Paneer kothu chappathi

Paneer kothu chapathi

I am a big believer of signs. Last week, one morning I woke up singing “Oru poongavanam”. I set up the Bose Soundlink on the kitchen counter and played the song on repeat while I cooked. I let the onions blacken busy singing and mimicking the swimming action in the song. I had to drop off the kids at their grandma’s house before work. I switched on the radio and what song does it play? “Oru poongavanam pudhu manam…” We looked at each other open mouthed. It was a sign. It definitely was a sign. A sign of what I didn’t know but it was a sign. I sang to it in the car delighted. Only the previous day I felt like nothing was going my way, that I wasn’t doing things right. Then god plays my mind-song on radio to tell me I am doing fine. The traffic light turning to green as soon as you reach the junction, waking up early when you have to, you think you’re looking pretty and someone compliments you on how pretty you’re looking, a selfie that turns out to your liking, somebody brings you food, somebody buys you ice cream, somebody has a tablet when you have a headache.. are all good signs. Hasini has a great knack of finding out when I’ve upcycled something and I do a lot of that because I hate seeing food go waste. I don’t usually tell them because I don’t trust them to be open minded about it. Hasini makes sure to find out and announce it to everyone. This Paneer kothu chapathi however went down well with everyone. It’s super quick to put together if you have leftover chapathis or rotis in your or parathas in your fridge. You can use even the hardest, stiffest of your old rotis in this recipe. The liquid in the recipe helps soften your rotis just enough and the oil adds the delicious fried taste to it. You can add in scrambled eggs, cooked shredded chicken, peas, chopped carrots or anything else you fancy. I happened to have paneer so I made paneer kothu chapathi.  Make it your own. Don’t let another old chapathi go waste. Print Recipe Paneer kothu chapathi Delicious kothu chapathi to make the best use of your leftover rotis/chapathis! Course main Cuisine Indian Prep Time 10 minutes Cook Time 10 minutes Servings 3 people...
Masala omelette

Masala Omelette

I was wondering the other day what men would do if they had periods too, if they menstruated too. Don’t for a minute think I am talking about Sabarimala or any of that macro stuff. I was only thinking about what a big fuss they’d be making if they were to have periods. It’s a universally known fact that men suffer from vicious, body racking diseases like COLD, COUGH and HEADACHE which strangely don’t seem to affect women that much. It takes the loving care and constant attention of the entire family for adult grown men to recover from a cold – tablets, steam inhalation, Vicks vaporub, Kashayam and only hot water for drinking. Now imagine what these men would do if they were on their period. First of all, it won’t be a secret. Men will have pads in their back-pocket. Sanitary pads will be available in tea kadais and corner bunk shops. They’ll go with friends to change pads just like they go for a fag. Even better, they’ll call in sick. They’ll sit inside their leaf pandhal (enclosure) with their phones in hand all day while their mommies serve them refreshments from time to time. They’ll share jokes and memes on periods. Managers will enquire sagely about their painful period when they return to work and men will explain in great detail the pain they endured. During periods sometimes I have zero energy and don’t feel like cooking. Those days I just need to know there are eggs in the fridge. Last week was one such period. There was little else in the fridge other than eggs and a lone tomato. The signs were clear. I needed to make Masala omelette and take it easy. You can make this masala omelette as fancy as you want – add in chopped mushrooms, capsicum or grated cheese. This masala omelette will be delicious any which way you choose to make it. You need not be on your period to make it. Serve alongside toast, softened butter and ginger tea if you will. Now that’s one easy, yummy breakfast no one can pass up. Enjoy! Print Recipe Masala Omelette This masala omelette will be delicious any which way you choose to make it! Course main Cuisine Indian Prep Time 5 minutes Cook Time 10 minutes Servings 2 people Ingredients 3 Eggs 1 Small Onion, chopped fine 3 Green chillies, chopped...
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...
Ragi dosai

