Friday, September 24, 2010

Joy of giving week – Sep 26 to Oct 2, 2010

Did you ever experience something like this:

You walk down the same road to work every day. There are some school-going kids that meet you on the way and they pass an occasional, timid smile. Mere acquaintances. That’s what you are. Then one day you have a few candies on you and on a whim you offer it to the kids. 
The smile that you get in return!!
Lights up your whole day!!!
And that is the beginning of your smile-friend-ship!!! :)


I know because I’ve done that myself. Yes, that was a long time ago and that was in another place (Goa), but I can still feel that moment of joy.

Here’s another chance for all of us to experience this joy, to participate in this magic all across the nation.

We are celebrating “Joy of Giving week” from Sep 26 to Oct 2, this year. This is an event organized by NGO Goonj, which is based out of Sarita Vihar, New Delhi.

a voice,an effort                        
Contact information –
J- 93 Sarita Vihar,
New Delhi - 110076.
Tel. - 2697 2351, 4140-1216
E- Mail :-
Website or Map:


The idea here is to recycle or reuse anything lying around in our homes or offices or schools to help out people who do not have enough. What a noble thing to do!

They are mainly focusing on the following items which people can donate, deliver to various Goonj offices and collection centers, which they will then spread out to people across India.

Here are the items they recommend:

Large quantities of surplus/waste cotton & hosiery cloth for making sanitary napkins & undergarments for initiative- 'Not Just a piece of cloth'

Old newspapers & magazines- to be used in packing of sanitary napkins & also for raising resources to make GOONJ.. self sufficient.

CLOTHES- Old / New but in wearable condition - Woolens/ Sarees / Salwar Suits/ Kurta-Pajamas /Trousers /Shirts / children clothes / Bed sheets / Blankets

FOOTWEAR - Of all size, in pairs (if possible, left and right tied together)

UTENSILS - Old/ New- Pans, Plates, Bowls, Glasses, Tawa, Spoons & Ladles, Cooker, Cups, Tongs etc

STATIONERY - Old/new school bags, lunch boxes, water bottles, Pen, pencil, sharpener, eraser, scale etc.

PAPER - Newspapers, magazines, one side used paper.

DRY RATION - Pulses, Spices, sugar, tealeaf, rice etc.

CASH DONATIONS - For Communication, Collection camps, storage, sorting, packing, travel, Transportation and local distribution expenses. Cash donations can be made at the collection centers or you can send an account payee Cheque / Draft in the name of GOONJ to J-93, Sarita Vihar, New Delhi- 76 (All donations are tax exempted u/s- 80 G of IT act.)

TIME DONATIONS- VOLUNTEERS, who can spare a few hours to be with Goonj for door to door campaigns, and who can help in sorting, packing etc.

SPACE DONATIONS - GOONJ.. needs many more collection centers to ensure easy accessibility for everyone who wishes to make a donation. So if you can spare a corner in your house/office please inform them. Also check with your friends/relatives if they would allow the use of a small place in their premises as collection center.

Here is how you can participate as an individual or as an institution:

goonj participate

Come, let us join hands to give. Let us give to receive “The Joy Of Giving”!

Add a task to your weekend TODO list to collect and sort out stuff that you would like to give. Find your nearest location of Goonj collection center and go drop your stuff.

And don’t forget to come back here and let us know your achievements on this task! :)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Olya Khobryache Modak Recipe – Deep Fried Dumplings with Sweet Stuffing

It’s Ganesh Chaturthi today.
One of the most auspicious days where we welcome Lord Ganesh into our home with lots of pomp and show.
In Goa, Maharashtra and some other states on the west coast of India, this festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm.
Ganesh_Chaturthi 1
Ganesh is said to be the God of knowledge and wisdom. His very form is intended to inspire people and teach them ways to lead a happier life.
Ganesh Symbolism
Lord Ganesh is also famous for his love of modak – delicious little deep fried dumplings with sweet and juicy filling of coconut, jaggery and nuts.
ModakHere’s how you can make and enjoy these yourself!
For the filling:
- Grate one coconut and grind it coarsely. This should come out to be about 1 cup.
- Grate jaggery into small chunks. As for quantity, if the grated coconut comes out to be 1 cup, take about 3/4 cup of jaggery. This loosely works for most sweets including laddus. When you take 1 cup of the main ingredient, you can take about half or three fourth of the measure of sweetener. In our case we are using jaggery, you can substitute it with powdered sugar if you prefer that taste.
- Coarsely grind about half a cup of of assorted unsalted nuts. I used almonds, cashew, pistachios and some peanuts. Leave some rather large pieces intact for the lovely crunch.
- Take a handful of dry chana daal (Bengal gram daal)
- 2 tsps of white til (sesame)
- 2 tsp of khaskhas (poppy seeds)
- 1/2 tsp of ilaichi (cardamom) powder or you can use jaiphal (nutmeg) powder
- ghee about 1/2 tbsp
In a dry pan, roast chana daal, sesame and poppy seeds. Remove and keep aside. In the same pan, add some ghee. Once it melts, add coconut and jaggery. Keep stirring. Once jaggery melts, the color of coconut will change from white to golden brown. Now add roasted sesame, poppy seeds, nuts mixture, ilaichi powder and cook some more, stirring continuously.
Some households also add milk to this mixture. Have never tried that myself, though.
Take the cooked stuffing out of the pan and leave aside for cooling.

