A powerfully flavored spice typically used as a “tadka” (tempering in hot oil) ingredient in Indian dals and curries. Asafoetida is especially popular in Jain and Ayurvedic cooking, as an alternative to the strong flavors of onions and garlic.
I normally steer clear of over-the-top superlatives, but I have to make an exception for khad ki sabzi – this is truly THE BEST recipe I have discovered in a long time. A few simple vegetables cooked in ghee and lemon juice – and the effect is magic!
This aloo mooli kadhi (potato radish sticks in gram flour curry) recipe, adapted from Sanjeev Kapoor’s, is a simpler alternative to pakora kadhi, besides being an interesting way of adding radish (mooli) to the diet. The Indian white radish has a taste so powerfully pungent that one can’t have much of it raw. I like mooli paratha, but other ways of cooking mooli don’t excite me. Aloo mooli kadhi, though, had me sold from the word go. The potatoes tone down the sharpness of mooli, and the yogurt and gram flour cloak it all in a rich, delicious sauce.
Red pumpkin bharta is a dry preparation of pumpkin, a simpler version of red pumpkin curry with stronger notes of mustard oil.
Unlike traditional bharta (mashed vegetables) like baingan bharta, this one does not use boiled/roasted vegetables as its base. Pumpkin cooks quickly and mashes easily without pre-treatment. This is also a chunky bharta instead of a typically smooth one, which works well with pumpkin.
Banana blossoms aren’t something I use often in my cooking – the effort of peeling and cutting is a major deterrent. This time I found a pack of pre-peeled banana blossoms at the grocery store and decided to give it a go.
Pretty kicked about how this recipe of banana blossoms with mustard ginger seasoning turned out. Hope you like it as much as I did.
For a long time, the only way I knew how to eat papad was as a plain accompaniment with an Indian meal (usually khichdi), much like chutney or pickle. I liked papad, just that it didn’t seem all that *consequential*.
When I moved to Bombay, my friends there would order masala papad as a starter in restaurants. This was something new, something interesting – papad as a standalone dish, and a mighty good one at that. I started experimenting with papad in curries – very convenient on days when I opened the vegetable tray of the fridge and found nothing.
I discovered ridge gourd only after moving to south India. The first time that I bought it, my motivator was curiosity – I had no idea how this vegetable, which looked a cross between sponge gourd and bitter gourd, would be cooked, or what it would taste like. Pushcart vendors outside my apartment stocked ridge gourd in heaps, and it seemed to be the freshest, most abundantly available vegetable on sale. One day I walked up to a vendor, pointed and tried to ask him in gestures (I did not know Kannada) to name the vegetable. In response, he swiftly wrapped two ridge gourds, held out the package to me, and named the price.
And so I returned home, ridge gourd package in hand, and typed into Google image search: "long green Indian vegetable with spikes". Google did not disappoint – I found not just the name but also many ways to cook ridge gourd.
Weekdays are busy times for many of us who come back from work late evening and then fix a meal. We want weeknight dinners to be easy to put together, taking little time to move from kitchen to plate. [Not counting the blessed few like Rohit’s boss with the gusto to whip up a fancy meal at that hour]
One could cook loads on Sunday and freeze for the week. But that’s not so exciting, is it? So how does one reach that elusive balance between easy+quick (pre-cooked) and tasty+interesting (freshly cooked)?
Here’s a middle ground.
Make-ahead food parts. Mix and match. Embellish.
Use the Pareto Principle to your advantage: identify the steps in cooking that consume a majority time and labor, and do them beforehand. The chopping of greens. The slow-frying of spices. The boiling of dal. When the time comes to make your weeknight dinner, all that remains to be done is the remaining 20% of cooking that produces 80% of the result.