Deep Fried Love

So some of you might have read that Anita's A Mad Tea Party is celebrating its first anniversary. If you haven't then you need to head on over and read two excellent posts where she rants writes about moderation and how we define ourselves by what the latest food and fashion trends are. Anita wants us all to make puri bhaji. Deep fried love. I will. I promise. It's just that I had plantains that were threatening to ripen and I really wanted to make tostones, with an Indian twist. And, it is deep fried!

Tostones (Plantain chips)

My Puerto Rican friend introduced me to tostones last year. Until then, I was clearly a plantain-hater. My exposure to plantains was fried ripe plantains and those, in my book, were simply awful. The only other thing that was more awful was cooked ripe bananas, kela nu shaak.

Plantains are larger than bananas and have a thicker and fibrous skin. The fruit at the very top in the picture below is a regular banana. Next is the green unripe plantain and then a ripe plantain. The plantains in my picture are a little smaller and slimmer than most.

  • 2 unripe or underripe plantains
  • oil to deep fry
  • 2-3 cups of cold water
  • salt to taste
  • chaat masala to taste
  • red chilli powder, optional
  1. Heat oil in a kadhai on medium-high heat.
  2. While it is heating, wash and peel the plantains under running water. This makes it easier to peel and ensures that your hands don't get stained.
  3. Slice the plantain at about a 30 degree angle and about 1/4 inch in thickness. (For tostones, cut at a 45 degree angle to make long slices that are about an inch thick)
  4. Deep fry the plantain slices , a few at a time, without crowding the oil. Fry both sides till it is just starts to brown.
  5. Remove and press with the bottom of a plate or a round wooden paratha press. If the plantain chips are already crisp and start cracking when you press them, skip this step.
  6. Drop them in cold water and drain properly on paper towels. Start frying your next batch at this point.
  7. Sprinkle the soaked chips with salt and return to the oil. Fry each side till they are crisp and golden-brown.
  8. Sprinkle with chaat masala and red chilli powder and serve as a yummy snack with hot tea.

I didn't get a chance to pour the tea. If I hadn't sneaked them to the patio, I might not have had a picture to show and tell. They were gone far too quickly. Next time, I will get bigger plantains, and fry them when certain people are in school.

So, Anita, while these are not puris, they certainly fit your deep fried theme and that's what I am bringing to the party! Whether you like it or not!


Who doesn't love awards?! I love them! So I was thrilled when Meeta of What's For Lunch, Honey? gave me not one, but two awards! Yay!

The Thoughtful Blogger Award is for "those who answer blog comments, emails, and make their visitors feel at home on their blogs. For the people who take others' feelings into consideration before speaking out and who are kind and courteous. Also for those bloggers who spend so much of their time helping other bloggers design, improve, and fix their sites. This award is for those generous bloggers who think of others."

I would like to pass this award to
Ashwini of Food for Thought
Roopa of Kitchen Aromas
Argus Lou of Argus World
Suganya of Tasty Palettes

The Power of Schmooze Award is for bloggers who "effortlessly weave their way in and out of the blogosphere, leaving friendly trails and smiles, happily making new friends along the way. They don't limit their visits to only the rich and successful, but spend some time to say hello to new blogs as well. They are the ones who engage others in meaningful conversations, refusing to let it end at a mere hello - all the while fostering a sense of closeness and friendship."

Gini of Salt and Pepper
Roopa of My Chow Chow Bhath
TBC of The Budding Cook
TC of The Cooker

Cynthia of Tastes Like Home gave me this special rockin' award! I am overwhelmed!

Mythili of Vindu
ET of Evolving Tastes
Shankari of Stream of Consciousness
Kitt of The Kittalog

I could go on and on but most of you have already received these awards, acknowledged them and passed them on.

These awards are special to me in several ways. New and special friendships have been forged through virtual interactions on our respective blogs. I have learned so much about different types of world cuisines, and needless to say, regional Indian cuisine, too. All of you in your own special way contribute tremendously to make the Internet experience a healthy and happy one. I couldn't be happier. Thank you all very much!

It's the last week of summer before school starts next week. I am also getting busier at work, with more responsibilities and a new project that I can't stop thinking about. Posts are going to be fewer and in-between here on Indian Food Rocks until I have a more settled 4th grader and things have calmed down some at work. I will, of course, see you all on your blogs!

