Crawlyflower tales

A few years ago, I found myself staring at luscious cauliflowers in the produce section with wonder and it was only then that I realized that I cooked only with frozen cauliflower. I vowed to change that immediately and placed a gorgeous cauliflower head in my cart. My heart sang all the way home because I knew I would be biting into the fresh taste of that crunchy crucifer that I had been missing all this time.

I set it up on my cutting board with great gusto and started removing all the outer leaves carefully. My father-in-law had told once me that those leaves were edible and quite nutritious but right now I was more interested in the "white curd" of the head. From the corner of my eye, I saw a very plump and very green young leaf move slightly. I turned the cauliflower to address that leaf and the other leaves that were still attached to the head in that area. I cut through the leaf only to see it start to ooze and wiggle like it was possessed.

That green leaf was a humongous green worm, fattened by all the minerals in the vegetable. My husband says I screamed the house down. I don't remember. I just remember curling up on the floor and wishing that the cauliflower and its resident would just disappear.

Needless to say, I had forgotten why I bought only frozen cauliflower. You see if there are a hundred cauliflowers in the produce bin, I pick the only one with worms in it. Such is my luck.

I went back to buying frozen cauliflower until very recently. I still don't care for worms in my produce but I have become more used to different types of worms after attempting to make a vegetable patch in my backyard this past summer. Medha is a fan of worms; she indulges in baby talk with earthworms that she holds her in her palm. She has dangled them in front of my face several times to see if my reaction changes over time; a scientific experiment, she says, to see if the data will change over a period of time. My screams are no longer as shrill as they used to be but my threats have become worse. And How to Eat Fried Worms also helped quite a bit. I sat through it without throwing up.

Cauliflower still remains one of our favorite vegetables and I am glad it does. If properly washed and cleansed of all trails that worms might have left behind, I love to eat it raw. I don't like it cooked or boiled into a soggy mess but I do love it when it's cooked well. Anita calls it al dente; I call it just right or tender but crisp.

There are so many ways in which to cook cauliflower that when my sister wouldn't stop raving about her friend Sushma's mouth-watering recipe, I just rolled my eyes. But she's not one to give up and made it for me when she visited. And I was hooked. It didn't have ginger like most aloo gobi ki subzis do, it had crushed garlic!

Cauliflower Subzi

Sushma's Aloo Gobi

  • 1 medium head cauliflower
  • 3-4 medium red potatoes
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds (optional)
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder, adjust to taste
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • salt to taste
  1. Cut the cauliflower into large florets, about 2 inches in size.
  2. Peel and dice the potatoes into slim chunks, about 1/4 inch by 1 inch. We will be adding the potatoes along with the cauliflower and we want them to cook without having to overcook the cauliflower.
  3. Heat oil in a large saucepan.
  4. Add crushed garlic. Before it browns, add cumin seeds, red chilli powder and turmeric powder.
  5. Take the saucepan off the stove and add cumin powder and coriander powder.
  6. Add cauliflower florets, potatoes and salt. Toss or stir well.
  7. Cover, return to stove and cook on a high flame until the cauliflower starts browning and the potatoes are cooked. Sprinkle with a little water to help the potatoes if they are taking too long to cook.
  8. Also dilute the tomato paste in 1/4 cup water, mixing it well into a thick paste.
  9. When the cauliflower is tender yet crisp and the potatoes have cooked, add the thick tomato paste and sprinkle the garam masala.
  10. Mix well in an almost folding-like action, briskly moving the cauliflower and potatoes from the bottom up.
  11. Cook for another 5 minutes, uncovered.
  12. Garnish with cilantro and serve hot with parothas or rotis and yogurt.

  • I like to add some chopped green chillies towards the end for an added kick.
  • Any fragrant garam masala will do. If you would like to make your own, try this garam masala. Or you could use a store-bought garam masala. It's always better to make your own because you are sure you are using the choicest ingredients but not everyone has the time or the energy, in which case I think it's perfectly alright to use store-bought garam masala.

It look like it's raining cauliflower on the food blogs and that, too, without an event! I think it may have to do with it being a winter vegetable, with the growing season ending towards the end of October and even end of November in some places. Here are some of the mouth-watering recipes posted in the last couple of weeks:
Anita's Sookhi Aloo Gobhi
Ashwini's Gobi ka Kheema
Indira's Aloo Gobi with Kasuri Methi
Nupur's Spicy Cauliflower Soup

And now it's time to whoop a bit, do some virtual cartwheels and while I am at it, I might as well fly down a ski slope, too! I'm celebrating 30 consecutive days of posting, as part of NaBloPoMo. It was a lot of work and challenging at times but I did it! I did it!