Ragi Dosai

Exams over, a wonderful next week that looks rosy and peaceful with no-homework evenings and with tickets to 3 of the 4 movies released this week, I am tempted to sing “Idhu podhum ennaku, Idhu podhume. Vera yenna vendum idhu podhume…!” I saw Seethakathi this morning. I loved the movie.  One down, three more to go. I need to give a little bit of background before I plunge into the story I am going to share with you. Watching cinema is serious business around here. A Friday night movie is what wraps up a week for me. I drive bordering on reckless just so I don’t miss the opening “S” “U” “P” “E” “R” “S” “T” “A” “R”. I have no courtesy and I don’t wait for late-comers. I won’t give them a recap of the story so far. I make my kids go multiple times to the bathroom before we leave for the theatre so that they won’t disturb me during the movie. I don’t talk during the movie. Now that you have the background, here’s what happened. I went for a mid-morning show of Seethakathi which was half-empty. A big group of young girls and guys, likely college students were seated in the front rows. The movie was starting. As groups of guys and girls this age are wont to do, they were trying very hard and very loud to impress each other. I thought they were settling into their seats. Let’s give them a few minutes. The guys made a lot of loud un-funny jokes. The girls giggled excessively. We were well into the movie. I hoped they’d stop now. In the next 2 minutes maybe. I couldn’t hear the dialogue. Last chance – one more minute. That is it! I marched out to find the theatre staff. I told him if he didn’t tell them to shut up, I would. He promised to address the problem. I went back to my seat and waited. Two of the theatre staff walked down to the front rows and spoke to the guys and girls seated there. He told them that if they didn’t keep quiet he’d have to throw them out. Even better I thought. The group were offended that they would be “thrown out”. They argued with the theatre staff for a bit and the whole group then walked out in protest. Success! It’s surprising to me...
Peas Poha upma

Peas poha upma

It’s that time of the year in Chennai when everyday is a potential school holiday. Give one holiday and we’re spoilt. We keep checking the news and whatsapp groups for a holiday announcement every day after that. For me, a school holiday means an extra hour of sleep, so that I start cooking late and I am late to office by the same amount of time that I am late on school days. I am consistent that way. I feel vulnerable when I am out of idli maavu (idli/dosa batter). It’s like you’re at a function and nobody seems to notice you and you don’t have your phone, so you can’t act busy. You could have scrolled through your empty whatsapp chat and looked at people’s profile pictures. Now you’re forced to look at people, half-smile because it’s not clear if they’re smiling at you. You end up making conversation with some aunty next to you and realize it’s not so bad after all. You realized you’re not as anti-social as you thought you were. Only when I am out of idli maavu do I explore other tiffen possibilities. I quite enjoy the different tiffens that I come up with and I am surprised I didn’t try these more often. One of those days, I made Peas poha with the leftover Aval (poha) from Krishna Jayanthi. I like my poha on the chewier side, so I don’t cook it too long. If you like it softer, you can sprinkle a little bit of water and cook a little longer. This Poha Upma is infinitely customizable. I skipped the usual boiled potatoes because I wanted to cut down the carbs. Instead I added peas. You could add sweet corn or paneer or anything else you fancy. You can add some grated ginger for extra zing. You can add fried cashews for extra interest. Make it your own. It’s infinitely easy and is full of fresh, yummy flavours. Enjoy! Print Recipe Peas poha upma Peas poha upma is infinitely easy and is full of fresh, yummy flavours. Enjoy! Prep Time 5 minutes Cook Time 5-8 minutes Servings 3-4 people Ingredients 4 cups Poha / Aval / Flattened rice 1 cup fresh green peas 1 Onion chopped fine 2 Green chillies chopped fine 1/2 tsp Mustard seeds 1/2 tsp Turmeric powder Salt to taste 1 lemon, juiced 2 tbsp oil 1/2 cup fresh...
Curd rice

The trick to making the creamiest, just tangy enough Curd rice

Now as soon as I say that the recipe I am going to share today is Curd rice, I can imagine Maamiyaars and Gayathris in families (gossip-specialists & critics in families) turning up their noses. They’d compare me with their daughter, themselves, their maid or that horrible character in the TV serial (Indian TV serials have only 2 types of characters – saccharine good & perfect or deviously bad & empty) and profile me as the lazy woman who makes a big deal of a simple curd rice. I believe every dish, however simple can be exquisite or bleh. A fried egg is simple. It can also be the most beautiful thing – lacy slightly browned edges, soft set whites holding a jiggly yolk with a smattering of freshly ground pepper. Or it could be something else. I also do not believe the single recipe dish. There are always numerous ways to make a dish. I am always on the lookout to make a dish better, to put a different twist on it, to make it easier or quicker. My complaint with curd rice was always that it was either too runny or too thick and lumpy. It did not stay the way it was packed. By lunch time, it would have transformed into something else. Sometimes the curd rice turned too sour. If I tried to control the tang by adding too little curd, it tasted too flat. The rice had to be soft too – not pureed in a mixie, baby food kind of mash but pongal kind of creamy soft. The one trick I am going to share today will solve all your curd rice problems, I promise. Cook rice in a pot of water till it is cooked through and the rice grains are full length. Then add milk and cook the rice in milk until creamy and soft and pongal like. This step makes all the difference. Cooking the rice in milk ensures that the rice remains creamy, luscious and soft. The milk also offsets the tang in the curd brilliantly to make it just as tangy enough as you want it. Towards the end when you’re tasting and adjusting the seasoning, feel free to add in a spoon of curd or milk to achieve your right amount of tang. There is no right or wrong here. Since the rice has already absorbed a lot...