Update: It's raining awards in the blogosphere! Bee and Jai gave me The Thinking Blogger Award! I am flattered and yes, I do like to think once in a while!

So, to spread the love around, I am passing this award to
The tireless team at The Daily Tiffin
RP of My Workshop
Priya of Priya's Kitchen (so what if she likes deep fried ripe plantains?!)
Mandira of Ahaar
Sree of Sree's Canvas

It doesn't matter how long you have been blogging or if you burst onto the scene just yesterday. These awards are for who you are, how you have reached out to the community and made your presence felt in innumerable ways.

Congratulations to all of you and I wish you deep success in everything you do! Now, please go ahead and spread the love. And it must be deep fried! Just like this:

Happy Independence Day, India!

Downtown Louisville Rocks

Friday evenings are bliss! It's kick off your shoes, turn up the music and sprawl out on the sofas kind of evening for us. Sometimes, it's pizza night. Other times, it's leftovers night. The best times is when it is spicy Thai or Sichuan food by delivery night. We rarely ever step out on Friday nights. There are far too many cars on the road, too many people in the restaurants - yes, reclusive might define us well although we are not unsocial.

One Friday evening saw us scrambling to get to the library before it closed and we walked right into Louisville's Downtown Street Faire. Huh! I remembered reading about it in the last city newsletter. I even remembered that we forgot to check it out last summer. Friday evenings are that special. Well, they got even more special when we discovered just what the Louisville Downtown Street Faire is about!

Local businesses have booths and kiosks. They are all there: from the lovely ladies from the Acupuncture Clinic to the Italian Ice shop, not to mention all the restaurants! The local flavor is hard to beat! And the community spirit is very strong. Unfortunately I did not have my camera with me nor my wallet so I vowed to return the following week.

Needless to say, the bungee jump was at the top of the list. We waited at least 40 minutes for 5 minutes of exhilirating and breath-taking fun for Medha.

That's her up there. My heart was in my shoes the first time she went that high!

I could hear live music filtering through to me from the Steinbaugh Pavilion. People were spilling out of the white tent area next to the pavilion and from the pavilion itself. Almost everyone had a glass of locally brewed beer in their hands. Small counter-high tables dotted the street, crowded with half-empty glasses of beer, hot dogs, burgers and popcorn. I couldn't wait to get nearer to the music cos the lead guitar was belting out some smashing tunes.

But we had a few other stops to make like Sparkles Face Painting, for example!

Another ten minute wait before Medha's face was transformed into a butterfly.

While her face was being painted, I wandered to the other booths and spied the lovely ladies from Market Place Bakery in their full glory. Oh yum! Just look at those goodies! They disappeared very quickly, too!

There was also an inexplicable but very alluring aroma in the air. It had enticed me on my first visit, too, and I just had to follow my nose again. It was Handmade soap. After smelling them all, I kept returning to the Chai Goat Milk Soap. It had the smell of home: spices blended together with a mild scent of tea. It's the kind of aroma I want around me when I want to relax completely. I also loved the Rosemary Mint soap, which was very refreshing. It's what I want to wake up to every morning.

These handmade soaps are made by Amy Kalinchuk aka The Old Crone, who is a school teacher in Denver. She taught herself the art of soap-making and was soon making so many soaps that she needed to figure out how to share her success with the rest of her community.

If you're local to Louisville, Lafayette or Boulder, you will want to catch her at the Street Faire this coming Friday, 5pm to 9pm. She won't be there for the last fair, which is Youth Night, on August 17th.

If you are local to Denver then you could find her at Historic Downtown Littleton Farmer's Market, corner of Nevada and Main, 9am-2pm on Saturdays till September 29, 2007. Or at Old South Pearl Street Farmer's Market, 1500 South block of Pearl street, between Florida and Iowa, 9 am to 1 pm on Sundays till October 28, 2007.

If you are not local, don't fret! She has a web site, Olde Crone's Bewitching Bath Soap, where she sells her handmade soaps, shampoos, lotions, lip balms and more. She's thought of everything - for those of us who need to know more or dabble in some soap making, she has written a book called How to Make Soap that she sells on her web site.

