Milagai bajji

Milagai Bajji, 3 ways

You know that spring of joy when you look out the window and see rain? It’s hard to make sense of it. It’s almost visceral. Rain means happiness, that everything’s going to be alright, that this too will pass, that good things will happen. Whoever said “rainy is gloomy” watched too many Wimbledon matches. It’s like the rounded R’s that people mouth when they return from the US. It’s what we think we need to say. It’s not what we feel deep inside. Rain always, always means happy things. We’ve got it down to a well-worn formula in life and in cinema. Rain means traffic, so we can be late. Rain means cheery rain songs on radio & hot crispy snacks in the canteen. Rain means cancelled classes and school holidays. In cinema rain means heroine introduction, rain means a happy dance, rain means romance, rain means an important twist or the climax. These are the clichés that we love and cherish. For me rain means “Oho Megam” song from “Mouna Raagam” or “Vaan Megham” from “Punnagai Mannan”. Only those two and nothing else. My mind seems stuck in the late 80s. And only Ilayaraja songs will do. That’s just how it is. I am an 80’s child. Rain also means a big plate of piping hot, sinus-opening, throat-scorching Milagai bajji. I love the classic Milagai bajji – the entire chilli, seeds and all, dunked in bajji batter and fried to golden brown perfection. My nose may start running and I may appear to be weeping. But don’t take the plate away from me. It’s the kind of dare-devil things I like to do. I long wanted to try a few other variants of the milagai bajji. One was a potato stuffed bajji that I thought might be a milder, just as tasty version for less adventurous souls. In this one, I make a slit and scrape out the seeds from within the chilli and stuff with spiced potatoes. The third version is a mini milagai bajji bomb. If wolfing down an entire chilli seems forbidding, you can start with these mini milagai bajji bites. I cut up the chilli into little roundels and dunk in bajji batter and fry. These are like the bijli vedi (the little cigarette like single-shot deepavali cracker) – small and cute but still explosive. Last Saturday, I woke up to a cool, drizzly, cloudy...

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, traversed from potatoes to sambar to fridge shelf space to kids to clothes to opinions of relatives to waking up times to respect to freedom to total chaos 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 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.    
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...
Chicken cutlet, easy make ahead party appetizer

Chicken cutlet

After “EPIC” being used to describe the most non-epic everyday things – the morning omelette, the bun from the tea kadai, discounted buffet spread with the groupon coupon, the 127th selfie against the brick wall, your new haircut, the son’s first drawing of an elephant that actually looks like a car, three friends meeting at the coffee shop, the family wedding that others don’t really care about except to see if you’re fat too and the dress you ordered online that looks nothing like Deepika Padukone’s outfit, I don’t know anymore what people intend when they say “EPIC”. Then what are Mahabharata and Ramayana? I thought those were EPICS. My most hated word of 2017 It shows a certain laziness, an unwillingness to look for the right word, and an almost obnoxious need for attention. I thought “awesome” was overused and irritating. But “EPIC” has surpassed that. “EPIC” is my most hated word of 2017. What words do you think are most over-used? Which are the ones you can’t stand. Let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear. The new year is coming up fast along with plenty of holidays and parties. If you need a delicious make-ahead party snack, look no further than this chicken cutlet(try these chicken vadai too). This chicken cutlet recipe will come in extremely handy as it ticks all the boxes for a good party appetizer – it is absolutely lip-smacking, it is crunchy and deep fried and it is 90% make ahead – you can make these days ahead and freeze them and fry them up before your party. Make Chicken Cutlets if you want to feel sophisticated Hasini and Yuvan absolutely dig these chicken cutlets. They ate these all week. I loved the feeling of having read-to-fry cutlets in the fridge. It made me feel all sophisticated and prepared and in-charge of things when I really wasn’t any of that. If you want to feel sophisticated, make these chicken cutlets and stove them away in your fridge. Let me know how it feels later on. Just try not to say “EPIC”.  
Beach style masala kadalai - Boiled peanut salad

Beach style Masala Kadalai – Boiled peanut salad

People go to the beach for different things – to gaze at the sea, to feel the salty sea breeze, for a walk, to make sand castles, to play a game of Frisbee with friends, to make out with girlfriend/boyfriend and pretend no one’s watching, to wet feet in the sea, to take the dog for a fun outing, to escape the heat, to eat masala kadalai and bajji. If you know me, you should know what my reason is, to go to the beach. To think that Beach style Masala kadalai is good for you and is healthy is against all odds. But it is. If you are following my project 50k, you’ll know I am all about clean, healthy, low carb meals right now. This meal fits the bill perfectly. Boiled peanuts are delicious as such. If you want to turn it into a flavour-packed, filling salad, try this beach style masala kadalai. It is super easy and quick to put together and yummy. This beach style masala kadalai makes a great diet lunch. If you find shelling peanuts tiresome, you can quite easily get yourself a pack of raw peanuts and pressure cook them for the same results.  
chicken masala vadai

