A hint of tang, a hint of honey…….A cakey ode to our 40’s!!

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My Mom, has what in my family we call the ‘Recipe Book Graveyard’. She loves to buy different recipe books, especially those featuring the varied regional cuisines of India. So we have Parsi cookbooks and Bengali cookbooks, recipe books of the Konkanastha Brahmins as well as those of the Goans, cookbooks featuring Marwari cuisine as well as a whole variety of books written by Indian TV Chefs. However not one recipe from any of them has ever been tried out.They are relegated to the ‘Recipe Book Graveyard’ situated near my Dad’s ‘Telephone graveyard’….well that’s another story all together……so lets just stay on track.

This tendency to buy recipe books and just read them, not try a thing or try out something that was merely a hint of the original, comes to me, I believe, in a gene from my Mom.

I am not a strict follower of recipes. Wayward in many ways, I loathe following recipes…..and I don’t. Yet, most often than not, I strike success, brought about by another gene, also inherited from my Mom…..talent in the cooking department.
As a subscriber to the BBC Good Food Magazine, India , I enjoy reading the magazine, marvel at the photography and often plan what to cook. But never ever end up cooking anything from the magazine.
My son J, whined and whinged and flung back at me all the lectures we give him about valuing and making use of all that he gets/buys. “Well, Ma……YOU NEVER make anything from your Good Food Magazines!!

So Mama, that’s ME, slunk away, tail between legs……to cook….following a recipe from the magazine.

I searched in some of the latest issues and found the right recipe for me to follow. A Cake. An Orange and Almond Cake.

This cake was perfect. It looked stunning and was so different to anything I had baked before. I had, of course, previously done a Pineapple Upside down. But in this one, I liked the use of honey and orange rind (which is a flavour I am shamelessly partial to), as well as ground almonds in the batter!! Almonds, oranges, honey and of course eggs, how much more goodness could a girl wish for?

As I ate this cake and savoured every bite, I realised I really liked it. Every new mouthful revealed something different. Honeyed sweetness, followed by the bitterness of the orange rind, the nutty texture of the almond and the tang of the oranges. This is such a ‘grown-up’, ‘ adult’ cake. Yet my youngest, 8-year-old D, particularly liked it. She thought it looked stunning and was supremely delicious. Heaving a sigh of relief, that I had spawned children with superior taste buds thus feeling rather superior myself, I continued nibbling.

As I nibbled, savoring each bite….(think wine connoisseur swirling the glass of a particularly prime vintage and you’ll get the picture), I couldn’t help thinking about my bunch of friends. Wonderful women who have either already turned 40 or will be doing so over the next year or two…..and one very lovely 30-year-old who fits in with the rest of the ‘oldies.’ We are all stunning….and sunny. Nutty? Oh yeah….and love it that way. The hint of the rind, a reminder of another facet of our personality…..forthrightness and honesty….often thought of as cattiness. If that be so then MEOW!! But the citrus hit reminds me of all the spunk and ‘devil may care attitude’ that comes only with the age and I’d like to think…AHEM….maturity.

So this one is for all my lovely friends and family as well as all the women out there….who have embraced their forties and rock on with style and panache, wind-blown hair streaked with grey and the confidence to care a damn about whether the grey shows through or not. Who laugh so heartily not worried whether we look like a jackass but confident that any smiling, laughing face is gorgeous, neither does the thought of laugh lines cross our minds.

“We’re not 40, just 18 with 22 years experience.”

Go on try this one….its full of character and its sure to leave an impression on you just as much as it does on everybody.

Orange almond cake

ORANGE AND ALMOND UPSIDE DOWN.(adapted from the BBC Good Food Magazine)

4 Medium sized Oranges
6 tbsp honey
200 gm butter + extra for greasing
200 gm brown sugar
200 gm flour
2 1/2 tsp Baking powder
100 gms ground almonds
4 eggs.

METHOD:

* Pre heat oven to 180 deg C.

orange cake Jan 2013 015* Finely grate the zest from two oranges.

* Peel the skin of all the oranges using a serrated knife.

* Cut the oranges into thick slices.

* Grease a 9 inch round baking pan. Drizzle the honey all over making sure that it covers the entire bottom.

*Arrange the best slices of orange all over the bottom. car rally & orange cake Jan 2013 009

* Finely chop the remaining orange slices.

* Cream butter and sugar till its light and fluffy.

* Bit by bit add in the egg a little at a time, ensuring that its incorporated into the butter/sugar mix before adding some more.

* Sieve flour and baking powder together and add in the ground almonds.

* Fold the flour and almond mix into the wet mix, adding in the chopped oranges halfway through.

* Pour the cake batter over the Oranges and honey in the tin.

*With a spatula or wooden spoon, make a depression in the centre of the cake.This will help the cake rise evenly when baked and not ‘dome’.

