Pesto paneer sandwich

Pesto paneer sandwich

When I hear some people complain that they’re too overwhelmed, that they’re overworked and super busy, I feel like Manick Basha caught amongst “Naanum rowdy thaan” rowdies. The real dons, the real rowdies, the worker bees go about their business like the professionals that they are. They don’t have the time nor the need to tell everyone how busy and important they are. I learnt though that this is not as obvious to the world. The world believes the “Naai Sekhars” more than “Manick Basha” or “Velu Naicker”. Strange world. When men tell me they’re too busy, I feel especially amused. Single men, you don’t even qualify. Really? You are busy whatsapping in the toilet for an hour, reading the paper, taking your own bath, dressing up yourself, eating, putting on shoes on your own but having somebody bring you your socks and going to work. By that standard, my 6 year old is overwhelmed and super busy too. What do ya call the mommies and wives who cooked two meals, packed several lunches, got the kids ready for school, made the morning coffees and teas, set up the washing machine, straightened up the house, did the morning poojai, bathed & dressed (nobody brought her socks or panties) and drove to work, worked all day, answered calls in between to tell folks where the cello tape is, where the cough syrup is, came back home, straightened up the home, cooked dinner, lost her temper during homework time and made up during bed time? I call them the real rowdies. The professionals. No snivelling, no complaining, no publicity, no projection. We simply get the job done. Next time some “Naai Sekhar” complains to you about how busy he is, remember who you are. Basha doesn’t go about telling people he is Basha, until it is time. Pesto Paneer sandwich I have an incredibly easy but flavour bursting pesto paneer sandwich recipe for all you real rowdies out there. Read on for the recipe.   The key to a good pesto is good olive oil and a generous amount of it. I love a good pesto (check out the pesto recipe here). I love it so much, I’d willingly slather it on toast, stir into stir fries and toss my pasta in it. I suddenly realized last week that I hadn’t made pesto in a long long time. I was in luck,...
Mocha kottai rice

Mocha kottai rice

You know the saying “Never try to buy the mother-in-law a gift”. Never try to buy the mother-in-law a surprise gift It’s something I forget from time to time, hopeful idiot that I am. I learnt long ago to keep the receipt intact whenever I am buying her a saree because she will one hundred percent want to go and exchange that. Somehow the one I’ve bought is the most wrong saree, the one saree she wouldn’t have picked from the entire store. She’ll take me along with her and ask my opinion on the saree she selects. By now I realize my role. I have to agree with her but pretend that it’s my opinion. I promise myself I will never buy her a saree for a gift, ever. I once buy her a saree and pitch it to her. I show her how it’s just like the one the woman wears in the advertisement, how it is a style and colour she doesn’t possess. She takes it and doesn’t ask to exchange it. I must be a natural at sales I begin to think. The next week, I see that her mother is wearing the saree I so neatly pitched. I promise again. For a recent birthday of hers, I take her to the saree shop and ask her to choose her gift. She chooses, I agree. She declares it’s one of the best sarees she’s received recently. I agree. You’d think I’d have everything sorted out now. It happens that I am a slow learner. Last week at the book store, I see a good collection of tamil books on alternative medicine. I immediately think of the maamiyaar, an avid acupuncture, reiki follower and pick up a couple of books on siddha medicine and home remedies. For a brief minute I see her enthusiastically taking the books and saying how useful they will be. I stand in line to pay for the books. I shake off my little reverie and see exactly what she’s going to say. I still go ahead and buy them. I tell myself that my intention is pure. I give her the books and I see zero surprise. I pretend to be unaffected and flip a few pages, pretending to read. I look down at the book and actually read a few home remedies because I don’t know what to say when I...
Easy, delicious and filling mocha kottai quesadilla