I found some great local blogs, made some wonderful new friends and connected with several other bloggers. I hope to have a list of these blogs up soon!

Yay me!! And yay to all my NaBloPoMo friends and writers who wrote every day through the month of November! And yay to those to who joined in late and wrote with as much fervor!

For those of you, like Sandeepa, who want "nice" stuff to read everyday, I have some bad news. My blog will be going silent for at least a week while I try and rest those tired fingers, get some much needed sleep and catch up on my life! And you may not place bets on how long it will last! At least a week. Well, maybe a week. Or...

Four Mile Historic Park

Earlier this year, I was a chaperone for Medha's class on a field trip to the Four Mile Historic Park in Denver. It is named thus because it is four miles from downtown Denver.

Built in 1859, Four Mile House once served as a stage stop, wayside inn, and tavern for travelers on the Cherokee Trail on their way to Denver City.

We chose the pioneer sampler with the following activities: butter making, farm chores, pioneer games, prairie school and gold panning. Chaperones were assigned to each of the stations that had been set up all over the 12 acre park and my station, as you know, was the outdoor kitchen where we made sweet cream butter.

Most of the older homes had fully-equipped outdoor kitchens as the stoves were usually wood-burning stoves, making it unbearable to cook indoors in the summer heat. Quite frankly, even the outdoor kitchen was unbearable. We were there at the end of April with temperatures in the low 80s, without the stove on, and we couldn't wait to get into the shade!

There were a lot of cast-iron kitchen tools displayed in the outdoor kitchen that were probably forged on the farm itself. Like these tongs...

and this ladle...

and this gong! The kids had a great time 'calling everyone for dinner!'

This is an original butter churner that was used in those days to make butter. We were so busy in the outdoor kitchen that I did not get a chance to take a picture of the inside of the butter churner. The wooden shaft had an X-shaped stomper at the end that agitated the cream when it was moved up and down. We did not use this antique butter churner and instead made sweet cream butter in a jar.

It was a day of immense learning for all of us. Me, most of all, because I also learned that the homes that have sunk into the ground leaving only the roof are built like that by design. They aren't homes! They are root cellars!

I have vowed to go back to the Four Mile Historic Park again because I missed out on the other activities. Before leaving though, I took one last picture of an old wagon, a replica of the wagons used by the pioneers as they burnt the trail on their search for gold and riches.

Life on a farm in the early 1900s was very hard! We came away very grateful for all the amenities we have in our homes today, especially running water, electricity and heating. If you have an old working farm in your area, keep it in mind for a day trip as it is an eye-opener, both for kids as well as adults.

Other old-fashioned working farms we have visited in the past year are:
Walker Ranch, Boulder, Colorado
Ardenwood Historic Farm, Fremont, California

Have you been to a historic farm and learned something new? Do consider sharing your experience with the rest of us!

Yearning for Homemade Butter

Homemade butter was what I grew up with. My mother would skim the cream off the milk on a daily basis and collect it in a pot that contained yogurt culture. Once every 10 days or so, she would pull it out of the refrigerator and leave it out for a few hours, add some ice cold water and churn it manually with a wooden ravi or a wooden version of this. The butter soon separated and floated to the top. The rest of it was slightly tart buttermilk or taak, a welcome cooler by itself or made into mattha on hot summer days.

A hot boiled egg mashed with freshly made homemade butter and some salt was my nirvana. That was also the only way I would eat egg yolk. I called this safed loni as opposed to regular store bought butter, which was always yellow in color.

Ever wondered why store bought butter, usually made from cow's milk, is yellow? Depending on the cows' diet, the natural color of butter can range from a creamy white to a golden yellow. In order to maintain year round consistency in the final product, manufacturers add annatto which is a food coloring agent.

Homemade butter goes rancid quickly, even when refrigerated, and must be used up or cooked further to make ghee. This was the part I didn't much care for and begged my mother to do it on the day when I had to attend lectures all day and all evening.

There are days when I yearn for homemade butter. I was therefore thrilled to learn about making sweet cream butter when I accompanied Medha's class on a field trip to the Four Mile Historic Park in Denver, earlier this year. It's not quite safed loni but it's almost there.

