Murghir Jhol

Murgir Jhol – Bengali chicken curry

I am still on the movie subject. People go to a masala movie and complain that it’s just masala. People go to a movie with a solid script and fret that it is slow. They go to a movie like 2.0 and tut-tut that it’s too absurd (the very same ones who rave about the transformer series). They’re disappointed that gangster movie A does not have all the elements of gangster movie B, different story notwithstanding. All of them will claim that they thoroughly enjoyed “Inception”. I am surprised that people do not employ simple everyday logic in movie criticism. A movie is what it is. Take it as it is. Do not ask for Nasi Goreng in Saravana Bhavan. Don’t complain that the sushi place has very few vegetarian options. They are what they are. A masala movie cannot be an art movie, an animation movie and a “Hey Ram”. Comparing movies and expecting one to be the same as the other is dumb. If it’s the same, it’s a copy. Every gangster movie need not be like “Godfather”. Let me say it. I wasn’t as taken by “Godfather” as the rest of the world. Just my opinion. See I am not comparing “Godfather” to “Billa” or “Basha”. That Hollywood movies are by default the better, superior versions – I refuse to accept. Nitpicking little details in the movie and taking offence is absolutely ridiculous. I cannot imagine what people would do in a Karan Johar movie? I suppose they’d do the reverse of what they do in a regular movie – sit in for the songs and go out to smoke the rest of the movie. Enough about movies. Let’s move on to food. I am drawn to Bengali food the way I’ve been drawn to Kerala food. I’ve never eaten Bengali food before. I just know I’ll like it. I stocked up my pantry with Nigella seeds and mustard oil. I’ve been reading about Aloo Posto, Murgir Jhol, Chana bhapa.. I am smitten. I started with Murgir Jhol. It seemed like just the kind of thing to make for a Sunday lunch. I was weary of Sunday biryanis.  Also my last couple of experimental biryanis did not turn out too well. I was wincing from that memory and I wanted to take some time out from biryani until we could both reconcile. As much as a Sunday...
Mixed vegetable curry

Mixed vegetable curry

I realized recently that I am quite possibly irrevocably infatuated about food forever. The minute I decide I am going to go on a juice fast, the smell of the parotta kadai korma beckons me, I notice a lot of just-what-I’ve-been-looking-for recipes on Instagram/in my inbox, I am beset by a sudden desire to cook everything and my mother arrives with a dabba of vazhaipoo vadai. How does she know? I saw someone on facebook who had lost a lot of weight. Lots of eager fat friends asked him how he’d done it in the comments. Many other fat but shy friends didn’t ask but went through the comments to find out the secret. He had been on a diet of just fruits and fruit juices for 2 months. Wow. I thought I could do that. 2 months would be brutal. Maybe 10 days or a week. I could see how much I lost and then do it again after a break. Now go back and read the 1st paragraph. It’s like the whole world is conspiring to keep me fat. If you’re still eating healthy, do give this mixed vegetable curry a shot. It’s light and creamy and beautiful with phulkas or crusty bread even. You can use any combination of vegetables. Everything goes. It’s a king of clean- your-fridge kind of recipe.   Print Recipe Mixed vegetable curry Creamy, veggie-packed curry to sop up with your favourite bread! Course main Cuisine Indian Prep Time 10 minutes Cook Time 25 minutes Servings 4-5 people Ingredients 200 gm Baby potatoes, halved or quartered200 gm Baby corn, sliced diagonally into 1 inch pieces1 capsicum, sliced into large pieces1 Onion, sliced into large pieces1/2 cup peas1 large tomato pureed2 cups cups Coconut milkSalt to taste1/4 tsp Turmeric powder1-1/2 tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder1 tsp Cumin powder1/2 tsp Sugar1 tsp Kasoori methi3 tsp Coconut oil (or preferred cooking oil) Course main Cuisine Indian Prep Time 10 minutes Cook Time 25 minutes Servings 4-5 people Ingredients 200 gm Baby potatoes, halved or quartered200 gm Baby corn, sliced diagonally into 1 inch pieces1 capsicum, sliced into large pieces1 Onion, sliced into large pieces1/2 cup peas1 large tomato pureed2 cups cups Coconut milkSalt to taste1/4 tsp Turmeric powder1-1/2 tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder1 tsp Cumin powder1/2 tsp Sugar1 tsp Kasoori methi3 tsp Coconut oil (or preferred cooking oil) Instructions Bring a large pot or saucepan of...
Channa dal curry