Here's Amy with her wonderful wares! And she's not really old or olde!

What pulled me to Amy's booth like a magnet was the aroma. What endeared me further was that she was making this at home. And I was sold when I found out that her soaps are all-natural. She does not use any artificial ingredients, fragrances, or additives.

I was already on a high, when I decided to take things a notch higher with beer from Colorado's first micro-brewery, Boulder Brewing Company, started in 1979 by two professors from CU. The company is now called Boulder Beer Company. Their beer has won awards but what matters most is that it is smooth and the perfect ale for the hot summers we've been having. This handsome man poured out some Pass Time Pale Ale for me.

It put me in the perfect mood for the music that was growing louder and louder, with the crowds joining in and thumping their feet. It was a local band called Firefall. I'd never heard of them before. It really didn't matter as they were rocking the place with their music. According to a more informed friend of mine, they had a very popular CD in the 80's. It was Medha's first ever rock show and I am so glad that it was with us and to such excellent music!

This is a picture Medha took of Firefall's encore while seated on her Dad's shoulders! As you can see, many folks joined them on the stage for their final number!

Unfortunately, it all ended a little too soon!

While Firefall won't be there this coming Friday, another very popular band called the subdudes will be playing. If you're in the area, do stop by to check it out! There's good food, great tasting locally brewed beer, handmade soap, locally made handicrafts and a whole bunch of fun for the kids. And that is quite a bit coming from someone like me who feels that nothing happens in Louisville!

Leftover Matters: All that Chicken and Rice

When I opened my refrigerator the other day, I saw rice, rice and more rice. It's easy to make rice. It's even easier when Medha makes it.

And also staring at me was the rotisserie chicken, begging to be eaten. But we'd eaten it with salad, in salad, sandwiched it and no matter what I did, there was always some leftover. There was next to no choice but to pair them together.

Leftover Chicken and Rice

  • 3 cups of steamed rice
  • 1 cup of cooked rotisserie chicken, deboned and diced into small pieces
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1/4 tsp mustard seeds
  • pinch asafetida (optional)
  • 2-3 tsp of kanda lassun masala
  • 2-3 tbsp water
  • dash of lemon juice
  • salt to taste
  • chopped cilantro for garnish

  1. Heat oil in a kadhai
  2. Add mustard seeds and when they splutter, add asafetida (or not)
  3. Add chicken pieces and kanda lassun masala and stir fry for a couple of minutes
  4. Add cooked rice and mix well
  5. Sprinkle water over the rice to moisten it unless you are using rice that was just cooked. If your rice has been sitting in the refrigerator for more than a couple of days, then that little bit of water helps.
  6. Cover and cook on medium-low till the rice and chicken have been warmed through and the flavors have come together
  7. Add lemon juice, stir and do a taste test for salt. Kanda lassun masala has some salt in it, so you may or may not need more salt, depending on your sodium intake.
  8. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve right away

Kanda Lassun masala powder is very versatile and I get a quick ride to Bombay and back when I have anything that has been liberally spiced with it. Vada-pau is what comes to my mind!

There are, of course, a myriad variations: add some green chillies or dried red chillies and/or curry leaves in the phodni, add some fresh julienned ginger, add some steamed veggies and so on. Rotisserie chicken and rice is by far the simplest and the fastest, especially for lunch when I don't have much time to spend in the kitchen or think about food.

My days are very hectic and long, and they get doubly so in summer when I have a demanding 9 year old at home. No leisurely cups of tea or time to sit and plan the next meal. Lately I have been wondering why I didn't learn from the previous year and keep Medha busy at a summer camp. But, no matter how much I am looking forward to the first day of school - just 2 more weeks, yay! - I have really enjoyed having her at home. And, she's been a great help in the kitchen. She can now boil eggs, make her own breakfast as well as a simple lunch. She helps lay the table, too; although I had to stop her from using up so many paper napkins. She was very disappointed when I told her that we don't need our silverware wrapped in a napkin. But she cheered up considerably when I told her to do it to save the Earth. That works like a charm, every time! I must admit that what I was not prepared for this summer were the pre-pubertal hormones that are kicking in and the quick repartees. Especially the conversation after we had Leftover Chicken and Rice for lunch! I had to rush back to my office for a meeting, leaving me just enough time to clear up in the kitchen but not the table.
Me: Medha, could you please clear and wipe the table?
Her: But, Mumma, why do I have to do it?
Instead of giving her a list of reasons or dipping into the Why-do-I-have-to syndrome, I simply glared at her
Me: Let me put it this way: I am going to remember this!
Her: But...but...but, Mumma! That would be a waste of memory space!