Homemade Sweet Cream Butter

All you need is
  • Heavy Whipping Cream
  • A glass jar

  1. Pour about 1/3 cup of heavy whipping cream into the glass jar and close tightly
  2. Gather everyone in the family and take turns shaking the jar.
  3. Keep shaking it. After a few minutes of vigorous shaking, it will look like this:

    Don't be tempted, it's not done yet!
  4. It will thicken further but it's not done until you hear the buttermilk start sloshing in the jar and the whap-whap of the solid butter as it bounces off the sides. It should look like this:

    We did this in a couple of minutes in summer. In winter, it takes longer, which is why you want to take turns!
  5. Carefully drain out the buttermilk and save it to knead dough or add to curries, if you wish. If you are like us and can't wait, then go ahead and spread the fresh butter on crackers...

This is also a fun activity to do with children. They make the butter and then enjoy it right away. If you plan to bake with this butter, remember that it has more water content than store bought butter and make changes accordingly. I hope to have pictures from our field trip in my next post. Until then, check out these resources:
The History of Butter
Mattha from Cuisine Cuisine
Indira's Glorious Golden Ghee - a tutorial
Saliu's Andhra Spiced Buttermilk

Papeta par Ida

There are days that seem to never end. Today was one of those days. It become excruciatingly so when I realized that I had put it off too long and I really did need to buy Medha some new pants. She's been going around looking like a tangewali. When used to describe someone who has nothing to do with a horse, it means that their trousers or pants are too short. At least, that's how it's used in my family! While we waited for her Science Project pictures to be printed out, we went to the Kohl's next door to remedy this terrible oversight on my part. In less than a half hour, armed with several fleece pants that she needed and matching jackets that she didn't need, we joined the line at the cashier. One woman was being served, next in line was a woman and her daughter and then us. 10 minutes and our status hadn't changed. It was the same story in the other lines else I would have jockeyed to another cashier. Another 10 minutes and Medha couldn't bear it anymore.

Let's go, Mumma! I don't care if my pants are short! I have enough for this week. Maybe we can do this another time.

Ah! I have raised her well! I threw the clothes down and walked out of there, hand in hand with my daughter. Both of us feeling immensely relieved! How do they do it?! I mean on a weekday, a schoolnight? How do they shop for teeny tiny stuff that no-one needs? Stuff that will be put away in a drawer or returned? Just because it's on sale?!

We were so hungry that we stopped to eat some overly processed but delicious and juicy kosher hot dogs at Sam's, picked up our photographs and came home! What I really wanted to eat was papeta par ida - eggs over potatoes - but there was none leftover from the batch I had made on Sunday.

Papeta par ida, also pateta par ida, is a Parsi dish that is quite like a fritata - spicy potatoes that have been doused with well-beaten eggs. I've had this for breakfast, brunch and lunch at a Parsi friend's home so I am not entirely sure when this is served. We usually make a brunch out of it as it is very filling and rather satisfying! A Parsi friend of mine had once told me that my papeta par ida was as good as her mother's!

Papeta par ida

Eggs over spicy potatoes

  • 4-5 medium red potatoes, diced into 1 inch pieces
  • 2-3 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • pinch asafetida
  • 2 small Thai chillies, chopped into two pieces each OR 3-4 long finger hot chillies, chopped into 1 inch long pieces
  • 6-7 kadipatta leaves
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger (optional)
  • salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 3 whole eggs and 3 additional egg whites

  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan.
  2. Add mustard seeds and when they pop add asafetida, followed by the chillies, kadipatta, turmeric powder.
  3. Then add the diced potatoes and some water, if you decide to use less oil.
  4. If you are using ginger, add that too. Followed by salt.
  5. Cover and cook on a medium flame until the potatoes are done.
  6. Sprinkle the chopped cilantro all over the potatoes. Mix it in if you wish. I like to leave it on top.
  7. Add salt to the eggs and beat till they are nice and fluffy and pour into the saucepan.
  8. Cover for a few minutes to allow the top layer to cook.
  9. When the eggs have set, your papeta par ida is ready to be served!
  10. Serve with toast, plain parothas or naan.

  • Take as many potatoes as you will need to make a nice layer of potatoes in your pan. I usually take one extra potato cos I lose about as much while they are cooking. Like so:
  • If you would rather use 6 whole eggs that really is up to you. I usually take one whole egg and one egg white per person - yes, Anita, that extra yolk goes down the drain.
  • The other famous version of this Parsi dish is bhida par ida or bhida par idu. Eggs over spicy okra which is also very addictive.