While it cools, knead your dough.
You’ll need
- Two cups wheat flour or maida (plain flour)
- 1/4 cup sooji (rawa / semolina)
- 1 tbsp ghee
- salt to taste and
- water as required
- Ghee or oil for deep drying
Knead together all ingredients making sure the dough is soft. Not too sticky, nor too dry.
Divide into lemon sized balls and roll each of them into a small sized chapati or poori.
chapati 1 
Now is a little tricky part. Take this poori on your palm and pinch the sides about 5 to 6 times. In the middle hollow add the stuffing you prepared above.
3 With a delicate hand, collect pinched edges and stick them together at the center.
4Take ghee or oil for deep frying into a pan and heat it. Once it is sufficiently hot, add prepared modaks, about 3-4 at a time and fry till they turn golden.
Never keep the modaks around before frying for a long time. The covering will start cracking if it gets dry. If you do need to leave aside for some reason, cover them with a clean damp cloth.
Offer these yummy golden smallies to Lord Ganesh and serve to all your family and friends with love.
Enjoy your Ganesh Chaturthi!
May Lord Ganesh bless you all!!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Daal Makhani (Red Kidney Beans in Onion-Tomato gravy)

My Bhabhi is an awesome cook. You taste her Daal Makhani and lick your fingers. You eat your stomach full and would still want some more.
Here’s her signature recipe. A must try…
daal makhani
Here’s what you’ll need:
  1. Rajma (Red kidney beans) – 1 cup
  2. Urad (Whole black gram) – 1/2 cup
  3. Cream – 1/2 cup
  4. Milk – 1/2 cup
  5. Onions – ground to a paste, 1/2 cup
  6. Tomato – pureed, 1 cup
  7. Jeera (Cumin seeds) – 1/4 tsp.
  8. Ginger garlic paste – 1 tsp.
  9. Mirch (Chilly) powder – to taste or about 1 tsp
  10. Dhania (Coriander) powder – 2 tsp
  11. Garam Masala powder – 2 tsp
  12. Oil – 1 tsp.
  13. Butter – 1/2 tsp.
  14. Paneer (cottage cheese) – grated, 1/4 cup
  15. Hara Dhania (cilantro / coriander leaves) – finely chopped for garnishing
  16. Water
  17. Salt to taste
Here’s how you make it:
Clean, wash and soak the whole of Urad and Rajma overnight. It is important to wash before you soak, so you can use the same water for cooking. This locks the taste and nutrients into this dish making it rich. Next day add some salt (plus some more water, if needed) and cook till the beans are soft.
Heat some oil in a pan. Add onion paste, ginger garlic paste and sauté till the raw uncooked smell is gone.
Add tomato puree, garam masala powder, jeera, dhania powder, mirch powder and sauté till oil begins to separate from edges of the pan.
Fold in the cream and keep stirring all the while.
Once it begins to simmer, add the cooked beans and milk. Let it cook nicely with occasional stirring.
Turn off the heat and let this dish stand for about an hour.
Just before serving, re-heat, add butter and grated paneer and chopped hara dhania for garnishing.
You can serve this with tandoor roti or tawa roti or naan or kulcha or bread or even plain boiled rice.
Add a touch of Punjabi pickle on the side and ‘balle balle’! Prepare to get raving compliments!!
To get an interesting twist, you can turn this curry thingy into a snack. Add some spicy potato noodles (namkeen), chopped cucumber (kheera) plus tomato plus onion. Team it with some toast or bread sticks and a nice hot cup of chai!!!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Batatyachi Kapa (shallow fried potato rings)

This is one of my brother's favorite dish. We always had a square meal at home. It was Rice, Daal (various lentil curries), Sabzi (Veggies) and Chhas (Curd / Yogurt), with a variety of pickles and/or papads. Sometimes we just got bored with it. Especially my brother who is not too fond of food that is not spicy or oily. So he would ask mom to make these tasty little potato rings instead of a veggie side dish. Typically on a rainy evening, this was what we all loved to munch on.