* Bake at 180C for 50-60 mins or till a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

* Allow it to settle for around 5 minutes before turning it out.

* Serve as it is or drizzled with honey.

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Personally, I prefer the flavour the next day.

But I’m sure you know your own likes.

“At the age of 20, we don’t care what the world thinks of us; at 30, we worry about what it is thinking of us; at 40, we discover that it wasn’t thinking of us at all.”

So sit back with a piece of this cake and savour the sweet, the bitter, the tang and nuttiness……embrace it’s flavours and personality.

ENJOY!!

Entering this into the Tea Time Treats Citrus Challenge hosted by Lavender and Lovage and What Kate Baked.

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My Christmas Tree Memories

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Ok….so I know it’s already the New Year…..but these thoughts have been floating around my head and heart for the past month….ever since I put up my Christmas Tree.
My Christmas Tree is always up by the first week of December, especially coz its my daughter D’s birthday on the 7th.
Besides it makes Christmas last that much longer!! My home feels so special and even on years when we are away, I make sure that our house is decorated for Christmas, the star hangs on the balcony and the tree is put up.
This year as I put up my tree,I couldn’t help but be amazed at the amount of meaning it held. Not just the tree itself, but the ornaments, each one special in its own way.
As we hung up each ornament, so many wonderful memories came flooding back…..memories of people and places, years that were especially wonderful and others that weren’t.
Yes, Christmas is about Jesus and church, carols and pressies, food and wine…..but it is so much more as well. Christmas is about family and friends, laughter, reunions, and memories…..creating new ones and revisiting the old.
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Living in Chennai, India….we only have access to artificial trees. Ours was a gift from my sister ML in the first year of our marraige…..that makes it 15 years old! ML is my big sis…..8 years older than me. I followed her everywhere and in every way! Probably still do!! As I put up the tree, I think of her and her family….although she lives in another part of the world, we are lucky enough to meet every year, most often more than once! An expert ‘organiser’, I admire the way ML values family and connections, making sure she meets up with them each time she is back home, tirelessly keeping in touch by email or telephone calls, which has made me in the recent past reconnect with cousins and childhood friends, bringing me indescribable happiness.

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Brought by Dutch friends from Holland more than 30 years ago, this ornament hung on my husband V’s tree each year through his childhood. Although his siblings are scattered around the world, I marvel at how they all gel and connect on the rare occasions they get together. V values everything and believes in perseverance and hard work to achieve what you want. It’s a rare value in today’s world, one that I admire greatly.

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These namesake teddy bear ornaments are gifts from my sis to my kids
J and D, who bring us not just joy, but also keep us on our toes with their insistent questioning about everything. J has a deep sense of justice and I admire his integrity and courage to stand up for it, although I struggle to guide him on how to acheive this without seeming brash. Unfortunately in today’s world ‘falseness’ is the order of the day. Fake smiles, sweet yet untrue words are accepted so easily, yet those who tell us the truth plainly from their hearts are brushed aside just because we cannot face it. As I write this I realise that I have a few yet wonderful plain speaking friends. I am thankful for that. That I am surrounded by genuine smiles a gift I would wish under my tree every year.

D has a boundless amount of joie de vivre. Ever creative, she never fails to surprise us with her ‘surprises’!! Art, craft, dancing, cooking, acting, talking, sports and people all excite her. She is accepting of everyone teaching me to be more so…..tough, as I struggle to accept the differences I see around me. As a result, she makes friends effortlessly.

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Our first Christmas together was spent in KL, Malaysia as V was on a training course there all through the month of December. These ornaments were probably the first I bought for our tree. Accompanied by my childhood friend Nathan, who happened to be living in Kl at the time, I raided the post-Christmas sales. As I put these up, I think especially of all the wonderful boys and girls I grew up with. We never had a ‘curfew’ but yet never abused the freedom we were given. In the environment in India today, all of us parents with daughters are afraid….very very afraid. How do we teach our daughters to enjoy the company of the opposite sex without being suspicious or afraid?
How do I bring up my son to be like the boys I grew up with. They looked out for the girls and we had good clean fun without the fear of being misunderstood or taken advantage of. For that I am truly thankful for all our parents, especially mine, who brought us up to respect each other and to behave in such a way that we earned the respect of others. Yet we never knew we were learning this…..I wish for a gift under my tree that would give me the ability to be able to teach my kids this. href=”http://josmojo.wordpress.com/2013/01/04/my-christmas-tree-memories/sept-to-dec-2012-264/” rel=”attachment wp-att-546″>Sept to Dec 2012 264

