Monday 5 May 2008

Bollywood Cooking

I am writing this straight from Bollywoodalaya, which translates to 'Abode of Bollywood'. Bombay/Mumbai, the commercial capital of India also happens to house most of the Film studios where Hindi films are made, along with the 'Stars' of these films. Although the city has a lot more to it than just the Bollywood connection, this is the most obvious thing one thinks of when talking about Bombay. I remember when I was shifting to Bombay, people told me that I was very lucky as I would now get to see & meet all the stars :) As if all of them were waiting just to meet me!

Coming back to the real purpose of this post, ever since the Monthly Mingle was announced, I have been thinking what should be my entry for this lovely event from Meeta at What's for lunch, honey? The theme for this month is Bollywood cooking. I thought about various dishes and dismissed them for one reason or the other. Then it struck me that nothing could be more 'Bollywood ish' than the good old Gajar ka Halwa and that too Maa ke haathon ka!

There is hardly any Hero who doesnt like it. In fact it would seem that it is one of the criteria if you want to become a hero in a bollywood potboiler(pun intended!). What? You dont like Gajar ka Halwa? Then how can you become a hero???

Every second Bollywood movie has the Hero rushing in bringing one of these good news
a) Maa mujhe naukri mil gayi maa!
b) Maa main paas ho gaya!
c) Maa tera beta aaj vakil/Inspector/Dr ban gaya!
And the 'Maa' would invariably reply saying " Accha ? Yeh toh bahut khushi ki baat hai. Moonh Haath dho le beta, aaj maine tere liye tera man pasand Gajar ka halwa banaya hai!"

But just as the face of Bollywood has changed a little with time, this Gajar ka Halwa also has a 'recipe mein twist'. I have used Dates along with carrots. This has been adapted from one of the recipes of Sanjeev Kapoor, Khana Khazana.

Added on 5th Feb '09 (Made without dates):

Picture 162

2 cups grated Carrots
1 cup chopped Dates
1 cup Sugar (This can be changed to suit your taste, keeping in my mind that Dates also add to the sweetness)
Cardomom powder
1/2 cup grated Khoya/Mawa (Dried thickened whole milk)
Dry fruits such as Almond, Pistachio, Cashewnut, raisins etc
1/4 cup milk
2 tblsp ghee

Heat the ghee in pan. Add the carrot and dates and roast them. Add the sugar and cardomom powder, mix properly and cook for sometime.
Add the nuts and the milk and cook for some more time. Now mix in the grated khoya. Stir properly and turn off the flame. Gasrnish with some more dry fruits.
This simple sounding recipe is as rich as it can be!
So 'Maa ke haath ka Gajar ka Halwa' is my entry to the Monthly Mingle 20.

Friday 2 May 2008

The Lone Spinach story...

I can not think of Palak(Spinach) individually except for maybe soups. If it is a curry it has to be paired with something - Paneer, Potato, Lentils, Corn, Chana and so on. That is why when my mother in law suggested that we make Palak bhaaji one afternoon, a few months back in India, my first question was Palak and....? I was surprised when she said nothing else, only palak, apart from the usual onions & Garlic.

I stood back and observed everything that she did, curious to the hilt as to how this Bhaji would turn out. Thinking to myself that if this is good (I still had doubts about using only palak!), I am going to make it a part of my kitchen when I go back to London. The problem I always had was to make sure I had the other ingredient (one of the above mentioned) if I wanted to make something out of spinach so this recipe was great for me!

Serves 2
200 gm Spinach, chopped
(I would have said 1 bunch but here I get packets of 'prepared' Spinach leaves )
1 medium sized Onion, chopped
2 cloves of Garlic, crushed
1 tsp Mustard seeds
1 tsp Cumin seeds
a pinch of Hing (Asafoetida)
1/2 tsp Haldi (turmeric powder)
2 tsp Goda Masala or any other curry masala
1/2 tsp Red Chili powder (Increase the qty if the curry masala doesnt have chili in it)
1/2 tsp Sugar

Heat oil in a kadai/pan. Add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Once the mustard seeds splutter add the hing and the crushed Garlic.

Stir in the chopped onions and saute till the onions are translucent. Now add the haldi. Toss in the chopped spinach and mix properly. Cook on slow flame till the Spinach starts leaving water & gets a little tender.

Now add the salt, goda masala and sugar. Stir and cook till the spinach is completely cooked, sprinkling some water in between, if needed. Add a dash of lime juice and serve hot with Chapati/Phulka.

Thats it! Nothing complicated or exotic but it was delicious. And imagine you can have a bhaaji ready in a jiffy with nothing else but Palak.

My mother in law likes my cooking and loves the fact that I am always trying out new dishes but I still have lots to learn from her!