Basic baby potato roast

A wise person once said – “If you want to test the strength of the bond between the maamiyaar and marumagal, ask them which way they’d cook potatoes for a dinner party. If you want to test the bond between two brothers, ask them to lend the other their car with a smile.” People pay more attention when you prefix it that way. It’s not totally untrue. I am not exaggerating when I say the potato roast sparked off one of the biggest controversies in the family. A controversy so massive it spanned a week and altered the family equation permanently. If you are expecting the ugly details of that family controversy, I am sorry. I am not about to wash the dirty linen in public for pageviews, for facebook likes, for blog traffic. Never! I have bigger plans. I am planning to sell the rights of that story to a SUN TV mega-serial. This baby potato roast is so basic, you may refuse to accept this as a recipe; Rightly so. However this baby potato roast is proof that tasty things can happen if you keep it simple, let the main ingredient shine and add a lot of oil. This potato roast is splendid with just about any kind of rice – lemon rice, curd rice, sambar rice, rasam rice, ghee rice etc. This potato roast also goes well with phulkas. Enjoy!  If you liked what you read, you can like Foodbetterbegood on facebook and instagram to get all the updates. You can also subscribe to get Foodbetterbegood in your email.    
Aglio e olio

Aglio e Olio

I was watching the Bigg Boss show over the weekend. One of them (doesn’t matter which one) said that he wanted to call the other his dad. Then his dad would be his periappa, his periappa his thaatha, his thaatha a mama? I know Vijay TV shows are primed for drama. Judges on shows often become the dad, mom, brother, sister, grandfather or grandmother. No, not yet wifes or husbands. However this phenomenon is not restricted to TV shows. I see this everywhere around me. The auto and cab men are “Anna” (brother). The flower selling lady and the maid are “akka” (sister). I’ve seen people call their in-laws “Amma” (mom) and “Appa” (dad). How does that work? How do you manage that kind of love? Or conversely how do you manage that kind of insincerity? I am willing to believe it is love. I am just not comfortable with having to call them that. On one side is the insensitive undermining of important relationships. The woman who will make a new tiffen for me at 10 pm because I threw a tantrum about dinner, the woman who will hunt down all the lizards in the house for my sake, the woman who never made me feel guilty about waking up late (and left me totally unprepared for the rest of the world) can only be my amma (mother). No mother -in-law, aunt, teacher or anyone else can be my amma. I can call no one else “Amma”, not even Jayalalitha. The other side of the argument is the basic sincerity that I feel I owe to the auto guy, the courier person or my mother-in-law. I wouldn’t want to say something I didn’t mean, not even to the HDFC woman who calls me every day at 11 in the morning asking me if I want a personal loan. This atrocious metaphorical substitution for when you want to make someone feel extra special, when you are lazy to look for the precise descriptor, when you err on the side of dishonesty is a special kind of low that is unique to this age we live in. This is not even just about people referring to other people. Look at the food world. Cauliflower rice is not rice. It is cauliflower mince. Oothappam or dosa or flatbread topped with cheese and veggies do not make a pizza. They are vegetable cheese...
Chicken Aloo Tikki

Chicken Aloo Tikki

I am constantly wondering if Yuvi is as innocent as he seems. I can’t quite make out. I don’t know if I’ve told you this story before. Flashback a few years back when he was barely 4. He asked me one day – “Do you know which girl I like most in the world?” He was in LKG. I wasn’t ready yet for girlfriends and the lot. I knew among his friends, there was one girl. I said, Who da? Neha? Yuvi: No I: Then who? Yuvi: Nee thaan! (You!) I was beyond touched that I was his most favourite girl in the world, that he said it the way he did, that he called me a girl! I nearly cried. I lifted him up, kissed him and danced around the room carrying him. I related this incident to Jagan. He seemed a little less overwhelmed. I put it down to jealousy. A couple of days later my maamiyaar (mother-in-law) said, “Yesterday, you know what Yuvan said? He asked me if I knew which girl he liked the most in the whole world.” I knew what she was going to say. I didn’t want to act too proud. I didn’t want her to feel bad. I tried my best to keep my face modest and curious. Maamiyaar: I asked him if it was his teacher. I didn’t expect her to suspect me but teacher I thought was a bad substitute. Maamiyaar: He said, “No!” Then I asked him, “Is it your amma?” She had exceeded my expectations. She did find out. I beamed. I couldn’t suppress my glee much. Maamiyaar: He said, “No. It is you!” She beamed. I looked at Jagan. Jagan looked at me. We had underestimated little Yuvi. This little man far exceeded his dad’s prowess at chivalry, lying and diplomacy. Jagan seemed to acknowledge that he was the lesser talent here. Yuvi walked in then in his kutty jatti asking me to find his red car. I still couldn’t believe that this little imp in his kutty jatti was also a charmer of aunties, paatis and ammammas. What do I know? This boy also takes after his father in his love for all things meat. I knew that he’d love these chicken aloo tikkis. Hasini enjoyed them too. These chicken aloo tikkis are surprisingly easy to make. Like with most other deep fried items, these can...
Nellikkai rice & Pidikizhangu masiyal

