Cauliflower chops

Cauliflower chops | Saravana Bhavan style

I suffer from what I call the “adjacent table dilemma” (pakkathu table dilemma) in restaurants. Let me explain. I am at Saravana Bhavan. I am torn between ghee roast and mini idli sambar. Others have made up their minds. I am struggling. Idli is classic. But ghee roast is always a restaurant special. Piping hot tiffen sambar tips me towards idlis. But the sheer amount of fragrant ghee beckons me the other way. I am not sure if I want to go the slurpy route or the crispy crunchy route. The waiter has come back for the second time. I have to get it right. Jagan glares at me. Me: “If I order two tiffens will you share with me?” Jagan: “No” Me: “What do you suggest for me – mini idli or ghee roast” Jagan: “Mini idli” I turn to the waiter and say “Ghee roast” Jagan again glares at me. We wait for the dishes to arrive. The ghee roast arrives crispy, golden and crunchy heady with the aroma of ghee. I feel convinced I’ve made the right decision. When I am about to pop the first piece of dosa into my mouth, Idiyappam and Cauliflower chops arrives at the adjacent table. It looks like the best combination of steamed goodness and fragrant masala. I want that. I am back to scene one. It was Idiyappam and Cauliflower chops that I’d wanted all along. It looks like I should also discuss with the adjacent table folks before I order. I came back home with a longing for the adjacent table’s Idiyappam and cauliflower chops that wouldn’t go away. The next week I decided to rectify things. I made Idiyappam and cauliflower chops at home. I don’t trust myself to order right at restaurants. I am a fan of the cauliflower chops at Saravana bhavan. It is this incredibly fragrant, rich luscious gravy that is cooked to perfection. This cauliflower chops is in between a kurma and a regular onion-tomato gravy. It’s a hybrid. This cauliflower chops is also great with Chappathis. I attempted the cauliflower chops and I am happy to say I got almost 90% there. I am sure it won’t disappoint you. Do try and let me know how you like it! Enjoy! If you liked what you read, you can like Foodbetterbegood on facebook and instagram to get all the updates. You can also subscribe...
Pepper chicken fry

Pepper chicken fry

How do your weekends go? I am so far behind the whole of the work week, that it’s usually Sunday noon by the time I’ve caught up with all the backlog – shopping for the week’s groceries, vegetables and fruits, sorting them all, putting away the week’s worth of laundry, oiled and shampooed our hair, de-cluttering a few random places in the house that particularly irk me and pretending not to see the rest. In between we drop kids in classes 5 minutes late. Sundays I take a break from gym, no matter what. I take a break on Sundays even if I’ve not gone to the gym the rest of the days.   After I’ve shopped for a truckload of produce, picked the keerai leaves, bagged vegetables, prepped the coriander leaves and jam-packed my fridge, I am so exhausted I want to eat out. We eat out at-least one of the weekend meals. If we have some free time, we pick an argument. We then wake up on Monday thankful and looking forward for the work week. After a week of short-cut meals, cheat meals, leftovers, one pot meals and maggi I make sure to make something special for Sunday lunch. One particular Sunday, I made this Pepper chicken fry that I had bookmarked from Sabitha Radhakrishna’s book “Annapurni”. It’s a keeper – both the book and the recipe. This pepper chicken fry is reminiscent of military hotel pepper chicken fry or chicken chukka as it is colloquially called. It’s tender, coated with a flavour bursting fiery masala and melt in the mouth delicious. This can be served as a side with steamed rice, biryani or ghee rice. It’s a wonderful recipe to make for dinner parties. It’s not too much effort but is sure to wow your guests. Do make this pepper chicken fry! Enjoy! If you like what you are reading, subscribe to foodbetterbegood, like foodbetterbegood’s facebook page or follow my instagram page.      
Sathu Maavu Adai

Sathu Maavu Adai & Tomato Thokku | What’s your happy song?