From our time in Sri Lanka, a beautiful land filled with wonderful people. As I put these up I think of our neighbours, friends, extended family and the most wonderful group of Indian women who I met there.
What’s so unusual about a group of Indian women bonding? Well, we were of different ages and backgrounds and yet we gelled. The older ones, a good 15 to 20 years older than us, have taught me that age is just a state of mind. They were rocking then and are still today as well!
There was an extended family in Colombo, my sister’s in-laws, who drew us into the comfort of their homes, wooing us with the most amazing food and warm personalities, friends who were as close as family……I love SL for all these reasons and it will always be a place that is so special coz it was where my D was born.
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This little crochet angel, makes me think about Bandra…..the place where my heart belongs. I love the energy and the people who truly know how to enjoy life….dancing through it with smiles on their faces and music in their hearts. Creativity and effervescence abounds. I love to see the older folk rock any dance floor as much as the teens, the natural effortless style in everything and the fact that this has been a place that my family has lived in since the 1500’s (as far back as the records tell us…..probably longer!!) A sense of belonging that is unmatched!

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Just a few of the ornaments from around the world that remind me to be thankful for all the experiences I’ve had by meeting people of different cultures and for the gift of being healthy and lucky enough to travel to many interesting places.

These are just a few of the many ornaments that hang on my tree each year. Every year I add a few new ones. This year I got 2 picture frame ornaments from my friend Jo. Meeting her after a gap of 8 years set the tone for my Christmas season this year. Amazingly, I bumped into many more friends that I had not met in eons…..so these new ornaments will have pics of my reunion with 2 of my BFF’s that made my Christmas 2012.
As I get ready to take down my tree this weekend, I am grateful for all the people in my life, those who form a big part of it, as well as those who have breezed through. I believe there is always a reason for everyone and everything we encounter. So this New Year 2013, I look forward to all the ‘encounters’ that will fill my year.
May you too have a year filled with happy memories of old and memories created new.

Why Dulce de Leche is Doubly Sweet for Me…..

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A couple of years ago a very close friend of mine, Unnati, suggested I join an online baking club. I was skeptical, very very skeptical. But thought there’s no harm, I can always leave if I don’t like the way it works out.

Unnati, an architect by profession is a passionate cook and a budding wine maker. Check out her blog here. Along with some old friends and a couple of Indian woman from around the world we formed the ‘Flour Power Club.’

The objective was very simple. Each month one of the members has to post a baking challenge for the others to complete. The person posting the challenge should have never made the challenged recipe ever before.(even if the others had done so)

The very first challenge set was ‘Banoffee Pie’……a classic, surely, but one that did not sit well with me at all. 

I HATE bananas….period. There’s no more to say.

I was really disappointed, upset even. Regretfully, I wrote to the member who posting the challenge explaining why I was unable to participate in the challenge. She very kindly wrote back urging me to try at least the most important component of the pie, the DULCE DE LECHE…….

…….and I did! Not just the version she had posted, which involved boiling a tin of condensed milk for 3 hours, but the one which involved boiling milk, sugar and vanilla over a stove for the same amount of time till it thickened and caramelised.     

I did make a pie….not Banoffee….but ‘Peachoffee’, substituting the bananas with peaches.

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If you are a regular reader of my blog, you will know by now that food has always been part of my life. I have assimilated all my food knowledge as if by osmosis from home and topped it off and sealed it in when I studied food as part of my degree in Hotel Administration and Food Technology.

However, once I got married and moved to Chennai, I lost all interest in cooking, hating to cook the daily meals and ordering in food whenever we had guests.

But joining the Flour Power Club and my first brush with Dulce de Leche, changed all that.

Something piqued my curiosity to find out which method of preparing Dulce de Leche would give a better result.

Needless to say that the one that required that milk and sugar be boiled down to a caramel, beat the condensed milk dulce hollow. The colour was richer and the flavour so much deeper and more intense.

I am a firm believer that anything that takes time, that is gently simmered and needs your attention gives results far superior to the easy, quick fix methods.

As a true lover of food, not just good food, but food that is soooo good your taste buds just pop…..requires time, love and attention.

This was a lesson I learnt that day…..the day of the double dulce de leche.

But this trial also got me back on the foodie bandwagon…..and since then I am back with gusto in the kitchen churning out many delicacies…..but always full of flavour and goodness.

So for these reasons Dulce de Leche always strikes a chord with me……and whenever I make it, I always eat a dollop-full from a teaspoon…..relishing the intensely caramel-ly hit!

All with 3 simple ingredients…

So here is the recipe for Dulce de Leche I use:

1 lt Milk

1 1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 vanilla bean (split)

1/2 tsp baking soda

Method:

Bring the milk, sugar and baking soda to boil without stirring.

Remove the foamy layer that forms on top.

Add the vanilla bean at this point and simmer the mixture for an hour.

You will find that the colour will begin to deepen and the mixture thicken to a thick silky caramel.