Channa dal in coconut milk

You know you’re a domestic diva when your weekend plan includes operation ‘lice extermination’ from your kids’ heads, you’re planning the menu in the head while walking the treadmill, you make idli maavu, buy veggies, prep them, stock your fridge and feel too tired after all of it and order pizza. You don’t know the latest Netflix shows, your favourite songs are all old and you’re sleeping with an amrutanjan balm by your pillow, it’s safe to say you’re well into aunty-dom. I think it gets better after this. You can finally be the eccentric aunty you always were – recipe gathering, news-avoiding, sports-illiterate, shopping-crazy fat woman with a thing for mookuthis. You don’t feel the need to fit in, to keep up, to stay in tune. You’re happy to be off key, on your own terms in your own world. You feel happy to stay in bed and fall asleep reading. You feel accomplished and light of mind after decluttering the shelves. Now you’re really, truly free. I am happy to say that we’re somewhere close to the halfway mark with the 100 days of healthy eating challenge. I hope you’re eating healthy too and you are finding this series useful. I’d love to hear your opinions, suggestions or feedback on the series. Chappathi has been a popular option in my healthy eating series so far because there are umpteen ways to jazz up a simple meal of chappathis and everybody at home enjoys chappathis. Here I serve it with a creamy, lip-smacking Channa dal that is slow-simmered in coconut milk. This dal is my Ammamma’s recipe and a firm family favourite. I was saving this Channa dal curry for a heirloom recipe book along with a grand old story about my Ammamma but I suddenly ran out of recipe ideas and I figured I’d include it in the book too anyways. This dal is made entirely in a pressure cooker and is simple enough to make on a weekday morning. Hot off the stove chappathis served with this warm, comforting channa dal makes for a wonderful, cozy dinner this time of the year. I threw in a cup of sprouts stirfry for an extra punch of protein. Enjoy!   Thanks for reading and thanks all your support and encouragement.  To stay updated on all the posts, like/share/subscribe to foodbetterbegood on facebook, Instagram, google+. Print Recipe Channa dal in...
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...
Bean Sprouts kurma

Bean sprouts Kurma – Tasty way to include sprouts into your weightloss diet

I have immense respect for people with fit bodies. It tells me that they work hard, are disciplined and can control their mind and mouth, the last of which I’ve never fully mastered. It is no mean feat. It is not easy eating healthy. Don’t agree? Try eating a bowl of raw bean sprouts every morning for breakfast. Why bean sprouts are so good for your weight-loss diet Bean sprouts have been a part of the diet of weight-watchers and fitness enthusiasts for ages because: They are low calorie but nutrient dense and full of fibre which means they fill you up, add a ton of good things to your body but don’t count for much. One cup of bean sprouts is just 100 calories. Bean sprouts are a good source of vitamin B2 that helps boost your metabolism. The high fibre helps ease bowel movements. The Vitamin C in bean sprouts keeps your skin, nails and hair healthy. More Sprouts Recipes to Come Knowing all this makes eating bean sprouts a no-brainer. But it doesn’t make it any easier. So I racked my brain to come up with recipes where I could incorporate these sprouts. I remember making a sprouts stuffed paratha awhile back that everyone really enjoyed. I wanted to add more easy recipes to that list. Thus was born this sprouts kurma and the sprouts dosai, sprouts stir-fry and other sprouts recipes you’re about to see in the coming days. Keep watching. This sprouts kurma is such a delicious, creamy rendition of the sprouts, you’ll have no qualms at all polishing off a cup of this sprouts kurma with rotis or idiyappam or dosai. I promise. I served them with benne kadubu – karnataka style rice dumplings. Oh My, they were such a pair. Also this kurma is so much easier than your regular vegetable kurma because there are no vegetables to cut. Easy and healthy. Win-win. And you managed to down your day’s dose of sprouts in style without gagging. Win-win-win! Try today! Do let me know in the comments if you have your favourite sprouts recipes. I’d love to hear.  
Deepavali mutton kurma

Deepavali Special Mutton Kurma

Hope your Deepavali started with a nice oil bath followed by a long leisurely breakfast of several soft dosais alongside a rich, lip-smacking Deepavali special mutton kurma. Hope you planted your butt on the couch and remained there the rest of the day and watched all the programs on all the channels. Hope you stole some time in between to go burst 100 walas and 1000 walas, pisssed off your neighbours and filled the entrance to your house with a respectable amount of paper kuppai (trash). That was my Deepavali. A mutton kurma for Deepavali cannot be any ordinary kurma. It needs to be extra special and extra decadent. And so you marinate the mutton in yogurt, fry the spices in ghee, cook the mutton in milk and finish off with coconut milk. This is the kind of breakfast that fills you up till dinner time. That is essential when you have a day full of TV programs you want to catch up with. You don’t want to get off the couch to prep lunch. I know this post should have come before Deepavali along with the Diwali promotions, Diwali Sale, the great Indian shopping festival in time for you to try this recipe for Deepavali. I know I am a bad blogger. Often, it’s the build-up to Deepavali that I enjoy even more than the day itself. I loved the deluge of Deepavali sweets and murukku on my facebook and instagram feeds. I love the food blogger spirit (not me), simple, cheery and optimistic. I was surprised though that nobody seemed to be posting the most important Deepavali mutton kurma. I wondered if it wasn’t as popular a tradition as I thought it was.  or  If mutton kurma eating south Indian bloggers are under represented in the blogging community.  or If it is an outcome of censorship. I’ve talked to a couple of people who said something like this “I’ve read some of your posts. Your writing is really good. Hmm.. yours is a non-vegetarian blog right? But, I am a vegetarian.” to which I’ve very naively replied “But I post a lot of vegetarian recipes too.. (In my mind thinking “Oh, don’t stop reading because of that, Maybe I should post more vegetarian recipes.. “).  However I don’t think I should try to change anything. I consider it my foremost duty to post the traditions and recipes that aren’t...