Nellikkai (Gooseberry) rice & Pidikizhangu Masiyal

I’ve caught myself staring into space quite a lot these days. I’ve been thinking. Today I wanted to share with you some of the deep stuff that I think about.   Why do washing machine ads always show people washing one dirty shirt at a time? Is that a message to us that when we load the machine chockful like we usually do, we cannot expect clean clothes? We can only expect to distribute the dirt equally among all the clothes?   Where are all those single socks? Did they not get along?   Are there really households where kids sit down for breakfast on school days? Is that fictional?   Who are these mothers who cut up food into fancy shapes?   What’s with the cake in the form of a camera, a shoe, a handbag, a whiskey bottle? If I was really crazy about cameras I’d expect to get a camera for my birthday and a yummy cake. I wouldn’t be expecting a cake in form of a camera. That is cheating! I don’t need to be shown what I like. I am not interested in knowing how skillful the baker is in disguising a cake as something else.   You’re standing at a buffet counter and somebody behind you says “excuse me”. What could that possible mean? – “I am more important. I need to eat first.”  or “Excuse me is the verbal equivalent of honking. I can get ahead anywhere by saying ‘excuse me’” or “Get out of my way. I don’t believe in queues.”   Do you also see patterns in your bathroom tiles?   Who informs my kids that I’ve gone to the toilet?   Who gave my phone number to all the banks, insurance companies, car service companies, NGOs, charities and all the courier guys in town?   Are you a thinker too? What do you think about? Share with me in the comments. I’d love to hear. I also wanted to share the recipe to a meal I made last week that I thoroughly enjoyed. Nellikkai rice or Gooseberry rice is an incredibly simple and quick rice dish to make. It is more intense than a lemon rice, a little extra sour but easily adjusted by mixing in more rice. Mix in fried cashews and chopped coriander to brighten it up. I made a simple Pidikizhangu mash to go with it. This...
Cauliflower chops

Cauliflower chops | Saravana Bhavan style

I suffer from what I call the “adjacent table dilemma” (pakkathu table dilemma) in restaurants. Let me explain. I am at Saravana Bhavan. I am torn between ghee roast and mini idli sambar. Others have made up their minds. I am struggling. Idli is classic. But ghee roast is always a restaurant special. Piping hot tiffen sambar tips me towards idlis. But the sheer amount of fragrant ghee beckons me the other way. I am not sure if I want to go the slurpy route or the crispy crunchy route. The waiter has come back for the second time. I have to get it right. Jagan glares at me. Me: “If I order two tiffens will you share with me?” Jagan: “No” Me: “What do you suggest for me – mini idli or ghee roast” Jagan: “Mini idli” I turn to the waiter and say “Ghee roast” Jagan again glares at me. We wait for the dishes to arrive. The ghee roast arrives crispy, golden and crunchy heady with the aroma of ghee. I feel convinced I’ve made the right decision. When I am about to pop the first piece of dosa into my mouth, Idiyappam and Cauliflower chops arrives at the adjacent table. It looks like the best combination of steamed goodness and fragrant masala. I want that. I am back to scene one. It was Idiyappam and Cauliflower chops that I’d wanted all along. It looks like I should also discuss with the adjacent table folks before I order. I came back home with a longing for the adjacent table’s Idiyappam and cauliflower chops that wouldn’t go away. The next week I decided to rectify things. I made Idiyappam and cauliflower chops at home. I don’t trust myself to order right at restaurants. I am a fan of the cauliflower chops at Saravana bhavan. It is this incredibly fragrant, rich luscious gravy that is cooked to perfection. This cauliflower chops is in between a kurma and a regular onion-tomato gravy. It’s a hybrid. This cauliflower chops is also great with Chappathis. I attempted the cauliflower chops and I am happy to say I got almost 90% there. I am sure it won’t disappoint you. Do try and let me know how you like it! Enjoy! If you liked what you read, you can like Foodbetterbegood on facebook and instagram to get all the updates. You can also subscribe...
Paneer butter masala

