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Tag Archives: chutneys/dips/podi/preserves

Fiery Tomato Chutney Recipe

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Friends….. I make them quite easily…. And mostly… they stay for life…. Collected and cherished like life’s most precious experiences…..some of my closest friends are the ones I made in school….. later, in college, in the hostel and each of the firms I worked for I met some of the most wonderful people I know….. sometimes I don’t talk to them for years and months, yet they remain closest to your heart….counted as those I can call upon in my hour of need…..sometimes I talk to them and spend so much time together, that I cant make out if I picked up their habits and mannerisms or vice versa……some I love working with because they are just so damn good at their work…and there’s so much to learn…. Some I share common interests with… with some I just cant explain how or why the relationship sticks…..some with whom I shared good times and moved on…. Some I rediscover after a period of time…. Short or long…. Some I cant relate to anymore….. some I wish I still had in my life….. Sometimes friendships humble you…..Each one has taught me something…. Knowingly or otherwise….. I know I will always be grateful for this…. For what they add to my life….

fierytomatochutney

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine, who shall be called B, spent the weekend with me….Someone who’s trying to find her spot under the Sun…. To be the best she can…. To better herself and all that she aspires for each day….I’ve seen her change…. Over the 6 yrs now that we’ve known each other…. Sometimes I didn’t quite understand what she was trying to do, and where she was trying to go….because in her pursuit of whatever it is she is chasing, she needed time to tame her own demons….

It’s a difficult thing to know that you may be a casualty along the way….we take ourselves far too seriously to recognize this….and sometimes in anger and sometimes to poke at her I would shoot barbs…. I came to realize, that if I put a premium on myself, I would lose her friendship…..that i should recognise what was on offer, and take it or leave it….. that not all relationships can be the same…. that not all people are the same…. and this is why we pursue them the way we do…atleast for me…. She’s one of the most giving people I have seen….. she gives of herself freely that sometimes you wonder what’s left for her…. One moment this hardnosed woman of the world, and all at once a child….if I have to put it down to one word, ENDEARING it will have to be ….

tomatochutney

Why am I writing all this?? Because I have a story to tell…. This blog isnt all about food….if you know me, you know everything comes with a story…. Some more elaborate than the other…. A couple of years earlier, at B’s home, we had this amazing tomato chutney her mother made…. hot as hell, we lapped it up as much as we reached out for the tissues to blow our noses…. It was pretty awesome…. The heat in the chutney is as much a part of it as its awesome flavour…..having tasted it once, B didn’t hear the end of it…. I hounded her for the recipe…. Two years later, her hubby landed up bearing a box full of it…. her mom was in town, and after all this time, she remembered and got her to make some for us…. It was 5 days of bliss….. idlies, dosais, rice, roti and sandwiches…. All were slathered by this drool inducing chutney….

The weekend she spent with us, she made it for me …. Surviving all the questions I threw at her…. The end product was as before…. Again it didn’t survive a photosession….. I tried my hand at it this weekend….its never easy trying to remake something that’s near perfect…. Again I was blown away with the results….

How do you explain tangy fiery marriage? A flavour so unique, that you keep dipping your finger into it and licking at it while transferring it to a storage box? That even though it spits fire on your tongue, you cant have enough of it?? I realized, this was so much like B….. No matter that you weren’t able to compartmentalize it correctly, you loved it anyway!! Thanks sweety!! I know for sure, that no matter where life takes us, there will always be things that remind me of you.

this is my entry to Suganya’s Vegan Ventures

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Beerakaya Tholu Pachadi – Ridge Gourd Peel Chutney Recipe

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Give me a traditional south indian thali meal, and I will surely overdose on steaming hot rice with ghee and pachadi or/and chutney podi…..this is a given. I once took a visiting friend and my mother to a famous typical Andhra style restaurant in hyderabad, amma sat open mouthed as I heaped rice with ghee and gongura pachadi onto my banana leaf, not once or twice, but three times…..i obviously had a tough time reconciling with how much I ate for the next few weeks!! But my mother always recalls that incident whenever we swap stories of excesses….she’s never going to let me forget!!

A short walk away from my last work place, there was a modest Mess that served up terrific Andhra style meals…..we’d look forward to our monthly visits there and dread the amount of food we’d collectively eat….again for me, the pachadi would decide how miserable I felt for the rest of the day. We obviously quickly learnt to indulge in this on a day when our group had a relatively lesser workload, because it was humanly impossible not to feel like a beached whale once we were done eating.