I do not stand over the mixture but occasionally stir it. Only at the end when the caramel is thickening, ensure that you stir it to prevent it from burning.

Enjoy your dulce de leche in brownies, ice cream, ribbon it through cake batters, use it on toast or pancakes, or even in a mousse.

Here is the Dulche de Leche in various stages of caramelization:

  

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Basil……A Yarn and a Recipe.

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My kids love Pasta Pesto. It is a lunch box staple, which I have always prepared using the bottled Organic Pesto from Auroville.

However on my recent visit to Econut for my Organic provisions, I struck it lucky with a big bag full of fresh basil. I just couldn’t resist. I picked up a bag full of organic walnuts and extra virgin olive oil as well.

Although pesto is traditionally made with Basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil and a hard cheese like Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino, I decided to do a more economical version with walnuts and skipped the cheese altogether.

I guess here in India one would say I made a chutney.

Holy Basil or Tulsi is revered in India in every Hindu household, especially in those of Vishnu devotees.

Read this wonderful story from Hindu Mythology about the Tulsi plant here.

However the Christians, too, consider Basil holy especially the Greek Orthodox Church.

St.Helena, was born somewhere in the region of modern-day Turkey. Although just a stabularia or inn-keeper she married Constantius I Chlorus in 270 BC. They had a son Constantine.

As Constantius became co-regent or Ceasar, he had to, for political gain, forsake Helena and marry the step-daughter of the Emperor Maximinius Herculius.

Disgraced in a court that was full of intrigue and murder, Helena never fought her rival but faded into obscurity till her own son Constantine became Emperor. She then was bestowed with the title of Augusta or Empress.

Constantine was the first Roman Emperor to convert to Christianity. Legend says that he had a dream of a burning cross with a message that he should ‘in this sign conquer’. So he did, earning control over western Europe.

They say it was Constantine’s influence on his mother that made her too, embrace Christianity. She mingled freely with worshippers did many acts of charity and released prisoners too.

Although she was pretty advanced in age, Helena set out on a pilgrimage to Palestine, visiting Bethlehem, Jerusalem and Sinai. She built many churches and continued her charity work.

She was very keen to find the ‘True Cross’….the cross on which Jesus had been crucified.

She had been searching for many days, when on a barren hill outside Jerusalem she noticed a sweet-smelling plant. That plant happened to be Basil. She gave orders that the area under the plant be excavated and found the True Cross.

So to this day, especially in the Greek Orthodox Church,Sweet basil is used in the preparation of Holy water.

Two religions, both have reasons why this plant is so special…..and there are many more cultures that venerate the Basil. In many other cultures like Mexico, Romania and Italy it is associated with love.

Not just a ‘holy herb’, but also one which is full of health benefits!

It is one of the most highly regarded herbs in Ayurveda.

“Scientific research offers impressive evidence that Tulsi (basil) reduces stress, enhances stamina, relieves inflammation, lowers cholesterol, eliminates toxins, protects against radiation, prevents gastric ulcers, lowers fevers, improves digestion and provides a rich supply of antioxidants and other nutrients. Tulsi is especially effective in supporting the heart, blood vessels, liver and lungs and also regulates blood pressure and blood sugar.Dr. Ralph Miller, former Director of Research for the Canadian Dept. of Health and Welfare.

Makes me wonder at how religion often guided people towards what was good for them, not just spiritually but also physically and emotionally. The environment, too, benefited from many of the old rituals which ensured its protection.

Although I am not a regular church goer, my deeply Catholic upbringing, ensures that I have a prayer on my lips often. From this ability to just utter a silent prayer, I drawer a lot of strength. It has a calming meditative value about it which I treasure.

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So here is the recipe I used to make Basil and Walnut Pesto:

Adapted from http://cookieandkate.com

Ingredients

  • 2 lightly packed cup of basil
  • 2 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, lightly toasted
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt, to taste
  • squeeze of lemon juice
Instructions
  • Over medium high heat, toast the walnuts until fragrant, about three to five minutes.
  • Wash and dry the basil leaves
  • In a food processor, combine the basil, walnuts and garlic.
  • Pulse while drizzling in the olive oil. Do not over mix as I felt the pesto gets darker.
  • Remove the mixture from the processor and pour it into a bowl. Stir in salt and a squeeze of lemon (optional), to taste.

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I did not add in the cheese as I felt it would keep better this way.

When I made it for lunch, I added some grated cheese to the ready dish.

  • Pesto freezes well, so you can make a larger quantity and freeze for later use.
  • Traditionally made by hand in a mortar and pestle…..I did not have one large enough to take this quantity so I just made it in the mixie.
  • Make the pesto as soon as you get fresh basil.
  • I replaced the traditional pine nuts with walnuts…..it’s just as tasty.