Paneer butter Masala

You know my favourite part of doing yoga? At the very end of the class, when you lie down, stretch out, close your eyes and relax. It looks like I am not the only one who feels that way. Many friends thought the same too. People liked having somebody instructing them to rest. It feels legitimate. It feels delicious. You’ve done your yoga and you’ve earned it. My biggest fear is that I might fall asleep on the yoga mat and somebody’d have to kick me awake. I take my yoga very seriously. Yeah, I started taking yoga classes a couple of weeks back. I thought you’d never ask. I am really enjoying these yoga classes. It feels like I was always meant to do yoga. Would you believe that I set out to learn yoga last year when I planned to lose weight? I let myself be convinced that it wouldn’t work for me – that I won’t ever be able to make it on time to a scheduled class and that I wouldn’t lose weight with yoga. I am regularly late for class and I am not sure I’ve lost weight. But I am enjoying doing yoga. I am not even doing it that well. That’s like unconditional love. I am posting this article today and today is International yoga day. That surely must be a sign.    Happy International Yoga day people! I frequently get excited about something new that’s caught my fancy and I can’t stop talking about it. Thanks for reading that! I am ever grateful for your support. If you’re here for the paneer butter masala, please read on. At the risk of adding one more recipe to the already inundated world of Paneer butter masala, I present to you my Paneer butter Masala recipe; the recipe that I came up with after many many iterations and which probably bears a strong similarity to 95% of the recipes out there.     How different can a Paneer butter masala recipe be? They all involve cooking down onions and tomatoes to a nice smooth sauce, they all call for a mix of spice powders to be cooked until the raw small goes away and they’re all unmistakably delicious, yummy and drool-worthy. Having made that impressive pitch on why you should try my recipe, let me warn you that it’s one of the simplest versions out...
Taj Bekal

Travel guide to Bekal

Bekal is a small coastal town in northern kerala just off Mangalore. The Bekal fort is best recognized as the fort where Arvind Swamy in that iconic white and blue T-shirt sings “Uyire” against the backdrop of crashing waves and it is all you can do to not run to the screen and hug and pacify him. It is still about Bekal that we’re talking about. We travelled to Bekal earlier this year after our customary visit to Mookambika temple. It is just off the border of Mangalore, about 4 hours from Kollur, Karnataka. It was late March and it was hot. We stayed at Taj Bekal which sits just off the beach and on the sides of a lovely stretch of backwaters. This place was so charming, so tastefully done, there was little reason to venture anywhere else. We stayed busy the whole time. We ate, sat, gazed, ate, laid down, sat, watched, fell asleep, ate, sat, watched … all day. We did this out on the grass by the backwater, on the swing bed in the patio, in the pool and on the beach. The green all around soothed my eyes. I couldn’t have enough of the coconut trees, the gentle flow of the backwater, the silence interrupted only by birds and my kids. I sat there drinking in the quiet relishing the delicious prospect of doing nothing the rest of the day. I wanted to hold on to it, take it back with me. The property has lovely touches of kerala all over the place. Kerala houseboats are called Kettuvallams. These Kettuvallam style bamboo awnings adorn every entrance, veranda and roof. Little statues of elephants with the most adorable little umbrella stand guard in front of every room bearing the room number. Striking Pillayar (Vinayagar/Ganesh) sculptures greet you at every turn. People were canoeing in the backwaters, getting Ayurvedic spa treatments, making friends with other guests, dressing up for meals and broadcasting real-time to their social circles. I slept. You can try your archery skills, play cricket or stand in the pool and order cappuccino. Women had shopped specifically for this holiday. They wore tie-around the neck swimsuits, one side sleeved swimsuits and sunglasses and walked into the pool to stand and chat. They ordered cappuccino and fries. I was wearing Saroja Devi’s swimsuit with the frills at the thigh. I took in a long deep breath,...
Maggi

Checking in

It’s been a long long time since I wrote but I’ve been worrying all along that I am not writing. I don’t do and I worry that I don’t do. I don’t exercise for a week and I feel lousy all week that I am not exercising. Somehow it is easier to continue to feel lousy about something, than to do it. I’ve made my laziest meals the past few months upcycling old chappathis into kothu chappathis, making back-to-back idli-dosai-dosai meals, skipping chutney and dishing out milagai podi every possible instance (so much so that my milagai podi is nearly over and I need to make it again), making maggi a regular weekday dinner, running through eggs and bread and letting the veggies get old. I’ve not cooked a meal worthy of being blogged about. I’ve been engulfed in work. When I am anxious, overwhelmed, time pressed and going mad, I go out and stock up on Maggi. For backup. For comfort. For solace. #maggi #foodbetterbegood #food #foodtalkindia #noodles #instant #instantfood #foodie #comfortfood #foodblogger #comfort #chennai A post shared by jayanthi (@jayanthi.padmanabhan) on Mar 17, 2018 at 3:42am PDT In between I managed to go on a family vacation-cum-pilgrimage to Mookambika, Kollur and Bekal (travel post coming soon). Exclusive action shots from my vacation at Bekal, Kerala. People around me were canoeing in the backwaters, swimming, cycling, making sand castles on the beach, dressing up for meal times, making friends with other guests.. I was doing this. ??? #vacation #bekal #hotel #kerala #holiday #sleeping #indiatravel #trip #instatravel #familytrip #southindia #foodbetterbegood A post shared by jayanthi (@jayanthi.padmanabhan) on Apr 18, 2018 at 12:40pm PDT On vacations I like to take my planner and make bucket lists. I saw the bucket list that I’d made on last year’s vacation. I wanted to learn swimming Lose 18 kilos with an additional if-clause item that IF I lose that weight I get to buy new clothes Blog 5 times a week and Reach a 100000 followers. I had 1340 followers then. 2018 Planner, Tabbed sticky notes and Norpro classic popsicle mould brought with love from USA by my dear friend lakshmi. These are exactly what i want. How can a friend know so well? She won't. That is why I get her mailing address as soon as she reaches the US, buy on amazon.com and ship it to her and let her be my...
Pepper chicken fry

