Feb 20, 2009

Gajanana - Elephant Faced Lord

Here's what I like to talk about now - I just visited India last month. Did a ton of shopping! I was at Madras to meet relatives and also for shopping! Boy..did I shop! It was like I was marking my attendance in all the big shops in ranganathan street and panagal park!

My husband's cousin suggested that I go to Sundari Silks and shop for all the little beautiful things they have there. And so I followed her advice. That was the only shop I left out and now I was going to go there.

The store was really beautiful - kind of had a thanjavur periya veedu style to it. The layout of the store was nice. And they had beautiful stuff in there. I picked up some tops for my friends and got some fake jewelry for myself. I got this Ganesha from there too. I just love to have little statues of Ganesha..he is just so lovable. Really liked this wood carved Ganesha.

Now, the reason I bought this was to hang it outside our new home. When we had our grahapravesam, I had invited my friends over for the puja. One of my friends mother-in-law came for the puja and even helped me fry the vadas! Now, that mami told me that since our house is kind of in a corner with 2 streets meeting at our entrance, it's good if I place a ganesha at the entrance. I'm not a superstitious kind of a person but I do like to listen to some of these 'good advices' from the elderly. They do know way more than I do. And they do tell us stuff for our good. And besides, it gave me a good opportunity to go shopping! haha!

So, when I saw this Ganesha, I thought this was perfect to hang outside. Not too big. Not too jazzy. Ok. so that's settled. This will go on the wall outside near the door. But, I keep wondering what the legend is behind this? What is the reason that we place an idol of God especially if the house has 2 or 3 streets meeting in front of it. Is there a specific story to this? Hmmm..maybe I should ask the mami when I meet her next.

Anyways..I'll just think this little Ganesha above will protect my house. And that's why he's my security guard outside! The all-protector.

Feb 15, 2009

Kachori Chaat- Aloo Mutter

Last week, as per my menu, (see I'm sticking to it), I made Kachori chaat on Friday. My Kachori's turned out great but the chaat part was so-so. I liked them just plain with ketchup.

I started out by referring to my Sanjeev Kapoor's chaat book which by the way is very good. But, his recipes called for all shelled green peas. And if there is one vegetable that both my husband and daughter hate and gulp down with water if they absolutely have to eat is green peas! So, I did not want to put them through the misery ..so I substituted that with Aloo Mutter.
Here's the recipe if you want to try it -

For the Filling:
Aloo (Potatoes) - 5 - 6
Green Peas (1/2-1 cup)- i did cook them throughly and sneak it in between the potatoes - but I have to tell you that my daughter did manage to pull them out from her mouth and put it on her plate midway while eating!
Green Chilli - 2-3 depending on your heat level
Ginger - shredded finely
Garlic - cut into small pieces - maybe 1 -1 1/2 tsp

Pressure cook the potatoes so that you can mash them up well. Add a little bit of oil to the pan and when hot, add jeera, green chilli, ginger and garlic. Fry them up well and be sure not to burn them. Then add the cooked potatoes to this. Since I use frozen green peas, I microwave them in a little water for about 5- 6 minutes so that they cook a little bit and don't smell raw. Then I add the cooked peas to the potatoes. Now to this add salt, pinch of tumeric, red chillli, any masala - it could be garam masala. My secret is that I open up my masala dabba and add a pinch of all that will go with this - that is a little bit of garam masala, a little bit of pav bhaji masala..a little but of channa masala. Dont add pulav masala - that won't be too good.
Once you add them all, take out your masher and mash all of these really well. You would see that it starts coming together and leaving the sides of the pan. You are ready. Switch off your stove and stand there watching this for 30 mins - I'm kidding..walk away...let this cool down. If you can, make this filling in advance and keep. Its easy to work with if this is cooled down completely.

Now for the covering of the Kachori:
1 and 1/2 cups Maida
Pinch of Baking Soda (Sodium Bicarbonate)
1/4 tsp ajwain
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp of pure ghee - (here's my trick - heat it up really nice and then mix it with the maida)
1 glass of cold water

Mix all the dry ingredients together. Now add the warm ghee to this. Mix it up with your hands and break all the lumps that form with the ghee. Now to this, add cold water little by little and knead it well. Don't use a lot of water. The firmer the dough, the better your kachoris will be. But they do have to be soft. So knead well. Or if you are one of those gadget people, use your food processor to make a stiff dough.