Use it as:

  • A pasta sauce.
  • Marinade for grilled fish of chicken.
  • Stirred as a flavouring into soups.
  • Sandwich spread.
  • Healthy pizza sauce alternative.

Do you use pesto in any other way??

I’d love some new ideas

Moroccan Magic…..Chicken with Parsley and Corriander.

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Morocco.

Just saying the word makes me think of all things exotic.

Spices and unusual flavour combinations.

Brightly coloured, intricately woven carpets.

The sensuous mud and clay architecture.

Mt. Atlas and the Sahara.

Romance……Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman….SIIIIGHH!…..in CASABLANCA.

Winding labyrinths of the souks and the whiff of mint tea.

But this post is not about Morrocco….but rather about a recipe which I find just as exotic.

I love the combination of Parsley and Corriander…..unusual for us in India who regularly use coriander and mint together.

When I think back to when I first heard about Parsley, I remember the characters out of the Asterix and Obelix comics who used bunches of it in theirs ears to block off Cacaphonix’s cacophony.

I have been making this recipe for ages….not too sure where I got it from, but we all love it.

MOROCCAN STYLE CHICKEN

500 gms boneless chicken. (this recipe was originally with jointed chicken or around 1kg 300 gms)

2 small shallots (use sambar onions)

1 bunch of parsley

1 bunch coriander(equal to the parsley)

2-3 cloves garlic

1 1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper ( I use chili powder)

1 1/2 tsp ground cummin

3 tbs butter( I use olive oil instead)

1/2 -1 lime

Method:

Wash and cut the chicken into pieces.

Process the shallots, garlic, herbs, salt and spices in a food processor or mixer till finely chopped.

Add butter or olive oil and process to make a smooth paste.

Rub the chicken pieces with this paste and allow to marinade for @ 2 hours.

Squeeze lemon over and bake or broil till done.

Serve with Pita bread, humus and crudites

Enjoy!!

Aside

Every new academic year (in India it starts in June), I go through what is often termed as ‘starting trouble’.

I work as a resource teacher at a Montessori school, telling stories from mythology to elementary age group children.

My job involves linking topics that are part of the curriculum or current events, to mythological stories and folktales from around the world.

I absolutely love my job.

I love the fact that I learn so much through the research I need to do for each story, the imagination and creativity I need to exercise to present foreign mythology to kids aged 6-11 and the fact that I get to sing with them….story-songs, songs in other languages…..tops it all.

Yet every year, before I begin, I always wonder whether I really want to continue.

But just one class with the kids is enough to convince me that, I do.

I love their reactions, the interactions, their honesty and guilelessness.

They never fail to make me smile. It’s always a day well spent.

When I wrote the Pizza post…..‘The Need to Knead’, I remembered the most wonderful story that I tell my school kids.

This one comes from West Africa:

IYADOLA’S BABIES

Nyame the sky God was sitting bored up in the sky. So he took a basket, a big round basket, filled it with leaves and plants and trees.

He cut a curved hole in the sky so that he could push the basket out through it and he hung this basket from a cloud.

To see the basket better, he cut out a few jagged holes in the the sky.

The curved hole was the moon and the jagged ones the stars.

He enjoyed watching the blades of grass dance in the breeze, the leaves change their colour and the creepers wind their way around other plants.

But after a while this too was boring. So he took another basket and filled it with all kinds of wonderful creatures. Birds, animals, fish …..some soft and fluffy, others colorful, some huge, others minuscule, some fierce, others gentler.

He poured the contents of this basket out through the curved hole, into the first basket, The Earth.

He loved to watch the animals frolic through the cutouts in the sky.

Inside Nyame there lived two little spirit creatures. They loved to creep up to the edge of Nyame’s mouth or nose and look out onto the earth along with him.

One day while they were all watching the animals on the earth, Nyame sneezed…..a humongous Sky God sneeze!

Out tumbled the spirit man and woman, out through Nyame’s nose, through the holes in the sky and down into the earth.

Once they reached the earth they found it so different from the warmth and darkness of Nyame’s body. But soon they began to enjoy it. They loved walking on the soft grass and relaxing under the shade of a tree. They learnt to eat what they could find on the trees and bushes.

The spirit man began to make a few weapons and soon he was off hunting animals for their food, leaving behind the spirit lady in their cave home.

The spirit lady was very lonely as the spirit man never ever took her hunting.

She got a brilliant idea and told the spirit man that they should make little clay creatures that looked exactly like them. They could bake them in a fire, blow on them and make them come to life. They would be able to move and talk just like the spirit man and lady. They could be our children, she said.

The spirit man liked the idea and began to build a fire while the spirit lady moulded the clay children.

As they put the first few clay dolls into the fire and sat back to wait and see how they would come out, they heard Nyame come thundering through the trees. The spirit man and lady quickly pulled out the clay children, wrapped them in leaves and hid them under the bushes.