Mocha Kottai Quesadilla & some fun new year resolutions

Wish you all a very happy, healthy and peaceful new year! Hope you had a good holiday break! Harder than waiting for the holidays is getting back into the grind after the break. I usually spend the last day of the holiday entirely on worrying that the holiday is getting over. In fact I feel better the next day when I am back to the daily grind. I am that serious a worrier. I am sharing a super easy, yummy mocha kottai quesadilla recipe and some of my family’s new year resolutions. Lists, lots of lists When I am anxious I make lists. It’s my way of allaying fears and resolving uncertainties. I made plenty of lists and lists of lists. Among the many lists was a list of books to finish reading, list of recipes from cookbooks that I have to try and resolutions for the year. I also drew up a weekly timetable to designate some time for writing, reading and cheating on my diet. When I did an inventory of the books, I discovered that I had 15 books that I had yet to read. I immediately added a resolution to my resolution list to not buy another book until I finished reading these 15. I think it’s a really good exercise because it helps you quantify your backlog. You can then estimate how much effort and time may be involved in actually reading them all. You’ll most likely over-estimate. You may not complete all the books within your expected timeframe. But it’s a good start. Kids’ resolutions I am not sharing my resolutions this year because I have something more interesting to share – Hasini’s resolutions. I had Hasini and Yuvan write down their own resolutions too. Hasini really took to it and went on to write 30 resolutions. What you see here is a small excerpt of that. What I loved about their resolutions was that they were all quite simply about having fun and feeling happy and doing your thing. I also discovered a thing or two about their interests I wouldn’t have guessed earlier. I didn’t know Hasini was into juicing or sun news. One of yuvan’s resolutions was for me to play cars with him every day. I was touched. I immediately added that to my own list of resolutions. Do ask your kids to write down their resolutions, plans, aspirations for...
cabbage paratha

Cabbage paratha | A kindness Challenge

Tell me it’s normal to not want to read the newspaper because it makes you sad. If you’re here for just the cabbage paratha bit, please feel free to jump right down to the recipe. If you have a bit more time, please read on. I cried last week when I read the stories of the wives, mothers of fishermen from Kanyakumari who are waiting, praying for a miracle after cyclone Ockhi. They are fighting despair as each day passes, hoping that their loved ones would return alive somehow while also wondering how to make ends meet, how to explain to the little kids at home who are asking for their “Appa”, how to pay back the loan they took for the new boat, how to pay the school fees. I pray for all those families. I urge you to pray too, for them. I am a huge believer in the power of prayers. I think it can make a difference. It is hard to be kind Too often we underestimate the value of a kind act, a small prayer, a tiny favour. We’re doing these things so rarely these days because we’re very busy being enraged about the news. There’s rarely anything positive or happy in the news anyways. I can barely contain my despondency when I read about another rape, another hate crime, the lifelong court trials that suck the life out of the people before tilting in favour of the powerful. Add to that, the self-righteous, sweeping generalizations and twisted up narratives that people serve up on social media attacking their favourite people to hate. I don’t know if everyone has an Aadhar card, if everyone has a bank account. Everyone sure has a group they hate. Women, men, hindus, muslims, Christians, low-caste, high-caste, brahmins, devars, non-brahmins, Sanghis, Commies, Congis, Leftists, Thalapathy fans, Thala fans. It is hard to be optimistic. And precisely because it is so difficult, I think we need to try extra hard to stay hopeful, to be kind and to do good. Kindness, generosity and cheer are like muscles. We need to work them constantly so that we can put them to use when we need them most.   Goodness There was a friend in school who complained about being left out from the gang and acted up from time to time being frosty and even rude. I remember being miffed by the...
Rava Idli

