Thai yellow curry

Thai yellow curry

I love me my Thai curry. Jarred curry pastes just won’t do. I always make mine from scratch. I of course don’t have the authentic ingredients – Galangal ginger, kaffir lime leaves & birds eye chillies. Like a good Indian, I adjust.
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 Eggs1 Small Onion, chopped fine3 Green chillies, chopped fine1 Small...
Nagoor chicken curry

Nagoor Chicken curry

You can never have too many curry recipes in your repertoire. You’ll need all of them plus more. This curry is absolutely breathtaking – perfectly rounded flavours and fragrant from the freshly ground whole spices.
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...
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...
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 rice1 cup fresh green peas1 Onion chopped fine2 Green chillies chopped fine1/2 tsp Mustard seeds1/2 tsp Turmeric powderSalt to taste1 lemon, juiced2 tbsp oil1/2 cup fresh coriander leaves, chopped Prep Time 5 minutes Cook Time...
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...