Nyame had just dropped by to check what the spirit people thought of the wonderful earth he had created. Then he stomped out the way he came in.

The spirit man and woman quickly made some more clay children……but as they put them in the fire, Nyame was back and they had no time to even pull them out of the fire.

‘Why are you sitting by a fire?’ asked Nyame. They mumbled something about how they were feeling cold, but as the sun was shining bright, Nyame did’nt seem convinced. As soon as Nyame left they pulled them out and wrapped them in leaves.

Every time they put more clay children into the fire, Nyame would unexpectedly pop by to check on them on some silly pretext or the other.

Finally, Nyame got hungry and went back up, to the sky.

The spirit man and woman unwrapped all the little clay children they had made. Such a variety of colours!! Some were in the fire for a very short time and so were very pale. Others had been there for too long and were dark, almost black. Then there were a whole range of different colours like yellow-brown, rosy pink, red-brown and plenty in between.

The spirit man and woman blew on these clay children and they all began to stretch out their legs and move….running around the earth.

Now the spirit lady was no longer lonely when the spirit man went hunting, her children kept her occupied.

The spirit lady would hug them all, loving each one equally.

The spirit lady is called Iyadola, which means ‘Earth Mother.’

I love this story, which explains how there are so many different skin colours in the world and the allegory that we were all baked……for different times…..but essentially all the same…..just clay, with a common Mother!!

Picture credits: http://dickinsg.intrasun.tcnj.edu/Docs/iyadola/iyadola.html

http://child-of-africa.blogspot.in/2007/09/beauty-of-human-diversity.html



Iyadola’s Babies…………A Yarn.

Move me to Sri Lanka……just for this…..LAMPRAIS! (Foodie Gyans and yarns-3)

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“The best things in life are the people we meet, the places we’ve been and the memories we’ve left along the way.”

 

There had to come a time when I would have to….. just have to write about Sri Lanka.

3 glorious years in Sri Lanka……and other than back home in Bandra, Mumbai……..a tiny bit of my heart rests there.

I loved everything about Sri Lanka….but the joie de vivre of it’s people reminded me so much of Bandra.

Like Bandraites, people here know how to enjoy life. Laughter and smiles flow easily as do graciousness and generosity.

The FOOD!!!!

Whoo hoo…..little shops selling ‘short eats’ all through the day…..cutlets, rolls, stuffed buns, puffs, patties, tarts and pastries.

My all time favorites were Fab and Green Cabin.

Again, all these reminded me of all our little ‘snack bars’ in Bandra.

Lovecake, Bruedher, Milk toffee, hoppers, idi-oppers, kiri-baath and so many more all have to be written about in detail…..but none more so than the Dutch Lamprais.

My link back to Colombo and the ‘Lamprais’ is thanks to my friend Shankari, who carts a load of them for me back form Colombo every year. The kids and myself wait eagerly, relishing every last grain of rice on the banana leaf.

Lamprais are something you either love or hate.

My hubby hates them……but all the more for us, we say.

They are available all over Colombo, made by  Burgher ‘Aunties’ who specialize in this. Everyone has their own favorite and mine was a beautiful lady called Jean just off Nawala Road and Lorraine who sells them at the Dutch Burgher Union.

The kids and I just LOOOOVE it !

So what are these LAMPRAIS I keep raving about.

 

Lamprais are made up of :

  • Short grained rice such as ‘Suduru Samba’ that has been cooked in a meat/chicken stock
  • Lamprais Curry which is a piquant gravy of diced meat, ideally boneless
  • Brinjal Pahi, a sweet n spicy fried brinjal preparation
  • Frikkadels, a crumb fried meatball of meat or chicken
  • Blachang, a finely grownd dried prawn ball flavoured with lime juice and chilly.
  • Seeni Sambol, made with fried onions, sugar and chilly.
  • Sometimes, Fried Ash Plaintain

 

All these are carefully arranged in a Banana leaf, wrapped into a packet and steamed.

The flavours all merge beautifully and a wonderful complex aroma hits you as you unwrap the leaf, causing your tummy to rumble in anticipation of this gastronomic delight!

Normally one would serve a boiled egg along with it.

According to my Burgher friend Annie, the Dutch Lamprais packets are small, as compared to the Sinhalese lamprais which are more like a lunch packet containing an enormous quantity of rice. I won’t waste my time on these.

A true Dutch Lamprais would not contain an egg within the packet nor would the meat be bone-in……so I was informed.

Whatever the case, Lamprais have me hooked for life. It was something I just had to carry back for family and friends every time we came to India on holiday.