Though chutneys and pachadis or a vegetable based relish of some kind is a must at most indian traditional meals, I haven’t been very inquisitive with them. Somewhere stuck in my head is the feeling that these are extremely difficult to make items. You need to be able to get the right blend of all the spices and delicately balance all the flavours. While I take my baby steps in pachadi making, this feeling is reinforced…that you need to balance everything…although I am now somewhat beginning to discover that they aren’t very difficult if you learn to use your tastebuds as a guide!!

Beerakaya  tholu pachadi is made by using the peels of the ridge gourd. Said to be rich in iron content, it’s a good way of using a part of the vegetable that would otherwise get binned. We eat ridge gourd quite a lot when its available (I wonder why I haven’t posted about it here yet!!) and each time I peeled the skin off I wondered when I would get down to grinding it to a chutney….while chatting with Srivalli one day she sent me a link to the one she had on her blog and a few days later, I made my version of it. while I try my best to follow a recipe, I cant but help make modifications. Sometimes because I don’t have the same ingredients, but more likely because I cant recall the exact recipe (I try and write them down in my big black book!!)and then resort to improvise .

This pachadi is great with steaming hot rice with ghee (clarified butter), dosas, idlies and even as a sandwich spread. The flavours are subtle and makes it very difficult to stop licking it off your fingers!!

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Sesame & Groundnut Chutney Powder Recipe

I am increasingly getting addicted to podis…in the last 4 months I have never made the same podi twice. I simply cannot stick to the same proportions even if I manage the same ingredients….and this in a way is a good thing…..considering the convenience of having a podi on hand to spice up idlies, dosas, buttered toast or steaming hot rice…….….

I am not a “little by little” person…I am more of a “clean sweep” kind of gal…so when I decide I am going to stand over the kitchen stove to dry roast and powder something, I do it so it lasts atleast 6 weeks…..this works for me cos I can’t see myself repeating the same activity too soon …..so stand and dry roast I will…..but my way….. Most podis will stay fresh for atleast a month…..initially I got half yearly supplies from my MIL and it stayed fresh and fine for several months……anything oily will turn stale…so refrigerate any podi which contains dry coconut, sesame seeds, groundnuts etc if storing for more than 3-4 weeks……

A few months ago I received a lovely package with some fabulous sesame chutney powder from Nandita…we polished it off in record time but I saved the little container it came in for the sticker that had the ingredients printed on it. It was in Marathi, which is similar to hindi I was able to make out what they were (more or less) and I tried to make something similar.

This is my entry to Roma’s Long Live the Shelf event….. hop over to see some time and nerve savers!!

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Jamming Around ~ Peache and Plum Jams with Star Anise Recipe

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so this is part three of the posts on jams that have made their way into my kitchen……….all within a span of a few weeks…but have taken me a long time to post…..

Aunty E who you all read about here was operated upon for at cataract and I went to see her…she is doing well and recovering and the doctor was delighted that she cooperated so well…..she lives quite far from where I do, and so it was quite a trek…but so worth it!!

On my way back home, I picked up some peaches and cherries…I had no idea what I would do with them….because most fruit is eaten as it is at my place, and very little is done with the fruit….we demolished the whole box of cherries in a couple of days and k didn’t quite know how to handle the peaches……amma used to poach them in a sugar syrup mildly spiced with cinnamon and cloves and I pondered over that….but we as kids had it with fresh cream or custard…..now that is an indulgence I cannot afford……also, it was obvious that the peaches made a long and arduous journey to actually get to me, so while some of them were seriously in need of some life support, a few others were still a bit unripe….and so I decided to make an easy jam / preserve of the peaches……..

I’d read a column/ book by Karen Anand book some time ago where she advises that cut fruit sprinkled with sugar and left overnight in the fridge gave better flavour to the jam / preserve…..since I had a lot on my hands the day I skinned and chopped the peaches, this suited me just fine…..only I left it in the fridge for two days amidst bouts of panic that they would perish!! I added 1 cup of chopped plums to the 4 cups of peaches and made this entirely in the microwave….though it took longer than the time it was supposed to take, it was totally fuss free and the only aberration was that some of the syrup fell onto the plate inside the microwave oven, which had to be washed clean…….the jam is pretty awesome……even if i say so myself!! With the small chunks of fruit still intact….the colour is glorious and I am so happy to be eating a non commercial variety of jam…… btw, k and I aren’t really hot on jam…so I have no idea what I am going to do with a bottle full of this stuff…..maybe try some as a dessert topping or in baking etc……

this is my entry to sunitha’s Think spice event which turns one….no guessing that Star Anise is my absolutely favourite spice!!