Right. No carry-forwards. No leftovers.

I hope your summers are going as well as mine! Despite a persistent but mild migraine, we went on a 5.4+ mile hike to Ouzel Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park this weekend. Here's a picture of Calypso Cascades that we encountered on the way. It's raw nature in your face up in the mountains.

Have a good one!

Update: I just realized that this fits in very nicely with Mallugirl's Summer Express Event. So off it goes!

Credits: Bowl and plate by Medha

Leftover Matters: The Three Things Meme

There's a lot of leftover business to take care of...

Dilip, Anjali, Sra and Anita tagged me way back in January for The Three Things meme. I am really bad with memes and that I am over 7 months late with this one should prove it. Here goes...

Three people/things that make me laugh
My family. My fine sense of humor has finally rubbed off on my husband and my daughter has it in her jeans. No, that's not a typo. During the school year, she carries small strips of paper with jokes in the pockets of her jeans.
Seinfeld. I got hooked only because I heard my husband laughing with tears rolling down his face. I had to find out what the big deal was. Re-runs are for people like me.
George Bush. He has a second career option as a comedian.

Three things that make me cry
Hungry children
Moving tales and tales of moving.
When my husband uses my kitchen tools to fix things around the house

Three things that scare me
Snakes and anything that slithers.
Natural disasters

Three things I love
My boss. I do. I love him to death. I wouldn't be half of what I am without his energy.
The Rockies and Trail Ridge Road. The mountains inspire me and fill me with a deep sense of calm.
Taking pictures. I'm not particularly good with a camera but that has not stopped me so far!

Three things I hate
Smelly toilets
Shahrukh Khan

Three things I don't understand
Why I must always decide what to order at a restaurant.
Why the square footage of my home matters to other people
Why Anita does not like Aishwarya Rai. The woman is gorgeous but she should have stayed on the catwalk.

Three things on my desk
Two monitors.
Four Disney Princesses that I took from Medha and never returned. They are now mine. She's given up trying to get them back.
A painting of echinacea by Sree. I know! I know! I have to get it framed!

Three things I'm doing right now
Besides writing this meme, I am
uploading pictures to my Flickr account
hiding from my husband. He's sitting 5 feet away from me but I'm hiding from him online, see?
writing emails to a friend. We are each other's daily fix.

Three things I want to do before I die
Travel to Europe, Australia and New Zealand
Trek the Himalayas. OK, Valley of Flowers will do.
Make a difference. I haven't figured this one out yet, especially the 'how'. I hope I do before I die.

Three things I can do
Ride a bike

Three things I like to listen to
my inner conscience
my husband sing. Especially when he sings Chaudhavi ka chand
my daughter play the piano

Three things I would never want to listen to
Myself sing. And my daughter has agreed with me ever since she was born. She always cried more when I sang her a lullaby.
The sound of chalk or nails screeching on the chalkboard
Bill O'Reilly.

Three things I'd like to learn
To keep the beat during aerobics class. Mine are the arms that flail just after the beat. My instructor once came up to me and told me: "STOP! Just stop!"
To do line dancing. I pity the instructor.
To swim properly.

Three favorite foods
Fried fish, the Maharashtrian way.
Idli, chutney, sambar
Varan bhath

Three beverages I drink regularly
Brewed tea. No tannin for me, thank you!
Herbal tea.

Three TV shows or books I read as a kid
All the Enid Blytons, Nancy Drews and Hardy Boys on the planet
Solid Gold. I am really dating myself here. But they brought on all my favorite singers and did the weekly countdown.
The Bundesliga. I was a soccer junkie and followed the German football league. I never missed a game and knew all the teams. I could never make up my mind whether to support Bayern München or Hamburger SV.

I am now supposed to tag three other bloggers but as usual I am so late that everyone has been tagged and done with it.

Still, this was for Dilip, Anjali, Sra and Anita. Better late than never.