Pepper chicken fry

How do your weekends go? I am so far behind the whole of the work week, that it’s usually Sunday noon by the time I’ve caught up with all the backlog – shopping for the week’s groceries, vegetables and fruits, sorting them all, putting away the week’s worth of laundry, oiled and shampooed our hair, de-cluttering a few random places in the house that particularly irk me and pretending not to see the rest. In between we drop kids in classes 5 minutes late. Sundays I take a break from gym, no matter what. I take a break on Sundays even if I’ve not gone to the gym the rest of the days.   After I’ve shopped for a truckload of produce, picked the keerai leaves, bagged vegetables, prepped the coriander leaves and jam-packed my fridge, I am so exhausted I want to eat out. We eat out at-least one of the weekend meals. If we have some free time, we pick an argument. We then wake up on Monday thankful and looking forward for the work week. After a week of short-cut meals, cheat meals, leftovers, one pot meals and maggi I make sure to make something special for Sunday lunch. One particular Sunday, I made this Pepper chicken fry that I had bookmarked from Sabitha Radhakrishna’s book “Annapurni”. It’s a keeper – both the book and the recipe. This pepper chicken fry is reminiscent of military hotel pepper chicken fry or chicken chukka as it is colloquially called. It’s tender, coated with a flavour bursting fiery masala and melt in the mouth delicious. This can be served as a side with steamed rice, biryani or ghee rice. It’s a wonderful recipe to make for dinner parties. It’s not too much effort but is sure to wow your guests. Do make this pepper chicken fry! Enjoy! If you like what you are reading, subscribe to foodbetterbegood, like foodbetterbegood’s facebook page or follow my instagram page.      
Kodaikanal lake view

The lazy person’s guide to Kodaikanal

I can feel the excitement of the school year finale in the air. We’re in the middle of the annual exams. We’re ripping out tattered covers of books knowing they need not be covered again. We’re using up extra notebooks as rough books. I am already dreaming of late mornings and leisurely toilet time. As usual I have a whole lot of things I want to do this summer including vathal making, de-cluttering the house, teaching kids some basic cooking, signing them up for some fun classes, re-arranging some of the furniture, catching up on 6 months’ magazines, finishing all the un-read books in the bookshelf/kindle, maybe going on a short vacation.. I may have planned for the next 5 summers. I am getting all tangled up just thinking about them. Talking about vacations, we went on a mini weekend vacation to Kodaikanal last month. It was quite a last minute thing. I did not really believe a 2-day vacation would amount to much. I am happy to say I was wrong. It turned out to be one of the most enjoyable, relaxing vacations in recent times. We didn’t do any of the regular sightseeing. We skipped all the viewpoints, waterfalls and must-see places. With summer vacation around the corner, I thought it might be useful to share my lazy person’s guide to kodaikanal. Find a nice spot, sit and simply look at the lake We checked into Carlton that’s just along the lake and were lucky enough to be staying in a beautiful lake facing room. We’ve been going back to Carlton Kodaikanal for several years now. Mornings, we woke up early, went out to the balcony and quickly ran back in shocked by the ice cold floor outside. We’d head back wearing slippers, sit down hugging ourselves in the nippy air and look across at the misty lake mesmerized. It’s still early, much before the cycling and boating enthusiasts are out. It’s quiet and peaceful. We wonder how life would be for the family that lives in that house across the lake. We order coffee through room service, not wanting to leave the setting. Snack and walk around the lake The kodaikanal lake has an almost 5km circumference and is usually crowded with tourists. You can hire a cycle and cycle around the lake. Or you can walk around the lake. When you’re hungry, stop for a snack...