Rava Idli

When I am moping, I lie in bed while my kids climb over me, I shut my eyes tight when Yuvan pries my eyes open. I hear Hasini echo my dad’s words – “You’re always late.” Back in the days when I was single, when I was free, I’d brood on the toilet seat for hours without visitors, knocks and questions – “why are you taking so long?”, “what are you doing?”, “Did you go out the window?” (That’s a good idea!). I’d lie in bed reading all day, sleeping in between, ransacking the fridge at midnight for something sweet, going back to bed to read. Chocolate soothes me. Reading drugs me. Those days, I like to eat Paal Saadam (Rice and milk). I feel comforted.   When I am stressed, when I am wound up and exhausted after a frenetic day of work, I want to eat Dominoes Pizza and coke. I want to eat biryani and thumbs up. I want my soda. I want sugar. I want cheese. I want chocolate. I want empty calories and Vadivelu comedy. When I am happy I want to eat Molagai bajji, chocolate cake and Lasagne. When I miss home, I yearn for idli, vadai, sambar and thengai chutney and Ilayaraja songs. I want paruppu rasam saadam and fried egg and Balachander movies. When I am angry, frustrated, I want Paneer soda and friends to hear my story. A small paper cup with watery canteen coffee would do too. When I am hungover, I want Jagan’s lemon soda in a dark room. When I am busy at my laptop, I have filter coffee by my side and Hasini combing my hair. I want pattani and uppu kadalai while watching TV. There are times when I make Rava idli. I make Rava idli every time my………………………………….. yogurt turns sour. Every single time I feel ingenious to be making rava idli instead of rava upma. I am terribly proud of my soft, tender rava idlis that I make from scratch. Rava idlis were one of the first things I made after my wedding. I’d make them from MTR’s rava idli mix. I’d make MTR rava idlis and coriander chutney and wait for the Maamiyaar to be impressed. I had no clue then that making them from scratch was just as easy. You’ll never go back to buying the readymade mix once you make these...

Lunch-Box Event Round-up

Did you notice how it’s un-characteristically pleasant here in Chennai (not counting the oppressive humidity just before the rains)? It’s been raining on and off the past week and even yesterday. Nothing like rain to lift the spirits. I really don’t understand these Brits always complaining about overcast skies. We love our rains. We celebrate rains. Our heroines wait for the rains to break into a dance (Oho Megam Vanthadho – Mouna Ragam – Classic, Vaan Megham – Punnagai Mannan – Another Classic. I love love this movie and every Balachander movie). Why not? If only I knew a few more moves, I’d dance too instead of land on my bum like l did last time trying to kick-splash some water on Chinnu. I’ve been busy doing nothing. I slept in the past couple of weeks because there was no Tennis class to wake up for. I’ve been lazy, not done much cooking or writing but I’ve been very very busy as well. I can be lazy and busy at the same time. Can you? I’ve now been packing Hasini’s lunch box for more than a month and I dare say I’ve mastered it. I’ve learnt a few neat tricks and a lot of cheat tricks along the way and I’ll share them on my blog for the benefit of other lazy moms. I really do think the “Lunch-box” topic is absolutely crucial for our economy and I need to have a dedicated space on Foodbetterbegood for this topic and I’ll update the space periodically. For starters I’ve rounded up some really yummy lunch box treats from several of my blogger friends in this post. This lunch-box theme of Kid’s Delight event (Srivalli‘s idea) happened in May this year. I’ll need to thank all my blogger friends who sent in their lunch box recipes to the event. Most of the recipes are now on my to-try list. I am sure they’ll become your kiddo’s favourites too. Steer away from the usual and give these recipes a shot. This lunch-box round-up includes all the usual kiddie favourites of noodles, grilled sandwiches and Thayir sadam plus a variety of variety rices, paniyarams and stuffed parathas. I hope these recipes inspire you to create some delicious lunch-boxes. After all, an empty lunch-box is the best compliment to lunch-packing moms. I hope these lunch-box ideas bring you lots of empty, licked clean lunch-boxes. Not to...