We usually cut this up into quarters, with one quarter reserved for the hungry little girl as a quick healthy after-school snack.

Squeeze an Egg

Have you squeezed an egg lately? No?! You just don't love your eggs enough, I say!

naked egg
Like your chicken? Then go ahead and bend its bones!

bendy bone
Science Fair this week.

Outdoor Winter Skating

The Steinbaugh Pavilion in downtown Louisville that rocked with music in summer during the Street Faire is now converted to an old-fashioned outdoor skating rink. Called WinterSkate, it's organized by Boulder Creek Events and this is its fourth year in downtown Louisville. There is Holiday music, of course, and free horse-drawn carriage rides in the evenings.

We went this afternoon but the real magic is in the evenings when it is all lit up.

Oops! There were falls galore! Lots of giggling and laughing!

followed by some bonding...

There was a very talented young girl on the rink and she stunned us with some really graceful moves.
WinterSkate is open seven days a week and it is open till midnight on New Year's Eve. Medha 's already making plans for her New Year's Eve. Dream on, I say!

On our way home, we stopped at Harper Lake to watch the sun set. The house below is on the short trail leading to the lake. How lucky are the people that live there!

The colors were muted compared to the shows the skies have been putting up for us lately. But it was beautiful, nevertheless.

It really has been a wonderful holiday week, topped off by a spectacular Sunday.

How was your Sunday?

Sambar with my eyes closed

Mumma, will you please write down this recipe? So that when you're dead, I will still know how to make this?

A compliment, I think!

Perhaps it comes from all that talk about my Mom's nankatai, not knowing which recipe was the one she used and how the only way to figure it out was to try both and hope that one of them was it. Either that or it's the prolonged morbidity that has prevailed in our conversations lately!

So many bloggers start their blogs as a legacy of recipes and memories for their children. Others because they hit a wall looking for accurate pictures and descriptions of ingredients and homemade Indian food. Many others use it as a tool to share memories with family and friends far away. Me? I wish I had something even remotely as endearing. But no, I just wanted to figure out how Blogger worked. This was back in March of 2003, and food & family was the easiest topic to blog on. It didn't matter whether anyone would ever read what I had to say, I just needed to figure out what the hype was all about.

I've never really conformed and our life path after marriage certainly hasn't either. However, once there was a child in the picture, a lot of things changed because we didn't want our child to bear the brunt of our lifestyle. But she remains different as do her thought processes, shaped as she is by our attitudes and outlook. Sometimes, a tad too mature for a 9 year old. Other times, too naïve.

So when she asked me to write down the recipe, I wondered whether that could be the new meaning of my blog. And my inner core shuddered. But, like I said, when there is a child or there are children, one's perspective changes. I don't know that my entire blog or all the recipes, anecdotes and thoughts are for her - it's really for me and it's perfectly alright to be selfish on some fronts, I think - but this recipe is definitely for her. As is the backup of all my recipes. My blog, though, remains mine and a release for me and me alone.

One Pot Sambar

  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • pinch asafoetida
  • 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 Thai green chilli or 2-3 finger hot pepper, sliced vertically into two
  • 2 sprigs of kadipatta
  • 1 red chilli, broken into 2 pieces (optional)
  • small ball of tamarind fruit pulp, about the size of a dollar coin
  • 1 can of Hunts organic diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup tur dal (split pigeon peas)
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 heaped tsp MTR Sambar Masala
  • salt to taste
  • cilantro for garnish, optional

  1. Heat oil in the pan of your pressure cooker
  2. Add mustard seeds and when they pop, add a pinch of asafetida, followed by fenugreek seeds.
  3. Add green chillies and kadipatta. Be ready with a splatter screen if these are wet or damp.
  4. Add the turmeric powder and the red chilli, followed by the diced tomatoes. Add about 1 can of water, too. This way the can gets rinsed out, too!
  5. Add about 1/4 up to 1/3 cup water to the tamarind fruit pulp and heat it in the microwave for about 10-15 seconds. Mash the tamarind pulp till you have a thickish paste. Discard any fibers or seeds. Add more water if needed.
  6. Wash the tur dal in a couple of changes of water and add it to the pressure cooker, followed by 3 cups of water, tamarind paste, MTR sambar powder and salt.
  7. Cook under pressure for at least 3 whistles. Sometimes I forget and let it go to 4 without any problems! Or cook for as long as it takes for tur dal to cook in your pressure cooker.
  8. Allow the pressure cooker to cool before you open it. Remember that it is still cooking in the built up pressure and you want to make the most of that. Plus it is wise to be safe.
  9. Stir well, adjust for salt and sambar powder, if required. If it is too thick for your liking, add more water and adjust the seasonings again.
  10. Garnish with cilantro and serve hot with rice or idlis or dosa.

