Hello there !
This is nive.Author/web master of handful of joy.I am SAHM of two wonderful kiddos,wife of a Godly and very hardworking husband and above all the child of God,Christ is my savior.
If you are wondering about the title of this page,let me tell you,writing an ‘about’ page is quite a task,so I procrastinated and postponed it for long.’Kahani’ is hindi for ‘story‘.Say it like (k-ha-ni).
I have been always interested in food,who isn’t?Over the years,it became more than an interest,my passion to know more about what I am putting in my plate and what I am serving to my family everyday on the table.I have become more curious,conscious and attentive towards the journey food makes in order to end up in my mouth.Cultural aspect of the food attracts me.I find it very fascinating that how some food has so many different names and nationality though they shares very similar identities even though probably prepared very differently across the globe.
I am certainly not a picky eater.However like my mom always says,you eat first with your eyes, definitely plays the vital role in what I will try and what I will leave out if served on table in assortment.The word ‘hate‘ is too strong of a word for ‘food’ in my vocab.Being said that,some are my favs and some I would not try second time,unless of course I am left in deserted island with that one food or die !Only time I would turn down the food completely is if it is uncooked or too salty or charred and burnt beyond recognition or I am being served the meat I do not eat.I eat only chicken/turkey and very selective sea food,so that is what i cook.
I am not good in creating recipes in my kitchen out of blue,though I certainly try time to time !My food is deeply influenced by my Indian heritage,my mom’s cooking,place I grew up, moved around,visited, live and the food shows I watch of course !
I am not always good in copycat the recipe verbatim while cooking.I find the practice monotonous,limiting and not fun.So I often end up tweaking the original recipe,many times in order to improvise with what I have in pantry for the lack of original ingredient asked for and sometime just to take a chance and see what comes out of it.I am also averse to measuring and I think it is because I never saw my mom,grandma or anyone I know of growing up measuring while cooking everyday meal and yet they always served the best tasting food.Indians don’t measure in general,dare i say it.I have gotten better at eyeballing over the time.When I am not following someone’s recipe,I work in reverse order for the site
- I note down how much I added “approximately” in the notepad as i cook, just to give you some idea.So my recipes are not exact,there is a room left for your imagination:-)
After coming to US,I have gotten my hands on baking.I am not an avid baker and you can say it is partially because of my dislike for measuring.But since I enjoy those baked goodies so much that I do take a pain to measure it and follow the recipe verbatim ,quite contrary to cooking ha ! So my kitchen philosophy in short would be something like
Baking is science,i follow the empirical formula i am presented with but cooking is an art.Spices and condiments are the colors.There are hardly rules which can not be tinker with your imagination when it comes to cooking.So add little bit of your imagination in your ingredient list,just don’t forget the love.
Since I am not an original recipe creator most of the time,I would link to the site of that amazing recipe creator,if there is a site.Else,I will mention the source I took it from.I would love the reciprocation if there is anything which I made and if you liked.All food Pictures are taken by me,if its prepared by me.They are not great looking,cutting edge food photography standard astonishing pictures but they are all mine !
My family and friends share some of their food passion here too.You will get the glimpse of the food prepared where they are,different country and surrounding.
I would love the comments/feedbacks if you have anything to say about,please don’t hesitate.So keep browsing.You may find something you like to serve on your table !!!Thank you for stopping by.
Couple of days back,i bought spaghetti squash for the first time.It sat at my counter for couple of days.I was trying to decide what to do with it.I have never been a big squash fan.I decided to give this a try for its obvious healthy goodness,though i know this halwa seems like 180 degree turn from healthy road 🙂
So i asked my family if there is equivalent to it in India to find out how Indians would make it.My sister,Shuchi, and aunt Rita enlightened me with some very interesting facts.
- Indian use a cousin of spaghetti squash.Most popular ones are ‘opo squash’ and ‘Ash gourd”.It is not orange color and is not sweet.It is used in sweet and savory dishes alike.If you ever go to India to see ‘Taj Mahal’,you must taste “Agra Petha”. Agra is a name of a city Taj Mahal is in and “Petha” is sweet dessert made out of ‘Ash gourd.Very very popular dessert.
- Sweet version of Indian squash, which i know only the local dialect name of,’Kohra’, resembles the Halloween pumpkin.
- My sister said,in South India,version of orange and white squash has significant use in Hindu worship.It is often broken and kept or hung outside the main door post.