I know the song I’ll dance to if I reach my goal weight. I know where I’d shop for what when I reach my goal weight. I know the neck patterns I want for my new saree blouses. I know I won’t post before & after pictures because I’d want to pretend that I was never fat. I’ll probably try to spin a series on how I lost all that weight. I may try to shoot a video doing push-ups. The entire plan is there. I just need to lose the weight. It’s the same song I’ll dance to if I am published. It’s my happy song. You have your own happy song too, don’t you? Come on. You don’t? Everyone has to have one. Think of one right now. You never know when you’ll need your happy song. Your child may get selected in Vijay TV super singer in which case you’ll get hired as a full time performer at Vijay TV. You’ll need a song and a few steps for your sarakku party/booze party. You’ll need to dance at the cousin’s/friend’s wedding; if you do well you could be an extra in their wedding music video. Want to know my happy song? Here it is (Tap the image below for the full video). I love it because it seems just like how I’d dance if I were happy – uncomplicated, comfortable, unbelieving of my luck, insanely grateful, crazy happy and in a lungi. What’s your happy song? Let me know in the comments. Here’s the long pending update on my weightloss journey – Project50k. I’ve been yo-yoing around a 1 kilo range for several months now with the end nowhere in sight. I decided to up the ante a bit and try something adverse this week – A week full of salad lunches. I am not a salad person. I am actually a biryani person. I know there are people who claim to be salad people. I do not believe anyone can be a salad person deep inside, in their heart. For me it is particularly difficult. I don’t believe I’ve ever ordered a salad in a restaurant. It always seemed ridiculous to me. I’ll however be eating salads all this week. I’ll let you know how it goes. Meanwhile here’s an easy-peasy Sathu Maavu adai recipe I tried last week. I am sure you’ve made ragi adai...
Enchilada salsa verde

Enchilada Salsa Verde

One of my favourite scenes in the movie “Sindhu Bhairavi” is the one where J.K.B (played by Sivakumar) calls his wife (played by Sulochana) a “gnanasoonyam” because she ran her mixie on full throttle when he was passionately listening to music. Stung by his words, Bhairavi sniffles “Will Lata Mangeshkar make paruppu podi for you?” J.K.B feels even more contempt for his ordinary wife. I love this scene because it is beautiful and brutal and honest. On seeing this scene, if you pity Bhairavi for being a simpleton, you are just being a kinder J.K.B but still a chauvinist. If you see the simple truth in Bhairavi’s words you’ll realize that if the wives, mistresses, mothers did not make them their paruppu podi when they were travelling, if they did not remember to pack their jattis and lungis, if they did not steal the jeans away for washing once a month, if they did not pack their lunches, if they did not deal with homework, dinner and emails while they caught up on matches and Sunny Leone on whatsapp, if they did not remind them about their mother’s birthdays and anniversaries, if they did not fuss about making the dosai just the way they want it – crispy or browned on one side only, then the J.K.Bs will realize they don’t have the veshti for the kutchery, their stomach’s upset from eating out and they’ve run out of jattis. And if only women practice less perfection, women may finally find some time to listen to music, read the paper and have a conversation with a friend. I have tons of things I’ve been meaning to share on the blog here but haven’t got around to – Project50k (my weightloss journey), my trip to kodaikanal, a few stellar recipes I tried over the last few weeks and plenty of big small things. I’ll share these on the upcoming posts. Enchilada Salsa Verde I have a scrumptious enchilada recipe to share today. I knew I wanted to make Enchilada salsa verde when I saw lovely plump green tomatoes in the grocery store. I made a large portion of salsa verde that I used for this recipe. I still have a jar of leftover salsa sitting in my fridge. I took the lazy route to making this salsa as you would have come to expect from me. I didn’t roast the veggies. I...
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...
Paneer fried rice with kerala style matta rice

Paneer fried matta rice

You’ve woken up late, want to pee but you’re late, so you hold it in and wake up the kids pleading and threatening in turns, switching off the fan, rushing to the fridge and then to the kitchen, all the while shrieking to make sure the kids are in the bathroom, shifting from one foot to another, prepping the veggies, washing the dal, pouring batter into the idli plates, calling out to check that they’re bathing and not sleeping by the bucket or water-fighting, setting the pressure cooker on the stove and looking to steal a few mins to go to the bathroom but one of them demands to know the lunch and the other can’t find the tie and by the time you’ve sorted that, you need to check on the vegetables, you remove the hot idli plates from the gundaan and tie her ponytails while the idlis cool, you pack the lunch, give them a plate of idlis to share, change from the nighty into the shabbier three-fourth pants, slip on someone else’s slippers and walk across to the bus stop, help them into the school van, wave bye, walk back home, check the stove to make sure everything is switched off, go to the bathroom and lock yourself in and sit on the toilet, close your eyes in a kind of accomplished relief and you hear through the bathroom door – “Where is the towel”? It’s as if somebody has snatched my award-winning moment from me. I therefore believe mothers tend to have greater holding capacity. I also believe bathroom doors need to be sound proof. The bathroom is the last refuge, my me-time of the day, my meditation space and I want no interruption there. It’s my Mount Everest. “Every mommy needs a sound proof bathroom”   You’ll love this Healthy twist to fried rice – Paneer fried matta rice Everyone needs to make this paneer fried matta rice to believe how tasty matta rice can be. Kerala matta rice is a kind of red rice popular in Kerala and Karnataka. The uncooked rice grains are brown coloured. Once cooked they turn white with thin red streaks. They’re chewy, nutty and incredibly filling. This paneer fried matta rice is an ingenious way to include a healthy alternative rice into your diet. You get to relish your favourite paneer fried rice sans the guilt. This rice takes...
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...
chocolate cherry cake