Masala Chicken vadai

I spent three days cleaning out my cupboards, shelves, beros, paranai, tops of beros, top of fridge, window sills, between wall and cupboard, behind cupboard, under cupboard, under stairs and inside drawers. Did you know you could store stuff in all these places? Martha Stewart won’t tell you that. I found I did not fit into 80% of the clothes I had. I had so many different cables and wires I could technically connect my TV to laptop to remote controlled car to DVD player to charger to camera to mixie. I’d still be clutching a handful of un-identified cables that fit into obsolete ports. I had loose change everywhere. None of the pens actually wrote. My fountain pens had all dried up. I had about 2 huge suitcases of books I had no space for. I hadn’t read most of my recent purchases. I wasn’t going to deal with the toys. It was too much. I had 100 glass milk bottles – the small cute kind for times when I might throw a party for 100 people. I had no business having as many cake pans as I did. I had enough small bowls in melamine, ceramic, earthenware, steel and microwaveable plastic for every conceivable need that I knew not, how to put away. I had my napkins, tablemats, little pieces of cloth, wooden boards, empty photo frames, textured cards – stray stuff that were the props for my blog photos. Friends, relatives and the maid when they see these, turn to look at me searching for reason. I don’t meet their eye. All I did those few days was to pack bag after bag of stuff that I just couldn’t have any more. I was angry at myself. I was severe with every little purse, dabba and tight jeans I hadn’t fit into in 7 years. I needed about two and a half kitchens to store just my baking stuff. It seemed impossible. When I couldn’t make up my mind, I put them in boxes and stashed them in the paranai. I started with a cabinet full of stuff. I kept going ruthlessly. At the end of it I had emptied most of the cabinet and filled up all of the paranais. For those who are unfamiliar with “paranai” these are the Indian equivalent of your “attic”, only we have these all over the house to stow away...
Cauliflower pakoda

Cauliflower Pakoda

Did you realize I’ve not blogged in 3 weeks?  … No? Thanks I’ve been working on transitioning Foodbetterbegood to its own domain – Foodbetterbegood.net complete with a cleaner prettier layout, printable recipe card, easy to search pictorial recipe index and easier subscription option! Most of the work’s done but there’s still some more that I am pegging away at. But I couldn’t wait any longer. So here it is. Look up… at the address bar of your browser. You are here! Welcome! If you are an ardent fan of Foodbetterbegood, I suggest you subscribe using the subscribe button. I am not sure if subscribers on the old site will receive the new posts.  Or you could follow on Facebook, Instagram, Google+ or Pinterest. Take a seat. Have some cauliflower pakoda. These cauliflower pakoda are dangerously addictive; the kind of addictive that gets your hand into a nice rhythmic action, popping one after another into your mouth. These are irresistibly tasty. Add some company, some conversation, a cup of hot coffee or a book and you have yourself a nice, cosy evening. Whoever thought of selling hot cauliflower pakoda on the beach, was obviously a connoisseur. Seated on comfortable plastic chairs twisted down into the beach sand, digging your toes into the sand, the evening breeze tousling up your hair, kids playing nearby – bucket loads of sand in their trouser folds, the smell of the sea in the air, piping hot cauliflower pakoda arrives alongside a spicy chutney. Everyone rushes in to grab one. Too hot! You blow impatiently and take a bite and half-blow, half-eat the pakoda. Ooh! Nothing beats cauliflower pakoda on the beach. But if you ever are craving those pakoda, here is the recipe. I deconstructed the recipe. It is not the beach pakoda recipe. It is my interpretation – my cover version of the beach cauliflower pakoda. Enjoy!  
stuffed okra

Stuffed Bhindi

Yesterday I did what no fat mommy should do. I looked through my wedding albums (after 7 years). So much younger, half the width, half the circumference… Everybody else seemed to have aged too, which was comforting. There were some who had since lost weight. That irked us a bit and in a fit of childish competitiveness, Jagan and I decided we had to exercise twice a day and eat once a day. I decided also, To not buy jeans till I lose weight. That I can’t find one that fits, and if I do and if I wear it, my behind looks like a huge parentheses is immaterial.    To not wear said parantheses jeans in the name of social good.   To not buy new clothes as they may be too large once I’ve lost weight.   To not attend parties & weddings until I lose weight.   To stay out of selfies, to avoid having to shoot 100s of photos, to avoid turning sideways or hide behind someone or hold my breath or photoshop the hell out of it.   To camouflage my fitness tracker. I wear a Garmin vivofit fitness tracker all the time. I like to believe I am fitness conscious. I am conscious that I am not doing anything about my fitness every time I look at my fitness band. Wearing it though has given me great grief. Everyone and I mean EVERYONE asks me what I am wearing and once I’ve explaied – how much I’ve walked and how much weight I’ve lost. Once they hear I’ve not achieved much yet, their reactions go from smug satisfaction to ridicule to advice. One very thoughtful lady went as far as to ask why I would even try, beyond this point, suggesting that I am married, a mommy and that I am old and I should settle into my parantheses. I will meet her once I’ve lost weight. Till then I am not telling anyone it is a fitness tracker.   Very important. To not look at the wedding albums till I lose weight. That felt like therapy, like a pact to myself. Thanks for hanging in there. Now on to today’s recipe. This recipe for stuffed okra/stuffed bhindi is really close to my heart. It is easy, slightly time consuming than your regular okra stir fry but totally worth it. I love the stuffing in this...