Now you are all ready to start Kachoris. Take a deep breath. Stretch your arms and legs. Do a round of Yoga. Come on, you are after all eating kachoris - can't you warm up a little bit!

Take a small piece of the dough and roll it out into a chappathi. You dont have to make it too big. Place a small round ball of the filling inside this and pull the cover over all side making a nice pattern on top. Just use a drop of water to seal the edges on top so the Kachori does not open up while frying. Now finish up all of the dough and the filling. Here's how it will look.

Now, take your kadai, add enough oil to cover the kachoris and heat it up. Once the oil is hot, add Kachoris and deep fry them. I use a small kadai and hence fried them one by one so that they all enjoy their hot bath! So, give them their space.

Here's how they are after their bath - they did get a tan!

Now - my intial plan was to make kachori chaat. To do that, just crush a couple of Kachori's above and add green chutney and tamarind chutney. Take a small cup of yogurt and jeera powder or chat masala and a little red chilli powder to that Sprinkle some of that yogurt mixture on top of the chutneys. Enjoy it now. Or you could just eat them hot with Ketchup. I loved that!

Monthly Menu

So here's the deal. There is one thing I hate about everyday life. Planning what to cook for dinner. This might sound like I'm looney or something..but the only meal I cook is dinner. We eat cereal or oatmeal for breakfast and I don't consider pouring milk and adding stuff to it as cooking. Since we both work, i don't cook lunches in the morning. I cook fresh dinner everyday and cook a little more quantity so we can pack the same stuff for lunch the next day.

Now if my dinner is so good that we finish it off (high hopes) the same night, I fix a quick lunch like dahi rice for my husband and I end up eating subway or maggi or cup o noodles (my all time fav)!

So, in order to carry out my master plan of cooking dinner, I call my husband at work and ask him "Honey - what do you think we should have for dinner?" or on my pms days - "what the hell do you want me to make for dinner?" And no matter how kind or rude I'am to him - his standard answer to my question is - "Whatever" or "whatever you want" or "whatever you feel like". And that pisses me off! Now, do you see why I hate this one thing about everyday life.

So, one day I decided that on the last day of each month, I would plan a menu for the next whole month so that I can plan what to make each day. And planning in advance helps me buy groceries and things I need to cook my exotic dishes! So, here's my menu for Febraury. Now, I'm not pinkie swearing that I stick to this like dust sticks to a fallen bubblegum. But I try. I should say that I accomplish about 80% of what I plan but sometimes I fall off...maybe I had too much left over food..or maybe I planned to invite someone over for dinner..or maybe some kind friend invited me over to dinner and i get to be cook-free that day..whatever reason that might be.

Obviously you cannot read what' writted below - because I cut paste this from excel to paint and then pasted it on here - so just click on the pic and that will open it up nice and big for you.

Why Mriganayani?

Hello All,

Welcome to my blog. This is where I'm going to be spending my lazy Sunday afternoons..when all my family is sleeping peacefully.

Let me start off with why I named my blog Mriganayani - that happens to be one of my favorite words/names all my life. I heard it first when I was a little girl and it stuck with me forever. Mriganayani, a hindi word, in literal mean a doe's beautiful eyes. But, it is very commonly used as a word  to describe anything beautiful. A thing of beauty. Its been used many times in Bollywood songs too - the hero running behind trees calling the love of his life - Mriganayani...

I always wanted to name my kid Mriganayani - but thought that won't work out well. She's going to be teased all her life for having a name that is difficult for many to pronounce. Then, one day I thought maybe I can open up my own business or restaurant and can name that Mriganayani - that would be exotic. But, I never got to that point yet in my life. So, I had this ache to name something Mriganayani...so here we are finally!

I started this space thinking I'd blog about anything that comes to my mind. But, as time went by, I realized that I have an unparalleled passion for cooking and what better place to put all of my cooking experience than my own blog. And food by itself is such a beautiful thing. There are only two things that connect people universally - food and music. I'm no musician, so my beautiful space here will be all about food.

So - if you need to spend your lazy sunday afternoons reading stuff that's pure time-pass, welcome to my blog! Enjoy your visits - I hope I can inspire you also to cook..coz cooking is a beautiful thing.

Anu Nandu