 

The Legend of Lamprais

(From http://www.lankanewspapers.com)

“The Golden Age of Dutch exploration and colonialism in the 16th and 17th Centuries saw traders and armies of the Dutch East India Co. sail East from Holland with the Trade Winds, around the Cape of Good Hope and onto the East Indies in their quest for spices and riches. When the winds changed and favoured their return, the journey back home was most often by way of what was then called Zeylan. Their travels uncovered untold treasures and firmly rooted many traditions in most of the countries in which they settled. Possibly their greatest find for gastronomes would be the then humble lomprijst . Discovered in Java, the locals ate the small packets of rice wrapped in a banana leaf holding it in the palm of their hand. Typically, this would consist of a few leftover curries and condiments from the previous meal thrown together with a handful of rice and wrapped in the ubiquitous leaf. It was essentially a working man`s nourishment, carried on his person ready to be eaten whenever time allowed. The Dutch explorers knowing a good thing when they saw one and being good eaters in their own right, took the concept and refined it, adding a few touches of their own to produce what is now the elusive lamprais. Lamprais is an Anglicisation of the original Dutch term lomprijst , the origins of which are unclear, but could stem from either the Malay word klemper, which refers to a ball of lutinous rice wrapped in a banana leaf, or the Dutch words klomp, which means lump and rijst which means rice. Terminology notwithstanding, the contents of the lamprais is a highly debated topic amongst veterans of the chase.

 

So if you ever visit Sri Lanka….try this, it is such an explosion on your taste buds!

A Sunday afternoon favorite……but I won’t complain if its served during the week either!

I’d love to go back and live there just for this!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Forget the Frozen Pizza Dough!

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Remember when I made the whole wheat pizza dough?

If you don’t or are reading this blog for the first time….check it out here.

I froze a part of  it for later.

Well, the kids are back at school and I’m back to dusting the cobwebs off my creative brain cells, urging them to somewhat creakily wake up and think up interesting goodies to pack for lunch.

5 am…..Y A A AWN and S..T..R…E…C…….H………………

Desperate scramble for my morning jolt……a cuppa coffee…….

Light bulbs pop……hey there is some frozen pizza dough!!

I took the dough out and left it to thaw and rise again.

(You could leave it in the fridge the previous night)

Using the pizza sauce which I always have on hand, frozen, I sautéed some mushrooms, corn and leftover grilled chicken and mixed it with the pizza sauce.

Cut the dough into equal pieces….as many as you require.

Roll it out and put some of the filling along with some cheese.

Fold over and seal by brushing a little water or egg around the edges and pressing

with the help of a fork.

If you look carefully, you will notice that I have left a small corner unsealed.

This allows for the steam to escape and prevents the bread from splitting while baking.

Cover with a damp cloth and leave it to rise for @ 10-15 minutes.

Brush with egg wash before baking.

Bake at 200 deg C for 10 min or till firm and golden.

….And TAA DAAA…….

Perfect little CALZONE for the lunch box!  Delicioso!!!

CALZONE literally meaning a stocking or trouser is nothing but a folded pizza.

It’s filling consists of ingredients similar to pizza toppings.

My 7-year-old only eats a Pizza Margherita and hates any toppings on her pizza.

This is a great way to stuff all kinds of veggies into a bun…..it’s not visible!

But considering that it is a ‘totally cool’ lunch…..it goes down with pride!!

So don’t forget that frozen pizza dough………….

I talked to a calzone for fifteen minutes last night before I realized it was just an introverted pizza. I wish all my acquaintances were so tasty.
”

Jarod Kintz, This Book Has No Title

Aside

I cannot believe that it has been a month since I began blogging!

What started as a lark, with absolutely no plan, has panned out beautifully and I feel truly blessed.

I was new to blogging….still am, but I enjoy the lessons that it teaches me everyday.

In this one month, other than the first day, I’ve had hits on my blog everyday. Ranging from just 2 hits on a day to 165 on another and I enjoy watching the blog statistics.

It humbles me to see that visitors from countries like China, Colombia,Spain, Germany, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Japan and Philippines stop by. Places where I do not know anybody. Thank you for seeing something in my posts that interests you and ‘liking’ my posts.

Of course family and friends from India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, Canada and the US who take time to stop by and comment …..Thank you.

To those of you who have called, messaged,mailed and commented…..thank you….I thrive in your constant encouragement.

To those who have shared my blog on FB, Pinterest, Twitter…..please keep doing so, you guys have driven many more to my blog. Thank you and Mwah <3

To my fellow bloggers,  I know you only through your writing, and you, me, through mine.

Although its only been a month I can see a little circle forming, each of us encouraging the other.

To me this is the most profound part of blogging.

The ability to see and appreciate the beauty of another’s writing, approach, humor and candor, is  all encompassing…..bringing out appreciation, encouragement, awe and inspiration.

 This was nothing I could ever imagine as a non-blogger.

I thank you all again and again…….

