Paneer cheese vegetable sandwich (Juice junction style)

I’ve taken it upon myself to teach Hasini one Tamil cinema song a week, every week until I find a music class for her. I want Hasini and Yuvi to appreciate good cinema and good music as much as I want them to appreciate good food. Born into a nil-music background family, but a bonafide cinema-crazy family Hasini needs to keep up. Do you remember those days there would be little cinema song booklets sold on road platforms that had the lyrics for every song in the movie. I don’t know if these are around still. I’d love to get my hands on some. My dad would collect those booklets, memorize the lyrics and sing along to the songs on the gramophone. I sing along to the radio in my car. I don’t want Hasini to just sing along to her i-pod. Hasini is the family’s only hope. Lately Hasini and Yuvi have been pouting “Let’s take a selfie pulla, give me a umma umma” which is kind of cute but I don’t know if her principal might approve of it. What if her principal is a “Thala” Ajith fan? I have a hard time picking songs that are appropriate for her. Ever since Hasini won the fancy dress competition in her school singing M.S Subbulakshmi’s “Kaatrinile varum geetham”, she has been singing that for every teacher in her school, every athai, paati, onu-vitte-mama, next-door aunty and postman. I want her to sing a wider variety of songs. I am no purist but I don’t want to teach her “Daddy mummy veetil illai” or “Katti pudi Katti pudi da”. If you have suggestions for good songs that she can learn please do let me know in the comments box at the bottom of the post. I’d really truly appreciate it. I’ve been mixing up her lunch too for a little variety. I sent her this paneer cheese vegetable sandwich yesterday hoping and praying that she’d eat it up and not bring back leftovers and embarrass me. Yeah, it is a very big deal.I opened her lunch box with nervous anticipation and peered inside.Just a few tomato slices. I was ecstatic. She told me later that she didn’t like the tomatoes but the sandwiches were good. I’ve wanted to re-create these sandwiches ever since I ate them at Juice-junction in Bangalore, which is a very very long time ago. I loved...
Beetroot rice

Beetroot Rice

Nobody will forget this beetroot rice at my house, ever. It will be part of family legend. Generations to come will talk about how some Jayanthi long back woke up one Monday morning blank and inspiration-less, stared at the vegetable drawer in the fridge for a full 5 minutes without registering anything, grabbed some beetroots, tomatoes and chillies, set out to make tomato rice and beetroot poriyal but along the way remembered She was a food blogger, She was making tomato rice every 4 days exactly and She owed it to the world to invent new food And then she made beetroot rice instead. And then all hell broke loose. No kidding. It didn’t help that I’d fallen asleep the previous night reading “GoodFood” magazine (No, even GoodFood didn’t come up with this ingenious recipe. GoodFood would never make “Beetroot rice”, they’d make arugula, bean sprouts & feta over couscous cooked in beetroot jus). If I ever write a book, you’ll read how this beetroot rice (almost) changed my life. For now I’ll just give you a hint – Joint family – new dish – cold shoulder – Kaboom!! Hey, before you think it sucks – this beetroot rice looks and tastes pretty. I had it for lunch and so did Hasini. Hasini liked it too. I chopped up the beetroots and cooked them in a spiced tomato puree which brought out the lovely colours – the pink of the beetroots and the red of the tomatoes coming together into a beautiful pink-red burst (whatever that’s called – Maroon? Coral?). I didn’t plan that really but I’ll take credit for it anyway. I cooked it down to a thickish curry that’ll coat the rice without being too runny. I’d suggest mixing up cooked (and cooled) rice and the beetroot mixture in small increments to attain your desired level of “mixing”. “Mixing” is as important for variety rices as it is for sarakku (alcohol). Too much curry mix can really kill the variety rice. Always tread on the lighter side. Serve the excess curry in a bowl for those who’d like to add more. And make sure to not cook the rice too soft. Since the beetroot rice shocker, I’ve not ventured past Idli-chutney, Idiyappam-soup and not to forget tomato rice-potato curry combinations restraining my creative side. It has been tough. What do you think of a ragu of fried onions...

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...

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...
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