Double beans curry, Quinoa and roasted veggies

It’s been a long time. I hope you enjoyed the Navrathri school break. I may have enjoyed the holidays more than Hasini and Yuvan. When Yuvan woke up and realized he had to go to school, he whined and pleaded. I told him firmly he had to go to school. He had had a good break. He needed to get back to his routine. After their school van disappeared around the corner, I sat down with my cup of lemon and honey and mentally ran through my master list of excuses to not go to gym – “I needed a break” – I was already in one. “I was tired” – Not really “I was late. I didn’t have time” – Not applicable “I just didn’t feel like working out. I have to listen to my body” – This seemed most appropriate. So I went with it. I just didn’t feel like working out. I had to listen to my body. So I skipped gym. I sat sipping my drink thinking of what else I could get out of. The after-holiday blues are always so hard to fight off. I don’t want to cook. I don’t want to do the laundry. I don’t want to work out. I want to stay on the couch all day, undisturbed. Days like these I make my laziest meals. I hope to slowly get back into the grind. I have plenty of posts I planned to write and a host of de-cluttering to do around the house but never got around to. I am looking forward to breaking though the ennui and getting all of them done. Good luck to all of you in beating the post-holiday slow-down! The recipe I have today can easily be a lazy meal too if you remember to soak the double beans the previous night. Just dump everything in a pressure cook and cook until soft and your desired curry consistency. Serve over quinoa or hot steamed rice. Top with a fried egg if you want to up your curry and rice game. Serve hot. Enjoy!      
Dal Makhani

Dal Makhani

Hasini was doing subtraction the other day. She was puzzled and I impatient. She asked me if every time we borrowed, we borrowed only 1 and not more. I looked at her genuinely curious face. I felt sorry for being harsh. Yuvan meanwhile was singing “Dumka, A dumka, A dumka dumka dumka!” and writing the wrong spelling. The two giggled uncontrollably. I felt myself teetering between laughing and yelling. I couldn’t make up my mind which way to go. Many times I go berserk and hate myself for it. I will never understand how after dropping the bournvita on the floor, colouring the eraser black, drenching the AC remote, plotting with the thatha paati to secretly eat ice cream, losing the 3rd water bottle in 2 months and stapling together the pages of their rough book, they can look as innocent as they do when they sleep. A wave of guilt and remorse washes over me as I watch their sleeping faces, yuvi sleeps with half closed eyes, Hasini with her mouth slightly open, her arms under his head, he hugging his cheetah, his legs kicking her back. They take turns waking up during the night, to go to the toilet, to complain about the snake, the tiger, the skeleton; I pat them back to sleep without opening my eyes promising to slay them all. They insist they have to go “chuchi” and pat me to sleep and go to the toilet.  How and when do these little creatures grow up and what are the mothers to do then? Cut to morning 7:35 am I turn up the heat on the dal makhani, heat the dosa tawa and sprint to the fridge to get the dosai maavu (dosa batter) while Yuvan stands on the little stool in the kitchen tying his tie and asking what I am making for lunch. Hasini walks in with hair brush and hair bands in her hand for her ponytail, I ask her to wait, she stares out the kitchen door dreamily, Yuvan brings a bottle of milk from the fridge asking for a bournvita. He demands an answer, I tell him its Dal Makhani and Ghee rice, he kicks and screams that it is not what he wants, that it’s always Hasini’s favourites, I make a dosai, brush Hasini’s hair, take out the dosai, Hasini says it’s not her favourite either, I warn them...
Shakshuka

Shakshuka – The Muttai thokku of foreign origin

Hasini and Yuvi cracked up when they heard it’s called Shakshuka. They made up their own words out of it – “sokka pota suka”, “shoppu shappu”.. If you’ve never heard of Shakshuka, let me explain. Shakshuka is the mottai thokku of foreign origin. The muttai thokku (poached egg curry) that we make when we’re in a hurry, when we’re not in the mood to cut vegetables, when we’re craving a meaty dish but have nothing on hand and settle for an egg dish. Our humble muttai thokku is the sexy shakshuka of the western world. Like Haldi Doodh and Turmeric latte, Dal and lentil soup, kurma and curry, lassi and smoothie. Hasini loved the Shakshuka more than anyone else. Towards the end, I sprinkled some grated cheese over the eggs, covered the pan for a couple of minutes and let the cheese melt. We toasted some buttered bread slices and mopped up the Shakshuka with them. It made a delicious and filling breakfast. It’s also a great recipe to make for your next brunch.