We love this sambar so much that we can be found sipping on it, rather like soup. It's quite perfect for this cold weather!

  • If you aren't sure if 3 tsp of MTR's Sambar powder is the right amount for you, start with 2 tsp and once you have opened the pressure cooker, do a taste test to see if you need more. I used only 2 teaspoons until recently as Medha could not handle the spice.
  • I have used a lot of sambar powders, and made my own, too. But for a quick sambar, I think MTR wins in taste and flavor. MTR spice mixes can be found in any Indian grocery store. Remember that you want the Sambar Powder and not the Instant Sambar Mix. Avoid the latter!

If you don't yet have a pressure cooker, I would exhort you to consider buying one as a Christmas gift for yourself. Think about it: it takes 20 minutes to cook something that would otherwise take at least an hour, if not more. It's taken me almost 2 hours to cook 2 cups of dal in a stockpot in Boulder, which is over a mile high in altitude. So much fuel and time wasted, not to mention the added frustration. You can cook directly in the pressure cooker or you can get inserts or containers that fit in the pressure to place different items. Target and Kohl's have pressure cookers in their cookware aisles or you could buy online from Amazon. I have only recently started cooking meat in the pressure cooker and it's so tender that I wonder what that mental block was all about! At least give it a thought!

Update: I am sending this to the lovely Linda, who is the host for JFI: Toor Dal.

Udon Noodles on my Mind

Is there anyone who hasn't thought of noodles this month? I know I have been rather obsessed.

My body went through contortions to capture images of noodles. I told myself that some of the positions were actually yoga. I was too lazy to set up my tripod and the light was failing fast so I set the exposure to 1/20s, put the camera on a 10 second timer, composed the shot and told those overstretched twisted muscles to be still, inhaled, pressed the shutter and held my breath, and slowly exhaled and relaxed but only after the camera had captured this...

and this...

Not bad for tripodless work, eh?! Of course, I used neither - actually there were hundreds I didn't use - as my entry for CLICK. Some of you might remember, of course, but for the benefit of those who don't, I sent this in.

I have had this packet of Udon noodles for quite a while now. I've been going back and forth on trying to figure out what to do with them. Do I try and deconstruct Siamese Plate's delicately spiced udon noodles in a white sauce? Or do I try Tao's udon noodles in ginger sauce? And then there was Nupur's udon noodle curry soup. And, Tea's Zaru Soba.

I decided not to think about it and as soon as I did that, I knew exactly what I wanted to make as the Friday night special chez Manisha. There was one catch though: I had to use what I had in the house since I have sworn to finish all the fresh produce in the house before I allow myself to go grocery shopping again.

Udon Noodle Curry

I used Nupur's recipe for reference and adapted it to the ingredients at hand.

  • Organic Udon noodles, 1 packet (3 x 3oz)
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp Thai green curry paste
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas, sliced at an angle
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 orange bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 portabella mushroom cap, diced
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 4 cups water
  • 3 tbsp tamari sauce
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/8 cup roasted peanuts, lightly crushed
  • cilantro for those who wanted it

  1. Cook the udon noodles according to the instructions on the package, but don't cook them completely as they will cook further when added to the soup. Drain and keep aside.
  2. Heat oil and sauté the onion and garlic until the onion starts turning brown.
  3. Add the green curry paste and fry for a few minutes until your kitchen smells like heaven.
  4. Add all the chopped veggies and stir fry for a few minutes on high heat.
  5. Add the coconut milk, water, tamari sauce and sugar and stir well. Add salt if desired and simmer for 10 minutes or so.
  6. Add udon noodles and cook until they are done.
  7. Turn off the stove, add lemon juice, garnish with peanuts and cilantro and serve immediately.
This was a complete meal by itself! We slurped on the soup and sucked in the noodles. These noodles have quickly taken the slot of my favorite noodles. They are smooth and firm and absorb the flavors of the sauce they are in.