But here I need to mention:

Deeba Rajpal of   Passionate about Baking.  The fact that an Indian living in India could have  such a beautiful blog was inspiring. Deeba very kindly answered my questions about recipe copyrights and I was on my way. Check out her blog for fabulous recipes and food photographs.

Thank you Deeba.

Aarti Mahesh, who’s casual comment, urging me to start a blog, wormed it’s way into my head and stayed there gnawing away till I did start.

My sister Mary-Lou who sent out a zillion emails to every one she knew telling them about my blog…..I’m sure she was single handedly responsible for  the 165 hits on day 5.

Sindu Sanjith…..I guess I could call you my most ardent follower…..Thank you for trying out so many of my recipes and posting them on FB…..I truly appreciate the effort.

Charmaine, Kuki….you too, your posts brought me many more hits.

My son J who helps me with the photo’s, an amazing creative writer, he is also my critic.

My hubby V and daughter D who put up with my late nights at the computer and patiently wait for their meal while I get the photo’s done!!

My parents who have instilled in me this love for food…….all my foodie knowledge was picked up by osmosis at home.

My Mama has also tried really hard to figure out the computer just to read my blogs!

There are so many of you to name…..so I will stop here….but THANK YOU ,THANK YOU, THANK YOU.

Today is also the day MOJO   started…….Mostly Organic by Jo.

Every Monday I bake mostly organic goodies which friends and family can pick up.

 Today we had Wholewheat Carrot and Apple Cupcakes and Mix fruit and nut Oatmeal Cookies.

Thanks to every one who did order and appreciated my products.

I’m happy to say that we supplied Redwood Montessori School who are committed to offering their children fresh organic produce.

June 11th 2012…..MWAAH!

A Month since JosMojo……and a new beginning….MoJo

Memories….Teriyaki steaks a la Papa.

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Memory, is a child walking along a seashore.  You never can tell what small pebble it will pick up and store away among its treasured things.  ~Pierce Harris, Atlanta Journal

A few months ago,when I connected with one of my old school friends on Facebook, she told me how one of her dearest childhood food memories was of the  ‘Teriyaki Steaks’ from my parents food store, ‘Majora.’

Then, a couple of weeks later, I got a call from a cousin in Bombay who wanted the recipe.

“I’m dying for the flavor of those steaks,” she said, “why don’t you share the recipe, now that Majora does not exist any more.”

But it obviously DOES exist in the memories of everybody who enjoyed it’s food.

It’s amazing that I had always taken Majora’s Teriyaki steaks for granted. They were marinated in-house and sold frozen, ready to broil. They were delicioso…..even if I say so myself.

It’s amazing how seemingly stray comments trigger memories. Most often these memories are multi-sensory.

You remember certain smells, textures, flavours, sights and sounds. Sometimes one of these, trigger memories that bring on many more…..of good times, friendships, special celebrations, which in turn trigger many more sensorial and emotional ones.

So I called my Dad, who was thrilled that I wanted his ‘world famous’ steak recipe.

Ofcourse he rattled off ingredients and I was left to figure off the quantities ‘andaaz sey’…..which in Hindi literally means using your own judgement.

I am pretty much someone who cooks ‘andaaz sey’……my own slap dash gourmet technique. But for the sake of putting down a recipe on this blog, here are the approximate quantities.

I urge you to please cook ‘andaaz sey” and taste as you go along. I like my marinade to lead with the sweet and then the salt.

Teriyaki is a Japanese method of cooking meat.

A piece of fish or meat which has been marinated in a sweet soy marinade (tare) and then broiled or grilled.(yaki)

TERIYAKI STEAKS A LA PAPA

Beef Tenderloin  750 gms  ( you could experiment with chicken as well, if you don’t eat Beef )

For the Marinade:

Ginger paste  1 tsp

Garlic paste 1 tsp

Mustard paste 1  1/2 tsp

Soya sauce 2 tbsp

Wine 4 tbsp

( should be rice wine but all I had at home was some French white which I added in. But red would be better with beef)

Brown Sugar 3 tbsp

Olive oil 2 tbsp

Method:

Cut the tenderloin into thick roundels and flatten using a steak hammer.

The hammering tenderizes the meat.  Covering with a piece of cling wrap, helps to prevent the meat from sticking to the hammer and damaging the steak.

In a bowl measure out the ingredients for the marinade and stir over a slow flame till slightly thickened.

When cool, pour over the tenderized steak and marinade overnight preferably or for a couple of hours at least.

Heat a skillet and when hot, broil steaks, covered,  till done and all the liquid has evaporated.

Keep basting the steaks from time to time if you are grilling them.

I served the steaks with Balsamic Roast Vegetables and a Jacket Potato.

There are so many special food memories we all have. Special treats made for special occasions or achievements.

What are yours?

Are there any aromas that trigger memories?

What about smells sights or sounds?

I’d love to hear from you.