Another Monday and it’s Lemon rice and potato kari

Another Monday and I had to drag a whining Yuvi out of bed and into the shower, threaten him, cajole him and persuade him to wear his shorts and put on his shoes and go to school. He went from “sound asleep” to “distraught outburst” in seconds when he heard the word “School”. He couldn’t believe it was Monday already and he just couldn’t bear the thought of going to school and spending 3 hours among his bawling friends and harried teachers. He’s not yet accustomed to Mondays. I am not, after 30 odd years. I hate Mondays too as I do all working days, only more because it’s the start of many more working days to come. Hasini is more resigned to the inevitable and goes about getting ready looking dull and downcast. Hasini takes lunch to school these days. So lunch has to be readied before 8:30 am. Have you noticed that you oversleep when it’s raining or when it’s Monday? You don’t? Then it’s probably just me. I generally over-sleep and I was trying to find some pattern. But whatever it is, Monday lunch has to be quick and simple. You don’t want to fiddle around with koftas or vazhaipoo vadai on a Monday. Nothing like Lemon rice for a hustled, rushed Monday morning. As much as I deride Lemon rice, Lemon rice is what I turn to it when I am in trouble. Plus it is perfect for packed lunches. You know the cardinal rule of variety rices. If you don’t remember please go back and read it here. Variety rices must be accompanied by a heavy duty side dish or potato chips. So I made Potato kari to go with the lemon rice. This potato kari also features on my TamilNadu meals I made a couple of months back. Now I call this dry potato fry a “potato kari” for a reason. Did you notice that it is “kari” and not “curry”? This is an Iyer style potato fry, the way Tamil Iyers (Brahmins) make it using a kari powder (Recipe given below) and that’s how they call it. They (clue: I am not TamBrahm but I love their food) call vegetables “karikai” and their vegetable preparations as “potato kari”, “kathirikkai kari” and so on. There is no garlic, ginger or onion in this fry but it tastes fantastic with lemon rice or just plain...

Milagu Rice

To tell you the truth, variety rices make me angry. They’re depressing, especially if you carry packed lunches every day to school or office. At our home, Lemon rice will most definitely make an appearance every week, mostly Mondays when we’re rushed and unprepared for the work week. Rest of the days I find myself staring at Tamarind rice, Tomato rice or Karuveppillai rice in my lunch box. Variety rices may be okay on a couple of conditions (3 conditions, but anything more than one we call “a couple”). 1.      Either the side dishes are stellar enough to punch above the weight of the variety rice (what happens when you try to be a food-blogger and work full-time? – you use bullshit phrases in your writing and jot menu notes/ideas during calls) OR 2.      You’ve got potato chips (or my potato vathals). Anything tastes good with potato chips. OR 3.      You’ve got some variety in your variety rice. What I’ve got for you today is Milagu rice – a variety rice that is simple, super quick and tastes great. I love eggs. So I paired the Milagu rice with fried hard-boiled eggs and a mild beetroot poriyal. So there you have it – a little varied variety rice along with a solid side dish – my favourite fried hard-boiled eggs and a mild poriyal to complement the spice and heat. For dessert, I snucked in a few chunks of “Cadbury’s Dairy Milk” into my lunch box. There, much better than lemon rice and potato thokku. I am linking this milagu rice to my ongoing “lunch box” event. I am sure you have your own lunch box favourites too. Link them to the “Lunch box” event and you could win a pretty dual tone Tupperware lunch box giveaway! Prep time: 5 mins Cooking time: 10 mins Serves: 4 Ingredients Rice – 3 cups cooked Whole black peppercorns – 1 tsp Black gram/Urad dal – 3 tbsp Whole dry red chillies – 3-4 Salt to taste Mustard seeds – ¼ tsp Curry leaves – 2 stems Peanuts – 2 tsp (optional) Oil – 3 tbsp Ghee – 1 tsp Method 1.      Fluff up cooked rice and set aside to cool. 2.      Dry roast whole black peppercorns, urad dal and whole dry red chillies on low heat till the urad dal colours. Remove from heat and cool. 3.      Grind the roasted ingredients to a...

