Annette makes enough for Eric to pack a lunch box, or a modern day tiffin box and enjoy a great meal.  It makes it really easy, but by the time he gets home it is time for dinner so we eat early.

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Annette works 10am-4pm and leaves dinner for us each evening.  Here are some sample meals over the past few days.  My next post will show how these are made (including recipes!)

  • Meal 1 – Fried Eggplant, Green Gram Dal with Onions and Tomatoes, Vegetable Biryani, Paneer Masala, Cucumber Raita and Chapati

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  • Meal 2 – Methi Paratha, Scrambled Eggs with Onions and Tomatoes and Chana
  • Meal 3 – Vegetable Fried Rice with Prawns, Prawns with Spices and Okra with Potatoes
  • Meal 4 – Dosas with Potato, Onions and Coriander filling and Onion Chutney and Coconut Chutney

Most Indians actually enjoy a large breakfast and lunch with a small and late dinner, around 10pm.  The heat around dinner time makes it less pleasant to eat a heavy meal. Obviously we are still on an American clock!

 

Party at the Salls!

We hosted our first party last night and… had way too much food.  Everyone seemed to have fun though.  This was for a bunch of Eric’s managers and their spouses.  We know better for the next party in two weeks!

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Things I learned

  • It is really, really hard to get the florist to do something simple.  He wanted to spray the green leaves gold.

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  • When it is hot (even with A/C) people don’t eat that much.  Need to cut down on options.
  • When it is hot people drink more beer (duh!) and juices and less whisky.  I think Eric drank most of the whisky that was consumed.

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  • There weren’t that many mosquitos so maybe my many, many lemongrass candles and plugs worked.  And our outdoor porch worked really well.

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  • Annette and her kids were very helpful throughout the night.

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  • Our place works really well for a party!

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Making a House a Home

We moved into our new house last week and have been hard at work converting it from an empty space into a home.

It is a fun and funny thing to outfit an entirely new space.  Do you buy similar things to what you have at home? Do you branch out into new shapes and genres? New color palettes? How do you integrate India’s culture into the space you live in?

Most importantly, how do you make the house your own so you can find comfortable spots in which to curl up to read a book, to savor the outdoors, to eat your meals or look at mementos to remember family and friends?

26 CRESCENT PARK

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Our house is the floor below the top (it has the brown wood ceilings)

BEFORE

TODAY

Our Favorite Purchases (these divide the large space between the living room and the dining room)

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These pedestals are pretty solid (praying I don’t walk into one by accident) and the two of the three lanterns house vanilla candles waiting to be lit.

Entry Way

Living Room

Dining Room

Porch

This is definitely going to be a favorite place once I conquer my fear of mosquitos! Also there are porches off each bedroom and around the central living space.  Flower and vegetable post to come.

Kitchen

Master Bedroom

Note there are three other bedrooms, but they are awaiting our linens from the US so pictures to come!

Our house still needs many finishing touches, lots more color, pictures, etc., but it is shaping up nicely – and becoming our home.

Observation:  I’ve noticed that you can’t exactly count on stuff promised. It isn’t that people mean to mislead but that they want to pacify. And then they ignore. Perseverance pays off though!