- Halwa is very common Indian dessert which is made using sugar,ghee,cream or milk.It has a thick pudding consistency. There are many different fruits,vegetable,grains and lentils which can be used to make halwa. Some take longer and some are quick.
Now the moment of taste truth : Nonone in my family liked it except me.It is very different then any dessert they have tasted.I had fully anticipated this.I ate the whole thing and wished i made it more Yes,it is that good i would say,even if it anything which my American family taste buds is used to.
Weather around here changes frequently this time of the year.You wake up with cold morning, you put on your warm jackets before you leave the house and you are hitting 70F in the afternoon and wondering why did you dress up like that?
So on one such day,i made minestrone meatball soup.Is this the first time you are hearing the word ‘minestrone’?I was curious to know when i heard this a while back,so here it is
- ‘Minestrone’ means soup in Italian,made with pasta and vegetables and touch of herbs.
- I used Orecchiette for pasta.It means “Little ears” in Italian.It looks like sorta little ear,isn’t it?Though here it is marketed as “shell” pasta and resembles that too ha !I would have preferred smaller shaped pasta but this is what i had in hand and it tastes just fine.
- Now to make it heartier,i added meatballs.You can use whatever kind you like.I made with chicken.
- You may have noticed me using turmeric a lot.It is Indian spice which i use regardless of the ethnicity of the food i am cooking.Why?Most importantly,it is rich in antioxidant.It is very subtle,makes no difference in the taste.You add only a dash/a sprinkle of it.If you can taste it,means you added too much.It adds lovely hue to the dish.Aesthetic is important to me 🙂
- Choice of herbs i used was totally what my eyes caught when i opened the spice drawer and i thought would be a good fit.
- I also like to use nutmeg and mace in meatballs.One or other.These are strong spices and just a sprinkle of it adds a touch of wonder to the dish.
- I pureed the vegetable in this soup.I like chunky and smooth both ways.Depending on the vegetables that i am using and the mood that i am in.I decide then and there 🙂
- Now the consistency,i like more of a thick consistency.So you need to add your liquid accordingly.Meatballs are already cooked and pasta takes 10-12 mins to cook.Adding pasta too early may mush it a little and that may not be a problem for some.I add it towards the end.You also do not want to stir up a lot.It will break the pasta and meatball.
And the verdict…..This was the first time i was making Meatball Minestrone .So wasn’t sure about the reaction.Both of ours kids had second serving and my daughter asked it for the lunch next morning.That says it all.It is a winner in my book.
Couple of days back,i bought mangoes.There weren’t many varieties available,so i got only few.My kids loved just the sliced mangoes.Then i was thinking what else i can do with it?So i thought of ‘Amarkhand’.
‘Amar’ is derived here from Sanskrit ‘Amre’ which means Mango.Amarkhand is thick chilled dessert made with mango pulp and very very thick yogurt.Two of my kids favorites.It was win-win.
- Traditionally,in order to make Amarkhand,yogurt or curd,as we call it in Indian english,is hung for hours so the water drains out.Here i have luxury to use Greek strained yogurt.I use ‘Fage’.Did you notice,we are told how to pronounce it?I like that little detail.Comes from the person,who has heard many version of her name 🙂
- Now,the pulp.I didn’t make it.I bought the sweetened canned pulp.I have hard time finding great tasting,reasonably priced mangoes here like we do India during summer.By all means, go ahead and make your own pulp,if you so desire :-).
- My kids like the frozen treats.So i froze some of the Amarkhand for them to slurp on.Your choice.
- Other good fruit to substitute would be ‘papaya’,if you like papaya.I haven’t tried that yet.
- Very thick consistency is the defining characteristic of Amarkhand. As it chills,it thickens too.
You know people engage themselves in different hobbies to give a time out to their brain from one set of things.That was the state of mind i had on a particular morning.It was very windy and unusually cold around here despite of being sunny day.My day was going good ,though could have been better.As i was checking the tweets,i saw the tweet about Mango bread from saveur.Mango being one of my favorite fruit,it is a mystery why i never attempted to make one.So i wasted no time and got started on this.
My kitchen was filled with sweet aroma of mango mingled with cardamom.I followed the recipe from here with minor tweaks.
- I used Whole Wheat White flour instead of Whole Wheat Pastry.
- I reduced the amount of sugar(coconut sugar) since my mango pulp was already sweetened and i think i could have gotten by not adding sugar at all.
- You can make your own mango pulp too.You will have to increase the amount of sugar depending on how sweet your mangoes are.