Potato Biryani and Vegetable Kofta – Kid’s Lunch Series

This month’s lunch box series is really close to my heart. I love packing lunches and I take it very seriously. Whenever I pack Jagan’s lunch I make sure to not repeat, to not pack wet food (that sounds like dog food but I actually meant – sambar rice, kuzhambu rice and the likes), to not include exotic non-veg food (to not hurt the noses and sensibilities of his vegetarian friends), to include a dessert or a drink and to pack them tightly. There was still the one time when his Lassi spilled all over his lunch bag and he reeked of yogurt. But mostly I am careful. With so many donts to packed lunches, it is a daunting task planning lunch every day. And to think that come June (Hasini would start carrying lunch to school), I’d have to get everything cooked, packed and ready to go by 7:00 am (that’s when I wake up, nowadays it is even worse), I’d have to be super-efficient and extraordinarily prepared. If I do manage it pull it off, it will be a new chapter in my life – The chapter where I finally wake up early, where I am on time for things. My kids enjoy biryanis and potatoes. They’re children of this “mass biryani everywhere for everything” generation. They’re disappointed if a banquet doesn’t include biryani. At weddings, birthdays, Hasini asks the waiter why biryani is not there. I made a potato biryani a couple of weeks back but used Seeraga Samba rice for a change instead of the regular Basmati rice. Seeraga Samba is short grained, thin and aromatic and is used in the popular Thalappakattu Biryanis. I made vegetable koftas to go with the potato biryani. Vegetable koftas are not the kind of things you’d want to do on a weekday morning. Just prepare ahead. I like to boil, mash vegetables, season them, shape into balls and roll them in bread crumbs and then refrigerate them the night before. Meaning I just don’t fry them but ready them to that stage. The next morning I just shallow fry them and they’re done. I tried to get creative, sticking in a couple of cloves for eyes and making ketchup smiles for the kofta balls to make them look like little chickens sitting on a bed of coriander leaves. They found it  amusing. I will stop when Hasini or Yuvi...

Lunch Box series – Kids Delight Event and a pretty Giveaway!

I am delighted and quite frankly nervous hosting the “Kid’s Delight” event this month that runs from May 16th to June 15th. The “Kids Delight” event is the brainchild of Srivalli, author of Spicingyourlife and Cookingforallseasons. The Kids Delight event is all about foods that kids will love to eat. The theme this month is Lunch-box. There is nothing more interesting to me than planning lunch boxes. I am on a mission to compile everybody’s lunch box favourites in one place and I am looking to you guys – readers and bloggers for recipes, ideas, tips and tricks for this Kids lunch box theme. There is a giveaway too! My closing thoughts every night before I doze off are of food – breakfast and most importantly lunch box. You want to know what moms think (maybe you don’t). “What do I pack for lunch tomorrow?” That’s the number one thing on my mind and most other moms’ minds. Starting June, Hasini would be carrying lunch to school too. I’d better get my act together. I am already amassing a small “lunch-box museum” worth of different types of lunch boxes so that I have back-up when the regular box is dirty and mainly because I am a “dabba” fanatic. In Keeping with the “dabba” theme, the giveaway is a stylish slim dual coloured Tupperware lunch box that can fit into schoolbags or handbags even. I love the purple and pink colours of this box. To win this pretty lunch box, all you have to do is send in your best lunch-box recipes to me by e-mail (just mail me the link to your post). or by linking to the linky tool at the bottom of the page. The winner will be selected at random from all the entries. A storehouse of lunch box recipes would be invaluable to harried moms who are at their wits ends deciding what to pack for their little gourmets. The rules of this event are simple: 1.      The event runs from 16th May to 15th June. You can send in your “lunch-box” entries (any number of them) anytime during this period. Link them using the linky tool below or just e-mail me (foodbetterbegood.jayanthi@gmail.com) the link to your post.  2.      You’ll have to link to this page and Srivalli’s page in your post. 3.      Archived posts are also accepted (again no cap on number of posts). However, you’ll have to update...
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