You can team this up with rice + daal or pulao or even make it as an evening snack with tea or eat it just like that with some ketchup / chutney. This has lot less oil compared to its deep fried cousin, so is healthier too.

batatyachi kapa verti You’ll need:
  • Potatoes – 4 to 5, washed and skinned
  • Semolina (or rice flour) – about 2 cups
  • Oil for shallow frying
  • Chilly powder to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • Water
  1. Chop potatoes in little round shapes and put them in a bowl of salted water. This will make sure the potato rings do absorb salt but do not turn brown. Let them soak for about 15-20 mins.
  2. Sieve together some semolina (sooji) or rice flour with salt and red chilly powder. Leave this mixture dry.
  3. Heat a skillet (tawa or fry pan) and coat it lightly with some oil.
  4. Pat the potato rings into the dry mixture of semolina (or rice flour) and arrange on the skillet.
  5. Add about two teaspoons of oil and cook till done.
You can substitute some other veggies like the sweet potatoes, raw banana or even eggplant instead of potatoes.

Enjoy hot!!!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Mugachya Gathi (Goan recipe for a spicy and healthy green-gram-sprouts curry)

This is another one from my mother's kitchen. With all the goodness of green gram sprouts (moong sprouts) and coconut gravy this is one of my favorite goan recipes.

My mom worked (and still does) really hard on getting the sprouts ready (
I'll share with you how she does it right in this post!), but in most big places like Mumbai / Delhi / Bangalore or in places where you do have good sabzi-mandis (vegetable markets), you'll get packets of sprouted moong. It's perfectly alright to use these if you can't do the whole procedure to take moong from hard dry to soft sprouted version.

Here's how mom does it.
Day 1. Wash about a cup of dry moong in cold water, rinse and soak overnight.
Day 2. During the day, let the soaked moong rest on a strainer so all the water gets drained. During the night soak them again.
Day 3. By now the moong must have sprouted nicely. Wash them well so the green cover gets removed.
This is how it is done in the original recipe. For those of you who are more health conscious and do not want to lose out on the fiber that the green cover provides, I think you can just leave it there. No harm.

Or simply go to the vegetable store and buy a packet of sprouted moong instead.

So, ingredient wise you need to have
1. Two cups of sprouted green gram (moong)
2. Green chillies - 2
3. Asafetida (Hing) - 2-3 pinches. This is the main flavoring agent here. So, use the best quality one you have. Mom took special
Shankar Chhap Hing with its whole chunks of Asafetida and ground it freshly instead of using the ready-made powder. Again, your call.
4. Coconut - grated and ground with some water to the consistency of wet chutney. About 1/2 a cup.
5. Garam masala - 1/4 tsp.
6. Jaggery (Gud / GuL) - little less than 1 tsp
7. Tamarind pulp - little less than 1/4 cup
8. Red chilly powder - to taste
9. Haldi - 1/4 tsp.
10. Salt to taste

First cook moong with pieces of green chillies and asafetida and haldi. Do not pressure cook over medium flame stirring occasionally. The moong should not become soggy.
Once it is almost cooked add ground coconut, garam masala, jaggery, tamarind pulp, red chilly powder and salt.
Let simmer and then turn the heat off.
mogachya gathi 250
You can eat it just like that with fresh bread or steamed rice with some pickle as a side.


Just before serving, you can put some tadka (spluttering) on it. To do this, simply heat a tsp of oil, add mustard seeds and curry leaves. Let splutter and add it over the moong curry.


This is something I do to turn most curries into a quick snack ;) Take some curry in a bowl. Add whatever chips / namkeen / even pretzels crushed with your hands. Add some chopped cilantro and tomato pieces. Basically add some crunchiness and some un-cooked-ness (
you get it, right?) to it. Mix well. Gobble!

I am sending this entry off to two events planned by two fellow foodie bloggers
Iftar Moment Hijri 1431
iftarevent2 Lets sprout

Monday, July 19, 2010

Tasty weaning food ideas for new eaters

My second little Princess Akshara is 5 months old now. Her doc says it’s time to introduce semi-solid food for her. Here are some of the varieties of weaning foods I plan to try out. You can also choose to check these out… :)
diya eating
Week 1: Our Indian cooking is rarely complete without spices. Let your baby feel the flavor of being born in India. :) At the same time be careful not to over do things. Start with mostly starchy things, sweet or with little salt. You can introduce her to some flavors like cardamom (ilaichi) or cumin (jeera). Just a tiny miny pinch of it, so she knows what it’s like ;)
  • Sooji kheer (semolina porridge): Simply heat 1/4 spoon of ghee(or butter) in a pan and roast a spoonful of sooji(semolina) with it. Add water, a pinch of ilaichi powder (cardamom) and sugar to taste.