- Mango and Cardamom go hand by hand,so i would suggest not to skip it.However if you don’t keep cardamom,you can use vanilla.
- I like this recipe because its egg-less and those with egg allergy,like my brother,can eat this too.
This bread was gone very quickly.In half a day 🙂
Of late,I have started making these Swedish meat balls regularly.I didn’t think i even like them.Funny how taste buds changes.My family prefers it over the traditional meat and red sauce kind of meatballs.
This time i experimented and added bit of twist to the previous version.
- These are made of ground chicken.I don’t think Swedish make these with chicken.You can choose the meat you like.
- Instead of breadcrumbs , i used cooked quinoa.
- Used only egg whites with apple butter and milk.It added touch of mild sweetness to the meatball which we like.
- These are not perfectly well rounded meatballs.Mixture is not stiff but these are very moist,that i can say.
- I was out of half and half,sour cream.I used regular milk and it worked fine.
- Nutmeg ,Cardamom adds touch of fragrance to these meatball.Don’t overdo these spices.
And when i found out that Swedish prefer their meatball with Lingonberry Jam,i thought hmmm..weird combination.Now after tasting it with this Jam,i have a very good reason to keep it around.My daughter said,why is there jam on your plate?
Its not famous IKEA meatballs but its pretty well liked in our family by my kids and hubby alike and me too 🙂
Many times,when recipe calls for egg yolks,i am left with egg whites.I don’t feel like throwing it away.So i turn them into quesadilla using other leftovers, for breakfast.
Egg whites can be pretty bland in itself.I personally like my eggs with all its golden glory.So what do you do if you are left with just the egg whites?
- I added some greens and some veggies to it.Rolled it in egg whites.
- Cut it like Quesedilla and served it with leftover relish.
- One thing,you must not overcook the eggwhites and you must eat it hot.It gets chewy if it cooks and sits longer.
- It is also a great no-carb alternative.
Simple and Delish
I was telling you earlier about our compassionate meal.We make the meal from the state where our girl,we are sponsoring in,is living.It is also one of our way to remember her and let our family connect with her.
So in an effort to do so,i prepared chicken Kolhapuri .Now, Kolhapur is a name of city in a state of Maharashtra.It is famous for the footwear around the world.If you ever visit India,you have to get some “Kolhapuri sandles” 🙂
I have spent a month or longer in Maharashtra more then a decade ago and i hardly recall eating non-veg meal.I get the impression that Marathi meal is very simply prepared.As i was researching i found out
- Tambda means red.So the dish is suppose to be red in color.It is generally prepared using mutton.
- Dish is also spicy hot.Color red comes from the native chili pepper used in prepping this dish.
- Marathi also use peanut oil.Its called groundnut in Indian english.Which imparts red color.My dish was rather yellow but i am sticking with the name.I added paprika,cayenne pepper and mace later.
- Marathi cuisine uses coconut in spice mix or coconut milk in gravy based dishes.Of course,their coconut milk does not comes from a can.
- This dish has unique blend of spices.I hardly use poppy seeds in cooking.I used black but white is preferable.
You might have noticed a banner for Compassion International in my blog.I put this banner on the day,we started sponsoring a little girl in India.A constant reminder to us that oceans away there is this sweet girl,who we haven’t met personally,is been connected to us by God.
To celebrate this sponsorship,i decided to make a meal from the state where this sweet girl lives.A state of Maharashtra.You may or may not have heard the name before but if i ask you,if you know ‘Bollywood’,then it might ring a bell.Mumbai,home of Bollywood, is a capital of Maharashtra.India has 25 states.There are at least 25 languages,one per each state spoken with numerous dialect.I can understand only few of them.People who are original to Maharashtra are called ‘Marathi’,which is also the language they speak.
We decided to have a candlelight Marathi dinner,as we prayed for her and her family.My kids looked up in their table mat where the place is located within India.
Now a little bit about Kobhi Zunka.Basically ‘Kobhi’ is marathi for cabbage or cauliflower.In Hindi,we call cabbage “Patta Gobhi” and Cauliflower as “Phool Gobhi”,where “Patta” means leaves(As in cabbage leaves) and “Phool” means “flower in Hindi.
I don’t know Zunka part.I will have to ask my aunt.Only difference between this cabbage dish and the similar ones i have grew up eating is,the usage of certain spices along with “lentil” flour,a big difference.