This made enough for two meals for the three of us. And I am quite thrilled because I get to eat it again soon!

  • I used what is labeled as tamari sauce - thanks Bee! - and was pleasantly surprised at how different the flavor is from regular soy sauce. But upon reading further, I think what I have is improperly labeled shoyu sauce as one of the ingredients is wheat. Tamari does not contain wheat. But it was not a problem as the flavor was mild and not in the least overpowering. Unlike soy sauce. Which is why I used 3 tablespoons of it! If you use soy sauce, use less of it than I did tamari sauce.
  • I used Thai Kitchen's Green Curry paste but only after sending my apologies to Pel. One of my conditions was to use whatever I had on hand! And I wanted to make this a vegan dish.
  • Medha is not yet a fan of Thai food. She danced all around the kitchen saying tikhat! tikhat! when I gave her some soup to taste. Once she had calmed down, she asked me if I had added the same stuff that is there in the Thai Green Curry her father and I love so much. I can't quite put my finger on it but I think she does not like the combined flavors of kaffir lime, galangal and lemon grass. She finds it too sharp. It's not the green chillies because she's been doing rather well with spicy Indian food. She drowned her noodles in Sweet and Sour sauce. Yes, that orange colored thing that no-one should keep in their homes.
  • To make this richer, one could add more coconut milk.
  • Most of the soupy part was absorbed by the noodles by the time we were done with dinner. So I might just add some more coconut milk and water and adjust the seasoning when I serve it again.
  • Plating food in an enticing way is not my forté. Nor do I have a variety of dishes and bowls to dress them up on. I guess what I am leading to is: please ignore the peanut skin that made its way to the bowl in the previous two pictures. It's not supposed to be there!

If you haven't yet voted for CLICK! Reader's Choice, please head on over and do so before voting closes on November 26, 2007. And don't forget to come back here and be nice to me, I'm a judge for the event!

Update: I am sending this to Suganya for her Vegan Venture event.

Giving Thanks

After a sumptuous Thanksgiving meal that included a perfectly roasted turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and gravy, caramelized sweet potatoes, beans, homemade rolls dusted with sesame seeds, poppy seeds and caraway seeds, followed by pecan pie and ice cream, I am so stuffed that I cannot think! The wine flowed as we sat around the table and shared memories, music playing softly in the background. I think we are very lucky to have neighbors who are just like family!

I thought it would be very apt to use today's post to complete my series of Thank You posts that I like to do at least once a year. This list, as some of you may already know, is pulled directly from my logs and these are blogs that I am truly grateful to - for, without them, Indian Food Rocks would be yet another lonely, seldom-read blog. So I'd like to thank all the food blogs I have mentioned previously and also the 15 blogs that follow.

Malabar Spices, written by Mallugirl, rocked our world recently with her Express Cooking Event. Raid her blog for spicy recipes from India's Malabar coast. She has a droolworthy Nadan Kozhi Chicken Curry and I can't wait to try her Malabar Meen (fish) Biryani.

Masala Magic, written by Latha, may tell you to go watch Manjula on Youtube but I really think that you should go through her archives instead! Her red hot idli podi and easy rava dosa are amazing!

Musical's Kitchen, written by Musical of course, is a haven for vegetarians looking for that extra punch. She always has a surprising combination of fresh veggies and spices. Her palak kadhi is a regular feature at our home. Her Sweet potato stew (Thai style) looks too divine to pass up on!

One Hot Stove, written by Nupur, first regaled us from New York City and now she does the same from St. Louis, Missouri. Nupur is known for her fabulous writing as well as her A-Z series: A-Z of Marathi cooking as well as her A-Z of Indian Vegetables.

Padma's Kitchen, written by Padma, is an elegant blog with some of my favorites like akki roti, mamidikiya annam (mango rice) and Shahi Kofta curry.

Saffron Trail, written by Nandita, is the home of the Weekend Breakfast Blogging event. Nandita also has her own food video show on Nautanki TV. She focuses on healthy vegetarian recipes.

Samayal, written by Sudha, has a lovely recipe for Chicken Chettinad, a welcome variation for me. Her arachuvita sambar also sounds delicious!

Spicyana, written by Archana, is a feast for the eyes! She's the queen of baking, designing and decorating cakes. I was hooked right from the time she posted her first cake. Her creative talents extend to other things besides cakes, so if you haven't visited Archana's blog before, you need to stop what you are doing and do so now!