    • Cardamom is a cooling spice and is very good for fighting the heat. (Oh, Delhi summers!!!)
    • If the place where you live has cold climate, you can try a tiny string of kesar (saffron). This is a warm spice and is also thought to be very good for skin and complexion.
    • I am avoiding milk for now. Since my baby has had formula feed before and not the regular milk. So I am playing safe. For those of you who are already used to giving cow’s / buffalo’s milk to babies can even add milk to the kheer.
  • Semi-solid Rice: Clean and grind some rice to the consistency of sooji . Do not add water. Store it dry. Use this just like sooji above.

    • If you wish to make a salty version, substitute salt for sugar, cumin  or black pepper for cardamom and avoid milk. You can cool it a little and add some curd (dahi) or butter-milk (chhanch).
2. Second and third week onwards you can start introducing fruits and veggies.  Here are some varieties:
  • Mashed banana. Simple.
  • Mashed boiled potato with slight salt and just a touch of red chilly powder.
Make the soft semi-solid rice as above but add a veggie piece to it. Carrot or beat root or few peas would be good choices. Even a leaf of spinach or some other leafy veg can go in.
Once fully cooked you can either mash the veg piece or simply remove it out. The rice would have absorbed most of the nutrition from it.
  • If you are a non-vegetarian you can try adding a piece of some meat or fish. (Warning: Since I am a vegetarian myself I cannot personally vouch for this tip. Do consult your baby’s doctor.)
3. Fourth week onwards start giving same food that you eat at home. To make things easier for your baby. do continue with at least one of the recipes from above. Some new things you can introduce
  • Daal + Rice. Just the way we elders eat. But the pieces of tomato etc mashed well or ground in a mixer.
  • Mashed mango pulp. Or apple.
  • Soup: Simply cook few pieces of veggies together. Either strain the stew or purée when fully done. In a pan heat some butter, add a pinch of black pepper powder, salt and the stew. Bring it to one boil. Cool it sufficiently and let your baby savor it.

Happy food-times to you and your little bundle of joy. :)

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Friday, July 16, 2010

Marathi “Fast” food

Indian culture is famous for celebrations, festivals, poojas and vrats. Like we have “Karwachauth” in north India, where a married woman will pray for the long life of her husband, down in Maharashtra and Goa we have several such festivals which are meant for married couples. 

Some sacred days where you forget everyday differences and look forward to your togetherness as a blessing from heaven. Some rituals where you put your hands together and pray for your loved one’s happiness.

goa week 2-3
I was at my mom’s place last month (yeah, Goa!!!) and on 25th June we celebrated Vat Savitri vrat – one such festival where married women will worship the banyan tree and ask blessings for their husband’s long life. (Wanna know the story? Go here. :))

This is also a day for fasting. And obviously for making “fast” food (and you thought I was talking about vada-pao? :P)

When I was a kid, I looked forward to such days, when mom would make Sabudanyachi Khichadi (Tapioca Pulao). Here’s her recipe for this yummy snack or main course.

Soak a cup full of sabudana (tapioca) for 30 minutes. Drain excess water and set aside for a few hours. (*** This dish can turn powdery for lack of water or rubbery for excess of water. This soaking, draining and setting aside is the deciding step that avoids such failures and gives you the perfect round little pearls of tapioca. Hush now… That’s a secret! :) ***)

Chop some potatoes and green chilly. Handful of green coriander leaves (hara dhania) is also welcome, but if you do not eat it during a fast, it’s ok to leave it out too.

Roast few peanuts, remove skins and grind to a very coarse powder. Just a nice little whooosh of your grinder should be sufficient. You should feel the crunch of nuts while you eat khichadi.

Grate some coconut, if you like it. Although khichadi tastes great “with” coconut, it’s not a strict must-have per se.

In a bowl add together the tapioca, ground peanuts, coconut and chopped green coriander. Mix with salt to taste and about 1/4 tsp of sugar.

All set? Now add ghee to a hot pan. You’ll need more than your usual amount of ghee, because this dish does not have any water in it while cooking. Add some jeera (cumin seeds to it). Once they splutter, add the potato pieces and roast well. Cover and leave for 2-3 min if needed. Add green chilly pieces when potato pieces are done nicely. Add the tapioca mixture prepared above and stir for 5-7 minutes. Take care not to burn the mixture.

Cover and leave for 2 minutes.

pix 015

Serve hot with a slice of lemon and tons of love.