Fried Moong dal Toast

I am in ‘plan-B’ mode these days. I think I must make a decorated, layer cake for my dad’s birthday, then switch last minute to a brownie with frosting and finally make just the brownie. I buy loads of green chillies to make Mor Milagai but I can’t find Mor (buttermilk) anywhere. But I didn’t look for it. To think that just a couple of weeks back our fridge harboured not just tons of Mor and yogurt but other assorted wild cultures of I don’t know what (and I threw them out, peasant me. Sour-dough illiterate!). I make pizza dough, pizza sauce and even ready the toppings but don’t make pizza because I can’t find Mozzarella. My to-make vathal and oorkai (pickle) list are growing, summer is full blast on in Madras and I do nothing. I am waiting for yogurt to sour when there is no yogurt at home, for bananas to blacken but they get eaten up. I am there, yet not there. It’s there, but not there. I want to do, but don’t. I know many people who’d call this laziness. Maybe. I can’t wholly deny that, so I’ll accept it. So one morning I wake up to an idli-batter less fridge which means tiffen other than idli/dosai. I’d planned pesarattu or French toast but made Fried Moong dal toast instead. It is not my invention though. I remember a similar recipe in a Nita Mehta book that I am not able to locate now. I soaked moong dal in some hot water for 10 minutes (you can soak in regular water for 20-25 minutes) because I woke up late and I was in a hurry which is my normal state of things. I then ground the dal to a coarse paste, mixed in finely minced green chillies and fresh coriander leaves and slathered them on some bakery bread (these are smaller than your regular loaves and are usually softer) – both sides of each slice and then deep fried them till the edges are dark brown and crisp. I had a mild attack at the amount of oil the bread was taking up and I tried a skinny pan fried version with a couple of slices. I am sorry health freaks but deep fried toast was undoubtedly the winner – crispy edges and slightly chewy, crunchy dal coated inside. It was fantastic. I made this for...

Chicken – 65

Yesterday during our skype conversation, Yuvi tried to pounce on his dad by head-butting the laptop screen to directly jump into America. It is Yuvi’s way of saying “I miss you”. Jagan is more away than in. He’s away for most occasions – kids’ first day of school, his own birthday, Hasini’s birthday and now our wedding anniversary. I was going to make a classic Tiramisu for our wedding Anniversary today, from scratch but didn’t have Rum. If only Jagan were here! I am fighting the lone battle against lizards and “Maravattais” (millipede) in our house. Even yesterday, I kicked out a maravattai that had found its way into our bathroom. I am not enjoying driving during weekends and definitely not finding parking. I never worried about car repairs, AC repairs, bills and public relations at home. It is hard to believe that Jagan was taking care of all of these silently while watching “Two and half men” and “Destroyed in seconds” and while always being “just now seen”  on whatsapp. It is my way of saying “I miss you”. So I made chicken-65 instead (of Tiramisu). How in the world Chicken-65 instead of Tiramisu? We love both equally. Jagan’s love of chicken is un-paralleled. Hasini takes right after him. She even eats like him I noticed yesterday just like how Bhagyaraj’s son in “Mouna Geethangal” adjusts his glasses like his dad. Bhagyaraj is a genius. Anybody who disagrees is… is… is not my friend. I made this lip-smacking chicken-65 (courtesy: Chef Jacob’s cookbook “Asaiva samayal”) and Jagan’s favourite coconut and poppy seed chicken curry along with chappathis yesterday and wolfed down everything to my heart’s content all the while thinking how much Jagan would have enjoyed this meal.For more south-indian non-vegetarian recipes check out Maayandi Kudumbathinar Menu | South-Indian Non-vegetarian dishes Prep time: 15 minsCooking time: 15 minsServes: 3 Ingredients Boneless Chicken cut into small pieces – ¼ kiloOil for deep fryingCurry leaves – 1 stemOnion – 1 medium chopped fineGreen chilli – 1 chopped fineGinger – 1 inch mincedGarlic – 4 pods minced Marinade Ginger – 1 inch pieceGarlic – 5 podsGreen chillies – 3Kashmiri Red chilli powder – 2 tspSalt to taste Dipping Batter Corn flour – 4 tbspWater – ¾ cup Saute mixture Whisked yogurt – ¼ cupSalt – a pinchKashmiri red chilli powder – 1 tspTurmeric powder – ¼ tsp Method Clean chicken, pat dry and cut...