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 quartered 200 gm Baby corn, sliced diagonally into 1 inch pieces 1 capsicum, sliced into large pieces 1 Onion, sliced into large pieces 1/2 cup peas 1 large tomato pureed 2 cups cups Coconut milk Salt to taste 1/4 tsp Turmeric powder 1-1/2 tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder 1 tsp Cumin powder 1/2 tsp Sugar 1 tsp Kasoori methi 3 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 quartered 200 gm Baby corn, sliced diagonally into 1 inch pieces 1 capsicum, sliced into large pieces 1 Onion, sliced into large pieces 1/2 cup peas 1 large tomato pureed 2 cups cups Coconut milk Salt to taste 1/4 tsp Turmeric powder 1-1/2 tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder 1...
Paavakkai crisps

Paavakkai crisps | Bittergourd chips

I am getting all tangled up trying to put down what exactly I want to do in the new year. My first line is about cleaning the combs and hair-brushes regularly, my second one is about writing a book and the third one is cooking a new vegetable every week. My canvas encompasses my home, the beings in it, the dust on the windows, writing a book, losing weight, worrying about all the plastic… I am mixing up things on so many levels, it makes my head spin. So I decided to take each area of interest and write down a list of resolutions for each. So I’ll start with my favourite place – the kitchen. These are my kitchen resolutions I will cook one new/rarely cooked vegetable a week. I plan to fast once a week or go on an all-fruit diet one day a week depending on my mood that week. I have seen enough whatsapp forwards to believe that fasting is good for the body and lemons can cure cancer. I will use up my exotic ingredients before I buy more exotic ingredients. I have some un-identified millets, a pack of phool makhana, a big jar of shrimp paste among many other things. I’ll plan the weekly menu every Sunday so that I am prepared through the week and we’re not forced to order in. I don’t want to deal with all those plastic containers and plastic covers. I will be more patient while frying onions and waiting for the oil to separate from the masala. It makes a lot of difference. I’ll try to cut down the sugar in my coffee and Horlicks, but I don’t promise anything. I will try a little harder to seek out the plumpest seetapazham (sitaphal / custard apple), the sweetest sapota (chikku), the best long-grained basmati rice. Many times, the big chain stores don’t have the best produce. The paati at the market has the freshest greens. I am going to try buying produce anywhere I see them like my maamiyaar. She will stop on a highway, on a jammed road and walk into unknown farms to get her hands on fresh fruits and vegetables. I’ve never bought Paavakkai before because I could not process that much of bitterness. I hadn’t devised a way to make it better. Until now. On a recent shopping trip, I thought I needed to...
Aloo gobi roti

Aloo Gobi roti

It’s December already and I am seeing lots of 2018 lists all around– the best celebrity weddings of 2018, the worst fashion trends, best movies of 2018, the most trending hashtags on twitter and so on. I am tempted to make my own lists. I am amazed at all the things that seem just the same this year as they were last year and the year before and before that. Here is a list of things that haven’t changed this year. HDFC bank guys called me every day in 2018 just like they called me every single day in 2017 asking if I wanted a personal loan or credit card. I am basically a kind person so I don’t snap at them. I tell them I am not interested when I hear “HDFC”. But not yelling makes me super furious. I’ve therefore come to not pick up calls from unknown numbers. I’ve then had to explain myself to many an Amazon delivery guy for not picking up the phone. I still wake up 1 hour before the school van arrives. I go 15 minutes late to the 1 hour yoga class. Everybody at the gym is the same size I saw them last year. Strangely I’ve never met the weight-loss achievers on the pin-up board. All the books I intended to read this year are still unread. I am somewhere in the middle in each of them and I’ve forgotten what I’ve read so far. I make a list of the outstanding books to read and promptly misplace the list. I can’t resist the books I come across. I strategize that if I buy an interesting enough book and read it fully, that will give me the momentum to finish the rest of the books. I fall asleep on the 5th page. I’ve not acted as Vijay’s akka. I’ve not lost 10kilos yet. I am still paying EMIs. Overall I’d say it’s been a good year. I hope you had a great 2018 too. What was just the same for you this year? I’d love to hear. Please feel free to share in the comments. The recipe I am going to share with you today is a simple Aloo gobi roti, a kind of all-in-one dish. This Aloo Gobi roti is not a stuffed roti. In a stuffed roti, there is the possibility that your stuffing is not evenly distributed...
Methi biryani

Methi Biryani

Every restaurant, juice shop, or roadside frankie stall I go to, there’s already a couple of Swiggy and Zomato guys ahead of me. I see them at every traffic light. On the road, there’s always one of them behind me who is trying to overtake me from the wrong side. When I step out on the balcony I see one of them zip past my house. What are the odds? But the one I am waiting for always goes to my neighbour’s house instead. I then provide all my id proof details to persuade him that I am the rightful owner of that biryani. We’re not cooking as a people, I conclude. What’s happening?! I find that disturbing. This is one of those small, innocuous little changes that just happen and seem perfectly reasonable but are actually harbingers of a much bigger shift. It can’t seem right that we’re cooking less and less at home. We may well forget how to cook. There’s nothing more tragic. Cooking is a life skill. Jagan believes checking the car’s coolant, changing a punctured tyre and cleaning the AC filter are important life skills too. We agree to disagree. Cooking is zen. Cooking is power. Cooking is freedom.   I know I can make biryani if I was tempted by all the Bhai biryani but I had no muslim friends to give me Biryani. I know I can make Thai green curry if I really wanted it. I need not eat Pongal if everyone else in the family loves it but I hate it. I can make myself a sandwich instead. Note that this is not applicable if you’re in a joint family. You’re screwed. I am eating healthier. I am eating fresher. I am also avoiding all that plastic packaging that comes with home-delivered food. Cooking is work. It has taught me patience and compassion. I am more understanding now when my mother’s vadai is not as fluffy one day, when the hotel’s tiffen sambar is less stunning today than last time, when my own biryani is ear-shattering hot this time. There’s nothing more fulfilling, more soul-satisfying than a sitting down to a favourite home-cooked meal. Yes, it’s a little work but so worth it. I know what you’re thinking in your minds. “Then why do you order on Swiggy and Zomato?” I try my best not to. Sometimes I need to. And...