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Plum Jam Recipe

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Jam for me is a trip down memory lane……my mother’s annual plum jam was a much awaited event….she’d spend a total of three days each year…sourcing the best plums, washing and drying them, sorting, slicing and finally cooking them to the ribbon stage….. bottling it up and then presenting a bottle to anyone who evinced interest….

at least that’s how I think it started…..because for as long as I remember, there was always a pretty long recipients list…….I am not a very jam friendly person…..and as a totally confused kid, thought it was way better to eat store bought jam…..I couldn’t understand why amma couldn’t make hers as smooth or sweet as what kissan made…..neither could I understand why she insisted on keeping some of it pulpy…..I remember mostly reacting to amma’s jam with a “yuck”…….funny….. because now I can give an arm and a leg for it……life has a way of reminding you how silly you were…..but mostly I am grateful for it!! I still am not big on jams…..I prefer it with pancakes, on desserts or simply mixed into some yogurt to satiate the sweet tooth…..


This was a labour of love that my mother indulged in once a year…..and regardless of how much people praised her and the result, and asked her to go commercial, she would say that all she wanted to do was make her signature plum jam once a year for her kids and she was satisfied…..for the last few years, due to various reasons the jam wasn’t being made, and tho I am not huge on jams and preserves, I was missing amma’s jam….so this year I decided to make some of it for myself….and between several panic stricken phone calls and extreme “I am missing you mommy”, I managed to make the jam….

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The Year That Was ~ 2007 ~ A Roundup of Recipes

Today’s the last day of this fabulous year….and tho I hate to see it go; I am filled with hope for the year that 2008 will be…. In many ways, 2007 has been a defining year for me…. If you read my other blog you will know that there have been many firsts for me this year…..things that I gingerly took a step forward to and they firmly became some of the best things I ever did…… this blog for instance…..for much time I was a lurker and trawler of food blogs and looked at them with amazement and awe….and then with one uncertain step I plunged into it…..not knowing if I would be read at all…yet the want to be part of this celebration of all things food was too strong for me to ignore….. I watch with amazement as the modest numbers go up on my stats counter…. More than anything, I am happy with the people I have met and the familiar comfort I feel when I know I am part of this tribe that celebrates food just like I do….the people I have learnt so much from, who’s recipes I have tried with much success, today I am so much more sensitive to what I eat, cook and try out…I am more observant of ingredients and flavors and most of all am willing to try out anything atleast once….of course K accuses me of not cooking for him but for the blog these days…. but then I guess all spouses of food bloggers suffer from the same malaise…..

Apart from a look back and nostalgia, Nupur called out for the best of 2007….. so here it is…..with less than 50 posts and almost those many recipes …..my top ten recipes of the year….these aren’t in any particular order….they’ve graced my blog, table and parties…. Its great to be able to revisit them and share them with you…..

Chocolate Truffles

Chocolate Truffles

Hand Made Chocolates

Hand Made Chocolates

Truffles and homemade chocolate

For the contribution they have made to my life this year, truffles and homemade chocolates they deserve pride of place on this list….chocolates in a way liberated me…from the shackles of identity, possible depression and self belief….they made me do something I loved and enjoyed, brought me a lot of success….much more than I’d have hoped for and even put me on tv!! Chocolates made me choose what I wanted to do…. Enjoy what I chose and reveled in the success that was 100% my own…..they have made me believe in a lot of things I never would have thought possible and put the crown on this fabulous year that 2007 has been for me personally……..

Date and Fig Ravioli

Date and Fig Ravioli

Date and fig ravioli

This one was truly a masterpiece…it is a show stopper and became so popular that I have already made it 3 times…. The light melt in your mouth crust….The ever so slightly sweet filling, the flavours and textures that mingle and make you savour it…. Ravioli…I am glad we met and made acquaintance….the best part is that filling can be varied both sweet and savoury…

Eggless Butter Cookies

Eggless Butter Cookies

Tarts and biscuits

For the sheer simplicity of ingredients and procedure, cookies and tarts make it to my list…again the tarts can be filled with a variety of things both savoury and sweet….makes for a simple yet well appreciated home made gift….it made me believe I can bake much more than bricks!!