Stream of Consciousness, written by Shankari and sometimes by her husband Rajesh, is not just about food. You will find hair-raising pictures of Rajesh as he goes sky-diving, amazing pictures of the moon and spicy recipes. Shankari conducts cooking classes and has also appeared live on NBC's KCRA3. A huge round of applause for her, please!

Tastes like Home, written by Cynthia, comes to us from the Carribean. I love a gal who appreciates okra, my favorite veggie! Her pictures say it all. If you see something you like, you can always write to Cynthia to ask her for the recipe. She's really nice like that!

Tea and Cookies, written by Tea, is a blog that pays homage to fresh local produce with the most exquisite words ever. I have yet to come across a blog better written than Tea's. She has authentic Japanese recipes that she learned from her stay in Japan and I recently bookmarked her Zaru Soba recipe. The picture of soba noodles in that post could very well have been an entry for this month's CLICK!

Trial and Error, written by Nabeela, is one of my favorite blogs! I was first intrigued by her Marag, which I adapted to a slow cooker recipe. It's my comfort food now. I am still trying to figure out which of her mango sorbets I should try!

Vyanjanaa, written by g, is a chronicle of two kitchens separated by thousands of miles yet linked by a strong bond. Check out her Rajasthani papad ki subzi and her yummy garlic chutney.

What's For Lunch Honey?, written by Meeta, is a treat for the eyes and a feast for the soul. Don't believe me? Just head on over and check out her beautifully composed photographs, her tastefully created centerpieces, and of course her delicious recipes! She also hosts The Monthly Mingle with interesting themes each month.

When My Soup Came Alive, written by Sra, is a great blog to visit when you desperately need that chuckle! She launched her first event, Grindless Gravies recently, and already has a reputation for strictly enforcing the rules, which she changes every day. Or so I heard...

Thank you all very much!

Snow and Afghans

We woke up to between 3 and 4 inches of snow today.

We went from a warm and sunny Monday with a high of 77F to snow on the ground on Wednesday with a high of 30F. I don't think the kids care how cold it is though. Whoever is left in the 'hood is outdoors having snowball fights, while I hug my ginger tea and shiver indoors!

Thoughts of winter sent me scurrying to pull out my current 5 year project, a crocheted airy diamond afghan.

I started this on the California Zephyr in July last year so I am well over a year into it. About two-fifths of it is done. It takes me about an hour to do each row of 273 stitches. If I keep up this pace, it might be ready well before its time!

I am not cooking for Thanksgiving this year as we were invited to our neighbor's for the meal. I guess tandoori-style cornish hens will just have to wait a while.

I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving!

Parotha, The Making of

Batatyacha parotha, or aloo paratha, is one of our favorite parothas.

We're generally not very fussy about our meals. Breakfast served for dinner is just fine and leftovers from dinner for breakfast rock. So, batatyache parothe could very well be either breakfast or dinner. 1 cup of atta, 1 tsp of oil and a pinch of salt, kneaded into a medium-soft dough makes about 13-14 parothe. I knead the dough, cover it with a damp paper towel and let it rest while I get the stuffing ready. For the stuffing, I use about 5-6 medium boiled potatoes, mashed with a small clove of garlic, 1 tsp of red chilli powder, 1/8 tsp of turmeric powder and salt. I make this without garlic, too.

Start off with a small ball of dough. Your tava should be on the stove by now.

Roll it out some. I usually like to roll it out a little more than I need to.

Take a ball of the potato stuffing

And hide it in the dough, like so.

Press down on it gently to flatten it

Dust it with flour and turn it over so that the pleats are on the bottom.

Roll it out from the middle to the outside in a firm yet gentle motion. Do not flip it over.

Place it with the pleats facing up on the tava, to begin with, on a medium-high flame until it gets a few brown spots on the underside and starts puffing up a teeny bit. The latter depends entirely on how you roll it out so if it does not happen, don't fret.

Turn it over and cook the thicker side till it, too, has some brown spots. Take some ghee (5 drops or so) or melted butter and spread it quickly using a spoon on the parotha. Flip it over and do the same to the other side. Cook both sides for about a minute or so each...
...till you get this and serve immediately with chutney or pickle and raita.
This parotha is different from the aloo paratha found in Indian restaurants; it's rather delicate and much smaller in size.

Shivapriya has a fabulous tutorial on aloo parathas with much better pictures.
Luv2Cook has another version with tips on freezing parathas