- You might have noticed,Asafoetida(A-SA-F-Ti-da),listed under the spice.It is VERY VERY PUNGENT spice.So much so that i do not keep it inside my pantry.Smell permeates in the closed pantry.It is actually a gummy root.If you are using the root,you use no more then the size of a mustard seed.I can only find powder here in local Indian grocery store,you use not more then pinch.It will make the dish inedible,if you overuse it.Asafoetida is commonly used for seasoning in lentil and beans based dishes.I absolutely love what a mustard bit of asafoetida can do to the dish.
- I used garbanzo bean flour.However traditionally lentil flour which is used there,comes from roasted Indian chick peas.Quite different then big chickpeas that you see here.
- Curry leaves:Essential ingredient.It has strong smell but i absolutely love it in the dish.I buy it dry because i just couldn’t keep the plant alive 🙂
It sounds funny when i was writing a title of this post.Back home we called it ‘Baingan ka Chokha’.The homemade version is much less spicy and oily then what is sold in Indian restaurant here under the name of ‘Baingan Bharta’.
‘Baingan’ is hindi for eggplants or as i knew it as Brinjal in Indian english growing up.’Bharta’ and ‘Chokha’ just means mashed up.The best kind of this dip are the ones which are cooked in “chulha” in Indian villages,like my grand mother still prefer to do.
Notice the man in this picture,he is making Roti over chulha,a clay oven.In the villages,they use woods or hay for the fire in these ‘chulhas’.
- You can use any eggplant but if its big Italian eggplant,i would cut in two pieces just so that it roast properly.I prefer Chinese/Japanese eggplants which are smaller in size and cook evenly.
- You can cook the eggplant by broiling or directly char it over the stove top,top of cast iron skillet covered.You can also boil and roast it.I find it time consuming.So i prefer broiling.
One consistent piece of conversation when I am talking with my family across the ocean is food .They told me recently,there is a street where they sell 100 different kind of parathas. You name it and they have it.Wow that must be paratha heaven 🙂
Thats the beauty of paratha.A flat bread cooked on skillet with generous amount of Ghee.What not to like about it?Now let me tell you a thing or two about ‘Rajma’.
- It is Indian red kidney beans stew cooked with array of spices.Since spice list is long,not to mention soaking and cooking the beans.Rajma is reserved for special occasion treat in the houses.
- It is very popular in North India.Think Delhi,Pujab,Utter pradesh.My sister says that they have ‘Rajma’ plate in Delhi available at every lunch joint probably.Why won’t it be?These states are one of the biggest producers of legumes in India.
Now the moment of truth,growing up i wasn’t fond of Rajma.And may be thats why i hardly ever make it.However after the recent talk with my sister,i geared up to make it and ended up over cooking.Beans were mushed.Not the way i remember eating it.It still tasted great.So what do you do with all that Rajma?
- I can freeze and eat that later but i would be only one eating it.So i decided to make ‘Paratha‘.
- I really wasn’t measuring how much flour and rajma i used.It made 2 dozens paratha,if that helps.So i want to say 2-1/2 to 3 cups of flour at least.
- I make paratha in Indian cast iron skillet called “tawa”.Its very light to lift.Then i cook them with butter in a non-stick pan.Don’t be afraid of using butter.I used may be little over 3 tablespoon of butter to make 2 dozen Rajma paratha.So not very much.Nonstick helps too.You only need little each time.I do both at the same time,two burners going on.Cook it in iron skillet and oil it in non-stick pan.
- I froze the paratha layered between wax paper.At the time to eat,just microwave it for like 30 seconds.
- Mash the Rajma very well.You don’t want beans standing out from the dough.
- Add cooked Rajma to Whole Wheat flour in a big enough bowl,if you are kneading it by hand.Else use the stand mixer.If it feels dry even after adding all rajma,add water.Moisture from Rajma was enough to make the dough for me.
- Make a golf size ball.Flatten it out using the rolling pin.Check out the illustration here or here .
- In a cast Iron skillet,add the rolled out paratha. Cook it on both sides at medium-high heat.
- Once you are done cooking them in iron skillet,cook them with ghee in a non stick pan.
Its really not hard.Look at the illustration to help.Its lot easier when you see then me explaining in the writing :-).
Enjoy it hot with chutney or relish.I had it with roasted eggplant dip,the way my mom made it at home.This dish is superhit in my house with both of my kids,they call it ‘patata’ .They kept coming back for the additional serving.This was my first time eating Rajma paratha.Hubby and I agree that its a keeper.