Yeasted Hot Cross Buns

Yeasted Hot Cross Buns

Buns

This was a second attempt and met with much success…infact I ate a piece out of each of the 12 buns I baked just to make sure they really turned out as good as they looked…. It was my first attempt at bread of any kind and savoury baking….filled the house with that warm delicious smell that only bread can bring

Whole Wheat Apple Muffins

Whole Wheat Apple Muffins

Muffins

Whole wheat and apple…with very little butter and full of wholesome goodness….these little ones were a big hit…and called for repeats….

Eggless Chocolate Pinwheels

Eggless Chocolate Pinwheels

Chocolate (Eggless) Pinwheel Cookies

Simplicity is the key that I look for in baking particularly because I am a novice baker….and I feel less nervous tackling cookies rather than cakes….. so chocolate pinwheels takes pride of place because it qualifies on the simplicity factor…but fools you with its beauty…. This is a recipe you can make dough out of and freeze till you are ready to bake…..

Idiappam and Ishtu

Idiappam and Ishtu

Idiappam and stew

Making this was so much like starting the blog…you wacth from afar with awe and respect…then take the plunge and never believe you are going to come into your own…. But you do…and it always surprises you!! Idiappam and stew has been like that for me… its simplicity bowls me over…perfect comfort food, and fix for all seasons

Hara Bhara Kabab

Hara Bhara Kabab

Beetroot Raw Banana Cutlet

Beetroot and Raw Banana Cutlets

All things kababish!!

the beetroot and hara bhara versions of what I dish out with alarming regularity are just a couple of ways to bring nutrition to the table…who can refuse a cutlet when offered? I haven’t encountered anyone till date who does…. Imagine nutrition and taste in one package….

Spice Powders

Spice Powders

Dynamite heaps

spice powders…or chutney podis make it to the list due to their sheer versatility…. They can spice up happenings like none other….idlies, dosas, steaming hot rice, bread and sprinkled on veggies too…..they are time savers and deliver a substantial spice kick

Molagootal

Molagootal

Molagootan

One of the simplest dishes to make and soothing on the palette and the digestive system….from my training under MIL dishes, this one takes the cake for simplicity, appeal and wholesome goodness….

As I went through the picture files, I have realized that I could have put up a much better show with all that I hoarded….so to more frequent and better posts in the new year then!! As I look back on the year of food blogging, I am so happy with finding and being a part of this world…. To meet so many people with similar interests….to be able to find almost any recipe that you are looking for…. With step by step instructions and pictures of real food…. to know that you are one with a tribe of people who don’t think it is weird to discuss kitchen ingredients….to see a little bit of everyones life at the table….peeking into personalities and homes and lives….we are interwoven in the strongest bonds of all….food…..of blog events, deadlines and celebrations!! Of not being able to wait till you post…taking endless pictures, editing and agonizing over them….of the reassurance in the form of comments and feedback….it brings joy known only to a blogger….

I also learnt so much about healthy vegetarian cooking…. That it doesn’t have to be drowning in oil and masala to tickle your tongue….

I learnt that tho this is part of my life for long time now….i need to let go of an all consuming obsession…. Infact in a surprising manner, this blog has helped me put so many things into perspective…and because its out there for the world to see….it has meant a deeper commitment to many of the decisions that I have made….

So in the new year, I hope to explore much more than I thought I would….to cook better, wholesome and innovative meals….to experience once again the joy of creating a meal or a dish … to eat healthier….

A big thank you to all my friends, family …..thanks for being there and for being you…

A warm hug and a huge thank you to you – my readers …………. thanks for coming back to Escapades…for holding my hand through these first few steps…..for all the feedback and encouragement, I am grateful….truly and honestly…..for appreciating all that I have attempted…. escapades has a little bit of me everywhere….and if there is something in particular you’d like to see here, please do let me know….

Finally….to K…my soulmate…. Who painstakingly sat through my bouts of cooking, serving, clicking, surfing, writing and posting…who became my unofficial photographer just to make things easier for me…. Who has valiantly tried to answer the barrage of most inane questions like the 3rd degree…. For being the taster, appreciator of all my culinary escapades…. You know what I want to say to you….

Have a great end to this year everyone……and have a fabulous new year, filled with all that you truly want….may we find answers to the questions we want to ask…and happiness in all that we do…. Have a wonderful new year!!

Cheers!!

To the stars in the sky and our dreams!!

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