Dark chocolate cherry cake | A thank you note

Cake making is always a serious affair for me. I approach it with fear, anxiety and nervousness. I have slightly more confidence than I had a few years back but I am still a nervous wreck when I have a cake to be made. I recently made this Dark chocolate cherry cake with whipped cream and chocolate toppings for Hasini’s birthday party. I must say, I outdid myself. The recipe itself is unbelievably simple and fuss-free, it’s very hard to go wrong. That this simple and unassuming a recipe yields such a wondrously moist, deep chocolatey cake makes me wonder why I’ve separated eggs, beaten them separately & folded them gently in the past. I doubled the chocolate cake recipe from Bakingamoment site. It is a keeper. Lesson: A more complicated recipe is not necessarily a finer one. Sometimes a simple one is just as good or even better. Keep it simple.   Don’t be put off by the number of components to this cake. They’re each quite simple on their own. Together they make a beautiful Dark chocolate cherry cake that’s perfect for a birthday, a celebration or a special occasion. Here are some images from the birthday celebrations. We had a cooking theme birthday party. Hasini and her friends made their own pizzas and decorated sugar cookies with royal icing. My Mamiyaar stitched custom aprons for all the kids. These aprons were the birthday favours. The kids wore these aprons while working on their pizza and cookies. Yuvan, the lone boy wore the blue apron.   The party menu was short and simple – pizza that the kids made, Dark cherry chocolate cake, French fries and ice cream. I used my mandolin slicer to make short work of about 3 kilos of potatoes, fried them and froze them a day before the party and then fried them just before serving time. The kids relished the pizza more than usual because they had made them with their own hands. I hadn’t thought of that but was glad it worked out that way. You know how our women always head to the kitchen in the host’s house to help, to offer a lending hand, to ease the pressure. I always loved that solidarity. As a mommy who has successfully conducted another kid’s birthday party I have a thank you note to read. I need to thank all the women who...
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...
Chicken cutlet, easy make ahead party appetizer

Chicken cutlet

After “EPIC” being used to describe the most non-epic everyday things – the morning omelette, the bun from the tea kadai, discounted buffet spread with the groupon coupon, the 127th selfie against the brick wall, your new haircut, the son’s first drawing of an elephant that actually looks like a car, three friends meeting at the coffee shop, the family wedding that others don’t really care about except to see if you’re fat too and the dress you ordered online that looks nothing like Deepika Padukone’s outfit, I don’t know anymore what people intend when they say “EPIC”. Then what are Mahabharata and Ramayana? I thought those were EPICS. My most hated word of 2017 It shows a certain laziness, an unwillingness to look for the right word, and an almost obnoxious need for attention. I thought “awesome” was overused and irritating. But “EPIC” has surpassed that. “EPIC” is my most hated word of 2017. What words do you think are most over-used? Which are the ones you can’t stand. Let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear. The new year is coming up fast along with plenty of holidays and parties. If you need a delicious make-ahead party snack, look no further than this chicken cutlet(try these chicken vadai too). This chicken cutlet recipe will come in extremely handy as it ticks all the boxes for a good party appetizer – it is absolutely lip-smacking, it is crunchy and deep fried and it is 90% make ahead – you can make these days ahead and freeze them and fry them up before your party. Make Chicken Cutlets if you want to feel sophisticated Hasini and Yuvan absolutely dig these chicken cutlets. They ate these all week. I loved the feeling of having read-to-fry cutlets in the fridge. It made me feel all sophisticated and prepared and in-charge of things when I really wasn’t any of that. If you want to feel sophisticated, make these chicken cutlets and stove them away in your fridge. Let me know how it feels later on. Just try not to say “EPIC”.  
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